Learning to Smile
88 Street – Synopsis
A web drama that portrays the modern days mentality through those who have various syndromes.
Native and/or alternative titles: 88번지, 88-beon-ji
Countries: South Korea
Director: Kim Jeong Han
Writer: Kim Jeong Han
Cast: Choi Jong Hoon (FT Island), Oh Seung Ah (Rainbow, Rainbow Pixie), Yoon Ye Hee, Kim Jae Hyun, Jang Ji Seon, Yoo Hyun Soo, Moon Soo Ah
88 Street – Review
I have to say that I picked up 88 Street because I was bored and also because seemed a little interesting…. So did it live up to my expectations? Let’s find out!
The story revolves mainly around a girl named Yoo Somi (Oh Seung Ah) who suffers from a condition called Cornelia De Lange Syndrome which supposedly keeps her from controlling her emotions and instinctively suppressing her emotions and expressions. Although, the drama mainly focused on the fact that she can’t laugh. So, Yoo Somi, in an attempt to treat a condition goes to live in a house (88th Street) where a person named Marco (Choi Jong Hoon) treats various people suffering from different mental conditions.
The people in the house suffer from syndromes like smile mask syndrome (Yeon Sung) or a selfie obsession (Woo Sung), wanting to feel loved (Kwon Yuri) and so on. Yoo Somi, living amongst these people and under Marco’s care manages to open up a little more and starts on the road to recovery only to find out that her sister, who died and suffered from the same condition, used to go out with Marco.
The acting is quite good and the quality of production and direction is really good as well. I enjoyed the screenplay too. But mostly, I appreciated the fact that the drama tried to bring up a topic which even with todays’ relatively modern and liberal mindset is considered a taboo subject. Mental health or mental conditions/syndromes still are not very acceptable nor is there enough awareness about them. So, this drama attempting to bring up the problems of mental health and mental behaviour was a well-needed effort.
I also liked some of the lines from the drama a lot. Especially in the first episode the psychology professor, in her lecture, mentions that almost everyone is suffering from some or the other syndrome like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or Work-holism but 90% of the people don’t realize this. This simply brings to light how less people understand and are aware about psychology and mental health which, if left untreated, could become more serious and result in physical manifestations through tics or health problems.
However, despite this drama tackling social and mental behavioural syndromes, it was lacking an Oomph factor and didn’t quite stand up to the message it was trying to express. The main character Yoo Somi’s syndrome, as far as my research shows, is not represented accurately and even throughout the drama, it fails to highlight the issues well or give any proper clarification about her condition. The drama continuously focuses on the fact that Yoo Somi is incapable of smiling because of her condition.
I felt that the character development was poorly done and the syndromes shown in the drama were also not thoroughly researched. When I did a brief search on google about the syndrome it did not mention anything about such a symptom and condition and mentioned that Cornelia De Lange Syndrome is a genital defect with physical and mental manifestations. So this really confused me about what exactly the makers of this drama are aiming at when they haven’t gotten a decent grasp of the main syndrome of their drama.
The story is also not very impactful and loses steam from the second episode itself. I actually pushed myself to finish the drama with the hope that something good will happen but till the end it was disappointment.
In the end, even though the ending was sort of good, it is not worth going through the ten episodes in the middle even though each episode is only about 10 minutes.
I would say skip it. I personally do not feel this drama is worth the time. It is most likely to leave the viewer feel unsatisfied, confused and cheated. So, despite the entire series being just 2 hours long (approximately), chuck it, there are better dramas out there.
But if you are still curious about the syndromes or maybe just are in a lull and want to kill some time and have nothing better to do then you could maybe give it a whirl. But I still strongly recommend against it.
Have you seen ‘88 Street’? What do you think about it? If you haven’t seen it, do you plan to watch it?