One of the most cutthroat industries in the world is the publishing industry. It’s a sea of nameless faces chasing after trends, names, and connections. It’s an industry that’s easy to drown in.
I know. I’ve been inside it for over eight years, and even after penning twenty-three complete-length novels in those eight years, I’ve only hit a bestselling list once. For a fleeting period. And then it was gone.
And yet, I still swim, my eyes on the surface above me, oxygen bubbles rising, reminding me that it’s getting harder and harder to breathe.
Breathing is underrated.
For me, words are oxygen. Without words and a place to put them, I feel more desperate than I would if I was actually drowning.
The new Korean BL Happy Ending Romance starring Leo (Kim Jung Hyun), Ha Jong Woo (Han Tae Young), and Karam (Cha Jung Woo) beautifully captures the dark side of the publishing industry as well as why writing for an author is impossible to walk away from. Words are blood we bleed on paper.
The first two episodes leave more questions than answers. Most notably, how each man is connected to the other, especially Jung Hyun (Leo) and Jung Woo (Karam). Are they more than lovers? Is Jung Woo the writer behind some of Jung Hyun’s Work? Has Jung Woo really sworn off writing the last three years? What secret is Jung Hyun protecting?
The romance inside Happy Ending Romance gets lost in the story, which is a compelling reason to keep watching. As viewers, we are so used to seeing instantaneous connections, fateful first meets, and chemistry-filled touches that we forget real life is about the story first. Romance happens inside a story.
Happy Ending Romance begins with a story full of mystery, secrets, lies, and deceptions. Somewhere within this story, there’s love wrapped like a gift under the layers.
There isn’t a character in Happy Ending Romance that I don’t relate to. Having spent my life working towards a writing career before finally entering that world, I’ve learned that the world of words readers enjoy getting lost inside is a maze of dead ends for the writers who live inside that world. We write because we all have stories to tell, but having a story to tell doesn’t guarantee it will ever be read.
For a writer, our words become our identity. Jung Woo wanting to write under his own name is relatable because words are an extremely personal thing.
That said, despite how much I relate to Jung Woo and how good Tae Young’s (Ha Jong Woo) smile makes me feel, it’s Kim Jung Hyun I’m drawn to the most. There’s a mysterious quality to the way he closes himself off and a depth to his eyes that yells, “See me.” And it has nothing to do with the so-called fame he already has. I get the sense that Jung Woo isn’t the only one who gave up his identity.
No matter what happens or where this story takes us, I am invested. We rarely see the dark side of publishing on television. If it is shown, it generally revolves around manuscript rejections or pressing deadlines rather than the elitism and corruption that inundates the industry. While there are cases where a rookie writer with no inside help manages to make it big, it generally takes money, resources, and connections to be considered. Most publishing companies won’t even glance at a manuscript unless the author has an agent to submit it for them. And most agents will only touch an author who is writing what they want the author to write. One wrong step or interaction with a person of interest in power can spell the end of one’s career.
Happy Ending Romance not only reveals the darker issues of the industry but also gives us three men trapped within its web. Two of them wear masks. Jung Woo and Jung Hyun aren’t entirely who they seem, and I am curious to discover the men beneath the facade. Pursuing a writing career often means losing a part of yourself in one way or another. Even as much as I pride myself on being as ‘me’ as I can be, the industry has often tried stealing that essence.
I am invested in discovering precisely who these men in Happy Ending Romance are, how the three of them will come together, and where the romance, especially the happy part, actually resides inside the story.
For a realistic story about three men fulfilling dreams inside a cutthroat publishing industry, check out Happy Ending Romance now on Gagaoolala and Viki.
Rating- 4.5 out of 5