Deok-in (played by Kim Jung-eun) is an ex-cop who runs a snack shop next to the local school. Jin-woo (played by Song Chang-eui) is a math teacher who does his best to keep his students in line. Together, they fight bullying. Well, eventually. They don't actually know each other as the drama opens- a fact Deok-in takes memorable advantage of in one scene to teach those kids a lesson in plausible deniability.
Kim Jung-eun really wears several hats here, actually. On one level Deok-in's just a really tough middle-aged woman who has a very low tolerance for delinquent behavior. But that's only true to the extent she has the ability to stop it. "Make a Woman Cry" quickly recognizes that there's really only so much that Deok-in can really do. One late scene has her break down at the school realizing to her disgust and frustration that the bullying is able to persist mainly because, willfully or not, people and especially teenagers are willing to turn a blind eye to it.
This gives Deok-in and Jin-woo a hard-case/straight-edge dynamic that's particularly odd because it's not really being used for the sake of comedy. Jin-woo sort of comes off as a clueless dork- no big surprise that a math teacher can't grasp finer social subtleties. Even so, Jin-woo is still willing to make an effort. Unfortunately he gets relatively little screen time here, and most of the energy is taken up by the rich family.
The rich family is without a doubt the biggest weakness. In the first place it takes way too long to figure out what their story has to do with Deok-in- the main interesting character. But even when that relevance is finally established looking back on these scenes we're really just left with one of the most generic rich jerk families that I can ever recall seeing. To some extent staple tropes like the water insult are unavoidable- even so, that doesn't make them any more fun to watch.
Although it is possible that this storyline suffers to some extent simply from having to compete with Deok-in for attention. I really like Deok-in. She's assertive and tough. And as the cliffhanger demonstrates, Deok-in is way more interested in taking action than she is in standing around and just hoping everything is going to resolve on its own. So far "Make a Woman Cry" is pulling off everything I was hoping for from the promos- let's hope it keeps moving in that direction.
Review by William Schwartz
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] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 1"
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