...I was kind of expecting by this point in "Drinking Alone" that some effort would have been made to make Jeong-seok's character sympthetic. It wouldn't even have to be full on sympathy. I would be satisfied if he was at least making progress toward becoming a better person but if anything Jeong-seok's behavior has gotten worse. As the bathroom scene demonstrates, Jeong-seok is willing to make a greater effort to be a jerk than would be necessary to fulfill the standards of basic decency.
In broader perspective his conflict with Jin-i is even worse. She is his co-worker, with comparable seniority, and Jeong-seok abuses his rock star status as a lecturer to create a situation that's horribly inconvenient for her and only a slight improvement for him. Never mind the issue of being romantically slighted- even on a professonal level I'm surprised Ha-na can tolerate Jeong-seok. Really, I'm having trouble coming up with any reason why anyone should want him to be happy.
Even more puzzling is what's happening with regards to Myeong. I had assumed the whole bit where he learns constant studying technique from Chae-yeon was priming us for a possible loveline between those characters. But apparently, it was actually to set up a scene here which contrives to put Myeong in the same room as Chae-yeon for an extended period of time when she has already explicitly rejected him.
I don't know what to make of these narrative focuses taken together. Out of context Jeong-seok looks like the villain here, not the main character. By any possible logical measurement we should be wanting Myeong and Ha-na to get together, because they're the ones with sympathetic character traits and genuine romantic chemistry. Genre standards are the only reason we have to assume the story is going in any other direction.
It's possible I'm overthinking "Drinking Alone" metatexually. I mean sure, the bathroom scene was cruel, yet at the same time it was funny, which is what's actually supposed to matter. I may just be getting frustrated over the absence of any kind of clear narrative thrust. This episode was fairly light on the social commentary regarding the natue of the work that the teachers do versus how this work is acually interpeted by the students. Slapstick can only go so far though, which is why I'm starting to worry tha "Drinkin Alone" might not actually have any kind of a point to it.
Review by William Schwartz
"Drinking Alone" is directed by Choi Gyoo-sik and Jeong Hyeong-geon, written by Baek Seon-woo, Choi Bo-rim and Myeong Soo-hyeon, and features Ha Seok-jin, Hwang Woo-seul-hye, Park Ha-sun, Min Jin-woong, Kim Won-hae, Gong Myung and Key.
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. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 11"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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