Korean Movie Stories

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 16

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Thasswhatimtalkinbout. Good episode! The cute is back.

No, it wasn’t the best episode we’ve had, and there were still a few hard-to-buy logic points, but I think there’s a key difference from the frustrating inconsistencies of Episode 15. Episode 16 had points that stretched believability, but at least they worked in context.

See, I’m not against the idea of “check your brain at the door” fun — but even that has fundamental requirements. Like basic logic, continuity, flow.

 

EPISODE 16 RECAP

Jun-pyo arrives at Ji-hoo’s, making an excuse rather than admit he just wanted/needed the company. He says he only dropped by because Ji-hoo’s house is closest, plus he had fought with Yi-jung in Macau and Woo-bin always has girls hanging around. Ji-hoo points out that Jun-pyo punched him too, so Jun-pyo tells Ji-hoo to hit him and they’ll call it even.

 

That’s a tacit apology, and Ji-hoo smiles. Jun-pyo asks roundabout-ly how “everyone” is doing. Ji-hoo replies, “If you’re wondering about Jan-di, she’s fine.”

Jun-pyo tries to pretend he didn’t want to know that, changing the topic to demand a birthday present. Ji-hoo hands over the bag Jan-di left behind, inside which Jun-pyo finds a doll with curly hair. It comes with a note from Jan-di: “Gu Jun-pyo, happy birthday. I’ll pray that your birthday isn’t lonely, and full of only happy things.”

 

(Ji-hoo’s act of friendly loyalty means he has again stepped back to help Jun-pyo and Jan-di. This is what makes him a good friend, but won’t get him the girl in the end, which is something he knows. Thus he broods as he eats his pancakes of sadness.)

 

At school, Jae-kyung recognizes Jan-di and greets her enthusiastically. She’s going to be enrolling at Shinhwa University and suggests that they be good friends (as “unni-dongsaeng,” or a big-sis-little-sis relationship).

Since she’s Jun-pyo’s fiancée, Jan-di’s less enthused but tries to be polite. When Jae-kyung says she’s here to see somebody, Jan-di guesses that’s Jun-pyo. Speaking of the devil, Jae-kyung spots him walking by with F3 and bounds over to him. Unfazed by his brusque demeanor, she grabs him in a headlock and calls him fiancé.

 

Jun-pyo breaks free, calling her a crazy monkey (again). Jae-kyung has accepted this engagement thing and intends to see it through, and declares: “I’m going to tame you.”

Jan-di watches quietly from the sidelines. Seeing her expression, Woo-bin approaches to explain that Jun-pyo’s starting at the university with the others. (I really love him for this; he’s a nice guy, and as we’ve seen, he’s always the biggest advocate for friendly harmony.)

 

Ga-eul hears about the encounter as they work, playing the supportive friend who’s indignant at “that other girl.” But Jan-di has to be honest, saying Jae-kyung is actually a cool person — which is when she shows up.

Jae-kyung cheerfully introduces herself to Ga-eul, looking around and saying their job looks like fun; she’s always wanted to try something like this. She then “borrows” the girls, leaving her bodyguard behind with Master.

 

Girl-bonding time. This is another thing Jae-kyung has always wanted to try — a day chatting and hanging out with the girls. Asked whether she doesn’t have friends for that, Jae-kyung says brightly, “I have no friends.” She’s moved around so much that she never had the opportunity.

Jae-kyung knows Jan-di is acquainted with Jun-pyo, but not the extent of their relationship, so she asks Jan-di for advice on the type of girls Jun-pyo likes. It’s an awkward question, and Jan-di answers a bit ruefully, “He’s so busy thinking about his own style that I’d bet he wouldn’t even remember what the girl wears.”

Jae-kyung decides, “I like him more and more,” and prods for more details.

Jan-di thinks, then answers that Jun-pyo is super arrogant and acts like he knows everything. Growing wistful, Jan-di starts to get lost in the memory: “If he likes something, he ignores everything else and goes for it all the way, like a bulldozer. He’s really scary when he’s angry, but when he treats you well, he’s tender.”

Jan-di snaps out of it, coming back to the present, and finishes by saying he’s childish and hot-tempered. Pleased with the detailed description, Jae-kyung says, “You know him well. Good, let me ask an official favor. I really want to get along well with him. Be my dating coach.”

 

Jan-di’s face shows just how much she doesn’t want to agree. Ga-eul, who has been standing by uncomfortably, shoots an upset look Jae-kyung’s way (though the latter doesn’t notice).

At the end of the night, Jae-kyung hands two shopping bags to Ga-eul and Jan-di, announcing that they’re her best friends now — she jokes that those are “bribes.” Ga-eul thinks Jae-kyung’s a little strange, but has to admit somewhat reluctantly, “She’s someone you can’t hate.”

 

Yi-jung and Woo-bin tease Jun-pyo about Jae-kyung and wonder when he got so chummy with his fiancée, after hearing about her biting his ear (which they point out is Jun-pyo’s “sensitive point”).

However, their initial joshing turns into worry — what if the engagement turns serious? Then Jun-pyo and Jan-di will be over for good. Ji-hoo tells them they can do something about it — are they Casanovas or what?

 

Jan-di’s family hear about Jun-pyo’s engagement and ask her dejectedly if it’s true. Jan-di confirms it, so they to find out as much as they can about this mystery fiancée who stole Jan-di’s spot as Jun-pyo’s future wife.

Jae-kyung makes an unannounced visit, introducing herself as Jan-di’s new friend. Not knowing that this is Jun-pyo’s fiancée, Jan-di’s parents welcome her to drop by at any time.

When Jae-kyung requests to spend the night, borrowing a tracksuit much like the one Jun-pyo once wore, the family pauses to wonder, “This situation feels familiar.”

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Ever eager to try out new things, Jae-kyung enthuses over their impromptu pajama party. She says, “It feels like predestination, meeting you and Gu Jun-pyo in Macau.” She confesses, “I must have liked him from the first time I met him.” She would’ve normally been completely against the engagement, but “the moment I saw his face, my chest tingled. Do you know that feeling? Is there someone you like? A first love?”

At Jan-di’s expression, Jae-kyung guesses there is someone. Jan-di says there’s one person who had an effect on her: “When I looked at him, my mind would go blank.” (By this, she means that everything else goes dull and fades.)

Jae-kyung describes Jun-pyo as wine — the more you drink, it circulates through the blood and brings a tingling, electric feeling all over your body. It occurs to her that Jun-pyo may like somebody, but she figures, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll just have to make him like me now.”

 

Jun-pyo waits around campus for Jan-di, who’s she’s not happy to see him. She snaps at him when he starts to follow her; he asks why she doesn’t swim anymore. She merely replies, “I quit.”

Jun-pyo feels the need to clarify that the engagement wasn’t his idea; he has nothing to do with it. Jan-di retorts that it has nothing to do with her either, adding sarcastically, “You’ve gotten a lot kinder, to bother explaining that to the stain you want to erase.”

In the distance, Jae-kyung spots them and starts heading over. Jan-di takes advantage of Jun-pyo’s momentary distraction to hurry away, catching Ji-hoo as he’s about to leave. She asks for a ride.

Ji-hoo sees Jun-pyo following behind, assesses the situation, and hands her a helmet just as the other two arrive.

When Ji-hoo is introduced, Jae-kyung says knowingly to Jan-di, “This is him, right? The one you like?” Not registering the tension, Jae-kyung thinks this is great, and suggests that they all go out together. The other three respond immediately, “No.”

Jan-di excuses herself, tells Jae-kyung to have fun with Jun-pyo, and asks Ji-hoo to leave quickly.

 

Ji-hoo drops Jan-di off at the clinic, where Jan-di has taken on an assistant position. Nothing medical — mostly running errands and cleaning. Ji-hoo offers to help and accompanies her inside — but the instant he sees the doctor, his eyes bulge open in shock. Doctor-Grandpa recognizes Ji-hoo, shouting after him as Ji-hoo rushes out.

Yes, the doctor is Ji-hoo’s grandfather. Also the ex-president. At the restaurant, Master says that it wasn’t that the grandfather wouldn’t see Ji-hoo all these years, but that he couldn’t, and asks Jan-di to help.

 

Before he can elaborate, visitors stagger inside the restaurant: an exhausted Yi-jung and Woo-bin.

Taking Ji-hoo’s hint to do something about The Pesky Fiancée, they’d both sought to woo her away from Jun-pyo. Yi-jung tried impressing her with his art collection, while Woo-bin “rescued” her from gangsters. But their plan backfires — Jae-kyung is utterly exhausting, which they realize after following her around, eating, drinking, karaoke-ing together.

The plan failed, so they are down to their last resort: to forget about Jae-kyung and focus on getting the Idiot Duo together. (Not my words! Woo-bin calls them that.) For this plan, they require Ga-eul’s help.

 

First, Ga-eul calls Jan-di to tell her she has a date with Yi-jung. Dreamily mooning over Yi-jung has the intended effect — Jan-di freaks out about Ga-eul’s welfare, because a player like Yi-jung would completely use and abandon her friend.

She resolves to prevent this and calls Ji-hoo, but gets no response. I’m not sure why she doesn’t try Woo-bin next, but she finds him anyway when she bursts into Jun-pyo’s room to plead for his help.

Since this is a part of The Plan, Woo-bin tells her Jun-pyo’s in the next room, but doesn’t bother explaining that Jun-pyo’s getting out of a shower. And it’s a good thing for fans, too, since this leads us to our fanservicey moment of the day: bare-chested Lee Min-ho.

 

There’s a hilarious moment when Jan-di, all frazzled with worry (and from half-nekkid Jun-pyo), blurts out her concerns. Her words are jumbled up so it comes out like, “Need your help,” “I can’t do it alone,” and “You might have to get physical.”

By the last bit, she means he’d have to fight or use force with Yi-jung, but as she doesn’t explain that, Jun-pyo perks up in interest. Jan-di frets some more: “What if we have to go to a hotel?”

 

After that misunderstanding is clarified, Woo-bin intentionally plays on Jan-di’s fears about Yi-jung’s ladykiller tendencies, demonstrating Yi-jung’s Five Steps to Seduction on Jan-di in front of a jealous Jun-pyo. (I love jealous Jun-pyo.)

Jun-pyo scoffs because Ga-eul isn’t anything like Yi-jung’s type. However, Woo-bin fans the flames, countering, “No, he said he found her cute.” He wonders how long it’ll take to win over Ga-eul — it might only take one day.

That means Jan-di must stop them from having a successful date at all costs. She busily works out a plan and shares it with Jun-pyo. Woo-bin watches in satisfaction.

Together, Jan-di and Jun-pyo set out to save Ga-eul. Or rather, Jan-di drags along an indifferent Jun-pyo while she spies.

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Aware of their audience, Yi-jung and Ga-eul commence their act. (It’s a good thing that Yi-jung and Ga-eul are faking and know that Jan-di’s there, because she is the worst undercover spy ever.) All day, Yi-jung plays the attentive, flirtatious boyfriend. Jan-di grows increasingly worried at the seemingly successful date.

 

After his unexpected encounter with his grandfather, Ji-hoo visits his parents’ graves, where he says with resignation, “Grandfather must still hate me. Everyone I’ve cared for has left my side. I decided to try living thinking I didn’t need anyone, but I keep wanting more.”

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Unbeknownst to Ji-hoo, President Yoon had actually said in a separate scene that the accident had been his fault (not Ji-hoo’s). He says sorrowfully, “I killed them. It’s my fault he was made into an orphan.”

It’s clear that they’ve been kept apart by mutual misunderstanding and grief — and I hope there’s a better reason than both sides simply assuming the worst of themselves.

 

My first reaction was confusion at seeing Yi-jung leading Ga-eul onto the ice rink in regular shoes, but perhaps this is a result of Kim Bum’s recent accident and foot injury, so this awkwardness gets a pass.

At one point, Jan-di turns away to avoid being seen and stumbles against Jun-pyo. After the initial surprise, Jun-pyo holds her closer to him, until she moves away.

Watching Yi-jung shrug out of his jacket to give to Ga-eul, Jan-di mutters that he’s a total player. Jun-pyo counters, “Then would you prefer Ga-eul freeze to death?”

 

Noting that Jan-di’s freezing too, Jun-pyo tells her she should worry about herself too, and steps behind her to spread his jacket around her. Which reminds them of the last time he’d done a similar thing, back at the ski lodge.

From the ice, Yi-jung and Ga-eul notice that their plan is working, so Yi-jung brings on the big finish: Fireworks.

 

Jun-pyo and Jan-di watch the fireworks go off, with his arms still wrapped around her. Jun-pyo gives Yi-jung credit for the impressive display, and asks, “Was it this cool when I did it too?”

Maybe things are getting too personal, because Jan-di pushes Jun-pyo off and steps aside, asking what will come next in Yi-jung’s plan. To her dismay, Jun-pyo indicates a nearby hotel.

 

Thus they take a room next door to Yi-jung and Ga-eul. Jan-di imagines the worst, not knowing that they’re actually just standing around in the room and waiting to wrap up their plan. She’s a nervous wreck. In contrast, Jun-pyo sits back, impressed with Yi-jung’s romantic prowess.

Jan-di can’t hear anything through the thick walls, so she peers out into the hallway, and gasps. She motions Jun-pyo over to see a room-service cart (loaded with candles, dessert, the works) making its way to Yi-jung’s room.

 

Determined to put a crimp in their plans, Jan-di instructs Jun-pyo to steal the cart. She pushes him out into the hallway, where he intercepts the employee and pays for the cart. All the while, Yi-jung peers out of the peephole and watches as Jan-di directs the cart into her room instead.

That’s as much as the So-eul couple can do, so they call it a successful night and head out.

Next door, Jan-di and Jun-pyo sit in awkward silence for a few beats, until they both speak at the same time: She says, “Happy birthday” just as he says, “Thanks.”

Jun-pyo thanks Jan-di for the birthday present — it’s the shabbiest present he’s ever received, but he’ll let that slide because it’s the thought that counts. The statement is typical Jun-pyo (a light insult to cover the softer undertone), and Jan-di smiles a bit.

She wishes him happy birthday, and then, “Congratulations on the engagement.” Jun-pyo retorts, “I told you not to bother thinking about that.”

 

In a faltering tone, Jan-di says that Jae-kyung is a good person. She starts to tear up as she adds, “She really likes you a lot.”

Jun-pyo sighs, “Meddling as usual. Right, you’re not Geum Jan-di unless you’re throwing my insides into turmoil.” He asks, does that mean she’d be fine if he married right away, then?

Jan-di can’t answer that; uncomfortable, she needs some space and changes the subject back to Ga-eul, and steps into the hall to check on the other room.

It’s here that she is found by Madam Kang, who was downstairs in the lobby when an employee informed her that Jun-pyo had taken out a room. Mama Witch confronts Jan-di angrily and heaps abuse on her and her family.

At this point, Jun-pyo comes out looking for Jan-di, and stops short at the sight of his mother.

 

Madam Kang loses her temper — implying that Jan-di is a desperate slut, she accuses Jan-di of throwing herself at Jun-pyo even though he’s engaged, then raises an arm to strike. She says scathingly, “You ill-bred, audacious girl…!”

Jun-pyo blocks his mother’s arm and yells at her to stop. He repeats in a quieter voice, “Please, stop.”

So she slaps him instead.

Madam Kang orders her men to take Jun-pyo away, and stalks off. In stunned silence, Jun-pyo is escorted down the hall, while Jan-di sinks to the ground, in shock herself.

Down in the lobby, Jun-pyo shoves the men away and reaches for his phone. He hesitates as he starts to write a message to Ji-hoo — to rescue Jan-di, as usual — as though unwilling to step back and let his friend in his place. But he hits send… and then hurls his phone into the ground angrily. It breaks into pieces.

 

I LOVE THIS POINT. In the past, Jun-pyo had called Ji-hoo to help, to take his place as a friend, and Ji-hoo faithfully came through — not for himself, but for them. Now that Jun-pyo knows Ji-hoo has feelings for Jan-di, and that he himself can’t have her, it kills him to knowingly push the two together. But the alternative is worse — to leave Jan-di without anyone to lean on — so he does it, no matter how much he hates it. LOVE.

But Jan-di leaves before Ji-hoo arrives at the hotel, and when he calls to check up on her, she tells him that she’s fine and at home.

 

She’s lying, because she’s actually at the empty clinic, which she starts to clean. Ji-hoo, however, knows to find her here and says, “So this has become home to you.”

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I really like this scene, which is nearly wordless and has all the more impact for it. Ji-hoo watches Jan-di mopping the floor, with a troubled expression his face (is that an actual flicker of emotion I see?), and steps in front of her to force her to stop. She mops around him, so he steps in front again to make her stop. She turns away, he follows.

 

It’s not Ji-hoo’s nature to push, so it’s like he’s waiting for her to come to her own breaking point. He grabs the mop and puts it away, and with nothing else to distract her, Jan-di lets her tears fall. He holds her as she cries.

Every time Jun-pyo gets near to his own breaking point (or breaking-free point), he’s rather forcibly reined in by Mommie Dearest, so the next time he crosses paths with Jan-di on campus, he’s back to being cold and distant. F4 walks past Jan-di, and he doesn’t spare her a glance.

Jan-di’s hurt, but doesn’t have time to dwell — her mother calls with dire news. Jan-di can’t understand what the problem is, and asks her mother to explain. Hearing the worry in her voice, Ji-hoo turns back and sees Jan-di rushing away.

 

When she gets home, the entire place is covered in red stickers, which denote items to be repossessed. Her mother is lying down from the shock as Jan-di’s father tends to her, trying to keep an optimistic face. Their financial woes were bad enough already — they can barely manage to pay off the interest on their loans — but now they have another problem, because a friend used Dad’s name to borrow money (with consent, made before their current troubles).

 

With both parents sunk in worry, they’ve failed to show up at their janitorial jobs. Jan-di tries to smooth it over with their boss, offering to take their place temporarily until her parents are able to return to work. Thus begins yet another job to add to her list.

COMMENTS

Granted, a few moments in this episode required a (sizable) suspension of disbelief. But the reason I was able to enjoy this episode — a lot, actually — is because once I made the leap in accepting the premise, the rest of the episode generally flowed, logically and emotionally.

For instance: I didn’t really buy how frantic Jan-di was to save Ga-eul from Yi-jung. Sure, he’s a notorious playboy, but she also knows him enough to know he’s not evil; he’s not the awful Su-pyo from an earlier episode. I could see her worry, but it wasn’t enough to explain her pushing aside all her issues with Jun-pyo to beg for his help. But once I decided to just accept that as the basis for this storyline, the rest of the events that followed made sense. I’d rather not have to make any logical leaps in the first place, but at least in this case it worked out. (This was not the case in Episode 15, which is why it made me so cranky.)

I like Jae-kyung, although it took me until this episode to decide — I’d been on the fence (despite liking the actress from Day 1). It probably helps that I don’t find her voice annoying, as many of you do. Normally, a girl who wants to fit herself to be a guy’s ideal type indicates a weakness of character, but with Jae-kyung, it doesn’t seem that way. Probably because it’s not so much that she wants to change herself to suit Jun-pyo, but that she strikes me as a blank canvas, which I find really interesting. I don’t mean she’s blank as a person because she obviously has a very strong personality, but it’s more that she’s a newly born animal who’s eager to try anything and everything. She’s willing to try something new — to BE something new — to discover whether it suits her. So she likes Jun-pyo and is trying to see if she can make it work with him; can’t fault her for that.

All the Jun-pyo and Jan-di scenes were a lot of fun. Like I mentioned, I find it a little unbelievable that they work together so soon after all the Angst and Drama, but once you accept that they do, the scenes are really cute to watch. And although it seems like Jun-pyo is still caught in his mother’s snare, I think we start to see that it’s a losing battle for him to be without Jan-di. He does okay when she’s out of sight (thus out of mind), but when he’s within reach of her, it’s all just a matter of time before his real feelings are pushed to the surface. Thank god for meddling friends who keep them within reach of each other, right?

As for the last scene between Ji-hoo and Jan-di, now THAT is something I want to see more of — a complex dynamic expressed in a simple way. Ji-hoo stepping in front of Jan-di to stop her from skirting around her problem. Taking away her (literal) crutch and leaving her standing alone in an empty room, with no facades left to hide behind. Not pushing her too quickly, but waiting for her to confront the truth, forcing for her to face her emotions.

I mean, how freaking beautiful is that? And we did it in one short scene, two actors in an empty room with one prop.

There is no need to get all convoluted and nonsensical with plot twists — i.e., all that wallet ridiculousness from 15, or random characters who do nothing — when such a little exchange can have so much more impact.

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