Not since Triple can I remember a Kdrama that portrayed love and relationships in as real a way as The Third Charm does. To say I loved this drama is putting it mildly. Shows that pull my heart into the story are always my favorites and as I watched this I recognized what I was feeling was the same thing I felt while viewing Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Spring Waltz, and My Love Eun-Dong – which can only be described as a sweet foreboding. Will this end happily or am I going to cry my eyes out?
This is the story of On Joon-Young and Lee Young-Jae, two people who first met on a group blind date when they were 20, again as 27 year olds with budding careers, and once again at 32 as seasoned, mature adults. They are as opposite as opposite can be but their love for one another has stood the test of time and distance, lasting 12 years and two continents.
When On Joon-Young was a small child his teacher wrote on his report card, “He is very responsible and well behaved but he lacks social skills.” After knowing him just one day Lee Young-Jae describes 20 year old Joon-Young as meticulous, hard-working, not very flexible, and “he doesn’t show off like the other guys.” She even gives him the nickname Plan Man. His younger sister claims he is sensitive and picky and his best friend tells him that in the world of animals he’d be a sloth. His mother is a vice principal and his father is a geography teacher at the same school. Joon-Young lists his hobby as cleaning and his talent as cooking. He’d love to live on an island in a slow, little town when he’s older. He passed the police exam on his first try and his physical score was 50 out of 50. Joon-Young is kind, generous, selfless, loyal, intelligent, always does his best, and loves with his entire being.
When Lee Young-Jae was very young her parents passed away and she, along with her older brother, was raised by her grandmother. Then, after the old woman’s death, the only family she had left was her older brother. Because the family struggled financially she made the decision to skip college in order to quickly get a certification to do hair so she could start making money. Young-Jae is an outspoken young woman who won’t sit still when she sees injustice. She loves having fun and doesn’t think there is such a thing as food that is too spicy. Young-Jae wants to be a rich and famous hair designer and live in a busy, bustling big city some day. She is a teacher and the second in charge at a beauty salon whose clients include some A-list celebrities.
Other important characters…
Choi Ho-Chul is a successful plastic surgeon whose office is across the street from the salon where Young-Jae works. His first encounter with Young-Jae wasn’t all that good but he’s gradually come to admire her and that admiration quickly turns to love.
Officer Min Se-Eun was fascinated with Team Leader On Joon-Young the minute she set eyes on him. She noticed his calm, kind demeanor amidst a loud and hectic police station and saw that he had the same kinds of plants on his desk as she had on hers. Then, fascination became love when he risked his life to save her from injury.
Lee Dong-Jae is Young-Jae’s older brother. He owns a truck which he uses to sell coffee on the side of the road. Business isn’t booming, in fact, he often just gives his coffee away. At night he diligently writes, hoping to be a famous screenwriter someday.
The woman who owns and runs the successful salon Young-Jae works at is Baek Joo-Ran. When she was younger she put her feelings and career above love and marriage and now that she is getting older she’s desperately trying to make up for lost time. Finding a husband and having a baby is foremost on her mind.
Thanks to Seo Kang-Joon’s superb acting I quickly fell in love with On Joon-Young. His facial expressions, his voice and choice of words, everything Seo Kang-Joon did turned Joon-Young into an absolute sweetheart that was just too good for either Young-Jae or Se-Eun. I’d love to see him with someone darling like Oh Yoon-Seo from Touch Your Heart. If you’d like to know more about Seo Kang-Joon you can go to my Are You Human Too? review.
Twenty-nine year old Lee So-Young, who goes by the stage name Esom, is both an actress as well as a model. Her acting career began with the motion picture Second Half in 2010 and from there she went on to be cast in TV dramas as well as movies. Her leading role in the 2014 movie Scarlet Innocence earned her the Best New Actress nomination in five different award ceremonies (of which she won one)! She has also been in music videos for artists such as Lee Min-Ki, TVXQ, G-Dragon, Brown Eyed Girls, and Tasty. I thought this was my first time seeing Esom (Lee Young-Jae) act but then I saw her filmography and realized I had also seen her in Because This is My First Life.
I’ve heard, where relationships are concerned, “opposites attract” as well as “like attracts like” but which one is true? In this story Joon-Young and Young-Jae are polar opposites yet they sincerely love each other. When the couple is first beginning to learn about each other Joon-Young brings up the fact that when it comes to her future Young-Jae has a goal but no plan, and she points out that he has a plan but no goal. Opposites attract, like attracts like… what do you think? I wonder if you’ll feel the same way after watching Joon-Young and Young-Jae.
I loved these characters and sincerely cared about them. Just as in real life, there isn’t a bad guy or a good guy – they’re just people trying to live life and be happy in the process. They make mistakes, apologize, forgive, hope, love, win, and loose – just like we do. Sometimes they learn from their mistakes and sometimes they don’t, but they keep moving forward and that’s what’s important. In some dramas the characters go through massive character growth but these folks didn’t change all that much over the years. They grew older and a bit wiser but by the end of the show they were very much the same as when we were first introduced to them. That’s okay, though, because life is like that for a lot of us.
This drama’s title made me do a lot of thinking. Was it referring to the phrase, “The third time’s the charm?” and in Joon-Young and Young-Jae’s case was the third time the charm? An even bigger question is what exactly is the charm? Is it what we think it is or is it something else entirely? The ending wasn’t what I thought it would be and, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with it at first. But the more I thought about it the more I realized the writer was correct, that was the only ending possible in order for the third time to really be the charm, and I’m okay with it now.
There are a couple “oops” in the show but only one I consider major. The people at Young-Jae’s salon are on a business trip – giving free hair cuts and styles to people on a remote island – and as she and Joon-Young leave a home the things he’s carrying magically not only change hands but people as well. One thing he is carrying ends up in her hand as she steps off a porch. Oops!
I love all of The Third Charm’s soundtrack but I’m only mentioning my six favorite songs. There are four that seemed to be played most often – two upbeat; I Only See You (sung by Stella Jang) and You Have the Charms (performed by CJM), and two ballads; Perhaps We (sung by Jo Sung-Mo) and Think About You (performed by YONGZOO). There are also two songs where a female voice sings the chorus and a male voice raps the verses – Maybe Not (performed by Yang Dong-Geun and Manuka) and When It Rains (performed by Soyou and Mad Clown). The show’s music is excellent.
There are some really diverse and interesting backgrounds in The Third Charm such as the ocean and beautiful seagulls as they are on a ferry, a bunch of tall, golden weeds on an island, and an amusement park. But the best is the scenes shot in Portugal. Yes, they actually shot some of the show there and the architecture is lovely.
I wasn’t looking forward to saying goodbye to these characters. I just didn’t want the drama to end. Instead, I wanted to know what happened next – let’s see where they are 20 years from now – but, as the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” Put The Third Charm on your watch list. It’s worth every second you’ll spend on it. I promise.
Note: In order to put The Third Charm on my 20 favorite dramas list I reluctantly removed Oh My Ghostess.
Personable, lovable characters
The darling character On Joon-Young
Seo Kang-Joon’s perfect acting
Sweet foreboding feeling
Makes us think
A few “oops”