Hae-young (played by Seo Hyun-jin) is an administrative restauranteur with chronically rotten luck who shows neither determination nor despair at her many setbacks in life. Do-kyeong (played by Eric Moon), a sound effect designer for movies. Not a composer, a sound effect designer. His sister Soo-kyeong (played by Ye Ji-won) is Hae-young's boss, and both siblings share the same penchant for cruel behavior to subordinates in the name of getting the job done right.
The direction of "Oh Hae-Young Again" is frequently counterintuitive. Abusive character interactions are played for laughs while goofy causes of tragic misunderstanding are treated with deadly seriousness. Hae-young's mom Deok-hee (played by Kim Mi-kyung) reacts to bad news in Hae-young's life by physically attacking her. In a melodrama this would be tragic. We find out Hae-young's ex-fiance Tae-jin (played by Lee Jae-yoon) had a shockingly petty reason for breaking up with Hae-young. In a comedy this revelation would be treated as a jokey starting point. In "Oh Hae-Young Again" it's crushing.
But it's all part and parcel for Hae-young's generally hopeless existence. Oddly enough the funniest scene in this episode (the spit-take) is ultimately just as morose, yet that seemed more amusing because at least there Hae-young caused her own problem rather than just passively accepting it from another person. That's how Hae-young takes control of her own destiny- by not dying. And also by enjoying good food.
Do-kyeong is a queer choise of leading man for Hae-young, since in many ways he's every problem in her life concentrated into a single person. Do-kyeong dishes out abuse the same way Hae-young takes it. Do-kyeong has been gifted with talents that outweigh his crummy personality while Hae-young struggles with both. Do-kyeong is scared of disaster while Hae-young embraces it.
Yet for all these points of divergence, Hae-young and Do-kyeong have one commonality- they've both been burned badly by past relationships. Which in this day and age is hardly unusual. And of course their coping mechanisms, like everything else in "Oh Hae-Young Again" are radically different so...all right, honestly, I'm still watching "Oh Hae-Young Again" in a state bemused curiousity. While the first episode is pure set-up, it's very good set-up that clearly explains who all the characters are and why they have their current outlooks on life. Now, let's have Do-kyeong and Hae-young get into an actual conversation, that there can be an actual conflict in there.
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] "Oh Hae-Young Again" Episode 1"
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