‘Kiss Sixth Sense’ review: predictable clairvoyance meets corny office romance

Despite some toe-curling cheesiness, there’s something magical about Disney+’s new fantasy romance K-drama series

An innocuous peck on someone’s cheek is all it takes to activate someone’s sixth sense; a cursed glimpse into the recipient’s future. Hong Ye-sool (Crash Landing On You’s Seo Ji-hye) is the ill-fated bearer of this ability. Despite managing to carry on with her life as a dogged and overworked employee at a top-class marketing firm, she dismisses her gift as a malediction.

It has put a hefty strain on her love life. “How unfortunate I am to be able to see someone else’s future. What a cursed ability,” she laments. “Whenever I kissed someone I loved, I wasn’t in their future.” Being cognizant of your own heartbreak before it even happens is more than enough to swear off of opening yourself up to messy romantic endeavours, as Ye-sool has.

Her psychic ability is not the only thing brewing trouble for Ye-sool – a more immediate problem for her comes in the form of her fastidious mentor, Cha Min-hu (Crime Puzzle’s Yoon Kye-sang), who seems to pick on Ye-sool the most out of everyone on the team. She has to pull the most all-nighters, and was even driven to the point of tears and snot on one occasion, and a nosebleed on another.

As the project manager in charge of a campaign for a bedding company, she was tasked to arrange the logistics for a commercial to be filmed. A rare lapse in judgement on Ye-sool’s part results in the props getting soaked in rain the night before filming, causing her to rush to the scene in the dead of night in an unfruitful attempt to repair the damage. She’s met with a quietly enraged Min-hu at the scene, who is already trying to lug the products on his own into a nearby shed. As if Ye-sool’s blunder wasn’t already enough to tick him off, she ends up tripping on a box and falling right into the arms of a flustered Min-hu, accidentally kissing him square on the mouth as they plummet onto a bed.

Visions of the future start flashing before Ye-sool’s eyes, but it’s different this time – she sees herself, in a passionate liplock with Min-hu as they stumble into his apartment. The scene only escalates further; much to her shock, they actually end up doing the deed. And while we largely follow Ye-sool on her journey in reckoning with this impending future as we share her knowledge and foresight, there’s something peculiar about Min-hu’s behaviour post-kiss, too – as subtly hinted so far, it seems that he himself also harbours a sixth sense similarly activated by a kiss.

A cursory glance at Kiss Sixth Sense’s does-what-it-says-on-the-tin premise might elicit some semblance of scepticism in its ability to enthuse, and rightfully so – it may have something to do with the prevailing corniness of its source material, the popular webcomic Sixth Sense Kiss. It’s a challenge to create an adaptation with substance when it’s based on a story born from ridiculous fantasies of a magical romance, lousy with trite tropes.

Yet, this doesn’t necessarily detract from Kiss Sixth Sense’s sex-positive narrative, especially within the contemporary sphere of Korean television. In the face of a conservative culture and society, representations of romantic relationships often opt to ignore the sexual aspects in favour of romances deemed to be more “family-friendly” – or worse, perpetuate the notion that sex in adult relationships should be looked down upon at worst.

This makes Kiss Sixth Sense a trailblazing contender in this area – not only does it never denounce the concept of sex, it even makes an effort to include conversations of it in passing, comedic banter amongst colleagues. It’s this quiet, on-screen depiction of intimacy that grounds Kiss Sixth Sense, no matter how absurd it may become; it’s the first step in unravelling a longstanding erasure of female sexuality in mainstream Korean media.

Lead actors Seo and Yoon are also exceptional in the way they portray the characters. Yoon’s take on the complexities of Min-hu allows viewers to gain a deeper understanding of the sides to the character that are more than just skin-deep – he cares for his subordinates in ways where words aren’t needed, and has his own personal hurdles to face and eventually overcome.

Meanwhile, Seo makes for a convincing protagonist, lending a layer of realism to her fantastical character. Her fortune-telling proclivities aside, Ye-sool is just like the rest of us – caught in mindless corporate drivel, with no choice but to move forward for the sake of survival. If there is anything to be said about their performances, it would be the underwhelming romantic chemistry between the duo, in the first two episodes at least.

To give Kiss Sixth Sense the benefit of the doubt, however, that’s not nearly enough to dismiss this series just yet. There remains a plethora of ways this story and their relationship could unfold, and, surprisingly, despite the various red marks against it, there’s something magical about Kiss Sixth Sense that keeps you wanting more. While Disney+’s attempts to penetrate the K-drama market have largely stalled at the gate, Kiss Sixth Sense is shaping up to be its most appealing yet, but whether it lives up to or squanders this potential is anyone’s guess at this stage.

New episodes of Kiss Sixth Sense are available to stream on Disney+ every Wednesday.

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