Even though Falling For Challenge happens to be the most watched webdrama of 2015, reaching 20 million views in just 17 days, I think you’re better off using your Kdrama viewing time on something else.
A teacher (nicknamed the “bulldog”) at the university wants the floundering One Plus One club to clear out of the room they were given since they have always been short on members. Ban Ha-Na and Ki Yeo-Won, the clubs only members, can’t give up on their challenge club so with the threat of termination looming over their heads they set out to recruit more people into One Plus One. As luck would have it, two young men, Na Do-Jeon and Nam Gong Dae, join the girls as a way to get closer to Ban Ha-Na. Now that the club’s size has doubled in members they vote to have their challenge be learning how to become mime clowns.
From the beginning of her time at the school, Ban Ha-Na (yes, people make reference to the fact that her name sounds like “banana”) has been different from other freshmen who talk about credentials or personal connections as their goals. She just wants to purely “enjoy the challenge,” telling Ki Yeo-Woon she is okay with failure as long as she doesn’t give up. Her dream is to own a food truck and she’s even gone so far as to begin making an app where owners of food trucks can share information and trade merchandise.
Na Do-Jeon is following in his deceased father’s footsteps by being a Pierrot (a pantomime clown). He confides in Ha-Na, telling her his “father passed away during a performance but he laughed like a clown until his last moment so he basically lived his entire life as a Pierrot.” Do-Jeon loves making people happy and feels comfortable performing for others. He can even do magic! Ha-Na claims Do-Jeon “is shy most of the time, introverted and without charms at all. But when he’s in Pierrot make-up, he’s quite fun and charming.”
Ki Yeo-Woon is the other original member of the One Plus One club whose motto is, “Do it when you can.” Her personal goal is to make a documentary.
Nam Gong takes pleasure in reminding the other three club members that he is the only son from a distinguished family of three generations. Although he wants the club’s challenge to be running a marathon, when the members vote to learn pantomime, he agrees to go along with the group.
Kim Min-Seok, better known by his stage name Xiumin, plays the part of Na Do-Jeon. He attended Catholic Kwandong University and the man is a black belt in Kendo and Taekwondo as well as being trained in Wushu and Fencing. (I’d certainly want him nearby if I was walking home alone late at night.) He is also a huge soccer fan and was made an honorary ambassador of the Korea Football Association. He was the second place winner of the 2008 SM Everysing Contest and went on to become a member of the boy group EXO. Falling For Challenge is Xiumin’s second time acting on screen. His first was earlier in 2015 in the webdrama EXO Next Door. He also appeared in the 2016 motion picture Seondal: The Man Who Sells the River. In May of this year (2019) he left to serve his mandatory military assignment. Five months later he was starring in the army musical Return: The Promise of That Day.
There’s not much to this webdrama. Four college students get together and one teaches the others the art of being a good Pierrot, with the underlying theme being to get out of your comfort zone and not shy away from challenging yourself. That’s about it. The acting is only so-so, the directing isn’t all that impressive, and I wasn’t drawn to a single character. The story doesn’t even lend itself to a decent romance.
The characters talk to the camera, telling us their thoughts and feelings. Since Ki Yeo-Woon wants to make a documentary I guessed she was the one interviewing the people. But at the end of the drama it shows Do-Jeon all alone talking to a camera, so maybe that was his camera all along? Or could it be that each person talking to the camera was making their own video journal? I don’t know. The show is never clear on what that was all about.
I was very surprised when I found out Falling For Challenge was 2015’s most watched webdrama, mostly because I’ve seen many other webdramas from that year that, in my opinion, were much more thought provoking and/or entertaining- Immutable Law of First Love, Romance Blue, Love in Memory, Dream Knight, Splash, Splash Love, Noble, My Love, The Secret Message, and High End Crush. If you spread out and include more years you get great ones like Her Lovely Heels, Missing Korea, Choco Bank, First Kiss For the Seventh Time, Last Minute Romance, Go Ho’s Starry Night, and Somehow 18. I’d suggest all of those before I’d encourage someone to turn on Falling For Challenge.
There are two songs good enough to mention. Even After Time Passes is a lovely ballad sweetly sung by Song Ha-Ye, and Xiumin solos the show’s theme song You Are the One, an upbeat song with a positive, happy sound.
There’s not much to the drama’s backgrounds. It’s pretty much just the school and the rooftop on the apartment building where Do-Jeon lives. There are lots of outdoor shots but then why not use nature when you’re shooting in spring-like weather?
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I’m not a fan of Falling For Challenge. Other than the music the only positive thing I can say is that it’s not as bad as The Romantic Movement: Seoul. Do yourself a favor – skip this and start Secret Garden instead.
Positive message of challenging yourself
There’s nothing really “bad” -the problem is there’s not much that’s really “good”