I endured twenty hours of crying in hopes that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. I stubbornly held onto the belief that this tragic drama would have a silver lining but as the episodes progressed, it just got sadder and sadder with nothing else to look forward to.
What I initially loved about this drama was the subtle way in which they were documenting Lee Seo Yeon’s (Soo Ae) memory loss. She forgot to wear her shoes to the bathroom, brushed her teeth more than a dozen times during the day and sometimes got lost on her way home. But the strong-willed and strong minded Lee Seo Yeon tried her best to prevent this illness from interfering with her life. Her office and apartment were filled with post-its to remind her about the mundane things in life. Where the salt and pepper shakers were, how to get to her office, to remind herself to take her phone before leaving, etc etc. Such scenes did a great job in portraying the hardships that Lee Seo Yeon faced as the result of the illness and such subtle writing was what got me sucked into this drama in the first place. The production value and Lee Seo Yeon’s wardrobe were just an added bonus.
And while Lee Seo Yeon was trying to endure the illness by herself, her family members slowed chipped in to help her get by. Most importantly, Park Ji Hyung (Kim Rae Won), her secret lover, called off his wedding with Noh Hyang Ki (Jung Yoo Mi) to be with his true love during her last days. It’s ironic that only with the death notice did Park Ji Hyung have the courage to call off his wedding, but that’s K-drama for ya. He put his filial duty and responsibility towards Noh Hyang Ki, a family friend whom he’s known since childhood, before his true love. But once he realized that his true love was dying, he had no qualms about dismissing any of his responsibilities.
Although Noh Hyang Ki’s parents were having a hard time accepting this painful situation (calling off the marriage on the day of the ceremony isn’t festive per se), the bride was really mature about it. In fact, it became clear that she really loved Park Ji Hyung, as much as Park Ji Hyung loved Lee Seo Yeon and genuinely wished the secret couple the best. Some netizens criticized her character for being too forgiving of Park Ji Hyung when she prayed for Lee Seo Yeon to get better or when she took care of their child. But to me, it was evident that she wholeheartedly loved Park Ji Hyung and I don’t think there is anything wrong with loving someone that much, even if you end up doing seemingly stupid things in the process.
The way in which Lee Seo Yeon and Park Ji Hyung were dealing with her memory loss seemed realistic and was sad, but that was it. It was just a lot of sad, tragic and scary moments. Lee Seo Yeon almost stabbed her infant’s eyes out because the she didn’t like her child’s haircut, she didn’t take off her clothes before jumping into the shower, almost jumped off the balcony because she was depressed, only to forget the next day, etc etc.
And as the illness progressed, the family’s acceptance of Park Ji Hyung’s situation improved and his parents played a more active role in the child’s development. And that was perhaps the only happy element of this drama. All the other scenes were filmed and written to make the viewer just cry more, which was what surprised and disappointed me the most. The readers knew what the ending would be like — that’s what we know going in — but I was hoping that they would develop the storyline to show another aspect of the illness or at least make it more hopeful.
In fact, they had many opportunities to make this drama less tragic and more hopeful. Lee Seo Yeon’s decision to have the baby instead of aborting it to prolong her life was a huge decision and in my opinion, the biggest turning point of the drama. Lee Seo Yeon and Park Ji Hyung knew that their life was on the decline and they could’ve done everything to treasure their moment together and try to leave something for the baby, maybe write a daily letter to the unborn baby to explain the situation and to make sure that she receives motherly advice even when she’s not around. Or, she could have used her current situation to write a novel, something she had not been engaged in because she felt that she was always a “cheap” author just ghost writing for someone else. Alternatively, Park Ji Hyung could’ve specially designed a house for his wife who is inevitably the prisoner of their lonely apartment so that she could enjoy her last moments.
There were so many other paths the story could’ve taken, but all these possibilities just remained possibilities while the drama writers just focused on making the viewers cry and cry some more. And that was the biggest mistake and failure of this drama. The viewers, myself included, took on this 20 hour journey with the characters in hopes of not only to witnessing Lee Seo Yeon’s tragic faith, but also being able to share in the experience that ending may be sad, the journey can be filled with hope.