Jun-pyo’s father passes away after collapsing in China, and Jun-pyo is named the managing director of Shinhwa Group. The big news (aside from Daddy Gu’s passing), is that Shinhwa is now entering plans for a “global project” — an international resort.
Episode 12 left off near the end of the school year; we pick up nearly half a year later. The F4 guys have graduated and moved on to university (not yet sure about Jun-pyo), while Jan-di has entered her final year of high school.
She has not heard from Jun-pyo since his departure, nor have the rest of F4 kept in steady contact. Ga-eul gripes that the guys (plural, but she means one in particular) must be busy having fun at college: “They’ve probably forgotten all about so-called friends and gone girl-crazy.”
The cranky old man comes back to the porridge shop; he’s been back several times since we last saw him, each time ordering something unusual. He eats with gusto, but refuses to give out compliments; instead, he gruffly says he only cleaned his plate to avoid wasting food.
Cranky Gramps treats Jan-di affectionately, saying that the more he looks, the more she resembles a lotus flower: “Do you know why the lotus flower blooms in mud?” He assigns that question as “homework” for his next visit. Her boss advises her to listen carefully, because Gramps isn’t the type to say something without reason.
I think it’s safe to say that Crankypants is indeed Ji-hoo’s grandfather (I was hesitant to believe it, because shouldn’t the girls have recognized their former president?) who has a long-standing connection to the restaurant boss, whom the girls call Master.
An old newspaper clipping shows the old man with
Master Master’s father, the former lauded head chef at the Blue House (the presidential residence). (Is his name — Bom Sung-chan — a reference to Kim Rae-won’s genius chef in Gourmet, perhaps?)
Jan-di tries to keep a happy face in the face of Jun-pyo’s lack of contact, with little success. Whenever his name crops up, Jan-di’s expression grows more glum. Her blues are not helped by the fact that her shoulder has been troubling her, although she shrugs it off as minor.
To make money, the family have taken to decorating dolls as a side job, but they soon rejoice when Dad succeeds in getting a job.
And then, Ji-hoo conducts an orchestra. I DON’T KNOW WHY. Must we have a Beethoven Virus reference to go with the Gourmet one? You, sir, are no Kang-mae. (Or Kim Myung-min.)
Perhaps this is to show Ji-hoo’s university pursuits, but a little explanation — or even context — would be nice. As he leaves rehearsal, he walks down the staircase as the cleaning lady stumbles. He catches her; it’s Jan-di’s mom, who is immediately awed at Ji-hoo’s beautiful face. As for this scene’s purpose? WHO KNOWS.
Ji-hoo finds Jan-di in the swimming pool, struggling with her bum shoulder. This isn’t the first time he’s noticed the pains, because he chides her for not going to the hospital. Jan-di she says that doctors told her everything was fine, but he doesn’t seem to believe her, and Jan-di looks worried.
Ji-hoo takes Jan-di to the auditorium, where he’s set up a videocamera. He sits her down to record a message to Jun-pyo, saying that although F4 has had a hard time getting in touch with Jun-pyo following his father’s funeral, he intends to get this message to him.
Ji-hoo presses “record” and steps aside. Jan-di starts hesitantly, but about halfway through she warms up and starts smiling.
Jan-di: “Gu Jun-pyo. Can you hear me? While you’ve been away, I’ve thought of you every day — but why do I only remember us fighting? Still, isn’t it odd? I only remember us fighting and getting mad all the time, but when I think about you, I laugh. Gu Jun-pyo, you’re okay, right? When are you going to come back and fight with me?”
Nearing the end, a tear falls, which she wipes away quickly as she wraps up her message.
I think Ji-hoo senses Jan-di’s sadness, so he relieves some of the tension by playing a tune on the piano. Jan-di joins him in playing the melody.
Ga-eul drops by to talk to Yi-jung, and while she has a legitimate reason — Jan-di and Jun-pyo’s relationship — I think she’s happy to have any excuse to see him. She admires Yi-jung as he works intently, and there are a LOT of slow-motion glamour shots — lordy, I love Kim Bum and all, but even I was like enough already.
Yi-jung, aware of her presence all along, teases her by asking, “Am I that cool?” He guesses her reason for coming and refers to Ga-eul’s belief that there’s one love out there for everyone: “Do you think Jun-pyo is the one love for Jan-di? Is he really her soulmate?” He thinks she’s just transferring her own beliefs onto Jan-di and says dismissively, “If it were me, I’d spend the time looking for my soulmate — although I’m not even sure stuff like that exists.”
Feeling insulted, Ga-eul starts to leave, thinking it was a mistake to come by. But she thinks twice and turns back, then points out that he believes in soulmates, too.
For the first time, Yi-jung’s unshakable calm is disturbed as she continues, “They say a strong denial is like an affirmation. I think I understand now. You do believe they exist — you’re afraid that they do. Why is that?”
This gets to him. He warns, “Don’t act like you know me so easily.” Ga-eul, however, has regained some of her confidence: “Today’s the first time I feel like you’re a real person. I’m glad I came after all.”
Ji-hoo drops by Jan-di’s work to take her somewhere. Cranky Gramps, who is inside, therefore spots Ji-hoo as they leave together, which I’m sure will be important later.
Ji-hoo knows that Jan-di hasn’t been to the doctor for her shoulder, and takes her to the hospital. The injury, which arose after she was hit with the chair to protect Jun-pyo, would have been more treatable had she come earlier (which she probably didn’t because of hospital fees). The doctor assures her that she’ll be able to recover and live a normal life — but her swimming days are over.
That’s pretty devastating news, and sends her into a (deeper) funk. Jan-di heads to the pool and explains to Ji-hoo, fighting tears:
Jan-di: “I know that I’m not pretty, I’m not smart, I’m not rich. But there was one thing I liked, that I could do better than other people. They say I have to quit — I can’t swim anymore. What do I do now?”
It’s not just that she’s lost her favorite sport, but in the midst of all her relationship uncertainty, this is the last thing that she had faith in, and now it’s like Jan-di’s been set adrift. She points out that Ji-hoo has his music, Yi-jung has his pottery, and Jun-pyo and Woo-bin will inherit their family’s companies. They all have their futures carved out for them, but she doesn’t know what to do now.
Ji-hoo promises to help: “Let’s figure it out together.”
At Ji-hoo’s place, Jan-di looks at photographs of his family, and Ji-hoo explains matter-of-factly that the car accident that killed his parents had been his fault. He had been playing in the backseat while his father drove. He was found in his parents’ arms; everyone said it was a miracle he survived. However, his grandfather never returned after that: “He must have hated the grandson who killed his own son.”
It was then that Seo-hyun had held his hand and told him to start over. He tells Jan-di, “This time I think it’s my turn” — to hold her hand and be her support, that is.
And so, Jan-di packs away her swimming things into a box. Bye-bye, Park Tae-hwan posters! You are now symbolically meaningless! Jan-di hesitates when she pulls out Jun-pyo’s gift from the auction (Park Tae-hwan’s goggles), but packs that in the box, too.
That doesn’t mean she’s giving up on Jun-pyo, though. Because the producers can’t think of a cleverer way to give Jan-di her moment of clarity, she happens to catch a television drama that her family is watching. The scene mirrors exactly her conversation with Ji-hoo at the airport (WTF?), when she urged him to not be cowardly and go after Seo-hyun. Hearing her own words spoken by someone else, Jan-di is reminded of her own advice not to give up, and to fight for love.
Well, if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain. She asks Master for an advance in salary to buy a plane ticket. Trouble is, he doesn’t have 2 million won to give her. On the other hand, they might be able to earn the amount by selling porridge lunchboxes.
Ga-eul and Jan-di are doing pretty miserably, but what would an episode of Boys Before Flowers be without F3 magically swooping to save the day? (I am getting very tired of this, by the way.)
Hearing of Jan-di’s intention to earn money to visit Jun-pyo, who’s overseeing the new project in Macau, F3 pitches in. Their mere presence brings droves of screaming girls. Day saved, plot device resolved.
Afterward, F3 present the girls with a little ceremony they’ve planned at the swimming pool — sending Jan-di off for one last swim.
They watch Jan-di take a lap in the pool, appropriately moved at the solemnity of the moment. Yi-jung sees Ga-eul crying and offers his handkerchief.
After her lap, the guys present Jan-di with a certificate and enact a short “retirement ceremony.” It’s really sweet, actually. I haven’t felt much kinship between F4 and Jan-di thus far, but this episode finally conveys a sense of affection between them, for which I’m grateful.
Yi-jung reminds her, “You know that an end signals a new beginning, right?” Woo-bin wishes her well in finding Jun-pyo in Macau and giving him what-for.
So Jan-di arrives in Macau, and heads to Jun-pyo’s resort hotel.
Unfortunately, she can’t actually get to him; he’s busy with work and surrounded by his entourage at all times. Jan-di (rather cutely) tries to explain in broken English and Korean that she’s here to see Jun-pyo, making hilarious hand gestures to depict his curly hair.
She fails. Kicked out of the hotel, Jan-di waits outside, trying to figure out her next move.
When a girl rushes out of the hotel to catch a tour bus and drops her tourist pamphlet, Jan-di picks it up and happily peruses it for sightseeing tips. (Stupid girl didn’t even research before her trip, or bring her own map?)
Note: I’m trying to keep my recaps generally spoiler-free, so I’ll just identify this girl as Ha Jae-kyung, which we learn soon enough anyway.
While Jan-di buys food from a vendor, a shifty-looking guy slips her wallet out of her bag. She doesn’t notice, but the thief is immediately stopped by another tourist — Jae-kyung — who twists his arm back and demands he return the wallet.
Breaking free, the pickpocket wildly brandishes a switchblade, then grabs Jan-di and holds the blade to her neck. Several black-suited bodyguards run in to provide backup — they’re obviously protecting Jae-kyung — but she tells them to stand back. A proficient fighter herself, she is confident in her ability to handle this.
The pickpocket proves belligerent, and since he doesn’t speak Korean, Jae-kyung addresses Jan-di in Korean and instructs her to bite the man on the count of three. Jan-di does and runs free, so the man attacks Jae-kyung, who counters with a swift kick.
The bodyguards take over, and the sound of approaching policemen sends everyone scattering.
Together, they walk along and chat; Jae-kyung talks in a very friendly way, using banmal like an old friend. She asks why Jan-di’s in Macau alone. Hearing her response (”To find somebody”), Jae-kyung guesses that it’s a boyfriend, saying, “I’m envious.”
As they split up, Jan-di asks for Jae-kyung’s name, but the girl doesn’t wait to get Jan-di’s.
Next, Jan-di figures out a way to sneak past the guards inside the hotel by joining a group of tourists. Inside, she marvels at the grandeur, wandering the hotel, the casino, and finally arriving at a bar.
It’s there that she spots Jun-pyo, but her cheeriness immediately takes a nosedive. For one thing, he’s laughing and smiling, looking totally happy. Two, he seems awfully cozy with the beautiful woman on his arm.
Third — and worst of all — when Jan-di bumps into another guest, Jun-pyo looks up and spots her. His smile fades and he stares for a moment — and then he turns away coldly, walking away without any hint of recognizing her.
Jan-di hurries to the bathroom to clean up the drink that spilled on her, trying to convince herself that he didn’t see her — and even if he did, she’s the odd one for showing up suddenly in Macau.
When Mr. Jung asks Jun-pyo about Jan-di, Jun-pyo disregards the question and turns the topic to business, making it clear that he’s not going to talk about her.
Now that Jan-di has no reason to be at Jun-pyo’s luxurious hotel, she heads to a seedier part of town, where a small boy offers to take her to a nice, cheap hotel. She’s hesitant to trust him, but he assures her in broken Korean that it’s fine, and she should follow him.
Honestly: How many times can Jan-di be stupid in one episode?
Not surprisingly, the boy grabs her luggage and starts running. Jan-di chases him down the street, fighting for her bag when she catches up to him. The boy calls Jan-di an idiot, and, well, he’s not wrong.
But it becomes clear that this was a part of a bigger setup; a gang of older punks appears, closing in around her menacingly. Frightened, she cowers against a wall, screaming, “Help me! Help me! Gu Jun-pyo!”
And because once was not enough, again we have F3 TO THE RESCUE. Are you kidding me? They literally come out of nowhere — must be that Jan-Distress Call at work again. If I were watching on TV, I would have thrown my remote at the wall. And then regretted it, but yes, still thrown it.
Ass-kicking ensues. F3 easily beats the thugs — but more interestingly, when Woo-bin addresses them, they recognize him, asking, “Prince Song?”
Prince Song must be one badass mofo because the gangsters suddenly grovel at Woo-bin’s feet and beg for forgiveness. He growls at them to leave, and they scatter. (Btw, apparently Woo-bin — whose father’s business is in construction — is insinuating that he has yakuza-like mob ties. LOL.)
Ji-hoo tells Jan-di reassuringly that they came because they’d figure she’d run into trouble. Well, at least they know her by now.
Like I said, I’m getting tired of F4 (or F3) rushing in at the last minute to save the day. I don’t mind giving them a moment to shine and be heroic, but when you create obstacles, then send in the all-powerful F4 guys to “fix” Jan-di’s troubles, well, it’s a cop-out. It’s a non-solution and I feel cheated.
Case in point: Isn’t it great how, now that Jan-di is with her rich boyfriend’s rich friends, she no longer has to worry about money? I guess in this context we should be glad she bothered to pay for her own plane ticket — symbolically, at least, that’s meaningful — but now she gets to relax in luxury.
The guys settle in at the hotel. Their attempt to contact Jun-pyo is rebuffed; he cites work and can’t make time to see them. Woo-bin comments that now it’s starting to feel real — that Jun-pyo isn’t the leader of F4 anymore, but the leader of Shinhwa Group.
The guys all sense something really wrong, and Yi-jung asks if Jan-di got a chance to meet Jun-pyo. She recalls his cold brush-off, then makes up the excuse that Jun-pyo looked so swamped, naturally she hasn’t had time to see him. Ji-hoo, however, picks up on her wording (how would she know if she didn’t see him?) and she hastily covers up her slip. Ji-hoo, as usual, is not convinced.
The four friends decide to stick around to try Jun-pyo again later, but in the meantime, they might as well go out and enjoy the sights. Jan-di attempts to have fun but can’t enjoy herself fully, lost in thoughts of Jun-pyo’s sudden coldness.
All the while, Jun-pyo is busy with work, conducting deals and meetings with cool efficiency.