The setting of the Korean drama CEO-dol Mart is pretty mundane. The story mostly takes place in Boram Mart, a mini mart which hasn’t kept up with the competition. The slow but steady loss of customers has landed the business in plenty of debt. Choi Ho-rang and Shin Tae-oh, members of the defunct idol group Thunder Boys, both remember Boram Mart from their trainee days, but they haven’t seen each other in years. So, it’s a surprise when they meet again at a police station answering questions about separate incidents regarding the same Boram Mart.
Ho-Rang, played by Lee Shin-young, thinks he’s there because he bravely stopped a fire in the mart. Tae-ho, played by EXO-M’s Xiumin, is there because someone suspects him of attempting to break into the place. Meeting there seems like a strange coincidence until they discover how the mart connects them. It turns out Ho-rang, Tae-oh and the other three Thunder Boys actually own the mart and have owned it for years. Their shady agent pocketed years’ worth of proceeds while the former group members took on odd jobs to make ends meet. Now that the mart is no longer profitable, he wants to hand it over.
Years ago an accident ended the band’s dreams of k-pop success and since then the members have struggled to find a new direction. They haven’t exactly kept in touch. The other three members of the group, played by Choi Won-myeong, Lee Sae-on and Monsta X’s Hyungwon, tried different ways to make a living, from fashion influencer to farmer. It would make financial sense to sell the mart and split the money, then resume their separate lives. Yet, while discussing what to do, they realize it’s nice to work together again. They decide to pool their talents to run the mart.
The friends don’t know much about running a mart, especially one that seems to have little income and a huge pile of unpaid bills. Ho-rang doesn’t even know how to ring up a sale. So, he enlists the help of Oh Ye-rim, played by Choi Jung-woon, who used to work at the mart part time. She’s opposed to the idea of selling the mart and eventually convinces the idol-owners to give it their all. As luck would have it, they all have something to contribute to the mart’s potential success. The struggles they each faced during their time apart helped them develop valuable skills they can now employ in the mart. Their idol-worthy visuals might also be a potential draw for customers and they make the most of this asset by wearing colorful k-pop performance-worthy jumpsuits. This low-key drama has plenty of can-do spirit and the friends will need their optimism as more problems loom in the mart’s future.
Lee Sin-young previously appeared in Dr. Romantic 3, Rookie Cops, Awaken and Crash Landing On You. Xiumin appeared in the 2016 film Seondal: The Man Who Sold The River. Choi Jung-woon was in The Empire and the film Moving On. Choi Won-myeong had roles in The Fabulous, Wok of Love and Strong Girl Do Bong-soon. CEO-dol Mart is Lee Sae-on’s first role and Hyungwon previously only appeared in one episode of Oh! Young Sim.
CEO-dol Mart airs in the US on Viki.com. The TVING drama is directed by Lee Yoo-Yeon and written by Jang Kyung-lim.