Repairing the damage, one scene at a time:
A very popular pastime during American Football season is to sit back in a recliner chair and second-guess your favorite team’s quarterback. Even if you never played football yourself, it’s easy to look at the TV, listen to the commentators, and imagine how the play should have happened versus how it actually occurred; that is, in real time and with fallible human beings who are making decisions under vast amounts of pressure and with information viewers are not aware of.
I am finding that I am also highly prone to second-guessing the writers of Kdramas, even though I have only taken 2 semesters of college level English (35 years ago) and have exactly zero personal experience writing, editing or publishing short stories, screenplays–or any other kind of fiction. (Fan Fiction doesn’t count!)
I am not writing under pressure from bosses or viewers, or with the cultural knowledge of what would and would not work in Korea–in fact, my Western Culture-Locked brain shows the inherent bias I have. I also don’t have pressure put on me to figure out how to include all the PPL that is needed for the cast and crew to get paid at the end of the day either. I admire other bloggers (like Kay over at Kdrama Kisses) who have written stories and been published. I can’t even dream that big.
What I do like to do is play Armchair Quarterback, Kdrama style, and rewrite scenes so they make more sense to me, or add in more detail and thoughts. As I’ve said before: Corrective Fan Fiction is a no-experience-needed endeavor. All that’s needed is a little logic and reason mixed with some minor creativity.
I believe that LIDD could have been improved upon at several different points, thus alleviating the high level of current viewer frustration. Perhaps if WH had bailed out of the house for good the second time when he went to stay with SC and the Yoons for a day or two, things might be different. If he had put his foot down then and told his mom that he loved her, but he was getting his own residence and moving out for the foreseeable future, I think a lot of us would not be so up in arms right now.
I also think that if WH had sold all his BH Group shares and decided to start a restaurant on his own he might have shown BW that he was serious about protecting her from the wrath of his mom and that his momma had lost her influence on him. It would be a mistake to go into a direct competition with BH Group. He’d lose that battle in a heartbeat (pun intended) so he would need to start at the local neighborhood level and work up. Cutting financial ties with OHW and BH Group would be an important element for WH. He’s always had a cushy financial life and has no idea what things cost (like the shoes in Dongdaemun). He’d have some startup capital if he sold those shares, and I think he would quickly appreciate how much money, hard work, and thought has to go into opening a restaurant. From getting the right equipment to hiring quality people he can trust, to creating a menu, and finding the ingredients–WH would get a crash course in being a small business owner/entrepreneur. It would make him a more compassionate boss going forward too.
A great alternative idea to salvage LIDD was proposed by Soompi forum member @angelwingssf. Her proposition was to have BW get pregnant with WH’s baby. Now that event would really unleash the demons in OHW and CR. First of all, CR would melt down with jealousy. Byeol would be thrilled to have a sibling. WH would go all-out protect the mother of his child and also be ecstatic to have a child on the way. The Yoons would be protective of BW and pleased with the arrival of another grandchild; I don’t think they would care if he/she was not technically blood-related either. Knowing BW, they would still be considered grandparents, regardless–and WH would be 100% on board for that.
I could see the possibility of WH and BW going away for some kind of work related trip together. They have time to talk out their issues and ultimately they decide to stick together and quietly register their marriage in another city. The plan is to keep it a secret until his mom relents. They ‘celebrate’ the honeymoon and voila–Here comes the
baby stork! (It’s a family drama, yunno!) This would put a new level of pressure on OHW to accept their relationship, although OHW would put twice the amount of coercion on BW to abort the baby, or give the baby away, and/or leave WH than DJ’s mom ever did. No fear though–that would never happen, just like it didn’t happen the first time around–because if I wrote this story, BW would not lose her strong-willed nature, nor would WH suddenly lose half his IQ!
It’s a shame the writer-nim didn’t go for a straight-up parallel story of BW-DJ and their melodramatic start and then revisit that same story with a few twists for the BW-WH pairing. Yes, it might have been really obvious to the viewer, but the details about how it happened and a few twists thrown in here and there might have kept viewers on their toes, and eliminated the need for distraction storylines that went nowhere–like having WK’s ex-husband come back for a half dozen episodes to do absolutely nothing.
This particular scene in Episode 104 irks me because I had really hoped to see WH’s heart from DJ turn toward Byeol. The strong father-son bond would give him a much-needed shot of courage to deal with his Dragon Queen momma. In earlier episodes, WH’s heart fluttered when he held Byeol close to his chest. I also hoped to have the smartphone watch that WH gave Byeol be a way that WH and Byeol could keep in communication without the knowledge of the Dragon Queen, CR or even BW, who would undoubtedly ban its use because of the potential negative consequences if YS/OHW/CR found out.
Here’s the first mistake–WH can’t keep his mouth shut in front of CR!
**facepalm** Writer-nim! Could you not have WH simply mumble “Yes” into the phone, and then tell CR he has to take this important call (and it is very important) elsewhere?! Sheesh! Now CR’s cunning brain goes into overdrive mode, complete with automated eye-widening feature:
Great. /sarc The last person on earth (besides OHW) that WH needs to inform that he’s seeing Byeol is CR. Then he stupidly reveals his destination:
Crap! Now she knows for sure he’s gonna be seeing Byeol soon. The next logical step in her mind is:
**face-palm** I cannot say enough how much I hate that the writer has made WH suddenly stupid as he sleepwalks through life, and has trashed the once stubborn and resilient personality of BW.
Even worse–he made the once prickly and independent ahjussi dentist who had strong moral principles that I loved into a wussy sort of bloke who enjoys his new easy life with WK. WW is suddenly perfectly fine with being fully financially supported by his wife and new in-laws as he lives in a virtual palace. He must have had a personality transplant or a ‘principles extraction’ procedure to be able to stomach life in that house and give up the precious freedom his rooftop abode provided–including being able to write in his boxers and a throw blanket at all hours of the day and night. It also grieves me no end that he’s completely backing his crazy niece and her stepmom. 😦 I can only hope he does an about-face when presented with the facts at a later date.
WH’s phone rings as he walks into BH Group with CR. He answers the phone carefully, as the caller ID lets him know it’s Byeol. “Hello?”
“Woo Hyuk-ahjussi, it’s me.”
“Ah, yes. Hold on for one second.” WH turned to CR and said, “Go up without me. I need to take this important call.” He turned and abruptly walked back toward the door, leaving CR looking puzzled, but after a moment she shrugged it off and went back to her office.
WH walked to the front of the lobby and away from the main entrance where a security guard might hear his conversation. “Byeol-ah! I’m so happy you called me today. Any special reason?”
“Can you come by my daycare this afternoon? It’s been so long since I’ve seen you, and I have something I want to give you.”
“Of course. I’d love to!” Hearing Byeol’s voice made WH realize how much he missed seeing him every day before school, and on the weekends with BW. WH really liked this boy. He seemed so bright; he did well at school and he was always kind and thinking of others….just like his mom. He walked back to the elevator and got into his car. He knew that he needed to tell Byeol that it was going to be a long time before they could meet again, and that thought brought a lump to his throat.
Side note: After finding a new program and a WordPress site upgrade, I can now make better video clips–although I still have plenty of room for improvement! Tech Level: still at Advanced Halmoni! I hope I don’t get in trouble for posting these small clips of the scene where WH visits Byeol at the daycare, and the confrontation with BW/SC. Proper credit: All video clips here are from myasiantv.me
Let’s look at a couple of video clips so you can recall the scene, and then under each one, I will change things up and add a little bit to the dialogue. This is the first time I’ve ever attempted to write a dialogue between more than two characters as well.
WH waited outside the daycare for Byeol. He checked his watch. It was still early in the afternoon and there should be plenty of time to see Byeol before BW or his grandmother picked him up from school. WH knew that if BW saw him at the school, he’d get a scolding–and it wold be twice as bad if her mother-in-law was there.
The teachers at Byeol’s kindergarten recognized him right away, and he was thankful they didn’t ask why he had not visited Byeol recently. Byeol ran out the door at full speed once he saw WH, and jumped into his arms. “Ahjussi!” Byeol was quickly lifted up into WH’s arms. He had a big smile on his face. WH’s heart seemed to thump in his chest as he held Byeol in his arms. He noticed that Byeol seemed heavier today than he had before too.
“Please send him back in when you’re done,” said Byeol’s teacher, and WH agreed.
“Have you been well?” WH took a closer look at Byeol as he put him back on the ground. He was growing so fast, and his new haircut made him look less like a toddler and much more grown up.
“Why did you ask me to rush over here? Your class isn’t over yet.”
“I wanted to give you this,” Byeol handed WH a rolled up sheet of heavy paper. On it was Byeol’s crayon drawing of one of their kite-flying days together at the park. The words under the colorful picture said–
Dear Woo Hyuk-ahjussi, Thank you. -Byeol-
WH felt his throat close up again, and he struggled to keep his composure in front of Byeol. A simple day spent together flying kites had made this boy so happy. Then again, flying kites with his Dad were some of the happiest memories WH had of his father.
“Why are you giving this to me?”
“Today in class we had to make a picture card to people we are thankful for.”
“You picked me?” WH was surprised. Shouldn’t he have picked his mother or grandparents who did things for him every day? But Byeol was a step ahead of him.
“I can see my mom and my grandparents every day,” said Byeol. “I can thank them in person. But I can’t see you every day anymore. That’s why you should take this.” WH could hear the sadness in his voice.
WH realized that having BW call off their engagement and break up with him had the effect of breaking off the relationship between him and Byeol too. He loved this little guy, not just because he was BW’s son, or because of his bright personality. There was something else between them–a feeling of closeness and understanding that WH could not explain in words. Maybe it was because Byeol didn’t have a father either, WH thought.
“I’m so thankful that you picked me.” WH looked at the picture again. How would going to the US keep him from missing BW and Byeol? It had only been a few weeks since he stopped greeting them both every morning at the Kindergarten. Already he could see that Byeol was growing up and changing. He knew in three years, Byeol would be in the middle of elementary school. How much more would he change by then? Moving to the US to start over seemed like the right idea. Seeing BW at work twice or three times a week for meetings was always painful as he had to act cool and detached when he really wanted a day just to be alone with her. But now that she was dating SC, that idea would never come to fruition. Why didn’t he take a harder line with his mom before things got out of control like this? He should have tried harder to convince BW to register their marriage and live together with Byeol at the home he bought right before they broke up.
“Ahjussi?” Byeol’s voice broke into his thoughts. “My mom said I shouldn’t call you and bother you. But it’s not bothering you if I just call you once in a while, is it?” Byeol looked so hopeful.
“Did your mom say not to call me?”
Byeol looked downcast as he said, “I hope I don’t get in trouble today. I wanted to see you because you don’t come by my school in the morning anymore.”
“I know, Byeol-ah,” WH ran his fingers through his hair, trying to find the right words to put Byeol’s mind at ease.
“Can we plan a day to go fly kites again? It can just be you and me….I know my mom and you aren’t friends anymore. But it’s okay–we can still be friends, right?”
“Byeol-ah, I….I want you to know. I like being with you–and your mom. It’s that…” WH stopped and tried to think of a way to tell him that it wasn’t that they couldn’t be friends. Soon he would have a step-father. WH knew SC would be good to Byeol. Even so, the painful images that his mind created of SC doing all the family things together that he wanted to do with BW and Byeol made him feel like he was in a black hole. He wasn’t sure if BW and SC had told Byeol yet about their engagement, so he decided to not mention it. Once again, Byeol was way ahead of him–
“Did you and my mom decide not to be friends…” Byeol’s voice began to waver. “… because…because your mom doesn’t like me?”
WH drew in a deep breath. “No, it’s not that. That’s not the problem…It’s very complicated. My mom….” What could WH say that would not allow Byeol to know how his mom was forced to choose between marrying WH and staying with her son? It still shocked him that his mom could be so cruel. “My mom has a hard time accepting things when she thinks they should be another way. It’s not you. Don’t ever think that.” WH felt bad at having to not be completely truthful with Byeol. “Let’s go over here to the courtyard and talk some more.”
Let’s pick up again after BW and SC decided to check in on Byeol at his school. They are on their way as Byeol and WH continue their conversation:
“I have something for you too,” WH took out a blue bag and handed it to Byeol.
Byeol opened the bag and looked inside. It was filled with children’s toothbrushes in many different colors; some even had cartoon characters on them that Byeol recognized. “Why did you get me so many toothbrushes?”
“It’s because I haven’t seen you in a while. And the next time will be after a much longer time, so I’m giving you these now as a gift.” WH struggled with the words, but it was no match for the sadness he saw fall over Byeol’s face.
“We can’t see each other until I’m finished using all these?”
“Uh…yeah, I think so.”
“Are you going somewhere far away?”
WH knew this would be a difficult conversation to have, but he had underestimated exactly how difficult. “Uh…I have to take a plane and go somewhere far for work. But while I’m gone, you can call me on your watch and we can talk.”
“Hurry and finish your work, so you can come back soon. I want to go fly kites with you and have a picnic at the park. I’ll ask my mom to make kimbap.”
“Byeol-ah.” WH and Byeol both turned to see BW and SC standing a few feet away. WH inwardly groaned at his bad luck today, and he knew by the way BW had said Byeol’s name that she was not pleased with either of them right now.
BW walked over and stood next to Byeol. “What are you doing here? Why did you come here to see Byeol?”
Before WH could even get a word out, Byeol answered for him. “Don’t be mean to Woo Hyuk-ahjussi. I called and asked him to come here.”
BW scolded WH: “I know he asked you. But you shouldn’t have come. You should have strictly told him not to call you anymore.”
WH knew this might be his last chance to salvage any kind of relationship with Byeol. “I’m sorry. I really wanted to see Byeol today. I miss not seeing him every morning at Kindergarten.” It was all WH could do to not add that he missed seeing the both of them like crazy.
BW seemed really angry with him today as she continued to scold him: “Why do you always do whatever you feel like? Don’t you know what you’re doing makes other people misunderstand us and hurt us in the end? I hope I won’t have to see you like this anymore.”
“What about Byeol? Isn’t he more important to you than anyone else? He’s important to me and that’s why I came over here to visit him when he asked me to.” WH tried to keep his voice level and calm, but it was a losing battle. “And don’t worry. I’m leaving soon for the States so you and I won’t have to run into each other.”
WH thought for a second he could hear the longing and regret in her voice, but he pushed down that wishful thought. “Byeol can call me on his phone and talk to me and you won’t need to be involved. No one else will know either.”
“You say that now, but how can I believe you? Don’t you think it’s been hard for me to keep hearing him ask about when he can see you again even…even if he knows the two of us aren’t together?” BW knew very well how much Byeol missed WH. Even with SC and his grandfather and uncle around, it was WH that Byeol seemed to want to spend time with more than anyone else in his life. “I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I’m sick of being hurt.”
“Once I’m in the US, there won’t be any reason for you to be hurt anymore. Let me be a friend to Byeol. Even if he’s going to have ah…a stepfather, and–” WH couldn’t finish the sentence. BW took Byeol’s hand and walked back inside the school with him.
BW took several deep breaths as she entered the school with Byeol’s hand in hers. Every time she saw WH, she felt like crying. Byeol was watching her closely, so she pulled herself together and held back the tears. “What did I say last time? Didn’t I tell you not to call WH?”
Byeol’s upper lip began to quiver. “But Mom, I miss having fun days with him and you. And he doesn’t say ‘Good Morning’ to me at school anymore. My friends keep asking me why he never shows up anymore.”
BW knew that breaking up with WH had been hard for Byeol. Now she knew it had been worse that she thought. “You can’t just call him whenever you want. I know you miss him, but he has a job like me and now that we aren’t friends anymore, other people could think it was strange if he came to your school every day.”
Byeol started to cry. “I don’t care what those people think!”
BW put her arms around her son and hugged him close. “I know, I know. But those people could make things bad for you here at school and for me at work.”
Byeol took off the watch and handed it to his mom. “Here. You said you would take it away if I called Woo Hyuk-ahjussi again.”
BW took the watch and put it in her purse. “I’ll take it away for a week while I think about a way you can call him without interrupting his day. I need some time to think about this.” BW was not sure how they could pull this off, but she hoped that taking away the watch would buy some time. Perhaps if she erased WH’s number from the watch that would help. “Now go back to class,” She said as she smoothed his hair and took a handkerchief from her purse to dry his face. “Grandmother will pick you up later today, and I’ll see you tonight when I get home.”
Byeol gave his mom one last hug before he went back to his classroom, and BW sighed as she went back to the courtyard.
SC had been standing back watching all of this unfold, and when BW left with Byeol, he came over to talk to WH. WH watched BW and Byeol go in the school.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think I’d run into BW because it wasn’t time to pick Byeol up from school yet.”
“We were on our way to the restaurant, and just decided to drop by. It was bad timing.”
“I hope there’s no misunderstanding.”
There was an awkward silence for a moment. SC knew what he had to say to WH. “No, but there is one misunderstanding I do want to clear up before you leave for the US.”
“What’s that?” WH asked. “Is there a problem at the restaurant?”
“No, that’s not it. It’s…” SC hesitated because he knew why BW had made it seem like she was dating him, even if it wasn’t true. “…the ring. The ring BW is wearing is her late husband’s ring.” He looked down to avoid seeing the confusion in WH’s eyes.
“What? She didn’t accept your proposal? I thought you two were…”
“We decided to stay as friends. It’s probably for the best.” SC knew BW’s heart still loved WH, but it hurt too much to say it out loud.
WH felt like a weight was lifted from his shoulders. “I didn’t know. But thank you for telling me.”
SC nodded his head and looked up at WH as he said, “Don’t think that I won’t keep looking out for BW–and for Byeol too. That’s why she’s so worried someone might see you visit Byeol or hear about you calling him. Your mom has hurt them both so many times, and you never seem to do anything about it. I won’t let it happen again, whether you are around or not.”
“You still have feelings for her, don’t you?” WH regretted his jealous words the second they left his mouth, but he couldn’t help himself.
“That’s for me to deal with,” SC ground out the words as he looked away from WH. “I can’t watch her cry anymore. The other night after you left the restaurant she told me that she hated lying to you, but she wanted you to give up on her because of your mother.”
WH knew his mother was the reason BW was not with him right now. She would not be the one who took him away from his mother. And his mother knew BW would never leave Byeol to marry him either. Why was she pretending to date SC while wearing her late husband’s ring? Did she think that would allow him to start over because she had moved on? That will never happen he thought. No woman had captured his heart like BW, and no woman ever would. He planned on remaining single for the rest of his days after he got to NY. Although he said it would be a three-year stay, he didn’t ever want to return to Korea and risk the chance of running into BW and Byeol and reopening the wound in his heart. But now that he knew SC and BW were not romantically involved, maybe he could stay here in Korea. There might be another way to go around his mom–but he was going to have to figure out a way to do it himself and not involve BW or Byeol.
WH nodded. “I understand. I’ll be leaving now.” He turned to go just as BW came back out of the Kindergarten. She looked at SC briefly before turning to WH, but before she could say anything, WH said to BW, “Please don’t scold Byeol too much. And don’t take his watch away–when I’m in the US, I’ll text you and we can agree on a time so Byeol can call me once a week. That way, you’ll know–and it won’t be in the middle of my night or his.”
“I know you feel very close to Byeol. But I can’t have this sneaking around going on. And SC will be his stepfather, so…”
SC interrupted as he shook his head. “BW, he knows. We are friends and that’s all.”
BW looked shocked. “SC, why did you tell him?” Then she turned to WH. “Give up. Go back to your mother. She will never accept Byeol and I will never leave my son–for you or anyone else! Do you not understand that?”
Now that WH knew BW and SC were not romantically involved, it gave him more courage to face the problem head-on. “I may not be able to control my mother’s behavior, or yours either for that matter. But I can control mine. And I’m not giving up on the two of us. Not today, and not ever. If you really don’t want me to contact Byeol, I won’t. But what harm would it be for me to call him once in a while?” WH thought if he could talk to Byeol on a regular basis, Byeol could tell him how BW was doing–and he could relay messages through Byeol to BW as well. One day, maybe she would even talk with him when she felt safe enough.
SC spoke to BW: “It would probably be okay. Byeol would feel very sad if he couldn’t at least talk to WH once in a while. He’ll be in the US, and how would anyone find out there?” He turned to WH and said: “You should get a separate phone in the US that will just be for you to call Byeol. If your mom ever decides to go digging through the records there won’t be anything to link his phone to you.” SC knew his boss had not been thinking straight since the breakup, and he seemed to have blinders on when it came to his mom. SC had no such delusions about OHW. That woman was as methodical and thorough as the day was long.
Then SC turned back to BW saying: “Don’t worry. It’s been tough on Byeol with everything that’s happened. Let them at least have this.” SC knew very well that Byeol had missed WH–they had talked about it several times when he watched Byeol when BW had errands to run on the weekends. Byeol’s persistent questions about the situation proved that he was indeed aware that something was painfully wrong with his mom and WH’s relationship.
WH said, “That’s a good idea. I will send a message with my new number when I get to New York.” If I get to New York, he thought. Maybe a separate phone here would work too. And a separate home. WH began to realize it was time to move out of his mom’s house and make a home of his own. It would be better to have his own place where he could speak to whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted–and without fear of being overheard. There would be no one to ask why he was late arriving home, what he was eating, or who he was with. It was a sure thing that his mom was going to give him grief about it. But in the end, what could she do if he made the decision? And he already had the home bought and paid for too. It would be a shame to put the house back on the market again, and it was such a lucky find too. The kitchen was very large, and WH intended on refurbishing it with the latest appliances to make it perfect for BW.
BW thought about it as she looked at SC, and then at WH. “When you get to New York, then you can call him. It’s too risky as long as you are here.”
“I’ll do that,” WH said. “I’ll see you both later.”
“We’ll leave now.” SC and BW walked back to SC’s car and WH went to sit down on a bench for a moment to think.
Yes, I know the issue of WH finding out about BW wearing DJ’s ring was resolved in Ep. 108. However, it didn’t have to be as dragged out as it was. It seemed like the meetup at the school courtyard gave WH and SC some time to hash out a few things, but the writer chose to not take advantage of it.
That being said, the meeting between WH and SC at the coffee shop in Episode 108 will be the subject of my next post, because it is awesome and rage-inducing all in one shot!
Is the bromance broken beyond repair? Is a decent ending still in the cards for LIDD? Is it too much for me to expect an ending that is in the Epic category; one that makes me stand up, cheer, and holler at the screen even without coffee? I must be as crazy as CR for holding out hope for this drama!