Do-hee (played by UEE) is a professional swimmer in a real grumpy mood. We don't find out why she's in a grumpy mood until near the end of the episode, because amazingly, the advertising team behind "Hogu's Love" has managed to hide an essential part of the premise. In retrospect it actually manages to seem pretty obvious, but all the same, watch this episode ignorant if at all possible.
After all, Hogu (played by Choi Wooshik), is coming from that same perspective. Whereas Do-hee is grumpy, Hogu is an absolute weenie. He doesn't have an assertive personality, so Hogu just lets people walk all over him. The portrayal here by Choi Wooshik is actually fairly endearing even as it's obviously pathetic- which is the main immediate strong point of "Hogu's Love". All the characters have clearly defined flaws that aren't cutesey little quirks. They're genuine personality issues in serious need of resolution.
And yet as the drama cleverly notes, there's a disturbing commonality between all these various types of selfish behavior. Hogu's sister Ho-kyeong (played by Lee Soo-kyung-I) is in fact the exact same kind of woman Hogu himself constantly ends up dating. Well, not really. Front and center in "Hogu's Love" is social commentary regarding how no one these days actually seems to know whether or not something is a date unless they specifically ask.
Hogu is particularly not helped by the fact that his friends openly mock him. Even granted that the guy kind of deserves it...but the sympathy of director Pyo Min-soo always remains quite clear. None of the characters we've seen so far are particularly bad people. The trouble is that most of them are so aggressively non-confrontational and useless that, well, this is how we end up in a world where a guy like Hogu is easily abused by anyone who shows him the least bit of kindness. It's not like anyone's actually aggressive-aggressive.
So far there isn't any real story to speak of, save for the final moment when Hogu and Do-hee are able to have an extended conversation. Even so, I already love the world that's been created here, and the characters who populate it. There's just something so eminently refreshing about people with so few moral convictions that the plot could quite literally go any direction, and everyone will learn from it. This is the untold story of modern life- about the people who suck at figuring out social rules. Go on, "Hogu's Love". Explain them some more. If nothing else it'll be good for some laughs.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hogu's Love" Episode 1"
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