So Kang-doo and Moon-soo appears to have broken up, or are at least fighting in such a way that they seem headed for a break-up. The actual reason for the fight is not important. This was just one of those dumb petty fights that couples get into because they have an emotionally charged moment and separate on bad terms. Then, unwilling to imply in even the vaguest way that they might have been wrong, they stubbornly refuse to make up.
The ongoing fight is difficult to watch, but not for any direct reason. Rather, the scarier part is that we can see Kang-doo and Moon-soo both thinking, well, would a break-up really be so bad? I got along without this person before, surely I can do it again. They see the placidity of their current situation and confuse that for what their life is like in general. In reality we can remember what Kang-doo and Moon-soo were doing before they met each other. It was nothing all that fun.
But the other characters don't realize that. And for the most part they don't especially care either. Note how the only characters who have seen much of Kang-doo and Moon-soo together are Moon-soo's best friend Wan-jin and Kang-doo's best friend Sang-man (played by Kim Kang-hyun). Both of these characters are themselves quite isolated in the overall cast, though, having no friends we see besides the leads.
So it's not their imminently sensible judgment that Kang-doo and Moon-soo turn to. Instead, they think in the broader perspective. They think of other characters who "know" the most because they have the most life experience. Kang-doo and Moon-soo are ultimately driven apart because they keep trying to think of their relationship in too logical a manner. Even minor attempts at reconciliation are ultimately simply too minor to come off as the sincere emotional plea that's necessary right now.
I was actually quite relieved when melodramatic backstory was used to force one of our normally soft-spoken leads into drastic action. The whole episode was just one giant painful mistake being made in slow motion. It's all too easy to look at Kang-doo and Moon-soo being stubborn, and seeing that reflected in our own life experiences. Even on the boat we can see it reflected on their faces, the sudden realization that everything Kang-doo and Moon-soo had thought was important, just wasn't, and why did they spend so much effort lying to themselves about that?
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 9"
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