Rating: 3 out of 5.

Imagine having a friend or sibling writing a fan-fiction romance novel using your name for the protagonist, and somehow all that’s being written comes true for you too. Depending on the story, the scenario can be fun, exciting, scary, or simply creepy.

Based on the 2020 Thai series of the same name, the Korean show “Why R U,” much like the original, follows two close friends who develop feelings for guys they initially didn’t fancy. One of them becomes convinced that his sister’s novel featuring him is turning into reality. Spanning eight episodes, the show is directed by Kim Eun Hye, who also directed the office romance “Jun & Jun.” While the Thai series itself wasn’t exceptional to begin with, what resonated with many fans was the chemistry between its four leads. One of the major improvements in this Korean adaptation is that both couples receive almost equal screen time.

Lee Jun Min plays Jung Lee Won, an acting major who often clashes with Kim Ji Oh (Lee Ye Hwan) who is majoring in film direction. During one of their confrontations, the two fall over each other and Lee Won’s sister happens to pass by the scene, mistaking their interaction for a lover’s tiff. Running out of ideas for her next novel, Lee’s sister starts to write a fictional love story featuring Lee Won, Kim Ji On. The novel also romantically links Lee Won’s best friend Woo Sun Woo (Lee Sang Min) and popular senior student Ko Yoo Kyeom (Park Chang Hoon).

Since the Korean writers have made several changes to the original story, “Why R U” turns out to be interesting, even though the pacing is a bit slow. Actor Lee Jun Min, while appearing slightly older for the “short, cute, and confused” role as Jung Lee Won, still manages to portray the character with charm. Lee Ye Hwan, like his character Kim Ji Oh, initially comes across as cold and cat-like in appearance, but just as Lee Won slowly warms up to him, viewers might find themselves doing the same, even though he doesn’t seem very likable at the beginning of the series. The two are amusing together and begin to fall for each other, even though Lee Won tries his sister to stop writing about them.

The romantic subplot involving Woo Sun Woo and Ko Yoo Kyeom is less chaotic than in the Thai version, but their communication issues remain frustrating. For instance, when Yoo Kyeom suggests they date, he forgets to mention his recent breakup. Surprisingly, this news doesn’t reach Sun Woo, despite their campus rumour-mill being quite strong and Yoo Kyeom being a heartthrob of sorts. Even more oddly, Sun Woo’s supposed best friend, who is also Yoo Kyeom’s ex-girlfriend, fails to inform him of this significant development. The writers try to make these misunderstandings look comical, but they are just annoying and dumb.

For some reason, Lee Sang Min as Sun Woo reminded me of actor Im Ji Sub from the Korean campus romance “The Eighth Sense”, although as more episodes unfold, the differences between the two actors become more apparent. The chemistry between Sun Woo and Yoo Kyeom was rather lukewarm, even though Park Chang Hoon as the handsome senior looks like he was made to play romantic leads in Korean shows.

The cinematography for “Why R U” is simple, with standard well-lit shots and straightforward camera angles. Most of the plot unfolds on the college campus and there aren’t many variations in scenes or scenarios. The background music sometimes sounded unintentionally comical because the sound sometimes wouldn’t be in sync with the scene. For example, in one of the later episodes, when Lee Won and Ji Oh are having a romantic moment and a stock-like music plays in the background, which sounded like those generic audio clips you hear on YouTube vlogs.

Overall, the Korean “Why R U” has some cute moments and cuts out a lot of unnecessary comedic and pointless interactions that were there in the original version, to give viewers a more typical University themed romance.  

Rating: 6 on 10.

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