A sexual scandal between a math teacher and a student in a prestigious high school ends in tragedy. Four years later, they meet again, now both adults, to reveal the corruption in school and to regain one's reputation as a teacher. Ji Yoon Soo is a high school math teacher with a bright smile and a positive impression of others. She is a hard-nosed and stubborn person who has to push ahead with the decisions she has made. She is a math geek who loves solving difficult problems and teaches students to purely love math. Baek Seung Yoo is emotionless and has no light in his eyes. He used to be a math genius who appeared on a quiz program at the age of five and surprised the world by solving college-level math problems. He was admitted to MIT at the age of 10 but dropped out at the age of 12, and suddenly disappeared. (Source: CJ ENM) Edit Translation
Where to Watch Melancholia
Cast & Credits
A riveting romantic story between Hardy and Ramanujan
Initially I went into this drama for the stacked cast and out-of-the box premise. What I got in return was something so mind-blowingly beautiful that exceeded all my ever-imaginable expectations. From the 150+ dramas and 50+ movies I have watched thus far, many of them highly rated on MDL, “Melancholia” which currently sits at a mere 8.0 has just comfortably took the top spot as my all-time favorite, has become the only drama I’m leaving as a 10/10 and that position will most likely hardly change in the future. Here are the reasons why I consider “Melancholia” to be such a special drama:
Yoon Su’s nickname when posing a quiz in the train was Hardy. Hardy, just like Yoon Su, had mathematicians as parents. Just like Hardy who meets Ramanujan after coming from a taxi with the number 1729 which turned into Ramanujan’s biggest discovery, Yoon Su crashes into Seung Yoo who is wearing a cap with the number 1729 while they are inside of a train facing each other, with both becoming their biggest discovery and incident with whom they feel an instant connection. Having experienced both rejection and illness from a young age despite his talent, Ramanujan, just like Seung Yoo, lived under great hardships before meeting Hardy. Hardy takes Ramanujan under his wing to become his disciple and partner, just like Yoon Su does to Seung Yoo. Thanks to Hardy, Ramanujan becomes one of the best mathematicians. The same happens to Seung Yoo because of Yoon Su. Seung Yoo never forgets his roots and returns to the side of his mentor, who is everything to him. Yoon Su likes Seung Yoo’s perspective of Math and wishes to nurture and protect it while Seung Yoo enjoys Yoon Su’s passion and the smile she carries when she thinks and talks about Math and wishes to preserve it.
When Hardy was asked what his contribution to mathematics would be, without hesitating, he said it was Ramanujan. He called the partnership they had “the only romantic incident in his life”
Luxurious Main Cast of well-reputed actors – Lim Soo Jung (I’m Sorry, I love You, Chicago Typewriter, Search: WWW), Lee Do Hyun (18 Again, Sweet Home, Youth of May), Choi Dae Hoon (CLOY, Flower of Evil, Beyond Evil) and Jin Kyung (It’s Okay That’s Love, Pinnochio, Romantic Doctor Kim 1 & 2). All 4 of them gave outstanding performances.
Directing/Cinematography – “Melancholia” is very beautiful and a pleasant drama to look at. Director Kim Sang Hyub in the past was responsible for works such as “True Beauty” and “Extraordinary You”, that despite having somewhat poor writing (from what I heard), are very gorgeous in terms of cinematography.
Original Script with a unique premise and great worldbuilding. The screenwriter has an history of previously having portrayed a teacher-student relationship successfully with “Doctor John”. This time, however, it was not an easy premise to go over as it needed to be dealt with carefully, especially with now being under a more controversial academic setting, but I believe it was very well executed as the boundaries were not broken beyond what they should while they were in school. The way the show blended math into dialogues, visual representation and plot/character specifics is also something worth lauding.
Slow-burn pure love. While there is not much “romance” per say, their interactions are very romantic, there is a lot of tension and chemistry and their relationship or the way they think about it sees small but exciting positive developments with each episode that are worth looking forward to, and it feels hard earned. Rather than the typical romance this is an intellectual romance, it’s also about the blossoming of a bond and relationship between 2 individuals who share the same passion that gradually develops into unconditional love despite all odds. The two of them wind up changing each other lifes forever, healing each other in the process and instigating change in themselves for the better. The feelings they have for each other build up as the links that tie them together increase. Their relationship far transcends the usual lovers. You may end up questioning what can considered romance. To me this ended up being the most romantic drama I have ever seen. The age gap of 16 years between the lead actors is actually not that noticeable as they match each other perfectly and Lim Soo Jung looks so young to the point that sometimes she looks the same age or even younger than LDH.
Inspiring core message: to never give up, that there is always hope even in times of despair and how passion for something beats everything else
This drama is much more than a love story. It also has an engaging and well-paced storyline with high stakes that brings out a rollercoaster of emotions, tackling relevant topics such as education, corruption, mental health and depression, parenting, high class privilege and inequality, and love of many kinds. There are also many life lessons given from the perspective of a mathematician.
Very good OST’s that blend well with the drama and leave you emotional
Hidden/double-meaning dialogues, symbolisms and interactions open to interpretation
Satisfaction of seeing the antagonists slowly driving themselves to their doom. It is ironic that the ones that make the most damage to the antagonists are not the leads, but the antagonists themselves. Those who end up belittling the fruits of effort and passion, will end being consumed by their own greed in the end.
Character arcs and how they were neatly closed and treated as humans by the end, be it the good or bad ones
Geometrical plot structure (6+6+2+2):
1-6: Episodes 1 and 2 – Getting acquainted; Episodes 3 and 4 – Healing Seung Yoo and becoming closer; Episodes 5 – Seung Yoo’s Feelings; Episode 6 – Error in the premise
7-12: Episodes 7 and 8 – Getting acquainted; Episodes 9 and 10 – Healing Yoon Su and becoming closer; Episode 11 – Yoon Su’s Feelings; Episode 12 – Error in the premise
13-16: Episode 13 – Yoon Su’s resolve; Episode 14 – Seung Yoo’s resolve; Episode 15- The old sun descends; Episode 16 – The new sun rises
Last but not least, Choi Shi An aka SY and YS’s adopted daughter (the drama makes it so intentional to make them seem like a family of four lol).
“Melancholia” oozes a special vibe where it enraptures you in its own unique world and is just the type of drama I was looking for. Above all it has a lot of heart. I hope more dramas that give out this type of feeling are made in the future. They have that special element that makes them different from everything else you have watched before and that can make you attached to it, and that is why I watch dramas.
There are many other things I have not mentioned in detail because I do not wish to spoil the story too much or may have glossed over and will only be able to notice with a rewatch (which I will certainly do, and more than once), but I think this alone should be enough, so I hope I was helpful in any way in convincing you to watch this magnificent work of art and thank you for dedicating your precious time in reading this review.
Bitter sweet melancholiaI'm shocked at the low ratings this drama had. It is such a beautiful and unique story and one that will stay with me for a long time. Who knew maths could be so beautiful. This drama gives the viewer the opportunity to see the world through the lens of a mathematician. True slow burn love which is never made to feel inappropriate and the fight for justice against the corruption of an elitist education system. It was never too dark or depressing. I found this story with the backdrop of maths to be very deep and poignant without being boring. The ML and FL and the headteacher were excellent in their roles. I can't believe how young the FL leads looks ....she looked the same age as the ML. This drama deserves to be a hit and tbh I've seen so many K dramas C Dramas Lakorns and J dramas and this is really one of the most unique of them all. This is a must watch imo.