I know I gave it five stars from the first two episodes. There were six episodes left. Surely I wouldn’t be foolish enough to keep my five-star rating across all eight episodes, right? Well, you are right and wrong. Read on to find out my thoughts on the series as a whole.
—Edited by TheFNGee
I enjoy these short series because they don’t bother adding extra characters when they aren’t needed. Whether they are there for the protagonist to work through exposition instead of monologuing, or they are there to act as comic relief. I find that most of them aren’t really necessary to advance the plot. So when a series comes along with a small cast, I look forward to seeing where the narrative takes me. I can invest my time and energy into connecting with the few people we see on screen.
Let’s start with our dreamer, Song Shi On. He is a dancer whose whole life is dancing or dreaming of the dance. In the first episode, he dances at the bus stop. He is someone whose head is in the clouds. When he’s on the bus, he’s listening to a podcast about the red thread of fate and true love. He listens intently, believing in this myth because, at his core, he is a hopeless romantic who believes in fate, destiny, and true love. This belief doesn’t change as we go through the short series. I connected with him immediately. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a hopeless romantic. I believe in true love and happily ever afters. Married for 25 years to the love of my life, I believe in destiny, fate, and happy endings. Song Shi On touched my heart with his pure spirit. That didn’t change throughout the series.
On the bus, we meet Jin Hong Seok, a serious businessman. He wears his suit well, looking powerful but cold. I love a character like this. I know that deep down, this person’s icy demeanor will thaw. He’s more complex than appearances show us. When he returns the ballet slipper out the bus window to Song Shi On, we see he’s not cold-hearted as he appears. As we learn more about him throughout the series, we see subtle shifts in personality from cold to lukewarm. To tell the story concisely, they do speed up his transformation. I could buy into the character shift but felt disappointed in the lack of revealing his backstory. The left me with unanswered questions about what led him to be a debt collector, how he learned to play piano so well, and mostly, why was he closed off emotionally?
We have two obstacle characters, one with more depth than the other.
Jin Hong Seok works for the Cha Cha Group, helmed by the beautiful Cha Soo Ryeon. She wants her employee, Hong Seok , to continue working for her. Personally, she also wants him to be her lover, and she’s not above manipulation to get what she wants. She wields power like a slightly-shady debt collector CEO. She does have a transformation of character, albeit a subtle one.
Lee Jung Hoon appears to be a kind older brother figure to Song Shi On. He is Song Shi On’s senior who helps him with his dance moves for the upcoming tryouts for a lead role. However, appearances can be deceiving. Lee Hong Seok quickly proves he is a double-headed snake in the grass. He smiles and advises while finding flaws with Song Shi On’s performance. He is jealous, insecure and finds ways to belittle Song Shi On in an underhanded way that Song Shi On doesn’t appear to notice. This character has no movement or growth. Nada. I understand limited screen time. However, he could use some fleshing out as a villain.
Lastly, we have Jin Hong Seok’s subordinate/partner Mr. Kim. I love the description in my drama list for him. Mr. Kim [Loan shark for Chachacha Capital] It fits him. He wears a polyester leisure suit with an open collar, looking like a typical Yakuza or loan shark. His appearance is a stark contrast to Jin Hong Seok’s businessman attire. It turns out he’s a loan shark with a heart, however. He’s more than a one-dimensional character.
Overall, the story is simple. A dreamy dancer owes money, so a debt collector follows him around to make sure the dancer pays his debt. From the first episode, the dancer won my heart. Also, from the time he raised his pinky, I knew the stuffy businessman had a tender heart. So how would the two fall for each other? And what obstacles would they overcome, or would their different worlds separate them forever?
If you’ve read my first review, you know my first impression was a favorable one. There is a lot packed into two bite-size segments of the show. I gave it a five-star rating because I fell for the two characters. I connected with each of them and rooted for them to fall in love and conquer their obstacles. So how do the rest of the episodes compare?
I enjoyed each episode so much that I would watch when VIKI only had 5% subs in English completed. I wanted to know what would happen next. As Jin Hong Seok secretly signs the dreamer’s debt as the guarantor, I knew this could end badly for Jin Hong Seok – his boss is strict in her rules. He is not supposed to get personally involved in the client’s business. This debt is also his last one to collect before she lets him quit his job. It isn’t like the States, where you can submit your resignation, and they will accept it. Jin Hong Seok is involved in a barely legal business with its own set of rules.
Jin Hong Seok moves in with Song Shi On. On the surface, it’s to make sure that the Song Shi On is serious and committed to landing the role as the lead in the production, which will allow him to pay off his debt to Cha Cha Group. But we also learn he is lonely, living in an office space at his company with no friends or family. As they get to know each other, they both begin to realize their feelings. They each offer the other something that has been missing from their lives.
For Song Shi On, once his mother left, he had no one to care about him. We find out he took out a loan for his mother to start a new life with her new husband in Switzerland. However, once she is there, she no longer responds to his messages. His birthday was her new anniversary, and she didn’t even remember or congratulate him. He was alone to fight for his hopes and dreams
until Jin Hong Seok appears when Song Shi On is at his lowest point. His mother had forgotten his birthday. His barre had broken and he thought this man was trying to collect his debt. Frustration and tears caused him to lash out at Jin Hong Seok. Then Jin Hong Seok slowly brings up the cake box he was holding and wishes Song Shi On a happy birthday. Someone remembered. Someone came to celebrate with him. He wasn’t alone.
When Jin Hong Seok comes into his life, someone cooks for him, knowing his eating habits. Someone drives him to work, and someone listens to him talk about his dreams. And for Jin Hong Seok, someone makes him feel alive again. He remembers how to smile. He cries, his emotions come back to him. He, too, has someone to care for, someone to cook for, and someone who calls the apartment their home.
While Song Shi On practices one day, Jin Hong Seok uses red string to repair the practice bar. This aspect ties in so beautifully with the story of the red thread of fate. He has used the red thread to mend the bar; thus, he can help Song Shi On keep dancing and dreaming.
Conflict, of course, was generated by two sides. On Shi On’s side, we have the rival dancer who pretends to be a good older brother figure. Lee Jong Hoon is easy to dislike from the first episode – you can easily spot his jealousy. He doesn’t develop from there but takes every opportunity to sabotage Shi On while smiling to his face. This wasted opportunity is my one major fault in the plot.
In Episode 5, we see and understand that Song Shi On may not have much, but he has his pride. He won’t accept more money from Jin Hong Seok. So after a heated argument, they come to a compromise. Since they are on the same team, if Song Shi On continues to practice, Jin Hong Seok will take his place and model.
When Hong Seok arrives at the modeling job, he overhears Lee Jong Hoon talking to the photographer who owes him a favor. He asked the director to work him so hard that Shi On would be too sore for dancing afterward. This plan angers Hong Seok. He models, and it IS hard grueling work. But in the end, he pulls his top off, gives the photographer a sexy smile, and they love him. Returning home, he is sore, so Song Shi On gives him a massage & shares the bed with him. This scene is a pivotal moment. A promise is asked when Shi On tells Hong Seok that if he wants repayment for the debt, the thread that ties the bar better not unravel for the rest of his life. Hong Seok promises that he will provide service on it for the rest of his life. A pinky promise is made; they are thinking of their future.
Back to Lee Jong Hoon, he argues with Shi On, who finally reminds him it’s better to practice instead of teasing his juniors. Jong Hoon shoves Shi On away, and we hear a terrible creaking sound as Shi On collapses on the floor. Later, when he is with Hong Seok, he starts to walk away with a limp, which prompts a query of what happened to him. Then Hong Seok drags Lee Jong Hoon onto the roof and threatens him. But he’s stopped by Shi On. He smirks as he brushes past Shi On. There is no resolution to this bullying behavior. When he hurts Song Shi On, I am furious; I wish for retribution, but no, Song Shi On even stops Jin Hong Seok from beating up this asshole, Jong Hoon.
It’s the one plot thread that bothered me; there is no consequence to Lee Jong Hoon’s actions. After that scene, it’s like he disappeared from the narrative. I realize the show is only eight episodes long, but I wished for a resolution or a dance-off.
As they get closer, Shi On finally realizes this is the same man from the bus. The one that also looked for his fated one whose little finger would match them together with the invisible string. He wants to learn more about him, so he asks to see the office where Hong Seok lives. As they sit in the office, they listen to the star podcast, which talks about first kisses. Shi On then kisses Hong Seok gently; then, he bravely declares that he likes Hong Seok. It is brave and bold. When there is no response, he turns to go, but Hong Seok’s control breaks, and he grabs Shi On for a passionate kiss. One that he regrets and apologizes for, putting distance between them immediately. A creditor can’t have feelings for his debtor.
So Shi On decides to work hard to win the competition so they can begin again. And he does. But meanwhile, Hong Seok’s boss decides to punish him for falling in love. She threatens to take away Shi On’s apartment to recover its deposit as repayment. He begs and agrees to do anything to keep Shi On from being homeless. She gives him the papers to open a Vietnam branch of their group. He will go far away. But he agrees because he’s in love.
The competition day arrives, and Shi On walks in with confidence telling Hong Seok to stay where he is. When he comes back, it is in victory; he lands the lead role. As they celebrate with a romantic dinner at home with a cake that reads, I Love You, all the walls surrounding their hearts are gone. Shi On shows his dance to Hong Seok while the song tells their love story; it’s beautiful. At the end of the dance, he offers up his heart and holds out his hand for Hong Seok. He takes the hand offered, and they move the action to the bedroom. There is a scene with them side by side on the pillow holding hands, and they kiss. This kiss is one of equals. No one person is leading but two people who love each other sharing their love through physical expression.
Of course, Hong Seok packs up and leaves the next day, telling Shi On their night doesn’t mean anything – it was over. We know he is supposed to open a company branch in Vietnam. As they are driving to the airport, the boss turns on the podcast, which at that moment has the story of Shi On, who tells that the thread has come unraveled and there is someone who made a promise always to repair it. Of course, he can’t leave then, so Hong Seok leaves the car and runs to his love. His choice is made. He chooses Love. As Shi On stands there, the thread about to slip from his fingers, you see his confidence waiver. But Hong Seok’s hand closes over his, and they are once again tied by the red thread of fate that brought love into their lives.
Great story, even told in 8 episodes. There were a few dangling threads, which bother me. The absence of Lee Jong Hoon and no resolution to his part in the story confounded me. Why not take a few minutes and show them dancing off or show Shi On coming out triumphant with a waiting Lee Jong Hoon? This dangling thread, plus the lack of backstory for Jin Hong Seok, lead me to slightly lower the overall rating I gave it initially. I want to know where he learned to play the piano. I want to understand why he became a debt collector. But those questions remain unanswered.
I’m sure not many will agree with me. But for me, the beautiful weaving of the red thread of fate story, along with a Cinderella tale with two unlikely characters, worked. I believed and invested emotionally in their love story. And they get a happily ever after. So while you may disagree, I’m pleased to give it a high rating.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]