I know I say this every time, but Best. Episode. Ever. Why so awesome, Show? Is it ’cause you’re made with love and garnished with hotties? Or because you’re filled with nutritious hearty goodness? Whatever it is, it rocks my world, and I’d like to order another helping, please.
EPISODE 8: “A Universal Song”
Eun-bi and Jae-ho sit down for a cup of coffee, and he asks why she didn’t call when her father passed away. She reminds him that they’re over, and he says that they’re over romantically, but not over as people. If you weren’t such a cheating bastard, that sentiment would be nice.
To her horror, she sees the nametag hanging on his neck. It indicates that he is now an employee at Cha Sung, which is two times the proximity – right across the street, and of course its connection to Chi-soo. He says he’s just an intern, but she’s clearly a little jealous at how well he’s doing, even at intern status.
He asks if she’s really living with her boyfriend, and she evades an answer by saying it’s not really his business anymore.
The four live-in members of the ramyun shop sit around the tv that night, like a cozy little family. Kang-hyuk directs what they’ll watch like the dad (also choosing who they’ll vote for since they’re watching one of those Korea Wants to Be a K-Pop Star Miracle Audition shows), and Hyun-woo… cuts the fruit? OH MY GOD. Is a boy cutting the fruit in this house? I knew I loved this drama. I officially want to be Eun-bi when I grow up.
Ba-wool is still reeling from the news that Eun-bi and Chi-soo have something fishy going on, and he demands to know why, WHY, of all people, it has to be Cha Chi-soo, and most of all, why she took him back at the shop. “Or did something… actually happen between you two?”
Eun-bi stares at him, horrified, and Kang-hyuk pretends not to be paying attention, but waits for her response. She stammers, “That… that…” And then on the tv: “…we’ll find out in sixty seconds.” The boys all groan in frustration. Ha.
Ba-wool asks if it’s because of that ex-boyfriend of hers, and wanting to look good in front of him, and she smacks him upside the head, insisting that that would be ridiculous for someone her age. Yes, sooooo immature. You would never.
She tells Dong-joo about the events of the day and gets a good talking-to, with the very important question: why do you still care what this guy thinks? Are you still in love with him? Eun-bi swears up and down that she’s not, and Dong-joo just tells her not to do anything else that’s pathetic, like secretly reading his blog…
…Which is course exactly what she does next. The title on his homepage: “I’m still…” She wonders what it could mean, not noticing that Kang-hyuk has snuck up behind her. She jumps up to hide the monitor, asking why he doesn’t knock when entering other people’s rooms.
Kang-hyuk: “If it’s someone else’s room, what’s the fun of knocking? Isn’t that what you’re doing – stealing a peek?” Touché. He sighs, “My wife’s ex-boyfriend… to what point should I be forgiving?”
She turns back to the blog, and recognizes the song that’s playing. It’s Broccoli You Too’s A Universal Song. It flashes her back to the old days, when the song was playing in a café, and she had asked Jae-ho what she meant to him. He answered, “You’re ramyun. You’re always around when I want to see you, and you’re universal. Just like this song.”
It’s certainly not the most romantic declaration ever, but young Eun-bi was convinced when he took her hands and added that it means that he always sees her. I love that this can be interpreted two ways: either she’s always around, always available, and in front of his eyes, or that she’s swimming around in this thoughts and appearing even when he tries not to think of her (which is the ailment Chi-soo suffers from). My guess is that Jae-ho is the former, but she took it to mean the latter.
The next morning Chi-soo wakes up in good spirits, and Dad asks if he’s going to work at the ramyun shop again today (because work is optional for these people, natch). Chi-soo grins and declares that the shop is helpless without him, so he needs to go.
Daddy grins from ear to ear after his conversation with Chi-soo, beaming to his secretary that Chi-soo called him “Dad” twice. “I’ve got that other guy beat now. You know… with the pointy face and big round glasses.” The secretary declares that he is indeed the winner in the Daddy vs. Pororo race for affection.
Chi-soo goes shopping for a new bag with So-yi in tow, and she laughs at how hard he’s working to keep up the Dating Intern Façade. He asks if she’s concerned, secretly wanting her to get a little jealous, not because he cares about So-yi, but because it would mean Eun-bi was good enough to be considered competition. Yeah, it’s warped, but it’s Chi-soo.
She scoffs at the absurdity, and he asks if Intern is really that bad, in a girl’s eyes. So-yi says that she’s not bad, it’s just she’s the type you get sick of. The wording brings Chi-soo back to Eun-bi’s outburst at him the first night at the ramyun shop, when she said those exact words to him: “I’m sick of you.”
Eun-bi gets a call from “Dog Chi-soo” and reluctantly answers, remembering the terms of their contract. He whines that she took too long to answer, and then stops to gape when he sees a sexy pair of legs just up ahead of him.
He follows the legs all the way up… to reveal Eun-bi in her volleyball uniform, turning back to wink at him. Hahaha. He screams into his phone: “I have to see you RIGHT NOW!”
He shows up in front of the shop and waves at her to hurry up, and she groans at him in annoyance… and then suddenly dashes to his side, yelling, “Jagi-yaaaaaaaa~!” She whispers to him that they’re in Eebbeunie Mode, and they turn around to face Jae-ho, standing right behind him.
They sit down inside the ramyun shop, and Jae-ho stammers, “He’s younger? And in high school?” Crap. He asks if things were really tough for Eun-bi. She’s stuck now, because he’s clearly sitting there in his high school uniform, so she just goes with it. Jae-ho doesn’t understand, and Chi-soo counters that age doesn’t matter between a man and a woman, and wonders how he got hired at Cha Sung with such a narrow-minded point of view. Heh.
Jae-ho asks how it happened that she’s dating a high schooler, and how they met. Chi-soo tells him that they met in a women’s bathroom. She cringes. He swoons as he tells the tale of how Eun-bi wrapped toilet paper with her name on it around his neck and seduced him.
Jae-ho asks how long they’ve been dating. Chi-soo says they just celebrated their two-two (22nd day together) at the club, where Eun-bi wore her volleyball uniform and danced for him. Ha. I love how all these stories are just a slight twist of reality for Chi-soo.
Jae-ho stutters, “V-volleyball uniform? W-wave?” Chi-soo is enjoying this way too much. Eun-bi squirms, totally at his storytelling mercy. Chi-soo adds pointedly: “You didn’t know? Our noona likes that kind of stuff.” Omg, I’m dying. He licks his lips… “Hard. Core.” Hahahaha.
Eun-bi chases him into the house, asking why he’s turned her into a cougar, and he breezes that he was just telling the truth, and if she doesn’t like it she can end their contract. She has nothing to say to that, and asks why he’s coming into her home.
He reminds her of their terms – that he gets to see her anytime, anywhere, as much as he wants. I love that this idea of the Universal Eun-bi is so different to Jae-ho and Chi-soo. She was completely available for Jae-ho and that was convenient and enough. But for Chi-soo, she’s never around enough to satisfy him. It’s adorable… and hot.
Of course he doesn’t know it, since he gets a good look (he drinks it in, like his daily dose of Eun-bi) and declares that he really has to see her in person… in order to get his head on straight. The funny thing is, he means it like seeing her is the antidote to his feeling feelings (like seeing her face reminds him of how ridiculous it is to like her), but doesn’t fully grasp that it’s not working the way he wants it to.
Chi-soo walks away, self-satisfied, and Kang-hyuk makes his entrance… skip-hopping with his hands behind his back. He then proceeds to old-school dance at her while saying that he’s dying of jealousy because she danced with “Jung Chi-soo.” I… can’t even begin to describe how strange and hilarious this guy is.
Ba-wool sits in the dance studio watching So-yi practice, but hardly even noticing that she’s there. She asks what’s got him so distracted, and he stews over Chi-soo “playing around” with his noona. Gah, I love this kid.
He asks how she can be so fine about it, when Chi-soo is “dating” someone else. She knows it’s pretend and doesn’t care, and besides, the thing she likes about Chi-soo is that he goes where the wind takes him.
Ba-wool can’t believe her, and asks how she’d feel if he dated someone else then. She thinks about it and doesn’t think he’d do that, which infuriates him. He asks why it’s okay for Chi-soo and not for him. She thinks about it and says that if Chi-soo is her left arm, then Ba-wool is her right arm. Er, what now?
She nicknames them Right Ba-wool and Left Chi-soo. She puts her arms around his neck and he melts, and she goes back to practice with this little nugget: “I’m right-handed.” Ba-wool leaves in a foul mood, but finds solace in being the right hand rather than the left. Oh, chicken.
Dong-joo and the coach ask Eun-bi if she’s ever gone to a club wearing her volleyball uniform, and Eun-bi squirms. They confirm that the rumor has already spread all over school. I am mortified for her.
Dong-joo chastises her for sneaking a peek at her ex’s blog, and for having such a hard time getting over her first love. Eun-bi gets a text from Chi-soo and runs off, and Coach tells Dong-joo that first loves can be hard to forget, so she shouldn’t be too hard on her.
Dong-joo counters, waving her hand between the two of them, “Getting over first love is this easy!” *Gasp* Was the coach her first love when she was in high school? So cute! He’s too dense to know what she means though, and they move on to another round of drinks.
Chi-soo waits up on the roof for Eun-bi, all moony-eyed at the moon. It’s because he sees her in it, of course, this time as the rabbit in the moon, wearing bunny ears and churning rice cakes.
Eun-bi grumbles on her way up to the store, and finds Jae-ho waiting there for her instead. He grabs her in a hug, saying that he doesn’t want to see her get messed up any further, and that he knows she’s dating that high schooler because of him.
He asks her to start over with him, and she pushes him away, reminding him that he’s the one who said he was sick and tired of her always looking at one place, at him. He hangs his head, “I know. And I regret it. Every day.”
He hands her a gift bag, and she looks up at him. The camera pans up to show Chi-soo, hanging on their every word.
She heads inside and opens up the bag to find a scrapbook of her happier times with Jae-ho. Inside is an… engagement ring? Not sure, but it looks like it has a rock in it. She finds another jewelry box inside, this one with a tiny mp3 player. She listens, and it’s “A Universal Song.”
It flashes her back to the day he professed his feelings, on his way in to the army. He asked her come visit alone instead of with all their friends, and when she asked why, he kissed her.
She sits in her room, listening to the song, when suddenly someone appears behind her and yanks her headphones out. She whirls around to find Chi-soo, throwing another tantrum. He throws the mp3 player on the ground, calling it poop.
She rushes to pick it up. He demands to know why she didn’t answer his calls, and if she’s swayed because her ex hugged her once.
To his horror, she confirms it without hesitating – yes, she’s swayed. He shouts at her, asking how she could have feelings again after what she endured. “Are you really able to listen to this stupid song?”
Eun-bi: Because this isn’t a song. It’s not just a song. It’s when I was twenty… twenty-one… twenty-two… It’s six years together of him, and me. I thought I forgot too. But when I hear this song, that time, that air, comes back, so what can I do? Even as I’m walking down the street, it stops me, so what can I do? This song is already no longer a song, so what can I do about that?
She says this with tears brimming, and Chi-soo holds back his own angry tears, warning her not to dare cry. He throws the player back down on the ground, shouting, “If you’ve taken a dump, you have to FLUSH!” I know the words sound comical, but the moment is entirely serious. It’s an extension of their poop metaphor that’s actually rather poignant, yunno, minus the toilet connotations.
He storms out, and Kang-hyuk stirs, awake for once and having heard their argument. Eun-bi goes downstairs to the shop, and finds Kang-hyuk already there and cooking something up for her. Aw.
She immediately turns back when she sees him, but he calls out, “You’re still pretty when you’re bloated,” which is so cute because she’s Eun-bi Ramyun, and she’s actually bloated from crying.
He gives her a bottle of soju and a dish that he made because he heard her arguing with “Hwa Chi-soo” [Angry Chi-soo]. Heh. He turns on the radio and they both freeze when they hear the song. Eun-bi: “My dad…” Kang-hyuk: “That’s my mom’s song…” They look at each other.
Chi-soo drives home, angsting over Eun-bi’s words. He walks past Dad in the hot tub, and then stops when he hears that same song coming out of Dad’s radio. “That song…” Dad asks if he remembers it, “This song is your mom.”
Aw, that look of heartbreak on his face. I love that his is how he learns what Eun-bi means.
Back at the ramyun shop, Eun-bi downs a shot and complains that she was born in the wrong generation, totally unable to keep up with this “cool dating” Chi-soo’s always talking about. Kang-hyuk sighs that she sure does seem to care a lot about what Chi-soo says, and she balks that it’s because he keeps running around calling her Poop.
He sighs to confirm it – that her temper flares at everything Chi-soo. “It makes me jealous.” Aw. He takes a shot and then leans in close, “Wife, poop can be someone’s heart too. Like Wife’s pretty heart.”
In a nice contemplative moment, Chi-soo holds Eun-bi’s nametag, Eun-bi holds the broken mp3 player and sheds a tear, and Kang-hyuk runs his fingers over “Eun-bi Ramyun” etched into the table. The lights go off, and the Flower Boy Ramyun Shop closes for the night.
Chi-soo sits in the coffee shop the next day, and Hyun-woo asks why he didn’t go to school. Chi-soo says he feels off somehow, and uses the word for “dirty,” like when you can’t quite get clean enough.
Hyun-woo takes it literally and asks if he got something on his clothes, and Chi-soo says no, but he got something on something else, he thinks. I love all the ways that Chi-soo expresses his love without knowing it – this time like something stained his heart and he can’t quite clean it off. Could it be… poop?
He hears his mom’s song again on the radio and asks Hyun-woo what the name of it is. Hyun-woo gapes, since it’s the first time Chi-soo’s shown any interest in a song… with lyrics. Heh.
Eun-bi hears the song again too while she’s out buying groceries. It makes her wander into the record store to look for it, and finds Jae-ho there, looking for her. He puts on their song and places the headphones over her ears.
Her memories of that first kiss come flooding back. She looks up at him, “Jae-ho-ya,” and puts out her hand. He extends his, and she puts the ring in his hand. “I can’t bring myself to accept this. There’s something shiny embedded in it. But the album, and… this song, I’ll take those. Because poop is… my precious memories.” Heh, and aw. Isn’t it great how this show could do an entire series of comic strips called “Poop is…”?
But their poignant moment is harshly interrupted by… another woman? Oh, no. Pffft. THIS guy. Scared, Jae-ho calls her noona, and she wonders if he’s cheating on her with this little girl. He declares that this is the girl he’s going to marry, since they broke up… a week ago. LOL.
The noona flips out, insulting her for having zero style, and grabs Eun-bi to drag her out for a brawl. But then Chi-soo shows up to grab the arm that’s grabbing HIS noona’s arm. God, I love this. It’s so ridiculous. Jae-ho’s noona asks who the hell this guy is, and Chi-soo declares that he’s “My noona’s Pororo.” HAHAHAHAHA. I’m… dying…
Having overheard Jae-ho make a remark about Eun-bi being able to wear whatever she wants (in the way of, she could wear shorty shorts and it wouldn’t matter because she’d look plain), he punches Jae-ho in the face, and then shouts, “What? Did you really date this woman? When that woman wears hotpants and flies around in the air, it spins a person’s eyes around! What? The woman you’re going to marry? Are you kidding? Do you know how dangerous and hot* that woman is?!”
What he doesn’t realize is that Eun-bi has disappeared during his outburst, and he runs off to find her. Jae-ho’s noona in turn goes googly-eyed over Chi-soo, asking if Jae-ho has his number. HA.
He runs into the women’s bathroom to find her, breaking open the stall door to drag her out of there. He yells at her to stop running away, asking what happened to the Eun-bi who launched a spike at his head.
He tells her to do the same to that bastard. “Clean up your crap!” She asks if she should throw CDs this time, and do that all over again? Does she have no pride? Isn’t she a woman too? Trembling through her tears, she admits, “I was happy. Because he saw me as a woman again… truthfully I was disgustingly happy. But this time I’m not a woman either. I’m cold rice [a metaphor for leftovers, second best]. Not pasta, but ramyun!”
Chi-soo pushes her against the wall in frustration. “Don’t cry. I TOLD you NOT. TO. CRY. Don’t you ever cry in front of me because of another man AGAIN!”
*THUNK* Oh my god, did he just say that?
She’s shaken by his words, and so is he. He holds her face in his hands, the both of them trembling. He starts to lean closer. Hearts beat in their throats.
He inches closer, their lips a millimeter apart…
And then BAM! Out of nowhere, Kang-hyuk punches Chi-soo away. “I know how hot* this woman is, but that doesn’t mean she’s a woman you can do this to, in a bathroom.”
Goddamn, how can they be so hot, just one right after the other like that? A girl needs a minute.
He tells Eun-bi they’re going, and drags her out, leaving Chi-soo with a bloody lip and fire in his eyes.
*A note – they use the word “hot” in this episode, and though it can mean what we mean, it’s also one of those mistranslated words, like “cool.” Hot is used more often in colloquial language to mean “in demand,” like a hot-ticket item. So it’s not that Chi-soo doesn’t mean that she’s hot in the sexy way (’cause clearly, he’s got it bad in that sense), but he means more like she’s a hot commodity, and wanted by many.
What an awesome way to wrap up the ex-boyfriend storyline in two episodes flat – he appears, he proposes, he sways her… and then turns out to be the same old dirtbag. But what’s important is the thing that the ex represents for her, and when she speaks of the song and what it reminds her of, she speaks more about herself than of Jae-ho. It’s about who she was when she loved him, not the object of her love, but the person she once was, when she felt that way.
Her having to tell Chi-soo about song associations is just another example of how he has yet to actually connect with anyone on a level deep enough to make memories. But it’s when he hears his mom’s song that we see a glimpse – that maybe Cha Chi-soo the human being is there, just buried deep.
The song metaphor works in a number of ways in this episode, to highlight how a song can be exclusive and meaningful to two people who share a romantic past, or universal in how it reminds many people of loved ones, and connects them to one another. Each of the characters’ memories of Mom/Dad/Mom with that one song highlights their sameness, that the kind of loneliness they feel is exactly alike.
What really kills me is the way Chi-soo’s insistence that he hates to see girls cry gets turned upside-down. What used to be the thing he shouted in annoyance, “Don’t you dare cry!” because he didn’t want to see or deal with someone else’s emotions (god forbid), becomes something else entirely. Now he says the same words, but he means that he doesn’t ever want to see Eun-bi cry, because she’s hurt, because he can’t stand it, and because she’s shedding tears over another man.
I love when something like this is layered in from the beginning, and how constantly this drama turns a phrase to go from one meaning to its direct opposite. Everything, from poop to pororo, becomes a metaphor-laden remark used for a joke, a character moment, and then a twist. It feels very Hong-Sisters-esque, and that’s really the best compliment I could give to a rom-com.
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 7
- 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