In a nutshell: A man and woman meet and are attracted to each other. But the stigma the woman carries as the daughter of a wanted murderer, as well as the man’s own related baggage, challenges their ability to have a normal courtship. The drama follows their attempts to struggle out from under their respective burdens and get closer to each other. It’s a quiet romance, with a bit of sleuthing on the side, beautifully shot in a small town that isn’t Seoul, with a small but strong cast. If you can find it (I watched it on the now defunct Dramacrazy, alas) it’s definitely worth checking out.
The Structure: The drama is cleverly told, with each episode opening with a snippet from its closing scene. That the woman, Kim Yoon-hye (Yoo Da-in), is the daughter of a wanted murderer we learn immediately. But that reveal doesn’t actually occur, within the story’s timeline, until the end of the first episode. So we know Yoon-hye is going to make this confession to the man, Han Jae-kwang (Yun Woo-jin), but we don’t know why.
I liked how this narrative device framed each episode: showing us the two characters at a point much further along in their relationship — then showing us how they get there. I felt like it gave the drama a drive its more quiet pace wouldn’t have otherwise achieved. It also added a depth to the interactions between the two characters, because we know they’re eventually going to wind up at that further stage.
The Couple: The woman, Kim Yoon-hye, lives in a carefully created bubble — almost a state of limbo — defined by her absent father’s status. She doesn’t wear jewelry or anything that might call attention to herself — even avoiding a shirt with nice buttons. She’s not happy or satisfied, but it’s practically a point of honor for her to be as plain and honest and law-abiding as possible — her way of defying her town’s expectations. The man, Han Jae-kwang, has gone in the other direction — so rootless he’s one hotel room away from living out of his car. He’s ostensibly from Seoul (with the expected city-boy’s charm) but basically a restless traveller.
It looks like a classic setup for the opposites-attact-trope. But what sparks with these two is how alike they are. They get each other. And, because of that mutual understanding, they begin to acknowledge how constricted they are. Which starts them down a path to try and free themselves from those barriers. And that made for an addictive watch.
The Conclusion: The ending was slightly ambiguous — as seems the trend with these short drama-specials. But questions are fully answered, we see those answers impact our couple, and we see this chapter in their lives end. We don’t see what Yoon-hye and Jae-kwang’s future lives will bring, but there’s enough information to give us a sense of it. And that’s more than enough for me. I very much enjoyed Ordinary Love and, if the opportunity comes, I’ll definitely watch it again.