The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] ‘Honey Sweet,’ a lighthearted rom-com that might just outdo this year’s blockbusters

This unassuming film shows the power of a strong plotline, good actors and clear directing

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Aug. 8, 2023 - 15:32

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"Honey Sweet” (Mind Mark)

Yoo Hae-jin, a household name in South Korea’s entertainment scene, took on his first-ever role in a romantic comedy in “Honey Sweet,” a lighthearted film that portrays the love story of a middle-aged couple.

Yoo plays Chi-ho, a nerdy, workaholic researcher at the confectionery firm who falls in love with Il-young (Kim Hee-sun), a single mother and a remarkably passionate and optimistic phone operator at a loan company. “Honey Sweet” will be Kim’s first silver screen role in 20 years, following her latest appearances on TV, including in “The Lady in Dignity” (2017).

The film’s plot doesn’t stray far from the quintessential rom-com formula, where the two characters meet by chance and fall in love. The storyline is solid and well-organized, and director Lee Han’s portrayal of the couple in their 40s is sweet and endearing, yet never overdone.

Actors Cha In-pyo, Jin Seon-kyu and Han Sun-hwa add their own flavor to the film through their supporting roles, each encapsulating a story worthy of standing on its own.

Cha plays Seok-ho, Chi-ho’s half brother who always borrows money from Chi-ho, while Jin plays Chi-ho’s ambitious boss at the confectionery firm. Han plays the role of Il-young’s close friend and Chi-ho’s gambling partner who later finds her own true love.

“Honey Sweet” (Mind Mark) “Honey Sweet” (Mind Mark)

Yoo’s detail-oriented and charming performance in “Honey Sweet” once again succeeds in captivating moviegoers’ hearts, proving that audiences cannot help but fall in love with his characters. Yoo’s acting makes viewers feel as if Chi-ho really exists somewhere out there in the real world.

Kim, a seasoned rom-com star who first debuted in the genre as a lead in 1999, proves she still reigns supreme.

Well-known actors, including Jung Woo-sung, Yim Si-wan and Go Ah-sung, all make special appearances in the film, having all worked with director Lee before.

While the local film industry is still recovering from lackluster demand on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, big-budget films have rushed to attract moviegoers and prop up the struggling industry. But many such films have left audiences disappointed, with weak and predictable plotlines.

In this context, “Honey Sweet” really stands out. The dialogue is not too cheesy or trite, and the addition of comic elements are timely and apt. The film reminds us that simple can often be best.

Director Lee, who also helmed “Innocent Witness” (2019) and “Punch” (2011), said he created “Honey Sweet” because, as a moviegoer himself, he wanted to see more of this kind of film in cinemas.

“Honey Sweet” opens in local theaters on Aug. 15.