Late in this episode, a conversation is had regarding whether a kiss with a longtime platonic friend necessarily means that two are or can potentially be a romantic item. One particularly amusing part of the response is simply, if there's no romantic attachment, why did the kiss happen in the first place? This is the main essential question with which we should look at last episode's cliffhanger and this episode's aftermath. Why did Ri-hwan kiss Haeng-ah?
The very fact that we can go after this question analytically is a pretty good hint of how weird the overall situation. As I saw it, Ri-hwan kissed Haeng-ah less out of romantic interest and more out of a misguided effort to protect her. Ri-hwan can only justify blatantly interfering in Haeng-ah's personal life if he himself is romantically interested in her. The reasoning does make sense- but only logically. Ri-hwan is indisputably better boyfriend material than Seok-joon, and yet Haeng-ah spends most of the episode hesitating over how to respond. Why is that?
Well, the standard stock answer to that question is "the heart alone knows what it wants", but let's be serious here. That, and every other aphorism regarding love, is just a load of hooey. At one point the good old standby "you'll find someone better" comes out, and that line is just as useless and unpersuasive. If love really comes from the heart, why do we find the need to be so darn logical about our decisions to accept or reject declarations of romantic interest? Whatever happened to just taking a chance?
Then again, that's how Haeng-ah ended up with Seok-joon in the first place. Maybe. One issue with workplace romances that we're often loathe to admit is that they're romances of convenience, and for good reason. It's really difficult to get a relative stranger to treat you with anything more than tepid respect. In some sense tepid respect is actually more insulting than explicit rudeness- rudeness, at least, is emotionally honest.
"Bubble Gum" consistently manages to put me in a rather horribly somber mood, to the point I'm not even sure I actually like this drama or not. The characters are too relatable. The backdrop is too beautiful. The music too reflective. My point is, "Bubble Gum" hits way too close to genuine emotion. In most romances the cliffhanger would be a moment of triumph, and yet somehow director Kim Byeong-soo manages to make it seem ominous.
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 5"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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