Thursday, August 13, 2020

KDrama Review: Dinner Mate

A recent app discovery for me is iQYI, which is a streaming service that features Asian dramas and movies. It is free to use, but it has ads in between while you watch videos (think TV commercials when watching free TV). When I first discovered the app, I also discovered a Korean series that I got hooked on: Dinner Mate starring Song Seung Heon (Autumn in My Heart) and Seo Ji Hye (Crash Landing on You).

Also known by its other titles Let’s Have Dinner Together and Would You Like to Have Dinner Together, the series is about two people who decide to become dinner mates: two people who will go on dinners together just so they can have a meal with someone and talk freely about things without the necessity of having a relationship because they do not know each other’s names, where they are from or what they do for a living. 

In this series, Seun Heon plays Kim Hae Kyun, a doctor/psychiatrist who specializes in food therapy. Ji Hye, on the other hand, plays a producer for an online media company. Both have had their hearts broken by their exes and both end up in Jeju Island at the same time and end up having dinner together, which starts the dinners that they have together back in the city.

There is a lot of discussion about how sharing a meal with someone is a big deal and says a lot about the type of relationship you can have with a person. There was this part where they say that if they are not comfortable eating with the person that you do not want to be with that person at all. How sometimes we adapt how we eat with someone just because we still want to be with that person. Basically, it means meals with someone are a big deal. They have a point, I guess I just never thought about that until I saw this series.

As with any romantic series, the dinner mates evolve into a couple and of course, there are people (particularly, their exes) who try to get in the way of that. There are a lot of subplots in this story, but they all work well to develop the relationship that the leads have with each other. Being a show that features a psychiatrist as the male lead, there were also subplots about mental health. 

At first, I thought this would be an age-gap romance since I remember Song Seung Heon from his earlier work and knew he’d probably be in his 40s by now (even if he doesn’t look it) and that his co-star was much younger. I was wrong though. Turns out Seo Ji Hye, who looks like she is in her 20s, is 35! She looks so young!

There were several cameos in the show, like the one featuring Kim Jun Hyun, who played Ji Hye’s love interest from Crash Landing on You. My favorite however would have to be Sandara Park, who played herself as a patient of Song Seung Heon’s character. When her name was shown as a patient, I did not expect it to be her and that she would be playing herself. It was an amusing scene to watch when she was getting treated for her eating disorder.

I loved the romance in this series. It was not forced, it all felt like everything was just falling into place naturally. There were no over the top romantic moments. It seemed like the way most real love stories develop, which in this case was a friendship that turned into a relationship as they got to know each other better.

Dinner Mates only has 16 episodes so it is a quick watch. It is worth the binge. At least for me, it is!


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