Review

K-Drama Review: “Backstreet Rookie” Reminds That No Dream & Love Are Impossible To Claim If You Put Your Heart To It

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Chasing love and dreams has been the driving motivation of Backstreet Rookie!

Backstreet Rookie may not be the brightest bulb in the yardstick set for rom-com favorites, but it does not mean it is less special. Kim Yoo Jung and Ji Chang Wook make it easy to forgive its shallow plot and circling conflict.

backstreet rookie

Title: Backstreet Rookie
Network: SBS
Themes: Romance | Comedy
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date: 19 June 2020 – 8 Aug 2020
Main Leads: Ji Chang Wook | Kim Yoo Jung | Han Sun Hwa |Kim Min Gyu |
Highlights: Humor Kicks | Slow But Hard not to Root for Romance Story | Music
Overall Rating:
Rewatch Value:

backstreet rookie


Quick Plot Roundup

Remaining grounded and focused to her not so fortunate life, Jung Saet Byul (Kim Yoo Jung) has simple dreams. Those are to take care of her sister and claim her long-time crush. Both appear to not going on her way. The only bright things in her life are her trusted sister friends and celebrity male friend.

But fate favors the diligent, her affection towards the convenience store manager she likes saw a ray of hope.

Choi Dae Hyun (Ji Chang Wook), Saet Byul’s store manager has been dating a woman without the knowledge of her affluent family. Often times, his girlfriend Yeon Joo sets the direction of their relationship. His big love though finally breaks because the wealth disparity of their families came into picture.

Choosing to be filial and sticking to his upright beliefs, he finally emancipated himself from a relationship which saw him as the side who loves more.

From being a mentor to Saet Byul in her middle school days, their work relationship progressed to romance. Both of them sails to love by feeling the moment, and disregarding unwanted worries. Both of them were blessed with each other’s affection and encouragement.


Highlights & Drawbacks

Supporting Saet Byul to her love goal, while restoring her faith to chase after her own dreams, has been the persistent invisible bond that binds Backstreet Rookie to its viewers. There’s nothing grand nor special about the storytelling. In fact, the placement of scattered humor kicks made it possible for the series to survive its poorly crafted plot.

The friendship of Saet Byul and her friends along with the sprinkled life pep talks had at least left impressions to atone for its run-of-the-mill narrative. On the bright side, the songs layered in the poignant scenes of the story were on point, especially the theme music for the male and female leads.

Character-wise the synergy between the main characters are evident. Both have established individual shining moments that speak about self-worth and being genuine.

The blessing and crux of Backstreet Rookie

Saet Byul, though physically strong, struggles with her emotional and mental fortitude. Being a high school drop out, when Dae Hyun finally reciprocated her love, she hesitated thinking she does not deserve him. Her inhibition amplified with Dae Hyun’s mom’s constant verbal woes of wanting the best for her son. By best, meaning getting back with his rich ex-girlfriend.

That piercing reality almost hindered the confidence she gained through Dae Hyun’s encouragement to work on getting her GED, and aspiring to work harder as a store manager.

Dae Hyun, for his part is truly not the kind of person we can learn from when it comes to love. We waited for a few episodes for him to see through his ex-gf’s half-hearted love. When he finally did, because it involved hurting his parents, he suddenly became a man of firm resolve. Something that he has been lacking in the first half of the series.

Both of the main leads have not the best decisions when it comes to how they handle love. Albeit their love being pure, it is the kind that hurts them in the process. Good thing that Dae Hyun finally realized the love he deserved, and Saet Byul also learned to love herself more.


Series Afterthoughts

Backstreet Rookie paraded scattered enjoyment, but failed to present consistent sound narrative. Its best part is that it was anchored by Ji Chang Wook and Kim Yoo Jung. However, its merits are easily overshadowed by the nagging indecisiveness of the hero to confront his emotions.

Almost everything is predictable in Backstreet Rookie, that for the most part, only the love for the actors had pushed me into watching it weekly. And well, because I promised my still Healer-love-struck self that I will do it for Ji Chang Wook.

We lost count how many times we hoped for Yeon Joo to jump into wrong conclusion – to pave a way for her relationship with Dae Hyun to fail. That’s because the love loop the hero was stuck on really reached a point that it was hard to tolerate it longer.

The apparent comical moments prevented the narrative to become dry, but the lackadaisical love conflict easily makes the viewer turn his back on it.

Concluding on a clear display of happy ending for the cast members is what we expect for the series to close to. After all, we survived the noticeable creative and technical lapses.

As a fan, my plan to bask in amusing rom-com story was not able to keep up with the plot changes in Backstreet Rookie. *chuckles 

If you are up for a light story and a fan of its lead stars, then go for it. But keep in mind that it’s not something that would keep you smile consistently and big time.


Photos: SBS