“Backstreet Rookie” Episode 1 To 8 Review- First Half Is A Wasted Opportunity, A Drama Waiting To Get Started

Published Categorized as Kdrama Reviews

Time flies by fast and “Backstreet Rookie” is already half-way through. Today, I am here to discuss the controversial SBS drama and share my thoughts on episode 1 to 8.

Note: this is a subjective review, its one opinion so don’t take it too seriously. If you can’t handle opinions that might differ from yours, Plz don’t read.

Note: contains slight spoilers of episode 1 to 8.

I was originally thinking of reviewing “Backstreet Rookie” episode by episode if it was either especially good or especially disappointing, which explains why I have only reviewed one episode (ep. 1). In short, I think “Backstreet Rookie” is average and aside from the controversies it had gotten itself into, it’s not that memorable- thus far.

My opinion can change since we’re only half-way through, but thus far, “Backstreet Rookie” has been average at best.

The script


I want to try and avoid discussing the controversies of the drama as much as possible in this article since I plan to discuss them in lengthy details in another one that I will publish soon. However, it’s very difficult to discuss the script without circulating back to those controversies one way or another.

Luckily, “Backstreet Rookie” toned it down a lot (when compared to the original work). The drama focuses on Saet Byul’s life in her twenties… since they took away the extreme; they ended up with the average and this is where the issue with the script lies in my opinion.  

Thus far, the drama hasn’t quite started for me. Let me explain:

Saet Byul is in love with Dae Hyun but she’s a ‘changed’ woman, so she isn’t actively taking initiative to make him fall in love with her after finding out he has a girlfriend. She doesn’t actively try to steal him so she becomes the clingy young character that doesn’t know when to call it quits despite seeing how head over heels Dae Hyun is for Yeon Joo.


Dae Hyun is too nice, respectful and in love so he won’t leave his girlfriend because of Saet Byul and he doesn’t even see her as anything beyond a little sister.

The drama made sure to cement this idea in our heads… Dae Hyun is the type of character that goes above and beyond because he’s too nice and an honorable man. So his actions and reactions to Saet Byul are not done with romantic feelings in mind but done because he’s that type of person, which defeats the entire purpose of the first half of the drama.


So we end up in a limbo where the plot isn’t going anywhere beside minor incidents that shows cracks in Dae Hyun’s relationship with Yeon Joo, but that’s too slow and too annoying to be interesting.

Yeon Joo is not a nice character so whenever she’s on screen we’re bothered by her, we’re not rooting for her and don’t really care for her.


If they had established her otherwise, it would’ve been interesting because if both girls are nice, there is conflict. Viewers won’t know who to root for and would feel bad for Yoon Joo. This adds substance to the script and makes it more interesting.

We’re only interested in Saet Byul’s interactions with Dae Hyun. The first couple of happenings and misunderstanding between them are tolerable and understandable but beyond that, it becomes rather expected and dull.

I know that the writer will risk losing viewers if he decided to make one of the leads the ‘bad’ character but by playing it safe in every single direction in the romance department, it ended up becoming just another drama.  

The best episodes of “Backstreet Rookie” were the 3rd and 4th by far, it was fun exactly what I want in a rom-com, but the series never peaked beyond those episodes.

I understand that in real life such things do happen and it takes a long time for either party to realize they have feelings or act upon them but this is a drama that’s meant to be dramatic and fast-paced. It’s not like “Backstreet Rookie” is a healing slow drama either.


I also want to complain about something I haven’t seen many discuss, the relationship between Dae Hyun parents which is toxic to say the least and very painful to watch.

I don’t know what they have in mind and if those two characters are meant to be funny, but I don’t mind them funny at all. His parents relationship is beyond toxic and is portrayed as ‘okay’ which I also found troublesome. The husband gets beaten by the wife and is treated with so much disrespect but somehow no one bats an eye. If it had been done to the female character instead, people would’ve lost their shit.

It’s not right either ways and I feel so sad and bad watching the father getting treated like that. It breaks my heart.

How I’d fix it


If it were me, I would’ve changed “Backstreet Rookie” genre from a rom-com to a drama about life. I think the material suits that idea very well and it would’ve been more interesting.

A young man who’s too kind that he harms himself, he’s fallen for a rich woman and feels conflicted and bad about not living up to expectations and always being beneath her, taking it in that serious direction would’ve made it at least 100 times better.

The screenwriter wanted a light drama but it became too light to be taken seriously. I also feel that the screenwriter is trying so hard not to make it as deep as it could’ve been.  

The humor


This is possibly the most subjective part of this review because humor is subjective.

There were moments I liked in “Backstreet Rookie” that were funny and had jokes that landed well, but I’d say that 80% of the time I didn’t laugh.

I don’t easily laugh at things in general, and I found many of their attempts simply childish and cheap. I don’t expect the drama to cater to me, this is why I think I am being harsh in this department.

Fart noises, over-the-top action cartoonish scenes, using black/ African culture for laughs and such don’t make me laugh but make me cringe.

And don’t even get me started on Dal Sik, I don’t understand why his character exists and I don’t understand how any of what he does is considered funny. Moaning while drawing naked or nearly naked women doesn’t make me laugh, it creeps me out.

The characters


I like both Saet Byul and Dae Hyun. They’re the best part of the series for me and they’re made to be likeable, I know many of us are still watching this drama because of them.

I find the characters in this drama interesting aside from that Dal Sik. Some of them annoy me but they’re all there for a purpose. If explored properly, this drama would’ve become legendary, but instead of taking the difficult route, the writer took the easiest one possible.

They could’ve explored why Dae Hyun parents have such toxic relationship, or why Dae Hyun’s sister is so manipulative and crazy about money. Or why Dae Hyun is so hopelessly kind to every creature he sees.

Or why Dae Hyun knows he’s losing Yeon Joo but is still trying so hard spending so much money to appease to her knowing well of her background.

The focus is mostly on Saet Byul’s circumstances and difficult life, she’s the most fleshed out character in the series but aside from her, the writer isn’t even trying to explore the rest.

The Chemistry



I didn’t expect I would like the pairing but I did. I was one of the people who found it controversial but I can see that Wookie is comfortable around Yoo Jung and that plays a big part in their chemistry.

In his last project, I could tell that he wasn’t that comfortable. Wookie generally has good chemistry with all of his co-stars and the same goes for Yoo Jung, and the pairing is the best part of this drama for me. Its whats keeping me going.

There were many moments of them together throughout episode 1-8 that I liked. I still feel conflicted on their relationship eventually becoming romantic because I like their sibling-like relationship but I like how much he cares for her, he’s a kind person and I like how adorably she reacts to his antics.  

I think the chemistry is what brought me back each time but I am growing impatient. We’re done with episode 8 and there is zero progress in their relationship. What is the writer trying to do?


“Backstreet Rookie” is either-or for many fans. Some will support wookie regardless of what controversies happened because of this drama, others will ditch it. You can’t really blame either side because they each have a point of view, I might not agree with either but I understand why one would still support this drama or completely trash it.

I need to watch more episodes to judge whether “Backstreet Rookie” was ultimately disappointing or not. I didn’t have high expectations going in so I am not that disappointed but watching episode 3 and 4 showed me just how good the series could’ve been which makes me feel sad and disappointed that the drama will likely never have such episodes again.

I also feel bad about how great the series could’ve been had they made it a drama focusing on life struggles instead of a rom-com.

What about you guys? do you like this drama so far? Let me know what you think in the comment section below!

Whats your reaction to this article?

By Jass K.

Hi, I am Jass k. I discuss some of the hottest currently airing kdramas on this site in form of reviews an/or recaps, join me in the discussion~


  1. Hi I totally agree to your article above about Backstreet Rookie. I love the tandem of the lead stars . I agree we are now in episode 8 but I still cannot understand why it is taking too long for the two main stars to fall in love. I just feel the episodes are wasted . If it is a rom com then stick to it and start building the characters of the two lead stars . I just hope DAE will wake up from his relationship with his girlfriend. So many instances that would make him think oops what is happening??? Don’t be dumb all throughout this series. I like Saet Yul character makes my heart break at times . Another 8 episodes more and here is hoping the two lead characters will be built up .

  2. The drama has higher ratings than suspicious partner and k2 in the way to beat healer… don’t say anything unless the drama is finished. Your opinions about this drama is really different depends on the ratings. Can u please stick to one opinion cuz its annoying.

  3. Actually about the relationship between Daehyun parents…u could see that Dae hyun’s father just wastes his time and dosent earn anything while his mother has to work hard for earning money… His father also tries to steal some money from Dae hyun or fools him…even when he knows his family is poor he is still planning a trip to China with his friends….who wont get angry if the man of the house does this without being a responsible person…I find his dad the most annoying…He even always dreams of meeting his first love Yoon Jo infront of his wife….Next his mother also has to handle her daughter who is shown as a thief who steals everything ..Daehyun being a simple person lets them do what do want….Thats why his mother is harsh..
    But i find her a kindhearted person the way she looks after Seat Byul and Dae Hyun

    And yes talking about the chemistry even i m very eager to see atleast a bit of love happening between the leads its 8th episode now but still it shows dat Dae hyun is head over heels for his gf and dosent want to think of anything else….On the other hand Seat Byul taking care of her own life….There is so much of less communication between the leads ☹

  4. I agree with this review, it would’ve been better if this drama wasn’t a rom-com. I love the chemistry but the drama fails to keep me absorbed. But I still want to watch the next episodes, cuz I think that there will be more progress in their relationship and the story will get interesting. I don’t find this drama that memorable, but I don’t really hate it because of the cast.

  5. I was wondering if I was the only one disturbed by Dae Hyun’s parent’s relationship. I hate their scenes together because it’s all abuse.

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