Edited by Young Jun Yang
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
For the 16-year-old Seo Mok Ha, escaping Chunsam Island has always been a long-held wish. To fulfill her dream of becoming a singer, to meet her favorite singer Yoon Ran Ju (Kim Hyo Jin), and most importantly, to escape her father’s violence, she has one thing she has to do—getting to the mainland. However, her dreams of escape, aided by the similarly troubled Jung Ki Ho, are short-lived as a dispute with her father leads to her falling off a ship and being stranded on a deserted island. After enduring 15 years alone, Mok Ha is finally discovered by Kang Bo Geol (Chae Jong Hyeop) and Kang Woo Hak (Cha Hak Yeon). With their help, she steps into a world that has changed drastically from what she knew. Will Mok Ha adapt to this new world and fulfill her longstanding dream?
Watching Castaway Diva, one can’t help but feel healed, thanks in large part to Park Eun Bin’s endless positive energy as Seo Mok Ha. Though 31 in age, Mok Ha, who’s spent most of her time on a deserted island, retains the innocence and purity of a 16-year-old girl, along with an unbreakable spirit, which Park Eun Bin portrays flawlessly (not to mention her excellent singing abilities). Lee Re, who plays the younger Mok Ha, adds to the enjoyment with her solid performance and striking resemblance to Park Eun Bin.
The relationships between the characters are also quite charming. All the main characters in the drama live with deep wounds. And the narrative of them helping each other heal and overcome these scars is compelling, particularly between Seo Mok Ha and Yoon Ran Ju. For Mok Ha, Ran Ju was an object of admiration, a goal to reach during her days on Chunsam Island, and a reason not to give up hope even in her time on the deserted island. Conversely, for Ran Ju, Mok Ha represents a spark of revival. Despite being labeled a “washed-up singer” after suffering vocal cord nodules that led to a slump, it was Mok Ha who supported her and offered a dreamlike performance (albeit with lip-sync).
On the other hand, the drama initially seemed to have some plausibility issues. The scenes where Woo Hak and Bo Geol rescue Mok Ha “by chance” while volunteering, or when Mok Ha and Ran Ju lip-sync on a live national broadcast without any guilt, appeared somewhat questionable. It seemed like the series was forcing sentimentality into Mok Ha’s journey to become a singer. The existence of a villain (Ki Ho’s father) who appears solely to create a sense of crisis and the “Reply 1988-style husband hunt” to figure out who Ki Ho is have also caused fatigue.
However, Castaway Diva has redeemed itself by steadily resolving these plot points. It’s revealed that Kang Bo Geol is indeed Jung Ki Ho and that he formed the volunteer club solely to find Mok Ha, lending credibility to his actions so far. The lip-sync incident was somewhat resolved when Ran Ju confessed live on air, alleviating some of the tension. This deceit by Ran Ju and Mok Ha on a national scale, bordering on crime, seems to have been glossed over. There are still unresolved plots, so we’ll have to wait and see how things unfold.
With last weekend’s episode, Castaway Diva has entered a new phase. Ki Ho, who has been living a new life with his family, finally confronts his biological father Bong Wan, who inflicted horrific violence on him. Like Mok Ha, who escaped the deserted island after 15 years to chase her dreams, and Ran Ju, who dreams of a comeback, we can only hope that Ki Ho and his family will also escape their “deserted island” in their hearts. (7/10)
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.