‘Our Beloved Summer’ review: Like a languid, feel-good breeze

A visual delight, the K-Drama unhurriedly darts between the past and the present, aided by the charming narrative and memorable performances

There’s something very endearing, and yet heartbreakingly familiar about the lead couple in the visually-pleasing Our Beloved Summer. It takes quite a delicate balance to make a K-Drama like this one click; one which follows characters that aren’t always perfect, but who are, in equal parts, sweet and frustrating.

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Our Beloved… doesn’t just manage to do this, but has also kept its viewers thoroughly invested in the lives of Choi Ung and Kook Yeon-Soo for the duration of the show so far. It is around the tenth episode-mark that some K-dramas fall victim to unimaginative, insipid writing — something that this series has circumvented in its 14-episode run. Things will hopefully remain just as spirited in the last two episodes as well.

Years after starring together in a viral documentary from their school days, prolific illustrator Choi Ung (Choi Woo-shik) and PR executive Kook Yeon-Soo (Kim Da-mi) are forced to come face-to-face in front of the camera once again. This time around, their friend Ji-Ung (Kim Sung-cheol) is the one helming the documentary and he brings along a ton of unresolved feelings for Yeon-Soo. Also thrown into this mix is N.J (Roh Jeong-eui), a hugely popular Idol who has a growing affinity for Choi-Ung’s art and his quiet charm.

In the throwback school scenes, conscientious Yeon-soo’s initial shock at Choi Ung being the last ranked student soon gives way to slow interest from both sides. They’re initially almost repelled by how different they are, but this is also what brings them together. “Why does she live such an exhausting life? Early birds just get tired earlier,” Ung remarks.

As the show moves between the past and the present, the touches are lovely. We see several parallels, be it the library books Choi Ung borrows, or how he waits outside her house.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Choi Ung has cemented his place amongst the most well-written and loved characters in K-Dramas. It’s a role of a lifetime for Woo-shik who embodies every single quality, that writer Lee Na-Eun infuses the character with. One can’t help but fall in love with this shy, sweet boy-next-door who is very clear that a stressful life isn’t for him. He’s someone who wants to simply laze around while staring at the stars and yet, is immensely rooted when it comes to Yeon-soo, his family, friends, or anyone else around him. With his slow, sudden smiles and warmth that radiates off the screen, Woo-shik is the perfect fit for the role.

Our Beloved Summer

  • Director: Kim Yoon-jin
  • Episodes : 16
  • Cast: Kim Da-mi, Choi Woo-shik, Kim Sung-cheol, Roh Jeong-eui
  • Storyline: A former couple come face-to-face to star in an update to a viral documentary from their past, and are forced to confront their unresolved feelings

Yeon-Soo might be presented as the more aloof of the two, but there’s a lot of nuance that Da-mi brings about in her portrayal. Hers is a life that’s markedly different from Choi-Ung and yet, there’s this sublime connection we’re left cheering for. They evolve at their own pace, and yet influence each other in the best possible way. There are still two episodes to go, but here’s to hoping Sung-cheol’s Ji-Ung is yet another step towards having non-intrusive, sensitive and well-written second-lead characters (joining Lee Sang-Yi from Hometown Cha Cha Cha).

From Choi-Ung’s illustrations to his house and the quaint neighborhood, Our Beloved… is also a visual delight. The stunning OST perfectly compliments the show’s aesthetics with V’s soulful Christmas Tree being a recurrent feature through all the episodes.

What exactly is it about the show that has struck a chord with so many of its viewers? Maybe it is the fact that despite all their conflict, Ung and Yeon-Soo never turn toxic. While they might be battling love, angst and a host of mixed emotions, they’re surrounded by the most wholesome group of friends and family. There are no big villains here, and the stumbling blocks in their relationship is just what reality has to offer.

The languid, unhurried pace of the show is hardly a deterrent. More often than not, we see romances — especially that have adult actors playing high-school students — tread into cringe territory. Here however, you’re just left beaming at the small gestures, and waiting for that eventual ‘big’ confession.

Over the last few weeks, Twitter and Instagram have been populated with several memes from fans of the show about how it is impossible to get through a single episode without turning on the waterworks at least once. Going by the previews for the upcoming episodes, we’re probably in for an emotional roller-coaster.

While Our Beloved… can go either way with the angst, the thought of not having new episodes to look forward to every Monday and Tuesday is much more upsetting. Here’s to hoping the conclusion more than makes up for this predicament.

Our Beloved Summer is currently streaming on Netflix

 

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