Synopsis. Level Up is a 12-episode 2019 kdrama about an executive who takes on restructuring a failing gaming company. There are challenges along the way for this emotionally distant executive. He finds himself drawn to the Team Lead but she’s all business. The executive leans that way too, even though his comfort level with her is high. Will their business relationship evolve to friendship? Will their friendship evolve to romance?
What I liked.
Final third of the drama had emotional content. Writer Kim Dong Kyu wrote a drama that didn’t impress initially. This series had silly moments that had limited appeal. It took a while for the series to find footing in a story line that interested me. But it got there and peaked in the last 4 episodes.
Leading man An Dan Te (Sung Hoon). I like Sung Hoon and he’s why I watched this drama. He embodies earnest and vulnerability in his characters. An Dan Te was smart but emotionally distant. He was forthright. He had a high business acumen and a low emotional intelligence. Over the course of the series we learned why he kept distance (literally and figuratively) between himself and others. But Team Lead Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) didn’t defer to him just because he was the new executive. She challenged him. Dan Te learned she made valid points and offered good advice. They developed a trusted business relationship that had the potential to stretch to friendship and maybe even romance. Dan Te also had family challenges that were addressed over the series so that I rooted for the issues to be resolved.
OST. This drama’s OST had two songs. Check them out at the playlist through this link or below.
1. I’m Walking sung by Lee Jae Jin
2. Like Now sung by Jeon Geon Ho
What I didn’t like.
Production was not this series strong suit. Director Kim Sang Woo produced a sometimes clunky series that had issues lighting all characters correctly in a scene. It appears Level Up is Director Kim’s first kdrama so this was a learning process.
Writing was not this series strong suit. Writer Kim Dong Kyu didn’t pen a compelling drama. The initial episodes were just okay. Thankfully the series improved as it went. It’s been noted this kdrama was categorized as a romantic comedy. In reality it was a workplace drama with the potential for romance. At one point I wasn’t sure a romance between the leads was merited. What saved this series for me is the evolution of the leading man Dan Te. I liked him, I liked his quirks, I wanted him to become a better man. Writer Kim delivered in that regard. It appears Level Up is Writer Kim’s first kdrama so this was a learning process.
Would I recommend Level Up? Depends. If you are a Sung Hoon fan, you’ll enjoy his performance and grow to understand his character. If you are looking for a light fun romantic comedy, then either this isn’t the kdrama for you or you’ll need to lower your expectations.