After a lot of false starts Moon-soo and Kang-doo are finally starting to spend a lot more time with each other. I like how, even though "Just Between Lovers" has an obviously contrived situation designed to reunite them, it still takes a lot of prodding to get them to willingly spend time together. Moon-soo and Kang-doo are fundamentally suspicious people and more than a desire for companionship, it's burning curiousity about that song which ultimately compels Moon-soo to search Kang-doo out.
But even that is only relevant in off hours. Moon-soo and Kang-doo are on a daily basis consumed with the construction project. What's more, this isn't really as common an interest as you'd expect, because Moon-soo and Kang-doo understand the project on completely different levels. Moon-soo's eye for architectural design completely flies over Kang-doo's head. Meanwhile, Kang-doo's more practical concerns are inconceivable to Moon-soo, because no one is willing to pick a fight with her.
That's one way Jo-won is an ambiguous character. We can see that he's on the receiving end of a decent amount of abuse as well, yet does everything he can to protect Moon-soo from becoming cognizant of the project's darker aspects. It's hard to tell whether this kindness is borne of romantic feelings or workplace pragmatism, although realistically speaking it's probably a combination of both. The icy sentiment between Jo-won and his other female co-workers demonstrates how whether it's because of job role or personal familiarity, Jo-won sees Moon-soo very differently.
Jo-won's interaction with both sides of the project also helps illustrate that differences between Moon-soo and Kang-doo's worldview. Moon-soo thinks of her job as a place to make friends, because they are all united by common purpose. Kang-doo thinks of his job as a means of making money, because his interactions with management on the project is constantly defined by technical factors relating to funding. That is, when sheer selfish pride isn't the main defining factor.
The love story here is compelling because it's not just a meeting of the minds between different personalities. Moon-soo and Kang-doo have fundamentally different views of the world at large, both of which were formed largely by their experiences in the collapsed building disaster. The more we see them talk to each other, the more we see them getting a little closer to understanding how it is possible for people to take radically different interpretations of the same series of events.
Review by William Schwartz
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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 4"
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