Remember me whining about how I had to see an entirely new romantic web-series to cleanse the disappointment of watching the Ben Affleck starrer ‘Deep Water’? It was the 2022 Korean mini-series ‘Blueming’, it was engaging enough to binge-watch all 11 episodes (each only 12 minutes long though) in one go.
Directed by Hwang Da Seul, ‘Blueming’ follows the story of Si Won (Kang Eun Bin), a handsome boy who feels self-assured of being the most popular kid in class on the first day of college, but when a good-looking Da Un (Jo Hyuk Joon) turns up on campus next day, Si Won feels threatened. As the two spend more time together for class projects, an unlikely romance brews.
I like how the first episode starts on a candidly honest note – the protagonist Si Won admits good-looks are extremely important for Korean people and that he is popular because of his looks and fit physique. His mother ensures Si Won and his sister eat healthy and drink protein shakes instead of cola. It’s both sad and amusing. Anybody who is familiar with the world of K-pop would know also that South-Korea has the highest number of cosmetic procedures per capita in the world. And this need to look perfect is oftentimes internal and not necessarily driven by peer pressure.
Kang Eun Bin is goofy and cute as the insecure Si Won, who used to be a fat kid, so even though he is fit and handsome now, he suffers from an unhealthy need to please everyone and be popular. Jo Hyuk Joon was a little awkward as the reclusive rich kid Da Un, but since it also seems a trait of the character, he blends in just fine. The straight-forward friends-to-lovers transition between the two characters was the highlight of the show. Sure, we all love some drama and grandstanding when it comes to romance. But the simple charm of a direct heart-to-heart in this story works brilliantly. The characters just talk things out every time they face a problem and it was so refreshing to watch a realistic take on modern relationships. On the flip-side, the makers erase the complications that come with being a gay couple in the conservative South-Korea, but hey, I am not going to complain about a smooth sweet romantic show okay!
The lead pair is treated like a regular couple, so the focus is on themes of self-worth, peer-pressures, family ties and loneliness. The cinematography is simple, it does take artistic turns for some scenes, playing with lights and giving viewers some very memorable moments. A sub-plot about Si Won making a film about being an outcast as a child helps carry the series forward. The conflict towards the end felt like de-ja-vu from a 100 other series, but the resolution was drama-free and sweet.
Kang Eun Bin and Jo Hyuk Joon make a great looking onscreen couple and the blooming romance between them is a good distraction from life’s other things.
It’s a 8/10 from me.
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