JTBC is definitely setting the bar too high for others to follow and “Mystic Pop Up Bar” is another example of that.
2020 has been JTBC’s year and we’re only half-way through. JTBC continues to surprise me with their amazing dramas, and “Mystic Pop Up Bar” is no different.
Today, we’re here to discuss the first half of “Mystic Pop Up Bar” in a review, it’s going to have slight spoilers but it’s not too much.
“Mystic Pop Up Bar” is based on a webtoon, and webtoon adaptations are usually okay and thus far, “Mystic Pop Up Bar” has been a good experience.
The reason why I like dramas based on webtoons is because in most cases, they’re based on a finished work-piece or a piece that has been running for a while. The writer has information about how the plot progresses and that helps with the drama flow.
I’ve seen many kdramas go bad by its 8th episode because of its lackluster script that begins to show cracks half-way through. Kdrama Screenwriters usually write as the drama is shot which leaves a lot of room for error and inconsistencies.
Thankfully, there is nothing of that here. “Mystic Pop Up Bar” is well-crafted and filled with heartfelt stories of everyday life wrapped in a bit of magic.
“Mystic Pop Up Bar” reminded me; and I believe a lot of other kdrama fans; of “Hotel Del Luna.” But “Mystic Pop Up Bar” is technically older than “Hotel Del Luna” since the webtoon was first published in 2016. But I definitely feel that the writer was inspired by the Hong sisters format.
Every single episode, I am reminded a lot of the Hong sisters because they all follow a similar format. The female antagonist is trying to reach a goal and each episode she has a case to work on. In every episode, we get to see our main leads bond over solving problems. Usually, each case is a very heartfelt human who’s struggling with a problem that needs magic, which is why I wouldn’t call “Mystic Pop Up Bar” great or out of this world. It is probably because I see a lot of kdramas and it is my job to review them, I have high standards and this drama has a lot of familiarity to it, this is why I can’t say it’s THAT great, but to those who don’t watch as much as I do, I definitely sound pretentious right now.
If you don’t watch lots of kdramas that are similar to this one, then you probably find this drama AMAZING. But that format of helping out people in need and listening to their struggles has been drawn out way too many times already in many other kdramas.
I think it’s because I’ve seen lots of Hong sisters dramas, but I am fairly used to such format and despite the fact that I enjoy it, I think it gets a bit repetitive after a couple of episodes. Not that “Mystic Pop Up Bar” is boring but slightly predictable.
Of course, I am only talking about episode 1-6; I think I might change my mind depending on how the drama ends.
I have huge respect for production companies that don’t necessarily feel obligated to have a 16-episode long drama. Many good kdramas this year were too long and not made to last for 16 episodes, for example, “Crash Landing On You.”
“Mystic Pop Up Bar” is only 12 episodes and I think that’s a good idea because I don’t think it deserves more based on its format thus far.
What keeps me tuning in are the main characters themselves, not the cases they cover. No matter how heart-wrenching they are, I was more excited about our main leads because they’re way more interesting to me than the stories I’ve seen so many times already.
I would also like to bring up the love-lines in this drama. You don’t know how happy I am the writer didn’t pair Hwang Jung Eum and Yook Sung Jae romantically. The reason why I was pleasantly surprised by this drama was this reason. I didn’t have the best first impression when I saw the casting, and I am so happy they didn’t pair them together but instead opted for different pairs, this time having the second male lead romantically involved with the first female lead.
I also like the fact that they paired Sungjae with a secondary character, I expected her to fade into the background but she didn’t. I am so happy with the pairing in this drama.
I like them all!
My favorite has to be Manager Gwi. Personally speaking, I feel like he steals the spotlight from Sungjae and Jung Eum on multiple occasions and he also has time to shine on his own. He’s not just another second male lead but a full-fledged character with an intriguing past.
Sungjae’s character is an interesting pick for a first lead male character. He isn’t well-off or sociable. He struggles because of his ‘gift’ and only wishes to lead a normal life. I loved how ‘normal’ his character is. It’s a pleasant surprise among a sea of entitled rich and capable leading men in kdramas. I like that he also leads a normal job and everything about him is just average aside from his ‘gift.’
I also like Kang Yeo Rin and the fact that she struggles to get a boyfriend because of ‘something.’ “Mystic Pop Up Bar” leaves a lot of room for theories and it can make things fun for the audience trying to guess where it leads.
I just love love the trio of this drama, you don’t know how cute I think they are together. Jung Eum and Won Young almost feel like parents to Sung jae’s character and I love how much they care for him. His backstory is very sad but not made to overly dwell on. I also liked that.
Jung Eum and Won Young chemistry is amazing. I just find Won Young an interesting actor who can play cute and evil characters. There is something he gives to his character and I love how much he looks after Jung Eum’s. I definitely loved their chemistry more than I thought I would.
The same goes for Sung Jae and Da Eun (who plays Yeo Rin). I don’t think their chemistry is out of this world but its developing nicely thus far. They definitely feel awkward together but still, in a cute way.
If you remember 2018 and you’re a fan of Jung Eum, then you probably know what happened back then. “The Undateables” was one of my picks for “the most disappointing kdramas of 2018” for me. The drama was bad but Jung Eum’s performance was equally disappointing.
Back then, she got a lot of backlash for her acting and for the most part, I agreed with the criticism she received. Jung Eum isn’t a bad actress but she tends to over-act and even if you can’t pin point her exact flaw, you can easily tell what’s wrong with her acting method.
However, with “Mystic Pop Up Bar” she proved to me and others that she has what it takes to be a leading lady in a kdrama. This time, she’s grounded and a lot calmer in the way she acts, her body-language is also appropriate for her character age. And while she is similar to Jang Man Wol from “Hotel Del Luna,” she still manages to make the character feel different.
Won Young is still my favorite actor and character in this drama. As I said before, there is this thing about him… his demeanor so to say… I just can’t pin point what exactly, but he’s charming without even trying.
Sungjae is amazing, he’s one of my fav idol-actors and I swear to god if you didn’t tell me he’s an idol and if I weren’t into Kpop too, I’d call you a liar if you told me he’s a part of a kpop group. Opposite such great actors, Sungjae doesn’t fall back.
Rising actress Jung Da Eun is also an idol from an idol group. She isn’t bad but I wouldn’t say she’s great. There is that stiffness in her performance, I immediately could tell she’s an idol without googling her. But she has potential and she’ll probably improve. It’s okay as long as she doesn’t have to act out heavy scenes or is featured in a lot of scenes. Her flaws are easily overlooked because her character isn’t always there but used sparingly.
So these are my thoughts on “Mystic Pop Up Bar” so far. I definitely think its interesting and fun to watch but at the same time, I don’t think its out of this world. However, I do believe its underrated and not getting the attention it deserves. I definitely believe it deserves better ratings. I know I can be picky with kdramas but still 1 to 3% in ratings is too low for this one. I definitely believe it deserves somewhere between 5-7%.
What about you guys? what do you think of “Mystic Pop Up Bar”?