Twinkling Watermelon was one of the best dramas of the year and boasts an extensive ensemble cast. For those who might have a problem remembering who is who, we made a handy character guide you can glance at while you watch.
Telsey: Twinkling Watermelon is perhaps my favorite drama of the year, but I thought the beginning was confusing. There are so many time skips and flashbacks! I didn’t figure out who was who until the end of the show, and then I just had to figure out all those timelines. Anyone else feel that way?
Kmuse: I agree that it was a bit confusing at first. But, luckily, the more I watched, the more everything became clear. That doesn’t mean that a character guide would not have been useful, so this is the perfect companion for those planning to watch.
Characters in 2023 (where the drama begins)
Telsey: We start the first episode with two brothers at a cafe. The younger one, Eun Gyeol, is eighteen and outgoing and a good student, but he has a secret. He wants to be a rock musician. At the end of the episode we see him playing downtown, on the street, attracting large crowds.
Kmuse: I loved any time we got to see Eun Gyeol play his guitar. From when he first started learning to the present, and then back in the 90’s, he was always the most charismatic with the guitar in his hands.
Telsey: Eun Ho is the older brother. He is a taekwondo star and quite laid back. He and both parents are deaf, and they all depend on Eun Gyeol to translate to other people. He realizes it’s become a burden for his brother and tries to help him get a little space. I was interested to see how the deaf characters are portrayed after having seen three Japanese dramas about hearing loss this year.
Kmuse: The one thing that I was sad about is that we didn’t get more Eun Ho in the drama. I loved him immediately and wished I could have gotten to know that character a little better. I also agree that this is the year with dramas adding deaf characters to their plots. Not that I am complaining, since they all have been great so far.
Telsey: Their father has had a hard life but is usually cheerful and not bitter about being deaf. He pressures his sons to excel, and in particular expects Eun Gyeol to help him with neighbors, customers, and officials. That ends up putting Eun Gyeol on the spot to say things to adults that are not very polite.
Kmuse: I love the father so much. He does have an especially close relationship with his wife and sons, which is just heart warming. I also love how they manage to take that sweetness and make it applicable to his past self. Truly wonderful casting/acting.
Telsey: The boys’ mother is kindhearted and cheerful, but will never talk about her family. She tries to encourage Eun Gyeol by saying that he is his father’s trophy, but it only makes him feel that he can’t live his own life.
Kmuse: Her smile is truly beautiful. I need to keep my eyes open for this actress in the future. I really enjoyed her performance.
Telsey: Se Kyung is a woman who had been known as a cello prodigy when she was a child. She had been adopted by a wealthy couple and tried her best to please them. Later on, she ends up with an old music shop called Viva Music that belonged to her birth father. She tears it down and builds a house on the site.
Kmuse: I didn’t connect with her character in the present. I did feel bad about her situation in the past, though.
Telsey: Se Kyung has a daughter named Eun Yoo who is eighteen and looks just like her mother at that age. Eun Yoo plays the cello really well too, but is tired of always being on show and having to perform to please her parents.
Kmuse: I was thankful that they were able to separate her character from that of her mother right away. I really enjoyed this character and thought she brought a lot of energy to the story. Not to mention, she was the protagonist for a lot of the plot arcs that kept the past storyline moving along.
Telsey: One more figure from this timeline is a mysterious man who has a music shop called La Vida (not to be confused with Viva.) He is called Master and seems to initiate the time travel in the story. We learn more about him at the end of the drama. (Watch for little tinkly chimes in the music shops.)
Kmuse: I loved that both of our time traveling characters had such a sassy relationship with this mystery man. Their interactions were always a lot of fun.
Characters in 2017 (the first big flashback)
Telsey: The owner of Viva Music, whom Eun Gyeol calls Grandpa, had been a musician but kind of messed up his life. He had a daughter who was adopted by another family. He wants her to have his music shop and Eun Gyeol to have his old guitar.
Kmuse: I have always enjoyed this actor and now that he is firmly in the grandpa stage of his acting, we are getting a lot of complex characters. This one is one of my favorites because there is so much angst, but warmth for those who have lost their way (i.e. Eun Gyeol)
We briefly get to see Se Kyung and Eun Yoo from this time period when they run across Eun Gyeol while visiting the Viva Music shop.
Characters in 1995 (where most of the story takes place)
Telsey: The minute you see the ice cream shop, you need to know that you have jumped to 1995. We meet Yi Chan, who is eighteen (everybody is eighteen) and who is going to grow up to be Eun Gyeol’s father. Besides working at the ice cream shop, he is starting a rock band with his friends.
Kmuse: I have loved this actor since Racket Boys. He has that ability to switch between goofy screwup and extremely focused within seconds, which really works for this character. Is he 80% a goofy marshmallow who doesn’t give much thought to his future? Yes! But it is that 20% of extreme determination with a side of loyalty that sets him apart.
Telsey: Chung Ah is a very talented art student, but isolated and lonely because she is deaf. She is bullied at school, which seems strange because she has a rich family. But she has an evil stepmother too. When Eun Gyeol comes to 1995, he meets her and is sure she is going to grow up to be his mother.
Kmuse: Chung Ah might be my favorite character in the drama. She is so classy and determined. It is totally understandable why she turns Yi Chan’s head. Also loved her story and all the character growth that happened once she was able to learn sign language.
Telsey: And here we have Se Kyung at the age of eighteen. She is usually cool and formal, but we see her befriend Chung Ah, knowing she has no other friends. Yi Chan takes one look at her and falls for her hard, which worries Eun Gyeol because he wants to match up Yi Chan and Chung Ah.
Kmuse: I didn’t like Se Kyung that much before the haircut. She was cold to everyone but Chung Ah (her one saving grace). I do get that she has had a tragic life, but still…
Telsey: There is a mysterious subplot in which Se Kyung seems to go to America but returns alone after only a few days. One of the first things she does is cut her own hair. This is one of those unbelievable movie haircuts where someone without any skills cuts hair and it turns out great. (See The Bourne Identity.) You can suspend disbelief and accept the time travel, but it’s hard to believe in that haircut!
Kmuse: It truly is a fabulous haircut that could never be achieved by oneself.
Telsey: Yi Chan’s best friend is Ma Joo. He hangs out with Yi Chan and his band, even though he doesn’t play an instrument. He falls into the position of manager and will grow up to be the head of MJ Entertainment.
Kmuse: This will be where the guide will help the most. I have watched the drama and I have to admit that some of the friends just blended into a huge mush of characters.
Telsey: Yi Chan, wanting to impress Se Kyung, gets his friends to form a band. They have another name at first, but they end up calling it Watermelon Sugar. Here we have Hyun Yul (guitar), Si Guk (drums), and Se Boem (keyboard) practicing with Yi Chan (singing) and Eun Gyeol (bass guitar).
Kmuse: It is the rest of the friend group that all blends together! I do love the band though. They have some great songs throughout the drama.
Telsey: Yi Chan lives with his Grandma, who is feisty and swears more than anyone else in the show. Underneath her tough front, she really cares for Yi Chan and is upset by his bad grades. She makes ends meet by running a boarding house for students and mother-hens them all.
Kmuse: Grandma! She is such a fun character and the only thing keeping Yi Chan focused on anything other than girls. I also love that she gathers those that are lost (just like the music store owner). The world needs more of these types of people.
Telsey: This timeline also has a music store with a proprietor who mentors young musicians. He is Choi Hyun of Baekya Music. He turns out to have a connection to one of the main characters.
Kmuse: Hello, Grandpa! Although I still like the older version of Grandpa better.
Telsey: This is a well done drama with all the feels. It has similarities to Back to the Future, where Marty meets his parents as teenagers and tries to get them together and also happens to play in a band. This show has annoying people and bullies, but they don’t last too long or take over the show. Eun Gyeol shows us a loving family who care about each other. He also shows us the difficulty and stresses of being a child of deaf parents, which is a real thing. This show has high spirits and friendships, sadness and happiness. You don’t know what you are in for when you see the double moon!
Kmuse: I agree. This is an amazing found family drama with so many moments that left me smiling. If you are looking for a feel-good time travel drama, then this should be the one you watch. I gave it a strong 9/10 stars.
Let us know if our character list helps you understand what’s going on in the show!
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi