So I decided to review this web drama I saw this Sunday/Monday (I actually stayed up until 4AM to finish it since I started it at around past midnight???) while my feelings are still fresh because I just have so much happiness in me right now because of this show. It’s all I can talk about now. So forgive me too if this will just devolve into a squealy mess because I HAVE A SHIP AND I AM SHIPPING THEM SO HARD. Read on for my review! (Thank you Charlie for recommending me this drama! And for telling me that WINNER makes a cameo! HAHAHA)
In Part-Time Idol, Kim Min-kyo (Strong Woman Do Bong-soon) plays Jung Tae-kyung, a ~genius~ producer and co-founder of YZ Entertainment, who produced so many top idol groups such as Big Bang and 2NE1 among others. Eight years ago, he suddenly quit being a producer and supposedly went somewhere to live an ascetic life and meditate. Then in 2017, in tattered monk clothing and so much facial hair, he comes back to Korea and to YZ Entertainment. He even sees another popular idol group WINNER outside with fangirls screaming. (WINNER cameo!!! The major reason I started watching this web drama was for those few glorious seconds.) He tries to get inside the building, which almost ends up in futility, until his co-founder sees him and recognizes him.
Of course, the CEO of the company is ruffled that he’s back and in case you can’t feel it yet, he’s our villain in here. Tae-kyung requests to be able to create and produce a co-ed idol group. He picks trainees that he saw earlier while coming to the company and the CEO notes that his choices are the problematic ones. Which is fine and perfect for Tae-kyung. The CEO lets him have his way, all the while planning sinister things to stop Tae-kyung.
Let’s get right to the trainees. From top left, we have Hwang Seung-eun as Soo-ah, who’s a good singer, but has debilitating stage fright. She ends up running to the bathroom whenever she has to perform for someone (even for just one person!) but whenever she’s in the comfort room, she gets calm and can sing. In the top middle is Kim Hee-jung as Hee-jung, a trainee with anger management problems. She’s easily irritated, blunt, brutally honest, and very prickly. And on top right is Akdong Musician’s Lee Su-hyun as Su-hyun. She basically plays herself (while Haha plays Chan-hyuk since Chan-hyuk is in the army right now) but in the story, she can’t hit her high notes because she lost self-esteem without her brother. There’s a bit that she thinks that everyone who cheers for AKMU (Akdang Musician in the story) is only cheering for her brother and without her brother, she’s nothing. As for the boys, on the left we have Kwon Young-deuk as Young-deuk, who joined the team later on as their main dancer and choreographer. He was a trainee already before Tae-kyung left the industry so he’s the oldest one and is already working as a choreographer, although it’s still his dream to debut as an idol. Lastly, on the bottom right, we have JBJ’s Kwon Hyun-bin as Hyun-bin, a trainee who’s got no talent, doesn’t practice, and is just concerned about his fame and SNS followers.
So I already blabbed A LOT about the characters and the premise of the show and if I say more, I might just cover the whole show since it’s just so short. Netflix has it at five episodes, clocking in at 30 minutes each. It’s a really short drama and it is sooooo satisfying since it’s basically an underdog story and a misfits-banding-together one at that too. They face challenges and these characters are just ones that you’d root for. They’re hardworking and innately kind, even though they can also be petty. In general, they’re just all so cute together and I love seeing them together, facing and solving their problems.
Part-Time Idol constitutes as brainless watching. It’s fluffy and the stakes aren’t too high and you probably already know what’s going to happen. But it’s so entertaining that I didn’t even notice the time pass. Aside from characters you’d immediately root for, I like the comedy in this. It veers on some slapstick and campy ones but I like that kind of humor too (unless it’s uncalled for or too much or not landing well) so I was legitimately chuckling a lot of times.
But really, the reason why I’m so into this show is because of the subtle loveline between Su-hyun and Hyun-bin. THEY ARE SO CUTE BEYOND WORDS. TOO PRECIOUS. It’s so obvious that they like each other and their tiptoe around it was so cute and very real too. Su-hyun doesn’t know if Hyun-bin likes her too and Hyun-bin doesn’t know if someone as famous as Su-hyun would even look his way. And it’s just subtle enough that you’re left screaming that you want MORE MORE MORE. Hyun-bin has these little telling moves that just screams I LIKE SU-HYUN but of course, our girl is oblivious. He always looks at her to check how is she or whatever. Of course, Su-hyun makes her own moves too and he’s as oblivious too and as the audience, I just want them together. They’re just too cute, okay. And adorable and sweet to each other.
As someone familiar with kpop and idol culture and a bit of pop culture events, I also enjoyed how meta Part-Time Idol was. Hyun-bin was in Produce 101 and according to my sister, he was also talentless at first but ended up raking in fans because of how much he improved. I liked how they’re basically just playing themselves. Young-deuk is actually one-half of the famous twin back-up dancers in YG. I did tell Charlie that it feels like YG produces these web dramas (e.g. Love for a Thousand More, We Broke Up) to have an avenue for their actors to act. Kim Hee-jung was a child actress and it’s a bit saddening that unlike other child actresses, she wasn’t able to transition to mainstream popularity. She was in Love for a Thousand More (linked is my review!) as the second female lead, while Hwang Seung-eun was the heroine in that. As for Hyun-bin, prior to being in JBJ due to Produce 101, he’s a model at YGK+. So basically this is an all-YG cast.
All in all, I really enjoyed Part-Time Idol and I’ve actually rewatched scenes between Su-hyun and Hyun-bin twice since I saw the show. They just bring so much happiness to me and I smile just thinking about them. I do hope you give Part-Time Idol a chance. I love how short web dramas are and when you come across with something as satisfying as this one, it’s hard to let it go and stop rewatching. I’ll leave you with this cute interaction between Su-hyun and Hyun-bin during the Part-Time Idol showcase as filmed by a fancam. Su-hyun sings CN BLUE’s “Love Light”! She calls him oppa! Hyun-bin can’t look at her and he’s so shy! I DIE