I think out of all friendship-turned-romance dramas this year, Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah’s story in Bubblegum is perfect for 30-ish working people who struggled and are struggling to keep up on the sad truth that dealing with a broken heart and learning to accept a new love have different approaches as you age along. It was such an enamoring narrative that drew strength from the free spirited and natural on screen connection of the lead couple.
Brought by their parents’ friendship, Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan grew up to be childhood best friends who always rely to one another. Haeng Ah’s mother died early as Ri Hwan grew up not knowing who his father was. His mother, a former daughter of a rich household left her family to raise her son alone, and with the help of Haeng Ah’s father who ran a restaurant she has managed to finish her residency in the hospital by leaving him in Haeng Ah’s father’s care. Unfortunately Haeng Ah’s father passed away early too and so she was taken to stay with a distant aunt. Her uncle came to rescue and asked Ri Hwan’s mother to let her stay in their house while he provides financial support for her. Haeng Ah was taken in but has always been careful in the presence of Ri Hwan’s mother who has mixed treatment towards her because she reminded her of her father whom she used to love.
Working as a Radio PD, Haeng Ah got involved in a cold relationship to a Senior/high-ranking officer in the radio station. Though she has loved the man deeply, she got tired of not being able to hit his priorities. When Ri Hwan learned about her new love misfortune, he did everything in his power to help her moved on, and in the process realized that his brotherly love has progressed to a romantic one. Haeng Ah who has learned early that she cannot date Ri Hwan because his mother will not agree to it mustered the right reasons and denied Ri Hwan’s love declaration but soon enough faltered and accepted the love that should have been hers all along. Ri Hwan who was set up to date a chaebol family daughter politely declined the one sided love and also chose to be with the love he had not realized to be there all along. When Ri Hwan’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the couple battled the odds and was initially defeated when Ri Hwan was left with no choice but to give up on Haeng Ah thinking of a future she will have with him if his mother’s disease will be passed on to him. Persistent Haeng Ah refused to be despondent and dauntlessly worked on making Ri Hwan realized that he has nowhere else to go but in her arms. In the end, they both chose to be happy and got back together while taking care and building memories with Ri Hwan’s sick mother.
It is sadly evident that the conflicts raised in the story were not tied up neatly. It was like probably hoping that Lee Dong Wook princey face can fade away the misses of the drama. It came very strong with how the characters communicated intrepidly and genuinely but fell short because of the wayward movement of the story. It was a case where the beautiful characters were not justified by a well written fiction.
Although it got derailed on the closing episodes and the mom-doesn’t-want-us-to-be-together was misplaced and later on forgotten, I have enjoyed the heartfelt confrontations, the peaceful conversations and the life and love realizations. It was a consoling chronicle until the mom-got-Alzheimer’s plot, and less that annoying cliché, it would have been a perfect melodrama as a whole. It did end up warm and happy for the love birds but the writing was not polished. It was ardent but somehow all over the place. If not for the unfeigned portrayals of the lead couple, I would have given up on it. But because it had me hooked on fast to cheer for the literal written on the stars love for Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan and the blossoming of the romance from the friendship tested through time, I sent them off with a smile on my face. Bubblegum is not a solid offering but it will keep you calm and comforted. -jediprincess ♥♥♥