Han So-hee ( My Name ) and Park Hyung-sik of the K-pop boy band ZE:A play lifelong friends navigating a tricky way out of the friendzone in the new Disney+ limited series Soundtrack #1 . Bright, glossy and full of quiet longing, the show approaches romance from the perspective of artists, as the lack of – or repression of – love in their lives thwarts their creative processes. Lee Eunsoo (Han) is a lyricist struggling to find the right words for a song about unrequited love, while photographer Han Sunwoo (Park) has become disillusioned with his work. Eunsoo comes to rely on Sunwoo, hoping that his first-hand experience of unfulfilled romance will rub off on her. Eunsoo is an effervescent character who radiates confidence around Sunwoo, her best friend of 19 years. We first see her in a white blouse, luminous and popping out of a blinding white background as she looks straight into the camera. But it isn’t us she’s looking at, as the camera in question is actually Sunwoo’s; she has dropped into his studio to get some free ID portraits. Bubbly and carefree, she cheekily marvels at her own good looks over his shoulder as he edits. In her professional life, however, Eunsoo projects a very different image. 8 new Korean drama series to look out for in March 2022 In the next scene, she sits with hunched shoulders, her eyes darting around the office of a successful composer. When the composer waltzes in late to their meeting after a recording, she jumps to her feet, flustered, shy and frozen to the spot. After being asked to take a seat, she is utterly crestfallen to hear him say that while her work is good he finds it lightweight and lacking in real feeling. He wonders if she has ever experienced the kind of emotion that the song describes. She begs him for a second chance and leaves with a promise to revise the lyrics within a fortnight. Eunsoo’s first line of defence is to retreat to her and Sunwoo’s favourite late-night haunt – a rustic restaurant run by a friendly couple that serves hearty comfort food – and get hammered on rice wine, which we soon learn is a frequent habit of hers. After Sunwoo arrives to console her, she gets the bright idea of asking Sunwoo to move in with her for two weeks to help her with her song. She does this after hearing Sunwoo talk about his secret love for the clearly fictional “Jennifer”, who he supposedly met during a sojourn in America. From the show’s second shot, with Sunwoo behind the camera taking Eunsoo’s portrait, it’s crystal clear to us that the person he is really smitten with is her, and judging by his behaviour and his artistic output, it’s no mere crush. Eunsoo comments on the sombre nature of his pictures, which feature lonely puppies and trees juxtaposed against stark backgrounds. Like many romantic figures in Korean media, Sunwoo is an adherent of analogue photography. When Eunsoo asks him why he doesn’t go for digital photography, he explains that with a film camera you only get one chance to capture a moment. After spending a night in his workshop staring longingly at the portraits he snapped of Eunsoo that day, Sunwoo arrives at her sunny flat with his suitcase the next morning. It’s unclear how a fledgling young wannabe lyricist can live in such a gorgeous and spacious flat in the heart of Seoul, but then again this will be the main location for the rest of a story. Anything more humble might have undermined what is sure to become a burgeoning romance. This four-part melodrama is a brief interlude between bigger projects for its stars, but especially for its director Kim Hee-won, responsible for last year’s Vincenzo and now working on the highly anticipated drama Little Women . Sticking to conventional romantic tropes and a simple and familiar story, Soundtrack #1 relies on its star power and draws us in with the soft and hazy glow of a charming city neighbourhood populated with attractive yet frustrated artists. With its clear set-up and end goal, not to mention short episodes, there isn’t much wiggle room for the show to try anything new. But, given how longer and more ambitious shows so often lose their thread, there’s something to be said for meeting modest expectations. Park recently played a man nursing a decades-long crush in the surprisingly endearing zombie drama Happiness , but the object of his affection there, a spunky Han Hyo-joo, seemed more worthy of it than here. So far, Eunsoo’s cockiness – bluster that masks her insecurities – and her lack of any real hardship are making it a little hard to root for this particular pairing to come off. A longer show might have the luxury of showing us why we should care about these characters. Soundtrack #1 will have its work cut out to win us over before without running out of time. Soundtrack #1 is streaming on Disney+.