Gentlemen’s Dignity

19. Love Guru

While in the car, he gets a call from Jung-rok to cover for him from his wife, so Do-jin makes a detour to Yang-yang instead of Gang-neung while Yi-soo was sleeping. Jung-rok’s wife issue is important to the three amigos, because she leases one of her buildings to them at a ridiculously low price (she calls it, “donation level lease contract”) just for being her husband’s friends, but not knowing that, Yi-soo cannot understand why he’s telling her to take a bus to Gang-neung.

In the episode 3, time 32:00, Do-jin gets a note delivered by a bellhop from “his wife.” Jung-rok is so shocked that he takes off the sunglasses that he always seems to wear indoors, “Your wife? Did you get married without telling me?”

The note from Yi-soo reads, You seemed very busy, so I’m leaving on my own. But I forgot to tell you beforehand that I’m borrowing your car. See you at Gang-neung.

Not so calm now, Do-jin, telling Jung-rok to fly instead, takes his car to Gang-neung. Confronting Yi-soo there, she makes him promise to stay out of her life, including her amnesia problem (about not remembering Do-jin), in exchange for his car key. When Do-jin finds his beloved Betty full of dried squid stench, he pays her back by putting the squid in her clothes bag.

Thanks to the squid smell of all her clothes, she’s forced to wear Mae Ah-ri’s mini-skirt as they are leaving to go back home in the episode 3, time 45:20. Her memory’s fresh from the warning she had received from Do-jin that if she doesn’t do what he says whenever he mentions her name, he’s going to tell Tae-san her secret. When Tae-san tells her that he has to swing by Sa-ra’s, she asks him for a ride, but not if Do-jin can help it.

Do-jin pretends to be miffed, “What is it with you? Didn’t you tell me that you’re not going home? You wanted to remain behind with me.” Yi-soo vehemently objects, “When did I say that?”

“You don’t have to be bashful about it. Tae-san will understand. Since we came all the way to Gang-neung, you wanted to try their sashimi. That’s when I said to you, ‘it’s okay with me, Suh Yi-soo.’” He says her name loud and distinctively to jog her memory of their deal.

Tae-san tells Yi-soo, “Then I guess I’ll see you later?” Do-jin drives a nail to their pact, “You have to answer him, Suh Yi-soo!” She leans over to whisper congratulations in Do-jin’s ear, I send you thunderous praise for your cleverness, Kim Do-jin. Smugly Do-jin looks at Tae-san while pointing at her, “I think she’s still feeling a bit bashful.”

Tae-san sounds disappointed, “You could’ve said it aloud.” Tae-san asks if she said something like, I’ll buy you scrumptious seafood later, and Yi-soo hotly denies it. Smoothly, Do-jin tells him, “If it was something that innocent, I would tell you. She says it’s something really embarrassing. She’s sending me thunderous praises.” Do-jin pretends that she had whispered something personal and naughty.

Do-jin tells Tae-san, “I’ll see you later.” Subdued Tae-san replies, “Okay.” Do-jin marches Yi-soo to his car in a position reminiscent of their red thread incident. It doesn’t help that Tae-san yells to Yi-soo to watch out for Do-jin.

Sitting across from somber and reflective Yi-soo in a seafood restaurant by the sea in the episode 3, time 47:23, Do-jin asks her, “You’re not eating?”

“Is it really just sashimi? Is that the only reason why you brought me here?”
Smiling, “Of course not.”
“Then, what is it?”
“You’ve never dated before?”

Acting offended, “I used to be called a guru (신동)*, you know. A dating guru.” *(Sin-dong means a whiz, prodigy, marvel, but in this context, a master sounds better)

Not believing her for a second, “Then you must know why a man would bring a woman to this kind of faraway and unfamiliar seaside.” Woman, thy name is impatient. She barks, “So, what is the reason?”

As he coolly sips soju (Korean liquor), his voice suddenly becoming baritone, he purposely allows his gaze to fall below her neckline, “To say you don’t know why at your age should be embarrassing.” As it finally dawns on her, she can’t help but tense up, but she visibly relaxes when he tells her, “So that you can drive us back to Seoul.” It’s an inane rationale, but he must have felt really sorry for her.

He teases her, “You seem disappointed. You must have wanted something else.”

They both go for each other’s soju, and despite his warning, she takes a sip from his bottle. I guess she didn’t want to drive to Seoul. Watching her taking a long sip, “You really must want to spend the night here. It’s okay with me.” Her eyes bugging out, she proceeds to spit out what’s in her mouth back in the bottle. He frowns, “Ah, that’s so dirty.” But she smiles at him triumphantly.

20. She confesses… for real

It’s a miracle that after blackmailed into enjoying the seafood and so-ju (liquor), she would still want to take in the spectacular ocean view standing on the sandy beach next to the very man, but then I’ve never professed to understand the complex mind of a woman.

But that’s what exactly happens in the episode 3, time 48:50 when Yi-soo endures Do-jin’s not-so-flattering assessment of the inner workings of her mind, “How can a woman repeatedly not see an inch ahead of her?” As in not seeing the consequences of her actions such as taking his car without telling him, putting the dried squid in his car, telling Tae-san that the chocolate basket was for Do-jin, etc.

She agrees, at first. “I know…” Then she turns to look at him, having a problem with one particular word. “Repeatedly?” Mother Nature answers for him, because right at that moment, a brisk wind lifts her mini-skirt up showing off her mini-slip. Yelping, she tries to calm down the unruly skirt, while he cracks, “This woman consistently seems to have a problem with the lower side*.” *(Remember ha-e-sil-jong (하의실종), mini-skirt)

She gives him a brief peevish look. Unexpectedly, she gets a huge, unfashionable, long skirt from him when he takes off his ski overcoat to wrap around her lower torso, reminiscent of his makeshift skirt he made from a tablecloth in the episode 1. She looks at him with a renewed look on her face while he fusses with the buttons, but he never would’ve guessed that when she gushes over another man a little later.

He stands a little distance from her to admire his handiwork, and when she not only doesn’t acknowledge his labor of love but lifts her upper lip in annoyance, he can’t help but tease her, “Thank you, you’re so kind.” She can’t help but chuckle at that, “You’re so very persistent… although I haven’t changed my mind about it being ssang-bang-gua-sil*. Thank you.”

*(Remember 쌍방과실, which means both parties at fault, from the episode 1 on their second meeting with the red thread incident. She finally admits that she remembers him, but she also tells him that the term is applicable to both incidences)

He smiles, “That was a memorable confession.” She chuckles again, her heart warming up to him for keeping the memories of both incidents light and affable.

He asks her why she umpires baseball games when keeping students in tow should be hard enough of a job. She replies that because she, next to teaching, likes baseball the most. And she also likes Lim Tae-san. He cringes inside at the last remark, and he turns to look at her. Unaware of his reaction, she apologizes for making him uncomfortable with that “tremendous confession” – that she likes Do-jin. She asks Do-jin to forgive her, because now she has forever lost the chance to confess to Tae-san.

21. Love hurts so good

Sorry. No John Mellencamp cameo here. You know, I really didn’t fully enjoy Mae Ah-ri’s devotion to her man throughout the drama the first time around, mainly because I really thought that the writer was going to pull a reality stunt and pair her with Do-jin’s teenage son at the end, but we get a taste of that one-man devotion in the episode 3, time 39:00, when she gets bonked in the head by a baseball thrown by no other than her own brother.

As they all surround her prostrated form, she suddenly gets up, frowns and groans at her brother, then beams at Yoon despite her headache. When Yoon asks her if she okay, she smiles and slowly lies back down again, “No, I’m not okay. I think (Yoon) oppa has to take care of me with tender loving care.” Yoon is both touched and worried.

Tae-san makes a swift diagnosis, “The kid has injured her brain.” Yi-soo smiles knowingly, while Tae-san performs a universally well-known neurological diagnostic procedure. He shakes 2 fingers in front of her in a dizzyingly fast speed, “How many fingers do you see?”

At first when she says, “I can’t see…” I thought it was because the fingers were like a blur, but she clarifies her statement, “Yooni oppa.” Because the stubby fingers were blocking the view of her man.

Yoon just closes his eyelids, heavy hearted at her devotion, because he knows her brother’s dead against their union.

22. Getting to know him better

In the episode 3, time 56:50, Yi-soo, while browsing in a bookstore, runs across a book titled, Hope is alive. Then, a book titled, I’m waiting…, catches her eyes. The book has a red yarn thread on its cover and flipping through the pages, she comes to a page that says, I’m waiting. For love.

Then, a magazine titled, Architecture World, with Kim Do-jin on its cover catches her eyes. The title of the article featuring Kim Do-jin reads, The architect Kim Do-jin’s thoughts on the current Korean architectural beauty are?

Sitting in an elegantly lit café veranda sipping her coffee, she reads the article out loud:

What is the decisive reason for pursuing the world of architecture?
Kim Do-jin: During the nineties, which was an era of (stock market) fund pillaging,
She can’t help but smile at that, probably because she’s thinking, that’s so like him to say that. She goes on, To my parents who wanted me to pursue career choices that end with the letter, sah ()*, I told them that architect also ends with sah…

*(The most coveted jobs that end with sah consist of doctor (의사), lawyer (변호사), judge (검사), but I didn’t realize that architect (건축사) also ends with sah. That’s a cute observation.)

At this point, Kim Do-jin, decked out in spiffy suit, appears next to her, and she hears him reciting the interview conversation, In Generation X-fitting rebellion, I chose the field of architecture. In truth, the occupational choices were determined by the grades. (This is true in that the career fields are sort of pre-determined for you in Korean high school depending on your ‘grades.’)

If there is any one particular architectural creation you would like to see (right) before you die?
Why would I want to waste my precious time seeing any architectural creation?

Then what would you want to see? Perhaps your loving wife’s face?
I’m a confirmed bachelor.

I would’ve never guessed that. Is there any particular reason why?
Because I don’t know if I can spend the rest of my life with one woman, and more importantly, I don’t know if I can love only one woman. Furthermore, I don’t want to share my money with a wife or with a child. Those are my only reasons.

Yi-soo doesn’t think very highly of his answer but still finds it humorous.

The director Kim Do-jin finished the interview, and as he was getting up, he added, You can hate me all you want. She can’t help but chuckle at that. She muses, “He really is a man who doesn’t mince words. By the way, why is that with this man, just from reading, I automatically hear his voice?”

One thing we can deduce from this interview is that Do-jin is brutally honest. And Yi-soo finds his insolence, honesty, and most of all his confidence endearing. She’s falling for him a little, as evidenced by her curiosity to find out more about the man, not to mention her decision to read the magazine in the romantically moon-lit café ambience.

At this point, she hears a honking sound from Hong Sa-ra, who happens to be driving by. In the car, Sa-ra sort of bulldoze Yi-soo into a seun (Korean blind date). Sa-ra later blabbers this information to Tae-san, who in turn calls Do-jin.

23. Unrequited love… His way

In the episode 3, time 01:03:00, as Yi-soo awaits her blind date in a hotel café, Do-jin appears out of nowhere and sits in front of surprised Yi-soo. Do-jin orders iced Americano coffee with 3 shots added, but the whole time his eyes never leave Yi-soo’s. She is rendered speechless, and looking at her simple attire of white cashmere with white suede jacket, he makes a fashion comment, “Is that how you dress when you meet other men, unattractively?”

When she’s still speechless, he smiles at her, “It’s been a while. Long enough for a whole season to change.” He’s making fun of her, because her favorite send-off line to him is, ‘See you next season.’

She finally finds her tongue, “In truth, I am meeting someone, and he’ll be here in 10 minutes.” She’s hoping he’ll take a hint and scram. A fat chance of that. Not with Do-jin. He tells her in a displeased tone, “You certainly came early. I don’t know why I was told to rescue a woman who’s so into mat-seun*.” *(맞선 – A full term for seun)

When she raises her brow silently asking him to elaborate, he does, “Tae-san told me to rescue you.” Excited, she asks him, “Tae-san asked you to… me?”

“Do you perk up only when you hear that name? You’re not touched by me, who didn’t have to come here at all?”
“Why did you come here, when you didn’t have to?”
“Because I want to start jjak-sah-rang*.” *(Unrequited love -짝사랑, remember)
Surprised, “With whom?” Why is Yi-soo so surprised? Perhaps it’s her subconscious jealousy?
With a smug grin, “With dek (댁)*.” *(Dek is a more formal, elevated way of saying, you, but it can also mean, wife. Perhaps there is a double entendre, here, on Do-jin’s part)
“Which dek?” Then it occurs to her, “With me? Me?”
More smugly, “Let’s just say declining (the offer) is not acceptable, (shall we?)”

This conversation carries over into the episode 4, time 04:00.

She recapitulates more calmly, “So what you’re saying is that Director Kim’s plan is to jjak-sah-rang me, but you have just announced that intent to your object of affection’s very face?”

“I think of it as a presentation of sort. My jjak-sah-rang’s concept, durability, capacity, quality, etc. If you have questions about any of these, don’t hesitate to ask.” The words Do-jin has just spewed out are all Korean architectural jargons, and he’s likening jjak-love to architecture.

Yi-soo is both impressed and flabbergasted at his capacity for turning a simple concept into a seemingly momentous BS*. *(Please don’t ask me to spell this out, because… well, somebody has to be a gentleman here. Apparently, nobody else in this drama wants to be.)

At that moment, Yi-soo’s seun match arrives and asks her if she is Suh Yi-soo, telling her that he’s the one she’s supposed to meet. Animated Yi-soo politely stands up, “Hello, I’m Suh Yi-soo.”

Staying put, Do-jin makes a tch, tch kind of observation, “So that’s how you behave to other men.” She gives him an almost wifely admonition-ish look (married men are very familiar with this biting-her-lower lip, wait-till-we-get-home look), and the other man says to Yi-soo, “I’m glad to meet you, but… (this man is)…” while body-motioning to Do-jin.

Awkwardly, Yi-soo stammers, “Ah, this man is…”

Do-jin saves the day, sort of, “Her first mat-seun is not quite over yet. The man number two*, let’s say that he has just been rescheduled.” *(This is in reference to a Korean TV show, called (짝), which is similar to the old U.S. TV show called, The Dating Game, where numbered men sit behind each curtain while one woman asks each man questions to determine who gets to date her. The format is different, but both shows have the men numbered)

She gasps audibly at Do-jin’s effrontery, “Mr. Kim Do-jin!” Do-jin just gives her a winsome smile. The second man starts, “I can’t fully begin to understand this situation…” She agrees, “Of course, this situation is ripe for misunderstanding. I’ll try to explain it in a minute…”

Do-jin interrupts as he stands up to address the poor guy, “If you were to just look at this situation, it’s entirely possible to come to a misunderstanding, but if you see what unfolds next, you’ll say, Ah, and will come to a full understanding, because it should be a very familiar scene.” (Especially if you watch Korean dramas a lot) Both the second man and Yi-soo look quizzical and relieved to finally see a closure to this madness.

Do-jin tells Yi-soo, “Let’s go,” then proceeds to grab her wrist and drags her out of there.

Yi-soo doesn’t tag along quietly, “Just why do you do this? Do you get bored every turn of a season? This was arranged by Sa-ra, so now what do I say to Sa-ra? What does Sa-ra say to that man? Sa-ra says he’s her golf pro senior.”

Do-jin tells her, “Why don’t you come clean and tell her, I can’t do seun because I’m in love with your boyfriend, Lim Tae-san?” That and the proximity of his face to hers while in a turnstile quiets her, but not for long.

When he asks her outside the hotel, “You’re going home, right?” she breaks free of his grip on her wrist, “Really, why do you do this to me?”

“I have revealed the reason a season ago and again half an hour ago, but you still ask. I didn’t think my confession would be that easy to forget.”
“Is it fun? Does it amuse you to jerk me around? I’ve held my tongue because I was sorry about certain things and I did some things that I wasn’t so proud of, but…”
“I didn’t come all this way because I’m like a rambunctious elementary school kid who thinks jerking people around is fun.”
“What’s wrong with rambunctious elementary school kid? It’s infinitely better than egotistical confirmed bachelor.”

Raising his eyebrows, Do-jin gives her an intrigued, amused, flattered you-read-my-article look, while she has no intention of denying his unspoken look, “You said that you’re a confirmed bachelor because you don’t want to share your wealth with your wife or a kid. But what? What did you say? You think anybody can do jjak-love? Who said it was so easy?” She’s belittling his selfish concept of love.

Amused, “Was my article sufficiently romanticized? My picture came out okay?”
Looking gratified, “The wrinkles around the eyes came through vividly distinct.”

He retorts in kind, “Ah. You must have looked very closely, repeatedly, and for a long time. The fact that you went through an architectural magazine that even I don’t read means that you’re not exactly devoid of interest in me. Why do you say, then, that you don’t like me?”

Taken back, “Who said I went through the magazine? I just happened to run across it.” He corrects her, “You were fated to run across it.”

Running out of smart repartee, she resorts to, “Look here, look here. You’re always kidding around. You’re never sincere.”
“For a man who possesses both intellect and good-looks, do you really thinks he lacks sincerity?” Well, he certainly lacks modesty.
Amazed at his ability to be never at loss for words, “Do you take oratory tutoring?”
“Do you think just anybody can do presentations?”

She wants a closure to this conversation, “So in spite of it all, stubbornly, and of all people*, you chose me to jjak-love. What if I say no?” *(This is probably one of the funniest and wittiest lines. She rattles off the words in succession in a machine-gun fashion that are all similar in meaning. Gi-yuh-e, 기어이 , meaning no matter what, goo-ji, 굳이, obstinately, and ha-pil, 하필, without looking at other options)

“Why should you say, no? It’s not like I’m asking you to justify my jjak-love. Besides, did dek (you) get a permission to jjak-love Tae-san?”
Speechless for a moment, “At least I don’t show tee (티)*.” *(Tee is to give a vibe)
“Is that why I picked up on the vibe so easily?”
“That’s because…”

She stops and sighs, realizing that she has no good reply, “That’s fine. I’m leaving. Till the next season, bye!” She sticks her palm up and does everything but Spock’s split finger salutation.

Even though Do-jin really does get on her nerves, she doesn’t want to admit yet that she’s slowly warming up to him. Perhaps sensing the change in her, Do-jin smiles affectionately in her direction, long after she has left.

Depressed over her present situation with Tae-san, Yi-soo drinks herself silly, but conscious enough to recognize Do-jin who happens to drop by to see Jung-rok. Later, Do-jin takes the now completely inebriated Yi-soo to a hotel, and there he lets her sleep off the effect of alcohol for exactly “five hours and 10 minutes.” When she finally awakens in the episode 4, time 18:15, she immediately thinks the worst. He informs her that he’s sorry to dash her high hope, but he doesn’t participate in any activity without the other party’s consent, since he values “reaction” from the other participant. In essence, he’s saying to her that he’s an accomplished and sensitive lover. But his suggestive facial expression is wasted on Yi-soo, because she doesn’t seem to understand the English word as evidenced by her response, “Re-, what?”

24. Shoe Monger

Yi-soo later receives $1,300 shoes from Do-jin, which she brings to Do-jin’s place to return them in the episode 4, time 32:34. She tells him that she cannot accept anything greater than $100 if he so wants to ingratiate himself with her. She then makes a verbal faux pas by telling him that something like this, motioning to the shoes, is called, “money ji-ral (지랄)*.” *(Ji-ral, while it’s not formally a profanity, it’s a pretty harsh word. It means acting like a crazy person or having a crazy weird fits. She accused him of spending his money like a crazy person, but not in a very nice way. I would be angry, too.)

Clearly hurt by her insensitive remark, his expression changes, and he retaliates like a teenager. He tells her that he would’ve prefer to refer to it as, “a consumable or purchasable good, otherwise known as a present,” but if she doesn’t like it, he’ll give it to Eun-ji, who comes out of his bedroom looking as if she has just awakened and who, as he painstakingly explains to Yi-soo, is not in any way, shape, or form related to him. Sounding angry, Yi-soo demands know if this is a proper attitude for someone who professes to jjak-love her. He asks her if he’s in jjak-love, he shouldn’t sleep with anyone else? How can you even ask me that, she replies. Do-jin reminds her that she loves someone else and thus she shouldn’t expect him to “die waiting for love.”

Walking back, Yi-soo looks much more distraught than someone who has just gotten rid of a pest. In fact, she has a very restless sleep that night, ruminating over what he said. However much of a jerk he may be, Do-jin has already become more of a fixture her heart, whether she wants to admit it or not.

Continue reading >>> Page 5: A Chinese spoon

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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