Tag Archives: Birdie Buddy

Birdie Buddy Episodes 5 and 6 Recap

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.


Birdie Buddy Episodes 3 and 4 Recap

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.

Will You Be My (Birdie) Buddy?

First off the bat(club?), I have to say that most of what I know about golf could be reduced to the knowledge that Tiger Woods used to be it and now he’s not, 3-Iron and checkered pants. Secondly, I am not a sports TV show person, never really have been, save for perhaps watching some sports anime back when I was a kid(and Hana Kimi, does Hana Kimi count?) Also, Uee? Was not my cuppa tea, especially not the idea of her playing cutesy and in need of rescuing, which is, let’s face it, a must do for KDrama heroines, at least at some point. She’s not really the cute type of person – mainly why her Yoo He Yi worked so well, because it played exactly on that whole contradiction. That being said, I never considered her a bad actress, on the contrary, I always thought she showcased above average acting skills, especially considering Yoo He Yi was, as far as I know, her first part and the fact that she’s not primarily an actress. Either way, Birdie Buddy popped on my radar several times, but popped right out of sight again for the above mentioned reasons(and because it kept being dropped by TV stations). And then, one time, I caught a mention of an extended trailer having been released, and since I was going through a severe bout of YFFM withdrawal, I figured I’d check it out.

It was by no means a bad trailer, but what I remembered from it was that it had to do with golf, parental issues and a really hot guy(now that I think about it, that’s a pretty accurate description of what my opinion is two episodes into the show, just maybe with an extra really in front of the really hot guy). So today, once again going through YFFM withdrawal, I surf the web in search of a quick fix. I even break my promise of not watching Protect the Boss before YFFM ends, but I stop halfway through the first episode because it isn’t what I need. It’s a tad too crazy, tongue in cheek and cynical to fit the bill. Then I remember Birdie Buddy. A story about young people trying to achieve their dreams despite whatever difficulties life throws at them? So what if it’s about sports and not about music, right? Right, except what I’m jonesing for is light and atmospheric and dreamy and charming, with a soundtrack to die for. So basically I went in with my expectations on low, in a hoping against hope kind of mind frame.

But there I am, two minutes into the drama, grinning like an idiot, moisture levels in my eyes at unusual quotas, remembering little girl me watching gymnastics on TV and wishing that one day I’d be like those girls, then jumping on beds, climbing furniture and doing a bunch of other acrobatics that should come with a “do not try this at home” warning. Needless to say, receiving a punch in that particular soft spot was not what I expected. As the two episodes continued, the drama kept both adding to and subtracting from that initial feeling, but never reaching a level where I would want to stop watching or where I would stop caring about the characters involved, quite the opposite in fact.

The drama opens with Mi Soo (later to be played by Uee) watching a golf tournament being won by a Korean golf champion whose name I can’t recall(yes, I know it’s lousy of me). The champion in question has to take a nigh impossible shot, but manages to pull it off regardless, to Mi Soo’s delight. Inspired by the victory and the way in which it was achieved, little Mi Soo wants to start playing golf but her family can’t afford the rather steep tuition fees. One day though, while doing some chores, she finds her mother’s old golf club in the garage(her mother used to be a caddy). The club glimmers in the sunlight, calling to her, all Excalibur-like and she pulls it out from under the pile of garage junk as if King Arthuring it from the stone. I really like the way they chose to present the whole “meant to be” thing because it’s both hilarious and belonging to that age, when every day you stumble upon a treasure of some sort and feel like a conquering hero, even if your treasure is something your parents had discarded in the back of the garage.

Mi Soo’s family’s financial situation is not great. Not because her parents are hopelessly incompetent or have a gambling problem but because they are just regular people with limited financial means who work hard to support their kids but who never get close to luxury or to affording a series of things. It’s an element I greatly appreciate and that I am extremely grateful for, because if there is something I have developed rather strong allergies for when it comes to KDramas it’s the whole incompetent/on the run from loan sharks parents and the heroine trying to fish them out of trouble while also fending for herself. Anyway, because of the tight financial situation, Mi Soo and her young friends think of a way for her to get the money for the golf lessons – picking up mushrooms in the forest and selling them. This requires a night-time operation, and off they go, except two thirds of the trio get scared and run off, leaving Mi Soo to take care of business by herself. She finds the mushrooms and proceeds to pick them up, but slips and rolls down a hillside and over the edge of a rather steep slope, where she stops because the golf club she has taken to carrying everywhere gets caught in some roots. She hangs on tight as her parents look for her, but it’s only in the morning that they finally find her and pull her to safety. As they carry her home, her mother notices the blisters on her hands from having held on to the club handle, and Mi Soo confesses that as she was hanging there, in danger of losing her life, she thought “If I hang on to this(the club), I can live.” Again, a rather cool metaphor for what golf is to become to her(or has already become) – a lifeline. The kid does not lack a sense of timing because she also asks her parents to pay for her golf classes. Her parents agree, but, I mean, who could refuse the daughter they’ve just pulled out of the claws of death, right? Thus begins Mi Soo’s golf career and more or less concludes the childhood part of the episode. I’d have to say this segment was my favorite out of the first episode, because it was rather sweet and genuine. My only qualm, and it’s a minor one, is Yoon Yoo-Seon’s slight overacting, but I’ll take that as her trying to play youthful mom to an 8 year old as opposed to later playing mother to a 20-year old. Besides, after her short yet memorable stint as “Angelina Jolie” in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, I’d forgive her anything. Once you smooch a statue’s butt, you pretty much become a Hall of Famer.

Uee’s first appearance as Mi Soo is a tad jarring, because within seconds, she pulls some Yoo He Yi face(in a moment when it wasn’t warranted, or rather when she was required to seem cute interacting with a nice ahjussi), but after the initial shock, it’s pretty much smooth sailing, with just a few minor bumps on the road. The aforementioned ahjussi is her best friend(Yoo In Na)’s dad, who is a security guard at a golf course and who had been letting her practice there in the mornings for the past 12 years. We get to meet the rest of the family, including Mi Soo’s brother, who then happens to meet a mysterious stranger who’s hairdo puts most manes of glory to shame and whom we shall henceforth refer to as Hot Rasta Guy(until a new nickname comes up or he gets rid of the Rasta, in which case Hot Guy will do just as well *ahem*). The stranger is looking for a particular place unfindable by use of a map, so the brother offers assistance. Later that evening, the two go out for drinks, except Hot Rasta Guy only drinks water, something the brother finds weird and proceeds to spike his drink with some soju. True to the saying “if you leave your glass unattended, you will wake up in a stranger’s bed” (okay, I know that’s not a saying, but it… should…be?), HRG wakes up in Mi Soo’s brother’s bed. Since two sips of soju seem to be way beyond his power of assimilation, he is still pretty drunk when he goes out to take a leak, so the sly devil mistakes Mi Soo’s room for her brother’s and crawls into bed with her. Not necessarily the most inspired course of action, since Mi Soo’s idea of a teddy bear is her golf club. And while there are worse things that could happen than waking up next to a guy with that level of hotness, she is less than pleased (dude, it’s the hair), so she proceeds to kick him out and chase after him with her trusty number 8. Luckily, he has great reflexes, so he secures a washbasin and uses it as a shield from Excalibur’s vengeful attacks. Eventually, the brother wakes up and clears the misunderstanding. Everyone’s fine and they all return to sleep, more or less ruffled.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the other female golfer(Lee Da Hee), who has been groomed to be a golfer from a young age by her golf-resort-owning mother. The mother is a pretty standard KDrama ambitious mother type, so naturally, the kid is rather messed up and chock full of mommy issues, but she is also a golfing champion and seems to enjoy playing the sport, so least there is that. She is the reason why HRG aka John Lee(no connection to City Hunter) is here, since she posed being trained and caddied by him as a condition for her return. Hey, I’ve seen people pose worse conditions. There’s obviously some kind of history between these two, but it’s of yet uncertain if the interest is mutual or one sided. Either way, apparently HRG doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do or stay anywhere he doesn’t want to stay, he’s a free spirit in that way, so the fact that he’s here now obviously shows some kind of interest in the person or situation in question.

Except his interest is about to be swerved by none other than Mi Soo, when he wakes up in the morning and sees her practicing. I’m not sure if it’s because of her golfing skills or because of the shorts she’s wearing, the cheeky half-smile on his face is a bit ambiguous, but either way he approaches for a closer look. He tells her she needs to straighten her back and places his hands on her to adjust her position. Naturally, this does not go down quite as well as it was intended and he gets chased away once again.

But it does not end here, because the trailer he’s taken residence in is placed on the exact spot where Mi Soo sends all the balls when practicing, unknowingly waking him up the next day and then getting him to put those great reflexes to use in order to dodge the golf balls/projectiles. He realizes who the culprit is when she comes by to pick up her balls, but by then Hae Ryung(Lee Da Hee) had already come by, so it all ends with a face off between the two. Both show impressive skills, but Hae Ryung points out it’s not just about strength, it’s also about precision, a valid point, but that doesn’t mean HRG is less impressed later when he goes to check out the scene and realizes the ball Mi Soo had sent had become embedded into the wall. ‘Cause I guess strength is cool too, when you’re that strong.

All well and good, but it turns out that Mi Soo isn’t the only one in her family with a dream. Her brother also dreams of becoming a musician, but since most of the family’s financial focus had been on Mi Soo’s golfing(to the point of getting her parents into some pretty heavy debt – oh please don’t let this mean they’ll be on the run from loan sharks later on), he was never given much of a chance to work for it. He doesn’t even have an instrument, which is why he took a job playing at a night club in hopes of raising money to buy one. One night, though, he runs into his father as he is still wearing the night club clothes, and not wanting to be punished, he dashes off on his scooter and gets into an accident. It’s not serious, but it puts the family in a position where they have to compensate the victim for getting his teeth broken and also pay a fine to get the brother out of jail. The only problem is, there is no money for compensation or fine paying since it’s all been spent on Mi Soo’s golfing. This pretty much gives the father the push he needed to ask Mi Soo to stop her expensive pursuit of the sport, telling her that it’s taking too big a toll on the family and especially her mother who had been exhausting herself in an attempt to support her. Mi Soo can’t really argue with the points her father is making, so the next day she goes and sells off her golf clubs so she can pay for her brother’s release from jail. Coincidentally, just as she is begging the shop owner to buy the clubs from her at a decent price, John Lee walks in and overhears the whole thing. Understanding what golf means to her and not wanting to let her give up, he challenges her to a match with Hae Ryung as payment for bombarding his mobile home and breaking a window.

So far, the show has been a tad uneven, with some inspiring/warm’n fuzzying moments and a few misses here and there, but I feel that so far the good outweighs the bad. Because I started off saying I checked it out in an attempt to find something YFFM had made me miss, I would say it isn’t really so much like YFFM but more like Dream High, in terms of mood and characters and straightforward dream chasing-ness. What I appreciated was that it has a nice dose of realism to it, especially Mi Soo’s family – Hae Ryung’s is rather typical chaebol, with the overachieving coldhearted mother who uses the daughter to reach her goals, and the blasé yet competent daughter. But as I was saying, I found Mi Soo’s family rather realistic, with the little problems between the parents, and the issues between siblings – one is supported in the other’s detriment, which might be a great source of future conflict. Most of all, I like the situation, being in danger of giving up on a dream not because of some interfering force or some malefic elements plotting to throw obstacles in the hero’s path, but because of something as banal and commonplace as the financial situation of a family doing their best and still not managing to make ends meet – something quite common in the real world and I’ve seen enough examples of it to know. I mean sure, there’ll be your textbook villains and your conspiracies, I’m pretty sure Hae Ryung’s mother will take care of that, but initially, the problem is holding on to a dream even though everything in your life is telling you it’s not suitable to.

Uee’s portrayal of Mi Soo feels a little scattered, as if she hasn’t fully embraced the character yet, but I do think it’s not so huge an issue so as to not work itself out as the show progresses. I like the character, she seems determined, fiery and no-nonsense enough to suit Uee, like I said, I think I would have stopped watching if I had to witness a forced cutesy fest, and I like the chemistry between Uee and Lee Yong Woo. It’s all been bantery antagonism so far, him nonchalantly provoking her and then being amused that she gets pissed off. I’m not sure how much acting prowess is required to be able to do that, but they are both acquitting themselves of the task rather well because the scenes they are in are the best in the show and really worth watching.

Lee Da Hee as Hae Ryung is rather bland so far. I guess partly it’s because she’s supposed to be reserved, cool/cold and a little tortured, but still, most of what I could get was bland. Her chemistry with Lee Yong Woo is nowhere near the level it reaches between him and Uee, which is unfortunate since the characters in question are supposed to have a shared history of some sort. But seeing as the show is still very young, there’s plenty of time for things to get better, especially since they are in no way abysmal to begin with.

And last, but by golly, not least, Lee Yong Woo. The man is scorching hot. Not only is he pretty to look at, but the camera obviously loves him because the sex appeal he exudes in bucket-fulls crosses right over to the viewer. I didn’t have much faith in the guy before watching this, considering that he is a dancer turned actor(or so I heard), and I had read somewhere that he has been known to produce some dire performances, but to be honest, from what I’ve seen so far, he’s nowhere near bad and I’d probably still watch the show even if it went all the way to Suckville just to catch a few more glimpses of that smirk. Okay, so I’d probably fast forward a LOT if that were to happen, but still, the intention is there.

The first two episodes rely heavily on chance encounters and happen-to-be-theres, but that’s generally the case with a lot of first episodes so I’m hoping it won’t be a show-long trend. Basically, I’ma keep watching and perhaps even recapping because far as I could see, it’s a show that has a lot of heart and good intentions(aside from the attractive cast), so I’m hoping for a pleasant surprise.

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