Korean Movie Stories

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 11

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I was really annoyed with Episode 11 for the first half. I mean, REALLY dissatisfied. What happened to character continuity, yo?

At least the second half made it better. Not ALL better, but it helped erase the irritation wrought by the first part.

(The viewers didn’t seem to mind, though — yet again, ratings hit a new high with a 31.5%. Also, I have noticed the music is improved in this episode.)

 

EPISODE 11 RECAP

 

Thinking to do something nice for Jan-di, Jun-pyo supplies the pool with scented salts, soap, and froofy spa items. Does he think she’s going to be settling in for a foaming bubble bath in a chlorinated pool? I suppose when you harbor a pathological fear of swimming, you end up hazy on the concept.

Yi-jung notices that he doesn’t seem happy. Jun-pyo answers, “I’m annoyed that this is all I can do for her.”

At the tawdry Enjoy Productions, Jan-di is persuaded to pose for what she is told is an academy (hagwon) brochure, despite the obvious warning signs. If the skeezy lighting and set decoration weren’t warning enough, aren’t the stuffed animals in fetishwear a telltale clue? I’m convinced that Episode 11 Jan-di is part cute tough girl, part idiot. Actually, minus the tough.

The shoot starts off tame enough — she’s dressed in a school uniform but asked to wear bunny ears — and then the two pervy ajusshis ask her to change into her next costume. Thankfully the writer remembers that Jan-di at least has half a brain, because she puts her foot down at the playboy bunny outfit.

The creepy men insist she continue and advance slowly, jazz hands waggling like they’re about to tickle her to death. Jan-di apparently forgets she is master of the high-flying spinning back kick, because all she does is shrink back and cower (what, did she lose part of her courage along with part of her brain?), waiting for someone to save her.

 

Thankfully, someone does. This is a guy she had bumped into on her way inside the building, who for whatever reason has sensed her trouble. He grabs Jan-di and ushers her outside.

He walks her home but declines to identify himself, saying that they’ll be meeting soon anyway, at which time he’ll introduce himself properly. He leaves saying, “Good night, Geum Jan-di sshi.”

Ga-eul and Jan-di puzzle over how her “black knight” knows her. Then Ga-eul and their boss drool over a hot new model on TV, the mysterious “Haje” (pronounced “ha jay”). Gee, I wonder who that could be.

At school, Jan-di’s grumbling stomach and the wafting smell of food lead her to an empty storeroom, where ramen is cooking. She calls out a greeting (and gets no response), then sneaks a taste because she’s starving. Uh, I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea to eat anything out of an unknown pot in an unknown room, but like I said, it’s like Jan-di’s half-brain-dead for this episode. She eats.

The ramen owner/cooker walks in, catching her mid-bite — and she recognizes him as the black knight. This is Lee Jae-ha, looking mighty different from the cool, collected guy who’d helped her. He addresses Jan-di as “sunbae” (he’s a first-year, so probably 16 or 17) and confesses he’s her fan, seeing how she stood up to F4 like a “commoners’ hero.”

 

Jae-ha explains that he intentionally adopted a nerdy appearance at school, wanting to go unnoticed, since he doesn’t care for any of the people here anyway. Jan-di laughs because she can identify with that, and Jae-ha eagerly agrees that they’re from the same world. Since she was looking for work, he mentions a decent-paying gig doing errands at a photo shoot, which she accepts.

Jae-ha acts the part of the unassuming outsider when he bumps into Jun-pyo and apologizes profusely — but we see a flash of something darker when he glares at Jun-pyo’s back.

 

Jun-pyo comments how he’s barely seen Jan-di recently, and intends to whisk her off to Hokkaido for a short weekend jaunt. Thinking of her new job, Jan-di fumbles for an excuse, seizing on Ga-eul’s birthday — it’s their long-standing tradition for her to spend the night.

(I can see why she’d be uncomfortable telling Jun-pyo the truth — she may just not want him to worry after declining his financial help. But if this is her intention, the drama shows it poorly — because by lying, it makes it seem this is about Jae-ha more than the job, which makes me very, very cranky with Jan-di.)

Disappointed, Jun-pyo grumbles, “Am I more important, or Ga-eul?” Immediately, she answers, “Ga-eul,” then forces a laugh and promises to call.

 

On his way to his studio, Yi-jung spots Ga-eul at the door and keeps himself out of view as she walks away, watching her leave with a troubled expression. On the doorstep, he finds a bag she’d left, and the contents bring a smile to his face.

Yi-jung heads to a cake shop to buy a red heart-shaped cake, then catches up to Ga-eul on the street corner. She must be the slooooowest walker ever. Presenting her with the cake and flowers, he wishes her a happy birthday (to which she responds, “Huh?”).

 

Okay, this modeling job irritated me because it makes Jan-di seem like an idiot. First, she arrives with the nerdy Jae-ha, surprised that everyone knows him so well. Her job is to organize the jumbled clothing, and she looks at Jae-ha in shock when he walks out dolled up as Haje, looking hot and broody in his studded black leather and guyliner.

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Although Jan-di had seen through the nerd glasses to recognize her dark knight, apparently she could not connect the dots to link her dark knight to Haje. (Ha-jae = Jae-ha, get it?)

 

After Haje’s shoot ends, the photographer asks who Jan-di is (Haje replies, “My girlfriend”; Jan-di contradicts him). The photographer comments on how good they look together and asks if Jan-di’s interested in modeling. Haje still needs a partner for an upcoming shoot, and they like how Jan-di looks with him.

When she hears how much the job pays, Jan-di agrees.

 

  

At Ji-hoo’s place, Jun-pyo stews over being pushed aside for Ga-eul, and how Jan-di’s always busy with activities except meeting him. Ji-hoo lets Jun-pyo rant, but his observant eye is drawn to Haje’s CF on television, and seems to recognize him.

Jun-pyo falls asleep in Ji-hoo’s bed, and Ji-hoo tucks him in. It’s cute, and I expect Jun-hoo (Ji-pyo?) fanvids any moment now.

After the photo shoot, Jae-ha and Jan-di chat over ramen in the early dawn hours. He mentions that his older brother would have liked Jan-di too, so she comments that they must be close. Turns out that his brother — his only family — is ill and currently receiving medical care.

Jae-ha gives her the gist of his family history while accompanying her on her morning deliveries (and we get some cute/appropriate music for once). His father was a rich lawyer who fooled around with a poor girl, and he and his brother resulted from the affair. Jan-di feels pity for him, but his glass is half-full — at least he didn’t grow up into a materialistic snob.

 

They’re chatting pleasantly when Ji-hoo pulls up on his motorcycle. Jae-ha starts to introduce himself politely, but Ji-hoo ignores this and fixes a disapproving (?) look on Jan-di. He tells her, “Jun-pyo came by last night. He was unhappy at being passed over for Ga-eul.”

Jan-di starts to explain, but Ji-hoo continues, “I’ll pretend I didn’t see you today.” He zooms off, leaving Jan-di feeling guilty — but Jae-ha smiles to himself behind her back.

  

The guys wonder at the change in Jun-pyo, who’s no longer ranting and raving. Jun-pyo reveals his new strategy — he’ll play hard to get and make her uneasy. (The others all think he’s bound for failure.)

Woo-bin notices Yi-jung wearing his… whaddayacallem… arm socks? Disembodied sleeves? Yi-jung doesn’t explain that they’re a gift from Ga-eul, answering, “They’re a little tacky, but they’re pretty warm.”

 

The school is abuzz when the magazine comes out featuring Jan-di and Haje’s photo on the cover (notice the mag is named Group 7. Ha.). The Jin-Sun-Mi trio are sick with envy over Jan-di’s inexplicable pull with Jun-pyo, Ji-hoo, and now their beloved Haje: “After you stole F4 away, Haje was the one person who gave us hope in our pain!”

Haje/Jae-ha interrupts: “I don’t really care about giving you guys hope.” He’s here in his Haje persona, and steps inside to take Jan-di by the hand, and lead her outside.

 

Students burst into F4’s private classroom to show Jun-pyo the magazine. Seeing Jan-di on the cover, dressed only in a man’s shirt and looking cozy with Haje, his eyes widen in shock. Jun-pyo throws the magazine and storms out.

He comes upon Jan-di with Jae-ha, and confronts her angrily, asking if she’d avoided him so she could be with “trash” like Jae-ha.

He sneers, “Geum Jan-di, you sure have grown up. Now that you’ve appeared in a magazine, do you think of yourself as some kind of successful model? Tell me — is the reason you couldn’t go with me to Hokkaido because you were doing stuff like this with him?”

 

Unable to deny it, Jan-di remains silent. Jun-pyo continues sarcastically: “Why don’t you insist that he’s Ga-eul? Or was it his birthday that day?”

Jan-di: “I’m sorry for lying. I was wrong. I’ll explain everything.” But Jae-ha laughs then, infuriating Jun-pyo.

Jun-pyo: “Did you just laugh?”
Jae-ha: “It’s a little funny. Do you have so little confidence with the girl you like? And before getting jealous, shouldn’t you first find out what situation your girl is in?”

 

It’s not like there’s a good thing to say to Jun-pyo at this moment, but that’s REALLY the wrong thing. Jun-pyo beats up Jae-ha, who doesn’t put up much of a fight.

Jun-pyo demands, “What do you know, to talk like that?!” Jae-ha tells him, “Jan-di sunbae is wasted on the likes of you.”

That only pisses Jun-pyo off more, and he continues punching Jae-ha until Jan-di bursts out, “Stop!” Nice of you to step in so quickly there, Jan-di. Maybe if you’d reacted a few minutes earlier instead of just standing there dumbly, you could have actually done some good.

 

Jun-pyo stops hitting Jae-ha, gets up, and approaches her as she explains, “He helped me outside of school. And he was a friend at school, the only person I connected with.” Even I winced at that. (Also: Jun-pyo aside, what about Mr. Soulmate, Ji-hoo?)

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Jun-pyo asks: “The only one?” Grabbing her by the jacket, he barely keeps his temper in check, demanding, “What is that bastard to you?”

Fighting tears, Jan-di says, “I’m tired. I want to stop now.” He shouts her name in disbelief, as she continues, “I want to go back to before I knew F4 and Gu Jun-pyo.”

Jun-pyo lets go of her, and stalks off without another word. F3 follows him silently, with Ji-hoo pausing to give her a look.

And I say: WUT THE…? I suppose now she’s lost part of her heart to go with her missing brain and courage. Now all she needs is some tricked-out ruby shoes to get back home.

I do not understand Jan-di in this moment, at all. NOT ONE BIT. If the first half of the episode had been devoted to their relationship obstacles and Jan-di’s struggles (like in Episode 10), her defeated statement of wanting to quit might make a teensy bit of sense. But she has just hurt Jun-pyo — having LIED to him, making him look like a fool in front of the school, caught holding another guy’s hand — and THIS is when she’s too tired of their relationship to continue?

DOES. NOT. COMPUTE.

 

Well, she asked for it: Jan-di is delivered a second red card. Jae-ha comes up to her clutching his own red card, and assures her, “Don’t worry, now I’ll protect you.”

The cruel pranks resume, such as her desk being removed from class. Locating it outside, Jan-di pushes the desk back toward the building, when Jae-ha darts out and cries, “It’s dangerous!”

 

Jae-ha pushes her back just as a heavy potted plant crashes down from the second floor, toppling the desk.

Grimly, he tells her this is Jun-pyo’s doing. He points to the landing above, just outside F4’s private classroom. In disbelief, Jan-di shakes her head, saying, “No, he wouldn’t do that.”

After she leaves, Ji-hoo inspects the broken pot.

Finding Jan-di on her paper route, Ji-hoo explains that he’s known Jun-pyo for fifteen years: “I don’t think anyone can know someone completely. But I believe I know what kind of person he is. Do you think Jun-pyo’s behind it?”

Jan-di answers, “I want to believe in him.” Ji-hoo: “Whether you believe him or not is up to you. But did you send him away because of that guy?” Ji-hoo tells her that he didn’t pursue her because of Jun-pyo: “Don’t make me regret it.”

 

A notice on the chalkboard indicates that class has been moved to the science lab. The lab turns out to be empty, but Jan-di waits around, not noticing when a canister of gas rolls inside, slowly filling the room with its fumes.

When Jan-di does notice the smoke/vapor, she scrambles for the door, which is locked. All the windows have been nailed shut as well, so she pounds on the windows and screams for somebody to save her. BREAK THE DAMN GLASS, idiot. But it wouldn’t be a Jan-di crisis if she didn’t wait for a hero to save her instead of actually using her brains to save herself, right? This kind of stupidity needs its own name: Jan-distress (as in, damsel in)? Jan-disaster?

 

Jan-di coughs and collapses on the ground as Jae-ha runs up in the nick of time, smashes the window, and saves her. As he carries her off, he reminds her, “I told you I’d protect you.”

He takes her home, where he lingers over her as he puts her to bed, about to steal a kiss when he’s interrupted by his phone.

 

Jae-ha assures his caller — Mama Kang — that Jan-di’s sleeping in his bed, and reminds her to get his payment ready. He stares intently at a few photos of someone we can assume is his older brother.

At this news, Mama Kang smirks: “The kid is pretty good.” She pops open a bottle of champagne and lifts her glass to toast the progress of her Master Plan of Manipulation and Evilry.

 

The F3 guys have been unable to get a hold of Jun-pyo, and worry that he and Jan-di may really be over for good.

In the meantime, Jun-pyo has gone off alone somewhere and rejects all his calls. We eventually see where he has chosen to brood — he walks around the class trip location from Episode 3, when Jan-di had saved Jun-pyo from drowning and given him CPR.

 

Ga-eul bursts into the F4 lounge in tears, asking the guys for their help in finding Jan-di. She’s been unable to get in contact with her and something seems fishy — her family received a call that Jan-di was out with F4, which she obviously isn’t.

Woo-bin and Yi-jung hope that she’s with Jun-pyo, but Ji-hoo has other suspicions. He orders someone to contact Jun-pyo because Jan-di’s in danger.

 

Jan-di wakes up disoriented and groggy, shocked to find out she’s been unconscious for the past two days. Jae-ha assures her that he called her parents so they wouldn’t worry, saying she’d gone on a trip with friends.

Jan-di thanks him for his help and starts to leave, but Jae-ha asks if she still trusts Jun-pyo, warning that Jun-pyo is the kind of guy who would destroy her if he can’t have her for himself.

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Jan-di tells him to watch his words: “There are things about Gu Jun-pyo that you don’t know, that I do.” Jae-ha counters, “No, there are things I know that you don’t… Way before you knew him, I’ve known what kind of person he was. He doesn’t see anyone outside of F4 as people. He’s someone who doesn’t consider other people’s happiness or lives.”

With certainty, Jan-di contradicts him: “No, he was like that before, but he isn’t now.”

 

Jae-ha grabs Jan-di to him, pleading with her to break up with Jun-pyo: “You weren’t right for each other from the start. Come to me. We understand each other. You and I are like minds in the same world.” Jan-di shoves him off.

Jan-di: “You’re someone I was grateful for, who became a supportive friend, but you’re not for me.”
Jae-ha: “You can’t still have faith in that jerk, can you? Even when you’ve gone through this?”
Jan-di: “I do, I believe in him. Because Gu Jun-pyo believed in me.”

Jae-ha tries to grab Jan-di for a kiss as she struggles against him. Breaking free, she slaps him.

Jae-ha tells her, “You’ll regret this. Please come to your senses!” Jan-di assures him that she’s seeing clearer than ever: “Thanks to you, I realize what I’ve done wrong. And what Gu Jun-pyo means to me.”

She leaves with the parting words: “There’s no such thing as Jae-ha’s world, or Jun-pyo’s world. It’s enough to look at the same thing from the same place.”

 

Jae-ha grabs Jan-di from behind and applies a (presumably drug-soaked) cloth over her nose and mouth, saying, “I warned you that you’d regret it.”

 

Jun-pyo returns home, unaware of everything that’s transpired in his absence. He’s immediately alarmed when his butler tells him F4 have been very worried because of Jan-di.

Jun-pyo is handed an envelope containing an anonymous letter bearing the ominous message: “If you want to save Geum Jan-di, come alone.” With it is a picture of Jan-di, bound and gagged, and a lock of her hair.

With Jan-di in danger, Jun-pyo pretends nothing’s wrong and insists on going to bed undisturbed. Once he’s alone, though, he dons black clothing and grimly prepares to meet the kidnapper.

 

Hearing Jun-pyo’s returned, the guys rush to his house, but find his door locked. The butler, agreeing with Woo-bin’s misgivings, defies Jun-pyo’s orders and unlocks the door, telling them of the odd letter that was delivered earlier.

The room is empty, curtains billowing in the open window.

 

Somewhere in a dark warehouse, Jan-di wakes up from her drugged sleep, tied to a chair. (Did anyone else immediately think to the RIDICULOUS Witch Amusement Episode 14 kidnapping? Which, btw, is an episode I already referenced when comparing the lights scene in Episode 9.)

Jae-ha owns up to everything, boasting of his perfectly executed plan — the photo shoot, the red card, the science lab. He assures her, “I had a reason — actually, two.”

She wonders at his motives, so Jae-ha tells her, “Look at me. Don’t I remind you of someone?”

COMMENTS

Even if you weren’t familiar with the storyline, I had a feeling from Episode 1 that this actor — Jung Eui-chul — would be coming back. He’d given a strong enough performance that it seemed unlikely he was cast in such a tiny role unless there was more planned for him.

(Born in 1985 and 186cm tall, Jung debuted as a model, after which he appeared in the TV shows Hello My Teacher and Rainbow Romance, as well as movies Doremifasolatido, Beastie Boys, and Romantic Island.)

Regarding Jae-ha’s role: I like fast-moving storylines. When you know the general outcome of the drama, there’s not a lot of reason to draaaaag out conflicts. But in this case, I wish they’d drawn out the Jae-ha storyline a little — not for the exaggerated melodrama, but because I think it could have been a good chance to extract some development out of our characters. By which I mean, he could have been a great foil to Jun-pyo in a way not even Ji-hoo could accomplish.

For instance: Jun-pyo tends to order Jan-di around, even when he has her best interests at heart. With Jae-ha, the dynamic is different, partly because Jan-di is older and partly because Jae-ha (before going evil-genius on us) seems to respect her and defer to her. It would have been nice to see that contrast played up more. I suppose Ji-hoo was supposed to do that, but Jung is a good actor, so perhaps that’s why I feel this could have presented a more compelling triangle.

As for Jan-di’s absurd and nonsensical actions? I AM SO ANNOYED. I’m glad she came around in the second half of the episode — about halfway through, things took a marked upswing — but the first half had me totally confused. How could she break up with Jun-pyo so easily, after all they’d gone through to stay together? What about all the sweetness and light of Episodes 9 and 10, and the lovely promise she made that she wouldn’t be scared off, and the kiss that (literally) stopped traffic?

Ms. Writer Lady: THIS STORY DOES NOT WORK WITHOUT JAN-DI. Please bring back the Jan-di who made sense!


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