Riya Chaudhary, Delhi
Romance Is a Bonus Book is a 2019 tvN K-Drama that revolves around the lives of people who work in a book publishing company. The main leads of the drama are, Kang Dan-i (played by Lee Na-young), and Cha Eun-ho (played by Lee Jong-suk).
Kang Dan-i, a woman in her mid-thirties who wants to work again after a long career break, but life does not come easy for her. This drama is a breath of fresh air, as it explores the beautiful layers of friendship and love between a single mother and her childhood friend, Cha Eun-ho, who is younger in age than her.
Lee Jong-suk plays the role of Cha Eun-ho, who is not only a genius writer, a literature professor at a university but also the youngest chief editor at Gyeoroo Publishing. In this role, Lee Jong-suk has emerged as a total heartthrob with his warm appearance and unique charms on screen. His character is fiercely loyal to the people he cares about and his company, as he consistently strives to do right by them. Kang Dan-i and Cha Eun-ho are childhood friends. Kang Dan-i introduces him to the world of books and is also the reason behind him becoming a writer in many ways. Due to circumstances, Cha Eun-ho is not aware of the hardships Kang Dai-i has undergone over the years, so he gets surprised when she appears for giving an interview at his publishing company, for a position that does not match with her credentials and caliber. He is in love with Kang Dan-i but hesitates to show his feelings to prevent from ruining their friendship.
Lee Na-young plays the role of Kang Dan-i, a woman in her mid-thirties. She has a daughter and is a divorcee. She was once a successful publisher but she becomes penniless and lost her ability to work, leading to a long career gap. She reaches a point where she has no house, no job, and no money. However, even at her lowest point – she remains positive and determinant, and finds the silver linings, going as far as staying in her old home, which has been marked for demolition. She secretly works at Cha Eun-ho’s house as a housekeeper. Eun-ho entrusts her for helping him find a housekeeper for his house but she sneakily does all chores for remuneration as well as eats and bathes at his place. Eventually, she fails to keep her secrets from him as Cha Eun-ho finds out, but he let her stay in his house for as long as she wants. Later on, she gets a job as a temporary support task team member at Gyoreoo Publishing by lying about her qualifications. Although, Cha Eun-ho worries about how she will perform, she surprises him and other senior executives with her creativity and hard work.
Although the plot of this drama does not throw in any unnecessary drama or unrealistic twists but still it is able to successfully capture the beauty in people’s mundane and everyday life. It does not have any antagonist but it’s all about real people and real-life issues, depicted in a simple and delicate manner. For some people, this drama may be a soothing way to unwind from a hectic day, as they can resonate with the lives of characters. The portrayal of Lee Na-young as Kang Dan-i makes her character likable and relatable, because of the way she deals with each difficulty and the way her child-like excitement comes out for every little achievement in her life. It’s Lee Jong-suk’s first romantic comedy and as I had thoroughly enjoyed his previous works in W-Two Worlds and While You Were Sleeping, it was a must-watch for me. There are many cheesy and romantic scenes throughout the drama that will make you go ‘awww’. The rest of the cast is EXCEPTIONAL. There are many supporting characters given the setting of the story, but the important ones get their time to rightfully shine and have their own stories and character developments.
This K-Drama manages to make a meaningful statement about the women in the workforce. Not only that — the way this drama approached and tackled different sensitive topics like mental illness, marriage, and divorce, was stellar! I watched the lives of each character with a heavy heart because they felt so real. ALSO, huge appreciation for the entire team of this drama that showed a positive representation of the LGBT community. ‘Romance Is a Bonus Book’ is one of those rare shows which leaves you with a smile and warmth in your heart at the end of each episode. One of the good aspects of this drama, if you are a book lover, is that you will also get insights about how a book publishing house runs, and how the process of making books take place. Don’t miss the end credits, where at the end of each episode there is a bonus clip that is softly poetic and is an honest touch to the developments of the show. The drama is available on Netflix.
Fun fact: Lee Na-young made her comeback to K-Dramas with this show after 9 years. Also, Lee Jong-suk is a big fan of Lee Na-young, so watch out for their on-screen chemistry if you have not watched this drama already!
Watch this lovely short video of the cast dancing!