‘Our Blooming Youth’ Review: Give It a Little Bit More Time

our blooming youth reviews

Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

our blooming youth reviews
Credit: tvN

Even before the premiere, people were both excited and concerned about Our Blooming Youth. The project made headlines when it announced its change in production when the author of the original Chinese novel got swept up in a controversy over his anti-Korea attitude, and then the casting of young and talented actors such as Park Hyung Sik and Jeon So Nee gained even more attention. So is the drama living up to its expectations?

On the day of his coronation as the crown prince, Joseon’s prince Yi Hwan (Park Hyung Sik) receives the “Book of Ghosts” containing a terrible curse. Since that day, Hwan has raised his guard and desperately tries to hide his weakness. Then one day, he hears the shocking news that his teacher Min Ho Seung and his family were killed by poisoning and that the culprit is none other than Min Ho Seung’s daughter Min Jae Yi (Jeon So Nee). Not long after, Hwan, filled with remorse over the tragedy, is visited by Jae Yi herself who claims her innocence. Jae Yi blames the crown prince, accusing him of causing her family’s death by sending her father a secret letter, but Hwan claims that he’d never sent any letter. Jae Yi declares that since she’s solved the heinous case that took place in Kaesong, she’ll uncover the truth behind the curse of the crown prince and the case that killed his parents and framed her of killing her own family. Hwan tests out Jae Yi’s abilities, and by proving her worth, she wins Hwan’s trust.

Our Blooming Youth tells the love story of the crown prince who seems strict and cold but is actually warm-hearted and a girl who wants to break free from the norms forced upon the female gender. From mysterious curses and murders to a war surrounding the succession to the throne, the show has many absorbing topics. There are even forensic science and criminal psychology elements of the Joseon Dynasty in the investigations. However, so far, it doesn’t seem like the three genres, historical romance, mystery, and political, really click together. The early part of the series focused on imprinting the main characters, Hwan and Jae Yi, on viewers and building a relationship between them, and that doesn’t seem to connect so smoothly with other narratives. Moreover, the scenes meant to lighten up the mood are neither refreshing nor interesting and nor do they blend in well with the rest of the story.

our blooming youth reviews
Credit: tvN

The most regrettable thing is the negative responses toward actors’ performance. In particular, many have pointed out Jeon So Nee’s awkward tone and facial expression that hinder viewers’ immersion in the story. Though I have to say I agree to some extent, I want to look forward to how she’ll improve in the coming episodes rather than being greatly disappointed now. She might not have wowed everyone so far, but she’s convincingly expressed Jae Yi’s charm, and her performance is getting more stable as the story progresses. The other actors are also doing their parts too. Park Hyung Sik brings Hwan into life with the acting prowess he accumulated across various media, and especially the scene in episode 3 where he struggles to regain the function of his paralyzed arm by writing and practicing archery lets viewers experience the character’s anxiety, fear, and sadness at once. Pyo Ye Jin as Ga Ram is also impressive. Ga Ram is Jae Yi’s maid and loyal friend who now helps Hwan and Jae Yi from outside the palace by investigating the cases in the capital with Myung Jin (Lee Tae Sun). Going back and forth between cheerfulness and seriousness, Pyo Ye Jin delightfully depicts the character who has to be someone’s unyielding rock. Additionally, veteran actors like Jo Sung Ha, Jung Woong In, Hong Soo Hyun and more solidly back up the story. Thanks to their acting, the somewhat bumpy narratives and directing are smoothed out.

Since Our Blooming Youth is a youthful historical romance drama, the part I had the highest hopes for was the process of two lead characters overcoming the crisis and falling in love. But now that I’ve seen up to episode 4, I have this strange desire for the drama to slow down the romance and reach the destination as slowly as possible – I wish there are more episodes where Jae Yi’s investigative skills come under the spotlight and where Hwan takes more bold and determined tactic against his enemies with Jae Yi’s help. The relationship between these two will naturally deepen as they undergo various incidents, and at some point, viewers will be enthusiastically cheering for their love to blossom.

Yes, there are definitely some letdowns in Our Blooming Youth, and yes, it’s true that the show failed to present an irresistible charm that captivated the viewers. Laying the groundwork for the story to unfold in earnest took longer than expected, and the process wasn’t all that entertaining. The eye-catching visuals of the show and the actors’ charms weren’t enough to capture the steady viewer pool. However, the series has just finished warming up, so I’m curious as to what’ll happen in the coming episodes – How will the serial murder case conclude (episode 5)? Will Jae Yi clear her name and find out what happened to her family? Will Hwan uncover the truth of the curse and those who are targeting him? And last by not least, what ending will Hwang and Jae Yi see? (6/10)


Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart.


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