KDRAMALOVE KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS

I Miss You aka Missing You
보고싶다

MBC
(2012 - 2013) 21 Episodes, Grade: B
Melodrama / Crime / Mystery / Thriller / Romance



Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you love weepy, twisted melodramas with profoundly wounded characters who are in personal distress nearly 100% of the time, you have now found your new favorite Korean drama of all time! ;)

I Miss You (aka Missing You) is an often harrowing tale of three people who were horribly scarred in childhood and how they cope with the difficult ramifications upon their lives after almost all the adults in their lives, who were supposed to protect and nurture them to become complete, happy human beings, fail them miserably. The first four and a half episodes deal with the children's stories, so you will have plenty of time to bond with them and feel compassion for them. I must also give a disclaimer that I truly believe this show is not for anyone seventeen years old or younger since it depicts the horrible rape of an innocent fifteen year old girl by a crazed drug addict and criminal who has kidnapped her. Since web portals which carry this show have no disclaimers about it, I feel obligated to warn you ahead of time. Many adults at the time this show
originally aired called station MBC in a rage and protested that they were watching this show with their children and were horrified to see these scenes together. Therefore this show is not for children, even though the first episodes feature children. I had tried to watch this drama almost two years before I completed it and had to stop on episode two because the tale was so dark and depressing. Recently I decided to finally bite the bullet and finish it because I loved the acting abilities of all the main leads in other shows, and some of the secondary character actors as well.

The story begins in 1997 with a reclusive fifteen year old teenage girl, living in a one room slum apartment, named
Lee Soo-yeon (Kim So-hyun from The Suspicious Housekeeper and The Moon Embracing the Sun). She is coming home from school and the moment she timidly walks through the door her brutal father starts beating her until she is unconscious on the floor. Her terrified mother Kim Myung-hee (Song Ok-sook from Beethoven Virus) watches through the window and then runs to call the police. Soon a policeman arrives and arrests him and accuses him of murdering a man, although he protests loudly that he had nothing to do with that murder. Lee Soo-yeon's "father" is found guilty of murder on the strength of incomplete evidence (that we later learn was incorrect information as well) and he receives the death penalty and is executed promptly. However, that does not end the misery for poor Soo-hyun and her mother. The both of them are vilified in their small community and Soo-hyun is ostracized and bullied at school and called a murderer's daughter. It's only many years later that Soo-hyun as an adult learns the truth that her father was executed for a murder he didn't commit (although he was still a low life for abusing his wife and child).



In many emotional, bittersweet scenes that bring the audience sighs of temporary relief, Soo-hyun finally finds one friend, a young man named Han Jung-woo (Yeo Jin-goo from The Moon Embracing the Sun who was her co-star in that drama) who sticks up for her amongst all the bullying going on in the school against Soo-hyun. Then the bullies target them both! The only times they are happy are when they are at the playground together or walking in the rain together under a yellow umbrella and chatting away or snacking together on ice cream. Jung-woo even gives her her first tender kiss under a lamp-post at night. Soo-hyun begins writing in a diary about her new best friend Jung-woo, a diary which later falls into the hands of Jung-woo after he has been told that Soo-hyun was murdered and her body thrown over a bridge into the water to drown. The poignancy of those later scenes, when he reads the diary and understands how excited she was to finally make a friend after a lifetime of sadness and abuse, would make anyone cry.



After her brutal husband's execution, unable to even feed herself and her daughter, Soo-hyun's mother Myung-hee, fed up with their dire living conditions, parks herself and her daughter on the doorstep of the kindly cop who had arrested her late husband, Kim Sung-ho (Jun Kwang-ryul), who had offered them refuge if they needed it (mostly because he knows the executed man was not guilty but he kept this knowledge secret to hide his own guilt of not revealing false evidence in the case). He becomes a surrogate father for Soo-hyun and she also begins to make friends with the cop's young daughter Eun-joo (Yoo Yeon-mi). Eun-joo develops a crush on Jung-woo but backs off on her flirtations when Soo-hyun admits to her that she is truly in love with him.



Soo-hyun, "Father" Kim Sung-ho, and Eun-joo are happy together for a short time

For awhile the new family is very happy, but it's not to last. Jung-woo's creepy father, Han Tae-joon (veteran actor Han Jin-hee), ostensibly a bank owner but in reality driven by greed to the point of criminality, ignores him constantly and puts him under the care of a step-mother in name only, Ah-reum (Do Ji-won), while he and his various henchmen do their secret dirty work to increase their power in the community. Han Tae-joon desires to obtain a fortune that has gone missing after his own father's recent death. He is convinced that his aged father had left the fortune to his mistress
Kang Hyun-joo (Cha Hwa-yeon from It's Okay, That's Love) and he has her committed to a mental institution in an attempt to force the information out of her about where the money went. The evil Han Tae-joon not only wants the money but he wants his father's kept woman's young son, named Kang Hyung-joon (played as a child by Ahn Do-gyu) as well so he can ultimately get rid of him so that he can't become the heir to the money. Han Tae-joon almost captures young Hyung-joon but the boy is too clever for him and runs away, but not before one of his guard dogs bites him on a lower leg. The scars from the injury will have lifelong consequences for him, for the leg becomes infected and he is never able to walk normally again.

His mother has a trusted nurse friend named Jung Hye-mi (Kim Sun-kyung) who keeps little Hyung-joon in a small apartment in the slum area of the town under lock and key, saying it's for his own protection. Hye-mi carries around a heavy suitcase loaded with hundreds of thousands of won currency, and the big plan is to get the kid's mother out of the lunatic asylum and for all three of them to leave the country together. However, before that can happen Han Tae-joon removes Hyun-joo from the institution with the intent to kill her unless she finally confesses where she is hiding the money. She shouts that she will follow him from hell if need be, but that he will never get her son or the money.

Meanwhile, Soo-hyun, having walked by the apartment many times where little Hyung-joon is kept under lock and key, unable to move, becomes concerned for him. Only one abused child can truly understand another abused child. One day as she and Jung-woo walk by the apartment they notice smoke pouring from the room. "Kid, are you okay?" shouts Soo-hyun and Jung-woo takes a rock and hits the lock multiple times until it breaks. They rescue him and bring him to a clinic, but the doctor takes one look at Hyung-joon's infected leg and states he needs to be in the hospital. Before he can be transferred, however, the nurse who has the money sneaks into the clinic and grabs little Hyung-joon and spirits him away. Soon they both hear rumors that Hyung-joon's mother has died, and Hyung-joon is griefstricken. He has no one else to trust now except for the nurse. Will she end up an honorable person who will take care of him properly and safeguard his life?

 

Then one night when Soo-hyun and Jung-woo were to meet under their favorite lamppost a truck drives up and two men kidnap Jung-woo, throwing him into a van. Soo-hyun witnesses the kidnapping and runs after the vehicle screaming and it ends up stopping - and the two men kidnap her too! They are taken to an abandoned warehouse, tied and bound together, and the kidnappers expect to receive a ransom from Jung-woo's rich father Han Tae-joon. However, his father and his bodyguards go looking for Jung-woo instead.

One of the kidnappers is a drug addict and out of his mind; he separates Soo-hyun from Jung-woo by force and at first she rallies and threatens to kill him with a wood plank, but he incapacitates her, drags her on the ground a few feet away and rapes her while she screams, while Jung-woo stares in horror at the entire scene. We don't see the actual rape but it is highly suggested by the round-about images flashed on the screen, by the sounds of violence, and the shock on Jung-woo's bound face. I suddenly had an unnerving flashback to Hitchcock's 1966 film The Birds. The cameraman and director for this K-drama used the same film technique as Hitch did to show the horror of people being tortured or dying: not showing what is happening to the victims, but just focusing for frozen moments on the horror of the main witness in the story. So chilling! It's almost MORE powerful to insinuate what is happening instead of actually showing it. Young actor
Yeo Jin-goo handled this horrible scene with absolute brilliance, he made me cry. This teen actor is going places in the future, let me tell you! Korea has the best child actors in the world!



Someone in Korea has gone to school on Alfred Hitchcock!

When it's all over the kidnappers leave temporarily to fight it out between themselves over harming the hostages in this way (even though one is angry about the rape both are complete low lives as far as I am concerned). Jung-woo is completely traumatized and just reacts on gut fear without thinking. He stares into Soo-hyun's face, which at first looks dead, but then he simply runs out of the warehouse, leaving her all alone. Her lips tremble and she calls his name but he does not return. Then it starts to snow. In both their memories they relive the moment when he had said that they will be together on the first snowfall of the season - and now he is nowhere in sight.

Soo-hyun manages to escape too and along a deserted road up drives Hye-mi the nurse and little Hyung-joon. The boy convinces the woman to bring her along with them since she had saved his life; thus begins a new life adventure for her where she can completely change her identity. No longer will she have to be the lowly and abused Soo-hyun, daughter of a murderer - she can recreate herself as a new person, with a new name. Little Hyung-joon will as well; they end up in France with the nurse taking care of them on the money left by Jung-woo's grandfather -- he is renamed Harry Borrison and she is renamed Zoey. When they become adults Harry is played by my favorite Seung Ho Yoo, from Operation Proposal, and Zoey is played by wonderful Coffee Prince actress Eun-hye Yoon.

Han Tae-joon finds his son Jung-woo before the police do and orders him to be forcibly taken home, while Jung-woo screams and pleads with his father to find his lost love, Soo-hyun. Han Tae-joon has no intention of finding this girl, she has brought nothing but grief to his son's life, and even though he is a total scumbag as a human being he at least has some small sense of responsibility toward his only son. The police find evidence of her clothing, and the fact that she had been raped; this sets off Soo-hyun's adoptive father the cop to swear vengeance - he will find the kidnappers and find Soo-hyun if it's the last thing he does. Tragically, it ends up BEING the last thing he ever does -- on a car chase his brakes are damaged and he goes over a cliff and is killed. Now poor Eun-joo is an orphan, so Soo-hyun's mother adopts her and takes care of her into adulthood. Jung-woo leaves his father's home in disgust because he realizes his father is untrustworthy and a liar, and he too is taken in by Soo-hyun's mother. Mom starts to work hard in restaurants to feed her new family. Jung-woo remains optimistic that Soo-hyun is still alive, despite being told that she was murdered.

 

We skip to 2012, fifteen years later. Harry and Zoey return to Korea from France, financially successful. He has managed the money left to him by his grandfather (the nurse who had raised them dies in a pool by drowning under mysterious circumstances), and Zoey has become a fashion designer. They live together platonically but find it useful to tell people they are engaged, even though it's not really true. Harry seems to truly love Zoey, and he supports her in her decision not to find anyone from her past while in Korea, not even her mother or Jung-woo.

Deep down Zoey is still angry at Jung-woo for abandoning her after the rape. She pours her sweetness and affection into Harry instead, who limps from his old leg injury and needs a cane to walk. Jung-woo (now
played by popular actor Yoochun "Mickey" Park, from Rooftop Prince) has become a homicide detective, partly because he still wants to discover what happened to his old love. The criminal who had raped Soo-hyun is due to be released from prison soon, and Jung-woo likes to "visit" him from time to time just to rough him up as a warning to him to behave, because if he doesn't he will kill him. Jung-woo is now a bit of a hothead and doesn't really stop to think that this criminal might take his own vengeance on him first once he's released from prison.



Actor Yoochun Park plays the grown up Jung-woo, obsessed with finding his childhood love

Once the "aunt" is drowned in the pool it's only a matter of time for Jung-woo to meet "Harry", since he wants the results on his aunt's autopsy. And once Harry and Jung-woo meet it's shortly to be Jung-woo's destiny to meet "Zoey", who reminds him immediately of Soo-hyun, especially her voice. When people grow older their looks can change but their voice and their mannerisms? Not always. Zoey has a lot of the same mannerisms as Soo-hyun and they make him even more suspicious. Jung-woo makes both Zoey and Harry uneasy the way he keeps staring at Zoey. "Do you like my fiance?" challenges Harry, and Zoey puts her hand on his shoulder. "I only have eyes for you, Harry," she flirtatiously says. Zoey, upset at seeing Jung-woo again after so many years, cuddles up in bed together with Harry for comfort. (Only in a K-drama can they imply a horrible rape of a teenager and then have adult actors fully clothed laying in bed starting at one another with love, but not touching!).



Harry and Zoey remain dependent on each other for quite some time due to their rough childhoods -
what is the psychological code-word for this? Co-dependency.

Then of all the possible horrible scenarios to occur, Harry and Zoey are driving together and who should walk directly into their vehicle's path? Soo-hyun's rapist, who had just been released from jail that day! Harry hits him slightly and then gets out of the car to check on his condition. As the two of them chat, Zoey is shaken to recognize who he is: vividly she recalls the memories of the rape she had repressed for so many years. The man looks the same, he has the same mannerism of rubbing his nose with his hand, the same arrogance about his sway. Zoey begins to become hysterical in the car; while Harry is on the phone to get medical assistance for the man, the rapist approaches the car on the passenger side, raps on the window and peers in. "Are you okay, miss?" but Zoey hides her face and cries and shakes. The released prisoner tells Harry, "she needs help more than I do", and walks away disdainfully. There is no communicating with Zoey for hours, she is non-verbal except for crying and screaming and she immediately rushes to the bathtub to clean herself, a very common type of reaction for rape victims. It seems that pretending nothing ever happened is not going to work for Zoey anymore, but it's Harry who tenderly cares for her, and holds her until she finally falls asleep from the trauma.



Later, Jung-woo, trying to find any way he can to finally confirm that Zoey is Soo-hyun, checks the local security cameras on the street which had documented the car accident and zooms in on Zoey's reactions to seeing her rapist. Jung-woo is convinced now that it is his lost love from childhood, and he has no plans to ever let her go again. He wants to apologize to her for leaving the scene of the crime all those years ago due to his childlike terror, he wants to tell her he's not the same person he was before, that he is stronger, that he lives with her Mom and adopted sister Eun-joo, that they are all happy and does she want to live with them? His joy at finding her is tempered by the knowledge that she herself has not come to terms with her own miserable, horrific past.

 

Zoey fights being recognized and keeps denying her real identity to Jung-woo ... until she finally runs into her mother and the two of them have a tearful reunion. "I don't want to return to being Soo-hyun! Soo-hyun was the daughter of a murderer! As Zoey I can be my own new person." Her mother emotionally says that she understands fully, and won't pressure her into going back to a name and identity that only made her unhappy.

What will happen if the released rapist starts to put two and two together? Will he try and harm her again? Or will somebody get to him first? Jung-woo still feels uneasy about her safety and follows her around covertly as much as he can. In turn, Zoey can't help but remember some of the happier times they had as teens, that it wasn't all just misery and pain. Jung-woo still goes to the playground where they used to meet every day, and as he plays on the equipment, pretending to be a kid again, Zoey watches from a distance and starts to smile. The ice is slowly beginning to break in her heart toward him.



Being indecisive between two men is never good for the two men who both love you

However, when they find time to be together, to eat together or drive together, Harry becomes more jealous and begins to act in unstable ways, secretly planning his revenge against everyone who has hurt him. He has his own deep mental issues he's never addressed and privately the one he hates the most is Han Tae-joon, Jung-woo's father, for ostensibly killing his mother. The more Harry feels the new life he has made for himself slipping away, the more unstable he becomes and he is perfectly capable of becoming violent to get what he wants, even against Jung-woo, whom he is blood related to, and Zoey, who has been his whole life for over a decade. It was sad for me to see Harry decline and unravel more and more into insanity, since I am so fond of this actor, Seung Ho Yoo. I wanted to see his character have some glimmers of hope and peace, but the more the story progressed the more I saw him being turned into a villain, when all along I felt that it was Han Tae-joon, Jung Woo's father, who was the REAL villain in this story and he never seemed to get his comeuppance.

There are many secondary characters whom you will recognize if you are a true blue K-drama fan, and a few side stories in the drama I won't address, some of them bringing touches of humor here and there to what is essentially a huge cryfest story, but overall you're simply going to have to watch it for yourself to determine whether you like it or not. This was a 21 episode drama that surely could have been cut down to 16 episodes and accomplished basically the same things. I stuck with it for the beautiful heartfelt performances of the actors and you probably will too. They are all so hypnotic in their roles; very powerful. I never once felt I was watching Yoochun, Seung Ho Yoo, or Eun Hye-yoon, rather I was watching Jung-woo, Harry, and Soo-hyun / Zoey.


I left the show feeling sad though because of Harry, the one who touched my heart the most. He needed psychiatric help from his traumatic childhood which had harmed him irreparably. The other two lead characters seemed to be healing through forgiveness and love, but Harry was left out of that equation even though he had supported and sheltered Zoey and comforted her for fifteen years as she grew up. Seung Ho Yoo did such an awesome job at only eighteen years old when he made this; he tipped the scales for me to give this drama five stars out of five on the Dramafever site, whereas if someone else had played his role I probably would have given it four stars because the writing rarely gave us a break in the tension of this story. He's such a talented actor at such a tender age, it's beyond amazing, but then again he's been acting since the year 2000 when he was a little tyke. I just love him. Saranghae, adeul!

After this show you'll REALLY want to watch a romantic comedy!!!

Don't forget the tissues to cry into!

~~~~~~~~

RETURN TO KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS

~~~~~~

I MISS YOU PICTURE GALLERY