There's a common trope in a lot of romances where the male lead, in the name of defending the female lead's honor, will react violently or at least with implied violence to some form of verbal slight. "Just Between Lovers" is not satisfied with merely following genre conventions though. We get that scene here, and far from feeling at all chivalrous, the outburst is just emblematic of Kang-doo's rage issues. The moment is explicitly frightening, and it's surprising Moon-soo doesn't just ditch him right there.
The willingness of the production team to highlight flaws without romanticizing or demonizing them is one of the big strong points here. Kang-doo's overall mental health and how well it can be managed in the future is an obvious pratfall for the future of the relationship, but Moon-soo has consciously decided, for now anyway, that Kang-doo's more positive qualities outweigh that. While the sentiment is sweet it doesn't feel realistic- in the long-term sense. In the realist sense the relationship is extremely realistic.
Also note how Kang-doo's violence is exclusively directed against men. He seems capable of tolerating nearly any level of abuse from a woman. Indeed, one important moment features Kang-doo calming down entirely for that reason. I see that as further being emblematic of Kang-doo's self-hatred and guilt. In Kang-doo's mind, his being a man was an integral part of past personal failures because a woman, somehow, would have reacted to that situation differently.
Moon-soo comes to mind, obviously, since she suffered in the same accident yet maintains a much sunnier disposition toward life. But this idea obviously can't be applied universally, because all of the other women in "Just Between Lovers" have much more diverse personalities, ranging from cynical to sleazy to catty to just plain broken down. Kang-doo observes all of this, yet never is able to accept the obvious conclusion. People are flawed in general, and there is no such thing as pure evil.
It's an excellent juxtaposition with Kang-doo's more objectively correct frustrations, like the violence inherent in capitalism and masculinity. The larger point being served is that with any trauma in life, a person has to learn to let go and live in the present rather than simply fight battles indefinitely with whoever happens to be physically nearby. That's really the best influence Moon-soo has on Kang-doo. Her very presence encourages him to be nice, and it's never as out of character as he thinks.
Review by William Schwartz
Note : due to licensing, videos may not be available in your country
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 6"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
"Secret Forest" Named as One of the Best International Shows by the New York Times
According to a recent report from CJ E&M, the tvN's legal drama "Secret Forest" was featured b,...More
Accident on Set of "A Korean Odyssey" Injures Staff Member
A broadcasting accident involving a staff member occured on the set of tvN drama "A Korean Odyssey,...More
Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$0.99 monthly or US$7.99 yearly (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up.