Fated to Love You is a 20 episode 2014 Korean drama about a shy girl and dynamic man whose initial encounter results in pregnancy and a subsequent marriage. Their road to love is not straightforward or easy.
Nutshell Summary: I enjoyed this show. The initial love phase of the series was exceptional. The noble idiocy estrangement phase was too long. The reunited phase made me happy.
Nutshell Pluses: Lead actors were superb. The love story established in the first phase was captivating.
Nutshell Minuses: Disease derails our couple’s love as he embraces noble idiocy driving her away. The wait is long for resolution.
What I liked about Fated to Love You:
* Lee Gun (Jang Hyuk), male lead, was the pivotal powerhouse of this series. Jang Hyuk brought flair and idiosyncrasies to his character, Lee Gun. His facial expressions were rich and nuanced. His tenderness was palpable. Lee Gun’s support for the female lead character, Mi Young, was unwavering. Lee Gun was, in many ways, the perfect leading man. I’m not sure I can do Jang Hyuk’s performance justice. Jang Hyuk was the lynchpin for the drama. He played this character with zest and zeal. Without Jang Hyuk, the character of Lee Gun would not have been as riveting. He committed to his portrayal and created magic on the screen. Frankly, I do not always separate the characters from the actors. I clearly saw Jang Hyuk’s skills in this series. It enhanced my enjoyment of the series, knowing that A grade actors were the leads.
* Mi Young (Jang Na Ra), female lead, was the other half of our lovely couple. Jang Na Ra brought a quiet dignity and kindness to her character, Mi Young. Her understanding and willingness to see the good in others naturally drew people to her. She relished the idiosyncrasies of Lee Gun. I felt Jang Na Ra’s performance was under the radar for much of the series. Then she took over in episode 18 with her riveting confrontation of Lee Gun at the press conference, THE moment for the character in the series. The trust that Jang Na Ra and Jang Hyuk had in each other allowed them to render memorable moments. Subtlety was her acting method. Her character provided the balance in our couple.
* Daniel Pitt (Choi Jin Hyuk), the second male, was the supportive friend to Mi Young. He wanted romance in the second half of the series but Mi Young could not get over her love for Lee Gun. Frankly, Choi Jin Hyuk was eye candy during this series. His character’s impact was the strongest in the initial episodes as he supported Mi Young and pushed Lee Gun to treat her well. His character fizzled in the latter part of the series.
* Secretary Tak (Choi Dae Cheol) was the confidant and right hand man for Lee Gun. This character was a consistent bright spot and provided humor and fun almost every episode in this series. From the bottom pats, high fives, freezes, etc. this character had gusto that was fun to watch. In many ways he was a mini-Lee Gun with a flair for the zany but he balanced Lee Gun too (just like Mi Young).
* Compelling couple. If you do not like Lee Gun and Mi Young then you do not like romantic comedies. This pair delivered memorable moments full of kindness and tenderness in the first phase of the series. When the noble idiocy and separation phase ended in episode 18, this pair managed to recapture their previous appeal. Frankly I wondered if it was possible for them to return to their initial glory as a couple, but they did it and won me back.
* Stylish Men. Lee Gun and Daniel Pitt were the two peacocks of this series. Their outfits and hair were bold and beautiful, especially in the first half of the series. I do not think I have every noticed a stylist’s impact on a show like this.
** Daniel Pitt’s flair for fashion
** Lee Gun’s flair for fashion
What I did not like about Fated to Love You:
* Brain disease plot point derails our couple. The nebulous, undiagnosed, threatening brain disease had Lee Gun jump into the deep end of the noble idiocy pool. When the disease was declared unlikely in the final episode, I was appalled the writers chose to have the couple and viewers suffer for seven long episodes and then casually dismiss it at the end. This sloppy story telling and fateful choice by the writers effectively torpedoed one of the most delightful rom-coms in the first phase of the series into a morose mass of estrangement of our couple in the second phase of the series. If I am not being clear, this show was wonderful, but this plot choice hurt the show and permanently changed its trajectory from great to good.
* Se Ra character had limited story line and was not interesting or compelling in any way. The way this character was conceived left little for the actor to do. Could have been a worthy character but was not.
* The production value of the first 5 episodes were striking. The stylist’s color palette was impactful, the camera work strong (notable in the first episode was the ring chase when the ring flies into the air and both leads slip on the balls), the writing was tight, wasted scenes were not evident.
* The secondary characters contributed. Step-brother, Mi Young’s Mother, Lee Gun’s Grandmother, Se Ra, Mi Young’s sisters / brother-in-law / factory president, Lee Gun’s step-mother, Lawyer Hong, Dr. Octopus, and Se Ra’s mother. I did NOT strongly dislike any character, a minor miracle for a drama. Hamo, hamo!
* The writers, Joo Chan Ok and Jo Jin Kook, crafted a three phase story.
Phase 1: Episodes 1 through 10 was the initial love phase with the fateful first night, marriage, and falling in love of Mi Young and Lee Gun. These exceptional episodes were full of the joy of falling in love. I LOVED this phase of the show.
Phase 2: Episodes 11 through 17 was the noble idiocy estrangement phase. It began when Lee Gun suffered amnesia. Lee Gun erroneously believed a hereditary brain disease was in play. With that assumption, Lee Gun made his farewell tour in episode 12, pulling away from everyone he loved. This noble idiocy isolated Lee Gun and separated our couple. What is my primary complaint? This was unnecessary. The miscarriage in that episode would have been a sufficient estrangement plot point. This is what the original Taiwanese writers did and it worked. I ENDURED this phase of the show.
Phase 3: Episodes 18 through 20 was the reunited phase. Episode 18 was the moment our couple ended their estrangement due to the bold public declaration of love by Mi Young. Episodes 19 and 20 were the payoff with marriage and a happy future for all the characters. It was a pleasure to have 3 episodes of happiness for our couple. I ENJOYED this phase of the show.
OST. Seven primary songs are in the seven part Fated to Love You OST. There is also 16 track compilation OST:
* Morning of Canon by Baek Ah Yun, Fated to Love You OST Part 1
* Be the One by Jeff Bernat, Fated to Love You OST Part 2, my favorite song from the OST
* Ready for Love by Megan Lee, Fated to Love You OST Part 3
* You’re Like Fate by Jung Dong Ha, Fated to Love You OST Part 4
* My Girl by Ken of VIXX, Fated to Love You OST Part 5
* Like a Goodbye Moment by Ailee, Fated to Love You OST Part 6
* Because I Don’t Know Love by Melody Day, Fated to Love You OST Part 7
Seven primary songs from the OST in my YouTube Playlist (link or embedded below)
Last pics as we fade to black…
Fated to Love You
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | Series
You may also be interested in my article Face-off: Fated to Love You which compares the Korean and Taiwanese series.