Drama Review: Crash Course in Romance hits success with irrational formula

The unorthodox rom-com is one of tvN’s highest rated series.

Gwen Koh

| March 9, 2023
Nam Haeng-son, played by Jeon Do-yeon in a drama series. Photo: tvN

Crash Course in Romance tells the unlikely love story between Choi Chi-yeol, played by Jung Kyung-ho and Nam Haeng-son, portrayed by Jeon Do-yeon.

Choi is a high-flying, celebrity Maths tutor while Nam is the ladyboss of an unassuming neighbourhood banchan shop which Choi can’t seem to get enough of.

This 16-episode rom-com derails from the usual cookiecutter template of having both leads falling in love at first sight.

Instead, it shows a much more mature and somewhat complex love-line between the leads, and how their relationship changed and eventually blossomed throughout the series.

Education in South Korea

The story is based on the ever contentious topic of Korea’s education system and the culture of private education or, hagwon, in the country. It has since expanded into a multi-billion dollar industry, with some of the more popular tutors achieving an idol-like status with their faces plastered across the streets in Gangnam.

South Korean students studying in hagwons. Photo: YNA

Choi is one of such examples and is nicknamed the “one-trillion-won-man” for the economic value which he generates for the country. This is an interesting phenomenon for non-Korean viewers.

Probability of love

Through the series, the casting of Jung Kyung-ho and Jeon Do-yeon has been met with mixed responses.

Some applaud their chemistry. Others bemoan the 10-year age gap between the leads, which proved to be awkward especially in the later half of the show.

Jeon Do-yeon and Jung Kyung-ho pose at the press conference for Crash Course in Romance.

The show does lose some of its initial charm as the story progresses, moving away from its funnier, light-hearted scenes in the earlier episodes.

The nonchalant portrayal of Choi Chi-yeol by Jung Kyung-ho, is also reminiscent of his previous characters in Hospital Playlist (2020) and Prison Playbook (2018).

The report card

Even with the critics aloud, it didn’t seem to matter much to the Korean audience, as the show definitely scored an A in terms of ratings, becoming one of the Top 10 most-watched series on Korean cable TV.

It falls just behind other tvN works like Crash Landing on You (2020), Reply 1988 (2016), Goblin (2017), Mr Sunshine (2018) and Mr Queen (2021).

What’s memorable about the show is definitely the countless number of quotes about life and society which left me thinking.

Maths might not have been one of my most outstanding subjects in school back then.

But I have definitely learnt quite a bit from this Crash Course in Romance, providing a little revision that there are many variables in life. Some of which are outside of our control, but there are also others which are worth fighting for.

“Maths is black and white. There’s always an answer. But (my) life isn’t like that. There are no set formulas or rules.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *