“It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.”
– Anna Wintour
It’s a story of saying goodbye in different patterns and phases of life. Now, We Are Breaking Up is not just a melodrama about two people literally breaking up; it’s about standing up against all odds, losing chances and gaining them back, and learning to live with grief. It is definitely a cryfest, and while some criticize the “boring” storyline, this is not marketed as a rom-com drama, to begin with.
BREAKING UP WITH RESENTMENT
Right from the get-go, the drama is transparent about Young-eun’s (Song Hye-kyo) past. Jae-guk’s (Jang Ki-yong) older brother is Young-eun’s ex-lover, Soo-wan (Shin Dong-wook). They met in Paris when Jae-guk asked Soo-wan to deliver Young-eun’s portfolio for him. It’s a twist of fate and a whirlwind romance. Unbeknownst to Young-eun, Soo-wan has a fiancé back in Seoul. She gave up everything in Paris to be with Soo-wan back home, but the two of them didn’t even meet because Soo-wan died of a car accident on his way to the meeting place.
For the last 10 years, Young-eun lived an empty life, burying herself with work to make up for the resentment she felt against Soo-wan. In her point of view, she was stood up by the man she considered spending the rest of her life with. Every day became a tedious cycle of questioning the what-ifs but she pulled through. And now, even without the closure she deserved, she thrived in her career, leading a homegrown brand she tended herself. Despite the hesitations and regrets, Young-eun became her best self out of a relationship without ending.
BREAKING UP WITH UNCERTAINTY
Living a life full of regrets will never be easy even after so many years. You will be haunted by endless questions about self-worth and fleeting passion. This only gets worse with age. It’s getting harder day by day because age will always be a factor. Is it too late to start again? Is giving up the right thing to do? Letting go of something you’ve been doing for the past 10 years, no matter how half-heartedly, is a hard decision. And finally, Young-eun mustered up the courage that’s sleeping within her heart – and left her job with a smile. Failure is always a scary possibility, but making the first move towards her dream is half the battle already.
I like how the drama is filled with mature decisions. The characters are weighing in on their every move because they know the value of what a single step can make. Young-eun left her comfort zone – stable career, secured income, competent team – to build her own brand with her vision without asking for anyone’s approval. It’s the most fulfilling decision, and I am glad to witness such character growth in this drama.
BREAKING UP WITH FATE
If there’s one thing that Young-eun and Jae-guk’s love story tells us, it’s “love is eternal.” Theirs is a love that’s too deep to understand, which sadly most viewers who dropped the show failed to see. If you only view love at surface value, full of butterflies and cheesy lines, this is not the kind of love for you. I tried to look at the love they had from the writer’s perspective and honestly, even I had a hard time.
I was always questioning them why do they need to break up when they loved each other so much. Why do they care about what other people say? But then, at the end of the day, those “other people” are their parents. I don’t want to judge a person by how they value their parent’s opinion because all of us have different upbringings. It’s just sad that even though Young-eun said they chose to break up on their own and not to please anyone, the truth stands that they indeed broke up.
For the short time that Young-eun and Jae-guk shared their love for each other, both of them evolved into better versions of themselves. They used that strong affection to move beyond their comfort zones and live their dreams. Jae-guk chose Paris because it’s the best decision given his situation. If he didn’t push through with that, he will become just like Young-eun, full of regrets. On the other hand, Young-eun chose to stay because her friend is dying, and she wants to build her brand. Paris is not for her, she’s accepted it.
BREAKING UP WITH LIFE
Mi-sook’s (Park Hyo-joo) story is probably the most heartbreaking side story in the drama, even worse than the main couple’s break-up. When your days are numbered, you get a different perspective of life. You are living on borrowed time, and let go of everything just hurts so bad. But eventually, you have to accept reality and move forward because life is now literally short.
I know it’s hard for Mi-sook to leave everyone, especially her daughter behind. But honestly, she did a good job in her last moments. She had a clear foresight of what needed to be done, and her motherly instincts did not fail her. I don’t want to delve into the cheating issue of her husband, and while I did not agree with her decision to just accept her husband’s mistress, I could not entirely blame her for this. She hopes one day her daughter will have a mother figure to look up to, and this means marrying again for Soo-ho, even if it hurts, Mi-sook will be the bigger person and give her blessing.
BREAKING UP WITH EXPECTATIONS
Arguably the best character development in the story – Hwang Chi-sook (Choi Hee-seo) is one of the favorites in the drama. We met her as a person with a rich girl attitude and a high sense of entitlement, but deep inside she’s just a broken, insecure woman who thinks that men are only after her dad’s money. She has these insane expectations about dating in general – yet she’s still willing to take a risk with love. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and she is always ready to go against her father. At first, I thought her story arc will just be another you-and-me against my strict daddy type of romance, but thankfully it was not. Maybe because she’s not a chaebol (they’re rags-to-riches new money rich but still grounded family).
When Vision PR CEO Seok Do-hoon (Kim Joo-hoon) entered her life, everything changed for the better. She became grounded. She was used to having cleaning up her mess (thanks to Young-eun), but the Do-hoon taught her to take responsibility for her actions. He taught her what it means to genuinely love someone, too. And even though she’s still a work in progress, I love how Do-hoon is super patient with her. He is a man with convictions and knows his boundaries. Almost perfect 😦 No wonder even Chi-sook’s father approved him even before they were officially a couple.
BREAKING UP WITH FAMILY
There are so many punchable characters in this drama that I almost dropped it. First, Jae-guk’s (step)mother (Cha Hwa-yeon), whose life goal nowadays seems to always be a terror mom-in-law to Song Hye-kyo. The only thing why I feel like Jae-guk did the right thing in choosing Paris over love was his stepmother. When it gets too difficult to deal with family, it’s fine to cut them off – either temporarily or permanently. In Jae-guk’s case, it’s just temporary, but he definitely made the right choice. He did not run away, he just left to resolve the conflict and friction between him and his mom. Theirs is a case of time heals wounds; it’s just unfortunate that this is at the expense of Jae-guk’s greatest love.
Next are Young-eun’s parents. After spending 40 years together, Young-eun’s mother Jung-ja (Nam Gi-ae) decides to divorce her husband Hong-il (Choi Hong-il). While this came as a shock to Young-eun’s dad, it’s been what kept Jung-ja motivated all these years. The little things that in Hong-il’s point of view did not matter, in Jung-ja’s eyes it’s everything. The yearning of one’s self and slowly losing who you’ve been – it’s one of the most painful feelings ever. And now that they’re not together anymore, it’s amazing how they started to understand each other better and care for each other more. Who knows, they might be back together in their next lives?
👗 One of my disappointments in the drama is the lack of screen time for Hwang Chi-hyung (Oh Se-hun). I know most of the young ones who really hyped up the show are his fans, and it’s quite annoying that he didn’t have many lines. I just hoped they played more with his fish-out-of-water trope love line with So-young (Ha Young).
👗 I had fun watching the behind-the-scenes in the fashion industry, especially the brainstorming, politics, garment sourcing, and the likes!
👗 Props to the screenwriter, Je-in, who never fails to come up with the best monologues and dialogues in her dramas! I loved Misty so much that I was not surprised about the quotable quotes of Young-eun in Now, We Are Breaking Up. Admit it though, this drama felt like Song Hye-kyo’s ode to her old self.
👗 This friendship – literally through life and death.