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Level Up premiere: Gaming-centered drama starring Sung Hoon and Han Bo-Reum give fans ‘new hope’ in MBN K-Dramas

Level Up -- K-Drama poster
Sung Hoon and Han Bo-Reum star in the newest (full series) K-drama by MBN almost six months after their previous K-drama, Best Chicken. Pic credit: Maeil Broadcasting Network (MBN)

The Maeil Broadcasting Network has returned with their newest K-drama, Level Up. After watching the premiere episodes, fans are not just entertained by the series but also have a “new hope” for the network.

Player One and Two pursue game industry dreams

For those who are unsure what Level Up is about, it is a romantic comedy (romcom) set within the video game industry.

Dante Ahn (Sung Hoon) — also known as Ahn Dan-Te — is a director at Yoosung CRC who specializes in restructuring failing companies to be successful again. As part of his work mantra, he does not express feelings despite being a perfectionist. As a result, he comes off as cold to others.

The next business Dante is tasked to save is a video game company called Joybuster. He is appointed as the new CEO but is constantly butting heads with the company’s head of game development, Shin Yeon-Hwa (Han Bo-Reum). With their relationship being rocky from the start, can Yeon-Hwa create a new game that will satisfy Dante when they are in conflict with pretty much everything else?

A “New Hope” for MBN

After Level Up aired its premiere episodes, viewers were treated to a series that was well-paced, fun to watch, and had good chemistry between the leads. For others, Level Up gives “new hope” for MBN K-dramas.

Unfortunately for MBN, they are plagued with controversy when it comes to their K-dramas. Most people believe it started with Devilish Joy (Devilish Charm). The romance K-drama starring Choi Jin-Hyuk and Song Ha-Yoon was a success, but the controversy lies with production. Golden Thumb Pictures did not pay their staff for months.

Later on, MBN featured Yoon Eun-Hye’s return to K-dramas in Fluttering Love (Fluttering Romance, Love Alert). Since it has been years since her last K-drama, her presence alone boosted viewership for any MBN K-drama by a decent amount.

Sadly Fluttering Romance was plagued on the production side as well. YG Studio Plex had to terminate their co-CEO Cho Jung-Ho. Reportedly, he made an illegal contract to sell distribution rights for Fluttering Love in Japan to an unnamed Japanese distribution company through his own firm. He also stole money from investors including a co-producer at The Groove Company.

That is probably also why production for Fluttering Love went sideways halfway through the K-drama. The series suddenly became redundant and boring to the point many viewers simply “dropped out” as proven among comments provided by reviews on Rakuten Viki.

Let’s hope that Level Up becomes the K-drama that turns MBN around. For those interested in watching Level Up, it airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11 p.m. KST on MBN and Dramax.

For international fans, Level Up airs exclusively on network streaming service Rakuten Viki. Take note viewers will need to subscribe to Viki Pass Standard.

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War Omega is an entertainment news writer and painter that specializes in Asian entertainment. On Monsters & Critics, he writes about K-pop, K-dramas, and Chinese... read more
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