Web Drama (2016) 10 Short Episodes
Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

I would not be honest if I said this 2016 web drama Dramaworld had me gripped for every moment of the story as it unfolded, but it was fresh and funny, plus it was good to see Asian actors working along side Caucasian actors in a positive, upbeat way. The show was largely fun due to the impish sweetness and sincerity of the leading actress from Australia, Liv Hewson, who was full of energy and spunk. Her expressions often had me giggling. She is an excellent actress, mostly known before this for theater work, and the perfect pick for the lead role as a character who miraculously finds herself lifted out of reality and dropped smack dab in the middle of her favorite K-drama, the fictional Taste Of Love. The production was filmed in both Los Angeles and Seoul. We need to see more shows like this, with Americans and Koreans working together to create a bridge of understanding between the two countries.

All the other actors were fine too: American male lead (and co-producer) Sean Dulake
, who is fluent in both Korean and English so that there was no awkwardness there, Justin Chon as the eventual slimy villain, and Bae Noor Ri (Beloved, Cheers To Me) whose character turns out to be a love rival -- in a rare good way -- for the main male lead character's affections.

However, as the story progresses, it's obvious to the audience that it's the
Caucasian girl who has captured the Asian man's romantic attentions. This was a breath of fresh air because rarely, if ever, do we see a romance between Asians and Caucasians in Korean dramas. I'm sure it's partly a language problem that prevents this from happening more often, but even more so a cultural difference. There were also cameos by Korean drama actors like Han Ji Min and adorable Siwon Choi (presently in the military) and those were fun to watch.

Liv Hewson and her two leading men:
Sean Dulake and Justin Chon

The Story

Claire Duncan (Liv Hewson) is an energetic twenty year old college student living with her Dad in L.A. and helping him to run his restaurant as a cashier and waitress. Her one big "vice" is that she is obsessed with Korean drama, even letting them play on her cell phone while she is working, which irks her father. Her favorite actor is Joon Park (Sean Dulake) and he is currently playing the lead in her favorite drama Taste Of Love. Joon Park is the man of her dreams and all other men fall short in her estimation. Claire's only escape from the drudgery of work and school is the glamour and excitement this drama Taste of Love provides for her.

Claire's little world is turned upside down when, like Dorothy going to Oz, she is knocked out in the restaurant and finds herself sucked into her cellphone and transported inside the world of Taste Of Love. Stuck inside this alternate universe in Seoul, called Dramaworld, Claire amazingly gets to meet Joon Park in the flesh; his character is starting up a restaurant, against his formidable mother's wishes, and the script calls for him to fall in love with a pretty but poor junior cook named Seo Yeon (Bae Noo Ri). (The restaurant set up kind of reminded me a bit of 2010's Pasta, with Gong Hyo Jin).


However, now that Claire seems to have become a second female lead in this drama, she can't just simply watch the drama unfold, rather she's got to be part of it. She is given a book of Do's and Don'ts for Dramaworld by Seth (Justin Chon), the main "Facilitator" (like an assistant director). The biggest "don't" is to inform any of the characters that they are in fact in a drama, acting, and not masters of their own fates. Claire is very chatty, can she possibly get through this adventure without telling Joon Park that he isn't real, that he is in fact a fictional character in a show, and that when this drama is over he'll be an entirely different character in yet another drama?

As the story proceeds, with Claire and Joon Park falling in love, changing the direction of the original script, Seth's anger is aroused because Claire is breaking the rules of Dramaworld. Seth isn't exactly as friendly and supportive as he appears in the beginning to Claire. He harbors resentments against the leading man Joon Park, and fancies himself a better actor, and a better fit for the female cook Seo Yeon, who was supposed to be Joon Park's love. He loses his temper when, even after he saves Seo Yeon's life, she still doesn't warm to him. Eventually Seth's character even buys out Joon Park's restaurant and tries to have him killed.

The hilarious cameo of Siwon ~ shot before he entered the military

The cameos, particularly by Han Ji Min and Siwon Choi, are truly funny. Han Ji Min plays against her usual type of sweet young thing: she never smiles and she bosses people around. Siwon ends up in a drama cliche moment when a vehicle hits him, he survives and looks up to see a worried Claire trying to help him up. He professes he has found the girl of his dreams, but before anything more can happen the scene suddenly ends. Guess that frees up delectable Siwon for me, huh?

The typical cliches of K-dramas are spoofed often in the drama, which to experienced K-drama fans was awfully funny to see. This shows me the industry is well aware of them and they keep using them because they WORK. They keep the audience interested in the plot, while rolling their eyes at the same time and saying "Again?" at their TV screens. I wonder if it is possible for them to create ANY drama without them? That would be a novelty -- try writing a K-drama script without using a single one of them.

The story ends with refreshing hilarity, and hopefully we will get a second season of ten more episodes to complete the romance between Joon Park and Claire. At least we FINALLY got to see kisses between a white woman and an Asian man. You gotta start somewhere to cross the way too strict racial divides between the U.S. and Korea. It's the 21st century, and as it progresses I don't want to say in another ten years, "The twenty first century? Why I could pick a century out of a hat blindfolded and find a better one!"

Don't expect Shakespeare. Have fun with it! I certainly did.