Our Blues is a portrayal of exactly what its name suggests but in the most heartwarming way possible!
Indian and Korean cultures are similar in more ways than one. We also live in quite tight-knit societies where everybody knows each other, everyone has grown up together. We have beautiful memories, millions of stories to talk about, and so many inside jokes that we still laugh about because, at the end of the day, human beings thrive on love, and our world revolves around our friends and families. And Our Blues highlights exactly this!
Directed by Kim Kyu-Tae, it portrays day-to-day life without shying away from showing all the difficult situations we face in our lives aka days when we feel blue or when our life feels like those dull, dark clouds that form above our head on a rainy day. Having watched more than 40 K-dramas now, I would say that I've not seen anything like Our Blues. It was refreshing, an absolute soup for the soul, and one of the best K-dramas I have watched this year. As a K-drama fanatic, I enjoy the romantic ones but it’s important to steer away from that once in a while and watch something like this show to feel every emotion deeply and also relate to the characters for once.
At first, the show felt like a story about an enthusiastic community of people in Jeju Do-South Korea’s largest and most aesthetic island. And it is! But it’s also about so much more than that, and over the span of 20 episodes, it beautifully weaves together the stories of a dozen characters. Starting with Eun-Hui (Lee Jung-Eun) whose first love, Choi Han-Su (Cha Seung-Won) comes back into town, and the two spend time reminiscing about their good old days. Only later does Eun-Hui realize that he's here for her money and feels heartbroken. Although Choi Han-Su leaves with his pride without taking a single penny and decides to start a new life for himself with his family. I will admit this - these first three episodes focusing on Eun-Hui and Cho Han-Su felt quite slow and dragged, but the story picks up from here and how!
Ho-Sik (Choi Young-Joon) and In-Kwon (Park Ji-Hwan), two single dads who live with their daughter and son respectively, hate each other to the core for reasons that are slowly revealed later but have their lives tangled together forever when their kids fall in love, and Ho-Sik’s daughter and no.1 student at school, Yeong-Joo (Roh Yoon-Seo) gets pregnant with In-Kwon’s son Jung-Hyun’s (Bae Hyun-Sung) baby. The two fathers and might I add, Asian fathers completely lose their minds when they find out about this. How they deal with this situation can be a bit disturbing to watch, especially when Yeong-Joo is pressured to get an abortion even though, after a lot of contemplation, she decides not to get one. But Ho-Sik and In-Kwon after some serious arguments, realize that either they control their children’s lives and lose them forever or they allow them to make their own choices. It’s obvious that they unlearned a lot of things and let their kids do the latter. I was honestly surprised to see a K-drama talking about topics like teenage pregnancy, which is still a very taboo subject in Korea. It could’ve gone completely haywire but their story is concluded in a very endearing manner, to the point where Ho-Sik and In-Kwon who couldn’t even look at each other are now holding hands and praying for Yeong-Joo’s safety on the day of her delivery.
Next comes my favorite plotline in the whole series, Dong-Seok (Lee Byung-Hun) and Seon-a (Shin Min-ah). Not being biased because I love Shin-Min-ah but the way they show mental health issues that she’s suffering from is truly commendable. Especially the scene where she looks out the window and even though it’s a beautiful nighttime view of Seoul, her depression only makes her see darkness everywhere. My heart reached out to her when she fell to the ground sweating as if the whole world had pulled her down and failed her. Dong-Seok and Seon-a have been close friends since their childhoods and given their dysfunctional families, they were each other's only support. Dong-Seok has been deeply in love with her since day 1. So it’s a given that he feels distressed to see the love of her life not wanting to be a part of this world anymore. Her custody case for her son with her ex-husband adds to that sadness but how she picks herself back up and pieces her life back together slowly while seeking therapy is something I’ve rarely seen in K-dramas and makes the story stand out from others.
Meanwhile, the lack of societal approval prevents Yeong-Ok (Han Ji-Min) from telling anyone, especially her boyfriend Jeong-Jun (Kim Woo-Bin) who she feels will leave her as soon as he learns that she has a twin sister with Down syndrome. Kudos to the makers for casting Jung Eun-Hye who actually has Down syndrome IRL to play the role of Yeong-Ok’s twin, Yeong-Hee. The writer, Noh Hee-Kyung wrote a full-fledged arc for her character and didn't let her be just a mere caricature. Jeong-Jun, who did not know much about Down syndrome, makes an effort to educate himself about the subject and form an adorable relationship with Yeong-Hee.
But the most complicated storyline of all is about the fractured relationship between Dong-Seok and his mother Ok-Dong (Kim Hye-Ja). A plot that was a mystery throughout the show is revealed in the last three episodes. It includes a history of child abuse, poverty, and some really wrong decisions made on Ok-Dong’s part. In her last few days, Dong-Seok does everything in his power to fulfill her bucket list before she dies of cancer. And he does all of it to finally ask her, why she let most of his life go in pain and suffering like that. Even after keeping a distance from his mother all his life, when he hugs her dead body and cries, it makes the story a big lesson for forgiveness.
In an ensemble cast that starred some of the most popular actors in Korea, it was 5-year-old Ki So-Yu who had my heart. She played a preschool child, Eun-gi who was sent to live with her grandmother, Hyun Chun-Hee (Go Doo-Shim) because of her father’s terrible accident. While her grandmother had accepted that her son might leave them anytime, it was Ki So-Yu’s emotions as Eun-Gi, who refused to believe that her father wouldn't recover that triggered my fear of losing my parents someday as well. I held my tears for most of the show but this really broke me.
There are still a lot of characters and subplots, some stick well and some don’t like Eun-Hui and Mi-ran’s (Uhm Jung-Hwa) storyline. Eun-hui’s character really just deserved to be around people not using her for their own selfish needs.
The true heartbeat of a K-drama lies in its soundtrack and With You, which is a collaboration between Jimin of BTS and Ha Sung-Woon, is played at all the right times throughout the show, bringing out the essence of the story. Jimin’s voice singing “I wanna be with you and I wanna stay with you, just like the stars shining bright” reflects on all the gut-wrenching plotlines in the series, opening my floodgates yet again. The cinematography covered the whole picturesque island of Jeju, from the starry nights to the beautiful sea while the production design made the houses, the fish market, and the schools look super authentic by not making it look larger than life but really local and raw instead.
Our Blues has a very wholesome and satisfying ending. I felt like the story was supposed to be a comfort watch for many wounded souls like me. It's inclusive on so many fronts that it makes me feel proud of how K-dramas are evolving with time and are open to conversations that most might find uncomfortable. Our Blues feels like a more adult version of Reply 1988 with the moral that “The living will keep living, no matter what”.
Also Read: These 16 K-drama soundtracks need to be a part of your playlist for an everyday serotonin boost!
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