Love Is In The App
When it comes to romantic dramas, love triangles are a staple of this genre and have been for as long as I can remember. Capitalizing on this age-old tradition, new Korean drama Love Alarm mixes romance with the arrival of a phone app called Love Alarm, changing the way high school students’ attitude toward romance.
We begin the first episode 1530 days since Love Alarm was launched. As a large heart fills the cloudless sky, Kim Jojo receives a notification on her phone that someone within 10 meters loves her. Across the street is Sun-Oh, and as Christmas cheer grips the streets, we cut back in time 4 years, a week before Love Alarm is launched.
After saying goodbye to her friends, high school student Kim heads home while Hwang Sun-Oh returns from abroad, intent on spending time with his friend Lee Hye-Yeong but finds himself disappointed when he avoids his calls, instead pursuing his love interest on the way home from work. Sun-Oh follows from afar, eventually confronting his friend over his actions before they head inside together.
With the Love Alarm app in full swing, Sun-Oh arrives at school and finds his phone going crazy, as plenty of girls take a fancy to him. However, he ignores most of the notifications and instead locks eyes with Kim Jojo on the stairs. As time appears to stop, the two stare each other down but as Kim doesn’t have the app, Sun-Oh becomes more interested in her, given he doesn’t receive an alarm on his phone.
As K-Pop oozes into the speakers, a large heart appears in the clouds, sending the school into rapturous chaos as phones blink with notifications and the Love Alarm app officially launches. It’s a pretty impressive promotional tactic and one that appears to work well here on everyone. Except Kim Jojo, who reacts indifferently to the entire concept, especially given she already has a boyfriend in Il-Sik.
Nervous, Sun-Oh convinces Hye-Yeong to follow Kim due to his obvious affection for her, where he learns more about the reserved girl and sees she has a boyfriend, immediately ending his pursuit of her. Bogged down with work, Kim blows off her boyfriend, Jang Il-Sik’s, invitation to go and grab something to eat until she’s spotted hiding out in the bushes, leading to an awkward fight to ensue between them.
Ever the romantic, Sun-Oh stalks Kim Jojo for the rest of the day, watching from afar as he finds her at the makeup counter at the cosmetic store and the bus-stop. He tells her he doesn’t want to go home and asks her about Love Alarm, telling her she’s being ridiculous as his app isn’t receiving any notifications. She tells him not to follow her unless he’s interested so he continues to walk toward her, eventually leading her into a quiet alleyway where he tells her he has something to say.
Alone, they talk about Jojo’s strained upbringing and they both open up to one another. She tells him she doesn’t have parents and he attempts to kiss her instead, which she initially rejects, asking if he even listened to anything she said. He replies he wasn’t and eventually the two do eventually kiss.
As an opening episode, Love Alarm does well to check all the boxes in the romance genre but does little to really differentiate itself from other titles out there. The Love Alarm app is a timely and interesting concept, bringing up questions around love and whether digital apps influences our choices, offering some promising ideas to (hopefully) be explored in the future. Right now though, Love Alarm gets off to an okay start, setting the foundation for the series to come, without ever deviating from the tried and tested script of other romantic dramas.