Backstreet Rookie Korean Drama Review

Backstreet Rookie is set in a 24 hour convenience store and follows the romance between the awkward store owner (Ji Chang Wook) and a new quirky part time worker (Kim Yoo Jung) he hires as they get to know each other and fall in love.

Ji Chang Wook plays Choi Dae Hyun. He’s a kind and awkward sort of guy who runs a convenience store. When he needs help at the store, he ends up hiring a woman he briefly encountered in his past that has a major crush on him.

Kim Yoo Jung is Jung Saet Byul. She is a confident and feisty woman with great fighting skills. She only has eyes for Dae Hyun and gets a job working at his convenience store just to be near him.

Then we have Han Sun Hwa as Yoo Yeon Joo. She is Dae Hyun’s girlfriend, but the pair definitely have some issues. Finally, there is Do Sang Woo as Jo Seung Joon. He is the head at the corporate office of Dae Hyun’s store.

Backstreet Rookie is a fluffy romantic comedy. Not a whole lot happens, but we do get several relationship journeys in the midst of the comedy. This drama really took some serious warming up to for me.

I found the first 4 episodes pretty slow and unengaging. As I mentioned, it didn’t feel like much was happening. Plus, the humor wasn’t really landing for me most of the time which is a necessity for me when the plot is thin.

It took until about episode 5 before I started liking it. The drama sort of grew on me. I still didn’t click with most of the comedy, but I found the main characters quirky and fun and eventually enjoyed their little stories. I didn’t much care for any of the supporting characters though.

Ji Chang Wook and Kim Yoo Jung are the backbone of the drama for sure. This type of character is Ji Chang Wook’s specialty with his awkwardly charming and sweet personality. And Kim Yoo Jung really brings it with Saet Byul as a feisty and kick-butt woman who doesn’t hold back.

There is a lot of fluff even with them, but the pair are cute together and nice to watch. Then we do get some heartfelt moments as they get to know one another.

Now, this is where my main issue with the drama comes in. Dae Hyun has a girlfriend, Yeon Joo, at the beginning of the drama. While this is common in dramas where the main lead is in a relationship with someone else at first, the couple usually splits somewhat quickly so the focus can shift to the main pairing.

Not so with Backstreet Rookie! Dae Hyun and Yeon Joo are together for a huge chunk of the drama. They have all kinds of issues and much of the main plot revolves around them and all of their misunderstandings.

It kind of felt like a weird reversal where she was the one catching Dae Hyun and Saet Byul in awkward situations where it’s usually the opposite with the main female lead getting the wrong idea about the guy and the second female lead.

Plus, Dae Hyun doesn’t have feelings for Saet Byul during this time. Yes, he cares for her, but he obviously loves his girlfriend. So, I found it near impossible to root for them as a couple in this situation.

SPOILER: Two-thirds of the way into the drama, Dae Hyun and Yeon Joo finally split. Whew! That sure took a while! END OF SPOILER

Eventually, we can easily root for Dae Hyun and Saet Byul as a couple. They continue to be cute, but things never get too swoony or too deep. I would say the individual character stories were more solid and gave more feels.

Saet Byul has a decent backstory that allows for some very emotional moments throughout her character journey. Things do get a bit angsty briefly towards the end of the drama, but the rom-com elements hold firm.

Backstreet Rookie was an okay watch overall. It’s mostly light with the focus on comedy. Our main couple didn’t get to really start their relationship until way too deep into the drama for my liking.

That coupled with the unengaging start, thin plot, and not particularly likable supporting characters just never allowed me to love the drama. It is cute though, and Ji Chang Wook and Kim Yoo Jung played their roles well. It’s a good fit if you just want something easy and fun.

My Rating: 6/10

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About Kay

Greetings! I’m Kay, creator and author of Kdrama Kisses. Kdrama Kisses is dedicated to bringing you the latest in kdrama casting news, drama trailers, reviews, and more. Happy drama watching to everyone!
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17 Responses to Backstreet Rookie Korean Drama Review

  1. Jermena says:

    ‘…Ji Chang Wook’s specialty; his awkwardly charming and sweet personality’ I totally agree with you. That is one of the things I enjoy about JCW. From Empress Ki when I first saw him and fell in love with his acting to Healer recently. He is just sooooo good at pulling off those roles🤣😘

    And, I also enjoy his roles when he is being all macho and serious😋

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay says:

      I do love Ji Chang Wook in those sweet, awkward roles. He’s just perfect for them! And he was that in this drama for sure.

      That was also what made his character in Empress Ki likable. It was a challenging character, but Ji Chang Wook’s softness made him more sympathetic 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jermena says:

        Exactement!!! Well put…JCW really is such a talent. I really disliked Ta hwan so badly, but I admit there were several moments I warmed up to him just because I couldn’t ignore JCW’s likeable character that shone through to Ta hwan.

        I do hope we will be seeing JCW in more dope dramas😋

        Liked by 1 person

  2. D says:

    I dropped this one within first 4 episodes. I could not go on. Now that I’ve read your review, I am so glad I dropped it. I really like both the leads but I wouldn’t have been able to stand the plot – especially the girlfriend angle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kay says:

      I would have dropped it after 4 eps if Ji Chang Wook and Kim Yoo Jung hadn’t been the leads. I did think it got a bit better after that, but honestly, it’s very so-so, and the plot is weak. Tons of better dramas out there! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate says:

    Another forgettable JCW drama – too many of those lately 😦 I love him so much and just dying to see him in something I can enjoy again. This drama had potential but pretty quick out of the gate it was clearly not “the one”. I did stick with it all the way but if it was anyone other than JCW i definitely would have dropped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      That’s about like me, mostly sticking it out for Ji Chang Wook and Kim Yoo Jung. There were definitely elements I liked, but it was just okay. Not one I would really recommend except to Ji Chang Wook fans, hehe 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Not the best of romance/comedy. The main couple, Choi Dae Hyun and Jung Saet Byul, just don’t have great chemistry. In fact for the majority of the show Choi Dae Hyun seems to be really into his original girlfriend. I was actually hoping he would stay with Yoo Yeon Joo since he seemed to have no romantic interest in Jung Saet Byulin for the first 9 episodes (out of 16 on US Netflix) The romance starts in episode 10 and the show gets better but still lacking the main character chemistry.

    The romance between Aphrodite and Volcano Fire didn’t get much screen time but it was one of the bright spots in this show.

    SPOILER: Interesting ending. Jung Saet Byul accepts Choi Dae Hyun confession of love and the camera then immediately backs out of the closeup of the two and shows the set with the whole film crew. I have mixed feelings on this. It was nice to see the whole film crew and the set that the convenience store was set in. I was very surprised to see it was a film set and not a real live store and street. I felt that breaking away from the actors and immediately showing the set and crew destroyed the good feeling of a happy ending.

    Look elsewhere for a good rom/com. Rating 6.5

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Yep, I had the same issues with the romance. Dae Hyun was with his girlfriend way too long if they wanted us to really feel the development between him and Saet Byul. It had its cute and fun moments, but definitely just a so-so drama. The ending was indeed interesting. I agree, kind of takes you out of it, but also neat to see everyone together and the set 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. NightStar says:

    This drama was Really good but also very disappointing to me. I really expected more when it comes to the main leads relationship. The whole story was very good I think the main lead romance started off interesting even though it would have you kinda against the main lead. Just because he’s in a relationship and he is getting close to another girl. But what made the story really good was the fact that they gave us viewers a chance to see the reason on why he would loose feeling for his girlfriend.The disappointing part for me is, I wish they would have given the main leads more romantic screen time. I Feel like we didn’t really get much when it comes to them being in a relationship. Their was only one kiss between the two Their was no date, No deep connection between the two. Half of the series was just about the main lead trying to make his girlfriend happy meanwhile his Part timer (Main lead )was third wheeling the whole time . In all I wish Their was more it’s a good show but I wouldn’t recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Sounds like you had a similar experience to me with this one. It definitely had it’s good parts, but it was also disappointing. I too wish the relationship was handled better. It took way to long for him to move on from his girlfriend which took away the romantic potential of the main couple for a huge chunk of the drama. Too much of the relationship development was saved for the latter part. It’s too bad since I enjoyed both actors and their characters individually, and they were quite cute when they did get to have those couple moments.


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