[Dramaland Catnip] When the hero eats his words or is forced to grovel
by Guest Beanie
1% of Anything
There’s just something about the way a drama character has to eat his/her own words that strangely appeals to me. You know, when they insist that they’ll never like someone, but find themselves slowly cracking and eventually falling hard? Maybe I’m just sadistic, but I like to watch them realize that sometimes, life doesn’t quite work out the way they want it to in dramaland, and like it or not, they have to deal with their new onslaught of emotions. I like to watch how they work through their new and unsettling feelings and learn to accept them.
Man to Man was not a drama that I watched for its espionage plotline—I stayed on because I was so emotionally invested in the idea of an emotionless ghost agent who used love as a tactic and eventually found himself falling victim to that same tactic. And Do-ha herself tried not to fall by imposing a one-meter rule to keep him at a distance. I love this rule, by the way, because there’s bound to be a lot of awkward skinship and watching either party get uncomfortable with how close the other person is.
Man to Man
Watching Seol-woo slowly realize his feelings and trying to figure out what to do with them while facing the dangerous reality of a secret agent having feelings was very gratifying for me. But what I found the most satisfying was that there wasn’t a long, drawn-out process of Do-ha trying to push him away and refusing to like him after realizing his original feelings had been fake. She played him back at his own game, and chose to believe that he had been sincere at moments. It was warm and comforting, and I loved the moments when Seol-woo realized he wasn’t alone anymore.
It was only after rewatching some episodes of You From Another Star that I realized Do Min-joon had the exact same one-meter rule (not that it worked, anyway) and I laughed at how awkward he was with skinship, but melted at how he eventually slid closer to her. At the start, I’m sure he must have written her off as an “annoying neighbor I would never fall for.” Watching the detached alien who chose not to dabble in human emotions slowly learn to love again was so emotionally satisfying for me.
Healer doesn’t exactly have the “I’m never falling for you” declaration, but it’s similar in the sense that it involves Jung-hoo slowly realizing his feelings for Young-shin. As an antisocial hermit, Jung-hoo had minimal contact with people and communicated mostly with Ajumma. His dream was to move to an island without anyone else, and he definitely didn’t see romance in his future. So aside from being hilarious to watch him join the workforce as his disguise Bong-soo, it was adorable and gratifying seeing him navigating the real human world. And I loved how the reclusive Jung-hoo let her into his world and learned to love.
In Suspicious Partner, hero Ji-wook tells Bong-hee not to like him, and in an inner monologue, we understand that he was afraid of beginning something new after his previous relationship left him broken. He resolved not to let himself fall again, and pushed Bong-hee’s feelings away despite feeling something too. Breaking through that emotional barrier and realizing that his feelings for her trumped that fear was a big step for Ji-wook, and I loved that.
And now that he has finally admitted to his feelings just as she declared that she was over him, I enjoy watching him scramble to be especially adorable just to get her to like him back again. And similarly to Man to Man, I appreciated how Bong-hee didn’t waste too much time pushing him away before grudgingly letting down her guard.
Ultimately, what I like is the fact that these characters grew. They started off with some sort of emotional barrier and overcame it to admit their feelings for the other party. We all have some sort of barriers within us, be it from failed relationships, or personal insecurities, or whatever other reason. It is admitting to these barriers and learning to break free as a drama trope that warms my heart. Besides that, I am also a hopeless romantic—watching the hero/heroine slowly take down the barriers surrounding the other person, and the latter allowing them to do so, makes me emotionally invested and satisfied.
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Do you ever get that tingly, electrifying, heart-wrenching feeling in your fingers or chest when you’re watching a particular scene? Well, I do, especially when I’m watching a favorite drama catnip of mine. This one is all about watching the hero grovel for the heroine’s forgiveness, either in a funny, cutesy, or heart-wrenching way. It’s even better when she catches him at the wrong moment with the jealous ex and assumes the worst. I do not know whyyyy but it makes me so emotional! And when the hero has to chase her down, explain the situation and walk through that angst—augh, that will be the only kind of angst I ever actually like!
My favorite example of this is in the original and remake of 1% of Anything, when hero Jae-in has to chase after Da-da after she catches him with the jealous and vindictive ex when he was supposed to be with her. I love the hurt that flashes across her eyes and the way his rigid, meanie demeanor cracks when he understands that she misunderstands! And everything that follows—the angst, the groveling, the making up—is my all-time favorite thing.
The Liar and His Lover
Another great example is from The Liar and His Lover, when So-rim finds out that Han-gyul wrote her song for another woman—a prettier, older, and more successful ex-girlfriend at that. She completely cuts him off and he has no clue how to make it right. I love the angsty parts of those episodes! It’s what truly hooked me on that drama. I loved how Han-gyul was constantly looking for newer, more innovative ways to grovel—bringing her ice cream, shooting her puppy looks, trying to offer her his music—but she never gave in. I love how he was so dense and didn’t even understand what she was really, really upset about until she just told him to his face. The way he pulled her aside and told her all his feelings during their stage debut just crushed me in all sorts of electrifying tingles.
And how could I forget Full House. It was so satisfying how Young-jae was a total prick to her at first, but had the too-late dim-witted realization that he actually loves Ji-eun, then had to grovel after her. (Satisfying, though equally frustrating!) She should have made him grovel even moaaaar… but I totally loved it anyway.
You From Another Star
In You From Another Star, I loved seeing Do Min-joon chase after a blustering Song-yi after she finds out he’s an actual alien. And I absolutely adored that Suzy cameo where Song-yi has to backpedal to remind him that yes, she was still there, and yes, she was still waiting for him to grovel some more, and yes, she would forgive him… eventually.
Goong is another favorite when it comes to this trope. Shin may have been aggressive and frustratingly silent about his feelings for Chae-kyung, but no one ever made my heart hurt more than when Chae-kyung saw his camaraderie with his ex Hyo-rin and felt totally alone. And I have never felt more satisfied then when those two hash it out during those weird last episodes. See, all you had to do was kiss and communicate!
And lastly, who could beat out Ga-ryung and Gil-dong in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People when it comes to groveling. It may have been just half an episode, but I was so invested in how Ga-ryung totally set up her own fake engagement date to lure him into admitting his own feelings. I loved watching Gil-dong bluster around, finding faults in completely plausible candidates! And I loved how he lashed out at puppy Ga-ryung later but then had to grovel and make up with a hot sageuk-style kiss.
So I guess this is my catnip. I wish to see more angsty groveling sessions in contemporary K-dramas. Do you hear me, drama gods?
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
- [Dramaland Catnip] Stories featuring ordinary people
- [Dramaland Catnip] Friends turned enemies… turned friends again
- [Dramaland Catnip] Childhood loves and backstories
- [Dramaland Catnip] Bromances and girlfriends
- [Dramaland Catnip] Sibling love and fauxcest
- [Dramaland Catnip] Beta males and the alpha ladies who love them
- [Dramaland Catnip] The bad boys of dramaland
- [Dramaland Catnip] Prickly marshmallows and tsundere heroes
- [Dramaland Catnip] Reverse harems
- [Dramaland Catnip] Noona romances
- [Dramaland Catnip] Secret identities and alter egos
- [Dramaland Catnip] Disastrous first meetings
- [Dramaland Catnip] Cohabitation shenanigans
- [Dramaland Catnip] Enemies turned lovers
- [Dramaland Catnip] Crossdressing and gender-bending romances
- [Dramaland Catnip] Opponents turned allies
- [Dramaland Catnip] Marriage before dating
- [Dramaland Catnip] Swooning for dramatic height differences
- [Dramaland Catnip] Ragtag bands of misfits
- [Dramaland Catnip] Finding satisfaction in sad love stories
- [Dramaland Catnip] The magic of bad drama magic
- [Dramaland Catnip] The stinging embarrassment of thinking someone likes you… when they don’t
- [Dramaland Catnip] When the hero falls first
- [Dramaland Catnip] The angst and thrills of dramaland’s reunited lovers
- What’s your dramaland catnip? Tell us your stories!
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