Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by by Kim Hoyeun
There’s an unspoken rule in film and drama: the appearance of babies and dogs is a cheat code. Even if the work has flaws, its sheer cuteness makes it all forgivable. By that standard, A Good Day to Be a Dog has triple cheat codes, the adorable presence of a cute puppy, the striking visuals of Cha Eun Woo, and Park Gyu Young‘s lovely charm. One thing is clear: the show doesn’t leave viewers’ hearts at peace.
The MBC Wednesday drama A Good Day to Be a Dog spins a fantasy romance tale about a woman cursed to turn into a dog with a kiss and a man who can break the curse but is terrified of dogs. Hae Na (Park Gyu Young) is a high school Korean language teacher who is pretty, smart, and gets along with everyone. Her secret is that due to her ancestors’ wrongdoing, she turns into a dog after kissing someone. What’s worse is if she doesn’t kiss the same person again in 100 days, she has to live as a dog forever.
That’s why Hae Na can’t show her feelings even when she’s crushing on Bo Gyeom (Lee Hyun Woo), a history teacher at the same school. One day, bolstered by liquid courage, Hae Na attempts to confess her feelings to Bo Gyeom but inadvertently ends up kissing the standoffish math teacher Seo Won (Cha Eun Woo). In an ironic twist, the man with whom she has the most awkward relationship becomes her only hope to lift the curse. So, can Hae Na manage to kiss Seo Won again?
A Good Day to Be a Dog adds its original twist to the recent drama trend of adapting popular webtoons, enhancing the viewing pleasure. Notably, the method of breaking the curse differs from the webtoon. While the premise of having to kiss the same person remains, the drama adds a deadline of 100 days to the mix, enriching the push-and-pull episodes between Seo Won and Hae Na. The sight of Hae Na’s clumsy attempts to kiss Seo Won and his bewildered reactions bring much laughter.
Despite the fantastical premise of a person turning into a dog, the drama unfolds every episodes with an adorable touch. In particular, small incidents at the school where Hae Na and Seo Won work naturally bring them closer together. Though the narrative progression isn’t dramatic, the friendly plotline makes for a comfortable watch, drawing viewers into the relationship between the two characters. This is why, despite the unrealistic setup, the drama still resonates strongly.
The cast’s performances also stand out. Park Gyu Young, playing Hae Na, embodies the character with a cute and sympathetic mask that captivates the audience. Cha Eun Woo charms viewers with his flawless looks as if he jumped right out of the webtoon. The impressive character, of course, is the dog. Its sheer cuteness is enough to dispel the world’s worries, and its well-timed acting just makes you proud. The presence of Lee Bo Gyeom, with his friendly smile and hidden agenda, also draws attention. Initially appearing to form a love triangle with Hae Na and Seo Won, his ambitions are revealed to be much grander. In a drama that unfolds through various everyday episodes, Bo Gyeom becomes a significant axis of conflict between the two protagonists.
Overall, A Good Day to Be a Dog is an adorable piece, but there are a few disappointing aspects. The foremost is the past life stories of the characters that appear at the beginning of each episode. It seems to be related to the curse that Hae Na is suffering, but so far, it’s tangential to the main narrative, feeling more like an unnecessary addition. Furthermore, Seo Won’s attempts to hide his cynophobia seem forced, as if the drama is contriving situations that could have been easily avoided by simply being honest with those around him.
These flaws, of course, can easily be overlooked, given the nature of the drama. Instead, the anticipation builds for the characters’ lovely charms in every episode. The playful banter between Hae Na and Seo Won, initially centered around breaking the curse, is now blossoming into genuine love. Already filled with the love-in-the-air vibe, the scene-stealing cuteness of the dog knows no bounds, persistently tugging at viewers’ heartstrings. Writing this review, one can’t help but mention a certain variety show. Indeed, Dogs Are Incredible, always! (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.