Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

It took some of us four episode to finally understand what exactly was going on in Korean series ‘Happy Ending Romance’, until then, viewers are made to guess the dynamics between the characters. “Is this guy good or bad? Does he have evil intentions? Is he benevolent? Is he overbearing? Who is sadder? What is the problem? Why is it such a big problem? Why is it even a problem?”! Too many questions for a show whose title misleads you into believing it’s a sweet romantic offering.

Directed by Seong Do Joon, the eight episode series stars Park Hyun Chul as lead Cha Jung Woo, a brilliant writer who is shunned by the publishing world after he speaks out against some corrupt seniors. Socially isolated, he begins to live an anonymous life with his partner Kim Jung Hyun (Jung Taek Woon), who is a best-selling author. Their equation is disrupted when an enthusiastic independent publisher called Han Tae Young (Ha Jong Woo) expresses interest in getting Cha Jung Woo to write again, as Kim Jung Hyun is against such a move.

There is little romance and a lot of sulking. Ha Jong Woo as Han Tae Young is the only ray of sunshine in this gloomy story, he lights up the screen with his charming smile. The other actors do justice to their roles too, but their characters are written in a bland manner, making them way more serious than necessary. The chemistry between the leads is lukewarm, their relationship progression is sweet but not believable.

The portrayal of the publishing industry is bizarre and toxic; but if that’s how things work in Korea, then it’s even more worrisome. Despite eight episodes of 30 minutes each, the makers don’t give a solid background build-up to how Cha Jung Woo became a social pariah. Everybody keeps making a big deal out of his downfall in every episode, so the fact that viewers never get a proper ‘flashback story’ is extremely annoying. It feels like they are making a mountain out of a molehill. If ‘Happy Ending Romance’ were a December dessert, I’d say someone forgot to add sugar to it. A disappointing series with a great looking cast.

It’s a 5/10 from me.

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