Kang-doo has been forced to acknowledge the death of someone he genuinely, deeply cared about. Kang-doo does not take the news very well, and most of this episode is just an exercise in the other characters trying their best to calm him down. Which works, sort of. After an initial violent outburst Kang-doo is quite subdued, and seems willing to accept that which was always inevitable. But one way or another, Kang-doo always twists the situation around so as to maximize the self-hatred.
This is something all the other characters have long since figured out. Even the deceased Na Moon-hee character puts it pretty bluntly in her final letter, ordering Kang-doo to be happy. That really is what it takes to even get Kang-doo to try and think in terms of self-interest. Anything more subtle than that and Kang-doo's just too thick-headed to get the point. The Na Moon-hee character was important mainly because she was the only character willing to be that direct with him.
Contrast Moon-soo, who keeps trying to get Kang-doo to open up by being nice to him, to which he responds by pushing her away. Moon-soo's main virtue is her near infinite sense of patience. Well, it helps that Moon-soo knows what Kang-doo does to people he really sincerely hates, but what's really sweet about Moon-soo is that she believes in Kang-doo. Moon-soo knows that Kang-doo is a good person, and can see how much he has improved since they first met.
The problem, and really all of the conflict, comes from the fact that Kang-doo refuses to believe that he is a good person. Logic really isn't at issue her. There was no way Kang-doo could have stopped the Na Moon-hee character from dying, and he knows that. The real issue is that Kang-doo doesn't have any way of coping with grief except to dip into self-hatred, because that was the main critical traumatic memory he received from the accident. Self-hatred is his immediate response to everything.
As great as "Just Between Lovers" is as a character study, I have to admit it was with relief that by the end writer Yoo Bo-ra has gotten back to the drama's original enemy- capitalism. Although admittedly the construction project is quite a bit more ambiguous now, since we've had so many scenes reminding us that the people there, too, are in the end just people. Not necessarily noble ones but still, flawed, in somewhat sympathetic ways.
Review by William Schwartz
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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] "Just Between Lovers" Episode 11"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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