High Kick 3 is continuing along nicely. I don’t watch it expecting to laugh out loud, although it’s been managing a nicely light, humorous tone. But where it really shines is in the poignant character beats, the stuff that happens between plot points when a connection is made, a friendship struck.
Best of all, there isn’t a character I don’t like, which is not something I could say of the previous two series. I’m usually watching these kind of shows only for my favorite storylines, and tuning out when there’s one I don’t really care about — but when everyone’s engaging and fun, it makes this such a fuller viewing experience.
(Note: Friday’s episode was pre-empted for soccer, so only four episodes broadcast this week.)
SONG OF THE DAY
No Reply – “낡은 배낭을 메고” (Carrying a worn knapsack) [ Download ]
EPISODE 10 WEECAP
The two connected households settle into their routine: The Ahns make themselves at home with the Yoons, and the tunnel remains open between the two houses. Ji-won passes by Kye-sang again in the tunnel, and since it’s no great hardship to keep running into the cute doctor every day, she tells Nae-sang that he can take his time fixing her bathroom.
Seung-yoon — that eccentric boy from Kyung-ju — calls to take the Ahn family up on their “Sure, drop by when you’re in Seoul” offer. Yoo-sun considers him a loose cannon and votes no, but Nae-sang is thinking greedily that Seung-yoon’s father operates the biggest Oriental medicine clinic in Kyung-ju…and people with money could become helpful business partners…
Each family member’s stance is depicted with a little meter indicating their position: Yoo-sun is 100 percent against Seung-yoon visiting, Nae-sang is 50 for it, and the kids are both at zero, not caring one way or another.
Ha-sun is taken advantage of yet again by her sourpuss colleague, Ji-sun, who foists another duty on her. She tries to protest but is overruled, and takes out her frustration on a misbehaving student, whom she punishes. That sends his huffy mother to the school yelling at her, and Ha-sun finds herself apologizing when she didn’t do anything wrong.
Hot-headed Ji-seok finds her meekness frustrating and tells her that she ought to toughen up. Insisting she needs to unwind, he drags her off to a baseball game, urging her to have a beer, shout, and relieve her stress. Ha-sun starts getting into the spirit of the game, and ends up drunk enough to speak her mind — like how Ji-seok was a pain in the ass for dragging her here — and throws her empty beer can at the field after a bad play. Oops — that’s going overboard, and Ji-seok ushers her out when they get the evil eye from spectators.
With Seung-yoon visiting, the family members’ point meters go up and down depending on how much they like him. But Nae-sang’s crumbles entirely when he hears that Seung-yoon’s family clinic isn’t actually the biggest hospital in Kyung-ju — it’s named The Biggest Oriental Hospital In Kyung-ju. Ha!
Cheerful Seung-yoon won’t take the hint to go home and wears out his welcome, following an annoyed Jong-seok around. But he saves Jong-seok from getting hit by a car and ends up hit himself, which pings Jong-seok’s sense of guilt. Jong-seok watches Seung-yoon lying in a hospital bed, which sends his care-o-meter shooting up to 99.
Then the next day Seung-yoon shows up at school, having carefully made his way from the hospital to return Jong-seok’s wallet, and that seals the deal: 100 percent. They’re best friends now, like it or not — the kind who hang out together after school and use each other’s belly-buttons as little salt dishes. (So weird, but so adorable.)
EPISODE 11 WEECAP
Julien is content with his living arrangement, but Ha-sun’s feeling a little uncomfortable having a man living with three single ladies. She’s the only one, since Jin-hee’s super-busy with her part-time broadcast station job, and unflappable Ji-won is perfectly content. To avoid scandal, though, Ha-sun and Julien leave for work separately in case someone sees them arriving at school together.
Julien finds a bra lying around and asks who the owner is, which embarrasses Ha-sun so much she practically pulls a muscle leaping for it. Embarrassed, she hears his voice echoing in her head all day, and is so preoccupied she accidentally writes his words on the chalkboard: “Is this bra yours, Teacher Park?” Yeah, she’s going to be teased about that for a while.
Ji-seok finds her stewing in her mortification and takes her side, offering to beat Julien up if he goes around gossiping about her and her bra. He’s so suspicious that he jumps to conclusions when Julien says the word “Brazil” and almost gets into a fistfight at school.
Nae-sang, meanwhile, is bored out of his mind in the house all day. He tries to occupy himself with games and meditation, but he’s got a bad case of cabin fever and jumps all over the family when they come home at the end of the day. He prepares a joke for his tired wife, presenting her with a hard-boiled egg, wanting her to crack it on her head. She won’t play along so he does it for her, splattering her with raw egg, and Yoo-sun blows up at him.
Kye-sang steps in and offers some advice, giving Nae-sang tips on how to be less bored. Playing kickball alone is dull — but it’s a lot more interesting when you pretend you’re playing with others. So Nae-sang draws up a tournament board and narrates like a commentator as he competes with himself (pretending to be the members of his family in turn).
When Ha-sun buys a new polka-dotted skirt, Julien compliments it and adds that he has a pair of boxers just like it. Uncomfortable, Ha-sun asks him to be more circumspect and to not talk about underwear so plainly, and Julien assures her that he’ll comply.
She’s in the shower when a deliveryman rings the doorbell, so Ha-sun hurriedly dresses to sign for the package…and belatedly realizes that she’s put on Julien’s boxers, not her skirt. In her scramble toward the house, she trips and falls in the yard, hitting her head, and lies there unconscious for hours.
Finally, a neighborhood ajumma sees her lying there injured and calls the ambulance, and Ha-sun has to undergo the humiliation of being taken in boxers. Compounding the humiliation, her five-hour sprawl has been photographed by satellite camera and put online (think Google Maps).
Nae-sang’s boredom tournament is successful at keeping him occupied, so Kye-sang adds another tip to make it even more interesting: Make it multinational and pretend he’s in the Olympics. The idea captures Nae-sang’s fancy and he spends all night preparing for it, and even has trouble sleeping because he’s so excited. And when tomorrow comes, he wins his gold medal for Korea in his version of the living room long jump.
EPISODE 12 WEECAP
Ji-seok finishes converting the attic into Soo-jung’s new room…which immediately sparks Jong-seok’s jealousy. Can’t let little sis get away with her own room when he’s still sharing with his uncle. He convinces his parents to his side — he’s older, he’s in his last year of high school and needs to study for university exams — but Soo-jung doesn’t care. She was given the room and she’s not giving it up without a fight. She wins the first round by pulling up the ladder and insisting she’s going to stay put until they all agree it’s hers.
Kye-sang treats one of his poor grandma patients, and reads a letter to her. Sadly, it bears bad news: Her welfare support is being cut off. On his way back from his house calls, he runs into a protest group on the street, of which Ji-won is a member. They’re petitioning for the continued service on old-school cell phones, which the providers are phasing out.
Kye-sang is surprised, thinking that most kids would be fans of the latest, shiniest gadget. Ji-won clutches her old clamshell phone and explains that she likes things that are old and familiar, that have memories — understandable, given that she’s lost her parents and is probably wary of big changes in her life. Kye-sang cheerfully joins the protest with her despite the fact that he’s got a fancy new smartphone, saying that he’s representing his patients, many of whom are still using the old phones.
Ji-won falls asleep while he steps aside to grab coffee for them — her narcolepsy has been mentioned a couple times — and rather than wake her, Kye-sang reads for a while, waiting.
The battle rages on at Ahn/Yoon Central, with Soo-jung preparing to defend her turf like she’s smack dab in the middle of a medieval siege. She pelts her attackers with toy balls, winning this round as well, and sending the boys back to regroup and strategize.
That night, Kye-sang drops by Ha-sun/Ji-won’s house to take out Jin-hee’s stitches, and mentions running into Ji-won earlier that day. Ha-sun explains that she’s attached to her phone because she’d had it before her father died, and it has all her old texts and photos with him. If she changed phones, she’d lose it all, and Kye-sang absorbs this sympathetically.
Ji-won comes home and happens to see a text arrive on Kye-sang’s phone, and the next day she surprises him by joining him in his one-man protest during her lunch hour. She doesn’t even know what his cause is, but she tells him that whatever he’s fighting, she believes he’s in the right. Adorably, she has brought along a sign with a big arrow that says, “This ajusshi is right!”
Kye-sang is touched that she’s here to protest with him, and they spend the hour standing there side by side, him with his sign protesting the welfare cutbacks that deprives several thousand recipients of basic living expenses.
Soo-jung skips school to defend her room, and thus far the boys are unsuccessful, even though it’s one against five: brother Jong-seok, dad Nae-sang, uncle Ji-seok, acquaintance Seung-yoon, and neighbor Julien. The scene takes on a sageuk overtone as the boys march in like generals in wartime, while Soo-jung fights back from the high ground.
Finally, Jong-seok is forced to concede — if she wants it so badly, the room is hers. For now, at least: He vows that one day, the room will be his.
EPISODE 13 WEECAP
Ji-seok, ever the overgrown manchild, teases Ha-sun about her timid personality and pokes fun at her at school. The teachers are assigned to put on a play for visiting guests from Canada, and Ji-seok’s playfulness continues into rehearsals, where he keeps goofing off. He admits that he finds acting embarrassing, which is why he can’t be serious about it.
Ha-sun, on the other hand, is nervous and wants to do a good job. She’s been assigned the title role, to Teacher Ji-sun’s ire, since she’d picked the play specifically wanting to play Myung-sung herself. (In a dick move, a board member pulls rank, swapping Ji-sun out for Ha-sun because she’s prettier.)
Yoo-sun runs out of cooking oil and heads next door via tunnel to borrow some, only to find that the shower is occupied. Julien doesn’t see her so she starts to duck away quietly, but when Nae-sang drops by some minutes later, she’s sitting there, looking on to her heart’s content.
Nae-sang flips his lid and basically accuses his wife of being a perv, derisive at her explanation that this is because of her menopause. Kye-sang patiently steps in to explain that it’s understandable that Yoo-sun’s hormones are all out of whack, but Nae-sang’s in full belligerence mode and orders a family meeting tonight. He wants everyone to weigh in on whether he’s being out of line for not agreeing with the menopause argument.
He argues his position (Mom is using menopause as an excuse) while Kye-sang diplomatically offers a defense (the wild hormone imbalances can cause menopausal women to act out of character, without thinking). To Nae-sang’s surprise, everyone votes against him, and the shock leaves him sputtering incredulously.
Ji-seok continues to treat the play like a silly game, right up until the performance begins: The sight of Ha-sun in her costume, regal and dignified, has him captivated and speechless. He’s not the only one; Jin-hee’s gosiwon buddy, Young-wook, has dropped by to pick up something from her and also looks on in interest.
Then comes time for Ji-seok to “kill” Ha-sun — he’s a Japanese assassin sent to kill the Joseon empress — and he almost can’t do it, freezing for a long moment while his principal hisses at him to stab Ha-sun. With effort, he makes the faux slash, and Empress Ha-sun falls in tears, vowing that killing her will not defeat her country.
Ji-seok can’t understand his own reaction, but for the next several days, he’s upset, confused, and depressed. Every time Ha-sun greets him or comes across his path, he turns and walks away, so finally she finds him drinking beer at a pojangmacha and asks what the matter is. Did she do something wrong?
Like a bewildered little boy, Ji-seok finally admits, “I’m sorry for killing you.” She can’t believe he means the play, since clearly she’s alive and well, but Ji-seok tells her that even though he knows it was just make-believe, he can’t shake this feeling: “I know that, but I keep thinking of it…And when I look at you, I just feel sorry, and I think of stabbing you, and how you cried.”
Ha-sun assures him she’s fine, and tells him to shake it off — but sigh, he’s gone, hook line and sinker, isn’t he?
Meanwhile, Nae-sang goes around griping about everything; he’s so gobsmacked that everyone sided against him that he sarcastically blames everything on menopause: Jong-seok’s school fights, celebrity DUIs, the shaky state of the world’s finances…
A format is emerging, where each episode basically takes two storylines and alternates the threads. It’s similar to the conventional American sitcom format with its A/B/C storylines, although with Korea’s looser narrative style, we’ve only got room for A and B. I don’t think this show has mastered the storytelling style just yet from a technical standpoint — the transitions are abrupt and not always well-placed — but the concept works for a show like this, with so many characters. Trying to get everyone a part in every episode would just feel disjointed, but this way you can take turns featuring a certain set of characters.
High Kick likes playing with age gaps and unconventional relationships, even (especially?) the ones that can’t really happen, from a culturally proper perspective. The Jung Il-woo / Seo Min-jung relationship was a huge runaway hit in the original series, and now it looks like the Kye-sang / Ji-won one will be another of its kind. I’m liking both characters and their connection so much that I don’t even care if it goes further with the romantic undertones — I just like when they’re together, interacting and caring.
On one hand, when a drama plays with a loveline that tugs at your heart, you want it to be realized. But on the other hand, there’s something sweetly poignant about exploring something that isn’t going to happen — at least, not in the usual sense of a romantic Happily Ever After — but that is still meaningful and heartwarming all the same. Even though you wanted Jung Il-woo and Seo Min-jung to have lots of cute moments together, you couldn’t quite put aside your own thoughts that it’s inappropriate to wish for a 17-year-old boy to win over the 27-year-old woman. There’s too much reality interfering with that to allow that to work out, even fictionally, even as you squealed in joy whenever they had a connection.
High Kick also likes to play with unexpected relationships, so it’s very likely (almost expected) that a relationship at the beginning won’t be the one at the end. That’s the benefit of a longer series, one that allows dynamics to play out, develop, and change. This is an example of using the format to its best advantage — a show has an inherently different rhythm from a shorter show, with a different rise and fall to the conflict. It’s a refreshing change.
- High Kick 3: Episodes 5-9
- High Kick 3: Episodes 1-4
- High Kick 3’s family tree, relationship chart, and lovelines
- Official posters for High Kick: Counterattack of the Short Legs
- Promo photos and poster shoots for High Kick 3
- First look at upcoming sitcom High Kick 3
- High Kick 3 cast revealed
- Producers talk about High Kick’s controversial ending
- High Kick 2 fills out its new cast
- Unstoppable High Kick