Today’s starter story: When I was about 4, my parents took me to Disneyland for the day. It didn’t cost a whole paycheck to do that back then! A new ride had just opened–The Matterhorn Bobsleds. From my upstairs bedroom window in our home near the University in Fullerton, I could see the Matterhorn in the sky on a clear day, which is not even remotely possible now! We stood in line with our paper “E” tickets in hand, and got on the ride. As we went up the first big hill, I started to feel this wasn’t so much fun anymore. It was dark and scary in this mountain. I heard other people screaming too. I asked my dad, “Can I get off now, I’m scared…” but of course, it was too late and I screamed non-stop for the duration of the ride. This story was told over and over by my parents as I grew up, always getting my parents a bunch of laughs at my expense. In a similar way, I’m now on the ride known as “My Love Eun Dong”, and there’s no getting off this one either! I hope there won’t be too much screaming…but that’s why I have a blog now!
One of the things that I love about melodramas is the unique ways the writer pulls at my heart. Is it a moment when ED/JE begins to remember the voice on the recordings as the one from her fractured memory? Personally, JJM’s voice is so deep and soothing to Shamrockmom’s ears, it would be hard to forget! Perhaps it’s the file with their special song. Will that be the thing to bring the memory back? I hold my breath every time, waiting for the character’s reaction.
Side characters in a show can make it or break it. Our hero needs a good sidekick, and that is done quite capably by Dong Gyu. This guy puts up with his boss’ moodiness, never letting it ruin his day. He doesn’t take a ton of crap from him either–I do not like doormats, male or female. Yet he sincerely tells his boss that if he was a woman, he’d really think the boss was all that and a bag of chips! When DG sets up the dinner date between his boss and ED–well, I’m thinking that this guy needs a set of golden wings for being “Wingman of the Year”. And a substantial raise! Contrast that with pseudo-buddy Hyun Bal, who is still a weak-willed lackey; the only change is his boss is now a woman! I was not one bit surprised when he was punched out a second time by a heated HS/EH after finding out he concealed ED’s identity. Considering HS/EH’s temper, he’s lucky to count himself among the living! Another minor side character I like–the slightly ditzy grandmother from ED’s class who lost the love letter HY/EH wrote years ago. I think it’s great that she recognizes ED right away. I love it when older people are portrayed in dramas as wise without being righteously condescending or pushy.
Another thing I’m enjoying is the portrayal of HS/EH as a perfect “top star” to the outside world, yet we viewers see his vulnerable and frail sides. He comes on strong to ED, asking her for the movie date, then looks like he’s about to die from the stress as he goes around the corner from the classroom! HS/EH grouches over not having the porridge he wants when DG knows he needs hangover soup, yet I get the feeling he is secretly glad his secretary cares for him and brings him food. He puts his makeup lady on the hot seat, asking if she looks at him “as a man” which is one of the most loaded phrases in Korean I can think of, then tells her to forget the whole thing! We find out from Seo Ryeong that HS/EH doesn’t go to clubs–then we see him do normal things like visit his widowed sister and his niece. If I knew this character in RL, I’d call him a ‘prickly pear’–my descriptor for someone tough on the outside, but sweet and mushy on the inside! The word “tsundere” also comes to mind.
I also want to comment here on HS/EH’s patience in waiting for ED, and how calmly the writer is handling all of the character’s dating lives. @seungshinl documented in detail the overnight (looks more like it should have been a 3 day weekend) trip to Namhae on pg.126 Soompi forums. The odds of Ra Il being HS/EH’s kid–probably 100%. The moment HS/EH mentions the word “fiancee” at the press conference, I have no doubt they promised to marry each other that weekend in Namhae, and ‘sealed the deal’. We also find out this nugget: HS/EH’s manager/wingman DG is quite the player, having dated (aka slept with) 10 girls! Yet HS/EH doesn’t shame him or make fun of him over it. Likewise, DG doesn’t hassle his boss over waiting 10 years for ED. It’s all rather matter of fact. Same with HS/EH turning down SR’s sleepover offer. No drama-rama, just “No, thank you ma’am.” The scene where SR offers her “boy toy” cash was also toned down. (I gotta wonder if he likes her or it’s “just a job”) It keeps the emphasis on the romance, and turns down the makjang issues of disapproval and shame. I find that quite refreshing.
The way the show handles asking HS/EH the obvious question of, “What if she’s already married?” ties into this as well. ED was his fiancee. If there is a child that they share, that adds even more credibility to the claim. For his part, HS/EH navigates this minefield well. He will wait for her. It makes him look like the bigger man here. I wonder if JH is gonna have a “miracle” recovery and start walking. He better learn to run, because when HS/EH finds out he was deceiving ED about their marriage, I don’t think he will even get three steps toward the door from hot tempered HS/EH!
A couple of final observations–
One thing that makes me know I’m watching the show I’m supposed to is if I notice what I call “the weave” with RL. After the scene about Ra Il and him not fitting into Korean elementary school, I recalled a conversation with my daughter’s former 7th grade teacher this past week. He teaches at a large private Christian High School locally, and he told me the school’s enrollment is now increasing—because there has been a large influx of Korean middle and high school kids coming here on student visas, and staying with “guardians” who run what is basically a boarding house for these kids. 10 kids to a 3-4 bedroom house, one house for the boys, one house for the girls, one adult guardian running the show! Whoa. These kids come over here at age 11 or 12, and stay through college. He told me the school is going to be predominantly Korean in a year or two. There were maybe 2 local Korean families who went there when my daughter was there 9 years ago. Even though that high school is well known locally for its rigorous curriculum, it’s considered pretty easy-peasy by Korean standards, and the kids get into the college of their choice here in the US, usually with a full-ride scholarship. The tuition at that private HS currently runs over $13,000 USD a year–plus the kids living expenses. (side note–my daughter had a partial scholarship from our church–I could have never paid full tuition there, even though it was substantially less 9 years ago) That’s some major money the parents are shelling out. I was blown away because there’s not even a blood relative here for these kids–unlike the ones at the day camp in Fullerton from last summer my daughter watched over. The 7th grade teacher said he believes the entire school system over there is a full blown disaster (he used stronger language, lol) and the parents know it. That’s why they send their kids 7000 miles away at what Shamrockmom considers a “tender age” to go to school here in the US. How tough is that? Shamrockmom’s heart breaks for teens, who have a hard enough time navigating the 12-18 age bracket when everything else is stable, let alone being thousands of miles from home and family. How do these kids do it? Poor Ra Il is gonna be in it up to his neck–he’s already a misfit at school, and now his world is about to blow up in his face when he finds out what the guy he thought was his father and the grandparents have done. I already feel bad for him too.
I also was channel-surfing this week while home sick with a cold, and came upon a very interesting KBS-World documentary series blandly titled, “Korean Cuisine and Dining” which looked at first glance like just another food-porn show. But since it was hosted by the actor who played the Grandfather in “Glorious Day”, and it was subbed, I decided to give it a look. Choi Bul Am is amazing. He’s in his mid-to-late 70’s, and he’s hiking around the countryside of Korea like a dude half his age. This was much more of a documentary on the rapidly vanishing rural lifestyle in modern-day Korea, and a look at poverty and mistreatment of women in the past than a food-porn show, although there were plenty of interesting dishes with locally sourced ingredients. It was mind-blowing for me to watch. Sadly, the episodes are not up on the KBS World YouTube channel, although they should be. What does this have to do with “My Love Eun Dong”? One of the segments of the show was a literacy class for elders–just like the one ED taught. In fact, it looked almost exactly the same! I was blown away at how many elders especially in the rural areas don’t know how to read or write–especially the women, who were just expected to clean, cook and have babies. Their parents thought there was no need for them to be literate. The race is on now to find out the information on how to make these regional dishes before that generation passes, and the info is lost forever because no one wrote anything down. (side note–I bless my father’s OCD ancestors, who meticulously wrote and kept accurate genealogies over 200+ years. Literacy is not overrated!). My own daughter just got back from a trip to Guatemala where she did the same thing–helped the 50 and over ladies to write their names for the first time. It is hard for a modern person like me to wrap my mind around deliberately keeping a child from learning to read and write. Once again, the K-drama world intersects and weaves it way in and out of my RL, creating a learning experience I could never duplicate anywhere else.