There are no big dramatics for the final episode of "Shall We Kiss First", which instead focuses on the joyful monotony of daily life. Moo-han may have the occasional scary moment, but he is still able to persist normally, and in fact makes a continued point of doing so. The whole storyline with the cat is great because the old Moo-han would have just decided this wasn't worth the effort. But now? He sees inconvenience, too, as a part of life.
Ironically, looking back at Soon-jin's depression in the early portion of the drama, it was her willingness to pick fights that made the woman come off as so pathetic. Yet when Moo-han (or Soon-jin) engage in similar actions in the present day, the whole performance of demanding attention is cute because they know that, eventually, they will attract each other's attention. This also gives them solidarity in the name of a moral point, however vaguely defined that point may be, just so long as they can find the humor in it.
But that reprieve is only temporary. The scene where Soon-jin is bantering with Mi-ra is brutal. In an instant the attitude turns from light humor to despair, just because Soon-jin accidentally makes a very morbid statement while attempting to sound romantic. Coping with those kinds of mood changes, well, that's been the overall message of "Shall We Kiss First" and the drama has done well when it focuses on that.
The same can't be said of the plot. None of the side characters had meaningful storylines. Kyeong-soo and Ji-min in particular stick out as characters whose pained, ambiguous relationship with Soon-jin did not undergo any meaningful change, and yet it has improved, somehow. I-deun's moving in with Moo-han and Soon-jin unfortunately happened too late to be of much character building interest. We still know almost nothing about Moo-han's subordinates at work, or even his ex-wife.
We can interpret this as giving Moo-han a reason to keep on living. Now that Soon-jin has established the futility of trying to fix lifelong problems in mere months, and pointed out that such thinking is antithetical to the idea of life in general...well, that's the main reason Moo-han is making an effort to stick around. The right emotions are here. Kam Woo-sung and Kim Sun-ah were excellent in the lead roles. But I still feel like "Shall We Kiss First" could have concluded more holistically than this.
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] "Shall We Kiss First" Episodes 39-40"
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