Warning: This article will contain spoilers.
I don’t believe that I have finished any other Korean drama (k-drama) until recently. Usually, I can only last three episodes, especially with how long they can be. For me, Our Beloved Summer was different, not just because of its origins, but because of its storyline.
Romance k-dramas are a hit or miss for me. I have to be intrigued by the plotline. Now, I cannot do any thrillers, so there have been romance k-dramas that can be interesting because they are mixed with other genres. It’s just that I would rather not watch anything that keeps me up at night. I love the romcoms, but they can be a little over the top. Overall, romance k-dramas seem like they recycle many elements in a way that I cannot find anything new in them. For instance, I do not gasp in anticipation of what happens with an elder that disapproves of the main couple’s relationship. We all know they usually get together, and it might take a car accident for the elder to cave in. Or the love triangles. The main character is probably going to end up in a relationship that is a little less healthy even though the second love interest was growing on us a little. But I love Our Beloved Summer because everything I know about romance is overturned, and it is refreshing.
Our Beloved Summer started as a webtoon before adapting into the Netflix k-drama. Recently, many other webtoons have been adapted or are being adapted into live-action dramas. Our Beloved Summer, created by Han Kyoung Chal and original work from Lee Naeun, is a story about Yeonsu Guk, the highest-ranking student at school, and Wung Choi, the lowest-ranking student at school, being interviewed for a document series. During this time, you come to see these characters as more than just their rankings at school. Yeonsu is not just a studious, hard-working student. She is practical, but she can be a little mischievous the more you get to know her. Meanwhile, Wung has a much more complex background, but he is not just your average unmotivated student or the average rich kid because he does come from a decent financial background.
There will always be a difference between the book and the film or show that adapts it. With Our Beloved Summer, there is a difference. The webtoon starts with Yeonsu, Wung, and other characters while they are in high school. It ends as they reach college. The k-drama is different. Unlike many other adaptions that just re-tell the story, the k-drama begins years after the webtoon ends. The premise of the show is that it is a continuation of the story between the two characters now that they have graduated college and have jobs. Their documentary that they filmed back in high school has now gone viral again, and they have to reunite after a hard-hitting breakup.
This is different than k-dramas where the couple keeps breaking up over frustrating misunderstandings. There are some misunderstandings in this k-drama, but it is related to some of the challenges each character faces. We see how the background of the story in the webtoon impacts the way they eventually behave when they are adults. Within the show, we do get snippets of the backstory, which coincide with scenes of their actions in the future.
Love is so complicated in this story. It shows that the characters cannot be in a relationship until they each grow up and learn how to communicate. In a stereotypical romance drama, it can feel like the miscommunication is not properly acknowledged. However, in Our Beloved Summer, the characters can be seen actively talking about the issues they have, and I love how healthy it is. I love how they are supporting each other’s growth. Yeonsu is pushing Wung to pursue the things he only passively considered in the past. She motivates him to be better. Wung teaches Yeonsu how to relax and be vulnerable with the people around her. He reminds her that she is not alone. It is a beautiful look at coming of age.
If you can, I would definitely read the webtoon now only because it becomes a daily pass on May 26th! Once it becomes a daily pass, you will have unlimited access to only a number of certain chapters and then the rest, you have to wait each day for a pass to read the next chapter.
Otherwise, I have no problem with people starting with the k-drama first. I ended up finishing the k-drama first because the webtoon did not finish until a little after the show did on Netflix. The k-drama provides background as the story progresses with flashback scenes. However, I do believe there is a reason why webtoon released the English translation onto their site as the Netflix show progresses. The webtoon itself provides more in-depth stories of their past. You realize how much more complex each person is, and it makes you see how we all have a piece in the puzzle to tell.
This is a great show, and I am glad I was able to get through each hour-long episode, knowing my short attention span. I love the characters and how each person continues to grow as adults. There is something nostaligic about how they portray the characters as high schoolers, too. I love the comedic scenes. I love how characters are never bad, just complex. Therefore, if you have the time, this is worth the time.