* This review contains spoilers for Episode 2 of Doona!
Doona and Won-Jun appear to have found a routine. We catch a glimpse of their daily lives as they go about town. Doona visits a convenience store to buy her cigarettes (Black Devil Gold). We learn that despite her bravado, she is actually quite worried about being recognized as a former idol.
Won-Jun gets a part-time job as a waiter in a cafe. To his surprise, Jin-Ju is also working there. We learn through a flashback that the two of them went to high school together, and that he once had a crush on her. The two leave work, and Won-Jun realizes that he has accidentally taken home her apron instead of his.
We then see Doona at the student house, watching TV. She receives a call from her mother, which she ignores, and we see her try to call the mysterious ‘P’. We catch a brief glimpse as he rejects her call. In a flashback, we find out he was the one who gave her the phone. The two of them appear to have been in a secret romantic relationship.
Doona walks outside and sees Won-Jun has returned, and is playing with a stray cat. She chides him for ignoring her phone call while he was at work. He apologizes and asks why she called. She tells him that it was because she wanted to hear his voice, echoing what she said to ‘P’ in her flashback. She reminds Won-Jun that he should answer when she calls.
Doona protects Won-Jun
The next day, Won-Jun stays back for a student association gathering. Alone at the house, Doona begins to despair, and reminisces about her time as an idol. Won-Jun gets a phone call from her, and leaves the gathering to answer it. A senior snatches his phone to talk to Doona, getting aggressive when Won-Jun asks for it back. Doona suddenly appears on the scene and has a tense confrontation with the senior. The argument ends with her trying to smash a wine bottle over the senior’s head, but Won-Jun manages to block the attack.
Later, Won-Jun and Doona sit down to talk, and she tells him she brought the bottle to have a drink with him. He agrees, but notices Jin-Ju across the road. She comes over to greet him, and recognizes Doona. She excitedly invites Doona to join her for a drink, and Doona rejects her rudely. However, the three of them end up having a drinking party after all, at the student house, and the two girls get along very well.
Doona later tells Won-Jun that she is jealous of him, because he has a great relationship with Jin-Ju. She tells him that she has never had a real friend. They almost end up kissing, but Doona stops herself at the last minute, much to Won-Jun’s relief. However, he finds that he can’t stop thinking about the moment.
A simple misunderstanding
The next day at school, he meets with Jin-Ju to swap aprons. She coyly tells Won-Jun that she saw him and Doona kiss, but before he can clarify the situation, she runs off to meet Se-Hun, a boy whom she is seeing casually. Later that day, he tells Doona of Jin-Ju’s misconception, and she teases that they should probably date for real.
An irritated Won-Jun tells Doona that he knows why she has no friends. It’s because she has no filter when she speaks. An angry Doona sarcastically agrees that her attitude is the reason why she “can’t fix her career”. Won-Jun attempts to apologize, but she storms off.
The next evening, he invites her upstairs for a meal, and they have an awkward dinner with the two other male housemates, Jeong-Hun (Kim Do-Wan) and Yun-Taek (Kim Min-Ho). Later, Won-Jun and Doona go for a walk, and he asks why she left DREAM SWEET. She tells him that she “just couldn’t sing” anymore. The two of them then bond over a claw game, with Doona successfully getting a doll from the machine.
Doona under pressure
We also get a flashback of what made Doona quit DREAM SWEET. Despite telling her manager ‘P’ of her anxiety, she was forced to to go onstage at KCON Japan. Doona then shut down mentally in the middle of the group’s performance, and let herself fall off the stage.
Back in the present day, Doona and Won-Jun discuss his relationship with Jin-Ju, and Doona tells him to court her. She tells him to press Jin-Ju up against a wall, and stare into her eyes for several seconds. Won-Jun then practices the move on Doona, but stops before things can go any further.
Back at the house, Doona spots a gift box on her table, with a note reading “I’ll be in touch”. Realizing it is from ‘P’, she runs out barefoot to search for him, but he is long gone. At the same time, Won-Jun calls up Jin-Ju to tell her that there is nothing between him and Doona. Jin-Ju replies that she is glad for that.
What we thought of Doona! Episode 2
The plot finally gets going in this episode. We learn a lot more about Doona’s backstory, including her painful reasons for quitting music. It’s clear that she is carrying a lot of emotional trauma, and that her rude façade is just a smokescreen for her true vulnerabilities.
Won-Jun also begins to show a more complex side to his character. He is still nursing feelings for Jin-Ju, but is feeling drawn towards Doona despite himself. It’s still unclear how Jin-Ju feels about him, but the fact that she has a boyfriend certainly complicates matters. On a lighter note, it was amusing that she was the first person to immediately recognize Doona.
Both Bae Suzy and Yang Se-Jong once again show some skilled acting here. Their shared scenes have just the right balance of tension and warmth, and they are able to convey a lot of meaning even in their quiet moments.
This episode also shows how Doona! is different from other romance K-dramas. There are many quiet moments with no soundtrack, letting the scenes feel more grounded and real. It is certainly a refreshing change for regular romance K-drama viewers.
We’re looking forward to seeing what happens next in Episode 3 of Doona!.