Netflix K-drama Racket Boys: rural sports comedy serves up diverting family fun

Move to Heaven, Memories of Murder, K-pop act BTS

Part youth drama, part sports saga and part countryside comedy, Racket Boys, currently streaming worldwide on Netflix, is the latest show from Korean broadcaster SBS.

Hot on the heels of his appearance in Move to Heaven, young actor Tang Joon-sang plays the young sports prodigy who moves with his badminton coach father, played by Memories of Murder actor Kim Sang-kyung, to the countryside.

The action begins in the South Korean capital, Seoul, where Yoon Hyeon-jong (Kim) is coaching amateur badminton players but struggling to pay rent and medical bills and fund a special baseball camp for his son Hae-kang (Tang), who is on track to become a national star, which he is unable to afford.

When a better paid opportunity arises, Hyeon-jong accepts a post in the countryside and moves there with his son and younger daughter Hae-in (Ahn Se-bin). Hae-kang is livid that he can’t play baseball any more, and their humble new rural home and its lack of Wi-fi only make things worse.

Meanwhile, Hyeon-jong assumes his post as a coach at the Haenam Seo Middle School, but discovers that a formerly great team has been on life support for years and now has only three members. Without a fourth, they won’t be able to compete.

Hyeon-jong tries to persuade Hae-kang to join but he won’t entertain the idea, until a budget problem forces Hyeon-jong to welcome his three young badminton wards, Bang Yoon-dam (Son Sang-yeon), Na Woo-chan (Choi Hyun-wook) and Lee Yong-tae (Kim Kang-hoon), to come and stay with them.

The three boys, who call themselves the “Racket Boys” – which in Korean is a play on the uber popular K-pop act BTS – are desperate for Hae-kang to join them and before long they trick him into playing their ace Yoon-dam. However, after a slow start, and to their very great surprise, Hae-kang proves to be a more than competent player, and Yoon-dam barely ekes out a win. 

In exchange for a Wi-fi router, Hae-kang is soon convinced to join the team, and soon after that his new teammates discover that Hae-kang used to be a badminton prodigy before taking up baseball.

At their first competition, the Racket Boys meet the former star badminton player Ra Yeong-ja (Oh Na-ra), who now coaches a top girls’ badminton team which includes national athlete Han Se-yoon (Lee Jae-in).

Move to Heaven, Memories of Murder, K-pop act BTS

Oh Na-ra in a still from Racket Boys.

Back at Hyeon-jong’s home that evening, the boys get some more surprises as Yeong-ja and two of her players, Se-yoon and Lee Han-sol (Lee Ji-won), also come to stay with them. What’s more, they learn that Yeong-ja is none other than Hae-kang and Hae-in’s mother.

Also in the orbit of the Racket Boys are the school’s head coach, Bae (Shin Jung-keun), who has a secret up his sleeve; their nerdy classmate Jung In-sol (Kim Min-ki), who wants to play badminton against his father’s wishes; and the dotty neighbour Grandma One (Cha Mi-kyung), who loves to dote on the children.

Suitable for all ages, Racket Boys explores several family themes; no matter the tribulation the characters are confronted with, the solution is invariably that they need to stick together to move forward.

Move to Heaven, Memories of Murder, K-pop act BTS

A scene from Netflix K-drama Racket Boys.

This is well illustrated when Yoon-dam, as punishment for the Racket Boys getting involved in a fight, is forced by Bae to complete an impossible number of exercises, until his teammates realise the point – he’ll only complete the tasks if they all do them together.

Yet in this show, it isn’t just the young players who need to grow up, as Hyeon-jong also has plenty of room to grow. He’s trying his best to make ends meet and do the best for his children, but his pecuniary drive is often at odds with his duties as a coach.

What’s more, when it counts the most, Hyeon-jong can prove to be highly irresponsible, such as when a late night of drinking costs his team a chance to compete in an event the next morning.

Move to Heaven, Memories of Murder, K-pop act BTS

Lee Jae-in prepares to play a shot in Racket Boys.

Beyond these weightier thematic digressions, which include a very awkward misstep involving a suicidal couple who relocate to the village, the show is most comfortable as an easy-going, feel-good comedy.

Goofy dances crop up regularly, as do silly picture poses and pleasing but facile comparisons between city and country life. The comedy is for the most part family-friendly, but the show occasionally throws a bone just to the adults, such as when the team stays in a love motel and the boys are confused by the sounds of “pain” coming from neighbouring rooms.

Though a touch long-winded and simplistic, the first few games of Racket Boys have for the most part been digestible and diverting.

Move to Heaven, Memories of Murder, K-pop act BTS

A still from Racket Boys.

Racket Boys is streaming on Netflix.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Pakistan's Dastgyr raises USD 3.5 million seed for its B2B e-commerce marketplace

In addition to launching its fintech offerings, Dastgyr plans to use the investment to enhance its technology and scale operations. Read more »

China steel export tariffs considered as Beijing seeks to cool booming sector amid price surge

China is considering imposing more tariffs on steel exports as it seeks to achieve twin goals of capping domestic production and taming the surging prices that have fanned concerns about ... Read more »

Lee Man-tat, head of Lee Kum Kee sauce empire, dies at 91

Oyster sauce tycoon Lee Man-tat, chairman of Lee Kum Kee Group, has died. He was 91. The company said in a statement that Lee died on Monday, surrounded by family ... Read more »

Tencent super app WeChat suspends new user registrations until early August for ‘security upgrade'

WeChat, the multipurpose super app operated by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, has suspended new user registrations until August so it can conduct a “security upgrade” to comply with “relevant ... Read more »

[Today's K-pop] EXO's D.O. tops iTunes charts in 59 regions with solo debut album

(Credit: SM Entertainment)The first solo album of EXO’s D.O. hit No. 1 on iTunes top albums chart in 59 regions.  The album came out Monday and swept all major music ... Read more »

K-pop singer D.O. from Exo debuts first EP ‘Empathy', the latest in the group's stellar line-up of solo releases

On Monday, K-pop singer D.O. released his debut solo EP, Empathy. Known as one of K-pop group Exo’s primary vocalists and as a popular actor, D.O.’s eight-track Empathy is an ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency exchange operators Huobi, OKCoin to close Beijing subsidiaries amid China's crackdown

The operators of cryptocurrency exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are closing their respective subsidiaries in Beijing, dealing another blow to investors in bitcoin and other digital tokens in mainland China amid ... Read more »

China's carbon neutral goal: Non-fossil fuel capacity will soon surpass coal power's, though much of it remains unused

China’s capacity for generating power from non-fossil energy is poised to exceed that of coal power plants by the end of the year, according to the China Electricity Council. However, ... Read more »

Alvin Ea, CEO of container haulage platform Haulio, on the challenges for a second-generation founder in a traditional industry

Ea shares why he ‘disrupted’ himself to start a new company after growing up in his family’s haulage business. Read more »

SM Entertainment founder gives luxury apartment to journalist

Lee Soo-man / Courtesy of SM Entertainment By Ko Dong-hwan Lee Soo-man, the founder of international entertainment company, SM Entertainment, has reportedly given his luxury apartment to a journalist who ... Read more »

Christie's Asia to hold year-round sales at new headquarters in Hong Kong from 2024

Auctioneer Christie’s has signed a 10-year lease on a new Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong that will allow it to hold year-round auctions and private sales from 2024. The ... Read more »

Evergrande reneges on special dividend two weeks after pledging it, in a surprise U-turn that sends shares, bonds crashing

China Evergrande Group, the country’s biggest home builder and the world’s most indebted developer, unexpectedly scrapped a special dividend two weeks after announcing it, in a corporate U-turn that spooked ... Read more »

Ghost Mansion movie review: Korean horror anthology sees webtoon artist visit haunted apartment to turn deadly curse into bestseller

2.5/5 stars Digital comics known as webtoons are proving a fertile source of material for South Korea’s booming media industry. Many recent K-drama hits, including Sweet Home and Itaewon Class, ... Read more »

Henan floods to trigger record insurance claims of US$1.7 billion as thousands of cars, property damaged

The Henan floods are likely to see total insurance claims of as much as 11 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion), Goldman Sachs said, with one expert saying this could possibly be ... Read more »

Myanmar rights groups file complaint to OECD against Telenor over ‘irresponsible' sale of business

With 18.2 million subscribers, Telenor’s sale of its Myanmar business leaves some users worried about the transfer of their data to a new telco. Read more »

Tesla banks on Shanghai Gigafactory 3, its ‘primary vehicle export hub', to meet global demand

Tesla is relying on its Shanghai factory to meet global demand for its vehicles, as its other plants grapple with shortages of automotive chips and other car components. The US ... Read more »

Speculation over whether Alibaba will re-enter music streaming gains traction after Tencent loses exclusive rights

A subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding has applied for a slew of trademarks for its now-defunct music streaming service, fanning speculation about whether the e-commerce giant will re-enter music streaming ... Read more »

China's state media moves to reassure rattled investors after rout wiped US$574 billion off stock market

China’s state media are on a mission to talk up the battered stock market and reassure rattled investors after a rout on Monday that erased more than US$570 billion from ... Read more »

BTS song 'MIC Drop' breaks 1 billion views on YouTube

BTS / Courtesy of Big Hit Music The music video for a remix of the 2017 BTS hit “MIC Drop” has earned more than 1 billion views on YouTube, the ... Read more »

American chef on culture shock in Europe – he foraged for ants and smoked reindeer – and doing his own thing in Hong Kong at Haku

How did you become interested in food? “When I was a kid, my mom wasn’t that great a cook, she was a very busy single mother for a while. But ... Read more »

Hong Kong's co-living operators and hotels join forces to give vacant rooms a new lease of life as coronavirus poses existential threat

The Covid-19 pandemic could sound the death knell for the co-living sector, as the concept of communal living, which involves sharing, interacting and building a community, seems to conflict with ... Read more »

Intel to build chips for Qualcomm and Amazon as it aims to catch foundry rivals by 2025

Intel Corp said its factories will start building Qualcomm chips and laid out a road map to expand its new foundry business to catch rivals such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing ... Read more »

Hong Kong stocks weaken as tech slump continues while traders seek safety in banks, developers

Hong Kong stocks wavered in early trading as traders turned to old-economy stocks like banks and property developers to shelter from another bout of sell-off in technology stocks. The Hang ... Read more »

US-listed Chinese companies must disclose to investors any risk of government interference

Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their businesses as part of their regular reporting obligations, a top US Securities ... Read more »

Fabric simulator Heartdub nabs investment to develop AI physics engine

The company can simulate the interaction between different materials in real-time, enhancing the collaborative design process. Read more »

Shein's digital supply chain supplier Singbada nets investment for fast fashion expansion

Singbada expects more clothing companies to follow Shein’s example and demand flexible supply chains. Read more »

Offshore investors dump Chinese stocks by most in a year amid US$557 billion market meltdown

Offshore investors, stunned by the extent of China‘s punitive regulatory onslaught, are fleeing from the mainland markets at the fastest clip in a year. There’s no song and dance for ... Read more »

BTS song 'MIC Drop' breaks 1 bln views on YouTube

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — The music video for a remix of the 2017 BTS hit “MIC Drop” has earned more than 1 billion views on YouTube, the group’s agency ... Read more »

Hong Kong developers put their faith in technology to cut human error after New World's Pavilia Farm fiasco

Major Hong Kong developers plan to replace some manual operations with technology in a bid to eliminate human error and ensure safety and build quality in the wake of the ... Read more »

How Covid-19 has boosted Asia's luxury residential sector

South Korea last week reported its highest number of daily new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic erupted, as the nation struggles to contain a surge in infections that has forced ... Read more »

Will Chinese tourists give Australia a miss post-Covid, putting a dent in its booming hotel property sector?

Investment in Australian hotels more than quadrupled in the first half of the year, according to property consultancy JLL, a reflection of confidence in robust local demand for travel that ... Read more »

BTS vs BTS: 'Butter' returns to top of Billboard after giving way to 'Permission to Dance'

This photo provided by Big Hit Music shows K-pop superstar BTS. (Big HIt Music)South Korean supergroup BTS sat atop the Billboard’s main singles chart for the ninth consecutive week as ... Read more »

(LEAD) BTS vs BTS: 'Butter' returns to top of Billboard after giving way to 'Permission to Dance'

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS details, photo; RESTRUCTURES) SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — South Korean supergroup BTS sat atop the Billboard’s main singles chart for the ninth consecutive week as its ... Read more »

Stripped of exclusive music rights, TME's star fades as ByteDance and NetEase eye center stage

Tencent’s music arm has problems beyond antitrust matters, and other platforms are keen to take advantage in a promising market. Read more »

Xiaomi founder Lei Jun's endorsement, nationalistic fervour lift sales of Chinese sportswear firm Hongxing

Chinese consumers emptied the inventory of China Hongxing Sports after it donated cash and goods to victims of floods in central Henan province, earning goodwill and an unexpected endorsement from ... Read more »

‘Naked' soap, refillable lipstick: to use less plastic, the beauty industry pivots to recycling and refill options

As plastics horror stories pile up, consumers across the world are turning away from the modern convenience of plastic packaging – or at least trying to avoid single-use plastic as ... Read more »

Tech companies are changing perceptions of the Indonesia Stock Exchange

Analysts believe that tech stocks such as Bukalapak will lure young retail investors and inspire other internet companies to hit the local capital market. Read more »

Why food porn on Instagram and TikTok makes us happy: it triggers the same pleasure receptors in our brains as food on our plates

When Winny Hayes joined TikTok, she thought the social video app was mostly for lip-synching and dance trends. She wasn’t yet privy to its world of food content: creamy vodka ... Read more »

BTS song 'Butter' returns to top of Billboard Hot 100 after giving way to new BTS song

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — South Korean supergroup BTS sat atop the Billboard’s main singles chart for a ninth consecutive week as its hit single “Butter” returned to the throne ... Read more »