Castaway Diva

Castaway Diva

An unusually earnest K-drama that’s endearing as well as uplifting as its protagonist

7.8

TV Show

South Korea
Korean
Comedy, Drama
2023
OH CHOONG-HWAN
Cha Hak-yeon, Chae Jong-hyeop, Kim Hyo-jin

TLDR

Yo, I thought this was going to be funny, but then it got SERIOUS with its backstory. It’s still funny, but whoa, that was such a surprise.

What it's about

Dreaming of becoming an idol, Seo Mok-ha creates a video for a singing competition, with the help of Jeong Gi-ho. After winning, she goes to Seoul to take an audition, but her dream gets delayed after getting stranded on an uninhabited island for 15 years.

The take

After a whole pandemic, rising inflation, and a whole climate crisis the world hasn’t yet resolved, it can be hard to feel hope towards a new day. However, the third collaboration between director Oh Choong-hwan and screenwriter Park Hye-ryun feels like a reminder to keep hope despite life’s circumstances. Castaway Diva has the classic manic pixie dream girl, but you have to admit that Seo Mok-ha’s optimism and survival instincts despite serious life circumstances makes it easy for her to root for. The way she appreciates what modern life has to offer makes it easy to appreciate how much good came up even just within 15 years. And with an unexpected mix of ecology and abuse themes, it stands out from other dramas, even when it gets instantly and unexpectedly serious.

What stands out

With a strange premise, Castaway Diva seemed to be the kind of K-drama that would lean more on its comedy. However, it starts the season off with the most gut-wrenching, tragic backstory for its quirky protagonist. Seo Mok-ha wants to reach that rare dream of becoming a star, but her dream primarily comes only because she’s treated like trash by the dad who should care for her. But this backstory doesn’t come out of nowhere– it’s actually really fitting for the entire story. People discard fairly usable products like trash, but in Seo’s perspective, it’s the items considered as trash that actually allows her to survive. And in the same way abuse survivors would have to adapt to normal kindnesses, Seo would have to reorient herself back to society, after 15 years alone on an island. It’s an intriguing, but well thought-out mix of themes that make Castaway Diva stand out among Korea’s vast selection of shows.

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