I am a huge Kim Ok Bin fan. The first time I saw her was in The Villainess, and she was brilliant -- a true villainess. And I have since enjoyed her in everything she's done, especially Children of a Lesser God. I have seen her master all kinds of roles, from an assassin to a future foreseeing police officer, to playing Tan Ya in the Arthdal Chronicles series, to a zombie-fighting detective in Dark Hole. She is perfect in all of them.
In every role Kim Ok Bin plays, her characters played perfectly, and what I love most is that she always plays a strong, badass female lead. Having read the premise of this drama, I wasn't sure if the role of Yeo Mi Ran would suit her, but I needn't have worried. She plays her so naturally that it is almost hard to separate the actor from the character.
At first, it doesn't seem like it, but Yeo Mi Ran is similar to many other female roles Kim Ok Bin has played in many ways. She is tenacious, headstrong, and righteous and does not let any man walk all over her or get too close. She is a lawyer, and by all accounts a very good one, but in her personal life is a true philanderess, never faithful to one man, and it goes back to her home life more than anything until she meets Nam Kang Ho (Yoo Teo), a famous actor in South Korea due to his handsome appearance, intelligence, and kindness. He is sought after to work in romantic movies but doesn't trust women and cringes at the mere thought of their touch to the extent that it leads to severe panic attacks controlled only by subscription medication.
Love to Hate You is a romance drama about a woman who detests male chauvinists and meets a borderline misogynist with a prejudice against women who at first hate each other, but as they slowly get to know each other, they are drawn to each other. Before they know it, they fall in love. And in many ways, their difference brings them together to make them the perfect couple. In a way, it's the typical hate-to-love drama, with a twist of a contractual relationship that leads to a full-blown romance. But what's different about Love to Hate You is that it intelligently handles sexism and prejudices against women, whether in the workplace, at home, or in relationships, and how society disguises it as culture or tradition, making it socially acceptable to keep women at a lower social status than men.
But what's intriguing about Love to Hate You is that it not only addresses misogyny but also brings awareness to manizing (women who pursue multiple casual relationships with different men) and the sexual double standard of a patriarchal society that glorifies, rewards, and even praises men for their womanizing way. In contrast, women are derogated and stigmatized for similar behaviors. Love to Hate You doesn't just stop there; it also sheds light on the complex landscape of the cancel culture and how fans are crucial stakeholders in the entertainment industry. Their passion, excitement, and involvement are pivotal in making or breaking the celebrity they have a significant hand in creating. In a way, holding them accountable for their actions, but in some cases, it can be extreme.
Many celebrities deserve to be canceled, mainly if the wrongs they engage in or have engaged in the past reflect their character (sexual assaults, bullying, prostitution, sex trafficking, emotional, mental, or physical harassment, abuse in the workplace or at home, etc.). Other than that, in my opinion, who a celebrity chooses to sleep with, love, marry, spend their time with, or how they live their personal lives is their business. As such, I loved how Love to Hate You addressed Yeo Mi Ran's manizing past and how Nam Kang Ho stands up for his love and doesn't give in to the pressures of his agency or fans. I hope some celebrities who are similarly and unfairly impacted by the cancel culture can, in my opinion, could learn a thing or two from Nam Kang Ho.
It would be a real mistake to assume that Love to Hate You is just another rom-com; it's far from it. Yes, it has some silly and funny moments, but it also has some profound moments that refreshingly push the boundaries in K-drama to question ridiculous, if somewhat offensive acceptable social norms, which elevates the show from your typical, expected rom-com to delightfully unexpected. Aside from the powerful message it sends, Love to Hate You brings some beautiful visuals in actor Kim Ji Hoon as Do Won Joon Nam Kang Ho's agent, protector, and friend; Go Won Hee as Shin Na Eun as Yeo Mi Ran best friend and fierce protector; Lee Joo Bin as Oh Se Na Nam Kang Ho's first love and many others who did a fabulous job portraying their different characters. You can watch Love to Hate You here.