Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 3
I wouldn’t have thought this show could get any more adorable after its strong start, but then it went and did exactly that. But it also adds some more serious moments into the mix, allowing us to see deeper into our characters and their conflicts. Emotions run high when you’re young, making every little thing seem like life or death, and Bok-ju in particular is about to learn just how painful and beautiful first love can be.
EPISODE 3: “Let it go”
Bok-ju gathers every bit of her courage and makes an appointment with handsome doctor Jae-yi, who recognizes her right away from that rainy day. Out of nowhere and without preamble, Bok-ju asks, “Do you like Messi?” She’s taking a cue from her friend Nan-hee, who asserts that guys like girls who like sports, and this line suggests a shared love of soccer.
Unfortunately Bok-ju’s question only confuses Jae-yi, and his confusion causes her to stammer, and things just get a thousand times more awkward. But Jae-yi is a sweet guy, and he discusses the soccer player with Bok-ju for a minute, though he’s not sure why. The awkwardness doesn’t diminish Bok-ju’s growing crush on him, and after her checkup, she remembers him in a pretty haze of light, like an angel.
He’d discussed the possibility of helping her lose weight, and it’s not until after the appointment that Bok-ju realizes his program costs nearly five hundred dollars. Yikes. She imagines his photo on his flyer asking her sweetly to sign up, and pouts sadly.
She heads to the ATM, but she’s a couple hundred short. She tries to think of a way to earn money, and decides to tell her dad that she needs new shoes for weightlifting. Excited, she runs for home and blazes right past Joon-hyung, who watches her with a big goofy grin.
Bok-ju arrives home to find her father patching up the delivery scooter again, while Uncle Dae-ho complains that they should just get a new one. Bok-ju feels guilty, and decides not to ask for the money now.
Rhythmic gymnast Shi-ho struggles during practice, and grows jealous when she overhears up-and-coming teammate Soo-bin being praised by their coach. The coach pulls Shi-ho aside to ask why she’s not improving, and suggests that she go to Russia for extra training during school vacation.
Weightlifting buddies Seon-ok and Nan-hee head to the student lounge, but they spot Soo-bin and one of her lackeys on the way. The four race like their lives depend on gaining control of the television remote, ha. Just as it looks like Soo-bin will get there first, Nan-hee throws her slipper and knocks the remote off the table, where Seon-ok snaps it out of the air in a perfect display of teamwork.
Of course Soo-bin whines, and Nan-hee teases that all she does is watch food shows because she can’t actually eat anything. Soo-bin fires back that Nan-hee reads fashion magazines even though she can’t wear the clothes, but Seon-ok just deadpans, “We don’t read fashion magazines.” Win.
Bok-ju arrives looking depressed, and asks her friends if they have any money. But they don’t have much, and Bok-ju mopes off sadly.
Shi-ho goes home to talk to her parents about training in Russia, but before she even gets in the door, she overhears them arguing about how expensive her gymnastics has become. Her mother wants to continue to support her, but her father is afraid of ending up completely penniless. Shi-ho leaves without going inside.
Jae-yi goes to lunch with Dr. Go, who notices that he’s acting strange. Jae-yi is just thinking about how Bok-ju asked him if he likes Messi, amused that a patient asked him a question for once. Dr. Go asks if the patient was pretty, and Jae-yi says that he thinks so.
Meanwhile, Bok-ju is seeing Jae-yi everywhere — lifting weights, holding an umbrella and waving in the practice room. She tries so hard to shake herself back to her senses that she squishes Nan-hee while stretching, until Nan-hee screams for mercy. Her friends note that Bok-ju is acting weird lately, and accuse her of trying to get out of the school’s upcoming mountain climbing race.
Bok-ju steps out for some air, and jumps out of her skin to see Jae-yi standing next to her, holding an umbrella. She knows he’s a hallucination, even when he cheerily asks why she hasn’t signed up for his program yet.
She tells Imaginary Jae-yi that she’s broke, but he just smiles and asks again why she hasn’t signed up. Bok-ju decides she’s losing her mind and tries to run from him, which just makes her look like a loon to everyone on campus.
Joon-hyung gets a text message from Shi-ho, who’s been drinking alone and is pretty sloshed by now. She praises him for coming out for an ex-girlfriend, but he counters that she said she’d wait all night, so he had to come.
Shi-ho tells Joon-hyung that in her next life, she wants to be born into a rich family. Then she can live in a big house, and whether she decides to pursue gymnastics or just be lazy, her parents will support her. Joon-hyung tells her not to go around talking like that because it makes her look bad, but Shi-ho replies that she really is feeling desperate.
He tells her that she’s just unhappy because there’s a gap between what she wants and reality. He tells her to be less greedy, and starts to head back to the dorm. Shi-ho stumbles and he grabs her hand, then pulls away. But she grabs him back, and says that his hands are still warm. Joon-hyung isn’t swayed and walks away, pulling his fingers from hers.
The girls aren’t looking forward to the mountain climbing race tomorrow, and they discuss different ways to try to get out of it. But there’s no way out without a serious injury, so they resign themselves to their fate. Bok-ju perks up to hear that there’s enough prize money for the first up the mountain to enable her to sign up for Jae-yi’s program.
The kids psych themselves up on the bus the next morning by singing and cheering, so they’re all pumped up by the time the teams all arrive at the mountain. Bok-ju imagines Jae-yi rising over the mountain like a shining god, beckoning for her to come to him, ha. They start, and Bok-ju pushes past the other athletic teams and even leaves her friends behind.
Further up the mountain, Joon-hyung tries to claim an ankle injury to get out of finishing the race. But his sunbae Ki-seok just kicks his other ankle and tells him to get a move on, heh. He threatens to punish the entire swimming team if Joon-hyung doesn’t make it to the top of the mountain.
Joon-hyung drags his butt up the mountain wearily, until he spots Bok-ju up again. Suddenly he has all kinds of energy, and bounces over to tease her about getting this far. She does her best to ignore the pest, but he stays right on her heels, cheering her on enthusiastically.
Joon-hyung needles Bok-ju harder, laughing when she flails at him to leave her alone. He gets behind her to give her a not-at-all helpful push, and accidentally knocks her down. Suddenly he’s apologizing all over the place, genuinely sorry to have hurt her.
He follows her like a sad little puppy, apologizing over and over, until she finally gives him her best death glare. He tries to help her, or even piggyback her the rest of the way, so she finally just shoves him away. He pretends he hurt his knee and wails loudly, trying to get her to turn back, then jumps up when she doesn’t.
Bo-ju finally makes it to the top, but she’s nowhere near the first to get there. Joon-hyung suggests they ice her ankle, and she finally speaks to tell him to get lost. She yells that they aren’t friends, and gripes at him for hovering around her all the time. She limps off, leaving Joon-hyung looking hurt.
That evening, Nan-hee and Seon-ok take Bok-ju out for food and beer to cheer her up. Bok-ju sees Jae-yi in the ads on the table, and does her best to shake it off. Nan-hee drinks so much that she gets hyper and starts flinging her pigtails, hitting the guy behind her several times.
Jae-yi’s parents are relieved to hear that Joon-hyung will be trying therapy to find out why he’s having the spells that keep disqualifying him. Joon-hyung calls and tells them that he’ll be home to visit soon, and his roommate Tae-kwon calls him a mama’s boy.
Nan-hee continues to drink, and this time she spills her beer all over the guy behind her. Bok-ju tries to apologize but he and his friends pick a fight, so she gets frustrated and kicks a bench into his leg.
Joon-hyung and Tae-kwon stop in for a drink, where they see the fight brewing between the girls and the jerk. At first it look as though Joon-hyung may go over to help, but he’s still smarting from Bok-ju’s harsh words earlier, and he and Tae-kwon head upstairs.
The jerk gets physical, pushing Bok-ju and daring her to hit him. He says that she doesn’t even look like a woman, and that hits home — Bok-ju explodes. She grabs the jerk and shakes him, and their friends struggle to pull them off each other.
Seon-ok pushes her friends away, and they sit outside to cool down. Bok-ju apologizes for losing her temper, and Seon-ok reminds her that even if they’re weightlifters, they could still get hurt in a fight with a group of men.
Joon-hyung watches from the balcony as the jerk proceeds to badmouth the girls with his friends. They start to get inappropriate, saying that even “women like them” can be attractive in a rough sort of way. Talk gets pretty vulgar and Joon-hyung finally loses his temper, and runs down to punch the jerk right in the face.
He and Tae-kwon make a run for it, grabbing the girls on their way out. Joon-hyung takes Bok-ju’s hand while they flee the jerks, and they split up from the others to draw the jerks away.
The guys stop when they lose sight of Joon-hyung and Bok-ju, who are hiding under the counter of a nearby convenience store. They stay hidden until the guys leave, and once the coast is clear, Joon-hyung decides they can get up.
He bonks his head on the counter on the way up, and Bok-ju reaches up to rub the sore spot. They both realize how close they are and that her fingers are in his hair, and they freeze for just a moment. But Bok-ju jerks her hand back and blinks nervously, and the spell is broken (then she whacks her head too, hee).
They walk to a nearby overlook to enjoy the view of the city. Bok-ju finally wonders why they ran away, and Joon-hyung wonders why he ran away with her. Bok-ju asks if he saw what happened in the restaurant, and if Joon-hyung got into a fight because of her.
Joon-hyung denies it, saying that he’s not that loyal, but Bok-ju just asks cheekily what he was running from. He fibs that all the women were looking at his handsome face so he had to run, and Bok-ju complains that he can’t ever be serious.
Still, she thanks him for making her run and getting her mind off some things, and Joon-hyung asks what kind of things. Bok-ju says they aren’t close enough for a serious conversation, but she does ask him why he seems so different than she remembers from school.
Joon-hyung says that he couldn’t survive, being so shy. He leans in close and asks softly if he’s not much more attractive now, and Bok-ju threatens to smack him, complaining that his chin is too pointy. She turns to appreciate the view, but Joon-hyung seems much more interested in the view of Bok-ju.
He tells her that whatever is on her mind, not to force herself to come to a conclusion. He says she should give it time, and she answers with a wise “Whatever.”
Bok-ju is woken from a sound sleep the next morning to find Uncle Dae-ho polishing up a brand-new scooter. Dad is impressed when Dae-ho says that he bought it with money he earned working as an extra.
Shi-ho stops in front of a shoe store, remembering that when she and Joon-hyung were together, she’d once brought him here. She’d wanted to buy matching shoes, but he’d said he hates that sort of thing and wrestled her out of the store.
Dad gives Bok-ju a ride to school on the new bike, then hands her a wad of money. He tells her not to just train all the time but to spend the money on something fun, and refuses to take it back no matter how hard Bok-ju tries. He also tells her that Dae-ho will go to the hospital with him from now on, so she can be a normal college student. Aww, Dad.
Joon-hyung and Tae-kwon go to pick up their mail, roughhousing like the children they are. There’s a package for Joon-hyung containing a new pair of sneakers, and he knows immediately who they came from.
He texts Shi-ho to meet with him, and gives her back the shoes. She asks why he can’t keep them, and he admits that he thought about it, but he didn’t feel comfortable accepting them from her. Shi-ho apologizes, saying that she didn’t realize he would feel that way.
Bok-ju stares at the money from her father, but she argues with herself over whether to use it to sign up for Jae-yi’s weight loss program. She thinks that it would be disloyal to Dad to use his hard-earned money for this, and though it looks like it kills her, she puts the money away.
Bok-ju re-dedicates herself to her training, and tells her friends that although she’s been lazy lately, from now on she plans to focus. She yells off the dorm roof, ”I’m Kim Bok-ju! The rising star of weightlifting, Kim Bok-ju!!”
Then the neighbors yell and her friends have to pull her back inside, ha. She thinks to herself that she’s liked guys before, and she’s sure this crush is just a passing thing. If she just waits, time will fly by.
She makes good on her promise, training hard and earning praise from the coaches. She’s cheerful with her friends again, too, and Joon-hyung smiles as he sees them playing from across campus.
Shi-ho walks into a meeting between the coach and Soo-bin, and overhears them talking about Soo-bin joining the national team when she gets back from training in Russia. Shi-ho tells the coach that she can’t go to Russia to train, and the coach asks if it’s about the cost. Shi-ho’s disappointed expression is answer enough.
The coach apparently calls Shi-ho’s mother, who then calls to fuss at Shi-ho for not even asking about going to Russia. Shi-ho finally loses her temper, and says that they couldn’t afford it anyway. She yells that her mother keeps pretending everything is fine so that she forgets that they’re poor, and throws her phone across the room.
Then she grabs the shoes she bought for Joon-hyung and takes them to the boys’ dorm. She walks in like she belongs there and finds Joon-hyung, and shoves the shoes at him angrily. She snaps that she was wrong and she understands his position, but that he shouldn’t reject her gift: “Wear them or throw them away, but I already gave them to you.”
Bok-ju loses the rock-paper-scissors throw to clean the workout room, and Nan-hee and Seon-ok head out to lunch while Bok-ju checks her messages. There’s a text from Jae-yi saying that now that he’s thought about it, he likes Ronaldo more than Messi.
Bok-ju stares at the message as if he just confessed his undying love, and thinks to herself that sometimes, passionate emotions surpass all time and reason. She runs out, heading towards Jae-yi’s clinic, thinking about the fable of the moth and the flame: That even though the moth knows the flame is a trap set by humans, and that it will kill him, the flame is too beautiful for the moth not to throw himself into.
Bok-ju narrates that she’s scared that this road may lead her into a fire pit, but she’s going to go down it anyway.
As she reaches the intersection where she first met Jae-yi, she blinks in surprise to see him standing right across the street. The light turns green, and as they approach one another, Jae-yi sees Bok-ju and waves.
They stop in the middle of the street, and Bok-ju stares at Jae-yi as if unsure he’s really there. She reaches out to poke his shoulder, and he smiles and asks if she’s okay. She still can’t quite believe he’s really here, and this time she touches his cheek. Jae-yi looks at Bok-ju curiously, but he doesn’t back away.
Aww, the crushes in this show are just so raw and real, I love them. Joon-hyung’s crush on Bok-ju is so cute it almost hurts to watch, and I don’t think he even knows he likes her yet. But it’s Bok-ju’s crush on Jae-yi that really hits me in the gut, because haven’t we all been there? Having feelings for someone that you know you can never be with, but you can’t help but want anyway, is such a human thing to go through. It’s painful and wonderful all at the same time, and I love watching Bok-ju experience it even as I dread her inevitable broken heart.
I had expected the show to focus more heavily on the sports competition angle than it is, but I don’t actually mind. I’m pleasantly surprised that it seems to be more focused on the realities of being a competitive athlete than the sports themselves. When we watch sports on television or go to a game or match, it’s easy to forget that many of the athletes are very young, often still students, and that they aren’t always experienced adults in charge of their own lives. So I’m intrigued by the backstage pass that this drama is giving us into the harsh realities of sports — the hard training, the expense, and the physical and emotional toll it takes on the athletes themselves.
I feel bad for Shi-ho in particular, because as Joon-hyung said, there’s a large gap between what she wants and what’s possible, and it’s the source of her current unhappiness with her life. She’s hit a plateau in her skills, and she can’t improve without further training. Yet her family has already sold their house to fund her dreams, and there’s just not much left, so she’s stuck in place. It must be a terrible feeling, to have a passion for something and even the talent, but not to be able to afford the training to really excel and make it all worth it. It’s no wonder she got so upset about the shoes — they were an expense she couldn’t really afford, and for Joon-hyung to refuse them was like a slap in the face on multiple levels. But I don’t think Shi-ho really wants Joon-hyung back, I think that she’s just longing for a time when she was still on that upward trajectory, both personal and professional, and seeing him again brings back memories of a better time for her. Shi-ho seems like a nice enough girl, and I hope that rather than chase Joon-hyung around campus, she focuses her energies on finding a way to afford to pursue her dreams.
Speaking of Joon-hyung and Shi-ho, it’s interesting to me how Joon-hyung is almost like two different people — with Bok-ju he’s bouncy and happy, but with Shi-ho he seems older and weary (and credit to Nam Joo-hyuk for playing both sides equally well). It’s a clear indication of which girl is better for him right now, because he seems most like the young carefree man he should be when he’s with Bok-ju. Unfortunately he’s so silly with her that she doesn’t take him seriously, because he’s still behaving like a little kid poking the girl he likes, and just making her angry in the process. But it’s clear that Bok-ju isn’t unaffected by him, and if he can just slow his roll with her and let her see his serious side, I think he’d quickly overcome her crush on his cousin.
Having said that, Joon-hyung definitely went too far with his teasing and shoving of Bok-ju on the mountain, and I’m glad she cut him down to size. I was so proud of him last week for calming down with the jokes after seeing her struggling, but then he ramped it back up to eleven and ended up hurting her, both physically and emotionally. Gentle teasing of the girl you like is one thing, but Joon-hyung was bordering on bullying, so it was good to see him feel real remorse for his behavior. I have hopes that he’s just a good boy who doesn’t realize yet that he likes Bok-ju because she’s not the sort of girl he normally goes for.
I really liked the fable at the end of the moth and the flame, it perfectly describes that feeling of first love. Even though you know it’s doomed, even when you can see it will never go anywhere, the feelings are so beautiful that you can’t help but suffer through them, knowing the end is coming. Bok-ju even said that her liking Jae-yi will probably end in disaster, but it’s something she just feels she has to go through. I only hope that she comes out the other side with her heart intact.
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 2
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 1
- Friends, rivals, and training sessions in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju
- Bright and cheery posters for youth sports drama Weightlifting Fairy
- Lee Jong-seok makes Weightlifting Fairy cameo appearance
- Sweat and sweetness in new Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju teaser
- Youthful love and big dreams in Weightlifting Fairy’s first teaser
- First look at Weightlifting Fairy’s genius swimmer and elegant gymnast
- Lee Sung-kyung becomes cheerful Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju
- Stills from Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju’s first script read