I like how Soon-jin is treating Moo-han's stay in the hospital as a stay in the hospital while Moo-han is acting like this is hospice care. Of course Moo-han's outlook has not actually changed in any meaningful way. He's spent the entire drama in self-imposed hospice care, it's just a lot more obvious now because everything is out in the open. Which also adds a morbid sense of humor even to scenes as mundane as Soon-jin eating some fried chicken.
Ah, how I missed the comic relief in "Shall We Kiss First"'s early episodes. These aren't really written jokes. Everything is loaded in the performances. Kim Sun-ah has perfect comedic timing. She even manages to sell laughing at her own jokes as being funny, because it's all in the characterization. To Soon-jin, laughter is how she recovers from the misery of daily life. Besdies, Moo-han is so gloomy that getting him to act with any levity at all feels like a major accomplishment.
Of course there's nothing inherently remarkable about trying to use positive life experiences to deal with the pain caused from bad ones. There's a great metaphor here with Kyeong-soo observing the fallout from the candy company incident on television, and going from that straight to his daughter. Does Ji-soo's existence in any way fix what happened to Kyeong-soo's dead daughter? Obviously not. But he is nonetheless reassured, and can even calm down better with Ji-min.
Even past depressing events become humorous in context. Apparently In-woo and Mi-ra do engage in weird foreplay, as I had assumed from a previous setpiece. Also there are ways that In-woo can reassure Mi-ra, he just never thought of them before because these were, in his mind, lapses in judgment. As much as any other reason, Mi-ra loves In-woo for his eccentricities, and the strange ways that he can express his honest affection in a particularly trying moment.
The backdrop to "Shall We Kiss First" remains inherently depressing. It remains unclear whether Soon-jin can successfully force a happy ending ehre just through positive thinking. But look at how far her attempts have already changed Moo-han's outlook, in addition to her home. Take the attempted suicide scene. Aside from the brilliant fake-out dark comedy joke, there's the obvious character development in how, quite contrary to his behavior in flashback, Moo-han doesn't just walk away. That much is already a miracle, so why can't we have a little more than that?
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 37-38"
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