Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
A fresh gust of youthful air has breezed its way into the living rooms with Twinkling Watermelon. This family drama follows a high-schooler who journeys back and witnesses their parents’ school days. It’s a harmonic blend of a family saga, focusing on the discord between deaf parents and their hearing child, all set against the backdrop of exhilarating first loves and the pulsating beats of youth and music. Twinkling Watermelon deftly weaves these myriad threads of different elements and characters’ charms into an irresistible romantic tapestry.
Eun Kyeol (Ryeoun), is a CODA—Child of Deaf Adults. The only hearing member among his family of four, Eun Kyeol has served as the familial interpreter and spokesperson since a young boy. Though excelling academically to live up to their expectations, especially his father’s, his real passion lies in music. A clandestine guitarist, Eun Kyeol faces a seismic clash with his father after performing at a crucial band event. A mysterious music shop appears before a distressed Eun Kyeol, and he suddenly finds himself in Seoul, 1995. There, he encounters his hearing teenage father, Lee Chan (Choi Hyun Wook), his emotionally scarred mother, Cheong Ah (Shin Eun Soo), and even his father’s first love (Seol In Ah), who could jeopardize his parents’ love story. As Eun Kyeol wanders through the year 1995 and encounters people from the past, he comes to realize that he has a purpose to fulfill.
Twinkling Watermelon may echo familiar narrative arcs and tropes. The hearing child of deaf parents venturing into music, or even the magical jaunt back in time to encounter one’s parents, aren’t groundbreaking themes. But the show’s brilliance lies in the execution. We can feel the deft hand of writer Jin Soo Wan, known for works like Kill Me, Heal Me and Capital Scandal, elevating familiar premises into a unique and emotionally resonant experience. It’s awe-inspiring to see how the show ingeniously combines settings that are already familiar to viewers, masterfully crafts its characters, and adeptly conveys the complexities of both events and emotional arcs.
An already rock-solid script is brilliantly conjured with the uplifting direction. Add to this a musical score that seems to summon the nostalgia of its era, among other elements. Overall, Twinkling Watermelon delivers a narrative that feels familiar and yet resonates with us. K-drama aficionados may anticipate the show’s trajectory by episode eight, but it’s the intricate emotional dynamics between characters that hold your attention as the story forwards to the “expected ending.”
Both Ryeoun and Choi Hyun Wook, who have captured audiences in various roles over the past years, prove their versatility here. Their skills stretch from musical performances to nuanced emotional scenes. Seol In Ah, who had portrayed complex and captivating in her last project, also impressively pulls off dual roles. However, the actor who stood out the most to this editor is Shin Eun Soo in the role of Yoon Cheong Ah. While the nature of her character limits her dialogue, she manages to convey a spectrum of emotions—from the fluttering excitement of being near her crush to the deep pain she feels from the abuse of her family—all through her rich expressions and gaze.
The heart of Twinkling Watermelon lies in Eun Kyeol’s pursuit of three quests in 1995: preventing the accident that will rob his father’s hearing, empowering his downtrodden mother, and lastly, thwarting a young girl who could screw up his parents’ love story. If the first half of the series explored the emotional complexities of the four characters, the latter half will undoubtedly focus on whether Eun Kyeol can achieve these missions. Will the past be rewritten by Eun Kyeol’s endeavors? How will his actions ripple into the future? And will Eun Kyeol realize the family love he’s been searching for? I’m itching to dive into the next episode. (7/10)
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.