It is difficult to pinpoint what gives a work a heart. Perhaps one way to look at it is that works made to entertain are about facing your audience and asking "How can I make them like me?", while works made to tell a story are about asking "How can I say something worth saying?". The latter will, if handled by talented people, reach viewers in a way being preoccupied with fleeting pleasures and manufactured investment will not. 'Hogu's Love' is so far telling a story and has made one impressive start at it.
Since the series is based on a webtoon created by the 'Flower Boy Next Door'-famous Yoo Hyeon-sook, it is not surprising that there is more to the premise than just a silly man meeting a haughty woman. There are some heavier issues being explored here and this means that the happy and colorful romantic comedy part is a presentation and tone, rather than the whole purpose of this series as a simple entertainment piece.
There is humor here, there is comedy and there are adorable and romantic happenings , but the series also knows when to get serious and to do so without limiting itself or trying hard to maintain a happy face when it is not supposed to. The characters' struggles are nothing major or larger-than-life, but for them, they are things that hold them back and things they need to address. The drama approaches a few simple problems with the respect and gravity they deserve and does so with a light, playful touch.
At the center of this is a pair of people whose individual issues make their friendship and future romance a chance at self-discovery and healing for both. Kang Ho-goo (Choi Wooshik) is a nice man who is liked by those around him, but he is also naive and can act cruel due to his lack of picking up on things. He is stuck in adolescence in life and mind. Do Do-hee (UEE) might be a diva, but she is not better off. While she has the assertiveness Ho-goo often lacks, she is fixated on winning a fight for the sake of winning, while letting life pass her by.
At the moment, this combination of a romantic comedy with meatier topics and characters makes it clear that the presentation will be as important as the writing. While the show is really nicely made, there are some small issues with the editing and pacing, where some things can become a bit confusing. So far, this has not been the case with any of the more crucial parts of the plot, but it is something the production needs to pay close attention to in the future.
The humor is also a hit and miss, sometimes being a bit too random and borderline pointless slapstick, sometimes being spot on with its timing and the way it is acted. It can get a bit too cheap and some characters have yet to reveal a function other than being annoying comedic distractions. This does somewhat break the flow of all the nice, more subtle moments, but the topics explored and most of the characters and their lives are endearing and compelling enough for it to not be a major problem.
If 'Hogu's Love' progresses with the same current approach to its possible themes and main characters' development, it might just become a brilliant work. It has managed to present an incredibly moving, understated, but powerful introduction to its story. With two engaging leads very well acted by their performers and with a relationship full of potential, it has a lot going for it and can hopefully make the best of it.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Hogu's Love""
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