First Impressions: “Encounter” Warms Hearts With Innocent Romance And Stunning Cinematography

It’s finally here. The series that all fans of the K-drama world have been waiting to see.

Well, almost all of us.

Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo star in the new tvN drama “Encounter.” With the teasers, trailers, and posters, many of us have been wondering – how will the series kick off and will it meet expectations? With two powerhouse Hallyu actors starring as the main leads, the bar has been set pretty high in terms of delivering.

Curious to know how the first two episodes were? Keep reading to find out!

Warning: spoilers for episodes 1 and 2 ahead!

Production value

In terms of the cinematography, “Encounter” really brings out the big guns. The setting and beautiful backdrop of Cuba in the first episode is breathtaking – in fact, the first episode could have been a movie in itself. The production of every scene makes it seem like every shot is an artistic masterpiece, and it adds to the whole romance that the two leads embark on.

Even the old and rustic interior of the buildings are picture perfect.

The fact that it’s set in Cuba automatically gives off an enchanting vibe. It makes you want to pack up your bags and travel off into the night like a free-spirited traveler in hopes of meeting a charming traveler like Park Bo Gum.

Also something to note is the set differences between the first few scenes with Song Hye Kyo and Park Bo Gum. They are strikingly different but perfect in terms of setting up the plot as well as the meeting between the two characters. You can really feel just how different their worlds are.

Song Hye Kyo’s world:

Park Bo Gum’s world:

Storyline

As the daughter of a politician, Cha Soo Hyeon (Song Hye Kyo) has grown up most of her life being told what to do. She is forced into a marriage with a man she doesn’t love, gets divorced, and ends up traveling to Havana, Cuba to help build a hotel. But on her first day there, she gets into an accident and this is where she has her first encounter with the free-spirited Kim Jin Hyeok (Park Bo Gum). The two meet again when Jin Hyeok comes in to save Soo Hyeon after she takes a sleeping pill while watching the sunset and almost falling off the ledge. The two end up having a beer with each other, which leads them to hanging out for most of the night.

We don’t know why Jin Hyeok is in Cuba until the end of the first episode when we find out that he’s a part-timer who saved up all his money to travel to Cuba. It’s a revelation that is somewhat surprising to find out. On top of this, we discover that he got a job at one of the hotels that Soo Hyeon owns, which means the two must now barrel through their awkward relationship while having a boss-employee relationship. Drama! We love it!

I love that the story involves a poor main male lead and a CEO female lead. It’s a little twist on the typical K-drama trope that we’re used to seeing with usually the male leads being rich. Plus it’s adorable seeing Park Bo Gum’s character charm the ice cold Soo Hyeon.

See? She’s already charmed.

So far the storyline is giving us all the feels and excitement around the two main leads. Whatever apprehension or doubts we had about the casting and story has dissipated as it’s definitely exceeded and gone beyond expectations so far. I’m excited to see where this story goes.

Cast and characters

When we all heard that Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo were going to be starring in a K-drama together, I know Song Joong Ki came to mind. We were all probably thinking it’d be kind of weird to see one of your close friends lock lips on the small screen with your wife. We know that Song Joong Ki was totally cool with it though because Park Bo Gum is a saint and he can do no wrong.

In “Encounter,” we’re introduced to Cha Soo Hyeon first. She’s stoic, cold, and seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. It’s clear that she hates her job and even going to Cuba doesn’t seem to appeal to her whatsoever. She seems very alone and her loneliness can totally be felt through the screen.

Then we are introduced to Kim Jin Hyeok and he pretty much lights up every shot in every scene.

I mean:

…seriously.

It’s like he’s shooting a CF in every scene:

The initial vibes we get from Jin Hyeok is different from that of Soo Hyeon. He’s always smiling, free-spirited, and has an innocence that is seriously appealing. In terms of the role of Jin Hyeok, it was pretty much meant for Park Bo Gum. It’s hard to picture anyone else playing this role. The brightness and warm-hearted spirit that naturally exudes in Park Bo Gum is present in his character. He hardly needs to act. His character is infectious and his character alone is a reason to watch this series.

Surprisingly, despite Jin Hyeok and Soo Hyeon being totally opposite in character, seeing the two meet and start to fall in love wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Yes, there is the age gap, plus the fact that she’s married in real life to the leading man’s good friend. But putting these points aside, they have good chemistry and after the first episode, you almost forget about Song Joong Ki.

Having had no background information about the two characters prior to watching the first two episodes, I have to admit that I took a liking to both of them. Especially when they first meet each other. The storyline does a perfect job of merging the two character’s worlds, and it sets viewers up for a lot of anticipation for future episodes as well as those romantic butterflies that we could totally feel after the first two episodes.

Final thoughts

So far, I’m loving the pace of this romance. There really isn’t much dialogue or background music needed to up the romance when it comes to this drama. Every single word and sentence that is spoken between the two carry so much weight and importance. The little things like the close-ups of their hands and feet showing their nervousness and anticipation makes you feel the butterflies that they’re feeling. This is much owed to the director and the drama’s production value!

Although the second episode is quite different from the first (as the setting switches to Seoul), you still get the same butterflies between the two characters. It’s a story of star-crossed lovers that we hope will succeed.

Plus it’s exciting to think about the transformation that Song Hye Kyo’s character will go through because of Park Bo Gum. Her ice cold walls are going to come crashing down soon enough, and we’re here for it. It’s the perfect K-drama for the upcoming holiday season, so be prepared to go on a ride of emotions. I’m already looking forward to it!

Start watching “Encounter” below:

Watch Now

Hey Soompiers, what did you think of the premiere of “Encounter”? Let us know in the comments below!

binahearts is a Soompi writer whose ultimate biases are Song Joong Ki and BIGBANG. She can often be seen singing her heart out at karaoke, walking her dog, or indulging in desserts. Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!

Currently watching: The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” “Clean With Passion For Now,” and “Encounter
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life,” “Star In My Heart
Looking forward to: Won Bin‘s return to the small screen and Song Joong Ki‘s next drama

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