16 episode drama
The 2022 K-drama, ‘Love All Play’ (Going to You at a Speed of 493km) is a 16-episode show starring Choi Jeong-hyeop and Park Ju-hyun in the lead roles. Ever since the drama was announced, fans were excited to finally see Jeong-hyeop play the lead role after he appeared in the popular Netflix show ‘Nevertheless’ as the second lead.
‘Love All Play’ is a sports-based K-drama that revolves around the life of Park Tae-yang, a talented young girl who is plagued by her past. This consequently causes her to give up on her dreams to become a successful badminton player. Her counterpart is Park Tae-joon, a boy who’s destined to live in the shadows of his sister’s successful sports career.
It seems like the show started at the speed of 493 km precisely as its alternative title suggests but lost its way somewhere through the middle, which often happens with many popular shows due to a lack of conflict in the main plot.
The K-drama ‘Love All Play’ received a favorable response from fans online who loved the mature chemistry between the main leads which was unlike any other school-based dramas.
The show, ‘Love All Play’ is a romance melodrama set in the background of a sports company where athletes are trained before they sign up to play competitive sports matches – in this case, badminton.
Park Tae-yang has lived the past three years in the shadows after she fled from the sports world after suspicions of her being involved in a bribing scandal for her best-scored match. Determined to make a comeback, Tae-yang joins a rookie sports company that is home to all kinds of athletes, including some that also want to redeem themselves to the world.
A practical athlete, Park Tae-join joins the same company as Tae-yang. A connection from their childhood brings them together but an incident from her past has the potential of breaking them apart.
Tae-joon lives in the shadows of his sister who is another national athlete who lost her ability to play after an accident which is somehow connected to Tae-yang’s disappearance all those years ago.
Can Tae-yang justify her bribing scandal? Will Tae-joon finally be able to overcome the shadows and get the recognition that he deserves? Do the two make it together despite the issues bringing them apart?
The show starts off with a bang and caters to young audiences with its tropes. From having the main lead couple meet as children, to dating in secret, as well as having the scandal around one of the two to be linked around the other.
The show also sees the mandatory hospital visit where one of the two people in a relationship wait for the other to ‘get better’. ‘Love All Play’ also had the mandatory break-up and the ‘I will win them back’ trope.
Among the side couples, there are several love triangles which is why the show was a generic K-drama in all senses but the story went numb after it reached its middle.
It seems like the makers were looking to add the insufferable female lead trope into the scene but having a powerful sports athlete be the insufferable one just does not work as well as expected.
Tae-joon is the epitome of a ‘middle-child’ in this case. From never being taken care of by his parents in the same way as they cared for his sister, to growing up and forever living in her shadow, Tae-joon is dealt a very bad hand in life.
Finding the girl of his dreams one day sets Tae-joon up to make himself the best version of himself is what drives the plot of his journey on the show which is amazing for his character.
However, the incident that changed it all for Tae-yang’s character is what brings the story down a few notches from where it could have gone. Tae-yang is being bullied by an old friend for what she did, and even if he had his reasons, it is not justified that she is the only one to be blamed even if the other person was to be blamed equally.
The show stars Choi Jeong-hyeop who has finally redeemed himself after being dubbed as the nation’s potato boy for his character in ‘Nevertheless’. It seems like Tae-joon’s character is the perfect ‘golden retriever boy’ and it seems to have worked for him.
Park Ju-hyun as Tae-yang is charming and witty, making her a pretty strong character. However, with the plot of the show bringing back the same old scandal over and over again, it seems like her character was trying to be challenged further but it only slowed the “493km speed” of this drama.
Love All Play also has other side couples that have my heart. However, many fans hate Yook Jeong-hwan for bullying Tae-yang but all viewers will agree that the character of Jeong-hwan aged well and gave us the cutie pie that he is by the end of the series.
‘Love All Play’ has an amazing list of softcore OST singles too, but ‘Cherish This Moment’ from Jinho of Pentagon steals the show. The main theme song, ‘When The Doors Open’ has a fanbase of its own now as it aptly matches the fast pace of the badminton games played in the show.
The single ‘Here You Are’ is a perfect dance song to play along to your room clean-up playlist to boost your morale on a grumpy day. All in all, the OST of ‘Love All Play’ is mostly somber with a few peppy tunes here and there which is typical of a K-drama but unique for a sports-based show.
Just like many other K-dramas, ‘Love All Play’ is an average story with powerful characters which had more potential than the plot suggests. When you reflect back on the show in the days to come, it will be remembered primarily for the chemistry between Jeong-hyeop and Ju-hyun.
Love All Play may shine with its characters but a lackluster story and a repetitive narrative hook makes this a pretty average drama.
Verdict - 7/10