K-Drama Review: “Encounter” Cascades A Hard-Fought Emotional Battle That Wins By Letting Love & Trust Happen
Billowing on sweet highs and frustrating let-it-be lows, Encounter has fully played with the viewers’ emotions, immersed to see the love couple achieve their happy ending.
Banking on the stellar portrayal of Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo, Encounter achieves a happy ending through the hero’s final effort to convince that their love is surely big enough for them to stay together.
Theme: Romance, Melodrama
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date: 28 Nov 2018 – 24 Jan 2019
Main Leads: Park Bo Gum & Song Hye Kyo
Highlights: Beautiful Screenplay, Well-seasoned romance story
Drawback: Languid Pace, Character & Plot Inconsistencies
Related Dramas: Beloved Eundong, Another Oh Hae Young
Encounter is the kind of drama that gives you varying insights depending on your state of mind.
If you have seen it in your 20’s, you might struggle with its pace. But give a time to rewatch it after a few years or maybe a few heartbreaks, and you would feel the difference.
Well-seasoned Romance Showcase
Encounter began on a magical note. That’s why if you have been a faithful follower, you would question why it had to thread on the reality biting pain that ensued after the refreshing romance – which happened on the first half of the story.
Passing the halfway mark of the narrative, viewers had fully empathized on the inihibitions of the female lead; at the same time, feeling sorry for the heartbreak the selfless hero was willing to shed for the woman he loves. For that reason, we could only hope for the agonizing last stretch to be worth it. Thankfully, it did.
Encounter was strong in moments of Jin Hyuk and Soo Hyun together. But as soon as their complicated world enveloped them, the fun faded. However, that irony was also the same fuel which kept the romance trajectory interesting.
In addition, the reversal of roles reflected from the male lead’s perspective was another notable high in the series.
It was baffling how the taxing conflict hounding the main characters of Encounter complemented the tranquilizing mood that had been limned since the drama’s first episode. It had gifted stunning lines delivered remarkably not just by the main leads, but also by the supporting characters.
Maintaining that classy narration, Encounter flaunted character engagement in clear communication inside the story. Even the evil characters colluded in a restrained and respectful manner different from those melodramas with exaggerated let’s-make-the-main-characters suffer to the hilt cliche.
Furthermore, the delicate narrative paid more attention to the message of the story. It had also been garnished with resonating music, timely inserted on the crowning moments of the series.
The borderline soothing tone of Encounter sometimes slipped to a dozing tone. Given the conflict circling around the love couple’s journey to break the odds was hindering them to be fully happy in love.
Apparently, the couple’s love struggled to cushion the woes set in the story. Consequently, it led to a pendulum of emotional ride for the main couple of the narrative.
But in all honesty, it was hard to put a spin to its typical conflict. Therefore, the fact that the inserted plot bends fire up the story could be considered a blessing.
Character & Plot Inconsistencies
Soo Hyun’s character presented the story of a woman who has been living a life that is not entirely her own. One day, she meets a man who makes her realize that it’s not too late to do that. But her taking a step to a new world means waging war to a controlling conglomerate family. She has shown faltering in remaining firm in her position, but her boyfriend constantly reassures her.
For the sake of making a convincing redemption for all the years she spent at the shadow of the family she was once a part of, I expected a little gratifying showdown between Soo Hyun and Taegyeong. Ultimately, her parents stepped up to redeem what they put their obedient daughter through. While it was a noble act and blended to the drama’s pacifying mood, it didn’t leave a satisfying note based on all the sob stories we heard about what the heroine had gone through as their former daughter-in-law.
In line with it, the trepidations of Soo Hyun on her relationship with Jin Hyuk was a bit exaggerated and abusive while complementing Jin Hyuk’s character. No matter how patient and understanding Jin Hyuk was sketched in the story, in reality, he should have reached a bargaining point to straighten out a girl who couldn’t seem to let go of her useless apprehensions.
Encounter proves that love is for two brave people willing to take each other’s pain, viewers are expected to feel those contemplative nudge of appreciating little things that we tend to overlook when relationship problems seem too hard to handle.
While not tautly executed, its soothing effect and that invisible drive to support the couple’s ever-after goal draws its mesmerizing hook.
The story of Jin Hyuk and Soo Hyun is for patient viewers – those who love taking time to savor the quiet and meaningful moments of being truly in love.
*All photos from tvN.
ABOUT THE WRITER
abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting K-Drama watching as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Gregory House, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.
Recommended Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, City Hunter, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.