Link: Eat, Kill, Love could not escape from its dragged plot even after having so many talented actors in the same frame!
We live in a time where the Hallyu culture is taking over the world and creating a beautiful bubble around us that we want to live in forever. From K-Pop, K-Dramas to Korean skincare routines, we want to be a part of it all. Perpetually while I am passing the time scrolling away reels on Instagram one after the other, I see what life looks like in Seoul, I see the beautiful landscapes of Korea, and they often feel like the answer to all my problems. Life there looks like it can take away all my anxieties and bury them somewhere far away. But a lot of the time I also do wonder if I need to come back to reality, or is everyone in Korea really as kind or undeniably gorgeous as they seem to be?
When I stumbled upon Link: Eat, Kill, Love, the first few episodes seemed as close as I could get to all of these questions that I had. The story looked like a three-course meal of mouth-watering close-up food shots that’ll stimulate your appetite, some grisly murders, and as usual, some really romantic moments between the leads that’ll give you butterflies. Now when I say this show sort of answered the questions that I had, I don’t mean murders happen in Korea every day but it sure did highlight the petrifying stalkerish behavior that South Korean women have been facing. Not every good-looking guy there can be the prince charming of your dreams. He can instead turn out to be your worst nightmare. Because I haven’t watched that many thriller Korean dramas, this was the first time ever I felt creepy and shook when I saw a girl being stalked and almost killed by a complete psychopath.
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Link: Eat, Kill, Love is a sixteen-episode series that begins with the introduction of Eun Gye-Hoon (Yeo Jin-Goo), a famous celebrity chef who is a perfectionist and way too good at what he does. He believes that while working in his kitchen, everyone must leave their feelings outside the door and only focus on mastering the dish that they’re cooking. But here’s the plot twist suddenly, out of nowhere, Eun Gye-Hoon starts feeling these weird sensations that make him laugh, cry or get irritable at the most unexpected times. A man who showed no emotions is now as expressive as one can be. But these sensations are not completely alien to him, and he knows exactly what they are.
Eun Gye-Hoon had a twin as a kid, Eun Gye-Young (Ahn Se-Bin) who was kidnapped and never to be found again. She has been presumed dead for the past 18 years, but before that, the twins shared a ‘Link’ between them where if one of them felt any strong emotions, the other one would feel it too. But it’s been 18 years since Eun Gye-Hoon stopped feeling these sensations, and when they started again, he wonders if his sister could still be alive. Or is it someone else’s feelings entirely? To find these answers and before it gets too embarrassing for his restaurant staff to answer for him every time he has these outbursts, Eun Gye-Hoon packs his bags and moves back into his hometown with his colleague and right-hand man Cha Jin-Ho (Lee Seok-Hyung).
This is where Eun Gye-Hoon’s life starts getting tangled with Noh Da-Hyun (Moon Ga-Young). She works as a waitress who is at the precipice of all sorts of crises. Her rent is due; she is on the verge of getting evicted, she was fired from her previous corporate job for underperforming but has hidden this fact from her mother, and the most alarming of it all is an absolute creep is obsessed with her. He is an acquaintance who she met at work, Lee Jin-Geun (Shin Jae-Hwi). He thinks they are dating but they’re really not. He follows her around and secretly takes pictures of her only to upload them on Instagram and make it look like she is his girlfriend. When she comes to know all of this and confronts him about it, he refuses to understand and still continues to believe that she belongs only to him. As a girl, this felt more scary to watch than a horror movie. None of us want to be stuck in a situation like this.
Due to a culmination of all these reasons and more Noh Da-Hyun to moves back in with her mother, Hong Bok-Hee (Kim Ji-Young) and her grandmother (Ye Soo-Jung), who run a restaurant right across the street from where Eun Gye-Hoon now lives. Over the course of these sixteen episodes Eun Gye-Hoon and Noh Da-Hyun keep finding their way to each other one way or another. She even applies to work at his new restaurant that he’s opening. After spending ample of time with her his doubts are confirmed that Noh Da-Hyun is the one who he now is linked to. He has been feeling her emotions all this while. Even though because of his dark past, Eun Gye-Hoon never wanted to get attached to someone else ever again but he eventually does fall in love with her. But the mess that everyone around them created when the two were kids becomes a major obstacle in their relationship. I feel like the name ‘Link’ is not just the link between the two leads but also the how the entire town is linked to Eun Gye-Young’s kidnapping in someway. Everyone has vices in their closet and most of them are living with guilt from what happened 18 years ago.
I personally love movies or Tv-shows in which food is a character in itself and to see that in a K-drama was great. Especially the scenes where Noh Da-Hyun kept waking up in the middle of night because of her nightmares so it goes without saying that the Link made Eun Gye-Hoon wake up as well. Just to help her sleep well, the two secretly met at the restaurant and he made her some really delish food, like every night! It definitely made me envious of her and super hungry at the same time. But this definitely wasn’t enough to keep me hooked throughout the show. They had a great premise with Eun Gye-Young’s disappearance, I love a good who-dunnit but the answers that the show gave me by the end left me even more confused and dissatisfied.
Lee Jin-Geun, the stalker completely looses control over the fear that his character brought and became quite annoying to watch further. In every ten minutes or so someone from the show says “I’ll kill you” to the point where it looses its meaning and made me roll my eyes. Lee Eun-Jung (Lee Bom), a sous- chef who works at Eun Gye-Hoon’s restaurant is another good character who I felt was not given enough screen time. Her sister was also a victim of Lee Jin-Geun and she was on the path to find her which is what led her to this town. When she sees a dead body being discovered on the news one day, she just assumes that its her sister. Its 2022, how she not thought of running a DNA test on the body? She never even goes to see it and its confusing why that whole arc was just left incomplete.
The only two characters I truly teared up for in this show was firstly Eun Gye-Young, it was unfair what happened to her and Ahn Se-Bin does a great job at bringing out those emotions. Child actors in K-dramas this year are totally stealing the show. Second would be Han Ui-Chan (Lee Kyu-Hoe), who was Eun Gye-Young’s piano teacher and also who was wrongfully accused of kidnapping her back then. He never really recovers of that accusation lives his whole life in despair. The storyline between him and his son Ji Won-Tak (Song Deok-Ho) who grows up to become a police officer himself seemed way more interesting than the actual plot of the show.
Ji Won-Tak and Hwang Min-Jo (Lee So-Ri), who is his ex-girlfriend and also a fellow police officer find the spark that they’ve lost between them while solving Eun Gye-Young’s case together. Ji Won-Tak has not had an easy life but Hwang Min-Jo felt like the only normalcy or light that he has ever seen. Frankly to me their love story felt way cuter than the actual leads and I’d any day sign up for a spin-off show on them.
Speaking of good supporting characters, Noh Da Hyun’s mother and grandmother are a total mood to watch. I’m all for a trio of confident and fierce women who are ready to face whatever life throws at them. All three of them have dealt with some kind of abuse in their life and they definitely want to protect Noh Da-Hyun from any harm that comes her way. Even if it means killing her stalker and burying him in an abandoned fridge. I am easily impressed by strong women characters and this show has a lot to offer in that department.
Apart from the food and acting, Link: Eat, Kill, Love is a dream when it comes to the costumes. The pastel colored sweatshirts with jeans or over sized winter coats and hoodies all play an important role in making the character look lively. None of it looks over-the top and definitely has looks that are easy to recreate for fashionably challenged people like me. But having said that, no amount of good costumes, supporting character or phenomenal camera work could hold this show from falling apart.
I felt the screenwriters Kwon Ki-Young and Kwon Do-Hwan kept a lot of filler episodes in the show where the story wasn’t really going forward in a major way. The restaurant that Eun Gye-Hoon wanted to open since the beginning never even sees the light of the day till the last five minutes of the story. How he afforded to stay out of business for that long is a mystery in itself. There was way too less explanation given for parts that I felt deserved an entire episode. The show tried its best to be a story about humanity and how if Eun Gye-Young would’ve received help from even one of the many people she crossed paths with that night, her life would be completely different today.
Overall, Link: Eat, Kill, Love is a story that is interesting in parts but fails to put all the pieces back to where they belong. What really happened to Eun Gye-Young? What really happened to their father? Why the kidnapper did what he did? I’m still getting flashbacks from the show and trying to make sense of it all!
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