When Jealousy Incarnate’s first promo came out, my reaction was ‘who would want to watch this?’ The production value of the show looked poor, the main hero did not look that great and even with Gong Hyo Jin I didn’t think it could be good. But mahn how wrong I was!! My pathetic instinct failed me as always. A few episodes after the show was launched I read some great reviews online and was surprised to know that the show was not just romantic but rib-ticklingly hilarious to the extent that you fall off your chair laughing. Now, super-curious, I watched the first episode and I was like, ‘What’s so great about this?’ then I watched the second episode and then the third, the fourth, the fifth and then I smacked my head for judging a book by its cover or in this case a drama by it’s poster. I did not even watch the first episode and dismissed the show for its lack of visual appeal.
Jealousy Incarnate/ Don’t Dare To Dream (2016)
Jealousy Incarnate is a 24 episode long South Korean Drama. Pyo Na Ri (Gong Hyo Jin) is a weather forecaster working on a temporary basis with news channel SBC. Pyo Na Ri has no connections with higher up’s and struggles to win a permanent position with the news channel. One day at work, she bumps into news reporter and anchor Lee Hwa Shin (Jo Jung Suk) and instantly falls in love with him. Hwa Shin, however, is a rich arrogant brat and has no feelings for Pyo Na Ri. He leaves no opportunity to humiliate and scold Pyo Na Ri. But despite his mean behaviour Pyo Na Ri continues to crush on him. Her one-sided love meets a roadblock when Hwa Shin’s best friend Go Jung Won (Go Kyung Pyo) shows interest in Pyo Na Ri. Hwa Shin initially supports the pair but later finds it difficult to contain his own jealousy of seeing his friend madly in love with the woman who once adored him. He then decides to win her love back and steal his friend’s girlfriend.
Let’s weigh this funny drama on our show beam balance and see if you should dare watch.
Jo Jung Suk: This man’s acting is just out of this wurrrrrld!! I don’t know how this actor manages to deliver funniest of dialogues with such a straight face. 85% of the drama you will see him throwing tantrums like a little child, but he does it with such sincerity that it does not look childish at all. Moments when he desperately tries to convince Pyo Na Ri to pick him over Jung Won are so amusing that I laugh even when I remember it (even as I write about it). Jung Suk is certainly an extremely talented actor with astounding comic timing.
He also is also known for his on-screen kissing talent, something that I can vouch for. Each time there was a kiss in an episode there would be a barrage of his kissing videos on my Instagram feed. The show’s TRP’s would see a spike with each kiss. Almost all Korean rom-coms have kissing scenes but not all appeal to the viewers because it requires talent to deliver a passionate kiss with conviction and Jung Suk seems to have mastered this art. Full marks for his flawless acting (and kisses) in this drama.
Gong Hyo Jin: The only reason I even considered watching this drama was Gong Hyo Jin. The first Korean drama I ever watched was It’s Okay, It’s Love, and she was fab in that. After reading about her I learnt that she is known to pick unconventional scripts. If, Hyo Jin is in a drama then be rest assured that the drama will definitely have a good script with an exceptional storyline. And, she did not disappoint me. If Jung Suk was good, it was mostly because Hyo Jin was a good match for him.
She can mouth cheesiest of dialogues with such ease that you won’t cringe at them. She gets into the skin of a character so effortlessly that it is hard not to be convinced with her. In the last drama, I saw of hers, she played a confident and arrogant doctor and here she plays a wannabe TV announcer who is treated like crap by the man she loves dearly. Her body language and facial expressions are fantabulous. Take a look at this particular scene where Hwa Shin tells her he has been holding back his feelings for her for some reason and see the change in her facial expressions. She cries like a baby.
Mind Blasting Chemistry: Hyo Jin’s chemistry with Jung Suk is fiery and palpable. Their kiss in the hospital changing room hijacked my Insta feed the day the episode was telecast. Viewers went crazy over that hot passionate kiss and so did I. 😉
Their fights and bickering were so endearing that they were arguing even in the finale episode. I really enjoyed seeing them fight and then makeup. Not the perfect OTP but definitely the most entertaining pair.
Melodious Soundtracks: The music of this show was so apropos to its overall comic theme with some fun inducing tracks that would have me in splits. But my favourite is ‘Bye, Autumn’ by Saltnpepper. The music and the lyrics were so apt for melancholic scenes that I found it hard to believe the track wasn’t specially written for the drama.
Bad Boy Glory: [[Spoiler]] In the drama we have two men fighting over one girl. Of the two boys, one boy is cute, charming, and chivalrous while the other guy is arrogant, misogynist, and rude. Can you guess which one will the girl fall for? Well, the second one. Jung Won falls in love with Pyo Na Ri the moment he first sees her. He treats her well, expresses his love for her in every way possible, makes time for her despite his busy schedule, goes out of his way to make her happy, and convinces his mom to accept her. But despite all that, she still crushes over Hwa Shin who ill-treats her, insults her, undermines her capabilities and basically does everything that would make you hate a person. She somehow overlooks all of Hwa Shin’s shortcomings and picks him over Jung Won. Why? Why? WHY? Why do all drama heroines have to pick jerks over genuine guys? This sends such a wrong message that women like men who treat them like shit. Argh! I wonder if I will ever get to see a drama where the girl picks the nicer guy over a brat.[[Spoiler]]
Aww and Wow moments
Episode 4: When Pyo Na Ri discovers the truth that Hwa Shin is suffering from breast cancer, she starts weeping uncontrollably. Now I don’t know if it was a serious scene or a sad one but I really found it funny and couldn’t stop laughing. Especially when she says, “of all the cancers you had to get breast cancer” What? Hhahahahaa… Gong Hyo Jin woman you are such a brilliant actress.
Episode 7: Afraid that Pyo Na Ri might show his embarrassing video to someone, Hwa Shin tries to snatch the phone from her and both of them start fighting (physically) over it. Na Ri and Hwa Shin look like siblings fighting for the TV remote. The two actors share a good rapport in real life, which is why their struggle in the scene looks so natural and well-acted.
Episode 8: Ppal Gang’s mothers Sung Sook and Ja Young fight their way to Ppal Gang’s house. These women are crazy! This is neither and aww or wow scene but plain hahahahah scene.
Episode 9: This is a certified awww…..scene. Jung Won staying up all night for Na Ri and making tea for her in the morning. He is such a great boyfriend. Why can’t Na Ri see that? She is surprised to see someone caring so much for her. And even as she is pretending to sleep there is a smile on her face that Jung Won doesn’t notice, which is so cute.
Episode 11: Hwa Shin reminiscing how Na Ri used to stalk him and how he’d ward her off. He remembers an instance in an elevator where his colleagues are pulling his leg urging him to date a mediocre girl like her and she suddenly shows up. She enters the lift and praises him while his colleagues are stifling their laughter. Frustrated, he asks her if she likes him. She is stunned at the unexpected question. He motions her to say no and mocks her in front of his friends. Na Ri feels humiliated and tears pool in her eyes. In the same frame, you see Hwa Shin crying in his current situation repenting his rude behaviour towards Na Ri. This is scene is edited so seamlessly I just had to mention it here. I loved the smooth transition that linked the past and present of Hwa Shin.
Episode 12: Jun Pyo and Hwa Shin fighting in a muddy pit. That background music and the two men were just bang on! I was laughing my head out. It is a little insensitive as you can see Hwa Shin’s discomfort owing to his surgery but somehow the director made the whole sequence so funny that you just cannot help overlook that one important point.
Episode 15: Hwa Shin imploring Pyo Na Ri to tell him who she prefers between Jung Won and him. Oh God!! Hwa Shin appears obnoxious and haughty most of the time but in such moments he looks like a little child trying to become the teacher’s pet. It is silly but funny. He feels so confused with Pyo Na Ri’s behaviour that he blabbers on and on and on. All he wants to know is who she like better, him or Jun Pyo. Hwa Shinaaaa!!
Episode 17: Hwa Shin takes Pyo Na Ri to meet his ex-girlfriend hoping to hear her say how much she loved Hwa Shin and how she regrets leaving him. However, his ex-girlfriend only laments how bad a boyfriend Hwa Shin was and how she had a tough time with him. Her rant on Hwa Shin and his annoying habits is hilarious.
Episode 22: Hwa Shin does a news item on spreading awareness of breast cancer in men. Actor Jung Suk did a fabtastic job! For me, the scene wasn’t written that well because I felt they could have added some more facts and figures to it. However, Jung Suk’s performance was good enough to lift the scene and give it life.
The show should have been named ‘Hilarity Incarnate’ because it is that freaking HILARIOUS. The show makers have presented fights, deadly ailments, infidelity, asexuality, competition, and every serious topic in a light and humorous way. And they have done it so well, you will forget that these are actually serious issues. The show starts slow but when it catches on you will find yourself holding your belly aching with pain from laughing aloud.
I give this funny show 4.5 out 5 rating. Jealousy Incarnate is the perfect example of why Korean dramas are worth watching. I would recommend this show to everyone. It is a classic rom-com worth every minute of yours.