Bok-nam (played by Kim Min-kyu) is the second male lead alternate love interest for Ji-ho. His arrival is, all things considered, late, but definitely worth the late. He's Se-hee's opposite in every conceivable way. Bok-nam believes in the importance of fun and only living once. Whereas Se-hee is so obsessed with being supremely logical and sensible about everything most of his deadpan dialogue comes off as an unintentional joke. I liked the bit where Se-hee even explicitly says how long it will take him to pay off the debt, as if this is a somehow sane or normal answer.
But for all his obvious charms, aspects of Bok-nam also feel just a bit off- namely how Ji-ho tells him fairly directly that she is in fact married, yet this does not put Bok-nam off. Further exposition about Bok-nam, especially the scenes where Bok-nam's life philosophy directly chases with Se-hee's, only raises further questions. This all is an especially wonderful contrast with Bok-nam's sheer likability, which is treated with unquestioned reverence by every single character except Ji-ho and Se-hee.
This includes Soo-ji, who rather hilariously gets outraged by Ji-ho's initial descriptions of Bok-nam because they imply sexual harassment. For Soo-ji, of all people, to be concerned by sexual harassment is pitch perfect. But then again, as we see in context, Soo-ji is indeed enduring sexual harassment for a specific goal. There are stakes and risks to confronting this behavior. I loved how the ambuiguity of that situation was explored.
Elsewhere, Ho-rang attempts to needle Won-seok with passive-aggressive behavior. I like how bad Ho-rang's reasoning is here. As in, her whole idea for what they should do with the condoms is explicitly bad, and even dangerous, but it's symbolic of how Ho-rang is trying to make metaphorical arguments rather than practical ones for marriage. I really like Ho-rang and Won-seok- they're adorable, yet oh-so-immature, which is an impediment to their happiness.
It's a nice contrast to how both Se-hee and Ji-ho are logical to an extent that it seems like their happiness is questionable, yet for all their analysis, both seem happy right where they are. Not just Bok-nam, but also Se-hee's token female employee Bo-mi (played by Yoo Bo-mi) are great when it comes to asking simple questions that force Se-hee and Ji-ho to justify themselves, and I especially like how more than creating doubts in their convictions, Se-hee and Ji-ho seem to ultimately come off as more confident for having engaged with serious doubt.
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] "This Life Is Our First Life" Episode 7"
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