04 January 2023

K Drama Review: Summer Strike (2022) 4.8 || 4.75

I came across this drama by chance. I was browsing Twitter and I saw some screenshots of quotes from this show that were very relatable for people who are just trying to get on with their lives. I was curious. It helped that the main leads were people we were fond of - Im Si Wan whom we loved in Run On, House on Wheels 2, and Misaeng (and his cameos in Thirty Nine and Reply 1997) and Kim Seol Hyun whom we adored in The Killer's Shopping List. And I'm proud to say that this was a very good find. Every minute was worth watching and we couldn't help but feel that the 12 episodes that were less than an hour each were not enough. 


Summer Strike tells the story of Lee Yeo Reum (Kim Seol Hyun. Trivia: yeo reum in Korean means summer.), a 28-year old woman who's just so exhausted of city life after experiencing a series of unfortunate events - her mom died, she broke up with her boyfriend who was so not into her, and she quit her job. She packed her bags and moved to Angok, a small seaside village outside the city. In Angok, Yeo Reum meets and forms meaningful relationships with the townsfolk - the quiet librarian but who is actually a Math whiz Ahn Dae Beom (Im Si Wan), rebellious but sweet and kind high school girl Bom (Shin Eun Soo of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol), Bom's loving grandma (Kim Hye Jung of Vincenzo), Bom's boyfriend Jae Hoon (Bang Jae Min), the nosy librarian who likes Dae Beom, Ji Young (Park Ye Young of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha), Yeo Reum's landlord and long-time admirer of Ji Young, Sung Min (Kwak Min Gyu of Exit and D.P.), Sung Min's son Joon (Kim Joon of Hospital Playlist and Hospital Playlist Season 2), and the PWD and often misunderstood Geun Ho (Kim Yo Han) and his family, among others. 

As the story progresses, we find out that there's really more to the seemingly mundane lives of the people of Angok. The drama takes us through their traumas, struggles, and how they work together to overcome these difficulties. 

 Kim Seol Hyun as Lee Yeo Reum

I super loved Seol Hyun here. It was so refreshing to see her in a more significant role compared to what she had in The Killer's Shopping List. 

I loved how Yeo Reum took us through a roller coaster of emotions - she started out meek then you slowly see her stifled by her routinary life, demanding job, and unsympathetic boyfriend. Then she turned to someone feisty, revealing corruption and harassment in her office, then you felt her sadness because of the people she lost (mom and boyfriend). Then she slowly breaks free, trying to find happiness in doing things that she loved and pursuing her own passions. And the more amazing things is we witness all of these in just the pilot episode. Seol Hyun really laid out a good foundation which fortunately, she was able to sustain until the end. 

Although things didn't start out well for her in Angok, with some people wary of her presence, I was confident that Yeo Reum would win them over in no time. She just exuded that kind of vibe. And I was happy to see them love her and how she was able to find her people in that town. 

Probably one of my most favorite Yeo Reum moments was when she was willing to wipe out her savings to save the dog, Gyeoul. It just shows you the kind of person she is. 

This show has definitely turned me into a Seol Hyun fan and I hope she makes more dramas in the future. 

Im Si Wan as Ahn Dae Beom 

We already know that Si Wan is a great actor based on his previous dramas. But he just really leveled up in this show as Dae Beom. I loved how he was able to perfectly express himself in non-verbal ways - his eyes, smile, his body language like how stiff he was as he watched Yeo Reum cross the street while she was drunk. I'm sure those things were not easy to do but Si Wan did them so well. 

Yeo Reum described Dae Beom perfectly - he was warm-hearted and he was well-loved by the people around him. I loved how he cared for Yeo Reum like how he sweetly estimated her shoe size when she said that her shoe broke and he got her a new one. Even kids like Joon trusted him the most among the grown-ups when the latter confessed to Dae Beom about taking Yeo Reum's money. 

It was painful to watch Dae Beom's back story because he definitely did not deserve that unfortunate life. But I was proud of how he was able to overcome that painful past and how he refused to let that define him forever. 

I can't wait to see more of Si Wan's work because he just seems to keep getting better and better. 

Shin Eun Soo as Kim Bom 

I have to give a special mention to Shin Eun Soo for her spectacular performance as Kim Bom. We already knew she had potential in Do Do Sol Sol. But she showed us so much more here. Pretty much like Seol Hyun's Yeo Reum, Bom also took us through a roller coaster of emotions. She was an effective rebel/bitch who defied authority and who didn't seem to care about anything and anyone. But she was also great in her dramatic scenes especially when she allowed herself to show her vulnerabilities - like in her relationships with Yeo Reum and grandma or in her confrontation scenes with dad (Nam Jin Bok of Samjin Company English Class, Narco-Saints Suriname, and Extraordinary Attorney Woo). 

At only 20 years old, I know the future's very bright for Shin Eun Soo and I hope to see her in lead roles in the future. 


I've said this above but it's worth repeating that one of this show's strengths is how great the main leads were. I loved their subdued/understated acting. They conveyed so much with just a look or a smile. They definitely made up for whatever some of the supporting cast lacked. 

And true to the Twitter screenshots that I saw that lured me into watching this drama, this really showed a lot of real life stuff. I loved how Summer Strike depicted the characters' sad and mundane lives without wearing down, depressing, or even boring its viewers. 

And while this drama seems to be part of a growing trend of stories about abandoning city life for a more quiet and serene life in the countryside, I loved how this show still managed to do this in a refreshing way with a different take. 

Yes, episode 1 really set the bar so high for this show. And while the second episode failed to sustain that freshness, it still left us with a lot of things to think about that made us move on to the succeeding episodes - can Yeo Reum sustain that lifestyle financially without a job? Did it make sense for her to rent an abandoned building with a scary past? How will Yeo Reum and Dae Beom's relationship evolve when the latter barely spoke whenever they meet? 

Apart from the amazing main leads, another asset of this drama is its very effective story telling. I loved how it belabored to explain the back stories of the main characters. And how these were done gently and not in a way that was surprising or shocking. 

I liked how the drama presented Dae Beom's back story - he was first introduced as a quiet and aloof guy. Then the show goes on to tells us why - his sister was killed, his dad was held responsible for it, mom committed suicide, and he basically had to grow up by himself at a very young age. Despite these traumatic events, Dae Beom's courage is highlighted with his willingness to go back and settle down in Angok. Any other weak person would have left. 

I also liked how Bom was presented as a rebel who refused to go to school and chose to doodle in the library the entire day. She was mean to everyone but hit it off with Yeo Reum right away. Then we're introduced to her family - she has a loving grandma, but mom abandoned the family and dad is now an alcoholic who brings nothing but trouble. 

Then you have Jae Hoon, who seems clueless about a lot of things and who follows Bom wherever she goes. Then we find out that he's actually from the US but feels unwanted by his intelligent and accomplished parents so he opts to move back to Korea by himself. 

I loved how our characters are all flawed. But because the drama takes time to explain to us why they turned out that way, we can't help but continue loving and rooting for them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous food for thought that the show fed us. Like how Yeo Reum said that people often fail because we try so hard to meet the standards of other people when we should be setting standards for our lives and work from there. 

I could also relate to that ceiling scene where Yeo Reum said that when she's feeling stuck and yearning for something new, she wishes to wake up looking at a new ceiling above her. 

Or when Bom thanked Yeo Reum for teaching her to live in the moment - because sometimes, that's all we really need to do. 

I also felt Yeo Reum's pain and dilemma when she realized that her mere presence and her choices reminded the people she loved of their traumatic lives. I loved how Dae Beom lovingly reassured her that she was not to blame for anything and that each moment he spent with her made him happy. Never mind if Ji Young kept on being nosy and repeatedly asked Yeo Reum to leave (annoying as she might have been, I acknowledge that characters like Ji Young are sometimes needed to help the story move along). 

And Yeo Reum's great advice of following our hearts and only doing things that are worthwhile or things that you won't mind doing in a deserted island. And how that was running for her. And how that made Dae Beom realize that he didn't really want to pursue that Math project gig in Seoul. 

Thanks to these nuggets of wisdom, it was a joy to see our characters mature and evolve, especially Yeo Reum, Dae Beom, and Bom and how they refused to allow life's difficulties to define them and how they tried hard to overcome them. 

The death of Bom's grandma was definitely a turning point in the drama. It evoked a lot of feelings. It revealed a lot of dark secrets. Initially, I was scared that the drama and mystery angles would be excessive that they could take away the story's beauty. But thanks to the show's splendid story telling, it managed to weave all these stories together in a way that still kept the viewers engrossed. 

This part of the show really brought out solid acting from Shin Eun Soo. My favorite would have to be were her scenes at the funeral hall when she looked so distraught and she was being forced to eat by her best friend Dae Ho (Im Jae Hyuk). 

Seol Hyun was amazing too especially during those scenes when she waited outside the funeral hall and how she watched grandma's family from afar as they boarded the bus for the funeral. 

And there was that very touching and raw conversation between Bom and Yeo Reum. They didn't say much but you could feel the pain and resentment. I loved how honest they were with each other - not forcing things to be okay. And that was really meaningful especially after Yeo Reum's advice to Jae Hoon about letting people feel their feelings towards you, be it anger, hatred, etc. We are all entitled to feel our emotions the same way that we can still love people even if they have ill feelings towards us. 

While Dae Beom was initially kept in the dark about Grandma's death because he was so engrossed in his research, I loved how hearing that Yeo Reum was going through a tough time was sufficient to take him away from his research trance. And Ji Young won me over here because she chose to be the bigger person by letting Dae Beom know that Yeo Reum was leaving Angok, even if that could have been her chance to finally get rid of her competition. 

It was shocking and surprising to realize that the little seemingly insignificant things from the earlier episodes proved to be important in the end. And how the supposedly non-essential characters like the police (Park Ji Hoon of Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Squid Game, and Love Alarm) and his broker dad (Kim Hak Sun of Juror 8, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Hospital Playlist 2, Suits, Something in the Rain, and Fight for My Way) actually played big roles in resolving the mysteries surrounding Angok. 

It was nice to see Dae Beom and Yeo Reum teaming up to catch the real culprits. And how Dae Beom had to bravely conquer his fears and trauma to do that, just so they can clear Geun Ho's name. I liked that little closure scene Dae Beom had with his dad. And I loved how the show didn't force them to be clingy and lovey-dovey with each other after that. It was enough that Dae Beom was able to acknowledge to his dad that he was wrong. And it was definitely great to see Dae Beom find joy in Math again with Professor Holland. How that helped him be okay with making mistakes. 

Yes, there were sad stuff in the end. Dae Ho was back in jail. Jae Hoon momentarily left for the US. And Bom's dad went back to drinking just when his relationship with his children was getting better. Things were really tough for Bom but I believe that these misfortunes paved the way in restoring her relationship with Yeo Reum. And all's not lost because Jae Hoon came back for her. 

And I especially loved how Yeo Reum practically took up the role of being Bom and her brother's guardian. It's probably true that she stayed because she fell in love with Angok. But I suspect that Bom and her brother played a big role in Yeo Reum's decision too. She somehow felt responsible for them. And it also helped that Angok loved her too. 

I was happy with how there was closure on everything. Geun Ho and his family are healing with Geun Ho going back to school. Sung Min and Joon's family might be finally complete with Ji Young's constant presence in their lives. 

I loved the show's over all theme about how simplicity can be okay too. I totally agree with Yeo Reum's definition of happiness - it's about not lacking anything. We don't need to have it all. As long as we don't lack anything, then life should be perfectly fine. And that's definitely a good thing to take with us as we start a new year. 

Oppa says...4.8.

Noona says...4.75.