As if we really need an introduction. Our lovebirds lived happily ever after about says it all. With three adorable rugrats no less. And not in a poor house, either. Just not in his mother’s house. JW gets his memory back and more. And we get a classic ending to beat all endings. And after twenty episodes, I give the Secret Garden its final personal rating, 8 out of 10, which places it at the same pedestal as the previous classics such as Coffee Prince First Shop and My Girl.
The one thing I have always hated about many romantic love stories is the abrupt ending, especially in the Kdrama setting. A happy ending as soon as the two main characters “find” each other is easy to swallow if you have invested only two hours of your life, but not after twenty. I want to savor the sweetness lingering in my soul, enjoy the post-marital passion as well as the inevitable problems inherent therein, and vicariously raise their kids. I get to do a little bit of these here, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
His Royal Highness
Picking up where we left off from the episode 18, RI gets summoned (“moved”) by the tracksuit maniac to his house where JW asks RI to live with him because he “has to find out why” he loved her. When she chuckles and tells him that he has made such overtures to her before and that he had asked her to share his bed and even shower together, he smiles and makes a quip about how their relationship must have been more serious than he thought. And then he throws her a curveball and asks her if she had given in to his “badgering.” When RI seems puzzled by his question, now sitting across from her on the coffee table, JW asks RI, “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.
His sudden encroachment of her personal space initially takes her by surprise, but feeling his essence so close to her, she appears to be fighting her own suddenly arising passion. Looking at her with all of his 21 years of honed sensitivity, he asks her, “Why are you not answering me? Did we kiss?”
Looking at him haltingly and stammering a little, “What do you think?”
“I asked you first, you know.”
RI lets out a puff of air from her mouth, and she starts to chant the familiar words, the very ones JW used to chant when he couldn’t get RI out of his mind.
Afraid that maybe she has gone off the deep end, he backs off her and stands a few feet away from her, “What are you doing?”
Fetchingly, “I’m protecting you.” From her.
“Just as you have protected me, now I’m protecting you… until your memory returns.”
He scoffs mildly. She’s slightly offended, “Why are you laughing?”
As if hard to believe, “I protected you? A healthy 34-year-old me?” Even though he says “healthy” in terms of his physical body, I think he means emotionally, too. Sort of like, ‘In my right mind, why would I do that.’
In her ‘as sure as my name is Gil Ra-im’ tone, “Yeah.”
Even more skeptical, “(That seems) highly unlikely.”
RI raises her eyebrow showing her irritation at his ignorance.
That doesn’t stop him, “You sure it’s not because you have no appeal?” As to why he “protected” her and didn’t pursue her more aggressively before.
Menacingly, “You want to die? After coming back from near-death, you don’t have all your senses back, do you?”
He takes a step back in sudden trepidation, “Is this how you treated me before?”
She smiles somewhat sadistically, “(Only) because you have a little masochistic tendency.”
He takes a few more steps backwards with terror in his eyes, “Don’t tarnish the lost 13 years of my life.”
She looks at him somewhat pitifully as she gets up off the couch, “I’m leaving. (But before I go,) don’t order me around next time. If you want to see me, you can come, understand?” The slight tenderness softens the last word.
He stops her, “Wait. At the risk of repeating myself, I want you to pack up and move in (with me). Stay by my side. But, if I don’t find the reason why I loved you, you have to leave when I ask you to.”
She is surprisingly quiet and pensive.
“No?” He asks her.
Serenely, “Instead of that, should I just stay invisibly by your side and then disappear like bubbles? You know, like the Little Mermaid.”
He looks at her quietly with a slight frown.
A little chirpy now, “Just say the word. I’ve told you before. From now on I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”
Still with a little frown, “Do you even know what you just said means?”
“I do know. I know it too well.” Sounding more light-hearted, “Think about it, and let me know.” She gives him a quick smile, and with her boots making echoing stomping sounds, she walks briskly through the door and onto the deck.
He watches her with a confounded look on his face, and she, from a long narrow walkway of the deck, slows and turns around. She smiles beguilingly at him and then starts to wave her arm. He murmurs to himself, “What is with that woman? Why is she smiling so alluringly* like that?” *prettily, beautifully.
She stops waving but still smiling alluringly, she turns back but this time begins to walk slowly. After a few seconds of deliberation, he runs after her. As soon as she hears the door click open, she resumes her brisk walking pace. While running, he calls to her, “Stop for a minute. Where are you headed to? I’ll give you a ride.”
When she hears him coming near her, she turns around and chides him, “What took you so long?”
He’s clueless, “What?”
“Do you know how slow I had to walk from there to here?” Smiling with charm that could melt the snow, “With an absolutely beautiful view* to kill for (no less).” *The view of her back.
He is flabbergasted, and she’s not done, “(Given the view) you should’ve hurried out to stop me. Whatever took you so long to decide?” To run out and stop her.
He snorts out a breath incredulously, but she is larkishly chirpy, “I have an important meeting today. Due to the accident, I had to stop the shooting, but I think I might get another chance. I’m in a hurry, so give me the key. I’ll drive.”
He snorts twice this time in amazement, while she giggles at his expense.
But in the episode 19, 04:07, RI gets a bad news from the Director Lim that the Dark Blood director decided to cast a Hong Kong actress instead because he couldn’t be sure that he could count on RI’s complete recovery. RI appears to take the news well, and she excuses herself to the powder room. JW looks at RI pensively as she hurries past him. The director Lim tells JW that he’s heard about his memory loss and warns JW not to abandon RI because, as he reminds JW, “You had put your life at stake for her.” And the director walks away.
JW sputters toward the director’s back, “What? My… life?”
He wonders to himself, “(Does he mean) I even put my life at stake for a woman with such short legs?”
Soaps, Stockings, and Lingerie
In the episode 19, 05:45, we see that RI didn’t take the news very well. She sits in front of her locker on the floor reminiscing about the happy days of pre-preparation for the Dark Blood shooting, when ever-so-sensitive JW comes barging in, “It must have been an important movie?”
Still somewhat melancholic, “It’s because that was the miracle you made it happen for me.”
Wistfully, “I really wanted to do well…” Looking up at JW, “I’m sorry.”
Too easily, he nods, “Okay. I’m not really sure what’s going on, but if you did something you’re sorry for, then the next time be sure to pay me back. I’m razor sharp (like this) when it comes to deals.”
RI can’t help but laugh, because it’s one of his many now endearing sayings.
“By the way, why do you put soaps in the stockings?”
Automatically, she answers him, “That’s because I don’t want to throw away the soap fragments, so I collect …”
It suddenly occurs to her that he has not seen the inside of her locker since the memory loss, and she gets up off the floor in a sudden rush, “What?”
“Your locker…” Then he realizes, “Uh? How do I know that? Have I seen your locker before?”
She nods, “Yes, when our bodies changed.”
He frowns, “When our what changed?”
With a no-nonsense expression, “That I’ll tell you later. I think your memory may be returning.”
He tries on a similarly serious facial expression.
Excitedly she asks, “Do you remember anything else?”
He tries a thinking expression this time, “Let’s see.”
He starts to squint his eyes a little, “You were…”
She gasps in anticipation. He doesn’t disappoint, “(You were) wearing flimsy lingerie and were cursing me out…”
Realizing that she’s been had, she kicks his shin really hard, which causes him to cry out in pain, “Hey!”
She looks at him in pure anger, while he tries to rub the pain away from his shin unsuccessfully as his face is still contorted in pain.
I guess his body remembered, but apparently not his mouth.
The Hot Tub
Okay, I spoke too soon. In the episode 19, 14:00, his hands don’t remember much either. Secretary Kim comes knocking at RI’s house to notify her that JW wants her moved again. RI grumbles to herself, “If he wants to see me, he should come, why is he ordering me around. That little peanut…” But she chirps to Secretary Kim, “Where does he want me moved this time?”
Well, none other than a fancy public hot tub with wine and candles on the side, of course. RI’s not happy to be there. She is wearing white sleeveless T-shirt and short, short cutoff frayed denim shorts. In fact, it’s so short that the front pockets are protruding from under the shorts onto her thighs. JW is already sitting in the tub, while RI stands outside the tub staring at him, “You want to die? Why did you bring me to a place like this?”
“Why do you think I brought you to a place like this? I wanted to check out your figure.”
She glares at him with her trademark gesture of biting the half of her lip.
He makes an observation, “But your attire seems very rebellious.” He means that her outfit is not typical of something one would wear in a hot tub.
RI shows a mild disgust on her face, “Ah. This pretty boy. You think just because you’ve had a brief reprieve from (my) corporal punishment, you think your life is all pasta tone, don’t you?” I wonder if she knows not everybody likes pasta. I think she means by pasta tone, calm and peaceful.
“I don’t know how I was at 34 years of age, but at 21, this is how I enjoy life.” He then grabs her hand and pulls her into the tub, “Come in (already).” She shrieks and shrieks until she is safely situated in the tub across from him. She is fuming, “Ah, see. You really want to die?”
He just looks at her with a devil-may-care grin.
RI is curious, “Did you play like this when you were young?”
Grinning wider, “Yeah.”
“With whom?” Then it occurs to her, “With women?”
Proudly with a teasing grin, “Yeah. With pretty women.”
She glares at him, and it occurs to him, “Wait. (It looks like) you don’t know that much about me. Are you sure we dated?”
“What about you? Do you know anything about me?”
He frowns, “Wait a minute. Don’t tell me you have a complicated history with men?”
She pretends to act airy and nonchalant, “I guess you didn’t know. I hung around mostly with men.”
He’s not happy, “What?”
She’s having a ball teasing him, “The places (we hung around in) were mostly bamboo grove, countryside, etc.”
She smiles suggestively at him, “Because men seemed to like it (there).”
“What? Bamboo… grove?” And he starts to say “Wah!” in shocked protest, but then he abruptly stops, “You thought I was going to say that, didn’t you? I’m not going to fall for the same trick twice.”
In defiance, “What (about it)?”
She brightens, “You just remembered, right?” That she’s not that kind of woman.
“What?” And then he contemplates, “You think so?”
She is so happy that she jumps from the water and hugs him, “I knew you’d remember.” Her voice almost choking, she hugs him tighter, “I (just) knew it.”
He doesn’t seem to know exactly what it is that he has supposedly remembered, but he is not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. He beams, “Now that we are in this position, I think I’m beginning to remember other things as well…” As he talks, his hands at the small of her back start to creep slowly downward.
She bites her lip again and sternly tells him in no uncertain term, “Your hands, back to their original place (손 원위치).”*
Still smiling in a creepy manner, “(I’ve told you) I’m beginning to remember…”
She pulls away from him, and at arm’s length she tells him sweetly, “(I guess) I’ll just have to make you remember.” And then she twists his left arm behind him as he screams in pain. She reminds him, “We did this once every two days. You remember, right?”
He screams more in pain, and he tells her to let him go.
As she twists the arm more, “(We) will go right back up to Seoul, raise your right hand. Will remain here, left hand.”
“How can I lift my left hand? Can I just lift my left foot instead?”
She twists the arm even more, and he screams even more.
*Son won wie-chi (손 원위치): son, with ‘o’ sound as in ‘oh,’ (손) means hand or hands. Won wie-chi (원위치) means the original position: won (원) – original, previous; wie-chi (위치) -position.
In the episode 19, 30:15, knowing that JW is in RI’s house, JW’s mother calls him and tells him that RI’s father passed away in the process of saving him and how RI is attempting to use that information to ensnare him. After asking Oska to leave, JW asks RI if they dated for real, how is it possible that she lives in a place like this. He reasons to her that if they really dated, he wouldn’t have let her live in a place like this. She tells him that “a lot of things have happened. I can explain everything…”
JW interrupts her, “No. Don’t do it. I think this is a problem where I have to solve by remembering it myself. If you have thoroughly deceived me already and wish to continue to do so, then I may (still) want to be deceived (by you).”
It’s cute to know that even when he doesn’t remember everything, JW realizes that he is smitten enough with RI already to want to believe whatever RI tells him.
The Modern Mermaid Story
In the episode 19, 39:20, we are witnesses to the monumental change in the history of a particular fairytale named the Little Mermaid. As JW stands in his study looking out the window, he can’t seem to shake the words of his mother that RI wants to use him for her selfish gains. He sighs and walks to the bookshelf to look for a book to read, perhaps to take his mind off his mother and RI when he notices a folded paper sticking out of the book, Alice in Wonderland. He sees that the last entry was crossed out and changed. The new and improved version reads:
And just as the Little Mermaid was about to be turned into bubbles and disappear, the prince who has realized the truth asked the princess from the neighboring kingdom, “Is this the best you can do? Are you sure?” and broke off the engagement. He ran (and swam) to the Little Mermaid, but the Little Mermaid, (while in the water) had plenty of time and ingenuity to study the water bubbles and (later) applying the bubble knowledge to air, she developed air bubble washing machine and became jae-bol (재벌)*.
In the mean time, the prince went bankrupt from bad (묻지마)** investment, became the Little Mermaid’s “Secretary Kim,” and they lived a long, long… really just looong time. (Not necessarily happily, just the emphasis on the longevity)
*Jae-bol (재벌), or more commonly known as chaebol, is a person who owns a conglomerate, a large corporation consisting usually of a group of companies, the connotation being that the person is filthy rich.
**Moot-ji-ma (묻지마) means ‘Don’t ask.’ Obviously, if they were good investments, the prince wouldn’t say, don’t ask. So, instead of ‘bad investment,’ it’s ‘don’t ask investment.’ It sounds funnier in Korean.
After JW has read the revision out loud, he scoffs, “What is this? What kind of a lunatic would do something so juvenile?”
He folds the page and is about to put it back, when he opens it again, “Uh? But this is my handwriting.” He lifts the page up closer to get a different perspective, but he comes up with the same conclusion, “This is really my handwriting.” He doesn’t know what to make of it, “What is this?”
Then he remembers what RI had told him earlier, Instead of that, should I just stay invisibly by your side and then disappear like bubbles? You know, like the Little Mermaid.
The two words, (the) Little Mermaid, that he repeats jogs his memory and opens a floodgate of memories including the one long locked away. He recalls the similar words he had said to RI that earned him a resounding slap in the face, the broken vase spewing red roses where he now stares emptily, the chair that he once cried uncontrollably in writing the letter, and the storm filled horizon he drove comatose RI into.
Once he remembers, once the memories start to burst out, he runs like a madman across his vast estate to get to his car. As he’s driving, the images of his life he had forgotten he spent with RI come rushing out of his brain faster than he can drive. But when one particular memory resurfaces, the one where young RI in her school uniform is sprawled on the funeral parlor floor crying inconsolably calling out her daddy, he can’t help but stop his car. “That was Ra-im. That girl was Ra-im.” His eyes glisten and a tear falls as he remembers. He calls her on his cell, “Where are you? Gil Ra-im. Where are you right now?”
Honoring her Father
In the episode 19, 44:40, JW stands in front of RI as she opens the door to her house. She looks worried, “What’s the matter? Is anything the matter?”
Wearing a calm smile, he grabs her hand and leads her inside. She stops him in the middle of the kitchen, “What’s the matter? What is it? What is the matter? If you have some wrong idea about my father, I’ll explain everything.”
He continues to look at her tenderly with a warm smile, and she starts slowly, “Actually, my father…”
He suddenly hugs her.
She’s confused, “It’s not about my father? If not, why are you here?”
He sighs contently, “I came to do this.”
Her eyes widen with hope, “You got your memory back? You remember everything?”
She breaks the embrace, disappointed, “You didn’t? But you just…”
“I decided to have a seun (Korean blind date).”
Visibly agitated, “What? Why? Why are you doing a seun? I’m telling you, you really liked me.”
Nonchalantly, “I don’t know. The way you’re coming on so strong, I’m beginning to have some doubts. (I mean) if love can be forced, then there wouldn’t be any true love in this world.”
RI appears anxiously desperate.
He crosses his arms and with a grin on his face, “The more I think about it, (the more I realize) you’re just not my type. Do you think it makes any sense that I could have liked someone like you?”
Almost teary-eyed, she can only say, “Kim Joo-won.” As if to say, how could you.
He almost gives it away by smiling too much, “What exactly have you done to me? For someone without much family, education, or appearance to speak of, how dare you turn me into a clinging vine?”
She begins to suspect, and he gives a hint, “Since when did Ms. Gil Ra-im become so dumb? Since last year? You should’ve caught onto me by now.” He had asked her before, When did Ms. Gil Ra-im become so pretty? Since last year? when she was helping him with the sit-ups.
She caught onto him, but she’s too scared to say it.
He helps her, “What do you think I’m doing here at this time of the night, woman?” Because I missed you, he had told her before in front of her house. “Because I remembered everything.”
She is shocked, pleased, and then so happy that she starts to cry.
His grin at seeing her shock and happiness turns into a frown and panic. He stammers, “Sor…sorry. Just to make it sweeter, I was teasing you.”
Crying, she hits him lightly but repeatedly with both hands, “You’re a dead man. I’m going to kill you.”
He grabs both of her wrists to stop her, “Ah! That hurts. Hold still for a minute. I still have something important to tell you.”
Teary-voiced, “What is it? What is it, you jerk, what?”
He tenderly gives her a kiss on her forehead, “I love you. That was for me.”
She is still miffed, “I don’t want it, you jerk.”
He gives a kiss again on her forehead, “I really love you. That was for your father (아버님)*.”
Automatically, “I don’t want…” But then the word, ‘your father’ registers into her sniffling head, “What?”
He recounts to her exactly what happened 13 years ago:
He was trapped in the elevator. He could hardly get up because he injured his leg. Due to the smoke from the fire, it was difficult to even breathe let alone trying to yell for help. But yell he does, and RI’s father hears it.
JW holds RI’s hands, “When I thought for sure I was going to die, the elevator door miraculously opened. And then a certain fireman extended his hand in my direction.” Her eyes overflow with tears, and she looks as though she’s right there with them.
But when JW couldn’t even stand up let alone reach for the outstretched hand due to the leg injury, her father crawls through the small opening and jumps down into the elevator. His father gives him some oxygen through the portable oxygen tank he brought, and helps him up. At this point, the elevator, perhaps due to the cord damage from the fire, starts to plummet down, and at the same time causes the elevator door to close. When JW starts to panic, her father calmly tells him not to worry, because he has to get out as his daughter is waiting for him. Her father temporarily gets the walkie-talkie to work to inform his comrades of the situation, and he manages to pry the elevator door open with his handy hatchet and keeps the door open by wedging the hatchet between the doors.
As he helps JW up to the safe place out of the elevator, he jokingly promises JW to introduce Ra-im. Once JW has safely gotten out of the elevator, he gives JW the oxygen tank and mask and makes him use it again. But as he prepares to escape as well, he feels the instability of the elevator as it shakes and vibrates as if it’s going to plummet down again any minute. Her father, at that moment, decides to let go of JW’s hand lest he pulls JW into the elevator, and asks protesting JW, “Tell my daughter I’m sorry for being late, that I love her… that her father really loves her.” And he roughly pushes JW away from the elevator seconds before the elevator plummets into an inferno.
RI is in a sea of tears by the time he’s done with the story. JW tells her quietly, “Those were his last words.” As tears well up in his own eyes, he tells her “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry to deliver this message so late.”
She shakes her head to reassure him. He hugs her and tells her again, “I’m sorry.”
“No,” She tells him while sobbing, “Thank you. However late, at least now I know how much I was loved, so I’m grateful (to you).”
And they hug for a long time to comfort each other the best way they can.
*Ah-buh-nim (아버님) means ‘father’ and a higher form of ah-buh-ji (아버지), whereas ah-bba (아빠) is an informal, more intimate expression. So, ah-buh-nim (아버님) is commonly used to address parent-in-law, while RI calls her father, ah-bba (아빠). Speaking of ah-bba (아빠), the word that we are now very familiar with, ‘oppa,’ is actually pronounced ‘oh-bba’ (오빠), similarly to ah-bba (아빠). The significance of JW using the word ah-buh-nim (아버님), just as RI has used uh-muh-nim (어머님) to address JW’s mother, is obvious. By the way, uhm-ma (엄마) is a more intimate form of ‘mother’, akin to ‘mom.’
Joo-won’s Pledge to her Father
In the episode 19, 58:12, RI and JW place a bouquet of flowers in front of her father’s memorial. As they both stand solemnly, JW pays his respect to the man who saved his life, “I’m sorry to deliver your last words, your last wish so late… (sorry) that it took so long. I did go to deliver your words, but I wasn’t able to do it.”
RI, at this point, looks at JW quizzically. He goes on, “(So) I’m sorry. And for saving my life, I verily thank you.”
RI looks at him moved, and her faint smile becomes a tad bit wider when he tells her father, “And your daughter has grown up to be a great person. I’m sure I’m not worthy of her, but if you grant my wish, I’ll forever live happily as this woman’s man, as Gil Ra-im’s man.”
RI can’t help smile even wider, and as JW holds her hand, they stare lovingly at each other for a long time.
In the episode 19, 01:00:09, RI and JW both get out of the car in front of her house. JW, perhaps for the first time in his life, is unsure about something, “Do you think your father would have liked me?”
Glibly, “I highly doubt it. What father would like a guy who puts his daughter down and makes her cry all the time?”
He doesn’t deny the accusation, “Hey. (But) what can we do (about it) now?”
“What can we do? There is only one way. You just love me like there is no tomorrow, and I love you insanely.” He slowly smiles at that.
Something occurs to her, “By the way, what did you mean back there when you said, you came to deliver my father’s last words, but you couldn’t?”
Patience, Ra-im. It will be revealed to you in due time. “That was between your father and me. Why are you curious about that?”
“Of course, I’m curious.” She means she can’t help being curious. Very adorably, “What was it?”
Seemingly immune to her charms, “If you have to know, ask your father.”
RI gives him a mild crossed look.
Unaffected, he tells her “We have to go somewhere tomorrow. Wear your best outfit and wait for me. I’ll come and pick you up. Bye.”
“Tomorrow? Where are we going?”
We get a clue in the beginning of the episode 20, because JW tells his mother that night he’s going to spend the rest of his life as RI’s husband. He wants her to know how happy he is. She replies that what mother doesn’t want happiness for her child, but she tells him that what he’s feeling is not happiness, but temporary bewitchment by RI. It’s something that happens once in everyone’s life, she says, “Like when I met your father. But the one that gets tired of us and leaves is that side, not us.” By ‘that side,’ she means the poor and less privileged people. Obviously, she must think she’s a wonderful person to live with. The reason why she doesn’t accept RI into her heart to the bitter end becomes clear, and it’s because she blames her pain wholly and completely on her estranged husband.
Sweet and Terse
JW’s proposal is not as lengthy as Assorted Gems’ (보석 비빔밥) Jae-suk to Bichwi, but, to me, it is just as sweet, poignant, and from the heart.
In the episode 20, 05:49, JW is driving RI to the city hall, and he makes sure that both Oska and Seul are there. Overhearing the cell phone conversation, RI is curious, “Is today some sort of a day for celebration? Are we all going out for dinner or something?”
He smiles at her warmly, “If I just promise to feed you, you will come anywhere holding my hands?”
Pouting, “You think I’m some kind of sic-choong (식충)? Where are we going?” Sic-choong (식충) is someone who does nothing all day but eat.
Smiling, he tells her “You’ll see when you get there.”
In episode 20, 06:25, they walk into a city hall building. RI’s curious, “Why are we here?”
JW stops walking, “If you want to run, do so now because you won’t have that chance afterward.”
“What do you mean?”
He smiles and holds her hand, “Let’s go in.”
She pulls her hand back and thus his arm with it and looks at him, “You are not…”
Calmly, “Yes, I’ve decided to become your husband.”
A surprise faintly showing on her face, she pulls her hand free, “With whose authorization?”
Cocky sure of himself, “Because I just said so. Gil Ra-im has 10 minutes before she becomes a married woman (유부녀). You have anything you want to do (before that happens)?” Yoo-boo-nyu (유부녀) is a married woman, and yoo-boo-nam (유부남) is a married man.
Giving him the evil eyes, “You’re a jerk for making me a married woman without uttering even empty words like ‘I love you.’”
“Why would I have to utter such empty words? It’s not like I want to be your husband because I love you.”
“Then what is it? Is it something like, a societal leader’s good deed…”
He interrupts her, “I was right, you’re (definitely) not bright. It’s not because I love you, it’s because I love only you.” RI’s expression changes. “If I don’t have you, then I no longer have any reason to choose (any other), you amazing woman you.”
Momentarily taken back, she now smiles happily and contently.
He offers her his hand, “There will be no flowers, candles, wine, or even an ever-present ring either, but will you still be my wife?”
She looks at him with clarity and love hitherto not shown, she puts her hand on his with a smile, “Of course.”
He smiles back and holds her hand tighter, while they get lost in each other’s eyes.
The First Night Fireworks
In episode 20, 10:45, Seul is busy decorating the newlyweds’ bedroom, and she tells Oska how fortunate it is that JW got his memory back. Oska agrees and tells her that he has learned something from them, that “With the passage of time, even the bad memories can be a seed (단서) of happiness.” Don-suh (단서) means a seed or a start.
And he promises Seul that from now on, he’s going to try to remember how they loved, how they parted, and how they met again, the all of their difficult memories.
Seul teases him that he should just forget everything so conveniently again.
Oska defends himself, “It’s not because I want to forget. It’s because I’m getting old. Must you touch my sore spot?”
Seul can’t help but smile.
Oska takes this opportunity, “So you have to do my music video, okay? Before I get too old?” For her to direct his music video.
“I’m going to charge you a lot.”
Excited, “Of course. I’m going to give you tons (of money).”
To seal the deal, he hugs her, “This means you agreed, okay? Alright?”
She smiles but pretends to be irritated, “But why do you hug me at a drop of a hat?”
Oska smiles sheepishly, but not for long.
Not if JW can help it, “Don’t tell me you dated him without knowing that.”
Oska parts from Seul quickly, and JW asks him, “What are you doing in a newlyweds’ house?”
Using both hands to show off the decorations, “We did this! This!”
“You just did something else, (I saw it).”
Seul smiles mirthfully, but Oska is busy defending his besmirching of the sacred wedded temple, “It was for a short time. Short!”
Oska recovers quickly though, “Ms. Ra-im. Your fairy godmother’s wedding present!” as he grandly showcases Seul’s work as his own.
RI thanks both of them, and Seul wishes them well on their first night.
JW thanks her, “It would’ve been even better had we met when I was 21 years old, right?” Oska was there when then amnesic 21-year old JW tried to hit on Seul.
That comment gets a certain look from RI and an appreciative chuckle from Seul.
The most violent response, however, you guessed it, comes from Oska, “Hey! Before you spend your first night (of wedded bliss), you want this to be the last night of your life?”
RI thinks it’s funny, and JW rephrases, “(I’m just saying that) for Hyung, she’s too good for you.” JW’s had enough small talk for the night. He tells Oska, “Hurry up and leave. We have some things to do…”
He can’t finish the sentence because RI pinches him, “Ow! What?”
Getting the not-so-subtle hint, “We are leaving! Leaving!” Oska holds Seul’s hand and tells her sweetly, “Let’s go.”
As they are walking out, Oska asks Seul, “It’s late at night, are you sure you can go home?” Seul yells at him, “Ah, really!” Well, you can’t blame Oska for trying.
JW is not out of the doghouse either. RI glares at him, “Why did you do that? It was embarrassing.”
“What was so embarrassing (about that)? We are now married.”
He smiles and opens his arms wide, “Come here.”
“Don’t do it,” she warns him.
He’s not happy, “Why can’t I?” He recites the beginning of his mindless chant to show her how patiently he has waited all this time, telling her in his own way not to torture him anymore.
He tries to grab her as he orders her to come to him, but she is too fast for him. She easily escapes him not just once, but twice. The second time he misses catching her, he falls on the bed. His manly pride hurt, he tries to lunge at her, but she stops him cold in his track with her index finger in the air and three simple words, “Stop right there.” <Stop your movement>
She smiles at him adoringly and with her index finger still dancing in the air, she tells him “You stay right there.” Then she pushes his chest with her hands, causing him to end up lying on his back on the bed not knowing what to make of this sudden tigress. Then she joins him on the bed with a seductive smile. He’s all smiles, too, “Ah, see (시)*. I didn’t know you had this side to your personality.” They proceed to wrestle each other’s lips and bodies into oblivion.
*Usually, see (시) is an exclamation used to express displeasure, but here, JW uses it to express his wonderment and admiration. Leave it to JW to shake the very foundation of Korean language.
My Fifth Most Favorite Scene thus far
After the fireworks-filled first night, our two lovebirds spend their honeymoon (What? No real honeymoon? As in outside of the municipality?) walking in their snow-covered estate hand in hand, eating strawberries with cream in bed, getting distracted while eating strawberries in bed thanks to the cream on her lips, and enjoying the snow-covered pond view from a toasty blanket-for-two perspective.
In the episode 20, 16:30, the two are relaxing in their study reading books. JW’s sitting on the sofa, and RI’s using JW’s thigh for a pillow. Just looking at RI brings a smile to his face. He puts the Alice in Wonderland book in the direct path of her reading vision. The folded page from the Little Mermaid is still peeking out from the book, and RI tenderly strokes the book cover nostalgically, “(You) read it?”
“I did, but the Little Mermaid ending was different from what we’ve read.”
That piques her interest, “What do you mean?” She takes the note out and reads it, and she loves it. A smile turns into a happy laugh, but she pretends otherwise, “Secretary Kim, the ending totally stinks (구리다)*, you know.”
He is offended, “That was my best…” He snatches the note from her, “What do you know about love?”
“What about you? What do you know about love? What did you say before? What? The Little Mermaid is the world’s first second-child?” He means she was a mermaid first, then a human child the second.
“That is true.”
“Then what was Snow White?”
“It was a story about a societal leader woman who took care of the alienated seven dwarves until the societal leader kiss, and then she took off totally abandoning the dwarves.”
She chuckles despite herself, “Then what about Sleeping Beauty?”
He’s on a roll, “A societal leader woman who slept and slept until it became a societal problem, and then she met a societal leader man. (And then everything became hunky dory.) The lesson here is that you’ll succeed if you just persist and persevere in one thing.” Even if that one thing is sleeping, he means.
“Wow!” RI marvels (sarcastically) at his insight and acumen.
JW is curious, “You know, come to think of it, because they were princesses and beautiful I can understand why the princes fell in love at first sight, but you… how did you manage to snare me with that face?”
He just crossed the line. She bolts up off the couch and starts to pummel him, “Come back here. You once said I was pretty. You’d said, ‘Gil Ra-im, since what age were you this pretty?’” she reminds him as she chases him all around the study. He said this to her while she was helping him do sit-ups. She was reportedly playing hard to get, for the lack of better words, back then.
As they are walking briskly around the large table playing hard to get, he teases her, “Hey, when a guy is courting a girl, there is nothing he won’t say to woo her. What I meant to say was, “Do you know how unattractive (미운)** you look if you add obstinance to ugliness?’” He’s saying she was obstinate when she was playing hard to get, back then.
She is not amused. “Stop right there.”
He teases her mercilessly, “Would you stop if you were me? You can’t catch me with those short legs.”
That gets her ire and motor going, “You’re a dead man,” and he has to speed up to keep a safe distance from her.
*Goo-ri-da (구리다) is short for goo-ri-tuh-boon-ha-da (구리터분하다) which means foul-smelling, stinking, shady, fishy.
**Mi-oon (미운) is a variation of mip-da (밉다) which as we covered before is a milder form of hate. In this context, ‘unattractive’ suits better, however.
I haven’t had a favorite scene in a while, so I had to go all the way back to 10th episode to find my 4th because I forgot what number this should be. Why is this my 5th most favorite scene? Well, for one because it gives us a change of pace, a lovers’ comic quarrel if you will, sort of like a cardiac relief from all the heart-wrenching, heart palpitation, and heart titillation that we’ve been exposed to lately. Two, because even though JW loves RI with all his heart, he is still not above teasing her. Even when he calls her ugly and short, he still sounds adorable because she knows his heart sings a different tune. But the fact that he can tease her like this and is still alive is amazing, and it’s a definite testament to the strength of their love – and her patience.
One Thing after Another leads to… Three
Their post-marital passion fire burns strong as we can see in the episode 20, 35:34. JW is drinking what may be milk right from the carton. He looks tired, but coming down the stairs from their bedroom upstairs, RI looks worse. She is yawning, stretching, and moaning, and once safely down the steps, she continues to walk but doesn’t bother to open her eyes. She weaves as she walks, and JW steadies her at the last minute, preventing her from bumping into the collection of vases. Smiling, JW says, “Aaah!”
And when she repeats after him, JW pours the drink into her mouth carefully and amusingly. Energized by the drink, she opens her eyes and tells him babyishly, “I have a shooting today.”
He frowns, “Is it dangerous?”
Matter-of-factly, “Of course, it’s dangerous.” She then playfully chides him, “That’s why… you should’ve let me sleep…” She grunts in frustration and turns around, but she doesn’t get too far as JW holds her up by the hood of her sweat shirt and pulls her back to him, “Iish. If you’re going to be like that, then stop the darn thing.” He means the shooting.
Looking like an angry but cute bunny, she gives him a defiant look and walks away.
In the episode 20, 46:22, JW helps RI with her sit-ups on the bed. Earlier in the Oska concert, JW didn’t look happy when RI yelled, “oppa” to Oska on the stage, so I’m not sure if the newlyweds had a heart-to-heart talk afterward, but we hear JW’s voice – Since the concert, Ra-im has made a definitive switch from Oska oppa to Kim Joo-won oppa, and we are now trying our best to show how corny* newlyweds in love can really be. It was hard for me to believe, but I had quite a talent in being corny – as JW tries to kiss RI as she comes up from the sit-up, but the first time he puts his lips close to hers, she smiles but pushes him away. The next time, he angles his face better but she with her superb athleticism stops within a millimeter of his lips. She shows her displeasure by partially biting her lips. But the third time is the charm as his lips meet hers perfectly as she comes up. Smiling but annoyed, she tries to maul his face, but he has a better idea. Yup, you guessed it. He gets her under the cover again.
*Yoo-chi ha-da (유치하다) means being childish, immature, juvenile, or infantile, but in this case, corny fits better as in mawkishly sentimental.
JW and RI continue their kissing blast. They kiss after the snow fight and in the elevator at his work in the episode 20, 47:32. Ra-im, looking slightly miffed, stomps toward and gets into an elevator. Maybe too much of a good thing is getting to her. She pushes the <door close> button furiously. But JW stops the door from closing, “I can now ride, you know.”
Flashing a quick grin, he grabs and places her against the elevator wall. She smiles at him happily, and he obliges her. But their kissing is witnessed and interrupted by an entourage of his underlings who were only looking for a functioning elevator. We hear JW’s voice again, One thing led to more things, and the family grew… a lot. The screen shows many stuffed Cheshire kittens on the window ledge and the words, “5 years later,” as JW puts three adorable looking toddler shoes on the ledge.
You could say that, having been a shining model for childbirth emotional support policy, the societal leader’s swordplay expertise was at full display here.
JW is equating his ability to get RI pregnant, or maybe the process preceding it, as a sword fight.
My Sixth Most Favorite Scene thus far
In the episode 20, 58:33, JW’s putting the two older kids to sleep, and RI’s holding the youngest girl in her arm doing the same. But, after RI puts the girl down in the crib, and they try to quietly sneak out of the kids’ bedroom, the oldest boy sits up, “Mommy!”
The parents freeze and then guiltily turn around. The boy speaks for all of the kids, “We are not yet sleeping, you know.” And then he shakes his brother next to him, “Wake up.”
His father growls at him, “Hey! Why are you waking the sleeping child? You want your fifth vertebra to be the sixth one?” That gets a look from RI.
“I want to sleep with Mommy tonight.”
His father sticks out his face like a kid, “Says who? I am going to sleep (with her).”
“Iish. Mommy, I hate (미워)* Daddy.” *Mi-whuh (미워). Remember mip-da (밉다)? It’s the variation of the same word.
His mother tells him tenderly with a touch of smile, “I mi-whuh you (right now). Hurry and go to sleep.”
He wails, “Mommy!”
His father barks at him, “Go to sleep!”
JW walks over to him, does his patented finger-in-the-forehead thing to put him down again, and then pats his behind, “Hurry and go to sleep.”
The boy gets up again, and this time louder, “Mo…mmmy!”
JW fingers him down again, “Uh-huh! I said go to sleep.” Remember the exclamation used by a grandfather or a king when not pleased.
The boy looks at his father, not finding any mercy there, gets up again to wail, “Mo…mmy!”
It must have been some time after that, because the next scene shows RI sleeping on the kids’ bed next to the crib holding the baby’s hand. JW quietly gets off the bed from the oldest boy’s side, and gently pries her hand off from the baby’s, and lifts her up in his arm. He carries her on his arm like that outside.
Why did I like this segment so much? Well, first, any household that has their children’s pictures blown up and posted on the wall is my kind of household, the one that shows not only to the world but to their children that they are precious. And it’s beside the point that they all look adorable. Two, I love the fact that the kids are not afraid to voice their opinions and that they eventually get their ways. They are being loved, and it’s a sight to cherish. And I love that even after three children, JW and RI’s passion grows strong.
Snow at Her Beckon
JW walks on the narrow strip of the deck carrying RI toward their own house.
“Aren’t I heavy?” RI asks JW.
Matter-of-factly, “You are.”
“Then I want to get down.”
“You can’t get down… without giving me a kiss.”
She gives him a loud kiss on his cheek.
He hugs her from behind as they walk in unison, and she sounds content, “Ah! I wish it would snow.”
He looks up the sky, “How can it snow when the moon is so bright like this?”
She smiles in contentment, “You think so?”
We hear RI’s voice, We still don’t have even one wedding picture. But we love and are loved in return as we live every day magically. Loving someone may be very much like gardening. We wish your garden also blooms pretty flowers, may refreshing winds blow, may the sun shine brilliantly, and we wish you’d get enchanting rain at times as well.
At that very moment, RI exclaims wondrously, “Ah? It’s snowing.”
As they enjoy the pure beauty of snow together, RI asks JW in her mind, By the way, you really are not going to tell me?
JW replies just as silently and gently, What?
When we went to see my father, you said, you came to see me but you couldn’t deliver the message.
The End that was the Beginning
The patience, five years of it, finally rewards RI. The next scene in the episode 20, 01:02:23, takes us back to RI’s father’s funeral. In his hospital gown, JW walks gingerly to the room where he sees a grieving RI sprawled on the floor calling out her Daddy. He sits right outside the room silently crying, as sobbing RI greets the well-wishers.
It’s late that night. All the well-wishers had left, and JW walks slowly to where RI is sleeping on her side with her arms as a pillow on the floor, probably exhausted from crying all day. He bends his knees to squat down next to her and watches her tenderly with tears forming in his eyes.
As the tear finally falls down his face, he repeatedly tells her, “I’m sorry.”
Exhausted perhaps from saying too many ‘I’m sorry’s, he keels over next to her, and he ends up lying on his side forming a mirror image of her position. He opens his eyes to look at her sleeping face. She begins to sob faintly, and then she scowls as if she’s having a bad dream. He instinctively and slowly puts his index finger gently on the scowl between the eyes, and the scowl immediately disappears and her countenance visibly relaxes. In fact, she looks… happy and content. Having done its work for the day, his hand drops from midair directly onto her hand. Not realizing the significance of what he has done, he also slumbers into dreamland.
Why didn’t I take this ending to be my seventh most favorite scene? Because this ending is too special to imprison it under just one category. JW doesn’t believe in fate or destiny, but whether he likes it or not, he was destined to meet and fall in love with RI. Regardless of how they met, there was a supernatural connection between them that transcended logic and the physical law of nature. We now understand why JW always thought RI looked somewhat melancholic and why it bothered him so much. They were joined in their hands as well as in their spirits from the very beginning.
The Top Ten Reasons why I love SG
So, given that this drama has given me my six most favorite scenes, in essence they are my six scrumptious reasons why after 20 episodes I rate this drama an 8. But if I were to parody David Letterman’s Top Ten Reasons, I have to give four more reasons why I rate this drama an 8. Technically, I give it an 8.5, but let’s not quibble over decimals. So, without further ado, here is the rest of the countdown.
The number 4 reason why I rate the Secret Garden an 8 is because as much as I hated JW’s mother character, the writer kept this sweet drama from going completely and nauseatingly saccharine and kept the witch still bitter but mellow enough for her to enjoy her grandchildren.
The number 3: Because the writer gave us interesting and funny side characters, and I’m not even talking about Oska and Seul. The conversation that ensues between Ah-young and JW when AH first finds out that JW is the CEO is as entertaining and funny as any in this drama. And the comic relief in the person of Secretary Kim was priceless.
The number 2: Because there were many different kinds of love besides the white hot romantic kind in this drama. The love of RI’s father for his daughter aside, I loved the best friendship love between RI and Ah-young, the love between the two bickering cousins, the protective shielding love of Oska for RI, the late-blooming love of Seul for RI and JW, JW’s little sister’s love for everyone, the special bond between the director Lim and RI, and the big brotherly love of Hwang Jung-han, the one who helped JW with RI, as well as that of her Action School comrades for RI. And I was actually touched by JW’s grandfather’s new wife. She appears to really love the old gramps, and she has the heart big enough to look after JW’s interest over that of her own flesh and blood, which in Korea is almost unheard of. We even had an unrequited gay love to boot. Speaking of unrequited love, whatever happened to the crush JW’s sister had on the director Lim? Maybe she should’ve taken the place of the lovely Son Ye-jin’s cameo appearance to give us a closure of some kind in their relationship.
But, be that as it may, instead of having Paul Shaffer band blaring, let’s have the Kim children, only because they have shown talent for it, wail this one out, … the number one reason why I rate this drama an 8 is… because I love everything about Ha Ji-won. I love her dazzling smile, her biting lips in anger, her acting prowess, and her screen presence and chemistry with Hyun Bin. Yes, I know this isn’t exactly a best kept secret, but, hey, I never said I wasn’t shallow.
The last housekeeping note: I want to thank everyone who enjoyed our recaps as well as dramaok for always being there to extend a helping hand. Thanks, dramaok, for being my bbak (빽). (Bbak (빽) actually comes from an English word, ‘background.’ Bbak means having a background pillar to aid. The word is very commonly used in Korea and in Kdrama, and it usually means having a staunch backer in terms of money, influence, and power. Sorry, the dreaded lessons till the end.) And lastly, a very special thanks to my good friend, whom without her special talent and big, big heart, all this would not have been possible. Thank you, thundie. You are the best friend a guy could have (sorry to lump you in the company of dogs).