K-Drama Review: “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” Painfully Threads An Unforgettable & Life-Affirming Romance

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Not for the faint-hearted, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes piled up tragic moments, ultimately reaching a poignant closure — that would make the viewers clutch their hearts in pain, yet understand that it is for the best.

Rarely do we get such an emotionally affecting drama that did not send us to a weep fest, yet broke our hearts big time nonetheless.

Achieving that conquest, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes intricately poured an array of harrowing emotions that was not apologetic in making the audience get a taste of fearless and agonizing sentiments.

Title: The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Network: tvN
Theme: Drama, Romance
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date:
Main Leads: Seo In Guk, Jung So Min, Park Sung Woong
Highlights: Seo In Guk, Excellent Cast Portrayal,
Resonating Screenplay
Overall Rating: 
Re-watch Value: 
Related Dramas: Uncontrollably Fond, Memories in Bali 

Brilliantly penned, portrayed and executed, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes has streamed to one of the best melodramas in the recent years.

The sound approach of presenting the characters’ motivations, which flows neat to its heartbreaking storytelling, painted a stunning series that should not be missed by avid K-Drama patrons.

What you can change to because of love, and to which extent you would be willing to go to for that same love, are the questions answered in the thrilling strips of this series.

Read also: K-Drama Mid-Series Check: “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” Sustains Its Luring Mood Through Deft Characters & Writing

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

Quick Plot Roundup

Deprived of meaningful human interaction, Kim Moo Young (Seo In Guk) has long lost the vigor in life. After finding his niche to exist in a society which frequently tramples on orphans like him, he has been going to an unimpassioned daily routine.

He chances upon Baek Seung Ah (Seo In Soo), a daughter from a rich household, who is betrothed to the owner of the brewery company where he works.

They engage in a relationship, which earns the ire of Seung Ah’s former rich boyfriend, who then takes his fury on Moo Young. It inevitably leads to an accident, killing Seung Ah and her ex-fiance.

Yoo Jin Kang (Jung So Min), who has seen through the cold front Moo Young has been wearing, puts a blind faith to take a chance on him. Against her brother’s wish, she eventually succumbs to a relationship with him.

Finding solace in Jin Kang’s arms, Moo Young’s forgotten childhood memories starts to resurface. It brings him to an unimaginable agonizing moment, just when he is starting to feel like a human again.


Seo In Guk

I don’t know where to start my thoughts on Seo In Guk’s superb performance because I have a lot to say, but it all boils down to how great he was in the drama. Immersing to a role that requires limitless emotional depth to pull off is not unheard of. But the actor amplified his portrayal to a level where the audience saw him in a different light.

Owing to the hero’s enigmatic bearing, the drama atmosphere strangely hooks even with its somber tone. Channeling the grit and pain of his character, Seo amazes the viewers with those cold gazes which literally brought the drama title’s meaning to life.

Portraying Kim Moo Young, a man who goes to his day-to-day existence because it is life’s course, Seo In Guk interestingly attracts viewers amidst his depiction of a unique hero, bereft of emotions.

His flawed character draws understanding to his evil acts in such a way that audience can empathize and irrationally accepts the vile result of his intentions to protect himself.

Slowly finding his purpose through that glint of faith that Jin Kang opened up for him, made me genuinely pray for him at night even if he lives in a fictional world.

Considering Seo is pitted with actors who have also done a great job in respective dramas such as So Ji Sub and Seo Kang Joon in 2018 year-end stretch, what made me choose him as my best actor this year, is how he owned Moo Young’s character down to the littlest detail including those smirks, dauntless expression, stoic gazes and mess-with-me-and-you-die perspectives.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

Smartly executed cliche tropes

Amnesia and birth secrets have long been staple ingredients for melodramas. These trite plot twists were reimagined to build up an exciting narrative in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.

Deftly withheld key points, which were unleashed to rev up the agonizing cliff-hangers in the waning episodes, powered the inherently heart-rending conflicts.

The series allowed the viewers gravitate to its story and characters even with its bleak milieu; a feat typically not achieved for melodramas which thread on plot development of incessant disheartening problems targeting the lead characters.

Credit to the proper placement of the tried-and-tested plot twists, it became defining moments for the lead characters and the oeuvre itself.

Quick-witted Cast

Minimalist in its design, the narrative shifts gathered sensible resolutions to the conflicts owing to its stellar cast.

The small-numbered cast achieved enough time to have shining moments in their roles prior to the focus on the intertwining fate of the love pairing, which highlighted the main point of the story.

Seo and Jung might have the most painful love journey this year in K-Dramaland, but it did not mean less special, because theirs was one of the most beautiful romance stories witnessed not just this year, but all time.

They certainly did not do something new from all the love pairs we have met, but their fictional romance wafted an extraordinary and realistic love.

Park Sung Woong provided a solid support in how he led the audience to believe that he was a pseudo-villain. His crazy connection to the lead couple made me want to hug him in the dying seconds of the story when all that he was trying to protect was lost.

Resonating Screenplay

Such eloquence in sequencing the development of characters was displayed in a consistent  forlorn tone. Past the midpoint of the series, the unveiling of climactic points felt like ticking time bomb, that I was half-dreading and half-anticipating Moo Young’s back story.

The way the relationships were building up and falling apart with Moo Young as the central figure, interestingly kept the curiosity abound to revelations that were unfolded in the series.

The last four episodes sprinted to unravel layers of misfortune that would test how strong the viewer’s heart is.

In some way, the biting reality was made extra tormenting by the thought of a happy ending that might not come true for Moo Young and Jin Kang.

Still, the faithful followers have reached that point of accepting the bittersweet send-off to one of the bravest love couples who graced 2018 K-Drama landscape.

Series Afterthoughts

Seo In Guk is a gift in this drama; coupled with Jung So Min, and I got my K-Drama life-affirming treat this year through their story.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes put me on that realization on how I underestimated melodramas to be just relying on tears and series of unfortunate events to whirl its narrative.

If given proper treatment, even with bare setting along with essential conflicts and characters, it can paint an idyllic picture that goes back to one of the fundamental goals of storytelling — providing clear inspiration to its viewers.

No matter how privileged or sheltered someone’s life might have been, experiencing life difficulties is inevitable to prove that you are really living.

Seo, who played the role of “the man who has lost the smile in his eyes” left lingering impressions on how we should not give up on people who are dear to us, who seemed hopeless on the life course they are taking.

Most often than not, they are just needing a Jin Kang in their lives, who can pull them out from caving in so they can share their fears and dreams.


All photos from tvN drama Facebook page.

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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.

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