[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Witch's Diner" Episode 2
By William Schwartz | Published on
In the previous episode of "The Witch's Diner" an agitated Jin ate one of the titular witch's meals. Consequently, the woman who tricked Jin and her mother had a heart attack. I thought this was a bit much. Once the mice showed up I was expecting that the villainness herself had been scammed, with her new real estate property being infested with pests and thus being completely unsuitable for a restaurant.
Such an ironic fate would have been more appropriate in a careful what you wish for fantasy premise. If nothing else, it would have made Jin's character look less hypocritical. Jin feigning surprise that her revenge takes on a lethal form bothered me less in this regard than the fact that she nevertheless continues to try and renegotiate a better business deal with a witch that Jin nows considers to effectively be a contract killer.
Ultimately Jin only goes as far as warning Gil-yong as to Hee-ra's mysterious powers. Then in one of the cuter scenes, a clearly agitated Hee-ra is upset that Gil-yong appears to have wished for something entirely reasonable in spite of the fact that he's still in the middle of an exceptionally dark plotline about high school bullying. It seems like only a matter of time before Hee-ra is called to solve that problem with food, although it's a bit odd that hasn't happened already.
"The Witch's Diner" needed two episodes to properly set-up its three principal characters at the diner. And even then it still doesn't feel like the story has actually started. One new character appears at the beginning with a difficult situation and a ridiculous grudge, and only reappears at the diner at the very end with a rather contrived motivation. This is an odd way to structure episodic storytelling, and I'm again left wondering if the shorter than usual episodes are causing pacing issues.
Other problems are more subtle, like how Chae Jong-hyeop is cast as a character maybe ten years younger than Nam Ji-hyun despite the two being almost the exact same age in real life. The result being that Gil-yong's obvious crush on Jin feels like it should be a more plausible romance than it really should. This might or might not relate to his still secretive wish, but then most of the problems I'm having with "The Witch's Diner" right now are that the drama seems more interested in enigmatic set-ups than following through on satisfying resolutions.
Review by William Schwartz
"The Witch's Diner" is directed by Lee Soo-hyun-II, So Jae-hyun, written by Lee Young-sook-III, Seo Im, and features Song Ji-hyo, Nam Ji-hyun, Chae Jong-hyeop, Ha Do-kwon, So Hee-jung, Son Kwang-eop. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2021/07/16~Now airing, Fri 16:00 on TVING.
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.