Nutshell Summary: Pinocchio is 20 episode 2014-2015 Korean drama about four cub reporters at two different networks. One of the reporters has the Pinocchio syndrome, which means she is unable to lie without a physical tell, the hiccups. Ethical reporting, revenge for past injustices, and family and personal love are major story lines in this series.
1. Layered complex story. This series was written by Park Hye Ryun, who wrote the riveting “I Can Hear Your Voice” and the adorable “Dream High”. The premise of our leading lady being unable to lie was intriguing. It was used to the character’s benefit and determent during the series. As a young boy, our leading man and his family was terribly wronged by the leading lady’s mother who practiced unethical reporting for high ratings. The revenge against this cold hearted reporter was compelling. Our leading man and his brother took different tacks to achieve revenge. The romance between the leads focused on their support of each other during the trials and tribulations of this series, while the actual romance took a back seat for sections of the series. When I watched this series I realized two thirds of the way through, what writer Hye Ryun accomplished in 12 episodes most other writers could not pack into a 16 episode series. When I finished the 20 episode series, the complexity and relentless drive of the story was evident. The writer, Hye Ryun, is superb.
2. Good acting. This series was cast with actors that brought it and delivered compelling performances. I was impressed with the emotional punch the well known and lesser known actors gave this series.
1. Not all the characters had a rich story line. The fab four cub reporters were really the fab three as the fourth reporter, Yoon Yoo Rae, had little story during this series.
2. Cited reasons for our couple not being together did not resonate. The excuse “we can’t be together because I’m not good enough for you, your father doesn’t accept me, grandfather will not accept our relationship” etc. bug me. Then why did you engage in the romance in the first place if you would eventually bail due to these excuses? This felt forced and unnecessary.
Characters that Worked:
1. Leading lady, Park Shin Hye, delivered emotional on point scenes as Choi In Ha. This is the best acting I’ve seen from Park Shin Hye. Based on previous series, I considered the actress competent, a pretty crier and a terrible kisser. She flipped my assumptions. She dug deep and provided emotional content to her scenes, whether it be anger, shock, sadness, support of her man or playfulness. Her burden in this series was her cold uncaring mother (portrayed effectively by Jin Kyung) and the ramifications of her mother’s actions on the man she loved. Color me surprised when Shin Hye moved her lips during a lovely kiss in episode 8. Typically Shin Hye has practiced the lip press method of kissing (press lips and stay still) which is unsatisfying (and should be banned). Her previous best kiss was the final kiss in Flower Boy Next Door, which was also her best performance to date. Pinocchio topped that. The In Ha character had depth and Shin Hye delivered a good performance.
2. Leading man, Lee Jong Suk, was unafraid to deliver emotional content in his scenes as Choi Dal Po. You could argue that he over emotes, but that is better than the alternative. His single minded focus during the revenge section showcased his intensity, glee, and horror when he realized he followed an unethical path in securing revenge. His chemistry and interactions with all the characters was solid and natural. His chemistry with Shin Hye was great, they seemed comfortable together. I’m giving Jong Suk the credit because I’ve only Shin Hye have this level of chemistry with him. Jong Suk even managed to rock a horrible wig. Jong Suk cries pretty too.
3. Revenge driven brother Ki Jae Myeong, portrayed by Yoon Gyun Sang, provided the zeal of the revenge story. He wasn’t afraid to cross ethical lines to garner revenge, and you almost gave him carte blanch to do so, he made it seem justified. Jae Myeong’s performance was a surprise and a gift to this series.
4. Second lead Seo Bum Jo, portrayed by earnest appeal by Kim Young Kwang, wasn’t ever a real contender to block our couple. Frankly, that didn’t matter. It was his personal story, his desire to succeed and the eventual unmasking of his mother (portrayed to perfection by Kim Hae Sook), that was compelling.
Moments I Remember:
1. Best use of cones for umbrellas, episode 2. Dal Po was darling as he provided a make shift umbrella for In Ha when they were teenagers.
2. Dal Po framing In Ha with his hands and sliding down the wall together with her, episode 4. Simple but effective way of keeping her attention.
3. First kiss had sizzle, episode 8. This was a beautifully frame and produced kiss sequence. Did I mention Shin Hye actively participated in the kiss?
4. Revenge driven brother became the darling of the media for his heroics. Oh the irony that he was out to get the media for their past mistreatment of his family.
5. Shaving scene, episode 18. Darling playful scene with a hint of heat.
6. Last episode when everything came together and justice was served. I liked that we got to see our couple happy together at the end.
Would I recommend this series? Absolutely. The story was rich, multi layered, and kept going until the last episode. The actors gelled into a terrific ensemble cast. The leads had chemistry and delivered a couple that evolved from teenage interest to an adult relationship based in mutual support and love.
The OST was released in 9 parts during the series. The compilation OST has 15 songs and features two songs by Park Shin Hye. My favorite song of the OST was Dreaming a Dream by Park Shin Hye. She has a soft breathy voice that fit this song perfectly. OST details are available at dramawiki. Check out the OST via the playlist link or embedded below.
1. First Love by Tiger JK featuring Punch
2. Pinocchio by Roy Kim
3. Non-fiction by Every Single Day
4. Love is Like Snow by Park Shin Hye
5. The Only Person by K.Will
6. Kiss Me by Zion.T
7. Passionate to Me by Younha
8. You’re the One by Kim Bo Kyung
9. Dreaming a Dream by Park Shin Hye
10. Challenge by Every Single Day
11. My Story by Every Single Day
12. Tears in the Crowd Various Artists
13. Pino Dream Various Artists
14. Calm and Passion Various Artists
15. Mysteric Them Various Artists