Two men: Yoo Dong-joon (Lee Hyun-woo) and Lee Kyung-min (Kim Rae-won).
One’s an asset, the other a liability.
One’s a gentleman, the other an overgrown kid.
One’s chivalrous, the other cowardly.
One rallies around her when she’s in trouble, the other runs away.
One feeds her, the other wants to be fed!
One’s an initiator, the other a reactor.
One’s selfless, the other self-centered.
One gives her hope, the other takes it away.
One tries to heal her heart, the other keeps breaking it.
Two very opposite characters. And Nam Jung-eun (Jung Da-bin) loves the one who’s the obvious cad, the one she has described as “garbage,” “scum,” “parasite,” and “worthless.” No wonder Dong-joon says to her, “When you love someone with all your heart, you become a fool…”
Ah, Attic Cat. How the drama polarized us, making us pen reams in defense of either the gentleman or the cad. (No sitting on the fence admiring the scenery on both sides. Choose!) And how it entertained us. I was so in love with Attic Cat when I first watched it in 2004.
It wasn’t just that the drama had a bold and refreshing premise, of a young unmarried couple (who weren’t really a couple) cohabiting. It wasn’t just that Kim Rae-won really nailed his role and made me, a cad-averse viewer, fall under his spell. It was also because of his amazing chemistry with Jung Da-bin, our sweet and patient Jung-eun (okay, she did hit him more than a fair bit, but that lovable cad totally deserved it!). I adored their domestic scenes – cooking, eating, peeling garlic, doing the laundry. And of course the bickering (like two puppies, really), the conversations behind the wooden screen door separating Jung-eun’s bedroom from the living room…
It was all that and so much more. A wonderful supporting cast. A lovely sound track. A charming and funny plot that was also heartwarming and uplifting. I laughed, I cried, I missed it like crazy when it was over.
And now to revisit Jung-eun’s choice. Why did she choose Kyung-min? Some of my friends think she made a mistake, a very bad mistake. I disagree. It’s all really simple, you know. Allow me to present to you thus:
The Case for Lee Kyung-min
Beneath Kyung-min’s cocky and rather mischevious veneer is someone lonely, needy and insecure. He has a huge emotional baggage from being orphaned as a baby. He carries a torch for a mother he can’t remember, a mother despised by his grandparents. Knowing his “secret,” Jung-eun feels especially protective of him and even subconsciously maternal towards him.
In addition, I think she sees potential in him, the same way Dong-joon sees potential beneath Jung-eun’s surface plainness and ordinariness. Jung-eun chooses to see what Kyung-min can become if he mends his aimless and immature ways.
Granted Kyung-min can be so thoughtless with Jung-eun and so infuriatingly spineless with Hye-ryun (Choi Jung-yoon). But he can also be so sweet! I find his impulsiveness quite appealing, honestly; he’s so transparent and predictable. Although he’s confused about his feelings for Jung-eun, everyone else can see that he really likes her. He just can’t pretend! He gets insanely jealous whenever Jung-eun is with Dong-joon, and he keeps making a fool of himself in front of them.
Is Kyung-min exasperating? Yes. Endearing? Oh, yes! In the end, how do you say no to a guy like him?