Don’t let the cutesy opening romantic scenes of “Drama Special – Waltzing Alone” fool you. Yes, Min-seon (played by Moon Ga-young) and Geon-hee (played by Yeo Hoe-hyun) became a couple as a consequence of their shared interest in waltzing and yes, the abbreviated version of this story involves adorable genre standards like Geon-hee impulsively catching her in a romantic pose in the face of transportation danger. But most of the content in “Drama Special – Waltzing Alone” is about the couple, now in their mid to late twenties, attempting to get normal company jobs.
To write that this process is stressful would be an understatement. Min-seon and Geon-hee are willing to say and do almost anything to get the job. That’s not as lurid as it sounds- saying anything means answering any question in interviews, however rude. The entire line of inquiry Min-seon gets about her personal life, while technically relevant, is quite frankly disturbing, to the point that even when she gives a “correct” answer at the end, by that point the whole framing has so perfectly captured the inherently invasive and even sexist nature of the process that even the interviewers are visibly uncomfortable.
This is similarly reflected in the doing anything section, which is represented mainly by Min-seon and Geon-hee having to take phone calls at any arbitrary and random hour their corporate superiors demand. The aggravating interruptions force Min-seon and Geon-hee to face the reality that getting decent jobs matters more to them than their relationship. Or at least, that’s how they choose to interpret one another’s actions.
In reality we frequently see that Min-seon and Geon-hee very sincerely love each other. Both of them want the corporate position chiefly so that they can help provide financially for the other, and save themselves the miserable drudgery of part-time jobs where they have even less dignity than they do in the corporate world. That Min-seon and Geon-hee instead end up losing each other over this obsession is horrifying and tragic.
I can’t decide whether “Drama Special – Waltzing Alone” works better as an indictment of capitalism or as a romantic melodrama. The beauty of the production is that, really, both interpretations are pitch perfect. The negativity is astonishingly well-grounded and down-to-earth. Even if, as non-Koreans, we all are unlikely to enter into a situation exactly that what Min-seon and Geon-hee have suffered, it’s easy enough to imagine capricious fate doing the same to any of us.
Review by William Schwartz
“Drama Special – Waltzing Alone” is directed by Hwang Seung-gi, written by Kwon Hye-ji, and stars Moon Ga-young and Yeo Hoe-hyun.
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Drama Special – Waltzing Alone