Blueming is a Korean BL series about two film school students with a rocky relationship. The protagonist has a terrible first impression of his popular classmate, who seems to belittle everything he does. He becomes wary of his new rival as tensions rise uncomfortably. During a heated confrontation, the two characters discover their perceptions of each other are very different. There might have been a misunderstanding from the start.
Hindered by clunky storytelling, Blueming feels awkward in several parts where the plot doesn't always flow smoothly. The series wins back points by doing some moments exceptionally well, including the artistry, acting, and romantic passion. Despite showing occasional brilliance, this uneven BL drama has pacing issues and falls short of greatness.
South Korea (2022)
Blueming is a nice & heartwarming BL drama.
Si Won is a film school student who feels self-conscious about his appearance, fitness, and popularity. When he was young, the other kids teased him for being a chubby child. Since then, Si Won has lost weight through diligent dieting and exercise routines. However, he remains insecure about being perceived negatively. Sometimes, Si Won would tell little white lies about his interests and credentials to seem more impressive in group settings.
Si Won has a negative first impression of his classmate Da Un, who appears popular, wealthy, and successful. Da Un seems to belittle him constantly, catching his classmate in self-aggrandizing lies. Si Won is annoyed by little antics here and there, seemingly aimed to embarrass him. As tensions grow uncomfortably, a drunken Si Won confronts Da Un for looking down on him. Da Un tries defending himself, insisting he has no malicious intent. However, Si Won doesn't believe him.
Although Si Won tries to avoid his rival, they must work together on various class assignments and group projects. Da Un adopts a friendlier tone and wants to get along, but Si Won still acts mistrustful. Eventually, the hostile remarks get to Da Un, who wants to clear the air between them. As it turns out, there is a legitimate explanation for every slight against Si Won. Da Un doesn't harbour any animosity towards his classmate. In fact, it's the exact opposite.
Kang Eun Bin (강은빈)
Si Won is a film school student who puts a lot of stock into his appearance and popularity. He used to be a chubby child, but lost weight due to diligent exercise and dieting. Si Won still feels insecure and tells little white lies to make himself more impressive in group setting. Si Won lives with his single mother and younger sister.
Jo Hyuk Joon (조혁준)
Da Un is Si Won's classmate in film school. Seemingly popular and successful without trying, he gets on Si Won's nerves after a bad first impression. Their relationship worsens when Da Un seems to belittle and mock his classmate. Da Un comes from a wealthy family with accomplished yet busy parents.
Moon Hye In (문혜인)
Si Won's mom
Kim Sun Hwa (김선화)
Kim So Bin (김소빈)
Ahn Do Kyu (안도규)
Si Won's classmate
Da Un's mom
Jang Yoon Jung (장윤정)
- The director Hwang Da Seul is responsible for other Korean BL series, including Where Your Eyes Linger (2020) and To My Star (2021).
Drama Review Score: 7.4
Blueming is an okay BL drama that achieves a couple of exceptional moments later in the series. However, the story takes a while to kick into gear. It suffers from a clunky premiere, which doesn't introduce the plot or characters elegantly. The subsequent episodes improve, slowly overcoming a rocky first impression. Nonetheless, the amateurish narrative still has clumsy pacing issues and could benefit from a tighter script.
Blueming spends too long establishing the feud between the leads when that's the weakest part of their dynamic. Then, the storyteller dedicates too little time to depicting the friendship, a transition that feels sudden and underdeveloped. The romance also starts awkwardly, not receiving enough build-up. This couple wins me over eventually with sweet relationship moments and amorous exchanges. They have a decent rapport, even if their uneven journey could be more well-crafted.
Si Won isn't the most likable protagonist, but he has complexity and his personality flaws give him nuance. In contrast, his costar lacks definition. Da Un is reserved and puts up a barrier, never revealing much about himself throughout the series. He shows vulnerability in the finale, a tiny introspective glimpse after ten episodes as a puzzling enigma. Otherwise, Da Un holds back too much and doesn't break out of his shell. The supporting cast hardly shines either, working with meagre crumbles of material. Only Si Won gets any meaningful characterization.
Blueming has several memorable milestones. The first kiss and first sexual encounter are brilliant highlights of the series. Both scenes dazzle me with their cinematic artistry and passionate chemistry, capturing the essence of BL majestically. The penultimate episode also features an excellent acting showcase when Si Won argues with his mother. Wow, the actress playing the mom elevates the content, delivering a performance beyond the calibre of this drama. I give Blueming credit where it's due. When the story thrives, it can reach spectacular heights.
I watched Blueming twice, unsettled by the high review scores on MyDramaList. Did I miss something with this BL drama that other fans appreciate so much? Admittedly, my second rewatch was more enjoyable. Knowing the events beforehand eases the roughness in the narrative, allowing me to understand the character motivations better. Yet, it also reaffirmed my belief that Blueming has structural flaws, unable to convey its messages clearly. As I reassess each episode, I keep thinking: "This part could be written better." or "That scene is unnecessary."
Blueming has a happy ending, resolving its tense conflict in a subdued and predictable fashion. I'm satisfied with the soft and pleasant closure, but I wanted a more climactic finale that pushed the emotions more. Despite the shortcomings, my overall impression is positive. The occasional moments of brilliance make me open my eyes wide with excitement. However, the storytelling isn't refined enough, limiting its potential spark. Blueming is a flawed yet respectable attempt at BL. The quality is neither that great nor that bad, but somewhere in between.
Blueming doesn't execute its story smoothly. Some plots get handled awkwardly, the characterization feels lacklustre, and the pacing seems clunky.
The relationship dynamic between the leads begins rockily, but they clarify their misunderstanding and become a sweet couple. Their romantic encounters are passionate and stunning.
The leads do a decent job with their characters and chemistry. I'm impressed with the actress playing Si Won's mom, who gives a superb performance in the penultimate episode.
Blueming resolves the conflict in a low-key and pleasant ending. The closure is satisfying, but I wanted a more climactic conclusion that pushed the emotions further.
The series features several beautifully filmed scenes, an exquisite showcase of cinematic artistry. When the leads have their first sexual encounter, the moment is oozing with style and sophistication.
Blueming dazzles me with moments of brilliance that capture BL majestically. However, the clumsy narrative is poorly paced with inadequate build-up, dampening its potential spark.
Perception vs reality
Blueming explores the concept of perception versus reality. The main character Si Won appears confident and poised, stepping up as the leader of the class. Deep down, he feels insecure and suffers from imposter syndrome, working hard to maintain an image of coolness. Likewise, Si Won perceives Da Un as mean and condescending, seeing him as the enemy. In reality, Da Un is fond of his classmate and even has a crush on him.
The fact that Blueming takes place in a film school is clever and resonates with its narrative themes. A movie is symbolic of projection, showing a confined version of the narrative. Si Won's short film captures his life story, portraying a sad and troubled adolescence. However, his mom is angry because his portrayal doesn't capture the whole situation. Unlike her son, she perceives his childhood as a journey of grit and perseverance. Blueming demonstrates that perceptions can vary dramatically. Two people can perceive the same experience, but they may have very different views.
Blueming's story manifests out of Si Won's insecurities. He doesn't have enough confidence in himself, putting up a false front to mask his vulnerabilities. Growing up, Si Won was teased for being overweight, coming from a single-parent family, and not having much money. His upbringing made him self-conscious. He lies about his avant-garde movie tastes or imaginary job opportunities, hoping to seem more impressive. "I have a feeling that people won't like me once they know the real me," Si Won admits to Da Un.
Initially, Si Won resents Da Un due to envy. His classmate projects an image of confidence, popularity, and success, everything that Si Won strives to be. This jealousy distorted his perception of their interactions. The truth is that Da Un never expressed any animosity towards him. Da Un simply wanted to know what movies he liked, but Si Won misinterpreted their exchange as if he was getting mocked. If Si Won didn't lie or felt more confident in himself, he'd realize Da Un was making friendly small talk. Instead, it became a sore point that triggered his insecurities.
Eventually, Si Won drops his bravado around Da Un, owning his deceit and admitting his faults. He becomes more vulnerable and opens up about his anxieties. What makes Da Un admirable is that he doesn't change his feelings towards Si Won along the way. Da Un likes, accepts, and believes in Si Won, even when the latter exposes his worst qualities. This unconditional support reassures Si Won, making him feel more comfortable about being himself.
Da Un is a secretive character who doesn't reveal much about himself throughout the series. He hides his birthday, doesn't disclose his family background, and hardly shares his thoughts or feelings. "I told you everything about me," Si Won tells him in Episode 8, encouraging his love interest to do the same. However, Da Un avoids eye contact and shies away from the topic. He puts up an emotionally distant barrier, uncomfortable opening up about himself.
In his childhood, Da Un is used to living in the shadow of his famous mother, overshadowed by her success. His parents are often busy with work, leaving him alone frequently. Their neglect makes him feel unimportant, like he doesn't matter enough to grab their attention. At the same time, Si Won realizes his wealthy family provided him with a luxurious upbringing. His privilege makes any loneliness seem trivial, like a rich kid with first-world problems. These factors have conditioned Da Un to internalize his unhappiness, believing that nobody cares about what he thinks.
Si Won is different from everyone else. He cares too much about what Da Un thinks of him that it creates friction between them. While the attention isn't necessarily positive, Da Un finds it amusing how much Si Won has misunderstood him. Their relationship improves over time, and Si Won shows a genuine interest in his new friend. He cares about Da Un's opinion, spends time with him, and communicates openly. Their dynamic is honest and intimate. Da Un builds camaraderie for the first time, finally becoming comfortable enough to open up to somebody else.
Si Won and Da Un
Si Won and Da Un's first kiss happens in Episode 8, a crucial moment in their relationship. Si Won feels anxious after finishing his first film, a deeply personal project that reflects his childhood. He lacks confidence in his work and doesn't think other people will enjoy the movie. Si Won confides his insecurities with Da Un, a sign that he trusts his new friend. Si Won doesn't put up a front around Da Un anymore and chooses to be vulnerable around him.
Their one-on-one chat takes the couple to the beach. Si Won wants to learn more about Da Un, encouraging him to open up about his life. However, Da Un holds back, downplays any personal issues, and believes he shouldn't complain about "small stuff". Si Won gives a mature, thoughtful response. He doesn't want Da Un to discredit the problems in his life. Da Un's unhappiness is legitimate, even if he perceives his concerns as minor. "If you feel pain, then it is pain. Nobody can judge you." Si Won states profoundly.
Da Un feels touched by Si Won's sincerity. He has met somebody who genuinely cares about him, enough to reach out beyond a superficial level. Hey, I want to learn more about you, and I don't think your problems are trivial. Si Won is unlike Da Un's parents, who only seem concerned about their son's education or achievements. Here's someone who wants to build a heartfelt connection with him, embracing his struggles. Da Un is so moved that he kisses Si Won, a spontaneous exchange reciprocated by his partner.
Si Won and Da Un sex
Blueming is defined by steady cinematography, lush colours, and gorgeous locations. The series features some beautifully filmed scenes that highlight the romance between the characters.
The sexual encounter in Episode 9 is spectacular. The leads enter a dark bedroom as they prepare to have sex for the first time. We only see the outlines of their bodies against the backdrop of the window curtains, illuminated by a bluish tint. As the characters kiss or make physical contact, their shadows envelop each other intimately. It's a visually striking moment, full of ambiance and cinematic artistry.
Si Won's mom
In Episode 10, Si Won argues with his mother over the autobiographical movie he made. She feels embarrassed that he portrayed his childhood unflatteringly, depicting their home life as pitiful and turbulent. One of the moments we see is the mom bawling on the floor after her husband abandons their family, witnessed by a young Si Won. It's not the most appealing image of a single parent who raised two kids by herself. The mom feels provoked that Si Won glorified her trauma.
As she yells at her son, it becomes clear Si Won's mom is upset beyond just the film. Her distress comes from seeing these negative memories from his childhood. The mom thought she did a good job supporting her family by herself, yet she now realized Si Won grew up miserably. She feels ashamed about not providing her kids with a better life, almost failing them as a parent. Seeing this movie made the mom angry at herself, highlighting her inability to provide Si Won with a happier childhood.
Knowing the context makes the emotions in this scene more powerful. Initially, the mom is furious, but the anger dissolves into vulnerability and heartbreak. The actress (Kim Sun Hwa) does an incredible job with her authentic performance, capturing the character's sorrow with a poignant fragility. Both actors elevate the moment as Si Won cried and hugged his mom in reconciliation. It's probably the best acting showcase in the entire series.
Blueming has a total of 11 episodes. Each episode is around 12 to 16 minutes long. The last episode is around 18 minutes long. It is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 3 hours. Blueming released the series on March 31, 2022.
Blueming has a happy ending where the main characters reconcile after their argument. Previously, Si Won got angry after discovering Da Un rigged the film competition so he could win. In private, Da Un's mom admitted that the movie wasn't good enough and it didn't deserve the victory. Si Won only won because of his connection with Da Un, confirming his worst fear that he isn't a worthy filmmaker.
Da Un feels terrible about what happened. He spends the night alone in his room, fantasizing about a happy family reunion and a romantic kiss with Si Won. Next morning, he waits outside Si Won's house and gives a tearful apology. He apologizes for his mistake and admits to not thinking about the consequences. Si Won forgives Da Un and gives him a second chance. They hug, make up, and walk away holding hands.
After their reconciliation, Da Un tells Si Won more about himself. Da Un admits that he came to film school feeling aimless about his life. He also had nobody to talk to until Si Won came along. Now, Da Un has made up his mind about his aspirations. He whispers his plans for the future in Si Won's ear.
Although we don't hear what Da Un says, it's a positive sign of him confiding in Si Won. Da Un was a secretive character throughout the series, but he has finally opened up and shared his inner thoughts. Si Won is the only person privy to Da Un's secrets, reaffirming their strong bond.
The final scene shows the couple taking a romantic stroll on the beach together. As the series ends, Si Won gives narration about how it's the starting point of their journey. This is the beginning of Si Won and Da Un learning more about themselves and each other.