The ambience in "Bubble Gum" is pretty consistently excellent. Director Kim Byeong-soo is consistently able to maintain a powerful dreamlike quality to the drama that persists so well, we're actually able to stay in focus pretty easily with Seon-yeong through the latter part of the episode as she slips forward and backward in time. Life as portrayed in "Bubble Gum" is less a series of concrete events and more a sort of continuum where life changes ever so slowly without anyone really realizing it.
One issue with this kind of storytelling is that it's frequently really, really difficult to tell what's actually happening in "Bubble Gum" as far as the story is concerned. The closest thing we've really had to conflict was Seon-yeong's opposition to Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah having a relationship, and now that plot point doesn't really even exist anymore. What else is there to focus on? I-seul acting depressed? I'm kind of tired of watching that at this point mostly because I-seul's scenes just end up making me feel depressed too.
There is some movement with the the third-string storylines, although the very fact that these are third-string storylines makes it difficult for me to get that invested in them. All I can really respond with is, hey, don't you listen to those jerks Se-yeong. You've still got it, and nobody would care if you were a man. Also Joon-soo is adorable and I like it whenever he's on-screen.
In broader perspective I'm increasingly getting the feeling that "Bubble Gum" is likely to be a more satisfying drama to watch than appreciate, if that makes any sense. I keep getting reminded of "Sensible Love", which started about this time last year. Even though that drama too frequently had moments of profound beauty, eventually "Sensible Love" didn't seem to have any idea what kind of statement it wanted to make, and I can barely even remember the ending.
"Bubble Gum" still has time to get onto more coherent footing, although the cliffhanger here doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. The dementia storyline is handled much better here than it was in "Sensible Love", mostly because there was appropriate foreshadowing, but even so I feel like director Kim Byeong-soo is distracting us from a fairly standard melodrama storyline by using excessively beautiful visuals. While that might work for now, "Sensible Love" is a good case in point for how it can't work forever.
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 9"
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