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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "This Life Is Our First Life" Episode 14

2017/11/21

Jeong-min (played by Lee Chung-ah) is Se-hee's ex-girlfriend. She's also Ji-ho's career savior, having taken it upon herself to resolve the unforunate circumstances of Ji-ho's last writing job personally. The sheer goofy elaborateness of this coincidence, along with the obvious feminist undertones, are reminiscent of screenwriter Yoon Nan-joong's previous drama "Hogu's Love"- although I may have been primed to notice this due to the appearance of a couple of easter eggs referencing that work.

Honestly, though, I have mentally compared "This Life Is Our First Life" to "Hogu's Love" in the past for exactly those reasons. Luckily "This Life Is Our First Life" has consistently been a superior piece of work because the overall production has far more holistic design. Observe how two of the three plotlines culminate in violent revenge against a sexual harasser, in wildly differing contexts. Is this wish fulfillment? Well...yeah, and that bit made me a bit uncomfortable, considering that one of them, at least, appeared to understand that his actions were inappropriate.

But the overall comparison is still useful because it lets us see how different people, or different relationships, will react to similar problems with a radically different outlook on what is the proper reaction. Se-hee's actions in general confound Jeong-min, who never knew him to act like that. Then again, even we have found Se-hee's violent outbursts out of character, and that's the whole point. Se-hee has limits that are surprisingly easy to exceed considering that, at Jeong-min's prompting, he has been repressing himself emotionally.

Now Soo-ji, she's been able to repress herself emotionally on her own without any help from anyone else. That's why it's legitimately really cute to watch her take a different approach to harassment than usual, and come back sincerely giddy and happy to Song-goo. Apparently, it's more satisfying for Soo-ji to act like she has self-worth than it is for her to be cool and well-liked. Who could have guessed?

Then in the background we have Ho-rang and Won-seok breaking up with a surprisingly great deal of sincerity. They both have plausible love interests, even as everything about the break-up screams that their problems are entirely a result of their being awful communicators. Ho-rang in particular has a very frustrating scene where she explicitly talks about the abstract concept of marriage with her new paramour. It never once occurs to Ho-rang that her situation with Won-seok is largely a consequence of their mutually failing to explain what exactly they even want.

Review by William Schwartz

"This Life Is Our First Life" is directed by Park Joon-hwa, written by Yoon Nan-joong and features Lee Min-ki, Jung So-min, Esom, Park Byung-eun, Kim Ga-eun, and Kim Min-suk.

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