The Secret Garden, the 11th – 14th episodes

Christmas is for celebration of love, and we are certainly blessed this season in more ways than one. While I was slumbering away in the festivities of this Christmas, our two lovebirds were busy going from precarious to a sure thing in little less than four episodes.

When I last saw them, which seems like a lifetime ago (I am told that too many screaming kids and too much eggnog can do that to anybody), our lovebirds were sweating away in the evil witch of the West’s abode. Based on the subsequent sequence of events, the chasm between them appears to grow deeper and their parting almost inevitable. But thanks to the most unlikely fairy godmother and even more improbable of a bodyguard, they become, at least in their minds, a bona fide couple that we have all been waiting for.

Given their newly but ethereally cemented bond, starting their journey even in the witch’s presence doesn’t thwart my fingers from dancing on my laptop’s keyboard. Yeah, I know, my fingers need to get a life.

At the end of the episode 10, after having dodged the witch’s shower gift, RI becomes contrite over her inadvertent fast reflex and offers JW’s mother another chance to throw water in her face, implying that this time she won’t move a muscle. But his mother, thinking RI dodged on purpose, is so flabbergasted over RI’s supposed cunning that she becomes somewhat catatonic. At this point, JW walks into the room and addresses his mother, “What exactly do you think you’re doing right now?”

“Can’t you tell? I can’t just watch you (throw your life away).”

“Why? For what reason? Mom, you have no business maltreating her this way.”

RI’s countenance brightens fleetingly. His mother is shocked, “Kim Joo-won. How dare you talk to your mother that way in front of this hussy?”

“That’s because you’re wasting your energy on an unimportant issue. It’s not like I’m telling you I’m going to marry this woman, so why do you insist on making her a third-rate (삼류)* drama’s lead character by calling her here.” *sam-ryu (삼류) also means second-rated, inferior, low-quality. sam (삼) is pronounced as in ‘Amish,’ not like ‘Pam.’

RI looks at him not so fondly, and his mother looks at him with a new-found hope. He goes on, “If I were to tell you later that I can’t live without this woman, you can object then. Right now, she’s just temporary. You can’t persevere even for a short while?”

His mother cannot believe his words. “Are you serious?”

“Have I ever uttered empty words before?” RI looks hurt and betrayed.

He doesn’t even look her way, “Despite all my efforts to woo her, she doesn’t even acknowledge my existence. Therefore, don’t risk your self-esteem or risk being embarrassed by telling her to come and go.”

RI looks somewhat despondent. He hasn’t taken his eyes off his mother, “Later, even if I say to you, ‘Mom, I’ll die without this woman,’ make sure you object.”

His mother is perplexed, “What?”

“Even if this woman changes her mind later and wants to marry me, do not assent. I want you to oppose us to the bitter end and make sure you separate this woman from me. You understand?”

RI gives him a steely look.

His mother doesn’t know what to make of all this. “Wait a minute. You want me to object instead of accept? You want me to do that thing that I do best, that grab-hold-of-her-nape-of-the-neck-while-foaming-in-my-mouth thing. You want me to do that?”

“Yes.”

“Is (eees)… that right?” His mother says it slowly as if she doesn’t really believe him. Turning to RI, “Are you, by any chance, of the same mind?”

Calmly, “I’m sorry, but I think your son is mistaken.”

Looking as if now the world makes sense, she slowly looks at her son, “He is, isn’t he?”

RI looks at JW while talking to his mother, “Yes, because to your son, I may be someone he can see for a little while, but to me he is not even worth that much.” He looks at her with a frown, while his mother explodes, “What!?”

RI turns back to his mother. “I’ve tried getting angry, punching, and even throwing him around, but because your son’s taste in women is so peculiar, he says that makes me look even more attractive to him.”

JW warns her, “Hey,” while his mother grimaces, “You did what? Throw? Him?”

Unfazed, RI goes on, “I’ve heard that you put a private investigator on me. But I think it would be wiser to put a tail on your son.” His mother is completely shocked. RI continues, “If you can watch his every movement so that he can’t even come near me, I would appreciate it.”

His mother keeps uttering, “Omo! I can’t believe this…”

RI gets up and bows goodbye, “Then, I bid you farewell.”

The witch comes alive, “How dare you get up! The elder is still speaking.” She slams the gift basket full of oranges RI brought on the tea table causing some of the oranges to spill onto the table and the floor. “Take this back (right now)!” Her behavior shocks RI. The witch’s conniption fit steams on full throttle, “If you can’t afford (something more decent), then you should’ve come empty handed. There is a limit to the display of your poverty. What exactly is your intention of bringing something this wretched? When you walked in through that impressive door carrying a handbag (surely) bought from a street corner, didn’t you know it just wasn’t appropriate?”

RI is breathing hard from anger and disbelief. JW asks RI, “You… bought this?”

His mother asks him sarcastically, “Then, you think I bought it?”

RI’s lips quiver in anger, while his mother rants on some more to her son, “This is your level of discernment (안목). You think I had you take aesthetic lessons from age 12 years so that you can have this level of discernment?” By discernment (ahn-mok 안목), she means his level of discriminatory judgment and wisdom in the worldly matters, more specifically in this case his discriminatory taste in women.

As she spits the word, this, out, she motions her head in the direction of RI. RI continues to shake and quiver. His mother gets up from the sofa and tells her son to, “Follow me!”

After she leaves, he looks at the oranges and then her. He tries to grab her arm, “For now, let’s convene outside.” She shakes her arm free from him and starts to put the oranges back into the basket. He tries to grab her arm as he tells her, “Leave that be and let’s go.” She again shakes her arm free and stares at him angrily, “Don’t touch me.”

She goes back to her task, while he yells at her, “So why did you bring something like this?” When she ignores him, he calls for his housekeepers to take care of the oranges and tries to drag her and her bag outside. When she tells him repeatedly to let her go by pummeling him with her fists, he tells her that this is his house and that he will endure her punches outside. She angrily frees herself from him and then briefly stares at him. She then grabs her bag from him and walks out. When she ignores his question of where she is going, he grabs her again, “I’ll give you a ride…”

She turns on him abruptly, “Hey, you crazy jerk!”

Impatiently, “I’ve told you this is my house…”

Full of emotions, “So what about your house? Are you bragging because you have a nice house? You are… just as you said before, a crazy jerk. What? Temporary? If you say I’m temporary, am I automatically temporary? To you, do I look that easy? Listen to me carefully. From now on, I don’t even want (to spend) one minute with you. I’m warning you. Don’t ever touch me again.” She screams at him, “Do you understand!?” Then she turns and leaves. He is curiously quiet and sad.

She walks on the pavement occasionally taking a deep breath which sounds more like a gasp of crying. He follows behind her in his car looking pensive. He abruptly drives in front of her and gets out. Standing in front of her, he tells her to get in because there is no bus stop nearby and that she has to walk for a long time. She looks at him for a while, and then she tells him, “Fine. But I’m going to drive. Give me the key.”

After a few seconds of mulling it over, he hands over the key. What ensues is a lesson in how not to drive as RI takes off when he’s about to get in the car, and she does this several times. On the fourth time, she makes him run a couple of blocks before she stops and gets out of the car. When he catches up with her, while panting he yells at her, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Ever so calmly, “Why? (Is there a rule that says) I can’t play around with a rich guy?”

“What?”

“How did it feel? Was it fun? Refreshing? Joyous? (You want me to) do it again?”

He just looks at her while panting from running.

“See, you don’t like it either when I jerk you around, do you? Well, I felt like that every time I’ve met you.” She changes the direction, “Just where is your common sense? Didn’t I specifically ask you to return the money?”

He tries to defuse her anger, “Why don’t you first calm down…”

“Will you not shut up? Just because I talk softly, you think you can glibly brush me off right now? I have a half mind to beat you to a pulp, but I’m resisting the temptation due to self-respect because I was momentarily swayed by a jerk like you. So, shut up. You think just because we’re poor, we have no pride? I’ve learned from my father that you don’t come invited to someone’s house empty handed. But how can anyone deride that? Just how great is your house that she had to ridicule that (my sincerity)?”

Understandingly, “No matter what you had brought, she would’ve done the same, because what she hates is not what you brought but you.”

“I know. That’s why I don’t like your mother either. I don’t like her.”

He suddenly feels at ease, “Good. That’s fair.”

“What?”

“I understand why you’re angry. It makes sense. But while it’s okay for you to be angry, should you not try to understand me as well?”

Smiling sardonically, “Understand? Understand what?”

Equally sarcastic, “Surely you didn’t expect me to take your side in that situation, did you? If you had expected that, then you are really living in a fairy world. How can I take your side without a plan just for the sake of brief chivalry? Don’t you know that’d make my mother even angrier? Right now, I’m doing the best that I can. Then, shouldn’t you also try to endure at least this much? You didn’t know that to see me, you have to pay (the price) at least this much? You’re not exactly at an age where you are incapable of understanding this. Am I wrong?”

She looks at him at first angrily and then quietly with a hint of melancholy. “You’re not wrong. You are right.” At this he relaxes visibly, while she goes on. “You’re always right. But the realization that what you’ve said is all true (is really sad, and it) really hurts.” Her lips quiver in melancholy. She’s sad, I think, not necessarily because what he said is all true but because what he said has to be all true in this backward society she finds herself in. She’s sad because she not only has to endure his mother’s arrogance and maltreatment but also his insensitivity and suave demeanor in the name of counter tactics.

Looking at her tenderly, “If you were distressed, I apologize. I’m sorry.”

No longer quivering, “Don’t apologize. (Because) you are not (really) sorry at all.”

They stare at each other for some time, and then she walks away alone. He stands next to his car for a long time, perhaps thinking about what she had said. I think she accused him of not really knowing the level and the extent of her pain, and that his apology was more of a superficial window job, a knee-jerk reflex response rather than a heartfelt empathetic one. Maybe it’s because she knows that you don’t really know another person’s pain unless you are in that person’s shoes.

The lyrics from the background song add to the somber mood of the scene:

You don’t know who I really am, do you?

You don’t know anything (about me), do you?

Maybe you (someone) will know when you (finally) love me

For the first time, wanting to love (protect) someone other than me

You don’t know how that feels, right?

In episode 11, 09:45, RI is sitting in a café alone reminiscing about JW when she held him for sit-ups, when he hugged her under the ledge in front of her house, as the song continues:

You (he) were also hurting, weren’t you?

You waited a long time (for me), didn’t you?

You took a long and winding road (to get to me), didn’t you?

It’s not a coincidence, is it?

How your heart recognized mine first

And waited for me

While this next part of the song plays in the background, RI is still reminiscing about him, this time when he kissed her pretending to wipe her foam mustache. JW brings her out of the reverie as he sits in front of her, drinks her latte, and shows off a foam mustache looking at her somewhat mischievously.

Love will change many things (in a person)

(Even) things that seemed impossible to change

Love changed even my tiniest habits

When she looks back at him without much response, he tells her, “I did it for your amusement… (but obviously you’re not in the mood.)”

He wipes his mouth with a napkin and looks at her more earnestly, “By the way, earlier when you said that you were momentarily swayed by a jerk like me, were you serious? You were swayed, but you pretended otherwise?”

She is quiet, and awaiting her answer he gulps in anticipation. She finally speaks in a heavy tone, “In this world… there are few things (I’m) better off not knowing… (and) to me, you may be one of those things.”

He still hasn’t completely grasped the situation yet.

She helps him, “Try to find a great woman. The one your mother won’t have to worry about.”

She looks at him briefly, and she leaves him. As he is watching her walk farther away from him, I think it has finally dawned on him that she is serious about severing whatever relationship they had completely.

We see Joo-won’s true colors

In 12:45, he sits tiredly on his sofa after setting the fruit basket on his coffee table. Oska calls him, worried about what happened to RI.

Oska asks JW if his aunt gave RI an envelope full of money for RI to stay away from her son. JW wearily answers him, “She did that already.”

“She did that already and yet (RI) was called in again today?” It suddenly occurs to him, “Did Ms. Ra-im cry?”

JW talks in a subdued voice, “She didn’t cry in front of me, but (I am sure) she cried on the way back.”

“She cried on the way back? Did you, by any chance, send her off alone?”

“She’s not exactly a kind of person who’ll stay just because I ask her not to go.”

“But still, you should’ve taken her home. Knowing my aunt, there is no way she invited her for tea and cookies, so I’m sure RI left with tons of holes in her heart, how could you send her home alone?”

“It wasn’t mom, it was me.” Who put holes in her heart.

“What?”

“Maybe it would’ve been better if you hadn’t told me.”

“(Are you saying) I should have just let my aunt completely demolish Ms. Ra-im and not care? Don’t you know I’m always meticulous with people on my side? What exactly happened to make you sound so listless?”

JW opens up to his cousin, “Hyung (형). I was really pretty sure of myself, you know.” Hyung (형) is to address someone older and close.

“Sure about what?”

“I was sure that I wouldn’t fall for her. Since she is just an ordinary person, I was sure that I could stay feeling ordinary (about her).”

Oska listens intently feeling his cousin’s pain, while JW bemoans some more, “But, why didn’t it go according to my plan?”

In a frustrated tone, “Ah, you maniac. There are some things you cannot fit into a plan. You think the human heart is some sort of a vending machine? You press Sprite (사이다), and voila, you get Sprite?” Sa-i-da (사이다) means a soft drink, but I chose Sprite because it has lime in it. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it sort of fits the theme.

It’s hard to say how serious Oska was when he appeared to be taken by RI in the past episodes, but he genuinely worries about RI as a part of his extended family now. And since Oska has been paying some serious romantic attention to Seul, she has begun to change for good as well, but that will come later.

Joo-won’s Christmas spirit

In episode 11, 32:32, after having uncharacteristically helped his staff decorate the Christmas tree, JW puts a finishing touch by putting up his eyesore, Oska’s socks, as an ornament. When he stands by the window to enjoy the lighted tree, the imaginary RI joins him. He doesn’t even turn, he just senses her presence, and he no longer has any qualms about carrying on a two-way conversation with her. “You like decorating the (Christmas) tree?”

She just preens and doesn’t say anything.

He goes on, “I don’t like it. Making such a big deal about somebody else’s birthday. But (I did it) because I thought you might like it. Because you seem to like only those things I hate. Like those (Oska) socks.”

Even to the imaginary RI, he doesn’t spare his charms, “Even if those socks are hung, you can’t get any presents.”

“Why (not)?”

“Because Santa doesn’t give presents to kids who cry. His guideline is remarkably rigid (that way).”

With melancholy, “(But) you made me cry.”

JW shrugs his shoulders, “Santa only goes by the rules (facts).”

“You jerk.”

He’s silent for a while. He seems sad. “So, who told you to cry?”

At this point, the real RI walks in through the door. Thanks to the modern technology, we see two RI co-inhabiting the same screen until the real one disintegrates the other one in her place. Seeing irate RI wearing a different outfit, he knows it but he can’t believe it. So he pokes her cheek with his finger to make sure.

“Are you the real Gil Ra-im?”

Getting angrier, “Having fun, are you?”

Smiling for the first time all evening, “Seeing those enraged eyes, yes, you’re real alright. What brings you here? You didn’t even call.”

Still fuming, “Why are you smiling? How can you smile after you’ve made a fool out of me?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What exactly did you say to our director? What did you say to him wearing my face? Why is the director telling me not to make him feel sorry?”

“You came to argue about that? At this hour?”

She barks, “I am waiting.” She actually says, “Won’t you tell me already.”

Calmly, “I’ve already told you in Jeju island that your director likes you. I’ve told him never to confess as long as he lives. Why?”

“What?”

“Shouldn’t you be grateful to me? It’s not like you liked him or anything.”

“So are you saying that you did good right now? To you, there may only be two kinds of man-and-woman relationship. I worked with the director for 7 years. To me, he is my mentor, my parent figure, my sole benefactor, and someone whom I respect the most. Our relationship is not something for the likes of you to mess up.”

“Who said anything about messing up? I just tied the loose ends for you. Your director definitely does not have innocent feelings toward you like you think he does. I could tell it right away. Why are you so dense? Or are you just pretending to be dense?”

“Okay. Let’s assume, like you claim, that the director likes me. That’s all the more reason why this is my problem. This is a problem between the director and me. What right do you have to hurt our director? Who do you think you are? The pain that you caused our director wearing my face hurts me more than the pain you caused me.”

“If I don’t cause him pain, are you going to date him? Do you like the director?” By no pain to the director, (I think) JW is asking her if JW didn’t cause him pain, which is tantamount to going back to the time before the pain incident, if she had known that the director liked her then, would she feel or act differently.

Without hesitation, “Yes, I like him.” JW doesn’t like that one bit.

“Thanks to you, since I’ve become aware of the director’s feelings about me, from this moment on I’m going to try to like him as a man.”

And then she walks away. He doesn’t move for at least a few seconds, perhaps because he didn’t anticipate this reaction from her.

Then he catches up with her in a flash and kisses her hard while she struggles and jabs him in vain to stop him.

He then grabs her arms and tells her, “Now I’ve acquired the right, didn’t I?” The right to hurt the director.

She struggles to free her arms from him, but somehow she looks less angry than before.

Still holding her arms, he sounds serious, “I’m warning you. Don’t ever again get angry because of another guy, don’t say you’re in pain because of another guy, and never again come to see me because of another guy.” This is when Oska interrupts them.

It’s a funny moment in episode 11, 38:30, during Oska’s chiding of his cousin for not understanding women, Oska teasingly tells RI to “kick” (차버려요 or 차다) JW. Cha (차)’s literal meaning is to kick, but in this situation, Cha-bah-ryah-yo (차버려요) means to get rid of him, to break up with him. RI replies, “I want to, but he doesn’t seem to know that he’s been ‘kicked,’ no matter how many times I ‘kick’ him.”

JW quips, “That’s my forte.” I think he means his forte is perseverance, not thick-headedness. Or on second thought, maybe he’s proud of that too.

Joo-won the Mermaid

After RI spurns JW’s offer to give her a ride home, opting to go instead with Oska, JW devises a plan to see RI again by asking Ah-young (AY) to bring her best friend. When AY brings a different “best” friend citing a feeling of temporary estrangement from RI, in the episode 11, 59:00, he waits for her in his car near her house.

He calls her on his cell phone, but she doesn’t answer. He bolts out of his car and starts to walk down the steps but stops when he sees her down below walking toward her house deep in thoughts. He calls her again, but he notices that when she sees the name of the caller, she hangs up. Peeved, he storms down to confront her, “How come you don’t answer your phone?” He yells at her, “Why don’t you answer my calls?”

She is not pleased to see him. “Am I your secretary? Whether I answer your call or not is my choice.”

He’s not happy either. “What makes you think you’re such hot stuff? Who do you think you are? Do you know what I did today because of you?” He means his unsuccessful AY’s best friend scheme.

“I have no particular desire to know. Get out of my way.”

He blocks her way when she tries to walk around him. “How can you not want to know? You have to want to know. We even kissed.”

She scoffs at his poor attempt to remind her how close they are.

He’s not done, “How can you be so nonchalant? How can you act like this doesn’t concern you at all? Do you know how many hours I have been waiting here? From my personality standpoint and for someone like me (to act this way), do you think this makes any sense? How come I’m the only one (acting) like this? How come?” He screams at her, “How come I’m the only one (acting like this)?”

Calmly, “Are you saying that it’s all my fault?”

“You didn’t think it was? At first when I asked you, Do you know Oska?, what did you say? What if I do? Didn’t you? But you shouldn’t have answered me that way. You should’ve said, I know Oska, but I’m not Park Chae-rin. Then we didn’t have to be entangled like this.”

She cannot help but utter a grunt, “You’re such an imbecile…”

“Yes, I’m an imbecile thanks to you. But you, on the other hand, are business as usual, have no problem eating, go to the Action school, meet Oska, but my simple life (on the other hand) has turned topsy-turvy. And for that I feel so wronged and angry.”

“So what do you suggest I do?”

“So from now on, I’m going to do anything and everything… including doing something stupid like waiting for someone in front of her house for hours. So I want you to cooperate.”

“What?”

“(I know) You have no desire whatsoever of being a Little Mermaid. So, I will be the Mermaid.”

She is completely perplexed, “What?”

“(I said) I’m going to be your Mermaid. I’m going to stay with you as if I’m not there and then I’ll disappear (from your life) like bubbles. So right now, (essentially) I’m all out clinging to you.”

Continuing onto the episode 12, RI just grunts in exhalation as if she is extremely annoyed.

He wants an answer yesterday, “How come I don’t hear any response? I’ve contemplated on this long and hard.”

“I would respond only if I heard something that makes sense.”

“What (exactly) doesn’t make sense? You’ve told me because you don’t love me, you don’t have the right to be the Mermaid. So what choice do I have but be the one myself? Of course, for me to come to that conclusion, it took me the hardest period in my life, but it is true that at the present time you are a picture that I can’t hang.” Meaning she is someone he doesn’t have, someone who doesn’t love him (yet).

He flashes her a self-congratulatory smile, “What do you think? I’m cool, right? Other men usually don’t admit to something like this.”

Sarcastically, “I’m grateful.”

Clueless, “You should be, because while you don’t think about me even for 5 minutes, I think about you for a ridiculously long time. So, I’ll be the Mermaid. I will stay with you as if I’m not there and then disappear like bubbles.”

Exasperated and more to herself, “I’m going to go nuts.” Then to him, “You really think you’re capable of staying quiet (let alone act as if you’re not there) by my side? And however you slice it, your bottom line conclusion is to make either you or me bubbles. No?”

“You’re right. Because I like you and if I want to continue to see you, this is the best way at the present time.”

She is quiet for a few seconds, “Do you… like me that much?”

He smiles faintly, “Yes.”

“You like me that much, but the future with me means one of us turns into bubbles?”

He doesn’t say anything.

She paraphrases it, “To put it differently, no matter whether we progress into head over heels in love with each other, you’re saying eventually we’ll disappear without a trace. Isn’t that right?”

Calmly, “That’s because that happens to be our present situation. Yes, of course, I’m sure there would be fights… with my grandfather’s siblings who have always opposed my inheriting the department store, with investors who expected an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) kind of marriage, with numerous stockholders, and with my mother who could hurt you with an excuse of protecting me. Because my marriage is a business entangled with many interested parties.”

In a business-like tone, he drones on, “Eventually I’ll have to make a decision. Do I land Gil Ra-im and disappoint all those people or lose you but obtain a woman who’ll be a robust business partner? You want the first choice? Okay. Let’s assume that I abandon everything and choose you. I’m sure we’ll pick out a house, have our beds delivered, and sleep and wake up together. But how long do you think that happiness would last?”

At this RI takes a deep breath, but she is all ears.

He motors on, “Can you truly say, after making me lose all my earthly possessions, that we lived happily ever after? I cannot guarantee that I wouldn’t blame you or hate you, but can you?”

She looks at him levelly for some time before she speaks, “This is something I can’t help but realize again, but you’re right. You’re right about everything. But, hey, stupid! Where can you find a woman who will sweetly and happily nurture love knowing it will all turn into bubbles? No woman in this world will start love already knowing the ending. That’s why we wouldn’t work. We… have no answer.”

He is defiant to the end, “Why (do you think) there is no answer? That’s why I said I’ll be the Mermaid. Why are you (being) so difficult? When a man and a woman date, do they all end up marrying? What are you going to do if I say I’ll marry you and then renege? Even if you have no particular desire or purpose, this is something worth doing. Frankly, deep down you want to do this, don’t you? I know you like me, too.”

She gives him a very annoyed look. “Please, don’t misconstrue. I… don’t like you.” Menacingly, “Get out of my way.”

He steps in front of her. After staring at each other for a while, she tells him in no uncertain terms, “Get out of my way.”

He suddenly strokes her hair… tenderly, and that catches her completely off-guard. Her expression changes, her shoulders involuntarily tense, and her eyes show tenderness and hope. He stops stroking her hair after a while, and donning a slight I-told-you-so smile, “Your eyes seem to belie your assertion. Think over what I said carefully before giving me an answer, because that’s what I did. Bye.”

After he leaves, she stands there for some time pondering what he said.

Romantic he certainly is not here, and he may never quite be the way we and RI want, but he is being truthful (as much as his brain can function at this point) to himself and thus to her. He is trying to reconcile his heart with his brain, and, to me, truth trumps false romantic overture every time.

In episode 12, 05:50, oh-so-impatient JW text messages RI, Did you think about it? For a woman who doesn’t think even for 5 minutes, what’s taking you so long? Give me an answer pronto. When RI gets the message, she smiles fondly for a split second, but then she remembers the hurtful comments his mother made about the fruit basket and about JW’s level of discernment. She proceeds to ignore his message.

In episode 12, 09:23, it’s touching that JW tries to protect the fruit basket from his mother, probably because the fruit basket represents RI in his mind. But in the process his mother threatens to deport RI out of the country, he is forced to acquiesce to another seun, a blind date.

Green with Envy

In episode 12, 11:45, Seul asks and meets RI in the same museum to express her apology because she is pursuing JW for marriage despite having the knowledge of RI and JW’s true feelings toward each other. Seul goes on to tell RI all about JW’s line that he had used on her on their first blind date as well as the seun he had “an hour ago in this very museum with a woman who has an elegant taste in perfume.” The knowledge of JW’s seun gnaws on her and her recollection of his comments about RI being a temporary, etc. adds fire to her ire, so she ignores JW’s call all day.

In episode 12, 16:50, RI is walking down the steps to her house wearing a red headphone listening apparently to her IPod, when she sees that JW is waiting for her at the bottom of the steps. He demands, “Why didn’t you answer your phone?”

She ignores him and resumes her descent. Nagging resumes, “Do you know how many times I called?” When she continues to walk down without saying anything, “I asked you why you didn’t answer your phone? You can’t hear me?” He thinks so because she’s wearing a headphone.

When he gets no response from her, he, in a very annoyed tone, tells her, “For someone ugly, you are also so very stubborn.”

At this, she stops and takes off the headphone, “I was busy.” And very nonchalantly, “Why did you call me?”

Fuming, “Iish. Why didn’t you answer me when you can hear everything?”

Wearily, “Because I felt lazy.” She starts to walk down again.

He makes his trademark move. He sticks his leg out to block her descent.

“You think I called you because I was twiddling my thumb? If you felt so lazy, you should’ve just answered the calls (to avoid getting annoyed repeatedly). Why did you ignore my text message? I thought I made myself crystal clear that I think about you for a ridiculously long time. So how do you think I fared? You think I was able to concentrate on my work all day? Did you read the message? If you read it, you should have responded. Why didn’t you respond?”

Looking at him peevishly, “I’m still thinking.”

“When will you be done (thinking)?”

“What does it matter when I’ll be done? Did you need my approval when you started liking me?” Meaning why does he need her approval now to continue to like her.

She throws him a barb, “For someone who couldn’t concentrate on his work because he was so curious about my thoughts, (I wonder) how he managed to have a seun?”

Taken back, “How… did you know I had a seun?”

Ignoring his question, “How did this woman stack up (to your expectations)? Was she pretty? Rich? Education exceptional?” She twists the barb a little, “Her taste in perfume… you liked it? Her walking demeanor was cultured?”

Stammering now, “Ahuuh… how… do you… know all that?”

“I don’t have a very sophisticated taste in perfume, but my shampoo taste is impeccable, and my taste in toothpaste is even better. If you got all that, can you move the hell out of my way?”

I said many moons ago how I love the way JW expresses himself. Well, I love the way RI talks even more.

RI shoves his leg out of her way and walks down the steps. JW asks her quizzically, “You are not, by any chance, jealous, are you?”

But it isn’t until she stops, turns around, and glares at him that he is absolutely certain. He smiles knowingly, “You are jealous.” Greatly enjoying this, “Why? Hearing that I had a seun made you angry? Felt enraged? Should I not have any more seun?” He asks the last question with a playful smile on his face.

She tries her best to appear calm, “How can you not have seun when your mergers and acquisitions lifeline is at stake? Stop paying (so much) attention to a woman bearing fruit basket and have fun with your seun.” She gives him a last glare and starts to walk down the steps again.

He throws the words downwind, “Is that all you can say?”

That stops her in her track.

He seizes the moment, “What do you think I’m doing here at this time of the night, woman? I came because I’ve missed you.”

At this, her eyes widen, and it dawns on her that maybe what he’s saying may very well be true.

He goes on, “So instead of showing me your back, let me see your face.”

She doesn’t move, and he walks to stand in front of her, “I want to see you like this.” She just stares at him expressionlessly, but her eyes say much more. He chides her, “So who told you to arbitrarily erase the pictures from my cell phone?” He takes his cell phone out, corrects her posture, and tells her to “stand straight just a minute” while he attempts to take her picture. She warns him, “You better not take the picture,” and when he ignores her she makes a cute lip-biting face to express her displeasure. Not minding her at all, he merrily takes the picture while making an observation, “You definitely look pretty when you’re angry.” She puffs out an upward air from her mouth in mild protestation causing her hair on her forehead to blow up a little. He saunters away wearing I-got-you-now smile, “Make up your mind by tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll be back tomorrow again (to bug you more).” She looks at him the whole time he walks up the steps to his car with a maybe-I-should-give-this-dolt-another-chance expression.

In episode 12, 53:53, in front of a condo that JW surreptitiously arranged with the director-in-line, Whang Jung-un, to hold the Action School’s workshop, JW “happens” to run into the Action School crew as they arrive for the workshop. JW grabs RI by the arm and throws her backpack to one of her comrades. When RI gives him a glare, he tries to reason with her, “What? (Don’t you remember,) we have to talk about a certain matter. I was too busy lately to properly bug you, but you haven’t yet decided?”

“I don’t have time to worry about some frivolous things like that, you know.”

“Why are you taking so long a time (to decide)?”

He suddenly changes his tactic, “Okay, we’ll talk about that quietly some other time, but a few days ago you met Oska (Chae Wu-young), didn’t you? What did you guys do? Did you do – imitates her coquettish behaviors – these things again?”

“What does it matter (to you) what I do?”

He takes offense and can’t help yelling, “How can it not matter (to me)? We have kissed!” Koreans consider kissing an important sign or milestone in a romantic relationship. In the olden (really old) ancient days, if an eligible girl or a woman allowed a guy to hold her hand, that was a sign that she has accepted him as her betrothed. We have come a long way since then.

She covers his mouth in haste with her hand while looking around to see if anybody heard his outburst. She is not happy with him, “Are you tired of breathing (or something)? You want me to send you to a nice and peaceful place?” Words you don’t hear every day from women, that’s for sure.

Ethereal communication

In episode 11, 24:41, JW is pacing in his living room holding the Alice in Wonderland book in his hand. We hear his thoughts through his voice,

Alice asked, can you tell me which way I should go from here?

At the same time while reading the same book in her bed, RI connects the proverbial dot,

Cheshire cat answered, that depends on where you want to go.

JW thinks, It really doesn’t matter (to me) where.

RI reads silently, In that case, you shouldn’t have any problem whichever way you decide.

JW: But I want to arrive at a destination somewhere.

RI: You’re definitely destined to arrive somewhere… provided you walk long enough of a distance.

There is a supernatural connection between the two. Even without counting JW’s imaginational RI, they seem to be in tune with each other. My most favorite ethereal communication occurs when JW lies down on the floor next to RI in the workshop condo in episode 12, 57:55 after having disposed (rolled him away from her) of a guy sleeping next to her as well as swiping some sheets for her and for himself.

He takes delight in just looking at her sleep while the drunken guy (Whang Jung-un, the one who helps JW with RI) provides background music with his bellowing. Perhaps it was his staccato singing, but suddenly RI frowns while sleeping. JW frowns back. And just as he did when he took her to the emergency room, he touches her frown between the eyes with his finger. This time, however, she wakes up, and they stare at each other for a long time, and they proceed to communicate through their thoughts. JW starts,

Why are your dreams always so unpleasant?

That’s because you’re (always) in my dreams.

Does that mean, with me, you’re unhappy even in your dreams?

Even so, come (into my world) anyway. Tomorrow and the day after (and after).

Of course, as is rapidly becoming his trademark, JW ruins yet another perfect moment in episode 13, 01:55, by whispering to her, “You know, right next to here is an empty room.” She is so appreciative of that information that she tries to stuff a pillow in his face.

Alone At Last

In episode 13, 15:55, Whang Joung-aun comes through again. He tells the director Lim that JW can’t accompany them because he has a business meeting tomorrow, and since JW’s back pain was in part caused by Ra-im, he told her to stay behind to take care of him. RI earlier kicked JW’s shin yet again in the mountain for pretending to have a sprained ankle, and when he lost his footing when he tried to balance on one leg while holding the leg RI kicked, he fell down the mountain and apparently hurt his back. The director Lim doesn’t look happy, but he motions his crew to move on.

Back in the condo, JW is lying prone on a sofa moaning, while RI questions the validity of his moaning, “Are you sure you’re sick?”

JW is offended, “Is that any way to treat a guy who just came back from near death?” He yells to remind her who almost killed him, “So, why did you kick me?”

Still suspicious, “Then, go to a hospital.”

He explains it to her gently, “I want to do that, but I can’t get treatment from anyone except my own personal doctor. If I show up at a hospital, it will quickly become hot financial news and our stocks will fall. At least do quick first-aid treatment first.”

“Do I look like a doctor to you?”

“Based on how your body looked, you could pass as a tertiary hospital. At that rate, you may not get out (빼다) a (medical) license, but you should at least get out (빼다) the swelling.” It’s a wordplay on bba-da (빼다) which means get out, extract, draw it out, subtract from, etc.

Just to shut him up, “Where is it swollen? Where?”

When he pulls his pants down to partially reveal his underwear, RI screams and turns around quickly. “Do you really want to die?”

He is puzzled as to why she’s overreacting, “What’s wrong with you? It’s not like you haven’t seen it before. You must have seen it all when we had the body exchange.”

Still not turning around, “I’m not that kind of person, you know. Will you not pull up your pants, pronto?”

“Okay.” He pulls up his pants, and she turns around. He becomes serious, “But, in return, I want you to answer me truthfully. That time when you met Chae Wu-young (Oska) in the middle of the night, what did you two do?”

She senses that he’s dead serious and can’t help teasing him, “We had pork skins, why?”

Getting riled up, “Are you an employee of a pig farm? Why do you insist on feeding distinguished people the skins?” Then he becomes curious, “Did Chae Wu-young eat (the pork skins)?”

Still in a teasing mode, “Yes. Instead of melting the skin like someone, he (actually) ate by chewing. Like a man.”

His eyes become fiery at that. She gets up to leave, and he grabs her arm and briskly pulls her down next to him on the sofa.

Finding herself suddenly sitting next to him on the sofa, she glares at him. He asks her innocently, “Why (are you glaring)? (Because) I was extremely manly just now.”

She glares at him some more after a short shake to free her arm from his grip, “You’re really pretending* to be sick, aren’t you?”

*Pretending (뻥) is countered frequently in kdrama. Bbung (뻥) is technically a small lie, a fib, but, I think, its connotation leans more to: pretending or faking to be something one is not.

He immediately begins to moan, “Ahhh… It really hurts. I think it’s broken.”

She looks at him as if he’d be the last person she’ll believe. “Yeah, I bet.” Then she abruptly gets up to leave. Surprised, he bolts up from the sofa without a sign of any pain, “Where are you going?”

She turns around to face him, “I’m going out for fresh air, so lie down and don’t move a muscle.”

Without hesitation, “I’ll go with you.”

Equally fast, “You said you are sick.”

He yells to make his point, “Because I’m sick (walking should be therapeutic).” He can’t resist adding, “Never heard of re-treatment?” Re-treatment (재발치료) – Jae-bal (재발) means recurrence and Chi-Ryo (치료) means treatment. He means his sickness will recur from walking, and then she has to treat him again later.

Then, grabbing his jacket he walks ahead of her, while she fumes and glares.

In a beautiful nippy starry night where you see a star falling out of the sky and hear owls hooting, our two love birds are walking side by side (okay, not really, but technically so) on the fallen leaves. Remembering what Whang Jung-un (the guy who wants JW and RI together) told him, JW suddenly turns to face RI, “Gil Ra-im.”

Meekly, “What?”

With school-boy hesitance, “There is lavender scent in your action.” Lavender refers to a Lavandula plant from where a scent of lavender is cultivated. Whang Jung-un referred to lavender as a symbol of vanity, and he guaranteed JW that these two sayings will turn RI into mush. Okay, he said that the words will give her an emotional boost, but hey, they are close enough. Regardless, it is touching that JW is trying so hard to impress RI.

RI doesn’t get it at all. In fact, she sounds a little irritated. “What?”

Not giving up, “Your very existence is a miracle to me.”

Glaring at him, she doesn’t even finish her usual moniker for him, “(You), psycho.” In Korean, the order in which the words are spoken in a sentence is typically reversed as compared to English.

They turn around and resume walking, but not before JW utters under his breath a choice word or two for Whang Jung-un.

He goes back to being his usual ‘charming’ self, and he suddenly smiles remembering, “You know, I walked just like this with you before.”

She looks at him quizzically.

He explains without looking at her, “You kept appearing in front of my eyes. And that’s how… we walked like this.”

She looks at him, somewhat moved.

In fact, they walk and stop in synchronization just like he did with the imaginary RI.

While walking together, RI muses silently while looking at JW:

There are certain things that feel like fantasy due to faraway distance.

Starry bodies are among those.

Just like exquisitely beautiful people,

They tend to readily disappear.

This is a memorable excerpt from a book I read

Because I was curious about his true feelings.

At this point, JW stops and turns to smile warmly at RI.

She continues to muse:

I’ve finally realized… just how beautiful he really is.

And thus (at the same time)… how distant he is from me.

He will disappear one day as well

As very beautiful people often do.

Joo-won the Pest, the Act II

Back in her room in the mountain lodge, RI is deep in thoughts on her bed when the door opens abruptly, and JW pokes his head in.

RI is irritated, “You don’t know how to knock?”

Looking almost sedated, “Yeah. I don’t know (how)… because there aren’t that many doors in this world where I need to knock to go in.” In English, it should be “No,” but in Korean, it’s affirmative (“Yeah”). Just a different grammatical rule.

She glares at him.

Like a child, “Wash my feet. I can’t do it because my back hurts.”

Incredulously, “You want me to… wash (your) feet?”

I presume a little later, he opens her door abruptly, again… without knocking, of course. “Get me some water. I’m thirsty.”

She reminds him, “The distance from your room to the kitchen is closer than to this room, you know.”

Unfazed, he just shrugs his shoulders refusing to move.

A little later, he opens the door again. “Change the TV channel for me. (The one I’m watching) is boring.”

She screams at him.

A little later, he opens the door again, this time carrying a pillow and wearing a little mischievous smile. She is fed up. She yells at him, “What (is it) this time?”

He invites himself into the room, “I’m going to sleep in this room.”

Shocked, “What?”

Calmly, “Why? I can’t?” He tries to teach her a lesson in human relations, “Human beings have to experience some unsavory things together to become closer.”

“Are you really crazy? Will you not leave?”

“For a woman who’s normally so obvious and trite, why do you pretend to be so contemporary in a situation like this? In an island you miss the last boat, in a hotel you get the last vacant room, and if in a villa then of course, you have to…” She throws a pillow at him, and he, caught completely off-guard, screams at her.

His logic is that in a dire situation where there is no viable alternative such as if stuck in an island or if there is only one room left in a hotel, then it’s logical to make the best of the situation given. So if they are both “stuck” in a villa then, of course, he reasons she shouldn’t have any qualms about sharing a bed.

She tries a different tactic, “Okay, you sleep here. I’ll leave (the room). I will.” That takes him by surprise. When she leaves the room, he follows her out like a magnet. She then quickly sneaks back into the room and locks the door. When he threatens to break down the door, she dares him to because as she reminds him, it’s his door, not hers. He tries to pick the lock with a pen and then with a paper clip without success. Then pretending to talk to her director, he tricks her into coming out of the room. He tells her triumphantly, “You really are using your body (as a stuntwoman) because you aren’t bright.” Then he bulldozes her onto the bed and pins her down next to him with his legs. He closes his eyes while holding her, pretending to snore. After struggling and threatening him without success, she tells him, “Okay, I’m going to give you a chance. If you get off my body in a count of three, you probably can’t avoid bodily harm but I won’t send you to the death’s doorstep.”

Still with his eyes closed, he just hugs her closer to his body while using his arms and legs to entrap her. Struggling to no avail, she tells him, “Okay, if you stop here, then I won’t accuse you of any crime. I promise. I really won’t hit you.”

Still with his eyes closed, “If you keep babbling on like that, I’m going to force myself on you.”

That stops her struggling for a split second, and Newton’s third law of motion, the one about action and reaction, brings her face closer to his which causes her to shriek momentarily. But being so close to his face, and his closed eyes perhaps giving her a sense of security, she smiles like a kid in a candy store. She looks at him for a long time, and I think it becomes suddenly clear to her just how much she really means to him.

Feeling her stare, he slowly opens his eyes, and they look at each other for a long time. He finally hugs her and starts to chant his usual nonsense, this time not just to get her out of his head but also to quiet his smaller one. Yes, I know, this doesn’t belong in the Christmas theme, but, hey, I already got my presents. He can’t help but look at her again, and it’s almost heartbreaking to hear such longing in his breaking voice as he hugs her hard and starts to chant again while tenderly stroking her hair.

The next morning, RI opens her eyes and suddenly it occurs to her about what happened last night. She bolts up and looks to see that he is gone. All kinds of thoughts and possibilities go through her head. She gets dressed and goes outside looking anxiously and finds his car empty. She looks around for his whereabouts when she sees him walking toward her with an entourage. He looks at her meaningfully, and she avoids his eyes, perhaps embarrassed at being seen coming out of the villa, not wanting the entourage to think that she had spent the night with him.

After getting rid of the entourage, he asks her, “Are you all packed? We can leave now?”

Still feeling somewhat embarrassed, she replies self-consciously, “Yeah.”

“You drive.” He tells her while fishing the car key from his pocket.

Surprised, “Me? Why?”

While proffering her the key, “I’m hurt (remember?). My back hurts.”

Not believing him, “You’re faking (Bbung 뻥) again.”

Earnestly, “I’m not faking. I think I have to see a doctor in Seoul as soon as we get there.”

“Don’t try to con me. I’m not that gullible, you know.”

“I’m serious. You know, I was in some serious pain last night, but you… were sleeping like a baby.”

She still doesn’t buy it, and she bares her teeth, “Shee.”

“Never mind. I’m really in a lot of pain. Let’s hurry.” He gets in the passenger side.

Showing concern for the first time, “Are you really… in pain?”

In the acupuncturist’s office, as the doctor is kneading the lower back muscles, JW moans and groans. The doctor gives his expert opinion, “With this much spasm, the pain must have been intolerable. It must have been difficult even to walk.” At this RI shows surprise and remorse, “You weren’t… pretending?”

JW barks at her, “Weren’t you listening to anything (the doctor said)?”

JW to the doctor, “You could say that it’s a miracle I’m alive, right?”

RI smiles embarrassingly at the doctor, and she glares at JW for being such a wuss. The doctor does one better, “You could say that, but you are fortunate to meet Huh Joon, so if you’re diligent about coming to these acupuncture sessions you should be fine.” Huh Joon (허준) was the most esteemed doctor in Korea in his era (1539 – 1615), and he was immortalized in a Korean drama with the title bearing his name in 1999 – 2000, which boasted 63% ratings. Obviously, besides the herbal medications, acupuncture was the main therapeutic option in that era.

When the doctor opens a sterile packet of acupuncture needles, JW panics, “Wait! Are you going to… stick me with those now?”

Gently chuckling, “Yes.” The doctor proceeds to prick one needle on his back after alcohol swabbing, “Like this.”

JW screams like a little kid and protests likewise, “You should’ve counted, one, two, three, before doing that.”

RI chides him, “What kind of man are you to have so much um-sal (엄살)?” Um-sal (엄살) is an attitude or words of a person who either exaggerates or makes up the pain or discomfort.

Offended, “Um-sal?” To the doctor, “Make sure you give me the report of findings. I tumbled down (the mountain) because this woman kicked me.”

She can’t believe he can be so childish.

He is not done, “You can meet my lawyer tomorrow and hear about your dim future, so be emotionally prepared.”

Far from intimidated, “Are you sure you even have a lawyer?”

He is speechless and in pain at the same time.

Together We Shall Overcome

In episode 13, 36:01, JW’s mother accuses RI of luring JW into her bed showing the “irrefutable evidence” of his underwear box. Despite her explanations, his mother calls her the most hurtful words to date, “This is why children who grew up without parents show (that kind of) tee (티).”

The word, tee (티), is often used in kdrama, and it means a certain attitude, appearance, or expression as a result of or from being something; the something in this case is RI’s state of being parentless. Other examples are: (From you, there reeks) a country bumpkin tee (촌 티), shy tee (수줍은 티), educated tee (배운 티), virgin tee (처녀 티), etc.

JW’s mother is foaming at the mouth. “Did your parents teach you to be this way? If you have trouble putting food on the table, wrest a guy’s soul from him?”

When his mother won’t take those words back, RI tells her, “Mr. Kim Joo-won likes me. And I have come to like him (as well). But from this moment on, I will never see him again. He is not someone whom I can’t live without if it means sullying my parents’ name. He does not mean that much to me. My father… was a great man who sacrificed his own life to save many other lives. He is not someone who deserves this kind of treatment from you.”

RI asks JW’s mother again to take back her words, but when she tells RI that she can say and do worse things, Oska literally drags her out of the house.

It is heartbreaking to see RI crying inconsolably on the floor repeatedly saying something about her wretched life or situation, and AY tries to console her and but ends up crying along with her, arms wrapped around her.

It is this mindset of hers that puts up a wall between her and JW. When JW finds out what happened, he tries knocking on her door, calling her, looking for her in the Action School, but when he’s not successful, he confronts his mother. His mother tells him something he is most afraid of. If RI is that precious to him, she tells him, to go ahead if he is willing to give up all his money, social status, power, and all his earthly possessions. The witch even covers every possible scenario. “She will mellow when we have a kid? Time will heal all? Never. Maybe if only you and the child come, but that hussy will never cross our doorstep. Even if I die, she can’t cross it because I’m going to write in my will as such. Therefore, if love alone can keep you satiated, then (by all means) take that route.”

His mother may have done JW a big favor here, because sometimes when you confront your worst fears head on, when you are forced to make a decision, you can see much more clearly than before. We see that he has made that decision when we see him knocking on RI’s door for the second time that night in episode 13, 43:08.

He pleads with her from outside the door, but RI doesn’t budge. RI doesn’t sleep a wink that night, and when she comes out of her house the following morning, she notes that he has also been up all night waiting for her in his car.

He gets out of the car and stands in front of her. “I’ve told you before. I am going to do anything and everything. Waiting in front of your house for 8 hours, now to me, is nothing.” She avoids his eyes. He tries a different venue. “It was really cold last night. You didn’t know that, did you?” Still not looking at him, she moves her lips to say something, but changes her mind. He gently tells her, “Look at me. Please.”

When she still doesn’t look at him, “I thought about it all night, but I can’t think how to apologize to you.”

That gets her attention. She looks him in the eyes. “You don’t know how? Why? Is it because you have never apologized to a poor woman before? Why is that you don’t know something that everybody in this world knows how? Why can’t you do something that everybody in this world can do? I’m always apologetic everywhere I go, but how can you not even know how (to apologize)?”

He doesn’t say anything. She goes on. “Your mother is something else. She has made me stand (attention) in that fancy living room of hers every time, but now she has done the same to me in my own house.”

He looks as though he didn’t realize how bad his mother has made it for her.

She calmly goes on, “Do you know that now every day I have to breathe, eat, and tell jokes in my house thinking about what happened yesterday? So, just because you stayed up all night, don’t make such a big deal about it. And from now on, I want you to stay away from my pathetic reality. I want you to go back living in your fairytale world… beautifully.” More like superficially, beautiful only from outside looking in.

His expression changes subtly, but he is unmistakably shocked that she wants their relationship severed. When she walks around him and away, he stays rooted in a temporary catatonic state. And when he does turn around to look at her, he has no idea that she is also crying.

You can tell JW is not doing well, because he is taking his medication again. He tries calling her but she doesn’t answer. He goes to the Action School to find her, but she happens to see his car from the rooftop. She calls the front (Whang Jung-un) and asks him to tell JW that she’s not here, and don’t ask her why in the episode 13, 52:35. JW is not convinced talking to WJU, “She’s really not here? You promised to help, remember? Tell me the truth. Did she tell you to say that?”

“She’s not here not because she told me to, but because it’s possible that she’s not here.”

His vague answer is enough to convince JW that RI is here. He yells, “Gil Ra-im! Listen carefully. I know you’re listening. What you’re doing is cowardly. If you think I’m going to give up, I want you to throw that notion away right now. I haven’t even started, and I haven’t heard your answer yet either. You know very well as I do that this can’t be solved by hiding. I rather you throw me around like you did before. Just throw me down. We have to be at least face to face to do anything. If you don’t want to see me, at least answer my calls!”

Even her director agrees with JW. RI sheds a tear, torn between her love for her father and for her man.

JW is entertaining the guests at the VVIP year-end party, but his mind is only with RI. He text messages her repeatedly from the party. She reads his messages from her locker room. The first frantic message reads, Where are you? Where? Just tell me where you are. The next one, Please answer the phone. Please. The next one reads, You are really not going to see me? Is this the best you can do? Are you sure? (This is his trademark saying). Her eyes are glistening, and she is weakening. The final message does the trick. I’m worried (sick), please call me. I’m begging you.

She grabs her handbag from the locker and heads to the party. From outside looking into the large windows, she sees all the women wearing fancy outfits and drinking wines. She sees JW mingling, socializing, and hosting the party, and her shabby tattered bag incident comes to her mind when he told her, “If you have any consideration for me at all, before you came here you should have inspected yourself at least once.” She realizes now what he meant by that. Realizing that her attire is not suitable for the occasion, but she also doesn’t want to leave him, so she is freezing but braving the cold when JW calls her. She knows it’s him calling, but she can’t bring herself to answer and decides to leave. Of course, this is when her fairy godmother appears in the form of Oska.

The Kiss like no other

In episode 14, 01:00, JW and RI meet in the VVIP party room, courtesy of Oska. RI is dressed in a low-cut bodice dress that matches her new short hairdo. JW looks slightly peeved as he approaches RI. They stare at each other for a while before he speaks first, “Where were you?”

“I’m right here.”

“Why didn’t you answer my calls?”

“That’s why I’m here.” Because of his calls.

“I’m not completely appeased yet. Don’t move.”

He checks the label on her dress, while she tenses not knowing what to expect. He congratulates her, “Nice dress. Did your fairy godmother put this on (for you)?” JW overheard Oska referring to himself as fairy godmother before. RI turns her head away temporarily in mild derision as she usually does at his futile attempt at adult humor.

His humor knows no boundary, “You come looking this beautiful, and then she told you to disappear exactly at midnight?”

“That… depends on you.”

“Answer me. Why are you dressed like this?”

She just looks at him, looking pretty.

He gets impatient. “Without making me nervous.”

“I wanted to come in but couldn’t, so I stayed right outside. But then the fairy godmother told me to tell you… I came to see you. I swore to your mother on my father’s name that I would never see you again. But even though my body left, my heart won’t leave. If I start seeing you again, I know it could get very difficult, but I’ve realized that I could endure the pain of seeing you again better than that of not seeing you. I… came to see you. This is my answer.” The answer to his question about his wanting to be her Mermaid.

She continues, “But I’m not going to be a Little Mermaid. So, I want you to answer me as well. Am I still destined to be your Mermaid only?”

He stares at her for a while without answering her when his latest seun interrupts them, “Hello.”

Holding a wine glass in her hands and carrying an air of entitlement, the woman stands there smiling, while RI fidgets feeling somewhat uneasy. Coolly, JW comments, “I didn’t know you were our VVIP member?”

“I’m not, but my mother is. She had a previous engagement, so I came in her place. Did I surprise you?”

“Only because I didn’t think I would see you again.”

RI looks at him quizzically, and he answers her while looking at the woman again, “This lady is the one I had a seun with, Ms. Yoo Geung-nan.”

RI acknowledges her with a slight bowing of her head, while the woman beams, “I’m impressed. You remembered my name.”

Seul happens to walk by and overhears the conversation.

Sheepishly, JW stammers while checking to see RI’s reaction, “I just have… too good a memory.” RI looks at him as if she thinks it’s more than just his good memory as to why he remembers her name so well.

Seeing RI and JW exchange glances, the woman shows good manners, “I must have interrupted your conversation. I’m sorry.”

RI returns the good manners, “No, it’s fine.”

Beaming, the woman quickly grabs the chance, “Is that right? Then, is it okay if I have a word with Mr. Joo-won for a moment?”

JW’s eyes widen either at her aggressiveness or from the fear of RI’s wrath. He starts to offer excuses, when Seul comes to the rescue.

Seul tells JW while putting her arm on the woman’s shoulder, “Ah, I’ll (take) this lady… You two go ahead with your conversation.” Turning to the woman, “Ms. Yoo Geung-nan, there is someone over there who would like to meet you.”

Disappointment shows but the woman does a good job of maintaining her decorum, “Ah, yes.” To JW and RI, “Excuse me for a moment.”

After they leave, JW notices RI’s aloofness, “Just one seun was all. The seun you found out earlier.” Then he starts with an excuse about a certain principle, but she interrupts him, “It doesn’t matter. Because… I haven’t yet heard your answer.”

He just stares at her.

With confidence showing on her face, she asks, “So, to the question I asked you before, I want to hear your answer.”

He is about to answer her, when the dweeb interrupts them, “There you are. Let’s have a drink.”

JW looks annoyed, and RI turns around.

Clueless that he’s not welcome, “Who is she? I don’t recall seeing her before.” To JW, “Introduce her (to me).”

“This is a woman whom you’ll never see the likes of in your life.”

At this RI’s head snaps back toward JW.

JW makes his point succinctly to the dweeb, “Go and play elsewhere.”

Still clueless and scoffing even, “Of course, I would see (her). In this small world, I’m sure I’ll run into her eventually.” To RI, “Isn’t that right?”

JW is adamant, “(I’m telling you,) guys like you will never see (someone like her).”

RI looks at him again. JW goes on, “Because she is one of a kind.” Looking at her now, “This woman… drives like a stock car race driver.” I’m not into race car driving, so the name JW mentions sounds foreign.

“Even for a complete stranger, she’ll not hesitate to wield her fist if she witnesses a robbery or a sexual harassment. She is a woman who has no money and her body’s full of bruises but she shuns the likes of us even for il-boon-il-cho (일분일초).”

“Us” meaning rich spoiled kids like him, and il-boon-il-cho (일분일초) literally means one minute-one second as in ‘she doesn’t want to spend even one minute or/and one second,’ but, in essence, it means a very short time.

JW and RI look into each other’s eyes for some time, and JW finishes his sentiment, “I have never seen a woman this attractive before in my life.” To RI alone, “This is my answer.” RI can’t help being moved, and she smiles warmly.

In most part, I was okay with the ensuing dweeb and RI’s exchange in English except that RI’s pronunciation of ‘live’ sounded more like ‘leave,’ but, hey, RI already had me at Hello (as Renee Zellweger says to Tom Cruise in 1996 movie Jerry Maguire).

After the dweeb makes a hasty retreat, JW smiles fondly at her, “You know how to speak English now?”

“It’s from the Dark Blood script.” Dark Blood is the action movie she hopes to work in. “I’m trying out for the audition.” Wistfully, “If it weren’t for the dress my oppa (Oska) put on, I could have made his 5th vertebra into the 6th.” Meaning she would have crushed the dweeb’s 5th vertebra (chuck-joo 척주) into the 6th vertebra position.

JW raises his eyebrow at that, “That guy (Oska) put the dress on you? Personally?”

RI gives him a look, the very look we guys get from women when we say something really stupid.

In episode 14, 09:53, our two lovebirds stare into each other’s eyes for what seems like an eternity while dancing absolutely the slowest slow dance ever in this century. JW finally gives RI a quick kiss on the lips, and everyone in the room, including Seul and Oska, look on with amusement, envy, and shock. RI becomes self-conscious, “They are all looking at us.”

“Naturally… because I just kissed a poor stuntwoman. If you know anyone in this room who has our (department store) stocks, tell them to sell… because that store’s CEO is right now wreaking havoc on the lifetime dream of mergers and acquisition marriage.” JW first kisses RI on the forehead and then slowly goes to work on her lips.

What was so different about this kiss? Well, because this was a make out kiss with the fireworks of mutual ardor, a true marathon that didn’t feel like a marathon. This was the most “Westernized” kiss that I have ever seen in a kdrama, I think, even better than the finale kiss in the elevator in My Girl. It was one of those kisses that would inevitably warrant a catcall, Get a room!

The Bodyguard of the Year

But this kiss would not have been possible had it not been for the bodyguard of the year, a No-More Miss Plastic, Yoon Seul. Boy, was I touched by her gesture.

In episode 14, 07:50, Seul is standing outside by the side of the large windowed building as the woman walks toward her, “Why did we come outside? Who wanted to see me?”

Seul turns around to face her, and in the lower form of language, “It’s me.”

Confused, “What?”

Seul grabs her arm and flings her against the large window. Seul then slams her left palm against the window next to her right ear for the desired effect of intimidation. The woman is now confused and unsure, “What are you doing right now?”

Smiling sinisterly and still speaking in the lower language, “By any chance, you like drama? One of my favorite is called Gossip Girl*. And there is this one memorable line from that drama: This territory’s crazy bitch is me. What you just did to Mr. Kim Joo-won, I already did a few months ago.” (*thanks, bella)

The woman looks down as if she realizes now what this is all about.

Seul goes on, “What I mean to say is that just one…” She emphasizes the point with her index finger, “(bitch) chasing after his wealth is quite enough. Don’t you dare cause any more pain upon the couple who have finally found themselves.” Taking the woman’s expensive fur in her hands and then flinging it toward her for effect, “Quietly… have fun and go home (by yourself).” Seul raises her voice, “Okay?” The woman demurely looks down and doesn’t say anything. Seul stares menacingly at her for a few more seconds and walks away.

A Christmas Tree of Their Own

JW, without telling the director Lim, drags RI out of the Action School to bring her to her house in episode 14, 19:49. Her eyes are blindfolded by his hand as they enter the house. When he finally lets go of his hand, she gasps and marvels at the blinking lights of the Holiday decorations including that from the small Christmas tree. He looks at her with a proud smile, while amazed RI wonders, “You did this all by yourself?”

He shrugs while still smiling, “You don’t have to be so touched. This is what a sense of a societal leader who wants to sweeten a poor and alienated neighbor’s year end party is like.”

She smiles warmly, and he turns to look at her more earnestly, “From this moment on, I don’t want you to stand (attention) in Pyung-Chang-Dong (his mother’s house) living room. Try to erase all bad memories from here, and I want you to live here remembering only the present moment while you eat, sleep, and tell jokes.”

Looking at him fondly while smiling, she nods yes, “Thank you. You’re so adorable.” But she can’t resist, “But you did it rather economical (this time).”

He looks irked, “Iish. That tree is not the kind of tree you think it is…”

Smiling, “I’m sure it isn’t. I’m sure the tree was organically nurtured and cultivated one tree stump by one tree stump through the Norway Ministry of Forest or something like that, right?”

“Wow…” He is impressed. He abruptly changes the subject, “When does Ms. Ah-young usually come home?”

“Why do you ask?”

Smiling and calling on his cell phone, “That’s okay. Never mind.”

When the call goes through, “Secretary Kim, it’s me. Tonight, I want you give Ms. Lim Ah-young a night job. Make sure you keep her there till the morning.”

Instead of Secretary Kim, Ah-young giggles on the other line, “Don’t worry. Have a nice time.”

Unhappy RI takes the cell phone from him, “Are you crazy? It’s so embarrassing, why are you doing this?”

Wearing a mischievous grin, he stoops his face lower to her level and in a low seductive voice, “Why do you think I’m doing this?”

Alarmed, she backs away from him, “Hey! Get away from me.”

He suavely slithers closer to her, “Because the house is small, you’re not going to get too far.”

Raising her voice and backing away in a zigzag fashion, “Hey, I’m serious. Get away from me.”

He raises his voice along with her, “What? We are all consenting adults here. Huh? (What’s the problem?)”

She backs herself toward the bed trying to avoid his thrusting face and ends up sitting on it – the bed, “Really. Don’t you come near me.”

“Really, what? What do you think I’m going to do to you?”

When she doesn’t say anything, he chides her, “You have a lewd mind.”

He grabs her hands in his and brings them to their heart level, “I was going to do this… to hold your hands. Why is doing something so simple (like holding hands) so difficult for us? At last, I finally get to do it. Finally.” She smiles at that. They stare at each other for a long time smiling, and JW squeezes her cheek to lighten the mood.

The Sweetest Revenge

JW’s mother hears about the kiss from her lackey, and in retaliation, she has Ah-young fired. When JW and RI find out about it, they both converge in front of the JW’s mansion in episode 14, 29:36. He stops RI from entering the house, “I’ve heard the news. I’ll take care of it.”

“I’ll have to do it.”

“How are you going to do what?” He wants her to go back, and RI tells him that AH couldn’t even tell her that she got fired. AH told her that she quit instead.

Ever so analytical, he grills her, “So what is your plan? You’re going to tell her (his mother) you’re going to part with me again?”

She doesn’t say anything. He chides her for not calling him first. “Is my mother the CEO of the department store?”

“It’s because I know this is not the end. It will start with Ah-young, and the next target might be the Action School.”

“All the more reason why I have to solve this. Just because a guy like me chases you around infatuated, you really don’t have any ideas about how we think, do you? Just leave everything to me. I’m more competent than you think I am.” I think he means knowing him doesn’t mean RI automatically knows how other rich people think, especially his mother.

“What are you going to do? You have a plan?”

“Yes.” He pauses for more dramatic effect, “I’m going to tell my grandfather on her (his mother).”

She is shocked, “What? (That’s your plan?)”

RI glares at him, and I think, her father agrees with her assessment of his plan. What was a bright blue sky suddenly turns into gray and angry clouds, and it starts to pour. And then the blue lights envelop both of them, switching their souls again. It is at this switched state they encounter his mother.


In episode 14, 32:04, the rain-drenched two lovebirds are sitting in the witch’s living room facing her. RI* (RI in JW’s body) speaks first, “It’s a cowardly act to take it out on her friend.”

Thinking she’s talking to her son, “Did I enter an Olympic contest with you? You thought I was going to play fair in this matter?”

JW* (JW in RI’s body) pipes in, “Regardless, what you are doing is so transparent. First, her friend, then her job, the next step is to buy off the landlord and kick her out of her house, and then comes her deportation. You were going to proceed in this sequence, right?”

The witch is amazed, “Uuh… How did you know? You’ve experienced all these already?”

RI* answers her, “No. This is the first time.”

His mother, thinking she’s talking to JW, tells RI* to shush.

The witch turns to JW*, “So, since you know my moves already, you’re going to continue to see him?”

JW*: “No. I will not.” At this, RI*, surprised, turns to look at JW*.

His mother is pleased, “Good. That’s wise.”

JW* is not finished, “We are just going to live together.”

His mother is shocked, “What?” And RI* is not kosher, either, “Hey!”

JW* explains, “I cannot part with your son. This is (actually) all for his own good, because, if we part in this situation, he could die from lovesickness.”

His mother is visibly distraught, “What? Lovesickness?”

JW* strikes while the iron is hot, “Ms. Lim Ah-young was a devoted worker for 5 years. She cannot be fired without just cause even by the CEO’s family. If you interfere in personnel matters again, I’m going to report you immediately to the labor union.”

His mother looks completely defeated.

JW* drives a final nail, “So, don’t meddle in our affairs again. If you really cannot stomach seeing us together, then we’ll just go abroad.”

RI* looks at JW* in a different light.

JW*, I think, is savoring the moment immensely, “You really… don’t want to see your son? You want me to… make that happen?”

His mother suddenly has a massive tension headache, and she tries to grab onto anything. Looking at RI*, “Kim Joo-won, why are you quiet? What do you think of all this?” She motions in the direction of JW* with her head.

RI* replies, “I agree with everything she said.” That gets a glance from JW*.

RI* continues to look at his mother, “From now on, I’m going to trust this person.”

His mother is not having a good day, “What? What?”

JW* gets up and tells his mother, “Then, we’ll be leaving now.” To RI*, “Let’s go.”

In keeping with their true characters, before leaving, JW* doesn’t bow, but RI* does.

Joo-won is not as cowardly as he thinks, after all.

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27 thoughts on “The Secret Garden, the 11th – 14th episodes

  1. i think she said/meant the tree was pretty. thats the word i heard…and also doesnt seem like RI at all to call JW “adorable”. she’d likely barf before she could even say the word lol

  2. thanks for the super long recap….love your recaps…was in a pensive mod with all the spoiler for this week episodes…this cheer me right up….

  3. Welcome back to “work,” Michael. And thanks for the recap & explanations of Korean terms! That was a long one – 4 episodes!!!

    As for the most “Westernized” kiss… lmao… I hadn’t even thought of it that way – my brain short-circuited. And when it came back on much later after numerous kiss scene repeats, all I could think of was “OMG, OMG…. (shriek)… FINALLY! A REAL KISS!” (You know… none of that 2 lips meet, frozen in time, while the camera pans around the supposedly-in-love couple. Leaves. Me. Cold.)

    What a truly awesome way to end the k-drama year: “Westernized” kiss between 2 leads who sizzle onscreen together + (and this is totally way off base) a totally hot lean mean fighting machine, Won Bin in Ajusshi! Yep. I’m happy. This is all about me. ^^

  4. Bienvenidos Michael!!! being stuck at an airport (damn you US Air!!!) and reading this fabulous review has made this business trip from hell all the more bearable.

    That line about the crazy bitch was from Gossip Girl. It’s my favorite line!

    I have to hear this from a guy’s perspective, I completely agree with Joo Won’s assessment of the state of their relationship in terms of social status. But come on now, you don’t think RaIm had a point, who wants to start something knowing that it will end? That’s such a depressing and pessimistic thought! In most cases, we approach relationships knowing that there is a gamble but nothing in terms of a fated end already written in stone.

    And I love his mother for some sadistic reason or another but I highly doubt Joo Won is going to let her essentially disinherit him. I think he has said it again and again when he questioned why “sacrifice” was part of being with someone. Yes, we all do “sacrifice” ( I say compromise!) but for him, he no doubt is devising a plan to keep his money too as well as Ra Im, don’t you think?

  5. I’ve been waiting for this ^^ As always it was so much fun reading your recap and review. Love Seul as she quotes Gossip Girl. I hope she will get her happy ending with Oska too. I do have found the kiss captivating too *like everyone else, replay it over and over* ^_^ Btw I’ve watched The World They Lived In, Binnie and SHK kisses a lot in that drama; peck, light, heavy, forced you named it, but I didn’t find myself youtube those kisses nor replay them, I like TWTLI though. Thank you Michael.

  6. I just found you site and I love it! I am learning Korean now and explaining many of the terms used in the drama helps out a lot! Thank you 🙂

  7. Michael, this was an AWESOME review. Thanks for the time you put into it, it is well appreciated. Once I started, it was very difficult to stop even after working a 12 hour night shift. Thanks also for the Korean terms, etc. When I think about that wicked mother of JW’s, I can only visualize the wicked witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz too, you hit that one right on the head….Bravo. When I see that woman, the only thing that comes to mind is when Dorothy is in the house as the house is picked up by the wind, and as the house is violently flown through the air and the winds stirs and catches objects and people in the wind, I see that wicked mother of JW’s madly peddling her bicycle… LOL.

    Thanks again, for doing such a great job. I really enjoyed it. Truth be told, you are the best!

  8. that was a lovely read, and i like the extra touch of explaining the korean terms. thanks for your hard work, michael! much appreciated!

  9. that was a very lovely post…and while I was watching that “party kiss”, I also yelled..”get a room” and my brain froze and sizzled like Ra-im’s favorite grilled pig skin and (me) became incoherent

  10. Thanks for the recap! At last , a writer’s mind’s point of view! Thanks for the in-depth analysis of the show!
    It truly is a worthy read!

  11. Thank you everyone for enjoying and loving the SG recaps.

    But all these recaps would not be possible without a very special lady… a drum roll, please… the incomparable, multitalented, and lovely thunderbolt, otherwise simply and elegantly known as thundie. She not only proofreads all my recaps so that I don’t come across as a blathering idiot, she also does all the screen caps which takes an inordinate amount of time. And all these efforts are unseen and thus go largely unappreciated. So, I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to our tireless leader for all that she does. Thank you, thundie, for all your encouragement as well as your much appreciated sweat (figuratively, of course). I’ve learned a long ago that women don’t sweat, they glow.

    Thank you, anhsfoodblog and martha.

    Thanks, roza. Wow, from Indonesia.

    Regarding RI calling JW “adorable,” nhyn, a (hopeless romantic) guy can dream, no? 🙂 In Korean language this kind of problem arises because a sentence, especially in a conversation, it is common not to have a specific subject. I went back and re-watched the scene, and I can definitely see your perspective. It is possible that RI was referring to the tree and/or the decorations as “pretty.” But from a romantic point of view, I don’t want to concede the point that easily for several reasons. One, JW “whispered” uncharacteristically sweet “nothings” to her for a change. Thus, I think it is logical (and romantic) for a grateful RI to consider JW at that moment to be “adorable.” Two, (yi-bba-da 이쁘다) means pretty, but it can also mean sweet if applied to a person and if that person does a deed so sweet and cute, well, that person can naturally be considered extremely huggable or adorable. You’re right about RI’s most likely reaction to barf before she’s caught using words like ‘adorable,’ but I think RI is feminine enough to use words like sweet and cute, however. And third, even for tough and rough RI, it seems somewhat boorish for her to just thank him for his sweet words and deeds and not tell him that he’s sweet. 🙂

    Thanks, Sara, for cheering me up. 🙂

    It’s great to be back, lilone, and thank you. I totally agree with the “sizzling, totally hot, lean, mean fighting machine” part, except, to me, it applies to Ha ji-won. 🙂

    Absolutely, bella. I agree with you on both points. I definitely thought RI had a very valid point. Who in their right mind, regardless of gender, would go into a relationship knowing there is no future. My point was that in JW’s present state of conscious awareness, he still hasn’t gotten over his fear of losing all his material things, so I rather he be truthful with her than be romantic for the sake of being romantic. Although given his “superior” IQ, I’m sure, as you thought, he would’ve thought of something to thwart his mother on this issue. And thank you for the Gossip Girl. As soon as Seul said, ‘drama,’ I automatically thought Korean drama, and then she pronounced ‘girl,’ more like ga-ri (거리) which in Korean means street.

    Thank you, Tari. And also for the TWTLI info; I may have to check that out.

    You’re welcome, buhdoop, and thank you for visiting our site. Glad to be of help in your learning Korean.

    Thank you, luliqz1. You’re so sweet.

    Thank you, Jewels, for such kind words. After a hard day’s work, I’m glad and grateful that you found this to be relaxing and engrossing.

    Thank you, snow. I have, in the past recaps, attempted the Korean explanation only because it was necessary to get the point across, but now I’m consciously adding more if I deem it to be important or likely to be frequently encountered in future kdama in general.

    Haha, crazyforasiandrama, I love your reaction to the kiss. 🙂

    Thank you, M. I’m glad we were able to deliver exactly what you need. 🙂 We are grateful you came.

    And thank you, Sean, for your incredibly kind words of praise.

    • Michael! You’re making me blush from head to toe! 😳 I’m so tickled pink I’m practically glowing, haha!!

      Thank you for that undeserved praise. I love working on the screencaps because that means I get to read your so-very-addictive-and-awesomesauce recaps before anyone else! Truth is, I love reading your recaps more than watching the drama. Your words are magic and you make the scenes come alive. Thank you!!

  12. Michael, thanks for the long, long recap of four episodes. I’ve been visiting your blog so many timess, hoping to read your recap, which usually provides so many details missing from the other blogs which I’d read earlier. But thanks to all the blogs, now we non-Korean viewers have been able to make more sense of the drama we’re enjoying blindly (now that doesn’t make sense, what I mean is maybe “senselessly”? That’s even worse, but just take it that I just love watching Korean dramas even though clueless most of the time). One American friend remarks,”Amazing”, when I told her I’ve been busy watching Korean dramas online with no Korean at all. She must b thinking I’m crazy as JW is, but thanks to recaps and the subtitles provided by those selfless people, we can at least understand the main story lines and some of the dialogues. Michael, I hope you’ll continue to give us your marvellous recaps till the end of SG.

  13. thank you so much michael for this amazing write up. i saw this earlier but didn’t have the time to read so what i did was print it out and read it on my way to somewhere and it was so lovely. where did you learn english cuz i never learned to use english words as beautifully as you do. you are a great rep. for the 1.5 gen. hee. i’ve stopped watching this i just never got into it despite trying over and over again and i figured out why, it’s because i am not attracted to any of the men in the drama. sure hyunbin is handsome but he is looking too girly to me maybe the skinny factor. and oska.. i cannot stand his nasal voice. lol. but i love reading your write up because i feel like it’s what the writer is intending to write only i am unable to get that. so thank you.

    and thank you thundie for all your sweat and heart. michael says you are glowing. he’s such a romantic gentleman. or the biggest flirt. keke.

    off to stalk lee tae gon or one of many other manly hotties in kdramaland …

    thanks again. really appreciate all the effort and sharing.

  14. Hi Michael,

    Really love your recaps. Have not yet watched these episodes – but you have brought the story alive.

    I’m sure you captured every pertinent detail. And thanks thundie for the screen caps and everything really (miss our SKKS wild parties)

    Happy New Year to you both

  15. Thanks Michael. I have an interest in translation and I love reading your little notes on Korean terms.

    I can’t claim to have read all the recaps out there about secret garden, but your interpretation of Joo Won going back to Ra Im’s house to bang on her door after the talk with his mother as JW deciding that he is willing to give it all up, was new and interesting.

    I remember feeling a bit confused while watching that scene because I couldn’t see JW doing that, giving up what he has. In character, I thought he would fight to have it all. But I see what you mean, he may be willing to give it up symbolically because he loves Ra Im just that much but he is also an intelligent, headstrong man who is confident in his abilities. He might not really believe he needs to give up anything. At this point, he actually hasn’t said that he was going to marry her anyway or spend the rest of his life with her.

  16. Wow Michael! You really write so well. Thanks so much for this wonderful recap. (thanks also to Thundie). I love it. I’ve been watching Korean drama for several months now (becoming addicted, actually, but that’s another story) and I’d like to tell you that it is so difficult for someone like me to capture all of the insights you share. First, I am Filipina, so I don’t understand Korean and thus have to rely on those necessary translations. However, when I watch with subs, the reading distracts me from the subtle signs being shown. Hard to multitask, reading while watching. Well I guess even when I rewatch, I’ll still miss out a lot of those yummy details because of the language barrier. Your recaps fill in the gaps, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for making the drama more meaningful for me and others. I hope you will continue to write stuff like this, rest assured your efforts and outputs are greatly appreciated. Happy new year!

  17. Thank you, outofcontrol. I remember when I was 11 years old living in Korea and watching a movie in English in a theater and having to multitask and rely on subtitles, so I know what you mean. I’m happy that what we’re doing here is making the viewing experience that much more meaningful. Happy New Year!!

    joonni, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think JW will try his best to keep both RI and his wealth, but if he had to choose, I think he’ll choose RI. Regarding your last comment about JW not “saying” he is going to marry RI or spend the rest of his life with her, I know many American women put tremendous importance on whether “he didn’t say he love me” or whether “he never asked to marry me.” But in Korean culture, I think it’s a bit different. Because, to me, I think JW already “said” a lot. Even though I have been in the U.S. since I was 12 years old, I still think like a Korean, and if I were in JW’s position and I’m pursuing her with that much passion and ardor, I wouldn’t be doing all that if I didn’t have the intention of marrying her and spend the rest of my life with her.

    Thank you, thundie. And sorry for making you all pink and bothered (innocent connotation here :)) especially involuntarily, but I wanted you to get your due credit for all that you do.

    Thank you, silvermine, for reading our recaps. Happy New Year!

    Thank you, dramaok, for that …uh… glowing praise. 🙂 I must confess that’s how I am as well. No matter how great a movie or a drama may be, if I don’t like the lead actress, I most likely won’t watch it.

    Thank you, Khin New Aye. Your American friend is right. You are “amazing,” because I couldn’t watch a foreign movie without subtitles. It would drive me nuts. Regarding my finishing the recaps, absolutely. I intend to do SG recaps to the sweet end – but not to the bitter end(ing), hopefully. 🙂

  18. Hi Michael,

    First time commenting although I’ve read and enjoyed all of your SG recaps. I haven’t been particularly enamored of SG (in fact, I’ve pretty much stopped watching altogether), but I wish that I saw as much heart in the drama as you have in your writing! With the extra asides and your explanations of intent and language, it’s tempting to read your recap first and then watch the episode after. So if I ever do resume watching, it’s likely thanks to you! Regardless, it’s always a pleasure to read a recap by someone who is throughly enjoying a drama, whether or not you are yourself.

    Great job! 🙂

  19. Hi Michael,

    Just finished watching ep. 18. Those two last shows were angst-ridden and a real sobfest, so I just had to revisit all your previous recaps for the sweetness and the beauty of when these two first fell headlong into love. Your insightful writing is unique and uplifting. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to read your thoughts about the succeeding episodes. no pressure… (^_^)

  20. You are awesome. I especially enjoy all the diction/grammatical explanations you give us. They really help enhance my watching of the show. Thanks!

  21. He hugs her “hard”. *fufufu* You sure have stile to express double-meanings. *g*

    Dear, Michael, I need to confess. I love your entries. Thanks to you I’m enjoying Secret Garden one more time – more than before. *fufufu*
    Just reading this part I even start to like the scene because this circle run about sleeping together on a bed sure made me furious. It was way too annyoing that Ra-im could be so … actually I have no word for it. Even not in my own language. What the drama has as juice in it’s lines it lacks in it’s action.
    That alone makes your posts awesome. I’m waiting for more guest entries everyday. ^^

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