Our Blues: Episodes 5-6
Life throws a curveball at our young lovers, and as they grapple with the reality of their situation, they need to make a decision about their future fast. Meanwhile, a familiar face returns to town, and her sudden appearance catches some people off guard. However, her mind is preoccupied with her own worries as she struggles with depression and the potential loss of someone dear.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP: YOUNG-JOO & HYUN; DONG-SUK & SUN-AH
Putting the adults’ stories on hold for a moment, the show shifts focus to the Romeo and Juliet-esque teenagers, Young-joo and Hyun. Young-joo is a smart kid who feels trapped by her surroundings. The ocean is a constant reminder of dead ends, and her small town feels stifling with the same gossip, jokes, and faces.
The people she cares about can be counted on one hand, and among the rare few is Hyun. She deems him as the only exciting thing around, but she realizes that her excitement went a little “too far” — she’s pregnant.
Young-joo’s goal in life is to leave Jeju, but her unexpected pregnancy derails all her dreams. With no one to turn to for guidance, the options for Young-joo are limited, and the medical professionals she meets are callous and dismissive. They only view her as another reckless teenager, and it feels like no matter what Young-joo chooses, she will be shamed for her decision.
Though Hyun tries to support Young-joo through this ordeal, she shuts him out. Seeing her parents’ marriage fall apart has taught her that love does not exist, and she believes her relationship with Hyun will be the same.
Despite her attempts to keep him at a distance, Hyun understands that Young-joo is scared and refuses to let her endure this alone. He chases after her to the hospital — unafraid of the rumors that might circulate about them — and his steadfast presence in her time of need finally convinces her to trust him.
Thus, when Hyun suggests raising the baby together, Young-joo takes a leap of faith and accepts his proposal. In spite of her fears, she decides to be a family with him, and a burden seems to lift from both their shoulders as they finally come to an agreement about their future.
However, their moment of happiness is tinged with a quiet discomfort as a sense of foreboding lingers in the air. As Young-joo lamented in the beginning of the episode, they live in a small town where everyone knows everything, and their secret has already been found out by a classmate and possibly Eun-hee. Once their dads get involved, things will get messier, and I’m worried for the young couple.
While I support Young-joo’s decision regardless of what she chooses, I wonder how much agency she really has in her current situation. Their story raises a lot of important questions, and I hope the show takes this narrative in an interesting and nuanced direction.
The other main pair this week is Sun-ah and Dong-suk. Recently divorced, Sun-ah continues to struggle with depression and finds herself amidst a custody battle for her son. In order to clear her head, she drives down to Jeju, and her path crosses with Dong-suk. The two of them share an odd history together, and while it is clear that Dong-suk used to like her, Sun-ah’s feelings are bit opaque.
In the past, when both of them lived in Seoul, they happened to meet each other and rekindled their friendship. However, when Dong-suk revealed his feelings by kissing her, Sun-ah recoiled. He took the rejection poorly, and his behavior immediately turned hostile and accusatory.
Dong-suk’s temper remains the same to this day, and his most well-known feud is with his mom, KANG OK-DONG (Kim Hye-ja), who he addresses as “aunt.” Though Ok-dong has cancer, she cannot bring herself to notify her son since he vowed to only answer her call after she dies.
Sun-ah wanders around the town in a daze as the sound of her son’s voice echoes in her head. She ends up near the edge of the wharf, and stares out into the ocean, unmoving, until sunrise.
Before taking this trip, Sun-ah had an interview with Child and Family Services, and told the investigator that she could not live without her son. While the investigator was aware of Sun-ah’s devotion and seemed understanding of her depression, the child’s best interest came first. She showed Sun-ah a video of her son’s interview, and his words broke her. When asked to describe his mom, her son answered, “Mom is sick.”
Even though it is early morning, Sun-ah’s world remains dark as she stands alone, cold, and wet. Her strange presence catches the eyes of the townsfolk, including Jung-joon and the haenyeos, but no one thinks much of it at first until she falls into the ocean and disappears.
Sun-ah’s story has consistently been about her depression and how it affects her life. Similar to Young-joo, Sun-ah feels constrained — damned if you do, damned if you don’t — and this feeling of futility was best captured in the interview scene. Her ex-husband accuses her of not trying to “get over” her depression, but when she does try, she is then blamed for putting their son in harm’s way. No matter what Sun-ah does, her actions are not good enough, and her illness is weaponized and used against her.
Society has strict scripts for people to follow, but very few can actually achieve these impossible and subjective standards. Even the slightest deviation is met with severe scrutiny as seen by the various characters in this show. In Eun-hee’s case, she chose not to marry or have kids, and as a result, she sees herself as a miserly spinster incapable of love rather than the big-hearted woman she actually is. The world around her has taught her that a fulfilling life for a woman is in a heteronormative family, and we see how she has internalized this message. For Young-joo, becoming a teen mom has stripped her of all her previous accomplishments, and society labels her as a failure because of this one mistake. Through Sun-ah, the drama explores a different side of motherhood, and the suffocating pressure to perform a certain role. Out of all the women so far, Sun-ah is the closest to the “ideal” life (financially stable, has a husband and son), yet she appears to be the least happy.
The beauty of an omnibus story like Our Blues is that different characters get a chance to shine, and all their experiences are valid. No one is the hero or the villain in this story because they’re all just people with their own struggles and shortcomings.