Being the wise lady that I am, I found myself starting Bu Bu Jing Xin (Startling By Each Step) in the midst of watching this drama, whilst waiting on King of Dramas to be subbed. This posed a bit of a dilemma. Why, you ask? Well, King of Dramas is incredibly paced - fast and suspenseful at all the right places. Bu Bu Jing Xin is set in the era of the Qing Dynasty and wrought with palace alliances and fighting for the throne, admirable bromances and an overload of yearning. But that's all for another post. Anyways, being caught between then two compelling dramas, sometimes I had to pace myself in order to get back into the fluffier moments of ILLTR.

I found that the storyline and wrapping up of the series was really well executed, without any grating loopholes. That being said, I did find it a tad draggy towards the 13-14th episode mark, with all the additional tangents to the love triangles. One thing I've always found ... ridiculous about Korean dramas is how the female love rival (who somehow is romantically related to the male lead) will go for one guy (usually the ex or guy pining for the female lead) then turn around and fall for the male lead - or vice versa. Whenever that happens I feel as though the female love rival is just used as a plot device to move ruin things. I honestly feel as though the writers sometimes don't even bother to develop the story, but shove random love triangles in for the sake of it. I will never understand why some Kdrama inhabitants are so adamant on "making the boy mine" when he has displayed obvious disinterest and rejected them outright. Seriously, it just gets on my nerves. What do they expect to come out of it? Relationships like that never work, and if anything, it's just the workings of a wounded ego. Doesn't it hurt your pride more if you do manage force someone to love you? The fact that it was emotional duress? I can never wrap my head around it - there is persistence, and then there is desperation. Remember how I called her a nuisance at the start? Yeah, she became even more annoying with her antics and attempts at manipulation.

The scenes where the two are falling in love and are blissful were cute, however, I don't think Park Ye Jin was very convincing in pulling that off. It just felt off, because she seemed to feel the need to constantly have a smile plastered on her face. Yet, that's just what it was - plastered. It didn't feel happy. I honestly feel that Ki Bum was able to portray the young boy in love with a noona much better than Ye Jin was able to portray being in love. I don't know why, he just seemed more immersed and the affection was just pouring out of it eyes. On another note, I was (abnormally) envious at a particular scene, where she didn't get any work done the previous done because of Min Soo, then she starts and everything is 'okay'. No, that does not happen in real life! My pile of work never depletes like that in just a couple of minutes. Oh Kdramaland, why do you tease me so? I must say another letdown was when Min Soo and Tae Ri was kissing at the soju stall. I mean, why aren't they moving?! Come on Ye Jin, Ki Bum's not really 14, you don't have to worry about being a pedo! You can kiss him for real! Isn't that the whole perk of being an actress? Kissing all these droolworthy, fine actors?! (Okay, I need to control myself *fans self*)

 I feel as though the way the story moves along is believable enough, with Min Soo actually changing back into Eun Dong though I was a little distraught for our torn lovers. Oh, star crossed lovers. Looking at the circumstances, I should feel sorry for Tae Ri more because she's the older woman  and all those stereotypes about woman being past their prime and having to date guys older than them comes into play; whilst Eun Dong can y'know, just date girls his age. However, Ki Bum just emotes love, like sometimes I wonder why does he even love her that much? Anyways, moving on. I was slightly confused with the 'Wish' phone application, because I didn't see the purpose of that - was it just a decoy or for us be tricked by, or did it actually have a function in the whole transformation? Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but I don't think that was answered.

The whole tangent about Seung Jae's dad being the truck driver that killed Tae Ri's parents and how he was forced to leave her in Milan, only to work for her uncle to bring her down so he can somehow get back together with her was seriously flawed, in that it just sounds so illogical.

As I am a kind lady, I shall warn you in advanced that the next paragraph contains SPOILERS. Yes, SPOILERS so don't read if you don't want to be SPOILED. One more time, SPOILERS GUYS.

Now onto the ending, which I so adore. A few years later, we see Eun Dong growing up as Ki Bum - you know, mighty fine and so so cute. He's now a renowned swimmer, representing Korea. He has to go overseas and at the airport.... where his heart (or is it the necklace?) alerts him that Tae Ri is nearby. Cue, running out of the airport in search for his loved one, and finding her amongst all the cars lined up. Knock knock on the window, and the tinted windows are lowered to reveal a familiar face. No, I will not reveal who that familiar face is, but I'm sure everyone is smart enough to figure it out hehe.

I adore this ending because it's so ... satisfying. It's not entirely unrealistic and yet, it's so heartwarming, like the drama itself. Actually, leading up to the ending, I was mentally calculating the age difference, and the appropriate ages that will allow them to be together. I'm not sure if the drama specified, but I went with him being around 20 and Tae Ri being 34. Hey, if they made 14 and 28 work, they can definitely make 20 and 34 work. I'm also glad that they didn't overdo the summary on the two love rivals, because I felt it appropriate that Seung Jae gave it his last shot and moved on, and Heart just staying the idol she is.


Park Ye Jin as Lee Tae Ri: Apart from Family Outing and Running Man, I've never actually seen any of Ye Jin's acting chops. So, I was inclined to check ILLTR out. To be fair, I think she portrayed Lee Tae Ri quite well as a standalone. Conversely, when she was acting opposite Ki Bum, I think he stole her thunder a bit. I think the fact that Tae Ri is not the most interesting of female protagonists is also to blame for that though. I find her quite cute when she was being concerned about her appearance because she was dating a guy younger than her, regardless of how ... troublesome that notion is. Not that appearances don't matter, but once you're in love, I think it's more beneficial to have a bit more confidence and less insecurity. Ye Jin is able to display Tae Ri's vulnerabilities and I simply can't fault her acting in the scene with Yang Jin Woo (aka Seung Jae) where he finally spills the beans about her parents' death. I felt so much sadness mixed with the disbelief at his reasons.

Kim Ki Bum as Geum Eun Dong/Hwang Min Soo: I really adored Ki Bum in this role, though sometimes his reactions are rather comic but I attribute that to the role of a 14 year old. His scenes where he was conflicted with his secret and being torn with his love and desire to protect Tae Ri and his guilty conscience towards his family. I feel for the man-boy. Obviously he's not a seasoned actor, but I do think he has the charisma to pull off the role, which is frankly within his range. I know he's a child actor, though I've never really noticed his roles or remember them clearly. However, I do feel that he's definitely a promising actor.

Yang Jin Woo as Choi Seung Jae: I kind of feel sorry for Yang Jin Woo here because there doesn't seem to be much substance to his character other than to be the hateful-with-an-excuse ex. I do think he does well in some parts to bring  something to his character despite the fact that his character and actions are perplexedly irrational.

JUB/Jubi as Ha Soon Shim aka Heart: I don't think the role required too much from the actress, because essentially she's just a brat here. Or maybe that's just how JUB portrayed the role. However, she was given quite a bit more material to work with than Jin Woo, with her suicidal past and the tug of war to win Min Soo's love. However, her flaws and inexperience is rather obvious whenever she is required to depict an emotional scene that requires a bit more depth. It'd be nice if we could see her as a young lady with real feelings rather than a spoilt child who just always wants what she can't have.

Just some short notes on the performances of the supporting cast: I really enjoyed Jang Seo Won as the Hwang Min Gook, he has pretty great comic timing and I really felt for him when Ki Bum confronts him about his brother's existence; as well as his little side story with Hong Shil. The parents are also cute, especially when Eun Dong's father kept getting jealous over the mother fawning over 'Min Soo'.

PS. I'm finding it confusing trying to refer to the characters myself with all the different identities and bodies.


Enjoyment: 8/10
Substance: 7/10

{Side note: I just saw these snaps of Park Ye Jin and Kim Ki Bum in InStyle, and damn they sizzle} 


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