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When the Camellia Blooms: Episodes 29-30

Today’s episodes are all about mothers and the lengths they’ll go for their children. Being a mother is never easy, but some have worse luck than others and have to fight harder to provide for their kids. We focus on two fiercely protective mothers who will do just about anything to secure their children’s futures, even if that means making some enemies.

 
EPISODE 29: “Mother”

Sitting atop the wall outside the Camellia is a green lighter which Yong-shik pockets when Dong-baek shows up. Yong-shik worriedly asks where she’s been, but she just throws herself in his arms and sobs.

After she calms down, she wonders why her “revenge” is hurting her so much. Yong-shik rants that she shouldn’t feel bad—what kind of mother asks for a kidney from the child she abandoned? When he angrily says someone like that isn’t even a person, she lightly smacks him. “Are you insulting my mom right now?” Ha.

Yong-shik claims Dong-baek’s too nice to hate anyone, so she shouldn’t try. He asks where the restaurant she left her mom at is, but she bursts into tears again, saying she hates her mom. He valiantly tries to comfort her, but she shrugs him off.

At the station, Chief Byun sighs that poor Yong-shik now has to find Hyang-mi, Jung-sook and the Joker. Yong-shik seems to think the more pressing issue is that, without Hyang-mi and Jung-sook around, Dong-baek’s alone. His solution: a stakeout.

Stealth not being his strong suit, Dong-baek notices him almost immediately and brings him out some food. Still worried about her mom, Yong-shik assures Dong-baek her mom has eaten too, so she shouldn’t worry. But as a mother, Dong-baek disagrees. She knows how scary a parent’s love can be.

We see Deok-soon making a vat of food for Yong-shik, while Jung-sook sits in the hospital worrying about Dong-baek. Dong-baek narrates that having a kid makes you stop living just as yourself, instead becoming “mom.” Devoting your entire self still isn’t enough.

At the school, Jong-ryeol is planning to fund a baseball scholarship that includes study abroad for one of the kids. Seung-yeob makes recommendations, but Jong-ryeol cuts him off. He selects Pil-gu (naturally).

Seeing as Pil-gu won’t even leave his mom to attend training sessions, Seung-yeob thinks there’s no way he’ll agree. When Jong-ryeol insists on Pil-gu, Seung-yeob gets defensive, thinking he’s trying to poach him. Jong-ryeol flatly states, “I’m his dad.”

He says he’s just trying to give his son a good education, but Seung-yeob is barely hearing him through his state of shock. Jong-ryeol vows that he’ll get Pil-gu to the Major Leagues.

After practice, Jong-ryeol takes Pil-gu out to eat and continues plying him with gifts, which Pil-gu assures him won’t buy his affection. He tells Jong-ryeol to stop coming around. Jong-ryeol asks for one reason Pil-gu hates him so much. “How can I just pick one?” Ouch.

When Jong-ryeol asks him to list everything he hates, Pil-gu lays it all out. He hates him being on Superman, his leggings-wearing wife and the fact that he won’t leave him alone. Jong-ryeol has a response for everything until Pil-gu asks why he hasn’t apologized.

Pil-gu says his mom apologizes even if he gets sick. Jong-ryeol, however, still refuses to apologize. Pil-gu is unimpressed with his excuse that he didn’t know about him, informing him that saying you didn’t know about your homework earns you a long timeout in school. Ha!

Yong-shik hits the crime scenes again, starting with Hanbit Academy where he thinks back to Kyu-tae’s suspicious relationship with the owner and his reluctance to divulge anything.

Next, he visits the scene of Hyang-mi’s moped accident and finds a CCTV camera. Unfortunately, it’s owned by the infamous Yeong-shim who relentlessly pestered the cops to handle her dog situation, which Yong-shik failed to do. She says he can bring a warrant if he wants the footage.

A happily divorced Ja-young consults with a client while Kyu-tae watches her with regret, especially when she claims divorcing has eased her loneliness. But when her client tries to set her up with someone, Kyu-tae bursts in for a consultation.


Dong-baek calls Jung-sook’s (step)daughter and is confused by the cold response. She asks Dong-baek to tell Jung-sook to stop putting on a show. She’ll visit with official documents soon.

Chan-sook stops by and gives Dong-baek the committee meeting agenda, but Dong-baek feels awkward about going since Deok-soon is the committee head. Chan-sook says it’s better to just face her confidently.

At the restaurant, Deok-soon serves Yong-shik an entire duck to speed his recovery. She warns him not to save her (or Dong-baek) from dangerous situations. Once again, she urges him to break up with Dong-baek. *Sigh*

He calls Deok-soon shallow for her about-face regarding Dong-baek. She looks devastated as he tells her he proposed. Furious, she says his persistence is making her hate Dong-baek more.

Onto the super awkward, practically silent co-op meeting. It’s a stark contrast to prior years when everyone was boisterous and accused Dong-baek of thoughtlessly siding with Deok-soon. Deok-soon had told them to get themselves a best friend if they were jealous.

Presently, Deok-soon gets up and walks out. Dong-baek catches up for a frank conversation. Deok-soon can’t stand the thought of Yong-shik having to raise someone else’s kid and getting hurt because of Dong-baek, but Dong-baek says she truly likes Yong-shik and doesn’t know what to do.

Deok-soon raised Yong-shik to be warm by shielding him from unpleasantness, “So why do you cast a shadow over my kid’s eyes?” Talk about harsh. She brutally continues that only Dong-baek stresses him out. What mother wants to see her child in that situation?

At her office, Ja-young has a consultation with Kyu-tae. He claims he was just mingling (whatever that means), but she calls bull on that. She wants to know why he’s trying to turn himself in now and finally drags out of him that Hyang-mi is missing.

Ja-young urgently asks if the police are investigating the case. Kyu-tae looks up in surprise, asking if she knows something. She’s silent, but there’s a furtive look in her eyes.

Yong-shik comes barreling in the station after hearing Yeong-shim brought in the footage. In a flashback, we see Deok-soon calling Yeong-shim and threatening to destroy her if she doesn’t turn in the footage. Of course, Yong-shik thinks it’s all down to his irresistible charm.

Chief Byun interrupts his bragging when he sees something that could be the moped on the footage. Yong-shik recognizes the speeding car behind it as one of Jong-ryeol’s, so he calls him. When he inquires where he was at 10:00 PM on the 24th, Jong-ryeol looks stunned and asks, “Is she dead?”

EPISODE 30

At home, Jessica uncharacteristically stuffs her face. She tells her mom she wants to shoot that ad and keep receiving the attention and adoration of being Jong-ryeol’s wife. Saddened, her mom asks why other people’s opinions matter so much.

Jessica answers that without acknowledgement, “it feels like Park Sang-mi isn’t anything.” She thinks back to Hyang-mi insisting they’re the same and says nobody can find out.

While Kyu-tae anxiously fills Ja-young in on the details of Hyang-mi’s case, Jong-ryeol goes through his phone and finds a ton of missed calls from Jessica from the night of the 24th. Back at the table, Jessica reveals to her mom she hit “that bitch” with her car.

Kyu-tae asks Ja-young what he should do. She coldly states, “Dead bodies don’t rise to the surface that easily.”

From a payphone, Jung-sook calls the police and asks if you can report someone for murder just based on suspicion.

Yong-shik muses that, with the growing list of suspects, the Joker may not be responsible for Hyang-mi’s disappearance. Chief Byun thinks not just anyone can kill. For now, it’s all speculation since the only solid evidence is the blood (presumably Hyang-mi’s) found on the helmet, sweater and steering wheel.

Chief Byun notices Kyu-tae sitting looking dejected outside the station. Kyu-tae stands and tells them he’s turning himself in.

At home, Dong-baek hears a phone alarm coming from Pil-gu’s dresser where she finds her mom’s flip phone. Although there’s no call history, there are some photos. In one of them, she finds a van with a phone number and the phrase “Help Is Near” written on the side. She calls the number.

At the station, Kyu-tae says it was June 29, 2014, which means the five-year statute of limitations is up. Yong-shik and Chief Byun point out that’s the day the Joker killed Geum-ok. Kyu-tae looks frightened as he admits he was there that day.

We flash back to that day at Hanbit Academy…which was actually an illegal casino. Everyone in the casino heard the sirens from OK Aesthetics that night and thought they were getting busted. Worried they’d be done for if the police got ahold of their CCTV footage, the owner covered up the camera.

In the present, Chief Byun is impressed that Yong-shik managed to conduct a real investigation and discover something. Heh. Eager to find the owner, Yong-shik asks Kyu-tae for his whereabouts, but Kyu-tae reveals he’s already in custody.

Cut to the three of them visiting the owner in prison. He gets spooked when he finds out Kyu-tae brought cops, but Chief Byun assures him they just want the footage from that night. Thanks to his guilty conscious, he cooperates.

Mighty proud of themselves, they examine the footage. Although his face isn’t shown, there is a clear shot of a suspicious-looking man. They’re ecstatic since this will allow them to analyze things like height and gait. Then, Kyu-tae spots someone else in the footage.

Dong-baek visits the place she discovered through her mom’s photos, which ends up being a shelter for single mothers where her mom volunteered. A nun working there tells Dong-baek a sister Jung-sook volunteered with at a preschool in Ongsan recommended her. Disbelieving, Dong-baek asks, “Was that Saint Severus Preschool in 2014?”

Yong-shik calls Dong-baek to the station to show her the footage. She’s excited they got the Joker on video, but Yong-shik seems hesitant. He tells her there are two people on the video.

Over in the hardware store, Heung-shik goes to help a customer. It’s Jung-sook, and she ominously observes, “There are lots of things you can kill people with here.” She turns to look at him. “It’s you, isn’t it? The Joker.”

She asks if he remembers her. We flash back to June 29, 2014. Dong-baek drops Pil-gu off at preschool and heads off with her friend Geum-ok. Jung-sook watches her from afar.

Inside, Jung-sook happily plays with Pil-gu, as she does every Sunday. The nun wonders why she loves Pil-gu so much, but she just says he’s adorable. Jung-sook wonders if Pil-gu has told his mom about her.

Jung-sook puts on lipstick as she prepares to meet Dong-baek. She looks hopeful and dons her bucket hat. Knowing Dong-baek goes to the skincare clinic on Sundays, she nervously waits outside.

The owner of Hanbit Academy and Kyu-tae see Jung-sook loitering outside and think it strange, but they just assume she’s hesitant to come in.

Dong-baek watches the video in shock. Yong-shik sighs he’d assumed there was an accomplice… He notes that it seems like Dong-baek’s mom has always stuck close to her.

Back at the hardware store, Heung-shik takes the accusation in stride and asks why Jung-sook thinks he’s the Joker. That day, the Joker bumped into her, making her accidently spill her drink on his hoodie. She smelled lacquer on him and sensed something was off.

Shortly after seeing him enter the OK Aesthetic building, the lights went off. She recalled people talking about the Joker earlier and ran inside. She pulled the fire alarm and activated the sprinklers that saved Dong-baek’s life.

Yong-shik holds Dong-baek’s hand as she wonders where her mom is now. Jung-sook watches Heung-shik stocking green lighters and claims she definitely saw him that night. Even with the mask and hat, she could see the look in his eyes.

When he came to the Camellia, smelling of lacquer, she felt uneasy. She knew it had to be him. Jung-sook knows there’s no evidence, but she’s got nothing to lose. She warns him not to touch her daughter. “I can do anything for Dong-baek.”

On the walk home, Dong-baek is quiet but assures Yong-shik she’s okay. In fact, she feels her life is less pathetic now that she knows her mom was looking out for her. “I guess I really did have a mom.”

Jung-sook’s stepdaughter shows up at the bar. Yong-shik sits separately as she and Dong-baek talk. She claims Jung-sook is doing the same thing she did after getting diagnosed—hiding.

We flash back to when the stepdaughter had found out Jung-sook had a life insurance policy with Dong-baek as the beneficiary. She accused Jung-sook of using her father’s money, although Jung-sook insisted the money was her own. The stepdaughter threatened to take her to court over it.

Dong-baek looks at her own name on the policy: Oh Dong-baek. We see her mother sneaking in to get her fingerprint while she slept. Later, she even asked her if she had insurance, talking about how much money you can get.

At the meeting with her stepdaughter, Jung-sook had tearfully lamented that she couldn’t even buy food for her daughter. So for the last 20 years, she’d never missed a payment. She sobbed that she was a horrible mother, but she at least wanted to leave her daughter some money. “Who are you to stop that?!” she screamed.

In the present, Dong-baek realizes her mom didn’t want a kidney after all. She just wanted to give her the insurance money. The stepdaughter haughtily warns her that her uncle is a prosecutor, so she should dissuade her mom if she doesn’t want her to end up in jail as a gold digger.

Dong-baek slaps her in the face. “How dare you call her a gold digger!” She says someone like her doesn’t get to talk about her mom like that.

That night, someone stalks Jung-sook down the street. Jung-sook stops and turns around. “What? Did you follow me to kill me?” A man in all black steps out of the shadows. Jung-sook looks surprised.

 
COMMENTS

Okay, I’m not gonna be happy if Jung-sook dies like this. Dong-baek hasn’t even had a chance to have a conversation with her about everything she’s found out! I never believed she abandoned Dong-baek for no reason and came back just for a kidney, but I can understand how Dong-baek would. I find Dong-baek’s relationship with her mom to be the most compelling relationship in the show. It’s so messy and real. In Dong-baek’s shoes, I’m sure I’d resent my mom too. But now that she’s grown with her own kid, it’s harder to hold onto that resentment when she’s starting to realize her mom did the best she could to protect her and give her a good life. Her constant mantra of “I hate my mom” sounds more and more like something she’s saying to convince herself.

I think Dong-baek needed to vent her anger at her mom before she could move on to understanding and forgiveness. And, honestly, the way Jung-sook abandoned her at the orphanage without explaining anything, even telling her to pretend not to know her mom’s name, was horrible. There had to be a better way of handling that. Poor Dong-baek had to grow up thinking her mom just didn’t care about or want her. So I get her unwillingness to give up her anger easily. But, like Yong-shik said, she’s not built to hate people.

Speaking of Yong-shik, his mother is officially driving me nuts now. I get that she’s worried about her son getting hurt and that the fire is a trigger for her because of her husband. But it’s not like Yong-shik won’t ever face danger without Dong-baek around; he’s a police officer! It’s sort of his job to wade into dangerous situations and help people.

I know that she wants her son to have an easy life because she loves him, but at some point, she needs to let him live his own life. He’s not a little kid she can shield from unpleasantness anymore. I’d understand her adamance if Dong-baek were a terrible human who was going to ruin him, but she definitively isn’t. Even if being with Dong-baek does make his life harder, that doesn’t make it worse. Not every difficulty is bad.

Also, no matter how hard I try, I can’t wrap my head around the cultural aversion to stepchildren. Coming from a culture that doesn’t place such importance on blood relation, I find it impossible to understand the idea that you need to have a genetic stake in a kid to love them. Chosen family is no less real than biological family. And in this case, Pil-gu is an awesome kid who handles things like a boss. If anything, he’d probably help raise Yong-shik into a more mature adult.

I’m frustrated that we still don’t know the Joker’s (or Jokers’?) motive. As it stands, last week’s reveal about Heung-shik’s dad and the fires and this week’s reveal that Heung-shik is likely the murderer seem almost random. It would be more impactful if I knew, well, anything about them and what’s driving them. Hopefully, the coming episodes will dive into the murder-y father-son duo and what makes them tick. Since our intrepid, bumbling detective (and friends) is making surprising headway with the case, it might not be too long before we get some answers.

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Thanks for the recap @quirkycase - I now get a little more about what happened from your explanations.

This is my go-to show on Wed and Thursdays. All the characters are real and complex and compelling (with the exception of Yong-shik's mom and the horrible woman who is 'mother' to Kyu-tae) and I love how we are learning about them.

For some reason I wasn't picking up on the real big hints about Heung-shik's father, and like you am looking forward to more reveals.

Loving this show all over the place! But I want more of the Ahjummas!

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Yayyy they introduced Yeong-shim finally! Could theres more to her since she was mentioned so many times?
I really enjoy the light scenes they put in between the serious situations. Haha the three of them leaving with the footage in style! Hahaha!
Agreed quirkycase, seems like Pil-gu can raise all 3 parents to become more mature!
Please Show no more deaths!

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I loved this scene with those three stooges feeling themselves after successful "detecting" :D
Pilgu is the best, he is better at parenting adults than the adults, I really like his scenes with JR, you can see lightbulbs finally going up in JR's head. YongShik's mother is exhausting, it's a miracle that YS didn't end like KyuTae, emotionally stunted because overbearing mother. I think DB and her mother storyline is to neat, although I like that mom is there for her now.

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I have faithfully been watching and loving this show, but this is my first time commenting on the recap, after a brief hiatus from DB...

I won't go into gushing about it here, but I wholeheartedly agree with your criticism @quirkycase. There are two minor things that drive me nuts about this show:

Speaking of Yong-shik, his mother is officially driving me nuts now.

YES! YES! YES!
No matter how hard I try, I just don't understand her. Yes, some of her reasons might actually be rational, but at the end if the day, her son is not her property and who he chooses as his life-partner is HIS choice. Both him and Dongbaek have shown that they care for each other and that they are serious about their relationship. I feel like at this point, Yong-shik's mother's behaviour is actually disrespectful to her own her own child. Her aversion to the relationship makes no sense at all. "She is a single mother" just doesn't cut it, and it makes even less sense that she actually likes Dongbaek as a person, but not as a daughter-in-law??? She's also being unnecessarily difficult and cruel, given the fact she KNOWS how hard it is to be a single mother, because she's been in that position herself!
The one redeeming factor about this subplot is that Yong-sik is just forging ahead regardless of whether he has her approval or not.

The other thing I also find a little problematic is the lack of info about our murderer or murderers. I think the Joker subplot was handled superbly until we found out who Joker is. The subplot was really being carried by the suspense of trying to guess who Joker is, but now we KNOW and it feels like that plot-line lost a little bit of steam after that. Who is Joker? Is it the doing of the father or the son or both? Why? Is Joker mentally stable?
Also, after Hyang-mi died, I felt like the show was dragging a little bit in actually confirm it, and therefore get closer to catching Joker.

I still think the execution of balancing this slice-of-life tone with the murder mystery is done almost impeccably, but they're really milking the Joker plot to the last minute and it feels a little less exciting because we already know who Joker is. They should've just revealed it towards the very end to keep the suspense going maybe.

So because of these two plot points, my current rating is 8/10.
Every week I watch this show with the fear that it will have lost it's magic, but I feel like it gets better every week generally.
I don't want it to end 😭

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I think there is at least one more surprise to come regarding Joker's identity. I think Mom was a little off when she ID'd HS. Ever since it was revealed that Mom and baby DB were in Ongsan after leaving DB's abusive father, I've been suspecting that the drama would lead us to his door. That would explain why Joker was obsessed with DB and why Mom was surprised when she confronted the black figure that was following her. On the other hand, it would not explain how Joker could watch DB every day without Mom noticing, and it would not explain why Mom did not think Joker's eyes looked familiar when he bumped into her that fateful night. We had an episode on mothers. Have we had one on fathers? If we do, I won't be surprised if it ties YS's dad's death to Joker, too.

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Yes! I’ve been wondering if it’s DB dad behind all this ever since the snippet about baby DB

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Ooh! I hadn't given much thought to the fact that Joker might have a personal connecting with DB!
That's actually a very plausible theory, and I think it would be a nice little twist for this show to tie things up!

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I agree with everything, plus we can wax poetic about mother's love and sacrifice and wanting to do everything for a child but there is need to be acknowledgment that it can lead to screwing child entire life if not administered with caution.

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Sure, this episode was full of the SK mother tropes, but for me those actually hid what this episode was really about.

This Ep re-wrote how I saw the characters - and confirmed this story was always about why the Joker was not caught 6 years ago. Now we learn it was because the town stayed silent as they were hiding its own minor infractions. This is a story bread in people covering themselves by selling everyone down the river. That theme repeats at every level of the story.

Lord No - I had thought was a bumbling but naive "big noter". Now we learn what he knew, and its a lot. He watched the CCTV of the witnesses and knew of the tape. So now Lord No, who is complicit in the cover up and knew what the resulting slur caused to DB's life, then proceeded to torment DB (his tenant) for affection for 6 years...That is some top shelf and crazy dark level gas lighting.

The street Ajummas were all present on that night and were part of the silence. They all then participated in and fed the treatment of DB for what they themselves could have prevented. It casts a whole new light on the ep13-14 scene where YS was trying to elicit information on the Joker. Even with their inside knowledge, they essentially cover themselves (and each other) by slandering people for being different - even a victim.

Given that lens and the way mothers have acted, I now also question the Sharman at Deok-Sun's husband's funeral. It was such a strange occurrence and showed us how much of a con it was. So who would benefit from such a slur. The husbands family? All those wailing looking to wash guilt on to the widow?

This episode - while trying to start unpacking a redeeming arc for DB's mother actually does the opposite. We learn she was there - even setting off the fire alarm and then stayed silent and in the shadows. Leaving her daughter and Pil-gu out to dry. Q: what do you thing DB and her son lived on for all those months when she had no business (all we were show of her life is that mound of rotting cabbage). I so hope @pakalanapikake is right and there is a dark secrete about why she left DB that the show is yet to reveal.

This really is a subtle telling of what is at the heart of Gothic Suburbia tales. Sure filial piety and a mother's love for many is the source of warmth and home - but this show never flinches from the flip side - that it is also the justification and mask for brutality and misery.

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Well said.

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@SadKDramaLama,

I appreciate you pointing out the darker side of some of the plots we discovered in this episode and how it could be tie to why the evidence of the Joker caught on video didn’t come to light for the investigation until now. Definitely it could be argued that this allowed the Joker to continue to elude the police for the 5 years and the police continue to have no visual clue to ID him aside from the vague shoe print and DongBaek’s description of his cough.

I do want to RAISE A DEFENSE for our main pack of 5 Ahjummas though! :) As from how I view it, I don’t think they knew of the illegal casino and we’re probably honest with YongShik in their trying to speculate who the Joker could be in the ep13-14 scenes you mentioned. And also in ep21-22 they were answering honestly about the Hanbit Academy being suspicious and even questioned about what looked like boxed up covered windows from the photo YS shared with them. If you watch the clips of the Casino flashback they are not among the people gambling. The persons who we saw at the casino that we could recognize was Kyu-tae, and Seung Yeob‘s sister (Seung Hee - she is the younger person who usually hangs around with the 5 Ahjummas), and ChanSook’s husband (which I suspect he’s gambling without his wife’s knowledge during that time. I would bet Chan-Sook would give him a beating if she found out this truth!) To me the Ahjummas are not always nice and can be rough mannered, but they are very community oriented and they are shown to us to be the bread winners of there businesses and household, so I don’t think they are among the gamblers. The 5 Ahjummas I’m referring to are - Chan-Sook, Jae-Young (the rice cake lady), Ji-Hyun (the produce lady), Gwi-Ryun, and Eun Shil.

Back to the reveal about the CCTV video and Kyu-Tae’s confession, since there was a covered up to protect the secret of the illegal casino that many people of Ongsan participated in, I agree with you, that essentially, all those people who kept silence about the casino - like Kyu-tae and the husband of Chan Sook's and the sister of Seung Yeob - contributed to allowing the Joker to continue to remain at large, especially Kyu-tae since he was aware of the CCTV, but didn’t speak up as witness sooner since he wanted to protect himself.

“This is a story bread in people covering themselves by selling everyone down the river.” - your comment here is very strong words....and though I don’t see this story as having that as the bread and focus, I could also agree that such underlying current and theme is true and present. People would be able to justify doing what they know are wrong/bad choices to keep there life going well and they can discard the well being of others for their own self-preservation. That doesn’t just exist in the “Gothic Suburbia tales”, but the real world too.

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@LorNgn

Aren't the Ajummas actually shown playing in the casino on the night of the murder (even some of their husbands are shown in that scene). Hence they would have been hiding in the dark while the police were outside - They know.

I so agree, the Gothic Suburban occurs in the "real world". This is actually why this genre is so cutting. For all of us, acknowledging that monsters live with us is uncomfortable and Suburban Gothic cuts through the veneer of wholesome stories we tell ourselves. (Yes, I know this veneer is so we can function - and we all do it).

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@SadKDramaLama

I always enjoy the discussions and social/psychological themes you share! Makes for interesting reflection of the show’s storylines and also a reflection of the real world and situations too :)

So, about just the 5 Ahjummas I was wanting to defend, I didn’t recall seeing them in the scene of people playing in the casino on the night of the murder when I first watched. After reading your post, I rewatched that scene again a few times to see if I missed them. And I’m pretty certain that those specific 5 ladies are not shown among the gamblers.

Yes, you are right there are the husbands present and shown in that scene, actually more than just Chan-Sook’s husband. But just like how the husbands go to Camellia to drink in secret of their wives, my thinking is that the husbands engagement with the illegal gambling is done without their wives’ knowledge also. So in regards to just the 5 supporting Ahjummas, I believe they are not in the know about the Hanbit Acadamy actually being an illegal casino. And their interactions with YongShik about the question of who is the Joker and also about Handbit Academy was quite natural and frank to me as is how those 5 ladies tend to be too. So I believe those 5 ladies are not in the know. There husbands may be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they would be. That just my take :)

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Yong-shik's mom may be getting irritable but I still get where she's coming from. Remember the theme of this episode is all about moms and what they will do for their kids - even though all of them are grown-ups. Even Jessica's mom doesn't know how to help her own daughter's need for constant attention.

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But if HM was right about Jessica, then the root of her need for attention is that she never was acknowledged by her mother. She was a commodity, not a loved person.

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I also find it a little bit ironic that Jessica's mother is sort of being included on this list of altruistic mothers, given the abrasive and manipulative behaviour we have seen from her in the past.
Yes, she is a mother and I have no doubt that she cares about her daughter, but I feel like now she is trying to bridge a gap that is too wide. The damage of her parenting has already been done.

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@Yuyuu, The Drama Queen
I agree with your point if the “irony”. I also find it hard to consider Jessica’s mother or also like Kyu-tae’s mother as “altruistic mother’s”, since their parenting is more of the “abrasive and manipulative behavior” that you comment.

They may think that they are on their children’s side and justify all their hurtful and manipulative actions because of it, but actually they are only wanting their children to always put them on a pedestal and to always see things their way, without ever trying to see things in their children’s shoes. There are certainly parents that are like that, and that style of “parenting” is not necessarily in a child’s best interest.

There was a very poignant statement that

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Oops...a part of the my reply was cut out before sending.

I wanted to comment:
There was a very poignant statement that Ja Young made, in episode 19-20 translated as “Motherly love is always great, but it’s not always shown in the right way.”

This statement is one of those in the show that sticked with me.

I believe it is possible for even “motherly love” to be shown in very wrong ways that it could put to question the intention and sincerity of the love itself...and when that is the case, such love may no longer be of the selfless kind.

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But every single mother portrayed to explore this idea is horrible, controlling, manipulative and selfish. While some voiceover soothingly tells us that when women becomes mothers that's all they are forever and they'll do anything for their children. And I can't work out if the show is doing it deliberately or if it really thinks these women are justified in their behaviour just because they gave birth?

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Me neither, i was horrified to see all the mom's including Dong baek, she is also a bad mom, given that her son is like a parent to her. And the mess she is creating with her kids father, why don't they just talk as adults and decide onna plan on how to deal with parenting rather than fighting? Also they should work more to explain pilgu about the remarriage than YS's mother! His understanding is far more important.

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This is where I run into this weird cultural thing where you have your family and your family only and it's a set unit. So him being a father to Pilgu becomes about whether he's with Dongbaek or not and the idea that she can have a relationship with Yongshik while Pilgu's father exists is so unthinkable that nobody seems to have thought it. I also hate the subtle sexist slutshaming around Pilgu's father "visiting" and wish to hell that Dongbaek had told her future MIL to f**k off. She's an adult woman who's capable of seeing an ex without sleeping with him and Yongshik is a grownass man who should be capable of having this conversation with Dongbaek as well. I hated that noodle scene where he came to "claim his woman" and hated it even more that Dongbaek's mother was cheering him on. She's not territory for him to plant his damn flag.

As much as I'm enjoying the show - and it is a good show overall - it tries to both critique the unfair misogynism of this society while simultaneously embodying it. This a very common problem.

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I could understand where Deok Soon is coming from. She has always felt guilty that Yong Sik grew up without a father (even though she said it outloud that she didn't believe in those mumbo jumbo, but deep down she did). Hence, she's always been over-protective when it comes to Yong Sik compared to his two brothers. And this, I think, is her major road-block when it comes to YS-DB relationship. Regardless of what she told DB when they're just friends, she did believe in what the other people in the village believe, that DB is bad luck. And when YS got hurt in the fire and she found out that Joker is after DB, she just lost her lid. Imho, she's just being a normal human being. We can be objective and logical when we're not emotionally involved. And I don't think her objection of JR butting in DB's life was because she thinks DB still has feeling for him or that she'll sleep with him again. That stems more from JR belittling YS with those you-can't-afford-a-good-life-for-my-child comments.

There is also the Confucian virtue of filial piety in Asian family. Sure, YS and DB are grown-adults. They could just say f**k off to DS and did their own thing, but they don't want to. Because I think YS loves his mom as much as he loves DB. And I don't think DB would want YS to totally disregard his mom either.

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I think @msrabbit that in that comment I kind of lost my original point - which is that the show is supposed to be critiquing this social prejudice against single mothers but has instead started to lionise 'motherhood' as a concept and excuse the behaviour of people like Yongshik's mother as natural and understandable when they're just being judgemental, controlling and manipulative.

Yongshik ignoring his mother and pursuing what he wants is what makes Yongshik such a great male lead, despite his temper and bouts of possessiveness.

Because his mother is not being a protective mother. His mother is being controlling and acting as though he's her property and using things like the fire as an excuse for her prejudice.

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@leetennant Unfortunately, that is what asian parenting is, parents expect so much more from their children. I am not saying I agree with Deok Soon, but looking at my own mom, I could totally see where she is coming from. She is a Korean mother living in a small village, afterall. I am hoping the show will have a redemption point for her when she finally accepted DB at the end, but I don't think it will be anything close to western standard of parenting.

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I hated that noodle scene where he came to "claim his woman"

OMG YESSS me too!
WTF was that??? It's one thing to be assertive and make his opinion heard as DB's boyfriend, but it's completely SOMETHING ELSE to actually show up and intrude on a moment that you weren't invited to!
Like he's just gonna show up and "collect" DB like she's some sort of object?
Yongshik wanted DB to establish a clear boundary between her and Jong-ryeol, but his way of "asking" was itself crossing a boundary DB had set between her and him, since her present relationship with Jong-ryeol is something they needed to figure out between themselves and not really any of Yongshik's business per se.

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What annoyed me about that scene @yuyuu was that he was right the first time when he said he'd wait for her to come home after she dealt with things.

This was something she needed time to work out and deal with. All he did was make sure the issue was left unresolved, which is the reason why Jong-ryeol has kept popping up and overstepping his boundaries - because the one opportunity she had to talk the issue out and establish them was gatecrashed by a jealous wannabe boyfriend who's supposed to just be in a Some.

Which is all fine, except that the show itself seems to be saying he did the right thing. He didn't. He made things worse.

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Thanks for the recap @quirkycase. Like you, I come from a culture with a fair amount of divorces and re-marriages so step-children are not uncommon. As a result, I have a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around Yong-shik and Jong-ryeol fighting over the kid (as if co-parenting isn't a thing) or everyone insistence that Yong-shik cannot raise a child that isn't his own (what about adopted children then?). But I also understand that Korean society is very different from my own and especially in a small town like Ongsan.

On the topic of mothers, I do like that while this show has brought up the idea that mothers will do anything for their children, it doesn't paint them as these perfect beings either. Like everyone else, they are flawed but very human individuals and that's what makes this show so interesting.

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Thanks @quirkycase for this recap and your team’s accelerated recapping of the show to the current! :)

I was waiting for this episode’s recap to be able to comment that back in the recap of ep19-20, @fencejumper shared in the recap Comments section the following prediction that we now know was spot on: @fencejumper wrote - “I think the person who set off the sprinklers and saved Dong-baek the first time around might’ve been Jung-sook because of how unnervingly scary and determined she gets when she talks about protecting Dong-baek. She must have been keeping tabs on Dong-baek since she had the Camellia’s phone number on her bracelet, as well.”

When I had read that recap comment some weeks ago, I started to hope the story would turn out along those lines. It’s awesome that it did. Thanks @fencejumper for the great foresight to that connection and twist!

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I love this drama. Sure there are some moments that make me cringe a little bit because of how corny it can be. But it is also extremely heartwarming and filled with lovable flawed characters, that feel human!

I'm so glad that the ratings for this show also match the quality as well. May this show rise and hopefully reach close to 30% for its finale! Also hope they catch/show the Joker soon aka not the last to final episode please!

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I find it really frustrating that a show devoted to the idea that a mother is still a human being - someone deserving of love, security and support and capable of making mistakes - would start fetishising motherhood to this extent. Fathers are nowhere to be seen in this equation and yet I'm supposed to think it's fine that Dongbaek's mother has been essentially stalking her for five years, allowing her to struggle on her own while she watched, and that his because motherhood subsumes women and becomes all they are and if it doesn't there's something wrong with them.

Somehow the act of motherhood justifies all the horrible behaviour of more than one mother on the show so far. It's a horrible philosophy and - most importantly - it completely contradicts everything else the show has been saying since day one.

I hate that Yongshik's mother treats him like some asset she acquired and has invested in and she doesn't want her investment wasted on "another man's child" as though he's her property and that is seen as normal and even laudable motherly protectiveness. As usual, it's about this point in a lot of these kind of dramas where I start to get annoyed and confused.

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Great comment recap! I am right there with you. When DB slapped her half-sister...Brilliant. ( perfect character development )
I don't understand, either, about the stepchild reluctance, in this drama or in any culture. Biological, Adoption, Stepchildren- all, to me, are the same, in regards to how they are raised and loved.

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i just love this show, honestly.

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LOL, I just realized that YS, the actor who is playing him was in Scarlet Heart and I loved him in that role. Great Actor- his range is outstanding!!!! ( many actors do not show such a broad range and do them extremely well- he knocks it out of the ballpark ) just my two cents worth.

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