Expressing one’s feelings is one of the hardest things to do. Opening your heart to someone means taking a risk. Your either go big or you go home. To escape this dilemma, people like to express their feelings anonymously. But that’s just one side of the coin. What if you want to know how many people like you? The contemporary society is obsessed with their online presence. People spend a lot of time on social media, grooming their profiles for the sole purpose of gathering more followers and amassing more likes. Netflix’s Korean-language show, ‘Love Alarm’ brings a twist on this concept and delivers a heartbreaking love story.
What if there was some way to find love around you? What if you could find your soulmate while crossing a street or sitting in a café? Love Alarm is an app that lets you know if someone in close vicinity to you is in love with you. The story follows a love triangle while covering a number of issues, including the pros and cons of the app. The season ends on a nail-biting cliff-hanger, so whatever feelings you have by the end of it, you might have to keep them suppressed until the next season. If you haven’t yet seen the show, head over to Netflix. You don’t want that ending spoiled for you. And since you are going to have a lot of questions after you are done with the first season, you might want to bookmark this page.
Summary of the Plot
Kim Jo-jo has a terrible secret that she doesn’t want anyone to know about. It is about her parents, who are now dead. She lives with her aunt and cousin. Due to the circumstances surrounding her parents’ death, Jo-jo’s aunt despises her. She has given her a home and pays her school fees, but beyond that, she doesn’t show any love for her. Jo-jo’s cousin, Gool-mi is even more spiteful. She is one of the popular girls in school and is used to taking what she wants. She already despises Jo-jo a lot, but it turns into outright hatred when Hwang Sun-oh comes to their school. He is a model who had been in the US for the past two years. He is incredibly popular and once he enters the school, all girls have their eyes on him. But Sun-oh is attracted to Jo-jo, who doesn’t treat him like others. What complicates the situation is that Sun-oh’s best friend, Lee Hye-yeong, is also in love with Jo-jo. In fact, he had been in love with her even before Sun-oh came back.
Meanwhile, a new app has taken the world by storm. Called Love Alarm, it is developed by an anonymous person and notifies its users when someone who is in love with them comes within the radius of 10m to them. The show takes place over two timelines, the one during the school days, and the other four years later. As we go back and forth, we discover the changing dynamics of love and friendship, and what effects this new app has on society.
The Ending: Whom Did Kim Jo-jo Choose?
Before we jump into other discussions, we need to talk about the ending. In the last episode, we see that both Sun-oh and Hye-yeong have made their feelings clear to Jo-jo. Previously, Hye-yeong had decided to take the backseat when Sun-oh got together with Jo-jo. But after four years of their separation, he decides to make his love known. Jo-jo explains Sun-oh why she broke up with him all those years ago, but he is not convinced that she has moved on. He wants proof of it and asks her to ring the love alarm in Hye-yeong and his presence.
There is one slight problem though. All those years ago, when she decided to suppress her feelings, she received a shield app from Duk-Gu, who didn’t want her to face the same heart-break he had faced with Gool-mi. The terms of activating the app require the user to give up their freedom to disable it. Only the developer of the app can do that for you. If Jo-jo’s doesn’t find the developer and get that alarm off, she won’t be able to back her decision. Moreover, she might even not be able to decide if the decision she has made is entirely true or not. Without it, she will always live in doubt; wondering if she has feelings for the one she did not choose.
In the last scene, we see her caught up in a hallway, between Sun-oh and Hye-yeong. Her love alarm shows two people in her vicinity who are in love with her. Meanwhile, we meet the developer of Love Alarm, i.e., Duk Gu aka Brian Chon. Turns out, he really did just disappear, he did not commit suicide. As the protestors gather outside to spread awareness about the side-effects of Love Alarm, Chon introduces the world to a new, improved version. In Love Alarm 2.0, he takes things a step further and allows the app’s users to know who will fall in love with them over the course of time. Since Jo-jo isn’t able to meet the developer, she couldn’t get the alarm off. With both men in love with her, who will she choose?
The season ends with this cliff-hanger, and it is definitely one of the most frustrating endings of the year. To know exactly what happens after this, we will have to wait for the Love Alarm season 2, but that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate. Considering how hard fans are rooting for Jo-jo and Sun-oh, she might eventually choose him. After all, he is her first love, and the break-up wasn’t at all his fault. Jo-jo had chosen to end it by herself, which actually makes us feel bad for Sun-oh. He had been very good to her and their relationship worked like a dream. Even before the love alarm and other stuff, there was an instant connection between them and, not to forget, the undeniable chemistry. We don’t need any proof to see that she is still somewhat, if not entirely, in love with Sun-oh. So, odds really are in his favour.
However, we wouldn’t want to underestimate the charm of Hye-yeong. He is warm and kind and what gives him an edge over Sun-oh is that he can connect with Jo-jo’s background. Both of them have had to work hard to make their living and they know what it’s like in the real world. Moreover, we are also a bit vexed with the fact that Sun-oh went after Jo-jo despite knowing how Hye-yeong felt about her. On top of that, four years is a long time, and as Jo-jo says, they are not the same teenagers anymore. The meaning of life has changed and this also means a possible change in her feelings. Maybe she really has grown out of her puppy love for Sun-oh and is considering Hye-yeong more seriously. With no love alarm to tell her what she really feels deep down, she could go with her gut and choose Hye-yeong.
Love Alarm Story and Theme
The core theme of the show is love, though in a very different light than what we usually see. With the release of Love Alarm, everyone opens up themselves to a dangerous situation. It is highly motivating for popular people, who have their alarm ringing all the time. In some cases, it helps people express their mutual attraction. But situations can get far worse than this. What if the alarm never rings for anyone? What if, someone that you like doesn’t like you back, and it becomes public?
Duk Gu comes up with the idea of the app in order to express his feeling to Gool-mi. However, instead of being accepted by her, he receives pure hatred from her, which breaks his morale. In another instance, we see a group of boys beating up another boy because he likes one of them. This presents another downside to the app. You are opening up yourself completely. Even your deepest emotions are now out for display. Worse than this is the situation for the people who never receive the ring. There are already enough things in the world to let people down, to tell them that they are not loved. The Love Alarm further attests to it and makes them even more miserable. Some of them decide that they can’t take it anymore and commit mass suicide.
Wouldn’t you rather live with the ambiguity, the hope that you might find someone someday? Would you really want to be constantly on the lookout for that one ring? What if it distracts you from something that is right in front of you? The Love Alarm presents the idea of instantly clicking with someone. But falling in love is not that simple. On top of that, people fall out of love all the time. So, should we really trust an app to testify our feelings for us?
The protestors argue that the app is just another privacy violation. In fact, it is the worst of them all. If you put your feelings on display, what else is left? And is software more competent at finding love for us than our own heart? The story passes another critique on the social media culture through the example of Gool-mi. She dreams about instant fame. She is obsessed with getting into the Badge club, and wastes her time on this pursuit rather than doing something meaningful with her life. It doesn’t go so well for her, and she even receives demeaning comments on one of her videos. Her character shows us how much we depend on the opinion of the people that we don’t even know, how strong the want for validation is. Some end their lives when they don’t get it, others spend their lives chasing after it.
Love Alarm Webtoon
‘Love Alarm’ is actually based on a famous webtoon of the same name. You can read it here (if you understand Korean). Now, in case, you want to know what actually happens in the webtoon, the short answer is it’s impossible to tell. Firstly, the webtoon is not as elaborate as the Netflix show. Secondly, the show takes a slightly different approach than the webtoon. But here’s the most shocking part. The webtoon has been going on since 2014 and is now in its seventh season. So, it’s quite difficult to tell what course will the show take in its next season.
Love Alarm Season 2: What to Expect?
With the finale that season one had, it is going to be quite an ordeal for the fans to hold their breath for the next. In the course of eight episodes, the story develops from being a cute teen romance tale to the one that has several adults figuring out their lives while dealing with the pressure of the increasing popularity of the app. Starting with Gool-mi, the second season of ‘Love Alarm’ will bring her face to face with the developer she has wanted to meet with for so long. It will be one hell of a revelation for her, considering how badly she had treated Duk Gu four years ago. She had always been obsessed with fame and riches and is perhaps the most selfish character in the series. When she finally meets Duk Gu, will she finally see the error of her ways? More importantly, will Duk Gu accept her or retaliate by treating her bad?
In the final scenes of the first season, we also get to know about the features of Love Alarm 2.0. In the introduction, Brian Chon tells the world that he has added a new feature in the app which will allow people to predict whether a particular person will fall in love with them or not. Love Alarm has already caused enough chaos in the world. How worse will the situation get with this new feature? We might see a subplot in the story that handles this theme.
The most important thing, however, will be Jo-jo’s decision. Whose love alarm will she ring? If she makes her choice without the help of the app, will it be the right choice? Will she be content with the man she chooses to love or should we accept another flip in her decision? Also, how will her choice affect the friendship of Sun-oh and Hye-yeong? If she goes with the latter, will Sun-oh be able to accept that? Will he ever find love again? And if Jo-jo does choose her first love, will Hye-yeong finally let go of his affections for her? Will he make peace with the fact that he has been bested by best friend, or will the process of moving on require leaving behind his friendship with Sun-oh?