K-Drama Our Blooming Youth Criticized by Drama Fans, Didn't Live Up to Expectations

Our Blooming Youth Korean drama

Prior to its airing, Our Blooming Youth, a historical Korean drama, received a lot of attention from most Asian drama fans because it's a Korean adaptation of the popular Chinese novel, "The Golden Hairpin".

Moreover, the Chinese drama's own adaptation of this novel, The Golden Hairpin, starring Yang Zi and Kris Wu, was indefinitely shelved due to Kris Wu's scandal in 2021, and later imprisonment.

Our Blooming Youth Korean drama
Scene in Our Blooming Youth. credit: tvN

So, while the production team of C-Drama's The Golden Hairpin is reportedly planning to reshoot the part of Kris Wu with another actor to secure approval for airing, drama fans are excited to hear there's a Korean adaptation of this series.

Our Blooming Youth was rewritten to suit Korean culture and Korea's history because the source novel, The Golden Hairpin, talks about the reign of China's Emperor Yizong during the Tang Dynasty.

Our Blooming Youth Korean drama
Scene in Our Blooming Youth

Our Blooming Youth Korean drama
Scene in Our Blooming Youth

Our Blooming Youth, which premiered on February 6, 2023, on TVING (tvN cable network in Korea) had a good opening rating of 4.2% for a cable drama. 

But after episode 7, the drama received mixed reviews in Korea and was badly criticized in China. Chinese netizens slighted the drama for having poor-quality production and script. 

Our Blooming Youth Korean drama
Park Hyung-sik and Jeon So-nee in Our Blooming Youth. credit: tvN

The female lead, Jeon So-nee was also badly criticized for being too weak in her delivery, and her unconvincing portrayal of a male. In the novel, The Golden Hairpin, the female lead, Huang Zixia, will pretend as a male after she was accused of murdering her family.

In Douban, China's review site similar to IMDB, Our Blooming Youth received only a 5.4 rating, which is quite low for a Korean drama being rated in Douban.

In later episodes, this number experienced an eventual decline, dropping to 3.3% by episode 7. The drama also received a lot of mixed opinions, both from local drama viewers in Korea and overseas audiences, particularly in China.

Park Hyung-sik in Our Blooming Youth
Park Hyung-sik in Our Blooming Youth. Credit: tvN

Some C-netizens' comments about Our Blooming Youth: 
  1. The plot background is cliche and tasteless
  2. They changed the original plot too much
  3. The appearance and acting skills are lackluster
  4. Quality of the production is bad
  5. They made it an idol drama when the source novel is a historical detective.
  6. The female lead did not convey the character well. She's supposed to disguise herself as a man but her acting and styling are too girly.
Jeon So-nee in Our Blooming Youth
Jeon So-nee in Our Blooming Youth. Credit: tvN

Our Blooming Youth has 20 episodes and will air its final episode on April 11, 2023. Will public opinion change as this drama went along? Hopefully, there are exciting twists in the coming episodes to prove the critics wrong.

This is not the first time that a Korean adaptation of a Chinese novel/drama has been criticized badly by drama fans, especially in China.

Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016), a Korean adaptation of C-Drama's Scarlet Heart, which was adapted from the popular Chinese novel, Bu Bu Xing, was badly criticized for lame acting by leads and the weak script.

Mr. Queen, the 2020 Korean adaptation of C-Drama's Go Princess Go (adapted from the Chinese novel of the same title) was also criticized for diverting the plot from the original source. 

Plot Summary of the source novel, The Golden Hairpin

During the reign of Emperor Yizong in the Tang Dynasty, Huang Zixia is a talented female detective who helped her father solved the crimes in the kingdom. 

But one day, her entire family was murdered and she became the sole suspect. As the hunt to capture her was launched by the government, Huang Zixia must leave their place and disguise herself as a man to evade her accusers.

Huang Zixia escapes to the capital but vows to uncover the real killers to clear her name. She meets Li Shubai, the Prince of Kui, by chance. Li Shubai notices Huang Zixia’s disguise, and he promises to help her re-investigate the brutal murder of her family members.

In exchange, he asks Huang Zixia to go undercover as an imperial eunuch and stay at the Prince Kui manor to investigate the unfathomable mystery that had been haunting him for a long time.

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