Sunday, January 25, 2015

Drama Review: Pinocchio (2014)

Korean Title: 피노키오
English Title: Pinocchio
Rating: 8/10
Main Cast:
Lee Jong Suk as Ki Ha Myung/Choi Dal Po
Park Shin Hye as Choi In Ha
Kim Young Kwang as Seo Bum Jo
Lee Yoo Bi as Yoon Yoo Rae

The Plot:
A group of rookie reporters at different news stations get entangled with news, passion, aspiration, and revenge rolled into one and bad-not-so-bad villains ready to tackle down their every attempts to report honest news. Oh, and the romance between adoptive uncle and his niece who can’t lie.

“Journalism 101 that filled with humor, honesty, friendship, familial love and romance.”

Writing this review is a bit hard for me because it’s a bit hard writing coherent paragraphs after watching 20 episodes and say good bye to the characters. I personally don’t have many issues with this drama, instead, I wish I could just write the best things I’ve been watched.

Journalism is hot topic for dramas these days and at least there are 2 other dramas with similar theme and backdrop during Pinocchio’s airing, “Greatest Marriage” and “Healer”. Suddenly reporters become very cool job in dramaland and I do appreciate it since I myself have involved in journalism in real life. SO at least I do know how the feelings of real reporters when chasing down the subject and interviewing people. “Pinocchio” covers the journalism and reporters story pretty good and close to real life, though of course there are exaggerated bits and eye-roll moments.
I really like the fact that the drama is all about honesty and justice and how a band of reporters willingly investigate and report only the truth. It helps when your heroine has Pinocchio syndrome, a (non-actual) syndrome that will make the carrier hiccup when they lie. In dramaland, where lies and hidden secrets are abound, our heroine, Choi In Ha (Park Shin Hye) can’t lie even to save her life. She also will get hiccups if she thinks something untrue or she doesn’t believe what she think is true. Actually, the Pinocchio syndrome itself is a great tool to ensure her and people around her always fight for the truth. In the end, she’a also one of the driving force to make everyone says and believe in the truth. The drama also doesn’t forget to include revenge storyline and even introduces some grey characters and evil baddies for the heroes to fight against. It also challenges journalism to its core, especially in Korea. Would we only report happy news or must see news? Would media be able to report the truth and not influenced by the riches? In the grand scheme of things, the message of the drama is to always deliver the truth, even if it’s painful, than try to hide it because the truth will come out eventually. As Hwang Gyo Dong said, “No matter how you try to hide it, the truth always has a way of coming out.”
I would be forever grateful that “Pinocchio” is a good drama in my book and a great drama for Lee Jong Suk to wipe the remains of Dr.Stranger disaster. Sure, I would still wonder what if Kim Woo Bin is the male lead instead but actually I can’t imagine any other actor act as Dal Po. The character seems tailor-made for Lee Jong Suk, especially coming from “I Hear Your Voice” writer, the drama that propelled Lee Jong Suk into capable leading man territory. Dal Po is Lee Jong Suk, vice versa. Choi Dal Po is a man we can always admire. He’s earnest, optimist, strong-willed and to top it all, love his family above anything else. On some occasions, I wish I could smack him because his (noble) idiocy but most of the time I just wish I could cuddle him and bring him home. Especially when he’s drunk after realize his idiocy. Such a cutie is impossible to resist!
Lee Jong Suk also brings out the best of his co-star Park Shin Hye. She, who always ridiculed for her kissing ability or lack thereof, able to create wonderful chemistry with Lee Jong Suk. I think her haters can rest for a while now that Park Shin Hye finally can kiss and initate appropriate amount of skinships. This drama also reminds me what Park Shin Hye can do when given the right character and the right drama. She shines brightly in “Pinocchio” whether in comedic or heart-breaking scenes. She proves to herself and to us, viewers, we can enjoy her acting comfortably. Her character, Choi In Ha, maybe her best character to date. Choi In Ha who can’t lie must face the world full of lies and people who always lie if it’s for their benefit. When she wants to prove herself she wants to be reporter, I pretty much cheering her for taking the difficult path and going against odds. In my opinion, she’s pretty much the driving force of this drama. Her inability to lie paired with strong sense of justice make her a fantastic character. Therefore whether it’s romance or work, she would always try her best to stay true to her feelings and honesty, sparing ourselves from unnecessary angst. It’s the combination of sweet, sassy and funny that makes In Ha one of my favorite heroines. I know the writer definitely can write strong female character based on her last drama, but to make Park Shin Hye lovable for a whole drama is a different feat. Kudos to the writer and Park Shin Hye!
Speaking of OTP, there’s nice intense chemistry between Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye and it made me instantly love this couple. Dal Po and In Ha OTP is one of the most important factors in this drama. There are really likeable since the beginning that even though they’re technically and legally uncle and niece during the rest of the story I don’t feel the ick factor. Their love, without saying, is one of the sweetest and beautiful in Korean dramas. They wonderfully complement each other and even challenge each other. They also even walk to noble idiocy route, but thanks God they quickly resolve their problems. Their biggest problem is not about status or money, but more about family. Whether they will stand strong and make it together against the opposition from family members. I was completely enthralled by this OTP that I wish they would work together again. (Speaking of LJS and PSH pairing, it’s actually my dream since few years ago to see them together in a drama. I’m glad they finally paired to be a couple and the result is fantastic!)
As for the second leads, I find Kim Young Kwang and Lee Yoo Bi is wasted and underused. The drama could spend some time to develop their characters early on, alas it’s only manage to squeeze their screen time in between the leads and the conflict. Kim Young Kwang as Seo Bum Jo and Lee Yoo Bi as Yoon Yoo Rae feel like every other second leads the first time they appear. I’m glad at least their characterization is different from standard nice second male lead and bitchy second female lead. I just wish they would have more complere character trajectory, like Bum Jo to find a new girl or Yoo Rae and Gyo Dong dating each other (because seriously they are cute!).
“Pinocchio” also has a bunch of wonderful supporting characters on the news stations like In Ha’s mom, like Gyo Dong, Gong Joo, Il Joo, Jae Hwan, Hyun Kyu, their directors/managers/team leaders, Chan Soo and their family, etc. The show did good job to make everyone shines and still gives some funny comedy as they embody the lives of South Korean reporters and media, especially the criminal reporters. The conflict and competition between YGN and MSC teams are always a joy to watch because everyone acts very well and makes believable job to transform as reporters. While Grandpa and In Ha’s Dad is the best family we can ever hope in kdramas. They never judge or force In Ha and Dal Po, instead they always try to understand them and still love them unconditionally.
There are 3 main villains in this drama, Ki Jae Myung, Song Cha Ok, and Park Ro Sa (Chairman Park). Every villain has humane side to them and it’s not as simple as black and white to categorize the villains here. They’re in grey areas and it makes the watching experience even more interesting. Sure, they’re villains, but they’re not completely pure evil with no slight hope towards repentance. One slight note is how the drama actually went downhill after Ki Jae Myung aka hyung goes to jail. Even after the real villains are out, it’s not enough to sustain the conflict and suspense the drama had early on. It’s like the writer figures out, “what if Min Joon Gook (IHYV) is understood and not completely beyond darkness” then writes half-ass villains that have 2 opposite sides like flipping coin, a very nice side and the evil side. It’s just small wish that the writer could utilize the villains a bit better and the drama maintain the suspense until the end.
On the other hand, “Pinocchio” also has some mistakes and flaws. First, the amount of coincidences in this drama is ridiculous. The drama seems just practicing six degrees of separation theory out of gate and making everyone and their mothers connected in this dramaverse. Second, the inconsistencies on Pinocchio syndrome. I still try to find the logical explanaton of this unique syndrome and how In Ha gained it. Or is the syndrome only convenient plot device for the writer? Third, the plot itself that looks like a rehash from “I Hear Your Voice” reporter version. I find the drama looks eerily similar to IHYV and it distracts me a bit to appreciate the drama on its own.

All in all, it’s not a perfect drama but a drama that wins my heart. And that says a lot!

Pictures credit: SBS, Dramabeans, Pinocchio soompi


  1. Firstly, are you really a journalist? That is so cool!
    No wonder you have great writing skill :)

    And secondly, how do you know that I am one of Park Shin Hye haters because of her poor kissing scene?..hehehe..

    but you right, I need more love line between Yo Rae and the Cap.
    And our 2nd lead male should have a new girl because he is so brave.

  2. Thanks for visiting my humble blog!!
    I'm not a journalist, but live and once worked closely with them :)

  3. I really really liked Pinocchio. A real good effort . This is what I call a perfect cast. Every actor in Pinocchio stands out and shines. I really liked the fact that a kdrama was made on such an important issue and I hope people have learnt something from it . Because this is exactly how the media works and those reporters are not given a chance who only want to say the truth . I really want to meet the cast n crew of pinocchio to praise and appreciate them hopefully one day I might get lucky and get to meet them :)