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Drama Addict Diary: Youthful Indiscretions, Do-Overs and the Unbearable Chemistry of LUCA

I’m delighted to join Saya in her foray into diary-writing (is this a support group now?), which like Mi-joo in Run On, I haven’t done for many years. But it’s a super fun way for us to keep up with what we’re watching in between Yaks. We’re already covering Sisyphus week to week, so I won’t go into that here, but I’ve been watching an alarming amount of dramas lately—probably the most at any time since I first jumped down this rabbit hole. Weirdly, two are about characters traveling to meet their other selves twenty years in the past/future? And lots of teenagers, which is not very on brand for me. (Spoilers for episodes mentioned in headings!)

And yes, I have headings, because that’s how my brain works 😂

Hello, Me: Episodes 1-2

Let’s start with a new premiere! I wasn’t sure if I’d like this premise, but I love both Choi Kang-hee and Kim Young-kwang, so I sat down and watched Episodes 1 and 2 with my grandmother. Because I keep starting K-dramas with her and they keep ending up too creepy and/or boring for her taste. 😅

Thoughts/notes:

  1. Leads have a very un-cute meet in neighbouring jail cells on the worst day of each of their lives. That’s a wacky choice, but I love it. Squid costume and all. (I’m extremely entertained by how he continuously refers to her as his “cellmate” after they get out.)

  2. Bahn Ha-ni (Choi Kang-hee) is supposed to look awful/have let herself go, but I find her adorable? I love those freckles. She looks like a real woman who goes outside. (To be fair, any 17-year-old would be horrified by her 37-year-old self, so from Baby Ha-ni it’s totally understandable.)

  1. Han Yoo-hyun (Kim Young-kwang) has 80 licenses but a job ain’t one, so there’s obviously a growth arc coming here. I thought I was over the Arrested Development Chaebol as Hero, but KYK is the one actor that can still make me root for a character like this, without approving of anything he does. I mean—that grin. That puppyishness! No one does it better. His smile has always reminded me of Lee Seung-gi, who’s also really good at The Metamorphosis of a Cad. (See: Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance.)

  2. Instructively, Ha-ni’s worst day ever is way more miserable than Yoo-hyun’s, but she draws comfort from him being worse off than her, which tells you a lot about these two characters already.

  3. Wow, Ha-ni’s sister is really taking the idea of revenge is a dish best served cold to its extreme.

  4. Anthony, Ha-ni’s one-day high school “boyfriend” and current nemesis, is super entertaining as a shallow actor with no redeeming qualities, but I’m conflicted by the fact that he’s played by Eum Moon-seok, aka Blackface Dal-shik from Backstreet Rookie. Does it make it better that I’m enjoying hating him? I dunno.

  1. For the most part I don’t mind the over-the-top humour, even if I vibe more with the subtler jokes, but Ha-ni’s fantasy sequences in the hospital did nothing for me.

  2. Normally I roll my eyes when a character just stares at an incoming Truck of Doom, waiting for it to hit them, but I did appreciate the mirroring of present and past here, and Present Ha-ni having an existential crisis at the worst possible moment.

  3. Someone please rescue Ha-ni from having to care for this manchild and an actual child at the same time 😭 But also, I can’t wait to see her get back to a place where she feels like she has the right to stand up for herself, like she did 20 years ago. Only this time with justice instead of ego fueling her anger.

So. Hello, Me is very predictable and tropey. I can see every plot development coming like a slow-mo Truck of Doom, but… I’m actually enjoying this. It feels full of heart. I want to see Ha-ni learn to love herself again. And not in the way 17-year-old Ha-ni did—although I LOVE that Mini Ha-ni is such a conceited jerk. It’s so much more honest than shows that have protagonists look back at idealized versions of flawless naive youth. Come on! Most teenagers are awful, and Ha-ni was especially bad. But she’s also completely justified in her pain and disappointment to see that twenty years later, she’s not only not living her dreams, but humiliated, poor and alone in every aspect of her life.

And it’s a very relatable mirror to how we can sometimes feel after reaching a certain age *ahem* and realizing that we do not now, nor will we likely ever, live the fabulous life we imagined for ourselves as giddy teens. That genuine emotion and melancholy underlying the ridiculous hijinks is what grounds this otherwise very silly show.

It’s no surprise that the rude awakening Ha-ni had at seventeen, and the guilt over an accident she clearly feels responsible for, made her swing all the way in the other direction into the doormat she is now. So Ha-ni’s not a Candy because she’s the protagonist, she’s one because life forced her into a corner, and she gave up—and her journey is to come back into the world and face it bravely. I can get on board with that.

LUCA: The Beginning: Episode 3

I talked about Episodes 1 and 2 in the latest Long Yak, so I’ll just put my scattered reflections on Episode 3 here, apart from heartily agreeing with Saya that Gu-reum should absolutely be brain-dead at this point from getting hit on the head that much. But also, I absolutely don’t care. This show is so darn fun to watch.

  1. The chemistry between Kim Rae-won and Lee Da-hee is FIRE and ELECTRICITY. And not only because of all the actual fire and electricity lighting this joint up.

  2. I so appreciate how sparing and meaningful the dialogue in this show is. Not a wasted word. The premise is crazypants but the dialogue is A+. Especially between our two leads—I hold my breath whenever they interact.

  3. Why is there so much fighting and why is Gu-reum still alive. Is she a mutant?! Okay, I take it back, I actually do care and I don’t want her to get beat up anymore, please Chakka-nim.