Go Back Couple

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
February 5, 2018

Ma Jin-Joo (played by Jang Na-Ra)
Choi Ban-Do (played by Sohn Ho-Joon)

Note: Korean names denote the surname followed by the given name.

If you could go back to your past, would you? And, if so, what would you change?

That’s the premise for “Go Back Couple,” a thoroughly-enjoyable drama filled with charismatic leads and a plot that is both funny and touching — especially for those of us who are already parents.

Jin-Joo and Ban-Do are tired. He works long hours selling pharmaceuticals to doctors who treat him like dirt. Jin-Joo is a stay-at-home mom who has no time to shower, much less use the toilet without a baby clinging to her.

Before I was married and became a mom, I used to think it was gross when my friends took their babies into the toilet with them. Why couldn’t I just hold their child for them while they did their business?

Then, I became a mom and understood. When I literally locked my baby out of our bathroom (there was a baby gate outside to keep him safe!) for a minute so I could have a moment alone, his sobbing grew so intense that I thought my heart would split in half.💔I’m only slightly exaggerating here.

Back to the series. In the first episode, we see that Jin-Joo and Ban-Do have been married for 14 years and have a toddling baby. Jin-Joo wakes up on her wedding anniversary and ogles a pair of ear rings that surely must be for her. But it turns out that her husband bought them for a big client’s wife, so that the doctor would remain as his customer.

Through much misunderstanding and lack of communication on both parties, Jin-Joo threatens Ban-Do with divorce. Frustrated at how they are both so unhappy, he agrees.

After throwing their wedding rings away, they wake up one morning separately. They have gone back 18 years in time and are now 20-year-old college students living back at home with their parents.

At first, they are ecstatic that they have their care-free youth back. They vow to meet and marry other partners and lead more satisfying lives. Jin-Joo also wants to remain in the past, because her mother is still alive during that time period.

But as the series progresses, they realize that if they remain in the past, they will never see their baby, Seo-Jin, again. And that’s something that neither of them can bear.

“Go Back Couple” navigates the challenges of long-term relationships heartachingly well. Young people often think of love as something that is natural and should come easily. Love shouldn’t be painful, but it requires work to maintain a healthy relationship.

Observation:

One thing I can’t get used to in Korean dramas is that the characters are always overly concerned about the slightest physical ailment. Catch a cold? RUN TO THE HOSPITAL! Get a scratched knee? GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Cough a few times? OMG, CALL AN AMBULANCE.

Airdates: 

12 episodes ran on KBS2 from October 13 to November 18, 2017.

Spoiler Alert:

It isn’t until they go back to the past that the couple talks about the difficulties each faced in their relationship. Ban-Do warns Jin-Joo that the 26-year-old med student who is pursuing her is one of his clients (in his middle-aged life), who married his wife because she is rich. He has a string of mistresses and is only interested in Jin-Joo as a plaything. Jin-Joo says they should prevent the rich girl from marrying this awful boy. She comes up with a scheme to pretend that her grandfather is a Samsung CEO and that she’s richer than rich. Her theory is that the cheater will break up with his girlfriend to pursue Jin-Joo.

When Ban-Do is impressed with her plan, she tells him that he should never make fun of her watching K-Dramas — that you can learn more from them than any self-help book. 😂 PREACH!

Both Jin-Joo and Ban-Do have the opportunity to see each other again through fresh eyes, before the mundane and difficult aspects of everyday life beat them down.

Before going back to their present lives, Jin-Joo talks to her mother one last time. Her mother says that she’s not sure how this all happened, but that a parent dying first is the way life is meant to be. And that Seo-Jin needs her. She needs to get back to her baby. Hearing her mother say this provides Jin-Joo the strenth to let her go, knowing that she will never see her again.

TVXQ’s Yunho makes a cameo appearance as a handsome man who flattered Jin-Joo during her ajumma years. As it turns out, he flirted with all the women, hoping they would buy his merchandise.

© 2018 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

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