In ‘The Thirteenth Bucket List’, a young woman discovers that there is no time better than the present to tell others you love them. Hyeon-jeong (Goo Ha-ra) is a normal, timid woman who can’t confess to her crush of 10 years. But when she discovers that she only has three months left to live she creates a bucket list so that she can live a life without regrets, and becomes a braver, extraordinary woman in the process. –Hancinema
Kara: Secret Love Review [The Thirteenth Bucket List]
The Thirteenth Bucket List was a fairly decent installment in the Kara: Secret Love series.
It tells the story of Hyun Jung, an average, somewhat shy girl. She’s had a crush on the same guy for ten years, but she’s too afraid to fess up and tell him how she truly feels. Oh, the trials and tribulations of unrequited love. I feel your pain, Hyun Jung. I really do.
Unfortunately, a lot goes wrong for this poor girl. She discovers that she has terminal cancer, and with a bombshell like that, she’s literally scared into action.
First and foremost, she’s worried about her father and little brother, which really tugged at my heartstrings. Even though she knows she’s going to die, she isn’t completely fixated on her death. No, she’s genuinely worried that, after she dies, her father and brother will only eat ramen. Why this is especially sad is that Hyun Jung’s mother is dead, so that’s a pretty mighty burden to shoulder.
Hyun Jung dreams up a bucket list and is determined to cross all of them off of her list. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to go it alone. In a truly unpredictable move, she books a trip to Jeju Island. It’s not exactly a trip she can splurge on, but with three months to live, who wouldn’t want to get some r & r (reading and relaxation) done in such a visually-stunning, breathtaking location?
On her trip to Jeju Island, Hyun Jung stops to grab a bite to eat and cross a task off. Eating whatever she wants is number one on her bucket list. Unfortunately, the restaurant is pretty crowded and she’s stuck to share a table with a very prickly, stiff young man. He’s kind of a jerk. That’s putting it lightly, too. Joon Moon is not amused by Hyun Jung at all. You can tell straight off the bat that these two are going to have an interesting dynamic together as he observes her eating habits and quirks with utter disdain.
Of course eating all the delicious food she wants isn’t the only reason she chose Jeju. It’s also where she can go see her mother who is buried beneath a beautiful tree that has an equally beautiful backdrop.
Hyun Jung’s List:
1. Eat all the delicious food that I want.
2. Pay mom a visit.
3. Get revenge on the evil high school brats.
4. Imitate the life of Lady Gaga.
5. Don’t hold myself back and express my anger when I feel angry.
6. Go for a nice drive down a scenic road.
7. Go paragliding.
8. Enjoy the finest accommodations of a suite at a top luxury hotel.
9. Help fulfill the list of a dying person.
Thankfully, the cold Joon Moon seems to thaw as he spends more time with Hyun Jung. He even convinces her to join him as he attends a wedding. At this point, he’s still kind of a prickly jerk, but you see that there’s a lot more than meets the eye with him. It turns out that the woman he loved, the same woman that broke his heart is getting married. It becomes obvious that Joon Moon is using Hyun Jung as his wing man – so to speak. The wedding and reception is pretty painful as Hyun Jung gets drunk and makes a pretty embarrassing speech to the bride and groom. Luckily, Joon Moon gets them out of there before things get even more awkward.
Nonetheless, on her own, Hyun Jung tackles half of the list on her own. When going through her tablet that she left behind, Joon Moon hacks into Hyun Jung’s account and stumbles across her diary and bucket list. Right there, you see a lot of thawing. And guilt. Joon Moon was a “grade a” jerk to a terminally ill woman. His way of rectifying his wrongdoings is by helping her work through her bucket list.
He takes her paragliding and lets her drive his fancy car down a scenic road. As they work on the bucket list together, they unknowing grow closer. When it’s time for Joon Moon to return to the army and it’s time for Hyun Jung to go home, it’s a bittersweet moment. They’ve developed genuine feelings for each other and don’t want to go separate ways, but they have to.
Joon Moon did want to write and keep in touch with Hyun Jung regardless of her diagnosis. Unfortunately, it becomes pretty one-sided quick when she doesn’t reply to his letters.
Now, here are my thoughts on the drama.
To be fair, while I liked this drama, I wasn’t head-over-heels in love with it. It was sweet, endearing, sad and nicely paced, but I personally didn’t see or feel a whole lot of chemistry between the leads. At times, the chemistry was fine. At other times, I just wasn’t buying it.
I also didn’t like that Hyun Jung didn’t fess up to Joon Moon when she knew the truth about her diagnosis. I understand why she didn’t, but it was frustrating that she’d rather have Joon Moon think she was dead versus a liar. Of course lying isn’t a great attribute either. For me, it just felt like yet another excuse to add drama.
I also would have liked to see more family interaction between Hyun Jung and her little brother. Most of the time, they felt more like an afterthought, and I wish they would have held more importance and value to the story.
At the end of the day, Joon Moon and Hyun Jung took a chance on each other, and they end up together as a result. Definitely not a bad ending for a romantic k-drama, but the story just didn’t stick with me like it did in Missing You.
Maybe with more episodes we could have seen more depth and character development. That’s my one gripe about short series like this – sometimes the story can be pulled off flawlessly but sometimes it needs more time to find it’s footing. I just needed more, but I really enjoyed Kim Young Kwan here.
Don’t get me wrong, there were very good elements to this drama.
Honorable mentions: They were some fun comedic moments of the series. Also, Hyun Jung dressed up as Lady Gaga was totally fun and cute. The funny moments of this drama definitely brighten some of the darker undertones, which was a huge plus for me.
You can read more Secret Love reviews here.