The Giant Penguin
When it comes to raw chemistry, Kim Hye-Soo and Ju Ji-Hoon currently hold the crown from their performance in Hyena earlier this year. If this double bill of episodes is anything to go by however, Song Seung-Heon and Seo Ji-Hye are certainly giving them a run for their money as their chemistry and charisma oozes through every scene of this funny romantic drama. With a much more confident script this time around and some great depth given to the supporting characters, Dinner Mate is shaping up to be one of the better Korean dramas of the year.
Episodes 9 and 10 of Dinner mate begins with Hae-Kyung and Do-Hee deciding to become dinner buddies. Or, as Do-Hee so eloquently refers to it, “Dinner mates.” Jae-Hyeok and No-Eul meanwhile, wind up walking together discussing their previous relationships after both being stood up. We then cut across to Keanu who looks longingly in a restaurant window at a young couple, unaware that A-Young is eating there and watching him. As he walks away, A-Young gives him some dumplings and tells him good times are coming. Laughing to himself, he hurries after her and walks with Do-Hee’s boss given he’s scared of the dark alleyway.
Hae-Kyung drives Do-Hee home but she forgets her ring on the way back in. Instead of running after her, he decides to hold onto it for their next encounter.
Back at 2N Box, Ah-young and Jae-Hyeok wind up talking about Do-Hee and what happened in the past. When she mentions moving abroad, he takes offence and snaps, telling her that’s not what really happened while rushing off alone and clutching his chest. When he pops some pills, it looks like he may have a medical condition we don’t know about but for now, that remains a mystery.
Despite calling themselves friends, it seems obvious that more than friendship is in the air as Hae-Kyung and Do-Hee think about their encounter from the previous night. Hae-Kyung creates a Dinner Mate Chat Room but fails to really find the right way to engage with Do-Hee while she stares at her phone all day, waiting for a message. Hae-Kyung ends up finding influence from the most unlikely place – Byeong-Jin.
He suggests that, because he and Do-Hee are just friends of course, he take her out for pork belly and soju. Eventually he messages and reveals they’re going for pork belly. Midway through excitedly looking at her phone, Jae-Hyeok shows up. She tells him they can work together but that’s it. When she leaves however, Jae-Hyeok phones someone and tells them he should tell her everything.
Back home, Do-Hee’s Mum arrives with Jae-Hyeok and after calling her a brat several times, reveals that she’s going to divorce her father. The conversation then turns to Jae-Hyeok as she tries convincing her to get back with Jae-Hyeok.
Storming out of her apartment, she winds up seeing Keanu and the two head out for drinks together. There, they discuss people and their specific quips and personalities. Midway through eating, Keanu does his trademark laugh, which prompts Do-Hee to chuckle to herself. Unfortunately she has one too many drinks and winds up blind drunk, just as A-Young arrives and instantly recognizes Keanu, prompting awkwardness to ensue.
When he leaves, Do-Hee and A-Young wind up discussing Keanu and his homelessness. Using A-Young to pay her bill, Do-Hee staggers out and heads home. Only, on the way she bumps into Hae-Kyung who gives her the ring back.
A drunk Do-Hee flirts with him first though and tells Hae-Kyung that she can’t disclose that information and walks home. The next day, they head out and eat together. Only, the place Byeong-Jin recommended happens to be a family-run business. Hae-Kyung and Do-Hee sit together and start eating, both of them stuffing themselves with food and soju. As their meal draws near its end, Bong-Seob phones Byeong-Jin and invites him out on a blind date, prompting him to change direction and head out to town again.
On the way out the restaurant, a competition for a giant penguin begins that sees Do-Hee competing against a muscular guy to win the big prize. Thankfully, Hae-Kyung steps up and manages to win it for her. As the two start hugging and getting closer, the host suggests they kiss but they both decline, telling him it’s not that kind of relationship.
Hae-Kyung’s elation is cut short though when he learns creditors are going after No-Eul and fighting in the gym. Hae-Kyung rushes to the scene and breaks the fight up, saving No-Eul and dragging her away. While he does, Do-Hee winds up drinking alone with her stuffed penguin lamenting Hae-Kyung standing him up. Only, Hae-Kyung returns to the restaurant and as she looks up in his eyes, she tells him she was waiting for him, which is where the episode ends.
With some really good humour throughout, Dinner Mate’s comedy is matched by its realistic depiction of romance and those anxious moments of waiting for your crush or lover to message back. Of course, while these two are quite quick to point out it’s “not that sort of relationship”, they clearly have feelings for each other and they seem destined to get together in the future. Their dialogue is great, the scenes between the two are wonderful and the different characters all bounce off and revolve around this duo nicely.
Quite what Jae-Hyeok’s secret may be remains to be seen but for now, Dinner Mate bows out today’s duo of episodes with an excellent hour of drama.
Published: 08 June 2020 at 10:50 am on TheReviewGeek.com
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!