Kdrama Review Romance is a Bonus Book

To Watch or Not to Watch: Romance is a Bonus Book [Review]

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Published:

23/05/2021

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Drama: Romance is a Bonus Book

Country: South Korea

Episodes: 16

Aired: Jan 26, 2019 – Mar 17, 2019

Aired On: Saturday, Sunday

Original Network: tvN, Netflix.

Duration: 1 hr. 2 min

Genres: Friendship, Business, Comedy, Romance, Life, Drama, Melodrama

Type of Kdrama: Friends To Lovers, Cohabitation, Office Romance, Rich Guy-Poor Girl Plot, Successful Male Lead, Female Friendships  Strong Female Characters,  Childhood Friendship, Secret Crush, Slow Romance 

Romance is a Bonus Book Review

To watch or not to watch, that is the question. Well, that would be the question if Shakespeare would be writing Hamlet in the 21st Century because c’mon nothing could be as bad as the pandemic right now. Even after a year, things haven’t changed much and so, your choice in Kdramas can make or break your beautiful weekend. This is why we are here with a Kdrama review on Romance is a Bonus Book for you!

Before we proceed to dissect the story and characters for analysis, let’s discuss what kind of a Kdrama Romance is a Bonus Book is. It is a heart-warming Kdrama about new beginnings and opportunities, especially for our female lead, Kang Dan Yi. It stars popular Hallyu actor Lee Jong Suk with a renowned veteran actress Lee Na Young. It’s a kind of Kdrama which isn’t exactly for everybody, so let’s figure out if it’s for you, together!

First Impression of Romance is a Bonus Book

My first impression of Romance is a Bonus Book was something like a warm, vibrant summer day. Almost felt like summer vacations – pleasant, relaxing, carefree, full of colors, energy; when we feel the most optimistic for new beginnings, new sessions, and new experiences.  That’s how I felt. I was drawn in by Dan Yi’s character. I could empathize with her, understand her struggles and relate to her. Even though Dan Yi’s character is way older than I am, I could still understand her thought process, and it’s sufficient to say that she’s one of the most relatable and memorable characters I have come across.

Romance is a Bonus Book Story

The story is pretty simple and straightforward. It is not very unique or has anything special to give. But if you are a person who adores books and is interested in a book publishing process and everything that comes with it (like me), then this drama might just make your day. But if you are someone who is not really interested in books, well, this might just not be for you, but hey! Who knows, maybe you’d like it anyway! It doesn’t hurt to try now, does it?

The story revolves around a woman named Kang Dan Yi. Dan Yi was a successful advertising copywriter until she left her job to take care of her family. Years later, divorced and without an income and a place to live, she struggles to find a job that would take her in. Meanwhile, there’s Cha Eun Ho, Dan I’s childhood friend whom she saved from a deadly accident, getting injured in his place. Eun Ho helped her with her studies while he fetched books the other materials for her. This was when Eun Ho developed an interest in writing and reading. Life’s unpredictable, isn’t it? He became a viral writer, chief editor of a publishing firm, and a professor. This is a story of rekindling old friendships while embarking on a journey of discovering one’s true self.

Background

Romance is a Bonus Book revolves around a publishing company and, of course, a lot of books. The drama also covers how a book is published and what are the different aspects of publishing before it hits the market. So, if you’re interested in the art of publishing, you might like the context of the story. Much of the story takes place around the publishing company and the work that it involves. As someone interested in books, it was a treat to watch for me, and it might be for you too! But don’t worry if you’re not interested in books, you might still like the comedy, romance, and the motivation that one receives from this Kdrama. So, don’t give it up just yet!

Character review of Romance is a Bonus Book

Many of the drama characters are well written and well portrayed by an amazing, talented, and experienced cast. Since the drama focuses more on women’s experiences, I found the female characters to have much more depth. While most characters are well written, however, I felt that there is limited character development somewhere down the line. This means that we do not see any significant character development after a certain point in the drama, and the characters retain their traits, behaviors, emotions, and stories till the end. Nevertheless, all the characters make a positive impression and are fun to watch. 

Lee Na Young as Kang Dan I (Female Lead)

Dan Yi’s background story

Since Dan Yi is the main character and the whole show mainly revolves around her, it is important for us to understand her background story before our analysis of her character.

Kang Dan Yi is the female protagonist of the show. She was a working professional who decided to leave her career to take care of her family after getting married. Post her divorce from her jerk of a husband, who by the way cheated on her, and she was left with no house, no money or a job, and a lot of things to pay for, including her daughter’s tuition. While her daughter never actually appears on the show, Dan Yi is reminded of her financial struggles with every call. Initially, she picks up various part-time jobs, even hiding her identity and working for her friend, Eun Ho as the cleaning lady (eating and taking showers at his place, too, by the way). Later, she can get a job at a publishing company by hiding her qualifications in her resume.

Dan Yi’s character analysis

I personally found Dan Yi’s character to be one of the best in the drama. Dan Yi struggles to find a job even though she is very qualified. Never once, however, does she lose hope. She gets discouraged and feels burdened and burnt out, but she keeps on going nevertheless. This is what makes her character interesting and pleasing. Dan Yi is enduring. She accepts discomfort and challenges, and she makes an effort to learn, adapt and evolve. She gives hope to the viewers, and she is steadfast in her beliefs. There’s one instance where she responds to comments about her life as a homemaker. On being told that she cannot be hired because she doesn’t have the experience of an ever-changing corporate life as she has been “lazing around at home for 7 years”, she responds-

“I haven’t been lazing around. I’ve been raising my child…it has taught me to be patient and devoted. I also learned how desperate I am to rebuild my career. Why doesn’t it count?”

When Eun Ho confronts her about accepting a low salaried position than her qualifications and she tells him-

“If a company is hiring ten people, they won’t hire women who are returning after a career break…Do I have to keep living like this?”

Her comments also highlight the patriarchal system that has consolidated the idea of the woman and the house as a norm. Women don’t get recognized for their labor at home, even now in the modern world. It’s something that is accepted as a norm and a family obligation. Dan Yi questions all these aspects of our patriarchal society, and that’s why her character is probably the most well-written character in the drama.

Lee Jong Suk as Cha Eun Ho (Male Lead)

Eun Ho is Dan Yi’s childhood friend, who cherishes and is worried about Dan Yi’s welfare. Eun Ho is charming, sometimes becomes a bit annoying because he’s very aware of his success and his good-looking appearance, and he doesn’t forget to act like it. He’s also in love with Dan I for a very long time, which is the reason why he’s not able to form lasting relationships with his other romantic interests and acts like a jerk in front of them. He’s a very successful person, being a popular writer, chief editor, and a professor. 

I liked how mature Eun Ho is in his actions as he respects Dan Yi’s choices and decisions over his love for her. When she is getting married, he stays by her side as a true friend and also reassures her when she almost bails out. I felt that his character is mainly there to support Dan Yi’s, being her guardian angel, taking care of her, being a way for her to grow and discover herself. There’s only so much that Eun Ho’s has to offer. Nevertheless, Eun Ho is probably one of the most charming characters in the drama and is super fun to watch.

Jung Yoo-jin as Song Hae-rin

Song Hae Rin is the mentor of the new recruits in Romance is a Bonus Book and also the lead content development editor at Gyeoroo. She has a one-sided crush on her senior and mentor, Cha Eun Ho.

I loved Song Hae Rin’s character. She’s a mix of an adorable and no-nonsense woman. Hae Rin is also a warm, kind, and supportive person, considering her attitude towards Dan Yi when things were not exactly going well for her. Some of the scenes that I really liked her in were-

1. When she started throwing a temper tantrum on to her parents regarding overcooked dumplings while sobbing after Eun Ho rejected her.

2. When she adorably tries to make it up to Seo Jun after she scared him with her cucumber allergy.

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Wi Ha-joon as Ji Seo-joon

Ji Seo Joon is a popular book designer who ends up falling for Dan Yi. Although his character did not have much development, Wi Ha Joon perfectly portrayed him as a cute, likable, and charming character. 

Romance is a Bonus Book: Highlights

Why Should Watch Romance is a Bonus Book?

This review would not do just to Romance is a Bonus Book without discussing the highlights of the drama. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Women Centric

Though on the surface Romance is a Bonus Book might look like your typical romantic comedy but if you try to look beyond the surface, you’ll come across the women-centric themes that it deals with. Romance is a Bonus Book illuminates the problems and struggles of working women, burdened by social obligations and expectations. These themes are perfectly highlighted in various women characters in the drama. For instance, Kang Dan I has to deal with rude comments and rejection due to her career break and the fact that she chooses family over her career.

Meanwhile, Go Yoo Sun, director of Gyeoroo Publishing, is in a completely different situation. She enjoys a great deal of authority at her workplace, and she’s an accomplished working woman who is made the outsider due to her being single while all of her other friends are married. Although she tries to hide this fact by being obnoxious and rude, she feels lonely. Her situation reflects society’s behavior towards accomplished women. On the other hand, Seo Young Ah is the team leader of the marketing team at Gyeoroo. In her first appearance, she is seen struggling to manage her work life and personal life, which gives an insight into the struggles that working women face. 

Female Friendships portrayed in Romance is a Bonus Book

Romance is a Bonus Books highlights the camaraderie between various women characters. Most female friendships revolve around Dan Yi. Dan Yi and Manager Seo become friends in the drama. It’s heart-warming to watch Manager Seo supporting Dan Yi without any bad feelings, unlike some of the women characters who were jealous of Dan Yi’s accomplishments and wanted to bring her down. Director Go, though she’s a bit strict and is not very friendly towards Dan Yi, she still helps Dan Yi in getting a job after she quits and encourages her to return after she gains experience in the field. Hae Rin’s relationship with Dan Yi is also warm, friendly, and supportive. She speaks out in Dan Yi’s favor when Dan Yi’s secret is disclosed and tries to cheer her up when she quits her job.

Refreshing

Romance is a Bonus Books, unlike much other romantic comedy Kdramas, is focused more on the journey of its female lead, Dan Yi. This is the story about her life, it is her story, and the romance is just a part of her story and not the whole story in itself. This set up helps the viewers focus on Dan Yi’s character and her life’s journey rather than just the romance aspect of it. It brings Dan Yi into the spotlight and not the romance, which becomes the focal point of many rom-com Kdramas. This premise makes Romance is a Bonus book refreshing and a bit different from other romcom Kdrama.

Uplifting themes

Romance is a Bonus Book is, without a doubt, an uplifting and motivating Kdrama. It’s about overcoming road bumps in the journey of life and continuing to move forward, embracing new opportunities, and discovering oneself along the way. It isn’t just a feel gool drama, it actually makes one reflect on themselves and inspire them to be resilient.

Sweet Romantic relationships in Romance is a Bonus Book

Romantic relationships between many characters in Romance is a Bonus Book is very sweet. Especially our main leads, Dan Yi and Eun Ho’s relationship, is very warm and adorable. Lee Jong Suk and Lee Na Young’s chemistry is also spot on, without which the relationship between their characters probably would not have been as good as it is portrayed.

Bromance

Not only does Romance is a Bonus Book shows a beautiful relationship between the lead characters, but it also depicts a charming love-hate relationship between the two male leads, Eun Ho and Seo Jun. Many viewers (including me) found their bickering very cute. It will definitely put a smile on your face.

Dialogues of Romance is a Bonus Book

Romance is a Bonus Book has some of the most thoughtful and touching dialogues I have come across. Some of them are so aesthetically pleasing that they most feel like a poem. For instance, let’s take the scene where Dan Yi asks Eun Ho when exactly he started liking her, and Eun Ho replies, “Do you know when the season changes? Do you know exactly when winter ends, and spring begins…I don’t know exactly when my feelings for you started to grow.” And the background music just makes this scene even more beautiful (wipes a tear).  

Romance is a Bonus Book Review: Things to Watch Out For

Since this is a review of Romance is a Bonus Book, there are bound to be things that you need to be wary of if you are interested in watching this Kdrama. Let’s discuss some of them!

Pace

Romance is a Bonus Book is a bit slow compared to most Kdramas, and that’s what makes it even more gratifying. It revolves around self-healing and self-discovery, which doesn’t just come to you in a second. It takes time, and thus, Romance is a Bonus Book justifies these ideas by its pace. If you’re someone who prefers fast pacing dramas with many shifts and changes, you might not get that here. Nevertheless, the pace is not as slow that you’ll die of boredom. It’s perfect for a Kdrama with such thoughtful themes that will even make you reflect on yourself and heal yourself. I personally loved the drama’s pace because it’s very realistic and humane because life doesn’t happen with in a click of your fingers now, does it?

Predictable storyline

The story is quite predictable, and it doesn’t surprise the viewers much. This is also the reason why it failed to please a lot of viewers. However, in my opinion, the way the story unfolds and the themes it focuses on outweighs the predictable plotline and its ending.

Romance is a bonus

As I mentioned, the romance aspect is a bonus in this show. If you are someone who likes a Kdrama, which is all cuddly, fluttery stuff, you probably might not get satisfied with what you get here.

Age Gap between main characters

Romance is a Bonus Book is a noona (older woman, younger guy) romance where there is a considerable age gap between the main leads. For some younger viewers, this might be off-putting and it might be difficult to understand their worldview and chemistry. You have been warned.

Mystery

Honestly, the whole “mystery” surrounding the disappearance of a renowned author who might be “kidnapped” by the Gyeoroo employees seemed like a filler to me. There were instances where the show kept giving the viewers small hints regarding this whole mystery, only to abandon these hints for episodes on end. Sometimes, there was no mention of the “mystery” at all, and I even forgot this plotline even existed. It was only in the end episodes that the mystery was properly executed. Also, I felt that this mystery just catered to provide a glance at Eun Ho’s past. Even though it involved Seo Joon, the conclusion of the “mystery” did not help his character much.

Memorable Scenes

A review of Romance is a Bonus Book would be incomplete without a review of the show’s memorable scenes, isn’t it? There are many memorable scenes in the drama that highlight the themes of the drama and the relationship between the characters. Some of the scenes which I enjoyed are-

1. Introduction of the founding members of Gyeoroo and when they enter like a gang of superstars with their trench coats later in the drama. They looked so cool!

2. When Dan Yi, Manager Seo and Director go bonded over their night out at the club. They end up sharing their struggles with each other and it really got me all teary.

3. Song Hae Ri’s dumping tantrum of course! And her cute “please forgive me” efforts for Seo Joon after her allergy scare.

4. When Dan Yi asks Eun Ho if he likes him and Eun Ho just smiles in reply. That was such a pure expression of affection *wipes eyes*

5. The comic scene where Eun Ho and Seo Joon end up cuddling each other only to be horrified when they wake up. There’s the bromance I mentioned!

6. When Eun Ho stays at home to cheer Dan Yi after she quits her job. *cuteness alert*

Similar Recommendations

If you liked our review of Romance is a Bonus Book, you should definitely check out these Kdramas:

1. Something in the Rain (2018)

2. When the Weather Is Fine (2020)

3. Her Private Life (2019)

4. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018)

5. A Poem a Day (2018)

Final Verdict of Romance is a Bonus Book Review

Honestly, I enjoyed watching Romance is a Bonus Book and all that it came with. I would definitely recommend it if you like such thoughtful women-centric Kdramas, and you are okay with the romance aspect being the “bonus” that it is in this show.

We hope you found our review of the Kdrama Romance is a Bonus Book insightful. Let us know in the comments about your favorite aspect of this Kdrama! To keep reading such articles related to Kdramas, please visit here and stay tuned for more of our Kdrama recommendations and reviews!

Watch the first episode of Romance is a Bonus Book here!

Categories K-DramaKorean

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