23 August 2021

K Drama Review: Nevertheless (2021) 4.6 || 4.5

I find Song Kang very attractive. We watched him in Love Alarm 1 and Love Alarm 2. And while those stories and his character left much to be desired, I guess no one can argue that Song Kang is pleasing to the eyes. So when I read about his new drama, I knew we had to watch it. I also knew Oppa was going to love it because the female lead, Han So Hee, is just as beautiful as Song Kang. And of course, I was right. :)


Nevertheless tells the story of two arts students, Park Jae Eon (Song Kang) and Yoo Na Bi (Han So Hee), who are so attracted to each other but they can't seem to be on the same page about what they want out of their "relationship." Na Bi just came from a painful breakup and is jaded in love. Jae Eon is well-known in school as a happy-go-lucky guy who does not want to be tied down in a relationship. The drama takes us through how the two schoolmates try their best to resist their feelings for each other and fail each time, and how they finally try to meet halfway to come up with a set-up acceptable to both of them. 

Song Kang as Park Jae Eon

Park Jae Eon's character is quite similar to Song Kang's character in Love Alarm. A pretty boy who knows he looks good so he's cozy with everyone. Everyone loves and adores him. Yes, he's your typical irresistible playboy. And I absolutely understand why Na Bi has a hard time avoiding him. 

Although Jae Eon appears to be a social butterfly, he's actually a complex character who's difficult to read if you try to come close to him. He's so loving and caring one minute, calling the police because he thought something bad happened to Na Bi who was sick and was not opening her door. Yet, he'd be so detached afterwards where you see him kissing another girl. 

Yes, he's that guy who should come with a huge warning sign. The guy you've been advised by everyone to avoid but there's just really something about him that makes you so drawn to him. 

On the surface, it would seem like Jae Eon is a superficial guy. And I admit that I hated him majority of the time. To me, he fooled around and he played with Na Bi's feelings and vulnerability. Like when he just let Na Bi mistakenly believe that he was really dating Seol A (Lee Yeol Eum). 

But I liked how the show took us through his journey of self-discovery. How he came to realize that his choice to be detached would have trade offs such as losing the person he truly liked. 

Just when I was slowly becoming more open towards Jae Eon, episode 9 had to happen. I was ready to root for him even when Na Bi doubted if he was ever sincere. I recalled the time he called the police to check on Na Bi. And in that episode itself, Jae Eon was waiting for Na Bi under the rain. But he chose this time to have a huge meltdown - making Na Bi feel sleazy. Although it was deplorable for him not to tell Na Bi that Do Hyeok (Chae Jong Hyeop of Hot Stove League) was waiting when Jae Eon came to retrieve his stuff from Na Bi's apartment, what was most despicable was when Na Bi asked him if that was the only reason he asked her out and he could only say that was what Na Bi wanted anyway. I loathed him and I felt that he never deserved to have Na Bi and the latter would be a fool to give him another chance. In hindsight, however, I realize that that incident had to happen. That was a monster Na Bi needed to see so she can have an informed choice. And while I refuse to make excuses for Jae Eon, my takeaway from that scene was that this time, he at least cared enough about their relationship to have strong feelings about it. 

For all his faults and despite my earlier judgments, I felt that Jae Eon redeemed himself in the finale. He showed his sincerity when he helped fix Na Bi's project and he kept his promise to stay away from her afterwards. Time and space were what both of them needed to heal and understand what they really meant to each other. 

So, yes, Song Kang took me through a roller coaster of emotions in this drama. And while he did not really have a lot of opportunities to show off his range since he was mostly chill and indifferent, he still did well. He made good use of his pretty face and smile. And his tears were sincere - I felt that he was truly in pain for hurting Na Bi. I know Song Kang has other upcoming dramas so there's definitely more to watch out for. 

Han So Hee as Yoo Na Bi

I was right about Oppa loving So Hee. Even I fell in love with her. She is just so pretty. She was perfect as the coy but actually very curious and passionate Na Bi. 

So Hee had a very realistic portrayal of Na Bi. I loved the realistic character too. She was understandably drawn to Jae Eon who was handsome, interesting, and mysterious. But she was also scared because of his tendency to be too cozy with other girls. Despite trying her best to avoid him, she just couldn't. He was just really her weakness. 

And while Na Bi always failed in her resolve to leave Jae Eon, I was glad that she was no pushover or martyr. When Seol A was teasing her about how Jae Eon and Seol A were dating, Na Bi had the best clapback - she told Seol A that she should not cut her hair because Jae Eon loves doing it with the girl's hair tied up. :D

As I mentioned above, I wanted Na Bi to ditch Jae Eon early on. He was just trouble right from the start. And I was proud of her when she seemed to have finally come to her senses when she went to her aunt's place to be away from him. But, of course, she failed again. I was beginning to hate her too when she brazenly kissed Jae Eon in Do Hyeok's guesthouse. Such disrespect for a guy whom she knew liked her. 

And after that episode 9 debacle, I was pushing even more for Na Bi to dump Jae Eon for good, that is until I watched the finale, I was so sure Na Bi didn't deserve that kind of jerk. But just like Na Bi, I wavered again. I guess Jae Eon is simply Na Bi's match, that one person she can't avoid or win over. 

At the end of the day, I guess what mattered was that she was at peace with her decision. She knew what she was getting into. She weighed the pros and cons. And she concluded that the benefits outweighed the risks and it was all worth it for her. As Na Bi said, yes, she'll probably regret it but she'll still do it. 

I loved Han So Hee. Yes, she's pretty but she does not bank on that alone. She delivers the perfect set of emotions required of her. I hope to see her in something more serious in the future. 

Chae Jong Hyeop as Yang Do Hyeok

Chae Jong Hyeop had limited screentime in Hot Stove League so it was nice to see him in a more substantial role this time. 

Compared to mysterious Jae Eon, Do Hyeok did pale in comparison. He had this boring vibe. But as the show progressed, I found myself rooting for him. I wanted Na Bi to pick him because he's more stable and sure. Although young people probably prefer spontaneity and excitement over stability. 

But as it became clearer that Na Bi really felt strongly for Jae Eon, I found myself pitying Do Hyeok more than rooting for him. Yes, I loved his fighting spirit but he was too close to being pathetic that I just wanted him to stop. 

What I respected most about Do Hyeok was how despite knowing that he was at the losing end, he didn't rat on Jae Eon when he saw him with Seol A in a cafe. He could have used that to further tear Na Bi away from Jae Eon. But all he did was ask her if she ever felt Jae Eon's sincerity. Such a gentleman. 

And I loved how he just chose to give way in the end. He knew he was no match for Jae Eon. And he loved Na Bi so much that he just wanted her to be happy. 

Sol and Ji Wan

When I was getting tired of Na Bi and Jae Eon's never ending love-hate relationship, it was Sol (Lee Ho Jung of Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo) and Ji Wan (Yoon Seo A) who helped me carry on. 

I loved how the show kept us guessing about the relationship of this two. I first guessed that Sol was the one attracted to Ji Wan. But as the show progressed, it felt like it was the other way around with Ji Wan being all clingy and Sol being a heartbreaker by bringing the guy who likes her to their school fair and hurting Ji Wan in the process and the guy too when Sol started ignoring him. 

I absolutely loved Lee Ho Jung as Sol. She has this cool vibe. The way she reacted to Ji Wan's drunken confession was so bittersweet - she just told her not to get her hopes up again. And I felt her pain when she finally told Ji Wan that she liked her. It was probably liberating but there was the uncertainty of how Ji Wan was going to take it. I'm sure she was surprised as well when Ji Wan admitted that she was confused about how she felt too. 

And I loved how nicely Sol and Ji Wan resolved their relationship and feelings for each other. Yes, there are no guarantees that what Ji Wan feared won't happen. Things might still change. But I'm quite confident that Sol is firm and sincere in her feelings and everything else will be okay. 

I also loved how casually their friends accepted their relationship. No judgment or bullying. They were not ostracized. I'm sure it's the kind of acceptance LGBTQ people dream of. 

Kyu Hyun and Bit Na

I also enjoyed Kyu Hyun (Kim Min Gwi) and Bit Na's (Yang Hye Ji) love storyline. I liked how they naturally gravitated towards each other even if Bit Na was in denial initially. Their relationship felt so authentic. 

I also liked how Kyu Hyun's conversation with Jae Eon about how the former felt that Bit Na did not seem to take their relationship seriously helped Jae Eon see things from Na Bi's perspective. 

I loved how despite being quiet most of the time, Kyu Hyun never hesitated to put Bit Na in check. Like when she's overstepping boundaries and making people uncomfortable the way she made Na Bi feel when she kept teasing her about Jae Eon in front of Do Hyeok. 

I was happy that Kyu Hyun and Bit Na ended up together. I hope it will last this time even if Bit Na's initial motivation to get back together was because there were too many girls interested in the good looking Internet cafe part-timer. They're a good fit for each other, especially with how Kyu Hyun's chill vibe tempers Bit Na's wild personality. 

As an aside, I hope Kim Min Gwi reflects on his cheating mistake and he comes out a better person after this. 

The Gang

I can't close a discussion on the cast without saying that I super loved the girl gang in this show. They're all so young and pretty in different ways. I super love them all. 


I would have to give it to this show for taking on really bold topics - things that are still probably not that widely accepted in a somewhat conservative society like Korea. 

Our female lead is one without inhibitions. She gets intimate with a guy she just met recently. And the show had a lot of skinship in its initial episodes. Among the K dramas we've watched to date, this show probably had the most number of skinship scenes. 

And of course there's that LGBTQ angle with Ji Wan and Sol. Initially, I was apprehensive that this was just a ploy to make people hooked to the show but they would still end up with guys. I was so glad the show went all the way with this one. 

I also loved that "men are trash" arc. And how the drama showed us that this does not only apply to extremely good looking guys like Jae Eon. Even average guys can be trash too like that freshman guy (Lee Jeong Ha of Run On) who was wooing Na Bi only to show up with another girl. 

I also liked the focus on the arts. I'm sure there are still very traditional parents who believe that professional careers are the only track for their children. I like that arts education was featured here to show that it's also a viable career path. 

As regards the love storylines, I would have to admit that halfway through the show, I was definitely watching it for Sol and Ji Wan, and partly for Bit Na and Kyu Hyun. And probably because Song Kang and Han So Hee are just so good looking. I was no longer in it because of Na Bi and Jae Eon. I probably suffered a burnout from their on and off relationship. Na Bi would say it's over but the moment Jae Eon comes near her, they'd be together again. 

If you've booked this show as a steamy skinship one, then you'll probably be disappointed. There were moments when I felt that the steamy scenes in the earlier episodes were meant to bait people into talking about and watching the show. So if you're watching this because of those scenes, you'll probably get bored midway. 

But if you're patient like us and you choose to stick it out til the end, you'll appreciate how the story and the relationships developed, evolved, and progressed. The steamy episodes no longer felt like baits. Rather, the show was just giving us some real talk - that most relationships really start out physical. Probably not as physical as Na Bi and Jae Eon were, but still physical to some extent. But the show goes on to warn us that a relationship anchored on physicality alone would have no strong foundation to hold on to. Two people in a relationship need to go through some pain like betrayal or some other issue to test how far they're willing to take their relationship and if they're willing to fight for it. And probably, that might be the only time they can say that they really love each other. 

Despite the seeming lull in the middle of the drama, I finally understood how every part of the story was a build up to message the show wanted to convey in the end. Although it was a painful and chaotic one, Na Bi and Jae Eon's journey was a nice learning experience that helped them get to their final destination and made them realize that they were finally willing to take the next step into their relationship. 

Oppa says...4.6.

Noona says...4.5.