Beanie level: Rooftop room dweller

I would fully watch a show of these three idiots just bumbling around trying to get anything done.

In the alternative, I will take these two bickering for an hour.

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    This show is really just top-notch entertainment. There were so many fun scenes in this episode, including these. I also liked, for instance, the scene where Wooshik called Seongyeom suregi, the scene where Mijoo was vainly trying to retrieve her book gift from Seongyeom, and some of the fun banter between Seongyeom and Mijoo about one or the other making a “mistake” (dudes, a mistake you don’t regret ain’t no mistake — or that’s how I’ve been living my life, anyway).

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      The Woo-shik scene was hilarious. I also appreciated a lot of the slower moments, like when Mi-joo and Young-hwa were just chatting over coffee, or when Mi-joo was looking at Secretary Jung’s cat pictures. Those weren’t the kind of real, grounding moments you often see in dramas.

      Today’s episode really hit that sweet spot between the humor, romance, and moving the plot forward just enough that it didn’t take away from the fun while also beginning to set things up nicely for the final act. Like, I am 95% sure I know the beats of how the rest of this drama are gonna play out and I do not care, because I love these characters so much and I would watch them watching paint dry. They are all so fully realized and flawed and real, and even with the predictability they still find ways to surprise me and keep it fresh.

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        I saw the preview and it looks like that daddy won’t let his dreams going different direction,I just hope for Mi Joo to defend what’s she had found finally with SG.

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        I laughed so much when Secretary Jeong showed Mijoo his cat Munji (which, I guess, means “dust”, right?). That was an endearing scene, and you’re definitely right that it was unusual as well! I like that even relatively insignificant characters like Secretary Jeong, May unni (well, I guess May unni isn’t “insignificant”, but she doesn’t really appear that much in the show and hasn’t played a particularly important role in the happenings of the plot), Wooshik’s grandma, heck even Yeonghwa’s friend (who, if I’m not mistaken, has a crush on Yeonghwa or something like that) all have interesting personalities. One of my favourite things like this came when that Seongyeom’s old coach texted him. The failure to space properly and the mishap of sending although flower pictures were small but really clever details that showed her unfamiliarity with technology, which I thought was true to character for somebody who had basically become a recluse out in the countryside.

        Agreed, I love these characters so much! I also really like Seongyeom and Mijoo as characters. Their interactions are so cute (including the jealous moments, like when Seongyeom sits in between Wooshik and Mijoo). I think ISW has been really really good in this show. I think SSK has been decent, too, although I think I’ve noticed at least a few scenes were her acting has noticeably misfired. That said, I don’t agree with people who’ve said in the past that she’s a bad or mediocre actress; I think she’s okay, not amazing, but her performance here is solid and she really shines when she’s working with ISW in this show.

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          OMG I never thought I would see a jealous sun kyum and I love it!!

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          I’ve never thought SSK was a stellar actress, but she can really shine when given the right directions. I think she’s better in sageuk too, and the best I ever saw her was in Rookie Historian which was the first time she really blew me away (I ended up dropping it for a bunch of reasons, but I would consider going to finish it because she really was that good). I think her contemporary roles all feel the same – kind of bubbly, candy-esque but not quite so pathetic, and haven’t given her a lot to work with. I agree that she’s still solid here, and I think she and ISW really do have great chemistry. I’ve always like ISW, but he’s one of the few idol actors who never feels like an idol actor, and I think it’s because he doesn’t seem to feel self-conscious in his roles so he really sinks into them and meshes well with his characters.

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    Yeong-hwa’s face running was comedic gold! LOL

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      He 100% looked like a cartoon character and I’m totally here for it.

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      Kang Tae Oh is such a good actor. And for me the best in 5urprise. It’s sad that it took him longer to get the attention than the other actors in the group.

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        That’s true. It took him awhile and hope that he’ll get more attention after this.

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        I think he’s definitely good, and he’s steadily improving as an actor, and I agree he’s my favorite from 5urprise. I actually like that he’s slowly easing into roles, because it has helped show his growth. He’s gotten a lot stronger at the emotional scenes and he really did an excellent job at the end of episode 11.

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        Well, now I’m learning he’s 5urprise (It’s my first drama with him).
        And yes, he is really good. He’s just proving here how good he is.
        (Still my heart belongs to SKJ).

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    The chase scene (and the dialogues before and after) has gone down in my books as an all-time favourite now! Tae-woong finally showed some purpose as to his existence.

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      Even just the whole incident leading up to the chase was hysterical, with TW getting into the most random fight and SK needing to save him. Just that whole moment when SK was like, “OK, 1.2.3. RUN” and just grabbed TW and bolted, I was laughing so much.

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A few thoughts on More Than Friends:

The thing I love about this drama is that we are given every character’s point of view, and every point of view is valid. I get why each character is the way they are.

With Woo-yeon, I love that she is self-aware enough of how destructive her years-old crush on Su is. I love that she is standing up for herself now that she’s trying to really make things work with Joon-soo. And I genuinely admire her for that. The thing I love most about Woo-yeon is that she is a genuinely kind and good person, but she isn’t necessarily a pushover or weak. She is obviously the calming balance in her friend group, but she doesn’t push aside her own feelings or lie about them to make others more comfortable. It’s admirable how well she understands herself, even if she can’t change or control her feelings. She has every right to be mad at Su for only now realizing his feelings, for not telling her why he didn’t meet her.

The thing is, I also get Su. I get him so much, it’s weird. My parents are in a similar situation to his. They aren’t friends, per se, but they get along well enough and we spend time together as a family. But at the same time, it’s taken me most of my adult life to understand how that relationship worked, and it still frustrates me some days. There are times it would be easier for it to not be so…normal. It’s definitely messed with my feelings on relationships and made me cynical. (Maybe this is why I love dramas so much, but I’ll dig into that with a therapist on another day.) So, like I said, I get Su. I get why he kept his real feelings at arms length for so long that he deluded himself into believing he didn’t have feelings. I 100% believe that he believed that he didn’t have any feelings for Woo-yeon. More than that, I also think he was right to tell her no all those times.

But that doesn’t make the way he acted towards Woo-yeon any less shitty. I get his not wanting to lead her on, and I get not wanting to lose her as a friend – and all that is what makes him a decent guy – but he needed to back away for a while (which technically he did, but only because he conveniently left the country). It’s good that he never led her on or gave her false hope, and he’s not a jerk for being honest about his feelings.

That said, he also never really was able to leave things in a way that gave Woo-yeon closure. He always left her with a “we’ll still be friends, because that’s what I want”. And sure, that doesn’t mean that she needed to interpret that as a chance, and to give credit where it’s due, I don’t think that Woo-yeon saw it that way. But Su didn’t see that she needed space without him even in the shadows to move on. She needed real space with him not even in the wings to move on. He could have kept the friendship without that disclaimer that they were going to be friends no matter what. He needed to accept that she was done with him for a time, and let her heal. Leaving on the note he did, both times, left a bitterness for Woo-yeon that she was never able to properly shake.

Woo-yeon is not at fault for her feelings either. Su was sending confusing signals, and it makes sense that she had trouble moving on. Moreover, he refused to accept what she needed to move on – space – and remained insistent that they were friends. And while we know why he is that way, she does not; if she doesn’t have the whole picture, how is she supposed to understand? Given her personality and her feelings, it made sense that she would have a hard time moving on. Woo-yeon always has him there in the back of her mind because the break was never clean. She never knew when he would appear again in her life, and that anticipation held her back from other possibilities.

Which is why I loved the reversals this week. It was delightful to see Woo-yeon protect herself, because she has every reason to be wary. And Su, what the hell dude. He needed to be honest with Woo-yeon from the start. I get why he lied, but he lied when it counted the most. I think that even though he understands his feelings now, he still needs to reckon with them, and with the pain he gave to Woo-yeon for so long. I appreciated that for most of this week’s episodes he kept his distance and let her be happy in her relationship with Joon-soo. Yes, he acted jealous at times, and he was petty. But for the most part he respected her choice and was surprisingly mature. It wasn’t until all the lies came out that he started to really act out and act petty. Woo-yeon was right to call him out and say it was hard to believe him now.

This show is strongest when it’s just those two on screen. Every scene where it’s just the two of them talking, you feel the ease and comfort that the characters have with one another. It’s intimate, but also, it’s friendly and comforting and warm. There’s an honesty there that can’t be ignored. Moreover, they have an undeniable chemistry, and the direction prefectly manipulates the senses to create the perfect atmosphere. The lighting and music and sound (or silence) all come together to enhance every scene that the two of them are in together. The way the camera frames them, constantly looking at each other, but always with space between them – that is the perfect summation of their relationship. First, because Su kept that distance from his own feelings and now because Woo-yeon is keeping her distance. But at the end of the day, no matter where they are or who is responsible for the distance, they are always looking at each other.

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    Every time I try to pick up an episode of this show, I get angry. These two characters are just so hard for me to understand. It’s not that they’re fake or poorly acted. In fact, they seem real enough to me. But they also seem like people I would avoid in real life.

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    Very well said!
    👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

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    👏👏👏

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    You’ve said it exactly! Personally I really like the CEO. Because I get so mad at Su. But… at the same time, I GET IT. Hahaha. I enjoyed the reversal so much. It was nice to see Wooyeon so happy and taking effort to move on. But the heart is thus. I agree with what you said about distance between them, the shots are so painful but pretty. I look forward to how the story will go. 🙂

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      The thing now is that Su is going to have to prove his sincerity, and win back Woo-yeon’s trust, which is not going to be easy. He kind of deserves to have to work for it anyway. He’s been very blasé with her friendship and her emotions, taking them for granted over the years, it’s about time he ate some humble pie. I don’t blame Woo-yeon for one second for not buying his feelings.

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    I totally get your point about him not giving her space. Had he done that, both of them could have been spared so much of pain

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      The thing is, we all know that the reason he didn’t is because he has feelings for her, he just doesn’t realize it. But the problem is, no matter how you go about it, it’s completely disrespectful to Woo-yeon and her feelings and is actually very manipulative of him, even if he doesn’t mean it to be.

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    You explain it so well – exactly how i feel about both of them! Yeah Soo can be selfish and awful from one view but when you see the whole picture, i don’t know if he needs a shake or a hug. And Woo Yeon, oh ye of gentle heart with a core steel. I mean you’ve got to be pretty hard core to call the same guy and keep baring your soul to him for 10 (?) years!

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      Soo needs both a shake and a hug. No matter what way you slice it, it’s very shitty of him to disrespect Woo-yeon and insist on being her friend. I get why he does it, but that doesn’t make it not shitty. But boy also needs a hug because he’s in so much denial he’s self-destructing.

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    Very nicely said 😀 It is really nice written drama as we can understand both LS and WY but also see what their flaws is. Seeing LS apologize for his past action and really wanting her the best with JS give me warm feelings though. His road to self reflection is beautiful and painful to watch.

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      Thank you. I relate a lot to Su, so I really enjoy seeing his journey. I also just love seeing Woo-yeon stand up for herself and protect her heart, because she really doesn’t deserve to be jerked around.

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    Thank you for your post 🙂 . I was curious about that drama for a future watch (2021 ? ^^’) and your post explained some pros and cons about it ^^.

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      Glad I could help. I personally really like this drama. I understand why people have mixed feelings on the leads, but to me, the whole point of a (good) drama is to have flawed characters and watch them grow into better, more actualized people. Yes, he is kind of a jerk, that’s the whole point. If he was perfect to begin with, why on earth would we bother watching? There’s no story there. The characters’ motivations and personalities are complex and layered, and the connections are not always obvious at first, but when it comes together, it really works for me.

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    Nicely said. I also like this drama because I can understand and believe in all major characters, though I wish we had more on the friends and less on the main love triangle, they got a bit repetitive lately. Having said that, I’m not sure I get Su, not completely. What is behind this sudden love? She had dozens of boyfriends, he spent a decade away. I’m not sure if he was always unable to have real romantic feelings for anyone or if she was his only friend and he is just confused, exactly like WY thinks he might be. I think drama is trying to say it’s real love and I don’t think it did a good job on that. Maybe if Su had some kind of insight to explain it or even told her about his true motivations. I’d have liked that far more. Chasing a photo in the rain was a bit tacky and melodramatic, very unlike him.

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      The way I saw it was that Su always had feelings for Woo-yeon, he just refused to acknowledge them as such; hence his insistence they remain friends. You have to remember, his view of relationships is that they suck because look at his parents – they hated one another and now they’re friends. So for him, he associates love/relationships with that falling apart marriage, whereas friendship is more secure. Like Woo-yeon, he knows himself well enough to know that he feels something for her, but he refuses to acknowledge it for what it really is. His insistence that its friendship allows him to keep himself from being hurt, the way he sees his father has been. But the truth is, he’s setting himself up for the same heartbreak, which is what we’re seeing now. Because he never acknowledged the feelings, he has pushed away the person he wants to keep closest and now is realizing that love isn’t what caused his father pain, it was treating love with a blasé attitude and not communicating that hurt him. I don’t think Su has yet figured all this out, but I think that’s the point of his journey. You can’t treat love like it will always wait for you, like anything else, it requires work.

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All right my lovely beanfriends.I’m gonna be a bit controversial with my Brahms take thisweek: 

I’m not mad at episode 12.  

Yes, it was incrediblypainful to watch. Yes, it sucked seeing Song-ah get kicked while down over and over. (I mean, we get it show, she’s not got a future as a violinist, you donot need to keep torturing her – and us – with the reminders). 

But the thing is – it also was what she needed to hear. Maybe not in that way (Joon-young’s agent and her professor can both go jump in a fiery pit lined with nails) but she needed tobe realistic about her future. Now I’m not saying to give up the violin, or even her dreams, but she needs to adjust them a bit. Or else get better. 

My thought since the start has been – and what I think the show is trying to get at ultimately with Song-ah’s arc – is that she can be good, but she has to believe it herself. There seems to be something in Song-ah that completely doubts her ability to be good and it’s clearly playing a large role in what holds her back. And I get that – she started late, she’s the lowest ranked, she doesn’t have the background or outside support from her family and she knows it. Maybe I’m projecting, but this was and is how I feel a lot. I have this idea in my head that I will never be good enough or that what I have is a fluke, and it’s there in the back of my head despite everything, and that idea is holds me back. Nothing else. Talent, work – it’s all doable if I put the energy into it. I may not be the best, but I can also be more than merely competent if I work hard enough. And I think Song-ah, while she’ll never be great, she has it in her to be good if she can overcome this hurdle.  

Song-ah doesn’t believe in herself (cheesy as that sounds) and so it holds her back. I know because I did the same to myself (and sometimes still do) and it did hold me back for a long time and it hurt me a lot. It’s hard to admit that much aloud sometimes, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter how much other people love you, support you, care about you, cheer you on – if there’s a persistent enough voice in your head saying you’re never going to be good enough, it will bring you down.  Song-ah needs to turn inwards and ask herself why she wants this. Why it’s so important to her to be a violinist. Obviously, she loves music. But we also know that part of her motivation was Dong-yoon at the start, and I think she needs to reckon with that. I also think she needs to examine what she wants with her life, because that’s not clear – either to us or her at this point it seems.  

It frustrated me to no end seeing Song-ah’s face fall at the end of episode 12 because it is so stupid of her to thinkthat Joon-young cares for anyone but her. But at the same time it makes perfect sense. (I know I just contradicted myself but go with me here.) 

Joon-young has been 100% honest with Song-ah about his feelings from the start. Moreover, his actions reenforce his words (which is so rare in dramas I can’t even). He says he cares, and he shows it too. He keeps her handkerchief and puts Jung-kyung’s away when he realizedit hurt her to see it. He keeps her umbrella with him all the time. He tells her the things he’s never told others, even his two closest friends. He apologizes when he screws up. Joon-young’s only real misstep is that sometimes he forgetsto tell her the things he thinks are irrelevant – because they are to him. Things like he’s entering a competition again, or that he’s playing the same piece as Song-ah with Jung-kyung. (I do have some quibbles with him not telling Jung-kyung that he went home with Song-ah, but I believe that was out of consideration for both women; though I assume it will come back to bite him in the ass because one or both of them will get it twisted.) To us as outsiders, we see that these are truly innocent mistakes. We see how cold he is with Jung-kyung now. We see that there truly is nothing left there.


(Seriously. Has Song-ah seen this smile?)
 

But imagine you’re Song-ah, and you already doubt everything you have. You doubt your ability to play, your worthinessas a musician. No matter how much actions should speak louder than words – it doesn’t matter that he blew off rehearsal with Jung-kyung to show her his hometown and introduced her to his mother – Song-ah is going to ignore all those truths over the stupid words that Jung-kyung says. And it’s so stupid. It’s manipulative of Jung-kyung, but most of the damage comes from within Song-ah herself. She holds onto the wrong things for the wrong reasons. 

So yes, episode 12 was painful to watch. But it was also the kick in the pants that Song-ah needed. She needs to – to put it nicely – get over herself. It sucks to be down and out like she is,and it did not help that she saw Joon-young and Jung-kyung in the taxi at the end, but we know that will almost definitely resolve itself in a moment next week, but the fact that she hasn’t cleaned up her own inner self will not.  Until and unless Song-ah really faces herself and reality, I don’t know if it will ever be possible for her to be totally comfortable in any relationship.  

 

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    I know what it’s like to doubt yourself — to have what some people call “impostor syndrome”. I do get where Song-ah is coming from. (I also think you and I very similar in some ways with this, @snarkyjellyfish).

    But I’ve also had experiences in my life where I really liked something, was dead-set on doing more of it if I could (maybe even turning it into a career), and then came up against the limits of my ability. No matter what I tried, I hit a stumbling block and found that the people I was surrounded by were simply better than me. So my perspective here is that this isn’t always an internal thing. Sometimes it really is about reaching a place where your capability runs out and, try as hard as you might, you just can’t go any further.

    After watching all of these episodes, I think it would just be unrealistic for Song-ah’s problem to be merely internal. It would be too convenient and I think it belies her entire experience with the violin. Given that musicians like Hyeon-ho — who is almost certainly more talented than Song-ah — can’t find jobs, I just can’t see Song-ah making a career out of this. So while I agree 100% about the imperative to be realistic, I think realism in Song-ah’s case would involve looking for a career where she can be close to music, a career where she might even be able to play the violin sometimes, but which doesn’t involve a career as a professional violinist.

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      I agree that she’s never going to be a violinist – at least not in the way that Joon-young is a pianist. But what I mean is, that she maybe has it in her to at least be more than what she is. She has it in her to be good (not great, not remarkable, not special, but just plain good). So far, we know she is not good, but she is passing. I think she could push her ability enough to make it at least in a small orchestra or something similar like a part time gig. I’d be disappointed in the show if she suddenly became great overnight because that makes no sense (and if it follows from the idea that it took a dude to bring that out in her – ughhhhh don’t even get me started).

      There will always be people who are better. That’s just life. But that doesn’t mean Song-ah can’t be good. She’s obviously got enough talent to have gotten into a great program even if it took her some time. And that was through persistence and practice. I think a lot about that question she asked Joon-young – “How did you feel about your performance?” – along with the comment that was made to Joon-young about how a performance that moves at least one or two people is more special than getting across the board good marks at competition, seem to be the two pieces that need to come together for Song-ah. She’s constantly being told that her music lacks her taking it into control, she simply follows the music instead of making it her own. It doesn’t take greatness to be creative. If she could find that in herself, to make a performance that makes her happy, maybe she can find the inner peace she needs.

      What I was trying to get at is that maybe she’s not yet at the limits of her talent. Even if Song-ah’s talent isn’t ever to be a great violinist, there is still space for her to grow her ability, and she isn’t taking up that space because of how she feels about herself.

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        I agree that she probably has more in her, talent-wise. But I also sort of feel that, her own passion and interest notwithstanding, persistently pushing in this direction might not be in her best interests. She might improve and she might (finally) be able to reach a place where she’s at peace with herself, but it’s also possible she wont. The environment she finds herself in completely poisonous; it’s destroying her sense of self and sense of her own worth. She has so much more to offer. At this point, I think her best option would just be to remove herself from this environment as soon as possible while maintaining a connection with music and the violin. After all the unhappiness and agony she’s been put through (she’s put herself through?), I think she owes it to herself to let this go with the knowledge that she gave her goal her best shot.

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          I agree – but I think that’s the whole point of her arc? From the start I assumed her arc would be her coming to terms with not being able to fulfill her dreams the way she wanted to.

          It seems like the theme that runs through the show is reaching for a dream that you may never get to hold (much like Brahms and his ill-fated love). I think that’s why it resonated with me so much from episode one. I actually wrote something then that I never posted, about how I related to Song-ah, because there was something she said that resonated with me: “There are so many dreams, except for the one I’m looking for.” I think this can describe all the characters – they are all looking for something, but it’s not quite what they wanted or expected.

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      (I also have a massive essay in me about the parallels of Song-ah and Jung-kyung in terms of career and relationship to music, but I don’t have the time to write it now. Plus I want to see a bit more of how Jung-kyung’s story plays out next week to cement my theories.)

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    Beautiful reflection!

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      Thank you!

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        Totally agree on how you see/perceive Song Ah. 👌
        Not to mention, one of our beanies posted an interview of our drama writer and it showed how she really prepared the story, give thoughts on our lead characters story. I honestly love the narrative of this show; how it used metaphors so that someone/viewer can actually give their own meaning to it. I am looking forward to your essays! 😉

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    I haven’t watched this show but I agree SO deeply about everythibg you said on a very personal level.

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      Ha, thanks. We are often our own worst enemies. Been there, done that. Nothing can help until the person who it’s happening to comes to terms. That’s just life.

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    Yes. I think the biggest obstacle for Song Ah is not the selfish professors, the manipulative manager, the two-faced classmates, the selfish friends or even Jung Kyung. It’s herself. Her lack of confidence in herself and all the insecurities are what’s setting her back from seeing the bigger picture. Honestly we’ve all been there or will have moments like this in our own lives, which is probably why we find it somewhat frustrating to watch, because we are Song Ah. We are rooting for her to be happy because that is what we are also searching for within ourselves. Sometimes when our minds are driven by the thought that there is only one path for us, we can be blindsided by the other opportunities out there and become stubborn in our mindset. Although she may not see it yet, I’m confident that Song Ah will figure out the right path for her and once she does, she’s going to give it her 100% and gain the confidence boost she needs to be happy. When that happens, she will also find happiness with Joon Young.

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      Agreed – it’s not all on her obviously. All those factors don’t help, but realistically, even if she never met Joon-young and Jung-kyung, the rest was all coming for her anyway. At the end of the day she needs to refocus and recognize that she’s done all she can, and now it may be time to reevaluate her dreams a bit.

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    Thank you for saying this. It gave me a better perspective of Ep12.

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      I’m glad I helped – I actually was surprised by the reactions I saw to episode 12, which is why I wrote this.

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    I’ve been hiding from Dramabeans ever since ep 12 because I can’t deal with the pain. Reading your post makes me feel a lot better (and more hopeful), so thank you!

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      You’re welcome! I actually saw a lot of the posts after episode 12 and was having the opposite reaction to most beanies, which is why I decided to air my thoughts.

      I think it’s really easy with this drama to get caught up in Song-ah’s perspective and lose sight of her reality, which is why I think so many beanies were mad or disappointed with episode 12, whereas to me, it seemed like the natural progression of her arc and I was actually waiting for this to happen. I mean, I don’t want to see her knocked down like this, but she needs to be realistic because it’s very clear at this point that her relationship with the violin is affecting every aspect of her life and it’s becoming toxic.

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    I haven’t finished episode 12 but this is brilliant. I can see how it’s frustrating to watch as a viewer but I totally get Song Ah. Also, regarding the little things she’s oblivious to, as far as she knows JY still has the handkerchief in his desk. She doesn’t know he put it away. We know and we love him for doing those little things. It’s sweet that he does things that show his affection and concern for her in private because it reinforces that he’s being sincere. But at the same time Song Ah does need to know these little things! She probably thinks he’s still holding on to JK in a way. So I get her and I hope Show will address her insecurities you mentioned as it does reflect on her relationships, not just with JY, but with others too.

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      Right – and that’s the problem with Joon-young. (I could write an essay like this on him too.) He’s definitely getting better at communication but he still misses the mark sometimes. And that’s totally on him and not Song-ah, because of course she would be bothered by seeing the handkerchief. I actually don’t have a problem with him keeping a piece of Jung-kyung – we all have people who will remain in a tiny part of our hearts no matter what, and I think that’s ok.

      The good thing is it is so clear that he has totally and completely moved on from her, and it is just little misunderstandings at this point. Literally, the first person he told about playing for Jung-kyung was Song-ah, to prevent misunderstanding. This is his way of saying good-bye to his past and ending it cleanly instead of making it bitter the way it is with Hyun-ho. Jung-kyung may not be there yet emotionally, but that’s not on Joon-young. He’s very clearly drawn the line. And maybe it wasn’t the best way to say good-bye, but is such a Joon-young way to end things.

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    YESSSS. LOVED IT. it shocks me to no end how people can go from the amazing kyootness love of ep11 to being totally out after ep12. i think it’s ’cause 1) the pain of career hits hard; 2) the passivity of SA is something to get used to and 3) the chamber dinner was too well made haha. loved your defense and your views!

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      That chamber dinner was so painful to watch. I wanted to cry for Song-ah. It was just too cruel.

      I don’t blame people for reacting the way they did. The eposode focused so much on Song-ah that it was really easy to forget all the good stuff. I think the writer and director (and Park Eun-bin) did a fantastic job building to the end of the episode in such a way that you really are viewing things from her perspective by the end of the hour. It was well done and I think the feelings of a lot of beanies was what they aimed for. The drama has been really good about focusing on the contrasts between dreams and reality and today it was Song-ah’s turn to wake up.

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        *tear *sniff @ “I think the writer and director (and Park Eun-bin) did a fantastic job building to the end of the episode in such a way that you really are viewing things from her perspective by the end of the hour.” AMEN.

        would you like to be dylb protection squad/avengers with me? hehehe

        your mentioning of dreams v. reality reminded me of a good tweet you might like (if you haven’t seen it). the show pays homage to surrealism in ep11 while SA discusses with JY about whether she should change pieces: https://twitter.com/sunset_xi/status/1313881737622028288?s=19

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          I love that analysis! And now I want to write an essay on dreams in this drama but I also want to go back and explore surrealism (or any other art movements) in the show aesthetics (I have a whole thing in my head about the styling of the characters too). I haven’t even been looking at the use of musical terms, though lots of other beanies have been good about talking about that stuff.

          And I have no time to do any of this. GAH. I have so much work next week. And today (I should be working now but need a brain break). And I have to go home this weekend. Why is there not more time in a day? I guess I can sneak something in if I finish the brief I’m working on in time. My brain hurts already.

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            same! I find myself taking too many brain breaks during work to stan my favorite shows/kdramas but wishing I had the time to truly gush through blogging like my high school/college days. 🤭 guess dramabeans is a happy medium.

            are you a fellow attorney? cause you used the word “brief” and wrote a good “defense case” haha.

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            I am (unfortunately) a fellow attorney. And I was incorrect – it was not a brief, but a petition I needed to finish. Which I did not. But that’s what Monday and coffee are for. Also my boss is sure it will get denied (totally will) which makes me annoyed I have to do it at all, but alas, client contracts etc. I do, however, also have a brief I need to get done. But isn’t that always the case?

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            sorry to hear about your tough week, fellow attorney.

            i think that’s why we like dylb (kdrama in general). after a long day of living in microsoft word, it’s nice to live briefly in the world of kyoot daejeon dates, steinway kisses and defending show online. ☺️ see you after your brief/petition … and dylb armageddon!

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            Haha thanks. Yeah, I may be a bit late with my thoughts this week because of work. (Two depositions on Wednesday – I hate taking depositions. Bane of my existence, but so much easier when over zoom. I guess there are some pros to a pandemic.) Funnily, I started watching dramas because of law school, so I guess it makes sense that it’s still my happy place.

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    I feel this so much! Thanks for writing this all out!

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OK beanfriends, it’s another long one on Brahms:

I’ve been thinking a lot about our characters’ relationship to music since the show started, and I think I’ve come to the following conclusions:

Joon-young plays music not for himself, but for everyone else. This is totally in line with his M.O. where he has to please everyone at his own expense. I think it’s interesting then, that he is choosing to enter another competition despite the fact that he hates competing so much. We know why he’s doing it – and I don’t fault him for his reasons. The thing is, the one thing you can say about Joon-young is that he is confident in his music, even if his popularity has fallen.

Then there’s Song-ah who plays music for herself. She gave up a life to start over and play, and she knows it’s a foolish endeavor, and she knows that she’s not as gifted as many of her peers, but she also knows that music and playing music is what makes her happy. And again, I don’t fault her for this. Song-ah took a chance at music, and I think that is the block that holds her back – she feels so much self-consciousness at being different that she can’t let go. She is constantly being told to have confidence and conviction in her playing, and I think it is impossible for her to do this until she can do it with herself as well.

Both Song-ah and Joon-young make themselves small to allow others to be comfortable. It makes sense that they work so well together as a couple because together, they are both able to fully expand and express themselves when they are together. They are confident with each other – with their feelings, with the way they express themselves and with how they support one another. I love how with Joon-young – Song-ah has been the one to come back and sit down, to confess, to say it’s hard for her, to say she’s losing confidence. And the way that Joon-young was there for Song-ah when she was hurting over Min-seong was so lovely. He was supportive and gave her the space she needed to assess her feelings and never imposed himself on her. Just like she had been there as he was moving on from Jung-kyung.

And the fact that Joon-young took this heartbreak of hers and went to Hyun-ho himself to apologize – that takes courage. It must have killed him to have that conversation because he knew it wouldn’t end well. But he did it anyway. And it was so heartbreaking to watch. Honestly, losing a close friendship is one of the most painful things anyone can experience. There’s no remedy for filling that hole in your heart.

That’s why neither Song-ah nor Joon-young said anything in their respective friendships. It’s so clear that both of them valued the friendship more than any romantic feelings they had – and that says a lot about who they are. But at the same time I don’t fault Hyun-ho to Min-seong for being mad at them either; while it’s irrational to expect them to just stop having feelings, it’s also rational for them to be mad that not only did their best friend keep a huge secret, but that secret is directly tied to the thing that is giving them the most unhappiness at this time. They were both blindsided when the scars of their breakups were still too raw. I don’t think either of these friendships are totally lost (though, Hyun-ho has my full permission to remain mad forever, because that cute little puppy did not deserve to get his heart smashed into pieces by both his girlfriend and best friend). No one was right or wrong here.

Finally, there is Jung-kyung who plays music because I think she needs to in order to feel connection. She clearly loves music – it’s in her blood and but she also just loves being a part of the musical process. She doesn’t want to merely be an observer and patron – she’ll do what it takes to be a part of it, even if it just means teaching. Now, I’m mad at her for saying what she did to Song-ah; it was manipulative and coldhearted (but then again, that’s her M.O.), but I don’t fault her for thinking that if she’s patient, Joon-young will come back to her. So far, that is how he’s acted. But she doesn’t see how much Joon-young and Song-ah have started to change each other. Joon-young has always gone out of his way to make people happy, and she was always one of his priorities; that’s not the case anymore and this is going to be more of a hard lesson for Jung-kyung than for anyone else.

The end scene in episode 10 brought these three elements together of music and personality together. We saw Jung-kyung playing her heart out, and Joon-young matching her well. But we also saw the coldness and the distance between them. But Song-ah, in her self-consciousness misread the situation (or at least, the drama wants us to think she did until next week). She saw them performing together, and while of course they are on another level all together, they also have been performing together for years. They know one another’s habits. You don’t forget those things even when your friendship fades. The air in that practice room was practically frozen before they started playing, and if Song-ah had seen that, I think she would have better understood. (But also, has she seen Joon-young’s smile when he’s with her? He could power a sun with that smile it’s so bright.)

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    Lovely input as always snarky!

    I find it quite mean and self-centered of Min-sung and Hyeon-ho to tell the them that they should have stopped liking from the beginning. It’s difficult to stop one’s feelings and them keeping it in was in consideration of their friendship. Though I understand that it’s the anger and pain that’s speaking, I do wish that MS&HH would see that SA&JY wanted to keep the friendship that’s why they kept quiet.

    And yes, that smile could power a sun and it’s giving me life.

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      Agreed – that was unreasonable of them. But I also think that it was said in the moment and they were both still raw and hurting. I think time will allow them to think more rationally, though of the two, Hyun-ho has more a reason to be angry and an actual reason not to forgive, because both of them actively deceived him – even if Joon-young did it with the best of intentions. That’s a lot harder to come back from. I think Min-seong was more humiliated than anything else, and there is nothing that feels worse than being humiliated by or in front of the people you are closest to.

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        Really? This may be my bias dislike towards Jung-kyung that I’m blaming it all on her. Joon-young did not correct Hyun-ho when he assumed that JK couldn’t come to the NY recital because he wanted it buried to keep the friendship and avoid hurting both HH&JK. Hyun-ho can’t possibly blame it on JK because his inlove with the girl, so Joon-young got the end of the stick. Poor Joon-young, more reason for him to stay with Song-ah!

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          Oh, it’s definitely mostly on her, but I don’t think you can totally absolve Joon-young. He put himself in this situation. By not correcting Hyun-ho’s assumption he created the lie. Even if it was to protect Hyun-ho from being hurt, it was still a lie. And moreover, in retrospect it looked like he was trying to cover his feelings too (which maybe he was). Like, Hyun-ho is wrong to tell him to just stop having feelings – that not how that works – but he is totally right to be mad. And of course Jung-kuyng made it so much worse by doubling down and then really lying about everything.

          But that’s the point right? Joon-young is always willing to sacrifice himself for everyone else’s happiness. He doesn’t realize that sometimes you can’t make everyone happy, and you do just need to look out for yourself. He has clearly learned from this – it’s why he can be so open with Song-ah, and how he is growing as a character.

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            Yes, Hyun-ho sounded done with Joon-young so I guess, time will tell if he wants Joon-young back in his life.

            We’re seeing his growth through his interactions with Song-ah, which makes their relationships so endearing to me 😉

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            Agreed on 100% what you said!! You really put all my thoughts into words!! haha.
            It may be unfair of them, but it’s not unreasonable as in, it’s understandable that they would feel the way they feel at this moment. And time will tell them that they had made a mistake for also hurting the friends who have best intentions and they are hard to come by.

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    You’ve always have such great insights! I do really hope that JK will learn that she is no longer JY’s priority soon, cause that scene with the suitcase is giving me anxiety.

    Mostly I do agree with you, but I have to disagree on HH. I would have somewhat agree if HH was mad at both JK and JY, but noooo, he’s dealing with this with the mindset that it’s all JY’s faults and it pissed me off. May be I’m saying this because I’m heavily JY biased, but while people were singing praises about and sympathizing with HH, all I could think of was him clearly not valuing JY as a good friend, at least not as much as JY valuing him.

    As you have said, both JY and SA cared way more about friendship than love, but as this episode has demonstrated, that was not the case for HH and MS. That’s why it pained me to see them two so desperate to mend the friendships when the other parties probably didn’t care as much.

    At least, with MS and SA, I could see them bouncing back from this, cause they did seem to have a solid bond, as we’ve seen from the past 9 eps. But JY and HH? Ever since the beginning, I’ve always felt it was one-sided, JY seemed to be the only one invested in their friendship and HH’s like /whatever/. Remember the scene in ep 2? When HH was mumbling “I love you”, JY at first totally thought that HH was speaking to him! That scene hit me hard, cause I immediately got that their relationship was unbalanced and all of JY efforts trying to preserve it might not actually worth it.

    And then what did we have? HH telling JY to his face that he would drop him like a hot potato if he had known JY’s feelings! And JY was the one hanging his head and apologizing! I’m like?!?! What did JY do to deserve this? Living in pain over 10 years, exiling himself for 10 years, and THIS was what he got???

    Honestly, I agree with you in some parts that HH could stay mad forever, not because he has the rights to be mad (he doesn’t), but because this friendship, at the end, probably just isn’t worth it. Watching JY and HH is like watching a lost puppy following this one dude around begging for love while the dude only looking back with complete disdain and resentment. It’s so unfair and painful.

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      I think HH was responding out of anger today – I don’t think he meant what he said about leaving JY behind if he knew about his feelings for JK. I think more than anything he was angry at JK for everything, but it was so much easier to blame JY. I also don’t think we have enough information to say that HH doesn’t care for JY as much as JY cares for HH. I mean, literally the first person HH wanted to see when he came back was JY, and he was the first person he wanted to spend time with, before even his family. I think the problem is that HH was so normal until this happened that he just reacts and doesn’t think. He hasn’t been told to be a performing monkey his whole life and he hasn’t had to live up to others’ expectations. He was just allowed to be – so compared to his friends his reactions are going to be different. (I wrote a lot about this last week, if you want to see – it’s a few posts down on my wall.) I don’t think the friendship is unbalanced so much as just outgrown or in need of some serious repair.

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        I think my problem with HH is that we never got to see much of their friendship, I would love for more scenes of them just being pure friends. But from what I’ve seen from their scenes, I can only get the idea that while JY really cares about this friendship and HH, may be he does care to some extend, has always prioritized JK over JY. For the past weeks, I’ve holding off my opinion of HH, but this week, with the way he reacted to JY’s dating news, and when he told JY that he would stop being friends if he knew JY’s feelings, it was the last straw. I get that he’s angry, but the fact that he acted like JY was the sole person to blame really bothers me, it’s so unfair! Like I said, if he was mad at both JK and JY, I wouldn’t be this triggered.

        JY really loves HH so I wouldn’t mind if they get to repair their friendship somehow, but I would prefer if JY doesn’t have to apologize anymore, cause he has done that more than enough.

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    Love reading your insight of Ep 10! The ep title Sotto voce (/ˈsɒtoʊ ˈvoʊtʃi, -tʃeɪ/, Italian: [ˈsotto ˈvoːtʃe]; literally “under the voice”) means intentionally lowering the volume of one’s voice for emphasis. is so apt in describing how SA and JY express their hearts. They’re quiet types, they’re gentle and always get their point across not by shouting nor being aggressive. And that’s what i love about them.

    And i Agree that JY is slowly replacing JK’s meaning in his life, from Truemerie, the birthdate passcode, the handkerchief, and I hope that SA will realize that. The 15 years of Friendship between JY and JK is just that now, friendship. She is already a part of JY’s life, where JK does not matter at all.

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      So, OK, I agree with what you’re saying – but I won’t say JK doesn’t matter at all. Rather, I see JK as his past self and a different kind of love, while SA represents his future and his growth and a newer, healthier love. It feels disingenuous to disregard the effect and impact that JK had on his life – whether or not we as an audience like her or not, she clearly is important to his character’s development. And I don’t think she’s all bad either (I wrote a lot about her last week, it’s a few posts down on my wall).

      I think it’s really important to acknowledge the past when moving on, and I think that was what JY was doing when he put the handkerchief in the suitcase along with the music and phone. He was closing one era of his life to make room for the next. Starting fresh doesn’t mean you lose your past – you build on it and make a newer, better version of yourself.

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        Oh, sorry. What I mean by that was, the space that SA now occupies in JY’s life is a space that does not involve JK. SA did not have to come in between their 15 years of Friendship, but that JY carved a space for SA alone.

        I honestly don’t mind JK, I never discount her presence in JY’s life, and its true that 15 years is long and has impact in JY’s growth. They were part of his identity and his youth. I interpret the part when he was looking at the old phone’s picture as longing for those years of friendship and not of lost love anymore, compared to the first time we’ve seen him open that phone.

        Though I love the habits he has in connection to JK is slowly being replaced by SA, and for me that’s a sign that he is moving on.

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Explaining Zombie Detective to my brother and cousin.

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    Your brother and cousin are great LOL.

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      We were talking about what to watch, since clearly there are no important political events happening on TV tonight. (First presidential debate is tonight.) I recommended staring into the void. It seemed like the more fun option. But Zombie Detective (and Brahms) are pretty solid second choices.

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        “no important political events happening on tv tonight”

        BURN!!! (such a good one!)

        I wish those two could see this post

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        Do your cousin and brother watch Korean dramas as well?

        Not gonna comment about politics. I’m so tired of listening to people talk about American politics and I don’t even live in the States!

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Some Zombie Detective thoughts:

First off, props to Choi Jin-hyuk for really committing to the zombie role. I love how when Moo-young isn\’t actively trying human he reverts back to zombie mannerisms in the subtlest ways – like never moving his arms when he walks, and just sort of generally lumbering around, or sitting really still all the time and moving just the slightest bit too stiffly – it\’s both a bit unnerving and absolutely hilarious because the audience never forgets he\’s a zombie but no one else ever picks up on it. I also love that our zombie is so easily startled. Every time he gets spooked, and it happens so often, I think it\’s a good thing he is already dead because he would have had a heart attack.

Second: I legit thought this was going to try to be some kind of edgy, dark zombie drama with a candy heroine who isn\’t actually as mad as the teasers let you believe (because isn\’t that how it always is?). Instead it is absolutely bonkers, totally self-aware, and totally knows exactly how insane its premise is and leans into it. I love how it tries to do the stereotypical noir voiceovers, cliché shadowy office shots and all, but then just gets too caught up in inane details or pointless thoughts over how bills are piling up. And yet, despite all this, there is a clear through line in terms of plot and what the story needs to accomplish, so while I expect there will eventually be some attempts at dark edgy stuff, it still feels fresh with all the silliness.

Finally, bless whoever is doing the editing for this drama, they are absolutely killing it with the music cues.

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    good.. so i am gonna watch this now..

    I understand that the premise is insane/ new/ comedic, but overall project treatment is not juvenile or low quality, correct?

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      I personally find it very clever and tongue-in-cheek. It’s not a serious drama by any means but is very fun to watch.

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        lol.. you guys are corporate heirs..
        you don’t give out the bad news..

        lol.. this drama is 1 episode per week.. i would die of anticipation if it is an awesome drama

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    Thanks for this! You (+ everyone) are making me real curious. ^^

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      I definitely recommend it – it was not what I was expecting, and it turned out to be so much better.

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Beanfriends, this one is a long one, so forgive me. I have so many thoughts about Do You Like Brahms? and have had no time to articulate them properly. I still don’t have the time, since work is killing me right now, but I had some stuff I wanted to get out before I forgot.

So, I want to talk about the trio of musicians. I love this friendship, because it is very real in many ways – the three friends who have grown up together but are starting to realize that maybe the comradery they once shared now has a new dynamic, and maybe it doesn’t work well anymore (or even, if it ever did work).

Let’s start with our pianist, Joon-young. This poor boy – he is such a people pleaser. He will do anything to keep the peace, even if it is to his detriment. How he hasn’t had a breakdown yet is a mystery. It’s a good thing he met Song-ah when he did, because he needed someone in his life he could be honest with, even if he is still holding too many of his cards close to his chest. I think Song-ah was the first person in a long time who just treated him like a person.

Joon-young has spent years with people shoving him onto this pedestal and creating more distance in his relationships instead of making sure that he still has relationships to go back to. We saw this today in episode 8, and I think it was the first time he’s actively pushed back at that. Obviously part of his wanting to play with Jung-kyung is due to all those awful people trying to tell him he’s better than his friends. I’m pretty sure that his resistance to this, more than anything, is what caused his burnout. At the end of the day, he still had Hyun-ho and Jung-kyung, even if the friendship was beginning to wear and show its cracks. But then Jung-kyung goes and blows it all up in New York. (Also, I’m assuming his fallout with his teacher was due in part to Cha Young-in, because he still calls her noona while being barely polite to that asshat professor, and they were in a relationship, right? Or was I not paying proper attention?)

Which brings me to our spoiled former violin prodigy. This girl clearly needs a lot of therapy. She seems to have some sort of trauma related to her mother’s death, and this is obviously the root of her issues maintaining relationships – whether romantic, friendly, professional, or familial. Now, I’m not going to defend her behavior – it was and is and has been deplorable. But I will say this: I get it. I get that she’s broken up inside about failing to live up to her potential, I get why she purposely torpedoed her relationship and destroyed the only other meaningful friendship in her life at the same time.

If Joon-young is a people-pleaser, Jung-kyung is the other side of the coin: she’s selfish and she pushes people to their limits because she doesn’t know how else to confirm their love. Her relationship with her grandmother is also fraught – and I get it. I get that the constant reminder of her failed potential is grating. And something obviously happened with her father as well.

Which brings me to the final character in our trio – Hyun-ho. I could not get a read on this boy for the first few weeks, and it drove me nuts. I felt that he had to know about what happened in New York, then that he had to have an inkling of their feelings. But when you realize that he truly is in the dark, it all comes together. If Joon-young and Jung-kyung are the two ends of how they deal with relationships, Hyun-ho is the balance in the middle. He has a loving, normal family. He may not be a prodigy, but he’s good, and he is smart and he’s completely normal. And as a result, he doesn’t see the world the way his friends do. The way he yelled at Jung-kyung and then broke down after was just so heartbreaking because I think he understood everything – why she acted the way she did, why Joon-young did what he did; but knowing why doesn’t lessen his hurt.

I also think Jung-kyung mistakenly believed that Hyun-ho had some idea of what was going on, which was why she acted so brazenly. That’s why, once she realized Hyun-ho really was just that genuinely straightforward in how much he cared for her, she broke. Because maybe their relationship had reached its natural end, but maybe she just blew up the one truly good constant in her life. I don’t think she knows how to end things cleanly.

And here’s the thing, the reason I can’t hate Jung-kyung just yet. She’s a brat, that is for sure, and she’s spoiled, and she lashes out at people, and she can be deliberately cruel – but I don’t think that is really who she is. As much as she can be deliberately cruel, I don’t think she ever was malicious or ever had a truly malicious intent. At her very worst she is more self-destructive than anything else, and in the end, she really only hurts herself.

I kept waiting for a moment during the masterclass for her to put down Song-ah in some way, to make Song-ah look small, but she genuinely seemed to love teaching her. She paid Song-ah more attention in a few minutes than any professor had in years. Jung-kyung may be the prodigy who failed to live up to her potential, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try to help others where she failed. We’ve also seen her barely veiled disdain for her former professors who fawn over her because of her connections. We know that she loves playing, and that she wants more than just to run a foundation for her family.

I think her flash of jealousy over Joon-young was just that – a momentary flash. I mean, it also caused her to act on her worst impulses, but I don’t think it was who she is. I’ve been there – at the end of my 20s, flailing because the path you imagined is disappearing. Lashing out at the people who you love is one way some people cope (I’ve been guilty of this). It’s not okay and it’s not right, but it is natural. I think she thought that they would be okay after the dust settled, but she doesn’t realize how much Joon-young himself was going through.

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    Prodigy’s aren’t bad teachers. I mostly follow violinists and people like Hillary Hahn and Rey Chen are the nicest, sweetest, some of the funniest musicians you could find out there. I am sure there are some people who could be arrogant, obviously but there are genuinely good people out there too and that is precisely why I found Song Ah to be believable once in this entire span of the drama. She may just turn out to be a good teacher as opposed to be a soloist.

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      I really hope we see more of Jung-kyung like she was today in the rest of the drama. I would also love to see her work with Song-ah, and see them work together.

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        Agreed! That would be great. I’m not holding my breath though. There are eight episodes left. They need more way more drama to fill the space LOL

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          My prediction for the remainder of Jung-kyung’s arc: she does a bit better in terms of being a bitch (/possibly aims her bitchery where it’s most needed – towards those awful professors), backslides a bit and gets a bit possessive of Joon-young re: this recital, he ends up playing with Song-ah (undecided if this is with JK’s blessing). Also she deals with her family shit and starts mending bridges with her father (sidenote: I really hope we get this backstory soon) and Hyun-ho (boy, DO NOT go back to that mess, you deserve so much better).

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      Gem—Don’t forget Chloe Chua! She just did a guest spot with Twoset violin where she does a master class with Eddie and Brett. She’s adorable and I really think they learned something! https://youtu.be/slrHpGlxHQA

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        of course but she has a lifetime to greatness…..There are so many more but Hillary and Ray engage so much online, they are first ones that popped into my head

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    I’ve missed seeing you post @snarkyjellyfish!

    I love all of these thoughts. I think you’re right on about Hyeon-ho and Jung-kyung. The one place I disagree a bit is with Joon-young. The one missing piece, IMO, is that he’s sort of oblivious and privileged. His life sucks in many ways. The flip side, though, is that he doesn’t recognize his blessings. As a result, he doesn’t understand why other people are so desperate to improve musically and he doesn’t see why everybody else is afraid of not measuring up to him. He’s so fixated on the pressure of being up on that pedestal, of people creating distance between him and the people he loves, that he doesn’t see things from their end, as the people look up at the pedestal. It results in him casually brushing aside things that really matter to other people; indeed, I think that conversation he had today with Song-ah at the 40 minute mark was absolutely crushing in part because he essentially trivialized her valid fears and concerns.

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      Agreed that he doesn’t see his privilege. Also, I was pretty annoyed with him when he wasn’t able to see how Song-ah felt, though he does seem to understand the flipside – i.e. the warnings that she’ll be the victim of any rumors about the two of them – which is what usually does in the couples in these dramas. He does seem to genuinely want to protect her from harm, which makes sense since that is his M.O.

      At the end of the day, Joon-young needs to (1) learn to express himself and communicate better and (2)learn to say “No” for f*ck’s sake. These are why he is blind to his privilege – because he can’t actually take the time to assess himself because he’s so focused on everyone else. That’s why I actually liked that he didn’t go to Song-ah right away – he was aware enough on some level that he needed to work out some of the issues in his life before putting another person in it.

      I think what it comes down to is that as much as people put him on a pedestal, he puts his relationships on pedestals – Hyun-ho, Jung-kyung, Young-ah, Song-ah, the chairwoman, even his mother – and he really wants to make sure these people are happy, but fails to see that if he wears himself out doing that he only ends up hurting them and damaging the relationship e.g. his mother not telling him about needing surgery. I can so see something similar happen with Song-ah down the line. I think that’s why he wanted to clear up any misunderstanding with the recital, but he still botched it because he missed the main point which was that he needed to assure Song-ah of his feelings. Thank God she set him straight.

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It was a good read. I’m glad they showed us a bit more of Jung-kyung. I was waiting for this. I also expected her to belittle Song-ah so I’m pleasantly surprised that she treated her as a student and gave her actual advice. Points for honesty about not knowing the answer. Teachers don’t know everything and they can learn from students as well.

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      I think Jung-kyung is a great character – she’s not a nice character, or person, but she feels very real, even, maybe even especially, when she’s making bad decisions. Like, this is a person who is so clearly hurting and has not really dealt with her issues. But the moments we get where she’s not being terrible you see a normal young woman who just wants to do well at the thing she loves – and I love that parallel to Song-ah. Even though they come from different worlds, their core emotions are mirrors of one another. I truly hope Song-ah reaches out to her and we see more of that student-teacher dynamic between them. (Not holding my breath, though, because this is still dramaland after all.)

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        I’d love to see more interactions! They could be to each other the friend they both needed. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed+

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    I see your points but I still wanted to ToD to remove her by the end of Ep 8. 🙈

    I think she has the skills to become a good teacher, but the feelings of failure and inferiority will always be there unless she deals with it. Otherwise she’ll end up taking it out on her students like the old professors. The masterclass was part of a job application so I’m not convinced she’d be like that in a regular classroom. But there may be a glimmer of hope for her character.

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      But she also took the time to speak to the young prodigy in the second episode – I remember seeing that scene and wondering if that was the part of her we were missing. So much focus for her seems to be on what she could have been when it came to music, that people forget that she still is passionate about music – that’s why she would rather teach than sit on a board. I don’t think her feelings of failure or inferiority are as deep as her fears of abandonment. She clings to people for all she pushes them away (does that make sense?).

      She seems to love playing for its own sake, like Song-ah, for all she was once a prodigy. And I think people lost site of that about her (her grandmother certainly did) but she clings to that love more than anything. It’s not about being the best, it’s about being able to play at all, which is what her grandmother is trying to take away from her. I think her jealousy at Joon-young was that he got to play, not that she was inferior or a failure. (I mean, obviously those are connected but I think the latter are less important to her.)

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    Yes to everything.

    And let’s not speak too soon about Joon Young not having a breakdown, because I feel like the preview is hinting at it and I’m concerned. Hopefully Song Ah will be there or at least sense that something is wrong and Joon Young will for once in his life, let himself lean on someone for help or at least see his weaker side.

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    I totally loved reading this. Thank you!

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      Thank you! I never know whether my ramblings make sense to others, so it’s nice to hear you enjoyed it.

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    I, too, don’t hate Jung-Kyung. In fact, I never did. I just didn’t understand her and her motives, and I found her frustrating for being so self-destructive. She just always seemed to be in more pain than anyone else when she was acting like a bitch. She was very clearly unhappy in her relationship with Hyun-Ho and I couldn’t understand why she decided to convolute things. But I came to understand she doesn’t know how to end things cleanly.
    However, that scene when she confessed why she kissed Joon-young was the first time I disliked her. I understand and acknowledge her frustrations at not reaching the expectations expected of everyone and herself. I understand her jealousy of her ‘successful’ friend. I do. Feelings are meant to be felt. You can be jealous of your dearest friend – it doesn’t make you a bad friend, but what matters is how you act on it. That fleeting moment she was engulfed with jealousy that she acted out and kissed Joon-Young knowing his feelings was a real bitch move. As you said, she’s incredibly selfish. And I understand her feeling lost but you can’t appear in front of said friend claiming how sorry you are just to turn around to emotionally blackmail them into helping you out. That’s why I disliked her in that moment. It was her ‘reminding’ him that he more or less wouldn’t be where he is if it weren’t for her. Despite knowing who Joon-Young is, she went on to continuously emotionally blackmail him in that moment by saying things like ‘if I hadn’t convinced you to attend that competition, where would we be now? Would we be on equal footing? Would I be this unhappy?’ That, in itself, I found very cruel.

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      I agree with you. I have never hated her – she is so clearly a wounded character who has never been given the time, space or tools to properly heal. I agree that her jealousy is normal, and honestly I think it’s kind of refreshing to have a drama where those feelings were acted on and then the consequences explored.

      Jung-kyung is her own worst enemy, and I think she knows that more than anyone else. I also think she is a passionate woman who is finally coming to terms with the way her life has played out thusfar, and she’s beginning to rebel. It’s needed, but she doesn’t always do things in the healthiest way. She relies on manipulation to get what she wants, and I think all the rejection for work got to her, because that was something she could not manipulate her way into. I love that she wants to teach because it’s her choice, even if it’s done as an act of rebellion. It’s so clear that above all, Jung-kyung is truly passionate about music the way Song-ah is. I really hope the show explores this parallel more.

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    i dnt watch it but ty for sharing >:)

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Day 8: Most Overrated Book

This took me a minute because I generally don\’t keep reading if I don\’t like a book. I think a lot of classics are overrated, but I also understand their importance in the literary canon so I tend to chalk my dislike of them up to my modern sensibilities or a deep dislike of certain genres. (I have very strong feelings about a lot of Victorian literature which I will not regale you with here, but I was very lucky to have an excellent Victorian Lit professor in university who mostly chose books I didn\’t want to set on fire…except for Ruth, f*ck Ruth.) Anyway, I digress.

Today I\’m picking a popular book that I read at the height of its popularity, and I still don\’t really get the hype, not now and not then. It kind of felt like the literary equivalent of cotton candy – you really want to keep reading it in the moment, but as soon as it\’s over you can\’t remember why you bothered. The Da Vinci Code (or honestly, any Dan Brown book) was just so absurd and not in a funny ha-ha way. It\’s not even that the book was awful (I mean, it wasn\’t great either) but it was just not really as much as the hype made it out to be. The prose was ridiculous, the style was derivative and uninspired and it had a boring self-insert main character who as far as I can remember basically just ran from place to place being bewildered the entire series. I honestly think these are the adult equivalent of the Twilight franchise (another series I don\’t get – I think I peaced out of those after 25 pages?). Part of me thinks that the only reason these books aren\’t more discussed as being kind of cheesy (and not in a good way) is because they were so inoffensively bad that it wasn\’t worth the effort.

I get that they were fun, easy, turn-your-brain-off reads, but still – I can think of half a dozen other series that do the same things and are way better. I do remember that the author Maureen Johnson did a read-along on her blog where she ripped them to shreds – I can\’t find the posts anymore, but maybe some more-than-cursory googling will lead you to them – and I remember laughing so hard I cried reading her posts.

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    I almost posted this (yet I still keep on reading his books) 😂

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      Hahaha… This. His book is so easy to read. And once you understand the formula he used, which basically made the mystery very guessable, somehow it only made the reading experience more fun. As in the turn-your-brain-off fun. Heh.

      I think the only one I felt offensively bad is Inferno. But then again, I read it before I knew that one type of virus is more than capable oh holding the whole world captive for months to end.

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        This is exactly my point – they’re definitely not good books, per se, but they are very easily consumable books. They’re inoffensively bad. But they do not deserve half the popularity/hype/praise that they get.

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    Honestly, every Dan Brown novel I’ve read – this, Angels and Demons, and Digital Fortress – has been crap. If I wanted good genre fiction, I should’ve read something by Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham, but I obviously didn’t know this when I was a kid!

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      They’re just inoffensively bad books. Like, they’re not bad in a way that makes me wonder if the author/editor/publisher was high or stupid (like Twilight) but like…I also do not get how they are bestsellers. I can think of so many other cheesy series that are way better and more fun to read. For example, the Stephanie Plum books we my jam back in the day, though I think I stopped reading around book 10. Those books aren’t brilliant masterpieces by any means, but they are fun and well written and have good characters who actually have personalities and aren’t just an amalgamation of self-insert traits. Also, the main characters cars kept blowing up and that never gets less funny.

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        Stephanie Plum was so fun. Well, fun for awhile. The series should of had an end in sight. But I have fond memories of them as my mom read them too and some parts would make us laugh so hard.

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          I think I read the first 10 or 12 books, but I had to stop once the Ranger/Morelli/Stephanie triangle got too repetitive. But I loved Grandma Mazur. The author really created a great world with hilarious characters and funny situations.

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            Yes, it was the love triangle that kind of did ne in too. I think if there had been a choice it could of led to more character growth and arc, but still kept the rest of the framework the same.

            I loved seeing how each car was going to be destroyed.

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            The cars blowing up was one of the funniest running jokes especially as she became more resigned to it as the series progressed. That and Granny Mazur pulling her gun out in inappropriate situations were just hilarious.

            But also, Ranger was hot, and Morelli, while obviously the safe choice, seemed really boring and I was not into it, so dragging that out just got tedious. Granted that was my 15-16 year old self’s opinion, so maybe my [redacted] year old self would see things differently now.

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        Stephanie Plum was really entertaining for me back in high school/uni. I remember reading one of the books (Four to Score, I think) in our school library. The storytelling caught my interest so I went looking for the other books the next day. Hmm I think I stopped reading after the 15th book? I’d definitely love a re-read now.

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          Yeah I read them in high school when a friend of mine introduced me to them. I remember before that I would always see the bright covers in airport bookstores and was intrigued. They were a lot of fun. I think I stopped around book 12? Basically when the love triangle got too repetitive. But it was a great world in those books and they were fun turn-your-brain-off reads in the best possible way.

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    I remembered going through a phase in middle school when I was really into Dan Brown’s and James Rollins’ books. They both write popular action/adventure books that were fun to read at the moment, but yea – I also don’t remember half the things that happened after I finished. LOLS
    But the one pet-peeve of mine in movies/books is whenever they talk about art (i.e art handling, making art, etc.) and just taking so many creative licenses. I just can’t. And this book with all of its speculative readings into paintings/etc. crack me up now.

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      Same. I think I read them all on vacation once. They were fine, but like, nothing special. I am pretty sure my brain deleted all but the barest details when I finished them.

      I also definitely side-eyed a lot of his art interpretations etc. Also the Illuminati stuff – like, that is the most overused trope ever in this genre, and it was overused a decade ago when these books came out, so I don’t know how they got so much love. So yeah, these books were way overrated but they also weren’t actively killing my braincells so it wasn’t a total loss.

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        Yea! I def enjoyed them more when the movies came out since I love Tom Hanks. 😛 but other than that it was mehhh

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    My husband did an English Literature paper at university back in the day that included this book (it was roughly at the time of all the hype). He still gets annoyed about it – not because he hates the book, but because the lecturer was basically like “this book is terrible, only idiots read this, let’s just skip” instead of looking at *why* it was so popular. I definitely agree it was overrated…but I’d rather read it again than The Corrections (also from the same course 😂).

    I think a lot of the hype had to do with religious angle – it’s so shocking! Is it really true! Etc when really it’s just window dressing on a pretty basic genre novel.

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      I only made it a chapter or two into The Corrections.

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      I don’t even think the religious angle was that shocking? Even at like 16 or whatever I could tell it was really derivative. Like I said – I get the reason people enjoyed the book, I don’t get why it was a phenomenon. Even Twilight makes more sense to me as a phenomenon, because while they’re terrible and problematic, the appeal is readily discernible, even if there are a thousand better vampire books. This was just…dumb. Like, entertaining as hell while you read it, but so so dumb.

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        I guess some things have good marketing? Or just capture something at the time which you can’t see years later. I think everyone wants to have something like Harry Potter again, but it’s hard to see it happening.

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    This i agree..totally.. more than the twilights posts..

    this author and Paulo Cohelo.. like STOP PUBLISHING

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    I enjoyed the first half of this book, but the latter half was blah. Definitely doesn’t live up to the hype!

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    I liked it, but when I picked up a second novel of his, I dropped it quickly. It’s definitely cheesy and easy to read.

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    I really enjoyed Angels and Demons and read this immediately after but just couldn’t get through it. I’ve tried several times but never completed it.

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Day 7: A Book That Makes You Laugh

The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books (Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging et al.) by Louise Rennison. I remember I picked up the first book in Borders many, many, moons ago (remember Borders y’all?) and started reading and was laughing so hard I got a few dirty looks. I knew I needed to have this book but had no idea how to get my mother to buy me a book with the word “Thongs” on the cover. I did it somehow, and it led to many years of laughter with the series. Just thinking about these absurd books makes me smile. One of the best parts of the series was that the American editions had an “English to American” glossary in the back. Very few books have made me laugh until I cried, but these did.

Looking back, there are definitely more than a few problematic things about the series that would not fly today, but it still captured a lot of the absurdity and angst of being a teenage girl. Georgia was shallow, materialistic, boy-crazy, judgmental, and could be very insensitive at times, but she was also funny and got herself into the most absurd situations (in the first 25 pages alone she recounts going to a fancy-dress party dressed as an olive, and accidentally shaves off her eyebrows). The series was never meant to be taken seriously but it also never belittled the experience of being a teenage girl and the growing pains of youth, and let’s face it, we were all a little shallow, insensitive and judgmental when we were young and ignorant of the world.

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    Ahh Borders! That was always my go-to place instead of Barnes and Noble. I was so sad when they went under. 🙁

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      Same – I think we used to have family outings there at least once a month. I like B&N fine enough, but it was never quite the same as Borders.

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    Lol I watched the movie for the word Thongs! 😛 I want to read the book sometime.

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Day 6: A Book That Makes You Sad

I don’t really read sad books – I like to escape into a happier world in my fictional narratives. I needed to wrack my brain for a minute today to come up with a book that is sad. There are certainly books which are sad in part, but not enough to say the book makes me sad. Part of me wants to cheat as say Know My Name again but I’m trying to not repeat books. (Though, seriously, go read it, it’s so good.). I do read a lot of “depressing” books, but I’m not sure that’s the same? I’ve read a lot of non-fiction which revolves around mental health or addiction and personal narratives of those dealing with these issues, but they aren’t sad to me. They’re not really uplifting either but they are insightful.

But I digress.

In the end I came up with Atonement by Ian McEwan. I read this many years ago, just before the movie came out. This book was so sad to me because it was just so cruel. Cruel because you read a story only to discover it is lies. It’s hard to know whether the lies are truly atonement for those whose lives were destroyed, when it seems that it is really the narrator’s self-serving and a selfish attempt to undo the lies of the past with new lies.

It is also heartbreaking because you see family torn apart, young lovers torn apart, all while the world was falling apart. It’s a rich narrative and even just a cursory understanding of WWII history is enough to understand the weight of the world at the time of the story. The movie was an excellent adaptation with an excellent cast and wonderful direction (and that dress), but nothing can ever quite capture the emotions of the book and Briony’s desperation to atone.

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    So spot on – sad and no atonement can undo the tragic consequences!

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    I found this a lovely book as well (which is not entirely surprising – McEwan is gifted writer). It’s one of those books that leaves you confused and disjointed at the end, unable to exactly decide how you feel about everything (I always associate this book with Disgraced by JM Coetzee, because, despite the difference in subject matter, both books left me with a distinct sense of discomfort and uncertainty about how to process what I had read).

    I will say that there is a bit of Briony in all of us (well, maybe I shouldn’t generalize and should just say many of us). Most people don’t do things this horrible and life-crushing, but we all do things which are bad or cruel for which we try to make up stories, justifications, and excuses. Worse still, many of these things which we do are unintentional, bred of misinterpretation, naivete, inattention, or ignorance. What makes this story really poignant for me is that it’s reflective of both the destructive power of stories in our lives (they can send people to jail and later to their death) and the salvaging power of stories (in one sense, I think Briony’s story and her attempt to atone through fiction is what lets her cope and go on with her life, and while we might think it inappropriate that she never sought to tangibly correct her misdeed, I think it’s undeniable that there something amazing about the power of a story to do that for her).

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      Disgrace***

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      Exactly this – that’s part of why it’s so sad to me. You completely understand why Briony acted as she did, and why her fictional atonement is so important, but that doesn’t make the cruelty of the story less; if anything it amplifies it. It’s easy to write her off as “bad” or “selfish” or any other number of things. But when you think about the fat that her life was defined by that moment and that she has never been able to truly move on, your heart kind of breaks for her. That her trauma is not of the war that destroyed so many, but from the war within herself, is tragic. Its not as simple as an unreliable narrator because that would be too easy. As you said, it’s about the power of stories. McEwan is a master storyteller in how he layers in the aspects of the plot to tell his story. I really need to read more of his work.

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Day 5: A Book That Makes You Happy

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – I’ve re-read this book so many times that my first copy is falling to pieces. I have a newer copy that I re-read now (it took me forever to find the same cover). I read this book so many times when I was young I could practically recite passages from heart. It remains a nostalgic favorite, and I always feel warm and happy when I open it up, like I’m curled up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, catching up with an old friend.

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Days Three and Four: Favorite Series/Favorite Book of Your Favorite Series

Combining these two for brevity.

So many series to choose from, but I’m going with what is probably the first series I ever loved, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and the book I love most is…ugh, don’t make me choose. Okay, okay…fine, I pick the first book, Dealing With Dragons.

This series was everything my nine-year-old self needed: a feisty princess, a sassy dragon, evil wizards, dumb princes, a no-nonsense witch and a lot of fun. I’m going with this book because it’s definitely the one I’ve re-read the most, but the third book, Calling on Dragons is told from my favorite character’s point-of-view and has some very funny situations.

Shout outs to:

The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold – I haven’t finished the last two books because I don’t want the series to end, but Mirror Dance is a brilliant study of scientific ethics, mental heath, bodily autonomy, and philosophy (all themes that recur throughout the books) and one of the standouts in the series. I also loved Captain Vorpatril\’s Alliance because of course Ivan would do that just to annoy his mother.

Also, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, because I love all of Cat and Christopher’s adventures and the series contains some of the best and most clever world-building I’ve ever read. All fantasy authors should take note – Diana Wynne Jones knew what she was doing.

Finally, I absolutely cannot forget the Thursday Next books. They’re so clever and funny and just plain fun, especially if you’re a literary nerd.

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    The Eyre Affair was so shockingly fresh when I first picked it up. It blew me away.

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      Same! I think what I love most is that Thursday is a badass in the most un-badass way. She’s allowed to age and have children and a boring romance, but yet, the books are so fun and readable because the world she’s in is so interesting.

      I love all of Fforde’s books and I know he just published a new one a few weeks ago, and I can’t wait to dive in whenever I get a chance. He has a really clever way with prose and plot.

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    I have never managed to get into the Thursday Next books. They seem like the sort of thing I would like but they just never worked for me. I don’t know why. Maybe too much Discworld has ruined me for anything involving literary jokes.

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      I think I picked up the first book three times before I got into it, but once it sucked me in I was there to stay. Maybe you just need to be in the right mindset? I love Discworld too, but Thursday Next is very different and both are great in their own unique ways.

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        Maybe I just need to try again, again. My sister likes them and we usually read all the same stuff so I don’t know why this has never clicked.

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          I definitely think you should give it a second chance; sometimes we just aren’t in the right headspace for a book and need to revisit it later.

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Day 2: A Book That You’ve Read More Than Three Times

So many here. I’m a big re-reader. Not as much lately but I do have a few that I’ve needed to purchase multiple copies of. I think I’ll give this one to The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. I mean, I’ve re-read all her Circle of Magic/Circle Opens books more than three times (and all the Tortall books about Alanna, Daine, and Kel), but this one I’ve re-read about once a year since it came out. I love it so much because it came out when I was just a bit older than the characters in the book, who I had grown up with. The book does a wonderful job encapsulating the growing pains of going from child to adult, and I love the exploration of these characters’ relationships to one another, especially as it related to trauma and healing. It was also wonderful to see the kids I grew up with come into their own.

Shout outs:

Sarah Dessen was my favorite author for a long time. I still have a lot of nostalgia for her books, especially these two, This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever. I remember the day that the librarian introduced me to her books, and I remember how when This Lullaby came out, she let me read it before it even went on the shelves. These books brought me a lot of comfort and I look forward to reading them again soon.

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    Wow, I’m also a total TP fan but in front of you, perhaps I can only call myself a tiny fan, hahah.
    I’ve been following the Tortall series since High School and reread it from the first book straight only once. I’ve been wanting to read the Circle Open books but haven’t gotten to it yet.

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      I remember when the librarian gave me the Alanna books in sixth grade – I think I re-read them about two dozen times by the time I graduated. I haven’t re-read them in a while, though sometimes I’ll pull one off the shelf and peruse it for old time’s sake. I haven’t read any of her more recent ones either but I plan to make time to one day soon.

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        The last time I read them I started with Alanna and read all the way to Becca series. There’s just something special about reading childhood classics 🙂

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          I read the first Beka book when I was in my first year of uni, though I never got to the rest of them because I was reading so much for my classes that pleasure reading really stopped for a while (ahh, the double edged sword of being an English lit major). I’ve been wanting to do a Tortall re-read though and hope to get to it either this year or next year.

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            Yes! My pleasure reading had really been affected ever since there’s been so much going on in real life but Tortall universe is still somewhere in the back of my mind hahaha. Beka books were pretty good as well. All of the different Tortall series hold a special place in my heart haha. Hope you enjoy your ride when you find time 🙂

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OK, here we go!
Day 1: Best Book You Read Last Year

Probably Know My Name by Chanel Miller. This book should be required reading. This is honestly some of the most moving and empowering pieces of writing I have ever read. Miller has a gift with words, and she uses her voice impactfully to tell her story while not sensationalizing or undermining her own experiences. She takes you through the motions of her life in the years following her assault and while it’s painful to read at times and it’s not uplifting, it remains unflinchingly honest to the end.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow is my other pick. (I’m really not a non-fiction person, I swear.) I started this book day it came out while I was on vacation in Morocco. I could not put it down. Every second that we weren’t doing something that required my attention, I was glued to this book. I read it in two days flat. Farrow is excellent at telling the story of his groundbreaking piece journalism while remaining considerate to his subjects making sure that they are honored and treated with respect throughout the narrative.

Shout outs:

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin, a great modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a modern day Canadian-Muslim community, and was very relatable for me in a lot of ways.

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This is a brilliant piece of fictional storytelling in the narrative style of an oral history and I could not put it down.

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    I think Ayesha at Last is one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice retellings.

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      Same. I waited for aaaaages for it to come out in America; it came out in Canada like a year earlier and I stupidly did not buy it when I was visiting (though it may have come out a week after I left? I can’t remember). I was so glad it was worth the wait though – I’d been reading rave reviews for a while and it more than lived up to the hype. I can’t wait to see what the author gives us next.

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    I’m listening to the audiobook of Know My Name right now.

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      How is it? I am debating listening since I read it already but would like to revisit it.

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        I like it so far. She was a little bit robotic in the beginning, but she gets more comfortable as it goes on. I’m only 13% of the way through and just hearing her telling her story is making me feel all the emotions.

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          I never cry and I cried reading this. Like, put down the book and take a moment, cry. I basically realized pretty quickly that I shouldn’t read this one on my subway/bus rides because parts of it are…a lot.

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    Ayesha has been on my list for such a long time! Ill put it on hold when I get to work in the morning. How graphic is the Know My Name book? One of my favorite books that is a never reread for me because it was a difficult read (for me) was Lucky by Alice Sebold. It really brings to home the point between being a victim and a survivor. I like to read nonfiction but I have to tread carefully because I carry things with me so long after the book is over.

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      Do it! Ayesha is so good, I think I may re-read it soon.

      Know My Name is not terribly graphic in terms of the actual assault (because she had blacked out) and it wasn’t “violent” in terms of an assault (other than, you know, the fact that she was assaulted while blacked out), but she speaks in detail to everything that happened. I think she only speaks about the assault itself in detail in one chapter and I believe she gives a warning before, so you could possibly skip over it. For me it was the emotional aftermath that really stuck with me, and was hard to forget because she has such a strong and distinctive voice. Which is no surprise given her victim impact statement, which the world read long before we knew her name. I remember when I first read it three years ago it left an impression. So I guess I’m saying read it if you think you can, but maybe also have a fluffy book/drama on standby. You could also check out some of her interviews – I really liked her talk with Trevor Noah.

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OK, I\’ll bite.

Note: I\’m keeping my list strictly K-dramas to narrow down my options; mini dramas/drama specials (i.e. dramas with less than 12 episodes), and non-K-dramas are in the honorable mentions.

10% – Soulmate
10% – Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo
10% – The Greatest Love/Best Love
10% – Tale of Nokdu
10% – Reply 1997
10% – Fight My Way
10% – Her Private Life
10% – Just Between Lovers
10% – The Guest
10% – Be Melodramatic

Honorable Mentions:
(There are 10 here — make of that what you will…)
J-Dramas:
– Nodame Cantabile
– Liar Game
– We Married for a Job

TW-Dramas:
– In Time With You
– Someday or One Day
– Meet Me @ 1006

Mini Dramas/Drama Specials:
– to.Jenny
– Just Dance
– You Drive Me Crazy
– If We Were a Season

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Finally catching up on on Unfamiliar Family and I just can\’t with Big Noona. (Just finished ep. 11, and half of 12.) She is the most selfish, spiteful, hateful person. Look, I have deep sympathy for her situation, both the marriage and the birth secret. But honestly, sitting her siblings down and being like \”I\’m done with you. Also treat mom better.\” is just so f*cking hypocritical on her part. (And I know, I know, it doesn\’t stick, but that doesn\’t make it less cruel.)

Eun-joo literally treats her mom like trash her entire adulthood and then, the moment she finds out the truth she\’s mom\’s number one cheerleader and the other two (who are still her freaking siblings) are apparently terrible children who don\’t deserve her, even though those two are the ones who gave mom the love and affection she needed for most of their lives.

I get her pride, and I get that she\’s a gooey marshmallow on the inside of a cold shell. I get that so much. But that doesn\’t negate her treatment of people. She is spiteful and causes pain to others just because she is in pain and seems to think that it\’s an eye for an eye situation. I even understand her pride making it hard for her to accept that her father really loves her (even though it\’s so obvious that he genuinely and sincerely adores her and sees her as only his child). I get how hurt and betrayed she feels by her parents and husband. I\’ve been there – family betrayal is the worst. That still doesn\’t excuse her behavior.

And here\’s the thing – I get that Eun-hee is no saint, basically cutting people out of her life for a single infraction in the past. She continues to make mistakes, but she also seems to want to grow, even if she does repeat her mistakes. (Also, this entire family needs to stop assuming the worst with the bare minimum evidence.) She so clearly regrets her past; she doesn\’t condone her own behavior. It\’s equally clear that these are the kinds of things that have caused a strain on her self-esteem – I think it\’s not so much that Eun-hee was mad at her sister and Chan-hyuk as she was at herself. I think it was a punishment for herself as much as them.

But back to my main point – Eun-joo. I know she gets better in the episodes to come. I\’ve read the recaps. The sister bonding is happening now and I love it. I know she can\’t really let go of her family as easily as she acts like she can. That doesn\’t make me any less angry at her. You don\’t treat people the way she does. I also have a complicated family, and I get it. But I can be a b*tch, and even I don\’t think I have never been that terrible.

(Also, I lowkey think Eun-joo was the result of an assault which would explain a lot about mom, but I kind of hope not, because that would be too cliche and kind of unnecessary at this point. Also, I don\’t really want to see how Eun-joo reacts to that information.)

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    She almost had a personality transplant. Or maybe not that extreme but some thorns were definitely removed in 13/14. Because it’s a drama i can forget her horribleness but if my sister ever acted the way EJ did, i don’t know what I’d do! At least EH knows she’s made mistakes and is actively trying to do better, but EJ..not so much it seems.

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      Yeah, I read the recaps, and it’s like they all have selective amnesia as to her horrible treatment of everyone. Like, I understand forgive and forget, but that doesn’t make this less awful of her. If my brother ever did that to me I’m pretty sure the trust between us would be broken. Like, Eun-joo literally treats her family like they’re disposable and the only relationships that matter a blood ones (all of a sudden too, because remember, she treated her mom like trash before this). I honestly agreed with her husband when he said he found it laughable that she wanted a child when she treated her own family so terribly. It was a cruel thing to say in the moment, but it holds a lot of truth too. And that’s not to say Eun-joo would be a bad mother, but she does seem to lack compassion and has this God-complex where she is only ever right or else she’s the victim.

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    She’s such a deliciously grey and complex character, I loved her for that! She was only one who pushed everyone’s buttons, including us viewers. Without siding or disagreeing with her at any point, I loved watching her make her decisions. I found it a study in how to sketch a character (scriptwriting as craft, etc).

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      Oh, I definitely agree with that – she’s a great character study for sure. She’s grey a lot of the time, and I understand a lot of her motivations and empathize a lot with her. I even understand her clod reactions to things. I get that she isn’t an emotional person, and she’s pure rational thought, which I love seeing in a female character. I actually relate a lot to her because I too do not like being openly emotional and tend to spell things out bluntly for people.

      But her treatment of her family is terrible – and I know she has her reasons – but like…it’s not justified in any way. Her reactions are bigger and crueler than any situation warranted. And I’ve dealt with similar situations in my life, I know what it’s like to learn things are a lie. Her husband’s family – they’re awful, I do not blame him from distancing himself. But her family, while they are messy and can be tough on one another, truly love each other, and the way she disregards that over and over started to grate on me. Especially her 180 on her mom and then acting as if she had been a great daughter and the other two were terrible. And I realize a lot of that is her own guilt and insecurity coming out, but that doesn’t make it right. But it does make it interesting.

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        Haha – I relate to her a lot as well, for exactly the same reasons you mention! She felt a lot like me, unlike Eun-hui, whom I could not relate to at all.

        I hear you on the treatment of her family, but I think everyone has treated everyone badly in this story – either wilfully or mistakenly. So for that reason, I don’t especially hate on EJ :/ I can understand her reasons, just as I can understand maknae’s reasons for what he does towards the end (won’t spoil, if you haven’t reached there), and Eun-hui’s for cutting off etc.

        TBH, this was one show in which I didn’t feel emotionally invested, but was just fascinated at how the plot developed. I was looking at it consistently as craft – writing, plotting, acting, directing – unlike, other shows where I will the heroine into doing something that really I want done. So my take on the show has been at a distance.

        As a meta exercise, I found my own viewing of this show very different and interesting. I begin to think it’s an evolution of myself as a viewer, I felt 😀 But then I start watching something as giddy happy as Memorials and I’m right back where I started….

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Jae-hyuk may be the worst but Lee Ji-hoon is killing it in the role. He plays the nuances of Jae-hyuk’s decent into insanity beautifully, and honestly as much as I loathe the character I am finding myself really engrossed in this performance. It’s not even that he’s redeeming the character or even making him sympathetic. If anything, he’s doing the opposite, and making him harder to stomach with each passing episode. I get that Jae-hyuk has severe mental problems and that his family is terrible, but that doesn’t give him a free pass. The fact that he’s now using his mental instability as a tool to tear people apart is just disgusting beyond belief. But it’s also so fascinating to watch, especially given this performance.

I also kind of get why Geon-woo is so sympathetic to him – it seems that Jae-hyuk was one of the few who truly accepted him when he came out and so he feels obligated to him for that. Moreover, Geon-woo is a good person who has only the best of intentions, and who doesn’t know all the details of everyone’s relationships. He clearly cares deeply for Jae-hyuk, Do-hee, and Hae-kyung and believes he is doing what is best for them. But he doesn’t know how much Jae-hyuk has manipulated all of them or how he has inadvertently given Jae-hyuk the fodder for his delusions. Geon-woo is a peacekeeper and he seems to love harmony more than anything else. I love that he is so open with his feelings for those around him, because clearly he has lost a lot too. In a lot of respects he serves as a contrast to Jae-hyuk, as they both have been shunned by family; but Geon-woo found healthy coping mechanisms and relationships while Jae-hyuk let himself wallow in his feelings and lot that ability.

I still don’t get why Geon-woo enables No-eul though. She’s just a terrible person.


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    I totally agree with what you say about Lee Ji Hoon’s performance. He has me invested in Jae Hyuk’s storyline and I fear what he will do in the coming episodes. I also agree with what you have said about Geon-woo. Jae Hyuk was the only family member who accepted him and kept contact with him so he naturally feels obligated to help him out. I think Geon Woo enables No Eul because he sees himself in her in the sense that she was also abandoned by her parents

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      You’re probably right, I forgot that they were connected like that. I also suspect that No-eul being so accepting of him is part of it too. But she’s still The Worst. I kind of think that may be his most unhealthy relationship. At least Jae-hyuk is family. No-eul kind of gets his situation, but she’s just spiraling into pettiness and stupidity at this point. Plus, her selfishness makes me want to slap her whenever she opens her mouth.

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        Honestly, I’m less sympathetic to Geon-woo. Do-hee has told him several times that she doesn’t want anything to do with Jae-hyuk. I get why Geon-woo is sympathetic to Jae-hyuk, but it’s not fair of him to burden Do-hee in this way. True, he doesn’t know the full extent of Jae-hyuk’s misconduct, but I think he’s gotten enough indication from Do-hee already that he should stop trying to act as an advocate on behalf of Jae-hyuk to Do-hee.

        I feel same way about No-eul as well. He’s repeatedly called Hae-kyeong about things that have happened to No-eul, even though Hae-kyeong and No-eul aren’t a thing anymore, even though he knows the hardship No-eul put Hae-kyeong through, and even though he knows Hae-kyeong does not want to be with No-eul anymore. It’s unfair imo.

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          I agree with you all on this. Geon-woo is really hard to accept as BOTH Do-hee and Hae-kyeong told him in no uncertain terms that they did NOT want to be contacted about their exes.
          And yet he still calls them – and then recommends JH to go to Hae-kyeong for counseling?
          I think JH went there (as planned) to stir things up and make a scene which would damage Hae-kyeong’s reputation.

          Just like he did to Keanu Ahjussi.

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    I love LJH in this role as well. I hate the character, but I’ll also be the first to say he’s incredibly fascinating to watch (in the way a serial killer documentaries are fascinating). LJH has done an amazing job with this role and I honestly want to watch him in more stuff!

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I\’m so sad to see Mystic Pop-Up Bar end. But at the same time it was so satisfying in so many ways and I love the story it told, even if it went by too fast.

I\’m gonna miss these three dummies. The cast just hit it out of the park – their chemistry from the beginning was pitch perfect, and as the story built up to the final reveals the emotional payoffs were worth it.

I\’ve always said that it doesn\’t matter if you figure out a twist in a story coming at you a mile away. The true test of a good story to me is that the characters don\’t see the twist coming so that they react to it honestly. Sometimes when you know something the character doesn\’t the story will surprise you with how it chooses to reveal things, and you realize the journey isn\’t about the twist, but it\’s about the growth needed to deal with the twist.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar was an unexpected gem in the middle of a very strange time in the world. It was a comforting two hours every week, getting lost in this world and watching these characters grow and learn to trust one another. All three leads needed to learn to trust – both in one another and themselves. That trust taught them bravery, and showed them that they weren\’t alone on their journey\’s, which ultimately gave them all the ability to earn their happy ending. Sometimes love isn\’t all that\’s needed to grow, though this drama had plenty of that as well.

Good-bye Mystic Pop-Up Bar. Thank you for this fun ride, I\’ll definitely be dropping by again.

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    That dream was precious where the 3 were proper family

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      It was so precious. But for a minute I panicked it was going to be like that scene in Hi Bye, Mama!
      It wasn’t for sure.

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    Thanks for writing down my exact thoughts about this show.
    I’m going to miss this trio so much!

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    Argh. I’ve been trying to stay away from K-dramas but I feel myself getting sucked back in. 😂 This show sounds wonderful.

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    Totally agree with all you said but specially with the last paragraph. I watched The King hoping that it will be a good dose of escapism but it was actually Mystic Pop up Bar that did it for me. Such good world building, no extra confusion, so so much heart and overall an enthralling watch.

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    @SnarkyJellyfish I agree with everything you’ve written. This drama was amazing!

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    Awww that was a nice read and I totally agree!! I actually didn’t realize how much this show touched me until they showed all the story of the day characters. They’ve helped so many people who are struggling with things all of us have gone through in life. Plus that ending scene! This drama has given me so much comfort, I’m so sad it’s over but so grateful it happened.

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So the thing that I\’ve loved about Dinner Mate is that neither Do-hee nor Hae-kyung have been even the slightest bit influenced by the manipulation of their exes, nor have they been threatened by the others ex. They obviously have weaknesses but they have only ever given their exes the courtesy that one owes a fellow human. Honestly, I feel like their mothers make more of an impact on them when it comes to emotional manipulation than either of the two idiot exes.

But today was different because things are different from when you\’re flirting versus actually being together. Because before they weren\’t in a vulnerable position – before they could still keep their feelings close. But now their feelings are out there that makes them vulnerable, not only to one another, but to outsiders as well. They are both strong, and I think it\’ll take more than a few obnoxious words from No-eul to do anything. I don\’t think that they will be shaken, but I do think that they are going to have a lot more complicated conversations sooner than they wanted; because while it\’s all good and well to share secrets with a nameless stranger, it\’s another thing entirely to be vulnerable and emotionally open with someone you care about.

Now to the idiot exes. Let\’s just get the crazy out of the way. This guy. I can\’t with Jae-hyuk anymore. This is classic abusive behavior. Doing something that forces Do-hee to pay attention to him and put her on the spot. It\’s so transparent, and this is where he and No-eul differ. It\’s transparent, but it hasn\’t been so openly desperate in front of others like hers. Usually his manipulations are subtle enough to seem harmless to others while No-eul is openly manipulating. If No-eul is trowing pebbles, Jae-Hyuk is trowing a grenade and then strapping dynamite to himself and running in headfirst. He doesn\’t care about the damage he does, or who gets hurt in the process. It\’s only a matter of time before he does some serious harm. He definitely needs professional help, because clearly he is beyond listening to reason now. I really want to know what he did to Homeless Ajusshi now, because it\’s clear his manipulation and pathological lying go back a long time and he has used it for evil in the past. I wonder if those were part of what got him kicked out of his home?

And as for our second female lead: No-eul was disgusting and stupid this episode. I wish we had a real actress in the role, because I could so see one of the actresses who play despicable second leads so well – Yoo In-young for example – giving No-eul some depth. We know that the script has given her the material (eating disorder, mommy issues, etc.), but it fails to show up in the performance. Even her smirks are bad. How do you screw that up? But we have what we have. Anyway, I digress. No-eul is working her best to create a wedge between Hae-kyung and Do-hee, and it\’s so transparent that it would be funny if it weren\’t so pathetic.

Honestly this is part of the irony of the show to me – the arguably worse of the exes is played by an actor who manages to make a truly awful person seem human and…not vulnerable exactly, but at least he feels real. It\’s a horrific character but a spectacular performance. It never quite goes over the top, but it pushes the limits just far enough. No-eul on the other hand is the one who could have been redeemed in so many ways with good acting – her wanting a friendship with Do-hee, for example. I realize the script made her spiteful, but a good actress could have shown a battle within her when it comes to losing a potential friend. Or the way she intersects with Hae-kyung\’s mother – what even is the mood there? If we saw some genuine feeling there or if there were some nuance, those scenes would land so much better. But the way it\’s going I feel like in the end I may have some sympathy for Jae-hyuk while No-eul could go eat rocks.

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    The thing I love most about both characters is how firm they are in their rejecting their exes. Gently but firmly. There hasn’t been one single time in which I felt that they may come back to them. They both have been really considerate to them, being them to support even when they didn’t want to, because they felt it was the right thing to do (as when you do it to anyone, just because it’s human to care). And to me this says so much about DoHee and HayKyung as human beings, because they are good.

    In contrast, we have the exes, and just like you I will leave the psycho aside. They are both manipulative and selfish. None of them wants their exes back because they love them. They just have the idea that they would be better with them by their side and don’t really care about how the other feels: I’ve decided I want you by my side because it will be great for me. Now, do as I say. Call me crazy, but that’s not the best way to get into a relationship.

    I totally agree with you about NoEul and how terribly bad she’s being acted. I’ve commented in the recap that she may be written to be hated, but if only she was acted properly we could see some nuances that would make us like the performance. Her whole presence in the drama is a mystery to me: she adds nothing. I mean, when she was visiting HK’s mum I was just asking myself why she was there… Writer has given NoEul a couple of reasons to be “more human” like her genuine wish to become DoHee’s friend, but having a expressionless actress on it is like having a stone as second FL.

    And that’s exactly where Lee JiHoon makes the difference. He’s making such a remarkable job. His character is really hateful, but I discover something new on him almost everytime he’s on screen. He’s making JH human even if JH is not totally human.

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    I feel a combination of irritation and second-hand embarrassment watching Son Na-eun “perform” and I don’t think the writing helps either. There was the tiniest flicker of doubt in No-eul’s eyes when she talked with Jae-hyuk at the bar.

    Or, maybe I’m the one projecting my own feelings?

    In a recent NYTimes piece about the popular French series, The Bureau, director/actor Mathieu Kassovitz says his character is generally poker faced. He joked that it’s editing and the viewer that intensify the emotion:

    Viewers tell me, ‘Wow, what an intensity.’ And I say, ‘No, the intensity is coming from you, from the way it’s been edited, what we show you, the story that’s being told. You are the one placing this tension in my eyes. Me, I was just gazing into the distance.’

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      Haha, probably. That or the director got lucky with his shot and she actually managed to emote slightly so he finally had something to work with.

      I always loved how Martin Scorsese’s long time editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, said of Scorsese’s films “They aren’t violent until I’ve edited them”. But the editing requires good material to begin with, and that comes from the collaboration of the actor with the director to honor the writing. Editing takes that and creates the mood after it’s been committed to film. And if editing can’t hide bad acting, then the person is really bad.

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I should probably go to sleep, but I\’m and insomniac, so whatever, I\’m gonna post some more thoughts on Dinner Mate.

I loved this moment so much.

There are so many things going on here to unpack, but my favorite part is the physical contact and use of space and light.

Last week I mentioned that part of my issue with Jae-hyuk is his utter lack of respect for Do-hee\’s space, both literally and metaphorically. He forces himself into her space and as she has started to draw away from him he has begun to get violent, physically harming her. He also always does this in the dark or spaces with walls – in the conference room with the blinds drawn, in front of her house at night, in the shade of a bus stop.

Contrast that to this, where Hae-kyung and Do-hee are in the space that represents everything they\’ve shared so far – the kitchen. The lights are bright, the counters clean, the space wide open. He even makes sure to keep space between them when he sits.

But when Hae-kyung reaches out to wipe her tears it\’s just the lightest of touches, and it\’s in such a way that Do-hee can move away if she chooses. Every single movement from him is so delicate when he\’s in physical contact with her – the polar opposite of Jae-hyuk possessiveness. He\’s letting himself into her space, but he\’s making it clear that he will leave if that\’s what she wants. In fact, he does leave, as we see earlier in the scene when he tries to dry her hair and she refuses to let him. He steps away without argument and respects her space.

I love that this scene so perfectly mirrors what Hae-kyung said to Do-hee at the start of the episode over dinner. He says that he\’s not giving up on Do-hee, but he sees that she\’s not ready for a relationship with him either. I think if she had drawn the same line she did with Jae-hyuk he would have stepped back, but she didn\’t and so he lets her know that he\’s keeping that door open. He gives her the chance to say \”No, not ever\”. But I also appreciate that since he realized his feelings Hae-kyung has been up front and honest with Do-hee, which is again the opposite of Jae-hyuk, who we learned today lied to Do-hee about himself throughout their relationship.

And again, you can use metaphors of dark and light here to contrast the way the way they treat Do-hee, with Jae-hyuk constantly hiding the truth, while Hae-kyung constantly is completely honest with her. Jae-hyuk claims to love her, claims to know everything about her while Hae-kyung knew nothing about her, but at the same time he also knows all her secrets, and she, his. Jae-hyuk only ever keeps his secrets and never shares and yet expects Do-hee to come to him because that\’s what he wants.

This is the difference between Hae-kyung and Jae-hyuk. Hae-kyung has opened the door and now it\’s Do-hee\’s choice on how their relationship will proceed. Just like with this touch – he is offering comfort, but he\’s not demanding she accept it. So when she leans into him and lets him comfort her it\’s just…so perfect.

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    What a great write up! I dropped this show some episodes ago, and am now only following through recaps and the fanwall, so posts like yours are especially useful to understand what’s happening. In the earlier episodes I watched, I didn’t get the sense that the show was sophisticated enough to be engaging with the sort of light/dark metaphors as you describe (and partly why I dropped it – it wasn’t fun or clever enough, and did not seem to want to tread outside the boundaries of a traditional rom-com), but it’s good to know it’s gone in this direction!

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      I waited and binged the first six episodes, and I think that made a huge difference to how I see the show. It definitely is a pretty basic premise, and if you had asked me eight weeks ago which of the three food dramas in this cycle I’d skip, this would have been my first response. But it’s a lot more subtle than it appears – Do-hee isn’t some sobbing mess, and neither lead has been manipulated by their exes so far, which is very refreshing. I never expected it to play with these elements so well, and figured it would stick to food metaphors, which it hasn’t really done beyond Hae-kyung’s patients.

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    You describe perfectly the differences between HK and JH. Their contrast is so evident, and DoHee can see it, but I can understand she’s confused and hurt.

    And I love the use of light in this show. As you mentioned it’s always warm when DoHee and Haekyung are together.

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      I think it’s not that she isn’t aware that JH is bad – it’s that the depth of his awfulness has now been revealed and it has tainted all her memories of him. He basically took away her ability to trust in relationships, which is probably the shittiest thing a person can do.

      Also, how the hell did he think that he could get away with so many lies? Like, she was gonna find out eventually even if they got back together. And then what? I swear JH lives in some fairytale world where all his sins are instantly forgiven. He’s such an entitled asshat I can’t even.

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        Well, pathological liars do. They believe their own lies.
        I totally get DoHee. She had a relationship, it was good, it ended badly, but she managed to cope with it and even have good memories (she still goes eating to the places she and JH were together), she’s learned from her past but she’s also moved on.
        But now she finds out that JH broke up with her for no reason (at least not to her) but her whole relationship was based on a lie and that he was sort of “ashamed” of a poor girlfriend. That even hurts me. I mean, when they were together, they went to cheap places because they were students and couldn’t afford even to pay 1 dollar more to get cheese in their fried pork.
        I totally get she’s shaken and doesn’t know what to do.
        And even HK is a very reliable man, even so, it’s not about who HK is, but how Dohee feels. And here it is were we see, as you point out, the difference between the two men, as HK would never impose himself on her and would never make her feel uncomfortable (which is what JH does, you could see every time on her face).

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          This is true – I used to live with a pathological liar and the damage she did…man there are some things it took me the better part of a decade to recover from, because she used her lies to hurt everyone around her. Ugh. I hate even thinking of her.

          I don’t know what I would do if I were Do-hee. I do love that this is the first time that we really see Do-hee doubt herself. She may have been broken up by the two breakups, but she never let those keep her down. But this has the possibility of long term damage to her. I guess it’s a good thing she’s got a renowned psychiatrist hanging around her, huh?

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