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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Miss Korea" Episode 9

2014/01/24 | Permalink

The strained relationships between lovers takes the forefront in this episode of "Miss Korea". There is attraction between the couples and a desire to be together. What is missing, however, is trust. That concept can be taken from the personal to the national level as South Korea suffers financially through the IMF.

Hyung-joon lost Ji-young's trust long ago, yet the attraction between them keeps drawing them together. The show is attempting to explore how to repair broken trust, but keeps both characters from acknowledging their mistakes, taking responsibility and having a real conversation to work out all of their differences. What makes that possible is the intense chemistry between the characters and between Lee Sun-kyun and Lee Yeon-hee. It's hard to fight natural rapport. It shows when Ji-young leans on him when in emotional distress and when he turns to her despite himself. This situation is great to explore if the show chooses to explore it. I would hate for it to ignore the underlying problems between them and cave to chemistry.

The other issue I take with the vacillation between Hyung-joon and Ji-young's relationship is the fact that the characters emotional states are unclear and therefore do not support the state of flux. It's in the writing because Teacher Jeong is written equally unclearly, but Lee Sung-min infuses all the moments between the scripted lines with depth and clarity that leaves no doubt as to his character's emotional state. Lee Sun-kyun and Lee Yeon-hee are not putting enough nuance into their roles. The expressions they use are vague and hard to interpret. I expect more, especially from Lee Sun-kyun.

My favorite character is the despicable Teacher Jeong who is a loan shark by career and a thug by public action. And yet, he is kind-hearted, unable to do the truly awful things his bosses order of him or the things that society expects of him. He cannot bring himself to take another life or take a woman against her will. In fact, he tries hard to boost the woman's self-esteem while wrecking his own. The dichotomy of character is fascinating.

In terms of direction, the flashbacks are confusing and overindulgent. It's unclear when past changes to present, especially because Hyung-joon wears practically the same jacket in both time periods. On top of that, the flashbacks last too long and their effectiveness peters out long before the transition back into "Miss Korea"'s present in 1997. What it did show well was the reasons behind the separation of the main couple: her lack of ambition and his inability to reconcile that fact with his desire for her to go to school. He is also embarrassed of her. I want to see them work that issue out while she's fighting her way through the minefield that is the "Miss Korea" beauty pageant. The issue of education comes up repeatedly, but is left undeveloped.

As for the pageant, the show seems that it will finally start to delve into the deep underbelly and show us what these women actually go through. Ma Ae-ri has a strange, lingering attachment that border on obsession with the pageant that I want to see explained. Mostly though, this is one of the biggest televised events of the year and I want to see the show dig into it and show viewers how "Miss Korea" not only affects them, but the women in the pageant.

Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy

Follow on Twitter @Raine0211

"Miss Korea" is directed by Kwon Seok-jang, written by Seo Sook-hyang and features Lee Sun-kyun, Lee Yeon-hee, Jo Sang-ki and Lee Mi-sook.

 

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