Doona review: A realistic story about how it would truly be like to fall in love with a K-Pop Idol!

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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In our Doona review we talk about Bae Suzy’s authentic portrayal of a K-Pop Idol and its unconventional climax!

Doona review: Directed by Lee Jyung Ho, Doona is based on a webtoon called ‘The Girl Downstairs’. Remember how the internet was divided into two teams back in 2021 when Nevertheless came out? Doona is equivalent to it in so many ways, and not just that, it bursts our bubble about the K-Pop industry to the point where it’s actually scary to face reality as a K-Pop fan.

Won-Jun (Yang Se-Jong), a student who has recently shifted to Seoul, moves to his PG where he is sharing the space with two other guys. But when he talks to the girl living downstairs for the first time, it was not that friendly of a conversation. Eventually, he realizes she is not just some ordinary girl living there, she is Lee Doona (Bae Suzy) from Dream Sweet. Doona has come from a world where everyone’s out for each other’s throats. It’s all about showbiz! So when Won-Jun shows her what kindness and a normal life can look like, she decides to break free out of her loneliness and the two form an unexpected but close relationship. 

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We live in a world where K-Pop Idols always show the best version of themselves on-screen which often makes us forget that they’re humans too. Doona portrays the anxiety, depression and the immense burnout of constantly working that comes with being a K-Pop Idol. There’s no time to rest, there’s schedule after schedule, traveling the world and adjusting to different time zones. It’s almost like the companies think that they’re robots that are supposed to be programmed according to their whims and wishes. They live their lives solely for fan service and barely have a personal life. It unabashedly tells you the truth as it is. How Doona drowns her inner true self every time she gets on stage and her K-Pop Idol avatar is someone completely different. It’s a facade that she puts on and she grows tired of it. It definitely made me wonder how many times the K-Pop Idols that I’ve seen performing on stage or spent time with us during Weverse lives have felt the same way and whether or not I contributed in any way towards them feeling this way!

Another way it holds the mirror to reality is when we see Doona constantly smoking. K-Pop Idols sell on the idea of being these perfect super humans who can do no wrong but behind the cameras in their personal life, they can do whatever they feel like too. Smoking is bad for health, there’s no doubt about that but all of us know someone in our lives who is a smoker. So why is it that when we see a K-Pop Idol smoke, it becomes a scandal? It in fact makes them just like you, me or someone we know. So are we saying that we aren’t ready to see a more human side of them? 

Bae Suzy, who once played that innocent girl in Start Up, does such a good job here with her portrayal of Doona. Her character is complicated. She acts impulsively. She has a tough exterior but a soft interior and she is unlearning all of that. She is expressing and communicating her feelings more often. Bae Suzy weaves all of that together and captivates your attention for nine episodes. She also totally passed the vibe check when it comes to behaving, dressing up and doing her make up like a K-Pop Idol. The fact that maybe she was once an Idol probably was useful for this role. 

I compared it with Nevertheless because Doona reminded me a lot of Park Jae-Eon (Song Kang). The two are indecisive when it comes to relationships and just like Na-Bi (Han So-Hee) even Won-Jun is left wondering whether he will be the one she chooses ultimately. Both the shows have toxic relationships at the crux of it. Having said that, the chemistry between Yang Se-Jong and Bae Suzy was through the roof! We are not used to seeing a lot of skinship in K-dramas so when there is good intimacy between the characters, it does add to keeping you hooked throughout the show!

Doona ends on an unconventional note and I like that because the climax is what would happen in real life compared to the ideal world of K-dramas where everything falls into place by the end. Doona builds on the fantasy of every K-Pop fan who wants to date their favorite K-Pop Idol and lures all of us in with that and then pulls us out of our delusional world, telling us that dating a celebrity is not going to be a bed of roses everyday!

Doona is currently streaming on Netflix!

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