Kang-doo's meltdown at the construction site, provoked by a random boot, of all things, is the first time we've ever seen Kang-doo get worked up over an emotion that's not righteous indignation. Kang-doo is legitimately scary in this scene. Additionally, as seen from the vantage point of Moon-soo, a fellow survivor with much better emotional control, Kang-doo's actions are much more difficult to justify. It turns out, guilt is the big factor.
"Just Between Lovers" has been toning down the whole class conflict issue lately. On the surface level this would seem to be just to bolster the romance, but really, the main reason is that it forces us to recontextualize Kang-doo's attitude in times of relative peace. While Kang-doo's motivation is generally noble, he is not an easy person to deal with. That Moon-soo is patient enough to try and deal with Kang-doo while he constantly tries to give her the cold shoulder, is a major virtue on her part.
It's very relieving that Kang-doo is around, after all, when we consider the trouble that Kang-doo can get into when she isn't. When Moon-soo and Kang-doo come up with a constructive goal to do in their off-hours, it's pretty obvious that this is the first time in a long time that Kang-doo has been able to sincerely relax. When he does lurch back into old habits, this turns out to be for the better. Rules of politeness, after all, aren't really that important when a person could be in physical danger.
One generally mild issue with all this is that Kang-doo, as a character, is far more dynamic than Moon-soo. His trauma is a lot more worrying because there's the genuine concern that he will go into meltdown mode again. Moon-soo, by contrast, doesn't really have a worst case scenario. Even in the wake of her recurring nightmare Moon-soo is always calm and collected. I do like, by the way, that the dream sequences continue to be frightening even though they always end the exact same way.
It's the little emphases that matter, the tiny details that come to mind only sometimes, and only with the right emotional prompting. Compare that to Joo-won's investigations, that are only ever concerned with the hard facts, and so inevitably missing these important subtleties. The monument, for example, was almost certainly intended in good faith. It's just, faith alone isn't really enough for a survivor who feels to have been betrayed on a much more fundamental level.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Just Between Lovers" Episode 5"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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