Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 9
The writing continues to pleasantly surprise me for this show, although it really shouldn’t at this point given the previous 8 solid episodes, and yet I always get more than I expect. Despite the fluff trappings, there’s a thematic cohesion to the drama that ties each episode together in a way that really works. Plus, I’m a huge fan of musical relevance to narrative motifs, and we get tons of that in this episode. Yay for music/word nerds!
SONG OF THE DAY
Jung Il-woo – “너란 사람” (Someone like you) from the Ramyun Shop soundtrack. I don’t know who thought that bridge was a good idea, though the rest of the ballad is okay. Not my favorite, but fine. [ Download ]
EPISODE 9: “You Insulted A Man Like Me”
We jump back a little bit from the end of the previous episode to find Chi-soo driving in his car, fixated on Eun-bi admitting that she can’t help thinking of her ex when she hears that song. So he heads to the music store to ask the clerk for help tracking it down, giving us our Gong Hyo-jin cameo. The sharp-eared (that’s a phrase, right?) among us will note that the song playing in the background is the theme song from her last drama Best Love, for a meta laugh.
Meanwhile, ex-boyfriend Jae-ho drops by the ramyun shop looking for Eun-bi, who’s out. He asks for Kang-hyuk’s help finding her, and Kang-hyuk directs him to the supermarket, but can’t shake his own jealousy and ends up heading out as well.
Too bad Chi-soo doesn’t really know much about the song and he just hums it for the clerk, earning him an exasperated look. She can’t recognize his tune and he says, “But I sung it exactly right. Thanks anyway.” Just then, an argument gets his attention — at the other end of the store, Jae-ho is making his “Eun-bi could wear hot pants and not look sexy” argument to his jealous ex.
Kang-hyuk heads to the supermarket and takes a detour to the nearby music store, asking the same clerk the same question about the same song… and demonstrating the same unhelpful humming. Hee. Her look amounts to: This, again?
Then an argument gets his attention and he looks over to see Chi-soo in the mix now, arguing in favor of Eun-bi’s hotness. I love the parallel construction of this sequence, which gives us multiple perspectives of the same incident while cutting out all the stuff we already know from last episode.
Kang-hyuk notices what Chi-soo has missed, that Eun-bi leaves the store while he’s busily arguing with Jae-ho. Kang-hyuk heads out to find her, followed by Chi-soo. They take opposite directions, and thus it’s Chi-soo who finds her first, crying in a bathroom stall.
When Kang-hyuk arrives, Chi-soo’s telling her not to cry in front of him because of another man, then moving in for a kiss. Kang-hyuk steps in and punches Chi-soo, telling him that Eun-bi deserves better than this kind of treatment in a bathroom, and pulls her away.
(Eee, now it’s Lee Ki-woo making the cutesy faces at us during commercial break! Equal opportunity squeeing FTW.)
Kang-hyuk’s so lost in thought that he doesn’t realize he’s still holding Eun-bi’s wrist until she asks him to let go. He comes back to the moment, apologizes, and excuses himself to pick up some ointment from the pharmacy. Aw, for Chi-soo?
At the store, Ba-wool frets adorably over Eun-bi, unable to get a hold of her on the phone. Hyun-woo confirms that both Kang-hyuk and Chi-soo are unreachable, but is much less worried. He holds up his half-knit scarf to Ba-wool’s neck, which threatens the latter’s sense of masculinity while Hyun-woo tells him he’ll catch cold. I love that Hyun-woo’s not merely beta male material, but straight-up mother hen.
Alone now, Eun-bi sits with her cup ramyun and egg (onto which she draws an angry crying face), puzzling over both men’s curious behavior. Why would Chi-soo have a problem with her crying, when she wasn’t even doing it in front of him? How did Kang-hyuk get into the mix, and why did he hit Chi-soo? Taking a bite of her scalding ramyun reminds her: And why would he call her “hot”?
So it’s egg (Chi-soo) in one hand, chopsticks (Kang-hyuk) in another. Eun-bi contemplates them both, wondering, “Could it be…that you…really…no way…for me?”
At the ramyun shop afterward, Eun-bi eyes both men warily, trying to figure out whether her suspicions are on the right track. Kang-hyuk joins her outside to help pickle the radish, and Chi-soo finds them with his challenger face on. Thinking the worst, Eun-bi bursts out, “NO!”… only to have Chi-soo reach for the onion, rather than for a punch. Oops. Well, that’s not embarrassing or anything, holding out your arms dramatically. She lowers them pretending she was going for a stretch.
Neither guy is acting that out of character so she’s left scratching her head, having expected way more drama than this. So why does it feel like she’s been totally cut out of the loop? Aren’t they supposed to be awkward around her?, she wonders. Whatever happened to the “hot” and the wrist-grabbing and the posturing?
So when Chi-soo wanders in, she’s hyper-aware of his presence and imagines this as a romantic buildup moment — with the pretty tinkling music setting the mood — and turns to him with an expectant look when he speaks to her. Only to have that mood crash down around her when he asks for the radishes.
But he did call her hot, so she tests out her theory — now channeling the Wonder Girls’ “So Hot,” natch — by getting close and pointing him in the right direction with a suggestive gesture. Chi-soo gulps nervously… but then kills her sexy fantasy by telling her she’s got a pepper flake stuck between her teeth. Not exactly the kind of hot she was going for.
Embarrassed, Eun-bi heads to the bathroom for a furious tooth-brushing session, where Kang-hyuk bursts in all smiles. She tells him to knock first — who knows what she could have been doing? — and he cheerily answers that that’s the point.
Deciding to test her suspicions again, Eun-bi attempts a performance of sexy seductress that comes out more like the pee-pee dance. Kang-hyuk closes the door, sidling close and putting her hand on his ass (rawr!)… to pull out some more laxative medicine, saying she must have been in a lot of pain. HAHA. He walks away pleased with himself for having the foresight to prepare the medicine in advance.
But when he steps outside, he finds Chi-soo waiting for him, standing like a challenger in a duel. To the roof they go to hash out their issues.
Meanwhile, Eun-bi calls Dong-joo to get her opinion on what “hot” means in this situation, wanting to confirm that she’s not being crazy for thinking it’s a compliment on her attractiveness. Dong-joo figures the same thing, and Eun-bi says, “You think so too? It’s not a reference to being an H.O.T fan or something like that, right?” Hehehe.
Dong-joo is out eating pork skins with the Coach, who gets annoyed when she says she dressed up special for her fiancé today. He gripes that she ought to get her honey to buy her dinner instead of eating with him, and she retorts that she could hardly eat this (cheap, unrefined) food with him. They’re totally setting up these two to be an item, right? Since she’s completely fake with the other guy and totally frank with the Coach, right?
Chi-soo presents Kang-hyuk with his doctor’s report and tells him to pay him for the damages. How funny is it that he went to his personal doctor to essentially stick a Band-Aid on his lip? You’re such a prima donna, not that it’s a surprise. Kang-hyuk replies that he was expecting a fight, but Chi-soo holds up his fist, saying it’s too valuable to be used for any old reason.
Kang-hyuk points out, “But haven’t you already used it a lot? Because of my wife? Lee Chi-soo, what’s the reason you’re using that precious fist for her?” Chi-soo just says he needs her to treat an illness. Kang-hyuk asks if his association with her will cease after he’s cured of his condition, and Chi-soo agrees. Kang-hyuk’s pleased with that.
Now it’s Chi-soo’s turn to ask why Kang-hyuk’s acting the part of protector when he’s not Eun-bi’s boyfriend or real husband. Kang-hyuk answers that he made a promise to Eun-bi’s father and his mother to protect her as well as “some other things.”
Chi-soo scoffs at his commitment to a mere promise, to which Kang-hyuk replies, thumping his chest, “A promise made concerning a woman — it’s my heart.” Aw, that’s touching. (Kang-hyuk hilariously thinks so too; at Chi-soo’s unimpressed reaction, he tells himself, “I thought that sounded cool.”)
Chi-soo tells him to focus on paying him back instead of keeping insignificant promises, and leaves. Kang-hyuk takes out his ointment and bandages and muses, “But my Band-Aids were a lot prettier.” Aw, he didn’t have a chance to give them to Chi-soo.
And down below, Eun-bi emerges from the shadows, having overheard this conversation.
At home, Daddy Cha asks Chi-soo worriedly what’s up — the doctor told him he got injured in a bathroom. This is Chi-soo, who doesn’t even step foot inside public bathrooms! Chi-soo says that he went “Just to see what they’re like,” and tripped.
Dad’s listening to his song again, which he has to listen to in order to fall asleep, since “the song is your mother.” Chi-soo bursts out at that, wondering what’s up with everyone today: “A song is just a song, and a promise is just a promise! How can they become something else?”
Daddy Cha takes up his wineglass, sits back, and sighs, “When you care for a woman, she becomes liquor, she becomes the moon, she becomes a song. And then she becomes your world.” That’s so unexpectedly sweet. He tells Chi-soo he’ll understand when he meets a woman like that, who’ll make him feel the way Dad did when he met Chi-soo’s mother.
Chi-soo ponders this, thinking back to the times he’s hallucinated Eun-bi. I love that that’s a plural condition.
He scrawls notes, as though this is a math problem to be managed by solving an equation. (Have you not realized? Math solves nothing! Nothing!) One note reads “liquor = club,” equating Dad’s woman = liquor statement with the time he pictured Eun-bi with a volleyball at the nightclub. Another says “moon = rabbit, radish.”
He decides that some hallucinations could be attributed to culture shock, but there’s a blank spot in the “song = ???” category. That reassures him: “Yeah, you’ll be fine.”
Thinking back to the almost-bathroom-kiss, Chi-soo faces himself in the mirror, giving his reflection a stern talking-to. Then he picks up his new CD and wonders, “Why…did I buy this?” Oh, Chi-soo. I love how un-self-aware you are, which is remarkable given how self-absorbed you are.
He’s still mulling it over the next day on a date with So-yi, and he asks her whether she hears any particular song when she sees him. She laughs, wondering why he’s asking, and he lets it go. Instead he asks what she’s listening to on her mp3 player, and she shows him a program that selects songs at “smart random.” (I enjoy that Chi-soo’s selection — a ’90s Park Ji-yoon song — sings at him, “I don’t know anything… Don’t come close, stay where you are…”)
And then So-yi leans in and asks why he isn’t wearing cologne these days. Heh.
Ba-wool pesters Eun-bi to tell him what’s going on with Chi-soo, not buying her answer that there’s nothing. He wonders if Chi-soo likes his noona. It’s definitely what she’s wondering, but she isn’t ready to admit that and keeps quiet.
At the shop, Kang-hyuk gives the crew a recipe development project. First task: Split into pairs and cook a pot of ramyun for your partner, the kind to make their hearts “bubble” with emotion. Ba-wool chooses noona (so cute), but Kang-hyuk has already conceived of “democratic and extremely scientific method” of choosing.
Enter… a childish ladder game! (Basically there’s a mazelike structure of lines and each person finds their way from one end to another.) This results in the teams of: Hyun-woo and Ba-wool, and Chi-soo and Eun-bi.
While Ba-wool argues with Hyun-woo (who’s trying to interview him before starting the cooking), Chi-soo uses So-yi’s program to select a random song, and is pleased when it picks one he likes. Again, he misses the correlation as Weather Forecast sings at him, “I like you, I like you so much, I want to give you everything…”
He looks at the bickering Wool-Woo couple (or should it be Woo-Wool, even though that means Depressing Couple?) and taps the program again. Ba-wool has just declared that he’s tired of this exercise, so Chi-soo’s impressed when the program pulls up the hard-rocking, metal-influenced Seo Taiji song “Classroom Idea,” which growls, “Enough now with those lessons…” Right on.
Then he turns to observe Kang-hyuk and taps again. Out comes a children’s song. HAHA. Chi-soo’s both amazed and creeped out, dropping the tablet fearfully. Ha, somebody get this boy a Ouija board, please? His reaction would be priceless.
Eun-bi and Chi-soo sit down to work on their recipe, and when she asks him what foods he dislikes or can’t eat, he answers, “Yang Eun-bi. Yang Intern. Yang Poop.” She tells him to knock off the jokes, but he says, “What if I’m not joking? I have to find out why I keep seeking out food I can’t eat.”
Back to the river it is. She wonders why he’s brought them here when this place hardly holds good memories for them. (Note to Eun-bi: It never does for anybody.) Chi-soo says they’re here because this is where all the crazy started for them, and he needs to get to the bottom of it: “Even if they’re ridiculous, these things have happened, and I’m doing ridiculous things. So now that things have turned out this way, I figure I’d try believing in this ridiculous song.”
Declaring, “I have to know what my feelings are about you,” Chi-soo puts an earbud in her ear, and the other in his. It may be crazy, but he’s gonna give it a shot and see what the song says about their relationship: “The song that comes up is how you feel about me.”
Tap. Up comes Verbal Jint’s “You Insulted Me.” The main chorus goes, “You insulted a man like me. It’s too late to blame myself.”
Phew! Chi-soo feels relief, deciding, Ah, so that’s it! He smiles smugly now, concluding that his preoccupation is purely because Eun-bi was the first person to ever insult him. Thus the resulting culture shock is what caused his fixation. (It’s probably worth nothing that the song can also work in reverse — that Eun-bi’s own issue with Chi-soo is his disrespect for her. Naturally, Chi-soo doesn’t think along those lines and just applies the song to himself as victim.)
Eun-bi asks if he’s finished, and he says he is. She overheard him saying he’d be through with her when he was cured, so she takes this as her cue to cut the cord and gets out of the car.
One last gift: She hands him her egg, offering it as a hard-boiled snack. It’s the same teary-faced one that had represented Chi-soo in her confused egg-versus-ramyun debate earlier, and now she’s letting go. As she walks the river’s edge alone, she asks herself, “Yang Eun-bi, what were you expecting?”
Chi-soo drives home, pleased as punch, figuring all that worry was for nothing. Taking out Eun-bi’s sad-faced egg, he decides to eat it now and cracks the shell against his head… only to find out it wasn’t hard-boiled after all. Hee! Serves you right.
Eun-bi trudges home late that night and finds Kang-hyuk waiting for her. He teases her about going out with another man while leaving her husband at home, calling her “Hot Wife.”
Eun-bi tells him that she knows why he’s acting this way, but that there’s no need for him to continue: He may have promised her father to take care of her, but she’s an adult now and can take care of herself.
In response, Kang-hyuk picks her up and sets her on the railing in front of him (omg so hot), which gets her anxiously scratching her chin in a nervous tic. He points out that she’s just overreacted to simple teasing, so maybe she’s not a complete adult just yet.
Kang-hyuk asks, “Is it really okay for me to stop playing protector?” She says yes, and he replies, “Then I won’t be able to hold back anymore. Would it be okay if I didn’t?” With that, he leans in close to kiss her…
…as Chi-so watches from across the street, not quite so free of her after all.
I love the way the songs played into the theme this episode, which added a touch of whimsy while still tying into the scenes. I’m not placing a lot of stock in the song choice beyond “Hey, that’s cool,” but it’s like Chi-soo to seek out a simple explanation and cling to that, no matter that his feelings may be way more complex than a simple lyric.
I’m also tickled to have Kang-hyuk stepping up to assert himself now that Eun-bi has written off Chi-soo. I’m sure there’s more to his promise with Dad, and while it stands, Eun-bi sees him as acting out of obligation. With her absolving him of that duty, perhaps she’ll start to believe he might feel for her beyond the half-teasing “Wifey” designation. Clearly he’s been forthright in declaring that he likes her, but his declarations haven’t exactly rung with sincerity, so it’s natural that she’d dismiss them.
I want her to see that there’s more there with Kang-hyuk — and I want him to show it, too, because I’m not totally convinced he feels for her beyond mere interest, either. Jung Il-woo has given us enough moments of emotional connection that I don’t doubt what he’s feeling, even though Chi-soo hasn’t quite figured it out yet. But I don’t get that from Kang-hyuk, and would love more depth from him, to better challenge Chi-soo to step it up. ‘Cause really, that’s the endgame for me: To see Chi-soo grow and turn into a real human being with real human emotions. Whatever helps get us there, I’ll take. And hey, if that requires more swoon-worthy scenes of Kang-hyuk scooping up Eun-bi and making the kissy moves on her, I suppose we’ll just have to put up with that. Such a trial, am I right? The things we do for this show.
- Gong Hyo-jin cameos in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 8
- 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