Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 5/5
Run On is a wonderful slice of life drama, centering on themes of acceptance, belonging and purpose. With well written characters, an evolving, progressive storyline and a great blend of humour, romance and drama, Run On is certainly in the running for one of the best Korean dramas of 2021.
The story itself centers around two couples and their differing circumstances that bring them together. The main focus early on is that of former track star Seon-Gyeom. After getting caught up in a scandal, stopping his fellow sprinter Woo-Sik from being bullied in the locker rooms, he quits the sport.
In the midst of all this is gentle Mi-Joo, who works as a subtitle translator for movies. Dedicating long hours to her job, she’s eventually given a job working as Seon-Gyeom’s translation, which occurs around the time he quits the sport.
Complicating matters further is wildcard Dan-A, the cold, calculated lady running Dann Agency. This agency oversees Seon-Gyeom’s career and she obviously doesn’t take too kindly to him quitting. With Dan-A rude, brash and more than a little insensitive, it falls to student Yeong-Hwa to try and thaw her icy heart through his exquisite pieces of artwork.
With all four characters entangled together, the series mixes in slice of life and episodic issues against a longer story looking at relationships and one’s purpose in life. These two themes in particular recur throughout the show, with all the characters growing and evolving by the end.
While Mi-Joo and Seon-Gyeom’s relationship is a little more subtle, Dan-A and Yeong-Hwa’s evolving will they/won’t they is much more obvious and this is kept up all the way to the end without losing its initial intrigue.
In fact, Run On’s real strength, alongside its well written ensemble, is just how wholesome this conclusion is. Every plot line is rounded out nicely while giving each of the supporting characters their own subplot resolution too.
Alongside the aforementioned main conflicts are several different relationships and issues that have their time in the spotlight across the season. Yeong-Hwa’s best friend Ye-Jun has a secret he needs to get off his chest, Seon-Gyeom’s Father chooses his career before his children, with big consequences, while wife Ji-Woo is torn between the devotion she has for her kids and her growing film career.
There’s also progression for Dan-A’s brother Tae-Woong and some difficult family issues for Dan-A, which become clearer as the season progresses. I won’t spoil any of that here but suffice to say, this does go some way to explain Dan-A’s hostile behaviour.
Underlying a lot of the issues our characters face in this drama is the constant motif of running. Whether it be the actual physical act of sprinting, running toward your dreams or running away from your problems, the drama’s title is, in itself, a reflection of the themes this drama is trying to portray.
You need to run toward your dreams but along the way not lose sight of those around you, who help guide and champion you on to the finish line. These ideas are portrayed so well throughout the drama that it’s only when you examine this as a collective whole rather than as individual chapters that the depth of this really shines through.
Visually, Run On looks great too and alongside some smartly worked sketches of film scenes featuring our main characters, there’s a constant reference to E.T. here too. This isn’t just a cute gimmick though, as it ties in cleverly with ideas of purpose, communication and a sense of belonging – all of which central to what Run On is trying to do.
Admittedly, some of the episodes here are a little longer and drag more than they should, but the finish makes this time investment worth taking. There’s a lot to like about this one and although it may be a little slow for some people, this breezy slice of life is very easy to watch and very much recommended. Could this be in the running for one of the best Korean dramas this year?
Verdict - 8.5/10