Pinocchio Syndrome is something fictitious but in the Kdrama Pinocchio it’s played out to be a real thing. If someone suffers from Pinocchio Syndrome their body reacts in a strange way whenever they lie, and Choi In-Ha is a “Pinocchio”. She hiccups whenever she says something untrue. Can you imagine how irritating that would be? “Did you like the cookies I made?” “Yes, they were very good… hiccup!” Because of this syndrome, during her high school years In-Ha was known as “the blunt-talking witch”. That’s the basis for the story but there’s much more to it than that.
The drama really is about the world of TV news and the responsibility reporters have to get the truth to the world. Ki Ha-Myeong’s family is destroyed because of reporters who report false information about a factory fire that killed nine firefighters. Ha-Myeong’s father was the fire chief on the scene and as such was held responsible for the nine men who lost their lives due to that fire. On top of that, Ha-Myeong’s father’s body can’t be found. Soon after the fire, a man with Pinocchio Syndrome tells reporters he saw the chief and, since Pinocchio’s can’t get away with a lie, reporters believe the man and say Ha-Myeong’s father has gone into hiding to save himself. Because of all the false allegations against his father, Ha-Myeong’s family is swamped by the news media and his mother is shunned and treated horribly by the public. Unable to handle it all, Ha-Myeong’s mother jumps off a cliff into the sea, taking him with her. But he survives and is rescued by a kind old gentleman with dementia who thinks Ha-Myeong is the son he lost 30 years earlier. He adopts Ha-Myeong and gives him his dead son’s name – Choi Dal-Po. He grows up living with the old man; the man’s second son, Dal-Pyeong; and his daughter, Choi In-Ha. Though Ha-Myeong/Dal-Po is In-Ha’s age, he has to refer to her as his “niece” and her father as his “little brother”. It’s a cute situation – Dal-Pyeong and In-Ha going along with it for the grandpa’s sake.
In-Ha wants to be a reporter and although everyone tells her Pinocchio’s can’t be good reporters, she sets out to prove them wrong. And when Ha-Myeong/Dal-Po meets the reporter responsible for his family’s ruin, he decides to become a reporter, also, to bring her down. There’s a couple twists and turns along the way to Ha-Myeong/Dal-Po-Po’s revenge and the writer keeps us interested and engaged to the very last second.
Pinocchio stars Lee Jong-Suk as Ha-Myeong/Dal-Po and Park Shin-Hye as Choi In-Ha. I’ve seen them both in several different things but it was a special treat to see them work together in this. Their characters are very likable and their chemistry sparkles. There are a few kissing scenes with real kisses (where lips actually move) and they don’t seem to be as “scripted” as so many other kisses in Kdramaland. There’s also a scene where Ha-Myeong just falls apart, weeping. I was very impressed with Lee Jong-Suk’s acting. He’s also amazing in I Can Hear Your Voice. Such a seasoned actor for being a young man in his mid-twenties.
Ha-Myeong/Dal-Po is a brilliant young man with an amazing memory. He loves and misses his family and has a burning desire to watch the reporter responsible for destroying his family fall. He has a strong sense of justice and takes his job as a reporter seriously.
In-Ha wants nothing more than to be a reporter but finds being a “Pinocchio” a tricky challenge to that goal. She knows she can do it, if just given the chance. After all, reporters are supposed to deal with the truth and who deals with the truth better than a “Pinocchio”? She desperately seeks love and approval from the mother she never knew, but looked up to as a hero. She sent text messages to her mother for many years without her mother returning a single one.
Kim Young-Kwang plays Seo Bum-Jo, an intern reporter that works for the same station as In-Ha. He has had a crush on her for many years, ever since he saw her picture as a young girl, on her mother’s cell phone. The cell phone was accidentally left at his house and instead of returning it, he kept it, reading all the text messages she sent her mother through the years. He got to know her through those texts and then set out to find her. He is a kind man, the type any girl would appreciate.
The music was nice. Nothing stood out as being exceptional but it did accompany the drama well.
Pinocchio takes place mostly in the cold fall and winter months so there’s not much to the scenery. There is a pretty location shot on a cliff overlooking the ocean but that’s about it. I was impressed with the fires, though. There are two buildings that burn and they did a great job with those. Watching them was uncomfortable and made me feel a sense of danger.
Pinocchio came up with an original idea and gave us great characters and a wonderful storyline to express it, and you can’t beat that for entertainment.
Silly make-believe syndrome (but it’s important to the plot)
Lee Jong-Suk’s hair in the first few episodes