Many popular Korean movies have been globally appreciated for their intricate storylines, but these narratives are intense and not everyone may like them as much as they adore the mainstream popular K Dramas that focuses on dreamy Rom-Coms. Netflix has released an original Korean movie that is as entertaining as any mainstream Kdrama, and also manages to tackle quite a tabooed topic. “Love And Leashes” brings a fresh drama-comedy for Korean entertainment lovers. Featuring popular idols like Seohyun of Girls Generation and U-KISS’s Jun, the movie exhibits the theme of private roleplay and unconventional relationships.
‘Love And Leashes’ Plot Summary – When Ji-hoo Finds His Master
Assistant Manager Jung Ji Hoo has been recently transferred to the PR team of CenKids.co. Ji Hoo is a competent and charming man whom women try to woo all the time. In the PR team, his female subordinate has a similar name to him: Jung Ji Woo. She is straightforward and open-minded but is misunderstood by others due to her cold-face. She is often seen confronting her boss, who casually makes sexist comments on women in their team. On the very first day of his transfer, Ji Woo catches Ji Hoo’s attention when she confronts her boss about homophobia. Ji Hoo backs Ji Woo against the boss. However, the misogynist boss praises him for it but badmouths Ji Woo.
Owing to their similar names, Ji Woo mistakenly receives Ji Hoo’s parcel at the office. Ji Hoo panics and runs as fast as he can, but Ji Woo has already opened the package. The package includes a pointy neck collar and a leash. Ji Hoo says it is for his dog, but a discount coupon for adult toys falls out of the package box, exposing him. He gets afraid that she will think of him as a pervert, but she just leaves as if nothing happened. Ji Hoo tries to talk to her about not exposing him to their colleagues, but following a series of clumsy acts, ends up in the hospital with a minor concussion. Ji Woo helps him to the hospital and tries to acknowledge everything that just happened. However, Ji Hoo misinterprets that she is also into bold, intimate play and enthusiastically asks Ji Woo to be his mistress, which she coldly declines.
Ji Woo does not show, but she is flustered by receiving appreciation from Ji Hoo and is infatuated with him. She researches Dom-Sub play out of curiosity and finds it attractive. Ji Hoo has been avoiding her awkwardly since their conversation, so Ji Woo makes him understand that she does not think he is a pervert and his personal choice does not bother her. Ji Hoo gets giddy, acts cute and calls Ji Woo his mistress. This time, Ji Woo plays along. She asks Ji Hoo to obey her. Without having seen it coming, they start a Dom-Sub relationship all of a sudden. Who knows how this relationship will pan out for both of them?
Can A Physical Relationship Bring In The Feelings Of Love?
Because of her cold-face and honest nature, Ji Woo has had trouble getting into a romantic relationship. She is not the one to fake a smile to get a man’s attention. She had found Ji Hoo attractive but had kept her distance from him. She makes a contract with Ji Hoo for their different types of relationship. Their relationship is not about romance, but about sadism and masochism. The contract has rules of consent that they both agree on.
They have a contract for three months, and roleplay once every week. They have a safe word “Doong Doong” (as it was meaningful to them both). Ji Hoo’s glasses are an indication of his consent. The relationship starts with introductory roleplay and gradually increases the intensity level. Ji Woo is the Dom (dominant) who decides what to do with Ji Hoo, who is a sub (submissive) and enjoys every punishment given by his mistress. Their relationship is limited to roleplay only; they do not interfere in each other’s personal or professional lives.
However, things start to change a little when the intern Lee Han is promoted to their team, and Ji Woo is assigned as his mentor. The new employee is always around Ji Woo and often gets intimidated by her because of his mistakes. Ji Hoo starts to get jealous and annoyed that his mistress is scolding someone else. He feels as if he is losing her to someone else. On the other hand, though Ji Woo is enjoying the roleplay with Ji Hoo, she can’t help catching feelings for him. She has started to see Ji Hoo as more than just a sexual partner. However, she doesn’t know whether she is doing the right thing or feeling the right emotions! She is unsure if their relationship can handle the feelings of love and if Ji Hoo will be okay with it. How long can she hold back her emotions and hide them from Ji Hoo?
Why Is Ji-hoo Afraid Of Love?
Until now, they’ve only done roleplay indoors. One day, however, Ji Woo takes Ji Hoo outside on a date and handcuffs him with her. On this date, she has more than just roleplaying in mind. She has finally got her puzzled mind together. She confesses her feelings to Ji Hoo and asks him if they can date for real. Ji Hoo is bewildered by a sudden confession from Ji Woo, and he refuses her proposal. Their date is further interrupted as they rush to save Hye Mi (Ji Woo’s friend) from a fake and abusive person. The situation becomes awkward between the two, and they keep their distance while trying to figure out their emotions.
After a week, they are on their final roleplay before their contract expires. Even though she is rejected, Ji Woo is ready for their last and most challenging roleplay. Ji Hoo is happy and has prepared dinner for Ji Woo. His mood goes from joyful to sorrowful in a matter of seconds when, instead of Ji Woo, his ex-girlfriend Ha Na appears at his door. She had not only dumped him after learning about his fantasies, but also humiliated him. Ha Na blames him for giving her trust issues and being the reason behind her failed relationships. She ruins Ji Hoo’s mood and leaves right when Ji Woo arrives. Despite being reluctant, they still go into the roleplay, and as the mood gets intense, Ji Woo retracts. She is confused if she can be intimate with someone if they don’t like her emotionally. Ji Hoo has always overcompensated for his submissive desires by achieving success at work. He had a good romantic and intimate relationship with Ha Na, but when he told her the truth, she acted as if she had been betrayed and cheated on. She called Ji Hoo a pervert and a psychopath. Her brashness hurt Ji Hoo so much that he ended up believing that he could never have a romantic relationship because of his tendency. When Ji Woo asked him out, he denied thinking it would end up like Ha Na.
‘Love And Leashes’ Ending Explained
Amidst their contract, Ji Woo had gifted a pair of glasses to Ji Hoo, which he wears to the office every day. It is a secret sign for their roleplay in the office. When Ji Hoo is done being jealous of Ji Woo and her junior, he signals Ji Woo to meet after working hours in the office lounge. He complains to her about scolding her junior. Initially, Ji Woo tells Ji Hoo to keep their personal and professional lives separate, but soon after, she turns into his mistress and starts punishing him for not trusting her. Their roleplay becomes chaotic, and their office is a mess. Even with the risk of exposing their secret, Ji Woo and Ji Hoo get carried away in their roleplay.
Ji Woo and Ji Hoo’s reckless office roleplay comes back to bite them in the neck when Ji Woo’s junior accidentally leaks their recorded audio of the office roleplay. Their risky office relationship is exposed, and now they have to sit in front of the disciplinary committee that is going to confront them about their relationship. As headstrong as Ji Woo is, she faces the committee confidently and accepts their mistake, but denies disclosing their personal relationship. They are not dating, and she is not sure if the committee will understand the Dom-Sub relationship they have. Ji Hoo takes a stand on this and confesses his feelings for Ji Woo in front of the committee. Ji Woo thinks he is doing it to cover up the controversy, but he convinces her that his feelings are sincere.
They start dating for real while still keeping their Dom-Sub relationship. Ji Woo, who has been insecure about seeming too blunt for a man, met Ji Hoo, who appreciated her for who she was. Likewise, Ji Hoo, who thought no one would ever love him because of his submissive tendency, met Ji Woo, who accepted him as he was. Instead of showing a topic like wild intimacy in a mysterious and dark way, “Love and Leashes” presents it in a humorous way. The movie takes a step towards breaking the barrier of taboo by showing a story of two regular office employees, like the ones we meet in our daily lives. This very thing makes “Love And Leashes” a good entertainer while being groundbreaking.
In cinema, there is plenty of representation of resolute and intimidating women as compared to sensitive men. In the world, gender bias is not only against women but against men as well. While women are criticized for being too opinionated and bold, men are also bullied if they are not so-called “man enough”. Jung Ji Hoo is the kind of man who wears a mask every day to prove his masculinity. “Love and Leashes” shows that Korean entertainment has come a long way from the past 15 years when toxic masculinity and toxic femininity was sold as mainstream entertainment.
“Love And Leashes” is a 2022 South Korean Romance Drama film written and directed by Hyeon-jin Park.