Thursday, February 5, 2009

Boys Before Flowers EPISODE 10

Yi-jung finishes his saxophone performance to much applause, because I suppose the musical display was supposed to be riveting, or something. (I’m going with “something.”)

Su-pyo notices the pretty girl standing nearby and starts to hit on her, not recognizing Ga-eul at first. When he does, he says with an impressed look that she should’ve done herself up before (read: she’s no longer boring now that she’s hot). He proposes they leave together.

Now knowing him for the douchebag he is, Ga-eul doesn’t appreciate his attention, and is thankfully interrupted by Yi-jung’s arrival. He asks if the guy is bothering her and whether she knows him. Ga-eul takes her cue from Yi-jung’s small head shake, which indicates the role she is to play, and answers, “No, I don’t know him.”

Yi-jung offers his hand, announcing to everyone, “This young lady is the one who stole my heart… Miss Ga-eul, don’t trouble yourself anymore and come to me now.”

You know, delivering crap dialogue well is a skill. I was embarrassed for Kim Bum, but he somehow manages to say such cheesiness with a straight face.

Ga-eul takes his hand and they leave the club. Outside, Yi-jung puts his scarf around her neck, saying, “This may be an act, but we may as well act it out fully.”

Act or no, Ga-eul is touched by Yi-jung’s help. Thus on the day before Valentine’s Day, she busies herself gathering materials to make chocolate (to give to a guy). At Jan-di’s interested questioning, Ga-eul answers that she’ll give hers to someone to whom she feels thankful. Ga-eul asks whether Jan-di plans to make any chocolate for Jun-pyo, and hands her some of her supplies, urging her to. Jan-di considers, then swipes more of Ga-eul’s stash for her use.

(There’s a little detour that’s not explained yet, but I suppose it will figure in future episodes. Basically, an old man enters, grumpily orders jajangmyun — which isn’t on the menu — and insists until the ajusshi makes him a bowl anyway. The man says it sucks, pays with one fish, and leaves saying he’ll want fish stew next time. The girls taste their boss’s jajangmyun, which is surprisingly good. I’m guessing the old man is their boss’s father or teacher or somebody.)

Remembering Ga-eul’s explanation for giving her chocolate to someone she’s thankful to, Jan-di thinks of who she’s thankful to, and STUPID GIRL WHY ARE YOU THINKING OF JI-HOO?

But phew, Jan-di busies herself making her Valentine’s Day offering — and omona, they’re curly-haired Jun-pyo chocolates! Adorable. I like how a bunch of them have disgruntled expressions on their faces.

Jan-di calls Jun-pyo out (to a Shinhwa building) to give him the candies, trying to play off her nervousness when he opens the box. In the moment of speechlessness while he takes in the curly-haired faces, Jan-di mumbles, “I was going to give it to someone else, but these are the ones that got messed up…”

But you can tell he’s touched, and even refuses to let her eat one.

Then, the Valentine’s Day event begins, showing us why Jan-di picked this particular spot to meet Jun-pyo.

It’s a couples event with a cell phone as a prize; the challenge requires one half of the couple to lift the other for as long as possible. Jun-pyo approaches this task unenthusiastically, but Jan-di is eager to win. He grumbles that they can just buy phones, to which she says she’d prefer to win one with her own skill. (He retorts that this is using his skill.)

After AnyPop and JandiCall, they must really, really not want to give AnyCall any free exposure. (Btw, I am assuming her cell was a gift from Jun-pyo and therefore find it endearing that he labeled her phone “JandiCall.”)

But as this is sponsored by Shinhwa Group, Madam CEO happens to pass by, and recognizes one participant.

Wow, she does the death glare really, really well. That woman could curdle milk with one stare.

Spotting the angry Madam Kang, Jan-di shrinks back, letting go and falling from Jun-pyo’s back. Jun-pyo is forcibly ushered out of the building by his mother’s employees and sent home.

Meanwhile, Ga-eul waits outside Yi-jung’s studio with her chocolates. Her girlish anticipation fizzles when he arrives with two older ladies on his arm. Seeing the bag she carries, one of the girls guesses they’re Valentine’s chocolates. They’re all very nice to her, but it’s almost worse that way; she tries, unsuccessfully, to turn down the invitation to step inside for some tea.

Ga-eul feels worse to see the huge mound of Valentine’s gifts on his table. It particularly stings when Yi-jung tells her casually, “Leave yours there, too.”

Upset, she excuses herself and leaves quickly. Yi-jung follows her out.

Reading the situation correctly, he says, gently but firmly, “Acting is just acting. It creates trouble if you misunderstand.” He takes the chocolates from her: “Until you meet the one you’re fated to be with, I’ll keep these. Thanks.” After he leaves, Ga-eul wipes away her tears.

Gloomily, Jan-di walks home carrying her bag of chocolates. She’s hunched in the middle of the sidewalk when Ji-hoo drives up on his motorcycle and announces, “Did you call for a driver?”

No, he’s not psychic — Jun-pyo called him as he was dragged home and asked Ji-hoo to pick Jan-di up. When Ji-hoo drops her off at home, he senses her troubled mood and asks her to call him if something happens, “although I hope you won’t have to.”

Madam Kang looks through a stack of photos showing Jun-pyo with Jan-di, and is apprised of Jan-di’s family situation. She’s displeased that Mr. Jung hadn’t reported this earlier. Perhaps covering up his sympathy for Jun-pyo, Mr. Jung answers that he’d assumed Jun-pyo was just picking on the girl.

Jun-pyo bursts in to face his mother and says, sternly, “Don’t mess with that girl.”

Madam Kang affects a blasé attitude (though she loses her temper at the end) as she says that a busy person in her position can’t be bothered with something so worthless.

Jun-pyo says, “Then we’re fine,” and leaves. Madam Kang instructs Mr. Jang, “Make preparations immediately.”

Jun-pyo drops by Ji-hoo’s house (and spots the chocolates on Ji-hoo’s table, which Jan-di left behind after he’d given her a ride home). Ji-hoo takes one and purposely bites into it, provoking Jun-pyo to grab at the other half and exclaim, “Don’t eat that!”

I like Ji-hoo best when he’s eating Jun-pyo’s things. It’s a pretty specific role to play, but he’s much funnier as the droll sidekick than a main character.

In any case, Jun-pyo has dropped by to talk things over with Ji-hoo. He worries, “Why am I so uneasy? It feels like something’s going to happen to her. What I’m most afraid of is that in the moment she comes into danger, I might not know it.”

Ji-hoo says reassuringly, “Don’t worry. You know Jan-di’s not weak. Don’t be afraid, either. You’ve always got us behind you.”

‘Bout freaking time we saw some genuine bonding scenes between these two. Better late than never?

Madam Kang drops in unexpectedly on the Geum family. In a tone of polite (though cold) civility, she sounds fairly reasonable, and Jan-di’s parents agree wholeheartedly, as she describes herself as a concerned mother who must make her son’s success a priority. Her tone is so mannered that it takes them a moment to register her words when she asks, “Do you know what’s most important in growing grass?”

Blankly, they wonder what she’s driving at, and she continues: “Cutting out the weeds. The most important thing is pulling the weeds, which do more harm than good, out by the roots.”

Mom asks, “Are you saying our Jan-di is a weed?” Madam Kang replies, “I’m glad it seems you understood.”

Although weeds are usually killed, Madam Kang proposes something else — and sets out a briefcase of money: 300 million won (approximately $220,000). She can provide more if they want, as this is all in the service of her son. Mr. Jung lays out a contract, which states that “I declare that I will give up all association with Gu Jun-pyo.”

The family is speechless. An insulted Mom grabs a bowl of salt and dumps it all over Madam Kang’s head. She demands, “Get out immediately!” Madam Kang warns, “You’ve made a huge mistake.”

The family applauds Mom for sticking to her principles, valuing their pride and honor over money. But Mom dashes those gallant images by insisting that no, money is the most important thing in the world — screw pride!

She explains that if Jan-di eventually marries Jun-pyo, all of Shinhwa Group becomes hers too — ergo 300 million won is way too small a number with which to be bought off. Glad to know Mom’s got a high selling point.

At school, Jan-di emerges from another stress-relieving swim, half-expecting to see Ji-hoo waiting for her. She wanders until she comes to an auditorium, where Ji-hoo practices at the piano. He invites her to play along before taking her home.

She smiles at him warmly when he drops her off, prompting him to wonder, “Why are you looking at me like that?” Jan-di responds, “It’s curious. Whenever my heart sounds the emergency alarm, you always appear.” (You mean, whenever your heart seeks him out and then rings its alarm in his general vicinity, right? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she’s falling for Ji-hoo, but I do think turning to Ji-hoo instead of Jun-pyo is a hairy issue.)

Things take a turn for the worse when Jan-di’s parents receive word that their dry-cleaning business is being evicted. Their landlord’s son — who’s been unemployed for seven years — has been given a job by Shinhwa Group. Clearly Madam Kang is exercising some of her economic muscle. Furthermore, all the realtors have been warned not to rent to them.

Forced out of business, the Geum family rallies, taking to peddling food in the street to passing cars. Each family member sets out with gusto to sell coffee and snacks (Mom a little less so, shrinking back in embarrassment).

Madam Kang is aware of this latest development, and because she is sadistically eeeeevil, she orders her car to drive by. She’s dragged Jun-pyo along with her to make her point clear, then orders Mr. Jung to buy some rice snacks from the vendors.

Unhappily though dutifully, Mr. Jung complies, and Jan-di bounds over to offer the snacks. She takes a moment to recognize who’s inside the car — at which point her smile fades, replaced by an uncomfortable laugh.

Jun-pyo’s eyes widen in shock and he starts to get out of the car, but his mother grabs his hand tightly to hold him back. Jan-di watches the car pull away, trying to tamp down her hurt.

Mom maintains her grip on Jun-pyo’s hand, overriding Jun-pyo’s order for the driver to stop the car.

Does anyone else get creepy Manchurian Candidate vibes from Mama Kang here? I wasn’t expecting a Freudian/Oedipal element to present itself in this drama, but [smallvoice] I kind of like it [/smallvoice]. (Or is it reverse Oedipal, since it’s mother-to-son, instead of the other way around?) It makes her seem even creepier and more vindictive.

But Jun-pyo shakes off his mother’s hand and yells at the driver to stop. Leaving his mother glowering, Jun-pyo storms out of the car and walks straight for Jan-di, thinking, “Geum Jan-di, stay right there. Please just stay.”

Jan-di stands frozen in surprise, in the middle of the road, watching his approach.

(The scene is backlit horribly and the faces are almost impossible to make out (hehe, make out), so I’m using promo shots instead…)

I really like this next scene, so I’m just going to translate all of it.

Jun-pyo: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Jan-di: “So you could you push money at me again and say, ‘How much do you need?’”
Jun-pyo: “If your dry-cleaning business is in trouble, you can set up another one. Why embarrass—”

He catches himself, but Jan-di knows what he meant.

Jan-di: “Yeah. I — no — my family probably is embarrassing. But I’m not sorry for any of it.”
Jun-pyo: “What I mean…”
Jan-di: “Us dating and my family circumstances are different things. Plus, you can’t do everything for me your way just because you’re my boyfriend.”
Jun-pyo: “Then what should I do? Should I just watch as your whole family sells snacks on the street?”
Jan-di: “Yeah. Just watch.”
Jun-pyo: “What?”
Jan-di: “Don’t do anything and just watch, if you want to be my boyfriend.”
Jun-pyo: “Oi, Dry Cleaner.”
Jan-di: “It’s been a long time since you’ve called me that. But you know, I’m not a dry cleaner’s daughter anymore.”

Jan-di says the last bit with a bit of a smile, but Jun-pyo addresses her solemnly.

Jun-pyo: “Geum Jan-di. I’m not saying this to scare you, and there’s no reason for you to be afraid. Just know this. My witch of a mother is someone who’s capable of doing anything, at any time.”
Jan-di: “It seemed like it.”
Jun-pyo: “Promise me.”
Jan-di: “Promise what?”
Jun-pyo: “If something happens, you’ll tell me right away.”
Jan-di (nodding): “Okay.”
Jun-pyo: “One more thing. No matter what happens, you won’t run away from me.”

At that, Jan-di responds in a joking tone:

Jan-di: “Now that, I can’t promise.”
Jun-pyo: “What?”
Jan-di: “You know, I’ve wanted to run away a few times, but it was because of you, not your mother.”
Jun-pyo: “Hey!”
Jan-di: “I’ll promise. Whatever happens, your mother won’t be a reason for that.”
Jun-pyo: “It’s a good thing you’re Geum Jan-di.”
Jan-di: “Why?”
Jun-pyo: “I’m really glad that the commoner gangster Geum Jan-di is my girlfriend.”

Now his mood lightens: “That promise really puts my mind at ease.”

Jan-di offers Jun-pyo a can of coffee, which he takes. He grabs her hand and they walk off together. Later, at home, Jun-pyo takes out the coffee and stares at it, lost in thought.

(And now, I totally have this image in my mind of some desk drawer or cabinet in Jun-pyo’s room which houses a rotting apple, a half-eaten piece of chocolate, and a can of coffee.)

Jan-di hustles in search of another part-time job, which is the only reason she entertains an idea suggested by a sleazy-looking restaurant customer who asks how old she is. He’s disappointed to hear that she’s only in high school (therefore a minor), because he has a business that often hires (university-age) students, and he really likes her look.

After some hesitation, Jan-di asks how much he pays, and accepts his card.

More trouble awaits the Geum family when a group of thugs arrives at the curb where Jan-di’s parents have set up their makeshift snack stand.

They ask threateningly, “Who said you could operate here?” and proceed to overturn the stand and destroy all their goods.

Like I said, I much prefer Ji-hoo as the dryly amusing sidekick, which is a role he again fills, this time with Yi-jung. He asks to borrow Yi-jung’s phone, then slyly dials a number. When a female voice answers, Ji-hoo hands the phone to a bemused Yi-jung.

Recognizing Ga-eul’s voice, Yi-jung shoots Ji-hoo a dirty look but is forced to answer calmly.

Afterward, Ji-hoo drops by the gas station where Jan-di has taken up another part-time job. She has a cheerful attitude, saying she’s fine and not overworking herself. When her nose starts bleeding, he points out that her body betrays her lie, and dabs at her nose with his handkerchief, saying, “It’s upsetting” (which suggests he’s the one troubled by her situation). He covers that by adding, “If I were Jun-pyo, I would be upset.”

She asks him not to tell Jun-pyo about this, because “I want to take care of my part, so I feel things are fair.” Ji-hoo sighs, “I envy Jun-pyo,” then leaves.

Jan-di feels even more burdened when she learns that her brother, who is teased by schoolmates, has been skipping lunch at school to save money. Jan-di asks why he didn’t tell her, but he feels bad for all the work she’s been doing — she delivers newspapers and milk in the morning, works at the restaurant in the afternoon, and the gas station at night.

That prompts her to take out the business card from the sleazy customer for a business called Enjoy Productions. Finding the company’s “office,” Jan-di takes a look around the questionable setting.

Jan-di steps inside hesitantly, calling out, “Is anybody here?” And then the door slams shut behind her.


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