Gentlemen’s Dignity

6. Almost Rosy

In the episode 1, time 58:33, Suh Yi-soo does come to his office. In fact, she’s standing in front of his desk timidly trying to get his attention, “Excuse me.” When Kim Do-jin doesn’t even look up from his work, she haltingly asks him, “You… must be very busy.”

Still not looking up, “I’m not busy. I’m just Bon-che-mon-che-ing* you… because you’ve told me to.” *(Remember 본체만체: pretending not to see. On the baseball field, when he accused her of pretending not to know him, she told him to do the same. He’s paying her back in his juvenile way)

She crinkles her nose and eyes cutely at that. Cautiously, “I’m sorry about what happened yesterday on the baseball field.” He abruptly gets up, “Let’s just say I don’t accept your apology, because you lack sincerity.” This is Do-jin’s peculiar way of talking: Instead of saying, ‘I don’t accept your apology,’ he always adds, ‘Let’s just say.’

She’s perplexed as to what to say to that, so he changes the subject. “Be that as it may, you really don’t remember me?”
“It’s just that I’m so bad at remembering faces. You probably have no idea how much I want to remember you.”
Smiling almost genuinely while making an Alka-Seltzer-ish concoction, “I see. But seeing how you don’t remember what happened yesterday, I find it difficult to believe you. I thought you said you’d come holding a rose in your mouth.”

She looks at him as if debating whether he’s serious or not. He cuts to the chase, “You must have debated whether I was serious or not. I was. As far as I’m concerned, this meeting never happened. Because a promise is a promise.” Almost panicking, she cries, “Ah. No! (It’s not that…)”

That gets his attention. She slowly pulls out a red rose from her bag, “Just in case… I came… prepared.” His nostrils flaring, he tries his best not to burst out laughing. Not happy to be toyed with, she beckons to the rose she’s holding, “If this is your way of getting even with me for my behavior on the baseball field…”

He interrupts her, “Rationalization (사설)* is not needed. You can either do it the way you’ve promised, or…” *(Sah-sul: Prolonged excuse or complaint. Another meaning is ‘an editorial,’ but not in this context, although editorial is usually prolonged, so it’s similar in that sense)

She interrupts him, “I’m terribly sorry, but…” And then coyly, “you don’t fancy it behind my ear?” Not expecting that degree of syrupy, seductive response, he almost sputters his drink, but he manages to recover, “I don’t think I would detest it. Wear it and wait for me. I’m in the middle of a project.” She frowns, but resignedly sits down across from him. Thinking that he’s engrossed in his work, she slowly puts her handbag on the table, presumably to put the rose back in the bag, when he chimes in without looking up, “That’s not a smart move.” Chagrined, she quickly breaks the stem and puts the rose behind her left ear.

Seeing her adorned in rose, he can’t help but smile. And that smile puts his whole world into an imaginary field of flowers and green pasture where he’s all alone with her… sitting in their respective office furnishings.

Just looking at her makes him happy. Of course, she, on the other hand, performs all kinds of calisthenics and facial tics to pass the idle time… until she spots Lim Tae-sun’s leather gloves on his desk. She smiles warmly, and making sure that Do-jin’s not looking, she edges closer to his table, looking wistfully at the gloves. Do-jin happens to look her way at that very moment and witnesses her tender make-believe hand-holding with Tae-sun.

Do-jin’s smile disappears, as does his imaginary happy scenery, and they are back to his stale office. Watching her holding his gloves, her expression obvious with longing and tenderness, his face turns cold and distant. He gets up abruptly, and the sound breaks her reverie as well. He tells her, “I can’t seem to find time for you today. Let’s talk some other time.”

She rushes anxiously to his desk, “Wait a moment! I only need five minutes (of your time).” He looks at her evenly, and she takes that as a yes, “I formally apologize for my behavior yesterday at the baseball field.” Taking the rose out of her ear, “I sincerely hope you feel that I’ve been punished enough, at least enough to assuage your anger.” She then asks him to reconsider settling her “kids’ case, because they still need protection.”

“They didn’t seem that frail to need that kind of protection.”
“They are young enough to need protection.”
“I’m sorry, but I have no interest in their future. I can’t settle.”

He then walks past her, while she frantically chases after him, asking him to wait. Now outside, he’s walking down the steps as she runs after him, when he abruptly stops, turns around, and walks back to her. Taken by surprise, she stops and even takes a step or two backward as he stops in front of her.

Looking straight at her, “Let me ask you one thing.”
Collecting herself, “Go ahead.”
“You like Lim Tae-san, don’t you?”
Looking somewhat apprehensive, she asks timidly, “What?”
Calmly, “All by yourself. Otherwise known as unrequited love (짝사랑)*. With your friend’s boyfriend, no less.” *(Jjak-sah-rang means one-sided love or love not reciprocated)

Watching her shocked and speechless face, he breaks out in a smug grin. He revels in a childish payback, just because she had inadvertently hurt him by daydreaming about Tae-san, but Do-jin will grow up… eventually.

7. Coffee, Anyone?

Suh Yi-soo gets the gangster kids in tow to apologize to Kim Do-jin in person, but he wouldn’t hear of their less than sincere apology. Dejected, she goes to the Mango café and absent-mindedly replies to Lee Jung-rok in the episode 2, time 05:15, when he asks her if there’s anything particular she’s looking for, “A fastidious (까탈스러운)* man…” *(Kka-tal-suh-ruh-oon means fussy, particular)

Smiling, Jung-rok deadpans, “In this café, I’m considered the most fastidious man…” Ah, this guy will flirt with anyone wearing a dress… or pants for that matter. Smiling back, she tells him that she’s just looking for a coffee that a fastidious man would like. He tells that he can still be helpful, because he also has someone like that in his “vicinity.” Then, he goes on to describe the guy, “(He’s) self-centered, no considerations for others, and very cold-hearted.”

Crinkling her nose in wholehearted agreement, she asks him excitedly, “Yes! He’s exactly like that. Your friend, what kind of coffee does he like?”

“Americano with 3 shots added (추가*). He’s dark kind of a guy.” *(In the espresso coffee machine, if it is drank straight, then it becomes espresso coffee. If water is added, then it’s called Americano. Do-jin adds (추가: choo-ga) 3 shots more, thus making it more concentrated and darker, like his mind, according to Jung-rok)

Sitting and waiting for the coffee, Yi-soo re-lives the humiliating scene where Do-jin confronts her with the knowledge that she thought only she knew in the episode 2, time 5:55. When asked if she likes Lim Tae-san, she becomes speechless. He grins humorlessly, “That’s good. You can go (now). Your expression is more than sufficient an answer.”

Remembering the scene, she throws her trademark mini-tantrum in the café.

The scene changes to her standing in front of Do-jin in his office with two cups of the black coffee, “I wasn’t sure what you’d like…” Without even looking up from his work, he pushes the coffee away from him a bit, “I’m not a guy you can fathom with one stroke.” Meaning he’s not that easily bribed.

“It’s Americano with shots added…” Tapping the respective cups, “two and three.”

He eyes the coffee with renewed interest, and still not looking up, he grabs the cup with three shots and drinks it. Sensing a chance, she says, “Could I have a moment… and it’s not about the settlement.” He motions to the table behind her, and she’s puzzled, “I’m sorry?” But he ignores her question and continues to work. Seeing that, it occurs to her, “You want me to wait? Again?” When he doesn’t reply, she asks him a little petulantly, “Again?” Not getting any response from him, she sighs audibly, and decides to wait for his royal highness by reading a book.

Seeing her engrossed in the book, he can’t help but look at her with a growing smile on his face, content just to be near her essence. Sensing his stare, she looks up at him, and he promptly looks down pretending to work. She puts the book away in her bag, and walks up to him, “I wasn’t sure how long I have to wait…”

He looks up at her, and she blurts out, “If you take off cowardly like you did last time…” She catches herself, and coquettishly, “My selection of words was a little too forceful, no?” He has something else on his mind, “You really don’t know who I am? You really don’t remember meeting me?” Feigning regret, she replies, “I’m so sorry. I really wish I could remember (you).” He abruptly gets up from his chair, “Let’s do this next time. I have a previous engagement (선약)*.” *(Sun-yak is a very commonly used word in kdrama. He uses this word later that prompts her to kiss the café window separating them)

Dumbfounded, she cries out, “Hey, wait! How did the previous engagement happen?” He just looks at her contemptuously and walks out on her.

Enraged, she talks to herself, “Does he even know what sun-yak* means?” She actually says, “Sun in sun-yak, did you even know that I was standing here first (선) before you walked out?” *(Sun means previous and yak is short for yak-sok (약속) meaning a promise (to meet, in this case))

She then says, “I have never been in this kind* of situation before.” *(The way she says the very word, sun…yak, in such violent visceral way, she appears to turn the innocent word into her own brand of profanity)

8. Stickies Galore

Not in her to give up so easily, she sits down on his high horse (his chair), and proceeds to write a million sticky notes until she finally settles on the ones that she likes.

The first note: Will you call me ^^ ?? She promptly crumbles that one up.
I will wait for your call. ㅠㅠ* *(ㅠㅠ denotes sadness, tears falling sign.) She crumbles that one up, too.
Let’s first come to a settlement, and we’ll address the other issues… Frustrated, she crumbles that up.

Now, giggling, she writes, I’m a teacher, and you are…, but ends up tossing that, too.

She now has put up 5 stickies for her to choose from, and the first one reads, Then why did you have me wait, you jerk!! The second one from the top reads, Flowery? Wah hahaha. The third, A guy who looks like XX. XX traditionally being something unprintable due to the vileness of the profanity. The fourth, Hey, you dark X. In reference to dark coffee he drinks. The fifth, Having fun?? Are you?? (She actually wrote: Are you toying with me?? Now??)

She’s not satisfied with any of them. Sighing, “Ah, I should rise above this. (Furthermore,) he knows what my derriere did last spring.” She then proceeds to sweep all the stickies, including his recording pen, into her bottomless bag.

9. Mango Karma

Walking on the street in the episode 2, time 10:28, she passes the Mango café and finds Do-jin sitting in his usual table. Irritated, she makes a sarcastic observation, “He has certainly wandered far away.” Perhaps sensing her grumbling, he looks up and sees her. At first she looks at him with annoyance, but his faintly smiling expression jogs her memory and she remembers their first encounter on this very spot, making her realize for the first time that the two men are one and the same.

It’s uncanny how the same event can unfold like the first time, but it does, because at that very moment, Do-jin’s date covers his eyes from behind, playfully asking him to guess who she is. Not amused to be deprived of his eye candy for the second time, he violently wrests her hands away from his eyes and continues to look at Yi-soo.

Looking slightly miffed, Yi-soo walks up to the window where he is sitting and plasters a yellow sticky on the window, bows, and walks away.

Amused and curious, he gets up, almost knocking his date standing behind him down, and retrieves the note which reads, Hope the next sun-yak* is with me … I’ll wait for your call. *(Remember, it means previous engagement)

He smiles as he watches her hooded figure walking away.

10. Kleptomaniac

In the episode 2, time 19:53, Do-jin comes calling a bit earlier than Yi-soo had anticipated in her house. Almost barging in after she opens the door to stand in front of Yi-soo, Do-jin does not look pleased. Haltingly, she asks him, “Did you see the memo I left you? You should’ve just called, I would’ve come out.”

Stone-faced, “You took my pen, didn’t you?”
Perplexed, “A pen? What kind of…”
“The pen. One that looks like a fountain pen. The one that was on my desk.”
Offended, “Why would I take that?”
“You used the pen to write the memo. You are the last one to use it.”
Now very offended, “I’m not sure how valuable the pen is, but…”
Interrupting her, “To me, it’s a very valuable pen.”

Irritated, “I don’t understand why you would be this angry (over a mere pen). Are you, right now, accusing me… You are accusing me. Okay, would it satisfy you if I completely empty my bag content right before you?” Showing him her bag, “This is the bag that I brought with me to your office, right? I’ll have you know that I didn’t do anything to the bag since I’ve been home. Here, look.” Then she proceeds to empty the content, causing her belongings to fall onto the floor, including her cell phone, her car key, followed by the pen.

He looks at her triumphantly, while she becomes completely frozen and shocked. To add to her misery, the too-numerous-to-count crumbled sticky notes fall out, causing her to yelp in supreme embarrassment.

When he picks up his pen, she desperately wonders how the pen ended up in her bag. While he amusingly looks at her, she tries to put everything back into her bag while making impromptu excuses, “I didn’t do it on purpose. You have to believe me.”

He abruptly stops her by putting one hand on her hand while he methodically picks up one sticky note, Then why did you have me wait, you jerk!!, which he shows to her, “(But) this was done on purpose, right?”

“That is…”

Pointing to the spread out wonders of the stickies, he asks her, “The Korean language is really great, because all these mean essentially the same. Right?” Meaning there are numerous linguistic ways to call him a jerk.

Determinedly, while gathering up all the stickies, “Okay. I’ll explain everything. Wait just a minute for me outside. I’ll be right out.” Grimacing in supreme embarrassment, she puts all the spilled content back in her bag, hugs her bag tightly to her chest in a cute gesture, and bolts away, leaving in her wake one sticky note she had missed. He unfolds the note which reads, From a guy who looks like XX. He looks at the note rather incredulously.

Yi-soo later goes outside looking for Do-jin, and not finding him, calls him on his cell phone to sweetly ask him where he is.

“In the car.”
“The car? But I don’t see either the car or you.”
“Naturally, because they are both on their way home.”
Not so sweetly, “But what about the settlement? Didn’t you come because of the settlement?”
“That was my intention on the way there, but now I’ve changed my mind.”
“Why? Is it because you had to wait a scant few minutes for me? I had to wait in your office…”
“Delinquent students, profanity-ridden Post-it notes, pen pilfering… all the highly suspicious indictments are piling up. I’m wondering what would be an appropriate justice, but just for your information, I believe in poetic justice (권선징악*). Bye.” *(Ghun-sun-jing-ak : It means, reward the good and punish the wicked)

Shocked that he hung up on her, she laments the fact that her fortune has turned for the worse compared to even a few minutes ago since meeting Kim Do-jin.

11. Gang-nam Girl

We get to see the depth of Lim Mae Ah-ri’s feelings for Yoon in the episode 2, time 36:25. Jung-rok doesn’t recognize her since it’s been two years and she has lost a lot of weight. While she’s busy smiling at Yoon from a distance, Jung-rok checks her out up and down, “You must live in this neighborhood?” In elevated form of language.

She turns and seeing who it is, she can’t quite suppress the chuckle, “So what if I live in this neighborhood?” Smiling, “Because I live in this neighborhood as well.” He sticks his hand out to her, “Nice to meet you.”

Looking at him creepily, “I get a feeling that you live in the neighborhood next to this one.” Literally jumping with excitement, “How did you know that? But then, Gang-nam* beggar must be engraved on my face, right?”

*(강남 is a posh southern metropolitan district of Seoul south of Han River. The song, Gang-nam Style, poking fun at it has even hit the Billboard chart here due to its popularity, and the singer, Psy, short for Psycho, has become an instant celebrity appearing on numerous talk shows)

Coolly, she puts him back in his place, “I’m not sure about that, but yoo-boo-nam* is written there.” There being his face. Then she walks away toward Yoon, Do-jin, and her brother. *(유부남 means a married man)

Spotting her, Lim Tae-san does a double take, “Uh! When did that kid get here?” Yoon knows it’s her from just one look at the beaming kid walking toward them, but Do-jin asks who she might be. Her brother yells, “Hey, Lim Mae Ah-ri!” “That’s Mae Ah-ri?” wonders Do-jin. “That girl?”

Midway there, Mae Ah-ri can’t rein in the excitement any longer. She lifts her arms and while yelling, “Oppa!” she runs in her high heels and all to hug the wrong oppa. Yoon appears just as shocked that she hugs him instead of her biological oppa.

Embarrassed, Tae-san puts down his raised arms, while Mae Ah-ri tells Yoon, “I’ve missed you so much.” Embarrassed in his own right, Yoon hesitatingly tells her, “It’s good to see you, too.”* *Tae-san pulls her off Yoon, “Hey, kid. Your oppa is right here, you know.” Pretending to notice him for the first time, she beams, “Oh, I didn’t know you were here, too.” She hugs him as well, asking him if he’s been doing well.

Smiling, Mae Ah-ri asks Do-jin, “You’ve gotten a lot older since I’ve seen you last.” Grinning back, Do-jin asks her, “What exactly did you do to your face?”
Miffed, “Is that the only way you know how to say that I’ve gotten prettier?”

Jung-rok takes her side by chiding Do-jin, which prompts Mae Ah-ri to tell her oppa that Jung-rok tried to hit on her, but Jung-rok prevents her from embarrassing him by spewing out all the English words in his repertoire.

12. Misdirected Text Galore

Tae-san blackmails Do-jin by hinting that if he doesn’t settle with Yi-soo regarding her students’ issue, he’s going to tell her about what really happened with the thug students. So Do-jin agrees to meet with her, but he delays the inevitable by first writing the settlement on the dirt, then another time when she complained that he should write it on a paper, he does it on a coffee wrapping paper. Frustrated, she comes up with a plan in the episode 2, time 46:00. She texts Tae-san, Mr. Tae-san, I really don’t want to resort to seeking your help, but I think Mr. Kim Do-jin is not a very nice person. I don’t think he has any intention to accept the settlement.

But as soon as she presses the send button, she realizes that she erroneously sent the text message to Do-jin. Freudian slip, perhaps.

After her trademark convulsing fits on her bed, she sits up when she gets a text from Do-jin, Tae-san, I get a feeling that teacher Suh is cursing me out. (But) why doesn’t she call me instead of cowardly doing so behind my back.

After another “Oh, what should I do?” convulsing fits, she abruptly recollects herself and sits up on the bed again, “Okay. Let’s see what this leads to.” She texts back, knowing fully that she’s texting to Do-jin, Mr. Tae-san. I think maybe Mr. Kim Do-jin and I have a little misunderstanding. Do you think we should get together to resolve this?

Sitting in his office alone, Do-jin texts back, Tae-san, I’m going to this address. Do you think Ms. Suh Yi-soo will come if I ask her to?

As she rushes out of her house, she texts back, Mr. Tae-san, I’m planning on meeting Mr. Kim Do-jin (there) right now.
Do-jin’s getting into his car, Tae-san, if I agree to settle, do you think Ms. Suh Yi-soo will at least buy dinner?
Mr. Tae-san, if he agrees to settle, then I’m prepared to not only buy dinner*, but to make him dinner from scratch if I have to. *(Bop (밥) is a meal, but literally it means rice. So she actually texts that she’ll not only buy dinner, she’s even ready to take on rice agriculture.)
Tae-san, instead of rice agriculture, can you ask her what she thinks of grape agriculture. He wants to drink wine, too. Greedy, this guy.

She sighs and ignores him.

Continue reading >>> Page 3: He Confesses

34 thoughts on “Gentlemen’s Dignity

  1. Dear Michael and CJ,

    First of all… WOW, what a labor of love and what a special treat!! Thundie’s Prattle is not worthy!

    Thank you, both of you, for collaborating on this amazing review and recap. When I first saw the draft, I wondered what motivated you to write 46,000 words (!!) on a drama that hasn’t been blogged about much (but what do I know, this cave dweller who has finished all of one drama the entire year). But as I read one scene after another, the story began to grow on me and pretty soon I was lapping up every word and eager for more. I had no idea this drama was so cute and funny and also super romantic; no one told me until now!

    For the untold hours that you spent writing and screencapping, for being so thoughtful with the numbering (that made it so easy to follow the plot), and for friendship, patience and everything else, thank you!!


    • Hi Thundie,

      We are thrilled that you liked it so much. The dialouge was what attracted me to the drama initially, but it felt laborious early on, because it took a while for me to like the Do-jin character. More than once, I wanted to scrap the whole project because I just wasn’t warming up to the Do-jin character, but I couldn’t because I’ve already amassed so much Q&A material intercontinentally with CJ. I didn’t have the heart to “waste” all the work CJ did for me, so most of the credit should go to CJ.

      And thank you, Thundie, for all the behind-the-scene work that you do to make this post a reality.

  2. Second the WOW! It was enjoyable reading about a drama that was definitely one of the highlights of the year! Why? Because the characters, in age, not maturity were closer to mine so I enjoyed every moment! Amazing screencaps and write-up! I wish I could be as eloquent! Good job to both of you!

  3. Could a sweet TP reader post a link to this review on Soompi (Gentlemen’s Dignity, Jang Dong-gun and Kim Ha-neul threads)? Thank you so much! I know fans of the drama would really love this review because it’s so compelling and delightful a read and is full of helpful notes on the meanings of words, etc. Please help spread the word, muah!

  4. This is why I adore your reviews! I fell in love at this drama, not at the beginning I have to admit, but later after few weeks of awesome intros and more awesome JDG. It came like summer breeze, and stayed as flower ahjussi. At 1st it was all about fun, and JDG made it happen with his pals. I loved intro for every episode, it was clever way of showing, family ties aren’t only ones, friends can be more then right family. Drama was super cute, funny, well acted, romantic and warm.
    Thanks girls, for amazing review and smile on my face right now! Keep up, good job!

    • Thank you, mtoh. Yes, I also loved the intros for giving us not only funny moments like the Girls’ Generation cameo appearance but also using the intros as a vehicle to give us insights into the F4 characters.

  5. Wow Michael, you and your cousin CJ really did an amazing job with this. It took days to read through all of it. You can tell this was the work of two people cuz of all the details. Thank you both for all your effort in putting it together – so glad you decided not to abandon it. You are right – it would have been a pity to lose all the hard work your cousin put into this. I love reading about dramas from your perspective cuz you always add your masculine touch by noticing things women wouldn’t – like for example that scene when her skirt unravels. I laughed when I read about how you wondered why the sales vendor wouldn’t complain or question why he wanted the table cloth and just hand it over to him. I can tell you it’s cuz he looks like that and probably gave her a smile as he asked. If he gave a wink, she would have handed over her entire stock I bet. I never did finish watching this drama all the way through and only caught a few scenes here and there on cable reruns. I had the same problem as you and had issues with the lead male character DJ. How can he go from being a womanizer to someone who is willing to go so slowly in the relationship overnight – it’s just not realistic. Out of all his friends, I liked Yoon the most just like you. The other two sort of bugged me with their choices in life. TS should have fallen in love with a woman worthy of his love and I still say he chose poorly. As for that other playboy friend, his best scene was when he sang over the intercom to his wife as she walked through one of her stores and made her cry. His motive for doing that might have been off, but at least he gave her a moment of happiness she deserved for staying with his cheating butt all those years. My biggest problem with this drama was Yi Soo. Her character annoyed me at every turn. Everything she did and said the first few episodes frustrated me and it only got worse as the series progressed. That whole scene you described where she doesn’t notice DJ right in front of her cuz she is so “one track minded” was the most ludicrous of all – more so cuz DJ finds that amusing. I know I shouldn’t compare, but I had a hard time believing this was the same writer for SG. She dropped the ball in this drama if you ask me cuz the characters she created here just didn’t measure up to the ones in SG.

    I started watching cuz I am a huge JDG fan, but it turns out my interest in him must have waned over the years cuz I didn’t last very long after the drama started – partially cuz he is a family man now and he has aged a lot. Instead of marveling over his looks, I started counting all his wrinkles and questioned just how many botox injections these guys must have had to keep up their appearances. That bathroom scene where he pins her against the door by merely hovering over her still traumatizes me cuz I noticed wrinkles on his upper body no fan should ever have to see. That scene literally hurt my eyes and I had to look away in sadness muttering about how cruel time is on some people. As his fan, I should have avoided watching this drama cuz now I look at his photos in magazines wondering just how much they photoshopped his wrinkle lines. Arghh…ignorance was bliss before AGD came along.

    Anyway thanks for giving us something interesting to read for those who didn’t follow or catch this drama. If I knew this was coming, I would have waited just to read this and skip the drama itself.

    Hey Thundie – bet you are happy cuz after reading all these pages, you can count this as another drama watched for this year. 🙂

    • Hi Softy,

      It’s sad getting old, right. I think if they made this a more of a sophisticated F4 group involved in a story that is mature, intelligent, and yet have smart repartees that I know the writer is capable of, then it would’ve been great. Trying the same physical attraction formula with aging stars without a whole lot of substance just didn’t cut it for most part.

      I agree that Tae-san should’ve gone for Yi-soo, but I thought this was a realistic depiction, because life is sometimes like that where you can’t help but feel attraction for someone when others think you shouldn’t. Even though Tae-san appreciates Yi-soo as a good person, I guess he really didn’t feel attracted to her, or maybe he didn’t think she would fall for someone like him as evidenced by his initial reaction when he finds out that Yi-soo likes him. The second rationale sort of makes sense, because both Tae-san and Sa-ra have a lot in common. They both have fiery personality, short fuse, basically inconsiderate to others, and somewhat egotistical.

      Regarding the other playboy, Jung-rok, he technically didn’t cheat on his wife, Park Min-sook, if we go by what he said. He tells his friends that he only drinks tea (or wines and dines, I forget his exact words) with other women, alluding that he never slept with any of them. His singing over the intercom was nice, but I thought his best scene with his wife was the bicycle scene, when he essentially tells her, when he thinks she can’t hear him because she’s listening to music, that she is not young or pretty, and the only thing going for her is her money, but she is still “sticky,” meaning that he’s inexplicably attracted to her despite all that. She smiles at that, probably because that may be the only time he was really being earnest and truthful with her.

      Over time, I grew to really like Park Min-sook character. Her love doctor ability aside, I really liked her straight, no-phony-allowed kind of attitude. I especially liked the scene when she forces the woman who slapped one of Yi-soo’s students apologize to the student, when she saves Sa-ra from the golf bully at the golf range, and when she stands up to Sa-ra, telling her in no uncertain terms that she has every right to give Sa-ra’s car that she was holding as a collateral to Tae-san because he is her husband’s friend. And that’s not counting the fact that she’s leasing one of her buildings to her husband’s three friends dirt cheap just because they are her husband’s best friends.

      I also liked the fact that not everyone gets to have everything. Yes, Min-sook is filthy rich, but she cannot have one thing that she probably would’ve have exchanged all her riches for – her own baby. Jung-rok and Min-sook probably would’ve become closer sooner if they had their own baby, but they resolve that problem eventually and become closer because of the adversity.

      But you’re right. The writer didn’t quite reach the same lofty standard she set with Secret Garden in this drama.

      • I still have a problem remembering all these names or else I could cite more examples in my response. Dummy me just realized Min Sook is my mom’s name so no wonder that sounded so familiar all this time.
        Despite its faults, you are right – this drama did have its moments. I totally agree with you about those great scenes, especially that one where Min sook lies that she is the aunt of that kid in trouble and how she “owned (put her in her place)” that snobby rich woman was priceless. Out of the 4 female characters, MS was my favorite cuz she had a good head on her shoulders.
        So her husband never cheated on her? I find that surprising cuz now I don’t get why the other 3 tried so hard to prevent her from finding out where he was every time he was with a new young woman. I thought it was pretty messed up that his bad behavior trained her not to trust him and lowered her sense of self worth and now I’m to believe that all happened cuz he had tea or wine with all those gorgeous young women. Yeah I don’t buy that at all. The man looked and acted way too guilty just for having some wine with a woman. Sorry, but no sane husband would risk his marriage over tea or wine.
        I just realized I left out some of my other fav scenes – the ones with Yi Soo and the student who had a crush on her. It wasn’t just her lectures to do better that got to him and made him change his behavior, but the fact that she cared enough to be there for him whenever he needed someone to believe in him. The other one was when an angry client threw something at one of the architects who work for DJ and he allowed himself to get hit and how it angered DJ so much he unleashed his wrath on the client and walked away from losing all that money. Totally loved how DJ cried over the lost income only after his anger subsided. On a shallow note, I thought those good looking architects at DJ’s firm should have come out more. 🙂

        • I think we are both speculating as to whether or not Jung-rok slept with other women after he married Min-sook. I admit that I really didn’t watch Jung-rok and Min-sook couple or Tae-san and Sa-ra couple scenes that carefully, so I could be wrong but I don’t recall anybody saying that Jung-rok committed adultery. Maybe that’s what the writer wanted, for the viewers to speculate.

          My take on Jung-rok, and mind you it’s a complete speculation on my part, is that he may have slept around before the marriage, but I like to give the man the benefit of doubt because we don’t have a definitive proof of his infidelity. I believe in being innocent until proven guilty. Maybe his habit of flirting with other women is hard to break, but what if he really couldn’t find it in him to break his wedding vows. What if it’s not insanity but immaturity, addiction of his old ways, and stupidity of feeling inferior to his wife are what he’s suffering from.

          Then why did his friends work so hard to protect him if he’s not really guilty? Well, you’re not his wife, and yet you don’t believe him. Imagine how hard it would be to believe him if you were his wife. And you’re much nicer and less scary of a person than Park Min-sook. And beside the friendship thing, his friends are financially vested in Jung-rok not to get Min-sook angry. And Min-sook doesn’t strike me as a person who would wait for something like definitive proof before getting angry or jumping to conclusions.

          By the way, you’re not the only one who doesn’t believe him. I asked my cousin, and her more or less exact words to me were: Based on his character depiction, I think he did sleep around.

          On a different topic, yes, your other favorite scenes of Yi-soo and Do-jin were mine also. But unfortunately, while Yi-soo’s character was more or less consistent, I thought that Do-jin’s was being incongruous and annoying, flipping between being mature and downright juvenile.

          • I’m totally in agreement with your cousin CJ on the idea that he cheated either before or during the marriage. It’s like that saying where there is smoke there is fire. I knew his friends covered for him cuz they were protecting their own interests, but at the same time, they genuinely cared for MS’s feelings and didn’t want to see her get hurt or angry so that’s why they covered for him. I inferred from their looks of disappointment every time they caught him with someone new that they believed something more than just drinks was going on. So even his friends didn’t believe in his innocence. Plus MS was a smart woman and since she was burned so many times, it’s no wonder she lost her ability to trust. I doubt she would have been relegated to such a state that she cant believe a word of what her husband says unless she genuinely believed he was cheating. Isnt there some kind of saying about how it’s semantics to argue about the degrees of cheating cuz even emotionally stepping out on a marriage is being unfaithful. I think what it comes down to is that it doesn’t matter how platonic his flirting was after marriage, just the fact that he sought out the company of all those young women was wrong. Whether he did anything to warrant all those accusations is not the point cuz based on his “wandering eyes” past, he should have kept his urges in check. Using the excuse that he felt inferior to her as a basis to cheat is just plain selfish. I can’t rememeber how this drama ended now, but I was happy when she decided to divorce him cuz that was a healthy decision for her so she can learn to get back her self worth. He shook up the foundation of their marriage so I thought it was a little too late in the game to make amends.
            Now I remember why I wasn’t able to sit through entire episodes of this drama. The actions of these characters frustrated me cuz I just didn’t get where they were coming from. I like my dramas to blur the lines of reality and not step over to the realm of improbability so often. 🙂

            • Ah, Softy, I love how you think because that’s how I view marriage and “cheating” as well. I think since Bill Clinton, the line became somewhat blurry as to what really constitute as sex, but regarding what infidelity should be, I absolutely agree with you that Jung-rok committed infidelity even if we assume that he didn’t actually sleep with other women.

              This discussion all started because I wanted to point out that “technically” he may not have crossed the line of no return, because Min-sook does take Jung-rok back, telling him that they’ll live their lives with realization that they could divorce at any time, but that’s really no different than any other relationship.

              I think Thundie thinks we are fighting. Okay, Thundie, we are not quarreling anymore. You can take the blue background off, because I can’t read anything. 🙂

            • Hey Michael,
              This reply might go to the wrong spot cuz there was no reply button after your last one. Guess we commented too much. Hahaha I don’t think Thundie thought we were fighting since we were just having a casual conversation about AWG- I just assumed she was trying out a new christmas background on this theme and realized the one she chose just took over the entire page so she changed it back. I can see why you had a hard time reading the page though cuz I did too.
              I think cuz of A Wife’s Confidential, I’ve been on the fence about affairs. Before that drama came along, my stance on cheating was pretty firm, but that character’s situation made me realize sometimes in life people end up married to the wrong person. So when the right person comes along, what are they supposed to do – turn their back on potential happiness just to stay committed and be miserable. Once they discover who they were meant to be with, I don’t think it’s wrong to get a divorce and start over. This is all just based on that drama and not something I would do in real life.
              Anyway, it was very interesting to get your take on things cuz it cleared up a lot of questions I had about AGD. Glad we got this chance to share our thoughts. 🙂

              Hey Thundie, still working on the rest of those recaps, but it’s gonna be rushed. Hoping it won’t end up being too long. 🙂

  6. Thank you!

    This was great fun to read. I watched the show and though it was flawed I still enjoyed it. Reading your thoughtful analysis gave me some wonderful cultural nuances I had been unaware of and a smattering of the male perspective. I only wish I could have you around for all the dramas I watch.

    Again thank you for your hard work.


  7. Thank you, Amy, for reading. And for your wish. I know what you mean, because for me, having CJ around is great because I no longer have to listen to lines I can’t quite understand 20 times over. I just give her the episode number and time, and viola, I get my answer. 🙂

    • Can you loan out your cousin for those of us with no Korean relatives? Just kidding! You’re very lucky to have that resource. Thank you for paying it forward by giving us great read alike this.


  8. Hi Michael, CJ and Thundie!!!!

    Thank you all for your hard work and for this long recap / review. I am just halfway done and probably need a few more days to finish but I thought I should really thank you now. I love AGD. Really… love it. It’s one of the very few (*sad face) dramas I have watched and completed this year. Admittedly, this show is littered with holes in plot, theme and characterization, but there were also an equal number of LOL moments for me. From a smile to a chuckle, a guffaw to hysterical-back-slapping-rolling-tears kind of laughter, yup, this show did produce!

    In that sense, I would say that AGD was probably THE most enjoyable show I watched in 2012.

    I am really sad that there seems to be a dearth of good dramas to watch nowadays, especially of the romcom variety (*my particular brand of crack). I was just now looking at my viki list and was shocked that this year, I only got to finish 3, yes THREE! k-dramas (and one j-dorama, Rich Man Poor Woman). (I did drop many after a few eps) Pathetic! My love is not waning, but now I have been relegated to re-watching favourite dramas, AGD among them. (BTW, I am watching King of Dramas now, which I am enjoying so much, hence has a very good potential to increasing the number to 4 finished dramas in 2012! yey!)

    For me, AGD is really about the enduring friendship among the F44, the four gentlemen trying so hard to maintain, nay, nurture, their dignity. Their brotherhood, care and love for each other is a sight to behold – so precious and lovely.

    This is the first time I have ever watched Jang Dong Gun in anything, and just with this one show, he has shot up above all the other most-loved k-drama actors in my list to sit atop the throne to rule them all. Yup, now, I can understand the legend (and this is just a romcom!). I am so excited to see him in Dangerous Liaison, where just from the previews, he looks so hot!

    Michael, you know I am your fan, and I continue to savour your writing. I even take notes! (because I so want to understand the Korean language and culture). CJ, thanks for your help and adding more details. And Thundie, it’s always good to read from you. Thank you, thank you for hanging on… *hugs to all

    • Hi wits,

      You’re so right about the F4 brotherhood. I could’ve just as well written about the elder F4 and the young budding F4, because there was enough material there to rival this post. The most touching scene for me was when Yoon’s wife died, and all three of his friends instantly dropped everything to be with him. Their camaraderie was enduring and precious.

      In a recent interview, Jang Dong-gun said that one thing he regrets about this drama was that he was not in a better physical shape. That may be why he looked so gaunt in this drama. I may be wrong, but I think the last time he did a drama was “All about Eve,” and if you love Jang Dong-gun, you would love that one. I thought that was his best drama.

      And thank you for being one of my most ardent fans and my most diligent student of the Korean language. 🙂

  9. Hello!

    Thank you your post. I actually watched and enjoyed watching AGD when it first aired. I suppose I enjoyed the drama as the characters were my age and I actually have a group of male friends who continue to be bachelors. My boyfriend was on the receiving end of a lot of questions of “do guys really do that?”

    However, as I am not of Korean descent, I have to rely on the efforts of the submerse. As you know, a lot of meaning (spoken and cultural) can be lost in the translation. Reading your thoughts and explanations gave me a better insight into the AGD world. I teared all over again.

    Thank you, again!

  10. Hello again Michael and Thundie! Hi CJ!

    I watched AGD while it was on it’s regular run via cable (…yes, I had the Korean package installed to our monthly cable subscription, uhm..despite of the fact that I do not understand nor speak a word of Korean!) I solely depend on recaps and I patiently wait for English subs so that I could fully understand and enjoy the dramas.

    Occasionally, I stumble upon rare treats. I have been your fan Michael, ever since your post on LTM. You made me appreciate the drama’s richness with your little nuggets of cultural wisdom. Up till present, that recap, stands to be the best one I have read…ever!

    Thank you for recapping AGD. It’s one of the dramas I enjoyed watching this year. Hehe, I have now rearranged my weekend schedule to accommodate an AGD marathon. Because of this post, you made me want to watch it again, this time guided with your language and cultural annotations!

    Ahh…AGD, I fell in love with it’s soundtrack…hmm, IDK, I even tolerated “High, high!” I discovered three actors Jang Dong Gun, Kim Hae Neul and Lee Jong Hyuk. I finally understood the hype around Jang Dong Gun, why he is considered “beloved” in Korea. When he’s together with KHN on screen, you can’t help but notice how charismatic they can be…truly. So, despite of his wrinkles and flab (err…yes, flab), I’m a newly minted Jang Dong Gun fan…oh and Kim Hae Neul’s too! Lee Jong Hyuk took a lot of getting used to because I knew him before as the villain in most of the dramas I’ve seen him in, (think: Chuno); in AGD, he was the worst in the lot, but to my surprise, his comedic timing was impeccable. I ended up laughing at his antics more. (I understand, LJH is currently enjoying a second wind in his career post-AGD, especially with CF’s.)

    Lastly, I love stories on friendships. I especially loved the mini stories before each episode – the prologues. The writer brilliantly used them to give us a hint of the episode’s content. They were like mini stories introducing each character and his quirk, that was a clever way to give us insights on the character’s personality.

    So I guess this is au revoir? I hope I don’t get to wait for another year for a new & awesome recap! Michael and CJ, your collaboration rocks! Really, really cool!

    • Hi drmjs,

      Lie to Me was actually much more enjoyable for me to write than this one, especially early on, but what makes it all worthwhile are comments like yours and others. Thank you.

      I think you may be psychic, because what determines when I write again depends on a drama and my work schedule, and unfortunately, for the entire year of 2013 I’ll have additional workload added to my already insane work hours, which means no time during weekends as well, so it would be almost impossible for me to write again until early 2014. See you then, unless, of course, I win a lottery or something. 🙂

  11. This is one of the best romantic comedy series ever. I like how mature their roles are but they still depict the natural humor of a true gentlemen. They all look so adorable and nice.

    • Yes, as romantic comedies go, this one was pretty good. And I’ll take your word for it, that the guys all look adorable and nice. 🙂 Maybe that was the problem for me.
      Compared to guys, there was a dearth of true ladies for my taste. Other than Yi-soo, Sa-ra was too coarse and selfish, Min-sook too bossy, and Mae Ah-ri too sassy.
      I know, I’m being two-dimensional and hypercritical, but hopefully I’ll come across a drama with female F4 to drool over sometime in my lifespan.

  12. I have a problem with dramas…why is it OK for the lead male character to be a jerk/immature/non respectful person in the first episodes and then turns out to be a good boyfriend later on? Is it OK for women to be “wooed” this way? Can’t someone fall in love without having been upset and looked down upon?

    • I agree with you, Mello. If I could, I would write nothing but mature, sophisticated, and interesting characters and plots, but some may view that as vanilla. Unfortunately, conflicts, angst, and generally despicable things have to co-exist to some degree with good, noble, and happy things to make it interesting. I guess that’s why they call it a drama. But you’re right. Too much of going to one extreme is not good. Kdramas, I think, tend to take it to an entirely off-this-world kind of level with this particular issue.

  13. Because I am a compulsive obsessive nerd, I just have to correct you on one particular: it was Hyun Bin in Secret Garden, not Won Bin.

    • Thanks, Jiamin, for being compulsive and obsessive. 🙂

      Just the other night, while I was in the midst of writing an important email, my daughter came into my room and asked me if I have a SD card. Not wanting to interrrupt my train of thought, I told her what I instinctively thought would be the best answer for her not to engage in any further conversation with me, “No. I don’t even know what a SD card looks like.” Which is partially true, since while I have seen a picture of SD card before, I have never used it, and at that engrossed moment, visualization of a SD card was the farthest thing from my mind.

      I couldn’t help but look up and smile at her though, when she replied, “What kind of a nerd are you, when you don’t even know what a SD card looks like.” She has called me a nerd a few times in the past affectionately, because she says while I’m obsessed with technology, I don’t understand technology.

      So, I guess I’m not even a passable nerd anymore. It’s so hard getting old. 🙂

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  15. These men look the part that they ought to be gentlemen. Are you sure they’re wack jobs interested in sex? I doubt it, I think they’re gansta type people who title themselves gentlemen, or maybe people call them gentlemen because they look so similar to one. I don’t know very much about pseudo, I might be a pseudo-poshie for all I know, I promise you no one is pseudo- anything on purpose, it just happens because the people do things a little differently or because of the white lies used as compliments about them, that’s all. A pseudo-normal is one who’s Catholic, thinks it’s the one true church, drinks iced coffee and does things people ”think” are a little odd sometimes. Same thing.

  16. Hi @softy, I don’t think you’re a JDG fan at all as you claimed you are. You’re most probably a JDG hater than a fan. What kind of a fan would say horrible things against her idol? So I don’t really believed you’re a JDG fan. Don’t you think some things are better left unsaid? Most especially if you don’t really what you’re saying. And who says no one doesn’t age? Everyone of us will reach that point whether we like it or not. But I’m sure JDG looks better than most of us as he aged. I’m sure even without the wonder of science, he will age gracefully. It was just so evident because it took him 12 years to return to Kdrama land. So most of our memories of him was his AAE days when he was just 28 yrs old. So there was really a drastic change in his looks (as he got older) but he’s still as handsome nonetheless. That’s probably the reason why you’re telling us that he has undergone aesthetic procedures or photoshopped looks. But how sure are you? Even without wrinkles, most celebrities featured in magazines are “photoshopped” especially if they don’t have flawless skin. And most Korean celebrities went under the knife and obviously most Kpop idols. That’s why they look so fake. But mind you, JDG is 100% pure and natural and was born with pretty boy looks. I should know because I’m an avid JDG fan for almost two decades now.

  17. Hi his is kinda of off topic buut I was wondering if blogs
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