Synopsis. Sweet Munchies is a 12-episode 2020 kdrama about a chef that operates a small eatery with a partner. He loves his father and brother. But when the double shot of trouble hits – his father gets into an accident AND his partner pulls out of the business, he must secure money to pay the medical bills and keep the eatery open. Unfortunately conventional loans are denied and loan sharks won’t supply the amount needed. A female friend at a network must find a gay chef for her soon to be produced TV show. The chef decides to lie that he is gay to become the chef for the show. Complications ensue. Can the chef extract himself from the lie before the ramifications rip through the lives of those he cares for and his life?
What I liked.
Series dealt with discrimination, fear and anger heaped on gay men. Writer Park Seung Hye showed society fears differences. Sexual orientation differences frighten many resulting in unjust or prejudicial treatment. Gay men (and women) are human and deserve to be loved and accepted. The series shined brightest when characters we rooted for dealt with the pain of rejection by society, friends and family, discriminatory acts, and the negative consequences of being a sexual minority.
Chef Park Jin Sung (Jung Il Woo). It’s hard to portray a lead character that is mired in a lie they initiated and perpetuate. Jung Il Woo managed to make the kind Jin Sung redeemable not ruined by his unacceptable lies. Jin Sung stuck his head in the sand and refused to look at the consequences for part of the series. I felt little to no sympathy for Jin Sung. His initial reason for doing the show had basis – he had to pay his father’s hospital bills and the deposit on the eatery. But he continued to lie to save a woman he liked as a friend and romantically. The ramifications affected everyone. Jung Il Woo didn’t justify Jin Sung’s actions, his performance was clear, Jin Sung had to come clean and take the consequences.
Designer Kang Tae Wan (Lee Hak Joo). This character was the soul of this series. His screen time wasn’t equal, but his impact overshadowed ever other character. My heart went out to this character and I wanted him treated with respect. Writer Park penned beautiful scenes for Tae Wan to authentically and courageously speak up. Shout out to Lee Hak Joo for his touching portrayal of Tae Wan, the conflicted brave man that spoke his truth, staggered in pain from the consequences, and then found a path forward. Writer Park’s sensitive handling of this character was the best part of the series.
Series dealt with the discrimination, fear and anger of part-timers and women. The female lead Kim Ah Jin (Kang Ji Young) got knocked down because she was a part-timer and a woman dealing with a male co-worker that couldn’t handle her right to dare to be his equal. Ah Jin dealt with it better than many, brushed herself off, and went forward. Female boss Manager Cha turned out to be Ah Jin’s champion until she could no longer protect her. A supportive female co-worker that never wavered in her support. Ah Jin was part of the triangle that never really was between Jin Sung and Tae Wan. Ah Jin proved herself to be a friend first to both men.
What I didn’t like.
The romance took away from the strength of the series. Writer Park spent a great deal of time building the romance between Jin Sung and Ah Jin, the woman he liked. This lessened the focus on the stronger stories. I’d rather the series had been shorted to 10 episodes and reduce the romance, which was built on quicksand due to Jin Sung’s lies.
Would I recommend Sweet Munchies? Yes, even though the series was not a standout, it was a step forward in portraying the discrimination and struggle of gay men. When discrimination was the focus Writer Park penned powerful scenes, brought to life by actors that proved gay men deserve more than what society meters out. The discrimination against part-time employees and women had effective moments. Rounding out the series to the positive were select secondary characters whose stories were worth the watch.
OST. This drama’s OST had 6 vocal tracks and 25 instrumental tracks. Dramawiki has the OST details (link). My favorite song was This is My First Life sung by Sobo.
Listen to the vocal tracks of the OST:
I can’t live with lies, it makes me feel miserable. It’s unfortunate that the truth can be painful too. Your points are well taken.
Many people lie to escape responsibility, Jin Sung lied to take responsibility and misguided as especially the follow up lies may be, I definitely found them more forgivable.
Jung Ill Woo did a very good job, and I agree Han Tak Joo stole the show. I found a short film he starred in, on asiancrush, called Teach Me. He held the screen well there too.
I imagine I would watch this series again, which is one of my rating points.
Thanks for the finish.
My current watching has been interrupted a lot lately so I have a lot to catch up on Backstreet Rookie, I’m just catching up on It’s OK. See you then!
Jin Sung lied to take responsibility and misguided as especially the follow up lies may be, I definitely found them more forgivable.
I like how you expressed that.
Jung Ill Woo did a very good job, and I agree Han Tak Joo stole the show.
I’m pleased both bestowed their talents. Han Tak Joo was indeed the impact actor for this series.
I did not like premise of this series: a straight man pretending to be gay. That being said, Jung Il Woo did a dignified job portraying the character, as my concern was gay people would be mocked. I’m a little sensitive about this as my nephew recently come out as being gay.
No doubt about it, Lee Hak Joo stole the show as Tae Wan 👔🧵🧷❣ Hak Joo poignantly portrayed a gay man’s struggle.
Jin Sung 👨🍳🔥 was a genuinely kind, straight man who understood the the struggle of being gay, due to watching over his younger brother, Jin Woo🚶♂️🔦, who was gay. While I understand financial desperation started Jin Sung’s 👨🍳🔥 lie, but I had a hard time reconciling his continuation of the lie with him being genuinely kind, as the lie confused and hurt those around him, including himself. The writer gave us a character who seemed to be disingenuous when he doubled down when confronted with his lie.
I concur with KJT that the romance took away from the strength of the series. I also like that you pointed out how discrimination of women and contract workers was also featured. I think the series would have been stronger if the character Jin Sung 👨🍳🔥 was gay.
I thought Sweet Munchies was worth my time to watch, especially Lee Hak Joo’s performance.
I understand financial desperation started Jin Sung’s 👨🍳🔥 lie, but I had a hard time reconciling his continuation of the lie with him being genuinely kind, as the lie confused and hurt those around him, including himself. The writer gave us a character who seemed to be disingenuous when he doubled down when confronted with his lie.
Perfectly put JT.
Sweet Munchies was worth my time to watch, especially Lee Hak Joo’s performance.
It continued to push the envelope in kdramas with a positive portrayal of gay men.
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