I decided that today will be the day of random decisions. That means we’ll try to do something crazy like reviewing Korean web dramas, that get some spotlight on international websites once in a blue moon. I personally view them positively simply for the fact that idols get to train their acting skills before venturing into bigger projects, plus web dramas allow actor newbies to train and get some exposure as well.
The first lab rat I’ll experiment with is a very short web drama – “A Special Meal of the Weirdo ‘Nara’ “, starring Seo Ji Hoon (Signal, Solomon’s perjury, School 2017) and a member of a K-pop group “Laboum”, Ahn Sol Bin (Solomon’s Perjury, Reunited Worlds). This little web drama has only four ~5-minute episodes, so expect some quick and easy on the eyes entertainment. This post will cover all of them in one go.
We start the episode with our female lead, Nara, going through bookshelves in the campus library. She suddenly collapses to the floor as if all strength left her. She checks her watch and it’s already lunch time, which means the girl gotta eat right now or else all hell will break loose. Nara goes to the nearest convenience store to buy lunch. The cashier, Jun from U-KISS, tries to flirt with her, but Nara ignores the poor guy.
She walks around the campus in search of a good place to eat and notices a restricted area – an old preserved library. She quietly sneaks inside and makes herself comfortable sitting at an old table and flipping through her cook book with fancy food pictures. Ok, she’s a complete foody, I love her, but the scene made me so hungry, dang it. Just as Nara’s about to enjoy her lunch, she feels someone’s presence behind the old bookshelves and decides to check it out. Next thing we know Nara wakes up in Joseon, dressed as a minister.
The king Jeongjo has prepared a fancy dinner for his loyal subjects and somehow Nara ends up being one of them. Thinking that it must be a dream, she just plays along but completely loses her marbles when they serve the tastiest beef she’s ever eaten. When the king asks them if the meat is good, Nara hilariously answers that it’s “the bomb” and king Jeongjo actually manages to interpret her answer the right way, even complimenting her for phrasing it well. The scene ends abruptly when Nara wakes up in the old library, wondering if it was all a dream. The camera focuses on a cup lying on the floor, the same cup we saw in Joseon moments ago.
End of episode 1.
The next day Nara tries to find some answers about her weird dream in history books, but it ends up a waste of time. Her earlier attempts to dream that dream again failed as well. She goes to the convenience store to buy her lunch. That’s where we meet her sunbae, Go Shi Saeng (Seo Ji Hoon), who’s being a rude ass to the cashier. The guys both seem to notice Nara, but she pays them no mind. Our girl goes back to the old library, where she completes her lunch ritual – flipping through cook books and taking pictures of her lunch for Instagram. Just as she’s about to take a bite of her tasty looking chicken, she hears the clock ticking and ends up in Joseon once again, but this time as a scholar and at a different time – in 1606th, king Seonjo’s reign.
Three other scholars usher her to take a seat at the table as their food is served by a pretty girl. The other guys go crazy over her, trying to look serious and presentable, but Nara is too busy with her freshly boiled chicken. To each his own, I guess XD. The guys plan to find some bill that caused quite a commotion in society, but Nara has her attention elsewhere. She wonders what kind of spices were used to make the chicken’s flavor so unique and finds Akane, a common spice used in Joseon. She finishes the whole chicken alone and the other can only clap, amazed by her crazy appetite.
After the meal, Nara runs into the girl that served them their meal. She acts all friendly and gives our female lead the bill other scholars were looking for. Right before the girl tries to kiss Nara, she wakes up in the present with red lipstick on her mouth, finally realizing that everything she experienced was real.
End of episode 2.
The third episode starts with Nara walking in circles in the convenience store, thinking about her weird “dreams”. She remembers that whatever she bought for lunch appeared in her “dream”, so this time she chooses gimbap as an experiment. Returning to the old library she expectantly sits at the table and ends up in Joseon in a matter of seconds. This time she’s a young maiden in 1604th, king Seonjo’s reign, looking at hair accessories at the local market. Suddenly she spots something delicious and follows the smell of food like a zombie following humans.
She’s stopped by her nanny, who instead brings her home where their calligraphy master is waiting. They give him his paper and brushes and go to prepare some food for him. Nara is happy to discover the original gimbap recipe from Joseon. The calligrapher sees her carefully making gimbap in the kitchen and sees a vision of his late mother preparing gimbap. He’s deeply shaken by the memory and quietly leaves. Meanwhile, Nara hungrily finishes her gimbap and tops it off with a bottle of rice wine. When she’s finished, she goes back to the present, satisfied that her experiment worked. One thing she doesn’t notice is a figure hiding behind the bookshelves.
End of episode 3.
The next day Nara checks her Instagram comments under the post of her Joseon gimbap that she made earlier. People are wondering what she’ll eat today and Nara decides to go for good old ramyun this time. She goes to the old library but finds a new lock on the door, so she goes in through the window and prepares her lunch. This time she wakes up in prison as water is poured on her. Her servant reassures her that some master Mong Ryong will come and save her soon. It’s the year 1610, the 2nd year of king Gwanghae’s reign. Nara is brought for questioning as the high-ranking officer calls her Chun Hyang, the daughter of ex-gisaeng Wol Mae. Nara is pretty unfazed though, recognizing the well-known story of Chun Hyang, who became the wife of a district magistrate and as such denied the status system, which at that time was considered a crime.
The officer that interrogates her is throwing a hissy fit that she dared to deny his “company” when he’s this handsome and instead married a high-ranking man. Nara doesn’t let him finish and simply answers “kol” (콜) as in OK. She says that the order should go like this – “eat first, sleep later”. I can’t with this girl, lol. The guy beams with excitement and orders the guards to release her from her restraints. Next thing we know, Nara is seated by a table filled with the most lavish dishes. She secretly takes a photo on her smartphone and eats, eats, eats… and eats some more even requesting refills.
After she’s done the officer says that it’s time for the “big event” (if you know what I mean), but Nara wakes up before that and posts yet another food picture on her Instagram. The sunbae, Go Shi Saeng, who locked the old library’s room, checks her latest post and wonders how did she get inside the library yet again. Whelp, he looks kinda creepy and it seems like he knows the secret of that room.
The end. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There’s not much that I can possibly comment on with this web drama other than the fact that it was quite random. It was interesting to revisit Joseon in different timelines and the idea of finding the old recipes of common dishes was quite alright as well. The role of Seo Ji Hoon as Go Shi Saeng was questionable. I still don’t get what the hell did he do in this web drama anyway, his character was non-existent for the most part and in the other scenes he came off looking creepy. The ending, if you can even call it that, was strange, to say the least, but with web dramas you tend to expect some craziness here and there. One thing that I was surprised by is the nice cinematography. There were some scenes that looked very pretty, thank goodness for that.