Now that introductions are out of the way, we get to watch everyone’s peaceful lives get spun around by the Enrique the Energizer Bunny, and we find out that our heroine isn’t the only silent lurker with a crush, and that she’s also not the only one with a broken heart. Turns out it’s an entire neighborhood filled with lonely hearts, behind every door.
EPISODE 3: “First Love Hurts and Unrequited Love is Sad”
After Dok-mi’s fainting spell, she wakes up to find herself in Tae-joon’s apartment, with Enrique asking for her help because he’s about to do something very difficult. Before she can answer, in walks her dreamboat Tae-joon with a big smile.
Enrique introduces him by name (the first Dok-mi has learned it) and has to nudge her to return the very basic introduction. He tells hyung that, “ajumma and I are friends,” and Tae-joon chides him for calling her an ajumma.
She finally manages to spit out, “I’m Go Dok… Go Dok… Go Dok-mi [lonely… lonely… Go Dok-mi].”
She tries to make excuses but Enrique says she’s staying for dinner, realizing that he’s never told her his name. He finally introduces himself as Enrique Geum, and when she says nothing in response, he gets a little miffed that she doesn’t ask the usual curious questions about his unusual name.
Doctor Tae-joon inspects her at Enrique’s behest. (Also, I just adore that he sits at her feet like a puppy during the exam.) Dok-mi can barely hold it together, from being so close to her crush.
Seo-young arrives and flips her lid to see Tae-joon sitting on the couch facing Dok-mi, coaxing her to stick out her tongue of all things. Seo-young starts by yelling at Tae-joon for not receiving a guest properly, and he corrects her that she’s just his little bro’s friend (ouch).
She turns to poor Dok-mi who desperately does not want to be caught in this conversation, and says defensively that she’s Enrique’s friend… so is Dok-mi Tae-joon’s friend?
Enrique finally intervenes to say that Dok-mi is his friend, and Tae-joon’s meeting her for the first time too, and also inspecting her because she fainted. To her credit, Seo-young immediately feels like a heel and apologizes for her temper.
She begs Dok-mi to stay for dinner so she has a chance to smooth things over, which is sweet. But Dok-mi gets up to go anyway.
Enrique stops her by pulling her close. His voice suddenly loses that chipper sheen as he says to her quietly, “Don’t go, ajumma. Help me. Please.” His lip quivers and everything. Dok-mi looks up, her face changing at his tone.
Meanwhile, Jin-rak paces outside, sighing at what he saw this afternoon: Dok-mi linking arms with Enrique, and falling into his arms. It’s just a bad night for unrequited love everywhere.
Jin-rak doesn’t notice that he has an admirer too, in Dok-mi’s high school friend (though “mean girl classmate” might be a better term), Do-hwi. She watches Jin-rak and purposely breaks her heel to hobble over and ask for help. Her story: she broke her heel while saving a kitty from being run over in the street. Uh-huh.
Dong-hoon and Ryu come down to join him and watch curiously as Do-hwi trips all over herself and lands in Jin-rak’s arms over and over again. He looks like he couldn’t be more annoyed.
Her plan backfires pretty awesomely, as the trio of boys deposit her outside a shoe repair stand and walk away without a moment’s pause.
Inside the apartment of broken hearts, Dok-mi and Enrique tend to the pasta-making and watch Seo-young flirt with Tae-joon. She says that she bought the flowers he likes and told the hospital flower shop that she was his girlfriend, almost just to clock his reaction.
He doesn’t say anything, but it’s a blow to Dok-mi and Enrique, who watch with long faces, but catch themselves and try not to show it.
Over dinner, Enrique gets corrected again about calling Dok-mi an ajumma, and Seo-young takes to calling her unni. She asks how they met, and Enrique says they could shoot a three-part movie with the amount of material from their meeting: “Pervy to thriller to medical drama.”
And then he adds, “But I’m thinking of turning it into a melo now.” Rawr? Dok-mi nearly chokes on her pasta the whole time he’s talking, and Tae-joon passes her a glass of water. Enrique catches her smiling very differently at the water glass.
Seo-young asks if she’s uncomfortable or naturally just quiet, calling the latter tiresome. Tae-joon snaps at her, saying that she’s been rude the whole time she’s been here, wondering where she’s been for the last year.
Enrique snipes at Tae-joon that he should’ve gone to see her if he was so curious, since he knew full well that she moved to Seoul because of him. Interesting.
Ryu takes the boys to the little restaurant where he got a job, and Dong-hoon dwells on the suspicious girl with the broken heel, noting that she was wearing too many designer things and acting so strangely that she must’ve approached Jin-rak to seduce him.
But then the thing he trips up on: “But… why would she do that, when I’m standing right next to you? Handsome me?” He calls her pretty, which Jin-rak scoffs at.
Dong-hoon just jabs right back, wondering where 402 went on Enrique’s arm today. He narrates a scenario involving late-night peeping and secret meetings, and Jin-rak blows up at him.
Back in Tae-joon’s apartment, they start to clean up after dinner and Tae-joon asks Enrique how long he’s staying in Korea. He says maybe two or three months, depending, and Tae-joon turns to Seo-young and tells her to go back when Enrique goes.
She finally bursts, tears welling up in her eyes, “Don’t keep trying to tie me to Enrique. We’re just friends! We’re not anything! Do you really want me to go?!”
Dok-mi registers the pointed words, and Enrique’s expression. It seems like nobody breathes for a full minute before Dok-mi drops a plate, shattering the silence.
She starts to clean it up, and Enrique tells her to leave it, or she’ll get hurt. She doesn’t listen, and he screams, “Leave it!” Aw, he must be hurting so much right now.
He grabs her coat and makes an excuse to walk Dok-mi home, so Tae-joon and Seo-young can be alone.
Jin-rak and the boys eat, and Ryu tells them that he’s going to travel and learn how to cook food from around the world.
Dong-hoon gets up to leave first, and Jin-rak makes him pay for dinner as his punishment, and gets Ryu to put away his wallet by saying that Dong-hoon is a chaebol who ran away from home. Dong-hoon scowls at the lie that’s costing him dinner, but it’d be funny if it turned out to be true.
Halfway home, Dok-mi finally wrestles her arm free from Enrique’s grasp, and he apologizes, “Ajumma, I’m sorry.” He says he knows now why she stole peeks out her window: “You like my hyung, don’t you?”
She stammers that she doesn’t, so he plays along and muses that Seo-young and Tae-joon look great together. She can’t answer, and he calls her bluff.
He sighs, “I ended your unrequited love.” Dok-mi says she has nothing to end, but he’s the one whose unrequited love has come to an end. He looks over at her in surprise. Enrique: “That’s not it. Mine’s first love. My ten-year-plus first love. Over.”
He only lets himself dwell on it for a second, before putting the chatty façade back on, and leads the way over to Dok-mi’s door.
Jin-rak is on his way back from dinner alone, and hides like a loon at the sight of Enrique and Dok-mi walking home. He peers around the corner and watches them.
Enrique whirls around and suggests a drink, thinking it a perfect occasion. He says it’s not really so bad, and there are always happy memories to hold onto. As he rattles off about how fine he is, Dok-mi thinks to herself, “Lies.”
And a split-second later, Enqrique sighs, “Yeah, that’s a lie.” Her eyes dart open as she thinks at him, “Can you hear this too?”
But he darts over to her with a brilliant new idea—they should go on a trip, to say goodbye to their unrequited/first loves. He digs around for her phone and says he’ll pay for the whole trip because he feels bad about tonight, and tells her to meet here the next morning.
She says no, so he shows her a picture of their destination, The Village at End of the Earth, and asks with his puppy eyes, “What if I go to end of the earth in this state all alone and really end it?”
Suddenly she flashes back to herself in high school, standing on a rooftop. It’s the roof of her school and she looks ready to jump. Eep, the camera pans back and we see that she’s actually standing on the ledge.
Back to the present, where Dok-mi bites back, asking how he could say something like that so easily. But he’s just in his obliviously bouncy puppy mode, and says it’s why she has to come, and doesn’t give her a chance to argue.
Jin-rak ducks for cover among the trash bags to avoid being seen, and then runs in behind Dok-mi just to ride the elevator with her. So cute. I love that he’s just as weird as she is.
She doesn’t even realize he’s in the elevator with her until her phone rings, and she jumps at the sight of him. Even funnier is his apology that he should’ve made his presence more known. In an elevator?
The call is from Do-hwi, and Dok-mi’s voice hardens as she answers. Do-hwi says she’s looking into renting an office in her building, and Dok-mi just cuts her off, saying that she doesn’t live there.
Do-hwi’s trio of mean girl minions (who must also be from high school) laugh that she just got rejected by Go Dok-mi. Do-hwi fumes.
The elevator stops on their floor, but Dok-mi is so lost in her thoughts that she doesn’t get off, and Jin-rak adorably follows her lead, not making a move until she realizes at the last second that the door is closing.
He sticks his hand in the door and lets it get squashed to catch it, and says in his deep manly-man voice that she should go first. It looks he finally decides in that moment to follow up and say something else to her, but by the time he catches up, she’s already in her apartment.
Jin-rak sketches the latest episodes in Dok-mi’s life, muttering to himself that she must’ve been so frightened to be surrounded by all these people, and who is this Enrique anyway, busting his way into this world?
He starts drawing a beard on Enrique’s character, which puts a smile on his face. Hee. Petty ineffectual revenge for the win.
Dok-mi looks out her window and sees Seo-young and Tae-joon talking, and it reminds her of Enrique’s heartbreak. Suddenly she’s looking down into the street instead, wondering where he went off to.
He’s in PC bang, playing his own game Zombie Soccer. Though that makes him look fine from a distance, up close we see that his eyes are red with tears.
Dok-mi watches the scene in Tae-joon’s apartment: Tae-joon comforting Seo-young, and then taking a step away from her.
Seo-young runs up to hug Tae-joon, and Dok-mi sees Enrique entering the building at the same time. She worries, “You can’t go in there now!” and watches in nervous anticipation.
But he doesn’t appear in her view, and she wonders where he went. We see him wait in the hallway until they leave. Dok-mi sees him run in as soon as they’ve gone, shivering from the cold in his panda slippers. Dok-mi sighs, her eyes full of empathy: “You must be cold…”
Later that night, Dok-mi writes:
People who think that they can just grab the hand of happiness when it’s offered to them—how happy must they be? That woman becomes nervous when she is too happy. To that woman, happiness is like a child’s game of blowing bubbles. The moment when she touches the bubbles that float her way carrying the light of the rainbow, they burst. In front of happiness, that woman always gives up, before the hand is even offered.
Early the next morning, the milk is delivered, and two steps after the milkman, comes our mysterious post-it man. He puts a new message on today’s carton: “A happy day!” and this time, there’s a note on Dok-mi’s door for him: “Delivery Person, Thank you, I’m reading them well.”
Dok-mi goes to meet Enrique that morning as promised, but when he gets ready to go, she blurts out that they’re not close enough to go on a trip together, to be called ajumma, or anything else for that matter, “We’re not anything!”
When she opens her eyes, he’s gone, and then she opens her eyes again, snuggled in her sleeping bag at home. Dream. But she’s jolted out her reverie when Enrique texts her to remind her that they’re leaving at 9am.
She panics, starting and stopping excuse after excuse, trying to figure out what sounds the most plausible.
At the same time, Jin-rak’s doorbell rings early, and he wakes up from his chair. Ha, instead of just getting the door, he climbs into bed and knocks Dong-hoon out of it.
Dong-hoon finds a man at the door saying he’s here to clean it out at the owner’s request, and Jin-rak jolts up and screams for him to close the door. He realizes he’s late with rent, and says it was the one condition of renting this place—he’d be kicked out if he were even a day late with payment.
Dong-hoon thinks the story is ridiculous (especially since his landlord is a man whose face he’s never seen) but Jin-rak swears it’s true. He’s a little short in funds and asks Dong-hoon, who swears up and down he is not a chaebol’s son.
Enrique gets ready for his trip and gets a text from Dok-mi saying that her grandma is suddenly ill. He drops everything and asks Tae-joon for his car keys and takes off.
Jin-rak and Dong-hoon stand out in the hallway with the movers and ask for a little more time, drawing the attention of all the neighbors. Soon Dong-hoon is giving up his last 50,000 won, and so is Ryu.
That means they’re only 20,000 won short, which is the exact sum Dok-mi is holding in her hand with her ear pressed to the door.
Enrique arrives to pick up Dok-mi and takes an awkward elevator ride up with the security guard, who flips to hear that he’s friends with 402. By the time they arrive on the fourth floor, it’s a full-blown ruckus in the hallway.
Suddenly Dok-mi’s door cricks open and she sticks her hand out, waving two bills out. The boys take it gratefully, and she sticks her head out just long enough to see Enrique there and shuts her door. Uh-oh, is she caught in her lie?
Jin-rak knocks on her door, reverting to his overly formal speech to say thank you, when Enrique comes pounding on her door too, “Ajumma! Hurry up! Let’s go!” Jin-rak looks at him like he’s crazy, and Enrique grins from ear to ear.
Do-hwi decides to take the officetel after all (in Tae-joon’s building). Drat.
Jin-rak sends the money to his landlord, so the matter is handled and everyone filters back out, leaving Enrique whining at Dok-mi’s door. Jin-rak warns him he’ll call the police if he’s bothering the residents here, but to his utter surprise, Dok-mi comes out to meet him.
Enrique inspects her to make sure she’s dressed warmly enough, and rushes her out like the steamroller crack pup that he is.
Jin-rak’s jaw drops, and he’s literally just frozen there as he watches Enrique usher her away with his hands on her. He even stops to give a little, “Hyung, fighting!” cheer, which just makes the whole thing worse.
Enrique sticks her in the car and she sighs in her head at her once peaceful life, and then doesn’t realize that the last bit of it is said aloud: “Where did this persistent jerk come from?” HA.
He either didn’t hear her clearly or pretends not to, and tells her to put her grandma’s address into the GPS. She says she can go herself from the terminal, but he’s being super sweet of course, thinking her grandma’s really sick. She relents.
Upstairs, Jin-rak is still standing in the same spot, and something finally stirs him to move. He dashes downstairs and starts running at Enrique’s car at full speed.
The car starts to pull away and Jin-rak runs, screaming, “Stop! I said STOOOOOOOP!”
The tires screech to a halt. Omo, they heard him?
Jin-rak stops to catch his breath, and Dok-mi and Enrique look back in surprise.
Eee, they heard him! What a great way to turn the scene on its head. We just assume it’ll be like every other time and he’ll be too late, but maybe this time Jin-rak will actually do something about his feelings? I like how Enrique is shaking up their world—it’s not just Dok-mi he’s affecting, but Jin-rak, who thought that he was doing the right thing by waiting forever and being an invisible knight in shining armor, only to see Dok-mi change and come out of her shell more in the few days since Enrique’s arrival than in the three years he’s observed her.
But Dok-mi and Enrique seem evenly matched as perceptive people, because he chatters as his shield, and she sees right through him. She reads very plainly that he’s in love with Seo-young and giving up on his love for his hyung, and that he hides his pain with laughter. It was sweet to see her worry for him, if even for just a moment, because it took her outside of her own bubble and connected her to someone. The flashback to her possible suicide attempt revealed just how dark and lonely her world could be, and I like the idea that what might bring her around from all this is empathizing with someone else’s pain.
What I like about Dok-mi is that she’s not the pure innocent wallflower Jin-rak thinks she is—she has a biting wit, a jaded view of the world, and a rather sharp tongue. She just doesn’t show it to anyone, so while people think she’s the nice quiet girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly, that’s not how the narrative is going inside her head. It’s an interesting duality to have in a heroine, that she can look so unassuming and yet be grumbling and cursing at someone in her thoughts. It’s perhaps an extension of the kind of mental filtering we all do in daily life, just taken to an extreme so that for her, almost everything is internalized.
Well that is, until Enrique. Her outburst at him—both in her dream and then the bit in the car where she doesn’t even realize she’s talking out loud—is a big change from the Dok-mi we’ve seen up until now, who could barely eke out all the syllables of her name after endless coaxing. Does he bring it out in her because he makes her that angry? Or is he so direct that he manages to cut through those barriers? While Jin-rak is hypersensitive to Dok-mi and so thoughtful that he would choose to be invisible so as to keep from disturbing her life, Enrique is so oblivious that he railroads right past those things with complete disregard… but he gets through to her, for better or worse. And it’s on all levels too, like the fact that he touches her, which always jolts her like it’s foreign or new or charged with electric current. She actually seems so removed from human interaction that physical contact is jarring, while he’s such a hyper puppy that he doesn’t know how not to lead with his hands. It’s either a recipe for disaster, or perfection.
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- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 1
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- Flower Boy Next Door releases teaser
- Flower Boy Next Door’s first script read
- Kim Yoon-hye (Woori) joins Flower Boy cast
- Park Su-jin added to Flower Boy Next Door
- Go Kyung-pyo joins Flower Boy Next Door
- Kim Ji-hoon joins tvN’s Flower Boy Next Door
- Third tvN Flower Boy drama stars Yoon Shi-yoon, Park Shin-hye