I will be useless for rest of today. Am glued to CNN. Free Starbucks voter coffee brings me up, wine calms me down. I feel like Judy Garland.
SONG OF THE DAY
IU – “Feel So Good,” by a new young (15-year-old) singer. [ Download ]
EPISODE 3: “Achilles Heel — A few suggestions for lovers about to start new relationships”
Joon-young starts us off by telling us the Theme o’ the Day: Achilles heels. Specifically, her own — growing up, hers was her flighty, unfaithful mother. Now, as an adult, it’s changed.
The problem in this episode starts with Joon-young’s casting of Yoon Young in her new drama (which has been moved up to give Kyu-ho’s sageuk series more time to prepare), and Chief Kim isn’t happy. While it’s her prerogative to cast her drama, Chief Kim has a romantic history with Young that ended badly, and now he won’t approve her drama.
Ji-oh is surprised because Joon-young is working with Young because she has expressed her dislike of the actress. He confronts Joon-young about her change of heart, not buying her explanation that she’s fine with the casting as long as the actors act well. Joon-young admits that she’s decided to suck up her personal feelings because Young will be able to pull in an actor she wants. She thinks Chief Kim is being unprofessional by letting his personal feelings interfere.
Ji-oh marvels sarcastically at her shrewd commercialism — capitalizing on the success of his current drama to line up her new one — and reminds her of all the stuff she’d said in the past, like, “How can I man a camera with no affection for the actors?” and “This isn’t a marketplace, it’s not about business.” He tells her, “I thought you meant that.”
She merely says, “Sorry to disappoint you.” But this is her work, and it’s not his business to interfere. Ji-oh concedes her point. She asks him to produce for her, and he calls her on the emptiness of her offer. (When he offers to film for her, she answers, “I’ll do that myself,” proving his point.)
Chief Kim is having a depressed drink with the station chief producer, CP Park. (Btw, CP Park is hilarious — he’s the voice of reason who always straight-talks and tells all the sides to get it together, but nobody ever listens to him, so he’s like this Greek chorus who’s constantly ignored.)
Ji-oh is trying to reason with Chief Kim when Joon-young arrives to apologize, which is a pretty hard thing for her to do sincerely. No sooner does she grudgingly say sorry than she contradicts herself, saying, “If you don’t want me to do it… but can’t I do it?”
Resigned, Chief Kim tells her to go ahead — do her drama with outside production funds and overseas locations, but she’d better not come complaining to him. He also surprises them by admitting to his past relationship with Yoon Young. He challenges Ji-oh, however, asking, “Is this that loyalty you always talk about?… Poking at someone’s Achilles heel?”
Ji-oh and Joon-young have another drink afterward, and she asks about his particular friendship with Chief Kim (whom Ji-oh calls “hyung”). He tells her how, early in his career, he’d worked on a miniseries and gotten into a fight with some neighborhood roughnecks, because back then he was too hotheaded to talk things through calmly. Chief Kim went to the police station to release Ji-oh and even got on his knees to apologize to the thugs. Ji-oh had been afraid of his reaction, but Kim just told him, “This is how we learn, fucker.”
Ji-oh leans forward to ask, “Joon-young. If I told you I’ve wanted to date you again for a while now, would you believe me?” (Joon-young chokes on her drink.)
She asks him again why he dumped her, and he answers that she dumped him. In her eyes, he’d run after Yeon-hee not long after they’d had their first kiss and didn’t come see her afterward. He defends himself, saying he was truly only acting as a friend when Yeon-hee’s mother was sick. All he did was go with her to the hospital. Not appeased by that, Joon-young retorts, “Plus, what’s so easy about me?”
But she loves hearing that he’d wanted her back, and prods him to admit how long he’s felt that way. They tease back and forth, and she asks, “So are we dating starting tomorrow?”
Kyu-ho’s interrupted while shooting by a phone call from Hae-jin, who is continuing the stalker act. Irritated beyond belief, Kyu-ho meets her to put an end to this for good, and she hands him a fat envelope of money. Hae-jin is completely cheerful and up-front about the bribe, and answers his questions openly when he asks what her father does (cop) and if her dad knows she’s running around like this (hell no).
Kyu-ho asks, “Can you only give me money, or can you offer me anything else?” (to shock her, not that he means it), and hands the envelope back. He says — super sweetly, of course, because that’s his way of delivering a deathblow — to bring back ten times that amount. Because he’s already rich, you see! He won’t take such a measly bribe, because if he were to be caught taking bribes, it wouldn’t be worth it for such pennies. Also, if she bothers him again, he’ll go to her cop dad and charge him for bribery, which should get him fired.
Point taken. Hae-jin glumly bids him goodbye and leaves. Soo-kyung — who’s been demoted to Kyu-ho’s driver — tries to argue that it wouldn’t hurt to let the poor girl audition, but Kyu-ho ignores him. Until he spies something, that is, and orders Soo-kyung to pull over. It’s a commercial playing on an outdoor billboard, and Hae-jin looks really good. He looks at her as a serious contender for the first time.
Joon-young takes a day trip to Singapore with her crew to scout for locations. While she’s walking around the street, a man bumps into her, chased by a group of men. Joon-young races after them as they chase the lone man into a dark alley, then proceed to beat the heck out of him.
And just as you’re wondering why she’s standing around doing nothing, Joon-young says aloud, “Cut,” and smiles as the image dissolves — it was her director’s mind visualizing the scene she wants to shoot.
Joon-young calls Ji-oh upon returning home, congratulating him on his last shooting day. True to tradition, he’s dressing up in a black suit, like he does on all first and last days, as a show of respect toward his work. Joon-young doesn’t really get his gesture, since to her dramas are merely fun work, while they contain deeper meaning for Ji-oh.
While she smiles at the memory of Ji-oh admitting that he likes her, her smile fades when she remembers his earlier words, “You’re too thoughtless. And you’re easy.”
That thought continues to bug her when talking to Soo-kyung. They’re not close friends — just casual colleagues — and he jokes that she had been interested in him in the past. She firmly tells him that’s untrue, admitting that she may have liked Kyu-ho, but never him — and the bit about Kyu-ho prompts an incredulous reaction. Soo-kyung joshes her for being fickle with her attentions, having had flirtations with people they’d worked with as well. Joon-young counters, “They were good-looking!” Soo-kyung: “Do you fall for anyone who’s good-looking? You’re too easy.”
That gets to her, and she defends herself, not very convincingly: “I’m not easy, you know!” But he replies, “You are.” Joon-young wonders why she’s so bothered by this now, just as she’s about to start over with Ji-oh.
Kyu-ho’s having a few issues with his sageuk drama, which pisses off another PD. Kyu-ho has pushed his drama back several times for writer switches and more filming time, and defends his scheduling problems as necessary. The other guy doesn’t have any sympathy, saying everyone works under those conditions.
Kyu-ho’s series looks like it’s one of those high-action fusion sageuks that are popular these days (Hong Gil Dong, Iljimae, Chil Woo). He’s relented and cast Hae-jin, who, true to her word, is doing her own stunts. After a series of missteps, Hae-jin gets a good take, and is injured in the process.
She doesn’t let her injury keep her down, though, and thanks Kyu-ho effusively for casting her. She’s kind of adorable, the way she promises to do her best but oversells herself, assuring him she’ll garner him 40% ratings, be prettier than Jeon Ji-hyun, sexier than Lee Young-ae, etc.
Ji-oh’s drama has its wrap party, and he’s in a great mood, drinking with the cast and crew. He suggests to Joon-young, “Wanna sneak out of here? Let’s go to the beach.” She’s up for it, until she gets a phone call from a drunk Jun-ki.
She excuses herself to take the call, then rushes out to meet Jun-ki. He’s completely wasted — so drunk that she practically has to drag him inside her apartment — and even throws up on her. Back at the bar, Ji-oh keeps drinking with his crew. He calls Joon-young to ask where she went, and she lies that she had to return home to get some work done, hurriedly hanging up when she sees that Jun-ki is in earshot.
I include these shots merely because the second one makes me giggle. At the party, Young comes up to Chief Kim and talks to him freely. Whatever their past was, it involved lots of unresolved issues for him, so he remains terse with her, trying to dismiss her emotionally as easily as he does physically. CP Park comes up behind him to jokingly comfort him, in his usual lighthearted manner.
After sobering a bit, Jun-ki gets to the point: He wants to get back together with Joon-young, and this time he’ll accept that she’s more devoted to her work than to the relationship. She, on the other hand, is friendly but distant, keeping her gaze averted and her tone even. She doesn’t want to get back together, but she also doesn’t want to tell him she’s already seeing someone else, so when he asks, she (badly) lies and tells him she’s “not that kind of person.” It’s not that she’s got someone else, she says, but that she has moved on and wants to be friends, not lovers.
Jun-ki has always seemed more emotionally invested in this relationship, and he can’t understand her reaction. He tells her it’s like she’s already forgotten him. Joon-young answers that it’s because she’s gotten over it, and he grows angry, asking, “You can get over it?”
Hurt, he tells her that the past month he’s been a wreck, drowning his sorrows in alcohol every day, but she’s already moved on: “Let me make a request. When you meet someone new and fall in love, try being serious about it.” After he leaves, she shows a hint of emotion, trying to convince herself that all these men are wrong in thinking she’s easy, but she can’t quite shake it off.
The next day, she and Ji-oh do some grocery shopping. He’s in a great mood, she’s in a lousy one. With filming complete, Ji-oh’s second-to-last episode pulled in 27% ratings and the finale looks to hit 30%, a significant benchmark for a director.
The better his mood, the worse hers grows, and even when she tells him that she met with Jun-ki yesterday, Ji-oh isn’t that fazed. She tells him that Jun-ki told her to live life more seriously, and when Ji-oh guesses that’s why she’s being difficult now, she shoots him a glare and walks off. She tells him that when he’s in a good mood, he doesn’t notice her: “You were like that in the past, too. I remember now… I wonder why I forgot that and wanted to start over with you.”
Realizing that her mood is serious, Ji-oh tries to call her back to talk this over, but she leaves, upset.
Casting issues. The actor whom Joon-young and Seo-woo wanted pulls out of the project at the last minute, because he balks at the homosexual content. He’s regretful, but isn’t willing to take on the role.
Joon-young curtly tells Yoon Young that since he was the actor she brought in, it’s her responsibility to bring him back. Young answers that she has no power over him. The writer is willing to consider other actors, but Joon-young’s anger gets the better of her and she insinuates that Young is acting in a conflict of interest (taking the actor away to her own film production, stealing him from the drama). When Young calls her on it, Joon-young realizes it was a mistake to say that (even if she means it), so she backtracks and apologizes.
After Young leaves, Joon-young angrily spews invectives, bringing up all the other diva stunts Young has pulled in the past. The writer looks at Joon-young and wonders if she’s feeling defensive or guilty about something.
Still smarting from the Young encounter, Joon-young calls Jun-ki to demand an apology for suggesting she’s easy.
She hangs up while he’s talking, then calls him back to make a point — while they were dating, he made her feel like that dozens of times. He’d turn cold and cut her off without giving her chances to talk.
She tells him, “I really didn’t want to end things like this,” and hangs up.
After an unpleasant meeting with her mother (the old Achilles heel), Joon-young’s current Achilles heel is aggravated. She demands to know why Ji-oh found her easy, acting borderline belligerent in her need to assert that she is not. (The lady doth protest…)
Ji-oh knows her well enough not to engage, and remains calm. When she gets worked up, he tells her, “All right, cancel what I said. You’re not easy, you’re difficult.”
But she’s not satisfied, needing to prove that she CAN be serious about relationships, dammit. Ji-oh says, “I never said you couldn’t be serious,” to which she answers, “Jun-ki did.” Ji-oh: “Why are you so mad? Is it because of me or Jun-ki?”
Ji-oh turns the tables, asking why she met Jun-ki. Or, better yet, when she had the time to meet him. He starts thinking about it in earnest, remembering she was at the party until 1am, after which she disappeared. She couldn’t have met him that late at night, right? She wouldn’t have met her ex late at night at her apartment, right?
Joon-young realizes she might be in trouble, so she evades the question, rummaging around Ji-oh’s kitchen as he hounds her to relate exactly what she did yesterday and when she saw Jun-ki. As Joon-young evades, she admits in a voiceover:
“At this point when I’m about to start on a new love, my Achilles heel — though I don’t like to admit it — is that I end relationships and start new ones too easily. But what’s more important than that at this moment is that I don’t want to end this love easily. So from now on, if I don’t misunderstand as easily as I did before, or give up as easily, and start long conversations even though they’re tedious, can’t this love differ from the previous one?”
Finally nagged to distraction, she admits, “I’m sorry, he came over.” Immediately, Ji-oh glares and leaves, telling her to eat the ramen all by herself.
(Although Ji-oh’s upset now, this reversal actually defuses the tension in their argument, because Joon-young is no longer the one angry. Ji-oh’s reaction is more like a passing tiff, but nothing dire.)
I like how Joon-young brings Ji-oh back, though, and that’s by hiding the eggs in the freezer and calling out to him (knowing he hasn’t actually left) that he’s out of eggs. Ji-oh comes back to check the fridge, insisting he just bought eggs, and Joon-young eagerly suggests they go and buy more.
Afterward, they laze together on the porch, and Joon-young turns to Ji-oh to say, “As we keep dating, let’s not say things to hurt each other, or break up easily. Or fight like before.”
He answers, smiling, “Let’s fight. I couldn’t do that with Yeon-hee. We didn’t communicate enough. The things to fight about are always the little things — small and embarrassing. If you don’t talk about them, later they grow to be unmanageably big.”
The tone turns teasing again when Ji-oh asks if Joon-young told Jun-ki she was dating him again, and she answers, “How could I say that, and come off easy?” She jokes that if she breaks up with Ji-oh, she’d go back to Jun-ki, and he chases her around laughingly in retaliation.
Unexpectedly, Ji-oh’s last episode doesn’t earn the whopping 32% ratings he’d predicted, and instead has decreased from 27% down to 23%.
Chul-yi ribs him a bit about the (relatively) low ratings, and Ji-oh is forced to save face and argue that he shot the drama because he liked it, not for the ratings. Of course we know otherwise. Haha.
And finally, Joon-young and Jun-ki talk one last time on the phone. His tone is one of sad acceptance, as he tells her to take care of herself and stay healthy. Joon-young wishes him the same, and her voiceover comes in to repeat a thought from earlier in the episode:
“It’s said that a new love can only start when the old one is able to end properly. But I didn’t say those words as my last send-off. I merely said thank you. He probably didn’t know how those words showed how much I had matured.”
Immediately after she hangs up with Jun-ki, she gets a call from Ji-oh. Smiling at the symbolism here, Joon-young doesn’t answer, but instead tells her phone laughingly, “Mr. Jung Ji-oh, you’re rushing too much. Let’s take it slow. You’ll get motion sickness.”
And she leaves her phone ringing to get back to work.
What’s particularly interesting about The World They Live In is that there’s quite a lot of swearing. It’s unusual in any television drama, which might have some strong slang but not usually real swears, and also given that this isn’t a particularly heavy-hitting drama, with no roughneck gangsters or hard-boiled crime underworld scenes. It’s actually kinda refreshing.
I’m sure some people may be turned off by it, and I’m not a fan of swearing for the sake of swearing. You know — when teenage boys toss out “motherfucker” every other word just to sound hard but end up sounding like they’re trying too hard. However, I AM a fan of the artful swear. Epithets are words, too, and as with all words, there’s a way to use them purposefully. I think part of its use is in achieving verisimilitude — this world, with its adult language and loose talk, is really “the world they live in,” not a studio-washed, sugary idealized version of it.
Also, I think at this point it’s safe to say that Song Hye-gyo isn’t totally sucking, but she is the weak link in this drama. Hyun Bin has yet to be outstanding either, but I think he’s doing a better job at being complex — Song is trying, to her credit, but she’s just not that layered. Everything about the character is visible on the surface. It’s too bad, because it’s a great character from an actor’s standpoint.