Gentlemen’s Dignity

33. Milestones

There’s an echo in Yi-soo’s heart in the episode 7, time 30:40, when she reminisces about what happened with the red dress “the size of her palm.” Telling curious Mae Ah-ri that “kids don’t have to know,” she has a smile on her face as she fondly remembers Do-jin in that sweaty bathroom saying to Tae-san, “You know I love you, right?” knowing fully that he’s confessing his love to her.

But everything changes when her self-absorbed and insensitive housemate, Sa-ra, tells her that not only does she know about her love for Tae-san, she has also blabber-mouthed it to Tae-san, because she was curious about his reaction.

After much soul-searching, she must have reasoned that since Tae-san knows about her secret, there really is no reason for her to see Do-jin since he no longer holds the blackmail card and tells him as much to his face. In the episode 7, time 52:05, she tells him that from now on, she hopes not to run into him, either. Do-jin doesn’t even flinch, “I don’t remember asking for your opinion.” But when she gives him an excuse that she plans to meet younger men from now on and appears to be resolute in her decision not to see him anymore, he becomes fidgety and speechless perhaps for the first time in his life.

It’s a funny scene in the episode 7, time 53:32, when both Do-jin and Yoon look contemplative and belligerent about younger men in general. Yoon has just happened to witness Mae Ah-ri conversing with Collin, Do-jin’s hitherto unknown son, about him buying her a dinner.

We finally get to meet the four men’s first love, Kim Eun-yi, in the episode 8, time 02:45. I don’t think it was a coincidence that she sits across from Do-jin on that fateful first meeting and that Eun-yi and Do-jin exchange meaningful looks and smiles with each other. Yes, their looks definitely have a twinkle named Collin written all over it.

In the episode 8, time 14:15, spurred on by Sa-ra’s selfish action, Yi-soo plans a life without Sa-ra as a housemate and turns a critical corner in her attempt to drive Tae-san from her heart when she throws the baseball gloves she intended to give him into the salvation chute.

34. My First Most Favorite Scene

In the episode 8, time 29:36, we see Suh Yi-soo serenading both Do-jin and Lee Jung-rok in a hotel room. Time warp? Full moon? Alcohol? Yes, the third time is usually charm for me as well.

Mae Ah-ri’s tear-fest for Yoon’s birthday party leads her to stay away from her brother, and Yi-soo’s haven away from Sa-ra land both of them in jjim-jil-bang, but Mae Ah-ri’s texting to Do-jin using Yi-soo’s cell phone brings Do-jin and Jung-rok, but not Yoon as Mae Ah-ri had hoped, to their rescue. When the two men’s attempts to lure each woman to their own places fail, they take the women to the residence hotel. While Mae Ah-ri pines away in the bedroom, obviously drunk Yi-soo using a lollipop as a mike sings to both men in the living room.

Jung-rok makes a dry observation, “So our regular customer’s favorite vice* when drunk is singing, huh? And she’s so bad at it, too.” *(Joo-sa (주사) means bad habit that comes out when drunk. It also means a needle)

Yi-soo defends her honor, “That’s because I’m not drunk enough yet. See? The bottle’s empty.” She smiles contently, “This wine… tastes good.” Smiling, but sarcastically Do-jin chimes in, “What wouldn’t (taste good to you)?” She gives him the look, but he’s too busy pouring the wine for her to notice the look.

Jung-rok then tells her that Do-jin had designed the label on the bottle. “Oh, really?” She’s impressed. Do-jin uncharacteristically displays modesty, “Why did you go and say something like that for?” With a serious tone, Jung-rok deadpans, “I had to, so that Yi-soo will never drink it again. The sales plummeted since you’ve designed it.”

She turns to Do-jin, reproachingly, “Oooh, (you did that) to this tasty wine?” Do-jin corrects him, “Since I did the label, the sales soared, you know. (You don’t know what you’re saying, because) you’re too sleepy right now. Go to sleep.” Compliant Jung-rok, “Oh, I’m sleepy? Then I have to go to sleep. But why are you anxious for me to sleep?” That makes Yi-soo uncomfortable, and she tells them that she’ll sleep also once she finishes the glass. Jung-rok doesn’t miss the silent plea Do-jin sends him to scram.

Do-jin voices his dissent to her, “Then whom do I drink with? When you were plastered, I’ve picked you up, held you, and piggy backed you all the way over here…” Embarrassed, Yi-soo admonishes him, “Kim Do-jin!” Enlightened Jung-rok, “I knew it, I knew it. I suspected this wasn’t the first time when she knew the hotel floor and the room number.” Eyeing them slyly, “You guys are dating?” Shyly she tells him, no, and unexpectedly, Jung-rok appears to understand her plight, “Ah, I see. You just sleep with him.” “Yes.” Then realizing what he has just said, “Oh, no, it’s not that…”

Do-jin can’t resist, “She wants to be virtuous, but her brain can’t catch up with her heart.” She gives him an evil eye, and at that moment, a call takes Jung-rok to the bedroom. Do-jin picks up his glass and tells Yi-soo, “Drink. Although it would be even better if you became tipsy.” Still miffed, she tells him off while getting up, “You – hiccup – got to be joking.”

Pulling her down by her wrist, he pouts placatingly, “Where are you going? You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this moment.” She tries to shake his hold on her, but he takes the opportunity to hold her hand.

Sudden and more intimate physical contact, not to mention the background romantic music, changes the mood, and they just look at each other’s eyes. He breaks the silence, “Did you meet any younger guys, yet?”

Stammering a bit, “I’ve only come to a decision that it would be nice if they were 3 or 4 years younger.”
Sounding somewhat subdued. “I see. Since you’re an expert (in jjak-love), tell me.”
Intrigued, “What?”
“I’m asking you since this is my first experience at jjak-love, and I have no one else to consult with. After 3 months of jjak-love, does everyone get angry frequently?”
Haltingly, “Why do you get angry?”
“Why don’t you like me?”

The simple, direct, and heartfelt question lingers in her heart, and she looks at him searchingly. They just look at each other for a long time, and Do-jin abruptly asks her, “I’m good-looking, no?” Automatically, she replies, “Yes.” That takes him by surprise, and smiling slowly, he becomes reflective, “This woman, once won over, might not take long at all.” To get her to bed with him.

Calmly, she adds modifying adjectives, “Even though he’s not my style.”
Just as calmly, “(In this world) there is such thing as irresistible taste.”
Smiling fondly, “I like that fact that you are self-assured.”
Looking more hopeful, “Those are very encouraging words.”

She doesn’t deny the implication, and he becomes bolder, “Why don’t you rely on emotions rather than reasons? Or maybe even on booze.” She smiles faintly at that and takes her eyes off him momentarily, but she looks up like a deer caught on headlight when she feels his hand on her face. He caresses her cheek softly with his fingers, “Or you can rely on me.”

His eyes fixated on her non-protesting eyes, he slowly closes the gap between them, both fully aware that he intends to kiss her. She calmly awaits him, but as soon as she hears the door opening sound, she drops to the floor like a cheesy murder victim and pretends to sleep.

Seeing Jung-rok coming out of the bedroom, Do-jin can’t help but smile. Jung-rok interrupts his phone call to ask him, “She’s sleeping?” “Yes, she’s completely out.”

Jung-rok gives him a fatherly advice, “Take her inside.” To the bedroom.
“I should, right? You sleep on the sofa, we’re going to use the bedroom.”
“Okay.” Jung-rok goes back to talking, and Do-jin goes to Yi-soo to pick her up.

Hearing all this, Yi-soo grimaces and shakes her head no, but she has no choice but to allow Do-jin to take her into the bedroom. Once inside and the door closed, she tells him not so nicely to let her down.

Innocently, “But I haven’t reached the bed yet.”
Making a face, “Put me down before I lose my patience.”
Sighing like a long-suffering hubby, “Okay.”

He then walks to the bed and literally throws her down on it. She gets up and looks at him angrily. Innocently he replies, “You told me to let you down.”

“How can you bring me in here?”
“Because this is where I usually stay.”
“But he’s going to mistakenly think we’re sleeping together.”
Nonchalantly, “If you don’t want him to be mistaken, then you can sleep with me for real.”
Frustrated, “Ah, really. You go out.”
Suavely, “I can’t sleep on the sofa.”
Becoming more frustrated, “Then pick me up again.”

She puts up her arms to be picked up, but reflexively he jumps back. Irritated, she explains in a hushed voice, “Pick me up and put me in Mae Ah-ri’s room. It’s not like I can go out and pretend I’m awake now. Then he’ll know that I was just pretending before.” Smiling slyly, “I can’t pick you up twice. How much do you weigh anyway?”

While she begs him like a petulant child to pick her up, he’s busy texting on his cell phone. She tries a different approach, “What if Mae Ah-ri wakes up in this ruckus?” Still texting, he shrugs his shoulder jovially. Exasperated at his nonchalance, she starts to dishevel her hair partially over her face to look like she had just got up. Do-jin looks up from texting and looks at her like she has lost all her marbles. She gives him an evil eye through her unkempt hair and walks out of the room. Do-jin hears her telling Jung-rok that she had just got up, and he can’t help but smile.

Why did I like this scene so much? First, because this is the first time I remember Do-jin being really earnest and even supplicatory. He wears his heart on his sleeve when he asks her why she doesn’t like him. Another reason why I like this scene is because for the second time, Yi-soo didn’t turn away when Do-jin tried to kiss her. It shows that in her heart, unbeknownst to her brain, she loves him already. And third, I’m beginning to feel their chemistry.

In the episode 8, time 39:20, after she finished charging her cell phone Yi-soo finds out to whom Do-jin was texting that night: Tae-san, I’m right now in the same bedroom with the teacher Suh, and she is just too pretty…

Yi-soo remembers Do-jin texting someone as she was begging him to carry her out of the bedroom. She swipes to the next message: But she insists that I carry her out? If I hold her, I’ll be tempted to lay her down, what should I do?

She smiles fondly, now realizing the real reason why he wouldn’t pick her up.

35. The Korean Bionic Woman

It’s hard not to like Mae Ah-ri in the episode 8, time 37:34. Do-jin, having just witnessed Yoon in his most domestic self, declares to Jung-rok in the Mango café, “Let’s get Yooni a date.”

Motioning to Mae Ah-ri working behind him, Jung-rok tries to muzzle him, “Hey! Shush. She’s like a Sommers.*” *(He’s referring to the Bionic Woman character, Jaime Sommers, played by Lindsay Wagner, who could hear conversations from a distance) Mae Ah-ri turns around, dripping with sarcasm, “I can hear everything, you know.” Resignedly, Jung-rok tells Do-jin, “She said she heard everything, so go ahead.”

“Yooni’s cooking again, wearing an apron and all. He even bought a china set. He’s frustrated. Or he could be harboring feelings for me. Let’s get him a date.”

While Jung-rok contemplates, simmering Mae Ah-ri almost slams the Do-jin’s order on the counter, “Since I have your mango coconut ready, you can stop all this non-sense talk.” Eyeing the drink, Do-jin asks her, “You didn’t spit in the drink, did you?” Brightening, she reaches for the drink, “Do I still have a chance?” To spit.

“Hey!” Do-jin grabs the drink from her, and Jung-rok gives him a sage advice, “Don’t you know better than to pick on her?” Stroking her hair from behind, “I’m telling you, she’s a little Park Min-sook.” His scary and rich wife.

Yi-soo doesn’t answer Do-jin’s phone calls, and distraught Do-jin texts her using Tae-san’s name in the episode 8, time 01:03:22, Tae-san, Teacher Suh is not answering my phone calls? I shouldn’t argue about why she’s not answering my calls, right? It’s a little… disheartening.* This unrequited love… *(Suh-rup-da (서럽다) – means sad, but has connotation of being sad unfairly.)

36. Lies, Sandwiches, and Secret Folder

Feeling sorry for Do-jin for being stuck with a woman who’s forever going to be comparing him to “better looking” Tae-san himself, he lets Do-jin put in a home bar when Suh Yi-soo is home all alone. Do-jin tells annoyed Yi-soo that it’ll take a week to get the job done, when Tae-san estimated less than a day. Determined to trim the days she has to see him to 3 days, she offers to help in the episode 9, time 05:10. While enduring his cheesy flirtations, she finds out that he gave up something for her.

When Do-jin tells her that Tae-san isn’t capable of even imagining that home-bar may not prevent Sa-ra from inviting other men to drink in her house, Yi-soo sarcastically tells Do-jin, “Of course, unless it’s someone who always has women in his house.”

Grinning slightly, Do-jin tells her, “I haven’t done it ever since someone told me not to.”
Surprised, but not showing it, “You look wistful, so why don’t you go back to your old ways?”
Looking amused, “That won’t do, because that’s the only thread of leeway she has given me.” Meaning he knows she likes her guy that way, and so far that’s the only ray of hope or a crack of opening to her heart.

Now unable to hide her surprise, she becomes speechless. He tells her that he’s starved, and she suggests getting sandwiches.

A little later, in time 11:44, when she comes back home with sandwiches, Yi-soo finds Do-jin lying on the sofa, lights dimmed, and apparently sleeping. She tiptoes toward him and sits on the coffee table just observing him. Suddenly, with his eyes still closed, he asks her, “Is it okay to open my eyes?” Feeling self-conscious, she stammers, “Okay.” He opens his eyes and turns to look at her, “Did you get the sandwiches?”

“They look tasty?”
With the same tone and delivery, “Can’t you like me a little?”

The question takes her by surprise, not only because of the content and the sincerity behind it, but also because she feels his melancholy. They look at each other for a long time, and unable to cope with his sad eyes, she gets up, but he grabs her wrist, “Did you try the laptop I’ve given you?”

Smiling, “Why not?”
“Just because…” Then it occurs to her, “Why? Is there something you want me to look at?”

He suddenly gets up and pulls her onto the sofa so that she’s lying down where he was, “If you turn on the laptop, my bedroom looks like this.” Motioning to her body, “With better attire than what you’re wearing now, of course.”

She tells him at some point, he’ll get corporal punishment from her if this keeps up. He jokes about her having a peculiar aggressive taste (as in sadomasochism), “That’s good, because I put in a little folder titled, Kim Do-jin’s secret private life.”

“I didn’t see anything like that.”
“That means you’ve at least looked at it. Suh Yi-soo, a little fibber. How many pseudonyms do you have, anyway?”

When he urges her to take a look at the folder again, she tells him she has no interest in such a thing. He tells her it might take her to a (new and) different world. He asks her if he can take the sandwich, and she asks him, “You’re leaving?” Sensing (or imagining) her disappointment, he brightens, “Ah! Does that mean I can sleep over?” Frowning, she barks at him to leave.

37. Epiphany

A pivotal event occurs in the episode 9, time 36:20, when despite Sa-ra calling Yi-soo not to show up in Jung-rok’s bar, Yi-soo sees this as an opportunity to decisively tell everyone that she once liked Tae-san, but not anymore. But the only problem is that Yi-soo decides to show up wearing the red high heels Do-jin asked her to wear when she finally comes to him.

From Do-jin’s perspective, however good her intentions were, she ends up not only using him but also in the process, cheapens his feelings for her by not being genuine and honest about her feelings for him. Do-jin reminds her that while she thought of Sa-ra and Tae-san’s emotional welfare, she did not think of the possibility that he might get hurt, “Of course, because I’m sure I wasn’t important enough for you to care about me.”

He tells her that he still loves her, but not to the degree where she can walk all over him without concern for his welfare. And he tells her that they should try to avoid each other if at all possible.

He has essentially told her that she is no longer the object of his unrequited love, and Yi-soo’s reeling in shock the more she thinks about the surprised turn of events. In the episode 9, time 45:36, she locks herself in the bathroom and mentally plays back all the touching and sweet things that he has done for her, and she realizes just how much he had really loved her. She took him for granted when he was pursuing her, when she had him eating out her hand, but she thinks gradually, without becoming consciously aware of it, she must have been developing feelings for him as well. Because now that he’s no longer there fawning over her, now that he’s made it clear to her that he will actively try to stay away from her, the pain of not being able to see him smiling at her becomes too much for her to bear. She bursts out crying, because she didn’t realize just how much he meant to her, and she comes to a painful conclusion that she has perhaps loved him just as much as he did for some time now.

Now that Yi-soo has realized her own feelings about Do-jin, she pursues after him reminiscent of Do-jin’s once one-track minded pursuit of her. The fact that she stood in front of his office for hours waiting for him doesn’t go unnoticed by Do-jin in the episode 9, time 53:07. In fact, he seems more pained by that than Yi-soo. But that doesn’t stop him from acting like a total jerk later, telling her not to be conniving or scheming unless it’s to sleep with him.

Confronting Do-jin again, Yi-soo realizes that he’s not going to forgive her, so she makes up her mind to forget him. When she returns home after putting the red shoes in the trash, she finds Sa-ra laughing at her laptop’s wallpaper which has her bikini-clad picture lying on Do-jin’s bed.

In her subsequent attempt to change the wallpaper in the episode 10, time 27:40, however, she finds his secret personal folder under the same directory. In this folder, she hears his most private thoughts and his real feelings for her, which cause her to renew the chase for Do-jin. She also remembers to retrieve the red shoes.

Yi-soo buys Yoon a book as an excuse to infiltrate into Do-jin’s house, but she still receives a cold treatment from Do-jin. In the episode 10, time 58:58, she tries a more sentimental tactic. She sends him a text message: Tae-san… I’m right now in the same café that I first saw Do-jin. If he knows that I’m waiting… you think he’d come?

But Do-jin has left his cell phone at home, and Jung-rok, thinking that the message came erroneously to Do-jin, sends it to Tae-san. But at that very moment, Tae-san is too busy cavorting with Sa-ra in bed to notice the message.

While Yi-soo waits patiently for Do-jin in the café, and it has already become dark outside, at that moment, Do-jin’s busy walking his own memory lane by visiting the places he had met her in. His longing for her has slowly but surely dissipated the anger and the hurt he has felt.

He’s in this yearning state of mind when he returns to find out that Yi-soo has sent the message exactly one hour and 42 minutes ago. Angry at Jung-rok for not telling him earlier, he frantically rushes out of the house to the café.

In the café, Yi-soo is still waiting for him, but donning a brave smile, she looks as though she’s preparing herself for the worst.

When Do-jin finally gets there in the episode 10, time 01:02:44, Yi-soo’s nowhere to be found, and he sees only the remnants of her trail, the napkins and the half-filled drink on his favorite table by the window.

Nostalgically, he sits on the same seat occupied moments ago by Yi-soo, and he laments his lost chance at happiness. Wallowing in self-pity for what seems like an eternity, he happens to look out the window, and his face exhibits the surprise as he sees Yi-soo standing outside the window.

They look at each other’s eyes for a long time through the glass, and Do-jin finally smiles a bit. Yi-soo looks at him with a hope-filled smile, and Do-jin takes his ever-present pen and writes something on a napkin and places on the window for her to see: Today’s sun-yak* is Suh Yi-soo. *(Previous engagement. Remember one of the stickies of Yi-soo that Do-jin kept was, Hope the next sun-yak is with me.)

Moved by his words, she walks up to the window and kisses the spot on the window where he had put the napkin. The totally unexpected move on her part shocks him momentarily.

The scene continues onto the episode 11, time 09:30, where Do-jin gets up from his chair, walks outside, and stands in front of Yi-soo. They stare at each other for a while before he tells her, “I thought you had left.”

“I did, but I came back.”
“You certainly are a strange woman. You’ve really wanted to hear that I have nothing to say to you that much?”

Exasperated, “Hah! Isn’t it high time you stopped doing that? I really feel sorry for myself. I don’t know why I’ve waited all day pining* for a jerk** like you**?” **(She uses words that are curious mixtures of deference and contempt: dek (댁) is a formal and elevated way of saying you, but she calls him a jerk (놈 – nom) at the same time. Well, that’s a woman in love for you.) *(She actually says, liking, but pining sounds better in English. But that’s why he asks…)

Smiling widely, “You like me?”

“You don’t know that? Didn’t you just see me kiss… How soon we forget that you were chasing high and low for me. Yes, I like Kim Do-jin. I like him. It’s been a while since I felt something for you, but I was afraid you were going to tease me for liking another man so quickly, so I didn’t tell you. Even right now, I’m not asking you to accept my confession, so if you want to ignore…”

He interrupts her rambling the best way he knows how. He kisses her.

Momentarily stopping, he teases her, “That was a memorable confession.” Then he dives in for more in-depth endeavor to keep her quiet.

In the episode 11, time 12:10, Do-jin and Yi-soo stand in front of her house, just smiling at each other. He breaks the silence, but not his smug smile, “Since when did you like me?” She laughs embarrassingly, but his narcissism knows no boundary, “What is it about me that you like so much?”

Teasingly, “Because you’re flowery?”
“I didn’t know you were so objective. No, I don’t want something that the whole population already knows.”

Pretending to fret, then smiling fondly, she tries again, “When you told me that you were going to jjak-love me, I was touched; when I saw my picture in your wallet, my heart fluttered; when you asked me to like you, I wavered; and when you let me go in front of the restaurant, for the first time I was afraid… what do I do if he doesn’t like me.”

“I felt like that from the first time I saw you till yesterday… what do I do because this person doesn’t like me.” Then he pulls her toward him and hugs her.

Still hugging her, he tells her, “Well, we’ve kissed, we’ve embraced… what should we do next when we see each other?” Smiling and hugging him tighter, “Let’s hold hands together. We haven’t done that yet.” He gives his consent by hugging her tighter, and they both savor each other’s closeness until Mae Ah-ri interrupts them.

Continue reading >>> Page 7: Do-jin’s Love Manual

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.

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