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Why Am I Still Watching Cafe Minamdang?

Let's be brutally honest here. It's likely because of this face.


But even Seo In-guk's insane charm can only keep me watching a sub-par drama for so long.


Cafe Minamdang falls under the K-drama category of comedy-crime-procedural where characters solve weekly cases with lots of shenanigans while chasing an ultimate baddie who did something awful to our heroes personally and often professionally.


Examples of such dramas would be Bring It On, Ghost!, Fiery Priest, Catch the Ghost, and Police Academy.


These tend to be weekday dramas that don't ask much from the audience.


They are light, fast, frequently funny, and let you invest just enough emotionally to enjoy the show while it's airing and forget about it soon after.



I don't mean that they aren't well written or skillfully directed. It requires a lot of production effort to craft crime dramas that aren't taxing emotionally, but still deliver a satisfying viewer experience.


I'm trying to emphasize that these dramas are meant to be easy to watch.


And Cafe Minamdang is easy to watch.


It has a quick pace, a colourful palette, unexpectedly funny moments, and a commitment to poke fun at itself.


And sometimes that's enough.



I can't make myself care about the ritual obsessed serial killer or Han Jae-hee's childhood crush on Nam Han-joon.


But, I do enjoy the Minamdang team's dynamic and their individual quirks clashing in the middle of stakeouts and fighting criminals. It creates a second layer of narrative that keeps my attention until the next scene, and then the next.



I also like the police team members. Oh Yeon-seo's Jae-hee is most enjoyable when she's working with her team. As a less experienced detective, suddenly promoted to the head of a team, her relationship with her sunbae played by actor Jan Man-shik is one of the more genuine parts of the story.


I was also impressed by the unfolding of our protagonists' connection with the serial killer, especially with the scene where Nam Han-joon finds his friend's burning body.


So, there are something that I clearly like. But I'm still feeling disconnected from the show. And that's what I'm mourning when I see this face.



Because the story largely keeps its focus on Nam Han-joon and Han Jae-hee's relationship, and never were two "partners" less well matched.


Through most of the show, Seo In-guk infuses his own character with clownishness and charisma in equal parts.


When he's in scenes with Oh Yeon-seo he remains the same man, but adds hints of confusion and irritation to his reactions to her. He's affected by her, but he doesn't know why, so he often loses control of his mouth or temper.



On the other hand, while Oh Yeon-seo is calm, measured, and conscientious as a detective when she's with her team or with her prosecutor friend, as soon as she comes near Nam Han-joon, she loses all perspective and will sooner punch him than listen to anything