DRAMA CLUB: Unemployed Romance Episode 6 (1/2)
Sorry for the absence last week. Had to go out of town and I ended up missing watching some K-drama. In this week's Unemployed Romance Drama Club, we talk about why Seung Hee and Jong Dae break up, how their relationship changed after 10 years, and why the flashback structure has allowed us to understand each of them a whole lot better.
Is there an expiration date for a first love? Most first loves we encounter in k-dramas are sweet but dramatic; some even bordering makjang. In Unemployed Romance, we have quite a run of the mill love story - something more relatable, it could have happened to just about anyone and it is something I can identify with. I believe for a relationship to last, both parties have to grow together. Seung Hee and Jong Dae fell for each other when they were both young and naïve: the time when people actually believes love conquers all. Sadly, after ten years of "honeymoon,” reality stepped in and their individual ambition got in the way. It may sound cruel but I don't blame Seung Hee’s decision to bail on their relationship. While Seung Hee made strides in her career, Jong Dae's situation remains status quo. For himself and Seung Hee, Jong Dae needed to make something of himself. Sadly, dude has the toughest of luck.
Since we're FINALLY caught up with the present, it would be interesting to see how much Jong Dae has changed. I don't think it's that far-etched to say he is still affected by Seung Hee. The key is what he plans to do about it. I don't doubt their story has ended (not with 4 episodes to go) but I do want to be shown if their relationship deserves a second chance or if they should draw the curtains on their first love and move on to a better prospective, where the likes of Wan Ha is waiting.
We have another recap episode. I think the writers wanted us to die in anticipation before continuing present scenes. At the very least, we were up to speed on what happened with Kim Jong Dae (Nam Gung Min) all these years. He must be one of the most unluckiest job hunters of all time (unemployed for 13 years) in dramaland.
Last week, I wrote that I wasn't too swayed by Kim Jong Dae, but this week, Jong Dae looked extremely handsome. Did his appearance change? Is it weird that I'm not thinking about rival Song Wan Ha (Seo Jun Young) anymore? I was hurt by Im Seung Hee's (Lee Young Ah's) constant jabbing about her having to support Jong Dae for ten years, but she's probably really bitter by that time. A woman can only wait so long for a man to become financially stable. I'm still confused by why Jong Dae would go along with the break-up after Seung Hee hinted it.
Jong Dae's break-up process with his buddies was really funny. I think women would go through the same events: being upset, in denial, crying scenes, and then the crazy period, where in Jong Dae's case, he hilariously has a romance with his rice cooker. Jong Dae and Seung Hee's break-up did fill some gaps for me such as Jong Dae making it up the escalator as Seung Hee fell and didn't even turn around. I guess he's so upset that he didn't notice. Watching the scene twice, I found it interesting that Seung Hee calls Jong Dae by his name as she chases him instead of the familiar "Oppa" term. They are probably the same age, but it's refreshing to hear a woman call her boyfriend by his name for once.
Next week will be action filled as we are officially done with the flashback scenes. Relationships will be tangled even more! YES!
If there’s been a consistent criticism of this show, it’s that its flashback structure has taken way too long. But this strikes me as somewhat missing the point. Unemployed Romance isn’t telling a long, complicated story where there are 8 love triangles, crazy twists and stuff like that. We’re dealing with normal, ordinary people, whose struggles are relatable and whose faults are recognizable.
What the structure allows us to understand is: 1)how each character arrives at their meeting at the unemployment office; 2) how life is unpredictable and sometimes our dreams don’t work out; 3) how we filter our thoughts and memories through our own subjective experience.
By the time Seung Hee ends up at the unemployment office, she’s been put through the wringer in terms of her personal and professional life. Nothing has worked out the way it was supposed to. We understand this after getting three episodes of watching everything in her life tumble down. By the time Jong Dae ends up at the unemployment office, most of his professional aspirations haven’t worked out, and he does this job only as a stepping stone to something better. We deeply understand their motivations and reasons as to why they’re there.
We’ve also seen how things haven’t worked out for them. Jong Dae’s story is basically a series of disappointments. It illustrates how illusory our sense of control over lives can be. Jong Dae thought he had everything figured out, that everything was going to go according to plan; but something always gets in the way. He either screws it up himself (getting drunk and blasting his professor) or Seung Hee getting sick. Sometimes things are out of control, little jealousies bubble over and become huge conflicts, people lie to you. Unemployed Romance demonstrates how strange our lives can turn out to be. For me it speaks of a feeling of disillusionment, a helplessness at the state of your own life, that makes these episodes, though charming, seem pretty depressing indeed. Perhaps it’s just me!
More than anything though, the way that Unemployed Romance is structured allows us to view these events from the point of view of both of the main characters. During the first three episodes, Jong Dae was a distant figure, someone who ruined Seung Hee’s life for reasons we had no idea about. When he finally did show up, he was an inexplicable jerk and his actions made no sense. The next three episodes cast Seung Hee as a beautiful, idealized angel (which is how he Jong Dae sees her at first), and are mostly about his own feelings, how he views the world, his girlfriend, his friends, his parents, etc. We are intensely on his side of things. By the time we return to the end of episode 3, his actions make a lot more sense, though it’s still embarrassing. One final dinner with Seung Hee, viewed from the point of view of Jong Dae, sees her as dramatically different from what she used to be, her demeanor and attitude much colder and bitter. Is this how she really is or is this how Jong Dae sees her now?
Leave us a comment with your thoughts!
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The Unemployed Romance Drama Club Archive:
Episode 6: [Part 1]