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.
* The snail was used throughout this series to represent Mi Young and her ability to burrow into Lee Gun’s heart. The snail hand gesture became a symbol for our couple too.
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.
Hi! Its interesting that you felt the separation as long although technically the actors never stopped appearing on the same scenes together for one second 🙂 We got a time jump and then the text conversations between Unni and Mi Young kept them together. I felt their chemistry strongly then so I knew it would still be there. But I guess we were uncertain as to how Mi Young especifically would be after she learned the truth. I liked that both characters evolution was subtle. It felt realistic.
To clarify, I renamed it noble idiocy estrangement phase. The scenes together was not the point, it was their estrangement, their disconnect, her disdain, his push and pull, that went on too long in my book.
Yes, that is what it was 😉
I was one of the people who didn’t want the writers to write off the disease because a major theme in the drama. And in my opinion they did not. I don’t understand why people think Geon doesn’t have the illness when Dr Octopus only said “I think you can now feel relieved” but he said that from the beginning that if Geon passed his 40th birthday he should feel more hope. This DOES NOT mean he is off the hook. He can still have the illness, it is just less common (in the drama’s universe) I think dismissing the illness simply as plot device is a mistake because it makes miss one of the main points this version is trying to make which is “be happy, here and now, don’t worry about the future”. Some of the most emotional beautiful scenes also happended during the separation, when Gun recovered his memory, when Gun discovered Lollipop man, when Mi Young kissed him at the presscon. Their reunion wouldn’t have had the same impact otherwise. I don’t think the miscarriage alone separated the couple in the original. It was the actions of the male lead at the beginning which accumulated in the female lead subconscious. It was also the fact that he wavered. Didn’t he stay with his girlfriend? Geon was a different person and his relationship with Mi Young had a different dynamic. I don’t think a miscarriage would’ve separated them, on the contrary. They needed a different conflict which in this case was consistent with the character since Geon had been presented as paranoid about his death from Ep 1. He mentioned it during the dog chase. Here is something that was posted on Soompi by yskj which expresses my thoughts better than I could:
Going by his reactions, we can tell that the possibility of developing HD is something he’ll always worry about. He was most anxious to know the doctor’s assessment of his test results and as soon as he was told they are “clean” he was relieved and relaxed immediately. When the doctor adds further that he thinks Geon should be able to live the rest of his life without much worry, Geon just reacted coolly. It wasn’t a revelation to him. I think he’ll still worry and keep going for these medical tests every 6 months to constantly monitor himself. So the HD fear is still very real and will always be a sobering undercurrent in Geon’s life BUT the big difference now is he feels strong and optimistic to deal with it because of Miyoung. She’ll always be his rock. She’ll always be there to keep reassuring him that she doesn’t regret marrying him, that she’s thankful that he’s with her “right here and now”.
Agree with you so much about the disease being an important part of the plot! Its interesting to see how everyone has different views about things. What others see as crucial, important, someone else sees it as the opposite. I really love the end of episode 17, so heartbreaking but redempting! Ive watched this three years ago and watching this again now. Love it so much. The osts, especially “Goodbye My love” were used a lot ( I LOVE that ost!!) and that elevated the emotional feels of this drama.
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Agree with you so much about the disease being an important part of the plot! Its interesting to see how everyone has different views about things. What others see as crucial, important, someone else sees it as the opposite.
Well stated Ann. The murkiness of the disease, that is was never confirmed, bugged me. As you noted it was a huge driver in the second half of the series.
I LOVE that ost
It IS good OST isn’t it? 🎵
Thanks for sharing!
yet to see the last 2 eps….but I loved the show a lot…the Jangs has amazing chemistry and inspite of the separation and noble idiocy, I want to ignore that part….as my emotional connection was very strong with the characters.
My only complaint is that some characters were ignored a lot like the second leads and grandma
I am agree that the second leads story was diluted (Daniel) or nonexistant (Se Ra).
Mi Young and Lee Gun were a terrific couple. Enjoy the last 2 episodes, that is the payoff for enduring the estrangement period.
I think the writers were inspired in part by the old movie “An Affair To Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, where CG was the artist and DK the noble idiot. Any fans of FTLY should check this movie out and see what I mean.
That is an interesting idea. I know the 1957 movie. I can see where you draw the analogy.
That story is so good that the have been LOTS of remakes including a musical (Judy Garland/Jommy Stewart) called The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail (Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks).
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The last time these two were together was … Story of a bright successful girl. Iight have that name wrong… But i’ve been a jang hyuk fan since. Jang nara is as always, perfect.
I underestimated jang nara initially thinking jang hyuk overpowered her. But her character turned out to strong and decisive, which I adored. jang nara played that pitch perfect.
I actually watched “Sucessful Story of a Bright Girl” after watching this and that show starts with JH and Jang NaRa trying to retrieve-find KH’s character’s ring too!
I think there were a few other “tributes” as well.
ktAmuser mentioned the Chuno themes in her Ep. 1 recap and a couple of others, but I know there were more references but I can’t recall them.I’ll be watching for them when I rewatch this.
Here it is a year later and I’m commenting and thinking of re-watching this series (and since I’m a new follower of ktamuser,I’m checking out her other recaps).
I still don’t understand the art/posters for this show. Why is Jang NaRa always shown floating? And why a french maid costume? I don’t get where either theme is representative of this show?
I agree the posters were more conceptual rather than representative of the drama. Koala’s playground has an explanation:
Thanks ktjamuser. I’m only just now seeing your response. Thanks again.
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Good review as seems to be standard. 🙂 One thing I didn’t like was the almost slapstick way the President and brother-in-law acted in the beginning episodes to get Gun to drink the magic potion. I can suspend disbelief enough to accept a magic potion, as K-dramas seem to have lots of this kind of stuff–what am I saying–so do American rom-coms! But the ultra silly stuff almost made me turn this series off and move on. I’m glad the entire thing wasn’t like this, as I would have missed a nice little series, with, as you clearly tell us, featured to great lead actors. Oh, I really disliked “Daniel.” He starts off the first few episodes as a bald-faced LIAR. Why is he at all attractive as a person? I thought to myself, at some point he is going to try to get this girl, whether she has another guy or not. And of course he does. Why do K-dramas always seem have to have a guy trying to take the girl from her boyfriend/husband (or girl trying to take a guy from his girlfriend/wife)? Maybe this is just my personal pet peeve. 😉 –Mark
@Mark F. – while I detest cheaters, I think in this case, Daniel was aware that Gunn was not treating Jang Nara well right off the bat and I think he saw the pre-divorce papers before the marriage had even gotten out the gate. So it wasn’t a real marriage as Gunn was still idolizing SoRa (I think that was her name. It’s been a while since I watched this. )
I didn’t care for the Daniel character either but for other reasons.
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I see your points, Beez, thanks. –Mark
Korean dramas often have this element of slapstick that you either love or hate. I’ve learned to go with it, though it is not my favorite. If you haven’t watched “She was Pretty” that has a slapstick element but it was decent and not overly distracting.
The second lead trying to get the lead is standard kdrama fare. If you ever watch the Taiwanese version you will be presented with over-the-top acting by some secondary characters but a much more interesting “Daniel” (“Dylan” in the Taiwanese version). I was disappointed the Korean version didn’t take more of the Taiwanese story line for this character. It would have made him more palatable.
Glad you are enjoying kdramas and sharing your thoughts!
By the way, thank-you for interacting with your followers. It makes your blog all that much more interesting. It’s really appreciated. –Mark
The interaction makes blogging more interesting for me too!