Hi! Today I will be talking about Radio Romance. It was a pleasant surprise and I was never bored which was surprising considering the genre. Without further ado, let’s dig in to the plot, spoiler-free of course.
Ji Soo Ho (Yoon Doo Joon) is the most popular actor in Korea who is a puppet for his CEO mother. Their perfect family life is a lie. His father is only concerned with public image and his latest girlfriend. Song Geu Rim (Kim So Hyun) lives with her blind mother and dreams of being the main writer of a radio show. She has been the maknae writer at the radio station for ages and is constantly bullied by her sunbaes. Her only ally is an eccentric genius radio show producer notorious for his temper issues. Lee Gang (Yoon Park) returns from his “vacation” after the chaos he caused and makes her an offer. He promises to make Song Geu Rim the main writer of his show if she can snag Ji Soo Ho as their RJ. Song Geu Rim is the ultimate people pleaser so everyone loves taking advantage of her. Her sincere love for radio wins over Ji Soo Ho and their professional relationship is off to a rocky start. This doesn’t sit well with his CEO mother who is adamant about casting him in a profitable production rather than a unprofitable radio show. This fight is more than it seems. Ji Soo Ho’s Radio Romance becomes a symbol of rebellion against his controlling family. For the first time, Ji Soo Ho finds a warm encouraging friend in Song Geu Rim. Although there’s constant tension between producer Lee Gang and RJ Ji Soo Ho, loyalty runs deep. The most profound change is the progress in Ji Soo Ho’s mental and emotional state. His therapist, Jason (Kwak Dong Yeon), has waited years for Ji Soo Ho to open up about his past trauma to no avail. Song Geu Rim’s gentle personality works a miracle even a professional couldn’t perform. The secondary cast includes Jin Tae Ri (Yura of Girl’s Day) who has been a child actor with Ji Soo Ho and is the complete opposite of Song Geu Rim. We also have Ji Soo Ho’s childhood manager Kim Joon Woo (Ha Joon) who he isn’t exactly fond of. Gradually, the secrets of Ji Soo Hoo’s family and his past are revealed. I am sure everyone can make good guesses but watching the plot unravel was immensely satisfying.
Ji Soo Ho
The reason I watched this drama. Highlight/ BEAST Yoon Doo Joon is the male lead and can I just say, the casting was perfection ❤ He is introduced as the cold hero who couldn’t care less about the heroine. Unlike most Kdrama heroes, Ji Soo Ho actually has some background that helps us understand his behavior. There are two Ji Soo Hos. The perfect actor and son the public sees and the tortured soul behind closed doors. It’s important to note that Ji Soo Hoo only shows his true self around a few people including the heroine. Why? That’s a spoiler 😉 He reminded me of Shin Se Gi from Kill Me Heal Me. He has a serious childhood trauma which leaks into his adult life too. There are many times when Ji Soo Ho reacts exactly like a prepubescent child. He remains stuck in the past. He is depressed from that trauma, his sham of a family and suffers from insomnia. His character development is gold and I am sure it will help many viewers improve their life.
Song Geu Rim
She’s the bright and bubbly Kdrama heroine most people have come to hate (thanks Geum Jan Di). She’s different in the sense that her personality is important to the plot. Her mother has taught her to be a fighter and always look at the glass half full. She’s probably the only person around Ji Soo Ho who has beliefs like these so he responds positively towards her (after those first few episodes lol). She lacks self esteem and isn’t an amazing writer but she doesn’t give up. I think that’s the most admirable trait of hers. She keeps going towards her goals and urges others to do the same. Her hard work pays off in the end in more ways than one.
Played by Yoon Park, this unpredictable character promises fun and delivers it. Obviously, there’s more to his feelings for Song Geu Rim as you might have guessed already. However, he’s a generally fair person who weasels his way out of almost everything. His work ethic, while unusual, is one of the main reasons everyone falls in line and increases their ratings. Rather than being a people pleaser, he knows how to get people to do things for him without being the bad guy. Everyone does think he’s crazy though and his homeless guy look doesn’t help with that. I’m going to miss him.
One of my favorite characters in this drama, Ji Soo Ho’s mother is a force to be reckoned with. She’s such a strong classy conniving lady but at the same time utterly helpless due to her circumstances. Besides Ji Soo Ho, she’s the biggest victim in their family drama and ironically, she’s the one who runs the show. I loved learning more about her character. Instead of growing, she literally breaks down a little in every episode until we see the real vulnerable woman hiding within.
How can anyone not love this precious bean? Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of Jin Woo although he’s an important piece of the puzzle that is Ji Soo Ho’s past. He’s a lot like Song Geu Rim and another great example of a true friend. He’s more mature than most adults I know. He’s considerate, generous, forgiving and puts friendship above everything else.
Like I mentioned before, Jason is Ji Soo Hoo’s therapist who moves in with in determined to uncover the truth of his past. He is played by the young and talented Kwak Dong Yeon (Stan Dong Yeon. Stan relentless savagery). He’s a total scene stealer and his acting really brings more mystery and tension to the plot. He has ulterior motives and links to Nam CEO. What he truly wants is something we will learn in the end. I was sad to see his character completely crumble over the course of the drama but I am proud of him ❤
Jin Tae Ri & Kim Joon Woo
The childhood trio is not exactly a trio. I could say there are two overlapping trios. Ji Soo Ho, Jin Tae Ri and Kim Joon Woo have grown up in the film industry. They have struggled side by side but not always together. They’ve been thrown together by circumstances and close due to their experiences not genuine fondness. They do have strong understanding though many important things have been left unsaid between them. I was hoping they would all heal together but sadly, Jin Tae Ri never made up with Ji Soo. Hin Tae Ri and Kim Joon Woo were such an unlikely pair: tragic yet funny and cute. There’s so much to love and hate about Jin Tae Ri. She’s loud, obnoxious, selfish but also daring, passionate and a survivor. The Jin Tae Ri responds to haters segment was hilarious and her calling out Kim Joon Woo for his lack of a confession lol Kim Joon Woo is a straight arrow but he’s stuck with the wrong people. I am glad he stands up for what’s right from time to time even when he’s betrayed. I think he deserved better.
This couple is just plain evil and downright hilarious. They don’t even get along with each other but insist on staying together. Their professional goals align and they are willing to stoop as low as they can go to accomplish them. They are like the typical villains of a fairytale. I love how they never sugarcoat anything and stick to their shenanigans till the end. You reap what you sow kids.
What I Loved
Ji Soo Ho and Song Geu Rim have a beautiful, meaningful and healthy relationship based on understanding and empathy. Song Geu Rim shows us exactly what a person suffering from mental illness needs. Doo Joon’s acting was the “highlight” (pun intended) of their relationship. His expressions and body language when translated into words is just heartbreaking.
Kdramas and movies have discussed the dark truth about the Korean entertainment industry before but Radio Romance talks about it with a unique frankness. We all know what happens when a celebrity starts dating. Ji Soo Ho asks his fans all the right questions. I hope it gives such possessive fans a reality check. I also want to mention Jin Tae Ri’s abuse by the team of the refrigerator company when she meets them to discuss an ad. I am glad she had Kim Joon Woo to speak up for her. It’s time people said enough is enough.
Mental illness spotlight
This is not the first time a Kdrama has focused on mental health but again, this approach was unexpected. Maybe it was everything that blended so well together but Radio Romance was such a healing experience. Doo Joon did a great job of displaying the internal struggle of such patients. Song Geu Rim is the kind friend we all could use on good and bad days. Radio Romance brings the vulnerability of such individuals to the forefront and urges the viewers to empathize.
My Rating: 5/5
Radio Romance may not be a hyped high budget Kdrama with a major star cast but it is one of the most meaningful well written dramas I’ve come across. I am sure you’ll love these unforgettable characters too 🙂 The OST was nice but I don’t think there was a particular track that stood out to me this time.
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I think I’ll focus more on pending Kdrama reviews (and there are plenty just sayin’) than album reviews during Ramadan.
See you next time!