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Backstreet Rookie: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread

Backstreet Rookie is here, and it’s every bit as colorful as advertised. After some quick background, the story of our store owner hero and his feisty part-timer goes into full swing, and it’s rife with misunderstandings, manipulation, and a distinct manhwa feel.

 
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP

Before we dig into the premiere week episodes, let’s say hello to the elephant in the room, shall we? Yes, our leading actors have a pretty big age gap between them. Some (most) people react really adversely to this; others don’t. Feel your feelings, everyone, but if you’re game, let’s see where this story takes us. As long as it’s not to a cryogenic sleep pod, I think we’ll be okay?

Our drama starts out with a bit of prologue, setting up our characters when they first meet three years in the past. It’s short and to the point — we learn everything we need to know about our leads. There’s CHOI DAE-HYUN (Ji Chang-wook), who saves kittens from sewers, and though a bit dopey, surely doesn’t deserve the cruel dumping he gets from his girlfriend (yay, Jung Eun-ji killing her cameo!).

Flip the coin, and we’ve got our heroine, JUNG SAET-BYUL (Kim Yoo-jung) who lives by the credo, “A real woman speaks with her fist.” She’s a high school iljin, an expert fighter, and is already using her sex appeal to get what she wants out of people. And in this case, that’s poor Dae-hyun. Poor dude doesn’t know what hit him when they cross paths by chance, and you can literally see him losing his brains as she mixes coyness and aggressiveness to manipulate him. The takeaway? She’s nobody’s fool, and he’s a bit of a fool.

Our leads meet again three years later, when Dae-hyun hires Saet-byul as a part-timer at his family’s 24-hour convenience store. I say “hires,” but it’s more like she hires herself, and then he goes along with it. The build up to the hiring is pretty great — Dae-hyun is working at the store literally non-stop, and there’s an on screen clock ticking away as we watch him struggle to stay conscious and cognizant of his surroundings. Ji Chang-wook does this so well; it’s hilarious, but you can also feel the pain of his sleep deprivation. So, when Saet-byul charges in and applies for the job, you can see why our hero is blindsided.

This interaction is just the start to their power struggle, and our first episode is mostly concerned with the crazy that occurs after she’s hired. Goofball though he is, it’s easy to see why Dae-hyun would suspect his new part-timer of stealing cash (the 50,000 won section of the cash register is emptied and she has a back pocket full of cash), then all the cigarettes (she’s emptied the entire display to “organize”), and then become convinced she’s a fraud when the address on her application is actually that of a prostitution ring. They set the misunderstandings to rights rather fast, and while suspicion still plays a role, the major question is why Saet-byul is there. Clearly she’s laid some plans.

In Episode 2, their entanglement only gets more so — Saet-byul’s drunk iljin friends admit she’s working there because of him (and it’s obvious to us that she’s been mooning over him since they first met), and Saet-byul might be joking about seducing him, but we know she’s not. “Say sorry to your girlfriend for me,” she quips.

Their dynamic is pretty funny, with Dae-hyun trying to be daunting and in control, but losing his nerve whenever they’re together. I like the blurriness of whether he is falling for her charms, or falling under her spell, and it looks like the power dynamics of their relationship will be the fuel for the rest of our plot (with a sprinkling of problematic friends and an angry girlfriend).

Outside of the romance angle, though, there’s also the concept of Saet-byul being the one that carries out the store owner justice that Dae-hyun is unable to follow through on (example: Jun of the illegal cigarette purchases). I like the idea of a smart and street-savvy Saet-byul protecting the goofball she loves, and this could turn out to be the best part of their interactions for me.

With our plot and characters introduced, we definitely have to talk about form, because Backstreet Rookie leads with its style. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a webtoon adaptation that’s felt so much like an actual webtoon. The way shots are framed, the on screen text and embellishments, and even the crazy CGI during Saet-byul’s fight scenes (and her hilarious Super Saiyan moments) — all these things added to the feeling of watching a moving manhwa, so to speak.

Between this and the comedy, Backstreet Rookie is definitely a drama you have to be in the right mood for — while some of the comedy was really great (when Ji Chang-wook is funny, he’s funny), some of it felt a little forced. However, I’m hoping the drama evens out a little as it progresses.

While the webtoon feel I can get behind, Backstreet Rookie also seems to be hanging on to its source material a bit more than expected. Long story short, it’s got this subtle raunchiness to it that actually surprised me. I expected a cute, sassy PG story… but what we’re getting feels more like a watered down version of the adult story it’s adapted from. From suggestive comments, to Dae-hyun’s friend’s orgasmic drawing session (eww!), to the way the camera looks at Saet-byul’s body — I’m honestly not so used to seeing these things in dramaland.

That being said, a drama’s first week is only the first week, and if there’s anything I’m coming away with after our premiere, it’s that Backstreet Rookie knows its flavor, and it’s not afraid to use it. There’s something to be said for that, and we’ll have to see where we go from here.

I actually like the drama’s premise, and I really like the setting of the store (it’s such a great little microcosm for a story to take place) — in fact, the store and the surrounding “streets” look so much like a set that it only amps up that moving manhwa feeling I talked about earlier.

Also, I can’t not say how drop-dead gorgeous Kim Yoo-jung is. This isn’t a role I might have chosen for her if I was her agent, but she is so confident and in-charge playing Saet-byul that I almost feel like I’m under the same spell she’s putting on Dae-hyun.

We’ll dig more into the characters and developing plot next week, but in the meantime, as we chat about this drama, let’s remember that while we might have different opinions and takes on this story and the many issues that are attached to it — we can all still be friends at the end of the day. After all, there’s enough expired kimbap at Dae-hyun’s store for everyone.

 
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The age gap does not bother me really. If I had not read how much of a big deal it is, I would not have even paid any attention to it. She played even younger romantic interest for an older guy in a prev drama. And hello - Goblin? Anyways, to me age gap is not a turn-off.

I have not read the source material so, even that does not influence me.

Coming to this drama, completely objective, with no background, I can truly say, first two episodes were boring to me.

I enjoyed the Manhwa feel to the drama, actors are doing fine too. But the script just does not feel interesting at all. I am not able to understand what needs to hook me to these characters. Right now, it is all campy.

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For the billionth time for all the fans bringing up goblin, it was also widely criticized for potraying romance between characters with significant age gap.
And the problem here in BSR is that the female lead is being objectified, which was not the case with goblin.
So stop bringing up goblin to try to justify pedophilia

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And stop bringing up pedophilia in a discussion about a 20 year old woman's drama role. WTF?! I lived overseas on my own, paid rent, and had a job at that age!

What 20 year old would not find this entire conversation incredibly infantilizing? She's an adult!

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Normal 20 year olds who go to college and live with their parents. Normal people.

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You think a "normal person" is someone in college living with their parents at 20? In what country?

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Uhm...any 20 year olds can live with their parents but to "want" to live with their parents is not normal. You're an adult and should want independence by then :))

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to the question of which country does a 'normal person' who is in college still lives with their parents at 20, i can answer that. Malaysia. where i'm from. quite a number of us live at home until we enter the workforce or get married.

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'Pedophilia'? Apparently you don't know the meaning of the word.

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For arguements sake, I will put aside everything that was wrong, morally questionable and that has been carefully not mentioned here in this recap. What exactly is the plot? It seems paper thin at the moment, the actual base plot and whatever story this drama wants to tell. There are shining moments. I think Kim Yoo Jung particularly shines when she grounds her character to give insight into her life. And she is gorgeous. I get that she wants to break away from her image and I guess that is fair. But no, in broader sense not sure why she or Ji Chang Wook picked up this script.

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People who are watching this drama won't be watching it for the plot. There is a reason why 365 days is trending no. 1 worldwide in Netflix. Smut based stories always have an audience.

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365 Days is soft porn...that is a low low bar.

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This is PG-13 version of soft porn. No plot and a lot implied sexual innuendoes.

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Are you lost baby could sum up this entire drama. Gross.

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I am hollering in laughter . Spot on !

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I have a huge problem with the way the actress views this drama. I read her interview and she said the first episode was so funny she couldn't put down the script and laughed in every single scene. The first episode was anything but that. The director who calls this a family drama is just as problematic. The clothes they make her wear leave little to the imagination and are also inappropriate for the setting. The make up is too thick and does the inverse of making her look younger. The age gap is too obvious she looks like his niece in every scene especially the kiss scene which was pointless and unnecessary. In fact any kiss scene between them I don't want to see even in the future.

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Haha. Are we talking about the same drama? Or are you making these up as a hater? Her clothes are fine. So is her makeup.

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Agreed her clothes are hardly scandalous. I get the whole it's impractical to wear heels for work etc but we've had female police officers wearing heels so we all know kdrama is about the aesthetics.

The only reason why people seem up in arms about the dress she wore is because she has curves. I've been to Korea and definitely seen girls wearing miniskirts as it's generally short skirts but no cleavage in terms of showing skin there. I generally hate the whole double standard of a petite and skinny women getting away with wearing tight or low cut tops but if a curvier woman wears a similar outfit it's too provocative or revealing.

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I've just watched the first two episodes. The comments are INSANE. She wears clothes. She kisses a guy in a situation where she's crossing a line and he does absolutely nothing to encourage her. Three years of no contact later, she pursues him.

I don't know what's fueling all of these bonkers comments about her being too young and exploited, but they're not rooted in reality. Wow.

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I agree, not really getting all the heavy-handed judgments about this show. It's a light and fluffy live-action cartoon. It's got a sassy heroine and a goofy hero. It has the sort of slapstick broad humor that feel very Korean to me, and as usual with shows like this I got some of the humor and really didn't get other bits.

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My theory is that they are coming from people who have not actually watched the show and instead have simply read a (possibly misleading) description of the show or (even more likely) a description of the Manwha that it is drawn from. They are also not familiar with Kim Yoo-jung, the veteran actress who plays the female lead.

Skelly is right- it is a light and fluffy CARTOON. Miranda is right- it is the young girl who crossed the line, not the older guy- who definitely did nothing to take advantage of her: If anything his response was an absolutely exemplary refusal to do so.

Inxomnia is correct in noting the huge double standard being applied to the actress simply because she has curves.

I have huge respect for Kim Yoo-jung for having taken on this role. In these tough times we need actors and actresses who are willing to do shows that are lighthearted and slapsticky.

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You mean her school uniform? or her sweater shirt and skirt? or her convenience store uniform? How are those outfits scandalous and leave "little to the imagination"? This is not the 1920s, and she's 22 years old for god's sake get out from under that rock you're under.

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I kind of want to watch this just because of the extreme reaction it seems to get from some people...but it’s not on any of my streaming services and I’m not sure I’m interested enough to seek it out.

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It's only streaming on iQIYI https://www.iq.com/play/19rrhm35it

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Yeah I thought that might be the case. I don’t really need *another* service 😅

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Anyone else feeling "bait & switch" from Kocowa?...this is the 2nd recent drama from the "Big 3" that should be streaming on Kocowa, but isn't.

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I'm hoping I don't get commercials or have to pay for it. They might as well just have one big streaming...Oh wait that was Dramafever, but they took that away. Viki is okay, but it takes a minute for subs, which is fine. Netflix tends to butcher the language and for those of us who can understand some Korean we can tell. I just want one legal site!

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No the comedy is not something you need to be in the mood for. It is offensive in every mood. It isn't oddball, wacky or cartoonish it is straight up offensive. JCW is not funny when he is funny because the context is not funny to begin with. This drama did not need to exist in any parallel universe.

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Preach.

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this show isn't comedy it's a witchhunt to make black people seem ugly and dirty.

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the writer just ignored that second massive elephant in the room, very disappointed.

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Wait where is this coming from

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The “Rastafarian” character, his scene starts off with him taking a shower. But when he gets out the shower, his (ridiculous wig) dreadlocks have animated flies flying around it to signify that people with dreads are dirty and that they don’t wash their hair. Rastafarian is a religion, so anyone can be it regardless of race. They could’ve used this scene to respect the religion but they made a mockery of it. It’s not funny at all. Also the black community predominantly has dread locks. They also darkened his makeup. It’s pretty messed up. It led me to be turned off by the drama all together

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I don't agree; a guy riding a bike passed me on the bike trail yesterday. He was Caucasian & had waist-length matted dreds. Having once spent 3 weeks getting lice out of a young relative's long (very straight) hair (medicine, tree tea oil, etc. didn't work) by nit picking, I cringed at the thought of this person ever getting lice. That aside, isn't this drama a comedy? Can we not laugh at ourselves and each other and just have fun?

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Thank you because I was just scrolling to see if anybody/somebody would be brave enough to bring up the blatant anti-black racism and blackface rampant throughout the the two episodes complete with the oldest racist analogies disguised as "humor" in the book.

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African hair in its natural state (4a ,b c , d)is not conducive for lice to live in . The hair shaft is circular and coily and wooly making it hard for eggs to penetrate the scalp. The hair shaft has to be straight like 1 A for a conducive environment for lice to live. So a Caucasian with dreads does not count because their hair will always come out straight (1a ) from the scalp .

If you found the Rastafarian scene funny- you need to do some deep introspection for internalised racism and anti blackness.

Here is an article about hair and lice https://freshheadsliceremoval.com/african-americans-get-head-lice-2/

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huge lie ,went to boarding school in africa and lived in a crowded dorm ,everyone had lice at some point in time .one way to get rid of it was to get a perm ,the chemicals in the relaxer killed of all the lice and the eggs.
2. lice do not fly, are very tiny and barely visible to the naked eye. those were more like big flies buzzing around mr dreadlocks head not lice.
pls stop peddling falsities.what on earth .

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Um this is brown face not blackface y’all really need to tell the difference. The skin color they darken him to is same color of Cambodians. It’s still racist because Koreans think they’re superior than sea(south East Asian) countries. His character is not suppose to be black I don’t know where y’all got that from. It’s more like a Asian who likes reggae, borderline culture appropriation. Its similar to those Koreans who try to copy hip hop culture which is cringe itself. *cultural appropriation.* The fly thing in hair idk about that. I too also wonder how people who are not black able to wash their hair??.. I always thought Asians, whites with dreads or braids hair must be dirty. They have to wash their hair everyday whites and Asians or it get greasy.

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Just came to say that the name Saet Byul--which isn't a common name, imo-- still brings back (not so great memories) of "God's Gift - 14 Days" because it was also the name of the little girl in that drama DX

Other than that, yea-- not following/not watching this one... Nor am I following/watching ANY Korean drama atm

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Right there with you...I had read awful comments on other sites about this drama.
I was telling a friend what was on my Watchlist (Viki) at the moment and - oh, wait, there aren't any Korean dramas on this list. Chinese, Japanese, Taiwan yes, but nothing Korean - atm.

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It was good at the time that it came out and we were all live-watching it because it was a lesser explored genre for Kdramas—a suspense thriller— and not the regular candy/romcom stuff that is so saturated and campy now; Ot actually isn’t a “bad” drama overall, even, but the ENDING was just so horrible that it ruined the entire show for a lot of us... You may still want to watch it—and kudos to you if you do so one day— I’d just advise that you skip the finale episode, then you’ll be fine 😅😅👌🏻👌🏻

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The ending is a happy one what are you talking about xDDD

And i agree about Saet-byul, I'm always reminded of that girl everytime that name come up :')

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The very last 5 minutes of it were a happy ending, but to get to the happy ending was really messed up imo 😅😅

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I find KYJ’s character, a highschool student kissing a random grown man very disturbing.

This one is a NO for me.

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Yes, but she was 19. She wasn't a minor. No, she shouldn't be kissing random people, but she wasn't somebody to look up to.

But understandable :)

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19 in korean age is still a minor please look up their legal age rules. For the rest of the argument see my comment below.

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I looked it up and thought it was 19. But I think my comment still stands.

Yes, it was wrong, regardless of the age. But she wasn't supposed to be a role model. We were supposed to find her kissing him wrong.

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I looked it up and thought it was 19, my bad. The Korean/International age is confusing. But I think my comment still stands.

Yes, it was wrong, regardless of the age. But she wasn't supposed to be a role model. We were supposed to find her kissing him wrong.

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She is a well know actress and more importantly THE female lead. The impressionable people will emulate her. There is a line of ethics you should not cross even for the sake of fiction.

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I can't reply to your other comment.

And I understand what you're saying. But at the end of the day she's an actress. She will be playing roles that won't be something you should look up to.

As for the emulating. Why is it that we pick up negative things, but not positive ones?

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I can only see your comment as an attempt to defend the actress because you're her fan. You're not helping her cause.

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"I can only see your comment as an attempt to defend the actress because you're her fan. You're not helping her cause."

You're wrong on many levels. But I'm not here to argue but show you another perspective. It's okay, let's just leave it at this :)

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For your below comment on role models: teenagers run into bad influences anywhere they go. Not showing such people on tv is not going to make teenagers into model citizens. And, showing pristine angels won't make them into model citizens either. I'm not saying this character is not problematic whatsoever but actually showing such characters is better in opening a dialogue with a teenager and pointing out why this behavior could be wrong instead of just acting like teenage girls who smoke and hit on (older) guys don't exist in real life.

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Having laws for over speeding and illegal parking doesn't stop people from doing them so do you argue the laws shouldn't exist at all? Just because the people will not do bad things if it isn't shown on TV doesn't not justify the need for it to be shown on TV. The more you see something the more you start to normalize it. Please read up more on the impacts of popular culture.

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Your comment just reminded me of how kdramas portray males. As far as I know, completely inaccurate and surely gives girls the wrong impression of "romance" and all that entails. It doesn't stop with hand holding usually,

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For your reply to my comment below: bahaha hun, I have a bachelor in Media Arts (i.e. media theory and production) so trust me I know all the theories. So to your point, actually if we taught and convinced people why speeding is wrong we wouldn't need a law for it. The law is there because people aren't convinced and our society believes monetary punishment or threat of it is a more effective method. It obviously does not have a 100% success rate as you pointed out so maybe we should try harder at the teaching method instead :)

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If you have a degree then the only thing I can say is your comment is lazy and biased because you're obviously not ignorant to what the depiction implies.

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Of course my comment is bias and yours is too. That is life. However, it is not lazy or wrong. Your argument was that these poor impressionable teenagers are going to just go kiss random older guys because they saw an actress do it once in a show. That is a media theory but it's the weakest one of the batch and the one most impossible to prove. I strongly disagree with anyone who holds that theory for truth because so many factors go into the how, why, and what in influencing people no matter their age. It's never going to be just mass media. And, to put all the responsibility of developing the moral compass of a kid not their own on an actress or actor is wrong. That's what parents are for.

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My comment is not biased but if you want to believe that it is that is your prerogative. My argument is that people internalize negative behavior if they see it often because it starts to become normalized. The same way cat calling and hooting was shown and normalized for many years that people didn't even think they needed laws against because ultimately it is 'harmless'. Parents can't control every aspect of a child that is why people succumb to peer pressure. Even good parenting can fail if everything around them doesn't support it. There is a reason why it is said it takes a village to raise a child. You just want to defend the actors and absolve them of all the responsibility but they are a part of the village which raises the child. What is wrong is wrong at the end of the day. If they wanted to show this it should have been on a platform not easily accessible to everyone.

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Phew that's such a relief you don't have any biases. I should have realized with just how assured you are in your one opinion.
Not everyone who saw catcalling catcalls or thinks it is right. Those who do have other real life factors that convinced them as well.
It's still the parents perogative to pick what mass media they want to "help" in raising their kids and to help their kids pick their own eventually. A kid could even live his whole kid/teenage life without a TV (the horror I know). Any parent could have looked at the promos and webtoon to see this wasn't going to be some kiddie/family show (and ignoring the director...). There is no 1 show that is going to match every single person/family's moral compass. It's just not going to happen. Also why it is important to have a variety of characters and shows to choose from. The best you can do is to teach your kid to think for themselves and not follow everything blindly.

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I find it disturbing that people think it isn't disturbing because the gender is reversed. A girl kissing a guy who has a girlfriend and isn't exactly reciprocating her feelings yet she pursues him rather aggressively even taking up a part time job at his store is very disturbing. I can't take any comment seriously that says they actually like the female lead because she is the alpha in the relationship. She is a stalker a glorified stalker. Her and her racist illjin friends need to go.

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The rest I see, but in the beginning she didn't know that he had a girlfriend. I think the FL in this drama is going to be one of those unlikeable leads.

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I can't disagree about her in that scene, but a very minor defense is that he doesn't have a girlfriend at that point cause he literally just got dumped.

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And she knows this too- so there he is- a freshly dumped really, really nice guy. Who is very good looking and has great values and a good heart.

What is she supposed to do when she meets the man of her dreams?

She waits to take action until she is old enough (even if just barely)- she does wait 3 years after all. Which creates a problem- because he did not- he now has a new girlfriend.

I say- why can't the girl pursue the guy?

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I think the word you're looking for is stalking.

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I agree about her pursuing a boy who is already has a girlfriend is putting me off. But we will what this drama will bring regarding this issue.

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The drama will easily solve this problem by making us dislike the age appropriate girlfriend and redeem the not age appropriate female lead who apparently hasn't even completed high school.

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She will become a cheating bitch from hell mark my words

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The fact that you even recapped this has surprised me, in a good manner. While the drama does have its issue, it's not nearly deserving of the infamy it has gotten.

The karoke angles I noticed after it was pointed out....I didn't like it. But I also don't like many of the videos/dances/stage performances in the kpop world (and no I'm not trying to justify this).

As you, I thought this would be more PG. But if they want to keep it PG-13, go ahead, just get rid of the erotic webtoon writer. Also the comic fighting, is lame, get rid of that too.

KYG is looking gorgeous and fits the character to the T. JCW, I love him doing a dorky role. And the multiple expressions that pass over his face, I love.

The actors must have chosen this for a reason. If done the right way, a story in a convenience store could resonate with many.

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So far I am loving this. The only other show I have ever seen that managed to capture the Manwha spirit like this one is the short episode web drama NOBLE MY LOVE.

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folks need to lighten up, this is going for a manga vibe. the setup is less offensive than the classic candy situation, he doesn't have power over her and is too goofy to be a predator. the wackiness and irreverence make for an interesting watch. so far i'm glad to see these two on my screen and am willing to give this a fair shake.

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Who told you goofy people can't be predators? The people defending the set up and drama are just as probelmatic as the people who actually allowed this to air.

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wow really? allowed this to air? I'm going off my own assessment of the dynamics being presented. And I'm not willing to infantilize the female protagonist at this early stage and cast her as a victim. maybe you need to drop as the setup is not to your liking.

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I love how rational your argument is. You don't like it then drop it. So simple. Sigh.

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Ok, I'm sensitive to gender dynamics and how regressive K has been in presenting them in dramas. just saying it's early days and maybe this will very well go south but so far I'm not seeing it and that's good, notwithstanding all the goofy predators out there.

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There is nothing progressive about this drama. You're deluding yourself if you think there is.

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So all of us liking the drama are problematic? Even if we are liking the drama, we are admitting that there are issues with it. Which TBH, is more than I can say who are straight out hating it.

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Yes people liking this drama are problematic. You can live with yourself after pretending any of this is comedy is your moral problem.

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Too goofy to be a predetor...Jimmy Savile says hello

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OP thinks you need to lighten up.

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Please don't proselytize. You seem to fancy yourself a progressive. That's interesting to me as you read very much like a neo-con in your want to censor and shame other people's interpretations. Women don't need or want to be protected in this way. And media content, art and theory need to be assessed on its own merits.

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Telling people to "lighten up" in regards to the general plot of the drama etc... whatever, that's fine, you can express your feelings freely.

But telling someone to "lighten up" in response to THIS comment is just not OK.
The idea that only a certain type of person can be a sexual predator is incredibly harmful and @gem28 was spot on in pointing that out.

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OK, Note: I now realize that C was being sarcastic (though that is a pretty dangerous tactic for a topic like this).
I am obviously angry at the OP's sentiments.

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This drama is trash. Plain and simple. The noise marketing pushed up the rating slightly but this is still trash. I support the people peitioniyny SBS to cancel the drama.

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Petioning

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Honestly, the main thing I don't like is what they've done with the best friend. Dreadlocks and interested in reggae, picking flies out of his hair, turning him into this weird prurient creep...I'm not the only one who finds it appalling, right? I don't know whether the message it's sending is intentional or not, but it's hard not to view it as racist.

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No, that was cultural appropriation...period!

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I don't think the dreadlocks are cultural appropriation, as they are a pretty common feature of many cultures. I am not sure I would say an appreciation for reggae is cultural appropriation either.

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What I do find objectionable is the racism.

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Dreadlock is not cultural appropriation but flies coming out of dreadlocks is...so is one shade darker makeup for the one guy who has dreadlocks.

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I didn't really notice the makeup being darker. Agreed that flies coming out of the dreadlocks is straight-up disgusting and racist.

To clarify, I think dreadlocks per se are not cultural appropriation. What they did here is racist though.

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The guy picking a fly out of his dreads is not cultural appropriation! Do you understand what you’re implying by saying that it is?

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@smaltwalt, I didn't notice the makeup being darker too. From the few moments I saw him, he looks the same as he did in The Fiery Priest and in a variety show. So...I don't think he's wearing darker makeup. Huhu

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It is racist but hey it's funny. We should lighten up.

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It’s racist, but (to you) it’s funny, so that means it should get a pass?

Speechless.

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This was sarcasm. My comment I mean.

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Why a person having dreadlocks considered cultural appropriation though. What if you just like the dreadlocks fashion and decide you want it? You feel inspired and enjoy it and decide to keep it? How can that be cultural appropriation? Does that mean, just because reggae community has it, no one else can? I personally feel cultural appropriation is overblown. Unless someone is mocking something in a deliberate manner, just adapting a style can not be called that. It is unfair.

Plus, the dude is used for comic relief. When I watched him, the only thought that occurred to me was - here is a guy, who is not very clean, likes drawing webtoons and not getting opportunities for mainstream and has decided to draw erotic webtoons. I took it for what it is. Comedy.

I believe we should call out 'racism' when we see someone deliberately putting a race down or mocking it. I did not see any mocking here.

By calling everything racism, we may be becoming blurred about true racism. That is my opinion.

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Using a fake black dude for comic relief is not racism? Your standards are wow.

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I did not perceive him as fake black guy though. I am just a fan who watches dramas for what they are. To me, he just looked like a guy who decided to have dreadlocks and is not much on personal hygiene and draws erotic webtoon.

I actually recognize racism. It is bigger than dreadlocks.

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Uh, racism comes in a lot of different forms. It isn't always "bigger that dreadlocks," because even the little, less obvious acts of racism contribute to a greater culture of racism and systemic oppression. Taking a distinctly afrocentric hairstyle and outfit and putting it on someone who is very obviously not a part of that culture, and then implying that the both the hairstyle and the person are unhygienic and aggressively lascivious is super problematic- and it is portrayals like that that contribute to harmful perceptions.

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Word. This reminds me of how until recently, LGBT characters were OTT stereotypes, used as the butt of offensive jokes that passed for “comic relief” in Kdramas. That - and the fact that shit was literally a featured storyline - is what made me loathe the awful SWDBS.

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do africans look like that ? you people just love to get offended at every darn thing while you ignore the real slavery, sex slavery ,child trafficking and female oppression taking place in the middle east ,africa,asia and europe.
let's keep talking about useless topics like cultural appropriation that ultimately have no real life value while women are honor killed in some countries for not wearing a scarf and black people are traded as slaves in libya .

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This is a false dilemma. I don't have to choose between being outraged over honour killings and being angry over the misuse of another culture. I can be concerned with both. In this context, bringing up slavery, sex slavery, child trafficking, etc. is a non sequitur. Those things aren't at stake in this conversation. My expression of concern about cultural appropriation here cannot be construed as prejudicing my concern about those other horrors.

As for "having no real life value", the point here is twofold. First, this can't but make people feel unwelcome. Secondly, cultural appropriation or these other problems which you regard as unimportant are not unconnected to broader problems, many of which I suspect you recognize as problems based on your comment. Racism is a complex phenomenon that has institutional and personal dimensions; in respect of the latter, it becomes easier to mistreat people when people are constantly belittled in these little ways. If we're serious about trying to stop the worst instances of racism, we should also be concerned about how these smaller instances of racism reinforce and enable these larger instances.

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There are very good educational material online about Cultural appropriation, racism....many people have talked about this...Dreadlocks aren't issue but Dreadlocks being perceived dirty, people who have dreadlocks are not civilized, do illegal things, are dangerous, predatory etc. is a racial negative stereotype.....this drama suffers from unconcious bias...and they picked it up from some western racist portrayal of Jamaican/Black culture...and with everything that has happened around me over the past month, I can't overlook this or say its okay because its fiction.

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You don't think the guy who has dreadlocks, who is evidently interested in reggae, who has flies coming out his hair, who has strange sexual interests, etc. might be read, in totally, as making a joke about black people? Because it reads that way to me. Like I get that there's nothing inherently wrong with having dreadlocks - a point I make. But when you have a person with all these negative characteristics also have dreadlocks and also express interest in reggae, it sort of starts to seem like the writer is trading in lazy and racist stereotypes.

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May be I am pushing this viewpoint because I feel strongly about labeling things incorrectly.

I have read a lot of manga. When manga artists satire themselves, they always have them as dudes who are not into personal hygiene, don't much go out and yes, sometimes, flies around them.

This is more of a 'manga artist' stereotype than black stereotype.

They added dreadlocks and his dreadlocks is because he likes reggae.

Now, there are two ways to look at this.

'I live reggae music and love the dreadlocks style. I am also manga artist and I have no personal hygiene'

OR

Script is being racist.

I almost sure it is the first one. Dreadlocks because character likes reggae. The flies coming out of his hair is manga artist stereotype.

This coming from someone who reads A LOT of manga and has seen ton of manga characters that have dreadlocks to differentiate characters. There was nothing racist about it. It is Manga character differentiation. Because in a manga, all characters are drawn out of the same template - the changes are clothes and hairstyles.

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I mean all do respect, but I've read manga all my life. This "satire" of the mangaka is trading on a lazy racist stereotype.

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Now, I haven't watched this, so perhaps I'm missing something - but the problem with your argument is that you're framing it as an either/or argument, i.e. it can either be a stereotype of manga artists or it can be racist. Framing it like this indicates that it can't be both, when in fact something can be both racist and a stereotype of a type of person that has nothing to do with race.

From my understanding, the racist aspect has to do with the choice not only to use particular Black and reggae/Rastafarian visuals (which on its own is problematic but not necessarily racist per se), but to use these particular visuals to indicate to the viewer that this is a gross person or that these traits indicate that a person is dirty. By doing so the writer/director/actor have visually linked this idea of Blackness=dirty. This is inappropriate because there are other ways to get the same result without degrading a culture.

Racism is not always about making a conscious decision to be racist. People do and say racist things all the time unknowingly and without intending to be racist. However, you have to call it out when you see it depicted because it is these unconscious biases that create the room for overt racism to occur. It's the reason that marginalization occurs and hurts Black communities. Even if this is a K-drama, that doesn't mean that it's OK.

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I see where you are coming from. When manga artists get too much into their work, they lose all sense and don't even eat/sleep; but of course that is also a stereotype.

From DS' character description (Naver??) it seems to me that he dressed Rastafarian because he was writing about it. You know how some artists like to live out the role before they perform it? He's getting inspired.

While dreadlocks aren't cultural appropriation, I think joining that with the unhygienic manga trope is.

Of course he could just a be dude who decided to have dreadlocks and is also unhygienic; two separate things came together to paint a a picture and it wasn't a good one.

It is wrong, so let's see where they go with this.

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so people think all back people have dirty dreadlocks,strange sexual interests and are adult webtoon illustrators ...................ehm okay.
pls find better things to whine about.

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No. In fact this is an inversion of the concern! The real concern is that, by connecting dirtiness, prurience, etc. with things that have some connection with black people, the message is being sent that black people are dirty and prurient.

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dear peach blossom @maysjist
I have read everything you have written on this website, and I'm replying to your most recent comment

You are a truly hideous soul.

I'm not saying this to hurt you. I'm saying this so you can go and get help.

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Darkening a non-Black person's skin-tone, giving them dirty dreadlocks with flies flying around their head, and using them as comic relief is racist. You say that by 'by calling everything racism, we may be becoming blurred about true racism'. Views like this are what help racist stereotypes and microaggressions to be perpuated. I'd really recommend you do more reading around this, and check out a diagram theconsciouskid has on their instagram, which shows the types of racism as 'Overt White Supremacy (Socially Unacceptable)' and 'Covert White Supremacy (Socially Acceptable)'. Among the things which are covert racism but socially acceptable is 'cultural appropriation'.

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There is nothing called “true racism” or by extension false EAs. It’s all just racism.

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Dropping this here because you seem quite confused. An explanation from the BSU president of the University of Utah: "Cultural appropriation can be defined as the “cherry picking” or selecting of certain aspects of a culture, and ignoring their original significance for the purpose of belittling it as a trend. Appreciation is honoring and respecting another culture and its practices, as a way to gain knowledge and understanding."

Basically cultural appropriation is what they did. Taking characteristics of another culture and using it in a way that was supposed to be "comedic." The portrayal of the character was not only disgusting quite frankly but also about as funny as trump calling the coronavirus the kungflu (that means it's absolutely f***ing not funny). Cultural appropriation is like using someone's bathroom and leaving a mess behind. It's quite annoying and you won't get invited over anymore.
Cultural appreciation on the other hand is what most of us on this platform do: enjoying and learning about another culture. A respectful thing to do.
Culture is very personal and generally specific to a group of people. For those who have it, it's very disturbing when it is used in ways like this. You might share it and take part in other cultures but you should respect it. Keep that in mind please 🙃

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Okay, genuine question: is the best friend meant to truly be a representation of black culture (through appropriation, obviously), or is he presented as a clueless idiot who's copying all of these elements and doing it badly? Like, is he a fool who has seen the culture and has cherry-picked things like reggae and locs out of it, and now has disgusting locs because he has no idea what he's doing and is trying to speak Jamaican-style, etc?

I haven't seen the show and have no idea what they're trying to do with the character, but as far as I can tell, the character is not Black in any way. So rather than being a half-Jamaican Korean who is gross and smelly and porny, he's a Korean who is gross and smelly and porny and also culturally appropriating Black culture (badly), because that is yet another example of why he's a weirdo.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcFNpFHcQUc

Listen, I get that you are a fan and you want to defend yourself but please stop. They are not trying to air a cautionary tale with Dal Shik, he is embodiment of racial stereotype that people get a way with all around the world because the society where they do these things are unaware of the cultural context. But this is 2020, people all around the world are trying to fight against these things. South Korean writers, producers need to do better. What has happened in this case is they have taken cue from some backdated negative racial stereotype that used to be fun in western media and used it as a comic relief. Its inappropriate, disturbing and it needs to be called out, period. I am sorry if you don't like to hear this, but it is what it is.

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I'm not a fan, and as I mention I haven't seen the show. Defend myself from what? I'm actively asking how they're portraying the character - if they're presenting him as genuine or if they're mocking him. You seem to be pretty sure that they're not framing him as a mockable character when it comes to appropriation - great, as I said, you've seen it and I haven't.

You can dismount the high horse. The air up there seems thin.

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No he suppose to be a Asian who is obsesses with reggae. He’s doing brownface not blackface. Some people can’t tell the difference. His skin color is only a few shades darker similar to Cambodian skin tone. I wouldn’t call this black culture more like appropriating Jamaican culture. It’s similar how weeaboos try to slant their eyes and talk in high pitch voices to appropriate Japanese culture. It’s similar to that borderline obsesses to culture appropriation. He doesn’t have that caricature bob Marley voice going on like hey mayne or whatever as of yet. So we just have to wait to see if his character become more problematic as the episodes goes on.

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Huh, alright, I might check this out if I can track it down if only to more fully form my own opinion. I like the general premise of the story but I admit I was hoping it'd take a more PG route.

At the risk of asking the elephant in the room to tango: I know there's an age gap between the actors but would anyone be willing to tell me the age gap between the actual characters?

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The impression I got is that the age gap between the characters is 8 to 10 years. Someone who has read the Manwha can give us a better idea.

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Thank you, I appreciate it!

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I like elephants and tango so: 7 year difference. He's 29 and she's 22. Not bad in my opinion, but I've known a lot of real life couples with as big or bigger gaps.

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lol it's gonna be one heck of a dance party. Awesome, thank you! Not as big as I was expecting but I understand why some are put off or worried about the power dynamics.

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I think it’s weird that people are getting the vapors about the age gap in this case, but swooned over Boyfriend. The age/power gap was WAY more evident. The haircut they gave her made her look old, so she looked like his mother and they both looked weirded out any time they had to touch each other. I don’t mind an age gap as long as they are both adults. As long as the story/chemistry/acting is on point.

IDK how much I will like this drama. It’s pretty whacky. I’m here for it though. I probably won’t be on the comment section though, because it appears that everyone is pissed off about everything. I get enough of that on FB😂

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Difference is Kim Yoo Jung is only 20, she is hardly an adult. Just a few years younger and she would be a minor, making it all the more creepy.

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But she *is* an adult. That's like saying ok you are 21 so you can drink alcohol now BUT since you are practically 19, you need to wait until I find it more appropriate.
And, I get the core argument is she should be drinking soju instead of (fine) wine, but KYJ and JCW are professionals. As long as there is respect between the 2 parties, there really shouldn't be such a hoopla. I do hope to see her with soju sooner than later, but she is old enough and been in the business long enough to know what she's doing.

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Honestly, I think the difference is that Kim Yoo Jung was a child actor and people can't stop viewing her as such. And she's not just a child actor who grew up - she's a child actor who retained the beautiful face everyone found charming in a child, but she also now has the body of a woman, and a curvy woman at that.

I mean, if you watched Search: WWW, you know Lee Da Hee was born in '85 and Lee Jae Wook was born in '98. They were closer in age in the drama, Lee Jae Wook looks older than his age, but I think the key difference is that no one had a mental image of him as a kid.

The reaction to this drama is a really weird blend of knowing the real-life age gap, cultural discomfort with the show highlighting Kim Yoo Jung's curves, and it making a very appealing target for a country that's had a lot of gender-based scandals recently and not many satisfying outlets for justice.

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Just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical.

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For the below comment: But then that gets you into the whole what-makes-a-person-an-adult argument. We can't really argue the why (there's just not necessarily a wrong answer and will always be based on cultural and personal history). The only "solid" ground we can stand on is how the country defines an adult. I am not going to argue politics on which legal age is the most ethical. For me, Korea has a higher legal age than America so I'm already giving a year up in respect to Korea's legal stance.
But, most importantly, KYJ defines herself as an adult. We can rage and argue that her viewpoint doesn't match with ours but if we are truly being respectful to her, then we really don't have any say. We aren't her cavaliery here to protect her honor. She is old enough and been in the business long enough to do that all on her own (well along with her management team).

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There is nothing legally or ethically wrong in this situation.

"Just a few years younger and she would be a minor"... what? I mean, just a few inches shorter and I wouldn't be able to go on roller coaster rides! But I'm NOT a few inches shorter. "If only this fact were actually a DIFFERENT fact, then this other thing would be true!" is bizarre non-logic.

Two adults got cast on a TV show. One of them is curvy and wears tailored clothing. That's literally all that's happening here.

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You defending that but they are adults so they will be professional is the reason why PDs never even think twice before these kind of castings and why some girls like Jung Ja Yoon who are unfortunate get sexually abused. Do you really think it could never happen to young barely legal former child actresses?

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@madison are you saying that an adult woman should NOT be cast in a show that she wants to be cast in because you're worried that the men on the show will abuse her? Do you see the problem here?

Your solution appears to be "don't cast an adult woman who actively wants this role". How is this helping?

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Kim Yoo Jung is very much an adult. She has been an actress for a very long time. When we worry about children we do so because of their lack of experience. But this actress has been exposed to the adult world for a long time. She may be only 20 but she has the life experience of someone at least ten years older. So she is an adult in every sense of the word.

Until very recently no one thought that a twenty-year old was NOT an adult. The pernicious notion that the twenties were to be an extended period of adolescence has only come about in the last few decades and has done tremendous harm to our society in my opinion. It is to her credit and good sense that Kim Yoo Jung has somehow escaped from that trap.

Her character is 22- and because of her hard life is actually more mature than that. In fact, She is actually much more mature than our ML's girlfriend, who is older but apparently has no problem stringing along the ML even though she knows that he will not be acceptable to her family.

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No Miranda, yes it is legal for her a 20 year old to pair up with a 32 year old.

Is it ethical? I don't think so. 20 years old is still 20 years old regardless of experience. Stop treating a 20 year old completely differently from an 18 year old just because one is a minor when in reality the difference in ages is small.

Also quite a few countries have 21 as the age of majority.

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You know that this is just a job, right? She didn’t actually sign a contract to be in a sexual relationship with her 32 year old costar. She also didn’t sign up for porn - this is Korea and the most that’s going to happen is kissing and possibly some suggestive hugging.

People having the vapors about this appear to be blending all the elements of reality and the show and then cherry-picking the most objectionable elements. She’s 20, but she’s not ACTUALLY in a relationship with her costar. Her costar is male and in the Korean entertainment industry, but HASN’T been involved in sex abuse scandals. The script and directing are slightly more cartoonishly sexualized than most Korean TV, but would still air any time of day in any country.

This is GOOFY, this manufactured outrage.

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For your latest comment:
I know we are going in circles because you just define adulthood differently and I know my definition isn't unethical or shameful. That difference of opinion obviosuly isn't going to destroy the world because you are right that countries have different legal ages. Some are even younger than 19. There's only a day difference between being 17 and being 18. No one magically wakes up on their 18th birthday and feels/acts adult-like. The reason I don't think this is creepy is not *just* that KYJ is 20. Her being 20 at least doesn't make it legally wrong and it doesn't make it ethically wrong in the sense that no one is a pedo for approving this. But as I mentioned numerous times before, she has experience and knows the industry. That steady progression of knowledge is what makes her an actress who can make her own decisions without us only judging her on age. If she was new to the industry and the same age, then that could be a different story. Experience is what is going to make someone an adult and she has it.

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@Miranda that I can definitely agree with and you bring up good points.
Korean men have an "easy" out by being able to go to the military in between their child acting days and adult acting days. Many have taken that route in order to ease the transition. However, for Korean women, their only option is to quit their job they've done for years and have a self-assigned hiatus. That's problematic in a number of ways. Women and men have to be allowed to mature in a steady progression. Otherwise, we perpetuate extreme actions by child actresses in order to break that mold. See almost any Disney Channel star. (I wouldn't call this an extreme reaction by KYJ since it has been a steady build from CWP and even MDBC).

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Yeah, the men get a hiatus that frequently results in their physical form becoming more "manly" (look at Kim Soo Hyun) but also has the cultural aura of having become a man through mental and physical rigor. Women on the other hand do a slow fade and I don't know of any other child actress offhand who transitioned not just to woman, but SEXY woman in a role.

What I find totally bewildering is how K-pop appears to have a completely different set of rules - the girl groups have incredibly form-fitting outfits and extremely sexualized routines, and they're younger than either Kim Yoo Jung in real life or in the show! Is the acceptance of K-pop stars because they were introduced as part of a system where it's acknowledged that they're going to appear that way? And KYJ was introduced as a child actor (NOT an idol or crossover), so even though the clothes she's wearing and character she's portraying are indistinguishable from a girl group routine, it bothers people?

Food for thought.

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