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Was It Love: Episode 2

Men from our heroine’s past are showing up one by one and although she hates having to rely on a certain writer, she needs to swallow her pride to keep the company afloat. The task ahead of her is a daunting one but it’s all or nothing from here on out.

 
EPISODE 2: “Why Is Youth So Beautiful?”

Spring 2010. OH DAE-OH (Sohn Ho-joon) listlessly makes his way across campus and literally every student whips their head around to gape at him. He stops by Ae-jung’s locker, emotional at the sight of the fading “Noh Ae-jung ♡ Dae-oh” written on the door.

Later, Ryu Jin storms into the film club room where Dae-oh is waiting yells that Dae-oh must be out of his mind – “After four years of being the biggest nutjob, you call me out of the blue and tell me that you’re dropping out?”

Dae-oh just apologizes and hands Ryu Jin a gift – the manuscript of his first novel as Cheon Eok-man, “Love Doesn’t Exist.” He asks Ryu Jin to read it over and tell him if it’ll help him win “her” back. Dae-oh is sure that the story will get his name out there, which will bring “her” to him.

Fast-forward to 2020. Dae-oh was right, because Cheon Eok-man is well-loved and the entire country is curious about his identity. On the phone, his editor-in-chief (cameo by Kim Kwang-gyu) tries to convince Dae-oh that now’s the time to reveal his face to the public but is chastised for organizing a book concert without Dae-oh’s consent.

Dae-oh scrolls through is inbox and an e-mail from Noh Ae-jung gives him pause. He hangs up just as Editor Hong is explaining the situation regarding Thumb Film and the production rights.

He scours the internet for proof that this is the Noh Ae-jung that he’s been waiting for, largely unsuccessful until he stumbles upon an Instagram post where he finds her smiling face amongst the Thumb Film staff. Dae-oh’s eyes widen and he lets out a chuckle in disbelief.

We come full circle back to the café, where Ae-jung struggles to keep her facial expressions in check when Dae-oh introduces himself as Cheon Eok-man. “It’s been a long time,” he says casually.

They grab a table and while Ae-jung’s full of nerves, Dae-oh sits comfortably and gives her thirty seconds to convince him to work with her. Her attempts at flattery are quickly dismissed as boring and cliché.

Dae-oh prods Ae-jung to think about why he agreed to meet with her despite Thumb Film’s poor reputation. He turns serious and tells her it’s because he wanted to know how she feels meeting him again fourteen years later.

We’re brought back to 2005, where Ae-jung screeched at Dae-oh for throwing up on her shoes. Eww. He’d followed her to the stream where she angrily scrubbed her shoes clean. Heh, I love how every threat she made had him flinching, but it didn’t deter him from getting closer.

Dae-oh mumbled that everyone makes drunken mistakes but when she continued to yell at him, he barked out an apology, not sounding sorry at all. “I didn’t want to play this dirty either,” he confessed, “But you were about to kiss Ryu Jin.” He defensively said that it’s not like he did anything wrong by trying to stop the kiss.

Ae-jung took offense with his use of banmal, lecturing him to respect her as his sunbae even if they’re the same age. He’d scoffed that starting university two years late was already bad enough, but now he’s being looked down on too.

He deadpanned, “Is liking you considered rude?” and the sudden confession took all her fighting spirit away. Dae-oh stepped closer and vowed to show her how “rude” he can get, mere inches away from her face. Let’s hope he brushed his teeth.

Back in the present, Dae-oh says, “I really missed you a lot,” and they share a short but charged moment until he clarifies that what he really meant was that he wanted her to see how he turned out.

Dae-oh says Ae-jung isn’t at the level to be working with him and flings two tickets for his upcoming book concert towards her as a parting gift. He’s definitely enjoying flaunting his success, promising to take care of the bill before walking off and leaving Ae-jung fuming.

However, Director Kim texts her for an update so Ae-jung swallows her pride and runs after Dae-oh. Before getting into the elevator, he points out that the old her would’ve never groveled to earn someone’s favor.

Back at the office, Hye-jin fangirls over Author Cheon, finding it extremely lucky that Ae-jung had a history with him too. Ae-jung snaps that his book is trash, but is caught lying when Hye-jin points out that she tabbed all her favorite parts of the story.

Ryu Jin suits up to practice some cheesy lines for Hollywood but is interrupted by Dae-oh who comes knocking and teases him for dressing up at home. Dae-oh pops a bottle and shares that he got his long-awaited revenge on Ae-jung today.

He animatedly explains that they crossed paths while working in the film industry and freaks out about how he knew she’d come looking for him, sputtering, “What an emotional moment!”

Ryu Jin’s lost in his own thoughts and hesitantly asks if Dae-oh agreed to work with Ae-jung. Dae-oh replies that he was mean and even threw some pricey tickets at her. He figures that if she’s desperate, she’ll show up at the event to beg him.

“She sure has changed then,” Ryu Jin muses after confirming that she left without saying anything else. What Dae-oh doesn’t share is that when he got off the elevator, content with his petty revenge, Ae-jung had run down the stairs to tell him how she felt meeting him again.

Knowing that it’d upset Dae-oh, she’d claimed that it’s been sooooo long that she’d already forgotten how close they were. Ae-jung apologized for her poor memory and thrusted the tickets back at him. “How could I attend your book concert when I barely remember you?” Oof.

Ae-jung was prepared to never see him again, but Dae-oh gave the tickets back because it’s rude to return someone’s gift, especially when he still remembers her clearly.

Dae-oh now sprints alongside the river and huffs, “You barely remember me?” It’s reminiscent of how he’d acted back in 2006, post-breakup. He’d made a name for himself amongst the student body for running nonstop every day after being dumped.

Ryu Jin was worried that he might die running from day to night on an empty stomach. The idea didn’t sound too bad to Dae-oh, and he broke down as he asked if it’s true that she left him because he lacked money and connections, and had no future. Ryu Jin grabbed him and confirmed it, yelling in frustration that he needs to get over it.

Dae-oh just cried, “If I die from running like this, tell Ae-jung that I died because she broke my heart.” He let out gut-wrenching sobs and wailed that he’s having a hard time. Back in the present, Dae-oh breathes that there’s no way Ae-jung can treat him so nonchalantly.

He doesn’t know, of course, that she’s anything but emotionless when it comes to him. She stabs the tickets with a fork while complaining about “the sick bastard” to Sook-hee, who just advises Ae-jung to play nice if she needs his help.

Ae-jung fumes that she tried to maintain a friendly atmosphere but he came at her with daggers and she didn’t even have time to defend herself. To make things worse, she can’t win against him.

Sook-hee shows Ae-jung that even a chipped whiskey glass can be repurposed. Rather than throwing it away, it started the second chapter of its life and now houses a plant. She tells Ae-jung that with life, you never know if you’ll end up growing a flower or rolling around in dirt, encouraging her not to give up.

Ae-jung cradles the plant on her way home and wonders if a flower can grow from a life like hers. The streetlights flicker off and the next thing she knows, she’s being whisked away to Pa-do’s basement and tied to a chair.

She frantically explains that her mission to recruit Cheon Eok-man was doomed to fail because he’s made it his goal to ruin her life. Pa-do calls their deal off and she shakenly asks for other options, since she can’t possibly repay the debt.

The “other option” is to lose a hand, so Pa-do sits back to watch as Director Kim and the lackeys take action. She screams as the knife comes down but of course, that was all a dream and she wakes up relieved to see all her limbs intact, LOL.

Ae-jung’s so distracted that she doesn’t notice Yeon-woo waiting for her at the bus stop. She works on crafting a text to Pa-do and is so oblivious to her surroundings that Yeon-woo runs up ahead to protect her from incoming pedestrians. When he makes his presence known, he accidentally triggers a screaming match, pfft.

They sit at a nearby park and Ae-jung learns that there’s a meeting for parents today. She promises to be there, since she hasn’t been able to do much for Ha-nee. Yeon-woo tells her she’s a better mother than she gives herself credit for.

When she mentions that a guy has been getting in her way lately, Yeon-woo offers to grab his neck, throw him on the ground, and then beat him until all his teeth fall out, but Ae-jung laughs that he needs to be much scarier when saying that.

They’re apparently the exact words she’d used whenever she sided with Yeon-woo in the past. They first met in 2005 when Ae-jung was tasked with cleaning the men’s bathhouse. A high-school-aged Yeon-woo had his belongings taken away by his basketball teammates, who left him behind.

He made excuses for their behavior but Ae-jung explicitly described how she’d rough them up for treating him like that and said that people usually feel better with someone taking their side. Ae-jung noted that their encounter felt like something out of the folktale The Fairy and the Woodcutter, but he’s the fairy with the beautiful smile.

At the meeting, the other mothers gossip about “the new girl’s mom,” avoiding the seat next to Ae-jung. She slips out to take a call from Grandma who calls her daughter naïve when she lies that everyone’s very friendly at the meeting. Ae-jung spots Pa-do arriving at the school and hangs up to deal with him.

She shakenly grabs a mop to keep him away from Ha-nee. “I thought the moment when I decided to have my daughter was the scariest moment of my life, but I was wrong. I’m scared to death right now,” she admits to a confused Pa-do.

Ae-jung promises to beg Cheon Eok-man, or to even let Pa-do cut off her hand so as long as he doesn’t come to Ha-nee’s school like this. Dong-chan calls out, “Dad?” and Ae-jung realizes her mistake.

Grandma shows up to the meeting and ignores the nasty murmurs of distaste. When Yeon-woo asks for guest speaker suggestions, Grandma brings up Cheon Eok-man, which erupts a wave of excitement within the room.

Ae-jung apologizes for her misunderstanding but Pa-do just asks how she knows Dong-chan. She can sense that he doesn’t want Dad to know the truth, so she says that Dong-chan’s a kind boy who befriended Ha-nee. He scampers away and Pa-do follows behind, so Ae-jung heads to the meeting alone, noting that they don’t look very close.

The meeting’s over when she arrives and Grandma has somehow won over the hearts of the other mothers, who now greet Ae-jung with bright smiles.

Pa-do sees that his son spends his break alone and Dong-chan texts Pa-do’s right hand man (Dong-chan calls him “uncle”) that he doesn’t like it when Dad comes to school. He chokes on his bread but Ha-nee comes to the rescue with some milk in hand.

She asks why Dong-chan’s eating alone and he throws the question back at her, but Ha-nee answers that she’s not eating alone, “I’m eating with you.” Aww! She learns that Dong-chan’s mom has passed away and shares that she decided that her dad doesn’t exist.

Ha-nee hears Mom and Grandma fighting – Grandma wants Ae-jung to throw her pride aside to ask the famous writer to speak at the school. That way, everyone will think she’s a hotshot PD and treat Ha-nee nicer. Ae-jung storms off and Yeon-woo catches up to greet Grandma. It takes a moment, but she gasps when she recognizes him.

When Ae-jung returns to the office, Hye-jin is immersed in Author Cheon’s latest book. She points out that the anti-heroine of Love Doesn’t Exist is a lot like Ae-jung. They share similar qualities and habits, like the fact that they bite their thumbs while deep in thought. Even the title reminds her of “Noh Ae-jung,” a.k.a. “No Love.”

So when Ae-jung re-reads some highlighted excerpts that night, she draws parallels to her own relationship with Dae-oh. The female protagonist had warned the hero not to wield his sword with his left hand, as it’s closer to the heart. He realizes that’s why his sword swayed before her.

It triggers a memory of when she and Dae-oh took photos of each other during cherry blossom season. Ae-jung told him that she uses her left eye to shoot photos, so she can put her heart into them. He’d asked if that’s the reason why his heart flutters when he sees her.

On the day of the concert, Ae-jung shows up to the office to meet Editor Hong, holding a letter he’d sent her. She states that even if he pays her ten times the penalty fee, she has no plans to give up on the copyright.

He tries to argue that the contract is invalid, but is no match for her. She leaves him with a message to relay to Writer Cheon: “That’s my story too. That’s why I have to produce a movie out of it.”

Dae-oh unexpectedly orders Editor Hong to schedule a meeting with Ae-jung, but reassures that he won’t let her produce the movie. He’s just going to show her who’s boss, and tells the editor to escort her to the best seat in the house tonight.

Ryu Jin slips into the venue just as the event starts, scanning the crowd for Ae-jung. The crowd goes wild over Dae-oh, and the MC (cameo by comedian Kim Ji-min) gushes that he should’ve revealed his face sooner since he’s so handsome (and hee, Ryu Jin is appalled at this comment). Dae-oh agrees, “Then perhaps we could’ve met sooner,” looking straight at Ae-jung.

As conversation shifts to his debut novel, Dae-oh confirms that it’s based on his personal life, written after he broke up with the woman he loved fourteen years ago.

Without breaking eye contact with Ae-jung, he recites the first line. “She vanished. She left me out of the blue. Because of the woman who took everything from me, I had fallen sick.” Ae-jung scoffs when he claims that he didn’t eat or drink and spent his days running, better off dead.

Dae-oh had always wondered what his ex would’ve thought about his novel, so he decides to ask someone from the audience instead. Of course, he picks Ae-jung, which puts Ryu Jin in alert mode.

“Imagine that you were the protagonist. How would you feel?” A moment feels like forever while waiting for Ae-jung’s answer: “It’d feel horrendous.” She clarifies that it’d be the female who would feel that way, which takes Dae-oh by surprise.

“Previously, you said that the woman took everything from you. But I beg to differ. Perhaps, it could be you who stole everything from that woman,” she declares before leaving the venue emotionally. Ryu Jin follows her out but is quickly recognized and crowded by fans.

Ae-jung walks around aimlessly, thinking back to how Dae-oh claimed that his lover disappeared. However, she remembers it differently. She’d stood outside an apartment on a rainy day and dropped her umbrella because of whatever she witnessed from outside the window.

She thinks, “It was you who vanished first. You left me.” When Ae-jung crosses the street, a car manages to stop right before hitting her but she falls unconscious.

Meanwhile, Ha-nee had overheard Grandma telling Yeon-woo that he hadn’t changed in the past fourteen years, while he’d claimed to have waited endlessly for Ae-jung back then. She’d invited him over for dinner and now asks Ha-nee to grab some plates from the attic.

Grandma’s claim that Yeon-woo’s just an old neighbor doesn’t convince Ha-nee, but she doesn’t press further. In the attic, Ha-nee knocks over a box of Ae-jung’s belongings from university, and she sees that Mom was credited as the producer of a film (Dae-oh was the director and Ryu Jin acted).

Ae-jung regains consciousness at a hospital with Pa-do by her side. He was the driver of the car and wants to compensate her, and she asks if she’s under his surveillance. Knowing that he can’t just write off her debt as compensation, she rips off her IV to meet Dae-oh. She tells Pa-do off for acting like he cares when he’s the one who gave her the mission.

She waits at their designated meeting place but unbeknownst to her, Dae-oh agrees to do a special interview with a reporter instead, telling Editor Hong to cancel their appointment. When the café closes, Ae-jung sits outside in defeat and it starts to pour.

Ha-nee continues to clean up the mess but finds a notebook titled, “To My Future Baby.” The cover indicates that the dad is Oh Yeon-woo while mom is Noh Ae-jung. A sonogram drops to the floor, labelled “My precious Ha-nee,” so of course, her head is spinning, wondering why her teacher’s name is here.

The doorbell rings – it’s Yeon-woo with a cake in hand. Meanwhile, Dae-oh shields Ae-jung with his umbrella, allowing himself to get soaked.

 
COMMENTS

I don’t believe for a second that Yeon-woo’s the father. Nice try, Show! But… is it too obvious if Dae-oh is the father? They broke up in 2006 and that’s also when Ha-nee was born. I hope this mystery isn’t dragged on for weeks because I’m already tired thinking about it. Let’s just have it laid out in the open so that our characters can deal with the truth. Otherwise, things are settling in nicely as the four suitors take their place orbiting around our heroine. Three of the four are from her past, which makes me automatically want to root for the completely unrelated Pa-do. Or… I hope he’s unrelated, anyway. Not everybody needs a childhood/past connection to be able to fall in love; I want to see something new and fresh! Plus, I find Pa-do the most interesting of the lot. I bet you he’s the softest one beneath his rough exterior.

But…who am I kidding? I’m already on Team Dae-oh (because Sohn Ho-joon), and everyone else is merely a distraction. While I don’t currently think they have a whole lot of chemistry, I really felt that heartbreaking display of sorrow after Dae-oh was “abandoned” by Ae-jung and was devastated for him. On top of losing the love of his life, the reasoning he was given was that he wasn’t good enough – that’s incredibly hurtful and must’ve done a toll on him. It’s why I give Dae-oh a pass (…for now) for acting like he’s better than Ae-jung and showing off his success. He’s clearly hiding his pain with jokes and a childish revenge plan that I don’t believe he’ll be able to carry out. He still has so much love to give, and the one thing that sounded truthful during his exchange in the café with Ae-jung was when he said that he missed her a lot. Of course, he turned his words around but in that one moment, I really felt the genuine emotions of ex-lovers reuniting for the first time in over a decade.

I don’t know if this is me being scarred from seeing Song Jong-ho playing the villain in Hwayugi, but… Ryu Jin seems just the slightest bit suspicious whenever Ae-jung is mentioned. Like he has a secret. My guess is that he liked Ae-jung, but she was swept away and won over by Dae-oh before he was able to confess. The show is pretty predictable plot-wise in terms of typical rom-com tropes so far. It therefore seems like what drove the couple apart was a huge misunderstanding, which I can’t help but suspect Ryu Jin to be at least partially responsible for. I’d hate for this to be true though, because he and Dae-oh have a strong bond and seems to genuinely want Dae-oh to be okay. Ultimately, whatever happened in 2006 seems to be the result of a lack of communication because there was no closure for either of them – they’d just assumed that the other gave up on the relationship and disappeared. I hope that they will talk about it sooner rather than later, so they can begin their journeys towards healing, even if they aren’t endgame.

I love Song Ji-hyo’s variety persona and have watched a handful of her shows, but I’ve never felt that her acting was distracting until this episode. Was It Love is definitely a show that sprinkles in a fair share of wackiness (like Pa-do literally biting into an onion), but I feel like Song Ji-hyo’s reactions seem a bit too over the top in certain moments. An example would be the moment she met Cheon Eok-man. I just couldn’t figure out what emotions she was feeling because of her facial expressions…was it just me? She’s much stronger when it comes to the more emotional acting, so I trust in her and know that she’s going to be pulling at my heartstrings soon. Especially when it comes to her relationship with Ha-nee. Ha-nee has matured quicker than others her age (she literally calls them “kids,” lol) but definitely had no shortage of love growing up, even if others view her family as unconventional. The grandmother-mother-daughter trio are definitely the heart of the show. However, Ha-nee still clearly craves a father figure in her life and if someone good comes along that can fill that role for her and be a strong partner for Ae-jung, then that’d be great! Ha-nee’s a girl who knows what she wants, and I’m sure that the four men will have to first win her over before they even have a shot at romancing Ae-jung. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll woo these ladies and am positive that we’re in for a fun (and emotional) ride.

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Not the biggest fan of Dae-oh tbh :/ Maybe it's because the show is focusing for now on his hurt from losing Ae-jung, but he's kinda giving me mildly toxic softboi vibes. It's still early days though.

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I agree with you. Though it seems to be unpopular opinion xD. I don't like the pettiness he is showing. I never understood the need to flaunt your success in order to put someone down. The person is already having tough time they don't need anyone telling them they haven't made it or that they failed. No one knows that better than them. It just shows that he never outgrew the situation. Yes, he was hurt badly and yes it can be tough to forget/forgive but be a bigger person and don't be mean!

On a side note I am rooting for Pa - Do 🤣I know he won't be the end game but I just want him to have a good relationship with his son! He seems to be a teddy bear when he is not beating people up 😅

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Pa-do for president 🙌

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Thanks for the recap @selena!

Like you, I know I'll be on Team Dae-oh, BUT the show should make the other suitors solid competitors and have them form meaningful relationships with Ae-jeong and each other (BROMANCE PLEASE) instead of being mere distractions.

I want need the same level of second-lead syndrome (even third, fourth?) as Nam-gil in Go Back Couple. Besides, we can never go wrong with jealous Son Ho-jun, heee.

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Bromance is always welcomed!

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Cracked up on the "Let's hope Dae-oh brushed his teeth" part of the recap. Nothing like barfing on your crush's shoes to stop her kissing someone else! Laughed a lot when watching and laughed again when reading the recap, am liking the show's humor. Yeon-woo quietly clearing Ae-jung's road and the screaming match after is just cute.

Am agreeing with most of @selena comment, Dae-oh is the main suspect as Ha-nee's father (please confirm asap, show!) and Ryu-jin is under suspicion for wrecking Ae-jung and Dae-oh's relationship. My wild theory is, instead of Ae-jung, Ryu-jin's been in love with Dae-oh all this time ><

Dae-oh is really out for revenge, his words and action are designed to give maximum hurt to Ae-jung, but they also show how much he himself is still hurting. So glad that she gives back as good as she got, and can't wait for him to grovel when he realized her situation! And like the way she ironically asked Pa-do to compensate her as much as the debt; she's really not looking for an easy way out and utterly serious in producing the movie as her only lifeline.

So far the information Ha-nee seems to have about her father is "we should just consider him dead"? If I were her, I'll be quite insecure and desperately curious too...

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Ryujin is in love with Dae Oh is a wild one but plausible!

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I am on bored with this train. I am rooting for Ryu-Jin and Dae-Oh. <3

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aahhh your pfp & display name just made me tear up with all the feels ~ oh my heart ♡

..also ditto LOL but oy, what an obstacle they'd have to work thru over 14yrs of selfish betrayal by RJ..

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I always root for dramas to be more inventive particularly when it comes to straight romance dramas. I'll be staying regardless of what happens because of my love for the actors but of course a surprise would be the icing on the cake. Here are some possible endings:

Predictable and cliche: Dae Oh being the father + endgame
Predictable: Ryu Jin being the father + Dae Oh being endgame
Neither predictable nor twisty: Father is outside quartet of men + Dae Oh being endgame
A twist: Father is outside quartet of men + Dae Oh not being endgame
A twist and then some: Yeon Woo is the father + Dae Oh not being endgame

The ball's in your court, Show. I don't have high hopes but the more you avoid the predictable area the more I'll be delighted.

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I am rooting for a plot twist that will make you say 'Daebak!'

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When Ae-jung met for the first time Cheon Eok-man I saw in her expression big surprise with bigger resentment somewhere deeply inside and hurting curiosity. It makes sense in this episode and I'm watching because I want to keep my mind occupied by silly stories but I don't like the editing.

I rewatched the scene with baby diary revelation and did anyone notice that in AJ's writing was written the surname Oh and the rest was written by someone else? Maybe PD is trying the secret game like in the 19's series but anyone would know if the baby was born in 2006 her mom would be 9 months pregnant before unless some complications.

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Yes, I noticed that first it was written with the mother last name and the father last name only. Then, elsewhere, the whole name. I really want Dae-Oh to be the father, mostly because he was so obsessed with her from his youth and even now. I don't think he really wants to her hurt exactly, I think it is more that he wants her to be sorry for hurting him and he doesn't know how to make her sorry.

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Dae-oh is living in his revenge mode and she told him those words she knew would hurt him the most. She learnt she was pregnant and when she went to tell him that she saw something she obviously was thinking was a betrayal. We'll see it later I think in flashbacks and maybe he'll understand once he'll see her daughter and asks her when she was born.

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I already feel that Dae-Oh is endgame and I wouldn't hate it because Sohn Ho Joon is love. But I would also love something totally new. Surprise me please! :D

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Ok. This episode was much better. Sohn Ho Joon Made all the difference. And now it seems to enter the com of romcom.
I think this will be an easy stress free watch.

I too think Dae-oh is the end game. And Ryu Jin knows something regarding their breakup.

Dae-oh Is being mean and childish. I hope he is bawling for her attention a few episodes down the line. Sweet revenge :)

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Thanks for the recap, @selena! I hope this doesn't become 'guess the father' game. I agree that Song Ji-hyo seems to be overacting but this is a rom-com so maybe she's trying for the funny? Ae-jung was already pregnant before their production was shown (as seen at the end of the play when she got up to leave) so maybe that's why she left DO or he left her?

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>> But…who am I kidding? I’m already on Team Dae-oh (because Sohn Ho-joon), and everyone else is merely a distraction.

Ditto 😂

It is a bit early, but seems to be a light watch, a bit predictable/cliché plot, but so far I think the main cast will make this drama refreshing and enjoyable for me.

I do agree that some of SJH's early scenes were a bit over the top... hopefully, we're done with those.

I also loved how mature her daughter is, standing up to the bully in her new school.

The 3 other male leads... I am still waiting for more developments to see if someone can be a close competition to Dae-oh ...

Overall, I will be tuning in... (while waiting for season 2 of HP 🙃)

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Maybe in a surprise move, Ha-nee will pick her own "father" from the four. She has shown more common sense than her mother.

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"Dae-oh just cried, “If I die from running like this, tell Ae-jung that I died because she broke my heart.” He let out gut-wrenching sobs and wailed that he’s having a hard time" - I felt his pain. Ho-joon's acting is on point.

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Thanks for the recap!
I was rooting for ryu jin but I guess Dae-oh and Ae-Jung are endgame after all.
I think ryu jin was involved in the break-up, maybe he withheld the truth, he looked very guilty.

I definitely preferred ji-hyo's acting in this episode, it seemed a little more natural.

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For me personally, what can make or break a reverse harem are two things:
1) How much normal activities and daily lives we see ALL characters (including and ESPECIALLY the female character), individual or together, along with the romance, and
2) How independent the heroine's character is, with and without the boys.

My favourite harem animes and mangas have usually been them exploring daily lives or just trivial troubles together (or one man per episode), and we see the man fall for her. Or we see the heroine and harem on an adventure or solving problems that do not directly involve the romance, even though it will come up. And because I rarely watch reverse harems for the boys in it, I prefer the heroine to have a strong personality; not necessarily Strong Independant Woman, but she needs to have a personality outside of being saved by the harem. (my favourite harem heroine is actually one who struggled with anxiety, selfesteem and responsibility; the boys had to help her a lot, but she also developed and took charge at times)

For this show, I hope they will make sure that, romance or not, all the heroine's relationships with the men have a reason to exist and will show their strengths and development, and that at the end of the show, all characters will have grown from their relationship with each other and the heroine (I know people love bromance, but I hate when that comes in the way of the actual lead's story and development just because she isn't a bro).

Already do I feel like the heroine is a weak link, because she does not think properly about her actions and her entire career depends not on her skills, but that the men around her will gracefully save her. And no matter my thoughts on Dae-oh, if this show will basically be about Ae-jung and him rediscovering their lost relationship (and I already bet that 1) Dae-oh is the father and thus per K-drama morals will be endgame, and 2) Ae-jung misunderstood that scene from the past and Dae-oh did nothing wrong) from the get-go, I don't see the reason for a love square/reverse harem. Which would be too bad since the men seem like interesting characters that could definetely have interesting relationships with the heroine.

This show is so confusing for me, because I WANT to love it and support it, and I love a good reverse harem. But maybe because I have watched so many in my teens, I also have specific things I want from a love triangle/harem, so when I see a triangle there just for a triangle, it feels wasteful. So I will keep watching the show and probably keep complaining, but the complains are out of love... or something.

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Because you're taking about harem mangas, I had to ask what heroine with anxiety issues you were talking about. I think it's unlikely (I wonder if I'm the only person in the world who loves this so much) but it's it Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge?

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It was not her, but she is definetely up my list as a character who has a strongly built character, even if she herself is not necessarily what we consider strong.

The character I talked about was actually Haruka Nanami from Uta no Prince-sama, which is both "controversial" and a little personal for me, because she is technically not strongly built at all; not so much the first season, but the seasons later her character becomes pretty much just a background character, or the character that ties the story somewhat together, but she is hardly the lead character, and so the writers underutilize the character traits that we see, and so many feel she is an empty shoe, which at times I agree with.

However, maybe due to bias, maybe because UtaPri was one of the first reverse harems I watched where the focus was not on the endgame-loveinterest, but on the heroine and harem's development in the story, I have a soft spot for Haruka, and when I rewatched the series after the third season, I noted down what personality I could find. She has strengths in that she is kind to people, try to see the real person underneath the surface, and has an inate talent for music which she uses to communicate better with people. However, she is also indecisive and self-centered due to her anxiety, and will run away from difficult choices and make decisions that are easier for her own consciousness, even if it hurts others (which she will feel terrible about, and it becomes a spiral). And she works through this through the first and second season, even though she gets an anxiety attack at the end, but after that, she has basically stopped developing and is just there, which I feel is a shame.

And because the writers never fully utilized her after season one, or season two if I am being kind, many think she is just there, with no reason to exist and with no personality. So I get biased and defensive on her behalf, and I use her as an example of harem heroine who is not strong personally, but has a strongly built character (or the potential for one), with strengths and weaknesses that is developed, and with her own passions and actions that do not *depend* on the boys being gracefully there for her, and even when she is faced with working with a difficult partner ala Dae-oh, she impresses him with her musical skills and passion, not by looking pitiful so he will save her career.

I am sorry that I got into a rant here, it is just that reverse harems/love triangles are my guilty pleasure, and so I have a lot of opinions on them, especially the heroines because I have seen her fall too easily into the background in favour of the boys, so now that I have returned to a reverse harem my feelings have come back tenfold XD

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Haha, don't apologise, I'm really interested!
A problem I have with reverse harems, and harems in general actually, is how they build characters. The general conceit is that the harem will be full of big, colourful personalities but the actual protagonist they are all drawn to is surprisingly bland. That's because they tend to be an audience surrogate - the protagonist is bland because the audience needs to imagine it's them receiving so much unconditional love and attention. Doing this is ultimately a bad idea, I think, because that means that it's impossible to understand why such interesting characters are drawn to them. I think that's the case with Was It Love. They could be doing so much more with Ae-jung's character (she's an enduring single parent with ambitious dreams, after all) but at the moment she's going underutilised. My favourite anime is Yumeiro Patissiere, which I guess is technically a reverse harem. One of the best things about it is that the heroine Ichigo is such a lovable character, you can understand why people are just drawn to her. I want that here.

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Yeah, I agree, that is the biggest mistake reverse harems make, and personally I feel it is done more on reverse harems than the other kind. The idea that a character is an audience surrogate works better in video games, where it is slightly easier for me to accept that the character is bland, and those Reader-fanfics on Ao3. In actual shows, like you, I need an actual character to follow in the adventure. Most reverse harems that I remember badly are those where the heroine was bland and 90% of her lines were just "eh" "ano..." or repeats of what the guy previously said.

Yeah, I rewatched the second episode, and the scenes I liked most was when Ae-jung was being sassy or feisty, or just stood up for herself. I hope she will show more character (and smarts) later on, so that we do not have to depend on the boys' past with her in order to be interested in her in the present.

I have not actually seen Yumeiro Patissiere, so I know what I am going to watch in the near future! ^_^ I see that there are two anime adaptations, do you know which one it is you recommend?

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@pensola, that's exactly right! I want to see more if Ae-jung really fighting to stay afloat. Being submissive to people is also a skill, I know, but I really root for her when she is just blunt and to-the-point.
The situation with Yumeiro Patissiere is that there are two seasons - the first is 50 episodes, and focuses more on baking and romance, and the second is 13 I think and focuses more on romance. I don't recommend the second season, it didn't have a lot of the charm that made me adore the first. If you don't care about baking, I don't recommend this show at all, but if you do I think you'll have a good time! It just makes my heart soar.
You make me want to watch Uta no Prince-sama too! I love a decent heroine, and the reason I don't watch a lot of anime these days is that I really struggle to find them.

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@frabbycrabsis, thank you for the recommendation, I will definetely watch at least the first season (I love baking! ...in that I love watching people bake rather than doing it myself XD) . ^_^ Haha, it has been so long since I watched an anime that I get a bit giddy thinking about it.

I would love it if more people knew about Uta no Prince-sama, but just know that all I wrote about it comes from a lot of bias, due to it being an anime I liked when I was younger and I hadn't seen something like that yet (usually reverse harems has an obvious endgame man). It might not be as good as I remember it being, but give it a try, if I remember correctly, the three first episode will give a good indication of whether you will like the series and the heroine. She might leave a weird impression the first episode, because there is something she lacks that is almost unrealistic she doens't have, but the season actually achknowledges this and has her work on it.

I began babbling again, lol. Thanks for the anime recommendation, let us hope "Was It Love?" will manage to rise up and meet our hopes and wishes!

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Love this anime discussion!!!

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Hahaha, would you believe, @ayaan, that when I posted my first comment I thought I was talking to you? 😂

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Hahaha, I was confused too!

I've loved all the shows you both mentioned and they are one of the few reverse harem animes I've watched to the end!
I'm not sure if this drama can compare lol

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Sorry for bumping in on the conversation here ^^ I have watched some episodes of UmePat now after @frabbycrabsis recommended it, and I like it so far, brings so many memories, haha.

I don't think this drama will compare, no, for various reason. One because of what the series center on; UtaPri is on music, UmePat on dessert-making. This show is not sure whether it wants to be about making a movie, or a B-version og "Mamma Mia!" ((though now that I said it, a Korean drama of "Mamma Mia!" COULD work, maybe, possibly, and be hilarious! XD)).

There are other reasons, too, both in the sense that the show isn't that good and in the sense that they cannot compare because they do things completely different. But I do hope the show will be able to find its focus soon, when the band is together and make that darn movie, rather than depend on 'comedic' chaos and Ae-jung stress-screaming trying to make the movie happen, haha.

lol, I am talking as if I know my stuff, I am just talking about personal tastes here.

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I kind of want none of the guys to be HaNees father but they all love her and become a father figure for her and always in her life no matter who her mom chooses

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I'm with @pensola: "I feel like the heroine is a weak link, because she does not think properly about her actions and her entire career depends not on her skills, but that the men around her will gracefully save her." I find it interesting that everyone is looking forward to a relaxing drama. I find it incredibly stressful to have to keep on accepting that any woman could be such a disaster for the story to work. Who faints out into the path of an oncoming car? And she's so clueless at reading people - those vicious mothers at the school, the intentions of Pa-do. Who signs contracts thoughtlessly or even mistakenly, no matter how desperate you might be?

To be fair, she has lost confidence in the 14 years she has been a mother. I wonder, because all the men remember her as a different sort of woman, are they in love with an earlier version of her? Will she step up and rediscover herself?

Meanwhile I'm a complete sucker for the four male leads. Yeon-woo is so sweet and considerate, shepherding people away from her as she texts. Dae-oh is emotionally irresistible in all his pain and frustration. He still loves her. And Pa-do is deliciously, dangerously attractive. Ryu-Jin is the most mysterious so far (my money is on him as the father. He may be the source of all the misunderstandings, but we don't have much of his story yet.

I liked that she spoke up at the book event and turned the tables on Dae-oh - she shook him up. I want to see her more like that.

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That is an interesting point, that for some it is more stressfull to watch nonsensical drama than relaxing; a show needs to have a balance between what is breaking the immersion, and what makes sense. Now when you have said it, I can finally pinpoint why a drama I liked was difficult to watch a second time; because the drama expected me to just believe certain things that just didn't make sense on screen, and so even if there were scenes, characters and relationships I liked, the way to them was exhausing. In this case for me, the way Ae-jung is acting breaks my immersion, and my effort to glue it together makes the show less enjoyable.

What I feel makes it a bit worse, is that it is completely fine that she is bound by a contract to do these things, but how she gets there is another thing. I wish they had chosen another route than to have her herself sign the contract without reading it, that would still make her have to meet her ex and try to make him help her, but not where she herself becomes the stupid one.) Or show that she was trying to book a formal meeting with Ryu-jin, but saw the fan event and jumped at the chance since the manager at the phone was being difficult.

I hate to bring up Queen for Seven Days again, because I always bring that up, but that show managed, for me personally, to make a very silly and unrealistic situation feel possible because they balanced the unrealistic parts with more grounded parts, and the heroine there is NOT smart, but she IS sassy, compassionate and spontaneous, which leads to both hilarious situations and men who fall in love with her, but it always felt believable and I rarely felt like she was STUPID, she was just not cut out for the royal messy politics and backstabbing. So when she fell for a trap, my thought was "oh, no!", rather than "oh for goodness' sake, just THINK!". Again, that might be just me and my sugar-coated nostalgia glasses, but I wanted to bring it up... because. |D

I guess I just worry that we will be told to just believe that Ae-jung is a hardworking and talented producer who just needs the chance to show it, but all we see is her making beginner mistakes and being dependent on the men in her life to either agree to help her, or to lift the contract, or probably to help her daughter at school since I don't get the feeling that she is that attentive of a mother, either.

BUT, I hope it will be as you said, that the show will achknowledge that these are flaws of hers, and she will grow out of it and become more independent. Especially because the men in the harem ARE fascinating, and I love the different relations they have to her and their walks of life. I want to see what sorts of relationships she will have with them considering that (though that is also why I dislike how she is dependent on them; her relationship with delicious Bad Boy Pa-do is dampened knowing she owes him money, same with Dae-oh with the movie script).

Also, I love your theory that...

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Also, I love your theory that Ryu-jin is the father! I feel that would be an interesting idea, with Dae-oh being her ex, Ryu-jin as the biological father, Yeon-woo the one who supported her emotionally during the pregnancy, and Pa-do being the new guy and fellow single parent. It would be perfect!

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Sounds perfect. Now I am even more interested in watching it if that's how it pans out. Well plotted.

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The only explanation we have for her constant flustered state and her dilemmas is that she is naive. At this stage in her life, it's not enough, especially when it means she doesn't take the time to hear her daughter's side of the story. I liked that Dae-oh called out her grovelling. I'm looking forward to seeing her take more control of her life.
I haven't watched Queen for Seven Days. I'll check it out.

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Yeah try being sassy when you owe a loan shark. Plus I think they just want to show the vulnerable side of ae-jung. How she's willing to put aside her pride for her family.

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I enjoyed reading everybody suspicion. To me, Ruy Jin used Daeho room... She saw something she shouldnt have seen in that room and thought it was her boyfriend and decided not to tell him... If that is the case, it is her fault not telling Dea ho he is a father. I actullay dont agree with the fact that we didnt tell the dad.... He was going to be a father and she only disappeared

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Episode 3 is out on Netflix now, and I'm currently waiting for Episode 4.

At this point, I'm really, really, intrigued as to who No Ah Nee's father is.

I am really hoping that Oh Dae Oh isn't her dad, but I feel like the show is building up No Ah Jung and his love story.

Hoping to get the Ryu Jin-Ah Jung backstory soon though.

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I am getting a bit of a mama Mia vibe with the potential fathers.. I’ll just have to wait to ep 3 and 4 are recapped. I have a very strong suspicion but I’ll have to wait and see

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Am I the only one who’s annoyed by Ae Jong’s mom? She is trying to get people to accept Ae Jong through her connections. Why would you want pretentious acceptance? She is taking decisions that directly affect her ADULT daughter’s life, without even consulting her. Also, the show really needs to tone down Ae Jong! She is always screaming.

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Could someone tell me the song played in the beginning of the episode? Thanks in advance

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It's pretty obvious that dae-oh is the dad. And I think that ae-jung maybe sent him a letter to meet up if he wants the baby, but the letter didn't reach him/got intercepted so when she came he wasn't there. So she thought that he doesn't want the baby and she leaves. And he thinks that she dumped him without any reason. Pretty sure this is what happened. Still gonna watch to support Song Ji Hyo unnie, fighting! 💕

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