The literal Korean title of "Just Between Lovers" reads as the space between lovers. It's a very instructive title, because most of what we see really is just Kang-doo and Moon-soo spending time together. They don't necessarily do anything. Interpreted in a purely narrative sense Kang-doo and Moon-soo mostly just run errands. Whether or not they succeed in these errands is sort of besides the point, because no individual errand is all that important.
But all of those small moments put together, that creates something significant. Literally, a building is created. Metaphorically, the relationship between Kang-doo and Moon-soo is strengthened because with every minor success they grow more confident in their ability to work together as a team. Kang-doo's scars completely fade at one point, symbolizing how outwardly, at least, he appears to have healed.
Inwardly Kang-doo and Moon-soo can never heal completely. But it's obviously helpful to both of them to discuss their now dead families with someone who can actually understand what that's like. Neither of them have any friends like that. Wan-jin is the closest either of them have to that, but she has her own problems. Wan-jin also has her own joys, and would understand Kang-doo's uncharacteristically sincere heartbreaking hug even less than Moon-soo does.
"Just Between Lovers" is primarily just character study. Even when we do get a major plot twist at the end, the significance is less on whether the allegation is true and more on Kang-doo's reaction to it. I liked how, even though we can see that Kang-doo's behavior has clearly imrpvoed from where he was at the beginning of the drama, it was still too much for Moon-soo. Her zero tolerance response is mainly a factor of how obviously unprofessional it is for a scuffle like this to break out at work.
But does Kang-doo understand that significance? It's really not clear. As is the case when any couple fights, Kang-doo is left with serious doubts about how much damage has been done. Way in the back of his mind, Kang-doo is uncomfortably wondering whether Moon-soo really needs space or whether she'll just be gone forever. Such thinking may be a tad over-paranoid, but remember that the lead characters are continuously haunted by past mistakes regarding events over which they had absolutely no control. Joo-won, and his mere bashfulness, comes off as middling by comparison, even if his shirtless scene most definitely does not.
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 8"
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