[Discuss Away!] Our Beloved Summer, Happiness, The King’s Affection, Melancholia, School 2021

Some dramas have wrapped up while some have just started. I provide my final thoughts and reviews on the ones that have finished airing and give additional comments on the ones that are still currently going on.

Warning for my post below: not too much positivity. Read at your own risk and health 🙂

Melancholia

Oh ‘Melancholia’, what am I going to do with you? I don’t have too many great or positive things to say about this drama other than the fact that I feel like everyone in this drama needs help. I get that it’s a melodrama which is why the drama is the way that it is, but it still feels too much for me.

With the time jump, our male lead, Baek Seung-yoo, is now an adult and no longer the high school student we first were introduced to at the beginning. He follows a similar path to female lead, Yoon-soo, as he’s also now a math teacher at the same high school he attended. He also reunites with Yoon-soo who he still has feelings for. With the way that things unfolded between them that caused them to depart in the first place, Seung-yoo is desperate to go back to how things were like between them. He doesn’t understand the concept and definition of boundaries and doesn’t distance himself from her even when she expresses to him multiple times to stop. Their lives changed as a result of their interactions years ago and she doesn’t want to relive those memories or risks. However, the walls Yoon-soo put up around her begins to falter and wave as Seung-yoo continues to approach her aaaaand that’s pretty much where we left off.

Even with the time jump where Seung-yoo is now an adult, I don’t know why I still feel iffy and icky watching the drama. Maybe it’s because it’s obvious that his high school days had a huge impact on him and has influenced him to be where he is currently is as a math teacher at his high school. With his intelligence and reputation, he could have gone anywhere else and done so many other things, but he chose to stay behind and follow a similar path to Yoon-soo who he first interacted with as a high school student. I’m also not a big fan of the way he continually pushes himself towards Yoon-soo even when it’s clear she’s uncomfortable and doesn’t want to lean on him. Things that he did as a high school student like visiting her father are things he’s still doing in the present. He clearly hasn’t forgotten what his high school years were like nor has he learned from the controversy and downfall of it all. It’s a bit puzzling and frustrating to watch at times.

After watching ten episodes, I’m not so sure I want to keep watching the drama. I might just wait to tune into the last episode to see how things wrap up for our characters. I’m not as invested with all the school politics and Seung-yoo and Yoon-soo’s relationship and dynamic with each other has been one with many question marks attached to it from the very beginning. It’s a little baffling at how naive and careless the two were from the start. It’s clear that both need a lot of growing up to do and almost everyone in this drama needs some help.

Happiness

I don’t know how I ended up finishing this drama and I’m not so sure I’m glad I did either. In my first review, I had only watched the first two episodes without any clear plans or decisions to finish it. It was basically a zombie drama so I wasn’t so sure how innovative or creative or special ‘Happiness’ was going to be. I also wasn’t too sure what the title of the drama meant as it seemed like the drama was pretty much the complete opposite. You had people getting infected and bitten, some characters dying, our supporting and main characters trying to survive and fight for their lives.. what exactly about this drama was happy or supposed to be emit feelings of happiness? But then again, maybe there’s a hidden meaning to the title and they did it on purpose? I’m not so sure where the drama was going with the title.

As frustrating as the drama was, I unconsciously continued to watch it every week. I actually had plans of dropping it once I finished episode ten because of just how frustrated I felt only to find out that ‘Happiness’ was a 12-episode drama and not the usual 16 (I know I know, bad planning on my end. Next time, I should clearly do more research, haha). At that point, it was already too late and I might as well have just finished the drama.

To put it nicely, ‘Happiness’ seems like a drama that might have fared better had it been released a few years ago. It seemed a bit outdated and trope-y with the angle and direction that it took: the female protagonist is the one with the antibodies to the disease that will basically put an end to all of the madness, the male lead gets infected with the disease and sacrifices his life to save others in the building, you have the one neighbor out of the group as the evil and irritating villain who tries to get others killed or sacrificed, then you have the rest of the neighbors in the drama who get crazier and crazier as the drama progresses.

Had ‘Happiness’ been released a few years ago, I don’t think I would have been as critical about the drama. The zombie theme in the Korean entertainment industry was quite popular a few years back thanks to hits like ‘Train to Busan’ followed up with other works like ‘Peninsula’ and ‘#Alive.’ Fast forward a few years later and you have to be creative and innovative with the zombie apocalyptic theme and genre. You have to do something that we haven’t seen before or have seen but with a different and refreshing execution. Unfortunately, ‘Happiness’ was not an exception and there wasn’t much that was special about it. There wasn’t much that set it apart for me.

It’s unfortunate because I was excited to have Park Hyung-sik back on the small screen with this being his comeback drama after his military service. I just remembered thinking to myself while watching this drama how I wanted to see more from his character, Yi-hyun. Park Hyung-sik is a good actor and yet he was limited with what he could do playing as the superhero every single time. Because ‘Happiness’ was more plot-driven and plot-focused, you didn’t see much of him doing anything else nor did you learn more about him and his background story other than the fact that he was a baseball player. The same thing could be said about Han Hyo-joo’s character, Yoon Sae-bom. The two didn’t do much except basically try to keep everyone and everything together only for it to all fall apart towards the end.

Apocalyptic thrillers like ‘Happiness’ can be such frustrating watches because of how it enables and allows the supporting characters to make the most bone-headed decisions and mistakes. There were certain moments in the drama where some of the characters opened the doors to outsiders who were potentially infected or when they went outside of the apartment building themselves for their own selfish reasons. There was a scene when one of the characters gave the key to the man who was handcuffed despite him being handcuffed inside of a room for a reason. I’m not a big fan of dramas where there’s many side characters, like in ‘Happiness’ or even ‘Hi Bye Mama’, but every so often, there’ll be dramas that know how to better utilize the amount of side characters they have such as was the case with ‘Vincenzo’ (speaking of ‘Vincenzo’, there were a few actors in that drama that was also in ‘Happiness’! Haha, nice to see them again in another project). I wasn’t really too fond of any of the side characters other than the little girl, Seo-yoon, and maybe the lawyer’s (ex) wife. There really wasn’t much incentive to care for the rest of the characters.

As you can clearly tell by my final review so far, ‘Happiness’ wasn’t the best drama, but it also wasn’t the worst either. I do think the directing was pretty cool given that it was an apocalyptic thriller and I like the refreshing take with Jung Yi-hyun and Yoon Sae-bom’s relationship. They had history with each other dating back to their high school days and kept in touch many years later and then were paired together to save their world. Now that I think about it, it would have been more thrilling and exciting IF the two did try to literally save the world together instead of be confined to the walls of an apartment building. That definitely would have took the drama to a whole new level. Regardless, I like that they ended up getting “married” first to move into the apartment together instead of it being the other way around where they develop feelings for each other first then get married somewhere in the future. It was a little different, but still so adorable altogether and I wished there was more we could have seen from them other than them being superheroes. I really enjoyed watching their elevator scene in episode 11 & the apartment scene in the last episode where Sae-bom comes back for Yi-hyun. Some of the best scenes from the drama have come in those moments where the two are the most vulnerable because they have fought for far too long in trying to be strong. All in all, there was so much wasted potential with both their characters and their dynamic with each other.

I think it’s safe to say that ‘Happiness’ is a drama that’s better left alone. It also didn’t provide me with so much happiness as a viewer. It was great to see Park Hyung-sik on the small screen again and I hope to see him in another drama that’s a bit busier like he was in ‘Suits.’ There’s other options I have if I ever want to go back and watch more of him.

The King’s Affection

‘The King’s Affection’ is another drama that wrapped up earlier this week. As stated in my first review, it wasn’t ever really a drama that I took too seriously or that I sat down to focus and watch. Park Eun-bin continued to shine as the amazing actress that she is until the very end and her character, Lee Hwi, was put to the test when she went up against her own grandfather. Eventually, she managed to overcome the challenges with the assistance and support of those near her and she was able to live a life that belonged to hers.

It was interesting to watch Lee Hwi rule as the King for a variety of reasons. There’s the gender switch that adds a layer to it, but it was also just the way Hwi ruled as King and stood up for her people. She cared about them and she did her best to protect them at all cost. Even if the position as King wasn’t hers to begin with, she stepped into it right away and adjusted and adapted to the once unfamiliar setting. I did find the final episode to be a bit puzzling. Was it possible for Lee Hwi to have maybe thought about chatting with her grandfather over some tea first to possibly work things out and poison him to death before going into battle? The whole bloodshed thing and then a suspenseful sit down over some tea felt a little backwards for me, but eventually, Lee Hwi got the revenge that she wanted for her late father. She was able to take down her grandfather with the same poison that was used to kill her father. Not the most satisfying revenge plan, but I’ll take it.

In the end, I’m glad that Lee Hwi 1) survived and 2) is given the opportunity to finally live her life. She no longer has to live a life that is not hers nor does she have to mask anything any longer. The best part of it all is that she gets to do all of this with the love of her life, Ji-woon, and they can live the life that they envisioned earlier in the drama. As the King, Lee Hwi harbored affection towards her people and her country as well as Ji-woon. That affection will always remain there regardless of her position and title.

School 2021

‘School 2021’ continues to be such a pleasant surprise and I love how charming the high school drama is. It’s such an easy and peaceful watch and I appreciate that I can just watch it without having to worry about any of the characters. I remained cautious going into this drama simply for the fact that I didn’t have the fondest memory of ‘School 2017’ so I wasn’t too certain how ‘School 2021’ was going to fare. So far so good and I’m enjoying this drama a lot more than I initially thought I would.

High school dramas can be a hit or miss for me, but ‘School 2021’ so far is definitely a hit. It’s stuff you’ve seen in other dramas before (i.e.: the male lead moves in with the female lead or some students at the school receive special treatment because of connections), but the overall tone and feeling of it all feels so refreshing. I find our two leads to be so adorable with each other and I like that they are there for each other through multiple situations. Even the second male lead’s dynamic with the second female lead is so interesting. Even though they’re in a fake relationship, it’s not as if they hate or resent each other? They get along pretty well.

I think if there is one thing about this drama that I have to note, it’s the relationship between our male leads, Ki-joon and Young-joo. I spoke in my first review for the drama how I liked that Ki-joon remained opened and welcomed to the idea of being friends with Young-joo again even though it’s been mainly one-sided for now. Whereas in other dramas you have the two male leads hating each other’s guts, that’s not the case here with Ki-joon and Young-joo’s relationship. Young-joo is the one who remains cold and distant from Ki-joon for some reason that probably had to do with their mutual friend who passed away. Up until episode 7, the drama hasn’t spent too much time on providing context and background to their relationship so I’m curious as to what happened between them and why Young-joo feels the way that he does towards Ki-joon. I want to know why he hates Ki-joon’s guts and what it was that caused them to grow apart.

I thought the drama would maybe spend a bit more time on that sub-plot, but so far, there’s been little focus on them. The drama has been occupying us with other content instead including the Carpentry club, school projects, and Young-joo’s brother’s trial that involves Teacher Lee Kang-hoon. I’m not complaining at the drama’s decision to focus on other sub-plots instead as I obviously enjoy watching it all, but I am curious as to when the drama is going to invest some time in presenting more about Young-joo and Ki-joon’s friendship. The sooner, the better.

Speaking of Young-joo, I am a bit confused with his character as I felt like there was this sudden shift and change in his character. In the beginning, we were introduced to him as someone cold, stand-offish, and serious, but he seems to have opened up to his friends and classmates at school which I like but did find a bit random. I like the character change, but I’m also a bit confused as to where it came from. I’m assuming it’s because his interactions with our female leads made him feel more comfortable in lowering his walls, but I did remember watching the drama and thinking to myself at one point where his softness and gentleness came from. Lol. Regardless, I would much rather take this side of Young-joo than the cold and haughty guy he was introduced to us as at the start. Now all that’s left is to see him open himself back up to Ki-joon and to make up with his once good friend.

Our Beloved Summer

HNNNNGGGGGGGGG, excuse me for the weird and random sound, but ‘Our Beloved Summer’ is definitely a drama that I have a love-hate relationship with. I was not expecting to keep watching this drama at all. I did not expect the drama to turn out the way that it did after episodes 3 and 4. I mentioned in my first review how I wasn’t a big fan of episode one, but warmed up to the show a little bit more with episode two. With episodes 3 and 4 out this week, I decided to give the drama one more chance before ultimately deciding whether to keep sticking with ‘Our Beloved Summer’ or not. After finishing the first four episodes, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep watching it.

With my disappointment towards episode 1, I thought I really wouldn’t care if I dropped the drama. For some reason, I actually didn’t want to keep watching it, but it got better and better after every episode. Episode 3 was the most charming and interesting episode yet because we finally got more context into Choi Woong and Kook Yeon-soo’s history. We learned from Choi Woong’s perspective about their break-up and the things he both loved and didn’t love about Yeon-soo when they were a couple. He listed out the different reasons that he wasn’t the most fond of about Yeon-soo, but he also gave us insight on why he loved her and had feelings for her. It was so refreshing to see the drama give us these hints and clips because I was craving for them after watching the first two episodes. I was curious about their romantic relationship but even more, about their break-up. What exactly caused them to break up? How did Yeon-soo react and fare compare to Choi Woong?

There’s going to be a lot of communication and talking between the two for the both of them to come out of this alive and well, but I’m confident that Yeon-soo and Choi Woong will work things out eventually. It won’t be anytime soon as it seems like the two are still petty towards each other and want to remain in control for now. However, it’s also obvious that the two were heavily impacted by their break-up even if they made it seemed like they didn’t. As we saw at the end of episode 3, Yeon-soo was heartbroken after the break-up even if she played it off cooly as if she was okay. She really wasn’t. Choi Woong was a bit more honest and direct with his response to the break-up. He wasn’t shy about it nor did he shy away from the sadness and pain he experienced as a result. That could explain as to why he’s not afraid to be a bit more direct about things in the present than Yeon-soo. That could explain why he feels more comfortable expressing his frustration and resentment towards Yeon-soo about their break-up despite it happening five years ago. It’s been something that has weighed on his mind and heart and he’s still not okay after all this time.

I love watching the different reactions and responses between Choi Woong and Yeon-soo to their break-up in the present. Choi Woong continues to be so upfront and direct while Yeon-soo sort of remains quiet. Just as she did during their break-up, she pretends as if she’s over their relationship. She pretends as if it’s not something that has impacted her even though she was hurt by their break-up. She questions why Choi Woong still isn’t over their break-up while Choi Woong questions why she seems so indifferent about it all as if their memories and time together meant nothing to her… as if it never happened at all. Ughhh, the angst between the two is so good and I enjoy watching them come to terms with their new reality. It’s a reality where they film another documentary just like they did during their high school days, but also a new reality of having to confront their painful past to heal for a more peaceful future. There’s a lot of healing and maturity that will have to be done between the two and maybe this documentary will help cement the pieces to that journey.

If there’s one reason as to why I’m watching ‘Our Beloved Summer’ and probably will continue to watch it, it definitely has to be Choi Woo-shik. He’s SOOOOOO good and I just can’t help but gush over him for just how good he is as Choi Woong. Whether it’s the comedic relief or the more angsty and serious moments, he does it all and does it so well. I love watching him in this drama and I look forward to seeing how he and Yeon-soo make up. It’s not going to be easy, but something tells me that it’ll be funny and charming and beloved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: