International Dramas: ‘Lovestruck in the City’

Promotional image of (left) Ji Changwook and (right) Kim Jiwon. Copyright goes to KakaoTV and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

After everything that happened with ‘Imitation’, I knew that I wanted to start looking into K-Dramas that I might really like and that I could do positive reviews about. Because, as much as I loved watching ATEEZ members in their acting debuts, that show was a mess. After randomly looking up some K-Dramas, I came across this one and was kind of intrigued by its simple but lighthearted premise. It’s a drama that follows six Koreans and their dating lives in a part confessional-style and part third-person-drama sort of way. It helps connect the characters to each other. And one thing that I have to say about this drama right off the bat is that it had incredible balance. It knew which characters needed screen-time and when. And it was more focused with having one central plot that it focused on more than the others. But over all of that, it was just incredibly cute. Definitely the type of K-Drama that I want to be watching right now. That’s not to say that this drama won’t make you cry, because it definitely will, but it’s in the best way. That’s enough about that, I’m just going to get into it. Instead of focusing on good or bad, I’m going to share my thoughts on each storyline individually because there’s really not a lot of bad for me to talk about in this show. This show is impossible to talk about without MAJOR SPOILERS so that’s your warning.

Park Jaewon and Lee Euno (Yoon Seona):

General Premise- This is the heart of the show and the storyline that will steal your attention and your heart. At the very beginning it is revealed that Park Jaewon is hung up on a girl named Yoon Seona he met at the beach over vacation. They only dated for two months, but by the end of these two months it is clear that he is very much in love with her. They were supposed to meet up after he had to abruptly leave for his job, but she never showed up at the meeting place. Because he left her with his prized cameras, he has been drunkenly showing up at the police department declaring that she is a camera thief in an attempt to find her and soberly going to the meeting spot every week just in case she forgot the exact date. Lee Euno is struggling to start her own business after her life was turned upside down when her fiancee left her and she was fired from her job. As the show starts out with showing the beach romance, the audience knows that Lee Euno is actually Yoon Seona throughout the entirety of the show. She was also in love with Jaewon, but Yoon Seona was an alias she came up with in order to become someone else and be a less boring person as she believed that this was why she was dumped and fired. Euno knows that Jaewon actually knows some of her closest friends and spends much of the series trying to dodge him despite the fact that she’s still in love with him and knows he’s looking for her.

Flawed Characters- This show is never afraid to tackle flawed characters. Jaewon considers himself cool and collected and never views himself as the type to be clingy. But his obsession with finding Euno proves this wrong and leads him to becoming an alcoholic, which is something he struggles with throughout the show. Euno doesn’t believe she knows who she is as a person and, because of this, continuously tries to lie to the people closest to her about her personal life. She doesn’t want to be the old version of herself that she perceives as being boring, but she also acknowledges that she’s not the completely carefree version of herself that she showed Jaewon. These flaws are something that both of these characters have to overcome. The show never treats them as acceptable or healthy, they add them as part of their character development. Jaewon has to figure out how to let go of people and let them come to their own conclusions while Euno discovers that she’s been herself this entire time. Both are such important lessons and they are taught by the show so incredibly well. As a young person who is still not completely sure who I am, I absolutely sobbed during the scene where Euno finally opened up to Jaewon and Jaewon understood and said they’d find out who she was together. They never tried to fix each other at the end either. They just offered each other unwavering support, which is something that I haven’t seen done enough in television in general.

The Emotion- When these characters feel something strongly, you can bet that you as the audience will as well. There’s a scene where Jaewon is drunk and Euno visits him after she sees him waiting for her at the meeting spot. As soon as Euno sees the state that Jaewon is in she begins to sob, and Jaewon believes that Euno is a dream because of his drunken state but still begs her not to leave him. I don’t know if I’ll ever meet a person who didn’t sob while watching this scene. It is entirely gut-wrenching and pulls at your heart in all the best ways. Seriously, this drama is good for if you need a good cry.

The Romance- Because this drama convincingly shows you two different stages of this relationship, it already feels familiar and full of chemistry from the beginning of the entire series. And it’s not as lighthearted as some other romances you might see. There’s a certain amount of rawness and desperation in this that brings out both the best and the worst of both characters. And when they finally get together at the end, it is entirely deserved. They have both worked on themselves and the relationship enough to know that they can be comfortable together. These writers seriously knew that they needed enough relationship development as well as singular development to make this work. And the beach setting at the beginning of this drama is also everything you’ve ever wanted out of a vacation. Literally everything about this relationship is romantic because it feels earned.

Oh Seonyeong and Kang Geon:

General Premise- Oh Seonyeong is a gym teacher at a High School and a serial dater who often breaks up with her boyfriends to see if they love her enough and forcibly takes back everything she’s ever bought them. Kang Geon is purposefully single after his last messy break up, that you realize was with Seonyeong as the series goes on. They both discover that they still love each other and attempt to patch up the hurt feelings of their past break up.

Girl Friends- One of the major reasons why Seonyeong breaks up with Geon is because he has two close female friends from his early school days. One is Euno and the other is Rini (who I’ll talk about later). They all view each other as siblings, but that’s not how it looks on the outside to some people. Especially when it comes to Euno who is his roommate. While this is something that Seonyeong learns to accept, I did find it interesting how unacceptable it was to romantic partners for their partner to have a friend of the opposite sex. I live in California where having friends of all genders no matter how you identify is really common and generally not viewed as an issue. I’ve had several close guy friends throughout my life and I’ve never viewed any one of them romantically at any point in our friendship. I just found this part of the storyline interesting, because it definitely shows a cultural difference that I had no idea existed.

The Romance- To be honest, there’s not much of a romance here. You see their messy break up and then you see them patch things together as friends at first. The show leaves it up to the audience to decide whether or not Seonyeong takes Geon up on his offer to give them another shot as a couple. Though, let’s be honest, she probably does. But I think that lack of closure is ok. It showed to me that the characters wanted to take things more slowly, which I appreciated and was, personally, all of the closure I needed. Their form of romance is admitting the flaws in their relationship and trying to form some sort of footing again. Which was such a mature move for this show.

Seo Rini and Choi Kyeongjun:

General Premise- Kyeongjun is the colleague of Jaewon and is also his cousin who is continuously dealing with the pitfalls of his cousin’s alcoholism. He’s also in a long-term relationship with Rini who is always running low on cash and doesn’t seem to have any motivation to have anything other than a part-time job, which frustrates and worries Kyeongjun. Rini is a sweet and independent woman who doesn’t want Kyeongjun to spend any money on her and doesn’t want to get a job that isn’t part-time because she likes the freedom. Though their relationship seems very happy and wholesome, you spend the entire show watching it decline.

The Romance- Through the first half of the show it is clear that these two are in a happy relationship with each other. The only pitfall seems to be Kyeongjun’s slight annoyance at Rini’s determination to save as much money as possible. But this doesn’t last. Despite the utterly wholesome and comfortable nature of their relationship, more and more flaws are revealed as the series goes on.

The Break-Up- Yes, at the end of the series they break up. Rini reveals that she never wants to have a steady job and that her mother tells everyone she is her niece because she is ashamed of her. This comes out after Kyeongjun lies and tells his uncle that Rini is a teacher rather than a part-time worker. Rini is sick of people lying about her and breaks up with him. And what sucks about this break up is that they are both right. Rini is consistently refusing Kyongjun’s help with absolutely everything and doesn’t take his worries into consideration. Kyeonjun is lying about her job because he’s ashamed of it and doesn’t take her wants into consideration. At the end, it seems like their break up, at least at the time, is probably for the best. Though it is sad. I’ve seen a lot of people say that they want a second season so that these characters can get back together, but I can’t say that I agree. I think that this show was smartly trying to show that not every relationship ends happily.

Oh Dongsik and Haena:

This is not a fully developed relationship in the show and actually, most of this happens in the last episode. Firstly, Minho of Shinee plays Dongsik, who is a very sweet, but not always so bright, cop. Haena is a famous actress who we see in the last episode trying to escape a set where she is being forced to have her first kiss with an offensive actor on the show she’s filming. Throughout the series we see Dongsik stare longingly at photos of Haena that are on billboards in the city. We don’t know that he knows her until she escapes to his house and celebrates his birthday with him. He is very stern to her and treats her much like a little sister, and it is implied that they are possibly childhood friends. But it is clear that he doesn’t see her as a little sister and is attempting to mask his feelings for her. She is much more open about her feelings. When she has to return to set at the end of the night she requests a minute of his time and uses this minute to kiss him; getting her first kiss with someone she actually likes instead of the actor. While this is only in one episode, it’s an excellent set-up to what could be a second season (I hope). I would personally love to see a second season follow a storyline with these two and other characters that we haven’t met yet!

And that’s my review! Obviously, I really love this series and would love for there to be a second season. Though, as I said, I would prefer the next season to be about the couple that was just set up and other characters we haven’t met instead of the characters already focused on. I think continuously making seasons like this could make for an absolutely amazing and timeless show. And this first season was already written amazingly and already feels timeless. I highly highly recommend this show to literally anyone; it is cute and it is guaranteed to get you in your feelings. I know I’ll return to this show someday. It has to be one of my favorite dramas that I’ve ever watched!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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