Flowers For My Life: Episode 7
Episode 7 was a great example of a kdrama that managed to work well as a separate episode with its own theme and story, as well as part of the larger series arc. This is what I wish Air City would do better — tell a smaller story that resonates thematically with the larger story, and have both those stories directly affect the characters. Beautifully executed.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Tim – “하루새” (haru sae) [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 7 SUMMARY
After waiting in town all day for Ho Sang, Hana finally gets up and goes home. Eun Tak sees Hana trudging home, depressed and silent. Having witnessed her bouncy enthusiasm earlier, before going on her date with Ho Sang, Eun Tak figures Ho Sang once again disappointed her.
Ho Sang, having gone to Nam Kyung in a burst of pity after hearing about her dead fiance, listens as she talks as though he’s still alive. He can’t bring himself to tell her he knows the truth, and goes along as she says Kang Jae isn’t very talkative and gentle; he’s stubborn and hard to get to know. But, “He once said to me, shallow waters may make a lot of noise, but deep rivers don’t make a sound. He said the way he feels about me is like a deep river.”
Feeling bad over missing their date, Ho Sang calls Hana, but she doesn’t answer. He goes to their date meeting place and sees her discarded pile of flower petals on the ground. He knows Hana was waiting there when he sees “Dae Bak” spelled out in petals. At home, Ho Sang hesitates to drop in on Hana, who’s waiting up for him, but he decides against it and walks away.
In the morning, Ho Sang talks to an upset Hana. Since he missed their date, he offers to go out with her today, but Hana tells him her plans were only valid yesterday. She thought he’d decided to give up on Nam Kyung, but doesn’t wait to hear his attempt to explain why he went to her. She tells him she’ll give him one more chance, and this time, he’d better make it.
Hana’s mother is shocked to find evidence that her husband is carrying on with Madam Gong, the tearoom lady, and follows him in suspicion. She sees them together, interrupts them in a fury, and tells Madam Gong to leave other people’s husbands alone.
Madam Gong argues back, hitting Hana’s mother in a particularly weak point, telling her that the men don’t come to her because they want to fool around with a woman; they come because they want someone to listen to their worries. How lacking must the wives be at home that they’d seek out her comfort? Madam Gong knows more about the husbands’ worries than their own wives.
Stung, Hana’s mother argues back, hitting where it hurts. She points to Madam Gong’s sad existence, without a husband or child to lean on. She’s in no place to criticize Hana’s mother’s actions as a wife. Both women pretend not to be hurt by the exchange, but they’re clearly shaken.
Hana calls out Nam Kyung to set the record straight, reminding Nam Kyung of her request that Hana take good care of Ho Sang. Ho Sang is too nice, and Nam Kyung is making it impossible for him to come to Hana while Nam Kyung’s having a hard time. Hana wants her to leave Ho Sang alone.
However, Nam Kyung has just heard the news of Ho Sang’s supposed death from an old school friend, and tells Hana that Ho Sang’s going through something right now, and needs friends. She’s sorry that her presence makes Hana uncomfortable, but as a friend, she won’t leave him while he’s going through a hard time.
Mired in their men troubles, Hana and her mother sit side by side in dissatisfaction, wondering what they’re so lacking that their men have to find solace in other women.
Mom: “What did I do that was so wrong? It’s unfair.”
Hana: “I know. I did my best, but it seems like I’m still lacking.”
Mom: “Even if he can’t tell me his feelings, he does with another woman?”
Hana: “Exactly. Why does he tell things to her that he can’t tell me? What can she do that I can’t? I’m much more concerned about him that she is.”
Mom: “That’s what I mean. No matter how horrible a wife I could be, can you compare me with a silly cafe madam?”
Hana: “Even if one person’s heart is full with the other person, is that not enough? Does he need people other than me?”
The household is further divided when a client arrives with a strange request — an elderly widower requests that when he’s buried, he’d like to be laid to rest with both of his women (both already deceased), one on either side. The reason? He’d lived his life maintaining two households, and would like to be buried with both wives.
Hana, her mother, and Eun Tak are offended and opposed. It’s bad enough the man had two families in life; how dare he be so selfish in death? Such an act would be disrespectful to the women. Meanwhile, the men feel the obligation to obey the man’s last wish. Ho Sang says the man would feel even worse having to choose just one woman to be buried with. Hana’s mother orders her husband to refuse.
Nam Kyung worries over Ho Sang and the knowledge that he’s technically “dead” to the world. Apparently his death enabled his family to survive, as I believe they received money upon his death. She meets Ho Sang and confronts him, wanting to take him to Seoul to set things straight. Ho Sang resists — he has nothing left of his old life but his family, and even then, he’s more helpful to them dead than alive. Nam Kyung persists: “But this isn’t right. How can a living person pretend to be dead?” Ho Sang bursts out: “But you think of a dead person as a living one!”
After getting things in the open, Nam Kyung asks why Ho Sang didn’t tell her he knew, and he answers: “If you think of him as being alive, I thought I should go along with it. What right do I have to treat him as dead when he lives so vividly in your heart? You’re the one who loves him, and you’re the one who’ll have to let him go.”
Nam Kyung: “Nobody else thought like you. Even my parents couldn’t understand how I couldn’t accept his death.”
Ho Sang: “If I were him, I’d be grateful to you. For still talking as though he’s next to you, remembering him, missing him. I wonder if I’ve started thinking like this now that I’ve become a dead guy too.”
They confess that it’s a relief now that the truth is out. Ho Sang doesn’t have to act like he’s well-off and rich, and Nam Kyung doesn’t have to always put on a brave, happy front.
Hana finds herself waiting for Ho Sang again, glumly. Eun Tak suggests they go out and enjoy themselves, because staying home and waiting will just make her feel worse. Hana: “Since when did we become people who hang out together?” Eun Tak: “Since now.”
Hearing that Ho Sang’s going to be late again (Nam Kyung wants to take him to the sea, which is rather far away), Hana decides to take Eun Tak up on his offer. They go bike-riding, and Eun Tak observes Hana’s gradual mood lift with a smile of his own. In fact, he’s so absorbed seeing her spirits rise that he falls off his bike. Ah, Eun Tak. I wish you were a real person.
Eun Tak asks what Hana had planned on doing on her date with Ho Sang, saying he’ll do it for her. Hana tells him he can’t, and Eun Tak briefly asks in a flare of competitive spirit, “What can he do that I can’t?” Hana explains that she was going to kiss him in a public place, like in the movies, and Eun Tak scoffs. Stuff like that only works with appropriately cool people — if she and Ho Sang did that, people would just gawk and laugh. He, on the other hand, is sufficiently cool to pull off something so cheesy — but he’d never do something like that.
Hana wonders if Ho Sang would’ve disliked it too, and Eun Tak responds, “Of course. That’s something you do with someone you’re totally crazy about, why would he do that with you…?” He trails off and apologizes, having said too much, but Hana realizes, “I see. I wanted to make him a nice memory, but it could’ve become a horrible memory to him. I thought I just had to work hard, that if I did, I could make Dae Bak happy. But I didn’t know the reverse could become true too. I didn’t know there were so many things I didn’t know. I don’t know men, or people’s feelings, or what I’m doing right now.”
Eun Tak says the same: “I don’t know either. Why I came here, what I’d come looking to find out, or what I’d do when I did.” Hana asks if he managed to meet he person his mother sent him to see, and Eun Tak answers, “I did meet him. But, it feels like I haven’t met him yet. The one I met wasn’t the person my mother wanted me to meet.” Hana doesn’t understand his wording, and Eun Tak deflects, suggesting they go eat.
Eun Tak insists on buying dduk, which is sticky pounded rice cake eaten as dessert, because it’s his birthday. His mother had missed out on getting him the traditional dduk on his first birthday, so to make up for that oversight, she bought him dduk every year, so now it doesn’t feel like a birthday without it. He asks Hana to sing him a birthday song, but she refuses and tells him to just hurry up and eat — she doesn’t like dduk so she doesn’t want any. With a grimace, Eun Tak starts eating alone, but he looks around when he hears a sound…
…to see Hana playing a birthday song for him on her cell phone, while feigning nonchalance.
On their way home, Hana and Eun Tak run into Ran, who’s gotten herself into trouble with a neighborhood lady. Ran had wanted to hold the woman’s child just for a moment, but the woman assumed Ran was trying to kidnap her. Ran tries explaining, but the language barrier prevents understanding. Hana defends Ran, but they’re taken to the police station, where the cop phones Ran’s cold husband, telling them he doesn’t care what they do with her. Apparently Ran can’t have children, which accounts for her longing looks at neighborhood babies and her husband ignoring her.
Nam Kyung takes Ho Sang to the spot at the dock where she last saw Kang Jae, her fiance. They were supposed to go fishing together, but they’d gotten into a small fight and she left. He’d sent her a text message saying he’d bring home a delicious fish, so get ready to cook it. But wanting to prolong his sorriness, Nam Kyung didn’t even respond to his message.
Nam Kyung tells Ho Sang she came today to break up with him: “I don’t want to bury him in my heart. I want live on thinking as though he’s alive somewhere. Like he’s happy somewhere, and we’ve merely broken up.” Ho Sang asks if she can really do that, and Nam Kyung says she has to try: “If I can’t, I can go back to him.” Ho Sang: “Even if you return, he won’t take you back.” Nam Kyung: “I know. He won’t, because he’ll want me to be happy.”
Ho Sang leaves her to say her goodbye in private. Nam Kyung removes her engagement ring, burying it in the sand. Her last words to Kang Jae are: “Oppa, I can cry today for the last time, right? Because it’s the day I broke up with you, I can cry to my heart’s content, can’t I?” Watching from a distance, Ho Sang thinks (to Kang Jae): “Please help me make Nam Kyung smile again.”
He lights some firecrackers into the dark night sky for her.
Ho Sang asks how Hana spent her day, and she tells him she wasn’t lonely — she had tons of fun with Eun Tak, riding bikes and eating dduk. Ho Sang tries not to let his jealousy show, asking tentatively if she’s gotten much closer to Eun Tak now. Hana says yes, and they’ve even agreed to “lower their speech” with each other, which means to go from formal speech to banmal.
Hana accuses Ho Sang of betraying her — he’d taken care of her injured foot and carried her on his back, and offered to go together to do what she wanted. She knows he doesn’t like her as much as Nam Kyung, but she figured he liked her more than before. But he just makes her wait longer, and makes her angrier. Just then, Eun Tak comes by, and Hana makes it a point to put on a show that they’re much friendlier.
This time, Eun Tak’s willing to oblige. He says they might as well take the opportunity to be real friends, and assures her that he can act a lot better and more naturally than the last time. His acting was kind of stiff before.
As for the funeral customer, the argument is revived when the man’s son comes by and talks to Ho Sang in hopes of convincing them to reconsider. Ho Sang explains to the family that the son was originally opposed to his father’s idea — he’d lived seeing his mother (the original wife) hurting and struggling. He’d always thought his father didn’t have children by his second wife because they weren’t able to conceive, but he later learned that the woman deliberately chose not to have children out of guilt. She’d taken someone else’s husband, but she couldn’t bring herself to take someone else’s father too.
And so, the son changed his mind. The father’s desire for the joint burial wasn’t mere stubbornness, it was worry for his wife who had no children to ensure her burial rites were cared for. Pil Gu says the father is quite soft-hearted — that’s why he maintained two households in the first place. Had he been firm, he would’ve cut off one of them — better to make a cold, final decision than to drag both sides out forever.
Ho Sang tells Hana he agrees with Pil Gu — it’s better to cut off one side than to drag out both. Hana asks what he’s talking about, and Ho Sang says he’s talking about himself, and explains that Nam Kyung’s fiance is dead. Hana tells him, “Just because she doesn’t have a fiance anymore doesn’t mean she’ll go to you.” Ho Sang understands that, but can’t help feeling bothered.
Hana: “Just know this. I’m your wad of gum now, and I’ll continue to be. Whatever happens, I won’t leave you.” Storming off, Hana takes out her frustration by kicking at a stone wall, as her voiceover tells us, “Because I didn’t know what made me so mad, I grew angrier. Because I didn’t know what made me so uneasy, I grew uneasier.”
As Ho Sang arranges his seashells, he thinks, “The old me would have just ignored my feelings of guilt. I wouldn’t have thought of what I could do to prevent myself from hurting her. I didn’t know then that liking someone turns you into such a fool.”
Much like Hana’s flower pattern, he uses the shells to spell out a name: Hana.
The next morning, Ho Sang drops by as Hana is spending time reflecting in the coffin, and tells her he’s been thinking about it, and has come to the conclusion he has to leave.