Joo-won (played by Lee Ki-woo) is the manager for operations on the big construction job that Moon-soo and Kang-doo are attached to. He's also the second male lead alternative love interest for Moon-soo. His role there is somewhat ambiguous. While Joo-won is painstakingly nice, and compassionate about any problems affecting Moon-soo directly, he never does anything especially constructive (hoho) about the foundational issues of the project. This has always been the case whether the issue has been shady financial backing or cutting corners on workplace safety.
In short, Joo-won is the nice boss who is just nice enough that he keeps Moon-soo from noticing how incredibly predatory the overall project actually is, even if it does eventually produce something of value. Joo-won is yet another great capitalism metaphor in a drama that already has several. I like how creepy it is that "Just Between Lovers" keeps showing us how easily preventable bad things can happen without anyone expressing direct malice.
Joo-won is the poster boy for the philosophy of decorum- that everything will be OK as long as everyone acts nice to each other. This ignores that certain people, especially those who lack the ability to hurt other people politely, are always stepped on by those who can. Kang-doo is aggressive mostly to keep people from thinking they can step on him too. Moon-soo has been spared this fate so far, although Wan-jin is not so lucky.
I forgot to mention, in addition to being Moon-soo's generally assertive best friend, Wan-jin is also a chronically wheelchair bound webtoon artist. Her whole character is an obvious irony. While granted a certain degree of economic autonomy by her isolated profession, Wan-jin is still trapped in the same world as everyone else. Socially speaking Wan-jin's illness makes life even worse than her, which begs the question. Is verbal assertiveness just Wan-jin's coping mechanism for her inability to physically assert herself?
Of more immediate interest is that Wan-jin briefly meets Kang-doo here, and takes an immediate liking to him. Granted, Wan-jin is not the best judge of character, as we have seen, but it's an excellent illustration of how brusque manner notwithstanding, Kang-doo can always be counted on to immediately do the right thing with no expectation or even desire for reward. Which makes sense when you consider that desire for reward is an inherently capitalist concept. In Kang-doo's mind, expecting a reward would cheapen the gesture.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Just Between Lovers" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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