Chicago Typewriter: K-Drama Review

시카고 타자기 | Sikago Tajagi | Chicago Typewriter

Release Date: April 7th, 2017 – June 3rd, 2017

Network: tvN

Writer: Jin Soo-Wan

Director: Kim Cheol-Kyu

Episodes: 16

Length: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Love, freedom, and Carpe Diem.

Chicago Typewriter is a 2017 that stars Yoo Ah-In, Lim Soo-Jung, and Ko Gyung-Pyo. This is a historical/romance drama that I urge everyone to watch. I’ve been making a point to do k-drama reviews as spoiler-free as possible, so this will only talk about the drama as a synopsis would—enough to get an idea of what the story is about, but not too much to give it all away.

Han Se-Joo (Yoo Ah-In) is a renowned novelist who’s fame rivals even top idols. Jeon Seol (Lim Soo-Jung) is his number one fan and the queen of part-time jobs. These two are brought together by the most unlikely of guests—Yoo Jin-O (Ko Gyung-Pyo), a ghost from 20th century Joseon. To keep a past promise to his dear friend in exchange for curing Se-Joo’s writer’s block, Jin-O pleads to become a ghost writer for the best-selling author only until the book is finished. Jeon Seol also seems to share a fate with Se-Joo as they keep meeting each other in situations that can’t simply be thought of as coincidence.

This historical drama cannot be missed. It’s simply a work of art and I can’t stress enough how much of a joy it was to watch this drama. I will say I do have a bias for historical fiction dramas, so maybe that iced the cake, but even still, it’s incredible. This drama delves into 1930s Joseon that is occupied by the Japanese. Korean literature, artifacts, and pride were suppressed at this time and this drama does great at capturing the struggles of Korean citizens in this era. As someone taught in American schools, I didn’t get to learn much about other cultures until growing up, going to college, and finding media and posts from the Internet, so watching this gave me an opportunity to take a look at where other nations were at during the 1900s. Being someone also interested in activism and the importance of literature and how it relates to the marginalized’s freedom, history, and sense of identity, it was a drama that’s made me cry more than once.

The romance displayed in the historical past segments was believable. One thing that’s always been a pet peeve of mine is how love is depicted in past history during critical times. During times of war and where there are powers suppressing a society, love is also affected. One of the most powerful scenes of this drama makes a point that love during the 1930s in Korea was hard because they lacked freedom while in the 21st century love is hard because of pride. Someone like Yoo Jin-O is envious of Se-Joo because he can love as he wants without worry of what tomorrow brings for the country, for him, or for his loved ones. Especially for people like Jin-O, they (revealed in the drama) have to swallow their feelings and aren’t afforded something as simple as “I love you.”

Romance and history are equally shared. It’s easy for the romance genre to swallow up whatever other genre a show is when it comes to k-dramas, but I feel as though there was a healthy balance for both to shine. I wasn’t left wondering about what happened in

Yoo Jin-O on a typewriter with a portrait of the past behind him.

the past for too long and the present was also focused so that nothing was left forgotten there. I think it’s especially hard to do when writing which is why I appreciate it even more. Balance is the difference between having a story that’s almost and it.

Would I recommend this? Y’all already know the answer by now. But what y’all don’t know is that this drama was basically what pushed me to start writing again. I get really jealous when I watch stories about writers and because this one in particular was so poignant, it made me want to create something great too. Even though I’m not up to going back to my own fiction yet, I’ve still managed to write something at least once a week since watching. Whenever I see other POC going through parallel issues, even when solidarity comes with its own issues and anti-blackness, it provides a catharsis for me because it feels less lonely and provides me with more hope that if others can rise, so can us and so can I. That Joseon saw freedom and the love lasted through a past life filled me with a lot of good feelings. It may not be the same for you, but even still, I highly recommend watching Chicago Typewriter. It really put in perspective for me that even at tyranny’s worst, freedom and love is still possible.


  1. After the drama, I’ve been looking forward to seeing what else these actors are in. I watched “Sorry, I Love You” right after and I’m really glad to see that Lim Soo-Jung got such a powerful role.


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