Sin-Na (played by Choi Jung-yoon) has lived the life of a cosmopolitan, interesting, and accomplished woman, who has made her name as the author of a novel called First Love. She's lived in the United States and presumably done interesting things there, having a son that speaks perfect English. And then here's Hyeong-Goo (played by Kim Tae-hoon), living his fairly normal unremarkable life as just a gruff high school teacher, his only apparent claim to fame being that he's the inspiration behind her novel. Even though Hyeong-Goo is the main character of this drama, his apparent existence only seems relevant as it compares to her life.
"Drama Festival - Boy Meets Girl" is about the dark side of nostalgia. It gives its viewer a clear presumption that the drama's two obvious romantic plots, one about love just beginning and one about rekindling an old spark, will naturally gravitate toward an inevitable happy ending. But there's almost no actual evidence to support this conclusion. Take the title of her novel. For something to be a First Love, that implies something else will come afterwards.
But neither the viewer, nor the characters, have any real reason to want to look out for these signs. Life goes on at the high school in much the same way it did before Sin-Na arrived, and it's not a bad life, really. But wouldn't it be ever-so-wonderful if something amazing and story-like happened? Wouldn't that be a complete and satisfying experience right until the end?
It probably would, sure. But wanting something to be true doesn't make it real. And that's the moment that this drama expands and details so excellently- not a love story, but that extended euphoric feeling of just choosing to believe that something is a love story even when it's not. It's a harsh, but true message, and the story structure does all it can to mimic the ups and downs effectively. It's a curious storyline that, rather than engage in character development, deliberately avoids character development because, well, sometimes we just don't really want to grow as people.
Take the climactic scene when everything is settled once and for all. It's at that moment when it is established, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the many characters who make up this story have been viewing it through a completely different narrative lens. Some of them are crushed, but they all get up and move on. Because the simple fact of the matter is that being disappointed about something that was probably a pretty dumb idea to begin with isn't really as horrible as it seems at the moment. But the energy we expend on it is nonetheless an embarassment not to be ignored- and consequently, a story worth telling.
Review by William Schwartz
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Festival - Boy Meets Girl""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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