The Immutable Law Of First Love (2015)
NaverTVCast, 11 Episodes
Based On A Web Novel
Romantic Melodrama, Grade: B
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

Web dramas like The Immutable Law Of First Love (2015) usually have much lower budgets than cable television K-dramas, so you never know when you start one whether or not the limited budget will be used wisely to create something special, or whether it will be pretty much thrown away on mediocrity.

Thankfully in this case they were able to create something haunting and romantic, and a little different than the usual "first love" stories which have been a staple of Korean dramas for decades: since Immutable Law Of First Love is only 11 episodes of about 10 minutes each you can breeze through this "short story" in an evening after work, when you're too tired to watch a heavier and longer cable TV K-drama. Also of interest was that this web drama was directed by a Korean-American, Peter Lee. I can tell he loves cool cinematography because every shot was well crafted. 

Spoiler here: It took me all of five minutes to figure out that this was going to be largely a ghost story. When the lead female character was talking to her boyfriend and he didn't even acknowledge her presence, well, let's just say it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Even though this biggest mystery wasn't much of a mystery at all, this drama still has some surprises along the way, including the ending. So if you are like me and enjoy surprises in your stories then do check this one out. The acting is excellent and to my delight it even featured a BEAUTIFUL trained dog who was brilliant, doing tricks at the drop of hat, looking adorable in his special pet bed, and staring at his owner with total love in his big soft eyes. Jill was a Goner when she took one look at this special pup. I wanted to grab him through the screen and make him mine! He was my favorite cast member! LOL!


The Story: A high school physics teacher named Jong Goo (Kim Jung Hoon from Late Night Restaurant) has been out of sorts lately, coming to school conferences late or not at all, rarely smiling, ending classes early, even cutting off fellow teachers and administrators who want to help him, including one teacher who obviously has a crush on him, the pretty but very practical gym teacher Do Ha Na (Lee Jin from Birth Secret). Jong Goo tries repeatedly to make it clear to her that he's not interested in her, but she won't take no for an answer.

It isn't clear at first why he seems so troubled and listless, until he goes back to his apartment one evening, and a young woman named Yeo Ri (singer-actress Song Ji Eun), who has been cooking him dinner, starts talking to him, but he doesn't answer her back. He doesn't even turn his head in her direction. He seems to be totally alone and depressed. He reaches for an instant ramen to make for dinner -- when Yeo Ri has placed all these yummy hot foods out on the table. He totally ignores the food, and her. He's so down in the dumps he doesn't even acknowledge that the puppy Bok Goo in the apartment might need some love and affection ... or maybe even more importantly ... a WALK?
?? (I was thinking to myself, 'if there ever was a candidate for Prozac this guy is it!').

The first thought that would come to a sensible audience is, "Is she dead?" The answer is yes. She can't bring herself to leave him and go to heaven because they had so much unfinished business between them at the time she passed on from a brain tumor. Jong Goo didn't even know she was sick and dying at the time, she kept it from him in order not to be a burden, and she made a sharp break of it with him with no explanation, simply disappearing into the night, telling her puppy Bok Goo to watch over her love. Of course Jong Goo is left devastated and depressed! Talk about real burdens! Then she expects him to see her ghost and converse with her? What's up with that? Lots of mysteries yet to be revealed!

One of Jong Goo's students can see ghosts,
including that of his own mother!

Later, Jong Goo goes out to a coffee shop alone and two young men who are working the counter become nervous -- turns out he's their physics teacher, and they are afraid what he will think of them if they are out working instead of studying at home. They needn't have worried, he doesn't even seem to care. Then Jong Goo sits at a table and there across from him sits Yeo Ri, but he once again doesn't acknowledge her when she speaks to him (this reminded me immediately of a scene in the ghostly short drama Mimi from 2014).

Even more strangely, only one of his students, named Go Hae Joo (Lee Jung Bin), seems to see Yeo Ri's ghost -- the other boy thinks he's daft. Turns out Hae Joo has the ability to see other ghosts, too, including his own mother's, whom he chats with at home every day, updating her on his schoolwork. Hae Joo even sees Yeo Ri leave with Jong Goo and get into his car with him, and he wonders why Jong Goo is being so rude to her, never speaking to her once. It then occurs to Hae Joo that maybe she is the ghost of his old girlfriend, whom rumors state he had broken up with.

It pleases Hae Joo that Jong Goo is with the ghost and obviously still stuck on her, because he has his own crush on the gym teacher of the school, Do Ha Na, who in turn has that crush on Jong Goo. He begs Jong Goo to leave the gym teacher alone, and Jong Goo just laughs. It's clear he still has no feelings for that gym teacher!


Some of the nicest scenes in this short drama are the flashbacks, and we see what first attracted Jong Goo to Yeo Ri. She was a photographer and loved dogs, and they meet when Jong Goo is about to take a bike ride and Yeo Ri's dog lifts its leg 3x on the bike and pees away! When Jong Goo yells at the dog the pup rolls over and plays dead. The couple have a spat and as is often the case in K-dramaland that begins a romantic relationship!

Gorgeous photography in this web drama!

Soon they are spending time together on nature walks and bus drives into town, and then she seems to disappear, becoming scared about the deepening relationship. A priceless scene occurs when he borrows a street gospel preacher's megaphone while he's saying "Believe in Jesus and be saved!" and Jong Goo takes it from the minister and starts to call out on it, "I want to see Bok Goo's owner! Where are you hiding? Please come out!" She eventually steps out from behind a sign and that's it: they are together from that moment on ... until she receives the sad news from her doctor that she has an inoperable brain tumor and only a short time to live. She takes off by herself with no explanation ... and now we have come full circle to the beginning of the drama.

The last two episodes are very strange, dramatic and powerful, and one scene reminded me strongly of the gorgeous Chinese film Secret (2007) starring Jay Chou, which I've said for years will be the last film I re-watch before I die.

Will Jong Goo become so distraught because he continues to think he was abandoned by Yeo Ri, and might he try and end it all? By some miracle will he be able to see Yeo Ri again? Will he find out she's a ghost? Will he ever get together with that persistent quirky gym teacher? Will Jong Goo ever attempt to move on with his life, or will he forever live in the past when he was happy with Yeo Ri?