Korean Movie Stories

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 18

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You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both (and add a dash of the embarrassing) and there you have: A typical episode of Boys Before Flowers

 

EPISODE 18 RECAP

 

At the pool, Jun-pyo forcibly removes Jae-kyung’s arms from around his waist, but she wraps them around him again.

Jun-pyo faces her, and we can see he’s changed somewhat because his tone is almost gentle when he says, “You’ll find a guy who’s right for you.” (He tempers that by adding, “Since you’re not so ugly.”) Stubbornly, Jae-kyung insists, “I don’t want anyone else.” She asks cautiously, “Is there someone you like?” He responds, “Yeah.”

Jae-kyung just nods, so he wonders why she’s not asking about the girl. She’s already guessed, though, and her reaction is revealing of her character — despite her straightforward personality, in this she chooses denial over facing the truth. Jae-kyung shoves her fingers in her ears and shouts, “I don’t want to hear. Ahhh, I can’t hear, not at all.” And she runs off.

 

Jan-di doesn’t see the rest of their conversation, because she had turned and left after witnessing their hug. In shock, she sits alone in a daze, which is where Ji-hoo finds her.

He assesses her mood and takes her aside to a quiet corner. In true Ji-hoo fashion, he doesn’t ask questions and waits while she sits and fidgets with nervous energy. Jan-di looks at her shaking hand and mutters that the stupid thing won’t stop. Ji-hoo takes her hand in his grasp and tells her, “It’s not stupid, so don’t scold it too much.” It’s a really sweet gesture.

 

 

Ji-takes starts to play his guitar, until eventually Jan-di falls asleep on his shoulder. After a little while, Ji-hoo moves aside and leaves Jan-di to continue sleeping.

When he steps outside, he notices Jun-pyo exiting the hotel; soon afterward, Ji-hoo gets a text message from him reading, “I’m leaving first.”

 

Alone in the hotel suite, Jae-kyung smothers her sorrows in ice cream, and who can blame her for that? Although, if she were really serious she’d be using the big spoon, is all I’m sayin’.

Jae-kyung recalls all the signs that indicate that Jun-pyo and Jan-di used to date, such as the first meeting in Macau when Jan-di admitted she’d come to see her boyfriend. Looking over the couple rings she’d planned to give to Jun-pyo, Jae-kyung compares the inscriptions on the rings to the one on Jan-di’s star-moon necklace.

And now for some (unintentional) hilarity. I’m sorry, this whole section was almost too embarrassing to watch, even if it did finally feature more Woo-bin. On the downside to having more Woo-bin is that it felt like they were shoehorning in a Woo-bin Story of Drama and Angst purely because fans want more Kim Joon, and while I fully support that cause, I only wish it had been handled in a more skilled way.

 

Basically, Woo-bin parks his car along a bridge and thinks back to a recent encounter where he had been drunkenly walking the railing while Yi-jung looked on in worry. Woo-bin is wallowing in a bout of self-pity because — get this! — he’s embarrassed about his background.

Woo-bin says in a defeated tone that he’s only considered part of F4 because of his association with the others (uh, and what about the construction empire he’s inheriting, conveniently forgetful writers?). His shady associations make him ashamed — but only with his F4 friends. While he doesn’t care what other people think of him, sometimes “I feel so embarrassed that it irritates me to death.” (Irritate to death? That’s like saying something is extremely mediocre, or the best average.)

 

Frustrated, Yi-jung pulls Woo-bin off the railing, and pushes him against his car — and who else wondered for a second whether these two guys were going to make out?

Yi-jung’s mad now, demanding, “Is that all we are to you?” He thinks friendship runs deeper than that, and that they should be able to rely on each other and not feel ashamed.

You’re right, Yi-jung, because you shouldn’t be the ones feeling embarrassed — that’s for US to feel, watching this scene. (It is so, so uncomfortable.)

 

But now that Woo-bin is sober, he reflects back to the bridge scene fondly, and calls Yi-jung.

Now the tables are turned — Yi-jung is the one who’s drunk and in a foul mood. He staggers from his table at a club, nearly falling on top of one woman sitting at another table. When the girl recognizes Yi-jung, she’s flattered at the attention, and he comes at her with a kiss. This does not go over well with the men at the table, who shove Yi-jung aside angrily. Drunk as he is, Yi-jung is in no state to defend himself, and the guys get carried away beating him — one even stomps on his hand, hard.

 

Woo-bin to the rescue! He arrives in a blaze of fury, with a group of gangsters in tow. The club guys back off quickly as Woo-bin’s mobster henchmen offer to take care of them, but Woo-bin vows to take care of the bastards himself.

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Woo-bin growls that in damaging Yi-jung’s precious hand, they may have destroyed something that’s irreplaceable. Woo-bin fights them, then takes Yi-jung away to get treated.

 

At the resort, Jan-di and Ji-hoo are greeted at breakfast by a cheerful Jae-kyung, who announces that she couldn’t sleep at all because “last night was a hugely historic night for Gu Jun-pyo and Ha Jae-kyung.” That’s not exactly false, but is intended to plant the wrong idea in Jan-di’s head. Jae-kyung compounds the innuendo by saying that Jun-pyo left early because he was embarrassed (over their supposed Big Night together).

So, Jae-kyung has decided on her battle plan — to take charge and do whatever it takes to win Jun-pyo. For what it’s worth, she seems conflicted about misleading Jan-di, but that doesn’t stop her.

 

Jan-di and Ji-hoo take a detour to a Buddhist temple, where they write wishes for good fortune on tablets. It’s sweet that both Jan-di and Ji-hoo’s wishes are for each other rather than themselves: Ji-hoo wishes that Jan-di will be accepted into medical school, while Jan-di’s is for Ji-hoo to “always be happy.”

A monk happens to be watching, and smiles at them in approval. The man tells Ji-hoo a little cryptically that Jan-di is like a lotus flower whom Ji-hoo should treat well, as she will “make you a family.”

Meanwhile, back home, Dr. President Grandpa Yoon has heart trouble. (It wouldn’t be a PD Jeon drama unless somebody has random heart trouble?)

 

When Jan-di arrives home, she finds her family in low spirits and her parents packing. They’ve realized they can’t support the family by living and working in Seoul, so they are going to move away to work and will send money back to Jan-di and Kang-san, who need to stay to continue school.

They name Jan-di the official head of household, to which Kang-san mutters, “Since when wasn’t she?” Truer words, dude.

Here’s an odd and interesting scene. In the morning, Jun-pyo finds to his surprise that Jae-kyung is directing his servants, which he finds intrusive. Undaunted by his lack of enthusiasm, Jae-kyung steers him to sit at the breakfast table. She’d thought long and hard about what she could do for Jun-pyo — which isn’t easy because they both grew up rich and privileged — and considered what she’d like for herself. The first thing that came to mind was how she hates eating breakfast alone.

Jun-pyo thinks back to his own childhood, how he always had to eat alone in the big dining room and how he hated it. It’s quite interesting because he stares at Jae-kyung in a new way, like he’s seeing her for the first time as a potential friend — or maybe more, a kindred spirit who understands him more than he’d anticipated.

He agrees to eat — a little reluctantly, as though he doesn’t want to feel kinship with her — so she excitedly serves him, which reminds him of breakfast with Jan-di’s family.

 

Jae-kyung presents Jun-pyo with the couple rings, and asks him to put hers on her finger. Jun-pyo reads the engraving, and the J ♥ J inscription reminds him of the same thing he’d put on Jan-di’s necklace.

This is a nicely acted beat, because for a moment you’re afraid he’ll actually go ahead with it, and Jae-kyung looks at him in nervousness, hoping he will. But the engraving is what snaps him out of it, and Jun-pyo puts the rings back inside the box and hands it to Jae-kyung. He leaves, saying, “I have somewhere to go.”

 

 

That turns out to be Yi-jung’s studio. Yi-jung’s right hand has been broken and he now wears a cast. He looks around his studio, as though missing it now that he can’t do anything, and remembers working alongside Eun-jae in the past. Even with Eun-jae, he’d displayed flashes of his current playboy attitude, telling her that girls are like math problems — they make him wonder how to figure one out (suggesting all girls can be easily reduced to a simple answer). His comment causes her smile to falter.

When Jun-pyo visits, Yi-jung is in a lost, bitter state of mind. He says, “It’s over,” referring to his career as a potter (which I don’t understand because yes, his arm is broken, but broken arms heal, no?). In any case, he compares his forced retirement to that of the swimmer with the bum shoulder, which makes Jun-pyo ask sharply if he means Jan-di. Yi-jung: “Is there any other swimmer we know?”

 

Yi-jung thinks, “It looks like you really came to your senses in Macau. Stuff like love or innocence never applied to people like us from the start.” Jun-pyo, however, just wants a straight answer from Yi-jung: What is wrong with Jan-di and why?

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Yi-jung tells him that it was the blow from the chair that did it: “You don’t know how much Jan-di cried after she heard she wouldn’t be able to swim anymore, do you?” This hits Jun-pyo hard, but Yi-jung continues in his dull monotone: “People like you and I have nothing to give the women we love but hurt.”

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Reeling from this news, Jun-pyo heads to the school pool, where he battles his guilt over Jan-di’s injury.

Meanwhile, Jan-di manages to find a new room for herself and Kang-san — it’s not a great location, but it’s what they could afford. Brother and sister promise each other to do their best so their parents won’t have to worry.

 

Madam Kang is traveling on a business trip to Vancouver, so before she leaves, she instructs Mr. Jung to keep a strict eye on Jun-pyo and to report to her at the first hint of something odd. Mr. Jung agrees, although by now it’s clear his loyalties to Jun-pyo trump those to Madam Kang, which we can see in his expression when he sees Jun-pyo sleeping with his pink curly-haired doll.

Mr. Jung also leaves a folder in Jun-pyo’s possession that shows recent photos of Jan-di, meaning he’s still keeping tabs on her and having her watched. I suppose this is supposed to be Romantic, not Stalker-Creepy?

 

Thus Jun-pyo has no trouble finding Jan-di’s new home, where he shows up in the morning as she’s returning with her brother from their delivery run.

He makes up the excuse that he’s not here to see them; he’s here because he’s also moving into the building. It’s not a total lie — he really IS moving in — but it’s obviously because of Jan-di.

 

Jun-pyo explains that this is a sort of test of life experience for the Shinhwa successor. He’s supposed to try fend for himself and experience independence for a while. (Yunno, leadership skills and building character and all that.)

This means he’s their neighbor; he’s taken a nearby apartment for himself.

 

Ga-eul continues with her pottery classes. Eun-jae reads Ga-eul’s dejected mood and guesses that she’s pining over the guy she likes, and urges her to confess her feelings before it’s too late. Ga-eul answers, “I’m afraid. He’s very different from me.”

Wisely, Eun-jae responds, “Love doesn’t work if you hold back. And it won’t remain hidden even if you try to hide it.” Ga-eul senses that Eun-jae is speaking from experience, so she asks why it didn’t work out for her. Eun-jae says that although she wanted to stay with her man, in the end she couldn’t — she kept wanting more than he was willing to give.

Jan-di comes home to find a huge stock of household supplies, which she guesses came from Jun-pyo. It’s cute that he knows how she’d respond, so instead of saying he got them for her, he makes the excuse that he bought too much for himself so he’s just “throwing it away” by dumping it in Jan-di’s apartment.

And then, he is distracted by the wonderful, wonderful smells of cooking ramen. The three settle down to eat, but Jun-pyo takes an instant liking to the noodles (it may be his first experience ever) and quickly scarfs down the entire pot, then asks for more.

 

Taking Eun-jae’s advice to heart, Ga-eul decides to be honest about her feelings. Despite his cool greeting, Ga-eul isn’t deterred and asks him to go out on a date with her. Yi-jung reminds her that they already did that, so she clarifies that she means a real date, not a fake one.

Yi-jung maintains his dismissive demeanor, but Ga-eul tells him she’s not joking. She confesses, “I like you.”

 

For a brief moment, it looks like Yi-jung is surprised (and more affected than he’d like to admit). But he covers that up with his usual defense mechanism, which is to push her away and act the cold-hearted womanizer. He says thanks, but recites his list of dating “rules”:

Yi-jung: “One, I don’t mess with nice girls. Two, I don’t mess with foolish girls. Three, I absolutely don’t mess with girls connected with my friends. Ga-eul, you know all three apply to you, don’t you? My answer is no.”

She starts to protest. He says, “You know the way out.”

Hurt, Ga-eul leaves, but his expression when he’s alone tells us that he’s lashing out because of his inner frustration — he’s kind of like Jun-pyo in that, actually. For Yi-jung, it’s not that he can’t have Ga-eul, but he’s afraid to pursue anything with her, so he keeps her away. But similarly to Jun-pyo, he has enough presence of mind to feel self-loathing over it.

 

That night, Jan-di’s studying is interrupted by a scream coming from nearby — it’s Jun-pyo, and the Big Bad Shinhwa Multimillionaire has just seen a roach. Okay, they are pretty gross, but Jan-di takes care of them easily and shoots Jun-pyo an annoyed look.

When she starts to leave, Jun-pyo hastily asks her to stay and keep him company. So she does, sitting by until Jun-pyo has fallen asleep. She tucks him into bed, then heads back to her apartment.

 

 

She has an unexpected guest — Jae-kyung, who heard about her move from Ga-eul. Frankly, I’m not sure what point this serves (probably a clumsy setup for a future point) because the obvious conflict is that she’ll realize Jun-pyo lives next door. But instead, we just get an abrupt transition from Jae-kyung’s visit to the next scene, which shows Jan-di in the school library.

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While browsing the bookshelves, Jan-di comes across Ji-hoo napping in the aisle. When he wakes up, he notices the Matisse book she’s holding; he takes an interest in her mention of a school report, because this is something he can help her with.

Since his family owns several art galleries, Ji-hoo closes one to the public to allow Jan-di its exclusive use.

In the gift shop, Jan-di looks over a gift set of a ceramic lotus flower, which reminds her of President Yoon’s puzzle, so she asks Ji-hoo if he knows why lotus flowers bloom in mud. Unbeknownst to Jan-di, her wording echoes the monk’s words, and Ji-hoo thinks back to his comment that Jan-di will make him a family.

 

Afterward, Ji-hoo falls asleep while resting on an outdoor bench because apparently he is narcoleptic in this episode. Working off Ji-hoo’s sleeping profile, Jan-di sketches him while he dozes.

When he wakes, she gives him the drawing, which he says is so good it merits a present in return — he hands her a gift box containing the ornamental lotus blossom, and answers her question: “They say that even though lotus flowers bloom in mud, they make the world clean and fragrant.”

Jan-di thinks, “Their name is pretty, and so are their actions.” Ji-hoo: “You’re like that.”

At home, Jun-pyo busily packs his clothing. With Madam Kang still in Vancouver, he asks Mr. Jung for his cooperation in keeping quiet to his mother.

Jae-kyung bursts in, so he tells her exasperatedly that she should call and ask permission instead of barging into his room. This doesn’t faze her, and she flops onto his bed and makes herself at home.

In annoyance, Jun-pyo tries to pull her up — Mr. Jung leaves them to their privacy — but instead, he ends up losing his balance.

 

Jun-pyo falls, hovering over Jae-kyung.

She asks, “Want to make a bet with me?”

COMMENTS

Someone commented in a previous episode thread that it’s almost like Lee Min-ho and Lee Min-jung are trying to suppress the great chemistry they have together for the sake of their characters, and I have to agree — they do have chemistry, which is problematic since their chemistry threatens to outstrip the other couples. (I think Jun-pyo and Jan-di have chemistry too — only, we’ve barely seen them acting together in the past six episodes, which tends to erase that from our short-term memories.)

What’s interesting is that the whole Jun-pyo and Jae-kyung courtship is meant to be unsatisfactory, or at least should point to why these two aren’t right for each other, or at least why they’re less right than Jun-pyo and Jan-di. Textbook Kdrama Studies should tell us that they are supposed to be perfect for each other on paper but not in real life — kind of like how Ji-hoo’s the perfect guy for Jan-di but won’t work out because she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings (anymore). But it’s starting to feel like Jae-kyung really is the right girl for Jun-pyo, and that confuses me. Not that I think the production is going to flout convention and actually put them together — oh hayell no — but because I’m not seeing why we are supposed to be rooting for Jun-di over Jun-kyung, except maybe “because we’re supposed to.”

For instance, think of all of Jun-pyo’s and Jae-kyung’s interactions together. If we were starting this drama with “season 2,” you’d think that Jun-kyung was the ultimate pairing rather than the foil. Even the way Jun-pyo is treating Jae-kyung is softening, and he has a few moments of real connection with her (whether they’re romantic or even just platonic, in a human-to-human way). So why are they pushing this angle when I’m trying to root for the “real” ultimate couple?

We also have a similar issue on the flipside, with Ji-hoo and Jan-di. I know this may sound like a diss, but I don’t mean it that way — it’s more like glass-half-full thinking — when I say that I’m almost glad that Ji-hoo isn’t played by a stronger actor, because then I’d be completely confused about the mixed-up love lines in this drama.

To wit: Imagine someone like the silently broody Jung Il-woo (a la Return of Iljimae) or gentle Ji Hyun-woo (from My Sweet Seoul), or sure, Jang Geun-seok (Beethoven Virus) casting longing glances at Jan-di — I’d be on that ‘ship so fast my head would spin.

As it is, I’m liking their dynamic a lot — not necessarily the actors’ chemistry, but the characters’ relationship. One of my favorite moments is when they each write their wishes for the other person, because it’s poignant that they both would rather wish for the other person’s happiness more than their own. I’m guessing the monk’s prediction actually means Jan-di will restore Ji-hoo’s family (i.e., mend the bridge with his grandfather), but the other meaning (suggesting they’re going to marry) is an interesting thought. In theory.

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1 Comment

  1. ed sheeran first song

    September 4, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Im not such an expert when it comes to this. awesome scan, appreciate your bloging this.

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