Summer Strike: Episodes 1-2
With an unhurried pace, dramaland’s latest slice-of-life offering takes us on a journey with our heroine who is done with the emptiness that characterizes her mundane life in the city, and seeks to fill the void in the solace and leisure of the countryside.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
Blaring alarms that rudely indicate the start of a new day, the push and shove associated with running to catch the train, darting out of meetings for coffee errands and having all the doors slammed in her face. These are the hallmarks of the rat race that is our leading lady LEE YEO-REUM’s (Seolhyun) life. Despite being good at her job, Yeo-reum is the doormat at work, and her boyfriend of six years also breaks up with her because he finds her passive and exhausting.
Although they live in different cities, Yeo-reum’s one ray of sunlight is her mom, and her world shatters when her mom suddenly dies. Yeo-reum goes through the funeral in a daze and eventually breaks down when the packed side dishes Mom sent arrives just after the funeral. But in the end, nothing changes. Yeo-reum still lives like a robot going through the motions both at work and at home.
The train leaves Yeo-reum behind one morning, and as she takes a resigned look around, she notices it’s spring. Like the petals from the trees, the scales fall from her eyes, and when the next train arrives, her feet falter. “I’m not going to work,” she says, in a sudden burst of determination. And just like that, the heaviness from the pressures of work and life in general are lifted from her shoulders. For the first time in forever she wears a relaxed smile.
Yeo-reum decides to do nothing from here on out, so she quits her job, fits her essentials into a backpack, and it’s goodbye to Seoul. She heads straight to the countryside to run with the sand beneath her feet and wade neck-deep into the water. “I’m going on a strike against this thing called life!” She declares, exchanging the bleakness of her old life for a new adventure here.
Up next after the beach is the local library where Yeo-reum meets librarian AHN DAE-BEOM (Im Si-wan) for the first time. Unlike Yeo-reum back in Seoul, Dae-beom’s alarm wakes him up to beautiful mornings that start off with a jogging session, and continues with flipping through the pages of a book. It’s quite the leisurely life, but then, that’s the general pace which accompanies most people living in small towns.
We don’t get to learn much about Dae-beom yet, but from the little we see, he’s extremely shy around strangers. Seriously, he relies on written notes in the unavoidable circumstance when he has to communicate with strangers as he can’t even talk to them. But he’s a caring fella, and will go out of his way for them when the occasion arises. So far, Dae-beom has the most interaction — just a few sentences, really — with his fellow librarian JO JI-YOUNG (Park Ye-young) who ironically, can’t wait to be transferred to Seoul.
I had a chuckle when Yeo-reum mistakenly went “Excuse me, unnie,” to Dae-beom — and I get it, because aside from wearing his hair out, the dude has soft features. But Yeo-reum soon gets her karma when some kids address her as ahjumma, and it’s the start of her misadventures in the town — from getting pegged as a shoplifter, to the usual woes that come with finding a good place to rent.
As a last resort, she is introduced to a rundown billiard hall in a semi-abandoned building. It’s a much larger space than her tiny apartment in Seoul, and Yeo-reum is sold. So what if someone died in the place? She gets the entire building to herself at just $600 for the full year in exchange for fixing up the place, and that’s a pretty good deal! Heh.
While the landlord is okay with renting out the space, his slightly annoying son — and the store owner who accused Yeo-reum of shoplifting — BAE SUNG-MIN (Kwak Min-gyu) wants to sell the building. He’s not at all pleased that Yeo-reum is moving in, but who cares? However messy the place is, “I have a home now,” Yeo-reum says with a smile. And the next morning, she’s only too happy to finally delete that rude 5AM alarm from her phone. Phew!
It’s almost like a declaration that her time is now fully hers. And with no office to rush to, Yeo-reum proceeds to drink herself senseless. Thankfully, Dae-beom is there to save her from the clutches of an oncoming truck, as her drunken self wanders the streets. He takes her back to the library where she proves to be a heavy sleeper, and nothing he does can wake her up. Seriously, he tries everything! Except touching her, of course. Lol.
With a few minutes left in our opening week, I’m beginning to relax and form my conclusions on what to expect from the show. But when Yeo-reum rushes off in embarrassment the next morning and arrives home, we see a smoking man watching her from the opposite building and he totally gives off creepy vibes…
Now I’m guessing it’s probably not a coincidence that someone just so happened to have died in her billiard-hall-turned-house. Sigh. What is the genre of this drama again? I came here for the promise of a comforting slice of life drama, and I’m not in the market for sleuthing and murder mysteries at the moment. So if the show can keep the thriller aspect to the barest minimum, I’d be most grateful for it.
Asides the stalking creep, the drama generally evokes a sense of catharsis in me, and I think I’m finally getting the concept of what a “healing drama” is. I’m drawn to Yeo-reum — it’s almost like I’m living through life with her. And it’s not only because we’re viewing the drama through her lense, she’s just that relatable — although I’m nowhere close to quitting everything in my life to move to a semi-remote area.
Yeo-reum is braver than I am in that aspect, and I admire her ability to just up and go 180° on her life without much of a plan. Dirt cheap rent aside, going on to live in a house where someone died without raising further questions is another form of bravery. I mean, I’d have at least been curious enough to ask. But not Yeo-reum. Refusing to cower one last time to her douchebag of a work sunbae and exposing his corrupt and perverse ways? Brave, again. When Yeo-reum says she’s done, she is done!
While it’s unfortunate that Mom died, her death was the beginning of Yeo-reum’s retrospection. Mom was a hard worker, and she died without getting a day off to rest. Yeo-reum has chosen to live differently from her mom — exiting the rat race and moving to find the answer on how to live her life from now on.
Will she find the answer she seeks? Maybe, or not. Problems don’t magically disappear in a small town. But for now, it’s enough to live each day at a time doing what she wants to do: absolutely nothing — aside from reading and going drinking during the day without having to care about what other people think, because, why not? It’s the spring season, Yeo-reum is blooming anew, and I’m here for it.