Review: Our Beloved Summer

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A slice-of-life second-chance sort of romance that manages to pack a good amount of emotional heft, despite its rather unassuming trappings.

I don’t love all of Show’s decisions, but by and large, I found this story and its characters to be thoughtfully written, and excellently delivered, such that everything comes across as raw, honest, relatable and so, so heartfelt.

The standouts are undoubtedly Choi Woo Sik and Kim Da Mi, who both inhabit their characters with so much detail and nuance, that I can’t actually picture other actors playing these characters.

Add on a very lovely, very immersive OST, and this was pretty much drama catnip, for me.

THE LONG VERDICT:

The thing that really strikes me about this show, is how down-to-earth and slice-of-life it is, while still managing to serve up the spazzy squee and swoony moments of a budding romance.

Our characters feel like real, flawed people who are just trying to do their best in life, and the spazzy, melty moments of romance, are teased out in the small, everyday sort of things.

I honestly love that. It makes me feel like swoony romance is within reach for even us normal folks, who don’t live in a kdrama, and – isn’t that one of the reasons we love kdramas, to begin with?

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

I truly loved the music in this show. The tracks are mostly laidback and breezy, with lashings of ethereal. I found it all very enjoyable, and I actually perked up when some of these tracks came on, because I felt that they really amplified the feels, and deepened my immersion in our drama world.

In terms of a favorite, I’d have to pick Track 5, Christmas Tree. There’s just something very ear-wormy about the falsetto chorus; it really sticks with me, even though there are many other lovely tracks on the OST. I do also have soft spots for Track 6, Home, Track 8, The Giving Tree, and Track 9, Summer Rain.

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are few things which I think would be useful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. Sometimes, not a lot happens in our drama world.

Meaning, there aren’t a lot of big events, in our drama world, and relationship development can feel pretty slow. However –

2. It always feels like there is a lot going on, in our characters’ emotional landscapes.

A lot of the enjoyment of watching this show, comes from teasing out what’s really going on, with each of our characters.

I am so engaged by the process, of peeling back the layers on how our characters feel, and what they’ve gone through in the past, that have made them what they are in the present. This kind of thing is totally my jam, and I really, really like how it’s done in this show, but I understand that it might not be for everyone.

3. The characters grow on you.

So if you don’t take to any of our key character right away, give it some time. Show will likely peel back enough layers to help you change your mind.

STUFF I LIKED

General writing and handling

Like I mentioned, I didn’t love all of Show’s narrative decisions (which I’ll talk more about later), but there really is a lot about Show’s general writing and handling that I loved.

Basically, when I loved Show, I loved it a great deal. It literally felt like Show was.. sparkling under the light, to use a very drama-esque sort of phrase.

Here’s a quick list of the things that I loved about Show, when Show did these things well.

1. The dialogue is snappy yet feels plausibly real.

You know how I’ve mentioned that in several recent shows, I’ve felt that the dialogue is too snappy to feel plausibly real, and that then comes across as fake and try-hard to my ears?

This show manages to pitch its dialogue at a frequency where I feel it is snappy, and yet, still feels believable to my ears. That’s hard to achieve, because it’s so easy to go too hard, and come across as too snappy, or not go hard enough, and just.. not sound snappy.

Show’s hit the perfect balance, I feel, and I liked this a lot.

2. Show makes it all feel fresh – even when it employs the use of tropes.

It feels like these narrative pieces do fit naturally together like this, because they spark this way, and it’s mere coincidence, that other dramas have featured these elements before.

3. The way Show plays with context.

The way Show is approaches our characters’ backstories, giving us fragments of context at a time, makes the watch feel more interesting, at least to me.

I feel like each time Show gives me a fragment of context, it colors my perception of this drama world, and these characters, a little differently, and I find that interesting.

4. Our characters feel like real people.

So often, I felt like so much of what Show serves up, felt painfully relatable, even though I don’t think I’ve ever been in these actual situations.

That’s just how much Ung and Yeon Su – and Ji Ung! – feel like real people; I can completely understand why they might feel a certain way, or react a certain way, and, putting myself in their shoes, I feel like I’d probably react in the same way too.

I think a lot of it has to do with how writer-nim shows an understanding of people’s inner workings.

5. Our characters’ growth feels so natural

In fact, their growth feels so organic, that I mostly didn’t notice it happening, so much, until I compared later versions of our characters, with their earlier selves. That’s when the growth became most apparent to me.

That’s good writing.

Choi Woo Sik as Ung

I love Choi Woo Sik as Ung, so much. ❤️

To be honest, I don’t naturally gravitate towards beta male leads (I think? I might be evolving, though, so I’m not 100% sure), but Show does such a good job of teasing out Ung’s charm, that I often found myself charmed too, in spite of myself.

On paper, Ung’s an introverted beta male who has few friends, not much of a social life, and little interest in anything other than his art.

He could have been pretty bland, but Show does a great job bringing out Ung’s likability and charm to us as viewers, and therefore, it’s not hard to understand why the female characters in our drama world find themselves falling for Ung, in spite of themselves.

I’ll talk more about Ung in my OTP section, but for now, here are a handful my observations around Ung, during my watch.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. And, even though Ung is portrayed as a bit of a hogu (Korean slang for fool), somehow, he doesn’t strike me as pathetic. I think part of the reason is Choi Woo Wik’s delivery, and the other part of it, I think, is the fact that Ung doesn’t think of himself as a loser.

It’s like.. everyone else judges him based on a certain social barometer, but he just doesn’t see himself existing in the same space, to be judged by that social barometer – if that makes sense. He’s in his own world, and happy in his own world. The real world seems to intrude on his world, almost like an inconvenient annoyance. I like that.

E7. Ung’s little interaction with NJ is cute and amusing as before, but taking a harder look at the way Ung is so obtuse to NJ’s position, perhaps Show is demonstrating that Ung’s not a very empathetic person.

As in, he sees his own position clearly, but may not be very good at picking up on how someone else might feel, in their position. And, if he can’t pick up on the fact that he ought to invite NJ out for a meal, after all that she’s done for him, it makes sense that he can’t pick up on how Yeon Su’s got a lot of hidden hurt that she’s not talking about.

E8. I do like the little detail, that Ung’s popularity as an artist, is now meshing with his real-life identity, with lots of admiring visitors coming to his neighborhood to see the buildings that he’s drawn.

I just love the idea that the people in his orbit – like that ahjusshi that keeps hanging out at Ung’s family restaurant – are coming to realize just how successful Ung is, contrary to what they’d believed.

E10. I really like how genuinely good-natured and kind Ung is, and how that comes out this episode, when he’s on that non-date with NJ. The way he instinctively stands up, wanting to defend NJ against the critical loudmouths at the cafe, says a lot about him, I feel.

And, from Ung’s expression, I can see that he sincerely feels bad for NJ, for having to deal with such uncalled for vitriol, on a daily basis. He’s an empathetic one, Ung is.

I love what he tells NJ, so earnestly, “You don’t need their understanding. There’s no need for you to do that. Who cares? Let them see and believe what they want. It’s fine as long as you understand yourself. That’s already hard enough.”

Aw. I love that. That is just the sort of encouraging, liberating thing NJ needs to hear. No wonder she can’t stop herself from falling for Ung.

E14. I like how introspective Ung is being. He doesn’t have a lot of information, except for the hint from Gran (Cha Mi Kyung), that she and Yeon Su had been through tough times for a season.

Instead of blaming Yeon Su for keeping that from him, Ung turns his attention on himself, and wonders if he’s not dependable enough, and that’s why Yeon Su had felt unable to confide in him.

I mean, it’s not the reason Yeon Su broke up with him, but I just really like how Ung is quick to examine himself, rather than point fingers at someone else. That feels like growth, to me.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Da Mi as Yeon Su

I am happily blown away by how much I like Kim Da Mi as Yeon Su.

On paper, Yeon Su would easily be categorized as annoying, with her tendency to be overly blunt, and say rather unpleasant things. YET. She doesn’t actually come across as annoying, and I put that all down to Kim Da Mi’s delivery of the lines.

Somehow, in Kim Da Mi’s hands, Yeon Su’s nuances – like her insecurities and her vulnerabilities – come peeking through.

I especially liked the beats in our story, where Yeon Su’s vulnerabilities come through more visibly, because they lend such an important layer of meaning and depth, to Yeon Su’s bluster.

The more we get to know Yeon Su, the clearer it becomes, that even though she talks big and acts tough, she’s really a lot more vulnerable than she’d like to let on. I think Kim Da Mi does a great job of revealing those vulnerabilities to us, without the need for a whole lot of dialogue.

This is honestly one of my favorite things in this show. 🤩

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Even though Yeon Su is kinda full of herself, particularly in high school, somehow, I don’t find her annoying, and I can’t pinpoint why.

I can only guess that it has to do with Kim Da Mi’s delivery of the character. I just get the sense that Yeon Su’s not malicious, and although she is proud, it feels like a naive sort of proud – a folly of youth sort of thing. Plus, time skip later, she’s been taken down more than a few pegs, when she groans internally at how this isn’t the life that she’d envisioned.

E3. Yeon Su does harbor wistfulness towards her past with Ung, even though she vehemently and repeatedly turns down Ji Ung’s request to do the documentary.

On this point, I really appreciate Kim Da Mi’s delivery of Yeon Su. She manages to make Yeon Su as outspoken, brash and self-focused as it says on paper, but somehow, in her hands, I don’t find Yeon Su truly annoying.

That layer of vulnerability consistently peeks through, and I have this assurance that there’s a lot more to Yeon Su than meets the eye.

We see it in the little shifts in her micro-expressions, and all those add up to add a great deal of heft to actual scenes that unveil Yeon Su’s true feelings, like that scene of her locking herself in the bathroom to cry, after showing the world a brave, noncommittal face all day.

E5. I have to say, I love – LOVE~! – how Yeon Su responds to Team Leader Jang (Lee Joon Hyuk), when he tells her that he’s disappointed in her for being too emotional. At first, I’d thought that her silence indicated that she felt remorseful for speaking up, but I freaking love what she says, when she speaks again:

“You’re going to have to apologize.. I’m telling you that you’re going to have to apologize to Go-oh.”

“I’m not being emotional. I’m being empathetic. Being good at your job without empathy isn’t something to be proud of. Empathy is linked to intelligence. You lacked respect for the artists and their art, Mr. Jang. What you need to do is apologize to him in person. And it will be up to me to pick up the pieces as the project lead. I hope there aren’t any more surprises like this.”

“I can’t believe you thought I was like you. It makes me reflect on my past actions.”

Burrnnn. I love it. I love her.

I love how she stands firm in the face of Jang’s disparaging remarks. Instead of being intimidated, she tells him exactly what is wrong with his point of view, while keeping the tone and context completely professional.

He didn’t put her in her place; she put him in his place, and with a matter-of-fact confidence that I can’t help but have stars in my eyes over. So good, y’all. 🤩

E6. This glimpse into the past helped to solidify one key thing that I’ve been kinda-sorta feeling about Yeon Su all this time, and that is the fragility that lies at her core, that she tries to cover up with her nonchalance and her chosen snooty persona, but which doesn’t quite conceal it all.

Those hints of fragility do so much, to endear Yeon Su to me, as a character. It’s because of these glimpses of her vulnerability, that I’ve found myself growing fond of Yeon Su, despite some of the harsher things that she says.

On that note, kudos to Kim Da Mi, because I am loving how she’s bringing forth Yeon Su, with all of these nuances and layers that aren’t necessarily reflected on paper. It’s because Kim Da Mi’s been so successful at showing us that Yeon Su’s more bluster than actual bite, that I found myself liking her so well, even from episode 1.

I feel really sorry for Yeon Su, for how her life, which she’d been barely holding together in a vague shape of happiness, falls apart, and she’s suddenly thrust with having to pay the debt of an uncle whom she’s never met.

With how Show juxtaposes her reality, and Ung’s preferred reality, it’s easy to see why Yeon Su feels that they live in different worlds, and it’s actually rather understandable, why she’d feel that it wouldn’t be right, to pull Ung into her world, when what he wanted out of life, was to lie in the sun, stress-free.

On top of that, there’s the thing where she sees that Ung won’t go for an overseas opportunity, and while it’s implied rather than specified, it’s not hard to see that a big part of the reason for Ung’s reluctance to go, is because he doesn’t want to leave Yeon Su behind.

With her life in such a state, and her thoughts around her and Ung’s worlds reaching such a conclusion, and with Ung being so ready to forsake his talent, partly because of her, it’s not hard to understand why Yeon Su would have decided that the best thing for the both of them, would be to break up.

Plus, there’s that detail, that Yeon Su shares that Ung had been her escape from her reality, so in a symbolic sort of way, her breaking up with him, was her way of facing up to her reality – with no more escapes.

E14. I really like the idea of Yeon Su trying to open up to others, like the way she invites her colleagues to a dinner gathering, and offers to pay, because she feels bad for interrupting their work with the filming of the documentary.

It feels like with her happiness quotient buoyed by her blossoming re-romance with Ung, Yeon Su’s finding space in her heart to open up to others.

I also really like how excited everyone is, at Yeon Su’s gesture of friendliness, and how bashful-surprised this makes Yeon Su, to realize that people actually like her and want to spend time in her company. This feels like a new discovery for her, and I like that a lot.

[END SPOILER]

Ung and Yeon Su together

I really, really like Ung and Yeon Su together. The connection between these two, is literally THE highlight of my watch experience, no exaggeration.

In terms of the writing, I really like the tone on which Show pitches Ung and Yeon Su against each other. It’s bickery and sharp, but it doesn’t cross over to the overly aggressive sort of bickery that I find hard to watch.

Additionally, I really like Kim Da Mi and Choi Woo Sik in these roles. These roles seem tailor made for each of them, honestly. They both make Yeon Su and Ung feel like real people, even though, on paper, these characters look kinda like stereotypes.

It’s Kim Da Mi’s and Choi Woo Sik’s deliveries that help to make both these characters pop. There is so much that’s added, via their micro-expressions and body language, that makes the words of their characters feel so much more rich with meaning, than what’s written on the page.

Even the way both characters blink vary from moment to moment, implying different shades of emotion. One moment it might be disbelief, and another moment, it’s awkwardness, and then uncertainty, and then yet another moment, it could be derision. I can’t look away, and I love it.

Plus, these two just feel so.. natural, together. I can totally believe that they’ve spent many months and years in each other’s company, with the emotional baggage to go with.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. The way Yeon Su approaches Ung to do the project, which would require him to reveal his identity, there is also no acknowledgment or consideration for this aspect of Ung as an artist. In fact, Yeon Su shows impatience with Ung, for turning her down right away, without listening to her full proposal.

In that moment, I couldn’t help thinking, “But.. that’s his prerogative, as an artist? And you’ve said that you’re here to speak with him as an artist..?” I personally think it’s unreasonable of Yeon Su to just launch into this, expecting Ung to forsake one of his fundamental rules as an artist, in order to collaborate with her.

I mean, yes, Ung doesn’t carry himself very admirably either, with the way he sprays water at her and throws salt at her, but strictly speaking, as an artist, he hasn’t done anything wrong, and I feel that Yeon Su fails to recognize this.

Of course, that’s also one of the things that helps to bring out just how tangled the connection is, between Ung and Yeon Su.

We’re still not told what exactly happened between them, but it’s clear that whatever it was, it had been bad, and feelings were hurt, badly, and it’s now complicated, and difficult for either of them to keep things purely professional – because all those old, put-away emotions are now rearing their inconvenient heads.

From what we know, Ung had felt very hurt, so much so that he’d rehearsed how he would spray water at Yeon Su, and throw salt at her, if she ever appeared before him again. That gives me the feeling that it had been Yeon Su who had broken things off with Ung.

At the same time, we are given glimpses into what the relationship had been like, over the years that they had been together. And Yeon Su’s habit of asking Ung those “what if” questions, while tiresome from Ung’s point of view, definitely was coming from somewhere.

From what she says in her voiceovers, she’d felt insecure, from Ung’s inability to articulate his feelings for her, and that had fed her desire to get some kind of verbal affirmation out of him somehow.

It had manifested in those “what if” questions, which didn’t help her get what she’d wanted, and had also served to wear down Ung’s patience, so that’s unfortunate. But it also feels quite true to life. I can imagine real people having these hang-ups, and attempting to deal with said hang-ups, in exactly this manner, with exactly this type of not-great results.

E3. One of the things I find myself enjoying a lot, is the peeling back of Yeon Su’s layers. Even though Ung starts the episode listing all of the things he hates about Yeon Su, and a lot of her behaviors really are selfish and unreasonable, that underlying fact, that she shows him her true self, and that true self really cares about him and is protective of him, is really quite endearing.

I can see why this would make Ung feel special. If Yeon Su basically doesn’t show her innermost self to anyone but him, how could he not feel special? And if she uses her assertive belligerence in defense of him, how could he not melt?

Plus, even though she acts dismissive of his earnest requests, like to see the cherry blossoms together, she eventually shows that she was listening all along, and wants to make it up to him. The way she threw cherry blossoms in the air, over him, to make it feel like he was under the cherry blossom trees, is really quite endearing, I thought.

In comparison, Ung feels much more like an open book, in that we can see how flummoxed he is, to see Yeon Su again, and to keep running into her, around every corner. And, we can also see how much she preoccupies his thoughts, even though he doesn’t want to admit it.

Ung clearly still has feelings for Yeon Su, which is why he reacts so strongly in her presence. His heart is still in pieces, it looks like, over how she’d broken up with him, 5 years ago.

Even though Ung tells himself that he’s punishing Yeon Su by forcing her to do the documentary with him, I’m pretty sure that, soon enough, we’ll be getting some proof that this was all just an excuse for him to spend more time with her – without having to admit to her (or to himself!) how he still feels.

E4. That whole bit in the beginning of the episode, where Ung and Yeon Su give very different accounts of the same event, feels really relatable.

It’s such a human thing, to have different versions of events in our heads, because of the mashup of, 1, our different individual filters, 2, our resulting different ways of interpreting things, and 3, our unreliable, selective memory that sometimes blocks out inconvenient details, almost as a reflex.

One of the biggest things I’m taking away from this initial interview of Yeon Su and Ung, is that there might be some bluster in there to protect their pride, and some eye-rolling and ribbing as well, towards the other person, but there isn’t a sense of genuine malice.

It’s clear to me as a neutral bystander, that these two people don’t actually hate or dislike each other, no matter what they might say, to protect their pride.

The unguarded moments, are when things get extra interesting, because this is when we get a glimpse into Ung’s &/or Yeon Su’s true feelings towards each other.

Like that moment when Ung’s drifting in and out of dreamland, and, thinking that the sight of Yeon Su in front of him is a dream, reached out to gently touch her cheek. Oooh. That’s way different than the standoffish vibe that he’s been giving off, in her presence, isn’t it??

This feels like such a vulnerable, raw sort of moment, made all the more vulnerable by Ung’s voiceover, where he talks about his inability to sleep well. It makes this moment take on a rather plaintive sort of vibe, I feel like.

I also really like the moments when Ung lets down his guard a little, like when he invites Yeon Su to see his studio, so that she can take a look at his drawings, if she’s got nothing else to do. Aw. He’s so cute.

I actually really love this little scene, where they both appear to forget for a while, that they’re kind of at loggerheads with each other. The tone of their conversation is slightly tentative, but open, and I love that Yeon Su asks curious questions about Ung’s drawings, and Ung answers readily and quite enthusiastically.

With their broken-up-and-still-hurting context forgotten for a while, in this moment that feels suspended in time, it’s quite lovely to see how easily and well these two get along. It’s moments like these, that make me root for them to get back together again.

Underneath all that bluster, it’s becoming clear that Ung and Yeon Su have both been more hurt than they’d like to admit, by their relationship and break-up.

Ung says that Yeon Su ruined his life, while Yeon Su blurts out, “You think you’re the only victim here since I’m not saying anything.” … “Do you think I’m solely to blame for our breakup?”

What I do really appreciate, though, is how we see that despite everything that’s transpired, Yeon Su still cares about Ung as a person and as an artist, and works to clear his name in the face of allegations of plagiarism, even though they are officially still kind of at loggerheads with each other.

I just love this idea that she knows him and his history so well, that she just knows that he didn’t plagiarize anyone’s work. After all, she’d been there, watching, when he’d first started doodling buildings, back in school.

Plus, when Team Leader Jang asks Ung those uncomfortable questions about the alleged plagiarism, it’s Yeon Su who attempts to stop him, multiple times, in the hope that Ung wouldn’t need to face such an uncomfortable situation. That strikes me as considerate and empathetic.

What’s most interesting to me, at this point, is that when Ung hears from Nu-a (Kwak Dong Yeon) that they’ll be pitted against each other for the live show, his primary concern isn’t his creative integrity or reputation, but whether Yeon Su knew about this.

Clearly, from Yeon Su’s confused and startled reaction, this is news to her, but it’s also clear that all of Ung’s past hurts are coloring his vision so bad, that he can’t see that Yeon Su’s as surprised to learn about this, as he is.

I love the epilogue, when we finally get to see the objective, historical version of events (ie, not just through their heavily filtered memories). And it’s clear to me, that they’d both contributed towards their connection going from platonic to romantic.

Through all the bickering and nagging, there’s definitely genuine concern on both sides, and a growing sense of hyperawareness, too.

I love how it all comes to a head, and Ung blurts out, “This isn’t good. I think I like you.” Ahhh! Cute, cute! 🤩

E5. Of course Ung knows that Yeon Su’s as surprised as he is, about the collab. After all, it’s written all over her face, and her surprised reaction supports that.

Therefore, it only makes sense that he’s taking the opportunity to lash out at her, for something else, and what else could cause him to have such a strong reaction, but his residual hurt from their break-up, and his remaining feelings for her?

In terms of relationship dynamic, all this time, I’d had the impression that Yeon Su had been the one with Ung wrapped around her little finger, for the duration of their relationship. But that flashback to the library, where we see that it’s Ung who approaches Yeon Su, and basically coaches and coaxes her to apologize, definitely fleshes out the picture better.

With this single scene, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ung knew exactly how to handle Yeon Su, as much as she knew how to handle him.

It’s not so much that he was helplessly wrapped  around her little finger; he actually didn’t mind it, and therefore allowed himself to be wrapped around her little finger. He says so himself, when he tells her that in the end, he’ll always be the one to give in anyway – and all she needs to to, is apologize.

He’s plenty capable of drawing his boundaries with her, and clearly, he can manage her quirks, just as capably as she manages his.

The fact that he ups to leave – and that’s the thing that galvanizes Yeon Su into apologizing, speaks volumes about their relationship. He’s as important to her, as she is to him. Because of this, I love this scene.

With the sudden change in the way Ung relates to Yeon Su, starting from Sol Yi’s (Park Jin Joo) bar, I’d had the feeling that something had gone down, when Ung had met up with Team Leader Jang.

We only see it in flashback, in this episode’s epilogue, but with Jang being the second person to point out to Ung that he clearly still has feelings for Yeon Su in a short space of time, I’m guessing that’s given Ung some things to think about.

Plus, there’s also the fact that Ung is now clear that Jang doesn’t have romantic feelings or intentions towards Yeon Su, which ought to clear Ung’s head further.

I think that’s why Ung is able to put aside his personal feelings, and act in the more professional space. I actually like the fact that he apologizes and is clear that he knows it’s not Yeon Su’s fault, even though this ironically makes Yeon Su feel ill at ease.

My guess is that this sparks a need in Ung, for deep thought and reflection, and perhaps this is why he sets that 100-hour goal for himself. I imagine that when he’s drawing, and in the zone, that’s likely when his mind is clearest, and his thoughts flow most easily.

And perhaps that’s why, it’s at the end of his marathon drawing session, that he grabs Yeon Su’s hand and asks if she’d like to sleep over. Ahh!! I really hadn’t seen that coming. 👀 Has Ung gotten his feelings about Yeon Su straightened out?

How will Yeon Su respond??? I mean, she’s clearly becoming more hyperaware of Ung, now that she’s been observing him in his professional space.

Not only was she concerned enough about his wellbeing, that she convinced herself to bring him jujube tea, she’s also learning new things about him – like his quirk of wanting to be alone, while working – which she’d hadn’t known before. Surely this makes Ung more interesting than she’d expected?

E6. This episode, we finally get to the live art show that we’ve been working towards for so long, and I have to admit, I do rather like the idea of Ung finally being recognized for the artist that he is.

It was a little startling, for me to remember that even his parents had no idea of his success as an artist, and it’s Ji Ung who has to explain to them, that people had literally begged Ung to do this art show.

Although I know it’s not exactly high on Ung’s priority list, it still gives me a sense of satisfaction, to see him get praised and recognized for his work.

Part of that recognition is from Yeon Su, certainly, because each time she pauses over how Ung seems so different when he’s working, I can’t help but feel a glimmer of satisfaction for Ung, whom she’d always seemed to see as too aimless and lacking in ambition.

E6. I kinda love that NJ comes to the art show, to give Ung her support. I know that Ung wasn’t expecting her, and he’d half looked like he was walking towards Yeon Su, though I can’t be sure, so it’s possible that NJ had prevented him from saying whatever it was that he wanted to say, to Yeon Su.

And yet, I’m glad that NJ shows up like that, because, again, her presence only solidifies the idea that Ung’s a somebody now, and right now, I really want that for Ung. He’s been so undervalued for so long, by so many people, that it just makes me happy, to see him getting the recognition he deserves.

I do think that NJ’s presence is a large part of the reason Yeon Su goes drinking alone, instead of attending the after-party. She probably doesn’t want to admit it, but I’m pretty sure that it troubled her, and made her feel a bit jealous, even, to see NJ paying so much attention to Ung.

I’m so glad that Ung goes to seek out Yeon Su, to talk with her about what had happened the night before.

And, I do love that his main clue, aside from the thermos of tea that Yeon Su left behind, is how well he’d slept. That he’d been able to sleep well, simply because of her presence, is an idea that I love.

He’d stopped being able to sleep well after the break-up, and had suffered chronic insomnia for years – and the moment she shows up, just for a bit, he has the best sleep he’s had since forever. It’s a little tropey, sure, but I love it. ❤️

Plus, there’s that moment in the flashback, where we see a tear escape his eye, as he mumbles to Yeon Su, that he’s in a lot of pain. Oof. That really hit me in the gut, to think that he’s been suffering silently all this time, and unable to find relief.

And I love that he wants to talk to Yeon Su about it, instead of allowing her to continue to pretend that it was all a dream.

Augh. The tears in Ung’s eyes, as he says his piece:

“It wasn’t a dream. Why are you acting as if it was? Why are you lying? Yeon Su. Is this right? Is it right for us to be like this? It’s us of all people.

Our love wasn’t just lukewarm and neither was our breakup. Now that we’ve reunited, we can say, “Have you been well?” “How have you been?” “Was it tough for you?” “It was tough for me.” Can’t we tell each other these things?”

And then there’s the haunted look in Yeon Su’s face, and the tears in her eyes, as she hears all this, and thinks to herself, that it was her pride that told her she could live without him.

AUGH. He clearly really, really wants to connect with her, and she’s finally admitting to herself that she actually can’t live without him, after all.

E7. I do appreciate the mirror effect that Show gives us, with Ung and Yeon Su running into each other at the library, just like how they’d run into each other at the library, back when they’d both run away from their show, back in high school.

It’s also a nice touch, to see that, where before it had been Yeon Su who’d broken the awkward silence by saying they should go eat, this time, it’s Ung who makes that suggestion. It does feel like some kind of reliving of that moment, in manner of speaking.

It feels like an interesting choice to me, that Ung takes Yeon Su to have a meal at his parent’s restaurant. He must know that his parents want to see her and feed her, but I just kind of thought that he’d take her somewhere else, if only to avoid prying eyes, as they attempt to have their first proper conversation since crossing paths again.

I see Yeon Su’s vague answers as a type of running away as well, because she’s certainly not telling Ung the truth about why she broke up with him, nor about how she’s really been, in the last 5 years.

I’d kind of expected that, having dated her for 5 years, Ung would sense that there’s more that Yeon Su isn’t telling him, so I was a little taken aback, when he appears to take her words at face value, and says those hurtful words to her afterwards:

“This is how I felt. This is how I felt while dating you. I was just waiting like an idiot, watching you walk away, step by step. It was always like that.”

“When you said you were okay, I had to just accept it. When you said nothing was wrong, I had to say I worried for no reason. And when you wanted to break up, I had to accept it without knowing the reason. And when I met you again, I didn’t know how you’d been or what you were thinking but I had to just accept things without knowing anything.”

As it turns out, Ung definitely can tell that she’s not telling him everything, and he feels helpless to do anything about it – which is why he decides that attack is the best form of defense.

I don’t quite understand what Ung means in his voiceover, when he says that this attack wasn’t his choice. Is he.. blaming Yeon Su for not opening up to him, then?

Because, while I sympathize with Ung’s frustration at not getting a straight, honest answer from Yeon Su, it’s also true that she doesn’t have to reveal parts of her life that she wants to keep private, and especially not now, when they’re broken up.

E8. I always say that context is everything, but this episode, it feels like removing context is everything – in a manner of speaking.

With both Yeon Su and Ung taken away from their contexts, and put into a vacuum of sorts, where it’s just them, the camera crew and their feelings, stuff gets drawn out that I feel would otherwise have continued to be bottled up indefinitely.

For one thing, removing the noise of everyday life, and then injecting some key questions into their interviews, causes both Yeon Su and Ung to think back to the day trip they’d taken, before Ung’s departure for his overseas trip. It clearly brings back memories for them both, even though neither of them wants to admit it.

Watching the flashback to the trip, I find them so young and cute. Ung, peevish and also terrified that this is a goodbye trip, before Yeon Su breaks up with him for good, and Yeon Su, upbeat and cheery, hoping to bring Ung out of his grumpy shell so that they can make good memories to last them the time apart.

It does bring out one of their key couple issues, though, which is that they don’t communicate enough.

Yeon Su thinks that her actions would speak for themselves, but Ung needs her to actually say out loud, that she’s not breaking up with him. It feels like this under-communication is still A Thing with them, now.

However, it is admittedly sweet to see how hard Yeon Su had worked, to make a happy trip for the both of them, in the limited time, and with the limited means that they had.

Also, how important and momentous, that it’s during the trip that Yeon Su realizes that she loves Ung – and tells him so.

That’s definitely one of this episode’s big highlights for me, even though this is all in a flashback. I just like that she chooses to be honest and vulnerable in this very important thing, even though she typically doesn’t say a lot of things.

Ung’s voiceover in the present, though, has a definite edge of cynicism to it, as he says that he didn’t know then, that the promises you make on a trip, are all lies.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this, in the sense that, while watching the episode, I’d taken this to be another one of his peevish, bitter, hurt remarks, but on hindsight, now that I’ve finished the episode, I wonder if this voiceover applies to the kiss on which we end the episode? I hope not..

There’s so much complicated emotion, under the perplexed low-grade bickering that goes on between Ung and Yeon Su.

I feel like Ung is the one trying to provoke Yeon Su, because he’s got all these hurt feelings around their break-up that he hasn’t resolved. And Yeon Su, poor girl, just looks confused and hurt, mostly, even though she puts on a brave front and acts nonchalant.

Plus, there’s that layer of maybe-jealousy, that comes up when NJ’s linked to Ung, whether in online articles, or when NJ video-calls him from his parents’ restaurant.

On Ung’s side, it kinda-sorta feels like Ung’s low-key trying to hurt Yeon Su, as a way of fighting back, for how hurt he’d felt, when she’d broken up with him. Also, there’s how Ung can’t help feeling jealous, when Yeon Su spends time in Ji Ung’s company.

Ha. Serves him right, sorta, for the grumpy mean things that he’s been saying to Yeon Su.

Ung trying to act not jealous, when he’s totally jealous, is quite amusing, I have to admit.

E8. The only useful thing Sol Yi and Eun Ho do, is ask Ji Ung to let Yeon Su and Ung sleep in, because that’s how we get that scene of a sleepy Yeon Su going into Ung’s room to check on him, and Ung reflex-reaching for her hand, after she touches his forehead to unwrinkle the frown that he tends to wear while he sleeps.

That was nice. That was really nice.

There’s such a gentleness and longing in the way Ung reaches for her hand and doesn’t want to let go, and there is also a touch of hesitance about Yeon Su, as she slowly pulls her hand away.

I feel like this is basically a culmination of everything, in a way.

Ji Ung’s pertinent line of questioning; the flashbacks of his trip with Yeon Su coming back to him like a flood; his feelings of jealousy, at Yeon Su spending time with Ji Ung; his sleepiness taking away some of his natural inhibitions. This is just pure Ung, reaching out to hold onto Yeon Su, and I dig it, very much.

And then, as we close out our episode, there’s how Ung comes to get Yeon Su in the rain. It feels nostalgic and almost magical, them together in the rain like that, so reminiscent of how they’d first gotten together, all those years ago.

And somehow, the rain seems to block out the world, because, again, it feels like these two are in a vacuum with no context, as they face each other, with just their feelings.

Despite Ung’s words about maybe being cursed, and being sick of Yeon Su, the way he steps in her path, to stop her from leaving, is so plaintive.

It’s in his eyes; he doesn’t want Yeon Su to leave. And it’s Yeon Su who presses him to make a decision; she wants him to articulate whether he wants her to stay or leave. It feels like she can see what he wants in his eyes, but wants him to also say it out loud, and own it. Her gaze, too, is plaintive; I can see that she wants him to tell her to stay. Augh, these two.

As Ung reaches for Yeon Su and kisses her, it feels like he’s finally giving in to something that’s he’s been fighting, all along.

“..maybe I knew all along that this would happen from the very moment we met again.”

Ahhh. This is great.

I also really like the epilogue, where Show finally stops playing coy about what Yeon Su says to Ung, at that bus terminal, “We’re not going to break up. If we fight or break up again, just come to me like you did today.. And then I’ll grab onto you and never let go.”

E9. On Ung’s side, I can understand why he wouldn’t feel able to risk his heart again, even though he clearly has trouble letting Yeon Su go.

He did go through a really dark time, after their break-up, and I’m sure he’d hesitate to risk going through that again. At the same time, it feels like a breakthrough of sorts, for him to admit to himself that he doesn’t want to live without her completely.

This is pretty huge for him to admit to himself, since, not so long ago, he’d marked her as Enemy #1, and hadn’t wanted anything to do with her. The fact that he’s able to realize now, that he does want her in his life, is definitely progress in my eyes.

The way he connects his two big things – that he can’t risk that kind of heartbreak again, and that he doesn’t want to live without her – and therefore, they should try to be friends, feels like Ung taking an emotional risk, I think.

After all, they’ve never been just friends, and this is new and strange territory, and it could get awkward. Yet, Ung is willing to risk that, because that’s how much he wants to keep Yeon Su in his world. I actually rather like it.

Of course, on Yeon Su’s side of things, she’s coming to a different sort of conclusion.

With Ung dropping off the radar right after their trip, that surfaces feelings that Yeon Su likely hadn’t realized she’d had. Her reaction at the fact that he doesn’t contact her after the kiss in the rain is unexpected to her, too, and it’s because of this, that she eventually realizes that she’s disappointed that he’s not asking to date her again.

Therefore, from Yeon Su’s point of view, Ung asking to be friends with her, is not an invitation to stay in his life, but more like.. a rejection, since she’d been hoping that he’d ask for them to get back together again.

I found the whole thing, where Yeon Su leans hard into the friend angle, and hangs out at Ung’s house all night and then all day, quite amusing, honestly.

I do think that Yeon Su’s passive-aggressively testing Ung, to see if this is what he really wants, and also, to see if he even knows what he’s asking for.

At the same time, I actually think it’s a good thing, for them to get re-acquainted with what it feels like, to be in each other’s company again.

I also found it amusing, that Yeon Su would use the friend excuse, to ask what Ung’s deal is with NJ, and that Ung would do the same, to ask Yeon Su about her connection with Team Leader Jang, and with Ji Ung.

Pfft. They’re using this friend thing as a big fat excuse, and I feel nicely entertained by this.

I particularly like that beat where Yeon Su asks if Ung’s jealous, and Ung replies yes – before adding that he doesn’t want her to steal Ji Ung from him. First of all, nice save! 😂 And second of all, that’s a great twist, because Yeon Su had always assumed that any jealousy felt by Ung, would be in relation to her, and not someone else.

I also like that moment of hyperawareness in Ung’s studio, when he takes that portfolio of drawings from her (from his darkest season after their break-up), and puts it on a higher shelf, out of her reach.

That’s the total reverse of the trope where the tall male lead reaches for something on a high shelf, while leaning in over the female lead – to help her retrieve it. I thought this was a pretty great flip of the trope – while still giving us some delicious hyperawareness feels. Nicely done, Show.

E10. I love the idea of Yeon Su discovering, to her dismay, that she does indeed have a crush on Ung, after having unceremoniously dumped him, 5 whole years ago.

That is rather troublesome, isn’t it? Since she’d been the one to break up with Ung, it would seem all the more inappropriate, for her to tell him now, that she likes him and would like to date him again. Oh, the angst of finding oneself in such an inconvenient situation!

The way Yeon Su can’t help but obsess about Ung all day amuses me. And the way Yeon Su tries to find excuses to see Ung, but works so hard to be nonchalant about it, when she’s feeling anything but nonchalant about it, also amuses me.

I kind of like that Yeon Su has the whole NJ thing to chew on, because I think it’s a good thing that Yeon Su realizes that she’s not the only one who appreciates Ung.

That’s nice of Ung, to bring the pouch to Yeon Su, because she’d claimed that it was suuper important to her. I do wonder how Ung really feels about this whole friends business, because this episode, all we see is that Yeon Su’s struggling with it.

That moment, when Yeon Su sees Ung by her gate, and realizes that she does like him after all, she seems on the cusp of telling him so, like all those years ago at the bus terminal, when she’d first realized that she loved him. Ahhh! I wonder if she really would have told him, if Gran hadn’t interrupted just then!

The way Gran is so hard on Ung is rather hard to watch, and it’s really resilient and good of Ung, to just bear it, and keep on eating. I’m glad that Yeon Su finally comes clean to Gran later, that she’d been the one to break up with Ung, not the other way around.

The good thing about this whole thing is, Ung now knows that Yeon Su had cried because of him, and she’d cried enough, that Gran holds a grudge, even today. That’s gotta tell him something about how Yeon Su had felt about him, yes? That, she hadn’t broken up with him because she’d stopped caring about him?

E11. The thing that hits me the most, this episode, is how Show paints in the context, of how Ung had been feeling, and where his emotions were at, when Yeon Su broke up with him.

It’s true that the higher you go, the harder you fall, and Ung had been seriously exploring going away with Yeon Su, so that they would be able to study together, and live together, and basically take their relationship to a whole new level.

It’s so poignant to see that he’d even made all those enquiries, to check that it really would be possible for Yeon Su to go with him.

And, it’s so sweet, pure and guileless, how he’d never even thought of them living together, until Eun Ho had brought it up. All he’d wanted, was to be in the same space as Yeon Su, and not be separated from her. Sweet, endearing Ung.

And then, by the end of the episode, Show finally drops the bombshell, of how Ung had been abandoned by his father as a child. Ack. That is so horrible, for Ung to have been having fun with his dad one minute, only to discover, in the next minute, that Dad’s gone forever. 😭💔

Whatever it is, that experience of being abandoned on the street has really left a deep scar on Ung’s heart, and this piece of context really deepens my understanding of why Ung is so deeply hurt by Yeon Su’s sudden breakup with him. To him, it had landed as abandonment, much like how Bio Dad had abandoned him.

And so, because this isn’t the first time he’s experienced pain like that, it makes sense that he’d been in so much pain after the break-up, and that the wound is still raw, open and painful, even now.

He’s never gotten over it, because it had hit him in his heart’s darkest, most painful place, and inadvertently amplified the pain of his abandonment, and I feel so, so sorry for him, that he’s been so wounded, as a child.

Context really is everything, and with this piece of context in place, I feel like I understand Ung and his actions, so much better now.

I feel like I get why Ung hasn’t been willing to pursue a romantic connection with Yeon Su now, even though he clearly still has feelings for her. It’s hard enough when you’ve been deeply hurt once, but when you’ve been deeply hurt twice, in what your heart registers as a similar fashion, that makes it even harder.

I can imagine that Ung wouldn’t want to risk being hurt like that a third time, by a potential break-up with Yeon Su.

With Ung’s dating scandal with NJ being everywhere, Yeon Su’s being confronted by her feelings more than she’d bargained for, as well. Not only is everyone talking about it, Yeon Su has that run-in with NJ, where it’s easy to see that NJ does have a genuine interest in Ung, and that it’s not pure rumor.

That definitely adds a measure of pressure to Yeon Su, in that, she can’t just let her feelings ramble on for Ung, if she actually hopes that they will go anywhere. With NJ – successful, glamorous and pretty as she is – in the picture, actively pursuing Ung, it feels like Yeon Su should actually think of what she wants to do about her feelings.

As we close out the episode, it finally feels that Ung and Yeon Su are both in a place where they’re ready to talk about their relationship, which feels like a really rare and precious thing. After all, if only one of them had been ready to talk, it wouldn’t go anywhere, right?

But this time, not only does Yeon Su look ready to talk about why she doesn’t think she can be friends with Ung, we get a full-on confession from Ung.

The way he gets his words out, with tears burgeoning in his eyes, and with his words, haltingly, poignantly, straight from the heart, is so touching.

“I missed you. Kook Yeon Su. I’ve always missed you. I missed you. When I saw you again, I kept feeling angry for some reason even though you were back. And I resented you. But I think I know why now. I guess I wanted to see you love me. I wanted to see you love only me. Yeon Su-ya.”

“Yes?”

“Please keep loving me. Don’t let go and keep loving me. Please.”

I love that Yeon Su can’t stop the tears either, as she listens to Ung’s confession, and I love that she nods in answer.

She’s promising to love him, isn’t she??? Ahhhh! This feels like a HUGE step forward, for our OTP. Please don’t let them take it back later, with the excuse that it was all drunk talk! 🙈

I’m so, so glad, that Ung reveals his past trauma to Yeon Su, and I’m so glad that this will now inform her actions towards him.

The way she responds to him, as his face crumples at the memory of being abandoned by his dad, by wiping his tears away, and leaning in for a simple, wordless kiss, makes me feel like Yeon Su’s planning to love Ung’s scars away, and I gotta say, I really like the sound of that.

E12. I love how the swoon is teased from the little things, like the look in Ung’s or Yeon Su’s eyes, in response to something the other has said, or the small shifts in expression that we see, when either of them is bashfully doing an internal squee, at something that’s just happened between them.

This is where Show shines, and I love it.

I love all the scenes teasing out the minutiae of the restart of their romantic relationship, and I love that this starts with Ung telling Yeon Su about his earliest memories of being abandoned and being adopted, while Yeon Su listens, with compassion and empathy.

It feels really important, to me, that this is where they start.

It feels like they’re getting the foundation right, somehow, by not only acknowledging Ung’s painful memories, but making it something that they now share, as Ung opens up.

In particular, I love the matter-of-fact, no holds barred sort of quality of this conversation. Yeon Su is gentle, but doesn’t hold back from asking some curious questions, while Ung is quietly straightforward about what he remembers, and how he feels about it all.

I love that Yeon Su is honest about wanting to comfort Ung, but not knowing how, and I love that Ung tells her that she’s already comforted him, by being by his side, and listening to his story. Aw. This is so sweetly honest and unassuming.

I love that it’s not a grand gesture of romance that we get between these two, but down-to-earth simplicity and heartfelt compassion, that draws them together. Like I said, this just feels like such a great foundation, for their new-again relationship.

I thought it was very cute – and also, very realistic – that after that pivotal night of heart-to-heart, Ung and Yeon Su would actually go through a period of awkwardness, as they try to get their footing, in their new relationship.

Yeon Su being glued to her phone, waiting for Ung to text or call; Yeon Su getting all  jumpy and discombobulated every time she hears a phone buzz; Yeon Su going back and forth with herself, on whether she should call Ung first; it all feels so relatable.

And then there’s how Ung shows up at her front door, and how Yeon Su suddenly can’t stop herself from smiling – but also, can’t stop herself from nagging at Ung, to go to bed instead of coming to take her to work. It’s so cute.

Even cuter, is how Yeon Su ventures to ask for confirmation, that they’re dating again, and how Ung marvels to himself, at how cute Yeon Su is. Ahhh. I love it.

I also love how Yeon Su obsesses over the little things, like Ung’s tone of voice, when she’d asked to see him on the weekend. That feels very relatable too.

And how lovely, that Ung surprises her, by showing up to where she’s doing a site visit, because he feels the weekend is too far away. Awww. That is so sweet! 😍😍

No wonder Yeon Su can’t help but backhug him, and how adorable, that as she walks away for a bit, Ung can’t help but clutch his heart, as he hyperventilates just a little, at how he was right about the weekend being too far away.

SHO CUTE! 😍😍

Show’s doing a fabulous job of making Ung – a typical beta male lead – look extremely swoony and attractive, to my eyes.

He’s dorky-sweet, like how he waits for Yeon Su with those corn dogs, and that bag of roasted chestnuts between his teeth. And then he’s swoony-sexy, like how he holds both corn dogs in one hand, so that he can use his other hand to pull Yeon Su close, so that he can kiss her. And he’s sweet, in the look that he gives her, just before he kisses her.

Flail. Melt. Puddle.

Watching these two like this, gives me a combination of the warm fuzzies, along with little thrilling pops of effervescence. I like it a lot. 🤩

I love the scene where Ung takes Yeon Su to the exhibition hall, and then finds himself in a perfect bubble of happiness and contentment, as he imagines his works filling the hall, while Yeon Su’s right there, with him, and resolves to now spend all of his time, loving Yeon Su.

Aw, wow. It feels like all of the things that are important to Ung, have crystalized for him, in this moment. It’s quite lovely, honestly.

I don’t know if the words, “Let’s go home” have ever worked out to be this sweet and sexy at the same time, but that’s how it works out here, as Ung takes Yeon Su back to his place. I’m melting all over the floor, at just how tender Ung is, as he kisses Yeon Su on that couch.

Ahhh. I’m feeble-rawring, from my puddle on the floor.

E13. It’s a sweet idea, that Yeon Su doesn’t have to work to show Ung a fresh side of herself, for the sake of keeping the relationship alive. I do like the idea very much, that Ung likes Yeon Su best, when she’s just being herself.

As we close out the episode, I’m actually glad that Ung’s and Yeon Su’s conversation takes that awkward turn.

It might be uncomfortable, but it’s important for them to talk about things like why Ung dropped out of college – and the awkward, gigantic elephant in the room – why Yeon Su had broken up with him like that, 5 years ago.

I’m hopeful that Yeon Su will be as honest with Ung in this, as he’d been with her, when talking about his childhood, and I’m hopeful that this will set them on a more steady, secure path, in terms of their relationship.

E14. This episode, we get more insight into Yeon Su’s inner workings, and I have to say, Kim Da Mi does a fantastic job of portraying both Yeon Su’s outer, hard, stoic shell, and her inner insecurities and vulnerabilities.

She manages to be both believably prickly, yet distinctly uncertain and vulnerable, at the same time. It’s so good, that I can’t think of any other actress, whom I’d want to play Yeon Su.

In the context of Yeon Su’s childhood years, and how she’d been made fun of, for being poor and not having parents, it makes sense that she’d make it her default defense, to act like she doesn’t care, and to push other people away, before she can be pushed away.

Context really is everything, and in the context of this, her decision to push Ung away, when things got hard 5 years ago, makes a lot of sense. She didn’t want to be a burden to him, but also, it seems that she’d been fearful that, given some time with such daunting circumstances, Ung might have been the one to push her away, instead.

Another piece of context that we get, is that when Ung had drunk dialed Yeon Su after their break-up, and Yeon Su had told him the truth about why she’d broken up with him, Ung had not appeared to think it was a good reason at all.

Of course, there’s also the detail, that he’d been drunk, and he also hadn’t heard the whole thing, but still, that’s what Yeon Su took away from that call.

And so, it makes sense – although it is frustrating – for Yeon Su to give Ung a vague non-answer, when he poses (what I feel is) a critical question.

What I really appreciate, is how Ung doesn’t allow himself to be discouraged or deterred, by Yeon Su’s non-answer.

At first, I’d hoped that Gran had told him about the real reason Yeon Su had broken up with him, but, as it turns out, Gran’s not clear on the real reason herself. However, I feel like there are a few important things that Gran says to Ung, that are likely to prove helpful.

1, that they’d been in financial trouble, and Yeon Su had struggled hard to make ends meet; 2, that Yeon Su always tends to keep things to herself; and 3, that Yeon Su’s always liked him.

These may not fully explain the truth of the break-up to Ung, but I feel they do provide Ung with some important information that I think helps him to power through in the sweetest way, this episode.

My personal highlight of the whole episode, is the conversation between Yeon Su and Ung, when he calls her after her gathering with her colleagues. She’s slightly tipsy and is, endearingly, more open than usual, in her answers.

I love that the moment she lets on that all the times she’d stopped Ung from picking her up, in the past, had been because she hadn’t wanted him to spend money on taxi fare, and that she’d really liked the idea of him picking her up, Ung reveals that he’s actually right there behind her, ready to take her home.

Eee!!! That’s SO SWEET. I love that Ung is so sweetly thoughtful and down-to-earth, while still managing to firmly stay in the realm of real person (vs. Drama Dreamboat).

He’s so sweetly matter-of-fact, as he say to her, “From now on, tell me these things in advance. If you don’t tell me, I won’t know since I’m an idiot. So promise that you’ll tell me everything. I listen to and remember everything you tell me. So keep telling me.”

What makes it even more touching, is Ung’s voiceover, while this is going on.

“I still don’t know why we broke up. I’m sure she’ll tell me one day. Waiting is what I do best after all. And once I find out why, I’ll make sure to prevent it from happening again. That will be my only goal in life from now on. I will spend the rest of my life with Yeon Su.”

Augh. That’s just the sweetest, most touching, beautiful thing. 🥺😍 I LOVE.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Sung Cheol as Ji Ung

I’ve really grown fond of Kim Sung Cheol, after seeing him in Do You Like Brahms, as well as his charming little drama special To. Jenny, and it was pretty great getting to see him, in this show.

Ji Ung works out to be a really.. plaintive sort of character, and I was surprised by how much Show managed to make my heart ache for Ji Ung, even as I rooted for Ung and Yeon Su as our OTP. I’m also pleasantly surprised by just how poignant those feels are, and how.. fresh, it manages to feel.

Credit goes to writer-nim, certainly, a lot of credit goes to Kim Sung Cheol as well, for his delivery of Ji Ung. Kim Sung Cheol regularly injects these lovely glimmers and layers of poignance into Ji Ung’s expressions, which really work to make Ji Ung pop extra, as a character.

Really well done, I felt.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. From what we’re seeing, it seems that Ji Ung has nursed a measure of envy towards Ung for a long time. There is definitely some envy there, in relation to Ung having a set of loving parents who care about him as much as they do. And, from what Show appears to be indicating, there also seems to be envy in relation to Ung having dated Yeon Su.

This is shaping up to be complicated already.

E3. I am grudgingly impressed with Ji Ung, because, as it turns out, he’s more shrewd than he might first appear.

The fact that he knows that Ung would go so far as to punish himself, if it gives him the assurance that the person he’s out to punish, suffers suitably (that peach story, HA! 😂), and uses it to his advantage in persuading Ung and Yeon Su to do the documentary, is quite genius, honestly.

How clever of him, to mention meaningfully, that Yeon Su had seemed to hate the idea of the documentary, even more than Ung himself.

That presses Ung’s vengeance button even before Ung realizes it himself – which is how we end the episode with Ung arm-twisting Yeon Su to do the documentary, in exchange for him doing the art project. Pfft.

E5. Show’s fleshing out all the backstories and my heart’s getting all tangled up for Ji Ung. That flashback to how Ji Ung and Ung became friends, is so, so poignant to me.

Ji Ung strikes me as such a.. plaintive little kid. After all that he gains from hanging out with Ung, it still comes down to him being cognizant that this is all but an imitation of happiness, in his life; that in reality, he didn’t have a truly happy life, at the heart of it all.

I feel sad for Ji Ung, because he strikes me as such a lonely kid. He’d always been envious of everything Ung had, and I imagine that his feelings towards Ung are complicated, because, aside from the envy, there’s gratitude too.

How poignant is it, that we learn that Ji Ung’s interest in being a PD, is all because of what PD Park says to him, that standing behind the camera, “You end up meeting all kinds of people in the world and end up feeling grateful for your insipid life.”

Oof. It hits me in the heart, that Ji Ung made this career choice, all because he wanted to learn how to be grateful for his insipid life. 😭

E6. I feel this vague pinch in my heart for Ji Ung, because there’s this (tamped down, but still there) sense of plaintiveness about him, even as he watches the dynamics between Ung and Yeon Su from the sidelines.

It’s clear that he does have complicated feelings regarding the both of them; it’s bad enough that he feels thankful yet envious of Ung, but it’s even more complicated, that he likes Yeon Su, whom Ung still hasn’t gotten over.

As Ji Ung does his thing, of sometimes nudging both Ung and Yeon Su towards admitting their feelings for each other, I can’t help but feel thankful yet sorry towards him.

Coz, I want Ung and Yeon Su to become more honest about their feelings for each other, but it does hurt, to see Ji Ung do the self-sacrificial thing, and say and do things that help them, but breaks his own heart a little more.

Like how he asks Yeon Su about how she’s never seen Ung working, and how he just.. looks on, when he sees that Yeon Su can’t stop rambling about Ung, during her interview. Like how he asks Yeon Su, pointblank, the important question of whether she still likes Ung, when she can’t stop rambling about him, when she’s tipsy.

E7. Ji Ung gets called out by the new writer on his team (Lee Sun Hee), for using the fact that his cast has run away, as an excuse not to deal with the situation the way he’s typically dealt with similar situations – getting in there head-on, and solving the runaway problem, no matter what it took.

This time, Ji Ung’s using the fact that Ung and Yeon Su have run away, as an excuse not to do anything – even though it seems that he may not be truly cognizant of his own avoidance.

I definitely think that Ji Ung’s avoidance of the issue has to do with his personal involvement with both Ung and Yeon Su.

Perhaps he’s afraid that if he gets in there and does what the writer says, in throwing Ung and Yeon Su together in a confined space, and forcing them to film, that they will actually work through their issues, and end up reconciling?

E8. Ji Ung’s feelings for Yeon Su are becoming clearer to see, whether he intends it or not. The way his gaze follows her, anyone who’s paying attention would clue in to his feelings for Yeon Su, without too much trouble.

Plus, there’s how he looks a little too happy, when those village ahjummas mistake him and Yeon Su for a couple. That’s his secret dream, I’m sure.

E9. I found Ji Ung’s flashback to the past quite poignant, because no matter the details, it must have been an uncomfortable position to be in, to find himself nursing feelings for his best friend’s girlfriend.

The thing is, Ung had never set out to like his best friend’s girlfriend. He’d like a girl – and Ung had ended up dating her, and Ji Ung had found himself suddenly having to deal with an awkward situation.

I do think that Ji Ung did his best to honor his friendship with Ung, going so far as to remove himself from Yeon Su’s orbit as much as possible, and proactively meeting new people, so that he could hopefully sort out this awkward situation on his own, without having to intrude on Ung and Yeon Su’s happy couple bubble.

I find that very decent of Ji Ung. Some people would put their romantic feelings first, never mind if it might hurt their best friend in the world.

With this backstory in place, I kind of can’t blame Ji Ung for reconsidering his stance, now that all these years have passed, and Ung and Yeon Su have already been broken up for 5 years.

E10. I feel bad for Ji Ung, for having such a strained relationship with his mother (Park Mi Hyun). Clearly, there is a great deal of emotional baggage there. And, even though Mom wants to bridge the gap between her and her son, it’s hard, because she hardly knows him, after all these years.

That beat, where Ji Ung realizes that Mom still doesn’t know that he’s allergic to peaches – even though he clearly remembers almost dying from a peach-triggered allergic reaction, in front of her – is pretty darn heartbreaking. It’s like, in this moment, Ji Ung realizes how little his mother knows him. That’s sad. 💔

E11. For Ji Ung, it’s always been about a tension between his feelings for Yeon Su, and his feelings towards Ung.

Even though Ji Ung had thought that he could perhaps not care so much about Ung’s past with Yeon Su, now that 5 years have passed since their breakup, it looks like he can’t take that path as easily anymore, now that he realizes that Ung still likes Yeon Su.

That senior writer who gets on Ji Ung’s nerves really does hit the nail on the head, when she points out that Ji Ung needs to follow the gaze of his cast, rather than his own gaze.

It looks like he’s been purposefully ignoring the fact that Ung’s and Yeon Su’s gazes have been trailing after each other, all this time, and it looks like he finally has to face up to it now – and it looks like he doesn’t like the experience much, either.

Plus, it’s frustrating to him, that Ung seems to want to avoid talking about the whole thing, when Ung kinda-sorta tries to broach the subject. I did get a small thrill out of the fact that Ji Ung knows Ung so well, that he understands Ung’s answers so well.

E13. It must be pure torture for Ji Ung, to have to edit the documentary, which peels back the layers of Ung’s and Yeon Su’s feelings for each other, while nursing a broken heart, that Yeon Su’s chosen Ung, all over again, and his one-sided love for her, is ultimately, definitely, 100% doomed to never bear fruit. 😭

The way Ji Ung keeps at that editing, day in, day out, for days on end, without eating or sleeping much at all, feels like outright punishment, to my eyes. It feels like he’s punishing himself, for liking Yeon Su, all this time. That’s heartbreaking. Poor Ji Ung. 💔

E14. As for the epilogue of Ji Ung and his mom, sigh, that’s such a heartbreaking thing to learn, that your mother is dying. Even though Ji Ung’s spent his whole life being estranged from his mother, this can’t be easy news to hear.

I’m hopeful, though, that Mom’s request for Ji Ung to film her, will make for an important season of healing and reconciliation for them, while she still has the time.

[END SPOILER]

The friendship between Ung & Ji Ung

The friendship between Ung and Ji Ung is something that really crept up on me, and then proceeded to steal my heart.

Show’s treatment of the friendship is matter-of-fact and understated, with Ung and Ji Ung barely spending time together, in adulthood. However, that doesn’t take away from the depth of their brotherhood, which goes back to their childhood, and every time Show unveiled another corner of this friendship, it always got me by the heart.

In all of their quiet unspoken ways, these two boys mean the world to each other, and I do love that.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E5. I can see why Ji Ung would feel that it’s the natural thing for him to do, to take a step back, when he and Ung like the same girl.

Not that Ji Ung himself had any meaningful connection with Yeon Su; what gets me in the heart is how Ji Ung automatically assumes the position of not competing with Ung, likely because he’s gained so much through Ung, all these years.

At the same time, I can’t help feeling extremely affectionate of Ung, for being so thoughtlessly generous with Ji Ung, all this time.

What Ji Ung says, about Ung sharing everything with him, as if he was supposed to, really hits me in the heart. What a naturally generous soul Ung is, for sharing everything without a second thought.

When we started our story, it did seem like there was a little peevishness at how Ung’s parents treat Ji Ung more preciously than their own son, but that doesn’t strike me as being very deep-seated. It’s kinda like how siblings might yell and complain about one another, but not actually hate one another, when it comes down to it.

This definitely gives us some important context for our story. With this flashback, everything looks a little clearer to my eyes, with regards to Ung and his friendship with Ji Ung. It suddenly makes sense that they would understand each other really, really well, and know what the other person is thinking or feeling, without words needing to be said.

It makes perfect sense that Ji Ung would know, at a glance, exactly what Ung’s acting out is all about, at that party. Until Ji Ung said it, it wasn’t actually clear to me that Ung wasn’t actually doubting Yeon Su, and blaming her for the sudden collab with Nu-a. However, once Ji Ung articulates it, it all becomes crystal clear.

E8. I do appreciate that Ji Ung is at least honest with Ung, to a point, about how the footage that he’s shot so far, of Ung and Yeon Su, is confusing. I think this does give Ung some food for thought, about how he feels about Yeon Su now.

E10. At first, I’d thought that Ji Ung had gone to Ung’s house, because he’d been looking for Yeon Su, so it was a great twist, to find out at the end of the episode, that he’d been there to seek out Ung, so that he could crash for the night like he’d always used to do, and also, talk with Ung about the thing on his mind, like he’d always used to do.

Aw. I love that, y’know.

I love that Ung and Ji Ung have such history together, and I love that Ung actually knows right away, that Ji Ung’s got something on his mind and needs to talk about it, without Ji Ung having to say anything at all.

These two really are good friends, and this fact, brought so vividly to life, makes Ji Ung’s dilemma around Yeon Su pop all the more, as well.

E12. Ji Ung’s strategy to deal with Ung and Yeon Su re-establishing their relationship, is to basically immerse himself in work – to the point of exhaustion and sickness.

I’m glad for Ji Ung, that Ung checks in on him, and even stays with him, as he sleeps the fever off. I love that detail, that this time, the roles are reversed, with Ung sleeping on the floor, while Ji Ung sleeps on the couch.

At the same time, I can see how this makes Ji Ung feel worse about it all, since he’s been holding a torch for Ung’s girlfriend, for so long, and Ung’s proving to be such a good friend, consistently. I’d really like for Ji Ung to be set free from this emotional prison, so that he can stop disliking himself like this. 💔

[END SPOILER]

Roh Jeong Eui as NJ

I was pleasantly surprised to see Roh Jeong Eui play NJ, Ung’s idol patron. I enjoyed her very nicely in 18 Again, and was glad to see her doing really nicely in this very different sort of role.

I have to say, for a supporting character, NJ brings a very nice amount of presence to the screen, and to our story. I love how grounded NJ is as a person, underneath the idol glitz, and I also really appreciate the lashings of vulnerability that we see, beyond the glamor.

Overall, I do feel a little disappointed that we see less and less of NJ, as we progress deeper into our story, because I was genuinely interested in her as a character. I’d actually like some kind of off-shoot for NJ.. Like a mini series, maybe? I’d be so down for that, coz she’s pretty darn awesome.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. I’m mildly amused that a hotshot idol would skip out on rehearsals just to chase after Ung, whom most people in his “real life” consider a layabout loser, so I’m quite keen to see how her presence affects his everyday life.

E3. NJ’s fascination-tending-obsession with Ung, and her willingness to go the extra mile, in order to connect with him, amuses me. It’s so amusingly discordant, to see a big idol star get all up in a twist, because loser-boy-to-everyone-in-his-life Ung hasn’t called her back.

Is this particularly inventive? No, not really. But there’s something about Roh Jeong Eui’s delivery of NJ that makes this work for me. She’s kinda crafty in how she stalks Ung, but she’s also very earnest and innocent about it. It’s a combination that works for me.

I kinda love how she blithely breaks rules that she knows shouldn’t be broken, just because she wants to follow her heart.

Like the way she likes Eun Ho’s Instagram post, because Ung’s in it, even though she reminds herself that she shouldn’t. HA.

I kinda love that about her, and I’m looking forward to how this simple act of following her heart – to “heart” that post – is going to explode into something bigger. Because it will, right?

E4. Tee hee. I love it when NJ gets to appear in our story, and this episode, I love how much pure joy it gives NJ, to be asked to go shopping with Ung.

Her happiness at getting to spend some time with Ung, her expert advice and guidance on clothes and fashion, and her down-to-earth request to have tteokbokki afterwards, is altogether really endearing.

I love how matter-of-fact and honest NJ is, when she talks about herself and her pre-idol days. She’s just really refreshing, that way, and I find myself liking her more and more.

Also, she’s pretty wise too. What says about the price of fame feels so true: “Fame always comes with a price. It’s because you’re now famous that people are spreading ridiculous rumors about you.”

She’s so grounded! I think I luff her. 🤩

E7. Even NJ runs away from her reality for a while, after having a tough day with her online haters. I do feel sorry for NJ, for having to deal with malicious comments from thoughtless keyboard warriors. My sympathies are with NJ, and I’m glad that she doesn’t allow the haters to take advantage of her.

Still, I can understand why she’d feel the sting, and want to have a time-out from her famous life. I think I’m most sympathetic to NJ’s reason for running away, out of the various runaways we get this episode.

E10. I find it interesting to learn more about NJ, beyond her idol persona, and it’s poignant to see that underneath the glitz and glamor, she’s actually pretty lonely, at the heart of it.

I do like her upbeat personality though; she tends to look on the bright side of things, and is conscious about not taking mean comments seriously, even though she has to pretend that she’s used to it, when she’s not.

I like the idea that she finds herself accidentally being more interested in Ung than she’d planned to be. I buy the idea that she tends to distract herself from the downers in her life, by entertaining easy-come-easy-go crushes. I mean, it’s fun to feel thrilled by someone else, after all.

What an unsettling experience it must be for her, to find herself not quite getting the responses from Ung, that she’s used to getting from others, and also, not being able to move on in the short time frame that she usually allows herself, for these crushes.

That’s a bit of a sneak attack on Ung’s part – without Ung actually even being aware of it, heh.

E13. NJ’s heartbreak is treated with lashings of comedy, with her even burying her phone in her house plant, to prevent herself from calling Ung. I didn’t appreciate that much, to be honest.

That said, I did feel sorry for NJ, when she finally goes to see Ung, and clears things up between them, with finality.

The way NJ emphasizes that she’s the one rejecting him, not the other way around, and that she really didn’t like him that much anyway, lands as rather sad-poignant, to my eyes. NJ’s never looked so lonely, as she does to me, in this moment.

E14. I actually feel really quite sorry for NJ, because she appears so lonely, this episode, as she ponders over the fact that she has no friends.

I do like the glimpses of connection between her and Ji Ung, because it feels like these two are well-positioned to understand each other’s feelings. I enjoy the honest vibe of the conversations that they have together, even though it’s clear that Ji Ung isn’t actually keen to talk about his very personal feelings with NJ.

I don’t know if Show will pursue this, but I actually hope that Ji Ung and NJ can become friends. After all, they both are rather lonely individuals who don’t open up easily to others. I don’t hope for something romantic to come out of this; I’d just like them to support each other, like friends do.

[END SPOILER]

Special shout-outs:

Ung’s parents

I just had to give Ung’s parents (Park Won Sang and Seo Jung Yeon) a shout-out, because they are just such lovely, lovely people.

I love how much love they have for the people around them.

[SPOILER ALERT] Even though they’ve lost their own son, we never see them dwell in bitterness over this. Instead, they seem to love even harder, and it’s so sweetly touching, to see them love on Ung and Ji Ung, as if these boys were their own. ❤️ [END SPOILER]

Yeon Su’s relationship with Gran

I also found the deep bond between Yeon and Gran very touching, from beginning to end.

There’s so much genuine care, love and affection between these two, beneath the daily nagging and bickering. ❤️

STUFF THAT WAS OK

Park Jin Joo as Sol Yi

I love Park Jin Joo in general, so I welcomed the idea of having her on my screen in this show as well.

Overall, I found Sol Yi as a character just ok, however. I feel that Show mostly means Sol Yi to be a source of comic relief, and I have to confess that this didn’t always land as intended, for me. Sometimes I found Sol Yi quite cute and amusing, and at other times, I just found it rather too labored and affectatious for my taste.

Still, because of my personal fondness for Park Jin Joo, I’ve got Sol Yi here, in the “ok” section.

The thing between Eun Ho and Sol Yi [MINOR SPOILERS]

Because of my general lack of appreciation for Eun Ho as a character (more on that soon), I wasn’t exactly thrilled when Show started indicating that there would likely be some kind of loveline between Eun Ho and Sol Yi.

And truthfully, there were times when I did feel quite underwhelmed at some of the hints towards this loveline, like the time in episode 7 where Eun Ho and Sol Yi get drunk together at Ung’s house.

Basically, for a good stretch, Sol Yi’s shared scenes with Eun Ho just didn’t work for me, as a whole.

However, at around the episode 13 mark, I was somewhat shocked to find myself low-key enjoying the dynamic between Sol Yi and Eun Ho, at this point in our story.

Sure, I’d guessed that Show would tease out a loveline between them, but this dynamic, where Eun Ho’s clearly got a crush on Noona, but won’t admit it, even to himself, and Noona expressly doesn’t want to date a younger man, but can’t help being amused by Eun Ho and becoming rather fond of him, in spite of herself, was somehow rather entertaining, to my eyes.

Overall, I’d say this turned out better than I’d expected, and because I’d expected this to be pretty terrible, this spot on the “ok” list is actually.. not bad, all things considered. 😅

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Ahn Dong Goo as Eun Ho

I mostly didn’t enjoy Eun Ho very much as a character, nor Ahn Dong Goo’s delivery of him.

I’m not sure whether the dialogue written for him is just plain bad, or if Ahn Dong Goo, the actor who plays Eun Ho, just doesn’t have the comic timing to pull it off. I just.. don’t find anything that he says or does, at all amusing, unfortunately.

He’s mostly used as a plot device more than anything. Not only that, he’s an annoying plot device, often doing things that made me wonder if he was trying to be Ung’s enemy instead of assistant, the way he keeps working against Ung, and giving away Ung’s privacy, instead of working with Ung, on how he wants to do things.

For most of my watch, I found myself mostly enduring Eun Ho’s presence more than anything else. 😅

However, like I mentioned earlier, I did soften towards him a little, from around the episode 13 mark. Not enough to bump him up to the “ok” section of this review, but at least I didn’t dislike him as actively, by the time I got to Show’s final stretch. That’s.. not bad, I guess?

Various narrative details / decisions

While I mostly enjoyed Show’s writing, there were a number of times when I did find myself wishing that Show had done something a little differently.

Here are those times, for the record.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. One thing that bothered me this episode, is the general disregard for Ung’s desire to stay anonymous, as an artist. The way Yeon Su approaches him, and also, the way Eun Ho pushes him, it’s like nobody cares that Ung has stated upfront that he would like to remain anonymous.

As someone who chooses to remain anonymous in my work on the blog, I empathize with Ung. Yes, there are valid reasons that one might choose to remain anonymous, and with Ung becoming as successful as he is, privacy is definitely one such reason.

However, nobody in this drama world appears to respect Ung’s desire – which has been overtly expressed! – to remain anonymous. I would’ve been so mad in Ung’s shoes, because Eun Ho basically outs him in front of Team Leader Jang, without Ung’s permission.

E8. I seriously tried to think about why Eun Ho and Sol Yi are needed, this episode, at this secluded place where Ji Ung’s team wants to film Yeon Su and Ung’s documentary, and I can only come to the lame conclusion that Show wants there to be some kind of comic relief, which is why Eun Ho and Sol Yi are there, often drunk, and mostly bickering &/or teasing each other.

I wasn’t terribly amused.

E13. I have to confess that I liked this episode more in concept than in execution, if I’m being brutally honest.

I like the fact that Show explores the everyday realities that result for Ung and Yeon Su, after they decide to officially get back together again. However – and I think this is most likely the core issue for me – it bothers me that Yeon Su still doesn’t tell Ung what had led to their break-up, 5 years ago.

To be fair, Show is probably being more realistic about this than I am.

I want Yeon Su to tell Ung exactly why she broke up with him, 5 years ago, because I see that as fundamental to the problems in their relationship. And, I feel that unless and until Yeon Su is honest with Ung abou this, their relationship is at great risk of becoming collateral damage, yet again.

But Show is going the other, probably more realistic route, where two people are more likely to sink into the happy thrills that mark the first flush of being in a relationship, and conveniently avoid talking about the difficult, uncomfortable things.

This is common, and therefore realistic, and I suppose I shouldn’t fault Show for letting Ung and Yeon Su wander off in this direction.

I guess my hopes had been stirred, because this resurrected relationship had had such a promising, healthy start, with that conversation where Ung had told Yeon Su about his birth secret, and she’d comforted him with her presence. I was greedy, and had hoped for them to lean into this raw, honest space, and talk about the elephant in the room.

I was naive. 😭

And so it is, that while it’s cute to see Ung and Yeon Su acting like two bright-eyed and bushy-tailed teenagers in love for the first time, and it’s cute (and kinda sweet, even) that Yeon Su is concerned about keeping their relationship alive, despite their history of breaking up and making up, I find myself feeling vaguely dissatisfied and disgruntled, through it all. 😅

The silver lining, is, I suppose, the fact that Show appears to agree with me, since Ung puts this very question smack in front of Yeon Su, as we close out our episode. I’m relieved that it’s only taken one episode of evasive wandering, for us to get here.

[END SPOILER]

THEMES / IDEAS

Here are just a few themes / ideas that come to mind, when I consider this show.

1. Context is everything.

2. Communication is everything.

3. People all need different runways to come to terms with their feelings.

4. We all deserve to be the main characters in our own stories. Don’t shortchange yourself.

5. Happiness doesn’t have to look the same for everyone.

6. Love is about timing. It’s also about honesty.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

So.. Show makes a rather unusual narrative choice, in terms of the direction of this penultimate episode, and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that.

What I mean is, Show ended the previous episode on a very emotional note for Yeon Su, with her worried sick that Gran was about to leave her, to go live in a nursing home.

And this episode, Show just.. kind of ignores that, for most of the episode. I found this kind of odd, and what this did, was, it created a sense of unease, even as I watched the happy scenes of Ung and Yeon Su nesting together.

I’m not sure if that’s the effect that Show was going for.

If that’s what Show was going for, to help me feel Yeon Su’s underlying sense of unease, even as she spends those happy times with Ung, then I suppose it’s a success. But it also means that those happy times don’t land so happy after all.

With this lens on, it feels like Yeon Su’s putting up a front, to some extent, and smiling through her worry, while not telling Ung about the fact that she’s worried about Gran.

That definitely lends a heartachey sort of sheen to the collection of sweet couple moments that Show serves up, and.. not gonna lie; that makes me kinda peeved.

I mean, these two have been through a lot, to get to their present state of sweet couple-hood. Is it too much to ask, for them to actually be happy-happy for a while, rather than happy on the surface, but nursing unspoken sadness and worries, on the inside..? 😭

Also, I’m rather peeved at Show as well, for not showing us the outcome of Yeon Su’s conversation with Gran.

What had Gran said, about the nursing home brochures? Is Gran ill? These were questions that I found niggling at me, through all of those happy scenes of our OTP. And that did also mess with my ability to be happy for Ung and Yeon Su, that they’re finally enjoying some sweet couple time together.

As for Ji Ung, I do feel sorry for how cold and lonely his childhood was, mostly, and I can understand how that might have caused him to close up, with regards to his mom.

At the same time, now that he’s an adult, and an adult who makes documentaries and therefore kinda studies people for a living, I’m rather disappointed that he’s never stopped to wonder why Mom had been so exhausted and so pained so much of the time, while he’d been growing up.

I realize that at this point in our story, we don’t know anything about Mom. What kind of work did she do, that drained her so much, not only of her physical strength, but it seemed, also, of her spirit? Had she been in debt? If so, why? Had she inherited that debt from, say, Ji Ung’s father?

I feel like as a documentary PD, Ji Ung should have naturally thought about these questions at least once in his career, and that these questions, when asked, would have at least shed a little bit of light on why Mom had been the way she was, while he was growing up.

I suppose the point Show is making (maybe?), is that it’s easy to be caught in a fixed way of thinking about someone or something, particularly when these thoughts and impressions stem from your childhood.

I’m glad that Ji Ung at least talks to Ung, and tells him that his mom is dying. But I have to say, I’m rather disappointed to realize that all this time that Ji Ung’s been spacing out at work, and deep in thought, he hadn’t actually been thinking about things from Mom’s perspective at all. Rather he’d been trying to find an emotional response within himself, at the news of her impending death.

To be brutally honest, I’m rather disappointed by that. I’d hoped that Ji Ung would have found at least a measure of compassion for his mom, at the news of her terminal prognosis.

But again, I guess that’s the point that Show is trying to make, that sometimes you’re just too numb to feel anything at all.

The one thing that really gets me in the heart, this episode, is the reveal that Ung gets a scathing review by a respected critic, and is actually really affected by it.

YET. He puts aside his own feelings, to go to Ji Ung when Ji Ung calls from the pochangmacha, because he knows that something’s up. AND, he also puts aside his own feelings, when he goes home, and sees Yeon Su there, clearly sad and troubled.

I love how quick Ung is, to put first, the needs of his nearest and dearest, even when, by Eun Ho’s pronouncement, he’s actually in need of some serious comforting, himself. I am extremely touched by this, no lie.

And, I have to admit, the sight of Yeon Su crying, telling Ung that she’d thought she’d ruined everything again, brought a lump to my throat, and a tear to my eye. It’s refreshing to see that in this time of personal crisis, instead of pushing Ung away, she’s now clinging to him, fearful that she’d lost him.

How inconvenient, then, that in our epilogue, it’s now Ung who wants to go overseas, and wants Yeon Su to go with him, right at a time in her life, when Yeon Su’s terrified of being apart from Gran, for fear of losing her.

I don’t believe Show is going to allow circumstances to tear Ung and Yeon Su apart again, so I’m curious to see how these two will navigate their differing needs, while remaining faithful to their promise, to never be apart again.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Ahhh. What a pitch perfect ending this turned out to be. Nicely done, Show. Nicely done.

After feeling out of step with Show’s penultimate episode, I have to admit that I’d been a touch concerned, that Show wouldn’t quite bring it all home, in this finale. But Show does, and does it well. I feel like I honestly couldn’t ask for more.

In terms of the thing with Ji Ung and his mother, I am very happy with the direction that Show takes with it, this finale.

I’d wanted to know more about Mom and what had caused her to be so distant from Ji Ung all those years, and while we don’t get into the details, Mom says enough, to give me the idea that she’d been deeply depressed, through Ji Ung’s growing up years. And that.. could definitely explain a lot of things.

When you’re depressed, it’s understandable that you don’t think or function like a normal person. And, with depression, it’s easy to understand that the person doesn’t have normal control over their thoughts like a non-depressed person would.

Mom had been deeply depressed, very likely clinically so, and hadn’t been able to function like the mother that Ji Ung had so deeply desired, and that, I’d wager, Mom herself had actually wanted to be.

I’m also so, so pleased with PD Park, who says to Ji Ung, everything that I wanted Ji Ung to hear.

“Do it for yourself. You’re the one who’ll have to live with it. The one who’ll have to live with those memories. is you.” … “I don’t know your story. Whether you decide to resent her or forgive her, save that for later. I just hope you won’t waste this moment by not doing anything. That’s all.”

YES. Thank you, PD Park. Such wise, kind, non-judgmental words, that I feel are so, so important for Ji Ung.

It’s so true, that Ji Ung could always change his mind later, and decide that he wants to know more about his mom, or understand her better, or even forgive her. If he doesn’t do anything about it now, while she’s still alive, then there’s a good chance that he’d have regrets later in life.

I think where Show pitches Ji Ung’s reconciliation with Mom, is perfect.

It’s too soon for Ji Ung to actually have a true desire to forgive her, and coming to terms with everything will take time. But it’s so important, that he takes the step to actually meet her where he can, and do what he can, while he still can.

I’m glad that he chooses to participate in the documentary, and I actually think that having PD Park film the documentary, instead of Ji Ung himself, is a great idea. That way, PD Park can be a steadying, mediating sort of presence, if needed, and there’s less pressure on Ji Ung to do a good job behind the character.

Also, this way, he finally gets to be in front of the camera instead of behind it. For once, he’s a main character – which is a great callback to that scene, earlier in our story, where we see that the reason Ji Ung had wanted to be a documentary PD, had been because he’d realized he wasn’t a main character.

We don’t get to see what happens to Mom, but I get that this isn’t very important to our story. The important thing is, we see that Ji Ung actually manages to remember some happy memories for the camera, and it’s really quite lovely, to see Mom watch him talk about it, and smile a little smile.

There is a measure of healing in that, which I really appreciate, and I’m satisfied knowing that whatever happened with Mom’s health, Ji Ung won’t have any regrets.

As for Ung and Yeon Su, I also think it’s pitch perfect, that Yeon Su chooses not to go with Ung.

Even though it’s a little cheesy in concept, I actually really like the detail, that Yeon Su comes to the realization that her sad and lonely life had only been sad and lonely because she herself, had looked at it with a sad and lonely perspective.

That’s so true for so many of us, so much of the time. We often don’t realize how much we have, because we’re busy focusing on what we don’t have.

I also think it makes sense for Yeon Su to decide to stay, not because of anything else, but because she’s come to appreciate her life, and wants to continue to live it and appreciate it some more.

It says a lot, that even though Yeon Su gets that offer from Team Leader Jang for a job in Paris, which would put her exactly where Ung will be for the next few years, she chooses to stay, instead.

I like how Yeon Su truly does follow her heart in this decision, rather than circumstance. Because, it would have been easy to feel that, circumstantially, it all lines up perfectly for her to go to Paris and be with Ung while he furthers his studies.

It means so much more, that even though the circumstances are fully in favor of Yeon Su leaving Korea for a while, to be in Paris with Ung, she likes her life in Korea enough, to turn it all down.

Plus, it also is important for Ung, to learn that he CAN do this on his own, without Yeon Su right next to him. I think that that’s an important part of his growth too.

On a different note, I also like the detail, that Ung goes to see Bio Dad, before leaving for Paris. Even though he doesn’t actually say the words out loud, I feel that his actions say everything that he wants to say. He stands there and looks right at Bio Dad, acknowledging not only Bio Dad’s presence, but also, acknowledging the fact that Ung sees him, and then Ung walks away.

I think that does definitely say, “I see you. And I’m moving on. And that’s ok.”

I like the idea that Ung’s time in Paris passes reasonably well, though I did find Yeon Su’s drunken scenes of missing Ung soooo~ intensely quite entertaining. 😁 Our Yeon Su talks big, but she really is very attached to Ung, and I find that very cute.

The scene, where Ung surprises Yeon Su with his “I love you,” and in person, no less, is a little predictable, but no less sweet and endearing, for it.

It’s something that Yeon Su’s wanted to hear from Ung for so long, and now that he’s ready to say it, he literally hops on a plane to Korea, so that he can say it in person. That’s really quite melty.

I also just wanted to say, Kim Da Mi’s delivery of Yeon Su’s stunned reaction is so, so good. There’s so much emotion mixed into her face: there’s wonder, and vulnerability, and tentativeness, and fragility as well, even as she looks completely moved by Ung’s declaration of love. SO good. ❤️

I like that Show remembers to give us little nuggets to update us on how things are going (quite positively!) with Eun Ho and Sol Yi, as well as Ji Ung and Chae Ran.

Most of all, though, I love that Ung proposes to Yeon Su, with that drawing of the first moment he’d laid eyes on her, all those years ago in high school, and then, because they get married, their fans clamor for more of them – and they end up filming a documentary about their married life.

That is SO FREAKING PERFECT, honestly. That documentary’s been a part of their journey, from the time they’d met and first dated, to the time they’d reconnected and reunited. And now, it’s going to be a part of their journey as a married couple as well. I LOVES IT. ❤️

Even though we don’t actually get to see the making of this new installment of the documentary, I can just imagine how warm, bickery, loving and altogether THEM it will be. 🥰😍

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Raw, honest and relatable. And, manages to be rather sparkling and effervescent, too.

FINAL GRADE: B++

TRAILER:

MVs:

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Our Beloved Summer, is Rainless Love in a Godless Land [Taiwan]. I’ve taken an initial look, and I’m happy to say that I’m taking to it quite well, one episode in!

Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!

Foundation Tier (US$1): Confession (bonus show!)

Early Access (US$5): +Rainless Love in a Godless Land [Taiwan]

Early Access Plus (US$10): +Thirty-Nine

VIP (US$15): +Uncle

VVIP (US$20): +Reset [China]

Ultimate (US$25): +Twenty Five, Twenty One

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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Aeuna
Aeuna
5 months ago

First of all, I just want to say thank you for writing this lengthy and comprehensive review. Whenever I watch a good series or movie, I like to talk about it with someone and analyze every bit. I am happy to found this. I felt like I talked to someone about my thoughts about it. I agree with everything that you have said here! I think for some of the shortcomings that you have mentioned, I agree that they were intended by the writers. They make the whole story raw and effective. I love this show so much that I re-watched it for a second time right after finishing the last episode just to see more details and to analyze the character’s underlying emotions a lot more. I love how relatable how each character handles their own problems internally but at the same time gives you some swoons that we long from a kdrama (the romantic scenes between Yeon Su and Ung). This is my favorite kdrama so far. Everything is just perfect, from characters, cinematography, OST and story direction are all well crafted and executed.

I think if you are the type who wants to get the usual entertainment or feeling from a kdrama (escapist and viewers are kinda spoon-fed with all details) then they would not appreciate how raw the pacing is here and the other intended uncomfortable feelings that are being given to viewers. I think this drama was made for those who can truly relate on how relationships and people’s inner workings are. Who are fond of seeing emotions depicted on screen. I totally appreciate this about this show. I have never really seen a lot of dramas that are like this. That’s why I love it so much.

I began to love Kim Dami a lot more, even after watching her in Itaewon and The Witch. I hope she gets more kdrama projects in the future. I also couldn’t see any other actors playing Ung, Yeon Su, and even Ji Ung, just them. I loved the characters the best in this show. I watched the behind the scenes on youtube and I saw that Dami and Wooshik would always suggest ways to the director on how they can better act each scene. This is the reason why they perfectly executed the characters because they understood the script well and added their own touch to it through acting.

Thank you again for this review! I cannot move on from this show. This review feels like some sort of closure for me.

Kay
Kay
6 months ago

Lovely review 🙂 I have this one on my watchlist, though it is not a priority. The slow, slice of life pacing might be too much for me. I love Choi Woo Sik though, so I would like to check it out at some point and see how it goes 🙂

David
David
7 months ago

Dropped. The first 4 shows were A+. 5 and 6 were B, but 7 and 8 were Incomplete. To use their language, I was sick of them being cruel to each other. When they were 19 or so, I think that’s fine, they are still young and in high school. But 10 years later, still acting childish and cruel to each. I get you hurt the ones you love. But could have easily skipped an hour+ of the “teen angst” but 29 years old melodrama portion. I presume they get through this, but just too long on the cruelness to each other. Too many other good shows out right now.

Antonio
7 months ago

I loved Kim Da Mi in Itaewon Class as much as I hated her here.

All the unsympathetic actors, boring plot, I dropped out after 5 episodes. Yet another Netflix kdrama that I didn’t love.

Where can I find a list of Kdrama produced by Netflix? I would be curious to find at least one not corrupted by Western “values”. I really liked IOTNBO, but I don’t think it was a Netflix production for example.

uyen
7 months ago

I really loved the beginning of OBS, the petty bickering, the storytelling in how we piece together what happened in their relationship. I love the second chance aspect and our two leads learning more about each other and realizing how they changed. I do think I would have enjoyed it more if it were 10-12 eps, there were some episodes in the middle I felt were less necessary like the cabin trip, etc. I felt the part that irked me the most was

minor spoiler
Yeon Su not being clear with Ung about why they broke up. She gave a non-answer, and I had a niggling feeling like things were glossed over. I would have preferred if they had cut out some time before getting back together and then focused more on the challenges in their reconciliation. I get how this is maybe more realistic, but I also felt a bit cheated, only because I was spoiled by how nicely the beginning of the show treated their relationship honestly, warts and all,

I adored NJ and Ji Ung, two second leads that I actually wanted to see more of, and feel like we never quite went beyond the surface for them. I was hoping for more developed arcs.

All in all though, I still squealed at the end and loved the OST so much! Truly Kim Da Mi and Choi Woo Shik made it for me — I would’ve happily watched more of them staring angstily at each other and conveying so much through their eyes.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago

Our Beloved Summer, was a mixed bag for me, in the end. It went from super crisp and delicious to soggy and unappealing. Our OTP were fabulous throughout, despite my misgivings where show went. My blahness aside, there is talk of both leads undertaking a third project together – as a married couple. I think that would be really something to see.

NJ deserved so much better. Yep, I’m a big fan. So much so, she should have been in her own show and not this one 😊 Yes, she lucked out re Ung, which is okay, but how her character slowly dissapated into the ether in the final stages was very blah to me.

As fo Ji Ung – I didn’t have any sympathy for him at all. There is a reason for that, but in terms of his realtionship with Ung – again, like NJ, their friendship dissipated into the ether – perhaps that was show’s point? As for the follow-up documentary, it fell very flat for me – it was a great concept that needed much more oomph. I thought Producer Park was underdone too.

Show should have ditched the secondary couple altogether. Their relationship was sort of okay, but Eun Ho’s transformation as a character didn’t ring true for me. And, as Ung’s manager – whew – he would have got the flick from me. Park Jin Joo always brightens up any screen, but I found her character didn’t quite dovetail into the overall narrative of OBS. So, I mollified myself by visiting her YouTube channel and watching her delightful musical renditions.

So, OBS gets a big *sigh* from me in the end. It could have been great, but I didn’t enjoy how show rolled from episode 8 onwards except for episdoes 10-11 when I perked up again, only for my hopes to be dashed on the rocks once more. Episode 15 was pointless to me and I found the finale lack lustre (Yes, I know Beez, I should have expected it).

Petra
Petra
7 months ago

Too many drama on my watch list, I’ll probably get to this in 2023. Is Kim Da-mi making anyone think of Tan Songyun from the Chinese drama Go Ahead?

enapeters
enapeters
7 months ago

For the first couple of episodes, I was like, “So cute and fun.” Then for many episodes, I was like, “Ok, this was not the show I was expecting.” Very slow burn. Not much happens. Reminded me tonally of Run On. But about the time when Ung comes to Yeon-su in the rain, I had fallen head over heels for this show.

The show was thoughtful with amazing character development and gorgeous cinematography. I loved how it took the high school romance/opposites attract trope and gave it a reflective twist. In that way, it reminded me of Because This Is Our First Life, which had also played around with tropes but had the worst ending of all time, so I was terrified that the ending of Our Beloved Summer was going to bomb to the point that I put it off for a couple of days. But my worry was unfounded; the ending was beauitful. Plus sidenote shoutout to the amazing OST. A million fingerhearts for this show.

reaper
reaper
7 months ago

Very detailed review! Nice!
I know you all love the show bit I just couldn’t get past ep3…. show didnt work for me at all

haart
7 months ago

Talking about ending, I recently visited some of your reviews on old shows. I’m happy to see that you are picky about ending just as much as I am. 

(Spoilers alert)
Popular shows like Fight for my way (B++ in your grading system) had you complained about the convenient happiness in the ending episode.
(End of spoiler)

But in OBS, I love to see most relationships end on either good (in a sustainable way) or open-to-be-better note. They are more realistic than convenient happiness for everyone. Aside from the pitch-perfect ending on Ung and Yeon Su, here are 2 other things I love:

  1. Ji Ung chooses not to reveal to Yeon Su his feelings after all. I think it’s realistic. Many dramas allow the second lead to be able to express their feelings to the one they love in the last episode, despite the fact that it will dramatically change the relationship landscape. It’s not necessarily the case, especially when it’s been Ji-Ung’s choice since the first day. It’s more important about Ji Woong allowing himself to gain the memories about his mom that he used to refuse to have, and about him being the main character of his own film/life. 
  2. Ung saying goodbye to his bio father. In other drama, Ung and Dad might get a teary reconciliation, but Show kind of implies that we can save it for later rather than rushing it for the last episode. Rather than this, the focus has been on Ung and his mom. Gosh, the simple scene of Ung and mom made me bawl my eyes out. So much tenderness, love, and sincerity going on between two people during a down-to-earth everyday meal on a no-special occasion. 
haart
7 months ago

Damn, your review is finally here. 

I got to admit that this show is very special for me. I have gone crazy over a few dramas in recent years, not nothing I would feel that deeply connected. 
Maybe as you said, the characters are so well written and played that I feel like I had lived with them in another life.

So please excuse me if my ranting is long for this show.

  1. The viewing lens of not having a lot of things going on in terms of events, but a lot in terms of emotions: At first, I was quite surprised to see my Kdrama watching friends were not so enthusiastic about OBS. But then I figured it out exactly like how you have put it. Show feels slow and scattering in terms of happening events. So it’s really about personal taste if you want to chew the emotions to the bones, without a lot of spices. I do, so I love it. Many people don’t, and it’s very understandable. And I quitted questioning why my beloved Show is ignored by people in my orbit. 
  2. About Ung being the beta male type: In my dictionary, beta male used to be linked with a lot of negativity. But a recent John Gray research I read (though it’s also quite controversial) has made it a bit clearer for me, why I would like this type of male lead. I don’t wanna go into details but the research/book defines a new idea of beta male lead, 30% of males are actually beta, and they are actually the most suitable type for women, they have high testosterone and a balanced estrogen. He is strong enough to protect and sacrifice, but also soft enough to listen and understand women. That explains to me a lot, to this question you have posed earlier in Patreon episode notes. 
  3. I am especially impressed by the not-only-about-love pitch-perfect ending episode. There is a reverse in Ung and Yeon Su’s choice of living their lives. In earlier episodes, we see Ung talking about living a stress-free life under the sun, just beside your beloved ones, without much ambition. It sounded very peaceful and resilient. But later in the last episode, his narration revealed that he had learned to eliminate ambition because of his fears. And now when he doesn’t have so much fear anymore, he does want more, he is ambitious. He wants to pursue his career further. For Yeon Su, she eventually chooses the life that Ung wanted. To be just beside her beloved ones. All she needed to do is to stop shortchanging herself. And I love that you love the finale just as much as I do. 
  4. The longing of Ung towards Yeon Su in earlier episodes is so well-made, isn’t it? It’s clear without much verbal exchange, it’s beautiful, sometimes silently beautiful. It’s painful to watch, but it feels painfully good. I could watch another Show of just Ung’s gaze, teary eyes, trembling voice, his tender hand-holding, and the burst of emotions that we bet in going out in his heart. Ahh, kudos to Choi Woo Shik for this stunning delivery. 
  5. Yeon Su grows on me steadily but deeply. I can feel all her vulnerability and fragility under that strong surface. At one point in the show, with so much pain and emotion going on, I just want to hug both of them all in my arms, patting their backs and saying it’s ok to cry. In all Kdrama love stories, are we the viewers the ones hurt the most? Haha.

That is a beautiful watch, Ung and Yeon Su will stay in my heart for a long time!

Kun
Kun
7 months ago
Reply to  haart

Fantastic explanation for why the show worked! The emotional landscape of the drama really worked for me, I had a few people I know say that they felt that the pacing was off but I never got this impression. It always felt very true to the characters and their journeys.

Kun
Kun
7 months ago

It was an absolute blast watching this show. I loved our leads and I loved the writing of this show especially when the focus was on our leads and their relationship. In a dramaland where finales are far too often disappointing I thought this was one perfect. The conclusion of the arcs for Ung, Yeonsu, and Jiung were all so satisfying. This drama year really has been off to such a good start for me between this and 25 21 😍

Trent
7 months ago

I loved this show and these kids so much, can’t tell you how much I looked forward to seeing them every week in new episodes. Choi Woo-sik and Kim Da-mi were just pitch perfect for these roles.

Feel quite lucky that the first two shows I finished this year were The Red Sleeve and Our Beloved Summer.

(It’s a solid “A” from me, seriously…).

haart
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Glad to see you here as well, Trent! Happy to see other viewers loving the show as much as I do. Definitely an A from me too.