The massive and greatly deserved success of My Sassy Girl has had an enormous impact on the state of Korean film and television. Not only did Sassy Girl make a massive star of Jeon Ji Hyun but it also spawned a continuing deluge of imitators hoping to cash in on Sassy Girl's success. Korean television series Rooftop Room Cat fits that bill on two fronts. First, like My Sassy Girl and a handful of other recent Korean rom-coms, Rooftop Room Cat is based on a popular internet novel. Second, the television series seems to borrow key elements of its lead characters from the previous film: the same will-they-or-won't-they elements play out between the well meaning but spaced out male lead and the quirky, yet often very aggressive, female. Unfortunately the tv series does nothing quite as well as the earlier film and, though a pleasant enough viewing for fans of the genre, ultimately proves pretty forgettable. If I have to choose between Sassy Girl and Sassy Girl-lite, I'll take Sassy Girl every time, thank you very much.
Rooftop Room Cat tells the story of Kyung-Min (Kim Rae-won), a young man drifting through his college life dreaming of girls. Well, one girl really, and one that he can't have. Things change when he meets Jeong-Eun (Jung Da-bin), a young woman with big dreams from a poor family that can't afford to send her to college, sleeping in his college library. When Jeong-Eun's family moves out of Seoul she opts to stay behind to chase her own dreams and ends up sharing a small rooftop apartment with Kyung-Min. Though both are involved with other people it is perfectly evident that their real interest is in each other and the show plays off of that supressed emotion from there on out.
Though I didn't find the comedy particularly sharp the two leads are engaging enough and the show does deserve credit for braving the heat that came from basing a sit-com around a pair of young people living together without being married, which is evidently still a hot topic in that part of the world.
Picture quality is a good news / bad news scenario on this set. The good news is that the transfer is excellent. It's crisp and clean, presented in the original full frame ratio. YesAsia has done an excellent job presenting the show as it originally looked. The bad news is that the show appears to have been shot on a mid-grade DV camera in dominantly natural light but a fairly dull director so what YesAsia has so well preserved ends up looking like a well shot home video rather than a profesionally produced television show.
The original Korean language audio tracks are presented here and, like the video, they are crisp and clean. Nothing spectacular, but there's nothing in the show itself that really requires an expansive sound mix.
There aren't any to speak of. Other than the episodes themselves the DVDs include only character introductions and episode synopses. It's a fairly straightforward show that doesn't require a whole lot of digging but it would have been nice to hear from the original author about the adaptation or to have interviews with the lead actors, both of whom have played the success of the show into some feature film work.
Though it's certainly not a bad show Rooftop Room Cat is also a good ways from the top of this particular genre pile and, for that reason alone, I would say this is not the best place for a newcomer to Korean film to begin. The aforementioned My Sassy Girl should be your point of entry to this sort of thing, possibly followed by My Tutor Friend. Die hard Korean romantic comedy fans may find it worth taking a gamble on, but if you want to take a look I would absolutely recommend renting the first disc before dropping the rather hefty price of a purchase.