Skip to the final section for a quick, spoiler-free rating.
A clip of Splash Splash Love (Korean title: 퐁당퐁당 LOVE) came up on my YouTube recommendations off of my binge of Mr. Queen. It was a short scene of a modern-day girl captured by a Joseon king we later find out to be Sejong the Great who saved herself from getting her arm cut off… by doing math. The moment I saw that, I knew I had to find and watch the whole drama.
Little did I know just how heavily and ridiculously mathematics featured in this two-episode (yes! It’s only two episodes long!) miniseries.
Math Propaganda Done Right
To sum it up, Jang Danbi, a high school senior, is about to take her CSAT. Instead, she runs away and inadvertently travels back in time to 15th century Joseon just as King Sejong and his court are performing a rain-calling ritual to end a three-year drought. She passes herself off as a eunuch and offers up her mediocre math skills to the King to save herself, quickly becoming his confidante. She eventually falls in love with him and helps him reform Joseon using her 21st century high school education.
Moral of the story: If you’re good at STEM field subjects, a king will fall in love with you should you ever travel back in time to 15th century Korea. So stay in school and study hard, kids!
Splash Splash Love Has So Much Potential
You can tell that Splash Splash Love used to be a short-form web series. It manages to pack about twenty to thirty episodes worth of story into two, playing out the bare bones of a plot and forgoing everything but the essentials of character development. It’s a careful balancing act this mini-drama did well.
The pace moves incredibly fast, so much so that it feels like a whole episode’s worth of story for any other drama passes in six minutes. Danbi and the King are believably connected on an emotional level by the 40-minute mark. When the climax happened in episode 2, I was invested enough in these characters that the ending actually hurt a little. And they still found the time to have fluff and filler-ish scenes between the plot-heavy stuff!
Pacing-wise, Splash Splash Love accomplished something incredible. For all its skeleton storytelling and probable budget limitations, this story has a soul. It gave its main character a full arc, the one job a series as short as this one has.
That being said, I would love to see a remake some day where the political landscape during the reign of Sejong the Great is properly explored with this premise. The plot feels complete, but the characters leave me wanting more. I know there’s another adaptation titled Love in the Moonlight based on the same novel (it’s on my to-watch list). But apparently, it’s set in the 19th century with a completely different Joseon king?
Splash Splash Love Highlights
- Queen Soheon/Danbi’s friend is such a sweetheart
- The ending has to be one of the best things about this mini-drama. I love the closure it gives to each character and how neatly it ties up the loose ends, even the ones I never expected it to tie up like Danbi’s yellow umbrella on the bus
- Again, for its length and production value, I’m impressed at how completed of a character arc Danbi got
- Danbi being Jang Yeong-sil, something I only found out after the fact, is a little mind boggling. I complained multiple times throughout about how sick of this whole “time-traveler proves how much better they are than our ancestors with basic modern knowledge and common sense invention” trope I am, and was ready to dunk on the drama for going overboard with it…. Turns out, Jang Yeong-sil did in fact invent the rain gauge, the water clock, and the sundial, amongst other things. Huh.
Final Rating and Recommendations
Splash Splash Love is a cute and funny two-episode Korean miniseries from 2015 about time-traveling, the value of schools, confronting your fears, and falling in love. Despite how much story it packs into 120 minutes, it’s a low-stakes, low-effort watch that may just surprise you with how much you like it.
It may not be a masterpiece you can’t afford to miss, but it delivers a tight and solid story full of potential, with characters that will leave you wanting more. It’s well worth two hours of any boring days of your life.
My Rating: 5.5/10