After watching Episode 16 three times (livestream with @jadecloud’s recaps, the raw later with @seungshin’s dialogue translations and once fully subbed on Viki) I wish I could say I felt better about the ending. What I can say is that with each viewing, the depression and anger I feel becomes more profound. I think it’s because the ending makes no sense when you compare it to the first 14 episodes.
The only explanation I can give for the ending is a conspiracy theory. It could have been the adultery issue, but seriously, writer-nim could have worked around that. I wonder if it was a perception that JH deserved something because his love for RI was genuine, so the writer–or someone else–wanted a focus on that with an outcome that JH and RI would still have some sort of relationship. There is no possible way that JH is any kind of father figure or role model for RI, unless you consider a man who has suicidal tendencies, a proven pathological liar, and emotionally and physically abusive a role model for an impressionable child. I wouldn’t want my 10 year old child around that kind of guy at all. Heaven knows what kind of ridiculousness and selfish attitudes RI would pick up from JH.
Something evil behind the scenes had to have happened to make the writer change things around. A possible cause could be that there was pressure from the suits upstairs at JTBC. I might even buy that the suits themselves were under pressure from someone even higher up. But if that was the case–why not deal with it before production starts? It’s baffling. I had hopes that of all the networks in SK, JTBC would lead the way and do different projects; going outside the box a little bit. I erroneously thought that perhaps the fact that it is a cable network would make things different. I understand there is some level of political control over the other networks, but an independent cable network might have some freedom. Alas, that was not the case. Sigh. I was expecting too much. The villains in MLED escaped Karma once again, as they have in my other favorite shows like SLA and HITTG (at least in SLA, Karma was subtly hinted at. HITTG was a complete getaway for the baddies) Heaven forbid any outside the box thinking in DramaLand. But after 13.5 episodes of awesome, somebody at some level caved to pressure, and had the writer change things up, giving us the trainwreck ending.
I find it interesting that in MLED, the writer would have Top Star Eun Ho mock the writer he often worked with openly for breaking the couple up at the height of the relationship because she didn’t know about love, and then perpetrate the same idiocy on her own viewers. I have to wonder if the writer understands the concept of irony.
The comment section of DF and Viki, the Viki running comments, the Soompi forum, and the Baidu forum comments (Pg 354 of the Soompi thread) show that the viewers overwhelmingly disliked and/or hated the ending. The Baidu forum comments are particularly of interest to me since they are coming from people with a similar culture to Korea. Thankfully, it appears that common sense seems to cross all borders and all cultures. Except for the writers of K-dramas, that is. They must live in some kind of alternative universe where evil is always rewarded, forgiveness is cheap, logic is seen as failure, and how much you love someone is proven by the amount of torment and suffering you are expected to tolerate. (link to another one of Shamrockmom’s favorite family sing-a-long songs–lyrics at the bottom. We know all the words by heart and sing this at the top of our lungs when it comes on the radio.)
I also believe the “script change due to pressure” theory is why we see other fails in the last two episodes we didn’t see in the first 14.
*All screencaps from Tiveee.com*
Here’s a giant fail: Please explain to me how paralyzed JH gets out of his hospital bed and gets over to RI’s bed. Uh, did somebody forget he’s supposedly unable to walk? Total LoL (Lapse of Logic)
Here’s some more script/dialogue fails:
HS utters this banality to JH in the hospital.
I call total BS on that! Since when has HS left things up to fate? He’s worked his butt off to become a Top Star, he’s searched everywhere for the woman who was his fiancee, and finally written a book to find her. Seems to me he’s been trying to make his own luck by working hard!
BTW, someone in the DF comments called JH “Wheelchair Snake”! Lol! That’s daebak!
ED misses an opportunity to reinforce that JH is not RI’s father. Quit calling him Dad!!
Somebody please tell me why she can’t see him every day?? I don’t get it.
Why DG is denied the opportunity by writer-nim to give his boss one last piece of good advice, “Don’t do this–you’re gonna regret it.” is beyond me. DG was always the voice of reason for Top Star Eun Ho. I almost wished HB would have told HS while they were having drinks that he was crazy for thinking about bailing out to the Land Down Under, and punched him out for his own good. It might have saved us all some grief.
ED reads the letter from HS–and doesn’t do anything other than cry over it! Where is the brave and strong 12 year old ED who went to the police station and stood up in the courthouse to get her HS Oppa off the hook? Somebody find her before it’s too late! This weepy and weak version of ED would probably earn a fierce scolding from her 12 year old self!
Woman! Get up and grab your son and go find your Oppa! WTH! After HS has moved heaven and earth to try and find you, and you just let him go to Australia without a tearful scene at the Incheon Airport where you cry and beg him to stay with you and RI, and work everything out like a real man? Now that was a trope I was waiting for! (I wish I could remotely watch a few surveillance cameras at the Incheon Airport with the knowledge of the Korean language and a couple of cups of Vietnamese Coffee. I’d write melodramas until I collapsed from exhaustion! Endless raw material…just kidding. I’m sure it’s boring. Stuff like that doesn’t really happen in RL. But K-drama writers looove those tearful airport scenes!)
Here was another crazy statement by ED to JH. Has she lost her mind?!? Go back to Biology class!
#WTF. I can’t go on. It’s not good for my health. I’m done…
I can believe the actors were probably PO’d close to the level most of the viewers were when they found out the ending had been changed. There was a full script read-thru at the beginning, right? Knowing that JJM was burned previously over his character arc in “Empress Ki”, I can’t buy for a minute that he signed onto MLED with the full knowledge of the craptastic ending we viewers saw. It makes no sense. He’s too good an actor, and he certainly has many choices of TV/Movie/Stage projects. He’s got to be thinking–What do I have to do to get a decent part around here in DramaLand where I won’t get the shaft at the end? Same sort of thing with KSR. She hasn’t done a drama for years. She doesn’t have to. I’m sure she has all kinds of modeling and other interesting things to do on her calendar.
There is a marked change in the acting of KSR and JJM in the last two episodes, and the final one in particular. I could chalk it up to exhaustion and the summer heat, but it just seems like they lost heart. Compared to the intensity of the previous episodes, they seem to be sleepwalking. Don’t get me wrong; the acting is still pretty good, but….there is something missing. I think the intensity is gone. The staff were probably influenced by the attitude of the actors and gave up too. I can almost imagine a meeting where the PD and writer-nim informs everyone of the changes handed down from upstairs, there is grumbling and unhappiness, and then it was decided collectively to just plow through this ASAP–let’s do this in one take, let’s grab anything for anyone to wear, hairstyles, makeup–ah, whatever…and get this debacle over with, move on and fugeddaboudit.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that meeting–or for the one where the writer was pressured to change things up. Inquiring minds like mine want to know where to properly place the blame for this kind of an ending after such a strong start to the show. I am thinking that there are unseen baddies here; the writer is the lightening rod and takes the hit for the suits’ bad decision making. The actors are too professional to come out and say much right now, and if someone was indeed brave enough to blow the lid off, they’d be blackballed and probably never work again as an actor/actress.
Here’s a sample fashion fail–among many.
Who the heck picked these glasses out for KSR to wear? So dumpy! Obviously, no one took 10 minutes to look for something more stylish and modern. No, the 1980’s is not modern styling. Trust me on this; I lived through the ’80’s! Viewers railed against the trench coats HS wore in 90/90 heat (90 degrees F, 90% humidity), the goofy looking blouse with the cutout shoulders ED wore in the final scenes, and maybe it was just me, but I think RI wore the same outfit for days…in the heat.
At the end of the day, 14 episodes of awesome drama…and 2 episodes of fail. So much wasted potential. This show could have been beyond amazing; a how-to-do-it-right primer for a classic angst filled melodrama with a satisfying ending. That is the most heartbreaking part–the strong start, the intense middle with plenty of plot development–then a WTF-did-I-just-watch finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the side characters, learning about classic HK cinema, and looking for all the little things the writer and PD threw in–like the flames on the van’s grill, and the white baseball glove. I would recommend this drama’s first 13.5 episodes in a heartbeat. I will be on the lookout for future projects from JJM and Junior. If this was Junior’s debut, it was worthy of an A+ grade. Same thing for the youngest ED–Lee Ja In was superb.
For myself, the only thing to do with a bad ending like this is to think about what I would have done differently–and then start writing. I know now that is the only thing that will let me move on from a disappointment like this show’s ending is to write an ending I like better; tying up some or all of the loose ends and reworking the narrative into a happier, logical, and more satisfying conclusion. It was the only way out of the rage and depression I fell into after the ending of SLA. Even if I am the only one who ever reads the story, the closure and peace it brings me is worth all the time I spend at the computer. I would encourage anyone else who is angry, frustrated and depressed over the ending of MLED (or any other K-drama) to sit down and write-your-own ending. No need for any formal training or special classes. Common sense is all that’s required.
FF after the break if you’re interested….Rated PG
I really liked the scenes in MLED when Top Star Eun Ho took on the press. What a professional he is! Someone over at Soompi–I think it might have been @docster6–made the comment that we had to “squint” to see the ending of MLED properly. I don’t want to have to squint to see a good ending for a drama. I’ll save that skill for this interview that Top Star Eun Ho gave to a Chinese Entertainment channel recently. Watch how this guy totally controls the interview, while not coming across as either a total goofball or a jerk. He has the reporter interviewing him flustered and on her heels over and over in a lighthearted way.
Oh, wait. I was squinting. It’s actually JJM. It sure seemed like it was Top Star Eun Ho in that interview when I was squinting!! Ha! It’s like they are one and the same!
Okay, okay, back to the show….
In both press conference situations, HS is completely truthful with the press; unwavering and straightforward as he answers questions. In the first Episode, we see a confident, strong and professional HS describing the reason for writing his autobiography. There’s a minor bit of humor in the initial press conference, but it’s very quick, and doesn’t detract from his message. (Credit to DramaFever for the videos, and blame too–for the ads. Sorry. I’m learning how to clip videos, but I am still at “Halmoni” Tech Level)
In Episode 14, we see a serious and determined EH ready to defend his newly found son and fiancee from the press that would invade their privacy and cause them grief. He pulls no punches with the press–do not mess with my family or you will be sorry.
So in the final episode, why would writer-nim have HS meet with the press at his home and flat out lie to the public about the paternity of his son:
the accuracy of his book:
and take all the blame on himself for “acting crazy”?
It’s beyond perplexing–
it is completely out of character for a man who has been heroically truthful up to this point. It’s the biggest U-turn I’ve ever seen a writer give a character, and it’s completely unfair to the viewers and the drama itself. Anyone with common sense would know that the press is gonna dig the truth out eventually–and lying like this is going to destroy HS’s credibility. HS may temporarily suppress the release of the DNA evidence his sister has in hand, but you can safely bet that will be made public at some future date. Truth like that seems to have a way to find the surface eventually, no matter how deeply buried it may be. Having HS lie is not going to take the heat off ED and RI–in fact, it might even intensify it as conflicting facts begin to emerge. This scene made me want to scream at the top of my lungs. What was the writer thinking? After JH gives his very weak and belated confession at the indoor baseball field, I can only speculate what the public would think about these false statements from Top Star Eun Ho. I don’t think they would run out and buy the MLED book, that’s for sure.
Here’s a story sketch I made up to
help the writer change this scene into something much more palatable. It’s nothing special; just an outline–but it could be potentially expanded into a ending that is supportive of logic and reason. I think it throws a bone to JH without letting him off the hook in the least. It should appeal to the Anti-Adultery-no-exceptions-allowed crowd, because if there is no marriage, there cannot be any adultery. To insist otherwise is delusional.
HS pulled the Rolls Royce into the driveway of his penthouse, only to have his path blocked by a throng of reporters and photographers waiting to pounce on him the second he got out of the car.
HS didn’t really want to talk to any of them, but it was important to set the record straight. “You, you and you..” he gestured to three network reporters. “Come in and I will give you the interview you want.”
HS sat down and faced the reporters on his couch. The reporters fired their questions at him:
“I can assure you–the entire book is true. Everything happened just as it it has been written. The President of DM entertainment can attest to the entirety of what I wrote. HB was right there from the start, and he has previously stated for the record that everything in the book is the truth.”
“RI is my son. I am authorizing the hospital to release the DNA test results this afternoon. There will be no more speculation going forward. However, I am aware…that man has raised RI for ten years, and RI thinks of him as his father. Due to that man’s recent suicide attempt, Children’s Protective Services have become involved in order to protect RI, and assure his safety. My son will have no contact with him until such time that he is deemed mentally stable by the psychiatrists. After that, RI’s mother and I will work out a plan with CPS for RI to meet with Choi in a structured environment, possibly with a counselor to assist.”
“Will you be leaving Korea? We’ve heard rumors…”
“I have no plans to leave unless it is for a short vacation with my family. RI needs stability and to have some counseling. He been through a great upheaval in his life. We have no plans to change schools either, as he is doing well and his mother and I wish to minimize the disruption to his education that the suicide attempt has caused. I intend to live a quiet life here in Korea with my family.”
“What about the marriage of ED to JH? Isn’t she is still married to him?”
“My legal advisers have been instructed to assist ED in whatever capacity she wishes. She has indicated to them that she desires a divorce as soon as it can be obtained. However, due to the marriage occurring while she was not in full possession of her memory, she may seek an annulment.” The reporters looked shocked, and HS took a deep breath.
Had he disclosed too much? No, it was probably better to prepare the public for the scenario his legal team felt was the most likely one–that there had never been a marriage at all, and that she had been duped from the start. Even now, the attorneys were asking JH to provide the marriage license and asking ED’s adoptive parents for information, but they had not provided a single document to prove that the marriage took place, and it looked like they were digging in for a fight. HS had a strange feeling there was no information–because there was never a marriage. There would have been some document somewhere –it would have turned up by now. The lawyers were searching in Korea as well as the US, and had come up with absolutely nothing.
“Is it true that Choi attempted suicide because you threatened him with legal actions from the incident ten years ago?”
HS hated these kinds of questions. It seemed as if they were trying to entrap him. “I cannot possibly understand what was the motivation for Choi to do what he did. You need to redirect your question to him.”
“In light of what has happened recently, do you have any plans to come out of your retirement?”
“No, none at all. As I said before, I plan to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my family, and spending time with my… fiancee and my son.” HS wanted to say wife, but he had to stop himself–they weren’t married yet. Don’t get carried away, he thought. “Now, if you have no more questions, please excuse me–I have some business to attend to..” HS’s phone had gone off no less than six times in the last 5 minutes–even though he had the ringer turned off, the soft buzz of the message tone let him know something was going on. He showed the reporters out the door quickly, thanking them for meeting with him, and locked the door behind them.
There were three missed calls from HB, and two from DG–and another one from his mother, and one more from his sister. Whoa…what was happening? HS decided he would try HB first. If it was bad news, he’d rather hear it from him than his family. But before he could call, the intercom buzzed and let him know someone was at the door. Oh, no–was it another reporter or photographer?
HS pushed the intercom button, only to hear a soft “Oppa, can I come in?” as the camera showed ED at the entrance to his building.
“Yes, yes! I’ll come down….” HS could hardly get out the door and down the elevator fast enough. He didn’t want any reporters that might be lingering around to see her or start asking her a bunch of questions. He knew ED was not used to how aggressive the press could be when they wanted a story.
ED was waiting for him downstairs in the lobby. The lobby was deserted, except for the doorman who was keeping his eyes on the two of them. HS took ED’s hand, “Let’s go upstairs..” and they got into the relative privacy of the elevator.
“Oppa, I wanted to tell you…my adoptive mother called me this morning. She said that her and my dad lied about my marriage to JH. There never was a marriage. My father threatened her and told her to keep it a secret. She turned herself in to the Prosecutor’s office. I wanted to tell you myself. I’m so sorry Oppa! I didn’t know! They kept telling me the papers were lost, and then after my memories came back I asked again, but she kept insisting there was a license…”
“Shh…it’s okay. Don’t cry…let’s go in and talk.”
The elevator door opened and HS and ED went in to his apartment. HS held ED in his arms, rocking her gently.
“Oppa, all I ever wanted…my wish from when I was a young girl, was to marry you ever since I was 12. It’s so crazy, huh? That I knew back then, and then he took that away from us…”
“ED-ah, it’s okay. You never married that man. He may have taken years from us, but we are free now. The press will leave us alone. We can live normally, like everyone else.”
She nodded “RI–he’s going to have a hard time with this too. But it’s better that he knows the truth. He can accept it; he’s a smart boy. But Oppa…there’s something else I came over here today to tell you.”
HS felt like his heart was about to stop. Was she going to want some more time to sort things out?
“Oppa, I…I think we should get married now…”
HS let all the air in his lungs out at once. Relief flooded through him as he pulled her into his arms. “Yes! Let’s plan something for the early fall, when the weather cools down. We’ll have to find a chapel that isn’t already booked. And a ring….you need a proper engagement ring…” HS’s mind could already see the chapel filled with flowers, his bride in a beautiful white gown walking toward him, his son dressed up in a tuxedo, proudly standing next to him with the rings on a little pillow….
“No, I mean…we should get married...now. It would be better that way…”
Something about the way ED emphasized the word “now” made him wonder. “You want to get married…now?” he said slowly.
ED had a little smile on her face. She fidgeted with the strap on her handbag as she looked down and said, “Oppa, you should take responsibility…” She looked back up at HS, as if she was anticipating something from him. HS stared at her incredulously, hardly able to believe what he was hearing. Then he started to shake. Could it be?
“You…you’re…” The words could barely escape his lips. His eyes dropped to her stomach, and then back up to her face. “A baby?” he choked out as she nodded.
“I took a test at home this morning, but I already knew. I have an appointment at the doctor’s early next week.”
“Oh…oh…” HS was stunned. It must have been that first night…Tears came to his eyes, as he held her tightly. “Our child..” His hand covered her flat stomach as he let out a single sob, and took a deep breath to compose himself. “No, you…you have to stay here now. You and RI–because you can’t be climbing any steps. You can rest, and I can take RI to school and pick him up. I’m unemployed now, you know. I have plenty of time.”
“Silly! I feel just fine. Well, I felt a little sick this morning and yesterday morning too. I’m sure it will pass. Oppa, I still want to work with the writer. I have a few months, and I can learn a lot. I’m really excited about working with her. I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay for a drama.”
“I know–it’s always been your dream, and I want you to have that more than anything. I don’t want you to overdo it though. Did you eat today? Can I get you something?”
“No, I’m fine. But let’s tell RI about the baby after we get back from our honeymoon. He will be much more understanding if we do it then. That’s why I wanted to get married right away, so there’s no gossip from anyone. And he’s smart, he’ll figure things out. I just want a simple wedding Oppa, just our close friends, and your family…”
“How about this weekend, at the villa? We can have my parents and sister and Min Ah. DG can bring his girlfriend. Oh, what about your mom?”
“She’s in protective custody for now and she said she will call me when she gets to a safe place. It depends on what the prosecutor decides. She could get immunity for testifying against my dad. Or they could charge her as an accessory…she said she will take whatever punishment is handed out. It was pretty brave of her. My dad can be a scary guy.”
HS knew now that the hunch he had before was correct. That adoptive dad of hers had hurt her in the past. “Eun Dong-ah, what about going to the Prosecutor’s office yourself? Tell them what you know. It would add credible evidence to your mom’s confession. I know it would be difficult, but…”
“Oppa, all that happened a long time ago. I’ve forgiven him. It’s in the past.”
“I know, but it doesn’t excuse what he did. I’ll go with you if you’re afraid. He needs to be held accountable for his actions.”
“Nobody would believe me…and I…I don’t want you to know. It would upset you.”
“Even if I pinky-promise you to hold my temper?”
ED smiled, as they put their hands together. “You’re right. It’s just…difficult. I can go by myself–I know I need to do this. I don’t want him to hurt anyone else.”
“Let’s talk to the lawyers about it tomorrow. I am sure they are swamped today with everything that’s happened. I’d rather you didn’t go by yourself, in case the reporters get wind of it and are hanging around there.”
“Oppa, I need to go back to the apartment and get a few things, if that’s okay. I don’t want to stay there anymore. It’s not my home. After what happened…it’s really uncomfortable. Would it be okay–”
“What kind of question is that? This is your home now. We can stop by the apartment before we pick RI up from school.” HS put his arm around ED’s shoulders. “You know, I’m not sure about you marrying a guy like me…” he teased. “An unemployed bum who knocked you up before the wedding. What will everyone think?”
ED giggled and tickled his ribs. “I’ll tell you….but you’ll have to catch me first!” She got up with surprising speed, and ran toward the bedroom with HS right behind her, laughing as he caught her just as she got to the bed.
“How long until we have to pick RI up from school? Mrs. T is out grocery shopping–”
“Not until 3:15.”
“Good. We’ve got a couple of hours…” HS drew the drapes shut, and sat down on the bed next to her. “Time for a nap!” He waited for her surprised reaction–and then he took advantage of the situation, kissing her and drawing the blanket up over them as they settled into the bed. “We should probably practice being married, hmmm?” ED murmured softly as HS’s hands began to work their way under her clothes. That was exactly what HS needed and wanted to hear. She was his. After ten long years, they could finally be husband and wife.
Later that afternoon, ED packed some of their clothes and RI’s toys and books over at the apartment. HS made a quick call to Mrs. T–
“We will need to have dinner tonight–for three of us. My son will be there and, umm, he doesn’t like green onions…” HS covered the phone with his hand as he asked ED, “Is there anything else RI doesn’t like?” There was so much to learn!
“No–he just doesn’t like really spicy things”
“Oh, okay. You’ve got that, Mrs. T? Nothing too spicy..”
“I heard. I am sure I can fix something he’ll eat. What time will you want dinner?
“Is 6:30 good?”
“Not a problem at all!”
HS put the bags in the trunk of the Rolls and they left for RI’s school. HS stole a couple of quick glances over at ED. “Your cheeks–they’re still pink. RI will think you were outside gardening all afternoon.”
ED put her hands up to her face. “Oh, so that’s what we were doing….’gardening’? Seems it was more like ‘planting’ to me!”
HS nearly choked at ED’s bold words, remembering all too late that the 20 year old ED would have said something just like this. She was coming out of her shell; after years of mistreatment by JH, she was starting to relax around him and return to the playful ED he knew and loved. “No, I already did the ‘planting’, so it was ‘gardening’. I was taking care of the garden.”
ED laughed and said, “We won’t be able to kid around like this when RI is here…” She turned to HS. “I wonder if he’s heard anything today.”
“Well, whatever it is, let’s figure it out and deal with it.”
HS’s phone rang again–it was HB.
“Mmm, hey–what’s up?”
“Hyung, you won’t believe this! ED’s adoptive mom went to the police and confessed everything! It was all a fake! That’s why our lawyers couldn’t find any record of the marriage in the US or here. The adoptive dad railroaded his wife into keeping it a secret–and threatened her if she ever breathed a word.”
“I know–ED told me earlier today. She and I are on our way to pick RI up from school.”
“She’s with you? That’s good, you know what kind of dogs those reporters can be! Oh, wait, there’s more. The mom asked for protection from him–even though he’s in the US right now, coaching baseball. The prosecutor’s office is considering an extradition order so they can charge him with fraud. The major networks just aired the full interview with the mom, and they blocked out her face. It’s all over the internet. The press in the US has picked up on the story too. TMZ made it a front page headline on their Sports page, and the team he was coaching for has suspended him until further notice. Hey, HS! Yah, are you there? Are you okay?”
“Oh..oh yeah, I’m here. I..I’m just..” HS could not put everything he was thinking into words.
“What do you think about another formal press conference? The media is going crazy with this story. The reporters are camped outside the hospital, and it’s a circus down there from what your sister told me. They want to get JH to confirm or deny what she’s saying.”
HS’s mind was only concerned with the explanation he was going to have to give to RI. “Uh huh..Listen, I gotta go. I need to pick up RI at school and–”
“Yeah, I understand. I’ll go now…we can talk later.”
How was RI going to react when he finds out? That kid…what a shock he must be going through; the suicide attempt, finding out the guy he thought was his dad really wasn’t, and everyone around him lied to keep his mother and him by JH’s side. HS shook his head. The destruction that all the lies had caused–it was coming to an end.
RI and his classmates were walking out the front entrance to the school. HS parked the car and walked with ED up to RI’s teacher. Now seemed as good a time as any to introduce himself as RI’s father. After all, there was no reason to hide.
RI came running up to ED. “Mom!” He gave her a quick hug, and then he bowed stiffly toward HS..”Hello, Ah…uh…” HS couldn’t blame him…RI wasn’t ready to call him Dad, but he knew calling him ‘Ahjussi’ wasn’t right either. HS patted him on the shoulder, “It’s okay.” He turned to RI’s teacher who was clearly nervous in the presence of Top Star Eun Ho. But that wasn’t who he was anymore. “Hello, I am RI’s father, Park Hyun Soo…”
“Hello, I mean–nice to meet you…”
ED seemed much more comfortable speaking with the teacher. “Can we go in and talk for a minute?” They left and RI and HS went over and sat down on a bench outside the classroom.
“It’s really true isn’t it, Ahjussi? You’re my father….”
“Yes,” said HS. “I want you to know RI, that I never stopped looking for your mom–and you too. I would have been your father from the first day you were born, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
“That’s what I heard Grandma say on the TV today–that you loved my mom from a long time ago. I saw the interview on my friend’s phone at lunchtime. She said that her and grandfather did a very bad thing and lied about Mom being married to…to my dad.”
“Yes, it’s never a good thing to lie. I think…your other dad…he knows that too now.”
RI nodded. “Will I be able to see him once in a while? I know right now, probably not. Mom says he has to talk with the doctor for a while, but maybe later?” RI looked hopeful.
HS nodded. “He did a very scary thing. When the doctors say it’s okay, we will take you to visit him. I promise.”
“You should never try to kill yourself. That’s what my teacher said. She said it doesn’t solve any problems, and it makes everyone sad. ”
“That’s true RI. But people who do that, they aren’t thinking clearly. You don’t know what’s going on inside their minds. That is what he needs help with now.”
“I know. I want him to get better. It’s just…it feels weird calling you Dad, when he was my Dad. But he’s not really my Dad, so if I call him that, it’s a lie.”
“RI, when you are ready to call me Dad….”
“I can try. I want to.” RI looked so serious and determined, HS could almost see a reflection of himself in his son’s face. ED and RI’s teacher came out of the classroom then, and the teacher spoke to HS: “I understand the difficulties RI is going through right now. I’ve sent an email to the parents, asking them to be mindful that RI is their child’s classmate, and he has been through a lot. The gossiping should die down now–the truth usually takes care of that.” She smiled kindly at RI. “You have a very smart son. He has a lot of questions about everything! Good for him–an inquisitive mind is a good thing. Well, at least here at our school…” she added softly.
ED and HS thanked the teacher again and RI hopped in the back seat of the Rolls. “Whoa…I thought the front seat was big. This is even bigger!”
“Maybe someday I can get my friend DG to take us for a ride in the Top Star Van! It has flames on the front grill…” HS loved how his son’s face lit up.
After dinner that night, RI took a shower while ED and HS put her clothes and RI’s things in her room. RI came running in the room with his pajamas on. He stopped as he saw ED and HS together, then he asked, “Uh, where do I sleep tonight?”
ED sat down on the bed with him. “RI, you can sleep here in this big bed with me. I put all your things in the closet here next to mine.”
RI turned to HS. “But Ah..uh..Dad…you said that the guys should sleep together. Like we did over at Min Ah’s house. You should read me a story too before bed. That’s a Dad’s job.”
HS was at a loss for words, but ED stepped in. “RI, your father and I are going to be married this weekend, like a mom and dad should be. After that, he and I will have a bedroom just for us, and you will have a room just for you. So until this weekend, you can either stay with me… or I suppose you boys could stay together at night.” HS opened his mouth to object, then shut it quickly as he thought better of it. ED was right. She really knew how to handle this kid. It wouldn’t be right for RI to see them sharing a bed until they were actually married. Good thing it was going to be soon. HS didn’t like being without her in his arms at night. But for 3 more days, he could wait. HS put his arm around ED’s shoulder and gave her a little squeeze. He wasn’t sure how much affection RI would be comfortable seeing. HS had a feeling there was almost no affection between JH and ED during their marriage; only cool politeness. RI would have to get used to his parents being affectionate. He’d probably never seen that before.
“Can we read another one of the “Captain Underpants” books tonight? Please?”
HS reached for the tablet on the table next to the bed. “How about ‘Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets‘? That looks like a good one. We could also read a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure‘ book. They’re a lot of fun too.”
“What? Wait….Who’s Captain Underpants?” ED started to giggle herself.
HS got a mischievous gleam in his eyes. “Come on RI. Let’s go read in bed. This is stuff for us guys. Moms don’t really like great literature for kids like Captain Underpants, and ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books.”
“Hey, how do you know that?” ED watched the two of them head off giggling and whispering. They’re like two kids together right now, she thought. There was no doubt in her mind that HS would be a great dad to RI, and to the baby they would have next spring. As she turned out the light, she could hear HS and RI rummaging around in the kitchen, completely unable to keep their voices down and be quiet while they gathered up snacks to take upstairs.