Haeng-ah (played by Jung Ryeo-won) works in radio. Her life is kind of...generic. That's not necessarily an insult, it's just been awhile since I saw the first episode of a drama without some kind of obvious hook. As of yet "Bubble Gum" lacks much in the way of clear overriding conflict or even philosopihcal ideas. The most distinctive part of Haeng-ah is quite literally her overalls. Although really, a person can wear whatever ridiculous clothes they want when their job doesn't involve being seen. Believe me, I would know.
There is definitely a pleasant quality about "Bubble Gum", though, just in the sense that because this is normal everyday life, there tend to be a lot of conversations about nothing. Minor lies are blown up into major betrayals less because they're actual betrayals and more because friends don't let friends lie to each other. Give it a few minutes and all is forgiven and it's back to normal conversation.
Even the major actual crisis situation point that comes up at the midpoint is treated less like a life-and-death situation and more like a work hazard. This isn't an issue with tone- this is just how Haeng-ah deals with these kinds of situations. She's sensible and professional while at the same time being human enough to be emotionally affected by what's happening. Haeng-ah is an easy character to relate to as someone who tries to avoid and deal with crisis because crisis is painful and unpleasant.
Haeng-ah is also a fairly introspective woman. She's very cognizant of her own flaws and limitations, which gives an interesting edge to her conversations. Haeng-ah is the kind of person who would rather admit fault than fight with another person to prove some obscure moral point. Her attitude is a surprisingly mature one- it's kind of like Haeng-ah has been through the real-life drama wringer, and come out the other end valuing quick resolution over unsatisfying drawn-out finishes.
I still don't really have a very definite opinion about "Bubble Gum", mainly because I'm not sure where the story is supposed to actually be going. The cliffhanger offers the promise of an important confrontation that's about Haneg-ah but doesn't directly involve her, and doesn't really seem likely to linger that long. And that's followed up with a retrospective exploring the earliest dynamics of Haeng-ah's most important lifelong relationships. Perhaps "Bubble Gum" is moving from reality into dreams- or maybe like "Bubble Gum" itself, the drama's just going to pop.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bubble Gum" is directed by Kim Byeong-soo, written by Lee Mi-na-I and features Lee Dong-wook, Jung Ryeo-won, Lee Jong-hyuk, Park Hee-bon, Bae Jong-ok, Lee Seung-joon and more.
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] "Bubble Gum" Episode 1"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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