Ho-rang (played by Kim Ga-eun) is Ji-ho's second best friend. Ho-rang lacks much in the way of ambition. She just wants to love her boyfriend Won-seok (played by Kim Min-suk) forever and ever. Unfortunately, their reverie is broken up by something very...technical. If you have ever had a significant other that gets angry when you try to do nice things in the wrong way or vice-versa, you'll understand the conflict in their relationship.
What's really surprising, though, is that a far more explicitly clichéd conflict is clearly telegraphed- and then ignored, because Ho-rang implicitly trusts her boyfriend as well as her girlfriends. Ho-rang is completey emotionally satisfied, yet in the end she just wants more. That is, of course, not a fair appraisal of the situaton at all, but it's the rationalization Ji-ho needs to make her loony marriage scheme work, so that's the one she takes.
Once more we have that wonderful dark irony, between the fundamentally cynical people Ji-ho and Se-hee have become, versus the actually conventionally happy people they want their parents to see. Everything about the visit with Ji-ho's parents is pitch perfect- observe how all the preparation Ji-ho and Se-hee do is referenced in the meeting, but in mixed format. The ultimate plan (that is constructed on the fly) is negotiated between the two, such that even the made up parts come off as entirely sincere.
The plot in "This Life Is Our First Life" is constructed in similar fashion. Even knowing that everything in the script is an obvious embellishment of realistic scenarios, the overall product is so utterly convincing the discrepancies are easy to ignore. Ji-ho and Se-hee are happy when they are together. They are not making each other happy in a way that can at all be accurately described in terms of romantic love, but so what? How great can classical romantic love be when Ho-rang and Won-seok can have an awful fight on such notice?
And yet, it's these foibles that are so endearing. Kim Byung-ok continues to impress as Ji-ho's put upon dad, who inspires tension in all the people around him. I still can't get past that visual of Jong-soo and Jong-soo alone having a soju bottle at the dinner table. The guy looks and acts like an absolute nut. Yet for all that, he is still a fundamentaly charming and charmable character provided you know how he works.
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] "This Life Is Our First Life" Episode 4"
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