Never has a show made me as hungry as ‘Wok of Love’. This is because the drama revolves around a Chinese chef who spends 75% of his time preparing some seriously mouth-watering dishes. These Koreans very well know how to promote their food and culture through dramas. I haven’t seen a single show where the characters have not eaten ramen or noodles. They are always eating noodles which make me crave noodles all the time. Ugh! Anyway, before I get to the review I want to inform you that I have speed watched this show. My drama advisers or buddies advised me against this drama. But for some reason, I was very curious about it. I really loved Jun Ho in ‘Just Between Lovers’ and wanted to watch more of his dramas. I saw a few snippets of Wok of Love on YouTube which made me even more interested in it. What I liked in the snippets was Jun Ho’s chemistry with Jung Ryeo Won. Liking a couple of a show is one of the biggest motivations for me to watch it. When I started watching the drama, I understood why this drama was not recommended to me. But I still stuck to it because I wanted to watch more of Jun Ho and Ryeo Won’s love story. So I decided to stick to just their scenes and skip the other storylines. I would forward the show till I would have either Ryeo Won or Jun Ho on screen. I did follow second-lead Jang Hyuk’s story initially but then it bored me to death so I decided to skip it completely.
Wok Of Love (Greasy Melo) (2018) (38 Episodes)
Chinese chef, Seo Poong (Lee Jun Ho) works in a five-star hotel. He is eagerly waiting to be promoted when his senior betrays him and has him transferred to another hotel. To add to his woes, he finds out that his boss is having an affair with his wife. Angry, Poong leaves the hotel and after swearing to seek revenge from them by outdoing them in their business.
Dan Sae Woo has always lived a happy and rich life until her father gets arrested for a fraud which shakes her cozy life and leaves her with almost nothing. Her marriage is unable to withstand the pressure of her life’s difficulties and she is forced to work to keep afloat until her father is released.
Poong and Sae Woo happen to often bump into each other and they eventually start working together to help Poong have his revenge and Sae Woo earn some money. While working together, they slowly start falling for each other which exposes them to a new set of challenges in life.
Let’s weigh this mix masala dish on our drama beam balance and see if it tastes sweet, sour or bitter.
I like Wok Of Love because…
…only in a drama will you find a five-star chef, a rich businessman’s daughter and a thug work in unison. It is the most unlikely people joining hands in the most unlikely situation. But the writers somehow manage to convince you of why these people have no option but to work together. The story is interesting. Too bad the screenplay writers did not manage to make the most out of it.
…our main lead Seo Poong is simply the best.
Poong is a man who has been royally screwed by almost everyone he ever cared about. This man has hit rock bottom and is left with nothing to lose. In such a situation, Poong lifts his most trustworthy alliances i.e. his ladle and wok and storms out of his workplace vowing to seek revenge from all those who wronged him. Poong is a very passionate man. You can clearly see his passion in everything he does. Be it loving his wife or cooking in the kitchen or even training a rookie, he does it with a lot of passion.
His passion makes him aggressive as he seeks perfection in everything he does. His aggressiveness rubs people the wrong way and Poong always has a price to pay for his ill temper. Actor Jun Ho has done an incredible job essaying the role of this passionate and obnoxious chef. His acting, especially his comedy reminds me of Rain. I’m sure that he must have done a lot of research on chefs and has extensively studied their body language because it clearly reflects in his acting. For an idol-actor, he handles the wok and the fire too comfortably just like a professional chef. The way his stands and moves the wok leaves no doubt about his preparedness for the role. I personally loved him in this drama. He is so underrated as an actor. I hope he continues to perform this well so people know of more of his talent.
… Dan Sae Woo, like many other K-drama leads, is an adorably cheeky heroine.
Sae Woo is born into a rich family but happens to lose her riches after her father is jailed following a scandal. She is now compelled to fend for herself and her mother. She even ends up getting ditched on her wedding day because of the scandal. These adversities weigh on her but it hardly ever shows on her face. Optimistic to the core Sae Woo is lively and happy all the time.
She takes accusations, scolding, and insults in her stride and has no problem moving on his life. I love her for her peppy attitude. Actress Jung Ryeo Won is plain perfect of this role. I have never seen any of her dramas before and now I can’t imagine anybody else playing the role of Sae Woo. Her smile is infectious which adds to Sae Woo’s natural charm.
…Poong and Sae Woo’s Noona-Dongsaeng (an older woman and younger man) love story is too cute to be ignored. Sae Woo is clumsy (she is a K-drama heroine, isn’t that a given?) and Poong is a perfectionist. When they try to work together you can only expect them to create havoc. And my cute lead couple does just that.
Their altercations are hilarious, adorable and sometimes slightly hot. But despite their differences, they keep coming back to each other because they connect through their wounds. They have been betrayed by their respective spouses and are both nursing a broken heart.
They find peace in each other’s company which brings them closer. Jun Ho and Ryeo Won may have a huge age gap in real life but their on-screen chemistry is beautiful. He looks every bit of an arrogant chef and she looks like a happy-go-lucky girl from every angle. They look very comfortable with each other which makes them look convincingly in love.
I do NOT LIKE Wok Of Love because…
…the drama progresses at a snail’s pace. The biggest problem of this drama is how poorly it is stretched over 38 episodes. There are episodes where nothing substantial happens for a long time and are inconsequential towards the plot. For instance, they create a ‘big event’ with high stakes and spend 4-5 episodes just preparing for it. For fillers, you see sub-plots involving the back-stories and current lives of supporting characters. Now that is not usually a problem in dramas but here it is because the supporting characters are uninteresting. Even though I like the knife handler Seol Jaa as a character, I was least interested in her love triangle.
…the second lead bored me to death. Doo Chil Seong is a good bad guy. He is a thug turned loan shark. But he is a man with a heart leading a gang of gangsters who are willing to take a bullet for him. Actor Jang Hyuk has done a good job portraying his monochrome character but it was too bland for my liking. I tried watching his storyline to learn more about his background but it gets too complicated with his ‘lost mother’ accidentally revealing her identity. In short, it was just plain boring!
…the story conveniently overlooks most obvious conflicts. In the drama, Poong has a bone to pick with his former boss. In a fit of rage, he hurls a butcher knife at his boss and is chucked out of the hotel by the security. Despite this, he enters the five-star hotel as and when he pleases. He has fought with his colleagues and senior at work but still is allowed to enter the kitchen whenever he wants to. He even brings Chil Seong, who is a known gangster, with him to the hotel and no one says anything at all. This is a little weird, isn’t it?
The worst, however, was what Poong does in the last two episodes. Sae Woo’s parents do not like him and he leaves no stone unturned in trying to gain their approval. This desperation drives him to do something really crazy. What Poong does to persuade Sae Woo’s mother to allow him to date her daughter made me roll my eyes so hard that it punctured a hole in the back of my skull and I can now look at what’s behind me without even having to turn my head. Seriously!! The scenario is so lame that I still cringe thinking about it.
The saddest part of this drama was that two characters appear and disappear without any explanation. The drama starts with Poong resolving to seek revenge from his boss who stole his wife Dal Hee away from him. But Dal Hee suddenly disappears from the story and no one knows what happens to her in the end. Similarly, we are introduced to a potential love interest for Chil Sung who makes a few appearances and then vanishes without a trace. Gah!! I really wanted to know if she ever meets Chil Sung again.
As you see, the heavy bad weights are pulling our drama beam balance on the negative side which means that the drama is flawed. However, Wok Of Love is to be watched for Junho and Ryeo Won’s love story. It is to be watched for Chil Sung and Jun Ho’s bromance. It is to be watched for Jun Ho’s conflict with almost every character on the show. It is to be watched for giving you hope to fight your strongest and baddest enemy with the same spirit and confidence as Poong. It is to be watched to help you smile as brightly as Sae Woo even in the most trying moments. Even with a faulty script Wok Of Love does serve some occasional laughs and lots of positivity.
I give Wok Of Love 3 out of 5 rating. I will recommend this drama only for speed watching as Junho and Ryeo Won are too cute together to be missed. Stick to their storylines and you will love the drama.
All Screenshots Courtesy: SBS