Witch Amusement: Episode 2
Episode 2 was so much fun!! Fans of My Girl shouldn’t miss this show — it has the same fast-paced, cheeky charm, but the stories are so different that it won’t feel like a rehash. I think watching Que Sera Sera and Witch Amusement will provide me a nice balance — QSS has the potential to be the more insightful, artsy choice, while Witch Amusement is bound to be one of the year’s more energetic, trendy picks.
Let me note, also, that it took me extra-long this time to narrow down the screencap list… (I usually take 100-150 caps per episode and post 30-50, but this time I took nearly 400 caps.) There was just such an abundance of great shots. The director really has a stylish flair for the visual, and a knack at cutting shots together to create energy.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Epik High – “평화의날” (Day of Peace)… just because I feel like it. [ zShare download ]
Witch Amusement isn’t the most groundbreaking or original kdrama out, in terms of story lines and plot devices, but I do think its style and fun-loving appeal are more than enough compensation. We see the return of the contract (although it’s not a love contract for once), and some other familiar kdrama tropes. But they are tropes because on some level they work, and we are mostly content to be familiar with those devices.
Jae Hee is pure fun to watch, and I always marvel at his ability to turn on a dime between levity and seriousness. Han Ga In isn’t perhaps quite as good, but I do like her and I think she works as Yoo Hee. She may not have played Yoo Hee as bitchy as she could have (Han Ye Seul in Fantasy Couple was a lot more brittle and mean, but in a lovable way), but she does convey Yoo Hee’s cluelessness well. Yoo Hee isn’t simply bitchy because she’s a bitch; she’s mean because she has no tact, and no self-awareness. And no patience. In any case, I think Han Ga In did a good job of showing Yoo Hee as someone who simply doesn’t get it. Everyone else is out playing the game, and Yoo Hee’s obliviously wondering, “Huh? There’s a game?”
As for Kim Jung Hoon and Jeon Hye Bin, they’ve had little to do so far, so I’ll have to hold off judgment for later! And now….
EPISODE 2 SUMMARY
We pick up from the previous episode with Yoo Hee clobbering Mu-ryong in the face with a frying pan. He quite literally sees stars, but gets over his pain quickly when he sees Yoo Hee stumble and fall unconscious.
Yoo Hee wakes up in the hospital to see Mu-ryong there, who tells her she’s suffering from acute stomach convulsions. Rather than being grateful for his troubles, she fires him.
At home, though, she sees more food laid out for her, with a note from Mu-ryong:
Note: “Even if you want to kick me out, I cooked you some porridge (joohk). You know how to heat it up, don’t you? If you don’t, give me a call!!”
At work, Yoo Hee is visited by an annoying, superficial former college-mate, Sara Han, who cheerily reminds Yoo Hee that their university reunion is on Friday night. Yoo Hee’s embarrassed to realize Sara’s new boyfriend is the guy who ditched her at the blind date when she beat up the sleazy customer. Since Yoo Hee was going on blind dates, everyone presumes Yoo Hee’s still single — “Like always!” — and will be flying solo at the party. After hearing Sara rub it in yet some more, Yoo Hee says she has a boyfriend. Sara doesn’t believe her, though, and tells her to bring her new guy on Friday so she can see for herself.
So Yoo Hee is left with few options. She goes on blind dates in succession, asking each guy to accompany her on Friday, but much as in Episode 1, each of her dates knows right away it’s not going to work out. Yoo Hee flips through her phone contact list, down to her two final resorts, both of whom she’s loath to use: Johnny or Mu-ryong. (Oh, and I made a mistake in the previous recap with Mu-ryong’s last name. It’s not Choi, it’s Chae. Both are pronounced similarly in Korean.)
It’s interesting — Yoo Hee has no problem asking virtual strangers (her blind dates) to go along with her odd date request even though she knows they’re not a good match, but she has an awful lot of pride when it comes to people she actually knows.
She calls Mu-ryong first, but he assumes she’s calling about the money he still owes her, and fakes illness. Later, he goes to his girlfriend Seung Mi’s restaurant because he wants to meet Johnny (as a fan/admirer), as Seung Mi’s arranged a time for him to come in. Little does he know that Yoo Hee has decided to ask Johnny to help her, and is on her way to the restaurant, and nearly runs into her. He narrowly escapes.
Yoo Hee can’t quite bring herself to ask Johnny for help straight-out, and inquires in a circuitous way if he’s busy Friday night. Unfortunately, because of work, he’s unavailable… so Yoo Hee covers and says she’d wanted to hire his services that night. But he can’t comply on such short notice. Johnny gently tells her that if she needs anything from him, she can ask anytime, without beating around the bush.
(I take back what I said about Dennis O’s Korean improving. In Episode 2, it’s pretty awful. It’s so mangled at points that I feel sorry for whoever’s translating because it’ll be a chore. That said, I do like his character — gentle and kind, who cares about Yoo Hee, though we don’t know their backstory yet — even if his acting doesn’t do a lot to elevate it to a real, emotional level. For now, I’ll refrain from mockery, as long as his acting at least stays unobtrusive to the scene.)
So Yoo Hee’s outta luck. And to put that final nail in the coffin, she gets a phone call from Sara informing her that YOO JOON HA, Yoo Hee’s first love, is going to be there… with his fiancee. That clearly means a lot to Yoo Hee, who freezes in alarm. You can just imagine Sara twirling her hair and cackling in glee, being able to spitefully drop that bomb. Although, I suppose Sara’s too dumb to be truly hateful.
Yoo Hee looks nostaligically at the picture she keeps of him in her bedside nightstand. Ironically, the frame says “family.” I wonder if that’s for a reason or if it’s just a thoughtless oversight. I’m gonna go with oversight.
In any case, Yoo Hee calls Mu-ryong and curtly demands he give her the 4,000 manwon ($40,000) this week. Mu-ryong, who’s found menial work in a Korean restaurant’s kitchen, meets her and hands her an envelope with cash… but it’s filled with meager bills. Not even close to 4,000. Yoo Hee sneers and throws the money back at him. (There’s something really cruel about throwing money at a person in disgust, isn’t there? It just seems so degrading.)
Mu-ryong earnestly tells her he doesn’t want to pay her back bit by bit, he’d prefer to be able to clear his debt in one go, but he can’t. But seeing Yoo Hee’s unyielding expression, he gets up resignedly and tells her, “Fine, let’s go to the police station. There’s nothing else we can do, so let’s go.”
As he’s walking away, Yoo Hee asks: “Are you… doing anything tomorrow night?”
Mu-ryong can’t believe Yoo Hee’s so hard-pressed for a man that she’d resort to asking him to fake it for a night. He isn’t immediately persuaded, but his ears prick up the instant she says she’ll reduce his debt if he goes along. He asks, “How much?” and she replies, “How much will it take?”
Mu-ryong busily calculates in his head how much a reduction he should ask for… $3,000? $10,000? $15,000? or…. an even half at $20,000? But he imagines she’ll rescind the offer if he’s too greedy, and Yoo Hee meanwhile wonders to herself if he would possibly dare ask for the entire amount. So they both speak at the same time:
MR: “$5,000” YH: “$20,000”
But Mu-ryong only hears the first part and thinks Yoo Hee was going to offer $2,000… so he says that’s too low. He’ll go as low as $3,000, but that’s it. Yoo Hee smiles, relieved, and accepts.
Mu-ryong and Yoo Hee meet the next day to go to the reunion, but Mu-ryong takes a look at Yoo Hee’s typical drab attire and announces it won’t do. She finds nothing wrong with her appearance, but Mu-ryong tells her the deal’s off — if he has to pretend to be her boyfriend, he can’t pretend with her looking like that.
So they end up shopping for a new look. Yoo Hee ventures into the wide world of dark browns, but Mu-ryong pushes her for something more attractive. He also “accidentally-on-purpose” breaks her glasses, and takes her hair out from her ponytail. She’s uncomfortable, but Mu-ryong’s satisfied that she looks presentable now. Judging from the reactions of everyone else — stunned shock — he was successful.
Yoo Hee introduces Mu-ryong as her boyfriend, and cuts him off from admitting he’s an aspiring chef, leading him to introduce himself as “The French cuisine…loving plastic surgeon, Chae Mu-ryong.”
She also runs into her first love, Prince Yul! Oh,wait. It’s Yoo Joon Ha. Kim Jung Hoon looks as baby-faced as ever, but honestly, that fiancee of his is looking a little weathered. She could pass for someone 10 years older than him.
Joon Ha and Mu-ryong get off on the wrong foot, and let’s just say, Joon Ha ain’t no gentle prince Yul. Perhaps the word “ass” is a bit strong… but he’s definitely no pushover.
Unfortunately, just at the moment where Yoo Hee faces her old love….
As everyone else just gawks, stares, and laughs at Yoo Hee’s pink boxers, Mu-ryong looks over in a mix of horror and anger, and runs to Yoo Hee’s side. She’s still frozen in shock, so he takes his jacket and wraps it around her. He asks if she can walk, but she can barely answer him, so he takes care of the matter himself:
Seriously? It’s hot.
What’s a girl to do?, except get drunk, of course. And now, we get to the crux of the matter…
Mu-ryong: “Don’t be depressed, just try changing. Then, you can go find a man…”
Yoo Hee: “How? Change how?”
Mu-ryong: “That’s obvious. Change… appealingly.”
Yoo Hee: “So, how? Tell me how to do that.”
Mu-ryong: “Are you really asking because you don’t know? You change into someone womanly, beautiful. If you just do as much as I did for you today….”
Yoo Hee: “Are you so great? Fine, then you do it. Why, don’t you have confidence? Is it too hard? Is it impossible?”
Mu-ryong: “It’s not easy… But it’s not impossible either.”
Yoo Hee: “Then do it. If you do well, I’ll reduce your debt.”
Mu-ryong: “Really? How much this time?”
Yoo Hee: “All of it.”
Yoo Hee passes out, and Mu-ryong takes her home. She’s out cold until he puts her to bed, at which point she wakes up abruptly, stares at Mu-ryong, and seems to be ready to unleash her fury on him…
…but instead simply says, “Don’t leave,” before falling asleep.
So he doesn’t.
In the morning, Mu-ryong’s got yet another meal ready and waiting for Yoo Hee. (Sigh. These writers really know how to get to a girl’s heart and mushify it into a helpless pool of Jae Hee adoration. Like they even had to do much in the first place.)
This also segues us into the second animated Witch Castle segment, with Mu-ryong opposite Witch Yoo Hee, as the two debate the terms of their contract. He has one month to change her into a success, if he wants his debt canceled.
And so, Mu-ryong pretends to his family that he’s leaving for New York to study abroad, and instead takes up residence in Yoo Hee’s apartment.
They get started with the transformation right away. Mu-ryong gets rid of her entire dour black wardrobe, gives her a haircut, contact lenses, and a new, stylish closet full of colorful clothes. He goes all out in his best Henry Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle, to produce someone that not even her co-workers recognize on first sight.
Yoo Hee makes full use of having Mu-ryong on conract to run her errands, which he does with only minor grumbling, until she has him pick up someone named Paran at school. He doesn’t think too much about the strange request until Paran asks about his mother. Mu-ryong asks Yoo Hee if Paran’s her son, and she scoffs, but doesn’t answer the question of who he is, then.
Mu-ryong’s left wondering about Paran as Yoo Hee has him fetching her things as she takes a bath. (It seems Yoo Hee’s catchphrase is going to be “ee-bwa,” which means “Look here,” which she utters every time she orders Mu-ryong to do some chore or another.) In any case, Mu-ryong seems much more embarrassed at the intrusion into her privacy than she does, and tries to hide his eyes as he gets her a mat for her bath (to keep the water warm?). Clearly, this situation is not going to work, and he slips and falls…