The lack of a general plot finally catches up with "My Unfortunate Boyfriend" here. To be entirely honest the competing corporate team aspect of the drama has been in such low focus I've kind of forgotten what the stakes even are. There's not anything for the story to really build up to at this point, because all of the focus has been on the romantic plotlines. And to a lesser extent, the backstory that gives these relationships important subtext.
But it is very good subtext. Consider Ji-na's reaction to learning about Tae-woon's backstory. Actually, the issue here is less Tae-woon's backstory as it is the moral issues regarding the man who explains to Ji-na what's going on. Ji-na has always had ambitions of rising above her own parents' rather humble moral station in life. And yet given a clear look at the kind of ethical decisions are eventually necessary to prosper in the corporate world, well, that gives Ji-na even more pause than usual.
This is especially relevant in Tae-woon's backstory, because as Ji-na discovers here, Tae-woon is, on top of everything else, a child of privilege. It's not information that's obvious because Tae-woon is an orphan, even if he's never had to worry about financial considerations. But seeing Tae-woon in flashback with his parents really sells how little this had to do with the man's personality. Even as a child Tae-woon was just so...cheerful.
At first glance the childhood meeting between Tae-woon and Ji-na just seems to be fulfilling the standard destiny tropes common in romantic comedies. What it really establishes, though, especially in contrast with the modern day scene, is that Tae-woon has always been that hopeful optimistic kid reaching for the sky. Ji-na, by contrast, stays on the ground and grumpily helps more out of obligation rather than joy.
The vague narrative is a slight problem in "My Unfortunate Boyfriend", but this is more than compensated for by how well and fully realized the lead characters are. Ji-na is, for all her protestations, a person that's easy to understand. And that's what bothers her, because it's true. She is the kind of woman who doesn't talk to her parents. She is the kind of woman who is embarassed about her relationship with Tae-woon. And yet there's a genuine heart underlying her actions, a desire to do better, that makes Ji-na an easy character to like for all her flaws. Ji-na is trying. And that's what really matters.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Unfortunate Boyfriend" Episode 12"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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