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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "539 Yeonnam-dong" Episode 4

2018/01/31 | Permalink

In lieu of doing a small number of focused plots, this episode of "539 Yeonnam-dong" just does a large number of very tangentially related plots that don't have much pay-off. Instead of getting a new cybercrimes case to investigate, Bong-tae just ends up victim to a random accident. Incidentally, this accident was a much bigger deal than the drama lets on. Tasers may not be lethal but cops should still use them responsibly.

This storyline sort of segues into I-na very briefly dealing with a scam artist at the fitness center. That entire storyline takes place over a single scene, though, so it's kind of hard to get that invested in it. By contrast, I was really digging the sexist comments about how women of a certain age should get married. I didn't agree with the sentiment, obviously, those were just really good examples of the kinds of rude discussion women are just expected to have to endure.

But again, that was just two scenes worth of discussion, only slightly better in terms of development. The closest thing to a seriously developed storyline is the joke about the four Chinese character nautically inspired proverb Jordan keeps trying and failing to remember. Even that's just a one-two-three gag though, that seems more complicated than it really is owing to the inherent difficulty of explaining in English what a four Chinese character expression is in the Korean language.

I did like the way Do-hee has to struggle over money, or gaining any kind of career success in the brutal South Korean employment environment. The interview almost seems like sexism, except...well there's just no getting around it. Do-hee's make-up looks terrible. I can't really blame the interviewers for treating her dismissively. I'd expect the same reaction if a bald guy walked into the interview wearing a very bad toupée.

More than the problem of the lack of focus is just the fact that this episode of "539 Yeonnam-dong" just wasn't that funny. Yes yes, I know it's a situation drama, not a situation comedy, but in absence of any kind of serious plot jokes are about the only way to keep matters interesting. They're also a good way of showing how the various housemates are able to bond with each other, through the device of general comedic banter. I don't really want romantic banter, though. Like I-na says, she's happy being alone, so more happy to her for that.

Review by William Schwartz

"539 Yeonnam-dong" is directed by  Min Yeon-hong, written by Park Ga-yun and features Lee Jung-shin, Seo Ji-hoon, Lee Yeol-eum, and Kim Sun-young-III.

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