KBS’ Going to You at a Speed of 493km (너에게 가는 속도 493km) is a charming and relatable slice of life story about growing up and overcoming the everyday struggles and hardships of life. I will refer to the series using its original Korean title as I feel that it better captures the series’ wonderfully poetic storytelling and direction than the more generic English title of Love All Play. The series is a balanced blend of lighthearted romantic drama and coming of age angst. The characters’ personal stories and relationships provide the backbone for the series’ 16 episodes. And the talented young and veteran cast do an excellent job bringing them to life.
Going to You at a Speed of 493km follows Park Tae Yang (Park Ju Hyun), formerly one of the most promising badminton athletes, as she tries to get back in the game after being away for three years. Reaching for her dreams once again starts out difficult as the badminton world, including her new teammates at Team Yunis, are not too welcoming to her due to the supposed scandal that drove her away from the sport.
Another promising badminton player, Park Tae Joon (Chae Jong Hyeop), is at first the only one on her side as he too wants to reach for the stars in the sport even when his family isn’t the most supportive of those dreams.
The “Park Twins,” as the two are called by their coaches, must juggle between their personal and professional lives and of course the natural romantic attraction they immediately have for each other. Having to persevere in the midst of seemingly unsurmountable hurdles help to drive them and each other toward their goals.
Like I mentioned earlier, Going to You at a Speed of 493km manages to capture that journey in a poetic way. That which safely delivers the slice of life and character-driven story beats on point throughout the series. Depicting the struggles of both elite athletes and everyday civilians provides the opportunity for humble, sincere and relatable stories. All making the Korean title all the more relevant and appropriate.
The series takes those everyday struggles and hardships and explores how relationships with family and friends can be affected by such things over time. There are many quiet and contemplative moments to go with the legitimately thrilling sports action and charming romance. And not just with our two main characters either.
Elite national athlete Yook Jung Hwan (Kim Mu Jun) resents Tae Yang for something that’s happened in the past between them while also clashing with emerging rival Tae Joon. Meanwhile, Lee Yoo Min (Seo Ji Hye), a badminton player on another team and daughter of the Yunis coach (Jo Han Chul), asserts herself when she develops feelings for Jung Hwan and aims to help him move on from a past love.
The four characters regularly come together in ways that provide needed depth to their respective stories as well as propel overarching threads forward. Add in the equally interesting stories of their teammates and you’ve got a full 16 episodes of engaging storytelling.
What’s even better is that stories featuring the series’ supporting characters never takes away from the stories of our lead pair. And vice versa as well. They all work hand-in-hand.
Park Ju Hyun and Chae Jong Hyeop effortlessly lead a talented young and veteran cast. Their chemistry alone is enough to carry the series if needed. But thankfully, the series has many positive moving pieces that together make for a strong whole.
Park Ju Hyun has already proven herself to be a capable lead actress. Bursting onto the scene with a commanding performance in Netflix’s Extracurricular and since then tackling varied, but equally engaging roles, Park Ju Hyun brings that experience here to make Tae Yang a fully realized character. With both charisma and vulnerability, Park Ju Hyun makes Tae Yang an engaging and multi-faceted character who drives much of the series’ stories. But never overshadows the series’ other many moving parts.
Chae Jong Hyeop is a talented actor who definitely deserves more lead roles. And he proves that he can deliver that and then some here as Tae Joon. Immediately endearing (like he has been in his other major roles such as those in Nevertheless and Sisyphus), Chae Jong Hyeop’s charm and charisma allows him to handle both lighthearted and dramatic moments with ease.
The supporting cast more than does their job as well. Kim Mu Jun and Seo Ji Hye are a great second lead couple whose story doesn’t only center around romantic angst. But they are irresistibly charming when they do.
Park Ji Hyun, who has also done more than enough to warrant bigger roles for herself once again shows why as Park Joon Young, a former elite badminton player who has since gone off the grid. And whose disappearance affects our main characters deeply.
Now, we can’t ignore the comparison to another badminton-based series that aired around this same time last year. What’s great though is that Going to You at a Speed of 493km is just as wonderful as SBS’ 2021 series Racket Boys. And even better, while both share many of the same qualities such as great characters, excellent cast and all the effective emotional feels, they also have their own unique qualities as well. Qualities that make each distinct and well-done in their own right.
While Racket Boys focused a bit more on community and family, Going to You at a Speed of 493km has a bigger focus on young adults and what they must go through to grow up in a world and society that seems to try and bring them down at every turn.
This series even reminds me of another series too. KBS’ At a Distance, Spring is Green aired around the same time last year as well. And like that series, Going to You at a Speed of 493km does an effective and emotionally resounding job at depicting those struggles of today’s youth and how the relationships around them can help or hurt them on their journeys.
Overall, an excellent cast effortlessly brings to life engaging characters to tell a deep and relatable story. With a poetic flair to enhance the slice of life, character-driven storytelling, Going to You at Speed of 493km delivers a satisfying and empathetic series that sets itself apart from the louder and perhaps more broad dramas that have aired so far this year.