First Impressions on Thousand Day Promise with Su Ae and Kim Rae Won

Thousand Day Promise with Kim Rae Won and Su Ae is exactly like advertised. When the lead actress has gigantic tear-filled eyes within three minutes of the drama starting, you know the melodrama touted as a potential weepfest is going to deliver exactly that. To say that TDP and I are not mixing well is an understatement. Watching episode 1 was an odd experience for me, alternating between shaking my head at the histrionics and all that making out, and then nodding off at how plodding it all was.

On the upside, the cast is stellar across-the-board. Everyone looks fabulous, perfectly in-character, and have chemistry by the boatloads both in terms of the romantic and the familial elements. I can’t even consider whether I found TDP good or bad, just that it was so overwrought it scared me. A lot. I’m out unless and until I hear this drama took a turn for the brilliant somewhere down the line. The ratings for episode 1 was 12.8% AGB, trailing Gye Baek only by a tiny bit. K-audiences sure love their melodramas, and TDP is off to a promising start.

The drama starts off with a couple parked at the banks of a river, already so dramatic to foreshadow how they appear to be hiding from the world. The man is Park Ji Hyung (Kim Rae Won) and the woman is Lee Seo Yeon (Su Ae). They appear to be mature and adult couple who are involved with each other, but their relationship feels very volatile and intense. Sure enough, Ji Hyung drops the bombshell that he has no choice but to marry a woman his family selected for him.

What follows is a series of tawdry encounters, both present and flashbacks, that show the relationship between Ji Hyung and Seo Yeon. It’s pretty much sex, sex, all the time sex, as these two constantly make out and tear each other’s clothes off. For episode 1, they are already in bed on multiple occasions, in between having fights with each other and giving each other sexy, loving, and woeful looks. I understand the drama is throwing us into Ji Hyung and Seo Yeon’s relationship mid-way, so we don’t really see them falling in love, and instead see them dealing with their illicit affair in the face of an outside threat.

Kim Rae Won is a tad too gaunt with his recent weight loss, but his performance so far is very broody and intense. Too bad I just don’t connect with his Ji Hyung. Su Ae is gorgeous and lovely as Seo Yeon, but I find her character also really hard to relate to. She seems quite brittle and shrewish at times. I think what makes me so disconnected from this drama is that I don’t feel the love between the OTP, other than a seemingly constant sexual desire they have for each other. Without the love to ground this story, Ji Hyung having to marry another woman and the subsequent memory loss for Seo Yeon, which we already see the warning signs off, doesn’t make me sad for the couple.

In some ways, this drama feels a lot like Bad Love, which was one of the few makjang trendy dramas in recent years, and the only one I actually sat through the entire thing. Though the script for BL was beyond stupid and annoying, whereas TDP actually comes across as intense but mature, both dramas really emphasize the conflict by setting up dramatic roadblocks, but not letting the characters connect with the audience in down-to-earth ways. TDP and BL are too makjang for me because it feels like non-stop with the overwrought elements, as opposing to building in lighter moments to flesh out the characters more.

With a jaw dropping line up of heavyweight actors such as Lee Mi Sook, Park Young Kyu (most recently the Chairman in Protect the Boss), and Kim Hae Sook playing the parental units, TDP will be grounded in great acting all around. Park Yoo Hwan, Mickey Yoochun’s little brother, is delightful in his turn as Seo Yeon’s younger brother. I’m not sold on the two second leads, Lee Sang Woo as Seo Yeon’s cousin and Ji Hyung’s good friend, and Jung Yumi as Ji Hyung’s fiancée Hyang Ki. Neither are making much of an impression so far, and likely exist purely to drive plot for the two leads star-crossed love story.

I wasn’t impressed with both the directing or the OST, the former decent but not enthralling enough to overcome the mawkish tone of the script, and the latter just piling on the maudlin music to hammer home the point that this story is supposed to be so intense and complicated. I can’t say TDP sucks, I can only say I really didn’t enjoy watching the first episode. I’ll leave it at that.

As for being touted as a melodrama and actually being exactly what it was advertised as, for once I’m thankful because no one is going to be crying foul with any bait-and-switch. While the first teaser made it seem very mellow and sad, all the subsequent previews ramped up the yelling and the making out, which clued me in that this drama is really much more dramatic than what I prefer even more my melodrama guilty pleasures.

TDP has turned out to be a disappointment for me, only in terms of it not being to my tastes, and I was really looking forward to the return of Kim Rae Won paired with Su Ae. They definitely have sizzling chemistry, but their characters individually and together really don’t float my boat. So the chemistry remains physical but I don’t sense the emotional connection that we’re supposed to buy in episode 1 already, which plops us smack in the middle of their long-time relationship without really laying the foundation for it.

There is this throwaway bit in episode 1 about how Ji Hyung and Seo Yeon first meet as teenagers, which posits that theirs is a very long-developing love story starting from when they were young until now when they are adults and in the throes of passionate and fiery love. But the writing doesn’t really create that connection with the audience, instead using scenes such as their first meeting and all their making out and dysfunctional arguing to insist that the OTP are meant to be. If the love story was set up better from the get go, all this melodrama will seem more meaningful to watch.

Perhaps I ought to be patient and give this drama a few episodes to show hand, at which point it might gell better. That’s actually what I did with Tree with Deep Roots, which had a very bipolar first episode but has since settled right in very nicely. But even as I found episode 1 of TwDR somewhat all over the place, I still enjoyed watching it. I didn’t find anything enjoyable about episode 1 of TDP, and for that subjective reason, this drama and I aren’t meant to be. I took tons of screencaps so have some pretty for the road.

See, I’m not exaggerating about all the sex, crying, and Kim Rae Won channeling the world’s most sexually intense depressed guy. But Su Ae is so luminous I suppose one can make a point of watching this drama on mute just to stare at her. I really wished I could have liked TDP, but sadly it’s going to have to pass me by,

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First Impressions on Thousand Day Promise with Su Ae and Kim Rae Won — 24 Comments

  1. I may be the only one but I didn’t sense any chemistry between KRW and SA at all. I mean ZERO. Both seemed like robots just mouthing their lines. I think I’ll pass on this one too unless something amazing happens. (like both actors get struck by lightening)

  2. hmmm the trailer did looked promising Captain, anyway i will ask my sisters if they are still keen on watching it.

    on the otherhand, i wish it was hwanhye doing this series. just first episode would have been enough for our tv screens to be on fire! 🙂

    • I have to agree too ^^ wish we had the boatings for HwanHye, that would certainly made us all squeals~

      I am kinda looking forward to Kim Rae Won’s work but reading this, this seems not my cup of tea too….I will check out ep 1 later.

      I prefer KRW in my bride is 16 where he has this quirky romantic comedy character

  3. I love KRW and was so looking forward to seeing him again…..but to tell you the truth….I love him in sappy romantic comedies, where he makes me laugh and cry….not into the whole crying through a drama thing…..what is it with these guys who come out of their Army service and enter into sexy, can’t wait to go to bed drama scenes…..I remember watching the first episode to “I need romance” with my other boy fresh out of the Army, John Hoon, wow, my jaw just dropped…off he was tearing clothes off and jumping into bed in the first few seconds of the drama….makes you wonder??????

  4. Just comparing TDP even superficially to the horrific Bad Love is enough to make me run for the exit! I’m not sure that I have words to express my hatred for that drama. I hate it with the Power of a Thousand Suns!…only more. A lot more. 🙂

  5. haven’t seen this yet but… hmmm… like what you said, sex is all over the place. i mean, how can a drama that seems to drive at the love of this two don’t allow us to connect with that love. even the screencaps alone speaks for itself and if it goes the route of makjangish to the max, i don’t think i will go on board with it even with how good the writer is… i’ll be looking out for your recaps and later try at least two episodes.

    thanks for this post sis.

  6. I actually liked the first episode…it gets straight to the gut of things instead of putting in a lot of filler stuff and making us wait for things to build up and then explode…This is sort of like a setup episode so I cant wait to get to the actual meat of the story with amnesia and stuff and I think it will only get better…..I maybe wrong since I watched this thing raw….also the acting is phenomenal from everyone…….Also I have a really soft spot for Kim Soo Hyun after last year’s Life is Beautiful so I have some hopes for this drama and I do feel it wont get to be as bad as Bad Love (well let’s hope)…..makjang wasn’t the label that struck me while watching the drama…more like melodrama..lots and lots of….i don’t think that has to be a bad thing, at least not for me..eitherways I’m in the mood for a melodrama and I’m keeping my fingers crossed

  7. I don’t mind the sex scenes. It’s actually more realistic than many of other dramas around.
    I just wish it could have spend a bit more time to the actual development of their love instead of the repeatative fighting scenes or sex scenes. Just a couple of both would be okay…
    I am defenately not dropping, at least not yet. I never get excited in the first episode anyway.

  8. Thanks for the screen caps, make me decide to gve this a miss, lol agree too melo for me and 1. definitely don’t like what i saw so far, Su Ae & KRW just aint it for me
    2. if I do watch this, will be to see Lee Sang Woo

  9. I agree with those who say that KRW and SA have no chemistry. Separately, they are good but together, nah…. nada… i feel nothing.

    And maybe it’s just me, but KRW doesn’t seem to fit dramas that are too melodramatic. There are some actors who exude an aura of sadness/melancholy that they make acting in melodramas so effortless, sadly KRW is not one of them imo. His sad emoting just feels too contrived, like he’s exerting too much effort to look sad. I get tired just watching him emote.

    Soo Ae, otoh, is luminous!

    I do agree that the drama is too melodramatic, but I think I will watch another episode before I make the decision to drop it or settle for the long haul.

    Thank you for sharing your first impressions.

  10. I just skimmed through Ep 1. Here’s my summary.

    Yell yell yell.
    Sex.
    Tears
    Yell.

    I love Su Ae, and was eager to find out what the fuss over KRW was about, but I’m thinking this is not the place to go looking for it. 🙁

  11. I watched this raw and liked what I saw. I think it’s fairly obvious that the writer jumped into the relationship to show the ticking time bomb of their situation – his enforced marriage, her encroaching Alzheimer’s, their sexual need for each other. Episode 1 laid down the plot points effectively. I’d imagine that now the many “flashbacks” of their relationship/love history will be played out against the fabric of her memory loss and his despair of seeing her mind go, and erasing him with it.
    Personally, I feel that SuAe is one of the most nuanced actresses around – her face and eyes are unbelievably expressive. I’ve never seen her in a scene where I couldn’t figure out what her character was feeling. As far as KRW is concerned, boy needs to get back his pre-military acting chops (and eat a few sandwiches) – he seems a bit uncomfortable.
    I’m interested in seeing how the plot advances in ep 2, and who’s going to be doing the Eng. subbing.

  12. To Bad , this is still on my watch list, im looking forward for the story..its really painfull when i see soo ae cry at the toilet..
    and today episode underwater kiss, soo ae take 12hours to finished this scene, so let see….<3

  13. Right nw i think all 3 TW- Dramas are better dan any K-drama…They keep me busy the whole week…I think am gonna give this one a miss…maybe just gonna go with recaps, dont think i ll watch this.

  14. I think the 1st episode is good enough.. first start and I already taking side and feel emotion of the character.. i can feel Su Ae frustation coming from a poor family background and how she’s got nothing but her pride and thats why she’s not sure how to fight her love without being embarrase maybe by his BF family (Kim Rae Won). I just feel its very tragic that KRW doesnt have her phone number and he just remember her phone number in his memory and he erase all her text messages and all her call log like she’s never exist in his life, but then she will be the one who will actually get erased from her memory like he never exist in her life, so tragic..

  15. i do agree that TDP is a bit melodramatic, but everything seems realistic to me. just because most of the dramas out there do not market sex and kisses, does not mean this drama cannot. in fact, i found the acting SUPERB. i am a sucker for melodramatic stuff, so of course i loved the first episode. i think everyone should at least give this drama 2 chances (episode 1 and episode 2). it is a bit disappointing to see people rate a drama without even watching them initially. btw, just because someone makes a comparison to a bad drama does not mean this drama is going to be horrible. anyhow, thanks for the review.

    • I have to agree. I watched EP 2 and it was much better. I still sense ZERO chemistry between KRW and SA but the story is interesting enough so I’ll probably watch this. (yep, ep 2 changed my mind) Alzheimers at such a young age – heartbreaking.
      I have to say I will never understand the whole arranged marriage thing. I keep thinking Ji Hyung should just say no way and be done with it. Why on earth would parents sacrifice their children that way? I don’t get it. But that’s just me.

    • It isn’t realistic at least. If she got Alzheimers that early no one would have diagnosted it that early. It is such a rare disease at this age that all doctors would think about all other possibilities first. It could take years to being diagnosed right. Precious time lost for slowing down this illness. Yes, there are working meds who slow down the process a lot. So much for reality.

      I like the acting of the actors but the hero is a total ninny. I do not like men who take the easy route just because to satisfy the people around you. Poor heroine. You got something terrible and your lover can’t be at your side because he has no backbone.

      • Just an honest question, would you still love and sleep with some guy if you know he’s already engaged? It’s her stupidity so now she has to suffer.

        Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right thing to do, can you guarantee that your happiness will last forever and you would sacrifice many other’s happiness? In this case, Jihyung and Seoyeon is it love or lust? and back in the old days, people don’t need love to get marry but they develop the love after the marriage and it lasts. I’m sure Hyang-Gi will be a perfect wife for him.

        Isn’t reponsiblities outweight the love? Like his mother say, love isn’t forever and especially for a man, I just don’t believe it exists. But this drama about pure love of a man. And I don’t know how it’s gonna be, I guess I have to continue watching to see how it’ll turn out.

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