The moment Lotte Duty Free announced this little web series for the festive season, I knew I’d be tuning in, no matter what. I mean, to have Lee Jun Ki, Park Hae Jin, Ji Chang Wook, Kai, Taecyeon, Lee Jong Suk and Lee Min Ho in the leading men line-up? Even the most big-budget blockbuster movie production would have trouble pulling that off.
So tune in I did; which wasn’t hard to do, really, with each episode topping out at a very compact 7-8 minutes. And y’know what, for what it is (an unabashed, extended CF for Lotte Duty Free, in case you were wondering), this show’s a fun little ride.
STUFF THAT WORKED FOR ME
The premise is as fantastical as it is cheeky: Soo Jin (Lee Cho Hee) helps Choi Ji Woo’s angelic otherworldly character by returning her heavenly passport, and in return, receives the chance to meet a parade of handsome suitors. She gets to spend time with each potential boyfriend – up until the moment before she gets to kiss him. That’s when the fantasy gets broken (boo), and the next suitor is lined up for more dating and almost-kissing (yay?).
Besides the concept, which I found cute and rather intriguing, here’s a quick list of the other stuff that I liked about this itty-bitty little web series.
1. Lee Cho Hee is cute
I’ve had affection for Lee Cho Hee for a while now, and most recently found her amusing and quite adorable in Lucky Romance as our leading lady’s bestie.
I was happy to see Lee Cho Hee get a break from being someone’s bestie, and get the chance to be in the spotlight as this story’s leading lady. I found her likable and cute in the role, and her earthy charm definitely helped to take the edge off some of the more cringe-worthy secondhand-embarrassing moments that Soo Jin experiences over the course of our story.
2. The Parade of Pretty
Show unabashedly serves up the Pretty, and I unabashedly signed up for the Pretty as well, heh.
Except for Kai, with whom I’m unfamiliar thanks to my being a perennial kpop noob, I have varying levels of affection for all the other leading men, and was happy to see them on my screen, even if each of them only got the spotlight for a quick episode each. The good thing about this particular parade of Pretty, is that even if you’re a little sorry to say goodbye to one leading man, another one is always at the ready, to take the edge off any lingering disappointment. Now that’s what I call efficient. Ha.
3. A little something for everyone
Whether you’re more into dramas or kpop, and whether you prefer a typical rom-com, an action spy-flick, or a Dramatic Makjang-fest, there is literally a little something for everyone in this little web series. The episodes span a good number of genres, with Taecyeon’s Makjang-fest of an episode standing out with its tongue-in-cheek nod to (almost) all the tropes we’ve come to associate with classic makjang.
I think perhaps the only obvious pillar that was missing in this entire story, is the sageuk genre. Ha. That would’ve been a hoot, wouldn’t it, to have sageuk-robed characters swishing around Lotte Duty Free with their manes of glory? Gah. Now I really want that to have been Lee Jun Ki’s episode. To have him appear as Wang So, all masked and smoldery, time-slipped into the present, and ready to sweep the Lotte Duty Free information counter girl off her feet. I would be so down for that!
Clearly, managing expectations is key in order to enjoy this little web series. I mean, if you harbored serious hopes for a robust narrative &/or well-developed characters and relationships, you’d be quickly and quite thoroughly disappointed.
But, if you switch off the ol’ brain and keep your fun, irreverent lens on, all the onscreen absurdities, along with the ever-present PPL, become part of this show’s charm.
MY FAVORITE ALMOST-BOYFRIEND
Of course, the inevitable question is, who’s my pick for favorite almost-boyfriend?
While I do have fresh and lingering affection for Lee Jun Ki after his amazing turn in Moon Lovers, I’m gonna hafta say that it was Ji Chang Wook’s episode that I liked best.
[MINOR SPOILERS] I mean, not only does he get to be all badass and Healer-esque (Healer-yaaa~!), Soo Jin gets to kick ass right along with him. I like a strong heroine any hour of the day, so seeing them fight side by side was a big win for me.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [MINOR SPOILERS]
Basically, there are no major surprises with this show, in that we know from all the promotional material – posters included – the exact order in which the boys appear. Therefore, it’s obvious that Lee Min Ho, being the last leading man scheduled, is going to be Soo Jin’s real shot at romance.
While I found Soo Jin’s initial reaction to Lee Min Ho extra cringe-worthy and secondhand-embarrassing, I liked that by the time she interacts with him properly outside the department store, her feet are much more firmly on the ground. Soo Jin’s no longer got her head in the clouds from all the fantasy-dating, and is even able to connect meaningfully with him on a topic that’s important to him.
I felt that was a nice, down-to-earth note to end on, which is not bad at all, for a featherweight fantasy web series.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Light, harmless fun, if you can keep your lens dialed firmly to fluffy, mindless fluff.
FINAL GRADE: B
All the episodes are available, subbed and in HD, on YouTube. Here’s episode 1, if you feel like dipping your toes in right away.