Romance is a Bonus Book
Today I wanted to talk to you about the first ever k-drama I watched. This k-drama introduced me into an entirely new universe that I had no idea existed and it completely captivated me. I’m talking about the k-drama Romance is a Bonus Book.
I was always fascinated with foreign culture, including Korean culture, but k-dramas just never called to me. The fact that JJ does not really enjoy watching them did not help and my family never watched any either while I was growing up so our household never really had any Korean dramas playing in the background.
One day, I stumbled upon Romance is a Bonus Book completely by accident and decided to give it a try. Let’s just say that my life changed forever and any free time I had left basically vanished.
Summary of the plot
Romance is a Bonus Book centers around Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk), a successful editor at a publishing company, and Kang Dan-i (Lee Na Young), a former copywriter who has been out of the workforce for years. After Dan-i’s husband leaves her for another woman, she finds herself struggling to make ends meet. She eventually takes a job at Eun Ho’s publishing house, but things are far from smooth sailing from there. The fact that the two have a very interesting history together only complicates matters further.
- Cha Eun Ho (played by Lee Jong Suk) is the chief editor at a publishing company. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, and he’s always striving to be the best at his job.
- Kang Dan-i (played by Lee Na Young) is a former copywriter who has been out of the workforce for years. After her husband leaves her for another woman, she finds herself struggling to make ends meet so she is forced to go back to work so that she can take care of her daughter
Comments on Romance is a Bonus Book
I’ve never really been one to follow Korean drama series as I mentioned in the intro, but when I saw the trailer for Romance is a Bonus Book, I was hooked so I decided to give Korean dramas a try.
Romance is a Bonus Book takes place in a modern, contemporary setting and the plot lines are super relatable. The best part though is that the series is centered around books. Besides what promised to be a cute love story, one of the themes of the series are books so that obviously caught my attention straight away. You should know just how much I love books!
There haven’t been many series over the years that focused on books and none quite like this one, as far as I recall. The Korean drama Romance is a Bonus Book even takes place at a publishing company! Unfortunately, this also exposed me to aspects of the publishing industry I wish I had not seen, but also bits and pieces that I was not familiar with. It was interesting to find out something new.
Let’s talk a bit about the plot. I will do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum.
The protagonist of the story is a divorced, ex-copywriter who dedicated her life to her daughter and husband. After her husband has had enough and was tired of struggling to put food on the table after his business dealings failed, he leaves his wife and family for another woman. As such, Dan-i is forced to return to work in order to take care of herself and keep her daughter in school. However, nothing is ever easy, and going back to work after a long gap is even less so.
We live in a world where ageism is a thing and it seems that this aspect is even more emphasized in Asian culture. When there is so much fresh blood why hire someone who has a family, who has responsibilities, and is considered to not have the same ability to work long hours as someone who just finished school?
Basically, think of The Second Act without J. Lo and in Korea, but unlike J. Lo, Dan-i is forced to accept menial jobs and in the end takes up a position below her level of education.
Mind you, drama is not even the right word to describe the trauma that Dan-i has to endure. It is truly heartbreaking what Dan-i has gone through in order to get her life back on track, however, it is also endearing and empowering.
Something I really enjoy was that the events are presented in a relatable manner rather than making them seem too dramatic.
Despite being willing to do whatever it takes to survive and to ensure that her daughter is able to benefit from a good education, Dan-i ultimate help comes from her childhood best friend who works as an editor-in-chief at a publishing house. Not only does Dan-i learn about an opening within his company, but even before that, she pretended to be the person she hired for him to help around the house while he was at work. Wow, that sounded weird, but here is where the first elements of comedy come in as he did not realize that it was Dan-i who acted as his housekeeper.
I won’t tell you more about the plot as I wouldn’t want to spoil the show for you. What I will leave you with is a few thoughts on some aspects that I found particularly interesting or relatable.
The series itself acts as a reminder that there are books that make us laugh, that bring us joy, but also books that will make us cry, and feel sorrow however all of them regardless of genre take us on an adventure and can also open our eyes and minds to issues that we otherwise would have never been exposed too.
There is a whole universe or rather an infinite number of universes waiting to be discovered in books. The k-drama Romance is a Bonus Book also emphasizes an idea we rarely hear: it is okay to not love a book even though someone else loves it. Just grab another one, both metaphorically and physically.
There will be books we will cherish above all others, books that keep us company throughout the chapters of our lives, and books that gain a different meaning each time we read them. Dan-i is also reminded of this fact and as such, she opens her heart and mind and decides to revisit the book that she cherished the longest, the book that kept her company and kept her warm without hesitation and without expectations whenever she needed.
This time, however, the phrases she highlighted over the years gain a completely different meaning as she finally learns to read between the lines and uncovers all the things she missed. You will definitely make more sense of what I am saying here once you start watching the series.
I also really enjoyed the slow-burn romance between Eun Ho and Dan-i. Their relationship isn’t rushed; instead, it unfolds naturally over time as the two get to know each other better in a different light than before. There are plenty of touching moments between them that left me swooning, but my favorite scene by far is when the two first express their feelings for each other using the work of a famous Japanese writer – Natsume Soseki.
The chemistry between Lee Jong Suk and Lee Na Young is undeniable, and they definitely have great on-screen chemistry together. They play off of each other so well that it’s easy to believe that they could actually be falling in love in real life (even though we know that is not the case).
Another concept that I loved in Romance is a Bonus Book is the idea that not just our own lives are formed by various books – some sad, some happy, some empowering, etc, all of which symbolize the stages of our life, the events we go through, but that people themselves are like a book.
So fall in love with someone who is like a book, a book that brings you warmth, that brings you joy, and one that you can rely on. Fall in love with a book that you look forward to rereading time and time again and one that will continue to surprise you and gain a different meaning each time you open it.
This brings us back to the series title – Romance is a Bonus Book. Romance is not something we absolutely need to experience in our lives (depends on who you are asking…), but it is a bonus that some will be fortunate to find. If you do find it, cherish it.
I am not a writer however I do hope that I managed to give a satisfactory explanation and make the ideas come across as intended. All of the above definitely sounded way better in my head than it did on paper, but please do not let it deter you from enjoying this drama.
Romance is a Bonus Book is truly a beautiful story filled with some great reflection-worthy material.
The soundtrack is up to par as well with some songs I now have downloaded onto my phone. The artists are incredible and I look forward to exploring more of their work. Another thing I do wish to mention is that the songs fit the story incredibly well and add just a tiny bit more to the whole setting, but are not there to compensate for anything. Think of the songs like the sprinkles on top of a sundae.
The one thing I am sorry about which is by no means anyone’s fault other than my own is potentially missing some of the cultural nuances that I am unfamiliar with. However, for the most part, any such aspects are explained quite well even if not necessarily through words so any viewer regardless of background is able to grasp them. Plus at its core, the k-drama is all about love in its various forms and love is a universal language.
Beyond the beautiful story which I am sure will stay with me for a very long time, Romance is a Bonus Book is also a great way to start immersing yourself in this type of series. I may be biased here, but after watching over 100 series, there is no other k-drama I can think of that would have been a better fit for a “first”, not for me anyway. Had I not started with this one, I am not sure whether I would have watched so many afterward.
This particular story was incredibly retable, light for the most part, or at least presented in a light way if we are going to be accurate here, but also meaningful.
This was an odd discussion, wasn’t it? I haven’t found myself so affected by a series or book in a long time. It came out of nowhere and it all started from watching a cute trailer that more or less popped up in front of my eyes while browsing Netflix.
I am glad that I have spent 16 or so hours watching the Korean drama as it brought up some interesting aspects and questions that I need to consider. Also, watching the series left me with a sense of calm, of joy, as odd as it may sound. Yes, I did end up watching all the episodes and do wish there were more, but I am happy with the time I got to spend with Cha Eun Ho and Kang Dan-i, plus the rest of the characters.
I have no idea whether I managed to successfully convey my thoughts and feelings about the drama, but I hope that I have. I definitely recommend that you give the series a go, if you do not enjoy it, you can always find another one, one that brings you as much joy as Romance is a Bonus Book brought me.
Have you watched Romance is a Bonus Book? What did you think of this drama?