Fall Hits: The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Chances are if you’re in touch with the K-Drama world, you have at least heard of The Smile Has Left Your Eyes in passing. News of the drama began to spread early when it was confirmed that big-name actors Seo Inguk and Jung Somin had been cast in the lead roles. What you may not know about this drama is that it is a remake of a Japanese story of the same title. However, some fans thought the Korean writers might not follow the original storyline and branch off with their own interpretation, which we see fairly regularly with remakes.
Why is this piece of information important? Well, this drama is not going to be the feel-good love story with light romance that some fans prefer. On the contrary—this drama is incredibly heavy and definitely not for the faint of heart.
The drama opens with a TV interview of a psychiatrist promoting his book, a character that will become incredibly significant later but is nothing more than ambiguous at the moment. The scene pans out to the present scene where the TV is on, a death scene currently being investigated. Heavy start for what appears to be a romance story, right? The psychologist mentions a boy who changed his life before the scene shifts to Kim Mooyoung (Seo Inguk) at his job in a brewery, alluding to the possibility of him being the aforementioned boy.
Back at the police scene, we meet Yoo Jingook (Park Sungwoong), who showed up to learn more about the case, which is ruled an apparent suicide. Jingook is the older brother of our heroine Yoo Jinkang (Jung Somin), and the two are revealed to be meeting at a friend’s art exhibition. The friend is Baek Seungah, Jinkang’s closest friend who comes from a very wealthy family, and who is engaged to Jang Woosung, an arranged engagement as we find out later.
Mooyoung ends up at this event with the whole crew, since he works at the brewery that is catering the event. VIXX’s Hongbin also makes an appearance in the first half of the drama as No Heejoon, a close friend of Mooyoung. The atmosphere surrounding each character is particularly dark and daunting, at least for everyone but Jinkang. Seungah reveals in a discussion with Woosung that this is not her personal art exhibit, but one staged in order to appear to be hers. Mooyoung happens to overhear this conversation, setting into motion his first interaction with Seungah and his eventual ability to woo her.
Later on we are introduced to other major player Im Yoori (Go Minsi), a psychologically disturbed girl obsessed with Mooyoung after he stops her from committing suicide. As events begin to unfold, the suicide case becoming a murder case, Jingook begins to suspect Mooyoung as the murderer and does all he can to prevent him from even hovering around Jinkang’s stratosphere. But when fate is in play, how much control does this overprotective brother really have?
The story contains elements of just about everything horrible and angst-ridden in this world—murder, death, apparent psychosis, cheating and lying, generally horrible chaebol things, stabbings, ambiguous intentions, tragic love lines… I could go on. But pretty much anything seen as terrible is guaranteed to happen at some point in this story. Sounds fun right?
What makes the drama incredibly addicting is the mystery and ambiguity surrounding Kim Mooyoung. From the start it’s hard to tell just exactly what kind of person he is, and the viewer waffles back and forth between trying to decide whether or not he is actually a good person. For a good portion of the drama, I was also convinced he was in fact the murderer Jingook was desperately searching for. Having a protagonist with decidedly antagonistic traits is not something we are used to seeing in such stories, and that’s what keeps it interesting. By the time you discover the truth, you’re already totally emotionally invested in how the story will play out.
If you’re interested in watching the series and don’t want the ending revealed, stop reading here and go check it out for yourself!
MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
The Japanese version of this drama did not end well. In fact, the story tragically concludes with Mooyoung discovering that Jinkang is his biological sister, adding a twisted element of incest to the romance line. If you’re anything like me, this makes you incredibly uncomfortable. I personally have struggled dealing with dramas that have the element of incest in which the main leads believe they are blood related but the viewer knows that’s not the case, so the possibility of the Korean version of the story ending with legitimate incest present made me squirm.
I unfortunately ran across this spoiler very early on in my viewing of the drama, but kept pushing through hoping that the Korean writers wouldn’t bring the story to that. All signs pointed to me being wrong, until the second to last episode. While that plot line is settled well, that certainly didn’t guarantee a happy ending, and if you’re in for that you’re definitely going to be let down. Grab a box of tissues and prepare your emotions for this one—while the drama is beautifully done, it’s a difficult one to swallow.