I Need Romance Thai version


Burning up on Netflix is a Thai drama called Rak Chai Mai Tee Huajai Tong Karn, or I Need Romance in English.

The series is a remake of the hit Korean Drama, I Need Romance 3. It follows Najai, a 33-year-old woman who has given up on the idea of love, only to be surprised by the reappearance of her childhood friend, Arlan X.  

Not only does Rak Chai Mai Tee Huajai Tong Karn follow the same captivating storyline as its Korean predecessor, but it’s every inch of what we would call a classic K-drama: from the complicated love story to charmingly silly moments to a romance bloom between two characters dwelling under the same roof.

Nevertheless, the remake also has its own twists, making it possible for the Korea based story to fit right in with Thailand’s settings and audiences.

Here’s what the story’s about as well as the common K-drama tropes portrayed in Thai I Need Romance.

Warning: May contain spoilers. 

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I Need Romance summary


In I Need Romance, we come across a 33-year-old workaholic, Najai – originally named “Jubjung” in the Korean series – who has given up on the idea of love after several failed relationships. We feel you, Najai.

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Image credit: Trendsmap

She reunites with “Arlan”, a.k.a. “Arlan X”, a boy she raised with her mother before he left for America with his parents 17 years ago.

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Image credit: Bangkok Today

Arlan’s now back as a 26-year-old gifted songwriter, keeping a promise he made to Najai that he would return to her someday.

However, instead of coming to the same smart, innocent, and kind Najai from their childhood, Alan meets someone with a tough, prickly outer shell. 

And yet, Arlan still sees her as his one and only.

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Whilst Najai only sees him as a kid and a troublemaker, Arlan’s making it a goal to restore her faith in love amidst his acts of confession and affection.
Image credit: True ID

Below are glimpses into the two characters’ romance journey in I Need Romance, and how they’re just a homage to all the little things we love about K-dramas.


1. The female lead is pursued by at least two characters


You can say that most Korean series have one thing in common – love triangles. Whether it’s a hit series like Coffee Prince, or even a social commentary piece like Sky Castle, it seems love triangles are a guaranteed constant. 

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Kan in Thai I Need Romance
Screenshot: Netflix

In I Need Romance, the same sort of amorous entanglement keeps the story exciting.

To win Najai’s heart, Arlan not only has to break through her hard exterior, but he also has to conquer another obstacle: the second male lead, Kan, that Najai seems to be crushing on.

While we usually know who the female lead will end up with, it’s always fun to see how the sizzling competition for her heart plays out. *Drinks coffee to stay awake*


2. Love stories rooted in childhood


Arlan’s love for his Noona – “older sister” in Korean – Najai speaks to a trope common in K-dramas, where male leads fall for older female figures. In fact, it has even become a subgenre of its own, known as “Noona Romances”.

What you may have noticed is that the Nong’s affections for their Pi is rooted in childhood memories.

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What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim’s female lead as a child with her knight in shining armour
Image credit: Dramabeans

Take Full House or What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim. Whilst the main characters in the latter K-drama may not clearly remember their childhood friendship, it’s through Park Seo-Joon’s character’s persistence to keep a promise made when they were five that helps their love blossom. 

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A childhood scene in Thai I Need Romance
Screenshot: Netflix

In I Need Romance, Arlan falls head over heels for Najai at a young age. Even though he moves abroad, he carries those feelings for his Noona throughout the 17 years he spends away from her. 

In fact, Arlan returns just so he could reunite with Najai and make good on his childhood promise that he would make her happy. 

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Image credit: True ID

No matter how abrasive and crass Najai is towards him, it appears that he isn’t going to give up.

Arlan’s persistence def gives hope to all of us who are still secretly wishing for a miracle with our childhood crush.


3. Attaching a uniquely adorable nickname to someone to show their interest


Whilst it’s not as big as other K-drama tropes we see out there, many characters in Korean series do have a knack for attaching adorably funny nicknames to other characters, particularly ones that they’re romantically interested in.

In Cheese In The Trap, In-ho – the second male lead – can be seen calling Seol – the female lead – the Korean term for “dog fur”. Despite the teasing remarks he makes about Seol’s hair and this rather unconventional nickname, many fans say that it’s In-ho’s favourite feature about her. 

So, it’s practically how little boys show love to little girls.

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In the Korean version of I Need Romance, the female lead calls her co-lead “sweet potato” instead of “tofu”.
Screenshot: Netflix

In I Need Romance, the female lead gives a nickname to the male lead. When Arlan was born, Najai claimed that he looked like a plain chunk of tofu and has been calling him “Tofu” ever since. 

Although the nickname was initially used to show feelings of aversion, little-by-little it soon turned into a term of endearment towards Arlan.

Speaking of sweet and teasing terms, we Thais also have just the word for them: “Ai Tao” – perfect for both your bae or your furry companion. TBH, it’s words like this that get our hearts every time.


4. Female lead stealing a boy’s heart with her quirks


For some reason, no matter how much you admire a person for their confidence or talents, it’s always the little silly things they do that make your heart flutter. The same goes for most male characters in K-dramas.

They often fall for characters who have a quirk or two, such as in classic Korean dramas, My Love From The Star and My Girl.

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Female lead in My Girl
Image credit: Korean Dramaland

The female leads in these series, as well as in I Need Romance, are independent women with a never ending supply of witty insults. 

Although they clash with their male leads in the beginning due to their differences and standoffish attitudes, the female leads’ fitful clumsiness eventually pokes through their tough facade and through the male characters’ chests like cupid’s arrow.

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Image credit: @mintmag_th

Take Najai for example, she may present a tough exterior, but it’s only on the surface. Inside, she’s as sweet as baby yoda. But, of course, it’s only the male lead that can see through the tough exterior.

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Screenshot: Netflix

Jubjang’s also hilarious around her friends, often making cheeky jokes that would put off any other gentleman-caller. But, through Arlan’s loving gazes, audiences can see that her drunk persona is def charming to him.

A heroine who knows how to have fun is def what makes the show worth watching.


5. That breakup scene that ends with a lonely walk


K-dramas are known to have one of the saddest breakup scenes, often employing dramatic elements like slo-mo shots of the characters’ stunned expressions, over-the-top plots or even pathetic fallacy to pull on our heart strings.

A breakup scene from Legend of the Blue Sea includes all three: the male lead is left alone on the shore with amnesia as his mermaid girlfriend dives off to heal her fatal wounds.

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I Need Romance 3’s female lead being broken up with on the first snow day, a day marked for romance’s breakup scene in episode one
Screenshot: myasiantv.se

A breakup scene in the Korean version of I Need Romance 3 is another perfect example. It was during the year’s first snowfall, a romantic occasion for couples, when the female lead receives a goodbye from her ex. She then walks through the snow to process her emotions. 

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Screenshot: Netflix

While we don’t have snow in Thailand, Rak Chai Mai Tee Huajai Tong Karn made the breakup scene work by replacing snow with sheets of rain. Of course, Najai has to walk through the downpour for dramatic purposes – sulking in the rain is arguably worse than walking through the snow. *Shivers*

Despite the rollercoaster of emotions that breakup scenes like this bring us, I for one would rather be dumped while I’m cozied up at home rather than having people see my tears mixing with the rain.


6. Child actors are always spitting images of the characters


K-Drama casting agents are pretty good at finding young doppelgängers of the actors – in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, the resemblance between the leads and their child actors is just uncanny.

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Aside from the fact that younger Kim Bok-joo has chubbier cheeks, the two actors look like they could be the same person.
Image credit: MBC via Candy

Hats-off to the Thai remake of I Need Romance for also executing this. Like the K-Drama it was based on, I Need Romance includes a lot of #throwback shots where the characters’ young counterparts look exactly like them.

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Younger Najai vs. Older Najai
Images adapted from: Netflix

Not only do the resemblances between the characters and their child actors add a nice touch to the quality of the series, we also love how the sweet nostalgic feels these scenes give us.

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Both versions of Arlan doing a similar facial expression
Images adapted from: Netflix

And now we’re thinking that reincarnation might just be real.


7. No Han River? No problem


Where French movies feature the Seine as a motif, Korean dramas feature the Han river. In several K-dramas, you’ll see the Han river appear at least once in the story, as it’s deemed the spirit of Seoul.

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Picnic date in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Image credit: Korean Dramaland

Whilst Han River is infamously used as a backdrop for dramatic breakup scenes, it’s known to host a few romantic dates as well. Take I Need Romance 3 for an example, where the leads often visit the spot for a nice chat or stroll along the river.

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Thai I Need Romance using Chao Phraya River as a homage to the original series
Image credit: True ID

Although Thailand may not have the Han river, we do have the perfect substitute for that. Instead of seeing the male lead visiting the Han river upon his return from the States like in the original version, we see Thai Arlan spreading his arms on a pier at the Chao Phraya river.

With a view this grand, it won’t be a surprise if other Thai dramas start featuring the river in their stories.


8. Lead characters “forced” to live together


We saved the best trope for the last: cohabitation. It’s a fan favourite plot point where unwilling love interests are “forced” to live together under the same roof. With the characters seeing each other every single day – which they almost always detest at first – it’s almost impossible for love to not grow.

The best example of love beginning in an “inconvenient” living arrangement is Full House. Despite their strikingly different personalities, Young Ja” slowly falls in love with his fake-wife, Ji Eun.

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Image credit: @mintmag_th

In I Need Romance, Najai reluctantly accepts “Tofu” into her house as a favour to her mom. Thanks to that, we get to see many cute at-home moments in addition to the romantic scenes that gradually round up the wholesome love story. *Melts like butter*


Best of both worlds


Whether it’s tropes like the female lead being pulled left and right by two male characters, a love story that’s full of moments from childhood, or something as simple as hearing Arlan being called “Tofu” I Need Romance successfully nod to its original K-Drama. 

For K-Drama fans looking for a slight change, we recommend you jump onto Netflix and search for I Need Romance right now.

Not only will you be getting the best of K-dramas, you’ll also be getting the best of Thai dramas that will def make you laugh out loud.

Other things on Netflix:


Cover images adapted from (clockwise from top left): @mintmag_th, Netflix, TrueID, Netflix

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