Unnie Life Lessons: Learnings from Romance is a Bonus Book

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” — this is the best way to describe Romance is a Bonus Book as a korean drama. I initially thought I wouldn’t like it and will just watch it because of Lee Jong Suk but as each episode progressed, it was impossible for me to stop watching this show. Honestly, I think it was because the first few episodes were brutal and it showed how miserable our main female lead, Kang Dan Yi, was trying to get her life back together. I’m glad that I stuck it out until the very end and watched my way to a happy yet believable ending.

I loved writing and reading books ever since I was a kid so this kdrama opened my eyes more to the world of publishing and criticism. It’s not easy creating content that other people will find interesting as you do or have your thoughts published for everyone to read, but seeing the process and effort that go into this industry is admirable. I loved seeing how the people at Gyeoroo Publishing (the publishing company where our characters work at) made the collective effort in marketing, editing, and designing a book — it solidifies my appreciation that I’d still buy and read a physical book rather than an e-book.

Before I delve into my realizations for this kdrama, I just have to air out my love hate relationship with Dan Yi. The main reason why I thought I wouldn’t love Romance is a Bonus Book is because of her! I love that she doesn’t give up easily even when the challenges are stacked against her, but her attitude in asking for help sucks. She needed a place to sleep, food to eat, the basic necessities to live — she sneaked around in Eun Ho’s house to do all that and I get that there was a comedic approach to it, but when Eun Ho finally caught her, she wasn’t even apologetic. It’s like she feels entitled to have ate and lived at his house because of her homeless situation. Why couldn’t she have just expressed her thankfulness instead? She’s a little rough around the edges, but that could be because of what she’s been through (Divorced, being a devoted housewife/mom who forgot to take care of herself in the process, no luck in finding a job for more than a year already), but why take it out on your best and only friend? I appreciate the fact that even though she’s 37 years old here, she’s still eager to try and work hard especially with her job. She didn’t conform to what was only asked of her (Clerical work), but she wanted to learn or rather, re-learn, an industry that she was good at before (She was an advertising executive before she quit work). I know I’d become cranky and moody when I put myself in her shoes but I wouldn’t direct it towards my closest friends if ever.

On the bright side, her character does get better and waaay more tolerable as her experience in going to work again peeled Dan Yi’s protective layers one by one to reveal her true, forgotten self. A kind, loyal, and brave woman who can admit to her mistakes, be compassionate, and fight for a good life that she deserves.

For a brief summary of this show, please check out my previous post to catch up! ๐Ÿ™‚

Unnie Life Lessons

1. We get cold feet or wonder if we actually get the very thing we want, would we actually live up to the expectations that such an opportunity entails? As long as we do our best and make an effort, everything will be okay. The end result doesn’t matter as much as the experience we get from taking risks/chances.

  • I can relate to this sentiment.. feeling ecstatic that I got something that I truly wanted (Ex. A job) but suddenly feeling scared because I might screw up such an opportunity because I lack in many ways. I agree with Dan Yi that if we decide to take a step forward, we’ll somehow find the strength to continue and enjoy the very thing we we’re afraid of in the first place. We can still be scared at times or go through challenges but we’ll find a way to deal with such matters because we already took the leap.
  • We can’t just sit around and do nothing with our life because we’re afraid of failing or making mistakes. We have to try, in any way, to achieve our goals and dreams even if it means facing some rejections and setbacks. It’s scary, believe me I know, but we can’t let these fears intimidate us from working hard and making an effort ๐Ÿ™‚

2. What we feel towards a particular person or experience years ago, months, or even yesterday can change. We see them in a new light because we have changed internally.

  • Dan Yi was telling Seo Jun (the 1/3 of the love triangle) about her feelings for Eun Ho thru a metaphor. She thought that she had him all figured out but lately, she realizes that the book she’s known and cherished for so long (Eun Ho) suddenly had new lines (Her noticing his romantic feelings & she realizing she has those feelings too) that she never read before. This is such a nice way to represent how people’s sentiments can change overtime even on something familiar.
  • Just like a past book that we reread years or even just a few months later, the words can impart a new & different meaning because we ourselves have changed. Change meaning we’ve been through more experiences and our opinions can differ from before and what we once felt for something can become the opposite. We feel upset or troubled because of a break-up, job rejection, or a family conflict at one point in time but when we go thru these again, it might not be as hard as the 1st time we experienced them. Or we find something uncomfortable that we didn’t want to do, even as simple as eating veggies (hee), enjoyable now.

The change of heart comes from within ourselves because our priorities have shifted. The reason could stem from external factors (People and experience). It means that our feelings have matured and this is not a bad thing — it just shows that we have a better grasp of what we truly desire in life. It’s okay to be a little apprehensive or cautious but don’t be afraid to embrace change if it feels right.


I learned a lot from Romance is a Bonus Book but the 2 main ones above are all I can list down. The rest is a general appreciation for a korean drama where we can find ourselves as the main character insomeone who is lost and desperate but can still find success and happiness with the help of our loved ones and determination to keep moving forward.

What started as a rough and tough few chapters ended up with the most beautiful pages a book can ever have. Dan Yi and Eun Ho were able to heal themselves with each other’s help and both were able to admit their long time buried feelings for each other. I thought their chemistry wouldn’t work but the support and mutual respect they have for each other proved that their relationship is indeed meant to be.

As we savour the last few sentences of Romance is a Bonus Book, I take a breath of relief and smile at the way the show ended. The middle up until the last few pages was much lighter and you’d get the feeling that despite a few more hiccups in our protagonists lives, they would be able to recover faster and better this time around. Even when we put a good book on a shelf because we have finished reading it, the fact that we can always take it out and revisit the story anytime is reassuring.

Unnie Recommends: That Psychometric Guy

The ability to touch is a powerful sense part in parcel with how we function as human beings. The sensation or emotions that spring from a physical contact can even dictate our actions or sentiments towards a particular subject. But what if one touch can reveal so much more?

Current Impression

That Psychometric Guy is the newest kdrama from TVN: It has mystery, romance, tragedy, comedy, and murder — basically all the great makings of a great show (Don’t let me down midway!) ๐Ÿ˜œ Playing someone who can access someone or something’s memories when touched, Lee An is a gifted but troublemaking high school student who finds clues in dead bodies of victims to help identify culprits in crime cases. He first discovers his unique gift when he was a kid after both his parents died in an elevator caused by a fire incident. I like that the show didn’t go with “the secret power will be revealed much later” plot and that a number of important people actually know his ability already. He can only access pieces of memories and not the whole picture but who knows if he can develop his psychometric abilities even more.

Like many other korean dramas though, the story is rooted in childhood connections where a much larger destiny is laid out for the main characters. Lee An meets Yee Jae In, another troubled but very smart girl who he gets into a perverted misunderstanding when they first met. Although she hides the scars of her past, her true, bold, and defender personality shines through as she reluctantly gets to know Lee An to solve a problem. She learns about his psychometric ability pretty quickly which will most likely result inyo hilarious and bickering moments between them moving forward.

I admit that when I don’t know the actors/actresses playing the titular roles, I get skeptical of the kdrama’s quality but in this case, seeing is definitely believing and the 4 main protagonists are so far convincing & appealing to watch. I’m not sure how Lee An and the prosecutor, Kang Sung Mo (the guy pictured above) are related other than they have a brother like relationship but it seems as if he knows a lot more than he lets on.

It’s fresh, exciting, and stimulates our brains to think; if you’re looking to try a different kind of kdrama, That Psychometric Guy is indeed your guy ๐Ÿ˜œ

Unnie Thoughts: Self Care to NOT escape your reality

Anyeong! ๐Ÿ™‚ Veering away from my usual korean drama posts, I wanted to share something that really got my attention. I recently came across a quote that one of my good friends posted in her Instagram story and it got me really thinking about what it means to take care of ourselves. The quote is:

True self-care is not about salt baths and chocolate cake. It is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

http://www.instagram.com/briannawiest

It was particularly striking because it was the first time that I read/heard of self-care not defined as pampering yourself or taking an hour or two to destress or escape from the mundane. I’ve always considered watching korean dramas as a form of “escape” from my real life because I don’t think about my own problems for 30 minutes – 1 hour and merely become an observer of someone else’s life. I can pry and make comments about a character’s decision, cheer for them for attaining their goals, and revel in their journey when they have conquered their plights. I started thinking that instead of treating my interest as an escape, couldn’t it just be considered a part of my life that I find enjoyable?

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with indulging ourselves at times because waking up every single day and going through the same routine can drive us crazy. But the thing is, I also don’t think that the saying above means that we’re not allowed to destress, but rather, I think it calls for a shift in perspective –– a change in mindset that instead of trying to escape the mundane, we create a life that we can enjoy on a regular basis and not need to break away from. It’s being able to deal with your life the best way you can with habits and plans that nurture yourself.

I enjoy watching korean dramas but it did reach a point where I just “had to” catch an episode because I had a stressful time at work and I deserve to unwind. Although I can argue that it’s not an extraordinary way to indulge myself, I realize that the feeling of deserving something because of an unfair situation is entitlement. I just had to buy a Starbucks drink, order take-out food, or I need to buy that luxury bag — I thought it was self-care because I felt good after treating myself. But the reasons behind those actions were just to satisfy an exhausted or entitled part of myself. Again, there is nothing wrong in treating yourself but ask yourself: How can I truly take care of myself when I’m always depending on something else to make me feel happy? Is it even happiness or just a temporary spurt of glee?

If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, itโ€™s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with โ€œtreating yourselfโ€ and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.

https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest

With so many unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances that can sprout in our lives, building a life that we can learn to be satisfied with takes time, courage, and the willingness to accept mistakes and learn from them. It’s not meant to be easy because real happiness and satisfaction stems from a mixture of good and bad experiences, and that’s okay.

I still stand by the fact making plans to travel, buy an iced coffee, or go on a shopping spree once in awhile if you feel good or just want to do such a thing. It’s the how often you do it and reason why that signals the difference of these habits being defined as true self-care or I need to do this because I am stressed. It’s different for everyone but I think that taking care of ourselves doesn’t have to involve special events or occurrences all the time. Reading a book, taking a power nap, talking with your family and friends, or watching korean dramas — simple but isn’t this what life is all about anyway? ๐Ÿ˜‰

*For further reading, check out the author’s post here:

Unnie Recommends: The Light in Your Eyes

If you had the power to alter an important event in your life, would you take it knowing that the costs will hurt you? To go back and change a certain aspect in our lives is tempting and from what we’ll see in this kdrama, there are consequences involved in making any decision.

The Light in Your Eyes leans toward a more melodrama type of show than comedic and/or romantic๐Ÿ˜ If you can tolerate something serious and still laugh at funny scenes on a whim, this kdrama is something for you!

Current Impression

The Light in Your Eyes stars Han Ji Min (Familiar Wife) and Nam Joo Hyuk (Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo) as two people living the harsh realities of adulthood. Her character, Kim Hye Ja, dreams of becoming a news anchor due to a nonchalant comment her brother’s friend said when she was young. If you’re wondering why an ahjumma (Older lady in Korean) is in the kdrama poster, it’s because the story involves a time travel aspect. I’m interested to see the rules and mechanics of time travel in this show but as the first 2 episodes have shown, the consequences are tiresome.

I found a disconnect at the start though because I felt like they introduced her “ability” to time travel rather too quickly and the rest of the episode didn’t tackle the subject until the end which made me feel like that magical aspect (Time travel) was not as special as it should have been. She found a gold watch at the beach when she was a kid that magically turned back time when she winded the watch. This scene was shown less than 10 minutes in the 1st episode. A montage of her using the watch to her advantage as she grew up was shown next but because her physical appearance aged more quickly as a consequence, she decided to stop using the watch altogether. The story just went back to showing Hye Ja’s struggles in finding a job and her daily life as an adult. I’m probably just being too critical but even I’m sure the magic of the watch will dazzle me with surprises later on.

Nam Joo Hyuk’s character here, Lee Joon Ha, is in the broadcasting industry already who wants to become a reporter someday. I thought he would be more fortunate than Hye Ja but it seems like they are stuck in the same boat of misery — with the latter having no job and wants to give up on being a news anchor while Joon Ha deals with family and financial problems. They become unlikely friends due to a misunderstanding and Hye Ja has developed a crush on him already. They do have chemistry but I’d rather they grow into happier versions of themselves first without needing the other person’s affection to validate their self worth.

I realize that I’m describing the plot on the grim side but I promise you that the lighthearted moments and Hye Ja’s antics will balance out the serious tone of this korean drama. I’m sensing that the romance will play a part in their journey of life but I hope that it’s significance plays out as an effect rather than a cause for self fulfillment.

The Light in Your Eyes deals with the importance of time and how we use it, whether we do nothing or use it to our full advantage, each action entails a consequence that we must live with. We can never get our time back; we just have to deal with the aftermath of our choices and move forward with our lives.

Unnie Recommends: Touch Your Heart

If Sunny and Grim Reaper (Watch “Goblin”) were given another chance at love, this would be their next life together. The two leads in TVN’s newest kdrama, Touch Your Heart, stars two of the hottest love teams to have ever graced the screens of korean drama land. I’m so glad (and I’m sure many other fans) that these two were paired up again but this time the setting is more fun, lighthearted, and no vengeful ghost or messy I-killed-your-brother past is going to get in the way… at least in this story.

Current Impression

Starring Yoo In Na, her character is an actress here, known not for her talent but more on her looks, she plays the naive and innocent Oh Yoon Seo, trying to make a career comeback as a past drug scandal impeded her growth to further stardom. She is assigned to be actor Lee Dong Wook’s assistant, playing an elite lawyer name Kwon Jung Rok, so she could be knowledgable in the field of law for her upcoming TV project.

I like her character here although she’s a bit ditzy (She thought 30 pills was the recommended vitamin dosage instead of this being the number of pills in a bottle), she has a good heart and is grounded in her current situation of being a “has been” actress. At first I thought she was deflecting the negativity but, her way of moving past these moments of insecurities by accepting the gossips and not being confrontational says a lot about her patience and self confidence.

There were numerous moments when she was trying to convince Jung Rok of her popularity by suddenly portraying the past commercials or advertisements she had and she just looks so beautiful yet still comical, hee. Yoon Seo is such a happy go lucky person here and I can’t imagine any other actress to play this role like her.

Based from the first 2 episodes, the love story is going for the love hate relationship style as both leads were bickering like cats and dogs BUT I was surprised at how the hate part is quickly being quashed already. Jung Rok is the typical, icy, and seemingly insensitive male lead (but come on, we all know he has a heart of gold filled with love deep down) but I hope there are more layers behind his character of being a star lawyer. He’s starting to take notice of her presence already and has been recalling her likes and dislikes, although this was made known to him because she isn’t shy to share, it’s so kyeopta (cute) to see how their interactions drastically changed from annoyance to mutual respect. And soon, of course, love โค๏ธ

Touch Your Heart is a light, funny, and feel good korean drama that you can watch to turn a crappy day into a better one instantly. This kdrama has certainly touched this unnie’s heart already, and I hope it makes a mark on yours too! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Unnie Life Lessons: 3 Things My Strange Hero Taught Me

It’s time to say farewell to our lovable and handsome Bok Su as My Strange Hero officially ended this week. I was happily educated and pleased with the life lessons and rooted for the growth of each character in the show. Strangely enough, I grew a fond attachment to Bok Su and his friends, from both periods that he went to high school, who sought out to correct its still corrupt and obviously discriminatory system.

The kdrama concluded with a happy ending, although not ideal for everyone involved, it was a nice to get a glimpse of Bok Su, Soo Jeong, their friends, and the teachers move forward to the next chapter of their lives. It wasn’t an easy journey despite the many comedic and heartwarming moments shared between our characters, but these lighthearted moments remind us that we can still smile despite facing problems.

For a brief overview of My Strange Hero, check out my previous post to catch up ๐Ÿ™‚

Unnie Life Lessons

1. Misunderstandings can be resolved if you make an effort to sort it out. It’s not easy to confront someone who you think betrayed you but, giving a chance for someone to explain their side can free you from unnecessary pain.

  • Son Seo Jeong never bothered to confront Bok Su about the fact that he wasn’t the one who had spread the news that she lived on food stamps and was not rich like her classmates assumed she was. It was a misunderstanding that both of them never bothered to fix when they were still high school students. Nine years later, she finally took a chance to ask and opened up about her painful memories of the same incident. She later finds out her mistake in doubting Bok Su and finds out the truth about what really went down that day between him and Oh Se Ho (One of the show’s main antagonists).
  • Their lives would have been completely different if only they had talked the matter out but given the context of their circumstances (They were high school students at the time), avoiding the issue and dealing with the consequences is a viable scenario. But I’m glad that Soo Jeong was humble enough to apologize to Bok Su profusely when she found out that he was truly innocent.

Let’s not be afraid to seek the truth or ask the hard questions when needed. Our pride or embarrassment can sway us against this but to confront reality is still 100% better than living in an uncertain version of “truth”.

2. You can’t blame your “situation” as an excuse to be a jerk and act high and mighty against others. Someone with an unfortunate background can still rise above the challenges and be a kind and loyal person.

  • This is probably the hardest to do and apply in our daily life. Bok Su had an unfortunate past but he didn’t grew up resentful of his life and managed to start a business with his friends. I know the story revolves around him getting revenge but this was only instigated when he was offered a chance to go back to school a 2nd time. I’m NOT saying that getting revenge is okay when it’s warranted (School corruption) but if he wasn’t given a chance to become a student again, he didn’t have a vengeful or cruel outlook in life regardless.
  • Bok Su was able to forgive Soo Jeong and got along well with the kids in his class as he stood up for them and encouraged them to be better. Having gone through his ordeal, you’d expect a person like that to be miserable or at least not extend a helping hand to other people as much. There are lots of people who didn’t come from a well-off family or who had to work hard for their accomplishments, yet they remain humble and nurturing despite their success or found happiness in their lives.

3. Life is about making mistakes. There’s no perfect formula to ensure that we succeed all the time and that’s okay. We can always learn from every experience and get another chance to do better.

  • In the latter episodes, Bok Su dissuades a student from attempting suicide (He was proven to have cheated on an exam because he had access to the answer sheet) and said a very important advice:
  • We feel upset, angry, or embarrassed when we make a mistake or do something that hurts someone else. The beauty in being human is that we are naturally imperfect — and there’s nothing wrong with that. We strive to be the perfect child/friend/lover or whatever occupation we work at because making a mistake is like admitting that we aren’t enough and our efforts come up short in accomplishing our desired goal. It’s not the end of the world. We can ALWAYS make up for our mistakes and do better next time!
  • My Strange Hero portrayed a lot of opportunities for our characters to redeem themselves and get a fresh start. It won’t be easy but if we acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from the experience, and try again, our breakthrough will come. Of course, having your family and friends by your side when you face such ordeals also lessens the struggles ๐Ÿ™‚

*Extra insight:

In the last episode, Oh Se Ho was able to forgive his mother (who was a bia*** until they very end) despite her cold and downright despicable treatment towards him. He said something touching for me which was:

I realized that healing doesn’t mean you need to hear the person who hurt you apologize or even show compassion towards you. It’s not Oh Se Ho’s fault that his mom treated him that way and it’s also not his fault that Bok Su was beloved by many (Oh Se Ho was jealous of him all this time). We can get better on our own, slowly but surely, if we live for ourselves. No need to please somebody else or convincing them of our self-worth, WE are ALL worthy to live a good and happy life. Though we cannot please everyone, as long as we aren’t hurting anyone with our actions, we’ll be okay.

***

Kang Bok Su not only fought for his own redemption, but also for the other students who were being belittled or bullied. Of course it started out as a revenge plan but, he was able to genuinely help a lot of people gain self confidence, trust in themselves, and embrace who they are as a person. In the process of helping others, he was able to forgive and reveled in his second chance at love, career path, and ever growing friendship with his peers.

All of us are heroes in our own way. We don’t need to perform grand gestures to become one though; the little, everyday things matter a lot — encouraging a friend, making an effort to study harder, and trying to live your life the best way you can despite hardships.. these acts are worthy achievements that anyone can be proud of.

Unnie Recommends: Romance is a Bonus Book

Happy 2019 everyone! It’s a new year filled with many opportunities and experiences just waiting to be discovered. Just like reading a new book, each page brings about a new chapter that we can cherish or learn from as we progress with our daily life.

It’s been awhile since my last post here but I’m eager to share with you guys a new kdrama that premiered recently ๐Ÿ™‚ Entitled “Romance is a Bonus Book”, this show depicts a 37 year old woman, Kang Dan Yi (played by actress Lee Na Young), who tries to find work again after getting divorced. The main male lead here is Cha Eun Ho, portrayed by actor Lee Jong Suk (While you were Sleeping, W), a renown author, university professor, and chief editor of a publishing company. I like the fact that they are long time friends who already know each other’s lives and it’s not a boy meets girl type of story.

Current Impression

It’s such a common theme in kdramas that one of the leads is trying hard to find a job because getting employed is a brutal process. With such a competitive work force, the lead is always burdened in balancing 2 – 3 part time jobs until he/she gets a lucky break as directed by the plot. I do feel that the theme is overused but it does depict the real life situation in Korea, or at least from what I’ve read (Hell Joseon), and it’s always nice to watch a slice of life show that I can learn something from. It imparts the value of patience and hard work, even if we get rejected numerous times, our right timing will always come.

The show is a bit quirky with a song and dance number introduced at the beginning and animated text messages being shown when Eun Ho and Dan Yi communicate. Though the plot seems like an ordinary love story between two friends along with the classic love triangle trope, the nuances in Eun Ho and Dan Yi’s relationship gives a unique spin to the story. She isn’t as open as she could be to him, although this may be due to her pride, but they seem to have an unspoken wall between them. I found it weird as well that Eun Ho was baffled and refused to believe that Dan Yi is looking for a job (he didn’t know she got divorced). I think it’s because they already have romantic feelings towards each other but they both had to bury it somewhere deep since Dan Yi got married already. Anyway, it’s interesting to see how their relationship will progress as more episodes are released.

I’m not sold on this show’s OTP (One True Pair) chemistry though but hopefully I warm up to them soon. Aside from their layered friendship, I think it’s because Dan Yi is not a likeable character. She’s strong willed and persistent but she showed some annoying traits (in the present timeline) that make me feel like she doesn’t deserve Eun Ho. I don’t wan’t to spoil anything but given his considerate treatment towards her, she definitely doesn’t seem too considerate of him.

I am looking forward to seeing each character’s backstories and how the show will progress further. Dan Yi will get a contract job at Eun Ho’s company and how their personal and professional lives will intertwine will surely lead them closer to each other. Even if I’m not a fan of their love team just yet, I can at least root for Dan Yi to get her life back together.

A new year can mean a chance to start anew, just like a plot twist or an unforeseen development, anyone can get a fresh start for a shot at their happy ending. Gaining self fulfilment and getting back on your feet is always a good story but getting a second chance to fall in love is a nice bonus too.