This far in I'm honestly a little surprised at how much I don't like most of the characters in "Drinking Alone". To write that I dislike them is probably a little harsh, but all the same, I can't come up with any good reason for Jeong-seok and Ha-na to be together. Shoot, I can't think of any good reason for Jeong-seok to be together with anyone. Does he seriously need to obsess about quality every waking moment? That was never a charming personality trait in the first place, and now it's just plain annoying.
But Ha-na has similar issues. While Jeong-seok is being a bit of a jerk in giving Ha-na the cold shoulder, at least he's being professional. Dating anyone in an office environment is a bad idea, but Ha-na's relative social rank compared to him is low enough to easily qualify as sexual harassment. Ha-na, by contrast, continuously fails the most basic functions of her job. The borderline celebrity nature of the work is probably the only reason Ha-na hasn't just been fired.
Even Jin-i is showing herself to be an increasingly static character. The extent to which Jin-i is desperate to escape her job, even if it involves falling on the mercy of a boyfriend who really doesn't seem all that into her, is legitimately fairly worrying, and Ha-na is enabling a lot of this behavior by refusing to comment on it while still accompanying Jin-i for drinks. Friends do need to communicate with each other after all.
And curiously enough it's this saving grace that allows me to not hate Gi-beom this episode even as he's the most explicit jerk. Because at least Gi-beom is capable of communicating his feelings, however negative or misdirected they may be. Unfortunately this episode suffers in general from having very little focus on the students. Which is part of the point- Gi-beom is annoyed because he has no idea what's going on with Myeong and Chae-yeon and they're not telling him.
All the same the teachers really fail to pick up the slack. The closest we get to profundity is Jin-woong's reasonably sad storyline, although even that is awkwardly disconnected when taken in concert with Ha-na's actions. Jin-woong is focused on work is his main fault. While there is a definite overriding sense in "Drinking Alone" that work is not and should not be everything, so far the drama has not really foreshadowed any plausible alternatives.
Review by William Schwartz
"Drinking Alone" is directed by Choi Gyoo-sik and Jeong Hyeong-geon, written by Baek Seon-woo, Choi Bo-rim and Myeong Soo-hyeon, and features Ha Seok-jin, Hwang Woo-seul-hye, Park Ha-sun, Min Jin-woong, Kim Won-hae, Gong Myung and Key.
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] "Drinking Alone" Episode 10"
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