Title: Encounter (남자친구 or Namjachingu) (2018-2019)
Also Known As: Boyfriend
Created by: Studio Dragon
Written by: Yoo Young-Ah
Starring: Park Bo-Gum, Song Hye-Kyo, Jang Seung-Jo, Moon Sung-Geun, Nam Gi-Ae, Ko Chang-Seok, Kwak Sun-Young, Shin Jung-Keun, Baek Ji-Won, P.O, Kim Joo-Hun, Cha Hwa-Yeon, Kim Hye-Eun, Jeon So-Nee, Kim Ho-Chang, Lee Si-Hoon, and Pak Jin-Joo
Country of Origin: South Korea
Original Language(s): Korean
No. of Series: 1
No. of Episodes: 16
Genres: Drama, Romance
Running Time: 60 minutes
Original Network: tvN
Cha Soo-Hyun (Song Hye-Kyo) is the daughter of a politician. After she graduated from college, she married the son from a family who runs a large company. Her marriage was a marriage of convenience for her politician father. Her husband though had an affair and wanted a divorce. Cha Soo-Hyun is now a divorcee. She is the CEO of a hotel.
Kim Jin-Hyeok (Park Bo-Gum) is an ordinary young man. He tries to find a regular job and works part-time jobs in the meantime. As he closes on his 20’s, Kim Jin-Hyeok decides to take a trip to Cuba. There, he meets Cha Soo-Hyun. They have a brief encounter. When he goes back to Korea, he receives a phone call from a hotel. Prior to leaving for Cuba, he had an interview at the hotel for a job. He learns that he is now hired and Cha Soo-Hyun is the CEO.
Finally, after two years, I got to see Park Bo-Gum’s drama again. I’ve been waiting for his drama ever since I watched him in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (2016), Reply 1988 (2015-2016), Hello Monster (2015), and Tomorrow’s Cantabile (2014). I was so excited when they announced that Park Bo-Gum will be starring in a drama called Boyfriend or later on named Encounter as well. Park Bo-Gum is starring the drama along with Song Hye-Kyo. Now, the age gap, I really mind it. I don’t really like the idea but since Park Bo-Gum is one of my favourite actors and his acting skill is great, and so does Song Hye-Kyo, I decided reluctantly to watch the drama. I took quite a long time to write this post because let’s face it, I rarely post my blog anymore. Life has been so busy. I know I should have not trying to finding excuses, but I really apologise for my very late post. Now, I will stop beating around the bush. Let’s get down to business.
As always, Park Bo-Gum gave a magnificent performance. I always know he is such a versatile actor. I know he still has a long way to go to be called a versatile actor, but from what I have watched him all this time, I think he is starting to earn the title. He really knows how to play many types of characters. The role that he has been playing is quite diverse. A psychopathic lawyer in Hello Monster, a genius Go Player in Reply 1988, a Joseon Crown Prince in Love in the Moonlight, and now in Encounter, Park Bo-Gum plays a free-spirited man who falls for an older woman. That’s pretty versatile because all these characters are very different.
Park Bo-Gum is very good with his facial expressions. His facial expressions are always spot on and therefore, the audiences will believe whatever his feeling is. The audiences can tell that he is in love, sad, feeling awkward, or happy, just by seeing his facial expressions. Park Bo-Gum’s eyes are very expressive, so all of his feelings can be reflected from just his eyes alone. That was quite a talent, I have to say. Not all people can show their feelings just from their eyes. His smile also still heart-melting. He is also a very variety of facial expressions, which sometimes can be super adorable. Park Bo-Gum can looks very adorable during the drunk scene. I can’t stop smiling seeing how adorable and cute he can be.
As Kim Jin-Hyeok, Park Bo-Gum’s character is looking pretty normal, compared to the other characters that he has been playing before. Sounds pretty easy, right? But it’s not. Well, at least, I think it’s not. Park Bo-Gum needs to show how much he cares about Song Hye-Kyo’s character, Cha Soo-Hyun. He needs to convince the audiences that he took interest in Cha Soo-Hyun and that he loves her. Words don’t always mean anything if he cannot show it with his gesture and expression. Therefore, it is important for Park Bo-Gum to know how to express his feeling without being too much because his character is pretty much very normal. Kim Jin-Hyeok is not a prince, nor does he a very rich and powerful person. Therefore, he must show how he protects his loved one in his own way. Basically, its the scriptwriters that have been doing a great job. They made Kim Jin-Hyeok’s character unique and unusual. However, if Park Bo-Gum cannot portray the character well, then it won’t succeed either. So it’s a great job from both sides. What I don’t like is perhaps the idea of Kim Jin-Hyeok’s character that is way younger than Cha Soo-Hyun. I prefer if he can like younger girls. But then, it seems like ‘noona romance’ has been some kind of a hit lately. I personally don’t really like it, but then it depends on the story too. Besides, Park Bo-Gum played his part really well.
I also Kim Jin-Hyeok that likes camera and books. I too love books and very much interested in photography. It is so interesting to see that Kim Jin-Hyeok still used an analogue camera and therefore kind of nostalgic. I always love analogue cameras and will always be, no matter how advanced camera nowadays. I just love how classic Kim Jin-Hyeok can be.
The female lead is played by Song Hye-Kyo. After Descendants of the Sun (2016), people have been waiting for her to come back as well. Especially when she ended up marrying her co-star, Song Joong-Ki. Park Bo-Gum and Song Joong-Ki are best buddies in real life. That is why people were pretty excited about this drama as well. I swear, the next day after I wrote these sentences, I read the news of Song Joong-Ki and Song Hye-Kyo are getting divorced. It is quite shocking. Anyway, we are not here to gossip, so let’s continue to discuss the drama. Talking about acting skills, there’s no question how Song Hye-Kyo will pull off the character. There is a reason why Song Hye-Kyo is very popular up until now—apart from her natural beauty. She knows how to act well. I admit I don’t really like her hairstyle here but it is better than Park Bo-Gum’s hairstyle in the first two episodes. Like what the hell? But anyway, apart from that, everything is great.
I have not watched much Korean drama with noona love story, so I cannot say if Encounter is pretty cliché or not. However, seeing that many people love this drama, I think it is not cliché and it is a good thing. Therefore the audiences cannot guess what will happen with this couple. The overall story is pretty much very good and enjoyable. There are some funny moments and even sad moments. Park Bo-Gum and Song Hye-Kyo did a great job in portraying their characters. How they showed their characters’ emotion is superb. The audiences can see their happiness or sadness. People will actually believe that they are actually in love because they were that good. Even when they played drunk, they managed to do it flawlessly. Overall, the producers have chosen a good actor and actress for the roles.
“What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you?” – Kim Jin-Hyeok
Although I said a good actor and actress, I did not quite agree it is the right actor and actress. I like the plot story. To me, the story is good. Not so boring but pretty much enjoyable. However, I would prefer if Park Bo-Gum is being partnered with someone younger than him, or at least only a few years older or so. Don’t get me wrong. Song Hye Kyo does look very much young for her age. But age is still age and you cannot lie about it. Although many people pretty much said Park Bo-Gum and Song Hye-Kyo made a handsome couple. They really looked good together. I still prefer Park Bo-Gum played with someone younger like Kim Yoo-Jung when they played in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds.
I also like the character of Lee Dae-Chan, Kim Jin-Hyeok’s friend who opens a restaurant played by Kim Joo-Heon; Jang Mi-Jin, Cha Soo-Hyun’s secretary played by Kwak Sun-Young; and Nam Myeong-Sik, Chaa Soo-Hyun’s driver and her father’s best friend played by Ko Chang-Seok. These three characters add more laugh and spice to the stories. Although there are many other characters that made the story a whole package and more fun, these three characters are my top three. Especially the chemistry between Lee Dae-Chan and Jang Mi-Jin is pretty much very funny. I also like the character of Kim Sun-Joo played by Kim Hye-Eun. She is Kim Jin-Hyeok’s boss and also Nam Myeon-Sik’s friend.
Each character has been portrayed really well by the actors and the actresses. I am not going to lie. I don’t like all of them. Some, I think, is good but not that good. It’s not like they are bad at acting. It’s just I cannot feel their emotion. However, everything is redeemed by the way Park Bo-Gum’s acting. I really think he is someone you should reckon with. He is such a good actor. I am very confident that he is going to be a very great actor—if not already.
Like every other Korean dramas, Encounter has a beautiful setting. Each house and office were set beautifully. Everything looks natural and as it was real. Every detail in every corner was very well thought. I also love the scenery of the beach. It has been a popular topic as well because the scenery was so beautiful like it was made when actually it was real.
As I was saying, the plot story is good. I don’t know about fresh, but I do enjoy watching Encounter. I just hope the story is more complicated and more tensed. There are some sad moments, yes, but unfortunately it is not quite tensed. The solution to every problem, in my personal opinion, is pretty easy. I cannot feel the—I don’t know how to say it in English but let’s just say the x-factor that made me feel excited and tensed. It does not have a complicated story as I was hoping for, or at least like the other Korean dramas that I have watched before. However, if you like a simple and light story, especially noona love story, I think Encounter is the right drama for you. What I don’t like about the story is the encounter between Kim Jin-Hyeok and Cha Soo-Hyun. It’s pretty ironic, isn’t it? Yeah, their encounter seems weird and forced. I personally think there are other ways to make the two main characters met, but somehow they chose the most awkward way. The chemistry between the two characters is also seemed awkward at first. However, everything is getting better as the episodes went by.
All in all, Encounter is a good drama. The story is simple but very good indeed. At some point, the story is quite relatable to some people. The performance of Park Bo-Gum and Song Hye-Kyo in the drama is absolutely outstanding and they have a very nice and sweet chemistry as well.
I give Encounter 8 out of 10 stars.