Thursday, January 28, 2016

Love for Maths and Kings in 'Splish Splash Love'

You know those moments at the end of a movie or drama where you can't help but grin all the way through the credits? It doesn't happen often, but this was what occurred to me after watching the two-episode drama Splish Splash Love. It may have to do with Kim Seul-gi, arguably one of the most adorable Korean actresses right now, and her equally cute chemistry with Yoon Doo-joon. It definitely wasn't the Pythagorean theorem Lee Do was so excited about.

Dan-bi (Kim Seul-gi) is a high school senior who, like many people her age, doesn't know what she's going to do with her life. Despite the college exams looming around the corner, she has a hard time digging into her studies, especially the dreaded maths. On a rainy morning of her exams, she runs away and wished she could just disappear. The heavens listened and, as she jumps into a puddle, she is transported to the Joseon period, around the time of the invention of hangul by Lee Do (Yoon Doo-joon), more famously known as King Sejong the Great. Previously thinking she was hopeless in math, she finds herself useful (and able to escape death) by solving a math problem using the Pythagorean theorem, basic math for a high schooler from the future but extremely difficult to scholars of the time. As Dan-bi, undercover as an eunuch, teaches Lee Do basic math like multiplications, Lee Do soon finds himself growing an attachment for the creature from the future.

When I started watching the show, I didn't know it was a public service announcement wrapped in the form of a romcom. I'm not really complaining actually. In fact, I think it's a great format for a PSA. A lot of high school (or college) students may feel like they're lost in the shuffle of everything around them, especially around exam time, so a story about a girl rediscovering her purpose in life can be uplifting to many (especially since the girl is the lovable Kim Seul-gi). Oddly enough, the original broadcast was December despite Korean college entrance exams held a month prior in November. But maybe this was done on purpose so the students who felt like they failed can feel new hope? Who knows.

(Side note: am I the only one who finds it weird that a government ministry (in this case the Ministry of Science) is funding a drama? They also funded the currently airing Jang Yeong-sil, who oddly enough is what Lee Do decided to name Dan-bi. FYI, Jang Yeong-sil is an actual person from history. I know, it gets confusing.)

But who cares about math* when the chemistry is great! Not the science of chemistry, but relational chemistry between Kim Seul-gi and Yoon Doo-joon. I already love Kim Seul-gi to bits but she is just so good in this. Again using her humorous nature to her advantage but also nailing it on the emotional front. I've never watched Yoon Doo-joon before (haven't watched either Let's Eat seasons), but now I might look into his past works since he was just as delightful as Kim Seul-gi who set a difficult standard to meet. It's actually quite amazing how much chemistry these two have considering how brief this drama is. They really elevated the story and made the two episodes very memorable.

Despite a few plot holes and complete rehash of Korean history, I found the story endearing. I think the two-episode limit did wonders to the pacing and the story since it was focused either on Lee Do's scientific endeavors or (mostly) the growing bonds between Dan-bi and the youngsters in Joseon. That was actually what I found charming about the story in that not only is this a love story between Lee Do and Dan-bi, but also Dan-bi's relationship with the queen, a bodyguard, and most importantly, herself. It's odd that this short drama can do much more than what several long mini series struggle to do.

One thing that I did appreciate for this drama is closure! It's the only thing I ask in an ending (most of the time) and I'm glad that we got the sweet ending that we did. Granted it was slightly implied closure and the true Lee Do and Dan-bi story ends in a rather bittersweet note, but I'll take what I get. Arguably it was slightly cliche of them to make Dan-bi meet Lee Do's future reincarnation but it did fill the potential gap in my heart. It all comes full circle and I love that. Granted, it was kind of weird how future Lee Do got as close as he did with stranger Dan-bi but I'm going to let go this time because the two genuinely looked like they haven't seen each other in half a millennium.

So if you have two hours-ish to spare, this is a drama I would highly recommend even if you're not a high schooler and going through a life crisis. It's definitely a must watch if you're a fan of Kim Seul-gi, Yoon Doo-joon, or both. But if you're a hard core history junkie, you may need to catch your breath a little, set aside the historical criticism, and just enjoy two young people falling in love and memorizing the times table together. The joys of being young and in love!

*Please do care about math, especially if you're still in school. Who knows, maybe you'll end up in Joseon Dynasty and help a Yoon Doo-joon look-alike king in his quest to front line science in an old kingdom. Just kidding. Stay in school!


  1. This show is adorable and I loved your review of it. :))))

    1. Thanks a lot Mary! I appreciate it a lot :D