Korean Channel: tvN
Plot: It’s okay to drink alone
Story depicts the slice-of-life and daily activities around a private institution for people preparing for their civil service examinations in Noryangjin, Seoul, South Korea.
The characters like to drink alone, be it after work or school, for their own reasons.
A truly high-quality and heartfelt story that depicts real life struggles. I could relate to the students mostly before I entered working world where I now feel so relatable to the teachers even though my professional is different personally.
When it comes to drinking solo in high quality way, our male lead is an expert in it. Ha Suk Jin (Remember him from D-day? Yeah, and he is also currently in 1% of Anything) plays a well-known professor, Jin Jung-suk, among civil examinations takers. Great educational background and yet still talk lowly of others, no wonder he is called “High-quality Trash” by others behind his back.
First off, we may judge and dislike Jin Jung-suk’s personality, but I understand the way he acts as it’s due to his past. Acting this way makes him stronger and successful. We can never know one’s past which shaped one into what he is today.
Park Ha Sun is definitely cute as Park Ha-na, as a new and not-so-popular professor. She is such a soft-hearted, having to try pleasing her only good friend, Hwang Jin-yi (played by Hwang Woo Seul Hye), while not knowing anyone in Noryangjin.
I did like their close friendship except that Hwang Jin-yi is way more selfish, wanting to be better than Park Ha-na and only wants the best for herself. At least towards the end, she realises how true friend Ha-na is and starts to stop taking their friendship for granted.
And well, eventually, Jin-yi got someone better than her long-time boyfriend. And that’s none other than… Oh, I love his quirky impersonations of well-known characters (I didn’t recognise most of the ones from movies). Behind his cheerful face, Min Jin-woong (played by Min Jin Woong) is actually the saddest person in this show. D: Always be there for your parents.
I got excited whenever he impersonated characters that I know of such as Yoon Ah In from Veteran, Song Joong Ki from Descendants of the Sun, Lee Je Hoon from Signal, Kim Eui Sang from W – Two Worlds (even with chyrons, hah!) and Park Bo Gum from Moonlight Drawn by Clouds.
Hah, Jung-suk’s WTF face. xD Not only had they done the dramas’ references through impersonations, other dramas’ scenes (such as Bring It On, Ghost and Another Oh Hae-young) were even shown, hah. This is what I love Drinking Solo for.
The trio of Noryangjin idiots! Jin Gong-myung (played by Gong Myung), little brother of High-quality Trash Jin Jung-suk, is totally way opposite of his brother most wouldn’t think they are even blood-related.
It’s no surprise that the brothers would fall for the same girl. It would be nice if Jin Gong-myung isn’t a student to Park Ha-na. But then, I enjoy how giddy Jung-suk becomes when he is in relationship with Ha-na, making them a cute couple. Heh.
Despite being loving towards Ha-na, Jung-suk is still as same as always, talking lowly of others. Meanwhile, Gong-myung is someone we would fall for. I was surprised by how much emotions the actor had incorporated into his character (Since his role was small in Entertainer) that we could even feel how he felt. Eventually, he had to let go of Ha-na for his brother whom Ha-na loves.
Actually, I was more surprised by SHINee’s Key’s natural acting since it’s his first drama. At first, I didn’t know that it was Key but someone else who looked like him. But its’s him! He played Kim Kibum (his real name for his role as well), a wanderer. He really portrayed his character perfectly as someone who slacks often. (That’s most of us, right? HAHA) I was also surprised by his love for Jung Chae-yeon (played by I.O.I’s Jung Chae Yeon) as he is always rude to her, calling her stuck-up and not pretty. Turns out that that’s his way of hiding his long-love for her even after being rejected a big time.
He may be childish, but he is actually matured when it comes to his good friends. With his crush liking his friend, Gong-myung, who likes someone else, Kibum still comforts Gong-myung, despite being heartbroken himself, because he doesn’t want to lose his good friend.
I like this guy. Kim Dong-young (played by Kim Dong Young), after breaking up with his long-time girlfriend, is still optimistic about taking civil exams for nth time and knows things better than the other two idiots. He is so me when he notices how complicated relationships are among his friends, hah.
Aw yeah, even though his girlfriend said that it’s really over between them after Kibum intervened in his on-break relationship childishly, she still comes back to him in the end. Of course, how could one’s love die so easily?
I love how everyone is so real being themselves, even to the end. Like Jung Chae-yeon’s trademark sneer “If you came here to study, focus on your studies,” and then “If you became a government employee, do your job.” And then of course, there is Jung-suk drinking solo in high quality way. Oh wait, we can not forget someone who is always scared of his wife and in-laws, hah. It’s our poor Kim Won-hae (played by Kim Won Hae), who always wants to be out and away from home.
As for the ending, almost everyone got their clear endings – Jin-woong and Jin-yi got married, Chae-yeon finally got a job and probably giving Kibum a chance and Dong-young strives to study harder after being back together with his long-time girlfriend – except for our couple lead. And Gong-myung who is all alone.
I am not entirely sure if Jung-suk and Ha-na ever got back together after smiling at each other. At least they didn’t do it the dramatic way. I think they did, but it’s not that I cared about. I liked the way they wrapped it up slowly, nicely and almost perfectly, not entirely focused on the main leads. Which calls for a second season!
I really do like this show’s slice-of-life genre and I enjoyed the students’ the most. And the reasons they drink, which the viewers could relate to. Well, of course since this show is part of Let’s Eat franchise (I only watched first season) and the focus is on how we relieve the stress through eating/drinking.
I totally have no regrets picking this show up when I never intended to in the first place. I really do hope that they would make a second season where we get to see the better – Dong-young finally passing his exams, Kibum finally settling down to study for real, Gong-myung pursuing a new love, Jin-woong and Jin-yi as parents, Ha-na to become a respected teacher and, of course, Jung-suk to be at least nicer, following Ha-na’s example. Raise your glass!