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Forest debut: Park Hae-Jin and Jo Bo-Ah try to swoon viewers in romance/mystery K-Drama set in a mysterious forest

Forest main leads poster for K-drama
Park Hae-Jin and Jo Bo-Ah shoot a romantic pose for the main leads poster for Forest. Pic credit: Korean Broadcasting Corporation (KBS)

Last week, the Korean Broadcasting Corporation (KBS) debuted its newest K-drama, Forest. Starring Park Hae-Jin (Cheese in the Trap, Man to Man) and Jo Bo-Ah (Temperature of Love, My Strange Hero), the two hope to swoon viewers with romance in a mysterious forest.

Two people meet in the heart of a mysterious forest

Though the title doesn’t exactly sound too enticing, Forest is a romance and mystery centered on two people who are forced to live in a forest that holds more to their lives than they both know.

Kang San-Hyeok (Park Hae-Jin) works as an investor for Red Line Investments who’s work mantra on finding out the truth about why certain businesses are failing is to “follow your feet.” In short, work the positions of the people directly involved with the product.

Pertaining with a contract that centers on a forest, Kang San-Hyeok joins a special forest rescue team stationed there to find a way to get them relocated. Until then, he partakes in rescue, responding to 119 emergency calls and saving lives in the process.

On his latest mission, Kang San-Hyeok comes across Jung Young-Jae (Jo Bo-Ah), a surgeon who he met in a major hospital prior to his stint in forest rescue. By happenstance, she was relocated to work at the local hospital in the forest.

As time goes by, the two spend more time together enjoying the little wonders the seemingly magical forest has to offer. It also brings them closer to the truth about their pasts and the key role the forest plays in their intertwined destinies.

A slow start effects Forest’s viewership

Overall, Forest seems to have a pretty solid foundation for a romance K-drama. However, a “slow start” may have left a less-than-favorable impression on viewers.

In Korea, the setup for the remainder of the K-drama was kind of a slow build. There were some scenes considered as “filler material” despite them being necessary to establish certain relationship lines. Just how they were established wasn’t satisfactory enough.

Secondly was all the convoluted additions to certain characters viewers did not know about if they read the synopsis. In the original synopsis, Kang San-Hyeok is only a 119 rescuer but in the K-drama, he works for a finance group who happens to join the 119 rescue service. Viewers anticipating one thing were blindsided by another.

In the end, the viewership provided by AGB Nielsen Korea shows viewers were rather disappointed. By the end of the second episode, the viewership in the nation and Seoul were both 7.4 percent. by the end of the fourth episode, the viewership dropped dramatically to 5.1 percent for the nation. The viewership was way too low in Seoul to even receive a percentage.

As for international viewers, Forest is airing on Rakuten Viki. Apparently, not many fans were enticed with the K-drama as outsourced subtitles were slow to create. It took almost four days for all four episodes to have enough English subtitles for viewers to enjoy.

To be fair, Forest just started. KBS has 28 more episodes to get the series going in the right direction.

Forest airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays, two episodes back-to-back starting at 10 p.m. KST, on KBS. For international viewers especially those in the Americas, Forest streams on Rakuten Viki for free with ads.

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