It occurs to me that "Just Between Lovers" has ended without really ever having much of a plot, resting entirely on the strength of its central relationship. So initially it seems a bit unfair that I'm such a fan of "Just Between Lovers" while being very frankly critical of "I'm Not a Robot" when the latter had basically the same design. Observe how Kang-doo gained a terminal medical condition last episode, just so that problem could be solved here. Or not.
And that's where "Just Between Lovers" really has it. The tension. We do not know, up until the very last minute, whether Kang-doo is going to survive past the ending. "Just Between Lovers" has always been a story about mortality and impermanence. While the construction project has fallen by the wayside, that's because in the long run, the construction project was never that important. Joo-won rather hilariously comes to a critical decision about personnel management upon realizing that actually, office politics don't really matter.
It's Sang-man, of all characters, that most easily comes to understand what's important, because mentally challenged as he is, Sang-man only sees what's directly important. Then there's Kang-doo's sister Jae-yeong (played by Kim Hye-joon) who has always been a nagging influence in the background, finally realizing that the main reason Kang-doo doesn't listen to her is his inherent distrust of institutions. These two end up building something far more important than just a big building.
Likewise, Moon-soo realizes that whatever future her life may hold, Kang-doo is just too important to her. Some things in life are just too important to let go of. Any fight, any moment of silence, Kang-doo will always be there with her, just as Moon-soo is always with Kang-doo even in his darkest moment. Emotionally, these two are tied very close together, and it is through that bond that they can heal through the trauma of their past.
By the way, I've never had much of a chance to discuss the soundtrack, but it really is quite good. They're all these slow songs that initially seem sad, because the tone is so soulful and the lyrics so melancholy, with a constant echo implying distance. Yet the music really resonates with its hopeful pleading. There's this fear that tragedy is inevitable, yet hope enough to wish for the miracle anyway. To admit to really wanting Moon-soo...that spiritual healing was what Kang-doo needed even more than the liver transplant.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Just Between Lovers" Episode 16 (Final)"
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