Haeng-ah is an unusual character in that the actions which best illustrate her personality are not the ones where she interacts with other people, but rather where she's by herself. Haeng-ah is a fairly good case of arrested development. For a long time she's been floating in this weird space where she doesn't actually have to answer to any kind of familial authority. Ri-hwan, after all, is not her real brother, so consequently, he can't really discipline her.
And yet for all this Haeng-ah appears to be a perfectly capable personality around the workplace. The contrast is not so stark as it may initially seem. When adults behave like children, to a large extent it's because they believe there aren't going to be meaningful consequences. Haeng-ah knows what she can get away with, and with who. We see here that to some extent this is how she got involved with Seok-joon in the first place. Seok-joon is annoyed by Haeng-ah's behavior, but he won't directly verbalize it because. If Seok-joon did that would be admitting that he wants something.
"Bubble Gum" is in general a bit of a strange drama in that I don't really recognize the characters as archetype. I find them easy to understand as people mainly because I've met similar people in real life. Take I-seul as another example. She's not the kind of bashful obviously-has-a-crush shy that's predominant in fiction. I-seul is just genuinely really shy, and even in the face of direct familial pressure, can't bring herself to flirt with Ri-hwan because that runs contrary to the behavior I-seul is comfortable with.
The big flaw with this storytelling is that there's not actually all that much storytelling to do. Outside of I-seul none of the characters are dealing with anything that could be called an immediate conflict. Ri-hwan struggles with trying to figure out how much effort he should be putting into getting Haeng-ah to get her act together, but it seems like this is something that he's been trying and failing to do their entire adult lives. Why should it be any different now?
One fact about "Bubble Gum" is definitely clear by now- this is not a drama for those interested in dynamic plotting. A decent chunk of time here quite simply involves a character staring at a cake. The purpose of the scene is to foster contemplation in the viewer- when was the last time you stared at a cake, wondering whether you were doing the right thing before ultimately deciding not to make a serious change in your attitude? "Bubble Gum" is by no means boring, but surprisingly little actually happens in this drama.
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 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 9
Yeon-hee (played by Jung Yoo-mi) was, at first glance, just Ttang-sae's motivation to become invol,...More
"Imaginary Cat" Yoo Seung-ho and Cho Hye-jung's first script reading
Cho Hye-jung and Yoo Seung-ho got together for the script reading of "Imaginary Cat". Pictures we,...More
Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$0.99 monthly or US$7.99 yearly (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up.