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Nevertheless

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What it’s about:

Nevertheless explores the ups and downs of relationships within a group of college friends, including a steamy friends-with-benefits situation rarely seen in Korean dramas. Yoo Nabi is a shy art student coming off of her first big breakup. When she meets mysterious student Park Jae-eon at a bar one night, her life is turned upside down.

Names you might know:

Created by Kim Ga Rum (Vampire Detective) and Jung Won, the Netflix series is based on a popular webtoon by Jung Seo. Fans will recognize Song Kang from Love Alarm. Han So Hee stars in her biggest role to date with handsome newcomer Chae Jong Hyeop rounding out the cast.

Why it’s worth your time:

Nevertheless is not your grandmother’s K-drama. It’s not even your teen‘s K-drama, as it’s rated 19+ in Korea.

The series breaks away from familiar tropes time and time again with steamy sex scenes sure to make even the most seasoned viewer blush.

The 10-episode series begins with Yoo Nabi (Han So Hee) suffering a public humiliation at the hands of her sculptor boyfriend at an art exhibit. She breaks up with him and nurses her wounds alone at a bar, where she meets the handsome and mysterious Park Jae-eon (Song Kang). His visible butterfly tattoo instantly bonds them as her name, Nabi, means butterfly in Korean. Butterflies are a theme throughout the series, with the pickup line “You want to see the butterflies?” garnering attention on social media. Jae-eon even collects butterflies—the insect, and, as we later find out, women.

Nabi quickly realizes Jae-eon is known as the biggest player on campus. While she is hesitant to get involved with him, the two are soon embroiled in a passionate friends-with-benefits situation. Although more romantic than many portrayals of friends with benefits in Western media, the relationship is dramatically different for a K-drama — with multiple sex scenes and frame after frame of the lovers in bed sleeping, cuddling, and engaging in pillow talk.

There’s no lack of chemistry between Han So Hee and Song Kang. The buildup to each hookup is filled with so much sexual tension, viewers may need to turn up their A/C. At times, it feels like Nevertheless is a love story, but it’s far from the reality and misses the points, as the K-drama focuses on the confusion, lust, insecurity and pain of college-age relationships.

While Nabi and Jae-eon are at the center of Nevertheless, the supporting cast have their own relationship struggles to contend with. Perhaps the most interesting is the romantic friendship between Yoon Sol (Lee Hojung) and Seo Jiwan (Yoon Seo Ah). These two are so likable, viewers find themselves wishing for more screen time for their story.

Nevertheless abandons many K-Drama tropes, but the standard love triangle is presented when Nabi’s childhood friend, Yang Do Hyeok (Chae Jong Hyeop) appears. Now a chef with a popular YouTube channel, Do Hyeok is determined to win Nabi’s heart. The writing and excellent acting from Song Kang make handsome player Jae-eon more sympathetic than the original webtoon perhaps intended.

Nevertheless challenges assumptions about gender norms, sexuality, cultural standards, gossip and even academic pressure. What may appear as a frivolous romantic drama upon first glance reveals itself to be an exciting piece of Korean television with relatable storylines rarely seen in K-Dramas. This is done with a masterful lack of self-consciousness that other television shows in the high school/college space often fall prey to. The bonus of it all — it’s really sexy!

The takeaway:

Nevertheless is a seductive watch that takes on young relationship dynamics with an honesty rarely seen in Korean dramas. While the stories may not be tied up in a neat bow, the characters are compelling and relatable for anyone who has ever been in love, had their heart broken, or been involved in a one-sided love affair.

Watch it with:

Your crush and a cocktail. Plenty of scenes revolve around sex, making out and casual chatting about hookups. This could spark stimulating conversation…and maybe more?

Worth noting:

Actor Kim Min Gwi’s scenes were limited and, when possible, cut out midway through the series due to a public scandal. His girlfriend accused him of cheating on her and breaking COVID-19 restrictions in order to see the other woman. While he confirmed he was unfaithful, he denied breaking Korean COVID-19 restrictions. Losing his character, Man Kyu Hun, was a blow to viewers as his storyline with party girl Oh Bit Na (Yang Hye Ji) was a highlight for many.

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