Why This Popular K-Drama Is an Error-Free BL Webtoon Adaptation

Korean BL webtoons and manhwas are getting more and more popular but drama adaptations of these webtoons are far and few in between. One of the most recent BL adaptations was the 2021 drama Light on Me, based on a BL game called Saebit Boys Student Association, which was later adapted into a webtoon called Behind the Desks, by Evy and Day7. However, there has been more and more interest in adapting BL webtoons into drama, and with the rising success of series like Semantic Error, it looks like it won't stop.

Semantic Error premiered in February and quickly garnered a lot of attention from webtoon/novel fans and new fans alike. The drama's popularity has even caught the attention of mainstream media in Korea. So what is Semantic Error, and what makes this particular drama stand out among the other BL dramas?

What Is Semantic Error?

Semantic Error is a novel series written by Jeo Suri that follows the campus relationship of Chu Sangwoo and Jang Jaeyoung. Sangwoo accidentally captures Jaeyoung's attention when he takes his and another slackers' names off of a group project. Because of this, Jaeyoung isn't able to graduate and despite his pleading, Sangwoo ignores all of his calls. After Sangwoo's partner backs out of a mobile game project, she gets replaced by none other than Jaeyoung. The two of them butt heads early on in their relationship with Sangwoo viewing Jaeyoung as an 'error' in his life and Jaeyoung doing his best to be exactly that. But as they spend more and more time together, the 'error' starts to not feel like one anymore.

The webtoon, illustrated by Angy can be read on Manta. Currently, there is no official English translation of the novel. An anime adaptation was created in early 2021 but features only 4 short episodes that are snapshots of Sangwoo and Jaeyoung's relationship. The drama stars Park Jaechan, a member from DKZ, as Chu Sangwoo, and Park Seoham, a former member from KNK, as Jang Jaeyoung.

Who are the Characters in Semantic Error?

Chu Sangwoo is a computer science major who sees the world in an extremely logical way. He finds comfort in routine and rules, even having his schedule down to the very minute. That means waking up at the same time, wearing the same black cap, getting the same coffee, sitting in the exact same seat in every classroom. Similar to how a computer or robot functions, Sangwoo sees things as either-or, meaning he sees things in the binary. Things are either right or wrong and there is no in-between in his mind.

On the other hand, Jang Jaeyoung is a graphic/visual design major and is a burst of color in Sangwoo's otherwise black and white world. He's charismatic, popular, and on the outside, looks easygoing. Where Sangwoo operates in an almost systematic manner, Jaeyoung is more carefree and is the type to do things based on what he feels wants at that moment. He's exactly the type of person whom Sangwoo would want to avoid.

Sangwoo and Jaeyoung's Relationship in Semantic Error

semantic error jaeyoung red sangwoo black

In their first meeting, Sangwoo tells Jaeyoung there are two things that he hates: Jaeyoung and the color red. Of course, it makes perfect sense to Jaeyoung then, to wear every red piece of clothing that he owns and appear in every facet of Sangwoo's life. He even goes as far as to take the same classes as Sangwoo despite being in completely different majors.

The two men's feelings are slowly revealed through small details such as Jaeyoung wearing less red as he starts to get to know Sangwoo and Sangwoo forgoing his trademark cap to symbolize allowing Jaeyoung to see his more vulnerable side. Because Sangwoo operates mainly by logic, he rarely lets his feelings take control so when he falls in love for the first time, it's an entirely foreign experience. He tries to push Jaeyoung away but soon realizes that he'll have to face his feelings one way or another.

Why You Should Watch Semantic Error 

The drama goes beyond the English translation of the webtoon which only has up until Chapter 51 of the second season, as of the writing of this article. Although having only 8 episodes, Semantic Error follows the webtoon closely, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. While the adaptation doesn't exactly follow the chronological order of the webtoon, it highlights key scenes and each scene flows into the next so that it still tells a cohesive story. Oftentimes when adaptations have a limited number of episodes, the relationship gets compromised where it's rushed.

That's not the case for Semantic Error. The way Sangwoo and Jaeyoung fall in love feels organic and natural. Knowing that he has never been in a relationship before, Jaeyoung lets Sangwoo lead and Sangwoo becomes endearingly awkward in his attempts to be more human. The couple's chemistry is one of the best out there and their heartwarming and sweet love story has left a lasting impression on every viewer's heart.

Semantic Error can be watched on Viki or GagaOOLala in certain regions.

Tanjuro Kamado, father of Tanjiro and Nezuko in Demon Slayer
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