So Na Moon-hee is in this drama. I've had trouble discussing her character mostly because she doesn't appear to have a name. But the character has always been instructive. Superficially Na Moon-hee is playing the role of wise mentor figure, and she's always dispensing unwanted yet generally correct grandmotherly advice. Yet the old woman is never talking from a position of strength. If anything, she gives off the feeling of constant regret, although it's never been clear why.
Lots of old people are mysteriious like that. It's not a conscious affectation, they just don't like talking about the painful stuff in their past. So when Kang-doo and Moon-soo are both drawn to her independently, it's because they feel the appeal in that. They like being with people who understand pain but don't like to talk about it. There's a sort of cautious worldliness in that attitude, which gives comfort to the idea that such and such person knows how to avoid pain in the future.
There's just one problem. Na Moon-hee's grandmotherly character is old, and her death is inevitable, however much she may want to live in denial of it. All the other characters know this too. But they don't want to admit it either. In this way Na Moon-hee's grandmotherly character becomes symbolic of how Kang-doo can't run away from his problems. Indirectly she's what forces Kang-doo to come back to dry land to face his personal demons- a challenge that ironically takes on far less importance.
I liked those early montages where, however much they try, Kang-doo and Moon-soo can't really shake the idea of each other. They had a lot of very positive first experiences with each other. Which is a bit of an odd way to put it, considering how one of their first encounters involved Moon-soo finding Kang-doo beat up in an alley. But the beauty of even their negative experiences is just the relief that, however bad something may taste, in the long run, it doesn't kill them.
That reminds me, the facial expressions in "Just Between Lovers" are always really great. I loved that huge smile Moon-soo kept giving Kang-doo as she followed him around everywhere like a lost puppy dog. Yes, it was exaggerated and silly, but that's the whole point. The only possible way Kang-doo could interpret Moon-soo's actions there is as unambiguously positive. However miserable he may be, Moon-soo will always be there. That's what matters.
Review by William Schwartz
Note : due to licensing, videos may not be available in your country
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] "Just Between Lovers" Episode 10"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Longing Heart" Episode 2
While the first episode gave the clear impression that this was going to be the older Sin-woo's st,...More
[HanCinema Awards] Best Actor in a Drama of 2017 - And the Winner Is...
2017 saw fantastic actors land interesting, challenging, and engaging roles. We've fallen in love ,...More
Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$0.99 monthly or US$7.99 yearly (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up.