Lie To Me: A Love Story

I was pretty certain that I had to wait at least a few years after Secret Garden before I chanced upon another drama in a romantic comedy genre worth raving about. After all, there were similar intervals between My Girl (2005), Coffee Prince, First Shop (2007), and Secret Garden (2010).

But it was the kiss, one of many I might add, that told me loud and clear maybe I didn’t have to wait that long this time. The telltale signs were all there because I found myself watching certain scenes over and over again without becoming tired of them. But this obsessive-compulsive phenomenon didn’t happen until the end of the fifth episode, when the first kiss occurs. Does this mean this drama is not worth watching until the episode 5? Hardly.

The participants in this momentous kiss appear in a new SBS drama Lie To Me starring Yoon Eun-hye as Gong Ah-jung and Kang Ji-hwan as Hyun Ki-joon. The kisses have enjoyed such acclaim, even before they were aired, that they even have their own names: the ice cream kiss and the cola kiss.

But this drama is much more than the kisses. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kiss scenes like any other hot blooded Homo sapiens. But there is more to their romance than the kisses. I was savoring the slow buildup of their romantic tension of volcanic proportion before it erupted into the kiss.

Toward the latter part of the drama, the story becomes somewhat choppy, perhaps because a different writer had to take over the writing helm due to the ailing health problem of the original writer, but it is still one of the sweetest love stories ever told. Let me re-tell you all about it.

But first, let’s start with our prince charming, Hyun Ki-joon. From the moment we set eyes on him in the first scene of the first episode, we sense that he stands out in more ways than one.

First of all, he is the CEO of World Hotel with a pristine appearance, attention to details, and demand for excellence from all of his staff. As he walks majestically through the hallowed nooks and crevices of his hotel as a part of his walk-through for the wedding ceremony to be held in this very hotel tomorrow, he chances upon the hysterical bride-to-be who demands to know the room number of her wayward fiancé who checked into a hotel room with her best friend. When a hotel clerk, citing the hotel privacy policy, politely refuses to divulge that information, our prince charming, the CEO of the hotel, orders him to relinquish that info to the woman, telling him that “at a time like this, we shouldn’t stand behind rules and regulations.”

But once in front of the cad’s hotel room, the bride cannot bring herself to ring the bell. When her frustrated friend tries to ring the bell, the bride stops her and timidly asks her friends, “If I confirm it now, then there would be no wedding tomorrow, right? Then I can’t recoup the expenses for the wedding venue contract, the wedding gifts, not to mention the honeymoon. And I even decided to buy rather than rent the wedding dress.” Looking completely forlorn, she asks Ki-joon, “What should I do with all these?”

Ki-joon thinks to himself, Most women marry the institution called marriage rather than the man. Meaning, I guess, that women are more emotionally vested in the intricacies of wedding process than the man they are marrying.

Her friends are not happy with the scorned bride-to-be, and the bride, in a vulnerable emotional state, asks Ki-joon, “What do you think I should do?” When Ki-joon doesn’t say anything, she takes his silence as a concordance and brightens, “It’s better not to see, right? You agree with me, right?”

Looking at her with an imperceptible disdain, he walks past her to ring the bell. The bride becomes livid and asks Ki-joon, “Who do you think you are to do this against my will?” Politely, he replies, “It’s my hotel, ma’am.”

She doesn’t get the opportunity to rebut, because her fiancé opens the door. She runs away screaming, and her fiancé politely asks Ki-joon what’s going on. Smiling, Ki-joon thanks the cad for staying at the hotel and asks him if there’s anything he’s not satisfied with.

The cad shows his true color. He speaks to Ki-joon in a lower form of language. “I have a lot (in fact). Why is it that room service is still not here when I called a long time ago?” And then he points out Ki-joon’s poor timing while yelling, “Is this your first retail business gig, huh?” A real douche bag, this guy.

Ki-joon provides the almost-bride with courage she couldn’t muster herself. Oh, sure, she protests initially, but once he opens the door for her, both literally and figuratively, she does the rest with aplomb.

The bride, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, gives her sure-to-be-now ex-fiance a face cake that he richly deserves while telling him, “This is your room service, (you jerk face)!” as she and her friends invade his room. And she proceeds to give her best friend, I’m sure, a piece of her mind, a mouthful in fact of exactly how she feels about sneaking behind with her supposedly best friend with her fiancé, on the eve of her wedding no less. One of her friends grabs the cad’s hair and starts to pull him into the room, “You jerk! Come in here.”

Ki-joon tells his right-hand woman and a personal friend, Ms. Park, the general manager of the hotel, “Take care of this situation.” When she starts to go into the room, he stops her, “In ten minutes. And make sure you take the woman back home safely.”

As judging by the thumbs up gesture and a big proud grin from his Secretary Park, Ki-joon appears to inspire not only respect but also admiration. But Ki-joon apparently can elicit a healthy dose of fear from his staff as well. As Ki-joon walks back to his office, he notices one of the Hotel staff standing in attention behind the check-in area, and even from a distance it’s obvious that he had missed a button on his shirt. As the Secretary Park tries to silently motion warn him, Ki-joon, wearing a stern expression, approaches him and starts to button the shirt correctly, while the staff member literally drips with sweat from fear. After he is done, Ki-joon gives him a mildly stern look that says, I hope there is no next time, and he walks away.

Just from this initial scene, we can see that a person named Ki-joon has a keen sense of righteousness, thoughtfulness, and compassion as well as certain suave touch. So, it no longer matters to me that he had played a charismatic but slightly goofy Hong Gil-dong character in the past. From the beginning of this drama, I know in my heart that he will do, that he will be good enough for our reigning princess of romantic comedy, Yoon Eun-hye, to swoon over.

You remember Yoon Eun-hye, right? She is the one who bewitched us with her perfect portrayal of innocent yet sultry, tomboyish yet charming persona from Coffee Prince, First Shop. In Lie To Me, she is not tomboyish, but she is no less beguiling or captivating.

Why do I like Yoon Eun-hye so much? Aside from her obvious physical attributes, it’s because she makes you love her character. Yes, she has beautiful eyes, adorable nose, and inviting lips that make men, at least the ones with a pulse, literally drool like smitten grade school kids. But it’s the way she portrays such a lovable character that makes it almost impossible not to root for her. She played such a role in Coffee Prince, the First Shop, and she does it again here in Lie To Me, although on surface, she appears to play two different characters.

As Gong Ah-jung in Lie To Me, she is not as poor as Go Eun-chan from Coffee Prince, but she is poor enough, as her father is only a poor law professor (sounds sort of incongruous, doesn’t it, to call a law professor poor, but, hey, welcome to the wacky world we live in), and she is a government worker, a civil servant if you will, in the Ministry of Culture, Sports, & Tourism, so we know she is not exactly loaded, either.

Bickering Sparks

The first meeting between our two lovebirds in the episode 1, time 18:05, is not what I would necessarily consider an auspicious start for the couple. When the head of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, & Tourism asks whose idea it was to hold the event designed to showcase the Korean arts and performances to the foreign dignitaries and other guests outdoors, Ah-jung rightfully takes the credit over her silently disgruntled boss.

However, the glory and the honor of a beautifully orchestrated event goes awry when a swarm of temperamental CGI bees decided to have a field day of their own, which leads to Ah-jung’s binge drinking in a chic bar while drawing up a letter of resignation on a napkin and in the process befriends Ki-joon’s little brother, Sang-hee, of course she having no clue that the two Hyun boys are related.

Ki-joon, while looking for his brother, first runs into Ah-jung when she passes out in front of him from a potential deadly mixture of bee venom and alcohol intoxication. And in the emergency room, even though he tells the doctor that he doesn’t know Ah-jung, the nurse standing next to the doctor reminds Ki-joon, as they hurriedly take Ah-jung into the emergency room for treatment, “Make sure, as her guardian, you register inside first.”

He tells her that he’s not Ah-jung’s legal guardian, but the nurse doesn’t hear him as she hurriedly runs after the doctor. Ki-joon sighs and starts to leave, but something holds him back. A sense of responsibility maybe, a seed of attraction, or perhaps a fate tugging at his heart, but whatever it is, he stays, literally standing all night next to her emergency room bed while she sleeps, just like “her husband,” as her neighbor patient later gives Ah-jung her unsolicited observation. In the morning, Ki-joon, in an attempt to cover Ah-jung with a blanket, inadvertently wakes her up, and as they stare at each other’s face closeup she thinks to herself while smiling brightly, Here is a handsome guy. Do I know him?

On a subconscious level Ah-jung may be attracted to Ki-joon at first sight, but on a conscious level, she just wants to reimburse the emergency room expense that he had paid and thank him properly for saving her life, but Ki-joon mistakes her action for something more in the episode 1, time 26:25.

Ah-jung chases Ki-joon down the sidewalk, “Why don’t you like it when someone wants to give you money?”
“I’ve told you. It wasn’t that much.”
“It’s only because I don’t feel comfortable (owing money to someone).”
Ki-joon hails a taxi, “Then stay uncomfortable.”

“If you can’t come with me (to retrieve my purse to pay you back), then at least tell me your contact information. I’ll deposit the money to your account.”
“Let’s not overreact (oh-bah*) here, shall we? You don’t seem like a person with an overabundant sense of propriety (yum-chi**).”
He then takes off in a taxi, leaving her behind to ponder what he said.
“I don’t seem like a person with an overabundant sense of propriety? Wait. He thinks I came onto him… Ah!!! I can’t believe this. What does he take me for?” She then reaches into her pockets for money that she doesn’t have, “Ah! Where did I put my money?”

*(Oh-bah (오바), which is used very frequently in Korea comes from the English word, over, which means to overreact or act out of proportional to what’s needed or expected. The proper word, after taking into consideration as there is no ‘v’ sound in Korean, for over is actually오버 (oh-buh), but over time, it has evolved into oh-bah and ‘r’ sound dropped for some reason. Over may be short for overreact, but it has more of overreach connotation)

** (Having yum-chi (염치) is to have conscience or sense of shame or modesty. I think Ki-joon comes to this hasty conclusion of her character based on her apparent lack of shame or demureness when she buttoned her shirt in front of him in the emergency room after he pointed out that she missed a button, even though she had a T-shirt underneath. I don’t think he realizes that he comes across as an uptight socialite more than she does as an immodest hussy.)

A Spark that almost was

Let us digress here for a moment, and talk briefly about Ki-joon’s other woman. Ki-joon had liked this other woman, but, of course, that was before the hurricane named Ah-jung came hurling in and blew her completely off from the Ki-joon’s world.

In the episode 1, time 33:50, at his aunt’s insistence, who also happens to be the Chairman of the World Hotel, Ki-joon meets a woman through his first seun (Korean blind date). The woman, who is the daughter of Chairman Lee with cultured and expensive look, apologizes for taking such liberty but asks him anyway, “What kind of woman do you want?”

Ki-joon obliges and gives her an honest but stuffy answer, “A kind of woman who knows what it means to be a wife of Hun Ki-joon. Right now, I’m responsible for many things, and will be responsible for even more people over time. Thus, I would like someone who will stay quietly by my side and look after me so that I may stay centered.”

“Your sense of responsibility is commendable.” He smiles faintly, “(Yes,) unfortunately.”

I think he really liked her. She was not only beautiful but also came across as intelligent, sophisticated, elegant, gentle, and most of all understanding. In short, she had class, but with one impatient stroke of faulty conclusion, she threw away what could’ve been her match. After overhearing the gossip, which spread like a wild fire in this world of internet and technology, about Ki-joon’s secret marriage, she doesn’t bother to double check nor give him the benefit of doubt and ask for his side of the story. She just gives him the cold shoulder as if discarding a broken golf club. Well, that’s how a golf ball rolls sometimes. Or is that how a cookie crumbles. But I think most would agree that it’s her loss.

Bickering continues

Ah-jung is determined to return Ki-joon’s money, so she waits in the next table in the episode 1, time 47:25, while Ki-joon and the seun woman are getting to know each other better. Ah-jung has to empty her bladder badly but she decides to tough it out, because she doesn’t want to risk his leaving while she was gone. She thinks about just handing him the money envelope, but she decides against it because it wouldn’t reflect well for him in front of the other woman.

Thus, Ah-jung waits while drinking tomato juice, but she can’t help wondering what they could be talking about so long. Finally, her curiosity gets the better of her senses and she tips her chair back toward them to eavesdrop, and of course, falls flat on her back with the tomato juice all over her white sweater. Out of embarrassment, she pretends to be unconscious, but Ki-joon picks her up and brings her to a hotel room and literally throws her on the bed.

The first thing Ah-jung does is, not get angry for being thrown unceremoniously onto the bed, but to hurriedly rush into the bathroom to empty her bladder, looking so relieved and cute that I must coin a new phrase to describe her expression – post-micturition ecstasy. But Ki-joon interrupts the joy and her angst over proper excuse for “fainting” – “What should I say? Anemia? Epilepsy?” – by pounding loudly on the bathroom wall to hurry up.

In the episode 1, time 51:55, Ki-joon begins to feel that maybe Ah-jung is not the loose, opportunistic kind of woman he thought she was. As Ah-jung comes out of the bathroom, she at least has thought of an excuse for staying in the bathroom so long, “My legs fell asleep because I was sitting down too long.”

He doesn’t want to take any chances, “It could be concussion, so let’s go to a hospital and get a CT scan (of your brain).” He says x-ray, but who gets x-ray nowadays. “Oh, no. It’s okay. I’m perfectly fine. My head is so hard, nothing can hurt it.” “Even so, let’s make it absolutely certain, because I don’t want you to tell me something else later.”

“Something else?” She ponders it for a few seconds, then she looks at him as if she’s very disappointed in him, “Ah, (I see). (You’re afraid I’ll say later,) I got hurt here, so give me compensation. I should be offended. Do I look like some kind of a blackmailer or something?”

“You are not? You were fine, but you pretended to be unconscious.” “That’s because I was embarrassed. Okay?” And then it occurs to her, “Then, what about you? Why did you hug me without my permission? Are you a pervert?”

“Because I figured that if I didn’t drag you out, you were going to lie there all day long.” There must be a grain of truth in that statement, because she can’t seem to look him in the eyes. It’s interesting that the same action, he picking her up and carrying her, is interpreted as ‘hugging’ by her and ‘dragging’ by him.

Sensing her wavering, he doesn’t let up, “If that wasn’t a self-serving blackmail, then what was it? (And furthermore,) let me hear your explanation as to what you’re doing here after changing your hairstyle in less than a day.”

Ah-jung changed her hair style, not because of Ki-joon, but because so many people recognized her on TV thanks to her crazed bees trying to massacre innocent people in her event, but Ki-joon must think Ah-jung changed her hair style to impress, beguile, or deceive him somehow.

Ah-jung self-consciously strokes her hair, and then goes to her bag to produce an envelope, “Here! 73,500 Won.” Which is about $70. He’s still not convinced, “How did you know who I was?”

“I saw you in a magazine… although it was hard to recognize you with all that photoshopping.”
“I’m sure I’ve told you that it was okay with me.”

Seemingly tired of all this tit-for-tat, “I’m sorry, but it’s not okay with me, you know. I’m a government employee. Under any circumstances, I cannot accept any form of service, payback, or bribery.” And she puts the envelope on the bed. He reminds her, “I have no recollection of offering you service or payback, and certainly no bribe.” “I’m also making sure that you’ll not tell me something else later, okay? I’m going to leave now, because I did what I came to do.”

“Wait!” When she stops, he asks her, “Are you going to go out looking like that?” With tomato juice all over her white sweater. Looking at her sweater, “Ah. Are you worried that if I go out like this, I’ll ruin the hotel image?”

He offers to have different clothes delivered so that she can change, but she just smiles proudly and leaves which throws him off-guard. He has probably never met a woman willing to go out in public in less than perfect state. But not only does it not bother her, she flaunts it. She pretends that she is mortally injured and tells the onlookers, “This hotel is not a safe place to stay. Oh… what kind of hotel is this?”

She stumbles into an elevator, as one of the concerned onlookers asks her, “Are you okay?” Then she notices, “Ooh, blood!” Of course, once downstairs, Ah-jung is happy as a lark to besmirch the image of a hotel run by whom she thinks is an overbearing jerk.

A Budding Romance

Even though the full impact of her action didn’t register in his brain and served at the time to irritate him more than anything, the money that she returns right down to the change and the moment Ah-jung jumped into the water from the swan paddle boat to try to save a complete stranger because it was the right thing to do in the episode 2, time 33:16, he gets an inkling of what kind of person she really is.

Ki-joon comes to realize in full force that she is not all that impressed with his wealth or his position in life in the episode 2, time 37:00. He invites Ah-jung to his house to discuss the ways to solve their vexing public misunderstanding that they are secretly married and to overcome mutual distrust.

When he starts to discuss the matter in a serious tone, she chides him, “You don’t have to take it so seriously. I’ll take care of it. Isn’t your position – Many people mistakenly think we are married, but it’s too tiresome having to explain this to everyone – No?”

“It’s not that it’s tiresome for me, it’s just that they don’t believe me.” Oh-so-innocently, “Why don’t they believe you? Are you a habitual liar?”

He’s not amused. In a stiff tone, “Ms. Gong Ah-jung.” As in how dare you insinuate something like that about me. Not at all intimidated, and in an upbeat tone, “Just get all of those non-believers together, and I’ll tell them, ‘You’ve got it all wrong.’ Wouldn’t that solve this problem in one fell swoop?”

He doesn’t say anything but just looks at her. Feeling his stare, she asks him, “What’s the matter?”
“Are you always this simplistic in your approach?”
“Just because you approach it in a complicated way, does the problem always gets taken care of? If I started this, then I should end it.”

He’s skeptical, “Why? I mean, if we go by your logic, it’s not like you did anything wrong, so I can’t think of any particular reason why you would go to this length to try to solve this problem.” She tells him as-matter-of-factly, “That’s because I’m also a victim (in this mess). What makes you think I’d be in a deliriously happy mood with rumor swirling around that I’m wedded to you?”

It never occurred to Ki-joon that there would be someone who thought marrying him would actually be a crime and an injustice. He finds the independent thinking Ah-jung interesting and delightful, although he won’t admit it even to himself at this point.

But in the beginning of the episode 3, when Ah-jung’s archenemy friend, Yoon So-ran, riles Ah-jung up again, Ah-jung calls Ki-joon, “Yuh-bo*! I’m right here” within So-ran’s earshot. It’s too bad, because Ki-joon has already begun to feel something for Ah-jung, as before she drops the ‘Yuh-bo’ bomb, he actually smiled at Ah-jung fondly. *(Yuh-bo (여보) is used exclusively by spouses to address each other. ‘Yuh-bo’ is short for ‘yuh-gi-bo-si-oh (여기 보시오)’ which means ‘look here.’)

Ah-jung, later, in the episode 3, time 33:10, tries to explain to Ki-jung that it wasn’t intentional on her part, and that she became temporarily insane due to So-ran, and begs him to give her one more chance to tell everyone that she’s not his wife. He tells her ominously that it’s okay, that she doesn’t need to worry. She is puzzled by his reaction, but she takes his words at their face value.

But when she gets an official letter from Ki-joon stating that if she doesn’t rectify the situation, he is ready to resort to legal action, she tries to see him, but his secretary tells her to talk to his lawyer.

Later, in the episode 3, time 53:07, Ki-joon asks his secretary, “She came here?” “Yes. I told her to talk to your lawyer.” “And she said she’ll do that?”

Smiling, his secretary tells him, “Well, it’s not like she has a lot of options.” Ki-joon contemplates. And his secretary is puzzled, “What’s the matter?” “No, it’s nothing. (It’s just that) I didn’t think she’d give up that easily.” “Beg pardon?” Ki-joon patiently explains, “She’s a person without a lot of dai-chec*, you know. I didn’t think she’d back down so easily.” *(Dai-chec (대책) means a methodical plan to handle a problem) Smiling, “You sound somewhat disappointed?”

Ki-joon denies the observation vehemently, but we know better, don’t we? He is disappointed about not seeing her anytime soon.

Marry me, She says

Well, Ki-joon gets his wish, because Ah-jung gets a suite in his hotel and demands to talk to the President by raising a major stink about how water on the bathroom floor could’ve caused her to fall, possibly resulting in brain hemorrhage.

In the episode 3, time 57:25, when Ah-jung can’t talk Ki-joon out of proceeding with legal steps for masquerading as his wife, she abruptly asks him, “Marry me.” He stops from walking out and turns around, “What?”

“Not for real. Just pretend marriage. You don’t have to do anything. Just be like this for two months. No, even one month is fine.”

He can’t believe his ears, “Miss. Gong Ah-jung.”
“You said you really want to sue me. So do that. But just a little later.”
“Do you really want to get embarrassed?”
“It’s okay if I get embarrassed. I don’t care if you want to sue me. You do whatever you want to do, because I’m willing take whatever you dish out. On one condition: Just stay the way we are for one month. Please?”
Scoffing, “Why should I?” She replies in a pitiful, desperate tone, “Because I’m asking you (as a big favor).”

Simple and straight forward begging with even simpler reason appears to surprise and move him… but only for a few seconds. She pulls out all the stops, even telling him that she only has a month to live. He tells her, no, and walks out, leaving her alone in her despair. Ki-joon, once outside the room, wonders how far she would go (to get what she wants).

Pale green with Envy

In the episode 4, Ki-joon’s little brother, Sang-hee, who likes Ah-jung, volunteers to become her “fairy godmother” and helps her become indebted in the eyes of Ki-joon by ditching his brother on the countryside near their parents’ gravesite to pick up and befriend Chairman Chun and his wife from the Shanghai company whom Ki-joon hopes will invest in the World Hotel instead of their competition, the Great Hotel.

Before Chairman Chun arrives in the airport, Ki-joon gets a scoop that Chairman and his wife are planning to stay at the Great Hotel. There is a lot of pressure on Ki-joon, as this deal is apparently critical in the global growth of the World Group.

After helping the Chairman couple check into the World Hotel, Ah-jung plays hostess to the Chairman Chun’s wife, who takes a liking to Ah-jung. The wife asks Ah-jung not to feel too disappointed about their earlier decision to stay at the Great Hotel, because she’s the one who convinced her husband as this trip was to be their second honeymoon, and she didn’t want her husband to talk business all the time while in Korea. The wife hugs Ah-jung goodbye, and while waiting for an elevator Ah-jung runs into Ki-joon in the episode 4, time 51:55.

Ki-joon can’t help but become somewhat sarcastic in his greeting, “I didn’t think I’d run into you so soon.” Ah-jung is equally as thrilled, “I know. I can hardly believe my good fortune also.”

“Are you sure you’re a civil servant who cannot accept any form of service, payback, or bribery?” When Ah-jung looks puzzled, he explains, “I mean, considering, you seem to frequent the hotel too often.”

She gets flustered for a split second, but she recovers nicely, “Uh-muh*, don’t tell me you don’t like it when your customers return frequently?” *(Uh-muh (어머) is an expression uttered by a woman in response to something unexpected or when surprised or frightened)

The elevator door opens, and she becomes playfully flippant as she waves goodbye, “Okay, I’ll try to remember that next time.” She walks into the elevator, and unseen to him she furiously presses the button.

She visibly relaxes when the door is about to close, but he doesn’t let her get away that easily. At the last minute, the elevator re-opens, and Ki-joon walks in to join her. He apparently has a beef with her, “Why did you ask me to marry you when you already had a man?” He heard from his secretary Park that Ah-joon was seen leaving the suite with a young man, having no idea that the man was his brother, Sang-hee.

“Did the man refuse to marry you? Is that why you spread that false rumor?”
She can’t believe her ears, “Hey! Why are you trying to pair me up with a man just to tickle your fancy?”

He tries to reason with her, “Don’t I have at least that much right to know, since I was unnecessarily sacrificed thanks to your man?” She is clueless, “Sacrificed?” I think he feels sacrificed because of all the headaches caused by her lies could’ve been directed to “her man” instead of him.

She gives him a you-must’ve-skipped-your-medicine-today look in the elevator, and when she realizes that he’s still hounding her off the elevator, she tries to lose him by shouting that he’s a stalker. That doesn’t deter him from chasing after her, and he prevents her from getting into a taxi, “Tell me the reason why. Who knows? Depending on your reason, I might just jung-sahng chahm-jahk* (정상참작) for you.” The reason why she asked to marry him when she already had a man.

Surprised, she asks him, “You mean you’re not going to sue me?” Annoyed, “I said, jung-sahng chahm-jak.” She gets equally irritated because what he’s saying is essentially what she’s saying,

“Do you think I’m stupid?”
“Is he, by any chance, someone I know?”
Showing surprise but trying to mask it with a little pretended indignation, “Mr. Hyun Ki-joon!”
He is persistent, “Who is he?”

Unable to countermeasure his persistence, she gets into the taxi and drives off, but not until she has the last words. She rolls down the window and shouts to him, “Hey! Whether you’re talking more nonsense or not, talk to my lawyer from now on. Capish?” She then pounds the taxi to drive off. He mutters to himself, “Does that mean she doesn’t have a man?”

*(Jung-sahng (정상) usually means normal, but in this case it means extenuating circumstances, while chahm-jak (참작) means to consider, take into consideration, or make allowance for. So together it means, he’ll take into consideration if her extenuating circumstance sounds reasonable)

Although Ah-jung doesn’t pick up on it, and I’m sure Ki-joon will deny it at this juncture, but he’s jealous. He is smitten, but their love is at a very early stage.

Marry me, He says

Over a lavish meal, in the episode 4, time 54:40, Ki-joon greets Chairman Chun and his wife, from whom he finds out that his wife, in the person of Gong Ah-jung, met them at the airport. The chairman’s wife goes on to tell Ki-joon that she and his wife (Ah-jung) have already become fast friends.

The chairman tells Ki-joon that according to his wife, seeing how you married that lady (Ah-jung), you must be a very good person. The wife chimes in to say how you can tell what kind of person a husband is by his wife. The chairman laughs and affectionately pats her hand while telling his wife, “Yes, yes, you are my face.”

Ki-joon thinks to himself, Gong Ah-jung is my face? He doesn’t appear to be too upset by the possibility.

So, it’s not surprising that Ki-joon’s business part of the brain reconciles beautifully with his as-of-yet-still-subconscious smitten part of his brain by offering Ah-jung a contractual marriage proposal in their private rendezvous place, you know the swan paddle boat. He even calls Ah-jung, “Our Jung yi,” which is a very intimate way to address someone, in front of her archenemy friend So-ran, which So-ran finds nauseating and envious, just to entice Ah-jung to the swan boat.

In the episode 5, time 00:28, Ki-joon tells Ah-jung in the aforementioned swan boat, “Let’s get married.” Seeing shocked Ah-jung, he hastily explains, “Not really get married, but just pretending to be married temporarily. Ah… a month or two would be okay with me, too.”

She continues to look at him with her mouth agape, so he tries to explain himself better, “Since you’ve been begging that your fervent wish is to marry someone like me, well, I’ve been feeling somewhat guilty about the way I reacted, so…”

But she continues to just stare at him. Puzzled, he asks her, “Miss Gong Ah-jung?” as if to say, Are you okay? Ah-jung, all of sudden, erupts in a fit of laughter, and he, thinking that she’s overcome with joy, joins in on the laughter. He asks her, “Really, now. Does it make you that happy?”

“You, Mr. Hyun Ki-joon, are not being fair. Shouldn’t you tell me why you’ve changed your mind, first?” His expression changes. She presses on, “Since all my dirty reasons have been revealed, why don’t you reveal your dirty reasons why?” “Dirty?”

She becomes tunnel-visioned, “Now, why would you all of sudden want to pretend to be married to me? Maybe… because you felt sorry for me, your sense of compassion was aroused – you weren’t going to say that, right?” She’s having fun with him, and he suddenly realizes it. She slaps his arm lightly while smiling, “I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. Now, really.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and put out, “You don’t have to do it, if you don’t want to.” Smiling sweetly, “Okay, good. Because marriage is a serious matter, and I can’t decide the matter this way.” He still feels somewhat awkward since he didn’t expect to be turned down so disconcertingly.

Back on the solid ground, Ah-jung tells him sweetly, “We don’t have any other issues to discuss, right?” He’s about to say something, but she interrupts him, “You’re going to sue me? You do whatever you have to do. Then…” She bows goodbye, and walks away, now wearing a knowing smile.

Knowing it’s just a matter of time before he calls her, she starts to count, “One, two, three…” But when he doesn’t stop her by the count of eight, she starts to worry. But because her tactic dictates that she doesn’t turn around, she can’t see that he is just as, if not more, antsy than she is. Finally, at the count of twelve, he calls her, “Miss. Gong Ah-jung!” She hides her triumphant smile and turns around.

Continue reading >>> Page 2: The Contract

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Categorised in: Guest bloggers, K-dramas, Recaps, Reviews

144 Responses »

  1. Hi Michael – Thanks again for your informative post! Hope you don’t mind two more burning questions on Korean culture:

    1. Why do Koreans rub their hands together when deeply sorry? Is this hand gestures only made towards elders?

    2. What is the meaning of touching the tip of the tongue with one’s fingers then the nose?

    I have seen th above gestures in so many kdramas and really curious about their meaning!

    Many tks!

    • I’ve always thought rubbing hands together was a universal portrayal of begging, be it begging for mercy or forgiveness, etc, but I guess that gesture must be unique to Korean culture.

      The saliva on your nose from your tongue gesture – I’m not positive about this one, but I think this is done as a subjective palliative response to pain or discomfort. If you can you give me the episode number and time when this gesture occurs, I can double check it. Thanks.

      • sorry to chime in. I also thought that rubbing hands to together was a universal sign for begging. in my culture that is the gesture for begging.

        • Don’t be; you can “chime in” whenever you feel like it.

          I was just watching the second episode of “Protect the Boss,” and when the lead guy tells the lead gal to go and get the facial bruise caused by his father’s slap checked in a hospital, she holds the compensation envelope given to her by his father away from him while telling him that she can just put “saliva” on it as she touches her tongue with her finger and dabs on her wound with the finger. So, Koreans must think of saliva as some kind of salve or antibacterial ointment, and they are not completely off the mark as saliva has some anti-bacterial function among other protective and digestive functions.

          But if not directly on the wound, why put saliva on the nose? Maybe nose is a representive organ if the pain is internal. Your guess is as good as mine. 🙂

  2. Clasping the hands together in a forward and backward motion is a gesture of begging (also of praying) in my culture, but not the rubbing of hands though which I have only seen in k-dramas (eg during the Solar eclipse in Jumong, the fearful Buyeo citizens went down on their knees and made this gesture) which madee wonder whether this only happens in dramas or also in real life.

    As for the dabbing tongue-nose repeatedly with fingers gesture, yes I think this could be a palliative response to pain or discomfort or maybe to test whether one is in a dream or awake akin to pinching? I don’t think this gesture was made in LTM but I have seen other actors (usually female leads) do this in other dramas which I though was such a cute and curious gesture!

  3. michael you are one romantic writer you, you made my heart beat faster.i already love KJH and YEH a lot but your writings makes me clamoring for more.thank you so much for bringing LTM more closer to our hearts and the two actors that played AJ and KJ more vividly romantic in our eyes..
    thank you,

  4. Thanks Michael for this lengthy write up of LTM.
    It took me like a week to finish reading it, cos I was savouring every word you wrote and going back to re-watch some scenes as you provide your insight and the mightly helpful Korean culture explanation ^_^

    I got a few questions in my mind and hope you could explain it to me.

    1) Sorry in Korean is 미안해 but how come when I listen to K-dramas, it always sounded like “B-IANNE”? Is it because there is no “M” sound in Korean, and so sounded like “B” verbally?
    2) As per (1), 네 sounds like “de” and 누구 sounds like “dugu” for the same reason where there is no “N” sound in Korean?
    3) In Ep 12, 34:01, when Ki-Joon drinks the soju in front of Ah-Jung’s father, he turned his head side-ways first. So is the turning side-way to drink a polite thing (norm) to do when you are drinking in front of your senior in Korea?
    4) In Ep 16, 24:34, Ki Joon said “don’t you trust obbo” I have never heard obbo before. Is it a more intimate way of saying oppa and only used in a love relationship?

    Many thanks!!!

    • Thank you, fatonna.

      Regarding your questions,
      1 & 2) There are “M” and “N” sounds in Korean. It’s possible that the actors and actress speak so fast that they may sound somewhat different or distorted somehow. If you can give me specific examples, maybe I can verify them for you.
      3) Yes, in front of an elder or a superior, it’s a good manner to turn your head 90 degrees to drink.
      4) The “oppa” that everyone’s used to is really pronounced “obba.” It’s similar to the “Americanization” of certain Korean sounds such as common Korean names like Park and Kim, because they are really pronounced “Bak” and “Gim,” just like Ki-joon is really pronounced “Gi-joon.”

      Hope that helped. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m only a few typed words away.

      • Thanks for your explanation, Michael, you are very kind! ^^

        I heard that for some Korean pronounciation, when saying the first word, it may also include the first letter sound of the second character, so as to smooth out the pronounciation. So for the “obbo” that I heard in Ep16, 24:34 instead of “obba”, I wonder is it because the whole sentence is “obbo bommido”, so Ki Joon needs to change the “ba” sound to “bo” as the next word starts with “b”?

        For the other sounds that I have doubt, I have found some examples from LTM:

        Ep 12 52:03 Ki Joon said “bianhae”
        Ep 15 47:03 Ah Jung said “dugu” mam deru
        Ep 16 11:44 Park Hoon said “de” (may be this is not the best example as his voice is quite soft, I am also watching Coffee Prince Shop No. 1 and I heard the kid said “de” in Ep 2 11:40)

        I also have another question, in LTM Ep14 20:24 So Ran commented that if Ah Jung got fired, she may even have difficulty to get married. Is it a serious matter for civil servant in Korea to be fired? Because no company will hire a civil servant who has been fired?

        Many thanks again! ^o^

        • You’re absolutely right about the first sound borrowing from the next letter, but that usually happens within a word, not within a sentence. What I’ve heard in the ep. 16, 24:34 sounded like this: “Obba mot-mi-duh?” – “You don’t trust this oppa?”

          In ep. 12, 52:03, it sounds like Ki-joon’s going to say something with “b” sound, but he does say, “Mi-ahn-hae,” not “bi-ahn-hae.”
          In ep 15, 47:03, Ah-jung does start with “d” sound as if she has some other choice words for Ki-joon, but she settles for “Noo-goo-ma-um-dae-ro.”
          In the ep. 16, 11:44, Park Hoon says, “Nae,” not “de.”
          In Coffee Prince, ep 2, 11:25 and then again in 11:29, each time a kid says, “Nae.”

          The phenomenon where what you’ve initially heard is different than what was actually said happens to me fairly frequently which always seems to occur either at a pivotal point or at a punch line if you will. That’s what takes the most time for me when I translate. Since I came to the U.S. when I was 12 years old, relying on hearing without a script to translate is difficult sometimes. For example, in the Secret Garden when Hyun Bin was chasing Ha Ji-won around in his library, I couldn’t at first understand the last thing he said to her as she was chasing him around the table. So I must have listened at least 20 times before it came to me. At a time like that, I try to relax as much as I can, get all the preconceived notion of what the sentence should be out of my head, and just concentrate on listening. And when it finally comes to me, I usually say to myself because what I initially heard is so different than the actual sentence, ‘That’s so obvious, why didn’t I hear that the first time.’

          So it’s entirely possible the reason that what you’re hearing may be radically different than the actual sound may be similar to my above experience.

          Regarding the civil servant issue, I’m not positive about this, but I don’t think it’s any different than being fired from any other job if the reason you got fired is because you lied and used female wiles to get ahead (I think that was the prevailing charge or accusation. It’s been a while, so my memory gets a little hazy).

          • Michael, thank you so much for taking time to re-watch the scenes to clarify my doubts for me! ^^

            And thanks for sharing your personal experience as a native korean speaker, hehehe, its really encouraging. You are right, sound recorded may not be what was actually said =P

  5. Michael, thank you for taking time to write the love story that is Lie to Me. I chanced upon LTM when this was shown in the Philippines and somehow, I did not realize but i was drawn to this drama. I have watched it several time, nay, 20 times so much so that i have memorized their lines (at least the eng sub). Not content with this, i searched for the BTS, OST and blogs on LTM just to get my fill. I have watched other K-dramas before but something else drew me to LTM. Is it the story? The sizzling chemistry of YEH and KJH? It is both. I agree with a previous blog by Thundie that LTM should be taken for what it is – a love story. And it was an amazing love story made more unforgettable by YEH and KJH. It makes one wander through memory lane and fall in love again just like AJ and KJ. While most K-dramas would end with the OTP professing their love for each other, LTM ventures into whats in store for them as they struggle and triumph over their journey to eternal love:) The chemistry between the 2 leads is electrifying (kisses were so HOT and they were acting so naturally) that one can only wish that they will actually fall in love for real. I hope that they will be given another project soon with a much better script. YEH and KJH deserve it:)

    • Thank you, nenette, for sharing your love for one of my most beloved Kdramas. Combination of my being busy and my inability to find another drama that I could lose myself over has kept me away from my home away from home. Hopefully that’ll change soon. Thanks again.

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