What Happened in Bali (or Something Happened in Bali) is about a struggling travel agent (Ha Ji Won) in Bali who gets caught up in a complicated love square with a wealthy heir (Jo In Sung), his fiancé (Park Ye Jin), and the fiancé’s former lover (So Ji Sub).
Ha Ji Won is Lee Soo Jung who is a travel agent in Bali. She has had a hard life trying to get by. She meets three people who she takes on a tour and gets involved in their lives which is further complicated when she reunites with them in Seoul.
Jo In Sung plays Jung Jae Min. He is wealthy and works at his family’s business. He is selfish, immature, and does not get along with his fiancé. When he takes an interest in Soo Jung, he finds himself creating more problems for everyone.
Park Ye Jin is Choi Young Joo. She is Jae Min’s fiancé but can’t stand him. She longs to be with her former lover In Wook, but the class divide has separated them due to her wanting to marry a wealthy man.
So Ji Sub is Kang In Wook. He comes from a poor background and used to date Young Joo. She left him for Jae Min, but they continue to share complicated feelings for each other that only get more complicated after he meets Soo Jung.
I headed back to 2004 for some classic old-school melo antics, and I got that in spades with What Happened in Bali! You all know that something I love about older dramas is the atmosphere, and this drama nails it. The way it’s shot, the clothes, and those longing stares set to a handful of amazing songs that are played repeatedly each episode. I love it! The soundtrack in this series is really fantastic.
Probably a better plot description for this drama would be that it is about four miserable people who make each other more miserable. Honestly, the drama is very dramatic, but in a cheesy sort of way. It is very serious and these people go through one crappy thing after another, but the soapy way it is presented is just fun. It is incredibly engaging with swift pacing that moves things right along. The show maintained my interest from start to finish.
We also get some very youthful versions of actors like Jo In Sung, Ha Ji Won, So Ji Sub, and Park Ye Jin. They look so young here! It was very fun to see these early roles from some of these iconic actors. Jo In Sung puts forth a particularly impressive and memorable performance.
Now, this kind of drama is definitely just for fans of old-school melos. It is filled to the brim with tropes and cliches of the time, but it executes them in such an enticing way. Some may find it difficult to watch, particularly how Soo Jung is treated by pretty much everyone around her. This is a hardcore melo though, and it’s pretty clear that all of the relationships are unhealthy and destructive.
And the romance, if you want to call it that, is complicated and messy. Soo Jung has had a pretty bad life. She’s a decent person, but in order to survive and make money, she will do what she has to, even if it means compromising her morals.
Her relationship with Jae Min is a hot mess with both parties kind of using the other one with a weird mix of feelings involved. No matter how bad he obviously is for her, a small part of her feels for him, and she works hard to repress that. For many reasons, she stays entangled in the destructive force that is Jae Min.
Jae Min is very immature, has a temper, and likes Soo Jung in that possessive and stalkerish kind of way. He does a lot to help her, but he doesn’t treat her very well to her face. You know, one of those extremely jerky kind of drama guys. He’s got a heart in there coupled with a terrible family situation, but his actions make it hard to root for him. We get a front row seat to watch him go off the deep end and spiral out of control.
In Wook on the other hand is calm, controlled, and kind of robotic. He is nice to Soo Jung, but his bad communication with her creates a lot of issues for the both of them. He also definitely wants to stick it to Jae Min, and the two have both a company as well as a twofold romantic rivalry.
Young Joo is torn between her feelings for In Wuk and wanting to marry Jae Min for his status. Then when they both start paying attention to Soo Jung, she finds herself clinging to both guys. Talk about a mess of a situation!
The drama does have humor sprinkled throughout which lightens up and otherwise more serious show. Like I said, I found its soapy, over-dramatic style pretty humorous, so I personally didn’t feel the intended heaviness of the drama.
It is pretty heavy though, so others may find it kind of depressing. The tears flow like a constant river and the sounds of anguished sobs ring out all through the night. The themes are dark and more mature, the characters are morally grey, and there are plenty of complex issues to wrap your mind around.
Now, something What Happened is Bali is famous for is its shocking ending. Luckily, I managed to stay unspoiled despite its fame. I was really hoping for something that would live up to the hype, and I must say, I was very satisfied with it. A lot of people might not be though.
MAJOR ENDING SPOILERS BELOW (Beware Pics)
*If you plan to watch this drama, it is highly recommend to skip this section
Whew! That was quite the ride! After watching these four people descend into misery and chaos for 20 episodes, we reach the big ending. Jae Min had been slowly losing it as his obsession with Soo Jung grew and consumed his life. Things got pretty bad for her.
Luckily, In Wook’s big plan to take a huge sum of money from Jae Min’s company worked. After all of the horrible things she went through in Seoul and then growing close with In Wook, Soo Jung agreed to disappear with him to Bali to start a new life together and get away from the chaos.
In Wook gets one over on Jae Min in a big way. Then Jae Min is falsely led to believe that Soo Jung was in on In Wook’s plan the whole time and only approached him as part of that plan. That ultimately seals all of their fates.
Jae Min goes completely off the deep end. He heads to Bali where he tracks down Soo Jung and In Wook. The two seem to have a happy life, and that is what he sees. But lying in bed, In Wook and Soo Jung have a heart to heart.
He knows she is still not happy even with their seemingly perfect life. She admits that she is not, and that even though she had tried her hardest, she had given her heart to Jae Min. The two were sad over this, but In Wook gave her his blessing for her to return to Korea.
Enter Jae Min. He enters their bedroom armed with a gun and first shoots In Wook and then proceeds to shoot Soo Jung. In Wook immediately dies as Soo Jung lays in their bed covered in blood, gasping in pain.
Jae Min comes back to his senses at the sight and runs to her completely distraught over what he had done. And the last words Soo Jung utters to him are, “I love you.” Then she dies. Now even more distraught, Jae Min goes to a beautiful beach at sunset where he sobs and then proceeds to kill himself with the gun.
Ah, the irony. After everything Jae Min had put Soo Jung through, she loved him. She tried to love In Wook and do what was best for her, but she wasn’t happy. And just as she had decided to return to Jae Min, he shows up and kills her, In Wook, and eventually himself.
So, as I said, I liked the ending. The whole drama focused on the tragedy of these characters, and it really was just one tragedy after another. After all of the pain and chaos, it was very fitting for it to end as a double murder and suicide. No happiness to be found for these people. And the big ending definitely lived up to the hype for me.
END OF SPOILERS
What Happened in Bali was a crazy and chaotic ride that was filled with greed, tears, and misery. Emotions run high as these four people bring pain and heartache to each other. I loved the old school melo feel, and it completely delivered everything I love about this genre. It’s not a drama for everyone, but for those who like this style, What Happened in Bali nails it.
My Rating: 9/10
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