"Kind Words" has come to an end after fighting, loving, screaming and truck loads of tears. What makes it different from other melodramas was the deep character exploration that happened. The point wasn't to make everyone cry, it was to explore a difficult subject, adultery, and that it did very well.
As a Western reviewer with a different cultural background, I can't say that I agree with how this show wrapped up, but I do understand it. Family is the key unit of Korean culture and to have the linchpin of that family unit, the married couple, torn asunder creates huge havoc. The two main couples, Jae-hak and Mi-kyung, and Seong-soo and Eun-jin, tried desperately to make their marriages work. In the end, they succeeded, accepting the adultery as something that happened and something that they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. It allowed for each couple to relearn each other and understand their status as a married couple, which was a beautiful, if often bumpy, journey to follow. I personally cannot seem to overcome the ultimate breach of trust that comes along with adultery, but I can see why these couples found their resolution in choosing to remain together.
The main reason for the couples to stay together was for the good of their children. Seong-soo and Eun-jin's child, Yoon-jung, suffered greatly throughout the drama because of her parents fights. Jae-hak and Mi-kyeong worried about their two sons studying overseas. Age of the child doesn't matter because fighting and divorce always hurts. "Kind Words" addressed the pain of the children very well through Yoon-jung, the young girl who missed nothing of their parents' fighting and worried constantly about them separating. What made Yoon-jung's pain so potent was the editing, catching her crying in a dark room while listening to her parents talk about divorce, or, her small smiles at the dinner table when her parents seemed to get along. It was these short cuts that told more of the child's pain and suffering than any amount of dialogue.
"Kind Words" was more than a drama on adultery, it was a family melodrama. What happened because of two adulterers affects the harmony of two extended family units. The show gave time to each member of the families and was thorough with the attentions given to them. For example, Eun-jin and Eun-young's parents often spoke alone about their long lives together, raising children, how to deal with their children's problems, and how much children hurt their parents despite how hard their parents worked to raise them. There were mistakes made on all sides throughout the drama and yet the families stuck together, standing behind their loved ones through crisis even if it was difficult. Watching daily functioning like that reminds viewers of their own lives and families. It reminded me of working with and loving mine.
Jae-hak's mother, on the other hand, is from the more traditional school of thought than Eun-jin's: tough love and keep the family together no matter what. It's also combined with some prickliness that made Mi-kyeong's life with her very difficult. It is Mi-kyeong's friend, Anna, the Korean-American, who teaches Jae-hak's mother to think before she speaks. That was what hurt Jae-hak, and especially Mi-kyung, for nearly twenty years. Watching her odd-couple friendship with An-na seemed out of place for a while until the friendship began to soften Jae-hak's mother attitude towards Mi-kyeong.
There was the extremely sweet, brutally honest romance between Min-soo and Eun-young. If the other two couples had been as honest with each other as Min-soo and Eun-young are with each other, the adultery may have been prevented. Even so, the two had a lot of learning and growing up to do that we got to watch first hand. If only every drama couple would listen so well to their partners. I was happy with how their story played out because they were a couple who listened to each other from beginning to end. That's a relationship that can last and I liked seeing such a relationship on television. Honesty is the best, even if it hurts.
As for the middle part of the drama where the production team prolonged the big reveal of the relationship between Eun-jin's and Mi-kyung's husbands and families, it was a necessary evil that was done reasonably well. The extension of the entire issue was used instead to develop the family situations, which was the best thing the show could've done. Now if only they would stop playing "I Love You" sung by Horan. It plays so often that it grated.
The way the couples worked out their issues about the adultery was also quite a natural process. After realization came denial, fighting, bitterness, hatred, surprise at the love that was still felt, and then the cycle repeated. It was shown best in Mi-kyeong who hated herself for loving a man who betrayed her trust. Admittedly, for a television show, the cycle needed a few less repetitions just for the viewer's sake, but realistically, it was very accurate. Such things need time to overcome and people don't travel in a straight line emotionally.
Eun-jin's father told her that "the most miserable person is one who is alone". She takes it to heart at the end when she has reconciled with Seong-soo. It's true. We are social creatures and we, for the most part, need companionship. Whether or not we choose to accept companions who broke our trust is a personal choice like those made by Eun-jin, Seong-soo and Mi-kyeong. This drama centers around that message. The camera storytelling showed us that people crying alone were miserable; people crying in their loved ones shoulders felt love and support.
"Kind Words" had a cast of strong actors from the oldest down to the youngest. The Min-soo/Eun-young couple (Park Seo-joon/Han Groo) was particularly compelling, but all of the actors delivered solid, nuanced performances that invited pity despite the fact that their characters committed grave wrongs. The child actress who played Yoon-jung, Lee Chae-mi, was wonderful and as heart-winning when she smiled as she was heart-breaking when she cried.
The writing was fairly consistent except for in the earlier teens when the mystery and suspense was purposefully drawn out for more time. A few unnecessary histrionics were added, especially on Mi-kyeong's part. The characterizations felt true to what was initially established and that they persisted well until the final episode. That is difficult for dramas to do and writer Ha Myung-hee managed it well.
As a finale, episode 20 was definitely anticlimactic as much of the resolution had happened in episode 19. As the endcap to the drama, episode 20 felt a bit lackluster, but after running on an emotional high for nineteen episodes, the low-key ending was just what the show needed. "Kind Words" had an impactful run and I enjoyed the time we spent together.
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Kind Words" Episode 20 Final"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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