K-Drama Rewind: Pinocchio

Before we talk about this edition of Flashback Sessions, I’d like to share a little trivia about us. Ahjummamshies is a group of friends who met at a local broadcast station. We are pretty well-versed in the broadcast media world, and even though we are now on our walking on different paths, being in media is what glued us together, and that bond continues to grow stronger because of this humble blog we are running.

Pinocchio was a 2014 drama that revolved around the media industry, particularly reporters’ lives. It was a big hit because of its leads – young superstars Lee Jong-suk and Park Shin-hye. It was even the most expensive Korean drama ever to be sold in China during that time, with its online broadcasting rights sold at a record price of 280,000USD per episode.

The story was about Ki Ha-myung’s (Lee Jong-suk) quest for truth after the media sensationalized his father’s heroic death as a scapegoat to cover the negligence of political and business personalities. There was also a fierce battle for ratings among broadcast networks, which motivates Reporter Song Cha-ok (Jin Kyung) to sensationalize the issue even further and accuses Ha-myung’s dad to be alive and neglected his team during the fatal factory explosion. Because of an incident, he was adopted by a grandpa in Hyangi Island and has borrowed the name Choi Dal-po until his adulthood. He lived as part of the Choi family as the eldest son of Choi Gong-pil and the uncle of Choi In-ha (Park Shin-hye). In an interesting coincidence, In-ha is also the daughter of Reporter Song Cha-ok which complicates everything for Ha-myung/Dal-po.

Fast forward to the present, In-ha is now struggling to apply for a reporter position because of her Pinocchio syndrome. Hiring managers doubt her ability to perform well in the job because of her inability to lie when needed. As a reporter, you have to tell all sorts of lies to seek the truth. Meanwhile, Dal-po was unable to attend college because first, he was pretending as a dimwit like the real Dal-po, and the Choi family is really struggling financially. He now works as a taxi driver in Seoul. After Dal-po witnesses In-ha’s struggle with the numerous application rejections and his encounter with the now night news anchor Cha-ok, he becomes determined to become a reporter himself. And because he is a natural genius, it’s easy for him to self-study journalism and prepares for job interviews.

Honestly, the first half of the drama was dragging. Although I enjoyed watching the journey of both Dal-po and In-ha in becoming newly-hired reporters of rival networks, the plot took too long to develop. It felt like the second half was packed with so many events that I could no longer keep up with all of it.

Revenge of the Brothers

At first, I thought the story would be about Jae-myung (Yoon Kyun-sang) and Ha-myung’s revenge. It makes perfect sense that the brothers would make a good team in avenging the wrongful accusations against their hero father. As much as I disagreed with the route that Jae-myung took, we never really got to know his character that much. All we know was that he grew up alone and now runs a truck delivery service. The show didn’t highlight how he ended up that way.

Unearthing a bigger conspiracy

Seo Beom-jo’s (Kim Young-kwang) character arc was the biggest surprise for me. I thought he was just the charming, sheltered chaebol who chases after his longtime crush. But his evolution from the rich son who follows his heart to the mature reporter who stands up against injustice is just powerful.

Beom-jo turned himself in to force his mother to take responsibility for the countless conspiracies in the media and business industries. Of course, politics influenced all of these, but the worst of them all was that Park Rosa (Kim Hae-sook) was behind the media’s scapegoating of Ha-myung’s father. They sensationalized the story to cover a much bigger fault that would affect their vested interests. It’s sick to the core, especially when Park Rosa is the only person left in the drama who had no character improvement. She had no remorse until the end.

In all honesty, I didn’t feel In-ha’s Pinocchio syndrome playing a vital part in the most crucial moments of the series. All I remember was that she was the one who conveyed Beom-jo’s message for his mom when he turned himself in. Reporters, as well as Beom-jo’s mom, believed her because she is incapable of lying. But that’s it. The series could still have a solid plot even without her Pinocchio syndrome. In-ha was not even the central character in the story, IMHO. Maybe the drama was named Pinocchio because Ha-myung’s life took a drastic change after the wrong statement made by a witness with the said syndrome. It’s sad and pitiful.

Grumpy Alley

🎤 Yoon Yu-rae (Lee Yu-bi) is the cutest former sasaeng-turned-rookie reporter! Her skills in assuming things to the extreme were one of the funniest moments of the show!

🎤 This is one of the many projects were Nam Dae-reum played as the younger counterpart of the main lead. This young boy is destined to become an actor. He even won an acting award for his participation in this drama! Very impressive!

🎤 Did you know that Lee Bo-young had a special appearance in the drama? She reprised her role as Hye-sung (from her drama with Lee Jong-suk, I Hear Your Voice). She briefly cameoed as Dal-po’s car navigation voice, whom he also introduced as his “girlfriend” to his family! We still ship!

🎤 Another brief appearance was Bae Suzy as Beom-jo’s blind date prospect! Though we only saw her photo in the drama, this was enough to get everyone’s hopes up!

🎤 The chemistry between Ha-myung and In-ha was also a strength of this drama. It never felt incestous that they were raised like a family (unlike other dramas) yet they still fall in love with each other. Both Park Shin-hye and Lee Jong-suk are god-tier level in terms of chemistry with their acting partners.

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