Lovely Runner review: A star is born in this peak weekday rom-com escape

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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Lovely Runner review

Byeon Woo-Seok’s charm, a crisp narrative that keeps you on the edge, and a satisfying arc is what we discuss in our review of Lovely Runner!

Lovely Runner review: In the K-drama world, we’ve all been suckers for a good high school romance. In recent years, we have in fact seen a good blend of high school drama mixed with some time travel. Twinkling Watermelon tugged at everyone’s heart for its emotional story and the hope of changing the future through time travel. Same went with A Time Called You and 18 Again. So when Lovely Runner started, you wondered what else it has to offer but it surpasses every expectation and how!

It all starts with Im Sol (Kim Hye-Yoon) who is in the hospital because she lost the ability to walk after a fatal accident. Almost giving up on life, she receives a phone call from a K-pop band ‘Eclipse’ who she is least interested in talking to. But the lead singer of the group, Ryu Sun-Jae (Byeon Woo-Seok) comforts her through his words unknowingly which gives her the will to live. Fast forward to a few years later, she is now a huge fan of the band, especially Ryu Sun-Jae. She would go to any extent for him. She is the epitome of how a K-pop fan loves her Idol with her entire mind, body and soul. Her life turns upside down when it is announced that he has died by suicide. She travels back in time to meet him when he was a high schooler, hoping to change the course of events that lead to his death.

Also Read: Queen of Tears review: Intense drama, swoonworthy romance and a whole lot of tears makes this drama an unforgettable experience!

But here’s where the plot thickens, as the story unfolds further you realize that this is not just a story about a K-pop fangirl being head over heels for a celebrity; it is much deeper than that. You realize that Ryu Sun-Jae always knew her and was deeply in love with her since their school days. But in the original timeline, she was too busy being in love with the second lead, Kim Tae Song (Song Geon-Hee) to notice him. And when she does, it's too late and this is life giving her a chance to undo that, to right all her wrongs and create new memories. But no matter what she did, Sun Jae always ended up dead in every timeline trying to save her from a psychotic killer. How the ill-fated loop of relations ends and if Im-Sol and Sun-Jae find their way back to each other amidst all the timelines is the hook of the story that keeps one on the edge.

Many K-dramas are aired every year, but while most of them give you that feel-good factor, there will be a K-drama once in a blue moon that will consume your entire mind. It will make a special place in your heart and stay with you forever. Lovely Runner is one of the prime examples in today’s time about how an interesting script will always see the light of the day against all odds. The making of the drama itself took 3 years after actors rejected it left, right and center. No brands wanted to be a part of it. Netflix did not pick it up. And yet, breaking through the glass ceiling, it has become the most viewed K-drama of 2024 so far. The success of Lovely Runner now solely belongs only and only to its cast and crew. Not to forget, the drama was aired on Mondays and Tuesdays and to pull the attention of an ordinary working man on a weekday is difficult as it is but the drama soars high through it all. 


This is simply because Lovely Runner gave all of us that escape from reality that we constantly crave. Especially on a Monday. All of us want a love as pure as Sun-Jae and Im-Sol’s. One where you feel so deeply that you would move heaven and hell for your partner. It was a joy watching this drama unfold but the best thing it gave us is Byeon Woo-Seok. He was a hidden gem waiting to be found. After all these years, he got the appreciation he deserved. Without a doubt, he is the highlight of the show. The purity in his eyes in a romantic scene, his impeccable comic timing and the intensity with which he cries has seeped through the screen and reached straight to our hearts. Yes, of course being insanely tall and handsome adds to the popularity factor but Ryu Sun-Jae is a character who will be remembered for ages. He is a green flag in every sense as they say in the Gen Z lingo. We loved him as a high school student but we loved him even more as a celebrity who melts at the sight of Im-Sol. 

Every character in this show played a pivotal role in the story. Kim Tae-Song, even after being a second lead, serves as a connection between Im-Sol and Sun-Jae. I like the fact that his character wasn’t just about his one sided love for her and his contribution was way more than that. Same goes for both of their family members. They were perfectly used in scenes where comical situations arose and Im-Sol’s grandmother having a connection to all the time traveling had K-drama fans decoding theories till the very end. Which is also why Lovely Runner was one of those shows where you had to watch it while it was on-air. Binging after all the episodes are out is one thing but there rarely are K-dramas that have you guessing the story till the end. 

Sun-Jae is supposed to be a singer in the show and it isn’t often where the lead actor sings the main OST of the show which also plays an important role in their love story. Sudden Shower by ‘Eclipse’ will get me teary eyed every time I listen to it now. The song beautifully describes how Im-Sol comes into Sun-Jae life on a sudden rainy day and since then, the rains that he hated so much, held a special place in his heart. ‘Spring Snow’ in 10cm’s soothing voice also highly elevated the romantic scenes in the show. 

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Directed by Yoon Jong-Ho and Kim Tae Yeop, Lovely Runner gives you a little bit of every genre and brings out the expected emotion out of you. But in the world of K-dramas, having a perfect finale is like hitting a bullseye that most filmmakers almost miss. There’s always something missing. There are either not enough romantic scenes between the leads, filler arcs or the finale simply does not feel dramatic enough. Lovely Runner is definitely not that which makes it stand out. The finale is the most satisfying episode of the whole show. It answers every question you have had throughout and gives you what you wanted as an audience. After the success of Marry My Husband and Queen of Tears, TvN gave out another successful K-drama with this one. It feels like the production house has been on a winning streak lately with the year they have had so far. But before jumping on the next story, we as a fandom will take a while to get over this rollercoaster of a series.

Lovely Runner is currently streaming on Rakuten Viki!

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