I’ve been treading carefully when it comes to Birdie Buddy, having decided to keep watching after the first two episodes but not knowing what category the drama would end up fitting into: guilty pleasures – dramas that you somehow got hooked to and like elements of, but that overall make you want to bang your head against the wall with their absurdity, bad writing or stupid characters – they make you cringe but you somehow can’t look away, or the true loves, the shows you love for the good and for the bad that somehow have the ability to make your heart feel warm and fuzzy even when it’s cloudy and cold outside. So after watching episodes 5 and 6, I have decided to stop beating around the bush and just follow my heart and admit to myself that I can’t resist how true and human these characters and interactions feel, even underneath the cheesy crust the drama sometimes piles on top. So I am taking the plunge and confessing my affections. Now don’t go breaking my heart, you hear me, show?
Before last episode ended, Mi Soo had asked John Lee if he kept following her around because he liked her, and he, in turn, had asked her why she didn’t like him. She more than willingly begins to list his shortcomings, from his smirk (aw, I kind of like that about him), to his persistence in calling her Steamed Bun(I do kind of see the resemblance), and, of course, his hair(that’s true, it has to go). She concludes that before he wants to fix her posture, he better work on his own because it’s not so great. Haha, I love the antagonism. And the fact that he genuinely wants to help her game, regardless of whatever other interest he might be harboring, but she’s having a hard time seeing that because of her own feelings for him. And also because he’s an arrogant ass who always teases her and smirks, but that’s beside the point.
Later that night, as he is practicing, John Lee thinks about what Mi Soo’s mother had told him and about Mi Soo’s situation. The next morning, the dreads are gone (And the crowd goes WIIILD! Oh wait, that’s just me.) Obviously, he cut his hair because he wanted to look teacherly to his student and not because Mi Soo the girl had told him she didn’t like it. The new hair isn’t perfect but, you know, baby steps.
Later that day, John Lee goes up to the mountains to meet his old master. We flash back to 1992, when a strange man had come to the orphanage where Jung Woo (John Lee’s Korean name) and his friend were staying. The priest who ran the orphanage had asked the man, called Fabian, to teach golf to the children. At first Fabian, refuses, but eventually he decides to give the kids a test of endurance. The only ones who make it through are Jung Woo and his friend. They accompany Fabian to the mountains, where he has them do a number of chores, like wood chopping or carrying buckets of water up the steep mountain, all of which are setting the base for their golf training. They rebel because of the harshness of the training, but eventually stick it out. It’s all very Karate Kid, really, only with golf.
Back in present days, the master pretends not to know anyone by the name of Jung Woo, but then, after a threat to his gingseng, the master suddenly regains his memory, calls him by his name and asks him what he needs it for.
Mi Soo resumes training with her old coach and he couldn’t be more pleased by the results. In fact, he laments the way she would mess up in competition when she is doing so well in practice. It also turns out that the lesson fees are so high that Mi Soo’s mother is forced to take out a private loan in order to afford them. Tae Gab, Mi Soo’s brother finds out about it and fills her in on the situation. He asks her not to tell their mother and that instead he will try working something out and pitching in with the costs.
Mi Soo can’t stop herself and asks her mother where she got the money for the lessons, but the mother denies having borrowed it and says she needn’t concern herself with such things. Mi Soo, knowing what she knows, can’t exactly not concern herself, and this triggers an argument between mother and daughter, the first real one we’ve seen. She goes as far as to say that she feels burdened by the sacrifices her family is making and more importantly, by her mother who is the driving force behind everything being done for her. Hearing that, her mother slaps Mi Soo and asks her, furiously, if after everything, that’s all she can say to her. She tells her that if she wants to quit golf, she should, but not to blame the mother who only believed in her. Mi Soo replies that she doesn’t want to quit golf, she just wants to try taking care of things herself. Her mother is appalled, calls her a bad person and walks away.
The thing is, both of them are right and both of them know it. And to whoever has been in a similar situation before, feeling guilty for the sacrifices their loved ones are making for them or making sacrifices for their loved ones (which is pretty much every person, ever), this argument rings incredibly true. It’s horrible to hear that the sacrifices you have made for someone are burdening them. And it’s horrible to carry the guilt of having been allowed to do something you love at the expense of your loved ones’ wellbeing.
For Mi Soo, this conversation is the decisive factor in filling in the caddy application. She gets accepted right away because of her golfing experience, but her best friend isn’t thrilled about it, knowing what the job entails and how little time Mi Soo would have to practice. Most importantly, she has a problem with keeping it a secret from Mi Soo’s mother and Tae Gab, but Mi Soo gets her to promise she will anyway. The secret might not be too easy to keep though, because her mother has just gotten a full time job as a kitchen helper at the same resort.
Elsewhere, the reporter that has been tailing John Lee and Mr. Park reveals why to her editor. As it turns out, some 20 years ago there was a scandal involving illegal betting in the world of golf. John Lee’s master was one of those involved and the reporter’s theory is that John Lee retired in order to get revenge on his master’s behalf. Wow, how’s that for a thickening plot?
That night, Mi Soo tries to apologize to her mother, but the mother will have none of it, smiling and claiming it never happened. Aw, I love the relationship between these two. Min Hae Ryung may have every financial resource at her disposal, but Mi Soo has her mom, and really, there’s nothing better than that.
Speaking of Hae Ryung, her mother announces that she plans to collaborate with Jay Park in promoting their golf course. Hae Ryung later asks her again who her father is, believing that it might be Mr. Park.
Mi Soo and Gong Sook are talking over lunch, and Gong Sook advises her to get close to John Lee, seeing as he is at the resort a lot and that she could benefit from his teachings. Besides, she says, it seemed like they were getting along pretty well that time at dinner. Mi Soo scoffs at the idea but overhears someone ordering steamed buns and gets an idea of her own.
Later that day, she heads over to John Lee’s abode, steamed buns in tow, except instead of finding him, she finds Hae Ryung who was also waiting for him in his trailer. They have a more or less awkward exchange, both of them unsure where the other stands, Hae Ryung showing signs of mild jealousy or at least curiosity where Mi Soo and John Lee’s relationship is concerned, and Mi Soo finding Hae Ryung strange and uncommunicative. They do however share some coffee and steamed buns and while they aren’t instant BFFs, I can actually see these two becoming friends. Of course, there will be the slight matter of falling for the same guy somewhere along the line and I do hope we’ll have none of that self sacrificial “here, have the man I love because you are more pathetic than I am” crap, but as I was saying, there’s the possibility that these two can become great friends.
The next day, Gong Sook and Mi Soo find themselves dealing with the most ridiculous(ly annoying) set of clients imaginable. The gangster bunch, sporting some outfits that would make even Hyun Bin’s character in Secret Garden proud, think the pre-game workout consists of them cheering the girls on and staring at them as they work out. It’s as if fate was telling Mi Soo she didn’t belong there… or, you know, that caddying can be a crappy job sometimes. When they return from the game, it’s time for the new Master Caddy’s inspection. The Master Caddy finds out that Mi Soo is a semi-pro golfer and asks her if she has given up her dream of becoming a pro. Mi Soo replies that she took up caddying to help her overcome the obstacles in her way.
Later that day, Mi Soo and some of her golfing friends meet up and talk about training and coaches. The girls say that John Lee is the most sought-after coach and that Hae Ryung had had a hard time getting him to train her. However, rumor has it that whenever he trains a player, they become romantically involved as well. Back in her room, Mi Soo thinks back to her interactions with John Lee and because of what she had heard earlier, she sees everything in a different light. She turns to her side and imagines he is sleeping next to her, the way he had when he mistook her room for her brother’s. She tries to shake of the image by turning away – aw, it’s so obvious that she hates his guts.
Next morning, it’s John Lee’s turn to be pestered by the overzealous reporter. She drops by his trailer, tries to take his picture and asks some questions that also give us more info about John Lee’s life story. For instance the fact that he became a pro golfer to find his real parents, and he had in fact achieved that after winning the PGA title, except they had already passed away. She also goes on about his golfing master, but he cuts the conversation short and sends her on her way. John Lee takes off too, but not before getting photographed by someone much stealthier than the reporter and who apparently works for Mr. Park.
At the resort, John Lee is training Hae Ryung while Gong Sook and the witch-caddy are training for their teaching certificate. When they see John Lee, they start fangirling over him and he offers the witch-caddy some… hands-on training, helping her fix her posture. I’m beginning to think this is one of his trademark moves. Hae Ryung is amused by this turn of events and takes off, while a newly arrived Mi Soo gives the scene a hearty eye roll. John Lee’s attitude changes radically when he sees her and especially when he finds out that she had begun working as a caddy.
Mi Soo leaves, not before warning Gong Sook to watch out for that pervert. Ha! The pervert, however, follows Mi Soo and asks her what’s up with her becoming a caddy, has she given up golfing? She says it’s none of his business; she’s doing it because she has to. He offers to be her coach and she says she doesn’t want his kind of coaching, though in all fairness the look on her face says otherwise. She goes to train with her old coach and John Lee follows her there as well. After calling her coach incompetent in several indirect ways, to hilarious results, he tells her that the best coach is the one that can understand her better than she does herself, whether she’s in pain, whether it’s her body or her heart that aches, and who can help heal that pain. Gotta hand it to the guy, he can be rather cool.
Later at home, Mi Soo thinks about his offer and picks up her phone to text him but doesn’t know what to say and gives up. Over at his place, John Lee is thinking about her too, and about the request he had made to his master, to teach her. Apparently it was an injury that prevented him from continuing his career, and his friend, the master’s other pupil had given up on golfing as well, so, as John Lee puts it, the master needs at least one worthy student to perfect his technique and he thinks she might be it. He also promises that next time, he will come back with her. Thinking about John Lee’s injury and all the Mr. Park – Fabian – John Lee entanglement, I wonder if the injury is sports related or Mr. Park related. Hmm…
It also appears that the new Master Caddy and Mi Soo’s mother go back a long time. They were caddying partners and friends, and it was the current Master Caddy that had given the number 8 club to Mi Soo’s mother when she had quit caddying to get married so that she could give it to her child on her first birthday. How fairy godmother-like. Mi Soo’s mother hadn’t done that, but as we all know, Mi Soo had found it anyway. Interestingly enough, it looks like the Master Caddy has ties to both Mi Soo’s mother and Hae Ryung’s mother, having even known Hae Ryung’s grandfather, who had been a caddy himself.
Just as the mother and the Master Caddy are finishing their coffee, Mi Soo and Gong Sook return to the caddy base, and her mother catches Mi Soo red handed. (I’m pretty sure this is where the original episode 4 was supposed to end, by the way – not a bad cliffhanger)
Mi Soo and her mother go outside to talk and the mother is once again furious because of her daughter’s actions. She says the family hadn’t made the sacrifices they had made for her to end up being a caddy, and that if she wants to be one, she should give up golfing altogether. Mi Soo replies that she wants to do both, that this is the solution she found and that her mother isn’t her coach and therefore shouldn’t interfere. This earns her another slap from her mother, who then walks away. That evening when Mi Soo gets home, she finds her bags packed and her mother outside, ready to send her off. The mother tells her that she should leave and not let herself be burdened anymore. That even if they do meet at the resort, they should pretend not to know each other. Aw man, this sucks. The thing is, they are both right. Mi Soo did come off as ungrateful and most importantly reckless to her mother ( her friends, John Lee have warned her about it as well) and Mi Soo, well – how could she keep doing what she was doing and still be able to look at herself in the mirror, knowing what she was putting her family through? It had all reached a breaking point for her. Both character’s actions happen because of everything that’s been set up within the drama so far, and that’s rather awesome. Especially since it’s a mother-daughter conflict in a K-drama world where parent-child conflicts either arise from whatever troubles the parents cause their children, or from misunderstandings, or from the parents looking down on their child’s lover of choice, or take the form of meddling that only really exists for comedic relief. So having a relationship that’s clearly based on love and appreciation where the conflicting parties are evenly matched and their arguments are equally valid is refreshing and makes for good drama.
With nowhere else to go, Mi Soo turns to the resort’s caddy dorm. The only problem is, she is bunking up with the witch-caddy, who is less than pleased with the situation, having had the room to herself all this time. Mi Soo doesn’t spend much time in the room and goes out to the field to practice, thinking about her mother and John Lee’s words and how they had both advised her to quit caddying.
Turns out, her mother hadn’t kicked Mi Soo out without a plan in mind. Sure enough, she was hurt by what Mi Soo was doing and her reaction was legitimate, but more than that, she was worried that Mi Soo’s stubbornness wouldn’t let her realize what she was doing was damaging to her career prospects until it was too late. She had shared these worries with her old friend, the Master Caddy, and she, in turn, had promised to look after Mi Soo.
True to her words, the Master Caddy sends Mi Soo over to Hae Ryung’s training room to clean it up – on her day off, no less. Hae Ryung happens by and twists the knife in Mi Soo’s heart a little, just to get her riled up (as a favor to the same Master Caddy). Mi Soo runs off after another one of her “what do you knows” (which is true, from her perspective, Hae Ryung has had everything she could have ever wished for to help with her golfing, financially speaking), but as it turns out, and I do believe this episode is all about that, she has something Hae Ryung could only dream of in the unwavering support of her family.
If she thought caddying was something she could handle, things get even stickier for Mi Soo, with her brother finding out about her new job, going to the resort and causing a ruckus to get her attention. He then tells her to stop looking down on their parents and to think well about what she is doing. I’m loving Tae Gab’s character as well. He’s not one of the leads but he is given enough complexity to make him interesting and real. He has his own dreams (that I’m really hoping he gets to achieve), he is bothered by the fact that his mother took out a loan to support Mi Soo and I would bet, by all the attention she is getting from the family, but on the other hand, he supports her and wants her to achieve the great things she is capable of.
As punishment for the commotion her brother had caused, Mi Soo gets sent to gather the balls that had gotten lost on the course. The punishment doesn’t really feel like punishment though, and she has a great time collecting them, even finding one of her own. Back at caddy central, the Master Caddy tells Mi Soo that she heard she had trained with lost balls as well, and then wistfully wonders how lost dreams can be recovered. Score one for the fairy-godmother.
Mi Soo’s mother thinks back on what Mi Soo had told her about being burdened by her family’s sacrifices and then goes through the journals she had kept to record Mi Soo’s training, the strategies she applied and Mi Soo’s progress. The next morning, it’s time for the waving of the white flag in the form of a lunch box the mother brings Mi Soo, along with all the journals she’d written. As she reads her mother’s journals, Mi Soo begins to cry and remembers what John Lee had told her, about how a true coach knows everything about their player and knows how to heal their hurt.
That night, as Mi Soo walks around the course in a much better mood (and giving me some serious leg envy), she runs into Hae Ryung, who was practicing. Mi Soo apologizes for saying her success had been bought with money and asks who she had learned to play golf from. Hae Ryung replies that she can’t name a specific person because she’d learned from so many coaches over time, and notes that it really does seem like her success was bought, before walking away. Next we see Mi Soo in her room, gathering her things and then going home, back to her mother.
These two episodes have brought a lot of development and have shed light on several characters’ background. John Lee and his teacher, Mi Soo’s mother and her friendship with the Master Caddy, and even Hae Ryung’s mother – I had thought she came from a wealthy family, but being the daughter of a former caddy, turns out she’s pretty much self-made, which also makes me wonder how she got to where she is and whether or not she and Mr. Park had any dealings in the past. The basis for what I believe to be the main conflict of the series has also been set, with the arrival of Jay Park and the hints at his connections to the other characters. To be honest, I’m not really interested in seeing how this main conflict will play out because I’m pretty sure it’ll be somewhat straightforward villain + satellite villains vs. heroes, like in most cases. However, what I’m really enjoying about this drama are the bits of human interactions and glimpses of the characters’ dilemmas that feel so real and personal. So what I am looking forward to are all the individual developments that the conflict in question will bring forth.
It’s a one for the price of two kind of deal with this show, meaning that it makes more sense from a narrative viewpoint to watch two episodes at a time instead of watching them one by one. It’s a little sad that the structure of the episodes and the buildup to climactic points seems to have suffered because the footage that was filmed with a certain flow in mind was divided differently from what was first intended. So basically I have decided that instead of recapping the episodes one by one, I will recap them in pairs because as a viewer, it makes more sense to me that way.
When episode 2 ended, Mi Soo was about to give up golfing and John Lee wasn’t about to let her, so he challenged her to a match with Hae Ryung. The rules are simple, one club, one hole, as few tries as possible. Mi Soo uses her number 8, the only club she has left, while Hae Ryung uses a putter, which is a far less powerful but much more precise club. With this advantage, Mi Soo quickly takes the lead, but Hae Ryung puts on a rather awesome display of skill and eventually defeats her. John Lee asks her if she’s going to give up just like that, but she replies that he doesn’t know anything and runs off.
She goes to one of her regular training places and starts randomly sending off balls, just as her father and one of his friends were taking a break from work. When her father comes to ask her what’s wrong, she answers, teary eyed, that she doesn’t want to give up golfing. The next morning she wakes up to find a brand new set of clubs and a letter from his father, saying that he took a job on a ship and that while he may still not understand her desire to pursue golfing, especially considering the strain it puts on the family, he has decided to support her as best he can. I find the letter thing a little too melodramatic and somewhat unnecessary, I think a face to face goodbye would have been more honest and accurate in this situation, but hey, maybe they wanted to make it short and teary instead of long and angsty/teary, which I totally support.
Even though the separation (and the reason behind it) is painful, life quickly gets back on track, especially since it’s time for Mi Soo’s pro competition. Mi Soo and her mother take a shortcut to avoid traffic but end up with one of the tires of their truck stuck in the mud, forcing the mother to get out and try pushing the truck, while Mi Soo remains behind the wheel so as to not get mud on her competition outfit. Mi Soo looks as her mother gets splattered with mud stops the car but her mother urges her to keep on.
Contrastingly, Hae Ryung is holding a press conference talking about her reasons behind returning to Korea and about her new coach, John Lee.
Eventually, Mi Soo and her mother get to the competition, and the mother hilariously passes Mi Soo a lucky pair of underwear, guaranteed to get her to win first place. Now, the first thing I think about when I see them is that the skirt Mi Soo is wearing is way too short to be sporting that kind of underwear and get away with it, but apparently, there are ways. Mi Soo sees the press trailing John Lee and overhears them talking about his identity – she can’t believe her ears, hair guy is THE John Lee. Me, on the other hand, if I thought the dreads sort of worked with whatever he had been wearing so far, it’s pretty obvious that when he tries to wear PGA-appropriate clothing, they stand out even more, and not in a good way. I hope he gets rid of them soon, for the sake of all the hotness they are covering up. The hair, not the PGA clothes. Although…
Mi Soo and John Lee run into each other and he begins teasing her again, but Hae Ryung shows up, giving Mi Soo a chance to bail. However, Haw Ryung is quite intrigued by John Lee’s attitude towards Mi Soo and calls him on it. It’s obvious he’s interested in her, I’m just not sure which side of her yet, the golfer or the girl. Then again, the two are pretty much inseparable so things are about to get interesting.
The game has begun and Mi Soo is doing a great job, distancing herself as the only one to be considered competition for Hae Ryung. John Lee looks on, and her family and friends cheer from the resort lobby where they are watching the game.
After the game and the amazing result (Mi Soo and Hae Ryung are tied in the lead), it’s time for the victory celebration(which was offered by the people in her village), except Mi Soo is in no mood for partying, she has way too much on her mind. She runs off but is followed by loyal Jun Ki, to whom she confesses that it’s hard enough to play carrying her family’s expectations, but that the added pressure of having the villagers’ expectations riding on her as well is too much. That playing golf has become her family’s lifeline and that losing or giving up would be the same as dying. That night, her mother tries to encourage her, but she seems lost in her own thoughts and later dreams about being in an impossible game. She wakes up scared and looks at her mother, then snuggles next to her like a child looking for comfort.
The next day, the competition continues but Mi Soo is no longer in top shape. She seems anxious and acts recklessly, making a lot of mistakes. Before the days is over she is down several positions compared to yesterday, while Hae Ryung’s game seems to have gotten much better, living up to her status as a world class golfer. Pushed into extreme strategies in order to keep her position, Mi Soo risks a shot, but the ball lands in a group of trees. Instead of going back and wasting two shots, she decides to try getting the ball out, but whenever she tries a shot, the ball ricochets from the branches, coming right back to her. She’s trapped and she knows it, and not just within the game. She becomes obsessed with getting the ball out from between the trees, taking shot after useless shot and losing the game. John Lee checks up on her and then walks away, realizing she had lost (I never would have pegged you for the silent lurker type, Mr. Lee). Her mother told Mi Soo when she first began that golf is a game you play with yourself and have to win against yourself, and Hae Ryung repeated that to her the other day after their little match. Turns out that’s exactly who Mi Soo lost to, herself, and all the expectations and pressure she had riding on this game.
We move to Hong Kong where we are introduced to a new character, a Mr. Park who is set to return to Korea as a promoter, even though his assistant mentions that he never thought Mr. Park would ever be returning to Korea and is worried about the outcome. Apparently he also knows John Lee because he’s been keeping an eye on his movements. What’s your deal, Mr. Park?
Speaking of John Lee, he goes to visit Mi Soo’s former coach. The coach takes one look at him and his hair and tells him that he’d have to put in 3 or 4 months just to get started with golfing, but John Lee only smiles and asks about Mi Soo. The coach replies that it’s no wonder Mi Soo got eliminated from the contest if she’s been fooling around with men. Turns out Mi Soo hadn’t showed up for practice after the elimination and had been hiding out at her house. John Lee looks concerned and leaves, saying they’ll talk about the lessons later. The coach picks up his paper and browsing through, he sees John Lee’s picture with a headline deeming him the god of coaching or something equally impressive. Needless to say, the coach is impressed.
Hae Ryung’s mother is having a reception to celebrate her daughter’s victory and Mr. Park is there, as well as an overzealous journalist. When she tries to take a picture of him, his secretary stops her, saying Mr. Park doesn’t like showing up in newspapers – naturally, that is why he took a job as public as being a promoter… right?
Instead of going to the reception, John Lee shows up at Mi Soo’s family’s door bringing food offerings. Mi Soo still refuses to leave her room, but the smell of frying meat draws her out. John Lee teases Mi Soo some, but it’s obvious he had worried about her and she’s grateful. All this time, Hae Ryung is on the field arranging golf balls into a heart shape and thinking about John and how they had first met. Awh. Everyone falls asleep next to the dinner table, as if they had had the same brand of Soju as what John Lee had in the first episode and had developed his same intolerance to alcohol, except for John Lee himself (who is smart enough not to touch the stuff anymore?) and Mi Soo’s mom (who has more endurance?). Either way, Mi Soo’s mom talks about understanding Mi Soo’s feelings, that she had a lot on her mind the day of the competition and that she feels guilty for losing, and John Lee replies that he can tell she is very gifted, so the mother asks him to help Mi Soo train and he agrees.
After learning that caddies get to use the golf course to practice for free, Mi Soo is flirting with the idea of becoming a caddy. The only problem is that when she goes to look into it, she meets Hae Ryung, who teases her about how she can tell she hasn’t practiced for a whole week, which puts Mi Soo off the whole caddying business, at least for the moment. Elsewhere, John Lee shares his plan of grooming a new golf talent with a friend and mentions something about needing the help of his old teacher, whose forgiveness he must seek.
Mi Soo’s mother gives her some sweet potatoes to bring John Lee, in gratitude for accepting to help with her training, but when Mi Soo gets to his trailer, he sees him and Hae Ryung looking very chummy and turns to leave. Hae Ryung, who was also leaving after hearing that he had been over at Mi Soo’s house the day of her party sees Mi Soo heading home from the same direction and realizes she had come to see him.
The next day, Mi Soo goes in to enlist as a caddy but once again runs into John Lee. She tries to avoid him but he notices her and asks her to have noodles with him. She refuses and tells him to mind his own business when he asks her if she started practice, but because he mentioned them, she gets the urge to have some noodles and goes to get some. Incidentally, it’s the same place he had wanted to go and they run into each other again. He sits down next to her and grabs her phone to give her his number, asking her to call him so he can give her some tips (that’s what they call it these days). She gets annoyed and asks him if he likes her since he always seems to be following her around. He pauses and smiles and then he asks her why she hates him so much, making it her turn to be on the spot.
Ahhh, finally an episode that ends at the appropriate time. And it only took us four episodes to get here. Incidentally, that adds up to three hours, which means this episode’s ending was designed as such from the beginning, when the show was meant to have 60+ minutes installments.
To be fair, I wasn’t as great a fan of these two episodes as I was of the first two. I mean sure, they were necessary to establish a few things, and they did their job in establishing them but still, it feels like they lacked a certain bit of punch that the previous episodes had. Hot Rasta Guy’s performance was a liiitle bit on the awkward side in some scenes and that didn’t help. It’s like he doesn’t know what to do with himself in certain situations and that shows, but then again, I think things have time to improve in this respect and I dare say, having also watched episodes 5 and 6 as I am typing this, they will. Also – and this isn’t really a spoiler because it’s shown in the preview – he cuts his hair! So HRG becomes HG, which I am more than happy with.
I’m admittedly confused about the OTP deal. I wouldn’t be(because so far it’s really obvious, at least to me) had I not read somewhere that the OTP is supposed to be John Lee and Hae Ryung – but I’m not sure if that information is correct because the strongest OTP vibes I am getting are from the Mi Soo-John Lee pairing. I know the show isn’t about romance so much as about personal growth and overcoming obstacles and becoming a champion, but they are obviously playing the romantic angle so I’m curious about who will end up with whom. I’m rooting for Mi Soo and John Lee, obviously, not just because it works within the story but because the chemistry between the two actors is SO much better than whatever John Lee and Hae Ryung are sharing. Story-wise, I could totally see it going the other way as well, considering the friendship and history, not to mention likeness John Lee and Hae Ryung are sharing (both growing up more or less alone, both solitary by nature, both champions in their own right), I’d just be sorry if it went in that direction because of the aforementioned lack of chemistry.
Ooohhh, smoochies! And a non ambiguous declaration. And some godly God Moo Won vulnerability. And smoochies! Yep, this episode went all out on the romantic angle. Am I more convinced that the OTP is an actual OTP? Not sure, but I do find both halves of it adorable. More importantly, dibs on Moo Won. And yes, I know it doesn’t work that way but I’m still calling to get it out of my system. Now Na Yoon can come and use the skills she picked up in self defense class to kick my ass.
With Ji Heon impressing everyone with his presentation, it’s time for daddy to rejoice and run his “I told you so” victory lap. Except when you try to immaturely boast to your equally immature sister in law, you generally end up with a stiletto stuck in your foot. Okay, so maybe that’s not always the case but it certainly is here.
Turns out Eun Seol had gotten the videoconferencing idea that morning, had run to wake Ji Heon up, literally kicked his ass out of bed(and saw he was wearing the shorts she’d given him) and dragged him to the media center his former secretary had set up. The presentation is a complete success, but this means Moo Won came out on the losing end today and that means mommy isn’t pleased and lets him know of this disappointment. Moo Won seems impassible at first but as it will later turn out, the words really affect him. At the other end, it’s time for the winning team’s congratulatory hugs, except in light of last night’s confession, awkwardness abounds.
Ji Heon has to attend a meeting but doesn’t want to and only agrees to do it after Eun Seol asks him, to the disbelief of his former secretary who had never gotten a positive answer to such a request. On top of that, he asks Eun Seol to take it easy and go home to rest, seeing as she had been up all night. Her R&R plans get cancelled when Moo Won, on his way out of the office, gets to witness her victory dance (complete with unrestrained waving and pelvic thrusts) and asks her to grab lunch. But when they go to lunch, it turns out he’s not in the best of moods and really needs a friend to talk to. Moo Won, you can cry on my shoulder all night long. *ahem* He confesses that he got scolded and Eun Seol offers to beat up the person in question, until he says that it was his mother, putting the ass kicking out of the question.
Moo Won continues that he’s always tried his best and doesn’t know how to handle the fact that whatever he might be doing isn’t good enough anymore. Eun Seol tells him that it’s a matter of balancing expectations, which leads him to conclude that he’s been too good all this time. Moo Won, that’s so true. If only you knew how fiiine you really are. As a result of their discussion, Moo Won plans to stage a rebellion, except he doesn’t know how to go about it and asks Eun Seol to coach him through it. So cute! Do I offer to be his naughtiness coach or is that too obvious? *slaps self* Down, Silver.
At first Moo Won is reluctant to follow Eun Seol around, worrying about his reputation and pointing out that there are those calling him a prince of the financial world on Twitter. Oh my god, you mean to tell me that there actually are finance geeks fangirling over other finance geeks… on Twitter? BAHAHA! Yes, I know it’s not that unheard of, but it’s hilarious to me all the same. This whole thing reminds Eun Seol of his cousin, making her conclude that they aren’t so different after all.
Looks like Ji Heon is on drunken daddy duty tonight, after his successful presentation had made his father have one too many. But carrying him to bed does have its perks because the Chairman says that he’s willing to forget about Eun Seol and secretary Kim’s involvement in the night club scandal. Ji Heon tells his father that he will forget what he promised when he sobers up, but daddy CEO claims that if he were to forget, he will call himself Ji Heon’s son. Oh man, please let him forget! Daddy’s drunken ramblings reveal a bit of back story as well, hinting at the fact that Ji Heon’s strained relationship with him is because the son doesn’t want to betray his mother. Wow, daddy, what did you do to make the kid think he has to choose, huh? And also, now that I think about it, to get ninja grandma on Ji Heon’s side?
In his room, Ji Heon wants to text Eun Seol but remembers he sent her to sleep and doesn’t want to disturb her. To his delight, he gets a call from her, but his delight turns sour when he hears her request to help her take a drunken Moo Won home. I know Ji Heon is supposed to be the star of the day, but then why does he get stuck pulling drunky retrieval duty? He gets to where Eun Seol and Moo Won are in a hurry and just in time to see Moo Won pet Eun Seol’s head. This gets him to call dibs on her head and to then ask Eun Seol if he wants to seduce Moo Won, which she fully denies, obviously. I know it’s immature and ridiculous (and potentially offensive in a different context), but I do love it whenever Ji Heon calls Eun Seol or parts of Eun Seol his. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t come from a macho overbearing sort of place but more from a childish favorite toy sort of place, and that makes it cute instead of irritating.
After taking a passed out Moo Won home and being accused by his mother of dragging him down to his level, Ji Heon takes Eun Seol home as well. As punishment for hanging out with Moo Won, he leaves the car window open even when she tries closing it, because, you know, that’s what you do when you have the maturity of an embryo. When they reach destination, he follows her and asks her if she actually likes Moo Won. Eun Seol retorts that she had wanted to ignore the situation but now that he’s insisting in his jealousy, she has to ask, does he like her? His first reaction is to ask “what, am I crazy?” (um… yes?), then of course comes the “have you looked at yourself? You’re ugly and unkempt and do embarrassing things!” but then, when she asks him again, he replies with a wonderfully disarming “choa”. Oh my god, I know this is in many ways the typical Darcy declaration where one states the shortcomings of the person they like and how miserable they are for liking them and then eventually confess that they do in fact like them, but this is at the same time so different because of the way this character has been sketched so far. It somehow manages to seem like it’s coming from a completely different place than the classic arrogant superiority. Not unlike the instances when he calls her his own, this is more childish than anything else. I mean sure, he’s a chaebol heir and he knows it, but he also knows that she’s seen him at his most vulnerable and he’s not afraid to be that way in front of her, which really makes all the difference. And when she rejects him by saying he should regain the sanity he lost when he went crazy for her… well… not heartbreak exactly but… heart crack?
But then as she begins explaining the reasons why they can’t be together, the damage it would do to her reputation and the blow it would give the career she is so painstakingly trying to build, I start both respecting her and feeling for her. And then, when she tells him that it would be damaging to him as well, adding to an already bad reputation, well, to tell that to a guy even if you didn’t like him, it can’t be pleasant, let alone telling it to a guy you obviously have some sort of feelings for. I love how compelling this scene is beneath the silly surface. The show has shown hints of the heart it hides underneath the goofball exterior, but in this episode it really let it shine for its audience. From Moo Won’s moment of vulnerability, to daddy CEO’s moments of pride and guilt/regret, to Ji Heon’s candid confession and to Eun Seol’s down to earth rejection of his feelings, we got to see past whatever we’ve been seeing so far of these characters and it’s something of a treat. Ji Heon doesn’t take the rejection or the explanation very well, and he says he won’t give up, until Eun Seol threatens him that she will quit unless he relents. Upon hearing such a dreadful threat, he promises to think about the situation more clearly.
Back home, Eun Seol hugs Myeong Ran wonder what to do, while Ji Heon is at home throwing darts at her cutout saying that he refuses to think about letting go of her. Afterwards, he puts band aids on the cutout and I don’t know what’s funnier, the fact that he does this or the fact that he actually has Hello Kitty band aids on hand. Then he talks to the patched up cutout, telling it she has to reconsider, in a Scarlett O’Hara –reminiscent “tomorrow is another day” moment.
The next morning Moo Won wakes up to the consequences of his little rebellion, a killer hangover and the memories of patting Eun Seol’s head and throwing up in the bushes. Aw, poor embarrassed prince of the financial world. Ji Heon and Eun Seol however, are both going through their wardrobes trying to figure out what they should wear today. Ji Heon is going for the dashing look, while Eun Seol is, by all indications, looking for the office attire equivalent of granny panties. The next days at the office are spent with Eun Seol trying to avoid Ji Heon and him trying to impress her from a distance with the seductive power of his bowties. Eventually, Ji Heon realizes that the job is way too important to Eun Seol to just quit and calls her bluff, adding some conditions of his own to their arrangement, now that the wheel has turned.
Meanwhile, the sister in law is gathering evidence about the Chairman and Ji Heon, while Na Yoon’s mother is having Eun Seol and her father followed. Hilariously, when the investigator sends pictures of Eun Seol’s father setting traps in the woods, they think it’s just a random picture taken off the road.
Later on, Na Yoon tries to speak to Eun Seol about staying away from Ji Heon but ends up only being more aggravated when Eun Seol compares their work situations – two women who don’t want to look like they haven’t earned their respective positions. In consequence, she goes to see daddy CEO in an attempt to get him to get rid of Eun Seol, except this backfires on her as well. As a side note, I love how daddy always does his community service wearing his suit, on top of which he wears whatever protective gear the job in question requires.
At home, Eun Seol and Myong Ran discuss the romantic entanglement, realizing that Eun Seol is finding herself at the top of the romantic food chain and that everything rests on who she likes. But she replies she likes herself, which is like… awesome, if it wasn’t a cover.
The next day, daddy asks Eun Seol to keep helping Ji Heon get on track, and by ask I mean threaten, bribe and play the I have to do community service because of you guilt card. She agrees to his request to maintain a close proximity to Ji Heon, but keeps thinking about all the potential complications that might arise. Her complex thoughts are interrupted on her bus ride home, when she becomes the victim of a bus pervert. Not one to just silently take this type of offense, Eun Seol roughs him up a little, which lands them both at the police station, with the pervert claiming to having been victimized. With nobody else to call to bail Eun Seol out, Ms. Wrestler calls Ji Heon, just in time too, because he was beginning to regret not going to work and thus not being able to see Eun Seol that day. Ji Heon rushes to the police station, ready to teach the creep that had dared touch Eun Seol’s butt a lesson. He pays the settlement fee, and then some, just so he can get to punch the guy as well, but then the pervert punches him back and it’s once again left to Eun Seol to settle the score. Ji Heon may have all the rescuing instincts of the gallant knight, but he’s lacking all the skills, well, aside from the loaded wallet, which really is most of what other modern day chaebol rescuers employ these days anyway, so yeah, scratch that. Ji Heon, you are such a heroic little chaebol.
Eun Seol tells him that she will think over his dating request, in exchange for his return to work. Aw, if only you knew how close he came to caving. Darn. However, she does have a few conditions, one of which stating that he will submit himself to her intensive plan of turning him into the business man he should be. He agrees, half relieved that she had called uncle before he had to.
Over at the Cha home, grandma finds out that her favorite car has gone missing, and sure enough, it turns out it has taken the road of her leather shoes. Before getting to Eun Seol’s house, Ji Heon excitedly calls Moo Won to let him know that he and Eun Seol will be very busy from now on and that he should stop bothering her. Eun Seol is less than pleased with the car offering, but ends up having to concede that if her boss wants her to use it, there’s little she can do about it. He asks that she take him home, now that he is wheel-less, and she does, trying to return the car again when they get there. Ji Heon will have none of it and instead asks her to come inside offering to share information on his condition. What’s a doting secretary to do but go in?
While Ji Heon and Eun Seol are busy getting to the bottom of Ji Heon’s panic attacks, Na Yoon is drowning her sorrows in a bar, where Moo Won finds her. She fills him in on the whole picture spying situation their mothers have going and claims there is nothing she can do about it either way. Na Yoon whines about how pitiful she is feeling because of how the Cha family members are treating her, and Moo Won says that despite his rejection of their arranged marriage he doesn’t see her that way, it’s just that he doesn’t want a loveless match – however, if she came to him with an open heart, he’d reconsider. Driving her home, he tells her to get Ji Heon out of her system and come back to him, and then he breaks my poor adoring heart by kissing her.
At the same time, back in Ji Heon’s room, he and Eun Seol are looking up information on his condition, an activity that gets them pretty close to one another. Ji Heon takes the opportunity and plants a kiss of Eun Seol.
Wow, kissage galore, and this early in the show too! Makes me wonder what they’ll do next, and who’ll be kissing who, you know, to keep up the pace.
The pieces of the puzzle begin slowly moving into pace, and most importantly, the tension begins to build, whether it’s romantic or business related, the stakes are being raised. It’s all been pretty non-committal so far, but with daddy’s job/honor on the line and Ji Heon’s confession in the open, it’s going to get pretty hard to keep playing the game without siding with one of the teams.
After Moo Won and Na Yoon see Ji Heon and Eun Seol at the amusement park, Eun Seol unknowingly adds insult to injury when in her hurry to get back to Ji Heon, she bumps into Na Yoon, smearing the ice cream she was carrying on her blouse. Na Yoon gets pissed off and charges at Eun Seol carrying her ice cream like a knight carries his spear in a tournament. I mean if this was a cartoon, you’d be seeing smoke coming out of her ears and you’d be hearing cheers from a blood-starved crowd. She shoves the ice cream onto Eun Seol’s butt, much to the surprise of everyone present. Moo Won approaches to see what’s going on, innocently carrying his own ice cream, which Eun Seol “borrows” promising she’ll buy him a new one, and shoves onto Na Yoon’s butt, according to that old saying, “a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, an ice cream on my butt, an ice cream on your butt”. They reach a consensus that it was intentional and both women go to the bathroom to get themselves cleaned up. This gives Na Yoon the opportunity to ask Eun Seol about her family, in an attempt to go the “my daddy pwns your daddy” route, except Eun Seol’s reply is a tad too disarming for her to get to do that. Na Yoon also mentions that she’s very tight with Eun Seol’s boss, so she might as well comply with her orders, to which Eun Seol pretty much replies with a “you’re no boss of mine, biatch!” except more polite.
Ji Heon and Moo Won talk about the way Eun Seol had caused Na Yoon to become jealous and act that way. Ji Heon downplays Eun Seol’s merits and his attachment to her, so when Na Yoon comes back and demands his attention, Moo Won takes advantage of Ji Heon’s dismissive attitude towards Eun Seol and snatches her away, claiming she has a debt to repay. Haha, sneaky, sneaky Moo Won. Bummer for Ji Heon, but as we all know, you can’t say you don’t like your cake and eat it too.
Back at the Cha household, daddy receives a report on his son’s activities for the day and is spied on by grandma, who then gets accused of being a ninja – I was beginning to suspect that myself. When the CEO finds out about Na Yoon’s recent return and involvement in the company, he goes to ask Ji Heon about it, only his answer exasperates him and he takes his frustration out on the EUn Seol cutout, to Ji Heon’s dismay. As he is trying to fix it, decrying the condition to which it had been reduced, he flashes back to Na Yoon’s earlier accusation of liking his secretary. At first he thinks it impossible, but then – epiphany!(ish)
Turns out Moo Won and Eun Seol had a great time at the amusement park, going on rides and goofing around, but the highlight of the day was definitely when Jaejoong’s… err… Moo Won’s shirt got wet from a water ride, causing Eun Seol to get all flustered upon noticing and him to ask her if it bothered her. She replied that she actually liked it(my thoughts exactly), not intending it that way but hey… Freudian slips happen to the best of us. That night she has trouble sleeping, thinking back on the day and on how he might think her a pervert for ogling his… shirt. Her roommate is bothered by the commotion and asks her if she likes him, to which Eun Seol replies that not only does she like him but to her, his existence is on par with that of Hyun Bin and Won Bin, god-like but untouchable. Her roommate scoffs at her patheticalness and I scoff because I’ve already seen episode 6.
The next day, Eun Seol arrives to pick up her boss, one shoe short after leaving it on a crowded buss. Who knows what unsuspecting stranger will pick it up and fall under her Cinderella curse? Ji Heon thanks her for showing up wearing a garbage bag around her shoeless foot because it just confirmed he couldn’t possibly like her, but then he directs her to his grandma’s shoe cabinet telling her to pick a pair she likes. This guy’s consistency is killing me.
In light of a news release mama Moo Won was behind, everyone is aware that Ji Heon is the intended heir of daddy CEO. This was meant to preemptively cause uproar amidst the stockholders for the incompetent future of the company. As a result, reporters are gathered in front of the office building, and when Eun Seol gets out of the car, they push her away so they can get to Ji Heon. He gets pissed off by this offense to his secretary and tells them to back off. They go into the building and he checks to see if she’s alright, but pretty much in the same way as he would his cardboard cutout or a puppet, hilariously verifying her limb mobility. Except proximity to his cardboard cutout doesn’t get him quite as flustered so he quickly backs away, being in “I have no feelings for my secretary” mode. But her saying he was rather dashing handling the reporters brings him back to “I really like my secretary” mode, only that means all his hard work convincing himself of the contrary had been in vain. You can actually see the thought ball ping-ponging in this guy’s head. Yes! No! Yes! NO! YES! HUHWHAT? “You can’t entice me, No Eun Seol!” Of course not.
Everyone in the office is talking about Ji Heon’s appointment as successor and seeing him in a less than positive light. Eun Seol tries to defend him but ends up being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with him, which leads her to excuse herself by saying she doesn’t see him as a man at all. Of course, he listens in on the conversation and gets all worked up about it, so when Eun Seol comes into his office, he tries to test her out and see if she really is as unattracted to him as she claims to be. He pushes her against the wall (Rawr!) and asks her how come she’s bothered since he isn’t a man anyway, but it quickly becomes obvious that they are both feeling some feelings of some kind, so just as the atmosphere is about to get really charged, she headbutts him away and then locks his arm behind his back, accidentally pulling him towards her again (Rawr?). Realizing the end and the means don’t quite match up, she pushes him away again, this time for good, and sets him straight about office conduct, except he’s too far gone into Rawr-ville to actually listen.
Eun Seol goes up to the roof to vent some of her Ji Heon anger by kicking some conveniently placed cans, but unbeknownst to her, Moo Won and Na Yoon are up there discussing their arranged marriage. Moo Won says he doesn’t want their (loveless) marriage either to Na Yoon’s disgruntled shock. Unfortunately, one of Eun Seol’s cans of frustration lands squarely on Na Yoon’s forehead, adding some physical pain to the bruise on her ego. Eun Seol offers apologies and her forehead (to be hit) as retribution, sending God Moo Won into a fit of laughter, which makes Na Yoon feel even more miserable and sends her running to enlist in a self defense course, but more on that later.
Ji Heon goes back home to find his grandmother demanding that the dog give her leather shoes back. Realizing that the dog was more or less willingly taking the fall for him, Ji Heon sneaks into his room where he can abandon himself to the thoughts of not liking his secretary. But since he always comes up on the losing (secretary liking) side of the equation, he throws himself into work, just in time for his father to spy on him and to run to ninja-grandma to report that he did not raise a disgrace after all.
The next day, driven by fatherly pride, Chairman Cha supports Ji Heon as his heir in front of the entire administrative board, only to be met with opposition from his sister in law (I have got to find a good nickname for her), but then, when he says he will stake his job on Ji Heon’s success in proving he can run the business, the sister in law turns it around on him, turning his proposal from a manner-of-speaking thing to a definite. Turns out, both daddy and Ji Heon’s jobs are now riding on his success. But hey, no pressure.
Also, is it just me or is there some weird non-business tension between daddy CEO and sister-in-law? Because she gets a liiiitle too irked when he calls her by her name, and they apparently had been friends before she married into the family. So… past fling? ‘twould certainly add an interesting dimension to the whole my son is better than your son, my management skills are better than your management skills thing they have going.
Ji Heon and Eun Seol are working together to prepare the presentation that’s meant to tell the world daddy CEO wasn’t wrong in trusting his son, and I have to say, the setup looks mighty cozy. I mean, if Ji Heon hadn’t fallen for her before, he’d be pretty much hopeless right now. Eventually, it’s this collaboration (obviously) that gives Ji Heon his much needed face-saving (and business saving) epiphany. However, by this time, Eun Seol has already fallen asleep, giving Ji Heon a chance to look at her all lovey dovey (and I dare say, does he have a heart melting lovey dovey stare or what? I mean he might be a walking broccoli-haired psych encyclopedia but boy, can he starry-eyed stare). He moves her into a more comfortable position and covers her with his jacket, noting that few bosses would do that for their employees. Yes, give yourself a pat on the back while you’re at it, you boss of bosses, you. But I have to admit the crazy vs. cool balance is starting to a’tilt!
When Eun Seol wakes up, Ji Heon has already completed his presentation. She praises his hard work and he boasts about being able to do anything if he sets his mind to it. Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, you might be your father’s son after all, Ji Heon-ah.
Eun Seol returns God Moo Won’s jacket to him and earns a lunch invitation in the process. She calls to ask Ji Heon if she can go, conveniently leaving out whom she is having lunch with. In the meanwhile Ji Heon is having a business lunch with Na Yoon, but when he gets up to leave, having concluded the business part of the program, she once again threatens to make a scene to get him to stay. Unfortunately what worked at the amusement park isn’t working anymore and Ji Heon coldly tells her that he’s over her. Ouch. But just as he heads back to the office, he spots Eun Seol and Moo Won inside a restaurant. He calls her to ask if she isn’t having lunch with his nemesis, Moo Won, by any chance. Caught red handed, she avoids a direct answer and pretends the connection is getting cut off, as Ji Heon is looking at them from the other side of the window. I wonder what makes a guy who needs to use sanitizer after a simple handshake stick his face and hands onto a restaurant window, but I guess he must be the on and off kind of crazy. That, or, you know, forget sanitizer, he has the power of love protecting him from bacteria now.
Moo Won suggests that they ignore him, though being his cousin, he should know that’s not a feasible plan. Ji Heon calls Eun Seol but Moo Won asks her to pass him the phone and sets Ji Heon straight. Ha. As if! Ji Heon goes into the restaurant just as the last fourth of this wacky square, Na Yoon, catches up with him, set on venting some of her own frustration. Ji Heon eventually manages to stake his claim on Eun Seol and interrupt the lunch, but Moo Won isn’t about to let him have this victory and says that he and Eun Seol will have two meals together as payback for the ruined one. Hahaha, poor Ji Heon, I wonder how many windows he will have to stick to at this rate.
The victory is short lived for Ji Heon, who learns from his father than on top of coming up with a proposal, he has to present it in front of the board. He tries to prepare but all he can do is imagine himself panicking. After all the hard work, this does not bode well. Wanting to quit, he shares his plan with Eun Seol. In response, Eun Seol decides to get him drunk – is this an attempt to out-hangover his panic attacks? Either way, her therapy also includes some punching so I’m not sure who this is meant to be therapeutic to, but it sure is funny. He confesses that he can’t speak in public; she confesses that she already knows about it and together they try to come up with a plan but mostly only manage to get drunk. The getting drunk also brings forth another interesting development in the form of a love confession. Well, if being compared to a rock having lodged into one’s emotional center sounds at all romantic. But at least it’s ambiguous enough to ignore, which Eun Seol is more than willing (if unable) to do.
The next day, the presentation is set to begin but Ji Heon is nowhere to be found. This puts everybody that has been in his favor, meaning daddy CEO, in a very sticky spot, and everyone who has been against him, in scoffing position. But surprise, surprise, just as they are about to reschedule his presentation, Eun Seol walks in requesting their attention. Within seconds, we get to see Ji Heon’s face on the screen, ready to video conference his presentation from a safe distance. The day, it has been saved!
Okay, so I had a relapse and went through the screenshots I took of YFFM episodes, recalling the good ol’ days when around this time I would be writing up a recap of the day’s episode. If you’re as nostalgic as I am… enjoy 😀
There are times watching a drama when you can pinpoint the exact moment when you began to care. For the characters, for the story, but most importantly for the organic whole that drama consists of. For me with Protect the Boss it was towards the end of the first episode. It was my second attempt at watching the drama, I had tried once before a week or so back but I was so wrapped up in YFFM at the time that I really didn’t feel like continuing. It was through no fault of the drama itself, just a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. So yesterday I decided to give it another go and found myself more interested in what was happening, but still, I wasn’t feeling anything too special, nothing really hit THAT spot. And then, just like that, it happened. That smile. Like a benevolent god(yes, that is a reference to future episodes) smiling down from heaven and gracing us (and the unknowing heroine) with his amusement.
Yes, I am that shallow.
But there was something about this guy who had seemed so proper and restrained reacting in that way and in that environment, like a school boy snickering in the back of the class because the teacher had said something silly. Naturally, the fact that the man doing the smiling is hot enough to melt even metal… well… helped. But that same guy had been there before, and his presence hadn’t had that effect (even though the BB Cream thing was hilarious), so I guess to me that moment, that added dimension of warmth, meant the beginning of my transition from laughing at the show to laughing with it. And from then on, things just kept getting better and better. To be honest, it was a little the same way for each character, at one point, they would just do something that would get me rooting for them, that would get me on their side, regardless of the side said characters were finding themselves on within the story. For Eun Seol it was a little later in that same episode, when she asked Moo Won if he hired her for her looks or because she reminded him of his first love, incredulous of the fact that they had chosen her on merit. For Na Yoon it was the epically hilarious ice cream vs. butt thing. As for Ji Sung’s Cha Ji Heon, he’s the one I fell for last (in episode 5, no less), but he’s also the one I fell for the hardest. It took that one “choa” and its delivery – and I was a goner. No, I lie. I actually began liking Ji Heon when I saw his cartoon character boxers, and then I fell a bit more when I saw him looking at Eun Seol at the amusement park. But since “you had me at cartoon boxer shorts” doesn’t quite pack the punch of “You had me at choa”, we’ll just leave it at that.
As for the drama itself, there’s no great mystery here as to where the storyline is heading. We have our A, the anti-boss with the anti-secretary and their unlikely pairing, our A and a half, where their working relationship takes a turn towards the inappropriate, you know, office wise, as a pit stop on the way to the B – blissful ever after. The only questions that remain are basically how this will happen, how many cardboard cutouts will have to suffer in the process and whether or not Jaejoong will take his shirt off.
And while I’m particularly eager to get a positive answer to the last question, I’m more than willing to embark on the ride that this drama promises, and that so far has been like – to inappropriately paraphrase Forest Gump’s mom – an unending box of crazy chocolates, with characters constantly surprising the viewers with their actions, not within the grand arc their character is supposed to draw but in the little bits of in-between that are basically what keeps us coming back for more. To be honest, I am not completely buying the rom part of things, not because I don’t like the characters but because I am not sensing a strong OTP vibe… yet. However, they have the com part completely covered and I’ll gladly tune into this show for some much needed laugh-out-louds.
Where the characters are concerned, to begin with the boss that needs the protectin’ – he’s like the guy from Coffee House with all his public appearance evading tendencies, except instead of being a writer, he’s Hyun Bin’s character in Secret Garden. I swear that made more sense in my head. But seriously, it’s like he’s the convergence of every type of crazy Kdramas have ever produced. It’s not just the panic attacks. He also can’t sleep with the lights off. AND he’s a germophobe. The thing is, though, that even with the “special” aspect of their characters, most kdrama guys find a way to work around it or to even have the crazy work in their favor. Nothing like a little OCD to help you terrorize your staff into unflinching discipline and clockwork precision, right? This guy, however is pretty much a joke around the office, except nobody dares to laugh about it to his face because he is the boss, and, well, crazy. He usually does get to terrorize one staff member, namely his secretary but it’s mostly for coping purposes rather than the good of the company.
But here’s where you get your first surprise – the show begins and you’ve identified the main character, so naturally, you brace yourself for the early portion of the drama where, traditionally you have to deal with the asshole exterior of our leading man before you get to the gooey core, and just as you get ready to deal with an amount of rudeness, arrogance and distasteful commentary at least on par with the character’s level of crazy, you find yourself face to face with this puppy hanging on to our heroine for dear life and speaking to her with the candor of a first grader. But first grader or not, he is much more aware of his emotions than the average kdrama bear. He is quite quick to admit his attraction to Eun Seul and doesn’t take long to even confess it, which is such a refreshing change from the ubiquitous kdrama dilemma, with the character asking himself “what might this pounding in my chest be? Is it a life threatening illness, the chicken I had for lunch, or… could it be… that feeling formerly known as love?” and then reaching for the Pepto-Bismol. OR from the equally frequent “I’m too good for you but I like you anyway, despite this being such a violation of my level, so rejoice!” thing. It’s actually Eun Seol that has to explain to him all the reasons why they shouldn’t be together (and he doesn’t relent regardless). I mean sure, you could chuck some of this up to his being immature and irresponsible, but he’s so adorable about it (not to mention insanely attractive despite the broccoli hair) that you don’t know whether you want to pinch his cheeks or… spank him for being such a naughty, naughty boy.
Ji Heon’s father is the CEO of a top 10 company and has every intention of making his son the successor. He runs the company with an iron fist even though business wasn’t always his vocation. In fact, he had wanted to become a boxer, before his mother forced him to become the head of the family’s business. He’s pretty free with the fist when it comes to his son’s “education” but it doesn’t come from a bad place, or rather it comes from as non-bad places as violence could ever come from. He’s very certain his son inherited his looks from him, but I’m pretty sure he’s to be credited for some of the childishness as well, from what I could see. Thinking about it, the whole family’s idea of bonding includes quite the level of physical violence, and while most of it is imparted amongst themselves, they won’t shy away from the occasional assault on a harmless cardboard cutout. I mean even grandma’s grip is pretty mean for an octogenarian and certainly strong enough for her grandson’s (admittedly feeble) neck. It’s no wonder our ex-bullying legend heroine fits right in.
Speaking of the heroine, not only is she not afraid to use her awesome kick-boxing skills to put a sexually harassing sleazebag in his place and then take on the rest of his goons in a scene reminiscent of Oldboy’s guy with hammer vs. many guys on corridor scene, but she is not afraid to speak her mind when the situation (or exasperation) calls for it. On top of that, she has this natural sweetness and innocence, but not the kind that’s indigestion inducing or inappropriate for her age. But while her outspokenness and cuteness are definite perks, it’s her utter desperation for getting a job that finally lands her one. This particular job – playing secretary to the “special” son of the conglomerate’s owner and God Moo Won’s cousin takes all of her patience and power of endurance at first, but as time goes by, she begins to feel genuine concern and affection, not to mention understanding for him. She’s both very real and very caricatural, but that’s something that could be said about most characters in the show. Apart from some of the features that are definitely enhanced for comedic appeal, the foundation of the characters is heartwarmingly genuine and multi-dimensionally human.
Na Yoon, Ji Heon’s old love and, by all indications, Moo Won’s current one, is probably the less likeable of the foursome, but that’s part of the curse of being the second female lead in a K-drama. However, she is given her fair share of redeeming qualities, most of which aren’t really showcased in her interactions with others(where she mostly comes off as entitled, arrogant or fake) but in the myriad of emotions she tries (and comically fails) to repress. It’s her emotions and her reactions to other people, her own little mental processes that set her apart from a plethora of second female leads that have tried and failed to recapture a lost lover’s heart ever since dramas have existed. I mean really, taking self defense lessons to be able to compete with her boyfriend prospect’s fierce secretary? Or smearing her ice cream on said secretary’s butt out of sheer uncontainable jealousy (masquerading as payback)? There’s gotta be some love to give a girl like this, even if she IS a second female lead, right?
And speaking of love, let’s talk about Cha Moo Won, god, man, hero (Jaejoong). Well, okay, I may have exaggerated a little but what’s a little exaggeration in the face of such hotness? Moo Won is the competent, level headed (unless it comes to childishly competing with his cousin) business genius of the company. He is set to take over the company his father had founded and that his mother is currently running, but his ambitions, and that of his mother extend well beyond that, mostly into taking over the parent-company, which is run by Ji Heon’s father. While he might always seem in control of his job, his emotions, his path in life, it’s the chips in his armor that humanize him. It’s the moments of honesty and vulnerability, it’s the little laughs at inappropriate times, it’s confessing that he’s always done the best he could and that he is scared that might not be enough, confessing or trying to confess that he is not a good man, telling his mother he is ashamed of his actions. That Moo Won is ten times more appealing than the perfect business man he is most of the time. That Moo Won… *heart melt*
I honestly can’t wait to see how all this will play out, and whether the characters will take a more or less traditional route, having some veer towards the full-on evil while others will stay on the side of the boringly good, or if they will mix things up a bit, letting these characters grow in complexity the way it’s been teased so far. I’m really liking the setup and more than anything I’m liking the characters and how honest they feel despite the comedic exaggerations.
The episode begins with the heroine narrating some of her back story. From fighting legend to dedicated student and movement leader (unfortunately at a third rate college, which is why she is having a hard time catching a break), all the while working part time to support herself, things haven’t exactly been easy for her. But she’s perky and hopeful that a chance will come her way if she keeps doing her best. And a job offer does indeed present itself; the only problem is that the employer is far from ideal – unless you like your bosses the sleazy, sexually harassing type.
Enter Ji Sung. He’s taking part in some kind of counseling group for people with panic disorders and seems to be having a terrible time. He finally has enough and leaves when one of the other patients asks: “Mr. Mask(because he’s wearing a mask and shades, not because he’s THE Mask, thought judging by the outfit and gestures, one might wonder), what problem do you have?” You mean, aside from the hair, right? Well, it seems like he went there to get treatment but actually acquired more symptoms of his illness from his fellow patients – which he reproaches his doctor about and then leaves in a huff. His destination – an office meeting where he’s supposed to speak in front of a pretty large audience, just what the doctor ordered, except not. He panics halfway through his presentation and has to bail, to the extreme discontentment of his father, but giving his cousin, Moo Won – soon to be promoted to god but for now a mere mortal, if by mere you mean gorgeous and capable – the opportunity to take over and wow the crowd with his skills. Ji Heon’s secretary nags him about attending a meeting he doesn’t want to attend, but after accidentally running into his father(whom he was trying to avoid) and being brutalized by him in an elevator for being the disgrace that he is, he is forced to go.
Coincidentally his meeting takes place at the same spot where Eun Seol’s new employer is holding an employee get-together (or get-to-grope). The sleazeboss makes a pass at Eun Seol, she accuses him of sexual harassment, he throws a drink in her face, and she follows him to the bathroom to settle the score. He gets beaten up and tied to the sink and she ends up being chased by his goons, just as Ji Heon was finally leaving his own meeting. Thus, he becomes the unwitting participant in the spat and after Eun Seol beats up most of the goons and makes her escape, he is left to face the consequences. A black eye and a popped lip later, he comes out with her shoe in his hand. Just as I’m about to add shoe fetishism to his gallery of crazy, it turns out this is just your trademark k-drama Cinderella reference, I mean, if prince charming had ever wanted to hunt down Cinderella with a rifle and reap vengeance on all of her kin. But you know, at least it’s not the Little Mermaid, which I am thankful for.
Ji Heon gets home to an apologetic dad, but when the dad realizes his son had been beaten up by someone other than himself, he springs into action and teaches the goons a lesson. Unfortunately, the press gets a whiff of this occurrence by way of Ji Heon’s secretary who was lamenting his bleak fate in a bar, unaware that the press’ ears were upon him. News breaks out that Ji Heon’s dad is something of a mob daddy, which gets him in trouble with the law, which he weasels out of by taking a community service sentence, which, in turn gives way to many a hilarious scene.
Turns out, when all is said and done Ji Heon is in need of a secretary and Eun Seol is in (even more desperate) need of a job. She has now been reduced to applying randomly, but this randomness brings her to God Moo Won’s doorstep, err… company. The interview isn’t as smooth as one would wish, and she is gulled by the blatant discrimination that is shown throughout. She thinks back to other instances of humiliation and can’t keep quiet about it anymore. Her little furious monologue is what gets Moo Won’s attention and a few days later she gets news that she’s been hired. She’s confused as to the why of the situation, wondering if somehow her deadly charms had done it again or if in fact she reminded Moo Won of a long lost love, but as it turns out, he saw in her the one thing the others didn’t have – a sort of fearlessness that stems only from her kind of desperation, and that’s just the thing Ji Heon’s secretary has to possess in order to put up with him. Not to mention the fact that gratitude towards Moo Won would make her a most valuable spy. She’s overjoyed, but the other members of the secretarial pool aren’t, looking at her as if she hadn’t earned her way in. But nobody is as displeased to see her as her new boss, Ji Heon. He doesn’t remember her from the other night, thankfully, nor does she remember him, but the antipathy is there. What next?
Ji Heon makes it evident that he dislikes his new secretary, from her poop-hair do to everything else, and claims that she is a spy sent by Moo Won. Excellent point, but as Moo Won puts it, what is there to spy on, since all he does is goof around all day and do no work. Ji Heon claims that’s a cover up, to which Moo Won retorts he can just go ahead and keep up the act, that way his spy will keep being misled. You know guys, one day when you decide to wrestle it out, I hope you get to do it in a mud pool and that there is a camera around.
Ji Heon refuses to acknowledge Eun Seol as his secretary at first, which makes her want to quit, and regret not being more specific in wishing for a job, since she was granted this guy for a boss, but then she decides to stick it out, and eventually Ji Heon decides it’s better to have someone to torture, even if it is her, so he proceeds to instruct her in the ways of being his secretary, which basically consists of being at the beck and call of a prissy pants chaebol heir with abandonment issues. Her resilience to his constant torments is almost fascinating to him, but despite the obedient smiles on display, it makes her think happy murder thoughts about him.
Seeing the complaints from employees piling up against Ji Heon’s… inconsistency, daddy Cha asks Eun Seol to get him to work no matter what, adding that her job is on the line. Eun Seol agrees, however she asks that she is given a month to complete the project and that she even be allowed the use of physical force. Daddy agrees, figuring that she couldn’t have much physical force to employ anyway. Oh daddy, if you only knew. Regardless, she gets permission to come by their house every day and drag him to work if necessary, which gives Eun Seol access to the Cha household and front row seats to the unveiling of Ji Heon’s Dooly shorts. And by unveiling I mean pulling off his covers and ogling his butt – it’s okay, Eun Seol, that’s how I’d do it too. There’s no judgment here. No judgment at all.
We also get our first shower scene, and far be it from me to complain, but why do we only get visuals of the shoulders? Cause, I mean, we all know Ji Sung has it in him. So really, why discriminate from drama to drama? Maybe somewhere in some k-drama framing guide, there is something that states full abs shot is only to be used for brooding showers, while spazzy my-secretary-saw-my-Dooly-shorts showers only get shoulders. Oh well, I’ll take what I can get.
The incursion into Ji Heon’s room gives way to another revelation, as in Eun Seol finding her missing shoe and realizing she’s in fact the mystery poop head woman (Pooperella?) who had caused much mischief to both Ji Heon and chairman Cha. Seeing her fiddle with the evidence shoe, Ji Heon comes up with the brilliant idea of having her find his nemesis – since, due to his status, he can’t. She half-agrees and they head to the office, where they arrive late enough for daddy Cha to get pissed off and administer another one of his fatherly elevator beatings. However, in the heat of things Eun Seol steps in front of Ji Heon, trying to stand up for him, and daddy punches her by mistake, thus causing a huge shift in the dynamics between the three. For one, daddy was caught on surveillance tape punching an employee, so he hands a check and an apology to make it right. Eun Seol would rather take a raincheck on whatever daddy owes her, thinking it’s just a matter of time till he finds out she’s Pooperella and that she’ll need all the benevolence she can get when that happens. The more surprising development, however, is Ji Heon’s reaction to the whole thing, from surprise, to gratitude, to the beginning of attraction and trust in the person he has finally gotten… protection from. Aw, poor lost puppy.
First, he gets annoyed when he sees the other secretaries take advantage of her so he tells her never to take orders from anyone but him. Then he has her clean the drawer where he keeps his first aid kit, not before taking out the bruise cream and placing it on top of it. THEN he decides she can’t even apply it properly so he offers some assistance, bringing forth the budding-attraction-facial-proximity scene that happens to most drama couples, but usually not this early in the game.
But what happens when the old secretary comes back in need of a letter of recommendation and willing to bargain for it with the info he’d gathered on the mystery woman? Well, the heroine has to spring into action and use her fighting skills to threaten her way out of the sticky situation. Ji Heon is not pleased that the old secretary fails to show up with the evidence he’d teased about, but there’s little he can do about it except throw his recommendation letter away for Eun Seol to find.
Ji Heon has to go on an inspection for one of the company’s stores but refuses to, until EUn Seol persuades him to do it saying that she’ll be by his side. However, when she goes to get him some water and he finds himself alone, he gets a panic attack that makes him crouch to the ground, until she finds him and hugs him until it passes. Of course, after the big moment of closeness comes the big push-away and the big denial of feelings, but fortunately, it’s short-lived.
That day, Eun Seol and Moo Won share just enough of a moment for him to give her some encouragement and for her to let the cat out of the bag on Ji Heon’s condition. In consequence, Moo Won comes up with a plan designed to put Ji Heon on the spot and shares it with the administrative board. Ji Heon refuses, papa gets mad and reminds him that he’s the only one for the job since his brother had passed away. Ouch. Multi-sting.
Ji Heon tells Eun Seol that she shouldn’t come to work for the following days because he won’t be going in either. Thinking he’s up to his old tricks, Eun Seol goes to his house to check on him, but finds him preparing for the task he had been assigned. She falls asleep at his door, he catches her and they end up preparing together, except on the day of the speech, someone shows up, causing Ji Heon to have a panic attack and leave the speech-giving to Eun Seol. The someone in question is Ji Heon’s ex, Na Yoon, and her being there was arranged by chairman Cha’s evil sister-in-law, Moo Won’s mom. Ji Heon’s disappearing act does not go down well with daddy Cha, so he gets kicked out of the house. With nowhere to go, he ends up at Eun Seol’s house, where he sees the evidence shoe had found its pair and realizes his secretary is the dreaded Poop Head he had been searching for all along.
Ji Heon can’t believe his eyes, but when he finally realizes what happened, he begins questioning whether this was just a coincidence or if Eun Seol had planned it all along. He doesn’t get a chance to take his paranoia to extreme heights because Eun Seol’s roommate comes home and mistaking him for a robber, she picks him up and throws him across the room. Oh my god, I know Eun Seol’s roommate is a wrestler, but Ji Heon is such a wimp. I love it. The revelation that instead of a robber he is in fact Eun Seol’s boss doesn’t really pacify Myeong Ran, since she recalls them vowing to kill him together if ever the chance presented itself. He protests the situation but that only irks Myeong Ran into… facilitating another close meeting with the floor for him. Ouch, that would have felt painful to watch if it hadn’t been so funny.
He leaves Eun Seol’s house, feeling hurt and betrayed more than physically in pain and refuses to accept Eun Seol’s apology, but as it turns out, he’s still penniless, phoneless and courageless, so when Eun Seol goes after him, he agrees to come back inside with her. Their little doorstep discussion, however, makes Eun Seol understand Ji Heon a lot better, helping her catch a glimpse of how lonely and scared he must be feeling.
Back at the Cha household, grandma Cha admonishes daddy Cha for always using physical violence as a means of communicating with Ji Heon, but not before administering some violence of her own to her son. I swear, someone should tell this family you catch more flies with honey than with a baseball bat. Still, it’s hilarious to witness daddy’s self reflections and the way he claims to be more handsome than his competing companies’ CEOs. Towards the end of his monologue it’s obvious that he worries greatly about Ji Heon, not understanding the reason why his son is so afraid. Cause, I mean, always getting punched is such a courage boost.
The next day at the office, they run into Moo Won on their way in, and Ji Heon doesn’t hesitate to say that his attire is the way it is because he spent the night at Eun Seol’s. She tries to explain the situation, making Ji Heon feel excluded and therefore bringing forth some more childish behavior, such as jumping in the elevator before they get a chance to and then poking out his tongue at them. He’s 7 and he doesn’t even try to hide it.
Later, Moo Won reminds Ji Heon of Na Yoon’s return, but Ji Heon doesn’t seem too concerned about it, something that puzzles Moo Won by the look of things. He and Na Yoon had met a few days back and she had made her intentions of winning Ji Heon back very clear to him, so Ji Heon’s disinterest is at least intriguing. We flash back to when Na Yoon had left and Ji Heon was supposed to see her to the airport, but just as he got there, he received a phone call bearing terrible news and the two never got to meet. The panic attack Ji Heon suffered when he saw her again during his speech seems to be related to the memory of receiving that news rather than to her, because thinking back, he gets a panic attack again. Eun Seol walks in carrying a tray and seeing him in that state, she rushes to help, only instead she drops the hot coffee on his lap, proving once again that there’s nothing like a burning sensation on your privates to take your mind off other things. This causes the two to get into an argument in front of the bathroom about how she is the cause of all the evil that had befallen him, his father and their company. When she retorts that she knows all his dirty secrets, ergo his underwear preferences and his sleeping habits, he threatens to expose her as Pooperella, naturally, without any intention of doing so. Their banter is overheard by the company’s other secretaries and within minutes, everything is public news.
Eun Seol thinks Ji Heon had made good on his promise to expose her, but doesn’t get a chance to confront him about it because grandma Cha had kidnapped him. Later, after getting scolded at the office and having a phone conversation with Ji Heon that deepens the misunderstandings, Eun Seol decides to leave and goes to visit her father in the mountains.
Turns out that her father had taught her kick-boxing and that he is living in the mountains as a hermit of sorts, after failing as a businessman in Seoul and having to skip town. Her father gives her a training/anger release session where she gets to vent the anger she’d built up against the people at the office and most especially Ji Heon, while he vents his anger at her cardboard cutout. Ji Heon then remembers the way she’d cared for him while he was at her house and how they’d fallen asleep facing each other as he lies on the bed imagining her sleeping next to him, just as his father walks in and catches him talking to himself. Aw man, this is funny on so many levels. Turns out Eun Seol was thinking about Ji Heon all along too, because she bought her dad the kind of underwear that he wears. Hilarity amplified. Seems like it’s fatherly discussion day because Ji Heon’s dad also has a heart to heart with his son and they seem to come to some sort of agreement about one using less violence and the other being less of a disappointment.
The next day, Eun Seol returns to face the music and impart some wisdom on her fellow secretaries with the help of some martial arts moves. She also drops by Moo Won’s office to give him a good bye gift, except he’ll have none of that. Instead, he advises her to seek out the chairman and apologize, saying he’ll handle the rest. And that, dear Moo Won, is how you get to be called God(even if you are one with ulterior motives). You know, aside from being gorgeous and brilliant.
The task of receiving forgiveness from the CEO turns out to be less difficult than initially thought, though largely because of a misunderstanding. No matter, Eun Seol is back in the game, even if the entire office is against her. But just as the chief secretary is giving Eun Seol an earful, Ji Heon walks in and rather dashingly puts him in his place. He then goes on to say that the only one who gets to abuse her is him. How… magnanimous of him (and also sweet in context). But when he hears that she has already submitted her resignation, he rushes to take care of it, only to run into Moo Won who had already handled the matter. Hah. The race is on.
Later that day, Moo Won and Na Yoon meet to discuss business but end up discussing their romantic past, or rather, their hormone-induced… encounters. Apparently they had gotten involved because he was too attractive to resist, or something to that effect. Either way, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. Really, who COULD resist? But there’s obviously more there than meets the eye, since their exchange wouldn’t be half as snarky if there weren’t any residual feelings.
Na Yoon then goes to meet Ji Heon, but is stopped by Eun Seol, who doesn’t let her go into his office without an appointment, to Na Yoon’s shock. Na Yoon turns to Moo Won’s secretary, but she’s not about to cut her any favors either (uuhh, tension).
Over at the meeting, the chairman announces his intention of making Ji Heon his successor, to his sister in law’s complete and voiced disapproval and to everyone else’s quiet dissatisfaction. Ji Heon however, seems the most burdened by this situation, but as he walks the corridor lost in thought, Moo Won intervenes and tells him the decision to make him the successor makes no sense since Ji Heon has no interest in the company, unlike himself. Ji Heon retorts that he may have no interest in the company but he’s not about to let Moo Won have it, and accompanies saying that with the appropriate (if you’re in kindergarten) gestures, and walking away. But Moo Won proves he’s not above the neener neener mindset and pushes him as he passes him by. Ji Heon runs to catch up and pushes him back, and so on until they get to their office. Guys, did you happen to hear me mention something about a mud pool? And shirtlessness? Cause, you know, I’d be totally supportive of that idea. Just sayin’.
Back at the conference room, it’s time for a sister in law vs. chairman face off, where each is supporting their own offspring, or rather using them to fight a much older-seeming argument.
Elsewhere, Na Yoon is fighting the urge to throw her coffee in Ji Heon’s face, infuriated by his indifference to her return and to her attempts to rekindle their past relationship. I absolutely LOVE the fact that he’s so open about it, that there’s no ambivalence or residual feelings like in most cases of returning past lovers. He’s simply over it and tells it to her face. Way to go, Ji Heon. You do the cartoon dinosaur on your boxers proud.
Na Yoon goes to cry in the bathroom, Moo Won’s mother cries in the elevator, and Ji Heon thinks back on his time with Na Yoon. His reverie is interrupted by Eun Seol however, who had come to find him seeing as it had gotten late. They go back to his office and talk about what it would be like if he became the chairman. Aw, it’s so sweet that she’s becoming his confidante.
Eventually, daddy CEO finds out about Eun Seol’s involvement in the nightclub incident and the plummeting of their company stocks and confronts Ji Heon about it, asking him to fire him, Ji Heon refuses so his father makes him responsible for making up for the loss by becoming the successor. Wow, daddy Cha, that’s why you are the CEO, aren’t you? Way to turn the situation in favor of getting what you want.
The next day, as part of his taking charge of things, Ji Heon visits the company’s amusement park to assess the situation. In a quieter moment, she reminisces about her first and only amusement park experience, and while the experience itself was bitter-sweet, she says the memory is a happy one. She doesn’t remember which rides she took though, so Ji Heon offers to treat her to the ones she’d like to go on today.
Nearby, sister-in-law is trying to set up Na Yoon on a date with Moo Won, being very transparent about her intention to get them married. The two cool the act as soon as she leaves, however and decide to go for a walk, where else but at the amusement park, where they see Ji Heon looking at Eun Seol as she is taking one of the rides. Hello jealousy, my old friend.
As Heartstrings has come to an end and we are scraping to pick ourselves up and deal with the reality of the situation, one always has to have a back-up plan. Here’s a little guide I put together to make the transition easier:
We’ll Always Have Paris. In this case Paris being the music. And the music being the Heartstrings OST.
Feature film – it. Starting a new drama right away may feel a little tedious, since it takes a while to get invested, and you need your fix now. Try something like Cyrano Agency or the Japanese film Linda, Linda, Linda. They’re bound to turn your frown upside down.
Run in the opposite direction to find your way back home. Try something non-Korean, such as the awesome little French film Love Me If You Dare. It’s a story about being in love with your best friend and everything that means to the two characters, from childhood, to their teens and into their adulthood. The two stars were the first on-screen couple I shipped in real life and my wish came true. Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet became a real couple, two years or so after the film(and are still going strong, having welcomed their first child this year). She also went on to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf and he went on to successfully direct and star in other projects, but no matter how many times I’ve seen them in other films, I could never forget this first instant of absolute magic. The chemistry between the leads is so intense you might need protection goggles during the kiss scenes. The whole film is such a passionate, beautiful, warm, joyful, insanely mischievous(some might even call it perverted, though not in the sexual sense) ride, and the playful tone hides so many layers of metaphors, that it will make you fall in love irrevocably. Or you might hate it, there’s always that possibility, but hey, you won’t know until you try. The “Better than…” scene (you’ll know what I mean when and if you watch the film) is one of my favorite scenes ever.
Start an online petition asking MBC to release the bears. Make sure to mention that it’s not a PETA-related action, and that in fact you are referring to the releasing of the bear key chains shown in the drama Heartstrings. Might want to wait a day or two before making that clarification though, just in case the controversy and ensuing buzz will make MBC release them sooner.
Learn to play the gayageum. Sure, it may not be easy, but it’s the most surefire way of securing a Shin of your own.
Fangirl to your heart’s content.
Whether it’s this
Something will surely distract you from the pain in yer heart.
Find a rebound. Admit it, we all need it sometimes. Flirting with a drama that makes you feel good about yourself with no intention of settling down is good for the soul. Got some guilty pleasure dramas stashed away? Now’s the time to dig in.
Spend some time with a friend. Sure, you may no longer share the sizzling passion of yore, but we all have a drama or two we can always go back to for comfort. Goong or Coffee Prince might be a good (and tonally similar) option, as would be a part of the Hong Sisters oeuvre (I’d avoid YAB though because it’ll make you even more melancholic – Delightful Girl Choon Hyang is the one I’d go with right now).
Date other dramas. It will be awkward at first and you might be in for some excruciating hours and annoying dialogue, but the best way to get back in the game is to… get back in the game. Besides, you never know who your next true love might be
Fall in love again. Whether it’s going to be Scent of a Woman, Protect the Boss, Birdie Buddy, Can’t Lose or another one of the currently airing/soon-to-be-airing dramas, one is sure to meet some of your expectations. It may not be the same as what you are currently missing, but who’s to say different is bad? My best bet? The Musical, the Gu Hye Sun drama that is finally set to air. A med student that wants to be a musical actress and a song writer with connections to Broadway? Did they have Heartstrings fans in mind when they finally decided to air it? Sign me right up! I think I found my next recapping project. Well, at least one of them anyway.
*Disclaimer: The above guide is intended for humorous purposes. No dramas were harmed during its production.
Wow, I never thought writing the recap for the final episode of YFFM would be this hard. I’ve been here before, that is, feeling the pangs of saying goodbye to a drama I love, feeling the giddiness and sadness of the last episode and the odd emptiness the ending eventually leaves behind. But having to recap a final episode of such beloved drama feels very different. To be honest, I dislike final episodes on principle(or rather based on experiences with many dramas). With a very few exceptions, they are usually rushed, at best, or, at worst – well, the last episode of Damo comes to mind(it ran a stampede over my wee soul and I have yet to fully recover). So in short, I was keeping my expectations limited for the last episode of Heartstrings and hoping for a quick and relatively painless resolution of conflict and many, many hints at a happily ever after. For someone who has thrived on a steady diet of cute interactions, youthful energy and lovable characters, the fulfillment of those hopes seemed like a pretty sweet deal. Now that it’s done and I am yet to collect my thoughts fully, I couldn’t really say the ending was what I expected. Well, not entirely anyway. But I’d have to say I’m overall satisfied with it, aside from one qualm, namely Shin’s situation. I mean seriously, I don’t know what this boy did to deserve being dealt the “life sometimes sucks” cards all throughout the show, but I’m less than pleased with how they handled his injury. I get that his hand still needs time to recover and that he will keep playing guitar, singing and writing songs, but still, something about taking THAT away from him(even if not completely, even if just for a while), the thing that makes him magical and makes the audience fall for him, well… sucks. On the other hand, I am overjoyed that Kyu Won has become a successful singer, it’s something I was hoping for from the moment I saw her get up on that stage to play with Stupid back when everything began. I also love that we finally got our kiss and reciprocated hug and that we got to see Shin and Kyu Won on stage together, so… all’s well that ends well?
We’re still at Catharsis, where Shin’s wrist has caused him to stop playing and fall to his knees in pain, to everyone, and especially Kyu Won’s alarm. But when they ask him what’s the matter he brushes it off, claiming it has nothing to do with his hand and refuses Kyu Won’s offer to go to the hospital, starting to play again. After the performance, we see Shin in the bathroom, holding his hand under cold water to reduce the pain. Back at the table, Kyu Won remembers the fall and the patch on Shin’s wrist the other day and shares her concerns with Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo, also confronting Shin about it when he returns. However, he puts on the brave act once again and denies having any problems with his hand whatsoever.
As they walk home, Yoon Soo and Suk Hyun talk about Shin’s problem. Yoon Soo is worried, thinking about what happened to her in the past, but Suk Hyun tries to look on the bright side of things, such as the way Yoon Soo’s return brought them back together. I’m all for optimism and everything but I’m not sure how well Suk Hyun would be able to handle having his directing abilities taken away from him in the blink of an eye. This storyline, aside from digging a hole through my heart because of what’s happening to Shin, is really making me feel for Yoon Soo, in retrospect. Back when the show began and we knew little to nothing about her back story, she contrasted a lot with the rest of the cast’s cheerfulness and let’s face it, was a total downer, to an annoying extent, but she was the only one at the time who had lost something incredibly precious, who had had a big chunk of who she was, of who she liked being taken away from her. So basically, as my heart breaks for Shin and I look back, I pretty much get why she was like that. Hell, I’m not sure how many people wouldn’t be that way after what happened to her. So in that sense, I would say job well done tying loose ends, show.
The next day, Kyu Won meets with the manager and finds out that she’s set to leave for England very soon. She’s to spend six months there and receive intensive training, from singing lessons to jazz-dancing, as well as getting to watch musicals. He also tells her that she should take a year off from school for this purpose, and that she might consider giving it up altogether, since she was majoring in gugak anyway. But Kyu Won says she plans to return to school after her year off because she doesn’t want to let go of gugak completely.
The other half of the couple however, isn’t faring so well. It turns out that his hand needs surgery, and fast. The doctor wants to schedule it as soon as possible to avoid any further complications, but Shin insists that they postpone it for a while, for fear Kyu Won would find out. Shin also asks what the chances of recovery are after surgery, and the doctor says it depends on several things, and that some patients never regain full use. A disheartened Shin leaves the doctor’s office and sits down on the stairs thinking about what he’s just heard. Wow, show. Is this how far you are willing to go? Is my becoming a blubbering mess that important to you that you’d be willing to sacrifice Shin’s hand to get me to do it? Bah, I hope you’re happy.
Back at her house, Kyu Won fills grandpa in on her plans to take a year off school to study abroad. Gramps doesn’t dignify her with his interest, saying she can do whatever she pleases because he doesn’t care. Now that Shin’s sister is his new apprentice, gramps seems to have gotten over the disappointment that Kyu Won isn’t following in his gugak footsteps, but like the old baby that he is, he’s not about to actually be civilized about it.
Kyu Won calls Shin and asks that they meet. She shows him her passport picture and he asks her to give it to him so he can study it in detail. Kyu Won talks about the departure plans, saying that she’s happy and excited to be going but at the same time sad to be separated from him. He cheers her up, saying that they can always keep in touch and see each other online, joking about the fact that she seems to like him too much to be able to be away from him. I know this is supposed to be funny, but what’s a girl to do if what you say is true? Have you met you? If you were her, would you be able to stay away? Pah.
Kyu Won is already packing her things when her father drops in. They talk about Shin and the father is curious whether he’ll be able to let Kyu Won go, but she complains that it’s quite the opposite and that he seems eager to send her away. The dad interprets this as Shin not wanting her to know he is affected by her leaving, and then, seeing that Shin isn’t doing the clingy thing he gives it a half ass attempt himself, saying something along the lines of them not being meant to live together since she’s going away just as he moved in. I love seeing Kyu Won’s eyes sparkle with excitement and I’m really happy that she is getting the chance, but at the same time I feel guilty being happy for her and knowing what poor Shin is going through. Come to think about it, if I feel this way, Kyu Won would feel a gazillion times worse, so I (reluctantly) get why Shin isn’t telling her.
Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo talk about their own travel plans to the chairman and it turns out they’ll be gone for about a year as well. Time jump, here we come! But not yet.
Kyu Won is meeting the girls who gush about her good fortune and tell her they are jealous of all the things she will get to do and see, but Kyu Won tempers their enthusiasm saying she’s seen her schedule and basically she’ll barely have time to breathe. This leads the girls to conclude that Shin has quit Catharsis in order to make the most of the time they still have together, except this comes as a total surprise to Kyu Won. She thinks it a bit suspicious, but the girls say he probably wants to surprise her with the news later, and she lets herself be convinced because it’s the last episode and following the suspicion trail would not advance the story as quickly it needs to be advanced at this point.
Well, at least one couple is making the most out of the Catharsis time out, with Joon Hee and Hee Joo meeting for coffee and Joon Hee being super attentive and caring to Hee Joo, thus showing that Shin’s not the only Stupid boy to be a great boyfriend. We knew that already, Joon Hee, but as cute as you are, we still like Shin better.
Shin meets his doctor to schedule the surgery. The doctor suggests that they set it soon, but Shin asks that they schedule it after Kyu Won’s departure date. The doctor warns him that chances of recovery worsen as time passes, but Shin is adamant about needing the time he asked for. NO! This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, it’s not supposed to be your future for Kyu Won’s, you’re both supposed to have it, together. PD-nim, this is pissing me off more and more.
It appears that of all people, Suk Hyun has caught on to the fact that something’s up with Shin so he asks to meet him. When Shin says he’s fine, he grabs his hand rather harshly, causing Shin to shriek in pain and give himself away as a result. Shin asks Suk Hyun that he doesn’t tell Kyu Won, fearing that she would drop everything and stay behind. Suk Hyun understands his reasoning, and after offering some words of encouragement, they part ways.
Shin goes to meet Kyu Won, who shows him her plane ticket, to which he replies that her going away seems real now. Their order is up and he offers to get it, but drops the tray because of his painful wrist. Okay, Mr. Indestructible and Stealthy, if you’re really going to keep it from her, best try not putting yourself in a position where your cover will get blown, m’kay? Or better yet, just tell her and put me out of my misery, eh? Pretty please with a cherry on top? Of course, Kyu Won thinks his dropping the tray is weird and asks him again what’s wrong, if his hand is hurt and if that’s the reason he stopped playing at Catharsis. He denies it again and the conversation ends there, except Kyu Won isn’t about to let it go quite as easily. That night she keeps thinking about the various incidents involving Shin and pieces things together.
The next morning she goes and tells the manager she won’t be using that plane ticket after all and that she’ll refund them for the costs, because she’s decided to stay behind and be by someone’s side. When the manager asks her if she won’t regret it, she confidently says she won’t. And that right there, that confidence is what makes me realize she has to go. Because she is willing to wave away a brilliant opportunity as if it’s nothing, just like she always has in the past. Maybe if I’d seen more regret on her face rejecting the chance of a lifetime, I would have been inclined to think that staying behind wouldn’t be so bad since she’d fight for her chance anyway, but like this, with her happily stepping behind the curtain again… well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be her if she didn’t offer like this, but I would be twice as heartbroken if she did stay behind. I mean, at this point, Shin’s hand is busted anyway, and while it would be great to have her next to him through the thick of it all, it would be doubly tragic if both were to miss out on opportunities because of it.
After speaking to the manager, she goes to meet Shin and tells him that she’s decided not to go anywhere but that she will stay and be there for him because he is injured. His reaction is to reply, rather coldly, that he is fine, but that he wants to break up as he doesn’t see himself pulling off a long distance relationship. Nooo! I knew this had to happen, but… why does it really have to happen, why? Why, PD-nim!? On the other hand, this is the same spot where she told him a while back that she would stop liking him, and look how well that turned out.
He takes her bear off his phone and gives it back to her, but when she refuses to take it, he leaves it next to her on the bench, says he’s sorry and gets up to walk away. She goes after him and grabs his hand but he doesn’t let her hold on to him and leaves. Seeing him walk away from her, the distance between them growing with every step is just so painful to watch. On one hand I know it’s just a stage of this whole final episode thing, but on the other hand, I really, really didn’t want to see this happen. And sure, she could have fought it more, but when you think about it, with the changes going on in her life, friends acting just a tad differently around her, everything feeling strange and new all of the sudden, being hit with this after your boyfriend has been acting strange for a while… well, it’s not like it couldn’t happen. I can actually see it happen to a couple. It’s just that it’s not supposed to be happening to them.
That night, they both cry, Kyu Won holding their bears and Shin looking at her picture. Aw damn. As if it wasn’t enough with me tearing up over here.
Next thing we know, it’s a year later.
Kyu Won is already a star and I’m loving that they went all out with this and didn’t leave it at a possible maybe in the future if this or that. She’s an established artist, popular enough to be holding press conferences and giving interviews to music magazines (Shin’s mom’s magazine, for one) and having her albums selling well in stores. So, you know, pretty cool. I love seeing her confident and in her element at that press conference(I’ve been waiting two shows long for this) and having the press fawn over her. A year ago she was the girl deemed unfit to date the campus idol and now she’s a star in her own right. Also, the longer hair? Awesome. Not only does it make her look more mature and gives her an air of confidence as opposed to the playful/youthful hairstyle she’s had throughout the show, she looks absolutely gorgeous wearing it like that.
Shin’s mom and Kyu Won’s dad meet up to talk about the kids. She praises Kyu Won and makes him a job offer, granted, one that pays less than his current one but that offers more satisfaction. I’m betting he would have done it for free, but like this, how could he not accept? We also find out that Shin is doing better, recovering slowly, and constantly practicing guitar, but the mom adds that Kyu Won should still be kept in the dark about the surgery. Why the need for secrecy now, I wonder? Should I suspect a small case of manly manliness and of “I don’t want you to see me when I’m weak and vulnerable” on top of Shin’s selflessness? Hmm. You can take the narcissistic prince out of Catharsis, but you can’t take the narcissism out of the prince. No, that doesn’t sound right to me either.
Over at Shin’s house, his sister is bugging him about resuming his Catharsis performances but he says it will take a while longer, to which the sister retorts that he always says that. I’m guessing little sis has figured out that money don’t grow on gugak trees and that grandpa is a stingy old bugger(just ask Kyu Won) so her finances would really need that extra push only having a campus idol brother could give. Especially since his relationship status would now ensure the return of his entire fan base. Speaking of grandpa, though, he seems to have met his match, and then some in Jung Hyun. Not only has she memorized his entire life story(an impressive feat), but she will take none of his nagging and is not afraid to send him away when he is interrupting her lessons. Poor grandpa and his disciple from hell.
Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo return home to find that everything is the same as they had left it and completely different at the same time. For instance, Soo Myung’s crapmobile is still the same, but his love life seems to have blossomed since he is dating the head Scene Stealer and even bragging about it. Catharsis also seems to have suffered a change in administration in the name of… love, or at least that’s what we suspect Gu went in search of on the other side of the globe.
On the other hand, Hee Joo’s mother is still her scheming self, except this time she’s trying to make her younger daughter into the next diva. The only problem is the girl is about as much of a diva as… well, her mother is, really. That’s not a problem though, in the world of Model Mom, since she has already instructed Frsutrato-guy to make her daughter a star. Tae Joon and his minion talk about the matter, lamenting daughter no.2’s lack of talent and saying they have to find a part for her regardless, especially since this year Suk Hyun won’t be there to bother them about casting those pesky talented people instead of those who need to be cast. That moment, Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo show up, sending both members of the production team into a panic. But not to worry, Suk Hyun is not there to foil their plans, he just came to escort Yoon Soo and say hello to the chairman. Suk Hyun is in fact preparing his own show, and on hearing the news about Kyu Won’s success, he goes to find her.
Kyu Won is practicing at the studio and showing some awesome dance moves. I’m glad ShinHye got to show off her dance skills at least a little bit, because she really does move very well. The director goes in and applauds her performance and both of them are glad to see each other again. Suk Hyun asks Kyu Won how she is doing and how things are going with Shin. She tells him about the breakup a while ago and he asks for details, realizing what was behind it. Kyu Won however seems to think it was for completely different reasons and even says something about how she understood where he came from when she got to England. Bah, if only you knew, Lee Kyu Won, if only you knew. Suk Hyun scolds her for not telling him earlier and she excuses herself saying it wasn’t happy news so she didn’t think to report it. Suk Hyun hands her the script for the new show he’s working on and wants to know what she thinks. He points out that if she likes it, she will have to audition for the part like everybody else. Darn this Suk Hyun and his work ethics. Why can’t he be more like Tae Joon and just give her the part? Juuuuuuust kidding. Love you, Suk Hyun! *waves* The director also tells Kyu Won that he’s thinking about asking Shin to work on the music for the show. Kyu Won is surprised but says she’s okay with it and he can go right ahead.
Not one to waste time, Suk Hyun goes to meet Shin to tell him about the project and ask him about his hand. Shin tells him that his hand is still not 100% but that he’s working hard to get there. Suk Hyun asks Shin to create the music for his show, telling him to take a look at the script and to show him whatever songs he might have that fit the story. I have to say, Suk Hyun has a really bad case of art-imitating-life-itis. First it was a show about him and Yoon Soo, now it’s about Shin and Kyu Won(obviously). That’s the thing about being friends with artists, you never know when your life will end up in a novel or a play. That being said, I would so TOTALLY watch Heartstrings II – Theater Days or Heartstrings II – The Show Does Go On or Heartstrings II – Fan Service. Either is fine with me. Just don’t end, show! *ahem*
Over at Catharsis, the gang is welcoming Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo, with Suk Hyun being his old wise ass self and wondering why the reception hadn’t been more impressive. After a bit more banter, talk of the musical comes up and Hee Joo asks whether the director had already assigned the part to Kyu Won. The director asks if Hee Joo wants to compete for the part as well and she admits that she does, but then the conversation turns to Shin making the music for the show and as such his and Kyu Won’s possible collaboration, which pretty much brings on the melancholy.
Kyu Won looks for something in her book case and finds Shin’s dad’s disc that he had given her. Since the circumstances had changed dramatically since then, she decides to return it to him. She waits for him outside his front door, hesitating, just as Shin happens to come up behind her. They share an awkward moment before she blurts out that she hasn’t had a chance to return it before and that she’s sorry about that, to which he simply tells her to go back inside. Wow, this reunion, seeing them distant and hurt is more painful than the breakup scene, especially since she is returning the disc that pretty much held the promise of their relationship… *gulp* You better make it up to me soon, show, you’re running out of time!
Suk Hyun and Shin meet up the next day to discuss the musical. Shin likes the idea of the show and offers the songs he’s been working on but refuses to participate in the actual production because he doesn’t want Kyu Won to know that his playing still isn’t up to snuff. Suk Hyun, do me a favor, will you? Slap some sense into that boy? Kthx.
On the other hand, Kyu Won is delighted by the idea of being in the show and playing the lead, and she’s even up for the audition, not one to be intimidated by the likes of Hee Joo. Kyu Won really has changed and I am loving it. However, when she hears about Shin not partaking in the musical she assumes it’s because of her and she decides to give Shin a call to set things straight. Shin is in Stupid’s practice studio, working hard on his guitar but with less than satisfying results when he receives her call. He asks her what it’s about but she insists that they meet in person. Ouch, I can tell by the tone in their voices this isn’t going to go down well.
Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo talk about Kyu Won and Shin’s situation(and do some last minute product placement), comparing their own experiences of having been in an accident/finding out their loved one was in pain and weighing in on which would be better, for Kyu Won to know or not to know.
Shin and Kyu Won meet and she asks him why he doesn’t want to take part in the show and says she’ll make sure they don’t run into each other if that’s what it takes, but he rebukes her every attempt and eventually tells her to leave him alone. Yep, it didn’t go down well.
In this situation, what’s a girl to do? Go to Catharsis and get really drunk. Wow, you can tell she’s been to England. Not knowing what to do with a passed out Kyu Won, Bo Woon calls Shin to ask him to take her home. Shin doesn’t know what to do, or rather, what he wants to do isn’t the same as what he thinks he should do, so eventually calls Kyu Won’s father and tells him about the situation. He still worries about what might happen so he waits for them outside their house and the dad sees him. After depositing Kyu Won in her bed, he comes back out and talks to Shin, telling him that he should make an attempt at patching things up with Kyu Won since they obviously still have feelings for each other and gives Shin’s mother and himself as an example of something that might have worked had they insisted a little and that he ended up regretting letting go.
The next day Kyu Won wakes up to grandpa’s fury of having raised a drunk. Kyu Won doesn’t really know what’s going on, but her dad fills in the gaps and she realizes she does have reasons to be embarrassed. The dad also tells her it was Shin who called him to pick her up after Bo Woon had called him, and Kyu Won is a little disappointed, thinking for a moment that Shin could have taken her home himself.
Suk Hyun listens to the songs Shin had written and realizes he has to step in and force some sense into the two. He meets Kyu Won the next day and tells her to listen to the songs, saying that a fool had written them. As she listens, Kyu Won flashes back to how she and Shin had met and built their relationship over time, and eventually realizes that it was he who had written the song. By golly! We have progress!
The next time she meets Suk Hyun she questions him about the author of the song and he confesses that it’s Shin, at the same time filling her in on the whole situation with his hand, his over-protectiveness and his pride. Kyu Won is furious and as a result goes to find Shin to give her a piece of her mind. She tells him that she had tried hating him all this time but that now she will hate him for real. Ha, we’ll see about that. Finally, it’s out in the open. And not a minute too soon, in fact, some 40 minutes too late, but oh well.
Kyu Won leaves Shin in the practice room and then wanders around campus, retracing the steps of their relationship, the coffee spot, the place where they took shelter from the rain together, the park where they walked hand in hand. After his meeting with Kyu Won, Shin leaves the studio as well, and is retracing their same steps, until they find themselves face to face in the park. Seeing each other in that place really leaves little room for explanations, especially in light of the day’s occurrences, so they just smile and Shin runs to Kyu Won and holds her in his arms, telling her that he missed her. She replies that he missed him as well, and he tells her that he loves her, and then leans in to kiss her. Wow, we’ve waited all series long for this kiss and it really is… well, a lot of what we’d hoped for. I love that she finally puts her hands around him when they kiss, and that there’s movement and not just a simple peck-type static thing. And I also love that their reunion is marked by a declaration and a kiss and not much else, because, really, what else could there have been to say? I’m still a little bummed that last episode’s kiss didn’t happen because the setup for it was perfect, but I’ll take this and be thankful for it.
The final scene finds everyone at Catharsis, where Kyu Won takes the stage with her newfound confidence, followed by Shin. They sing the songs that show what they mean to one another. Aside from the fact that I love ending on a musical note(uuh, pun!)I’ll take this to mean that Shin’s hand is back in working condition and that he has in fact returned to the stage and is playing guitar again, and of course, that they keep being in love, with one another and with music, which is the very best that we could wish for.
Hmmm… what to say? I was going to love this show no matter what, but I just happened to fall in love with it on its own merit. I’m not sure how much time will go by until a new drama that has the ability to reach its viewers on so many levels will come along, but I’m thankful that this one did get made and that we had a chance to watch it because it’s a very special bit of television.
If you think about it, the structure of the storylines has been fairly concentric, with elements that had been set up in the first episode reappearing in the last, while other storylines that appeared mid-show got resolved almost immediately. The time jump closes the circle with the beginning of the show, with Kyu Won returning after succeeding in her career, like Suk Hyun did in the first episode, only to find a wounded/recovering Shin, not unlike Yoon Soo was. Now, if Yoon Soo’s trajectory throughout the show is any indication of the message they were trying to send(as the earlier dialogue with Suk Hyun pointed out), then it’s a lot about getting up even when life knocks you down. And about taking chances and believing that your dreams are worth it, and that more than that, you are worthy of your dreams.
I was going to talk more about how tightly wrapped the storylines were in the end, but in all fairness, even with this ending, I could see this go on for another season or two. In fact, one of my greatest regrets about this drama is that it’s not going to have any more seasons, any more episodes. I would have loved to spend more time with the Dooleys but it’s not just them. It’s all the other characters that I would have liked to get to know or get to know better. You could build a show around Ki Young, or even around Hee Joo and Joon Hee. And thinking about it, maybe the story would have been better served if this had been one of those 50-something episode dramas that gives all of the characters a chance to develop, instead of packing everything into a 16 episode-turned 15 episode typical weekday format. But like I said, I am thankful that I got to experience all the wonderful moments this show had to offer and I look forward to getting my greedy paws on the DVD and hopefully on the loads of goodies and extras that will come with it.
First things first, Lee Jung Hyun, consider yourself blacklisted. Now go stand in the corner and reflect on your actions! Secondly *lips quivers* this was the episode before last and that means there’s not nearly enough Heartstrings left for all the Heartstrings I still want to watch!
The episodes opens mid-centennial performance. We flash back to the meeting between Kyu Won and Hee Joo, where the former had convinced the latter to take the stage. We then get to see what goes through Hee Joo’s mind, memories of all the hard work she’d invested into the performance and her career in general, which is meant to show us it’s an emotional moment for her as well. In the audience, Kyu Won’s dad realizes that she’s the one doing the singing, and points it out to grumpy gramps. Behind the curtain, Kyu Won is giving it her best, mesmerizing everyone in the audience with her singing. Next to her, Shin is proud but also sad that she couldn’t shine on stage like she deserved to. After the performance is over, he goes and congratulates her, saying she was a great leading lady, then pulls her in for a hug. Shin Hye’s acting in this scene is absolutely amazing. There are countless emotions visible on her face from sadness to disappointment to relief and joy, it’s all there, and it really shows the full weight of the gesture Kyu Won made.
After the show, everyone’s partying at Cathrsis. The Scene Stealers join the rest of Heartstrings’ female viewership in fangirling over Ki Young. They commend him for his… dedication to his craft, making Soo Myung jealous and leading him to say Ki Young’s got nothin’ on him. I bet you weren’t so jealous when you were out partying it up and he was putting in long hours at the gym… I mean taking singing lessons, were you, Soo Myung-sshi?
The director rejoices in the fact that he now has two leading ladies whose hair he can muss up and proceeds to do so to the discontentment of both. This attack on the integrity of their hairstyles gives the girls a new chance to bond, that is, until Joon Hee comes by and takes Hee Joo away. Finding Kyu Won by herself, Shin too attempts a hair mussing but that gets her to confuse him with the director. Naturally, this makes him jealous, but hey, this is what happens when you steal another man’s moves.
Suddenly, Hee Joo’s mother shows up with a bunch of reporters, praising her daughter’s performance and hoping to extract some good press out of everything. See, it never occurred to her that she could force someone to sing instead of Hee Joo, but now that it’s happened, why not take advantage of it, right? Except Hee Joo has since grown a conscience and tells the reporters that in fact it was Kyu Won singing and not her. This sends the reporters in Kyu Won’s direction and makes Hee Joo’s mother give her the “you’re no daughter of mine!” look before dashing off. It was about damn time, if you ask me. But that’s okay because unbeknownst to us, Hee Joo has a younger sister who has just been promoted to Joo-bot-in-training because of her older sister’s… forfeiting? Poor girl.
Shin is walking Kyu Won home, with Kyu Won still worrying about what might happen to Hee Joo now that she’s gone against mommy dearest. As they get to her front door, Shin takes the bear accessory off his phone and hands it to Kyu Won. She’s less than pleased, thinking he’s sick of using it, but he grabs her phone and says he now wants to use her accessory instead. Awwww! I love that these little things have a chance to build up, step by step. In most dramas, characters are so busy bickering or angsting over breakups and misunderstandings that couple stuff like this either doesn’t get a chance to happen, or when it does it has to carry tons of weight to make it worth their while. But here, we get to see all the silliness and the hide and seek and the teasing, with each episode bringing a new layer of depth to the relationship.
Hee Joo is in the hospital, waiting for her operation and worrying about its outcome. Joon Hee is there to cheer her up, with her mother tolerating his presence and ending up being amused by his antics. I guess your kid undergoing surgery is enough to make even Model Mom soften up a bit. That, or now that she seems to have given up on Hee Joo as a vehicle for realizing her own ambitions, allowing the girl to be a person is no longer a problem.
The manager that wanted to get Suk Hyun back to Broadway has now returned with a record proposal, a Stupid and Windflowers collaboration, with Kyu Won as the singer.
Elsewhere, Kyu Won is in the Windflowers’ practice room with Bo Woon, and just as Bo Woon is about to leave, Shin walks in. She rapidly excuses herself, saying she has no intention of interrupting and that she was on her way out anyway. Haha, as much as Shin has a Bo Woon interruption phobia, it seems like Bo Woon has a Shin’s reaction to interruptions-phobia as well. Don’t worry Bo Woon-ah, you’re not the Interruption Queen THIS episode. Not by a long shot.
Shin and Kyu Won go on another ice-cream date. Shin playfully smears some cream on Kyu Won’s nose and then laughs at how silly she looks (Now see, if Shin had watched Secret Garden, he would know that he just missed a great opportunity, or rather, he wouldn’t have missed it in the first place). As revenge, she takes some cream as well, wanting to smear him, but he dodges and the cream lands on his shirt. She apologizes, he demands that she buy him a new shirt and she agrees. No, no, no, NO! You don’t offer to BUY him a new shirt, you offer to WASH it. You know, at home? Obviously, Kyu Won never watched City Hunter(or any other drama for that matter). Pfft. Okay, fine, I’ll let the missed opportunities slide this time because I actually love the clothes buying that follows, it’s such a couple-y thing to do. They also don’t get to shop for very long because they get a phone call requesting them to return to school. Come to think of it, if my above-hinted-at scenarios would have come to pass, this phone call would have probably interrupted those too, so whatever.
They find out the reason for the emergency meeting when the director shows up introducing them to the manager. Everyone’s happy about the offer, except for Kyu Won who is seeing this as yet another thing grandpa will oppose. They start practicing for their studio test, just as grandpa is wondering what is taking Kyu Won so long to get home to her gayageum practice. He calls her and she semi-dodges his inquiries so they can keep practicing, but grandpa wises up to her cover attempt and shows up to drag her back to the world of gugak.
In the meanwhile, Suk Hyun has other plans that involve Yoon Soo and require some help from Ki Young and Soo Myung. Suk Hyun goes ring shopping as the guys, with the help of Suk Hyun’s credit card, are supposed to set up the “stage” for the big proposal. He probably should have sprung for a new set of wheels for Soo Myung because his car breaks down before they reach Yoon Soo’s place. Suk Hyun’s call reaches the two bromantics just as they are in the middle of bickering over who gets to (not) push the car.
Obviously, this means the mission is aborted, but this leaves Suk Hyun in a bind since he had promised Yoon Soo he would take care of everything that evening. She’s a little confused when he says the plans he’d hinted at are canceled, but offers dinner in the form of some ramen. Disappointed that his plan fell through, he sits down and looks at the ring, thinking better luck next time. But next time happens to be now because he forgets the ring on the chair and Yoon Soo finds it.
I love that it turned out like this because it’s so in tune with Suk Hyun’s character. He’s a brilliant director and artist, but aside from that he’s just such a childish goof. So as to not let things be completely ruined, he decides to sing Yoon Soo a song to go with his proposal. The answer is YES! I will marry you, Suk Hyun! Yoon Soo agrees to it too I guess. After finishing his song and popping the question, Suk Hyun goes in for the kiss. And that, my friends, is how it’s done. It’s not a kiss that will go down in television history, but it’s tender, intimate, sweet and fitting the moment. What more could one ask for? Oh yes, that it happen between the main couple of the show?
Shin receives a call saying that the studio test has had a change of date and calls Kyu Won to let her know. Grandpa answers the phone and tells him to stop bothering her. Fortunately, Shin is a smart cookie, so he calls his mom to get in touch with Kyu Won’s dad. Shin and the dad meet up and Shin tells him all about the opportunity and the way grandpa is blocking it and asks for his help, which dad promises to give. However, when the dad gets home, he gets into an argument with grandpa, forcing Kyu Won to once again choose the solution that brings peace to the household, i.e. do what grandpa says. The next day she tells the gang that she’s out of the record test.
After Hee Joo’s surgery, the Scene Stealers along with Ki Young and Soo Myung visit her in the hospital. Joon Hee is there, tending to her every need, to the visitors’ comedic shock. They ask Joon Hee how come he’s doing it and he answers he’s used to taking care of his mother(who had been sick) this way. Bah, never mind that I (still) don’t like Hee Joo. He’s cute enough for the both of them.
The Scene Stealers’ leader whines about being boyfriendless and pathetic, so Soo Myung asks her to go to a show with him. She wonders if he really means it, just in time for the other two to invite themselves to the show as well. He tries to say there are only two tickets, but buying their own doesn’t seem to inconvenience them. Wow, and we thought Kyu Won and Bo Woon were a package deal. Poor Soo Myung, just you try getting some action with ALL of the Scene Stealers hovering over you. I don’t care how lonely it gets, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone(especially with the show ending and thus not getting to witness the hilarity).
Kyu Won is getting ready for her Gayageum competition, all prettied up in her hanbok, but her mind wanders to the enjoyment of being in the musical. Grandpa is watching her like a hawk but she excuses herself to go to the bathroom, and on her way there, she runs into Shin who has come to take her to the test. At first she doesn’t know how to react, but decides to go with him and calls her dad and grandpa to apologize. On their way out, she trips on her hanbok and falls down, along with Shin who had tried to help her. Shin lands pretty badly on his hand, injuring it. NOOO! Not Shin’s hand. God, the producers are evil. They know how to throw the punch in the exact spot where it would hurt the most. He brushes it off as nothing and says he is okay when Kyu Won asks, but he is obviously in a lot of pain. They get to the studio and as they start playing, everyone notices that something’s wrong with the way Shin is performing. Aaaah, this kills me. I know it’s the episode before-last conflict that is meant to create the final episode conflict and also to hopefully get resolved, but still, this is the one thing that could have shaken Shin to his foundation, threatening the very thing he identifies himself with. I hate that he has to go through this kind of pain. Gaaaah!
After the test the gang goes out to celebrate but Kyu Won says she’d rather change out of the hanbok before making further public appearances. She asks Shin if he’s sure he’s alright, especially since his hand looks swollen and he repeats that he is, except, he’s not. I’m not sure if it’s macho “I’m invulnerable” pride or him not wanting her to think it’s her fault(although she didn’t exactly take a baseball bat to his wrist), but it’s really annoying that he’s playing the “I’m okay” card. Then again, so has she, all episode(s) long, so I guess maybe it’s a couple thing?
Kyu Won gets home to find out that she doesn’t live there anymore. The punishment for skipping the competition and betraying the gayageum is, it seems, exclusion from the sanctuary. Kyu Won finds herself needing a place to stay, and her dad figures that no place is better than the home of his ol’ chum, Shin’s mom. Ooooh, I like where this is going. I like it lots! Shin’s mom welcomes her to her home but then excuses herself because of some engagements and leaves Kyu Won home alone. You know how I said I liked the situation? I’m actually loving it!
Shin comes home (after making a stop at a drug store to get a patch for the pain in his wrist, the same wrist that was, like, totally fine earlier) to find Kyu Won there. She greets him, all “honey, you’re home” – like and I’m so loving the domestic look of the scene.
Much like the shirt buying scene earlier, this is totally belonging to a new stage in the couple’s development, even if it is just coincidental, not unlike the shirt buying was. She sees the patch on his hand but he decides to say the elephant in the room is in fact not there and once again claims to be a-ok. She reluctantly lets it go and they proceed to cook, eat and bicker about ramen. Awh, I love me a good ramen eating scene. Scratch that, a good food-sharing scene. Unknowingly, I’ve been wanting for these two to have ramen together all show long. And no, ramen is not another word for kiss.
After the ramen, they both go to Shin’s room, and I rub my hands together in anticipation like a cartoon bear in front of a big jar of honey. She looks around his room and comments that it’s nice. Yes, it’s nice, now stop fussing around and just kiss already! He shows her his father’s record and she puts it next to his face saying they look alike. Yes, they do, now stop fussing around and just kiss already! He plays his father’s record for her and it’s a very touching moment for them both. He talks about how special the record is to him, how he had wanted to listen to it with her, his music and that of his dad. Then he gives her the record, and asks her to give it back to him when he will one day become a great guitarist. Forget rings and necklaces and all the other stuff usually given as promises of faith or whatever. This is better than anything. Because with this gesture it’s like he is giving her a huge part of who he is, as well as his hopes and dreams for the future and saying that he still wants her to be next to him when they get to the other side of what their dreams are now. And that just… *lip quivers*… just… OOOH! He’s going for the kiss! The atmosphere is perfect. They’ve had kisses before(ish), be it on the lips or the cheek or the forehead, but this, well, they are IN the moment. There’s palpable tension there. BUT it doesn’t happen because Shin’s sister walks in and ruins it. And that, in case you were wondering, Lee Jung Hyun, is why you were blacklisted.
Kyu Won runs off and Shin goes after her. They get to a park and sit down on a bench. Hey, maybe all is not lost after all, I mean, the night sky, a romantic setting… but no, unfortunately the moment is ruined. The do get to talk a little bit about Kyu Won and her plans for the future, gayageum vs. musicals, and she admits that she wants to give musicals a try now. Well, at least that’s a small consolation. The voyeur in me isn’t pleased by the lack of kissage, but I am glad Kyu Won finally admitted to herself that she does in fact wants to be in musicals.
The next day, the manager comes in with the verdict on the test. They decided to pass on the group, but they want Kyu Won to sign with them because they love her voice. Everyone is surprised by the decision, but they all end up being happy for Kyu Won. Shin and Kyu Won discuss how this might impact their future, seeing as it would mean her becoming very busy and traveling abroad, but he is totally supportive of her plans, which, let’s face it, is expected but rather swoon-worthy none the less, especially since she just got something he has been wanting as well.
All that’s left is convincing gramps that leaving the gayageum does not mean she is betraying him. Unexpectedly, all he asks is that she doesn’t do anything that would shame her grandfather and allows her to come home.
Kyu Won shares the good news with Suk Hyun and Yoon Soo and they all make happy plans of future collaborations that will include Shin. They decide to go see Shin perform at Catharsis, just as Shin asks Joon Hee to perform without him that day. When he sees Kyu Won enter however, he changes his mind and gets on stage.
The band begins performing, but Shin has to stop because of intense pain in his wrist.
AAAAH! I hate what they are doing to Shin! Hate, hate, hate it! And I hate what this is doing to Kyu Won’s chances for the future. The situation is impossible, whichever way you look at it. If she is to stay true to everything that she’s been built up to be throughout the show, she isn’t going to take the offer to go after all, even if Shin does break up with her to get her to do it. In ways, I want that to be the case because I don’t want Shin to suffer through this alone, especially since he’s been so supportive to her all this time. In other ways, I don’t want Kyu Won to keep up this self-sacrificing streak because, well, she deserves to do what she wants and be happy instead of continually trying to accommodate other people’s wishes or needs. Having her wings cut off now that she’s just gotten them is too cruel. So maybe she’ll stay behind with Shin, star in the 101 Anniversary performance, get an offer again and THEN go and realize her dreams? Maybe? I hate you, PD-nim. Almost as much as I hate Shin’s sister. But more than anything, I hate that tomorrow is the last episode of the show.
This is what happens when you try to get the perfect screenshot and end up getting several(more or less perfect ones). Actually, it’s more along the lines of still trying to get used to this whole screenshotting business and getting a little too trigger happy in the process. Add that to the fact that the cast of YFFM are all such beautiful looking people, especially the Dooleys and I end up screenshotting even when I don’t have to. But at least my overzealousness shouldn’t be in vain, and I also think it’s a shame that the shots remain hidden away in a folder on my computer, so I figure I might as well post them in a gallery type thingy for everyone’s enjoyment.