Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 12
It’s an episode of breakthroughs and baby steps for everyone, though none more than our heroine who takes some bold new leaps, fueled by the power of one cheerleader puppy who really does believe that love conquers all. But what’s great about this story is that love isn’t a magical cure-all for Dok-mi, but a boost of much-needed courage to start opening her door.
EPISODE 12: “The wind blows. I like you.”
KISS! *rewind* Tears fall as their lips meet, and they pull away slowly. Suddenly a noise from the doorway startles them out of the moment. (Drat that timing.)
Dok-mi goes to see what it is, and finds Jin-rak’s flipbook of post-its on the ground. Aw, it’s as if its sticky quotient symbolically got sapped the second Enrique kissed her. Poor Post-It Man.
She picks them up, and Enrique notes how like Jin-rak those post-it notes are: “Slowly, one by one, bit by bit, carefully, carefully coming closer. But I’m not like that. I’ll never forget your face when you were looking at the ocean. So I’m going to take you to better places, to eat tastier things, and I’m going to be next to you, looking at your face and laughing and chatting.”
She doesn’t answer, but she notably doesn’t look upset about it either. She actually looks pleased at the prospect of going outside. He now takes note of the fact that in her confession she said she liked him in the past tense, and though he used to care about those technicalities before, he decides he doesn’t care: “I remember very clearly, you said you like me!”
While he chatters away on his own, Dok-mi smiles and thinks to herself that the old Ke-geum is back. Seconds later, he says aloud, “I think I’ve returned to normal.” He was right—their telepathy is back.
He beams: “Because you like me, I feel like I can solve anything in the world.” He leans in close to say, “Ajumma, just keep liking me, and I’ll like you more, more, more, more.” HE’S SO CUTE.
Jin-rak and Dong-hoon go out to eat after their PD visit, and Dong-hoon thanks him sincerely for the credit on their webtoon, but says even still he has to quit. He admits now that he has to support his family, and all those nights that hyung thought he was out clubbing, he was really working.
He describes the endless string of late-night jobs he’s had, all to pay the family bills, but also to keep his days free. “Because of my dream. Because I had to draw during the day.” He says, head hanging, that perhaps dreams aren’t for people like him. Dong-hoon, don’t make me cry!
Jin-rak can’t believe it, and asks how much he needs. Dong-hoon laughs at the offer, coming from the guy who can’t even make rent, but Jin-rak says he’s actually a rich heir who ran away to chase his dream. Lol, he sounds like he’s kidding but I don’t think he is.
What’s funnier isn’t the reveal, since we all suspected as much, but the fact that the prince-playing-manhwa-pauper line is something they’ve said to each other countless times as a joke, so Dong-hoon doesn’t take him seriously and they just railroad right over it.
Jin-rak says Dong-hoon can’t quit because now he can’t draw this webtoon without him, and this is his first start at realizing his dream, his life goal. Dong-hoon runs off to work, and promises to think about it some more.
Back in Dok-mi’s apartment, Enrique announces that they’re dating now, and busts out the dictionary definition of the word. HA. The definition describes people who are in love, and Dok-mi’s eyes widen at the word, thinking to herself: “Love? I said like!”
As if he can hear her thoughts, he says that “like” and “love” are practically the same thing, and goes round and round in circles till he gets to the end result, which is that they’re dating now. She just gapes silently, wondering if he really can read her mind.
He declares that their first order of business is to unpack her things, but Dok-mi says someone’s coming to see the apartment tomorrow, and it’s too late to back out. He whines that she’s running away, while she says she’s just finally chasing her dreams, like a squirrel who finally gets to crack open the nuts it saved all winter long.
His point is a valid one—why can’t she open her nuts here? He asks if she’s going to write children’s books where the hero runs away from all his problems, and says that all the cool books he’s read are about characters who go out into the world and face their problems. “I want you to write books like that. And I want you to be like that.” And that is why we love you.
She just gets avoidy and tells him to go home because it’s getting late. He says he can’t because there’s a soccer match on tonight and his hyung’s tv is soooo old. She gives him a hairy eyeball: “I saw the new wall tv.” He crosses his arms over his chest, feigning shock. “You’ve been watching all this time?” Hee.
He switches to writer-editor mode, suggesting that they work on a new lecture, using his professional voice. When that doesn’t work, he whines that he’s injured and she’s throwing him out into the street where he might have a horrible accident. And then he bites bandaged hand for effect. This guy.
He announces online that he’s going to do a fan meeting especially for game addicts, but only under one condition: they have to bring a parent with them. Yay, he’s listening to her suggestion.
Jin-rak trudges home and pauses in front of Dok-mi’s door, but can’t bring himself to ring the doorbell.
Suddenly a noise in the hallway brings everyone outside. It’s a drunk Do-hwi, at first knocking on Jin-rak’s door, slurring that she’s ready to be honest. But when he comes out, she says that there’s someone else she really wants to be honest with, and starts calling out for Dok-mi.
Enrique goes inside and urges her to face Do-hwi, because the problem isn’t going to go away on its own. He promises to be right by her side, and says she can do it.
So the four of them relocate to Jin-rak’s apartment, where the boys sit off to the side. Do-hwi launches into a totally defensive rant, asking why it’s so hard for Dok-mi that she lives this way, why she let the rumors grow without explaining herself, like it was her own fault. Gah, I want to slap her.
She admits that she made up a lie when those popular girls took an interest in her, but accuses Dok-mi of being the one who lied about their teacher (Do-hwi is still under the delusion that he liked her and not Dok-mi.) and that all people lie, like it’s some defense.
Jin-rak gets so antsy that he says he can’t take it anymore, and starts to get up. But Enrique stops him, whispering, “She’ll speak. She has to.” Dok-mi wrings her hands the whole time, growing more and more agitated. So do the boys, waiting and waiting, wondering if they need to step in. Finally, she gets up and speaks.
Dok-mi:It was hard for you? Should I be comforting you? Should I say sorry? Transfer? How could I bring up a transfer to my grandmother who was barely holding on, waiting for me to graduate? The rumors that grew more each day, the lies, the looks that turned me into trash—that’s poison. I ate poison every day. DID YOU NOT KNOW?! I was dead then. I’m not pretending not to know you now. That girl isn’t here anymore! SHE’S DEAD! SHE’S GONE!
Do-hwi breaks down, crying that Dok-mi was always stronger than her, but she needed other friends, to be accepted and not an outcast. Dok-mi: “Was I not enough for you? It was always just the two of us, but I was good with just you. More than ten friends, or a hundred, you were enough for me.”
I think it’s that realization that finally sinks in for Do-hwi. Enrique smiles in this bittersweet way to himself, sad but proud of her for finally saying it.
Dok-mi goes back home, and though she’s still shaking, she sighs in this way like she’s finally let go of a burden. Enrique approaches her carefully, and presents her with a cup full of dull pencils, saying that the best time to sharpen them is when your heart is feeling pointy.
He tells her try it—to think of each dull pencil like her bumpy heart, and as she sharpens them, her heart will calm down in the process. So she gives it a try, whittling them by hand as she thinks of Do-hwi, while he watches over her with a smile.
She walks him out to her door, and they promise to say good morning from their windows. She thanks him for being by her side today, and he counters that she was the one who stayed by his side, holding up his bandaged hand.
He tells her to go inside, but she lingers and declares, “I want to try going outside. Out into the world.” Yaaaaaaaaay!
He’s so happy he just grabs her in a hug, holding on for a good long while as he says they have so much to do now.
They say goodnight, and he starts to walk down the hall, turning back to look one more time. This is the moment that kills me: instead of shutting her door and running inside like she always did before, she stands there, holding her door open, lingering and wanting to see him just a little longer.
They stop every few seconds to look again, or to wave, wanting to make the day last just a few seconds longer. It’s maybe the cutest thing ever.
The next day, Enrique meets Jin-rak and the boys start blaming each other for Dok-mi wanting to move. Enrique says that Dok-mi seems to trust him, so he’s going to try trusting him one more time.
He adds a thank you for bringing her to the hospital yesterday, and Jin-rak insists it’s the last time he’ll do that. Enrique says that Dok-mi is ready to come out into the world, and is asking for help, so they join forces to try and get her not to move.
Jin-rak gets an idea that involves their neighbor lady (because they’re under the impression that she’s the landlord though that seems wrong by all indication), so the four flower boys come knocking on her door.
They ply her with dessert and then start ask for her help in getting the prospective tenant not to take Dok-mi’s apartment, say by raising the security deposit a gazillion times or something. She just stares blankly, wondering what she can do.
The security guard ajusshi is there to stop them from saying it outright, and jumps into the conversation… by confessing that he loves her? Ha, anyway, it sends her running. He tells the boys that she can’t know that they know that she’s the landlord. Enrique wonders why there are so many people here who need to hide their identities, with a sidelong glance at Jin-rak.
They decide to try and scare the prospective tenant then, and Enrique suggests that if it’s a man, they’ll tell him the building is leaning, and if it’s a woman, that there’s a nut job living next door. All eyes turn to Dong-hoon to play the part. Hee.
On their way out, Enrique asks Dong-hoon if he wants a part-time job, because he needs someone to film his talk so he can put it up online. Dong-hoon already knows about the addicts and parents talk he’s planning, and wonders if anyone will even come.
Enrique: “Why wouldn’t they, when they have the chance to see my genius, adorable face?” They try really hard not to hit him, and Jin-rak tells Dong-hoon to un-follow his tweets.
Jin-rak only agrees to come after hearing that Dok-mi is coming, though he doesn’t think she’ll come to such a crowded event. Enrique comes knocking when it’s time, and she reacts as expected, not wanting to be around so many people. But Enrique asks SO CUTELY that she can’t say no. Jin-rak’s jaw drops to see that she really came.
Enrique gives his talk and then gets the whole group to play dodgeball outside, which is really sweet. As they watch from the sidelines, Jin-rak tells Dok-mi that he’s really happy to see her outside, and thinks that Enrique invited him just so he could see her this way.
Oof, I feel terrible that he doesn’t know about them. It’s not anyone’s fault, but it makes his already embarrassing crush even more embarrassing. He runs out to join the game, draping his coat over Dok-mi’s shoulders and tripping on his way out.
Enrique’s fangirl comes up to Dok-mi and calls her by name, saying that she’ll let her in on a secret—that Enrique isn’t a person but a fairy (or perhaps an elf is better suited for imagery?). She says that Enrique has the power to make people around him happy, like he did today with all these people.
The girl says that an elf’s life is hard though, because people don’t believe in them, so he’s always lonely, but he can’t let it show because he always has to be bright. “That’s why an elf is always surrounded by light. He has no shadow, no darkness. If those things are around an elf, he disappears.”
The last part shakes Dok-mi a little, like she’s afraid of being that darkness. And I’m not sure that the girl didn’t say it intentionally that way either. Damn, if she turns out to be a pernicious stalker, that’s going to be annoying.
After the event, the foursome stands at the bus stop, and there’s this really awkward moment where Jin-rak looks over at Dok-mi with moony eyes, and then she looks over at Enrique, and this is just getting uncomfortable.
Jin-rak decides to leave first with Dong-hoon, not wanting to freak Dok-mi out with too much pressure on her momentous big venture outside. Dong-hoon sighs that if she’d care to watch his webtoon, she’d fall for him instantly.
She and Enrique spend the day out, shopping and watching movies, and she has moments of fear like when strangers bump into her, but Enrique does a good job of looking out for her. I like that he just dusts her off and urges her to keep going.
Hm, and it looks like that fangirl is going to be a problem—she follows them all day with a dark expression, cataloguing their date.
Jin-rak goes to see Do-hwi, who is at least appropriately melancholy and not her usual self. He admits that he doesn’t understand her, but he knows that being honest is difficult, so he credits her with that.
He thanks her for her liking him, but tells her to stop now. Do-hwi doesn’t fight it this time, saying that she watched his webtoon, and his heart for Dok-mi was evident.
As we watch the end of Dok-mi’s date, complete with a window meeting to say goodnight, she writes more of her work in progress:
A sunflower that smiles up at the sun every day eventually turns into a little sun. A clamshell that’s been playing all day with the ocean gets patterned with grooves in the shape of affectionate waves, little by little. Things that are ardent grow together in likeness—that woman now understands this a little.
Dong-hoon hangs out at his usual club, waiting to be called to work, when suddenly his PD arrives, dressed up in a sparkly skirt. She declares that she had a nightmare, but didn’t want to disturb his work with a phone call, so she came in person. Heh.
Some mean girls brush past her with a snarky remark about how the standards have dropped at this club, and Dong-hoon jumps in to defend her loudly, saying that her dark circles are attractive. Aw. Our already-smitten PD swoons even more.
The next morning, Dok-mi gets no drawing on her milk carton post-it, but just a note asking her to watch the webtoon “Flower Boy Next Door.” She gives it a look and sees scenes from her own life, from milk cartons to trash sorting to Enrique and Jin-rak, and the security guard’s hat rack.
She stops at a drawing of Jin-rak standing at her door. It reads:
If I put my hand there, I can feel her, hiding away behind the tightly shut door.
Is she happy in there?
Someday, won’t there be a trace of my hand here on this closed door?
Awwww. That drawing of his back at her door just makes me want to cry.
Enrique marches over a little while later, annoyed that Dok-mi missed their good morning window date, and huffing to himself.
But when he reaches her door, something shocks him and he starts frantically banging on the door and calling out for her to answer.
What is it? Did she move? She’s not inside, or at least not in the living room, and there’s no answer. Dong-hoon and Jin-rak come out wondering what the commotion is about, but then Jin-rak sees it…
Written on her door in giant red letters is the message: “DIE.”
Holy moly, thanks for giving me the creeps. Ugh, I’m still shaking the shivers offa my spine. *brrrrrrrrr* How many stalkers does a guy need before he hires someone burly to start knockin’ some heads around? Poor Dok-mi. If this is Enrique’s crazy fangirl, it’s extra annoying in that she’s messing with a girl who’s just barely started to come out into the world, over her own crazy delusions. If it’s Do-hwi (though I think that’s too extreme, even for her), at least there’s a personal reason the attack is directed at Dok-mi. GAH. Stop scaring her back into her rabbit hole, people!
That external conflict aside, I thought the episode was a really nice string of positive consequences that came from Dok-mi taking that one very important step in confessing her feelings. She thinks letting him go is what’ll make him return to his old self, but all he really needed was to know she likes him back. And it’s nice to see that the effect for her is like a floodgate, as I hoped it would be—her first leap is to put her heart out there, and when Enrique returns her feelings, she’s ready to conquer the world. It’s what Enrique says out loud, that we see happen in her life more than his—once she conquers that terrifying fear, going out into the world and standing up for herself with Do-hwi are suddenly not so scary anymore. And of course, it helps that she’s got her own personal cheering squad urging her to do the brave thing at every turn.
This is the crucial difference that makes me love Enrique, and why I’ve always been on his side from the get-go. While Jin-rak thinks she needs protecting from the world, Enrique pushes her to be courageous, to speak up for herself, to be strong, to overcome her own problems. What he wants is not to become her knight in shining armor, but for her to become the brave heroine of her own story, to face the world head-on. His speech to her about becoming like her own characters in the stories she wants to write just got me *right here.* I love that he both urges her to face Do-hwi, but stands back and waits patiently for her to speak up for herself when the time comes. It’s painful for them all, but he knows—jumping in to save her will only keep her in that scared little shell longer and longer. That insight that he has, not only about Dok-mi, but about people, is his true gift.
I really liked the bittersweet parallel between Jin-rak’s and Dok-mi’s passages, in his webtoon and her work in progress. They’re actually the most similar characters, and I thought it really nice that their writing reflects a similar way of seeing things, like the hope of leaving traces of oneself behind. (Though I thought it nice that she’s actually a step ahead, in seeing how things might grow together and change each other rather than just leaving a static mark.) It’s heartbreaking, really, to know that Jin-rak’s feelings are only growing as Dok-mi’s relationship with Enrique is taking off, and I hope for his sake he finds out sooner rather than later. It’ll crush him either way, but I want there to be time for him to find his happiness too.
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 11
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 10
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 9
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 8
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 7
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 6
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 5
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 4
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 3
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 2
- Flower Boy Next Door: Episode 1