For a drama with a name and posters depicting romance and love, you would think that First Love Again was mainly centred about those things. In fact, by episode 100, the only characters that had really been in any relationship during the drama were secondary characters (the male and female leads’ siblings). Instead, the focus was on what can happen to your life because of love and how the return of someone you once loved can ruin absolutely everything.
Basic Synopsis: Eight years pass within the first ten or so episodes of the drama, and Cha Do Yoon has not forgotten his first love that (supposedly) had an abortion and then broke up with him for a richer man. Lee Ha Jin, his first love, has partial amnesia due to a mysterious accident and can remember nothing of their romance. When Do Yoon finds out she’s nearby and happy, he sets out to ruin her life. Yet his wife is the real villain of the drama. Baek Min Hee will resort to anything to keep her position within her family and the power that comes with it: kidnapping children, forcing car accidents, blackmailing and ruining families… nothing is out of bounds. As a result, Ha Jin faces her fair share of disaster and betrayal in the first half of the drama before turning around to enact revenge. Ha Jin is helped by Choi Jung Woo, Min Hee’s ex-boyfriend and the mortal enemy of Min Hee’s mother, who seeks revenge for his own reasons.
A major theme is Ha Jin retrieving her memories and finding out why she left Do Yoon and what caused her accident. I really liked how they developed this slowly and it was nice (albeit sad) to find out that she’d had the baby but it had been stolen from her years ago, with no leads. It took way too long for her to realise the boy was her son and it’s a little too ridiculous, plot-wise, when she realises right after he’s been taken away from her. Thankfully, at least, the drama never reached the dark, horrific depths of Good Time, Good Time’s child abuse or The Greatest Marriage’s child-stealing incident (I’m still not over either, treating kids kindly is general human decency).
I liked that there wasn’t too much romance. Ha Jin’s sister and Do Yoon’s half brother developed a cute romance out of mutual hatred throughout the drama, and Ha Jin’s mother was still lightly flirting with a neighbourhood ahjussi in the final episode. Do Yoon’s mother and step-mother were nice additions to the plot when they weren’t screeching at each other or their disgusting excuse for a husband/ex-husband.
I was never a big fan of the lead couple (Do Yoon’s character was always so weak and boring) so I’m glad their romance was never a central focus. I just wanted everyone to be happy and vaguely nice to each other.
This was my first daily drama that I actually completed and overall it was a pleasant experience. It’s nice to have a short 30-minute episode to watch most days and the fact that there are tons of characters rarely makes the show boring (I only started getting bored around episode 94 but soldiered on). Melodrama can be touch and go in some cases (see my earlier mentions of shows that scarred me) but First Love Again found a nice blend between makjang, friendship and romance that made it work.
For a family melodrama, I’d give it 4/5 stars.
For an overall drama, probably a 3/5.