Review: Just Between Lovers

Almost made to the end. 

Name: Just Between Lovers
Writer/director: Yoo Bo Ra / Kim Jin Won
Date: December 2017
Number of episodes: 16
Genre: Romance, Melodrama, career
Based on book/manga?:

Why did I press play? When it first aired I started watching it. At that time it was too serious of a story me, but I knew it was very good. Fast forward just over a year, I was in the mood for a serious story and picked this one.

The title indicates that the story is heavy-laden with romance, this is unfortunate because it’s not. The love story is slow: both parties take their time to grow feelings for one another. It’s only in episode 11 (or was it 9?) that the romance ball is fully rolling. Even so, the two love birds tackle other issues other. On a side note, in drama world,  their relationship is one of my all time favorites.

The drama has a ruggedness feel to it: weather, housing situations, conflicts, occupations, debt, personalities, circumstances, clothing, locations, etc. Just Between Loves is both refreshing and draining. The characters and plot of  perpetual struggles carries a heaviness with them.

Lee Kang Doo:
In the scope of drama world, Kang Doo is one of the most well-rounded and fleshed out characters. He is haggard, handsome, complicated, youthful, injured, ambitionless, poor, experienced trauma. Even his appearance and wardrobe is curated to emphasize his poverty and disregard of social norms. For example. His ruffian hair cut. There are people who care about him, and vise versa – the community is made of a hodgepodge of other non-conventional people: the former loan shark/now turned illegal doctor, main hostess of a club, his sister, and the son and mothers of the hostel he lives in. With all that’s going on, Kang Doo is so absorbed in his own world – girls are not on the radar. Needless to say, Lee Jun Ho does a stellar job,

Falling in stride with this delinquent ways, he has a violet streak and frequently gets into fights. However, it’s not a temper problem. It’s when he is in emotional pain that he antagonizes fights.

 He accidentally falls in love with Moon Soo, because she does the majority of groundwork, and pursued him. Easily understands his fear of trying to get close to her,  therefore is undeterred by his “rejections”. Her forwardness, compassion, and enjoyment of him, melts his defenses. She is fearlessly there for him during his darkest days and this is the tipping point in his admission of feelings for her and to totally trust her.

There is something so special and empowering about Kang Doo. 

Ma Moon:
She is a wonderful, strong, and kind character. Contrary to her demeanor she carries her own scares, and present burdens: her sister’s death and mother’s alcoholism.
Sincerity blooms in and through her, and permeates the air around her. This trait allows her to focus and take seriously things she undertakes: her work and eventual relationship with Doo. Her action are organized and she rarely feels confused and sets her own agenda, deals efficiently with things that come her way, for example, fixing things (within her ability) in the bathhouse.  This is why when she starts to care of Doo, she is unfazed by his apathy. She has a positive influence too many around her. Her sense of humor is endearing, for example:

“I’m not short, I’m petite!”

Seo Joo Won
This is a man who looks as if he carried the world on his shoulder. He carries sorrow with him. The fatigue pours into heart, can there is rarely lighthearted joke or smile from him. Integrity and “getting the job done right” is hugely important to him and he’ll make sure the building is safely conducted no matter the hurdles for shortcuts are thrown his way. His family situation is also a debacle, with his mother in a difficult position and there is little he can do to help her. Yoo Yin, is a fresh breeze because she is levelheaded and supports him and believes in this precision for safely while the building is constructed.
After a while, it was a tad boring when he is in a sense. There isn’t much change or fluctuation in his personality.

The Good:

  • The unexpected relationship between Ma Ri and Jung Yoo Taek. It starts out as a patron-hostess thing and turns into something quite heartwarming.
  • Sook Hee – she is one sassy and caring medicine seller/grandmother.
  • The hodgepodge family that Kang Doo, Ma Ri and Sook Hee have. All there are (in one way or another) outsiders and are a good support for each other.
  • The way the story weaves in and out of an overall arch. There constant “ah-ha” moments as bits and pieces slowly come together to make a whole and complete story with many connecting parts.

The bad

  • I did lose in interest in the last several episodes – multiple hospital scenes are always a red flag for dramatic fillers. 
  • Draggy scenes
  • The violence Kang Doo experiences, ranging from an awful employer at the start, to the diabolical gangsters that pummel in him the alleyway.

There is so much more to say about him, but I’ll leave it here for now.

Who are the main characters? Which actors play them?
Lee Kang Doo played by Lee Jun Ho (lead male)
Ma Moon Soo played by Won Jin Ah (lead female)
Seo Joo Won played by Lee Ki Woo (Moon Soo’s boss)
Jung Yoo Jin played by Kang Han Na (loves Joo Won)
Ma Ri played by Yoon Se Ah (runs the ?)
Jung Yoo Taek played by Tae In Ho (managers)
Jeong Sook Hee played by Na Moon Hee (Medicine Seller, Grandmother)

Theme: Life is not easy

What it’s good for? A drama to get lost, as time flies by.

In the new Drama Delight shop, you’ll find a delightful bookmark and postcard.



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