KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

a landing site for quick, completely biased, and totally snarky korean drama reviews


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

REWATCH: Personal Taste - Ep 7 - Part 1 of 2

JinHo leans in; GaeIn doesn’t move away. He moves into the small space separating them. Closing his eyes, gently, he presses his lips over hers. GaeIn closes her eyes. JinHo’s eyes stay closed. Upon closer examination, we see GaeIn’s eyes are actually wide open, filled with confusion and uncertainty.

Oh, the webs we weave...
Sunlight is flooding into GaeIn’s bedroom. She’s cocooned herself deep inside her blanket. A moments later, she pops out of the wrap of cotton and bounces upright into a sitting position. She wasn’t sleeping at all, but likely reliving the incredible event of JinHo laying his lips over hers in a drunken stupor. Her mangled hair is evidence of a long, restless night tossing and turning in bed, replaying the event over and over in excruciating detail, as any girl with half a mind would. “What was that…?” she mumbles to herself. “What was that about? Did he develop feelings for women, too? Me?” She taps her own chest. “Me?”

When she hears his bedroom rattle awake, she rushes out to intercept him. “Are you heading out?” she rushes at him. JinHo looks as if he’d hoped to escape without a morning confrontation, but upon seeing the wide-eyed question marks in her gaze, he steels his own expression. He averts his gaze a little before offering in an exceptionally cool, polite tone, “Last night, it seems I was really drunk. I don’t know if I did anything improper…” he trails off. His expression looks stomped upon, as if he wants to turn right but is forced to keep walking left. In fact, it almost looks as if he’s daring her to tell him what impropriety he may have committed. Hesitantly, she ventures, “You don’t remember…anything…at all?” As plainly plaintive her expression is, JinHo
s is completely blank. His stare is as cold as sculpted marble. It is miles and miles away from friendly.

GaeIn hedges, “Then…you probably don’t remember…the fifty dollars…I gave you five ten dollar bills…” He keeps looking at her, seeing right through her. After a beat, without a word, he pulls out his wallet and starts to pull out bills. She waves her hand, “Ah…no, that was a joke…uh...how can a man drink that way…gosh, you were no fun at all…” she tries to laugh it off, but it is awkward and sounds like a hollow voice in an empty hall. Her bravado cracks as she turns away from him. JinHo calls to her retreating back, “If I did something improper…” he falters for a brief second before finishing in the same cool tone, “I ask for your pardon. I drank way too much last night.” Her face carries in it disappointment. His expression carries…expectation? There is an almost-question in his flat words, an almost-question in his steady gaze.
Did he do something that requires forgiveness? Was kissing her something he needs to ask forgiveness for? The look on his face tells us that, without a doubt, he remembers what happened the night before.

GaeIn is a simple creature. Not only does she see JinHo as a gay man, but she accepts his words at face value because first and foremost, she doesn
’t know the whole story and therefore sees no reason why he should lie to her. Second, it is far easier for her to believe that JinHo was drunk and out of control rather than consider the possibility that he may have kissed her with any sincere feelings. She puts on a bright smile and turns to face him, “No need to worry about things like that between friends!” She shrugs off the previous night’s events with one careless wave of her hand. “It’s all good. Go to work.” In the safety of her bedroom, however, her shoulders slump and her voice also deflates, “That’s right. He just mistook me for his boyfriend.” Then grumbles miserably, “No matter how drunk he was, how could he do that with just anyone?”

In his car, JinHo is held at a red light and his gaze finds the bus stop where he had his first encounter with GaeIn. He travels down memory lane. He remembers that first contentious bus ride...ChangYul
’s disastrous wedding...GaeIn’s walk of shame across a row of honking cars after her heartbreak...back then, she had merely been an annoying stranger and those events hadn’t really meant anything to him other than being a passing irritation. Those same events were longer meaningless to him. They are now filtered through the lens of friendship. He thinks about their first hug, initiated by her; about the kiss she’d placed on his cheek during the photo shoot. Thank you very much, JinHo-sshi, you are like a friend and a father to me. I want to welcome you to this house. He smiles at all the memories they’ve shared in such a short period of time…but his face sobers when he remembers why she’s even in his life. He recalls TaeHoon’s accusations that using Professor Park’s daughter as a means to win the Dam Gallery bid is not right. Things are changing for JinHo. The situation has become more than just complicated, it has become twisted. What he is doing isn’t right. Last night he had crossed a line.

At work, JinHo calls the leasing agent and tells him that Sangojae isn’t a good match for him. SangJoon agrees with JinHo’s decision to move out as there is no longer a need for him to snoop around Sangojae. He further suggests they quickly pick themselves back up and keep going forward. “There’s a lot of places willing to work with us. I’ll find us another project. Let’s shake this off and move on.” SangJoon leans in and murmurs conspiratorially, “You know, my mother is related to someone who works at the Blue House* restaurant…how about we bend that person’s ear and present a plan to redo the whole entire Blue House?” He starts giggling. JinHo stares at him stone-faced. “You don’t think that’s funny?” SangJoon asks. JinHo says flatly, “Was I supposed to laugh?” SangJoon’s own laughter subsides. He grumbles about JinHo’s uptightness. JinHo remains straight-faced until SangJoon leaves, then he allows a chuckle to escape.

*Cheongwadae, or the Blue House, is the equivalent of the White House in the U.S.

GaeIn has been summoned to InHee’s office for some work-related bureaucracy. InHee tosses GaeIn the envelope filled with the preliminary funds for the new project. Without a word, GaeIn takes the envelope and turns to move away but stands frozen when InHee loudly answers an incoming call, “Yes, JinHo-sshi.” With a self-satisfied smile, her eyes glued to GaeIn’s confused face, InHee coos, “Are you okay? I called because I was so worried after the way you left yesterday. I would like to buy you a drink.” On the other end of the line, JinHo isn’t very enthused. He declines, “I apologize but today isn’t good for me.” Still sugary-sweet, she encourages him to stay strong, the sort of cozy supportive words an intimately good friend or girlfriend might offer.

When she hangs up, GaeIn wants to know what InHee is talking about, why does JinHo need to stay strong? InHee snits in mock-shock, “You don’t know? And you call yourself his roommate.” She tells her the bad news about the Dam Art Gallery bid, explains that everything JinHo had prepared was all for nothing. GaeIn connects this new information with JinHo’s drunken confession the night before: No matter how much I run, I’m still in that same place. InHee goes in for a sucker punch
, “But this is how you always are, isn’t it? You pretend to be so caring, but in the end, you see only what you want to see.” She sniffs, “Then again, I suppose, why would JinHo confide in you?”

With a heavy heart weighed down by her concern for JinHo and also burdened by InHee
’s cruel accusations, GaeIn drags her feet as she walks out of InHees office. She tries to reach JinHo on his cell phone. In his office, when JinHo sees “landlord” pop up on his caller ID, he can’t bring himself to answer. GaeIn sighs when his voicemail kicks in. GaeIn is, of course, a kind-hearted person but there is no denying the small grain of truth in InHee’s words. She is a woman that has lived her life in a bubble, and unintentionally, that has created a self-absorption that she probably has never realized. It is not the same kind of jealous selfishness that plagues InHee, but it still an isolating type of conceit. One that keeps other people at arm’s length. JinHo has supported her in many ways, through all her ridiculousness, but Gaein is realizing that upon closer examination at their friendship tally sheet, she has done very little to support him.

On the walk home, she passes by a store filled with teddy bears. Along with a bag of groceries, she brings home a fashionably dressed little toy lion. It is a gangly little thing donning a black suit and a very sharp-looking little bowler hat. She tells the stuffed animal, “Hey fella, this is the house where you’re going to live. There’s another guy here who looks exactly like you, with your long legs even.” She names the new fluffy resident JinHo after the human equivalent. But that’s not all, she has more in store for JinHo. She’s off to the kitchen to prepare a meal for JinHo. The very first time she prepared a meal for him, it had been out of a selfish desire to keep him as a tenant. This time, it is a completely selfless desire, the only goal to make him feel better.

When JinHo comes home, he stands outside Sangojae’s front door, as he always seems to do, once again struggling with mixed emotions. He gives himself a pep talk, “Just until Saturday, Jeon JinHo.” Then more quietly, “There’s no reason to stay here anymore.” It sounds less like a statement of fact and more like words to convince himself of its truth. Inside, he is greeted by a fully set table. “Tada!” GaeIn presents her masterpiece: codfish stew. JinHo stirs the liquid full of limp veggies. He pokes around with the ladle looking for the codfish in the supposed stew that features them. GaeIn explains that the stew started out with clearly visible fish but the more and more it cooked, the fish started to hide themselves. JinHo is again not impressed by her cooking. Instead of letting himself be moved by her efforts, he adopts an overly critical, grumpy tone. GaeIn defends against his complaints, “It’s the thought that counts!” JinHo informs her that she can just share her thoughts then, she doesn’t need cook. GaeIn explains her efforts, “For me, no matter how upset I am or how difficult a situation, when I sit in front of a well-set table, I think to myself, ‘Yes, let’s eat this and gather my strength! I can do it! Fighting!’ I think these types of thoughts and get filled with renewed strength.”

JinHo fixes her with a tired look, “Then you eat up and gather your strength and you live well.” GaeIn replies, “You, too, JinHo-sshi. Eat and gather your strength.” JinHo begins to eat, unenthusiastically, but he can’t resist lecturing her. In a monotone, he tells her to please stop falling down while running around, make sure to keep her medicine reserves well-stocked and to quit cutting herself while messing with knives in the kitchen. GaeIn responds, “Then JinHo-sshi can do all the knife-work for me, and if I fall JinHo can pick me up, and if I run out of medicine, you can go buy me more…why should I worry about that stuff?” She’s beaming happily, confident that she can depend on him. Naturally, this completely frustrates him even more. “Exactly how long do you think I’m going to be living here?” he asks her. Her expression literally changes direction and heads south. She’s not sure why he’s talking about leaving, as if he’s planning to make a quick exit. JinHo points out that it’s just fact, he won’t be living at Sangojae forever, to which GaeIn agrees hesitantly, but clearly she has not taken even a second to imagine a future without him since his entrance into her life. He relents at her crestfallen expression, “Fine. Since I won’t be leaving anytime soon, just eat your dinner.” The girl who loves food almost more than life itself finds herself without appetite at the thought of JinHo leaving. “I guess there are times when even I can lose my appetite,” she murmurs glumly. But that irritates him more; this is yet another thing she needs to fix, the way she gets attached to people to easily. GaeIn says that’s just the way she is and she can’t help it. He regards her in a mixture of sadness, annoyance and…something else, something more.

Later in the evening, JinHo is in his bedroom slowly packing up when GaeIn comes barging in holding a small bag of trash. “Working?” she asks. He replies, “Obviously.” She swings the bag back and forth, “I’m gonna take out the trash.” “So?” She asks shyly, “It’s a little heavy, couldn’t you help me carry it out?” He scoffs at the tiny bag, “You’re telling me that’s heavy?” She smiles and tells him they can also go for a stroll and it’ll lift his mood. He’s tempted but he squashes the desire to go and informs her that work accomplishes the same for him. She grumbles, “Not like you have anything urgent to do.” He doesn’t know that she’s learned that the Dam Gallery project fell through, so he turns around, “What did you say?” She says it’s nothing and quickly makes haste to leave but he asks if she has free time tomorrow. He wants to give her one final test to see how far she’s come along in their Project Make-Park-GaeIn-A-Woman. JinHo will pretend to be her boyfriend and all she has to do is apply what she has learned to their date. She’s excited, “So we’re going on a date tomorrow?” JinHo corrects, “Not a date, but a final test.” She promises a grand transformation, “Look forward to it!” The grim expression on his face is in stark contrast to her giddy excitement. For him this is good-bye, for her, this is just another fun day out with her new friend and roomie.

GaeIn steps outside to dispose of the trash and finds a different kind of garbage slumped on her stoop. Once again, ChangYul has found himself drunk-walking to her door, a crime ten times worse than drunk-dialing.  “What are you doing here?” she wants to know. He slurs, “Oh…I’m going…I know should go…” She wants to know why he keep coming to seek her out. “It just happens…even though I know I shouldn’t keep coming here looking for you…but I’m so frustrated and bothered…I end up here without even realizing it myself…” ChangYul is reveling in his usual swirl of self-pity and victim-act. He tells her that he has no one in his life who will listen to his troubles. GaeIn had always been such a good listener, had always been there to help him through his problems. GaeIn tells him honestly that she would probably have been a friend to him until the very end if only he hadn’t betrayed her. Breaking up is one thing, backstabbing her the way he did, however, is quite another. This is one of those situations that JinHo had been warning her about, the need for a strong will, but faced with a drunk ex-boyfriend, GaeIn is not able to coldly turn away the man that had once been the sun and the stars for her.

She tries to head back into the house with her pride in tact but is kept in place by a weepy ChangYul, “The truth is, my mother…my mother…” At his crumpling face, she jumps in, “Your mother? Which mother? What about her? Did she die?” No. Turns out, one of his mothers is heading off to Africa, a mother who couldn’t attend her son’s wedding because of his tyrant father. Her one wish is to make a meal for her new daughter-in-law, possibly for the first and last time. “Isn’t this something you should be telling InHee?” GaeIn snarks bitterly. ChangYul tells her they’re done, completely and truly. He further explains that InHee had only loved the man that had been in GaeIn’s imagination. That amazing man had only existed when viewed through Park GaeIn
’s lovesick eyes. Of course, in the end, ChangYul’s midnight visitGaeIn and more about himself and the favor he needs from her.

JinHo has come out of his bedroom for some water but upon seeing GaeIn’s closed door, his own want for her company gets the better of him. “Park GaeIn-sshi, I’m coming in,” he announces at her door. He enters only to find the room empty. “Did she go for a walk by herself?” he wonders. He eventually realizes that she is not enjoying the night air but in fact being held hostage outside Sangojae’s front door by a sloppily drunk ChangYul asking GaeIn to pretend to be his wife for the sake of his mother, the mother who protected him from his father’s beatings when he was a kid. JinHo hisses under his breath, “ChangYul, you crazy…” JinHo continues to eavesdrop as ChangYul admits he’s asking something completely out of line but he has no one else. “Wow, you’re really something else,” GaeIn says, “how can you even ask me to do something like this?” JinHo’s is still intently listening, probably mentally willing GaeIn to stand her ground. But as ChangYul once said, he knows GaeIn very well and the fact that she didn’t outright deny his request gives him hope. He presses his advantage, “She’s my real mother, the one who gave birth to me.” GaeIn thought his birth mother passed away. No, he explains, this is actually his blood mother despite the registry records. ChangYul was actually the lovechild of an affair that happened when President Han was still married to his late mother. ChangYul really wants to honor this last wish by his birth mother to share one last meal before she leaves for Africa.

Hook, line and sinker. On the other side of the door, JinHo has heard enough. He, too, knows GaeIn well enough to know she’s going to cave. Disgusted, he walks away.

When GaeIn comes back inside, JinHo is gulping water like a man in a desert. He’s furious. When she asks if they could reschedule their ‘date,’ his expression narrows, but it’s ever-so-subtle and naturally, GaeIn does not notice, as she often does not notice JinHo’s microscopic shifts of temper. When she starts to fabricate a convoluted lie about a needy friend who recently gave birth, JinHo says pointedly, “Weren’t YoungSun and InHee your only friends?” She tries to explain but he doesn’t really care about her lies. He walks away. Accurately sensing that JinHo is upset, she grabs his arm as he tries to leave, “Are you disappointed we won’t be having our date?” JinHo replies without emotion, “Why would I be disappointed? It works out for the best anyway. Now I don’t have to do an inconvenient chore.” She pouts, “You don’t have to say it like that…wasn’t the date your idea in the first place?” He retorts that he was only indulging her because she kept nagging him about a project to turn her into a woman. She doesn’t understand why he has to talk to her so coldly. With no adequate response, especially not an honest one, he simply retreats to his bedroom. Behind closed doors, his desk feels the brunt of his frustration as he slams his hand against it.

“I know you’re just acting like that because things didn’t go your way,” GaeIn is telling Teddy Lion JinHo, “but you, don’t you know how to express your anger? Just let it out. Hey dummy, why can’t you just be honest about your feelings with your friend, what’s so hard about that? You think long legs is all you need?” Teddy JinHo has no reply. She’s making faces at the miniature version of her roommate when she hears JinHo’s door clang open and his footsteps shuffle out. She quickly runs out herself and exclaims, “JinHo-sshi, where are you going?” He replies curtly, “Why do you need to know that for?” At his stiff response, she gives in first. She apologizes for canceling their plans and also for flaring her temper first, “I was in the wrong. But you’re going to give me another chance, right? You’re going to let me take the final test? Right?” He stays silent. She grabs onto the end of his jacket belt and tugs on it, like a little kid tugging on dad’s coat sleeve. “Where you going? Where you going? Take me with you, hmm? Hmm?”

Just as GaeIn is no match for the tears of everyone else in the universe, JinHo is no match for GaeIn. Instead of taking a solitary drive in the quiet dark to cool off and mull over his problems, GaeIn sits shotgun, dressed in a pullover with animal ears on the hood, window rolled down, screaming like a crazy person, “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! Heeeeeeeey!” JinHo is shooting her looks of dismay as he drives, “Pull your head back inside, you’re going to cause an accident!” GaeIn lectures JinHo about the dangers of repressing his anger. She pegs him as the type who always grits his teeth and bears everything no matter what, the kind of person who never shows his emotions. She tells him it’ll lead to disease if he doesn’t let out his feelings of loneliness and sadness. “I’m not lonely or sad,” JinHo denies. She doesn’t believe him. She flips on the radio and turns it up. She tells him no one can hear him with the music blaring so let it all out. At her insistence, he gives an awkward, “H-hey.” She urges, “Do it louder. Like this: HEY! KNOCK IT OFF! YOU'RE ALL DEAD! Like that.” JinHo doesn’t want to but GaeIn won’t let him off the hook. She promises that he’ll feel better afterwards. “Come on!” She grabs onto his driving arm and tries to grapple him into participating. He yells, “Hey, stop it! You’re gonna cause an accident!” She points at him excitedly, “Oh! You dropped the formal speech!” He realizes he has indeed addressed her casually and refocuses his stare on the road ahead. She tells him that they should continue to speak casually with one another. He snits, “I’m afraid of what else you’ll make me do if we drop the formality…” Ok, she’s willing to debate the merits of informal speech later, but for now, this friend wishes for him to yell out in complete abandon just once. With her loud coaching, he tries, “Heeey! Heeeey! HEEEY!” She chides, “JinHo-sshi, for man, why is your yelling weaker than a girl’s?!” She gives an example “HEEEEY!” and he winces at her loudness. He tries again, “HEEEY! YOU’RE ALL DEAD! YOU’RE ALL DEAD!”

Some time later, the night has returned to peace and quiet. The two are parked riverside, enjoying hot drinks and a view of the city lights sparkling over the black water. “You’re completely refreshed after yelling like that, aren’t you?” she asks, then adds, “Aren’t you glad you have a friend like me?” He’s quiet as he leans against the hood of his car and sips on his drink. Ironically, what she doesn’t realize is that her good friend attributes are the very reasons for his discomfort. At his continued silence, she suggests they do the final test right now since they’re out together anyway. “I’m not really in the mood,” he tells her. That’s exactly why they should do it now, she argues, to lift the mood. “Aren’t you curious how I’d score? I’m pretty confident I’ll do well,” she says eagerly.

Abruptly, he stands up straight and puts down the paper cup. He faces her. Seriously, he calls her name, “Park GaeIn-sshi.” She hesitates, “Yes?” He tells her, “Don’t fall for me. I won’t love you.” Her immediate reaction is hurt at hearing those words. “Well…yes…of course…” she stutters…then brightens a little, hopefully, “Is this the test?” He doesn’t say anything and she accepts that as an affirmative. He follows her lead, continues, “The two of us have dated for a long time. But the only reason I dated you, Park GaeIn-sshi, is because you resembled an ex-girlfriend that I have loved. I can’t forget this woman. No matter how much I try, I can’t let go of my memories of her. In the future, I may call you by her name. I may even ask you to behave like her. Will you be able to do that for me?” She asks nervously, “You must have loved this woman very much?” He answers in the affirmative. “Then I will do that for you,” she says with quiet sincerity. “You see, JinHo-sshi, I love you so much…I’ll listen to the memories of your love…”

JinHo grabs her roughly by the shoulders and angrily snaps, “You, Park GaeIn, is that what I taught you?! What’s different now than the stupid girl from before?” GaeIn is startled. She defends herself from his anger. She couldn’t stop herself, the words just came out…he spoke so sincerely so she had to accept his wishes. JinHo is furious. He’s yelling now. He demands to know how long she’s going to live her life like this, as everyone else’s doormat. After a moment, he drops his hands from her shoulders. He realizes he’s overreacting, making it too personal.

GaeIn asks him, “Then…what was I supposed to do? Isn’t love about throwing away things like self-respect?” JinHo corrects her, “Love shouldn’t make you throw away self-respect, it should help you protect it.” JinHo sighs, “From now on, don’t do this. Don’t trust people so easily, don’t love so easily and don’t forgive so easily.” He looks at her, “Please, be strong.” She steels herself and tries to assure him, “I will. I’ll try my best.” He stares at her face, the uncertainty there and thinks, Then you shouldn’t have agreed to do ChangYul his favor. You’re never going to change. JinHo pulls away, physically, but in a way, he’s also trying to free himself emotionally. He lets go of her shoulders. “There’s nothing more I can teach you,” he tells her. She doesn’t understand the finality in his words. She asks, “Why? You don’t believe me?” The answer on his face is obvious. He turns away from her and goes back to the car, GaeIn trailing him. “If you won’t believe in me, who will?” she asks. JinHo shuts the door on her question.

Outside Sangojae, he tells her to go inside. “What about you?” GaeIn asks. He has somewhere he needs to go. “Will you be back late?” she wants to know. JinHo can’t look at her, “I don’t know.” Finally, she gets out of his car and he drives away. She stares after him, sensing that there is still something unresolved and uncomfortable between them.

In the car alone—finally—JinHo is more than slightly bothered. So much so, he has to pull over to the side of the road when his thoughts overwhelm him. The flower shop next to the car catches his eye. On a whim, he buys a single red rose and back home, he places it outside her bedroom door. 

He thinks, Please, be strong.



  1. KYA!! i just saw ep 10.. the ending is.. hihi.. hope to read your recap about it soon. lol. i had to vent my excitement somewhere.

  2. Oh, how exciting! Was it a game-changing cliffhanger!? Me so sad. I was away this past weekend and without my laptop so I'm SOOOO-SOOOO-SOOOO behind! I'm trying to catch up. You know, I haven't even watched episode 8 yet! On the bright side, I have three episodes to look forward to now! Yay. And please do, vent to your heart's content!! I know how you feel! I think I'm falling in love with Lee MinHo all over again.

  3. yep... game-changing all right.. ok, so it actually might be overhyped a bit but still SQEEE! aw, it's too bad you can't watch but yeah, it'll be more exciting when you get to it i guess. and you have to wait too long to know what will happen. yeah, lee min ho is definitely cool at the end? *faint*
    hope you get to watch it soon. and ep8-9 are good too! things are starting to get more confusing for our two lovebirds.


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