Origin and release year: Red Balloon (South Korea – 2022)
Korean title: 빨간풍선
Starring: Seo Ji Hye, Hong Soo Hyun, Lee Sang Woo, Lee Sung Jae, Jung Yoo Min, Lee Bo Hee, Jeong Bo Seok, Yoon Mi Ra, Yoon Joo Sang, Kim Hye Sun, Choi Dae Chul, Lee Sang Sook, Seol Jung Hwan, Jo Yeon Ho, Oh Eun Seo, Koo Ja Keon, Park Se Ryeon
Director: Jin Hyung Wook
Screenwriter: Moon Young Nam
Synopsis: A story of four people attempting to quench their desires and appease their heartbreaks. (AsianWiki)
“This is one of the first dramas with really good comedy that this writer has seen in a while.” – this was my initial impression.
However, comedy aside, it was poorly written. They made us side with one weak and spineless ‘protagonist’ who was actually somewhat of an antagonist of the show and made her do horrible things. However, we were inclined to pick her side because of the way that she was treated by others. This is despite the fact that it’s a bit of an ensemble drama. The drama focuses on Eun Kang (acted by Seo Ji Hye) for so long that she seems like the sole protagonist.
There was a constant allusion to her eventually turning her fate around and becoming the powerful one in every dynamic but, by episode 15, we still hadn’t seen that pay off. When she got busted for cheating, there was no rebuttal from her (which she should’ve had prepared based on how her character was written in all the previous episodes) and yet nothing.
Additionally, as much as the victim of her misdeeds was justified in getting angry and publicly humiliating our ‘protagonist’, we almost felt pissed off more at the protagonist’s spinelessness. There was no redemption arc and dare to say no character arc 15 episodes in. It’s at this point that you feel like you’ve wasted your time watching this drama.
This writer felt that Cha Won (acted by Lee Sang Woo) and Eun Kang deserve each other because they’re both some of the most spineless characters I’ve ever seen. It takes both of them 18 episodes to stand up for themselves and what they want and even then it felt like a weak change or no change at all. Even their confrontations don’t feel confrontational.
Additionally, the letting Ba Da back into their life storyline was just absurd? No matter how good a person is, there’s no way that you’d give room for that kind of redemption? It was honestly ridiculous to watch her stomp back into their lives after messing it up and them just accepting it? Makjangs are notoriously ridiculous but this was just straight hard to believe. How naive do you want us to possibly believe these characters are???
In fact, by episode 19 you start asking yourself whether you had mistaken the protagonist/main character for the wrong person. Han Ba Da (acted by Hong Soo Hyun) should’ve been the singular protagonist from episode 1, she’s the only one who has a significant character arc in the story. However, there was no leeway into making us take her side from the start of the drama. She just seemed like someone who has it all and low-key looked down on everyone else.
There was one refreshing character in Red Balloon, however. The only other drama that I have ever seen Jung Yoo Min in, she was a spoiled brat that I loved to hate. I found her character so likable in this series. This actor is one of the ones who deserves recognition for her duality.
However, the fact remains that honestly the viewing experience of this drama was so frustrating. It would be hard to find on any drama recommendation list.
What did you think of Red Balloon? Let us know in the comments!