The Secret Garden, the 17th & 18th episodes

As we near the end of this sweet and yet suddenly angst-filled roller coaster of a drama, we again come back to romantic love, and, boy, do we ever. The sob-fest, as wits calls it, plays out like Love Story and West Side Story intertwined but with a distinct Korean flavor and intensity and hopefully without the fateful ending. And oh, what a love story it is. As JW is writing the letter to RI which could be the last one he writes as a living human being, he sobs uncontrollably, not because he’s afraid of dying, I think, but because he feels RI’s pain of having to live without him and his without her. And later RI contemplates the same selfless act of love as she sobs holding the very letter against her heart, just as JW did with her Little Mermaid declaration of love “letter.”

RI’s father on that fateful day beseeched God to take care of his family should he perish in his attempt to save JW. People say God works in a mysterious way, and I say, not really. I think God is eminently predictive. God is love, unconditional love at that, and love is a wondrous thing. Love gives RI the strength she needs to finally stand up to JW’s mother. And I think love, not RI’s father, brings the comatose and soul-switching lovebirds back to normal. Yes, the way the writer did it in a dream state does look contrived and corny, but I don’t look at RI’s father as some voodoo-wielding sorcerer but rather as an instrument of love so intense, selfless, and heart-wrenching as to be the closest thing this side of human to love that is God. You be the judge.

But first, let’s pick up where we left RI all alone with what we thought was the mellowing of the witch in episode 17, 00:05.

RI is shocked to hear what JW’s mother has just told her, “What you’ve just told me, is that (all) true? Did my father really… The person who rescued Mr. Kim Joo-won is really… my father?”

Still haughty as ever, “You’ve said it with your own lips… that he rescued many people. Joo-won just happened to be one of those people, that’s all. Don’t try to interpret it in any other way.”

RI’s still in a shocked and teary condition when JW’s mother slowly begins to kneel on the floor. RI covers her mouth in shock at the astonished spectacle of the once proud and imperious 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. Please let our Joo-won… go now. I am… begging you like this.”

His mother implores her, “I’ll give you whatever you want. Whatever that may be, I’ll give you more, the grander (than what you ask for), except… for our Joo-won. He is not your match. Please… please, I beg of you.”

RI continues to quietly sob, and when JW’s mother doesn’t hear what she wants to hear, she changes her tune. Her expression reverts to her old familiar haughty self, “Answer me.” Raising her voice, “I told you, ‘I beg of you!’” When RI just looks at her with part shock and part sadness, the witch gets up off the floor in a huff and spits out her venom, “I’ve told you I will compensate for everything.” Yelling, “I said, I’ll compensate for your father’s death. If I were you, and I came all the way over here to do this, I’ll settle this just from the sheer disgust.” Of having to kowtow and grovel. “How can you sob and snivel till the very end?” Very compassionate, this woman. No wonder JW is a mess.

RI continues to just look at her with sadness and shock. The witch doesn’t stop her onslaught, “Do I really have to take everything away from you before you wake up? Don’t let your father’s death go to waste. I want you to come to a closure in this matter, and make sure you don’t hurt Joo-won in the process. And when you’re done, come see me to collect your money.”

JW’s mother then glares at RI one last time, and as she walks out she bumps RI’s shoulder using a juvenile intimidation technique while RI sobs repeatedly, “Daddy,” mourning her father’s death all over again.

Coffee or Fruits, That’s the Question

In episode 17, 03:17, after JW finds out that there is no emergency shooting, he knocks on RI’s house. Ah-young is trying to console RI when they hear the knock, “Gil Ra-im!”

Ah-young states the obvious, “I think it’s the president.”

RI tries to bring herself out of the doldrums while wiping her tears, “I’m going to wash my face. Don’t say anything. Anything.” RI emphasizes the last word as she hurriedly walks to the bathroom, while AH, murmuring something about RI being dumb (of her to keep this from JW), answers the door.

JW asks AH if RI’s home. AH tells him that she’s in the bathroom and asks him to “come in” (to take his shoes off and join the other shoeless people).

RI comes rushing out of the bathroom, having washed all evidence of her crying and asks him hesitatingly, “What brings you here without any notice?”

JW looks at her knowingly, “The shooting. You did well?”

Trying to sound as gruffly as usual, “Of course I did well, if I want to get paid.” Cautiously, “What are you doing here at this hour?”

“Wouldn’t ‘Would you like to have a cup of tea?’ be a more appropriate greeting?”

AH gets embarrassed, “Where are my manners? Would you like a cup of hot green tea?”

JW asks AH, “You have coffee?”

AH nods as if to say ‘You mean there are people who don’t?’, “Yes.”

JW tries non-liquid, “Then, never mind the coffee. You have fruits?”

Deflated, “Fruits… I don’t have.”

Relieved, “Then, I’ll have that.” Looking now toward RI, “What are you doing (just standing there)? Go and buy them.”

RI’s irritated now, “Why are you looking for something we don’t have?”

AH interrupts her, “I’ll go get them.” Politely to JW, “(Then,) have a (pleasant) conversation (with her).”

JW quickly stalls her, “Ms. Ah-young, you stay. I have something to discuss with you about Secretary Kim.”

AH shows immediate concern, “What about Secretary Kim?”

Resignedly, RI asks him, “What (kind of) fruits?”

“Tropical fruits. (Make sure you get) the best ones.”

After RI leaves in not-so-great mood, JW turns to AH, “This is not Secretary Kim, but a Gil Ra-im matter.”

Squeaking, “What?”

“On a date (tonight), she suddenly took off saying she has an emergency shooting.” AH looks somewhat sheepish.

“But there was no shooting, because I’m coming from the Action School (having verified it). Where do you think Gil Ra-im went on a pretense of a non-existent shooting?”

Self-consciously swaying her body side to side, “I’m not sure. When I got home, she was here.”

Looking at her evenly, “That’s not what I think.”

Thinking quickly on her feet, “It’s probably because today’s her father’s gi-il (기일: anniversary of a person’s death). Usually she gets sensitive on her father’s gi-il.”

“Is that what Gil Ra-im told you to say?”

AH can’t think of anything further to cover for RI, so she just exercises her lip muscles silently not able to look him in the eyes.

Observing this, he lets her off the hook, “Where is a nearby fruit stand?”

In episode 17, 05:17, we find RI kneeling by the fruits sobbing. Looking at her from a distance, JW looks at her for some time with obvious pain on his face. He finally walks up to her and while holding her wrist lifts her up from the sitting position. RI is surprised to see him.

JW speaks to her angrily, “Why are you crying? Having lied (to me) wasn’t enough, now you’re crying?” RI looks at him with such a forlorn look that you want to just give her a long, long hug to comfort her. But not JW, “Having (had the gall to) even fabricate an imaginary shooting, why are you (now) crying on this cold street? Why?” And he shakes her while holding her wrist, and the vulnerable RI’s body appears to shake to-and-fro like tree leaves on a windy night. He acts heartless too well, this guy, belying his true feelings.

RI just looks at him with tears flowing down her face. He asks her, “Did my mother come by again? Is that why you’re like this?”

RI looks away, and she can’t look him in the eyes.

JW’s still harsh, “You’re not going to tell me? My mother came by, didn’t she?”

With tears smeared all over her face and in a sobbing tone, she looks at him, “It’s not like that. That’s not it. It’s just that…” She shakes her arm free from him and then tries to collect herself, “the price (of fruits) has gone up so much, and (thus) that doesn’t give me a whole lot of choices…” Then she tries to turn the table on him. She raises her voice, “So what’s the big idea of asking me to buy expensive (fruits)? From a poor person, no less. Why are you asking me to buy such expensive fruits? Why?”

“Will you not stop it?” He screams at her. “Do you know how much I hate it (밉다) when you add crying to your ugliness?”

Hate (mip-da 밉다) usually has milder connotation than (sil-ta 싫다) or (sil-uh 싫어) which means I don’t like (it or him). For example, if a woman says to a man, I sil-ta you (싫다), then she doesn’t like him as a potential suitor, but if she says, I mip-da you (너 밉다, nuh 너 means you), it has a connotation that even though she loves him, at times he does things that she doesn’t care much for or that he doesn’t do enough, like ‘you don’t bring me flowers anymore’ kind of things. Jung-oh (증오), on the other hand, means intense hate or detest.

When she doesn’t say anything but just looks at him sobbing quietly, he takes off his gloves and wipes her tears with his bare hands. That’s when he notices, “Your face is all frozen, you dummy.”

He takes off his scarf and puts it around her neck while reminding her, “It’s expensive. You know that, right? Always remember just how expensive of a scarf you’re wearing.” He then puts his expensive leather gloves on her hands while telling her, “I’ll get the fruits next time, so I want you to just go home now.” RI still looks overwhelmingly sad.

He tells her gently, “Don’t think about anything. (I want you to) Sleep like a baby.”

The eerie calm way he said it alarms her, “Where are you going? Where are you going to go?”

“Since you’re not ever going to tell me, (I’m going) to meet someone who will.”

When he turns to walk away, RI tells him, “Don’t do it. It’s not what you think.” RI has just confirmed his suspicion. She wails to his back to no avail, “It’s not that. Please don’t.” As she watches him go, she helplessly wipes her tears with his expensive gloves.

Ra-im’s Miracle

In episode 17, 14:17, the director Lim, after having received a call from the director Leon Jackson, breaks the news to RI. RI is shocked, “What did you just say?”

“I said, you were just accepted for the role in Dark Blood.”

“Me? But how? I didn’t even make it to the audition…”

“Thank Kim Joo-won.”

“What?”

“Kim Joo-won brought the director from Japan via his own private jet. And the director saw you while you were shooting…”

RI suddenly remembers what JW told her, Please believe me. I’ll make your miracle happen.

The director-to-be is impressed, “A pri… private jet. Wow! He has a different scale, alright.” Looking at RI, he deadpans, “Our Joo-won, he never expressed any interest in man?” Wistfully, he wonders out loud, “Ah! I want to date Kim Joo-won, too.”

Stone-faced, Lim tells her, “Congratulations.”

Determined-faced, RI tells him, “Director, I’m going to step out for a little bit.”

In episode 17, 15:15, JW is listening, along with a hoard of his underlings, to the section chief Choi talk about the “Wish upon a Star” promotion where fans can put their hand on their favorite star’s handprint and make a wish. The chief tells him that they are envisioning this event to be all over the Asia within a year. RI is watching the group from a short distance, and she calls him as JW tries out the gadget with a mischievous grin, “If I put my hand like this and earnestly wish that Chief Choi will fall down…”

At that moment, Secretary Kim, calling JW’s moniker, bumbles hurriedly toward JW and runs into the Chief causing him to almost fall. JW marvels at the prowess of the gadget and expresses his optimism tongue-in-cheek to the chief, “I don’t think you need a year, a month may suffice.”

The chief is clueless, and Secretary Kim tells him servilely, “A call came through. It’s an important call, and you left your phone behind.”

Secretary Kim knows it’s an important call because it’s from RI.

Automatically assuming as he takes his cell phone from him, “Is it mom?”

His countenance brightens as he sees whom the call is from, “Yes. It’s me.”

Softly, “Are you busy?”

“No,” as he dismisses the team. “Where are you? I called before, but you didn’t answer.”

“I was in the middle of shooting. I’m in Chun-ahn (a city in the South Choong-chung province). Because we have night and daytime shootings, even if you can’t get your calls through, don’t get mad, okay?”

“Are you sure you’re not lying again? Put someone next to you on.”

Almost choking with emotions, “I am not lying. I can’t talk long because I just took a quick break.”

JW looks both amused and suspicious at the same time.

RI continues with her voice almost breaking, “(So,) let me just come to the point. You know… a real miracle… has happened to me. I got the part in that audition.”

His face lightens up, “Really? You got the part? Just as I expected, Gil Ra-im. Impressive. Impressive. And you know what, that impressive woman happens to be mine.” And then he makes an uncharacteristic chortle sound in merriment.

Getting more choked up, “I’ve heard everything. (I’ve heard that) you sent a plane.”

“Wait. You (seriously) think that you got the part because of that? Are you stupid? That director, he only looked at you for five minutes.” He starts to walk forward away from her, “It means the person who made the miracle happen in only five minutes was you.”

Momentarily panicking, “Where are you going?”

He stops and looks to his left but not his behind, “How did you know?”

Realizing what she did and sounding more choked up than before, “Ah… I just… realized that the background sound changed.”

Feeling that something’s not right, “Why has your voice changed (all of sudden), then? Are you, by any chance, crying?”

Now crying more openly, “Just because I’m so happy about having gotten the part.”

He doesn’t seem to totally believe what she’s telling him.

Still sobbing, “I’m sorry, but they are telling me that shooting’s starting.”

Reassured and now wearing a proud smile, “Okay. Don’t get hurt. (And) hurry back.”

She bids him a tearful farewell, “Bye.”

Seul, the Sage

As teary RI exits the premise in the episode 17, 17:57, she runs into Seul.

“Ms. Gil Ra-im?”

Seeing RI all teary-eyed, “Is something wrong?”

The scene changes to the inside of the museum where Seul and JW first had a seun (the Korean blind date). RI looks curiously at a Picasso picture hanging on the wall, while Seul looks just as curiously at RI.

Seul finally looks at the picture as well, “Why did you wanted to come here?”

“I’ve (always) wanted to come here at least once. Director Yoon comes here often, don’t you?”

“Yes, to admire the pictures and (at times) to buy the pictures.”

“I see.”

Seul, impatient, gets to the crux of the matter, “You are (really) not going to tell me what’s going on?”

RI doesn’t oblige, “What do you think about when you look at a picture like this? Are you supposed to feel something else other than, ‘It’s Picasso. I saw this in an art book.’?”

Not indulging RI either, Seul turns to her, “What’s the matter? I will help you.”

RI turns to look at Seul, “I’ve heard that both Mr. Kim Joo-won and you live your lives displaying many (valuable) things like this?”

Seul looks uncomfortable and doesn’t say anything.

“But I’m just a stuntwoman who has to hide her existence just to exist. Mr. Kim Joo-won and I are just that distant from each other. Even if he’s next to me, he’s not really there, you know.”

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy (for you guys), but it sounds like you ran into a usual obstacle.” Seul smiles as if she knows exactly what the problem is. She also can’t help chiding RI, “I didn’t concede him (to you) for you to do this, you know.”

RI can’t help smiling at that.

Seul gets serious, “Are you going to abandon Mr. Kim Joo-won for some problem other than between you two? Were you (always) this cool? If the distance (between you two) is too far, then run. If he doesn’t feel like he’s next to you, then hug him.”

“Even if that makes it more difficult for Mr. Kim Joo-won?”

Not as sure as before, Seul concedes this point, “That’s the problem with that household (JW & Oska’s family). I don’t think there is such a thing as easy love in this world.”

Even so, RI takes Seul’s advice to heart when she confronts JW’s mother later.

At a Crossroad

After having assembled a stockholders’ meeting in an hour to dismiss JW as CEO, JW’s mother has RI in her living room again in the episode 17, 23:22. When his mother heard about the private jet incident, she realized that it might be more effective going after her son rather than RI.

Having heard the news about his impending dismissal, JW calls his mother, but purposely she doesn’t answer his calls. When JW’s mother condescendingly asks RI to name her price (to part with her son), RI tells her that after long deliberation, she decided that she cannot part with JW. RI tells her that since her father thought JW’s life to be precious enough to give up his own life, RI will now also live the rest of her life loving JW just as preciously. Of course, the witch now finally answers JW’s call and turns on the speaker so that RI can also hear him. When JW wants know why she’s calling the stockholders’ meeting to dismiss him as a CEO, RI gasps. JW’s mother tells him, “You should’ve braced yourself for something like this when you started to hang around with a beggar girl.” And when his mother tells him to choose between his wealth, position, and all his earthly possessions and RI, JW tells her, “Okay. Take it all. All of it. I can never give that woman up.”

His mother raises her eyebrows, “Is that right? Okay. You do that, too, then.” Then she hangs up. RI, of course, can’t let that happen. She tearfully promises his mother that she will leave him. And long after his mother left the room, RI sobs and sobs for a long time.

And RI does her part well. In the episode 17, 32:20, she cold-shoulders JW when he comes calling at her house bearing flowers as well as the bejeweled Cheshire Cat ornament for her handbag. And when he doesn’t take the hint and comes calling again in the episode 17, 37:18, she comes up with an excuse he cannot readily dismiss. She tells him about her father and that every time she sees him, he’s going to remind her of her father. She tells him that she doesn’t have the courage to look at him without feeling “apologetic” to her father. She has lived without a father for 13 years, thanks to him. She tells him to honor his words and be her Mermaid and disappear like bubbles.

In the episode 17, 39:50, spurred on by the news about RI’s father, JW finds an article in the old newspaper about an elevator accident 13 years ago. The article in essence reads:

A fireman, Gil Ik-son (RI’s father), after saving the L-department heir, crashed to his death when the elevator, which was on fire, plummeted from the third floor. The fireman was later rescued from the debris, but he passed away in the hospital at the age of 41. The fire blazed between the second and third floor, and it took one hour and 30 minutes for the fire to be contained. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

After JW has read the article, we hear RI’s father’s voice:

The smoke is thick, and the air is thin.

When the precious life hangs in the balance,

Please let me be ready.

And, 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.

Love Is All You Need

In the episode 17, 28:45, we see just how far JW has come as a person. Secretary Kim asks JW if he’s going to just take it (what his mother is dishing out – to dismiss him as the CEO). JW replies that he can’t take not seeing RI, so he chose the next best course. When Kim says, “How can you say being dismissed as a CEO because of a woman is considered the next best course?”, JW agrees. JW marvels at RI’s “ability” to “shake the very root” of someone like him. JW tells him that it’s a historical event. To which Kim makes fun of him and calls him a re-birth of Romeo.

In the episode 17, 48:20, after the accident caused by a wayward taxi driver, the doctors diagnose RI as being comatose. As we see two rose petals drop onto the RI’s chest of drawers at her house in front of her smiling picture, perhaps a harbinger of the upcoming miracle, the voice of JW gives us the news on RI’s condition,

It’s been 15 days (보름).

Bo-rum (보름) is 15 days. The closest thing to bo-rum here would be fortnight, which as you know is 14 days.

Now the scenery changes to the hospital, and JW is at her bedside holding her hands. We hear his thoughts again:

She is still in a dreamland. And in her dream right now, judging by her peaceful countenance… I’m not in it. So that’s why I think she must be waiting for me. I think she’s determined to wait for me until I get there* (before she wakes up from coma). *‘there’ being her dream.

Tomorrow and the next day…

At this point, a song plays in the background while he carefully cleans her fingers, as he keeps a vigil by her bedside through the night, as he wistfully looks at her eyes while holding her hands tenderly, and while a tear falls from his glistening eyes as he looks at her lovingly.

It must have been a long time (that we have known each other)

So long as to make (even) these very words seem vague

Like this friend who knows everything about me

Just from looking in my eyes

Like your shadow

We must have always been together

Whenever you were tired or sad

Or you felt lonely

Even when you were in insufferable pain from more parting (like coma)

(I was there) to wipe your tears…

In the episode 17, 49:55, back in his study, JW jots down on his notebook binder information about the nearby place, about 20 to 30 minutes away, where they are forecasting rain. At this point, Oska comes into the study, and JW discreetly closes his binder. Oska tells JW that a few days ago, RI was in this very room. Oska just remembered how odd it was that RI told him to be happy, “as if I’d never see her again.” JW asks him what she did, and Oska tells him that she was reading a book “about here.” Oska tells JW that he thought it was strange because “she couldn’t have come here just to read a book.”

After Oska leaves, JW combs the area RI has supposedly stood, and he finally finds a note folded in the Alice in Wonderland book. The note happens to be the last page of the book, The Little Mermaid, and it reads:

The knife that the Little Mermaid was holding was shaking in her hand.

But at the very next moment, she threw the knife deep into the waves.

The moment the knife fell into the water, the waves shone bright red.

(Because) at that moment, the sun was rising above the ocean.

The Little Mermaid looked at the prince with misty eyes and then threw herself into the ocean.

And the Little Mermaid turned into bubbles and disappeared into the ocean.

JW now realizes that all that time she was trying to distance herself from him was her way of saying good-bye and perhaps her way of sparing him from more pain. Tears come, and as he holds the page against his heart he begins to sob. The burden of the page against his chest weighs heavily on his heart, and he begins to sink to the floor while he continues to sob inconsolably.

In the episode 17, 58:00, JW witnesses the director Lim begging comatose RI, “Wake up. Just wake up. If you wake up, then I’ll send you to Kim Joo-won. I’ll send you to him with a smile on my face, so (please) just wake up, you ja-sik (자식).” Ja-sik (자식) means offspring, but it is also commonly used to address a kid or someone younger affectionately.

Joo-won’s Letter

As moved JW watches Lim show his love for RI in his own unique way, JW’s voice reads the letter he’s writing to RI:

I’m letting you know right from the start that you are my only alienated neighbor to receive the societal leader Kim Joo-won’s first and the last letter he has ever written. Thus, you are allowed to feel good about yourself (자부심)*.

JW looks up from the paper and looks outside.

It’s a windy afternoon where the wind is irascibly shaking the heck out of tree branches. I wish that when you’re reading this letter, it would be a windy, tree branch-shaking afternoon just like this. So that you can see what I see (right now). That’s what I wish.

If you can stand by the same window I stood, sleep on the same bed I slept in, if you read the same books I’ve read… if we can be together even that way… if we have that much… let us consider** that as being together. If we have that much… let us consider that as being happy like other couples.

JW sobs inconsolably as he writes the last parts.

*Ja-boo-sim (자부심) means self-confidence. **Chi-ja (치자) or chi-da (치다) means to accept as truth whatever the situation. Thus, consider that as or think of that as or believe that as.

In the episode 18, 01:01:02, JW carries RI from the hospital, and we see them in his car by the road. Unconscious RI on the passenger side is leaning against his shoulder, and JW gives her the final instructions, “Don’t love any other guy. All your life, I want you to live alone thinking only about me. And don’t be too chummy with Chae Wu-young (Oska), either. That’s incest.”

He pauses for a moment, and then he resumes, “This may be my life’s most selfish decision, but since this is the societal leader’s choice, I want you to respect it.”

As we see almost ashen-colored RI next to him, he goes on, “You were always attractive, Gil Ra-im. I want you to always remain that way.”

He gives her a kiss on the hair-covered forehead, and with his eyes glistening, he tenderly tells her, “I’m sure I’m going to miss you terribly.”

As a tear finally overflows down his face, he chokes on the words, “I love you. I (really) love you.”

Then he guns his sports car into the lightning-angry, storm-filled horizon to give her his life.

In the episode 18, 21:45, after finding out that JW switched their bodies so that she may live, grief-stricken RI* tries to “sneak out” of his house to see JW* in the hospital when she gets an envelope from Kim Ddol-chu (the tracksuit imbecile) addressed to Kim Joo-won. The letter she reads is a slightly different version from the one we saw JW write, so I have consolidated the entire content of the letter here. As RI* reads the letter in his car, the magic veil lifts and as RI, she cries as she reads it.

I’m letting you know right from the start that you are my only alienated neighbor to receive the societal leader Kim Joo-won’s first and the last letter he has ever written. Thus, you are allowed to feel good about yourself.

It’s a windy afternoon where the wind is irascibly shaking the heck out of tree branches. I wish that when you’re reading this letter, it would be a windy, tree branch-shaking afternoon just like this. So that you can see what I see (right now). That’s what I wish.

If you can stand by the same window I stood, sleep on the same bed I slept in, if you read the same books I’ve read… if we can be together even that way…

I now think that…

…the magic spell that binds us may very well be a gift from God.

Thus… as if you have received an unexpected gift… smile* happily.

If you laugh inside, that sound of your laugh… I will hear it.

Because I’m much more competent than you think I am.

Shave my face nicely, and wear fashionable clothes that I like.

If we have that much… let us consider that as being together.

If we have that much… let us consider that as being happy like other couples.

After RI’s done reading, she clutches the letter to her heart and sobs inconsolably just as JW did.

*In Korean, Oot-da (웃다) can mean both smile and laugh, and we add certain adjectives to distinguish, such as laugh is (소리내어 웃다) – So-ri-nae-uh (소리내어) means with sound, whereas smile is (미소지으며 웃다) mi-so-ji-ooh-myu (미소지으며). Mi-so (미소) by itself can also mean smile.

Their Miracle

In the episode 18, 24:39, RI* drives to the hospital and walks into JW*’s room. The magical veil lifts, and RI approaches his bed. As her eyes glisten and finally tear, RI tells JW, “This is so wretched. I guess our fate is to have one of us turn into bubbles. If that’s the case, then I’ll do it. I will turn into bubbles.”

As she looks down at comatose JW, she tells him, “Don’t let your heart ache (over this).”

As her voice breaks, she goes on, “Because as soon as the Little Mermaid started to love the prince, it was her destiny to become bubbles. You should’ve just broken my arms and legs instead of making my heart bleed every time I breathe (having to endure watching you like this). I… am going to return everything back to the way it was. The next time it rains, please go back to your original place. I beg of you.”

Then she collapses on his chest and sobs uncontrollably for a long time.

In the episode 18, 29:00, back to their switched state, RI* lies sleeping on JW*’s abdomen while holding hands together. RI’s father sees this in the magical liquor vase, and he smiles faintly. In this conjoined position in both physical and spiritual senses, the condition is apparently ripe for a small miracle. We hear JW’s voice chiding RI,

There. There. You’re doing it again. Why is your dream always so unpleasant?

RI answers him back, That’s because you’re (always) in my dream.

The scene shifts out of the hospital to JW sleeping in his own bed as RI continues, On a white snow-covered lawn, a lavish table (for two) is set, and you and I are invited.

The scene shifts to RI sleeping on her hospital bed, as we hear JW speak, You dummy. That’s my dream. You are in my dream.

The point about being in his dream is important, because this is the reason why the soul switch from the very beginning was necessary. RI’s salvation necessitated the switch because the miracle was possible only from JW’s dream, which is another way of saying RI needed JW’s love to live again, which again reiterates the point that the magic here is none other than his love for her.

The dream scene changes to the fancy table for two, and our lovebirds look very spiffy indeed. We hear JW’s voice again,

You and I are dressed for the occasion. As gentlemanly duty dictated, I pulled out your chair for you, and you thanked me with your smile*. *Mi-so 미소. No, not miso soup. 🙂 Yup, that.

We hear RI’s voice, We are looking and smiling at each other. And we are waiting for someone. The very one who invited us.

At that moment, RI’s father comes into the picture. RI looks up to him, surprised, Daddy! Is that you, Daddy?

Her father smiles fondly down at her, and he turns when JW says, You look familiar. Have we met before?

Her father answers him with just a warm smile, and then he lifts up a glass bottle full of rose petal-filled liquor. He looks at both of them as he explains, This liquor is the beginning and the end of the magic.

Then he pours the liquor into JW’s glass and speaks to JW, It’s okay for you to forget me again. And it’s okay if you forget the promise you’ve made to me as well, because you have already done much more than what you’ve promised. In the elevator 13 years ago, when it looked like RI’s father knew he wasn’t going to make it, perhaps JW promised her father something.

RI’s father now turns and pours a glass for RI, (I wish) you receive (abundant) love as you live (the rest of your life). As much as you had to kowtow, as much as you had to cry, I now want you to be loved, my Ra-im. RI looks up at her father with adoring eyes as a tear falls down her face.

Now addressing both of them, her father announces, Now, the magic has ended. The magic that I have conjured up is like a handshake between strangers. And now, I want you two to create your very own real magic. RI’s father just told them that the only “magic” he has done is to introduce them to each other. Now it’s up to them to make their own magic.

Then her father disappears into thin air. Our two lovebirds proceed to drink the magic liquor, and the rest, as they say, is history. Actually, it’s a little twisted history, because while RI wakes up as herself, JW wakes up 13 years younger in memory. I have mixed feelings about this. One part of me was happy to see a slightly different and yet just as sweet and innocent “first” courting between our two lovebirds all over again, so it was nostalgic and yet different at the same time. But the other part of me was sad because I kept imagining how happy and ecstatic 34-year-old JW would’ve been to see RI again in all her cantankerous glory.

The New Beginning

In the episode 18, 41:55, we along with Oska and the doctor get to see the new and younger JW in his living room. Oska asks his cousin because JW is just walking around the living room, “What are you doing?”

JW stands erect with hands behind his back, “Who did the architecture for this house?”

Oska raises his voice just at the thought of it, “(Don’t you remember,) you kidnapped an architect from New York and deprived him of sleep for a few days while you (harassed him) one brick by one brick…”

JW sounds proud, “I did, didn’t I? Ah… Even when I’m older, I’m meticulous.” JW nods his head in approval, “I like it.” Turning to them with boyish enthusiasm, “Anyway, what you’re saying is that this is my house?”

Oska with earth-to-JW voice, “(Technically,) it’s not your house. It’s aunt’s house.” Oska suddenly smiles, “But regardless, I’m relieved. I’m happy to see you even in this state.”

JW acknowledges his cousin with a microsecond grin and while pointing in the direction of the doctor with his head, “By the way, according to this one (the doctor), I have a problem with my memory. She says I’m right now 34 years old.”

While the doctor smiles at him fondly, Oska concurs, “Yes. You’re 34 years old, and I’m 36 years old.”

With that buoyant boyish grin again, “Hyung looks that way, but I just don’t look like a 34-year-old.” With wonder in his voice, “How did I manage that?”

Oska whispers to the doctor, “He was always a jerk (사가지)*, but now it looks as though he has added vanity (to his personality) at age 21. In this situation, shouldn’t he be locked up?”

*Technically, sa-ga-ji (사가지) means manners (actually a dialect of Gyung-sang province), but it can be short for (사가지 없다) which means having no manners, especially in respect to the elders. Oska actually says that JW’s basic foundation is sa-ga-ji (사가지).

The doctor smiles and whispers back to Oska that people with high self-awareness have such typical defense mechanism.

JW tries to remember the few present facts including the fact that, “You,” pointing to the doctor, “broke up with me 3 months ago. Right?”

She corrects him, “It’s actually 13 years and 3 months.”

Crossing his arms, “Even after 13 years, we are still good friends, I see.”

She smiles, “(That’s because) I’m such a good-natured person.”

JW is not convinced, “I’m not sure about this…” And then he turns to Oska, “By the way, Hyung, are you sure you’re a top star?”

Oska puffs up his chest, “I’m your department store’s main model.”

JW chuckles, “Huh-huh. You grew up well. I was worried how you’d turn out. You must behave outside (the house).” Implying that Oska was a problem child.

Oska becomes indignant, while the doctor appears to enjoy the bantering between the cousins. Oska starts to defend himself, when RI opens the glass door and stands there in her pajama glory just looking at him with mixed emotions of happiness, relief, and longing. The doctor and Oska look at each other with sense of uncertainty, while JW looks her over with no more than a mild curiosity. Unable to contain herself any longer, RI runs to JW while uttering RI’s typical moniker for JW, “Hey, you jerk!” as she throws herself at him.

Clinging to his neck with all her might, RI’s eyes glisten, while JW is just the passive recipient of her rare public display of affection.

While being hugged, JW motions both Oska and the doctor with his eyes as if asking, what’s with this woman, while Oska and the doctor just look at each other not knowing what to do.

RI finally breaks the embrace and scolds JW, “Who told you to do something like that? Who?” Of course, referring to his switching bodies so that RI may live. Tearfully, “I thought I would never see you again. I thought I’d never see you again as long as I live…”

Oska interrupts and tells her to calm down. But JW interrupts Oska as he points his finger at RI’s face, “Uh? I have seen this face before.”

JW turns his head to look at Oska, “In the hospital.”

Both the doctor and Oska are excited. Oska asks, “Really? You remember seeing her? Maybe your memory is returning. You’re right. You two were in the hospital together.”

At this, RI turns quizzically to Oska. Oska reassures RI, “I’ll explain it later. Later.”

JW is puzzled, too. Looking at RI, “But (her) face is…” Then as young people often do, he changes the subject abruptly, telling RI, “Anyway, you step aside.” He puts his finger on her forehead to push RI out of the way.

Turning to Oska, “Hyung, I wanted to ask you something for a while. Who is Gil Ra-im?”

RI, shock showing on her face, slowly turns to look at JW, while Oska is hopeful, “You remember Ms. Gil Ra-im? You do know. I think it’s just a matter of time before your memory returns (completely).”

JW is irritated that he’s not getting the answer quickly, “Who is it? When I woke up, that’s the first name that popped into my head.”

RI looks at JW with a sad expression, but JW still has more questions, “Is it someone I know?”

Oska gently informs RI, “Joo-won is, right now, 21 years old. He doesn’t remember anything after that.”

The doctor reassures RI that JW is suffering from a mild emotional shock, and that in time he should be fine.

RI looks at JW with tears streaming down her face, and JW is puzzled, “But why are you crying?”

When she doesn’t say anything, JW asks her, “Are you, by any chance, Gil Ra-im?”

She nods yes. JW is astonished, “You?”

Sniffling and looking at him tenderly, she nods yes, again.

At this juncture, the doctor and Oska decide to leave, saying that RI may be the fastest route to his recovery.

Now alone together, JW takes a step back, and with his hands in his pockets, he inspects her and gives a once over, “You are saying that you’re Gil Ra-im?”

RI nods yes with tears still on her face.

JW speaks somewhat tentatively, “Do you… know me? And I know you?”

She nods yes. He turns analytical, “How old are you?”

“Thirty.”

Quietly, almost to himself, “It’s not likely that I know anyone over 24 years old.” To her again, “Your job?”

She takes a comforted gasp at the familiar grilling, “A stuntwoman.”

Astonished, “What?”

“(I said,) a stuntwoman.”

“Are you saying that I know a stuntwoman?”

Without waiting for her answer, he asks her another question, “Tell me specifically. What exactly was our relationship? I’m asking you if there is any special reason why I remembered your name as soon as I wake up.”

With heavy voice, “There is. You loved me. And I loved you back.”

Taken back, “(You mean to tell me that) it wasn’t enough that I knew a stuntwoman, I… loved her as well?”

Her voice choking, she nods yes, “Yes, a lot.”

The reality is too much for him. He waves her to stop, “Wait. Wait. Are you sure you don’t just have the same name? There is no other Gil Ra-im?”

Patiently but still thick with emotions, “I’m sure there is. But the Gil Ra-im that Kim Joo-won loved… was me.”

Resignedly, “Okay. I first have to (collect myself and) come to terms with this situation, so leave your contact number.”

RI scoffs at that endearingly, “(It looks as though) you didn’t have sa-ga-ji (manners) even when you were young.”

Appalled at her boldness to say that to him, “Did you just…”

She is faster, “My contact number should be in your cell phone. You’ll see my name there… as well as my picture that you took.”

He doesn’t know what to make of this.

She goes on, “For me, from now on, no matter what you do, you’d be adorable (yi-bbuh 이뻐). For me, from now on, no matter what you do, I can forgive everything. For no reason other than that you are alive.”

He looks at her speechless, and she looks at him fondly. And they stare at each other for a long time.

It’s cute that in the episode 18, 48:33, on the same snow covered lawn of his where they practiced swordplay for the audition, JW wearing the infamous tracksuit walks side by side with his imaginary RI, who’s in her pajamas and all (brrr ~), wondering why he’s thinking about her. It’s déjà vu, but cuter.

Smitten Again

In the episode 18, 50:14, in the hospital, Ah-young fusses over RI’s hospital food, “You want me to mix the rice with the soup?”

Sitting down on her bed with the food tray in front of her, RI loves being spoiled, “Yeah. It’s worth getting sick (sometimes).”

AH doesn’t appreciate the humor, “Don’t say things like that even in jest.” She goes on to tell her in a choking voice that while RI was sick, she couldn’t eat because she kept crying.

RI makes fun of her, “Because there was no one to wash the dishes?”

AH yells at her, her voice thick with emotions, calling her a “bad girl,” which in this situation has an affectionate connotation to it.

RI is merciless, “How did you manage to go the bathroom?” AH has fear of darkness, perhaps? “When you said, ‘Does it smell?’ you had no one to answer you.”

AH gives her an ultimatum, “If you get hurt again, I’m going to burn all your Oska posters.”

RI’s ready to defend Oska… with her spoon, “Hey! How is that my oppa’s fault?”

“Stop.” They hear a man’s voice, and when AH turns around, JW is standing behind her. JW walks up toward RI telling her to, “Put the spoon down. Put it down right there.”

As if in a tug-of-stares, RI and JW stare at each other, and finally RI smiles faintly and puts the spoon down. AH tries to excuse herself, but JW asks AH to have a guy right outside the door come in.

Surprised, “What? Outside?” AH obediently runs to the door and exclaims in surprised joy at the tray of scrumptious looking food and desserts adorned with decorations and, of course, candles carried in by Secretary Kim. RI can’t help chuckling a little at the familiarity of the presentation.

Sensing her reaction, Secretary Kim agrees with her, “His behavior is not that different from before, right? When you think about it, his ideas are pretty humdrum.”

RI can’t help chuckle at his comment, and curious JW asks, “Are you two close?”

Secretary Kim has the last words, “You two are closer.” Then he ushers AH out while holding her hand.

JW offers an excuse for his secretary, “They tell me that I picked him. I must have done that during the Holidays.” Because Christmas and New Year Holidays are busy, especially in the retail business, so JW means that he must not have paid too much attention to Kim’s resume or his personality before hiring him.

Drawing her attention to the food he brought, “(I’m sure) you probably never had this kind of hospital food before, so you’re allowed to be surprised.”

She nods yes while happily smiling. He smiles too, “I did it so you would be (surprised).”

After JW takes away the earlier hospital food, RI asks him, “If you’re not going to pray, I can extinguish the candles, right?” Then, she proceeds to put out the candles with her spoon, and then she blows the smoke off the spoon like a gun.

He is completely shocked, “Candles are the basis for a meal.”

As he’s lighting the candles again, “Just so that you know, I’m not doing this because of you. You could say it’s like a good (public) deed. I was raised (with a good home education) like that.” Among other things.

Looking at him tenderly, “I know.”

Completely taken back, “You know?”

While eating a strawberry, “You came to terms with your situation yet? I left you my number, but you didn’t call.”

“That’s why I came, to come to terms with the situation. I want to know exactly under what circumstances I came to know you. I just find it impossible to believe that I loved you. So, along that line, maybe you can tell me your father’s name?”

RI becomes suddenly pensive. He doesn’t notice it, “I was wondering if maybe it’s a name I know.”

She’s quiet for a moment, “You know.”

He beams, “I know? Really? Which household is it?” As in filthy rich family households.

When she just looks at him levelly, he’s just satisfied that he knows the name of her father, “Well, that’s not that urgent, so… But why do you do stunts?”

“Because there is scent of lavender in my action.”

“What?”

“It’s because you don’t remember, but you once told me, ‘How can I not love you, when you do (something like) that.’”

He sighs, “Okay. Let’s just leave it at that (for now). What do you think is the most appealing quality about you?”

She smiles affectionally, and he goes on, “What made you appealing to me, tell me. And don’t tell me, ‘See if you can remember.’”

“You want to get hurt? So that your 5th vertebra can become the 6th one?”

“What?”

“When I kept hitting you, you kept hanging around me saying that you never met a woman like me before.”

He stammers, “I… I did?”

Assuredly, “(See?) You came to see me like this today too. All day long, you only think about me, right? You just don’t understand why you’re like this, right?”

He just stands there as if thinking, how does she know all that?

She shows him mercy, “You want me to tell you why you’re like that?”

He hates to show his weakness, but the desire to know overwhelms, “What is it?”

She looks at him serenely for a moment before answering, “Because you love me.” He looks quietly shocked.

She explains further, “Believe in your discernment. I was a woman Kim Joo-won could love and more.”

When he becomes speechless, she jovially announces to him, “I’m being discharged tomorrow.”

He comes out of his mini-stupor, “Come and pick me up, is that what you’re saying?”

“Because you’ll undoubtedly miss me again tomorrow, I’m (just) making a reason (for you to come here). And then one day, you’ll say…”

She pauses, and he’s all ears. “I find you intriguing and fascinating.”

He looks at her like she is an alien, “Impossible.” And he walks out covering his ears while chanting, which RI finds apparently adorable because she can’t help chuckling and smiling.

In the episode 18, 55:08, RI is welcomed warmly at the Action School. Even usually taciturn director Lim hugs her. And suddenly we hear JW’s voice, “Get away from her.” Wearing his tracksuit, he walks imperiously toward them and asks RI, “Were you yang-da-ri (양다리)?” Yang-da-ri (양다리) means two-timing. Yang (양) means two, and da-ri (다리) means legs.

JW is not happy, “To you, I was nothing more than one leg?”

Director Lim looks amused, and RI just ignores JW’s question, “How did you know this place? Did you remember it?”

Lim looks at her funny, and JW tells everyone, “I know this is rude of me on our first meeting, but I came because of this woman, so could all of you disappear?”

RI to everyone, “I’ll explain it all later.” To JW, “Follow me.”

JW looks suspiciously at the crowd, “What is this? You all know me, too?”

RI calls him again, and JW finally follows her.

Standing on the familiar second floor, as JW and RI are standing face to face, RI is curious, “How did you come here? It doesn’t look like you got your memory back since you don’t seem to recognize the director.”

“I chose a slightly faster method than that.” Smiling mischievously, “I know it’s not an ethical thing to do, but I had you followed.”

Her face contorting in anger, she kicks his shin, but his body coils back to successfully avoid the would-be painful contact. RI is amazed, “Uh?”

JW is even more amazed, “What is this? Why did my legs automatically just do that? Did you, by any chance, kick me before?”

So innocently, “I told you before in the hospital.” She takes a step backward and in a teasing voice, “Your body remembers me, Kim Ddol-chu.”

“What? Ddol-chu? Did you just say that to me? That doesn’t, by any chance, mean an imbecile in tracksuit, is it?”

Teasing him in full force, “Why wouldn’t it be?”

He thinks about what she said for a minute, and then it occurs to him that she may not know the true value of the tracksuit. He smiles understandingly at her, and then begins to extol the virtue of the tracksuit, when RI suddenly hugs him. JW completely freezes with his arms raised and the lapel open, but his mouth is not, “What’s the meaning of this?”

She smiles while still hugging him, “Because I’m thankful. Because I’m really thankful for you to come like this.” And then she hugs him even tighter, “I think I’m falling in love with even 21-year-old you.”

JW slowly warms up to the idea, and he starts to hug her back, “You sure?” < You want to do that?>

They both smile, and it’s cute when JW tries a different head position next to RI to see which position feels more natural.

Ra-im’s Stand

In the episode 18, 58:00, in the witch’s lair, RI finally stands up to JW’s mother. RI sits across JW’s mother in her living room as his mother tongue-lashes her again, “I’ve heard that you haven’t come to your senses and still hangs around our Joo-won? Is your head empty or is it sick? Because you survived from a near-death experience, nothing scares you anymore, is that it?”

Calmly, “I’m really sorry, but from now on, no matter what, I’m not going to let Mr. Kim Joo-won go.”

“What?”

“Like you* said, both Mr. Kim Joo-won and I survived a near-death event. That’s why each day is precious to us now. I am now no longer afraid of you.”

JW’s mother gasps, “What? What could possibly give you such confidence? My son doesn’t even remember you.”

“I know. But he will remember (me).”

“If it was something meant to be remembered, he wouldn’t have forgotten it in the first place.” His mother throws a temper tantrum, “I just as well wish that his memory never returns. The 13 years of vacuum can be filled by studying (knowledge) and assimilating (skills).”

RI’s eerily calm, “But you are scared, aren’t you?”

“What?”

“The very thing that even studying and assimilating wouldn’t accomplish, you’re afraid that he will remember me.”

His mother gasps.

RI quickly points out, “I’m not doing this to destroy Mr. Kim Joo-won. What really would destroy us is for us to part. I beg of you. Try to understand us, mother*.”

His mother holds the back of her head as if in great pain and then recollects herself for full frontal attack, “Are you a wall? Are you a cow? Are you a foreigner? You don’t even have snacks?** How can you disregard an elder’s wishes every time? Every time?”

RI’s not affected by his mother’s violent outburst at all, “I’m really sorry. Lastly, I would like to say just one more thing.” RI takes a deep breath and asks her, “Please give your son to me. I’ll do my (very) best to make him happy.”

Her face contorting again, his mother screams, “What exactly is your true intention?”

Even at the face of such violent display of negative emotions, RI doesn’t flinch and stands her ground.

*It’s a good sign that when RI calls her mother (어머니) in a formal way, the witch doesn’t at least complain about that. Uh-muh-ni (어머니) is a formal way of saying mother, whereas umh-ma (엄마) implies closer relationship such as your own mother, not mother-in-law.

**By “You don’t even have snacks?” she means that RI is so poor she can’t even afford a snack let alone a main meal. Applying this to marriage, JW’s mother is accusing RI of not being able to find even “a snack” quality man to marry, so RI’s going after someone over her head because she has nothing to lose.

His Royal Highness

In the episode 18, 01:00:05, RI has just walked into her house when Secretary Kim calls on her. After exchanging greetings, RI tells him that Ah-young hasn’t yet come home from work.

Kim tells her, “I didn’t come here for Ms. Ah-young. The president told me to move* you to him.” *Om-gi-da (옮기다) is to move, usually, an inanimate object.

RI smiles, while Kim makes fun of JW, “I’ve told him, ‘Should I escort her to you?’ (sounds better) but he insisted on saying it rudely like that.”

RI smiles happily, “I was beginning to miss him anyway.” Excitedly, “Where did he say to move me?”

In the episode 18, 01:00:38, JW sits like a royalty with his arm behind the sofa in his living room, and he motions standing RI to sit next to him, “Sit.”

Eyeing him curiously, RI sits on the sofa and looks at him. He doesn’t say anything, and he has no expression of any kind. RI begins to smile a bit. Finally, JW tells her with a straight face, “From now on, live here.”

RI’s still wearing that smile, “What?”

“Stay with me, until I tell you otherwise. I have to find out why I loved you.”

She can’t help but chuckle. He’s not amused, “You laugh?”

“It’s because this is not the first or second time I’ve heard that.”

JW’s genuinely surprised, “You mean I’ve said this before?”

RI expounds on this problem of his, “You insisted that I share a bed with you. You badgered me to take a shower together.”

He smiles, “Our relationship must have been more serious than I thought.” She smiles at that.

He keeps her off-balance again, “So did you give in?”

“What?”

He gets up off the sofa and sits on the coffee table right in front of her. He puts his face close to hers, “(If you didn’t understand it the first time) Then, let me ask you this way.”

Smiling suggestively, “Did our relationship evolve into kissing, too?”

“Like this.” And he stands up and leans over, placing his face very close to hers.

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38 thoughts on “The Secret Garden, the 17th & 18th episodes

  1. Thanks Michael! The conversations are witty and romantic.. but also getting repetitive and hm… gimmicky? a little too clever and convenient to sound sincere for some reason, and strangely lack in soul. but nevertheless i do get the hype about this drama i think and why every single comedian on every variety show is sporting the hideous sparkling blue ajumma tracksuit. keke.

    Thanks and get some rest! One more to go rite? ^^

  2. Thank you for another superlative recap, Michael! This was such a meaty read, insightful and so informative. By the way, I’m betting my copy of Winter Sonata that your final recap will be even longer than this one (which is an astounding 10,000 words!). Fighting!

    About these two episodes, I’ve yet to watch them properly, but what struck me as I was screencapping was how weepy our two leads have gotten. Ra-im in particular seemed to be constantly crying. Just screencapping her I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of tears! I think I shall wait for your final recap before marathoning episodes 15-20. Hopefully the drama will end (oops, it has already ended) on an upbeat note.

    Thank you again, Michael!

  3. Funny you should say that, dramaok, because the whole time I was working on this over the weekend, I was thinking the same thing. That it was becoming repetitive, somewhat gimmicky, and lacking in soul. And I thought it was me, because I had a cold over the weekend, so everything seemed to drag and be foggy. Well, I’m sure a lot of that was me, but somehow it seemed to lack its usual pizzazz. And YES! Only one more to go. Do I sound too excited? Sorry. It must be the fever talking. Maybe I should take your advice and get some rest. 🙂

    Thank you, thundie, for your kind words, although I feel like I don’t deserve them because it seemed like I just went through the motions over the weekend. In fact, if nobody responded to this recap, I was hoping you’d tell me I don’t have to do the final recap. 🙂 You are so right about “drowning in a sea of tears.” I think I shed about 3 tears over the weekend, which is more than I did the whole last year. 🙂 I didn’t have time to watch the last episode, but I did peek at the ending. And it was so cute. So I think you’d be happy.

  4. Wow! Michael. Your interpretation of the MAGIC and body-swapping part is perfect for this drama! I love it. It is true that the miracle is JW’s love towards RI. It has interesting layers – it is a miracle for JW to survive the fire years ago, for him to actually love RI and grow as a person, and to sacrifice to save her.
    I wish that the writer was a bit sharper in developing that plotline though. A lot of people seem to miss it – and it felt that the drama was disconnected at times.

    • Thank you, anhsfoodblog . You’re so right. I haven’t quite thought about it that way before. The love angle is truly multi-layered. And you’re also right about that particular plotline not being very clear, but overall I’m grateful to the writer for an excellent storyline.

  5. Thank you for this recap! I’ve been reading your take on SG, one word for one word (teehee), for quite a while now, and it’s been a big help in making me understand the nuances in JW-RI relationship. Lots of words/meanings get lost in translation, and that really muddles things up. Take for example that debatable switcheroo daddy pulled in dreamland. What I got out of it was a sweet & heartfelt (but terribly compounded & illogical) explanation -for lack of a better word- for the soul-swap, and I was so disappointed with it that it kind of ruined SG entirely for me. But when put your way, it sorta makes sense… That it wasn’t about the magic; it was about giving them a chance to start again and fall in love.

    Anyway, looking forward to the recap of the last two episodes. It’s been a wild, and sparkly ride 🙂

    • Thank you, Liesel, for reading one word for one word. 🙂 And as much as I love the out-of-this-world wonders of this drama, I love even more the way they weaved that aspect into one of the sweetest love story I’ve seen in a while.

  6. Hi Michael, I am responding to this recap to make doubly sure that you will write the last one! (pretty please??) I have read tons and tons of opinions, thoughts and sentiments from about a dozen blogs about SG, but I think you summed up the story most accurately…

    “The point about being in his dream is important, because this is the reason why the soul switch from the very beginning was necessary. RI’s salvation necessitated the switch because the miracle was possible only from JW’s dream, which is another way of saying RI needed JW’s love to live again, which again reiterates the point that the magic here is none other than his love for her.”

    Emphasis on the last line. The magic is his love, and hers… That love should even develop between these two unlikely pair, is illogical and improbable. But in the end, it proved vital to both of them – to their transformation, salvation, and eventual healing. That is why I love the ending (sorry, spoiler ahead). For me, it’s not just fanservice (although I love it for that too!), but a proper ending to a wondrous fairy tale.

    Michael, amid all the noise and fanfare surrounding this drama, I rely on your recaps for a different, deeper and fresh perspective. I can’t wait to read your take on the last episodes and your final thoughts. Thank you for plodding on, despite the challenges you must have faced, including that of your health. Please take care and get well soon.

    And to Thundie, I am one of your most loyal fans. Thank you much, as always…

    p.s. Michael, thanks for the quote… *blush*

    • Hi wits. Thank you for your wonderful praise and for your well wishes. I am feeling much better. And you make such a good point here: “The magic is his love, and hers … that love should even develop between these two unlikely pair, is illogical and improbable. But in the end, it proved vital to both of them – to their transformation, salvation, and eventual healing.” I love the way you put it.

      And I also loved the ending. I’ll get into more details about my feelings in the final recap, mainly because it’s only in my head in a vague form right now, but it was just such a nice touch to end it like that. And thank you for letting me use the quote.

  7. Dear Michael, Your interpretation of the soul swap is very beautiful and your recap is helping me to ease the pain of the show ending. My Sat and Sun nights are going to be so empty……

    ps: pls, pls recap ep19 and 20 too.

    • Thank you, Zashikibutas. My Sat and Sun nights are also going to be very empty… eventually. But for now, I get a feeling that I might just enjoy this emptiness for a change. 🙂

  8. hello, michael. your recaps are truly insightful and educational, too. I love the way you interpreted the “magical-awakening-from-a-coma” as a supreme result of being loved. It’s just so romantic. And getting a man’s POV about the drama really widens my horizons. May I just say that recaps like yours are truly special so I thank you for sharing your thoughts. Secret Garden is truly one of the best kdramas I’ve ever seen!

  9. I’m new here, but I would like to request for the recaps of the last 2 episodes as well. Thanks in advance! (I’m studying Korean so I find your recaps very insightful and educational)

  10. as expected, you deliver Mr. Gentleman…I was on the Underground reading your recap and oblivious to the people who were looking at my animated face, long deep breaths and chest clutching as if I have gone crazy…I only noticed it when I lifted my head when I need to alight for my stop.

    With your insights, everything becomes clear to someone who doesn’t know Korean much especially the wordplay and the hidden meanings. For that, I love the drama even more, shortcomings and all. And I have to you to thank for that.

    no rush on episode 19 and 20. but I implore you to recap it 😉

    • Thank you, crazyforasiandrama, and thank you for sharing that hilarious story. I wish I was a fly on the wall to see that – uumm, on second thought, maybe not, that sounds creepy. Okay, how about this one, I wish I was there to see you so that I could’ve given you thumbs up. 🙂

  11. Hi and thank you everyone. I don’t have time to respond to everyone tonight, but I do want to first apologize and reassure everyone that I fully intend to finish the final recap. My poor attempt at humor earlier may have sent a wrong message, so I apologize for that. With a happy ending that we have all been waiting for finally delivered, how can I not finish. 🙂

  12. Firstly thanks for the recaps. I always learn something new from reading them. Fun and educational at the same time. No one does them like you, that’s for sure.
    I should say that I definitely loved SG but not in love with it (almost, but never actually coming close). While the characters are played so remarkably well by both leads, they feel like – for lack of a better word – just that, characters in a drama. They don’t really feel real to me. Even when people kept talking about the sobfest that was eppie 17, I wasn’t moved to tears. I wondered if it was me, all cold and unfeeling, considering that both Ha Ji Won’s and Hyun Bin’s performances were both outstanding. “The tears, OMG the tears” was what I remembered saying while watching those scenes. Which was why the 21 yr old JW was very much welcomed.
    Anyways, regardless of my misgivings about the show, I did enjoy it immensely. And your recaps are always something that I looked forward to.
    Just one last thing, while watching SG, I’ve always been curious about one thing; how many ways can you say the word ‘you’? Is it ‘dangsin’? ‘Nuh’? It’s something that has been driving me crazy and since I’ve no one to ask, I thought I ask it here. So if it’s not too much trouble, could someone please explain? Thanks.

    • Thank you, WeepyTangerine. As usual, weekdays are not kind to me, and I don’t have a lot of time, so let me just address your question about how many ways you can say ‘you’ in Korean.

      Dang-sin (당신) is used to address another person in a formal setting or when fighting, and between husband and wife.
      Nuh (너) is more informal.
      Ni (니) was used a few times in SG and is same as nuh (너), but it is used to address a friend or someone younger or lower in status. It’s also a dialect of Gyung-sang province (경상도).
      Guh-jjok (그쪽) was used often in SG, and it literally means “that way” or “that direction,” but is commonly used to mean ‘you’ or in essence the person you’re talking to. JW used it often when he was talking to RI. It has a slightly arrogant connotation, thus it suits JW perfectly.

      I hope this info serves you well, and if you have any other similar questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

      • Ooh…thank you so much for taking the trouble to explain about the different variations. It has been bugging me the entire run of the show. Especially the word “Guh-jjok”; this would be the first time I’ve heard it. JW uses it a lot, and so does RI. But there was one form of “you” that you didn’t mention. When RI first met JW after having awoken from her coma, JW addresses her in another form. The part when she is crying in his house and JW’s wondering why and he asks “Are you by any chance Miss GRI?” The “you” that he uses here (and I’m taking a stab in the dark because I’m not sure of the pronunciation) sounded something like “deki” or something of the sort. Sorry, not really sure. So is that another form of “you”? Again, sorry for the trouble. And of course, thanks.

        • Hi, I just got home.

          Daek (댁) is actually a higher form of saying someone’s residence or household. But if applied to a person, then it’s a higher form of addressing someone who’s either similar or lower in status. So yes, it is ‘You,’ but in a higher form. In JW’s case, it’s probably used more in a sarcastic sense. It can also be used to address someone else’s wife, but usually only if that someone is similar or lower in status.

          Daek-yi (댁이) means ‘you are.’

  13. why is it that the Little Mermaid story centers around a lot of different Kdrama recently? From my girlfriend is a nine tailed gumiho to Secret Garden…. I know theres another one but i forgot…. anyway, the reference was cute at first but its gradually playing itself out…. and i love the little mermaid.

    • Yeah, Kdrama has a tendency to become obsessive compulsive about an idea, and it seems that way even more because it occurs over 20 episodes span.

      BTW, do you love the book or the Disney version?

  14. Hi Michael,
    I’m new, here, but have been a fan and follower of Dramabeans for some time. I found TP after searching for reviews on “Damo”, which I became interested in after watching Ha Ji-won in the first couple of episodes of Secret Garden. I’m glad that I found TP, and I’m really glad that I came upon this recap.
    You seem to “get” the banquet table dream/astral plane scene in much the same way that I do. I know that some viewers have pointed out some issues with this scene, but for me this scene worked, and worked well. I got that it was important that the dream was Joo-won’s…and that, above all else, it was being loved(and loving each other) that brought Ra-im back.

    Thanks again, Michael and Thundie! I look forward to your recap for the two final episodes! Take care!

    • Hi, Sukispop. Long time ago, my sister-in-law wanted me to watch Damo, and I must admit I wasn’t overwhelmed by it and watched only an episode or two, but now I just might give it another try – all thanks to Ha Ji-won.

      Regarding the dream scene, thanks for being a kindred spirit.

  15. I wished I read this great SG recap of yours while the drama was on going so that I could understand the drama better. Your recap completed the whole meaning of the dialogues which is very helpful as a non-Korean like me. The subs were confusing sometimes… Thanks again for the excellent recap! Looking forward for ep.19-20… Fighting!! ^^

  16. Ahh Michael, you just summed the staccato nature of epis 17 and 18 beautifully! Please please please please write a review for episodes 19 and 20, we are counting on you!

    • Hi, bella. Of course I’ll write the review for the episodes 19 and 20. In fact, I just started working on them, so I should finish within the next 48 hours. Thank you.

  17. Thank you Michael for your recap. They are a really help to understand Korean culture. I have one question i dont get it why KJW says that RI is ugly. He mention it several times but in ep 2 he said she is attractive and goodlooking.
    “The face (looks)? Mom, that goes without saying. Of course, she has to be good looking. With a chic short haircut, a little dark complexion, doesn’t smile oft…en…” “The woman who is sitting right in front of me right now…compared to the woman who has been playing havoc with my brain lately… is much more… attractive.”
    Is he saying it because she is actually not his type? I dont get it. Is there maybe an explanation. Thank you.

    • Hi, Pinky. JW is just kidding. It’s his somewhat juvenile way of expressing humor. He is the master of saying opposite of what he means. He must also believe in the old male folklore about keeping women off-balance lest they lose interest in you or something along that line, because he has very odd, quirky, and peculiar personality. Regardless, thank you for reading our recaps.

    • It’s been such a long time since I watched this drama that I gave up after a while trying to find the episode (or Q&A section) where I went over the very question you’re asking. So, I’ll just answer the question from the top of my head.

      Ha Ji-won was fond of threatening Hyun-bin by saying she will make his number 5 vertebra into the number 6, meaning that she will crush, annihilate, or obliterate #5 so as to make it essentially #6 vertebra. This is similar to “I’ll beat you to a pulp,” but with a unique Korean flavor.

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