I hope the delay for this summary doesn’t suggest that this episode wasn’t good. Flowers For My Life is a wonderful drama and it’s going straight to the (almost-)top of my all-time favorites. You know, I’ve seen a lot of dramas in marathon sessions after all the episodes have already aired, and when you watch a batch of episodes at one time, you’re more likely to overlook flaws, or be forgiving of them. You’re not really given much time to think over a storyline before it’s time to watch the next installment.
Some dramas might be good in marathons, but don’t hold up on an individual basis — Witch Amusement comes to mind. Actually, that series might have been a lot better in one sitting with the fast-forward button. But I think the best dramas are the ones that are great week-to-week as well, because it’s a far more difficult thing to sustain interest over months at a time without bleeding viewership — every week is an opportunity to lose an audience if you don’t keep the quality up.
To me, Flowers For My Life is one of the latter kind — not only do I enjoy it week to week, but every episode leaves me feeling like I’ve just witnessed something remarkable. (And I have.) If you haven’t seen Flowers, you’re missing out. And if you have seen Flowers and didn’t like it, well, we can still be friends. Just maybe not the blood-swapping, speed-dial-programmed, oath-swearing variety.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Nell – “Good Night” [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 14 SUMMARY
Having heard Hana’s mother talking about Hana pursuing Ho Sang because she thought he was rich and dying, Ho Sang sinks into quiet anger. He remembers his initial meeting with Hana, seeing their encounters through new eyes, particularly how Hana confessed her love for him so early on, defying even his comprehension.
(It’s interesting to revisit their earlier interactions, because at some point we go from seeing Hana’s obvious fake admissions to her genuine caring. It’s hard to pinpoint where it happens, which I think is a mark of how skillfully they’ve developed the relationship.)
Without having to ask, Hana can tell that Ho Sang heard everything, and that he knows Hana was faking her interest in him initially. Ho Sang stays in his room alone, ignoring Hana’s pleas to open the locked door. The next morning, Hana finds Ho Sang gone.
She finds him at the bus station and approaches cautiously, gingerly asking how he is and telling him she understands that he’s angry at her. With a mix of disbelief, hurt, and anger, Ho Sang tells Hana he doesn�t want to talk to her right now. All this while, he’d felt so thankful to her — she was the first woman to ever tell him she loved him, to look after him and worry about him.
Ho Sang: “I was so worried about how it would hurt you to know about my illness. I was so sorry. I wanted to believe your words that we were fated. No — I did believe it. If it wasn’t fate, there was no reason for you to like a guy like me. But it was all my delusion. Everything I’d held precious was an act you made up.”
Hana says it wasn’t all an act — she admits she pursued him with the wrong intentions, but at some point, her feelings became real. Ho Sang responds bitterly that she probably just felt sorry for him — pity and a gulty conscience caused her to feel for him. It must’ve been fear of some kind of retribution that made her stay with him.
Ho Sang: “But still, I thought that I knew you best out of anyone in this world. I thought that I could see the Na Hana that the world couldn’t see. But now…”
Hana: “Nothing’s different. What you see is true. My feelings are just as you’ve seen them.”
Still too upset to accept her words, Ho Sang asks her to leave, saying he’d only say hurtful things if she stays, and asks for her to give him time. Saddened, Hana complies, and calls Nam Kyung to keep Ho Sang company, afraid of leaving him completely alone.
Ho Sang admits to Nam kyung that he’d intended on fleeing far away, but couldn’t. He was afraid of collapsing in an unfamiliar place. Although he hadn’t wanted anyone to treat him like a patient, now he’s unable to disregard his illness. He tells her, “People say that forgiveness comes easily when you’re at death’s door. But seeing how I feel sad and bitter, it’s not easy for me. Maybe it’s because it’s not my time to leave yet.”
He notes that Nam Kyung had also offered to stay with him out of pity, and Nam Kyung answers that it’s not a bad thing to feel pity. Truly feeling sorry for someone is because you value them, because you sincerely want them to be happy: “Let’s live feeling sorry for each other, worrying about each other, comforting each other.”
Ho Sang leaves to go on a trip alone, and Nam Kyung worriedly asks him to call her as soon as he gets where he’s going. Knowing Hana’s anxious about his well-being, Nam Kyung takes Hana out for beer while they wait, each doing a poor job hiding their worry. Hana asks if Nam Kyung’s curious to know why Ho Sang’s so angry with her, and Nam Kyung replies, “Yes, I’m curious, but I don’t want to know. If he doesn’t want to tell me, it’s better that I don’t know. I’m sure he’ll understand you in the end, so don’t worry.” Nam Kyung is a wonderful, lovely friend.
While Hana waits, Ho Sang arrives in a remote beachside town, where he dreams happy dreams of being with Hana.
Wandering through a neighborhood, Ho Sang sees some children playing, which reminds him of his own childhood, being picked on by the other kids, but bearing it all with a smile. (The kid really does resemble Cha Tae Hyun, not just in looks but in Ho Sang’s good-natured ability to laugh at himself.) He sees a little girl sitting alone and remembers Hana saying she never had friends.
So, he stoops down to talk to her, and asks why she’s alone. She says she has no friends, and suspiciously wonders why he’s talking to her. Ho Sang: “Because you’re cute.” The little girl grows even more suspicious: “You’re a bad man, aren’t you? I was told to be careful of strange men who tell you you’re pretty or want to buy you things. I’m not even cute. You’re lying.” Ha! The little girl walks off, and Ho Sang remembers Hana telling him she’s not cute, or lovable.
Back at home, Madam Gong recruits Hana’s family to help her as her wait staff that day. Despite the empty caf� and the family’s low spirits (worrying over Ho Sang), she persuades them all to help as she puts out “Completely free!” banners. The place quickly fills up with townspeople, and Madam Gong looks on as Hana’s family enjoys their work, as though taking a picture of the sight in her memory.
Madam Gong and Hana take a moment to chat, and Madam Gong explains that when life gets hard, she gives out free coffee to everyone, like today. People thank her for the coffee and give her a smile; her spirits rise, and she energizes.
Knowing Hana’s concern over Ho Sang, she advises her that it’s not necessarily good just to hold back and sacrifice everything for Ho Sang’s sake. It’s okay to get annoyed or upset. After all, they’re in the middle of a romance. Enjoying the romance will be much better for his body than medicine — but romance isn’t enjoyable when one side just absorbs and takes everything. In order to love properly, don’t worry about what may happen tomorrow, love fully today.
Hana worries to Eun Tak that even if/when Ho Sang returns, she’s afraid of how he’ll feel. What if he went on this trip to get over her? Eun Tak says he probably did, but assures her that he’ll come around to her: “Because you’re the most valuable person to him.”
Ho Sang wanders amid a field of flowers and remembers Hana asking what flowers he’s come (to this life) in search of, and her answer that she’s come looking for him.
Eun Tak, meanwhile, has been noting his father’s feelings for Madam Gong, so he calls her over for a talk, and asks what she thinks of marrying his father: “It seems like my father’s concerned about me, but I fully approve. If you marry my father, I’ll do my best to take care of you as my mother.” Madam Gong wells up with tears, grateful for the thought.
However, she doesn’t intend to marry. She was already married twice in her younger days, and was happy neither time. But now, she’s happy. Her nickname is “Chun Cheon’s Lover” (where Chun Cheon is the name of their hometown). She assures Eun Tak that although she won’t become Pil Gu’s wife, she’ll take care of him as a caring girlfriend. Once he marries, she’ll just share a cup of coffee with him now and then.
Arriving back at her caf�, Madam Gong’s employee asks why she’s so happy, and she happily boasts that she received a proposal — from Eun Tak. The woman can’t believe it, but Madam Gong clarifies — he asked her to be his mother. It’s the happiest proposal she’s ever received in her life.
Eun Tak: “I thought a lot about Dae Bak today. The adults probably did too. For this family to do something together, and have him missing, it feels weird. Even if he isn’t much help when he’s here.”
Hana: “You’re right, he always just gets into trouble.”
Eun Tak: “If even I feel his absence, I worry over how you feel. It makes me anxious.”
Hana: “It does?”
Eun Tak: “Of course it does. On one side, there’s the girl who doesn’t like me. On the other is the guy who took my girl away. Why do I have to worry, when both annoy me so much?”
Hana: “I know you’re a good person.”
Eun Tak: “I didn’t say it asking you to say that. Although, it doesn’t sound bad to hear.”
Hana: “Do you think Ho Sang knows? How you’re concerned over him, how our family’s all worried and waiting. I wish he’d know.”
Ho Sang finds a string of voicemails on his phone: Hana’s mother worries over his health, and feels terrible for her part in spilling the truth. Eun Tak tells him not to try acting cool wandering around, he should come back. And finally, Hana’s wavering voice says, “It’s me. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry… It’s okay if you say hurtful things to me everyday, or get angry and scold me… so come back, okay?”
As Madam Gong makes a coffee delivery to an elderly man, she passes through town, exchanging greetings with everybody, laughing and smiling and being her usual cheerful self. It’s a lovely send-off…
Because shortly thereafter, we get news of her death in an accident. It’s shocking and sudden, and the family is stunned to hear it.
Meanwhile, while Ho Sang stands at a bus stop, undecided over which direction to go, he gets a text message from Hana informing him of Madam Gong’s death. She thought he would like to be back to pay her respects.
The entire town turns out to participate in the funeral, walking in a long line behind her daughter and Hana’s family.
And as they cross over into the countryside, flower petals begin wafting through the air. This may be reading a little too far into the symbol, but it seems altogether appropriate — Madam Gong had found her purpose in life and fulfilled it, finding the “flowers” she was put here to seek. And now that she’s gone, the flowers pay their last respects as well.
Ho Sang remarks that living and dying seems so hard, unfair. Hana’s father explains that the word for “living” came from the term used to light a fire: “It meas we light the candle we were given by fate, day by day. But that wick differs for each person. Somebody’s wick burns out soon, and another’s goes on much longer. Only heaven knows if our fire burns out today, or tomorrow. It seems unbelievable to lose Madam Gong this way, but she must have left because she’d burned up the fate heaven had given her.”
Ho Sang answers, “It’s not purely a bad thing to know when the candle heaven gave me will burn out, is it?”
Madam Gong’s daughter hears the truth of her mother’s situation (that Hana’s family was not, in fact, her step-family) with some comfort: “I’d always worried that my mother was lonely, so my mother lied to me to put me at ease. But coming here today, I realized I’d worried for nothing. My mother lived receiving so much love from so many people, I’m sure she wasn’t lonely.”
Ho Sang watches and thinks, “That day, I realized that people who do their best to be loved leave behind love even after they’re gone. People who do their best to be happy leave happiness behind when they’re gone. What will I leave behind?”
That night, Hana and Ho Sang have a strained conversation. Hana knows he can’t forgive her just yet, but she tells him, “I love you. You don’t have to forgive me, but don’t ignore my feelings. I love you now, and I will in the future.” She tells him of Madam Gong’s advice, how she should love to the fullest today. “No matter how your feelings change, I felt I should tell you mine properly…” With a rueful smile, Hana continues: “I didn’t know saying ‘I love you’ was so painful. If I’d known how my heart would hurt, I wouldn’t have been able to say it so easily before.”
Ho Sang: “But at least you’ve said it. I’ve never said those words. I kept saving it, wanting to wait for a perfect moment to say them. But what if that perfect moment never comes?”
Ho Sang decides to visit his mother while he still looks healthy, and as he departs for Seoul, Hana follows him out the gate…
…and to the bus stop…
…onto the bus…
…and to the train station. Ho Sang sees all this, but doesn’t say anything to her, just as she doesn’t say anything to him. It’s as though Hana’s feelings of love and worry and fear, all mixed up together, render her physically unable to stay away.
Cha Tae-hyun, Flowers For My Life, Kang Hye-jung, Kim Ji-hoon
Seeing how Hana can’t leave, he finally approaches her and asks: “Do you… want to go together?” and Hana’s anxious face breaks into a tiny, hopeful smile.