Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Unfortunately, the fun and the viewer ratings of the drama are not always proportional. Many factors affect the viewership, such as the powerful competitive projects, but if the work you are enjoying doesn’t get enough attention, then the disappointment doubles. JTBC’s Live On, which I will be introducing now, is a good example.
Teen influencer Baek Ho Rang is the object of envy. Everything she wears, food she eats, cosmetics she puts on become a hot topic, and school clubs are anxious to “serve” her. The broadcasting club, in which Go Eun Taek is a part of as the chief, is one of them. However, as always, Ho Rang refuses the offer with her haughty attitude, and Eun Tak takes a parting shot at her face.
But the relationship, which was most likely to end like that, connects again through an unexpected event. An anonymous tipper pokes Ho Rang’s trauma through the school broadcasting club. In order to discover the identity of a person who is trying to dredge up her painful memories, she joins the club. Like the saying “relationship bond through bickering,” perfectionist Eun Taek and self-absorbed Ho Rang start to get intimate with each other, all the while tussling about everything. In the meantime, the anonymous “Baek Ho Rang’s sniper” begins to pressure her more boldly.
Live On revolves around the fresh romance of the “Go Baek (Go Eun Taek & Baek Ho Rang) Couple” and the story of Baek Ho Rang chasing the anonymous tipper. Basically, the two completely different genres, romance and the “pursuit” thriller, came together so well that the fact that you can enjoy the charms of each genre in one project became a great advantage. On top of that, it stimulates interest by adding speedy development, cute visuals and several tasteful narratives, such as Ho Rang and So Hyun’s past and Woo Jae and Jae Yi’s romance.
Above all, the actors’ passionate performance certainly stands out in Live On. Most of the cast, including Jung Da Bin, Hwang Minhyun, Noh Jong Hyun, Yang Hye Ji, Yeonwoo, Choi Byung Chan, boast solid prowess despite the fact that they are still rookies with not much experience in acting. Especially, Jung Da Bin draws interesting pictures of Ho Rang, who displays pride outwardly to hide her inner loneliness and past scars, while Hwang Min Hyun vividly portrays perfectionist Eun Taek, who is both strict to himself and to others. Their chemistry, sometimes the opposite and sometimes so sweet, is just so full of excitement that you will find yourself smiling just from watching them.
On the contrary, the fact that the cast lineup mostly consists of rookies is the biggest regret. As mentioned earlier, the actors’ performance is flawless, but the absence of actors with so-called “star power” is quite big. Of course, Jung Da Bin has gained recognition through various projects such as Extracurricular, and idol actors such as Hwang Minhyun, Choi Byung Chan and Yeonwoo certainly have a strong fanbase, but I can’t help but think what it would have been if there was at least one actor who was more familiar to the public. Although it is nice to see the special appearances of veteran actors such as Lee Han Wi, Jeon No Min, Yoon Yoo Sun, and Song Sun Mi, this has a clear limit.
Now, Live On has only three episodes left. Baek Ho Rang and Go Eun Taek’s romance has been sailing, and the identity of the person who has been harassing Ho Rang has been revealed. Why he has been forcing Ho Rang to broach her painful memories and how Ho Rang will break through this crisis; they will be the key points in the remaining episodes. If it continues its erstwhile pace, the drama will be remembered as a work that we watched satisfactorily till the end. It’s a shame that it’s not getting enough attention for its compelling stories, directing and performances, but I am finding comfort in the fact that I discovered new actors who have a bright future ahead of them.
Verdict: A teen drama that offered more fun than expected; Viewership isn’t everything. (6.5/10)