Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Cho EK
There has appeared a series filled with peaceful stories in the K-drama scene, which often deal with provocative subjects such as infidelity, crime, and violence. Racket Boys depicts the growth of teenagers who dream of becoming idols in the badminton world. All the characters have good hearts and aim for a better future without the evil thoughts of betrayal or plotting schemes. What if it’s not fun to watch because they’re all so kind and gentle? We have nothing to worry about because such a benign manner creates laughter and sympathy. Let’s take a look at the three reasons how the Racket Boys captured the viewers’ attention with its tenderness.
We Fall in Love with the Child Actors’ performances Just like We Do with Idol Singers’
Racket Boys depicts the struggles of the middle school badminton club, which is on the verge of disbanding, against the backdrop of Haenam, the village on the Southern end of the Korean peninsula. The main characters of the drama are middle school students who aim for the national championship. At first, I was concerned about them. Can these young rookie actors lead the narrative of 16 episodes? Fortunately, the concern disappeared within 10 minutes of the first episode.
Hae Gang, the main character who had quit baseball and moved to the countryside, and the three badminton players from Haenam Seo Middle School, Yun Dam, Woo Chan, and Yong Tae, do their job brilliantly.
Tang Jun Sang, who plays Hae Gang, takes the center of the play by naturally portraying playful bravado and wit. He pretends not to be so caring, but the way he treats his friends brings out joy. Kim Kang Hoon, who takes on the role of Yong Tae, demonstrates the acting skills he has accumulated from When The Camellia Blooms, Mouse, etc. In particular, the perfect Southwestern dialect and genuine emotional acting are attributed to the fun of the play. Other actors also perform stable actings and make up for the absence of adult actors. In addition, because most cast members are minors within a similar age range, the story develops smoothly, and the chemistry gets stronger among them.
Realistic Description of Badminton Games
When I found out that it is about badminton, I was more concerned than excited. I wondered if the drama could depict the sport as it is, as much as the expected romance and comedy. Fortunately, Racket Boys makes good use of the theme of badminton as it befits the title and shows high-quality game scenes to increase viewers’ interest.
First, it closely connects the growth of the main characters with badminton. Hae Gang, who once had genius skills but is now full of bluffs, is moving forward by honing his badminton skills. The scene where Woo Chan, who once thought about quitting sports due to the opposition of his parents, hone his insufficient skills and stand proudly in front of his father, creates a moving scene. The drama supports the teen players by portraying them sympathetically pursuing their dreams of badminton.
The badminton game scene, which appeared in earnest after the sixth episode, is also of high quality. The actors realistically show the high-difficulty movements, and the camera captures them vividly. In particular, it captures the characters’ appearances who change from moment to moment in the continuous battle, making the viewers feel they’re watching a real sports game.
We All Grow Up
The drama also skillfully conveys its message. It depicts how children grow despite being defeated and making mistakes. In particular, the main character, Hae Gang, turns into a great player through numerous trials and errors and finally into a decent grown-up. Moreover, the sincerity of the work is felt comfortably without excessive tears or forced emotion through the small episodes with the members.
Adults also grow up together. Hyeon Jong, Hae Gang’s father and badminton coach at Haenam Seo Middle School, was at first a selfish adult who only cared about his own well-being. However, seeing the pure passion of the children, he looks back on himself as a coach and tries to become a better adult. He makes too many mistakes to escape from the disgrace as a nuisance character completely, but at least knowing that he has the will to change makes the viewers lenient on him.
In this way, the drama opens room for growth to all the characters, not to a specific generation or a specific person. In this process, the major takeaway of the drama is strengthened: the meaning of being together, not alone. The series also looks at all the characters with love, thereby increasing the drama’s allure.
Racket Boys will soon finish a passage and tell another sub-narrative. Hae Gang and Se Yun’s brief relationship seems to be coming to an end soon, and Haenam Seo Middle School’s challenge to a higher place will not stop. However, more work needs to be done to resolve the controversy over Indonesia’s disparagement in episode 5 and episodes of rural residents that do not fit the central story. Nevertheless, it is a pleasant drama to watch I’ve seen in a while. We hope that this bright and positive energy will continue in the second half, and we support the national domination of Racket Boys.
Verdict: A mild-flavored yet powerful smashing of fun and excitement! (7/10)
Editor Hwang Hong Sun: A Korean movie buff who wishes that the warm messages in good works will warm up this world at least by one degree Fahrenheit.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.