Employee Of The Month
Backstreet Rookie returns for its fourth episode and confirms one thing – the romance between the two leads is one of the most bizarre and misplaced bits of writing this year. With some weird father/daughter vibes going on and a paper-thin plot, Backstreet Rookie proves to be quite the rookie when it comes to other Korean dramas that have been released this year.
Episode 4 of Backstreet Rookie begins with Dae-Hyun arriving in the bathroom and berating Saet-Byul for getting involved in a fight with Yeon-Joo. The latter leads Dae-Hyun to believe they’ve been fighting and he tells Saet-Byul he’s disappointed in her and walks away. Outside, Yeon-Joo berates Dae-Hyun over the way Saet-Byul looked at him and heads home.
Meanwhile, Saet-Byul drowns her sorrows in alcohol and while drunk, meets Ji-Wook who she knows as “puppy”. After touching his face, her friends help her home.
While Dal-Sik watches the convenience store, he breaks the news to Dae-Hyun that Saet-Byul beat up three men and shows him the video he took to prove it. Admitting that he’s scared of her, Dae-Hyun takes his leave and heads home to contemplate what his friend has told him.
In the morning, Saet-Byul awakens from her drinking and berates what Dae-Hyun told her. However, the trio of girls all start discussing Puppy and it brings back memories from her drunken night. It’s not all bad though, and he requests to meet her before heading to his photo-shoot.
Dae-Hyun starts advertising for new part-time jobs, believing Saet-Byul is a thug. However, when Dal-Sik arrives midway through Dae-Hyun’s interview he seems to recognize the man being interviewed and the two start slapping one another. That is, until Dal-Sik calls him Songsak and passes out on the floor.
At GS 25 Corporate, Yeon-Joo delivers a speech to the group confirming that the model, Ji-Wook, is going to be their corporate sponsor. However, Ji-Wook’s earlier message to Saet-Byul about being involved in promotions brings her into the office and sparks immediately fly between the two.
At the team meal, Yeon-Joo and Saet-Byul come to blows again and their cat fight escalates into a verbal sparring match. Saet-Byul ends the intensity by standing up and telling the group to head to the convenience store often, given that’s where she’s working.
Meanwhile, on the eve of firing Saet-Byul the three boys who stole goods show up with apology letters. It’s here he learns the truth about what happened with Saet-Byul – who’s nickname is actually Kim Bo-Sung. After getting further evidence about Saet-Byul’s character from her friends, Dae-Hyun heads out and picks up Yeon-Joo.
Walking together, Dae-Hyun tells Yeon-Joo that no one deserves to lose their job based on an unfair justification. However, he leaves the decision up to Yeon-Joo regarding what to do. As she throws her arms around him, Yeon-Joo’s mother drives past prompting Dae-Hyun to go into hiding.
However, Dae-Hyun receives a call from the police station and rushes there to find Saet-Byul. She’s in trouble for an altercation in the store but he manages to save her by using CCTV footage from the convenience store to prove no wrong-doing was conducted. Following this altercation, Dae-Hyun agrees to be her guardian and asks her to hit him.
After smacking him in the face, Saet-Byul heads to the convenience store and takes over from Dal-Sik, who’s desperate to use the toilet. In the wake of this, Saet-Byul’s hard work bags her the best employee of the month record and Dae-Hyun decides to let her work properly, ripping up the part-time job sign.
From behind the counter, Dae-Hyun hands some flowers over and admits that they’re a declaration of admiration. However, Saet-Byul teases that they’re also a sign of love. As they both joke and Dae-Hyun gives her a piggyback ride around the store, Yeon-Joo arrives and sees what they’re doing as the episode comes to a close.
The whole romance angle between Saet-Byul and Dae-Hyun is utterly bizarre and I really hope they mix things up and produce more of a Father/daughter vibe here given the conflicted way the show has approached this. Even Dae-Hyun himself mentions how he’ll be Saet-Byul’s guardian but her Father issues are clearly a big part of her mental instability and need to be loved, which could explain why she’s acting the way she is.
While I appreciate Saet-Byul could have deep-rooted psychological issues, I’m also hopeful the show doesn’t go full-on romance between these two in the future. However, the show also suffers from a lack of depth with its main plot line and the love triangle, despite humorous and throwing up some great scenes, feels ill-placed given what we’ve seen so far.
Still, Backstreet Rookie will almost certainly get attention thanks to the amount of press it’s receiving but right now the show lacks depth and diversity to keep it among the heavy-hitting K-dramas of the year.