It should come as little surprise that for the final episode "Hogu's Love" goes for the obnoxious sitcom antics that have characterized the bulk of the drama's run rather than the emotional heart that's been far more lacking lately. The first segment of the episode is devoted to the immensely creepy plan by Hogu and friends to get him back together with Do-hee. Seriously? It's supposed to be reassuring that they deliberately trick Do-hee into thinking she's a homewrecker?
The kiss on the road is supposed to be a bookend. And yet all it did was remind me that Do-hee has been nothing but trouble from the minute Hogu decided to go after her. She's been hostile, uncommunicative and a major intrusion in Hogu's life. And what has he ever gotten in return? Do-hee crying every once in awhile, revealing her emotional vulnerability, and that's supposed to make up for how miserable it's been for them to be together? And let's forget the baby in that analysis- goodness knows writer Yoon Nan-joong never treated that plot point seriously.
Nor, for that matter, is the rape given any similar serious emotional weight. That issue is practically "solved" in a throwaway segment at the end, which rather insultingly acts as if pointing out the inconsistencies in Do-hee's story is a function of rape culture, rather than just the natural result of a narrative that's been horribly contrived for dubious moral purposes. And have we ever even gotten anything that could reasonably be called an ethical catharsis?
No. We just have Kang-cheol figure out that he's not really gay after all. Well that's just great. Everyone gets their nice fluffy happy ending in spite of doing absolutely nothing to indicate they've even slightly grown up as a result of these experiences. At the beginning of "Hogu's Love" the implication was clearly that we were going to explore the flaws in nice guy white knight fantasies. Incredibly, the overall dramatic thrust has ended up validating those simplistic ideas in multiple plotlines.
"Hogu's Love" isn't just bad. It's so bad, on the total narrative level, that I haven't even been bothering to nitpick. National swim teams take their marching orders from government commissions, not ad agencies. Incidentally, national sports commissions have zero tolerance for even the appearance of sexual impropriety. And pregnancy is a big physical deal- no one in a serious one-dimensional sport like international swimming can expect to have one (let alone two) kids during their peak years and still be competitive. I only mention these facts now for the sake of completion. So many critical errors in "Hogu's Love", so few words to attack them.
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] "Hogu's Love" Episode 16 Final"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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