Ah, finally the show is picking up! As I suspected, the show is turning into a full-on family drama. With the past couple of episodes, the pace is picking up and exciting relationships have developed. There is finally romance between the two main pairs. Only one confession of love has occurred – the other remains to be seen, but I think it just might be coming up soon. And still so far, even though the drama is titled A Thousand Kisses, there has only been one kiss (between the 2 main couples). And it was only on the cheek. I guess with this drama, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Here’s a brief overview of the past seven episodes. Since this drama is focused on the two main couples’ relationships, I will start with that.

Joo Mi and Woo Jin: Finally, Mr. Iceman (Joo Mi called him ‘Ice Ahjusshi’ for the longest time) has warmed up. A bit. His demeanor on the outside is still chiller than one would like a fiance to act, but he has improved. That’s right – I said fiance. In fact, he has finally gotten up the courage to ask Joo Mi to marry him! Never in a thousand years would I thought this would come from him. He says he made that decision because Joo Mi was the first woman he felt jealousy over. Wow, this man is 35 years old and he has gone on that long without ever feeling jealous over a girl? I kind of envy him – I wish I never got jealous when my crushes would flirt with other girls. Sigh…but unfortunately, their growing happiness is soon to be tested. They have begun sharing cute little moments here and there, and it’s really heartwarming seeing Woo Jin’s cold exterior slowly melt.

But…just at the end of episode 15, the two get into a fundamental fight about the woman’s role in a marriage (yeah, their relationship has been rather shallow up to this point) and the two agree to “rethink their marriage.” To be honest, I don’t know how they rushed into marriage so quickly in the first place.

Joo Young and Woo Bin: Woo Bin continues to do nice things for Joo Young, which she takes as someone taking pity on a recent divorcee. But when Joo Young gets into a traffic accident while on the phone with Woo Bin (a small injury due to being sideswiped by a motorcyclist), he basically flips the entirety of Seoul upside down trying to find her. It was then that he realized that he is in love with Joo Young, and from that point on he becomes very adamant in proclaiming his love for her. It’s really cute how direct and supportive Woo Bin is. He even broadcasts his love for her in public (albeit at a club, strange choice, Woo Bin) and plays her a song on the guitar (who knew he played? Or that he sings? Oh dramas and your randomness).

Even though Joo Young continues to resist his advances, Woo Bin doesn’t back down – he takes every chance he has to do everything in his power for her. Sigh – why can’t I have a handsome, charismatic, and loving guy like Woo Bin in my life? And here Joo Young continues hurt him, telling him she never saw him as a ‘man,’ and telling him she’s thinking of going back to her cheating husband. I’m sorry, Joo Young, but what are you thinking? I think this woman has too much pride and cannot accept sincere kindness or love. It’s poor Woo Bin that has to suffer from her indifference, unfortunately.

Joo Ji Sun (Cha Hwa Yeon) - perhaps the first kind step-mother

As for the developments, there has only been one real development, as far as plot goes. Yoo Ji Sun (Woo Jin’s step-mother) has stepped up her role in the drama from simply being a lead character’s mother to being a significant character in her own right. Ever since Ji Sun first met Joo Mi, Ji Sun felt a kind of kinship for Joo Mi, but it wasn’t until Joo Mi revealed her birth name that Ji Sun realized that Joo Mi is her own daughter, her own flesh and blood. Apparently Joo Mi and Joo Young’s mother left their family when they were both very young, and ever since then the mother has not attempted to contact them. Joo Young and their grandmother still harbors a lot of hate for the mother, but Joo Mi is oblivious to their grudge and knows little about why her mother left.

This significant backstory is very slowly revealing itself. Just as in other Korean dramas, family history takes forever to unravel. Those darn drama writers just want you to wait in suspense and anticipation. Even if you can’t sleep at night, they want you to suffer. They want to make sure that at least the family backstory grips you enough to keep watching. Why must you do this to us?!

Anyhow, this little reveal places quite a bit of strain on the impending wedding. After Joo Mi’s grandmother finds out that Woo Jin’s step-mother is Joo Mi’s real mother, she begins to vehemently oppose the marriage. It seems like she is the only one who is against the wedding, but that apparently seems to be enough to bring the wedding plans to a screeching halt. The line Joo Mi’s grandmother utters that I cannot seem to get out of my head is – “How can you make your daughter your daughter-in-law?” Has that ever happened in dramas? Heck, has that ever happened in real life?

And the character that I love to hate, the female antagonist, has sprung up in full form, and let me tell you, I am not at all happy about it. Woo Bin’s ex-girlfriend and Joo Young’s new department head, Han Yoo Kyung (portrayed by Cha Soo Yun), is the show’s official brat, and gosh, I really hate her to pieces. She’s the traditional (false) rumor-spreading, back-stabbing, manipulative female antagonist, and once again, she has absolutely no redeeming qualities. She’s done nothing in the show except irritate Woo Bin and make Joo Young’s life a living hell. I think the writers need to do something to tame this character, because if it were up to me, I’d probably drive her off a cliff and have the rest of her life subsist on straw.

I would like to nominate Cha Hwa Yeon (the actress who plays Yoo Ji Sun) for best actress of the drama award. I’ve always liked her and the way she portrays her character, but in the past couple of episodes, she has really stepped it up. Her backstory, the reveal of her real daughters, and her confrontation with her mother-in-law (Joo Mi and Joo Young’s grandmother) could’ve been annoying, and comical even. But Cha Hwa Yeon’s delicate and careful portrayal of the woman in distress is truly captivating. The lines she is given could be overdone and made hysterical in the hands of a less-skilled actress.

The honorary mention goes to Kim So Eun, who, despite her young age, never fails to bring life and joy to her character. Contrary to her role as the shy, self-conscious best friend to Geum Jandi in Boys Over Flowers, Kim So Eun glows as Joo Mi. The character’s every nuance and mood is captured perfectly by Kim So Eun, and to be honest – the drama can get a bit frustrating at times, so her warmth really goes a long way for this drama.

And as a summary, if you didn’t feel like reading – this drama is comfortable. The characters – from stubborn female protagonist to conniving antagonist to stoic chaebol – they’re all there. It’s formulaic, but good comfort food. The family drama is, as usual, quite ridiculous, but Cha Hwa Yeon pulls it off so well, I can’t even complain. It’s the others on the show – Woo Bin’s ex-girlfriend – that I really cant stand. However, the show is still pleasant to watch – some scenes are more exciting than others – but at the pace it’s going at now, I can see why other dramas are surpassing it in ratings and viewership. It is working hard to pick up the pace by throwing in one backstory after another, which is appreciated, but I wonder how the writers will tidy up the loose ends.

Perhaps I should jump on the Flower Boy Ramyun Shop boat and start reviewing that. What do y’all think? Let me know in the comments below!