226

Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food: Episodes 15-16 (Final)

It sure is hard to be Jin-ah. In trying to avoid conflict and please everyone, she sets herself up as the ultimate martyr to every cause and desire but her own. With a finale pushing three hours, there’s still plenty of angst left to plow through before we reach Happy Ending Island, because contrary to what the soundtrack would have us believe, love isn’t always enough, and maybe the person you have to forgive is actually yourself.

 
EPISODES 15-16

Joon-hee and Jin-ah argue over him telling her to go to the U.S. with him. When Kyung-sun confronts Jin-ah about Joon-hee’s plans, Jin-ah tells her that she doesn’t want to throw away everything she wants to do to leave with him. It shocks Kyung-sun that she admits to putting herself before Joon-hee.

Jin-ah secretly moves to her new apartment while Joon-hee is away for a business trip, and lies to him about it over the phone.

At work, the CEO takes Director Nam’s side on the harrassment issue (the two of them are relations) with the justification that it’s to “protect the company image.” They mobilize against Jin-ah with fabricated “evidence” that she was a willing participant, and even had something going on with Director Nam. Disgusting.

The company lawyer threatens Jin-ah that if she proceeds, they’ll use this “evidence” to flip the case around and sue her for defamation. Furious, she vows to take her fight to the end.

Joon-hee comes back a day early and finds out about her move. He turns up at her door and Jin-ah again does her deflecting and minimizing thing. He’s almost weary when he asks her why she couldn’t wait for him.

She says she didn’t want him to bail her out, and asks if it isn’t enough just to have feelings for each other. Frustrated and disappointed, he leaves after pointing out that waiting things out won’t magically bring them a happy ending.

Jin-ah confronts Manager Gong, who bullishly continues refusing to admit any wrongdoing. He says he can’t afford to lose his job because he’s got three young kids—among them a daughter.

It’s only when Jin-ah asks how he’d like his daughter to be treated as she was that he folds. She records his apology and tells him to make a public one, or she’ll release the recording.

Director Nam still tries to cow her with threats until Jin-ah points out his “victim cosplay.” Is… that it?

The U.S. position suddenly opens up at Joon-hee’s company and he’s up to leave immediately. Meanwhile, Jin-ah gets “promoted” to chief, far from Seoul, in a role created specifically to get rid of her.

The family celebrate Jin-ah’s birthday, but unsurprisingly, Mom turns things sour in three seconds by talking of getting Jin-ah suitably married. You just can’t let go, can you? She declares that she’ll never change her mind about Joon-hee, and Jin-ah has enough and leaves.

She and Joon-hee have a special birthday-date and he gives her a gift of a necklace he created for her, with the message that she has his whole heart. No, this feels all wrong. They’re breaking up, aren’t they? WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

He tells her he has to go to the U.S. and asks her again to come with him. She says that the person she’s grown up to be now, thanks to him, can’t run away with him.

He embraces her tightly as they part, and he asks one last time, “You really can’t?” Arms around him, she apologizes.

And then we fast-forward to Seung-ho’s wedding and Jin-ah’s approaching 40th birthday? Whaat? And Jin-ah has a new boyfriend? WHAT. And the guy is ugh and constantly on the phone and busy with his job and vaguely ignoring Jin-ah. I DON’T LIKE THIS. I DON’T LIKE THIS AT ALL. I mean, after all that, you chose… this? Wtf is happening in your head, Jin-ah?

She looks absolutely miserable, but to top it all off, when the boyfriend skips out of the wedding, Jin-ah looks down to see none other than the ghost of her ex-boyfriend Joon-hee, who just flew in from the U.S., looking up at her. Well crap. I think I just heard their hearts crack.

She goes through the rest of the wedding shell-shocked, and he’s not much better. Joon-hee returns to his old apartment, where colleague Seung-chul now lives, but he’s so assailed by memories of being with Jin-ah that he can’t stand it and tries to drink himself to death.

He confesses to Seung-chul that what he’d wished Jin-ah was unhappy, but seeing the reality has clearly shaken him. Seung-chul reminds him of the awful time he’d gone through when they broke up, and tells him to forget about her.

Meanwhile, Jin-ah gets friend-therapy from Bo-ra, who’s staying over. (She now lives on Jeju Island and flew in for the wedding.)

She tells her friend that the moment she saw Joon-hee, everything came back like it was just yesterday, and she barely stopped herself from throwing herself into his arms. Bo-ra suggests she throw in the towel here and come live with her in Jeju instead. You’re a good friend, Bo-ra.

Jin-ah goes through the next day in a daze, and endures another date being ignored by her boyfriend. She finally just gets out of the car in the middle of traffic and walks away. FINALLY.

Jin-ah turns in her resignation at headquarters and pays her respects to VP Jung—who is in now Executive Director Jung—for the last time. Director Jung doesn’t want to let her go, and tells her the door is open anytime she wants to come back.

Jin-ah visits Kyung-sun (who has her own coffee shop now) to both reconcile and say goodbye. She misses her, and asks if they can regain their old friendship.

Joon-hee pops in at that moment but tries to leave as soon as he sees Jin-ah. Kyung-sun makes him stay, and in the spirit of returning to how things used to be, she introduces him to Jin-ah as her little brother, and to her brother, she introduces Jin-ah as her friend.

She leaves them for a bit, and after a long and heavy silence, Jin-ah finally asks how he is. The hurt bleeds off him as he gives spiky, terse responses, especially when Jin-ah asks if they can’t go back to how they used to be before they dated.

Jin-ah leaves and Kyung-sun accuses her brother of still harboring feelings for her. In a voice full of thorns, he says that he’s like this because he can’t do anything about it.

Later that night, he turns up drunk at Jin-ah’s door and asks if she meant it, because there’s no way he can go back to the way things were before. Sober or drunk, his answer’s the same, and he calls her evil—viciously evil—before going off.

Jin-ah can’t settle down and finally goes to his place to confront him. She tells him that yes, the idea of being normal with each other was ridiculous, but she still tried, because they were sure to have future run-ins, and maybe it could be the tiniest bit less painful that way.

She asks what exactly it was that she did so wrong for him to call her evil. All the hurt she’s held in comes out as she asks what she was meant to do when he expected her to drop everything and go to America with him. That’s a very fair point. And then he went, leaving her alone to face everything.

In tears, she tells him how much she hated herself but felt she deserved it for hurting him and Kyung-sun: “Do you have any idea what that hellish time was like?”

“Why do I have to know?” he yells back, equally aggrieved. “How you lived… what has it got to do with me?” As she leaves in the rain, Seung-chul gives her an umbrella—the same one she’d once given Joon-hee.

Jin-ah tells her parents that she’s moving to Jeju (and that she’s done with men and marriage). Her mom snipes at her to the end, huffing that she and Joon-hee broke up on their own and she had nothing to do with it.

But shortly after that, Mom runs after her outside and tearfully tells Jin-ah that she did what she had to, and that Jin-ah would always have a home with them. Jin-ah regrets not being the daughter her mom wanted, and opens her arms for a hug.

The women embrace, and it’s a reconciliation of sorts, I guess. Neither can change but they’re still mother and daughter.

As Joon-hee packs up to go back to the U.S., his playlist takes him by surprise. With gathering tears, he listens once again to Jin-ah’s confession recording, and goes straight to her apartment… where she no longer lives.

Frantic, he calls up Seung-ho for Jin-ah’s whereabouts.

Jin-ah and Bo-ra enjoy a drink together after closing, and Bo-ra notices that she’s wearing Joon-hee’s necklace. Jin-ah confides to her friend that she sometimes thinks that that time she had with him was all they were ever fated to have.

Joon-hee lands in Jeju, and it’s in the rain that he finds Jin-ah again. Stunned to see him, she shelters him under her umbrella, and he asks for his one back. How she looks simultaneously longing, hopeful and afraid is killing me a little bit.

She turns away from him, but he catches her in his arms.

“I was wrong. I’m sorry. I really can’t live without you.” Smoothing her hair away from her face, he asks her to let him off just this once, and then she’s hitting him, crying, and pushing him away, but he just scoops her up, and finally they’re laughing, embracing, kissing.

From inside, Bo-ra watches them, smiling.

 
COMMENTS

You know what? I’m so relieved this show is over right now. That unnecessarily bloated, navel-gazing finale was just exhausting, and directorially self-indulgent to the point that I’ve decided never to watch another Ahn Pan-seok drama. I honestly don’t know what to make of that ending, either. After putting us through so much misery, I feel like this wasn’t at all a good enough send-off. If we’ve learnt anything over the course of the show, it is that the present is not enough for the couple’s relationship—we need to know that they have a future, and the show failed to give us that. Without any assurance that they’ve surmounted the obstacles that kept them apart before, how can we be expected to blindly trust that it’ll somehow happen now?

Emotional fatigue aside, I’m not grasping what’s really changed when they haven’t solved their problems. Or if they have, we haven’t been given a single crumb as to how. If you can fast-forward us through four years of anguish, can you not throw us a bone and fast-forward us even one more year to give us proof of their future happiness? Something that showed they worked in the long-term, that they did stay together, that their togetherness wasn’t so precarious, but stable and able to endure? Otherwise all we’ve got, again, is a chain of stolen moments where they haven’t thought ahead, and so face the same problems that then end the same way. And after all we’ve been through, that’s just not enough.

I guess the reason Jin-ah lived the last four years the way she did was only partly to punish herself. The other part is the sadder part—that she folded simply because her inner flame went out, and she was existing at the level of least resistance. It’s the cosmic, spiritual, personal price she thinks herself as having to pay to balance her wrongs against the Seo siblings, the two most important people in her life outside of her family. If she makes herself suffer as much as she made them suffer, maybe she can be forgiven—or rather, maybe she can begin to forgive herself.

This journey of her reclaiming her personhood from all its scattered places has been her character’s trajectory from the start, and we’re given a painful, authentic portrayal of how difficult that really is. We grapple with the fact that perfect reconciliation isn’t always possible, that time and change can be inexorable forces that away the people you love most. She had to separate herself from her family, realizing that they were better apart. She lost Kyung-sun, but she deserved to. She and Joon-hee needed to be torn apart for a long period in order to really understand how precious it was to be together; in fact, she had to accept that she’d perhaps lost him forever, and live with that reality every day. As a viewer, I felt the overarching lesson to Jin-ah’s character was how choice related to consequence, but I’m not so sure Jin-ah herself got this. She did gradually take back her ownership of her life and choices to some extent, so that counts for something.

I thought her eruption at Joon-hee was cathartic and necessary. I really felt her in that moment where it’s one misunderstanding too much for her to bear, and that’s the moment I was able to start forgiving her. It felt like, “Ah! now all our cards are on the table.” I’ve been so desperate for her to show genuine emotional honesty towards Joon-hee—some sign of what she’s really thinking and feeling, however messy—instead of constantly acting like everything was okay.

Joon-hee’s rarely shown to make a mistake, but the one who does really is a monster. The couple were over the moment he asked to be sent back abroad, without any reference to her at all. How could that end well? It’s a preposterous thing to dump on someone and I can’t blame Jin-ah for how she took it. Even four years late, he deserved to be called out for it, and he was equally at fault for the breakdown of their relationship at that point.

Jin-ah’s reconciliation with her mother, though touching, also didn’t answer any questions. Was she taking her hands off Jin-ah’s life and no longer going to interfere in her choices? We can choose to read it that way, but we don’t really know, especially since just moments before, she’d sworn never to back down on her position regarding Joon-hee. I’ve been continously disturbed by just how rigid, inflexible and unyielding Mom turned out to be, and I’ve really felt in the last few weeks that Jin-ah resembled her a great deal, but because she expressed those characteristics over different issues, it didn’t look quite as cruel or out of touch.

All said, this show really has always been about Jin-ah. There’s only one main character here, and Joon-hee, though significant, is still only a part of her narrative. Apart from the limp ending, Jin-ah’s trajectory has always been more than her romance. That, perhaps, is also why I’ve found her so frustrating, and I don’t know if I should be angrier with the character or the writer. I’m kind of appalled that all the four-year timeskip proved was Jin-ah’s total inability to change, and to keep repeating the same mistakes. (Seriously, what was that boyfriend?! What a regression.)

The best and worst of this show has been in the intense (and sometimes harsh) realism of its characterizations, but it didn’t adequately answer any of the character conundrums it set up, and that’s why I’m unwilling to attribute that realism to genius or design. If it had been intentional, it surely would have seen some resolution, one way or another? I’m really dissatisfied in particular with how the workplace harassment storyline was wrapped up (or rather, wasn’t). What an injustice to such a vital thread. It wasn’t just that the issue was timely and important, but it had been handled with such nuance and promise until then. Then came the CEO’s sneering U-turn, the shutting down and skimming over of it all while the women were left fuming and divided, and the men all having each other’s backs—it all feels to me somehow like we’re looking at an ugly and unbearable parallel of how the show itself came to feel about it. I just can’t get over how they didn’t even bother showing us what happened, after all that.

It’s a shame the second half of the show was so depressing, but I guess we’ll always have the first half (which was practically perfect in every way). You can’t argue with chemistry, and if there’s anything our couple never lacked for, it’s that. And Bo-ra’s support. I love Bo-ra so much! Now I’m going to go imagine them into a future of island sunshine, happiness and a handful of adorable babies.

RELATED POSTS

Tags: , ,

226

Required fields are marked *

This show proved to me that chemistry alone doesn’t work for me. I need a story, not necessarily a solid one, just more than what I got to see here.
I had to drop it halfway. I think of reading the recaps later when I forget my disappointment. Thus many thanks for your work, Saya!

16
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

i second all of this. thanks for your work, saya, and thanks for phrasing this weird feeling so well, gulsan!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for the recap. As you say we will always have the perfect, breezy and heart warming first half of the drama. As to the realism of the second half - I think it was intentional in all respects (including the harassment storyline, it was chillingly realistic even in its "resolution"). You don't get permanent happy endings with everything resolved in life. You don't change overnight and sometimes not even in 3-4 years. The life is not perfect but you live it.

16
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Rubbish!
If I want realism, I'll watch the news.
What I want from my drama romance is a cornucopia of tender moments, heartbreaking jolts, thrilling kisses, sob-inducing endearments, perfect reconciliations and *happy ever after*!
Absolutely nothing else will do. :(

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

This drama, particularly that ending, was so frustratingly disappointing that I don't even wanna think about it. Swearing off all future dramas with this writer.

8
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Even the breezy cute moments can't make up for this crap.

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I am utterly disappointed with this show😠, even more than I was with "Personal taste", which I also had to fast forward sometimes because it was silly. And believe me, I was utterly disappointed with Personal taste, but again... Lee min ho doesn't mean anything to me, and at that time I hadn't even watched very good dramas such as "I hear your voice" or FWKBJ... or masterpieces such as Mother, JBL and my Ajusshi... so you can imagine what it means to me now to be so disappointed about this show.

Does Sohn Ye jin has a karma? I heard she does great in movies but fails in dramas... well, she failed here, I am afraid, and she brought my beautiful Jung Hae in down with her. Now I don't even feel they should date for real... no no... chemistry is not enough.

I watched parts of this finale raw and I was left with no even the desire to watch it subbed, because... why???🙄

Such a disaster. Nothing solved... nothing.
It was like, ok, we got to get them together at the end because we need a happy end, but .. It made no sense.

And the music!!!

I know it is not fair to compare...I know I should not, but I have been listening to my Ajusdhi OST and all the songs, all of them are good.
Kinda mediocre dramas like "reunited worlds" had a couple of good songs I still listen to.
Pretty noona didn't have any, not even one song I want to listen again. Nothing. On the contrary, I hate Stand by your man.

Aggghhrrrrr I am upset. Why do I rant?? They don't know me.

I still like Jung Hae in, though. He has charisma as an actor, which the director of this drama didn't know exactly how to use, let alone the writer.

And Sonh Ye jin is gorgeous and I can sympathise only by watching at her, but then again... I couldn't like her character and for me she never grew up here. On the contrary, she became even worse by the end.

I am so disappointed... sooo disappointed!!

I will watch again my ajusshi, so that I can get back on a good mood.

Sorry, beanies, that I am ranting so much. I really want to remember something positive, but I can't...

This drama left a lot to wish for, and the writer sucks.

10
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

You know I was put off just by the premise of a Noona falling in love with her best friends younger brother who she has known basically all her life! I mean wouldnt you see that kid as your own younger brother?? UGH! Although I havent watched single episode, I did follow the recaps and boy was I glad I didnt give it the time of my day!

I have finally gotten around to watching Ahjusshi! Kicking myself as to why I didnt start when the rest of you did.

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh yes, in the long run my ajusshi was the best,THE BEST, out there. But even if you feel is late, you can read the recaps and get some perspectives after watching each episode. There is so much to talk about!!!! I want to watch it over again 😍.
I will, after I recover... LOL😂

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Still... thank you, @saya for putting up the good work and recapping this show for us... really, like, inn the last 6 episodes or something, I felt it became such a difficult task... But even more of a reason to thank you for that. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊

9
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Such a disappointing ending to a show that started out so good (actually, this drama started to go bad several weeks ago). Unfortunately, I felt that none of the couple’s issues were resolved and that a future breakup was imminent. Even worst by the time the ending credits rolled around, Jin Ah and Joon Hee were no longer a couple that I even cared about. I also didn't buy the mother/daughter reconciliation and I expect the mother to be the first plane to Jeju to throw another temper tantrum if she even had a hint that Jin Ah & Joon Hee had reconciled. While probably realistic, I also was disappointed that both Jin Ah and Joon Hee had moved on during their breakup, with Jin Ah entering into another serious relationship (one which was more to her mother’s liking and standards). Since I don’t see Jin Ah ever leaving Jeju Island to go to America with Joon Hee and I don’t see Joon Hee ever moving to Jeju Island, I expect that eventually both will just move on from their relationship. Overall, a very disappointing drama.

And as I've mentioned before, my other takeaway from this drama is to NEVER patronize Coffeebay as they support sexual harassment of female employees by male employees. Unfortunately, none of the sexual harassers suffered any negative consequences for their actions. Not the message I was looking for from this drama or its sponsor, Coffeebay. Quite a cop-out.

10
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't stick around to see the sponsors. So CoffeeBay is a real company in Korea? They gotta know that this ending is not the message they want to have attached to their brand. If I were CoffeeBay CEO, I would push for a second season to rectify that *wink wink* and rectify this ending for our leads. I really want to see Jin Ah open her mom's eyes. Mom was driving me nuts being so directly cruel to people she claimed to have affections for.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, Coffeebay is a real company, which is why I was so disappointed by how the sexual harassment storyline played out. Overall, sponsoring this show could not have helped their brand name. Coffeebay also has several locations in the US. And you didn't even have to stick around to see the sponsors at the end of each episode as the company that Jin Ah worked for was "Coffeebay" and the boss was the "Coffeebay" CEO. Not good publicity for Coffeebay....

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you Saya for sparing my time and frustration...

(I still love the first half, especially the end of episode 3... the hands under the table... and the moments just before... 😍)

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

that hand-holding moment was pure gold !

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Jin Ah and Bo Ra were relationship goals tho 😆

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!

What a big disappointment this drama turned out to be. I loved their chemistry and how adorable they were, BUT the plot was so bad at the end!!! the female lead made me feel so upset more than once and at the end she didn't learn anything?? I haven't finished the drama and I won't!!! I'm sorry but I can´t do it. I'll feel that I will waste my time.... this is a shame really, I had faith on this drama....

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

+1 on not finishing this drama and not feeling bad about it

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you Saya and Laica for the recaps. I'm sorry that it turned out to be a stressful watch for you. I put this drama on hold a few weeks ago, fully intending to catch up later, but ended up changing my mind based on what I read was happening in the show.

As giddy and lovely as the romance was in the beginning, I think I could've been okay with Jin-ah and Joon-hee breaking up for good (depending on how it was done)-- but what I absolutely cannot bear to watch is Jin-ah ruin her friendship with Kyung-sun. That was sacred to me.

I'm also disappointed to read that the sexual harassment storyline was resolved so unsatisfactorily. Of course it's realistic to expect a lot of pushback, but I was hoping that there would be a positive outcome in the end with an empowering message. In a couple of the other Ahn Pan-seok dramas I've watched, the message has been more along the lines of "when you stand up for what's right against powerful forces, you'll pay a high price and suffer for a while, but in the end, you'll prevail and be happy". I am sorry to hear that you're swearing off of Ahn PD's dramas altogether, Saya. I'm mad at the writer, but then again I didn't watch the finale that you found to be so "directorially indulgent".

For anyone who wants to try a more empowering and consistently lovely Ahn Pan-seok drama, I recommend A Wife's Credentials. (And the soundtrack is awesome in that one!)

9
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@risaa, it got to the point where I just FFed through all the moping scenes. Mope mope mope. All it did was take the ep to 90 mins for NO reason. It didn't add any emotional depth, or if it did, I didn't care about anyone anymore so it just irritated me XD

8
reply

Required fields are marked *

So disappointed. This should have been the noona-slayer to slay all noona-slayer dramas before that. Instead, we got a dysfunctional mother who took way too much screen time and an heroine who lied at every turn. The sexual harassment storyline was such a nice topic to approach in the light of the #Metoo moment but they just dropped it like that. I wasn't expecting all the men responsible to lose their jobs (let's be real, it is rarely the case unfortunately) but at least something.

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

+1 on "This should have been the noona-slayer to slay all noona-slayer dramas before that".

it started sooooo well ! for shame!

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

A quarter of the way into episode 15 was when I realised how truly exhausted Jin-ah was by all of this. Ground down by life in a way you can only by trying to make everyone happy and inevitably failing. Being a people pleaser has worn her out to the point she doesn't have the energy to give to anyone any more, even her closest friend. After her conversation with Kyung-sun, I suddenly realised - if you excuse my language - she literally had no fucks left to give.

12
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think she would have saved her spirit had she moved away from her mom sooner. She's almost 40 years old! If they had a great relationship living together, that's one thing but they were at each other's throats every time they were near each other. I was expecting her to be the one to initiate moving out but it turned out to be her mom...AND she comes back and takes more grief from her mom on her birthday. WTF? I don't get it.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

My initial reaction to the break up was that it was so unnecessary and could be avoided if Joon Hee hadnt assumed Jin Ah would leave with him. But after having time to process my thoughts and watching a second time, maybe the 3 years apart did them good in the sense that mom appears to have mellowed (i think and hope?) and perhaps saw how miserable she was with her pedigree bf who was a complete ass (but I hate how mom would have gloated at the breakup and the fact that Jin Ah actually submitted to her). But what troubled me was how Jun Hee was so angry at the whole situation which he brought upon himself and how he basically bailed when things got tough. What happened to not being able to live without Jin Ah and never giving up on her no matter what? I dont get how he was able to cut her out of his life completely when they couldnt bear to be apart from each other. And all the broken relationships that resulted....poor Kyung Sun had it the worst. She lost her 'family', brother and best friend. At least Jin Ah still had Bo Ra on her side. Although they ended back together, it seems like nothing was truly resolved. They went right back to square one if I misread the whole mom situation. Also, they reconciled over a conversation about umbrellas! It seems like Jin Ah's outburst had no effect on Joon Hee whatsoever. I get confused about the time line sometimes especially when Jin Ah seems to relocate so easily. If the phone recording had not played (I will omit talking about how farfetched it is that the recording is still available), they probably wouldnt have gotten back together? And how quickly the sexual harrasment case got glossed over after all the focus on it. We get that she was the victorius party, but what actually transpired?

2
9
reply

Required fields are marked *

I got to confess I made my comments before reading through Saya's comments as I've been brewing inside ever since I watched the ending and couldn't wait to let it all out. But Saya really summed up everything I felt and more. I would still recommend this show for all the swoon worthy moments, and the acting especially Son Ye Jin was top notch. The first half of the show was so good that it could perhaps make up for the crap we got in the second half.

6
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Someone suggested earlier that the writer should have married them off earlier and then show how they grappled with the world —especially her mother— and resolved their issues. It would have been better I think.
The drama was good up to episode 8. After that it was so frustrating to watch.

10
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Not sure if this is the appropriate platform but I would love to hear suggestions on how they should have resolved the problem of mom hating on Joon Hee. I've been critical of the way the show ended, but if asked what they should have done, I can't really come up with an answer. I'm not Korean but I'm not unfamiliar with the Asian upbringing. My father threw a fit and threatened to disown my sister when she mentioned that she was seeing someone of a different race (an 'inferior' race as deemed by dad).

1
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

So this is my family: someone marries her HS sweetheart—who now is a divorced dad of two kids because he married someone else out of HS. Mom made him cry before the wedding. GMa refused to go to the wedding. Aunts, uncles, and random people flew in to try to stop the engagment/wedding. Relationships are still being repaired as I speak. I warned her it would be hard but if their love was strong and she was stubborn enough, it would work. It has, but not without a lot of heartache and some really expensive plane tickets!

1

Make sure that love is strong, build up a support network outside of home, and move far far away from the source of her constant stress - MOM.

1

re: marrying them off
that is indeed a fantastic suggestion, Maria Selena! Too bad the Writers didn't think about it...

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Jin-ah's brother told us something along the lines of "Jun-hee's goodwill once lost is lost forever", which is to say that unlike Jin-ah he's able to cut people completely out of his life. Remember he has a father who cuts and runs at the first sign of conflict and Jun-hee showed himself repeatedly to be stressed out by conflict.

I find it interesting - mildly interesting - that Jin-ah avoids conflict but stays in the room and endures it, while Jun-hee equally avoids conflict by going away to a place where that conflict doesn't exist.

There are two things that are telling about the ending. The first is that Jin-ah has essentially jettisoned all the things that were causing conflict in her life - her family and her job. By moving to Jeju Island and quitting, those conflicts are gone. While Jun-hee has decided for the first time to try to reconcile with someone he had cut loose from his life.

The second is that all this was done in a yellow umbrella moment. So, will they work out? Who knows? But they have a better shot the second time round.

14
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

You're probably spot on in your assessment of their behaviours. It's just that they made me want to throw my shoe at the screen with their actions. I still love them as a couple but....arrggh...all that unnecessary angst.

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

red + green = yellow.

don't think anyone else has noticed that beside you. she (and he to lesser extent) had to grow as an individual and stand on her own two feet, without having to rely on a man for support. Before she could truly be with him. Otherwise she'd have been a drain on the relationship.

Relationship was meant to be of equals, with neither wanting to hurt the other, but repeatedly doing so as they hadn't matured.

In the end, she had finally grown up. She fought her battles and made her stand with everyone, coffeebay, her mum and junhee.

But sadly this message was inconsistently portrayed. by stupidly having her growth backtrack by giving her a stupid boyfriend and few other moments.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Disappointing and Meh. That's it.

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Two good things happened in these final episodes:
Jin-ah got out of her boyfriend's car and walked away.
Jin-ah said goodbye to her job and her parents, and went to start a new life.

So many other things were just bad.
It was bad that she pretended to love Joon-hee, but actually recognized that she put herself first.
It was bad that she lied to him while she was renting the apartment.
It was just bad that she turned her back on Joon-hee twice at the wedding, then ran after him.
It was bad that she suggested they could go back to not having feelings for each other.
It was bad that she stomped over to his house to tell him off for calling her evil, carrying on about how much she had suffered and how hard it was.
It was bad that after listening to her love confession from years ago, Joon-hee decided nothing mattered except to be with her.
(Pause: Did anything change? Did she stop putting herself first? Did she learn to care about someone else's happiness?)
And it was bad that Joon-hee did the apologizing, while Jin-ah did the punishing.

I feel like there's something wrong with this writer's view of women, or else she just was very cynical about Jin-ah. She could have a dream romance, but she couldn't handle real love.

Still wistful for the better drama this could have been.

6
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I wish this was a show about Jin-ah putting herself first. When she said that, I was briefly hoping it was going to be true. Because she was right - not that she took her own advice - just because she loved Jun-hee doesn't mean she has to subsume her own interests. She is allowed to put herself first. But then she proceeded to... not put herself first.

Also I'll point out that her so-called best friend in that conversation was angry at her both for wanting to be with Jun-hee and for NOT wanting to be with Jun-hee so she literally couldn't win.

6
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

She did put herself first. She did exactly what she wanted. She chose her place and lived there. She pursued her complaint and stuck out her transfer to the shipping depot, because that's what she wanted, to show everyone that she wasn't giving up. She dated some loser who was pleasing to her mom, because that's what she wanted. She had a miserable time, but she stuck to her choices. And then she blamed everyone around her for her misery. So pathetic.

Was she allowed to do all of that? Sure, but with consequences. And one of the consequences should have been that the guy who gave her his whole heart, who wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, who was ready to live with her, should have realized that he deserved someone who valued him as much in return. Should never have come back four years later like a moth to a flame, ready to do anything to be with her again.

7
reply

Required fields are marked *

Putting yourself first doesn't mean you don't love someone...
I really don't get why JN gets all the bad rap when JH is guilty of the same things. He basically dumped her and left for US.
I think she was the mature one in these last few episodes.
To me, the show portrayed both people as 2 very human humans, with faults and all, that were very much in love.

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think my reactions to this show will be told in vignette-style random comments over several hours because Jin-ah spent these last two episodes saying exactly the opposite of what she meant.

I stand by my statement that Jin-ah is the most everywoman I've ever seen on TV. To the point where I don't know why the writers and the PD told the story - unless it's to completely depress us as to the current state of feminism.

The whole conversation she had with Jun-hee in episode 15 where he was saying "Let's start afresh in the States" and she was saying "No, I want to fight", I was grinding my teeth in frustration. Because it was what I wanted to hear and because I had the tantalising hope she'd learned her lesson. But I suspected that he was actually saying "Let's run away from everything" and she was saying "No, I want to endure" and both those positions are not just in utter opposition to each other - they're also both the wrong response.

Fast forward 4 years, I was hoping to see some sort of change in her but she'd actually doubled down on people pleasing, making herself utterly miserable in the process and wearing herself out so much that she wanted to thrown in the towel on every part of her life.

I had a conversation with somebody in another forum where they said everything would end up back where it was at the beginning with no change. I argued that to do so would be saying that for women there's no way out of this sexist and misogynistic culture.

This show has very much been about how women are forced to compromise and put up with abuse because of hierarchy, age and social status and that they are then judged harshly for exactly that. That is, that women are forced to be complicit in their own mistreatment. One of the main messages of the drama is that continuing to compromise is not the solution. if Jin-ah doesn't come through this ascendant then the drama will be saying that woman have no way out of this sexist and misogynistic culture. I find it hard to believe this PD would head a show with that message. Like with Secret Love Affair, his female characters only win by fighting back - even if that means they have to lose first.

Well I'm eating my words because that's exactly where we are.

And on that note, her awesome female Boss telling her to remember that she's "prettier when she's cheerful" was the most f'ing depressing thing I've seen on television this year. Women being told they have to smile and be happy no matter what's happening in their life is the gold-standard for our global martyrdom and she just got put in that box by the one woman who was supposed to be the standard bearer in this whole damn show.

And one second after she ran from her job from pure exhaustion - after being told to smile by her one supporter - she got told she was "the winner" by her Boss even after he told her that nothing had changed. He literally says "Nothing...

17
8
reply

Required fields are marked *

has changed around because they don't know you're the winner". And I wanted to throttle everybody because if they don't know she's the winner then she's not the winner. But the male employees can't order the female employees to wash their coffee cups anymore - progress!

This has got to be the most depressing thing I've seen since Misty told us a woman can only have success if she destroys men and she won't be happy anyway when she does it.

I was depressed enough about the world before I watched this.

16
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

Right? I unfortunately don't have enough time to write the lengthy comment on everything everyone's said, but my takeaway from the show was basically that life was depressing. I agree that Jin-ah is pure realism to a fault, but that itself is why the show fails - because you don't watch the grinding misery of her every day only to be told at the end, yup, this is it, everything sucks forever. You start at a point of known wrongness, but the drama is meant to right that wrong. Storytelling creates the template for the futures we wish to see (unless it's some kind of noir, obvs), and this show just built its tower halfway and then effed off. For god's sake.

A note on the translation of what Boss Jung said - 'cheerful' sounds like a netflix translation. The SITR fansubs translated it as resilient, but '씩씩하게' (sshiksshik-hagae) could also have been translated as tough, brave, enduring, courageous - any of those. It's not as pallid as 'cheerful' and I found those words touching. She was basically telling her not to back down and that she's at her best standing and fighting. I love that message.

17
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh, thank you. That is far better than the translation 'cheerful', which just made the whole thing more depressing.

Honestly, this show was like watching a movie about women from the Middle East. Like Osama or something. You can fight all you want or try to fit in all you want but in the end, you mostly lose. All you can do is try to find a small bit of personal happiness in the middle of it all. Sucks to be a woman, hey?

If the traditional definition of a tragedy is that it starts off well but ends badly and a comedy that it starts off badly but ends well then this is officially the world's most depressing comedy since Dante sent all his political opponents to hell.

5
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Um... I live in the Middle East and I'm not sure what you're referring to here? Can you explain??

3

@vipsky4796

That'll teach me to make blanket statements about large, diverse geographical areas. I should really know better. Mea culpa.

I was referring to films like this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osama_(film)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadjda

But of course that is all balanced by articles like this
http://variety.com/2017/film/global/more-arab-women-directors-finding-their-voices-through-film-1202032886/

which portray that overall perception in a more positive light.

6

Ah thank you for the links! I've actually never even heard of these movies before but that's probably because I'm not into western movies/TV shows. I was always and anime/cartoon person till I found Kdramas xD
I am lucky enough to have grown up in a place where the situations described in both movies were never a reality. It does form a disconnection for me tho. I see people talking about how oppressed women in M.E are in a very "black & white" way but the reality is much more "gray". I mean there are both bad and good things here. I'm not gonna deny that there are issues but it's not all bad here is what I'm trying to say.
And wow the link of the article you shared, I had no idea so many women were into making movies.

8

@vipsky4796 @leetennant
XD I switched off my computer because I couldn't deal with it last night XD Like, are we talking about movies white people make about women from the ME? Because those are LOADED with ENDLESS problems I would need to write a thesis to get into (see: the discussion under Man Who Dies To Live for the bit about orientalism, but also, compound that with the terrorist narrative). I mean, I've lived in the ME (pre-Arab Spring), and I promise you I did not see any repression beyond the 'ordinary' difficulties in being a woman. Women live normal lives, doing normal things, whether that's work, study, family life, or anything else. And there are women who are as bold and fierce as others are quiet. There's no existential dichotomy between women in the west and women in (the non-war-torn parts of) the ME as far as I could tell. We had different experiences and expectations, but those were a result of the cultures and societies we came from. It's difficult to be a woman anywhere in the world, what's different is the nature of the challenge we face. But the fundamental causes of it remain the same, unfortunately.

I appreciate your clarification, though @leetennant, and thanks for the links!

5

I remember her female boss saying to Jin-ah that she is "prettier when she is confident." That makes more sense to me.

I didn't watch Netflix's subs on "Noona." I prefer stroppyse's translations @Soompi or V and friends @Drama Milk.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Later that night, he turns up drunk at Jin-ah’s door and asks if she meant it, because there’s no way he can go back to the way things were before. Sober or drunk, his answer’s the same, and he calls her evil—viciously evil—before going off.

Actually, he called her 'mean', 'really mean'. And this is my comment about how awful it was having Netflix subs for this. I'd say this was the worst thing about trying to watch this show but that was the soundtrack.

Netflix makes me want to learn Korean.

5
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I know the word used (못된/motdwaen) but it was hard to pick an appropriate translation that transmitted how harshly the word cut her, because it's that word that tortures her after he goes. I started it off as 'wicked', then 'cruel', but it didn't feel quite right, so I went with the fansubbers' choice (which also didn't feel quite right). It would most accurately probably just be 'bad'/'disgustingly bad', but then it doesn't transmit the depth of injury the expression causes her.

Making choices is hard!

6
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

LOL, I was criticising the 'mean' translation. According to Netflix he says "you're mean, really mean!" and then she's so upset at the word that she tosses him out of his drunken stupor to say she didn't deserve to be called 'mean'.

And then I read your translation and it made way more sense. Because as an insult 'mean' just sounds so juvenile.

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

oops, I must've been too hungry last night to read the irony! But at least I got to whine about how hard it is to choose how to say things!

also netflix subs are the worst

but they are better than nothing

but it's *because* of them that the alternative is 'nothing'?

it's a vicious cycle

okay, I really am too hungry I'm going now bye

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for the recaps, Saya and Laica! I did stop watching it earlier because I just couldn't take the episode lengths, but I loved reading your recaps and comments. Too bad the story took a dive after such a promising start. Fingers crossed that the next one you guys recap will be one you love to the end!

4
16
reply

Required fields are marked *

I hope so! I need a good show to love! I think it's time to dig into the Vault of Dramas Past.

I'm open to recs of romances/rom-coms that are fantastic beginning to end, with bearable and reasonable angst, if anyone's got any!

3
15
reply

Required fields are marked *

Did you ever get to try Nirvana in Fire? Totally not a rom-com, but good if you need a palate cleanser, and it's fantastic from beginning to end.

Recent dramas that left me completely satisfied with romance: Chicago Typewriter (fantasy romance), Go Back Couple (time travel romance).

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

NiF is on my list, but I haven't got around to it yet. Oh, hm, I actually haven't watched either CT *or* GBC (I meant to, didn't get around to it!). I'll push them up the list! Thank you!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Now that I can cover. The trick will be finding one you haven't seen probably:
Girl's Generation 1979 (not too old actually but short and oh so good)
Queen In-hyun's Man (first kdrama I saw that I felt the leads actually treated each other as equals. Very epic love story)
Bride of the Century (super cheesy but somehow works. The fantasy elements actually make more sense than you would think and has a good pace in revealing it all)
Healer (as much love as this gets I probably don't need to say anything lol)
Sparkling (weekend drama with a touch of makjang, but the characters arcs are done really well and had me rooting for them all)
Arang and the Magistrate (great world building and charming leads)

I can go on if none of those peak your interest or aren't new for you...

3
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oooh I need to go back and finish GG1979. I loved the first few eps but I got distracted by life!

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Definitely worth it!

2

oo, I've seen most of these, but not Sparkling - I'll look that one up! I mentally can't quite handle anything longer 24 eps, so I hope it's short!

GG79 I watched the first ep, but I've realised that this particular type of 'period' drama just doesn't work for me (I don't know why XD). I wasn't a big fan of AM97 either, and consequently didn't even try the following two.

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ah, you're going to have a heart attack seeing the episode count for Sparkling then lol

Aw, that's too bad about GG 1979. I haven't watched any of the AMs or Replies but I don't have anything particularly against period dramas. They're on my loooong list of to watch.

Hrm, then maybe:
Dream High (acting is green but somehow works)
What's Up (a better acting Dream High and a little more serious but fun too)
Three Musketeers (another short and sweet drama. Pretty clever combo of Korean history and the book. Though I guess sageuk would count as a period drama)
Weightlifting Kim Bok-ju
Flower Boy Next Door (Enrique is a favorite male lead for sure)

0

I could recommend some but I'm sure you've seen most of them?

I loved Heart to Heart and Marriage Not Dating and a really obscure Taiwanese one called Love of Sandstorm which is called Love Storm on UK Netflix (it might seem a bit weird in ep 1...)

2
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

MND, yes, HtH not yet! I'll look up Love of Sandstorm (I hate netflix subs! is it on viki?). What would you say are its best points?

1
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think it's only on Netflix, which is why nobody has seen it.

Instead of saying what the best points were, I was going to just link in the squeeling by people who followed my advice and watched it but it was too hard to find them and I gave up :-)

I think the writing in it is very tight and it's unlike any Taiwanese series I've ever seen (with a very obvious wink towards kdrama). It's about two brothers and a sister who have to deal (or not deal) with their parents going through marriage difficulties. Some fascinating characters: the youngest brother is obsessed with aliens, the sister is into Brazilian martial arts and the older brother is totally under the thumb of his gf.

The different takes on love and sexuality are interesting (and refreshingly frank) and if you need a final reason... it's only 8 episodes.

1

And I'm waiting for the Theme of the Month to be : favourite female characters, so that I can write an essay about why I love HtH

0

I went from My Husband Mr. Oh to this show and had to run back there for some comfort. That's a great recent one if you haven't watched it. I also second Marriage Not Dating - the soundtrack still lingers in my head! (If I hear "Stand By Your Man" one more time I may tear my hair out...)

4
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I heard a lot about terrible angst, terrible mothers, and mid-show makjang on Oh Jak-doo - was it bearable? I love the leads, but wasn't sure I had it in me to take two horrible mothers at once XD

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

The mother was terrible, but I think Pretty Noona's mom was a lot worse. Also you don't have the sexual harassment angle to add to it either. The separation period was kinda dumb but thankfully you get at least 2 episodes of them working things out in the end so not as painful as Pretty Noona. Also the Eric Cho character is pretty great :)

4

lol @ "Stand By Your Man" song. It was good for 1 rendition and then just racked on e v e r y o n e's nerves!

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

This story started out with so much promise but once the mother drama started and it became apparent that the boss was as much a jackass as every sexually harassing male in that office (the only one exempt from that was the puppy subordinate), I was exhausted, I put off watching the last few episodes for a week and I just saw it yesterday. I wasn't going to watch it but my lil' sis wanted to talk about it so I had to.

Their romance was so disappointing, not just because they spent so much time apart, but because they'd really already lost their spark before they even separated. It started when they stopped communicating. When Jae Hee tolerated the mom's antics and didn't discuss it with Jin Ah, It continued with every lie Jin Ah carried out to please her mom and hid from Jae Hee.

Her mom achieved her goals of separating them not because she was stronger or right but because they were no longer a solid front, they were no longer bullet proof glass, they were a pretty stained window so fragile that it couldn't withstand a direct hit, even as the pretty colors tried to hide the damage.

If they had communicated effectively, They could have had a long distance relationship so that even if he had left for the US it could have been to prepare a future for them and she could have stayed in Korea a bit longer to deal with her mom and show her true independence (she might have left the house but she was still dependant on her mother's opinion).

Another thing that I disliked was that somehow Jin Ah was always saying sorry and asking forgiveness and Jae Hee was always swallowing his anger and always gave in to her, but they never ever really talked about the whys.

On the work front: She could have actually been a lot smarter about the sexual harassment case and fought it tooth and nail instead of enduring it and following her female boss's advice when that boss wasn't someone who had the experience to back the advice. When she was told to smile by that same superior, I was depressed, must women always "grin and bear it" why? why? why?

When the jackass boss said that she won even if no one knew it? yeah right that wasn't what it felt like to her or to the viewers, she didn't win, she was "promoted" and sent off to a branch office so as not to encounter the guilty party, she endured there for a time until she was no longer able to and in the end she had to quit. how was that winning? being told condescendingly to talk and eat with the jackass one more time because she "won?" I was so over this story.

It did not fill me with hope for the women in the world, the ending where they meet again and argue about some umbrella wasn't cute and it was too little too late.

I no longer cared for anybody by the end, which is too bad because I love Son Ye Jin and Jung Hae In possibly had one of the best characters last year as Batman Cop so I was really excited for this drama where it seemed he would finally get the...

12
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I stopped after reading the raw recap of ep. 11 on Drama Milk by the kind @veeee (who, at the time, was 2 eps ahead of everyone watching this show live). It all seemed to head in the wrong direction (one lacking any hope whatsoever), so I gave up.

re: when told to smile -- as a young girl, I was often told by people to "smile more" to be more approachable, etc. When I grew up, I learned that "smile!" was code for "be more pliable to the world's expectations of you as a woman! Be more what WE want you to be!" ; micro-aggression at its finest.

It's a shame that the "Me Too" movement in this show was reduced to nothing...

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I liked Bo Ra at the end :D

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

So I havent watched these last two episodes but after reading the recap, I'm really not sure I want to. What a crap ending!! This has got to be the most disappointing drama of 2018 and more so because I loved it so much and was raving about it the first 8 episodes. The second half was just plain disappointing. Like Saya said, it can be realistic and portray real issues but the issues should be dealt with properly at least!

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Saya, thank you for the recap. A frustrating last two episodes. They both ignore one another on the strairs. WTH !? Mom says Joon-hee is never to set foot in their house! Moving to Jeju was one of the highlights. Bo-ra was another. The show didn’t convince me at the that all was well between Jin-ah and Joon-hee. The writer bungled what should have been a piece of cake. The acting was fine, the plot however, limped across the finnish line.

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Never thought I'd be happy that real life got in the way of my kdrama. I saw the first few episodes of this and liked it. I put it on hold to focus on real life and decided to just binge-watch. It was divine intervention for I have been saved from wasting hours filled with no resolution and just frustrations. Whew! I guess see you next time Yejin unni!

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

the ending was just so wimpy, i couldn't believe it...

i felt like there was no way out, no way to remedy the direction this story went, especially after ep 15... but i had to torture myself and finish the series.

in this case, it wasn't like the last 10 minutes of Fashion King and the major WTF moment we all had... this was an hour of WHERE ARE WE GOING WITH THIS????

and it ultimately went to jeju and nowhere, actually. so sad... i really liked this drama most of the time. i'll just concoct some fan fiction ending -- wait, i can't even do that because the story got so convoluted around halfway or 2/3 the way in....

i'll try to remember the cute moments, and there were some really CUTE MOMENTS in this drama...

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the recap!

Hope it is ok that I am going to repeat some of what I wrote on open thread. I have been wanting to talk about this show for so long!

I have such a different take on this show.

I think both JN and JH were both very human, faults and all, and behaved very much like two people in love.

I don't understand why all the hate is put on JN. She was a people-pleaser, but she was also remarkably resilient given all she had to put up with. I think she mostly behaved maturely, not allowing herself to get dragged down, and plugging along with her life. That is what an adult has to do in life.

Also, JH basically dumped JN by leaving for America. He made that decision without ever talking to her. Kudos to her for deciding to be independent. He was pretty paternalistic to her overall, nice and loving, but his occasional patronization to her would have pissed me off. Also, he lied to her as much as she lied to him.

I don't know if it was lost in translation, but the reason I heard for her not telling him about her move was that she didn't want him to pay for it. Pretty paternalistic again, if he thinks she has to take his money.

I liked that she kept her own apartment, stayed independent, and stood up to her parents in a mature way. She stood her ground without getting angry. She made it clear she wasn't interested in marriage and would do her own thing. And she also made it clear why. She didn't apologize or hide about that. And she would have kept seeing JH if he had stuck around.

I loved that she said all that to him also. When she got mad at him, I was like, you go girl!!! He really deserved to hear that. He had no right to be mad at her. I thought her maturity shined through, whereas he behaved like a pouty boy.

I thought moving to Jeju Island was also a step toward her independence. It made total sense to me.

I did think that the whole last 2 ep where he left, they broke up and then how they got back together was a bit contrived. It was kind of a cop out to create some conflict and resolution. Him leaving seemed very out of character. I think the writer could have done better on that.

But overall, I liked the characters, I liked the story, I liked the pacing, and yes, I even liked the music. I didn't like the mom personally, but as a character in a drama, she filled an interesting role. I don't have to like all characters, as long as they work in the story.

I thought JN grew alot; I am not so sure about JH.

So I give a big thumbs up to this drama.

8
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

I read your comment in OT! I'm really glad to read your perspective, and I hope more people took something positive away from the show.

I actually really try to avoid ragging on a show in recaps. I feel like it creates a hostile environment for people who *do* enjoy it, and people should be able to like what they like freely. When a show drives me bats, I end up having two 'versions' of my comments - the original angry version, and then the reasonable, rewritten version after I've gone and cooled down XD

4
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks Saya! I actually do the same, and I almost never rag on an actor or actress.
I love the opportunity to analyze the dramas, and it is fine for people to have different opinions, as long as it is all in fun!
This particular drama had many interesting angles for me, and I had such a different take on JN that I just had to write about it!
Thanks for the recap!

5
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank *you* - the conversation's always richer when people bring different opinions. I'm still fighting the universe about Temp of Love, which nearly everyone ended up hating, but I love to pieces and find very nearly absolutely perfect XD

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

while I did drop the show, I agree with you @kd6606 : in this case, my disappointment was not in the actors/actresses (as a matter of fact, I thought the casting was great!) but in the Writers and the Plot.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Taking abuse from everyone without protesting does not equal maturity. Nor is it a sign of maturity sneaking out of the same house you pretend to respect, to secretly meet a man.

I think we have been blinded to the true nature of Jin Ah and that of the drama itself by the candle-lit cinematography, the unprecedented amount of skinship and the lovey-dovey scenes, but if we look at it from the necessary distance, the picture portrayed here is that of two immature people who are mainly hormones driven. I behaved like that when I was 17. In fact, the plot would have made much more sense if these two were much younger and had to grow into real adults, but depicting a 35 year old woman who can't face a confrontation even when it is thrown at her face and a man who'd rather stomp away is NOT, no matter what country or culture, a mature, adult scenario.
Wanting to touch and be together at every given chance is normal, is human, is relatable, but it does not pertain adults alone, on the contrary!

From the get go, I wondered why everybody was so mean towards Jin Ah. She was told she had to behave, was not obedient enough to the family, too obedient at work, always creating trouble. At first, I thought she was just an unlucky bee in a nest of obsolete wasps, but after a while I began asking myself where all the mistrust in her choices came from. Was it a pattern of her?.
When the psycho ex bf did what he did, instead of talking clearly with her family she simply hid the truth and apologized. Is this how she has lived all her life? It seems so, given the way she kept on hiding trivial and important facts to everyone, including her best friend and the man she said she loved. If so, her mother's behaviour, as over the top as it was, acquire a slightly different weight, because we are to infer her daughter has never been honest with her, or any of them.
A mature person would either agree with the rules and follow them, or would think “this isn’t right”, “this is my life”, “that’s too much” and break free. Not at almost 40 though!
But no, she keeps on living like an obedient child who isn’t that obedient after all. And when someone suggests she could actually become independent and live her life, she whines.

I want in no way offend you: you can love the drama and its characters all you want of course, but calling Jin Ah - of all characters - “mature”, made every fiber of my 50 year old female body rebel. Sorry.

7
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ha! Thanks for the response.....it is fun dialogue
I have to preface all my comments on kdramas, as, this is kdrama world. It is also a different culture than mine, so I don't actually judge dramas on certain aspects. Every kdrama has adult children (including old and self-supporting) sneaking around, hiding their relationships, and not being honest with their parents, or listening quietly while an 'adult' berates them. I actually thought this drama dealt with that in a pretty upfront manner, and JN (and JH also) confronted in a much more straightforward manner than I have seen in many other dramas. (I apologize if I have been too plain-spoken here...I mean no offense to anyone, just the English major in me coming out Ha! )

So, I guess, while I agree with many points you make about real life in my culture.... in the Kdrama world, I thought she stood up for herself quite a bit and in interesting ways.

All fun and good conversation!

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, this is fun! (Otherwise, why would I be here still talking about a drama I'd rather forget?)

In my humble opinion, the cultural aspect isn't that important here. No matter how realistic or common the premises of this drama may be, there's always room for individuality in fiction. And, as you rightly say, this is drama world, so I simply hoped the writer had given us a better message than this depressing slice of life where nothing is solved.

But, enough with my rant. Let me echo you: interesting conversation! :D

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I thought I would just pause this show while the plot focused on the crazy mother, but Jin-ah ended up being the villain of this show for me. As a writer, you advocate for (or at least condone) the behavior you reward, and while Jin-ah wasn’t exactly rewarded for her horrible decision-making, she didn’t end up losing Joon-hee either. (Don’t even get me started on the crazy mother.) I reject “but it’s realistic” as a reason for showing, and especially rewarding, bad behavior. It’s fiction, and you choose what to show in the story. If you decide to show people carrying out deplorable actions and you don’t set them up for substantial consequences, you’re basically arguing in favor of those actions. I loved the first few episodes of this show, but now I think it’s even worse than “Cheese in the Trap.”

8
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

The Mom was violent and hateful. The actress, Kil Hae-Yeon, did a wonderful job as a miserable person.

6
reply

Required fields are marked *

@lindl everything you said! Thanks for crystallising what I found so problematic in the way the show treated the character/plot development, but couldn't quite put my finger on to express. Gah.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

yup! at least I finished "Cheese in the Trap" !

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hmm, I think sometimes when you show deplorable actions without consequences, it's not arguing in favor of them, but showing how life is sometimes: unfair and unfortunate! However a romance k-drama heroine who you're meant to root for is not the the person you want to see this happen with, for sure!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Summary:
Joonhee and his sis are sweethearts who deserved so much better.

Jin ah's pathological lying makes her frustrating to be with.

Jin ah's Mom is human filth. Sometimes I wished she was real just so I could slap her senseless.

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I always love your recaps...can you please write recap on lawless lawyer..

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks Sunshine! I actually barely held myself back from begging for LL (even though I got burned by Oppa in CM - he is STILL in disgrace), but I'm actually really tired and busy, so I'm taking a break for a bit. If you go check out OT, there are peeps discussing it there, and in one of the last LL posts (link to be found in OT). Have fun!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

This show had everything going for it until episode 8. After that it just became excruciating to watch Jin Ah AND her mother. Joon Hee’s devotion to Jin Ah was so palpable BUT communication between them was just so bad. Jin Ah kept lying and skirting around basic issues that should have been settled while Joon Hee kept “barrelling” along, persistent in showing his devotion but also deciding on his own on important matters affecting them as a couple.
If not for the earnest acting of our OTP and their chemistry, I wouldn’t have patiently watched till the end, which was so contrived and such a letdown.
SURE, we got the happy ending but at such terrible cost. Maybe a season 2 written better would work.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks @Saya for a masterful recap and review. You've captured what bothered me about this show from almost the beginning. The important things were not spoken about but forgotten or glossed over. There was no real growth in the OTP relationship. One moment they were brother's friend and noona, and next they were a couple, and that's all they remain, as far as we can see.

I had higher hopes for the workplace harrssment thread, but I see that it came to naught.

I'm glad I did not continue watching this. I only caught the last episode and read your recap, and that's good enough to know that I missed nothing great. Thanks so much for continuing to recap this even when you were highly annoyed and tired out emotionally by it. I'd have stopped and walked away, but you're made of sterner and more responsible stuff. 😋 I've never taken note of producers or directors before, especially in order to avoid their work. I wonder if I should take a leaf from your book over this. 😆 Cheers!

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you so much @saya and @laica for taking time to weecap "Noona"<3.
It's good to have a place to vent, rant, fangirl etc over "Pretty Noona."

I have such mixed feelings by the end of the show. I really enjoy some parts of it and some fell short.
I think mixing all the realistic fluffy love story and the other realistic social/cultural issues didn't work quite well. It was either one or the other but PD Ahn was being PD Ahn. Gotta have something controversial to work with which I usually love but not with this writer.
Her strength was the romance.

I'm glad it was successful for the cast and crew who worked hard and happily behind the scenes.

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Watching this was like getting tricked into a networking scam. They make sweet promises to get you to invest your hard earned money, make you taste some sweet little profit in the beginning then when you thought you have hit the jackpot, they rip you off of everything you have and just disappear without a trace!

Love both the actors but this could’ve been better.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think this drama is very realistic in the way that in the most of the time, people don't really change. After 35 years to live in a certain way, it's very hard to change even if there is a great boyfriend. It's often easier to live like we are used to be even if it's far from perfect than to enter in unfamiliar world. She tried a lot and failed a lot too.

It's different from the drama because the heroine is not saved by her love story like other drama where the rich jerk becomes a cute teddy bear. It shows that in real life it's not enough, life is more complicated.

But yeah... I prefer to remember all the lovely couple scenes and forget the frustrating part :p

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the recaps. The show had its high and low points with many viewers frustrated with the ending episodes. A few may think the show will be remembered for style over substance. I went back to see how the original story was promoted, how it was presented, and where it may have gotten lost or changed by viewer expectations.

Long post alert: I will break my thoughts into sections for discussion purposes.

THE CASTING & ORIGINAL STORY SET -UP

In a recent interview, PD Ahn said he wanted to work with SYJ. He felt that she was the best actress to play a mid-30s woman at the centerpiece of this realistic drama. “That’s why, from the very beginning, I thought that there was no one else for the leading role of ‘Pretty Noona’ but Son Ye Jin. I only contacted one person [for the role], and it worked out. She decided to take the role even after seeing all the negative sides to it.” He added with a laugh, “I was really surprised.”

SYJ said she also wanted to work with the director. Her fellow actresses gave him high marks. And when she was recruited for the series, PD Ahn promised he would do things so she could meet her goals. As a result, the series was shot more like an independent art film. There were little wasted scenes. And the mood on the set was fun but professional.

SYJ is a professional. Her reputation is to immerse herself in her characters. She was aware of the negatives of JA (her life, her decisions, her mistakes, etc.) He claims the scripts were all read in full in October, 2017 (but does not say if the scripts were changed in the end).

In initial filming before the premiere, JA’s character was described as a hard working person with a lonely personal life where she stares at empty bottles of liquor. She is a typical South Korean woman in her 30s who feels emptiness in her heart because she doesn't feel accomplished in either career or love which every woman around her age can empathize with.
"Son Ye Jin is showing so much motivation and effort as she is always holding onto her script and having numerous discussions with the director on expressing her character more fully. She is doing a great job in portraying Jin-ah's change of emotion with her detailed acting and really becoming the character. Everyone should be expecting great things to come out of this drama,” a staff member said.
At the beginning, JA’s situation can be summed up as follows:
1. She is 35 still living at home with her parents.
2. She is going out with a terrible BF who has cheated on her after she slept with him (meaning she was serious about the relationship but he was not).
3. Her mother is pushing her to marry the terrible BF because of his status and JA’s age.
4. She is stuck in a dead end job subject to work place harassment and takes blame for others’ mistakes.

JA character is a meek, introverted, weak, hard working but repressed follower of society norms. She really does not talk about goals or a future. It appears she...

8
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

@welh, it looks like part of your comments got cut off due to the character limit -- please post the cut off bits, I'm dying to read the rest XD

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

@welh
Thanks for taking the trouble to put so much narrative info and character analyses here for us. I take it these are your own detailed thoughts? They are impressive and interesting, but all sections have been cut off. Please give us the rest of each section!!!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Son Ye-jin is an incredible actress. That's the reason why she is the princess of Chungmuro.

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Agreed! (Haha is the queen JDY?) SYJ has always been a good actress since her early melo days, and has progressed even more in recent years. Her performance in The Truth Beneath in particular was just enthralling.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, Jeon Do-yeon is reigning queen haha.
Son Ye-jin seems to be on the film's best actress nomination every year.
In films she is not just known for a particular genre like melo in dramas.
She does well in different genres.

I think I get why she wanted to play Jin-ah. She is the opposite of her real self but still relatable.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sorry, did not realize about the character cut off:

JA character is a meek, introverted, weak, hard working but repressed follower of society norms. She really does not talk about goals or a future. It appears she has resigned herself to an unhappy life because she is trapped in a culturally oppressive and socially conservative paternalistic world.

The show was always set up to be JA’s journey to self-awareness and independence. It was meant to be a realistic sad story.

What hooked viewers in the initial episodes was the chemistry between JA and JH. It was an unintended consequence because it masked the original story line and theme. PD Ahn stated in that recent interview that the theme of the show was the simple question:

“Are we really in love?”

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Whoa, I saw that as a thought in there, but definitely not an overarching theme!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

THE INITIAL CHEMISTRY

If you look objectively at the beginning of JA and JH’s romantic relationship, it was a quick and burning passion. The reason for JA was simple: she was coming off a dead cat bounce relationship with her cheating ex-BF. Since her mid 20s, JA had been groomed by her mother to go out with a certain kind of man (one of status, means and upward mobility). JA’s only hope with these blind dates was that the man would “like” her. JA went out on those dates not out of a search for love but obligation to her mother. JA must have seemed that this current ex-BF was her best shot since she was serious enough to slept with him but his betrayal left her bitter, angry and alone.

JH returns to Korea after 3 years in USA. He is friends with JA’s brother, SH. He knows SH dates many women (because of his looks and charm). He knows he has a stubborn temper. JH is young and carefree in YOLO life style. JH grew up without parents so it appears that he is still harboring abandonment issues. He had dated many women in the past, but apparently could not get beyond 3 months (which is interesting since the 100 day mark in Korea is a milestone of a “serious” relationship.) He is charming, attentive, but also selfish, temperamental and paternalistic.

In a chance timing of motive and opportunity, JH returned to Korea after three years, and the first cute woman he saw he went after (surprising himself that it was his noona.) The surprise flirtation and familiarity was the spark to set them on a quick path to become lovers.

JA and JH get caught up in the mystery, excitement and secrecy of their romance. So did the audience. It was clear that JA and JH loved being together. It was an infatuation.

Attraction? Yes, they both complimented each other about their appearance.
Escapism? Yes, they both were coming back from negative experiences to find comfort in each others’ arms, away from their daily grind and problems.
Infatuation? Yes, the hot and secret aspect of their intense and short lived passion for each other.
True love? No. Even though viewers were caught up with the initial passion, the couple’s relationship was foreshadowed to be doomed. As reality encroached on their secret life, real serious issues arose between their family members and friends which the couple did not or could not discuss and work out together.

How each character viewed their relationship was telling:

JA did like the fact that a younger man found her attractive and desirable. It may have been a long time since a man approached her (instead of through blind dates). She wanted to keep it a secret because she knew it was all merely fun: companionship with benefits, not a serious relationship. Also, JA wanted to keep it secret because she knew the negative ramifications to her family and friendship with KS.

However, JH did not want to keep it secret. This showed his naivety. His character always lived in the moment, not thinking long term...

10
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

The part that got cut-off:

However, JH did not want to keep it secret. This showed his naivety. His character always lived in the moment, not thinking long term consequences of his actions.

Their relationship turned into a cliche teenage crush. And as the episodes went on, there was no intellectual, emotional or spiritual growth in their relationship. They never discussed a shared future together.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

THE MIDDLE CONFLICTS

The greatest problem with the story was JA’s interaction with the people around her. It was an intentional portrayal. She was an apologetic follower. She rarely stood up for herself. Her decision making was mired in self-conflict, self-doubt. She thought the world viewed her as a commodity and not as a person or a woman.

And this was embedded in how she dealt with her personal life, including her affair with JH. The series lacked deep discussions between the characters that is the foundation for serious relationships.

JA was conditioned to be subservient and accept what others told her.

What were the major issues in JA’s life?

1. Her mother’s desire that she marry the “right” man. But after a serious of loser boyfriends, JA had basically given up on a chance to meet Mr. Right, someone she could passionately love while be acceptable to her family.

2. Her job was becoming more unbearable. The demands and blame she took for other workers mistakes were mounting. The harassment of her by superiors was intolerable. She was in a dead end job with no real chance of promotion.

3. She had few friends. KS was her best friend who she could confide in. It seemed that JA had a hard time making new friends. When she does make a close friend, she tries hard not to break that bond, even it means hurting herself in the process.

4. She has a maniac ex-BF who wants to get back together or ruin her life.

How did the couple “work” to resolve these issues? They did not. JA and JH were merely apologetic to JA’s mother about their relationship, but did nothing to convince their families that they had a future together. JH did nothing to help JA resolve her work place issues, or support her if she wanted to change career path. JH brought JA to meet some of his friends (on the overnight trip) but JA did not do the same. (this shows JH was more into the relationship than JA). JH got jealous and violent about JA’s ex-BF which contributed to conflict between them because he did not discuss beforehand with JA his actions.

The breaking point was JH demanding that JA come to him to the US. Of course, JA said no. She felt insulted that JH’s solution was to run away from problems. (Not to mention that it would be impossible for JA to suddenly move to the US with no job, no spouse, and no money with the country’s current immigration policies). JH solution was that JA would be there for him. He was angry that she rejected his solution. He never understood her position, her feelings or her long term goals.

The couple’s initial passion glossed over several important aspects missing from consideration on whether this was heading toward a serious relationship or “true love.”

1. Communication. Their communication was superficial. They did not discuss important issues or ideas which represents mutual immaturity. They never opened up to each other on what their personal goals were (job, career, changes, etc.) or how they...

12
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for sharing! Love your observation.

I vaguely remember Son Ye-jin saying that this drama will also show the different stages of love. I do appreciate your comment on "true love" which should come after the initial thrill,passion and confession etc around eps 7/8.

So basically they were on their way but didn't quite make it because reality hits and instead of working together through it, one wanted to run away to America and the other wanted to be independent.

A more realistic ending for me would be Jin-ah living the single life (happily).
There wasn't enough time for her to stay independent after declaring it to her parents, her boss and KS before Jon Hee showed up with the rain at her doorstep.

In reality, more and more women in Korea are embracing single life and some thinks that marriage is not necessary.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sorry for the cut-off:

1. Communication. Their communication was superficial. They did not discuss important issues or ideas which represents mutual immaturity. They never opened up to each other on what their personal goals were (job, career, changes, etc.) or how they wanted to achieve them. They never really understood the other person's emotional state, and they never deeply discussed how the other person felt in a given situation. I recently read a psychological study that concluded that many people told “white lies” early in their relationships as a means of making themselves more “attractive” to their partner. Usually, those minor lies were used to build up a person’s self-esteem or enhance their traits (prospects) to the other person. But in JA and JH case, those lies were meant to hide the truth and real feelings (under the fabrication that they did not want to “hurt” the other person.) Instead of talking things through, they glossed matters over and then began to mistrust each other. The each called the other “childish.” They could not talk to each other about serious matters because they were caught up in the teenage aspects of a romance fairy tale.

2. Compatibility. Sympathy, friendship and like-mindedness are critical foundation blocks to any serious relationship. JH knew about JA’s situation at home and at work, but his support for her situation was tempered and distant. He wanted to control the situation. Likewise, JA did not seek out his advice on how to find a solution to any of her problems. Also, JH did not ask JA for advice on his work, his options or his troubles. JA and JH knew each other before dating, but there is no evidence that they were “friends.” Friends have mutual interests, concerns, ambitions, support, trust, varied experiences to share. JA and KS had serious discussions as friends. JH and SH had serious talks as friends. But JA and JH never had such a connection because such “real life” discussions would have interfered with them hanging out together and having fun as a new, care free couple.

3. Commitment. JA and JH never discussed the big things like their expectations, marriage and family life together. JH’s solution was unilaterally demanding JA move with him to the US. He never asked her hand in marriage. Some women would call this behavior selfish, inappropriate or “clingy.” JA’s solution to move out of her house so she could continue to date JH but not live with him showed that she was not ready to fully commit to him (she would later say she had things she wanted to be independent to become strong.) They never had the heart-to-heart discussion of “making plans” together as a couple. Even though both are adults, they both had serious maturity issues.

When JA and JH had their sudden break-up, there really were no reasons why they should stay together. They never really moved on from the initial physical attractiveness stage of a relationship. What was really odd was the fact that JA and...

8
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

When JA and JH had their sudden break-up, there really were no reasons why they should stay together. They never really moved on from the initial physical attractiveness stage of a relationship. What was really odd was the fact that JA and JH never said “I love you” to each other. “All I need is you.” “I want to be with you.” “Buy me food.” These are all requests to serve my personal needs not the language of lovers. The relationship was doomed because they could not effectively communicate, be compatible or fully commit to each other.

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Looking at it from this perspective, changes my view of the Show completely. I paused it at ep 10.5, but I believe I can go on now.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

THE ENDING

The ending is controversial because it seems forced to meet viewer or network expectations.

What is telling is that after their break up, they spent more than 3 years a part. They did not speak to each other. It seems they ghosted each other. They never tried to reconcile or get back together. JA friendship with KS ended. SH and JH drifted a part, but probably kept in indirect touch through mutual friends (who told JH that SH was getting married; SH did not invite him to his wedding -- he crashed it.) Each began dating other people, signaling the official end of their relationship. JA was a dating an A-type businessman, but she only thinks “he likes me.” She is nearly 40 with no other prospect to have a traditional life. She is a wilted wall flower with no self-esteem.

JH returns to Korea on vacation. He is still working in the US. He shows up at SH’s wedding which surprises JA and her family. We can tell that at the moment, JH is filled with regrets (feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over what had happened with his missed opportunity with JA). JH sees JA with another loser boyfriend so he thinks he has to save her. JA’s response is awkward shock at his presence which is a normal reaction for a person who has experienced a bad break up without any resolution of the underlying issues. BR reminds JA that she gave up on JH and she got over him. BR tells JA that it would be a big mess if she rekindled any feelings for JH.

JA goes to see KS after a long time. She wants to try to get back their friendship before going out with JH, but appears irreversibly broken (since the break up led to JH leaving KS alone). This is a hollow offer to renew their friendship since JA is looking for closure of the pain she was part of with KS. Then JH shows up, and there is an awkward conversation that shows that JH is still upset with JA. She offers to go back to being the way they were before dating (family friends), but that is also a hollow illusion that both KS and JH do not accept. JA met KS to cut ties cleanly so she could move on. The same is true with JH. After JA leaves, JH confesses to KS that if he wanted JA back, he could have done so before now.

JA decides that she has to completely cut ties with the past. She breaks up with the new BF. She quits her job. She tells her mother she does not want to get married. She decides to leave her mother’s sphere of influence to move to Jeju to work in her new best friend’s coffee shop. She wants to end the cycle of people controlling her. Her independence is now the most important aspect of her life. .JA tells BR that she has no regrets in breaking up with JH because their relationship could only go so far by “fate.” In other words, JA believes finding her true love is beyond her control.

When JH shows up in Jeju, JA’s initial reaction is anger at him. JH wants her back, but she pushes him away. He hugs her which upsets JA. JH tells her that it was all his fault, that he is...

9
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Your comment is not complete. The comment under also...

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sorry for the cut-off:
When JH shows up in Jeju, JA’s initial reaction is anger at him. JH wants her back, but she pushes him away. He hugs her which upsets JA. JH tells her that it was all his fault, that he is sorry…..”I can’t live without Yoon Jiin-ah.” He asks her to give him a break.
Then he hugs her a second time, JA calms down. He lifts her up and they kiss.

Then suddenly, there is an image of the couple hugging on the beach during sunset.

But are they back together? Is this really a happy ending?

At best, it is the ambiguous ending that I was expecting for the series.

There are three possible conclusions which we have to imagine since we have no information or dialog to support:

1. JA swoons over JH’s hugs and they are immediately back together again to pledge their lives together (the fairy tale ending).

2. JA comforts JH as he rekindles the good memories of their relationship, but she has moved on with her life and will tell him that he has to the same (the adult way to end a relationship).

3. JA and JH are caught up once again in the passion of the moment and spend the last few days of JH’s vacation together like honeymooners until it is the time JH has to go back to America (the second chance ending with the same resulting break-up.)

At this time in JA’s life, would she abandon her newfound freedom and independence to run away with a paternalistic JH? Or would she temper her past infatuation from JH’s attention to allow her to comfort JH’s pain of regret so they can officially break up as adults? Or would she just want to relive a passionate affair for three days with no expectations or strings attached?

5
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

The ending episodes were all about “closure” for JA. She went to KS not to renew a friendship but to finally close it. She quit her job to close the harassment issues behind her. She left Seoul to close the book on mom’s dominance over her life. And seeing JH in Jeju was the same opportunity to close the book on him since he was returning the US in three days, the issues of their break-up still unresolved, and they were never heading toward talking a real future together. The last scene was the nostalgic reunion but not a serious change in the JA character’s path. JH asked for forgiveness, but forgiveness without an acknowledgement of what you did wrong is not an apology. A couple of hugs is a reminder of their mutual escapism from their work and family issues. Walking along the beach at sunset represented the end, closure of their time together.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

OBSERVATIONS

The theme song, “Stand by Your Man,” was a critical component in the series.

If you listen to the song lyrics, to be a proper woman, you need to love just one man; do things you don’t understand; have to forgive him if you don’t understand; be proud of him; always be there with physical hugs and keep giving him all the love you can.
It was a controversial song. Feminists hated it. American Singer Tammy Wynette in later years defended the song as not a call for women to place themselves second to men, but rather a suggestion that women attempt to overlook their husbands' shortcomings and faults if they truly love them (and in fact, the last line in the final verse says "after all, he's just a man")
Permissive subservient tone of main theme song runs contrary to potential growth in JA’s character. Perhaps this is why JA finally had to rebel against the norms placed upon her by her family and work.
Two things were obvious in the final episode: First, JH is still in denial over break up. Asking for forgiveness without an acknowledgement what you did wrong is not an apology. Second, JA has come to the realization that her happiness comes from her own independence and not the society’s requirement of marriage.
The Conclusion:

The story was about JA. How she was conditioned by parents and society how to act and what was expected of her. The theme song promotes the stereotypical female role in a conservative society. She is an anti-heroine which is different kind of k-drama lead.

The on-screen chemistry masked the underlying story of JA. During the BTS videos, we see SYJ having a deep understanding of her character as she overrules the director and JHI when they suggest more passionate scenes. For JA, she has had a series of mom-approved BFs but she has not learned or experienced what true love is . . . she is a novice based upon her meek and deferral personality. Normal people may have dated often, but may be really bad at it since they may not understand how to love another person. Or, if you are unable to love yourself, you cannot love another person.

The vast amount (80%) of viewers were women. They were taken in by JHI: his looks, mannerisms, smile, charms and acts of playfulness with JA.The female audience was captivated by JH as being an “ideal” boyfriend. So the focus of the viewers turned to the couple instead of JA. JH character was not fully developed; we only knew that he was abandoned as a child (mother died and father left to start new family), his charm brings him many dates, he is impulsive and temperamental; he has an overbearing sense of paternalistic protection. He has had plenty of opportunities to find true love, but he can never commit.

The side stories were to highlight JA’s daily obstacles and how her coping mechanism had been to ride the riptide of unhappiness so she would not get hurt too badly. She took the abuse because that was expected of her. The irony of the promotion for not...

9
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sorry for the cut-off:
The side stories were to highlight JA’s daily obstacles and how her coping mechanism had been to ride the riptide of unhappiness so she would not get hurt too badly. She took the abuse because that was expected of her. The irony of the promotion for not rocking the company boat resolution
was when JA confronted those problems, we expected her to change - - - become stronger. But it was muted, much like the resolution of the harassment claims.

JH side stories were minimal and poorly written (example, as a employee of a game company, worker hours are massive 20 hour days, high stress environment with extreme deadlines). We do not see any growth in JH’s carefree character. He never looks to see the big picture. Perhaps he sees JA as a woman he can control without having to commit to marriage (as one would expect of women in their early 30s who would have dated him).

As the series went on, viewers started to hate JA’s character and actions towards JH. It appears that this was intentional as PD Ahn acknowledged that SYJ took the character and her story knowing about the negatives. JA may never learn what true love is; her parents seem distant; her best friend KS was never shown in a relationship; and her series of boyfriends were never described as being in love with her. An immature teen couple may think that physical love is love. Being in a physical relationship does not necessarily mean the couple is in love. In the BTS videos, SYJ’s position of keeping JA from being immersed in passion with JH was a signal that JA’s character never truly thought that JH was a long term solution for her happiness. JA wanted the excitement of being the “bad girl” as an attempt to regain her lost youth. But when JH got more involved in the relationship than JA, JA started to sabotage it with white lies and demands to push him away. This push-pull without actual honest communication doomed the couple.

7
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

There is a fine line between romance and love. Romance is a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with the search for love; an exciting, enjoyable love affair, esp. one that is not serious or long-lasting like a summer romance; or a wild exaggeration; picturesque falsehood. The series captured that mood. However, this romance never developed into a deep, intense, serious relationship with long terms goals.

But that is how realistic the show tried to be. Relationships require hard work to be successful, but sometimes even all the effort we put into our romances just isn't enough and they eventually fizzle out.  Of course, it's only natural to wonder why you keep striking out when it comes to finding a lasting love. Romantic relationships are a two-way street and it's up to both people to make it a prosperous one. However, we can only control our own part in a relationship. And it helps to know who we are as individuals and what we each need and want from a relationship. It can be hard for us to admit that sometimes we're the reason for the disintegration of a relationship. 

If the ending was trying to convey the notion there is always a second chance, that is an illusion. Second chances rarely turn out well. The reason is simple: you broke up for a reason(s). The pain of a break up can erase the initial feelings of attraction and love. Hate is a powerful emotion. In this situation, both JA and JH have not come to terms on the reasons for their break up. They have not shared what each needs or wants in renewing their relationship. Both of them deeply hurt the other - - - and that pain is still unresolved in each of them. One hug cannot wash away those emotions.

7
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

The element of rain was important symbolism. Rain represents life and rebirth. However, rain also represents storms and floods (damage and destruction). When JH holds an umbrella for JA, he is subconsciously protecting her from the storms in her life. When they are running and laughing in the rain without an umbrella, it is a youthful expression of freedom.

Both JA and JH had moved on from their past relationship. Both still held resentment against each other. For JA to fall back in the arms of JH in Jeju like nothing happened it would validate the lyrics of “Stand by Your Man,” the antithesis of JA’s character growth. I am bothered by the ending sparse dialog. “I can’t live without you” is not the same as saying “I love you.”

That is why the ending is frustrating: the story has only viewer assumptions of the conclusion. That is why I think the ending shown was not the original one. It was a sudden reversal without an explanation; a rushed decision to appease the audience (or a misreading of the audience since a great number of commentators would have preferred a clean break up and the characters moving on).

The show had its moments and iconic scenes. The acting was quite good. The direction (especially shown in the BTS videos) was good - - - it showed the detailed craftsmanship of the actors to realistic movement and actions over the weaknesses in the script/dialog. It could have been a better story if we had serious couple discussions to show the inner feelings of each character and their development to help explain and resolve their conflicts.

9
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hi, i read your entire review about the drama. This has all the things that i wanted to say. Can i post it as a review on dramalist? I wanted to write a review there but unable to gathered my mixed thoughts. The credit is yours.

2

Fascinating analysis!

3

Thank you very much for your analysis! It is a complex drama and that's why we can find so many opinions and perspectives. I keep on thinking about a lot of things you wrote, especially all your comments related with JA's character. I think I need to watch this drama again!

3

@Yeo-ri.
Yes you can post it if you like to.

0

Glad I dropped this one. No need to watch something that will make me destroy another tablet or go on a fan-fic writing binge to correct what could have been a fantastic story of a woman standing up to all kinds of stupidity and hatred. I already know too many women being marginalized, mistreated and oppressed by family, coworkers, and so-called 'boyfriends'. 'Nuff already.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

If you guys are interested, we just released a podcast episode discussing the #MeToo movement in Korea and its impact on k-ent: MEN BEHAVING BADLY. Come and listen!

10
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you sooooo much for this link, @saya! :D
I've more than pleasantly spent the last 1 and a half hour listening to these three - at times 4 - clever women talking of highly interesting and complex matters without ever being bored or overwhelmed by the issue raised.
It was also great to hear them mention scriptwriters who they think deal with relationships in a different, far from predictable way, creating decent heroes and complex heroines.
Truly loved this podcast, thank you again.

P.S. They mention Pretty Noona too, and it was kind of sad to think perhaps some of their enthusiasm would soon be diminished. Or maybe not... who knows. ;-)

2
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you for listening! Do check out the other tracks -- we cover a lot of topical issues in the 'Long Yak' episodes as well, i.e. in the first Long Yak we talk about Radio Romance and problematic heroes, at the 50.25 mark. In the 'Secret' Drama Deep Dive, we talk about abusive heroes, specifically with ref to Ji Sung's char in that show (where Odessa Jones joins us again!).

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I certainly will, thanks for the tips!
I confess: this was my first time listening to a podcast... *blushing*

P.S. So, if Laika is Anisa and Odessa joins you, you're Pogo? :)

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

nope, I'm still me (Saya)! I didn't take part in this one, due to an inability to realise that I *always* want to join an interesting conversation XD I'm in the other ones I linked (the one with the brit accent)

2

Yay, thank you for listening! (This is Anisa.) I'm so glad you enjoyed it, since it's a difficult and complex topic and we wanted to make sure to cover it sensitively but honestly (and we truly only scratched the surface - we could have talked for hours!).

Yeah, I think at that point I'd only seen the first few couple of episodes of Pretty Noona. Sadly that faith in the writer on my part ended up being very misplaced. :/

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, the subject is neverending. Literally, since we are now in the 21st century and still have to discuss it.
As an "older" drama watcher than many, I was often appalled by the popularity some dramas get among the young girls (see for instance that gratuitous and offensive insanity that is itazura na kiss in all its versions), but I suppose we are all more or less guilty of enjoying things we would stay well away from in real life.

Anyway, keep the good work and thank you again! :D

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

So true, I'm always amazed at the popularity of Korean BOF, which as we discussed is the most problematic adaptation of the manga.

<3

0

Comment was deleted

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I have nothing to add to your final comments, which perfectly encapsulate how I feel too. We sure did have fun during the first half though, didn't we? Thanks again for taking on the finale. <3

6
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

being noona-partners-in-crime has been one of the highlights of my writing life! Let's do it again soon (and hope it ends better, lol)! <3333 x1000

4
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

noonas-in-crime? that sounds much better.

we're here to handle all the noona-killers so the rest of you don't have to ;)

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Whatever we call it - it was one of the highlights of mine, too! Let's absolutely do it again <3333

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

You know... at the end they didn't address so much that aspect of the age difference between the leads, so that I didn't feel it was too much a noona romance, but Jung Hae in is a noona killer... that there is no doubt. Only the writer decided she would not be his victim, but she is a victim of herself... Does it make sense??
Anyway, I also really hope, with the next noona romance (hopefully a normal one), you guys can take over the project together. 😉
Greetings!

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

I’m writing this while seeing these series on netflix( I’ll stop at episode 10 I think). This. Had. So.much. Potential. (Sigh!!)

Thanks so much @Saya for weecaping this.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Bailed on this one at Episode 5.
I think it was somewhere between Episode 4 and 5 that the lying began to wear thin. Saw the writing on the wall and thought to myself that I can't watch a show with a female lead who can't be honest about the man she's sleeping with. Particularly with a mother like that. If the show's consistent, all of that will come to bite them. And apparently it did.

Switched over to marathon My Mister... talk about a great K drama decision.

On a personal note, I was 24 when I had to stand up to some minor opposition to my decision to marry a man outside my ethnic-cultural group. It all eventually came good but when one doesn't do all the hard work at the beginning of taking a stand and sidestep the issues, the hard work of having to take a stand will always haunt you. I've seen that happen more than once.

7
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This show was the embodiment of "you make your own problems." Jin Ah, from the very beginning, had me ranting at the screen. I lost count of the times I yelled "WTH are you doing?" My last straw was her getting in the car with the abusive ex. Seriously woman? Just tell him to meet you at the store at the intersection. On what planet would getting in the car seem like any sort of good idea? That, added to all the lying (so, so much lying) and I gave up on her. I agree that she was realistic in that people are irrational and, well, stupid but the fact that she never learned, never reflected at all just made me want to hulksmash everything. Such a disappointment.
And I agree with Saya completely that stories exist to tell us of the realism and help us to find a happier resolution or at least a hint of how to move forward - unless you are George R.R. Martin. Then apparently they are just meticulously crafted ways to kill everyone who has any spark of goodness and any little bit of idealism the reader may have.

9
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

So I was going to finish up with this essay on the OST and why the PD chose a song about female submission from a culture that celebrates female submission but I honestly hate Stand By Your Man so much and have had it stuck in my head for so long that I can't be bothered.

The OST sucked, y'all. That's all I got.

So I will limit my final remarks to this: I don't think I've ever watched a drama before where I can say the writing, directing, cinematography and acting were all top-notch but somehow I don't want to recommend that anyone else watch it.

9
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

You know, I agree with you on that choice.
I liked the country flavor of the OST, but 'stand by your man' was a bit ironic in this drama. But then maybe it was meant to be ironic..... Hadn't thought about that until now.....

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I agree, I thought this drama was fascinating to watch and it'll definitely be part of my top 10 this year, but honestly it's not something I'll recommend.

Whenever I found myself frustrated with the show, it was actually your analysis ChinguMode that made me appreciate it more. Excuse me for having a little fangirl moment here, but once I finish the week's episodes, I quickly login to read your comments, it always brings a new perspective. Just wanted to say thank you, it was fun lurking and experiencing this interesting if a little depressing show

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

That's amazing, Linarrick. I feel a bit better about being the Voice of Minority Opinions then.

And nobody needs to apologise before fangirling. This is an entirely new, albeit surreal, experience.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

This drama really made me rethink what i wanted from a drama. The extreme realism near the end was really depressing, and honestly a lesson on harsh reality. I found it comforting that there wasn't a nice ending, since life doesn't always give one, but it was certainly a pity for the couple. I'm really glad I watched this drama for such a frustrating, open, tell-all on reality.

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm kinda confused about the timegap there was. I watched the show on Netflix, and it stated that Joon Hee had only gone for a couple of months, and even through the course of the last episode, it's been stated he was gone for months, not years (for eg, Seung Chol asking him whether he dated someone in the months he was in the States). Can someone please clarify this??

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Based on everything I've read, the Netflix translation of a few months was wrong. It was actually something like 3-4 years. That makes sense in the context of the other dialogue.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

what the heck happened? What? I mean I don't blame Jin ah for her decisions but why did the story go that way anyway...?
What was the point of the separation & time skip?
I mean they are back to square one again. So this time who will give up their career for the other person? because clearly their jobs are at different places(or countries)
If they had to get back together anyway, they could've done the long distance relationship thing.

Plot. You dumb.

Thanks for the recao @saya 💕 thanks for sitting through the finale.

3
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Or, sometimes you have to start over so you can correct the mistakes you made the first time, but that just means we sat through 16 episodes of that mistake. Now, I want a second season to see how they do it this time. Preferably with a different OST.

4
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

That is the issue isn't it...
If the plot is left hanging like that how will we know ? How will they work it out this time?
Or will they be spending the rest of their lives with patch up , break up , time skip?
Its not even a proper open ending because I feel like I'm left at ep 1 again & I don't see how things will get better this time...
*well whatever*
*so done with it*
I skipped to the end too anyway...

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

This drama just imploded in the worst way, and I wanted to see some maturity in their relationship by the end too. But they are back at the beginning, kind of like that Jim Carey movie “Eternal Sunshine On a Spotless Mind,” where people keep falling in love with the same person because they have their minds erased and don’t remember what happed prior.

6
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Elsewhere, a friend suggested a loop, with these two repeating the same pattern over and over again - bycycle and umbrella(s) in tow, of course - until the mother dies of an old age or of food poisoning. The food bought by pretty noona, needless to say; the food I'm not so sure she actually ever bought for Jun Hee. :P

2

Finally done with this, if skipping eps 11-15, and just watching that finale counts. My time is too precious to waste on mediocrity and when ep 10 came to a head with how much time they were spending on the disapproving mother, I was out. And then reading the recaps (thanks @saya and @laica) for eps 11–15 just sealed the deal. However, I caved because my hubby watched this last episode 3 times and said it was excellent in its pacing and emotional reality. If only it came about 5 episodes earlier. And I didn’t NOT appreciate it, because this OTP covers a multitude of sins. But have we forgotten that she’s close to 39 now!?! And I understand late bloomers, but it saddens me that those years were wasted. So “a handful of adorable babies” probably isn’t in her future, unless she has IVF and has quintuplets at 40 which I would wish on my worst enemy, but not for this couple. Nope, for them I still would want them to move to the East Bay (El Cerrito, CA is nice and next to Berkeley) where Joon-hee can do graphic design for an internet start up or even work for PIXAR animation and Jin-ah can work as a barista at Starbucks and spell everyone’s name wrong on their cups, and no one would be the wiser! And Starbucks is an amazing company to work for—my SIL did and still says it’s the best company she’s ever been employed. Much better than this misogynistically-portrayed coffee company. And Google would buy that start-up and they’d be set for life. Yep—rewriting that ending for ya’ll. And you’re welcome 😉.

5
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hey-a, Hi, Ally! Long time!! You know, at a certain point it was introduced the fact that she would ruin the relationships they all had with JH and KS... I don't know if it was one of our discussions or their discussions inside the show, never mind, because I thought back then: oh no, she won't ruin her friendship with KS, also she won't separate JH from her brother, no no, this is a k drama, they will find the way, people would accept at the end... even though they will all act immature and resolve the issues in shallow dialogues, they will become one family and there is going to be a happy end. Men how wrong I was!!!. 😒😒
This is the first time I think I have watched a k drama where the main character ruins the relationship with the two only people that really love her the way she really is, even when you could be left alone with the feeling she is taking advantage of them!!! 😠
But then again, that is exactly what she did. She just ruined everything!!
And I just don't get it. Even for such a culture, she was supposed to be in love for real, for the first time, and she thinks she needed to break it up in order "to learn to love herself"?, just not to learn to love herself anyway!!! Which is all a contradiction, because she already said she learned to love herself because of JH!!
When I saw she got a new BF after JH left, I hated her with all my heart. Couldn't she at least remain alone, enjoying herself??? What's wrong with being single anyway? It is cool.
If you cannot have a boyfriend like Joon hee, then don't have any at all. That would have punished the mother in a very elegant way, but no.
How could she had kissed any other random guy after loving Joon hee?? (And let's assume she would only have kissed the last loser boyfriend, because with this PD and writer, it seems like they imply women are so easy as to even sleep with all the boyfriends they have just because they date them, like American tv shows always portray). For me, it is disgusting!
And that is why her character is the most disappointing one. 😖😭😫😖
Makes me sad only to think about it.

3
4
reply