Mirae’s Choice: It Wasn’t All Bad, I Swear

Mirae's Choice Ep 12 screenshotThis may be an unpopular opinion but I don’t think Mirae’s Choice sucked as much everyone believes. (By everyone, I mean at least the majority of the English-speaking K-drama blogosphere.  And the general Korean public as well judging by the poor ratings.) Fine, that sounds like everyone but I’m pretty sure there’s got to be a least a handful who agree with me!  

Because despite it’s many flaws and major missteps, there’s a space in my heart for a show that tries to do something a little different from what you’d expect from a rom-com. At it’s best, it was thoughtful and warm. It posed questions about having to make hard decisions and living with those consequences in sincere and heartfelt ways.

It had a likeable heroine who had a struggle I could get behind–of chasing your dreams, of believing you deserved better. Her perm-of-shame even grew on me.

The show had other women characters who similarly struggled with building themselves and their careers–that too, I can get behind. They spoke their minds, sometimes too tentatively, but in the end, they fought for things that mattered to them, in their personal lives as well as in the workplace.  Mirae's Choice_Ep12 screenshot

The pretty Korean autumn meshed so perfectly with the show’s wistful tone, and bolstered by its lovely whimsical soundtrack. I didn’t come to the party expecting this, but it was this kind of sensibility that I really appreciated and found refreshing. 

The show however, sold itself as a fluffy, zany rom-com when it clearly aimed to be a different creature altogether. It set itself up for a fall when it chose to use time-travel to tell a story that felt almost too mature, too real world for fantasy-land hijinks. It felt as if the writer feared her story wasn’t commercial or entertaining enough and so threw in some half-baked time-travelling shenanigans. Then she dressed up her story with all the rom-com trappings but didn’t want to, or could not, own up to it and deliver.

The show’s wishy-washy-ness was obvious in how it treated its central romantic entanglement. It was so preoccupied with having Mirae ping pong between See Joo and Kim Shin beyond all other concerns, only to have her NOT choose either one in the end. Yeah, everyone who signed up for the romance got served big fat no-mance instead. Isn’t it any wonder that most felt cheated? For what was Mirae’s choice if not the choice of which guy to marry?!

However, I was never fussed with that question having to be answered in the first place because I thought that Mirae’s true choice would be deciding the kind of person she wanted to be, not who she wanted to be with. I followed the show hoping for this part to take centre stage. Eventhough it ever really did, there was just enough of it for me not to write this off completely.

If only the show stuck to it’s guns and really followed through with what I suspect was it’s gut instinct to foreground a mature, contemplative story about women and life choices, it would’ve been so much better. Or it could’ve picked the fluffy rom-com route too. The point is, the show was never sure of itself.

Mirae's Choice_Episode 12

I’m sad that the show sabotaged itself and squandered some fabulous chemistry between all four leads, particularly between Lee Dong Gun and Yoon Eun Hye. Heck, even Jung Yong Hwa pulled his own weight. And I could watch Han Chae Ah’s scrappy Yoo Kyung in a show of her own! It’s testimony to each of the actors’ strong performances that they remained ever so watchable even as the narrative collapsed on itself.

Still I don’t consider this a waste of time because I liked the show enough to return each week. Mainly, I felt that it had something valuable to say–this drama might not have had legs, but it had a soul. For this reason alone Mirae’s Choice is far more than the mediocre mess than it’s been painted as.

 

 

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44 thoughts on “Mirae’s Choice: It Wasn’t All Bad, I Swear

  1. Wow….something different in your post regarding MC…becoz everyone is clearly disappointed….and that’s mainly becoz it has an open ending…I dropped it but was roughly reading recaps and I think the drama couldn’t use the awesome chemistry between YED and LDG…and there was serious lack of romance after first few episodes…but yeah…if we see it with a different pov…it can be called somewhat satisfactory in terms of Mi Rae’s choice of what she wanted to be….alas..it had a lot of potential but went downhill somehow.

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    • Oops so sorry for the late reply. I don’t know how I missed your comment! Well, I am disappointed in the ending and I can see how it will completely wreck the drama for some. But, and this is really weird to say, I loved so so many parts of this drama that eventhough the whole is lacking, it doesn’t really bother me. I don’t completely understand it myself.

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  2. I agree! I’m still watching it now but I’m enjoying this show a lot!!! Isit rly that had? I’m actually loving the unique plot and the OSTs, and like u mentioned, the characters are all very significant in their roles and interesting to watch. I’m liking this show alot and have gotten up at 5am with only 3h of sleep JUST to catch it….:D so ur not alone!

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    • Haha, I’m glad that you liked it. It just didn’t have a very strong ending and the road getting there was a little…iffy 😛 But isn’t the music great?

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      • Ya I love the music! Esp the opening lol its so…funky!!! I think Yonghwa’s acting has improved ALOT here, u think so?? Currently I’m having a hard time picking btwn the 2 male leads….I’m not at the end yet, is the ending that bad? She still ends up with Kim Shin? And did yonghwa put eyeliner! Lol he looks so good in it :3 the character I’m really getting irritated with is the ‘mirae from the future’ (2068 isit? Can’t rmb). Like she keeos saying mirae and kimshin can’t be together and keeps on exaggerating stuff amd everything I CAN’T STAND IT. Like dude go get a life man, stop telling ppl what to do. They have changed, unlike in yiur generation 😦

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      • I won’t say who she ends up with, because erm, well, you’ll just have to watch. Lets just say it leaves alot open to the imagination! And yes, I do think Yong Hwa has improved alot!

        Yes future Mirae was my least favourite character, but she gets a little less meddlesome towards the end. I think the writer purposely made her a little more sympathetic later on, which is a good thing.

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      • I see….who were you rooting for though! Kimshin or seju? :3 ohwell that’s good. I wantednto strangle her during the part when she predicted the fire would be in the station but was actually in the train…seriously woman?! Get your facts right pls!

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      • I had a soft spot for See Joo early on, but then I thought she and Shin really had great chemistry and related well to each other. And then, it all went a little haywire, so I decided to not root for either guy and see where the story would take me. So that’s probably why I’m not as pissed off as most are at the ending. Hah.

        Sigh. Ahjumma Mirae should’ve just stayed in the future!

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      • Ikr! Why bother coming back and messig everyone up! Hahaah. She literally DID mess everyone up. With all her useless prophecies.

        Omg me too! I was totally rooting for seju at first, but now I think YEH and LDG have much more chemistry! Hope they finally kiss soon ♥

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      • I must warn you, please don’t expect much lovey-dovey romance from this drama. AT ALL. Or any kind of skinship for that matter! I would’ve loved to see more of that from KS and Mirae, but alas…sigh.

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      • I know, I really liked Yoo Kyung. It’s a bumpy road but I still liked many things about this drama. I hope it doesn’t disappoint you too much 🙂

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  3. Note: SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the final episode yet….I really loved it right up until the last few scenes, and while I can appreciate what they did in the end by making it more open ended, my first reaction was definitely of the “WTF? What just happened? Wait, who is THAT guy?” variety.

    Whether you were shipping Mirae with KS or PSJ, it felt like a blindside to have invested so much in the Which Will She Choose debate only to have her end up with a stranger (aka Unmet Baby Daddy that we never see as more than a photograph.) I cared more about all the principal characters too much to have that feel truly satisfying for me. And while it was some small consolation for me as a MR/KS shipper to know that Ahjumma MR ended up with her KS again, there was still a real pang of disappointment for younger MR and younger KS. I really do get the idea that the overarching story turned out to be more about Mirae finding herself than picking a particular guy, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t chose to give us BOTH that outcome and letting her choose a partner we had invested in rather than some stranger. So, mixed feelings. I really didn’t hate it, I can understand it intellectually, but it still left me feeling a little heart sore as I fell asleep last night.

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    • Didn’t it feel like the show was going to let that MR/KS ship sail from the start? Until maybe the last two episodes I still thought that that was the way it was going to go. And she could’ve! It’s just a case of the show leaving it up to you to decide which guy she chose…HAHA. Mixed feelings indeed!

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      • I honestly thought that although KS was being kind of chilly to MR that last few episodes (and for reasons I didn’t necessarily agree with), I was still expecting them to have a reunion right up until literally those last few scenes. I had actually liked MiRae better with SJ the firstfew episodes but KS slowly won me over to the point that I was really rooting for her to get back with him by the end, and *expecting* her to end up with him. I think there is something to the idea that while the story was laid out like a rom com initially, it didn’t really play out according to the ‘rules’ of that genre, IMO.

        The multiple parallel universes thing was kind of interesting, especially when the older KS showed up to tell him what he would be like if he DIDN’T run the story. And I get that in some universe somewhere, we can actually envision that whatever the viewers wanted to see really happened. But at the same time, I was invested in ‘this’ MiRae and ‘this’ Kim Shin and their getting together, so it wasn’t quite the same, if that makes sense.

        I’ll be curious to see what the writer does next. This was my first Hong Jin Ah series, so I don’t know yet if this was typical of her style or what. I’ll be watching King 2 Hearts to see if I can get a better grasp on it.

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      • Well, I always had a soft spot for See Joo tbh, until he got really all up in her face towards the end! Which is when at the back of my mind, I had a sneaky suspicion of where the writer was headed. Otherwise, why make Shin be so unsympathetic?

        As for older KS showing up, I’m not sure how to deal with that. On the one hand, it ties in to the multiple universes idea, but on the other hand, if he is not a figment of KS’s imagination, how the heck does he suddenly just show up?! The latter bothers me more, so I’m choosing to believe that older KS was dreamed up by KS! 😛

        Yes I totally do get you about being invested in ‘this’ Mirae. It’s the reason why I didn’t care too much for Nine! Although with Mirae, I wasn’t as invested as I can get, which is why maybe I’m not as pissed off as others at how the show ended.

        I believe Hong Jin Ah wrote this one solo, but for King 2 Hearts she paired up with her sister. I haven’t seen the latter yet either! I’ve only seen a couple of episodes but didn’t follow through.

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      • I would agree about the degree of investment in MiRae. I really cared about who she choose…but in a way, more for Shin’s sake than her own. I found her likeable, but there was still some sort of disconnect for the character that I haven’t put my finger on yet. Maybe it was because she seemed sort of passive in the way she started following See Joo around after being so firm in putting him in the friend zone earlier. So, I was disappointed but not as crushed as some people are.

        I’m glad I watched it all the way through, though.

        Since I’m still new to Kdrama fandom, I did wonder if people would write fanfiction to satisfy themselves in a situation like this, though, lol! If there was ever a drama where that would be a natural outcome, this is one.

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      • Yeah, I agree about the disconnect. I liked her, but from a distance. But she really lost me when she didn’t call out Shin for his shitty x’mas eve dinner ditch but rather moped around instead. Yoo Kyung would not have put up with that! I wish we saw more of her.

        Oh, interesting thought about fanfic! I’m sure there are a legion of shipper hearts that need to be satisfied in this situation! I’m not really familiar with the fanfic circles, but the only K-drama related fanfic I read was indeed, to indulge my shipper heart! I’m new to drama fandom too, so I always feel like I learn something new every day.

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  4. I’m playing catch up now (ep14). I’m still yawning. I don’t feel it at all. No doubt, it is soul-ly but the approach to go differently than any other dramas clearly stabbing a suicide. Forget the English speaking audience, the main audience is in Korea. These ahjummas are not ready for this kind of show. Just too bad… I do like the songs featured in this show though. It is very spot on and added that oomph where sparks between the characters are lacking. It had a lot of potential! Sigh…

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    • Oh you’re still watching because of your vow not to drop anything? Sigh. I hope for 2014 you pick another resolution ok? 😀
      And yes I really liked the OST too. One of the best things about it!

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      • I have to say it pains me that you are doing this!!! Why torture yourself?! Whhhy?? On the bright side, it’s almost over, and since you haven’t been invested you’ll probably won’t be affected which ever way it goes! At most you’ll be like me and go, oh well, that’s that. 😀

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      • But you know what, I’m actually glad I stick to my resolution. One drama I found so good turned out really bad at the end, and another one the opposite.

        I secretly want to continue my resolution next year but it will slow down tremendously in my drama watching 😦 yeah, I will amend it.

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      • Isn’t that funny how that can happen?

        I just made a resolution to finish all the dramas I KIV-ed earlier this year before 2013 ends. So now that Mirae is over and I’ve decided to not watch Heirs until it’s done, I’m marathoning like mad.

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      • January 1st is approaching, can’t wait for her damn vow of ” not dropping” gets dropped! lol

        On the other hand! I was about to remove this from my list, but now I’m curious again. When I get to watch, I’ll just lower my expectations and enjoy

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      • IKR? Why would anyone do that to themselves? LOL.

        Oh boy, all I can say is, watch with caution! It’s a case of the parts of this show being much better than the whole.

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  5. I have no problem with the open ending if three things had happened:

    1. Mirae made a CONSCIOUS choice. As in, she actually thought about what mattered to her, and spoke clearly to Shin and Sejoo about those feelings. To be honest, this is the only thing I really wanted. Yoo-kyung made conscious choices in her life. I wanted Mirae to do the same.

    2. Mirae actually had feelings for both men. Clearly both liked her, but she only ever showed interest in Shin. Sejoo was always an afterthought. She’s also super wishy-washy about everything; that’s not a sign of independence in my book. The romantic triangle isn’t convincing when everything is skewed in one direction and Sejoo acts like a creep.

    3. Hong Jin-ah spent some time explaining parallel universes without just throwing it in assuming everyone would get it. Unlike most people, the parallel universe thing made complete sense because I’m used to interacting with slightly more complicated versions of parallel universes in stories. Actually, MR’s Choice isn’t even half as complicated as the Zero Escape series’s version; nevertheless, that needs to be explained because not everyone is going to be like me and instantly follow along.

    It’s also clear as day she changed her story to fit the needs of a certain fandom. I don’t blame her for changing it, necessarily, but she could have handled it much better than she did.

    On the parallel universes:

    1. Ahjumma Mirae at the VERY end of the story is NOT the FMR that we have been following. She is THIS MR’s future self. Her appearance is going to be the same across the universes, her life events changed, not her DNA–so if the child in the picture and Geon look the similar, she probably married Shin.

    2. FMR has to come back to this MR’s world in order for the events to happen–for current MR’s world to exist in the first place. The Parallel Universe exists independent of FMR’s choice. If she made the choice to come, a universe exists. If she didn’t make the choice to come, yet another universe exists. As per current “theory” (this is extremely debatable), there are infinitely many universes that represent the infinite number of possibilities.

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    • Well, Mirae did make a choice, in a typically kinda, sorta, maybe way in the end. Hah.

      Did people find the parallel universe confusing? If they did, I think it’s because it was dropped in late and in the game when folks were already antsy. The only problem I had with it was the reason why FMR travelled back in time in the first place, that was what seemed muddled to me. Yes, it did seem like the writer changed the ending, or at least prolonged the whole See Joo business for the benefit of the Jung Yong Hwa fandom. I guess she did pick Shin in the original ending? Shame!

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      • Her logic, or lack thereof, was the worst thing about the show for me and it’s probably the least satisfying thing about the drama. It did seem like the writer purposely made her more sympathetic towards the end too, but too little too late I suppose.

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  6. Hmmm… I saw the first two episodes of this but dropped it… I love YEH but i hate the curly locks, hehe, moreso, time travel isn’t my thing for the time being. Your post makes me consider going back to it, at least to see JYH’s improved acting. 🙂

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    • I know, the hair! But it suits her character. You know I was wondering if I would recommend watching this drama and I’m torn. On the one hand there were so so many things I really liked about it–great scenes, the visual quality, the tone, the actors, realistic dialogue. On the other hand, the story just didn’t cohere. My post is really a response to the near universal panning the show has gotten which I found rather harsh, even though some of the criticism is deserved. So if you do decide to return to it, caveat emptor!

      As for Jung Yong Hwa, I was a little surprised by how watchable he’s become. He’s not an emoting machine, and he certainly ain’t gonna win any awards, but he ain’t that bad either. He never pulled me out of a scene. I hazard a guess that he’s the only one of the leads to come out smelling like roses from this though. I’m sure YEH’s pretty disappointed and LDG as well. Pity.

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  7. Sorry I’m so late in contributing to the discussion, I literally just finished it! I was disappointed with the open ending (what can I say, American women like their endings tied up with a red bow. And if people end up making out, that’s not bad either.) But I agree that the show had some really great things to say, especially about women’s potential. The field of broadcast is all about having something to say to the world, and I feel like each of these women said what she needed to in the end. You are right though, the show oscillated between RomCom and corporate drama a little too much, and maybe the time travel was thrown in there because no one thought investors would buy into a show that stands on its ideals alone. (Irony?)

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