[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Our Beloved Summer" Episode 1
By William Schwartz | Published on
Back in 2011, Yeon-soo (played by Kim Da-mi) was a high achieving student with ambitions of moving beyond her hometown of Nonsan. Well...I think her hometown is Nonsan anyway. "Our Beloved Summer" doesn't give a whole lot of obvious clues about where the drama is set aside from the dialect and some of the location shooting. Anyway, she sits next to Woong (played by Choi Wooshik), an underachieving reader whose main ambition is to just be left alone.
Flash forward to the present day. Both Yeon-soo and Woong have achieved their goals. Sort of. Yeon-soo spends a lot of time pitching a store concept to Manager Jang (played by Lee Joon-hyuk), a character so recurring I was surprised to learn that Lee Joon-hyuk was credited as a special appearance rather than as a second lead. Woong lives at home as a reasonably successful artist. We only find out at the end that apparently Yeon-soo and Woong dated for five years after the viral documentary footage of their high school days was shot.
Oh right. The documentary footage. It's very easy to forget about that part of the premise because "Our Beloved Summer" itself almost entirely loses interest in it after the title card. For reasons not clear, a documentary crew went to Yeon-soo and Woong's high school. They naturally gravitated to Yeon-soo and Woong because their personality clashes have powerful chemistry. The footage itself only becomes virally popular on video sharing websites in the years afterwards, with Yeon-soo and Woong themselves remaining mostly anonymous.
For all the effort "Our Beloved Summer" spends setting up their present day lives I was still a little lost as to why, exactly, they were meeting again after all these years. Presumably that will be explained next episode. Yeon-soo and Woong do meet again, but only long enough for a bewildered Woong to act incredulous about seeing Yeon-soo again after all this time. I'm still not sure why the whole "and they dated for five years afterwards" thing was presented as a last minute plot twist.
I don't like the way "Our Beloved Summer" is edited and structured. But Kim Da-mi and Choi Wooshik do have pretty undeniable chemistry, and are quite convincing as the leads. The weird little vignettes of their high school life are genuinely funny. They don't even seem to like each other, and have diametrically opposed goals in life. Yet somehow, this antagonism only draws them closer.
Review by William Schwartz
"Our Beloved Summer" is directed by Kim Yoon-jin-I, written by Lee Na-eun-I, and features Choi Wooshik, Kim Da-mi, Kim Sung-cheol, Roh Jeong-eui, Ahn Dong-goo, Park Won-sang. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2021/12/06~Now airing, Mon, Tue 22:00 on SBS.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.