Backstreet Rookie (2020)

Drama: Convenience Store Saetbyul (편의점 샛별이)
Network: SBS
Episodes: 16
Release Date: June 19 – August 8, 2020
Runtime: Friday & Saturday 22:00

Choi Dae Hyun runs his family’s convenience store. One day, Jung Saetbyul comes in to apply for a part timer in the convenience store. Their lives were never the same again. A beautiful story about family, relationships and overcoming life’s troubles and achieving your dreams.

Main Cast
Ji Chang Wook – Choi Dae Hyun
Kim Yoo Jung – Jung Saetbyul
Han Sun Hwa – Jung Yeon Joo
Ahn Sol Bin – Jung Eunbyul
Kim Min Kyu – Kang Ji Wook
Seo Ye Hwa – Hwang Geumbi
Eum Moon Suk – Han Dalsik
Kim Sun Young – Kong Bong Hee
Lee Byung Joon – Choi Yongpil

There were so many negative feedback even before this drama started, but I wanted to watch this for myself before I judge this drama so that at least my opinion is actually based on facts and not just what i read in the headlines or articles.

Just from the trailer and the plot alone, you wouldn’t realize that this story is actually about family and personal worth. We have 3 main families here, Daehyun’s family, Yeonjoo’s family and the Jung sisters.

Daehyun’s family may be average/middle class but i think his parents raised him well. I’m not going to talk about the sister because i think her character was made to be more of a comic relief. Daehyun is sweet and sensitive. He works hard, supportive and willing to put his life and job on the line to protect his loved ones.

His mother is especially amazing. Even when she knew what happened to Daehyun and her husband, she sucked it in and accepted the money from Yeonjoo’s mother to be able to become the Queen of Insurance. Great performance by Kim Sun Young here, i could every pain that she must have felt. Likewise, the moving scene between the parents when they were eating chicken feet made me cry a lot. They may not be rich, but everyone has their own and no one has the right to trample on them. Likewise, i love that the family knows their value and didn’t let Yeonjoo’s family break them.

The only thing that i disliked is after all that Yeonjoo’s mom did to Daehyun – she told him to go back to Yeonjoo! WHAT!! i thought this was totally out of her character and was just created for a last minute conflict heading to the finale. And her reason is because she didn’t want Daehyun to become like her. Again, here are people who do not seem to realize and give Daehyun a chance to show them how great and successfull he can be. he doesnt need Yeonjoo’s money and connections. It didn’t matter to him at all. And again, it’s a lesson for use viewers – that it’s okay to be average and not yearn for money or success. What’s more important is doing things what would make you happy and not lose your self-worth.

On the other hand, Yeonjoo’s family is wealthy but looks down on people. The mom was really so terrible. Daehyun’s family has always been simple and never arrogant, and they did not deserve being insulted and humiliated the way Yeonjoo’s family did. and Yeonjoo’s behavior did not help. She may have loved Daehyun, but not enough to fully accept him. She lied partly because she didn’t want Daehyun’s attitude to change and partly because she is also embarrassed of him. That she can’t even trust Daehyun to not be a golddigger and that he is honorable enough that he will work hard to support her in the future.

Daehyun tried his best and gave it all for Yeonjoo but she just neglected his efforts. When she realized how bad Director Cho was, it was too late to see Daehyun for what he was – great guy that she was stupid enough to let go. And i’m glad she did, because Daehyun deserves a better girl, who will accept him and support him. And even after Yeonjoo is regretful and tried to begged Daehyun to come back to her, instead of repenting and being a better person, she resorted to the same tactics that Director Cho did to Daehyun, but attacking Saetbyul secretly.

Ugh! I didn’t like the end where she just decided to go to the US. It felt like she just ran away and didn’t even admit or apologized to Daehyun. Also the final scene when Daehyun’s mom schooled Yeonjoo’s mom was also not enough/felt too rushed. But i guess Yeonjoo’s mom will never change and what’s more important is showing Daehyun’s mom standing up for her family and know she is worth so much more than all the money that Yeonjoo’s family has.

The Jung sisters had a tough life. Even when they keep taking hits, Saetbyul continued to be a good person, and it’s all because of her dad. The dad may have passed away but he made an impact not only on the sisters’ lives, but also on Jiwook and Daehyun’s lives, which is amazing. Eunbyul may come off as a selfish brat, but i also realized how tough it must have been to grow up without parents, with no money and continued pressures from her school mates. I’m glad that her dream of being an idol came true, and all her hard work started to pay off. Maybe she can help Saetbyul this time around, with money and generally jsut to not be such a trouble maker.

More than following Daehyun around and wanting to be with him, what i appreciate most about Saetbyul is that she is one tough and mature lady. She may be young but she grew up early and is hard working, just like Daehyun. I think Saetbyul was even more mature than Yeonjoo, who is supposedly older and wiser.

A lot of people were uncomfortable because she was too young compared to Daehyun, who is supposed to be 30, but I’d say other than education, they are almost on the same level. They understand each other. They support each other. They can even tell what one is thinking even through their own funny gestures. As they say, age doesn’t matter. I see this no different from a 25 year old woman falling in love with a 40 year old guy and this happens in real life.

I think it just feels weird seeing Saetbyul (and Geumbi) wearing high school uniforms. But the story starts 3 years after when they first met, and Saetbyul is perfectly of legal age at this point. And all through out the show and even in the last episode, the drama was sensitive enough not to show any kissing scenes or anything sexual. They were usually more hugging and holding hands, yet still showed how pure and romantic their love is.

Also, i loved that every time Saetbyul feels down or doubts herself, Daehyun is always the first to tell her that she is amazing. That she is enough and she has done a lot at such a young age. I was sad that Saetbyul did the noble idiot thing, but I could understand why. She felt so grateful for Daehyun’s family for taking her in and she didn’t want to be the one that betrays and causes hurt to their family, esp the mom. I wish there a scene between mom and Saetbyul for mom to apologize for what she said though.

And I was honestly expecting a time jump, especially when Daehyun said he is willing to wait for her when she’s ready. But it was episode 16 and they had to rush the ending, which is okay although it felt rushed and everyone wrapped up so quickly.

The other problematic that non-viewers hated was Dalsik’s character. i personally loved The Fiery Priest so i have a very soft spot for the actor, Eum Moon Suk. Likewise, i can see that the humor from the Fiery Priest carried over into some of the scenes and dialogues, although less laugh out funny. I think the Eum Moon Suk’s pairing with Seo Yehwa was pure gold! Yehwa as Geumbi was so funny and charming, although OTT sometimes.

A lot of people are saying Dalsik’s character totally disrespected black culture, but Dalsik never tried to be black in the show. He never acted black except for wearing the dreads and the Jamaican clothes. He loves Marley and he is writing a webtoon about a reggae boy. To get into character, he dressed up like one so he could feel the emotions of the webtoon he is writing about. I heard instances where actors/actresses do the same thing, so that they can get into character. and after he finished writing the webtoon, he changed his whole appearance. Likewise, how many of you have fangirled/fanboyed so much that you copied your favorite person’s/character’s clothes, mannerisms, interests? Aren’t we all the same? Some people even go to the extreme and do plastic surgery to look like their idols.

As for Geumbi and Dalsik, at the start, they provided a lot of the gross and funny comedy, but there’s also a lesson to be learned here. They only looked at each other’s appearance and hated each other. But once they started talking to each other, they realized how much in common they have. And we do that a lot of times. If we can get past the biases that we have, it will open us to a lot more great opportunities that we would have missed because we focused on not learning more. Just like how people immediately crossed this drama off their list without even giving it a chance.

And turns out Dalsik’s family is actually rich! Even wealthier than Geumbi’s family! But despite that, Dalsik was never arrogant. He wanted to make it on his own and didn’t used his family’s wealth to get ahead. That’s another lesson right there folks!

Last comparison, Geumbi’s family and Dalsik’s family are both rich, but they grew up to be good people, vs Yeonjoo’s family who is also rich but treats people badly. Again, not all families and people are the same. So we need to treat each other with the same respect as we do for others.

Overall, i loved this drama because the characters are relatable and there are so many lessons to be learned/reminded of that we can use in our own lives.

Rating: 8.5/10