Friday Feature: Launching pad

Where are the best places to declare your love or get some drunken skinship? It’s all about location, location, location.

The roof

If you were to read a manga set in a high school, you might be forgiven for thinking that all important conversations take place on rooftops. K-dramas also frequently employ this location, sometimes because it’s a convenient place to have a private conversation, and sometimes because the characters live there.

In my favourite K-drama of all time, “First Shop of Coffee Prince”, Choi Han Gyul lives in a fantastic apartment on a rooftop, where he first meets Go Eun Chan when she comes by to deliver jjajangmyeon. When the two of them get together, they not only end up cuddling over breakfast on the patio, but he also serenades her over the phone while gazing at the sunset.

Jang Hye Sung’s rooftop apartment in “I Hear Your Voice” becomes a love nest of sorts for herself and Park Soo Ha, when they’re forced to live together to escape a murderer who is targeting them both. There was a similar forced cohabitation in a rooftop apartment in “Rooftop Prince”, though the reasoning behind that was even more nonsensical.

The rooftop itself became a safe haven for Oh Hye Won and Lee Sun Jae in “Secret Love Affair”, where Hye Won could hide whenever Sun Jae had visitors, and Sun Jae could take out his early morning frustrations on his punching bag. And, not even the cold could prevent them from engaging in post-coital rooftop snuggling. – Only 만

Jjimjilbang


There is little chance of an actual hanky panky in the communal environment of a Korean sauna. However, a couple can spend the night together lying side by side without arousing too much outrage.

In “I Need Romance 3”, Joo Yeon actually goes to the jjimjilbang to escape her housemate, Wan. Wan follows her, and ends up enveloping her in a full body hug. The other clients appear not to notice their public display of writhing arms and legs.

Hyung Joon’s family owns a jjimjilbang in “Miss Korea”. It is while working the front desk as a teenager that he comes in contact with the flirty Ji Young. Of course, as an employee, Hyung Joon could not actually interact with Ji Young inside the sauna. However, he sure looked longingly at the door of the women’s change room. – Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다

The office

For our busy modern K-drama characters, where else to fall in love, but at work? Thrown together in an office setting, paltry concerns like getting their job done fall by the wayside in favour of making eyes at their beloved over the cubicle wall.

Currently airing, “King of High School Savvy” features teenaged hockey player Lee Min Suk pretending to be his older brother at work, while romancing his secretary, Jung Soo Young. The two leads have the combined discretion of a 5-year-old, so they express their love by making hearts with their fingers through the office blinds, and planning secret lunches à deux via hand signals and text messages.

In “Cunning Single Lady”, once software CEO Cha Jung Woo realizes he’s still interested in his ex-wife, an intern in his company, he starts dropping in on her at work on the lamest of pretexts. At one point, he institutes an emergency drill for the entire building so he can have a little alone time. In fact, he only realizes he’s in serious danger of losing her when she goes for a job interview elsewhere.

When weirdo chaebol Cha Ji Heon of “Protect the Boss” gets saddled with weirdo secretary No Eun Sol, he quickly falls for her when she helps him finally get his work done. Not wanting to lose her job, she fights the attraction, but in the end she also succumbs to his oddball charms. –

Love Hotel


The love hotel, where guests pay by the hour, is the most lurid setting possible. Yet, K-dramas find every possible excuse to get the lead characters to a love hotel under the most innocent of pretenses. Usually, the couple is forced by heavy rain or alcohol consumption or circumstance to shack up at a love motel.

As students, So Ra and Joon Soo end up at a love hotel drenched from a storm in “Color of Women”. She exits the bathroom with every intention of giving up her virginity. Unfortunately, Joon Soo has escaped in a panic, and is seen running down the street. Despite the distance, So Ra hears Joon Soo scream that he does not want to sleep with her. This rather traumatizing love hotel experience is the basis of the love-hate relationship between the lead characters.

In “What’s Up Fox?”, drunk Ko Byung Hee throws Park Chul Su’s car keys of into the sea late one night. Stranded outside of the city, they are forced to find cheap accommodations at a love motel. Byung Hee ends up using the circular water bed for its intended purpose against Chul Su’s will. Chul Su does eventually give in to his environment.

“I Do, I Do” features both alcohol and heavy rain as the reasons Ji An and Tae Gang end up at a love motel. They end up sleeping together, and the resulting pregnancy becomes the basis of the entire series.

The contraptions in one love motel room cause Lee Sun Jae to blush in “Secret Love Affair”. Yet, he manages to reserve a room without the extras so that his stressed teacher, Oh Hye Won can rest. Unfortunately, Hye Won panics and abruptly leaves Sun Jae stranded without warning. Sun Jae trudges home rather than enjoy the love hotel alone. – 중국어 캐나다

Noraebangs & Nightclubs

What’s more conducive to love than music, darkness, and strobe lights? Nothing, says “City Hunter”, where Lee Yoon Sung and Kim Na Na share their first kiss in a nightclub. Sure, he was just doing it to get away from another woman, but still; there was physical contact, and that’s always significant in K-dramaland.

A pickup attempt may or may not lead to more on the first episode of “It’s Okay, It’s Love”, where Jang Jae Yul pursues Ji Hae Soo out of a nightclub, overcoming a blow to the head, a frantic chase after her schizophrenic patient, and multiple rejections, only to faint in the end. Since it just started airing, we’ll have to wait and see whether this connection will prove to be more successful than his initial pickup.

Much as I hate to talk about “I Need Romance 3”, our leads unknowingly reunite in a nightclub, where Joo Wan/Allen Joo is the DJ. His former babysitter, Shin Joo Yeon, spots him from the dance floor, and unaware of their former connection, eyes him seductively until he finally comes over to hit on her. Sadly, she’s cock blocked by her nemesis, Oh Se Ryeong, but the groundwork has already been laid for the ickiest romance ever.

Since “Emergency Couple” features exhausted medical interns, a broken-hearted Oh Chang Min only manages to serenade his ex-wife Oh Jin Hee in a crappy noraebang. The evening itself is a total bust, though it does set her off on a nostalgic journey towards their eventual reunion. – 만

Pojangmacha


While we know that the leads of “Let’s Eat” could easily see the romantic potential in a small tented restaurant, it has been a good starting point for love in other K-dramas, too.

The food of a pojangmacha makes Yu Jin vomit on a stranger in “Soulmate”. Her date, Dong Wook’s chivalry is sorely tested as he is forced to use his clothing to mop up the mess. Luckily for Dong Wook, it is also in a pojangmacha that he first notices Soo Kyung, his soulmate.

In “Emergency Couple”, exes Oh Jin Hee and Oh Chang Min rekindle their relationship while feeding each other meat on a stick. Earlier, dining alone at a pojangmacha, Cheon Soo spots Jin Hee, and feels the first stirrings of attraction while watching Jin Hee shoot back soju while yapping on her phone. It just goes to show that cheap eats and booze can put anyone is a romantic mood. – 중국어 캐나다


Readers: where is your favourite K-drama setting for romance?

Map it out in the Comments below.

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