‘Backstreet Rookie’ promises a fun and wholesome rom-com

We expected the first kiss between Ji Chang-wook and Kim Yoo-jung on the first episode of “Backstreet Rookie”. Afterall, the kiss was on the first chapter of the webtoon written by Ji Kang-min which the drama was based on.  

“Backstreet Rookie” is about 24-hour convenience store owner Choi Dae-hyun (Chang-wook) and his part-timer Jung Saet-byul (Yoo-jung).  The two met three years ago in an alley when Saet-byul asked him to buy her the cigarette.


These are some of the instances when the drama veered away from the webtoon.  

Instead of buying cigarettes for them, Dae-hyun buys them gum.  He then goes on to tell them not to waste their youth on something like cigarettes.  He would tell young customers that smoking is bad for the health, even when it means less income for his already struggling convenience store. 

Ji Chang-wook as Dae-hyun

The webtoon Dae-hyun is a pervert.  But the drama version is upstanding man, albeit a pushover. Saet-byul spotted this about him the moment she laid her eyes on him. 

In the webtoon, Dae-hyun spent the night with his girlfriend Yeon-joo (Han Sun-hwa) and they had sex.  Yeon-joo finds out about Saet-byul when she checked his phone while he slept next to her. 

In the drama, they spent the night working out, literally, in the gym. Saet-byul’s barrage of text is a welcome respite for Chang-wook’s character who really did not want to exercise. 

It is in these details that we know the show creators took liberties on the characters and the plot points to appeal to wider audiences. The tone is very wholesome.  It’s not going to be faithful to the webtoon.  

What it did is to make Dae-hyun more likeable than his webtoon counterpart from the start.  It’s hard not to be won over by a character who rescues kittens from the sewer. Chang-wook’s character struggles in making ends meet.  He’s not a chaebol who can buy unnecessary trinkets for the girl he likes.  Which makes him as someone you root for.


Saet- byul is a firecracker. 

That’s the only way to describe a woman who can kick the ass of any man who crosses her. She is street smart.  Her fearlessness translates to someone unafraid to chase after a man that she likes.  

Kim Yoo-jung as Saet-byul

She desperately wants to escape her gangster reputation.  That’s why she’s trying to set a different path for her sister.  For someone so young, Saet-byul is already paying for the consequences that she made while she was younger.  Yet, she soldiers on beautifully.

We mean literally. Kim Yoo-jung looks like she just stepped out of the magazine shoot in every scene.  No signs of stress and weariness.  We can, perhaps, chalk it off to her youth.  In contrast, Dae-hyun who is 10 years her senior looks like a mess after being on duty for more than three days straight.  

Fun to watch

The first two episodes of “Backstreet Rookie” are fun and enjoyable to watch.  We’re expecting that the main conflict will come from how Dae-hyun and his eventual breakup from his girlfriend to be with Saet-byul. 

Elements have already been laid out for that.  Seung-jun (Do Sang-woo) is everything Dae-hyun is not.  Rich, successful and spends a lot of time with Yeon-joo as her boss.  

But most of all, we expect that this show will make us crave for convenience store goodies such as ramen noodles, onigiri and banana milk.  

With him as manager, don’t you want to buy everything on the store?

Watch new episodes of “Backstreet Rookie” on iQIYI every Friday and Saturday. 

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READ: Things you need to know about ‘Backstreet Rookie’

Backstreet RookieJi Chang-wookKim Yoo-jung