The Secret Garden, the 15th & 16th episodes

We don’t see much of romantic love in these two episodes, but that’s okay because we see a different kind of love. A love between parents and offspring – a love where one parent sacrifices his life for somebody else’s kid, and a love of a mother for the very kid, however misguided it may be, brings once a seemingly indomitable force to her knees.

Being stuck in an elevator for the second time in 13 years brings back the partial memory for JW, while RI hears from his mother, what JW is beginning to suspect, that they lost someone “precious” that fateful day.

Rain appears to be symbolic of our two lovebirds’ destiny. RI’s father beseeched God for rain on that fateful day. Perhaps there was fire in the building or in the elevator, maybe from an electric malfunction, an accident, or arson. Whether rain came that day is beside the point. Rain appears to change our lovebirds into each other, as the need arises, intertwining the lives of the two like no other, but it may also potentially save the two kids – one by birth and the other by the virtue of his very own death – whom RI’s father loved the most.

For RI, was the salvation not getting the Dark Blood audition? Or is there some other “sickness” still hovering around her soul? Will JW ever overcome his claustrophobia? Or is that the least of his problem when compared to his overbearing personality and his apparent inability to free himself from the claws of his mother and the shackles of his love for the glitzy lifestyle? Will RI’s love and his love for her cure his “fatal disease?” We shall see… if the writer will grant us our fix for a happy ending.

A Secret Shared

In episode 15, Oska becomes embarrassed when he realizes that RI saw his birthday suit, while the director Lim is incensed that in her body, JW, not RI, told him never to confess to RI as long as he lived. As the two lovebirds are walking downstairs in JW’s house in 07:37, RI* laments the fact that Oska may think the worst of her, “What should I do? Ah… What should I do?”

“What’s the matter?”

“Oska oppa is going to think, from now on, I’m very strange.”

JW* is not happy, “Issh. Is that oppa that important (to you)? Are you dating that oppa?” Motioning his head to himself, he reminds her, “You’re dating this oppa.”

Patiently, RI* tries to explain, “Beyond man and woman relationship, Oska oppa and I have that special bond (of closeness) between us, you know.”

Glibly, “That’s good, because now you don’t have to see Oska, and I don’t have to go to the Action School. What do you think? To tell you the truth, between Lim director and me, beyond man to man relationship, we have that special homicidal bond between us, you know.”

Irritated, RI* yells, “Ah, you really…” More calmly, “Did the director leave?”

Nonchalantly and still with that cocky grin, “Who cares?” JW* then saunters over and sits on the sofa with his feet on the coffee table. He then pounds the spot next to him as he tells RI*, “Come here (and sit).”

Still miffed, “Why?”

Brooking no disobedience, JW* barks, “Uh-huh!” which is an expression typically from an elder scolding a younger person (grandfather to his offspring or king to his subject, for example) for doing something unsatisfactory or unpleasing to the elder.

RI* pouts and turns to walk away. JW* gets up from the sofa, “Hey! Stop right there. If I catch you, your punishment would be severe. One, po-ong (포옹), two, hug, three, ggyu-ahn-gi (껴안기). The feeling from the three roars (of displeasure) doesn’t bode well for you.” The three roars of displeasure refer to the three counts he gave to RI*. Po-ong (포옹) and ggyu-ahn-gi (껴안기) are different ways of saying, hug or embrace. It’s a uniquely Korean variation of – ‘If you don’t come back here on a count of three, I’m going to punish you.” The punishment being hugs.

Of course, JW* should know by now that he’s not dealing with just any woman. RI* turns around and pretends to kick JW*’s shin, and that stops JW*… for now.

In episode 15, 38:33, JW* does the count of three again as they walk down the same steps in his house after an unsuccessful search for the magical liquor in the Secret Garden. JW* tells RI*, “What kind of punishment are you willing to accept for the unproductive visit (to the Secret Garden)?”

RI* reminds him, “You’re the one who wanted to go, you know.”

“Then I’ll accept the punishment. You choose. One, po-ong (포옹), two, hug, three, ggyu-ahn-gi (껴안기), four…”

JW* stops talking as his mother is there with all his belongings. She is ready to kick him out of his own house. Mommy dearest strikes again.

In episode 15, 19:38, after the magical veil lift, when RI is in deep thoughts about her director’s wish that she quit the stuntwoman’s job and be an actress instead because he doesn’t want him or her to get a call after midnight about injury or demise of one of their comrades, JW sits in front of her in a cafe. JW can’t help but tease her, “Look here, look here. You’re drinking cappuccino again.” Referring to the milk foam kiss incident.

RI gives him a reproachable look, and when she gets a call and she imitates her cell phone ring, JW is not happy, “Aai, I told you not to do that with my face.”

Ignoring him, she checks the text message and can’t hide her happiness that she has been chosen for the Dark Blood final audition. When JW balks at auditioning, disappointed RI tells him, “But we have practiced (so hard together) thus far.”

“That’s because I didn’t want you to feel bad so I went along with you. How can I really audition? Say something that makes sense. You don’t really think I’ll be picked, do you?”

Feeling calmer, “No. I’m not doing this because I want to be picked. Even if I do it, there is no guarantee that I’ll be picked.”


“Because I can’t just (sit and) do nothing. (It’s just that) it has always been my lifetime dream to be in an audition like this.” JW looks very engaged.

RI goes on, “So, I was hoping you will just stand in for me.” She goes on to tell him that one person other than a contestant can watch the audition and that just watching it can be a big experience for her.

She implores him, “I beg you.” Literal: <I request this (favor) of you.>

He tries to reason with her, “(You know) this is not something that will happen just because you want it. I understand how you feel, but how can I can do that? I can’t even ride an elevator.”

Surprised, “(You can’t) ride an elevator?”

Her cell phone rings, and he’s at a loss for words, “I’ll tell you later.” <There is something like that.>

It’s her director, and he wants her to come to the Action School to discuss the audition matter. Once in the school, when the director finds out and starts to lambaste RI for training JW to stand in for her, JW gets his manly pride hurt. In episode 15, 23:25, JW* glares at the director, “What are you going to do if I do it?”

“What?” The director is not sure if he heard it right.

The magical veil lifts JW & RI to their rightful places.

JW repeats, “I said, what are you going to do if I do it?”

Lim doesn’t look like he believes JW can do it.

RI, however, is excited, “Really?”

JW looks at her earnestly, “Yes. I’ll do it. If this is what you want that badly, if Gil Ra-im’s life (time dream) depends on it, then I’ll do it. You never know, a miracle might happen.”

RI smiles at him fondly and happily, but that’s because she doesn’t know that there is a catch.

“But, on one condition.” Her expression changes, “A condition?”

Back in JW’s house, we see what the condition was. RI* is shocked to see JW* coming into the house with oodles of bags. The magical veil lifts again. JW comes face to face with RI.

RI is completely puzzled, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Matter-of-factly, “To live together. We’ve already talked about it.”

Lifting his arm toward her, “Since I lifted your bags, your arm hurts. Message it.” Notice he said, ‘your arm.’

She, in an incredulous expression, hurriedly puts the arm down, “If it weren’t for my body trying out for the audition, at the price of giving myself a bruise I would punch you one.”

JW smiles maddeningly sweetly, “If incoming words are sweet, the outgoing audition would be sweet also.” This is a variation of a very common saying in Korea, ‘If incoming words are sweet, then outgoing words would also be sweet,’ basically meaning if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you, or as per the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Angrily, RI orders him, “I want you to go back right now.”

Still smiling, “Then, I won’t audition.”


Ignoring her, he looks upward to the second floor, “Since there is only one bed, let’s share it.”

“Are you crazy?”

JW’s reply is lightning quick, “Then, I won’t audition.”

RI just sighs, and JW doesn’t give her much wiggling room to rebut, “There is also only one bathtub (욕조).” Smiling suggestively, “Sharing that would be the right thing to do, no?”

Bathtub: yok-jo (욕조) is same as yok-tong (욕통) which is short for mok-yok-tong (목욕통). Mok-yok (목욕) is bath, and tong (통) is a tub. The variation of these words will appear again later.

Menacingly, RI tells JW, “You’re really going to get a spanking.”

Glibly, “Then, I won’t audition.”

She screams, “You want to die?”

“From now on, I’m not even going to let you go to work. I already sent an email to Secretary Kim. Starting tomorrow, we’re going to have the meetings at home, because you can’t bluster your way through these meetings by acting.” Smiling a little creepily, “Thus, we are now going to be together 24 hours a day.”

RI doesn’t look completely grossed out by the prospect, but she doesn’t look overjoyed, either.

JW is positively gloating, “Ah, I should’ve done this long time ago. I wonder why I haven’t thought of this before.” Smiling, he walks away toward the second floor, “I’m taking a shower.”

Realizing that she’s not following him, he stops and turns around, “You’re not coming?” Coyly (yes, as in nauseatingly sweet), “We agreed we’d wash together.” I guess the washing part, he thinks, is all inclusive in the term, living together.

“You’re really asking for it, aren’t you?”

“Then, I won’t audition.”

She’s had enough and lets out a big, frustrated yell, “HEY!”

Completely unfazed, he imitates her with a similar facial expression.

A Secret Divulged

In episode 15, 25:27, the two lovebirds are lying on his bed, RI on her back with her eyes closed, while JW is lying on his side observing her, “Are you sleeping?” She doesn’t reply. He repeats, “Are you really sleeping?” When she moves her lips but doesn’t reply, he tells her gently, “I know you’re not sleeping.”

With her eyes still closed, “I’m curious about something.”

“What is it?”

She opens her eyes, takes a few seconds to collect her thoughts, and turns to look at him, “The medicine bottle in the bathroom (욕실), what kind of medicine is it?”

Bathroom: yok-sil (욕실) is short for mok-yok-sil (목욕실). Mok-yok (목욕) is bath, and sil (실) is a room. Another common word is hwha-jang-sil (화장실) where hwha-jang (화장) is makeup (cosmetics), and sil (실) is a room – similar to ladies room or powder room. A slightly crass but also commonly used word is byun-so (변소) where byun (변) is short for both dae-byun (대변) and so-byun (소변) which is defecation and urination, respectively, and so (소) is a place, short for jang-so (장소). You can see why this word is considered slightly crass.

He doesn’t really answer her question, “What… medicine bottle?”

“Is it serious enough for you to keep it a secret?” She means a serious medical condition.

He debates for a while before he finally speaks slowly, “Have you ever heard of claustrophobia (폐소공포증)?”

Pae-so (폐소) is an enclosed space, gong-po (공포) means phobia, and jung (증) means a condition.

“Feeling anxious from being in a confined space, something like that?”

“It would be okay if it was just anxiety. I go way beyond anxiety. I feel terrified. So, I can’t ride an elevator at all.”

It begins to make sense for RI.

He goes on to say that he could lose consciousness or in a worst scenario he could even have a heart attack. He tells her that it is a secret and that she has to keep it to herself.

She reflects on it, “So that’s why when I wanted to ride the elevator, they were all taken back.”

“You rode an elevator?”

“The first time we had the body switch and when I went to work, because I had no idea.”

Smiling, “Thanks to you, Director Park must have been royally confused.”

He smiles wider and warmly, “You did good.”

RI smiles back and turns to look at the ceiling. The magical veil switches them again.

JW* creeps closer to his body (RI*), “But, you know, the more I look…”

RI* is beginning to get crept out by his demeanor, “What? What’s the matter?”

In an astounded tone, looking closely at his face, “I’m really good looking. How can people (even) talk to me… without being awe-struck.”

Disgusted, “(You) crazy…” And then she turns the other way.

Still smiling teasingly, “You want an arm pillow?”

“It’s my arm, you know.”

“What kind of woman can be so stiff (건조해)?”

Stiff: gun-jo hae (건조해): gun-jo (건조) means stiff, antisocial, humorless, dry, etc, and hae (해) or ha-da (하다) means being (‘a’ in ha-da sounds like ‘ah.’).

JW* continues, “You turn your back (on me), huh?” <You just lie there on your arms (ignoring me)>

“Are you going to turn around or not? Huh?”

Stuck in Elevator, again

In episode 16, 01:00, JW is stuck in an elevator thanks to Director Park. Earlier, RI* was called by JW’s grandfather to the office when RI* and JW* were about to audition, and RI* decides to show the staff, especially the director Park, that JW can ride the elevator. The director stops the elevator because he wants to confirm his suspicion about JW’s medical condition. At that moment, rain comes, and their souls go back to their own bodies. When JW realizes that he’s stuck in the elevator, he goes into total panic mode with difficulty breathing, sweating, staccato speech, and inability to support his weight.

As he is gasping for air on the floor, we hear RI’s father’s voice as he recounts the event which happened 13 years ago when he perished while saving JW:

Dear God, when I’m called upon for my duty,

Even in a blazing inferno, give me strength to save one soul.

Dear God, I’m fearful as before, and I pray for rain.

At this point, RI calls JW, and he barely answers his cell phone. When RI calls his name, JW has enough self-awareness to blame RI even with the last ounce of energy, “I’ve told you not to ride the elevator…” He then drops the phone, and goes into further oblivion.

While RI calls his name repeatedly and frantically, her father speaks again:

When the precious life hangs in the balance,

Please let me be ready.

God, if I lose my life according to your will,

I pray that with your grace,

You’d look after my wife and my family.

Even in her hysteria, when JW doesn’t answer her, she has enough gumption to call Ah-young to have Secretary Kim bring help to the elevator. She then calls 119 to send an ambulance to the Loel Department Store elevator because a claustrophobic patient is stuck in an elevator. In Korea, calling an emergency number 119 to have an ambulance come to take you to an emergency room is a free public service.

In episode 16, 06:33, when both RI and Secretary Kim have no idea as to the well-being of JW, the good doctor comes out of the private room. She tells him in answer to Secretary Kim as to whether JW is okay and whether he is awake, “To prevent the news from leaking, he said to announce that he is sick from the flu from overworking. For him to worry about spin control, wouldn’t you say he must be alive and well?”

RI is visibly comforted by the news, and the doctor finally notices RI, “It’s been a while.” It’s a short, but a proper Korean way of saying ‘How have you been, I haven’t seen you in a while.’

RI doesn’t recognize her, “Do you… know me?”

The doctor is initially puzzled, but she interprets it this way, “You must want me to keep our visit a secret.” She smiles wanly, “(Okay,) I can do that. Please go in.”

RI knocks timidly and opens the door. JW gets up from the bed and looks at her wearily. RI speaks first, “Are you okay? Are you (really) okay?”

“What exactly were you doing in an elevator?” His voice starts to rise, “Weren’t you listening to what I said before?” Now his voice hits a crescendo, “I’ve told you I can’t ride an elevator!” I guess he’s okay.

About to cry, “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I just wanted to show (everybody) that you can ride an elevator. I’ve never imagined that it would stop. I’m really sorry.”

Still looking at her severely, “Come near me.”

She gingerly walks over to him, and when she’s sufficiently close to him, he grabs her arm and pulls to hug her. RI’s tears start to flow, which intensifies when he tells her gruffly but tenderly, “I thought I would never see you again, woman.”

Now crying openly in his arm, “And I also thought I would never see you again, that something would happen to you…”

He consoles her, “I am sorry. Don’t cry.”

They finally separate, and he asks her, “How was the audition? You did well?”

When she doesn’t say anything, he asks her, “Why don’t you say anything? Surely you… didn’t audition?”

“When did I have time to worry about audition?”

“What? Are you telling me you came here without auditioning then?”

When she doesn’t deny it, he has a fit, “Are you out of your mind?” He then rips out his IV and tells her to turn around so that he can get dressed. It always amazes me how, in kdrama when a person rips the IV out, there is not a drop of blood anywhere and that nobody bothers to check or apply pressure to the IV site. Must have a great clotting system, all these actors.

The Audition

In episode 16, 14:00, after they confirm that RI had missed her chance for audition, they return to her house. He hugs her, trying his best to console her, “Don’t look so woebegone. I’ll arrange it so that you can audition again.”

She comes out of the hug and looks at him with hope, “How?”

“However (way).” In whatever way it takes. “I’ve told you before. I’m much more competent than you think.”

She looks at him with so much hope that it’s hard not to feel for her, “Pee (피), you are going to tell your grandfather (on him – the director Leon Jackson who missed her audition)?”

Pee (피) is not what you think. It’s something you say when you don’t believe what the other person is telling you. It has connotation of mild derision but not necessarily in a bad way. Another meaning of pee (피) is blood.

JW smiles, “That’s the last resort.” A tear starts to fall on her face.

“Don’t cry. I don’t want see you cry ever again. It takes too much (emotional) toll on me.”

“I really wish a miracle like that could happen.”

“Please have faith in me. I will make your miracle happen for you.”

Tears flow from RI some more, and he hugs her again, he seemingly in more pain than her, “I told you not to cry.” She sniffles some more.

In episode 16, 20:00, since Oska knows how to speak Japanese and has some influence in that country, JW asks him to find out the director Leon Jackson’s telephone number. When Oska does, JW thanks him in his own idiosyncratic way, “I’ll thank you later.” Oska doesn’t seem to appreciate it, “With that same spirit, you could’ve thanked me already.”

A Private Spoof

In episode 16, 26:38, after arranging for director Leon Jackson to see RI in action, RI runs into JW after the private audition except that RI doesn’t know she just performed in front of the director. RI and JW stand facing each other. What ensues is their own private spoof of what JW accused RI earlier in one of his insane tirade about how they initially met.

RI can’t help smiling at JW showing up at her audition so unexpectedly. They both speak in an elevated language as if they met for the first time. JW speaks suavely, “You know Chae Wu-young, I mean, Oska, don’t you?”

Instinctively realizing what he’s doing, she smiles and plays along, “Oska?”

“You don’t know (him)?”

“What if I do know him?”

“If you could follow me. Oska’s cousin wants to see you.”

“Me? Are you sure he wants to see a stuntwoman, Gil Ra-im, and not a leading actress?”

“Even to you, he’s a crazy person, no?”

Can’t help smiling, she shrugs her shoulder while nodding, “His taste does run somewhat peculiar.”

They just smile at each other fondly, when they hear Secretary Kim distributing lunch boxes to the staff.

When RI expresses surprise, JW asks her, “What? So that you can berate me again for buying meals? That is not just an ordinary lunchbox. That is our memento. Our memory (together).”

“I didn’t say anything.” More warmly, “Thank you.”

“I did it so that you would be (thankful).” Changing the mood, “Wait here a moment.” Pointing to yonder, “I’m going to have a little chat with that gentleman over there.”

Surprised, “With the director? To talk about what?” She wants to make sure he doesn’t do anything to embarrass her.

“I want to tell him in advance… that to me Gil Ra-im is Jeon Do-yun and Kim Tae-hee.”

She gives him an evil stare while shuddering in embarrassment in advance, “You’re crazy, crazy. By the way, why are you here?”

“Because you’re here. There is no way around it, he who misses you more has to come (first), right?”

She can’t help smiling at that. He tells her he’s going to go now that he has seen her face. He calls his sidekick, and as he walks away he tells Secretary Kim, “Okay, then. Shall we go and destroy the lives of those who stopped the elevator,” as RI continues to smile at him fondly.

The Elevator Incident

In episode 16, 31:49, as RI puts the Dark Blood scenario booklet in her locker in the Action school looking as if she has given up the audition idea, her father speaks:

That’s the way, Ra-im

Don’t look back

You weren’t supposed to do that (the Dark Blood role)

My daughter, you’re okay now

Finally, your father can relax now

In episode 16, 37:15, RI comes to Oska’s house to collect her belongings to move back to her place and ends up getting more of his autographed calendar. Oska tells her that JW’s mother, his aunt, is “driving [him] nuts,” because she wants him to kick her son out of his house. RI asks him, “By the way, I’ve been curious about this for a long time, but why do you let him (JW) win all the time?”

Oska is pleasantly surprised, “Uh? How do you know that I let him win? Everybody else thinks he always gets the best of me.”

“That’s because even when you lose, you seem happy.”

He’s amazed, “Wow, the more I see Ms. Gil Ra-im, the more I’m impressed by you. Please take good care of our Joo-won.” Oska gives his stamp of approval. Only if his aunt was that easy.

As RI is leaving the house thinking about what Oska didn’t tell her about JW’s accident, she runs into JW. JW gets out of his car, and he’s already in a foul mood, “You should’ve told me if you were going to come here. I’ve been to your house (unnecessarily).”

When she, wearing a pensive expression, doesn’t say anything, he comes up with his most logical explanation, “Why? Did hyung (Oska) badmouth me?”

“Our oppa is not that kind of person. I came to collect my stuff.”

JW is not pleased that she uses the word oppa to describe Oska, “Oppa my (derriere)…” He doesn’t finish his thoughts, because he thought of something better, “By the way, did you hear any news from anybody?” He means from the director Leon Jackson.

Completely puzzled, “What news?”

“You didn’t receive any calls of congratulations or something?”

She shrugs her shoulders, “What are you talking about?”

“No, that’s okay. Never mind.” Pointing to her bags, “Give (them to me). You’re headed to your house, right? Let’s have tea together on the way there.”

Looking and sounding like a princess, “I just had tea with our oppa.”

Baring his teeth, “Iish. I just asked you for a date, woman!”

Calm and collected, “I know. And just now, you got turned down (from the date offer).”

It’s his turn to be puzzled (and crushed), “What? Why?”

Oh-so-cutely, “So that it’d gnaw on you all day long.”

Floored, “Wow! Just where did you learn something like this?”

In episode 16, 39:47, JW and RI arrive at her house, apparently without stopping for tea. And whether that little sore spot had anything to do with it we’ll never know, but as soon as RI opens the door, JW barges in without waiting for an invitation. RI notices it as well, “Why are you coming in?”

“You think I gave you a ride home just so that I can say goodbye at the door?” He puts the bags down and turns around. Apparently he has built up some hefty gripes over such a short time, “Just because I got kicked out my house, you stopped hugging me, and now you dismiss me at the door?”

“There is our oppa’s house (where you staying right now, so it’s not like you’re homeless).”

He stares at her for a second, and then he grabs her hand, leads her, and tells her to sit down on her bed. Not taking him too seriously, she fumbles with her handbag, “Why?”

He’s serious, “Listen to me very carefully. From now on, don’t call Chae Wu-young (Oska) ‘our oppa.’ From this moment on, your (only) oppa is me.”

RI wears an amused smile, “What?”

“From now on, if you call anybody else oppa, I’ll take that as you’re cheating (on me). For me, couples who trust (each other) and respect the other person’s space, I detest things like that. Understand?”

When she gives him the evil eyes, he upbraids her, “Will you not stare at me with those eyes? For someone who took my heart by being mysterious, took my body with mysterious liquor, and even stole my lips by crashing someone else’s party, how can you look at me so brazenly with those rabbit eyes (토끼눈)?” Rabbit (토끼) eyes (눈) (toh-kki-noon 토끼눈) refers to eyes that are opened big from unexpected surprise or anger. I think it comes from the fact that a rabbit’s eyes will bulge and become big if the bunny is nervous or frightened.

Astounded, “How can you color* it quite that way?” *Color (gak-sack 각색) means changing a story by augmenting, exaggerating, or saying it differently. It also means different color or things.

“You should be thankful that I have such a talent in gak-sack (각색), because if I didn’t have that talent, you couldn’t appear that attractive to me.”

As she circles the January 8, 2011 day on her Oska calendar, she tells him as if she’s bored by his colorful talent, “Before I report you (to the authority) for intrusion, you had better leave.”

Not deterred by her threat, he snatches the calendar and inspects it carefully, “Ah, Ssee (씨). You got another one?” Ssee (씨) is another word commonly used to express displeasure. Ssee (씨) has other meanings such as seed or Mister (or Miss, Mrs.)

That reminds her. RI picks up the calendar on her coffee table with his gratuitous artwork on Oska’s face, “This is your doing, isn’t it? You did this, right?”

Looking righteous, “Not true. Your hands saw everything, one sweat drop (한땀) by one sweat drop.” Because JW did it while in RI’s body.

Not amused, “You really want me to get rid of your bones (한뼈) one by one?”

One sweat drop (한땀): han (한) means one, and ddam (땀) means sweat with both ‘a’ sounding like ‘o’ in ox. One bone (한 뼈): bbyu (뼈) means bone.

“Give it to me.” RI tells JW as she reaches for the calendar. He stretches it farther away from her, “Don’t want to.” Then he asks her, “What is January 8th? What day is that?”

Still acting miffed, “None of your business. Give it to me already.” She reaches across his body for the calendar.

“Okay, here,” He tosses the calendar toward the head of her bed. When she follows its flight, causing her to naturally end up on the bed, he lies down next to her. When she attempts to get up, he grabs her arm and pushes her down onto the bed causing her to shriek briefly.

“Are you crazy? Ah-young could walk in any minute…Ah!” She shrieks again as he pulls her down, again.

He explains the sheer folly of her concern, “Our department store is not that quiescent (널널하다), you know.” Quiescent (널널하다): nul-rul (널널) means idle, quiet, not busy. Ha-da (하다), of course, means being.

RI is not amused, “You really…”

Not missing a beat, “By the way, Ms. (씨) Gil Ra-im has such gorgeous eyes.” Except in Korean, Ms. (Ssee 씨) goes at the end of a name, as in Gil Ra-im씨.

Flattery stops her protest dead on the track. “Which (facial) feature, do you think, would be pretty tomorrow? Should I guess?”

She is quiet and searches his eyes for a bit before answering, “I know it, too.” She then reaches over and gives him a quick buss on the lips. He becomes speechless, as he did not expect that. She tells him sweetly, “I’m paying you back in lump sum for all the hugs I owe you.”

He looks away as if in pain, as he lets out a big air from his lungs, “I can’t do this (anymore). Ms. Ah-young…” Turning back to face her, “has to work nightshift (tonight).”

Fiery-eyed, “Hey!” And then she bites her lower lip partially, looking positively adorable. Hey, I’m just describing it as I see it. Don’t kill the messenger.

In episode 16, 50:25, when JW confronts his doctor friend about why his mother, Oska, and she lied to him about the elevator incident, she asks him why he feels the need to remember the incident. She reminds him that everybody including himself lives every day forgetting something (unpleasant). JW replies pensively, “When you put it that way it makes sense, but I have this feeling that I lost something very precious.”

“Something precious?”

“I don’t remember anything specific. I just have that (gnawing) feeling.”

In episode 16, 51:02, RI and Ah-young are shopping. RI replies,

“What? A terminal disease (불치병)?” A terminal disease (불치병): bool-chi (불치) means intractable or incurable, and byung (병) is disease. Thus, terminal, incurable, or fatal disease.

Obviously, they are talking about what happened recently to JW.

Ah-young meekly asks her, “That’s not true?”

Acting nonchalantly, “What are you talking about? Unless you mean (he has) a Prince Complex.”

AH doesn’t give up, “Don’t just dismiss it like that. It’s possible that he’s hiding it from you. If it’s not a fatal disease, why would anyone healthy collapse in an elevator?”

“A severe flu due to strenuous overwork, you haven’t seen the news?”

More sure of herself, “That’s why it’s even more strange. How can he be overworked when he doesn’t even come to work? He doesn’t work every day…” She now sounds worried, “The rumor is that he has only 3 months to live. (Now, everything makes sense) he didn’t salute back all the employees’ salutation just for trivial reason. That must have been his farewell gesture.”

RI just marvels at her friend’s imagination. To change the subject, “Ah! What do you think about this one?” as she lifts up a man’s jacket. “It looks warm.”

In a subdued tone, “Why? You want to get the president (JW) a gift? I was right, it is 3 months.”

RI gets irritated, “Hey! We came to pick out Secretary Kim’s present, (remember?), because you received those boots.” RI motions with her head to the boots.

AH finally goes back to her cheerful self, “Oh, yeah. You’re right. Don’t mind me (being ditzy).”

Subsequently, they don’t say it out loud, but the reason why RI can’t help AH pick out Secretary Kim’s ties is because RI has to go to her father’s memorial place. After RI leaves, AH says to herself, “I wonder why he (RI’s father) didn’t appear in my dreams lately.” Apparently, RI’s father appears in her dream regularly or perhaps especially near his anniversary of death (gi-il 기일).

In episode 16, 52:20, we see JW’s mother putting a bouquet of flowers in front of RI’s father’s memorial. She looks serious, although she doesn’t look all that grateful. But I guess the fact that she’s here at all every year, paying homage to the man who saved her son, is saying something at least. She is about to leave when she notices RI standing nearby. She murmurs to herself, “Why do I have to run into that thing at a place like this? This is so irritating.”

Gil Ra-im, also carrying a bouquet of flowers, seems quite stunned to see JW’s mother here, of all places, as well. She slowly walks up to his mother and as she bows, “Are you doing well (안녕)?” Ahn-nyung (안녕) means being well.

Suspiciously, “Are you asking me just to goad (약오르다) me?” Goad (약오르다) means to do or say something to irritate or slowly raise the ire in someone. Yak (약) – ‘a’ in ‘ah’ – means irritation or ire, while oh-ra-da (오르다) means to raise.

His mother goes on, “Do you really think I can be well thanks to you?”

RI asks her politely, “I’m sorry. And I apologize for asking, but why did you put the flowers there?” RI points to her father’s memorial.

Ever so sarcastically, “Are you, by any chance, glad to see me because we ran into each other outside?” She barks at RI, “You mind your own business! Why is that of any concern to you?”

“I was wondering if perhaps you came to see my father.”

For the first time, she’s not sarcastic, “What?”

Glancing ever slightly to the memorial, “This person, Gil Ik-son, is my father.”

His mother is shocked, “What?”

Curiously, “Do you know my father?”

His mother clutches her fur coat with her fist as her emotions get hold of her.

The Calm before the Storm

In episode 16, 57:30, RI and JW are walking together, and RI is carrying a grocery bag. Glancing at the bag, JW makes an observation, “You must be quite a chef?”

Without looking at him, “Only because my mom wasn’t around.”

It doesn’t appear to be a look of pity or sympathy, but whatever the reason he keeps staring at her with a perpetual grin on his face. It is probably… an ardor. I don’t want to say anything crass, because dramaok said, half in jest I might add, that I was a gentleman. So I don’t want to burst my newly crafted image.

JW suddenly grabs her shoulder and pulls her against him, “Ah, I’m cold.”

Frowning, she breaks from him, “Ah, don’t do that, I’m tired.”

He does it again, “I’m cold. Endure it.”

She breaks away from him, highly irritated, “Now, really!”

Then more calmly she tells him, “I am hot, you know.”

Curious, “(You’re) hot?”

Both walk slowly on the snow-covered road, “Yes. Whenever I’m with you, I’m hot.”

He smiles as if it’s the best news he’s heard all year, “Really? Seriously? Why, what would you be thinking to make you hot like that?”

RI looks at him slightly contemptuously, but he’s hot on the trail, “Are you, by any chance, thinking the same thing I’m thinking?”

She scoffs at him, but he revels in his thoughts, “I thought every time I looked at you, your hair seemed a little longer.” He strokes her hair as he’s saying this, and she shrieks. He smiles at that.

He puts his face close to hers and whispers suggestively, “You know, we could… tonight…”

She’s faster. She lifts the grocery bag, “I’ll make you dinner.”

He is offended, “I didn’t mean dinner!”

Pouting, “Fine (with me), if you don’t want it.”

Still hopeful, he suggests, “How about tomorrow, then?”

At this moment, RI gets a text message from Ah-young, which says that JW’s mother is at their house. RI makes an excuse about an emergency movie shooting and leaves JW behind. JW yells at the disappearing RI, “Where are you going? Your emergency should always be me (only).”

He also yells that he’ll give her a ride there and that the car is in the opposite direction, but she heeds none of that.

A Secret Revealed

In episode 16, 59:09, RI enters her house and finds JW’s mother with her back turned. His mother slowly turns around, and RI bows slightly. His mother starts, “I came because I figured you will eventually find out. Just in case you use it as a future weapon, I’ve decided to strike you preemptively.”

Tentatively, “I’m not sure exactly what you mean…”

Eerily she drones on, “When our Joo-won was 21 years of age, that winter there was an accident.”

RI’s eyes widen a little. “But Joo-won thinks the accident was just a minor fender bender.” RI begins to surmise where this may be heading. His mother goes on, “Because he doesn’t remember anything, probably due to the severe emotional trauma. After rescuing Joo-won, a fireman died on the job. The reason why I ran into you at the memorial is because of that.”

RI gets emotional as she begins to suspect, “You’re not saying…”

“Yes. That person turned out to be your father.”

RI has a hard time digesting what she just heard, but finally tears start to fall on her face. Seeing the tears, JW’s mother slowly gets down on her knees in front of RI. RI covers her mouth in shock at the astonished spectacle of the haughty evil queen on her knees.

With glistening eyes, his mother begs, “I’ll compensate you with money. With inconceivable amount of money. I don’t care how much (it is that you want).”

While RI looks at her still in shock, his mother’s voice breaks, “So, don’t bind* our Joo-won with this.” *It’s a typical Korean phrase, to hold onto one’s ankle, which means to corner, bind, restrict, have no alternative, etc.

His mother implores her, “Please let him go. I beg of you.” <I’m requesting you like this.> As a tear rolls down her face.

26 thoughts on “The Secret Garden, the 15th & 16th episodes

  1. Michael, you’re a true gentleman. THANK YOU for putting so much effort into these recaps. You do not merely recap the drama, you teach us all something new each time. I’m honored to have you as a friend!

  2. Michael, you are truly a dreamboat!! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and entertaining recaps. The background that you provided on Korean words and their roots was fascinating and greatly appreciated!!!

  3. Thanks so much for this recap, it’s so helpful for someone like me, who wants to learn more about Korean customs, culture and language 🙂

  4. Michael, you have class in spades! Thank you so much for the wonderful recap and I might add that your review brings a whole different level and meaning to their ti gyuk tae gyuk.

    Also, I know you just love the quiet beats in this drama just as much as I do if you add them to your review. Their little bed scene where he told her about his phobia and then the whole, ‘want an arm pillow’ bit just killed me. I don’t think I have been more happy to hear of an impending snowstorm just so I can re-watch certain scenes with your insight into them!

    Looking forward to your thoughts on 17-18 and I know you have heard about the crazy conjecture floating about?!?

  5. heehee thx mr. gentleman ^^ aww JW and LI have couple hair. oh. no miss korea in these episodes…. JW’s attire is very flamboyant for a department store sajang, no? or maybe it’s meant to convey some sort of playful nature of the character or something something.. hm… but wow the eyesore…

    always a good read michael. thx for putting in the time and sharing your thoughts. gawwd it would take me forever to write half the stuff you wrote. i don’t know how many hours you’re putting into these recaps but they are masterpieces i hope you don’t burn out before the show ends. because thundie (meaning we) is probably waiting for you to recap another series after this, right thundie?

  6. ^^ THANK YOU! Yet another excellent recap with explanations of Korean terms/slangs that us non-Koreans would otherwise not get! I appreciate the time (one sweat drop (한땀) by one sweat drop… lol) you put into this. Hugs! And until next time, take care. ^^

  7. Michael, as I said before…you are truly the best. Thank you so much for your wonderful recap, you explain it so well. I also love your lesson on the Korean language, I am learning so much from you. You are magnanimous!

  8. once again, thank you for your hard work! i enjoyed reading the explanations of the korean words, and i giggled a bit because i can grasp the chinese equivalents and they’re somehow funnier with that understanding.

    looking forward to seeing what you make of eps 17-18.

  9. I feel so lucky to have been led to your posts. Now I understand that SG is even cuter, funnier and more touching than I thought. Thank you for your hard work.

  10. I always learn something new from your heartful recap .Thanks a lot and appreciate Secret Garden more everytime I have a rewatch…the wordplay is fantastic.

  11. I got to hand it to you Mr. Gentleman, your recaps are just plain 굉장한! You bring tears to my eyes and warm my heart. The story and characters come alive in each and every word, line after line as if I am watching the drama itself.

    Looking forward to your take on eps 17 & 18. ( I think I need to prepare a towel made from the finest Egyptian cotton and woven strand by strand by the master weavers of the River of the Nile. ;))

  12. Dear micheal, i truly truly love you. Appreciate so much your (one sweat drop (한땀) by one sweat drop… ) effort. Your recap help me understand this drama better. Eagerly waiting for ep 17/18..

  13. The feeling, wanzhaf, is mutual. I really appreciate your sentiment. Speaking of ep. 17 & 18, I will start it shortly… ah, it can wait until tomorrow. :)

    Haha, crazyforasiandrama, that’s a great line. I think you need to send it in to the writer, so that she can use it before the drama is over. Thank you for your heartwarming praise. I really appreciate it. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried watching the episodes 17 & 18. :)

    Thank you, Sara. I agree. I love the wordplay here. It’s a little thing, but for me it makes a viewing experience that much more enjoyable.

    Thank you, bbstl, for visiting our little world of TP. It is so nice of you to say that.

    Snow, I think I know which words you’re referring to. 🙂

    Thank you, Jewels. You, I’ll have you know, are magnificent, if for no other reason than for you to think I’m magnanimous. :)

    Thank you, lilone. I love getting hugs, and I can’t get enough. :)Thanks again.

    Hi, dramaok, and thanks. I think I’m in the beginning stage of a burnout, and as much as I love doing the recaps, I look forward to not having a deadline every week. The word, freelance, sounds so … free, all of sudden. :)

    Thank you, bella012. Yes, I love the quiet and subtle moments as much as heart-wrenching ones. I try not to spoil my viewing pleasure by delving too much into the news about SG, so I’m not sure if I want to know about “the crazy conjecture.” :)

    Thank you, Linda165. I have expanded the Korean words section, as I felt an increasing demand for it, so I’m glad, but at the same time I hope it’s not too much of a distraction for those who just want to read the recaps without feeling like they are back in school. 

    Thank you, wits. I just want you to know that I’m going to quote you on the ep. 17 & 18th recaps. So thanks in advance for that.

    Thank you, sobohomom2. I’m so happy that I could help you enrich your SG experience.

    Ah, thundie. The honor is all mine, miladi. :)

    Thank you, martha. You’re so kind for saying that.

  14. Good Michael, Thanks a lot! I know the script/dialogues are gems but the English translation in the DVD format were 75% intelligible. Your translation/transcription made sense the over all story. It was wonderful for your patient Korean culture instruction on word play and some tradition. More power. Nene from Philippines

  15. Quote: “Hot”

    one of the reason I like Secret Garden despite it making no sense with the body swap and the lame ending is just the cheesy writing The writer really did a great job in writing awesome funny lines like Quentin Tarantino whose movie plots also make not much sense. I think that was also the reason WHY Secret Garden could even be so successful – besides greats actors delivering the lines. *g*

  16. Your recaps are wonderful, and I only wish I loved the drama as much as I love reading them. I actually bought the boxed set of this drama without seeing any of it first based on all the rave reviews, and because the story sounded really interesting. But unfortunately I’m not loving it and I haven’t gotten passed episode 8. I still love the story idea, and it is beautifully filmed but I can’t get past how insulting and cruel the character of JW is to everyone especially to RI. And from skipping ahead it seems like he never changes.

    I was hoping this would be a really good romance (I’m a hopeless romantic, and I love romantic Korean dramas that end happily), but I’m just not feeling the romance, because it seems like JW is always saying such insulting and cruel things to RI every few minutes throughout every episode (and it looks like he continues that way until the end). He insults the way she dresses, her social status, her looks, says he basically only wants her as a mistress and then he’ll get tired of her (the things he said during vacuum cleaner scene were awful and so was the scene when RI went to his house to return it).

    I actually want to love this drama too, as so many people seem to be having such fun with it. So I was wondering am I missing something? How do those who love the drama get past the abrasive and insulting nature of JW and see the romance? I know that for some reason many people get angry at those who don’t love Secret Garden, but I’m really not dissing anyone who loves this drama….I’d like to fall in love with it too, but so far it isn’t for me.

    • oops! I meant to post the above comment on the page for the last episodes of this drama but I somehow ended up on the ep 15&16 page. Hope you will still see it though.

    • Hi LB,

      Sorry for the late reply. I have been extremely busy lately.

      I think I know what you’re going through. I had a similar experience with Jang Dong-gun character in Gentlemen’s Dignity. He was so immature for a 41 year-old that it took me a very long time to like his character. But for some reason, I didn’t have that problem with Hyun Bin character. I should have, but I didn’t. I don’t know how to explain that. Maybe it’s because despite his apparent crassness, I fell for his character when he voiced his feelings for Ra-im over the phone to his mother.

      Instead of expecting a normal guy, I accepted the imperfect, insensitive (mostly with his words), and spoiled character, given his environment growing up, considering who has raised him, not to mention his past traumatic experience, and decided to just look at his heart. If you don’t expect to see a sensitive, cultured guy, then you might grow to appreciate his effort and his true intentions.

      Let me go over your points more specifically:
      One, he “insulted the way she dresses, her social status, her looks,” because he wanted her to understand his perspective. Because of their stark differences in their social status, she has to adjust to his glitter level, and knowing Ra-im, she most likely won’t change unless pushed or shocked into it. The important point to notice here is that he really wants her to join his world, and for that to happen, she has to change. As I have mentioned in the recap, I don’t agree with his method, but if you listen to his argument, he makes a valid point.

      Two, he initially does say he wants her as a mistress, but he changes over time, because he realizes that she means more, much more, than that to him.

      Three, regarding the vacuum cleaner scene in his office, yes, he does make very insensitive remarks, but if you forget and forgive his mannerism for a moment and just listen to his message, he begins to make sense. The vacuum cleaner scene in his house was coarse, even for his standard, and I thought that was his worst moment. But he gets better, only because he realizes how much he really loves her, and he does change his immature nature over time… all because of her.

      You know, I’m not exactly enamored either with a woman who abuses me physically and at the drop of a hat verbally threatens to crush my vertebra, but I look at Ra-im as a whole person, and I understand why she became that way and how that’s not as important as the kind of person she really is.

      It’s certainly not the most civilized romantic tale, but if you can overlook the crass part of his personality, Hyun Bin character just might grow on you and maybe even win you over.

      • Hi Michael,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply, I really appreciate it!! You made some really great points about JW and why he says the things he does to RI. I hadn’t looked at him the way you have, and you’ve given me a new perspective with which to try to continue watching this drama, along with reading your recaps too (I had just about given up on SG). I suppose I did go into it expecting a sensitive guy, since all of the romantic dramas I’ve watched before now either featured a sensitive guy from the beginning, or an insensitive guy who’s change of ways happened early on.

        You made a good point too about the character of RI when you said “I’m not exactly enamored either with a woman who abuses me physically and at the drop of a hat verbally threatens to crush my vertebra…”. I was surprised, and a bit put off, by her actions as well, but less so I guess because I was prepared for a tomboy, tough type of character given the kind of work she does.

        Thanks again for taking the time to reply, and for being so kind 🙂


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