When I went to KCON this past summer and attended the DramaBeans panel, there was one thing they said that really stuck in my head. It was that at the end of a Kdrama, the families have to accept the relationship between the OTP. They said that was pretty much a consistent thing in Kdramas, although I believe Secret Love Affair broke that rule–well, that and a lot of other ones too! Seon Jae was an orphan at that point, and Hye Won was estranged from her family; they were not even a part of the drama other than a very brief mention of her mother, and her sister’s kids. “Heard it Through the Grapevine” is another one in the rule breaker category; In Sang finally left his parents, and all their wealth and status permanently and chose his wife over them.
I can guess this more traditional drama will have Woo Hyuk’s momma Oh Hae Won finally accept Bang Wool, but is there room for debate here? Could this show also break tradition? Dong Joon’s mom only accepted BW long after DJ’s death. I wonder if OHW will not accept BW at all. OHW seems like the kind of person who has made up her mind and the facts no longer matter. Chae Rin could be in jail and OHW might think she’s still a better choice for her son! I have always thought the underlying theme of LIDD was that some traditional ways were acceptable, but some needed to go. Perhaps more modern ideas should be considered and adopted as well–a blend of the two versus an all-or-nothing approach.
Gang Ja checks out Bang Wool’s seafood hot pot dish–Hey, she knows quality food when she tastes it!
GJ compliments BW’s cooking to OHW–who ignores her completely and says:
Aish! How wasteful! Seafood isn’t cheap either. WH comes striding in and I wonder if he heard that…but instead, he rips into his mom:
OHW says that BW volunteered to cook, and wonders if her son is upset that she cooked for him. WH knows at least one of the problems here:
Check out that decorative pufferfish behind WH on the shelf….nice to have a pretty but poisonous fish in the background. Come to think of it, CR is pretty and poisonous too! More importantly, eating pufferfish is extremely dangerous because of the toxins they make in their body. Only specially trained chefs can prepare pufferfish for those crazy enough to want to eat it, and even then sometimes people still get sick and die; there is no antidote to the toxin. There may be no antidote to the toxic attitudes of OHW either! Now that’s what I call a prop choice! **mind blown again** If this pufferfish placement is the PD-nim’s doing, I have to bow deeply to him. If this is the prop guy’s choice, he/she needs an award and a raise! There’s no way all these things can be coincidences. One or two I might buy–but not week after week!
OHW thinks BW ratted her out:
WH has to correct her again:
OHW blows it off, and then considers punishing WK:
I like how the camera pulls back and we see GJ watched this whole scene. She’s carefully observing her employer and taking notes for future reference.
WH meets up with BW and at first, he almost seems angrier with her than with his momma. He accuses her of lying:
He elaborates that WK told him what happened and that he and his mom had another fight. BW doesn’t like that he fought with his momma, nor does she approve of this attitude from WH:
BW maintains that if cooking will get OHW to open up and approve of her, then she’d even cook for CR! WH says what all of us viewers are thinking:
Heck yeah, it was! WH is furious and then BW drops this gem:
Yeah, BW that would be fine….except you’ve been dumped on so much in your life that you can handle wayyyy too much! And besides, weren’t you just sobbing outside of the house because you felt humiliated after what OHW said and did? Aish! I am starting to lose patience with how much crap BW thinks she can take from OHW in order to get approval. Where will she draw the line? Then again, where am I drawing the line? I have been known to drop shows if the torment of the female lead goes overboard! ***cough-cough I’m Sorry Kang Nam Goo!***
BW goes home and drinks soju alone in the kitchen until SC comes in. At first, he gets a slightly less whitewashed version of the day’s events:
and then finally down to the truth:
It’s interesting that SC immediately blames CR for letting BW serve her. However, CR was the (willing) pawn that was used conveniently by OHW. For me, the majority of the blame here goes to OHW.
At first, this next line seems like BW is just being her typical overly-positive self. I find it more disturbing than anything else:
In my book, BW too easily accepts and then later justifies or re-frames others putting her down and humiliating her. By excusing and justifying her abuser’s behavior, she accepts it internally, believes it, condones it–and invites even more. I think SC knows this too, but he can’t articulate it other that to mildly scold BW for drinking alone and taking away her soju–because IMHO (and his) the last thing she needs to do is drink her troubles away:
Side note: I believe that my intolerance to alcohol (I throw up after a half a glass of wine) was a complete blessing given my situation as a single parent. I have seen so many single moms drink far too much and then their kid(s) are left without a parent who has their head screwed on straight. Alcohol may numb the emotional pain and loneliness temporarily but it never fixes the root problem. It pains me when I see characters in a drama use alcohol as a way to cope with life’s difficulties–it’s a bad example for both kids and adults; even more so with a show that is broadcast when kids are likely to be watching.
WH brings his mom some documents to sign because BW has been chosen as Employee of the Year by the department heads and her coworkers! Ha! How would that look if OHW fired her now?
Let’s take a closer look at another interesting prop in this show–the carved wooden nameplate on OHW’s desk in the screencap above.
I think those dragons on each side of her name are there for a reason. Dragons in Asian culture symbolize power and strength. Persons with exemplary character and achievements are referred to in a positive way as ‘dragons’. The drama title “Six Flying Dragons” where the dragons represent the founders of the Joseon era of Korea is a great example. However, in European Culture, dragons are scary and evil entities that breathe fire and create destruction. Dragons are also associated with serpents; symbols of corruption, greed, and sin. (link) Considering all the English language books, Union Jacks, Eiffel Towers, use of the English language by characters such as CR and JY, and other European/US props and references in this show, I think the writer might be trying to show us that there is another way of looking at OHW. Granted, she is an ambitious and intelligent businesswoman who is trying to grow the BH Group into a worldwide conglomerate. However, she is a classist and elitist person, who is also calculating, greedy, and destructive. Not only that, she has no clue about her adult children’s personalities and their deep need to love and be loved by a soulmate. She may be great at her job, but in the process, she is destroying her son and daughter to maintain some sort of picturesque delusion of perfection for her personal benefit. It’s a mighty steep price to pay. After all, the family unit is the highest priority, especially in an Asian culture. Being a ‘dragon’ from an Asian perspective should not be the goal to pursue if that involves crushing your own family members along the way, and becoming a ‘dragon’ in the European sense. Great job Writer and PD-nim!
The fact that there are two dragons also reminds me of the Native American parable about the two wolves:
“One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’”
Which wolf/dragon will OHW choose? WH was given a second chance at life with the heart transplant. With the help of DJ’s heart, he has chosen love, kindness, truth and generosity. He walked away from the greed, anger, false pride and arrogance–although he’s not 100% perfect yet. Can his mom also do this? I have my doubts….
OHW gripes that there were other employees who should receive this award….like CR! After all, she closed the deal with the customers from the Middle East. I note she conveniently forgets it was with BW’s help! WH reminds his mom about the menu items that became popular almost instantly and the fact that the bigwigs on the board were impressed with her recipes as well. WH tries to use logic and reason with someone whose mind is closed:
OHW grudgingly signs the paperwork, but I feel sure that BW’s days as a BH Group employee are numbered. CR decides to have a pity party for herself while destroying an innocent pen in the process:
“Our” company?! For reals? Does she really think that BH group is hers and WH’s already?! Ugh! Dream on….
Here’s a scene I think might come back to bite OHW and maybe even WH later on. BW finds a man protesting BH Group one evening outside the door to the building:
She doesn’t speak directly with the man, which is a shame since she could get some valuable info directly from the source. Instead, BW asks WH about it. His blithe reply:
I flashback to BW’s papa trying to keep his contract with BH Group, and Prick WH not giving him the time of day–and even dissing him over his injured leg! This can’t be good…BW takes the Ahjussi Protestor’s side:
That Prick gene is flaring up again! WH justifies his position:
BW wants this protestor to have what her father could not:
She insists that WH hear this guy out, and he blows it off again–she’s being nosy. No, your girlfriend is trying to make sure that prick gene of yours is dead and gone for good! The next morning, Ahjussi Protestor is ready to greet WH and his momma:
and begs for OHW to hear his grievance:
WH goes into full Prick mode!
Arrrgh! That Prick gene is like an evil weed! It has to be destroyed daily–or even more often! DJ’s heart must be sending a slew of curses northward! SC watches as the guards wrestle with Ahjussi Protestor–but he doesn’t move.
BW comes around the corner in time to witness the security guards toss the dude on his keister:
Ahjussi Protestor reaches inside his jacket, then runs inside the building after WH and OHW, with BW right behind him. He throws some kind of white powder (salt?) which BW blocks from covering WH and OHW:
The security guards drag Ahjussi Protestor off and BW asks OHW if she’s ok–which is met with a stony gaze and no words.
This scene has me thinking. WH seemed too dismissive of the protestor, and of BW who only wanted WH to listen to his complaint. Was the protester tossed in here for a bigger reason other than to have a straw man; a weak baddie that BW easily defeat and look like a hero to OHW and WH? My guess is yes; he will be back.
Mom brings extra clothes to BW at her work since the white powder ruined (?) what she was going to wear for the Employee of the Year photo shoot. She has Byeol in tow because he’s on a school break.
I had to grab a screencap of CR’s outfit today because this is one of the weirdest things I’ve seen her wear:
Please tell me that no animal gave its fur for this cause. I know I’ve had too much Vietnamese coffee today and I am committing a VUI (VUI=viewing under the influence of coffee) because it reminds me of a skit from the old, old Saturday Night Live back in 1979–when it was the edgiest show on TV. Sorry for the grainy video:
SC sees CR walk in….
…and his shock at her strange outfit nearly derails him from the need to get Byeol outta there asap before she sees him! He takes Byeol on a quick tour of the building, but too late. CR has already seen Byeol with BW and her MiL:
The Evil Dragon Queen goes back to her Joseon roots to unveil a new scheme that will take BW out of the picture. After a thoroughly intimidating visit to the Joseon Dragon Queen’s office, BW is given “the offer she can’t refuse”–give up WH or go to NYC for two years ‘to improve her class’. WH has shown up by this point, and he is not going for this:
Talk about thoroughly evil….this is a whopping plan that will get BW out of the picture, make BW feel small and ‘less-than’, and put OHW’s wannabe DiL CR in a position to (my guess) seduce and/or entrap her son WH into marriage–all in one shot. WH is at least starting to question his mom’s motives:
Well, it’s genuinely diabolical, that’s for sure!
She says she would prefer them to break up of course, but since they aren’t of a mind to do that, this is what needs to happen! OHW puts the burden on BW by asking her to make a decision. BW and WH have a heated discussion outside–he’s 100% opposed to the idea of a two-year separation:
But BW’s self-esteem is at a historic low. Even when she was a single mom with a vegetable truck and her own basement apartment, I think she felt better about herself. She considers the offer even though WH is incredulous:
I am totally on board with WH and BW leaving with Byeol for
the OC NYC, living happily ever after and roll the credits! Too bad we still have 50+ episodes to go! WH knows if his Evil Queen Momma wanted BW to get some overseas experience, he could accompany her to the US, and everything would be peachy. BW’s taken too many hits to the psyche from OHW by now, and is believing the negativity:
BW needs some instructions from the serial killer that helped Ji Chang Wook aka Kwon Yu in “Fabricated City“–if you keep getting hit, cover your vital areas. In this case–your brain! OHW was shocked that BW was still living with her in-laws. She was gonna tell her about Byeol….which WH is also 100% against!
He accuses her of being rash, but I agree with BW here:
By not mentioning Byeol, and waiting for some mythical perfect moment, it really does look like WH is ashamed of Byeol and of BW’s status as widowed single mom. This gets him to confess:
Sorry WH–I think Byeol will have children of his own before your momma becomes ‘more fond’ of BW! WH finally applies the brakes:
…as the realization hits him–his mom is the driving force behind them yelling at each other. BW is still stuck on OHW’s toxic proposal:
As things are not going WH’s way, he calls in his personal assistant/butler/Bromance partner SC for a Bro’s Only meeting! It’s dawning on me that he’s not nearly as confident as he imagines himself to be. WH needs SC for constant reassurance–and that’s like the blind leading the blind:
SC gets to the question I have as well:
I think WH has it right:
Okay WH, so now what are you gonna do? Your plans so far are not working. Let a ‘scary’ mom like Shamrockmom give you some advice here. (Note–my daughter says I am too ‘scary’ to meet her new boyfriend! Ha! Nothing wrong with a little healthy fear….since she has no father to speak of, I have to do double duty–including being ‘scary’! I only plan on telling this young man what I told her other boyfriends–Don’t make my daughter cry. Ever! Or you will regret it. Sound familiar?!)
The biggest problem you have is that you talk too much to your momma and she ignores your words. It is merely more hot air to her, and not even worth her consideration. What will she understand? Action! And lots of it! Don’t tell her that you want to go to the US with BW and Byeol–Just Do It! Then be prepared for a drastic lifestyle change, and handle it well. You’ve lived in the US; you have some English skills and a basic understanding of how things work here. (even if university life gave you a slightly warped view of things) Or, how about a move out of that toxic mansion and show your mom you can run your life without a housekeeper and a cook? Consider leaving your cushy job to open a restaurant with BW, and do a full day’s work without a legion of helpers running behind you.
Right now, you are two steps behind your momma–and you need to be a step ahead. Your heart donor DJ had to deal with some serious rejection of BW by his momma too. I railed at him once or twice about not having a spine, but he showed me he was made of tougher stuff. DJ was ready to give up his dream of being a judge to take care of his woman and his child. Now I wanna know–Are you ready to use your spine to walk away from all the perks of chaebol living for BW and Byeol?
The Imperfect Joseon Dragon Queen:
Yes, even Her Majesty makes mistakes! OHW meets CR and YS at YS’s hair salon. Hair salons must be the SK female equivalent of dark and seedy bars where bad dudes plot evil deeds! (See “Secret Love Affair” as a reference.) YS finds out that the OHW is planning to send BW to the US for a two-year exile. She also wants to know the answer to this question:
Two words for ya–No Way!
Then OHW has the chutzpah to announce her intentions to apprentice/protege CR and CR’s stepmom YS:
CR can hardly get the words out fast enough:
And as ambitious and greedy as YS is, even she can’t get on board with that idea!
As far as I am concerned, the concept of right and wrong left the space between CR’s ears a long time ago! YS explains that she supports CR because she knows CR likes WH. But YS is going for the sure thing:
CR gets upset and says that all she wants is a chance, but YS says that her Doctor Daddy will have a fit if he finds out! This finally wakes up the Queen, and she apologizes:
It’s only because she likes CR so much, and thinks she would be good for WH! I have to cringe at how little WH’s feelings mean to his mother. Does she not know her son after 30 years of hanging out with him? Even if BW was exiled to the US, I don’t believe WH would spend even one second at the video game arcade with CR at this point! Still, this is an important scene because it shows that the Joseon Dragon Queen is overconfident–and can also make mistakes.
Here’s another great prop choice–the owl in CR’s room.
After noticing the books on CR’s shelf have been shuffled around (the “Big Ben” book is on a higher shelf, there’s a new “New American Barbecue” book, and the “Arletta” butterfly book is in here instead of in the other room) the camera angle gives us a look at a new prop–the statuette of an owl right on top of CR’s shoulder:
In Western culture, the owl is often seen as a symbol of intelligence and wisdom; the “wise owl” who listens and observes more than speaking words. However, in Chinese culture owls are harbingers of death. This link gives me the chills, as it talks about owlets (young owls) plucking out their mother’s eyes! Whoa! Is the writer alluding to CR sticking it to YS and blaming her for the DUI accident that killed BW’s papa?! Or a future death in the show? It’s interesting that the owl is shown in this scene where YS and CR are arguing over CR going on a blind date (her father’s choice) and that blind date is from the Prosecutor’s office! Love it….CR, you’re goin’ down for that hit-and-run DUI you committed that wiped out BW’s precious Papa!
BW decides to go to NYC:
Here’s another scene that has some interesting deeper meanings. Let’s start with the choice of BG music: “Fallin'” by Leblanc and Carr from 1977. Yes, I remember when that song came out! It was a very popular song on the radio and an excellent slow-dance song choice for us junior-high geeks! The lyrics are beautiful–and unlike so many other songs today, they are squeaky clean. I couldn’t think of more perfect words to describe BW and WH’s love for each other.
Lenny Leblanc went on to become a successful Christian music producer and he has produced and written many songs that I know from singing them at church. It’s interesting to note (as a potential parallel for WH) that he gave up an extremely lucrative and promising career in rock music to pen songs for worship. He nearly went bankrupt and built furniture to pay the bills until he made it big. I wonder if the writer and/or PD-nim knew about him because of his work with 3rd Wave Music–a contemporary Christian music project that has attracted the likes of SuperJunior’s Choi Siwon and US/Taiwanese musician and actor Vanness Wu! 3rd Wave Music is also involved in another project that is near and dear to my heart: suicide prevention. After my mom’s suicide nearly three years ago, I am very much onboard with suicide prevention campaigns. A good friend of mine is working with the You Rock Foundation that has messages from hard-core heavy metal bands encouraging young people to not give up and not consider suicide.
These strawberry drinks remind me of happier days with WH from Episode 42:
After BW tells WH that she’s thought it over and decided to go to NYC for two years of
exile punishment studies, WH puts his foot down–sorta:
But BW is trapped, and she knows it. Having OHW’s approval means everything to BW. Since she doesn’t have a biological family anymore, approval of WH’s family and DJ’s family is an extremely high priority. More than that, BW loves WH enough to put herself through an extremely difficult time and she (unfortunately) trusts that his mom will approve after the stint is over.
Now this is what I want to see: outside-the-box thinking! How about some action with that?
WH promises to persuade his mom (yawn) but BW knows that his mom is not going to give them any other options. IMHO, BW is too beaten down and depressed by OHW’s hurtful words to consider any alternatives:
Her voice starts to crack as she says how afraid she is to go to the US…and she doesn’t know any English.
BW feels the need to show WH’s momma that she’s doing her best. **Sigh** There will never be “good enough” for OHW when it comes to BW. It’s an impossible goal.
They take a walk outside, and WH is so shell-shocked that he can’t even hold her hand! BW tries to look at the positive side of things:
And then we get this surprising admission–
Many episodes ago when BW first came on board with BH group because of the shrimp dish recipe that was plagiarized, CR ended up holding the cooking class featuring her recipe with the chef. CR had better English skills and BW’s feelings were hurt. After all, it was her recipe, and it sure looked like CR took credit for it. BW thought back then she should study English. I like that BW has normal human emotions like disappointment and envy. It can be tiresome and unrealistic to watch someone who is so perfect and always looks on the bright side of things.
Having listened to nothing BW said tonight, WH goes home and starts right back in with his mom:
Not so fast there WH!
Her first excuse is weak: OHW says it’s because of his heart condition. Yeah, ’cause NYC doesn’t have any quality cardiologists that could take care of her son! No first-rate hospitals with state-of-the-art cardiac care units or anything like that! /sarc
Oh….. and she’s putting their love to a ‘test’:
She believes WH is ‘blinded’ by love. No, that’s backward–you are blinded by classism, elitism and plain old stupidity! WH goes for the legal angle:
If they are still together after two years, she must accept BW. OHW fully stonewalls her son:
She calls him shameless (I’d say she’s shameless!) but a savvy businessman like WH knows one of the most important rules in the business world: Get It In Writing Or It Never Happened!:
OHW calls her son an idiot and stomps off, while his noona advises even more caution:
WH has a brooding moment in his room:
WH then makes a decision that makes me wonder how much more grief I can watch, as he asks SC to do the most difficult thing ever–go to NYC with BW and Byeol:
OMG. I can’t even…As SC nods yes while looking like he’d rather be anywhere else at that moment:
I feel my weak heart toward SC is breaking into pieces. Grrrr, another lunch of mine that won’t get eaten again this week! I wish he would tell WH more about CR and what happened with the earring in the lab. I fear he will get burned for that too in the near future.
How can SC possibly do this? He will stay in NYC with the woman he loves but doesn’t love him back, and her son that he adores–all the while watching her struggle to work and learn English. Meanwhile, BW will be pining away for WH, who she loves a great deal. They will both need to navigate a foreign country and all the cultural issues and be a parent (or de-facto father in SC’s case) to Byeol who will have struggles of his own. Personally, I believe that even though NYC has a large Koreatown, BW and Byeol would be far better off here in SoCal. Plus I am biased! The abundant availability of Korean-Americans in SoCal who speak both languages and are familiar with the area would really help for things like buying a car, finding an apartment, and getting Byeol enrolled in school. The established Korean communities here would likely soften the transitional issues. BTW–how are SC’s English skills? We can guess WH would be okay; he went to college in the US. Yes, SC would be a huge help to BW. WH would make darn sure both SC and BW/Byeol would have a decent place to live and plenty of money to live on. But the psychological cost to SC? Unimaginable. I don’t think the story is gonna go that way, but if he had to, he’d do it. SC would sacrifice that much of himself because of his love for BW–and Byeol too. He’s definitely martyr syndrome material–and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
Side Note: I actually think Byeol would do very well in the US. He’s reasonably bright and adaptable. Two months in school and he’d speak pretty good English; two years and he’ll sound like he lived in the US from day one, whether he had an East Coast or a West Coast accent! The real trouble would come when Byeol would go back to the insane school system in SK–the same one I’ve written about before that drives SK parents to send their kids to the relatives in the US at age 5 to escape it.
I must have asked myself a dozen times this week why the character of SC makes me so sympathetic to him. Is it the actor who is nailing this character? Do I see some aspect of my own hesitant personality in him? Is it always feeling like an outsider? Is it the fact that he (like me) has been burned before and we can’t bounce back? Or perhaps it’s the sense I get of SC’s undeserved suffering and pain and I feel like I understand that concept? What has SC done so very wrong to deserve this kind of suffering? It’s the question I am not sure I will get answered at the end of the show. I may not like hearing the answer either. Watching this show with its myriad of characters seems to bring out strong emotions in each viewer. The comments I read both on Soompi and other boards bear this out. We all bring our own biases to the table, and each person has a lens that is uniquely theirs from which they view the characters and their motivations.
Like WH, I also fear that OHW will promise that she will accept BW after two years, only to renege on her word and find some new requirement for BW to meet–assuming CR has not faked a pregnancy or something like that to trap and marry WH. OHW could also simply strand BW in the US, cut off her funds and leave her without a way home, although I think that WH and the Yoon’s would find a way to get her and Byeol home to Korea.
I am gonna cut this here and deal with the Big Bomb Drop (when OHW finds out about Byeol) for the next post. I know I am behind, but there’s some great stuff coming up including more bizarre fashion choices and the introduction of another animal into this show: DJ’s mom aka Mama Bear! Hint: Don’t mess with the cubs–whether they are born into the fold or adopted in!