Busan is everywhere in k-drama land these past few months. While the typical drama is set in Seoul or a foreign locale we do not often find a drama located in the southeastern holiday metropolis of Busan. Two shows in the last few months- tvN’s Answer Me 1997 and KBS2’s Haeundae Lovers- call this beautiful location home. While comparing said drama’s artistic points brings this viewer extremely lopsided results, comparing their use of their setting brings me a more objective view.
Answer Me 1997 was a drama centered on character growth. Haeundae Lovers played up the locale to a point where it felt like a character in the drama. While each story took a different view of Busan, both highlighted the city in a flattering light. Henceforth is Busan vs. Busan?! (I am placing my bets on Busan)
Best use of Busan landmarks
Hands down winner is Haeundae Lovers. Diamond bridge, swimming, beaches. The writers of this drama must have had flip cards of the best locales in Busan- as they began to write each scene they picked a card and went with it. I thank them for it- they showcased Busan and more specifically Haeundae in a beautiful way. AM1997, meanwhile, had way too many trips to Seoul. Way too many.
Best use of Satoori dialect
This one goes to Answer Me 1997 by a mile. While you could tell the actors in HL had a struggle with mastering the dialect of Busan AM1997’s casting director did the right thing and hired actors that were native to the city. It showed. A lot. Sorry So Ra- great character, horrible attempt at Satoori.
Best use of Busan as a setting
While landmarks are nice and Satoori dialect is great and all, it is the rich culture of Busan that makes this a unique city in Korea. While Answer Me 1997 brought some of the warmth of Busan sensibility and Haeundae Lovers definitely brought the thug like fixation on the sea, I am giving this one to the film Milky Way Liberation Front (2007). A wild card you say! Well, yes. I love me a good drama set in Busan; I worship me a great film set there. Gotcha!