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When the Camellia Blooms: Episodes 33-34

Changes can be hard for anyone, but they can be especially tough for a child who doesn’t have the full picture. Adults may think they’re protecting kids by keeping them in the dark, but they frequently underestimate how perceptive kids can be. And this hour, one kid’s hurt feelings and misunderstandings might lead to some drastic decisions.

 
EPISODE 33: “The Ongsan Avengers”

A police officer calls Hyang-mi’s brother to inform him of Hyang-mi’s death, leaving him shaken. His wife goes through a box Hyang-mi shipped, wondering why she always sends socks. He recalls Hyang-mi worrying about his bare feet when they were poor.

At the station, Dong-baek breaks down as she checks Hyang-mi’s belongings laid out on the sterile table. Yong-shik rushes in and holds her while she sobs. Afterwards, she identifies a pair of eyes for a composite sketch.

While Kyu-tae sits alone in an interrogation room, the commissioner summons Yong-shik and Chief Byun to his office.

After Hyang-mi’s death, the ajummas wonder if the Joker is truly targeting Dong-baek. Now that she’s family, they resolve to do something about it. Yong-shik narrates that the Joker is awakening the ordinary heroes inside all of them.

The commissioner chastises our detectives for running an off-the-books investigation into the Joker. Chief Byun watches, a little awed, as Yong-shik refuses to back down. Chief Byun jumps in, arguing “his kid” made more progress than the official team has in six years. The commissioner demands a written apology.

Dong-baek and Yong-shik pack up Hyang-mi’s things at the Camellia. Dong-baek asks through tears why Hyang-mi had to make that delivery. Yong-shik gently reminds her Hyang-mi’s death isn’t her fault. Blaming herself only frees the Joker of responsibility. They should focus on catching him.

Dong-baek can only identify him by his cough which Yong-shik informs her may be a tic. His explanation is interrupted by the creepily silent arrival of one of the ajummas who reminds Dong-baek about recycling. Two more ajummas drop by in succession to give her food and run reconnaissance.

Later, Dong-baek and Yong-shik run across the ajummas, all in track suits, purportedly exercising but looking more like they’re preparing for battle. Chan-sook advises Dong-baek to stick close to Yong-shik. As Yong-shik nags them to disperse, Dong-baek tears up from their support.

Chan-sook and Deok-soon pass a grouping of ajummas as they do a Dong-baek check-in, ensuring she’s alive and well. Chan-sook assures Deok-soon they’re just keeping Dong-baek alive, not necessarily taking her side.

They hold the next co-op meeting at the Camellia. Dong-baek narrates it’s the first time there’s been a crowd of women at her bar. The ajummas chide her for being so emotional as she sniffles.

Although they deny protecting her, they tell her to eat more—the Joker’s probably after her for being so skinny. Dong-baek says she plans to live in Ongsan until she’s 100. She starts crying again, making everyone cry.

Meanwhile, Jung-sook goes to the police (at the regional station) claiming to have seen the Joker. She pleads with them to investigate Heung-shik, but they think it’s a false claim since she has no evidence.

We flash back to that night in the alley when Jung-sook was followed. Heung-shik had come out of the shadows and told her he wasn’t this way because he wanted to be. He’d cried as he begged her not to do anything. Before she could respond, she’d fainted. He’d called her an ambulance and held her hand on the way to the hospital.

In the present, Jung-sook seems confused by the sudden memory. An officer whispers that he heard she has dementia, while another officer asks if she has a grudge against Heung-shik. She yells at them for being less competent than the little Ongsan substation.

The commissioner walks in and announces they now have DNA (from under Hyang-mi’s nails) for the killer. Jung-sook grabs onto an officer, begging him to check the DNA against Heung-shik’s.

Yong-shik designates their little station as the base camp for the Joker investigation. Jung-sook startles everyone by casually showing up and saying she’ll be sleeping there. She threatens to run away if Yong-shik tattles to Dong-baek, since “that idiot” will give her a kidney. But she won’t leave Ongsan until the Joker is caught.

Kyu-tae tells Ja-young he’s going to take a lie detector test, but she thinks it’ll hurt his case. Saying he’s willing to be punished if he does something wrong, he asks Ja-young to trust him. He shocks Ja-young by apologizing: “I’m sorry for making you act like a mom.”

In a burst of self-awareness, he realizes wanting her to see him as a man made him act more like a man-child out of frustration. He apologizes again, worrying Ja-young. “Don’t tell me you actually killed someone?”

Dong-baek hesitantly asks Chan-sook to babysit Pil-gu while she finishes the composite sketch at the station. Chan-sook admonishes her for never asking for her help before. They could have been watching each other’s kids from the start. Asking favors is how you make friends.

Kyu-tae has an officer bring Ja-young in for the final three questions. They ask if he was having an affair and if he’d ever been in Hyang-mi’s hotel room. He denies both. “Do you love your wife?” He answers yes, adding that he loves and admires her. The officers confirm he’s telling the truth on all counts.

At their makeshift headquarters, Chief Byun and Yong-shik review the case while the officers on the official team do the same. The official team is focusing on Jong-ryeol and Jessica, but they can’t peg either as the Joker since whoever killed Hyang-mi could have been a copycat.

At home, Jessica anxiously stares at the trending keywords related to Ongsan and the Joker on her phone as her mom berates her for wiring Hyang-mi money. “You’re about to become the Joker!” Jessica yells that Hyang-mi wanted to expose everything, and she didn’t want to be sued for a hit-and-run, so it was her only option.

Her mom says there’s no way she hit a person. She’ll take care of everything, so Jessica should stop thinking about it. “Mom, why shouldn’t I think? You always do everything for me. That’s why I became an idiot.”

An abashed Jong-ryeol stops by, saying he told his parents about the divorce. He kneels before Jessica’s mom and apologizes. Jessica pulls her mom off him as she hits him and screams that she’ll destroy him. Jong-ryeol wants to raise their daughter as well as Pil-gu.

Jessica follows him out and tells him they can say Pil-gu is his nephew and adopt him. From now on, they’ll live together as a family. She even goes as far as to hold their daughter hostage, refusing to give him custody if they divorce. Geez, woman.

EPISODE 34

On the bus, Pil-gu shares his worries with Joon-gi, claiming he hates both his dad and Yong-shik. Joon-gi doesn’t get why he’d hate Yong-shik, so Pil-gu illustrates by saying it’s like if Joon-gi sat next to someone else on the bus. How could Pil-gu sit with Joon-gi now that he’s got a new best friend? Aw.

Pil-gu rushes off the bus like the other kids, excited to see his mom. But she’s not there. Chan-sook says his mom had something to do, and she’ll pick him up later at their place. (His hurt little face!)

Deok-soon checks in with a couple of ajummas about Dong-baek, but they’re tight-lipped. They say to let her be, which Deok-soon bristles at. The ajummas tell Deok-soon to either love or hate her—just pick a side.

Deok-soon pulls the you’ll-understand-when-it’s-your-kid card. They wouldn’t be okay with their child marrying someone with a kid either. She goes on about being “burdened” with a kid before marriage until a door behind them opens and Pil-gu storms out.

She guiltily chases after him and insists she was talking about someone else. In typical Pil-gu fashion, he unflinchingly confronts her. “Am I my mom’s burden?” I love this child.

He goes home but the passcode isn’t working. An alarm goes off after a few wrong tries. He bangs on the door, yelling for his mom.

As Yong-shik walks Dong-baek out, he evades uncomfortable questions about finding her mom. Dong-baek asks him to catch her mom at the hospital, since Yong-shik says she’s still going. Instead of answering, he suggests she pop by the station unannounced sometime.

She continues worrying about her mom, so he asks her seriously if she’d give her mom a kidney. Dong-baek doesn’t outright say no. She gets a call from Chan-sook.

Dong-baek finds Pil-gu sitting outside their house and chides him for worrying her. Yong-shik enters the code to open the door, making Pil-gu ask why he knows the changed code. “Are you going to marry this ajusshi?”

Pil-gu yells that the idea of Yong-shik living with them is annoying, embarrassing and gives him a headache. Dong-baek gets mad and smacks him for being rude and upsetting her. He starts sobbing that it’s more upsetting for him that she didn’t come pick him up and changed their door passcode.

In the car, Ja-young shocks Kyu-tae by admitting she saw Hyang-mi making a delivery that night. That’s how she knows he’s innocent. Rather than telling the official team, who only wants to cover their butts, she decides to tell Yong-shik.

She walks into the station, Kyu-tae in tow, and drops the bomb: “On the night of the 24th, I saw Choi Hyang-mi.” In a flashback, Ja-young watches from a boat as Hyang-mi arrives at a shack to make her delivery. Later, Ja-young woke to the sound of a truck. Oddly, the lights were off, and the moped was in the truck bed.

It was too dark to see the driver or license plate, but it’s still a clue. Jung-sook suddenly realizes she saw the truck that night, too. It had pulled up next to her taxi at a light. She assumed Hyang-mi had sold their moped.

Ja-young suggests getting the dashcam footage from the taxi, but Jung-sook abruptly remembers seeing Jong-ryeol by the road. She’d passed by Jong-ryeol screaming in frustration while frantically searching for a body from Jessica’s hit-and-run.

Yong-shik cuts across Kyu-tae’s attempts to be relevant by saying this turns the five suspects into witnesses. He busts out his crazy eyes and announces these “lucky cards” will lead him to catch the Joker.

At home, Dong-baek and Pil-gu eat in silence, ruminating on their problems. Pil-gu thinks of Deok-soon calling him a burden, and Dong-baek thinks of the Joker’s note threatening her loved ones. Dong-baek tells Pil-gu not to go out alone.

Pil-gu asks where his grandmother and Hyang-mi are. Dong-baek hesitates. He wonders if they left to make her feel more comfortable and asks if she was more comfortable with him in China. She tells him not to be ridiculous.

He continues that one day, when he’s older, they won’t live together anymore. Dong-baek thinks he’s worried she’ll be clingy, but judging by his expression, it’s quite the opposite. She assumes he’s upset she hit him and says she’s the one who can’t sleep. Dropping some wisdom, he asks, “Do you think all kids sleep well?”

Kyu-tae undergoes hypnosis to try to recall that night with little success. He remembers a woman driving the car that hit Hyang-mi, but he ends up making up numbers for the license plate. He tells an angry Yong-shik he must’ve convinced himself he was hypnotized.

Yong-shik awkwardly collects the dashcam footage from Jong-ryeol, and they bicker like children. When Yong-shik tries to tell him something about Dong-baek, Jong-ryeol cuts him off. He can talk to Dong-baek himself thank-you-very-much.

Yong-shik asserts that no matter what, his and Dong-baek’s relationship will stay strong. Jong-ryeol tells him to say that after overcoming everything and marrying her. But Yong-shik doesn’t live like that—he takes things as they come.

The kids who used to bully Pil-gu harass him into letting them borrow one of his new game consoles. “You guys have never had a headache, have you?” Pil-gu sighs and hands over the console.

The boys walk away, bragging about strong-arming Pil-gu. Jung-sook approaches them ominously. “You may have a brother in sixth grade, but Pil-gu has a 57-year-old grandma.” Jung-sook tries to take off when Pil-gu comes running up, but the bully outs her. She turns, giving Pil-gu a small smile and wave.

Jong-ryeol checks in on Dong-baek at the Camellia. He won’t ask her to live with him but “just don’t die.” He already feels terrible that she raised Pil-gu alone but this… He asks her one more time to move to Seoul where he could give her a comfortable, safer life.

Dong-baek confesses she was never comfortable back when they dated, even though she never had to worry about rent. She’s more comfortable now because she’s proud of herself. She asks him to leave them alone.

Upset, Jong-ryeol apologizes for being the bad guy. “Let me have Pil-gu.” He can’t stand the thought of his son being caught up with the Joker.

Jung-sook takes Pil-gu out to eat, and he asks why she hasn’t come home when his mom has been waiting. “Mom likes you.” He can tell, even if she doesn’t say it and pretends to be mad at her. Pil-gu boasts he knows his mom best—Jung-sook and Yong-shik don’t come close.

He tells her to hurry back since his mom can’t stop crying once she starts. Concerned, Jung-sook asks why she’d cry. Pil-gu states, “I’m going to live with my dad now.”

Pil-gu visits Deok-soon with a parting gift, tearing up as he emphasizes how nice his mom is. Next, he breaks the news to Joon-gi who cries as Pil-gu tells him to make sure Chan-sook doesn’t bully Dong-baek. Pil-gu gives him his game console and tells him to visit Seoul.

Meanwhile, Yong-shik and Co. manage to get the license plate number of the truck from Jong-ryeol’s dashcam footage. They’re surprised to learn it’s been reported stolen by Heung-shik.

After finding out Heung-shik owns the truck, some cops go to collect his DNA. Heung-shik inquires if he’s allowed to refuse.

The cops call Yong-shik who grabs a gun and heads to Heung-shik’s. Chief Byun tries to stop him from being rash, but Yong-shik won’t be swayed. He only stops when he spots Pil-gu outside.

At the Camellia, Dong-baek says Jong-ryeol has no right to take Pil-gu. He claims he’s not trying to take him away; he just wants to keep him safe. She thinks back to the Joker’s note.

When Pil-gu walks in, Dong-baek tells Jong-ryeol to leave. Pil-gu shocks them both by saying he wants to live with his dad now.

We flash back to when Pil-gu was outside the station. He’d asked Yong-shik why he liked his mom, calling her greedy for wanting a husband after already having a son and a mom. Pil-gu said he was happier a year ago, which Yong-shik sadly realizes was before he arrived in Ongsan.

 
COMMENTS

Everyone needs to stop doing Pil-gu wrong. I was ready to hurt Dong-baek, as well as Deok-soon, for being so insensitive to that precious child. Why is he the only one who can adult? Dong-baek really ticked me off this hour by not seeing how hurt he was and reassuring him she’s not abandoning him. After everything she went through as a kid, she should be well-aware of how he feels. I can’t believe she actually got mad at him when he lashed out after being literally locked out of their home. Anyone could see how sad and scared he was!

It was awful to watch poor Pil-gu thinking his mom would be happier with him gone. Now this kid who couldn’t even bear to leave his mom for a few days is planning to live with his dad because he thinks it’s better for her. Not that I think getting him out of harm’s way is necessarily a bad idea, but that’s not why he’s agreeing. Why is he the parent here? He’s not even in the double-digits yet! Grrr. I swear, almost every parent in this show is angering me at this point.

On the upside, it was nice to see all the ajummas kick in. It’s taken a long time, but there’s finally understanding on both sides. I loved the conversation between Dong-baek and Chan-sook because it showed the hurt wasn’t one-sided. Dong-baek distanced herself from them by being too cautious, which made it seem like she wasn’t interested in becoming close with anyone. If she’d just asked Chan-sook to babysit earlier, maybe things would’ve been different.

It’s also nice to see Kyu-tae making progress. I’m glad he realized he hadn’t been a true partner to Ja-young and sincerely apologized. Women are too often expected to play mom to their spouses and partners, as if it’s their duty. It’s not too much to ask for a grown man to take care of himself. Yay for Kyu-tae recognizing that.

You know who’s not making progress? The Joker with his stagnant subplot. I’ve already talked about my issues with this, so I won’t rehash that here. But now that we’re in the penultimate week, I’m doubtful we’ll get a good exploration of the Joker’s motivations or any backstory that could make him compelling. As much as I enjoy Yong-shik in crazy-detective mode, we could’ve done with less time investigating and more time fleshing out the villain.

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I didn’t want to be the person but yong shik’s mom is my least favorite character. Why is hilarious in a drama about cheaters, dead beat parents and literal SERIAL KILLERS. She makes me so angry. She knows how dong baek feels but does this to her and her son constantly. What is wrong with him being with her. People are already talking so why be dramatic ? Everyone knows your son loves this woman so what does it matter ?!?! You’re complaining about her being a single mom yet you were a single mom and also you like her kid ?!?! Like what is holding you back? You’re hurting this woman who you know is a good person because life has been bad to her ? You’re punishing her because she had a kid ? Now if your son had married someone who was single but was a mix of the worst traits in Hyang mi and Jessica would that have made you happy?!?! Ughhhhh I hate her. Poor Pil Gu. All the mother in laws or future mother in laws in this drama make me so angry I’m developing a twitch. Gyu Tae’s mom can suck on a rock too >:-(

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There was a lot of discussion of Wangtta (sp?) in earlier recaps, especially in terms of Dong Baek's passive acceptance of ahjumma bullying. But, I agree that Doek Soon is just taking it too far, and is still unyielding, even when the rest of the crabby ladies have come over to DB's side. Especially when there's no happy-ever-after marriage in this entire show. Marriage is never easy, no matter how fortunate/rich/privileged your spouse. Aargh!

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It’s not easy and she knows it’s not first hand. She knows what it’s like to love and to lose yet she pulls this stunt. Dong Baek and I haven’t seen eye to eye this whole drama so I’ve been ignoring her actions. I love Gong Hyo Jin but I hate this character. But even if I hate this character fair is fair and Deok Seon isn’t being fair. Especially as she throws a tantrum because her 30 something son likes a girl.

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You are not alone in feeling that way RamyunIsTheName. What is Wangtta HugosHalmoni? I guess I missed the discussions.

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Someone could explain this better than me but Wangtta is social isolation. It's more than bullying in that a whole community/society decides to outcast a particular person. I believe it was discussed when we learned more about Dong-Baek's childhood and her school life (I can't remember the episode number, sorry)

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If I remember the discussion correctly, it has to do with the idea that unlucky people need to be shunned, so that their bad luck doesn't rub off on the community. Dong Baek's single motherhood is seen as proof that she is unlucky, i.e., that fate is not on her side. I also get the feeling that fate is seen as an active force in people's lives, not just an abstract idea to help explain why bad (or good) things happen to people.

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@edgarpordwed,

Here's a compilation of posts on wangtta and related topics.
Keep scrolling down and you'll find additional comments. I hope this helps. ;-)

http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/10/when-the-camellia-blooms-episodes-23-24/#comment-3546099

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Ooh thanks everyone!

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Thanks @quirkycase
Reading your recap made me realise that in the daily rush I missed watching this episode entirely. I've gotten a good idea of what went down just by reading, so thanks very much!

I'm glad to see that the ahjummas are finally unofficially taking Dong Baek under their wing and considering her family. So many missed years of camaraderie instead of bullying or unnecessary hurt feelings. What a shame. Seems we can learn something from this!

Poor Pilgu. Feeling either pulled apart by the adults or abandoned. What an experience to have at an impressionable age. It's amazing to see how mature he is: how he makes a decision, based on his idea of what's in the best interests of the adults.

In the end the immature ones are the adults. What Sang Mi says makes sense. Maybe parents do too much even for their grown up children, so in the end, those adults don't do much adult-ing. Maybe parents too haven't grown up and haven't become mature enough to let go of their kids, or they let go too soon, ... or just too early/too late at the wrong times. 😠 😒 😐 😅 😀

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I used to like Deok-soon and thought she was badass and more open-minded than all the other ajummas. Turns out she is as prejudiced as the people who called her unlucky for being a widow. How could you say Pil-gu is a burden? You know how smart, kind and protective this kid is? How could he be anyone's burden?

And I am mad at Dong-Baek too. Pil-gu and her need to talk. As in a real talk. She needs to sit him down and tell him how much she loves him and that no one, not even Yong-shik, could ever replace him. She depends so much on the kid, why can't she tell him how much he means to her?

Urgh, so frustrated with these mothers.

The only highlight was all the ajummas in tracksuits looking like a bunch of middle-age women gangsters which is something I didn't even know I needed in my life.

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Serious heart to heart talks are needed here and no one is doing it!!!! Pil-gu needs to be told what is going on with the Joker and why the code was changed, why DB was not there to pick him up, etc, etc.... and.... please someone, anyone explain to this child that his mother liking/dating YS is not a replacement for the love of him but parents/mothers/fathers... are adults who fall in love with others and has nothing to do with less love for their children. Why is that so difficult to say and at the same time, it is normal for a child not to approve but a child does not or should not rule a parents life, in that manner. I find it very frustrating. However, my partner is Korean and has enlightened me on the dynamics of family relationships in Korea- but from my American perspective... FRUSTRATED.
I am finding Pil-gu a bit bratty, to tell you the truth. Though, he was the only one ever in DB's life for his entire life so I can give him a bit of a pass but not entirely. If the adults talk to him and reassure him, I think everything could go much better. Hoping so, in any case. ( the writers are definitely stringing us along and I am there for it- :)
)

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I don't like it when parents keep things from their kids, but even I would have a hard time telling a 7-year-old that a serial killer is after me and you and killed the 'aunt' that you knew all your life.

Actually, if it was me, I would have left town 5 years ago when the Joker tried to kill me the first time, and this drama wouldn't have existed. 🤷‍♀️

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Obviously, but it's a parent job to talk with kids about uncomfortable truths, otherwise he will learn about it from internet.

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Yeah, Dong-baek should have comforted Pil-gu, but I'm not going to judge her on lashing out. She has SO MUCH on her plate and a killer on her heels who has threatened her son's life. She's a mother, not a saint. I just feel bad for both of them. :/

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There are a lot of adults in this show who are acting like kids around their own (aged) parents. No Gyu Tae, whose Mom swings wildly between saying he's the best (to others) and berating him for not controlling Ja Young. Jessica - here's a warning to parents everywhere, if you treat your kid as if they are too stupid to solve their own problems, they will become too stupid to solve their own problems!
Yong Shik, on the other hand, and no matter how much it hurts his heart, has not allowed his Mom to sway him from his love for Dong Baek. As much as I rail against Doek Soon and how she treats Dong Baek, she did raise a son who will go after what he wants when he sees it.

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Some parents are just so lucky with their kids regardless of how they were raised, coming out ok, emotionally mature, confident and responsible in life. Glad we have Pil Gus, Yong Shiks, and even the joker's son in our midst despite bad parenting.

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This show is really about the role of mothers play in their children's life, and how the absence of one affect a child under the guise of a rom-com thriller.

Side note- I like how natural the actors look. For the main leads, I appreciate that they look 'normal as can be. They are not caked in makeup, and they look tired when they are. I dunno why but its more charming/relatable for me in that regards ha, its attractive lol.

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I agree! I noticed how GHJ barely wears makeup in this drama. Chan Sook ahjumma cracks me every scenes. Her make up looks like something from the 80s or 90s 😂

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Sorry for the late comment! But yes IA. I love it, it makes the show more attractive to me lol. Like they look like us but better ha!

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@quirkycase don't give up on DB because she was mad at Pil-gu. As @Arawn said she has so much on her plate. I like how the writer makes her human and a real mom with flaws instead of a perfect mother like character. She doesn't want to tell to Pil-gu about HM, Joker and other things because she doesn't want to have him worried more as he is and he needs as well this kind of confrontation. He wants to protect his mom by any means and he's doing great. Unfortunately life can be lot of harder for someone.

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I too am a little ticked at how Pilgu has been treated, though it can be pretty common with kids. No one (except ironically his dad) has really asked him what he was thinking or directly addressed the hints he has been giving. And there are so many easy solutions. Like letting him see his dad openly. it doesn't mean giving up your kid. And having Pilgu join YS and Db on some outings/dates so he has a chance to get know YS more. This type of idiocy is trying my patience a bit. Everyone walks on egg shells around Pilgu rather than being the adults and deliberately getting to know and include him.

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I am so mad at horrible Deok-soon. I can't believe she could even utter such words. She raised 3 children single-handedly, was that a burden too? It's such an out of character thing for her to say. Can't wait for Yong-shik to find out about this and tell her off. Hope that happens.
Why is this show not keeping character continuity? I was also really surprised with both Jong-ryeol and Jessica being out to kill Hyang-mi no matter how threatened they felt. They are so famous and powerful, there are so many other means to stop her.
I'm so happy that the town citizens all stepped up to find Joker, all except horrible Deok-soon. It's so great that they are all on Dong-baek and Pil-gu's side and they have indeed accepted them. And they are making up for their silence when Joker was active 5 years back which is great!
I just wonder why Jung-sook came back now and is reporting her suspicion to the police now when she could have done it immediately back then.

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DongBaek lashing at PilGu make me so mad, I observed this so many times in real life, parents getting scared or overwhelmed, and instead of owning it up they lash at the kids, ugh, just because it's common doesn't make it alright. Toxic parents are as bad as absent parents, we see this in Jessica and KyuTae and Heungshik. YongShik is such a gem.
I don't know what's going on with Joker storyline it seems like such an afterthought now, and how DB think she can hide HyangMi death from PilGu in the era of internet and smartphones? Everybody in the town know, all the kids who were on that trip will learn soon, he should learn that from his mother, after all HyangMi was in his life as long as he remembers, sigh.
And I want to add that Jayoung is the final boss!

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I've finally caught up with this drama and I can understand people's frustrations with Yong-shik's mother. Feels like her opposition is just creating unnecessary additional conflict for the couple.. How can she, who initially really really likes Dong-baek and Pil-gu as persons, then be totally against their relationship just because she's a single mother with a kid.. when she herself is a single mother who should've been able to completely relate to Dong-baek? So does she consider her kids to be burdens too?
I still think she'd end up approving their relationship but at this point she really frustrates me.

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I think part of the frustration over DS's character is that what she says and does as a plot tool conflicts with other things we know about her. As a plot tool, her job is to create obstacles to YS and DB's otherwise happy romance. As a character apart from that one issue, she has always been grumpy but kind, looking out for DB as a fellow single mother. It's hard to reconcile her two roles. That's the writer's fault for using her in this way.

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I agree, her character now feels like just a plot device for additional conflict for Dong-baek (while her character is already juggling so many conflicts at once..) which is quite unfortunate because she initially was the most refreshing character among the ahjummas in the neighbourhood.

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I guess I am the only one that can see where Deok soon is coming from. While I think she should have a filter for sure, she is seeing what we are and does not want that for Yeon sik. DB and Pil gu are, let's be real, a bit high maintenance. While there is an excuse for Pil gu, the kid is 8, what can you say for DB. She has also seen that DB has no backbone and is always on a pity party instead of just rising up and handling business. Deok soon mindset is Yeon sik is gonna get hurt or worse because she knows her kid. First it was JR and his constant putdowns that she heard and was upset that DB did not have better handle on him. Then there was seeing her son hurt from a fire because his default is to always 'save' DB. And then find out she is the target of a serial killer.

Now if DB was a better personality, I really don't think Mom would have a problem. But she is not. She is a flighty, always on a pity party, and depends on her 8 year old way too much. DB has never really done any of the things Deok soon had to do while raising her children and for her, that is the norm.

So, in a way, I get it. It sucks that Pil gu had to hear it that way though. But it's not like she said it to his face and she did feel horrible about it.

I guess I am just not gonna write her off just yet. I think she can redeem herself.

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I totally agree with everything you said.

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Thank you for your recap, @quirkycase.

Some thoughts on Dong-baek and Pil-gu:
http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/11/team-dramabeans-what-were-watching-182/#comment-3555395

"Pil-gu boasts he knows his mom best—Jung-sook and Yong-shik don’t come close."

This strikes me as a sterling example of the "magical thinking" of children who try to puzzle out what's really going on around them when the adults in their lives ignore and deny uncomfortable realities, and never discuss them. Babies and children are little sponges who are acutely aware of the emotions of the people around them. It's something that's hardwired into human infants, who have to be attuned to their caregivers to ensure their survival. When their own awareness of reality is not acknowledged – or is actively contradicted or denied by adults – children come to question, distrust, and second-guess their own interpretation of other people's emotions and the discrepancies they detect between what others say and do. They try to deduce logical reasons for what they observe, except that some of them are completely off the mark.

Pil-gu doesn't necessarily know his mother any better than grandma or Yong-shik – it's more a case of his being enmeshed with her in a topsy-turvy codependent relationship in which an 8-year-old seemingly behaves more maturely than a 34-year-old with an emotional age of 7. In reality, he has inherited her abandonment issues while being suffocated by her neediness. I'm not sure that any of the adults in his life are all that grown up, although I could make a case for his grandmother and Deuk-soon, and Yong-shik, who has displayed considerable awareness of his need for a father figure, while being very sensitive in his dealings with the boy.

Pil-gu's antagonism towards his father, Yong-shik, and all the other men who have expressed interest in his mother gives me the uncomfortable feeling that this poor kid is going to end up with an Oedipus complex if he doesn't get healthy "emotional elbow room" from his mother pronto – and a lot of therapy.

Lord No surprised me with his heartfelt apology for his childishness to Lawyer Hong. Perhaps their time apart is leading to a healing of the rift between them. That and the fact that his horrid mother is no longer reveling in tormenting his ex-wife 2-3 times each week. These two are for you, folks:
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/927807/

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Truth to tell, I'm feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted by all the dysfunction I've been witnessing in CAMELLIA since about eps. 13-14. Maybe that's the highest praise I can give Writer-nim for devising characters who are flawed in a variety of believable ways (aside from ones who are way over the top). Kudos to the actors who have been bringing them to life.

In eps. 23-24, Hyang-mi's homelessness, urgent need to escape from Ongsan, and desperation to send even more money to her brother in Copenhagen prompts her to heist the “clams” in the box of abalones. She thinks back on the family dinner at the Camellia and muses that being remembered by Dong-baek would give her life meaning. To that end... a little music therapy.
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/917344/

http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/917326/

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@SadKDramaLama,
I just posted a belated reply to you in the ep. 23-24 recap thread. ;-)

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I get why people find Dongbaek frustrating at times but, honestly, a person can only handle so many things at one time. It wasn't unreasonable for her to expect that she could let some of the people around her help out for a bit and try to talk to Pilgu later on. Parents aren't telepaths; if he's not going to tell her what he's feeling then she's not going to magically know. Pilgu may have had the 8 year old equivalent of a no-good-very-bad-day but she had the adult version of that on crack.

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