Splash Splash Love is a 2 episodes Korean drama that aired on MBC in 2015. It was written and directed by Kim Ji Hyun, and stars Kim Seul Gi, Yun Du Jun, Ahn Hyo Seop and Jin Ki Joo. In that drama, a high school student called Dan Bi is about to take her university entrance exam, but is afraid she’ll fail and can’t take the pressure. So when she finds a puddle, she jumps in it (as one does), and the puddle takes her back to to the Joseon period (as puddles do). Problem is, the (handsome) king is convinced she can end the disastrous drought the country’s been going through (and she can’t)(that’s the real problem)(if she could, then it would be okay).
I like Kim Seul Gi.
… Well, review over !
Let’s now discuss how penguins might have already invaded your home, and why you should welcome your new overlords if you want to live (and also because they’re cute af)
No ? Ok 😥 Back to Splash Splash Love then.
So: I like Kim Seul Gi : she’s funny, cute, entertaining, charismatic, and it’s always a pleasure to see her, whether as a lead or a quick cameo. She was my number one reason to watch Splash Splash Love. Other reasons being: I like time-travel stories (they can fail miserably, but I usually find at least one interesting and/or fun thing in them), I like HIGHLIGHT’s Du Jun (although I just can’t get used to the fact that he’s not BEAST’s Du Jun anymore), and also I was quite busy at the time, and a 2-eps drama seemed perfect. Sometimes, short is good (and dead is better #Gokusen). Basically every stars seemed to align, and if the Universe tells me I should spend two hours of my life watching Kim Seul Gi, then who am I to say “no”, right ? Now, as we all know, sometimes, the Universe is a jerk. It let Gong Yoo be in BIG, got Hana Yori Dango a US remake (I have nothing against remakes in general, but this one was bad), and Nari probably isn’t coming back to acting any time soon. But this time, the Universe actually was kind to me and Splash Splash Love turned out to be quite a nice watch. For many reasons. The first one being: it was funny.
Funny, yet cruel. Because there’s a joke in it about Gangnam Style, and that’s the moment I realized Gangnam Style happened 5 years ago, which made me suddenly feel a little old, and realize I haven’t done anything with my life yet. I know I shouldn’t blame Splash Splash Love for this, but I do. Which is probably why I haven’t done anything with my life yet. Still, I laughed more than I cried watching SSL (I actually didn’t cry, so). The humour is quite out-there but it didn’t feel too heavy-handed to me, and I liked the references (like that Gangnam Style’s one), and Kim Seul Gi’s exaggerate acting (but not overacting, as she acts exactly how she should). You gotta suspend your disbelief and accept that (almost) everyone’s fooled by her eunuch act, but once that’s done, I found her quite perfect. She’s got great comedic timing, and she’s wonderfully cute. I laughed a lot during this drama: for example, in the “times really changed” category, I loved how the king would always try to cut her arm for the smallest of things… okay, when I say it like this, it does sound a little messed up and violent, but it’s done in a really farcical way, and is quite funny. That said, most of the comedy was in episode 1. After that, things get a little more serious.
The drama’s still funny in episode 2, don’t worry, but SSL is about a 21st century girl sent back in the past, and obviously, it can’t all be giggles and severed limbs: some serious questions have to be asked, and some problems, solved. And I did really like the fact that Splash Splash Love took the time and trouble to include those issues. It’s a short drama, and its number one aim is clearly to entertain us by presenting something cute. It could have stuck to that, and it would have been okay, but there was more effort put into it.
Time travel stories are hard, for a number of reasons. In the “character travelling to the past situation”, mostly, you’re gonna get two things to worry about: (1) his/her actions will have consequences on a future we/they already know (2) suddenly being in another time is obviously hard to adjust to (and that’s also true if the character goes to the future, obviously), as you have to adapt to a new world while being away from your own, and the people you love. It can already be super hard to move to another country, so now imagine moving to another time, and having no way of contacting the people you know. When dramas don’t address that, it’s always an issue. It doesn’t mean the drama will necessarily be bad (for example, Nobunaga Concerto doesn’t really deal with the whole “I will never see my family and friends again :D” thing, and it does come off as weird, yet the drama is still really great, do watch it, watch it now, stop reading this, watch Nobunaga Concerto… do it) but it’s not a good thing either, and for example, (K-)Scarlet Heart’s female lead was rendered very weak (partly) because of this (she had very limited context and agency because of it), whereas despite the drama’s fault, Faith’s female lead felt more believable and human because she was freaking out, and missing her own world. Splash Splash Love, being very short, could have chosen to not deal with that, but instead, it does go there, and Dan Bi is a better character for it. She wants to go home because this new period is hard to live in for her, and yet at the same time, she’s there because she was running away from the present, and she’s falling in love, so obviously : dilemma (when really the answer is easy: make someone else the king, take the king with you, start a boys-band, get rich… there, problem solved). She doesn’t want to leave the person she loves, but she misses her family, and also knows she could harm the future by changing the past, while realizing she might not have a future herself ithere, considering her status and gender. Obviously the drama can’t fully develop everything, but the important questions are there, and they help flesh out her character. We can identify with her, and it creates good conflict for our main couple, Dan Bi/Lee Do.
Sure, the drama goes over some stuff quickly: all the political stuff is simplified and it’s kinda hard to take Lee Do seriously as king (not Du Jun’s fault, the drama’s just written this way #Oppadidntdoitokay). Also, yes, we do get some people trying to get in our OTP’s way. But really, the big question here, what will decide whether this couple has a future or not is: does Dan Bi want to stay ? Is she okay never seeing her mom again ? Can she give up the rights she had as a modern woman and maybe won’t get as a Joseon woman ? Can she live without the internet ? Is she okay with possibly changing History ? How will she live, never knowing how Game of Thrones ends ? It’s all about her decision, and to me that makes the whole drama stronger because the big conflict isn’t external but internal to the OTP… and more precisely Dan Bi, since Lee Do can’t do much. It also makes it more heart wrenching. Well… okay, so this drama didn’t exactly crush my soul or anything, I was okay and didn’t cry, but still, I could feel Dan Bi’s soul getting crushed. Which is good, coz the whole drama was riding on its OTP, not really developing secondary characters. And that’s fine ! It’s a short drama, so focus is good. There are nice supporting characters (the two seconds leads are surprisingly likeable) but it really is all about Lee Do and Dan Bi. And aw, they’re adorable. They’ve got good chemistry, I did buy their relationship, Kim Seul Gi and Yoon Du Jun are both cute, and since Dan Bi is the air allowing Lee Do to breathe again, when the OST went “Don’t go”, as he was running after her, my heart went “Don’t go” too (although my head was saying “but she’s gotta”…)(btw I liked the soundtrack, and also the colours… this drama’s “packaging” was nice).
Splash Splash Love also gives a little more depth to its female lead by giving her a reason to “jump” through time. She wasn’t just “around” when stuff happened, like Nobunaga Concerto’s or Scarlet Heart’s leads were, and no one came to kidnap her, like in Faith: she wanted to go. Sure, she didn’t choose the destination, but she chose to take the leap, and so, again, it was her decision. She saw a portal leading to another world, and she decided to go through it, because she was trying to escape a reality that made her feel useless. We meet Dan Bi as she’s about to take a very important test.
She’s been told again and again that those tests will decide her future. Her whole life is apparently riding on this, and she doesn’t think she’ll do well. The drama often comes back to how people are ranked, how they’re treated like objects, products (Dan Bi even relates to the noodles bowls, and how they’re put higher or lower on the shelf depending on their brand, prices, etc), and how this affects their self-esteem. Dan Bi feels useless, unimportant, pressured, and she wants to run away. Earlier, when I mentioned her dilemma, I said she wanted to stay in Joseon because that’s where Lee Do is, but that’s not all (so I lied by omission)(get used to the lying): in that Joseon era, Dan Bi’s a math genius. In her own world she wasn’t considered good at it, but in Joseon, maths are a new thing and even with a high-school education, she’s got a lot to teach. She’s seen as an intellectual, and it’s like a dream: she feels useful, valued, respected, admired even, something she’s never felt back at home. Going back also means giving up all that, becoming “ordinary” again. Aside from the whole romantic story, the drama seems to have a message to deliver: it wants to tell the viewer that it’s okay to not be the best, and the test you take and maybe fail don’t decide your worth as a human being. Sometimes, you might even find that something you thought was useless will actually be crucial, as is the case with Dan Bi’s ability to identify any voice she’s heard before.
Now, let’s be straight: I’m not saying Splash Splash Love is a masterpiece, nor do I think it will change your life in profound ways (although, you know, it might… any piece of art can change someone’s life for any number of reasons, and I consider fiction, art). The drama doesn’t go too deep into anything, and it mostly plays out as a cute little romcom, but I do really appreciate that it does so as well as it can. There’s clear effort put into it. The female lead is not only cute and funny, she’s also interesting, proactive. The drama takes the time to deal with important things some longer shows don’t even bother with, and in addition to its romcomy cuteness, adorable Du Jun and Kim Seul Gi, and nice colours, it tries to deliver a positive message to its audience. My only regret is the ending [spoiler] (I’m okay with her going back home, I’m actually really glad she did, but I’m not a fan of “meet the reincarnation” endings) [/spoiler] but it did not ruin the drama at all. I liked Splash Splash Love and if you’re in need of a little something fun and cute, then this might just be the drama for you 🙂
Also “historical” means… symmetry *OOOO*
And sure, this drama isn’t a symmetry-fest like some dramas can be, but still…
This is good for my soul ♥
Also good for my soul~
I’m a very spiritual person, okay >.<