For this essay we’re going to practice a little bit of role play. You’re all going to pretend that I am your Cynical but Kindly Writing Professor here to keep you educated in this time of lockdown and quarantine, whilst I discuss the nuances of writing fundamentals. (This is to stop you from thinking I’m an entitled ass who doesn’t enjoy anything. You may still think that of course, that’s your prerogative, but you would be wrong; I’m just depressed.)

Welcome to Sic’s Writing 101 Lectures.

*changes powerpoint slide*

Today’s lecture is AN INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE PAYOFF, in specific reference to the Kdrama I Will Find You When the Weather is Nice (Called Ifwytwin from now on, pronounced if-we-twin), focusing only on the first 10-12 episodes, since I did the very controversial thing, and dropped it. If my essay becomes irrelevant in the last 4 episodes of the show, I’m sure you will tell me in the comments. Don’t forget to like and subscribe.

Right, moving on *new powerpoint slide*

What is narrative payoff? Narrative payoff, under which come thematic and emotional payoff, is when you write a story about a paraplegic who uses alien technology (that might be killing him) to walk again, and the consequences and lessons that can be learnt from that, and then at the end of the show you have him realise that his worth is not found in whether or not he can walk or not…
Oh no wait sorry according to Dramaland, narrative β€œpayoff” is a magic quick fix and thematic suicide, my bad, Fox Bride Star is WONDERFUL.

Sarcasm aside, narrative payoff is when the best narrative option for a story happens, and everything a story has been building up towards, in both character and theme comes to the best possible resolution it can in the best possible way it can; one that makes sense and is a payoff of everything prior.
And as we all know, dramas do not always pick the best narrative option*. Case in point: Fox Bride Star.

So.
How does this concept look when applied to Ifwytwin?

My argument is this: There is a better narrative option for Ifwytwin than what we got up to and including episode 11.
Whilst Ifwytwin has not committed character assassination, thematic suicide or metaphysical heresy (yet) (see also Lecture #5 Narrative Crimes and Lecture #6 The Death of Storytelling), I do believe there is a better narrative option for these characters, wherein we would get all the same outcomes, if not more, but in a more satisfying and cathartic way, that would be truer to the development demanded by the character set up and would ultimately leave you with a more fulfilling story over all.

What is my problem with the current narrative option?

My main problem is that I don’t think the kdrama rom com should be a rom com… oops.
*Oh no Professor Sic doesn’t like a kdrama because it’s to kdramaery whatever will we do powerpoint slide appears*

Let me rephrase: I don’t think they should be together right now, that is at the point of the story that is episode 10.
I don’t think there should have been a confession in episode 6, I don’t think there should’ve been a kiss in 8 and cute dating for 9 and part of 10, and I don’t think they should’ve slept together in 11.
I don’t feel like the romance was narratively earned, I think it happened too soon, and I think the thematic and emotional payoff would be more impactful if it had happened differently, more nontraditionally, if at all.

Why do I think this?

1) I think the directing style and the tone of the show suit a non-traditional kdrama romance format.
They do a really good job of establishing character in the silences and the slow reveal of past and present motivations, and whilst I don’t love the structure of this all the time (the non-linear timeline of the present can be frustrating in particular), this show established its slow thoughtful style very early on, and it means that more things are possible in execution than they would be with a different director and tone; I think the romance should mimic this style.
If the romance plot structure was more in sync with the rest of the show’s non traditionalism, it would stylistically make more sense and feel more cohesive.

2) I think the characters as established in the beginning of the show demand a certain kind of respect and treatment, and I don’t think a traditional narrative option of the midshow confession-kiss-probable-separation is respectful of what they need.
I think they demand a different narrative option. As it stands, I do not think the show has a good understanding of who the characters are or what they need, and I think the romance happening so quickly is a good example of that: as established by the beginning of the show, I don’t think the characters are ready for a romantic relationship and I think it does their developments a disservice to focus on it so much.

3) The subjects of depression and similar that are inferred in the show- I feel like they keep skirting round these as really obvious issues, instead trying to play them off as β€œit’s just in our blood”, or doing a semi quick fix with the romance and it feels very disingenuous to the actual illnesses that HW and ES both have symptoms of.

4) I think that a much slower development of the core characters, their issues and their relationship with each other would establish theme better, and thus the key thematic moments would mean more and the ending therefore be more satisfying.

Analysis of Reasoning and a Proposed Better Narrative Option:

β€œDo you see the same truth?”

A better narrative option that I can see, that resolves all these issues, is if there had been a deeper exploration of their FRIENDSHIP before they became lovers (whether he has liked her for forever or no); I think they should’ve focused on Philia before Eros.
Philia being the Greek word and concept for friendship as a form of love; Eros being romantic love and/or desire.

C. S. Lewis describes Philia in the Four Loves with the phrase: β€œDo you see the same truth?”
Meaning that the truest and deepest kind of friendship as a form of love comes about when two people see the same truth, have the same vision and, to quote,β€œinstantly they stand together in immense solitude”.

HW and ES see the same truth.
And yes, whilst Philia can turn into Eros, that does not nor should it negate the narrative power that Philia has on its own.
How much more satisfying would it be to see them become FRIENDS first?
To see them become allies in their pain and isolation (@pickedleddragon) first, defenders of each other’s solitude FIRST, and then companions in that solitude and silence, companions in their past pain, each unsure of the future but just trying to find a way forward. And then both learning trust one each other. Learning that to love at all is to be vulnerable. And only after this, the promise of something more.

I would argue that an exploration of this friendship FIRST, of what that MEANS to both of them would’ve been more in line with their established characters, and more in line with the themes addressed thus far in the show.
I think there are enough complex themes here that they do not need to be romantically involved for any of episodes 6 to 10 to have weight or impact.
In fact I think much of it would mean MORE if they were still just friends at this point.

The hug scene in episode 9 is the perfect example of this.
I actually loved it, the intended weight of it, the SIGNIFICANCE of Hae Won saying there are real people, and recognising ES also needs the warmth she has been seeking, and then reaching out and giving him that warmth. It’s a really great thematic moment.
Except for one thing; it happens immediately after we’ve just seem them kiss for the past hour.

Imagine that hug scene, where it is the first major and deliberate act of affection between the two of them as Friends. Imagine that hug scene from two people who are not big on human contact and who have been battling with so much their whole lives just to be loved; HW feeling pushed around and overwhelmed by what a cruel world demands of her, unable to be herself; ES in his fear of happiness leaving- and they have this budding new friendship, this budding new trust, this budding new TRUTH that they share, imagine the thematic weight that hug would have then.
But instead! The thematic and emotional weight of the hug means so much LESS after seeing them kiss for the past hour. The giggles and the hand touches and the post-confession cuteness and cuddling just feels WRONG in the light of these two’s emotional journeys, and it makes the hug seem like nothing in comparison, seem meaningless even, even when it shouldn’t. How can that scene properly convey the feeling of being warm finally after the cold, properly convey the weight of PHYSICAL TOUCH as comfort, and not always romantic interest, when we’ve just spent the last hour focusing on physical contact in the name of romance?
Why not write them as friends first, to make that scene pack the thematic punch it should???

Or again, when he leaves briefly in episode 10, how much more weight would it have if it was a primary development LEADING to them being togetherr and not happening AFTER the fact?
The scene with Eun Seop and Hwi at this point was just so frakking beautiful and heartwrenching I almost cried, and I never cry.
But it’s precisely moments like that with Hwi that make me think of how much more powerful ES and HW’s story would be if they had focused on these thematic moments between the two of them WITHOUT the romance FIRST, and then have the romance afterwards as a result of all of this.

(if at all. I have a more controversial version of this where they don’t get together at all… but that’s in a different Lecture probably titled When Not To Use Romance in Writing or Philia: The Lost Narrative Love or Why Romance Isn’t Always the Best Narrative Option or… you get the idea)

We all know that ES coming back and returning when he has seemingly always run away is a big part of his emotional journey but for me it takes away from his character arc as himself, as an individual to have it focused around and on the romance at times when it doesn’t have to be or even shouldn’t be.
The thematic weight of him choosing to come back is again lost because they’re β€œalready together”. I think it would say more if he chose to come back not because they are together, but because they share the same truth as friends. That they chose to be vulnerable as friends, no knowing where this will end up, or even what the other wants right now, but choosing to hope and trust in that friendship and truth they share, and not in a romance that to me, ultimately feels rushed and unearned.
And it’s not even that they WEREN’T friends first canonically; it’s that I wanted it slower, more thoughtful, and a slower burn.
The emotional narrative should build to them being together; it should not revolve solely around that.

For me the ultimate narrative payoff for this story would be that each emotional or thematic development is a Catharsis. The resolution/s should be cathartic.
Each moment should be an emotional release from the thematic development of the previous few episodes.
The establishment of friendship.
The hug of warmth.
The return.
And finally the discovery of a reciprocation of feelings.

But when watching them kiss in Episode 9 I did not feel this. It felt… like an excuse. It didn’t feel earned.
The kiss should’ve been, and should be cathartic. When it happens. If it happens. It should be a narrative and emotional payoff of everything you’ve been building up for the past x many episodes.

The meaning of warmth in a cold place and return when one has always left is such a beautiful theme to explore, but I feel the focus of this show is in all the wrong places.
And yes, the warmth and healing and trust can be found in a romantic relationship, however; Philia is not less than Eros, and can be as powerful, and, I deem, would be as much if not more so, in this show.
Philia can also lead to Eros and perhaps in this case should.

But I think this show would’ve thematically been much more powerful if their relationship was a natural progression of their character development rather than the only thing their characters seem based around and their development is currently focused on and relies on.
Id est, if the romantic payoff was the ultimate, final narrative payoff of the show, after each character had had individual and collective thematic and emotional payoff, after each issue and theme was explored to a substantial resolution, after Philia, in the last two to three episodes of the show even, as a final reward for everything else.

This would’ve been a better narrative option for the show.
There are other things that I think back this up- namely the treatment of Bo Young and the idea of trust, and the focus on HW’s family instead of on HW, and the unbalanced focus on ES and HW as main characters, when they demand equal screen time. But I will leave the application of the discussed writing fundamentals to those ideas, up to you.

*If you would like to read more or argue with me about whether or not there is a Best Narrative Option ™ for all stories, please see Lecture #4 NARRATIVE STRUCTURE AND PAYOFF.


*end power point*
Next Lecture Date: Unknown.
Total word count: 2367

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    Likes and subscribes for more content like this

    Despite my lack of viewing the drama itself, I do adore this essay and how you’ve broken down the unique and distinct powers of the different loves. <3

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    Haven’t read this yet but your word count got my attention as i have a 2000-2500 words philosophy paper to submit by tonight and i have written around 150 words yet. πŸ™‚
    Kinda wish it was a critical analysis paper on any kdrama of your choosing. Would be done with it in a few hrs!

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    That was one aspect of the show that irked me but I ignored it and moved on because it was doing many things right. However, since it’s one of the main things, it does seem out of place in the whole narrative. You described it well, really well sicarius. The romance development in this show just happened to be standard kdrama way while the whole show wasn’t. When ES rejected HW (even if the confession shouldn’t have happened this earlier either), I actually found that to be reasonable because none of them seemed prepared, when they got together later it again seemed rushed but by then I just decided to ignore it. I agree with everything you said but I guess this will also be a view that even if disjointed, HW and ES’s fast moving relationship can move together with their stories. They could be non linear (the approach the show has gone for) but imo it is a little disjointed then. When we have their extremely emotional and depressing stories, I feel little for their romance which happened to move at the speed of light. I too would’ve preferred them being friends in similar pain first and honestly wouldn’t have required them to give me an explanation that they ended up together or not romantically.

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    Despite not watching the drama, I really enjoyed reading this essay. We need more constructive critics like these in DB. Though I reckon this kind of essay is probably only possible for dramas that have comparatively good quality, or at least the ones in which the writer and director clearly put some thought into the story itself.

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      Ah I’d be more active and posting more like this but shitposting for a year kind burnt me out for a bit and a half lol.

      I mean yeah you can’t write this kind of thing on say Forest or Melty; there needs to be something to go off, even if it is just a potential for more because of the ideas implied, if not explored.
      I think the creators of this put in some thought, although I’m not convinced they put in enough or the right kind- the longer version of this essay dove more into the idea of where you want a story to end, and where you want your characters to be at the end of a show, or what you want from a show overall- and although I won’t be finishing this show- I’m not sure they did know where they wanted to go with this.

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        So this show is supposed to be based on a novel, and therefore was not – presumably – originally written for screen. I wonder how true to the novel this show is. I understand it is not available in English, so unless someone on DB who reads Korean has read this book, we will never know…

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    I’m enjoying the heck out of this one despite any flaws.

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    [1/2] Great slideshow, and an excellent exposition, @sicarius! Thanks also for the shout-out (I see you still have trouble with my handle, though :D)

    I agree with you on everything, and have a few things to add:

    1. I agree that they should have been bold and abandoned the standard kdrama rom-com (?I’m not sure it was meant to be a rom-com to begin with) or kdrama melo-rom (better fitting genre?) arc. It was slightly discomfiting to see the quick progress of the romance, but I was still okay with it, and went along. But then #2 happened.

    2. What got to me more was the rapid change in the depiction of Mok Hae-won as a character. I thought she started off well, as an introvert – and that’s what got me interested in the show to begin with – i.e., that it was about two introverts. But then the confession onwards, she seemed to have suddenly changed tack and become far more of an extrovert, almost as though she had swung to the other extreme of what she started out as. The extroverted personality suits PMY’s real-life persona more, and so I can see where and how it might have happened. This is where the miscasting argument holds up well, which I think some folks had brought up on another thread. Maybe SKJ is better cast since his character as ES seems to align with his persona IRL, but he does an about-turn as well, in responding to HW in the way he does. That was a little grating.Β 

    3. Β Absolutely agree with you on the subject of depression. I don’t get it – why don’t these kdrama characters actually go seek out medical help? The only kdrama/s where I have seen characters seek medical assistance for mental health issues are Weightlifting Fairy (absolute favourite – and the mental healing bit – by kdrama standards – was well done) and It’s Okay, That’s Love (not a fan).

    4. That said, one currently show that tries to understand and acknowledge that mental health is a problem is A Piece of Your Mind, but then does nothing about it.
    This obsession with converting everything into a romance, sidestepping the friendship completely is very problematic. APOYM is another show – like Ifwytwin – where I would personally like to see the leads not get together, but just become really good friends and help each other heal mentally (alongside appropriate medical intervention!). I would dearly like to read your exploration of When Not To Use Romance in Writing or Philia: The Lost Narrative Love or Why Romance Isn’t Always the Best Narrative Option or… 

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      REPLY NUMERO UNO
      Ahh noooo did I tag you wrong again!!! Mianhae- I didn’t check that.

      2. There is honestly a lot I could’ve gone into with this drama essay- but I chose to focus on this issue in particular as it was what bugged me continuously from episode 6 onwards.
      I completely agree with the character changes. HW was all suddenly chirpy and giggly and happy almost to the point where it annoyed me at times and ES was absolutely fine returning her affections except still had his internal monologue struggle with expressing his feelings.
      I think this slots in nicely with my point about the hug and point 2 of my own- it just felt WRONG to have them so lovey dovey and fine with everything when the show had established them as having so many complex issue which would realistically just not disappear the instant a relationship started.
      I think I would also agree with you on the miscast of HW… I can’t really say I enjoyed PMY in this, although I could see her trying really hard in the first few eps.

      3. I suppose some might say it’s because of the taboo towards mental illness in Korea- I don’t really know if I can comment on that… besides which things like the dramas you mentioned, and Individualist Ms Ji Yong (my personal current favourite for treatment of mental health in kdrama) HAVE had the characters seek medical assistance.

      4. I’m so glad you brought up APOYM.
      I have only seen bits of it but I came to the conclusion last week that if Ifwytwin and APOYM combined their ideas and themes, and the best bits about each- they’d both be better for it and we might just get a good drama haha.
      There was actually a moment in episode 8 of APOYM that had CSB’s character almost quote non verbatim the idea of “Seeing the same truth”, as a description of her relationship with the male lead and I was liek YES SEE??? and then the rest of the episode made no sense and didn’t expand upon that at all… lol
      Ahahaha well maybe I will draft it- who knows. I have many ideas for many essays/lectures- not sure when I’ll get round to them heh.

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        woops sorry for the italics

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        Yeah PMY in. the first few eps was very unlike PMY in other dramas. And I thought – wow – she can do a different act. But then post confession, it all fell flat.

        I like your suggestions of merging APOYM and Ifwytwin!! That’s a terrific idea. I think APOYM tackles issues of seeing the same truth in a much more sophisticated (and non-linear) visual and narrative language (and perhaps that’s also what alienated – some – prospective viewers); in comparison, Ifwytwin dumbs it down, and then throws its arms up in the air, giving it all up for conformity’s sake. Personally, I feel APOYM still has something going for it on this front, and I think the 12-episode decision might actually be a good one, if they explore all this properly. The problem is those darned side-stories (the mother and her dead child; the angst-ridden pianist and the gardener), which don’t take the main theme forward in the same direction. Stripping those off from the story would give the main theme enough time. But I think it will have to be in another drama. Not this one. They were trying to be bold, but the market got to them.

        Oh, and I haven’t watched Individualist Ms Ji Yong. *adds it to list*

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          Honestly if I were watching APOYM more seriously it’s probably get another essay out if me like this one.
          Possibly quite similar to this one actually, in reference to Better Narrative options (the end of episode 2 really put me off), and a technical breakdown for sure (that supposedly sophisticated narrative language you talk about πŸ˜‰ ). I think there’s also quite a deep metaphysical essay in there if I could be bothered treading those shark infested waters.
          Alas I’m not and can’t hehehehe.
          Possibly for the better though since everyone seems to be loving it. Gasp. I might get called a kill joy again 😂😂😂

          But I’ll probably keep watching a bit mindlessly to see what happens.

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            I’m not watching APOYM for the romance. That just isn’t doing it for me. I got really excited when I saw what they did with last week’s episodes (7 & 8), and briefly continued with ep 9, where they tried to explore the idea of what *human* companionship means, and broke it down into basics – sight, touch, sound, etc. – and by extension, the limits of technology (as we know it at present – in the show universe). They tried to show this using different character pairings, but the OTP was written the best of all, which shone clearly. Which is why I got frustrated with the side characters. It is going down the romance path, and fast-forwarding (almost ignoring) the friendship, which is also frustrating. But the existential questions that the show is asking make it interesting for me, right now. (I don’t know how much of it was intended by the show creators, and how much of it I am just concocting in my head because I want to!)

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            @pickleddragon

            If you don’t mind, can you expand upon the existential questions you think the show is asking, and the themes you like?

            Truthfully, I skipped episode 3-6. Because episode 2 ended very questionably and last week I just wasn’t in the mood for dealing with the aftermath of that, even if it got better, so I skipped to episode 7 and 8 because I figured things would’ve started to get somewhere by then. And they were.
            I may go back and rewatch 5-6 at least, or all of it, I don’t know.
            It is definitely going down the romance path. And probably why much of the above lecture is applicable to it also- although so far I think APOYM does a better job of establishing that Philia, as I mentioned earlier.

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            @sicarius

            Ah the “existential”Β questionsΒ I meant were of the show asking what it means to be alive and human. To me, that is the central theme of APOYM. Ep 7 & 8 did this best, although there was a build up to this in the earlier eps. I haven’t watched 9 & 10 properly yet, so I don’t know if they treat this question with as much intensity as the earlier two eps did.

            How is this central theme expanded upon? The meaning of existence embraces both the tangible (all living things – e.g., other humans or plants) and the perceptible (see, hear, touch, feel), and the invisible but yet “energised” (quantum mechanics and subatomic particles). The subatomic reference is poorly done, and seemed pretentious to me, and maybe I am even forcing an interpretation here. But the tangible aspect of existence was really well done – sight in the first few episodes, touch in ep 7/8, and I gathered some reference to sound in ep 9 (the sound of snow falling?). Enveloping all this are the two leads themselves, whose professions (“sound” engineer; artificial “intelligence” expert) address different aspects of human existence…

            I think this would make for a better novel or a tight movie than a – sigh – kdrama romance. I doubt if this exploration is or can be sustained in the remaining episodes.Β 

            Does this make any sense at all? I feel like I am bs-ing my way through, likeΒ @bluewaters20 and the Popper essay.

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            You explained it fine, yes. I can’t reply tonight though so I’m just gonna make a wee footnote here to reply to it in the morning. πŸ™‚

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            @pickleddragon
            Sorry for like the week late reply lol.

            Interesting.
            I can’t say I thought it to be that intentionally deep?
            But I can understand how you reached that conclusion.

            Perhaps it was aiming for deep through ambiguity and obscurity but I find it forgets to also hit some of the more technical markers.
            Good themes are followed by nonsense which are either attempted to be justified by nonsense or contextualized with nonsense and then good scenes are followed by similarly poorly constructed scenes.
            You don’t have to sacrifice technical soundness for artistic ambiguity.

            I do like some of the things it has said though and perhaps some of what it is trying to say- I just wish it had more of a follow through. (like I said- combine the best of Weather and APOYM and you’ll be closer to the mark haha)

            Anyway- how were the latest episodes? I haven’t caught up.

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            @sicarius No worries. Yeah, maybe it was not intentionally deep. I just wanted to read “deep-ness” into it. And the next two episodes undid all of this, so – nope – this show ain’t doing it for me. I haven’t watched the penultimate one from last night, so I don’t know if it remedies this in any way.

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            I would like to see a drama intentionally do what you described though- with the sense- that would be cool.

            “And the next two episodes undid all of this, so – nope – this show ain’t doing it for me” – Oh no!!!!!! Did it undo all it’s thematic progress entirely? Did it commit, as I call it, thematic suicide?

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            Thank you for sharing the deep-ness you got out of it though ^-^

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            Well, it took the story forward in linear terms, but did not explore the existential aspects I was hoping it would. I think it is restricting itself to an exploration of death and grieving, and to that end, it does something. I would have liked it to be so much more though! (The APOYM+Weather combo-deal.) Btw, Weather’s last couple of episodes *really* fell flat…

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      Depression is not dealt right ANYWHERE. Not in dramas, western TV shows or life in general. There’s still a lot of stigma around mental health as it was something you shouldn’t talk out loud because you should be ashamed. That’s the only reason I liked It’s Okay, that’s love.

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        It’s very frustrating as someone who… deals with mental health issues to see all these characters who have obvious symptoms of this stuff in so many shows and they have the perfect opportunity for good thematic development and then just… frakking don’t do anything with it or even touch on what the actual issue is. Le sigh.

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        That’s so true. I respect It’s Okay, That’s Love for that, but I can’t say I liked the show. One would think, though, that kdramas – for all their obsession with terminal illnesses and obscure medical conditions – would explore things that are more mainstream and ‘normal’ like depression, or even something like (and I go off on a tangent) physical disability. I’ve seen shows with leads depicted as visually disabled, and I can think of one show where an important character has speech and hearing disability (My Ahjusshi), but literally, nothing else. Such a shame. There is so much storytelling scope here, and so much positive messaging can come through.

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      re: point #2

      I don’t know how to feel about HW’s personality shift either. I guess an argument could be made that in finding someone she could connect to she was able to exhibit more openness of expression + riding a high of excitement and giddiness due to being in lurrve (which, if we stick to the better narrative option, she shouldn’t yet be). To me, that change could be realistic, but in this case maybe it was a bit too drastic? Too much of a 180 when the issues she is supposedly dealing with are taken into account? Idk. I do know that I am uncomfortable and disappointed with the reading of ES’s journal bit…
      I’ve also wondered about the casting. PMY has felt slightly off to me in this role from the beginning. She did play one of my favorite FL roles ever (Chae! Young! Shin!), so I know I’m capable of enjoying her.

      Anyway, my frustrations with PMY’s character got me thinking about introverted/reserved female leads in kdramas in general. As in, the seeming lack thereof. Now I’m still relatively new to dramas and I may just be looking in the wrong places, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve picked up on, it seems introverted female leads are hard to come by. I’ve been wondering why this is. Do writers think an introverted FL would be too boring? In their attempts to write strong female characters, are they equating strong with outgoing, assertive, expressive personalities? Should I be taking offense to this? Don’t get me wrong. I love my chirpy, confident, go-getter female leads. But they are more what I aspire to be and not what I can relate to from where I am right now. On the other hand, introverted male leads seem far easier to come by and as a result, I often resonate with them more than the FL.

      Anyway, just something I’ve been thinking about lately and if any of you have recommendations for dramas with introverted female leads, please do inform me. Of the dramas I’ve seen, the main ones with an introverted FL that come to mind are BTLIOF and Individualist Ji-young. I’ve heard one of the girls in Age of Youth is reserved, so that one is on my to-watch list.

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        Healer remains the only thing I have liked both PMY and JCW in… I’d think it was a fluke but I think it was more just the perfect writer/director combination for both of them. Alas.

        Hmmm that’s a very interesting observation- perhaps the writers simply fall into character archetypes like they do tropes- and because they’re tried and true, don’t branch out.
        I’m watching JBL right now and it has an introverted FL. AOY has more than one introverted lass: two very different ones in fact.
        Other ones hmmm Shopping King Louis is kind of introverted?
        Radiant Office perhaps. (also I would just all round recommend that drama, so underrated)

        “On the other hand, introverted male leads seem far easier to come by and as a result, I often resonate with them more than the FL.”
        – me hahahaha

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          Healer was a special occurrence for sure!

          Ah, yeah. Falling into character archetypes is a likely reason.

          *Adding Radiant Office to the list*

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        I. Love. Healer.

        To add to sicarius’ list: Just Between Lovers has both leads who are kinda introverted. Even the second male lead is introverted. I am not sure how much the introversion is supposed to be attributed to their shared tragedy. The FL, though, stands her own, despite her personality, and I would go so far as to call her a strong personality.

        The same goes for my current rewatch, My Ahjusshi, where both leads are introverted, and the FL is incredibly strong, manipulative and sharp. This is not, of course, a romance, though. Unlike JBL.

        The (DB hit) T-drama Some Day or One Day has the FL actress (Alice Ke) do a double role where she switches between a character who is an introvert and another who is an extrovert. Acting of the finest and highest order.

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          @sicarius @pickleddragon How did I manage to forget JBL?? Yes, I enjoyed both leads very much! I would call Ha Moon-soo strong too. That’s what I appreciated about her; showing that a character can be written as reserved but also able to hold her own.

          Thanks for the tips on My Ahjusshi and Someday or One Day! Both are already high on my to-watch list. It’s good to know they have these types of characters!

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          So do I Pickle! (can I call you Pickle?). It’s my favourite drama. I’ve actually been meaning to write a gush/positive essay on it since my mother watched it in December.

          I would definitely agree that Moon Soo is a good example of a strong and introverted character.

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            Haha pickle or any name is fine! I love pickle, it is staple for me (probably why I subconsciously picked this handle). I also find myself in a pickle often though not necessarily because of my high pickle consumption… Okay I should stop with this…

            JBL is right up there in my books too, except for the last episodes which I thought descended into unnecessary kdrama mayhem.

            Unrelated JBL fangirling: I am in love with Won Jin-ah’s voice. She has one of the most sonorous voice I have heard from a female actress across languages over the years. Purity in pitch and timbre, beautiful low pitch, clarity in diction and delivery – gives me goosebumps every time!

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            Wonderful, I shall call you Pickle from now on then haha. (gotta shorten everything ofc)

            I’m actually only watching JBL for the first time right now and am currently about half way through lol. I think a few people are looking forward to a review on it when I’m done pffft.

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            I meant to add – I’m looking forward to your gush post. I will join in the gushing when you do.

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      @pickleddragon replying to #2.

      I can kind of undesrtand the change in personality a little bit. I do think she is somewhat of an introvert anf is reserved especially around people she doesn’t know well but opens up with people she’s comfortable with. Maybe she’s not fully introverted because you can be somewhere in the middle on the spectrum right: not altogether an introvert but not altogether an extrovert either.? If you see me with my mum and sister then see me anywhere else you might think I have multiple personalities. I’m an introvert but I honestly think I am a full extrovert when I’m with them. But only with them.

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        I can be in the middle of the spectrum if I need to too but if I fell in love (lol) I would still be the most awkward pineapple around him for a long time. You could write it off as just her personality; but I feel like we haven’t really seen anything to suggest that she’s like that in any of the rest of the show so it doesn’t really feel like a genuine part of her if that makes sense?
        And even if we accept this- the show would still need to address their lack of communication as a couple- which I don’t believe they have done.

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        I understand you. Personally, I’m closer to the far end of the introvert spectrum IRL, except occasionally in an online anonymised persona πŸ˜‰ And with really really close friends, who number less than half a dozen maybe.

        But like sicarius points out, it would take time to open up to a new person. It’s not like HW has really *known* ES for that long. If she were like this only with her aunt, it’d be easier to accept. There’s no character movement from introvert to extrovert in HW’s case; it’s an overnight shift: “I confess, therefore I become extrovert.” As though because she is now emotionally close to ES, she must switch to being more chirpy and open. That’s my grouse. And it’s not like PMY can’t do the introvert act – she showed it well enough in the first few episodes. This is probably just a case of directorial messaging not done well.

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          “Personally, I’m closer to the far end of the introvert spectrum IRL, except occasionally in an online anonymised persona 😉”

          hahaha same. According to one online personality test, I’m something like 97-98% introverted. So yeah…

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    [2/2]
    5. Your reference to Philia before Eros, and CS Lewis on “seeing the same truth” brought to mind another quote I had read some years ago, from a book by Nadeem Aslam, “If love was the result of having caught a glimpse of another’s loneliness, then he had loved Mikal since they were ten years old.” (Blind Man’s Garden, I think). And this is absolutely how it ties in withΒ my suggestion (well woven into your argument – thank you!!) that a healthy romantic or platonic or any other kind of relationship is one where either party respects the right for the other person to want solitude (not necessarily loneliness), which, in turn, ties in with the Rilke quote from our earlier conversation, “I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.”. The narrative arc that should have followed is for each to allow themselves to become self-aware, then aware of the other, and then begin to respect the other’s identity in and of themselves without demanding them to change (unlike what HW seems to be doing with ES – very out of character for both).

    6. Despite all this, I haven’t dropped the show. I thought Ep 14 was a tight episode in terms of production and storytelling – not satisfactory in the sense of dealing with the problems you identify, but moved the story forward considerably. This was probably because the showmakers realised there isn’t much time left. Which makes me think, this might have been a very different drama if it weren’t tied down to the 16-ep limit.
    Β Β 
    Anyway, this is my limited response for now. Thank you for the post! And keep writing πŸ™‚Β 

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      5. Mmm yes I like that narrative option. I think there was room enough for all those ideas (solitude, philia, eros, and love being ultimately vulnerable) to be explored in this show, but they just … didn’t.
      Honestly I’m not actually sure I’m convinced overall that this drama says ANYTHING, it just sort of implies it and then skirts the issue.
      At least that is what I found up until episode 10. It started to say something I would like but then really wouldn’t just say it outright.

      6. I seem to be practicing the art of serial dropping lately. I could’ve kept going; indeed there was enough in episode 10 for me to keep going that I liked (Hwi and ES scene being the main one), but I ultiamtely decided I wouldn’t be able to enjoy even the small moments anymore, as I would feel like ranting after each episode, and I just don’t have the energy for that right now, so I decided it was best to stop.
      Ahhh once again we come to the episode count issue and once again I will insert (albiet in brief) my lecture/essay/rant about one of kdramas fundamental flaws, and opinion that I have held for a long time now:
      That dramas have an excellent format for storytelling but to refine it more and to get better at their craft, they need to become self aware and realize that they do not need to be nor should they be limited to the 16 episode format as it is detrimental for the majority of kdramas.
      Most indeed I think should actually be shorter. A rare few would do well being a bit longer, but only if the director had a solid vision of the ending and total development.

      And thank you for your response!!!! You’re welcome and I do intend to.

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    I love how wonderfully you have critically analysed the drama, this is what my philosophy essay requires but sigh I don’t think I am up to it.
    Anyway, so you make a very strong case and I love the philia before eros (Was i the only one reminded of WFKBJ?). I honestly love the show and didn’t have any complaints for the fast standard korean romance developments but I think I would have loved it even more if they had focused on the thematics like you have described in your PowerPoint presentation! I hadn’t thought about it before but I love the idea of Philia eventually turning into Eros and agree that it would go more with the format of the drama. I love sweet, lovesick Hae Won but that hug landing more of an emotional punch if they were just friends at the point signifying a step forward in their relationship? Yes I want.

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    I wrote a reply. Deleted it. Now I came back and see more than one beanie mentioning standard Korean fast romantic developement, which is quite the opposite of what I had intended to reply initially, unless standard means fairly recent.

    Until very recently kdramas took their sweet time with romance. They literally milked those friendships and feelings and looks, and took forever to culminate in a sweet hug. Sometimes there was only one kiss at the very end sometimes even none! I truly miss those dramas. Those were the shows that pulled me in kdramas. The FEELINGS!

    Nowadays from comments all over the net it is obvious that dramaland is dealing with very impatient audiences. If they don’t shove in a kiss as soon as possible they will have disgruntled viewers on their hands. And then the viewers will start ranting about adult characters not having normal bed scenes. And then they will nag if they don’t get a full episode of hugs and kisses and laughs and cutesy dates. These viewers put quite a burden on writers and directors that are not absolutely sure of what they want to do. Or puts them under pressure from networks.

    Ha this sounds like I’m defending the writer, which I’m not. I haven’t even started this yet. It’s just that your essay put me in a lamenting-the-by-gone-shows mood!!

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      For some reason when I think of a standard Korean romance format I think of “confession and kiss in episode 7 to 8”. Fast would be any time before that. Ofc there are exceptions where it happening earlier or differently WORKS with the story; I don’t think this was one of those shows.

      I didn’t think you were defending the writer- more like offering an explanation for why proper development etiquette is abandoned for fan service. Which I actually agree with haha.
      Funnily enough I was actually drawn to kdrams originally BECAUSE I liked the slow and more thoughtful romantic development: I was tired of seeing the hero or heroine sleep with three different people all in one season. I liked the kdrama approach to putting emphasis on all the details of how the romance would develop. I guess even in the five years I’ve been watching kdramas- they’ve changed tune again… RIP?

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        When I started watching kdramas episode 8 ending nearly always had a shock value. It could be a confession, but could be any other kind of a revelation too. But a kiss? That could take until ep 16. Yeah definitely RIP.

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      Curious to know – what are these bygone shows you are referring to? I’d love to watch if you have any recommendations!

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        Probably most shows from 12 years ago 😄

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          That’s exactly the time i was thinking too. While I have seen very less dramas from the 2000’s, I think this format kind of developed in the 2008/9 time of You’re Beautiful and BOF. I was surprised to see that shows like Coffee Prince and even MNIKSS took their time developing the relationship, after that the pace has gotten faster.

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            Maybe idols starting to take parts in dramas brought in much younger and more impatient audience, and that resulted in the gradual change.

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          Idols and impatient audience are interesting justifications. I feel like I joined the bandwagon too late and have missed out on a whole generation of kdramas, and neither Netflix nor Viki seem to have these older ones available (at least not in my region). Sigh. This is not to say that I am not enjoying the current selection – which IMO is way better than what other languages are offering these days still.

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    I think ep. 1 – 5 is about them growing into friends though. I was surprised about a confession in ep 6. but I would argue it is first time they both doing something for themself going into a romantic relationship. It is like a safe heaven they finally found in each other. You can totally see them blossom true all the warm embrace and kisses. So to me it do not feel forced but just that they finally lett themself express their feelings at the moment and breath from their inner baggage. To me it also about them grow as a couple as we see HW learn about ES past and ES learn about HW past. I mean it is not like we people go into a relationship when we are ready, often we fall in love at the very surprising time: But we can also grow true the relationship also if it is the right person. This is just my take and do see your point also πŸ™‚

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    If we get constructive discussion like this on DB again I will gladly delurk. For as much as I enjoy shitposts and raving threads about disastrous shows like HEIRS, I do need a serious discussion once in a while. For that we need good dramas though, so it seems like IWFYWTWIS is relatively good (EXCEPT FOR THAT ACRONYM, C’MON).

    In short, I’m totally with you on the awkward rom-com inserted in what was not a rom-com until episode 10. If it’s any comfort, the OTP become irrelevant in eps 12-13, and I just skipped their scenes to enjoy the secondary characters’ stories. There were more important things than sleeping together and teasing Eun Seob, like what happened to her cello playing? (I’m surprised as a cellist she didn’t join an orchestra in Seoul by the way) and why they can’t talk about important things? In my view this is a great weakness in their relationship, and I am dreading that the finale will make her take off for Seoul for the required separation in true Ji-ho fashion (I am still not over BTLIOF).

    Dare I say but I was disappointed that Park Min Young reverted to her typical cutesy girlfriend act after they got together. I get that love changes people, but do they really take out all the PPL jewelry from their one suitcase, change into a a snazzy elegant wardrobe, and become so carefree and teasing? Yes? Ok, I’ve never been in love.

    Allow me to rant about a certain moment when Hae Won peeked into Eun Seob’s diary:
    1) I am mad that the show made her read Eun Seob’s diary in the same episode where she blasted Bo Young for not keeping her secret. Hipocrisy much?
    2) I am also mad that the show relied on her prying into Eun Seob’s diary to learn his thoughts. They can’t talk it seems so the story required her to learn about his fear of her leaving through the diary.
    3) I am mad most of all because his diary was beautiful and sacred, not the stuff of jokes. It was something Eun Seob shared with us the audience, so it felt like she was laughing at us as well. I may be petty, but I felt offended on behalf of all those introverted authors who dread sharing their work for fear of ridicule.

    P.S.: Hey, I hear that people are trying to dethrone Magic Horse For President. Don’t let it happen.

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      Lmao we have a bit of a paradoxical situation here though Toki- in which constructive discussion such as this needs someone like me to to start it and I have also fallen into DB hibernation and extreme lurkerdom… heh.

      I don’t know if I would call this good per se (cos it’s me), but like I said to gadis, you need some kind of potential to incite conversation at all, yes.

      Dramas always forget the gimmick- they give someone a hobby or a trait that is relevant for 4 episodes only and then forget about it, obviously showing the audience how much they care about the characters in the process… *eyeroll*
      It’s interesting that the OTP became irrelevant as a couple in 12-13… kinda just proves my point…
      I also figured they were going to do an unnecessary separation pretty early on and it’s what triggered this essay actually.

      If I’m being honest Toki- her cutesy girlfriend act started to grate on me. The giggles were annoying.

      I didn’t… know that’s what she did but now I am also annoyed despite not having seen up to that part.
      That is very poor character development. The lack of communication between the two of them was always stark to me and denoted more than anything they weren’t ready for a relationship, and that even if they started one, many problems would soon arise because of it.
      I can’t say I’m surprised that they once again threw the actual issues under the rug, refused to address them properly and continued to pretend that romance solves everything.

      P.S. They can take our lives but they will never take our freedom, or our titles. We will remain strong, I assure you.

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      The cello thing has been disturbing me a lot. She’s a musician. Musicians need to practice. Everyday. You can’t drop your instrument like this and forget about it for a whole season. That’s a crime.

      On the diary, I agree that HW’s actions were not at all appropriate. But I think one way of looking at the diary entries is that ES takes himself too seriously, and HW’s joking around, is trying to manifest this response. I don’t necessarily like it, and I’m not defending it, but just trying to explain it.

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        Re. cello: I wasn’t as bothered because clearly Park Min Young has no idea of fingering, so it was even worse to see her fake playing lol. I am thankful for the cello instrumental that plays during Hae Won’s serious moments. It’s soulful.

        Re. diary: Interesting point. It’s just that ES and the show did take all that seriously (lonesome marshmallows on the field, Hae Won’s suicide attempt, etc.), so it felt jarring to have the female lead herself laugh at it.

        If the show had used the friendship narrative as explained in the lecture above I would have been happy to see them teasing each other. They were doing fine in the early episodes, gently teasing each other over coffee. But now Eun Seob is too passive and Hae Won runs circles around him.

        (Sorry about spoiling that part for you Sic. It wasn’t as bad as I made it seem, but definitely cringe-worthy along with the giggling).

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      @wishfultoki,
      I was royally pissed off at Hae-won’s reading Eun-seob’s diary and then busting his chops about it. I totally agree with all the points you made, especially about introverted authors and ridicule. And her 24K hypocrisy towards Bo Young. Grrr. If anyone should have understood the sanctity of private thoughts, it should have been Hae-won. — I do have to mention that one Korean Beanie noted in the recap thread that a “right to privacy” is an alien concept, so perhaps such behavior is not considered a transgression there. Maybe it comes under the heading of “uri.” Still, it rubbed me the wrong way.

      Like you, I have also been having flashbacks to Ji-ho in BECAUSE THIS LIFE IS OUR FIRST. I absolutely hated how she manipulated the vulnerable Se-hee, and preemptively terminated the contract to avoid his good-faith proposal — without saying anything about an intermission. Their communication was as bad as that between Hae-won and Eun-seob. When she came waltzing back from Mongolia on the Han when she felt like it, only to discover that he had sold the house, I gloated with glee. Served her right for not contacting him even once. Hae-won did exactly the same thing, returning unannounced after not even dropping him a postcard for however long, and then had the nerve to want a hug from him. She struck me from the beginning as self-centered, just like Mom and Auntie, and rather dismissive of his boundaries. I was cheering for Eun-seob when he went about his plan to visit his mother’s grave, even if he did stop when he noticed her chasing him down the road.

      I was also peeved at Eun-shil for publicly embarrassing Jang-woo in the present day — as if setting him up to turn him down in front of the whole class when he presented her with those beautiful flowers were not humiliating enough. Then doing it again at the latest reunion. It’s one thing to tease in private, but she does it in front of old classmates. I find it appalling. Harumpf!

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      @wishfultoki
      You know TOki- I read your comment on the final recap and I can’t help but think that whatever message this show was trying to send with this finale was in fact quite insidious and unhealthy.
      What just not commit to anything? Don’t grow or try and get healthier, just leave and then come back when you feel like it? We are together when I feel like? You’re beholden to my whimsy? That’s not how relationships work; that’s not how a committed loving relationship should work. What kind of message does that send to the viewers? It feels like the creators of this never intended the healthy option for these characters all along, and think that the ultimate ending was “I will FIND you when the weather is nice but not STAY with you because…” frak I’m not even sure what the because is.
      Sigh.

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        You know, some beanies are making an interesting case for Hae Won realising that she had been wrong all along when she ran to the bridge, and that she will stay, but I honestly did not get that. All she said was “I’m sorry, I was going to pretend I didn’t see you, but I can’t help it. Can I hug you?” I usually like open endings and can infer meaning, but what in the world can I make of her words? She never had a moment of remorse or repentance and commitment to make the relationship work, and that goes for Eun Seob too. 3 seconds worth of epilogue does not overhaul what the narrative had been doing up to episode 8 and then decided to negate. It is messed up.

        Caveat: Since the drama was based on a novel we may be missing important stuff. A novel can work with little dialogue, especially with a bunch of introverted and moody characters, but when it is translated to the screen we need more than silence and voice overs. I am inclined to think the author did not intend to give a healthy vision of the universe. In fact, the three novels published by characters are all about longing and loss: Myung Yeo’s “Maze of Sisterfield”, Yoon Taek’s “All My Firsts”, and Eun Seob’s “Goonight, Irene”, which is the only one with a “happy ending”. I think the drama was pulled apart between the unhealthy realism of the novel and the desire to paint a rosy ending for the OTP. That is just my gut feeling. I haven’t read the novel.

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    YES TO ALL OF THAT. An excellent lecture, Sic. Thank you.

    But now I am even more irked that I have been deprived of the experience of watching that drama you so eloquently describe. I’m absolutely certain that that version of this drama would have rocked my socks off and shot right into my favorite-dramas-ever list. That being said, I would strike up protest against your more controversial version 😉 (for this particular show at least. I agree with the sentiment in general. Even a romance junkie like myself can recognize that the power of friendship is indeed often undermined/overtaken by romance in many stories. Well-told stories of friendship often stick with me longer and make more of an impact than those of a romantic nature.)

    While I don’t have the keen eye for these things on the same level as you do, for most of this show’s run, I’ve had an uneasy feeling that things could have been done better, that there was untapped potential, and that the writing could have been tighter. After ep 12, I commented, among other things, this:

    I’m feeling conflicted as to whether their relationship moved too fast before they properly dealt with some of their individual issues. I realize that we are probably heading towards typical kdrama format, and their current happiness is the calm before the storm. I will wait until the finale to decide if this was a good format for this show to follow or not. I just hope the show digs deep during the last four eps to address the unresolved issues and bring some healing to these characters.

    The more I mull over it, the more convinced I am that this format is indeed not the best option for this drama. Like you said, for the sake of fan service, it’s trying to put the standard kdrama format into a nonstandard drama and result it produces, while not fully repulsive, is just not the most ideal.

    The emotional narrative should build to them being together; it should not revolve solely around that.

    But I think this show would’ve thematically been much more powerful if their relationship was a natural progression of their character development rather than the only thing their characters seem based around and their development is currently focused on and relies on.
    Id est, if the romantic payoff was the ultimate, final narrative payoff of the show, after each character had had individual and collective thematic and emotional payoff, after each issue and theme was explored to a substantial resolution, after Philia, in the last two to three episodes of the show even, as a final reward for everything else.

    Yes and amen. I too had thoughts about what it would have been like to have the romance develop more slowly with the payoff not coming until the last few episodes. I totally agree about the hug scene. That was a great moment that would have been exponentially greater if it had happened…

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      …in the progression you describe.

      That being said, up through ep 10, I was really loving this drama. Or at least I loved what it was trying to do. I had qualms about pace and format, but like @wapzy, I initially brushed them aside because I really wanted to love this show. I had been excited for it since the early news articles describing a quiet healing show set in the countryside. These types of slower/contemplative/healing shows don’t come around everyday, so when they do, I appreciate and enjoy them often despite their obvious flaws. I still thought the show had a chance to pull off something really nice and profound after ep 10. It was the following episodes that really began to lose me and cause me to rethink some of the narrative decisions in the previous ones. It still has its moments, and I’ll probably still give the show a decent rating, but I’ll never quite be able to shake the disappointment of WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. UGH.

      Another point of untapped potential that I feel is with the story of ES’s relationship with his adoptive family. Unless the show swings back around to this in the final two episodes, this storyline was all but abandoned after ep 10. I really wanted this fleshed out more because I was so intrigued by it. Except for a brief glimpse of mom in ep 14, his parents just went MIA and all the focus switched to HW’s family. While HW’s family’s story is worth its share of exploration, I didn’t like the show’s choice of first exploring ES’s family, abandoning it without satisfying completion, then switching to HW’s. I think I would have preferred these stories to be developed simultaneously? Idk if that would have made it feel like there was too much going on at the same time? I wouldn’t want the slow contemplative show to feel crowded, but I think it could have somehow been handled better.

      I feel like I didn’t say much of anything new here; I’m just reiterating and rambling on about the same things, ha. Anyway, I’m off to watch Ep 15 while eagerly awaiting Sic’s JBL review 😉 (even more curious about this now that I have read the above). No pressure though. Do one only if you feel like it; I totally understand burnout 😊.

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        Ahh no THANK you Snowy owl, for reading πŸ™‚

        *see they should just hire me to write their dramas for them, no?* *lol*

        I’m also reassured to know I’m not the only one that thought this although perhaps I was one of the only ones who didn’t give it as much of a chance and dropped it earlier.

        Isn[‘t that always the case though? What could’ve have been? I feel like that applies to so, so many dramas I’ve watched. The majority of them even haha.
        At least this one didn’t leave a lasting scar like some *coughs*.

        I am disappointed they dropped any development with his family after 10- although like I said to Toki- I can’t say I’m surprised. There’s a lot that points to the focus of the drama being on the wrong things and in the wrong time.
        I don’t think developing them simultaneously would’ve felt crowded- you’d just need a good director- it’s definitely been done in a satisfying way before. And the overall tone of the show was so slow and thoughtful anyway.

        Hahaha no I appreciate your comment even so!
        Aiieeee!!! You and a lot of people I think hahaha; it’s so loved! Ah we’ll see what happens when we get to the end of it hmmm? ^-^

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    #2 I think they brought them together because they were two lost souls who found each other or found a home in each other. Buuuut, I wish they’d talked a little more before getting together. Wasn’t it around the time that Eun-seob’s uncle was telling him he should be alone and he looked like he was considering it? They don’t seem to talk much at least about fears and such. I can’t quite remember but I don’t know if they’ve had a full conversation about HW leaving. They talk to each other and there never seems to be any misunderstanding between them but there’s something missing from the way they communicate.

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      Definitely not disputing that. In fact I think the concept of “do you see the same truth” actually supports that.
      But yeah- more talk, more development BEFORE getting together, that was my main point πŸ™‚

      I actually thought they didn’t really communicate that well at all- him especially- he never said he liked her; just kissed her. They never have a full conversation about HIM leaving either. It’s mostly just inferred ideas through voice over. In fact the biggest step they took in developing ES in that regard was with Hwi and leaving; I don’t know if they continued on from that at all- but that scene told us that he is bad at expressing his feelings and communicating with people- but I don’t personally feel it’s ever touched on, or not well, with HW.

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        he never said he liked her; just kissed her — I was actually a little put off by it because it was a little intrusive of her personal space. But I was like, whatever, this is a Kdrama after all…

        They just don’t talk to each other enough. Hugging is all very well. But you gotta sit down and have a really conversation about life and other things one day, or it ain’t going to work.

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          This. I was screaming at Eun Seob to just saying something in ep. 15. Seo Kang Joon can deliver lines, not just stares. The voice overs are bothering me now. I want to see them talk, darnit.

          Onto the final episode now! Hopefully the show lives up to the ending promised in the title… and hopefully it’s tactfully done. I don’t want a reprise of the BTIOFL ending. #traumatisedforever

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            Excuse me while I continue to quote myself, but yes, this was the other thing I took issue with in my ep 12 comment:

            I’m also really ready for Eun Seob to initiate more. As a shy/reserved/anxious person, I completely understand how hard it is to take initiative and voice feelings. This is one of the reasons Eun Seob is the character I feel most connected to in this drama. But the longer this relationship goes on with Hae Won being the one doing all the initiating, the more unbalanced it feels. I’m hoping that if Hae Won withdraws back into herself upon learning the truth about her father’s death, it will bring out a fighting spirit in Eun Seob.

            Definitely agree with you all on the communication issues in this relationship. Upon further thought, it is a mutual problem. HW may be more direct with voicing affection and initiating physical touch, but when it comes to sitting down and actually discussing the things they are dealing with…we just haven’t seen it.

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            cc. @kat23
            Yes, yes, yes to all of this ugh!!!! Maybe I should’ve written the longer version of this essay- this post has prompted so much positive response and discussion and I am encouraged.

            Anyway what was I talking about, oh yes-
            The longer version of this essay as briefly mentioned above actually goes into more about how you need to know WHERE your story is going and where you want it to end. ESPECIALLY a story like this that could realistically because of the Characters go on forever and they’d always be slowly growing.
            I mean that’s just real life and theoretically all characters would grow forever but my point is that this doesn’t have a clear and obviously end to their arcs as much as some other shows do.
            So then I asked myself, where would /I/ end this drama if I were writing it? Where would I want these characters to end up?

            If ES displays tendencies of social anxiety, which he does, would not the most OBVIOUS development of his character therefore be to address that? Not to magically solve it no, but at least offer an understanding of it and how it can effect their romantic relationship, and how perhaps HW can help him get out of that a bit.
            And so- if the ML doesn’t communicate properly (because he has anxiety, depression and abandonment issues) WHY HAVEN’T YOU DEVELOPED THAT.

            We have discussed already why not, but the lack of communication between the two of them on several fronts just screamed to me that this relationship wouldn’t realistically last long if it went on like this and the show has ofc done nothing to address this.

            And this is why I gave the lecture.
            Romance is not an instant fix mix. These characters demanded better respect of their issues.

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            I like the meandering pace of the show, but I think there was definitely a narrative along the lines you mention: deal Eun Seob’s depression, anxiety and abandonment issues first, and then deal with Hae Won’s family issues, where ES assumes the role of the supportive boyfriend. It should work right?

            Eun Seob’s arch was satisfying because so many people rallied around him to show they loved him, including his adopted family (who then all but disappeared). Romance was sort of the climax of that… except he was still the depressed guy who expected Hae Won to leave in the spring, so he never spoke up *cries in Elvish*. Therefore, if the drama wants to address his issues and complete this narrative, Eun Seob has to go to Seoul and find Hae Won. He can’t just wait for her to waltz back when the weather is fine or I’ll throw a fit.

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            Gosh I would have loved that so much. If there is anything in this world that I can relate to, it’s social anxiety and depression. At some point, I just really want to see a drama properly explore it. I appreciate when they hint at it here and there, but I want them to grab it, run with it, and explore the ramifications of it.

            This brings us back to the fact that they should just hire you to write the dramas, Sic 😉. How are your Korean skills?

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            Address all his issues on one episodes??? Eeesh well let me know how that goes haha

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            @kat23
            Same snowy, same.

            Ahahahaha well I think if I worked with a translator/co writer it wouldn’t matter. It would just be the dialogue that would be the hard part.

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    Wonderful essay, and wonderful discussion. Thanks!

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    A summary of the last 2 episodes:

    As expected, HW withdraws back into herself upon learning her aunt was the one who killed her father. There is anger, tears, and feelings of deception and broken trust. MY decides it’s time to pay for what she did and turn herself in. HW tells her to not turn herself in, but since she kinda hates her and can’t look her in the eye anymore, she’s leaving. She goes to ES and says, β€œMy feelings were genuine. Good luck with the bookstore. Bye” then skips back to Seoul.

    Spring arrives and everyone is cheerful and busy planting except ES who spends his days at the bookstore sad. In literally the only iota of character development he gets, ES gifts his mom with a scarf on which he embroidered the words, β€œMy dearest mother.” HW spends her days doing interviews at academies with her cello. Hwi spends her days chasing boys, and Jang Woo spends his days being cute and shy in front of Eun Shil. MJ moves to Hodu House, and MY decides to leave for somewhere far way and never return. MJ writes a letter to HW asking her to visit before MY leaves and explains that the reason she shut her out all these years is because after being abused, she could only think of caring for herself. HW comes and tells her mom and aunt she’s rediscovered her calling for teaching children, Seoul wasn’t that bad after all, and she’s planning to open her own academy since she failed all her interviews. MY leaves for that unknown far away place of no return and HW and ES have an awkward weighty encounter. HW goes running after him, hugs him, and they’re back to being all lovey dovey again. Voiceover tells us they don’t know what the future holds and some stuff about happiness. The End.

    And I’m just left going….ok?

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    @sicarius,
    Thank you for your thoughts on narrative payoff in relation to IFYWTWIN. They get to the heart of what has been bugging me about the OTP’s character arcs, in particular the bypassing of friendship in favor of premature romance. Thank you for mentioning The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis. Philia is indeed the “emotional antifreeze” they both need. That and therapy. Heck, before they can truly become Friends, they both have to learn how to love and care for themselves and become whole people in their own right. Uri OTP also have unhealthy families of origin, and that kind of baggage doesn’t automagically go away.

    I totally agree with you on point #3 and mental health issues not being properly addressed. All too many Kdrama characters self-medicate with soju, which only compounds the problem. Between this show and A PIECE OF YOUR MIND [more depression], FIND ME IN YOUR MEMORY [traumatic amnesia], NOBODY KNOWS [religious fanaticism, child abuse, and serial murder], HYENA [more domestic violence, drunkenness, and religious nuttiness] and UNIQUE! CHEF MOON [anorexia], Kdramaland is awash in mental health issues that are being ignored. It really bothers me.

    Tangent: To tell the truth, I found Auntie to be a truly obnoxious person long before she killed her brother-in-law, Mom to be incomprehensible (until the revelation of domestic violence), and Hae-won to be severely disturbed. I have a feeling that even as a young child, she was aware of the elephant in the room (Dad’s violence), no matter how hard Mom tried to pretend that everything was fine and dandy. Human babies are masters of pre-conscious learning, and pick up on the emotional vibes that adults do their darnedest to deny. Growing up in a house filled with denial of reality causes significant warpage of one’s ability to trust one’s own discernment and handle on reality, and leads to “magical thinking” (e.g., children blaming themselves for their parents’ divorce) and other maladaptations. Trying to protect Hae-won from the truth that Dad was a violent abuser has damaged her more than admitting it in an age-appropriate way would have. Mom was literally too beaten down to stand up and walk away until Auntie killed Dad in self-defense. And in trying to protect Auntie from the consequences of her actions, she only made things worse for her. That is what I found to be truly tragic.

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      Hey Paka!!! Thank you!!!
      I am realising from this discussion and the recaps that there are probably many more things I could’ve talked about and broken down and taken issue with- but perhaps fortunately I dropped it before it drove me too insane haha.
      I really wanted this to address everything it implied at the beginning but it increasingly became apparent that it would not.

      You’d think by now there would be more than a few dramas that had actually face on dealt with the shit their characters are dealing with but ugh… nope. It would ofc make dramas that bit darker but then Korean film never had a problem with being noir.

      Tangent: Oh such a good observation of yet again the implications of character and what they demand vs how they are treated by the narrative though. Id est- exactly how disturbed HW was and how that should’ve looked like on screen. Eh whatever. It’s over.

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