Well, it depends on who’s asking.
Are you looking for excitement? If you answer yes, then my answer is no.
Are you a hopeless romantic? If you answer yes, then my answer is maybe.
Are you bored? If you answer yes, then my answer is perhaps.
Are you a Kim Hyun Joong fan? If you answer yes, then my answer is yes.
I clearly can only speak for myself so perhaps I should provide a background on my relationship with this drama. Some years ago, I watched It Started With A Kiss, which is the Taiwanese dramatization of the manga Itazura na Kiss. It might have been my first Taiwanese drama and I enjoyed it immensely, even though I fast forwarded and skipped some parts. I thought it dragged quite a lot, but nonetheless, I really liked it.
When I saw ISWAK, I don’t remember feeling like “nothing is happening.” I am a big fan of romantic comedies and frankly speaking, more often than not, much doesn’t ever really happen in these dramas so it’s not like I need a high concept to enjoy a drama. However, with Playful Kiss, we are watching a story of young love -which I love- but it almost feels like we are watching young love bloom under very mundane circumstances. I don’t feel that rush or desire for the leads to be together ASAP. Also, there’s no real suspense here because the end was obvious from the first ten minutes. We know the characters will definitely end up together because they don’t really have any major obstacles keeping them apart.
As I already said, nothing much happens so although I have seen 10 episodes so far, I can’t even tell you what happened in the last episode I saw -because nothing is memorable. I think the characters have chemistry but it seems to lessen as we get further into this story. So for someone looking for excitement in a drama, in my opinion, Playful Kiss isn’t the right one for you.
Genius guy. Dumb girl. Cold guy. Outgoing girl. Gorgeous guy. Not-so-gorgeous girl. Very typical romantic set up, right? The story of how a bubbly, open hearted ordinary girl thaws the heart of the perfect but unfeeling guy. That’s what Playful Kiss is about and that’s how the story is unfolding. I’ve seen this story told over and over again and time after time, I’ve enjoyed it. But with Playful Kiss, I still don’t feel the butterflies when the leads are in the same room together. There are some cute scenes and in all honesty, the entire drama has loads of cuteness but perhaps I feel a disconnect. I’m not sure if it’s a disconnect based on the actors or the script. Maybe it’s because I don’t really see how Ha Ni has changed Seung Jo. The script says she has, especially as we have Seung Jo mentioning ways Ha Ni has impacted his life, -like him attempting to try new things and not just live like the easy way it comes to him. But nonetheless, I can’t pinpoint a moment where I thought that Seung Jo’s feelings for her began to change. Like to see that shift of emotion in his eyes or in the way he looked at her. So will a hopeless romantic like this drama? Maybe. Because all the elements are there. But maybe this script needs more emotional actors.
Are there better dramas out there? Surely. Are there worse dramas out there? Definitely. Do you have only a limited number of hours each week to spend on entertainment? If so, you’ll probably be better served watching something else. Do you have time to kill? If so, then perhaps you can kill some of that time watching this drama. As I already mentioned, there’s nothing exciting going on here and there’s no real suspense. But it’s pleasant enough with fun side characters and if you can suspend your disbelief as is generally required of an Asian Drama watcher, it’s not an insult to your intelligence.
If you love Kim Hyun Joong, then watch this drama. I personally didn’t find his acting that bad in Boys Over Flowers but he’s better here. Plus you get to see his cute face numerous times in the space of 16 hours in total. So what’s not to love?