Our Blues depicts the lives of the inhabitants of Pureung, Jeju Island as they experience the highs and lows of life. Picking up where it left off, Our Blues had consistently climbing viewership ratings as the drama continued to explore relationships between a variety of diverse characters.

The second half of Our Blues dived into the lives of previously-introduced characters as well as new faces. Most of the new characters in the latter half of the drama are visitors from the mainland, including Ko Mi-ran (Uhm Jung-hwa), the Seoul-dwelling, longtime best friend of Jung Eun-hui (Lee Jung-eun). Another visitor and new character is Lee Yeong-hui (Jung Eun-hye), the twin sister of Lee Yeong-ok (Han Ji-min), who is revealed to be the secret Yeong-ok has been keeping from everybody else in Pureung. The adorable Son Eun-gi (Ki So-yu) also visits her grandma Hyeong Chun-hui (Ko Du-shim) in Pureung when her dad, Chun-hui’s son, is in a serious accident.

This review contains spoilers for episodes 11 to 20 of the drama.

Like the stories relayed in the first half of the drama, Our Blues continues to show a range of relationships between family and friends and lovers. Pureung serves as a microcosm of human connection, and the drama explores the various methods through which people can hurt, forgive, and love each other.

Mi-ran and Eun-hui, polar opposites but best friends since childhood, seemingly get along incredibly well. However, first impressions are never correct in Our Blues, and their story highlights the complexity of friendship. Like all relationships, it requires work, communication, and loyalty, and as the two ladies learn, friendship should never be taken for granted. 

In terms of romance, the budding relationship between haenyeo Yeong-ok and boat captain Park Jeong-jun (Kim Woo-bin) is not all smooth sailing as Yeong-ok’s secret finally comes to light. Though Yeong-ok’s mysterious someone had been a subject of speculation among other Pureung residents, the true identity of this figure is finally revealed to be Yeong-hui, her twin sister with Down Syndrome.

While most of the drama focuses on telling a story with two characters as its focus, Yeong-ok, Yeong-hui, and Jeong-jun’s story is the only to feature a trio. The trio’s story is another indication of the drama’s commitment to highlighting a wide range of people. Yeong-hui exists as more than an obstacle in Yeong-ok and Jeong-jun’s relationship, though Yeong-ok does try to push Jeong-jun away when Yeong-hui’s identity is initially revealed.

Instead, Yeong-hui’s unexpected visit to Jeju Island brings up her complicated relationship with Yeong-ok and the even more complex feelings the two sisters have for each other. Indeed, Yeong-hui is characterized beyond her disability and her relationship to Yeong-ok. In Pureung, she shares a drink with Yeong-ok and her friends, talks openly about wanting to be loved, and displays her art for the very first time. Jang Eun-hye, who plays Yeong-hui, is in real life a painter with Down Syndrome, and Yeong-hui’s portraits of the Pureung residents are from the actor herself.

Yeong-hui is not the only character in Our Blues with a disability. Byeol (Lee So-byeol) is a deaf character played by an actress with a hearing impairment. Byeol, who sells coffee in the local village market and whose sister is a haenyeo, had subtle appearances in the earlier episodes of the drama. Though Byeol does not get the same depth of characterization as other characters, the drama does make a point to emphasize her autonomy as she states that her disability does not take away her right to reject romantic interest in her.

Our Blues includes a wide range of subjects, from teenage pregnancy to mental health to disability, but it saves its real tearjerkers for the end of its run. The penultimate story focuses on the most senior haenyeo Chun-hui and her granddaughter Eun-gi, who is dropped off when her dad, Chun-hui’s son, is in a serious accident. As the young Eun-gi prepares to spend time with her grandma, she rehearses the lie she will tell Chun-hui instead of admitting to her dad’s comatose state. Eun-gi’s time in Pureung is heartbreaking; the tragic circumstances of her visit contrasts with her liveliness and the animations on screen that accompany her vivid imagination. In one of the drama’s cheesier moments, the residents of Pureung unite to light up the sea to grant Eun-gi’s wishes.

Fittingly, the final story to close out Our Blues is Dong-seok and Kang Ok-dong’s (Kim Hye-ja) story. The complicated relationship between mother and son had been told in bits and pieces throughout the drama, hinting at their past tragedy in flashbacks and the future heartbreak that awaits them in the form of Ok-dong’s terminal cancer. They go on a trip together, at the request of Ok-dong, and during the course of their trip, Dong-seok unpacks his resentment towards his mother, while Ok-dong finally expresses her regret over some of her life choices. Their reconciliation is quickly followed by Ok-dong’s death, which had been foreshadowed since the beginning of the drama. Her death, along with the birth of Bang Young-joo (Roh Yoon-seo) and Jung Hyun’s (Bae Hyun-sung) daughter, is a nod to the circle of life.

The drama, however, does not dwell on unhappiness. The characters always find a way to smile again, and the show comes to a close with a sports day with all of the characters featured throughout the drama’s run. Unconventional in both format and subject matter, Our Blues is dedicated to the hardships and happiness that people experience at every stage of their lives that is equal amounts heartbreaking and heartwarming.

(Newsen, Gukje News, images via tvN)