“First Love Again” Series Review (Ep.3 to 6)

When the last episode of a drama sells the entire series to you, it’s a powerful episode.

Such is the case with the Korean BL First Love, Again starring actors Jin Gun as Yoon Seok and Jeon Chang Ha as Jeong Ha Yeon.

Centered around writer Yoon Seok and his need to find his past life first love, First Love, Again takes viewers on a journey through two lifetimes before coming into the present.

In the beginning, it seemed like this drama meant to explore a love that transcends time, but later became a story about the importance of focusing on love in the present.

People often get trapped in their pasts, allowing that past to dictate everything they do in the future. Yoon Seok is a clear example of someone who’s allowed his past lives, which he vividly remembers, to define him. Enough so that he finds it hard to accept that the woman he loved before has returned as a man.

I’m going to be honest. There were moments when I felt uninvolved in this drama, but there were also moments when it spoke to me. I connected less with Yoon Seok and his past life than I did to his present. The flashbacks of his past felt like a sepia-filtered romantic stage play I was supposed to connect with rather than a profoundly tragic moment that carries over to the future. Remove those parts for me, and I fully understood what this drama was trying to say and do.

In retrospect, if the flashbacks had felt more personal, they would have drawn me in from the beginning. Delving into historical fiction, both on the page and on-screen, is a challenging undertaking requiring a specific type of filmmaking. I never felt like I was in the past during the flashbacks scenes. Instead, it felt like watching the actors cosplay a moment in real-time, which hurt them.

Despite this, the rest of the drama came together beautifully.

Especially in the end.

What speaks to me most about First Love, Again is that it expresses what it means to fall in love beyond gender. It represents moving past a narrow view of the world, past the box some in society believe we should fit inside. In a final scene between Yoo Sin Bi (a nine-tailed fox who owes Yoon Seok) And Yoon Seok, when Sin Bi asks whether Yoon Seok loves the past Ha Yeon or the present Ha Yeon, Yoon Seok replies with, “Jeong Ha Yeon. Jeong Ha Yeon who has a lovely smile. Jeong Ha Yeon who is beautiful even while crying. Jeong Ha Yeon who’s a man.”

It’s a touching moment that takes Yoon Seok beyond the box he’s placed himself in, from a world he saw in black and white, and replaces it with a world of color, removing the stereotypes he’d once fallen into when it came to love.

Although there were times when I found myself distracted while watching, mainly in the first episode, First Love, Again proved its relevance among the recent crowd of Korean BLs. Once the drama deepened into the focused narrative of a present-day man falling in love with a present-day man, actors Jin Gun and Jeon Chang Ha came into their own. They delivered powerful performances, especially in the last episode.

Another moment in the final also stands out. When Yoon Seok is getting interviewed to promote the movie adaptation of his book, the host reads a question from a viewer looking to mend her relationship with her boyfriend. Although poor Yoon Seok is lost, the show’s host is not, offering a profound answer about how love doesn’t exist without pain.

In one fell swoop, this woman defined what makes a drama a good drama for me. And what I like about love. It’s not that I don’t enjoy uncomplicated stories or relationships; it’s that pain deepens the joyful moments in a drama and makes the funny moments funnier.

Love does not exist without pain. No relationship is truly without complications. Not even the seemingly uncomplicated ones.

Even with the disinterest I had in the beginning, First Love, Again came back strong based on its message alone. The past is the past. Even reborn, we don’t go back into the world like before. While the past can shape who we become, it doesn’t define what we have to be. It doesn’t need to place us inside a box.

Especially when it comes to love.

Although people have different attractions and identify differently depending on where those attractions lie, love goes beyond the appeal to the heart of a relationship. Couples either succeed or fail based on how well they get along, not by what they look like or what gender they are.

Yoon Seok changed the ending of his story, both on the pages of his book and in his own life. And that’s where this drama shines.

I’ve learned, both in my own writing and in watching someone else’s work, that a story’s strength is in how it relays its central idea. If the core of the show or piece remains strong, the rest finds a way to come together.

First Love, Again kept its core strong and managed to finish the same way. Except for my initial disinterest, First Love, Again came through for me. I’d be interested to see what more these writers and the show’s actors can bring to the screen, so I hope we see them again in other projects.

We never forget our first love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t move beyond it. First Love, Again moves beyond to redefine it.

For a story about love, and the pain that deepened it, check out First Love, Again on Viki and Gagaoolala.

Rating- 4 out of 5

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