I feel better about Boys Before Flowers after Episode 2. The drama is still very flawed, and I think I’m going pretty easy on it — I could snark much more if I wanted to — but I don’t want to be mean about this series. I have a lot of affection for it.
But the reason for my liking hinges mostly upon one character, and that is the tough-guy-masking-a-soft-heart, Gu Jun-pyo. Lee Min-ho, manseh!
SONG OF THE DAY
Loptimist – “갈증” (Thirst) [ Download ]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Jan-di fights off her trio of attackers, who grab her from the girls’ locker room and hold her down.
They stop at the arrival of Ji-hoo, who asks what they’re doing in his languid, casual manner. His presence flusters the guys, because they’re acting on Jun-pyo’s orders, and Ji-hoo is obviously Jun-pyo’s friend. As though oblivious to the scene going on in front of him, Ji-hoo peers down at Jan-di and asks if she’d left something out of her pancake recipe from before. Something went wrong when he tried it. Still held down by her attackers, bewildered at the non sequitur, Jan-di mentions baking powder. Rather an awkward way to discuss cooking techniques.
Ji-hoo addresses the three minions: “Why are you still here?” Faced with disobeying Ji-hoo to his face or Jun-pyo behind his back, they skedaddle.
Ji-hoo covers her in a towel, and as he turns to leave, Jan-di tells him, “Thank you.” In his even tone, he answers, “I wasn’t helping. These things just annoy me.”
In his mansion, Jun-pyo hears of Ji-hoo’s interference. To show us that Jun-pyo isn’t completely heartless, he criticizes his minions for their extreme measures — he’d merely instructed that they scare her (to show her a “bitter taste”).
Ji-hoo’s kindness lingers in Jan-di’s mind for the rest of the day. She happens to come across him when she bicycles past him fondling a poster of a famous model at a bus stop. Not so sure you want to be getting that intimate with anything at a bus stop, buddy.
Jan-di says as much, telling him that a bus stop poster is bound to blacken his hands with dirt. Still, she admires the poster of Min Seo-hyun, who is not only famous for her beauty but also for her charity donations and her brains; she recently passed the law exam in France. Ji-hoo asks, “Do you know her?” Jan-di answers, “Of course. She’s my idol.”
Ji-hoo enjoys her reaction, smiling at Jan-di’s wide-eyed adulation. But his smile fades when she says that Seo-hyun, who is bound for great things, could marry royalty, or a president, or something of that sort to become a “world’s princess” like Princess Di. At that, Ji-hoo says, “She’s just a model.”
Jan-di sticks to her fantasy of a foreign prince falling for her idol. Mood killed, Ji-hoo turns to leave with the parting shot, “What do you know?”
At home, Jan-di’s computer-obsessed brother finds scandalous news online about one of the students at Shinhwa High School, a second-year who’s supposedly pregnant. Identified merely as Miss “K,” the family tries to guess who it could be, like a Miss Kim or Kwon (or Keum — which I wrote as “geum” since it’s closer to the phonetic reading).
The next day, Jan-di notices the stares of the other students, but is busy wondering which of them is the notorious Miss K.
Jun-pyo is in a good mood, and when Yi-jung asks what’s up with “2,500 Won” (Jan-di) today, he says, “Just wait. She’ll come here soon.” (It’s too cute to see that this — her coming to see him — is his obvious goal, although he convinces himself that it’s all because Jan-di needs to be humbled.) Ji-hoo wonders, “What prank have you pulled this time?” Jun-pyo: “Why, so you can save her again?”
Yi-jung and Woo-bin wonder what that means, while Ji-hoo says that picking on one girl like this “is ridiculous and childish.” Jun-pyo retorts, “Do you see her as a girl?” because to him, she’s like a horse, or a dog. After all, she dared defy the Great Jun-pyo-nim (using the “nim” suffix on himself is, as one might guess, exceedingly arrogant).
Jan-di’s classmates identify her as the notorious Miss K, and news spreads fast. In class, both chalkboards have been covered in slurs like “filthy,” “get lost,” “who’s the daddy?” “crazy bitch,” etc.
The Tarty Trio leave a pile of dirty rags on her desk and taunt her. Pushed too far, Jan-di fumes, “I can’t take this anymore!” Ginger mocks, “So what are you going to do about it?”
Jan-di’s arrival at the F4 lounge brings Jun-pyo much satisfaction, but he covers it with disdain: “If you came to apologize, you’re too late.” She throws the dirty rags in his face and warns him that she won’t sit back and take his abuse anymore.
Jun-pyo’s arrogance turns to confusion when Jan-di clenches her fists and assumes a fighting stance. Puzzled, he asks what she’s doing, and she repeats: “I told you, I won’t sit back and take it anymore.” With a shriek, Jan-di jumps in the air, and whirls into a rather impressive spinning back kick — catching Jun-pyo right in the face.
The other F4 members look on in amazement as Jan-di clomps over to the fallen Jun-pyo, demanding, “Did you see me sleeping around with a man? Did you even see me holding hands? How dare you say all that about a chaste and pure girl who hasn’t even had her first kiss yet!”
She warns one last time, “If you keep up these filthy tricks, I’ll really kill you then!”
One might think that this show of defiance would piss off the Almighty Jun-pyo, but later that night, he sits alone, chuckling to himself. Woo-bin asks why he’s so amused. Jun-pyo: “Haven’t you guys caught on yet?”
With supreme satisfaction, he announces, “That chick’s totally into me.” That makes no sense to the other guys, but Jun-pyo elaborates:
Jun-pyo: “Think about it. She didn’t want the guy she likes to misunderstand, so she came herself to insist she was pure and innocent.”
Yi-jung: “Following that logic –”
Woo-bin: “– saying she hadn’t had her first kiss –”
Jun-pyo: “– is her way of saying she’s waiting for her first kiss from me.”
Yi-jung, clapping: “Bravo. Impressive, Gu Jun-pyo. You’re my friend, but that’s really something.”
Relieved at this gratifying revelation, Jun-pyo attributes Jan-di’s extreme hate of him to “thinking she could fool me by acting mad.” It is HILARIOUS, and Lee Min-ho is adorable.
The next day at school, Jan-di lies low, wanting to avoid more encounters with the Almighty Jun-pyo. Men in suits approach and ask her to accompany them, but won’t identify their boss.
She declines, and hides (in a painfully exaggerated sequence) as she sneaks her way across campus, only to be accosted at the last minute. She’s shoved into a waiting vehicle, then drugged.
She awakens on a massage table in a luxurious room, and is subjected to all sorts of painful beautifying processes like waxing.
Here, I wish they’d employed a bit more logic, because Jan-di goes along with the makeup, hair, and dressing sessions — confused, but not really protesting. Never mind that she still doesn’t know whose home she is in, or why she is there. Then again, I suppose if someone were lavishing clothes, jewels, and spa treatments on me, my guard would be down too.
The attendant (butler?) tells her that this is the first time that “the young master” has brought home a girl, although I suppose that requires a pretty loose definition of “bringing home.”
The butler can’t tell her why she’s here, because he doesn’t know, either. He deposits her at a door where someone is waiting for her; Jan-di enters cautiously and sees a tall figure standing at the window, and guesses, “Ji-hoo?”
Disappointedly realizing she’s at Jun-pyo’s family estate, Jan-di is immediately suspicious, and puts up her dukes: “What are you going to do this time?”
Jun-pyo turns her toward a mirror and tells her to look: “See, money can turn even an ugly duckling into a heron.” Jan-di: “Don’t you mean swan?”
Indignant, Jan-di retorts that she didn’t ask him for this, but he’s wrapped up in his own smug misconception, and tells her, “If you like me, just say so.” When she doesn’t respond, he recalls, “Right, you like to talk in opposites, don’t you?” (O, delusion, he is King of it.)
Jan-di accuses him of illegally kidnapping her. Jun-pyo assures her, “Nobody’s around, so you can be open about liking me here. From now on, I’ll be willing to make an exception and recognize you outside of school.”
Jan-di is completely speechless. He continues: “If you just do as I say, when nobody’s around I can treat you as the Almighty Jun-pyo’s girlfriend.”
Jan-di wonders if his brain has been addled by too much greasy food, and turns to leave.
Showing the first sign of anxiety, Jun-pyo blocks her from leaving. He tells her that she’s currently wearing 100 million won’s worth ($77,000), “But that’s nothing. If you’re with me, you can enjoy more than that every day. Are you saying you don’t want it? Are you crazy?”
Jan-di bristles: “The moment I see your face, it feels like bugs are crawling all over my body.” She takes off her jewelry and throws it on the ground, then reaches to unzip her dress (before remembering Jun-pyo’s watching — rather intently, I might add — and insists he return her uniform).
Jan-di: “You don’t seem to know this, but you can’t buy friends with money. Friends bond through feelings.” Jun-pyo replies, “There’s nothing you can’t buy,” and tells her to contradict him if she can. She can’t think of anything.
After Jan-di leaves, Jun-pyo rages against his employees, stomping on the discarded dress and telling his butler to throw away the dress and fire everyone who worked on Jan-di today.
Jan-di remembers too late that she’s still wearing the borrowed high heels, takes them off, and throws them over the gate — just as Ji-hoo finds her outside and wonders what she’s doing. He laughs: “You’re always in a dramatic situation.”
Jan-di asks Ji-hoo, “Is there anything in the world you can’t buy?” Dejected, she figures there isn’t, but perks up when Ji-hoo answers after a moment of thinking, “Air.”
Amused at her happy reaction to finding one unbuyable thing, Ji-hoo ruffles her hair and calls her “a really fun kid.” As he gets up to leave, he tosses her his sneakers, since she’s now barefoot. Jan-di watches him zoom off on his motorcycle with a smile.
She tries to return the shoes the next day by visiting the F4 lounge, but Yi-jung and Woo-bin inform her that Jun-pyo isn’t around. She grumbles that she doesn’t care about him, and asks them to give the shoes to Ji-hoo.
The guys know they owe their recent entertainment to Jan-di, and invite her to have some tea while she fills them in on her latest encounter with Jun-pyo. Seeing a commercial of Min Seo-hyun on TV, the guys mention that Ji-hoo ought to be happy that Seo-hyun is coming back to Korea soon.
She asks if Ji-hoo is acquainted with Seo-hyun, and learns that after his parents’ death, he’d retreated into autism (I remember hearing it was Asperger’s, which is a mild form of autism). Seo-hyun was the only one able to draw him out of himself, and became something of “a first love, girlfriend, and mother.” This information drags Jan-di into a funk, so much so that she even cuts dinner short, feeling inadequate next to the glamorous model.
In fact, she’s so distracted that in gym class, she fails to react swiftly when Ginger hurls a ball at her (in a game of dodgeball), and gets hit in the face. She leaves the group of laughing mean girls while the F4 guys watch, and Jun-pyo finds her washing up in the bathroom.
He tries to helpfully wipe the blood from her face, but Jan-di, fighting tears, doesn’t want his help. It’s clear (to us) that he wants to make her feel better but is woefully ill-equipped with the social skills; not knowing what to say, he chides her for being absent-minded enough to get hit in the face, and tells her not to cry. Jan-di counters, “Do I have to get your permission to cry now? And weren’t you the person who was happiest to see me crying and hurting?”
Jun-pyo: “Is that all you can say to the person who came to help?”
Jan-di: “Who asked for your help? If everyone died and you were the last person on earth, I still wouldn’t accept your help.”
It’s a bit cute — and sad — when Jun-pyo stops her from leaving and demands to know, uncertainly, “W-what is it you hate so much about me? I’m good-looking. I’m tall, I’m smart, I’m rich. How — how can you hate Gu Jun-pyo? Are you stupid?”
Jan-di shoots back that she dislikes the way he looks, the way he walks, his curly hair — “and picking on weak kids for fun with your red cards or whatever with your thoughtlessness — that’s the worst!”
Jun-pyo stutters in disbelief, but Jan-di’s not quite finished: “In short, I hate everything about you! Everything!”
Is the obligatory shower scene supposed to be moving? I don’t know; it was just so obvious that I had to laugh.
But shameless half-naked water shots aside, Lee Min-ho does a good job of showing Jun-pyo’s frustration, first as he engages in a particularly rough game of rugby, then as he stares in the mirror in self-loathing.
It’s only when Jun-pyo spies the notice for a class trip that he cheers up. All second- and third-years will have the chance to go on a month-long school trip to Europe.
It doesn’t even occur to Jun-pyo that 20 million won ($15,500) is a bit rich for a commoner like Jan-di. Thus on class trip day, he spends the whole time at the airport pacing anxiously, wondering where Jan-di is. Ji-hoo is similarly distracted, but for a different reason — today marks Min Seo-hyun’s return to Korea. Seo-hyun (Han Chae-young, looking gorgeous) greets Ji-hoo warmly.
With Jan-di nowhere to be seen, Jun-pyo is a fidgety ball of nerves until he receives a call, (ostensibly) informing him where Jan-di is.
Jan-di cannot afford to go on the trip, and to make things worse, her father has run afoul of some gambling debts (ah, it wouldn’t be a kdrama without gambling debts!).
Therefore, she and her friend Ga-eul decide to make this a working vacation, so they can enjoy themselves while earning some money. Through Ga-eul, they find a job on a fishing boat. They’re enjoying the experience, until one loud, obnoxious voice cuts in on their sleepytime.
To her shock, the entire class looks down on her from a Shinhwa cruiseliner, with Jun-pyo manning a loudspeaker. Now that he’s found her, he’s happily back to taunting her (like a little boy tormenting a little girl he likes, not knowing that chocolate and flowers FIX EVERYTHING. Oh, yeah, and also a little basic kindness.).
Jan-di can’t believe her vacation is to be ruined thusly. She asks why they aren’t on their class trip, and he replies that he’s been there before and wanted a new, interesting place. He’s here on “someone’s” recommendation: “What a total coincidence, huh? I had no idea you’d be here, Dry Cleaner.”
I don’t care if you think this is corny, it is TOO CUTE.
When Jan-di and Ga-eul dock for the night, they note with dismay that Jan-di’s classmates have arrived and seem to be waiting to check into a hotel (or something).
Jan-di’s spirits further sink when Ji-hoo arrives with the radiant Min Seo-hyun on his arm.
Jun-pyo addresses Jan-di, saying, “Dry Cleaner, be honest, aren’t you happy to run into me at a place like this?” Jan-di retorts that she was having a grand time before he came along.
Jun-pyo invites her (in his careless way) to join the rest of the class. While she’s quick to turn him down flat, she has an entirely different reception for Ji-hoo. Jun-pyo looks on in displeasure when Ji-hoo breezes past him, invites Jan-di to a welcome party for Seo-hyun, and sees Jan-di’s immediate acceptance: “Yes, I’ll go, absolutely.”
The Tarty Trio, however, seize the opportunity to have a little fun, and give Jan-di some “advice” for the dress code. It’s not too hard to predict that this goes awry, and that they must have told her it’s a costume party. The instant she walks in, she realizes she’s been tricked, and berates herself for falling for the lie.
Embarrassed, she tries to leave, but is forced to enter the room to escape Jun-pyo (who, by the way, spends all his time looking around for her). When the Mean Girls find her, they taunt her and try to pull her coat off her. The result is inevitable but still humiliating: They grab Jan-di’s jacket, she tries to escape, falls into a tray of hors d’oeuvres, and lands with a loud crash.
The girls laugh gleefully, calling her delusional — perhaps she started believing the hype that she truly was Wonder Woman? Others snort in amusement, but Jun-pyo looks angry (on her behalf). He’s about to move toward her, but once again is one-upped by Ji-hoo, who arrives at Jan-di’s side with Seo-hyun.
Seo-hyun sizes up the situation immediately, and faces the Mean Girls with disgust: “I know why you did this. But do you know that this proves how low you are, not her?”
With Ji-hoo and Seo-hyun by her side, Jan-di is ushered up to Seo-hyun’s room to clean up.
Seo-hyun takes an immediate liking to Jan-di as she dresses her up and helps her with her makeup, saying that any friend of Ji-hoo’s is a friend of hers.
Jan-di brushes off the compliments, saying Ji-hoo was just being nice, but Seo-hyun knows him better and assures her that he’s not that type. This is the first time she’s seen him step in to help someone else.
Jan-di doesn’t want to give herself too much credit, and answers, “But Ji-hoo’s just attentive by nature.” To Seo-hyun, this is just proof of the opposite, that Jan-di is an exception to the rule.
She also has heard of Jan-di’s vow not to let Jun-pyo beat her down. She voices her support and wishes Jan-di victory, but explains, “It’s because he’s lonely.” Being the child of a parents who are fixated solely on their business empire has made him lonely, and his outer demeanor is just a cover-up for it.
Seo-hyun finishes the look with a pair of shoes, telling her, “Good shoes take you to good places.”
When Jan-di is ushered back to the party, people look on in surprise, but no one’s more shocked than Jun-pyo — who drops his plate in his astonishment at the purty, purty girl.
And yet, he is beaten to the punch once more, because Seo-hyun pushes Ji-hoo toward Jan-di, saying that a gentleman doesn’t ignore such a beautiful lady. So Ji-hoo walks over to Jan-di and offers his arm.
All through Episode 1, I was thinking Lee Min-ho reminded me of someone, and it kept niggling at the back of my mind. I finally put my finger on it, and it’s Lee Dong-wook (La Dolce Vita, My Girl — aka, this guy). Lee Min-ho isn’t nearly as good as Lee Dong-wook (yet?), but he shows a lot of promise, in addition to the fact that he delivers some of his lines in a similar way, and even has similar bone structure to boot.
Sorry to say, however, that while I was holding out hope for Kim Hyun-joong, I don’t think he is going to do much in this drama other than look pretty. In Episode 1, he was quiet and enigmatic. In Episode 2, the more lines he had, the more clear his inexperience became, which makes him seem stiff and unnatural. Let’s hope he’s given as few lines as possible, to let his quiet mystique carry him.
On the other hand, Kim Bum is doing all right playing Yi-jung (nothing to scream about, though), and I actually do like Kim Joon‘s Woo-bin — in the absence of his gangsta “Yo, yo, yo!” posturing (which was still present in Episode 2, though pulled back a little). Unfortunately, Kim Bum looks years younger than his castmates, as he’s the only one actually playing his age (19), other than Ga-eul, who’s also 19. Speaking of whom, Kim So-eun is pretty good for the newbie she is, and she also happens to be currently acting in the large-scale sageuk drama Empress Cheon-chu, playing Chae Shi-ra‘s childhood role.