[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Adult Trainee" Episodes 3-4
By William Schwartz | Published on
The second story of "Adult Trainee" isn't quite self-contained. Or at least, the end of the fourth episode was way more ambiguous than the one at the end of the second episode. But more importantly the story in general is a lot less interesting. Yoo-ra (played by Jo Yoo-jung) is a high school student who's still nursing her pride from a nasty breakup. So for somewhat convoluted reasons, she enlists the aide of her longtime friend Nam-ho (played by Ryeoun) to pretend to be her boyfriend.
Eye-rollingly common as this cliche may be, there are a few interesting snags to this premise. Nam-ho has known Yoo-ra for quite some time- and throughout all that time, Nam-ho has consistently been rude to Yoo-ra. Nam-ho is a talented athlete, with a comically buff physique. It's also implied he has had his fair share of girlfriends. So the existing relationship between Yoo-ra and Nam-ho is quite functional. They know where they stand with each other, and are fairly good at communicating.
There's also a worthwhile explanation for Yoo-ra's behavior, when she can finally bring herself to open up to Nam-ho about it. What bothers Yoo-ra about her first failed relationship was that it just didn't seem like a big deal- not to her, and not to him. This is frustrating because Yoo-ra was taking it seriously. Her first love's lack of emotional attachment disgusts Yoo-ra- possibly more as a self-reflection than she's willing to admit.
I have to qualify that with a "possibly" because "Adult Trainee" doesn't actually delve into the subject very satisfactorily. For most these two episodes of "Adult Trainee" just feature Yoo-ra and Nam-ho going out on fake dates and even a fake overnight trip for the sake of keeping up appearances. Though convincing friends, Jo Yoo-jung and Ryeoun don't have good chemistry as lovers. While they look like high school students, they don't really act like them. There's too much of a try-hard element.
Their story isn't particularly bad, mind you, it's just a bit of a let-down from the powerful nuance of the first story's aloof treatment of pornography and masturbation. While we learned a lot about Jae-min over the course of his experiment, we know surprisingly little about Yoo-ra, despite her receiving almost the exact same amount of screentime. Nam-ho loves soccer while Yoo-ra just thinks a lot about...not thinking about boys. This may be plausible teenage behavior but it's not terribly engaging.
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 email@example.com. 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.