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[Dramaland Catnip] Disastrous first meetings


Fated to Love You

What couple isn’t asked, “How did you first meet?” In the world of Kdramas, the answer to that question is written many ways and the moment receives lots of attention. I’m embarrassed to admit that the one trope that draws me into a drama is the disastrous first meeting. The pull I feel when a couple’s first face to face is far from idyllic is akin to rubber necking at an accident scene — I don’t want to look, but I can’t help myself.

This type of first meeting can be as simple as the falling flower pot in Beautiful Gong Shim or as elaborate as the balletic near collision in Fated to Love You. All that’s needed is a meeting where our leads start off on the wrong foot, sometimes even hoping that they never encounter each other again. I can’t wait to see what happens when they reconnect, no longer complete strangers.

This trope must have widespread appeal because it’s used often. What the disastrous first meeting accomplishes is that two strangers share a memorable experience that bypasses normal social barriers. It leads to a familiarity that wasn’t there before, and launches the main couple into the narrative. Our hero and heroine may not know one another’s names, but someone is left with an unforgettable impression.


High School King of Savvy

One of my favorite disastrous first encounters is from High School King of Savvy, where events snowball after two strangers cross paths on a bus. During the ride, high school student, Min-seok, can’t help but witness a woman drunk dialing her crush to apologize for an ill-received confession. It’s cringeworthy as he overhears Soo-young leave several rambling messages until her phone dies. She borrows Min-seok’s phone to complete her call, then he’s forced to chase after her to retrieve it.

When Soo-young passes out on the sidewalk, Min-seok has to see to her safety, and by the time they part, it seems impossible that he could ever have romantic feelings for a woman who’s such a mess. This introduction to the lead couple highlights what complete opposites they are: Min-seok is in high school, Soo-young is a much older noona — he’s the cool kid, she’s socially inept — he’s an athlete while she’s a klutz. There’s nowhere to go but up from this initial, hilarious fiasco, and it sets the tone for the rest of the drama.


Oh My Venus

What the first meeting in Oh My Venus has in common with High School King of Savvy is that it takes place in close quarters. This time, it’s a medical emergency on a plane that brings the couple together as doctor and patient. The heroine, Joo-eun, awakens and realizes how much this doctor learned about her while she was unconscious.

Aghast to hear that he was forced to cut off her top, including a girdle, Joo-eun struggles to maintain her dignity. Of course, the stranger who now knows her secrets, Young-ho, is very handsome and by this point, amused. It’s all but certain that if Joo-eun ever encounters Young-ho again, she’ll want to turn around and walk the other way. He serves as a living reminder of the disastrous plane trip. It’s pretty memorable for the viewer as well, heh.


Beautiful Gong Shim

Beautiful Gong Shim introduces the future couple when a selca causes a flower pot to fall from a rooftop ledge. Dan-tae kicks it away just in time and then proceeds to harass the girl, Gong-shim, responsible for the mishap. When he knocks on the door of the rooftop apartment, she realizes that he’s there in answer to her rental ad. He makes a terrible first impression when he comments on her hair, an obvious wig, and then lets himself inside, forcing Gong-shim to hide the bras left out on the drying rack.

Once this meet and greet is over, Gong Shim is ready to drop Dan-tae from the rooftop ledge. It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m in catnip heaven as this couple eyes one another suspiciously and I may watch that scene again a time or two (or three).


Father Is Strange

Of the many couples in Father Is Strange, one definitely starts off on the wrong foot. A newly hired intern grabs the person closest to her, idol turned actor, Joong-hee, to use as a human shield when her high school bully walks by. The man is startled, and then irate, when his designer t-shirt is torn so badly that his chest is exposed in front of the intern, Mi-young.

She makes matters worse when she tries cover him with her hands and the skinship guarantees that Joong-hee will never forget Mi-young. Their shaky start all but cements that these two are meant for one another. This irresistible first meeting has a lot to do with why I was drawn to this drama.

Some disastrous first meetings are a feast for the eyes, the beauty of the scene belies the catastrophe waiting around the corner. Fated to Love You introduces the main couple in a beautifully choreographed near collision set into motion by spilled, bouncing balls. The hero and heroine grab onto each other as they spin around, as if they’re dancing. I’m captivated as Gun and Mi-young fly into the air in slow motion, only to return to earth with loud thuds.


Fated to Love You

After Gun’s newly purchased engagement ring rolls away, Mi-young helps him retrieve it. Well, she does most of the retrieving because Gun is afraid of dogs and the ring ends up in a Rottweiler’s pen. Neither one seems to notice her bottom hovering dangerously close to Gun’s face as he lifts Mi-young over the pen’s barricade. After more mishaps, she produces the ring, safe on her index finger. Instead of thanks, Gun scolds her that it’s bad luck to wear someone else’s engagement ring. This introduction is like super catnip and the runaway ring suggests that the impending engagement will never happen. How can I walk away after such a beautifully conceived disaster? I can’t.

Another unfortunate, but beautiful, first meeting comes courtesy of That Sassy Girl, set on a picturesque bridge under a full moon. The scene is breathtaking as a scholar runs to save a beautiful girl from falling off the bridge. When he’s rewarded with a belch from the inebriated maiden, I’m on full alert. Things go from bad to worse when the girl eventually vomits on the scholar. But wait, that girl turns out to be a princess. This meeting is hardly the stuff of fairy tales because after such an unpleasant face to face, what man would want to get close enough to pursue a happily ever after?

Then there’s a variation, where disaster looms over the couple like a dark cloud from the first second, which is the case in Scent of a Woman. Mousy office worker Yeon-jae treats herself to a makeover and an exotic vacation where she runs into the handsome, yet joyless, director of her former company. A case of mistaken identity forces them to sight-see together and as the trip concludes, they are clearly smitten with each other.


Scent of a Woman

What makes this meeting even remotely disastrous? The viewer knows the reason for the impromptu vacation — Yeon-jae’s terminal diagnosis that leaves her only six months to live. This first meeting promises personal tragedy of epic proportions because no matter what obstacles Yeon-jae and Ji-wook overcome, the one that can’t be conquered is her impending death. I know that this couple hasn’t escaped unscathed, instead each episode inches them closer and closer to that moment of truth, when Yeon-jae’s condition is sure to be discovered, or worse, she dies. This is a disastrous first meeting all right, it’s just that the couple doesn’t know it yet. Sigh.

The problem with this trope is that after the initial meeting, my interest isn’t necessarily sustained, and I eventually part ways with some dramas. That was the case with My Sassy Girl. As much as that first meeting was my catnip, I decided that this drama wasn’t for me, but I will always remember that first face to face, and who knows, I may give it another try down the road.

Life and love are messy, and a disastrous first meeting mirrors that reality as it introduces new dramas and characters. I love the tension that’s created when two strangers embark on the path to romance after a far from ideal encounter. My hope is that a disastrous beginning leads to a beautiful and unforgettable love story.


My Sassy Girl

 
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These disastrous meetings are always in any drama. From the first leads meeting to the second leads, this trope is actually a really good way to introduce characters. This trope is really funny and cringy to watch but it always leads to a nice romance filled with many other tropes. This isn't my catnip but I love watching it!

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Disastrous first meetings arise negative first impressions and the story from thereon to realise that they aren't that bad or maybe too good for each other, this definitely is one of my catnips.

PS - I seem to like anything and everything about Joong-Hee and Mi-Young these days, really excited to watch their love-story unfold.

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Yay! Another catnip. Disastrous first meetings are a great way to show the characters and their already bound connection. I thought that Fated to Love You and High School KIng of Savy were great rom-coms and I'm waiting for another show like them.

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One of my favorite is from "Lie to me". I know, that series apparently doesn't have many fans here. But I love and I was sucked in with the first meeting.

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I LOVED Lie To Me, weird plot and all.

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Lol... i liked it too at the time. But i wouldnt watch it again.

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I like Lie to Me, although it could do with editing. The OTP were great together and I loved the 'Cola kiss'.

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It is one of my favourite too!! It is one of the dramas I go back to have some fun !!!!

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Me too. I have re-watched it several times in the last years. Just like Coffee Prince, Coffee House or Reply 1997.

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hee hee I love this catnip! There are so many great dramas that fall into this category! The one that sticks with me since it's soooo recent is Suspicious Partner ... Nothing like outing someone for being a subway pervert unjustly! How embarrassing?!

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Yes this! Then realizing later he'll be your prosecutor-mentor hahaha

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That was the best-worst intro to one's mentor and future boss-housemate LOL!

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My fave is My Love from the Star when CHS confronted DMJ in the elevator thinking he was a stalker.. Then apologizing later with the now-iconic 'Sawry!'

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I mean CSY not CHS haha

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Yet, the elevator scene was no disastreous! LOL

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This reminds me of a mortifying first encounter in I Need Romance 2012, it wasn't the lead character but one of the heroines best friends (I'm not good with names...ask my students lol) the later-couple had their first meet in this romantic spot where her then boyfriend took her their to grill her about her lack of certain skills. The guy was sitting next to them and heard the whole thing, but out of consideration pretended to be listing to some music on his phone. Later on, he shows up as her boss!!! That's an awful way to meet for the first time.

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One of my all time favorite first meetings is from Flower Boy Next Door, when Yoon Shi Yoon catches Park Shin Hye peeping on his brother from her apartment window across the way, and goes storming to confront her, clad only in boxer shorts and a panda hat. (technically they had met before when she was trying to save a dog, but he didn't know that)

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Ahh, yet another catnip that brings Pride and Prejudice to mind. (Seriously, I think I've talked about Austen on DB more in the last two weeks than I have with anyone in the last two years.) But is there a more disastrous first encounter than having her overhear that you think she's "not handsome enough to tempt me"?

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An Austen fan eh? 😀 Me too ,😁😁

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I LOVE Pride and Prejudice. I keep clicking on the kdrama with the same title (I've done this multiple times) thinking I'm about to see kdrama Elizabeth and Darcy only to realize its lawyers or something.

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Ha, I totally watched that drama (it's not bad - a bit convoluted but still good). I prefer Austen though. I wonder what a procedural by her would look like?

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It's not Austen but Mr. Thornton left an equally lasting first impression in North & South. How I love that drama. It even surpassed the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice.

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Oh man, I love North and South! I also prefer it to BBC P&P, though I love both. It's my go-to drama when I'm feeling like a period piece. Richard Armitage kills it as Thornton, and I love the way it examines class issues more frankly than P&P.

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Oh, yes. His "Come back to me."slayed me. But I love the book as well, although the ending is soo different (less public and so sweet).

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Oh my goodness YES! North and South is the best. That ending scene in the train station is like my own personal, specific catnip in itself!! She kisses hand and he looks like he just won the lottery when he realizes she loves him back!!! Richard Armitage for the win.

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I rarely swoon but that scene and the ending make me swoon.

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The example of "Pride and Prejudice" works beautifully here, especially since the work is originally titled "First Impressions."

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That's so true! And I love P & P as well!!!

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I'm a huge Jane Austen fan!!

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LOL... I love jane austen. I have read all her novels, watched all her novels made into movies and everything several times in at least two languages!!!! Ha ha ha love her!

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sometimes after completing a drama, we may forget how the leads met in the first place, so this catnip really serves as a good reminder.

offhandedly i do remember that the first meeting between Joong Won & Gong Shil in Master's Sun was so random & awkward when he unwantedly gave her a ride but she kept touching him much to his annoyance as the ghosts disappear once she does that. & also that embarrassing & disastrous first encounter of Aejung & Dokko Jin in Greatest Love, when she leaned on his van, acting like a big shot to that identical scarf incident.

now that i think about it, both dramas i mentioned were from Hong Sisters LOL! guess they like writing their leads to start off with some bad impressions, like in My Girl & Gumiho too.

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Suspicious Partner too, they met on a train. She thinks he's a pervert and he thinks she's a crazy liar. Come to think of it, Suspicious Partner has a lot of catnips. Enemies to Lovers, Cohabitation, Disastrous First Meetings.
Heirs, one of my favourite dramas, also has a somewhat disastrous first meeting. Tan sees Eun-sang at what is possibly the most embarrassing part of her life. I think Goong also had a disastrous first meeting. Didn't she scuff his shoe or something?

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Hmm I think scent of a woman does not count in disastrous first meetings, the herione was too smitten lol

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Dang, the male lead in the Scent of a Woman screencap looked so good that I had to go look up this drama. Lee Dong Wook?!! Totally didn't recognize him.

Disastrous first meetings are fun to watch if they are funny and not cringy. The rest of the story/lead chemistry would need to be good in order for me to continue watching though.

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Lee Dong Wook was DELICIOUS in Scent of a Woman... you must watch, especially that smoking hot TANGO......
*fans self all over again*

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I don't know if anything beats purposefully acting like the biggest ass in the universe to make the girl dump his bff like we see in Marriage Not Dating.
I gotta mention SKKS with PMY getting dragged in front of the king. Hmmmm 7DQ with Chae Kyung accusing Yeok of being a thief. Coffee Prince's first meeting definitely left an impression on at least one half of the main pair hahaha.

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Great ones! I'll add Kim Sam Soon (also disastrous second meeting), Goong and Secret Garden.

Actually, disastrous first meetings is starting to feel like cohabitation, are there many kdramas that don't have it?

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I like this catnip. Its always fun if their first meeting is disastrous. More fun in watching them untangling the mess. 😁 a lot of backtracking and possible grovelling. 😄

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W-two worlds also had great first time meeting scene where lee jong suk and han hyo joo meet on the terrace oh loved it....Well i can't say it was a disasterous meeting but i can say it was one of most intriguing meetings and then ofcourse i loved the scenes when lee dae hee and lee dong wook meet in my girl just adore them..😊👍👍👍

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I'm watching Delightful Girl Chunhyang for the first time right now, and I think it's one of my favorite first meetings. The phone switch shenanigans are hilarious!

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This was something that I thought would only exist exclusively in dramas. I mean, what are the odds of bumping into a person on the street, holding a big grudge on them, meeting that very same person again & again like destiny and eventually developing a romantic feeling toward him/her? It's not that I particularly 'dislike' it, it just seems so unnatural to me. But I'm the Mr.Darcy type, 'my good opinion, once lost, is lost forever'. Maybe that's my fault!

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That actually happened to me. My highschool boyfriend and I actually met in highschool when he and I ran into each other with our school treys. Milk got all over us and I made it worse by slipping and making him sit on his brownie. Needless to say, he called me a bunch of names. We spent two months of hating each other until we were put in a class together and had to work as partners. We started dating a week after that lol. So it does happen. just not very often

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Wow! That's dreamy! Thanks for sharing.

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Not a catnip because it is just all too common in kdramaland for the meet-cute to not be so cute. Doesn't mean I don't adore it every single time! :P

The first encounters in High School King of Savvy and Fated to Love You were really memorable! Though really the second and third encounter in Fated to Love You were equally awesome! :P

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On a comedic level, "My Love From Another Star", "Oh My Venus", and the Korean version of "Fated To Love You" are up there in the list, definitely lol Dare I say, even the first meeting of our dear Crown Prince Yeong and Ra On wasn't a very pleasant one, either haha XD

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On a more melo level, the first meeting for the OTP in "Hundred Year Inheritance", starring Eugene and Lee Jung Jin was pretty disastrous DX

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what about Que Sera Sera first meeting between eric and jung Yu mi? i love their first meeting so much is so messy and hillarious

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i remember the first meeting of the OTP in My Name is Kim Sam Soon...she was crying in a men's toilet and he was there to hear her ramblings hahha

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I think this trope has the potential to be hilarious and adorable or just completely cringe-worthy. It has to be done well. The first encounter in 'It's Okay, That's Love' was awesome.

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yes, this!
and although it's nowhere as near the topic, healer's couple's first two meetings were really fun too. in that sense, almost every drama has such funny first meets :D
speaking of which, suspicious partner's first meet was pretty disastrous too :D

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You should watch Smile, You then. It has 45 episodes, but you can always drop it if it's not for you. The way the leads meet though, it's right up your alley.

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