Cutting into Korean drama: 9 end 2 outs (2007) Review/Analysis

Cutting into 9 end 2 outs (2007): My favorite Korean drama… it think.

Hello. This is AKIA Talking now from Korea. This is another article in my Korean drama fan movie edit series. Today, I’ll be cutting into “9 end 2 outs” (2007).

What is your favorite anything?  Do you have one in any particular category? Other than as an instant reaction to this question, formulating a serious answer to this question does take some mental effort as you have to weigh in all the experiences you’ve had in the category. In the case of Korean dramas, I think it is “9 end 2 outs” (2007) for me. I may be missing something, a show, prior to the 2000s Korean drama era but this is my conclusion at the moment.

Why is “9 end 2 outs” (2007) my favorite among the dozens of Korean dramas I have seen? The answer requires putting a lot of words on paper. If you have read a lot of my stuff, you know I love to do that although I cannot really type if you could even call what I do as typing. Bad jokes aside, what makes anything your favorite? Do you know or is it just a feeling?

If it is just a feeling, this is the result of either not having examined what the thing that is your favorite is or not really understanding who you are. More commonly it is rather a combination of both of these stuff since both do require a lot of waking hours delving deep into the subject matter. This was also the case of myself as I had difficulty pinpointing, among the many pretty good Korean dramas, why this one was my favorite. It was not my first great Korean drama. So, there is not the “first loss of Korean virginity” thing going on.

Up to some days prior to this moment, I had not really dissected “9 end 2 outs” (2007) as a piece of art before even after many viewings. I had been put in a lot of hours looking into my inner soul trying to understand myself before. However, it seems that I have a lot of surprises to explore within myself. Creating a Korean drama movie edit of this Korean drama did let me explore both the drama and myself. The result was that I got my answer of why “9 end 2 outs” (2007) is my favorite.

The show
I have done a review of this show before so I will not go into details about every aspect of this Korean drama. Here is a link to my review. However, I will provide some information. If I were to give a brief synopsis of the plot, it would go something like this.

You have a “Girl” now 30 years old who is an editor or account manager at a small publishing house by trade and a struggling armature writer by passion. You also have a “Guy”, also 30 years old, who is something of a commercial producer and is still pinning over his first love who is a musician that dumped his behind years ago.  These two have been friends from almost the womb and end up living together for the first time because of “events” and the “Girl” wants to try to somehow break into being a published author. As a comment, in this world, there does not seem to be the concept of self-publishing. The majority of the show is these two friends of the opposite genders living together, chatting, and hanging.  That is the show and it is rather wonderful.

What is up with this show and myself?
There are several aspects to this show that really pushes my buttons. I will lay out in front of you. First, this show is, I think, the closest Korean drama ever got to being an American drama. More accurately, it is close to an American drama/dramady circa 1990 to 2000s. Just think about it.

The show is just about these two people hanging around and dealing with just daily normal stuff which does include romance issues. Prominent Korean drama elements such as family, society, wealth, and class barely play a part in the show’s narrative. Even work related stuff play only a minor role beyond the characters’ examination identity and future goals. The themes of the show are about self-exploration and, to a degree, formulating a non-conventional pseudo-family unit beyond the common conventions of both Korean drama and Korean society. These are the hallmark themes of American drama and even American TV shows as a whole. I cannot name another Korean drama that did this to the level of “9 end 2 outs” (2007).

In the character dynamics and scene compositions, “9 end 2 outs” (2007) is extremely two lead centric. What I mean by this is that about 50% of the scenes in the show are the two leads either just hanging and talking or doing stuff together like eating breakfast together. I think in the whole show’s run, there are more than 15 scenes of them eating together including drinking together scenes. Think that is a record.

Not only this but also most of the scenes of the show have at least one of the two lead characters present. I estimate that initially 95% of the scenes, at least, had one lead character in them. In the latter parts of the show, this dropped to something above 90% but I’ll cover this later. Have you seen this kind of focus in a common Korean drama? You only really see this in single camera American/English dramas for the most part.

Let’s look at the character interactions. “9 end 2 outs” (2007) is based on the foundation of the lead characters banter to the degree that the English subtitles commonly seen with this show does not do the show justice. I mean this. It really digs deep into the verbal bantering tradition that reaches back to the black and white movie era. Think “His “Girl” Friday” (1940) but without all the aggressive shop talk. I image, if Amy Sherman-Palladino of the show “Gilmore “Girl”s” (2000-2007) or Richard Linklater, the director/writer of the “Before Sunset” movie series, made a Korean drama, the result would be something like “9 end 2 outs” (2007).

It sometimes reminds me of the American sitcom “Mad about you” (1992-1999).
I love that show even though it is not as well thought about today compared to Seinfeld or Friends.

So why does this push my buttons? Well it is somewhat of a nostalgia thing as I did grow up on the pre-2000s American dramadies. They have a special place in my heart. In addition, this type of shows has been fading out of the American TV scene since we entered the 21st century which does bring up a feeling of loss whenever I think about it.

On a thematic level, as with many pre-2000s American dramadies, “9 end 2 outs” (2007) does deal with simple human experiences such as seeing your youth fad away.

I do have not had an affair.
I am not a member of an extremely rich family.
I do not have any personal vendettas.

So, I have nothing personally in common with the majority of Korean dramas. However, I was and am still aging like the characters in “9 end 2 outs” (2007). This show reached my at the time in which I was experiencing the same process of aging that the characters were going through. I was over 30 years old and even the false hope of fame and glory was becoming a distant dream. As a result, I have a deep emotional connection with the show.

The “Girl” of my dreams?
And there is the lead female character of the show. And I do not mean actress but the character. It is easy to confuse the two. I also was unsure about this distinction before. I thought I liked the actress, Soo Ae, after watching the show. However, I never really like any of the stuff she did after or prior to this show. This does tend to happen a lot for me.

What was going on?

While I was cutting into “9 end 2 outs” (2007), I had a flash of insight. I really liked the character that the actress Soo Ae played in “9 end 2 outs” (2007) because… the resulting character was close to my ideal female image. I haven’t really known that I had an ideal female image prior to this insight.

In the movie “Gone Girl” (2014), the lead actress said that she became the “Cool Girl”. In that context, the cool girl is a mix of sexy minks and a chum/bro. It seems that my ideal female image is a variation on this “Cool Girl” but with less the sexy minks and more of the chum/bro element. In addition, you need to add some spunk and goofiness into the mix. So, it ends up being a more intellectual version of a tomboy that you could just hang with having both deep and stupid conversations at the same time. This basically ends up being close to the lead female character, Hong Nan-hee.

It also does not hurt and seriously helps with the attractiveness of the character that she is a writer. Even before I had the balls to even acknowledged that I wanted to write, stories about writers had always been an attraction to me. Some people tend to find those stories pretentious with suffering writers as protagonists. However, it was a plus for me. So, the combination of all these elements make “9 end 2 outs” (2007) a show for my own heart.

My favorite but far from perfect
Since I have been writing a lot with my armature writing goggles on, I tend to see the blueprints of a story when reading, watching, and hearing a story. You can trace the process of how the writer developed the story. It seems to be my superpower..? In the case of “9 end 2 outs” (2007), while being as close to an American show I have ever seen, it cannot avoid the pitfall of being a Korean drama.

The primary sin of being a Korean drama is the lack of plot. The next big sin is that lack of courage to go further beyond the superficial level in regard to the characters’ internal motivations and psyches. “9 end 2 outs” (2007) does not avoid these sins. At the same time, it is not going to hell or going to languish in purgatory. It does end skating barely by the pearly gates of heaven but just barely.

With the way “9 end 2 outs” (2007) is set up, it is not as hungry for plot as current Korean dramas. The strong focus on two lead characters, the focus on character development and banter means that you can really write an episode about nothing and still make it a great piece of TV. It is just about two people going about their lives loving and hanging around. There are many interesting stories to come from this situation. However, it still needs plot at least those generated internally.

External plot are those story elements originating from events or characters not under the control of the protagonists. On the other hand, internal plot is generated by the internal motivations of the protagonist. In the case of “9 end 2 outs” (2007), the female character moving in with the male character can be seen as internal plot. The sudden pop in of the lead characters’ old exes can be seen as external plot.

Considering that one of the themes of the show is maturing as an adult while still maintaining the hope of youth, there is no real reason for “9 end 2 outs” (2007) to lack plot. You can write several seasons of an American dramedy out of this setup well. However, “9 end 2 outs” (2007) fails to really nail it as a lot of the internal plot ends up short to the punch as the characters’ motivations tend to be meandering.

This is where we need to go a little deeper with the characters in writing terms. I have to ask the writer…”What is with the leads of “9 end 2 outs” (2007)?” I would have to say…they suffer from being defined with only a few elements and general meandering. What do I mean?

With the “Girl”, she is defined by her passion for writing, uncertainty regarding her future, being in a friend zone, and insecurity with dating a much younger “Guy”. With the “Guy”, he is defined by his pinning for an ex-Girlfriend, being in a friend zone, and observing/taking care of the “Girl”. Among the two leads, the “Girl” has more internal motivations compared to the “Guy” who ends up being more or less the observer to the “Girl”’s relatively more active internal motivations.

What do you think about theses character motivations? For the common Korean drama, there is enough good stuff in regard to internal plot. However, “9 end 2 outs” (2007) is not the typical Korean drama. Its strong focus on the two lead characters means that there is not as much space for external plot. It means that the internal motivations are more important to creating plot. With “9 end 2 outs” (2007), the results have issues.

For most of the early parts of the show, most of the internal character motivations work in the back ground. In the forefront, we have “Girl” dating, breaking up, dating, and breaking up with her much younger boyfriend. . We have the “Girl” go through that and the “Guy” just watching over her while fighting and hanging with her. And, for a few episodes, it is pretty interesting as relationships composed of love and insecurities are true to life.

Taking the easy way out
The direct problem with these early episodes is that the most of the other motivations of the “Girl” including her passion for writing takes a back seat. This is also true for the “Guy”’s motivations. However, this is not a serious problem on its own. It becomes more of the problem in combination with the later episodes. Simply stated, the younger boyfriend thing drags on longer than it should while not being replaced fast enough by the characters’ other motivations before one has to deal with the friend zone stuff at the tail end of the show.

The show is composed of about 8 or so acts along 16 episodes. Once the younger boyfriend plot ends about midpoint of the show, the show has a huge two act or so size hole in its story. It is like the writer was not confident enough with dealing with the non-love stuff and thus ended up procrastinating until it was rather too late. So, how does the show deal with this? Well it tries to change the structure of the show and also inserts cliché and unwanted external plots into the fold.

As I said previously, primarily, this show is a two lead focus show. It is nowhere close to an ensemble show. However, the show tries to make it an ensemble show midway through its run. During the earlier episodes, there were a few old friends who oddly pop into the story who do not seem to have any direct relevance to the plot. I just thought they were attempting to do guest star stuff like American shows do.

However, these characters come into the later episodes to fill up the empty spaces in the plot with stuff that were still rather irrelevant to what came before. It seems that the show now wanted to be a show about a group of people and not only just the two leads. This change in format never works. It just felt like irrelevant filler. As a result, the final episode is basically epilogue with multiple plot endings which is not a right fit for a two lead focus show. And the show is two lead focus show even with all the late in the game meddling.

It is very jarring.

At the same time, some of these extra characters act as external plot devices too. More accurately as replacement love interests which are unnecessary at that stage of the game. This means that rather than getting into more internal motivated plots, the writer ended up going the easy route. And cheap love rival thing is an extremely easy route to take.

What could have been?
The sad thing about these decisions is that things could have gone far better. There were still a lot of internal motivations that could be used to tell interesting stories especially in regard to the “Girl”. The “Girl” has the largest character arc in the show. She has to deal with love. She has to deal with the “Guy” and the friend zone thing. She has to deal with being a professional editor. She has to deal with being a writer.

In regard to the latter two, the show has not as much development for them as should have been. They are rather rushed to be frank at the tail end of the show. It is not as noticeable if this was a movie but is very noticeable as a 16 hour show. There are just long periods in the middle of the show were the “Girl” does not talk about writing. And to be frank, I am not sure even if the “Girl” has any talent at writing. To go further, I have no real idea of what she is writing about since there are barely any specifics shown regarding that oh so important subject.

There is only one scene in the whole show that shows what she is going for. She seems to be going the fantasy fusion history story genre stuff from sole scene in the 16 hour show.  Leaving aside I would actually watch a show like what was shown with those actors, it is really weird that the actual details of being a writer other than sitting around procrastinating is not covered in detail in a show about a writer. It would be similar to a show about a banker that does not show anything about banking.

This is Korean drama.
I think they did that.

The “Guy”, let’s talk about him. The “Guy” is far less developed or useful as a character especially in providing internal plot. The “Guy” actually does not have as much of an arc compared to the “Girl”. And I am not being bias towards him because of my attraction towards the “Girl”. He stops pinning for his ex and ends up leaving the friend zone. That is basically all he does. He is already successful in his career. He does not seem to be anything else like the “Girl”. His only issues were his love life. Thus, he is a far less interesting character. He is the “one who waits” in the narrative.

Another thing that suffered by the introduction of secondary characters late in the game was that this gap could have been filled with the existing minor supporting characters who were far more interesting than the new secondary characters. For example, the younger female coworker of the “Girl”. The older coworkers of the “Guy”. All of these characters are far more interesting than how they were used in the show. We missed out the opportunity for at least filler with interesting minor characters.

Fan editing
While I have been criticizing the show for at least 1500 words, the show is still my favorite Korean drama. So, I actually had a difficult time editing this show to run under 3 hours and 20 minutes. There are a lot of decent scenes which serve basically the same purposes in the narrative but are still rather wonderful and unique in their own ways. Selecting among them required some thought.

And I decided to rename the movie cut as "Roommates".
In regard to the plots, I tried to remove all stuff that was not related to the two leads’ character arcs. The “Girl’s” arc is that she starts out frustrated with her professional life, her writing, and her love life. At the end of her arc, she starts to take being an editor seriously, she really gave an effort in trying to become a published writer, and she lets go of one love and gets another who she can share all of her life with. With the “Guy’s” arc, as I said previously, he gets over his ex and lands a lifelong partner and a friend.

Let’s go into specifics. The first subplot the show has is the whole “how we got to live together” subplot. This is kept in edit but rather than starting from the beginning,  I did a “In medias res”. I started the movie “in the midst of things" in this subplot and used flash backs to fill out the story. The second subplot is the whole “Girl” and younger boyfriend break up, get back, break up again, will be getting married, than break plot that lasts for 2/3 of the show. I cut this plot at the first break up point. This break up is used to lead into the third subplot. This is the “we are living together and getting on each other’s’ nerves” subplot. Rather than putting as much weight on this as the show did, I used it to conclude the second subplot.

The fourth subplot is the “Guy” dating his coworker while having feelings for both his ex and the “Girl” story. This is just made in order for the “Guy” to have something to do while the “Girl” is on an emotional roller-coaster that is her relationship with her younger boy friend. Thus, I say what fourth subplot? This goes the same for the fifth subplot with the “Girl’s” ex-boyfriend which I have no idea why it exists.

The sixth subplot is the high school writer who likes the “Girl’s” younger boy friend and works with the “Girl” subplot. This plot has two functions. The first is to shake the “Girl’s” relationship and is rather boring. The second is to facilitate the “Girl’s” growth as an editor. This is actually interesting since it is directly related to character development. Thus, I only kept scenes that did the second function.

The seventh subplot is the “Girl’s” female friend who had a lot debt subplot which is pure filler and thus is gone. Then finally, there is the “Guy’s” ex coming back out of the blue to reconnect with the “Guy” at the tail end of the show. If the show was to go in this direction, it should have been earlier in the show. Not only is it just used as an artificial obstacle to the two lead getting where there are going to get to but it also gets roped into the whole trying to be an ensemble show change that does not work.  So, I decided to cut this out totally.

The movie edit goes thusly. First act, the two leads move in with flashbacks. Second act, the “Girl” breaks up with her young boyfriend and the “Guy”, as a friend, helps her with the aftermath. Third act, the two leads bond further, as friends, while the “Girl” deals with her writing and editor issues. So, this is a character growth act. The fourth act, the two leads have sparks of romance but are hesitant. The final act has two struggle with their decisions and leads to the conclusion of the show which is basically “When Harry met Sally” (1989).

“9 end 2 outs” (2007) is my favorite show because of the stated reasons above. The movie edit seems to be in a decent state currently. However, because of the lack of tail end character arc development by the show, the final act conflict resolution seems a little weak.

Oh, and I cut out most of the baseball references. 
It never worked properly. 

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Fan Movie Title: Roommates (Streaming Link) Link Dead
Length: 3:20:00
Version: 0.7  (1.0 is complete)


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