Our Beloved Summer: Korean Drama Review

I’ve really had it tough waiting for the final week of Our Beloved Summer before starting the drama. As some of you know, I prefer waiting for dramas to end first because I do not have the patience to wait for weeks to know what happens next. It was particularly difficult for Our Beloved Summer because I was already super excited about the team up of The Witch 1: Subversion‘s Choi Woo Shik and Kim Dami in a romantic comedy as soon as it was announced in the last quarter of 2021. But what can I say? OBS is worth every agonizing minute of waiting. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Synopsis: Kook Yeon Su (Kim Dami), the top student in her high school class, and Choi Ung (Choi Woo Shik), the lowest ranked student, shoot a documentary that goes viral 10 years after its release. Unknown to the public, the pair dated for five years after the documentary and had a bad breakup. Now, their paths cross again and they are forced to work together for a follow up documentary to be shot by their producer friend Ji Ung (Kim Sung Cheol). As with their first collaboration, chaos ensues.

On the surface, it would seem like Our Beloved Summer is your typical childhood sweethearts-turned-nemesis storyline, but OBS is so much more than that. The series delivers well developed characters that you will find impossible to hate. It delivers a story that will touch the most hardened of hearts and it will just make you root for a happy ending from the get go.

I loved the character of Choi Ung. In the beginning, you would be completely justified to think that he’s just a typical slacker who has no ambitions in life. How could you not? He proclaims it at every opportunity. However, there are so many layers to Choi Ung’s character that are unpeeled with every episode. We get that he is an adorable, childish sort with a very simple view of life, an immense talent without the ego to match. He takes his time and does things in his own pace but there is a reason that he is this way. His heartbreak runs deeper than anyone could imagine, and what really gets you is that he deals with his pain alone. I was shocked about to learn of his secret towards the latter episodes. It truly unpeeled another layer of hurt from the words that Yeon Su delivered during their breakup. My heart broke for Ung in the aftermath of their parting, and watching the subsequent backstory made me even sadder.

You will love Choi Ung not just with how he is with Yeon Su, but with everyone he loves. He cares deeply for his family and friends. At first, you would think him indifferent to Ji Ung when he ribbed his friend about how he should not be staying over at his place unannounced, but then we discover later that he knows his friend so well that he is always there to listen and commiserate with him during the times he is down, both from childhood well through adulthood. And he is also not deliberately cruel in sharing about his relationship with Yeon Su. He just shares everything with Ji Ung, because he respects him enough to understand the situation. He also lets him know that no matter what, he will always have a home with him. It is actually kind of sweet, just generally how the character is. I loved how Choi Woo Shik was able to perfectly deliver on the demands of the role. This guy could be looking like a poor puppy in one moment and sly as a fox in the next as he plots a new scheme.

On the flipside, you can’t entirely hate Yeon Su for causing the breakup because she too, suffered from it. I liked how she was the exact opposite of Ung but at the same time she was the perfect complement to his character. One perfect illustration to this was their different view on the five years that they spent apart. It was masterful writing right there. Yeon Su loved Ung deeply and truly and connected with him on a level that transcends your typical friends to lovers trope. They were two halves that made up the whole. My heart broke for her as she silently suffered and carried her burdens. It was a great moment in the drama when she finally made her epiphany.

It was frustrating to see the two leads fail to address the elephant in the room when everyone that knew them knew that they still loved each other despite all that transpired. And in that sense, it made the drama all the more exciting as anticipation built up over how they could overcome it. One thing I can say though is that every scene with these two in it was magic. They just had explosive chemistry, and they perfectly mirrored each other’s movements without even realizing it. They smiled at the same time, and I loved that they always smiled when they kissed. Every lovey dovey moment was worth the pain, really. I loved the sweet moments between these two. It was just so pure and innocent, sometimes awkward when they try to force things but entertaining to watch. It was beautiful to watch them mature and learn from their mistakes.

I loved the supporting characters as well. How could you not love Ji Ung’s selflessness and loyalty to Ung, holding on to his secret for years because he knew that Ung and Yeon Su already loved each other? I liked the fact that the drama set up his potential love story throughout the series by its end, many viewers were already shipping Ji Ung with Chae Ram. NJ (Roh Jeong Ui) was also a great character. Her story is kind of a wake up call about how idols are treated by fans and its heartbreaking to see her dealing with her pain by waving it away. I’m happy that she at least had one friend in Ung and her team genuinely seemed to love and care for her, especially her manager hyung.

I loved Sol I’s persistence and bubbliness and of course, one of the characters that I related to the most was Eun Ho. Of all the characters, he was the only one who actually felt like Ung should not get back together with Yeon Su because he witnessed the pain that his friend suffered through after their breakup. I loved that he subtly kept reminding Ung to watch over his heart, first by compiling the artwork he made during his dark period and just using every opportunity to remind his friend to not wear his heart on his sleeve. As if he would have listened.

I loved senior PD Dong Il and CEO Bang who truly cared for their juniors and watched over them like real siblings. And what about Ung’s parents? I loved that they treated Ung like their baby even when he was a grown man and the unconditional love that they gave him through every phase of his life. Ung’s scene with his mom destroyed me. I was a veritable mess afterwards. I had to pause the episode because I could not see with all the tears. Even Kwak Dong Yeon made an impact as the quasi villain/ copycat Nu-a although at first, I didn’t recognize him from his previous roles because he seemed so mature here.

Major props to the production team. The settings and the cinematography were so nice. Also Thibaud Herem, the real artist behind Choi Ung’s illustrations is a wonderful talent.

Our Beloved Summer made such an impact because it talked about a pure and innocent love that lasted through the storm. The problems were realistic and relatable, and its just proof that you don’t need to create an evil villain to make a strong point. Sometimes, life is enough to put a spoke on even the most powerful love stories and that’s completely okay. All in all, Our Beloved Summer is a beautiful tale about knowing your worth, recognizing love and dealing with pain, and just knowing that its never to wrong to reach out and ask for help when you need it. It speaks to every one of us, and that is a testament to some excellent writing by Lee Na Eun and directing from Kim Yoon Jin.

PS. Don’t be fooled by those epilogues. While some writers use them to simply add some funny moments or add context to the story, OBS epilogues are next level, some of the most crushing bombshells are delivered through these snippets. Also prepare to suffer for LSS (last song syndrome) from the amazing OST. Everytime you hear V’s Christmas Tree, it will definitely remind you of one of your favorite scenes. Arggggh, I believe I will suffer from separation anxiety for a long time from this Kdrama. Its just so good.