Fated To Love You: Episode 1
Good news, everyone: Fated To Love You is soooooooooo fun. For a show surrounded by such high expectations for its remake, I’m happy to report that this adaptation is vibrant, funny, and stays true to its roots. In fact, I don’t think I’ve laughed out loud this much in a while. Honoring fans of the original by being the remake they dreamed of while also offering something fun and new for viewers who just want to have a good time, Fated To Love You has a good head start in becoming the kind of romantic comedy that’ll leave you in stitches and refreshed for the summer.
As for the ratings: You’re All Surrounded continued to lead the pack with 10.7%, Joseon Gunman followed with 8.0%, and new kid on the block Fated To Love You premiered with 6.6%.
SONG OF THE DAY
K.Will – “오늘부터 1일 (Day 1)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 1 RECAP
A young woman walks barefoot among lush vegetation, and then the camera cuts to a close-up of hair products. Wait, are we watching a commercial before we get to the show? Dipping her hair in water, she works it into a lather, takes a whiff… and then reels in disgust.
The director calls cut on the ruined take, and the model (cameo by Clara) throws a fit on set, complaining about how she can’t use a body double and how this “measly shampoo” could ruin her hair. Noticing the disgruntled staff, however, she gives into another take and has her stylist bring in her luxury foreign-import shampoo.
Just then, someone snaps their fingers and a voice calls out, “Hold it.” A man in an expensive-looking suit saunters into the set, handing off his swanky accessories to the bewildered crew, and moves the model off-camera.
His stare remains unwavering as he peels off his jacket and throws it at the staff, then scoops up some water and pours it over his head. After working the shampoo into his hair, he dunks his head into the water before flipping his hair backwards, showering the camera with soapy water droplets. This. Is. Awesome.
But he’s just getting started—he rips the front of his shirt and exposes his chiseled abs, all the while rattling off lines at the camera. Picking up the “measly shampoo,” he bursts into hearty laughter, then tops off his performance with a moan. “Ah, refreshing.” Now this is what I call a shampoo commercial. *fans self*
After that perfect take, the director wonders who their impromptu model is. He’s none other than our hero, LEE GUN (Jang Hyuk), who introduces himself as the CEO of Jangin Chemicals, aka the company that produces this “measly shampoo,” which is, in fact, their best product.
It’s clear that Gun takes great pride in his company’s products and how they’re advertised to their potential customers, and he tells his right-hand man, MANAGER TAK (Choi Dae-chul) to rescind the model’s CF endorsement deal.
Mention of that effectively has her singing a different tune, as she coquettishly asks if there’s a way to smooth things over, say, over dinner. He declines—he has no need for an expensive diva who doesn’t value authenticity. Ooh, burn.
It’s kind of great how Gun struts out of there like a boss, and now he can finally turn his attention to the source of Manager Tak’s panic: Grandma’s been called into an urgent meeting by the Jeonju Lee clan elders.
And that’s where we meet Gun’s grandmother, WANG BOK-SOON (Park Won-sook), who asks for the clan elders’ patience, promising to marry off her grandson within the year. But the restless elders are fed up with hearing those same words year after year, and demand a written guarantee this time.
(A little context: Gun belongs to the Jeonju Lee clan, whose notable descendants include King Taejo, who founded the Joseon Dynasty. These clan meetings are typically reserved for males, where discussion topics can touch upon lineage, land, and so on.)
There’s a lot of pressure on Gun to get married and produce a male successor—as the only male descendant in the past nine generations, there’s also the unlucky notion that the males in his family line have never lived past their thirties. Basically, time’s a-tickin’. Before Grandma can speak to her grandson’s defense any further, Gun appears himself, in dry clothes and perfectly-coiffed hair.
After saying his greetings, Gun boasts of his company’s greatest achievements, through which the clan elders have been able to enjoy their rather luxurious lifestyles thus far, he notes. Ha. Then Gun declares his future marriage plans: His sweetheart will soon return to Korea, and he vows to hold a wedding by the fall.
Judging from Grandma Wang’s astonished expression, this sudden announcement seems to be news to her. And as Gun bends down to put his words in writing, he asks Grandma if he did a good job. LOL.
We’re finally introduced our heroine, KIM MI-YOUNG (Jang Nara), who we see run into her workplace, carrying coffee and breakfast in both her hands. A friendly male employee offers a helping hand and fixes her lopsided glasses for her; he even shows some flirtatious interest in our timid heroine, saying how the wonderful smell isn’t coming from the coffee.
He wonders why Mi-young’s always the one running errands, but it doesn’t seem to trouble her. His concern, though, puts her in a giddy mood, and as she delivers the food and drinks to her co-workers, we hear her in voiceover telling us about that one person in the office everyone knows—the person who can’t say no even if they’re busy and accepts every request without getting so much as a thank you.
That person in this office is Mi-young, who gets flooded with menial tasks and favors from her co-workers—they even come in post-it form. Just listening to her never-ending inbox is overwhelming, and Mi-young breaks the fourth wall with the acknowledgement that her name is as ordinary and plain as her looks.
She likens her existence to a post-it note—necessary but not valuable to anyone, a pushover and can be easily thrown away. And her computer monitor is filled with them.
At least there’s one person in this office who can’t stand to see Mi-young be used like an office rag: her law-firm hoobae and friend JI-YEON, who barks at Mi-young to stand up for herself. Ji-yeon’s a good friend, too, emphasizing the power of saying “no” to others and telling her friend to practice at night. Aw, they’re cute.
Mi-young gets her first opportunity to exercise this lesson when she declines her boss’s request. She has to will herself to stand firm, but then gives into his guilt trip a few seconds later. Ji-yeon lets out a heavy sigh.
After the clan meeting, Grandma Wang asks her grandson what made him sound so confident earlier. She practically jumps up and down with excitement like Gun to hear that his longtime girlfriend is coming back to Korea—for good this time. Manager Tak is the party-pooper who asks, “What if she doesn’t accept your marriage proposal?”
Gun tells him to just make preparations, since he’ll be doing the whole proposal thing on his own. He then bids a boisterous goodbye like a little boy to his grandmother. Aww.
On her errand, Mi-young briefly stops to admire diamond rings in a jewelry store window. Inside, Gun isn’t happy with any of the store’s selections, so the employee asks him to describe his special lady.
He paints an angelic picture of his ladyfriend: a graceful ballerina who expresses herself with her body like a poet uses words; someone who makes him feel like the world is at peace and wonderful. “She’s a special woman,” Gun says, grinning. Why do I get the feeling that the reality will be vastly different than his imagination?
On a plane, a male passenger describes his sketch of a young lady as his younger sister, whose face he can’t remember clearly. And from the way he describes the familial separation to how he was adopted in America to failing at finding his sister every time he visits Korea, one might be led to think that he’s using his sob story to score a girl.
That could be what his neighbor thinks, too, as her timely remarks to his cheesy moves are strangely in sync with the movie she’s watching with her headphones on. She breaks into a satisfied smile when the girl leaves.
The man, DANIEL (Choi Jin-hyuk) asks if she’s upset that he didn’t flirt with her instead, but she chirps back that he’s not at all her type. Ah, so this must be KANG SE-RA (Wang Ji-won), Gun’s longtime girlfriend and ballerina.
As Gun practices his proposal to Se-ra outside, Mi-young rushes forward to save a toddler from wandering into danger. In her haste, she bumps into some children carrying bouncy balls that spill onto the ground, and she grabs hold of the closest solitary body—Gun’s.
Like an elegant dance, they spin around a few times before falling backwards. The music swells as the candies she bought and his ring fly up into the air… and cuts out when they fall to the ground.
But then Gun’s eyes grow wide to see the ring go rogue and roll down the escalator. It stops at a dog pen, and Gun cowers in fear.
He barks at Mi-young to retrieve it, and she scrambles to chase it down until it finally ends up next to a sleeping Rottweiler. Gun whispers at her to get it, citing his fear of dogs. But she’s scared, too, so he hoists her over the fence as she inches forward… but then one wrong move wakes the dog up. Whoops.
As they run for their lives from the barking dog, Gun wonders if this is the end for him, just like his ancestors who met their ends around his age. “Like my ancestors before me, will I be unable to escape fate?”
Deciding that he can’t die here, Gun looks to a determined Mi-young next to him: “But who’s she? She’s fast… really fast!” As she charges ahead of him, Gun tries (and fails) to hold her back. Hahaha, his strained voice-over cracks me up.
Unfortunately for them, the two find themselves at a dead-end, putting them face to face with the dog. Swallowing his fear, Gun breaks into nervous laughter and bravely takes his jacket off, intending to wield it against the animal.
The dog comes at them, Gun swings, and asks hesitantly, “Did I kill it?” Then he looks back to see the dog licking at Mi-young’s pocket, trying to get at the lollipop. She can only whimper until the owner finally comes running and explains her pet’s love for cherry-flavored things.
Gun belatedly asks about his lost ring and beams to see it on her finger. It isn’t long before his senses kick in, though, and he angrily pulls it off her index finger and tears into her for wearing it before its intended recipient.
She says it’s a relief that they found it at all, but Gun launches into a full-on rant about how this entire ring-losing-dog-chase thing was her fault. Not listening to a word she says about how she couldn’t have known the dog was vying for the candy, he storms off, cursing and flailing. Mi-young’s more astounded than angry, and merely sighs.
Mi-young’s absence at the office all goes unnoticed apart from Ji-yeon. In celebration of the law firm’s 10-year anniversary, one employee will get to stay at a posh Macau resort for free (but still have to pay for airfare). Mi-young turns out to be the lucky winner, and she squeals to Ji-yeon that they can go together.
But like the good friend Ji-yeon is, she says she should take her non-existent boyfriend to things like these and Mi-young glances at that friendly male employee.
HA, Manager Tak has prepared a full-on powerpoint presentation for Gun’s proposal, and the two share a good laugh over how it will take place at the Macau resort (the same one Mi-young is traveling to), since that’s where he and Se-ra first met. Aw, that’s super cute.
Gun’s face hardens when Manager Tak notes how lonely Gun’s been ever since he lost his parents at a young age. “Who says so? I’m not lonely!” Gun snaps. But they’re soon back to acting like little boys when the conversation turns to the soon-to-be engaged couple’s romantic night together.
They’re so busy laughing that they register Se-ra’s arrival two seconds too late, leaving them to scramble to shut off the projector. Suspicious, Se-ra immediately puts Gun in a headlock, asking if he’s been up to no good in her absence.
He agrees to tell her, nearly gagging. Pfft, I love how those five seconds say everything about their relationship.
She lets go and then smiles sheepishly to hear that Gun was planning a trip for them. She asks if he isn’t happy that she surprised him by coming early. He says he is, adding that he had this grand romantic gesture planned for her arrival.
Se-ra jokes to come back tomorrow, but he pulls her back into a hug: “I’m never going to let you go anywhere again, my love.”
Mi-young calls home to invite Mom on that Macau vaycay. How appropriate that the seaside restaurant is called “Mom With Three Daughters”? It’s cute how Mi-young speaks to her family in her countryside accent, and Mom passes on the offer, to the two older unnis’ pouting.
Just when Mi-young wonders if she should sell her winnings, she gets a text and runs out. It’s that friendly male co-worker, Lawyer Min, who takes her out for a sensational dinner. He’s both pleasant and attentive on their date, and he wastes no time to gauge her interest in him.
After briefly seeing Daniel at a club as a DJ, we cut back to Mi-young, who musters up the courage to send a few texts to Lawyer Min. She gets nervous when he doesn’t immediately respond, but then both women squeal when he calls Mi-young “honey,” a sure start to a relationship.
Ji-yeon nudges her friend to invite him on that trip to Macau, and runs on ahead on their way back from lunch. Mi-young has to yell to get Lawyer Min’s attention, though she softens when he says he missed her. Uh oh, first red flag? She blushes at his advances, and when he basically invites himself on her trip (in banmal, at that), she giggles.
It turns out Gun’s trip to Macau is also to secure a business deal with the resort, but he also takes time out to make sure all the marriage proposal prep is in order for Se-ra’s arrival that evening, from the gondola ride to the banners, to the string quartet.
Little does he know that everything isn’t picture-perfect, because we see a pair of men trailing behind him, referring to Gun as their “island’s enemy.” We’ll come to know them as PRESIDENT PARK and MR. CHOI, both of whom are affiliated with an island-based soap factory currently in dire straits because of Jangin Chemicals.
As for Mi-young, she’s both excited and a bundle of nerves upon her arrival in Macau. She’s nervous about spending a night with a man, but Ji-yeon tells her not to worry since Mi-young’s with the man she likes, so her body is sure to follow.*wink wink* But… this wouldn’t be her first time, would it?
Mi-young hangs up before giving an answer, and that’s when Lawyer Min finally shows up, sort-of-but-not-really guilty about making her carry all the luggage. Why, someone might think that he made her carry it all.
But good ol’ Mi-young brushes it aside, and they hop on a bus together. We’re briefly introduced to a mysterious woman in all black telling someone over the phone that she’s putting her life on the line for this mission.
It’s President Park she’s speaking to, and he’s come up with some half-baked plan that somehow involves the aforementioned mysterious Miss Kim and feeding Gun a spiked drink. But the second part of that plan goes awry, because that water bottle falls into the indoor stream and bobs along with the current.
On the bus, Lawyer Min teasingly gripes that he offered to go Dutch on this trip, but she insisted on paying for everything. In exchange, he promises to take care of her tonight and places his hand over hers, to her alarm. “Don’t be embarrassed,” he whispers. “Just imagine it.”
Mi-young and Lawyer Min settle in their hotel suite (Room 2006) and try to think of what to do next. She rattles off a list of activities, but doesn’t pick up on how his eyes light up at the mention of a casino. He tells her to rest while he takes a look around.
Lawyer Min heads straight for the casino, where he runs into the elusive Miss Kim. Mi-young sets off looking for her date, and when she sneezes unexpectedly, she worries that she might be catching a cold.
Mi-young sits down by a fountain to give her feet a break, unaware that Gun is sitting on a bench nearby. She can hear him, though, and cranes her head to see who’s speaking, but can only see the back of his head.
So she sits and listens as Gun practices his heartfelt proposal, thanking Se-ra for returning to Korea and taking this trip with her, even though he knew coming back to Korea wasn’t a happy decision for her. He knows it might be selfish of him to propose, but instead of being a man at the prime of her career, he wants to be the man who shares in both the good times and the bad with her.
“Could I do that? I love you, Se-ra. Will you marry me?” he finishes. And then Mi-young sneezes.
Gun whirls around at the sound, and Mi-young grabs the bottle floating in the fountain before she hides behind a plant and downs it, none the wiser.
Oh sweetie, didn’t your mother ever tell you never to pick up unidentifiable objects? Given the sky-high expectations for the Korean remake of a most-beloved Taiwanese romantic comedy, I was fully prepared for either possibility when it came to Fated To Love You: this show would disappoint me or be awesome. And I’m so glad that it’s the latter.
It could be that I could use a good dose of lighthearted humor and entertainingly zany characters after six months of melodramas and wannabe medical-political-spy-thrillers, but I think it does say something if a show can appeal to me in the first few minutes like Fated did, even if I was confused whether we were watching a drama or a CF at first. And, well, Jang Hyuk’s abs are a bonus.
Even though I’ve only seen a few episodes of the original, I could tell that the premiere covered a lot of narrative ground and introduced us to lots of characters in its rollcall, perhaps to the point where I thought we could hold off on a few minor ones in the first hour. And while I wouldn’t be able to point out all the similarities and differences between the Korean and Taiwanese versions, I could feel enough of the show’s original charm in this adaptation that will hopefully appeal even to the purist of fans.
But even in the face of the many expectations that come along with any remake (be it from drama-to-drama or manhwa-to-drama), I prefer to take any drama adaptation as a separate entity that stands alone, if only to generate different kinds of expectations for the show’s trajectory. I think Fated did a fair job of tying in original character and narrative elements while injecting some fresh life into the reboot and integrating that back into the story. For instance, I liked how Gun’s lineage (how fitting that a chaebol would belong to an imperial family line?) played a great part into the importance of carrying on the family name. Moreover, I thought it was a great turn that his longtime sweetheart Se-ra isn’t the dainty, graceful ballerina he imagines in his head, but a no-nonsense girl who speaks her mind.
Which then makes an extremely naive and dim heroine like Mi-young a little too dated by modern dramaland standards. She’s someone you want to knock some common sense and self-esteem into, but if I know Jang Nara, I know that she’ll be able to make Mi-young into a winning heroine we’ll want to root for. If anything, I’m glad that Mi-young has such a solid and good friend in Ji-yeon, who’s there for there both at the workplace and at home.
As for Gun, I initially wasn’t expecting such a ridiculously hilarious character out of our hero, but I love Jang Hyuk’s portrayal here. We can see the adoring relationship he has with his grandmother, the bickering one with his right-hand man, and the loving one he has with Se-ra. Jang Hyuk’s spot-on comedic timing had me in stitches multiple times in this episode, and I love that there’s a sense of security in his character’s backstory, as evidenced by the tiny moments of insight from Manager Tak. In fact, the show does such a good job of dropping hints for what’s to come that I actually feel both excited and assured as we proceed with each episode, which I hope will be like little drops of heaven.
- Fated To Love You… in bed
- Fated To Love You’s romantic picnic teaser
- Cameras roll on the set of Fated To Love You
- Choi Woo-shik cast as Jang Hyuk’s bratty brother
- First rehearsals underway for Fated To Love You
- Fated To Love You casts second leads
- Choi Jin-hyuk courted to join Fated To Love You
- Jang Nara and Jang Hyuk reunite for summer rom-com