Sitting down to watch these first 2 episodes of Revolutionary Love, I didn’t really expect to find myself feeling so compelled to write a review. I thought it was just going to be one of those silly little fluff dramas that I could use to fill the space between the heartier dramas I’m currently watching, so I went into it completely unprepared for what I was getting myself into. However, now that I’ve squealed and giggled my way through these first couple of episodes, I find myself fully convinced this drama is one that needs to be written about. Why? Well, to put it simply, it’s because I’ve fallen head-over-heels for this incredibly wonderful trio of main characters. Yeah, I know, my reasoning on this one is totally sound. But hey, if I’m going to dedicate endless hours to writing this new review, I should at least be motivated, and really, what’s more motivating that Choi Siwon, Gong Myung and Kang So Ra playing 3 incredibly lovable characters? (My point exactly!)
Okay, so I suppose I ought to come clean right now and tell you that the only reason I sat down to watch this drama was because I was so darn excited about Siwon’s return from his military service. He made me fall completely in love with him when he played Kim Shin Hyuk in She Was Pretty and then he had to up and leave, leaving me and who knows how many others, to pine for him for the next 2 years. Hearing that he had signed onto a new drama almost immediately after his military discharge made me absolutely giddy. After all, this gaping hole in my heart wasn’t going to heal itself! That’s why I was more than a little excited to hear that Siwon would be making a return to the small screen. Did I have any idea what this drama was going to be about? No. Did I bother to look it up? No. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, it’s just that it didn’t matter to me what drama he had agreed to take on, I knew I’d be watching it regardless. (Yes, I am a pathetic fangirl but we all knew that already so let’s move on.)
With visions of Kim Shin Hyuk dancing in my head, I came into this drama with rather skewed expectations of Siwon’s character. Siwon did such a great job with Shin Hyuk, transforming this hilariously goofy character into one that you couldn’t help but love, I was really hoping he’d be given the chance to do the same with this new character. Needless to say, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed with this initial introduction to Byun Hyuk. Utterly useless as a person and completely crazy as a character, Byun Hyuk is everything I was hoping this character would be and more. Siwon does such a great job of portraying a character who uses his outward silliness to cover up some pretty serious emotional wounds and it’s so obvious that Byun Hyuk is just such a character. (Eeek! I’m giddy just thinking about all the opportunities Hyuk will have to grow!) Obviously, with a character in so much need of guidance and love, a pretty strong leading lady is going to be a must. Lucky for us, we have Kang So Ra taking on that role and I couldn’t be happier!
Once again, I suppose I ought to confess that I absolutely love Kang So Ra. I fell in love with her back in 2014 when she played the fantastic Dr. Oh Soo Hyun in Doctor Stranger. It was the first time I’d ever suffered such an extreme case of Second Lead Syndrome over a female character and honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever suffered a case as severe since. To this day, I can’t forgive Lee Jong Suk’s character, Park Hoon, for choosing Jae Hee/Seung Hee over Soo Hyun. He was an idiot for making the choices he did and that entire drama fell apart because of that stupidity but whatever. I’m not here to reopen old wounds. Instead, I’ll just go back to squealing over Kang So Ra and how happy I am to see her in a role that has the potential to let her shine as brightly as she deserves. (Sorry Warm and Cozy but Kang So Ra deserves so much more than you could ever offer.)
I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Kang So Ra take on a role that lets her be the strong, intelligent, independent woman she portrays so well. It was these characteristics that made me love her character in Doctor Stranger and it’s these characteristics that have made me fall so very much in love with Baek Joon. There’s something so satisfying about seeing a leading lady who’s actually more than capable of taking care of herself. Maybe it’s because so many drama leading ladies are portrayed as weak, helpless, pathetic creatures who need a prince charming to come along and rescue them from their sad, lonely, miserable lives… I know the whole damsel in distress thing is pretty much an unbreakable Drama Land law which is probably why when it’s actually broken, it’s such a wonderful thing. Call me crazy, but I think women are more than capable of taking care of themselves and I love that Baek Joon proves that. Sure, she’s working a zillion part-time jobs to make ends meet and her life isn’t always easy, but she’s not complaining about any of that. In fact, she’s chosen this lifestyle because she knows that even if she spends all that time and money building up her resume, even if she uses that resume to land a solid, full-time job, it’s all going to amount to nothing in 10 years or so. Just look at the people around her. Her group of friends at the construction site were all former hot-shots in the corporate world and now they’re nothing but a group of manual laborers who work their butts off for ₩90,000 a day.
While this may not seem like the ideal lifestyle, Baek Joon has decided to live this way as a way of making a very personal social statement and from what we can tell so far, she seems relatively happy. Well, as happy as a Drama Land leading lady can be anyway. Yes, her life has been hard. Yes, she’s suffered some incredibly heart-breaking blows during her lifetime, but like all leading ladies, she’s doing the best she can to survive and unlike a lot of her Drama Land counterparts, she’s doing a pretty good job. She has enough jobs to keep a steady income. She’s able to cover all of her living expenses. She’s even doing well enough she can afford to treat Byun Hyuk to several meals and cover his bus fare. I know none of this requires a huge fortune but as Baek Joon has pointed out, she’s living in Hell Joseon which means she probably doesn’t have a lot of money to spare. (Hence her squeezing every little bit she can out of the unwitting Byun Hyuk.) The only area in which she really suffers is in her family life. From what we can glean so far, Baek Joon hasn’t had a very happy home life. We know her father died when she was just a kid and at some point her mother remarried. When this second marriage took place is still a mystery but we can easily see that, at least from Joon’s perspective, this wasn’t a happy occasion. Whatever relationship Joon may have had with her mother before her father’s death has completely deteriorated, so much so, that Joon isn’t even willing to speak to her mother now. Not that I can blame her. If the only contact Joon has with her mother is when the woman asks for money, it’s easy to understand Joon’s resentment. Joon may be doing well enough to get by on her own but she’s in no position to be taking care of a woman who can’t even seem to take care of herself and she’s certainly not in a position to help out someone who seems to have left Joon with some pretty deep emotional scars.\
Speaking of scars… It’s pretty obvious that Joon isn’t the only person in this story suffering from some deep emotional wounds. Each and every one of these main characters is hurting in one way or another and I think it’s this common (albeit painful) bond that is going to be the glue that binds them together. Or maybe it’ll be the force that ultimately draws them closer? Eh… It’ll be something along those lines, I’m sure. After all, Joon may be a tough cookie on the outside but she really does have a heart of gold. She’s the type of person who can’t help but feel other people’s pain and when she sees someone hurting, she can’t help but step in and do what she can to help. This is why her friend, Yeon Hee, comes to her when she’s upset about the whole airplane incident and the consequential hush money. Joon is just one of those people who’s easy to talk to, she’s a sympathetic soul and she’s willing to take up justice’s cause whenever needed. This is why she and Byun Hyuk hit things off so well. I know their whole meeting was a case of mistaken identity but for the first time in his life, Hyuk met someone who treated him like an actual human being so naturally, he was smitten. It’s funny how easily a person is touched when shown even the tiniest bit of kindness and respect. Having never experienced either from those around him, Hyuk’s attraction to Joon was inevitable.
Of course we have to admit that Hyuk hasn’t been living the most noble of lives. It’s pretty obvious that he’s chosen to live the life of a lazy, good-for-nothing, second son but from what we’ve seen of his character so far, I’m not convinced that he chose this lifestyle because he actually wanted it. Something tells me Hyuk was forced into this destructive pattern of behavior because he wasn’t given a chance to do anything else. It’s pretty obvious that Byun Sr. expects nothing but failure from his second son. My question is, when did this become the norm in the Byun household? We’ve only gotten a small glimpse into Hyuk’s past and it was through the warped eyes of Kwon Je Hoon, so who knows how accurate that flashback really was, but from what we’ve seen so far, Hyuk was a pretty beloved son as a child. So what happened? When did Daddy Byun stop seeing his second son as worthwhile? Was it a change in behavior brought on by the rebellious acts of an emotional teen Hyuk? Was it possibly a change in affection inspired by the actions of a jealous older brother? Obviously the relationship between the two Byun sons isn’t as healthy as people would like to believe. Could this unspoken rivalry be what started Hyuk’s down this path towards contempt? We all know sibling rivalry can bring about some pretty awful stuff in Drama Land, could this be another example we add to that list? It’s hard to say what set Hyuk on this path. It could be that he’s always been the despised second son. Maybe he’s never been able to live up to his father’s ridiculous standards so instead of trying he’s decided to accept his fate as it is.
Whatever the reason for Hyuk’s initial behavior, it’s pretty obvious that he wants to make things right. I’d like to think that Hyuk has come to this decision on his own but I’m pretty sure Joon has a big part to play in his current change of heart. Whatever the reason, Hyuk doesn’t want to be seen as the worthless second son anymore and he’s willing to take whatever punishment is necessary to make things right. The problem is, his father is more concerned with preserving the family name than anything else and that means Hyuk essentially has to become a fugitive of the law. I’m not really sure in what world this decision could be considered a good one but I suppose when you live with a man who can beat a person half to death without even batting an eye (How the heck is that even remotely okay???) it’s better to just do what you’re told than face the wrath of an angry, abusive father.
I get that this whole running from the law thing is supposed to be a humorous way to set up our OTP but when you stop to think about it, it’s pretty sad. Hyuk may be a 3rd generation chaebol heir but he’s utterly alone in this world. He’s been kicked out of his house. He caught his girlfriend cheating on him with his “friend.” He’s being forced to hide from the law by his family and the family’s company and out of the only 2 people in the world who might ever come to consider him as a true friend, one thinks he a perverted good-for-nothing and the other utterly despises and resents him. This doesn’t put Hyuk in a very favorable position but it does mean he has a lot of room to grow as a character and that makes me very, very happy.
As happy as I may be for Hyuk’s growth potential, I am a little worried about Gong Myung’s character, Kwon Je Hoon. (For the record, I love Gong Myung as much as I love his co-stars but as it is, I think I’ve taken too much time gushing over my biases so I’ll spare you any more of my insanity. Woohoo!) It’s very obvious that this young man is carrying around some pretty heavy baggage and it’s going to take a lot of work before he gets to a place where he’s willing to let that go. The problem is, I don’t think Je Hoon is very eager to be rid of all that emotional garbage. I think he’s used his contempt and jealousy of Hyuk to compel him forward for years. That’s why he’s allowed himself to take such a despicable position within Hyuk’s family’s company. I don’t think anyone would ever dream of being someone else’s family mess cleaner-upper but this is exactly where Je Hoon finds himself. I’m pretty sure the fact that he’s been put in charge of Hyuk is like salt in a wound but Je Hoon seems to be the type to take life’s insults and injuries and use them to his advantage. Hence, the well-paying job in a stable company. It may not be an ideal position but the way he sees it, it’s a whole heck of a lot better than being the family’s chauffeur. (Hmm… Do I detect a bit of family resentment here???) Too bad the poor baby can’t see that he’s only making his life more difficult by staying where he is. I’m pretty sure with his resume, he could work anywhere he wanted, so why would he stay in a position that requires him to lie, offer people bribes and take physical beatings on someone else’s behalf? This may be the biggest mystery to me and honestly, I’m not sure I’m going to find an answer any time soon. Maybe deep down, he really does see Hyuk as a friend? Maybe he’s just too afraid of being stuck in Hell Joseon to go out and find another job? At this point, it’s hard to say but I’m sure we’ll get our answers as the story progresses.
Speaking of which, I know the next 2 episodes of this drama are already out so I’m going to wrap this up for now. I’d love to hear your thoughts on things thus far. What do you think of our leading trio? Do you think you’ll suffer any sort of Second Lead Syndrome as the story progresses or do you think Je Hoon lost his chances with Joon years ago when he shot her down without so much as batting an eye? (Yeah, I don’t really feel any sort of SLS for this boy, he dug his own grave and now he’s gonna have to lie in it. Sorry Charlie!) Any ideas on where things might go from here? You know I always love hearing from you so be sure to let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below!