Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
A drama in which ‘Makeup’ is the main subject. This sentence, which mainly describes Channel A new drama Touch, gave me a lot of hesitations before starting the first episode. Today, even men wear makeup, but I am so-called a makeup outsider who can live with only skin, lotion, and occasional sun cream. Since makeup is such uncharted territory in my life, Touch was a fresh challenge.
I started this show half excited, half worried, and before I knew it, the show reached its halfway to the end. Has this drama that aims to ‘touch’ viewers’ hearts with a message of self-confident and self-loving done its job?
First Impression – Huh? It’s more fun that I thought?
Cha Jung Hyuk (Joo Sang Wook) is the best makeup artist in Korea who can tell one’s diet and habits in one look and recommend the perfect cosmetics. Han Soo Yeon (Kim Bora) is a 10-year idol trainee who ranks 7th in the popular audition program and about to compete in final to select the ultimate five. Soo Yeon, the only participant to be honored with Jung Hyuk’s makeup, comes on stage with her makeup fixed, thinking the original makeup didn’t go with her usual image. Jung Hyuk, outraged after discovering his makeup being fixed, curses her to fail, but Soo Yeon eventually makes her dream of idol debut by making the ultimate five.
But a problem arises. In order to cover up romance rumors of Kang Do Jin (Lee Tae Hwan), a superstar and an old friend of Soo Yeon, the agency decides to throw her under the bus. In the end, Soo Yeon, who is falsely accused of assault, ends up being kicked out of the idol group and her agency. After a year in hiding, Soo Yeon makes it as Jung Hyuk’s beauty assistant despite his objections and starts a new life as a makeup assistant.
Contrary to my worries, the opening part of Touch is interesting and absorbing. A chemistry between grumpy and workaholic yet good-natured Jung Hyuk and shy but honest Soo Yeon is entertaining. The show also contains the social problem of high-handed culture in the workplace and invites viewers to a world of fierce business where only winners survive. Although each material may be shallow, you can tell that the show made efforts to enrich the story by using various materials other than makeup.
Since Touch mainly revolves around the subject ‘makeup’, I even got some useful tips on how to manage skin problems. It allows a unique and refreshing sensations of watching a drama and YouTube videos at the same time.
Middle – Unattractive Sub Characters & The Limits Of “Romance”
The novelty, however, disappears without a trace from the third episode. To be exact, everything falls apart as Baek Ji Yoon (Han Ga Ram), a former lover of Jung Hyuk, appears. Ji Yoon dumped Jung Hyuk after dating him for years and married Min Kang Ho (Song Jae Hee), the vice president of Handong Group. She approached Jung Hyuk again, claiming that she needs the best makeup artist for her big comeback, but the truth is that she just couldn’t bear Kang Ho’s domestic abuse and promiscuous private life anymore. She reaches out to Jung Hyuk not only to ask for a professional help but also to spark the relationship once again. The love triangle between Jung Hyuk, Ji Yoon, and Soo Yeon leads to a turning point of the play. But personally, Baek Ji Yoon’s character is so boring and stereotypical that it even feels like she only exists for the smooth development of the story.
I used Baek Ji Yoon as a typical example, but in fact, most characters, except for Jung Hyuk and Soo Yeon, receive the same treatment. Kim Dong Min (Hong Seok Cheon), chief makeup artist of Cha Beauty, is full of stereotypes and cliches of “gay in the art business.” He appears with no specific role in the story and continues using strange expressions by finishing every sentence with “~ reta.” Then Do Jin, a sub male character, suddenly confesses his love to Soo Yeon, who had to give up her dream due to his mistake. I thought the first thing he should do was to get down on his knees and apologize. Of course, Soo Yeon’s release was the agency’s decision, but if Do Jin kept a clean private life, she wouldn’t have suffered in the first place. In addition, major characters like Oh Si Eun (Byun Jung Su), CEO of Oh Secret, and Min Kang Ho became nothing more than expendables. Even if Jung Hyuk and Soo Yeon are the center of Touch, there needs to be a charm for every character existing to make the show entertaining.
Personally, I think that romance plays such a big part in many Korean dramas. In medical dramas, characters fall in love while treating patients, and in crime dramas, they fall in love during an investigation. There is no exaggeration when people comment that in Korean dramas, everything always boils down to love in the end. Yes, Touch being a “super close beauty romance” drama, romance is a crucial part of the story. But unconvincing love between characters will only become a hindrance. The romance between an older man and younger woman, which is a typical setting in Korean dramas, is now considered a bit out of date, and even the process of the main characters opening up to each other is not very convincing.
So From Now On?
There are six episodes left until the end of Touch. So far, contrary to earlier expectations, the show has been moving in a disappointing direction. The only positive thing is that it has recovered to some extent in episode 9 after recording the lowest rating of 0.623% in episode 7. Will Touch be able to shake off the disappointment and win back the viewers’ hearts by presenting the heartfelt romance and story? As a person who dearly supports Korean dramas, I pray they will. (5/10)
Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.