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Born Again: Episodes 1-4 (Review)

If seedy thriller-romances are your thing, you’ll love the opening week of KBS’s Born Again. It takes the plot of a tragic Victorian novel, sets it in the good old 1980s, and then lets all hell break loose. And not in a good way.

Note: This is only an opening week review.

 
EPISODES 1-4 REVIEW

Born Again tells the reincarnation story of three people whose fates are so deeply entwined they wind up meeting each other for round two a mere thirty years later. And it’s thirty years too soon, for both the characters themselves, and the audience. Because after enduring the drama’s opening week that details Life #1, I don’t even want to know what Life #2 holds.

They call it Born Again, but I call it The Cop, the Waif, and the Wild Man. Our cop is CHA HYUNG-BIN (Lee Soo-hyuk), and he’s your typical drama detective. He’s investigating a string of serial murders that center on women (of course) and yellow umbrellas (because why not), and he’s committed, stable, and seems like a good man.

The love of his life is the bookstore owner JUNG HA-EUN (Jin Se-yeon). She’s the kind of girl that sits in her shop next to a photogenic basket of yarn and writes in her diary while reading it aloud for our benefit. The topic? That love transcends death; that souls meant to be together will always find each other. For her, that soulmate is Hyung-bin.

Because being a good-hearted orphan isn’t enough to make her interesting (and trust me it’s not,), she’s also got the requisite heart disease to elevate her into full-on waif mode. She’s frail, fragile, loving, and sweet as pie, and Hyung-bin dotes on her. Yes, it’s as saccharine as all that sounds. They adore each other, but Ha-eun won’t marry him since she knows her life teeters on the balance.

Ha-eun’s favorite book just happens to be Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights — and the drama gloms onto that parallel and rides it for all its worth. Wuthering Heights in and of itself is a gorgeous gothic-esque romance of its time, but put in the hands of the drama gods, things are not so… high quality.

The novel figures in Born Again as both a book, and as a bit of not-so-subtle character allusion. Ha-eun loves the book so much that she quotes it, her boyfriend Hyung-bin quotes it, and he proposes to her by writing “Will you be my wife?” in the margins of her worn out copy. As if that wasn’t enough, she also “teaches” the book to a sorry collection of poverty-stricken people that meet in a church to have a… book club meeting? Well, what’s important here is that our other hero just so happens to attend said gathering.

That hero (or perhaps anti-hero?) is GONG JI-CHUL (Jang Ki-yong), and he is as Heathcliffian as you can get. He’s a wild man that looks like he really does live out on the moors, and every part of him matches, from his unkempt wig hair to the fact that he keeps it over his face to hide the scars around his eye.

Ji-chul was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by his mother (and if they had time to name any other forms of abuse I’m sure they would have), and the scars he carries are more than just the ones on his skin. He can’t relate to people or live a normal life… but then he is transformed by the softness and warmth of Jung Ha-eun. It’s like Wuthering Heights + Phantom of the Opera + Beauty and the Beast all rolled into one — but that does not make this drama any more watchable.

But Ji-chul’s tragic story continues! His father is a raving lunatic, and the very serial murderer that everyone is after. He does all the typical things that a psycho father does to his son in dramaland like gaslighting him, forcing him to think he also has The Killing Gene, mocking his pure love, and basically destroying him. Incidentally, his father also looks like Louis the XIV, lives in an abandoned school, and murders for the inspiration to paint — but my real question here is why Jang Ki-yong always seems to get such evil drama fathers.

Born Again goes exactly where you think it will. That means Ji-chul is infatuated with Ha-eun and becomes her secret protector. He saves her when she faints in the street (this is like a daily occurrence), watches her in the bookstore day and night, and of course, devours Wuthering Heights with equal voracity. Hyung-bin, being the diligent detective that he is, becomes aware of Heathcliff Ji-chul and his obsession with his girl. Rather than see that he is trying to protect her from his deranged father, Hyung-bin of course assumes that Ji-chul himself is the killer out for more blood.

Watching this love triangle of adoration and misunderstanding play out should be exciting. The stakes are sky-high, with Ha-eun almost dying every ten minutes, Hyung-bin striving to protect her, and Ji-chul so determined to save her that he declares (aloud, to himself) that he’s going to give her his own heart. It should be enthralling, sweeping, and carry enough emotion to resonate thirty years into the future. But it doesn’t. These characters and their undying loves are pretty lifeless.

These opening episodes of storytelling hell only get worse when they reach their culminating scene. We already know everyone has to die (otherwise why be reincarnated so soon?), so this gorgeous snowy massacre that’s supposed to be moving, is actually supremely boring. The boys scuffle, as boys do. Hyung-bin gets accidentally stabbed. Ha-eun’s heart gives out. Ji-chul takes the nearby gun and shoots himself in the head. And that, my friends, is Life #1.

In case we forgot that Born Again was about being reborn, the drama’s opening week episodes drop allusion after allusion that the question of rebirth is at stake. “I’ll go to you even after I’m dead,” is a common line used by everyone.

Also, one of the things that Ha-eun first says to Ji-chul upon seeing his scars is that, “In your next life I hope you’re never hurt by anyone.” Later, she changes her tune and tells him there’s no way he will be born again due to his crimes. Is the question of what happens to souls after death really something you can announce to people, like telling them they’re gonna miss the bus or step on a banana peel?

As terrible as it sounds, I couldn’t wait for all three of these characters to die. All the interest in this story surely lies in the question of Life #2, and the shape that it will take. Will these three souls be reborn? Have they earned another try with all their suffering? Will the love that was supposed to transcend all boundaries actually transcend it? Well, I’ll never know, because I’m not watching any more of this drama to find out.

We do get a hint at what their present day life looks like, though, and the drama’s opening and ending are bookmarked by about three minutes of present day story. I would have liked a little more than the glimmer we got (because the present day storyline is the only thing I’m curious about), but I suppose that’s what the rest of the drama is for.

The question, then, is how fate will unfurl the second time around. Ha-eun seems to have a little more spunk to her in the present day story, but I’d bet the farm she’s going to get steamrolled between Linton and Heathcliff again, so to speak.

We see glimmers of both heroes, too, and the story seems a bit different. Ji-chul is dapper, got a damn good haircut, and seems way better off than he was prior. He serendipitously meets our girl at a bookstore and they bicker over a book, which means love. Hyung-bin walks by, equally dapper, and it’s clear that he doesn’t know Ha-eun yet. Who is Linton this time, and who is Heathcliff? Wait, are we still going with that whole metaphor, or did we leave that behind in the ’80s with the stabbings, heart failure, and rotary phones?

We might not know where our characters have landed yet, but there’s surely some decades-old rivalry — or the echoes thereof — still in the air. Our premiere week closes with the two heroes exchanging some loaded glares across the subway platform, while our heroine stands there cluelessly.

While I like the drama’s thesis of these characters’ past lives determining where they wind up in the present day story, the “prologue” segment was so poor that I don’t expect the rest of this drama to be much better. I’m mildly curious how our characters fare in round two, but I don’t think I can forgive this drama enough to find out.

 
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boner gain!!!!!! i'm sorry, every time i see the hangul for this i don't read it as "born again" as much as "boner gain" T__T

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Hahaha. That made me look. That's how I read it too.

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OMO.......Now I can't unhear it

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OMO! 🙈

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Agree for the poor premiere week! It took me 3 days to watch the whole 4 episodes because it was so boring and I'm sorry but I never like JSY act. But I will try to watch another episode to find if this is still worth to watch because I miss JKY so much. Please show, do better 🥺

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Thank goodness im not the only one who feels that her acting is somewhat lacking. Kinda painful to watch because the two lead guys are actually good

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Do u guys think the two guys switched their souls? That would be quite makjang i might say if they go with this twist…Kinda like a very cruel joke for the victims especially Hyung-bin even more if they remember their past…Straingly i felt like Lee Soo Hyuk character looked or seemed younger than his present self,guess it's the hairstyle or something...

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Yeah, I do think so. See my comment below...

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If they will remember they former life like we see i actually feel really sorry for Hyung-bin...He was killed and a victim and he would have to live seeing the face of the one who took it all each day in the mirror,that's quite messed up...And while Ji-chul was one trully tragic character and clearly not in the very good place mentally wise and even more emotionly the present one might be evil without the tragedy forming him...

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I don't think they actually remember their former life, thank goodness! But then, what good is a former life if you never know, huh?

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I hint they will in the upcoming episodes and the signs are already showing it

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Yep, Lee Soo Hyuk has gelled hair.......gelled hair means eiiiivillll

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Heh - you got it.

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@gem28,
I haven't seen the episodes, so I literally do not know what I'm missing. But maybe that's a good thing. ;-)

Technically speaking, it's the change in the bangs -- most often achieved with gel or Greasy Kid Stuff -- that telegraphs the moral slide of the party in question. I think this is the first time I've heard of bangs changing orientation between incarnations. ;-)

Kdrama Trope #128: Tonsorial Indicator of Evil (aka Semaphore Bangs).
Code:
Bangs down = good.
Hair up off of forehead = evil.
As far as I know, this only applies to males.

http://www.dramabeans.com/2018/06/lee-je-hoon-chae-soo-bin-up-to-headline-sbss-fox-bride-star/#comment-3261522

This is part of the expanded list of 131 tropes compiled for uri @mary's future update to her dandy Kdrama Bingo Card Generator:
https://kdramalaws.wordpress.com/kdrama-bingo/

Enjoy. ;-)

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Good list. I never figured out why it is so hard for Korean cops to catch all the bad guys - all they have to do is arrest everyone with a black ball cap (face mask optional).

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@windsun33,
ROFLMAO. That would be too logical. Or would that be sartorial profiling?!

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In the present they need full access at the list of buyers for the black hood of death!

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Your big bang theory had me cracking up. I do like this drama though. It hits the sweet spot of overwroughtness that i apparently need right now.

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@scifiwritir Carole McDonnell,
Glad to provide a chuckle. It was fun to document Kdrama tropes with fellow Beanies. For science! ;-)

I'm intrigued to hear that you are finding BORN AGAIN entertaining in an over-the-top way despite the lambasting it got in this review. I maxed out on the stygian depths of KILL IT despite my appreciation for JKY's performance in COME HERE AND HUG ME and GO BACK COUPLE, and have strong reservations about BORN AGAIN for that reason. Reincarnation is normally my cup of tea, but the initial circumstances of this show sound too depressing for me. On the other hand, your comment #42 below sounds as if it's better than the premiere episodes let on. Thanks. ;-)

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I'm also fully enjoying it,so happy seeing i'm not really the only one from DB that watches it!!!
It's clearly not a masterpiece but i keep wanting more and confess i try to disconnect the logic on some stuff (ep 5 & 6 of this week) as my head hurts from trying to piece the scenes with the timeline of the ending of Episode 2(about Ji Chul)...I still try to trust that the writer didn't forget about the ending of ep 2 jajaj...Neverless i find it very addicting somehow even when alomost all the cast is creepy jajaj

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I think the basic thing with me is that i love working out puzzles. These three have a faith that needs to be worked out, and worked out for the good. We have no idea where the animosity or thread of destiny began with these three. It could have stated in the previous life or way back in Joseon times for all we know. I don't want the drama to say a soul is eternally doomed to end up as a loser in the parental draw. But neither do i want it to say that the child of a murderer will be a child of a murderer. (Speaking of which, i don't know who the prosecutor's parents are.)
One thing lacking in this puzzle, which makes it fail in comparison to Extraordinary You, is that we don't see how everyone else in this circle are connected and what they too have to work out. Seems weird that these three are the only ones with destiny issues. Mr Victim is so harried by his younger brother that i'm kinda wondering how destiny works. And where do the other women, parents, secondary characters fit into all this? Don't they get reincarnated too?
Another reason why i like this is because my Lee Soo Hyuk crush is deep. DEEP!!!! I'm proud of him that he's got the lead in a drama finally worthy of his vaguely superior aura. In this drama, he is somewhere between a dick and a prick and he's never made dicky prickishness so dang sexy.

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There are some hints in Episode 6 in respect of Soo Hyuk parents,his Mom is shown and it's hinted that his father died 3 years ago being a victim more likely or the killer something that shook him deeply shaping his personality we see now...

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That is true..When it was first announced the casting the very first thing if taught is that he will be the evil one and after they got with the pure cop and i was kinda "shocked" he would play the good one but they got me good as i never once suspected he will play both...
In some day time dramas they use the same type for the evil female characters as well,if she is good or become one will use the straight and bangs is evil or becoming the styled classy with curls style...

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The logic is weird for me. We know Gong Ji Chul died and went to prison and yet someone got his heart but how did someone so young as our heroine get a serial killer's heart? And was the heart she received Gong Ji Chul's?

Our heroine is downright pure. Not really a Cathy character although she does try to be fiery. Her acting has improved a lot.

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I missed that one but were was it stated she recieved his heart? Our heroine recieved her heart at age of 14 from a Death Raw Inmate,first one in the country to do so at that age and i think it was willingly meaning more likely they might have a connection...So from were that plot of his heart in our heroine as i saw more say it?I doubt it is a plot that as it was clearly stated and not some kind of mistery....All the three leads have has some remnants of their past life and past moments like Jung Bum obsessed with ressurection,hand tremor etc. ,Sa Bin trying to see the good in people and giving them a chance when all the others label them already along with her having friends who were once on the wrong path.

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yeah, it wasn't stated. Because there are so many overlaps, echoings, and interweavings. I know GJC was a match for her so it's good that she has the heart of a serial killer. I guess it means a goo-hearted person can have the physical heart of a heartless serial killer literally but not get his spiritual dna and not his physical dna tendencies to psychopathy. I figured everyone died on the mountain but next we see GJC being hung and only one body was found so i'm thinking hero cop's body somehow got separated and was never found. I still don't know how our modern guy could be GJC's son, if he is, if GJC had no child. So he would be the child of the true serial killer from the past, making his old daddy also his daddy in this life.

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I think they switched souls. In the past, Jang Ki Young's has a scar on his left eye and Lee Soo Hyuk's character feels pain on his chest. But in the present it's the other way around. Based on the trailer for the next episode, Lee Soo Hyuk is the one having an eye pain and Jang Ki Young's having the chest pain.

And here I was hoping that Lee Soo Hyuk will get the girl this time.

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"...I was hoping that Lee Soo Hyuk will get the girl this time."

I know, lol!

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Me too,i like JKY a lot but i wanted Lee Soo Hyuk to be the good guy who gets the girl!!!

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Maybe his next project....

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It will apparently have to wait until his next Kdrama incarnation. ;-)

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Indeed,one minor add, JKY char also felt heart pain in the past,don't know if it was real or induced by JSY heart pain that he somehow emoted but it's pretty clear they switched souls...They did try to make some subtle misleading with mostly both of the guys having the same stuff happen,the heart pain,the chair saving

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Yes, both men were clutching their chests at various points during the first two episodes.

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Seedy thrillers must be my thing, cuz I'm liking it. Have to admit though, the first time I tried I dropped it in 5 minutes. But came back, suffered thru a couple more minutes and then found it rather intriguing. How were they going to die? Who was going to kill whom? Who is the bad guy really? They really weren't subtle with the hints in the modern era though, were they. The former cop turned prosecutor keeps rubbing his eye, like it used to be damaged (in a former life)...

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Strong 2 episodes I like it. It's intriguing. Can't wait for the next episode.

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I tried watching it, but it was really boring. I don't think I'm going to try again.

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I’m on the side of this being...kind of bad. The acting was alright, but some of the logical leaps were big, even for kdramaland. I’ll probably watch at least the next episode to see if the modern day versions of these characters is more interesting.

My gut tells me this is gonna be a show I drop though.

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Sadly...me too.

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In theory, the show actually has an interesting premise....they also have 3 very good looking actor in reality......but the execution was so sloppy...I think 30 year is just too soon for reincarnations to take place...I mean people in their 30's who knew our trio would be 60 and what if...no this is drama so they will run into these 3 brand new version of the past three, wouldn't it be weird....I am also mildly interested to see where these new life takes our 3 main leads...how this whole new triangle gets new life...but will likely drop if the execution stays the same.......the last drama that heavily relied on allusions to Wuthering Height was Secret, God knows it was Ji Sung and Hwang Jung Eum's combined acting force that fueled that drama.....here they just don't have that intensity to convince me they can carry it.

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Uh, 30 years isn't too soon, unless this was real life. But it isn't, it's a drama, it's fantasy, there are no leaps of logic.

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In the book, there is a time leap. Catherine marries Linton, and dies in childbirth. Heathcliff howls in anguish when he finds out that she died. Catherine and Linton's daughter, Cathy, returns to the moors, and meets Heathcliff. Cathy resembles Catherine, her mother in looks, but has inherited her father Linton's rational mind. I found her character remote, she was more an observer than a player.

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Oh man Ji sungs and hwang jung eums chemistry, the sexual tension was through the roof. It was makjang all the way but so addictive because of the acting, chemistry and execution

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Giggled ay @missvictrix's review, so snarky and funny I almost want her to continue recapping this.

Wuthering Heights was my favourite classic back in the days when I was in high school. I swooned over Heathcliff and Catherine. Imagine my shock when I found out that this is based on the book, and poor Heathcliff is the victim of sexual abuse. I mean, Heathcliff is a wild beast, one with the moors, but to have Heathcliff suffer abuse at his mother's hands? Ew. Just. Ew. Linton is such a minor character in the book, and he's been elevated to Second Male Lead and Rival. Interesting.

The book is rich in imagery and symbolism, and the theme of Catherine being an extension of Heathcliff, one unable to live without the other. Without Heathcliff, Catherine dies. Without Catherine, Heathcliff lives, but he is like The Walking Dead. Or Dead Man Walking. It is all grandiose passion with heaving chests and loud tears and bitter words flung at each other, and I used to wonder how Emily Bronte imagined all that, tucked away in her room at the vicarage. I used to be haunted by the final image in the book of the two ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine wandering the moors, long after they died. It seems a bit too ambitious to remake this powerful tale into a contemporary drama.

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I'm not a JKY fan, and I would never watch this, but I have to thank @missvictrix for her brutal but hilarious critique. I needed a good laugh, and I'm still laughing. I wonder if @javabeans and @girlfriday read the recaps and reviews, because if they do, I'm sure they would love this one.

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Why is it that @missvictrix always gets the bad shows? Is she a masochist? Does she enjoy ripping dramas to shreds?

I'm not complaining because she's hilarious but I worry for her.

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Wait a minute "bad show" is rather a subjective thing, isn't it?

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Okay, fine.

Why is it that @missvictrix always gets the shows that I think are really bad (and so it seems does she)? Is she a masochist? Does she enjoy ripping dramas to shreds?

I'm not complaining because she's hilarious but I worry for her.

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@mindy Actually, I think reviewing dramas like this that you and others and @missvictrix think are "bad", well, I'd think they're actually more fun to review and be able to use the snarkiness that we all possess.

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@mindy Sorry no edit button...after all, it takes talent to write rippingly hilarious reviews.

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Ya' know, Wuthering Heights was my favorite book once upon a time too. I wonder what I would think of it now that I'm older and wiser?

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I reread a few excerpts a few weeks ago and found the passages excessive and dramatic (exclamation marks were liberally used)...how strange that the exact same lines used to thrill me so. We, my girlfriends and I, would quote the lines - our favourite lines were the part where Heathcliff cursed Catherine, weeping - and swoon over how romantic they were. Heathcliff was the epitome of The Romantic Hero - tall, dark, broody and as wild and untamed as the moors. I felt nostalgic when I read this review. Ah. To be young and free again, to feel the wind in my hair, hear the leaves rustle...and, dammit, I'm crying...I'm in lockdown and there's no wind and I just shampooed my wild, untamed hair - more like a mane now - drinking coffee and wondering what to eat for lunch. And dinner.

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Right there with you, dear comrade!

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I've never understood the love for Wuthering Heights. But Jane Eyre? ❤❤❤
I still love my Jane.

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I figure it's because I was such a melancholy teen and loved the tragic brooding hero type.

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I read the abridged version of Jane Eyre in my school library, and years later, I read the original, and holy moly, it was so sensual and filled with passages teeming with unbridled passion and lust! Mr. Rochester wasn't aloof at all! I had always thought him a dull old stick, I never understood what Jane saw in him, and the only interesting thing about him, to my teenage self, was his mad wife. This Mr. Rochester was a virile, lustful alpha! Years older! Lusting after Jane! I had been cheated! That Mr. Rochester in my musty school library was a pale watered down version.

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@yyishere but Jane was always a badass.

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That’s so interesting. I was the opposite—I loved wuthering heights, pride and prejudice, all my classics with strong female characters, but I could never get into Jane Eyre.

I wonder what that is. I think I thought that Jane was too proper and rule bound... Maybe I like my female leads a bit wilder in personality

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“ so snarky and funny I almost want her to continue recapping this.”
Exactly what I planned to say. But I didn’t giggle, I laughed so hard that I had a coughing fit 👏🏽 Thanks, @missvictrix!

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Yes, we want @missvictrix to keep recapping!

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Hey. How's the cat? So I have this expanse of grassy field behind my house, about ten minutes' walk from my place. I have a sudden urge to run up and down it, to feel the wind in my hair. There is hardly any wind, so the only way to get that wind is to generate my own wind. But the cops could arrest me, or the pack of wild dogs that roam the field could get me before the cops do.

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Wait, @yyishere! You have already been the "strange wind." You don't need to run around no stinkin' meadow being chased by feral dogs. You didn't waft Picky Princess Se-ri onto the NK side of the DMZ for nuthin'. You did it once, you can do it again.

*cues up "Windy" by The Association*

If that doesn't work, borrow King Lee Gon's riding crop to activate the wormhole and pop over to the paragliding area where you can recreate the "strange wind." -- Or just go for a spin with King Lee Gon aboard Maximus. Voila! Wind in your hair. Just be sure to dress in drag and bring organic carrots. Maximus doesn't like women. ;-)

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heyyyyyyy, the cat sends you fond greetings 😽. He’s really glad to be a cat and not a dog during the pandemic, I’m not dragging him out for walks multiple times every day.
No, could you really be arrested for running around an open field? Wowie 😮 I bet the first time they’ll let you off with just a warning! That’s a joke. YY, you may have to just sit in your doorway with a hand fan 🙁

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I'm glad I put my tea down before I started reading. I'm crying because I laughed so hard.

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After reading the recap, I realized I’m afraid to start watching this K-drama! this is the First time I’ve ever felt this way and I’ve watched a lot of them. Im not sure why. Maybe it was the mention of all those classics in one sentence that made my head with the thought of a Victorian , French, Disney-esque combination of the worst aspects of each. What do you think? Is my strong hesitation justified?

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It is over the top but I'm enjoying the over-the-top-ness. Some shows take themselves too seriously. Some shows take themselves too seriously but they're fun to watch because of it.

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Reading the review made me have some not good flashbacks to Tempted. This one would need to be over the top hilariously bad all the way through for me to attempt it.

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It does kind of remind me of some of the earlier black&white film noir movies, you know, the not-so-good-ones.

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@owl22,
If it's any consolation, I find myself in a similar situation. I had been looking forward to BORN AGAIN because I'm a sucker for reincarnation. But after a few too many dramas with serial killers, I'm not in the mood to deal with more violence (especially after having live-watched COME HERE AND HUG ME!), so I gave it a pass. I did the same thing with RUGAL. I had been keeping an eye open for it (pardon the pun) because of the cast, but realized it's not for me, not now, and maybe not ever. And that's okay. I'd love to see Yoon Kyun-sang in something, but couldn't bear to watch CLASS OF LIES.

And now that you mention a whole lot of classic literature, I'm even more grateful I skipped it. I may have been an English literature major, but I'm not a fan of the Victorian stuff. And that's okay. ;-)

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This was all kinds of bad. The 80s storyline actually felt like I was watching a bad Hindi reincarnation movie FROM the 80s. Was that where the writers got their inspiration? Because there wasn't one unfamiliar beat.
If the dramatic deaths (in the snow because red blood looks good on white snow!) weren't enough, they also seem to have 'borrowed' the soul switching trope of other reincarnation stories (Dead Again anyone?).
I don't mind it being makjang but I do mind it being predictable makjang, which generally works best when tropes are twisted just enough to leave you gasping.
I wasn't shocked. By anything. And that's the disappointment.

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This is why I don't like reading reviews and comments: every time I like a show, everybody else thinks it's really bad, and every time I hate a show, it's extremely popular and "good".
What's wrong with me???

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@linda-palapala Aw, don't feel that way! Opinions are just opinions, and your taste is your own. You do you! And you'll have to let me know what happens in this drama because despite really disliking it I *do* want to know what happens with the switch-off and how much (more) blood is spilled ^^

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Aw, thanks! (Actually, I usually wonder what's wrong with everybody else, heh!)

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Linda, my friend, I want you to know that you make a recap so much more interesting by being there in the comments section. I have always found your comments to be honest, funny, insightful and informative. Differing viewpoints are exhilirating to read, they make me ponder, and go, hmm, she's got a point there, kind of like opening up another window in my head and letting light flood in on what would have stayed in the shadows. Illuminating. I find your posts illuminating. Don't ever stop.

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Aww I'm sorry! I didn't mean to rain on your parade. But I actually saw this today - just before I read the review - so all my pent-up frustration flew into my comment!
Let me know if it gets better. I might even give it another try!

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It's so over-the-top, and normally I hate shows that are this over-the-top blatantly in-your-face with the hints, but for some reason this is hitting me in just the right playful mood - not that it's well written or in any way original, but it's mildly entertaining. So far...

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From the highlight trailer it will be even more fun so we will have what to talk

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Just watch it and ignore........there are plenty of dramas I like that others think are crap....but I enjoy those crap, drama viewing is very personal experience and no two people can have the same preference or taste or liking.....Heart wants what it wants so just enjoy it and ignore the rest

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Make it two then, I enjoy the drama too kkk I rarely watch drama these days. Tried the hyped ones, like the King and dropped half of 1st ep ^^, but this one got me hooked enough to wait for next week. i guess to each their own? kk just kinda sad noone really capping it so no place to discuss it later on ^^,,

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@linda-palapala,
You're marching to the beat of your own drummer. Your mileage varies. De gustibus. ;-)

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I am with you. I can count dozens of dramas that were clearly bad, cliched and obviously cheap that everyone LOVED and has written off all its flaws as "no drama is perfect". On another hand, some shows I love get all sorts of rediculing for some of those reasons.

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Hi Linda! There isn't anything wrong with you :)

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I saw you mentioning Hindi reincarnation movies from the 80's and I instantly thought of Karan Arjun (although it's from teh 90's). At least that movie was tropey entertaining which n don't think this show will be.

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I was thinking about movies like Kudrat and Karz but yes Karan Arjun works too lol (why do all these movies start with K 🤔)

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Exactly. I thought the K obsession was exclusive to Ekta Kapoor

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Thank you @missvictrix for this well-written hilarious review. I just came here to look at JKY's ugly wig (and laugh at it) but I utterly enjoyed reading this without even watching the drama.

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Okay, but are really sure it's a wig...

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If it isn't a wig then what was that... pfft

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The thing on his head is a shoutout to the Great Literary Classics.

In the Scarlet Letter, the adulteress Hester Prynne wore the scarlet letter A proudly. She turned the shameful symbol of her sin into an emblem of defiance.

Similarly, Heathcliff JKY is wearing a dead animal on his head to declare to the world, I AM A SAVAGE BEAST. BEWARE. Another reason, I might add - and this is pure speculation - is that he inadvertently caused that poor creature's death by trampling it beneath his foot when he was rampaging madly through the woods. He is atoning for his sin in a primal, earthy way. By wearing the carcass on his head.

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"Another reason, I might add - and this is pure speculation - is that he inadvertently caused that poor creature's death by trampling it beneath his foot when he was rampaging madly through the woods. He is atoning for his sin in a primal, earthy way. By wearing the carcass on his head." 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣

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I am going to remember a dead animal whenever I see Heathcliff JKY HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 🤣🤣🤣

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I do love how your mind goes off into the wild yonder!

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Has no one here ever seen a Davy Crockett coonskin cap? This is obviously the DIY Korean Gat of Atonement for squishing wildlife out of season. Or a mutant mane of glory... ;-)

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Ha, ha. I thought of that too but didn't want to comment as it would give away my age...

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@linda-palapala,
LOL! I didn't know you personally knew Davy Crockett. Cool! ;-)

Seriously, though. Jang Ki-yong is looking like a cross between Lee Joon-gi's Wang So (MOON LOVERS) and Yang Se-jong's Mr. Gong (THIRTY BUT SEVENTEEN). It occurs to me that he's likely wearing an ex-tanuki (neoguri in Korean) cap on his noggin. ;-)

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@pakalanapikake Now, now, you know very well I'm referring to Fess Parker...
Why couldn't JKY just have grown his own hair out???

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@linda-palapala,
April 23, 2020 at 9:30 AM

Sorry about that. I couldn't resist giving you a little tease -- and plausible deniability. ;-)

Maybe JKY didn't have enough time between gigs to grow his hair out long enough.

I really think it's a demised neoguri that helps guide the ch'i of the deceased into the next incarnation. ;-)

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Jang Ki Yong!! I think this might be his last drama project before he enlists?! I wonder due to the dwindling ratings of episode 3-4 if he regrets taking this project instead of an easy ratings win such as Record of Youth?

Either way, he's growing as an actor and I want him to succeed!

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Thank you so much @missvictrix for the laughs that I needed today. I'm sorry that I won't be able to enjoy this through your eyes for the next however many weeks it lasts, but I understand. Thank you for your sacrifice.

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I liked it. It was so cheesy and tropey and I loved it for that. I've missed dramas that know how to be over the top and, you know, ...dramatic. And we were dropped right in the middle of the good stuff. No stupid preamble, we got right down to the murders and the proposals and the strange love-at-first-sights. I am here for this show.

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You've found the descriptive word I've been looking for: cheesy. Thank you! Tropey too, actually, and that's what's making it kinda fun to watch (so far).

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it's too dark, don't know if i can hang with it... tho i love Jang Ki Yong... i'm not good with violent murder stories.

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@spazmo,
You must be reading my mind. We're in the same boat, sis. ;-)

I watched all of KILL IT for JKY, but the story zigged when it should have zagged. It could have been so much better.

I just finished NOBODY KNOWS, which has been thoroughly excellent, despite the violent elements. It has been a great mystery, with more twists than you can shake a stick at. Thankfully, the story has so much heart that it illuminates the darkness. Kim Seo-hyung (who played the vile reporter in COME HERE AND HUG ME -- speaking of dark and violent) turns in a phenomenal performance, as do Ahn Ji-ho, Park Hoon, and Ryu Deok-hwan. In the final analysis, it is a worthwhile cautionary tale of the consequences of child abuse and religious fanaticism.

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So far i'm really intrigued by the story, will their souls twist? Tbh i'm hoping not cause as much as i feel bad to Jicheol, Hyungbin and Haeun didn't deserve that tragic ending in their past life. And if Hyungbin reincarnated as Jicheol? it's gonna be a sick joke. I know JKY is supposed to be male lead? if they want to keep HaeunxHyungbin as otp, there's gotta be some twisting, ah. Idk, i'll still be watching to see how it turns out.

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From what it looks they are going there and indeed it is a sick joke even more when they will remember their past lives...It's like damn,a punishment for Hyungbin the most in my eyes,he was killed on the day he would marry with the ring in his hands only to be rewarded like that...How to live looking at one self seeing the face that took it all from him...

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yea even if they follow the trope that it's still Hyungbin soul inside someone else body, and that even though Jicheol gets Hyungbin appearance Haeun still wouldn't fall for him etc it's still kinda not right to me :( Why Jicheol got his wish granted, that was to live as Hyungbin while he actually killed the last? and even Haeun died because of him too.. hm

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That's the art that kinda irks me to fully root,like it feels the guilty one got his wish while the victim is still punished in another life...Even more when i personally feel life suicide isin't something to be celebrated as it is one of the major sins (and even to be able to reincarnate),kinda gives the wrong idea...

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Thank you for your first episode recap of BORN AGAIN, @missvictrix. I am well and truly maxed out on serial killers, and figure I dodged a bullet when I decided not to tune in. ROFLMAO at your editorial comments -- what a way to start the day. Thank you for those much-needed laughs, snorts, and guffaws. Like you, I stand transfixed by Jang Ki-yong's endless parade of horrible drama dads. Or maybe there's only one -- who reincarnates from one Kdrama to the next in a karmically-yoked pas de deux... ;-)

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It is terrible. I'm going to watch the heck out of it. Great review. :)

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Thanks for the review. I didn't finish the first episode and I don't think I will. It was bad, although when I read the great recap I realized it was worst than I remembered, hehe.

By the way I also thought how bad luck has JKY with his drama dads...

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I think that "I couldn’t wait for all three of these characters to die." is a good indicator of what a greatly awful drama this is.

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@windsun33,
Yes, that crucial line caught my eye. It makes me wonder if BORN AGAIN might exceed A PIECE OF YOUR MIND in the rock-bottom ratings sweepstakes.

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I really love @missvictrix's snarky recaps. ♥

While I'm not tempted to watch this drama, I'm glad I read this review. I could not remember anything about Wuthering Heights, but this review had me looking it up to get a brief idea.

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I like Lee soo hyuk but after scholar who walks the night which was my first LSH drama, nothing of his has piqued my interest. Really wanted to watch this but Its not too interesting

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My favourite dramas with him are White Christmas, What's Up and Valid Love (he was super handsome in this one :p)

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He has some great works before Scholar Who Walks The Night, like High School King of Savvy (second male lead), Tree With Deep Roots (minor but important role).

White Christmas and Valid were good too! Sweet Stranger, Shark were a bit meh...

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I'm loving the sassiness of this review! Thank you for saving me from wasting hours of my life :D

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1) Wuthering Heights isn't romantic. JKY's 80s character was no Heathcliff.
2) This was written with such broad strokes, like a school kid piecing a story from pointers.
3) It was painfully obvious this is the work of a rookie writer - Smurfs in the 80s? The first film didn't even come out till 1981 - I don't think it's something that she can easily use as I popular culture reference ; despite the fact that smurfs were already a successful comic series by that time (according to Google at least). Now had she shown the used bookstore owner to be a comics fan, I'd buy it maybe. But still there'd be the issue of available translations - I cannot only guess I have no knowledge on this topic.

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4) Poor JKY getting stereotyped into a killer with a tortured soul - he's really good at it, & I did like that he wasn't at least a psycho. Just a little twisted but not psycho.
5) The writers attempt at Anti hero was very poorly done - dude won't defend himself about snapping because she killed his little friend. If he was smarter he'd keep the heart transplant idea out of his head & spin the story from his other angle..... Well he can't be the smart guy all the time
5) Wasted opportunity, where did the mafia connection go? The psycho dad from past could've been any rich dude. If you were going to be bad should've been bad all the way.
6) Random - I looked up when DNA testing became possible, wasn't until 1983 at least. Because the cop work in 80s was very sloppy. Psycho dad got one thing right.
7) I guess the dishevelled hair was part of the scary eccentric artist dialed up 10000x. Unfortunately it wa just laughable & frizzy.

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8) 80s broad was such a dolt - who tf with insists to step out with a yellow umbrella when a serial killer has a thing for them?
Since when are yellow umbrellas so common anyway 🙄
2ndly - you were going home in a bus & got your usual heart pain, you didn't feel suffocated so why would you get down in the middle an unknown place? The writing was so stupid, they could've chosen a better way for her to get disoriented & witness the aftermath of the murder.
__ 3rdly, Which stupid person with a fatal heart condition treks in snow? She brought upon her own death. Idiot.

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I couldn't understand the yellow umbrellas either. At first I thought that the killer was targeting women who carried yellow umbrellas. But then the killer states that he killed the last victim because she was abusive toward her dad. Honestly, the serial killer plot line was idiotic.

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Yes agreed.

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@maybemaknae Minor Rumi, @sirena,
I didn't watch the show, but can tell you that the yellow umbrella is iconic in the 2003 film THE CLASSIC. It doesn't exactly deal with reincarnation, but with the younger generation succeeding in getting together whereas their parents' love had been thwarted.

AHA! A yellow umbrella also figures in the 2001 reincarnation movie BUNGEE JUMPING OF THEIR OWN. That has to be the reference. It's quite apropos.

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Ok, so what we can conclude is that a yellow umbrella is a must have for any drama with a reincarnation plot ;)

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Lol just Rumi. Minor is a joke 😂
Thanks for the reference P.

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Every time I see the drama title I start singing Tiffany Young's born again 😂

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I really appreciated your review. Hope you continue to watch and to review every week. I will be looking forward for your review than the show itself. Kudos!

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ait! No way! Did they switch souls in the present day!? In the past, Jang Ki Young's has a scar on his left eye and Lee Soo Hyuk's character feels chest pains. But in the present it's the other way around. Based on the trailer for the next episode, Lee Soo Hyuk is the one having an eye pain and Jang Ki Young's having the chest pain.

And here I was hoping that Lee Soo Hyuk will get the girl this time.

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I have been having a difficult time collecting my thoughts about this drama. My sister asked me what I thought and I honestly couldn't answer her. Then I read @missvictrix's review and it suddenly became very clear. Thank you, thank you.

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I was so excited to see Jang Ki Yong in a new drama but I'm honestly not sure what I watched in those four episodes. There are so many ingredients and everything just feels half-baked. Also why did they not have more of the present story line?? The little we got felt like all those "no context" videos online. I hope this doesn't become another 'Absolute Boyfriend'. I love watching Yeo Jin Goo acting but my love wasn't strong enough to accept that story

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The real tragedy here @missvictrix is that this is your only review of this drama because I would have loved to laugh like this every week.

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Thank you for the recap,,this was hilarious to read!

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Hahaahaa your scathing review was a delight to read! Thanks for the laugh! I was hoping for this drama to be at least mediocre but this is so sad for poor Jang Ki Yong. Ah well hopefully the next one will be better.

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Maybe because i didn't watch lots of dramas with the same idea, i really liked this one (sorry). Liked because it is quite predictable. After the Voice 3 i don't want crazy directors' ideas anymore. Just give me something i might predict. ))) What everyone was waiting/hoping for? )) The title says it all - they all be dead in the first episodes. If they all be smashed with the "truck of doom" - that would be the thing i might call "not new"? The ending of the episode 4 was ok. Really was moved by the story of JKY character and a boy. The episode of a half-naked frightened cornered character was excellently made. The only thing that was a little bit unexpected - the fact that there was "no psychotic old dad".

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Really, i see so many people saying that lee soo hyuk should get the girl but in my own opinion, i hope jang ki young get the girl... for me, the drama is intriguing and after i finished the first 4 episodes i was like when will be the next episode. I really moved by jang ki young's story and how he wants the girl he liked to be happy and healthy. JKY's character is just that he is afraid je would become like his dad and also he is mentally not normal because of the abuse he got from his parents. I dont where the story will go. JSY said that she only love LSH always eternally but she would change her heart and at least once love JKY's character. I know that LSH's character killed by JKY' character and he is a victim but still im rooting for JKY... hwaiting... and also i dont want JKY and LSH to be switched their souls and all...

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Is there any drama where LSH character gets the girl? He is always left behind. Pleaseeeeee, give him the girl at least this time )))

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With this kind of lady I prefer him ends up with JKY. Not to mention Jin Se-yeon trying to sell her character as NFS worker is an insult to Baek Beom and his crew.

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I was planning on watching this drama if the review was positive, but I guess that's not gonna happen.

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It is enough for me that Jang Ki Yong is such an eye candy amd an awesome actor. For me this is among the strengths of the drama, along with its plot, cinematography, and OST, to name a few. I wish that the interesting plot could be handled better in the next episodes.

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For me this drama kind of worth to watch as it seems like, hyung bin and ji chul soul is switch off but some points, not. So i will patiently wait for next episodes. I keep on search the ost for the snow scene, the IU like voice, does anyone know the song? The song is very good.. Just my kind of genre...

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WHERE CAN I DOWNLOAD

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After watching episodes 9-10, I can honestly say the drama is getting better! The car accident scene was pretty "romantic"... And Prosecutor Kim swimming was.... :))

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Yes, it is becoming more intriguing and interesting, not so romantic that scene, I think rather to bring them a little closer, the character of LSH is very cold, I suppose those scenes of him swimming are not only for our delight or are they?

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Please don't just leave this drama out to dry. I'm a huge LSH stan, and I need recaps (and screencaps!) please.

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I keep wondering how the three protags will work out their destinies in a good way. Is that even possible? I have two nits though. First, i would like to know where this ill-fated destiny began? Was it in the life in the 1980's or way before that? even in joseon times? And i would like to see other folks from the previous life reincarnated into this life. Somehow it doesn't feel quite right if we only have three people. There should be more people intertwined, or interweaving, through their destinies. The actress who plays "Sweetest Character Ever" has gotten so much better in her skillz and Lee Soo Hyuk is absolutely perfect. He's a pain, he's a bit of a dick, but dang, so sexy.

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@scifiwritir CaroleMcDonnell,
Now that most of my shows have ended over the past few weeks, or are about to, I might just sneak a peek. Your comment that the FL has improved caught my eye. She's like my Kdrama kryptonite, for some odd reason. I think I've been spoiled by excellent eye actors (Jang Hyuk, Cha Seung-won, Ryu Deok-hwan, Seo Hyun-jin, Kim Hae-sook, among others) so that in comparison, she leaves me feeling out of touch with her characters' inner states. It was particularly apparent in the first and only drama I've seen her in, GRAND PRINCE, opposite Yoon Si-yoon and Joo Sang-wook. Those guys speak volumes with their eyes. Son Ji-hyun as Jurchen Warrior Princess Ru Shi-gae ran rings around her when it came to conveying her inner thoughts and emotions. I threw in the towel on ITEM when the writing went to hell in a handbasket -- and because I couldn't hack watching her opposite Ju Ji-hoon, another fave eye actor. The cognitive dissonance was too much. The only other production I've seen her in is the film ENEMIES-IN-LAW, but I'll admit that I was too busy gawking at Hong Jong-hyun. ;-) One of these days I'll work up to GAKSITAL, and get around to THE DUO, too.

Glad to hear that Lee Soo-hyuk is doing well. I liked his performance in SWEET STRANGER AND ME, which is the most recent work of his I've seen.

As for your nits, those sound like very good points about the plot and character arcs in BORN AGAIN. What triggered the bad karmic relationships, and how far back do the entanglements extend? It will be interesting to see how they are revealed, especially if more than one past lifetime is involved. I would expect the rest of their cohort to reincarnate together because those relationships would continue across lifetimes, too.

I feel myself slipping over the event horizon... Geronimo! ;-)

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I hung in to get a feel for where the storyline was going and I have to say my it took 5 episodes to really gain my interest. And interested I am now. I hAve two very handsome actors that kept me attentive the first 4 episodes and the female lead is definitely committed to her role. I have to say I’m liking the weirdness of it all.

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it is weird, isn't it? And dang, the weird casual evil of the older generation folks in this drama! Another reason why i want to see why all these characters are together in this destiny. There is no perfect good except for our heroine and our hero is all shades of gray in his attempt to vanquish evil. Will see how goodness wins.

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@scifiwritir CaroleMcDonnell,
Sounds as if we might be in for reincarnation back stories for the Evil Elders, too. Will good even have a fighting chance at winning against evil? What if the elders are only agents of karma delivering comeuppance for the good guy(s) past wrongs? Hmmm.

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@GiggirlNY,
Thank you for the heads-up. Some shows do take a while to get rolling, so it's good to know that five was the magic number for you. ;-)

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i was watching sweet stranger and me and then i began to feel that my sweetie wouldn't get the girl so i jumped ship. or maybe i jumped ship for another reason. whatever the reason was, i stopped watching. i should return i guess.

Yes, said unnamed bad actress was hard for me to deal with. She's improved a lot since Flower in Prison and all the countless dramas i endured her in. Her character is a bit otherworldly so her acting style fits it. Wouldn't it be great if she and LSH fell madly in love in real life? She seems like she would be a good counterpart for him. He's got a wry witty cynical personality that i love. Very playful so she would fit him well. Unless, she really isn't as sweetly odd in real life as she appears to be.

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