Best Love (The Greatest Love) wraps up today with a giant bow, a farewell flourish, and a parting kiss to all the viewers who were swept up by the story of a top A-list movie star who fell in love with a D-list entertainer. Episode 16 made me happy – a warm, soothing feeling of sincere joy. I don’t think the ending manipulated my emotions, but rather deserved the soft tears of happiness that came naturally.
This feeling of contentment really brushes aside any desire I have to dissect the final plot points or even discuss how the ending could have been better. While not the best ending for a rom-com ever, nor does it push any boundaries, but it was ultimately so very satisfying. I don’t need to look hard for validation with the time spent with BL, it’s a drama that stands well enough on its own.
Episode 16 Recap:
Asked to pick between the two finalists Gu Ae Jung and Jeon Ji Hyun, Jin pauses for a second for dramatic effect, and then says “Gu Ae Jung!” The audience and the hosts all gasp in surprise. Jin confirms that Ae Jung is his ideal woman, but more than that, she is the woman he loves. In fact, they are in love with each other and dating already.
Ae Jung watches this declaration with tears of sadness and joy in her eyes, and finally it’s only a genuine happiness that remains. When asked if she’s Jin’s girlfriend by the patrons of the restaurant, Ae Jung nods her head and says yes, that man is my lover. Okay, this was pretty awesome. Jin – that was a homerun declaration.
Jenny remarks that Dokko Jin sure is cool today doing what he did. Pil Joo looks sad, but appears to accept this is the end of any possibility with Ae Jung. Se Ri smiles brightly and shoots at look at Pil Joo. Se Ri reminds me of Britney from the Chipettes. How can I dislike Britney? I hope she lands Pil Joo, maybe after 3 years of staying true to him and growing up a lot.
Jin asks the public to support them, and confirms Ae Jung had no idea he was going public, and is likely as shocked as everyone else. Ae Hwan and dad are watching the show as well. Dad wonders where Ae Jung is right now and is told that she’s filming at the potato restaurant.
Agent Moon and Jae Seok watch the program. She gives him a hard look and asks if he knew about this beforehand. Jae Seok lowers his head and apologizes. Agent Moon sighs that they are going into battle again, but begins to handle all the media and public scrutiny for Jin. Calls come in immediately and Agent Moon gives Jae Seok the boilerplate message: they started dating not long ago, please allow them to have a beautiful love.
Jin meets up with Ae Jung, wearing the giant red bow again. Ae Jung comes home and this time Jin gets to use the cheesy line “This is Dokko, your present!” So cute. He tells her to take responsibility for him because he’s gone public and can’t take anything back anymore, and then flashes the bling at her.
Ae Jung smiles at the ring and holds up her hand for Jin to slide the ring on her finger. Jin puts the ring on her finger and they tightly clasp hands. Ae Jung says that she is now officially clinging onto him. Jin tells her to never ask him to run away again. Ae Jung hugs him and says not only is she not running away, she’s never letting him go. She leans in and the two of them hug.
Ae Jung shows Jin the picture she took of a field of flowering potato plants she saw in the potato restaurant. Jin says their potato has to flower soon. Ae Jung says their potato has been through alot already, they have to be patient. They look at the ring – Ae Jung says it fits just right, Jin says it looks pretty.
The media explodes with this latest love gossip. Jin explains that his choice of Ae Jung over any of the top A-list actresses is what’s making everyone so curious. Jin wants to take a picture with Ae Jung and post it online for his fans. Sadly, his fans are already posting primarily negative comments about Ae Jung. Jin wants to respond but Ae Jung asks him to be patient.
Agent Moon informs Jin that his current situation is pretty dire. He’s lost 17 CFs already and the only movie role offered is for a script Jin doesn’t want. She mentions how no one will take her calls anymore.
Ae Jung sits around the table at home with her family and Jenny, who admires Ae Jung’s stunning engagement ring. Ae Jung asks her family to be happy for her at least, and they all congratulate her. Her dad nevertheless reminds her that it’s going to be a hard road ahead. Ae Jung understands but says that she is really happy. Ding Dong says happy in the cute way that Jin likes to do it, making everyone laugh.
Pil Joo prepares to leave for China and Se Ri tries to use a China CF project to continue stalking him, but he’s still not reciprocating. Se Ri tells Pil Joo that Ae Jung and Jin are getting married soon.
Ae Jung’s popularity has gone up since people are fascinated by her more. A PD tells Ae Hwan that his show has doubled its ratings when Ae Jung was on.
Jin and Ae Jung discuss their reversal in public interest, his has declined while hers as gone up in some sort of morbid fascination. Jin says that Ae Jung needs to be the breadwinner in the family from now on. He whips out a piece of paper and asks her to sign, reminding her that he signed her paper when they first met. Turns out it’s a marriage registration certificate, which Jin has completed already and signed his portion.
Ae Jung smiles and plays coy. Jin reminds her that they have so much to deal with, he wants to marry her first and then handle the other stuff. It wouldn’t be Jin if he didn’t remind her jokingly that it’s an honor to be married to him. He holds Ae Jung’s hand and guides it to sign, congratulating her on becoming Mrs. Dokko Jin.
The public is stunned to know that they are registering the marriage, having assumed they’d just date and eventually break up. People just can’t understand why he’d pick her. Agent Moon asks why he keeps breaking more relationship news? Jin says the more news he breaks, the more the slings and arrows are directed at him.
Agent Moon gets sad that her darling Jin is disliked by even elementary school students these days. She has to break even more bad news to Jin. His Cannes movie role went to Kim Joon Sang (i.e. Kim Nam Gil), and he’s no longer the face of Vitamin Water. Which also went to Kim Joon Sang. ROFL. Oh MBC, you’re just dying for Bidam to get out of the army, aren’t you?
Jenny and Ae Hwan read more negative postings online about Ae Jung and Jin, leading Jenny to consider going to the authorities. Manager Jang, after meeting with the producers of Couple Making, happen to overheard Jae Seok and Jenny discussing a video between Jin and Ae Jung. He leaks the news and makes it sound like it’s a sex tape.
Ae Jung and Jin go to the movies, where they are immediately surrounded by throngs of people taking their pictures and shooting video. Ae Jung thinks they should leave, but Jin stands his ground and hugs Ae Jung and smiles. Later when they are sitting on a bench, they overhear some women loudly discussing that Jin and Ae Jung should stay home instead of coming out to be ridiculed.
Jin gets upset and almost wants to go talk with them, but Ae Jung restrains him and offers to block his ears from the hurtful comments. She asks if he wants her to sing the song for him? She’s never done it for him live before. He smiles and says yes, so Ae Jung leans in and softly sings the song for Jin, coupled with a montage of the journey of their relationship from strangers to lovers. What a lovely moment for them.
Jae Seok informs Agent Moon of the video rumors concerning Jin, letting her know that the video in question is recorded on the CD given to Agent Moon prior to Jin’s surgery. Agent Moon’s eyes light up as she gets an idea.
The public starts manufacturing parodies of what the contents of the video are. Jenny has to break the bad news to Ae Jung that the two most discussed possibilities involved cosplay between Jin and Ae Jung. One where she is Sailor Moon, and another where she is a dominatrix. These fantasy sequences are much too disturbing to even consider, Jin’s ridiculous expressions withstanding.
Ae Jung goes to Jin’s house and finds him sulking because something is about to be revealed that he wanted to be kept secret. Ae Jung tries to cheer him up, giving him a hug to recharge and sitting on his lap to snuggle with him. Turns out Jin is sulking because MBS just re-aired the Couple Making show with Ae Jung and Pil Joo. Ae Jung laughs at his jealously.
Jin saw Ae Jung put on a helmut and do a sexy dance for Pil Joo on the show, and asks her to do it. She says she won’t, and she doesn’t wear helmuts anymore. He asks what about the helmut she signed? He whips out a cap that Ae Jung signed for fan ID DK1974, who was Ae Jung’s #1 fan when she was on Couple Making. Oh Jin, you darling man-boy-robot.
He confesses that he voted for her and got this cap as a prize. He further confesses that he liked her since way back then. They adorably hug, and my heart melted yet again. She promises to wear the cap to go to scenic picnic with him. Jin asks if she ever felt anything for that “anyone” Oriental doctor. He promises not to get upset, so she says “a little……” and Jin starts to restrain himself. Finally he just kisses her on the top of her head.
Ae Jung gets into a car accident on her way to record a show and has minor injuries. Jin hurries to the hospital and finds out Ae Jung is fine, just banged up. He hugs her and tells her that he was so worried he thought his heart would burst. Jenny keeps watch over Ae Jung at the hospital. While browsing online she reads some exceedingly extreme posts. Jin sees it and is furious.
Jin finally gets fed up with the vitriol posted online about Ae Jung and wants to sue the netizens. Jae Seok goes to the cops to deliver a formal complaint. People are brought in for questioning. Agent Moon asks Jin to drop the lawsuit since the people responsible are just housewives and kids and all feel apologetic for their poor behavior. Ae Jung tells him to drop the lawsuit as well, to preserve his nice Jin image. But Jin wants to become the Jin of justice.
Jae Seok arrives and says there is a bigger problem now. The video is leaked online, and it turns out to be a final farewell from Jin. He narrates the video as if he’s died during surgery and didn’t make it, so this video is being played in case the worst happened. He reveals he loves Ae Jung, who has been unfairly reviled and misunderstood. Ae Jung made him a better person, so he asks his fans to love her and take care of her now that he’s gone. The public reception to this video is positive.
Jin comes in to find Ae Jung crying as she finishes watching the video. He tells her that the video was left just in case the worst happened. Since he didn’t die, he doesn’t want her to watch it. She says its proof of how much he loves her. He teases that she should feel honored. They hug each other, Ae Jung smiling and crying at the same time.
Agent Moon is told that the video has been viewed over 100 million times. Agent Moon doesn’t appear surprised, and Jae Seok confirms that Agent Moon is the best image-maker in the industry as she’s pouring gasoline on the fire.
Ae Jung goes dress shopping with Mina, Jenny, and Se Ri as her bridesmaids. Se Ri says that by being Ae Jung’s bridesmaid, it’s saving Ae Jung less negative netizen publicity. Se Ri complains about her bridesmaid dress looking like what they wore as Treasure Girls. Jenny suggests they meet regularly like this.
Se Ri reluctantly agrees, but only if they all acknowledge she is a top star now. But if they concede she was the best of the group, she’ll consider forming another group with them. Mina takes out the clover bread she brought and the four Treasure Girls split it four-ways and each eats a piece. Mina wishes everyone has a piece of happiness they can share.
Pil Joo meets with Ae Jung, noting that she’s not hurt anymore (physically her ankle and metaphorically her heart). She bids a final farewell to Pil Joo as he leaves for China, not to get away, but because he wants to go study there. He thanks her for the trip to the strange land, and one day his feelings will completely go away. He asks Ae Jung to press down on his wrist one final time.
Jin and Ae Jung sit in a bridal shop wearing their wedding attire. The media reports that they are getting married and everyone is curious about Ae Jung’s wedding dress. Jin and Ae Jung make “happy” faces at each other. They then watch all the online videos sent by fans all over the world congratulating Jin and Ae Jung’s marriage.
Time jump! Jin is at a cell phone photoshoot very similar to the one he did with Se Ri, but this time the woman model on his arms is someone else. After the shoot, Jae Seok compliments him on doing well. Jin turns down dinner because he has an important engagement to attend to. We see Jin buying diapers and formula at the supermarket, with everyone gawking at him.
Ae Jung gets a call and leaves for work early. She walks downstairs and sees Jin sleeping on the sofe, with their baby cradled in his arms. OMG baby is soooooo cute. She covers them both up and kisses Jin before she heads out.
Jae Seok is promoted at work. Jenny wants Ae Hwan and Jae Seok to keep fighting over her, but they are more rivals at work now. People keep wanting to introduce daughters to Pil Joo. Se Ri runs into him on a hiking trail. She still likes him, and he smiles back at her in the end when she suggests they go eat ramyun.
Ding Dong is trying to teach the baby but is told a ten month baby can’t learn anything yet. Jin and Ae Jung tease each other about yet another news report about them, so they need to do another public outing like a picnic to squash whatever new rumors are out there.
Ae Jung suggests that celebrity couples with lots of children get good publicity. Jin replies they should get started on that right away. Jin and Ae Jung hug and say “recharge” to each other. They turn to look at the camera (us) and waves.
Thoughts of Mine:
Of all the K-dramas I have recapped, Best Love is hands down the most consistent in quality from beginning to end. It doesn’t start off slow and takes a while to find its footing, not does it have a whiz-bang start only to putter to a wheezy ending. It’s solidly good, better in certain sections than others, but nevertheless a very cohesive drama that delivered exactly what it promised. It was a love story set in the entertainment world that felt fresh and funny, meaningful and touching.
I had high expectations for BL because of the scriptwriters and two of my favorite actors (Cha Seung Won and Gong Hyo Jin) starring in the same drama together. When I look through my list of favorite actors, one thing that jumps out is that not every coupling works. For example, the thought of Kim Sun Ah with Jang Geun Seok as an OTP gives me the lulzy shakes. Er, no.
When I first heard of Cha Seung Won and Gong Hyo Jin being cast in BL, it was a pairing that immediately made me scream out loud and pump my fists in the air. Of all the May dramas, this was the onscreen coupling I would bet money would be the best in terms of acting compatibility and chemistry. In the end, it didn’t quite reach my expectations.
If I haven’t seen pretty much all of their dramas, I might have found their chemistry very good. Except having seen Gong Hyo Jin and Cha Seung Won creating all-time unforgettable OTPs with other actors, their chemistry in BL is clearly just not all there. In addition, their acting styles don’t mesh seamlessly with each other. Cha Seung Won’s technical prowess is sometimes jarring against Gong Hyo Jin’s effortless low-key delivery. Sometimes it was like they were being directed completely differently in the same scene.
I stand by my perception Gong Hyo Jin simply had much more natural chemistry with Yoon Kye Sang. No, their characters never made me believe they would or should end up together. But the two actors really sparked with each other in the scenes they shared. Of the four leads, Yoo In Na had the least screen presence and her character the least development. But as a Hong Sisters second female lead she was surprisingly less whiny and annoying than usual. I liked her in the end, but it’s nothing to write home about.
The BL love story had so much potential, and for the most part the Hong Sisters did touch upon a lot of the issues they raised, and dealt with it satisfactorily. I did think the whole heart surgery life-and-death cliffhanger at the end of episode 14 was resolved with a whimper never to be mentioned again. But at least the last episode discussed a bit of what it would be like for a top-star to marry a bottom dwelling celebrity.
While I genuinely enjoyed BL very much, ultimately it’s not a drama I’m going to have a hard time letting go. It’s like that very solid book you read that fills you up just right. I’ll definitely recommend BL easily to anyone looking for a good mature rom-com. But I personally don’t have any urge to go back and re-watch it. However, I think BL may end up being the Hong Sisters drama that holds up best with time.
Some months ago I burned myself by re-watching what was formerly my favorite Hong Sisters drama, My Girl, and ended up thoroughly annoyed with it. I wish I hadn’t ever re-watched it, and always kept the wonderful memory of marathoning that sucker in two days flat and falling madly in love with Lee Da Hae’s Yoo Rin. Re-watches tend to highlight weaknesses in any drama that were glossed over by excitement and newness. I don’t want to dim my memories of how much I enjoyed BL.
With BL ending, it becomes the first of the vaulted May 2011 dramas to close its curtains on its run. BL will likely be the highest rated of all the May dramas, and I have to say that its ratings was well-deserved. As for my beloved Cha Seung Won and Gong Hyo Jin, while this is nowhere near my favorite performances or roles from either of them, they were perfectly cast and brought Ae Jung and Jin to life in ways I find hard pressed to imagine anyone else playing them.
While watching BL my interest level rose and dipped from episode to episode, plot development to plot development. In the end, I found BL was just so well constructed that it was a treat just to watch rom-com built so expertly with precision and care. While BL didn’t hit a visceral nerve in my heart (very few dramas do, actually), it nevertheless entertained me from start to finish.