Hello everyone! I am nattacatta and I am super excited to be finishing the recaps for Tamra the Island. I will be recapping the sixteen episode version as of right now (I come from the land down under, aka DVD region 4). This drama is oodles of fun so I hope you come along on this journey with me to Tamra where female divers rule the roost, British exiles speak Korean better than English and supposed sexual offenders investigate thievery.
The characters (and actors) in this show continue to deliver on the cuteness front. This was a fun episode and we see further development in Kyu’s character. What sets him apart from our regular Gu Jun Pyos is his personal journey, one of the major themes of the show. There is still mystery surrounding him, and Im Joo Hwan is playing the hell out of all of these elements.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
The episode picks up with William and Beo Jin admiring the clothes she made for him, while Kyu and Yan have a conversation about when they will leave Tamra. Yan notices that Kyu seems more anxious for them to leave than they are, to which he responds that he doesn’t want trouble for the townspeople. Methinks he is thinking about one townsperson in particular, although I don’t think that diminishes the growing loyalty and respect he is feeling towards some others, such as Beo Jin’s mother. Anyway, Yan then asks if Kyu will help them.
On their way home, Beo Jin thanks Kyu- it is obvious she feels awkward, but the thank you is sincere- however, he just brushes it off, telling her not to say useless things. Beo Jin yells thank you at him and runs off, unfortunately tripping over. She seems injured so he helps her up and offers his arm. Beo Jin is confused but takes his sleeve uncomfortably (and adorably). She thanks him again, and this time he accepts it.
Back at home, Kyu is writing a letter asking for money. He looks out the window to see Beo Jin catching a firefly and smiles. As she lets it go, it flies over the town, to be caught by a young girl. A mysterious man (complete with evil laughter) tells her to release it, seguing into a violent scene, where the distressed child looks on as the man is killed.
The Lady in Red wakes up from this nightmare, noticeably affected by it. I think we can assume that she is the young girl in this dream, but as to how much of it is based in memories; I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out. She is anxiously awaiting news from Jeju.
And now we see the person from whom she is awaiting news, back on the island. The Lady in Red’s sidekick (henceforth the Man in Black) is attempting to talk to a familiar looking old man, addressing him as ‘My Lord’ (to which he protests). The old man says to tell the Lady in Red that he knows what she has done in Tamra and not to cause any more harm.
But apparently, the lady has lofty aspirations for Tamra, which the Man in Black tries to remind him of. However, he says it is useless; he should leave and stop disturbing the peace. Before leaving, the Man in Black lays down a scroll for him. A caption on the screen tells us about Gwang Hae Gun, a former King of the country, dethroned by a supporter of his successor. And the plot thickens…
Unfortunately, I am an unseasoned saeguk viewer and I suck at figuring out mysteries and conspiracies. Although most of these are sort of obvious in Tamra- the villain is the Lady in Red; the hero is Kyu in white- some parts are left unknown. Or am I the only one who hasn’t figured them out yet?
The Man in Black tells a minion to take action to avoid the police finding out about their illegal activities. Unfortunately, it seems this man has no loyalty to that cause and as soon as the Man in Black leaves, he decides to steal some… antlers. I assume they are very valuable.
It seems that he is not the only one trying to earn some cash, as Kyu is off gambling. He slaps a big bag of money on the table and assumes his poker face. Meanwhile, Beo Jin is helping her Dad out at their straw shoe stall, despite his protests that she should rest. A man comes up, fuming about the Exile sweeping their gambling matches. Cue confused looks. Apparently, Kyu’s secret is gambling, not with calculations, but with nerve. You gotta play big to win big.
Back at the pokies, the antler thief decides to trade in his antlers (collective gasp in the room) for gambling money. Kyu is suspicious and tries to buy the antlers which apparently, are high quality. Beo Jin enters and assumes he is turning to gambling as his life is in the drain. She counsels that he hasn’t lost all hope and he can turn things around once he returns to the capital. Oh, adorable Beo Jin.
In stomps a violent mob to the gambling hall, followed by the Man in Black. Beo Jin and Kyu hide while the guilty antler thief is led away. Kyu sees the Man in Black taking the antlers, and this makes him more suspicious.
It has been a busy day for the Man in Black as he visits the prison to kill the offender. As his body is led away, the town leader, Yi Bang (who wears the same clothes as Kyu- hint of things to come?), reprimands the guards for being so remiss and orders that they keep the death a secret. As Kyu questions them, they bluster that there was no prisoner, still on edge from their beating down.
Beo Jin is similarly unsuccessful in her diving attempts and her lack of skill is ruthlessly made fun of by Ggeut Boon and her mother. Beo Jin tells her Mum that it is too difficult to open her eyes under water but she doesn’t want to take any excuses. She is a diver; of course she has to open her eyes under water. Does she think that divers like opening their eyes in the ocean?
To make this an even worse day for Beo Jin, the diving team has some unwelcome visitors: divers from another area. It seems there is a competition looming which will decide who gets the occupancy of a diving spot. When told that the other team has strong competition, Beo Jin’s mother selects Beo Jin to be one of their representatives, to Ggeut Boon and Beo Jin’s dismay.
Later, Beo Jin is sleeping in a field with William. He gives her the perfect gift: goggles. He tells her, in English, that she is like a mermaid and explains what that is. She says that he is like a present from the goddess of the ocean.
She asks him if he knows what happiness means, and tells him that she is very happy when with him. He understands (although I am not sure whether he misinterprets the word to mean something more romantic?), saying that he is happy too and puts her hand on his heart. This fast beating is what happiness is. She feels her heart and notices her heart beats quickly too. At this point, it is widely obvious that William is utterly smitten. I think that Beo Jin is slowly realising a stronger attraction to William, but at this point, everything is still predominantly platonic on her end.
Competition day has arrived. Cue split screen of team captains, flags waving in the background. The tension and determination is palpable. Ggeut Boon, annoying thing that she is (although I can’t hate her- I find her too amusing) is putting a laxative in a drink. I smell trouble…
The competition begins and our team wins the first round. Go team! Ggeut Boon gives Beo Jin the drink saying it is made from healthy herbs and she looks on with glee as Beo Jin happily drinks it. Beo Jin starts to feel confident, and says she feels like her stamina is building from the drink. How many times can I describe Beo Jin as adorable before it becomes redundant?
Round two goes to the enemy team, and the competition eventually comes to a tie. Really? A tie before the final round where the protagonist will be competing?
It’s Beo Jin’s turn and William and Kyu are watching silently, while everyone else is cheering. Her mother gives her a knife; this is the last chance she can give her. As she takes her position alongside her opponent (who is probably double her size) her stomach starts hurting. Uh oh. Spurred on by everyone’s support and determined to her best, Beo Jin dons her bright shiny goggles as she dives in anyway.
Beo Jin’s eyes start to go fuzzy as she is pulling up a clam. Her competitor has already come up for air. Kyu is concerned and voices this to her mother but she has faith in her; Beo Jin is not that weak.
The townspeople get more concerned as her competitor comes up for the second time. She faints underwater, presumably a combination of her messed up stomach and her determination not to come for air without a clam. Her mother and a few other divers start to search for her. William can’t take it anymore and dives in, pulling her to the surface.
He is attempting to administer CPR to her, but Kyu comes upon them, and assumes that he is sexually assaulting her. A physical struggle ensues and Kyu is livid at his supposed betrayal, telling him never to meet Beo Jin again. William can only think about the danger she is in and tries to get back to her. As they hear the townspeople searching, Kyu takes Beo Jin and William is forced to run away.
A while later, Beo Jin wakes up, surrounded by family. Her father chides her for not coming up for air, stating that her life is the most important thing, and the family couldn’t carry on without her. I love her Dad! She tells her Mum with disappointment that no matter what she tries she can’t become a great diver like her.
Her Mum tells the gathered townspeople that Beo Jin will get better with a few days rest. Ggeut Boon’s Mum – a much bigger bitch than Ggeut Boon, who feels terrible- rubs salt in her wounds by saying that Beo Jin shouldn’t have competed in the first place, awful diver that she is.
After they leave, the others note that Kyu and Beo Jin keep getting thrown together- why don’t they just get married? A few diving girls say that even the exile has standards (please, have they seen Seo Woo?). The Town Elder brings some medicine for Beo Jin, gracefully received by Beo Jin’s mother.
In his cave hideout, William worries for Beo Jin. He asks Yan why the townspeople hate him and Yan answers that Korea has always been closed off and therefore afraid of and aggressive towards foreigners. Yan advises him to forget about Beo Jin; they’ll be leaving soon. Phillip runs in with exactly that in mind, taking Yan to the port.
Yan finds a sailor willing to take him and William to Nagasaki on a departing boat. Looking on the same port, the Man in Black organises some more nefarious activity and the Lady in Red is pleased with his progress in distracting the law enforcement. It seems William and Yan won’t be able to leave quite as easily as Yan imagines…
The Man in Black tells Yi Bang to stop a suspicious merchant boat that looks like it may contain the stolen goods. He is slightly sceptical, but doesn’t raise his concerns, still believing he is speaking to a superior.
Beo Jin’s mother thanks Kyu for saving Beo Jin as they are drinking together. He responds that Beo Jin shouldn’t have competed if she didn’t want to. Her mother knows this but people don’t live life based on desire, it is based on circumstance. Kyu counters than you can’t turn a cat into a tiger by bringing it to the mountain. But Mum isn’t trying to make Beo Jin a lion; she just wants her to be able to support her family. If she could support Beo Jin forever, she would never have sent her diving. Another heartfelt, honest scene between these two. These conversations are, in my opinion, one of the largest influencing factors on Kyu’s transformation.
As Beo Jin dreams of William and giggles, Kyu is outside her room, clearly jealous and bothered by his assumption that William was taking advantage of her. William is also thinking of Beo Jin and laments to the apparently unhinged old man who has come to visit him about his position as a monster in the eyes of townspeople. However, Beo Jin is here and he doesn’t want to leave her.
While Beo Jin is resting, her little sister brings her some medicine and she learns that her sister has been doing all her jobs while she has been recovering. What a sweetie!
Now free of responsibilities, Beo Jin decides to cook Kyu a tasty looking meal, after learning he was the one who saved her. He sees her looking for him in his room and assumes his superior attitude, but softens a little when he sees that she has made him food, although he keeps his air of coolness: “It will be a relief if I don’t get sick afterwards.”
He concedes that it isn’t bad, which out of his mouth is high praise. She asks him about the diving incident and he starts coughing awkwardly and stuffing more food into his mouth. Beo Jin picks up one of the rolls and starts eating, which is when Kyu reaches over and wipes the food off of her mouth. He smiles adorably while Beo Jin in confused by this intimate gesture.
A newbie has just arrived on the island, vomiting as he comes on shore. He spots Ggeut Boon and some other divers and finds them incredibly strange looking (Are they legs or radishes?). Dude, I wouldn’t mess with those girls if I were you. He is looking for Kyu but all he manages to do is insult the girls. He ends up falling with Ggeut Boon landing on top of him, after accidently pulling opening her shirt. Is it just me or when she noticed it was undone did she pull it further off, and then slap him? Haha. She kicks him in the crotch and dashes away. Ouch.
The (possibly neutered) man arrives at Beo Jin’s house and hears Kyu’s voice. He is praising Beo Jin’s little sister for an amazing drawing she did. He decides to crown it “Manhwa”! (Haha). We learn that his name is Bong Sam, and he is Kyu’s servant from the mainland. He brings with him some books, an old Jinseng plant and some money, until Mum walks in, unhappy to have another mouth to feed. With Kyu in the house the rice has been running out quicker than ever (although, of course, Beo Jin has been taking it to William).
Bong Sam is incredulous at the lack of respect for his master and says as much, to Kyu’s chagrin. Mum asks why a sexual offender (Kyu) should get such good treatment from them, but Kyu puts an end to that potentially awkward discussion and says that Bong Sam will be staying at a hotel.
Beo Jin asks him to bring a package to William but Kyu is still furious about the fact he tried to take advantage of her (and of her ignorance of this). He says never to see him or mention him again, coming close to telling her but ultimately deciding not to. This speaks a lot about his care for her; he doesn’t want her to get hurt because of William. He leaves, not before becoming aggressive enough so Beo Jin is on the verge of tears.
We get a hint that all may not be as it seems as Bong Sam is confused as to why Kyu is giving Beo Jin the time of day. He never even talked to the hottest girls in the capital. Rather odd for someone supposedly exiled on the grounds of sexual assault…
Kyu goes straight to Yan and gives him money to leave, and is told that their ship is departing tomorrow. Yan again notes how strange it is that Kyu wants them to leave to badly.
Kyu goes gambling again, trying to locate information about those high quality antlers. He learns that the merchant they belonged to is someone from the mainland staying at a Gibang, a gisaeng house.
So he visits and talks to one of the ladies, gathering information on this merchant, who hasn’t been seen for a while. He takes this lady to visit his room to try and find a clue.
Unfortunately, it seems the Man in Black has gotten there first, and he grabs a token that falls out of the luggage. That in hand, he walks out, meeting Kyu and the lady (who runs screaming) on the way. Kyu thought he was a Royal Inspector, but it turns out he is a robber. The Man in Black pulls out his sword and starts lunging at Kyu.
Personally, I am more interested in the human, relationship side of this drama, rather than the mystery, stolen goods side. I know that the mystery is necessary and I am still relatively interested in it. I did find that the first part of this episode was there simply as a way to add more depth to that part of the story, and consequently found it a little disjointed (luckily, it focused more on the main characters later, so overall I was a happy camper).
I think all the actors are rocking their roles. From the fantastic leads to the side characters like Ggeut Boon, everyone is played as they should be, and there is no cringe-worthy acting. Granted, Hwang Chan Bin won’t be getting any awards for this role but I don’t hate his character by any means and he certainly has improved (which I think can be attributed to the phasing out of English). Seo Woo is, of course, fantastic and she certainly deserves all the praise she has gotten for this and other roles. Im Joo Hwan is also so amazing in this role.
As I said earlier, Kyu’s journey and the setting of this storyline is what sets it apart from the run of the mill rich boy, chaebol storyline. The romance is merely a side plot at this point, with other elements of the plot with more of an emphasis. That being said, Im Joo Hwan and Seo Woo have excellent chemistry and I am certainly looking forward to the development of their relationship.
At the moment, Kyu’s personal journey is really the key factor, and he is slowly learning all these lessons to life, only one of which is love. He himself is being changed for the better by learning about all the things being overly privileged may prevent you from learning, like respect for all and community spirit. I know that there is more to his storyline than meets the eye, and I think this will be discovered sometime in the near future…
And finally, here is a faint cheer (who am I kidding? Loud cheer accompanied by a vuvuzela) from my fan girl self: Team Park Kyu!
- Im Joo-hwan is one to watch in 2010
- Tamra DVD will contain 21 episodes
- Tamra the Island: Episode 4
- Tamra the Island: Episode 3
- Tamra will get a full director’s cut DVD
- Fans are spitting mad at Tamra’s curtailment
- Tamra gets shortened to 16 episodes
- My Name Is: Seo Woo
- Tamra the Island: Episode 2
- Western actors becoming more visible on Korean TV
- Tamra the Island: Episode 1