K-Drama Review: “Chocolate” Melts Soothing Flavor Of Romance While Leaving Life Uplifting Lessons
For viewers who sustained watching the 16-episode run of Chocolate, pat yourself for a job well done
Although the languid pace and simple plot are ever present, the sweet sorcery cast by the series is honestly baffling.
Network: jTBC | Streamed on Netflix
Theme: Romance, Drama
Broadcast Date: 29 Nov 2019 – 18 Jan 2020
Main Leads: Yoon Kye Sang | Ha Ji Won
Highlights: Beautiful Screenplay, encouraging life lessons
Drawback: lethargic storytelling
Related Dramas: When the Camellia Blooms, It’s Okay That’s Love, Fantastic
Despite bringing in a few retrospective message, the drama maintained a flow that does not strike any extreme high or low emotions. That explains how even with its relatively sedentary movement, viewers would not find themselves complaining.
Quick Plot Roundup
Moon Cha Young (Ha Ji Won) and Lee Kang (Yoon Kye Sang) traces their history when they were young. Little Cha Young, who was once found by little Kang sneaking to eat some food in their restaurant’s backyard, develops a fated fondness with the boy.
When the two made a vow to meet again to eat chocolates that little Kang will prepare, they unfortunately fail to do so. Little Cha Young whose mother frustratingly puts her daughter on strict diet to accommodate the demands of audition for child actors drags her family back to Seoul.
After a month, little Cha Young visits the restaurant of little Kang and his mother, but finds it closed. She further learns the name of the kind boy who offered her yummy food and how he moves to Seoul with her mother.
Years later, they meet again. Recognizing her first love, Cha Young (Ha Ji Won) struggles to muster her strength in introducing herself. Meanwhile, Lee Kang has evolved to a cold and distant neurosurgeon with only his lawyer best friend Kwon Min Sung (Yoo Tae Oh) on his side.
Moving to his grandmother’s rich household and losing his mother, he lives a routine life and is in constant competition with his cousin Lee Jun (Jang Seung Jo).
Just when Cha Young is ready to present herself to the boy she used to like, Lee Kang was sent to Libya for a medical mission. Almost losing his life because of a deadly explosion, Kang fortunately survived giving a blissful news to his best friend Min Sung.
In a twist of fate, Min Sung who chances upon Cha Young, eventually gets smitten by her. On the day that she finally gives in to his persistent courting, she also meets Min Sung’s best friend – her first love whom she thought perished in an explosion.
Caught in an agonizing situation, she chooses to escape to Greece leaving Min Sung and Lee Kang. Later on, Lee Kang learns of his best buddy’s terminal disease on the day when he could have scored a career-defining surgery.
Living a serene life after emigrating to Greece seems not to be happening with Cha Young. Her troublemaker twin brother Moon Tae Hyun (Min Jin Woong) follows her in the country.
As soon as he arrives, he caused trouble by breaking a pricey wine bottle. To resolve the issue, Cha Young participates in a cooking contest with the wine bottle declared as a prize.
When the event host asks for willing audience to taste the dishes prepared by the contestants, Cha Young gets the surprise of her life when Lee Kang raises his hand to sample the array of food.
Dragging her back to Korea, Lee Kang reveals Min Sung’s unfortunate fate and only hopes to taste a dish from Cha Young. At the hospice where her ex-boyfriend stays, she makes friend with the resident cook suffering from Alzheimers disease.
Growing fond of the patients in the hospice, Cha Young decides to postpone her trip back to Greece. She finds herself crossing paths with Lee Kang regularly who settles to practice her profession in the hospice when her hand was implicated after a surgery to save Cha Young.
Involving themselves to the lives of the patients, Lee Kang and Cha Young eventually learns of their old childhood past. Inevitably, they embrace the love that Cha Young has waited for a long time; and Lee Kang refused initially to realize.
Beautifully written lines that were delivered with heartfelt emotions decorated the narrative of Chocolate.
The lines below pretty much summarized what the story is about.
“I don’t remember when my heart started to flutter for him. Neither do I remember when the thought of him and the memories we shared started to fill my days. I can’t remember exactly when my feelings for him started to grow.” – Cha Young | Episode 8
“Min-seong, I’m still confused and torn. But one thing I know for sure is that I’m tired doing my best to push away this woman – who walked into my life at some point and has been on my mind ever since. So I’ve decided to just follow my heart.” – Lee Kang | Episode13
Because the established setting was also in a hospice where dying patients live, truthful and harrowing messages were also highlighted. Those spirited and encouraging lines particularly crowned the moments conveyed at each patient story that was shared in the series.
Lingering Life lessons
In a way, Chocolate is like a self-help instructional video where contents featured range from forgiveness, being grateful, self-love and understanding relationship that matters.
Revealing characters who were emotionally battered, the narrative preached bravely on drawing inner strength to survive life challenges. At the same time, it left an enlightening truth how being brave does not solve everything right away.
As doctors lives were mainly depicted, I was particularly moved in the scene when the hospice’ head doctor said the line about how there should be doctors who save lives and those who can give comfort for people to die at peace.
The writer spent plenty of time gliding to picture the sentiments of the patients’ stories. Notably, ensuring to pay attention to its base love tale as well.
But taking so much time and with feeble conflicts raised, the series as a whole felt like a story that is splendid at the moment you are watching it. But it won’t leave any lingering feelings after.
It took 12 episodes for the romance to fully blossom. At that point, the family issues for Cha Young and Lee Kang are also in full swing. Inevitably, the romance plot gets awash by the last surging plot problems.
While the writing generally framed scenes that pushes one to be a bawling mess, I think it would have been nicer if the love pairing’s family issues did not drag the story. Especially on Cha Young’s end. Her character was just so pitiable.
She met her first love on a narrow and circling path. Unfortunately for her, there’s no return trip. Her life is also plagued with harrowing moments, not to mention an annoying brother who scored some late heroics that won’t just cure the pain away.
Watching Chocolate in a binge requires patience given its supine mood. I regret choosing to watch it on a spree because it took me a while to finish it.
Consistently enclosing the story to its main love pairing, the drama created momentous side stories for its supporting cast. But the soothing tone was just so tranquilizing that I remembered more of the patient stories than the angst and happy endings the main cast achieved.
Bridging strained relationships, Chocolate is a heartwarming reminder that death can be painful but the memories left by our departed loved ones help us get by.
Reminding us that life is fleeting, it wants us to be thankful of each day we get to live feeling the warmth of our loved ones.
“The day you have today is a day that someone wished to live yesterday.”
Chocolate is streamed on Netflix.