6 Reasons You Don’t Want To Miss “Forest,” Starring Park Hae Jin And Jo Bo Ah

If you’re a city dweller who has ever had mini “Enchanted Forest” daydreams, or you’re really just having a case of permanent wanderlust, “Forest” is just the fix you need to tide you over ’til your next getaway. Aesthetically pleasing doesn’t even begin to describe the visual wonder that the drama is with its ability to instantly teleport you to a mysterious forest that sets the stage for a slow-burning romance between a corporate go-getter and a hospital surgeon. Here are reasons why you should be adding “Forest” to your watch list!

Warning: minor spoilers for the drama below.

1. The “Enchanted Forest” of your childhood dreams

Sure, this isn’t the first drama that is set in the natural environs, but “Forest” sure does take the cake for its stunning camera work that truly brings the drama’s Miryeong Forest to life. The way the light plays off the dense canopies is enchanting and brings a mystical element to the forest that subtly deepens the mystery behind the forces that connect the characters’ past together.

2. Music to your ears

And “Forest” doesn’t stop there. The drama also serves up some serious zen woodland ambience with the smart incorporation of sounds you can hear in the landscape. It’s almost like one of those forest experience centers you find peppered around the Korean countryside, except, it’s right on your screen! It is also a clever hint at tying Kang San Hyeok’s (Park Hae Jin) fragmented memories with his current environment as the capitalist-turned-rescue worker finds that he is somehow able to identify the sounds in the forest (surely, it can’t be because you have been to one before, eh?)

3. Hard work gets you somewhere

While a good Cinderella-esque chaebol (Korean for family-based conglomerates) romance is always dreamy, there’s just something about working-class lead characters clawing their way to success with their drive and steely determination that never fails to get me fist-pumping in pure vicarious triumph. Which is exactly what “Forest” delivered on. Behind San Hyeok’s polished exterior while making multi-million dollar deals, it is clear that he got to where he was through cold calculation and grit. Our female protagonist Jung Young Jae (Jo Bo Ah) also embodies that spirit, rising through the ranks of the hospital to become a respected surgeon of her own right.

4. Know your own worth

The plot may have revolved around the characters’ entanglements with the forest, but I also love how “Forest” weaved in the message of valuing yourself and not settling for anything less throughout the drama.

Upon finding out that Young Jae had gotten fired, her dad’s first reaction was that the hospital must not be a good one for losing the gem of a surgeon that she is. That positive affirmation was just the balm of comfort that Young Jae needed, especially when she was wrapped up in self-doubt. Being critical of yourself is natural, but I wish that more people will come to appreciate themselves and their achievements, much like how Young Jae’s dad did!

5. Not shying away from mental health

It is alluded to in the drama that due to their traumatic pasts, both characters have issues with their mental health, and “Forest” is bold in how upfront they bring up the topic. Right from the get-go, we see Young Jae having to take pills for what we later understand to be a longstanding panic disorder, while San Hyeok experiences a crippling phantom pain that makes him feel like his arm is burning.

What I thought the drama did well in was addressing the challenges that these mental health issues pose when they manifest in the workplace where employees are expected to present an impeccable veneer of themselves. I’m glad that “Forest” has shined a spotlight on the existing taboos behind discussing mental health in the workplace and the resulting pressures on employees as this is a very real issue that modern society is increasingly having to come to grips with.

Although both lead characters faced indirect setbacks in their careers due to this, it was heartening that Young Jae’s mentor, for one, never stopped believing in her abilities and skills as a physician. The mental health issues you might have do not diminish your capabilities, props to that messaging!

6. An understated romance

Given that “Forest” is, after all, a rom-com, it would be remiss to not touch on the romance aspect of the drama and how it unfolded in an understated and very much sublime manner.

If you’re expecting fireworks and a grand hoo-ha, you’ve got the wrong drama, because “Forest” doesn’t really default to the whole attraction leading to romance trope. Instead, what we have on our hands is more of a “I’m bored, let’s date” love story (I kid you not, those are the exact words of our calm and collected heroine), which spun off from San Hyeok’s flippant suggestion (when they were nothing more than platonic roommates, mind you!) that they get married since Young Jae is clearly interested in marriage.

It was an interesting dynamic, especially as we saw how the mutual attraction was built up overtime as they interacted more after. Which calls to mind how feelings and love don’t really have to be of the much-oft romanticized spontaneous variety. It can be a gentle undercurrent that sprouts and flowers with time and patience too.

Hey Soompiers, have you watched “Forest” yet? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below!

Aetcult is your friendly K-beauty enthusiast who loves her tea on and off her face (no lie). In between bouts of tinkering with new beauty products, she will probably be writing about her finds, revising her Korean language coursework and jamming to the latest K-pop song. Say hi to Am on Tumblr.

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