Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 4
I’m amazed at how much character depth these Flower Boy dramas are packing into their light-rom-com outer shells, because they contain a surprising level of development and thoughtfulness. This drama has a refreshing tone, not just because it makes me laugh out loud but also because the strain of melancholy grounds its emotions in something real and stark. The drama is particularly good at balancing its light and dark halves, which we don’t see a lot in dramaland these days—we either get things that are extremes on either end, or things that start out light and then overboard on the dark. I wish more dramas could juggle the two this effectively.
SONG OF THE DAY
Serengeti – “바다로 가는 길” (On the way to the sea) [ Download ]
EPISODE 4: “No such things as kind lies or white lies?”
Jin-rak has his hero moment where he makes the decision to stop being a passive bystander while his girl gets stolen away by that interloper, and chases down Enrique’s (hyung’s) car. He’s all blazing determination with dramatic finale-episode music spurring him on, and he yells, “STOOOOOP!”
The car screeches to a halt. To avoid hitting a bicyclist, ha. They haven’t heard Jin-rak at all, who ekes out one last “Stooooo~”*cough* *hack* *wheeze* Aw, so it’s not a hero move so much as it’s his Baxter moment.
Dok-mi notices that Enrique’s hand, thrown up to keep her from slamming forward, is hovering perilously near her chest. I love that she gives Enrique the pointed eye-jerk, and he whips his hand back. On they go.
Dong-hoon comes up while Jin-rak’s hacking up his lungs and thinks he’s freaking out about being evicted. Jin-rak just mutters, “But I was first. I saw her value first.” Unable to contain his frustration, he demands, “Who the hell is that guy?! Why is it all so easy for him?!”
Dong-hoon asks what put Jin-rak in such a temper, trying to figure out what Jin-rak had before Enrique came along. He chatters on, wondering whether Enrique and Dok-mi are dating, and Jin-rak warns him to shut up.
Dong-hoon realizes that Jin-rak’s really angry, and hesitantly asks why. Poor boy, he can’t know the real reason but it hurts his feelings to be the venting source. Too bad he’s too dense to figure it out himself.
Dok-mi tries again to get Enrique to drop her off somewhere, or better yet, take her back home because she left home without her wallet or bag. Enrique has totally swallowed her lie, though, and tells her when the elderly ask for help, it means they need it quickly. “Time waits for no one,” he advises sagely. He’s determined to deliver her to her sick granny, and nothing will deter him.
Man-hunting Dok-mi and her posse of copycats head over to the apartment lobby, where she rifles through everyone’s mail, trying to figure out who her hottie is. She spies a letter with Dok-mi’s name on it and realizes that she does live here after all, just as Dong-hoon emerges from the elevator.
Do-hwi turns on the sweet act instantly and says her friend lives in Apartment 402. Dong-hoon brightens, saying he’s in 401, and calls this Fate. What’s hilarious about this is that Do-hwi’s affectations are wasted on her target but land on his sidekick, while Dong-hoon’s charms are in turn wasted on Do-hwi but have all her friends swooning. Either Cupid’s got crappy aim or a sick sense of humor.
Do-hwi introduces herself, angling for the hottie’s name. Yet once she hears it, her smile immediately turns to a frown. She recognizes it, but it doesn’t appear to be what she wanted to hear…
At a rest stop, Dok-mi practices a new lie to try out on Enrique, about how she just got a phone call from Grandma telling her she’s recovered and gone to the hot springs with her neighborhood friends. No need to go after all!
But then Dok-mi overhears the girl nearby wheedling her boyfriend on the phone… then taking a second call with her other boyfriend… and then working the oppa-pout-wiggle on the boyfriend she’s here with. Message sent: Don’t be a lying liar who lies.
Dok-mi cringes as Enrique joins her, and screws up her courage to blurt her confession all at once: Grandma’s not sick she’s really okay Dok-mi lied because she didn’t want to go but the lie keeps on growing she’s really sorry if he’s mad she understands she’s really sorry again.
Enrique just shrugs it off, saying they can go home then. But he has a confession of his own: He came out in such a rush he forgot his own wallet. “I’m hungry, and the car’s hungry too…” Dok-mi hangs her head and apologizes again, to which he says (his voice briefly turning serious for a moment) that one more sorry will really get him upset.
Then he turns up his brightness meter again and proposes figuring out a solution. That entails borrowing a few bucks here and there by flirting with girls or using aegyo with adults. Dok-mi starts out hiding her face in embarrassment at his antics, but by the time Enrique’s charming a little girl she looks a little charmed too.
The spell is broken when a surly teenager knocks into her, and Dok-mi is surrounded by a whole swarm of high school girls stomping by. They snidely complain that she’s standing in their way, and this transports her to her own hellish days of bullying. She has to get away.
Enrique finds her sitting in the cold alone and suggests they eat something to warm up. Dok-mi bursts out, “I want to go home! Right now!” He registers her alarm.
Dong-hoon sends Jin-rak new drawings for the webtoon. First Jin-rak is grumpy that he doesn’t like the drawings, and then he gets a batch he does like and is just as grumpy: “This punk—how can he spend all night playing and draw so well?!” Ha. Also, I can’t wait to find out what Dong-hoon’s actually doing with his nighttime hours; something tells me there’s a story there.
All in all, even though Jin-rak is Captain Grumpypants on a good day, today he’s extra cranky. The one thing that gets him to smile is a glance at Dok-mi’s note (on guidelines for saving energy); he sighs that her handwriting is just like her.
Enrique ushers Dok-mi to the car, and now that she’s calmer she apologizes for leaving when he’s still hungry. He exasperatedly tells her not to say sorry so much, and then makes her freeze nervously when he gets all up in her personal space to fasten her seatbelt. And again to lean her chair back. Gulp.
She falls asleep clutching her hands together, and as he drives Enrique thinks back to earlier encounters with Dok-mi that hint at the trauma in her past. Coming to some kind of decision, he swerves the wheel to take the next exit.
Ding-dong. Do-hwi rings the apartment doorbell, then hurriedly assumes a casual pose as Jin-rak opens his door. With her affected demureness she apologizes for getting the wrong apartment, and disinterested Jin-rak doesn’t even bat an eye as he swings his door shut.
Panicking, Do-hwi JAMS her foot into the open space, then hilariously resumes acting the modest lady. She pretends she only now recognizes him, disappointed at his lack of response. But when she heads to to knock on Apartment 402, Jin-rak grabs her hand. Score!
Or so she thinks. I’m sure he’s thinking of Dok-mi’s peace of mind, but as he pulls Do-hwi away from that door she whirls gracefully into his arms like a swooning princess, and purses her lips for a kiss. Jin-rak actually recoils.
Dok-mi awakens in the car, which is parked in an unfamiliar location. Enrique gives her a sheepish grin and says he’s sorry—he must’ve entered the address wrong in the GPS. Pull back to reveal that he’s parked at a beach, and as Dok-mi looks at it her eyes fill with tears.
She gets out to walk on the sand, toward the water. Enrique wonders why she’s acting like she hasn’t seen the sea in 500 years, which might just be how she feels.
Enrique keeps his eye on Dok-mi but lets her have her space, though he does whip out his camera to take photos of her. (And backs himself right into the waves, soaking himself. Heh.)
Sitting in Jin-rak’s apartment, Do-hwi pretends to dial a number and hangs up right away, feigning confusion at why Dok-mi isn’t answering. Jin-rak points out that she barely let it ring, and that annoys her into dropping her sweet facade for a second.
Dok-mi and Enrique stop by a small market, where he asks the proprietor for something to dry his camera with. Dok-mi worries that he’ll catch cold, but he’s more bummed about potentially losing all his photos. The owner turns a blind ear to their questions until Dok-mi clocks the flower-print shoes and mutters to Enrique, “Grandma.”
Cutely, the minute Enrique calls her pretty grandma, she turns into helpfulness and light, offering dryers and clothing and dinner to boot.
Enrique wears the hell out of his temporary ajumma fashions, doing his dorky best to wring a smile out of Dok-mi. They sit down to feast on sweet potatoes and kimchi, but when he reaches for the makgulli bottle she sternly shakes her head—he has to drive. He deflates… and then pulls the What’s that over there? trick to get her to look away. *Pour* *Chug* *Innocent smile*
Dok-mi takes away the bottle and he looks at her with puppy-dog eyes until she reluctantly gives it back. Glug-glug-glug. Agh, hold on, gimme a minute. Gotta put some sweet potatoes in the oven and get out the kimchi.
Enrique says that his hyung Tae-joon may have his killer appeal, but he’s also got big downsides—he’s just another person, even if he is her one-sided love. Dok-mi bristles and tells him not to use that term with her, one-sided love, saying that she had intended to start it and end it all on her own, secretly, with nobody ever finding out.
Enrique points out that he figured it out. What tipped him off was the similarity between them—she looked at Tae-joon the way he looked at Seo-young: “You can’t hide things like that.”
Enrique works his way through two bottles of makgulli and is happily tipsy by the time he figures they should get ready to head back. She suggests a walk on the beach to sober him up, which he misinterprets as a demand to hurry up and get home already. Doesn’t she feel cooped up in her apartment all the time?
She replies that it doesn’t feel stifling to her, that she finds her space peaceful.
Jin-rak asks if Do-hwi’s really friends with Dok-mi, having seen nothing of her in the three years he’s been her neighbor. Wouldn’t a friend be in regular contact? Do-hwi fumbles for an excuse, saying that she’s been abroad and drifted from her friends, and was excited to run into Dok-mi again yesterday.
She looks around with her apprising eyes, trying to figure out if he’s a manhwa writer or maybe got a better (read: richer) profession. They’re having tangential conversations because Jin-rak’s so fixated on the Dok-mi angle of their friendship that he all but ignores her, working out their relationship in a way that makes sense to him.
After her dinner invitation goes unheeded, Do-hwi gets miffed at his inattention and heads out. But he grabs her hand again and asks her to stay for tea—again, more out of curiosity about Dok-mi than anything, but Do-hwi’s happy to take this as a sign of interest.
Out on the beach again, Enrique runs in circles around the sand castle like a drunk little boy, and declares that he’ll take back what he said yesterday about love being broken and therefore over. He figures that you can’t just decide something’s done and start the next one right away: “All you have to do is leave things as they are, and they’ll come back around to where they should be.”
She gets a call and stares at the phone for a long moment, so Enrique pokes the button for her. With deep reluctance, Dok-mi answers Do-hwi’s call. Asked when she’s coming home, Dok-mi tells her she’s far away and not to wait for her, then hangs up. Just this contact is enough to bring tears to her eyes.
Jin-rak, on the other hand, is alarmed to hear that Dok-mi might not come home tonight and barks at Do-hwi to call back and find out where she is. He worries that she might be in trouble.
With no reason to keep her here anymore, Jin-rak ushers her out. They’re just in time to meet Dong-hoon at the door, who’s talking to the courier, who’s delivering some legal papers for an Oh Jae-won. Dong-hoon tells him there’s nobody here by that name, but Jin-rak speaks up—that’s him.
Do-hwi’s eyes widen at the name. So do Dong-hoon’s. Hm, so was our runaway chaebol storyline directed at the wrong roommate?
Jin-rak opens his letter, which turns out to be a confirmation of his name change. Dong-hoon is busy pouting about being left out of the loop on this, so Jin-rak shows him the paper and declares that it’s official, and now there’s no other name to mistake him for. He just says, “I’m not a criminal so don’t worry. And even if you’re dying of curiosity, don’t ask questions.”
It’s night by the time Grandma closes up her shop and tells Enrique and Dok-mi that the buses to Seoul have stopped running, but she has a room she can put them up in for the night since she runs a bed-and-breakfast type deal on the side. HA, did Grandma hustle them to score a customer?
Enrique adds that he checked online and he still has to wait five hours till he can drive again. Dok-mi heaves a sigh.
Jin-rak gets online to search for “reasons a woman might spend the night out.” None of the answers is comforting, ranging from “running from debts” to “a scam” to “she just doesn’t like you.”
Dong-hoon suggests that he start dating, since he’s never even kissed a girl before. Jin-rak bristles: “Who said that?!” Dong-hoon figures that he was just taking a stab at a hunch, which he just confirmed. Lol. Not so dim when he tries, is he?
He points out that Do-hwi is “not totally my type, but close” but that she only has eyes for Jin-rak. Conclusion: “Her taste in men is perfectly rotten.” Hee.
Our (kinda-)stranded couple huddles in front of the fire as Enrique asks what kind of work she does (copy editing) and confesses that his written skills aren’t so hot. Dok-mi starts to ask whether her lie caused a lot of trouble, but he waves it aside: “I lied too. So don’t be sorry.”
She asks what his lie was. He asks why she was sitting alone out in the cold—is she so afraid of people that shivering alone is better than being amongst them?
She doesn’t answer. He adds, “You were sleeping in the car, and I just didn’t want to take you home. If I did, you’d hide yourself away for sure.” He tells her that if she gets to know people, her fears will gradually go away and things will be better. “Until I go back to Spain, I’ll drag you out and show you the whole world.”
She asks for a favor. Her voice grows chilly: “Once we’re back in Seoul, will you act like we don’t know each other? Even if we run into each other, just pass by pretending you don’t know me.”
He tries the cheery approach, saying that they’ve already revealed a lot about themselves to each other. She replies that that’s why she feels uncomfortable with him.
Enrique wonders if he’s supposed to find her uncomfortable too, having revealed a lot about himself to her. He’s bummed by her request, but he slaps on his happy face and agrees to it, with a revision: “Rather than pretending that we don’t know each other, let’s decide we never knew each other from the start.”
Dong-hoon asks for Jin-rak’s ideal woman, and gets the description: “A woman who knows how to compromise first. A woman who knows how to say sorry first. A woman who doesn’t have big ambitions. A woman who’s sincere even when she’s someplace the world can’t see her.”
Dong-hoon calls his ideal type a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, but also connects the dots: “Do you really like Apartment 402?”
Enrique sits in his car flipping through photos of Dok-mi taken today, while she sits in the rented room, tapping out another segment of her story on her phone:
“What is your truth? Answer honestly. Whenever someone asked her that, she kept her mouth shut. When unwrapped from its wrapping paper of lies, the truth is not a sweet candy or a chocolate that appears with a flourish. In the way that skin is needed to protect blood and flesh, she needed lies to cover her truth. More than being honest and exposing her scars, that woman found it safer to lie with a brilliant smile.”
She finishes her passage, and the lights start to flicker. Dok-mi starts to panic, remembering Eccentric Grandma’s mention of the inconsistent lights and how it’s because of a ghost. She screams.
The sound wakes Enrique, who’s fallen asleep in the car, and he dashes over to the darkened room. He rushes in just as Dok-mi’s heading out, and knocks her down.
The lights flicker back on, and they slowly open their eyes to realize their lips are locked. Whoopsie. Naughty ghost.
Ha, I have to laugh at the whoops-I-fell-on-your-lips trick, because it’s such a cliche of these kinds of shoujo-manga-esque stories. Or I should call it soonjung-manhwa, like this drama’s source material, though they’re really the same thing. I’m expecting the moment to subvert in the next episode, much in the way that Jin-rak’s dash of glory fell comically flat in this episode’s opening, and I hope it’s a good one.
The thing about Jin-rak is, he’s drawn to tug at your heart as the nice guy who loves from afar, but I have to say I’m all Enrique, all the way. My love for Kim Ji-hoon is vast (nobody does wry and deadpan quite like him—not to mention his knack of making crankiness sexy), but the drama’s showing us very clearly why he doesn’t have snowball’s chance in hell, and it’s not because he happened to miss his timing or be overshadowed by Enrique.
Jin-rak would never have gotten the girl, Enrique or no, for more than one simple reason. First, there’s his misguided passivity—although that can be fixed, as he attempted in this episode. He waited way too long until he was paralyzed, but that’s not his main failing.
What his greater downfall is that he has convinced himself that he’s the only person who truly sees Dok-mi—hence his indignation that Enrique is swooping in, since Enrique can’t possibly see her like he does—and yet he’s really only seeing the version he’s created. It’s the girl in his webtoon, not the real girl. And what better proof of that than his list of “ideal woman” traits? How far from Dok-mi could he possibly get?
Enrique’s hyperactive puppy mode can be a bit much at times, and truth be told I’m half-expecting a moment to come when it turns me off of him out of annoyance. But it actually makes him more sympathetic, since it’s a part of his act as well, and Dok-mi seems to see that. I love the little cracks in his armor, the sides of him that he doesn’t allow anyone to see (except Dok-mi), and I’m so glad that Yoon Shi-yoon is here to bring all that to life with his vibrancy. It takes a lot of energy and innate timing to make a guy like Enrique feel real, but he’s doing it.