This article contains spoilers of the show. 2/5 stars K-dramas come in many shapes and sizes these days, but inexorable romances between determined young women and perfect young men are still the bread and butter of the industry. It’s a tried and true formula that has dominated Korean airwaves for decades – but it’s a very rigid one. Some modern shows combine it with big genre elements to create something new, like the mafia and legal trimmings that dress up a burgeoning romance at the heart of Vincenzo , but for the more straightforward romance tales, the devil is in the details. Throughout its run, She Would Never Know has made no pretence of being anything other than a familiar Korean romance. There’s no action here, no evil corporation and no secret makjang twists to spice up the narrative. It has concentrated on its core romance and a few other relationships orbiting around the leads. The show has put all its eggs into one basket, relying on the Korean TV romance’s status as comfort food for millions of viewers around the world. But the simpler stories are often the harder ones to pull off, and within the dog-eared pages of Korean romance tales, few things are more important than chemistry. She Would Never Know midseason recap: flimsy K-drama with troubling themes Rowoon plays Hyun-seung, the genteel, puppy-love-struck male lead, to a tee, while Won Jin-a, as Song-a, ably embodies a capable young career woman, but among its many flaws, She Would Never Know ’s most crippling problem has been the lack of chemistry between these two leads. Granted, romantic chemistry is in the eye of the beholder, but beyond the sparks that may or may not have flown between Hyun-seung and Song-a, the trajectory of their relationship has been infuriating. She briefly resisted his aggressive courting , but their pairing was sealed fairly early on, with the secondary love interest of Lee Jae-shin (Lee Hyun-wook), Song-a’s secret office lover, evaporating long before we could have felt one way or another about it. Their romance was kept a secret from others – or so they thought, as their colleagues appear to have been in the know all along – and eventually a new obstacle presented itself. Song-a turned down an opportunity to go to Europe, to Hyun-sung’s leaping joy, but the opportunity presented itself again later on. This time she took it, even though she knew it would keep her away from Hyun-seung for five years. They make a go of it as a long-distance couple, but busy Song-a keeps having to cancel trips, and after almost two years apart Hyun-seung comes to her, and is stood up again as he waits all day in a restaurant. They finally see each other again in her flat later that day, and she breaks up with him. Long-distance relationships are hard work and their rupture is hardly a surprise. Hyun-seung’s unflappable devotion and Song-a’s resistance to it are traits we’ve noticed in them throughout the series, but Song-a’s chosen moment to pull the plug comes off as casually cruel. Six new Korean dramas to look out for in March 2021 What’s more, it is all for naught. Scarcely a year passes and Song-a returns home early anyway, and of course winds up working at exactly the same desk as before, three years after she left it. Her career doesn’t appear to have advanced in the interim, nor for that matter has anyone else’s. In fact, even Hyun-seung’s eight-year-old niece Ha-eun (Park So-yi) hasn’t aged in that time. Song-a and Hyun-seung dance on eggshells for a few scenes and soon they’re back together again, and of course live happily ever after, a life of awkward embraces lying ahead of them. Hyun-seung’s ageless niece plays her part in one of the show’s few potentially redeeming elements. Her parents are faced with the prospect of divorce when her mother, Yeon-seung (Ha Yoon-kyung), discovers that her husband, Woo-hyun (Lee Dong-ha), may be a closet homosexual. Shoehorned though it very much is, it’s always refreshing to see queer themes find their way into K-dramas, although unlike the one that slipped into Run On recently, there is a disingenuous quality to the story here. Yeon-seung and others around her are exceedingly supportive of Woo-hyun’s search for his ‘true self’, yet the series doesn’t give any form to Woo-hyun’s desire. He is theoretically gay but we never see any manifestation of his sexual orientation, not so much as a glance at another man, let alone something as daring as a kiss. If anything encapsulates the ethos of this series, it might have to be the McDonalds product placements that dominated the last few episodes. After scoring a coup at work, Hyun-seung offers to buy nice coffee for his team. Their choice? McCafé. Later Hyun-seung and Song-a go on a date and pick up drive-through McCafé, with Song-a singing the praises of its aroma, coffee cup logo turned to the camera. Product placements are a necessity for the survival of these shows, but the inorganic way in which She Would Never Know incorporates them seems to mirror the show’s reverence of corporate culture, its clumsy central romance, and the hollowness of its themes. She Would Never Know is streaming on iQIYI.