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We’re heading into the second week of the TvN Kdrama Bubblegum. The show had a strong first and second episode. Although they go slightly mild on the comedy with the first two episodes, I have no issue with this. With week 1 behind us, they’ve established a fair balance between drama and romantic comedy which, fingers crossed, they manage to maintain.

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A lot of groundwork has been laid for understanding the characters and how they interact with one another. The focus has been primarily with Park Ri Hwan (played by Lee Dong Wook) and Kim Haeng A (played by Jung Ryeo Won). This is crucial to understanding their dynamic. They are not your typical Kdrama OTP (one true pairing). These two have known each other since they were kids so they are very comfortable together. So much so, that Park Ri Hwan doesn’t think anything of touching Kim Haeng A’s sanitary napkin until after she reacts. I want to see how they’ll go from childhood friends to lovers… or if it’s really a move they can successfully make. Although a sibling like relationship might deter some viewers, I’m okay with this bickering friendship with a blood-like bond.. It does seem that there’s definitely the potential for more. They have a comfort which each other indeed, but I think their may be feelings laying dormant on both their parts. 

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Although the drama is labelled a Romantic Comedy, it’s a lot more than a Rom Com. From looking at the first two episodes, I’d say it’s more of a drama with some cute Comedy sprinkled on top. There are certainly some lighter moments, but I can see the writers are trying to focus on the characters and want the character development to be the main focus. The comedic moments are however priceless. It seems to shuffle back in forth in term of comedy and drama. One moment I’m laughing, a few moments later, I’m close to tears.

This I find refreshing; I can hear the sceptics say “But it’s boring and slow”. What’s wrong with a slower pace if there’s a purpose to it? There’s a time for light/fluffly entertainment and there’s a time, for deeper, artistic interpretation. I’m getting pretty tired of stereotypical predictable Kdramas. I want something different. I’ve seen enough jerk chaebols treat the main heroine like she’s dirt until he finally realizes his true feelings and starts treating her like a human being. I’m ready to see a kind hearted mama’s boy acknowledge his feelings (hopefully) and get the girl. But no matter what happens in the story, I feel like it’s going to be interesting.

So since the focus seems to be on the character’s and  how they communicate, let’s see what we know about them so far. Please keep in mind this is my own character interpretation. Feel free to challenge me on it or add to it.

Park Ri Hwan
(played by Lee Dong Wook)

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Although he’s seemingly perfect, he does come with his share of flaws. He’s someone who genuinely cares for the well being of others. It’s evident in his practice, and especially with his life long friend Kim Haeng A. Although he has the best intentions at heart, his judgement has been shown to be clouded by his emotions.

Kim Haeng A
(played by Jung Ryeo Won)

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She’s always trying to act happy. Haeng A wants everyone to think she’s okay, but really she is hurting and feels very alone. In her relationship, she always felt alone, which made her feel even lonelier.

Kang Suk Joon
(played by Lee Jong Hyuk)

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We don’t know a whole lot about him right now. He seems to have a cold demeanour, but I think he must have a soft side to him. Unlike Kim Haeng A who wants to be seen as happy, he doesn’t appear to want people to know how he really feels (or maybe he’s just incapable of showing it). He makes me think of Shrek who describes himself as an onion with many layers. I think Suk Joon is also like an onion (I can’t write this with a straight face).

Hong Yi Seul
(played by Park Hee Von)

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Oh, our dearest Hong Yi Seul. I already want to slap her mother and scold her. Hong Yi Seul is beautiful, but she gets treated like an ugly overweight bland person which is not true. First of all, how is she overweight? I wish this impossible standard would seriously stop. Thankfully, Park Ri Hwan doesn’t treat her that way. Hong Yi Seul seems to have very low self-esteem. She’s down on herself but she still has her wit. She’s in a slump at the moment, but I would like to see her pull herself out of it (which already seems to be happening). It’s very exciting for me to see Park Hee Von in this role. I’ve seen her in many smaller roles, so I’m enjoying seeing her as more of a focus. I think a lot of us have felt the way her character feels; awkward and out of place (or at least I certainly have). Her character is quite identifiable.

The OST

I’m loving the music to the drama so far. The intro song is playful and light like a whimsical fairy tail. The other song, has a sadness to it, and I wish I could find out what the song is called and who sings it.. I find the OST reminiscent to the Coffee Prince OST sung by the Melody. It has an Indie feel and the vocals are great.

Cinematography

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The cinematography is really cool. The opening shots of Episode 1 were amazing. The entire way the drama was filmed has this really artsy feeling to it and pays great attention to detail. Everything they show seems to be done with a purpose. For example: 1) The panoramic view of the city illustrating how everyone is connected 2) The droplets from the wine glasses depicting Kim Haeng A’s loneliness 3) The photographs on the wall at the restaurant giving us the sense of family between Park Ri Hwan and Kim Haeng A.

Flashback Scenes

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So far we’ve had quite a few flash back scenes showing our main leads as they were growing up. This has helped us understand their behaviour a little better. I would like to see this continue as long as it works and isn’t just occurring because it’s part of the formula. If it aids in the story, I think it’s great. The kid actors are really cute by the way. I like that they show them as young children and also as adolescents.

Oh, by the way, I really like actor Park Chul Min in the flashback scenes. I’ve often seen him in comedic roles but he’s really nailing the loving father role.

Final thoughts

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I really hope they stay true to their vision and tell the story of the characters that they want to tell. I like the style of the drama, and I hope it doesn’t sway much. The approach is refreshing and will hopefully continue to be well received. The drama has a very strong cast and made very wise casting choices all around. Although this might not be what Rom Com lovers had expected, it’s unique and has managed to find balance so far between light and heavy.

Episode 1-2 rating:

kdrama Quick review rating

4.7/5

Bubblegum Episodes Recaps:

Bubblegum Episode Recap 1-2
Bubblegum Episode Recap 3-4
Bubblegum Episode Recap 5-6
Bubblegum Episode Recap 7-8
Bubblegum Episode Recap 9-10 (audio)
Bubblegum Episode Recap 11-12
Bubblegum Episode Recap 13-14
Bubblegum Episode Recap 15-16