24 July 2022

K Drama Review: Dear. M (2022) 4.9 || 4.8

This was a surprise find that we were very happy to watch. It's unfortunate that this drama's release was delayed and it was not aired on TV due to alleged bullying rumors about its main lead, which seem to have been unproven and unfounded. We loved it so much and we really hope a lot more people get to watch this gem. 


Dear. M tells the story of six students of Seoyeon University. The three girls - business administration  ("BA") major Ma Joo Ah (Park Hye Su of Samjin Company English Class), economics major Seo Ji Min (Roh Jeong Eui of Our Beloved Summer), and BA major Hwangbo Young (Woo Da Vi) - are roommates in the women's dorm. And the three boys - computer engineering ("CE") major Cha Min Ho (Jeong Jae Hyun), former liberal arts turned CE major Park Ha Neul (Bae Hyun Sung of What's Wrong with Secretary KimHospital Playlist, Hospital Playlist 2, and Our Blues), and psychology major Gil Mok Jin (Lee Jin Hyuk) - are roommates in the men's dorm. All six are classmates in the Photography and Appreciation elective. 

The students' lives become more exciting with an anonymous love confession posted on the school's forum, Seo Rab, addressed to a certain Dear M. The one who posted and his/her first love are both students of the Photography elective. The main leads take turns wondering if they were somehow involved in the confession. 

The drama takes us through how these university students make the most out of their sometimes challenging and difficult yet mostly exciting and happy college life and how they fall in and out and back in love again with one another. 

Joo Ah and Min Ho

Min Ho and Joo Ah have been friends for 12 years now. They grew up together. Joo Ah was the first person who comforted Min Ho when his parents passed away in a car crash. Joo Ah's mom (Kim Joo Ah of Twenty-Five Twenty-One, Jirisan, Monthly Magazine Home, Vincenzo, Hospital Playlist, Mr. Sunshine, and Something in the Rain) lovingly calls Min Ho her son. 

We love how youthful Park Hye Su looks. Although she's older than most of the university students in the show, you'd hardly notice it. She even looks younger than most of them. So despite her age, she can get away with all the cute and funny stuff that people her age won't probably be comfortable doing. 

I love everything about Joo Ah. My favorite, of course, would be her relationship with her best friend, Min Ho. How she was always there for him and how she was his voice of reason - like when she talked him out of taking a leave of absence or selling his app to his senior, Moon Joon (Lee Jung Shik), or when she convinced him to write a letter for his elder sister's (Yoon Jin Sol) wedding.

Joo Ah was hilarious whenever she'd be all giddy around her crush, Moon Joon. Like how she'd pretend to be an expert in baseball, Marvel, etc. in front of him.

But Park Hye Su did so well in her drama scenes too. I loved that breakdown scene she had with Moon Joon after she found out that he actually had a girlfriend. Joo Ah absolutely needed that so she could move on. 

And I think I found a new candidate for my list. Jae Hyun reminds me so much of my OG Oppa, Park Hyung Sik (Soundtrack #1, Happiness, Suits, Strong Girl Bong Soon, High Society, What Happens to My Family, Juror 8, and She Was Pretty). They both come from K pop groups. They both have eyes that absolutely make you melt. And they're both good actors. 

Apart from all the sweet things he does for Joo Ah, I loved Min Ho so much because of his relationship with his elder sister, who practically became his mother and raised him when their parents died when he was young. At a young age, Min Ho knew that he should be thrifty so that his sister won't have to spend so much on him. And to pay her back for all that she did for him, Min Ho even saved up a huge amount of money as his wedding gift for his sister. And I loved how Noona always reassured Min Ho that he was never a burden to her. In fact, he was her investment. And I loved what Noona said about raising Min Ho, something all parents can relate to - there will always be tough times but it's a choice we made and we're mostly happy so there are no regrets. 

With all the misfortunes Min Ho had to go through in his young life, it was heartbreaking to see the same thing happening to him again. His sunbae ran away with the money he saved for his sister. Moon Joon almost took credit for the app Min Ho worked so hard for. So I was so proud of him when he finally had the courage to stand up against Moon Joon and his plans to exploit Min Ho. 

I absolutely loved Min Ho and Joo Ah's back story. And how to this day, Joo Ah still worries about Min Ho when it rains, especially during the death anniversary of Min Ho's parents, because it still triggers something traumatic in him. I loved how Joo Ah ditched her first date with Moon Joon to be with Min Ho when it suddenly rained during the death anniversary of Min Ho's parents. 

It was painful to see all the sacrifices Min Ho went through in the name of his love for Joo Ah. Yes, he was heartbroken to see his first love fall for his senior. Yet he still did everything Joo Ah asked him to do to help her get on Moon Joon's good side - like asking Moon Joon about his favorite celebrity and going through a hundred questions with him to find out the things he likes. And how he was there for her when she was broken hearted that Moon Joon went out on a blind date. And how he saved her during her festival hosting gig by singing in front of a huge crowd. He is just the sweetest.

Yes, there were times Min Ho overdid things. Like when he closed down his app because Joo Ah almost got kidnapped by a stalker. But I never ever doubted his sincerity towards Joo Ah. And I kept on wishing that the time will finally be right for them and that Joo Ah will finally see that he really likes her. 

Despite Min Ho's repeated confessions and Joo Ah's numerous rejections, I'm glad that Min Ho persisted. And that his actual confession was done in a special way, when they were both sober, and with Min Ho giving a clip that Joo Ah liked. And that kiss. 

Yes, things still did not end well at that point. But I totally understood how Joo Ah felt. She valued their friendship so much. He was her go-to guy for whatever. And she was scared of losing him if they date and break up later on. But I hope she trusted Min Ho who boldly claimed that he always gave in/lost to Joo Ah whenever they fought and I was so sure he'd do the same if they'd date. Anyway, let's talk about how these two end up later. 

And since Moon Joon was a third party to Min Ho and Joo Ah, I'll talk about him here too. He started out okay, especially with how he was kind and sweet to Joo Ah. But when he showed his true colors, I started to hate him. I get that his dad (Hwang Gun) was pressuring him but it was just so wrong for him to claim Min Ho's app as his own. And for him to take advantage of Min Ho just because he knew he needed money was really horrible. 

And while he did pave the way for Min Ho and Joo Ah to realize that they liked each other, I hated how Moon Joon led Joo Ah on. The flirting. The mixed signals. I totally did not see that girlfriend coming. And I was so glad that Joo Ah confronted him because he deserved that. 

Ji Min and Ha Neul

I was not a huge fan of the Magnet Couple - Ha Neul and Ji Min. Probably because the show started when they were already a couple. But I felt that their relationship was all for show. Although having said that, I totally loved both Bae Hyun Sung and Roh Jeong Eui here. They were perfect for their roles and I really hope to see more of them in the future. 

Ji Min is that girl in school who you'd either love or envy. And true enough, while a lot of people adored her, there were also a number of people who looked forward to seeing her fail. 

I loved how she was a responsible teammate and leader in the cheer squad. Although she was not part of the rigged raffle draw during the cheer fest, she still took responsibility as the planning team's head. And doing that was not easy knowing that a lot of things were at stake for her. 

A huge part of the show was spent with Ji Min and Ha Neul fighting. And part of the blame goes to Ji Min for being quite naive and too trusting towards her friend, Ro Sa (Hwang Bo Reum Byeol  of Thirty-Nine) and her failure to communicate with Ha Neul. She already had suspicions yet she still kept Ro Sa close. And she was even pushing Ro Sa to Ha Neul. But I'm glad that Ji Min didn't prolong her agony by being straightforward with Ro Sa and asking her if she liked Ha Neul. Although Ro Sa denied it initially, I was happy when Ro Sa finally admitted that she liked Ha Neul. At least Ji Min can now compete with her fairly. 

However, I didn't like how the whole Ro Sa thing broke Ji Min. I hated how she chose not to tell Ha Neul about it and instead, she opted to break up with him, allegedly to protect him from being hurt (which obviously hurt him more). But I understand her insecurities that were so reminiscent of young love - when you just want reassurance that you're loved and how you can do crazy things just to get that. So while the way she acted was immature, we can't totally blame her. Who's mature in college anyway especially when it comes to love? 

Yes, Ha Neul appeared like a very devoted boyfriend to Ji Min. But he was not totally without fault in their break up. Yes, he was not really swayed by Ro Sa. But most times, he'd act so weak and pitiful. And I really wished he tried harder. He can't just keep on saying sorry that he was thoughtless. Ji Min was right that that thoughtlessness could be interpreted as indifference by the other person. 

He lost me when he kept on saying that he wanted to start over with Ji Min and how he'd walk around looking all sad and depressed yet he never really did anything concrete to get her back. But he won me over when he saved Ji Min as Ro Sa was about to slap her. Again, let's talk about their ending later. 

And can we talk about the very vile Ro Sa? What started out as an innocent crush on Ha Neul turned into something very despicable and creepy. Like when she started taking stolen shots of Ha Neul and when she bought a key ring for her and the couple. 

Although she made my blood boil a lot of times, her gradual downfall was so satisfying for me. I loved how Ji Min never stooped down to Ro Sa's level. How Ji Min said that if Ro Sa disliked her for no reason at all, then that was not her burden to bear anymore unlike if she did something to make Ro Sa hate her. And how that hate would be a burden like hell. 

Then there was Ha Neul rejecting Ro Sa. Then Ji Min found out that she was the one writing those malicious posts about Ji Min on Seo Rab. This to me was a very, very sweet downfall. 

Young and Mok Jin

I loved Woo Da Vi as the mysterious, diabetic Young. Although she seemed quiet, I found her really interesting. Young's red hair was proof to me that she had a vibrant personality. I loved how Young was feisty yet she was also kind and thoughtful like she was the only one who remembered to bring something for Mok Jin's parents when they had their outing. 

Lee Jin Hyuk was also perfect as the neat freak Mok Jin. Yes, he was weird but totally relatable for OCs and germaphobes. I loved how he was super funny - convincing his roommates to buy a robot vacuum, agreeing to let Moon Joon join their outing when Joo Ah bribed him with cleaning tools, bribing his roommates with money so they won't join the dorm's pig pen competition where they have to make their room dirty, and how he got couple cleaning materials for him and Young. 

Although he was often joking around, I loved how Mok Jin sweetly researched the first aid measures he needed to know in case Young's blood sugar becomes too low. Next to Joo Ah and Min Ho, I probably loved Young and Mok Jin's love story next because it was straightforward. I just hope the fortuneteller's prediction that they'd only last a month won't be true. 


Initially, the characters were difficult to remember because there were a lot of them and a lot of things were happening at the same time (because the show did a really good job in balancing everyone's exposures). But as the show progressed, I managed to remember all of them. 

I loved the back stories of the characters and how they were interspersed throughout the show, without breaking the flow of the story. 

What made the show special was how it was a very good depiction of university life. The awe high schoolers feel when they tour huge universities. The high school seniors' fear of messing up admission exams and interviews. How groups like the cheer squad tend to be cliquish. How everyone's trying to balance their new-found freedom/independence with the need to be responsible for their futures. How students can still afford to be immature without judgments and suffering dire consequences. How we now all wish we could go back to that time when life seemed so much simpler than adult life. 

I liked the real talk (hard truths) on how orphans, single parents, and the poor in general who come in through the school's love admission are discriminated against. And how these judgmental people seem to forget that although a specific number of slots are assigned to the less privileged, the admissions are still merit-based. 

I also liked how this drama accurately showed how the rich will always have an advantage even if there are people smarter and more talented than them. The rich have the money to pay for extra classes/academy. And how a lot of rich people like Min Ho's admirer, Yang Hee (Kwon Eun Bin of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol), are not in touch with reality. She knew Joo Ah was poor yet she kept on forcing her to take expensive photo shoots and make up sessions or to ask her parents for money for their announcer tryout. Or how Moon Joon couldn't see that apart from the money, Min Ho also valued his ownership of the app that he worked on. 

And of course, the whole Dear M concept was cute and clever. How everyone was a suspect and how until the very end, the show kept us guessing who the letter writer and Dear M were. 

If I had to point out something bad about the show, it would probably only be Ro Sa and how vile her character was. I would like to think that majority of university people have probably not encountered someone as bad as that. 

And of course, I loved the very happy ending everyone got. I was happy that Joo Ah finally realized that Min Ho made her heart flutter too. I totally felt her fear and regret as she cried while holding on to Min Ho's sweater while Min Ho was out on a date with Yang Hee. And how she accurately said that while we can try so hard to ignore our feelings, the moment we put them in words, they will all become real. And how she absolutely had a lot of words to say in that lengthy confession of hers. 

I loved how Min Ho stayed true by choosing Joo Ah over a potential girlfriend when Yang Hee asked him that question during their date. And I loved how respectfully and amicably the two of them parted ways. And of course, who can forget Min Ho's very heartfelt letter for his Noona that he read aloud during her wedding. That was the sweetest gift an elder sister can ever ask for from a younger brother. 

I was proud of how Ha Neul finally realized that actions speak louder than words. He convinced Ji Min's teammates to own up to their rigging mistake. And how he made that game that was a very accurate representation of who Ha Neul and Ji Min were as a couple. 

Aside from Ji Min winning the leader position for the cheer squad, I was happy that she agreed to start over with Ha Neul. And how Ha Neul was slowly learning how to be more reassuring and how Ji Min promised to trust him more. (But yes, I felt a bit bad for Ban Yi Dam (Jo Joon Young) who comforted Ji Min during the break up.) 

It was hilarious that everyone knew that Mok Jin and Young were dating. I hope Mok Jin won't be too immature and clingy and Young would give him more leeway since this was his first relationship. And after all, he was the writer behind the Dear M confessions. 

I loved Ji Min's parting speech to Ro Sa. How she perfectly said that Ro Sa never appreciated what she had and how she will always finds someone to envy, hence, her brokenness. And while I hated Ro Sa til the end, I'm somehow happy that she seems to be moving on when she used that meal coupon she got from Ha Neul when they first met. 

And while I was also indifferent towards Moon Joon, I was proud of how he bravely broke free from his toxic dad. 

And I loved the finale narration and how it spoke to all of us. In college, we're all flawed and we all made mistakes. But we never lacked passion. And since we experienced a lot of firsts during that season of our lives, we were less cautious, which made life richer and more fun. 

And how Dear M was an ode to all of the characters. How they used it as an excuse to express the feelings they were scared of flaunting. 

After watching a good number of dramas, I would have to say that the key to a good drama is writing about something you've experienced first-hand. And that's probably why a lot of the dramas we love are about high school and college stuff and first loves because most of us have experienced these things (the writers included) so the stories come out more sincere. And I can definitely say the same about this show. 

Oppa says...4.9.

Noona says...4.8.