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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Family Outing" Episode 19

2015/03/14

There isn't really much conflict left to speak of at this point. The main remaining article of contention is whether or not Joon-hee and Dong-seok will get together. And for what it's worth, Jeong-sook's opposition to the relationship comes off as pretty well-founded. Joon-hee can't exactly dispute that the way she's acted up until now has at all been appropriate. It's really just a question of whether or not her newfound sincerity is to be believed.

"Family Outing" doesn't break any expectations in terms of predictability or dynamic plotting. But it does manage to be mostly pleasant mainly by not acting overly dramatic. Usually a storyline involving familial opposition to marriage is milked for all the operatic content that it's worth, with clearly defined long-suffering heroes and jerkish villains. What the drama does a good job portraying is that Dong-seok needs parental approval, not because Korean culture is defined by inscrutable Confucian orientalism, but because family is what he really wants.

To put it another way- it would make little sense for Dong-seok to pursue Joon-hee at the expense of his familial relationships, when his attraction to her is mostly founded on the fact that Joon-hee is very well-adjusted Dong-seok's familial context. One of the sadder parts of Joon-hee's story is that all she's ever really wanted is a home to go back to. It's why Joon-hee was so quick to forgive her mother instead of being angry.

We can also put this in the full context of Kkeut-soon's character arc. To date her development has been fairly limited, but this episode makes it clear that Kkeut-soon too has really just been looking for people she can actually care about. This narrative thrust almost comes off as anti-feminist, come to think of it. We have these strong, independent women who give up on their exciting lives of globetrotting for something more domestic.

Of course, that's the problem with a lot of feminist narratives- they fail to take into account the fact that living independently in many ways actually really sucks. And besides, Joon-hee does still have a job- just, you know, one that's not terrible. And Kkeut-soon was going to retire anyway. "Family Outing" has, as of late, done a good job showing the appeal of settling down. I only wish this had been more clearly telegraphed early on, and also that the other subplots were more relevant. As stands we literally get a cliffhanger here about trigger warnings so...yeah, who knows how this is going to go down in the end.

Review by William Schwartz

"Family Outing" is directed by Joo Dong-min, written by Kim Sin-hye and features Lee Jung-hyun, Jin Yi-han, Oh Sang-jin, Park Won-sook, Jung Han-hun and Park Jun-gyu.

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