Warning: This review contains spoilers
Love prevailing, the importance of truth and the power of journalism are the themes I would use if I had to briefly describe the Korean drama “Pinocchio.” As the first Korean drama I’ve seen, I fell in love with “Pinocchio” because of the investigative journalism theme that kept up the suspense and the love storyline that kept me guessing.
The drama introduces high schoolers In-Ha (Park Shin-Hye) and Dal-Po (Lee Jong-Suk). In-Ha is known as the “Blunt Talking Witch,” since she has Pinocchio syndrome: a fictional syndrome that makes her hiccup every time she lies.
Known as In-Ha’s “uncle” even though the two are the same age range, Dal-Po was adopted by In-Ha’s grandfather after being confused for his late son Dal-Po who died at sea 30 years earlier. Dal-Po has a mysterious past: his real name is Ha-Myeong, and he was found at sea as a little boy after his family was exploited and destroyed by the media.
His father Ki Ho-Sang was a firefighter who died leading a team through a burning building thought to have had two trapped workers, when really, the workers had started the fire and run off. The building exploded, leaving the team dead and Ho-Sang’s body missing. The building owner protected his workers by claiming Ho-Sang led the team inside knowing the building was empty, and, needing a sort of answer, the media portrayed Ho-Sang as a murderer. With his body found in ruins years later, his family was attacked during the crisis of his disappearance.
Ho-Sang left behind Ha-Myeong (Dal-Po) and his older brother Jae-Myeong, both of whom possess a higher than normal intellect, and their mother. Due to their tarnished reputation, people vandalizing their home and merchants refusing their business at supermarkets, their mother decided to take Ha-Myeong (Dal-Po) and commit suicide by jumping into the sea, leaving Jae-Myeong behind.
It was then that Ha-Myeong was saved and taken by In-Ha’s grandfather. Scared of rejection, Ha-Myeong claimed to have memory loss of his life before being found at sea. He took the late Dal-Po’s name and hid his intelligence from everybody.
After finding out that In-Ha is the daughter of the journalist who slandered his family, Ha-Myeong (Dal-Po) grew up with a hatred toward her and the media.
The Power of the Media
Throughout “Pinocchio,” viewers can see how both ethical and corrupt news outlets affect the public. MSC, the company that In-Ha’s mother manages, is considered tabloid trash by other news outlets, but nonetheless the most influential company in the public eye. They modify stories to grab their audience and can be bribed by corporations to falsify news. YGN on the other hand, only reports stories with facts after learning their lesson from the destruction of Dal-Po’s family.
Ethical Journalism and Truth Prevails
In-Ha and Dal-Po both end up becoming journalists, Dal-Po working for YNG and In-Ha working for MSC. Dal-Po eventually unveils his past to In-Ha, and they team up and force her mother to make up for the torture she put Dal-Po’s family through. They change the media’s corrupt ways and find the truth in every story they work on. The couple start to bring awareness on MSC’s corruption and how they are being paid to falsify news.
Intoxicating Love Story
While the investigating journalism theme is perfect, the love story between In-Ha and Dal-Po is both cute and heartbreaking. Since In-Ha is the daughter of the woman responsible for his suffering, Dal-Po has hated her since childhood, but is simultaneously in love with her due to her honest personality as a pinocchio. Forced to carry the guilt of her mother’s wrongdoing, this rocks their relationship multiple times throughout the drama. Dal-Po hopes to get his revenge, while In-Ha feels like she will never be enough to make him happy.
Whether you want a to watch a gripping commentary on the media, a tearjerker or a great love story, “Pinocchio” has it all.