Ji Chang-wook is back with a new drama, and we are loving its fresh, no-nonsense take on romance in the millennial age. Here are the reasons why “Lovestruck in the City” isn’t your typical K-drama.
Not all K-dramas are created equal, but most of them follow the formula, which made K-dramas so popular around the globe. “Lovestruck in the City” isn’t built on the dog vs. cat game nor the love square plot. It’s a story about three ordinary couples, the good, the bad, as well as the ugly side of relationships.
Ji Chang-wook is Park Jae-won, an architect who goes on a month-long vacation in Jeju. There he meets the spirited Lee Eun-oh played by Kim Ji-won, and the two fall deeply in love. Everything goes smoothly with their relationship until Park Jae-won is forced to return to Seoul for work. Despite agreeing to see each other in Seoul, Lee Eun-oh fails to show up. Park Jae-won is left feeling dejected, wondering what went wrong with their perfect summer love.
There are two other couples in the story. Architect Choi Kyung-joon (Kim Min-seok) has been dating Suh Rin-yi (So Joo-yeon) for years. Unlike Park Jae-won and Lee Eun-oh’s love story, theirs is a steady kind of romance. There’s also Kang Geon (Ryu Kyung-soo), a novelist who previously dated the self-confessed serial dater Oh Sun-young (Han Ji-eun). Despite their differences, the two start to date but eventually break up.
Old Story, New Format in Ji Chang-wook’s New Drama
All six characters are in some way related to each other. Choi Kyung-joon is Park Jae-won’s cousin. Meanwhile, it has been revealed in episode 5 that Kang Geon is actually Lee Eun-oh’s housemate. All six discuss their relationships, from falling in love, break-ups, and even sex. The topics are relevant and candid, such as how to initiate first sex, and what to do with the memorabilia from your ex.
Perhaps the most glaring difference of “Lovestruck in the City” is its use of the interview format. While in character, Ji Chang-wook and the rest of the cast in the new drama banter back and forth as if they are speaking to one another without really sharing the same screen. It’s a witty style of connecting with the audience, reminiscent of the Cameron Crowe film “Singles” back in the early 90s.
Short But Sweet
Each episode of “Lovestruck in the City” runs for 30 minutes. The short form drama is a relatively new trend, targeting viewers with a shorter attention span, and mostly those who watch through their mobile phones. This format is great when the story-telling is tightly and neatly done. I sometimes find myself left hanging after each episode of “Lovestruck in the City” but in a positive way. However, with only a few episodes left, I am wondering how they will be able to develop the storylines of the other couples in the drama.
“Lovestruck in the City” might not be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s not a lot of spine-tingling grand gestures (although there are some) if that’s what you are looking for. What we get instead are honest views on romantic love. There’s not a lot of “reality” in K-dramas, but “Lovestruck in the City” is a different story.