Because This is My First Life

“I think I've already become a failure in this life, but I'll try my best.” –Yoon Ji Ho (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“Going through this life is the first time for all of us anyway.” –Nam Se Hee (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“Come to think of it, I've never been a striker in my life. I've always defended myself and stepped back at the right timing. I have neither the courage to take the ball nor the experience to avoid it. I'm an amateur defender.” –Yoon Ji Ho (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“You mentioned your age is 30. It's the limit of your neocortex. It is located at the outer part of your brain and is in charge of the concept of time. Cats don't have neocortex unlike humans, so they don't get bored or depressed even if they have the same food or do the same things in the same house in their daily lives. Cats have neither a future nor a past. Only one kind of species on Earth lock themselves up in time. They're human beings. Only human beings use age to make others spend money and draw emotions. That's what humans got in exchange for evolution.” –Nam Se Hee (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“There's a side to you that you never wish to show others no matter how close you are to them. Sometimes, your family can become the least close people to you. When I decided to follow my dream I thought my life would be like walking through a dark tunnel, but I didn't know it'd be this dark. I didn't know it'd be this lonely. How much longer do I have to go?” –Yoon Ji Ho (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

Have you ever felt exhausted, so much until you feel like this life is especially harsh towards you only? Have you ever felt excluded, so much until you feel like there is no kind of companion that could wash your loneliness away? Have you ever felt numb, so much until you feel like there is no need to fight the main stream in this life and just go with the flow? At some point in our life, to some extent, I bet everyone has ever felt that way. And I guess it is fine when sometimes we feel like not doing anything and just having some rest. I guess it is fine when sometimes we feel like taking a break from our daily routines just for breathing and thinking more all by ourselves. I guess it is fine when sometimes we feel like spending time all alone after making some mistakes at work or relationships with others. I guess it is fine when we decide some things that are against the common knowledge of the society where we live in. For this is the first time we live. For this is our first life as this human we are. “Because This is My First Life” is a Korean drama series that resonates well with people’s anxiety and point of view towards career, relationship, and marriage in today’s modern society, particularly the young-adult generation.

"Because This is My First Life" official series poster | source:

Title : Because This is My First Life/This Life is Our First
Genre : romantic comedy, drama
Starring : Lee Min Ki, Jung So Min, Esom, Kim Ga Eun, Kim Min Seok, Park Byung Eun
Channel : tvN
No. of episodes : 16
Original broadcast : October – November 2017

“Because This is My First Life” is a Korean drama series broadcasted by tvN cable television network during October to November 2017. The storyline of this series revolves around three young-adult couple who are connected to each other, as they face their own dilemmas in life, particularly regarding career, romance relationship, and marriage. First couple is the main characters, 38 year-old Nam Se Hee (portrayed by Lee Min Ki) and 30 year-old Yoon Ji Ho (portrayed by Jung So Min), who were meeting by fate one day, not knowing that they would be a housemate because a mistake made by their peers. Second couple is both 30 year-old Yang Ho Rang (portrayed by Kim Ga Eun) and Shim Won Seok (portrayed by Kim Min Seok). They had been dating for 7 years since they were both in college. Though they were already living together, their financial issues had made it quite hard for them to get married immediately. Third couple is 30 year-old Woo Soo Ji (portrayed by Esom) and 38 year-old Ma Sang Goo (portrayed by Park Byung Eun), who were having a one-night-stand before meeting each other again because of business relation as well as their close peer-to-peer.
How were those people connected? Ji Ho, Ho Rang, and Soo Ji were bestfriends since highschool. They were first moving to Seoul from their hometown to study in college before finally graduating and working there. Won Seok, who was a longtime boyfriend of Ho Ran, was acquaintance with Ji Ho and Soo Ji since they went to Seoul National University. He had a senior in the same digital application business who was happened to be Sang Goo, the CEO of a mobile application developer. One of Sang Goo’s employee, as well as his close friend, was Se Hee. When Se Hee was looking for a tenant to help him pay for his house installments fee, Sang Goo asked Won Seok whether he had a friend who was looking for a rented room. Won Seok, not knowing that Se Hee was a man, asked Ho Rang whether Ji Ho was still looking for a room. Ji Ho, at that moment, was indeed looking for a place to stay with low price since she was recently kicked out from her previous house because her little brother got married. After all the accidental mess caused by the misunderstanding, one day, they were surprised to hear the news that Se Hee and Ji Ho was deciding to get married.

source: tvN

It actually took some time for me to write this review, since “Because This is My First Life” was so rich in terms of life’s value in the script of the storyline. Somehow, every couple depicted in this drama series has some things that I feel resonated with. So actually it was hard for me to describe it in such simple and short way about how this drama series had successfully come closer to our reality than any other series. However, I would be a bad writer if I cannot do that. So let me try. Okay, first of all, I will begin with Woo Soo Ji and Ma Sang Goo couple. As a human, we cannot choose who we were going to be born as, in which and what kind of family, and where or when. We cannot choose who were happened to be our parents, or whether we were raised by a single parent. We cannot choose whether we were born in a rich or poor family. All that we can do is just roll with it. We deal with it as we live. And the only choice we have is the way of how we deal with those things that were given in our life.
Soo Ji chose to work her ass off to make a better living for her mother, even if it means she had to work among all-male sexist colleagues that hurt her pride every time they made jokes on her. As long as she was paid well, she thought she could hang on. She lived as if it were her own choice, not knowing that she chose that out of certain situation that had forced her to have that choice as her own. However, as a man who loved her, Sang Goo couldn’t stand this situation. Knowing Soo Ji’s character as a bold and independent woman, what he tried to do was giving her courage to stand for herself. He knew he couldn’t strangle her for the sake of keeping her safe. Hence he tried to empower her. And at this point, we can learn what love is by realizing that loving is not only accepting and embracing the weakness of our partner, but also empowering them and giving the best to help them realize and reach their optimum potential. And that will be a start to a great romance relationship/partnership.

source: tvN

The second couple is the longtime lover, Yang Ho Rang and Shim Won Seok, which probably is the couple whom I feel related to the most at this point. At some point, I do agree that love and marriage are two different things. However, the society where we live in has constructed that marriage could exist because of love, and the other way around; that the final goal of love is marriage itself. The thing about marriage is: not all people understand that marriage is an institution that needs money and other material things in order to sustain itself. In my opinion, in this era of advance capitalism, getting married simply because of love is a privilege owned only by people who have certain amount of money, or, let’s say, rich. As middle-class people like Ho Rang and Won Seok, there are more things to be considered before getting married than upper-class people. How they will sustain their family? How they will get the money to pay daily bills, the house, the car, and many more? How and where will they raise their future children? People from middle-class think that they need to settle themselves first before they can begin to build their own family in a marriage.
I personally think that Ho Rang and Won Seok was the couple that grew up a lot during the series. We can see the changing in their relationship as they were both mentally and emotionally growing mature with all the turbulences that occurred. At first, they were both so trapped in a patriarchy mindset where the man should be the one who proposed, who got paid more than the woman, who had to be responsible towards everything in the relationship. However, as the story goes, they were evolving in a good sense. They finally learn that marriage is a longterm program that will prolong their relationship. Hence they need to think carefully about what they will achieve in the next years in their marriage if they continue with it. They learn that marriage needs so much more than just love. Love, is indeed the basic capital that they need to perpetuate their long-lasting relationship. They cannot just marry someone whom they are not in love with. And when they know they already have it, the next step is that they need to make a blue-print in order to build their marriage life, which takes more than just love in order to preserve it.

source: tvN

The last but not least, it is the couple of the main characters in this drama series, Yoon Ji Ho and Nam Se Hee. The thing that I feel resonating from this couple is probably their unique and progressive mindset in regards to career, relationship, and marriage. Like what Se Hee quoted in the drama series, according to sociologist Gary Becker, people only get married if it brings more benefits than being single. Those benefits are not only limited to material benefits, but also emotional benefits. When we marry someone we love, for example, we’re able to get rid some of insecure feelings we have when we are not marrying them. In other words, marriage is the way people keep themselves safe from any potential disadvantages. However, other kinds of disadvantage may come after marriage under many causes; one of the causes that is depicted in this drama series is the mindset that marriage is more sacred than the love itself. And sadly, that is the common sense that has been built in the society over generations. Hence, when two people decide to get married under a contract like what Se Hee and Ji Ho did, they raised their eyebrows.
One thing that I also learn from Se Hee and Ji Ho’s relationship is that when someone came into our life, they came with all of their life. They came with their past, present, and also their future. And when they were broken before, their broken heart also came along with them. That’s why honesty is one significant thing in a relationship. In order to build trust, ones cannot build it without honesty. And by being honest means we have to open up even our most secretive room inside ourselves. And in order to be able to do that, ones must recognize their own selves first; they must come to a closure with their past. They should not bring their old problems into their new relationship; for every relationship will have its own dilemma. Hence, before starting over, ones really need to finish dealing with their previous pain. People indeed need some time alone on their own. Hence, though two people have decided to live together, they need to have respect towards each other in regards to the time they spent with their own selves. And I was really amazed with Se Hee and Ji Ho’s decision in the end of this drama series. Marriage may be sacred, but love should be more sacred than the marriage itself, because that’s the way a relationship/partnership can be long-lasting.

source: tvN

My heart was broken so many times when I watched this drama series. There were just so many things that came across my mind. And there were so many things that resonated with my own reality at this moment. Things that I’ve just described above were only a few of them. In some way along the series, I could understand why some characters chose to make some decision that seemed to be weird for me. I could understand why Woo Soo Ji decided to hold on for so long when she was not happy with her job. I could understand why she was not interesting in marriage in the first place. I could understand why she was avoiding a serious relationship with a man, and why she didn’t introduce her mother to her male friends. I could understand why Ho Rang could not be truly honest towards Won Seok about the thing she wanted the most. I could understand why she decided to hold on for so long in her relationship with him. I could understand why she cared so much about her age and about how long she had been in a relationship with Won Seok. That is all because of the social construct in this modern society we live in.
The socio-cultural background of South Korea, particularly in terms of social norms and piety, is not very different from Indonesia. Probably that is why I can relate with the storyline of this drama series, since I have to admit that this is the first time I watch a drama series that depicts the life of young-adult in the Eastern country’s society that is so close to reality. The scriptwriter really did a great job in capturing the reality of nowadays young people’s daily life yet fundamental problems and dilemmas in regards to career, relationship, and marriage. Each couple portrays different perspectives and it enriches the storyline. And yes, as a young-adult living in the modern society of Eastern country, sometimes our decision is not merely just our decision only. Most of the times, our decision means our parents’ decision, our family’s, or even our close peer-group’s. We take other people along in our choices too much out of norms and piety. And that could be a backlash for us. Along the way, we might make choice that we didn’t actually want to make just because we want to please people around us. And that is the ugly truth of nowadays reality. And do you know what the worse thing is? It is that we often do not realize that we even do it. We think we have the freedom when we actually don’t. Our choice, our decision, even when we think it is all based on our own preference, we subconsciously involve other people in it. And what’s sadder is that we cannot get out easily from this kind of hegemony.

source: tvN

In a nutshell, “Because This is My First Life” is really satisfying me in all senses. It has the greatest and most realistic storyline so far. It has the perfect ensemble cast that each actor really lives up to their character. It has beautiful soundtracks that are well-suited with the atmosphere of the series. At first, I was interested to watch this drama series just because of Lee Min Ki, since this series marks his first small screen lead role since 2017. All of these years, he just played mostly in movies. Hence I was excited as well as curious to see him in a drama series as the lead character. On the other hand, I was never a big fan of Jung So Min. However, I have to admit that she was great in this series. And I have to note that I love Esom’s performance. She is truly a scene-stealer. The special appearance by Lee Chung Ah also left awesome remarks in my mind. “Because This is My First Life” is definitely one of Korean dramas that you must watch. It’s simple but honest. It’s complicated but close to our daily life reality. It is everything that you need to get from a television series. In the end, wherever you are and whoever you are, it is okay to do trial and error, since this is our first life anyway.

“You have to have a strong mentality to date anyone. Otherwise, you won't be able to. Dating is a competition these days.” –Woo Soo Ji (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“Girls never say what they want directly. They want to hear it from guys. To hear what they want to hear, they keep talking to their man but they keep beating around the bush. It can be strong sometimes. It can be cute sometimes. But in the end, it will make you go crazy.” –Ma Sang Goo (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“Ji Ho is a woman with determination. I may not know her that well yet, but when she decided to write scenarios, when she decided to quit writing, and when she decided to get married, she made all those choices for herself. She may seem weak and shy, but she's a very determined person. Her heart is really strong. She doesn't do anything that makes her unhappy. Therefore, she will eventually take the path that makes her happy and I'm not going to be in her way while I'm married to her. That's all the promise I can make. I'm sorry. I can't make promises to make her happy or protect her.” –Nam Se Hee (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“I love you so much. I always want to be with you, that's why I'm living with you now. However, I don't know what it is like to get married yet. You know I can't live without you, but I don't know if getting married is the same as loving someone.” –Shim Won Seok (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“Being romantic and having a relationship are something you can't dream of without spending money and energy. That's why I misunderstood this time. Because of what you said, I thought I finally got something easily this time. I thought I found someone I can be called “us” with.” –Yoon Ji Ho (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“I married him because it's him. I'm not going to say his job and his house didn't play a part, but if it was someone else, I wouldn't have married that person even with the same conditions.” –Yoon Ji Ho (Because This is My First Life, 2017)

“Unless we try hard, we can't understand each other. Love exists in this kind of world. As long as you love someone, you have to try hard. Trying hard for someone makes life something worth trying at.” –Yoon Ji Ho (Because This is My First Life, 2017)


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