Il-ri's sheer dedication to romantic tropes is both adorable and worrisome. She makes it clear here that in no uncertain terms Hee-tae is her destiny. What came off as cute in the first episode is more troublesome here mainly because it's obvious that Il-ri's following a drama-style playbook without actually having the life experience necessary to realize that these tropes are just the stuff of fantasy. This is just a high school crush that she will one day grow out of.
The reason why the situation escalates, though, is because Hee-tae responds in completely the wrong way. While Il-ri's living out a love story, Hee-tae is trying to be the wise teacher that guides his student into adulthood. Hee-tae completely fails to realize that by showing Il-ri any attention at all, he's validating her essentially unhealthy romantic fixation. It's no wonder Hee-tae is flashing back to these events to better understand how Il-ri ended up cheating on him. From this vantage point her lack of character development is quite palpable.
What forces all of this into the long-term is the accident that makes up the middle movement. When watching the scene where Il-ri and Hee-tae are in danger, note Il-ri's reaction. In one split second, Hee-tae pushes him out of the way. In the next, she stares right into the headlights. Why didn't Il-ri try to save herself? She just stands there. Had she tackled Hee-tae, or at least kept moving forward after he had been pushed to safety, Il-ri would at the very least have endured less serious wounds.
Then answer is simple- because Il-ri is living in a romantic fantasy. And in romantic fantasies, you're supposed to place the needs of your partner above your own. It's nice romantic advice to be sure but the execution of the logic here serves to reaffirm everything Hee-tae knows to be unhealthy about her teenage obsession. The irony is that the severity of the sacrifice is such that Hae-tee can't look past all this and see the essentially immature motivation behind Il-ri's actions.
Consequently, Hae-tee gets wrapped up into the fantasy too. Such that some seven years later, when the possibility of a romantic relationship between the two is no longer creepy, it's unsurprising that both of their nostalgic romantic sentiments are enough to blossom into real, apparent love. Kudos to director Han Ji-seung for particularly playing this up through the use of effective color filtering. Of course, it's the characters that drive all the action here, and it's easy to see how Joon (played by Lee Soo-hyuk) will turn into a serious threat. Even in just a few snippets, he's already done what Hee-tae couldn't- challenge Il-ri's worldview.
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] "Sensible Love" Episode 2"
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