Second To Last Love
끝에서 두번째 사랑
SBS (2016) 20 Episodes, Grade: A-
Older Romance, Comedy
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

I loved this warmly sweet, classy, gentle drama Second To Last Love (2016) a lot, but I had a difficult time with its scheduling issues; first they kept interrupting, and delaying by weeks, episodes of this drama because of the 2016 Summer Olympics, then there was a Korean holiday that delayed episodes for another two weeks, so I would have to struggle to remember what happened in previous episodes, which unfortunately disturbed the flow of experiencing this worthwhile story for me, which was a rare one for Korea, about a couple over 40 finding romance and love in their lives when they had essentially given up on the possibility because of their advancing age and work / family responsibilities.

When you're watching other dramas at the same time it's even more difficult to remember all the little nuances going on in the plot when episodes are delayed to the extent this one was delayed. For instance in a three week spread we only got to see one episode! Yikes! And this drama wasn't the only one negatively affected by the darn Olympics, Jang Hyuk's masterpiece Beautiful Mind had two episodes chopped off to allow for additional Olympics coverage. I want a director's cut of that baby! Tens of thousands of fans in the Western world who went crazy over that drama signed a complaint petition to give to KBS but it made no difference. Outrageous! The way I look at it, why should I care a hill of beans about who swims the length of a pool faster than another? I don't know these people from Adam, I just want my K-dramas!

This is definitely a low key, charming, and understated story that is lovely to watch, especially for us older K-drama fans; it's probably best to marathon it, instead of what I was forced to do: watch it till it culminated after MONTHS of time had gone by! Korea shouldn't do that to their dramas, they should rearrange their schedules so that sports events and holidays don't put unreasonable delays on these stories. We K-drama fans matter too! I thought to myself at the time, hey, maybe I should design a T-shirt that boldly declares: "K-DRAMA FANS MATTER!" :)

The Story: Ko Sang Sik (handsome Ji Jin Hee from Dong Yi, Love Letter, Snow Lotus, Late Night Restaurant) is a government worker in his 40's and still single after the sad death of his wife in childbirth. He works as the environmental facility section chief at City Hall. Ko Sang Sik slowly becomes emotionally involved with strong personality Kang Min Joo (Kim Hee Ae from Midas), a producer of popular television dramas at a broadcasting station, who is also in her 40's and single after the tragic death of her fiance
a number of years earlier.

First they butt heads about the logistics and environmental impacts of her chosen drama locations, then on a drama shoot he jumps into a lake, rescues her, and does CPR on her after she bungee jumps and almost drowns when the cord snaps, then later jealousy erupts because of her personal interest in his younger brother, a talented chef named Joon Woo (Kwak Si Yang from Oh My Ghostess) with his own successful cafe and cooking school.

Sang Sik realizes early on that he's falling for Min Joo but hides his feelings so as not to hurt his younger brother. We've seen this kind of brother rivalry set up in other dramas, but the difference here is that the two main lead characters are not silly young people in their 20's, but more mature and serious middle age people in their 40's (although Min Joo has moments of sheer hilarity and sexiness when she acts out in her new home and thinks she's alone and no one else is looking on, like a priceless moment when she gets up and dances to a recording of I Will Survive).

After Min Joo had decided she had enough of city life, and moved to that small place in the country, she becomes romantically involved with Joon Woo when she discovers his cafe is right next door to her house! He also gives cooking lessons and invites her to participate in her free time. He encourages her to do things she's always been interested in but lacked the courage to try, like skateboarding. They are an interesting and refreshing younger man, older woman duo. At first. It's clear she is tickled pink that a younger guy has a crush on her, because she's been alone for so long, putting her emphasis on career and not love, but what are her real feelings towards him? Will they lead to permanence?

Talented Kim Seul Gi in a more serious role for a change

Also close by lives Sang Sik and his niece, an extremely talented young artist named Mi Ryeo (Kim Seul Gi from Oh My Ghostess) who is pretty much a loner due to a traumatic loss which results in a social phobia (it was nice to see actress Kim Seul Gi get away from playing a silly, kooky character for a change). They both look on with some trepidation at Min Joo and Joon Woo spending so much time together and talking about possible marriage.

Also living with Sang Sik is his sister, Ko Sang Hee (Jung Soo Young) who is in an unhappy marriage with a seldom home jerk who pursues other women routinely, named Han Jung Sik (Park Sun Geun). He even forgets their wedding anniversaries, taking other women out to eat instead of his wife. (Oooh, I slung boulders at this creep with my eyes! LOL). Fortunately her family often rallies around her to support her when she is hurt, and encourages her to do things apart from him, like get back into playing her piano, a talent she has neglected for some time.


The close proximity everyone has in their living arrangements means there is a lot of inadvertent spying and gossiping going on with all the characters. Both brothers also have other women who are obsessed with them, but it's clear they don't stand much of a chance as rivals. For Sang Sik it's flirty, much younger co-worker Han Song Yi (Ko Bo Gyeol), and for Joon Woo it's a previous jealous girlfriend named Min Ji Sun (beautiful Stephanie Lee) who wants to re-establish a relationship with him, so she starts to work in his cafe as a waitress, but with ulterior motives in mind.

As time goes by it becomes clear that Sang Sik and Min Joo are attracted to one another and it's inevitable that the younger brother Joon Woo is going to end up hurt. However there is HUGE hurdle in any possible union of Sang Sik and Min Joo -- years earlier Sang Sik was blamed for a fire at his previous place of employment that killed a young man ... who just happened to be Min Joo's fiance who died! What will happen when Min Joo discovers this terrible fact? Will she blame Sang Sik, or will she understand that he tried to rescue her fiance but it was just too late?

I probably would have given this drama an A instead of an A- if my viewing experience of it had been a straight marathon, but SBS chose to jerk its schedule around too much and I simply lost the flow of this drama that I would have had if they had not done that. I couldn't wait at the time it began, however; I love Ji Jin Hee as an actor and didn't want to miss him for the world. I liked his chemistry here with his co-star Kim Hee Ae; their scenes together were my favorites, they were tender, funny, agitated, romantic. It was a long process to see them become simpatico with one another, but to me it was worth it, and I might even re-watch this drama in a marathon someday and finally get the full experience I wanted from it all along.