Blue Birthday
Naver TV Cast Web Drama (2021)
16 Episodes, Grade: B+
First Love Romance, Time Travel
, Thriller
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

A very potent web drama, starring an adorable young couple (Kim Yerim, Yang Hongseok) who were pretty unknown to me, but who ended up mightily impressing me with their fine acting skills, Blue Birthday (2021) gripped me early on, and kept me fixated on it, causing me to ignore all other Korean dramas streaming around the same time! When that happens to me it's usually because the writing, with its excellent cliffhangers at the end of each episode, surprises me with its unique qualities, and keeps me hooked. After you've watched close to seven hundred Korean dramas you look for unusual plots, and not the "same old, same old". The firm direction by Park Dan Hee here was a notch above many other web dramas I've watched over the years as well; the drama never strayed too far from its basic poignant story line of young love lost, with the possibility of that same young love being restored through some strange time travel trips into the past.

It was never fully explained, but only hinted at, that the title using the word blue refers to a peculiar birthday of one of the lead characters, a birthday that unexpectedly leads to a character's death. The lead couple were to spend an afternoon together, confessing their love for each other, but tragedy strikes, and so what should have been a happy occasion becomes a sad (blue) birthday instead.

For part of the drama we travel ten years into the future to see how the surviving sweetheart has moved on emotionally, and come to terms with that premature death of such a beloved friend. It soon becomes apparent that not much healing had ever really taken place in her life, which results in some very bizarre and unpredictable events that become the foundation of the tale.

The Story:

We are introduced to the intriguing Oh Ha Rin (lovely Yerim, in basically her first acting role, and boy did she deliver!) a twenty-eight year old young woman who works at an animal rescue clinic, but who has never really gotten over the mysterious death of her dearest and closest friend in high school, named Ji Seo Jun (Yang Hongseok), ten years earlier. She has tried her best to heal from his death, and move on (and working with cute animals helps!), but she is often reminded of Seo Jun, since she still stays in contact with their mutual friends from high school (played by Kim Gyeol Yu, Lee Sang Joon, Park Joo Hyun, and Lee Dong Joo) who often talk about Seo Jun because they miss him, too.

In flashbacks to a decade earlier, we learn that on the fateful day when Ha Rin turned eighteen, she had resolved to finally confess to Seo Jun her romantic feelings for him, instead of just friendship. They were to meet in the photography room at school, since Seo Jun was a photography fan, but when Ha Rin arrived she discovered in shock Seo Jun dead on the floor, his wrist cut. His death is ruled a suicide, but the problem is that neither Ha Rin nor her classmates can understand what could have motivated Seo Jun to take his life: he had always seemed an upbeat person to them, not someone prone to depression. And why would he kill himself when he was looking forward to spending special time with his best friend on her birthday?


In a rather spooky way the adult Ha Rin discovers a note from Seo Jun in which he had confessed his romantic feelings for Ha Rin, just as Ha Rin had planned to do as well on that fateful birthday. Looking at this confession after so many years Ha Rin is devastated all over again. In addition, while looking through his belongings, she discovers a pile of eight previously unseen photos that Seo Jun had kept hidden away in an odd place. They were pictures of them together in high school, in happy days. In total distress Ha Rin burns one of the photographs and suddenly she is catapulted into the past! She is back in high school at the exact moment the photo she burned had been taken! (Now THAT is a unique time travel plot device, certainly more original than characters falling through rain puddles, or entering caves or tunnels!).

Ha Rin quickly realizes that she has been given a miraculous gift: she will now have seven more times to travel back into the past and possibly find out the real reason Seo Jun had died. All she has to do is burn each photo one by one in order to travel back to her high school days and try to figure out the real reason her best friend, and sweetheart, had died. Will she keep her detective work to herself, or will she confide in some of her old classmates so that they can help her along in discovering the truth?

Cutie Pie Second Male Lead Character Cha Eun Song
Who Of Course Is In Love With Ha Rin, too!
Cha Eun Song is played by Lee Sang Joon

Ha Rin realizes she needs to be patient and wise in choosing when to go back in time, and under what circumstances. If she wants to prevent Seo Jun's death on her eighteenth birthday she must be prudent: act more like a detective than a young girl who hasn't even graduated high school yet!

The story leads us down unexpected paths, and it kind of surprised me (though maybe it shouldn't have) how much of the real reason Seo Jun died had to do with his unusual family life. He had been adopted by a married couple because he had looked like a son of theirs who had died, and this had weighed heavy on him for years. They hadn't loved him for himself? At the same time, his adoptive sister (Kim Yi Seo, excellent performance) had disappeared (we are to believe kidnapped by a sexual predator, but since this a show aimed at young people primarily they obviously didn't want to go into that too much!), and when she is returned to her family she is scarred. We come to learn, slowly, that she could be quite capable of violence herself to get what she wanted. So, Seo Jun's happy upbeat ways at school were obviously a front that his friends didn't pick up on. Something much deeper had been going on and he had kept it from them, even from Ha Rin. Was it enough to make him take his own life, though?


Can Ha Rin effectively discover the real truth behind Seo Jun's death, and even more importantly, can she prevent it from happening again by her additional time travels back into the past to uncover who could have wanted Seo Jun gone? What will happen to Ha Rin once she burns the eighth, and last, photograph from their high school days? What time period will she remain in?

If you like a well written, suspenseful web drama featuring some excellent young performers (who have great chemistry together!) then definitely check Blue Birthday out. I watched on Viki but I heard it also began appearing on YouTube. Take your pick! :)



I got a kick out of one of the animals who appeared in the drama;
the cute Pomeranian who looked a lot like Mimi in Do Sol Sol Lah Lah Sol!
I couldn't confirm if it was the same animal, named Byul in real life,
but I wouldn't be surprised: that pup is a great little actor! :)

Mu Ji!