Love on a Rooftop – Third Quarter Review

OVERALL

After watching up to episode 83, I wanted to post a third quarter review for anyone who is considering jumping on late and does not want to wade through 80 recaps.   I would give this is a solid B (80/100).  I generally enjoyed watching this slice of life/romance drama.  However, I have seen the story-lines meander and some of the characters need to work on their screen presence.  WARNING! Spoilers follow.

EVALUATION – STORY

In the beginning, there were three main subplots:

    • Mi-Ja’s goal of revenge against Seung-Hye’s adoptive grandmother (Soon-Im) for throwing Mi-Ja’s mother and Mi-Ja out of the house when Soon-Im found out that Mi-Ja and Soon-Im’s son were in a relationship.  Unfortunately, Mi-Ja was pregnant at the time…Mi-Ja’s mother was reeling from shock at the news when she gets hit by a truck and dies.  Later on in the series, Mi-Ja and Sang-Man discuss how Mi-Ja lost her child due to shock and depression.  Note, there have been fan speculation that Mi-Ja might have had twins (as twins run in the family and Dae-Shil now has twins) and Mi-Ja lost Do-Jin’s twin at the time.  Therefore, Do-Jin would be Dae-Ho’s biological son.  Now successful, Mi-Ja has come back to make trouble for Soon-Im’s family and take over the family house.

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    • Yunho/Seung-Hye/Do-Jin/Se-Ryung love mess.  The romantic subplot was that Se-Ryung is a school colleague of Do-Jin’s who is in love with him.  Meanwhile, Do-Jin and Seung-Hye slowly fall for each other as they begin a cafe together.  At the same time, Se-Ryung’s childhood friend Yunho falls for Seung-Hye.

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    • Seung-Hye finding herself.  In the beginning, Seung-Hye was an adept nurse at a hospital.  However, due to a misunderstanding and an accident with a VIP client (Se-Ryung’s father), Se-Ryung gets Seung-Hye fired.  As a result, Seung-Hye spends time trying to find out if she wants to be a barista because she loves coffee, develop tea at Do-Jin’s cafe, or return to the hospital as a nurse because it’s a source of stable income.

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    • Birth Secrets!  Who is Do-Jin’s biological father?  Who are Seung-Hye’s biological parents?

Story Round Up as of Episode 83

    • Mi-Ja manages to get Dae-Ho in trouble by hiring actors to “sell” a famous painting to him in cash.  Then the actors pretend that the seller has dementia and Dae-Ho took advantage of the seller.  As Dae-Ho signed the contract on behalf of the seller, he becomes liable for the full amount, which was not his money in the first place. Seung-Hye saves her father by getting her full year’s pay up front from Do-Jin, which is used to pay the settlement.  Then Mi-Ja’s mother’s ashes are buried in a proper cemetery and Mi-Ja promises to give up her revenge if Dae-Ho’s family helps convince Do-Jin to give up on Se-Ryung.  When Seung-Hye and Do-Jin’s relationship develops, Mi-Ja’s revenge disappears.

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    • The love mess stays a mess.  Do-Jin and Seung-Hye persist against all of their parental disapproval and Do-Jin even proposes to Seung-Hye.  However, on the night of the proposal, Se-Ryung gets hit by a car in Do-Jin’s place and becomes paralyzed.  Do-Jin completely changes due to his guilt, dotes on Se-Ryung, breaks up with Seung-Hye and even tries to follow Se-Ryung over to the United States for treatment.  Meanwhile, Yunho staunchly supports Seung-Hye from the side.

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    • Seung-Hye finding herself is a bit nebulous as well.  In the first part of the series, Seung-Hye declares that her dream is to become a barista.  Therefore, she has an internal crisis in deciding whether or not she should return to the hospital as a nurse or to follow her passion and become a barista with her keen sense of taste and smell.  Then, she starts working with and falling for Do-Jin.  This is an internal struggle and a bit of a sacrifice as well because Seung-Hye has to give up working with her idol and role model to work at Do-Jin’s cafe.  However, afterwards, Seung-Hye haphazardly declares that she likes making tea as much as she likes brewing coffee… Now, she’s managing Do-Jin’s cafe and her amazing inherent coffee brewing ability has disappeared.

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    • Birth Secrets?! Still a secret!

EVALUATION – CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Yoon Seung-Hye

Since the First Quarter Review, Seung-Hye’s character does not really develop.  The only part that seemed different was that Seung-Hye was more confident in rebelling against her parent’s wishes that she breaks up with Do-Jin.  She continues to apologize to her parents but sticks to her view that she cannot give up on the first guy who made her want to feel selfish.

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However, then, she stays in quarter-life crisis mode after her relationship with Do-Jin develops.  Being happily in a relationship with Do-Jin is fine.  Trying to support Do-Jin’s decision to take responsibility for Se-Ryung is also fine.  I feel like I might be being a bit harsh but Seung-Hye’s insistence that she wants to support Do-Jin even after he turns into Se-Ryung’s beau was character regression.

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Do-Jin’s personal assistant?

Seung-Hye used to be extremely capable and independent.  For crying out loud, she was single-handedly supporting her adopted family financially!  She was also a highly respected nurse.  However, she turns into this character who spends all of her time cleaning Do-Jin’s apartment for him, brooding about him, and messing up at her work at the cafe.  Reacting this way in the beginning is expected.  Yet, seeing Do-Jin dote on Se-Ryung so obsessively should have triggered some anger and pride in Seung-Hye, which has not shown up.  Even after hearing that Do-Jin almost went to the United States on the next flight after Se-Ryung, Seung-Hye just cries that she does not know if she can give up on him…

One random thing that was pointed out by a reviewer comment was that Seung-Hye’s hairstyle has not changed in the 80 episodes.  Weird!

Kang Do-Jin

First, screen presence!  I used to think that Park Jinwoo is very good-looking.  I had hoped that Jinwoo was just really understanding his character and his screen presence would increase.  Yet, his presence never really developed.  Watching him makes me feel like I am watching a college student in a student club play.  His acting always feels reserved and stilted.

See the range of KDJ’s expressions below…from “in-love” to remorse to guilt…

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It has gotten a little better with the new anguished scenes.  I can see that he is emotionally troubled.  However, I find that he does not capture my whole attention and scenes are much better when there are other actors in the scene.

Regarding his character, Kang Do-Jin makes me want to throw my laptop into the window.  He started out with so much potential…knowing what he wants – to start a cafe and not be a doctor.  He also successfully wooed Seung-Hye to the point where she was happy to hear him propose to her.  However, in the latest subplot of Se-Ryung getting paralyzed, Do-Jin falls apart.

He becomes a cowardly prisoner to his own guilt and conscience.  With the excuse of “responsibility,” he pushes away Seung-Hye because her presence makes him feel uncomfortable.  She is a constant reminder that he had promised to take care of her and make her happy.  So, he tells her that he wants to break up and fires her from the cafe.  He definitely could have handled the situation differently in a way such that he could support his actual girlfriend and help care for Se-Ryung.

Kang Se-Ryung

Roller coaster of character development here!  Se-Ryung began as a selfish but naive privileged young woman.  She knew her worth as the daughter of CEO Kang and the director of a division in his company.  She was generally fair with respect to business and optimistic that she could win Do-Jin over…There was nothing that she could not do, including getting Seung-Hye fired when Se-Ryung believed that it was Seung-Hye’s carelessness that caused Beom-Seok’s accident.  She doesn’t think twice about making Seung-Hye actually kneel in front of her.

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Then Se-Ryung learns that money and privilege is not everything when Do-Jin begins to fall for a girl that Se-Ryung never expected to be her rival in love.  She goes through a phase of denial where she takes sleeping pills and moves into Mi-Ja’s apartment.  Around this point, she believes that she does not need Do-Jin to love her if he would just stay with her…Oh dear.

Then the ACCIDENT occurs and Se-Ryung has to come to terms with what she really wants.  When Se-Ryung gets paralyzed as a result of the accident, she gets her wish.  Do-Jin turns into the caricature of a lover, spending his days and nights at her bed-side…Taking care of her…even proposing to her.

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She does have a small blip into the world of denial and obsession…When she gets completely humiliated in front of Do-Jin at the park where she accidentally urinates in her wheelchair…She loses all of her self worth.  In addition to trying to throw herself over the stairs, Se-Ryung decides at this point, she would be happy if Do-Jin would just stay with her…She has tied her self worth to Do-Jin’s mere presence.

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I was glad that the writer showed Se-Ryung gradually realizing that her wish was shallow and empty…that she has self worth that deserves to be recognized.  She first gets embarrassed when Do-Jin talks about her digestive issues with her main doctor and angrily snaps that she wants to be a woman to Do-Jin.  Then we have Se-Ryung questioning her own desire – she asks Beom-Seok on the roof about whether or not she would ever be happy when Do-Jin has decided to stay with her out of guilt.  Finally, she decides to leave for the United States herself, which I felt was a perfect ending to Se-Ryung’s own searching.  She’s realized that she wants more than the shell of Do-Jin that she has and that she deserves to be loved.  While, not the main actress, I quite enjoyed watching her!

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