[2010] Secret Garden Drama Recap by dramabeans

189 November 13, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 1

by javabeans

I’d been wary of getting excited about Secret Garden, because it’s so easy for hyped dramas to let you down, even when you love the cast. So it was with relief that I found the first episode light and funny, with a bustling pace and solid comic acting from the cast.

In addition to A-list leads Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won, who are great, the drama is produced by a “hitmaker” team, the duo behind City Hall, On Air, Lovers in Paris, and Lovers in Prague. Despite the creds, I was cautious of writer Kim Eun-sook, because I have found her writing a little too glib and soulless for my liking in the past. Secret Garden is full of her trademark super-speed banter, but this time I was swept up in the zippiness because the characters are so engaging. She also drops in a number of pop-culture references, some of which involve the stars of her own previous dramas, which are fun to spot.

Secret Garden is off to a promising start with a strong 17.2% premiere. Granted, its competition wasn’t the strongest (MBC aired the news and KBS’s King Geunchogo is just getting started on its 70-episode run. They recorded 12.2% and 10.3%.). But perhaps it’s tapping in to an overlooked audience; it’s been a while since a romantic-comedy miniseries aired on the weekend, which I’ve always found curious — the viewership is there! Not everyone wants to see a million episodes of sageuk or family dramas, just sayin’…


Secret Garden OST – “바라본다” (Looking at you) by Yoon Sang-hyun. This song is sung by Yoon Sang-hyun’s character and gets a fair bit of play in this episode.
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For the first half of the episode, KIM JOO-WON (Hyun Bin) pretty much ticks off all the boxes on the checklist of the Cold K-drama Hero: rich, arrogant, brusque, little tolerance for incompetence, fashionable, etc. He runs the LOEL department store, where employees grumble behind his back at his schedule; he only comes to the office two days a week. But they can’t really complain because he’s successful, and an exacting employer; he demands perfection from his executive team.

The stereotypical hero is enough to make you sigh, “Another one? Oh well, I’ll watch ’cause it’s Hyun Bin…” But halfway through the episode we get to see the other side of Joo-won, and it makes him suddenly a LOT more interesting. But we’ll address that when we get there.

GIL RA-IM (Ha Ji-won) — name pronounced like a cross between “lime” and “rhyme” — likewise has a very interesting dichotomy to her personality, which I’ll talk about more later. Ra-im is a hard-working stuntwoman for action movies, and since most of her colleagues at the action school are men, most of the time she acts like one of the guys.

She’s assertive and strong-willed in her personal life, but at work she is curiously quiet; she often holds her head down and accepts abuse (from the spoiled actress she stunts for) or harsh rebuke (from the director) even when such treatment is undeserved. I suspect that she’s worked so hard to get where she is that she fears that she’d lose it by pushing back, and also feels that as a woman in her field, she has to work extra-hard to prove herself.

Thankfully, she’s got her hot boss on her side, IM JONG-SOO (Philip Lee), the director of the action school who sees her for her worth. The fact that he’s in lurve with her is no doubt a big factor.

Then there’s Joo-won’s cousin and hyung, whose name is apparently OSKA and not Oscar — although what the heck kind of name is Oska? — played by Yoon Sang-hyun. He’s a famous singer with a particularly strong fanbase in Japan.

The two cousins have a competitive relationship, though I think it’s more on the side of Joo-won, who always has to one-up his hyung. Oska’s real name is CHOI WOO-YOUNG, and as part of his petty rivalry, Joo-won chooses to call him by that name rather than Oska.

YOON SEUL (Kim Sa-rang) takes her place as second lead with gusto; already I can feel that it’s gonna be a lot of fun to hate her. She’s a well-educated CF director, armed with a prestigious family background and the snobby, entitled attitude to match. I can’t wait to watch her downfall. Seul will have relationships with both Oska and Joo-won, but for the details I’ll turn to the recap:


We start out with a lush, extravagant landscape straight out of an Austen novel, zooming across the well-kept grounds to the enormous mansion where our hero, Kim Joo-won, resides.

His rich, successful celebrity cousin Oska lives in the same environs, and as he heads into the city that morning, Joo-won can’t escape witnessing Oska making out with his actress girlfriend at the side of the road. Sigh. Typical Oska behavior.

Also typical is how Oska sends off his dim girlfriend, breaking up with her in his cavalier fashion, saying basically, “It’s been nice, see ya!” She does not take this well.

Joo-won meets his mat-seon date at a museum, and Seul does her best to impress him with her looks, smarts, background. Only, he’s not very impressionable and shows little interest. You’d think she’d be offended at his rudeness, but his words are just veiled enough that she’s not sure if he’s being insulting or saying something she doesn’t understand.

As they walk through the museum and have coffee, Seul notes his detachment and remarks that he’s free to leave. She’s not interested in an arranged marriage with a reluctant partner, either.

I’m sure she means to sound liberated and free-thinking, but to her surprise Joo-won takes the opposite tack, scoffing at the idea that love is worth throwing away everything else for, especially if you ultimately end up with someone “beneath” your level whom you can’t even talk to. What, does he think marrying below social class is like cross-species mating? I begin to see why he’s single.

Seul is used to being fawned over, so she finds Joo-won’s cold rejection intriguing. Chatting in the fancy VIP lounge of his department store with one of her spineless toadies, she’s hardly set down by his dismissal at all. Seul is a snob of the worst order, already fancying herself his wife, and casts a derisive eye around her at all the other social-climbing wannabes in the lounge. She has already mentally taken her place as the First Lady of LOEN department store. They say something about counting eggs and chickens and spilled milk, don’t they?

She also had a past relationship with Oska, which she intends to keep a secret from Joo-won.

The ritzy ladies of the VIP lounge burst into a chorus of murmurs and dirty looks when a woman enters, and you can practically see the signs lighting up above the well-coifed heads that are smoking with indignation: SHE IS NOT ONE OF US.

Seul stands up for all the oppressed rich ladies forced to endure this affront to their delicate sensibilities and confronts Ra-im, who dares to inflict her off-the-rack clothing and tough-girl looks upon them. Seul berates the waitress for being lax with their strict VIP policy and snatches her nametag to have her reported.

Contrary to my expectation, Ra-im doesn’t fight or talk back, but quickly offers to leave. She’s a friend of the waitress and, as a former employee, was let through to the lounge. Ra-im even tries to approach Seul afterward to plead for her friend’s nametag back, but before she has a chance, Seul’s friend is mugged.

Ra-im isn’t particularly inclined to go after the thief, but the girl launches into a bout of hysterics, and Ra-im sees that this might help her case. She takes off on bike after the mugger (who jumped into a car), going through a series of BMX-style stunts like jumping stairs and rails.

She fights off the gang of thieves, retrieves the stolen handbag, and returns it. She doesn’t even get a grudging thanks in response; rather, Seul snatches it and tells her friend to make sure nothing was taken. How nice of the drama to make it extra-stunningly clear that we are meant to hate her, just in case the previous scenes were keeping you on the fence.

Ra-im asks for her friend’s nametag back, which Seul says she threw into the trash. Fed up with Seul’s attitude, Ra-im orders HER to go through the trash to get it, since she’s the one who put it there.

Seul was lying, and rather than rifling through the garbage, she gives up the pin from her purse and declares that they’re square. Ra-im has a pretty fantastic response: She grabs a used tissue from the friend and throws it into Seul’s handbag, saying that she’s putting the garbage into the real trash can.

Given her assertiveness above, it’s interesting to see how reserved Ra-im is at work, accepting the insults of the movie’s star, CHAE-RIN, whom she stunt-doubles for. Who happens to be the girl Oska just dumped.

Ra-im listens to Oska’s music to console herself, and the attentive action director Jong-soo knows both that Chae-rin was being bitchy and that it upsets Ra-im, even though Ra-im insists that she’s fine. The stuntmen assure her that it’s just because Chae-rin’s jealous that she’s prettier, which is, I’ll admit, pretty sweet of them (even though part of me balks at the belittling nature of that statement — as though the only reason women are mean is because someone else is prettier. We’re such bitches that way).

Ra-im doesn’t like being pitied, and cutely responds in a way designed to ward off sympathy: by joking that this is the burden of being born so pretty, sigh, but what can she do about it?

Interestingly, it seems that Ra-im does have an inner girly side, but she keeps it covered up with her tomboyish attitude. For instance, someone compliments her on a job well done, and she accepts it with pleasure, one foot tucked behind the other in a little-girl pose of aw-shucks bashfulness. Also interesting is how Jong-soo clearly sees her very much as a woman and treats her as such, although she’s oblivious. (Also: Philip Lee is so hot.)

Oh no, I can feel it already — Second Lead Syndrome — because Jong-soo is already showing himself to be the kind of guy who’ll never get the girl although he deserves her more than anyone else. Example: He thinks of Ra-im’s feelings first, even when that makes his own invisible. Swoon.

He gives her tickets to an Oska concert, knowing she’s a huge fan, and puts the tickets into her locker. So I totally awwed when Ra-im ends up bringing Jong-soo with the extra ticket, even though he told her to bring a friend. While she looks up admiringly up at the stage, Jong-soo looks admiringly at her.

Joo-won’s here too, though bored out of his mind. He goes on about how Oska is a sucky singer, but his sister (who dragged him here) warns that if he doesn’t behave, she’s going to tell Oska oppa not to renew his contract with their department store.

Seul is also here, looking wistful, which I suppose supports the idea that she does, technically, have a heart. I remain skeptical, however.

In addition to his lax work schedule, another reason Joo-won’s employees complain is his pretentious insistence on taking the escalators. (Employees are supposed to bow respectfully to the CEO whenever they come across his path. If he took the elevator, they could cut out the obsequious fanfare that welcomes his arrivals, but he opts for the grand entrances.)

One matter of business: renewal of Oska’s contract as their main model. Joo-won doesn’t like doing it, but he knows that for the company’s sake, he’s gotta suck it up and appeal to his cousin.

Part of the problem, aside from the rivalry issue, is that Oska has gotten conceited ever since ascending to the “Hallyu star” ranks. Currently, he’s trying to find a director for his new music video, but nobody will work with him because of his diva reputation.

The other part of the problem is the contract fee, which the men discuss over drinks. Joo-won points out that it’s not a matter of money, but pride. He won’t give Oska a pay increase, while Oska refuses to lower his rate. Ego, meet impasse.

Oska’s attention is seized by a singer taking the stage, whose performance of Clazziquai’s “Dance” has him mesmerized. (The profile gives the singer’s name as Sun, a 23-year-old genius musician — gah, what’s with all the geniuses in Korean dramas? Can’t a guy simply be skilled without being a prodigy all the frickin’ time?)

Chae-rin’s still peeved about being dumped so shabbily — how dare Oska refuse her calls when he answers those by After Cool Cool’s Unee? LOL. Pop-culture jokes, you always make me laugh. Chae-rin threatens to reveal their relationship to the reporters who are here to cover the film.

This puts Chae-rin in a foul mood, so when she reluctantly practices for the upcoming action scene, she makes an angry swipe in the air with her sword — straight at Ra-im. They’re thrown off-balance, and Ra-im lurches forward to grab her, but they both crash into a pile of props.

Chae-rin shrieks over a teeny scratch on her thumb while Ra-im has suffered the brunt of impact, landing on glass and cutting her arm. But rather than cause trouble, she covers up with a jacket and apologizes for the accident.

The director yells at Ra-im for injuring the actress, while Jong-soo gets indignant on her behalf. When the director threatens to fire them, Jong-soo declares that he’ll withdraw his team from the movie — he can’t keep his crew safe on a set like this.

Spurred by Chae-rin’s threat to release photos as proof of their relationship, Oska calls Joo-won to beg a favor — find Chae-rin on set and stall her for a few hours. He can’t go because he’s about to record an appearance on Chocolate (SBS call-out! The talk show is hosted by a two-time star in writer Kim’s dramas, Kim Jung-eun).

Joo-won doesn’t want to do it, but Oska’s so desperate that he agrees to sign the contract renewal — and is coerced into signing for free, ha!

This cuts Joo-won’s session short with his psychiatrist, and we learn that he’s currently taking pills to deal with a debilitating fear. Sounds like an acute case of claustrophobia, as merely riding an elevator renders him unable to breathe — which is when we start to see that Joo-won’s outer shell is just that, a mask put on to cover up his soft emotional underbelly. He insists on taking the escalator because he’d rather be called haughty than the truth of his fear being known.

Can you see where this plan is going to go awry? Joo-won gets to the set and asks for the actress Chae-rin, and is directed toward Ra-im instead, since they’re dressed the same.

Joo-won opens with, “You know Oska, right?” He drives them to the hotel where they first met, and Joo-won assumes it’s clear that they’re going to a hotel used for the lovers’ rendezvous. On the other hand, Ra-im thinks to the first time she actually DID meet Oska, in a hotel for a press junket.

Upon hearing the suite number, Joo-won curses up a storm. We don’t understand why until they get there and he eyes the elevator warily, and makes up the excuse that he’s not the “kind of guy” who wants to be seen riding the elevator with a woman going up to the hotel room. Basically it’s hooey and he sounds like a square, but it’s all to avoid riding up in that box o’ death, and instead he takes to the stairs.

While waiting in the suite, Ra-im thinks back to that first meeting, when she was playing the double for Kim Sun-ah (another call-out! Kim, you will recall, was in writer Kim’s City Hall). Alas, no cameo.

The following conversation is a silly mix of double entendres and miscontrued meanings as Joo-won and Ra-im have two entirely different conversations with each other.

For instance, Joo-won asks how long she has been “meeting” (dating) Oska. Ra-im takes it at face value and says it’s been a while. Joo-won asks how much money she usually takes, meaning as payoff, because Chae-rin is demanding money as settlement.

When Joo-won asks about the photos she shot (he means Chae-rin’s sexy photos), Ra-im thinks he’s asking for her “appearance fee” as a stunt double. He smirks because it sounds like a flowery euphemism, and his eyes widen at her answer: She gets paid extra for outdoor and rural appearances, since rooftops and forests are all the rage right now. My inner twelve-year-old is howling with laughter, I’ll have you know.

It gets even better: Ra-im offers that car scenes pay the most, because they’re the most difficult. He nods, “Sure, those are hard. It’s uncomfortable and cramped. But the men like it.” (SNERK.) He’s amazed at her boldness and lack of shame as she agrees readily, “Yes, men like things that are speedy and stimulating.”

Ra-im finally catches on that he thinks she’s Chae-rin, then calls him a country bumpkin for making such a silly mistake.

She gets a call from the AD about their afternoon shoot, so she offers to bring Joo-won to Chae-rin. But if they wanna make it in time, he’d better let her drive.

Really, this scene is worth it just for Hyun Bin’s girlish screams.

They make it back in time for Joo-won to get to the press conference before Chae-rin confirms anything. He’s able to urge her into silence by threatening further scandal, and that takes care of that.

On his way out, Joo-won catches a glimpse of Ra-im in the thick of a fighting scene, and the sight of her awesome skills has him impressed, and even a bit smitten.

He waits around to catch her after she’s done filming, and talks to her in his blunt, inquisitive way. He isn’t being purposely rude when he asks why she’s doing physical work, but his lack of tact comes out rudely as he wonders if that’s because she’s not smart. (She kicks him in response.)

He’s like a little boy, saying random stuff to keep the conversation going, and he thinks she’s faking her arm injury — until he sees that she’s trailing blood.

She’s trying to hide it from the crew and hushes him, but he’s appalled that she’s taking such poor care of herself. She’s feverish and weak, and he insists on checking her in to the hospital.

On their way in, Joo-won makes it clear it’s not that he’s interested in her, and that he’s just acting out of basic ethics and blah blah blah, which just sounds like a bunch of excuses to me. He even calls his own doctor to tend to her, which amazes Dr. Lee because it’s so unlike him. Plus, she’s a psychiatrist.

When Ra-im’s phone rings (it’s from “My boss”), Joo-won answers, and Jong-soo rushes over after hearing what happened to her. Meanwhile, Joo-won notices that Ra-im is wearing, of all things, Oska socks. Affronted, he pulls them off her feet and tosses them in the trash.

Jong-soo arrives just as Ra-im wakes up, furious at her for ignoring her injury — he’s seen too many people hurt themselves this way — but also peeved that another guy is here. And when she sways in dizziness, he’s too slow to catch her because Joo-won gets to her first. Jong-soo rectifies this by shoving Joo-won aside to carry Ra-im out.

Joo-won follows them outside and watches as Ra-im maintains strict formality with her boss, saying she’s fine and doesn’t need him to take her home. Jong-soo relents and tells her to take a taxi home, but she walks instead.

Joo-won drives slowly, keeping his gaze fixed on Ra-im trudging along, and finally pulls over.

In his blunt way, he asks if she was hoping the director would come back for her. Or maybe she has no money. If that’s the case, he’ll take her home. He even offers to put up the convertible top, which he’d refused to do earlier.

Just then, a van screeches up and out pops Oska, who’s dying to know what happened with Chae-rin. He starts in on his usual bickering with Joo-won, until he takes notice of the pretty woman standing with him and reverts to glib words, saying that he recognizes her eyes.

Joo-won sighs that he’s in playboy mode again, but it seems Oska really does remember her. It was on the film Welcome to Dongjakgoo (LOL) where she was the double for Kim Sun-ah’s level 10 civil servant (which was the rank of Kim’s City Hall character). He even remembers her name, and declares, “Gil Ra-im!”

Ra-im all but melts into a fan-worshippy puddle at his feet, touched to be remembered by her star crush. Oska smiles at her in full charm mode, while Joo-won gapes as though to grumble, You have gotta be kidding me.


The goofy fantasy premise — of body-swapping — was enough to get me interested in this drama, but it’s the characters who are keeping me invested. They’re even more winning than I’d been expecting — although, to be fair, I was telling myself to keep my expectations down for fear of being disappointed.

What I dig the most is the abundant sense of humor, and how the actors are really going for it. Not that I doubted Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won were up to the task, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen them both being so full-on comedic; they’ve both done a lot of dramatic, serious stuff in recent years.

One great recurring bit: Joo-won’s sparkly tracksuit, which I’d snarked on previously without expecting the drama to do so as well. It’s a running gag that it makes him look like a tacky ajusshi, and each time he defends himself, saying, “This jacket isn’t what you think it is!” (It’s basically a sparkly Members Only jacket, aka cool only in the ’80s, and even then that’s a matter of debate.) He even pulls out the label and goes on about how it was hand-stitched in Italy, but nobody cares, which makes it all the funnier because of how very much HE cares.

But what I love most about these characters is how both leads have these contradictory sides. Joo-won initially seems cold and uppity and stereotypical, but when we look closer it becomes clear that it’s all an act — a big attempt to overcompensate for his insecurities. He doesn’t want rumors to spread about his deathly fear of the elevator, because that would be the worst thing ever — even though I bet everyone would like him a lot more if they knew. In fact, his whole persona has been crafted to cover up his weaknesses, like his refusal to come to the office more.

I also like that he’s not the beat-around-the-bush type. He doesn’t try to be slick or cool when he tells Ra-im he wants to drive her home. It’s tantamount to a frank admission of interest. And when she balks, he responds that he doesn’t need a reason to take her home other than wanting to do it. And he wants to do it.

Then there’s Ra-im, who becomes shy and bashful when she’s complimented. At first I thought Ha Ji-won was purposely deepening her voice for the role, but now I think it’s Ra-im who’s purposely deepening it to act like one of the boys. She dresses casually and doesn’t put an effort into looking feminine, but she does seem wistful when she overhears the director telling Chae-rin that all she has to do is look pretty. It’s not much of a compliment, but it’s like she’d like a chance to be pretty herself, too.

So: He’s unexpectedly boyish, she’s unexpectedly girlish. It’s very cute.


233 November 15, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 2

by girlfriday

I’m really digging the vibe of this show, which is a total surprise, given that it was promoted in such an ambiguous way, claiming to be of seventeen different genres. But I pretty much love the characters from the get-go, because they’re a breath of fresh air in the k-drama landscape. I especially love that Joo-won is a neurotic freakshow. Funny Binnie, you’re back! We’ve missed you!


Ra-im practically melts to hear Oska say her name, and Joo-won can’t hide his petty annoyance. I do love this lifetime rivalry between cousins. Such great fodder for conflict, and silliness.

Joo-won distracts him with the dangling carrot of his impending scandal with the actress ex-girlfriend, only when he finally gets rid of his cousin and turns around, Ra-im has already walked onto a bus without a word. Joo-won is left pouting alone in the street.

Ra-im swoons all the way home, while listening to Oska’s songs, and tells her roommate that she particularly liked that Oska called her “cool” rather than “pretty.” (It’s also a word that can mean “handsome,” used more often to describe men.) Interesting. It sounds like something you’d say to convince yourself that second place was just as good, even though as a stuntwoman, that’s totally the thing you’d want to hear…from everyone except the guy you had a crush on.

Oska follows Joo-won home to confirm that the scandal was laid to rest. Joo-won strategically uses this to get Oska’s signature on the department store contract, landing him smack dab in a throng of screaming fans at LOEL, lined up to get an autograph. Joo-won smirks, having gotten exactly what he wanted, but especially enjoying Oska’s personal agony.

He clashes with the head of his executive staff again, and later decides he’ll find a way to fire him. Apparently it’s not something he can do himself, because his plan? “I’m going to tattle to Mom.” Hahaha.

As he waits downstairs for his car, Joo-won imagines Ra-im standing there next to him, and when the thought passes, she disappears into the wind. It’s a nice little whimsical beat to show that he’s thinking of her.

Seul, our bratty second lead, shows up to offer up her services as the director for Oska’s new music video. She’s clearly got an elaborate plan to make his life miserable, making his manager hesitate, but it’s not like they have other options. She says that she doesn’t want to remain in Oska’s memory as his first love, since they’ll be family soon anyway (meaning her plan to marry Joo-won). Wow, you skipped like thirty steps in that logic train, but I’ll give you points for crazed delusions of grandeur.

Back at home, Joo-won half-heartedly agrees to go on another mat-seon, all the while imagining Ra-im walking along beside him. He goes about his day, trying not to think of her, which only makes him obsess.

He finally turns to imaginary Ra-im and starts talking to her, annoyed that she keeps wearing the same clothes. Ha. He’s actually a little bit nuts. I love that!

He starts to argue that she’s not his type at all, but then she suddenly appears on the table, dressed to the nines, and he starts getting flustered. He admits to fantasizing about her looking like this (which he is admitting to his own fantasy, mind you), but insists that she’s not at all up to his standards.

Imaginary Ra-im goes through a series of changes every time he adds a new trait he’s looking for, from bookish to chic to childlike, unleashing an oppa-pout-wiggle that basically explodes Joo-won’s brain. He once again repeats the rhyme that he clearly uses as a coping mechanism to clear his head. (More on this later.)

He finally goes to ask Oska if he has Ra-im’s number, which he doesn’t, so he gets Chae-rin’s number instead. He meets with her to score Ra-im’s number, who he describes as “acts like a man,” and “looks like someone who makes you keep thinking of her.” Haha. As if it’s her fault that he’s obsessed.

Also, how much do I love that a drama hero is actually ACTIVELY searching for a girl’s number, because he likes her? You’d think, by the Law of K-dramas, that people only started dating if they were hogtied together and forced to be roommates.

He hedges and then decides to call, but it doesn’t go so well. He asks her to meet, without giving a reason, and she soundly ignores him and hangs up. He’s clearly not used to not getting his way, he of the sparkly tracksuit.

He decides to go down to her action school in person. Couldn’t you change out of that outfit first? It didn’t go over so well the first time, if you’ll remember. No? Okay then. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The action school is holding open auditions today, and with no recourse but to stand in line with the other auditionees, he watches Ra-im from afar. As he sees her laugh and smile, he says to himself in voiceover that this isn’t the same woman who’s been haunting him…this one…is far more awesome. (He uses the same word that Oska did: “cool” or “handsome,” but the usage is so different here—he’s totally smitten with her, and uses the word to mean “attractive” in a way that Oska did not.)

She stares wide-eyed when he appears in front of her, claiming boldly that he’s not here for an audition; he’s here to see her, since she won’t take his calls. They start to ask him interview questions, like what he’s good at, to which he responds confidently, “I make money well, and I spend it well.” The guys cheer him on, but Ra-im and Jong-soo are not amused.

She finally takes him outside to ask why he’s here, calling him all manner of things like nom and an unemployed slacker. He can’t admit why he’s really there, saying that she’ll think he’s crazy (because you kinda are), so he comes up with the excuse that she owes him for the hospital bill, since he’s the one who paid that night.

Clocking her reactions, he muses that this is why he can’t stop thinking about her—because she’s prettier when she’s angry. Heh. And aw. He asks her how her wound is healing, and when she doesn’t respond, he peels back her jacket to take a look at her arm. She reaches to pull it back up, but he stops her, holding her hand there while he looks intently at the scar.

Something about him in that moment shakes her—it’s simultaneously strange and invasive, and yet tender and sweet. Perhaps it’s his earnestness showing, which he normally hides in his flippant word choice. They stand frozen like that for a lingering moment, and then he puts her jacket back on, telling her to come back to that hospital and call her when she does, so that he can make sure it gets treated so it doesn’t scar permanently. With that, he leaves.

He heads back to the museum for another mat-seon, but discovers that it’s a re-date with Seul, whom he pretty clearly rejected the first time. She claims that she’s already fallen in love at first sight, to which he tells her that if she ever hears a man say those words, she should hit him, because it means he wants to get laid on the first date. Hahaha. He leaves her in the dust.

On her way out, she runs into Oska, who’s shaken to his core just at the sight of her. He’s brimming with tears, but she treats him without feeling, and makes her exit. Interesting dynamic, since he’s such a heartless womanizer elsewhere. Now we see why.

Outside, Seul shows tears of her own, but she holds them back, resolute to stand by her devious plan. Why? Because she’s the second lead. Need there be a more sensical reason?

Back on the lake of his ridiculously beautiful estate, Joo-won talks to his mom about the kind of woman he’s looking for (no doubt demanded by her since he keeps rejecting women by the hour). He retorts, “Of course she has to be pretty! Mom!” Keh. He starts rattling off traits for his ideal woman: “short hair, doesn’t laugh much, sad eyes, scar that keeps her from being Miss Korea…” as it dawns on him that he’s describing Ra-im.

He looks over to Imaginary Ra-im, perched next to him, not even surprised anymore by her sudden appearance. Mom asks if he’s crazy. Joo-won: “Crazy? Listen, hypothetically, if I were crazy, you’d still give me my inheritance…[Click]…Hello? Mom?” Hahaha.

He yells at Imaginary Ra-im that this is all her fault, and this time she yells back, making him wonder if he really IS going nuts. He starts chanting his rhyme again to try and get her out of his mind.

At the action school the next day, Ra-im starts thinking about Joo-won, unable to shake her thoughts of him during training. She screws up because she isn’t focused, causing Jong-soo to cut her from the upcoming movie shoot. One of her sunbaes has taken a liking to Joo-won, who they call “the guy who makes a lot of money,” and borrows her phone to call him.

Joo-won sees that she’s calling, and interrupts his executive meeting to ask, “Is it really ringing? Is this really happening, or am I imagining it?” The hilarious thing is, he’s asking sincerely, because he doesn’t actually know the answer.

He picks up, and since she can’t hang up now, Ra-im talks to him like she’s his sunbae (assuming that he actually meant to audition for the action school), and tells him to get his ass to practice, on the double. Haha. He’s so flabbergasted that he sits in the middle of his meeting, staring blankly into his phone, until somebody brings him back down to earth. He decides that they should open up their department store to dramas and film shoots, but no weepies; he asks for action, with lots of stunts. Ha, well if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…

He drives over to the action school, but sees Ra-im drive off, so he follows. They end up at a cemetery, where she has brought the newbies to pay their respects to the original director of the action school. She gives a little speech about being the thankless people behind the scenes, but reminds them that it’s their job to make others shine while they take no credit, because they are stunt-men and women. She tells them to be sure that it’s a job that they want to risk their lives for, because that’s what they’re about to do. Joo-won looks on, even more impressed with her.

She takes the trainees out for a game of some soccer/volleyball hybrid, and Joo-won shows up, with that trademark cheeky smirk of his. He accidentally returns the ball straight at Ra-im’s head, so she returns the favor by pelting him with the ball, and challenging him to beat her. He stupidly takes the bait, and then proceeds to humiliate himself by being the worst possible foot-ley-ball player in the world.

Back at the action school, she sends them on their last reps for the day, pointing out that she’ll be keeping an eye on “Sparkly Tracksuit.” HAHAHA. I love her. That’s EXACTLY what I’d call him too.

She leaves to go shower, and returns to find no one but Sparkly Tracksuit all alone in the gym. He tries to corner her, getting a swift kick in the shin for his troubles, but he doggedly follows her and insists that he needs to know some things, if he’s ever going to be cured of his “problem.” She calls him crazy, and he doesn’t really deny it, saying that either way, finding out more about her is going to help him determine whether or not he’s really nuts.

He wants to know two things: did she go to college, and are her parents anyone he’d know? Essentially, he wants to know if she’s marry-able, as if somehow that changes the fact that he’s obsessed with her, if he can justify it in this way. This is the strangest logic ever, but you’re a few marbles short, so I see where you’re going with this.

She responds by flinging him over her shoulder onto the ground, back and forth like a ragdoll. Finally he gets fed up with getting beat up, so he turns the tables and lands on top, quite literally.

She squirms, angry, but he’s still, while on top of her, asking why she won’t answer his simple questions. Hahaha. This is of course the moment when Ra-im’s roommate happens to walk in (better her than Jong-soo), making for quite the awkward moment.

But her roommate is too angry right now, having just been fired from her job because of Seul’s complaint about the VIP lounge incident. She drops her uniform on the ground and rants about her horrible boss, as it dawns on Joo-won that she’s talking about him. She declares angrily that she’ll get her revenge: she’ll go online and announce that the president of her company is gay.

He pulls her aside to out himself (as the president, not so much gay) and she freaks out when she realizes that it’s him, complete with penchant for ugly designer tracksuits. Heh. He rehires her, and in exchange, she sings his praises to Ra-im, and gets her to come out for a drink.

Joo-won’s delicate sensibilities make him gag over their choice of pig intestine lining as drinking food. “Why is a pig, a pig? Because it has all that delicious fat. So then why are we eating the skin?” This is another male-female reversal, as stereotypically, this is a common food that men eat with soju, while women are seen as too squeamish to eat it. Not that food has gender, but it’s a cultural meaning attached to this type of food.

He drops them off, and is shocked to see the tiny, rundown building where Ra-im lives. He decides he IS crazy, after all. He goes straight to Oska’s place, asking him if he’s ever dated a woman who rents. He says “rents” like you’d say “has lice” or “doesn’t shave.”

Oska says sure, he’s dated a model and a so-and-so; they all rent in Kangnam. No, Joo-won doesn’t mean a ritzy place like that. He tries to describe what kind of apartment he means, and lands with, “the kind on National Geographic, with flies buzzing and stuff…” Hahaha. Okay, do you not know ANY poor people, like EVER?

The next day Ra-im gets rehired on the set of Chae-rin’s movie, and she shoots a big no-wire stunt jump in the middle of LOEL. The director makes her do take after take, yelling at her incessantly, while she wordlessly complies, even though her arm is hurting.

Finally they get word that there’s no hurry and they can shoot all day, as per the president’s orders, and he’s on his way down to the set himself…

Cue big entrance of Sparkly Tracksuit, looking not so sparkly, but damn fine. Ra-im’s eyes widen as she realizes that he’s actually as important a person as he’s been touting, as he walks straight up to her.

The director steps in between them, fawning over Joo-won, who tells him to stop yelling at Ra-im. He grabs her wrist and pulls her to his side, as he declares, “This person is Kim Tae-hee and Jeon Do-yeon to me. I’m Gil Ra-im’s biggest fan.” Aw. Swoon.


There are of course many reasons to love Binnie, but the one reason I’ve always loved him is that he’s a weird man-child who doesn’t really fit into a simple mold. He’s light and dark, manly yet childlike, and he plays the petty, petulant child like nobody’s business. It’s sort of why I can’t see how anyone else could’ve taken this role, because without that Hyun-Bin-factor, this character would just be one note, and not at all what he is now. Worse, he’d be unfunny, which would have been a tragedy. I love that beneath the stereotypical surface, Joo-won is a total nutcase, but an aware one, with a shrink and a whole host of complexes, half of which he probably invents to keep himself occupied. It crackles with potential.

Also, in case you’re wondering what song/rhyme Joo-won keeps rattling off, it’s a string of nonsense wordplay, an old saying that’s been used in various songs and such. They are rather senseless, but the gist of them is a bunch of different ways to describe living a long life, or symbols of long life, mixed with alliteration and funny sounds. The words are as follows:

김 수한무 거북이와 두루미 삼천갑자동방삭 치치카포 사리사리 센타 워리워리 세브리캉
무두셀라 구름이 허리케인 담벼락 서생원 고양이 바둑이는 돌돌이

The rhyme itself isn’t important so much as the recurring motif it provides for his character, who’s a fantastic neurotic, complete with silly songs to keep him tethered to the normal world. He’s also clearly a lonely individual, highlighted visually by his stunningly expansive home, which echoes of emptiness. I love that he has a set of coping mechanisms to keep his neuroses in check, and I can’t wait to see the other skeletons in his closet of crazy.

I adore Ra-im, not only because she’s a badass (but man, I DO love her badass action scenes), but because she’s got a great set of her own vulnerabilities and issues. The gender role reversals are a nice layer before the body swap occurs, because it compounds the conflicts, and the hijinks. I also love a couple who’s wit-fully matched, because there’s nothing better in a hate-into-love scenario than some hot verbal sparring.

At first I wondered when on earth they were going to get to the body swapping part. But now I’m fully invested in the get-the-girl part of the story, so I don’t mind the delay, and am rather interested to see how well they might get to know (and hate) each other BEFORE the swap, making it all the more rife with hilarity. Let the games begin.


242 November 20, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 3

by javabeans

SBS has had a number of dramas with truly beautiful cinematography in the past year — Bad Guy, Dr. Champ, Will It Snow For Christmas, Jejoongwon — and now we can add Secret Garden to that list. I’m really enjoying this drama based on story and acting alone — and Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won’s awesome chemistry — but the beauty of the visuals just makes it that much more enjoyable to watch.


Kim Bum-soo – “나타나” (You appear) from the Secret Garden OST [ Download ]

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At the department store shoot, Joo-won calmly sets the director down and proclaims himself Ra-im’s fan, shocking everyone in the vicinity. It’s tantamount to a frank declaration of interest, and who doesn’t love juicy behind-the-scenes drama?

Joo-won treats the entire crew to lunch at the store’s restaurant, while Ra-im sits in stunned silence, not quite sure what to think of all this. Joo-won “borrows” her for a private lunch for two, eliciting a chorus of knowing oohs from the crew (and a jealous snipe by Chae-rin at his taste in shabby looking women, which gets back the retort from a stuntman that she’s the shabby one of the two — yay for crew solidarity!).

Joo-won has set aside another lavish spread, explaining that he’d asked her friend (the hilarious Ah-young) what she liked, only to be told that with Ra-im, quantity is more important than quality. (Ha! You can tell that from her reaction that Ra-im’s a bit embarrassed but can’t refute it.)

He pulls out her chair for her, but Ra-im instinctively grabs for the chair distrustfully. She sorta covers up the slip by acting like she doesn’t like the chivalrous gesture, but he guesses she’s never had anyone pull out a chair for her before.

Joo-won supposes that the truth of his status makes things look different now — he looks more handsome, more important. (Even in this situation, he has to defend the indefensible, saying, “You’re thinking, Ah, so that tracksuit really was expensive. I feel sorry now.” Him and his tracksuit fixation. Funny given his decidedly unathletic bent — but perhaps there’s some overcompensation mixed in?)

Ra-im nods, surprising him with her ready agreement — since he said she’s pretty when she’s angry, she’s determined to stop getting angry. Telling him not to come by the action school anymore, she gets up and leaves.

She arrives at the restaurant only to find it now empty, and reaches for a leftover bowl of rice. Joo-won, having followed her down, angrily takes it away from her. He doesn’t understand her response, but she replies that she’s not comfortable with the lavishness of his gesture. To make her rejection clear, Ra-im slaps down four bills onto the table (40,000 won, or just under $40). It’s payment for this meal and her hospital bill, so they can put a neat end to their association.

Ra-im walks away, prompting Joo-won to burst out that all he wanted was for her to stop saying “I’m sorry” in her damned meek way — she’d spent all morning doing that thankless stunt and responding to harsh words with “I’m sorry.”

Ra-im counters that she could say that all day long — that’s how she makes her living. But thanks to him, now people will start gossiping that she’s got friends in high places, meaning she’ll have to say those words a helluva lot more in the future. “Do you think all the world is a fairy tale? Do you think all the dining tables in the world are set with flowers, candles, and wine?” She warns him to stay away from her.

As predicted, as soon as she gets back to the set, a buddy compliments her connections and the great lunch. Even the director kisses up to her, excusing her from work and ordering Chae-rin to do her own stunt.

Jong-soo isn’t particularly pleased to hear about the day’s events — particularly the part where Joo-won took such an active interest in Ra-im — and goes rock climbing to relieve his frustrations, which is really just a flimsy excuse to get Philip Lee sweaty. I’m hardly complaining…but you couldn’t make him a swimmer? I’m just sayin’.

Oska gets an upset call from his manager about a situation at the LOEL department store — a poster advertises a campaign promising a prize trip with Oska. He hadn’t even heard about this, but it’s clear where the guilt lies, and he storms over to the fancy house of glass to confront Joo-won about it.

Unruffled, Joo-won tells his cousin to relax, because he’ll wind up doing the promotion in the end anyway. Oska huffs and puffs in protest, and he tells his team to move his music video shoot (so as to conflict with the promotion).

Oska doesn’t seem to be a bad-tempered diva sort, but his capricious nature makes him a demanding client to manage. Today he decides, based on an exaggerated article in the news, that he would like to take on the position of cultivating new talent. (Or rather, he’d like the glory of being addressed by a hot new singer as his manager-boss.) (No doubt the writer is slipping in some subtle commentary on the state of celebs today, yeah?) He wants his manager to find the kid he saw singing in the club. Project!

It’s Joo-won’s turn to barge in on his cousin that night, and for two guys who have such distaste for each other, they sure do enjoy dropping in all the time, don’t they? (I almost made another bromance joke here, only I realized that they’re first cousins. And that may be flirting with too many taboos, even for a kdrama.)

I love the nonchalant way Joo-woo interrupts Oska’s date and asks plainly if Oska has ever dated a woman who lives in a hut out of National Geographic, doesn’t have a strong educational background, and is occasionally violent. Joo-won is like a curious little boy, asking, “Have you ever been hit by her… but liked it? You know, you think you can withstand being hit some more, and even slightly look forward to it?”

Pffft! No surprise that Oska assumes he’s talking about kinky bed-play. Joo-won is left with no answers to his confused questions, and broods.

Jong-soo pays a visit to Joo-won’s office to respond to Joo-won’s film-shoot gesture, and opens with the backhanded comment, “You look much better in a suit than that tracksuit.” To which Joo-won returns, “Which isn’t to say that I don’t look good in the tracksuit.” (Oh, kiddo. Let. It. Go.)

Jong-soo takes issue to Joo-won buying everyone lunch and warns him not to mess with Ra-im, because she’s well on her way to success and is talented at her job. Joo-woon is fine agreeing, but adds that he wants to help her — so Jong-soo’d better not mess with him, either. All right, boys, put ’em away.

Seul arrives at Oska’s place but only finds his manager there, who is NOT pleased to see her, knowing of the unhappy ex-couple’s pained past. He rejects her proposal to be their MV director (saying they’ve gotten someone else), and tells her not to come by anymore.

Seul calls in a favor to a friend to find out which director is attached the MV, then brightens when Joo-won drives in. She tries to suggest that they go on a date, but her hint goes flatly ignored. Joo-won excuses himself, heading inside with his perturbed thoughts, particularly aggravated by the sight of Ra-im’s 40,000 won. Finally he calls his doctor to ask for the receipt to Ra-im’s hospital bill.

Ra-im trudges to the bus stop, where she’s greeted by a large poster of Jeon Do-yeon in a cosmetics ad. Thinking of Joo-won’s comment that she’s like Jeon Do-yeon to him, she can’t help but be flattered at the comparison, and tries to pose girlishly in imitation of the poster.

She feels silly, however, and bows meekly to the poster and apologizes — as though she believes she doesn’t have it in her to be pretty, although she’d like to be.

Joo-won shows up at the action school — wearing yet another piece of sartorial art in a sequined leopard-print tracksuit. He announces that he’s not here to see Ra-im, but merely to collect what is owed him. Reciting the adage that rich people are the stingiest, he presents her with her hospital bill for 45,000 won. Therefore she still owes him 5,000 won.

She’s only too happy to pay him off quickly and get rid of him for good, but she only has 3,000 won in her wallet and offers to pay the rest later. Naturally he can’t let her off so easily and pokes at her a bit more, till she storms off in a huff.

Joo-won can’t resist taking the opportunity to peek in Ra-im’s locker, taking a photo of her photos, which is adorable of him. Even more adorable is his jealousy at seeing the photo of Oska that she’s pinned up — with her face pasted onto the girl posing with Oska. Incensed, Joo-won crumples it up.

And then, a small insight into her character: Amidst all her work supplies (bandages, running shoes, boxing gloves), he spies Ra-im’s small stash of cosmetics — red nail polish, face cream, blush. Interesting.

Ra-im directs the stunt team in exercises, but Joo-won purposely refuses the help of another stuntman just so he can complain to Ra-im about needing a foot-holder. Irritated, she grabs his legs to shut him up, and he proceeds with some hilariously wimpy neck-raises.

She tells him to do it properly, so he warns that she’ll regret making the request. He demonstrates what he means by doing a proper sit-up, which brings them face-to-face in alarming proximity. Ra-im finds their closeness uncomfortable and drops her eyes self-consciously, while Joo-won enjoys looking straight at her every time he completes one. Who knew sit-ups could be so sexy? Rawr.

He teases her by commenting on her prettiness, and she kicks him in retaliation and storms out. Warning him that she’s pretty pissed off, she asks if he likes her — is that why he keeps showing up?

Notice that he doesn’t directly answer the question, although his reply sounds like a flat denial; he says that it makes no sense for him to like her, that he’d be crazy to, that he has tons of ladies lined up dying to marry him. She, on the other hand, has none of those traits to recommend her.

She asks why he keeps following her, to which he replies, “Ask yourself that,” as though that’s a perfectly reasonable answer.

He says, “What can I do when I keep thinking of you? Even when I’m not around you, it still feels like you’re around. What am I supposed to do?” He starts to recite his insane “Kim-su-han-mu-the-turtle-and-the-crane” speech — how crazy must he be to be spouting that nonsense every night?

He wonders, “What have you done to me? Why me?” After all, all she does is hang up on him, get angry at him when he buys her food, and hit him. “You’re so strange that I’m puzzled and amazed.”

Well, it’s not the most romantic confession, but it is flattering in its own eccentric way, especially when he adds, “So right now, I’m crazy.” But he tells her not to worry — he won’t come round anymore.

Oska rehearses with his backup dancers, and I find it hilarious that they’ve made him into this idol-oppa, when (let’s be honest here) he’s a little old for that. I was picturing him as a Bae Yong-joon type or, to be closer to the Hallyu-singer-in-Japan mold, a Ryu Shi-won or Park Yong-ha (RIP).

His manager has tracked down the club singer kid, named Tae-sun, but getting him onboard Oska’s scheme is proving difficult. First off, Tae-sun doesn’t even know who Oska is, nor does he care about celebrities.

Oska finds the prospect of being unrecognized a personal affront and, calling the kid, tries to prove his identity by singing one of his pop hits. Tae-sun doesn’t care and says — in quite rude language, at that — “If you want to meet me, send me your music.” While we don’t know anything about the guy yet, he is currently selling his keyboard and has decided to quit songwriting.

Ah-young goes out on a blind date, only to find that she’s been set up with someone she knows, per his request: It’s Secretary Kim, one of Joo-won’s staffers. Hilariously, the guy has modeled his behavior after Joo-won’s, thinking it’s a way to impress Ah-young, and snaps his fingers to get the waiter’s attention. He also uses a few of Joo-won’s trademark questions, designed to intimidate: “Is that truly your best? Are you absolutely certain?”

The thing is, while that obnoxious behavior is tolerated when Joo-won does it because of his position, on anyone else it’s just plain obnoxious, and Ah-young is not impressed. When Secretary Kim starts to say something about “For five years…” she thinks he’s been stalking her for that long and leaves the restaurant straightaway.

However, as soon as she steps outside, she’s greeted with guys holding sparklers and cheering, celebrating her five years of employment. Oops.

Now Secretary Kim greets her with a sweet smile, congratulating her on her five years, and Ah-young reconsiders.

Meanwhile, at home, Ra-im keeps checking her phone — true to his word, Joo-won stops texting her, and she seems disappointed. So when she gets a call from him, her attitude is different as she heads to meet him at a swanky live music club — she’s not hostile or antagonistic, for once.

Notably, she’s wearing a neckerchief, which is cute because Ah-young had been wearing one for her date. Ra-im had found it odd, but Ah-young had replied that guys like when you hide a bit of skin. But Joo-won wonders if she’s hurt herself or something, so she pulls it off self-consciously.

Ra-im offers to buy him a beer, her tone hesitantly friendly as she concedes that she’s sorry for a few things. However, the sight of her well-worn bag — which has been mended with safety pins — makes him suddenly angry.

He says in his terse voice, “For the first time in my life, I think I’ve met a woman I can’t deal with.” He’s never been curious about the cost of a woman’s bag before, or about whether she couldn’t afford one. He asks in a hard tone, could it really be that he had been excited all day about his 2,000 won excuse, all for a woman who can’t even afford her own bag?

What a way to put it — as though she’s not worth his admiration if she’s poor. We can cut him some slack because we understand that he’s confused about his own feelings, but I don’t blame Ra-im for wanting to blacken a few body parts because he makes it sound as though he resents having spent the headspace over her.

All her good humor now gone and thoroughly insulted, Ra-im slaps the money on the table and leaves. Way to blow it, buster — just when she was starting to unwind toward you.

Ra-im walks out of the club just as Oska arrives, all worked up over the punk of a musician who won’t deign to acknowledge his celebrity. He’s pleased to see her and stops her to chat, just as Joo-won also leaves. Oska grabs her bag to keep her from leaving, and the broken strap snaps — which only further angers Joo-won. Oska doesn’t have the same reaction and even compliments her for her resourcefulness, but her nerves are already rubbed raw and looks at Joo-won uneasily.

Joo-won leaves without a word.

After hearing that the musician Tae-sun has left the club, Oska walks with Ra-im and urges her to cheer up. He wonders what her relationship to Joo-won is, and she answers vaguely that it’s the kind of relationship where they’re able to see through to each other’s inner feelings over one bag.

Oska guesses that she must have a really good bit of dirt on Joo-won — some weakness that puts him at a disadvantage. That must be why he’s going around talking about her all the time, which is a declaration that surprises her. He… talks about her?

They’re joined by Joo-won’s sister Hee-won, who spots them as they walk by and teasingly warns Ra-im that Oska’s a playboy.

Oska’s smile fades to hear Hee-won say that Joo-won went on a blind date with Seul, though the rumor is that she dumped him instead of the other way around. (That was Joo-won’s suggestion to allow Seul to save face.)

This launches Oska in to a broody flashback that shows a bit of their prior troubles, although I’m guessing the full story has a lot more angst to it:

It was years ago — he was still a star then, and still an incorrigible flirt. He’d insisted to Seul that he was at the recording studio, but she wasn’t buying it, and accused him of being with another woman. (The name is “Chun Ji-ae” — a cheeky nod to Queen of Housewives, where his not-quite-romance with Kim Nam-joo’s character was the drama’s runaway hit plotline.) And thus began the trouble.

Both cousins are therefore in dour moods that night, and walk along outside the house drinking beer. Separately, and then together.

Both want to talk first, and insist on asking their questions before listening to the other’s, which ironically just extends the non-answer process for both:

Joo-won: “Did Gil Ra-im get home okay?”
Oska: “I heard you went on a seon (date).”
Joo-won: “I go on them all the time. Did you send her alone, or take her home?”
Oska: “How was your date this time?”
Joo-won: “Did she say anything about me?”
Oska: “Hee-won says she dumped you. Is that true?”
Joo-won: “Anything at all, even a little?”
Oska: “Were you really dumped?”
Joo-won: “Was she still carrying that miserable bag? A plastic bag would be better.”

Sigh. Boys! These guys could do well to talk a lot less, and listen a lot more.

Oska points out that Joo-won’s hardly going to marry a stuntwoman, so he ought to just enjoy himself without all this complicated question-asking.

Joo-won, unsurprisingly, can’t get Ra-im out of his mind and sinks into a pensive sulk. He puts away the book he was trying to read, and when the camera pans over the books shelved on that case, the titles form a poetic sort of statement:

A sunny day meaning nothing
Someone is walking into my heart
I looked forward to chance
My melancholy, precious woman
You flew here by mistake

Ra-im receives a phone call informing her that she won some giveaway at the LOEL department store. Her first thought is that Ah-young had something to do with it, since that’s her workplace, but her friend points out that it’s a lot more likely that Mr. President was involved. You’d think that the idea would anger her, but her opinion is slowly starting to change, and she asks Ah-young if she can borrow her purse tomorrow.

All the while, Joo-won sits just outside her National Geographic apartment in his car, as though he might be expecting her call. Tired of waiting, he gets out and heads to the door where he raises his hand to knock (wrapping his oh-so-fastidious hand into a handkerchief first, so as not to dirty it).

But then he pauses, and sighs. He decides against it.

The next day, he’s walking through the department store with his secretary when something — or rather, someone — catches his eye.

It’s Ra-im, sporting her borrowed bag, here to claim her winnings.

Both stop in their tracks and stare at each other — she a bit shocked and uncertain, he still frustrated.


Considering how the body-switching premise was one of the big promotional points of this drama, I would have expected them to spring it on us a lot quicker — if not in the first episode, then surely the second. Goodness knows that an American TV show would have pushed hard to get it into the first ten minutes, so convinced are U.S. television producers that the audience must be hook, line, and sinkered as soon as possible that pilots these days are given no room to breathe or grow into their stories.

So it’s with pleasant surprise that I watch the story unfold here, even though we have not so much as a hint as to how the switch happens, nor is there a fantasy element preparing the stage for such an event. (Maybe it’ll have to do with the photo of her father that changes his facial expression in response to Joo-won?) But I’m not complaining, and am enjoying the drama so much that I don’t really care when the switch happens. In fact, I like that we’re spending so much time on these characters pre-switch so that when we eventually get there, things will have stakes and real emotional consequences.

For instance, I love that Joo-won wants to help Ra-im, but is just incredibly ill-equipped to do so. He understands that he’s attracted to her but isn’t willing to admit his attraction in a normal sense — he has to grasp at straws for reasons to validate his feelings, and in the absence of that validation, he sticks to firm denial that he could even harbor feelings for her. And while he knows the concrete ways he wants to help her — like give her a decent bag and fix up her shabby apartment — he doesn’t know how to accomplish that, as she’s still this huge mystery to him. He’s so like an innocent child in that respect, and when he speaks of Ra-im, it’s like she is a different species.

And that makes the body-switching that much more fun to look forward to. Once he’s in her place, he’ll finally be able to understand what makes her tick, from all her defense mechanisms to her secret fears. And — to have our cake and eat it too — I suspect it’ll give him the chance to address all those little things that annoy him, such as, say, her shapeless wardrobe and rundown apartment.

Also: This drama is such eye-candy to watch, purely for the visual palette alone.


350 November 22, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 4

by girlfriday

I didn’t necessarily get the “you’re prettier when you’re angry” thing, but I definitely get it now… Joo-won and Ra-im are totally angry-hot, as in having especially explosive chemistry… when they’re at each other’s throats. I mean, I always knew the bickering hate phase was intended to spark a few flames, but these two are downright X-rated. I swear, every time they yell at each other, I half expect them to rip each other’s clothes off. Whew! Is it getting hot in here?


Joo-won sees Ra-im standing in his department store, and takes her up to his office to talk. He can’t believe that she came all the way down here, just to pick up a stupid raffle prize, as if her desire for a free vacuum cleaner is a direct affront to him. Did you maybe stop to think she came here to see YOU, doofus?

She asks if maybe he put her name into the drawing, and he scoffs that he doesn’t have the time to do something like that, and belittles her coldly, that he really must’ve been crazy to fall for a woman without family or education, who’d come all the way here to claim some dinky vacuum cleaner. Oh, you are an ASS.

Ra-im’s jaw drops as she hears the angry, haughty words come out of his mouth, which he even repeats, just to get his point across, adding that she’s embarrassing him at work. For someone so obsessed with manner and upbringing, you really are the biggest asshole of them all. No doubt he’s reacting in this childish way to cover up his own insecurities and troubling obsession, but still. If it walks like an ass and talks like an ass…

Ra-im steels herself and then apologizes, retaliating with a, “You said I’m pretty when I’m angry, but I’m pretty when I smile too, right?” Heh. If you’re planning to make him more obsessed with you for revenge, that’s pretty ingenious, but a little passive for my taste. I prefer it when you kick him in the shins. She insists on taking the vacuum cleaner, just to prove a point.

She says that if he’s that embarrassed, he can tell everyone that she was just someone he played with and threw away. He flares up at those words, saying that he can’t, and drags her down to the department store. He starts throwing shoes and clothes at her feet, angrily yelling, “Play? Play with you? You’re not even at the level for me to play with!”

Dude, you are taking rich bastard to new heights. He basically throws the evidence down at her feet, of how far apart they are in social standing. It’s beyond insulting—it’s degrading and hurts her where she’s most insecure.

He grabs a dress and drags her into a dressing room to put it on. He follows her in there, and they end up face to face in that tiny space, within kissing distance and tension flaring high. Gah, it’s unfair if you’re evil AND sexy. That’s just not right.

He tells her to put it on: “Should I put it on for you?” He reaches to undress her, and she stops him angrily. She asks him what he’s trying to prove—what he’ll do with her if she puts on the dress. He replies that he’ll do nothing; he’s just trying to show her how far apart they really are. Listen, if all you’re doing is trying to prove that you’re unattainable, you’re sending a girl mixed messages, what with your stalking of her and all. I know you’re nuts, but that’s no excuse.

Beads of sweat start to pour down his face, as he looks up at the four walls of the tiny dressing room, realizing how small a space he’s in, all the while trying not to lose the argument. You’re the one who pushed her in there, Mr. Claustrophobia. He holds his panic in for just a moment longer, and then can’t stand it anymore and pushes her aside to clamor out of there. He runs out, barely breathing, and has a panic attack in the middle of his store.

Ra-im leaves in a daze, and arrives at the action school, late for training. She decides to spend a few hours taking out her frustrations…by hurling herself at a car. Repeatedly. Sheesh. I guess stunt people can’t just punch a wall or something.

Meanwhile, Joo-won drives home, and has another panic attack in the middle of a tunnel. It’s a nice visual sequence, and the tunnel is great literally and figuratively as a motif for his fear of being trapped. He barely manages to make it out to the other side, and pulls over on the side of the road. He calls number 1 on his speed dial: his therapist. God, I love that his shrink is speed dial 1. That’s so telling.

She comes over to check on him, but because they’re old friends, he refuses to actually tell her what’s going on with him. I’d like to ask his shrink, but I bet half the stuff he suffers from is made up in his head to give him an excuse to keep himself locked away. He finally tells her not to think of him strangely, since he just read it in a book, but…”What are the symptoms of lovesickness?” Hahahaha. His sincerity about this just cracks me up.

Later, he sits outside in his garden, and starts picking the petals off a flower, saying, “She’s cursing at me, she’s not; she is; she’s not…” until he picks the final one, landing at: “She is.” He gets mad at her for cursing him (in his mind, but that seems to be no different for him, hilariously), and stalks off angrily. Heh.

As he walks away, the camera pans down and we see that he’s left a giant pile of those yellow daisies, having plucked the petals off of a hundred of them. Little twinkly lights start to work their magic on the daisy patch, and one lands on the last flower that he dropped, magically re-growing one last petal. Aw, cute.

And how adorable is it that the guy’s the one killing flowers over “She loves me; she loves me not”?

The next morning, Joo-won wakes up to find that Seul’s family has sent him a strange present, out of the blue. He walks outside to find himself face to face with a herd of…deer? He asks if he’s supposed to eat them (to the horror of his assistant: “Omo”) and tells him to send them back. It’s a totally random, hilarious comment on the oddities that rich people spend their money on.

He gets a call for his monthly obligatory family dinner, and heads over to his grandfather’s mansion, where everyone takes turns being passive-aggressive over the steak course. With a family like this, I’m surprised Joo-won doesn’t have a few more neuroses under his belt. In particular, he gets outed for only showing up to work two days a week, making his disappointed grandfather even more disappointed in him.

Also, random fashion note, but how neurotic and nerdy is it that he’s wearing three highlighters in his pocket as an accessory?

Oska goes all the way down to Jeju to find Tae-sun, who rebuffs him yet again, this time acknowledging who he is, but saying that it doesn’t make his music any less crappy. Oska just stands there slackjawed, unfamiliar with people who don’t worship at his feet for being a Hallyu star. I love that he constantly refers to himself as “The Hallyu Star,” making him just that extra bit of ridiculous self-aggrandizing.

Oska has punked out on his music video shoot in Thailand, but it doesn’t seem to matter much to the director, who has washed his hands of the project at Seul’s request. Or rather, her payment of large sums of money. She takes over the music video, with the excuse that she doesn’t need to spend any time improving her looks or her schooling, so she may as well have some fun. Oh, okay, princess.

She goes straight to Jong-soo’s action school, embarrassing herself with her VERY LOUD and off-putting use of English. Gah, the horror! I’m cleaning my ears out with soap. Jong-soo replies, but looks at her strangely, as well he should. Because girl’s off her rocker. She asks for his help in the music video shoot, announcing that Oska is the star.

Ra-im continues to work out her angst, thinking back to the department store fight with Joo-won. As she was leaving earlier, she had paused in front of a mirror, holding the dress up wistfully. I like these little touches that reveal her girly side, that she doesn’t show to anyone.

Her roommate Ah-young arrives home with the dreaded vacuum cleaner in tow, causing Ra-im to freak out that she accepted it on her behalf. She calls Joo-won right away, who goes from brooding to instant happy face when he realizes that she’s calling.

But of course he can’t let HER know his excitement, and just snaps at her to return it herself or throw it away if she doesn’t want it. He hangs up abruptly and returns to the task of art-buying with a renewed sense of interest. He even starts seeing the paintings differently, now that Ra-im is back in his orbit. Heh. And aw.

He insists that the house in one of the paintings had its lights on a minute ago, making everyone think that he’s insane, but we see that it’s the same bit of whimsy that’s been re-petaling the daisies and such in his life, having a bit of fun.

Ra-im heads out to give Joo-won a piece of her mind, and when Ah-young tells her that he isn’t at work today, she calls her action school sunbae to get Joo-won’s address off of his registration form. Jong-soo overhears and hangs his head.

Joo-won, meanwhile, sits on his patio with sheets blowing in the wind and desserts and…wait…did I fall asleep and land in some fantasy? He is totally going to such lengths on purpose, waiting for her to show. (Also, he happens to be reading a book about why there are starving people in the world, as if he can read a book to study her, like she’s some social experiment.)

Ra-im rides in on her motorcycle, vacuum strapped to the back. She marvels at the expansive grounds as she rides around, and stops to ask an employee where Kim Joo-won lives. The lady’s like, um…here. Ra-im: “I know here, but which house is his?” “They’re ALL HIS.” Haha.

She finally finds him, and throws the vacuumn down at his feet, demanding to know what he meant by sending it to her. Oh, honey. Don’t you know when a boy is pulling your pigtails? He did it so you’d do this.

She leaves it there and turns to go, when she hears a splash. She turns around to find the vacuumn floating in his lake, and Joo-won sitting there without a care. He tells her that he doesn’t need it, so if she wants it, she can fish it out herself.

She looks at him in shock, then walks right into the lake and hauls the box out, carrying it back to her bike. It’s enough to finally get Joo-won out of his seat and yelling at her. He can’t believe that she’d go in there herself, instead of making him apologize. (And you couldn’t have, say, apologized yourself WITHOUT the tantrum?) Sheesh. He basically calls her a charity case, making her feel as low as she can go.

She fights him off and to keep her from leaving, he grabs her key and throws it in the lake. You are so transparent, buddy. He ends up dragging her into the house to get cleaned up (rawr), only to come face to face with his dragon lady mother. Damn it, Mom. You have the worst timing ever.

She glares a hole through Ra-im’s skull, making it all too clear that she’d rather her precious son play with others “at his level.” Shivers. Now we know where his horrid snobbery comes from. Ra-im insists that she’s not here to play, and that she dare not deign to be someone that Joo-won sees romantically, since she’s just a charity case (nice job, to use his words back at him). Mom is offended at her tone and the mere presence of a poor person, and sneers as Ra-im makes her exit, even as Joo-won ineffectually tries to stop his mother.

He’s interrupted with a call that Oska has gone AWOL to Jeju, and does some damage control. Looks like the music video will have to be shot there, along with the department store contest, since that lands him in Jeju anyway. He comes out to find Ra-im’s bike still there, and jumps into the lake to retrieve her key.

Ra-im returns to the action school to find the guys planning a car stunt for Oska’s music video shoot in Jeju, and excitedly asks what part she’ll get to play. Jong-soo tells her that she doesn’t have enough experience with car stunts, and when she begs him for the chance, he snaps at her that it’s too dangerous; he can barely tolerate the danger she puts herself in now, but he does it because it’s what she wants to do.

Jong-soo broods for a while, then calls Ah-young for a favor. He gives her a purse for Ra-im, and has her pretend that she bought it for her at work. Ra-im swoons from the pretty. See, this is why you’ll never get the girl, Tall dark and handsome. Because even though Joo-won is a petty bastard, he’ll take credit and endure the backlash. Silent protector never wins against self-righteous asshole. I know. It’s unfair. But them’s the rules.

Oska calls Joo-won from Jeju, having landed himself in jail for an altercation with some gangsters. He’s being extorted for harassing a woman, but he tells Joo-won: “You know me. If I sleep with a girl, I sleep with her. But I’m not the type to harass.” Haha. I love that he’s so forthright—he is who he is.

Joo-won makes sure that he’s repaid, tit for tat, and has his lawyer sent to bail him out. He asks Secretary Kim about the winner of the trip to Jeju, and finds out that the first- and second-place winners had to forfeit out, so that leaves third place, which is Ra-im of course, former winner of the vacuum cleaner, now upgraded to vacation with her favorite pop singer.

Joo-won immediately cries, “NO! Send the fourth-place winner!” But she’s already gone, because her stunt team is down there for the music video shoot. Joo-won: “So, what you’re telling me is…Oska and Ra-im are on a vacation, and I’M paying for it?!” Haha. Well, that’s karma for ya, babe.

Ra-im arrives on the island and sneaks a peek at her stunt team, who report to Seul for the shoot. Well this isn’t going to get complicated or anything.

Oska sees Ra-im lurking and greets her warmly, surprised that she’s the winner of the contest. He warns her that he believes in fate, and invites her to lunch. He chomps down on some tofu in the meanwhile (having just gotten out of jail) and when Ra-im asks why, he says, “Because I stole something. Someone’s…heart?” Hahaha. Cheesetastic, as always.

They head over to the restaurant for lunch, where Joo-won is waiting for them. Ra-im’s eyes widen, and he smirks, “You’re ten minutes late.”


The maneuvering of every single character to Jeju is clunky, but I do love Joo-won’s reaction to realizing that he just sent his crush on her dream vacation with her idol, and his lifetime rival…on his dime. It’s as delicious a revenge as you can get, for the assholery that went on throughout this episode.

Which isn’t to say that I hate Joo-won, because I love his character, with all of his rich boy eccentricities and girlish affectations. I like the little touches, like the fact that he cares enough to accessorize his outfits down to every last detail, or that he always has fresh flowers nearby. Ra-im in contrast is so oblivious to the kinds of things he puts so much painstaking care into, that it actually angers him—because he can’t control the situation. She’s outside his wheelhouse, which throws him, and he can’t control his feelings, which is even stranger. It’s the perfect wrench to throw in the neurotic control-freak’s world, made even more delicious by the crackling sexual tension that they can’t ignore.

I seriously feel invasive when I’m watching the close-quarters angry fighting scenes, because they play it like they’re two seconds away from tearing their clothes off. The acting in those moments is so amazingly layered, from both of them. They go from I hate you, you disgusting excuse for a human being, to Kiss me now, and I’ll forget it all in a matter of seconds, in just a look. It’s crazy good.

What’s great about the pair is that they’re both incessantly stubborn (Joo-won’s haughty stubborn versus Ra-im’s prideful stubborn) that it seems like if left to their own devices, these two would NEVER work out their differences. Neither of them would give an inch, ever, and even if their fights landed them in bed, they’d never be able to sustain a relationship that way.

It makes the body switch necessary, if we ever want to see them grow up, and start to inch toward understanding one another and their circumstances. By now I’m dying for the switch to happen, not because I don’t enjoy this stage, but because I can see the potential hijinks around the corner.

And I actually really like the unexplained, whimsical magic fairy dust or whatever you want to call it. Because this isn’t a mythology-laden show with a gumiho that needs a mystical throughline, I prefer it that the magical element is just left oblique, without driving an explanation into the ground. It can just be seen as an extension of Fate, with sprinkles on top.


334 November 27, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 5

by javabeans

Finally, it’s here! The moment we’ve all been waiting for. And while it’s been a long time coming, I feel safe declaring that it did not disappoint.

Last week’s episodes were a bit more serious, setting the stage for the inevitable body-swap… but now that we’re here, I can’t WAIT for all the wacky hijinks to begin. Characters have met and clashed, stakes have been set (and raised a couple times), and now all that’s left is for the insanity to unravel. Yeehaw!


TRAX – “오! 나의 여신님” (Oh! My Goddess) [ Download ]

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At the posh Jeju resort, Activity #1 in Ra-im’s “Romantic Date with Oska” — lunch — is crashed by Joo-won, who anticipates their arrival.

Joo-won, feeling secure in having established the upper hand, points out, “Your guest can’t take her eyes off me.” Oska returns, “It seems more like she’s glaring to me.” Unfazed, Joo-won answers, “That’s right, since I told her she’s prettier when she’s mad.”

The waiter regretfully turns Oska away because all of the tables have been reserved by Joo-won — so the only option is for all three to dine together. What, you’re not even going to pretend you want to get away from Joo-won by trying a different restaurant?

Joo-won goads Ra-im during the meal, but the joke’s on him because he has to put up with their cheesy exchange as Oska compliments Ra-im’s beautiful eyes. Joo-won’s expression grows increasingly incredulous as she says bashfully that it’s because a blinding star sits in front of her. Oska gallantly offers to turn away from her, but Ra-im volunteers to go blind instead.

Joo-won barely holds onto his lunch at the sickly-sweet banter. And that’s before she ups the ante by asking to call Oska oppa. Oh, no she di’n’t just resort to the Oppa-Pout-Wiggle! Joo-won stews in his petty jealousy, which is just what he deserves.

A singer — Tae-sun — performs, which momentarily sends our two bickering not-yet-lovers into flashback.

Joo-won remembers watching Ra-im wrapping her bandana around her safety-pinned bag after he’d insulted her for it. Another flashback takes us back to their fight at the department store, after which he’d returned to the pile of fancy clothes he’d thrown on the floor and told his employees to have them wrapped.

Ra-im’s flashback takes her back to the moment she first received Joo-won’s text message to meet her at the bar, resulting in an uncharacteristic display of girlish insecurity as she’d rooted through her roommie’s wardrobe for something pretty to wear.

Oska excuses himself to confront Tae-sun, who is under the misconception that Oska reserved the whole restaurant so that he could sit in it alone. He’s insulted as a performer, that his stage was so belittled (since he’d robbed him of an audience) by the very person who supposedly wants to help him. Oska feels wrongly accused, and wrist-grabs him to hold him back. He clarifies that he didn’t rent the place, and that he’s never once belittled Tae-sun’s musical skills — because Tae-sun’s better than him. (Aw, is this the romance we should really be cheering?)

And then, just as I make that quip, Tae-sun warns Oska to let him go and tells him that he’s gay. Oska thinks he’s joking at first, then stammers that it’s no big deal, that he doesn’t care, that there are lots of gay people who are out these days.

Back at the table, Joo-won mocks Ra-im’s fawning over Oska, which is such a contrast to the stiff way she deals with him. She answers that oppa treats her like a young woman and not a poor charity case, unlike some other people. Touché.

Joo-won warns her that Oska’s a player, but the conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Seul, who covers up her jealousy at seeing another woman sitting with her future husband. Is it strange that supreme confidence and delusion are so difficult to tell apart?

Ra-im snorts in amusement while listening to this amusingly stilted exchange; Seul feigns surprise to see him in such a “fateful” meeting, just “like magic.” Sure, if magic can be acquired through massive amounts of money, bribery, and manipulation.

Joo-won curtly dismisses her, but as Seul leaves, Ra-im recognizes her and chases her down. It takes some prodding, but Ra-im reminds her of their earlier encounter, determined to wrest an apology or at least acknowledgement from the woman who almost got her friend fired.

Joo-won steps in and tells Ra-im to apologize, because she was the one who upset the VIPs who pay 100 million won a year for the privilege of that exclusive, plebeian-free lounge. Seul smirks to herself and feigns a demure, damsel-in-distress-y attitude — until Joo-won turns to her and tells her to apologize, too, for not honoring her promise to let the incident slide. Way to piss off both ladies, dude.

And then, Oska steps in and asks for a moment alone with Seul, face grim.

Joo-won makes sure to tell Ra-im that he wasn’t taking Seul’s side; he was just on the side of rules. Well, okay then — that’ll make her like you. Ra-im asks what’s so different between her and those snooty people who think they’re so great, and he boils it down to one thing: money, with which they buy inequality and discrimination.

Ra-im asks if he’s the same way. He answers, “There’s no reason I shouldn’t be.”

Another budding argument is interrupted by the appearance of Jong-soo, who registers Ra-im’s presence with displeasure. She explains that she managed to score a free plane ticket, which elicits a smile from Joo-won (ah, so she’s NOT just here to see Oska?). Asked about lodging, she assures him that she’s found a jimjilbang (sauna) nearby — which, if you’re familiar with Korean dramas, is something of a last resort. (They’re not meant to be cheap hotels, but since you’re allowed to hang out at your leisure after paying an entry fee, they’re often used in place of that former standby, the all-night PC room.)

Holding back his temper, Jong-soo gives her his room key and tells her to wait for him — they’re gonna have a talk after he’s done with work.

Ra-im skips off happily, figuring she can take a shower, ignoring Joo-won’s incredulity at the idea of her lounging around a man’s hotel room.

Joo-won orders Secretary Kim to secure another room, but with Oska’s music video being shot here, there are none to be had. Even Joo-won’s own usual suite has been usurped… by Oska.

Seul announces that she’d like to be on good terms with Oska now, since they’re “about to become family.” In her delusions. They hadn’t parted amicably, but she says they should be able to get along since they weren’t in love — a declaration that Oska doesn’t agree with.

So when she asks about that woman Joo-won was with, he answers that he’s dating her. For all Seul’s nonchalance about their past, she looks pretty upset to hear it.

The breakup is shown in flashback: Oska had prepared a romantic scene and gotten down on one knee, reciting a speech and presenting a monstrous diamond. But Seul had called him a has-been star, laughing at his naivete for taking it seriously when she was just playing around.

Back at the resort, Oska heads to see… Joo-won, of course! In my mind, he’s seeking out a buddy for some companionship, but he gives Joo-won a different reason, proposing a bike race and accompanying wager.

Joo-won’s not interested until Oska offers to move out of their villa if he loses. But if he wins… he wants Gil Ra-im, a person he suddenly “desperately needs.” Given the timing of his realization, something tells me this is more about pride and revenge than emotional fulfillment.

Oska does have a shred more understanding about women than Cousin Crazy, though, and he points out that Joo-won isn’t capable of giving up everything for a woman. He, on the other hand, can: “Women can sense that instinctually. Especially poor women.”

Ra-im sees the men preparing to head out and, since she enjoys dirt biking herself, asks to be included. She doesn’t mind being in the middle of a bet, and offers up her own conditions — if she wins, she’ll be cast in Oska’s MV.

And off they go.

At a fork in the road, the men’s close jostling flips a sign and points it to the opposite path. I find it highly improbable that the kickass stuntwoman with a head start would find herself in last place, but I understand that the story needs this point, so… Yeah, she takes the other road.

When the men emerge from the forest and speed toward the finish line, Joo-won constantly looks behind him, wondering where Ra-im went.

Joo-won’s in the lead, but he hears a scream through the walkie-talkie and halts — twenty feet in front of the finish line — giving Oska the victory. More worried about Ra-im than the bet, he yells back in the walkie-talkie, but gets no response.

He and Oska separate to search different parts of the biking route, calling emergency service in case medical attention is needed. (A hilarious bit: A paramedic asks Secretary Kim to describe Ra-im’s clothing so they know what to look for. He hasn’t seen her today, so he can only say, “Well, if the president chose it… pretty clothing?”)

At the forked road, Joo-won sees the sign pointing the wrong way and heads down the road less taken.

He’s imagining all sorts of horrible possibilities, but to his surprise he finds Ra-im safe and sound. However, there’s something strange about this forest — the walkie-talkie doesn’t work here, and neither do cell phones. Oddly, Ra-im hadn’t heard the scream that sent Joo-won on the search in the first place — and she certainly didn’t do any screaming.

Unaware of the search party that’s looking for her, she’s most bummed that her chance to do the car stunt has been ruined. She’s calm and matter-of-fact about this all — in contrast to Joo-won’s nervous worry — and points them to a remote restaurant, where they can call a taxi.

They follow the sign to the isolated shack, called “Mysterious Garden,” which is located deep in the woods and amidst lots of fog.

The building itself looks rather familiar, although Joo-won doesn’t connect it to the strange house in the painting he’d almost bought.

The Mysterious Garden turns out to be a bizarre place decorated with strange talismans and owned by an even stranger proprietress. Ra-im looks around at the many colorful bottles while Joo-won tries to call out.

The woman serves them a chicken dinner while asking Joo-won closely if he’s sick — maybe he’s got that pesky cancer, or some other illness? Her strange intensity is unnerving, and he scoots away. To Ra-im she says, “Nice to see you” — which is a greeting that is often used to mean “Nice to see you again.”

Ra-im sees that the woman is making liquor, which her father also liked to do. The woman retorts, “He liked drinking it more than making it.”

It’s a medicinal type of liquor, which she is making “to save my daughter.” But when Ra-im asks if her daughter is sick, the woman says in her curious way, “That is apparently her fate.”

They make it back to the hotel safely after dinner, and Joo-won chides her for accepting a gift of two bottles of liquor from the woman. It’s an odd thing to give, and he jokes that she’s got an (old-fashioned, quirky) ajusshi living inside her. Ra-im returns, “I’ve got several.”

She adds with a little smile, “One of the shy ajusshis among them has something he’d like me to tell you. Back there, thanks for coming to get me.”

To cover up his pleasure, Joo-won balks that the ajusshi should’ve said so earlier, so Ra-im counters, “If you keep this up, the ajusshi who likes to fight is going to make an appearance.”

She holds out one of the bottles to Joo-won, which he rejects. Until she clarifies that it’s for Oska. Then he grabs it, naturally.

They find Jong-soo waiting for Ra-im with arms akimbo, anger simmering that she disobeyed his instructions to wait for him. Ra-im apologizes, assuring him that she’s here to work and not play, even if it looks like the opposite is true.

As they walk off together, Joo-won balks at the idea that the stunt team will be using the same hotel room, but Jong-soo answers evenly that his team doesn’t discriminate between gender. Maybe that’s why you’re not gonna get the girl, dude.

With exasperation, Jong-soo explains that he’s keeping her off the shoot because she’s not ready. She insists that she’s not afraid of injury, and doesn’t want to always be pushed behind just because she’s female. To which he tells her that she had better find another team, then, “Because I’ll always make you stand behind, till I die.” O…kay. That’s another reason you won’t be getting the girl, not that we’re counting because really, the only important reason is: You’re not Hyun Bin.

Joo-won enters at this point to press his point about Rai-im sharing their room, or rather, Ra-im NOT sharing their room. Therefore, he’ll vacate his own room so she can use it, while he’ll share with his cousin.

Mention of the LOEL store event makes Jong-soo wonder if Ra-im is here as prizewinner, muttering to himself that he’d done something stupid, which answers the question of how her name was in the raffle in the first place. Ra-im accepts Joo-won’s room offer, explaining it to her boss as preferring to make him uncomfortable over her teammates.

Joo-won follows her back to his room, peppering her with questions about her relationship to her boss. She asks why he’s bugging her and following her around as though the truth weren’t as obvious as a pink elephant in the room holding flowers and candy and a sign reading “I LURVE YOU.” He answers that she already knows the answer.

He says that he possesses too many things to give up all for a woman, but then he opens his arms to her: “So, let’s try a hug.” In his worldview, women fall into two neat categories: women to marry, or women to play around with. (Aren’t you a prince! In your fairy tale, I bet people call you Charming just to be ironic.) “But you keep hanging around someplace in between the two. So let’s hug just once.”

She challenges him, “And if you like it? Then what?” He smiles: “Then I’ll make sure you live a life that’s different from your life now.”

Ah, so she becomes Cinderella. Ra-im is not impressed at this prospect — but even less so at his correction: “No, the Little Mermaid.” Which is to say that she can hang around as a nonentity, “Then disappear, like bubbles.”

Ohhh. You. ASS. And here I thought you’d already scraped the bottom of the barrel in the last episode. Even Hyun Bin’s general awesomeness isn’t doing much to elevate you now, Joo-won. Ra-im’s eyes fill with tears as though even she’s surprised at how cruel he could be, like she hadn’t expect him to go this low.

At least she has the good sense to slap him for his assery this time. But he just says, calm as you please, to think it over.

Meanwhile, one of her sunbaes pulls some strings to get Ra-im a meeting with the MV director… which goes about as well as you’d imagine. Seul enjoys this reversal, while Ra-im bows her head meekly.

Oska flips out when he joins the MV team, only to realize who the new director is. He flatly refuses to work with Seul, and storms out. His manager arrives just in time to get the brunt of Oska’s anger, but he retorts the this is all a situation of Oska’s making anyway — nobody else would work with him.

Oska fires back that he won’t do the MV — and they may as well cancel the album while they’re at it! He kicks everyone out and gets ready for a long sulk.

Joo-won joins him, and settles down for a brooding session of his own. Oh, are you lonely, baby? POOR WIDDLE RICH BASTARD.

When Joo-won wonders at his cousin’s relationship to Seul, Oska merely answers that she’s his anti-fan. Ha. I guess that’s not a lie, technically.

Ra-im spends the night at that sauna after all, which I’m vastly relieved to see, since staying at Joo-won’s place after his ever-so-gallant speech would have been tantamount to accepting his terms.

Both Ra-im and Joo-won sit contemplating their bottles of liquor for a while before uncorking and drinking. To signal the enormity of the mojo they’re tapping into, as they drink, lightning flashes and a storm brews outside.

And in the morning….

Joo-won wakes up in bed and sees Oska lying beside him…

Only it’s Ra-im’s voice that thinks, “Am I dreaming? What a sweet dream.” S/he looks at Oska with adorable giddiness, pleased with her subconscious for conjuring such a delightful dream.

On the other hand, Ra-im’s body wakes up in the sauna, in a room of sleeping ajummas — where Joo-won’s voice wonders at his own strange dream.

Slowly, it starts to dawn on Ra-im… and Joo-won… that their dreams are too vivid.

Ra-im (in Joo-won’s body, or as I might have to call her, Ra-Him) stumbles out of bed, looks down at her strange hands… and registers a strange presence, um, below.

Meanwhile, Joo-won-in-Ra-im’s-body (what shall we call her/him? Joo-won-ita? Lady Joo-won?) puts a hand to his/her chest, and realizes that there’s more there than there used to be…


I know that Joo-won is written as the world’s most supreme dickwad specifically because he’s going to get served in the coming episodes. And the more egregious the offenses now, the more satisfying the downfall later. I get that, and I look forward to it.

Even so, I think they pushed him just a wee bit too far for my liking in this episode. If the body-switch hadn’t happened at the end of this episode, I may have hated him too much for even the promise of turnaround to mollify. There’s a line between making the hero a misunderstood, or maybe stunted, or maybe socially inept blunderer who just doesn’t know how to be a nice guy, and making the hero a hateful asshat. Unfortunately, I don’t think Joo-won is aware such a line exists, nor does he care, because lines are for common people. Back it up a bit there, buddy.

That said, props to Hyun Bin for going for it and portraying the character’s privileged, arrogant, offensively superior attitude. And if the last few seconds of this episode are any indication, he’s going to be amazing to watch as the girly Ra-im.

By the way, feel free to throw out suggestions for what to call these two when they’re body-switched. I found that when doing Who Are You, it was necessary to call the main character by different names to make it clear who was in whose body at any given point. (There, it was Seung-hyo when he was normal, and SeungHyoDad when he was possessed by the spirit of Dad.) I have a sneaking suspicion that referring to these characters might get a wee bit confusing without clear monikers to establish who we’re talking about.


239 November 29, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 6

by girlfriday

Oh, the goodness. There is SO MUCH of it to go around. I knew it’d be explosive when they started inhabiting each other’s bodies, but this? This is drama heaven. I can’t promise that the schtick won’t grow old, but if Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won keep playing it up like they do here, they can go ahead and beat these gender-bendy shenanigans into the ground.

For naming purposes, we’re going with soul-first / body-second. So: Ra-Him for Ra-im-in-Joo-won’s-body (played by Hyun Bin) and Joo-wanda for Joo-won-in-Ra-im’s-body (played by Ha Ji-won). Got it? Okay. I couldn’t pass up Joo-wanda. I mean, who could pass up Joo-wanda?


Joo-wanda and Ra-Him wake up the whole of Jeju Island with their screams, as they each freak out over their new…assets. They both make their way over to mirrors, and doubly freak out to find out just exactly whose bodies they’re in. Ra-Him does an especially girly jump-hop in front of the mirror that makes me so giddy for all the girliness to come.

She tears out of the hotel room, leaving Oska to wonder if maybe he did something in his sleep. (Ew! Aren’t you first cousins?!) She’s greeted outside by screaming fans, who let out a collective “aw man” when they see that it’s just some random dude, and not Oska. Heh, that’s probably the first time Binnie’s ever gotten that response from a group of fangirls.

Joo-wanda comes running over to the hotel, having run out of the sauna without changing. There, outside the room, they meet face-to-face, and stare gobsmacked at…well, their own faces. Can you imagine the strangeness of your own face staring back at you?

I like that they don’t have to go through the very obvious you’re-in-my-body-and-I’m-in-yours conversation, since, duh—it’s clear they’ve been switched. They don’t know how it happened (although Joo-wanda doesn’t lose the opportunity to insinuate that Ra-Him somehow did this to him), and he tells her to meet him around in front, but discreetly, since he owns the joint. She snarks that he says that everywhere he goes, and he says that’s because it’s true. You have a point. But it doesn’t make you any less of a snot.

Ra-Him gets sidetracked by the appearance of Seul, as she wonders how a woman so young became a director. Yeah, it’s called Daddy’s Money. You’ll soon find out what that’s about. Joo-wanda catches her peeping, and drags her out, only to be cut off by Jong-soo.

He addresses Joo-wanda by his usual informal speech, eliciting a very pointed reaction from him. Hahaha. This dynamic is going to be endlessly funny. Jong-soo stares strangely, and the situation only gets stranger for him, as Ra-Him apologizes for “Gil Ra-im’s” rudeness.

She nudges him to apologize and not forget who she is, getting an insincere “sorry” out of him. Jong-soo decides that he needs to talk some sense into Joo-wanda, grabbing him by the wrist. Ra-Him jumps in to stop him, but then when Jong-soo tells her to butt out, she hangs back meekly.

As he’s getting dragged away, Joo-wanda says, “Aren’t you going to stop me? What am I, just supposed to go with this guy?” Bwahahaha. Ra-Him decides that she has to assert herself here, and insists that she’ll take care of Joo-wanda right now. She grabs him by the wrist (Heh) and takes him away, as Jong-soo and Seul watch curiously.

She had also made him bow his head at Jong-soo, which he gripes about when they’re alone, because he doesn’t even bow to his own grandfather that way (who he calls by title, “President,” rather than grandfather). She reminds him that it’s HER head bowing, not his, but he replies that while he’s in there, it’s his head too.

They’re interrupted when Ra-Him asks just how much he drank last night…and then proceeds to do the pee dance, as Joo-wanda’s eyes widen in horror. Ruh-roh. How to pee with boy parts? He waits outside the bathroom, and asks how things are going, adding that she should just go like she normally would….as Ra-Him lets out a scream of terror from the stall. Oh my god, I’m dying.

They sit down in a café, and Ra-Him hangs her head down in defeat. She starts to cry, and Joo-wanda snaps at her to just TRY crying with his face. She spits back why he didn’t trade bodies with Kim Tae-hee or Jeon Do-yeon. Heh.

Joo-wanda tries to think through the problem rationally, but can’t focus because of his falling bra strap. Ra-Him tells him to shorten it, and reaches into his shirt to help him do it, startling everyone around them. Uh, awkward. They decide to take it outside.

Joo-wanda decides that this isn’t a problem to be solved the usual way, and shuts down all of Ra-Him’s suggestions—a doctor, a fortuneteller, a church, a temple. She says there’s only one thing left then…a kiss. Omo.

Ra-Him says that it’s what happens in all fairy tales—crazy stuff happens, and then a kiss puts everything back. This is an unusual problem, so they need to go with an unusual solution. Joo-wanda asks if it’s the best they’ve got, but it’s ALL they’ve got, so they decide to try it.

Joo-wanda: Okay, but we have to decide beforehand. Light peck, or heavy…
Ra-Him: We’ll know when we’re there. Close your eyes.


She goes in, and lands a light peck. Joo-wanda smiles involuntarily, but when he opens his eyes, nothing’s changed. Cue cawing crow to signal awkward failure.

He decides it’s because there wasn’t enough contact (heh), and pulls her in for a real kiss, long enough for both of them to get into it, and forget about the reason that they’re kissing in the first place. They’re about to get handsy in the middle of the kissing, but they catch themselves, and pull apart. Aw, man!

Back at the Mysterious Garden, the mysterious lady turns out to be…Ra-im’s father. Ten points for those who guessed it in the last episode. He watches their mystical reflection and apologizes to Joo-won, saying that it was the only thing he could do to save his daughter. Oh, no you di’n’t, Cancer. Stay away, or I will smite thee!

Joo-wanda teases her that she just wanted to kiss him (Dude, you’re the one who initiated the makeout session) and further gripes that if they end up like this permanently, she has nothing to lose.

Incredulous, Ra-Him agrees that he’s right—then she’ll just need his PIN number and birthdate, so that she can clear out his bank account, buy everyone at the action school a new car, produce an action film, buy Ah-young an officetel, oh and yeah…marry someone horrible that he’ll never be able to endure. Hahaha.

She leans in close, stopping for a moment to stare, kind of surprised by her own face: “So this is what I look like…” to which Joo-wanda scoffs, “Wow. Listen, I’m amazed at how handsome I am too, but I’m keeping that to myself!” Pfft. So I guess there’s no chance the soul-switching knocked the arrogant out of your ass?

Ra-Him’s phone rings, but she realizes that it’s not on her person, so she goes digging around in Joo-wanda’s pockets. Joo-wanda can’t control being ticklish all of a sudden, and giggles adorably.

Ra-Him is due on set, and tells Joo-wanda that they have to go, otherwise she’ll be fired. He doesn’t care, so Ra-Him says she’ll have to go straight to Seul and confess…how yesterday he was just playing hard to get. Joo-wanda’s eyes widen in horror and he chases after her, exasperated at how short his legs are now. Heh.

Back at Oska’s suite, his manager tries to get him out of his funk to shoot the video, reminding him how much he secretly wanted to see Seul. He advises him to face her, and start over, or get over her, but Oska confesses that he doesn’t have the courage to do either.

Ra-Him and Joo-wanda head back to the sauna to pick up her stuff, and Joo-wanda hilariously does a double-take at a well-endowed woman, ready to follow her into the women’s locker room to change. Ra-Him grabs him by the scruff of his collar, telling him that he’s not allowed to change (because she doesn’t want him seeing her naked body).

They get interrupted with the shoot for Ra-im’s getaway date with Oska…only now he’s hugging Joo-wanda who tells him to get lost, as Ra-Him apologizes. He seems more confused by his cousin being nice, than by Ra-im seeming to be cold.

They make it back to the hotel room to clean up and get changed, and Joo-wanda heads in for a shower. Ra-Him stops him, saying that she’ll clean her own body. Joo-wanda: “So…what you’re saying is…you want us to look at your body…together?” Ra-him: “Pervert.” Pwahaha.

She says that it can wait a day (in case things magically go back to normal tomorrow), so they’ll just wash their faces. He starts with shaving her face (aw, so cute) but she says she can handle it—she shaves too. Joo-wanda asks, interest piqued, “Where?” She just shrugs coyly.

With a command to keep his eyes closed, Ra-Him hands him a bra to put on, but he struggles to get it on and gives up. She shows him how to do it herself, adding that he’s probably faking it, since he’s taken dozens of bras, off of dozens of girls before.

Joo-wanda: “Yeah, but putting them on is different from taking them off.” Ha. Ain’t that the truth. But wearing them is really the hardest part, especially if you’re getting into any bras with verbs: push, lift, separate…there’s no good there. What I’ve learned is: verb + bra = bad.

Oska shows up to the video shoot, but refuses to do anything but close-ups, leaving Jong-soo to do all the heavy lifting. He sits and broods over Seul, clearly not over her in any way. His ex Chae-rin shows up, having been cast by Seul, but thinking that it was Oska’s doing.

Back in Seoul, Joo-won’s mother meets with his shrink, asking in her condescending way why she’s been coming by his place—does she sleep with him? Dr. Lee is clearly used to her, and deals with her coolly. Mother has asked her there to consult on older women’s likelihood of pregnancy, but succeeds in belittling her, just for fun. That thing you feel on the back of your neck? Yeah, that’s horror.

Mommie Dearest meets up with Oska’s mom, and the sisters have a meltdown over the possibility that their father might actually succeed at having a son with his new wife. As the only heirs to the family fortune, they obviously can’t have another sibling now, and a SON at that, who would inherit everything.

Ra-Him and Joo-wanda show up to the video shoot, and Ra-Him apologizes to Jong-soo, bowing again. Jong-soo just gets angrier at her apology-by-proxy, and Joo-wanda suggests they discuss it over a cigarette.

Cue chorus of stunned silence. Jong-soo: “You…smoke?” Joo-wanda: “I…..do….NOT. Coffee, then?”

Ra-Him trails after them, donning a wig…um…why now? Whatever, there’s no reason but it’s freakin’ hilarious. She tries very badly to spy on them, and meanwhile Joo-wanda figures out the score with Jong-soo in two seconds flat. He announces that his crush has been found out, smirking arrogantly. Jong-soo just slinks away, unable to say anything. Aw, he was pathetic enough when Ra-im was driving her own body, but now with Joo-won behind the wheel, he’s done for.

Ra-Him returns to the set and hands out refreshments to her sunbaes, overzealously acting like her usual self. Oska shows up, and at Ra-Him’s formal greeting, he decides something’s really up with his cousin, and feels her face for a fever. She smiles sweetly, blushing, as her right foot pops up in her signature girlish gesture. Hahaha.

Oska shoots his scene with Chae-rin, a car chase followed by a dramatic plea not to leave. Seul makes them do take after take, dissatisfied with the acting, and stops the production to ask him publicly whether or not he knows what it’s like to hurt because you lost the person you love. He lies no. She’s happy to tell him, and continues to unburden all her pent-up pain, at having to cry alone for fear of ruining his reputation, all the while believing that he never hurt at all because of her.

Well clearly there’s some GIANT misunderstanding here, not that both parties in a breakup don’t ultimately feel hurt and betrayed anyway, but they both feel like they are the ONLY ones who felt that way. It’s enough to send Oska packing, as Ra-Him observes the whole scene keenly.

She goes up to Seul afterwards, with a kind word that it was clear she was telling her own story. Seul just assumes that Joo-won has found out her past with Oska, and declares that she’s had her share of experience with love, but she’s done now. She asks that he do the same, and come around to her, when he’s done playing with Ra-im. Good grief, woman. Ra-Him stands agape, realizing just how different their worlds really are.

She tells Joo-wanda that Seul isn’t actually into him, while he tells her that her director IS. Into her, that is. Sheesh. This is confusing. She flatly denies it (clueless girl) and leaves to go room with Oska gleefully. Tee hee.

Joo-wanda tries to stop her, putting one leg out in front of her, and she knocks it out of the way, muttering, “There’s nothing to see anyway.” Hahaha. He shouts, “You saw everything, didn’t you?!” Well, she had to pee, remember??

Ra-Him sneaks quietly into Oska’s room, and freaks out when he appears in nothing but a towel. She shyly turns her back and offers him a robe. Oska doesn’t know what’s gotten into his cousin, but he likes it, whatever it is—because it’s the first time he’s felt like his little brother again since the accident. He catches himself (presumably Joo-won wouldn’t stand for his accident to be mentioned), and glosses over it. Iiiiiiiiiinteresting.

He jovially pats Ra-Him on the chest, making her do this:

…and scream bloody murder, as Joo-wanda bursts in to make sure it’s all on the up and up. In order to make her stay in the other room (he can’t have her staying here with another man!) Joo-wanda starts coming on to Oska, with his best oppa-pout-wiggle. Classic. Ra-Him watches horrified, as he asks if he can spend the night here with oppa, making her leave in a huff.

Having gotten the wrong idea, of course, Oska thinks he’s settling in for a cozy evening with Ra-im, but Joo-wanda just tsk-tsks him in his head, and leaves him hanging.

Everyone does some soulful staring in an angst-go-round, and Joo-wanda sits in his hotel room, finally coming to a very important decision…he’s just going to take one peek. Heh. He starts lifting up his (her?) shirt, but then sees all her scars and bruises, and discovers that her body is literally covered in them.

They wake up the next morning, hoping against hope…but find that they’re still swapped. Joo-wanda comes over to Oska’s suite, and finds Ra-Him there alone, with a note from Oska saying that he’s left early.

Joo-wanda sighs that she may as well wash up then, making Ra-Him rush him in protest. He just throws back the same insult she did yesterday: “Nothing to see anyway…” He lifts up the shirt to ask how a woman’s body can have so many scars and bruises, as Ra-Him tackles him to keep him from showering.

Rawr, with the skinship! She wraps her arms and legs around him and they struggle, which is exactly when Seul arrives.



Not really a cliffhanger, as far as endings go, since Seul is neither someone we care about yet, nor a real presence in Joo-won’s life. She basically told Ra-Him to play around and just come around to her, so really, they’re just doing what she said to do. Would’ve been more dramatic if Jong-soo had discovered them, as he seemed to be the more invested party in this episode.

As for the switch, I love the physicality of these two actors. They embody the switch so naturally, in their posture and their gestures. Hyun Bin is killing it with his comedic sense, but so is Ha Ji-won, as the arrogant bastard trapped in the body of a much shorter woman. Somehow Joo-won’s loss of stature in her body just makes him that much funnier as a character. He’s immediately taken down a peg, because he doesn’t get to do whatever he wants, and he’s beholden to her in such a perfect way—she’s driving around his body, so he’d better do as she says. As for Ha Ji-won, I love that she gets to play the aggressor now—her smirky faces are so spot-on, and she owns everything, from the kiss down to the surly attitude.

What’s great about the swap is that it serves as an awesome new excuse for skinship. That’s not me touching YOU. That’s me touching ME. Wait. That sounds dirty. You know what I mean. They feel at ease to get all handsy with each other, because they still feel like that other body is theirs. Because the ownership goes both ways, they have no qualms about being all over each other, but get squeamish if the other is about to shower or go to the bathroom. My inner twelve-year old is squealing in delight.

Before, I was mildly interested in the scenes with other characters, but now that the switch has happened and it’s nonstop comedy hour with those two, it actually angers me when we cut away to the other characters. Thankfully, we don’t do it too much, otherwise I’d be throwing things. I do really enjoy how Oska is being used as a triangle-but-not, as a middleman for affections, a rival, a brother. Their post-swap interactions with him are priceless. Don’t even get me started on the genius of Binnie’s girlish swooning over Oska.

I honestly don’t know how we’re going to get anywhere in the story if they keep up this level of tomfoolery. Not that I’m complaining. It’s the best thing since carbonated makgulli. But pausing 47 hundred times in one episode for laughter isn’t productive for anyone. I’m also enjoying that it’s a different kind of laugh-a-minute tone. For example, with My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, I laughed in a that’s-so-hysterically-cute-it-kills-me way, but here it’s an I-delight-in-your-comeuppance sort of gleeful laughter. Does that make me evil? Wait. Don’t answer that.


182 December 4, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 7

by javabeans

If Episode 6 was a fantastically zany, nonstop hour of insane body-swap antics, then Episode 7 is a dash of that mixed with more of an emotional element. Always welcome, in my book.

Also: If the naming gets confusing, just remember: The name that it sounds like (Ra-Him = Ra-im) is the name of the actual soul/spirit/character. The second part of the name is there to remind us that the soul is in the opposite body.


Secret Garden OST – “Here I Am” (Piano version) [ Download ]

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So here we are with both characters in swapped bodies, arguing over allowing (or not allowing) Joo-woman, or is it Joo-wonita?, to shower. Ra-Him is mortified at the idea of him seeing her female body and wrestles Joo-wonella, trying to prevent him from taking any further liberties with HER body.

And how is Seul to interpret this tableau but the obvious? She says in her cold staccato that she didn’t take Joo-won to be this kind of man, while Ra-Him stares up at her with (Joo-won’s) widened, mortified eyes. Joo-woman, on the other hand, sneers at Seul, more affronted by Seul’s unannounced entry into his room than at the misunderstanding at hand.

Too bad for him that Seul writes this off as mere male hormones and says that Joo-won still has a chance with her. Not that he asked for one, but the delusion is strong with this one.

With Oska ditching the MV shoot, everyone returns to Seoul, where it becomes clear that Joo-won’s claustrophobia has in fact transferred to his new body; everyone looks at Ra-im curiously because she’s sweating and nauseous, which gets attributed to motion sickness.

Ignoring Jong-soo’s dissatisfaction with his stuntwoman’s strange behavior, Joo-wonita tells the others to go on to the action school without him (her), because (s)he’s got something to say to Mr. Chaebol, which is “a matter of life and death for me.” Ra-Him bursts out that that sounds like they’re in a strange relationship, but Joo-wonda retorts that they’re not exactly “normal” at present, and drags Ra-Him off by the wrist.

Joo-woman drives the two of them to his compound, saying that this is the safest place for them, free from prying eyes. He means for Ra-Him to move in and quit her stunt job — they clearly can’t maintain BOTH their jobs — to which she balks, asking why it’s only his job that matters, but not hers? Ah, she’s finally starting to understand him.

This is when Joo-won’s mother, Madam Moon, appears, and boy does this make things awkward. Not to mention chilly; you can practically hear the ice forming as she turns her disapproving look onto Joo-wonda, who forgets his outward appearance and blurts, “Mother.” Mama Snob takes offense, because in her eyes the low-class upstart is being presumptuous by calling her “Mother,” as though Ra-im is already picking out the wedding china.

Ra-Him tries to assure Mommie Dearest that they aren’t living together, to which the latter asks, “Then what’s all that clothing in the closet?”

Joo-wonisha immediately realizes what she means, but Ra-Him is left wondering until Mom presents them with the clothing Joo-won had once thrown at Ra-im’s feet, then had wrapped up — clearly he’d meant to give it to her at some point. Joo-wonita hurriedly grabs the clothing, but Ra-Him takes a look anyway and recognizes it. Realizing what this is, Ra-Him says pointedly to Mom, “SHE must have bought it herself.”

The problem (and narrative strength) about this body-swap is that both characters have to stand there while Mom heaps abuse on Ra-im. Joo-wonda wants to protest, but as his words are coming out of Ra-im’s mouth, Mom just barrels right over his feeble defenses, asking if she’s going to have to resort to paying her off and throwing water in her face to get her to leave her son. Ra-Him isn’t the type to defend herself, so she just stands there quietly taking this in, feeling the sting of the words, even if they’re directed at the other body.

Some magical veil drops over the scene briefly, to show what things would look like with the proper souls in their own bodies — I wonder if they thought it would be too hard to follow the emotions, otherwise? — and now we see Joo-won driving, while Ra-im gazes out the window with tears in her eyes, clutching the clothing. Joo-won apologizes for his mother, but she retorts that Mom’s hurtful words were nothing compared to the ones he said to her.

Even so, Joo-won feels that their body-swap was fortunate in this case, since she didn’t bear the brunt of it. He admits that although he knew that life was different on the other end of the income bracket, he didn’t expect it to be so severe. She tells him to consider this experience a cultural exchange.

And that magic veil drops again, showing us the characters in proper body-swap mode.

Since they’ll have to be prepared to live out each other’s lives, they’ll have to get down the basics: Joo-woman starts by showing Ra-Him his family tree, beginning with his grandfather, the chairman of LOEL Group, who’s working on his fourth marriage. Then there are his daughters — Oska’s mother is from his second marriage, and Joo-won’s mother from the third. They don’t get along (and, like their sons, are engaged in a constant game of oneupsmanship).

Like a true son, though, when Ra-im comments that his aunt is beautiful, he retorts that Auntie has had work done, while his mother hasn’t.

Last but not least: The most insidious character of them all, LOEL department store’s Director Park, who is Joo-won’s employee AND his step-grandmother’s brother. Beware of him and ignore his calls. In fact, he instructs Ra-Him to ignore all calls but his.

Ra-Him protests when Joo-wonita warns him to stay far away from Oska as well, but he warns that if she doesn’t, he’ll go to Jong-soo and ask him out. I love that this is their blackmail to keep the other one in line: Stay put or I’ll flirt with your body! Hehe.

Joo-wonda is taken aback when it’s Ra-Him’s turn to explain her personal connections, which are startlingly sparse. There’s Ah-young, Jong-soo, and the action school family. No family. Joo-wonda reacts to this, almost like he thinks to himself that even if his family is infuriating and dysfunctional, at least he has one.

In the wake of the aborted Jeju shoot, Seul and Manager Choi are left to handle the mess and field reporter calls.

Manager Choi angrily confiscates Oska’s passport and car keys, knowing he’s booked a getaway flight to the Philippines. He’s grounded — literally! Fed up with Oska’s diva antics, Manager Choi threatens to sell his stock in Oska Entertainment and walk away.

Ra-Him drops Joo-wonella off at her apartment, where he looks around in horror at the shabby place. Ah-young welcomes her roommate with open arms, which leads to Joo-wonda staring openly at Ah-young’s boobs. Heh.

Ah-young looks through Joo-wonella’s bags of designer clothing gleefully, supposing that Joo-won bought them for Ra-im, and relates a curious dream she had last night. Her dreams are always spot-on, and this one featured Ra-im and Joo-won speeding along in a car, watched by “ajusshi.” She means Ra-im’s father, but Joo-wonda is so distracted by Ah-young’s womanly parts that he asks confusedly, “Ajusshi? Who, Won Bin?”

Secretary Kim drops by to give Ah-young a gift — the fancy tonics that Joo-won drinks — and to brag about how important he is to his boss. Joo-wonita sneers at the lies and shoots off a warning text to Secretary Kim, who’s immediately alarmed.

So when Ra-Him appears in the doorway — she’s uneasy about leaving Joo-woman there with her roomie — Secretary Kim falls to his knees and blubbers his apologies, thinking his boss has appeared to punish him.

Ra-Him takes Ah-young aside to give her a few earnest warnings, but Ah-young is confused to hear her boss telling her that he values her and thinks warmly of her.

Ra-Him powers forward and informs her friend that Ra-im is going to be acting strangely for a while, and that Ah-young must be careful to keep at a distance and not walk around in her underwear anymore. Ha. Can you still cock-block if one of those words don’t apply?

While the ladies talk, Secretary Kim paces nervously as Joo-wonita glares at him, and he says uneasily that her gaze seems familiar. Joo-wonita agrees, warning him, “You are deaaaaad.”

Joo-woman doesn’t take kindly to Ra-Him warning her roommate against him, so he takes petty joy in withholding the passcode to his house, leaving her stranded outside in the cold. Ra-Him tries to guess the PIN, wondering if perhaps it scans fingerprints or retinas instead, but can’t crack the code.

So off it is to Oska’s.

Ra-Him’s not quite as drooly in Oska’s presence as she was last time, although she forgets herself enough to let slip that she really loves the song he’s playing. And then she cooks dinner, leaving Oska gaping in shock at his cousin’s culinary proficiency. Also his newfound niceness.

What she cooks is simple, hearty Korean food — not the fancy stuff the cousins are used to — but it’s cooked well. Oska’s so bewildered that he tells Ra-Him to eat first, thinking it might be poisoned.

Suspicious, he wonders if this is retaliation for his Jeju behavior. In his defense, he’s sorry he didn’t fulfill the romantic weekend prize with Ra-im, whom he liked — she’s smart, pretty, and shapely. Ra-Him smiles, pleased at this praise, though it fades when Oska comments that Joo-won’s relationship with that “apartment-renting girl” is going on longer than he expected. And there’s some sort of bet between the cousins involving her.

Oska plays a song for Ra-Him, and she barely holds her giddiness in at his proximity. It’s a song that he says is similar to the title song on his upcoming 7th album, and that comment spins him off into a flashback from earlier in the day.

Tae-sun had found him at the Jeju arirport to return his mp3 player — it fell out of his pocket that night he ended up in jail — which contains works-in-progress intended for Oska’s next album. While slinging a few more insults about Oska’s lack of musical talent, Tae-sun tells him that he added a song to the device that he should give a listen.

Oska gets a text from Manager Choi to expect him and Seul tomorrow, so he hurriedly packs and exits the house from Joo-won’s door — where Ra-Him has been unsuccessfully trying to guess his passcode.

Oska wants to borrow Joo-won’s car, and impatiently flips through Ra-Him’s pockets to retrieve the keys, leading to a string of hilarious facial expressions at the unexpected pat-down:

Ra-Him confides that she’s forgotten the passcode, writing it off as stress. Oska advises his cousin to check it out with Ji-hyun (Dr. Lee), then tells him the passcode, which turns out to be the measurements of Joo-won’s “dream body” — 36-24-34. HA! But even more hilarious is Ra-Him’s worried reaction: “Oh no! Ah-young!”

Ra-Him acquaints herself with Joo-won’s expansive home, marveling at the high-tech luxuries, and also texts Jong-soo to apologize for her behavior earlier.

Meanwhile, Joo-wonita grimaces in bed, dissatisfied with the uncomfortable mattress. However, Ah-young hilariously misinterprets that as sulking. She thinks Ra-im’s upset that Joo-won has seemingly transferred his affections from Ra-im to Ah-young, and sighs guiltily.

Later that night, Ah-young rolls over in her sleep and tosses a leg over Joo-wonita’s body, giving him an ample look at her “ideal” assets. Unable to shake her off, Joo-woman does the only thing he knows how to do to cope: he recites his familiar refrain to distract himself.

Ra-Him can’t sleep either, and spies a key on Joo-won’s night table, recognizing it as her motorcycle key. Of course, Joo-wonisha has to go and ruin the moment by texting her a “hint” about the passcode having four digits. She mutters, “That jerk,” and goes back to bed.

Ra-Him enjoys riding the motorcycle to her apartment in the morning and asking Joo-wonella how he fished out the key. He deflects the question, and wonders how Ra-Him figured out the house code, which earns him a disgusted glare back and a muttered, “Pervert.”

In response, Joo-wonda peeks down his shirt and smirks, noting how she’s sensitive about the topic — does she want him to go ahead and give her a boob job?

When dressing to go to action school, Joo-wonda picks an outfit HE likes — a red coat and lacy top — which mortifies Ra-Him, since it’s so far from her usual style.

Ra-Him raises a fist threateningly, so Joo-wonda takes advantage of appearances and cries out, “Help me! This tall, handsome man is about to hit me, a woman!” Ra-Him responds by pulling Joo-wonda into a “hug” and explains, “It’s just because she’s so beautiful, from her head to her toes!” Heh.

Jong-soo reads Ra-Him’s apology text, which asks him to have faith in her despite the confusion her appearance and behavior may elicit. The message mollifies his hurt, but that just flares up when Joo-wonda arrives at action school dressed in her fancy clothing and sporting some major ‘tude.

Although Jong-soo’s satisfied to see Ra-im carrying the purse he gave her, that’s dashed when she (er, Joo-wonda) tosses it carelessly aside. Still, he gives her a screenplay that she’d been looking forward to, for “Dark Blood,” a Hollywood project looking for an Asian actress. It’s a rare, promising opportunity for her.

It’s a hot project whose script has been notoriously hard to get a hold of, so Jong-soo expects a more grateful reaction. Instead, Joo-wonisha skims the script and reads aloud — in English — the screen directions for an action scene, scoffing in his sexist way that this is too dangerous for a woman.

Jong-soo can’t make sense of it, so he tries to lay everything out on the table and admits that she was right about his feelings. (The word he uses has the connotation of finding out something that was supposed to remain hidden.) So if that’s why she’s acting like this, there’s no need — they’ll both keep their personal feelings separate from their work. At this, Joo-won thinks to himself, “He doesn’t like Gil Ra-im — he loves her.”

Joo-wonisha agrees to ignore the discovery of Jong-soo’s feelings, in exchange for his agreement to never confess his feelings officially. Aw… that’s kind of a low blow, isn’t it, Joo-won? Using your circumstances to knock off your competition? Well, they say all’s fair in love and war…

Ra-Him arrives at the department store that morning on motorcycle, which is a curious sight for all the employees — especially when the formerly snooty boss now bows respectfully to them and offers to take the elevator. Hilariously, Ah-young hears the news with heavy heart, assuming that it’s a sacrifice made for her benefit. LOL.

Director Park is surprised, since he knows Joo-won’s well-hidden claustrophobia secret, which he’d tucked away as his trump card against him. He and his secretary try to interpret what this means, overanalyzing the gesture — perhaps Joo-won was faking the illness all along. Then, his elevator trip today must be a sign that he’s ready to throw down. Eep!

At lunch, Secretary Kim looks perplexed as Ra-Him eats, because she chooses lowly foods — ddukkbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce) and soondae (blood sausage made by stuffing intestines).

When Ra-Him asks about Ah-young, Secretary Kim immediately thinks that she’s going to be punished and pleads for mercy. Instead, Ra-Him just asks about her salary, as though intending to raise it. Director Park doesn’t understand what this strange behavior means, but he assumes it’s not good for him.

Both Ra-Him and Joo-wonita are called by a frazzled Manager Choi, because Oska has fled once again, albeit without his passport. Ra-Him speaks up for Oska and offers to take responsibility for the situation and bring him back. Any sort of kindness between the cousins is odd, so the manager has to wonder if this suddenly nice Joo-won is drunk.

When Ra-Him admits that Oska took Joo-won’s car, Joo-wonita immediately gets on the phone to report it stolen.

Oska is, at the moment, lost in thought as he strolls along a golf course, remembering a happier time when he’d taken Seul on a date here. Seul, thinking the same thing, also heads here to find him. She’s too late, however, and arrives one step behind the police, who have arrested him for car theft.

Ra-Him finds these measures extreme, but Joo-wonita replies that she oughtn’t feel too sorry for Oska, who’s more than capable of treating him similarly.

Even the cop advises that the cousins settle this amongst themselves, but Joo-wonisha counters firmly, “Lock him up.”

Oska looks puzzledly at Joo-wonita from behind bars, wondering why he’s facing Ra-im when he’d asked to see his cousin. Joo-wonita presents herself as Joo-won’s spokesperson, and faces him with an offer.

Joo-wonita refers to the Jeju challenge wherein both cousins vowed to win Ra-im — a fact that Ra-Him hears with interest. Now Joo-wonita offers Oska a deal: If Oska gives up his part in that bet, Joo-won will drop the car theft case.

Oska replies that Joo-won can be a mean mofo but doesn’t resort to cheap tricks. The fact that he’s stooping to these depths now means that Ra-im must mean a lot to him.

Once again, the magic veil falls to show us the scene with the souls in the proper bodies, which I suspect the drama’s gonna do every time a scene is particularly important. It’s like they want to make sure we absorb the full impact, so now Joo-won stands facing his cousin.

Joo-won merely replies, “That must be the case.”

As Ra-im and Seul look on, Oksa returns, “But that’s too bad — I can’t give her up, either. Tell Joo-won this for me: That I won’t have Gil Ra-im stolen from me. That I don’t care if he doesn’t drop charges.”


Woo, the emotions are developing at a brisk pace, no? I don’t really think that Oska’s connection to Ra-im extends beyond the superficial — he’s still way too hurt by Seul’s desertion and hasn’t had enough time to develop any real bonds with Ra-im — but I love that his stance here gives Joo-won no quarter, either. Joo-won could deduce that Jong-soo loves Ra-im from his actions, and we can do the same with him — the way he’s intent on shutting down other contenders for Ra-im’s affections. He’s going about it all wrong, but the fact that he’s going to such extremes to do it — and “stooping” when he never did before — is more telling than the words he says.

Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of the magic veil swapping the bodies back and forth just to remind us who’s really who. Like we’re gonna forget? The switch is pounded into every moment of this drama, and we are surely aware of the true identities, so why rob us of some great potential acting moments from Ha Ji-won and Hyun Bin? They’re so fantastic at the comedy, both physical and verbal, so it feels like a cheat to take away the dramatic moments.

Ha Ji-won stealing a look down her own shirt, Hyun Bin giggling (and then almost moaning) when Oska pats him down, Ra-im simpering when she acts like Joo-won acting like Ra-im… these bits are GOLD, I tell you. It’s a shame to withhold their dramatic equivalents. I’m loving their two-man comedy hour so much that I wish we could just skip over every scene not involving them.


273 December 6, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 8

by girlfriday

We’ve got kissing, handholding, bed-hopping, and towel-dropping, and that’s all in the first half hour. Our body-swapped souls get entangled in each other’s affairs, further complicated by the heartbreak rivalry going on between Oska and Seul. It’s funny that both cousins are fighting, but neither is fighting for the same girl…except for purposes of maximum annoyance. Let the best man-child win.


Oska repeats that he won’t give up on the bet over Ra-im, which we see is entirely for Seul’s benefit, as he watches her leave with angry tears forming in his eyes. It has the added benefit, though, of stunning Ra-Him, to Joo-wanda’s great displeasure.

But Oska confesses to Joo-wanda that he’s just using “her,” in this fight against Seul…because he wants the fight to last a little longer. Joo-wanda sees that his cousin is actually sincere about this, whatever mixed-up feelings he’s got going on with Seul.

Meanwhile, Seul leaves to go back to the golf course, and she broods over a past love triangle with a jealous other guy who had promised to show her that Oska was just like other men. Well that’s just too easy, isn’t it? That’s the reason you broke up? Some doofus framed him? Gah.

Joo-wanda caves, and Ra-Him drops the charges. Outside, Oska enacts his revenge on Ra-Him in a childish headlock, which Joo-wanda refuses to help her out of. So she resorts to tickling Oska to get him to let go…and he starts to lose his balance. He lurches forward not to fall, landing him smack dab onto Ra-Him’s lips.

Hahahaaaaa. I knew this “kiss” was coming, but damn if it isn’t still gloriously lulzy.

Joo-wanda’s eyes widen in horror, and Oska is the first to pull away in disgust, spitting and freaking out. Ra-Him just grins sheepishly, as her foot goes up and she touches her lips, with that I-just-kissed-my-idol-oppa dreamy look on her face. Well, on Joo-won’s face that is.

He’s quick to remind her of that fact, running up and rubbing water on Ra-Him’s lips, yelling at her to scrub them clean. He accuses her of doing it on purpose. Well, she certainly couldn’t hide her reaction, though it was a happy accident.

Oska has already fled the scene of the kiss, having been freaked out by Ra-Him’s reaction more than anything. He tries to grab a taxi with no money, pathetically trying to jog the taxi driver’s memory with a song to prove that he’s famous. Joo-wanda drives right past him.

Magic veil of Un-switchiness: Ra-im gets out of the car and tells Joo-won to go ahead without her, as she plans on going back to get Oska. Joo-won doesn’t understand her over-extending care for his hapless cousin…does she like him?

She asks if that’s jealousy, but he scoffs that he’d ever be jealous of Oska, and HER, of all people. Joo-won: “You’d love it if I were jealous, wouldn’t you? Why are women like that?” Because it’s the ass backwards way of getting you to confess your feelings. Don’t you know anything about girls?

He concedes that he’ll be jealous then, if she stops caring about Oska. Haha. Are you actually trying to pretend like your jealousy is a favor? Pffft.

Ra-im isn’t falling for it, and explains that it’s not because she likes him, but because she’s his fan. For all the tough moments in her life—enduring abuse on set, losing her father—Oska’s songs were there for her through them all. She adds that it’s the first time she’s grateful for the body switch, because she has the chance to help Oska.

Joo-won promises to make her regret those words, just as Oska pulls up to the golf course in a cop car. Back to switched bodies. He yells at Ra-Him for leaving him behind (Even as he covers his lips at the sight of her. Heh.) and Joo-wanda steps in to say that it was his idea, because he dislikes Oska, and begins to rag on his has-been idolness, with has-been hair. Haha. Ra-Him can do nothing as she watches Joo-won in her own body insult her idol oppa.

Seul arrives and invites them all to stay for a weekend, since the golf resort is her family’s. Joo-wanda and Oska decline, but Ra-Him sees an opportunity for retaliation. She accepts the invite, and when Seul comes to her side and links her arm, Ra-Him pointedly takes her by the hand instead, to the horror of Joo-wanda and Oska. Kekeke. I love that they’re milking this switch for all its worth.

They start to walk away hand-in-hand, and Oska breaks them up, leading Seul away to talk. He asks what she’s trying to do with Joo-won, who is his cousin, and his younger brother. (Aw, I adore their love-hate brotherly relationship.) He tells her that Joo-won isn’t interested in her, and she laughs that Ra-im isn’t interested in Oska either, since she and Joo-won seem to be dating.

He asks what she’s doing with a guy who has a woman, and she spits back that she has lots of experience with those kind of men. Oska hangs his head at that remark. She adds that she’s not interested in Joo-won anyway. It’s his money and his status that she’s interested in. Ugh. Uh…points for honesty? I guess?

Oska wonders why she’s doing this to him when she’s the one who ended things, but she remembers it differently, as she flashes back to the love triangle, in a moment when the other guy baited Oska into denying that Seul meant anything to him. She of course overheard.

He reminds her that she’s the one who turned down his proposal and went abroad with the other guy. Geez, well then didn’t you already have your revenge? She muses that she was so pretty and naïve back then…what did she mean to him? He thinks she ought to know, since he said it all in the proposal.

They both agree to drop the music video, since Oska plans to scrap his seventh album anyway. Seul confesses to having used the video as an excuse to get close to Joo-won, but now it seems like marrying him will be the faster route. I can see why you loved her in the past, but do you still love her now? Really?

She finds Joo-wanda, and Ra-Him joins them, noticing that Seul’s cheeks are red from the cold. She warms them with her hands, making Joo-wanda’s eyes bug out in anger. Seul blushes and puts her hands on Ra-Him’s cheeks too, as Joo-wanda yells, “Take those hands off this instant!”

Later at dinner, as Ra-Him and Oska barbeque, Seul notes that she loves a man who cooks, and Ra-Him lays it on thick, that she thinks women who appreciate her cooking are the prettiest. She invites Seul over (to Joo-won’s house) so she can cook for her again, making sure to invite her over “late at night, so you can sleep over.”

Both Oska and Joo-wanda gag out loud at the disgusting display. Oska’s had enough, and he drags Ra-Him away to the sauna, to wash everything clean (starting with their lips, heh) and start over.

Oska soaks and Ra-Him comes tiptoeing into the men’s sauna, wrapped up to her chest in a towel. Oska yells at her, thinking she’s doing it on purpose because of their awkward kiss, and so she gingerly lowers her towel to her waist.

She’s about to step in to the pool that Oska is in, so he gets up to get out…

…as Ra-Him screams, bug-eyed, then faints. Pwahaha. What exactly were you expecting, in the men’s sauna?

In the women’s sauna, Seul blathers on about her “perfect” body, and Joo-wanda guesses that it’s all fat, while the body he’s in is all muscle. Heh.

Outside, Ra-im and Joo-won sit down for a drink, back in their own bodies under the mystical veil. Ra-im asks how it was, going to the sauna with a 36-24-34, and he counters that his ideal type has changed, to “a woman who can’t run for Miss Korea.” [Note: Kim Sa-rang, aka Seul, was a Miss Korea contestant.]

It’s not that she can’t; it’s that she won’t. Joo-won: “Yeah…because your skin is dark and you’re ugly.” Ra-im retorts that it’s not a thing for a guy with uneven butt cheeks to say. HA!

He points a finger at her perviness (yeah, takes one to know one, buddy) and she asks him why he’s even out here instead of sleeping. He’s curious about something that kept him up. Why she’s missing something that everyone else has. Ra-im: “There’s so much. What? Money? A House?” Joo-won: “A family.”

She sighs, as she tells him that her mother passed away soon after she was born, and her father told her that her eyes and her laugh were the same as Ra-im’s. Her dad was a firefighter who was brave and saved lots of lives, and he died on the job when she was seventeen.

Joo-won: Who raised you?
Ra-im: I grew up on my own.
Joo-won: On what money?
Ra-im: What the government gave me.
Joo-won: So all my taxes went to you.
Ra-im: Does it seem like a waste?
Joo-won: I should’ve paid more, if I knew I was raising you.
Ra-im: When I look at you like this, you’re not a total jerk.

The next morning, Seul and Oska each wake up in their beds…to find surprise visitors asleep next to them. They both freak out, while Ra-Him and Joo-wanda don’t realize that they’ve slept in the wrong beds, in their drunken haze.

By the time they realize their mistake, Seul and Oska have a glare-off in the hallway.

Commence breakfast of most awkward proportions. Thankfully, Oska’s manager calls to break up the frivolity with some bad news. Someone leaked the title song to his seventh album—the one that was plagiarized. He rushes off in Joo-won’s car, and Seul goes with him, leaving her car with Ra-Him and Joo-wanda.

Ra-Him gets a text from Jong-soo about the script for Dark Blood and asks Joo-wanda about it, excited for the film she’s been waiting her whole career for. She’s dying to do the stunts, until Joo-wanda has to remind her that she’s not a stuntwoman right now; she’s a department store boss.

But HE isn’t, since he’s in her body…so she tries to get him to at least audition for her. She insists that she can teach him, and Joo-wanda calls her crazy and walks off.

On the way to Seoul, Oska can’t take the tension with Seul anymore and ditches her on the side of the highway. That’s what you get, princess.

He goes after Tae-sun, thinking that he leaked the song (not so bright, our Oska) only to find out that the leak came somewhere from Seul’s office.

Joo-wanda decides to do a little shopping in the meantime, and takes his own credit card for a spin, buying sequined dresses that cost a small fortune. Ra-Him refuses to be party to it, so Joo-wanda signs for the purchase himself, telling her that he’ll just take all the clothes back once they’ve switched back.

I love that he actually relishes shopping for himself as a woman, like he’s living out some fantasy of dressing a Barbie doll or something, only now he gets to dress himself like his ideal woman. God, it’s sick AND hilarious.

Upstairs, Director Park gets wind of Ra-im signing for Joo-won’s purchase (hitting a particular nerve because he’s been trying to perfect Joo-won’s signature for weeks). He announces that there is only one reason why a man would be under a woman’s thumb: she must be pregnant. OH, BARF.

Joo-won’s mother keeps tabs on him via a housekeeper, who confirms that he’s acting a little strange lately. She confirms that Ra-im has been around, sending Mom into a tizzy for her secretary to track Ra-im down for a chat.

Joo-wanda steps out of the department store sporting yet another sequined tracksuit. Hahaha, it really IS the tracksuit that would not die.

Ra-Him takes even more issue with it now that it’s on her body, asking if that’s a tracksuit that a person in his right mind would wear. Well, no is the answer, but neither is Joo-wanda of sound mind. Just sayin’.

Ra-Him: “I’m going to kill that Italian artisan!” Hahahaha.

Joo-won’s mother calls Ra-im’s phone…only her son’s voice picks up the other line. She flips her lid that he’s answering Ra-im’s phone now, and demands to see her at once. Joo-wanda shows up, and as soon as Mother sees that tracksuit, she asks warily if they went to Italy together. Heh.

She shows her distaste for Ra-im quite clearly, and offers up an envelope of money, along with a contract that she won’t go near her son again. Joo-wanda peers at the envelope, noting what a tiny sum it is, and then asks if she’s done this sort of thing before. She confirms that it’s hardly her first time buying off an unworthy girlfriend, which Joo-wanda hears with a heavy sigh.

He goes straight to Dr. Lee’s office, and tells her what just transpired with Joo-won’s mother. He asks what “she” should do.

Dr. Lee sighs that his mom is still doing such things (seeming to confirm that she was once on the receiving end of just such a dismissal attempt), and tells him not to see Joo-won anymore. She doesn’t say it in a jealous way, but rather in a very pragmatic way.

Dr. Lee: He won’t be able to protect you. Because he has no reason to protect a common woman.

Whoa. Harsh. And yet, totally true. It definitely hits Joo-wanda right in the kisser, as it starts to dawn on him that perhaps he isn’t such a saint. It also makes me really curious as to just how close he was with Dr. Lee…before she became his shrink.

Meanwhile, Ra-Him gets stuck having to deal with Director Park, who presents her with a slew of things to decide on, and one in particular that Secretary Kim motions for her to sign herself.

Director Park walks away from the meeting bewildered at the sudden 180-turn of polite Joo-won, wondering what on earth he’s up to now. He opens the file that Ra-Him signed off on, and shrieks in horror: He’s changed his signature! Hahaha. Ra-Him signed his name in the girliest manner possible, all hearts instead of O’s, and meanwhile Director Park thinks it’s a way to undermine all the work it’s taken for him to learn Joo-won’s signature.

On her way out, Ra-Him stops to tell Director Park that his voice is “totally awesome.” Heh. She asks Secretary Kim what kind of boss Joo-won is, assuming correctly that he’s pretty much as rude and condescending as he is elsewhere.

They happen upon an uproar in the men’s department, where a VVIP (Really—they make it a point to call them V-V-I-Ps, like one “very” isn’t enough.) is accosting a sales clerk, grabbing her ass and then announcing that she’ll be fired when she dares to talk back.

Ra-Him walks up and tells him to shut his trap otherwise his jaw will come loose…and then decks him. Ha! Love her driving Joo-won’s body around. Such glee.

Ah-young comes home and tells Joo-wanda what happened, as his eyes bug out in horror. He texts Secretary Kim to call his lawyer, confusing the poor guy since Ra-Him is sitting right next to him.

He rushes into the police station, appalled to see Ra-Him sitting there handcuffed, eating soup. She admits to being in the wrong, but Joo-wanda rails into her for being exactly the same as she was that night, when she showed up with that dreaded handbag—that she’s never once thought about him. Somehow you live in a universe where that makes sense, but it doesn’t to the rest of us.

He decides to let her rot in jail, and calls off the lawyer, and even tells the pervert VVIP to press charges and not let up. Ra-Him tries to remind him that it’s his body (which Secretary Kim overhears), but Joo-wanda is having none of it, and leaves.

Just then, a mystical storm brews outside, and it starts to pour. As soon as Joo-wanda steps out into the mystical rain, their souls magically get swapped back. Joo-won finds himself in his own body, handcuffed in the police station, and Ra-im is back in hers, standing in the rain.

She rushes back inside, and she and Joo-won look at each other, as smiles spread across their faces, and Ra-im jumps for joy.

They’re back!


Really, Show? Mystical hoodoo rain? That’s the thing that brings them back? Apropos of nothing? No lessons learned, no big revelations, no walk a mile in her shoes kind of thing? Just whammo, presto, change-o? Boo. Big fat boo.

Is that all they were going to do with the body switch? What on earth is the point of that? I mean, comedy aside (which is a big reason to love it, sure) I hope we’re going to get bigger consequences. There’d better be, Show.

Truthfully, as much as I loved Episode 6’s crazy switcheroo antics, I wasn’t as into 7 and 8, because they seemed to hit a stalemate as far as how much each was going to budge (in concern for each other’s lives and such). I was beginning to wonder if the switch was going to change either of them at all.

So now I’m confused, because neither character has changed sufficiently for me to be done with the body swap narratively, and yet I miss their crackling chemistry when they were in their own bodies pre-swap, so I’m torn. I suppose the door is left open for them to re-swap and un-swap at length throughout the series, every time it rains or whatever other mystical precipitation is in the forecast.

And this is maybe a nitpick, but I’m a fan of rules in a genre piece. If you’ve got a mystical world, there ought to be rules that govern that world, and we as the audience have to be let in on those rules. Why? Doesn’t it take all the mystery out? No. There’s plenty of ways to frame the rules of your world as oblique, and you can always find clever loopholes to surprise us—that’s the fun in ALL of us knowing the rules, ya dig? If the circumstance just changes, for no rhyme or reason and worst of all, in a seemingly random fashion, we lose faith that the mystical world has a purpose and an internal logic. This is going to sound inordinately picky to those of you who aren’t obsessed with supernatural, mythology-laden narratives, but I swear, there’s a reason behind my nitpickery. No matter how loosey goosey you are with the rules, you have to establish them. Because otherwise there is no meaning behind the mystical events.

Whether or not Ra-im’s father is pulling all the strings, or Fate intervened to un-swap them, or the swap is only temporary, or someone spiked the rain with magic mojo…matters, and it matters more than the un-swapping itself. Either I’m going to feel like the body swap was merely a gimmick, or someone’s got some ‘xplainin’ to do.


215 December 11, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 9

by javabeans

With our leads back to “normal,” Episode 9 turns back to the romantic developments and dials down the wacky, which I suppose is necessary though I’ll admit to missing the zany physical comedy of the past few episodes, because some of those body-switch bits were truly hysterical. True, they were sometimes played more for the laugh than for character consistency, but when that gives us Hyun Bin demonstrating how to wear a bra, or Ha Ji-won smirking like a smug rich bastard, I’m game to go along for the ride.


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Body switch! Ra-im does a dance of joy, and she and Joo-won confirm that they’re back to their original selves.

Joo-won holds up his handcuffs and asks her what she’s gonna do about it (pffft!), which I wish were half as kinky as it sounds. Ra-im responds with satisfaction, “Seeing that we were switched back in this type of situation, there really must be a God.” She throws his words back at him about leaving her sit in jail to suffer, and flounces out cheerily.

Joo-won is transferred to a jail cell, where he has to now contend with the consequences of having called his lawyer off the case back when he was Joo-wonda. Secretary Kim is baffled at his boss’s abrupt personality switch (again) and goes to call for help.

A snore from his cellmate draws Joo-won’s attention to the drunken man sleeping under a blanket… wearing clothes that cast a familiar sparkle.

Stunned to see HIS trademark look worn “so carelessly,” Joo-won tries to sneak a glimpse of a tag or a label, and asks the sleeping man where he bought these clothes. He gets no response, but the man rolls over, revealing the words stitched across the back: “Hyun Bin at the entrance.” He sleepily mumbles, “Come to… Secret Nightclub…” PFFFFT.

Joo-won falls back in horror to realize that his precious Italian tracksuit has been made into cheap knockoffs and is being worn by nightclub attendants as walking advertisements. (The message, combined with the guy’s sales pitch, means, “Come to Secret Nightclub and find the waiter Hyun Bin at the entrance.”)

Ra-im greets Ah-young enthusiastically at home, though her jaw drops to see the apartment transformed: Joo-won(ita) has upgraded the furnishings, decorating it with high-priced items and even installing a chandelier into the bedroom/living-room. The guy sure likes his things sparkly.

To the ladies, these are just nuisances that take up too much room. Ra-im is shocked to hear that she supposedly bought all this stuff, and says she’ll make sure to return them all.

Director Park is practically giddy as he informs Chairman Kim about Joo-won’s brush with the law, tsk-tsk-ing about the way he assaulted a VIP client. Grandpa wonders what has gotten into his grandson, but it’s his wife — the Madam Park so hated by Joo-won’s and Oska’s mothers — who speaks up. She chides Director Park (her brother), saying that it was right of Joo-won to step in to defend a woman who was being sexually harassed, and that puts an end to this conversation.

Innnnteresting. So the despised fourth wife and potential inheritance-grabber is actually a decent human being, and blocks her brother’s attempt to undermine her step-grandson?

With a few strings pulled, Joo-won is released from jail. He berates his secretary for not preparing the car or an umbrella, because there’s no way HE’s going out into the rain. Ra-Him’s thoughtfulness has lulled Secretary Kim into a false sense of security about his boss, and he cheerily offers his coat to hold over their heads.

Joo-won glowers and gives him his options: “Run into the rain. Buy a luxury umbrella. Or die.” Aw, poor eager-to-please Secretary Kim. And to think, if only Joo-won treated him right he could probably have his loyalty for life. (Well, he’s loyal right now, but that’s driven by fear; if the relationship were cultivated, I’d bet his secretary would take a bullet for him.)

Joo-won arrives at Ra-im’s place and has a brief, hilarious exchange with Ah-young. Since he has gotten to know her in their brief time as roommates, he talks to her in a familiar way, like he did when he was Joo-wonita. But coming out of his own mouth, his friendly words give Ah-young Other Ideas, especially since she already thinks he’s interested in her.

Ra-im has been considering Joo-won’s comment that she never thinks of things from his perspective, and now she apologizes for ditching him at the police station. She’d been so thrilled to be back to herself that she feared getting swapped again if she stuck nearby. (This raises an interesting potential conflict — Ra-im feels it’s best to stay away from each other, just so they don’t tempt the fates to swap ’em back.)

She asks him to take back everything he bought for the apartment, then apologizes for hitting the pervert, although she admits she’d do it again. Still, she’ll pay back the settlement fee.

Joo-won tells her he’s not here for his stuff, which begs the question, Then why?

Pulling her into a hug, Joo-won says, “I came to do this.”

He’s pleased with her decision to pay the settlement, as it demonstrates a responsible attitude, and tells her to come by the office tomorrow to settle the rest of their affairs.

After Oska’s team finds out that the leak of his plagiarized song came from Seul’s office, Tae-sun hangs around to find out whether they nabbed the culprit. Tae-sun (whom I’ve just realized is totally Jung Il-woo Lite) can read from Oska’s reaction that he must know the guilty party, but he points out that if Oska doesn’t produce a culprit, the issue can’t be resolved in the public’s eyes. Oska is resigned about the situation, and just tells Tae-sun to sleep over… since it’s raining. (Suuure.) Blame it on the rain. (Ye~ah, yeah.) Since we’re talking about plagiarism and all.

Despite what the tech guys said, Seul isn’t the culprit; at the moment, she is getting expert opinions on Oska’s song, which the producers judge to be a clear ripoff. But when they suggest that Oska may have known about the song’s origins, Seul is surprisingly vigorous in her defense, saying he’s not that kind of guy.

Joo-won finds that his home’s passcode has been changed, and when he reaches for his phone to call Ra-im, he realizes that they hadn’t swapped their phones back. Two things raise his hackles: her phone wallpaper is Oska’s face, and his own number is entered under the name “Crazy Mofo Kim.”

He calls to demand the new number, and Ra-im gets back at him by pulling the same stunt he pulled on her, pretending that the line is going dead. Serves you right, Mofo.

I love that Crazy Mofo’s immediate thought is that Ra-im changed the number to HER measurements, and he tries to approximate her body in his mind to guess that. (He guesses 32-27-32.)

Ra-im texts him a hint about a zodiac sign, which makes him think back to a comment she made to Oska. As he mutters, “If that’s it, you’re dead,” he enters what must be his cousin’s birthdate, 76-08-18.

At least that gets him inside. But as though that weren’t bad enough, Joo-won discovers with annoyance that he’s wearing… Oska socks.

Further humiliating is how Ra-Him had washed his boxers by hand and laid them out to dry, right out in the open. What, hand-stitching’s okay, but not hand-washing?

Ra-im exults to be back at home, and asks Ah-young cautiously if she’d done anything strange or untoward in the past few days. Ah-young glares at her with narrowed eyes, bursting out in indignation over all the things Joo-wonita had said and done to her, like forcing her to sleep on the floor after refusing to share the bed. Ra-im assures her friend that she doesn’t mean any of that stuff, but Ah-young settles down to sleep peevishly.

Intending to set the alarm clock, Ra-im takes out Joo-won’s phone, but finds to her surprise the photos he has saved of her.

By now it’s pretty clear that neither Seul nor Oska are over their breakup, so it isn’t such a surprise that he still keeps the engagement ring he’d offered her by his bed, which he takes out now as he remembers her hurtful rejection. And how, in Jeju, she had said they weren’t in love. And how she’d told him not to lie about acting to protect her, when he was really protecting himself.

Equally clear is that some big misunderstanding is keeping the pain bitter on both ends, because they both feel they were the hurt party. I don’t know; it almost feels like they’re both keeping themselves willfully in the dark because they both want to cling to their martyr complexes. I’d want to know for sure and move on, but I wonder if they’d both rather keep hating each other than confront the truth. Beats hating themselves?

Joo-won is pleased to announce to Oska that he is back to being himself now, and that he didn’t mean any of the nice stuff he’s done recently. Just in case big bro thought he was going soft.

This conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a text, from Ra-im to Oska. It’s a message of encouragement to cheer up, saying that his problems will work out, to which Oska sends a reply text. But curiously, the phone rings in Joo-won’s pocket. (Are we to ignore the fact that Ra-im wasn’t at her phone when she supposedly texted it? I suppose some fanwanking can explain that possibility of internet-based texting, but…)

In response, Joo-won can’t help mocking Oska for his socks — does he like the idea of his fans sweating all over his printed face? He adds that Ra-im only likes him as a casual fan: “If you ask her what celebrities she likes, you’re at the level where she’d take three seconds to think about it, then respond, ‘Os…ka?'”

The next day at the department store, the female employees gossip about how cool Joo-won was for punching the pervert VIP. Instantly he’s gone from abrasive boss to dreamboat, and Ah-young thinks knowingly to herself that perhaps his sudden change is prompted by “the power of love.”

So when he makes his morning entrance, the ladies eagerly line up… only to get the formerly cold, dismissive Joo-won instead. Ah-young in particular is disappointed, having anticipated that he’d look at her with some interest or affection. Or even just recognition.

Hearing that Joo-won is back to being cold, Director Park gnashes his teeth to unravel the hidden significance of this development. Is Joo-won messing with his mind somehow? What does this all MEAN? Well, I suppose it’s better to have your enemies barking up the wrong tree entirely, rather than guessing the truth.

Joo-won expects a mountain of paperwork to sign, but is told that he already took care of it. Grabbing open a folder, Joo-won sees in horror that Ra-im has signed his documents in her childish scrawl, replete with heart lettering. Joo-won berates Secretary Kim for not stopping him, and gets back the response that he had initially found it odd, but figured that Joo-won had just changed to a “pretty” new signature. Lol.

This also complicates matters with an upcoming Christmas event, which Director Park proposed and Ra-Him authorized. It’s a couples event awarding a prize if it snows on Christmas, but Joo-won counters that the promotion is only going to alienate the singles who’d rather be part of a couple. He changes a few details (like changing snow to rain, because rain is rarer on Christmas and therefore the prize bound to be harder to attain and therefore more desirable and blah blah blah), instructing Director Park to get busy with revisions.

Oska storms in to Seul’s office to confront her about leaking his plagiarized song online. She argues that she’s not that low, but he counters that she is — she’s low enough to betray him and then travel abroad with the guy he hated most, and low enough to plan on marrying his cousin to piss him off.

Seul is hurt to realize that he hasn’t come to ask if she did it; he’s already decided she’s guilty. Telling him that he won’t believe her anyway, she adds that he believed others over her in the past as well. Oska requests earnestly that they never see each other again, and leaves the office in a daze of hurt, while Seul breaks down in her office alone.

One of Seul’s employees realizes that the leak came from her co-worker, who’d inadvertently downloaded a video using Seul’s computer. It was a peer-to-peer sharing site, and she hadn’t realized that Oska’s new song was uploadable. Oops. Scared for themselves, they swear to keep this between them.

Ra-im literally bounces her way into the action school, thrilled to be back at work. The stunt guys are confused, since it was just the other day that she so haughtily declared she was done with this lifestyle, and that she must really have chosen to do physical work because she was too dumb for mental work.

Ra-im assures them that she doesn’t mean that, and bounds off to see Jong-soo, who poses for his requisite topless scene. All hunky guys do their brooding in the shower, don’tcha know?

Recalling how Ra-im (technically Joo-wonina) told him never to confess his feelings for her, he’s wary, although she seems as friendly and warm as before. She announces that she’s back, and that she won’t be acting strange anymore.

She also thanks him for the movie script and vows to work hard preparing for the stunts and filming a demo video. She confuses him a bit when she declares the English difficult, because he found hers surprisingly good, but she chalks it up to “momentary insanity.” Hee.

Joo-won’s sour-faced mother, still as nosy and meddling as ever, hires someone to follow Ra-im around, and looks over the most recent batch of photos. They’re from her (Joo-wanda’s) shopping spree for apartment furnishings, which even snooty mom understands is out of character for a stuntwoman. She orders her man to find out everything about her background and family.

More family meddling comes in the form of Hee-won, Joo-won’s younger sister, who arrives at the action school looking for Ra-im. The first person she talks to is Jong-soo, whom she eyes with some interest and even goes so far as to ask if he’s married. What, a consolation prize for Jong-soo already? He hasn’t even fought for Ra-im yet!

The women step out for a chat, where Hee-won asks Ra-im some questions about herself, then gets distracted by mention of Jong-soo. She’s thrilled to hear he’s a director (much more impressive than stuntman!), and you can practically hear her planning out her wedded bliss already.

Hee-won is curious about Ra-im’s relationship to Joo-won and Oska; at Ra-im’s blanket denial of any involvement, she wonders why Ra-im accepted her mother’s payoff, then. She heard Ra-im spent it all in one day, too. Hee-won describes herself as the “most normal” in her family — which, admittedly, isn’t much of a statement given her competition — and is here to tip Ra-im off about being investigated by her mother.

So when Ra-im meets Joo-won to swap phones back, she gives him a swift kick in the leg for good measure when he shows no qualms for having taken the money from Mummy Dearest. She’s mortified because taking the money strips her of her ability to stand on her pride, which she clings to in the absence of all else. But Joo-won replies that he’d hoped she’d win — that she’d show his mother that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

In fact, he sees it as fortunate that he was there to meet his mother instead of her, because Ra-im would’ve just bowed meekly and spewed a litany of apologies: “Whether you accept that money or not, the result would have been the same. We would have kept seeing each other.”

On the contrary, Ra-im declares that she never wants to see him again and vows to return the money to his mother, replete with apology and an assurance that they’re nothing to each other.

Furthermore, she’s been thinking over Joo-won’s comment about the Little Mermaid, and she has decided that she has no right to this whole comparison/scenario: “Because the Little Mermaid loved her man.” Implication: And I don’t love you.

It’s a pretty effective shutdown, and she turns to go, leaving Joo-won staring after her in shock and hurt. He comes chasing her into the hallway, and stops the elevator doors just as they’re closing.

He makes an attempt to step inside, but with his claustrophobia he can’t, and he orders her out instead. Ra-im shuts the door.

Joo-won beelines for the stairway and runs all the way to the ground level, where he looks around the department store for a sign of her. She’s gone.

At home, Ra-im packs up all of Joo-wonda’s expensive purchases, and only now sees that Joo-won has vandalized her Oska calendar (and Oska posters) by drawing all over his face. At least she gets him back (sorta), as Joo-won finds when he gets home:

Joo-won finds a map of his compound, which has been decorated with hearts surrounding Oska’s house; his own is marked by a skull and crossbones. On top of that, Ra-im has noted particular spots where she can steal glimpses of Oska without being seen.

Oska’s plagiarism controversy hits the newspapers, and in an attempt to mitigate the damage, his manager wants to organize his comeback. Oska balks, saying that it’ll just increase the noise around them, but he’s swayed when his manager insists that they’re going to be SOL if they don’t resume activities now.

So, Oska reluctantly gets to work promoting his next single, and I only regret not having this awesome pic for the best perm category in the Beanie Awards.

As predicted, his public appearances offer plenty of chances for the press to mob him and prod about the plagiarism scandal, which he tries to ignore. After one TV program performance, he spots Ra-im watching the scene from a distance, and they end up chatting at a cafe.

Ra-im wishes him luck on his comeback and compliments his performance. She says that since his fans are hanging in there, he should do the same. Then she comments in an inadvertently backhanded manner that Oska fans are pretty good at weathering negative situations, which implies that he’s always getting into trouble.

He wonders what she means by that, and she references all his “scandals with women.” He jokes, “Isn’t that better than scandals with men?” Are we foreshadowing?

Oska drives Seul home, and Ra-im tentatively asks a parting question about Seul. She doesn’t know what’s up with them, but she knows there’s something, given how he left her on the road that day. She says gently, “I know it’s not something I should butt into, but a man who makes a woman cry is a mean person.”

Oska sighs that despite his age (35), he still feels like a 10-year-old, and wonders why he’s still such a child. Her answer cheers him up; she says that real kids are always insisting they’re older.

That makes him smile, and he compliments her, saying she’s way cooler than he’d thought. It makes her smile bashfully and tap her toe on the ground… just as a third voice sounds:

“What a pretty picture.” It’s Joo-won, of course.

Wearing a brand-spankin’-new, magenta-and-black-lace-patterned tracksuit. I DIE.

Le tracksuit est mort, vive le tracksuit!


With the body-swapping antics out of the way, this episode opens the door for some emotional developments… but I don’t think it really goes there. Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won are totally selling their characters and their chemistry is sparking like crazy, which makes their interactions a whole lotta fun to watch, but this episode seems sort of like more of the same, doesn’t it? He accuses her of not thinking of him, she accuses him of being a jackass, he actually IS a jackass, and lather-rinse-repeat. Director Park seethes behind the scenes and plot’s Joo-won’s demise, but doesn’t actually do anything other than jump to conclusions. Jong-soo broods.

On the upside, even when the plot treads water for a bit, a drama that is as strong as this one in witty dialogue and comic moments is still entirely engaging to watch, thanks to its sense of humor, high production values, strong acting, etc. I don’t mind that much that I’m not getting emotional depth in these recent episodes, although it would be nice — I mean, I don’t begrudge 30 Rock for not being heart-tugging. But I suspect this drama wants us to be a lot more invested than we are/I am. If we’re going to go there, I hope we can start getting there, already. Perhaps it’s time to up the narrative ante.

The one really nice moment was the expression on Joo-won’s face after Ra-im makes her Little Mermaid comment, when he seems not only stunned at the what she’s telling him but actually on the cusp of making a breakthrough, of realizing what where she’s coming from. It’s a great little beat that Hyun Bin plays so well, and I’d love to see more like that.

Oh god, did I just ask for more angst? But no, I don’t want Fate jerking us around for the hell of it, or outlandish villains swooping in to trip up our heroes. Just some emotional stakes. If we could have more plot than mere “Will they or won’t they?” back-and-forth, that would be dandy.


312 December 13, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 10

by girlfriday

Apparently everyone woke up on the right side of the bed this episode, because every eligible bachelor in town starts lining up at Ra-im’s door, and fighting each other like the ten-year olds that they are. Oska wins for Best Smile, Jong-soo wins for Most Embarrassed, and Joo-won wins for Sparkliest Boxers. Yup. You heard me.


Joo-won discovers Ra-im and Oska mid-flirt outside her apartment, where he’s clearly been waiting for her like the stalker that he is. The best part is that Oska and Ra-im gang up on him like a pair of older siblings, just to rub it in his face. Wait, scratch that. The best part is the new tracksuit, this time hand-stitched by French artisans. HA.

Ra-im: “Why are you wearing an ajumma’s long underwear?” Heeeeee. She adds that she told him quite clearly that she didn’t want to see him anymore, so he’s either got rocks for brains, or he’s REALLY REALLY into her. I just love her right now. She’s so much better as a sassypants than the over-apologetic meek girl.

She pointedly tells “oppa” to drive home safely, and walks right past Joo-won without a word. He follows her to her door like a little kid, whining that he didn’t get a proper goodbye. She slams her front gate in his face, and he screams, “My nose is higher than other people’s! It could’ve gotten hurt! Didn’t you think of that?” Haha. Even in his rants, this guy is all about how awesome HE is. It kills me.

She goes in without a word, and Ah-young gives her a package—it’s some books she ordered. She tells Ah-young that she went to someone’s house and it had a library filled with books, and it made her wonder if he had read them all, what he was thinking when he read them, and if she read them too, she might find some truth about him that she may have missed before.

Aw. How freaking ADORABLE is that? Trying to know a person (who is outwardly unknowable) by reading the same books as him? That’s the cutest and nerdiest thing ever. It hits me right here.

She puts the copy of Alice in Wonderland on her shelf, and we see that she’s started a little collection of her own. Next to her collection of action DVDs is the beginnings of her own mini library, with the likes of 1984 and One Hundred Years of Solitude. I love that juxtaposition of their two personalities sitting side by side on her shelf. Strangely enough, it looks a lot like my bookshelf, which perhaps means I have a split personality, but that’s neither here nor there.

Joo-won follows Oska home to ask if he really meant that stuff he said to Ra-im. He throws the question of sincerity right back at Joo-won, asking if he can really take responsibility for his feelings, and for Ra-im. Joo-won: “Responsibility? Did you take responsibility for all the women you dated?” Oska: “That’s why I get cursed at.” Heh. Point taken.

Oska tells him to be honest about himself—that he isn’t the type to give up everything for a woman because he doesn’t feel the need to. He couldn’t even handle the bag incident, let alone the wave of terror that’s bound to come from his mother. He points out rather correctly that Joo-won thinks of marriage like a business deal; hence he should just meet some girl more like him, and stop with Ra-im before she gets hurt. Aw, I sort of love Oska oppa coming to her defense.

He questions Joo-won about his motives with Seul too, citing the handholding incident from the golf course. He wonders if he’s planning to marry Seul and just have some fun with Ra-im: “Rotten bastard. Take your hands off of both of them. They’re both too good for you.” Dayum. And woot, Oska! I love that Joo-won has SOMEONE in his life that’ll tell it like it is.

Joo-won sits alone in his empty palace, brooding over his hyung’s words. He puts Ra-im’s map back together, and above his own name writes, “Cowardly.”

Ra-im stays up to read Alice in Wonderland, and this time the titles on her shelf form a little poem:

Alice in wonderland
Like a fairytale
The night that Eun-ha shot through the galaxy
A bad boy is standing there
This insignificant melancholy
She walked at the pace of memory

(I’m approximating on the third title, which is a play on the name Eun-ha, the same word for galaxy, or Milky Way—it could be The Night that the Milky Way Pierced the Galaxy, but that makes no sense. Hence, the pun.)

Jong-soo records himself reading the script for Dark Blood and gives it to Ra-im, the helpfulness of which I don’t really understand, as he’s reading a script in English, in English, but anyway, she’s touched, and she trains fervently for the role.

Both Joo-won and Ra-im go back to their daily lives, and as Joo-won gets ready for work the next day, he discovers a little memo that Ra-im left behind—a printout of instructions on how to tie a tie. Ha. Something about that stirs Joo-won, whether it reminds him of the body swap, or her.

Oska gets nagged to go to his fan-signing, which he’s afraid to do, given the current plagiarism scandal. Meanwhile, Seul is still brooding over being falsely accused for leaking the song, but when her friend points out that she’s still got the wherewithal to get her hair done, Seul reminds her that even if the world is crumbling around her, the one thing a woman must guard is her appearance. Ha, the fervor of your superficiality is astounding. Truly.

Oska holds his fan-signing, which is depressingly spare at first, but a small group of fervent fans show up to cheer him on. He decides to give them signatures as Choi Woo-young, and not Oska, for their belief in him as a person. Seul decides to show up in line, and asks for a signature addressed to her as his forever love, and without a reply, he writes, “To Yoon Seul, Thank you for loving me all this time. –Oska” She reads it with tears outside.

Joo-won goes to the opera, where he of course buys three seats so that he can use both armrests for himself. (Okay, I will confess to secretly wishing I could do this, but never having the gall. Or the money, let’s be real.)

He imagines Ra-im sitting beside him, and spends the entire opera thinking of her. The next day he tells Secretary Kim that he couldn’t concentrate at all; this time he’ll need an entire row of seats, to keep the riffraff at bay. Okay, now you’re just being crazy.

He leads a presentation for a new resort that he’s got in the works, which utilizes the natural mountainside surroundings as a retreat. Director Park steals some of his thunder as soon as he finds out that Joo-won’s grandfather is stopping by for a peek.

Joo-won comes home to find Dr. Lee waiting, having just stopped by because he strangely hasn’t been calling all the time, like he usually does. She asks if he hasn’t run out of his meds, which reminds him that he hasn’t taken his meds for a while now…how was it that he slept in that tiny apartment without them?

He shakes it off and says that it seems he doesn’t need them anymore, and doesn’t explain the rest since he doesn’t actually want to be committed for being insane. Yes, I would agree. Best not to tell your shrink that you’ve been running around in a woman’s body.

He asks if people usually need to give up something in order to get something that they really want. She says yes, since usually the thing you want so ardently is outside your means. He scoffs that anything, let alone “that woman” is outside his means, or above his social standing.

Just then, a delivery arrives, and it’s all of the stuff he had bought for Ra-im’s apartment. He stares down at all of the returned boxes, and rants that she has to be so righteous and proud. Dr. Lee points out that it’s not what most women would do, and tells him that she IS out of his league. HA! Damn straight!

Oska breathes a sigh of relief as the plagiarism scandal gets reneged, and when Seul meets with Tae-sun, we find out why—Tae-sun was the original songwriter of the copied song. She offers him a contract to do any music the way he wants.

On a snowy day, Joo-won sits at home and reads Alice in Wonderland, and then plays with a smurfs app that repeats everything he says: “Omo, Kim Joo-won-sshi, do you know how long I’ve waited for your call? I miss you like crazy.” Aw, such a lonely little boy.

He goes for a walk in the snow, and then comes upon a shiny new toy that’s fun in two ways—as a video game, and as a means of torturing Oska. Oska comes over fuming that Joo-won’s snaked the arcade game he’s waited three months to get, and when he tries to take it back, Joo-won threatens to out his scandalous pictures with his ex Chae-rin. They strike a deal for Joo-won to keep it for three months, after which he’ll return the game AND the original pictures. Ha. These two. Giant kids with way too much time and money.

Oska tells Joo-won again to be honest with himself about Ra-im: “Stop with your Lovers in Paris cosplay and go back to your normal self!” Hahaha.

Joo-won actually HAS decided to stop seeing her…but not right now. Pfft. He says that he likes her too much because she’s curious and new, but that he’ll eventually probably grow tired of her, and she’ll become like every other woman in his eyes—the typical nine out of ten women who are just common. Um, shouldn’t your obsession with her and her constant refusal of your advances tell you that she’s probably that ONE in ten that you’ve never encountered before? Moron.

He thinks a few months of seeing her will do. Gah. The only reason I’m tolerating you right now is because you’re just digging your own grave. A few months of seeing her will only make you more in love with her, genius.

Oska calls him out for being a bastard, and Joo-won just sticks to his ridiculous obsession with The Little MerMistress, refusing to face the fact that HE’s the one who’s in love with her, and not the other way around. He plans to date her for a few months and have her disappear, as per Operation: MerMistress.

To that end, he shows up to the action school day after day, with some new flimsy excuse to see her: first it’s that he gained weight while she was driving his body around, and now he wants his abs back. Next he gives her the boxers she wore and washed while she was in his body, telling her to wear them. One pair is actually SEQUINED. No, really.

He then shows up to complain that he’s constipated—what did she feed his body? Pwahaha. At each turn, she calls him crazy, and eventually perverted. Yeah, I’d have to agree. Finally, he shows up to complain that his department store’s profits are down, due to something she signed off on, heart-signature and all.

She tells him that she was just following Secretary Kim’s advice, to which he says he’ll have to fire Secretary Kim then. She doesn’t want him to get fired so he offers up a trade that he gets to come see her whenever he wants, and she’ll greet him with love and gratitude and joy. Pfft. Yeah, she’ll greet you with swearing, is what she’ll do.

She makes one motion with her latte towards his be-laced tracksuit, and he freaks out, “Get mad at ME, not the clothes!” Heh.

She takes a sip and ends up with foam on her lip, which he calls out as a typical coy maneuver when women are around men. She reaches to wipe it off, but he grabs her hand out of the way and leans in, getting up out of his seat. With a soft kiss, he licks the foam off her lips. Yowza.

How is it possible that you can be so unattractively metro about your tracksuit one minute, and then make my stomach do flips with a move like that, the next? Gah.

She makes a move to hit him, and he warns her that from now on, if she hits him, he’ll do the same thing (kiss her, not hit her back). Awesome. I see lots of hitting and kissing in their future.

The action school gears up for a sageuk shoot, and Joo-won manages to tag along, with help from Ra-im’s sunbae. His outfits as an extra are just…priceless, and he tries to get his sunbae to switch outfits with him claiming that “there must be something wrong.” Heh. Serves you right to play a lowly commoner.

He’s terrible, naturally, since he refuses to lie down on the dirt to play dead (choosing instead to lie down on TOP of another dead body), and using the opportunity to attack Jong-soo, who’s on the same side in battle. Keh.

Ra-im comes out, dressed in her Damo costume, and Joo-won goes gaga. So cool to see Ha Ji-won playing Ra-im, playing this role. She does a beautiful swordfight with Jong-soo in the snow, and Joo-won watches in awe from the sidelines.

In voiceover, he remembers a line from Alice in Wonderland, about looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars, so that everything seems like a fairytale. Joo-won: “I must be suffering from the same thing. Otherwise, why is every second with that woman, who means nothing, like a fairytale?”

At lunch, he asks why on earth Ra-im does this work, when no one will ever know she was in this film, or reward her with money or anything else. She says that he’s right, but that her fellow stuntmen will remember her as she’ll remember them. She asks him how many people will remember him, or break their arm in his place. Naturally, he can say nothing, the man with zero friends.

She adds that it’s the work they’ve chosen. “What are you to judge what we do? Who the hell are you?”

The action school goes out after the shoot for some gopchang (pig intestine lining) which you’ll remember Joo-won refused to eat the last time. Ra-im does the Korean thing of putting some on everyone’s plate around her, but purposely leaves Joo-won out. She reminds him that he doesn’t eat such things. He complains that she should still offer him some regardless of whether or not he’ll eat it, asking her not to treat him differently.

She counters that being treated differently is what “his people” pay for, remember? Ha. Awesome thing to throw back in his face. One of the guys calls him out for not being a man if he can’t eat this stuff, and Joo-won postures that of course he can, which is right when Ra-im pops a piece in his mouth. Heh. Ra-im: “Chew and swallow.” Joo-won: “NO! I’m gonna melt it down!” Everyone has a good laugh at his expense, including Ra-im.

The next morning, Joo-won wakes up…in Ra-im’s bed. He turns over to find Jong-soo lying next to him. HA. He screams and Ra-im comes running in from the kitchen, and he panics, “Did we swap again?” Heh.

He asks why he’s there, and she tells him to try a little harder to remember last night…which we find out devolved into a drinking contest between Joo-won and Jong-soo. Boys.

They match each other shot for shot, and Joo-won declares drunkenly that he’s going to have breakfast with Ra-im the next morning, and that he’s going to sleep over. Jong-soo says that he can’t. Joo-won: “I’ve slept over plenty of times! You don’t even know.” Haha. Ra-im’s eyes widen in horror, “Hey!”

They end up in front of her place, and Jong-soo stops Joo-won from going in. Joo-won: “What, this is my house! I’ve lived here. I’ve worn her panties. I’ve washed her body. I brushed her teeth three times a day.” OMG I’m dying. How can he say, “I’ve worn her panties” with a straight face??

Jong-soo wakes up, confused as to where he is, tipping Joo-won off that he’s never been here before. Well that shouldn’t be news, given his demeanor with her. As Jong-soo sits down for breakfast, Joo-won washes up, and he peeks out to ask Ra-im if she threw away his toothbrush, and if he can have the blue towel, because he likes that one best. Awkwardly awesome.

The three head back out, only to be encroached upon by a THIRD suitor. Hahaha. This is becoming like a clown car of eligible bachelors. Oska appears, wanting to kidnap Ra-im for a consult on some stuntwork, and she asks Jong-soo for permission to go. He obliges, and she heads off with Oska happily.

Left behind, Joo-won asks why he just let her go. Jong-soo asks why HE didn’t do anything to stop her then. Jong-soo: “Are we…on the same side?” Joo-won wonders why he doesn’t know: the-enemy-of-my-enemy…

Oska asks Ra-im for her help on a CF that he’s shooting, and they go back and forth with their usual level of overly cutesy play-flirting, but this time Oska betrays some sincerity. She’s caught off guard and says that she’s kidding. He knows that she is, but adds that he’s being careful, because he’s growing fond of her…Ruh-roh.

She gets a call from Joo-won’s mother, and heads over to meet her. Ra-im asks tentatively if Joo-won returned the money, and Mom has a fit over her gall, thinking she’s spent they money, and then told Joo-won to pay it back. She curses her for her daring to face off with her, and when Ra-im says that her words are harsh, she grabs her water and tosses it in Ra-im’s face…only Ra-im’s got the reflexes of a stuntwoman, and dodges it swiftly.

Hilariously, she realizes what she did and apologizes, passing HER glass of water over, saying that they can go again. Hahaha. Just then, Joo-won walks in to stop his mother.

You think for a moment that he’s going to be all gallant and noble, except this is what he says:

Joo-won: Why? What for? There’s no reason for you to treat her this way. You’re wasting your energy on something useless. I didn’t say I was marrying this woman. Why are you dragging her here and making her the star of some third-rate drama? If I happen to hang my life or death on her, stop me when that time comes. This is only for a moment. You can’t even wait one moment?


King of Bastards, Kim Joo-won. My god, I don’t know how on earth you’re going to redeem yourself in her eyes after this. Part of the enjoyment of watching you be such an ass is the light at the end of the tunnel—that we know you’re bound to change, and grow, and STOP being such an ass.

Currently, though you are falling ever deeper in love/obsession/whatever you want to call it, you’re also not growing as a person, and it pisses me off. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t dislike the drama because of this, since I clearly enjoy any chance for Joo-won to get his comeuppance, and I do love his character for all his quirks and lonely isolation. But at this point I’m rooting for Ra-im to stomp on his heart and gleefully skip away.

I love that the momentum of this episode (until the last five minutes) is that Ra-im is gaining the upper hand. She’s free because she doesn’t have the same emotional attachment that Joo-won does, and even if she’s attracted to him, his off-putting personality is enough to nip some of that in the bud. It’s actually hilarious to watch all three men stumble over each other to gain her affections, however ineffectual they may be.

In the end Joo-won is the only one who really gets under her skin, but so far most of that is a beehive of negative vibes, so I don’t blame her for hating him. Theirs will probably go down as one of the great bickering courtships, which I love, but man, if I ever found myself in that kind of relationship in REAL life, it’d be cause for an intervention.


254 December 19, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 11

by javabeans

Ah, finally the break I’ve been waiting for! After all the Brooding, that is. (There is a LOT of it.) Not that I haven’t been enjoying the heck out of Secret Garden, but plotwise we’ve been in slower territory for the past couple episodes, and it’s about time that things shifted. Power dynamics slide around and set us up for some potentially very interesting things in the near future. (I hope.)


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With Ra-im sitting right there, Joo-won makes his thoroughly dishonorable speech to his mother about how he’s only playing around, and that she has nothing to fear because his fixation with Ra-im is temporary. As though that’s not bad enough, he adds, “Even if this woman were to change her mind and agree to marry me, don’t give your approval. Oppose it till the end, and rid me of this woman.”

While I deliver a mental slap that I deeply wish could be physical, Mom eyes him in suspicion, as this is too easy (she didn’t even have to bust out her secret hussy-ridding voodoo incantations!). Ra-im stonily replies that although Joo-won sees her as an adequate temporary plaything, to her Joo-won isn’t even worth toying with, “not even temporarily.” She adds that she’d be grateful if Mom kept Joo-won from following her around.

Rather than being pleased that her problem has washed itself off her hands, Mom is offended at Ra-im for speaking so bluntly, for not being cowed by her intimidation, for being so low-class as to come bearing an offensively poor gift like a fruit basket.

Of all the things to breaks through Ra-im’s stoic facade, it’s that last complaint that does it, and her bottom lip trembles while Mom finishes her tirade and storms off.

Fed up with this family, Ra-im shakes off Joo-won’s arm, warning him to stay away from her. A telling remark: “If it’s just a short while for you, do you think it’s automatically a short while for me?!” On one level, this points out his extreme selfishness in neglecting to consider how this affects her, but on another level, it gives us a hint that she might find herself drawn to him if she allowed herself.

As she walks through the neighborhood, he trails her in his car, then parks and orders her to get in. It’s a good thing you’re so pretty, Joo-won, because you sorely lack charm.

Ra-im accepts the ride on the condition that she drive, and he lets her take the driver’s seat. But when he walks toward the passenger side and reaches to open the door, she zooms off, stopping a few feet away. He approaches again and reaches for the handle, and she zooms off again, halting a few more feet away.

Joo-won catches up to the car and angrily faces Ra-im, who makes her point: Not so fun being toyed with, is it? More than anything, she was hurt by their careless regard for her fruit offering, having been taught by her father that guests should bring a gift when visiting somebody’s home.

Joo-won says in his belittling way that surely she didn’t expect him to take her side, did she? If she did, she’s pretty naïve; how could he have possibly taken her side against his mother, when that would have made her even more furious? That’s something out of a fairy tale, and he asserts that what he’s doing now is the best he can do. (And here’s where I might point out that crushing realization that many of us make on the cusp of adulthood: Sometimes your best just ain’t good enough, buster.) Somehow Joo-won makes this more about him, even though she’s the one who was demeaned, saying that she should be understanding. Apparently in Joo-won’s world, understanding is a one-way street. Guess they’re easy to navigate when he’s a bulldozer.

Ra-im says that that’s true — but it pains her that he’s right, and she berates herself for briefly letting herself feel drawn to him. Joo-won replies, “If it upset you, I’ll apologize. I’m sorry.” But Ra-im tells him not to bother, since he isn’t sorry.

Off on their separate ways they go to brood, reliving past moments together in a series of flashbacks. Ra-im sits in a cafe alone for a long while, staring off into space while deep in thought, until she is eventually joined by someone who sits down and drinks straight from her coffee cup: Joo-won.

He deliberately dabs his lip with foam to make her laugh, but she’s hardly in the mood. Trust Joo-won to have heard her rejection and fixated on the one line that gave him hope: the part where she mentioned feeling drawn to him.

Although Ra-im doesn’t deny it, she points out that there are times in life when ignorance is bliss. She he counts him as one of those instances, advising him to find a rich, classy woman who’ll make his mother happy.

When Oska calls, he guesses from Joo-won’s tone that something happened, that his mother tried to buy Ra-im off and made her cry. Joo-won admits that he really thought he could do it: “I was sure I could keep myself from falling for her.” Alas, things didn’t work out as planned.

I love that Oska has this brotherly heart-to-heart while he’s at the salon, changing his hairdo. He tells the stylist that an ajumma showed up to his latest fansigning sporting his hairstyle, and while he doesn’t expect to pass for an idol boy, looking like the sister of an ajumma fan is really not his style. He can’t help insisting, “I looked better from the back, though!”

More cacophany regarding Oska’s plagiarism scandal arises when news surfaces about the identity of the songwriter of the original song… which turns out to be Tae-sun (who wrote the song under the name “Sun”), as Seul has already discovered.

Oska blusters about being an equal victim in the mess, but Tae-sun ponts out that Oska had a couple chances to find out this truth — such as when Tae-sun gave him the song on his mp3 player — and had known Oksa would come looking for him. However, he’d anticipated that the first thing to do would have been to give him an apology, and the fact that Oska didn’t bother shows a basic lack of courtesy.

Seul joins them — or rather, joins Tae-sun and and pointedly ignores Oska — which suprises the latter, who had no idea the two were on familiar terms. Seul presents Tae-sun with contract papers, having agreed to meet all his stipulations.

Oska is stunned and aggravated, because HE was the one hot to cultivate Tae-sun as his protege. But it’s exactly for that reason that Tae-sun agrees to the contract, knowing how much it’ll burn Oska up, and he declares that he has just now decided to sign with Seul.

Oska asks Seul if she was really the one who leaked the latest news, in a voice that clearly believes she did. Her reply references their earlier argument (and their lack of trust issue): “If you say it’s me, then it must be me.”

They’re both hurt as they part ways, and as Oska takes a phone call with his mother, he looks directly at Seul as Mom sighs that she’d like to see him settled and married. Just as Seul passes within earshot, Oska replies that he will find a nice girl to marry.

His mother has had enough of sitting back while Joo-won gets the glory as the department store president, and meets with Director Park to strike a deal. She offers to make him the new president — usurping Joo-won’s position — if he will accept Oska as his VP. With his age ticking upward, Oska can’t stay a pop singer forever, and she wants him to have a position in the family biz after retiring. Director Park is happy to join forces in staging this coup.

Then, it’s Brooding Hour for all. Each of our main characters spends time coping with their feelings, Joo-won and Ra-im both reading through Alice in Wonderland in deep thought.

While they read, Oska plays piano, Seul thinks back to their breakup, and Jong-soo views footage of Ra-im in action. Joo-won and Ra-im alternate voice-overs of the following key passage from the book, a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

The next day, Ra-im is at the lockers readying to begin her workday when she takes note of the photos posted on her door; they’ve been there for ages but she hasn’t noticed them lately. The one with her and her father spins her off into a flashback from her high school days.

It’s a mundane scene, but full of affection as she and Dad meet on their way home and he gives her a stuffed cat doll, which she still owns. No doubt this memory was jogged by the Cheshire Cat.

Ra-im hears that she passed the first stage of auditions for the Dark Blood film, and will need to send in her demo tape. Excitedly, she races to meet Jong-soo to hear the news from him.

He confirms the news and congratulates her, and she is so thrilled that she offers to treat everyone to dinner. He declines the invite, which confuses her, so finally he gets blunt: she was right to tell him what she did, and need not worry about his feelings — what he needs now is space and time.

He means her rejection of him, of course, but she has no idea since it was really Joo-wonda who did the rejecting. Jong-soo tells her to pretend she knows nothing (not hard, when she’s utterly at a loss), while he’ll make sure he’s not “found out” again.

Ra-im may not know what he means, but she’s pretty sure she knows how things got to this state, and she fumes.

Over at Joo-won’s glass castle, he takes an unexpected interest in his staff’s setup of Christmas decorations. He’s more of a hindrance than a help, getting in everyone’s way, but he gamely pus himself right in the thick of the decorating session.

Joo-won even hangs a pair of Oska socks on the tree — not for his benefit, surely, but for the Fantasy Ra-im whom he imagines standing beside him.

He tells the Imaginary Ra-im that he doesn’t like decorating Christmas trees — he doesn’t enjoy tending to anyone’s birthday other than his own, HA — and says, “But I think you’d like it, because you only like things I don’t like.”

He tells her she won’t be getting Christmas gifts, because Santa doesn’t give presents to kids who cry. (Which, WTF? What kind of messed-up Santa mythology has he been told?) Imaginary Ra-im counters that he’s the one who made her cry, but Joo-won shrugs, since it’s not the reason for the crying that matters as much as it is the tears that are shed.

“Jerk,” she says. “I know,” Joo-won replies. “Why’d you go and cry?”

And then, the real Ra-im comes stalking in, interrupting his reverie; she walks right through her fantasy self, dispersing the apparition in a wispy poof.

Seeing Real Ra-im standing right where Fantasy Ra-im had been standing, Joo-won’s eyes widen and he has to poke her cheek with a finger, wondering, “Are you the real Gil Ra-im?”

Ra-im glares furiously and demands to know what he’d told Jong-soo.

Joo-won reminds her that he’d already pointed out that Jong-soo likes her, acting like she should thank him for telling Jong-soo never to confess the truth. Her actual reaction is far from gratitude; she calls Jong-soo her teacher and family, the person she most respects in the world. Furthermore, this is her business, not his: “More than the pain you gave me, it hurts me more that you used my face to hurt the director.”

Joo-won scoffs that it’s not like she would’ve dated Jong-soo anyway, and challenges, “Do you like him back?” Contrary to his expectation, she answers readily, “Yes, I like him. Thanks to you I know how he feels, so I’m going to like him as a man now.”

Way to drive your quarry straight into the enemy’s arms. Smooooth. Joo-won stands there speechlessly as she heads out, then hurries after her. Whirling her around, he plants a declarative kiss on her lips.

Ra-im struggles, but he keeps his grasp firm and continues kissing. I suppose it’s supposed to be romantic, but there’s an uncomfortable vibe that cannot be escaped given the palpable tension (and not just the sexual kind) and use of physical force (though one wonders what happened to the badass fighting stuntwoman who can’t shake off his grasp).

Intently, Joo-won tells her that he’s “earned the right” now (to interfere in her love life), and orders her to stop thinking about other men. Oh, if YOU say so.

Oska interrupts the scene, immediately sensing that they’ve fought. He advises Ra-im to kick Joo-won to the curb, to which she replies that no matter how hard she tries, Joo-won won’t acknowledge being dumped.

When Oska offers her a ride home, Joo-won interrupts to say he’ll take her. Ra-im ignores him and accepts Oska’s offer, leaving Joo-won to stare plaintively like he’s just lost his favorite toy. Which he has.

Ra-im begins coaching Oska for the physical work in his CF, taking him to the climbing wall. Halfway up, she realizes she has forgotten her chalk (to keep sweaty hands dry), so he offers up his pouch for her use. Ra-im cops an accidental feel, and jerks her hand away embarrassedly upon contact with his butt. Oska, however, declares that he’s the kind of guy to “turn the other cheek” (lmao), and offers up the other side for equal treatment.

They have lunch afterward, during which Ra-im confesses that she lied about being his fan for the past three years. In fact, she’s liked him for thirteen, from before his debut when he was in a Hongdae band, “When you sang even worse than you do now.” Lol. She may be a fangirl, but she’s not deluded.

Hesitantly, she asks him to explain the details of the Jeju bet between him and Joo-won. Oska fills her in on their game of wagering the things they want most — Joo-won with Ra-im, Oska with his house. Since Oska won, he teases that Ra-im is his now, which leads them to play-flirt about getting married.

Chae-rin makes a surprise appearance at their table, having been directed here by Joo-won, who told her that Oska was here with a strange woman. She’s pouty to see that it’s true, and Oska immediately assumes that she’s still holding the threat of naked pictures over his head. Except that there are no naked pictures. Chae-rin admits with a laugh that she made it all up.

To prove to us that heartless Seul isn’t quite so heartless after all — it’s just disguised under massive layers of materialism and snobbery — Seul looks at Oska’s “Thanks for all your love” autograph near tears. More brooding as she thinks back to old memories of being told that Oska was playing with her, and hearing Oska declare as much. Spurred by that hateful memory, she rips the autograph up, composes herself, and puts her plan in motion.

The chaebol mothers engage in their never-ending round of My Son’s Better over wine at the hot springs. Whoops, almost wrote “whine,” which is just as apt. Oska’s mom starts pushing the “Joo-won’s only successful because of his talented subordinates” angle, and alludes to an accident that wiped out some of his memories, saying he’s still not back to normal (Joo-won’s mom bristles at her pointed use of normal), and may suffer aftereffects for life.

Seul and her friend enter the pool at the other end and start chatting about Seul’s recent blind date. Though no names are mentioned, dropping a few key phrases (about him owning this spa) perks up the moms’ ears, and they listen closely.

Bait successfully cast, Seul sighs that it’s not working out. He’s in love with someone else, and she doesn’t want to be the woman who breaks that up, especially when he only sees her for her status. The ladies sigh that Seul’s good-hearted nature is her undoing, which, *snort.* Well, this IS a fantasy drama.

The mothers waste no time making themselves known, and Seul immediately acts contrite, bowing her head respectfully to Joo-won’s mother.

Mom invites Seul to have a cup of tea with her, liking her for a few reasons. First, Seul had already been selected as bride candidate when she was set up on the blind date with Joo-won, meaning she’s pre-approved in the areas of wealth, status, and background. Second, she’s not Ra-im. At this point, both are equally desirable in Mom’s eyes.

Mom confirms that the stuntwoman is the third party, muttering that she was too nice in her dismissal of Ra-im. Scary thing is, I think that WAS her being nice. Who else shudders to think what horrors she might unleash if she were actually trying?

Secretary Kim enjoys a date with Ah-young, and is therefore reluctant to interrupt it by answering Joo-won’s call. He ignores the phone several times, finally picking up in annoyance to bark that he’s ignoring the call for a reason.

Joo-won can’t believe his secretary would dare talk to him in such a way, but Secretary Kim feigns ignorance and says innocently that he assumed the President Kim who was calling was that other president Kim, the owner of the restaurant that sells pig’s feet. Offended (pig’s feet?!), Joo-won suspects he’s lying, further affronted when his secretary pretends that his signal is cutting out.

But it’s Joo-won who gets the last laugh, because he knows Secretary Kim’s weakness. Ah-young.

He calls Ah-young and Secretary Kim into his office, where they wait nervously for him to get to the point. Unexpectedly, Joo-won invites Ah-young to dinner, which sounds awfully like a statement of interest…

Joo-won adds one caveat: They’ll each bring their best friend in the world along to dinner. Dressed prettily, of course. LOL. He’s getting pretty transparent, isn’t he? And yet, even more hilarious is the fact that neither Ah-young nor Secretary Kim realize that this is all a roundabout way to summon Ra-im.

So after all that effort, Joo-won is left staring in dissatisfaction when Ah-young turns up with a friend who is very much NOT Ra-im. (Although even sadder may be the fact that his “closest friend” is Secretary Kim, who spends the entire scene glare-pouting at Ah-young.)

Pointedly, he says, “Ah-young-sshi, you must have a lot of friends.” She replies that this IS her closest friend, especially with things being awkward with Ra-im these days. Joo-won bursts out, “How can friendship change?”

He starts to explain that this whole arrangement was for Ra-im, but stops himself. Instead, he asks Secretary Kim how well he knows Ah-young. He rattles off a list of things he knows about her, picked up from his time in Ra-im’s body, which sound positively strange coming from Joo-won’s mouth — sleep and bathroom habits, for instance — capping off with advice: Secretary Kim should stay with her even if she dumps him once, because she believes that the way to keep a guy who’s merely playing around with a girl is by dumping him and seeing if he sticks.

Joo-won says, “Take good care of her,” tells Ah-young to come home late tonight, and leaves.

He goes to Ra-im’s apartment, waiting outside in his car and making calls that go ignored. Finally, she trudges up the hill toward her gate, where he intercepts her.

He’s upset and incredulous, demanding, “Who do you think you are?” She looks at him indifferently, and her lack of emotion just fuels him — he can’t understand how she can not care about any of this. How can she be so unaffected, especially after they kissed? How could someone as lofty as he be reduced to sitting around for her for hours? Hey, don’t ask me to explain your mental issues, buddy.

He blames everything on her — if she’d just told him she wasn’t Chae-rin when they met, this would never have happened. You know what else would have prevented events from spiraling this far? How about some sanity on your end?

Ra-im calls him a nutjob, to which he agrees, blaming her for making him into one. (I think you were doing just fine on your own, frankly.)

It’s killing him that he’s so torn up, while she’s going about her life as normal, “So I’m going to do anything and everything from now on.” Uh-oh, I think he just stated his intention to let his crazy loose. To that end, he asks for her cooperation: “You have no intention of becoming the Little Mermaid. So I’ll become the Little Mermaid myself.”

He clarifies: Now he’s the one making the offer to disappear like bubbles after their relationship has run its course: “I’m outright begging you.”


Well, finally! As much as I think Hyun Bin is killing this role, and am getting a huge laugh out of his wacky antics, I’ve been gradually disliking Joo-won more and more over the past few episodes. In this one, I found him damn near insufferable.

He has that maddening way of spouting sexist, classist drivel with unflappable calm, as though his way of thinking were perfectly normal, turning the tables around to make it sound like everything is Ra-im’s failing instead of his own. At least Mommy Dearest is under no illusions that she’s being benevolent or kind, whereas Joo-won has this gift of framing his actions in a way that absolves him of responsibility. And like Ra-im, I find myself almost seeing his point, even when his point is pure fiddle-faddle, which is frustrating because you have to concede that there’s a logic to his madness.

So it’s pretty satisfying to see him driven to the limit of frustration, because it’s really a hell of his own making. All along, he’s been poking at Ra-im, treating her like a doll without a brain or a heart. Then acting like the doll is out of line for making him care about it. You can’t have it both ways, but he was exhausting his excuses to explain his actions in a way that his emotionally stunted mind could understand. HE’D created this, but refused to acknowledge that.

Offering to become the Little Mermaid isn’t exactly the reverse of telling her to be one — telling her to get lost after he’s finished playing with her is NOT the same as volunteering to do the same yourself. It’s all about agency; he’s still calling the shots in both scenarios. But here’s a baby step forward, for him to even consider swapping roles, to hand over the position of power, to be that desperate for her company that he’ll concede this symbolic point. He made his bed, and he’s finally lying in it.


293 December 20, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 12

by girlfriday

We’re kicking it up a notch this week, as the love square starts to get going in earnest, thanks to Seul the Master Feeling Denier. Although I guess we can’t really call it a love square, can we? It’s more like an arranged-marriage-with-cousins-and-a-MerMistress-square. Yeah. I just grossed myself out.


Joo-won declares in his ever-so-magnanimous way that he’ll be the Little Mermaid then, and proceeds to toot his own horn about how cool and awesome he is for deigning to put himself at a disadvantage to be with her. Oh, god. I just realized it. You’re THAT guy—the guy who wants so much to win the race that you don’t even notice that you killed your horse to get there first. Tsk, tsk. You really know how to make a grand gesture all about you.

Ra-im just rolls her eyes at his cluelessness. She points out that in his grand scenario, either way, one of them has to disappear. “You like me that much, but a future with me…turns into bubbles?” And therein lies the problem. It’s made extreme here by way of Joo-won’s outlandish ego, but at the crux of the matter is the most common debate between men and women since dating began.

Joo-won acknowledges that it’s the only way their story can end: that’s their reality. He lays out the enormity of what his marriage means, to his business and his family. He even posits the fantasy scenario: let’s say he gives it all up, for Ra-im, and they run away to go live in a tiny house somewhere. Sure, they’ll be happy, but for how long? Will she be happy knowing what he gave up? He doesn’t have the confidence to never resent her for it. Does she? Damn, well now you’re starting to make sense and it’s annoying me.

Suffice it to say, this is NOT the romantic speech Ra-im needed to hear to sway her.

Ra-im: I’ll say it again: you’re right. Everything you’re saying is right. But hey, Stupid, where on earth is a woman who’ll jump at the chance to happily and beautifully cultivate a love that’ll just turn to bubbles? Nowhere in the world is there a woman who will start a love, giving up the ending. That’s why we’ll never work. We have no answer.

Joo-won counters that there IS an answer…HE’ll be the MerMistress! Did you not hear a word that she just said? Gah. He tells her that not everyone who dates gets married, so why should they let that stop them? Ha. Haha. Just because she didn’t marry every guy she dated does NOT mean that she’ll jump at the chance to be a MerMistress simply because the outcome will be the same. Do you know nothing about girls? I’d like to body swap with his therapist to knock some sense into him.

Ra-im tells him to get it through his thick skull—she doesn’t like him, so he can take his MerBubbles and shove them up his arse. Or I’m paraphrasing. Whatever. At that, he pets her on the head, changing her expression in an instant. He calls her out for denying her feelings when it’s abundantly clear that they’re mutually attracted to each other. Well, he’s got you there. He tells her to think about it sincerely before answering, and leaves.

Meanwhile, Ah-young and Secretary Kim remain at the dinner date, as they try to suss out the meaning behind Joo-won’s concern over Ah-young’s very intimate habits. Secretary Kim is in tears, hilariously having a fit over whether or not his boss and his girlfriend are having some secret affair.

She comes home and starts eyeing the chandelier in her apartment strangely, and declares to Ra-im that Joo-won must’ve put a secret camera in the light fixture. Otherwise, how on earth could he know the things he knows? Ra-im’s eyes widen, as she asks if Ah-young went about her life as usual, sans underwear and all that, when she expressly warned her to be careful. Yeah, you warned her cryptically, as Ra-Him, so how is she supposed to know?

Joo-won’s mother comes by his place to be debriefed by the housekeeper. She sees Ra-im’s map of the complex, hilariously assuming that Joo-won made it, and wonders if he actually calls Oska “oppa.” AHahahaha! I’d die happy if I could see that. It’d be better than the kiss.

She hears that Joo-won wears Oska socks, talks to himself, and gets frequent visits from Ji-hyun (his shrink). All causes for concern, of course, but the Oska socks shock her the most, heh. She also spies the fruit basket that Ra-im had brought to her house, sitting there. She orders it disposed of, but Joo-won comes home in time to save the tangerines from an untimely death.

Mother reminds him that this is still HER house, and that she can kick him out at any time. She tells him that she poured the best of everything into raising him; therefore, he ought to live up to that. If only raising children were like following a cake recipe. You can’t put all the best ingredients in and then expect Perfect Child Cake.

She pushes him in the right direction with a little threat: either start going on blind dates again, or Gil Ra-im will end up in another country. He agrees to the blind dates.

He meets a new woman at the art gallery of course, and soon after Seul calls Ra-im to meet her there as well. She tells Ra-im that Joo-won was just here, and that either way, he’ll meet and marry someone like herself. She’d rather that it be her. Oh, okay then. She acknowledges that Ra-im and Joo-won’s feelings are sincere, and thus apologizes, as if she’s already marrying the guy.

Ra-im wonders why she’s doing all this when the man she really loves is Oska. Seul admits that she did at first, and that she even started all this to return to Oska. But now she doesn’t even believe that he has a memory of their love, so she plans to do whatever she can to hurt him. So you admit that this is still ALL ABOUT OSKA. How is the wrongness of this whole plan not abundantly clear to you? I suppose you don’t care is the point.

She tells Ra-im frankly that if Joo-won is back to going on blind dates, then both she and Ra-im them are as good as out. She adds that they’ve chosen a difficult target. Well, I’d say you’ve chosen a difficult target, whereas Ra-im is the target, from Joo-won’s point of view.

Ra-im starts work on her audition tape for Dark Blood and ignores all of Joo-won’s calls all day. Don’t you know that’s just going to send him to your front door later?

And sure enough, there he is, waiting for her to come home. He demands to know why she’s been ignoring all his calls, and doesn’t take, “Because it’s annoying” as a hint to get out of her face. He whines that he couldn’t get anything done all day because she wouldn’t answer her phone, but she throws back that he apparently managed to go on a blind date just fine.

He’s surprised that she knows, and she asks all the things she learned from Seul that day, about what he gleans about a woman’s perfume use and whatnot, on a museum blind date. He counters with a glint in his eye, “Are you jealous? Does it make you angry? Should I stop going on blind dates?”

It’s actually adorable how much he wants her to admit that she’s jealous, but she doesn’t oblige, walking right past him. He calls out that he came all this way, “Because I missed you.”

That stops her in her tracks as he comes around to face her, wanting to stare at her face a little longer. Okay, that’s cute. He tells her it’s her fault for deleting the pictures of her on his phone, and makes her pose for another one. She makes an angry face, which of course just makes him hotter for her, since he said she’s prettier when she’s angry.

He tells her to hurry up and give him an answer, (to the letting him be the MerMistress question) otherwise he’ll be back tomorrow. You guys do really have the strangest relationship.

Mom has a pow-wow with Oska’s mom about how to get rid of an unwanted girlfriend. Oska’s mother, who has lots of experience in this arena, says that you have to fight fire with fire; you can’t go head to head with her, like Mom vs. Girlfriend. That’ll never do. The answer is to pit her against another woman, one who’s going to be a fierce opponent.

Enter Seul.

Mom brings her unannounced to the next family dinner, where Joo-won and Oska sit side by side, both stunned into silence by her appearance. Grandfather asks if Joo-won intends to marry her. He squirms for a second, then meets his mother’s challenge: a spring wedding will be fine. Oh geez.

Mom introduces her to Oska, who she pretends to meet for the first time. Joo-won cries foul at that, prompting her to lie to cover it up, and for Oska to walk out. She goes to find him, and he asks her what she wants him to do, so that she’ll drop this charade. She tells him to think about WHY she’s doing all this.

Seul: The thing about women is, the most common of women can become a queen, and the most rarefied woman can become a maid…according to how she is treated by the person she loves.

Nicely put. But the statute of limitations on a broken heart only goes so far, honey. After a certain amount of crazy behavior, the rest can only be blamed on you.

After the meal, Joo-won tries to talk his mother out of the match, insisting that Seul is in love with someone else. He doesn’t mention that the other person is his cousin, which he really should, although I suppose that’d ruin Oska’s chances of marrying her. But, then, what’re the odds of that going down now? Mom decides that she’s just perfect, (on paper, of course, which is what matters to her) and that’s that. Joo-won leaves in a huff.

He goes to see his hyung, rushing to try and clear up the misunderstanding. He insists that he didn’t invite her there, and that it’s all his mother’s doing. Oska knows but stays mad at him, making Joo-won whine, “why?” like a little puppy. I do love that Woo-young is the level-headed hyung to the ever-petulant Joo-won.

The reason he’s mad isn’t what he thinks: he’s mad that Joo-won insisted on being rude to Seul and giving her a hard time in front of their family, by letting it slip that she knows Oska. He chastises Joo-won for always thinking only of himself, and never how his actions might hurt anyone else.

Ra-im happens to call him at that moment to move their training session around, and he takes the opportunity to rub it in Joo-won’s face, and asks to see her. Joo-won’s sparkly panties get in a bunch, as Oska says that Ra-im is the only person who can make him feel better right now, and runs off to meet her. Burn.

Joo-won retaliates by calling Seul and asking her to meet. Heh. He asks her what the real deal is between her and Oska, and she coolly replies that they’re past lovers, nothing more. He doesn’t think it’s so much in the past, and tells her that Oska is still in love with her.

She’s unmoved, declaring that she’s over that hormone-driven era of her life. She doesn’t see a problem with their marriage even with Ra-im in the way, as she isn’t the type to meddle in a husband’s “private life,” making Joo-won’s jaw drop at the extent to which she is a cold and heartless high society Bride Bot.

Over an open grill and pig skins, Ra-im and Oska have a chat, and he admits to having her meet him just to piss off Joo-won. HA. He tells her that he’s dated a LOT of women, but still doesn’t understand them in the least. The first and last woman he ever loved has returned as his worst demon, and he’s at a loss for how to deal with it.

Ra-im tells him that all demons are wronged beings in some way, and that some women continue to show their love through their intense hatred. Well, that’s certainly a true statement about Seul, although the spectrum of love/hate is all relative, eh?

There they sit, the four of them on each other’s dates, opposite the wrong person, and brooding over the other.

Joo-won’s sister heads to the department store lost in thought about her last encounter with Jong-soo, when she gets into an altercation with a guy who tries to smoke in a non-smoking area. He raises a hand like he’s going to smack her (dude, take a chill pill) and Jong-soo appears out of nowhere to block the guy’s hand and be the big hero. She swoons, and he exits, in a hurry to go yell at Joo-won.

It turns out that the action school was in a whole bunch of debt, and when Joo-won was Joo-wonda, he happened to intercept a debt collection call, and paid half of it off. He did it to keep Ra-im from finding out about the debt, and only paid half because he knew Jong-soo would have a fit about it anyway.

Well, you thought right, because Jong-soo ain’t havin’ any of your pity/help/investment or whatever. He demands that Joo-won take his money back from the bank and storms out.

There’s other drama at the action school, as two newbies decide to drop out because the training just got too tough. Ra-im sends them off with good wishes, but fights back tears, as she feels personally responsible for not being there to help them stick through it.

Ra-im’s sunbae Jung-hwan comes to see Joo-won and tells him about the action workshop coming up. The location hasn’t been decided, so Joo-won volunteers to take care of that himself. Joo-won asks why he’s helping him get close to Ra-im (because he has lots of money, of course) and also why he uses banmal with him. Jung-hwan: “I’m going to be 31 this year.” Joo-won: “I’m 34.” Whoops. He sits up straight and switches to jondae right quick.

Oska plans for his Christmas concert, and finds Tae-sun at Seul’s studio to tell him that he’ll be a guest performer onstage. He asks after Seul, but she avoids running into him, and watches him leave.

Joo-won heads to the mountains to do an inspection of the new resort that he’s building, and the action school pulls up to the villa for their workshop. Joo-won greets them with a smile, while Ra-im and Jong-soo both look at him with the classic at-Joo-won look: surprise peppered with much exasperation. Jung-hwan uses the opportunity to switch right back to banmal with Joo-won, and takes the blame for planning the workshop with him.

Joo-won pulls Ra-im aside, asking her what her answer is, and why she’s playing so hard to get. He asks what she did with Oska the other day, making mock cooing noises to simulate what the two of them sound like when they’re flirting. Ha. She says it’s none of his business, to which he shouts, “But WE’VE KISSED!”

Hahaha. You really are a five-year old about the kissing. She covers his mouth in a big hurry, and they go inside. Jong-soo announces to everyone that his post as the team leader will go to Jung-hwan next year, since the rule is that it rotates every year to make sure that the action school is never without a leader in case of injury or death. Well that’s morbid.

Joo-won joins Jong-soo outside to say that he’s a little bit cool, since as a leader himself he knows that giving up a position of power is difficult. Well, it’s harder if you’re a control freak.

He asks if it’ll ever be Ra-im’s turn, and Jong-soo replies that she has the potential, as he’s been saying about her all this time. Joo-won asks if he can’t just fire her then, before she dies some fiery death. Jong-soo says that he’s thought about it, but action is everything to Ra-im, and he has no right to take that away from her. Joo-won decides that he’ll have to do it himself then.

He heads back inside to find Ra-im already asleep on the floor, amidst all the other guys, some of whom are sleeping, while others stay up to drink. He steals blankets for her and himself, kicking the guy sleeping next to her to make room for himself. Heh.

He lies down next to her, just quietly watching her sleep, with the happiest look in his eyes, at just being able to look at her face. It kills me, that look.

As he watches her sleep, she starts to have a nightmare, and he puts his finger on her forehead to wake her up. She stirs awake and they lock eyes, suspended in the moment.

They have a conversation in voiceover, so essentially one-sided for both, although they answer back and forth as if they hear each other.

Joo-won: Why is it always so grim in your dreams?
Ra-im: Because in my dreams…you’re there.
Joo-won: With me…even in your dreams…are you not happy?
Ra-im: Come anyway. Tomorrow. And the next day.


Aw. So. Sweet. Hey, a girl can’t help how she feels, no matter how much her head is saying no. Sometimes that just fuels you in the wrong direction, which is, as anyone can attest, the perennial problem with bad boys.

What’s funny about this couple is that they’ve dug their own stubborn graves, and now they’re totally stewing in their own feelings. They’re falling ever so precipitously in love with each other, all the while declaring how it’s never going to work out. Well, when you make it so difficult to even begin, how will you ever find your way out?

The best part about this episode is that it makes one thing very clear: words bad, silence good. Their banter is almost always a hindrance to them, as they usually end up saying the worst possible things to each other if given the opportunity. Joo-won especially has the WORST case of foot-in-mouth syndrome I’ve seen in a while. But when given a moment of silence, their feelings are undeniable, and no amount of babble can cover over that kind of sizzle.

Snap, Crackle, and Pop.


566 December 26, 2010January 24, 2016

Secret Garden: Episode 13

by javabeans

Some really nice moments in this episode, and some long-awaited movement on Ra-im’s part (finally!), help mitigate some other bits that I hated. Or rather, one bit in particular. (I really wanted not to hate it, but it’s one of those things that you just can’t bring yourself to accept, y’know?)


Jung Yeob – “Love You” [ Download ]

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My absolute favorite part of Joo-won staring down at a sleeping Ra-im is how, when she frowns, he frowns too. Despite his emotional stuntedness and his absolutely inappropriate ways of treating people’s feelings, he’s in tune with her feelings and dislikes seeing her experiencing a nightmare. (Too bad he can’t make the mental connection and see that HE’S the cause of some of her waking nightmares, so to speak, with his harassment.)

When she awakens, they stare at each other and have a silent conversation (their thoughts are to themselves, but form a dialogue) which ends with Ra-im mentally telling Joo-won to come by in her dreams again. And then Joo-won utterly ruins the connection by whispering, “Uh, there’s an empty room next door…”

Ra-im grimaces — men! — and shoves her pillow in his face, but both immediately duck down and feign sleep when Jong-soo enters the room. Seeing Joo-won cuddled up to Ra-im, he drags him away, then settles down on the ground to claim the spot next to her.

Not about to be outdone, Joo-won pretends to sleep-wriggle his way back up, wedging himself between the two. He allows himself a gloating smile and snuggles against Ra-im’s back. One point, Joo-won.

In the morning, Ra-im and Jong-soo head out for a hike together, ignoring Joo-won’s pestering questions. He manages to catch up to them on the trail, though he gasps along and asks them to slow down. Instead, Ra-im suggests upping their speed, and Jong-soo happily obliges. One point, Jong-soo.

At the summit, Ra-im declares that winter is her favorite season because the cold forces you to keep walking to keep from freezing to death, warming the body. Well, that’s optimistic in a morbid sort of way.

On their way down, they find Joo-won huddled in the cold, notably opting for the exact opposite of Ra-im’s hypothetical scenario. He sits and waits rather than moving, his body cooling instead of heating.

Grimacing in pain, he makes a big deal about twisting his ankle, and hobbles along with the aid of the other two. They’re particularly annoyed with the way he leans all over Ra-im, using this as an excuse to slip an arm around her and pat her hair.

Finally Jong-soo has enough and declares that it’ll be faster to just carry Joo-won on piggyback… and miraculously, Joo-won declares his ankle healed. Hur.

Disgusted with his cheap trick, Ra-im delivers a swift kick to the shin. Joo-won protests that he really was hurt, clutching his kicked leg while hopping on his good one… then loses his balance and goes toppling down the slope.

Oska calls Seul’s social-climbing friend to ask her about things he should have frankly asked years ago. I suppose he was afraid to face the possibility that he’d been an ass, as he admitted to Ra-im, and now the friend confirms as much. Seul didn’t actually study abroad with that douchebag, as he’d believed, and had even attempted suicide. The friend advises Oska to hear the rest from Seul, since it’s not really her place to divulge all this. Yes, so discreet of her to share everything but one last detail.

Oska grows teary-eyed as she reminds him that Seul doesn’t have a lot of friends because he’d been her everything. She was always there when he needed her, but he was never there for her. The truth, it hurts.

Seul’s employee confesses to accidentally leaking Oska’s plagiarized song, which is doubly bad for Seul because in addition to making her responsible for this professional gaffe, it also means Oska was right when he suspected her.

As Tae-sun watches interestedly, Oska comes barging in and takes her aside to talk. He doesn’t say anything at first, just fixes his attention on peeling a plate of roasted chestnuts. Seul sits there awkwardly, her anger at being wrongly accused fading since the accusation wasn’t so wrong after all. She admits to being responsible for the song leak, but he doesn’t react much, just keeps peeling.

He offers her the chestnuts, having remembered how she liked them, but she shoots him down — he’s mixed her up with someone else. Oops. Frustrated with himself more than anything, he asks why she ever dated a jerk like him in the first place. He promises to think harder about how he hurt her. (Geez, you still don’t know? You declared that she meant nothing to you — to a guy who you thought she was with for a year — and can’t put two and two together? He gets points for effort, not so much for brains.)

Back to the mountain retreat. Joo-won’s business meeting will keep him behind for another day, so the stunt team heads down first. However, Ra-im isn’t with them; she (reluctantly) stays behind to tend to Joo-won, since he was injured when she kicked him.

Given Joo-won’s stunt about the ankle, Ra-im is reasonably suspicious that he’s faking his injured back, too. As he rests up at his own quarters, he wants her to tend to the swelling, then pulls down his pants (pffffffffft!) to show her the bruise. Ra-im whirls around and squeaks out a protest.

He asks what she did with Oska that other night, and she answers that she went to eat pork skins with him. He grimaces at her pointed comment that he ate it “like a man,” unlike some people.

He insists on taking a walk with her, citing physical therapy, and they walk on in silence. I love that they walk in step with each other, like Ra-im did in his fantasies, and he tells her as much — that he’s walked with her before, back when he kept imagining her appearing before him.

Ra-im looks at him as she thinks to herself:

Ra-im’s narration: There are things that are thought of as fantasies merely because they’re far away. Starry bodies are like that. Just as it is with people who are too beautiful, they readily disappear.

The line is a quote from a book, and she continues, thoughtfully:

“In the books that I’d read to find out what he’s really like, there was a passage that had long settled in my heart.”

Joo-won faces her with a smile, and tears start to form in her eyes as she thinks:

Ra-im: “It’s now that I realize it — how beautiful a person he is. And therefore, how far away he is from me. He’ll disappear someday, too, like people do when they’re too beautiful.”

(It’s a beautiful scene… but rehashes a sentiment I’m pretty sure has been shown before. It sorta sucks out the impact of this “revelation” when the point being made is an old one. Although it is nice that we finally see Ra-im’s longing, on a level that’s deeper than a purely physical pull.)

Joo-won barges in on Ra-im while she’s trying to get a handle on her thoughts, pouting and making trivial requests (water, change the TV channel) just to stretch out their interaction. When he declares he’s going to sleep in the same room with her, she’s not having it and tricks him into stepping outside, then locks the door. Indignant, he tries to pick open the lock with a paper clip, unsuccessfully.

It’s his turn to do the tricking: He talks as though Jong-soo has returned, which draws Ra-im outside, at which point he pushes his way into the room. Before she can shove him out again, he pushes her into bed, holding her to him, and tells her firmly to go to sleep.

Ra-im puts up a struggle, threatening first and then pleading for him to let her go. He doesn’t loosen his grip, and eventually she settles down and stares up at Joo-won for a long beat.

After a charged moment of looking at each other — do you hear that crackling? It’s the tension — Joo-won holds her even tighter and starts reciting his old familiar refrain, the one he used to ground himself in reality whenever his feelings (or hormones) got away from him. Only this time, his voice breaks and takes on a desperate tinge as he recites, over and over.

The next morning, they head straight to the doctor’s office after Joo-won wraps his business meeting. Having assumed he was faking his pain, Ra-im is surprised to hear the doctor declare that the injury was fairly severe.

Joo-won’s mother calls Dr. Lee (Ji-hyun) to ask about Joo-won’s medication, ignoring Ji-hyun’s comment about patient confidentiality and shrilly demanding to know the truth. Ji-hyun is spared a knock-down drag-out fight about medical ethics because Mom receives word that Joo-won was injured, and that Ra-im had been with him.

Ra-im has another stunt training session with Oska, who drives her home afterward. However, he recognizes the chauffeured car parked nearby, and guesses what’s happening. Warning Ra-im to stay away until he calls, he hurries inside — where Mom waits in disgust with a nervous Ah-young.

He tries to get his aunt to leave, but like she’s going to listen to him. Ra-im appears at the door (argh, does she not listen, ever?), and that gets Mom’s hackles up. Oska defends her, but it doesn’t help that Mom’s just found the box of Joo-won’s boxers — the ones he “returned” to Ra-im — and she dumps the box over Ra-im’s head.

Ra-im tries to explain about a misunderstanding, but there’s no easy way to explain Joo-won’s sparkly underpants, and Mom rails against Ra-im’s parents for bringing her up poorly, and raising her to mooch off a rich man.

It’s that low blow that lands with her, and Ra-im says with tears in her eyes that it’s true Joo-won likes her, and that she has developed feelings for him as well — but no matter, because she won’t date him now, no matter what, because he’s not someone she’d dishonor her parents to be with. Crying in earnest, Ra-im says that her father was an outstanding person, and demands that Mom take those words back.

Not bloody likely. Instead, Mom spits out that she can do a lot worse. Yeah, I believe you, viper lady. Finally, Oksa loses his temper and forces his aunt out. When he comes back to check on Ra-im, she’s sobbing her heart out, crumpled on the ground with Ah-young attempting to comfort her.

Hearing that his mother paid a visit to Ra-im, Joo-won immediately heads to Ra-im’s house, and then the action school, to no avail. He then confronts his mother angrily, asking her to back off Ra-im.

Mom declares that she knows he’s taking pills, which to her is a Big Fucking Deal — because of how it would look to the world, of course. Nice of her to care about her son’s health, isn’t it? If word got out that the LOEL president was hopped up on crazy pills, it would look mighty bad.

Mom says the one bit of wisdom she’s probably ever spouted in her life, in telling Joo-won to go for the relationship if he likes her so much. At his astonishment, she points out that he’s not actually fighting with her over this — he’s fighting with himself.

But if he chooses Ra-im, if he marries her and has children with her, he’ll have to give up everything. Mom may eventually accept the child, but Ra-im will never be allowed one step into their hallowed halls. So if he thinks he can be content with only love to sustain him, by all means, go for it.

Finally! Mom graduates from Mere Plot Device and Angstmaker Extraordinaire™ to voice of (spiteful, malicious) reason.

Joo-won returns to Ra-im’s door, this time knowing she’s inside because he can hear her phone ringing. She refuses to answer the door, and in the morning finds him still outside — he sits in his car, having waited through the night.

Joo-won tries to say something, but he admits he doesn’t know how to go about apologizing. If he’s looking for a break, she’s not about to cut him one — not when this is more proof of his arrogant privilege. Why can’t he do something everyone else knows how to do? She’s forever apologizing, and yet he doesn’t even know how.

Ra-im tells him she has to keep living her life in that space where his mother degraded her and her family — so he ought to leave her to her own pathetic life, and return to his fairy tale. She walks away battling tears.

Meanwhile. LOEL is holding its annual VVIP party that night, which Seul plans to attend as part of her patented Piss Oska Off Revenge Plan.

After spending all day in a broody fit, Joo-won comes roaring up to the action school. Ra-im quickly asks Jung-hwan to say she’s not here, but Joo-won knows it’s an excuse and shouts aloud into the empty gym that she’s a coward for hiding, that he’s hardly even begun, that he won’t give up. That if she’s going to reject him, she ought to at least take his calls to tell him so.

Jong-soo comes up to her and points out that Joo-won has a point, and that hiding is the worst option. She bows her head but doesn’t emerge from hiding, and spends the day hunched in the locker room lost in thought. She reads over the string of texts Joo-won sends her, each worried in tone, asking her to answer.

After sitting like that for hours, she finally makes a decision and heads out, arriving at Joo-won’s compound that evening.

It’s not till she’s outside his house that she realizes there’s a party going on. From outside, she sees Joo-won making the rounds, smiling and greeting his guests, and the scene hammers in her status as an outsider (literally) looking in (again, literally) on the unattainable world inside.

Remembering Joo-won’s reaction to her shabby safety-pinned bag earlier, she glances down at her clothes, so unsuitable for this setting.

She hesitates when Joo-won calls, and finally decides to leave