Warning: This article contains spoilers from episodes 1-3 of Nevertheless
I was very hesitant to watch Nevertheless for many reasons, including the fact that the trailer presented on Netflix made the show seem like a sappy romance drama that followed a college couple. Then I found myself without many dramas to enjoy, so I gave it a shot. Let me tell you, I am pretty happy that I gave the show a chance, and I am actually pretty obsessed with it for reasons I can’t seem to explain, considering that I do not approve of the romantic relationship of the main leads.
Nevertheless follows the story of a beautiful college student and art major student Yoo Nabi (played by Han So Hee), who, by chance, encounters Jae Eon (played by Song Kang), who is her junior from the same art department after a rough break-up with her boyfriend. Nabi finds herself strongly attracted to Jae Eon from the moment they first meet and seems unable to even focus on her own school work because her mind is only filled with thoughts of one person. Jae Eon, on the other hand, seems to show some unfavorable characteristics, including his promiscuity.
Jae Eon is a very handsome individual and the one who just so happens to also have a great interest in butterflies, and therefore, maybe that is the reason why he feels so drawn to Nabi (translates to butterfly in English). Like previously mentioned, sexy he might be, but from very early on in the show, he presents signs of someone who has the potential to become a toxic romantic partner.
1. Physical Affection
A- From their first meeting, Jae Eon doesn’t seem shy to show some physical affection and skinship. This likely always works out for him because he is so gorgeous. A guy who might be considered “average-looking” would most likely run into an issue where the receiving party would consider him to be rather creepy. Physical touch just happens to be my first love language. However, there is just something about a guy trying to kiss me while smoking on our first meeting that just would not work for me no matter how good-looking he is. To be fair, this doesn’t work out well for Jae Eon either because Nabi avoids his attempt to kiss her. Jae Eon is very handsy from the initial meeting with Nabi, which at times she swoons over, but most times, she shows awkwardness.
B- It’s not only the female lead that Jae Eon seems to show physical affection towards, as we see on occasions that he also displays skinship and physical touch in his interactions with other female friends. This is something that clearly bothers the female lead, but what can a girl do when she is clearly way too deep to end her feelings for him. Although it is obvious how much it drives Nabi crazy that it is not just her he is overly friendly with, Jae Eon himself sees no issue showing other girls physical affection and doesn’t seem to care much if Nabi notices how he interacts with other girls.
C- This brings us to their first kiss, the night Nabi invites Jae Eon and her fellow classmates over to her place for a night of games and drinking. Nabi catches Jae Eon making out with a fellow classmate outside her apartment and attempts to walk away. She doesn’t get very far, as Jae Eon blocks her and lets her know that the reason he was kissing her was that the classmate was curious. Our generous male lead also tells Nabi that she was the one he actually wanted to kiss and then actually attempts to go in for a kiss. Nabi avoids the kiss and makes sure to first wipe Jae Eon’s lips from his earlier kiss, and kisses him (a lesson in microbiology is clearly needed for these two).
A- The show gives us a few hints to show that Nabi is a traditional girl when it comes to dating, such as her long relationship with her toxic ex-boyfriend, her desire to be the only girl that is special to Jae Eon, and her attraction or attempt to date a more traditional hoobae (Lee Jung Ha as Kim Eun Han) who takes her out on dates. Jae Eon, on the other hand, is noncommittal, something we learn from Nabi’s friend, who tells her that Jae Eon does not date but instead gives attention to girls he is drawn to and then later draw a line. Jae Eon himself also asks Nabi if dating was necessary and why people couldn’t just spend time together just as they had been doing.
B- We also see what it looks like when Jae Eon draws a line on a girl that he once had affection for in the past. When he takes Nabi to the club, they run into a girl with a butterfly tattoo on her arm, the same location he had drawn a butterfly on Nabi during their first meeting. Jae Eon is more than aware of the girl’s feelings towards him, and he knows that she got the tattoo to gain his attention. In response to the girl’s attempts to catch his attention, Jae Eon is rather cold and hostile towards her, making it clear to her that his attention had moved on to Nabi. I cannot help but worry that Nabi herself might end up like this girl in the future if she is not careful.
C- Following the first kiss, Jae Eon does not contact Nabi, and this is something that happens to bother her. In response, she decides to distance herself from him despite having strong feelings still. Jae Eon doesn’t respond to her distance very well, especially when Nabi begins to spend time with someone else. In an act of jealousy, Jae Eon even attempts to sabotage Nabi’s new budding romance with a hoobae by mentioning their kiss and setting her up as someone who uses and dumps guys easily. Classy indeed.
In my perspective, there is nothing wrong with Jae Eon being noncommittal, as there are plenty of people out there who prefer this lifestyle. The harm comes when the people he chases do not share the same view on relationships and prefer to be in an exclusive relationship. It would be a good practice for Jae Eon to tell his potential partners, from the beginning, about his lack of intentions in furthering their relationship towards commitment and allow them to make a decision based on that information. It is bad practice to pursue a girl and then suddenly shut her out later when she has grown strong feelings towards him. This seemed like the path he was going to take with Nabi until she caught onto his ways and decided to distance herself from him.
Thus far in the show, Nabi knows that Jae Eon does not commit to girls, and Jae Eon knows from Nabi herself that she is not the type of girl that enjoys a casual hookup relationship. Regardless of this, both knowing this information about each other, they continue on with their ”situationship”.
I would admit that I actually like Jae Eon as a character because he represents a thrilling sense of a dangerous romance with a bad boy. However, I would never dream of being caught in his trap, especially after seeing the lack of consideration he has after he moves on from them. Moreover, I can’t imagine that dating someone like Jae Eon would be good for one’s mental health due to the anxiety of constantly checking the phone to see if he texted back, for example. It would have me experiencing an incredible level of stress!
In addition to this, self-esteem would also take a hit while dating Jae Eon, who is surrounded by girls and does not shy away from flirtation. Don’t even get me started about the first kiss happening immediately after catching him in a make-out session with another girl. The germaphobe in me was screaming!
I might have done a disservice to Jae Eon by only mentioning his red flags. However, he is a kind friend for the most part. As a viewer, I personally worry about just how Jae Eon has taken over Nabi’s life, as we see her unable to focus in class while thinking about him. She also frequently goes to watch him while he works on his art projects, while he is too focused to notice her. Then, there is at least one stalking session where she sees him hanging out with another girl. For Nabi, life now seems to revolve around Jae Eon, however for Jae Eon life is only slightly influenced by Nabi, and he is still able to focus on his life and school without much trouble.
Boy, I can’t wait to see how the writers will be able to give us a happy ending, as admittedly I know absolutely nothing about the webtoon.
Edited by: 1st editor (Azyjtevol) and 2nd editor (Cookie)