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[2007] MÙA XUÂN ĐẠT TỬ - Dal Ja's Spring - Chae Rim, Lee Min Ki

[Drama Review] Dal Ja’s Spring: Mùa xuân quanh ta


Nếu “cành phượng vĩ em cầm là tuổi tôi 18,” “mãi mãi tuổi 20” là khát vọng duy trì nhiệt huyết tuổi trẻ, thì tuổi 30 có nghĩa là gì? Vì sắp ra trường nên gần đây mình đang lên một kế hoạch “đại nhảy vọt” cho tương lai, câu hỏi này bắt đầu làm phiền mình: mình sẽ là ai sau 10 năm tới, ở tuổi 33?

Trong tất cả các phim Hàn đã xem, Dal Ja’s Spring có ý nghĩa đặc biệt nhất với mình, đặc biệt tới nỗi đã thử hai ba năm rồi mà vẫn không thể viết gì về nó (lần nào bắt đầu viết cũng kết thúc với mình xem lại phim và mê man đi tìm ảnh Lee Min Ki về làm wallpaper). Nửa cẩm nang sống, nửa chuyện cổ tích để đầu giường, mùa xuân của Dal Ja vừa là mùa xuân của riêng vừa là mùa xuân của chung. Riêng vì cá nhân mình cảm thông sâu sắc với các nhân vật trong phim: những hình mẫu phụ nữ hiện đại mạnh mẽ, tháo vát nhưng không mất đi trái tim nhạy cảm, nữ tính ở bất cứ độ tuổi nào. Nhưng nói rộng ra hơn, chắc là tất cả chúng ta, bất kể là ai, đều có thể liên hệ với cái thế giới chi tiết muôn màu mà bộ phim mở ra, với những đề tài rất chung như thành kiến xã hội với người phụ nữ li dị/chưa chồng tuổi ngoài 30, bài toán hôn nhân với nghiệm số tình yêu-vật chất-địa vị, áp lực trách nhiệm mà người đàn ông phải chịu trong xã hội, và tất nhiên là hành trình đi tìm bản thân trong tất cả những bộn bề khó khăn đó của cuộc sống.

Nhân vật chính, Oh Dal Ja (Chae Rim), có nhan sắc trung bình, gia cảnh trung bình, khả năng làm việc cũng trung bình nốt. So với những người là cái tâm của vũ trụ thì Dal Ja chỉ là một cô gái vô danh chuyên đứng ven đường nhìn thế sự dân tình. Dal Ja lăn lóc qua tuổi 20 trầy da tróc vảy, nhưng cũng học được kha khá vốn sống, leo lên được chức quản lý sản phẩm cho một kênh bán hàng qua truyền hình, được đồng nghiệp yêu mến, cấp dưới gọi sunbae. Có sự nghiệp, có nhà, có xe, thứ duy nhất Dal Ja chưa có là một mảnh tình vắt vai. Trong tiếng ca cẩm của bà và mẹ và hồi chuông tuổi già cảnh tỉnh, Dal Ja mơ mộng yêu thầm anh bạn đồng nghiệp Shin Sae Do (Gong Hyung Jin), hoàn toàn không biết anh ta là play boy. Sau đó cô gặp một chàng trai bí ẩn nhỏ hơn mình 6 tuổi –Kang Tae Bong (Lee Min Ki)– và một giám đốc chững chạc giàu có. Liệu Dal Ja sẽ muốn xây túp lều lí tưởng cùng chàng trai trẻ không sự nghiệp hay mua bảo hiểm với cái thẻ tín dụng vàng của anh giám đốc?

Tiny đã nhanh chóng quẳng phim này vào một xó sau khi đọc giới thiệu trên Dramawiki. Câu chuyện nàng Cinderella “lỡ thì” vượt khó vươn lên và cuối cùng gặp bạch mã hoàng tử, cộng với công thức tình chị em đã được khai thác không còn gì cho hậu thế sau phim hit My Name is Kim Sam Soon rồi còn gì. Chae Rim đã đóng quá nhiều phim nên sự hâm mộ của Tiny gần như bão hòa, còn Lee Min Ki là ai mình hoàn toàn không biết. Nói chung là không có lí do gì để xem phim ngoài…quá rảnh.

Vậy mà sang 2009, chỉ xem hai tập đầu tiên, Tiny biết mình đang xem một cái gì đó rất KHÁC, rất hiếm trong dòng rom-com Hàn. Ngay khi bạn tưởng mình biết chính xác câu chuyện sẽ tiếp diễn như thế nào thì nó lại rẽ sang một hướng khác. Hầu hết các tình huống có vẻ như đã từng gặp ở đâu đó rồi, nhưng tổng thể phim hoàn toàn độc nhất, như chúng ta sống những cuộc đời na ná nhau nhưng ai cũng có cá tính riêng vậy. Bạn nhanh chóng nhận ra Dal Ja’s Spring không phải là câu chuyện ngôn tình, cũng không phải là phim công sở lòng vòng. Tham vọng của nó cao hơn: đưa ra một case study về đời sống tình cảm của người phụ nữ 30, với tất cả những khía cạnh và hệ quả của sự nghiệp, tình yêu và hôn nhân trong bối cảnh xã hội hiện đại.

Một đề tài Dal Ja’s Spring theo đuổi mà Tiny chưa thấy làm hay hơn ở đâu khác là người phụ nữ nơi công sở. Bằng “công sở” mình không nói đến những đoạn buôn dưa nói chuyện phiếm thường trong phim Hàn, hay những cuộc ganh đua tráo bản kế hoạch/ xóa file trước giờ thuyết trình ngoạn mục trong một số office dramas như Queen of Reversals hay thậm chí Still, Marry Me. Công sở của Dal Ja là một nơi đầy ắp hành động và con người. Ta có cô Oh Dal Ja nhiệt tình có dư, hậu đậu có nhiều mà tháo vát thì vừa đủ. Chị sunbae Soon Ae một thời quan niệm sự nghiệp là trên hết với phụ nữ nhưng giờ tay bế tay bồng lo cho gia đình chồng. MC chương trình Wee Seon Joo (Lee Hye Young) là hot girl tự lập, nổi (tai) tiếng, rất chảnh, đã li dị, không tin vào hôn nhân gia đình. Anh đạo diễn Shin Sae Do play boy bưa bựa. Trưởng phòng Kang (Yang Hee Kyung) là “người đàn bà thép” không ai dám giỡn mặt vì tính kỉ luật và tinh thần trách nhiệm cao của bà.

Những con người này là bạn, là tình địch, là kẻ thù, là khắc tinh của nhau, nhưng khi đồng hồ tích tắc giờ lên sóng, những món sản phẩm đang chờ được chào bán thì họ là đồng nghiệp ở trên cùng một trận tuyến. Quan hệ đồng nghiệp được tả hết sức gần gũi, ấm áp mà không hề sến, ví dụ có Dal Ja liên tục nói xấu trưởng phòng Kang vì bị đì, nhưng vẫn nể phục tinh thần trách nhiệm của bà. Người phụ nữ nơi công sở quyến rũ bởi sự thông minh sắc sảo, bản lĩnh vững vàng và tác phong chuyên nghiệp. Mặc dù thỉnh thoảng có những câu thoại ca cẩm cả nắm về “lớp trẻ bây giờ,” những người phụ nữ đang đi làm ở tuổi 30 có quyền tự hào với chính mình khi xem phim. Trong bối cảnh tỉ lệ phụ nữ Châu Á tham gia lao động thấp hơn nam giới, 71% phụ nữ Hàn cảm thấy cơ hội thăng tiến của mình trễ hơn so với nam (nguồn), thu nhập của lao động nữ ở Việt Nam chỉ bằng khoảng 3/4 thu nhập của nam, số phụ nữ học lên cao học và nắm giữ các chức vụ lãnh đạo chỉ bằng một nửa nam giới (nguồn), Tiny hoan hô một bộ phim thật sự cổ vũ, đề cao người phụ nữ đời thường ở công sở như Dal Ja’s Spring.

Lại nói về nữ quyền, trong tập yêu thích nhất của Tiny, tựa là “Em không là superwoman thì cũng không sao,” cách nhìn của biên kịch Kang Eun Kyung về vai trò của phụ nữ trong xã hội được thể hiện rõ. Trong tập này, Dal Ja cực kì ngưỡng mộ Soon Ae và Seon Joo vì một người là trụ cột của gia đình còn một người đầy bản lĩnh trong công việc. Sau một ngày làm việc mệt mỏi, Dal Ja quay về chuẩn bị một bữa tiệc mừng sinh nhật cho Tae Bong. Tae Bong không cảm ơn mà chỉ ôm Dal Ja vào lòng và nói “Em không là superwoman thì cũng không sao, tôi yêu em chỉ vì em là em thôi.”

Hàng năm mình ghét nhất là ngày 8/3 và những ngày để tôn vinh phụ nữ nói chung. Tất nhiên việc tôn vinh phụ nữ, tôn vinh những người mẹ, người bà là tốt, cần thiết. Tuy nhiên khi mà những ngày này được dùng để truyền bá, áp đặt một tiêu chuẩn nhất định nào đó lên phụ nữ thì nó đồng thời tạo áp lực có thể tước đi của phụ nữ quyền tự do sống theo lựa chọn của riêng mình. Tại sao phụ nữ cần phải giỏi việc nước VÀ đảm luôn việc nhà? Còn những người không đảm việc nước, không giỏi việc nhà thì là đàn bà hư sao? Ai có tư cách để đánh giá về điều đó?

Đây chính là chỗ mà biên kịch Kang Eun Kyung bắt tay với bk Kim Do Woo của My Name is Kim Sam Soon, What’s Up, Fox? và Me Too, Flower: chấp nhận người phụ nữ như bản chất thật của họ. Nhân vật nữ trong phim của cô Kim không “giỏi việc nước, đảm việc nhà” như Dan Ah trong Family’s Honor, không phải là “nội tướng” cho chồng như Ji Ae trong Queen of Housewives, họ cũng không phải nàng Cinderella hiền thục đảm đang như Eun Sung trong Shining Inheritance. Tất cả những gì mà đàn ông, tạp chí thời trang và xã hội nói chung áp đặt vào hình tượng “người phụ nữ hoàn hảo”, thân hình mi-nhon, giỏi cắn răng hi sinh, dịu dàng, đảm đang blah blah, Kim Do Woo đá thẳng vào sọt rác.

Mặc dù có nhiều thứ diễn ra cùng một lúc, Dal Ja’s Spring không một phút nào quên đi đề tài chính: tình yêu. Tình yêu trong phim Tiny hoàn toàn không khuyến khích các chị em làm theo ở nhà: Dal Ja gặp một anh trai bao không rõ lí lịch ngoài đường và kí hợp đồng thuê trai một tháng, sau đó cho trai vào nhà ở chung luôn. Nhưng ngay cả khi câu chuyện được xây dựng với những tình huống khó tin ngoài đời, sự chân thành căn bản của tình yêu và những cảm xúc thăng hoa theo kèm không hề vì thế mà giảm đi. Chae Rim và Lee Min Ki có lẽ không có những ánh mắt đưa tình đốn ngã Tiny như cặp Park Jin Hee-Kim Bum trong Still, Marry Me, nhưng chàng ôm nàng cùng ngủ trưa cũng đủ làm mình say ngà ngà với men tình.

Một cảnh Tiny rất thích là lần đầu tiên Tae Bong xông vào phòng của Dal Ja, thuận theo lời dạy của các cụ: “lửa gần rơm lâu ngày cũng cháy.” “Tôi đếm đến ba, nếu em từ chối thì tôi sẽ đi ngay, còn không thì xem như em đã chấp thuận.” Tôi muốn em vì em quá đẹp, quá quyến rũ nhưng tôi sẽ tôn trọng em. Làm sao có thể đốt đuốc đi tìm một Tae Bong “mạnh mẽ” và quân tử như thế ngoài đời???

Theo đúng truyền thống của một rom-com, hành trình đi tìm chính bản thân đi song song với hành trình tìm kiếm tình yêu. Những cliches như hợp đồng tình yêu, nam nữ ở chung nhà chỉ là chất xúc tác thôi, còn những thứ quan trọng hơn diễn ra trong khoảng trống giữa các nhân vật. Như cái củ hành nhiều lớp, quan hệ của các nhân vật được xây dựng bằng việc lột bỏ khoảng cách và nới rộng tấm lòng. Dal Ja mơ về người đàn ông ga lăng thành đạt, nhưng cuối ngày cái cô cần chỉ là ai đó cùng cô đi giặt đồ, đi chợ chung. Seon Joo lạnh lùng với Sae Do và những người xung quanh, nhưng lúc bệnh thì chỉ cần một bát cháo nóng và ai đó ở bên cạnh. Những người phụ nữ 30 trong phim sống bằng cái đầu nhưng yêu bằng trái tim. Tìm kiếm bản thân cuối cùng trở thành tìm kiếm chính mình trong người khác, chính sự cảm thông và chấp nhận đó đã tạo nên một mùa xuân ấm áp.

Dal Ja, Se Do và Seon Joon từ từ trở thành bạn thân

Mặc dù phim hướng tới khán giả nữ, trong 6 tập cuối kịch bản cũng dành rất nhiều chỗ cho các nhân vật nam. Những lựa chọn mà họ phải đối mặt: theo đuổi ước mơ hay kiếm tiền, lo cho gia đình hay phát triển sự nghiệp, làm bạn nhận ra cánh đàn ông cũng bị chi phối bởi nhiều thứ nằm ngoài sự kiểm soát của họ, họ cũng loay hoay cân bằng bài toán tình yêu, trách nhiệm và kì vọng của xã hội như phụ nữ thôi. Tae Bong tạm gác bỏ giấc mơ làm đầu bếp để quay về chức luật sư danh giá lương tháng bạc triệu, tất nhiên không theo ý anh ta nhưng rất hợp ý má mì và gia đình vợ tương lai. Se Do bỏ cơ hội đi tu nghiệp trong mơ để lo cho mẹ con Seon Jeon. Những bài toán rất đời này làm ta không khỏi thông cảm với những người đàn ông trong phim và tự trách tại sao đôi khi phụ nữ lại tham lam mê vật chất như thế.

Biên kịch Kang Eun Kyung không xa lạ gì với thành công. Cô có những phim hit khá quen thuộc với khán giả Việt Nam như Hotelier (Khách Sạn, 2001) và Glass Slippers (Giày Thủy Tinh, 2002). Cả hai phim này đều có những nhân vật nữ mạnh mẽ đáng yêu, nhưng vẫn chưa thoát khỏi công thức lọ lem + makjang +melodrama trường phái 90s đầu 2000s. Dal Ja’s Spring là đỉnh cao sáng tạo của cô. Những mẩu chuyện hài hước ấm áp xung quanh các nhân vật đầy cá tính, cộng với những câu hỏi rất đời còn đọng mãi trong mình sau khi xem phim, Dal Ja’s Spring mãi mãi là một rom-com kinh điển trong sổ của Tiny. Khó.tìm.được.phim.hay.hơn.

Và Lee Min Ki! Bánh xe dự phòng chưa bao giờ là hàng hot cho tới khi Kang Tae Bong xuất hiện:


15 February 25, 2007January 23, 2016

Summary: Dal Ja’s Spring, Episode 1

by javabeans

So I’ve been writing these episode summaries for Dal Ja’s Spring on soompi — a site to which, if you are a kdrama fan and are yet unfamiliar, you must hie on over and acquaint yourself immediately. Since I wrote up recaps for many (though not all) episodes, I figured I’d post them here as well. Why let hours of perfectly useful procrastination go to waste, right?

 
Episode 1: “Things That Drive Her Crazy”

OH DAL JA (Chae Rim) is 32 going on 33, successful and competent in her career as a mid-level manager of a home shopping channel. She’s stumbled her way through her twenties, making mistakes left and right, and learning her lessons, it seems, a bit haphazardly.

Currently, she lives alone in a nice apartment and makes a decent living, but has never been in a serious relationship. On the cusp of turning 33 (Koreans consider themselves aged on New Year’s Day, rather than on their birthday, which is why they measure seniority by birth year but not so much actual date of birth), Dal Ja is the dreaded old maid of modern Korean society — capable, attractive, and self-sufficient, but still seen as somehow inadequate because she is without boyfriend or husband. Kind of like Bridget Jones, except without all the alcohol, dating, and sex to take the edge off spinsterhood.

 
That is, until she finally works up the courage to ask out the co-worker she’s been pining over since her first day on the job eight years ago: Shin Sae Do, a PD (producer-director) at the network. Blind to his playboy tendencies, Dal Ja blissfully indulges in her first romance, despite missing crucial signs that their relationship is doomed — signs that anyone else with the least bit of dating experience would recognize off the bat.

Needless to say, it isn’t very long before Dal Ja’s romance comes crashing down around her when Sae Do decides their other co-worker, the glamorous show host Wee Seon Joo, is more his type. He breaks up with her coolly, and Dal Ja, needing to save face, determines to play off her rejection lightly. Unfortunately, she runs into Sae Do and his date in a hotel bar, and her pride and sense of self-preservation force Dal Ja to insist she’s there to meet her date as well.

At a loss for a readily available male to phone to come to her rescue, she settles for calling someone she met earlier that day: Kang Tae Bong (Lee Minki). He’d given her his card earlier when he accidentally collided into her in the street and broke her cell phone, and as Dal Ja is desperate to save face with her co-workers, she calls Tae Bong to be her fake boyfriend for the evening, in exchange for an exorbitant fee.

Tae Bong arrives at the hotel bar, and Dal Ja presents her handsome young “boyfriend” to Sae Do and Seon Joo. One awkward elevator ride later, she finds herself in a hotel room with her on-call boyfriend, crying into a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

The next day, Dal Ja’s mortified to find that rumors of her dumping by Sae Do have been greatly exaggerated. Worse, they’ve spread throughout the office, and she’s affronted at becoming an object of pity. Sae Do and Seon Joo tell the co-workers that Dal Ja has nothing to worry about, what with her cute younger boyfriend and all. Caught in her lie, Dal Ja is at a loss to respond to her curious co-workers. But out of nowhere, Kang Tae Bong arrives, announcing himself as her boyfriend, leaving Dal Ja mystified and frustrated as to just what the hell is going on….

(end of episode 1…)

6 February 26, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 2

by javabeans

Episode 2: “Can Love Be A Business Transaction?”

We pick up where we left off… with Dal Ja wondering why Kang Tae Bong is here and why he’s passing himself off to her co-workers as her boyfriend…

Dal Ja doesn’t remember what happended the night before, so Tae Bong fills in the blanks. Far from taking advantage of her (which is the conclusion Dal Ja immediately jumps to, as she’s wont to do), Tae Bong spent the night sitting in the hotel room with Dal Ja while she drowned her humiliations in an assortment of liquors from the mini-bar.

Humiliated and resentful, Drunk Dal Ja had decided she would take her revenge upon Sae Do for so coldly dumping her and making her a joke at the office. She figured she would start by contracting Tae Bong as her boyfriend for a month, for a steep fee (equivalent to $3,000), at 3 hours per day for 30 days. Basic physical contact, such as hand-holding and the like, will be included in the contract price, with deeper contact to be made at $20 per incident. Should either side develop genuine feelings for the other, the contract immediately becomes void.

Gradually recalling these facts, Dal Ja’s horrified at the idea, and insists the contract is void. She was drunk; it’s invalid. But Tae Bong stands his ground, saying a contract is a contract, and he checked with her five times before agreeing. Moreover, she already paid him his fee via internet banking transfer, and he insisted that the fee was nonrefundable, which she also agreed to five times. Tae Bong tells her she can make use of his services for the month, or give up the money.

She goes to a lawyer, intent on litigating back her $3,000. (Observant viewers, note the lawyer’s name: Jang Dong Gun, which is a bit of an inside joke. Jang Dong Gun was Chae Rim’s love interest in her breakout role in the drama All About Eve, one of the earlier Hallyu/Korean Wave hit dramas.)

The lawyer assures her he’ll get back her money — but at a fee of $3,000. Either way, Dal Ja’s screwed.

Since she’s already spent the money, Dal Ja decides to make use of Tae Bong’s services to get her revenge on Sae Do. Dal Ja’s “unni” and senior co-worker, Go Soon Ae, insists Dal Ja’s being childish and stupid, but Dal Ja’s determined. Especially seeing Sae Do around the office, pretending nothing’s wrong and flaunting his relationship with Seon Joo. She’ll get him to fall for her, then humiliate him in front of everyone, like he did to her.

Dal Ja enlists Tae Bong to come to her company New Year’s Eve dinner, going so far as to deck him out in expensive designer clothes and providing him with a script as to his background and profile, so as to impress everyone. However, Tae Bong sells the clothes and arrives dressed casually, and deviates from the planned script. Dal Ja angrily takes him aside and berates him for disrespecting her. This meant a lot to her, and he just made her look a fool in front of everyone.

Tae Bong wonders if Dal Ja is so completely lacking in self-confidence that she she feels she needs a boyfriend with a fancy job or a foreign car to have worth. Furthermore, if she’s going to these lengths to exact revenge on Sae Do, she should examine if she even loved him: “If you didn’t love him, you don’t need revenge. And if you did love him, then you wouldn’t be thinking of things like revenge.”

To which Dal Ja fires back: “Do you think this is because of love? It’s not because of love. It’s because of my pride. If it really was love… then I wouldn’t for a moment have felt this bad or my pride so trampled. You might wonder what’s so great about pride, but for me? For me, pride is important. Because I’ve come this far holding onto one thing, and that’s my pride. To be at this age without a man, I’ve endured stubbornly holding onto my pride.”

Dal Ja and her co-workers are interrupted by an urgent call into the office on a emergency. They go into overdrive, trying to pull off their New Year’s Eve live broadcast successfully. In the chaos, Dal Ja is pleasantly surprised when Sae Do and Seon Joo both come to her aid, and Dal Ja appreciates that despite what may have transpired, they are her teammates.

After the broadcast, Sae Do approaches and tries to reinitiate things with Dal Ja. This is the moment she’s been waiting for — the moment of vindication, where she can reject him cruelly and laugh. But somehow, after cooperating successfully in the midst of crisis, the sting has gone out of her feelings, and she instead extends an olive branch. They clearly weren’t cut out to be lovers, so why not try being good friends?

When Kang Tae Bong repeatedly calls, she ignores him, prompting him to find her in person. She tells him she’s decided to stop with the revenge nonsense, and won’t be needing his services anymore. Tae Bong’s confused, and she explains that she’s just aged another year. She’ll try doing the mature thing, and consider this an expensive lesson learned.

Perhaps feeling both chastened at Dal Ja’s earlier outburst and burgeoning interest, Tae Bong counters, and says this is the perfect time for Dal Ja to make use of his services. She can practice dating with him, and use up the month on their contract.

Just then, mysterious men reappear and give chase, prompting Tae Bong and Dal Ja to flee. They start running through the streets, ducking for cover to escape capture.

Tae Bong offers little explanation, only that they are troublesome debt collectors. As Dal Ja and Tae Bong evade the men, they find themselves enjoying the running, like energetic, carefree teenagers.

As Dal Ja and Tae Bong stop in an alley to catch their breath, Dal Ja is caught off-guard by her own wild imagination…

Tae Bong shrewdly picks up on Dal Ja’s weird vibe, and teases her about her fantasy. If she imagined a scenario involving kissing him, he could indulge her fantasy in a real-life example instead.

Dal Ja denies it, and as he teasingly presses on, they’re interrupted…

(end of episode 2…)

12 February 26, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 3

by javabeans

Episode 3: “A Romantic Inquiry Into a Fateful Encounter”

Dal Ja and Tae Bong have just escaped from strange men who are chasing Tae Bong for an undisclosed reason. Stopped in an alley to catch their breaths, Tae Bong teases Dal Ja about giving her a free practice kissing session when a stranger interrupts, believing Tae Bong to be accosting Dal Ja…

With his perfect timing and dashing looks, Dal Ja wonders if this could be destiny working to bring them together. She doesn’t correct the stranger’s assumption that Tae Bong is bothering her, and gratefully accepts his “help” in brushing off Tae Bong’s unwanted advances.

However, minutes later, when her Man of Destiny returns to give her his card and sees her talking with Tae Bong, he rescinds his offer — clearly Dal Ja didn’t need his help after all. Dal Ja’s embarrassed and chagrined to have lost out on this opportunity.

Dal Ja tells Soon Ae (her unni co-worker) about her Man of Destiny and his perfect qualifications. He has a fancy car, good looks, and is capable and obviously well employed. She bemoans her lost chance, but Go Soon Ae contradicts her. What good are qualifications over natural feelings and impulses? People would be a lot happier if they weren’t always measuring the other person’s qualities and adding up their skills. The brain is complicated; the body is simple. But she figures Dal Ja wouldn’t know what she’s saying, since she’s never made a relationship decision based on sexual attraction. Dal Ja uncomfortably remembers her fantasy about Tae Bong, while their conversation is overheard with a mix of curiosity and shock.

Meanwhile, Sae Do (Dal Ja’s playboy ex) gets dumped by Seon Joo, who’s grown bored. It’s a shock to his ego but surprisingly, to his heart as well, as he’s developed feelings for her. But Seon Joo coolly moves on, rejecting his appeals to continue dating.

He mopes to Dal Ja, who awkwardly tries to comfort him, only to be seen in yet another compromising position by none other than her Man of Destiny, aka Eom Ki Joong. This is getting to be an embarrassing pattern.

Eom Ki Joong is a newly arrived brand representative for the home shopping channel. Dal Ja is nervous working around him — she fears that whatever interest he may have had in her has been crushed because he’s got the wrong idea about her. Her fears are right on, as Eom Ki Joong treats her with disdain and coldness. He remarks that she’s got quite a lot of men around her, which Dal Ja attempts to refute. But it looks like that ship has sailed.

Still meeting with Tae Bong for relationship advice, Dal Ja gets a few tips on how to behave. Tae Bong doesn’t think Eom Ki Joong is very interested in her, but if she wants to give it a shot, Dal Ja should try a little harder. She should also restrain from believing in things like Prince Charmings and destiny. “There’s no such thing as a man of destiny in this world.”

At a company launch event showcasing a new line of lingerie, Dal Ja and Go Soon Ae look on as she pines for Eom Ki Joong. Dal Ja works up her courage to approach him…

But unfortunately for her, Sae Do’s been drowning his sorrows in cocktails.

Embarrassed and smelly, Dal Ja hides out in the bathroom, with only a flimsy slip to change into while she waits for Tae Bong to bring her a change of clothing.

Tae Bong hurries over, but is intercepted by the same men who were pursuing him in Episode 2. He’s taken by force…

After freezing all night waiting in the bathroom, Dal Ja realizes what Tae Bong had told her is right: “There’s no such thing as a Man of Destiny. There’s no Prince Charming who’ll run to rescue me. I can only count on myself.”

So rather than waiting, she decides to walk out, in her slip and all.

As she leaves, she stumbles into Eom Ki Joong. She apologizes for not acting professionally and staying to supervise the event, having locked herself in a bathroom stall all night. She’s about to walk away when he stops her and offers her his coat. He also asks her out to dinner sometime. And while it should warm the hackles of her romantic heart, she wonders why she isn’t more touched by the gesture, although she is thankful for his help.

Tae Bong finds a way to escape his captors and rushes to find Dal Ja, only to arrive too late; the event has closed for the night.

But he manages to find Dal Ja at the subway station, where he gives her the clothes he’d bought.

And leaves with a wave.

13 February 26, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 4

by javabeans

Episode 4: “There Was a Prince… But…”

Dal Ja continues meeting Tae Bong, who helps her practice for her upcoming date with her Man of Destiny.

Although Dal Ja had previously decided against things like destiny, Eom Ki Joong did swoop to her aid twice — once when he thought she was being harassed by Tae Bong, and the other when he lent her his coat when she was freezing in the slip she had to wear after Sae Do spewed cocktails all over her at the company launch.

So Dal Ja goes on her fancy date with Eom Ki Joong, and in her head calculates all the things about him she likes. However, she finds the conversation boring as he rambles on about the qualities of fine wines. She’s swayed at the idea of being at the best table with the best man in the restaurant, but to be honest, she isn’t really enjoying herself…

Dal Ja’s office is disrupted when an angry young woman arrives, slaps Dal Ja in front of her co-workers, and demands that Dal Ja be fired for stealing her man. When the situation is sorted out, it turns out the woman is a slightly unhinged ex of Sae Do, who assumes he broke up with her for Dal Ja. Now she’s come to win Sae Do back, against his wishes.

However, even though it’s all a misunderstanding, Eom Ki Joong witnesses the scene and gets the wrong idea that Dal Ja is a troublemaker and possible homewrecker.

Tae Bong agrees that Eom Ki Joong must have gotten the wrong idea, and advises her to be as honest with Eom Ki Joong as she is with Tae Bong. She admits she’s afraid of rejection.

Sae Do is still trying to win over Seon Joo, but he catches her at a bad time, and she rejects him more harshly than she intended.

Dejected at the downward turn both their love lives have taken, Dal Ja and Sae Do mope together.

Dal Ja and Sae Do go out drinking together, where Sae Do pushes Dal Ja into talking to Eom Ki Joong on the phone. Sae Do thinks Dal Ja’s always waiting for the guy to make the first move — in this day and age, she should go after what she wants.

Dal Ja, remembering Tae Bong’s advice and being more than slightly drunk, screws up her courage and tells Eom Ki Joong the truth. He’s got the wrong idea about her, and she’s not the kind of person he thinks. She’s interested in him, and would like to keep meeting him in the future.’

Taking Eom Ki Joong’s silence for rejection, she (drunkenly) asserts her pride and tells him to forget it. Still, her actions, though startling, have piqued Eom Ki Joong’s interest…

The next morning, Dal Ja awakens in her apartment, and is horrified to find herself in bed with not just one, but two men. Sae Do’s passed out next to her, with Tae Bong on the other side.

Jumping to conclusions (as she’s been known to do), Dal Ja freaks out, managing to freak out Sae Do as well, as both of them demand to know why the hell they’re all in bed together. Tae Bong can only look on tiredly. He may be six years younger than both of them, but he’s got the well-worn maturity of a resigned and exhausted parent.

After they calm down, Tae Bong explains that they called him the night before, after drinking. Dal Ja happily greets Tae Bong as her life’s “spare tire,” the one who steps in when a hole punctures her life. And because all compliments must come with backhanded qualifiers, both Dal Ja and Sae Do follow that by proceeding to get sick all over Tae Bong’s pants.

So, Tae Bong dragged both of them to Dal Ja’s place, where they spent the night.

Just then, a visitor appears at Dal Ja’s door: Eom Ki Joong. Count on Dal Ja to fix one misunderstanding only to have another one pop up, doubly bad as the first. But before anyone can even process the heaping bowl of awkward that this situation is, they’re greeted with one more development: the arrival of Dal Ja’s mother and grandmother. The women are so surprised at seeing three men in Dal Ja’s apartment first thing in the morning that they naturally assume they’ve stumbled into the wrong door.

The three men introduce themselves to her family. Sae Do is Dal Ja’s colleague, Eom Ki Joong met her through business, and Tae Bong is her “spare tire.”

Somehow, Dal Ja clears her apartment, and as Grandma and Mom walk away, they wonder which one Dal Ja’s dating. Mom likes the looks of that well-dressed and dashing Eom Ki Joong, but Grandma’s all about the spare tire. Poor Sae Do gets no love, but then again, he’s Sae Do.

At work, another visitor appears asking for Oh Dal Ja. Having been through a similar situation just days before, Dal Ja warily asks if the well-dressed and soft-spoken woman is here about Sae Do, ready to nip this misunderstanding in the bud.

But no, the woman is here to beg Dal Ja not to steal away her husband. She kneels and pleads Dal Ja to leave her husband alone: She’s Eom Ki Joong’s wife.

As the rest of her co-workers gasp in shock, Dal Ja dazedly wonders that she can’t even be shocked at such revelations anymore…

12 March 1, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 5

by javabeans

Episode 5: “Her Pose in Dealing With an Unsuitable Relationship”

Dal Ja is stunned at meeting Eom Ki Joong’s wife (to be known simply as Ms. Ji, or as I like to call her, Crazy Wife. Because of all the crazy.).

While waiting for Ms. Ji to speak, Dal Ja nervously imagines the violent reaction surely to come her way. Surprisingly, though, Ms. Ji remains quiet and docile.

Elegant and soft-spoken, Ms. Ji implores Dal Ja not to steal away her husband. She loves her husband very much, and doesn’t know what she would do without him. Dal Ja feels horrible and apologizes, and tells Ms. Ji that she didn’t know Eom Ki Joong was married. (Dal Ja specifically recalled that he didn’t wear a wedding ring, and he passed himself off as a single man.)

Ms. Ji clarifies that she and her husband have been separated for two years, but she still loves him and wants him back. Dal Ja sincerely apologizes again. But this time, Ms. Ji cracks her demure facade for a moment when she tells Dal Ja coldly that she should’ve known better. But before Dal Ja can react to this Jekyll/Hyde switch, Ms. Ji switches back to her innocent face, and she leaves the office quietly, apologizing to Dal Ja’s co-workers for disrupting their workday.

Upset at being made the Other Woman, Dal Ja imagines how she’ll angrily tell off Eom Ki Joong. How dare he cheat on his wife? How dare he make her into the bad one in this situation? How could he not tell her he’s still married?

But, when they meet, Dal Ja finds herself without her crucial weapon.

Eom Ki Joong doesn’t give her a chance to speak as he barrels through and tells her he’s leaving on business for a few days. He’ll call her when he returns, and leaves the expensive dinner and his driver at her service. Caught off-guard, Dal Ja doesn’t have a chance to give him a piece of her mind. Moreover, looking at the gifts he’s left her with, she’s weak to their powers…

She asks Tae Bong for advice, torn between her principles and her feelings for Eom Ki Joong. She’s loath to give up her Man of Destiny, and doesn’t know how she’ll respond to him when he’s back from his business trip.

Tae Bong jokes it off, trying to cheer her up with a funny little chicken-arms dance. He doesn’t have a magic answer for her situation, but he tells her not to worry too much about it.

Soon Ae is strictly against Dal Ja dating a married man, while Sae Do doesn’t see what the big deal is. The two argue back and forth: Soon Ae insists that no matter if they’re separated, in the eyes of the law, he’s still married. Dal Ja should give it up. But Sae Do argues that it’s just a technicality. If she really likes him, and feels he’s her destiny, Dal Ja shouldn’t give up based on that.

Dal Ja gets prank phone calls all night from a mysterious caller, whom we see is Ms. Ji. The calls continue all night, leaving Dal Ja tired and worn out by morning.

Sae Do didn’t sleep either, worrying about Seon Joo, who seems to be in some financial troubles.

Seon Joo’s out sick, so Dal Ja and Sae Do visit her at home. They find her collapsed on the bathroom floor, and rush to help her. Seon Joo awakens to assure them that she’s just a little sick, but Dal Ja freezes when she imagines herself in Seon Joo’s place.

Dal Ja cooks porridge for the sick Seon Joo, while Tae Bong and Sae Do assist. (Sae Do looks on in anxiety as Seon Joo eats, threatening Dal Ja that it had better be good. Sae Do’s cute in his puppy-ish devotion to Seon Joo, despite her outward coldness to him.)

Furthermore, although Seon Joo acts aloof, she does appreciate the company, and invents an excuse for Sae Do to stay with her. He’s only too happy to oblige.

Upon leaving, Dal Ja finds her car has a flat tire. Although Tae Bong suspects someone may have done it purposely, Dal Ja waves it off, saying her car’s old and junky.

Tae Bong picks up on Dal Ja’s strange mood, and she explains that she’d imagined herself in Seon Joo’s place, collapsed on the floor. At her age, she’s experienced the Bridget Jones-like fear of being alone in such situations, and fears winding up lonely and unloved.

Tae Bong assures her she’s not alone, and despite her insecurities, she is desirable. He also tells her it doesn’t suit her to be going out with a married man, so she shouldn’t do it. He’s simultaneously her spare tire, her source of comfort, and her moral compass. Someone tell me where they sell Tae Bongs. I’ll take two.

Eom Ki Joong returns from his business trip, and offers her an expensive gift: a luxury watch. Dal Ja expresses her reluctance to let go of a man like him, but she can’t accept. She can’t go on with their relationship, and hands back the watch. Accepting one present opens the door for more presents, and before long she’ll be going against her own values.

Little does Dal Ja know that they’re being followed and watched by Ms. Ji, heretoafter to be known as Crazy Wife. She somehow manages to be both menacing and entertainingly off-kilter. You can’t hate someone that off her rocker.

Tae Bong sees Crazy Wife at Dal Ja’s apartment complex with a can of spray paint, and finds Dal Ja’s car tires (which he’d fixed) once again flattened. But before he can investigate, he’s caught by the strange men again.

At work the next day, Dal Ja arrives to a huge commotion, with news reporters and firemen outside her office building. Walking along the ledge of the rooftop is Crazy Wife.

Dal Ja pleads for the Wife to come down, alarmed and feeling responsible. Crazy Wife tells her she loves her husband; she’s never not loved him. She can’t lose him…

Although Dal Ja insists that she and Eom Ki Joong broke things off, and that they decided not to pursue a relationship, Crazy Wife seems beyond reach and sways…

13 March 4, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 6

by javabeans

Episode 6: “Show Must Go On!”

On the rooftop, Crazy Wife walks along the edge, to the alarm of bystanders, firemen, office workers, everyone. Dal Ja pleads with her to calm down — she’ll do anything Crazy Wife wants her to do. If she wants her to quit her job, she’ll quit. Dal Ja and Eom Ki Joong have already decided not to date, but Dal Ja apologizes profusely anyway.

Crazy Wife starts to fall, and Dal Ja lunges toward her…

And it’s fairly clear Crazy Wife was bluffing, because who commits suicide off a building rooftop by falling backward toward the building?

Unfortunately, Dal Ja has tripped, and Crazy Wife falls on TOP of her…

Ouuuuuuch.

Meanwhile, Tae Bong, having been caught by the pimped-out old guy in the last episode, awakes to find himself handcuffed inside an office (kinky!) (if only).

Dal Ja is discharged from the hospital with neck and rib injuries, and goes to see the Wife, who’s busy faking her own bodily ailments (come on, she landed on TOP of Dal Ja, ergo she had cushioning to save her from her transparent attempt at attention-grabbing — er, sorry, her aborted suicide). But because Dal Ja is a good person, she feels appropriately guilty and repentant.

Back in the office, everyone’s curious as to what will become of Dal Ja. She’s affected the image of the company, whose client base is mainly middle-aged married women who value marriage and are angry at finding out the company employs such an immoral and wanton female. Imagine a cadre of delicately affronted middle-aged hypocrites with pitchforks chanting for the head of one witch to satisfy their bloodlust, and that’s the situation Dal Ja finds herself in. Figuratively, of course.


(HOMEWRECKER!)

 
On top of that, Dal Ja’s sunbae, Soon Ae, is also upset with Dal Ja. Sae Do defends Dal Ja — she’d already decided to stop seeing Eom Ki Joong, and this isn’t her fault. But Soon Ae blames Dal Ja for being stupid enough to start with a married man, which is why she’s in this situation now. She tells Dal Ja she’s sorry, but she’s married and has a kid; she’s got to be on the side of the marrieds here.

At Dal Ja’s apartment, Dal Ja’s mother stops by to see the obscene graffiti sprayed on her door by Crazy Wife last episode. It reads, “Die, bitch! How dare you steal my husband?!” etc. Dal Ja’s mother gets to work scrubbing the paint off the door.

A disciplinary committee descends upon Dal Ja’s department to determine the consequences of the incident. Appropriately, they are all black-suited, stern-faced, judgmental middle-aged men.

They demand that Dal Ja “take responsibility” for the event, whatever that means. Dal Ja can only sit there and take the scolding, unable to beg for forgiveness or defend herself.

But to everyone’s shock, Seon Joo comes to Dal Ja’s defense. She lays down the gauntlet: If they fire Dal Ja, she’ll terminate her contract with the company. Her program and the products she endorses are always among their best sellers, and that’s because Seon Joo is able to sell them with full confidence, because she trusts Dal Ja. If they were to remove Dal Ja, she will no longer have faith in their ability to choose sound products. It’s kind of an awesome defense — cool and business-like, with nary a weak “female” emotion in sight.

In any case, they’ll lay down their decision by the end of the week. Outside, Dal Ja thanks Seon Joo for standing up for her, but Seon Joo snaps back at Dal Ja: How could she just sit there and take that from those men? Why doesn’t she assert herself, defend her position, and do more? Does she care so little about her job? She stood up for her because she thought Dal Ja was a pro.

Dal Ja sees Seon Joo’s point, but is reluctant to give up her last bit of dignity by begging.

Tae Bong is visited by Grandfather Pimp, aka simply his grandfather, who is not a pimp but merely armed with too much money and bad taste. It turns out Tae Bong is running from his grandfather because his family is insisting he work under them, and Tae Bong refuses; he’ll live his life his own way.

Grandpa gets upset and rails at Tae Bong, but is interrupted by the appearance of Tae Bong’s mother, a woman who is so shrill and pampered it’s a wonder she comes off more amusingly quirky than annoying. Really, she’s funny. And sad.

Tae Bong sits down to a chilly dinner with his mother, grandfather, and father (with whom he has some unresolved friction).

That night, Dal Ja’s mother asks if anything’s troubling Dal Ja at work, but Dal Ja lies and says everything’s fine and wonders what her mother is doing there. Her mother says there was some kiddie graffiti on her door, so she cleaned it up, deliberately avoiding telling Dal Ja what the graffiti said.

Sae Do goes to Eom Ki Joong’s place to drink, while Seon Joo goes to Dal Ja’s.

Both parties end up at a club, where Dal Ja figures out that they’d planned it to get Dal Ja and Ki Joong together. They wanted Dal Ja and Ki Joong to talk things out and see where they stand, in light of recent Crazy Wife-related events. But in any case, they take advantage of the opportunity to let loose a little and have some fun bonding moments on the dance floor.

Tae Bong sneaks out of his parents’ home, but is caught by his grandfather. Tae Bong insists he will live his own life, and surprisingly, rather than insisting he stay, his grandfather lets him go.

At the office, Dal Ja runs into a pissed-off Crazy Wife, who slaps her and says that she knows she’s still seeing Ki Joong. Dal Ja had said she would quit; what does she think she’s doing? Crazy Wife threatens her, saying that the next time she meets Ki Joong, they both die, and stalks off.

Dal Ja runs into Tae Bong, who mentions the graffiti on her door. Dal Ja’s horrified to realize that her mother must have seen those words, and is ashamed of how she must have hurt her hard-working mother…

…and goes to see Crazy Wife in the hospital. But this time, she is not meek and subservient; she’s got her game face on.

Dal Ja tells Crazy Wife that if she’d just stuck to tormenting Dal Ja, she was prepared to accept it all, as penance for having gone out with her husband. But Crazy Wife had to mess with her family. Dal Ja’s lived her whole life proudly, and worked hard to be a daughter who’d never shame her mother. And because of Crazy Wife, her mother had to be dragged into this. So next time she messes with someone other than Dal Ja herself, Wife had better be prepared to bring it, bitch. (I’m paraphrasing.)

And finally, Dal Ja approaches the men of the disciplinary committee for one last appeal. She tells them she wants to stay at the company; she’ll take full responsibility in whatever way they ask her to. But she’s given your youth and energy to doing her work well.

She surprises everyone by kneeling down in front of them, as she realizes: “I’m 33 years old. I’ve learned how to lay down my pride with honor.”

10 March 4, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring, Episode 13

by javabeans

(Note regarding Dal Ja’s Spring recaps: I posted summaries for Episodes 1 through 6, but am skipping ahead to 13. The reason is, I’d already recapped Eps. 13-18 on soompi and am filling in the previous episodes slowly, when I have the time.)

Episode 13: “Happy Valentine’s Day To You!”

Dal Ja is feeling giddy and happy over the memory of Tae Bong telling her, at the end of episode 12, “You’re so adorable!” (Another translation: “You’re so pretty I could die!”) He’d hugged her so hard she could barely breathe.

The thought makes her happy, but when Tae Bong touches her, she feels sparks (literally), which makes her feel awkward around him. With her limited experience, she’s not sure what she’s feeling, and wonders if she’s sick.

Sae Do tells her it’s just her body’s instincts naturally responding to Tae Bong. She should progress their relationship, and throw herself at him.

Eom Ki Joong’s (crazy but entertaining) wife comes to see Dal Ja at the office, while Tae Bong’s mother eavesdrops on their conversation. (How many crazies can we fit in one scene? This show is doing a pretty good job so far.) Crazy Wife is looking for an occupation to support herself, and brings Dal Ja more pies. She wants Dal Ja to help her sell them on the home shopping network, but Dal Ja says she can’t help her; Crazy Wife would need the appropriate business licenses, etc., to get her business running first before attempting to sell on TV. Crazy Wife gets upset: “Can’t you do this much? You’re the woman who had an affair with my husband. Don’t you feel some responsibility?”

Tae Bong’s mother is appalled to hear that Dal Ja had an affair with a married man. Kang Team Leader comes out and recognizes Tae Bong’s mother, who’s trying to hide her face. She asks: “Sister-in-law?” Tae Bong’s father is Kang Team Leader’s brother.

Meanwhile, something’s going on with Go Soon Ae. She’s working late every night, despite being 7 months pregnant, and seems to be suffering pains/contractions. At the same time, Seon Joo is dealing with a pregnancy, which she keeps a secret.

Dal Ja happily imagines spending a romantic Valentine’s Day with Tae Bong. But at home, she tries to avoid him because being so close to him makes her uncomfortable. Tae Bong feels something’s up, and calls her on her weird behavior, which Dal Ja denies. When he tries to touch her, Dal Ja yells out reflexively, “Don’t touch me!” Tae Bong is hurt and tells her, “I understand. From now on, I won’t touch you. I’ll be careful not to come too close to you either.” He walks off, and doesn’t let Dal Ja explain further.

Sae Do tells her she was foolish. Dal Ja wonders how to fix it, and Sae Do says the only way is to talk it out. Men are simple beings, and don’t know what a woman’s really thinking unless she tells him. Honesty is the best policy. She should try it with Tae Bong.

So Dal Ja tries to smooth things over, acting overly friendly, preparing food for him, etc. But Tae Bong just ignores her, going straight into his room without talking. Dal Ja’s determined to have a face-to-face talk with Tae Bong, but he keeps avoiding her and acting distant. He makes a point not to touch her at any time.

Seon Joo goes to the doctor to confirm her pregnancy. She’s 5 weeks pregnant. She asks for surgery (abortion).

Meanwhile, in probably the BEST scene this episode, Dal Ja goes to Go Soon Ae, who’s fallen asleep working late. Dal Ja knows something’s up and asks if she fought with her husband. Soon Ae denies it, saying she’s just sensitive from her pregnancy.

Dal Ja gives Soon Ae a box of chocolates for a Valentine’s Day: “It’s the day you give chocolate to someone you love. You know I love you lots and lots, right? Or you can give these to your husband if you haven’t bought him any yet.”

Soon Ae starts crying. Her husband left the house. He resigned from his job and disappeared somewhere, and she can’t get a hold of him. Now she’s working late every night, now that she’s got to feed her mother and daughter alone. Plus she’s pregnant with her second baby.

She eats the chocolate, saying thanks to Dal Ja. “It’s really delicious. Chocolates are really good. I’m not crying because I’m sad. It’s because the chocolates are so delicious. Actually, I’ve been craving chocolate for a while. Dal Ja, you’re the best. Thanks!”

AT THE RESTAURANT, Grandma asks Tae Bong if they’ve set a date for their (forced) wedding, and how far he got with Dal Ja. Tae Bong is embarrassed, but answers that they haven’t gotten very far, since Dal Ja finds it uncomfortable just to be near him. Grandma says that it makes sense — Dal Ja’s father passed away when she was young, and she grew up only with women around. She went to a girls’ high school and girls’ university, so it’s natural that she finds it uncomfortable being around men. Grandma advises Tae Bong to go slowly with Dal Ja and understand her. “One step at a time, do you understand what I’m saying?”

Eom Ki Joong makes dinner for Dal Ja that night. He sits next to her and takes her hand, and says that when he was dating his wife, she always took his hand first and held him first — his wife was always way ahead of his feelings. So he can understand how Dal Ja feels now, since Ki Joong is ahead of her feelings; she probably feels confused and embarrassed. But now he understands how his wife must have felt: always careful, and afraid of pushing.

Dal Ja starts crying, and explains that it’s not him — she’s had a hard day. She feels grateful to Eom Ki Joong, and sorry. She starts to reject him, but he says, “You don’t have to explain. I understand what you’re saying. So those difficult words… you don’t have to say them. I’ve known it to an extent for a while, that I was playing a losing game. But I didn’t want to acknowledge it.”

When Dal Ja gets up to leave, Eom Ki Joong hugs her from the back, and says: “I wish time would stop like this.” And the Candy comic panel shows that he’s replicating a scene from the book! HAHAHAHAHHA. It’s hysterical. It’s so not the appropriate saying for the occasion, but that’s what happens when you learn dating tips from a comic!


(“I wish time would stop just like this!!“)

 
Dal Ja rushes the hell out of there (a teeny bit creeped out, I think), and to the office for an emergency. The chocolates for delivery for Valentine’s Day haven’t arrived.

Kang Team Leader wants to get all of the customer service reps together to call the customers and apologize, and give refunds. But Soon Ae objects, that Valentine’s chocolates aren’t just chocolates; they’re an expression of love. Dal Ja steps in and asks if there’s no way to get those chocolates delivered. Kang Team Leader hands responsibility for the situation to the Dal Ja.

So, the team works all night at the chocolate factory, wrapping boxes of chocolates. (I can’t be the only one who thought of that classic I Love Lucy episode in the chocolate factory when I saw this scene, right?)

Tae Bong waits up for her, and because he’s worried, he finally looks for her at the office where her co-workers are all passed out in exhaustion. He finds Dal Ja sleeping on the couch. She wakes up and he tells her he was worried.

She says she didn’t act that way with him because she didn’t want to touch him, or because she dislikes him. She’s just unused to it: “Understand me, okay?”

Tae Bong says he didn’t respond that way because he was angry, or because she hurt his feelings. He didn’t know what to do when a woman reacts like that: “Understand me, okay?” Dal Ja jokes, “Copycat.” Tae Bong: “Maybe it just means our hearts are on the same wavelength.”

Go Soon Ae collapses from stomach pains and gets taken into the hospital. Soon Ae says she can’t lose her child, and begs the doctor to save the baby.

Meanwhile, Seon Joo arrives for her abortion. When the doctor asks if she has an emergency contact or the father of the baby, Seon Joo says she has no one; she’s all alone. She runs into Dal Ja in the hall just as the nurse asks if she’s completed the surgery forms.

Dal Ja wonders what Seon Joo could be there for, and puts two and two together: “Oh. My. God.”

11 March 5, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 14

by javabeans

Episode 14: “It’s Okay Even If You’re Not Superwoman!”

This episode features lots of romance, and wonderful acting from Soon Ae! She made me cry tons in this episode and last.

Dal Ja and Seon Joo talk: Sae Do doesn’t know she’s pregnant, and Seon Joo doesn’t intend to tell him. She asks Dal Ja not to tell him. When Sae Do arrives, they talk about Go Soon Ae’s condition and how her husband could leave his wife.

Dal Ja and Sae Do disagree — Sae Do sympathizes with the husband, saying that he feels bad for Go Soon Ae, but the husband must be having a hard time, too. Dal Ja says they took marriage vows — “For better or worse” — to be together through everything. But Sae Do says that men can’t be expected to be Superman, and it’s selfish of women to expect their men to take responsibility for everything. Dal Ja says a man who leaves his wife to deal with everything alone is cowardly.

Soon Ae wakes up from surgery believing she lost her baby, and blames herself. She thinks back to what she said in episode 13, when she told Dal Ja that if she knew how hard things would get, she wouldn’t have had her second baby now. If she hadn’t said those words, her baby wouldn’t have left her. It’s really sad until Dal Ja tells her that she has a son, and her baby is in the incubator because he’s premature.

Seon Joo schedules her abortion for the soonest date possible. Dal Ja thinks Sae Do should know about it, so they can decide what to do together. But Seon Joo says that whatever affection they share now will turn into burden and responsibility the instant she tells him she’s pregnant. She’s not even sure if she loves Sae Do, and her feelings aren’t strong enough for that. But Sae Do has overheard the conversation. While Seon Joo acts cool at work, Sae Do is preoccupied with the news.

Tae Bong brings Dal Ja food at the hospital. She’s tired and would like to lean on him, but instead insists she’s fine. Still, he tells her not to overdo herself, and offers her his shoulder. Dal Ja leans on him, and marvels: “Ahhh, this is nice. I could get addicted to this shoulder!”

When Tae Bong watches her eat, Dal Ja feels self-conscious, but can only make silly conversation about things like traffic. She tries to think of something else, and blurts out, “Have you ever slept with a woman?” She tries to cover up, saying it’s because she’s in the hospital with all these pregnant women around.

Dal Ja wonders if Seon Joo told Sae Do anything about her pregnancy. Dal Ja’s about to tell him the truth when he tells her, “Don’t tell me. Just don’t say anything. When I’ve prepared myself, then I’ll listen. For now, just leave me alone.” Dal Ja realizes he knows about the baby, and tells him, “You must be having a hard time, but the person who’s having the most difficulty right now is Seon Joo.”

Crazy Wife visits Ki Joong’s apartment and is alarmed to see it in disarray. Ki Joong has let himself go, reading Candy comics and drinking. She calls the police, saying an intruder has come and killed someone. When they figure out nothing happened, Crazy Wife apologizes, saying she’s never seen his place in such a mess and was worried. She guesses that things aren’t going well with Dal Ja. She leaves him with some almond candies that he likes, which she made.

Tae Bong’s mother goes to Dal Ja’s office, which is empty except for her bald co-worker. She calls to make sure Kang Team Leader isn’t there (she’s not) and basically intimidates Dal Ja’s co-worker into telling her everything he knows about Dal Ja.

When Dal Ja visits Soon Ae, she tells her that Soon Ae is a remarkable person: “You play wife, mother, daughter-in-law. In the office, you’re a worker, and my dating coach. How can you do all that?” Soon Ae says that all housewives do that, and wonders if Dal Ja’s started to gain some sense now that she’s living with a man (Sae Do let it slip that Dal Ja and Tae Bong are living together).

Soon Ae tells Dal Ja that if she’s gone so far as to share her room with a man, she must like him a lot. If she feels she can love him, she should go ahead with their relationship. Dal Ja asks if that would really be okay. Soon Ae says she doesn’t need her permission, but Dal Ja feels if her unni were to say okay, she’d feel better about it. Soon Ae tells her, “It’s okay. If it’s love, what can you do about it? It’s okay.”

Tae Bong’s father visits Dal Ja’s mom. She’s cold to him, telling him she has nothing to say, that she forgot everything years ago. Tae Bong’s father says he’s missed her every day, and wonders if she hasn’t missed him at all. After she left him so many years ago, she should have gone on to live a happy, good life. Instead, she’s living a hard life. Dal Ja’s mom asks if he’s satisfied to see her struggling now. It’s her punishment for betraying him — she was swayed by another man’s riches, but not long after they married, he became ill and died, leaving her alone to raise Dal Ja and care for his mother. She’s been punished for doing him wrong, living such a difficult life. She tells him not to come back.

Outside, Tae Bong’s mother is spying. She came because it’s Dal Ja’s restaurant, but sees her husband leaving. Naturally she’s suspicious.

Dal Ja finds the cake Tae Bong bought the day before and eats it all. Tae Bong asks how she could eat someone else’s birthday cake — it’s his birthday. Dal Ja asks if he wants anything, and he says one kiss will do. She gives him a peck on the cheek, which he calls childish. So she gives him a peck on the lips, and he teases her for such an innocent kiss. She must really not have any experience.

So finally she kisses him full-on, surprising him. Tae Bong: “So you can kiss well. So why did you act so coy before?” Dal Ja: “I told you, I thought you’d be too shocked.”

Sae Do confronts Seon Joo. She tells him she didn’t want their relationship to be built on this burden and will get the abortion soon. He gets upset at how coolly she’s handling things. True, he didn’t want to have a kid, and he didn’t want this responsibility. But now that things have come to this, they should think about the future.

But Seon Joo tells him he doesn’t love her enough to have this baby. “If you really loved me, you should’ve at least asked me this: ‘Are you okay? Are you really okay?'” Sae Do storms out, and Seon Joo sees the gift he brought her: baby socks.

Soon Ae’s husband finally comes to see her and apologizes for leaving her to handle this alone. She tells him their son is handsome like him, and will break hearts when he grows up. She thanks her husband for coming back safe and sound. It seems they’re going to reconcile.

Dal Ja thinks how, since the advent of Superman in the world, there have also been Superwomen. As wives, mothers, workers, women, working hard to protect their happiness.

Dal Ja prepares a fancy dinner for Tae Bong, and dresses up nicely for his birthday. She asks what he thinks of her dress, and he says, “It’s not that great.” She gets offended, saying how she was so busy going to work and the hospital, then shopping to cook him a nice meal for his birthday, and even going to lengths to dress prettily for him — and all he can say is “It’s not that great.”

Tae Bong tells her he didn’t want her to overdo it. He likes her fine in jeans and sneakers, or with her unwashed face in the morning, or with a bowl of cup noodles. He already got his present, so she shouldn’t overwork herself going from work to the hospital to the store to cook him something special. She wanted to do something nice for him, but for him, it’s enough just to be together. She doesn’t have to put on her Superwoman face for him because her everyday face is enough for him.

They’re interrupted by a wrong number calling, and Dal Ja takes that as her cue to retire for the night. Tae Bong seems frustrated, and drinks some wine before going in his room. Then comes out and barges in on Dal Ja.

…and scene. Till next episode!

9 March 5, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 15

by javabeans

Episode 15: “Love Drenches My Heart, Like Spring Showers!”

Picking up from Episode 14, Tae Bong barges in on Dal Ja…

He tells her, “If you tell me to leave, I’ll leave. Tell me no by the time I count to three. If you don’t say anything by then, it means you accept.” He counts one…. two… three… and they kiss, falling into bed.

But the next day, Dal Ja doesn’t know how to act around Tae Bong, and is nervous and jumpy.

Dal Ja asks Soon Ae when she slept with her husband, and Soon Ae makes the guess that Dal Ja slept with Tae Bong. Dal Ja admits that they did, and Soon Ae congratulates her, and is excited for her this milestone in Dal Ja’s life. But one thing bothering Dal Ja is that Tae Bong didn’t say “I love you,” which Soon Ae agrees is a little weird, since most guys know enough to say that much.

Dal Ja worries that she may have seemed too easy, or that Tae Bong will find her burdensome. Soon Ae advises Dal Ja that men don’t like women who cling too much, so she should play it cool and distant, like it never happened.

So later, when she next sees Tae Bong, she acts like nothing happened. Tae Bong keeps trying to engage her interest, but Dal Ja keeps pushes him aside. Finally, he tells her she’s been acting strangely after that night. Is she angry or disappointed? She denies it, acting coolly and tells him there’s nothing to think about. They’re both adults, and nothing’s changed because of that night together. Tae Bong asks her if she means it, and although Dal Ja’s inner voice doesn’t mean it, she tells him not to put too much thought into it, and that she’s not that kind of person. Tae Bong seems surprised and disappointed.

Dal Ja hears that Seon Joo’s at the hospital, and she and Sae Do rush to the hospital to stop her from going through with her abortion. Seon Joo is already in the operating room and put under anesthesia, and they arrive just as Seon Joo is leaving. Sae Do is crushed.

He tries to take her home, but she insists on going alone. Sae Do pleads for her to just listen to him for once, instead of doing things on her own all the time. But Seon Joo merely says she wants to break up. She tells him that he tried hard to make it work, and for that she thanks him, but they should stop. It’s hard for him and she’s tired.

Sae Do is understandably upset, but tells Dal Ja that he did as much as he could. He’s giving up. But Dal Ja contradicts him — he didn’t really do “everything” he could have. He might think he did, but he never treated Seon Joo like a girlfriend. They didn’t go on dates to the movies, hold hands walking the street, etc. To a woman, what he did doesn’t count as “doing everything he could do.” Seon Joo wouldn’t have reacted the way she did if Sae Do had truly made her believe him. She advises him to think about what he truly wants from her.

And Dal Ja realizes she has to do the same about her relationship with Tae Bong…

So Dal Ja takes Tae Bong, and they both play hooky from work, going on a real date. At the same time, Sae Do takes Seon Joo on a real date as well. The two couples (separately) go to the movies, walk the streets holding hands, and act as a real couple.

Sae Do is honest with Seon Joo and tells her he really loves her, and is sorry for leaving her to handle everything alone. He gives her a ring to represent his sincere feelings for her, not out of responsibility or burden, but just out of his love for her. She’s about to accept it, but someone bumps into them and knocks the ring into the air, where it lands in a huge pile of trash. Seon Joo’s spooked, thinking that’s a sign that they’re not meant to be. The ring is gone, so she can’t accept him.

But Sae Do says, “Does that mean if I find the ring, you’ll accept me?” She tells him he’ll never find it, but he dives into the pile of trash.

Even though it starts to rain, Sae Do keeps digging through the trash. Finally, hours later, he’s soaked and looks around, but Seon Joo’s gone. She appears with an umbrella, and says, “I told you it couldn’t be found.” Sae Do takes her hand and shows her the ring — he found it.

We find out that Seon Joo didn’t go through with the abortion, although nobody knows about it yet. At the last moment, while in the operating room, she changed her mind and walked out.

At the end of their date, Dal Ja is honest with Tae Bong, saying that she tried to act cool, but she’s not doing a very good job of it. She was afraid he’d find her burdensome or lose interest in her. Tae Bong says he was worried too, because she said it wasn’t a big deal to her, and for him not to think about it too much. But he doesn’t find her burdensome, and after that night, his feelings for her actually grew. They happily come to an understanding of their mutual feelings.

Dal Ja runs into Tae Bong on her way to her mom’s restaurant. She doesn’t know that at that moment, Tae Bong’s mom is confronting her mother.

Tae Bong’s mom thinks her husband is having an affair with Dal Ja’s mom. They know each other from 35 years ago, when Dal Ja’s mom and Tae Bong’s dad were dating. All these years, Tae Bong’s father has been unable to get over his first love. After Dal Ja’s mom dumped him, he married Tae Bong’s mom on the rebound.

Tae Bong’s mom is also upset that her son is dating Dal Ja, and reveals that the two are living together. She pitches a fit, throwing things on the floor and making a mess. At that moment, Dal Ja and Tae Bong arrive at the restaurant, and Dal Ja’s mother demands to know if it’s true they’re living together.

Uh oh…

10 March 5, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring, Episode 16

by javabeans

Episode 16: “There Needs To Be Loyalty In Love!”

Tae Bong’s mother insists that Dal Ja seduced her son, and reveals the two are living together. Dal Ja and Tae Bong arrive, and Dal Ja’s mother demands to know if it’s true: Are they living together?

Taking their silence as consent, Dal Ja’s mom grabs a broom and starts to hit Dal Ja with it… but Tae Bong leaps in and uses his body to shield Dal Ja, as Whitney Houston sings “I Will Always Love You” a la The Bodyguard.

Tae Bong tells Dal Ja’s mother: “If you are going to hit someone, hit me. I’ll accept it all. It’s true that Dal Ja and I are living together. It’s also true that we both have feelings for each other. If that is reason for Dal Ja to be hit, then it’s only fit that I receive the beating as well. Please hit me as much as it takes to ease your feelings. I will receive it all.”

Dal Ja’s touched at Tae Bong’s words, but possibly not as much as her grandmother is.

Dal Ja’s mother throws everyone out. She’s so upset at Dal Ja that she essentially disowns her, telling her to leave. She didn’t raise her daughter that way. So Dal Ja and Tae Bong go to their respective homes, trying to ease things with their families. Tae Bong implores his mother to stop interfering. When Tae Bong’s father finds out that his wife caused a ruckus at Dal Ja’s mother’s restaurant, he angrily packs his things to leave the house. He told his wife that if she went after Tae Bong, they were over. He’ll have his lawyer send over divorce papers.

Tae Bong confronts his father, defending his mother. He blames his father for turning his mother into the woman she is — it’s his father’s fault, since he never treated her well. He never once smiled at her warmly, or held her, or said he loved her. “You were always cold and unresponsive. You always ignored Mom, like she was an annoyance. Because she couldn’t win your love, she clung to me instead. I don’t know what others may think, but Father, you’re not even a man.”

His father slaps him, but he continues: “The reason I can’t live here isn’t because of Mother, it’s because of you. Because I don’t want to become a man like you.”

Dal Ja attempts to appease her mother in a grand gesture in a Goong-like parody. But her mother isn’t having any of Dal Ja’s theatrics, and stays mad.

Tae Bong doesn’t understand the dynamic between his parents, so his grandfather explains their history:

When they were younger, Dal Ja’s mother was his father’s first love, while Tae Bong’s mother secretly loved his father. When Dal Ja’s mom broke his heart by leaving him for a rich man, Tae Bong’s mom stepped in and comforted him, all the way to the altar.

Tae Bong re-tells the story to Dal Ja, and she can’t believe her mother used to date his father. She wonders if that means they could possibly be related. Tae Bong laughs: “You’ve watched too much television. So, between the two of us, is one of us going to get cancer and die?” (Lol at the references to popular kdramas of yore.)

They decide to stay with their families for the time being, until things smooth over. That means they won’t be able to see each other for the next day or two. As they leave each other, Tae Bong kisses Dal Ja goodbye twice, reluctant to be parted. Dal Ja’s mom watches them from a distance.

At work, Seon Joo is tired due to her pregnancy, although Sae Do still believes she had the abortion. She has a craving for pork, and Sae Do notices how big her appetite is — they’ve eaten four portions. She thinks about the meat they can go eat the next day as well. Sae Do wonders what’s wrong with her and blurts out: “What are you, pregnant?” He apologizes for talking without thinking, but as he leaves Seon Joo’s apartment, he sees pregnancy books and things lying around. Even more suspicious than the pregnancy literature is the fridge full of healthy and wholesome food. (That can’t be right!) Sae Do goes to the hospital to confirm that she didn’t go through with her operation.

Dal Ja’s grandma and mother talk. Granny defends the couple, saying that being opposed to the match won’t stop the two from being together. When Dal Ja’s mom married her son, Granny was opposed to it and did everything she could to keep her son from her. But in the end, it didn’t work out. So try to understand Dal Ja’s heart. Granny also tells her that when Dal Ja’s married, she’s intending to go off to a nursing home — she knows it was hard for her daughter-in-law taking care of her after her husband died so early.

Tae Bong visits his father in the hotel where he’s staying. His father brusquely tells him to leave, but surprisingly, Tae Bong kneels and apologizes, while his father listens silently behind the door.

“I was wrong, Father. To me, you were always strong, and Mother was weak. So I always sided with Mother, and hated to disappoint her. The school she chose, the university she wanted, the law firm she picked. I lived my life following what Mother wanted for me. It was not fun. I was not happy. In those times, I resented you. You didn’t listen to my wishes for my life, so I hated you. But I also wanted to at least once share in conversation with you. Like other fathers do with their sons. Talking in the saunas, drinking soju together, talking about life, about women. I wanted to tell you I’ve met a woman I like, and found work I enjoy.”

Tae Bong’s father opens the door, and takes Tae Bong out to breakfast together in a tacit reconciliation. Tae Bong is surprised when his father puts his arm around him, because it’s possibly the first time he’s ever shown him affection.

Tae Bong’s mother goes to Dal Ja’s mother again. This time, they come to an agreement: Both don’t want their children dating each other. (Dal Ja’s mom: “Do you think I want a daughter of mine having to put up with a mother-in-law like you?”) But Dal Ja’s mom says that even if she opposes it, if the kids want to be together anyway, she won’t chase after them to interfere.

Sae Do asks for pregnancy advice from Dal Ja, wondering how to make things easier for Seon Joo. So Dal Ja asks her unni about tips in helping a pregnant woman, i.e. what to eat, what to avoid. But because Dal Ja has not learned her lesson about talking about private matters in the bathroom, Kang Team Manager has overheard, and assumes Dal Ja’s the pregnant one.

Tae Bong’s mother goes to see Kang Team Manager as a last resort, because she has not yet filled her daily quota of annoying busy people, and begs her to transfer Dal Ja far away, where Tae Bong can’t follow. Kang Team Manager has one caution, though: She’s not certain, but Dal Ja may be pregnant. But this is a matter that must be handled delicately, with discretion.

Outside, Dal Ja and Tae Bong are waiting for the meeting to be over. His mother starts hitting Tae Bong (I almost expected Dal Ja to interfere in a reverse-Bodyguard scenario — how great would that have been?), then demands of Dal Ja: “How many months along are you? I hear you’re pregnant!” Tae Bong (and the entire office) asks, “Are you pregnant?” Very delicate and discreet, indeed.

Dal Ja says no, she’s not pregnant, as everyone stares at her….

8 March 5, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 17

by javabeans

Episode 17: “Earnest Things You Need to Throw Away When You Love” Part 1

Everyone waits with bated breath after Tae Bong’s mother asks (accuses, more like) Dal Ja if she’s pregnant…

Dal Ja tells everyone she’s not. Absolutely, definitely not. Kang Team Manager scolds Tae Bong’s mother for causing a scene at work. She tells her that she should take care of household matters on her own time.

Although the misunderstanding is cleared, Dal Ja’s upset at the disturbance:

Tae Bong: “Are you angry?”
Dal Ja: “Yeah.”
Tae Bong: “That probably really embarrassed you.”
DJ: “Yeah.”
TB: “You probably won’t get over it easily.”
DJ: “Yeah.”
TB: “But you still like me.”
DJ: “Yeah.”

Tae Bong wonders if there’s a way win their mothers over to their side. Dal Ja: “How?” Tae Bong: “Make it fun.” Dal Ja: “Fun?”
So Tae Bong starts going to the restaurant early to work extra hard. He shows up at the market to carry groceries for Dal Ja’s mother, and basically turns into a model worker.

Dal Ja follows Tae Bong’s mother around, pretending to meet coincidentally. She tries to kiss up to her, doing daughter-in-law-like things. At the sauna, she brings her a drink; at the department store, she carries her purchase. She even goes to the same spa to get a massage, marveling, “Oh my! We have such similar tastes!”

At first, both mothers are unmoved, but it does seem they start to enjoy the attention, although they don’t want to admit it.

Still, Dal Ja and Tae Bong are frustrated that their mothers don’t seem to be affected by their efforts. So Tae Bong suggests switching to a different strategy: “Make them curious.”

So both Tae Bong and Dal Ja take time off from work. Dal Ja’s mom wonders where Tae Bong’s gone when he doesn’t appear to help her with the groceries or help out at the restaurant. Even Tae Bong’s mother finds herself looking around wherever she goes, expecting to see Dal Ja lurking. She wonders why Dal Ja’s not hanging around anymore.

She watches other mothers with their daughters-in-law as they shop together and go to the sauna together. You can really start to see Tae Bong’s mother’s loneliness. She’s got the brash exterior, but it seems she would actually really enjoy being mother-in-law to someone like Dal Ja, who would look after her needs.

In Dal Ja’s week off from work, they have fun hanging out together: cleaning, eating, cooking, reading. It’s ridiculously cute.

Dal Ja: “Why do you like me?”
Tae Bong: “Why ask why? I just do.”
Dal Ja: “You could find a much better woman than me. Someone much prettier, more appealing, younger. You could find someone much more desirable. So why in the world is it me?”
Tae Bong: “Then why do you like me? You could’ve felt more secure and safe with a guy like President Eom. So why me? Why do you like me?”
Dal Ja: “At that moment… you were by my side. When I was having a hard time, when I was lonely, when I needed someone’s comfort and smiles… In those times, you were by my side. You consoled me and held me, and somehow, your scent stayed with me. So wherever I go, whoever I meet… I just keep sensing your scent. It tickles my heart. It makes me miss you, makes me curious. It makes me want to be with you. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but now here we are.”
Tae Bong: “Me too. At some point, I looked around and now you’re lying by me. If you ask why I like you, I don’t know. It’s something I can’t answer in just one phrase, but one thing I’m certain of…”
Dal Ja: “Certain of?”
Tae Bong: “I like you. Being with you like this, I really like it.”
Dal Ja: “Oh my god. Am I dreaming or awake? If I’m dreaming, I never want to wake up. If I’m awake, I wish I could stay like this forever.”

Their mothers become worried that they haven’t heard from their kids. They call Dal Ja’s work and hear that she’s taken time off. They try to stay calm, but wonder: “Surely they wouldn’t kill themselves just because their parents oppose their relationship?”

And they imagine the couple as Romeo & Juliet (which is awesome, because as Dal Ja is about to drink her poison, she looks at Tae Bong with his sword, and says, “I bet that’ll hurt.” Tae Bong asks if she can leave some of her poison for him, and she says no. But he looks at his sword, then grabs her poison and drinks it instead.)

The moms arrive at Dal Ja’s apartment to see them both lying down, dressed in white, and they wonder if they’ve already killed themselves. The two mothers fight over who goes to check on the bodies and try to wake them. “You do it.” “No, you do it.” “But that’s your daughter!” “Your son’s in there, too!” They both say how they can’t take the shock; Dal Ja’s mom says how her heart is weak, the doctors told her to watch it.

Dal Ja and Tae Bong wake from their nap, and after the initial relief, the mothers unite in their opposition. Dal Ja and Tae Bong say they’ve been working hard, trying to gain their parents’ approval. But even if they don’t approve, they want to be together. They’re adults and old enough to handle their own relationships.

Meanwhile, Sae Do is dealing with a dilemma. Kang Team Manager offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She wants to recommend him for overseas training, which would be a great step for his career. But he doesn’t want to tell Seon Do, because she’d tell him just to go, and he can’t leave her to have the baby alone. They’re at the age when neither party wants to become a burden to the other.

Seon Joo hears about Sae Do’s offer, and realizes what this means for him. So she tells him that whenever he tires of her, whenever he wants, she’ll return his ring. They’ve worked hard and there’s nothing to feel bad about. She doesn’t expect any more from him, and whenever they decide, they should be able to break up without becoming burdens to the other. Sae Do wonders if she still can’t trust him, and she tells him she does trust him, which is why she’s saying this. She doesn’t want him to give up a great life opportunity because of her or their baby.

Tae Bong runs into a former law firm sunbae, who invites him to his birthday party. Dal Ja is curious about going to such a lavish, fancy event, but Tae Bong doesn’t want to go. He finds such events stuffy and boring, saying empty hellos to people you don’t care about. But when he sees that Dal Ja wants to go with him, he reconsiders.

So Dal Ja gets to go to the event, dressed up. She’s excited to see such important and famous people at the party, and Tae Bong finds her excitement cute and infectious. He wonders that with Dal Ja by his side, even he can have fun.

But Dal Ja becomes a little insecure when she sees the attention Tae Bong is receiving from everyone. She didn’t know he was such an notable person. And we end when a beautiful young woman approaches Tae Bong and tells him she’s missed him…

4 March 5, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 18

by javabeans

Episode 18: “Earnest Things You Need to Throw Away When You Love” Part 2

We know we’re heading into the last stretch of a drama because we open with a montage recapping Dal Ja and Tae Bong’s relationship. Of course, that also suggests that we’re in for a shake-up in the relationship’s status, but we knew that. It’s what the math of a kdrama series tells us.

At the fancy birthday party, we meet Jang Su Jin, who’s clearly interested in Tae Bong (as is every other female in the room). But Su Jin’s very familiar with Tae Bong, speaking informally (banmal) which indicates a close degree of familiarity, and coyly suggests, “Why don’t we two slip out of here early?” (Bitch. Right?)

She’s young and beautiful, making Dal Ja feel insecure. He introduces Su Jin to Dal Ja as a friend he used to work with. Su Jin tells Tae Bong he should say hello to her father, but when he makes a move to comply, Dal Ja stays behind.

Tae Bong wonders why Dal Ja isn’t coming along, but she declines. There must be lots of people he hasn’t seen in a while, so she’ll hang out and wait, don’t worry about her. Tae Bong appreciates the gesture, and leans over to tell Dal Ja that the cake is really delicious.

So Dal Ja eats cake, and watches them go.

As she watches, Dal Ja continues to be unsettled with Su Jin’s boldness toward Tae Bong, linking arms and smiling coyly (bitch).

Eom Ki Joong sees Dal Ja by herself and approaches. He’s actually very sweet — when some other women were snarking on how Dal Ja looks very old for Tae Bong, Ki Joong defended her saying she’s not old at all. And Dal Ja’s very glad to see a familiar face, as they eat cake together.

Tae Bong watches Dal Ja and Ki Joong together with perhaps a tinge of jealousy/insecurity. (Which is about damn time. I love Tae Bong, but it’s nice to see him insecure for once, rather than perfect. We women like our perfect men with a healthy dash of imperfection.) Su Jin picks up on it, and asks if he loves Dal Ja. He says she’s warm, and fun, and a good person. Su Jin persists in asking if he loves her, and he stays silent. Su Jin smugly says he can’t love anyone but himself — he’s always been this way.

At home, Dal Ja starts asking about Su Jin, so Tae Bong just comes right out and tells her they knew each other for 10 years since they were in high school. They dated for three years, until Su Jin dumped him for another guy. She was his first love. Dal Ja wonders if, because he was dumped, he still has lingering attachment for Su Jin, but Tae Bong says he’s over her.

Soon Ae asks why Dal Ja went to such an event in the first place. Dal Ja was merely curious about going to a fancy event like that, but Soon Ae shrewdly says no, Dal Ja actually went to the event to see if Tae Bong wanted to go back to the law firm, didn’t she?

To be honest, Dal Ja thinks it wouldn’t be bad for him to go back to the law firm. He’s talented and the firm people want him back. Reality is difficult, and the things to really fear are lack of clothing, lack of food. Plus, Dal Ja has to pay the lease/deposit on her apartment by the end of the month (which happens every 2 years), which is approximately $10,000. Dal Ja has the money she’s been saving up for her marriage fund, but she doesn’t want to dip into that. It would be nice if Tae Bong would go back to the firm and not worry about money.

Go Soon Ae tells her not to push: If you hold one thing in one hand, and try to grasp onto a second thing, you risk losing both. Don’t be greedy.

Tae Bong shows up for work, but Dal Ja’s mom says he can’t work for her anymore. He has to choose to learn cooking from her, or give up her daughter. It isn’t that she doesn’t like him, but she’s worried about her daughter’s happiness. She won’t have her daughter’s boyfriend and possible spouse-to-be struggling and working at a tiny restaurant. So it’s either his dream, or her daughter.

Tae Bong’s mother summons Dal Ja to give her money. It’s hilarious, because Dal Ja’s imagination runs away with her (as usual!) and she assumes Tae Bong’s mother is trying to buy her off. Puffed up with self-congratulatory pride, Dal Ja firmly rejects the cash: She cannot be bought off! She’ll pretend it never happened, and of course she generously offers to keep this a secret from Tae Bong, who would be furious with his mother.

But Tae Bong’s mother laughs: the money isn’t for Dal Ja. It’s for Tae Bong. She wants to make sure he’s living all right. She doesn’t approve of Dal Ja, but for the moment Dal Ja is her connection to Tae Bong. She wants Dal Ja to report daily about Tae Bong’s whereabouts and activities. Tae Bong’s mother’s quite a pain in the ass, but kind of endearing. I mean, she’s not smart enough to be truly threatening, so she’s just shamelessly up-front about her intentions. She also tells Dal Ja to do something about that hair; every time she sees the curly mess, it distracts her so much it drives her crazy. Which is a sentiment I can understand, but the style has really grown on me since Episode 1.

Su Jin meets with a reluctant Tae Bong to ask him to help her on a case. She gets to pick her team, and wants his help. She knows he’s given up law, but she isn’t telling him to come back to the firm, it’s just a friend asking for help.

Dal Ja sees Tae Bong coming home with Su Jin, and hides. Tae Bong sees her, and assures her that he was just having dinner with an old friend. Nothing more.

Meanwhile, Sae Do proposes to Seon Joo with a trail of roses…..

(If you’ll remember, it’s a nice touch with the yellow roses. Back in Episode 3 or 4, when Sae Do was first trying to woo Seon Joo, he plucked out a yellow rose and gave it to her. But he caught her at a bad moment, when she was just threatened by someone regarding her ex-husband’s debts, that she rejected him, and Sae Do threw the rose to the ground in frustration.)

Tae Bong’s father and grandfather meet, and the grandfather asks the father to come back home. He’s been married for 30 years; he shouldn’t mention divorce so easily. He also reminds Tae Bong’s dad about all he’s done for him, supporting him back before he became a professor, and is disappointed that he’s only ever called him the very formal “Father In Law,” never just “Father.”

Tae Bong looks into cooking courses. It’s 600,000 won (approx $600), so for now he got a part-time job. Dal Ja suggests that he accept money from his parents, but he says that taking that money would indebt himself to his grandfather. When she asks about rejoining the law firm, Tae Bong asks if that’s what she really wants. She says it’s not that, but she just doesn’t want to see him suffer.

Tae Bong: “My dream is having a restaurant (lunch shop). From the day I decided to live with you, that’s what I decided. Don’t you understand what that means?”
Dal Ja: “Not really, no.”
Tae Bong: “It means, since I met you, I started to have my own dream. So, I’ve started to look forward to living. I enjoy today, and wait for tomorrow. I decided to become happy.”

So Dal Ja deliberates over what to do with the money situation. She’s tempted to use the money Tae Bong’s mother gave her, but says no, Tae Bong would be disappointed in her. Then, give up her lease and take that money? She can’t do that either.

Tae Bong’s mother is shocked to see her husband back at home. She’s a little pissy, until he apologizes. He says he was wrong, he realized a lot of things, and that of the mistakes they’ve both made, his were bigger. He’ll try hard in the future. When he leaves, he calls his father-in-law “Father” for the first time, and you see how happy that makes them. You really get the sense that both she and her father were starved for affection, and you wonder if all this time, things would have been so much better if Tae Bong’s father were a bit warmer.

Sae Do tells Dal Ja he proposed, , but hasn’t gotten a response yet. He doesn’t know what to do. He can’t leave Seon Joo behind, pregnant and alone, but he feels it’s a waste to let his career opportunity go, too. Seon Joo overhears the conversation, as Dal Ja wonders, “So it’s work or love. What a dilemma.”

Working construction makes Tae Bong constantly exhausted, which causes Dal Ja to worry. He assures her, though: “I know this sounds awful, but I learned at this age, what a difficult think it is to earn 600,000 won for academy classes. All this time, I never worried and lived so comfortably.”

He insists it’s fun, but Dal Ja sees over the following days how hard it is on him, although he never complains about it.

Finally, Dal Ja can’t take it anymore and gives him the money his mother gave him. She wants him to use it to enroll in his courses until he gets a job. He tells her to return it immediately. She knows he doesn’t want to take the money, but she can’t watch him suffering so much. His dream is important, but she doesn’t think this is the way to do it. Tae Bong: “Why can’t you understand me? Can’t you see me killing myself working this hard? Can’t you see me trying to live right for once?” Dal Ja says he doesn’t have to suffer this much. Others suffer because they don’t have his abilities, but he’s doing things backward, living hard when he doesn’t have to.

She says he could go back to the law firm, work two or three years, then start his restaurant then. Tae Bong: “Dal Ja, do you think the same thing as your mother? Do you want me to choose between the two, that I should give up either my dream, or you? I thought you would be different. I thought you’d understand.

Dal Ja says she wishes she had the money to support him. But she’s got to pay her lease at the end of the month, what can she do? Watching him come home every night exhausted is too hard.

Tae Bong: “So in the end, it’s about money.”
Dal Ja: “I can’t watch you struggling so much.”
Tae Bong: “In any case, it’s about money. Sorry. To be such a complainer who can’t come up with the money to pay his own course fees. I’m really sorry. That I can’t do a thing to help with your lease deposit.”

Seon Joo turns down the proposal. It’s not because she doesn’t love him, or can’t trust him — but they’re not the type to tie themselves to each other in marriage. Their separate lives are too important. Sae Do thinks she should quit work while he can take care of her abroad. But she doesn’t want to stop working. Her pregnancy won’t stop her, as long as she’s able. Seon Joo pleasantly and coolly tells him that this is what she wants.

Su Jin arrives at Dal Ja’s office on business, and invites Dal Ja out to dinner, where she questions her about her relationship with Tae Bong. Su Jin tells Dal Ja why she broke up with Tae Bong: Tae Bong seemed too cold, so she wanted to arouse jealousy by dating someone else. But he never showed any emotion or said anything about it. Frustrated, Su Jin said she wanted to break up in a fit of anger, thinking he’d definitely hang on to her. But instead, he just broke things off, never looking back. She heard later that Tae Bong really did have a hard time over their relationship.

Meanwhile, Tae Bong gets into an accident at work…

…dun dun DUN!!!

 

8 March 8, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 19

by javabeans

Episode 19: What It Is To Live As a Man

Dal Ja recaps her past relationships as she jumps (literally) over their “hurdles,” represented literally on a racetrack. There was the Sae Do the womanizer, Eom Ki Joong the married man, Tae Bong the younger man, and their parents’ disapproval…

But running toward Tae Bong (to the lovely strains of the theme song from Chariots of Fire, the melodrama of which contrasts nicely with the super-short, knee-high kiddie hurdles — ha!), Dal Ja thought she’d finally arrived at happiness.

That’s when his past suddenly appeared.

Not knowing Tae Bong is in the hospital, Dal Ja meets with Su Jin, who makes her intentions clear. She wants Tae Bong back, and still loves him. She’s confident she can get him back, because she knows he can’t easily let go of someone from his past, like her. She goes on to say: “Has he ever said he loves you? I thought not. He’s not the type of guy who can say what he doesn’t feel.” (That may be true, but Su Jin knows he has never said those words to anyone, not just Dal Ja. Of course, she fails to add that little detail.)

Dal Ja wonders to Seon Joo (who’s eating up a storm) what she should do about it. Should she tell Tae Bong that Su Jin came to see her? Should she argue with him? Just then, she gets a phone call from Tae Bong, and rips right into giving him a piece of her mind:

“Hey, Kang Tae Bong. Good timing. Do you know who I met today? Your ex-girlfriend, Jang Su Jin. She still has feelings for you.”
(Seon Joo: “Are you satisfied just saying that?”)
So Dal Ja continues, stronger: “You! What’s wrong with your actions that someone like that has to come see me? Why the heck do I have to put up with hearing that from her?”
(Seon Joo: “You’re beating around the bush, like always.”)
Getting more worked up: “I really hate people like her. So you’d better make sure she doesn’t come looking for me again. If this happens again, I’m done with you. We’ll be finished. The end. Over!”

And the person on the other end of the line finally has a chance to speak: it’s the hospital, calling for Tae Bong’s guardian.

Dal Ja rushes into the hospital looking for Tae Bong. Seon Joo points him out — he’s covered in bandages, bloodied, unconscious. The doctor says things don’t look very good, and she’d better prepare herself for the worst. Dal Ja begs Tae Bong to wake up, crying and afraid.

And… and a nearby bed, the real Tae Bong sits up, recognizing Dal Ja’s voice. He wonders why Dal Ja’s crying over the other guy. Seon Joo realizes it was her mistake; the guy had a similar jawline to Tae Bong, so she assumed it was him. Oops.

At home, Tae Bong jokes about how it was funny that Dal Ja could mistake someone else for him. Dal Ja asks if he’s really okay, and he assures her he’s completely fine. “You’re really fine?” “I’m really fine.”

After making sure the only parts of him injured are his head and arm, she kicks him hard in the shins. Hehe.

She demands, how could he say it was fun?! Doesn’t he know how scared she was? When she heard he was hurt, everything went black and she couldn’t see anything in front of her, she was so worried.

Dal Ja really seems to have been shaken up, and Tae Bong realizes she’s serious, and apologizes.

While he’s sleeping, Dal Ja thinks back to their fight from before, over Tae Bong going back to the law firm. Dal Ja tells the sleeping Tae Bong, “I love you. I really love you a lot. Do you know that?

Her narration tells us: “I’m 33 years old. This is the first time I’ve said ‘I love you’ to a man. More than any other words I’d ever spoken in my life, these were the most precious and moving words I’d ever said. I love you, Kang Tae Bong.”

Dal Ja falls asleep, and Tae Bong opens his eyes as he watches her sleep. He doesn’t seem unhappy, necessarily, but more thoughtful than excited. It could be that he’s come to the realization that love is more than just a feeling. Someone may just have grown up a little bit.

Dal Ja returns the money envelope to Tae Bong’s mother, who thinks Dal Ja’s being foolish. Dal Ja says she’d like Tae Bong to go back to the law firm too, but it’s more important that he follow his heart.

Afterward, she extracts her entire savings from the bank.

Dal Ja’s mom comes to her apartment and runs into the injured Tae Bong. She says that Dal Ja never got to do the things she wanted to do, because of her mother always working in a small lunch shop.

“In the third grade, she begged so much for piano lessons for three days and nights, I spanked her so hard she couldn’t sit. Later, she learned it was because I had no money. From then on, she never asked me to buy her anything, or do anything for her, not once. If she got a hole in her sock so her heel stuck out, she never said anything, in case it would make her mother feel bad, in case her mother wouldn’t have money. That’s the kind of person Dal Ja is. Because of me, she can’t stand to see others struggling. How can I give someone like that to your care? Someone without a future or skills, how can I? Knowing that yourself, how can I consent to you? Isn’t that so? If you really treasure my daughter, then try and find a better occupation. But this isn’t it. I can’t consent to this. Do you understand?”

Dal Ja takes Tae Bong out to eat and gives him an enrollment slip for classes. She assures him she didn’t use his mother’s money — she gave that back. The money is from her savings; she was saving up a fund for her wedding. But he shouldn’t worry or feel burdened by it. She did it because she truly wanted to, and with a joyful heart. So he should accept it easily.

Tae Bong is shocked, and moved, and possibly even shamed by her gesture. Or he ought to be. Last episode, I was on his side more than Dal Ja’s, but in this episode, Dal Ja redeemed herself from her bout of selfishness. Because, as soon as she realized it was love, she acted on it and did something for him that he couldn’t ask of her, that he wouldn’t even think to ask of her. And then she tried to downplay it, saying it’s not that important, so he wouldn’t feel overly burdened. This is where I feel like Tae Bong is learning as much as Dal Ja is, which wasn’t the case when they first met.

Sae Do becomes angry and jealous upon seeing a strange older man hanging around Seon Joo, thinking she’s already moved on. When he sees the man enter Seon Joo’s apartment, he demands to know who the guy is, and tells him he’s deeply involved with Seon Joo. The guy turns out to be her father.

(A fairly predictable turn, but the actor playing Sae Do really sells it. I love how he gets really into the gags and physical comedy, but can pull it back to sell the emotional scenes as well.)

They sit down for a talk, and Sae Do nervously answers his questions about his age, background, etc.

Sae Do takes out Seon Joo and her father for dinner and wine, and is alarmed at the ridiculously high prices he’s forced to pay. Seon Joo’s father knows he’s putting him in a difficult position, but Sae Do wants to impress him, so he goes along. But it seems the father is trying to teach Sae Do a lesson about being a man.

Tae Bong has a drink with his father, who gives him some manly advice:

“When a man loves, responsibility follows. It’s good to run toward your goals ahead of you, but doing that can leave the woman behind, lonely. I’ve only ever run looking ahead, so I made your mother lonelier. You said you didn’t want to be like me. Then, think about what you can do for your woman. A man lives not just for himself, but taking care of others. That’s what it means to live as a man.”

So Tae Bong returns to the law firm. They then visit Dal Ja’s mother and grandmother, who are happy to hear the news. Then they go to Tae Bong’s family, who are equally thrilled that he went back. Tae Bong’s grandfather takes to Dal Ja immediately, because she knows how to talk to him and flatter him appropriately.

Tae Bong’s mother is threatened that Dal Ja is stealing her father’s affection, but his father tells her not to worry. He’ll treat her with enough affection to make up for the loss. They’re also going to start sharing rooms again, after a year of sleeping apart. Looks like he really has decided to try hard to make his wife happy.

Dal Ja’s happy, but worries that he only went back to his job because of her. She would have been okay with him pursuing his dreams. Tae Bong says that she shouldn’t feel burdened; he feels fine, going back to being a lawyer. He gives her the money back for his classes, telling her not to try to work out her problems alone in the future, since they’ll do them together from now.

At Dal Ja’s company, there are rampant rumors and confusions about a possible merger with another department or company, which would mean lots of jobs being lost. Kang Team Manager tries to keep everyone calm, but the news has spread and people are worried.

While at the law firm…

Su Jin: “It was no fun coming to work everyday without seeing your face. Now that you’re back, it’ll become fun again.”
Tae Bong: “I didn’t come back here for your amusement.”
Su Jin: “In the year I haven’t seen you, you’ve turned even more into a man. Your jawline’s become more perfect, and your gaze is deeper.”
Tae Bong: “Stop kidding around. Don’t waste your energies on that on my first day, and move aside.”
Su Jin: “Ah, you’re no fun. You don’t blush at that anymore.”

And Tae Bong finds out the mergers & acquisitions case he’s working on is for Handa Home Shopping…

Unaware of all this, Dal Ja clears out the spare room and orders new furniture to make Tae Bong a permanent fixture in her home…

16 March 8, 2007January 23, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 20

by javabeans

Episode 20: “What It Is To Live As A Woman”

Dal Ja is summoned by her mother and grandmother, who tell her to hurry and fix a wedding date…

Dal Ja objects, saying they’ve never discussed it before, but her mother insists she’s not getting any younger. They’re already living like a married couple anyway.


Dal Ja then gets summoned by Tae Bong’s mother, who tells her she’d better not push for marriage right now. There’s a time and place for everything, and right now Tae Bong needs to focus on work.

At home, Dal Ja’s unusually quiet, wondering if she should bring up marriage, or leave it alone. Tae Bong is equally quiet, having found out about Handa Home Shopping’s upcoming merger, and wonders if he should tell Dal Ja. They wrestle with their dilemmas separately.


The rumors of a merger at work turn out to be true, as Dal Ja’s co-workers find out, and worry over the impending layoffs that are sure to come. As soon as the big meeting is over, they all rush to observe, and everyone’s shocked to see Tae Bong there, Dal Ja most of all. She knew he was working late every night on a big case, but had no idea it was her company, or that he was working with Su Jin.

Dal Ja asks why Tae Bong is there, but he’s called away by his boss, and tells her they’ll talk about it later.

That night, Dal Ja waits up for Tae Bong, but he’s not home by midnight, so she goes to Tae Bong’s office, where he’s working late with Su Jin.


Su Jin puts her head on Tae Bong’s shoulder, saying how she missed it. He tells her to get up, that they’re working, but she insists that she’ll just rest for five minutes. Tae Bong doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t do anything, either.

Little do they know that Dal Ja’s watching from the open doorway….

When Tae Bong gets home, Dal Ja’s waiting up. He apologizes for not telling her earlier, but he couldn’t talk about it to anyone. She asks why he didn’t tell her he was working with Su Jin, and he says because he knew she’d be bothered by it. Dal Ja’s upset, but Tae Bong coolly says that even in the future, he can’t talk about the case with her, and he won’t tell her about Su Jin either, because the only thing between him and Su Jin is work. None of Dal Ja’s odd fantasies will happen anyway, so he won’t talk about it, since it’ll just make her feel bad.


Dal Ja’s tired and disappointed, but doesn’t tell him she saw them at the office. She just goes into her room. Tae Bong tells her through the door:

Tae Bong: “I’m sorry, for not being able to make you feel better.”
Dal Ja’s thoughts: “Those aren’t the words I want to hear.”
Tae Bong: “But still, can’t you trust me?”
Dal Ja’s thoughts: “That’s not what I want to hear, Tae Bong.”
Tae Bong: “I wish you would.”
Dal Ja’s thoughts: “What I really want to hear is…”
Tae Bong: “Sleep tight.”

Tae Bong goes into his room and looks at a small box (which could only be a RING!), which he puts away.


Sae Do’s still trying to get on Seon Joo’s father’s good side, and goes to play racquetball with him. Unfortunately, he gets his ass kicked. Dad then invites Sae Do for cocktails, which Sae Do can’t drink (recall his faux pas in Episode 3 when he threw up all over Dal Ja), but he’s unable to decline. So, he goes along with it.

The next day, Sae Do wakes up, hungover. Seon Joo asks why he’s putting himself through all that to keep up with her father; he could have stopped at any point. But Sae Do says he understands her father, looking after his only daughter. He’s the guy who impregnated her, and if Sae Do were in that position, he would’ve broken his legs.

Seon Joo says her father doesn’t hate him. He brought the drunken Sae Do all the way home by himself. If he really hated him, he wouldn’t have bothered with him in the first place. So he can have a little hope.

Dal Ja’s still quietly upset when Eom Ki Joong comes to see her at the office because he’s worried about her. He tells her, I know I’m not very important to you, but you’re important to me. If you ever need me, whenever, come to me.

Dal Ja’s mother meets with Tae Bong because she’s worried about Dal Ja, and asks if something’s wrong between the two of them. She also brings up the subject about getting married. She knows Dal Ja’s feeling stifled at not being able to bring up the topic to him, but her mother would like it if they got married.

Tae Bong’s mother goes to Tae Bong’s office and runs into Su Jin. Su Jin tells Tae Bong’s mother she intends to start over with Tae Bong. She says that for the moment, Tae Bong can’t say anything because of Dal Ja, but she’s sure he’ll come around later. Tae Bong’s mother seems glad at seeing Su Jin again, and invites her to dinner.

However, she also calls Dal Ja and invites her to dinner, so when everyone arrives, it’s an awkward party of six. Dal Ja feels shabby next to Su Jin, who takes on the role of girlfriend, preparing Tae Bong’s food for him and flattering everyone. All Dal Ja can do is sit and eat. Su Jin is very confident and smug that Tae Bong’s family likes her better.

Outside, Su Jin comes up to Dal Ja, and tells her over-sweetly how it must be very difficult for Dal Ja to see how well Su Jin is being treated by Tae Bong’s family. After all, they go way back, and Dal Ja must feel left out. Aw. Dal Ja prays to god to give her the patience not to dump her cup of hot coffee in Su Jin’s face.

Dal Ja’s managing okay until something Su Jin says gets to her: Su Jin says she’s worried Tae Bong might marry Dal Ja out of responsibility when he doesn’t love her.

Feeling like crap, Dal Ja leaves early, asking Tae Bong to let everyone know she was feeling sick. The adults are affronted that Dal Ja left without greeting them. No matter how bad she was feeling, that was bad manners of her.

Tae Bong’s mother sits everyone down and prepares her announcement. She wanted Dal Ja to be there to hear this, but she’ll have to just tell Tae Bong and Su Jin. She wants Tae Bong to sit down with the other family and settle wedding plans next week. She wanted to take her time, but it seems that won’t do. Tae Bong immediately objects, assuming she’s trying to take control and force him to marry Su Jin:

Tae Bong: “I’ll decide when I’ll marry. And with whom.”
Mom: “It’s because I’m afraid Dal Ja’s going to age away, that’s why!”
Tae Bong: “What did you say, mother?”
Mom: “You’ve gone so far as to live with someone’s precious daughter — how much longer are you going stay unmarried and make everyone upset? On top of that, it’s obvious you’ll be going to the office everyday and running into Su Jin. What woman would like that?”

Su Jin is shocked. She objects, but Tae Bong’s mom tells her to give up on him. She isn’t thrilled about Dal Ja either, but if Tae Bong likes her, what can she do?

The rest of the family is in agreement. So long as Dal Ja’s family have no objections, they want to start plans right away.

Meanwhile, Seon Joo’s father comes to the office to say goodbye; he’s going back home to the States. While they’re waiting for Seon Joo, her father tells Sae Do, when Seon Joo was 5, her mother left them. She thought her mother died of an illness, but in actuality, she didn’t die; she ran off with another man. So Seon Joo grew up lonely, and didn’t form strong attachments to people. But when her father sees how she looks at Sae Do, her gaze is warm. Her father tells Sae Do that it might take some time, but don’t give up. Treat her well, and love her. Sae Do promises he will.

Tae Bong goes home, happy and ready to propose, but Dal Ja’s not there. She’s gone to her mother’s place, where she hears that her mother talked to Tae Bong about getting married. Seeing Dal Ja’s horrified reaction, her mother wonders if Tae Bong responded badly, if he doesn’t want to get married, if he said something negative. But Dal Ja just rushes out. She recalls what Su Jin said, about thinking Tae Bong might propose to her out of responsibility.

In front of her office, she runs into Tae Bong. He talked to her mother, Go Soon Ae, Wee Seon Joo, and finally decided to wait for her. Hiding the ring behind his back, he asks how she is, saying, “Actually, I have something to say to you. Um…… I don’t know how to say something like this. So, Dal Ja….

But Dal Ja interrupts him: “I… I’m having a rough time. This is really hard for me, Tae Bong. Should we…. break up? Let’s… break up.”

14 March 15, 2007January 24, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 21

by javabeans

It’s a week of finales! This Wed-Thurs sees the ends of Goong S, Dal Ja’s Spring, AND Surgeon Bong Dalhee. Phew!

Episode 21:”People Unskilled In Love”

Dal Ja tells us, there are a few instances a woman says, “Let’s break up.” It could be to add a little tension in a relationship (to keep it from becoming complacent), or to test the other person’s heart, or because you’ve truly lost the confidence that you can continue being together.

Tae Bong doesn’t understand why Dal Ja wants to break up. Is it his mother? Does Dal Ja think he’s with her because he feels responsible? She says no, it’s because she doesn’t feel certain anymore, of his love, of her love.

It’s because of Dal Ja that Tae Bong gave up his dream and went back to the law firm: “What more do I have to do? What more do I have to do to make you certain?” Dal Ja says knowing that makes it even harder on her. “I even made you give up you dream. I made you return to the law firm you hated.” Tae Bong asks, “Is it harder than breaking up with me?” Dal Ja responds that liking somebody is something you feel in a moment, but reality keeps going.

Dal Ja’s narration tells us that Tae Bong just stood there, staring at her for ten minutes… and then left without a word.

And… the sun still came up. She didn’t get drunk. She didn’t starve. She goes on living, and insists she’s fine. But keeps seeing and hearing Tae Bong everywhere — at home, at work. But she tells herself she’s okay.

At work, she gives a presentation, and nearly breaks down in front of everyone when she sees Tae Bong in her slide presentation. Slide after slide is of him, and she nervously tries to fix the projector…

…until she realizes the projector is fine. It’s her mind that sees Tae Bong everywhere. And she has to finally admit to herself, ” Actually no… I’m not fine.”

Tae Bong, meanwhile, isn’t looking so hot himself. I’m serious, the boy is looking rough. He’s been sleeping in the office for the past couple of days.

Tae Bong: “In your life, have you ever felt moved in your heart before your mind?”
Su Jin: “What do you mean?”
Tae Bong: “The thing you and I have in common is, we both haven’t learned how to accept people into our hearts. Only using your mind to make decisions, or understand people. Only loving with your mind. But Su Jin, that’s not real. I’ve found, your heart has to race for it to be real. Do you understand?”
Su Jin: “So you know how to say those childish things, too?”
Tae Bong: “Truth is simple, and sincerity is childish.”
Su Jin: “Let’s stop. I don’t like this.”
Tae Bong: “You’re not happy living like this, either. Because you’re not happy, you keep wanting to take things. You acting like this with me isn’t love, it’s simply that you want to have something. Isn’t it?”
Su Jin: “You’re really getting to be no fun.”

I think all of Su Jin’s bluster about “fun” actually shows how much Tae Bong’s changed, because he used to be the type to indulge her flirting and silly behavior. But now that he’s felt more for someone, he can’t just treat it lightly like Su Jin, who constantly keeps true emotion at a distance.

Sae Do moves in next door to Seon Joo. She doesn’t understand why he gave up his opportunity to go abroad, but he tells her she’s more important. She says she hasn’t changed her mind about not wanting to get married, and he understands. But he still wants to be with her, to watch her nearby, watch their baby be born. So they don’t have to marry, but they’ll be together. (They’re so cute, talking about the baby, and Sae Do looks after Seon Joo so carefully. Aww.)

Since Sae Do can’t go abroad, Kang Team Manager offers the spot to Dal Ja. Dal Ja is taking some time to consider it, which Soon Ae thinks is ridiculous — what does Tae Bong think about leaving for two years? But Dal Ja tells Soon Ae that she and Tae Bong broke up. Not because she was dumped, but because she lost confidence.

Eom Ki Joong takes Dal Ja out for a drink, having heard that she broke up. He’s actually quite charming, and insightful. He says that he’s wanted to run away in the past, too. But strangely, it’s not when things are going badly — it’s when they’re going well. When things aren’t going smoothly, people tend to want to work things out and find solutions. But when things are going well, they get uneasy, and that prompts them to run away. Ki Joong wonders if that’s what she did.

Just then, a group arrives at that bar, and it’s a bunch of lawyers from Tae Bong’s law firm. Tae Bong sees Dal Ja there with Ki Joong and just stares, stony-faced. Awkward!

Su Jin watches from a distance as Tae Bong and Dal Ja make small talk, and she’s clearly nervous. But Eom Ki Joong (who is awesome!!) senses she’s going to go butt in, and runs interference for the couple.

He does the whole innocent, “Oh my gosh, how clumsy of me! I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there as I poured my entire wineglass in your lap!” It’s heartwarming and you just want to give Ki Joong a big ol’ hug. I’m such a sucker for loyalty and friendship story lines, and this drama always does such a kickass job of showing them in funny, not-too-cheesy ways.

Dal Ja and Tae Bong talk, and it’s awkward and tense and well-acted. (Can I say, this entire episode is beautifully acted. It’s easy to cry buckets and wail and throw things; it’s much more artful to show controlled pain, controlled turbulence.)

They make small talk, until Dal Ja drops the bomb that she’s going abroad. In three weeks. For two years. Tae Bong is shocked.

By the way, nice touch: The song playing the background is the (Beatles) song “Yesterday.” That ain’t no coincidence.

Both mothers feel something’s wrong, but don’t know what’s really going on because their children haven’t told them they’ve broken up. Thinking that they merely had a little incident, the mothers work to patch things up, and it is SO CUTE the way they leap to the defense of the other. Dal Ja’s mom defends Tae Bong, and Tae Bong’s mom defends Dal Ja:

Tae Bong’s mom: “The way I see it, something definitely happened between her and Tae Bong. Tae Bong’s like his father, he’s got a way of making women frustrated.”
Dal Ja’s mom: “No, in my opinion, Dal Ja’s definitely the problem.”
Tae Bong’s mom: “That’s not it! Dal Ja’s not the type to go on overseas study without a reason.”
Dal Ja’s mom: “When did you start taking my daughter’s side?”
Tae Bong’s mom: “To be honest… Well, who’s responsible for Tae Bong going back to the law firm? It’s because of Dal Ja. And it’s because of her that he’s starting to visit us at home again. Dal Ja may be a bit on the old side, but she’s a good kid. She knows when to be quiet, and she knows how to treat me well.”
Dal Ja’s mom: “Tae Bong’s pretty great too. At such a young age, he’s capable and skilled. He’s not like other kids these days. He’s the real thing. I don’t know about other things, but you sure managed to raise a good son.”
Tae Bong’s mom: “Yeah, but if it weren’t for Dal Ja, who knows where he’d be, doing god knows what.”
Dal Ja’s mom: “Without Tae Bong, Dal Ja wouldn’t have had any shot at dating decently.”

So the two moms decide to work together to set everything up themselves. So sweet, and so misguided.

At the family dinner, Dal Ja and Tae Bong are uncomfortable, not realizing that’s what they were summoned for (they were told it was merely dinner with each of their own families). They put a stop to it, and say that they’re not getting married. Dal Ja and Tae Bong rise and tell the adults to enjoy their dinner, but they’ll be leaving early.

Dal Ja and Tae Bong awkwardly decide to go have dinner together, and afterward, Tae Bong asks her if she’s really planning to go abroad for two years. And if it’s really in three weeks. Dal Ja says yes.

Tae Bong can’t help but ask one more thing: “Did I really make things that hard for you? So much that you wanted to break up?”

Dal Ja says it wasn’t because of him, it was because of her. She’d always dreamt big romantic fantasies, but in truth, she doesn’t have any experience. She says, “I didn’t have any of the answers to my own love. How to do in this situation, in that situation. If this is right, if that’s right. Is this really love? I really wanted to love, but I didn’t know how to do it properly.”

Tae Bong asks, “So, you ran away?” Dal Ja replies, “I’ve spent too much time, loving just on my own. So I know how to love one-sidedly, but loving with two people, I was too clumsy. That’s my reason.”

As Dal Ja walks off, she thinks: “Before I met him, I thought I knew all there was about love. Since I’ve known him, I’ve realized I don’t know anything about love. As I’m leaving him now, I thought, ‘Now I understand a little what love really is.’

So Dal Ja goes on with her preparations to leave, packing her things and letting out her apartment, thinking back on all the memories she had there. Dal Ja’s co-workers throw her a farewell party.

As Dal Ja takes the mic to give a speech, she almost loses composure, as she thanks everyone for the last eight years. Seon Joo steps in and convey’s Dal Ja’s faltering words (“You were going to say, ‘Everyone, thank you and I love you,’ right?”), and tells Dal Ja on behalf of everyone that they all love her and are grateful for her too. Chae Rim is really good in this scene. God, they’re killing me with all these stirring, teary moments. So much more moving than big theatrics.

Even Crazy Wife shows up, remarkably less crazy than she’s been. She assures Ki Joong she came because Dal Ja invited her (not to stalk Ki Joong). They both muse how nice and good a person Dal Ja is. And Ki Joong thanks his wife for the tulips — recall that he never saw her cleaning his apartment, and she never told him about it, so he just knows it was her by his instinct. She smiles. These crazy kids just might work things out.

Oh, and Kang Team Manager gives a special performance in Dal Ja’s honor: “I Will Survive.” It’s awful and tacky and great.

At the merger negotiation for Handa Home Shopping, Su Jin is wrapping things up when Tae Bong speaks up. Although the deal is nearly complete, Tae Bong tells his honest opinion: Handa Home Shopping is not in as severe a situation as they believe, and a merger is not necessary.

(This is stuff that Su Jin and Tae Bong have discussed while working on the case, in Episode 20 particularly, but I assume it wasn’t beneficial to their firm to pursue that line of action. They were going to recommend the merger and go ahead.)

Su Jin takes Tae Bong aside and demands to know if it’s because of Dal Ja. But he says that his conscience wouldn’t let him continue; he’s not one to lie about something like this — even if it weren’t for Dal Ja, he would have said the same thing. Su Jin can’t understand, and Tae Bong says: “Sorry for ruining your work. I guess I’m just not suited for this. Then, I end here.”

And he walks out. Woohoo! (I am pretty sure (though not positive) that Tae Bong is quitting. And I’m glad they chose to do it this way — in the end, he isn’t deciding his career based on another person’s desires. He’s acting on his own, and come to the realization on his own terms.)

At work Dal Ja packs her stuff, and as she’s leaving, she runs into Tae Bong, who’s with a few other lawyers. They walk toward each other, tense, but pass each other like strangers.

Dal Ja wills herself not to turn around and look back (although Tae Bong does look back) and walks off, trying to pull herself together. Tae Bong sees her leaving, and chases after her.

He grabs her and kisses her without any warning, and then he tells her:

Tae Bong: “I’m sorry. But… no matter how I look at it… I can’t end things with you. So don’t go. Don’t go anywhere.”
Dal Ja: “Tae Bong.”
Tae Bong: “I said don’t go, so don’t go!”
Dal Ja: “Tae Bong.”
Tae Bong: “I love you. I said… I love you. Don’t you understand?”
Dal Ja: “Oh my god. I’m 33 years old, and I’m hearing those words for the first time in my life. Those words, ‘I love you.’

92 March 16, 2007January 24, 2016

Dal Ja’s Spring: Episode 22 (FINAL)

by javabeans

Episode 22: “Spring Comes Again, Flowers Bloom Again!”

If I had to sum up Dal Ja’s Spring’s last episode in one word, it would be “lovely.” So many sweet, funny, lovely moments! It made me laugh and cry, but did so without exaggerating any overly wrought drama, which I appreciated.

As we see a montage of all the scenes that have brought us thus far with Dal Ja and Tae Bong, Tae Bong narrates:

“That’s how we met… At first, I thought she was just an old maid clinging stubbornly to her pride. But… being together became more and more fun. And she’d get mad easily, too. She might come flying at you with her fists, but in actuality, she was more warmhearted than anyone. And as time passed, I kept wanting to see her… to be with her… “

And we see that it’s two years later, 2009, and Tae Bong is telling his mat-seon date about Dal Ja. (If you’ve seen a lot of kdramas, you’ll already know this, but a mat-seon is a formal blind date, usually arranged by parents, introducing two people with the hopes that they will marry.)

The date wonders, did Tae Bong just let her go? Didn’t he ask her not to leave?

And we’re back where we left off at the end of episode 21:

Tae Bong: “I love you. Don’t you understand?”
Dal Ja: “Thank you for saying that. So once in my life, I was loved. I’m so glad that it was with you… I won’t tell you to wait. And I won’t say that I’ll return to you either.”
Tae Bong: “Dal Ja.”
Dal Ja: “Let’s not make any promises, or any guarantees. And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that our feelings right now won’t change in two years. If I tied you down with those promises, it would be my selfish greed… That one phrase you just told me is plenty for me. Those were the greatest words of my life… I love you, Tae Bong.”

Back in the present (2009), Tae Bong tells his date that he only came to the mat-seon because his mother pressured him, but he felt it was only polite to tell her why he’s not interested in meeting anyone. She asks him if he’s had any contact with Dal Ja, and he says he only received one postcard in two years. The woman wonders if he’s been waiting all this time for Dal Ja, and Tae Bong says, “I want to try believing in what she believes in.”

As we wonder what he means by that, we see the postcard Dal Ja sent him. You can’t read it well here, but it says: “If it’s fate… maybe?”

Meanwhile, we catch up with everyone else:

Seon Joo arrives, as glamorous as ever, for her first day back at work with her and Sae Do’s baby, Dong Hee. She’s fiercely overprotective but dotes on the baby… and snaps at the office workers when they say what a cute boy he is. Because Dong Hee’s a girl. Ha!

 
Tae Bong’s father and grandfather have a great relationship…

 
Tae Bong’s mother frequently goes to play Go-Stop with Dal Ja’s mom and grandmother…

And Dal Ja’s mother and grandmother have a lovely conversation when Grandma tries to set up Mom on a blind date herself. Mom’s not that interested, but understands that Grandma wants someone to look after her, instead of being stuck taking care of her old mother-in-law forever.

Gran: “Aren’t you tired, taking care of such an old woman?”
Mom: “Aren’t you tired, looking after such a unsociable person like me?”
Gran: “Why would I be tired? With a daughter-in-law like you.”
Mom: “Same with me. Why do you say that to me when I’ve got a mother-in-law like you? Enough with that. If you continue, I’ll really be disappointed.”
Gran: “It’s because I feel shameless.” (i.e., sense of honor has gone)
Mom: “Rather than any man, you’re much more reliable and comfortable to me. To me, mother, you mean more than a husband, a friend, or a lover. Don’t you know?”

 
And with that, Dal Ja returns.

Tae Bong is out on the Seoul streets when he sees Dal Ja off in the distance. He goes through the busy traffic trying to catch up to her, but keeps missing her. Finally, he has to give up, dejected, and goes into work. (I’ll have more theme-related stuff to say on this later.)

At work, Tae Bong is what appears to be an assistant chef at a fancy restaurant. The workers gossip about the “Wednesday Man” who’s on yet another mat-seon date. He comes in every Wednesday with a different woman (therefore he’s always unsuccessful — the guys think he’s completely sleazy), and the chef jokes that he’s thinking of providing the guy’s 50th meal for free.

Tae Bong looks out into the restaurant and sees the man’s date… she with the curly hair and dark nail polish… But rather than rush out, he just smiles as he watches from a distance.

Meanwhile, Dal Ja’s barely paying attention to her date in favor of her food. She asks the guy if he knows her age, and he assures her he does — she’s 33. Dal Ja corrects him; that was her age two years ago. The guy breaks out into a sweat realizing she’s actually 35, and retreats to the bathroom, where he complains to his mother that she got the age wrong. She’s a whole year older than him! How can this be??

Tae Bong overhears the conversation, and when the guy comes out to wash his hands (thank god; it’s a pet peeve when they skip that part in dramas. Or in real life, for that matter), Tae Bong poses a rhetorical question:

Tae Bong: “There are two women. One’s 28 but looks 35. The other is 35, but looks 28. Which would you choose?”
Sleaze, with furrowed brow: “Hmm…. That’s a difficult question.”
Tae Bong: “So I see, that’s a difficult question to you?”
Sleaze: “What’s the answer?”
Tae Bong: “Whichever woman you choose, age is unimportant. What’s important are your feelings. That’s the answer.”

Booyah!

Dal Ja, sitting alone while her date’s off in a tizzy over her age, receives a free cake from the server. The server tells her that the cook said Dal Ja looks like someone who’d enjoy cake. Accompanying the cake is a card.


“If it’s fate… Maybe!!”

 
Dal Ja tears up reading the note, and looks around, but no Tae Bong in sight. When her date comes back to the table, Dal ja’s gone. He grumbles to the server that it’s shallow of her, just coming for a free meal. The (female) server tells him, with an edge to her voice (hee), that the lady already took care of the bill. (So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, sexist pig. You know she was thinking that.)

Dal Ja is welcomed back to Handa Home Shopping. It’s all very lovely, to see her greeted with such open arms by everyone, who’s glad to have her back. Everyone’s also been promoted a level, so now Dal Ja’s the section head, and her former title is now held by one of her juniors.

They’re working with Eom Ki Joong on a new brand launch. She reunites with Soon Ae, too, who’s now pregnant with her third baby. She’s also looking really lovely herself.

Dal Ja talks with her mother, who asks carefully if she isn’t going to contact Tae Bong now that she’s back. Dal Ja says that if they’re meant to end up together, they’ll find each other eventually. Everyone has their time.

Dal Ja: “If Tae Bong and I are meant to meet, then someday, without even trying, we’ll meet. I believe that, mom.”
Mom: “Aren’t you worried about your age?”
Dal Ja: “Am I aging alone? If I age a year, so will he.”

And I think this ties back thematically into Tae Bong frantically trying to find Dal Ja on the Seoul streets. He worked himself up, anxious at the thought of not finding her, and wound up completely dejected… And then he walked into work and there she was. Simple and easy. I like to think that’s why Tae Bong didn’t run right to her immediately, too, because he said he wanted to try believing what Dal Ja believed. That if they are meant to meet again, it’ll happen, and when it does it’ll be simple and natural. (I don’t know how much I believe that in real life, but for drama purposes, it’s a lovely sentiment.)

Meanwhile, Tae Bong’s working hard — he found new space for lease, and is busy getting it in order to set up his own restaurant.

While he’s working, his chef friend brings by a card for him. Dal Ja had dropped by and asked for the cook who’d given her the cake, only to hear he’d quit two weeks ago. The card Dal Ja sends is an invitation to the launch of Handa’s new line. It says, “I invite you to spring!” (Meaning the spring collection, but it also carries, of course, the double meaning with the concept of life’s “spring.”)

The senior asks who the woman is, and Tae Bong answers, “She’s my fate.” The guy can’t believe Tae Bong believes in stuff like fate, and Tae Bong hardly can believe it himself.

As for Sae Do and Seon Joo, for the most part, they’re happy together, but Sae Do still wants to marry her. Seon Joo remains resolute in her intention not to marry. She doesn’t see much difference in how they’re living now, but marriage means something special to Sae Do, and he wants to share in it with her because he loves her. Seon Joo overhears him talking about it to Dal Ja, and perhaps realizes for the first time just how much it means to him.

So, after their big spring launch event, Seon Joo goes to Sae Do and, in her customary forward style, tells him: “I hate grand, showy things. Let’s just call both sets of parents and a few of our closest friends. I won’t wear a wedding dress either, I’ll wear what I want. That’s okay, right?” Sae Do’s speechless, so she continues: “Yes, I’m proposing. Let’s get married.”

Sae Do’s in disbelief, so Seon Joo tells him, “I love you.”
Sae Do: “What?”
Seon Joo: “I love you.”
Sae Do: “Can you say it… just one more time?”
Seon Joo: “I love you. I love you. I love you… I love you.”

And under those same fireworks, Dal Ja thinks to herself, “At one time, I thought that when my twenties ended, my youth [the springtime of my life] would be over. But even at 35, my youth hasn’t ended yet, and spring has come back and found me. And also… He once again drew near to me.”

He takes her to his shop, and treats her to his very first lunchbox. He waits nervously as she tries it, and she deliberately takes her time tasting. Finally, she tells him it’s good, and Tae Bong, relieved and happy, kisses her on the forehead.

Dal Ja looks at him in surprise, then after a moment, grabs his shirtfront and pulls him in for a kiss.

“There was nothing like an end, or conclusion. And so, there was no ‘happily ever after’ either. There was only, ‘Every day, we start today together again’….”

And Tae Bong’s revised postcard says: “If it’s fate… It must be!!”

 

And we get a final rundown of many of our recurring characters, like Eom Ki Joong’s ex-wife, who has her own pie business…

 
Tae Bong’s pretty-man friend, still working his clothing shop…

 
Announcer chick, whose name I’ve already forgotten, who appears to be auditioning for a film…

 
Hee Yeon, who starts a new job (perhaps her first ever)….

 
Even Soo Jin, who gets asked out by a co-worker who isn’t deterred by her lack of interest… which of course sparks her interest… (haha)….

 
And Dal Ja’s co-workers goof off with a song (and dance!) about the return of Dal Ja’s spring……

 
And there we have it! Dal Ja’s Spring.

This was such a great show… It was funny, heartwarming, meaningful, subtle… and without being heavy-handed or overly dramatic. It was realistic but still fulfilled our romantic fantasies, and gave us a satisfying, lovely send-off — even if there is no “Happily Ever After”!

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