Rating:
Average user rating 3.5
193

Boys Before Flowers: Episode 9

I was mightily annoyed that one of the big moments in this episode was spoiled by, oh, practically every site out there. You couldn’t go anywhere on the k-internets without running into huge headlines — with pictures! — of said moment. I know the news was probably released to drum up interest in the episode (like that was necessary) — but it’s one thing to talk about something after it airs, and another to spoil it before it even broadcasts. Booooo.

Anyway.

Like somebody commented, this show is like crack. Maybe not the best thing for your brain, but OMG NEED MOAR NOW.

SONG OF THE DAY

Beautiful Romance – “Always” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

The morning after, Jun-pyo rises to a large (by Geum family standards) spread, and Jan-di’s parents urge him to eat up. Mom takes particular care in attending to him, but to the fastidious Jun-pyo, it’s a bit hard to swallow (literally) when she uses her hands to tear up his meat before serving it to him. Commoner-style living has some unforeseen drawbacks.

What’s cute is that they call him “son-in-law,” and while it’s not that unusual to use the term with a daughter’s (serious) boyfriend, it’s a bit early for that. Still, cute.

Breakfast is an entirely different affair at Jun-pyo’s estate, where Mom (Madam Kang) joins Jun-hee for a rare meal together and wonders where Jun-pyo is. (“Do you know how rarely I have breakfast with you two?” Jun-hee: “Is that our fault?”)

Jun-hee covers for her brother, saying he’s still asleep, having been out late with his F4 friends last night. Madam Kang grumbles that he’s outgrown those childish friends, reminding her, “Even if the Shinhwa Group successor has friends, he doesn’t need them.” His position, after all, “requires him to be so cool-headed that he is capable of even cutting off his family.”

Mom heads to Jun-pyo’s room to fetch him personally, looking around in annoyance to see that he’s not there. The butler gulps nervously, hesitating when she demands to know his whereabouts.

At the Geum household, Jun-pyo watches in fascinated curiosity while Jan-di’s family prepares a massive batch of cabbage to be made into kimchi.

He stays on the sidelines at first, but seeing how much fun they’re having together, Jun-pyo soon joins in.

At school, Ji-hoo visits the empty pool, probably expecting to see Jan-di there and disappointed that she isn’t. With a rueful (?) expression, he remembers their boat ride together during their trip to New Caledonia. He floats a paper boat into the pool, then walks away with a sigh.

I think this scene is supposed to be… sad?

(It’s just that it’s so hard to read Ji-hoo’s face. An expressive actor can let you know how the character is feeling without words, but I find Ji-hoo always requires explanation to understand.)

Jun-pyo joins the Geum men at the public bath, and participates in that grand exercise of male bonding: scrubbing dead skin from each other’s backs.

(Having never had his back scrubbed before, Jun-pyo is particularly sensitive to the abrasive scrubbing rag. The expression on Lee Min-ho’s face cracks me up — even the veins in his chest are protruding.)

They emerge from the bath and beeline for some fish-cake skewers from a street vending cart, which Jun-pyo tastes for the first time. He likes them so much that soon, a mound of little skewers sits in front of him.

Reliving the moments of his family outing later makes Jun-pyo chuckle to himself. And just in case we’ve forgotten what happened a mere five minutes ago, a whole series of flashbacks fills us in on his memories.

Yi-jung and Woo-bin wonder what has him so happy, to which Jun-pyo asks whether they’ve ever made kimchi, or had their backs scrubbed at a public bath, or eaten fish sticks from a street cart. Loftily, he tsk-tsks that they’re missing out: “What do you know about life?”

Yi-jung quips, “I liked him better when he was messing up proverbs.”

Ji-hoo finds Jan-di after her swim, figuring that she must have a lot on her mind to be swimming so much. After the last time they met when she ran off to avoid Jun-pyo, he guesses that’s the issue. He notices her wet hair and gives her his hat, followed by a spot of advice: “Don’t avoid him. Someone once told me that avoidance is cowardly. Don’t avoid him, and give him a chance.”

Jan-di admits, “To be honest, being dragged along into Gu Jun-pyo’s world is uncomfortable.” Ji-hoo responds, “There’s no such thing as Jun-pyo’s world or Jan-di’s world. We’re in the same world right now. If Jun-pyo’s world is too much for you, go along at your pace.”

Because Jan-di has been feeling uncomfortable, she’s been keeping her distance, which drives Jun-pyo crazy. He’s determined to wait for her to make the first move, and paces in agitation. Woo-bin, ever the voice of reason, tells him to call her, but Yi-jung reminds him of the player’s code. Relationships require a certain give and take and it’s better if he waits.

Thus when Jan-di does finally call, Jun-pyo tries to calm his reaction before answering the phone. I admit, I cried tears of laughter at Jun-pyo’s abysmal attempt to play it cool. First, he feigns disinterest: “Geum Jan-di? Who’s that?”

The guys sigh that he’s overdoing it, so he corrects himself, saying, “Ah right, I remember now.” But in an effort to pretend he hasn’t noticed her absence, he assures her, “I’ve been SO busy, I haven’t been able to recall that you haven’t called in three days and thirteen hours.” Yi-jung grimaces, “It’s embarrassing calling him friend.”

Jan-di makes a suggestion which Jun-pyo finds disagreeable, and he balks, “Why would I want to go there?” and hangs up. And then crows to his buddies, “Did you see how I hung up first?” LOL.

Asked what he found so unpleasant, Jun-pyo answers that Jan-di had suggested a double date with her friend. (Yi-jung plays it off, but he says with some coolness, “Ga-eul? Good for her.”) Since Jun-pyo finds the double date distasteful, Yi-jung offers half-jokingly, “Want me to go instead?” (His reasoning being that it would be interesting to observe how common folk date.)

The next day, Jan-di tries to pretend she’s not disappointed that he turned down the invitation. When Jun-pyo makes his appearance, he pulls the old “I was just in the neighborhood” excuse and offers to stay as a favor to keep her from being a third wheel. Seriously, between the two of them, they’ve got enough pride to make a third person.

Ga-eul’s boyfriend, Su-pyo, makes a bad impression right off the bat, arriving a half-hour late and mocking Jun-pyo with what he probably thinks is good-natured charm. But his careless remarks come off rude and when he makes fun of Jun-pyo’s hair and tells him to call him hyung, the girls trade uneasy glances.

Sensing Jun-pyo’s aggravation, Jan-di says they can leave, but Jun-pyo grits his teeth and is committed to seeing this commoner date through to the end.

Things only get worse when the foursome go out to eat, and Su-pyo taunts Jun-pyo for his uneasiness at the food (it’s gopchang, or cow intestines). Goaded by Su-pyo’s patronizing remarks, Jun-pyo forces himself to eat with difficulty. He misstates another proverb in an attempt to warn Su-pyo to check himself (before he wrecks himself), but the mistake causes Su-pyo to laugh harder.

Things improve when the couples split up to skate on an outdoor rink. Jan-di admires the pretty lights, having never come to a place like this before, which she describes as fairy-tale-like.

Seeing Jan-di’s bare hands, Jun-pyo gives her one of his gloves, then tucks her uncovered hand into his pocket. Perhaps thinking of the display of lights, he suggests, “Let’s go someday.” She asks, “Where?” Jun-pyo: “Champs-Elysées.”

At Su-pyo’s suggestion, Jun-pyo reluctantly joins him to grab some hot drinks. As they head off together, Su-pyo answers a phone call while the girls chat.

Ga-eul apologizes for her boyfriend’s rudeness, but admits that she was touched to see Jun-pyo trying so hard to accommodate everyone. It was touching, really.

Wondering where the guys went, the girls look for their dates. They find them almost immediately: A crowd has gathered to watch Jun-pyo pummeling Ga-eul’s boyfriend.

Jan-di is appalled — she knows he was struggling to remain calm but beating up the guy is unforgivable — and grows angrier when he addresses Ga-eul: “If you’re going to date, pick a decent boyfriend.” Jan-di insists that he apologize, warning, “if you leave like this, we’re over.” Jun-pyo stalks off angrily.

In the following days, a dejected Ga-eul can’t get in touch with her boyfriend despite leaving numerous messages. Jan-di feels responsible for her unhappiness, deploring Jun-pyo’s rash temper. But Ga-eul reasons, “I don’t think Jun-pyo sunbae would do that without a reason.”

Vowing to extract an apology, Jan-di drops by the F4 hangout. The other guys, having heard none of the story from Jun-pyo, are alarmed at their chilly exchange, sensing that whatever happened was serious.

Jan-di: “Please tell him that this is my last warning. Thanks to his fists, my friend is crying. If he doesn’t apologize, we’re really over.”

Jun-pyo: “Why would I apologize when she can’t be thankful that I got rid of that trash for her?”

At his unpenitent response, Jan-di retorts that this attitude is typical of him — it was clearly beyond him to adjust to suit someone else. But now Ga-eul has to suffer for his actions. She shocks the others with the severity of her words when she says, “Don’t act like you know me anymore.”

The next time Ji-hoo finds Jan-di at the pool, she’s on the verge of a cold from all the swimming (and walking around with wet hair). Jan-di cautions, “If this is about Gu Jun-pyo, I’m not going to talk,” then proceeds to complain all about him. Because this involves her friend, “This time, I really can’t forgive him.”

Ji-hoo hands her some cold medicine — he’d anticipated that she would need it — and leaves her with one last bit of advice:

“Guys don’t do things for no reason in front of the girl they like. There’s always a reason. I’m speaking from experience, so you can trust me.”

Su-pyo continues to ignore Ga-eul’s calls, so Jan-di proposes seeking him out rather than waiting for him to call. Arriving near the club where he works, they spot him walking with a pretty, older girl. From a distance, the girls overhear as he complains about his ridiculous double-date fiasco.

Su-pyo makes himself out to be the martyr, then proceeds to trash both Ga-eul and Jan-di, calling them unfashionable and dumpy. He’d suggested to Jun-pyo that they ditch the girls and offered to introduce him to some club babes — which is when Jun-pyo had attacked, saying, “If you call my girlfriend names, you won’t be able to eat gopchang anymore with that mouth!”

At that point, Su-pyo glances over and notices the girls. Jan-di asks, “Is that true?” Ga-eul is hurt at Su-pyo’s dismissal — he tells her to stop bugging him, like some kind of stalker — which enrages Jan-di.

With a howl, Jan-di hops a fence, leaps at Su-pyo, and delivers her trademark spinning back kick to his face. Stomping on his chest, she yells, “One was for Ga-eul, and one was for my boyfriend!”

(Honestly, she and Jun-pyo really are two of a kind, aren’t they?)

Afterward, Ga-eul attempts to look on the bright side: “I’m glad. At least we found out that Jun-pyo sunbae isn’t a bad person.”

Though in a glum mood, Ga-eul urges Jan-di to apologize and make up with Jun-pyo, assuring her friend she’ll be fine on her own.

And now, Yi-jung gets his own storyline! He receives a hysterical call from a woman threatening suicide because of his father — who is also a ceramic artist and professor, who takes advantage of his position to have numerous affairs, presumably with his students. Yi-jung witnesses his father romancing yet another woman, and turns away in disgust.

In the lobby, he intercepts the woman as she’s leaving, attracting her attention by speaking flirtatiously. But then his voice hardens and he tells her she’s just one in a string of his father’s girlfriends — she’s too beautiful for that kind of treatment.

We can see where he gets his playboy tendencies, although I suppose Yi-jung isn’t so far gone as his father, because he still has a conscience.

Afterward, Yi-jung happens to be driving by as a depressed Ga-eul trudges along the busy sidewalk, then sits on the ground and starts to cry. Yi-jung tries to ignore her, then decides somewhat unenthusiastically to approach.

He teases Ga-eul for crying on the street, telling her, “Sometimes girls think they look pretty when they cry, but they’re wrong.” Unfortunately, his words push her over the edge, and her soft cries turn into loud sobs. Hilariously, Yi-jung uneasily pleads with her to stop, while insisting to curious passers-by that he’s not the one who made her cry.

At F4 headquarters, Ji-hoo asks if Jun-pyo has made up with Jan-di yet. Not noticing Jan-di’s silent arrival behind him, Jun-pyo vows that he wouldn’t make up with Jan-di even if she begged and insists on his innocence in the matter.

Amused, Woo-bin addresses Jan-di: “I guess you’ll have to go home then.” Jun-pyo looks up, startled, to see her standing there with a contrite expression.

Jan-di says, “I didn’t know you were so angry. I was just thinking of myself. I’m sorry, I’ll go.” Jun-pyo leaps over the couch to stop her.

Working up her nerve, Jan-di says haltingly, “Gu Jun-pyo… accept my apology!” and holds out an apple. (The word for apology and apple are pronounced the same.) Jun-pyo’s obviously pleased, but he’s got his pride to think of, so he keeps a straight face. He wants three wishes before accepting her apology. Jan-di reluctantly relents — but he has to name his wishes within one minute. Go!

Jun-pyo sputters that that’s not fair, all the while Jan-di counts steadily. Flustered, he instructs her to sit, then stand — which Jan-di counts as two wishes. With five seconds left, Jun-pyo blurts out his wish — she has to apologize while calling him “oppa.” In a baby voice. (Akin to saying, “Oppa, I’m sowwy.”)

Cringing, she tries to muster the words… then exclaims, “I can’t! Take the apology or leave it!” Woo-bin says wisely, “You should have accepted the apology when she offered.” Ji-hoo takes a bite of the apology apple, which Jun-pyo grabs back possessively.

Yi-jung takes Ga-eul to his pottery studio for some tea and sympathy. He startles her by dropping a ceramic bowl to the ground, but instead of breaking, it remains intact. “It’s stronger than it looks,” he says. Using a pottery metaphor, he asks if she knows how long it took for the bowl to get so strong, and explains the process for shaping it, then baking it in fire. But if, at the end of all that, it still isn’t right, “You have to let it go, cleanly, like this.” With that, he takes the bowl, wraps it in a towel, and smashes it with a hammer.

Yi-jung: “What I mean is, there are things we have to go through in order to become stronger, and to find our true selves. Like what you went through today.” Ga-eul answers, “I think I know what you’re saying. Thank you.”

He suggests going out to have some fun, since he had a bad day too. After taking her out for a makeover — which is frankly a little ridiculous since she’s so pretty to begin with — Yi-jung takes Ga-eul to a club.

But it seems Yi-jung has something more up his sleeve than mere flirtation, because her ex-boyfriend Su-pyo is there (which suggests this is the club where he works).

Yi-jung leaves Ga-eul by the bar and heads to the front of the club, where he makes a splash with a grand entrance. Even Su-pyo’s new girlfriend is impressed, recognizing Yi-jung. Thus she’s flattered when he addresses her, and asks if he can take the liberty of performing.

And then he busts out the saxophone.

It’s not often that I find an Yi-jung scene unwatchable, and yet here we are for the second time. Yi-jung makes the ladies’ hearts flutter by announcing, “There’s a person here who’s stolen my heart. I’ll perform this on her behalf.”

(To Kim Bum’s credit, he delivers this admirably with nary a grimace or smirk.)

Jun-pyo calls Jan-di out, and she grumbles all the way, still chafing at his treatment of her apology. She walks past the darkened park, looking up in wonder when an extravagant display of lights suddenly flickers on.

Jun-pyo stands in the middle of the playground, which he’s decorated with yet more lights: This is his version of Champs-Elysées. He asks, “Do you like it?” Happily, Jan-di nods, “It’s pretty. It’s like Christmas.”

(Okay, I get that this is a romantic gesture. But PD Jeon, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? He has used this exact same scenario not once, but TWICE in prior dramas. (Clicky here for comparisons.) Seriously, the man must be in a creative slump, or maybe he just can’t work without the Hong sisters. COME ON. Way to ruin a perfectly nice romantic moment. I guess we should be glad Jun-pyo didn’t present Jan-di with a random cake, apropos of nothing.)

But back to the scene: Jun-pyo wonders what’s so great about Christmas, and she responds that it’s a happy day. Jun-pyo answers, “I’ve never had a happy memory of it.”

A flashback shows us a lonely Little Jun-pyo, being entertained by maids and his butler, delivered impersonal gifts from his parents.

Jun-pyo asks about the kimchi he helped make, and says, “I’d like to eat some.” Also, he enjoyed her mother’s cooking and the vending-cart fish sticks her father bought him.

Jun-pyo: “You know, I didn’t know what family was, but looking at your family, I think I have an idea. Can I drop by again?”
Jan-di: “Did you ever ask permission before coming?”
Jun-pyo: “I’m not joking.”

Jun-pyo rises from his swing and kneels in front of Jan-di: “I want to go. I want to, every day.”

 
COMMENTS

What I particularly like about Jun-pyo is that while I think it’s pretty clear his feelings for Jan-di exist with or without family (or friend) approval, their relationship has now introduced an additional, equally meaningful, aspect: a longing for family which I don’t think he realized he even had. Little Jun-pyo definitely felt his parents’ neglect, but I don’t think he’s ever really recognized the longing in a clear way.

Jun-hee, as the older sibling, holds more of a grudge against their cold mother, but Jun-pyo’s understanding of his loveless upbringing remains at an almost childlike level. That’s why he looks on at Jan-di’s family interactions with a naive kind of wonder — it’s not just the activities like kimchi-making or sauna-sharing that are new, but the emotions that underlie those interactions.

(Speaking of whom, I really like the tense dynamic between Jun-hee and her mother, and I hope Jun-hee’s character sticks around for a while.)

One reason I dig this development of Jun-pyo’s character is because when the couple inevitably faces family opposition in the future and is threatened with separation, the loss is going to be felt on both sides. (This isn’t a spoiler, just speculation — but c’mon, we all see it coming, right?) It’s not just that Jan-di may lose her rich, caring boyfriend, but her boyfriend loses his source of familial rapport as well. Also, I have felt (particularly in episodes 5 through 7, for instance) that Jan-di has not really brought a lot to this relationship, aside from capturing Jun-pyo’s interest. She had until recently gone along with his plans, but never really initiated anything until this episode. Now, she offers him something that balances out their relationship, and I am relieved.

 
RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , , , ,