After watching episodes 1-4 I think we’ve finally arrived at the true beginning of these characters’ journey together. It was a bit of a bumpy road, so let’s discuss the highs and lows.
#1 Junho with a WOK.
Drama Geek: Junho keeps posting selfies on his Instagram while he’s in his chef’s uniform. I think he secretly wants to switch careers. The director seems to know how good this boy looks when he’s cooking, because we spend the first five minutes or so just watching him cook. (And playing the turkey horn?) I have to say, I’d be happy if I never saw Poong’s (Junho) wife again. She is annoying and his character is pathetic when he has anything to do with her. She’s already cheating on him before the wedding, goes through with the nuptials even though she looks like she was dragged there, and then some time after that dumps him. And Poong still wants her???? His work life isn’t any better. His boss is the one who stole his wife, and the main chef feels threatened by Poong’s talent so he’s more than happy to get rid of him.
Kdrama Jen: I could watch Junho chop onions and julienne carrots for hours. He really looks like he practiced his knife technique. My mouth was watering as I watched him prepare the boxed lunches for his cheating bride. The food looked delicious too… Yes. Watching this drama just for the joy of seeing Junho getting steamy over a wok is not a bad reason.
#2 Sae Woo.
Drama Geek: I love Ryeo Won in everything she does, even if I don’t love the drama. She has a very enjoyable acting style and her characters are generally strong, yet vulnerable, and usually pretty quirky. She has quirk in spades here. (At one point, she wanders around Seoul with her horse while wearing a fencing mask). She’s crazy in love with her fiancé and also has a doting father and seemingly perfect life. Her future hubby looked great on the surface and I kept watching for a Fiancé Truck of Doom to explain how she ends up entangled with our two guys. Sadly, he’s just as horrible as Poong’s wife. By the end of episode 4, Sae Woo’s whole life comes crashing down around her, and yet, I never found her pathetic.
Kdrama Jen: I love how she manages to come across as taking control of her life even while dragging her horse behind her and wearing a fencing mask. Her lot in life certainly is one to pity, but as Drama Geek said, I still don’t see her as pitiful. There is strength in her quirkiness.
#3 Jang Hyuk and his gaggle of gangster chefs.
Drama Geek: I know a lot of people were confused about why Jang Hyuk would take a second lead role. This is one place I think Kdramas put their actors in a box. In American shows where the focus isn’t always on the romance, but the lives of all the characters on the show, and there can be many love lines that come and go, there is more room for an actor or actress to just pick a character that’s interesting. I think that’s what Jang Hyuk did for this drama. He wanted to do a rom-com and his character Doo Chil Seong is almost tailor made for him. He’s an ex-gangster just trying to provide a place where his boys can earn a living the legal way. Too bad for him none of the gangsters can cook.
Kdrama Jen: I wish I could be sure that Junho is end-game because Jang Hyuk is turning my head just a bit. He is confident and competent in all the right ways. I love that he just wants his boys to have a way to make something of themselves. His sense of responsibility is quite inspiring. While the gangster scenes can tip a little toward the silly, there is still a sincerity he conveys on screen. It is what is saving some of the more slapstick scenes from becoming too close to Strong Woman Do Bong Soon level of absurd.
#4 Can we please FOCUS!
Drama Geek: This is the same writer from Jealousy Incarnate. It took me four full episodes to become completely invested in the drama and its characters, but once it hooked me, I ended up loving almost every person on the show. Really strong older female characters and a lot of side characters who had interesting stories. But… the writer it’s like the writer has twenty class pets and never knows which one to pick first. Aside from the three main characters we got several scenes filled with random people. I know the characters in those scenes will eventually become important, but it made it feel manic at times. I was harder to connect with any of the storylines because we kept hopping to the next one.
Kdrama Jen: After four episodes (or two using the “old” way of counting), I am definitely eager to watch more, but still trying to sort out where this is going. Please tell me it is not going to be about terminal cancer and bitter goodbyes. I will still watch for Junho (because I am THAT kind of fangirl), but I might fast forward through the sad bits. I am hoping this will be a Jealousy Incarnate kind of turn around, and we won’t have our leading lady die.
# 5 Another epic bromance for Junho?
Drama Geek: When it comes to frenemies, Junho and Namgoong in Chief Kim are the goal most dramas should seek to attain. I think Junho and Jang Hyuk have the potential to run toward that goal. Hyuk’s character already has a soft heart for his minions so why not a pathetic chef as well?
Kdrama Jen: I am all for a bromance that steams and sizzles like shrimp in the wok. I am not sure this has the same potential as the Chief Kim bromance, but I am willing to stick around to find out!
Drama Geek: I’m a bit iffy on part of Sae Woo’s storyline (I didn’t comment on this because it’s pretty spoilery) and if it goes south, then I may jump ship. With that said, there are three things keeping me invested after the tepid opening: Junho, Ryeo Won, and this writer’s potential to create memorable characters. We plan on doing a podcast on Wok of Love after we’ve watched a few more episodes. Hopefully, we’ll have more insight on the leads chemistry together by then, and how tragic some of the story may go.
Kdrama Jen: Oops. Did I give spoilers in my earlier comments? Oh well. I am still trying to figure out which threads of this story they will use to weave a central plot, so I have no idea if I am giving away important points or not. Overall, I am here because of my love for Junho. I think he is an incredible actor and I love to see how he is changing, evolving, and honing his craft. I am also here for Jang Hyuk and Sae Woo. I am scratching my head a bit regarding where this is going, but I am not going anywhere.
What were your thoughts on the first week of this drama? Will you continue watching?
Kdrama Jen & Drama Geek
Drama With a Side of Kimchi