K-Drama Backstreet Rookie Review

This is a cute and light Kdrama. I wouldn’t start this show with any crazy expectations of something overly dramatic or shocking. It’s more of a sitcom that is very funny and has a lot of warm fuzzy moments. The cartoonish set design and effects give the show a special charm. Having A-list actors like Kim Yoo Jung who plays Saet Byul (translates to “new star”) and Ji Chang Wook who plays Dae Hyun as leads don’t hurt either.

You have three main families involved. Saet Byul (Kim Yoo Jung) who lives with her younger sister, Eun Byul (Ahn Sol Bin), and their parents have both died. Saet Byul and Eun Byul lost their dad who was a Taekwondo master when they were still in high school. They had to learn to fend for themselves and Saet Byul worked hard at a lot of odd jobs to make ends meet and make sure Eun Byul was taken care of.

Eun Byul is a trouble maker who gets in with the wrong crowd and has dreams of becoming an idol. Then there is Dae Hyun (Ji Chang Wook) who lives with his parents and his sister loves close by. They are an average working-class family. His sister is always mooching off of them. The third family is Yeon Joo (Han Sun Hwa)’s family who is Dae Hyun’s rich girlfriend and lives with her parents. Yeon Joo’s family is well off and the second-largest shareholder for a convenience store franchise. Dae Hyun owns one of the stores as a franchisee. The three families show a contrast in class within society and their perspectives of each other.

Even though I really enjoyed this show, this needs to be brought up… One character that was blatantly racist, kind of ruined the show. It was Dae Hyun’s friend Dal Shik (Eum Moon Suk) who is a webtoon writer and occasionally helps out at the store. His character had deadlocks and in the first scene with him they showed flies swarming around him basically saying having a dreadlock is dirty. Korea is still very much a monoethnic country and they need to understand that these types of characters are offensive and should not be used. There are plenty of black people who live in Korea and this type of character really sends the wrong message to viewers. If they wanted a black actor, they could have used Han Hyun Min or Chris Lyon. They are both handsome great actors and speak fluent Korean. I was really disappointed and angry with this part of the show.

 

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My favorite character in this show is Dae Hyun’s mom (Kim Sun Young). She is a typical loud Busan ajumah (auntie). She made the show for me with her hilarious and loud character. A lot of her character and things she says get lost in translation for those who don’t speak Korean and I think it’s tough for non-Korean speakers to really appreciate her in this show. She reminds me of the neighborhood ajumahs when I visit Taegu or Busan. She is hot-tempered yet extremely loving and warm-hearted. She has a particularly touching exchange with Saet Byul and treated Saet Byul like her own child, especially knowing that Saet Byul had no one taking care of her.

One of my favorite cuties was on the show, Kim Min Gue. He played Saet Byul’s childhood friend who is a famous celebrity and his name on the show was Kang Ji Wook which I think was supposed to be a play on Ji Chang Wook’s name. The show makes a lot of hilarious references to other dramas and movies. I won’t give any of them away.

Saet Byul is a bright and positive person who is trained in Taekwondo and can kick anyone’s ass. She was a troublemaker when she was in high school and has some crazy fight scenes. I love that they made her character imperfect. She was not a straight-A student and got into fights. She struggled to pass her GED during the show. She always tried her best at anything she did. Things did not come easy for her but she always maintained her positive attitude, had great people around her and was appreciative of everything she had. Dae Hyun’s mom was always looking at everything Yeon Ju had and wanted it for his son but Saet Byul and Dae Hyun made her see that what they already have is great. The actress who played Saet Byul was a child actress and she has been in many kdramas and movies since she was only 5 years old. Kim Yoo Jung knows how to light up the screen with her infectious smile and knows to make the audience all warm and fuzzy.

If you want to watch a sweet laid back show with some cartoonish FX and a stellar cast, give Backstreet Rookie ago. I wouldn’t call it a must-watch but fun to watch.

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