Director Kim Jin-won-I has this fantastic talent for creating dramatic tension in flashbacks where, logically, there should not be any dramatic tension. We know what happened in the accident and that appearances to the contrary, it did not kill either Kang-doo or Moon-soo. Of course, they know that too. They can probably tell when they're dreaming, too. That doesn't make the trauma of those memories any less real - especially not the feeling that they caused the tragedy, somehow.
Moon-soo is profiled in fuller perspective here as far as that goes. We saw what happened immediately post-rescue, and the whole scene is brutal. Moon-soo's mom Yoon-ok (played by Yoon Yoo-sun) completely melts down. Her dad Dong-cheol (played by Ahn Nae-sang) tries his best to keep everything together, but there's only so much he can do. We can see the past versions of these character well-reflected in the present day, with Yoon-ok becoming ever so gradually more unhinged while Dong-cheol sinks into further detachment.
An interesting omission in the flashback department is what life was like for Moon-soo's family before the accident. Her parents have such wildly different temperaments they may well have been on the outs even before the accident happened. Unfortunately, Moon-soo is ideologically trapped into wanting to reshape the broken pieces of her life into something resembling the old. But as she is explicitly told, erasure is just plain impossible.
Meanwhile Kang-doo continues to see the whole world as fundamentally rotten - the accident was just the pivotal moment that woke him up to this unfortunate reality. Kang-doo's sense of pragmatism especially is disturbing. Most dramas make a point of having their hero stand tall and prideful. "Just Between Lovers" instead chooses to brutally acknowledge that to people without money, financial security is everything. What's a moment of quickly forgotten indignity compared to the prospect of not having to worry about rent for the next several months?
There's also a great sense of intersectionality where we see that Kang-doo's exploitative economic adventures directly tie into social issues. Like women. There's an entire subculture centered around lower class women entertaining richer men in nightclub fashion. Are we really to believe that just because Moon-soo happens to be an architect, that her co-workers still do not think of her as a woman much like them? The way Moon-soo's best friend Wan-jin (played by Park Hee-bon) just casually discusses an awful life experience which proves that men are pigs is eerily reminiscent of Kang-doo's cynicism.
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 2"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
[Interview] "This Life Is Our First Life" Jung So-min's Character Helped Her to Grow
In an interview with Jung So-min, Newsen reports that she is a solid decision maker. She wanted a ,...More
Lee Joon-hyuk, Lee Yoo-bi, and Gong Myung Consider "A Poem a Day"
tvN sources have a potential line up for "A Poem a Day" with Lee Yoo-bi as Woo Bo-yeong, Lee Joon-,...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.