Netflix: Queen of Tears (2024)

This will be ongoing post so don’t nobody tell us what happens. We have reached the picture-sake of the poster, episode 7 of Queen of Tears.

Actually, I had no plans to watch this. I gave it a 25-minute go and I declared “no way”. I thought I saw the formula - switch the gender roles by making the dude do the crying and the gal as hard as nails. I don’t like narratives I can see the blueprint with a quick eyeball. Then holy cow… the grapevine kept shouting back and I even have my students begging me to check it out. Should I? A further tidbit I found out became the tipping point - the writer is Park Ji Eun who wrote something you might have heard about called Crash Landing on You. So we sank back in starting from the 25-minute mark and we didn’t come up for air till ep7.

Let me get something out first - this is far from the high bar set by CLOY for one reason. The side-plots about family disputes and corporate takeovers play a distant second fiddle to the main spine. Unlike CLOY, the peripheral characters are tiresome and tediously drawn. When the drama are not on the pair of in-and-out lovers, I start to go on auto-pilot. But once it’s on the pair they have my undivided attention. The drama even tries to insert a third wheel Yoon Eun-sung to wrest the gal away from the guy, but seriously this is The Kim Soo-Hyun and Kim Ji-Won Show, everything and everyone else fade into the background.

The writing is Classic Rom-Com 101: will they or won’t they? Whet the audience’s appetite with a pair of the most prettiest looking stars, then break them up and mend them back and repeat. I love the juxtaposition in the beginning - Hae-in is as tough as a rock and she orders Ji-won around like he is a servant and he goes away crying. Seriously, it’s an art form to be crying and still look handsome or beautiful. I can’t do this - when I cry I look like crap but I am not exactly handsome to begin with. My goodness… when Hae-in’s tears roll she still looks alluring and your heart will break looking at her. I have another reason why I am watching this - Kim Ji-won’s Hong Hae-in looks like a dead ringer for Jeni of Blackpink, the same aloofness, the same vacant smile and Jeni is my weak spot :rofl:

The cinematography is stellar. Freeze frame on any scene with the couple and it can become your laptop and phone screensaver. You start to look out of the window and think why isn’t the world like Kdramaland.

Oh… I love the soundtrack so much I ordered it last night. This will be added to my slowly growing Kdrama soundtrack collection which includes Goblin, Hotel Del Luna, Hospital Playlist and Crash Landing on You. You know it’s a worthy Kdrama when they include a sizeable budget for music.

9 episodes to go…

I am glad they didn’t take long to make all the Hongs become zero. We have hit the halfway mark. It all feels too easy but still it is thrilling to see them getting a hard reset which is long overdued.

As much as I don’t like the sub-plots I like Beom-ja. She is loud and brash, but she wears her heart on her sleeves and she is only the real human being among the Hongs.

I love all the epilogues so much. So cleverly written and it pulls new layers from Hae-in and Hyun-woo. If your heart is on the verge of exploding, the epilogues are the tipping point where your heart explodes in a shower of rose petals.

8 more episodes to go…

We were done last night and I am now going to do a quick musing on my closing thoughts. Suffice to say this will be filled with spoilers so you should skip this if you have any intention of watching this.

Queen of Tears is as romantic as Kdramas go and it probably hit stratospheric level. If you have been married for a long time it is going to give you lots of ideas, you will reminisce about your meet-cute and you wonder if you have the clout and money to rent the aquarium to orchestrate something memorable. If you aren’t married my sympathies will be with you because this is going to paint such a gorgeous fairytale picture of love for you and real life isn’t like that (unless you are rich till you have the ability to save a third world country). I am so glad out of this love game.

I still stand by what I said on the onset in that writer Park Ji Eun (Crash Landing on You) doesn’t hit the proverbial nail twice. For me, and it is probably just me, I find all the side-plots and side characters cloying and distracting. Even the villains, a mother and son evil tag-team, are lacklustre with their character motivations ringing a bit hollow. How can jealousy over a rich family cause a woman to want to ruin the family and she is not opposed to killing the children. Then there is the son who loves Hae-in so much that his entire life is about winning her heart over but his methods are all wrong. I know I should watch anything without my logical and critic brain working in overdrive. If the storytelling is done well I can gladly look past any contrivance, plot-hole or machination, but in all honesty I couldn’t here. The only time I could disappear into the emotional minefield was only when it is centred on Hae-in and Hyun-woo.

The casting for the two leads is a match made in heaven. Kim Ji-won demonstrated such sublime acting prowess portraying a character with practically dual personalities. She gets the tonal changes down pat and she is sheer class. You want to hate her when she treats Hyun-woo like dirt but you can’t and when she finally surrenders to his love you will hug your pillow close to your heart because you don’t want your heart to explode. Kim Soo-hyun continues to show a dramatic range beyond his physical looks. His love and sincerity shine like a lighthouse in a stormy night and you will count the moments when Hae-in’s boat finally come home safely. Queen of Tears is really The Kim Ji-won and Kim Soo-hyun Show. It might have stumbled on many missteps but where it truly matters they got it right.

Past the midway mark is the point Hae-in’s family receive a hard reset. I like stories like these because I want to believe a person can still change to the better at a late stage in life. Then the last 4 episodes are just stir crazy. True love must always be tested in narratives but it is an overkill here with Hae-in and Hyun-woo. A miraculous cure becomes available but Hae-in will lose her long term memory. Then it is trope after trope - a company coup, an abduction, Hyun-woo gets rammed by a car and then gets shot, both in the same night. His poor parents have to run to two hospitals in one night! Talk about how true love needs to be tested. In my book, this isn’t good writing. All that is said and done, Queen of Tears didn’t mess up the ending and rewards the faithful audience who all hope Hae-in and Hyun-woo will finally find their happiness.

My takeaway lessons from Queen of Tears are don’t waste time on someone who doesn’t love you back, a case in point would be Yoon Eun-seong whose life is so pointless. Secondly, family is everything. Find the time and make the effort to connect. Thirdly, and this one my better half will never agree with me, is that having a lot of money will always make you miserable. Lastly, cherish all the moments with your spouse. Through Hyun-woo I learned that “cherish” isn’t just a feeling and you show it through small acts of kindness. Maybe I don’t have the money to rent an aquarium or the clout to make a shopping mall snow, but I can show how important she is to me through small and quiet acts. That is why when I post this, I will ask Choo out for dinner at a restaurant she hasn’t tried before and maybe tonight I can get lucky. Oh… one more lesson, if you see someone selling four-leaf clovers buy one.