[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Adult Trainee" Episodes 1-2
By William Schwartz | Published on
In this era of unapologetic sex positivity, "Adult Trainee" makes the bold move of having its first two episodes be a self-contained story about the value in abstaining from masturbation. The timing of fortuitous, if probably coincidental, as we are in the midst of No Nut November. But in "Adult Trainee" the cause of masturbatory abstention is presented as more ongoing. High school student Jae-min (played by Ryu Ui-hyun) takes it up when his crush, the academically rigorous Ye-kyeong (played by Miyeon) expresses disgust at those who masturbate so excessively as to do it at school too.
The basic arguments for abstaining from masturbation are all here and difficult to argue with. As one satisfied practitioner notes, it's an entire two extra hours in the day that you can be doing basically anything else. There's also the self-confidence factor. Teenagers these days deal with a punishing world over which they have little control. So taking control of biological urges is gratifying. It makes them feel like they can choose their destiny.
There's also male solidarity, as frequent masturbation tends to be an issue that afflicts young men rather than young women. Jae-min is initially portrayed as a bit of a loner, watching pornography in part because he has few other social interactions to speak of. Yet through his online community of men who choose not to pleasure themselves, Jae-min feels like he has friends. The exact reason why isn't as important as the fact that they have a shared goal.
And indeed, despite the goofy impressions Jae-min has of masturbatory abstention giving people literal superpowers, "Adult Trainee" makes it fairly clear that Jae-min's personal efforts are what's empowering him. He works out. He focuses on his art. Most importantly, he actually becomes friends with Ye-kyeong, who encourages the better parts of his personality. By letting go of his obsessions, Jae-min is able to find pleasure in healthy personal interests.
The overall effect is quite sweet, and makes for a charming love story in its own right. As the title implies, Jae-min is in training to become an adult, and has learned important virtues of patience, trust, and inner focus by thinking in terms of long-term goals and the person he wants to be. Can No Nut November help you achieve that? I don't know- but as Jae-min realizes, new ideas are far more stimulative than pornography, if only because they require serious thought and reflection.
Review by William Schwartz
"Adult Trainee" is directed by Jeong Hyeong-geon, Yoo Hak-chan, written by Bang So-min, Jin Yoon-joo, Kim Hyun-min, and features Ryu Ui-hyun, Miyeon, Jo Yoo-jung, Ryeoun, Kwon Young-eun, Kim Min-ki-I. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2021/11/12~Now airing, Fri on TVING.
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. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.