“Work Later, Drink Now” Review: Exhilarating, Heartbreaking And Fun

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TVING has found massive success with “Work Later, Drink Now,” and here is a review of the drama and why it deserves the attention it has gotten.

When I say “Work Later, Drink Now” is one of the best kdramas I’ve seen in a while, I mean it. I am so upset at myself for not recognizing it sooner but thankfully I did, albeit a bit late.

I’ve been hearing people talk about “Work Later, Drink Now” a while back and I didn’t pay much attention to it, right now, there are many kdramas on the big channels that I must pay attention to and I nearly neglected this one. I am glad I ended up seeing it.

“Work Later, Drink Now” wrapped its run last month. I’ve binge-watched it and completed it in a day, its only 12 episodes and each episode is roughly 30 minutes so its a shorter format, which works wonders for the drama.

TVING has kicked 2021 with good dramas and honestly, thus far, they’ve released good dramas, this is arguably their best creation to date.

FYI, “Work Later, Drink Now” has found massive popularity in South Korea and contributed to TVING gaining mainstream attention, subscriptions to their service have seen a huge surge.

Note: this is a spoiler review. This is a subjective review.

Initial impressions vs. final impressions

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“Work Later, Drink Now” premiere didn’t honestly have the nicest introduction in my eyes, the drama almost romanticizes the idea of alcoholism and makes light of the heavy drinking problem the trio has, this felt a bit too on the nose at first, luckily, the drama picks up and tackles other interesting topics that go beyond what you’d expect from such a show.

“Work Later, Drink Now” is a life drama, its about many things and the drama manages to touch on many issues Koreans suffer from without it becoming too heartbreaking to watch, there is a mixture of happy and sad that is so well-balanced I was pleasantly surprised by that. It is not easy to achieve such balance but this drama does it with ease.

The plot

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“Work Later, Drink Now” centers around a trio with different personalities who get together to drink at the end of a hectic day. The drama shows three women who live drastically different lifestyles getting together at the end of the day to share food and alcohol.

The drama also goes through each individual story and each one of them has a very complex story. Each character is crafted well and brought to life by the actors’ performances. At first, each character falls into an expected archetype that goes with such types of dramas. As the drama progresses, those same traits are properly explained, the characters are no longer 2D but 3D.

The drama doesn’t shy away from talking about an array of sensitive topics in Korean society such as suicide, LGBTQ+ rights, sexual harassment, sexual assault, mental health issues and more. But such topics don’t up consuming the drama to the point that it feels like they’re trying to deliver a message whilst forgetting about the core of the story. The drama remains fun and relatable.

One of the strengths of the drama is that past experiences are not only used as props for an episode to pad the run time, issues and happenings with the trio are explored throughout the drama’s run time and it was nice to see them incorporated beyond just a storyline for an episode.

Nitpicks- romanticizing alcoholism

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Having said this, I have two things to nitpick with the drama, the first being the final episodes where Sunhwa’s character becomes sick with cancer, that part felt very misplaced, if anything, an illness related to her heavy drinking problem would’ve offered a nice commentary but that part felt a bit rushed and unneeded.

The second bone I have to pick is something many k-netizens have also pointed out, how the drama almost romanticizes the idea of alcoholism.

If you watch the show, you’ll likely want a drink afterward. The show centers around alcohol but to the point that it treats it as a pacifier, something to look forward to at the end of the day, sort of the drug that calms down everyone and helps them cope with their issues. This sends a very dangerous message and this is something that irked me a lot.

I know that Koreans really love their alcohol but the relationship every character has with alcohol in this drama is very toxic and scary, they all clearly have alcohol addiction and sometimes, the writer makes sure to point this out but I am not sure how this is supposed to be just that.

I get it that the screenwriter might have not wanted to be preachy about this subject but they truly missed an opportunity to make a point especially considering how these characters center their lives around having so much alcohol, they literally drink from late night until the very next morning.

Even if they were in their early twenties, surely drinking for 10+ years like that isn’t a viable option if they want not to die an early death. They drink to the point it honestly concerned me.

Performances and chemistry

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“Work Later, Drink Now” wouldn’t have worked this well if the cast wasn’t doing such an amazing job. They’re truly marvelous in their roles. The one that stood out the most was obviously Sunhwa.

I’ve seen her in dramas before but never like this, her performance here is one of the best performances by an actress this year, across the board and I’ve seen a lot of kdramas this year. At first, I hated her character, she was so annoying but the way she played her, she was simply stunning. She stole the spotlights many times.

Everyone else did a wonderful job, they truly did well with the casting this time.

The chemistry between the trio was great and their bond felt so real, I could see they got along pretty well with each other, the girls themselves said so too.

“Work Later, Drink Now” seasons 2 is getting discussed, and honestly, this is one of the very few kdramas I’d love to see return with a second season. It’s truly kdrama at it’s best. I hope kdrama creators watch this one to learn what works and what doesn’t.

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