Korean Movie Stories

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 19

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We’re back to fun and cute, hurrah.

I don’t actually think the new songs in this second half are any better than the songs in the first half (and they’re just as inappropriately used). It’s more a matter of not having had the songs hammered into our brains relentlessly (yet?), so they feel fresher and more interesting to my ears. (Although, I admit to having a few moments of wondering whether PD Jeon just recently saw Goong and is trying to recapture the ambiance of that score. No, they’re not the same songs, but a couple of them sound familiar.)

 

EPISODE 19 RECAP

After falling onto the bed, Jun-pyo quickly gets up and moves away from Jae-kyung.

Her proposal for a bet turns out to be a video game challenge, which she manages to win, bringing out his surly sore-loser side. She claims her winnings by dragging Jun-pyo around for the day.

 

Woo-bin tries to talk some sense into Yi-jung, who is hell-bent on drinking himself into oblivion. He’s unresponsive to Woo-bin’s worrying, though a phone call does jar him out of his liquor haze. (Rule of Kdramas: Bad news brings instant sobriety!) His mother has had another “episode” — a tantrum and pills — and has been asking for him at the hospital.

As in the previous episode, Yi-jung’s attitude is mostly detached, with a sprinkling of bitterness, so he answers that he’s busy. As he heads out, he shakes off Woo-bin’s arm and says, “If you don’t want to see me going crazy, leave me alone.”

He’s in a self-destructive mood, so he seeks out Ga-eul and asks if she still wants that date.

 

Encouraged, Ga-eul accompanies Yi-jung to a club, but her gladness soon dies because Yi-jung gets busy flirting with every woman who passes. He’s not even being subtle about it, and Ga-eul is naive enough to take his behavior at face value, when it’s clear (to us) that he’s doing this make a point.

Ga-eul steps out to the ladies’ room, and hesitates for a long moment over whether to return to the table. She decides to leave, not seeing Yi-jung until he calls out to her, “If this is enough to send you running, you shouldn’t have asked for the date in the first place.”

She’s gotten the message, but Yi-jung still has one “highlight” left.

 

Or maybe he really means “lowlight.” At dinner, Yi-jung’s father is friendly and open, but the more pleasant he is, the uglier Yi-jung’s mood grows. Yi-jung points out that it’s clear his father likes Ga-eul (insinuating that he like-likes her, if ya know what I mean). Personally, I don’t think his dad means to be skeevy when he calls Ga-eul cute, but Yi-jung turns everything into an innuendo.

He says caustically that father and son are similar — Mom’s lying in the hospital from an overdose and they’re both out. Dad suggests discussing family matters later, while Yi-jung’s smile twists further as he asks, “Then what should we talk about? This girl seems your type — want to borrow her?”

 

Ga-eul is really uncomfortable by now, but Yi-jung’s on a roll and he continues with the verbal jabs, saying Ga-eul is practically the same age as his father’s girlfriends anyway.

Fed up, Ga-eul throws water in Yi-jung’s face. She excuses herself and leaves, and Dad tells Yi-jung that he went too far. Coming from him, that’s got to be pretty lowering.

 

Since Jae-kyung won the bet, she drags Jun-pyo out on a grocery shopping run. (Note: She really is like a female Jun-pyo, and even uses some of his more commonly used phrases.)

Afterwards, Jae-kyung heads for a particular neighborhood, which starts looking familiar to Jun-pyo. Jae-kyung explains that they’re dropping by Jan-di’s new apartment — and given that Jae-kyung knows about the Jun/di relationship, feigning innocence while forcing them together makes Jae-kyung rather mean, doesn’t it? Or at least calculating?

 

But Jan-di’s not home, because she’s still out with Ji-hoo. While they wait, Jae-kyung and Jun-pyo cook some ramen, which they end up fighting over. (Jae-kyung claims most of it for herself.)

Jun-pyo notices that Kang-san hasn’t taken any — having eaten it every day, he’s not all that eager for more. Jun-pyo asks what he’d prefer to eat; Kang-sang answers that he’d die happy to stuff himself with pizza to his heart’s content.

They wonder what’s keeping Jan-di, but Kang-san can’t call her because Jan-di has no phone. Hearing this gives Jun-pyo a start, since he’d previously given her a phone. Kang-san explains that they’d given it to their parents in case of emergency.

This gives Jae-kyung an idea, and she drags Jun-pyo off to the cell phone store. Must be nice to be so rich you can just buy phones for your poor friends whenever the whim strikes.

 

Following their museum date, Ji-hoo drops Jan-di off at the clinic, where she invites him in for tea. At his hesitation, Jan-di guesses that he doesn’t want to run into his grandfather and assures him that he’s already left for the day.

Looking around, Ji-hoo finds that he’s unexpectedly affected at the sight of old family photos, which unleash a flood of memories of a happier childhood and a formerly loving relationship with his grandfather.

Grandpa Yoon walks in and catches him by surprise. Overwhelmed with emotion, the doctor is glad to see his estranged grandson and struggles to make an apology, knowing he has limited time to appeal to Ji-hoo before the latter storms out.

When Ji-hoo turns to exit, Dr. Grandpa stops him and hurriedly says he’s sorry, that he made a mistake years ago. Ji-hoo cynically says that he’s the one who made the mistake — for staying alive instead of his parents. “You must have hated me.”

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Grandpa tells him, “It’s not your fault.”

 

(To be honest, I did want to put up a more attractive screencap of Kim Hyun-joong here… but this awkward eye-bulging look is more representative of his acting in this scene…)

Ji-hoo says, without turning to face him: “You should have said that fifteen years ago. Do you know how much that child waited for you? You don’t know, do you, how much that boy wanted to cry and be held in his grandfather’s arms!”

He storms out, which is when Jan-di finally comes in and guesses what’s happened. Dr. Grandpa is again seized with chest pains, but he urges Jan-di to go after Ji-hoo instead.

 

Jan-di runs outside into the rain, knowing that Ji-hoo has taken off on foot because his motorcycle is still parked out front. However, she chooses the wrong direction; Ji-hoo watches her leave, then is assailed by painful memories of his parents’ funeral.

His grandfather had shown up to the burial, but ignored him and driven off alone, leaving a young (and adorable) Ji-hoo sobbing. It’s got to be particularly traumatizing, since not only was he orphaned, he’d been forsaken by the one person he had left, whom he had depended on. Ji-hoo breaks down into tears, and man, he’s lucky it’s raining so he doesn’t have to fake those tears.

I’ve been softening on Kim Hyun-joong because he seems like a nice guy and the more I read about him in the press, the more I like him as a person. I’ve let his vague, dull acting slide in recent episodes because at least his character didn’t have much emoting to do. But when a spot of real emotion is required, it just can’t be ignored: He is not a good actor.

 

Unable to find Ji-hoo, Jan-di waits for him outside his house. Good thing, too, since she’s there to catch him (literally!) when he staggers home in a daze and collapses on top of her, exhausted both physically and mentally.

And we can never have too much emotionally battered staggering in one episode, because now it’s Yi-jung’s turn.

He arrives at his door inebriated, and fumbles with his keychain. He’s so drunk that he can’t pick out the right key or fit it in the lock, so after a couple tries, he throws down the keys in a fit of frustration.

Lucky for him, Ga-eul arrives to pick up the keys, and helps him inside.

 

Despite her assistance, Ga-eul isn’t over the harsh way he’d treated her before — as soon as she brings Yi-jung inside, she turns to leave.

But Yi-jung grabs her hand to pull her back. He mumbles, “I was afraid I’d make her cry, like my father, like my mother. I chased her away because I didn’t want her to cry because of me.”

(Does he mean Ga-eul? Eun-jae?)

 

I guess after all those episodes of damsels in distress saved by F4 swooping in for the rescue, this is the episode for the ladies to do a little swooping in of their own. Now it’s Jan-di’s turn to tend to Ji-hoo; she watches over him and, thinking he’s asleep, raises a hand to his cheek. She’s startled but doesn’t pull away when Ji-hoo reaches up to grasp her hand tightly.

Jan-di stays with Ji-hoo during the night, and prepares some porridge for him before she leaves.

 

When Ji-hoo wakes up, he finds the breakfast waiting for him, and sits down to eat his porridge of pity.

(Does anyone eat as miserably as Ji-hoo? Well, since food makes him so sad, I suppose it’s no wonder he’s so skinny.)

 

Meanwhile, Jun-pyo has spent all night anxiously pacing around his apartment, waiting for Jan-di to come home. When she finally does, he’s out on the landing to hound her about where she’s been and why she’s coming home now.

Jan-di’s knee-jerk reaction is to feel guilty, but then she remembers that she didn’t do anything wrong and shouldn’t feel defensive. So when he insists, “Tell me where you were!” she shouts back, “No!”

She declines to enlighten him even when he asks again in a calmer voice (albeit uneasily), “Are you really not going to tell me?” (She’s really not.)

 

Madam Kang arrives home. She’s happy to hear that Jun-pyo has been spending more time with Jae-kyung, but asks Mr. Jung meaningfully, “Don’t you have anything more to report to me?”

That makes Mr. Jung nervous. Madam Kang shows him photos of Jun-pyo with Jan-di (and how the hell did she get a camera inside Jan-di’s apartment showing them eating ramen together?). Luckily, she accepts Mr. Jung’s apology that he was inattentive, rather than suspecting that he has been purposely hiding things from her. She orders him to get on the ball and find out what’s going on.

 

Jun-pyo may have had bad luck with Jan-di, but he’s better at playing the big brother to Kang-san. Remembering his pizza wish, Jun-pyo sets up a large food stall outside Kang-san’s school, equipped with a whole buffet of different kinds of pizza. A sign reads, “Kang-san, be strong! Eat up.”

Jun-pyo tells him to dig in, and Kang-san’s classmates eagerly line up behind him.

 

At home that night, Jan-di notices how quiet it is — and although she routinely complains about Jun-pyo making a fuss, now that he isn’t, she thinks, “It worries me now that it’s so quiet.”

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Jun-pyo’s merely having some problems with his rickety stove, and has to resort to eating his ramen dry (which, by the way, I totally used to do as a kid). An unexpected visit from his mother’s flunkies ruins the mood, though — they’ve been ordered to retrieve him, and drag him off. He protests, and runs into Ji-hoo down in the alley.

 

Ji-hoo has learned Jan-di’s new address from Ga-eul. He trades a long look with Jun-pyo, but the two friends don’t talk as Jun-pyo is pushed into the awaiting car. There’s something really nice about the way Jun-pyo shoots one last look up at Jan-di’s apartment, particularly because (1) he’s leaving her behind, and (2) he knows Ji-hoo is on his way to her.

Ji-hoo doesn’t go up immediately, though, because when he does knock on Jan-di’s door, he’s got Yi-jung and Woo-bin with him. They greet Jan-di cheerfully and announce that they’re here for a housewarming. Looking around, though, F3 are a little dismayed that at how shabby her new place is, although Jan-di assures them that it’s quite livable.

And then, another visitor crashes the party.

Oh, Madam Kang is so scary. It’s amazing how much Lee Hye-young can do with one direct stare.

Everyone comes out to see the latest visitor, stopping short at the sight of Madam Kang’s posse. Jan-di asks cautiously what the reason for the visit is — and while she’s not rude, she doesn’t grovel in the way Madam Kang probably expects from everyone. Madam Kang says in her cold way that the polite thing to do is invite her inside. Even commoners should know that that’s basic manners.

It’s the formality that she wants, not the actual offer, because when Jan-di complies and invites her inside, Madam Kang sniffs that it’s better to stay outside than step foot inside that hovel.

 

Indicating the guys, Madam Kang insinuates again that Jan-di’s got loose morals — and even they bristle at the implication and speak up for Jan-di. Jan-di says, “I haven’t behaved in such a wrong manner that I deserve those words.”

Madam Kang begs to differ: “You call an engaged man to your house secretly, and you say you haven’t behaved wrongly?”

She asks Jan-di for a “favor,” though it’s really more like an order: “Even if Jun-pyo comes to see you, please don’t meet him. As you said, you and he have nothing to do with each other anymore. I can trust you, can’t I? Miss Jan-di, I’ll have faith in that great sense of pride of yours.”

 

The words are polite, the tone is civil, and yet there’s a very steely undertone. Madam Kang then addresses F3: “This is why I oppose Jun-pyo meeting you, too. Think of your families, and for the love of god, come to your senses.”

It’s sweet of the guys to come to Jan-di’s defense, even if it’s ineffective against the Witch Mom. After her departure, Woo-bin tells Jan-di not to take her words to heart — she’s like that with everyone.

Next, the friends all pitch in to offer Jan-di a housewarming present — they show up armed with wallpaper, paint, and other cleaning supplies, and get to work redecorating the room.

On the downside, Kang-san has to live in a pink room covered in flowers. On the upside, it does look a lot better once it’s done.

 

Meanwhile, Witch Mom has punished Jun-pyo by grounding him. On the downside, the lone exception to the rule is Jae-kyung, who is admitted into his room. On the upside, she does offer a way out.

Jun-pyo’s annoyance gives way to interest when Jae-kyung says the magic words (which she knows will win his attention): “I was going to suggest dropping by Jan-di’s place together, but I guess I’ll go alone…”

At that, Jun-pyo tries to pretend he’s not interested, though obviously he’s desperate to go along, and agrees to accompany Jae-kyung.

 

When the Jun/kyung couple arrive, they find everyone else already there and in a festive mood. Done redecorating, F3 and the girls sit around the table and joke that this feels like an MT (membership training, a typical college ritual). Ga-eul suggests they play the quintessential MT game — the Truth Game — and Jae-kyung bursts in, “Me too!”

The rules are thus: The one who is asked the question must tell the truth. However, if s/he doesn’t want to answer, that person has to give up something to the asker. That “something ” varies based on what they decide — sometimes it’s a drink, or a slap on the arm. Jae-kyung suggests a kiss.

Going with the kiss idea, Yi-jung starts things off with a question for Ji-hoo: “Can you love someone other than Seo-hyun?”

 

It’s a simple question and the answer’s not difficult, but Ji-hoo wants to have some fun — he plants a kiss on Yi-jung’s cheek. It’s adorable.

Now it’s Ji-hoo’s turn to ask: “Jun-pyo, if the one you love runs into trouble because of you, could you let her go?”

I was hoping for another kiss, but Jun-pyo answers straightaway, “No, I won’t. I can’t. I’d grab on tight, and be sure to make her happy.”

Jun-pyo wastes no time in proceeding with his question: “Geum Jan-di, the promise you made before on the street — does it still stand?”

 

He’s referring, of course, to the sunset scene in Episode 10 after he kissed her in traffic. Back then, he’d asked her to promise, “No matter what happens, don’t run from me.” She had promised that his mother would never be the reason for breaking them apart.

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But now, Jan-di answers, quiet and matter-of-fact: “No. The person who made the promise and the one who asked it are both gone now.”

  

It’s a sad moment, although she hurries to gloss over the silence by forcing a smile and asking her question. She picks Woo-bin, and says, “If F4 were women, who would you want to marry?” (Ha, like he needs the “if they were women” qualifier!)

But no, Woo-bin answers that he’d rather stay single — heck, he’d rather join a monastery — than have to settle down with one of these fools. He points out their faults — one is stuck-up (Jun-pyo), another is “fourth-dimensional” (oddball Ji-hoo), and the third is a cold-blooded Casanova.

 

When Jun-pyo drops off Jae-kyung, she asks him to answer one last Truth Game question: “Friendship or love: If you had to choose between them, which would you pick?”

Without hesitating, Jun-pyo replies, “Both. Because there’s no such thing as giving up in my dictionary.”

(After he leaves, Jae-kyung sighs that his answer — which bodes ill for her, since he’s got no intention of giving Jan-di up — appeals to her. What a dilemma.)

 

It’s funny how Mama Kang chooses her revenge(s), because when she faced Jan-di on the rooftop, she was actually rather civil. Her words were mean and she did insult Jan-di, but her attitude wasn’t one of hatred or fury. (I’d call it more resigned and frustrated.) And yet, when she does choose to act, it’s so calculated. Like with Jun-pyo, the cruelty really does hurt more when it’s so… carefully considered.

Her next step is to take away Jan-di’s home. It’s not enough for her to evict her from her apartment — which she could so easily do — but she actually has the entire building planned for demolition. A construction worker tells Jan-di to vacate immediately.

 

On the other hand, life is looking (slightly) better for Yi-jung. While packing up his pottery materials in his studio, he finds Ga-eul’s gift and looks at the arm socks fondly.

Ga-eul, meanwhile, is putting in some extra time at her pottery class. Eun-jae wishes her luck and starts to leave, which is when Ga-eul spots the little ceramic puzzle piece hanging from her purse. She takes an immediate liking to it, and asks to borrow it so she can make one for herself. Eun-jae hands it over, but asks her to take care of it, because the item has a lot of meaning for her.

 

If you’ll remember, Yi-jung had the other pieces in his collection — each jigsaw piece had been formed of clay, and made to fit together like a real puzzle — which I suppose symbolizes that Eun-jae is the one missing piece in Yi-jung’s heart. Or something.

To Ga-eul’s surprise, Yi-jung drops by her classroom, apparently not surprised to find her there.

And finally, Jan-di must say goodbye to the last of her family. With their finances in such dire straits, her brother has offered to move down to join their parents in their fishing village. Kang-san has an upbeat attitude and tries to talk like this is a great thing, that he’s lucky and looking forward to joining their parents.

Jan-di plays along, but it’s much harder for her to pretend this is what they all want. She wonders if she should join the family, too, but Kang-san reminds her she’s got to graduate and go on to medical school.

 

He boards the train and says his last goodbyes, reminding her to take care and eat well, and also: “I think Jun-pyo hyung still likes you.”

COMMENTS

First of all, I always love seeing F3 in support of Jan-di, just as I loved how uncomfortable and stiff they were around Jae-kyung in a previous episode.

As for Jun-pyo and Jae-kyung: I’m willing to revise my sentiments from the prior episode, although I still think that the actors have more chemistry than the characters ought. And their interactions did muddle up the dynamics to make it seem more romantic than I wanted. Even though I agree with comments that they’re supposed to be friends more than lovers, I wasn’t getting that from the actual acting, which is why I found it confusing.

On the other hand, I think this episode went a long way in defining the lines of the relationships, and yes, now it does look much more obvious that the Jun/kyung relationship is meant to be platonic more than romantic (at least on Jun-pyo’s end) — the video game was a prime example of that, with Jun-pyo treating Jae-kyung like one of the guys.

Previous interactions aside, in this episode Jun-pyo makes it very clear that he has only ever wanted Jan-di, and that he is absolutely not giving up. I appreciated that his answer in the Truth Game came immediately — he doesn’t even have to think about it because the truth is so defined in his mind.

Same thing when Jae-kyung asks her question later. I’d wondered whether she was asking him to choose between friendship and love because she recognized that Jan-di had fully occupied the slot for “love” in Jun-pyo’s heart, relegating Jae-kyung to friendship. It seems like she’s grasping a bit at straws, like she’d settle for friendship if that meant she could still have him, even if that ruled out love. Because Jun-pyo may harbor doubt about whether he can win Jan-di back, but at least there are none about his feelings.


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1 Comment

  1. ed sheeran x album

    September 4, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    There is visibly a bunch to know about this. I believe you made various good points in features also.

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