My heart hurts when I think about you
Our OTP have finally admitted their shared feelings and are getting together! Sadly, their current-day connection isn’t what hit my positive feels this week, but the first flashback. We see younger Jae Hoon and Yu Reum belting out some songs at a karaoke parlor. Jae Room sings a popular song (Never Ending Story) that tells about epic true love. When he continues to serenade Yu Reum on their walk home, she tells him that he obviously has never felt the feelings that the song exudes if he can sing it so casually. Flash forward to the current day and Jae Hoon says that he now understands the meaning of the song and that he loves her.
Kmuse: Siwan seranading? Yes, please. I want more of this.
The Maknae: They are seriously the cutest in the flashbacks. Can’t wait to get back to more of this!
Just let her go home
Influencer Girl is over the reality show and just wants to leave. Not only is no one interested in dating her, but the online bashing of her looks and personality is overwhelming. It becomes obvious that PD Kang had chosen her because of the possibility of some bipolar fights. Instead, we get a girl that isn’t interested in attacking others, but turns the anger internally and just hurts herself. Influencer Girl talks to Yu Reum about leaving, but is convinced to stick it out if Yu Reum looks for a way to make her come across better.
You might be wondering why this is on a list of just positive aspects of a drama. I feel that this story arc shows how much dramas have developed in the last few years when it comes to mental health. In the past, they wouldn’t have even thought to give voice to the reasons a character might choose to act up or cause chaos. We only got the actual drunken moment to move on to the action of the leads. Here we see a layered human with goals and trials, someone who can’t just be pigeonholed into a single characteristic. We even get to go into the ethics of using those with mental issues for entertainment. It is a very interesting discussion I was not expecting to think about when this drama started.
Kmuse: This idea of whether it is OK to use people who obviously want to be used but have been diagnosed with mental illness has become one of my favorite aspects of this drama (at least in the second half). Especially when we see the way PD Kang was anticipating the mental illness narrative to go (fights and hair pulling), but instead gets anorexia and suicidal thoughts. For a drama that really flubbed so many aspects, this one really stood out as a positive.
The Maknae: Kmuse makes some good points — the anorexia and the bipolar disorder aren’t the full character of these women, but just a part of their lives. They’re complete people who happen to have a struggle, which is some incredible nuanced storytelling.
Let love be more than a luxury
If you thought any of the relationships in Kingdom of Love would end up being real (keep in mind that Chef John and Ji Wan are not in a relationship “on screen”), you would be disappointed. Not only does The General not totally love the girl he is with, but he also ends up sleeping with PD Kang when she has a bad moment. When asked why she chose him to sleep with, PD Kang said because they seem to have the most similar feelings about love. Both are obsessed with their careers and see love as a luxury they can’t be bothered with when it comes down to it. PD Kang leaves his room, saying that she hopes that for him, love can someday be more than a luxury, indicating that it is too late for her.
Kmuse: Once again the side characters and their life goals are taking center stage. PD Kang’s pressure and need to be successful are thrown to the forefront when we learn about the problems she has with her stepmother. Her hard façade is that, a façade, and she’s desperate to feel something. If I had to look deeper into the situation, I would say that self-hate even led her to choose someone who should have been off-limits. It also gives another layer to The General as someone who is more than just a loud character on a reality show. I am loving these layers of humanity we are getting, warts and all.
The Maknae: I was surprised by Kang PD’s choice — at the end of episode 11, it was cut in such a way that it seemed she had knocked on EVERY DOOR in the complex — but I can understand the “love is a luxury” stance they both seem to have. I feel sorry for the lawyer who thought she might have a future with The General, but he clearly isn’t ready to settle down. The positive here is that it’s better for her to learn early where he stands!
Reality Show regret
Because of the multiple scandals the reality show has weathered over the last few weeks, it is getting pulled early and PD Kang is told to end it quickly. They decide to have the final pick, but before they can film it all, Influencer Girl crashes the party from above. Drunk and possibly suicidal, she is balanced on a balcony and looks like she will fall at any moment. Yu Reum saves her from falling, but topples over the balcony herself, landing on a series of mattresses the boys had put underneath. Knocked out, Yu Reum is rushed to the hospital. PD Kang has a mini mental breakdown and closes the filming immediately. The show is done and she obviously is being ravaged with regret. All of the contestants leave and it is obvious that no one is having feelings of success over a job well done, or achieving goals.
Kmuse: For once you see the reality behind the reality. It is all so superficial on the surface, but there are bits of truth trickling through. Real feelings between the various characters were never seen on film but remained after the show completes. There was something so sad about seeing the sets taken down, the people left, and nothing remaining but the bare bones of what could have been.
The Maknae: I wonder if that unfinished feel would make any of the feel itchy, like they need to complete something they couldn’t complete on the show. I love that the show is not the be-all end-all point of this drama, but that we’re seeing what life afterwards will be like too.
We finish the episode with our OTP declaring their love and moving back in together… or at least next to each other. PD Kang takes responsibility for the mess of the show and awaits the fallout. Also, PD Kang and Yu Reum bury the hatchet and take a step closer to becoming friends. That is when all heck breaks lose. Someone has photos of a member of the staff and a contestant on the reality show being romantically connected. This could be either of the girls, so it will be interesting to see what was released and who is going to have to accept responsibility for their actions next week.
Kmuse: I hate to keep saying this, but having real consequences is what is working for me with this show. You can’t just jump to the happily-ever-after and call it good. When you become a well-known public figure, it is going to come out that you are romantically involved with someone else other than your TV ship. I’m just hoping we can get through this with no last-minute noble idiot declarations.
The Maknae: I’m totally invested in how Kang PD will handle this situation. Her flashes of kindness underneath that brusque exterior continue to surprise me in the best ways, and I have hopes that becoming friends with Yu Reum will improve her life from here on out. Maybe she’ll feel less empty….
Kmuse: There were a lot of OTP moments that were sweet and if they had happened 3 episodes ago, I would have been swooning. Sadly, those angst episodes just put me off a lot of their story arc and I am not feeling it like I once was. I am glad they are in love, but it is other aspects of the show that are standing out now.
The Maknae: The story definitely shifted to be more about the couples around our OTP rather than the OTP itself, but their course is so predictable right now that I have to applaud the move. I have hope that the last two episodes will give us a strong ending, but I am an eternal optimist. LOL.
Til the final choice,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi