First Impressions: “To All The Guys Who Loved Me” Is More Than Your Basic Rom-Com
“To All the Guys Who Loved Me,” the latest romantic comedy offering from KBS, stars Hwang Jung Eum as Seo Hyun Joo, a woman who finds that all men are alike and thus gives up on love and marriage. After announcing that she’s going to stay unmarried for the rest of her life, Hwang Ji Woo (Yoon Hyun Min), a good-looking CEO of a pharmaceutical company starts popping up around her. His arrival also ignites the protectiveness — as well as other feelings — in Hyun Joo’s close (younger) male friend, Park Do Kyum (Seo Ji Hoon).
Here’s a closer look at what happened in the premiere episodes:
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Seo Hyun Joo is a webtoon producer who works at My Toon. She goes above and beyond at her job, cleaning up after the artists under her care, modelling reference photos for them, and even chasing them around when they are unable to upload their work before the deadlines. Basically, she’s a glorified babysitter. But her efforts pay off as her artists’ webtoons are all ranked top on their site, thus also making her the top producer at the agency.
While Hyun Joo is great at her job, her personal life has less outstanding results. She meets her first boyfriend in high school who is a complete mama’s boy. Naturally, he breaks up with her because his mom tells him to. Then continues a parade of not-great boyfriends, causing her to lose her belief in love. Then, in comes a guy who apparently changes her mind. He even proposes, and they throw an engagement party, but as it turns out, the engagement party is for her to get engaged to her forever partner… herself. Hyun Joo announces that she can think of many reasons against marriage rather than for marriage, and thus intends to stay single for the rest of her life. It’s an impassioned speech, and while it’s supposed to foreshadow how’s she’s not going to stay single for long, she still makes some great points. I especially love the message of how loving your own self is just as important.
Love her attitude!
That’s not to say that this anti-marriage resolve of hers is anything new. In fact, while she was still in primary school, she told her classmates that her dream was to stay unmarried. Now, here’s where the drama gets a little more interesting. 27 years in the past, little Hyun Joo accidentally falls into a lake and winds up in the hospital. After she wakes up, she has a craving for soju! Apparently, the accident causes her to gain memories of her past three lives. And in these past lives, she falls in love with the same man but also experiences heartbreak each time.
And this man is none other than… Hwang Ji Woo. (Or someone with the same face, at least).
Hwang Ji Woo is the CEO of pharmaceutical company Sunwoo. We don’t learn too much about his backstory in these premiere episodes. What we do learn is that he’s a CEO, he gets panic attacks in tight spaces, and… he’s somewhat of a stalker. Granted, the drama likely doesn’t intend for him to come off this way, but the way the drama colors his scenes does make things less romantic and more creepy.
Ji Woo initiates a plan for Hyun Joo to get fired from My Toon so he can bring her over to his company, has people follow and take surveillance photos of her, and even hijacks her blind date. If I knew my future partner did all this just so we would wind up together, I would honestly be more than a little freaked out. Sure, they’re “destined” to be together, and it appears as if he remembers her from their past lives, so in his mind he’s just trying to get her back, so… feel free to draw your own conclusions, I guess.
He literally has people update him on Hyun Joo’s actions.
And to round out our love triangle, we have Park Do Kyum, a top-rated webtoon artist.
He grew up alongside Hyun Joo and thus shares a close relationship with her. When he hears that the agency plans to fire Hyun Joo, he goes on a strike out of loyalty. And when Hyun Joo joins Sunwoo’s Webtoon Planning Team (yes, the pharmaceutical company now has a webtoon development division), she also brings Do Kyum over with her. They’re so tight together, Ji Woo can’t help but feel jealous of their close bond.
Thank you for saying what we’re thinking, Do Kyum!
In related news, if you’re wondering why the combination of Yoon Hyun Min and Seo Ji Hoon looks so familiar, here’s why: After 699 years, Moon Chae Won finally got tired of waiting for her woodcutter husband to be reincarnated, and so she ditched the two men for Lee Joon Gi. The two lads, feeling heartbroken, thus decide to get together instead. How’s that for a little AU fan fiction? (That’s a little “Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter” reference for anyone who’s feeling lost. And yes, Moon Chae Won is reuniting with Lee Joon Gi in “Flower of Evil,” premiering late July).
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
While at first I thought this was just your run-of-the-mill rom-com, I was pleasantly surprised when we learned of the past-lives angle fairly early on in the first episode. The drama suddenly became more intriguing, and the montage looked so beautiful and captivating, I couldn’t wait to see more of their past lives unfold. (Spoiler: We do see more!). It is curious, however, as to why the director chooses to hide Ji Woo’s face in the Joseon era timeline, when we already see his face in the previous montage, so we all know who it is already anyway.
Joseon-era Hyun Joo is so pretty!
Also, props to this beautiful transition:
This is when little Hyun Joo falls into the lake and wakes up with her past-life memories.
As for the comedy side, it does lean more towards juvenile humor, so that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s exaggerated facial expressions, slapstick, sight gags, and so on. Director In (In Gyo Jin) as a character is probably meant to be funny in an incompetent but pompous way, but he really just comes off as more “eww” than “haha”. However, if you can look past these little things then you’ll be in for what promises to be a hearty meal filled with romance and self-growth with a side of intrigue.
A handkerchief with a silk tree motif appears again and again in each era.
Watch the premiere of “To All the Guys Who Loved Me” here:
How did you find the premiere of “To All The Guys Who Loved Me”? Will you continue to tune in? Let us know in the comments below!
Currently watching: “Backstreet Rookie” starring Ji Chang Wook and Kim Yoo Jung, “I-LAND”
All-time favorite: “Kill Me Heal Me,” “Defendant,” “Hotel Del Luna”
Looking forward to: “Train” starring Yoon Shi Yoon