The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) was riding a wave of triumph earlier this year after they aired Descendants of the Sun. The accomplishments made and accolades earned for the K-drama are a testament to is popularity. It was the most ambitious K-drama ever created by KBS at the time which includes filming the majority of the series in Greece. It was also the most expensive K-drama sold to China at the time in which KBS reaped the benefits.
Include the K-drama’s excellent direction, interesting plot, and phenomenal acting — especially the leads, Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo — Descendants of the Sun became the best series to air so far this year. During one particular scene, it registered more than 40 percent in viewership. This sudden spike caused the K-drama community to wonder if Descendants of the Sun would reach a threshold in popularity last seen in The Moon Embracing The Sun. It did not beat the popular 2012 period drama, but it still earned an average viewership rating of about 29 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area and 27 percent for the nation, a high enough viewership rating for KBS to reward fans with a three-part special.
Eventually, Descendants of the Sun concluded but KBS wanted to continue riding high on the wave of success. They thought they could do it with Uncontrollably Fond, a love story K-drama starring Kim Woo Bin and Bae Suzy. Sadly, Uncontrollably Fond crashed and burned. What’s worse, Uncontrollably Fond just might become the biggest failure of 2016.
Uncontrollably Fond, which is also known as Lightly, Ardently, stars Kim Woo Bin and Bae Suzy. It is about Shin Joon Young (Woo Bin) and No Eul (Suzy), a couple who were separated during their teenage years due to an ill-fated relationship, but meet later in life when Joon Young is a famous actor while No Eul is a documentary producer.
No Eul had a tough childhood. The trials and tribulations started when her father was killed in a hit-and-run which forced her to quit school to make a living for herself and her brother. Shin Joon Young on the other hand had his life planned out for him thanks to his mother. However, he left said plan after an awful incident in which he became a popular singer-actor instead. Eventually, they reunite when No Eul is given the task to film Joon Young’s documentary. Initially, Shin Joon Young gives No Eul a hard time, but eventually agrees to the documentary when he begins to have feelings for No Eul again.
Technically, the synopsis shows there is nothing wrong with Uncontrollably Fond. As a matter of fact, it follows a successful general plot progression used in numerous K-dramas before it. However, there were two major issues with the Uncontrollably Fond that hindered it. The first issue was the execution of direction. It is understandable that at the core of Uncontrollably Fond, it is a love story. However, it was suspended in this perpetual state of cat-and-mouse limbo that did not go anywhere for ten episodes. That means for half of the series, there was very little to no progression whatsoever even though the story technically moved forward.
It was made even worse thanks to Bae Suzy. For some reason, South Korean news outlets push Suzy’s acting as one of the best out there. Though she is one of the more successful K-pop idols to act, she is surely not the best. In fact, many K-drama fans claim her acting is about 50/50. She may be a “natural actress,” but she is not believable when she acts certain emotions or conditions. In Uncontrollably Fond, Suzy was probably at her worst when she tries to act drunk or express disappointed sadness often linked to whining.
Any flaw Uncontrollably Fond had was a hindrance, but made tenfold when compared to its competition. Before airing, Doctors was already established. The medical K-drama, also known as Doctor Crush, starred Kim Rae Won and Park Shin Hye. It was dominating its days and time slot and at certain points, there were signs the K-drama had the potential to overtake Descendants of the Sun. Also, everything about it, from the plot to its direction, was excellent. Also, the main lead characters, Hong Ji Hong and Yoo Hye Jung, were portrayed by Kim Rae Won and Park Shin Hye respectively, two Hallyu actors considered some of the best in K-dramas right now.
Doctors eventually became too much competition for Uncontrollably Fond, but its situation became worse when W started airing. Just like Doctors, the K-drama starring Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo had a unique and interesting plot, excellent direction, and engaging characters. Jong Suk, being recognized as one of the top actors in K-dramas, was highly praised for his portrayal of Kang Cheoul. Hyo Joo is better known on the Korean silver screen, but is doing a great job portraying Oh Yeon Joo.
All the details that makes W such a success does hurt Uncontrollably Fond, but the one detail that hurt it the most is sharing the same days and time slot. More K-drama fans are wanting to watch W over Uncontrollably Fond.
Summarized, Uncontrollably Fond was not just a K-drama with major flaws, it was competing against not one, but two other K-dramas that fans were wanting to watch more.
Surprisingly, all the aforementioned details from Uncontrollably Fond‘s flaws to its competition are not the clincher on why it might be the biggest failure of 2016. The fact that KBS poured so much time and money into promotions, exclusive deals, and whatnot into Uncontrollably Fond, touting it as the next Descendants of the Sun than failing is what will make it the biggest failure of 2016.
Uncontrollably Fond is the most ambitious K-drama to be made by KBS because of its airing schedule and international broadcast. In China, the K-drama streams simultaneously with Korea’s broadcast on Youku Tudou. The same goes for Taiwan as it airs simultaneously with Korea’s broadcast on Videoland Drama. In Thailand, it airs on Channel 8 on the same day as the Korean broadcast. In Vietnam, it premiered on July 7, 2016 on HTV2’s YouTube channel and airs 12 hours after the Korean broadcast. In Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, each episode streams on Viu with English subtitles one hour after the Korean broadcast. The same goes for North and South America on DramaFever.
In reality, KBS still made a lot of money on Uncontrollably Fond, but not as much as they thought they would. It is even worse for those who invested into the K-drama because they lost out the most. Ergo, this will surely hinder any future deals done with KBS pertaining to their K-dramas. Why would anyone spend so much money for exclusive airing rights to a drama when most people are ignoring it?
All Uncontrollably Fond can do now is damage control. Unless the cast and crew can pull off something spectacular with the last four episodes, they’ll just have to maintain their viewership rating, making sure it doesn’t go any lower than it already is. At this moment, Uncontrollably Fond‘s viewership ratings are so low, they did not even place among other shows in its day and time slot. For TNS Media Korea, the Seoul National Capital Area’s viewership wasn’t even precise. Instead, the last two episodes were given a less than range. That is very bad.
Anyways, for those who still want to try to give Uncontrollably Fond a chance, it airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:55 p.m. on KBS. For those in China, it will stream on Youku Tudou. For North and South America, it will air one hour after the Korean airtime, free with ads on DramaFever.
[Image via Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)]