“Manhole” Is The Worst Korean Drama Of 2017, Here Is Why

Today we’re talking about one of the lowest rated Korean dramas of 2017 and the third lowest rated Korean public channel drama in Korean history.

We’re gonna discuss what went wrong with this drama and why the fans turned their backs on the drama.

Before I begin, I would like to stress that this is my opinion, I don’t mean you should stop watching the drama and I don’t mean or intend to bash anyone.

I am simply offering my take on the drama. If you’re a fan of the drama continue to watch it, there is no need to read my review.

If you’re easily offended do yourself and me a favour and don’t read. Sadly many kdrama fans prefer you kissing their idols’ ass instead of sharing your honest opinion of their drama…

The concept of time travel is tricky. What makes sense and what doesn’t fades and with time audience becomes frustrated with the drama direction and repetitive scenarios that becomes cliché and frustrating the more you see.

In my opinion, dramas should not attempt time travel theories. We rarely see kdramas that dives in deep to such a scenario and understandably so.

Time travel and time slip theories are good for movies. Regardless of your nationality, your own country writers would rarely choose to toy around with time-slip concept, you’re about to find out why. Its good and entertaining for an hour or two, but anything more than that becomes repetitive.

You know why? Take a look at “Manhole”!

“Manhole” is an amazing example of why you shouldn’t do a drama of a time-slip theme. Take a look at 2017’s disappointing drama “Tomorrow with you” starring Shin Min Ah and Lee Je Hoon.

It was the drama that took over the time slot previously occupied by THE “Goblin” and did so poorly in ratings most people gave up on the drama mid-ways.

It had good ratings for its first episode, mid-ways Korean fans and international fans gave up. Ratings started to plummet.

If time-slip dramas are done right (it rarely happens) you get to witness and be blessed with an entertaining and meaningful drama.

Take a look at these time slip kdramas “Signal” and “Tunnel”, “Signal”  captured the essence of the idea (its urgency) and became one of the most successful tvN dramas of all time.

We all know how “Manhole” will end, we all knew how many time-slip dramas end, they end with the lead realizing that he should’ve just confessed his feelings, moved on and never toyed with the past because he had tried and failed.

I am trying my best right now not to curse, but when I read the drama plot line it made me wanna punch the writer and Jaejoong oppa (god I love him so much) for choosing this drama. It hurts my brain.

In case you didn’t know this was Jaejoong’s post-military comeback drama, he came back in late December 2016 and had been going through scripts for so long to decide on the best comeback drama and he chose this nonsense.

This makes me wonder. Did he actually read the script? Or just the outline? Was he drunk when he said yes? Was he high? What made him do this drama? Is he dating someone in the cast/crew? What could be the logical reason for choosing this illogical pathetic excuse of a drama?

In case you didn’t know, this means so much to him; this can potentially make his life difficult or amazing, looks like it’ll be difficult.

Many idols fear being forgotten while in military, this is why so many Korean idols and actors choose to promote so hard before enlisting and do so many dramas (hoping to hit the jackpot) before leaving.

Lets talk more in details about everything beginning with what made this drama so difficult to watch.

The cliché time-slip script

So this is supposedly a rom-com. I don’t get it but okay!

All the episodes I watched so far didn’t make me laugh much. I did laugh once or twice but that was it. You need to lower your IQ if you wish to laugh at this drama.

The moment I saw and read the script outline I knew it was going to be a disaster, I even said so and talked about it when the news of him being cast were publicized. I said “time-slip dramas are difficult and boring and he should’ve chosen something else.”

Its about a boy called Bong Pil (played by Jaejoong), an unemployed 28 years old male who is immature, over-the-top, weird (not in a good way) who has had a crush on someone for 28 years.

His crush of 28 years is called Soo Jin played by (UEE). His gang friends are equally pathetic and stupid. The only rational character of this drama so far is Jin Sook (played by Jung Hye Seong).

Through a manhole he goes to the past and tries to fix his relationship with Soo Jin and prevent her from marrying “strong woman do bong soon’s villain” Jae Hyun.

That’s the script outline which you’ve probably already read before. So lets talk about the first couple of episodes.

The first episode was so difficult to watch. You actually need time to get used to it. I had to watch it in two setting not one because it was so hard to watch it once (and I almost never do that!).

The first couple of minutes show a very irresponsible good looking prick ruining peoples’ lives. That’s all it shows. He is a failure, someone who doesn’t know how to start something properly, he is all over the place and outright annoying.

Bong Pil is a very comical character, its like a character you’d see in an anime or a cartoon that caters to kids. A cartoon that makes fart jokes, that type of cartoon.

Both Bong Pil and his friend Suk Tae played by (Baro of b1a4) are very comical and over the top. They’re both idol turned actors and I honestly never seen Baro before so I had no expectations or consumptions, I just went in without any expectations and that didn’t mean I wasn’t gonna be shocked!

In the first episode the two conversing sounds so comical, the whole drama is trying so hard to be funny, it comes off comical, you have the grounded female characters Soo Jin and Ji Sook and the very upbeat characters of Bong Pil and Suk Tae. It doesn’t match. Its like two different worlds, oil and water colliding.

In one of the scenes you’d see Soo Jin taking photos, messaging like a normal human being, in another scene you see Bong Pil running around like he’s high on drugs begging people to tell him what to do.

Everyone and I say everyone knows Bong Pil likes Soo Jin. Even Soo Jin herself and this is why I find the script annoying.

First of all the logic of 28 years doesn’t hold up well. Who on earth crushes on someone they see all the time for 28 years? Who?

Bong Pil tried numerous times to show Soo Jin that he likes her, he never tells her directly but all his actions say so. Even Soo Jin knows he likes her. What kind of nonsense is this?

This is basically torture and if it was ever to be true, I’d feel so sorry for Bong Pil, because in this case Soo Jin becomes a very unlikable bitch character (no that she was likable to begin with).

If you know he’s hitting on you, either allow him to continue and show your interest or simply reject him. That way you and him can move on with your lives. No one and I mean no one can easily hold on for so long and still feel the same way for 28 years.

Bong Pil not having said “I like you” not even once also doesn’t make any sense to me. I know this is supposed to be leaning towards fantasy but leave the fantasy aspect to the time-slip not to everything else that is supposed to make sense.

It doesn’t match his character. All I see is an outgoing person who doesn’t think of consequences much, why would he struggle so badly for 28 years?

According to my prediction, Bong Pil will go back and forward, he’ll ruin his future and those around him a couple of times while he tries to confess his feelings and date his crush.

Eventually, he’ll go back and do the same thing he did originally (allowing things to flow the way they originally did when the drama aired its first episode)  in an attempt to return everything back to normal because he screwed around with the future too much.

He’ll continue to frustrate the audience with his over the top emotions, and his flapping all around the place.

Eventually the little percentage of people who survived the first 4 episodes will also give up. This is why time-slip theme works for movies more than dramas.

At first it’ll be interesting and possibly new, with time and in the second half of the drama it’ll become so chaotic and repetitive, fans tend to give up.

Which was what I did when watching “Tomorrow with you”, as well as the drama I am about to talk to you about “Operational proposal”.

Back when Yoo Seung Hoo was trying to be serious about transitioning from a child to an adult actor, he did this drama. The plot of this drama is eerily similar to “Manhole”.

Its about a boy who loved a girl for so long (20 years), she’s getting married and he regrets it, after her wedding he mentally collapses and he tries to get back in time to fix it. He ruins it and changes people’s fate a couple of times, basically a mess.

Each time he goes back and changes something, her wedding date gets delayed.

Many kdrama fans including myself pointed out the similarities of both dramas. Thus I predicted its fate. Its gonna be basically the same thing, the drama “Operational proposal” also had very low ratings and people NEVER talk about it.

No one even thinks or mentions that this was Yoo Seung Hoo’s drama, how could he have chosen this drama? He’s such a good competent actor who deserves a better script.

This is why I am having trouble liking the script. Nothing in it screams originality; no character is interesting enough to keep me glued to my screen.

The writer is new and has only written 2 scripts prior, it looks like he/she still has a long long way to go. This will be a dark mark on his/her resume.

Jaejoong’s and Baro’s over-the-top reacting

I have mentioned it once and I’ll do again, Jaejoong’s acting in this drama is too annoying.

Side note thou… I must say he looks dashing, how can a 31 year old man look way younger than me? He looks amazing and too cute, I wanna meet his mama and thank her for giving birth to this master piece.

Now that I am done with fangirling over his looks, I will proceed to roast him for his comical acting.

It was so hard to stay focused and be seriously invested in the drama while watching him. He does tone it down the second episode, but his shenanigans and needless flapping around the place never stops.

He is not easy to like. I love Jaejoong but I hate Bong Pil, I respect Jaejoong but I have no respect for whatever that character is trying so hard to be.

Its not because he’s incompetent, its not because he couldn’t start and finish anything properly, its because of how exaggerating he is.

Every scene involving him (90% of the episode) has some sort of him over reacting instead of acting. He looks so high on drugs…

Does a man like this actually exist?

Now I don’t think Baro is a bad actor. I have seen the first episode and hated his acting, but after watching the second episode, I am more optimistic and I like his acting a lot more.

I don’t like the character but I like his acting.

He was over the top along with Bong Pil in the first episode, but it seems like he decided its time to tone it down and actually act instead of overly-react.

Waiting for Jaejoong to do the same!

UEE’s boring character

I know you might say I haven’t seen enough to judge the character, but all her scenes fail to impress me.

In my opinion, UEE is one the best idol-turned-actresses out there. She was also one of the first to start the trend of shifting from being an idol to trying to become an actress along with Yoona.

She is amazing again, and is great in this drama (acting wise), but her character is boring. All she does is yell, scream and scold Bong Pil for embarrassing her.

It doesn’t make any sense to me, if he has been embarrassing her for so long, how can she still be friends with him? If a boy friend of mine ever did anything close to what Bong Pil did. He’d be out.

She seems like a responsible character, yet she hangs around him. She knows he likes her and is struggling to come forward, she still chooses to ignore it and this annoys me. Her character is very difficult to like.

If she knows he likes her she should check what her heart tells her and tell him she also feels the same or put boundaries. Forget unfriending him since they live in the same neighbourhood; at least be decisive with him.

Pretending she doesn’t know and care about his feelings makes her a frustrating character that is so difficult to like. Bong Pil is so emotional and over the place and everything he says to her screams “I LIKE YOUUUU”.

UEE’s problem with fans

This isn’t the main reason why I think Koreans turned their back on the drama, but it is definitely one of the reason why its receiving low ratings.

This is NEVER her fault and I fully support her here. I am just discussing THE other point of view.

In case you didn’t know, UEE was caught dating Kangnam who is another idol she’s been with on a variety show. Originally when the news came out they both denied.

Dispatch was the crap they usually are and decided to force her to admit she’s dating. They first released photos of them out on dates, she kept denying.

Then they decided to release a video of them hugging…. They had to give in and confirm. They apologized for not confirming but the backlash was severe.

It was such a dick move from Dispatch’s side, I’ll tell you that. She obviously didn’t want to reveal it so fans can have more fun and be more comfortable shipping her with Jaejoong.

She was preparing for her upcoming drama with the rest of “Manhole” cast. She was then perpetuated as a liar idol that doesn’t care enough to tell fans she’s dating.

This is her life and she is in charge of it. End of story. To us international fans we’re happy when idols date. To Koreans its frowned upon in most cases.

And I think the Korean public is partially punishing her for lying to them about dating Kangnam, thus they didn’t tune in to see the drama.

Its in my opinion one of the reasons, but not all there is.


Does this drama deserve becoming the lowest rated kdrama of 2017? Maybe…. (we still have 4 months before 2017 ends!)

Does it deserve all the indifference it got?  Yes!

I love and respect all those who tried so hard to make this drama, but it doesn’t mean I will go easy on them. I won’t hate or stop following Jaejoong but I will not watch this drama and waste my time.

This drama is one of THE most disappointing kdramas of 2017.

2017 has been relatively a good year for kdramas, way better than 2016 in my opinion, but of course each year has its best and worst.

The best of luck to everyone involved in this drama. God knows how hard it is for them to hear of ratings news.

Next time, I hope Jaejoong and the rest of the cast picks a script that is at least convincing and not irritating.

Uee usually picks good scripts, Jung Hye Seok was in “Chief Kim” earlier this year, which was a funny lighthearted drama with a moral story.

Couldn’t she get a better role? Why was she given that? Did she read the script and was like “Yup! This is a good follow up to my blossoming career.”?

Let me know of what you think guys! What do you think went wrong with the drama and why? I’d love to hear your opinion!

2018-02-24T13:59:17+00:00 August 18th, 2017|Categories: Kdramas Recap|Tags: |20 Comments

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  1. CL August 22, 2017 7:39 pm at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Hi~ thank you for giving a review of this k drama. I was actually planning to watch ‘manhole’ when all episodes are out but first I want to make sure that spending my time on watching this k drama won’t be wasted. Soo i looked up on some reviews and I found this. And also the review that you made as well on ‘tomorrow with you’. Thanks!

    • Nari Kim August 22, 2017 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for reading~

  2. baby tee August 22, 2017 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm - Reply

    you are really so opinionated…lol…i agree with u in some other parts. I am also watching Manhole and just finished ep.4….waiting for ep.5 and dub. I’m Uee’s fan since golden rainbow,actually im not reli a fan of hers at first even after ur beautiful and queen seonduk. Golden rainbow made me like her den she impress me in birdie buddy…and I’ve been following her tracks ever since. Im guessing that she accepts this role coz she wants to try to be d lady love of the story,men fighting for her,being feminine that needs to be save and all that.Uee is a curious kinda person she wants to try different roles like a çhaebol daughter, pregnant mom and even single mother…she does well in her series. It just happen that Manhole never really cater the taste of Korean viewers.I find it funny though,the whole gang is funny and cute… well ur right about uees role a bit boring….lol but as a whole its funny,its refreshing drama after u watch serious investigative drama or heart quenching drama that 2 pipol love each other cannot b together. Your too serious about the drama that u hadn’t find the cute and funny rapport of the gang….lol…I love the 7 of them…they’re crazy….i enjoy their craziness,I even recognized uees fiance in do bong soon,his the killer there but his timid in manhole….tomorrow with u has a dark humor,it focus romantically with the lead that it will get u excited at the same time annoyed coz the story is dragging..while manhole makes u curious about what craziness next will happen every other episode…I hadn’t watch operation prop….but I read reviews and I also not interested,or am I just bias??lol but I like manhole more than night light though….I think I do get why uee prefer this kinda story over the drama with park shi hoo….its just sad that the scandal and her turning down create a huge mess when she s preparing for this drama,I feel sorry for jae joong too…..but if people are looking for refreshing…..crazy drama…I think they will enjoy Manhole as much as I do….its not hilariously funny But its refreshing bright!!!

    • Nari Kim August 22, 2017 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm - Reply

      I respect your opinion, but as i stated in my review, i don’t mean that all of you should agree with me, in fact its the opposite, I am only sharing my opinion (thus its opinionated). If you enjoy the drama then I am happy for you, we all like the feeling of waiting for a drama weekly to watch it. If you find it refreshing then thats great keep watching and keep supporting the leads!

  3. baby tee August 23, 2017 12:25 am at 12:25 am - Reply

    I wanted to add about the story….I think soo jin’ behavior to bong pil is like that bcoz shes annoyed that he didnt confess to her….even though she know that bong pil had a thing for her,she wants to know it in person. She also consider that if ever its only a one sided love….. she doesn’t want to ruin the friendship coz she thinks she like pil first and although bong pil showed care he didn’t reply to her confessions and messages coz baro and his dad hides them….lol….in the other side jae joong character is like kwang hee…aim to be successful first before confession…..soo jin character reli is a bit boring coz she even go to an extent of marrying coz she thinks she’s waiting for nothing…. but the gangs have always had a lot of fun in store to look for every episode….and a curious ending about whither pil can really passed to become a policeman and marry soo jin…..and if they are…is it reli the aliens doing or just bong pils craziness……:)

  4. Jazzy August 31, 2017 3:37 am at 3:37 am - Reply

    I thought the drama started ok and was looking forward to it. Then it all went downhill from 2nd episode and I never went back. It was too ambarassing to keep watching it. Anyways I find most Korean drama lately lacking in every way. Gone are the days where you can’t wait for the next episode to come by. Maybe they have come to the bottom end of their creativity and been scratching around in the dark!

  5. mineji August 31, 2017 8:36 am at 8:36 am - Reply

    regarding the time-slip/time travel plot, i will reccommend “circle” only has ten episode and is somewhat scifi + mystery,, if you already watched it, i wanna know what you think about this kdrama.

  6. Dalia September 11, 2017 3:31 am at 3:31 am - Reply

    I, too, became really irritated with Jaejoong’s character…so over the top, it became irritating instead of funny. BUT…then I started thinking…what kind of shows was he in before? I’m guessing he went with it because it is so totally opposite the other roles he has played. All actors want to stretch a bit and show another side of themselves to other producers/directors. HOWEVER…this wasn’t it. I think he’s doing a great job with the role as written (and probably as directed) as is the rest of the cast. The problem lies in the script itself…not original, supposedly funny parts aren’t THAT funny. I’ll keep watching, but only because I love each and every one of the cast members.

    • Nari Kim September 11, 2017 6:09 pm at 6:09 pm - Reply

      I agree with you, this might be how his character is written but if thats the case, then the script is seriously one of the worst if not the worst this year. I do realize he’s trying to do something different but this isn’t the right way to do it. God bless you for watching I can’t handle it, I stopped but i am still rooting for my oppas, I have no problem with anyone in the cast.

  7. Chari September 15, 2017 10:29 am at 10:29 am - Reply

    I so agree with you. It’s been 12 episodes and still, it leaves me frustrated and annoyed every time I watch it. I am still watching it because I love the actors but I seriously hate the characters in this drama. I am still hoping that Bong Pil will eventually mature……… and do something redeeming….. well anyway.

  8. Star September 16, 2017 9:05 pm at 9:05 pm - Reply

    “I wanna meet his mama and thank her for giving birth to his master piece” LMAO XD
    Anyway I agree with the characters being over the top and there’s nothing likeable about Soo Jin, Jin Sook could’ve been a great second lead but they ruined her character 🙁 I still find this show entertaining, can’t wait for everyone to find out what a creep that pharmacist really is! Bride of Habaek was a worse drama than this (the script in that drama sucked, I don’t really blame the actors/actresses)

  9. ger October 4, 2017 8:45 am at 8:45 am - Reply

    wow, totally agree with star! i felt that the bride of habaek is far worse.

    although the first episode was really frustrating to watch, i find it gets more entertaining towards the end.

    at least it didn’t made me feel like i wasted my time after i completed the drama.

  10. Angel Smith October 6, 2017 9:09 pm at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Just coz of UEE s public fall relations. Korean viewers aren’t even giving this drama a chance. Hypocrites always be hypocrites. U idiot viewers can say Another Miss Oh is the best drama ever. I barely forced myself to its end. This is a good drama and they all did well. U all suck by the way. And bride of the water god was good as well.

  11. Sandufus November 12, 2017 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I agree, the story was very frustrating and over the top from the start and I would have dropped it on its head if it weren’t for Jaejoong. But the more the show progresses, the more complex the characters become. Like Bong Pil, the drama just has a slow head start.

    And I wasn’t going to comment but then you mentioned 2017 has better dramas than 2016 and I just have to disagree. 2016 has been severely disappointing so far.

  12. Teleri November 18, 2017 7:05 am at 7:05 am - Reply

    I can see where some of the criticism comes from – people who don’t get this kind of humor or don’t like exaggerated comedy shouldn’t watch this. However, I loved it. JJ was gorgeous, everybody in it did a great job doing what the DIRECTOR wanted they to do, and I do appreciate this kind of tongue-in-cheek fantasy stuff that mingles somewhat w/everyday life. I really dislike it when people don’t like a story & then try to say that it’s the actors that are at fault, or the writers (when it’s the storyline or the genre that is disliked).
    You state “In my opinion, dramas should not attempt time travel theories”. REALLY???? In MY opinion that’s nonsense. I’m very glad that entertainment companies all over the world are more online with my preferences than yours, that’s for sure.
    You state that this is just your opinion – yes. That it is. I certainly do NOT think you managed to do anything except express your own rather prejudiced view of this drama here.
    Now, it’s a sad truth that this show didn’t get great ratings, so there were elements that didn’t appeal to the masses here. But you failed to mention those. One big one lay in the fact that these characters were all very REAL persons, ie not perfect by a long shot. In KDrama land, that so often signals an audience to dismiss them, especially if they are main characters. So I knew after the 3rd episode this drama would have some problems due to JJ’s character NOT being a stock one, & having some non-cliche flaws. But that is one of the things I found excellent here – and refreshing. Real people confronted a very unreal situation 😀
    Also, the over-the-top humor is certainly not to everyone’s taste and it was jarring in the first episode – that is true. But it got toned down. I certainly laughed out loud a LOT thru-out this series. The episode (2nd? 3rd?) where he comes back as a gangster had me rolling the entire time. So obviously our sense of humor is wildly different.
    I happened to like Tomorrow With You (I do like time-travel, you see) and also adored Habaek (cause, very very pretty with nothing to distract my brain LOL) – same reasons I liked Hwarang.
    You want the worst drama of 2017? I give you Missing 9. The ensemble cast was fabulous & the way the writers penned the interaction between them was fabulous, otherwise I’d never have watched it till the end. I was SOOOO furious at the writers for leaving mega-plot holes, leaps of logic, and OMG the worst ever ending I’ve seen since A Love To KIll 🙁

    • Tracy November 29, 2017 12:37 am at 12:37 am - Reply

      The ending of Missing 9 was the worst. I don’t think I will ever forgive the writers for that.

  13. Chesca December 15, 2017 1:30 pm at 1:30 pm - Reply

    The first time watched Manhole.. I wasnt able to finish the 1st episode. But, I’m a fan of Jaejoog and Uee so I thought I’d give it another try and as I progressed through… I found myself binge watching the whole thing in just one day I found it to be actually pretty serious and twisty!

    Jaejoong was soo much himself (if you’ve seen him on variety shows, making videos and his DBSK days) I thought the part fit him really well since he’s a pretty extra person. But when it came to serious and melancholic scenes.. he also did a pretty good job considering this being a post military drama.. post military and considering too that this is first drama where he’s the lead char.(usually does 2nd lead if I’m not mistaken…. well… except for the banjun drama..lol..)

    Uee… the first thing I noticed was her slim body… she’s become really thin and far from how I had gotten to know her. Nonetheless… she looks stronger than her weight (to finish a drama is hard work) and! She’s still really pretty..especially when she laughs and smiles.

    All the supporting characters were really spot on as well. I loved how each character unveils themselves in every episode and in every scenario. You get to know who they are and why they are the way they are with every change and twist in scenario.

    The plot is pretty hard to follow if you just want a fluffy romcom drama.. since its trying really hard to share the spotlight of the two leads with the other characters. I mean..just in my opinion.. if you’re not the type to pay close attention to detail of a story,, you wont be able to finish this drama.. so… I would say.. it’s a plot heavy drama so to speak.

    Well.. to each his own
    I am now trying to watch The Bride of Habaek…. I pray it to be good

    • Jazmine K December 15, 2017 1:42 pm at 1:42 pm - Reply

      good luck with the bride of habaek! I hated it

  14. otter February 19, 2018 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm - Reply

    I’m a fan of Uee but I agree with you.

  15. nik March 14, 2018 2:12 pm at 2:12 pm - Reply

    The story is about time travel, so we wouldn’t expect much reality to come our way, would we? In the first episode JJ almost drove me nuts with his nervous behavior, but if not for anything else then it was for him I continued watching. After all the episodes, I think I’ve never seen an actor having had so many totally different acting styles (caracters) to bring over as JJ in Manhole. And I think he did an excellent job. He was credible, even though sometimes unnerving, in every role, from the hyper active punk to the dyeing hero protecting his love. I think his performance was absolutely amazing. The story… some like it some not.

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