Amidst the seriousness of other crime mystery K-dramas, Café Minamdang opened and showed the fans of this genre that such a story could also be told in a funny and light-hearted manner.
This Seo In-guk and Oh Yeon-seo starrer has a compelling main premise and endearing characters that one couldn’t help but like. The first few episodes introduced the charm of its character and piqued the interest of its viewer with its intriguing main plot. Although admittedly, the series wasn’t perfect. The plot progression became inconsistent at some point – with some episodes packed with fast-paced important revelations while some bursts with dismissible filler side stories. Nonetheless, the overall feel-good approach of Café Minamdang makes it still a worthwhile watch.
Here are some of the best things we enjoyed in Café Minamdang!
The Found Family or Family of Choice trope is an enjoyable trope for me no matter what genre it would be used for. And Café Minamdang knows how to use this trope to appeal to its audience. The creators of this series threw in characters who wildly differ from each other and gave them a strong goal as their mutual connection.
The Minamdang Crew is composed of faux shaman Nam Han-jun (Seo In-guk), his sister and hacker Nam Hye-jun (Kang Mi-na), iron hand Kong Su-cheol (Kwak Si-yang), and their maknae Jo Na-dan (Baek Seo-hoo). They have their own individual charm and quirks that make their dynamics interesting to watch. Their differences also make their banters similar to that of four biological siblings. True family indeed.
On the other hand, the series also showed how a bond was formed between police detectives Han Jae-hui (Oh Yeon-seo), Jang Du-jin (Jeong Man-sik), Na Gwang-tae (Jung Ha-joon), and Kim Sang-hyub (Heo Jae-ho). Unlike the Minamdam Crew, the relationship between these detectives started with suspicion and mistrust especially since Han Jae-hui is a new member with a “bad” reputation. But they eventually learned to work together and manage to get through the curveballs thrown their way.
Minamdam Crew x Detective Squad
The series started with the cat-and-mouse chase between Han-jun and Jae-hui. Their troops followed their leads and there would always be a blazing row whenever these two groups meet. But they eventually work together to catch the serial killer on the loose – Gopuri.
The unlikely team-up resulted in ingenious trap set-ups. The hunt for Gopuri was mostly satisfying – fulfilling the crime part of this series. But the thing is, I was suspicious of Cha Do-won (Kwon Soo-hyun) from the start so the reveal wasn’t as strong for me. It was still personally satisfying to have guessed this main plot point correctly. The joint team’s encounters with Aunt Im Hui-suk (Jung Da-eun) were also an entertaining part of the main plot.
Kang Mi-na as Nam Hye-joon
She charmed me off in Moonshine and she came back with an equally charming character in Café Minamdang. Kang Mi-na stood out in her role as Nam Hye-joon. Her natural nonchalance is her most endearing point and makes some of the scenes with her boisterous crew funnier. She also threw on-point comical banters with her older brother Nam Han-jun but at the same time, their dynamic has a warm-heartedness appeal that can be likened to a real-life sibling relationship. Although I didn’t predict her eventual romance with Kong Su-cheol, it was still cute and okay for the most part.
Seo In-guk and Oh Yeon-seo
Café Minamdang is led by two actors who are not new to the genre. So it was no surprise Seo In-guk and Oh Yeon-seo did well in their respective roles.
Seo In-guk is enigmatic but at the same time endearing in his role as a profiler-turned-shaman/conman. He knows how to work for the laughs but at the same time deliver emotional scenes. Oh Yeon-seo is charming in her role as well. The action sequences were made to be over-the-top and humorous more than thrilling but she still looks awesome in those scenes.
They are good at their individual roles, however, there is a divided opinion when it comes to their chemistry. I think I’m among those viewers who didn’t really get attached to the romance between them. Their past connection – especially the tragedy that involved a person dear to them Han Jae-jeong (Song Jae-rim) – is heart-tugging but I wasn’t sold with how could that turn into romantic feelings. Still, I enjoyed it whenever Han-jun and Jae-hui worked together with cases and ultimately, in catching Gopuri.