First Impression: Into The Ring

It’s a year of romantic comedies, and our hearts are happy. Been watching too many makjang, heavy sageuk, whodunit, melodramas in the past couple months that this wave of new romcoms would be a breath of fresh air for this cabin fever.

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Drama Profile

Title: Memorials (English title) / Into The Ring / The Ballot (literal title)
Main Cast: Nana, Park Sung-hoon
Writer: Moon Hyun-kyeong
PD: Hwang Seung-ki (Justice, Radio Romance)
Time slot: 21:30H Wednesday and Thursday
Network: KBS2
Episodes: 32 (30 minutes each)
Genre: Romance Comedy / Political

Plot Synopsis:

Over-passionate poor girl, known in her hometown for constantly filing civil complaints, runs for a government office after getting involved with a fifth-grade public officer.

Major Trope:  Underdog Protagonist / Destined Connection / Birth Secret

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Grumpy Ahjumma’s Impression:

Well, first of all, casting Nana as the FL is the best decision for this material. My girl can deliver the funny scenes so well, and I’m super drawn to her complaint-loving character. She may be a typical heroine who wants to make a change after experiencing unjust treatment, but I like the way her redemption story is being presented. I see a bit of semblance of Ae-ra from Fight My Way in her. I have to admit, though, that I’m worried about the story’s foundation because Goo Se-ra is literally a nobody who became an electoral candidate overnight. She joined the local elections in dire need of money but soon realized that politics is a different stage. And now as she enters into the ring, she has to prove herself that she deserves to be the name listed in every voter’s ballot.

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Candidate No. 5 Goo Se-ra

Into The Ring‘s storytelling is just simple and I think the show will be banking on its colorful characters. Goo Se-ra’s dad Goo Young-tae (Ahn Gil-kang) is your ordinary appa with a day job. He used to be friends with the drama’s main villain Mawon District Assembly Chairman Jo Maeng-duk (Ahn Nae-sang). Obviously, the old friends went into different paths as they grew old, but they still keep in touch for some really awkward and uncomfortable favors. We met Se-ra’s mom Kim Sam-sook (Jang Hye-jin) as a complete pushover who got scammed into buying a store at a networking gathering. Wonder how she got the money despite their financial standing? Of course, she had to take a loan! And what’s more horrifying was she used the house as collateral for the bank. So essentially, Se-ra’s family is bound to be homeless sooner or later if they won’t be able to pay back the money.

Being perpetually laid off, Se-ra has been taking all jobs possible. She’s not your typical K-drama part-timer, though. She’s more on the creative side. She’s a graphic artist and a certified stenographer. Our girl is talented but her principled nature is what keeps her from getting a regular job.

The first two episodes highlighted how women have literally no power over their lives. They have no choice but to marry and have children as if having careers in 2020 is still taboo. I really hate it. Good thing, our girl is about to change that. She’s going to prove to the world that women are also powerful, just give us a chance.

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Promising OTP

Seo Gong-myung (Park Sung-hoon) is one cute ML. LOL. He is a blunt civil servant who got demoted to the Mawon District Office Service Center after getting on the bad side of the boss. He seemed mysterious at first, but I liked how we immediately got a glimpse of his back story in the pilot week. He lost his brother when he was still a child, and this incident scarred his relationship with his dad, District Assembly Chairman Jo Maeng-duk. To make matters more interesting, he changed his last name completely (I’m just not sure as to what extent or if he’s still in their family registry). So far, the only person who knows about his real identity (outside of his father’s pack) is Se-ra.

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I know it’s too early in the show but I’m already rooting for our main couple! It’s always annoying for dramas to recycle cliche tropes, but again, when it’s done right, it will really work. And for Into The Ring, it works. Underdog heroine who’s bound to change her small world? Check. Childhood connection between the main leads? Go! As long as it’s tasteful and not forced, I’m all for it.

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