What most immediately jumps out about the lead characters in "Emergency Couple" is that they're not particularly likable. They're not unlikable, exactly, but from the very beginning there's a sort of seething resentment and aggression that's rather unsettling. Chang-min (played by Choi Jin-hyuk) is trying to push product. Jin-hee (played by Song Ji-hyo) is trying to avoid conflict. Neither character is particularly good at what they do. This leads to a spectacular breakdown where they inevitably vent their frustrations on the one person who they can most easily hurt- each other.
The sequence wherein Chang-min and Jin-hee's marriage is fully and utterly destroyed is an unsettling one. It's funny, in a macabre sort of way. For the most part though it's just this sad moment knowing that these two are making a horrible mistake and are too badly wound up to take a moment to calm down. Every further escalation is pointless and just results in another provocation.
Watching these two together is kind of like a model of how not to deal with stress in a relationship. Neither Chang-min nor Jin-hee really do anything that awful or unforgivable until they decide that the other person has done something awful and unforgivable. So once the timeskip is over, it's pretty understandable why these two feel such a strong enmnity toward one another.
That's the most curious part of the set-up to this drama- bear in mind, all the first episode does is clarify the premise and establish who these characters are and what they're doing. While six years have passed, Chang-min and Jin-hee have not markedly changed as people. They both have the same basic personality flaws and have little inclination toward trying to fix them. In some sense I really just felt sorry for supporting characters. They are going to have to stomach the fighting of these two for quite some time. Chang-min and Jin-hee are tolerable separately- together they're an absolute nightmare.
Incidentally, this is the irony that will likely define the drama's full runtime. While Chang-min and Jin-hee clearly see themselves as separate, completely different people, even in the context of the review I'm always referring to them together. That's what marriage, even a failed marriage, does to people. It completely alters their point of view of the world as having to relate to this other person somehow, because marriage changes people. Normally this kind of thematic device is used in a romantic light- whatever "Emergency Couple" is trying to do, it's hard to imagine we're getting a traditional love story out of this.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Emergency Couple" Episode 1"
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