Yesterday I had a chance to watch "Haru", the mini-drama recently released to promote tourism to Korea (watch it online on the Haru website). Also called "An Unforgettable Day in Korea" ("haru" means day in Korean), it's sponsored by the Korea National Tourism Organization and features 10 of Korea's youngest, hottest, and...not necessarily most talented (Yunho's acting? shudder) stars . Namely Lee Da Hae, Han Chae Young, Kim Bum, Yunho, Park Shi Hoo, and the members of Big Bang.

Interestingly, the female actors have solidly successful careers already - Lee Da Hae and Han Chae Young have a number of critically and popularly acclaimed dramas and even a few films under their belts - but the male actors fall more under the category of "rising stars".Park Shi Hoo has been steadily building his profile for years and is finally on everyone's radar with his fantastic performance in the underrated Prosecutor Princess and his upcoming role in the follow-up to Queen of Housewives. Yunho has a booming career as a pop idol and member of TVXQ, but his first acting attempt, in 2009's flop Heading to the Ground, was disastrous at best. He's probably in this drama because he's a pretty and famous face, has an unassuming, endearing personality (onscreen at least) and has (marginal, but there you go) acting experience. (Seriously what is it with him and running scenes though? This drama starts out with him running and I swear that's all he did in Heading to the Ground). Kim Bum's gorgeous face is known to all due to his role in Boys Over Flowers, but he hasn't done anything successful since then. dRegardless, I recommend the drama - it's about 20 minutes long or so, and is a very easy, charming watch. Several stories are interlocked here in a slightly Stranger than Fiction way - Lee Da Hae is a writer working on a romance novel, and meets Kim Bum, a slightly roguish photographer, while traveling on a train to meet Yunho's character (an action star). The couple in her novel, a fashion designer and restaurant owner, are played by Han Chae Young and Park Shi Hoo. The plot of her novel is highly melodramatic - the couple turns out to be keeping a dark secret from each other - and filmed with the kind of extravagant disregard for realism that usually characterizes a certain type of television ads, but perhaps because of this is probably the most memorable part of the mini. One particular shot of a man falling to the ground, oranges bouncing and and swirling around him almost like a halo, stands out for its weird beauty and (probably accidental) symbolism. Overall, that entire sequence could have doubled as an advertisement for fresh fruit and vegetables. Chae Young and Shi Hoo only develop chemistry at the very end of the drama, perhaps because their interactions for the first part are highly staged, but they are gorgeous onscreen together. The Lee Da Hae-Kim Bum storyline is endearing and fairly low-key, a kind of tribute to the cliched-but-evocative idea of two 20-something strangers meeting and having an adventure together. Yunho's role fits him very well and his character is highly likable - the dialogue between he and Lee Da Hae is the most sharply-written in the drama. His role as an action star provides the excuse for a number of explosions and missiles and the like which clearly a drama to promote Korean tourism would be lost without. It was the Big Bang storyline, oddly, that warmed my heart the most, however - theirs is a separate storyline unattached to any of the others, but genuinely heart-warming in its simple poignancy. c The drama is also beautifully filmed (as it should be) - crisply shot with stripped sets that direct our attention toward  one or two objects or points of interest, such as particular types of food found in Korea, or romantic cafes, or geographical landmarks or highlights, such as the Han river. These are all referenced through tags (little red boxes) that appear onscreen every few minutes throughout the drama, usually attached to small objects like a menu or a ring. When scrolled over, each tag pops up a little info box about various elements of tourism in Korea. It's all rather well-done, subtle enough not to distract from the storyline but clever enough to be effective. I enjoyed the luminous glimpse at Korea, which included everything from a gorgeous countryside/mountain location to a large, picturesque mall to a small, classy restaurant. Check out the teaser below, or watch the full drama online on the Haru website