Uncontrollably Fond (also known as Lightly, Ardently) is a romance melodrama about a popular star (Kim Woo Bin) and a documentary producer (Suzy) who knew each other as teenagers, but were separated. The two are reunited many years later after secrets from their past begin to surface and the star is given only months to live.
Well, count me as completely surprised at just how much I loved Uncontrollably Fond! Of course, I was hoping I would enjoy it, but I entered in a bit cautiously. I love the writer of the drama, but I’ve always been more neutral towards the leads.
But it turned out to be just my style of melodrama. I enjoyed all of the characters and was genuinely interested in their individual stories and how they related to the bigger picture. All of the supporting characters are important, and they helped create a rich, in depth world.
I absolutely love it when everyone is connected to each other through secrets and tragedies. All of the characters lives are intertwined, and we get to watch as the lies and secrets come to light one by one. It all creates such a lovely tension!
The drama has a wonderful soundtrack that really set the mood for the drama and easily stirred up my emotions. The cinematography is really great too with so many absolutely gorgeous scenes throughout the drama.
We have Kim Woo Bin as leading man Shin Joon Young. I’ve never disliked Kim Woo Bin, but I’ve just not cared much for him. I’ve never been drawn to his characters and usually found them more on the obnoxious side.
But let me tell you, I really really liked him in Uncontrollably Fond! He definitely still has that signature cocky charm, but I thought his character was much more likable and had so much more depth.
Once we get passed that brash personality, Joon Young had this softness to him that is both sad and childlike. Kim Woo Bin delivered so much depth and emotion in his portrayal of Joon Young. I could really feel his pain over the tremendous guilt he was experiencing as well as his passion for Eul. He really moved me on so many occasions.
But that childlike part of him really allowed us to see what a tender heart he had. And when he flashes a genuinely happy grin, his face just lights up, and dare I say he’s even a bit swoon worthy? Gasp!
Suzy plays our documentary producer No Eul. I’ve also been sort of neutral towards Suzy in the past, but mostly I’ve found her pleasant enough. And I thought she fit the character of No Eul very well. No Eul has a bad reputation because she will do anything for money because she is poor and wants a good life for her brother.
But she is strong willed and has a certain charisma that I enjoyed. A character like Eul can sometimes come off as very unlikable, but I felt Suzy portrayed her in a way in which I could always understand her motivations and just wanted to see her happy. I was completely pleased with Suzy in this role.
And I ended up really enjoying Kim Woo Bin and Suzy as a couple. They each have a strong presence that really made their bickering quite fun. With one obstacle after another coming between them, they share plenty of intense scenes that really draws you into their relationship.
Then there are these subtle moments where they soften and you can really see the sweet chemistry with this couple. Their love story is a roller coaster of emotions, but I never doubted their love for each other.
We have Choi Ji Tae (Im Joo Hwan) as your nice and likable second lead. He deeply cares for No Eul, but circumstances have prevented him from ever really being with her. He’s that character who is caught in the middle of everyone else’s lies which lands him in an awkward position on many levels. Im Joo Hwan was fantastic in this role, and he really brought this character to life.
Yoon Jung Eun (Im Joo Eun) is the woman who sets everyone’s problems in motion when she kills Eul’s father in a hit and run accident. This rich girl is spoiled and has no sense of remorse or responsibility. She’s a hard character to deal with, but Im Joo Eun plays her perfectly with an intensity that makes her completely memorable.
Ji Tae and Jung Eun’s have had a strained relationship for years. Their parents are preparing to have them be married, but Jung Eun’s selfish personality just drives Ji Tae farther and farther away.
The woman Ji Tae really loves is Eul. At first, his guilt over what his family has done to her pushes him to become a friend and helper to her. He longs to be more, but that same guilt tells him that he doesn’t deserve her. These two had a great dynamic between them, and I really enjoyed their relationship.
Joon Young’s father is the source of a great heartache for both him and Eul. Having grown up not knowing him, Joon Young longed to become a prosecutor like his father. But after he learns the terrible truth that he covered up Eul’s father’s hit and run, he is overcome with guilt and comes to despise his father.
Joon Young’s mother, Shin Young Ok (Jin Kyung), was a multi-dimensional character. Having had to raise him alone, she wanted him to become a prosecutor like his father. But when he chooses a different path, she has a nearly impossible time supporting him.
It was difficult watching just how unsupportive she was of Joon Young. And it was made even worse that she did all of this while she was unaware he was dying. I just wanted her to show him how much she cared because she really did love him.
How I loved watching all of these characters and got completely swept up in their stories. I felt their joys as well as their pain and sadness. We really got to know each of them and while their actions weren’t always good, we were able to clearly understand their motivations.
I didn’t personally have any issues with the drama, but I thought I would give a little heads up for anyone considering watching it. It is definitely a melodrama. Don’t be fooled by the early episodes that have a somewhat lighter tone to balance things out. Things become progressively more angsty and melodramatic as the drama progresses.
Also, Joon Young and Eul have a very tumultuous relationship. If you’re looking for a sweeping romance with lots of lovey dovey moments, Uncontrollably Fond is not that kind of drama. One horrible event after another seems to constantly get in their paths and prevent any chance of a real relationship. The couple doesn’t get a lot of time to really be together.
But at the heart of Uncontrollably Fond is one man’s dedication to getting justice for the woman he loves no matter the cost. While they don’t have a typical relationship, his love is the driving force behind everything he does and that truly makes for a memorable romance.
ENDING SPOILERS BELOW
Joon Young feels such tremendous guilt over what his father did to Eul when they were teenagers and what he himself ended up doing to her in order to cover things up. That guilt keeps him separated from Eul for years. And when they re-enter each others lives, that guilt drives him to bring the truth to light.
And how heartbreaking it is that as he only has limited time before he dies, he gives up his happiness of being with her in the short term in order to get justice. It devastates him that he is hurting Eul in order to accomplish his plans, but he knows he will be gone soon and would rather bring justice for her and give her a stable future.
It’s a long road to the truth. But in the end, Joon Young achieves his goal. While Joon Young’s father goes to terrible lengths to prevent the truth from coming out, once his condition is revealed and his father’s wife does something despicable, his father finally realizes he can no longer live that way and reveals the truth.
It’s heartbreaking watching Joon Young’s final goodbyes with his father and mother. With his memory fading, those final conversations were bittersweet. But at least his father finally took responsibility for his crimes, and his mother finally really showed Joon Young how much she loved him.
Ji Tae even has a moving goodbye with Joon Young. These two would-be brothers definitely had a strained a relationship from the very beginning, but Ji Tae came to admire Joon Young for doing what he was unable to bring himself to do.
And Ji Tae even gave Jung Eun a few words of advice as she sat in prison for her part in everything. And while she still lashed out, he hadn’t completely abandoned her. He let her know that if she paid for her crimes, he would be there waiting for her when she got out.
With everything finally set right, Joon Young was able to enjoy his final days with the love of his life, Eul. She took care of him, they played, they laughed, and they just got to finally be together. It was both joyful and sad to watch them finally get to be a couple. And how fitting that he took his final breath resting his head upon her shoulder.
All in all, Uncontrollably Fond was an amazing ride! The characters were so rich and full all the way from the main characters down to the supporting ones. The intricate web of lies that connected everyone made for a tension filled story that left me always wanting me more.
I enjoyed each and every relationship and was never bored for one second of the drama. Joon Young’s passion for Eul was complicated and didn’t always produce the sweetest results, but I never doubted his love for her and that dedication was at the center of a remarkable tale of love and redemption.
My Rating: 9/10
Click here for more Kdrama Reviews.
Sign Up to receive email updates of kdrama reviews, casting news, trailers, and more.