XX (엑스엑스) MBC (2020) 5 Episodes
Feminist Melodrama Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA (Some Spoilers)
I stumbled on this short
Korean drama, called rather strangely XX, from
early 2020, and since I had heard nothing about it
online, no buzz whatsoever, I didn't know what to
expect, but out of curiosity dove in to find out what
it was all about.
My first impression was that the two lead actresses,
Hani and Hwang Seung Eon, were VERY believable in
their parts, and extremely pretty. I'm not sure if
I've ever seen them in anything else, but they were
perfect casting for their roles. Both played ambitious
characters who had had a past together as friends, but
not in the way you might expect going in. Flashbacks
during the drama slowly revealed what made them the
business-inclined, feminist working women they were in
the present day. Each of the five episodes averaged
around 50 minutes long, so you could easily watch this
entire drama in one or two sittings - perfect for when
you are between longer dramas and desire something
interesting to watch while you're waiting for the next
masterpiece to show up on the schedule.
Intelligent, and rather quiet, self-possessed Na Na
(Hani) is the head bartender and manager of a popular,
but out of the way city bar and nightclub called “XX”.
In this profession she is known throughout the city as
an entrepreneur type of business person who has been
very creative and successful in unorthodox ways, like
creating new drink cocktails (watch out for that one
called "Between The Sheets", uh oh!), and
deliberately keeping her bar dark inside to make
customers feel like they've entered a private place
where their conversations will not be monitored. In
many ways she owns the bar, since the real owner never
shows up to check on things.
Then the unseen owner sells the
nightclub without notice to a rich young woman named
Roo Mi (Hwang Seung Eon), whose wealthy father has
given her the money to invest in her own business. She
makes a dramatic appearance at the bar and announces
she's the new owner, which leaves Na Na in shock,
since she had known Roo Mi years earlier and they had
been friends. Roo Mi had stolen Na Na's boyfriend at
the time away from her, and their friendship had
dissolved into bitterness.
Now years later, Na Na
tries to be professional with Roo Mi, but the new
owner certainly likes to challenge her old friend
right away. For instance, she wants to dramatically
change the appearance of the bar, brighten it up with
expensive lights so customers no longer feel any sense
of privacy while drinking, and she wants to put up a
bright neon light outside, which Na Na considers
tacky. Na Na flat out tells Roo Mi that if she wants
her to stick around as head bartender / manager she
should do away with those updating ideas immediately.
Nothing is going to change at XX, demands Na Na!
Feeling in a bind, Roo Mi tentatively agrees and
things calm down between them. For awhile.
Then Na Na discovers that the man Roo Mi is currently
seeing, a lawyer named Kyu Min (Kim Joon Kyung), is
married with young children. Na Na devises a way to
let everyone at this evil dude's place of employment
discover that he is cheating on his wife, and of
course that abruptly ends the adulterer's
extra-curricular romance with Roo Mi. (This girl
has guts! I kept saying, talking back to the TV, LOL). Maybe
there was a little "getting even" in that situation on
Na Na's part, since years earlier Roo Mi had stolen
her boyfriend too. Through all this Na Na is learning
real lessons in humility, and though it's painful to
watch, the audience's sympathy grows toward her, as we
see her straighten out her life and clean it up.
Na Na's male co-worker
at the bar serving drinks is a nice young man named
Dan Hee (Bae In Hyuk - he played my
favorite character), and it's obvious he cares about her
a lot, but he never makes any romantic moves toward her
at all. They remain trusted friends and co-bartenders at
XX. Perhaps Dan Hee thinks that Na Na is romantically
involved with someone already, because he knows she has
a male roommate named Jung Deun (Lee Jong Won). Only
later does he find out that the roommate is a gay man,
and then he is relieved and finally gathers the strength
to let Na Na know that he cares for her in a romantic
Just when it seems things
are calming down in everyone's lives, who should come
back into their lives but the old boyfriend named Tae Hyun (Shin Jae Hwi)
that Roo Mi had stolen away from Na Na years earlier.
Turns out he's just as slimy as ever and he comes back
making mischief in both their lives, both personally
and professionally. (I kept yelling at my TV
again, to both girls, "Slap him in the face! He
needs it!" LOL).
Will everything resolve itself peacefully, or will the
sleazy old boyfriend ruin everything for everyone?
Check out XX to see the final - and very fun -