Filling the Soul–“Page Turner” Episode 2

A/N: The three posts I made for Page Turner were originally one giant post that I cut into 3 pieces, so if anything seems awkward, I apologize.

Episode 2 starts with a dose of Same Stuff Different Day: Jin Mok tossing his crucifix in the drawer as he continues on his religiously based guilt trip and Yoo Seul’s mom continuing to be a nag. Here’s something new– it looks like Cha Sik has redecorated his room! Gone are the posters of pole vaulting stars…

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In case you are wondering, that’s Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words Op. 19, No. 1 “Sweet Remembrance” playing in the background. Great musical choice. Here’s a quote from the composer himself talking about words: “These seem to me so ambiguous, so vague, so easily misunderstood in comparison to genuine music, which fills the soul with a thousand things better than words.” 

Cha Sik blows out the door for the day sans breakfast, as his mom wonders how a guy who isn’t going to school can be so busy…

Jin Mok listens in as his classmates wonder how Yoo Seul can go back to their school, and he gets a flashback of her saying how she hated pretending to like playing the piano. He doesn’t get on the bus to go to school (classy looking red school bus BTW) and runs back, passing Cha Sik mailing a letter.

Yoo Seul is determined to go to school by herself, and her mom throws a fit. Jin Mok gets a front row seat at their mother-daughter spat, and decides to follow her. When a car nearly grazes his wannabe princess, he’s right there to grab her arm protectively. Only one problem–Yoo Seul thinks it’s still her mom following her around, and she gives him a tongue lashing! She hands him the hair curler and leaves. Jin Mok knows if he didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all:

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Even a passing ahjussi wonders what the heck is wrong with Yoo Seul that would make her call Jin Mok “Eomma”!  Jin Mok continues to follow her, watching over her on the subway, opening doors and making sure her sandals/slippers are right there under her feet. Their classmates can barely believe what they are seeing, and confront him at lunchtime. That looks like the most amazing school lunch ever! Real, healthy food that looks appetizing–and not like the processed frozen/reheated crap that my local HS serves to the students. Jin Mok denies helping Yoo Seul, and then finds out that the school is looking for a volunteer to help her. The clatter of dishes distracts them, as Yoo Seul and another student collided and sent a couple of those yummy lunches to the floor. He runs over and helps her up.

Meanwhile, Cha Sik is at the Arts High School now. He makes a bewildering first impression on the girls from the orchestra:

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These girls may laugh at him today….next month they’ll be wishing they could date him.

I gotta love how Cha Sik takes his destiny into his own hands and tries to transfer himself into the Arts High School. He doesn’t wait around or whine for his momma to help him…nope! He doesn’t even flinch when the administrative ahjussi tells him he can’t enroll because there isn’t a vacancy, and it’s a specialized school anyway. Like I said before, he’s learned well from his mom–don’t take ‘no’ for an answer! He tells the admin ahjussi that he doesn’t just have a will and desire to be there–he’s got talent to boot! Cha Sik must’ve also heard one of my favorite sayings, “Never let school get in the way of your education“.

Side note: My local community college is offering a Pharmacology class this summer. I took that class 32+ years ago–so I thought I might need a refresher. There are so many new medications my patients are on. Problem: The college wouldn’t let me take the class since I already passed it! After multiple emails to the teacher, I finally went down to the Administration office on a Friday afternoon and begged them to let me in! I had to write a long winded (!) explanation to the Dean about how it will help my dental patients and be a benefit to everyone if my knowledge is updated….OMG. There are plenty of spaces in the class. I’m not taking a spot someone else needs. I am a cash-paying student (in the tax-paying community) for crying out loud! I finally said that if they didn’t want my money I would just buy the book, show up and sit in the back of the class! The admin lady said the teacher would throw me out, but I have yet to see a teacher ever do that to a student. I could care less about the credit–I really want the information. I’m in the class now–only because I didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer!

Yoo Seul gets the message that her mom is needed to help her out at school, which doesn’t go over too well. She says she will get a friend, but the admin ahjumma says that if someone wanted to help, they would have already stepped up. Methinks that Yoo Seul and her prickly personality don’t have a squad of guy or gal pals to pick from at the school. Jin Mok is on the money this time; handing in the filled-out Princess Guide application:

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Shouldn’t he hiccup here…like in “Pinocchio”?!

Heh, right. Suuure you are! Yoo Seul stands up and says no way is Jin Mok gonna be her guide! Cha Sik hears this:

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And he’s not talking about the brOTP in “Descendants of the Sun” either, lol!  Jin Mok says that he’ll read her what is written on the board and walk her to and from school. Yoo Seul says there’s no freakin’ way that’s gonna happen! She’d rather go to school without a guide, but the admin ahjumma says no way after the cafeteria accident today. I love how Jin Mok swallows hard and coughs out that he will do his best to ‘protect’ her! Might as well protect a cactus or a skunk, my friend. His guilt, protective and romantic feelings are all at war with each other. Cha Sik sprints over–he’s got the solution:

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Yoo Seul recognizes his voice–he’s that crazy jerk from the rooftop who told her to kill herself. (Selective memory at its finest!) Cha Sik says he is that guy–but he’s changed. He’s got a new life now…kinda like from a larvae to a butterfly! He gets down on his knees–which he announces since she’s blind. Then he apologizes, and begs to be her guide! Jin Mok is frozen in place. The admin ahjussi comes over to drag Cha Sik away, as he continues to advocate for his dream job as Yoo Seul’s guide. Cha Sik uses the twin super-powers of logic and reason: Yoo Seul’s momma isn’t a student here…and she can be a guide. So why can’t he be a guide? The adults stutter and stammer uselessly as Cha Sik asks Yoo Seul to pick–him or “Dumber”!

The two boys get into a minor scuffle as Jin Mok takes exception to being called “Dumber” and Cha Sik then calls him “Sam Shik”!

There’s a lot of meaningful layers here. One is that the literal translation means “3rd boy/son” (Sam Soon is 3rd girl/daughter) but it’s also a fish! (source)

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Image from Google

And not an attractive fish either!

If that’s not enough for ya, consider this: There’s an oldie fave Korean movie (Miji Wang) where Sam Shik means having “Prince Syndrome”! (see above for source) Yep, I believe that Jin Mok is ready to star in the Drama of his own Life as the Prince Charming who comes to the rescue of damsel-in-distress Yoo Seul. He already thinks he’s a Prince who’s better than everyone else. That’s priceless…what great wordplay! Jin Mok retaliates by calling Cha Sik “larvae”, but Cha Sik takes it as a compliment–a larvae becomes a butterfly! He even flaps his arms like a butterfly! Lol! Jin Mok tries to use the comeback that larvae also become cicadas (highly annoying insects BTW) and their ensuing scuffle ends when Yoo Seul says she will make a decision….

And the next scene shows that decision was in favor of Cha Sik! He catches Jin Mok’s ardent pining gaze at Yoo Seul in class one day and gives him the 411 in a funky mix of Korean and English: He won. Jin Mok lost.

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Bwahaahaahaa! That ferocious wink says it all: Jin Mok, your Prince status has been revoked! There’s a new Prince in town Yoo Seul’s life!

The New Prince is unfamiliar with musical terms and composers names, but his commentary of the teacher’s lecture is hilariously tinged with his common sense and good humor. It’s interesting the other students perceive Cha Sik as stupid, when he’s anything but stupid. He just needs to round out his musical knowledge a bit. Like a smart person, he uses his phone to look up information…only to have Princess Yoo Seul blow him off by putting her headphones on. Geez! Give the dude a break!

Later, Jin Mok confronts Yoo Seul while she’s brushing her teeth. He wonders why she picked “that dumb guy”. She brutally counters with the reason: How much does she hate Jin Mok if she picked “that dumb guy”. Ooof! This time, Jin Mok is not gonna go down without a fight. He reminds her that she said she was tired of hating him. He is also tired of hating her. So how about being friends? Yoo Seul accuses him of being soft-hearted, and that he’s doing things out of pity for her because she’s blind. Jin Mok looks devastated, but she might be right. There is probably too much bad history between these two for instant aka ‘cheap’ forgiveness.

Cha Sik has modified his bike so Yoo Seul can ride on the back! Yeah, he doesn’t think of her like a princess either, nope, no way! But the Princess turns up her nose at the bike, and they end up on the subway. Cha Sik kinda sorta apologizes for his lack of knowledge, and then compares himself to an unscratched lottery ticket and a hidden gem! Yoo Seul doesn’t seem impressed, and tells him that he only has to be her guide at school so she can get out of her mom’s grasp for a while. Now it’s Cha Sik’s turn to look devastated. Seriously, this girl…does she have a heart of stone? The reality is that she can’t even find her way out of the subway station until Cha Sik gives her a hint. He says just the thing I am thinking as well:

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But then he says she stirs up a passion in him that he hasn’t felt for a long time! Oh, my. Does Cha Sik like a challenge! You betcha…and I’d wager he would not be interested in some weak, simpering girl who would never give him a little sass back either. I’m thinking he probably wants a smart and tough cookie like his mom! He redoubles his efforts, as we see his room covered in post-it notes and he lets his mom know he’s gonna be at the library all day Sunday! I love how his mom doesn’t micromanage his life, tell him he’s crazy or disparage him in any way. Again, Cha Sik takes charge, studying on his own–and he mails his pianist father another letter. His efforts soon pay off, winning the respect of Yoo Seul’s classmates, even if Yoo Seul is still pretty cold toward him.

One afternoon when he is walking her home, she accidentally hits a mean looking dog with her walking stick. Yoo Seul is astute enough to know the dog wasn’t on a leash, as the owner hurriedly hooks him up, and then threatens her with an animal abuse charge! Cha Sik runs back and defends Yoo Seul. He also knows the dog was not on the leash. They go back and forth until Cha Sik points out the CCTV camera, and suggests that the police take a look at the footage. Cha Sik’s logic and reason win again, as the jerky dog owner backs down quickly. Yoo Seul backs down too, and asks Cha Sik to walk her home. Heh…is the Ice Princess about to crack? Yes indeed! She finally accepts a ride on Cha Sik’s bike due to her sprained ankle, and we are treated to a wonderful scene where she holds him tightly, and then lets go to feel the wind as he bikes through the park. I have a flashback to a similar scene in “Angel Eyes”. Wonderful cinematography here too. This is heaven…can this show get any better?!?

The good times are about to come to a screeching halt as Cha Sik pulls up to Yoo Seul’s house. Her momma is waiting out front…yeah, this oughta bust up the happy moment! Cha Sik formally introduces himself as Yoo Seul’s guide, smiles, and does all the right things to impress her mom. Mom dismisses him quickly, and it kills me to see Yoo Seul’s smile disappear and her mask-like face reappear after the moment of freedom and happiness she had with Cha Sik on his bike:

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Cha Sik thinks maybe her mom isn’t that bad….until he goes to return the dropped walking stick and overhears the mom screaming at Yoo Seul. He gets called a “hooligan” too by her mom! OMG. Yoo Seul defends him, but her mom says fughettaboud it…she can’t see so of course she wouldn’t know that he looks evil and shallow! Cha Sik is shocked. Just for the record, I wish my daughter would bring home a guy who was a winner like Cha Sik. I also note that Cha Sik thinks positively of her mom, until facts prove otherwise. He doesn’t assume anything.

Yoo Seul tells her mom to quit it, but mom gives her a roundhouse slap instead! Aaaack! That was really low! Gawd I hate this mom! Cha Sik is looking mighty upset too. I’m sure he never gets slapped or screamed at by his mom. Yoo Seul ‘fesses that this was the first time she was ever on a bike….and it felt great. What would it have been like if she was able to see? She realizes how much stuff she has missed out on, like beach trips, the zoo, or the movies–because her life was all about the piano. Her rage is palpable, and sets her witchy mom back for just a moment, until mom fires back. She asks her daughter–What about all the trophies and stuff you won? Is that all meaningless?  Well, considering that Yoo Seul isn’t smiling in any of the photos…it just might be. Yoo Seul says it was all for her mom. The trophies are really hers. However, things have now changed, and Witchy Mom gets the lowdown:

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This is such a fantastic scene…Yoo Seul is growing up, and her mom gets taken down a notch or two. Win-Win!

Okay, enough of that intense melodramatic fare! Cha Sik shows up the next morning, dressed in his Sunday finest, and formally greets witchy Mom!

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From the spit-shined shoes, to the glasses, to the slicked back hair–he’s the epitome of a classy young gentleman. Oh, and the purple streak in his hair is gone too! Gotta make a good impression, yunno! Yoo Seul’s mom dumps some venom this morning on Cha Sik, as she accuses him of eavesdropping (heck, you could’ve heard her screaming at Yoo Seul in the next county over) and for looking like “a gangster making his rounds”. Geez! #whattabitch

Cha Sik must’ve told his mom what happened because she’s now about to go over there and do some damage to Yoo Seul’s witchy mom. She is floored when she hears that Cha Sik apologized for his fashion sense, and asked what he should wear that witchy mom would approve of! I had to catch this next screencap, where he puts Yoo Seul’s hand in his pocket, and they leave for school:

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Yoo Seul chose him, and he’s determined to let her know she’s made the right choice. I love this scene too. Dear Witchy Mom, you are now dealing with a supreme force of nature known as Jeong Cha Sik. I would suggest you back off before you further alienate your daughter.

Yoo Seul says that she wants to know what Cha Sik wants in return for helping her. He’s got that all figured out too…he wants to hear her play the piano. At first she declines, saying she quit, but he talks her into it. She calls both him and the tunnel piano “cheap and dull” and he gets upset–but then says she’ll do it–if he keeps it a secret. Cha Sik promises he will take it to his grave…until we find out he tells his mom about it, lol! His mom calls him a tattler, and he pouts as she says keeping secrets from your parent means you are an adult now! Heh…if that is true, I became an adult prior to the age of 6! I love that he trusts his mom enough to talk about his life honestly. That’s a lifetime of accumulated trust.

He has a look of pure bliss on his face as he tries to communicate to his mom how wonderfully she plays the piano–second only to dear old Dad, of course! The words he uses are not those of an unintelligent person. Yoo Seul plays in the background as Cha Sik describes the music “like a rainbow that turns humans into angels…and the world became paradise for a moment.” He says he’s been hearing the same melody in his dreams–but won’t tell his mom anything else…hee! There’s a short part where his mom takes a phone call from a dissatisfied customer she wrote a resume for, and I sense a lot of regret about her past. Cha Sik promises to make her wealthy so she won’t have to “cook and clean”. These two characters are so well matched as mother and son. In my book, if you wanna see what a healthy relationship between a mom and a teenage son looks like, just check out their interactions.

Cha Sik escorts Yoo Seul down the hall to change her clothes in an empty classroom, and teases her gently about not wanting to change for PE with the other girls because she has a tattoo! We see a phone coming over a door, and hear some voices–the nearness makes Yoo Seul crouch down. She’s very much aware of things. Dang it, where’s Cha Sik to beat this pervert senseless? Whoa–it’s Jin Mok who confronts and grabs the pervert classmate:

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last words before his demise….

Yeah buddy, I don’t think your phone and your face are gonna be in one piece for long. Jin Mok is flaming mad as the perv classmate asks Jin Mok if he wants to see the pic he took! Seriously bad move there. Jin Mok says he coulda taken this to the police, and I bet he double regrets that decision when the perv says that Yoo Seul “practically asked to be filmed, since she was changing.” The perv then adds that since Yoo Seul is blind, she’d never know about the pics. Omo. Jin Mok, you have Shamrockmom’s express permission to permanently separate this guy’s head and neck, or at least beat him until he’s unconscious. Jin Mok loses his temper and grabs the perv, but the teachers separate the guys before anything major happens, darnit.

However, his hand is now injured, which disappoints his father (and the rest of his family that we get to see for the first time) because he can’t play the piano at an upcoming family friends wedding. Even his mom is blase about his injury, and his hyung doesn’t say a word in his little brother’s defense. Perfect non-supportive family he’s got there! I note that Jin Mok doesn’t feel comfortable telling his family the truth, as he blows it off as a ‘disagreement between friends’. Yeah, riiight! He asks his Dad: Shouldn’t you care how I hurt my hand? Isn’t that more important than having me play at your friends wedding? Jin Mok’s father’s response is brutal: He calls him a coward and an ignorant whiner. It’s only because he doesn’t have confidence at the piano that he’s acting like this–yunno, begging for attention and affection. I had to watch this scene multiple times, because I just couldn’t believe a parent could be so cruel and uncaring. This man shouldn’t even have a goldfish for a pet, let alone being a parent! Dear Jin Mok’s dad: Go be a sperm donor next time. It will be better for everyone. I feel much more sorry for Jin Mok now. His dad’s words cut him to the bone. No wonder he’s such a bitter and angry young man.

Injured hand or not, Jin Mok goes back to the only ally in his life–the piano. He plays something that sounds so scary, it makes me think of the scene in Episode 14 of Secret Love Affair, where Seon Jae plays the darkest version ever of “Ah! Vous dirae je maman”. (composed by Park Jong Hoon) I can’t ‘Shazam’ this piece–so I wonder if this was a little something that PJH also composed for this show. No info available, just a guess.

(I also note these Young Chang grand pianos have the “Chang” blacked out…so they are “Young” pianos! Question–Why was this done? Did Young Chang not want the PPL? Did KBS wimp out and not wanna pay? Inquiring minds want to know!)

Cha Sik finds out about a competition for 2 pianos…and he wants to know how he can compete too! The other students suggest being “born again” which fries my brain on at least two levels. Even Jin Mok gets his diss in as he lets Cha Sik know–there’s no way:

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The diss-fest continues until Cha Sik reluctantly brings out the trump card–he’s the son of Professor Jo Hyeong Myeong Se. And he’s got the pic of his dad and his mom on his phone as proof:

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One of the classmates disputes his proof–Hyeong Myeong Se always takes pics with his fans after a show. Her aunt has one too. If that’s proof, loads of kids would claim him as their Dad. Another classmate claims it was photo-shopped. Would Cha Sik’s mom have lied to him about his father? I would have to doubt that–she seems like the only adult in this show with her head screwed on straight. What would be the point?

Cha Sik is losing his temper, and says that if he wins the competition, that should prove his claim of who his dad really is. Jin Mok says if Cha Sik just wins a preliminary round, that would be enough. The other kids mostly agree, and they can’t believe he would even think about doing something like this. But I get it. Cha Sik has been able to do whatever he set his mind to up to this point in his life. Why would learning to play the piano be any different?

Yoo Seul thinks Cha Sik has gone crazy to even think of playing the piano with her in a competition:

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She might be talking to me too!

She refuses to get involved, and declares that Mozart’s son couldn’t even do something like this. She compares it to pole vaulting–if she practiced for three months straight, would she win? Cha Sik reluctantly answers No, and she lets him know that if he thinks he can catch up to 10 years that they’ve been practicing in only 3 months, he’s being rude and disrespectful. He finally relents, tells her she’s right, and takes her home on his bike. Gaaah, I hate seeing him depressed and without a goal. He didn’t tell his mom his real dream:

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He’s neither hooligan, gangster or playboy (!) as he plays the ‘rainbow-like’ music with her, looking every inch the professional pianist. In his dream, her sight is restored, and she smiles at him while they play. That is what makes him want to live in the dream–her smile. I love that Cha Sik’s dream is not just about him, and what he wants…he has dreams for Yoo Seul too. His dreams are full of hope and joy, not revenge and punishment like Jin Mok’s prayers.

He stops the bike in front of the piano in the tunnel, and asks her if he could learn to play the piece she played for him when they were here before. Wouldn’t that mean he had some potential? She scoffs, and says he will have an accomplice to fool her into thinking it’s him playing because she’s blind! **headdesk** After all this time, she thinks his motives are less than pure? She is the crazy one!

Cha Sik has heard enough of this crap, and picks her up and sets her down on the piano bench. He puts her hands on top of his –maybe she’ll believe him now–and proceeds to play a lovely version of “Ode to Joy” that he taught himself! He must have picked up some piano instruction books at the library….

I flashback to myself at 16…sitting with a fingering chart (that I photocopied from the local library) for the flute propped up on my desk, and a borrowed and battered flute in my hands. In my head, I can hear my friends telling me I’m crazy. I can’t possibly learn the flute in time to be in the HS band. I know I have zero musical talent, but what I do have is the burning desire in my heart to show my boyfriend (and his sexy brain) that I can do this. He is the only encouragement I have right now. I hate High School with a passion. My house is a 24 hour a day nightmare with my demanding and overbearing father, sick grandmother, exhausted mother and anorexic sister. I gotta have an escape hatch….

Ah, so Cha Sik has been practicing the piano on his own for months…and he’s darn good! That’s why there’s tape on his fingers and a tattered wrist brace. He’s practiced until his fingers bled. He’s even there at night, light strapped to his forehead.

More flashback….I’m in a nearly forgotten practice room in a corner of the HS music hall. No one knows or cares that I’m there. I have maybe four or five hours to practice before I head out to my college night class–my other escape. I practice the same piece over and over until I get it right. I’m gonna ask for private lessons soon, and a better flute–but I gotta wait for the perfect moment, given the volatility level at my house.

Omo, I can’t stop crying. The simple tune transforms into Liszt’s Transcription of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (skip to about the 5 minute mark to hear the “Ode to Joy” melody, and you can see the sheet music too. This is for one piano, but I think you’ll get the picture). The music is pulling these two hurting kids together; Yoo Seul may have the talent, but Cha Sik has the joy and the desire. They need each other. The music fills their souls, and heals the hurt that they each have. It mends both heart and mind, and brings them together to a place where they can be free of the pains of life for a little while. I understand now why I love the character of Cha Sik. I could’ve been him–if I had only a little bit more self confidence and a non-overbearing parent!

Suffice it to say Yoo Seul is a believer in Cha Sik now, and agrees to enter the competition. Lesson for today: Never underestimate what a fired-up, determined and stubborn teenager can accomplish. Even if that teenager has only a thimbleful of self-confidence, the internal motivation can move mountains. In 10 months, I went from complete rookie at the flute–I couldn’t even read music–to being the second flute at my high school. I passed up kids who had been playing for 10 years. I practiced 4-6 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was not a burden–it was a joy.

I hear lots of middle age adults whine about how kids these days are a lazy, entitled and non-motivated bunch of dimwits. I call BS. There have always been kids like that. I knew them back in the ’80’s too. These folks must know the wrong kids. I see plenty of smart, motivated and determined kids that often have bricks thrown in their path by their parents, schools and employers. Those kids are only human, and they get discouraged. Who wouldn’t? That’s why I love the character of Cha Sik’s mom. She gets out of the way of her son, and lets him pursue his dream.

I have to say that the first two episodes of “Page Turner” are so emotionally satisfying for me, I want to pinch myself. Now the question is: Can this show ‘stick the landing’ and wrap this story up in a satisfying conclusion?

 

 

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