Ho Gu’s Love/Fool’s Love
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I recently finished watching tvN’s Ho Gu’s Love/Fool’s Love,which aired from February to March, 2015. The drama starred Choi Woo Shik in the titular role of Kang Ho Gu, otherwise known as our fool in love. Uee played Do Do Hee, the national swimming champion and the one that Ho Gu loves. Im Seul Ong was Byun Kang Chul, the “gay” lawyer. And Lee Soo Kyung played Kang Ho Kyung, Ho Gu’s twin sister.
Ho Gu’s Love is a romantic comedy drama that depicts the story of Kang Ho Goo, who has never had a girlfriend and has no dating techniques whatsoever, meeting his first love and a member of the national swim team Do Do Hee and getting involved in a complicated love relationship and dangerous friendship.
Kang Ho Gu is an assistant to a friend and works on the background images for a webtoon. He coasts through life, trying to find someone to date, but has no real ambition. He is a beta male, who is soft spoken, utterly sweet, and simple. He believes in a pure kind of love, and hopes to meet his soulmate one day and feels that everything will just work out. He has a father, who is also a beta male, who loves his wife utterly. His mother is the alpha in the family, but is someone who wants just an ordinary life for her children, where they will fall in love and live happy lives. He also has a twin sister named Kang Ho Kyung.
Kang Ho Kyung, in contrast to Ho Gu, is working towards her master’s thesis in psychology. She is extremely cynical about love, and believes that love is all about timing. She easily dates and breaks up with guys, never taking love seriously and blaming the guy if they take things too seriously.
In an early conversation about love between the twins, Ho Kyung posits that you have to constantly check on signals that each side is giving to the other. Love only happens if both sides have green lights at the same time. Ho Gu argues with his sister that he doesn’t care about green lights or red lights, but only that there is a connection between the two parties. Ho Kyung then retorts that if you don’t worry about red lights, then you’ll end up getting hit by a car and dying.
Kang Ho Gu meets his first love Do Do Hee at the beginning of the drama. She is a friend from high school. She is obviously struggling with something during their time together, but Ho Gu doesn’t catch on. The two go to the sea and then make a promise to meet up at Christmas. Months go by and Do Hee doesn’t show up. One day, Ho Gu meets her on the subway, and she is heavily pregnant. Ho Go helps Do Hee while she is giving birth, and then quickly falls in love with the baby, which they eventually name Geum Dong, after a stray cat. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that Ho Gu loved Do Hee in high school. He thought that Do Hee was dating Kang Chul, and he gave up being her friend.
Do Hee is the national swim champion, but only ever comes in second. She lost her parents at a young age, she transferred into Ho Gu’s school later on, and only seemed graceful and beautiful from afar. Up close she was actually quite foul-mouthed. She is raped one night by another swimmer, and finds out that she is pregnant the night she first meets Ho Gu again. She decides to have an abortion, but is unable to do so. When she meets Ho Gu once more, and he helps her through the birth and the initial days, he gives her the time to actually fall in love with her own child. Eventually, she decides to raise her child rather than giving him up for adoption. Through flashbacks we see that Do Hee never dated Kang Chul and only ever loved Ho Gu.
After a brief separation, Ho Gu and Do Hee begin dating. She is the alpha in her relationship with Ho Gu. Ho Gu supports her through her reporting of the rape, and the two get married.
Ho Gu for a long while believed that their high school president, Byun Kang Chul, who is now a successful attorney, was the father of Do Hee’s child. Kang Chul is initially shown as a narcissist who only cares about furthering his career and looking good. As the drama progresses, we see that he is a bundle of insecurities. As a child, he was pressured by both of his parents to be at the top. One day, he meets who he thinks is Kang Ho Gu outside of school and they have an adventure, spending the entire day together. That night, while leaving, he is kissed by Ho Gu and spends the next six years believing that he might be gay. He is unable to find anyone who makes his heart beat like it did when Ho Gu kissed him. He deals with his sexuality and even accidentally comes out as gay. It is only at the end, and after another stolen kiss, that he realizes his kisser was actually Kang Ho Kyung.
Kang Ho Kyung begins the drama as a psychology student, who is extremely conscientious about her looks. She spent years getting plastic surgery after Kang Chul was unable to recognize her the morning after their day together. Due to her insecurities about her looks, she refuses to go to school or to meet dates without a lot of makeup on. Her professor urges Ho Kyung to date her son, who turns out to be Kang Chul. The two go out on one date, but Kang Chul does not ask her out again. Ho Kyung chases him, forgetting about her theories on love. She is heartbroken when she realizes that Kang Chul is gay, but even then she takes the time to help him deal with his sexuality. It is only when she realizes that she can never show him her makeup-free face that she decides to end all interaction with him. Leaving him with one final kiss, she walks away.
It is only then that Kang Chul begins to suspect. The two finally have an open conversation. Kang Chul finds out that Ho Gu and Ho Kyung are twins. Kang Chul then reveals that he thought he was gay because of her. Ho Kyung finally realizes that Kang Chul actually thought she was a boy when they met that fateful day six years ago. Kang Chul is angry for the mental torture that she put him through for years, and she points out that it’s still about him. What about her pain when he did not recognize her or the years she spent having surgery? It is at this point that Kang Chul seems to get a clue, but Ho Kyung is so hurt that she kicks him out. After some time, they finally reunite.
At the end, Do Hee and Ho Go are on their way to getting married, surrounded by their loved ones and being chased by hoards of Do Hee haters.
Ho Gu’s Love was a quirky drama. It had likeable characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching every scene, even those with the secondary characters. I loved Ho Gu’s mother, who was so bighearted and willing to accept Do Hee, wanting only that the two be happy together.
I liked how there were no viperous second leads. And the triangle was between two guys and a girl, but it was the girl and guy fighting over a guy! How different was that?
I really liked Im Seul Ong’s (as Kang Chul) and Lee Soo Kyung’s (as Ho Kyung) characterizations of their respective roles. I love a story where a man falls in love despite of everything that he knows is right. Despite his concept of what was the “right” sexuality, Kang Chul couldn’t let go of the feelings that he thought Ho Gu caused in him. Later on, he was even able to accept it to certain degree. And that is the most beautiful testament to the love he felt for Ho Kyung.
I liked that the drama itself talked about tough subjects such as pregnancy outside of marriage, rape and sexuality. We had the acknowledgement that being an unwed mother would ruin Do Hee’s career and that sometimes justice cannot be achieved for victims. Finally, the drama dealt with how traditional parents might react to a child’s sexuality.
And coming to the final thing I liked about the show. It was a show that wasn’t afraid to show successful women in their own right. We didn’t have candy type characters, but strong alphas who were the leaders in their relationships. And they were realistic. We had the psychologist mother who spouted ideals of acceptance, even for sexuality, but then had issues with her own son coming out as gay. We had Ho Kyung who was working towards a masters, but wasn’t afraid to chase after and embarrass herself over the man she loved. And we had Do Hee. She was a national swimmer and good daughter and friend. She had the courage to have her child while unwed and raise it. And she was willing to report her rapist and fight for her rights. Yes, she was afraid of love and felt sorry for too long, but at the end, we did see a change in her and a willingness to be happy.
What I didn’t like was the excessive use of flashbacks, where we got the same story from different points of view. I got what the drama was going for, but I did get kind of tired of it. Additionally, I didn’t understand why Do Hee ran away one day, but then was willing to come back to Ho Gu when nothing had changed. Finally, while I loved Kang Chul’s and Ho Kyung’s story (probably more than the main couple’s story), I did not like that the “gay” misunderstanding was kept up until the end of the drama. I wish Kang Chul had found out earlier, and we could have seen some happy scenes between the two of them. Kang Chul looked like a suave, sophisticated man, but he was a complete dork on the inside. I would have loved to see him be a total dork in love, and Ho Kyung would definitely have been the alpha in that relationship.
Linked with the flashbacks, I also didn’t like how the show gave you these half conversations that were there to misdirect you. For example, the conversation between Do Hee and Kang Chul supposedly about using condoms turned out to be a conversation about a lawsuit. Another conversation about condoms turned out to actually be about a condo. Or the impressions we had of characters were misdirects. For example, initially Kang Chul was this horrible character, but he turned out to be a sweet dork who was only worried about his sexuality. Then we got, Kang Chul might be gay because Ho Gu kissed him! But no, it was actually Ho Kyung. Or Do Hee was shown as this haughty mermaid, but she was just a girl who wanted to be with Ho Gu, her first love, along with getting a gold medal. At a certain point, I began to doubt the story itself, regardless of what the writer was saying. And that was not fun.
Ho Gu’s Love was a good drama, and it definitely rates a watch. I give it an 8 out of 10.