Encounter (also known as Boyfriend) is an opposites story that follows the complicated romance between a free-spirited ordinary man (Park Bo Gum) who seems to have nothing and the wealthy CEO (Song Hye Kyo) of a hotel who seems to have everything but is unhappy with her life.
Encounter was a pretty hyped up drama because of the casting of Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo. It was the comeback project for each after having very successful previous dramas. But the drama seemed to draw mixed reactions from fans.
For many, it was a love it or hate it kind of drama. I ended up falling somewhere in the middle. Encounter has its pros and cons along with a distinct romance melodrama genre that won’t work for everybody.
Song Hye Kyo plays Cha Soo Hyun. She is the daughter of a politician and the CEO of a hotel. She has led a lonely life where she has been in the eye of the public and unable to do as she wants. But that begins to change when she meets a man named Jin Hyuk.
Park Bo Gum is Kim Jin Hyuk. He is an ordinary man who recently became a rookie employee at Soo Hyun’s hotel company. And I think he may just be the perfect man! He is a bright ray of sunshine with a smile that lights up the room.
He also has this innocence and sweet spirit that just make him so endearing. His thoughtfulness and compassion for others runs deep, and he genuinely cares for Soo Hyun more than himself and puts her needs above his. I really don’t think this man had a single flaw. When I say perfect, I mean perfect, hehe.
We get a bit of role reversal from what is usually seen in Dramaland with Encounter. In this story, it is the woman who is the rich CEO of a company with the man as the newbie employee. It’s a similar type of story to what we’ve seen many times before, but the reversal adds a fresh dynamic to it. Plus, she’s a bit older than him which gives us a nice noona romance too.
I loved the first episode set in Havana, Cuba. It creates such a rich and free-spirited atmosphere. It was definitely a romantic setting for our couple’s first encounters. The whole drama has this very artistic quality to it that comes across as very thoughtful.
Then we head back to Korea where the dynamic between a CEO and an employee comes to the forefront in a world that has very much placed them apart. They have a difficult road and many challenges to face.
I think Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo went surprisingly well together. They had an easy going rapport between them that resulted in a sweet chemistry. Their relationship felt very gentle and nurturing as they provided a safe haven for each other in the midst of a tumultuous world.
Sadly, everything outside of Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo was fairly dull for me. Nothing particularly bad, just that everything and everyone felt very average. The supporting characters didn’t really stand out and just sort of played their parts. I also thought Jang Seung Jo was terribly under-utilized as Soo Hyun’s ex-husband.
My interest in the actual story waxed and waned throughout the drama. Sometimes I was very engaged, and other times I wasn’t at all. It was like all of the makings of a good melodrama were present in the show with the scheming mothers, jealous ex-husbands, pining friends, and the class divide, but there simply wasn’t a lot of tension to be found. The drama just had an odd tone to it that many times felt slow.
A lot of the best parts were the ends of the episodes where we had a brief tense moment followed by our couple putting their love first. But then we were quickly back to normal. I think for me the problem was that there just weren’t a lot of the normal theatrics we see in many dramas since Jin Hyeok and Soo Hyun dealt with everything fairly easily. The obstacles were there, they just didn’t seem to pose that much of a problem to the couple as most were quickly solved.
Now on the plus side, that meant our couple faced these challenges head on. There wasn’t as much succumbing to all of these external factors like we are used to seeing. They decided they wanted a relationship and moved forward with that intention.
They communicated quite well, understood the risks they were taking, and stood up for each other. That makes for a pretty healthy relationship. But that healthy of a relationship makes for a lack of excitement on my part. What can I say, I like lots of drama and theatrics, lol.
We do finally get a fairly big challenge for the pair towards the end of the drama though as they have to fully face the harsh reality of what being together means. Something to really test their relationship. And that added in some of that angst that I like so much.
Despite the drawbacks, Jin Hyeok and Soo Hyun’s relationship still continued to delight me throughout the drama. I loved watching them go on simple dates, be giddy, and see them nurture each other. The drama most excelled at telling their story. It was a beautiful relationship filled with healing. And they are what made the drama enjoyable enough.
Overall, Encounter was a bit slow and lacking punch, but the romance makes the drama. If you like stories with a heavy focus on romance, this drama is a great fit. And even better if you like a mature couple that communicates well and face obstacles head on while lovingly supporting each other. But personal taste is likely to be heavily at play as to whether Encounter will be a love it or hate it kind of drama for you.
My Rating: 6.5/10
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