I was unprepared for how much I liked this drama, especially since I've been in a somewhat prolonged slump in K-drama, so this was a welcome surprise. Without a doubt, Shim Woo Joo (Lee Sung-Kyung) is the star of this drama. I love everything about her. She is a rare and refreshing character in the K-drama world. I love how much she feels and isn't scared to show it. I love that she isn't a pushover. I love that she lets herself live her emotions, whether anger, frustration, hate, love, or whatever else. Kudos to Lee Sung-Kyung for doing such a fantastic job with her. She has come a very long way.
Call It Love may seem like a typical hate-to-love rom-com, but it is anything but that. This drama takes its time, slowly and meticulously sharing how selfish parents, greed, and extramarital affairs can destroy entire families while at the same time sharing how love at the most unimaginable time can change those loves. A lot touched me with this drama, and it's what makes it so relatable. I am from a culture where one is expected to respect elders and authority figures, but as I grew up, I realized respect is earned, not given. People cannot just demand it because culture expects it or because of age or blood relation. I don't know if this drama intends to push this notion, but I respect it for putting it out there, and it's why the story and the way it's told captured me completely.
The raw emotions in this drama and how it looks to tackle societal expectations in who and what love looks like and the need to continually save other people's face/pride, especially of elders, bosses, seniors, and family members, at one's expense, always disguising their true feelings feels more like punishment than reverence. Add to that the hierarchical societal roles and the logic or illogical stance of obedience, responsibility, and adherence at all times is a part of the culture that is hard to accept or even understand if one is not born into it.
As good as Lee Sung-Kyung is, Kim Young Kwang is even better in how he plays Han Dong Jin. I love him in this very stoic, melancholy role. I haven't seen him like this before, apart from his last Netflix drama, Somebody, now that was something else. I liked him as an actor, but that drama proved he isn't just a pretty face with a beautiful smile. The man can act. But this drama doesn't just do a fantastic job of flushing out Woo Joo and Dong Jin as leads but puts the same detail and care in Yoon Joon (Sung Joon) as Woo Joo's closet friend and conscious, practically a family member, Shim Hye Seong (Kim Ye Won) as the immature older sister, Sim Ji Gu (Jang Sung Bum), the baby of the family, Choi Sun Woo (Jun Suk Ho) and even Kang Min Young (Ahn Hee Yeon), Dong Jin's ex-girlfriend is what makes Call It Love such a good drama.
Early on, I understood Woo Joo's need for revenge. I knew her approach would backfire at some point. I also appreciated her family's reaction to her falling in love with the sworn enemy's son, the unspoken rule, and how much of a taboo it was, but I couldn't find fault in her catching feelings for him. What I found hurtful more than her falling in love was how unfairly she'd judged Han Dong Jin for simply being the enemy's son. Even before knowing what kind of person he was, she and her family had already considered him as foul as his mother. The sad thing about judging others is that it doesn't define the judged but those who judge.
I wish Woo Joo had just opened up to Han Dong Jin, but then life is so much more complex than that. Despite growing up with a selfish mother (Nam Ki Ae, who does a great job making me hate her, brilliant acting), I love the person and man he's become. To think that this world has a parent like his makes me cringe and filled with sorrow. I cannot comprehend parents like her or like Woo Joo's father, but I now fully understand the saying that every child deserves a parent, but not every parent deserves a child. People say we are products of our environment, but I tend to agree with those who say we are products of our choices despite our environment.
Life is so unfair at times, but it's also a string of natural and unexpected changes and opportunities for growth, despite or maybe because of it. It's admirable how far everyone in this drama has come, especially Woo Joo and Hye Seong. I love that falling in love doesn't distinguish between enemies or friends. It doesn't follow human-set cultures or blind traditions. It happens because it's right and, in the process, changes everything for the better.
I love this drama and how everything, spoken and unspoken words, movements, stares -- all has meaning, how the story unfolds about the choices parents, their children, lovers, bosses, and everyone in between make and the consequences of those choices have on the people around them. Everything clicks and falls into place despite how complex we humans can get. And the evidence is in how love finds Woo Joo and Dong Jin and Yoon Joon and Hye Seong without them looking for it. I value this drama for conveying that life is a matter of choices. Just because something is traditional or culturally acceptable, or not for that matter, is no reason to continue, especially when it causes more harm than good. As they say, one's tradition and culture should be a guide, not a jailor. As they say, one's tradition and culture should be a guide, not a jailor. As I said, I wasn't prepared for how much I would enjoy this drama, and to think I almost didn't watch it because of its title. A lesson learned never again to judge a drama by its title.
They say to engage an audience and have them relate to the characters in a story, character development is critical, and if there was any drama that had that in abundance, it's this one. Throughout the 16-week journey, all the characters, even the horrid mom, grew tremendously. What made this drama special was how convincing the actors were, but more importantly, the dialogue and the talking back and forth were beautifully done. I love the message too. Love can forgive all if we let it. All the actors were outstanding, but Kim Young Kwang stood out to me the most. He was just superb. Kudos to everyone involved with this heartwarming drama. Watch this drama, it won't disappoint you. Watch this drama here; it won't disappoint.