I loved Mad For Each Other – every single little thing about it. There’s a realistic element to it that so basically talks to our hearts. No one is perfect, we all have our shortcomings, everybody has their own brand of crazy – and that’s what makes us human.
Pending an internal review, Detective Noh Hwi-Oh was put on leave because of an arrest attempt that went awry after he violated orders to abandon the operation, and he’s now undergoing anger management treatments with a psychiatrist.
After surviving a physically abusive encounter, it’s not surprising Lee Min-Kyung is paranoid and shuns any kind of attention. Fearful of just about everything, she worries continuously but is trying her best to deal with her insecurities through psychiatric counseling.
The shortcomings of these two individuals clash big time when they experience a few less-than-positive accidental encounters. And, to their dismay, they discover they happen to be neighbors.
Officer Noh Hwi-Oh, affectionately known as The Mad Dog of Gangnam Police Station, is a detective in the violent crimes unit. He and his little team have been after a big-wig drug dealer for some time and, although Hwi-Oh is now on suspension, the tenacious cop in him can’t give up working on taking this criminal down so he’s investigating on his own while on leave. Because of an incident that happened due to his suspension from work, Hwi-Oh has found it close to impossible to keep his temper under control. In an attempt to keep his composure, when he feels like he’s about to snap, Hwi-Oh tries things like counting and breathing to calm himself down. His mother is kind and helpful, dropping by to clean his apartment, do his laundry, or make meals for him, whereas his father is gruff and often finds fault in the things Hwi-Oh does.
Not long ago, Lee Min-Kyung was a classy woman with a good job and was well-liked among her peers. But one rainy evening, without a single hint that trouble was brewing, Min-Kyung found herself fighting for her very life. As a victim of betrayal and violence, Min-Kyung understandably is unable to trust anyone and keeps herself hidden from the outside world as best she can. She wears dark glasses (even at night) and a flower behind her ear in the hope that people will think she’s crazy and leave her alone. She has a very strained relationship with her mother and doesn’t feel supported or understood by the woman at all. Min-Kyung recently adopted an abandoned dog and finds great comfort in taking care of her furry friend.
Jung Woo, whose character is Detective Noh Hwi-Oh, began acting in 2006 with appearances in several different movies and TV shows. Then, in 2008 he made a name for himself playing the bad guy in the motion picture Spare. A year later he wrote and starred in the movie Wish, for which he received his first Best New Actor award. The story was based on his own life and how he dreamed of becoming the best fighter at his school. His character used both his real name (Kim Jung-Guk) and his nickname (Jjianggu) and the similarities didn’t stop there. The home he grew up in and high school he attended were in the movie, along with his real-life childhood friends, who played themselves! Wish became an official selection at the 2009 Busan International Film Festival. I think that’s awesome! Jung Woo went on to co-star in the amazingly popular Reply series – Reply 1994. After starring opposite each other in the 2013 movie Red Family, Jung Woo and actress Kim Yoo-Mi began dating and were eventually married in January of 2019. Jung Woo is a very well-educated man – he majored in Film at Seoul Institute of the Arts, attended Kyung Hee University Graduate School of Journalism and Communication, and has a Master’s degree in Cultural Contents Studies.
If you’re interested in some information about Oh Yeon-Seo, the gal who so brilliantly plays Lee Min-Kyung, you can find it by going to my review of My Sassy Girl.
This drama is so good it belongs on every Kdrama fan’s watch list. What about it makes it so wonderful? Well, I think it’s the fact that the writing is so authentic with real people and real life. The things each character says and does are exactly how I imagine a real person would react in that same situation. As Min-Kyung is panicking about whether or not she had closed the windows in her apartment and turned off the gas before she left, I couldn’t help but think, “That’s me!” My O.C.D. (obsessive-compulsive disorder) causes me to check my stove, outlets/plugs, faucets, and doors several times just to make certain everything is safe before I walk outside my house and/or go to bed. My dad has an explosive temper, not to the point of being physical like Hwi-Oh but bad enough to be scary, and we can’t always see it brewing before it erupts. Both main characters in the story are on medication to help them deal a little better with their trials – just like me and my sister. I’m positive there will be something about these characters that will remind you of someone you know. And if it’s not the main characters, it will at least be the supporting ones. The three ladies in the women’s association are kind people but have their flaws – one drinks too much, one is a gossip who writes hate comments online, and one is noisy about the people who live around her neighborhood. The gal at the convenience store has four part-time jobs and is studying to be a cop while keeping an amazing talent hidden from the world. The handsome and successful businessman in the same apartment complex has a secret life no one knows about. I loved these people!
Although a drama’s writing may be excellent, it doesn’t go anywhere if the acting isn’t good enough to carry it to its potentialed heights and, fortunately, Mad For Each Other is loaded with superb acting. The facial expressions, the body language, the tones of people’s voices – it’s all perfect. Other than Oh Yeon-Seo (Lee Min-Kyung) and the leader of the women’s association, I can’t tell you a thing about any other actor/actress. The fact that I’ve seen over 400 Korean dramas makes me sure I’ve seen some of the other people before, I just don’t know where I’ve seen them, so I was surprised at how good the acting was. Each actor/actress portrayed their character wonderfully well.
There’s one scene in the show that bothered me because it was inconsistent with Min-Kyung’s scaredy-cat, overly cautious personality. She and Hwi-Oh are out doing a neighborhood watch kind of patrol and she spots a light coming from an old, boarded-up, run-down, abandoned building and wants to go in and see where the light is coming from. When Hwi-Oh refuses to go with her, she goes in and explores by herself but that is completely opposite from how she acts throughout the whole show. Min-Kyung is afraid of her own shadow so that was completely out of harmony with what we know about her character.
Mad For Each Other only has 13 half-hour episodes (six and a half hours long) and that’s just right for what screenwriter Ah Kyung had in mind. (By the way, I wasn’t able to find any other drama/movie credited to Ah Kyung so it appears Mad For Each Other is a writing-debut script – like Lie to Me’s script was.) The show aired on the KakaoTV network from the end of May to the end of June this year (2021) but it carries the Netflix Original banner so that’s where you can find it.
I caught a couple small “oops” but there’s a big one at the beginning of episode five. Officer Noh Hwi-Oh is in a black jacket as he’s fighting a guy. He takes the guy to the police station and when he comes out of the building, he’s in a white coat. “Oops!” Giving the show the benefit of the doubt, I came up with – Hwi-Oh had worked there so maybe he had a coat in his locker, and because it had been raining he just switched a wet back jacket for a dry white one. Ummm, that’s a pretty big stretch. Darn!
The soundtrack is definitely worthy of being part of this great drama. The two upbeat songs are Happy Ending, sung by Martin Smith, and My Heart Is All a Flutter, performed by Dice. Those men’s voices are perfect for the songs they sing! The ballads are The Moment I Met You, sung by Hyunki, This Comfort performed by Solji, and Love You More Than Myself, sung by Suzanne. Good music to accompany a good drama.
Mad For Each Other‘s aesthetics are excellent. Nothing stands out, nothing slips by – everything is in perfect harmony with the characters’ lives. The apartment complex, the convenience store, the police station… all usual, normal, everyday life kind of places.
For sure, this is a romance drama you’ll want to see. Put it at the top of your watch list – write it in all caps, underline it, and put little stars out to the side. You definitely shouldn’t miss Mad For Each Other!
Very realistic, likable characters
Realistic character growth – even for supporting characters
Great length for the story
Perfect setting and backgrounds
A scene that is inconsistent to Min-Kyung’s personality
A couple minor “oops”