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When the Camellia Blooms: Episodes 11-12

With the arrival of an unwelcome reminder of her past, our heroine is forced to face unpleasant childhood memories and how they have shaped her. It’s getting harder and harder for her to repress her emotions and cut herself off from those around her, especially with our resident puppy in human form refusing to leave her side. It looks like our timid heroine might finally be coming into her own.

 
EPISODE 11: “1986.08.29 Born to Be a Hippo”

Yong-shik spots someone lurking in an alley near Dong-baek’s place and gives chase. He manages to catch up to them, yanking them around by the wrist to stand face-to-face.

The next morning, Dong-baek turns off the news during a report of an attack on a man in his 30s (dressed similarly to Yong-shik) the previous night. When she tells Pil-gu to stop eating at Deok-soon’s restaurant, he asks if she’s no longer on their side. Dong-baek replies it’s always been just the two of them.

Meanwhile, Deok-soon can’t get through to Yong-shik, who didn’t come home the previous night. She heads to the Camellia but feels awkward once she gets there. Just as she’s about to leave, she runs into Dong-baek and Pil-gu.

Hyang-mi gets a threatening text from a man saying he’ll come after her for taking his money. Nearby at the mudflat festival, Kyu-tae gets the governor to take a picture with him (by throwing a fit). To Kyu-tae’s horror, Hyang-mi runs up yelling, “Oppa!”and coos how great it is to see him out, acting the girlfriend.

At the station, the officers are surprised to find Yong-shik asleep on the couch. Apparently, he crashed there after bringing in the lurker the previous night. We’ll later learn her name is JO JUNG-SOOK (Lee Jung-eun). Chief Byun immediately assumes Yong-shik drunkenly kidnapped the person in question and brought them to the station. HA.

The cops all think she looks familiar, but she isn’t talking. Since her fingerprints have even been worn off, the only clue to her identity is her bracelet (common for dementia patients) with her name and a phone number engraved on it. Yong-shik’s cell died, but when they charge it, they realize the number is for the Camellia.

Back at the bar, Dong-baek and Deok-soon have a heart-to-heart. Deok-soon feels bad for rejecting Dong-baek as a lady suitor for her son, but Dong-baek, as usual, is understanding. She wishes she had a protective mother like Deok-soon. Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Chief Byun about the woman at the station.

Flashback to 27 years ago when Dong-baek was seven, and her mom abandoned her. She told her to say her name was Dong-baek and that she didn’t know her mom’s name if asked. Present day at the station, Dong-baek continues to follow her mom’s instructions, saying she doesn’t recognize the woman.

As she goes to leave, her mom smiles innocently and wets herself. Dong-baek can’t just leave and admits that Jung-sook is her mother. Yong-shik says they’ll try to get in touch with her guardian. Dong-baek is brimming with anger, even ripping the drink her mom has been steadily drinking from her hand, saying it makes her sick.

Hyang-mi needs a place to stay, so she coerces Kyu-tae into paying for a motel room by reminding him the governor will be around for a few more days. He agrees to pay for her to stay a few nights. As Kyu-tae leaves the motel, she pays close attention to the CCTV camera above.

Dong-baek sits with her mom at the bus station, wondering how she could look so good after abandoning her. She says despite being bullied her whole life for being an orphan, she tried to understand her mom. But after becoming a mother herself, she can’t forgive her.

When Dong-baek tells her mom to leave and never contact her again, her mom calls out to her, speaking for the first time. She smiles and says Dong-baek looks pretty. Her cheeks are rosy like a woman who’s loved.

At the bar, Hyang-mi tells a worried Yong-shik that Dong-baek has been working like crazy since she got back. Yong-shik smells smoke, so they rush to the kitchen where Dong-baek has absentmindedly left the stove on. Looking spaced out as Yong-shik fusses over her, she says she got her revenge by abandoning her mom today.

Jung-sook is still sitting at the bus station. Frustrated by her silence, the staff tell her the last bus already left. When Dong-baek shows up and yells at her mom for not talking, Jung-sook smiles to see her. Dong-baek takes her home, thinking that now there’s something else for the neighborhood ajummas to gossip about.

At home, Ja-young tries to sneak a peek at her husband’s phone, but he intercepts her. He runs off to his room, making sure Ja-young doesn’t see the photo Hyang-mi sent of the two of them in the motel lobby. Ja-young muses, “Should I just kill them all?”

Kyu-tae meets up with Hyang-mi to ask about the picture. She says it’s not a threat, but she knows he likes to donate after taking photos, so why not think of this as a donation opportunity? It would help her get to Copenhagen.

Chief Byun and Yong-shik worry since the Camellia has been closed lately—a rare thing, since it wasn’t even closed after the Joker incident. We cut to Dong-baek eating with Pil-gu and her mom, who doesn’t seem to know what year it is and is stuck in the past (although Dong-baek doesn’t fully believe her). Dong-baek is miffed to see Jung-sook doting on Pil-gu when she never did that with her.

As Pil-gu and his friend walk to school, Yong-shik comes up, yelling “Pil-gu!” and lifts him in the air. Pil-gu is elated but then stands dumbfounded after being put down, making Yong-shik worry he lost more points. But Pil-gu gets a huge smile and asks Yong-shik to do it again. Aww.

At home, Dong-baek’s mom busies herself doing household chores. She turns to Dong-baek, referring to her as her boss, and tells her she’s getting off work now. She does this day after day, which leads Dong-baek to assume her mom worked as a maid after abandoning her.

Jong-ryeol goes to the Ongsan real estate office to inquire about buying Dong-baek’s building, but it’s not for sale. However, since Dong-baek is being kicked out, the space is for lease. Concerned after hearing the Camellia has been closed for five days, he uses the excuse of needing to look around the place to get the realtors to call Dong-baek.

When she gets off the phone, Dong-baek looks dejectedly at her calendar, noting that “that day” is coming up. Her mom calls her over and pulls out her secret stash of cash (her “pay” from Dong-baek). She gives it all to Dong-baek, telling her to buy a house or a car with it.

EPISODE 12

Brace yourself for the ajummas. Chan-sook says Deok-soon should be careful Yong-shik doesn’t get stuck taking care of Dong-baek’s mom. Jae-young pities Dong-baek’s misfortunes, but Deok-soon says life can’t win against Dong-baek—she always finds a way.

Yong-shik is studying up on psychopaths in order to catch the Joker. Chief Byun tells him to stop trying to understand those difficult texts and just go to the Camellia. It’s open again.

At the Camellia, where Dong-baek has decided to hire Jung-sook, Hyang-mi laments Dong-baek’s tough life. Dong-baek claims her life has been like “cotton candy” lately, but her mom showing up brought her back to reality.

Yong-shik’s attentions did move her, but it’s all over now. Yong-shik is “too cute” to let him get involved in her messed up life.

Right on cue, Yong-shik bursts in, carrying tons of supplies (like adult diapers) and throws a full-body tantrum about how much he missed Dong-baek. After Hyang-mi and Jung-sook leave, Dong-baek says she hates that Yong-shik sees her at her worst, but he’s unconcerned. Even if she dislikes him, he can’t leave her in a minefield alone.

As Yong-shik leaves, Dong-baek says if she dates, it’ll be with someone who doesn’t know her past. It can’t be Yong-shik, who knows too much and will always see her as pitiful. She asks him not to come back. Looking like a kicked puppy, Yong-shik says he gets it, so she can stop hurting him. Dong-baek thinks, “The curse of the 29th sent Yong-shik away, too.”

Dong-baek asks her mom if she’ll make her seaweed soup for her birthday tomorrow (August 29th), although she remembers her real birthday is sometime in winter. In order to register her, the people at the orphanage picked the day she arrived as her birthday. Well, that’s upsetting.

Her mom looks surprisingly lucid and says she’ll be sure to do something for Dong-baek before she leaves. “Sure. Do whatever you can for me. I need to receive something from you.” Her mom fights back tears.

Hyang-mi goes shopping on Kyu-tae’s dime. She tells him he should be grateful, since he’s getting off easier than if his divorce attorney wife found out. He thinks, “I got caught by the worst,” but Hyang-mi says he brought this on himself. Good guys wouldn’t fall for her.

This ordeal sends Kyu-tae to a psychiatrist for sleep medication. The doctor says it could make him violent or impulsive, and he shouldn’t drink while on it. Kyu-tae muses to himself that he should do away with the root of the problem.

Yong-shik excitedly greets Jung-sook and Hyang-mi at the market. He’s shocked to learn today is Dong-baek’s birthday, albeit her “fake” one. Jung-sook seems less excited and blatantly tells a shocked Yong-shik and Hyang-mi that this is merely the day Dong-baek was abandoned.

Kyu-tae stops by the Camellia to see Dong-baek, and he’s surprised to learn that his wife told her to move out when the lease expires. Dong-baek had expected him to let her stay… “You had expectations of me?” He gets overly excited at that and frustratedly says she should have treated him better so this wouldn’t have happened. *Sigh*

Kyu-tae downs four bottles of soju (uh-oh) before whining that his wife looks down on him, Dong-baek never gives him peanuts and now he’s even being extorted for 100 million won. (Just gets you right there, doesn’t it?) Dong-baek tells him to go home, but he grabs her wrist and continues his pity party. Dong-baek threatens to put up a “No Kyu-tae Zone” sign out front if he doesn’t let go.

She reminds him of the Clinton scandal, saying he shouldn’t keep hitting on her if he wants to go into politics. Heh. He gets more belligerent and starts insulting her. She remembers Yong-shik’s words not to look weak and starts to yell back but can’t go through with it.

Right as Kyu-tae grabs her again, an angry Yong-shik shows up. He throws Kyu-tae’s insult back at him before delivering a running kick. They full-on brawl, leaving the bar a mess.

Dong-baek watches in exasperation as they childishly insult each other.

In full view of all the neighbors, Chief Byun comes and takes Yong-shik in, making him sit in the back of the police car. Pfft. Like clockwork, the ajummas blame Dong-baek again.

As Dong-baek, her mom and Hyang-mi clean up the bar, Hyang-mi tries to convince Dong-baek to go help Yong-shik. But Dong-baek is sick of it all. Even after Hyang-mi checks in with a cop and finds out Yong-shik won’t talk, Dong-baek refuses to get involved.

At the station, Kyu-tae is ranting to his lawyer (wife) about Yong-shik attacking the “future governor.” Chief Byun tries to get the story out of Yong-shik, but he won’t talk; he doesn’t want to cause more trouble for Dong-baek, even if that means more trouble for him. Deok-soon shows up, and Yong-shik can’t meet her eyes.

Kyu-tae continues his tirade and even yells at his wife when she tells him to be quiet. “Are you on drugs or something?” Ja-young asks. Yong-shik looks physically pained when Kyu-tae insists he’s innocent, but Yong-shik continues to assert he beat Kyu-tae up just because.

In the Camellia’s kitchen, Dong-baek finds an arrow Yong-shik taped on the floor, leading out back. She follows the trail and…holy crap. Everything is covered in lights and flowers. He even created a pathway with camellia petals and candles leading to a birthday cake and wine. Next to the cake are adorkable pictures of Yong-shik and a card:

If you don’t know your birthday, every day can be your birthday. I’ll make each day worth celebrating. You’ve been doing great for the past 34 years.

As Dong-baek cries, Jung-sook walks up, saying there were camellias everywhere the day Dong-baek was born. Dong-baek takes out her frustration on her mom, asking why she abandoned her and made her feel worthless her whole life. She sobs that Yong-shik makes her feel like she’s worth something, which makes her not want to hold back her anger.

Dong-baek marches back into the bar and grabs a ledger, telling Hyang-mi to close up for the night. She literally lets her hair down and strides toward the station. Hyang-mi tells Jung-sook that Dong-baek was born to be a hippo, “and when the hippopotamus gets angry, it’ll take over Ongsan.”

Yong-shik jumps up in surprise when Dong-baek enters the station. Chief Byun rushes to her, but she says she’s not there as a witness—she’s there to press charges. Whaaat?! She whips out her ledger and starts reciting Kyu-tae’s numerous harassments of her from 2016 forward. To top it all off, he didn’t pay for his peanuts. Hah! Yong-shik’s lip quivers with pride.

Chief Byun wonders if that ledger contains infractions by all the neighbors. “There’s going to be a bloodbath.” Oh, this is fun. She lists the charges she’s pressing against Kyu-tae: sexual harassment, verbal abuse and refusing to pay.

Ja-young looks at Dong-baek anew, realizing there was no affair. Deok-soon watches helplessly as Dong-baek defends Yong-shik: “They’re going to end up liking each other.” Dong-baek frustratedly asks Yong-shik why he’s in the corner like that when he didn’t do anything wrong. Lips trembling as he holds back tears, he asks if she’s defending him. “Are you crying?!” she asks through tears. Pfft. This is a mess.

Lest things get too happy, we jump forward to the crime scene. A cop brings the victim’s wallet to Chief Byun to identify the body. Yong-shik sits on the ground muttering in disbelief, refusing to believe the person is dead.

 
COMMENTS

Since we still have no concrete evidence that the victim is Dong-baek, I can’t help but feel it’s a red herring. Frankly, I’m not a fan of the fake-out, but I also don’t want it to be Dong-baek, so I’m conflicted. Either way, I do hope it’s not dragged on too long. I find it frustrating that we keep being shown essentially the same scene without much new information.

This episode really centered around Dong-baek and her mother. I didn’t expect her to show up like that – or at least not so soon – but I think it’s the perfect timing for Dong-baek. She’s at her breaking point with all the injustices heaped upon her, and she needed something that would make her address her past. She goes through life repressing her emotions, hoping to fade into the background and not be a target. But in some ways, that makes her seem like a doormat and, therefore, more of a target. With her mom, her anger and loss are too strong; she can’t pretend it’s all okay and be forgiving. This crack in her sweet veneer gives her an edge, making her feel more complicated and real.

Of course, Yong-shik has had a hand in Dong-baek learning to be truer to herself. I’m glad she was able to admit the effect he’s been having on her, particularly in making her feel more valuable. It just goes to show how important it can be to have even one person who values you, despite seeing you at your worst. Just having Yong-shik tell her she’s important and strong helped her believe she might be worth it. Yong-shik started to win me over in episode 8 (or 4, if you’re watching on Netflix) when he told her she was brave and had accomplished amazing things so far. It’s great to see a male lead who’s respectful, supportive and likes a woman without feeling entitled to her love.

Although I’m frustrated with Deok-soon for opposing their relationship just because Dong-baek is a single mom, I’m glad she didn’t entirely drop her as a friend. Even though it’s culturally stigmatized, I had hoped she’d be able to see beyond that since she knows Dong-baek so well. At least she still cares about Dong-baek and treats her well, and I have a feeling she’ll come around to the idea of her being with Yong-shik. Deok-soon loves Dong-baek and Pil-gu both, and she already feels bad about interfering. Since it seemed like she realized that she underestimated the feelings between the not-quite-couple, and there’s no stopping this train, I think she’ll cave.

That showdown at the police station seemed to catch everyone off guard. How awesome was it to see Dong-baek asserting herself? I’m so glad Dong-baek finally took Kyu-tae to task for his disrespect and harassment. She’s put up with that for way too long. Kyu-tae is like a bad kid that whines until he gets his way, and unless there are tangible consequences, he’s not going to stop. Between this and the situation with Hyang-mi, I hope he learns something.

I knew Hyang-mi could be reckless and selfish, but she’s more calculated than I had originally assumed. She’s problematic, and it’s messed up how manipulative she’s being, but I do appreciate how up-front she is about it. She doesn’t pretend to be nice or someone other than who she is. And it seems like she targeted Kyu-tae because she feels like he deserves it. Although I don’t condone extortion, I do find him to be an insufferable misogynist, so I’m not exactly sad to see him pay for it.

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Kyu Tae deserves this!!!! To be honest, I started losing my patience when Dong-baek didn't do anything to Kyu-tae. Smart Dong-baek has the ledger!

The scene in the police station was intense, funny, and full of emotion. The moment Dong-baek was defending Yong-shik then the both started to cry was GOLD. I've been replaying that scenes several times...

I understand why Deok-soon's feeling to respond the situation with Dong-baek and Yong-shik. She's the mother of Yong-shik. It would hard for any mothers to let her child like (or marrying) a single mother. She must have had another expectation. It's different between accepting DB as her daughter in law with accepting her as her best friend.

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That last scene was indeed gold!! When YS got all emotional and asked if she was protecting him, his expressions were priceless.

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The reason I liked the last scene at the police station is that Deok Soon and Ja Young both got their ideas sorted out correctly in an instant. It was a scene that killed several birds with one stone, and brought Dongbaek closer to Yong Shik, while eliminating Kyu Tae.

The cut away was masterfully done as well. From their emotional (but funny to us) tears over their mutual protection of each other, we are brought hard smack into the present when possibly neither was protected.

After having grown to care for and laugh with these characters, it was a wrench in the gut to be reminded that all is not well with them in the 'now'.

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Kyu-tae downs four bottles of soju (uh-oh)

I don't know about kdramaland, but here one Earth I think 4 bottles would be bad news even without any medications that don't mix with alcohol.

BUT, if he had the famed peanuts, that might have helped a little by slowing the alcohol absorption (?)

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I think that drama production companies are wholly owned subsidiaries of soju companies.

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Hyang-mi seems like a strange mix of greedy/scheming and helpful/wise. Is it possible that the bad part is the fake instead of the good part?

Try this on for size: is she there to investigate and/or avenge the death of a loved one? Is she targeting Kyu-tae because she suspects him and is she hanging around Dong-baek because she hopes to pick up some clues from her?

I still expect she's the corpse and any possibility that she has been after the killer (or killers???) makes that more likely. Her kleptomania mentioned earlier on might have been part of her evidence-gathering (?) in addition be being an explanation for how she got Dong-baek's bracelet.

Kyu-tae may have an alibi and may be too cowardly to commit those murders, but he makes too nice of a suspect to give up on. Suppose he has someone killing on his behalf? He might not even know someone is killing people who the actual killer thinks have slighted him?? Maybe Joker is him + handyman?? This might just be wishful thinking because making him part of it makes if more likely that Hyang-mi is the corpse and Dong-baek is still alive.

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@lordcobol
Who is Hyang-mi trying to get out of the country?

100 million is not just for flights - that sounds like fake document money for a couple of people to disappear.

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If I remember correctly from Chief Kim (who also wanted a certain sum of money to go to a Scandinavian country) you needed a decent amount to get residency. Relocating abroad is expensive and 100 million seems about right.

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Hahaha @cloggie when Hyangmi first said Copenhagen I was just thinking OMG SHE'S GONNA MEET CHIEF KIM THERE in my kdrama world lol. Hyangmi looks like the kind of character who would fit well into his seedy underworld.

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Thanks for that.

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I'm not 100% sure she really is trying to leave (or help anyone else leave either).

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I agree with her being the corpse, but I don't think she is particulary wise/helpful, she is street smart and self serving shit stirrer.

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To avoid tainting anyone's thread I put this in its own comment:

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Dong-baek's behaviour is frustrating if all things were equal. In SKDrama land they just aren't and this "outcasting" is culturally ingrained and enforced.

Jane Elliott's "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Experiment" shows us how quickly we succumb to these pressures...now imagine living in them from childhood...that is the "wangtta" life she was labeled as since childhood.

The "colonised mind" is so damaging and her reactions are no different to those visible in the caste system, mid 20 century indigenous camps...and even mistreated animals.

To then expect the "victim" to display "normal" behaviour is a trick colonisers have used through out time. In reality it is gas lighting that only doubles the injustice. I know people don't mean it in this way, but it forms part of the long history of de-humanising - the oppressors would afford her more respect if only she acted more "normally".

Dong-baek breaking free from this is not just about her "standing up". It is about finding both the opportunity and the "backup" for her moment of standing.

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that ending scene was amazing. I was so happy to finally see Dong-baek stand up for herself. While I sort of understood her thoughts after reading these recaps, it still frustrated me how she's treated and how she just takes it without fighting for herself.

I don't understand why people hate her so much for being an orphan, a single mother or a survivor of a violent crime. Can someone please explain it further?

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It's more like she is the carrier of bad luck. She has no parents so she had to fend for herself. She is a single mother so she has to train her child alone. She survived a violent crime committed by someone who "targets" loose women. All these is the unconventional in a small town where everybody knows everybody. She is the outsider. Plus the men are drawn to her exactly because of that, which makes her hated by their wives. All in all she is the easy target for their hate because there is no one to defend her.

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I so agree with your assessment @zitless. Among the victims though, there was a man and a child ... so it might not be that it's women who are targeted. The problem of being looked down upon is exacerbated by Dongbaek running a bar. She's called a 'loose' woman, possibly just because of that.

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What @zitless said. It's small town/community herd mentality + good old Asian superstition about people who bring luck or otherwise. Born under a bad sign, under a bad moon, woman with a scarlet letter, call it what you want, it's basically someone who doesn't quite colour inside the boxes and therefore stands out... Plus Dongbaek's own personalities which internalizes the criticism with her insecurities.

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@lilramenlover
@louise is correct - "wangtta" is a good place to start...you may need a stiff drink before you dive in.

However - its even more than that. Being poor and an orphan is almost the perfect negative storm in SK Drama land. Here you are hitting a whole whirlwind of culture clash about family, filial piety and hierarchal confucianism. (This is fundamentally different to cultures who have grown out of the Enlightenment and Reformation)

Korean traditionally saw fathers providing the bones. and mothers the flesh, As bone last, the male side determines your kinship/clan. Hence children without fathers are particularly problematic...they have no bones - no clan. In such a hierarchal culture of connection and mini-fiefdoms, unknown people are a permanent risk to your clan. Having neither parent - you have no culturally recognised body at all...you are a cultural ghost.

If you watch Kdrama for any length of time, you will come across the very common phrase about "avoiding people with SAD STORIES" ("Just Between Lovers" was entirely this, "Boyfriend" includes this line) or even acknowledging the victims will be blamed for the issue ("Watcher" the police said this exactly). These universality of sayings illustrate how embedded and commonly recognised the issues about failure being a contagion risk is. In SKDrama land, Failure is not individual but cultural and strongly tied to filial piety. I.e. the underlying message is that if you fall - it's a weakness in your family or your observance to family to protect it that has lead to your demise.

In many ways SKDrama's culture is not entirely foreign to the west - and much of it was prevalent prior to the early 20century. We can even see parts of this re-emerging again in the "gospel of prosperity" coming out of some Evangelical movements.

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@SadKDramaLama,
Re: Western parallels to SKDrama's culture, you hit the bull's-eye with the "gospel of prosperity," which harks back to the Protestant Reformation and the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Those who were Heaven-bound would enjoy material prosperity during their earthly lives -- and devil take the hindmost who were not among the elect.

Given the many and varied contributions of American Protestant missionaries (many of them Presbyterian) in Joseon after the War Between the States, it's not a far stretch to muse upon a potential natural affinity between the Neo-Confucian emphasis on rigorous lifelong study and scholarship and the Protestant work ethic. I cannot help but suspect that American missionaries may also have brought with them to Joseon the uplifting influence of Horatio Alger's edifying novels. The old American bent for self-improvement dovetails nicely with filial piety.

Horatio Alger: The Moral of the Story, by Stefan Kanfer
https://www.city-journal.org/html/horatio-alger-moral-story-11933.html

The above piece references an eye-opening article (below) on the movement to protect and socialize the herds of feral children running wild in the streets of New York in the wake of the Irish potato famine of the 1840s. (New York was a major port of entry.) I cannot help but think of the Catholic Irish as being wangtta in their own land, destined to overseas exile -- or death by starvation for those unable to leave. The mortality rate of the transatlantic "coffin ships," and the splitting up of kinfolk landing at different destinations, wreaked havoc on Irish families already beset by centuries of Britain's genocidal policies. Many of the poorest immigrants were farmers who spoke only Irish, and thus would have been shut out of urban employment even if they hadn't been discriminated against in America. (When my grandpa, born in Boston in 1895, was a lad, employment notices in shop windows still bore the phrase "No Irish need apply.")

Once We Knew How to Rescue Poor Kids, by William J. Stern
https://www.city-journal.org/html/once-we-knew-how-rescue-poor-kids-12155.html

When I think of how many Kdrama orphanages are depicted as connected with the Catholic Church, it makes perfect sense now.

See also:
When America Despised the Irish: The 19th Century’s Refugee Crisis, by Christopher Klein
https://www.history.com/news/when-america-despised-the-irish-the-19th-centurys-refugee-crisis

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@pakalanapikake

Thanks for the links.

For what looked like just another little seaside village drama, this show really is floating on top of very deep cultural issues. Personally I love that its like “Danger Mouse” you can watch it unaware and enjoy it - or tap into the underlying currents and its a whole new thing.

RE: Irish famine. Omg, this has been quite a topic recently so nice to see it coming into another field of discussion. The more I learn about colonialism and empire of England (Yes it was UK but I’ll be blunt about the real power structure of the UK here) the more the wool falls from my eyes about many myths I had growing up. You may find this person interesting:
https://randompublicjournal.com/2019/11/07/britains-famine-in-ireland/

It was a couple of years ago that I started to see the subtle natural affinities between SK Drama culture and the current US. Even though to many they may appear fundamentally different--at a deep level they show strong parallels. Heck, SK Drama may potentially do US it even better than the US...its only resource access that limits them.

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@SadKDramaLama November 11, 2019 at 8:58 PM

You're most welcome. ;-) And thank you for Jason Michael McCann's recent insightful and disturbing article, "Britain’s Famine in Ireland." In particular, I'd like to give a shout-out to the excellent video that is embedded in this article:
The Great Irish Famine: Remember Skibbereen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA29miDh9zw

As I read the article and watched the video, I was reminded of our recent discussion of PTSD in relation to Hyang-mi in WHEN THE CAMELLIA BLOOMS. The thought suddenly popped into my mind that whole nations and societies can suffer from something akin to PTSD, much as individuals do. The fact that no one talks about the Famine in some quarters hints at collective survivor's guilt, and Lord knows which other psychic and emotional wounds. The descriptions of the crammed workhouses -- which purposely separated family members in a manner that sounds utterly sadistic to me -- makes them sound like concentration camps. The inhumanity is appalling -- until one recalls that the Irish were regarded and depicted as sub-human, even by one of my otherwise favorite political cartoonists of the era, Thomas Nast (who gave America the jolly archetypal St. Nick we all know and love at Christmas -- as well as Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall).

In the video, I was glad to see Gary White Deer of the Choctaw nation, one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" of the southeastern US. He didn't go into much detail on the Choctaw Contribution to Irish Famine Relief, so here's the story in a nutshell, as related to me about 20 years ago by a Cherokee acquaintance when I mentioned that my Mom's Southern ancestors were Scots-Irish from Kentucky and Tennessee, and English from Virginia.

The Choctaw were forcibly exiled from their forest homeland east of the Mississippi by the Federal government via the "Indian Removal Act," and like the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations, were relocated to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The routes they traveled overland in the 1830s were called the Trails of Tears.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Civilized_Tribes#/media/File:Trails_of_Tears_en.png
Thousands perished en route, and arrived on the prairie after great hardship and privation.

A decade or so after reaching their new land in Oklahoma, the Choctaw heard news of the potato famine that was raging in Ireland, with many people dying of starvation and disease. Keep in mind that the southern Appalachians had been settled by many Scots-Irish colonists.

According to my colleague, the Choctaw realized, "Oh... they do it to their own kind, too." They passed the hat, and took up a collection from their own meagre resources for the starving people of Ireland. To this day, there is a bond between the Choctaw and the Irish.

So why the heck wasn't this true event mentioned in my history books when I was in school?! It brought tears to my eyes.

https://www...

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@SadKDramaLama November 11, 2019 at 8:58 PM

Part 2 of 2

Oops! Here's the tail end:

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/what-the-irish-did-for-and-to-the-choctaw-tribe-1.3423873

To end on an up note, a bit of sean nós singing in Irish Gaelic. Not quite pansori. ;-)

Róisín El Safty: "Eleanór a Rún" [Eleanor my secret love]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8paj2hQHIo

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I loved this episode. It was so touching that being loved gave Dong-baek her spine back (or made her channel her Inner Hippo) and seeing her go to the police station to take everybody on, was awesome.

Dong-baek and Yong-shik are just so perfect together that I don't want anything bad to happen to them anymore (I know I won't get my wish, we're not even half-way yet)

When the mother said: 'I want to do at least one thing for you', I immediately thought that she's not going to make it out of this drama alive. Especially not with a serial killer in the mix. Unless she is (pretending to be?) the serial killer of course

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OMG - the camera work this week was amazing.

Each week the camera work gets better and more expressive. Nothing is simple but it feels so natural that you have to pay attention to see how tightly choreographed it really is. The shots with large amounts of blocking and some of the framing must be a challenge for the cast who are really hitting their marks.

I think the positive ratings is allowing the production to spend money/time on all this setup and staging. I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeves creatively if the show does turns darker.

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Super love your comment! I'm also impressed by the expressiveness of the camerawork, but mostly in the directing for me, where he PD has chosen to focus a lot on capturing the reaction shots - see Deok Sun's nearly throwaway reaction shot when she thinks, "they're going to like each other for sure...", and also the framing of YongSik and DongBaek in the police window which echoes another earlier shot of both of them in the Camellia's window when he tells her about the Joker's wall message.

I have other things to say about the colouring of the scenes, but I'll leave that for another day.

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@purebristles
I so agree. @pakalanapikake and I have raised this previously. The colour grading of scenes is so thematic.

We shift from the sun-drenched pastels of idealised view of village life in the early episodes to the green-black monochromatics of the murder aftermath. What we have been seeing is the chipping away of that idealised lens to reveal darker and more complex colours of different character's views. YS's scenes are starting to develop weird contrast levels.

Overall, those opening episodes had refilled the light and detail of the shadows so they disappeared from focus and we are now finding the shadows (and the things hidden in them) are starting to invade this world.

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So much goodness this episode. I especially agree with this:

"With her mom, her anger and loss are too strong; she can’t pretend it’s all okay and be forgiving. This crack in her sweet veneer gives her an edge, making her feel more complicated and real." - Couldn't have said it better. I love that she couldn't hold back with her, even if it resulted in her retreating further into negativity for a while. This episode reminded me that often things need to get worse before they can truly get better. I found it apt that Dong-baek's breakthrough happened in her darkest moment.

I absolutely love how Yong-shik's unwavering belief in Dong-baek's worth as a person has finally pushed her to fight a bit harder for herself, even going so far as to protect him too. They were too precious at the end. I'm still replaying it despite the repeated torture of the scene cutting away to the sad, cryptic Yong-shik of the future lol.

I think I'm most excited about Hong Ja-young's revelation though, since I've been pulling for her eventual friendship with Dong-baek since their first meeting. While Yong-shik has served as a great catalyst emotionally for Dong-baek, I think Ja-young could be such a great influence when it comes to her growth as a character. Really though, they're both just in need of reliable friendship. Please let it happen, Show!

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Yes, I think there is chance for frienhship between those two women once the air is cleared, they are both odd birds in this town really.

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@chandler,
Late to the party, but wanted to commend you on your observation:

This episode reminded me that often things need to get worse before they can truly get better. I found it apt that Dong-baek's breakthrough happened in her darkest moment.

I think that what we're seeing here is Dong-baek hitting bottom. Or maybe it's actually one of a series of bottoms that she will have to confront as she grapples with the false persona that she has unconsciously built up over so many years. That false persona has enabled her to survive soul-crushing circumstances, but it has also suffocated her. Her true self has been submerged -- but has not evaded detection by Yong-shik.

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After this episoade I understand more why Dong-baek didn't stand up for herself before, she had low self esteem and was socially conditioned all her life to feel like she doesn't deserve better. I'm curios about her mother, I think it's quite possible she is faking her dementia unless her dementia it's very early stage. I thought Hyang-Mi will be the victim but maybe it could also be her mom.

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Awwww... that was one beautiful love confession on the roof, Yong Shik! What.A.Guy. i don't blame Dong Baek for unleasing her inner hippo after that. That puppy deserves to be loved. ^^

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Last scene before the crime scene.....

THOSE PUPPY EYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

O.M.G

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It was my favourite episode so far, I felt confronting her mother finally gave DB leg to stand for what she care about. It was sweet that she used that new found strength to stand for YS. But I'm iffy about DB mother showing like that, and it really doesn't look to me like she has a dementia, she seems too oddly proactive for that.
And I loved that we were shown lawyer lady epiphany at the end, she's shaping into really interesting character.

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It was also my favorite episode. After this, ep 7 and 8 were almost boring. For me, the only times DB really allows herself to be completely true is with her mother.

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The last scene was amazing! So glad Dong-baek stood up for herself and that Kyu-tae’s wife no longer thinks she’s having an affair with him.. Yong-shik is such a cutie, i was tearing up when Dong-baek was reading the letter he wrote for her, just to have one person on your side when everyone else is against you gave her so much strength, it was such a powerful message.

P.S I need Kang Ha-neul to show his forehead more often please, didn’t know it’d take a fight scene for it to happen

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Yong-shik's tantrum was adorable. It's hard to believe this is the same actor who played the sophisticated 8th prince in Scarlet Heart: Goryeo. At first Yong-shik's persistance may have seemed pushy to some, but his persistance was the only way to get through to Dong-baek. And Dong-baek finding her voice was awesome. YS's birthday gift was beautiful and what Dong-baek needed. I have no sympathy for Kyu-tae but Hyang-mi is starting to worry me because she is very calcualting and only seems to care about money. For once though I wish dramaland would throw a curveball and NOT have the guy's mother oppose the girlfriend. That in itself would be revolutionary.

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Thanks @quirkycase. Since the previous episode the thriller aspect, the comedy and the romance (even the 'tragedy') are skillfully integrated so that the shift in tone does not rub us the wrong way. I don't know how the show manages such a mix of genres, sometimes all in one episode, but it does it so well. It's been loads of fun just rolling along with the scenes and getting to know the characters.

About the timing of Dongbaek's mum's 'entrance' into the show. It was carefully planned because it was in the previous episode that Dongbaek and both Dongbaek and Hyang Mi had been talking about mums and how having a mum might have provided DB with someone to have her back. HM had said that with a mum like DB, they would both not have been working as they were. So mum really and truly appears in this episode.

What's noteworthy is that the mum even with dementia, must have kept track of Dongbaek all along, because she has The Camellia's telephone number on her bracelet. She's been keeping tabs on DB and probably has her down as her guardian as well.

Practically every female character is super interesting. Although I don't like Hyang Mi, I can't look away from her scenes. She intrigues me by her amazing ability to say the most effective things to each person, to get them to talk, thus getting secrets that she can hold over their heads. She even tries with Dongbaek by asking about her past.

It's strange that the men (except for 2 or 3, counting Pilgu) are practically nonentities. We don't know their names and if they even appear on screen, the camera (except for the first episode) does not linger on their faces, so I can't even recognise them.

The scary thing is that the killer is among them, a nonentity now too, but in the flashback to the OK Aesthetic murder, he was present during the investigation which had shifted to The Camellia. The camera locked on to Dongbaek's shoes from another person's point of view, and it felt as if it was the murderer checking her out, right there in the same room as she was being questioned by Chief Byun.

Show is amazing at bringing on the creepy factor, just as it brings in the cute and funny with Yong Shik. He is so lovable as the childlike, tantrum throwing wannabe boyfriend. I just know he'll succeed, because he is sincere and DB is touched by him already.

What a strange but likable, funny, scary show!!!

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Thanks @quirkycase for the recap!

I love how honest the characters are being written. Deoksun's self-contradiction about being open-minded, her talking to Dongbaek about it, her reluctance to accept them being together, then her witnessing the affection slowly growing... When the camellia blooms indeed!

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while the present storyline is going great, did we need to have the future one to dampen our mood?
And while I'm at it, if the dead person isn't Dong baek then it sure is Hyang mi. Or that's how the show is making it seem although I doubt that Young shik would be that sad.

Meanwhile I can't wait for more adorable Young shik.

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ATM, I can only see 3 people HY would be that distraught over.
DB / PG / or his mother. (The last 2 don't match the hand)

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I look forward to camellia every week. My love for this show is real.

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