In a nutshell: Very much a melodrama, with all the angst and tears you’d expect from that genre. But with a lovely range of emotions, from the high, sweet notes of innocent first-love to the lowering depths of ruthless greed and selfishness ambition. I was impressed with how well the drama wove humor and warmth through what was a pretty harrowing storyline. I was also pleased with how character-focused it was. There was a twisty, almost gothic, plot providing the backbone, but it developed through character choices and actions. Which I always love. This was a highly controversial drama (at least, in my neck of the internets) which did color my viewing, but in the end I’m really glad I gave it a go. Even with the bottomless cup of tears that came with it.
Minor spoilers to follow:
The controversy: There were two issues I came across as I dipped in and out of discussion sites. The first was external to the story. The male lead, Park Yoochun, is also in a K-Pop group called JYJ which has a massive fan base and, statistics being what they are, some of the fans are a little loopy. The loopy fans protested the actress cast in a supporting role, Jang Mi-in-ae, for loopy reasons (you can read more about it here on Dramabeans, where I get most of my backstage info), and while the drama kept her in the role, in the end, her role wasn’t that large. Certainly not the second lead some of the drama’s posters suggested she’d be.
Was it because of the protests? There were those watching who thought yes, and were pretty upset about it. And if her role was reduced for that reason, it’s definitely an ugly thing. But I never saw a scene where her character was needed and awkwardly didn’t appear, leaving another character to fill her shoes. If the drama did shuffle her into a smaller part they did it very thoroughly. So thoroughly, my personal opinion is that her role wasn’t ever planned to be that big in the first place. That the PR people created their posters because of the usual drama-cliches of a second female lead competing for the male lead’s heart. A complication I Miss You did not need and one I was glad didn’t get included. (Again, though, that’s just my observation. I could be wrong, and if I am and Jang Mi-in-ae had her role reduced because of the protests, that was a bad choice and a bad action.)
The second issue was internal to the story. Too many bad things happened to our main characters. The world they moved through was so dark and so brutal it was clearly meant to manipulate the viewers’ feelings with no regard to story-logic or reality. This theory I totally disagree with. Yes, the drama dealt with a majorly brutal and dark event, and yes some of its characters were brutal and dark.
But the drama never, never, left us soaking in the darkness and brutality. There were also moments of incredible warmth and caring and love, as well as characters of incredible integrity and courage and love. Yes, this was a melodrama telling a story about the damage ruthless greed can create. But it was also telling a story about how good people can stand up against brutality and greed and find healing and peace. A story that, while certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, was one worth telling.