When four vastly different men begin to show romantic interest in a single woman with a 14-year-old daughter, she is reminded of the relationship she had with her college sweetheart so long ago and wonders, Was It Love?
Hardworking No Ae-Jung’s world comes crashing down around her when she is approached by some shady characters claiming she owes them money. Her deadbeat boss had skipped town without paying off his loan, and she is the one mentioned in the contract who is supposed to pay back the money if he fell through on the agreement. She is only given two short weeks to pay off the nearly one million dollar debt and if she fails “unpleasant things might happen to those around her [you].” Fortunately, she’s able to talk the head thug, Koo Pa-Do, into investing in the movie she wants to produce so he can take what is owed to him out of the movie’s profits. But he has some conditions in the agreement – the screenwriter has to be the world-renowned author Cheon Eok-Man and the leading man has to be the beloved Hallyu star Ryu Jin. Unfortunately, the writer Koo Pa-Do is insisting on, Cheon Eok-Man, is really Oh Dae-O, the man Ae-Jung dated and dumped over a dozen years ago. Will she be able to get an understandably bitter Oh Dae-O to agree to the job, and if she can’t… then what?
While at Hanbak University, in the Theater and Film department, No Ae-Jung was considered to be popular, bright, humorous, and loving, with grades that put her at the top of her class. However, with only one semester left until graduation she gave up on school, along with her dream of becoming a famous movie producer, and for the past 14 years has focused entirely on being a good mother (and father) to her daughter, No Ha-Nee. Ae-Jung took different jobs year after year and was ecstatic when she was finally hired to work in the accounting depart of a company called Thumb Film, finally placing her in the movie industry she loves. Ae-Jung, her mother, and Ha-Nee have lived together for the past 14 years, leaning on one another to get through the tough times. Although four different men are interested in her, she has no intention of marrying, boldly declaring her dream is to be Wonder Woman, not Cinderella.
Oh Dae-O was raised in a rural area and because his parents struggled financially, he started college late – Ae-Jung was already a junior and Ryu Jin a senior when he was admitted. He entered the Theater and Film department with plans to become a famous director when he graduated. While at school he fell for Ae-Jung and perused her with everything he had, finally winning her heart as time went by. Although they were a darling campus couple, they began to have problems and one day Ae-Jung just disappeared, leaving Dae-O in utter grief and despair. After finishing school, Dae-O changed his focus and began writing under the pseudonym Cheon Eok-Man. His 2012 debut novel Love is Nonexistent was based on his relationship with Ae-Jung. He was the winner of the Man Booker Prize, was chosen as this year‘s best selling author by the New York Times, and is the number one author investors want to invest in. His novel entitled Girlfriend sold 5.92 million copies all over the world. Because Author Cheon Eok-Man has never made a public appearance, he has been called the faceless writer. For the past 14 years, Dae-O has hoped he’d someday run into Ae-Jung again so he could take revenge for the cruel way she broke up with him. However, when he finally does see her, the tiny ember of love that was buried deep in his heart ignites into a bonfire and he’s not about to let her slip through his fingers again.
Ryu Jin was a student at Hanbak University in the Theater and Film department right alongside Ae-Jung and Dae-O. He had a crush on Ae-Jung long before Dae-O even got to the school but put off telling her how he felt which afforded Dae-O a chance to sweep her off her feet. However, he didn’t allow his feelings for Ae-Jung to get in the way of the best-friends relationship the three had. Ryu Jin’s college dream was to be an actor and he accomplished that goal in spades. The man was the winner of the Best New Actor Award at the 2012 JBC drama awards and the Best Actor Award at the 13th KTBC drama awards. Now, one of South Korea’s biggest Hallyu stars, he has recently decided to branch out internationally and try his luck in Hollywood. Dae-O says Ryu Jin is “always a pompous ass” and teases him about how he’d probably worry about what underpants he had on while on a trip to the ER. Ryu Jin’s philosophy is “we only live once so shouldn’t that life be glorious?” After not being in touch with Ae-Jung for more than a decade he still has feelings for her and now that he’s found her once again he’s decided to finally confess his love to her.
At first glance, you can tell Koo Pa-Do is not someone to be messed with. Although he is a sexy, silent-type man, there is an ominous presence about him. Pa-Do introduces himself as the president and CEO of the loan company Nine Capital but is really a high-class loan shark. He comes across as a very scary individual but underneath his frightening exterior there lies the heart of a loyal and sympathetic man. Pa-Do has chosen a rough and dangerous life which has made the man fearless and turned him into a superb fighter. He lives in a mansion with his 14-year-old son, Koo Dong-Chan, with whom he has a very precarious relationship. The boy feels uncomfortable around his own father and embarrassed at what he does for a living. The more Pa-Do comes to like Ae-Jung, the more he desires to be a better father.
Yeon-Woo and Ae-Jung became acquainted when he was in high school and she was a college student. As their friendship grew, so did Yeon-Woo’s feelings for her. He was crushed when he discovered she had a boyfriend but continued to stay close to her by keeping their relationship on a friendship level. When he finally decided to confess his feelings to her, it was too late – Ae-Jung had disappeared. Although it’s been 14 years since he last saw her, he recognizes Ae-Jung the second he sees her. She is the mother of the new student in his class and now that he’s found her again, he is determined to quietly win her heart this time around. Yeon-Woo’s mother is the CEO of Cheonmyeong Entertainment and the chairwoman of the school he teaches at – Hanbak Middle School – but no one has any idea he comes from such a wealthy and prominent family.
Her fans and the media refer to actress Joo A-Rin as the nation’s sweetheart. Although the public knows her to be an angel, she claims in private she “can be a real b*tch” and laments the fact that she is stuck living “a double life.” Her career has been quite successful, with the movies she’s been in all being blockbusters. Ryu Jin is one of the very few actors who can work side-by-side with her. However, when they are alone, she enjoys tormenting him with a secret only she is aware of and Ryu Jin desperately wants her to forget.
For information about Song Ji-Hyo, the actress who plays No Ae-Jung, click on my review of My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week.
The actor who plays the part of Oh Dae-O is Son Ho-Jun. you can read about him in my Go Back Couple review.
Song Jong-Ho, the man who plays superstar Ryu Jin, attended Pyeongtaek University, majoring in Computer Statistics but, in 1995, decided to try his hand at modeling. He was a runway and print model for four years and then shifted his attention to acting, beginning with small roles at first. He won a New Star Award for his performance in the 2007 medical drama Surgeon Bong Dal-Hee.
Koo Pa-Da swept me off my feet in this show, thanks to the wonderful stoic acting of Kim Min-Joon. Like his fellow actor, Song Jong-Ho, 44-year-old Min-Joon began his entertainment career through the modeling genre. His acting debut came in 2003 via the TV drama Damo. In 2009 he began DJing in clubs under the name “DJ Vesper MJ.” A year ago he married designer Kwon Da-Mi, who happens to be G-Dragon’s older sister.
Twenty-seven-year-old Koo Ja-Sung is fairly new to the entertainment industry. In 2007 he appeared in the movie Milky Way Liberation Front and then ten years later was in the drama The Blue Sea. He was in Misty followed by The Secret Life of My Secretary the next year. Oh, he too is a model. He made the character Oh Yeon-Woo, so sweet and lovable. I can’t wait to see him in a romantic comedy where he plays the leading man!
Kim Da-Som, (aka Dasom) plays the part of the public’s angel Joo A-Rin. She debuted as a member of the girl group Sistar in 2010 and then two years later made her acting debut in the daily sitcom Family. After being nominated for eight different acting awards, Da-Som finally received her first one in 2017 – Best New Actress for her role in Band of Sisters. Interestingly enough she entered and won various songwriting and poetry contests before she joined Sistar.
Not telling Ha-Nee anything about her father – was that the right thing to do? In Ae-Jung’s mind it was, but I’m not really sure what I would have done in her position. Even when her daughter was very small she wanted to know who and where her dad was. I don’t see why, especially once she became a teenager, Ae-Jung didn’t just sit Ha-Nee down and tell her the whole story from her perspective. But then, if she had done that there wouldn’t have been a drama.
There’s a part, about 20 minutes before the ending, that turned out to be a tired, old, regular, drama story usage. However, there’s no way I would have guessed the last minute of the show. It was fantastically clever and came completely out of left field!
Because four guys are enamored with Ae-Jung I figured they needed a little paragraph of their own. There are good and not so good things about each one. So here’s what I thought…
Oh Dae-O: shares a love of film making with Ae-Jung, was once in a serious relationship with her, is a successful author YET he’s petty and can be childish
Ryu Jin: has loved Ae-Jung for many years, he’s famous, he wants to do the honorable thing YET needs to be concerned about what the public thinks and has a precarious career
Koo Pa-Do: he’s gorgeous, wants to be a better person, is a good fighter/protector YET he has a dangerous lifestyle and a son/ready-made family
Oh Yeon-Woo: he’s darling, selfless, sincerely loves Ae-Jung YET he’s three years younger and his mother is awful
Ae-Jung didn’t end up with the guy I wanted her to be with but I understand 100% why she chose who she did. After you’ve seen the show, comment and let me know which fella you were hoping would win her heart.
Was It Love’s ratings were ever-so-slightly lower at the end of its run than it was at the beginning but I don’t always put a lot of stock in ratings to tell me if it was an enjoyable show or not. You decided for yourself.
There is a tremendously huge “oops” that I’m hoping was a translation/subtitles error and not one the director and actress ignored. So there’s this part where Ha-Nee is going over a list she had made comparing how she is like and unlike her father and under the “same” column is “left-handed.” No problem, UNTIL she picks up her pencil and starts writing with her right hand. What??? Another thing that caught my attention was the timing on the happenings concerning the Love Is Nonexistent movie release. They’re having talks with bigwigs about the rights to release it worldwide because of the great response it’s had in its home country, and yet, their premier party is held after those talks. Isn’t a premiere party held before a movie has been released to the public? Hence the word premier.
Fans of the Kpop group SF9 are in for a wonderful treat. The guys make an appearance at a party thrown by the CEO of Cheonmyeong Entertainment (Yeon-Woo’s mom). Before you get too excited, though, they just walk in and do some waving and mingling, no performing. Sorry.
I enjoyed most of the show’s ballads, but the more upbeat songs weren’t as impressive. Swan sings my favorite song, a soft ballad entitled My Heart These Days. Unlike a couple of the others on the soundtrack, her voice compliments the music beautifully. Was It a Real Love is pretty (complete with finger-snapping to keep the beat), however, I wasn’t thrilled with Lee Ra-On’s voice. I think it would have been much better if Yesung (from Super Junior) performed it instead. First Day is lovely, Yusuf’s (from GFriend) singing is accompanied by an acoustic guitar which takes the lead among all the other instruments. Sondia’s voice is perfect for Still, however I think the song would have sounded much better if it had been sung in a lower key. The harmony is nice in the song Dreams, but I wasn’t thrilled with Lee Ba-Da’s breathy sounding voice.
As for the drama’s background/scenery/aesthetics, there’s one really artistic thing the director did that I absolutely loved. In order to let the audience know in what year the flashback is occurring, instead of printing it at the bottom of the screen, the year is hidden somewhere inside the scene (probably done with CGI) – a sign on the street, a poster on the wall… watch for it. It’s so clever. The show’s backgrounds are exactly what you’d expect with each character. Nothing far fetched. It all fits together well.
Was It Love is a decent Kdrama worthy of your time. The fact that it has four handsome, wealthy guys vying for the love of one woman makes it four times as romantic as you would expect it to be.
Four great guys after one girl
Keeps us wondering who Ha-Nee’s dad is
Clever placing of dates in the flashbacks
A noticeable major “oops”
Soundtrack isn’t all that great