KBS Drama Special 2018 Recap: The Long Goodbye

After watching and recapping the very first episode of the KBS 2018 Drama Special series ‘Review Notebook of my Embarrassing Days’, I decided to watch the 6th part in the series titled ‘The Long Good-bye’ starring Lim Ju-hwan (Oh My Ghost) and Jang Hee-jin (On the Way to the Airport). The two play a couple who find themselves in an agonizing and troublesome relationship brought on by the pressures of their respective jobs.

KBS Drama Special 2018 Recap: The Long Goodbye/Farewell

Jung Yi-na (Jang Hee-jin) is fast asleep in the bedroom of the apartment while her boyfriend and writer Bae Sang-hee (Lim Ju-hwan) is asleep out on the couch in the living room. She wakes up and gets ready for work while he continues to sleep. Before leaving, Yi-na hands Sang-hee some money for the meeting he’ll be having that day with his friend and then exits from the apartment.

Once at work, Yi-na is called into a meeting with her boss. It doesn’t seem like good news. Meanwhile, Sang-hee wanders around a bookstore while he waits for his friend, Chang-yeon, to arrive. Sang-hee takes a look at his book ‘It’s Summer Time for Birds’ which was a popular hit when it first came out two years ago. Now, it’s not as high in demand and people seemed to have forgotten about it. At that moment, Chang-yeon discovers Sang-hee in the bookstore so the two colleagues catch up in a near-by cafe.

Chang-yeon himself is also a writer like Sang-hee, but he’s obviously not as popular and successful as Sang-hee. He questions when Sang-hee plans on releasing his next novel, but even Sang-hee himself doesn’t have a definite answer for it. Yi-na too isn’t too certain when Sang-hee will be publishing his next book. Her boss pressures her to persuade Sang-hee to speed up the process or else he is to return the $100,000 they’ve invested in him. Though Yi-na would like to give Sang-hee more time to write the novel, her boss isn’t as patient.

At home, Yi-na encourages Sang-hee to write his next novel within the 3 months time frame that her boss has given him. It’s been five years since his last novel, it’s about time he start writing a new one. She reminds him not to be pressured by the success he earned from his last novel and to just simply write.

During a work meeting, Yi-na is assigned to be the manager of a new writer, Kim Min-jae, even though she’s already managing two other writers (including Sang-hee himself). Later on that evening, Yi-na meets Min-jae during a team dinner. While Sang-hee attempts to start on his new novel, Sang-hee spends time at her friend, Gwi-jung’s, apartment so as to not disturb Sang-hee. Yi-na is confident that Sang-hee will finish the novel within 3 months. Maybe they can even get married afterwards if things end well. Gwi-jung suggests Yi-na just end her 8-year relationship with Sang-hee, but Yi-na doesn’t have any plans of doing so. She’s already been with Sang-hee for 8 years, it’d be a waste to just let go of the relationship now.

When Yi-na returns home that night, she finds Sang-hee sitting in the dark. He feels frustrated that he can’t seem to remember how to write. Yi-na lays down on the floor in front of him and comments that it must have been because his first novel was a huge success. However, he can still rise even if he’s fallen. Sang-hee lays himself down next to Yi-na and falls asleep with her.

Yi-na requests to meet with Min-jae to go over his manuscript for his new book. The two eventually meet at a cafe. However, to Yi-na’s surprise, Sang-hee is also at the same cafe. His friend Chang-yeon has a set up a special event for Sang-hee at the cafe to discuss about his writing as well as his future plans as a writer. Sang-hee witnesses Min-jae with Yi-na and grows both shocked and jealous. Min-jae gathers the courage to ask Sang-hee a question since Sang-hee is his favorite writer and assumes Sang-hee must be working on a new novel since he’s out promoting himself. Sang-hee hesitantly responds that he is indeed working on a new novel.

Chang-yeon, Sang-hee, Yi-na, and Min-jae all gather at a restaurant to have some drinks afterwards. Min-jae shares that he was inspired to become a writer after reading Sang-hee’s critically-acclaimed book. He feels grateful to be able to meet him and to work with a talented editor like Yi-na. While Min-jae is obviously in a good mood, Sang-hee and Yi-na aren’t enjoying the situation so much. On the ride back home, Yi-na is bothered that Sang-hee was called out to the event when he should have been at home writing. However, Sang-hee argues that staying at home doesn’t necessarily always help him write.

When the couple arrive at their apartment complex, Yi-na leaves to head home first while Sang-hee stays behind to smoke a cigarette. The two struggle to come to terms with their failing relationship. The next morning, Yi-na attends Min-jae’s photoshoot and helps him select head shots for his profile. Min-jae hands Yi-na two tickets to the musical play that his troupe will be performing and invites her to attend with Sang-hee.

So our couple spend some much needed time with each other while heading to the play. After having some fun, they arrive at the auditorium where the play will take place. However, Yi-na panics upon seeing her boss so she drags Sang-hee back outside and urges him to leave. While Yi-na distracts her boss from discovering Sang-hee, Sang-hee waits nearby out of the boss’s view and listens to Yi-na talk with her boss. Boss is still clearly frustrated with Sang-hee and also adds that editors who date writers never does well. Yi-na and her boss head back inside the auditorium while Sang-hee leaves for home.

When Yi-na arrives home, she finds Sang-hee sitting in the dark on the couch once again. She apologizes to him and checks in on him, but Sang-hee isn’t feeling so well. He questions his relationship with Yi-na and Yi-na’s feelings for him; all she ever talks to him about is his novel. She doesn’t seem to care about him or anything else other than his novel. Is that all he is to her? Yi-na grows angry and slams Sang-hee’s laptop on the ground. She walks out of the apartment afterwards and is followed by Sang-hee. He apologizes to her for the harsh words and embraces her in his arms.

Yi-na’s boss reminds everyone about their company event taking place in a few days. He has a meeting with Yi-na afterwards and also reminds her about Sang-hee’s deadline that is approaching. He only has about one more month to write his new novel; if he doesn’t submit anything by then, his contract with the company will end. Sang-hee visits the bookstore and discovers Min-jae’s new published novel stacked on the ‘Best New Releases’ table. The novel is doing extremely well. That night, Yi-na spends the night at Gwi-jung’s place while Sang-hee stays alone in the apartment.

It’s the day of the company event. Min-jae successfully finishes an interview with the media and heads inside the ballroom with Yi-na and Boss. However, things escalate when Sang-hee is also at the event. He sits with Boss and has a talk with him about their current situation. Boss suggests they end their contract, but Sang-hee won’t let things slide so easily. Sang-hee voices his frustration with Boss and claims that he never wanted the money he received from the company. It only made him feel more pressured to write the novel. Plus, all Boss does is fawn over writers and talk about releasing new books, but never actually cares for the writers.

Sang-hee isn’t finished as he moves on to Min-jae and gives him some tips on what to expect from Boss in the future as a writer. Yi-na attempts to stop Sang-hee from talking in the midst of all the chaos, but fails to get him to stop. It takes her one last plead for him to stop and a walk out of the room for Sang-hee to finally realize what he’s done.

Outside in the hallway, Sang-hee expresses the pain and hardships he’s been going through. However, he’s not the only one going through challenges as Yi-na too has been struggling. She grows exhausted of their situation and is bothered that her success and failures in life are dependent on Sang-hee’s. As she breaks down into tears, Sang-hee embraces her in his arms once more.

When they arrive at their apartment complex, Yi-na suggests they give back the $100,000 to the company. They can sell their house, move somewhere else, and live differently from their current lifestyle. Sang-hee gives in and agrees to Yi-na’s idea. However, Yi-na and Sang-hee can’t seem to break away from their past. Sang-hee meets with the principal of an elementary school in hopes of becoming a teacher, but the only thing the principal notices on his resume is his book. As Sang-hee and Yi-na look around for a new house to live in, the real estate employee assumes the two are a married couple. The situation turns awkward as marriage is something Yi-na and Sang-hee have been avoiding for almost a decade now.

Yi-na brings it up while the two have some food at a restaurant. She questions if they should register their marriage since it would make getting a loan for the house much easier. However, Sang-hee doesn’t say anything and Yi-na brushes off her suggestion. The two continue to clean things out from the apartment and pack for the new house. They go through each book on the bookshelf in the apartment and contemplate whether to keep the book or to throw it away.

Things seem to be going well for the both of them until the couple reach a dilemma on Sang-hee’s successful book ‘It’s Summer Time for Birds.’ Yi-na wishes to keep the book, but Sang-hee wants to throw it away. Suddenly, the two get into another argument with each other. Sang-hee’s doing all that Yi-na wanted him to do; why is she angry that he wants to throw the book away? Yi-na interprets Sang-hee’s words and assumes he’s blaming her for their current situation. While she stays behind and cries, Sang-hee storms out of the apartment.

The two finish packing and move all their boxes and belongings onto the moving truck. As Yi-na leaves to the new house first, Sang-hee stays behind at the apartment. Upon waiting for the elevator to open, he breaks down into tears. A few days later, Yi-na meets with Gwi-jung and the two head over to the stream to catch up. Yi-na reflects on her relationship with Sang-hee and notes that it took her 8 years to read Sang-hee. How long will it take her to forget about him? Back at the house, Sang-hee receives some inspiration and opens his laptop to start working on a new novel.

A year passes and Yi-na resumes her work as an editor. After work, she stops by a bookstore and checks out some of the books, including Sang-hee’s newest novel ‘The Long Good-bye.’ It’s his newest novel since six years ago when he published his first book. Reading some of the pages from the book causes Yi-na to reminisce about her past relationship with Sang-hee. Memories of their 7th year anniversary celebration flashes in her mind and she’s reminded of how they spent the special day with each other.

Now all of it is in the past and they’ve both moved on respectfully with their own lives. Yi-na exits from the bookstore and walks back home on the sidewalk.

My Thoughts:

Aww, what a bittersweet ending. Enduring a relationship for almost a decade and hoping to celebrate your successes with each other only to achieve that success once you separate and go your own ways. Sang-hee and Yi-na’s relationship was the primary factor preventing the two from doing better and just as Sang-hee was suffering from writer’s block, it was obvious the two were suffering in their relationship.

Maybe a part of it was because they were together for 8 years so they thought they should stick things out a little longer. Or maybe it was because they were genuinely in love and happy with each other and wanted to still be together. Or maybe it was because their professions were also dependent and intertwined with their relationship so they had to endure the suffocating relationship for the sake of their jobs. Whatever the reason was, it was evident that Sang-hee and Yi-na’s relationship was doing them more harm than good. Their respective jobs placed them in a difficult position and impacted their relationship; though it’s healthy to separate one’s professional life from one’s personal life, Yi-na and Sang-hee couldn’t practice that as easily.

I could see where both Yi-na and Sang-hee were coming from in their relationship. Yi-na’s job as an editor and manager of Sang-hee is to push him to write a novel and to succeed as a writer. She remained patient with both him and her boss and tried to meet both of their needs. It was especially difficult for her who was the middleman of it all. Yi-na’s well aware that the company invested lots of money into Sang-hee so he should do his part and commit to writing a novel. However, Yi-na is also well aware of Sang-hee’s writer’s block and the pressure to succeed just as much as he did with his first novel. How do you write a novel when you know everyone is expecting you to write one that was just as good as your first one and even better? What if you don’t meet those expectations? What if your second novel never does as well and doesn’t even come to close to succeeding at all?

It just so happened that Sang-hee’s first novel was extremely successful so there was immediate and immense pressure to follow up with another successful novel. It also didn’t help that his girlfriend of 8 years was also pushing him to write a book that he knew he should be writing but couldn’t bring himself to doing. It even made Sang-hee question his relationship with Yi-na. What is the basis of their relationship and with what foundations is it built upon? Are they really together because they love each other and want to be together or are they only together because their professions are dependent on the relationship? I think Sang-hee brought up some really good points as he was trying to make sense of his relationship with Yi-na as well as his life.

How sad was it that Sang-hee was only able to write his new novel as he and Yi-na ended their relationship. The relationship was the one thing holding him back from writing and he only received inspiration to write once they broke up. The two have created and shared many great memories with each other the past 8 years, but they also went through plenty of struggles during those times. Since the two weren’t able to escape from their past and these pressures, they decided to end things as it was the better (and only) solution to their issues. Of course, it took them 8 years to finally realize that separation was the only option they had, but they eventually came to that conclusion at the end. That’s why it took them such a long time to just bid farewell with each other, hence, the title of Sang-hee’s new book ‘The Long Goodbye.’

As with ‘Review Notebook of My Embarrassing Days’, ‘The Long Goodbye’ was a stable, decent, and structured one-episode drama special. Storytelling was strong and you could definitely sense the conflicting thoughts that Yi-na and Sang-hee were facing in their relationship. The directing was also well done with cinematography looking beautiful (I wanted to screenshot almost everything!) and editing nicely executed. Lim Ju-hwan and Jang Hee-jin were also awesome in this, and the two made a nice pair with each other.

Though ‘The Long Goodbye’ was only an hour long, it was packed with stories about a couple struggling to come to terms with angst, grief, love, and hardships. And as we saw in the drama, the only way they were able to overcome their relationship issues was by separating and going through them alone. Sometimes, not all things last and that’s okay.

Bonus: Extra screenshots from the episode~

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