With more drama, heartbreaking scenes and that familiar ding, season two did not disappoint. For those who watched Love Alarm last year, it has been a long wait for season 2 which was released on Netflix on March 12th, directed by Kim Jin Woo and Lee Na Jung. However, not everyone has been as welcoming for the new season, the series has been getting mixed reviews on social media. Some fans of the show were not happy with how season 2 ended. K-drama (Korean drama) can have an element of fiction and fairy tale, which is one of the factors that makes them so popular. In this show, it is the Love Alarm app and the relationship between Kim Jojo and Hwang Sun-Oh that are fairy tale-esque. In the second season, more realistic moments make the plot more intriguing as they are relatable situations.
*Beware! There are spoilers for both season one and two*
In season one, viewers saw an international model called Sun-Oh (Song Kang) moving back to South Korea to graduate. There Sun-Oh meets a girl, Kim Jojo (Kim So-Hyun), who is a quiet and kind girl at school. However, Sun-Oh’s best friend, Hye-Yeong (Jung Ga-Ram), also has feelings for Kim Jojo. The way these two male characters express their feelings juxtaposes; Sun-Oh makes his feelings apparent, while Hye-Yeong is rather shy. Although, in the TV show’s reality there is an app called ‘Love Alarm’ which alerts someone when a person who loves them is within a 10-metre radius. Throughout the first season, viewers are taken through the turbulent love lives of Jojo, Sun-Oh and Hye-Yeong. By the end of the season, it is fours years since the Love Alarm app was introduced, Kim Jojo and Sun-Oh have parted ways and Hye-Young has made his feelings known verbally to Jojo.
Then, starting where the previous season left off, Kim Jojo decides to take the shield off of her Love Alarm so she can show her feelings to the one she loves. That is until she finds out that the shield cannot be removed. However, Sun-Oh learns off this shield and continues to fight for Jojo’s love, all the while being in a relationship with Yook Jo (Kim Shi Eun). While Sun-Oh may have been the male lead in the first series, that changes and Hye-Young becomes the male lead as it becomes clear he will be the one Kim Jojo will choose. Eventually, Kim Jojo finds the shield loophole that everyone has been hoping for and can reveal her feelings to the person she loves. The catch, it can only be one person. Although, the technicalities behind the loophole are revealed and Kim Jojo may lose her chance with the love of her life. This leads to an entertaining plot twist, that Kim Jojo has to fight for her love. While all this is going on there is a serial killer on the loose who is using the Love Alarm app to find victims.
However, what makes the app different in this series is that it now shows the characters who can love them in the future.
Next takes viewers to the ending, which has received some criticism. Many expected Kim Jojo to choose Sun-Oh as they were in a relationship in the first series and he still loves her dearly. However, she chooses Hye-Young which is one of the reasons why season two is a little more realistic. It breaks the predictability that comes with K-dramas as they are usually quite fictional and theatrical. With Kim Jojo and Sun-Oh, for example, the show romanticises the idea of a relationship between the popular, handsome boy and the quiet, hardworking girl. Due to this, many probably expected Kim Jojo to choose him, as well as Sun-Oh having male-lead popularity. Although, with Hye-Young being the chosen one, it is almost refreshing to have an ending that was morally realistic and somewhat normal.
Furthermore, it was not only the ending that is a lifelike (as possible) moment. For example, when Sun-Oh has his somewhat content ending with Yook Jo, he does not ring her Love Alarm and has a happily ever after. Instead, Sun-Oh promises to eventually ring her Love Alarm. These moments give a sense that the TV show has matured. It is like the directors have decided to grab viewers out of the fairy tale and chuck them straight into another reality. With realistic aspects in the show like the example given, it creates an understanding of the viewers own relationships and the world around them. Also, the realistic-ness acts almost like an arm reaching out to viewers; a message to anyone watching that they are not alone with whatever they are going through.
Another unspoken life lesson behind all the romance is that people in today’s society put too much faith in technology and dating apps. This is something that was touched upon in the Love Alarm season one review. The intense dependency on the Love Alarm app that is shown in season two reflects how we all put all our confidence in a programme. For example, Sun-Oh demands Kim Jojo shows him her Love Alarm app multiple times to prove that she loves him. When he discovers the shield, Sun-Oh is convinced that if the shield was not there then the app would ring for him. Another example is the fact that Hye-Young constantly uses the app to reassure himself that Kim Jojo will be his future love. These two characters mirror the loss of charm within society.
However, there are some aspects of the show that need picking up on. The first is that Kim Jojo, as a character, can be a little frustrating sometimes. There are many issues in the season that can easily be resolved if Kim Jojo told the truth. Although for entertainment purposes, the character has been written to drag out this issue, at the same time it is frustrating to watch. Many Love Alarm fans are also frustrated with the way Sun-Oh was treated in the second season. It was unexpected to watch Song Kang’s character get the short end of the stick in many of the storyline’s situations. Sun-Oh was a male lead in the first season and has a big fanbase, so it is understandable to see where the frustration comes from.
Another issue with the show is, as mentioned earlier, the storyline takes a dark turn when a serial killer is introduced. Although, that part of the plot was not featured much and it would have made the show much more gripping. Also, a creepy character is introduced early on, who is easily linked/identified as the killer. There is this twisted excitement that Love Alarm is changing things up and it is not a typical K-drama. However, that feeling is dampened when the sinister aspect does not feature much.
Although the message conveyed by the serial killer character is very clear; there are people out there in the real world who will use apps to harm people. In Love Alarm, viewers see the killer ‘matching’ with an innocent young girl and killing her. There is a real-world problem of people being killed, assaulted and harmed due to dating apps.
Another life-changing lesson that can be interpreted from the serial killer is that trauma can change a person. There is a scene near the end where Kim Jojo is approached by the serial killer and he tells her that everything he has done, he has done because her artwork (she secretly runs an Instagram account dedicated to her drawings) has told him to. It is at this moment in the show that Kim Jojo realises that if she does not face her past then she may end up like him. What to take away from this when watching it is to not let trauma take over, instead learn how to overcome the past by facing it and learning that it is a part of you.
To conclude, in my opinion, the ending is very well written and the bad reviews about it it should not be something that stops you from watching it. There are moments that could have been better, like the serial killer storyline. However, Love Alarm is still one of the best K-dramas on Netflix and if you have not watched it, do so.