Jeong-yeon (played by Yoon Yoo-sun) is Joon-hyeong's absentee biological mother. We don't know why she abandoned Joon-hyeong, and we still don't really at the end of this episode. Jeong-yeon's meeting with Joon-hyeong is dominated by awkward albeit optimistic small talk with more concilatory undertones. The inevitable crisis comes when Joon-hyeong discovers the ulterior motive for Jeong-yeon's unannounced visit to Korea, which naturally had nothing to do with him.
In some ways I'm disappointed that "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" lets Jeong-yeon off so easy. Joon-hyeong's real parents (the aunt and uncle) have always been there for him, even covering for Jeong-yeon when she couldn't be bothered to make the slightest effort to acknowledge her son's existence. They don't have names, or even their own subplot because why would they? Joon-hyeong is their life, and they exist to support him.
But my critical instincts are tempered somewhat by how this story, like every story in "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo", exists primarily to function as part of a coming of age drama. Joon-hyeong can't hate his mom, however much she deserves it, because growing up means letting go of his insecurities and focusing on the future. There's no sense stewing in self-hatred when all the people aound Joon-hyeong are fully dedicated to seeing him succeed.
Bok-joo plays an important role in this sad emotional outpouring, remembering how Joon-hyeong went all out for her too. In the wake of good news, Bok-joo can see why Joon-hyeong needs support all the more because he can't be found. It only dawns very late on Bok-joo that her own opportunities pretty much force her into a long-distance relationship with Joon-hyeong when they've only just barely started. This sets up the conflict for the final episode- don't worry, even though the tone of this one is very much that of an epilogue, more of "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" yet remains.
The same goes for all the other subplots which are just barely at the cusp of finishing. I'm not sure what's going on with the Weightlifting Coaches (they act exactly the same as ever), but Dae-ho gets a last-minute love interest as a consolation prize, so there's that. More importantly, Jae-i is slowly but surely figuring out how to act in a consistently persistent way. There's no big scenes outside of Joon-hyeong's though, which is for the better. Nam Joo-hyuk really nails the dramatic acting here and anything else just detracts from that spotlight.
Review by William Schwartz
"Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" is directed by Oh Hyeon-jong, written by Kim Soo-jin-III and Yang Hee-seong, and features Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kyung Soo-jin, Lee Jae-yoon, Lee Joo-young and Cho Hye-jung.
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] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 15"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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