13 Times “Radiant” Made Us Cry Or Laugh Out Loud
If you’ve been a fan of K-dramas for a while now, you’ve probably noticed how most, if not all of them are about young love or the stories of individuals in their prime. Grandmas and grandpas often portray the respected head of the family or the revered figure of a chaebol’s company. Plots rarely revolve around the life of a senior citizen, let alone their daily struggles and musings about getting old in this fast-paced world. “Radiant” changes all that as it talks about the joys and regrets of aging.
The plot centers on Kim Hye Ja (played by Han Ji Min), a happy-go-lucky and cheerful 25-year-old woman who wakes up 50 years older (played by veteran actress Kim Hye Ja) because of a mysterious watch. This drama will take you on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, touch your heart, and make you realize how precious life is. Here are some moments that will give you all the feels:
Warning: minor spoilers ahead.
Laugh: When we saw Hye Ja’s happy home
We are introduced to the Kim family, whose household may be small and simple, but they all have unique personalities that brighten up their home. Hye Ja is the bubbly yet clumsy daughter, Yeong Soo (Son Ho Jun) is the lazy, jobless brother who always gets smacked by their feisty, no-nonsense mother, and their father is quiet yet kindhearted.
Cry: When her family reacts to her sudden change
When Hye Ja turns into an old woman, the dynamics in her family totally change. Her parents are saddened by their daughter’s situation as they feel her pain and suffering for skipping decades into her life without having fully enjoyed her youth. They also feel helpless, without a clue as to how they can continue living on as if nothing happened. It’s especially heartbreaking to see Hye Ja’s mom hide her tears whenever she sees her daughter feeling the aches and pains of an aging person while trying hard to cheer up her family.
Laugh: The beginning of love
Right before her transformation, Hye Ja meets Lee Joon Ha (Nam Joo Hyuk), a handsome, promising colleague who dreams of becoming a reporter. She instantly falls for him despite their rocky introduction, and soon after finding out that they live in the same neighborhood, both meet to talk and go for drinks. Hye Ja gets all weird when she is drunk, making Joon Ha suffer while bringing her home. That incident is full of mishaps and fun moments, and it becomes an unforgettable night for the two.
Laugh: The funny and annoying brother’s VJ antics
Yeong Soo is obsessed with being a VJ in his own channel. Jobless and with nothing else to do at home all day, he makes up crazy, senseless “challenges” to show his viewers (he actually has only eight), hoping to receive stars that are convertible to money.
The “eat crunchy food without waking up a sleeping granny” challenge
Gulping down a freshly cooked, piping hot ramyun in record time
The 48-hour continuous sleeping challenge
Dancing on the street in front of people without getting embarrassed (he gets high-kicked in the end)
Laugh and cry: The close brother-sister moments
They may fight like cats and dogs, but the Kim siblings are always there for each other. What’s touching about their relationship is that nothing seems to change despite Hye Ja’s appearance. Yeong Soo still pushes her around and threatens to tell on her to their mom if she doesn’t do what he wants. Perhaps it’s Yeong Soo’s way of trying to help his sister to live on and not dwell on her dilemma, or maybe he’s just simply foolish. However, after he watches Hye Ja on video revealing how she feels lonely and sad about getting old, he cries a river for his pitiful sister.
Laugh: Seeing Hye Ja as a sassy and cute grandma
Hye Ja sometimes forgets her “new” age and still dresses, acts, and talks like a 25-year-old. She stays true to her straightforward, courageous personality and she’s always ready to defend herself and her friends.
There is one scene where Hye Ja and her friend Lady Chanel go to a plastic surgery clinic to get consultations. When a couple makes fun of them and takes their photo, Hye Ja immediately goes up to confront them, saying that old people may look all wrinkly but their desire to look their best is still the same as everyone else’s. She goes on to point out what the other guy needs to get surgically done (“You need double eyelid surgery, and your nose is so flat it looks like it was punched every day!”) — just to make a point about how people shouldn’t feel entitled to comment on another person’s looks!
Laugh: Childhood friends forever
Hye Ja grew up and spent most of her time with her two friends, Hyun Joo (Kim Ga Eun) and Sang Eun (Song Sang Eun). It’s great to see them remain close and promise to continue their friendship even after the other two find out about her odd situation.
Cry: When Hye Ja feels the realities of aging
Even though they try to hang out like before, Hye Ja just cannot keep up with walking, shopping, drinking, and other fun things women like her friends do. She often gets tired, out of breath and her joints ache after a long day. But what’s even sadder is that she just can’t relate with her friends’ issues anymore, making her feel left out and lonely even in their company.
Onlookers view their relationship as weird and disrespectful because the two young ladies speak to a grandma in a casual, informal way
Laugh: Hye Ja’s fun senior friends
As Hye Ja adjusts to her new life, she is able to form real friendships with the senior citizens at the recreational center. She becomes particularly close with a grandmother known as Lady Chanel, who has no family to look after her and finds comfort in Hye Ja’s kindness. The rest of the grannies also have fun, peculiar personalities.
Laugh: The grandpa that has a crush
One grandpa is smitten by Hye Ja and follows her around. Even when she continuously rejects him flat-out, he’s still persistent as he tries to chase after her and attempt to win her heart in hilarious ways.
Laugh: First date and a second chance
When Hye Ja gets a chance to become young again for a day, she excitedly goes on a date with Joon Ha. Finally, they are able to pick up where they left off and both of them confess their feelings for each other in a sweet, beautiful way.
Cry: What could have been
Joon Ha often reminisces about his time with Hye Ja and wonders if his life would be better if she’s still around. Will they be able to return to happier days?
Laugh: Love-hate couple
Hyun Joo and Yeong Soo actually were once childhood sweethearts. He was her first love while he’s oblivious to her feelings. The more she shows how she hates him, the more she confirms that she still loves him despite his “loser status.” He, on the other hand, has yet to realize that she may be more than his little sister’s friend.
Hey Soompiers! What’s your favorite moment from “Radiant”? Let us know in the comments below!
Catch the latest episodes of “Radiant” here:
DianneP_Kim is an English magazine and online editor and stylist based in South Korea. Follow her adventures in Korea on instagram.com/dianne_panda.