As per the format we've seen thus far, Hogu starts out all happy-go-lucky, elated by recent events, until the reality of Do-hee brings him down a peg. Up until now I haven't minded Do-hee's unlikability so much because it seemed like we were going to get some character growth. But...I have to admit that after this episode, I have my doubts. In the first place it's a bit annoying that the big insult ends up being both unintentional and illogical. I eat those snacks all the time, and they cool down pretty fast.
The bigger problems this episode are with politics. Now, to date I've been fascinated by the political questions posed by "Hogu's Love". Here, though, they're so overwhelming that I can barely keep track of all the opinions. We get pro/anti unwed motherhood, pro/anti abortion, pro/anti condom...and these arguments don't even line up consistently like we'd expect. Perplexingly, the best one of the bunch is Kang-cheol's tirade against unwed parenting.
I'm reasonably sure this speech was intended to make us see Kang-cheol as a bad guy. The problem is, everything he says applies almost perfectly to Do-hee's situation- she has, in fact, been hurting other people, draining the system, and rather transparently planned to fail for the baby's future. In the context of this episode, Do-hee never explains her actions even though multiple characters demand one from her. Most frustratingly, Do-hee does explain why she was considering an abortion- and it's not at all clear to me why this is a relevant consideration six months later when the baby's already left the barn door.
What's more, the twist revealed by the ending begs more questions than answers- and I don't mean that in a good way. I thought Do-hee surely must have had some ambiguous feelings toward Kang-cheol, given how all the reasons we were aware of at the time were just screaming that she needed to get the abortion. But apparently their feelings are mutually antipathetical. Look, as much as I hate to admit it, I have to side with Kang-cheol here. Do-hee's thought process makes absolutely no sense.
The worst of it is that most of the new plot points here explicitly contradict the emotional points which made the last episode so strong. About the only sustained quality right now is the humor- which is at times funny, but also equally perplexing. What are we supposed to make of Hogu's bizarre fantasy scene? That maybe Kang-cheol isn't necessarily wrong? That Do-hee really is a damsel in distress? That Hogu isn't as nice as he seems? I honestly have no idea- but it's hard to imagine that the answer to this question is going to in any way be a satisfying one.
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 5"
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