Pinocchio is a currently-airing Korean drama starring Park Shin Hye and Lee Jong Suk.
Ha-myung (Lee Jong Suk) has a photographic memory (he has to see something only once in order to remember it) and a happy family – his father is a firefighter captain, his mother a loving parent, and his brother shares his gift. One day, however, his father leads his squad into a terrible factory explosion, and when it’s over, most of the squad is dead and Ha-myung’s father has disappeared. The media, grasping hold of the story, sensationalize it as an irresponsible captain killing his squad and then disappearing out of fear, and Ha-myung and his family become nationally despised.
Ha-myung’s mother decides to kill herself and jumps with him into the sea, but Ha-myung is rescued, miles away, by the kindly, elderly Gong-pil. Gong-pil, who has a few screws loose, decides that Ha-myung is his oldest, long-dead son Dal-po, and adopts him. Ha-myung gladly accepts the identity, and is raised alongside Gong-pil’s other son Dal-pyung and his daughter In-ha (Park Shin Hye). The two grow up together and ultimately enter the world of journalism as newbie reporters.
I can’t say enough about how deeply lovable Pinocchio is. I had a good feeling from the first episode, when it started out quick and charming and assured…
but I thought it would drag us through episodes of teenage angst and unnecessary backstory before getting to the real meat of the story (aka the adult world). I also worried that it would be one of those situations in which the two characters are secretly in love but long for each other from afar entangled in repetitive angst and obstacles. And who knows? Maybe it will turn into that in the second half, but so far Pinocchio is a jewel, giddily romantic and constantly surprising. It’s not so much that the plot is unique, but rather that the character beats are constantly surprising – Dal-po and In-ha both react to each other and to situations in ways I didn’t expect, but ways that keep their storyline and the overall drama arc moving along briskly instead of giving in to the usual drama tropes.
Park Shin Hye and Lee Jong Suk have a swoonworthy chemistry that encompasses both ends of the affectionate/sparkling and intense/electric spectrum. It’s also notable that this is the most natural performance by far that Park Shin Hye has given – she’s always been a very good, emotive actress, but whether it’s because she feels more comfortable in the role of extraordinarily straightforward, honest In-Ha than in any other role, or simply because she’s acted often enough that she’s had some kind of internal breakthrough as far as ease onscreen, she inhabits this character as if born to it, with an extra ease and joy I haven’t seen before.
Or perhaps it’s because of my secret theory that Shin-hye and Jong Suk are falling in love onset and it’s shining through.
The drama also does a great job of building up storylines every few episodes and then resolving them, and despite having the type of traditionally melodramatic drama setup that would allow for a lot of angst and tragedy, allows its characters to be, for the most part, fairly sunny and determined and to resolve problems that come up. Yet there are sufficiently high stakes, both emotional and literal, to make it gripping. There’s also some startingly grim notes with the storyline surrounding Dal-po’s brother, so I’m interested to see, as the drama progresses, whether it gets darker and darker, and how far it delves into that.
This is easily one of my favorite dramas of 2014 and perhaps even the past three years.
Tagged: 2014 kdramas, Dal-po In-Ha, Kdrama, Kdrama review, Korean drama review, Lee Jong Seok, Lee Jong Suk, Park Shin Hye, Pinocchio drama, Pinocchio kdrama review, Pinocchio Park Shin Hye Lee Jong Suk, romance, romantic television