Saturday, March 27, 2021

KBS Drama Special 2020: Traces of Love


This was a story about people finding their way back together after being apart.

I think Lee Sangyeob is a darling of KBS DS producers, because he had quite a few appearances, and every time he was given a character to flesh out from emotions only half-expressed. 

We meet our characters when they meet again - because Jiseob starts working at the company where also Juyeong works. The tension and awkwardness is palpable and the attempts to clear the air prove to be futile. Both of them have different views on why they have broken up in the past but at first Juyeong doesn't want to address it, even though Jiseob wants to. For her it's the closed chapter in her life, or at least she wants to think that.

To add to the awkwardness of the whole situation between these two, it is revealed that at the same place works Juyeong's former boyfriend who actually proposed to her and she refused. With this, mixed with a lot of flashbacks, the whole situation starts to become clearer. The inferiority Jiseob felt, not only towards Juyeong, but towards other people, stemmed from his financial situation and debt he had to pay back.

This hung over his head and made him a little inattentive and tardy in the relationship because he hid his from Juyeong. As he explained in a heated argument in the present, he didn't want to burden her with his personal problems. Juyeong retorted something that rings true no matter the country and culture - a relationship in which one side hides troubles and shows only positive and problem-free side is doomed to fail. He didn't want to burden her, she wanted to get married to share the eventual problems.

And it's only after this was addressed and solved, the two of them could make the decision regarding the next actions. I guess that in these two we got the sentiment of a large chunk of the society. Juyeong is a successful woman, she works to the best of her abilities and is promoted at the end. Jiseob was a guy burdened with debt which prevented him to even think of marriage as he felt inadequate. He is not jealous of Juyeong's success at all, he was always encouraging her, but in the past the debt was his own, personal, and he didn't want to share it because he felt he could be perceived as inadequate. The fears were unfounded, but we learned about this only in the present.

As always with DS, this is rather a reflection over some seemingly trivial ans small problem. There are no super-rich chaebols throwing tantrums, no politicians scheming and police aiding to that. DS presents an issue and one of the paths the characters go to solve it. But DS is tricky and sometimes ends the episode in a vague or less than desired but realistic way. That is to say that even our characters went back together, we learned so much about their past dynamic that we cannot be sure this won't happen in their future again. In some aspects, this was a very realistic episode.

There is a lot of scenes that take place in the dark alleys, in the shadows, in the dimly lit spaces. It not only looks nice on the screen, but evokes the path both characters have to take to find the one that leads to them back together. It always happens after a confrontation or whenever either of them is internally lost, dispirited or down.

I found it really fitting that this episode was filmed in Autumn (usually all DS episodes are filmed in the Summer), because it somehow encapsulated the feelings of our main characters. Their love had its frenetic Spring and its lazy Summer and that's why they drifted apart. But then again the Autumn came with the burst of dazzling colors, warm and comforting.