Chicago Typewriter Finale Appreciation Post Part 1: Praises and Criticisms

Chicago Typewriter, starring Yoo Ah In, Im Soo Jung, and Go Kyung Pyo, just wrapped up the finale episode last Saturday, June 3rd, with a quite satisfying ending.

Despite not earning spectacular viewerships, which hovering between 2 to 3 percent [note: for cable network, 2% viewerships ratings is considered high, with the calculation of 1% ratings in pay tv/cable network is equal to 5% ratings in national public network], Chicago Typewriter ended with many positive notes, earned praises, and especially gained many international fans and passionate following.

There are also some fair criticisms to the show and the writer, and I found it interesting and understandable. So, in our Chicago Typewriter appreciation post part one, we’re gonna talk about the praise and criticism objectively. Here we go~

Dramabeans quoted as saying,

If I were to describe this finale in one word, it would be this: heavenly. All I wanted from this show’s last moments was to see a glimpse of Hwi-young, Yul, and Soo-hyun together again, so it warms my heart to see the friends live on within the written pages of their own story. The painful memories of Se-joo and Jeon-seol’s past lives taught them to see the greater picture of what it means to live and how precious life can be. I found the honesty they shared in their romantic relationship and their friendship with Jin-oh to be wonderfully refreshing, since there have been plenty of dramas where misunderstandings are left to fester and the viewers are left frustrated.

It’s that sense of hope that was so deeply rooted in the 1930s storyline that captured my heart. There’s no doubt that the Japanese Occupation era was a tumultuous and dark period in history, and yet there’s something powerful about a story that revolved around a group of young voices struggling against injustice and fighting for a day they may never live to see themselves. One of the beautiful things that Chicago Typewriter has done is to shed light on how freedom is an ideal that is hard-earned and that the current generation is privileged to enjoy. The painful memories of their past lives taught them to see the greater picture of what it means to live and how precious life can be.

On the production front, I truly loved how the direction enhanced the story that was told. Even when I felt a bit unsure about where this story would go, I held onto the notion that the writing knew where it wanted to take us. And boy, was the payoff worth the wait. Once the emotional ball got rolling, it hardly let us catch our breath. Nearly every word spoken felt important and wanted to teach us something about stories, relationships, or society as a whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if writer Jin Soo Wan wished to use this drama as a platform to explore the ongoing struggles and stressful demands on a writer, because what better chance is there to project those feelings than through an author as your hero?

While there have been tons of praises sung by international viewers on the actors, the writing, cinematography and directing, a lot are wondering why this drama fail to capture more local/Korean audience. If the ratings is all they care about, then the first to blame in Chicago Typewriter‘s viewerships is the marketing team that didn’t do their homework well. The synopsis that they advertised through the teasers has no correlation with the actual drama. The premise of a fangirl-turn-antifan and an idol-writer sounds cheesy and teenish. In actual fact, the story brought up the deeper topic than just that. Had they advertised this drama as what it was, it could have done better. The second is the flow of the story, and the changing in broadcast schedule.

Below is Koreans take on the flow of the story. We might not agree with their opinion completely, but they give us a different point of view on the drama.

News portal Oh My News (who praised writer Jin Soo Wan in the earlier episodes), wrote the pros and cons in Chicago Typewriter. It became the top trending article on Naver with more than 1,170 comments and 851 likes, which is quite rare for a drama with an average ratings.

According to Oh My News, the drama has an ambitious story, but the characters and story development in the first two episodes are slow. Especially in the first episode, there’s somewhat ambiguous character development, rather than trying to make the overall structure of the characters or the story feel intimate/familiar to the viewers from the get-go. If you don’t capture the live viewing audience with the first two episodes, you’ll lose half or more of your viewership.

Fortunately, after the first two episodes, the story gets better. The way one or two secrets are revealed one by one makes this drama special. The past and present life of the 1930s and 2017 cross path, the puzzles of the tragedy that they had to go through and their romantic puzzles are completed. Hence, this drama gradually grips its focus and gives a great immersion feeling.

The journalist elaborates the earlier issue in the process of feeling immersed in Chicago Typewriter by saying, “Because the story goes back and forth between the past and present among the characters, hence it doesn’t captivate enough viewers who might only pick one period of time story. In spite of that, the drama has a way of solving the previous questions through the connection between the past and present time. The way the story is told; some of the things in earlier episodes end up gaining poignancy after reveals in later episodes.”

The journalist also emphasized the heavy message thrown by Chicago Typewriter. The show is not a hit, but it is worth seeing. It’s not simply because of the structure of the story that goes back and forth between the past and the present, but because there is a clear message in it. Chicago Typewriter emphasizes the ties between the past and the present. The past depicts the bleak time of the Japanese occupation. There is a struggle for independence, a personal life (romance) that had to be abandoned for the independence, and there are grievances in a miserable situation amidst the independence fighters effort. However, even in this struggling past, the characters constantly want to live the moment (carpe diem). In addition to that, the drama doesn’t forget to show its gratitude to the past heroes. Although they eventually failed, their struggle looks beautiful. The past and the present time that encounter in a stormy fantasy are the biggest theme made by Chicago Typewriter.

He says that the original genre of Chicago Typewriter is not a painful history of the Japanese occupation, but a romance. The background of the Japanese colonial era to express the romance is somewhat blurred, but it throws a lot of messages and makes the blurriness not a simple one. Sometimes while watching a drama, we don’t want to find the meaning of the story other than having fun watching it, but this Show makes you think about the meaning once.

He says, “Chicago Typewriter is not a hit, but it is worth seeing. It has created a unique story in its own way without losing focus.”

Our Korean friend Passerby, shared criticism towards this drama from DC Chicago Typewriter that she noticed. (Note: at the moment we only posted her brief points. We will post her full assessment in the new post later). According to Passerby, there are 3 big complains from drama fans in DC Chicago Typewriter:

First, the PR team’s insincerity. Many people doubt their sincerity to promote the drama. Most of the time, they uploaded still cuts/photos that failed to focus on the main lead Yoo Ah In, despite the overwhelming popularity of characters Se Joo and Hwi Young. After the fans of the drama sent the protest, the PR team released a lot of Yoo Ah In’s stills at the last minute.

Second, the lack of passionate scenes between the main couple in the drama. The viewers wanted them to be fully committed to their feelings and hoped that the scene would be entirely theirs. But two most important scenes -Se Joo & Jeon Seol’s first hug and first kiss- were witnessed by ghost Yoo, making it seem as though their love was an affair that hurts the ghost. As a matter of fact, the ghost does not even have a stake in the triangle to begin with. Even in the past, Hwi Young and Soo Hyun loved each other while Yool was having an unrequited love. Because of this situation, fans of Se Joo-Jeon Seol Couple felt disappointed.

Third, the drama is originally Han Se Joo-centered. At first, the original plan of the story was a writer who lost the will of writing because he was hurt by the past betrayal, and he healed the wounds after hearing the story of love and friendship through the old typewriter. However, after the three of them became cohabitants, the story shifted to “who killed Jin Oh” and “will he be able to reincarnate”. Fans also complained that the love story of Se Joo and Jeon Seol could not show much progress in the presence of a ‘ghostly being’, and that the cohabitant scenes looked like a cliche sitcom of the elementary students.

Nevertheless, fans of the drama also think that the ending was executed well, the drama has meaningful attempt and content, and the critics gave positive reviews as well. Especially Yoo Ah In’s acting that became the highlight of all the audience/critics. Some headlines wrote, “Chicago Typewriter would have been impossible without Yoo Ah In”, and “Yoo Ah In is the alpha and omega of Chicago Typewriter”.

Although the modern storyline was a bit flawed, the 1930s part was delivered beautifully and so compelling. The details of the historical background is mind blowing as well (read here).

Despite its flaws, Chicago Typewriter is a drama that knows how to wring your tears almost at every episode. All in all, it’s a poignant story about hope, about forgiveness, about thankful for what you have, about making the most of the present time, about friendships that transcend times and spaces, and appreciating the freedom we currently live in, all set to the most perfect soundtrack you could imagine. (In addition to that, I felt relief that this drama didn’t follow the trend of the K-dramaland’s cliché love triangle, instead it presented a very mature love story).

Korean netizens especially praised Yoo Ah In as the actor who difuse life and charisma to the character of Seo Hwi Young. They also praised him for playing two totally different characters from two eras perfectly.

In particular, Yoo Ah In’s acting in Seo Hwi Young’s last moment in episode 15 is touted as the most memorable scene. It was the most retweeted gif too, with more than six thousand retweets:


Seo Hwi Young’s last moment clip was NO.1 Top Naver TV with more than 62,000 hits as of June 3rd. Also, a total of 7 clips of episode 15 made to TOP 15 in the same day:

Rank 1: Seo Hwi Young’s farewell clip
Rank 3: Seo Hwi Young’s suicide clip
Rank 5: Seo Hwi Young’s last appearance clip
Rank 6: Shin Yool’s succumb clip
Rank 8: Seo Hwi Young kiss reminisce clip
Rank 11: Seo Hwi Young crying clip
Rank 13: Seo Hwi Young and Shin Yool clip


Now, here are what K-netizens said about the drama, especially the ending~

Yeonhap News:

1. [+10,087, -1334] It’s disrespectful towards the writers and cast to call a drama with low ratings a failure. Knowing that the writers and cast put their heart and soul into their work means enough

2. [+8,191, -894] This drama is too good, not a failure just because of poor ratings. The image of those nameless youths who sacrificed their lives for our freedom will be etched in my memory. Thank you for making the country a better place for us and the future generations to live in

3. [+6,587, -770] I highly enjoyed this drama, it’s sad that people are judging it based on the ratings

4. [+5,405, -527] The network changing the airing time was hugely responsible for that. It broke the flow causing regular viewers not sticking through

5. [+2,347, -219] The cast has the slightest impact [on the failure]

6. [+704, -74] In the end, the writers and director are the bigger factor in a drama’s success more than cast

Oh My News:

1. [+3,836, -254] Please be happy in the liberated Joseon!

2. [+3,739, -210] Oh ~ I personally think it was a very good drama!!!

3. [+3,379, -140] “Here I am going to write our story~” It [the lyric] has been stuck in my ears for a while… [Note: the lyric was taken from the OST by SG Wannabe, “Writing Our Stories”]

4. [+2,297, -151] True.. The problem could lie on the mismatch between the director and the writer. The overall synopsis and story progress were not bad, although it emphasized the mystery with no detail explanation too early and it slowed down unnecessarily. The writer seems to want to speed up, but the director seems to be the one who hold her back. The real story was revealed starting from the middle, and it was interesting. I learned the writer’s intention, and the ending was good too. It’s a happy ending, and it’s about love and friendship

5. [+2,035, -120] The first four episodes in the drama is really important. If the beginning isn’t fun, people won’t return to watch the next ones

6. [+562, -69] Yoo Ah In did the acting really well. I will never forget him as the perfect Han Se Joo and Seo Hwi Young

7. [+471, -53] I’m feeling so empty now [after the drama is over] ㅜㅜ Yoo Ah In is really the best

8. [+432, -21] In the drama, Seo Hwi Young looks like a real independence activist who could be living in the Japanese occupation era for real. Haha. You can see the present through the past. It is a worthy drama that gives deep enlightenment


1. [+2,902, -61] Loved the ending, it will leave a lasting impression on me.. I’m grateful to everyone who fought for our independence. It’s all thanks to them that we are enjoying our freedom. Good work to the cast and crew. Chicago Typewriter will stay in my memory for a long time!

2. [+2,141, -52] A miracle created by independence fighters wishing for independence

3. [+1,996, -68] Thank you for this unforgettable drama

4. [+1,718, -141] Great ending!! Writer-nim, good job!!

5. [+470, -24] Yoo Ah In’s performance is phenomenal!

6. [+443, -26] If I were to be asked which actor I think is the most genuine, it’s definitely gonna be Yoo Ah In

7. [+418, -18] Yoo Ah In was indeed Han Se Joo/Seo Hwi Young

8. [+408, -19] Yoo Ah In’s a brilliant actor


Yay for the praise on Master Sik’s acting ^_^ Let’s pray for his successful military service and more future great projects for him!

Up Next: Chicago Typewriter Finale Appreciation Post Part 2 – Seo Hwi Young & Han Se Joo


Source: Dramabeans, kkuljaem, DC, weibo, Chicago Typewriter FB

24 Responses to “Chicago Typewriter Finale Appreciation Post Part 1: Praises and Criticisms”
  1. thank you, thank you, thank you for compiling this ❤ looking forward for next article. Here I'm still salty about how the plot of Chicago Typewriter described as fan-turn-to-anti-fan thing and that marketing team did on very first trailer. Ah…

    And I'm wondering how is him today~? But I'm sure if there is news, this community will provide us the update first, teehee. Hope he is healthier always 🙂

    • Furbabe says:

      You’re welcome, dear 🙂 Yeah, tvN needed a knock in the head :p

      Today Yoo Ah In posted another indie band song in his instagram, so I think he’s just enjoying his free time after all the hard work. We’ll surely provide the update as usual. Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  2. Hager says:

    Thank you for gathering this.
    So happy about the praise our Hong Sik is getting♥♥ it’s well deserved.
    I guess there’s something in this comment ”(Note: the lyric was taken from the OST by Shinhwa, “Writing Our Stories”). I think it’s SG Wannabe song not Shinwa, you must be in hurry.😀😀

  3. yosics says:

    I felt the same sentiment with Korean audiences. The present story was too lame and slow I lost interest at early episodes. The 1930s setting is much, much better though, and our Master Sik delivers his acting wonderfully as Seo Hwi Young the leader. Too bad since this show actually has the potential to be a hit 😦
    Thanks for the articles though. You guys are the best!

  4. Mari says:

    I didn’t know there was a conflict between the writer and the PD. Interesting. Actually I loved both present and past stories because they balanced each other, especially in the first half of episodes till around episode 11. Both present & past were equally interesting. I could see the focus shifted to the 1930s mystery after that, but I had no complaint because it was well-written. The only thing that I don’t like is that lame psycho girl. It ruined the flow. Writer made the present day like it didn’t have actual problem anymore, unlike the first half when it was a real woke. Anyways, still kudos to the excellent acting of all the cast, the property team, cinematography team, and the magically wig team!!

  5. Furbabe says:

    Hi! So that’s you! I’m so sorry, fandomscape. I didn’t mean to copy your words without your consent. I was in hurry that I didn’t have time to ask for your permission through dramabeans. I was thinking to do it later in the morning. If I’m asking your permission now, will you allow me to cite your comment? If you don’t, I will take out your translations/comments from this article. Once again, I’m really sorry for upsetting you. Thank you.

  6. Sophia says:

    Actually, I don’t mind the slow-paced flow of this story. The slow-paced CT in the first 2 or 3 episodes reminded me of Secret Love Affair. SLA had so many characters compare to CT, but SLA stood out because they introduced all the characters and their problems effectively from the get-go/episode 1. CT slowly introduced the characters/details of the characters one by one till around episode 4-5. Compare to KMHM style, the writer was slowly revealing them. I’m thinking, maybe it’s the director’s style/choice, not hers? I feel like it has the same style as his prev. work “On the way to the airport”?

  7. gear says:

    I’m one of the few who enjoyed CT from episode1 😀 I loved it because the scenes were full of books and the drool-worthy libraries! My excitement rose by the end of ep 1 when the 1930s scene appeared for the first time ♥♥

  8. Laura says:

    I was skeptical the first time reading the synopsis and I didn’t like the writer either. First episode didn’t warm me, but I got hooked in episode 2. I was really surprised since I never expected that I would like, no, LOVE this drama!! It has a LOT of subtle and emotional moments I was moved to tears by that. Yes, the show has hiccups here and there, but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. We as the viewers got a lot of good messages from Chicago Typewriter. Now I feel so glad that Yoo Ah In took this drama as his last project before MS.

    • Laura says:

      And last but not least: Yoo Ah In rocks the characters and the wig! Both Han Se Joo and Seo Hwi Young represent his own qualities/characteristics too.

    • Sakura says:

      Same. I love dramas where I can remember the flow of the scenes, even with multiple flashbacks, but I am a bias judge, so I cannot fault this drama. I think it is because I am obsessed with action dramas and films right now, again thanks to Yoo Ah In. So I was hooked from the action opening scene, however the literary referencing in the drama is more my style, so I don’t mind any of it really!

    • Furbabe says:

      Yes, I’m so glad that he took this meaningful project too. As expected from Yoo Ah In, there’s no way he would take a usual romcom 🙂 (CT isn’t even a romcom, though)

  9. Yasuyo says:

    Thank you for the detailed analysis of various data! CT includes hope, forgiveness, friendship and appreciation for being free by the sacricice of young activists. After 16 episodes, I finally understood the reason Master Sik chose this work. Fantastic Ain! You’re awesome!! I was very poeased to see the double casts.

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