How much do you remember of your childhood? Or an even better question might be, how far back does your memory go? No matter what the answer is to that question, I think no one will be able to deny the fact that the way you are raised as a child for a large part defines how you will turn out as an adult. Some might say that genetics also play a large role in that, but I honestly believe that everyone has their own traits, and is responsible for his or her own actions. That’s not to say that your parents can’t shape these traits. If you have a loving mum and dad that care about you, and learn you good manners, chances are quite big that you will end up being a good person yourself. Not everyone has that good fortune though. There are children that are born into a life of crime or are neglected by their parents, leaving them to fend for themselves. And let’s not forget the ones that lose their folks at a young age, and are forced to grow up in an orphanage or foster home. All of those reasons can be the cause for a child to go down a darker path, and not grow up with any morals, in the process hurting people they come into contact with. Can such a person be redeemed though? Or are they too far gone, never able to turn towards the path of light? It’s a theme that’s featured heavily in the Korean drama series I’m about to review.
Yoo Jin-Gook is a veteran homicide detective who, despite his obviously risky job, lives a relatively quiet life. Next to his job, he takes care of his younger sister Yoo Jin-Kang, who he has raised pretty much on his own since she was a child. Having lost both of their parents at a young age, the two of them have formed a very strong bond, and are almost inseparable. Their lives are about to change though when a mysterious young man called Kim Moo-Young crosses paths with Yoo Jin-Kang. She meets him while attending a meeting hosted by one of her best friends Seung-Ah. At first she doesn’t quite know what to make of him, especially since he’s quite rude to her as well. Gradually her feelings towards him begin to change, and she feels herself falling for him, even though he continues to remain quite the enigma. Meanwhile her brother isn’t all too happy about the developing relationship between his sister and Kim Moo-Young. He’s currently in the middle of investigating a murder on a woman, and he’s beginning to find clues that his suspect might be the man his sister is falling in love with. However all is not quite as it seems, and soon things from Yoo Jin-Gook’s past are catching up with him. Things are slowly spiralling out of control, and the lives of these three people are intertwined in ways none of them could have foreseen. When more and more secrets are revealed, it becomes clear that some memories should remain buried forever…..
The smile has left your eyes is another perfect example of why you shouldn’t give up on a series too soon. The first three episodes of this K-drama move at a snail’s pace, and I found myself wondering how long it would take me to call it quits, something I almost never do. In hindsight though, I now realise how those initial episodes serve to make you get used and attached to it’s three leads, and quite simply fall in love with them. Make no mistake, this is not an action series but a very powerful character driven romantic drama with an underlying dark mystery element that propels the story forward. It’s been a while since I watched one of these, and it’s also been quite a while when I was so caught up in a story. One of the best things about this series are the three main characters. I’ve never been more frustrated by someone then by Kim Moo-Young. Played superbly by actor Seo In-Guk, I simply couldn’t figure out what his game was. One moment you hate his guts, only to have him recapture your heart again in the next episode. He’s probably one of the most complex characters that I have ever seen in a K-drama, and he’s played to perfection by this great actor. The main draw of this series is trying to figure him out, as well as his secrets, and your brain is constantly put into overdrive when more puzzle pieces are revealed.
A romance story only works if there is a chemistry between the two involved in the relationship, and that’s definitely the case here. Yoo Jin-Kang’s role is performed by actress Jung So-Min, who I have last seen in one of my very first K-drama series D-day. I liked her back then, and I liked her even more in this show. She has this natural charm and energy to her personality, and it’s simply impossible not to like her. Her complex relationship with Kim Moo-Young is fascinating to watch, while at the same it also pulls at your heartstrings. The same could be said about her relationship with her brother, played by Park Sung-Woong. He cares about his sister more than life itself, and will do anything to protect her. And I do mean anything, something that you will see for yourself when you watch this. I loved his character a lot, and how he progressed from this quiet happy go lucky man, into a much stronger as well as darker person. Now, some people might have already written this off, when they hear the word romance, thinking this must be one of those sappy love stories that you see countless times. That’s where you would be wrong. After the slow set up, things begin to move forward ever faster, and also become more gloomy. A continued sense of unease begins to take hold of you as the drama progresses, and more things of the character’s past lives are revealed.
The constant wordplay and interaction between Kim Moo-Young and Yoo Jin-Gook is a highlight of this show, and provides some of the most powerful moments this drama has to offer. And then there is the ending. I can’t complete this review with at least mentioning it here, as it’s absolutely heartwrenching. Now, I’m going to leave it in the middle if that’s because it’s incredibly beautiful, or extremely sad. Suffice it to say, that it’s certainly one of the most memorable endings I have seen to date of a K-drama series, and it’s one that will keep playing through my head for quite a while. I have talked a lot about the performances of the three leads, but there’s also a whole host of supporting actors that round out the cast of this series. All of the characters they play, no matter how small or how large their parts, are another reason that this series works so incredibly well. The smile has left your eyes is an extremely well written K-drama with some incredible acting and enough thrills and secrets to keep you glued to the screen for it’s duration. If not for the slow start I might have given this a perfect score. Either way I can’t recommend this show enough!
I give The smile has left your eyes a 9 out of 10 score.