Contains Spoilers for Episodes 1-2
Valentine's Day arrives in Korea, and Baek-Ho is late for a wedding. We're meant to think that he's late for his own wedding, but anyone who has seen the "surprise-he's-not-actually-the-groom" fakeout before is expecting to see him as a guest. Baek-Ho is in love with his best friend Yiseul, but she's marrying somebody else, and he's not sure whether he'll finally get the opportunity to tell her how he feels. Valentines is also the day of the Seoul International marathon, so the roads are impassable and Baek-Ho has to run all the way to the wedding. He runs so hard and for so long, it's painful to watch. It's like he's trying to make up for 20 years of doing nothing by giving his all at the last possible second.
The wedding continues as planned, and Baek-Ho says nothing. Later that day, he finds an old unopened letter from Yiseul which contains a love confession, so at least now he knows that at one point in time he had a shot with her. Next thing you know, Baek-Ho is sitting alone, crying his eyes out; the ugly, sniffly crying where you don't care who sees you bawling. Then a man who calls himself a Time Conductor offers him a handkerchief, then offers him a miracle--a trip back in time to make things right with Yiseul. The angel-like Conductor wonders aloud if Baek-Ho will do anything different with his second chance at love, since people rarely change for real. Baek-Ho goes back in time to 2001, his first year of high school, where he begins the process of figuring out how to win Yiseul's heart.
Things I Loved:
1. Baek-Ho. The actor, Yoo Seungho, does a great job of making this character sympathetic. Baek-Ho has a lot of flaws, mostly related to indecision, but I think he still gets the audience's full support. He's a little young for the adult half of his role (the actor is 19, and the grown-up Baek-Ho is about 27), but he's ideal for the highschool scenes. And, boy, can he cry perfectly. There's nothing halfway about his commitment to his performance.
When He Cries, You Will Cry, Too.
2. Baseball. I'm sure we'll hear more about Baek-Ho's past as a baseball player later on, but I like that it's a major part of his character because it's an interesting detail. Baek-Ho's room is full of baseballs and mounted gloves, plaques and trophies, which are all testaments to his achievements and his passion in life, but the trophies are ironic too, because he hasn't achieved the one thing he wants in life. He seems to have failed at his baseball career as well, come to think of it. Maybe he'll get to fix his love life and fix his professional life, too, as a result of the time-travel?
Groovy Blue Personalized Baseball Glove!
3. Music. The show has a really lovely swelling, twinkling soundtrack that could belong to a movie. The opening snowscape scene is magical, and when it's accompanied by classy music with strings, we feel just a hint of the fairytale world we'll be seeing later.
1. Baek-Ho's silence. How do you like a girl for twenty years and not let her know? Come on, now, that's a little ridiculous. It's hard to get behind a character whose main flaw is crippling indecision. I can understand him never confessing his in love in high school and maybe even in college, but at what point does it go too far? I don't yet know if there's a genuine reason for his inability to tell her how he feels, but I hope it's justified.
Takes Several Decades to Make a Decision.
2. Not enough Kim Yewon. This actress plays Chaeri, the best friend of Yiseul. Chaeri's an attention-hound looking for a rich husband, but she's got a sweet heart. I liked the actress in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, but when I heard she was in this drama, I was hoping she was the lead instead of being stuck in a best friend role again. Maybe she'll get more scenes as the drama progresses. She's a favorite of mine, so I hope so!
Someone, Please Give This Woman a Main Role.
Time/Timeliness: Baek-Ho runs out of time to tell Yiseul he loves her, then he's running late for the wedding, and so on. Time is never on his side in any sense of the word until the Conductor steps in and gives him all the time in the world.
2nd Love: In an interesting philosophical moment, the Conductor says that most people marry their second-best love. He says that it's easy to recognize first loves because they hurt so badly, but it's harder to find that 2nd and most important love. I'm hoping that Baek-Ho and Chaeri are the second loves, because I want more of Kim Yewon in the show, but I'm not sure if I have any cause to hope for this--we don't seem set up for this pairing.
Nationalism: Baek-Ho's taxi driver mentions that all good citizens should be out watching the marathon and supporting the Korean runners.
Traditional clothes: Yiseul's mom wears hanbok to the wedding.
Hanbok: Sort of Like a Full-Skirted Kimono.
Cute show, precious cast, great soundtrack, but with some caveats. While it's nice to see the sweet, innocent love between two people who genuinely care about each other, they are definitely having too many easily-fixed misunderstandings. All it would take is for Yiseul to say "I like you" instead of leaving Baek-Ho hints and clues, and all it would take is for past-travelling Baek-Ho to say he likes Yiseul instead of making lots of sacrificial gestures to prove it. In a perfect world, actions do speak louder than words, but in Operation Proposal, words speak louder than actions, and the main characters need to repeat this one simple phrase: I. Like. You. Conflict resolved!
You can watch episode 1 of Operation Proposal HERE at DramaFever.