The 2018-2019 Olive drama series Dear My Room (Eunjoo’s Room/은주의 방) is a bright, hopeful slice-of-life series that tells the story of young, everyday people working to find themselves and their path in life.
Ryu Hye Young is the titular Shim Eunjoo who abruptly quits her job after suffering from overwork. Unable to quickly find a new one, Eunjoo is down and unhappy. That is until her best friend Seo Min Seok (Kim Jae Young) gifts her a new living room lighting fixture and is soon inspired to begin redesigning her messy, moldy apartment herself.
Dear My Room focuses on Eunjoo trying to find herself and regain her confidence as well as Eunjoo and Minseok’s developing relationship from best friends to something more.
Both main threads work into the overall theme of young adults navigating their everyday lives. However routine or difficult their lives may be, they must find ways to deal and overcome. The supporting characters are able to present many different experiences and situations young adults may go through.
Though the runtime of each of the 12 episodes is relatively shorter than other Korean dramas, each supporting character gets an adequate amount of time to tell their own story in a way that is relatable for the audience.
One fascinating aspect of the series is that while it is based on a webtoon, it almost feels sort of like a psuedo-commercial for CJ Group’s Olive Young stores which they visit a few times in-series. (And the stores certainly look very inviting.) Olive is of course a lifestyle channel under CJ ENM’s E&M Division, part of the greater, huge CJ conglomerate.
But that Do It Yourself aspect of the series (including the short DIY videos at the end of most of the episodes) fit perfectly with that lifestyle brand. And it perfectly complements the characters’ journeys to finding themselves and how they want to move forward.
For our title character, seeing her building that confidence through learning and becoming more comfortable with the DIY projects in her apartment is a great and humble way to express the feelings of the series’ theme. Eunjoo also helps a few people in similar situations after they reach out to her hoping for her help in also freshening up their living spaces and thus their lives as well.
The parallel between Eunjoo improving her apartment from its previously shabby state and her recovering from stress of overworking and the difficulty in finding a new job is handled so well in the story. Sometimes, a refresher of one’s surroundings can help brighten up one’s everyday world. And that change can lead to even more positive outcomes.
Part of Eunjoo’s growth is also thanks to the support of her best friend Minseok. Even before any of the romance, their friendship is definitely a highlight. It is great to see a real and sincere friendship between a man and a woman without the need to force some kind of romantic plot.
That said, when the romance does finally appear in the story, it is after an organic progression in their relationship.
Starting out as great platonic BFFs (likely with lingering feelings over the years, as they met when they were pre-teens) we see them fall more in love with each other in a natural and very believable way. It never feels forced and the situations are always in a realistic and grounded manner. They don’t help each other only because they have romantic feelings for each other. They are actually friends looking out for one another, first and foremost.
The chemistry between Ryu Hye Young and Kim Jae Young is excellent and natural. And that is in addition to both being strong actors in their own right. Both are such charming and charismatic leads who immediately grab your attention and welcome you by their side. It is hard to resist rooting for them and their relationship.
And that’s certainly not an easy thing to do. (Other series surprisingly fail with that simple aspect.)
The rest of its cast including Park Ji Hyun, Yun Ji On, Park Jin Woo, the prolific Kim Sun Young and more all do a great job to add to the layers and depth of the meaningful stories.
I’ve used “slice-of-life” to describe several dramas I’ve enjoyed the last few months. But this really is a stylish, aesthetically pleasing slice-of-life drama. There’s no looming threat or mystery. No one has the same problems to overcome or challenges to face. We are merely following the relatable and interesting lives of young people just finding their way.
At its heart is a sincere friendship that develops into something more. But essentially, Dear My Room is a positive, hopeful and sincere series about personal growth and finding yourself. A wonderful, heartfelt story to enjoy.