The normally broad storylines of "539 Yeonnam-dong" are condensed into just two this time. Bong-tae's confrontation with the mysterious masked villain is comically anticlimactic, as we end up lingering on Bong-tae still tied up for a moment and feeling a little ridiculous at the lack of drama. Going forward Bong-tae makes no progress in any kind of relevant investigation, instead running across a small child who happens to be I-na's daughter Chae-won.
Chae-won is very well cast- the girl almost perfectly captures I-na mannerisms and attitudes, just in the limited context of a small child. They both have the same fundamental grouchiness, yet are unwilling to go too far in attacking people. I especially liked the mother/daughter duality in the scene where Bong-tae proves that he's a police officer. I-na and Chae-won have almost perfectly matched facial expressions there, the first scene where they're on the same page.
All of this appears to be intended to set up Bong-tae and I-na as a couple. On one level this is disappointing, because I like the generally platonic way "539 Yeonnam-dong" deals in human relationships. But on the flip side I'm kind of mildly curious how any such relationship could be encouraged when Bong-tae appears to be a legitimate chemical asexual. Well, then again, if there's any woman who's not interested in sex, it would probably be I-na.
The other storyline of note involves Tae-yeong's grandfather arbitrarily demanding that Tae-yeong get married. The cliché is, as expected, not terribly impressive, even when it is self-referentially discussed. Besides that the sheer predictability of the storyline is enough to provoke a fairly indifferent reaction from me- at least Soo-ri's technically unrelated trip to the clinic was a little surprise. I guess I was a little surprised to find that throughout that whole experience, Tae-yeong wasn't actually trying to make Soo-ri jealous, there was just a lot of unfortunate timing.
Is that the difference between a situation comedy and a situation drama? The former involves people being actively mean-spirited, whereas in the latter they're trying to be nice and just failing for whatever reason? The understated nature of the jokes in "539 Yeonnam-dong" prevent it from being laugh out loud funny, although the generally relatable nature of the characters make up for that. I actually prefer learning about their backstories to seeing serious plot progression, since every new tidbit fits in just a little better with what we already know.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 8"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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