A/N: Before I get started, I want to direct you to the second part of the “Elements of Style” blog post at koreandrama.today which goes into some incredible detail about how a scene is shot and the emotional impact it has on the viewer. I have learned more about how Kdramas are created by watching this show along with the information in the two blog posts than I ever thought possible. And even though the fun and lighthearted scenes that I really enjoy have pretty much disappeared, the messages the writer and PD-nim send through the BG music, PPL, props, fashion choices, and the sets continue to make this show take the top spot in my drama viewing lineup 5 days a week!
**all screencaps from newasiantv.me** unless noted otherwise
Today’s starter quote: “It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn–The Gulag Archipelago)
Here’s an example that sends most viewers over the edge: A flashback to Young Sook abandoning Bang Wool; a desperate action fully justified in her mind by her need for a more secure financial future:
I always appreciate the detail in the sets–which was one more reason for my obsession over shows like Secret Love Affair and Heard it through the Grapevine. This tiny apartment/studio home is definitely on a par with Seon Jae’s rooftop abode–actually, this place looks smaller. The impoverishment seems to radiate from the cheap plastic drawer set, the micro-sized sink and stove (no oven or microwave) and the dark, cheerless lighting. As a former rooftop (okay, second story!) apartment dweller, I can vouch for the fact that it’s cold and drafty in the winter and stifling hot in the summer. I can imagine the condition of the bathroom here–tubless, showerless, with a wonky burping toilet and mold/mildew issues galore! Love the roll of TP in the kitchen for use as napkins too–I’ve seen that before!
From Secret Love Affair: Seon Jae’s buddy (ironically also named Jang Ho) eating takeout fried chicken and beer in SJ’s rooftop home. Screencap from viki.com
We know that YS and BW’s father Jang Ho grew up together in an orphanage. I will admit that given only that piece of knowledge, it’s hard to fathom that YS would abandon her own child. Common sense would seem to dictate she would be a more fierce and protective mom because she was abandoned herself, and she wouldn’t want that for her precious child. Then again, perhaps because she had no mother or father to love her, she could not bond with her baby like most moms do. The story has been that YS left the small fishing village of Daechon for the Big City (aka Seoul) when BW was only 5 days old. Even that is mind-boggling. When my kids were 5 days old, I could hardly get myself showered and changed into a fresh nightgown, let alone fully dressed, makeup on, packed up and ready to move out! How did she do it? Most women are still bleeding 5 days after having a baby, and YS had probably just left the hospital a day or so before. Part of me wonders what the role of post-partum depression might have played if this was a RL situation. Here’s something else to consider: If YS bailed out on BW, that meant that JH had to come up with more money for baby formula, bottles and all the rest of the paraphernalia that goes along with bottle feeding–and that was undoubtedly a huge expense that he didn’t need.
We also know that JH had some kind of injury to his leg, although what exactly happened and when it happened are very fuzzy. I am sure that YS already felt financially insecure before the accident happened. Having recently given birth and with her hormones fluctuating, then add in that the father of her child was injured and possibly unable to work–the stress must have been overwhelming. Obviously, the relationship between YS and JH was not the strongest, as she didn’t feel that they could stick together and overcome this situation. In addition, there was no family on either side to help them out. It’s likely their friends were as broke as they were too.
I believe that JH might have loved YS much more than she loved him–and he was so devastated by her abandonment of him and BW that for 22 years, he told his daughter she was dead. (at least until he kinda-sorta ‘fessed up on his deathbed.) He even showed her a picture of Gang Ja and told her that she was her mom when we know that was not true. When JH’s last words to BW were,”Go find your mother”, it’s interesting to think that he must have meant for BW to find GJ–who loved JH with an unrequited love. JH knew that GJ was a tough cookie. He trusted her to look after his precious daughter (and his unborn grandchild) when he could no longer protect them.
Don’t misunderstand me: I think that what YS did was rotten to the core. It’s beyond despicable to abandon your newborn baby, regardless of the circumstances. However, I think it bears saying it could have been worse. At least YS left BW with JH and didn’t take her to an orphanage or leave her at a church. JH would have lost his mind looking for his daughter! YS must have trusted that JH had his head screwed on straight and would look after BW–and he did. Somehow even with his injured leg, he was able to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Here’s an even worse scenario: What if YS had decided to have an abortion and BW was never born? How awful would that have been? (Note to the younger crowd–watch the 71-year-old B&W film “It’s a Wonderful Life” for a full treatise on the subject of what happens when someone was never born.) For however difficult BW’s life has been, and I think we can all agree she’s had a lot of bad breaks–at least YS gave her a chance at life. Using poverty as a justification for abortion is the pinnacle of elitism and classism. YS made the right choice in that regard. Choosing life is always the best option. Just ask BW–who bravely chose life for her son despite immense pressure to abort him, and the knowledge that they were going to live an impoverished existence for the foreseeable future. BW’s father Jang Ho didn’t give up on their future when faced with difficulties either—and his example might be the best gift he could have ever given his daughter.
WH bails out of the Dragon Queen’s Lair–Round 1:
One thing the writer-nim is particularly skilled at is ramping up the ‘bad’ character’s psychological violence and intimidation toward the ‘good’ characters. It then sets up any future physical violence to have maximum impact on the viewer. Case in point: BW took her specially prepared food to Dragon Queen OHW’s Lair every morning; even turning down both WH and SC who said they would bring the food over. WH then conspired with GJ to keep his momma from finding out it was BW making the delicious meal. As with most lies, this one came to an ignominious end one morning when the all too observant Dragon Queen momma OHW figures it out and confronts GJ who ‘fesses up:
After threatening GJ:
OHW takes off for the front gate:
This actress has beautiful legs–especially for a woman in her late 40’s.
After doing an entire post on shoes in this show, I could not help but take a screencap of the Joseon Dragon Queen’s
Hooves Clogs. The realistic color of these hooves clogs, the faux fur, and the metal studs really complete the look. And with so little to laugh at, it slays me that PD-nim went for another “foot” shot. LOL! He’s got a thing for feet!
OHW then asks BW if she’s trying to poison her! OMG. That’s a horrible thing to accuse someone of, but then again OHW is the one with the poisonous Pufferfish in the dining room, right?! She throws BW’s homecooked food into the street, creating another mess for poor Gang Ja to clean up:
A running theme in this drama is that every evil thing the baddies accuse the good people of doing, they are actually doing it themselves.
OHW then dials up the ugliness. I am sure this next move was directly taken from a sageuk:
After being tipped off by GJ, WH goes outside to watch the trainwreck in person:
Dude, that’s because when you were a Prick, you didn’t notice those kinds of things!
I am good with this scene. WH needs to see just how ugly his mom can act toward BW.
That line makes me think of the classic quote from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”–All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others. I am sure OHW believes that unequivocally.
WH goes toe-to-hoof with his Dragon Queen Momma:
Pffft! All she does is own a few companies!
The Dragon Queen
breathes fire fights back:
That’s when WH utters the same phrase that DJ said when he’d had it up to here with his momma:
And then he’s on the receiving end of a roundhouse slap to the face from his mom!
I really like the cold fury projected here by WH–it’s so much more effective than additional loud screaming:
BW tries to get between them, doing her victim-dance thing by trying to take the blame upon herself, but OHW pushes her away, tells her to break up with WH, and then pulls out another card that makes me lose my marbles:
How ironic. BW could not care less about OHW’s or WH’s money.
(See previous post’s starter story for the reason this sets me off.)
WH is so PO’d, he decides to not go home that night and holes up in his office instead:
PD-nim spends more than a couple of seconds filming a sleeping WH, first from afar, then a bit closer from a different angle, and then a closeup of his face. Very interesting stuff.
Yunno, sleeping like that’s gotta be uncomfortable! He will need the services of a chiropractor in the morning for sure.
There was a discussion on the Soompi forum about why WH didn’t go to a hotel–and the consensus was that he didn’t want to be seen in a hotel. It would only raise speculation about who else was at the hotel with him. I also note that WH didn’t ask SC to hang out at his place, nor did he call up any other friends. My guess is WH’s superficial friends from the Pool ‘Player’s’ Club (pun intended) would not appreciate a call from a broseph in need of a temporary crash pad. I also believe WH knows BW is suffering. Why should he get to kick back in a swanky hotel room? He should suffer a little bit too, and he sleeps in his desk chair with only his jacket to cover him up. Okay, the office is heated and it’s not like he’s camping FCOL–but he could’ve dragged a couch in there to sleep on, or sent one of the secretaries out to buy him a pillow and blanket.
Here’s something interesting: A DVD of “Brooklyn’s Finest” prominently displayed in WH’s office. What’s up with that?
(Heh….it’s kinda cool how the bull looks like he’s standing guard over WH.)
Welcome to another of the writer/PD-nim ‘s awesome prop choices. “Brookyn’s Finest” is a 2010 US film about 3 police officers/detectives from a crime-ridden and impoverished section of NYC’s Brooklyn neighborhood. One narcotics officer is desperate to find his large family a better home, as his kids and pregnant wife are ill from the mold within the walls of their cramped and decaying current home. He proceeds to steal the copious amounts of cash the drug dealers have and kills anyone that gets in his way–his choices justified in his mind by his family’s need. Another officer was deep undercover trying to bust drug dealers, but he finds himself wavering about his commitment to the police department when he has to set up a sting operation targeting a drug dealer who saved his life in the past. The third officer is a week away from retirement, frequents a prostitute, suffers from major burnout/depression issues–and has to mentor a rookie cop. His goal is to survive the streets long enough to cash in on his pension. Doing the right thing is optional; it’s only a good choice if it means he can live another day. Everyone except for the burned out cop dies in a hail of bullets in the end. Ugh. I’m honestly surprised this movie has not been remade in SK. It could be easily set in a crumbling neighborhood in Seoul, with fewer guns and more knives and martial arts moves. It would surely be a hit.
So what does this film have to do with LIDD? If this title was not featured so conspicuously, I might have blown it off. I knew there must be something here that the writer/PD-nim wants us to know. I hesitated to watch the movie but did it anyways. It appeared to be extremely violent, and I don’t need more sleepless nights! (The pain after sinus surgery and another bone graft for my dental implant is bad enough!) I skimmed through it with my hand on the FF button, which I used frequently.
In “Brooklyn’s Finest” each of the three main characters believes that their choices are righteous and justifiable, even if it means committing theft, betrayal, and murder. I think this prop is here as a parallel to show the viewer that for CR, YS and OHW–it’s all about the justification in their minds for their own bad choices in the past and in the present:
- YS justifies abandoning her baby to have a more financially comfortable life with a jealous, hot-tempered and self-centered doctor husband. Looks like a good trade-off to her, looks terrible to everyone else.
- CR justifies wanting WH (note her phone contact for WH: “my man”) because if she wants something, she should get it! She has a right to it because she’s pretty and well educated with a doctor daddy who has raucously spoiled her from Day 1. If BW is in her way, she’ll just kill her! (with the mythical ‘silent’ gun, ROTFLMAO!)
- OHW justifies rejecting BW for her son because of the perceived discrepancies in social status and education and family background between the woman her son wants and the wife she has in mind for him. If it destroys her son–ehh, it’s for his own good! The social connections are more important than her son’s feelings.
- YS justifies helping CR evade prosecution for the DUI hit-and-run murder of JH because she wants CR to accept her as “mom” and because it makes her husband think she’s got everything under control. I wonder if she ever thought the man CR hit had a family who loved him?
- OHW justifies her attitude toward Byeol because she (and her first love) didn’t have the brains or the guts to sort out their own issues of merging families, bringing kids into a second relationship and deciding on the future leadership of the BH Group. What a couple of losers!
I gotta hand it to the writer/PD-nim for another brilliant choice in props. For all that the US movie critics railed on “Brooklyn’s Finest”, the concept of justification must have deeply resonated with the writer/PD-nim for this movie to be included in the drama.
A collision at the intersection of Justification and Delusion:
Ah, here is more background on the meat tampering and bribery issue from a few episodes ago. CR is quite skilled in the art of taking advantage of the poor security guy’s need for additional cash:
One of the strongest running themes in all of DramaLand is the exploitation of the poor and needy by the rich and privileged classes. I am hard pressed to think of a drama that doesn’t have that theme tucked somewhere in the show–if it’s not the basis for the entire drama. She accuses him of trying “to make a fortune” off of her, and once again, I lol at the accusation that he’s trying to exploit her!
Security camera guy grabs CR’s arm and begs her tearfully for more money–his child will get better after the surgery. CR tells him to fuhgeddaboutit and this time Security camera guy is not going down without a fight:
Excuse me while I let out a soft “Woot” here for the cojones this guy has in dealing with CR. I like this. CR is not impressed–and she isn’t going down alone:
**low growl** She’s probably right. OHW would fire this guy in a second over CR. CR tells him that she’ll be forgiven after she apologizes–but he won’t:
CR tells him to buzz off and walks away. Heh—here comes SC! He was listening in the stairwell to this charming conversation. /sarc
SC wastes no words with the security guy:
And the confession is immediate:
SC summons CR to his office aka the mailroom. That’s a great move; don’t go to enemy territory. Always use the home field advantage! He asks her about the earrings she’s wearing–Weren’t those the same ones that he found in the lab? She sure wears them a lot. Why didn’t she notice they were missing for days? Maybe it was because….
CR denies it strongly and says she had lost the earrings days before. She goes to leave, but SC blocks her path–and shows her the Flash Drive with the incriminating evidence:
Side note: I admit to being slightly disappointed about the boring black and silver flash drive. I was hoping they would use something ultra cool, like the Pretty Pink Flash Drive in Secret Love Affair. The lovely engraved filigree-like flowers on the bright pink case were such a great contrast to the rotten and incriminating evidence that was contained within that drive. I have looked high and low, and never have I seen a flash drive like that one for sale anywhere. Believe me–if I could find it, it would be in my Kdrama Trinket Collection, along with my (current) WH keychain, the whistle necklace from Angel Eyes, and the brown plaid handkerchief from SLA. If a drama merits a trinket–you better believe it’s one of my faves.
In the deepest state of denial, CR thinks SC is bluffing:
SC seems to have almost unlimited patience with CR. He wants her to tell him the truth–too bad it won’t happen. He grabs her by the shoulders:
Then the subbers blow the moment to smithereens!
OMG. Knowing she’s up Shyte Creek, she falls back on addressing SC like they are still boyfriend and girlfriend! I am sure she is trying to manipulate him and bring back memories of the good times when they dated years and years ago. Thankfully, SC is over that mega-dysfunctional relationship! He takes off and CR catches up to him in the elevator, asking him if he’s gonna tell WH. SC is not budging: SC even adds that it’s his duty to tell WH! CR says that if WH knows, then OHW will know–and the result will be…
CR knows that SC’s biggest weakness is that he’s softhearted. Oh wait….maybe not!
Whaaat?? Did SC just undergo a personality transplant?! But then he refocuses on CR’s part in this incident:
This next part is very interesting. CR’s eyes kind of lose focus and dart around. It looks like she’s fighting the delusion for a second. Then again, maybe it’s an act. I had to watch it several times and I still can’t say for sure one way or the other.
SC asks the semi-rhetorical question, “How could you do that to someone?”, but that seems to give CR the chance to dive back into the delusional pool and grab SC’s arm as she goes under. She reminds SC that by tattling on her, the security dude will be fired. He throws her hands off him, but I can see his soft heart is winning the battle and losing the war at the same time. She calls him “Oppa” again (!) which is also not subbed correctly and begs him not to tell. CR promises:
**snort** Let’s see how this works out!
Hang in there with me while I recover from surgery, get my daughter moved out, my cell-phone service fixed, and have a new toilet installed so I don’t have to deal with a wonky potty! Like BW, I am fighting on multiple fronts right now. There’s still more interesting stuff to come!