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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh Hae-Young Again" Episode 1

2016/05/02

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 Mun), 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

"Oh Hae-Young Again" is directed by Song Hyeon-wook, written by Park Hae-yeong and features Eric Mun, Seo Hyun-jin, Jeon Hye-bin, Ye Ji-won, Kim Ji-suk, and Heo Jung-min

 

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