K-Drama Review: ‘Summer Strike’ Sympathetic Story, Yes, But Healing?

Summer Strike review

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Summer Strike review
Credit: Studio Genie

Everyone, at one time or another, thinks about taking a break or not doing anything. ENA’s Summer Strike starring Yim Si Wan and Seolhyun begins from this thought. Through the story of Yeo Reum, who went on a strike from her life, the drama conveys comfort to viewers who are tired of their busy life.

Yeo Reum is a young girl in her 20s who lives fiercely every day. She plugs away, fiercely trying not to fall behind the rest of society. However, her boss shamelessly exploits the subordinate’s enthusiasm, and her boyfriend points the finger at her instead of taking her side and then dumps her. On top of that, Yeo Reum’s mother, the only person on her side, passes away suddenly. While repeating the hopeless life of going to work and going back home, she decides to take a step back from her daily life which she’s been enduring so desperately. Wrapping up her life in Seoul, Yeo Reum heads to a seaside village with no connection.

The story of a girl leaving city life to live in the country naturally reminds us of the movie Little Forest starring Kim Tae Ri. In the movie, Hye Won moves back to her hometown after failing the test. There, she stays in the old house full of memories where she makes the food that her mother used to make for her and meets her friends to find herself. On the other hand, the Angok Village, where Yeo Reum moves to, is peaceful, but it’s an unfamiliar place with no friends or neighbors she knows. Summer Strike centers around Yeo Reum finding herself as she gets to know the people in the village, and that’s why her new country life isn’t as comfortable or romantic as Hye Won’s. Some people welcome Yeo Reum warmly, but there are also those who see her with prejudiced eyes. So if you’re expecting Little Forest sentiment, you’ll be disappointed.

Summer Strike review
Credit: Studio Genie

Dae Bum, the librarian of Angok Village, acts like a “comma” in the story. He shows kindness to Yeo Reum who’s new to the village, even putting viewers’ minds at ease. His kind heart that looks after those around him is conveyed not only to Yeo Reum but also to viewers. But his story is as eventful as Yeo Reum’s. Despite being called a genius, he had to quit his studying, and above all, he also has a sad family story. Summer Strike will deliver messages of support and comfort as the relationship between these two with scars narrows.

Seolhyun, who said she chose the project without hesitation after one look at the scripts, leads the series with her friendly and natural performance. The sight of Yeo Reum all burnt out on the subway is no different from how we look on our way to work, and we feel the youthful energy and courage when we see Yeo Reum quitting her job and realizing her dream of moving to the country. Yim Si Wan brings a sense of refreshment to the drama with his smile. The actor’s handsome looks go well with the strangely puzzling yet delicate and good-natured Dae Bum.

There are times when the villagers’ attitude that can only be explained as prejudiced and unfriendly makes you frown, but in general, Summer Strike tells a story that’ll bring healing to viewers who are tired of their daily lives. It’s especially heartwarming to see Yeo Reum getting closer to Kim Bom (Shin Eun Soo), a high school student she met at the library, and sharing a sisterly love.

However, how “drinking alcohol” is portrayed in the series is worrisome. After arriving at Angok village, Yeo Reum blacks out from drinking twice, and this is treated as funny episode and an opportunity for Yeo Reum to open up to the villagers. In the drama, people like Dae Bum will help a girl who’s wasted in a village that she’s never been to, but realistically speaking, this is just absurd. Moreover, the setting of Yeo Reum staying in an old abandoned building without a lock is also puzzling. It’s those little things, but it’d have been much better if the drama had put into account those realistic aspects of the story.

Summer Strike does not follow the trend these days. Rather than depicting the dramatic events or conflicts, it’s filled with small episodes that Yeo Reum encounters in everyday life. Whether you feel the story a bit dragging or comfortable, one thing for sure is that it’s not so different from our lives, which makes us cheer for Yeo Reum’s recovery and changes. (6/10)

 

Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

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