The emergence of new cable networks and their effort to join the already competitive drama landscape dominated by the over the air broadcasts of KBS, SBS, and MBC, has been great for fans of Korean drama. There are now plenty more options and plenty more opportunities for actors. Established Korean cable channels like tvN and OCN have produced dramas in the past (including some excellent ones like OCN’s Someday, one of the two series that first got me hooked on Korean drama), but while commercial and ratings success may still be a little ways away, new networks like TV Chosun, jTBC, MBN and Channel A have been able to inject some fresh blood in Korean drama land.
TV Chosun’s charming, romantic, and intriguing Operation Proposal is an example of that fresh effort.
Based on the Japanese drama Proposal Daisakusen, Operation Proposal is about Kang Baek Ho, a former baseball player in his late 20s who has just watched Ham Yi Seul (his best friend since childhood – who he is in love with) marry another man.
After the wedding, Baek Ho stumbles upon a (never delivered) letter written by Yi Seul back when they were in high school confessing her own feelings for him. Having never mustered up the courage to admit his feelings to her, Baek Ho is distraught and regretful at the realization she felt the same way about him as he feels towards her.
Suddenly, a man appears calling himself a time conductor and offers to let Baek Ho go back in time to give him an opportunity to change the past to, in turn, hopefully change the present and his relationship with Yi Seul.
The Conductor gives Baek Ho a potion to drink and gets transported back to their high school days. But the trip isn’t as simple as merely confessing his feelings to Yi Seul. Still lacking the courage to tell her how he feels and waiting for the right moment, he gets transported back to the present by the flash of a camera.
He’s back in the present and while some things have changed, Yi Seul is still marrying another man. This begins Baek Ho’s journey through time as the Conductor returns often, giving him chance after chance to go back to certain pivotal moments in the past that had a hand in changing the outcome of his relationship with Yi Seul.
Each time he travels back, Baek Ho believes he knows what he has to do differently than what he did originally, yet no matter what he does, he always returns to the present with the same outcome… Yi Seul is engaged to be married to another man.
Having finished watching Warrior Baek Dong Soo a few weeks ago, it is fun to see Yoo Seung Ho as Baek Ho, a role that is probably the complete opposite of Yeo Woon from the action saeguk drama.
Seung Ho has already proven himself to be a talented actor and he gets to show a softer side of him here. Operation Proposal rests on his shoulders and he carries it well, capturing your sympathy and support through his epic struggle and journey for love. You can’t help but root for him to eventually get the girl he loves.
And that girl is played wonderfully by Park Eun Bin who reunites with Yoo Seung Ho after playing husband and wife (they’re actually only 19 and 18 respectively!) in the epic MBC historical drama Queen Seon Dook three years ago. Eun Bin and Seung Ho share an honest, charming chemistry that immediately draws you in and makes you believe in their friendship and unrequited feelings for each other.
It is also an excellent effort from them having to play their characters from teens just before high school to mature adults in their late 20s.
The series also features a great supporting cast with Go Kyung Pyo (Jungle Fish 2) as aspiring filmmaker Chan Wook and Park Young Seo as the short and older looking for his age Tae Nam who is in love with Kim Ye Won (Romance Town) as the fun and flirty Chae Ri.
The five of them, plus Park Jin Joo as Jin Joo, a quiet but musically talented girl traumatized by the death of her parents, form a strong, relatable and realistic group of friends. Their chemistry as friends definitely helps carry the series as well.
And then there’s Lee Hyun Jin who plays “the other guy” Yi Seul seems destined to marry no matter what Baek Ho does in the past. His character is molded in the typical “2nd lead, nice guy that doesn’t get the girl” in which he seems like an absolute perfect catch and genuinely a good guy, but we all know who we’re supposed to be rooting for.
The series has a slick, cinematic look, though it could’ve distinguished and transitioned between past and present a little better. After a while the time jumps start to become a little confusing to keep track of, especially with some unexplained aspects of the whole deal.
There were questions, like how Baek Ho was able to easily orient himself in whatever time he was in or whether his memory was linear or not in terms of jumping back and forth between past and present.
I guess you can chalk it up to limitations of a 16 episode series, sure. But you were willing to overlook any of those inconsistencies and holes on the strength of the cast, their friendship, and wanting to stay on the roller coaster ride that was Baek Ho and Yi Seul’s relationship.
You appreciated the cute moments and the idea of the supernatural and time travel. There are some legitimate twists and turns you don’t expect to see. And the series balances the romance, friendship, and time traveling well before finishing off the series with a couple of traditional Korean drama tropes which don’t necessarily take away from the experience.
Sweet and Intriguing and Though Provoking
Operation Proposal is all about the epic journey Baek Ho takes for love, but becomes more about his realization that it’s better to be in the present.
At least, what I took away most from the show, is the interestingly thought provoking aspect of not regretting what’s happened in the past and instead looking towards the future. That everything happens for a reason and no matter how many times you wished you could go back to do things differently, the result in the present likely won’t be what you though it would be.
There’s sincere emotion, from love to friendship to pain. And Baek Ho serves as the center and our tour guide through the last 20 years of his life and the lives of their group of friends; their joys, their pains, their own respective growth and maturity.
It may not have been the smoothest ride, but Operation Proposal is a charming, sweet, intriguing adventure to take.
Watch Operation Proposal, the entire series on
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