Unnie Recommends: 5 Times Love Alarm will buzz our kdrama hearts

In a world where information is readily available and technological advancements are constantly evolving, our lives have become in sync with an open and fast-paced lifestyle. What if even our most complex emotions, love, can also be determined and shown at the tips of our fingers?

Love Alarm is a korean drama based on a webtoon by Chon Kye Young revolving around a high school student named Kim Jo Jo (Played by Kim So Hyun), who gets a wake-up call when she downloads the app and explores her first steps in falling and love and going through adulthood. The show is produced by Netflix and following its predecessor (My First First Love), the show’s 1st season (8 episodes) have been released already.

Current Impression

1. It has a unique plot involving an app that can show if someone likes you📱

Love Alarm is an app that lets users know if someone likes you within a 10 meter radius. There are certain rules for this to work: For example, one’s Love Alarm has to be turned on so that when you have a crush on them, their app will ring informing them of how many people like them. It cannot show who likes you specifically so if there’s more than 1 person who likes you but there are 3 or more people in the radius, you just need to take an intelligent guess on who likes you, haha!

Jo Jo and Sun Oh’s 1st meeting

Our leading lady, Jo Jo, is attracted to the new transfer student, Hwang Sun Oh, who has also taken an interest with her. Sun Oh is best friends with Lee Hye Young, who also studies in the same school and is the 1st one to have a crush on Jo Jo as they work in the same Korean Bbq restaurant. When she downloads the app, she discovers her feelings for Sun Oh and that both men are also in love with her.

Jo Jo and Hye Young
2. A love triangle that will have you side with either of the guys!

*Spoilers ahead*

I’ll be honest… the majority of the episodes focused on Jo Jo and Sun Oh’s romance that it made me root for them completely. How can I feel a shred of conflict when she and Hye Young had almost zero interaction and he was basically stuck in a one-sided crush? Korean dramas have a tendency to make it obvious who the leading man/woman will end up with despite a love triangle angle. If you’re wishing for a fighting chance for the 2nd lead, tune in and don’t tap out until the last episode💕

There are 2 timelines in the 1st season: One is when they were in high school and another is 4 years later down the road. High school was all about Jo Jo and Sun Oh’s blooming romance while the more grown-up versions of themselves will find Hye Yeong and Jo Jo becoming friends. Sun Oh and Jo Jo started out with an attraction based, shallow, kind of vibe — but it naturally developed into a meaningful relationship because he accepted her problems and truly wanted to be with her despite it.

I didn’t think Hye Young could top Sun Oh’s efforts but the show did a good job in making me root for him too. Hye Young was shy and reserved back in high school, but he became more outspoken and didn’t hold his feelings back for Jo Jo anymore when they met again by chance. Jo Jo was honest to him that she might not be able to open her heart but instead of getting dissuaded, he expressed that he’ll be okay with taking a chance on her. He also comforted her when she needed a friend so when she agreed to have Hye Young ring her love alarm, that small leap of faith made my love triangle heart throb🥺

3. It deals with real life issues such as the negative effects of social media and the consequences of depression.

This show surprised me a lot with as it tackled the impact that such an app, or any other social media platform, can have on our mental health. Our life is so exposed because we post and display so much of ourselves — from our mundane thoughts to our worst fears and feelings, we sometimes forget that this kind of validation shouldn’t define our self worth.

Suicide and stalking are some of the severe concerns that grew rampant over the course of this korean drama. The presence of an anti-love alarm group was even established to show that something created out of good intentions can malfunction into an ugly product.

4. Relate or hate the leading lady, but aren’t we all just trying to find our own path in the world?

I didn’t expect this show to deliver so much drama — the baggage of Jo Jo regarding her current financial and living situation showed through her character portrayal. I have always admired Kim So Hyun and this kdrama exemplifies her talent as an actress even further. Physically, she rarely gives out smiles and her lips are almost always curved downward like a pout. She was socially alienated by her peers and keeps her problems to herself. Jo Jo is a fighter though, but I’m hoping that she doesn’t close herself off being with other people to enjoy her life.

I thought Love Alarm would be a cutesy romcom but it actually deals with relevant problems such as self love, bullying, and addiction to the digital world.

5. Look forward to Love Alarm 2.0 and the 2nd season!

No news yet on when season 2 will launch but I’m hoping it’s within 2019 or my crazy alarm will go off from waiting too long🤣 Before the show’s cliffhanger, a little bit of information was shown in the last episode for the titular kdrama’s newest update.

The app will be able to predict how your feelings will develop and whether or not one will be able to ring one’s love alarm or not. It’s farfetched to think that a program can relay such subjective information but I’m excited to see how accurate it will be given that a person’s feelings can change. I’m curious to how different scenarios will play out such as if the app can detect a person loving 2 people at the same time (because it can happen) or if a person chooses not to follow love alarm’s findings.

Love Alarm poses the question on whether or not we should rely on electronics to convey our emotions and ultimately influence our actions. Before we ring someone else’s heart, we ought to learn to love ourselves first and fight for a life that we want. No program in the world can tell us otherwise❤️

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Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 21 & 22)

A war breaks out inside the palace, but it’s neither a rebellion of the masses nor an invasion of a foreign country. It is a defiance though — a righteous cause spearheaded by the historians. I gladly declare FINALLY! as they stand up for themselves and give the King a piece of their mind for punishing them in doing what is right.

Episode 21

A little bit of background is revealed before Hae Ryung’s untimely capture. It is revealed further that the Second State Councilor had confessed to the King that it is the Queen Dowager who has been plotting against his back along with Mo Hwa. Hae Ryung was not allowed to go inside the chambers and was dragged away by some court ladies. It was then that she snuck in anyway.

Word travels fast inside the palace as Hae Ryung is thrown inside a jail cell for eavesdropping on the King’s conversation. Even Prince Lee Rim, who is shocked and frazzled with the news, insists to have an audience with his father to help her. Sam Bo tells him that she’ll be released soon enough since she is a historian, but he imagines her getting punished by drinking poison and/or getting beheaded; so he gets more panicked and insists that he does something now. Jae Kyung also seeks aid from the Second State Councilor but he is obviously disinterested and tells him that just have to wait for the King to change his mind about his decision.

Poor Officer Yang who constantly has to put out the fires caused by his fellow historians😁 He scolds Officer Min for his insistence to send a historian to record a conversation inside the King’s chambers. They have conflicting opinions of the situation but having the highest rank among them, Officer Yang, has made a decision. He doesn’t say it verbally but the next few scenes play out his plan in a funny but decisive manner.

Officials waiting impatiently inside the Royal Court as they cannot start their meeting without historians. Two of them are merely standing outside and stalling, saying that they have no paper and thus cannot do their job to record the conversations. Other officials go to the Office of Royal Decrees and ask for the documents they need from them but they all pretend that they have a stomachache and leave the room. Even Officer Min, who is awkward and clearly out of his comfort zone, pretend that he badly needs to go #2, hahaha💩

The King is pissed off with this development and orders the Chief Royal Secretary to punish the historians. Armed with clerks, they march towards the Office of Royal Decrees to seize and inspect the administration records. The historians stand outside with books and brushes in hand, not letting them pass. It’s a stand off between the two sides as Officer Yang speaks up that no King has ever looked through the records and they will not back down from a fight. Officer Song takes the first blood as he repels the secretaries that come at him and an all out fight ensues between them. They punch, kick, scream, and pummel the living hell out of each other as the female historians join in on the fun.

Meanwhile, Prince Lee Rim sneaks inside Hae Ryung’s jail cell and brings her a platter of food and a pillow. She tells him that she is preparing herself mentally for her punishment. He replies that he’ll follow her wherever she goes if she’s exiled and she looks touched with his words. She manages to still tease him that he’s useless on practical knowledge though and she’ll just end up getting exhausted living with him. He takes offense and unintentionally leans closer to her face.

Episode 22

Prince Lee Rim leans in much closer to kiss Hae Ryung, but he misses her lips when Sam Bo calls for him and she dodges. He hits his forehead on the wooden jail cell as Hae Ryung giggles quietly when he has to leave. She kisses him on his cheek though and he is, again, stunned but ecstatic on what just happened. Hae Ryung is also thrilled when she saw that the rice he had prepared for had black beans in the shape of a Chinese character meaning “love”.

The historians are holed up in their office waiting for the female historians to arrive with food. It’s an official protest from them but there are 3 of them who feel uneasy with this. Officer Yang explains that once they let the King read the administration record even just once, it’s most likely to happen again. They will most likely be criticized for what they wrote and make changes here and there which is basically violating the very essence of their job. Not to mention altering history and eliminating the need for check and balance. They start to cry as they feel afraid but united they stand — the historians banded together to protect their duty and uphold their dignity.

Several petitions are written to the King to withdraw his order. As he discusses the issue with the officials, Officer Min suddenly marches towards his chamber wearing an all white robe and places an axe in front of him. He implores the King to change his mind in reading the administration records and that he can just take his life if he doesn’t change his mind. The King and the other officials go out to see him and convince him to leave the premises immediately. Officer Min is adamant in not letting the King check the records and repeatedly told them that historians are meant to write down the events without having to succumb to authority. The King becomes enraged as the other officials stop him from getting the axe.

Just then, a group of scholars march inside the premises performing a wailing protest. They support Officer Min’s stand that the King cannot inspect the records. Even the historians who were watching from afar joined in the protest. It’s such a profound scene as it shows that even a King can bow down to the people’s wishes. Especially when he is in the wrong.

The Second State Councilor advises him to draw back his order because people will start to wonder what Hae Ryung actually wrote in her sachaek instead of what happened to her. Given that their conversation is meant to be kept a secret, this convinces him to give in to the historians wishes and Hae Ryung is finally set free from imprisonment. She goes home to a crying Seol Gum and her worried brother as she is now safe and sound.

Hae Ryung and Jae Kyung talk outside for a moment on that night. He tells her that she should quit being a historian, but she refuses to do so. She expresses that she is now living a life that she wants and that she is determined to live it to the fullest no matter what the consequences.

A loud knock intrudes the house of Goo later that same night as Seol Gum and Hae Ryung go investigate who is at their door.

Thoughts

I think that someone should have spoken up that the very reason female historians were hired was to record conversations that took place in the Inner Palace. That it was hypocritical of the King to punish Hae Ryung for doing the job that they hired her to do. Perhaps it could cause a rift between the Second State Councilor and the King where the latter would start to get paranoid that the former (Since he was the one who brought up hiring female historians) could be spying on him as well.

Regardless of how they fought the King’s order, I’m happy to see that the historians took a stand to protect not just one of their own, but that they defended their right in having such an influential role. All this time, Hae Ryung was consistent in doing what was right even when no one was at her side. This time though, all of them knew that what the King wanted was wrong and if they didn’t (literally) fight back, it’s not just that their jobs that would be on the line, but also who they are as an individual.

I do feel like there’s still a catch for withdrawing the order but with what just transpired, I am confident that Hae Ryung won’t be alone in her battle against the oppresion and politics inside the palace💪🏻

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 19 & 20)

No day is complete without trouble being caused in the palace. Politics and government affairs are like bread and butter — they go hand in hand no matter what era. Expect a target on your back as long as you possess an advantage whether by familial relations or by merit.

Episode 19

With the rain not letting up, Hae Ryung and Prince Lee Rim find themselves seeking shelter under a large rock. The Prince hesitates to hold her hand but musters up the courage to do so and Hae Ryung does not move away. Their moment is interrupted when her friends’ voices call out her name. Hae Ryung helps the Prince find his way back by teasing that there are tigers in the mountain so they need to go together.

Hae Ryung asks the Prince if he wants to hold her hand with the reasoning that when she was young, her older brother would hold her hand in the mountains so she wouldn’t get scared anymore. She reaches out her right hand to hold and the Prince declares that he doesn’t have an ulterior motive in agreeing to this. Riiight😏 As they walk hand in hand down the path, they hear A Ran and In Im’s voices looking for her. She pushes the Prince to a nearby bush to hide him and the girls find her. She tells them to go ahead first and just as she was about to help him up, she lets go of his hand when the girls call her again, hahaha!

Several eunuchs are waiting outside Sa Hui’s house to curry favor with her father. They hand him a paper with their name and rank for him to get to know them and possibly get transferred to a higher ranking or better government position. When the appointment paper arrives, 3 historians are disappointed because they spent a lot of money to get in good graces with the higher ups but discover that their names are not in it. Hae Ryung takes the Record of Appearance book since changes in positions mean that they have to update the book as well. She finds discrepancies in the addresses of a number of newly appointed officials and investigates herself where they really live.

She reports the irregularities to Officer Yang and Officer Min interjects that the change in address must be due to the Kinship Act (A ban on people working in the government office where they reside). It causes a ruckus inside the Office of Royal Decrees as they all double check the information for themselves. Once they had verified that the details were indeed forged, Officer Hyeon (A**hole🤬) points to Sa Hui pertaining that her father is the culprit.

Officer Min takes the appointment list without a word and heads directly to the Section Chief’s quarters. He confronts him about forging the addresses and says that he cannot write the new certificates of appointment. Sa Hui’s father admits to this eventually, explaining that appointing people in their own hometown is good since they ought to know their own village and must know the people better too. Officer Min disagrees arguing that such connections lead to lax enforcement and corrupt decisions. The Section Chief is pissed and boasts that he is good friends with Officer Min’s father and that this is no way to treat him. He does not budge with this fact and leaves the room anyway.

A new day means another meeting at the Royal Court. One of the officials is hesitant to read a petition but the Crown Prince insists that he continues with it. The petition is a request to impeach Officer Min as a historian because of his past about that his father-in-law was branded as a traitor to Joseon and how his wife committed suicide because of this. One side defends while the other side supports the issue. The Crown Prince orders Officer Min to leave the room for his sake.

The news reaches the Office of Royal Decrees and the female historian find out about Officer Min’s unfortunate past. It becomes a backbiting session as the Scribe who came says that he wasn’t qualified to become a historian in the first place and it was only because of his father why he got the position. Officer Hyeon (Yes, you’re an a**hole👿) chimes in that Officer Min’s tainted past with his father-in-law should have been considered when hiring him. As Officer Min walks in the room, Officer Yang assigns both of their work to someone else and they head out.

Episode 20

Both historians went out for a drink. I was surprised at Officer Yang’s concern to be honest because he acted indifferent to Officer Min and got along with the other historians more. At the other table, other officials are gossiping about Officer Min and mock his character. They even go so far as insulting his wife and he tries his very best to keep his anger at bay.

Hae Ryung is requested by Officer Min to go to the Crown Prince’s chambers with him. Officer Min gives his letter of resignation to the Crown Prince with the latter profusely refusing it. He reminds him that the reason he became a historian was to right his father’s wrongs. Even if he passed the state exam with flying colors, he decided to start from the very bottom rank as a historian. Officer Min admits that he cannot take people talking ill about his deceased wife and bows respectfully to Crown Prince Lee Jin. Officer Min’s character has been nothing but admirable, but it’s only natural that jealous people will undermine his authority. Hae Ryung tries to convince him to stay but to no such luck.

Later that night, the Second State Councilor informs Officer Min that he agrees with his resignation. The latter asks the former on why he did that to his wife (Dan Yeong) and he lashes out that a lot of people suffered because of him. He is infuriated that his father said the same thing to forget about the past when he simply cannot because Officer Min is not like his dad.

He visits his old house and memories come flooding back of a happier time when his wife was still alive. He was a different man back then — affectionate, sweet, and more talkative. Another flashback reveals how his wife begged the Second State Councilor under the pouring rain to spare her father because the latter was suspected of plotting a conspiracy. She cried and pleaded for his forgiveness but we all know what happens next…

Officer Min finds his wife having hung herself a few days later. Back in the present, he caresses a handkerchief that his wife had made before with both their names embroidered on it. As he quietly weeps for her, he does smile probably remembering their good memories together.

It’s a quiet day at the office as the elephant in the room of Officer Min resigning hangs heavily with everyone. It’s only when Officer Hyeon (Yes, this is a 3rd time I’m saying it. He is an a**hole to his very core🤮) comes in, happy and beaming, that noise fills the room. He expects to be promoted now that a position has become vacant and even sits at Officer Min’s chair to imagine the feeling of moving up a rank. He is stupefied when Officer Min walks in and hits his leg on the table, HAHA🤣 Officer Yang treats him the same way as he always has and smiles.

It’s been awhile since the focus was on Prince Lee Rim, but he’s up next as he is bored waiting to see Hae Ryung. Sam Bo tells him not to be too available and play hard to get with her, but he is wary of this idea. Officer Min and Hae Ryung take a walk and he apologizes to Hae Ryung and she teases him to try saying thank you in a sweeter and more informal manner. It’s a shame though because I think she’s the only one who can bring out the side of him that he had lost but it’s looking like just a blooming friendship at this point. Crown Prince Lee Rim and his group see them walking and calls for them. He tells Hae Ryung that he needs her at Nokseodang but Officer Min states that he needs to tell her the reason why she is being summoned. An awkward silence follows until Hae Ryung gestures that it’s okay and that she’ll be back at the office.

Hae Ryung asks if there’s anything he’d like to say and he expresses that he is frustrated not knowing anything about her. She begins telling him bits of facts about her family, hobbies, and a little about her childhood. She also confesses that the story about her brother holding her hand was a lie. He doesn’t probe too much on why and smiles in content with their conversation.

Officer Yang is told by Officer Song that he saw the Second State Councilor heading to the King to talk with him. He is worried that when Officer Min finds out, he’ll want someone to record their conversation; but since it’s held in the Inner Palace, it’s technically outside a historian’s jurisdiction. Just then, Officer Min overhears them talking. The next scene immediately shows Hae Ryung sneaking outside the King’s chamber as per Officer Min’s instructions. She overhears the Second State Councilor ask the King if he is hiding anything about Prince Lee Rim, but 2 guards suddenly spot her lurking around.

Thoughts

Sorry if I’ve been repeating my sentiments but it just goes to show how much I love Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung!😊 I feel like Shin Se Kyung is her most versatile here as she makes jokes, smiles spritely, and has a different set of facial expressions compared to her previous kdramas. She is my kind of heroine and I hope she continues her trajectory to influencing change in the palace. Even if she ends up in trouble😅

I’m convinced now that there is no love triangle between Hae Ryung, Prince Lee Rim, and Officer Min anymore. It was only a small tease but these 2 episodes confirmed that Officer Min is not ready to move on from Dan Yeong yet. I love the background they gave to him, it was a startling revelation, but it adds color to why his character is portrayed the way he is. People may mock his inflexibility and initial advantage, but he got to where he is because he is a man of principle and no one can take that away from him.

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 17 & 18)

Now that the epidemic crisis has passed, will the romance between our 2 leads flourish further? Prince Lee Rim’s 1st attempt to confess his feelings to Hae Ryung was thwarted by an unexpected visit, but perhaps his second chance will be more timely and appropriate given that they have become closer with each other💞

Episode 17

The Queen Dowager visits Prince Lee Rim in his quarters and tells him that she is proud of what he did. She is saddened when he asks for a favor that he wants to live outside the palace. She persuades him to stay instead so he has no choice but to obey her wishes. I felt a little bad for him because this is the 1st time that he wanted to live out in the real world, probably an effect from having gone to Pyongyang, because he knows that he is lacking in experience and yearns to gain more knowledge. I understand the Queen’s feelings too not just because she’ll miss him, but I think it’s also for his own safety that he stays within the confines of the palace.

Hae Ryung goes back home and is treated to a feast by Jae Kyung and the maid (Seol Gum). As she gets some rest, she ponders about recording what happened earlier at the palace when the Prince got slapped by the King. Officer Min told her in an earlier scene that she must write everything she sees and hears, but I get that she’s hesitant to record such an unfortunate event. I’m pretty sure she’s worried about him too, hee.

It’s a special occasion as the Gyeongsin holiday commences on the next day. It’s an old belief that people who sleep on this day will be punished by having their life span shortened. If you stay awake, your body will be cleansed of evil spirits. Our 4 ladies are forced to stay inside the palace to work and to apparently lie low according to Officer Yang. They make the most of their time by taking a break to drink alcohol and eat outside the office. It’s the first time that the 4 girls are bonding as they indulge in some girl talk and how they want to do more with their life. Although A Ran is rich, she confesses that her family is a mess and does whatever they want so she became a historian to do what she wants. Sa Hui shares that she doesn’t want to be a trophy wife married to a wealthy man that she doesn’t even know that well to care about.

Prince Lee Rim spots Hae Ryung trying to stay awake on a walkway and he goes talk to her. She tells him the myth of Gyeongsin and he uses it as an excuse for her to help him stay awake to avoid any bad luck as well. They read books on opposite ends of a gazebo, stealing glances at each other while the other is not looking. The Prince eventually falls asleep as Hae Ryung tenderly observes him.

The sun has risen and Prince Lee Rim doesn’t know what to do when he discovers Hae Ryung sleeping on his arm. He pokes her gently until she wakes up, shocked and confused. Sam Bo and the 2 court ladies finally see them together, but Hae Ryung runs away and the 3 run towards the gazebo. Prince Lee Rim is not listening to Sam Bo’s lecture as he is still processing his moment with Hae Ryung. He only comments that she smells nice, haha!

Back in the Office of Royal Decrees, the Crown Princess barges in the room and takes A Ran and In Im with her to the Crown Prince’s chambers (Dongungjeon). She interrupts the Crown Prince’s meeting and demands that both historians stay for their conversation. It is awkward and unpleasant but both girls record their lovers quarrel as the Crown Princess expresses her frustrations to Crown Prince Lee Jin😰 People berate her for not being able to produce an heir, but if she voices out her opinions, she is considered insufferable. She further argues about how could she possibly bear a child when the Crown Prince always makes excuses not to be with her.

I have to admit that I thought she was going to be snobby, but she actually has a point. In the end, it’s the woman (Crown Princess) who’ll be blamed and it’s unfair. Crown Prince Lee Jin starts to apologize but she won’t have any of it. She hands him a piece of paper telling him to remain healthy and be present for the next date (written in the paper) when they will try to conceive.

Episode 18

All the historians are in a frenzy as they are undecided on whether or not to delete or keep the record of the conversation between the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. Since it’s the 1st time that a conversation didn’t involve government affairs but a personal matter, they are scared of the possible ramifications this entails. Officer Yang decides that his superiors ought to make a decision regarding this, but both  of the higher ranking officials don’t want anything to do with this as well. Officer Yang then declares that Officer Min ought to decide because if things go south, the latter won’t suffer as much with him being the son of the Second State Councilor.

Just then, the Crown Prince arrives at the Office of Royal Decrees and asks to speak with Officer Min. The Crown Prince reminisces about their past and mentions that he never imagined marrying the Crown Princess, who happens to be Officer Min’s sister. He doesn’t deny that he hopes to have their conversation deleted because he doesn’t want future generations to see her in that light. Being the ever stern and upright man that he is, Officer Min says that he cannot erase the record. He assures Officer Min to not worry and that he understands his sister now.

It’s reenactment time at Nokseodang as Prince Lee Rim narrates to Sam Bo and his 2 court ladies what happened between him and Hae Ryung last night. Sam Bo says that he knows the Prince likes her and that he’ll teach him a move on how to win her over. When Hae Ryung arrives a few minutes later, he executes the move by walking straight to Hae Ryung and pinning her against the door, leaving only a little bit of space between them.

Instead of feeling romantic, Hae Ryung looks weirded out by his gesture and slides under his arm to escape, hahaha!🤡 She apologizes for the incident earlier and promises not to get too close to him from now on. With the plan backfiring, Prince Lee chases after her and tells her that:

It’s not a direct confession of his feelings but girl, that’s more than enough for you to realize that he really likes you, romantic styles!🥰

Jae Kyung and the Second State Councilor have another meeting and the latter is baffled at how she was saved back in Pyongyang. He is convinced that she is getting help from people in Seoraewon (A school that teaches Western medicine) and wants Jae Kyung to investigate. He leaves with his friend and they go to a forest to investigate Mo Hwa’s last whereabouts. Just then, Mo Hwa appears with a bow and arrow in hand. She shoots an arrow near them probably to issue a warning to not come look for her.

The Crown Prince goes to see Prince Lee Rim to ask him to shoot some arrows. The latter declines at first, but the former reassures him that no female historians would be with them since he gave them a day off. The Prince’s face turns to worry when Sam Bo mentions that the location (A valley) the Crown Prince sent them to is known to be a place where guards take a bath after training. Little brother’s imagination runs wild as he envisions the ladies playfully ogling at shirtless men as Hae Ryung gets excited at the sight of muscles and hair flipping from a guard😘 It’s a funny moment where the Prince actually shoots a bullseye but is too distracted to even care about it.

The very opposite is actually happening as the girls are alone (Looking cute in their hanboks!) but still enjoying the scenic view. In Im forgets to bring charcoal to grill the meat with so Hae Ryung volunteers to go find some firewood instead. Soon after, an unexpected downpour showers through the valley. Just as she was about to brave the rain, a cloth is suddenly draped over her head. She turns to look and is surprised to see Prince Lee Rim.

Thoughts

I am loving the slow burn between our two leads as it is both their first time to experience falling in love. Prince Lee Rim’s facial expressions are like an open book– the way he looks at Hae Ryung with such glee and enamor is so obvious. The scene where they both read books in the gazebo was perfect. No words exchanged, no unnecessary conversations — just an unspoken connection with each other’s presence is enough. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is doing a good job of pacing the show by focusing on one aspect (Romance) for an episode but it also peppers in other elements (Conflict) to progress no matter how brief the scene.

These episodes highlighted the fact that your lifelong partner is chosen for you and that you just have to deal with it. I was a bit surprised that Sam Bo taught Prince Lee Rim how to court Hae Ryung because wouldn’t his partner be chosen for him as well? The Crown Princess speaking her mind was such a powerful scene that goes to show there are 2 sides to a story. Getting married to a stranger is scary but perhaps the Crown Prince really never gave her a chance to get to know her. I do hope that this kind of problem doesn’t happen to Hae Ryung and Prince Lee Rim anymore since a much bigger dilemma of a possible rebellion and the banned book looms over this Joseon dynasty.

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 15 & 16)

As the smallpox outbreak opens everyone’s eyes, Prince Lee Rim makes a decision for the first time as a governing royalty. Restless and doubtful, he embarks on a perilous task that puts both his life and reputation at stake. Hae Ryung also struggles with the consequences of a choice she made and has to accept the fact that you just can’t save everyone.

Episode 15

A physician goes to the group and he and Mo Hwa bow before Prince Lee Rim’s presence. He becomes a bit hysterical about what Mo Hwa was doing and the physician explains that she was performing a medical procedure called variolation. It’s where a healthy host is infected with a small portion of the virus which can lead to immunization to the disease. Prince Lee Rim is not convinced of the method and orders them to stop doing it immediately.

Later at night, the Prince asks Sam Bo if he indeed did the right thing. Sam Bo is defensive and tells him that Mo Hwa’s explanation made sense because of course he is supportive towards his wife. Even as the Prince interjected that his decision was for the safety of the people, Sam Bo remains stingy and sarcastically tells him that since he’s made his decision anyway, he should stick with it and have a peace of mind. I do think that Sam Bo is biased on this one and if it wasn’t his wife who was performing the method, he’d back the Prince’s decision 100%.

Hae Ryung helps Mo Hwa the next day as she expresses her admiration towards her dedication to aid the infected. Mo Hwa asks Hae Ryung if she’s not afraid of contracting the disease and she tells her that she had smallpox as a kid and thinks that the same medical method was performed on her since she has a small scar on her arm.

Determined to bring the mother and daughter to Pyongyang, Hae Ryung decides to go back to the isolated house. She is rendered speechless as she sees the child lying beside her wailing mother, lifeless. She is devastated about this development and starts sobbing outside the house. Back at Pyongyang, Mo Hwa sees her in a daze and comforts her about what just happened. She advises Hae Ryung that there are some things in life that you just have to deal with and no one is to blame. She should instead focus her time and energy into doing something better. With this, Mo Hwa hands her the book about variolation to read.

On the same night, Hae Ryung hands over the book for Prince Lee Rim to read. She explains that fluid from cowpox lesions are injected into people, although they can get sick at first, the long-term effect is immunization against smallpox. The Prince deems this nonsensical and gets annoyed at her insistence, but Hae Ryung explains that if she was one of the infected, she’d be willing to try anything because of her desperation. She implores him to read the book and if he still decides to be against variolation, she’ll fully accept his decision then.

Prince Lee Rim tosses and turns in his mat and eventually gives in to reading the book. He opens to read the first page, and another, then another. Flasbacks of the author, Yeongan, showed him going around town to administer the shots but people were afraid to be inserted with pus from animals. Although there were 36 people who had a full recovery, he couldn’t win over the rest. He also stated that this isn’t the time to leave one’s fate up to the heavens and that they ought to do something as human beings to save their fellow human beings.

The next morning, the Prince meets with Mo Hwa regarding what he had read. Although he states that the idea is still ludicrous to him, he’s willing to give the method a try. He declares that he wants to have a public demonstration to prove to the people that he, a Prince of Joseon, is willing to undertake this procedure to prove its effectivity. Despite the officials pleas to not go through with it, he is firm about his decision.

Episode 16

As Mo Hwa collects pus from the lesions of cows, the Second State Councilor sends his men to take her thanks to Jae Kyung’s information that she is in Pyongyang. People had gathered to see Prince Lee Rim’s demonstration as he goes through with the incision and infusion of pus on his arm.

Mo Hwa runs away from the men who have arrived and finds herself in the middle of two opposite sides: On her left are men on horses and on the right are the thugs who chased after her inside the village. The former came to save her, probably sent by Jae Kyung. I suppose he told the Second State Councilor her whereabouts to avoid getting suspected that he knows more than he lets on. It was a dangerous risk though but at least she was saved. News of her disappearance though couldn’t have come at a worse timing because Prince Lee Rim is highly feverish and is sick.

Back at Hanyang, Sa Hui’s father is shocked to see the beans from his warehouse being emptied and loaded to various wagons. He demands to know who apparently ordered them to do this and they reveal Sa Hui as the culprit. He is summoned by the Crown Prince and is presented with a chest filled with expensive silk in return for giving up the herbs to help the people. He gives a hearty but pretentious laugh and says that it was his pleasure to do so but when outside, he throws a tantrum and mutters to himself that the cost of the silk is nothing compared to the cost of the beans, haha😈

The Crown Prince confronts Sa Hui who happens to be the historian on duty in the same room that he knows she was the one who made this happen. I thought he’d praise her for doing such a noble act despite going against her father but instead, he lectures her that the latter was able to avoid punishment since the act is considered a “donation” and she gets to record it. She looks hurt by this accusation and reads aloud that she wrote in her book of records that her father (Section Chief) bought the herbs to earn money. The Crown Prince halts her to stop and she sneers at him saying that she didn’t do it to help her father but rather as a duty of being a good citizen. Aww yeah, go tell the stupid Crown Prince off 😏

Everyone is relieved as Prince Lee Rim wakes up and asks for water. When the physician examines him, he confirms to the Prince that he is indeed getting better. Villagers have lined up to get variolation as the Prince sits in the middle of the place as a testament of the method’s positive results. He meets up with Hae Ryung later that night to give her boiled pork as a gift for because she must have been worried about him all this time. It’s not a pick-up line but oh boy, the Prince needs to step up his game, hahaha!😉 He gets surprised that she doesn’t admit her concern but tells him that she is happy that he’s finally feeling better. Prince Lee Rim smiles brightly at this.

On a lighter note, Hae Ryung orders the Prince and Officer Min to help out in the village instead of just observing what is going on. It’s a funny sequence of scenes as they both struggle to feed children and are useless in doing various chores. I will always admire Hae Ryung’s spunkiness in being able to command people who have a higher rank than her, I suppose it helps that she has a good relationship with both but it shows that in a time of a crisis, one’s social status is not an exemption to perform hard work😜

It’s time for Prince Lee Rim to go back to the palace and he is met with disapproval from his father, the King. He slaps him on the face for disobeying his orders to stop the treatment and Prince Lee Rim apologizes for his actions. The King scoffs at his apology saying that he doesn’t mean it but before he orders to have him punished, the Crown Prince intervenes. Tension bubbles as the Prince is on his knees and both Officer Min and Hae Ryung get up on their knees, with their quill and book on hand, ready to record history unfolding right before them.

Thoughts

Finally, the Prince is on fire!🔥 I’ve waited so long for him to step up and become a more responsible adult. Him doing something concrete regarding the country’s problems is the growth that he needs to become a more well-rounded person. I don’t think he’ll grow out of his giddy smiles and positive aura, perhaps his next biggest challenge is whether or not he’ll rebel against his father.

At first, I thought that Yeongan could be Hae Ryung’s father but since their surname is different and Mo Hwa didn’t react too much even when Hae Ryung shared about her past experience with smallpox, maybe they aren’t related. I’ve always assumed that Ho Dam is the Queen’s husband and the current King’s father but I’m curious if it’s another person altogether. Mo Hwa and Jae Kyung know so many secrets I hope they find a way to work together and shed more light on weight of the book.

I know I haven’t been mentioning the possible romantic connection between Sa Hui and the Crown Prince because I wanted to wait for a significant moment before writing about them. I loved that she was able to defend her actions towards him and proved that she is different from her father. Crown Prince Lee Jin’s interpretation of her action is valid but is it really a crime, strictly speaking, when you hoard something but bought it with your own money? Of course this is ethically unacceptable given the situation, but I personally think what Sa Hui did made more sense in terms of punishing her father. I’m not invested in this team-up yet but to see Sa Hui shine on her own terms is pretty swell😁

I’m excited for next week’s episodes as the Crown Princess finally makes her debut and will surely stir up more trouble in the palace 🎎

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 13 & 14)

Prince Lee Rim gets to prove himself to his father that he’s more than just a troublemaker in his eyes. But with a life threatening mission that gets him out of the palace and deep into the real Joseon, will he come back the same person..?

Episode 13

Let’s rewind a bit from last episode’s cliffhanger. In the Royal Court, the King, Crown Prince, and the advisors are discussing about the threat of smallpox spreading all over Joseon. Second State Councilor advises that calming down the people regarding this should be #1 priority. He tells them that a representative from the Royal family should go directly to Pyongyang to show that they really care and prevent a possible rebellion from happening. The Crown Prince is okay with this idea but the King thinks hard and storms off as an idea comes to his mind.

We’re back at Prince Lee Rim’s quarters as the King is there to tell him to go instead of the Crown Prince. Hae Ryung volunteers to go on the trip as well sharing that she’s had smallpox before as no other historians wants to go to the affected areas. The Queen visits the King in his quarters and asks if the rumor that Prince Lee Rim is indeed leaving to go to the affected area is true. She gets furious when he confirms it and spits out that he is doing this because the Prince is not his legitimate son. Well, I’ll be damned😵

Meanwhile, Hae Ryung and Jae Kyung have a tender moment as he tells her to be careful. I was expecting him to dissuade her from going but instead, he supported Hae Ryung’s decision😊 With his encouragement, it shows a healthy sibling relationship between them as he understands that this is something that Hae Ryung wants to do.

Prince Lee Rim is pleasantly surprised at the sight of Hae Ryung as part of the crew that will accompany him on his trip, they share a secret smile as he moves past her. As they stop for awhile on a riverbank, the Prince gets jealous seeing Officer Min offers a bowl of water to Hae Ryung. Prince Lee Rim’s face changes as she tells Officer Min that he is actually a sweet person because of the very gesture that he had just did and that he went along with the trip because he was worried of sending her alone. He couldn’t get a word in edgewise as she continues that he’ll just say that it was because of his sense of duty that he went along the trip.

Back at Hanyang, Sa Hui wonders why workers are transporting so many beans into their warehouse. It turns out that her father thought of hoarding this because he can sell it at a higher price when the news about smallpox spreads in the city. This is because such beans can be used to make samdueum, a type of special tea that can prevent smallpox. Sa Hui is disappointed and lectures her father that he should choose moral influence over his greediness. He counters back that she wouldn’t be able to enjoy her life now if he hadn’t accumulated the wealth he had doing such kind of deeds.

After a few days, the Prince arrives at Haeju, a nearby town to Pyongyang. Two officers tell them that the situation is improving and that the medicines sent by the palace has been helpful in treating the people. He seems pleased and smiles from ear to ear about the good news. Officer Min is not as convinced and asks 1 of the 2 officials, the governor of Pyongyang, why he is at Haeju despite the situation improving. He makes up an excuse saying that when he heard the Prince was visiting, he had to personally be there to greet him. Hmm, flimsy.

As the Prince settles down in his room, he comes up with a plan when Sam Bo mentioned that the province they are in now has a beach that they can visit. Excited to spend time with Hae Ryung, they walked along the shore, felt the sand in between their toes, and relished the refreshing splash of water on their feet. It’s a moment that brings them closer and I couldn’t be happier💞

Episode 14

As the Prince and Hae Ryung head back, they run into her would-be husband, Scholar Lee, leaving Haeju. He gets to meet Prince Lee Rim privately and discloses the truth that the reports about Pyongyang are false. Doctors have abandoned their posts and government officials of affected areas have fled, saving themselves while taking the medicines and available food with them. Both the Prince and Hae Ryung are bothered with this information and want to go to Pyongyang to see the situation themselves.

They have no choice but to go through the forest because guards stop them from entering the infected area. They meet a group of men who have come from Pyongyang and tell them that villagers are stuck inside, left to die from either hunger or the disease. Prince Lee Rim gets into a heated argument with one of the men as he gets upset that they are taking advantage of the people by selling ingredients at a high price.

As they run away and try to find a way in, they come across an isolated house. They meet a mom and daughter who have ran away from one of the afflicted villages and the former begs Hae Ryung to please take her child with them. She is conflicted with this because of the risk that she could already be infected with smallpox. Prince Lee Rim argues that they could still do something but Hae Ryung is firm about the risks of the disease spreading in Haeju and that if people found about her, they might end up doing something worse compared to when she just stays there.

Once back in Haeju, Prince Lee Rim confronts the 2 officials about the real situation of the village. The other official, Governor Yun, admits that he sent the false report because other issues such as theft and arson became more rampant than the epidemic spreading. He defends himself stating that if the news had reached Hanyang, people would surely panic and caused a huge commotion. Prince Lee Rim gets angrier and demands to go to Pyongyang with relief goods and medicine in tow.

Finally able to see the dire situation themselves, it’s not a lovely sight as fumes and the laments of villagers fill the air with death and despair. Some people are covered with straw mats while others are helplessly lying down on the ground. As they continue to walk around, they are shocked to see a section of the village with healthy kids playing and even eating happily with each other. Prince Lee Rim spots someone dabbing an open wound of a child and he orders her to stop.

Thoughts

The reveal about Prince Lee Rim not being the King’s legitimate son was a bit anticlimactic as the focus shifted to the smallpox outbreak. I wonder though why he didn’t just disown him secretly but maybe the Queen had a hand in protecting him. I don’t have any theories yet on how this happened and I’m not even sure if he’s of royal blood anymore. But I don’t want to speculate and just enjoy the slow reveal when I get there😜

Again, I want to emphasize the power they are giving to the women in Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung. Even Sa Hui who although does spy for the Second State Councilor, is fed up with her father’s backhanded ways. Although it is true that she is enjoying the rotten fruits of his labor, she equally experienced all the hardships and discrimination as a female historian. I also like Mo Hwa because she’s strong and independent, and like Hae Ryung, is not afraid to embrace progress. Can we have an episode where the girls all band together and do something life changing to Joseon? Yes please!🌸

Unnie Recommends: I Wanna Hear Your Song

There are no coincidences, perhaps just a series of events that lead us to our desired or undesired destinies. I Wanna Hear Your Song centers around a girl who is involved in a murder mystery that she can’t remember. Portrayed by Gugudan kpop band member Kim Se Jeong, her character Hong Yi Young is a 27 year old who got into an “accident” and lost 3 months worth of her memories. Problem is, certain people are gravitating towards her now because of the so-called accident.

I Wanna Hear Your Song is another mixed genre type of kdrama which involves romance, comedy, mystery, and suspense at the same time. I know I’ve mentioned before that they’ve been experimenting with these kinds of shows and so far, the Korean entertainment industry has been doing a good job of producing dramas with these varied elements.

Current Impression

Hong Yi Young is an unlucky soul with a happy-go-lucky spirit. She is a timpanist looking to be hired in an orchestra and is an insomniac. She’s failed numerous times on several auditions but still carries a positive attitude that she’ll just have to work harder to achieve her dreams. A stark aspect of her character is that she has a difficult time falling asleep. She meets someone in a convenience store a couple of times and reluctantly takes his offer to help her sleep at night for a fee. I’m not sure if her difficulty dozing off happened before or after the accident but maybe it’s her brain’s way of suppressing the traumatic memories that she can’t remember.

Enter Jang Yoon, (Played by Yeon Woo Jin), a seemingly oddball who saves Yi Young from getting hit by a car and brings to her a hospital when she was drunk one night. He pops out in her life at various situations, I’m guessing not by chance, and sings to her in a tone deaf voice that helps her sleep at night. Apparently, he is also a great pianist who just so happens to get recruited in the same orchestra (Shinyoung Philharmonic) as Yi Young.

I’ve only watched 2 of his many kdramas (Marriage, Not Dating and Queen for 7 Days) and this is by far his most versatile role. He’s a layered character, as shown in flashbacks, it seems like someone he cared about died in the accident. He has a menacing vibe to him but he can also be kind and aloof when he needs to be. I’m not sure if he’s purely a good guy here but we’ll have to wait and see how his character plays out.

There’s also a violinist named Ha Eun Joo who slept with Yi Young’s now ex-boyfriend and is currently sleeping with the new conductor of the orchestra, Nam Joo Wan. She accuses him of liking Yi Young ever since the accident which means that he’s involved in it too. He does hold an audition to have a 2nd timpanist in the ensemble that even if Yi Young fumbled on her audition, he still hired her. Whether that’s a twisted way of feeling guilty to someone or keeping your enemies closer, Nam Joo Wan is also a very cryptic character for now.

I do feel though that Joo Wan has a different aura compared to Jang Yoon with their approaches to Yi Young. The former does have a pre-established connection with Yi Young as a senior-junior relationship and is flirty with her too. While the latter although helps her sleep with his horrid voice (haha), he is more cautious and calculated with their interaction. From what I can deduce, the accident is a murder and the killer has yet to be found. Is it Yi Young who deliriously killed someone or is Joo Wan trying to hide something much bigger? Jang Yoon is determined to get to the bottom of things!

I Wanna Hear Your Song’s plot is a mysterious melody that I’m enjoying every bit. The show’s dark yet upbeat tune with scenes switching from laughable to eerie is quite catchy. But if the song reveals anything, it’s that this tale is not of the romantic kind.