Korean Movie Stories

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 14

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And the schizophrenia continues, because I really liked Episode 14. I don’t even think I would’ve gotten (that) drunk in our hypothetical Illogical Moments Drinking Game (although, let’s face it, there’s always going to be a reason for SOME drinky-drink in a BBF episode).

I didn’t hate Episode 13 — it’s just that it had so many problems, and BBF’s problems tend to be glaring and un-ignorable — but Episode 14 worked for me on several different levels. I love angst when it’s done well and not just manufactured out of nothing. The angst levels in 14 made sense and produced some great scenes with most (all?) of the characters.

 

EPISODE 14 RECAP

At the Venetian casino-hotel, Jan-di sadly recalls how Jun-pyo ignored her. (Anyone else laugh out loud at the gondolier singing “Con te partiro” at the top of his lungs?)

 

Not to be outdone, another voice starts singing a different song: Ha Jae-kyung belts “Santa Lucia” from her gondola. She’s not a great singer, and I’m not sure if she is being jokey/mocking. If so, it’s kind of awesome. Particularly since she’s switched places with her gondolier — she takes the oar while he sits back like a passenger.

The guys remark that the girl is embarrassing, but Jan-di recognizes her and says she’s really cool. They wonder how she knows her; Jan-di answers that the girl saved her life. Woo-bin protests that saving Jan-di is their thing (in a cute, “Wait, what about us?” way). Guys, guys, don’t worry — Jan-di needs saving so often, there’s plenty to go around.

For those wondering how Jun-pyo can suddenly be made head of Shinhwa Group, he isn’t the only executive. Madam Kang still carries the title of 회장, which is like president or chair. Jun-pyo’s a managing director, which means he carries authority as a senior executive — but he’s not the sole power running Shinhwa. (Not that this plot point is realistic to begin with.)

Jun-pyo and Madam Kang greet their business associates, the heads of JK Group, who have been courted to work with Shinhwa in their global venture. The couple explain that their daughter, Jae-kyung, is off touring Macau alone, then compliment Mama Kang on her handsome son. Mom beams.

 

F3 take Jan-di to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, but Ji-hoo, who leads the group, spots Jun-pyo inside. Before the others have a chance to see, he turns and announces that he wants to go somewhere else. He shoots the guys a Meaningful Look, and they catch on quickly, changing their minds casually to keep Jan-di from guessing why.

Ji-hoo pauses to shoot a hard look in Jun-pyo’s direction, and I really think he should just be angry all the time. I didn’t find him interesting as the gentle prince (too bland and supposedly perfect), but he’s much more compelling being angry.

 

At the dinner table with Jae-kyung’s parents, Jun-pyo receives emailed photos on his phone. His expression grows troubled when he opens the messages surreptitiously to find a series of photos of Jan-di. The sender isn’t shown, but I’m guessing this is Mr. Jung working on Jun-pyo’s instructions.

Mama Kang notices his inattention and breaks in to interrupt his photo-time.

Attuned to Jan-di’s gloom, Ji-hoo asks if she regrets coming and whether she has a plan. She takes the philosophical approach — at least she got to visit a nice place — and says she doesn’t have a plan. “But it would be nice just to be able to see him and ask, ‘How’ve you been? I’ve been okay.’”

She wonders, “Isn’t it strange? It feels like it was ages ago that we were together. If he really does act like he doesn’t know me, I’ll wonder if I just dreamed it on my own.”

Ji-hoo answers firmly, “It’s not a dream. If it were, it wouldn’t have been so painful. After sending you off, I realized that I’d done nothing all this time. When I came to my senses, you were on the plane. So it’s not a dream. Because you’re in front of me now.”

Maybe he feels he’s revealed too much, because he abruptly says goodnight and leaves. Left alone, Jan-di breathes on the glass, then writes the character ㅈ (equivalent to “J”), but stops there.

Mr. Jung tries to convince Jun-pyo to meet F4, but Jun-pyo flatly refuses, reminding him that he has no time for playing around with friends. Therefore, Mr. Jung must go out of his way to coordinate with Yi-jung; citing a business meeting, he delivers Jun-pyo to a basketball court.

Seeing F3 waiting for him, Jun-pyo contains his reaction and says, devoid of any warmth, “Nice to see you.” Ji-hoo: “Do you mean that? Doesn’t seem like it.”

Yi-jung expects Jun-pyo to be happy that Jan-di came too, but Jun-pyo responds, “And why do I have to see her? Girls like her don’t mean anything to me now.” Yi-jung realizes, “So you not calling Jan-di was intentional?”

Jun-pyo says carelessly, “Intentional or not, I didn’t have time to bother worrying about stuff like that.” Being the most perceptive, Ji-hoo has guessed much of this and is not surprised, but Yi-jung and Woo-bin are taken aback at the extent of Jun-pyo’s coldness.

Growing angry, Yi-jung asks, “You call yourself a man?” Jun-pyo reminds him that the guys have all dated around, “So can’t I?” Yi-jung retorts that he may have dated around a lot, “but I never acted like you!” and lunges at Jun-pyo.

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Woo-bin holds him back. Yi-jung glares: “What did you tell us back when we tried to stop you? You said a man takes responsibility from the beginning through the end!” Jun-pyo scorns, “And you believed it? No way you guys believed we would make it in the end.”

That’s too much. Yi-jung grabs Jun-pyo’s jacket and bursts out, “Whose fault is it that Jan-di can’t swim anymore?!” There’s a brief flicker of surprise in Jun-pyo’s expression before Yi-jung punches him.

Woo-bin tells Yi-jung to calm down, but Yi-jung snarls that he won’t: “Listen to what that asshole’s saying!” He reminds Jun-pyo: “I warned you. I told you not give encouragement too easily, you coward!”

 

Jun-pyo gripes, “Did you quit being my friend and all rush to be Jan-di’s black knights? If you came here as friends, then enjoy yourselves before going home. But if you even think about mentioning her name, leave immediately.”

Jun-pyo starts to walk away, but stops at Woo-bin’s question, “Why have you changed?” Without turning back, he responds:

Jun-pyo: “700 thousand. That’s the number of Shinhwa employees and family members I have to take responsibility for — 700 thousand. Try taking on 700 thousand lives, and see if you don’t change.”

 

Jan-di waits to hear the results of F3’s meeting with Jun-pyo, and can tell from their expressions that it was not good. Yi-jung figures she should know the truth, and Woo-bin explains that he’s changed a lot and probably been under a lot of stress.

Jan-di guesses, “He won’t see me?” They’re surprised she knew, but she assures them not to worry about her: “Whatever he has to say, I came to hear it directly from him. I’ll have to face him.”

They’re relieved at Jan-di’s ready acceptance of the truth, and impressed at her attitude. Feeling much better, Woo-bin suggests an old game — hide and seek in masks. Which… actually looks really fun.

 

Prince Song is named “It,” so everyone else scatters to hide.

Ji-hoo pulls Jan-di into his corner to escape Woo-bin’s notice. She’s having a good time until she looks up and sees Jun-pyo on the large TV screen, which kills the lively atmosphere. She starts to sob, and Ji-hoo comforts her.

 

That night, Ji-hoo calls out a reluctant Jun-pyo to ask for a favor — that Jun-pyo meet Jan-di just once.

Jun-pyo: “Why would you ask for that kind of favor?”
Ji-hoo: “Because that’s the only thing I can do for her right now.”

 

This ties into Ji-hoo’s earlier comment that he realized how he’d done nothing thus far. A flashback shows us the day Jan-di left for Macau, when she’d dropped by to tell Ji-hoo something: “After today, I’m not sure I can say these words. I’m really glad that I got to know you.”

At dawn, Ji-hoo takes Jan-di out for a “walk,” which turns out to be his way of delivering her to Jun-pyo. She approaches the bridge to find him already there, although he keeps his gaze firmly fixed away from her.

 

Jan-di starts hesitantly, “I was really worried after I heard about your father.” Flatly, he answers, “Thanks. Is that why you came all the way here?… As you see, I’m fine, and as you know, I’m extremely busy. Now that you know, go. Don’t bother worrying about my well-being.” (That last bit literally means: don’t presume you have the right to worry about my health, so don’t bother.)

Hurt, she takes this in. It’s only at this point that he turns to look at her:

Jun-pyo: “Do you have more to say?”
Jan-di: “Do you really mean it?”
Jun-pyo: “What do you want? You can’t be expecting me to say, ‘I’m sorry, forgive me, I’ll go back soon so wait for me,’ could you?”

Jan-di: “Why are you doing this?”
Jun-pyo: “I’ve started to wake up to reality, that’s all.”
Jan-di: “All right, I understand now. Then you really did intend to act like you didn’t see me, and to avoid meeting me. To you, I’m—”
Jun-pyo: “A stain I want to erase.”
Jan-di: “That’s cruel of you, Gu Jun-pyo. Really cruel.”
Jun-pyo: “No. I’ve always been this kind of guy. I just pretended I wasn’t.”

What can Jan-di say to that? She calms herself and tells him, “I’ll go. Take care.”

Jun-pyo returns carelessly, “Worry about yourself,” and leaves.

I LOVE this scene. Jun-pyo is so cold and mean, and although we the audience know there’s more to the story, his act in front of Jan-di is completely convincing — enough that you want to wince along with Jan-di at the force of his words.

Also, I like the line where Jun-pyo says that she couldn’t expect him to ask her forgiveness and beg her to wait — because that’s exactly what he wouldlike to do, and he’s trying really hard to deny that.

 

It’s still early morning, so nobody’s in the faux courtyard but a gondolier, who takes her for a boat ride and treats her to a free song. Again, it’s “Con te partiro” (the English version of the song is called “Time to say goodbye”). I’m surprised I actually liked the song this time around — in the first scene it seemed silly, but here with Jan-di sitting alone, inside the empty shopping arcade, crying to herself while he sings… it’s sad.

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(This is the “Con te partiro” version sung by “popera” singers Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.)
Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Although Jun-pyo seemed unmoved when confronting Jan-di, that is far from the truth. He bursts in on his mother, asking furiously, “Are you satisfied now? Now that everything’s the way you want, are you satisfied?”

Mama Kang replies, “I don’t know, merely hearing about the likes of that girl doesn’t make me happy.”

Jun-pyo fires back, “She’s not just ‘that kind of girl‘! She’s the first girl that I — YOUR SON — ever loved.”

Oh my GOD. How does Lee Min-ho make his eyes fill up with tears, ever so gradually, to correspond with his growing frustration? HOW?

Madam Kang asks calmly, perhaps knowing she has an ace in the pocket, whether he will throw everything away to run to the girl — the company, the employees, his future. What about his father?

Knowing that she’s going to guilt him, Jun-pyo tells her to stop, but she continues, reminding him that his father put everything into the company: “Are you going to throw him away too?… What should I do about Jan-di? Should I make it impossible for her to live anywhere in Korea?”

Jun-pyo: “Be quiet. I told you TO STOP!” He warns, “Don’t mess with Jan-di. If you break your promise, I’ll destroy everything.”

 

Time to check in back at home. Jan-di’s brother, Kang-san, falls ill with mysterious stomach pains, and his parents rush him to … Doctor Former President?

I is confuzzled. If a former president started practicing medicine, wouldn’t people, um, know about it? Or maybe President Grandpa has a twin brother…

 

To cheer up Jan-di, Ji-hoo takes her around for the day. They sightsee, watch a Cirque du Soleil-style performance, and shop — the last of which Jun-pyo happens to see as he’s passing by a storefront.

While Ji-hoo looks around, Jan-di is drawn to a pretty shoe on display — which she hastily returns when she looks at the price tag.

 

Jun-pyo tries to ignore this, but ends up returning to the store to claim the shoe. Only, another shopper grabs it at the same moment. Jae-kyung and Jun-pyo grapple with the shoe, both refusing to let go. (They register no recognition; I’m guessing they’ve never met, since her parents had never seen him before, either.)

Jun-pyo wrenches it from her hand, but when Mr. Jung asks if he knows Jan-di’s shoe size, he stops short. He doesn’t know, so he sizes up Jae-kyung and shoves the shoes on her feet to get an approximation.

 

 

Jun-pyo is satisfied that they’ll fit and tells her to take them off. But now that she’s in possession, she refuses and tries to run off (without paying?). In a cute sequence, Jun-pyo chases her around the store and grabs Jae-kyung, who loses her balance.

Having won, Jun-pyo walks out with the shoes.

That night, Madam Kang hears that Jan-di intends to go home the next day. Given their break-up and the fact that Jun-pyo is currently working in the conference room, she is satisfied that both sides have come to their senses and returned to their “rightful” positions.

If only she knew that Jun-pyo isn’t actually working; instead, he’s looking at photos on his computer.

 

Clearly this slideshow presentation is Ji-hoo’s doing, because it closes with Jan-di’s recorded video message. A tear slips from Jun-pyo’s eye as it plays, after which he stands up purposely, as though to rush off to find her.

Just as he starts to leave, something seizes his attention — in place of the slideshow are old memories of him and his father. (The editing makes it seem for a moment that he’s watching video footage, but I’m pretty sure they’re in his head. If only because it’s crazy to think this particular conversation just happened to be recorded fifteen years ago. Not that BBF is known for its logic.) In the memories, a young Jun-pyo is with his loving father (uh, character inconsistency?), who asks, “What will you do when I’m not around?” Young Jun-pyo proudly makes a man-to-man promise, “I’ll take care of Mom, Noona, and Shinhwa Group.”

 

It’s his guilty conscience flaring, to keep him from throwing away his position for Jan-di. Torn between both very strong impulses, Jun-pyo bellows in frustration and sinks to the ground.

 

The next day, Ji-hoo and Jan-di check out of the hotel. I wonder if Ji-hoo is expecting Jun-pyo to show, but instead he’s recognized by someone else, an old friend. (The actor is Haiming, Chinese member of kpop group A’ST1; the character is shortened to “Ming.”)

Ming is thrilled to see Ji-hoo, but disappointed that they’re leaving today. Sensing that Jan-di is the key to convincing them to stay one more day, he gains her approval — then pushes her aside to cozy up to Ji-hoo. It’s hilarious at how much he adores Ji-hoo. I’m not sure if he loves him or is IN LOVE with him, but in any cause, it’s pretty amusing.

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Ming takes them to his fancy home and prepares a lavish spread — all to impress Ji-hoo, of course. He and Jan-di engage in a silent battle over the food — Jan-di reaches for the delicious dishes, while Ming moves them away, offering them to Ji-hoo instead.

When Ji-hoo in turn passes the food to Jan-di, she eats with petty triumph. Lol.

Feeling threatened by Jan-di’s claim on Ji-hoo’s affections, Ming tells him grumpily, “She’s not pretty,” and highlights all her shortcomings. He asks if they’re dating, so Ji-hoo asks what Ming thinks.

Ming: “It seems that you like her. When you look at her, you smile, like back then.”
Ji-hoo: “Back then?”
Ming: “Like with Seo-hyun.”

Finally giving in to the impulse, Jun-pyo tries to call Jan-di’s hotel room, only to find that she’s already checked out.

He assumes that means they’ve headed back to Korea, but Mr. Jung informs him that they’re still in the country, visiting a friend. That’s news to Jun-pyo, who wonders who the friend is, but when Mr. Jung offers to find out, Jun-pyo tells him not to bother. (Mr. Jung smiles at this proof that Jun-pyo still cares.)

 

 

So Jan-di and Ji-hoo go sightseeing some more, and it is gorgeous.

COMMENTS

I don’t know why I have so much to say about 1 hour of television, and I’m trying to keep things concise (ha!), but sorry in advance for rambling on so. I can’t seem to help it.

Anyway. I feel like PD Jeon just discovered how to shoot reflections in this episode, based on the sheer number of them we got, like —

 

There were a few standout scenes, which altogether include pretty much everyone in the main cast. So yeah, Episode 14 totally stepped up its game. (Just don’t hold your breath for Episode 15, based on our established pattern.)

One example: The F4 basketball scene. I LOVE that Yi-jung is the one who gets mad. It’s notable that Woo-bin tells Yi-jung to calm down because all series long, Yi-jung has been the one to tell people to calm down whenever they got upset. Perhaps Ji-hoo could have filled that role, but I’m glad Yi-jung was the one to throw the punch, for a few reasons:

First, we’ve seen plenty of Angry Ji-hoo (which I consider a good thing), so we already know how much he cares. Second, we already had a direct Ji-hoo versus Jun-pyo conflict in earlier episodes, so Yi-jung’s reaction gives us a different spin, as it involves someone who doesn’t have romantic feelings for Jan-di. I think that highlights just how badly Jun-pyo is treating Jan-di on a basic friend-to-friend level, that Yi-jung (and Woo-bin) also find his behavior appalling, not just Ji-hoo. And third, I’m thinking Yi-jung has been set off-kilter by Ga-eul’s insight (in Episode 13) into his fear of true love, etc., so his anger at Jun-pyo mistreating Jan-di is given an added layer of meaning. (Sorta like, I’m scared to death of finding true love, and you’ve got it in front of you, and you’re just going to trample all over it like this?)

 

I’m not jumping ship to root for the Jun-pyo and Jae-kyung pair, but I thought they were really cute together, and this is the first outsider love interest that made me nervous — which, yay! I never felt that the Jun-di pair was really endangered until this episode, and while I don’t think Jae-kyung will upset the order too much, I’m very glad that it at least makes me uneasy.

As for the scene with Madam Kang… I don’t even think I have to say much about it. It was GREAT.

And then, of course, the bridge scene. I am a big fan of this interpretation of Jun-pyo’s character, and part of that is because cruelty can be so much harsher when it’s quiet and contained, rather than overt tantrum-ing. Both Jun-pyo and Madam Kang do that beautifully. He can lash out in violence, too, but he’s at his worst when he’s in control, and wielding his cold cruelty with surgical precision.

That’s why this whole personality about-face — which, yes, I know was in the original — actually seems very in character for the way Jun-pyo has been established. (Like he said, he’s not becoming cold — he was always cold.) Also, we’re given the hint that Jun-pyo made a deal with his mother to do her bidding in exchange for leaving Jan-di alone. Therefore, his attitude change doesn’t feel like a weird personality morph that sprang up as an artificial plot contrivance; it actually feels like a natural development. (I know! I used “natural” to describe Boys Before Flowers!)

I really enjoyed Hana Yori Dango — I loved the manga over-the-topness and the cheesy storylines, which worked for that format. But what I appreciate — and what feels different — about Boys Before Flowers is that this second part feels… kinda real, actually. (Not necessarily plot-wise — but emotionally, oh yeah.) I’ve always felt like the J-version depicted kids who were playing grown-ups, but here it feels like they’re ACTUALLY growing up.


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