K-Drama: Is 70-years-old Too Late For a Dream Come True?

by Isabel Bang

Navillera | 나빌레라 (2021)

If you ask someone what their dream as a child was, many won’t be able to answer without good thought. Childhood dreams can easily be forgotten when you’re growing up, hitting reality, and making a living. This recently ended K-drama Navillera, will remind you of the old desires you’ve been putting aside.

tvN | Navillera

Keeping a high reputation is an important aspect for Koreans. In a country where others’ eyes matter, the idea of men doing ballet, a “girls’ thing”, is still not so common. But imagine what it would have been like in the 1930s. Duk-Chul (Park In-Hwan), a retired 70-year-old postman, has been a hard-working and sacrificing father for his three children - a very common and ordinary father figure in Korea. One day he came across a ballet studio and saw a young ballerino dancing a beautiful piece. That moment, he recalls his childhood dream of becoming a ballet dancer.

Back in the days, doing dance performance for a living was not the ideal job for a man, nor was it considered to make good money. After his father’s strong opposition, he soon forgot about the excitement of his first ballet encounter and focused on his life as a family man. As Duk-Chul reflects on his past self and realises that he had never done anything solely for himself, he decides to finally commence his overdue desire. Obviously, this doesn’t work out smoothly. The persuading of the ballet studio coach and the conflict with his family members were anticipated clashes before making his dreams come true. The young ballerino, Chae-Rok (Song Kang), on the other hand, is going through life challenges himself as well. With a knee injury, Chae-Rok is in doubt of his future as a successful dancer, or anything.

tvN | Navillera

This series unfolds the story of a new challenge of an old man in his second half of life, and the unsettled wandering of a youth who’s just starting off his career. The inner growth of these two men in the 12-episodes as they teach and learn from each other is an inspirational story to watch. Plus, the fact that Duk-Chul still puts family first during his numerous struggles, was another element where we could feel warm inside. For me, I am the weakest sobbing potato when it comes to kind-hearted and hard-working elders in tv series 😭 As I saw Duk-Chul slowly following after Chae-Rok’s dance moves from afar, I knew that Navillera was going to give me puffy eyes for the whole binge watch.

Navillera originates from a Daum WEBTOON series by HUN & Jimin, which unfortunately cannot be found translated in English just yet. Some fans of this year-and-three-months-long comic series found it disappointing that quite a few characters were taken out on TV. Nonetheless, I personally believe that the shooting team did a fine job of focusing on a few of the main characters, given the short amount of episodes they were allowed.

tvN | Navillera

Also, I loved the character reinterpretations done by the actors. Park In-Hwan is one of the legendary actors in Korea with now 56 years of acting career. Being the main lead of a drama series at his age could have been pressuring, but like Duk-Chul, he challenged himself and no one could have done the job better than him. In an interview Park mentioned that “wearing a tight ballet suit itself was a challenge,” and with Navillera he wished to show the similar-aged viewers that “we can still achieve something, even at our age.” Along with Park, I thought that the performance by Na Moon-Hee who played Duk-Chul’s wife, Hae-Nam, was amazing (read our last TMI about her movie, I Can Speak!). I’m all for more senior actors getting the screen time that they deserve 👏 

tvN | Navillera

"Navillera" means “to be butterfly-like.” Duk-Chul’s leap in Navillera got us crying and learning that there’s never a late start. In hopes that this Netflix series recommendation gives a cheer to everyone dreaming, I’ll finish off with my favourite quote by the beautiful 70-year-old ballerino. 

“I’ve never done anything I wanted to do my entire life. I’ve been too busy making ends meet and supporting my family to even dream of it. I thought it was only natural. And now… I’m finally trying to do what I want to do. I know very well I’m old and weak. Still, I want to try it. I don’t care if I lose to reality. I want to give it a shot at least.” - Shim Duk-Chul, Navillera

Watch the trailer of Navillera here! 👉 https://bit.ly/3epFB51

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