Our Beloved Summer K-Drama Review & Summary: Equal Parts Endearing, Heart-Wrenching and Funny

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Video Source – The Swoon (The Swoon YouTube Channel)

Our Beloved Summer ( literally translates to: That Year We) is a coming-of-age South Korean romantic comedy television series. It is directed by Kim Yoon-jin with screenplay by Lee Na-eun. It stars Choi Woo-shik, Kim Da-mi, Kim Sung-cheol and Roh Jeong-eui in the lead roles. It premiered on SBS TV on December 6, 2021 and aired on Mondays and Tuesdays till January 25, 2022. It is now available for streaming on Netflix.

Our Beloved Summer Cast 

  • Choi Woo Shik as Choi Woong 
  • Kim Da Mi as Kook Yeon Su
  • Kim Sung Cheol as Kim Ji Woong 
  • Roh Jeong Eui as NJ 
  • Park Jin Joo as Lee Sol Yi
  • Ahn Dong Goo as Koo Eun Ho 

Our Beloved Summer Plot 

Choi Woong and Kook Yeon Su end up featuring in a documentary during their high school days. Ten years later, videos from their documentary start to go viral again, prompting the makers to plan a follow-up youth documentary with them. While they are initially hesitant, mostly due to their apparent dislike of one another, they finally relent. What follows is a journey that deals with love and heartbreak, a little bit more of the latter for some.

The series follows the pair’s life as adults, their careers- that seem to mingle quite a bit in spite of belonging to different spheres, their families, friendships, secret admirers and the revelation of a past romantic relationship and a messy break up with each other. 

Our Beloved Summer Review 

Our Beloved Summer is undoubtedly one of the best Korean series when it comes to handling the ‘lovers to enemies to lovers’ as well as the ‘opposites attract’ trope. There are several aspects of the series that make one fall in love with it. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects.

The main plot of the series does a good job of tying in all the elements of the series almost effortlessly. The idea of a documentary covering the lives of two students with varying interests and drastically different approaches towards academics is in itself quite interesting. What’s more captivating is the concept that the documentary, mostly meant to highlight the differences and contrasts in their lives, ends up bringing the two together. 

The main couple-Choi Woong and Kook Yeon Su- are absolutely adorable. Whilst a large part of their time on screen is them being angsty ex-lovers and acting like absolute children while in their thirties(Salt and water, Choi Woong? Really?), there is an endearing quality about them that one cannot deny. The casual conversations, playful school memories, youthful college days, their chemistry with each other- as a couple or otherwise, are all elements that make some of the strongest selling points of the series.

The couple’s dynamic is hilarious and mostly realistic, even if their initial interactions fit the mould of an overused trope and make you go ‘I think I’ve seen this film before’ (Taylor Swift reference anyone? No? Okay). What sets this couple apart from so many other ‘lovers to enemies to lovers’ portrayals is the well-timed and subtle depiction of how differently they handle their relationship in their teens as compared to as adults- and why it worked better the second time around. It’s like the series is trying to tell us- history doesn’t repeat itself if you learn from it. 

Our Beloved Summer K-Drama Review & Summary

The Relatability of the Characters in Our Beloved Summer

As individuals, Choi Woong and Kook Yeon Su are people that the audience can see themselves in. Speaking subjectively, as someone who relies on book smarts to solve all my problems in life, I relate to Kook Yeon Su a great deal. Also, as someone who prefers to lounge around all day and work at night, and hopes that the ‘glimmer of potential’ (Lion King reference? No? Okay) that I possess can sustain me for life, I relate to Choi Woong a great deal too. In all seriousness, the two of them with their preferences, their capabilities, their insecurities, their mistakes and their feelings make for very real people that we all know…all too well (Another Taylor Swift reference. Sorry, I can’t help myself.  I’m on a roll today.) 

Now let’s shift the focus onto the other characters in the series, which the makers do judiciously. Love triangles are personally not a trope that gets me easily invested, which is why Kim Ji Woong’s storyline might have been my least favourite thing about the entire series. It’s done well, objectively speaking, but there’s not a lot that it does differently. The one-sided pining gets tiring at one point. Fortunately for Ji Woong, the hopeless secret admirer is not the only character trait attributed to him in the series. He’s persistent, hilariously prudent, loyal, practical, professional and is also dealing with a troubling familial situation. 

While another character in the series, NJ the pop idol, is also a one-sided lover, her storyline does not seem nearly as exhaustive. This perhaps is because of the comical manner in which a lot of her part of the story is portrayed, or perhaps the way she deals with it doesn’t come across as very heart-breaking. With the character of NJ also comes the much-needed discussion of online trolling and harassment of celebrities, and how sometimes we forget that they’re only human, like any of us. The makers contributing a fair amount of runtime to this aspect of NJ’s life is probably one of the best decisions made in regards to this series.

Eun Ho and Sol Yee are the endearing and sometimes annoying best friends of Choi Woong and Kook Yeon Su respectively. These two are probably my favourite characters after the main leads. Their comic timing is perfect, the jokes always land and their appearance on screen almost always guarantees hilarious moments, especially when they appear together. 

The parental figures in the series are appreciable, to say the least. It feels good to have main leads who have supportive families. Not saying it never happens in Korean dramas, but it doesn’t happen all that often. Both families have an obvious impact on the lives of the leads, for the better, and contribute a great deal to a lot of the ‘awwwww’ moments in the series (Yes, that’s a long aww. I’m expressive like that). 

The cinematography of the series screams summer. A beloved summer- wink, wink. The soft warm colours and desaturated colour scheme is a feast for the eyes and makes one nostalgic about moments they haven’t even lived through. The back and forth between the past and present of the characters as well as moments from the documentary are put together to tell the story artistically and eloquently. 

The soundtrack of the series is absolute gold.     All the tracks are exceedingly soothing, like something you could just sink into. Be it the opening track of the series or other tracks like ‘Maybe If’, there exists an entrancing quality in them. One of the best tracks, and I’m trying to be as objective as possible here, is Christmas Tree. V (Kim Tae-hung) knocks the ball out of the park with this one. 

The ending, however, is arguably my favourite thing about the entire series. It isn’t an ending, exactly, in the sense it doesn’t wrap up all the storylines in a nice pretty bow. In fact, that’s what is so amazing. The ending is essentially made up of a collection of new beginnings. Be it for the main leads or any of the other characters, all seem to be facing the beginning of something new, and for the most part, something pleasant. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

Our Beloved Summer is equal parts endearing, heart-wrenching and funny. It deals with the youth just as much in terms of family relations, careers and friendships as it does in terms of romance. It is perfect for anyone looking for a fun rom-com to binge on. 

Author

  • Afiyah is a B.A graduate student pursuing the subject combination of Journalism, English, and Psychology. She enjoys reading, writing, and public speaking. She has written and published a book called ‘All the World's a Stage', which is a collection of seven short skits. Her greatest inspirations as a writer are Enid Blyton and Rick Riordan.