When you curse the papers you have to write which are preventing you from watching a certain drama, when you open your external hard drive to retrieve those half-written papers and you ‘accidentally’ click on the wrong folder and find yourself staring at video files (of that drama) instead, you know there’s only one thing to do:
Hurry up and finish those damned papers!
Which was what I did, at a maniacal pace, the OST of that drama playing on my iPod and reminding me every second of the reward that awaited. As I worked, I would occasionally hear a small voice above the strains of “I will promise you…” The voice said weakly (because it knew how I felt about unsolicited advice), “Just because the first four episodes were good is no guarantee the next two will be, so don’t raise your hopes.”
Oh, shush, I said.
As it turned out, the voice was wrong so it slunk back into that recess called Tempering Kdrama Expectations. I didn’t notice it leaving; I was too busy squealing at Jang Geun-suk.
No, it wasn’t because he had discovered his smile muscles. On the contrary, that smile when it first appeared was more creepy than charming. It definitely wasn’t because of that new (unflattering) pompadour hairstyle specially designed for A.N.JELL’s new album.
No, I squealed because he was not only sweet and silly in Episodes 5-6, he was so heroic!
When Mi-nam’s a mess because she finds out her mom has passed on, he thoughtfully orders her to skip press interviews so that she can seek out the aunt and learn the details of her mom’s death herself, rather than processing that all-important information through the manager. “Yes, Hyungnim,” replies our distraught girl.
Disguised as a long-haired girl, she is about to slip out of the dressing room when he sees the pesky reporter hanging around. His long legs and steady hands immediately swing into action, thus saving Mi-nam from the reporter and demonstrating at the same time that he can run better than he can dive.
When Mi-nam is in a fix because her newly-minted aunt wants to stay a few days at the AN.JELL house and that means Mi-nam will have to vacate her room for the aunt and move in with President Ahn or one of the guys, he selflessly (albeit under extreme duress) agrees that she can share his room.
Of course he did not bargain for her (Mi-nam, not the aunt) accidentally tasering herself and falling asleep on top of him, not that he was aware of the fact since he slept like a two-day-old cherub. He didn’t bargain, too, for having his bum squeezed (affectionately, not salaciously) by the aunt, not that it matters since no bums were harmed in the squeezing.
When Mi-nam’s hair clip breaks and she is sad, he buys a new one for her, paying an astronomical 100,000 won for something that costs many, many times less. (Don’t ask me how much less since Math and I don’t get along.) When she begs to be allowed to stay in A.N.JELL so that she can prove her worth and sing his song, he relents (this time under no duress whatsoever).
When Mi-nam leaves to meet the Mother Superior and he panics at first, thinking she is leaving Seoul for good, and then realizes she has no luggage with her and is only going as far as the Myeongdong chapel, he breathes a HUGE sigh of relief, brings her to the chapel, and even offers to wait for her a whole two hours. Wow!
But wait, there’s more.
When Yoo He-yi, supposedly the nation’s darling star, is felled by a basketball and then surrounded by the players, their cameras going berserk at the sight of her, shoeless and bleeding, he swoops down from his hero’s pedestal and scoops her away, even sheltering her with his jacket. (Okay, so he’s the one who flung her shoes into the river in the first place, but should you begrudge his gallantry just because of old scores? Of course not.)
Do you realize now why I was squealing like a pig about to be smoked? I couldn’t get enough of Hwang Tae-kyung!
Sweet is one thing and heroic takes the cake, but did you see how adorably silly and insecure he was? He can’t stand the thought of Mi-nam seeing old clips of his debut, so he chases Jeremy in a circle for the remote control, forgetting he can always use his hands to turn the thing off. He gets jealous when he sees Jeremy and Shin-woo all cozy with Mi-nam. He gets especially touchy when she tells him that she can’t possibly move in with the other two since they are guys.
WHAT? But it is okay to move into his room? Meaning… he isn’t a guy to her? He with his makeup and double earrings and low-cut tops not man enough? WAHHHH!
Oh, don’t cry, Tae-kyung. You need to preserve your voice because some people (who obviously dwelt in caves all their lives) had no idea you possessed such pristine pipes. But now that they have been enlightened, they can’t stop listening to the soundtrack of this drama, their ears perking up when it’s your turn to sing.
Don’t cry, too, because it was heartrending to see how shabbily your mom treated you when you were a kiddo, your eyelashes miles longer than they are now. (What happened? A recessive gene somewhere?)
You had an allergy to shrimp that gave you coughing fits, but that callous mom merely thought you were a picky eater, how sad. And now she wants you to collaborate with her on a song remake? Just because she’s beautiful and famous (and I loved this actress in The Count of Myeongdong, a fabulous docu-drama with fabulous English subs) she thinks she can discard and repossess you at will. Don’t pine for her anymore, be strong!
A hero with a wounded heart and a seafood allergy.
Was it any wonder then that I was so drawn to Hwang Tae-kyung, and to Jang Geun-suk’s portrayal of him? I was even more impressed after I tried to emulate his sneer and found it impossible, not even when I used both hands to force my stubborn muscles into place. Don’t believe me? Try sneering like Tae-kyung now. Yes, stop reading and try it now. See what I mean?
Not just sneer, the guy is no shabby kisser, too. See how he gathers the startled (and so very delighted) Yoo He-yi in his arms and plants that fake kiss on her before she can rat to the reporters about Mi-nam’s identity? As the assembled paparazzi drool, he kisses and kisses, until the PD yells, “ENOUGH!”
Ah, Yoo He-yi.
I disliked her pouty petulant self in Episode 4, thought her mere filler material (that’s what happens when you’re a spoilerphobe and religiously avoid reading about the drama), and left her out in my Episodes 1-4 prattle. But guess what, she’s the second reason why Episodes 5-6 were so enjoyable.
(No, he’s not proposing to her in this screencap, merely breaking her mobile phone’s fall with his swift hands and patented sneer.)
Put equally high-strung He-yi and Tae-kyung together and watch them lunge at each other, like two frisky puppies. Unlike the smitten people around her, he sees himself as more than her equal. “We’re both top stars,” he says.
So what if she makes everyone (Manager Ma especially) go weak in the knees? So what if her legs are so long they reach her chin? As far as he’s concerned, she’s not worth a second glance. In fact, the more she seeks his attention, the more he ignores her. That riles her like crazy, of course, so every time they cross paths the acerbic remarks (and shoes) fly. Awesome!
Also, with Tae-kyung so protective of Mi-nam (although he hasn’t connected the dots from his head to his heart yet), with He-yi now privy to Mi-nam’s secret (no thanks to the coordinator), and with her perceptions of him completely altered after his heroic rescue at the park, there’s no telling what chicanery she’s capable of next. Oh, the delicious possibilities!
The third reason why I was a happy camper these two episodes? Shin-woo, Shin-woo, Shin-woo.
Never mind that he sulks when he sees how close Mi-nam and Tae-kyung are to each other. (Should he whoop with joy? The guy’s only human.) Does he wallow in his jealousy and spend the entire time like a wet mop, all morose? No.
Instead he and Jeremy put on a celebration party for Mi-nam’s debut (that’s the pretext, but the real reason is to cheer her up after the news of her mom). Presented with the chance to have her share his room, he graciously asks her to take Tae-kyung’s room instead, even though the thought of the two spending the night together must be unbearable.
Ah, dear selfless Shin-woo. How I squealed (and I’m miserly with my squeals; they need to be EARNED) at how utterly sweet he was and how very dashing he looked!
(Aww, will you just look at him, glasses and grin and jaunty gait and oh-so-tight pants in that spiffy package? Why didn’t I bump into the likes of him when I was strolling down those same streets three years ago?)
The guy’s not out to stop traffic, he’s minding matters of the heart. Specifically, he wants Mi-nam to know he’s aware she’s a girl and, more importantly, that he has fallen for her.
After the failed first attempt at the restaurant (when he wanted to give her the oh-so-feminine high heels that he had bought for her, but she got distracted by an ill Tae-kyung and left before Shin-woo could do or say anything), he’s so sure he will succeed this time. After all, Mi-nam’s all dressed as a girl for her meeting with the Mother Superior. Time for him to seize the day and show up right in front of her. Ta da!
But not before he tails her as she explores the heart of Myeongdong, paying for her food without her knowledge (the sweetheart!), his face all flushed with anticipation at THE MOMENT.
Alas, when the heart-stopping moment (seriously, how can your heart not stop when you see the image below?) finally arrives and he’s ready to announce his presence to her, who should call but The One. Yes, that same one who had promised to wait for her the two hours and who then got called away by He-yi.
So Mi-nam dashes off to meet Tae-kyung and Shin-woo is left ruing yet another failed opportunity. But that’s okay, because it’s only Episode 6 and I don’t really want her to know how he feels yet. It’ll make things awkward and I want to savor their sweet and comfy relationship for as long as possible. Moreover, right now one person is occupying her mind and he isn’t darling Shin-woo.
(Heart, be still!)
No, it’s Mr. Chronic Toothache who’s in Mi-nam’s thoughts.
Four episodes of continuous scowling and sneering will eventually wear one out, won’t it? Add one afternoon with your estranged mom where you are reminded afresh why she will not win Mother of the Year because she forgets (or has never known) your shrimp allergy.
So Tae-kyung runs to the restroom, coughing and choking. Not only is he feeling awful physically, he is hurting from all the emotional wounds festering inside. As he bends over in pain, lo and behold who should come in but Mi-nam. She sees him in that state and immediately asks if he’s having an allergic reaction.
To move about without attracting attention, she passes him a pair of white frames. Voila! That simple disguise instantly transforms him into someone unrecognizable (see first image in this prattle). The two then proceed to lose their way, circumnavigating the same ice-cream café repeatedly, he insisting all the while that he knows the way back.
But even though the guy has no sense of direction and can’t tell one landmark from another, he isn’t obtuse. To reward her for being patient (and for sundry other things), he decides to unfreeze his least-used muscles.
Houston, he smiles!
If birds stopped mid-flight and I fell off my chair, can you imagine the effect on Mi-nam who is but a few feet away?
As she stares at him, her eyes about to exit their sockets, her heart is pounding. What is going on? What is this unfamiliar feeling? Ah, it must be because of all that walking when they were lost. Yes, that’s it.
Moreover, so much had happened in such a short time. Her debut performance. Learning about her mom. Preparing to leave A.N.JELL in order to fulfill her promise to Tae-kyung. Yes, it must be because of all these things that her heart is racing. Later, when the pounding persists, she will blame it on the lingering effects of the taser. I need to drink more water, she says. That should make the tingle go away. But then why is she experiencing it only around Tae-kyung?
I must confess that Mi-nam didn’t leave much of an impression these two episodes.
Unlike in Episodes 1-4 where most of the goings-on involved her, she is overshadowed here by the two squeal-droolsome guys and by He-yi. Her character is meek and compliant, especially around Tae-kyung. In order not to ruffle his feathers and to fit in with the guys, she’s lost some of that individuality which was so endearing in the early episodes. She’s less klutzy, she’s spacing out less, she’s gotten less interesting.
I hope that as she grapples with her new feelings for Tae-kyung (she thinks he and He-yi are dating), she will stand up for herself more and stop tiptoeing around him and the rest. I want her to be the Mi-nam in Manager Ma’s ripe imagination: a temptress and seductress!
Speaking of Manager Ma, the guy is a riot, runaway imagination and all.
I’m unsure if it started after his confession at the chapel, but it’s hysterical how he has taken to calling Mi-nam “Sister” again, as if mindful that the Mi-nyu that he coerced into becoming Mi-nam is really a nun-in-training.
Also, the knowledge that he engineered all the pretense seems to be taking a toll on him. With each episode he’s gotten more eccentric (throwing himself on the ground after getting a Yoo He-yi autograph, for example) and his hair more electrocuted. Someone please take him to that hair salon frequented by He-yi!
Just as frazzled is our resident cutie, Jeremy.
Although he now understands (or thinks he understands) why the other guys have been acting all close and caring with Mi-nam (they were just comforting him because of his mom, how nice!), he has not resolved his own confused feelings about this new member of A.N.JELL.
Just look at how he is all overwrought nerves in Mi-nam’s presence. It’s okay when the other two guys are around, but if he’s alone with him… watch out! His brain starts acting like it’s got the crazies and he can’t stop blushing (hence the need to continually cover his cheeks to hide the redness).
Oh, what in the world is happening? He’s a straight guy, he likes pretty girls! But try telling that to his brain. The moment Mi-nam glances in his direction, his skin tingles like it’s being zapped with electricity. And if Mi-nam as much as touches him… Good grief, he can’t even move after that!
Entranced, I giggled at Jeremy’s antics, squealed some more at Tae-kyung and Shin-woo, and completely lost track of time. Two hours later, as the credits rolled, I roused myself from that happy stupor and suddenly remembered something.
Hmm, there was hardly any A.N.JELL in Episodes 5-6. That’s not acceptable, is it? The drama is pretty dang wonderful as it is, but if it is to be perfect, the band needs to perform more!
A still small voice squeaked: “You might tire of the singing by the last episode. Just saying.”