Beanie level: Eunuch in drag

Record of Youth – episodes 13 & 14

I’m finally on board with the Show. It just took 14 episodes. HAHA!

I came in with the wrong expectations. Most Korean Dramas tend to follow certain formulaic plot or character developments, and how the audience judges the execution of the drama is how well it manages to make the tropes new, fresh, subversive, or thought-provoking. In particular, the leads must vanquish the insurmountable challenges, whether it is different social statuses, character flaws, time warps, etc.

But, in Record of Youth’s case, I feel like our leads, whilst still imperfect, are the only sane people in an insane world.

The subtle and nuanced story the drama seems to be telling is how hard life is no matter what.

Whether it is the struggle uphill or the struggle to STAY on top, it’s always a fight and never easy. There will always be people who exploit you when you’re starting out, with little clout or backing to protect you. Once famous there will always be people who either want to capitalize on it, or try to tear you down. If anything, this Show tells us that fame and professional success isn’t a guarantee of a happy life, or that everything is “sorted” afterwards. The problems don’t just go away, you get new ones. In a world like this, who could possible survive with his/her integrity in tact?

Hae-Joon is about as perfect (professionally) as one can envision. He has integrity, honesty, and a strong work ethic. He never exploits. He never takes revenge. He values both family and friends. Fame and money didn’t change the core of his character. He remained level-headed and clear-eyed on his goals and his decorum. He never took the easy way out, even when it costs him. Professionally, you don’t get more perfect than that. Maybe this is why it felt as if the episodes were stagnant before. I expected him to be growing and changing, when actually, he’s this normal (but upright guy) working in a corrupt and capricious industry. He doesn’t need to change. He just needs to remain standing. And that’s quite hard!

Remember when his first drama was a success and his manager wanted him to take a romantic comedy next, but he wanted to do a sageuk? I understood where that manger was coming from. Fame is so fickle and frail, you need to keep the momentum going, and odds are that people tend to like romantic comedies, and sageuks do not tend to do well in the ratings. But, Hae-Joon stuck to his instincts and his desire for a good story. How gutsy and rare!

For all of Jeong-Ha’s flaws, she also is fairly irreproachable. She’s fiscally responsible. She prevents herself from relying too heavily on others, she works to be independent. She has vision for her life, and takes steps to realize it. She’s sensible. She’s classy, and professional with that terribly colleague of hers from episodes 1-8. She recognizes the stresses that Hae-Joon is under, and so whilst we would all prefer her to share her struggles and lonelines with him as he gets famous, she’s actually wise in recognizing that he also has tremendous pressure on him, and does her best to be accommodating and considerate to his emotional needs. Again, not perfect, but if you think about it, most girlfriends would be like Do-Ha’s girlfriend from episode 1 – neediness, demanding, and tacky; or like Ji-A, manipulative.

This is not to say that their relationship is perfect. I’m still not entirely sold on why Hae-Joon fell in love with her in the first place, nor what keeps the flame going. I would agree with all the other commentators that their communication still needs a lot of work. But, I don’t think we’re meant to find something wrong with them that they need to fix. I think the Show reveals to us that even with the most sensible and loving couple, the struggles of youth can tear them apart.

It is really rewarding, though, to see the family’s divisions and tensions start to melt away, apologies expressed or implicitly spoken, and breaches healed between the different members. I like that Hae-Joon’s fame didn’t make things better with the family. They had to come to a decision to bring about the healing themselves. Grandpa giving his son an allowance in episode 13, it was so touching to see Dad’s face light up – not because he’s materialistic but because he’s had to bear the brunt of fiscal responsibility most of his life and at the cost of his health, but finally he got “taken care of”. Even in the earlier episodes, we could start to see Gyeong- jun’s implicit affection and loyalty towards his brother by taunting the mean commentator. Then, in episode 14, the Sa brothers working together to write that apology letter was just adorable. I almost cried.

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    But don’t Hye Joon and Jeong Ha seem too idealistic and perfect then? I mean obviously characters can be perfect but I didn’t watch the show after a few episodes but I thought it would inevitably go that route where fame changed atleast his personality.

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      @wapzy: Yes, I agree with you that Hye-Joon and Jeong-Ha are idealistic, but I would think that makes them imperfect. Yet, aren’t all youths idealistic? It’s only once they enter the big bad world that they realize that life isn’t fair, goodness doesn’t always win, and innocence can be twisted to make someone appear guilty. The show is called “record of youth” and it’s supposed to be a coming-of-age story. So, I think it’s about growing up and growing into the harsh realities of life.

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        Oh I agree that youth is idealistic and so were the characters at the beginning but what I’m saying is that shouldn’t their idealistic beliefs and perfection be reduced by the end (again pointing out, I’m saying this just by reading your post not actually watching the show). If they essentially remined the same then where is the character growth? For the episodes I watched, both these characters seemed real, perfect and idealistic to begin with, the only thing they lacked was success and I thought that the idealistic beliefs would be shaken and the perfection would be altered as the episodes pass by.

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    I’m not following this so closely, but I do agree that the show becomes better/more manageable as it goes on. If I have one complaint, it’s that Hye-joon and Jeong-ha are too good? I don’t see myself in them — although I try every day to be the best person I can be, to be a person of integrity and honesty, I sometimes don’t do as well as I wish. So I don’t see myself in these characters, although I def wish I could be more like them.

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    I still really like this show and look forward to it every week. I didn’t expect a formula, but did expect an introspective look at what life has given these characters and how they navigate it. I really love the family dynamics that finally showed itself in episode 14, like this family has finally figured out how to support each other. And I totally get how difficult it is to have a relationship with someone at the beginning of your careers and how busy they are and you are. It’s sometimes like ships passing in the night. You never see them but have to have faith they still love you and care about you. I do like how Hye Joon is able to tell Jeong-ha in just a few words and looks that she’s adored by him. But she’s busy too. And less inclined to be swept up by romance. I feel like many people who don’t care for this show have a bias against girls who aren’t just head over heals in love. She’s so level-headed, but she has to be. She has been since supporting herself on her own. I like her. And as much as I hate to admit it, she’s very much like me. I’d totally break up with my boyfriend under the same circumstances. I would think I was running on borrowed time. I’m not emotional. Breaking up is easier the earlier you do it. The only boy that I never broke up with was my husband—I initiated all my previous break ups. You see where things are headed and that they aren’t working faster than the other person. She’s used the seeing several steps in front of her. I get her. She’s totally independent and definitely not anyone’s potted plant (although a prominent potted plant is noted these last few episodes). This show feels like real life and their decisions feel real.

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Just finished watching Record of Youth episode 12, and I found it MUCH better. The plot and relationships are developing nicely. I just wish this had happened about 4 episodes ago.

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Am I listening to this cover on repeat? Yes, yes I am. I regret nothing.

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Random question, but does anyone know where I can find episodes of Lingerie Girls\’ Generation (a.k.a.Girls\’ Generation 1979)? It\’s not on Netflix or Viki.

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All criticisms of CLOY aside, I do quite like this OST by IU. I’m not really confident in the video’s English translation. Can anyone confirm the accuracy or offer a better translation?

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So, like, I\’m in the middle of CLOY episode 16, and I want to feel the heartbreak of their separation, etc….but I just don\’t….

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So, CLOY has finally become interesting again in episode 15. I’m really liking all of the reversals and echoes from the first half of the series. In particular, Ri Jeong Hyeok’s face-to-fact interview with Se-Ri seems to hearken back to the time when she had to convince him to leave her at Seung-Joon’s home in episode 8. I also really love the interrogation scenes with the NIS of the Ducklings, what an interesting comparison and contrast to the SSD in North Korea.

Anyway, I’ll write more when the recap comes out.

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Faith as a wedding ring
I’m snug in my bed, having eaten a spaghetti bolognese for dinner which I cooked. I’m reading up on the theological doctrine of justification by faith alone (Martin Luther), which is oddly more romantic than it sounds at first glance.

Martin Luther uses the analogy of a wedding ring to explain the nature of being justified (i.e. being made right before God) through faith. Faith is NOT an assent to an abstract set of doctrines. Faith is the wedding ring that Christ puts on his Bride as a sign of mutual commitment and intimate union, in which all of the benefits of Christ (grace, life and salvation) are transferred over to the believer. Faith unites the person’s soul to Christ as intimately as newlyweds.

And this reminds me of the couple rings Ri Jeong Hyeok gave to Se-Ri; tomorrow is CLOY episode 15. I can’t hardly wait! So, yeah, today is a good day.

Love,
February

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Day 13: Friendzoned by C.S. Lewis

Many know C.S. Lewis from the Narnia series, or his Christian apologetic works. But, fewer people are acquainted with the written work of his wife, Joy Davidman Gresham. A communist American, former atheist who became Christian after reading C.S. Lewis’ Christian works…she fell in love with him shortly after her visit to England in 1951(?). She ended up moving to England with her two sons (and divorced her abusive and cheating husband – who, by the way, cheated on her with her cousin)…where she tried to make a new life for herself. Their love story has a bittersweet ending, but what I find HILARIOUS is that for several years she had to endure being FRIENDZONED by Lewis. In that time, she wrote several sonnets about him, or addressed to him. I love her brazen style.

XXIX
There was a man who found a naked tree
Sleeping in winter woods, and brought her home.
And tended her a month in charity
Until she woke, and filled his quiet room

With petals like a storm of silver light,
Bursting, blazing, blended all of pearl
And moonshine; he, in wonder and delight,
Patted her magic boughs and said: Good girl.

Thereafter, still obedient to the summer,
The tree worked at her trade, until behold
A summer miracle of red and gold,
Apples of the Hesperides upon her,
Sweeter than Eden and its vanished bowers…
He said: No, no, I only wanted flowers. – 1954/55?

XI
You have such reasons for not loving me
As would persuade the sunfire to go out,
Divorce the moon from the obedient sea,
Make rain fall upward, head the rose to flout

The amorous honeybees, and talk the wind
Out of a wandering life; as would compel
Satan to consort with angel kind
And Gabriel to wallow deep in hell.

The argument that keeps the sun in power
Over his children, makes the firefly glow,
Adorns the summer with her proper flower
And decorates the winter with his snow,

Makes dead men rise and promises come true –
Such reasons do I have for loving you – 2/14/53

XVIII
I think, my lad, you learn your charity
By rote and not by heart. ’Tis very well
For flights of angels, as I hear you tell,
To shower love on all men equally;

But you and I were made for other ends,
And you are something short of angel yet;
And if you smile upon the thing you hate,
‘This kinder to your enemies than friends.

Love universal is love spread too thin
To keep a mortal warm; and when you wear
One smile for all, you freeze me with despair;
For my poor woman’s wits cannot begin

To know if I’m a pleasure or a bore;
Less charity, my angel, might be more. – 2/23/1954

Love,
February

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Day 12: Terrible chat up lines countdown to Valentine’s Day!

This is a tradition I started on my FB account, but why not share it here? I countdown to Valentine’s Day with finding some really AWFUL chat up lines that make you cringe, groan…but secretly chuckle!

01 Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I pass by again?
02 Hi, my name is Will…God’s Will.
03 Excuse me, is your name Earl Grey? Because you look like a hot tea!
04 Is it hot in here, or is that the Holy Spirit burning inside you?
05 This may sound cheesy, but I camembert to brie without you! You’re the gratest!
06 I was going to read Proverbs 31, but then I realized I could just study you instead.
07 Hi, my name is (your name), but you can call me tonight.
08 I seem to have lost my number. Can I have yours?
09 How many times do I have to walk around you to make you fall for me? (cf. Josh 6:4-5)
10 My friends bet me that I couldn’t talk to the prettiest woman in the room. Wanna buy drinks with their money?
11 The Bible says \”Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry\” … how about dinner?
12 I\’m usually not very prophetic, but I can see us together
13 Do you know what my shirt is made out of? Boyfriend material.
14 You know what’s on the Valentine’s Day menu? Me-n-u.

Love,
February

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Day 11: Things that I love…….TO EAT (in no particular order)!!!
– sushi…oh, all the sushi!
– dim sum
– Fried chicken
– My grandmother’s sticky rice tamales
– Chinese steamed fish
– Soondubu
– Razor clams
– Steak
– My mother’s Chinese New Year cake
– Chinese hot pot or Shabu Shabu
– Fondue
– Cioppino (but only from Tadich Grill in San Francisco)
– Lengua tacos
– Crepes
– My brother-in-law’s boiled skate wing
– Poached swordfish
– Poached eggs, sunny side up eggs, soft boiled eggs
– Shrimp cocktail
– Seared scallops
– Roasted lamb
– My friend’s Puerto Rican tamales
– Mentaiko pasta
– Korean BBQ
– Jjajangmyeon
– naengmyeon
– Foie Gras (I know, I shouldn’t)
– Shark fin (again, I know, I shouldn’t)
– Wellfleet oysters on the half shell
– My dad’s miso marinated pork filet

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Day 10: Eloise

I have nothing witty to say today except that I love my niece. She just turned 6 years old a few days ago, but unfortunately, Bingley decided to turn my world upside down with his messages to me. So, I didn’t get to wish her a happy birthday on DB like I had hoped.

I love children, and I must admit that it hurts a little that I’m not married or have children yet. But, that is what made Eloise such a delight when she came into the world. She was just the cutest little baby, and I loved being an aunt and taking care of her whenever I got to visit my sister. I especially loved when she got older, and I would cook her breakfast and make her little lunchbox for daycare. This allowed my sister and brother-in-law to sleep some more, I knew Eloise was starting the day right with a healthy breakfast, and I got to play “Mom” for the morning. I got to walk her to daycare, and pick her up. Then, we would do fun crafts together, or watch Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on Amazon Prime.

There are those I know who grow bitter when they don’t get what they want, or have what they want delayed. I tried that path a long time ago, and hated who I had become. So, I decided when Eloise was born that I would be thankful that even though I don’t have children, I can enjoy the children in my family and be a great aunt!

Even now, my sisters’ friends all envy that she has such a great sister who is willing to take care of her children like a second mom. Eloise always looks forward to hanging out with “Auntie”. And Auntie always loves hanging out with her Eloise.

Love,
February

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Day 8 (belatedly): Faithfulness

I have to admit that this week and weekend were a bit rough (emotionally) for me, which is why I dropped off Day 7 and Day 8 of Love, February. I know it’s not a big deal, and all of you are such lovely poets, writers, photographers…aficionados of beauty…would anyone even notice that I hadn’t posted with 30+ notifications that others had?

But, failing to remain faithful is something I dislike in myself. When I give my word, I give my honor. I wanted to do Love, February, so I want to see it through. I don’t like disappointing others, nor myself. And I fear sometimes I fail more than I like.

But, love is something more forgiving and more severe than I can imagine. Sometimes love is giving when I’m already running on empty. Sometimes love is getting up for the 89th time after falling and failing again. Because love never truly fails in the end.

Love,
February

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Day 7 (belatedly): Shots fired.

Forget the flowers. Chocolates. Sweet nothings in your ear. This is how one can tell it’s true love – when the guy trades barbs with you. Why someone would choose holding hands to verbal sparring is beyond me. Such a pity that Beatrice lost to Benedick during this round. But, there’s plenty more where that came from. Ha!

Love,
February

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An excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Military Soul. The short story is called “Hot Lips”

“Loose Lips Sink Ships,” the poster warned. After a week of censorship duties, I was sure that the squadron harboured no loose lips. But we sure had plenty of “hot lips,” and I was growing sick of playing censor.

Every night, a pile of mail was plunked down in front of me, and my job was to pore over it for any information that might be useful to the enemy or unnerving to the home front. It was a lousy way to spend an evening.

My eyes blurred, and my brain turned numb as I read the contents: Complete recitations of the daily menus. Wild guesses at when the war was going to end. Complaint after complaint about fellow soldiers. What else was there left to write about after years of war?

Love letters, of course. Boy-girl letters that positively sizzled with passion. I had my doubts about a number of those fiery attestations of undying love. I’d seen some of those “faithful” boyfriends in action in the “rest camps.”

But the husband-wife letters – they were different. They were real, and playing Peeping Tom to them was hard. I still remember one particular letter as clearly as if I had read it in this morning’s mail, though it’s been forty-five years now.

The letter was written by a ground crewman I didn’t know, and the separation from his wife had become unbearable for him. “I must meet you tonight,” the man wrote to his wife. “And tomorrow night. And the night after that.”

What was he talking about? We were on Corsica, an island thousands of miles away from her in the States. “Nine P.M.,” he reminded her. “Meet me by the light of the moon.” He even specified where he would meet her – a little building near the squadron operations office. That would be a trick, I thought. Besides, 9 P.M. here was full sun back in the States.

I folded the letter, placed it back in the envelope and finished my pile. It isn’t any business of mine anyway, I told myself.

But as 9 P.M. drew near, my curiosity got the best of me, and I strolled by the operations office in the direction of that little building. A full moon was out, and I could see everything clearly. I stopped short when I saw the figure outlined in the moonlight. A lone man. His head was bowed toward his shadow on the ground, his eyes closed in disappointment. Surely he hadn’t really expected her to be there?

Yet as I studied the husband’s face in the moonlight, his eyes tightly, I read not disappointment but intense concentration. That’s when I realized what was happening. As far as he was concerned, he wasn’t standing by an old operations building in Corsica at all. He had transported himself to be with his wife, just as she had done, and was doing whatever it is married lovers do when they rendezvous unnoticed by the world in a private little corner, after long months of separation.

I quickly turned and walked off into the night, ashamed that I had played voyeur to such an intimate rendezvous. As I walked back to my tent, though, I couldn’t help but feel warm inside. I had just seen devotion that defied time and space. It was a love that nothing could censor.

Love,
February

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Day 6: Seems like Biblical quotes are popular at the moment. I’ll throw mine in the mix as well!

Song of Songs 2:10-13
My beloved spoke and said to me,
    ‘Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me. 
See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
The fig-tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.’

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Day 5: Bingley

I like being in control. If love means letting go, who is strong enough to pry my fingers open?

I like being able to see through people. Dare I even brag, but I enjoy anticipating people’s moves as if we were on a chessboard.

Men demand I play the demure woman, as if a Scarlett could ever become a Melanie! Ha!

They want a Helen of Troy, but I’m Cassandra.

I squirm out of the pigeon holes they try to place me in. I won’t play nice to cater to their egos. I won’t cover over their insecurities when they have failed. They ask me to respect them like men, when they make play at being a man, all the while avoiding bleeding like a real one. They chaff as I dictate the rules of engagement. They fear me. As they should. They resent me. But, it is not my problem they are weaker than I.

I thought you’d be just as easy to predict and control.

But, time and again you defy me. You don’t come when I call. But when I turn, suddenly you’re a breath away.

You throw me off balance. I hate that.

Your gentle gaze unnerves me.

Your soft sway disarms me.

Your words are quiet, but they have the roar of many waters behind them.

Your strength is like a blade of grass growing out of concrete.

And before I knew what I was doing, before I could stop myself, my fingers opened to you.

Love,
February

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Oh, bloody hell. It literally took 6 tries until I got the one I wanted. No judging me, but who would want anyone but Ri Jeong Heok-sshi?

https://www.soompi.com/article/1375555wpp/quiz-which-of-hyun-bins-k-drama-characters-is-your-soulmate

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My love for the Beanies,

C.S. Lewis, in his book called The Four Loves, expounds on four different sorts of love: familial love, platonic love, romantic/erotic love, and charity. But, the one I want to talk about is platonic love, because it is so underrated.

Unlike romantic love (according to C.S. Lewis), platonic love does not gaze AT the object of affection, but rather two people, side by side, gaze in the same direction at a common object of affection. Their affection for that object is what binds them together.

In my own musing on love, I call some types of love “redemptive” love and others “joyful love”. While the categories are by no means mutually exclusive, I do mean something different for each. “Redemptive” love is when two people share a similar kind of pain, and through empathy, compassion, and kindness, each tries to help the other heal. So, the common denominator is pain. In “joyful” love, I mean the things that give us joy because it touches upon something that is so intrinsically essential to our flourishing and thriving, who we were made to be, that we feel more alive and ourselves when we are immersed in it. Redemptive love (hopefully) is temporary, but joyful love is forever.

What I love about Dramabeans is that I find a community in which we all love these stories which are told, the characters created, and the scenarios that challenge, move and awaken us to who we are, and who we wish to be. Sure, there are redemptive elements to watching these shows (who doesn’t need a good cry every once in a while?). But, more than that, I love how we can muse over, argue over, and fangirl over our favorite actors, actresses, characters, music, and storyline. It is the love of story that binds us together. I love what a warm community it has been for me. Truly, I feel blessed to be able to chat excitedly about our newest drama obsession together.

Thanks so much for being my “joyful” friends around the world!

Love,
February

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Day 3: Love III by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.
 
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             Who made the eyes but I?
 
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                             My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                             So I did sit and eat.

Love, February