Andante is a musical term instructing the musicians to play that part of the piece at a moderately slow tempo – “at a walking pace.” At first I wondered why this show had a music related title but wasn’t about musicians. Then, as the story went on I understood – the main character’s life in Andante moves “at a walking pace.”
When Lee Shi-Kyung was a very young boy his father was sent to a volatile region in Africa as part of the Doctors Without Borders program and ended up being listed as missing in action, shifting the financial burden of providing for the family solely upon his mother’s shoulders. Although she works hard, debt piles up and the family has to leave their home in Seoul and move in with Shi-Kyung’s bitter paternal grandmother in an old rural town. He and his younger sister enroll at the small high school and slowly begin making friends. His mother gets a custodial-type job at the local hospice and his aunt (who came with them) ends up teaching music theory at the high school her niece and nephew attend. Shi-Kyung quickly falls for the reserved girl at school, Kim Bom. Most of her life is shrouded in mystery and the more he gets to know her, the more there is to like.
At 17 years old, Lee Shi-Kyung’s claim to fame is his mad computer gaming skills, however, they are also what lands him in hot water with his mother. She thinks he spends too much time playing and not enough time studying. Shi-Kyung doesn’t care for school and, therefore doesn’t put forth the effort needed to get decent grades. In fact, he ranks 17 out of 18 students in his class. He doesn’t have many memories of his father but when he’s given his dad’s old room he begins to learn what the man was like as a teenager. He also talks to his dad whenever he needs help. School activities, along with his mother and grandma, seem to focus around the hospice in town, forcing Shi-Kyung to slowly begin looking beyond his own selfish desires. As for his love life, he fell for Kim Bom the minute he saw her hanging from the limb of a huge, old tree. To him, she just seems to stand out in the sea of carbon-copied South Korean teenage girls.
Kim Bom was very close to her father but he passed away from a malignant brain tumor when she was very small. Her mother remarried and Bom took a back seat to her mom’s new life and family so she decided to go back to the tiny town where her father died and live on her own. Bom isn’t outgoing or what you would consider friendly and her school attendance isn’t very good. She often misses classes, extracurriculars, and volunteer events. When Shi-Kyung begins to pay attention to her it doesn’t take long for her to fall for him.
Although Lee Shi-Young is Shi-Kyung’s younger sister she isn’t that much younger – they’re in the same grade. Shi-Young is whiney, selfish, sassy, and almost always the instigator of the daily arguments she gets into. She enjoys cosplay but doesn’t let it get in the way of her school work. She gets good grades and is planning on following in her father’s footsteps by becoming a doctor.
Park Ga-Ram’s father is the director of Gaon Hospice and he, too, hopes to go to medical school as soon as he gets back from his military service. He has one of the highest rankings in the class and becomes Shi-Young’s private tutor. He is kind, soft-spoken, intelligent, and much more mature than the other kids his age. He’s also Shi-Kyung’s best friend.
Oh Jung-Won has been a single mother most of her children’s lives. She loves her kids and wants the best for them. She butts heads with her mother-in-law, is always challenged by her daughter, and worries about her son’s frivolous attitude towards school. She is a sympathetic ear to those in the hospice and many trust her with their secrets.
Shi-Kyun’s father’s mother is Kim Duk-Boon. She distanced herself from the family when his father disappeared twelve years ago. She is a kind woman who donates her time and energy to the patients at the hospice and voluntarily makes their funeral clothes by hand. Kim Bom remembers her as the kind old grandma who helped ease her sadness while her father was dying in the hospice many years ago.
Oh Jung-Won’s younger sister has lived with Shi-Kyung’s family for years. She is shy and nervous around others but learns to conquer her weaknesses and be a good teacher.
Born Kim Jong-In, Kai, as most of us know him, began dancing jazz at the young age of eight. Then, when he was in third grade, he saw The Nutcracker and decided to switch to ballet although his parents were hoping he’d want to learn Taekwondo and the piano instead. When he was 13 his father encouraged him to participate in the S.M. Youth Best Contest which he ended up winning! From there he joined S.M. Entertainment and began training in hip-hop. In 2012 Kai graduated from School of Performing Arts Seoul. In 2011 he was the first EXO member to be introduced to the public, quite an honor when you consider EXO initially debuted with 12 members. His acting debut came in 2016 when he was cast as the lead actor in the record-breaking viewership webdrama Choco Bank. That year he was also in the webdrama First Kiss For the Seventh Time, alongside big names like Lee Min-Ho, Choi Ji-Woo, Ji Chang-Wook, and Lee Joon-Gi to name just a few. Last year (2017) he made history by being the first non-Japanese actor to take the leading role in a drama (Spring Has Come, based on the Japanese novel of the same name) produced by the Japanese broadcasting station WOWOW. Kai was the cover model for the December 2017 issue of the magazine The Big Issue, which is specifically designed to help the homeless. In the first two days it sold out 20,000 copies and with over 28,000 copies sold as of now, it holds the record number of copies sold since the magazine’s start in 2010! When I first saw Kai in Choco Bank I remember thinking his acting was good for a debut but had a feeling he’d get better with time and more experience and boy, was I right. He is excellent in this as Lee Shi-Kyung. I hope he gets even meatier roles in the near future.
The aloof character of Kim Bom is played by model and actress Kim Jin-Kyung. In 2012 she was the runner up in OnStyle’s reality television show Korea’s Next Top Model. Her acting debut came in the form of a main role in the 2016 webdrama Yellow. She was also Madtown’s Jota’s virtual reality wife in 2016’s We Got Married. I wasn’t extremely impressed with her acting in this drama but Kai’s performance was good enough to pull her along.
Lee Shi-Kyung goes through a lot of character growth in this story. The things he has to deal with help him gain strength he didn’t even know he possessed. His growth, however, doesn’t take away from who he really is, it just helps him take life andante and a little more seriously.
I had started watching Just Between Lovers but turned it off halfway through the first episode because it seemed too depressing. I plan to go back to it someday but the serious plot was just too much for me right then. Since I had Andante on my watch list for awhile I decided to watch it instead . The synopsis on DramaFever made it sound like an upbeat drama about a kid who was good at video games. I’ve now decided to not trust DramaFever synopses any more. This show is very serious. Shi-Kyung and his family are in a difficult situation, and they deal with death practically on a daily basis. The school does activities at the hospice and has assignments like living funerals and death experiences. We get to know some of the people who are living with the threat of death hanging over their head and that’s just not a very chipper subject. I suggest you wait and watch this drama when you’re ready for a lot of heartbreak.
I was really surprised when I saw a boom mike, twice, in this show! That hasn’t happened since the early 2000 dramas! Other than that I didn’t catch any other mistakes or mishaps.
The music is nice, with Kim E-Z, Standing Egg, and Jung Joon-Young (among others) adding their talents to the soundtrack. Lovely Gift is an excellent, upbeat song that stands well on its own. Performed by The Night of Seokyo, the male/female harmonizing is just perfect. I absolutely love this song. Imfact sings the beautiful ballad Someday. The drums are quite unique. I really enjoy that particular song.
The scenery in the show is nice. The thing that stands out in my mind is the huge, old tree Kim Bom likes to hang from. It’s beautiful. The time of year is autumn so the leaves are missing but it’s breathtaking nonetheless. A lot of time is spent at the hospice, the high school, and Gramdma Duk-Boon’s old-style Korean house.
If you’ve had this one on your watch list, keep it there. The drama is worth watching, but wait until you’re ready for a serious show. Andante just may help you decide to slow down and take life “at a walking pace.”
Kai’s acting keeps getting better
Good character growth for Shi-Kyung
Heavy and slightly depressing plot
Not a lot of well-known, seasoned actors/actresses