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‘Lost’ is the perfect show for anyone who wants to be found

There are some shows and movies that attempt to tell stories about ordinary, struggling people. You know the type: the artsy, wide shots, the blue-grey-tinted lenses, the long stretches of silence and softly spoken monologues. In my personal experience, I find that they can be a hit or miss, where I’m paying more attention to the filmography rather than the story actually being told… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I go into a series expecting a story about ordinary people, I want to actually get invested in the story, not the artistry of the series/movie medium. Thankfully, the Korean drama “Lost” did not disappoint, telling the story of two lonely souls coming together as well as capturing the overall gloomy blue-grey, monologue-dense aesthetic in this specific genre. 


As I’ve suggested, “Lost” is a series that follows two struggling people: 40-year-old Lee Bu Jeong (Jeon Do Young) who now works as a cleaner after getting fired from her publishing job, as well as 27-year-old Lee Kang Jae (Ryu Joon Yeol), who works as a “stand-in serviceman,” someone who’s called on to pretend to be a boyfriend for those desperate enough to impress their acquaintances. Technically, this is the kind of show where both nothing and everything happens, because that’s exactly what the lives of the characters are like. “Lost” isn’t incredibly plot-heavy; I can’t tell you much about Bu Jeong and Kang Jae’s lives except they’re rather miserable, and despite the fact that they’re both at different stages of their lives, they both feel stuck, destined to never become anything more than they already are. Bu Jeong never became the writer or mother that she wanted to be, having miscarried her child due to a traumatic incident at her job; Kang Jae never became the wealthy person he wished he could be. Just by the end of the first episode, the audience finds Bu Jeong numbly telling her father that “Dad … I didn’t become anything,” which Kang Jae echoes in the second episode: “I don’t think I will become anything.” 


A beauty of this show is that it digs into this theme through the minor characters as well, all of whom are sympathetically sad in their own ways: Bu Jeong’s husband Jung Soo (Park Byung Eun) is constantly at a loss with how to connect with his wife, walking that thin line between loving and not loving her. Meanwhile, there’s Kang Jae’s friends Lee Soon Ju (Yoo Su Bin) and Kang Min Jeong (So Na Eun), who, while younger, are in that same vein of just wanting to make money and hopefully get somewhere in their lives. It’s worth noting that literally every post-teens age is represented here: early twenties, late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties… All of these characters are in different points of their lives, and yet like our protagonists, they too struggle with how to find meaning in lives that feel too stagnant. 


This sad, ancient fear—that one will never become anything more than they already are—weaves through the episodes and binds our characters together. As Kang Jae lives in the same apartment complex as Bu Jeong’s father (Park In Hwan), the two keep encountering one another, offering each other some comfort in their lonely lives. Whether it be something relatively small, like offering a handkerchief or a slice of cake, or something large, like picking one up from the police station or taking the other to see the sunrise, these two characters slowly but surely give each other more reasons to feel like an actual person, rather than the lost, stuck shell of a soul they might have once been. 


It is through this slow caring for one another that these two finally feel seen. Through the course of 16 episodes, Kang Jae and Bu Jeong both recognize each other for what they truly are, and it’s a process that I genuinely believe is meant to remind the audience of how the simplest human gestures also pack the most meaning. There are so many little moments between them that made me think that perhaps one of the truest, most beautiful forms of human connection is to just swap tangerines with someone or notice that another person’s back button has come undone or touch another person’s face or recognize that one person’s anger is actually just sadness. 


It is this slow recognition that makes the show ultimately healing. You see these characters feel so lost and out of touch with their own lives, only to realize that perhaps there are better days ahead, so long as there is another person you can rest with. So long as there is a person who’s willing to sit still with you and to share in some of your burden, you can stay grounded for that much longer. As the show so eloquently puts it, “even if it’s peace that won’t last long, there will be days that I can call good because there’s rest.” 


Ultimately, that’s what this show wishes for its viewers—for everyone to know that while things may feel difficult now, there’s a better future ahead. Now go peel a tangerine for someone and rest easy. 

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