Yeon-woo (played by Han Ye-ri) is a cheery woman who has fond memories of the time she spent as a child in her familial workshop, tinkering with weird stuff and just generally having a fun time in the neighborhood. As an adult, Yeon-woo is still the same basically cheery woman, having fun with both music and tinkering in the same neighborhood. Then a curious crisis comes up, and Yeon-woo seems to decide that she's not actually happy.
Society can be a pretty weird place. Regardless of what we want to do, people can often feel really inadequate just being in a place where other people seem more abstractly successful. Does this actually matter if we're doing something that we want to be doing? Logically, of course, it shouldn't. And yet Yeon-woo can't seem to escape this basic feeling of failure, and ends up resorting to a bizarrely elaborate subterfuge just so she can feel like one of those people who society is supposed to value.
It's strange watching Yeon-woo try to conform like this, because she's an incredibly genuflective woman, and this is completely at odds with the world she's trying to emulate. There's this wonderful shot, where she's just looking out from the veranda of a tall building, and when we see Yeon-woo's face, there's this expression of wonder and appreciation. It's a genuine question whether anyone else in this building has ever actually tried to just look at the view before.
What exactly does Yeon-woo want anyway? Is it approval from other people about who she is, validation that she could be that ideal person if she wanted to? And if so, why is that so important to her? When her life seems so happy at the beginning, and even after the crisis hits there are so little problems, why does she succumb to peer pressure from people she doesn't even know that well? None of these are terribly difficult questions, and yet the drama struggles to find an answer to them. Largely because for plenty of real people, too, there's no good answer.
"Drama Special - Yeon Woo's Summer" is an extremely sweet, introspective look at a character who, apparent nonconformist tendencies aside, is actually quite vulnerable to self-esteem issues at the behest of a world that is highly driven by social class. In one sense, yes, she is fighting against an unfair society. But in broader terminology, Yeon-woo is still the one who is picking up that sword and choosing to fight that battle. And really, what's the point in going to all that trouble when she could just sing a lovely song instead?
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Yeon-woo's Summer""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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