In a time of isolation and distance brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, high school nostalgia and the inevitable road to adulting, as seen in the ever-convoluted worlds of characters Kook Yeon-su (Kim Da-mi) and Choi Woong (Choi Woo-shik), became the foundation of the audience and source of the warmth that effortlessly emanated from the Netflix Series, Our Beloved Summer.
Starting in a special documentary within the series about a first-rank student Kook Yeon-u and the lowest ranked student, Choi Woong, the two characters showed polar opposites on their attitudes and views towards school and life.
Yeon-su, an achiever and perfectionist student, prioritizes studying over everything to achieve her goal as she sees it as the only acceptable road to ultimate success in life. On the other end of the spectrum, Woong, rather than stressing on academics, prefers to read and draw silently.
Through the documentary, the two became familiar with each other, grew closer, and their relationship eventually blossomed into love. But ten years later, the bickering and the fights between Yeon-su and Woong captured the hearts of the netizens, making it trend, that would then propel the two to meet again but this time, as ex-lovers.
Since its weekly release on the streaming platform, Netflix, Our Beloved Summer has since warmed the cold emotional shift of weekend comfort to a bearable Monday and long weekday workloads. With the intense competition of stories in Korean dramas, Our Beloved Summer seized the audiences’ hearts through this familiar and carefully-woven emotional drive.
The undeniable chemistry of the two leads Woo-shik and Da-mi has been anticipated by the fans, having worked together in 2018 with a supernatural, action-thriller film, The Witch: Part 1 Subversion.
Swerving off her usual characters, Da-mi in a press conference for the series, shared deciding to play the character of Yeon-su, a PR specialist in the series, wanting to act in a realistic role in a romantic comedy genre. Portraying as a strong lead, she highlighted Yeon-su’s character “who is strong outside but actually a soft-hearted friend. To Woong, there are certain charms that come out only to Woong that others can’t see.”
Contrary to Yeon-su, Choi Woong, portraying an artist that goes by the name Ko-o, is a simple-minded person that enjoys the little things in life. He likes napping under the shade, and revels on the beauty of doing nothing, which is the ideal life for some. Woong doesn’t like to live a complicated life which completely nails him in his comfort zone.
But as much as we can easily see him as innocent and naive, he is passionate and serious about his art and takes things to his heart. Woong is a character who only shows the tip of the iceberg but diving into his emotional and mental state, like Yeonsu, both of them breaks down their deceiving facades only to reveal affectionate characters with unconditional love for people important to them.
“There are a lot of scenes where he shows sharp concentration. I think he can show you two charms at once. He doesn’t always look like a mischievous boy. Sometimes, he’s very serious. There’s a cold side to me too,” Woo-shik shared.
Completing the dynamic characters of the drama, Kim Ji-Woong played by Kim Sung-cheol, Woong’s childhood best friend and later on became the TV producer who encouraged Yeon-su and Woong to do the documentary again.
“He doesn’t show his feelings or thoughts and always hides them. Since I have that kind of personality, I naturally wanted to become a documentary PD. So, from the perspective of an observer who has lived until now, at 29, it became his dream. It’s a character that makes you comfortable.”
Among the supporting character that caught everyone’s attention is NJ portrayed by Roh Jeong-eui, a top idol who later on became acquainted then deeply involved with the artist Ko-o.
“There are scenes that show how NJ had to deal with pain while looking at the backstory of this top idol,” Jeong-eui expressed. With the rise of K-pop penetrating international grounds, the character of NJ reveals the downside of fame.
Looking at each character’s standpoint, each character has a flaw and an internal crisis that needs to be dealt with. Our Beloved Summer unpacks the many complexities of love that Yeon-su and Woong felt for each other, and how this very affection impacted the lives of their families and friends, and in the same vein, how their love for their families and friends had a hand on their expression of love between one another.
For Da-mi, she expressed that the show “is a drama that you can watch from various perspectives. So, depending on the character’s sight. I think it’s a drama where you can understand in a variety of ways.”
Woo-shik then shared that Our Beloved Summer makes use of the seasons both as a witness and a narrative device “where you can feel the memories of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter. It’s a drama where you can feel the memories of being with someone.”
Shifting from one individual to another, the drama traversed the heaviness of the past and how this factored in on rebuilding relationships with other people, but more importantly, with oneself. Through this, the audience formed an attachment to each character, empathizing with both the main and supporting roles.
For weeks, Our Beloved Summer topped the weekly charts on Netflix and trended on Twitter as fans expressed their insights to the conversation shared and secrets that each episode uncovered.
Towards reconnecting and reminiscing the past, the drama showed that time will continue to move forward and so will people, but feelings can / may continue to grow.
Watch “Our Beloved Summer” on Netflix.