03 January 2022

K Drama Review: Romance is a Bonus Book (2019) 4.4 || 4.75

It's been quite some time since I last watched Lee Na Young in Ireland. She was my accidental discovery there since I was after Hyun Bin at that time. I've read good reviews about Romance is a Bonus Book and I was looking forward to watching Lee Na Young in something newer. The show and LNY both lived up to and probably even exceeded my expectations. :) 


Romance is a Bonus Book is a noona romance that tells the story of long-time friends, Kang Dan-I (Lee Na Young) and Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk). The two met when Dan-I saved Eun Ho from an accident when they were kids. The two grew close when Eun Ho became Dan-I's errand boy after she was bedridden for some time because of the accident. Dan-I influenced Eun Ho's love for books. Eun Ho went on to become a writer and an editor while Dan-I worked in advertising. Fast forward to many years later, Dan-I finds herself homeless and unemployed after a messy divorce. She sneaks into Eun Ho's house until the latter discovered her little secret. The worlds of the two friends grow even closer when Dan-I finds herself employed in Eun Ho's publishing company. The story takes us through how Eun Ho and Dan-I begin to see each other in a romantic light and how they work through their new relationship surrounded by their colleagues and the challenges they face at work. 

Lee Na Young as Dan-I

Yes, it's been a long time since Ireland and Lee Na Young has obviously aged between that time and now. But she's still very pretty. She's one of those actresses who is aging very gracefully. And despite her age, Lee Na Young can still pull off cutesy and childish characters like Dan-I. She was never stiff or awkward. 

I loved Dan-I's fighting spirit - enduring divorce, homelessness, and unemployment. How she threw away her pride (and credentials) just to get any job. And how when her background was revealed, she still humbly asked for reconsideration but when things were obviously not going to pan out in her favor, she was humble enough to resign. I loved how she knew when to quit so she could avoid being pitiful. 

And despite her desperation to have a job, I loved how Dan-I stuck to her principles when she refused to plagiarize the work of other authors. She resigned even if she really needed that job. 

I loved Lee Na Young even more after watching her here. I hope she'd do more dramas in the future. 

Lee Jong Suk as Cha Eun Ho

I know Lee Jong Suk is popular but it's our first time to watch him. And he has a very strong potential of making it to my list. I would probably wait for his next drama before adding him. 

Lee Jong Suk has the height, face, and charm of an oppa. I love his pensive look and those moments when he pretends to be indifferent when in fact he actually cares deeply for Dan-I. I loved how he would move mountains to provide her needs - a job, a home, etc. He even went as far as threatening Dan-I's ex-husband so she can get her alimony and support. And the great thing about Eun Ho is how he does all of these things while still respecting Dan-I's boundaries and personal space. 

I loved how Eun Ho, despite all those years of loving Dan-I from afar, still had the self-control to be cautious about his feelings for her. He was mature enough to fully realize how losing Dan-I as a girlfriend would also mean losing his best friend. 

And I completely understand why girls go crazy over Eun Ho. He's confident yet he still manages to be a gentleman. I loved how he respectfully dumped his colleague, Song Hae Rin (Jung Yoo Jin of Something in the Rain and Tune in for Love), such that they still managed to be friends despite the rejection. 

And while I was quite disappointed that Eun Ho could not immediately tell Dan-I that the higher ups already knew about her background, I understood why he did it. It was not as if he was just sitting idly on the information. He was tirelessly finding ways to help her exit with dignity. 

I definitely loved Lee Jong Suk. And I can't wait to see more of him and add him to my list. 

Eun Ho and Dan-I

I definitely loved the warm and good vibes Dan-I and Eun Ho exuded. I loved their backstory because I can actually imagine it happening. I'm just concerned that noonas out there might have false hopes that there will always be young, good looking Eun Hos crushing on them. :D

However, there were moments when I didn't completely agree with Eun Ho's actions. Like his attempts to kiss Dan-I when he thought she was asleep and when he said he couldn't hold back anymore. In this day and age, I think shows have the responsibility to highlight the importance of consent. 

But I super loved Eun Ho's very poetic confession about a story where instead of saying I love you, we should instead say the moon is beautiful. And when Dan-I finally realized how Eun Ho felt about her, I loved the natural, easy, and fuss-free way they got together. 

And I absolutely loved how the show did not turn this love storyline into something formulaic and predictable. Conventional K dramas would have made Eun Ho and Dan-I break up after the latter resigned or after he saw her reading his mentor's diaries. I was secretly hoping that this drama would not go through those routes because it was a long way for them to get there and Dan-I had been through so much. And I'm very pleased with the show's treatment of this pair. I loved how Dan-I and Eun Ho were very mature about everything and how at the end of the day, they just needed each other's support and validation. 

Great Support Cast

I love shows with great supporting casts. This was probably the best version of Jo Han Chul (Juror 8, Vincenzo, Hometown Cha Cha Cha, and Jirisan) that I've seen. He was able to showcase both his flamboyance and subdued acting as editor Bong Ji Hong. He was the perfect husband/partner to marketing head, Seo Young Ah (Kim Sun Young of The Silent Sea, Juror 8, Crash Landing on You, Vagabond, Hospital Playlist, and Reply 1988). I loved Young Ah's backstory that led her to divorce Ji Hong. The reason seemed silly but she must have held it in for a long time and she just exploded after that shoe store incident. I love how these two very hardworking actors (who are very wise in picking their projects too) never fail to deliver in each and every show they're in. 

Director Go (Kim Yoo Mi) was another one of my favorites. I hated her in the beginning but she totally grew on me after the great Gangnam Leopard revelation. I loved how she transformed into a totally different person. It was sad to find out about her back story and the reason why she seemed so stuck up. I loved that bonding moment she shared with Dan-I and Ms. Seo. And she completely won me over after she exerted effort to find a job for Dan-I. 

I also loved the second pair in this drama. I loved how the show did not turn Hae Rin into a vengeful person even after Eun Ho dumped her. I was worried that she would get back at Dan-I. Instead, she acknowledged that she loved both Dan-I and Eun Ho so she couldn't really do anything about it. And I loved the casual way she told Eun Ho that she knew about Dan-I. 

Wi Ha Joon (Something in the Rain and Squid Game) was also adorable as book designer Ji Seo Joon. I was concerned that he would end up as someone creepy. Fortunately, he was gracious enough to accept that he was not the one for Dan-I. I'd have to say that this was the best of Wi Ha Joon that I've seen so far.

Even Dan-I's fellow newbies, the talkative Park Hoon (Kang Ki Doong of Prison Playbook and Fight for My Way) and the spoiled Oh Ji Yool (Park Gyu Young), were cute and funny. 


I loved how the show was realistic, presenting painful truths that most people would avoid talking about. Like the harsh reality that women who give up their careers to raise their families would have a hard time coming back later on. When they're ready to go back, they'll be left behind both career-wise and financially. I loved how the show didn't attempt to preach or judge women like Dan-I. After all, at the end of the day, it all depends on your priorities. If you're at peace with where you are, then that should be okay. I loved how liberating it was for Dan-I to work again, even in a temp position, because it was a way for her to regain her identity. 

I also liked how the show scoffed at people who think they're better than temp staff. And how in the end, they realize that life would be too difficult without the gofer. 

I also loved how realistic the show was in dealing with Dan-I's non-disclosure issue. While I felt bad for Dan-I, I completely understood where the company was coming from. Lying in whatever setting should never be tolerated. Although, I also I understood why Dan-I had to do that. 

It was also great to learn a bit about the publishing process and the struggles that writers and publishing companies face. 

There were times when I was concerned that the show might go over the top with its quirkiness. But I loved how the show knew when to stop - just before it becomes too quirky. Like with Hoon and Ji Yool's love story, or Hae Rin stalking Seo Joon, or the founding members' khaki trench coat uniform. 

I also loved how the show perfectly built up the stories and how the pacing for everything was just right. No surprise storylines that were not sufficiently established early on in the show. Like Seo Joon being the son of author Kang which explained his nosiness. And the whole process of Dan-I dating Seo Joon but ditching him when she found out about Eun Ho's feelings for her. And Hae Rin finding out about Dan-I and Eun Ho. And Dan-I resigning and getting hired again. I loved how everything fell into place at the right time. 


I loved how the show gave us a happy and satisfying ending for everyone. Yes, it would have been nice if Seo Joon met his dad when the latter was still alive. But that would have unnecessarily extended the story and would deviate the story's attention from the main leads. I'm just happy that he found love in Hae Rin. 

I'm also happy for Director Go and CEO Kim (Kim Tae Woo) and Hoon and Ji Yool's happy endings. 

I especially loved how Eun Ho proudly announced to everyone that he was with Dan-I. Other dramas would have turned this issue into a mini storyline where their colleagues would be against the relationship or the guy would be embarrassed to tell others about it. I also loved how Eun Ho cutely told the real estate broker that the house they'll get should fit two people because he and Dan-I will live together forever. 

I also loved CEO Kim's philosophy of selling popular books so he can publish and fund less popular ones. I liked this socialized practice of publishing books. And the concept of best selling and steady selling books. 

There are just a lot of things to like about this show and I totally loved how it gave me good vibes from start to finish. 

Oppa says...4.4.

Noona says...4.75.