There’s a surreal, almost manhwa-like sheen of farcical humor coating the surface of this show, but then there are moments of real connection and emotion. Jung Il-woo has been dramatically intense before (Return of Iljimae) as well as hilariously oddball (49 Days), but this drama gets him to use both extremes of his range. The humorous side gives Chi-soo this outlandish, comical brat side, but then he’ll turn on a switch and show the vulnerability underneath. I love that.
SONG OF THE DAY
J Rabbit – “aMorejo” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7: “Flower Boy Ramyun Shop”
So Chi-soo offers to work the ramyun shop after all, goaded by the knowledge that Eun-bi will be there. I vastly enjoy that throughout the brief commercial break, Chi-soo is up in the corner, making adorable faces at us.
Eun-bi chases him out to ask incredulously why he’s taking on the job. He tells her he’s considering it a lesson in work experience and flashes his crayon contract at her to tell her that she has no say in this.
He drives off leaving Eun-bi confused and frustrated, howling at the moon (which bears Chi-soo’s winking face), “Why are you doing this to me? WHYYYY?!”
The newly assembled team gets to work renovating the shop with some hired help, but it turns out that the hired ajusshis are annoyed because all of the shop’s helpers are useless. For instance, Ba-wool and his friends hammer the wrong things, Hyun-woo is so nervous he’ll paint the wall badly that he wields the brush like an artist making a very slow masterpiece, and Kang-hyuk — what else? — sleeps. I love that he uses a paint roller as a pillow.
Then there’s Chi-soo, who strolls in late, wearing his idea of work gear — which might work in a Vogue spread interpretation of hard labor, perhaps. He looks about as realistic a construction worker as a stripper. He’s dressed in a black trench coat (see? totally stripper), wearing a hard hat set at a jaunty angle, and brings in his own folding chair so he can sit in the middle of the shop like a director managing his crew.
When they’re done, the battered old sign reading “Eun-bi’s Snack Shop” is taken down, and replaced by a shiny new one. The team looks up at their new sign with satisfaction — minus Eun-bi, who mutters, “Flower boys, my ass.” The new sign reads: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop.
As they shop for groceries, Eun-bi pesters Kang-hyuk to un-hire Chi-soo, insisting that he’s totally unsuited for the job. She’s outlined the reason a dozen times, but Kang-hyuk asks what her real reason is for not wanting to work with Chi-soo. Startled at the point-blank question, she gapes a moment, then declares, “I just dislike him!”
Ba-wool storms up, complaining about having to share a room with Hyun-woo, that weirdo, and insists on having his own. Kang-hyuk smiles at Eun-bi: “Then I’ll have to move into Wifey’s room.” Quick as a flash, she turns on Ba-wool: “Just share!” Haha.
Ba-wool can’t stand the awkwardness of sharing with Hyun-woo, so he starts to whine and pout, tugging on Kang-hyuk’s arm pleadingly. Eun-bi won’t be outdone and joins the whining, until they’re both like little kids clinging to Dad’s arm.
That night, Ba-wool walks in while Hyun-woo’s in the middle of his skincare regimen, finding it weird and uncomfortable. Here’s a mismatched alpha-beta pairing if ever there was one.
Chi-soo tells Dad about his new job, describing it as work experience needed to take over the company. “I can’t do stuff like MBAs.” (Or, you know, real work.)
Dad supposes this has something to do with that intern teacher, and asks why he’s still fixated when his suffocated chest problem has been resolved. Chi-soo declares that he’s got a new problem now with his eyes (hence the Eun-bi hallucinations), but doesn’t want to answer why: “Stop asking! You know how I hate questions!” Ha, if only I could get out of sticky situations with that excuse.
Dad wonders if Chi-soo’s eye problems result from him losing face (or more literally, “selling” his face). Secretary Man reports one more curious fact: The store Chi-soo will be working at happens to be the very same ramyun shop that Cha Sung had attempted to buy out (since it’s located right in front of the corporation’s building). Dad declares that they’ll buy out that shop, and also buy back Chi-soo’s lost face. Ha, I love that he takes that expression literally, like you could just buy back your pride with money. Maybe it’s thinking like that that makes it so easy to lose it in the first place.
Chi-soo plays a baseball game on his tablet, but up pops Eun-bi’s face, superimposed over the pitcher’s. Not even surprised, he muses, “You again?” He tosses the tablet away and shoves his rolling chair away from his desk…and then scoots himself back awkwardly to pick the computer back up. With a rueful smile, he figures, “Fine, let’s take this as far as it goes.” Aw. He’s finally admitted to himself he likes her.
The next day he shows up to the shop, acting like the owner again rather than mere employee, and cuts the “ribbon” to mark their opening.
Dong-joo and Coach make their way over to the grand opening, and she sighs about Eun-bi’s poor luck with men, having heard about the new owner’s propensity to sleep on impulse, figuring he’s a lazy slob. Ha, yeah let’s see if your “pity” lasts when you get to the shop.
Dong-joo gets a phone call from her well-to-do fiancé, and makes a point to practice getting her tone just right — feminine, gentle — to act the part of the perfect sweet girlfriend. Coach deliberately zips up his jacket and leans in to say, “I’m all dressed now,” leaving it to the fiancé to misinterpret that as he will. Heh. There’s something in the Coach’s demeanor that suggests he may be pining for Dong-joo — the real Dong-joo, all loud and argumentative and unvarnished. We shall see.
When they get to the shop, they stand there mouths agape at the bustle. Women are literally lining up outside, sending moony looks at each of the employees — especially Chi-soo, who mans the side dish station, handing out little dishes of pickled radish and tossing out “You’re so pretty” compliments to each guest.
After the shop closes that night, Eun-bi, Dong-joo and Coach wonder at Chi-soo’s decision to work there. Could he be out for revenge?
Coach imagines a scenario — acted out by stand-ins for Chi-soo and Eun-bi — where Chi-soo insists that Eun-bi return to her old job, demanding, “How much money will it take?” He grabs her face and leans in… at which point Dong-joo interrupts, “How corny!” She calls it a lame scenario straight out of an old-fashioned drama. (Hilariously, Fantasy Chi-soo and Fantasy Eun-bi stop their scene at her outburst, and the camera pulls back to reveal a shooting set — like it is, indeed, a scene out of a cheesy drama.)
Dong-joo’s got a better hypothesis: Her Fantasy Chi-soo comes decked out in a sparkly tracksuit, all Hyun Bin style, alternately harassing and complimenting Fantasy Eun-bi on her strong arms.
The next morning, Eun-bi comes face to face with Chi-soo in the store, who blocks her path and smiles down at her. Suspicious, she asks what he’s up to and he replies pleasantly, “I’m just taking a look, to see what you really look like.”
She accuses him of having evil intent on his mind, as though he’s just working up new insults. For a brief second he looks surprised and asks, “Is that really what you think?”
Her lack of faith in him gets him pissy — not that we can blame her for doubting him — and he says if he was going to torment her, he’d do more than that. Like making her call him oppa again.
Business is hopping today, too, and Eun-bi grimaces at the clamor, stuffing some dough into her ears as earplugs. Ew. I’m not saying that’s how certain infections are caused, but I’d be wary of sticking anything yeasty into a bodily orifice, is all I’m sayin’.
Chi-soo’s at his radish station, already less charming than he was yesterday, sick of this work. He takes a break, affecting the pose of a tragic and long-suffering poetic hero. He sighs dramatically, “From a far-away place, somebody calls for me.” Just as a whiny girl yells, “Oppa, gimme more radish!”
Haha, I love how theatrical Chi-soo is about his life that is, funny enough, a lot more mundane than he thinks it. But who could blame him for growing up that way when Daddy Cha is the coddling kind, and even now sits gravely hearing the reports of “The Radish Incident”? The secretary says that rivals were ready to take that bit of gossip to the media circus, but they “just barely managed to block it.”
And what exactly do the stories say? “The true face of Cha Sung’s crown prince revealed! Not Hwanung after all, but Dangun!”
Hee. Hwanung is the mythical son of god in Korea’s origin myth, while Dangun was the actual historical founder. Although he was said to be Hwanung’s son, Dangun is a real person, and therefore a mere mortal.
But wait! The pun, she gets even better! Dangun in this case actually refers to “danmuji-gun,” which means Mr. Radish. HAHAHAHA.
The word spreads and soon Chi-soo’s posse is teasing him and call him Dangun-nim. The nickname makes him tetchy, so Hyun-woo advises him to just tell Eun-bi the truth: “Say that you went to the shop because you wanted to see her.”
Chi-soo protests that, balking at the inaccuracy: “It’s not that I wanted to see her, it’s that I couldn’t stand NOT to see her!” He says this indignantly, not registering that what he said isn’t, yunno, any better than Hyun-woo’s version. And then he looks up at one of those billboard screens, where he envisions Eun-bi with her volleyball again, and clarifies, “It’s because I hurt.”
Hyun-woo tells him that’s the same thing. Chi-soo retorts that it’s nothing like that — that this is the result of a huge shock, like after a disaster. He reminds Hyun-woo that women with curly hair, glasses, tracksuits, and body odor (the kind he lacks — not, I hope, actual foulness) aren’t women to him. But then his Eun-bi-vision reasserts itself and he gazes off at his hallucination, and his surliness changes into a moony-eyed smile.
Chi-soo concludes, “If I want to get over the shock, I have to see her constantly. This is treatment.” Oh, okay. Is that like doing more drugs to get over your addiction to drugs? Good luck with that.
But suddenly the mood changes when Hyun-woo catches sight of something and hurriedly excuses himself. Chi-soo sees a trio of rough-looking ajusshis — loan sharks, perhaps — and recalls Hyun-woo telling him about his father’s financial problems.
Chi-soo arrives at the store and calls out his bodyguards, who have been sent to monitor him. He adds another order to their list of duties, saying that they’re to also monitor the store, and that if any black-suited gangster-like guys come by to harass people, they’re to “beat ‘em half to death.” Aw, that’s sweet, in a wacky sort of way.
But no! Next thing we know, a quartet of boys — Ba-wool’s buddies — arrive in the neighborhood, dressed up in suits and bearing housewarming gifts.
They spot So-yi also on her way to the shop and greet her enthusiastically as “hyungsoo-nim” (wife of my hyung, in this case Ba-wool) — which is why it’s all the more maddening when she chirps that she’s here to see Chi-soo. Urg. Somebody spit in her ramyun, please? Then she trips over her heels and the boys rush to help her, and I’m thinking this cannot end well.
At the shop, Kang-hyuk whips up some ramyun for Ba-wool, but Chi-soo declines the offer. He’s infatuated with his radish pile and says that this is all he craves — and then pictures Eun-bi’s face in a slice. Ha! He muses, “It’s time to take my medicine.” Riiight. Since love is a disease you catch and cure.
In the kitchen, Eun-bi works on kneading ramyun dough, and her hair slips loose of its tie and gets in her face. Two hands reach over and pull her hair back for her, and when she turns, it’s Kang-hyuk with a hair ribbon at the ready, smiling, “My wife is sexiest when she’s showing off her strength.” Ack, so adorable.
She lets him tie her hair, then asks, “Did you come here for something?” Kang-hyuk: “Yes, you.” Eeee! I love it. He lets that hang in the air for a moment, then holds out the bowl he brought, asking her to taste his soup. You cheeky hot bastard. And then he wipes the flour mark from her cheek, leaving her to smile in giddiness over his praise.
Her hair comes loose again, though, and this time it’s a different set of hands that reaches over to tie it back. Chi-soo takes her face in his hands and smiles, “Your face is so childish and obvious. So, why does it…keep…shining?”
The charged air is broken when Ba-wool barrels in and pushes Chi-soo aside, assuming that he’s grabbed her hair meaning to threaten her. Is this part of his revenge plot?
Kang-hyuk breaks up the boys, but he levels a serious look at Chi-soo and asks if that’s true, if revenge was the real reason he joined them. Chi-soo looks exasperated at the misconception and also a little hurt, which is sad for him but also not entirely undeserved.
Hyun-woo feels bad for his friend and starts to speak up, but Chi-soo hushes him, then turns to Eun-bi: “What do you think?”
She doesn’t know how to reply, but before she can, cries come from outside, shouting for Ba-wool. It’s his black-suited friends, being aggressively held by the bodyguards. OH NO. I thought this misunderstanding would be played for comedy, not to twist my heart up in knots! Nooooo.
Ba-wool angrily demands to know who the bodyguards are working for, and when Chi-soo steps to the front, they bow in deference to him. He sends them off with a chagrined look, knowing how this will be interpreted.
Chi-soo faces the others and says, “It seems there’s been a misunderstanding.” But Ba-wool is furious and assumes that this is Chi-soo being dirty and underhanded in his attempt to steal So-yi, even after he’d put on such a cool facade about making it a fair competition.
Explaining the reason for the bodyguards would be a convoluted process, so Chi-soo takes out his gold card and hands it to Hyun-woo, urging him to repay his father’s debt. It’s not smoothly done and he knows it, but he’s frustrated with being thought the bad guy in all this, even as Hyun-woo gets angry at him and refuses.
Chi-soo bursts out, “Why do you all get angry whenever I try to do anything? What am I supposed to do?!”
Eun-bi steps forward and takes the card, reserved for VVVIPs of Cha Sung. She holds it up and says, “The reason we get angry? Do you know what it takes to make one of these cards?” She lists off the minimum salary and employment qualifications required to get one of them:
Eun-bi: “This card isn’t relevant to anybody here. We’ve got a runaway, a guy chased by debt collectors, a fired twentysomething intern without a job. To us, this is our only workplace. The only place we can receive some acknowledgement and make some money. If you wanna throw this around, go to your playground. Children who hang around places where adults work are a public nuisance.”
Oh, this is so sad. She’s not wrong, which may be why it’s even sadder to be Chi-soo right now, who looks around, feeling wounded. All he sees is a wall of stern faces glaring at him.
Taking the card back, he says, “I see. Now I know what I have to do. I’ll leave.”
But! Just as he heads to the door, a man steps inside: Jae-ho, the cheating ex. The two men stare each other down, recognizing each other from the water-balloon-throwing incident in Episode 1, and Jae-ho asks if Boyfriend Chi-soo is working here with Eun-bi.
Chi-soo tells him flatly that it’s over — both his job and his relationship. He starts to clarify the scene with the water balloons, but before he can out the lie, Eun-bi swoops in with a fake smile and hurriedly coos, “Jagiiiiii! Yes, you’re right, I work here with my honey,” all sweetness and light.
Ba-wool gapes, Hyun-woo checks his hearing, and Kang-hyun looks confused.
Eun-bi shoots Chi-soo a pleading look, but he shakes her off and brushes himself off, like he’s about to toss her to the curb… and then sweeps her to his chest and declares through clenched teeth, “Of course! If I don’t see her every day, my eyes hurt. My eebbeunie [pretty].”
Eun-bi smiles with relief, until he adds, “In fact…we live together.” Ha, now this IS revenge, and he shoots her a challenging look. Like she’d risk correcting him now.
Later, Ba-wool demands to know how the hell Chi-soo came to be calling himself boyfriend. Chi-soo starts to explain, and the others — Kang-hyuk, Ba-wool, Hyun-woo — perk up, curious at his answer. Only to deflate when Eun-bi walks in and Chi-soo says pointedly, “You’ll have to ask Yang Eebbeunie to explain.”
Eun-bi has called him here for a request, and he acts bored while she struggles to muster the nerve. He turns to go, and she blurts, “I need you!”
And this is the resulting smile:
Eun-bi asks Chi-soo to keep acting as her boyfriend (specifically, as her jagi), just when Jae-ho’s around. Chi-soo wipes the satisfaction from his face and faces her with feigned ignorance, asking, “And what will you be acting as?” She says, uncomfortably, “Eebbeunie!”
To her relief, Chi-soo agrees to act in the Jagi and Eebbeunie show. But it won’t come free: “Whenever I want to see you, I’ll get to.”
How cute — mixed with some moments when I actually felt sorry for Chi-soo, despite wanting this kind of humbling for him since Episode 1. And even though I felt for his hurt when Eun-bi rips into him about his fancy-shmancy VVVIP card, it’s what he needed to hear. He IS a child playing adult, and he IS in the way. If he doesn’t fix that, he’s going to do more damage than good.
That said, I’m relieved that they didn’t play out the misunderstanding for too long. Well, the misunderstanding still stands about Chi-soo’s motives for working at the shop, but the dynamic has swung back around now that Eun-bi needs his help. There’s no quicker way to defuse that tension than to tilt the balance of power in the opposite direction.
I’m curious to know if Jae-ho has any correlation to the ramyun shop that’ll keep him hanging around, because why else would they need to keep acting as a couple? Perhaps he’s connected to Cha Sung’s buyout attempt and will be making regular appearances. And while normally the fake-boyfriend thing feels like an overused cliche, this drama has been surprisingly swift in moving along its plot points, so I doubt it’ll be in effect long enough to become dead weight.
One thing I’m really enjoying is the Cha men’s literal interpretations of emotions, which is hilarious on a wordplay level, but also funny in a broader, general level. For instance, Daddy Cha’s interpretation of Chi-soo’s condition (he’s been humiliated, or lost face) is to take the words literally, meaning that he’s sold his face. And how to correct that? By buying it right back, of course. (It’s akin to thinking, “I’m so fed up!” “Just eat less then.”)
Then there’s the way Chi-soo interprets his emotions in terms of physical symptoms. If you consider the physical effects of certain feelings, he’s probably not too far off the mark — when you’re depressed, your chest might feel literally heavy, like there’s pressure being applied to your organs. But most of us — by which I mean, normal people — understand what they mean, not just what they are. Yet Chi-soo the emotional alien is completely lost, like there’s a broken connection between mind and body. It’s amusing, but also fascinating to watch him struggling to make connections that are completely obvious to Hyun-woo, for instance. The adage has never been more true, literally speaking, about building character “turning him into a person.”
- Jung Il-woo sings a track for Ramyun Shop OST
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 6
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 5
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 4
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 3
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop scores high ratings
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 2
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 1
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop’s press conference
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop posters
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop releases teasers
- Jung Il-woo on the set of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop