I’m really digging the vibe of this show, which is a total surprise, given that it was promoted in such an ambiguous way, claiming to be of seventeen different genres. But I pretty much love the characters from the get-go, because they’re a breath of fresh air in the k-drama landscape. I especially love that Joo-won is a neurotic freakshow. Funny Binnie, you’re back! We’ve missed you!
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Ra-im practically melts to hear Oska say her name, and Joo-won can’t hide his petty annoyance. I do love this lifetime rivalry between cousins. Such great fodder for conflict, and silliness.
Joo-won distracts him with the dangling carrot of his impending scandal with the actress ex-girlfriend, only when he finally gets rid of his cousin and turns around, Ra-im has already walked onto a bus without a word. Joo-won is left pouting alone in the street.
Ra-im swoons all the way home, while listening to Oska’s songs, and tells her roommate that she particularly liked that Oska called her “cool” rather than “pretty.” (It’s also a word that can mean “handsome,” used more often to describe men.) Interesting. It sounds like something you’d say to convince yourself that second place was just as good, even though as a stuntwoman, that’s totally the thing you’d want to hear…from everyone except the guy you had a crush on.
Oska follows Joo-won home to confirm that the scandal was laid to rest. Joo-won strategically uses this to get Oska’s signature on the department store contract, landing him smack dab in a throng of screaming fans at LOEL, lined up to get an autograph. Joo-won smirks, having gotten exactly what he wanted, but especially enjoying Oska’s personal agony.
He clashes with the head of his executive staff again, and later decides he’ll find a way to fire him. Apparently it’s not something he can do himself, because his plan? “I’m going to tattle to Mom.” Hahaha.
As he waits downstairs for his car, Joo-won imagines Ra-im standing there next to him, and when the thought passes, she disappears into the wind. It’s a nice little whimsical beat to show that he’s thinking of her.
Seul, our bratty second lead, shows up to offer up her services as the director for Oska’s new music video. She’s clearly got an elaborate plan to make his life miserable, making his manager hesitate, but it’s not like they have other options. She says that she doesn’t want to remain in Oska’s memory as his first love, since they’ll be family soon anyway (meaning her plan to marry Joo-won). Wow, you skipped like thirty steps in that logic train, but I’ll give you points for crazed delusions of grandeur.
Back at home, Joo-won half-heartedly agrees to go on another mat-seon, all the while imagining Ra-im walking along beside him. He goes about his day, trying not to think of her, which only makes him obsess.
He finally turns to imaginary Ra-im and starts talking to her, annoyed that she keeps wearing the same clothes. Ha. He’s actually a little bit nuts. I love that!
He starts to argue that she’s not his type at all, but then she suddenly appears on the table, dressed to the nines, and he starts getting flustered. He admits to fantasizing about her looking like this (which he is admitting to his own fantasy, mind you), but insists that she’s not at all up to his standards.
Imaginary Ra-im goes through a series of changes every time he adds a new trait he’s looking for, from bookish to chic to childlike, unleashing an oppa-pout-wiggle that basically explodes Joo-won’s brain. He once again repeats the rhyme that he clearly uses as a coping mechanism to clear his head. (More on this later.)
He finally goes to ask Oska if he has Ra-im’s number, which he doesn’t, so he gets Chae-rin’s number instead. He meets with her to score Ra-im’s number, who he describes as “acts like a man,” and “looks like someone who makes you keep thinking of her.” Haha. As if it’s her fault that he’s obsessed.
Also, how much do I love that a drama hero is actually ACTIVELY searching for a girl’s number, because he likes her? You’d think, by the Law of K-dramas, that people only started dating if they were hogtied together and forced to be roommates.
He hedges and then decides to call, but it doesn’t go so well. He asks her to meet, without giving a reason, and she soundly ignores him and hangs up. He’s clearly not used to not getting his way, he of the sparkly tracksuit.
He decides to go down to her action school in person. Couldn’t you change out of that outfit first? It didn’t go over so well the first time, if you’ll remember. No? Okay then. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The action school is holding open auditions today, and with no recourse but to stand in line with the other auditionees, he watches Ra-im from afar. As he sees her laugh and smile, he says to himself in voiceover that this isn’t the same woman who’s been haunting him…this one…is far more awesome. (He uses the same word that Oska did: “cool” or “handsome,” but the usage is so different here—he’s totally smitten with her, and uses the word to mean “attractive” in a way that Oska did not.)
She stares wide-eyed when he appears in front of her, claiming boldly that he’s not here for an audition; he’s here to see her, since she won’t take his calls. They start to ask him interview questions, like what he’s good at, to which he responds confidently, “I make money well, and I spend it well.” The guys cheer him on, but Ra-im and Jong-soo are not amused.
She finally takes him outside to ask why he’s here, calling him all manner of things like nom and an unemployed slacker. He can’t admit why he’s really there, saying that she’ll think he’s crazy (because you kinda are), so he comes up with the excuse that she owes him for the hospital bill, since he’s the one who paid that night.
Clocking her reactions, he muses that this is why he can’t stop thinking about her—because she’s prettier when she’s angry. Heh. And aw. He asks her how her wound is healing, and when she doesn’t respond, he peels back her jacket to take a look at her arm. She reaches to pull it back up, but he stops her, holding her hand there while he looks intently at the scar.
Something about him in that moment shakes her—it’s simultaneously strange and invasive, and yet tender and sweet. Perhaps it’s his earnestness showing, which he normally hides in his flippant word choice. They stand frozen like that for a lingering moment, and then he puts her jacket back on, telling her to come back to that hospital and call her when she does, so that he can make sure it gets treated so it doesn’t scar permanently. With that, he leaves.
He heads back to the museum for another mat-seon, but discovers that it’s a re-date with Seul, whom he pretty clearly rejected the first time. She claims that she’s already fallen in love at first sight, to which he tells her that if she ever hears a man say those words, she should hit him, because it means he wants to get laid on the first date. Hahaha. He leaves her in the dust.
On her way out, she runs into Oska, who’s shaken to his core just at the sight of her. He’s brimming with tears, but she treats him without feeling, and makes her exit. Interesting dynamic, since he’s such a heartless womanizer elsewhere. Now we see why.
Outside, Seul shows tears of her own, but she holds them back, resolute to stand by her devious plan. Why? Because she’s the second lead. Need there be a more sensical reason?
Back on the lake of his ridiculously beautiful estate, Joo-won talks to his mom about the kind of woman he’s looking for (no doubt demanded by her since he keeps rejecting women by the hour). He retorts, “Of course she has to be pretty! Mom!” Keh. He starts rattling off traits for his ideal woman: “short hair, doesn’t laugh much, sad eyes, scar that keeps her from being Miss Korea…” as it dawns on him that he’s describing Ra-im.
He looks over to Imaginary Ra-im, perched next to him, not even surprised anymore by her sudden appearance. Mom asks if he’s crazy. Joo-won: “Crazy? Listen, hypothetically, if I were crazy, you’d still give me my inheritance…[Click]…Hello? Mom?” Hahaha.
He yells at Imaginary Ra-im that this is all her fault, and this time she yells back, making him wonder if he really IS going nuts. He starts chanting his rhyme again to try and get her out of his mind.
At the action school the next day, Ra-im starts thinking about Joo-won, unable to shake her thoughts of him during training. She screws up because she isn’t focused, causing Jong-soo to cut her from the upcoming movie shoot. One of her sunbaes has taken a liking to Joo-won, who they call “the guy who makes a lot of money,” and borrows her phone to call him.
Joo-won sees that she’s calling, and interrupts his executive meeting to ask, “Is it really ringing? Is this really happening, or am I imagining it?” The hilarious thing is, he’s asking sincerely, because he doesn’t actually know the answer.
He picks up, and since she can’t hang up now, Ra-im talks to him like she’s his sunbae (assuming that he actually meant to audition for the action school), and tells him to get his ass to practice, on the double. Haha. He’s so flabbergasted that he sits in the middle of his meeting, staring blankly into his phone, until somebody brings him back down to earth. He decides that they should open up their department store to dramas and film shoots, but no weepies; he asks for action, with lots of stunts. Ha, well if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…
He drives over to the action school, but sees Ra-im drive off, so he follows. They end up at a cemetery, where she has brought the newbies to pay their respects to the original director of the action school. She gives a little speech about being the thankless people behind the scenes, but reminds them that it’s their job to make others shine while they take no credit, because they are stunt-men and women. She tells them to be sure that it’s a job that they want to risk their lives for, because that’s what they’re about to do. Joo-won looks on, even more impressed with her.
She takes the trainees out for a game of some soccer/volleyball hybrid, and Joo-won shows up, with that trademark cheeky smirk of his. He accidentally returns the ball straight at Ra-im’s head, so she returns the favor by pelting him with the ball, and challenging him to beat her. He stupidly takes the bait, and then proceeds to humiliate himself by being the worst possible foot-ley-ball player in the world.
Back at the action school, she sends them on their last reps for the day, pointing out that she’ll be keeping an eye on “Sparkly Tracksuit.” HAHAHA. I love her. That’s EXACTLY what I’d call him too.
She leaves to go shower, and returns to find no one but Sparkly Tracksuit all alone in the gym. He tries to corner her, getting a swift kick in the shin for his troubles, but he doggedly follows her and insists that he needs to know some things, if he’s ever going to be cured of his “problem.” She calls him crazy, and he doesn’t really deny it, saying that either way, finding out more about her is going to help him determine whether or not he’s really nuts.
He wants to know two things: did she go to college, and are her parents anyone he’d know? Essentially, he wants to know if she’s marry-able, as if somehow that changes the fact that he’s obsessed with her, if he can justify it in this way. This is the strangest logic ever, but you’re a few marbles short, so I see where you’re going with this.
She responds by flinging him over her shoulder onto the ground, back and forth like a ragdoll. Finally he gets fed up with getting beat up, so he turns the tables and lands on top, quite literally.
She squirms, angry, but he’s still, while on top of her, asking why she won’t answer his simple questions. Hahaha. This is of course the moment when Ra-im’s roommate happens to walk in (better her than Jong-soo), making for quite the awkward moment.
But her roommate is too angry right now, having just been fired from her job because of Seul’s complaint about the VIP lounge incident. She drops her uniform on the ground and rants about her horrible boss, as it dawns on Joo-won that she’s talking about him. She declares angrily that she’ll get her revenge: she’ll go online and announce that the president of her company is gay.
He pulls her aside to out himself (as the president, not so much gay) and she freaks out when she realizes that it’s him, complete with penchant for ugly designer tracksuits. Heh. He rehires her, and in exchange, she sings his praises to Ra-im, and gets her to come out for a drink.
Joo-won’s delicate sensibilities make him gag over their choice of pig intestine lining as drinking food. “Why is a pig, a pig? Because it has all that delicious fat. So then why are we eating the skin?” This is another male-female reversal, as stereotypically, this is a common food that men eat with soju, while women are seen as too squeamish to eat it. Not that food has gender, but it’s a cultural meaning attached to this type of food.
He drops them off, and is shocked to see the tiny, rundown building where Ra-im lives. He decides he IS crazy, after all. He goes straight to Oska’s place, asking him if he’s ever dated a woman who rents. He says “rents” like you’d say “has lice” or “doesn’t shave.”
Oska says sure, he’s dated a model and a so-and-so; they all rent in Kangnam. No, Joo-won doesn’t mean a ritzy place like that. He tries to describe what kind of apartment he means, and lands with, “the kind on National Geographic, with flies buzzing and stuff…” Hahaha. Okay, do you not know ANY poor people, like EVER?
The next day Ra-im gets rehired on the set of Chae-rin’s movie, and she shoots a big no-wire stunt jump in the middle of LOEL. The director makes her do take after take, yelling at her incessantly, while she wordlessly complies, even though her arm is hurting.
Finally they get word that there’s no hurry and they can shoot all day, as per the president’s orders, and he’s on his way down to the set himself…
Cue big entrance of Sparkly Tracksuit, looking not so sparkly, but damn fine. Ra-im’s eyes widen as she realizes that he’s actually as important a person as he’s been touting, as he walks straight up to her.
The director steps in between them, fawning over Joo-won, who tells him to stop yelling at Ra-im. He grabs her wrist and pulls her to his side, as he declares, “This person is Kim Tae-hee and Jeon Do-yeon to me. I’m Gil Ra-im’s biggest fan.” Aw. Swoon.
There are of course many reasons to love Binnie, but the one reason I’ve always loved him is that he’s a weird man-child who doesn’t really fit into a simple mold. He’s light and dark, manly yet childlike, and he plays the petty, petulant child like nobody’s business. It’s sort of why I can’t see how anyone else could’ve taken this role, because without that Hyun-Bin-factor, this character would just be one note, and not at all what he is now. Worse, he’d be unfunny, which would have been a tragedy. I love that beneath the stereotypical surface, Joo-won is a total nutcase, but an aware one, with a shrink and a whole host of complexes, half of which he probably invents to keep himself occupied. It crackles with potential.
Also, in case you’re wondering what song/rhyme Joo-won keeps rattling off, it’s a string of nonsense wordplay, an old saying that’s been used in various songs and such. They are rather senseless, but the gist of them is a bunch of different ways to describe living a long life, or symbols of long life, mixed with alliteration and funny sounds. The words are as follows:
김 수한무 거북이와 두루미 삼천갑자동방삭 치치카포 사리사리 센타 워리워리 세브리캉
무두셀라 구름이 허리케인 담벼락 서생원 고양이 바둑이는 돌돌이
The rhyme itself isn’t important so much as the recurring motif it provides for his character, who’s a fantastic neurotic, complete with silly songs to keep him tethered to the normal world. He’s also clearly a lonely individual, highlighted visually by his stunningly expansive home, which echoes of emptiness. I love that he has a set of coping mechanisms to keep his neuroses in check, and I can’t wait to see the other skeletons in his closet of crazy.
I adore Ra-im, not only because she’s a badass (but man, I DO love her badass action scenes), but because she’s got a great set of her own vulnerabilities and issues. The gender role reversals are a nice layer before the body swap occurs, because it compounds the conflicts, and the hijinks. I also love a couple who’s wit-fully matched, because there’s nothing better in a hate-into-love scenario than some hot verbal sparring.
At first I wondered when on earth they were going to get to the body swapping part. But now I’m fully invested in the get-the-girl part of the story, so I don’t mind the delay, and am rather interested to see how well they might get to know (and hate) each other BEFORE the swap, making it all the more rife with hilarity. Let the games begin.
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- A deluge of new stills from Secret Garden
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- Hyun Bin’s first stills from Secret Garden
- Secret Garden’s badass Ha Ji-won