Edited by Young Jun Yang
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Sports, youth, and romance. I thought I could already see where the story was heading, so I lowered my expectations before I began. But you know what? The longer I watch the show, the more I find myself getting immersed in the story. This is so much fun, so why aren’t people serious about this drama – Love All Play (aka Going to You at a Speed of 493km)?
Park Tae Yang (Park Ju Hyun), who turned 25 this year, used to be a promising badminton player, playing for the national team. But it’s already been three years since she put down the racket. The nickname “Queen of Smashing” is now only the glory of the past. The business team that she managed to join doesn’t welcome her and her teammates are casting her aside since the reason she quit badminton three years ago was that she got swept up in a bribery incident. On top of that, she’s not even getting paid minimum wages. While struggling both mentally and physically, only Park Tae Joon (Chae Jong Hyeop) treats her with kindness. And Tae Joon himself has been having a hard time adapting to the new team, though not as much as Park Tae Yang. A strange, romantic vibe flows between the two quite swiftly.
Love All Play focuses on the blossoming love between Park Tae Yang and Park Tae Joon, the so-called “Two Parks” couple, and their growth as athletes. The youthful romance, the touching story, and the thrilling sports genre are all well-balanced, so you can equally enjoy the fun of the three themes. The absence of a villain reduces the fatigue, and the refreshing development, badminton scenes, and the intertwined relationships add to the fun of watching the show. In other words, Love All Play is easy to watch.
What stands out the most are the actors. Though most of the lead roles are played by rookie actors, they’re showing solid performances. Especially so for the two main cast – Park Ju Hyun and Chae Jong Hyeop. Park Ju Hyun portrays a relatable character who devotes herself to practice to overcome the pain of the past even when her body and mind don’t work as she wants. Chae Jong Hyeop, on the other hand, makes viewers cheer for him by showing how his character grows, both as a badminton player and as a person. Of course, their straightforward, sweet romance that doesn’t backpedal and outstanding chemistry is just heart-fluttering.
However, the very fact that the show is led by rookie actors is also considered a letdown. Yes, their acting is impeccable, but there aren’t that many “familiar faces” that will appeal to the public. It’s true that Park Ju Hyun and Chae Jong Hyeop are the rising stars who starred in projects like Extracurricular, Hot Stove League, Nevertheless, and The Witch’s Diner, but I still can’t help but wonder what it might’ve been if there was at least one actor who could guarantee ratings boost. The appearances of veteran actors Jo Han Chul, In Gyo Jin, and Jeon Bae Soo and the cameo appearances of Kim Hyun Joo and Jin Seon Kyu are nice, but that’s it.
If Love All Play wants to overcome the ratings slump, what’s to come is important. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room for exciting development in the future. Tae Yang’s past and the “no office romance” rule could become an obstacle for the two, and the unexpected slump may threaten their lives as athletes. But the thought of them overcoming these crises and hardships is already giving me a thrill. As a viewer who’s overly immersed in Park Tae Yang and Park Tae Joon’s chemistry and narrative, I’d say this – at least give this show a try. There’s something more in this drama than the debate over the title. (6.5/10)
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.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.