K-Drama Review: ‘Bubblegum’ May Not Be the Best, but It Will Warm You Through the Family Love

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Learn More About the Korean Drama Bubblegum

Included in the line-up of tvN television series broadcasted in 2015, Bubblegum is a drama of the romance and family genre that can be added to your watch list. Though considered underrated among other tvN dramas from 2015, Bubblegum is worth watching as you can experience another perspective of its hero and heroine in the field of oriental medicine and radio broadcast, giving new insights that are brought along with the love stories contained in the drama. In this article, Channel-Korea will introduce you with all the information regarding the drama Bubblegum that you must know, starting from its synopsis, leading cast, fun facts, ending, ratings, to its original soundtrack. So, stay tuned!

Bubblegum Synopsis

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Directed by Kim Byung-soo and written by Lee Mi-na, Bubblegum was broadcasted every Monday and Tuesday at 23.00 PM on the Korean cable channel tvN. Running for 16 episodes, Bubblegum revolves around the story of long-time best friends Park Ri-hwan (played by Lee Dong-wook), who owns his own clinic and works as an oriental medicine doctor, and Kim Haeng-ah (played by Jung Ryeo-won), who works as a radio producer for the night broadcast. When she was very young Haeng-ah lost her parents, hence Ri-hwan’s mother, Park Sun-young (played by Bae Jong-ok), has been taking care of her ever since the death of her father.

As time goes by, Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah realized that they have mutual feelings for each other. Unfortunately, Sun-young does not favor Haeng-ah and chooses a rich family daughter named Hong Yi-seul (played by Park Hee-von) as her son’s potential partner instead. The tale of Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah becomes even more tangled as Haeng-ah’s ex-boyfriend Kang Suk-joon (played by Lee Jong-hyuk) wants to rekindle his relationship with Haeng-ah. By watching Bubblegum, you will able to witness different sides of each character, be it the humane or egoistic traits that are certainly relatable and can easily be experienced by the viewers. However, some people may find the flow of Bubblegum too slow for their own liking as the story centers around the reason Ri-hwan’s mother does not want Haeng-ah to pair up with Ri-hwan and the repetitive push and pull dynamic of Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah’s relationship. Therefore, we have to give 2,5 out of 5 stars for Bubblegum because some scenes are indeed heartwarming enough to watch yet the plot seems ordinary compared to the other Korean dramas with a similar theme.

Bubblegum Cast

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Typically having the square relationship chart as its scheme, the cast of Bubblegum is easy to remember because it only has five keynote characters that the viewers have to monitor for they hold the importance of the drama plot line.

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Lee Dong-wook played the hero of the drama, a rich family son who works as an oriental-based doctor named Park Ri-hwan. Along with his buddy Kwon Ji-hoon (played by Lee Seung-joon), Ri-hwan owns a clinic where he practices every day. On the other hand, Jung Ryeo-won played the drama’s heroine Kim Haeng-ah, a radio drama producer for the night broadcast who has been an orphan ever since a very young age. Despite their busy work schedules, Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah often meet, be it in each other’s workplace or the Secret Garden restaurant which is being run by friends of Haeng-ah’s father, Chef Noh and Aunt Gong-joo (played by Lee Moon-so and Seo Jung-yeon). Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah’s encounters were frequently filled with playful banter which later changes into a more serious notion as they become more conscious of their feelings for each other.

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Park Hee-von played the female antagonist of the drama named Hong Yi-seul, a rich family daughter who was set up as a blind date partner for Ri-hwan. Prior to her encounter with Ri-hwan, Yi-seul used to have a fiance who had two-timed her. Following her bad break up, Yi-seul becomes more sensitive and anxious about her supposedly potential relationship with Ri-hwan, hence she shows her wicked side to Haeng-ah who she deemed as the barrier between Ri-hwan and herself. Meanwhile, Lee Jong-hyuk played as Haeng-ah’s past boyfriend Kang Suk-joon, a notable radio anchor who is infamous for his cold personality. Suk-joon tries to get back with Haeng-ah once again as he realizes that she makes his considerably flat life more dynamic, though to no avail. Lastly, Bae Jong-ok played as Park Sun-young, the loving mother of Ri-hwan who also has taken care of her good friend’s daughter Haeng-ah ever since the death of her parents. Despite briefly living together under one roof, Sun-young and Haeng-ah are not in exactly a mother and a daughter-like relationship as they have an unspoken distance that the viewers are able to witness in the drama. Similar to Yi-seul and Suk-joon, Sun-young is not a great supporter of Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah’s friends-turned-lovers relationship for a certain reason which will be revealed in the drama in the latter stage.

Fun Facts You Have To Know About Bubblegum

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  • Bubblegum occupied the time slot which was previously filled by the 14th season of Rude Miss Young-Ae. After the series ended, the time slot was given to Kim Go-eun and Park Hee-jin’s webtoon adaptation drama Cheese in the Trap.
  • Bubblegum became the second drama which Lee Dong-wook and Jung Ryeo-won worked together as co-stars. Previously, they starred on the drama Do The Right Thing.
  • The first script reading of Bubblegum took place at Nuri Square Business Center in Sangam, Seoul, South Korea on September 8th, 2015.
  • Lee Dong-wook celebrated his surprise birthday party on the drama set of Bubblegum.
  • Bubblegum had its first international broadcast on August 27th, 2018, on the Philippines television channel Asianovela Channel.

Bubblegum Ending

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Ri-hwan tells Haeng-ah that he has gotten his test results, which prove that he has not inherited the same illness that his mother suffers from. They hug tightly, Haeng-ah can be seen crying because she is thankful for Ri-hwan’s healthy state.

The radio broadcast has a viewable show and invites Se-young’s mother as the guest because their original tteokbokki owner guest could not come to the show due to the frantic situation at her restaurant. It turned out that Se-young’s mother used to run tteokbokki stall as well. Se-young can be seen being annoyed when her mother tells the listeners several trivia about Se-young’s childhood which she deemed embarrassing and inappropriate for her image.

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Ri-hwan asked why Haeng-ah could not be seen in the camera, to which she replied that it is Manager Jo’s last day. Haeng-ah tells Ri-hwan to keep listening to the broadcast until the last song but she doesn’t tell him the reason why he has to do it.

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The last song is Not a Fancy Confession by Lee Seung-hwan that became a song dedicated to Ri-hwan by their classmate Woo-bin, who everyone thought as Haeng-ah. Haeng-ah said that she must be dating a con-artist and that she will not able to face Woo-bin after blaming him for eighteen years.

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Ri-hwan passes by a cafe where Yi-seul and her second date hang out for ice cream. The date is informal as he keeps teasing Yi-seul who was always seen pessimistic about herself. Yi-seul’s dating partner also saw Ri-hwan and said to Yi-seul that Ri-hwan must be her ‘midnight man’ and that she likes good-looking guys. Yi-seul defended herself, saying that it is not the sole reason. Yi-seul’s partner then suggested that they meet each other until they get over their exes, which she agreed to.

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Sun-young was briefly missing when she went out with Dong-hwa, who was occupied with a phone call. She followed a woman in a doctor’s coat who entered the elevator and kept wandering in the streets. Luckily, a man who almost hit Sun-young by a car brought her to the police station. Sun-young recognized Ji-hoon instead of Se-young who came first. Soon enough, the police station was filled by Sun-young’s closest people.

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In Secret Garden restaurant, Sun-young was retaught by Dong-hwa and Aunt Gong-joo to play Go-Stop. On the other hand, Ri-hwan taught Haeng-ah to drive a car. He complained that she is a bad driver but Haeng-ah defended herself by saying that if she was good at everything, they would not be together.

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The viewers are able to listen to Ri-hwan’s narration which says that there is nothing sad about a popped bubble because you just can blow another one and that any form of happiness must be appreciated as the spring will come after the difficult season has been endured. The finale is wrapped by the scene of Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah who walk down on the street arm-in-arm happily.

Bubblegum Ratings

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Aired for the first time on October 26th, 2015, Bubblegum has relatively stable ratings in each episode. Based on AGB Nielsen and TNmS Ratings, Bubblegum’s lowest rating was around 0,7 – 0,8 % for episode 13, whereas it hit the highest rating in the early episodes, around 1,3 – 1,7 %. It must be noted that the ratings of cable channels (tvN, jTBC, OCN, etc) are lower than public channels (KBS, SBS, MBC, and EBS) since they cater to a smaller audience. On average, Bubblegum’s ratings are around 1,21 – 1,19% in both nationwide and Seoul area scaled.

Bubblegum OST

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Being a lighthearted drama which flows at a moderate pace, Bubblegum is mostly accompanied by sweet and soothing tracks. Released by CJ E&M, Bubblegum has five tracks and instrumental version and five musical scores. The first track that will catch your attention as soon as you watch the drama is English-lyrics song Because I by Lasse Lindh. Complemented with acoustic guitar and thumping drums in the latter part, the song will put you in a relaxed mood.

Contrary to the previous track, a ballad sung by Kim Na-young titled For Me depicts Kim Haeng-ah and Park Ri-hwan’s emotional moments during the crisis of their friendship-turned-relationship.

Besides Because I and For Me, you may also listen to other songs included in Bubblegum original soundtrack, namely My Time Towards You by Clazziquai’s Alex, Only Think of You by Yoon Gun, and Look Different by Vanilla Acoustic.