Castaway Diva: Castaway Diva
December 6, 2023 6:52 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Fifteen years after being stranded on a remote island, an aspiring singer reenters society — stopping at nothing to pursue her dream of becoming a diva.

Dramabeans show page

MyDramaList show page

Rotten Tomatoes page

NME ‘Castaway Diva’ review: ‘Survivor’ meets ‘Idol’ in this flawed yet likeable K-drama -- "Take a pinch of A Star Is Born, a dollop of Castaway, stir thoroughly with a generous dose of tragic-romantic melodrama, and you’ll get a confection resembling this Netflix K-drama. Castaway Diva begins with a prologue flashing back to 2007, where the teen version of Seo Mok-ha (Lee Re) is obsessed with K-pop star Yoon Ran-joo (Kim Hyo-jin). From entering radio contests to uploading a DIY music video, Mok-ha will stop at nothing to get the attention of her idol. Her desperate attempts draw the ire of pragmatic classmate Jeong Ki-ho (Moon Woo-jin), a hardworking boy who has no time for trivial pursuits because he’s too busy working odd jobs to support himself. While the pair initially clash due to their contrasting dispositions, we learn that they have more in common beyond the surface."

Dramabeans finale recap: "I loved the first half of this drama, but the second half was a mixed bag for me. I still loved a lot of the characters and relationships but found they sometimes got lost in too much plot. What made this drama work were the central characters and the emotional core. Whenever it focused there, I was invested. When it ventured too far into entertainment agency drama and side conflicts, my attention wandered. I did really appreciate Ran-joo, though, who added a lot to the plot and was incorporated well. It’s always nice to see supportive female friendships, even (or maybe especially) when they’re imperfect. Ran-joo and Mok-ha both had maturing and growing to do, and I enjoyed watching them find their way. I think if the drama had narrowed its focus and stayed centered, Castaway Diva could’ve been so much stronger. The drama had a lot going for it – the relationships and characters’ journeys were emotionally resonant, the wins felt earned, and there were some delightful moments along the way. All in all, I’m glad I went on this journey, imperfect as it was, and got to spend time with our characters as they fought for a better life."
posted by oh yeah! (5 comments total)
This drama trod familiar ground (love triangle, evil CEO, amnesia), yet managed to make everything feel fresh and engaging. The two female leads in this are both so excellent and had amazing chemistry. You know a K-drama is good when you dread finishing the last episode and having no more to watch.
posted by jabah at 9:25 PM on December 6, 2023

In some ways, the show peaked emotionally for me with the end of episode 2 with Mok-ha's singing for Ran-joo and their hug backstage, I watched it multiple times in the wait for the next weekend's episodes. So I agree with the Dramabeans recapper that it got kinda wobbly somewhere in the second half. But, overall I was happy with the series. The young Mok-ha & Ki-ho actors were terrific (and such a good resemblance to Park Eun Bin for young Mok-ha), the abusive fathers were terrifying, and the Mok-ha+Ran-joo team-up was great. I think I could have done without the love triangle aspect of Mok-ha's relationship with the brothers (I think I was more invested in kid Ki-ho than in either of the grown-up brothers), but I think the show knew that was the least compelling part of the plot too.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:39 PM on December 7, 2023

I also found the second half to be much weaker than the first half but it was enjoyable overall. I wish we'd seen more of Mok-ha's re-integration into society b/c I like that sort of thing. Impressed by Park Eun Bin's singing! I only knew her from her Attorney Woo role so I wasn't aware of her other talents. Agree that child Ki-ho was more compelling than the older brothers!

[SPOILERS] I did think some things were overly manipulative, like the reason Ran-joo's mother kept calling herself "Ran-joo" and the message that was on the dropped cake (which made me laugh out loud b/c I'm terrible).
posted by paperback version at 5:26 PM on December 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this--and was really impressed by Park Eun Bin's singing as well!--but adult Ki-Ho's hair was a tragic distraction. The subplot I cared least about was Mo-Rae. That felt like they couldn't decide what they wanted to do with the character, and to me she didn't need as much screentime for what she did.
posted by TwoStride at 12:45 PM on December 9, 2023

This was my third Park Eun-bin series and I absolutely adore her. Seeing her cry always sets me off into tears as well. I loved the relationship Mok-Ha had with Ran-Joo and was so glad they never had them become rivals.

I also enjoyed how loyal the two brothers and their parents were to each other. For me the weakest sub-plot was Ran-joo's mother.

The child actors were really fantastic and I kid Ki-ho was definitely shining brighter than his adult counterpart, but adult Ki-ho did eventually grow on me. I also really liked the older brother Woo Hak though I could have done without the love triangle angle entirely.

A petty part of me wished that their birth father lived just long enough to see that his final plot failed entirely.
posted by Julnyes at 2:39 PM on January 2

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