Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jung Hwan Syndrome: Why I'm Done With Love Triangles

I've never actually liked love triangles.  Why would I like that level of uncertainty in a show that I came to see a romance in?  Love triangles aren't romance, they are lame.  I suppose I tolerated them as a necessary evil in all K-dramas, but there are different types of love triangles.

The kind that is most tolerable for me is the one where even though there is a second male lead, you know that he never really had a chance and that he really isn't an issue, but is a bit annoying or makes the male lead actually act instead of being a scaredy cat bum or whatever.  The type I hate the most is the one who for some reason gets way too much screen time and makes the love story plot weak and disconnected.  I'm all about a reasonable build and flow that makes sense and allows me to build the right kind of feels instead of last minute forcing them down my throat.  Does this make it a little formulaic?  Maybe, but at least I am seeing the romance I want blossoming.

Recently there has been a trend of too many surprises and/or spending way too much time on the wrong person such as the second male lead or even who we thought was the second male lead so we don't have time to develop the story with the real male lead... if he really is the male lead.  You know what I'm talking about.  Reply 1988.  But this isn't the only offender.  This is just one of the worst that gives this syndrome a name.  The Jung Hwan Syndrome is a syndrome of no longer trusting certain types of love triangles because they are full of shiz.  It's basically first lead syndrome, or when the first lead is unclear or stolen from us.  Sadly, 88 is not the only one pulling that kind of stunt these days.  I find myself feeling these feelings of mistrust and betrayal all too frequently lately.

Reply 1988

The worst kind of lame ending is the one given to a show that started out so good.  I loved Reply 1988 up until the time jump, where everything fell apart and seemed to defy all logic as they rammed what was once the second male lead down our throats as the male lead.

I have nothing against Taek.  I love Park Bo Gum (more as a creepy monster kid, but I'm trying to not let this betrayal sour me).  I don't love being tricked into loving one man (Jung Hwan) only to be betrayed at the end with a sudden shiz dump.  Romance is about the build and is not something that can be shoved down our throats at the last second.

If Taek had been the one from the start, I would have been more okay with this, but since they obviously just changed it (to the point where her future husband has a split personality) and then made up crap to make it "work" (which it never did).

What this says to me is: "They will never be together.  She is babying him.  Gross."

The worst part is that they spent all that time making us fall in love with Jung Hwan at the beginning, developing his feelings from the very start.  We saw it from a tender sprout, and watched it awkwardly grow.  It was adorable.

He was just a sweet guy who was too gruff and awkward to show his feelings.  But he did somehow.  Then they made him make a little mistake.  Then they screwed him over with eternal stagnation.  That wasn't a bad mistake.  It was a misunderstanding.  Then they banished him.  Why?

That's how I felt about the ending too, Jung Hwan.  I feel ya.

Taek appeared on the scene already in the middle of a crush.  We saw no reason or rhyme for why this was.  We saw no development and no build.  He was just there, almost as a second male lead to make our male lead, Jung Hwan, take no action.  Then they banish Jung Hwan away and there is still no reason for Taek to win, because he still has no progress.

Then they do the ultimate bad thing.  Watch Jung Hwan go through all that suspense and pain only to be too late.  Would we be happy that Taek got there first?  Not in a million years.

Don't try to tell me Taek wasn't the second male lead.  He was. This was the love triangle from hell.

I'm Sorry, I Love You

Similarly, this Taiwanese drama gave me similar "first lead syndrome" or rather it kept confusing me as to who the first male lead was.  The problem was the same as from 88.  They spent too much time on one male lead at the beginning until I couldn't really be sympathetic to the person who actually ended up with the girl.

This story was about the bromance, number one.  But they spent way too much time getting us involved and interested in the ghost male lead's relationship with the no-personality female lead that we couldn't really connect her to the nerd male lead.  I never could get myself to like those two.  They kept showing us how cute the ghost and her were in the past and how unfair it was, and then when the ghost was still alive, they gave us that fool hope that maybe he could come back alive and be happy, and then they cruelly ripped that hope for us, sinking all our ships in one fell swoop.  The ghost did not live for more than like one episode, and the ghost and nerd were never alive at the same time, ruining the bromance for forever.  Worst story ever.

It would have been a much better show if they had died together.  At least then the important people would be together.  Aka, the bromance.

Cheese in the Trap

Cheese in the Trap was guilty of the same problem as Reply 1988 in the fact that they banished the male lead to a far away place and suddenly gave him no screen time.  Like Jung Hwan, Yoo Jung left the side of Seol for work purposes and suddenly had no screen time whatsoever.  Like, he'd be in each episode for like one or two scenes totaling to five minutes.  Then they would give the second male lead, Baek In Ho, way too much screen time.

Like Taek, we actually liked Baek In Ho as a person, but when he has a disproportionate amount of screen time, that is just going to make us frustrated and bored of him.  His problems aren't that important, why do we have to focus so much on them?  Are they trying to make us think that he actually has a chance?  Why would they do that?  Not cool.

This made me less and less happy about watching the show (who cuts the male lead out of his own show?  Nonsense!) especially when the previews showed too much crap or second male lead screen time.  I would be like "nope, let's watch something else."  Why?  Because I am done with crappy love triangles.  I have Jung Hwan Syndrome.

Doctor Stranger

This was like an opposite love triangle, because I was getting confused as to who the female lead was.  This wasn't helped by the fact that I loved Kang So Ra a million times more than Jin Se Yeon.  The chemistry between Kang So Ra and Lee Jong Suk was so good too.  She was the most likable second female lead.

But then I was struggling with that love triangle as well as I loved the chemistry between Kang So Ra and Park Hae Jin too!

I wanted there to be two couples, except I didn't really care if Lee Jong Suk ended up with Jin Se Yeon, I just wanted him to be happy, which means that he needed to be with her because first love crap.

One More Happy Ending

This one is a little different in how the love triangle compares to the others I have mentioned, but it is still a crappy love triangle.  You know why?  It doesn't make any sense.  I think it just was dragged out too long.  They also definitely gave that creepy doll face second male lead too much screen time.

 I never saw anything to like in him, so when it kept dragging on for so long, and they made such a big deal of the inevitable break up, it was just ridiculous.

Yet there are some things I liked about this love triangle, that set's apart from those crappy ones.  You could actually see the thought processes most of the time.  We got to compare the two leads, and the one she ends up with is the nicer, sweeter, and sexier one.

We can see why she realized that she liked Soo Hyuk, especially as she compared how he treated her to how her boyfriend treated her.

Descendants of the Sun

It's amazing.  There is no love triangle!  Yet.  Well, hopefully, and how it looks, there never will be one, really.  I love that there are two main couples and their love stories are super compelling.

And while I might be more emotionally drawn to the army sergeant couple (Jin Goo-Kim Ji Won), I love how open and chemistry filled the Song couple is.

Let's be honest, I just love everyone in this show.  Rawr.

Do K-dramas need love triangles?  No.  They don't.  They could be very happy and well off with just lots of couples.  Will anything change?  Probably not.  But I will be watching less crappy love triangle based shows.  In fact, I started this T-Drama called Love or Spend, or something like that, the other day, and after realizing that it was going to be like 77 episodes of crappy love triangle, I stopped it.  I probably won't ever finish it because no.  There needs to be no more Jung Hwans who don't get the girl.  No more unbalanced first to second lead screen time or misdirected screen time, and there definitely doesn't need to be surprise endings as to who the girl is going to end up with, as if she doesn't have a choice.  We want to see the love story unfold, not be confused as to who the end game is going to be.  Like if we can't just tell from the beginning, and be rooting for them from the beginning, then jama.  We no likey.  The end.


  1. I still haven't finished Reply 1988 because I am still so angry about Jung Hwan. Like really angry. I hate that K-drama feels like (a) it has to have a love triangle and (b) that they have to "surprise" the audience at all costs. It's really dumb. And if they intended to have Taekkie as the husband from the beginning, they should have written his character arc better. *fumes*.

    1. I was so angry that I turned it off, threw the remote down and left the room. Then I tried to watch it again and did it again. Then I calmed down and forced myself to finish, but I was angry the rest of the time. Lizabreff can attest to that. She was surprised at how I was more visibly angry than she was, even though she was 100% agreeing with me. This was just a case of horrible writing and I 100% agree with both your points.

      The scene where they get together was like watching strangers on the street with too much PDA. It was confusing and gross.

    2. I am just so sick and tired of the bait and switch and writers screwing with our heads mentality. It's just terrible and in the end it's going to come back to bite them in the butt. Watchers will turn to other places to get their fill. Though I can't for the life of me understand the DOTS hype. I haven't bothered to start to watching it because I've heard the writing is awful. I love Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Gyo, but I am so tired of poor writing. How are the views so high?! I don't get it! Is Song Joong Ki really that handsome that people will watch drivel just to see him? *sigh*

    3. I was the same. I refused to get in on the hype, because that usually leads to disappointment, but I have to say that I love watching DOTS. It's true that the plot and stuff isn't written the best, its pretty typical drama, but the characters are worth it. Joong Ki is worth it. I guess it's one of those crack shows because it's all about the hot men. The bromance between Joong Ki and Jin Goo is the best. Those hot men also have enough swag and attitude that I could swoon for days. They are also hilarious. It's also one of the most straight forward romances ever, since they're like flirting and dating from episode 1, although she has issues that makes it a little annoying, but they aren't ridiculous issues. Basically even though it's epically dramatic and stuff, it's still enjoyable to watch for those sexy, snarky army boys. woot. The plot and stuff is just typical stuff. But then I go for enjoyability a bit more than quality sometimes, so there is that. Lizabreff and I are super enjoying it though.

    4. This post sums up what I was trying to say about the bromance.

    5. This post sums up what I was trying to say about the bromance.