Reviews

Heartstrings – Korean Drama Review

Hangul: 넌 내게 반했어
English: Heartstrings
Romanized: Neon Naege Banhaesseo*

*You’ve Fallen For Me

Synopsis: Lee Shin and Gyu Won are both students of the same university, but rivals in their musical accomplishments. Lee Shin is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the band The Stupid, while Gyu Won is living under the great expectations of her grandfather to become a gayaguem proficient. Their “Western” and “Traditional” styles collide, first through a competitive concert, and again when faced with participation in the school’s 100th anniversary musical production.

My Rating: PG-13 for language and suggestive dance. I expected this to be a lot more tame, like You’re Beautiful, but my goodness, some of these university kids have words they be sayin’… o.O

Inferior American Counterpart: High School Musical

Excepting the first episode, the entire drama is centered around the ups and downs of the 100th anniversary musical play. There are characters to mirror many of those in HSM, namely, the ruthless and Sharpay-like Hee Joo, who will stop at nothing to keep her spot as lead actress. Gyu Won must choose between her love of traditional music and her new found joy in musical drama, similar to Troy Bolton’s shift in priorities. And of course, the fact that it’s all about a school musical only enhances the comparisons.

Characters:

Watch it for the characters. Not even for the main couple. Lee Shin and Gyu Won have their moments–mostly mid-way through the drama, they start being cute. But on the whole, it’s Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo who steal the spotlight for most adorable and loveable couple. Because of their past, both are very bitter towards one another, and Suk Hyun is a bigger jerk than Lee Shin. But once they start acting like adults and decide to start over, I fell completely in love with them as a couple. I love when Yoon Soo is faced with the a decision that could potentially destroy everything Suk Hyun has worked for, and she answers the test with grace, and firmness, and loyalty, and I was so relived to see that.

Lee Shin is a jerk and he bothers me. Not only because he’s supposed to be Shin Woo (Hello, Jung Young Hwa, what are you doing?!) and fails miserably, but also because he doesn’t have any serious traumatic back story to make us sympathetic. He’s just a big-headed jerk. His greatest trial is that girls like him too much, and ugly girls keep chasing him. Even when he makes his Stupid “Noble” Sacrifice, it doesn’t feel like his motives are pure, because he hides it under more jerkiness. And the only reason through the whole drama that he and Gyu Won weren’t being a cute couple was his own bloody fault. At least Joon Pyo had the excuse that his mother was a witch and screwed up his chances for a normal life. Lee Shin has no excuse. He’s just a butt. This should be his theme song.

A rare cute moment between our main couple. Best part with them in the whole drama. It was over too fast. :(

I love the side characters, though. When Lee Shin is being intolerably infuriating, I pay closer attention to the background characters, like Gyu Won’s friends and the other young actors participating in the school musical. Joon Hee (CNBlue’s real life drummer) is too cute with his persistent chasing of a girl who doesn’t deserve him.

Hilarity Per Episode:

The grandfather is a riot. I hated him, then loved him, then hated him again. But overall, I think he’s fantastic. :P And Joon Hee makes me giggle all the time.

The drama on a whole was pretty funny to me, but mostly because I got so bored with some scenes that my brother and I started making a lot of inside jokes about characters. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it very much on my own.

Soundtrack:

The theme songYou’ve Fallen For Me is brilliant. It fits the drama perfectly, it’s sung by the lead… aaaand it’s now the default ringtone on my phone. There are other good songs featured, but on the whole I think there are too many American influences. Yes, that’s right. Get your America out of my Korean dramas! :P I love the Carmen Fantasy battle between bands!

Sleep Deprivation:

The plot didn’t thrill me. Even if there are little to no big twists, I’ll stay up all hours of the night to watch a drama if I feel invested in the lead character’s relationships. I did not. The cute moments were cute, but Lee Shin didn’t do anything memorable; good or bad. If you’re going to make him a jerk, make him a really big one and then have a huge turnaround where all he does is strive to make up for it through the last half of the series. Or make him the sweetest man alive (*coughs*Shin Woo*coughs*) and throw circumstances in the way that he has to overcome. That is what builds anticipation for the next episode, and keeps me emotionally invested. The tension in the end of the very first episode was fantastic and gave me high hopes… but then Lee Shin went right back to creepishly stalking and crushing on a woman twelve years his senior. Not cool. I was also disappointed that they didn’t do much with the servant thing. When Gyu Won has to be Lee Shin’s servant, it seems the most he can think to make her do is bring him a cappuccino. Come on, guys, really? There was so much potential with that scenario and they really let me down.

Eye Candy:

I’m finding more and more that my perception of good looks relies heavily on personality. I think Jung Young Hwa is super good looking in You’re Beautiful, and all his “real life” photos, but in Heartstrings I think he’s just “meh.” Which is funny, because he looks exactly the same in both dramas. It’s his attitude I can’t stand.

For once, I found myself watching the drama for the girls’ looks. Park Shin Hye is adorable. I like to see this more serious side to her. But she’s still positively adorable.

Ending:

After all that needless angst, I felt it was a terrible disappointment. There wasn’t enough communicated on Lee Shin’s part to make up for any of the completely unnecessary frustration he put Gyu Won through. Yeah, okay, they get together. But I wanted more. Lee Shin should have had to beg. MY forgiveness, if not Gyu Won’s, because I spent 15 hours waiting for him to shape up.

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