Kara: Secret Love Review [Lilac]
Of all the five stories, Lilac piqued my curiosity the most. It wasn’t my favorite Kara series by any measure. It simply means that it was the drama that had me asking the most questions. I am all for a good drama that creates a lot of great questions as long as it delivers with solid answers. In this retrospect, I think Lilac did a nice job wrapping up the biggest questions by series end.
Click the link below to read my review.
What’s the story about?
Lilac tells the story of a seventeen-year-old high school student So Yeol. She oozes of youthfulness and innocence; she also has a sunny, bubbly personality. Her age is pretty obvious to determine — between her young face, her personality, and the way that she interacts with those around her. None of this is a bad thing.
One day, while having a dance performance on stage with her friends, So Yeol collapses. The next time we see her, she’s waking up in the coma ward area of the hospital; the reason she wakes up is because a man was calling to her. He’s the first thing she sees when she wakes up.
Despite their noticeable age gap, the two spend a lot of time together – talking and walking around outside the hospital. Such as a college, a beach, and a garden to name a few. Most of the story takes place at the hospital, which in my opinion, is what darkens the series a bit.
So Yeol and Hyun Joon (the man she interacts with at the hospital) really do feel like kindred spirits that need each other. It’s refreshing to see a genuine friendship come out of the moments they share together. They help each other, have nice conversations, but even with their conversations, So Yeol points out the age gap by the difference in their answers.
Attraction in the air?
You can tell that So Yeol is attracted to him on some level. She wants to even kiss him when they’re hiding beneath a desk in an empty college classroom. They happen to be hiding because a couple come into the room, making out, and neither So Yeol nor Hyun Joon want to get busted.
Much later, it’s revealed that Hyun Joon is really dead and he has been dead the entire time that So Yeol has spent with him. And the worst part? The comatose woman that So Yeol is sharing a hospital room with? That’s Hyun Joon’s girlfriend. They were in a car accident where they were both ejected from the car. Unfortunately for Hyun Joon, he dies at the scene of the accident while his girlfriend barely grasps onto her life. It’s during this moment, when his body goes slack, that the ring he was holding falls out of his palm and is lost somewhere in the woods.
The whole situation is so dang sad and tragic that it almost brings me to tears. And ‘almost’ is the operative word. This drama didn’t bring on the waterworks like Missing You did for me, but it was still packed with a lot of emotion. And if I’m being completely honest here, not that I wasn’t in the first place, it’s easy to get swept up in the emotions and story of this drama.
Hyun Joon’s girlfriend eventually wakes up from her coma. It’s such a breath of fresh air with some of the darker, depressing undertones of the series. And with So Yeol’s help, she visits the car crash site after the initial time he took her there. It’s there that she finds the ring on the ground.
Later, she returns the ring to Hyun Joon. Things are really starting to fall into place, but you can tell that time is running out for the two to interact. So Yeol even tells Hyun Joon this from beach. But, sadly, she’s grown rather fond of him and she’s struggling herself with the truth of him being really dead. What’s worse is that Hyun Joon is finally realizing that he’s dead, too. When he attempts to leave, So Yeol clutches him from behind in a tight hug. Again, it’s not really a romantic sort of hug — it’s more of a “I don’t want to lose you” sort of hug.
Cue the water works.
Hyun Joon and So Yeol, sadly, must say goodbye. Before she’s discharged from the hospital, she only interacts with Hyun Joon a few times. From the back of the taxi, she watches Hyun Joon in the distance outside of the hospital. I was sad to see all of it come to an end because I thought that Hyun Joon and So Yeol got along really well despite the age gap. Understanding is a pretty universal concept, but it was nice to see So Yeol take on more of an adult role towards the end of the series. As strange as it sounds, it felt like she grew up some in that hospital.
While a decent story, I was expecting more of an ending. I’m not sure what I wanted, but I was hoping we would have gotten more than we did. This could be partly due to some of the questions I still have after watching this drama. I’m not quite sold on Kang Ji Young’s acting, but I think it was believable for the most part.
- The tie-in between the title and the lilac bushes was a really nice touch. When Hyun Joon and his girlfriend arrived at the hospital, the lilac bushes were bare. But when So Yeol arrived, they were blooming and very fragrant.
- The mystery aspect was easily my favorite part, as it kept me on my toes. I was trying to figure out Hyun Joon from the beginning, but it took me a long while to figure out the truth. It honestly never crossed my mind that he was actually the one who was dead.
- I’m glad that So Yeol was able to help Hyun Joon with his unfinished business. The markings on the desk at the end of the story was validation to So Yeol that meeting and talking to Hyun Joon really happened.
- Lilac had a very dreamy, ethereal quality to it. Sometimes it was hard to differentiate between the real world and dream world.
- I really enjoyed the story for what it offered, but I don’t think classifying it as a “love story” is really fitting. Hyun Joon treated her more like a little sister than anything else. Their connection, in my opinion, wasn’t romantic in the slightest. And I think that’s what the writers intended. Sure, So Yeol seemed to have some degree of more-than-platonic interest in Hyun Joon, but it was quite obvious that it was just a one-sided crush and that there wasn’t anything to worry about. Nonetheless, the hopeless romantic in me was really hoping for some kind of reciprocated romance, but this KARA story isn’t that kind of romance. It’s the only exception of all five stories.
Final verdict: Based on what I’ve already reviewed, I liked this slightly more than The Thirteenth Bucket List, but I liked it less than Missing You. Still, it’s a solid, enjoyable drama that touches on life after death, the in between, relationships, life, and your dreams and aspirations.
What was so special about So Yeol that she could hear Hyun Joon’s voice? Everything else was just loud, unclear, chaotic voices?
Will So Yeol still have this ability to communicate with the dead? Or was this a one-off?
What happens to Hyun Joon’s girlfriend after she leaves the hospital?
What happens to Hyun Joon? Will he move on now that he has the ring and that his girlfriend is okay? I hope he can finally move on.
Final notes: Kitten kisses! Aren’t they the most adorable thing?
Update: In the wake of DramaFever closing, you can only watch these dramas on Viki if you’re not in Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, or the US. The license excludes you from watching if you live in any of these areas. You can find these stories on YouTube if you’re out of luck with Viki.