Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan have a very odd dynamic as lovers. They never really feel like lovers at all- they feel like friends who are making a self-conscious effort to act like lovers. Which is not a bad thing. Friends will put up with behavior that would be intolerable in a lover. And Ri-hwan, rather than sulk grumpily, is genuinely pretty good at having a fun time. But all of this can't erase the fact that the only real difference between Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan as lovers compared to Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan as friends is that whole ominous look down the alley.
While their scenes are terribly cute, oddly enough because this is just more of the same, Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan aren't really that interesting this episode. That prize goes I-seul. We've had a pretty good look at I-seul's life overall, but lying here in the wake of rejection, one fact has become pretty difficult to avoid. Most of the people in I-seul's life are jerks. Most of the people in I-seul's past life are also jerks. Ri-hwan might be the only genuinely nice person I-seul has ever met.
Not that this matters. I-seul is so used to disappointment that she just...well, I-seul just looks really sad. But it's not a crying kind of sadness it's more, well, I have to go through this again that's just dandy. The scene at the gallery is especially touching because at first glance the painting I-seul is looking at isn't even that good a painting. But then the scene fades out and that's when we realize that, oh, it's not the painting itself that I-seul admires. She's thinking about the real-life context for the picture.
I-seul is a very relevant character, given her lack of screentime. I-seul has felt like she's never had a decent chance at happiness. The worst of it is that I-seul's probably right about that. This gives a very ephemeral feeling to the scenes featuring Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan. It's like, they should enjoy this time while they have it, because it's probably not going to last forever.
Really. Even by the end of the episode we get several reminders of how life goes on when lovers aren't together. The world doesn't just float by in a happy daze. Other people still exist, and life is awkward. Even the minor subplots between the third string characters do a lot to emphasize this. Romances of convenience are in many ways an escape from other more tangible problems. And often, these more tangible problems take the form of past romances of conveniences.
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 6"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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