a poster for the kdrama lovely runner 2024

Lovely Runner: Low Ratings, Huge Phenomenon?

Recently, Korea and the entire K-drama watching population have been swept by the Lovely Runner fever.

Premiering to little buzz and moderately known cast, the drama quickly exploded in popularity and catapulted its main stars, Byun Woo Seok and Kim Hye Yoon, to new heights of fame. Despite the relatively low ratings on TV, the drama is an internet sensation both at home and globally.

Lovely Runner is a webtoon adaptation about a paraplegic girl named Im Sol (Hye Yoon) who finds a source of comfort in idol star Ryu Sun Jae (Woo Seok).

After Sun Jae’s death by suicide, a grieving Sol inadvertently traveled back in time to 2009 and met a high school aged Sun Jae. As Sol attempts to change Sun Jae’s fate, their uncanny love story begins.

Everyone is talking about Lovely Runner and its achievements keep growing day by day. Even after the drama concluded its 16-episode run, the list just keeps growing. Here’s a rundown of the Lovely Runner fever currently sweeping the K-Drama world.

Sun Jae-ya

The Ryu Sun Jae Syndrome

Nothing is more phenomenal about this drama than the lead actor himself. Woo Seok as Ryu Sun Jae has completely bewitched the world with his stature, appeasing looks and geen flag persona; which has accumulated with him becoming an instant hit with viewers. "Sun Jae-ya", the cute way Sol calls her idol, becomes a catchphrase endlessly parodied in variety shows and on the internet.

The love for Sun Jae is inextricably linked to Woo Seok. With his modelesque stature and three-dimensional acting, the actor is a revelation. The drama might have ended, but his face is still plastered everywhere, from magazine covers to ads.

The actor also receives a flood of invitations from top TV programs like You Quiz on the Block and Running Man. Youtube shows featuring him and Hye Yoon also pull millions of viewers easily. To think that a few months ago he was a moderately known supporting actor.

Further proving the drama’s global appeal, the actor also enjoys a massive surge of Instagram followings, going from 4,8 millions followers to 9 millions within 2 months.

Quick to capitalize on the moment, his agency swiftly organized an Asia fan meeting tour for him. For his Korean fanmeeting, over 700,000 people tried to buy tickets but the total capacity for the venue for the two-day event was 8,000.- That’s how in demand he is.

"Sudden Shower" Topping Music Charts

Sung by Woo Seok himself, Lovely Runner’s OST did the unthinkable and became the rare soundtrack to break through the highly competitive music charts.

It did so gradually, steadily climbing the chart as the drama’s popularity grew. It’s now at #4 on Melon, charting among high profile releases from Aespa and NewJeans. Globally, the steady growth also pushed it toward Billboard 200 Global Chart, where it ranked #199 and made the national news.

Sold Out Pop Up Store

It’s unusual for a TV drama to open a pop-up store, let alone cause a ridiculously long line, but that’s exactly what Lovely Runner did. Needless to say, the merchandise sold out instantly. Yet another impossible feat that this little drama achieved.

How did such an underrated drama get this far?

The most straightforward answer would be Woo Seok’s indomitable charm. He’s a former fashion model once in the same company as Jang Ki Yong and Nam Joo Hyuk.

He’s the ultimate boy next door: tall (189 cm), handsome, sings beautifully, and has this irresistible brooding presence. He’s also charismatic and really good at conveying complex emotions through his eyes. His potential was apparent in his past dramas, but Lovely Runner really gave him a platform to shine.

As his leading lady, Hye Yoon balances him out with a warm, chirpy personality. Her small stature makes the sight of them standing side by side all the more adorable. She also has natural comedic timing that prevents the slapstick gags in the drama from feeling too overbearing.

Together, the hyperactive GF meets introverted BF chemistry between Hye Yoon and Woo Seok is a potent combination to lure viewers.

The plot is nothing to write home about, bordering on slapstick sometimes.

However, we haven’t got this type of nostalgic youth romcom in a while. Many have said this drama brings back the real essence of a K-drama. Shot in such lush cinematography, the drama evokes the giddy feeling of first love and hopeful future. Tracking the protagonists from their high school days to adulthood, it sweetly depicts a journey of love, dream, and sacrifice.

If you haven’t checked out Lovely Runner already, carry yourself and run to VIU or VIKI to see what the hype is all about!

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