Love is like spring...a rainy season
The duo is on their way home after GaeIn’s shocking declaration of vengeance. JinHo isn’t amused. “It’s the only way!” GaeIn is imploring, trying to convince JinHo that her reasons are sound. She believes, “It’s the only way I can cleanly and completely get that jerk ChangYul out of my life!” Exasperated, JinHo asks, “Are you aware of Socrates’ guiding philosophy?” She ventures, “Know thyself?” He affirms, “I see you do. So take that advice.” But that’s why she wants his help! She is aware of her own limitations. With JinHo’s help, however, she’s positive she can execute this revenge properly and end it once and for all with ChangYul! JinHo finally stops walking and faces her, grabbing her shoulders, “You’re the kind of person that is genetically incapable of doing things like revenge.” She insists, “I can do it! I really want to end this with finality.” She needs to have this perfect revenge on jerk ChangYul, a man who still sees her as someone he can push and shove as he pleases.
Seemingly out of nowhere, JinHo tells her, “The person I love the most in this world is my mother.” GaeIn makes a face, “Excuse me? Why bring that up now out of nowhere?” JinHo ignores her and continues, “She’s also the person that hurts me the most in this world.” GaeIn can only utter another, “Excuse me?” JinHo explains, “She’s too soft-hearted. My mother also has her reasons for wanting revenge, but she could never go through with it. Do you know why? Whenever she sees that person she wants revenge on, she immediately bursts into tears.” In fact, JinHo further elucidates, that is why he became with friends with GaeIn as well, because she reminds him so much of his mother. In conclusion, that is why Park GaeIn will not be able to pull off any kind of revenge on ChangYul. GaeIn looks like the disappointed puppy she’s oft accused of being.
(In one passingly simple comment, JinHo has compared GaeIn the most important person in his universe…coincidence? I think not! A very high praise indeed and, in a way, very telling of his true feelings.)
GaeIn completely misses the subtle significance of JinHo’s [super sweet] comment and pounds her head against his back when he turns away again. She wails that if she doesn’t do at least this much for herself, she won’t ever be able to let go of her hurt. The relenting look on JinHo’s face tells us that again, GaeIn wins the battle. After all, GaeIn getting all traces of ChangYul out of her system isn’t necessarily a bad thing for JinHo either. Besides, this man really can’t say no to this woman on anything. Mr. Perfect would probably jump off a cliff for GaeIn if she asked, judging by the score card so far. He is so adorably and completely conquered by her, but of course, it’s most amusing because neither of them yet realize it.
At Sangojae: we zoom in on GaeIn’s bandaged palm, which raised in ceremony. She swears an oath that as soon as her best friend and teacher, Jeon JinHo, tells her it’s “game over,” she’ll toss ChangYul out the door without a moment’s hesitation. JinHo dismisses her oath as just empty words and tells her to focus on hardening her heart instead of making empty declarations. She continues to verbally outline her plan to apply everything JinHo has taught her so far and will succeed in getting her due justice on the man who took advantage of her vulnerability. They are sitting across from one another on Sangojae’s benches, and just as he always does whenever GaeIn asks him for an unusual favor, JinHo has his arms crossed. “Do you really have to do this?” he asks, one last attempt at trying to reason with her, “because me, I’d really rather you didn’t.” GaeIn throws back, “You’ve heard the saying, haven’t you? An eye for an eye, a nose for a nose!” He dead-pans: “It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” She bows in respect to his expanse wisdom. He retorts, “It’s common knowledge.”
First things first: self-esteem. JinHo takes her into the bathroom and forces GaeIn to face herself in the mirror. He waits impatiently when GaeIn only stares at herself silently. “Hurry up and try it,” he orders. She stares intensely at herself then her composure shrivels, “No, no, no, I can’t do this, it feels too icky.” He insists but she keeps muttering, “This isn’t it. This isn’t it.” He challenges, “I guess you don’t want to get revenge after all.” Realizing she can’t fail before even starting, she squares are shoulders and faces her reflection again. She mouths “I’m pretty”—not a peep of sound is heard. JinHo tells her, “This time, like you believe it.” Bracing herself, she spits out “I’m pretty!” in rapid-fire and immediately lowers her face in embarrassment. JinHo smiles at her shyness and repeats, “Please say it like you believe it.” She smiles stiffly, like a child being forced to smile for a family portrait and tells the mirror, “I’m shexy.” They both cringe at the awkward way it dumps out of her mouth. He tells her to keep doing it until it feels natural. She barks loudly, as if answering a drill Sergeant, “I am deserving of love! I’m perfect!” JinHo smiles from the sidelines. GaeIn puts her fingers to the sides of lips and pushes them up, trying to make her smile seem more genuine.
The lesson continue on, this time a field trip. JinHo is waiting for her outside of Sangojae by his car. When GaeIn steps outside, his casual expression turn serious as he takes in her heels, her dress, her hair—her prettiness. She nervously scratches her head as he stares at her. He takes a moment to look away to control his own involuntary smile.
When GaeIn reaches to open the car door herself, he hurries around to the passenger side to open it for her. She stares at him in baffled surprise, as if the simple act of a guy opening the door for her is like a rainbow appearing without rain. Seems ChangYul never showed her any chivalry, judging by her reaction to such a minor gesture. JinHo addresses her as “princess” as he holds the door, and understandably, GaeIn gets the chills at his heavy dosage of cheddar, “Oh, what are you doing? So gross!” He rolls his eyes and lectures her that to be treated well, a woman needs to believe herself that she’s precious and expect to be treated that way. He repeats, “You car awaits, Princess.” She allows him to help her into the car and gets into her character. With a flick of her hair, royally, “Very well, Guard Jeon.” Again, he can’t resist reacting, charmed by her silliness. He smiles as he closes the car door.
They go to see a movie together and GaeIn offers to pay for the tickets, as it’s the least she can do when JinHo is putting in so much effort on her behalf. She informs him that she’s the type that carefully keeps track of points and returns favors accordingly. JinHo offhandedly warns her against modifying her behavior just to earn points because a man is paying. She assures him she doesn’t, which of course, is likely a lie. They next decide what they should watch.
“What do you want to watch?” he asks.
“How about you?” she returns.
“You decide, GaeIn-sshi,” he tells her.
“No, you can decide, JinHo-sshi,” she returns automatically.
JinHo fixes her with yet another long, exasperated look, “Are you always like this when you go on dates?” She asks innocently, “Like how?” He criticizes, “Always going along with whatever a man wants you to do instead of ever asserting yourself?” GaeIn argues that there is nothing wrong with being accommodating if it is out of consideration for the other person, to which JinHo counters, “Men lose interest in women who are always obedient and never assert themselves.” She lets that sink in. In fact, her overly accommodating nature had definitely been on ChangYul [nasty] laundry list of things he had found annoying about her when they’d dated. ChangYul’d already mentioned several times how tiring he’d found her constant need to please him without every having opinions of her own.
JinHo tries again, “I feel like watching an action-packed blockbuster.” GaeIn immediately tarts back, “Out of the question. We’re seeing a romantic comedy!” JinHo congratulates her, “Exactly like that! Very good.” They smile at one another and he claps approvingly. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see how this is ‘revenge-training’ and not just ‘I-like-you-dating’!
The two enjoy the small moment of victory when a female voice interrupts hesitantly, “JinHo-sunbae*?” Laughter fades and both turn around in surprise. JinHo’s clapping freezes in place as he registers the voice and the face. The new arrival’s expression matches his: awkward, surprised and anxious. She’s a pretty young woman (specifically, she’s the gorgeous Yoon EunHye) and she looks at JinHo with eyes that clearly say ‘I’m still not over you, my first love’—GaeIn, for her part, looks equal measures confused and curious. “It is you, sunbae,” the girl says. He uncomfortably replies, “Oh…EunSoo...”
*sunbae and hoobae: a sunbae is a form of address afforded to a senior/mentor in any given profession or during school by a hoobae, a younger person or lower classman
GaeIn looks increasingly baffled at The Vibe between the co-eds. The unspoken tension is like a plucked string on a guitar, reverberating in the silence. There is nothing more distinctive and loud than the stunned non-speaking of two ex-lovers reuniting unexpectedly. It also carries an interesting perfume: hints of plumeria, bergamot and lots of bittersweet regret. EunSoo manages politely, “It’s been awhile. How have you been?” JinHo averts his gaze, unable to answer, and in the momentary awkwardness, EunSoo notices GaeIn standing beside him. She ventures, “Who...?” After introductions, Yoon EunSoo asks if GaeIn is his girlfriend, to which JinHo quickly denies. GaeIn snits under her breath, “Then what am I, your boyfriend?” EunSoo can’t help but giggle.
They decide to sit a bit with EunSoo before GaeIn and JinHo’s movie starts. JinHo and EunSoo tentatively update each other on their lives via rumors they’ve heard about one another: JinHo has started an architecture firm and EunSoo is furthering her medical studies at Johns Hopkins. EunSoo is touched that JinHo cares enough to take the time to pick up on rumors about her, an indication to her that she’s at least still on his mind. EunSoo explains that she has come back to Korea for only a brief visit with her mother. GaeIn interrupts to note that despite their different disciplines in college, they seemed to have been close. “Were we?” EunSoo wonders aloud. JinHo smiles a little. Oh, secret jokes between an old couple in front of the new couple...no new girlfriend likes that, but GaeIn doesn’t compute, as she senses the strange vibe between them but still believes that JinHo can only manage platonic relationships with women. So she assumes she’s misreading the emotional cues. EunSoo explains that they had both practically lived in the library together. They became close because they had both been insatiable workaholics.
JinHo teases that it seems that EunSoo is finally living like a ‘real person’ these days, after all, she’s even out watching a movie. EunSoo disagrees, says she fell asleep after the first ten minutes. She’s still behaves like a subnormal person. “I’m envious of you, sunbae, who even goes out to the movies with his girlfriend.” GaeIn murmurs shyly, “But I’m not his girlfriend.” EunSoo look at her briefly, but GaeIn quickly changes the subject by speculating that someone like EunSoo probably has guys lining up for her attention. No, she really doesn’t, EunSoo disagrees. JinHo explains, like himself, EunSoo doesn’t really have much time or interest in anything else besides work. EunSoo is amused at how concisely he wraps up her personality, with a pretty bow on top. “That’s what friends are for,” he replies lightly, with a smile. EunSoo gets serious and responds, “It wasn’t that long ago when you said you didn’t want to be friends anymore.” Both EunSoo and JinHo’s smiling camaraderie evaporates and they both retreat into their own painful memories.
At the lengthening silence, GaeIn looks from one face to another…hmmmm, her look says. She fills the conversational void, “EunSoo-sshi, I bet he was just as prickly back in college as he is now, wasn’t he?” EunSoo chuckles and agrees that his hotness was the only thing that kept him from being a complete outcast. Through GaeIn’s lighthearted teasing, EunSoo works up the nerve to ask, “But…how did the two of you first meet?” JinHo gets nervous as GaeIn continues to laugh exuberantly, “You see, it’s a little complicated, but the first time we met, this guy grabbed my butt—” JinHo interrupts, “Hey, hey!” JinHo quickly shoves GaeIn’s drinking straw into her mouth. “Drink!” To make sure she stays quiet, he gives her a second helping, “Drink again!” He hisses, “Don’t.” GaeIn mouths an affirmative, completely chastised. GaeIn gets the point. No butt stories. It’s very cute, very couple-like. EunSoo’s eyes are wide, and slightly nervous, “First time…grabbed your butt…” JinHo’s lips twitch in an awkward effort at a smile.
Some time later, outside the theater, JinHo is saying good-bye to EunSoo, who takes another serious moment to ask if JinHo ever regretted letting her go. She acknowledges that she shouldn’t be asking this kind of a question to a guy who has a new girlfriend, but she can’t help it. JinHo answers her question with a quiet, “I’m sorry.” It’s ambiguous but implies he does not regret his decision. If EunSoo had caught him with this question even a few weeks earlier, the answer may have been different (before his weather report changed, alongside GaeIn’s). Had this been another time and place, another kdrama, EunSoo would totally have been the heroine and won the guy. But as they say, falling in love is the easy part, it’s holding onto that love that’s hard. It’s all about the timing. “As cool as ever,” EunSoo replies, a sad smile on her face. “I guess that’s probably why I liked you in the first place.” EunSoo tells him they shouldn’t accidentally meet this way again…at least not until she found her own special someone to see movies with. She adds, “…maybe 10 years from now?” She starts to leave, but pauses to add, “GaeIn-sshi…seems like a really good person.”
As soon as EunSoo is gone, GaeIn walks over to JinHo’s side. “JinHo-sshi,” she starts, “it almost feels like the two of you were once in love.” JinHo tells her that of all the men and women that have passed through his life, EunSoo was someone he had found the most enchanting. GaeIn understands, even from her perspective as a woman, EunSoo seems like a truly amazing person. He confides, “Seeing her, so driven, always running with her eyes only focused ahead, she was like me. I felt like we were kindred spirits.” GaeIn smiles wistfully and admits that she wants to become like EunSoo. JinHo turns to her, not sure what that means. Obviously, his feelings for EunSoo had not been platonic, but GaeIn doesn’t know that. GaeIn further clarifies, “The kind of person JinHo-sshi could consider a kindred spirit.” She smiles. JinHo does not. He has on his face the look of someone who has heard something a shade too close to the truth, a truth he’s still in the midst of denying.
After the romantic comedy, they go high up to a lookout to see the evening city lights. They are sitting side by side on the steps with a gorgeous view laid at their feet. As they gaze out at the sparkling Seoul ink below them, JinHo breaks the silence, “I like you.” GaeIn turns to him, eyes widening, “JinHo-sshi?” He isn’t looking at her but far out into the distance. He continues, “I can laugh when I’m with you.” GaeIn stutters, “Um…but JinHo-sshi, you’re…” JinHo snaps out of his reverie (or perhaps truth-telling?) and slides her an innocent glance, and shares another lesson, “When people come to a high places like these, they feel exhilarated. That’s why they’re able to muster up courage to confess their love.” Gaein stares at him dumbfounded and can only utter a confused, “Huh?” JinHo concludes, “In the future, come to a place like this if you want a proposal.” GaeIn nods in understanding and murmurs, “Ahhh…” JinHo smiles (a bit knowingly), “What did you think I meant?” GaeIn pretends nonchalance, “Me? Nothing. I wasn’t thinking anything at all.” He gazes at her, his expression amused, affectionate...and nostalgic. Oh, he knows exactly what she was thinking. It’s plain to read.
JinHo turns back to the twinkling lights and his thoughts also turn back time. The mood was similar back then, but in his memories, it had been by a water’s edge, not a mountain top. And the girl EunSoo, not GaeIn. In this memory, EunSoo is happily shooting off sparklers and fireworks. A more light-hearted and casual looking JinHo is at her side. Through her laughter, he says, “EunSoo, I have something to say.” He smiles shyly when she turns to him, he tells her blithely, “Should we…stop being friends?” When EunSoo gaze rises to meet his sober ones, JinHo says more seriously, “I want to stop.” She gets his meaning. EunSoo runs into his arms for an embrace.
Memory fades away. Back to reality. JinHo stands up, “Let’s end here for today’s class.” He turns to leave but GaeIn stops him with a tug of his arm. She steps behind him and starts to write on his back with her fingertips. “What are you doing?” he asks. She doesn’t answer but continues to write. He asks again, “Park GaeIn-sshi, what are you writing?” She won’t answer him directly, but writes her reply on his back. It is a weather forecast for herself, as Koreans love to equate emotions with weather (well, actually, I guess a lot of cultures do). She hopes for more than just sunshine days, however, as GaeIn’s hopes are more personal and specific: In the next…next life, please come back as a man who can love a woman. Although she doesn’t have the confidence to say this to JinHo out loud, she confesses the truth to his back. At this moment, she scribbles with fingertips in confession, she has no interest in the revenge she’s starting tomorrow. In other words, for her, the weather forecast for her future only includes JinHo, not ChangYul.
The next day, JinHo and GaeIn are riding in his car and he’s imparting more knowledge about the desires of men. He tells her that men like women who are witty and have a good sense of humor. GaeIn declares that she’s confident in that particular ability. She’s great at making people laugh! JinHo scoffs, physical gags that include her body tripping all over the place does not a sense of humor make. GaeIn asks him, “Teacher, do you know what the funniest one-liner is? It rained on the day employees from the National Weather Service went outside to exercise.” JinHo looks away, expression grim. Such a lame joke doesn’t even warrant an eye roll, his face reads. GaeIn challenges her teacher to throw one out then. JinHo can’t think of one off the top of his head. GaeIn points out that she can’t learn properly if her teacher won’t give her an example of what’s good. “I’ll wait. Call me when you think of one,” she suggests, a knowing smirk on her face. He also smirks, “You just wait.”
Despite JinHo’s bravado with GaeIn, it turns out he’s rather clueless when it comes to making the funny. While eating lunch with SangJoon and TaeHoon back at the office, he asks them if they know any good jokes. SangJoon laughs, “Why? Are you dating someone behind my back?” Because, SangJoon explains, only guys trying to impress a girl go around collecting jokes. TaeHoon immediately jumps to the conclusion that JinHo and HyeMi have finally started their romance. JinHo is startled, “No…I just thought it was boring for three guys to be sitting around like this just eating…” SangJoon accepts the explanation, “Well, true, why would a guy like you need to tell funny stories?” Again SangJoon’s hero worship comes out. He says, “Only guys like me who aren’t dreamy in the face need to worry about those kinds of things.” He glares at TaeHoon, “Why are you nodding so enthusiastically?” After scolding TaeHoon, SangJoon immediately jumps into the joke-telling, “So, have you heard the one about the apple, the peach and the pear riding on a truck?”
GaeIn is at the Dam Gallery working when her phone rings. She answers, “Yes, JinHo-sshi?” Without even a hello, JinHo starts in on his joke, “An apple, peach and pear are being carried on a truck. Suddenly a dog runs out of nowhere and forces the car to stop abruptly.” GaeIn is completely confused, but then realizes, “Ah! The humor thing!” JinHo asks, “What do you think fell?” She ventures, “The peach?” JinHo smiles smugly on his side of the call, “No. The thing that fell was—the speed!” GaeIn scrunches up her face in mock disgust and says flatly, “I’m hanging up.” After disconnecting the call, her phone in hand, she giggles at JinHo’s cute effort. Back on JinHo’s end, he stares at the dead line, “Hello? Park GaeIn-sshi?” He huffs in frustration. Through his glass office walls, he sees SangJoon and TaeHoon laughing hysterically with one another and his lip curls in annoyance.
The cell rings again, this time GaeIn is at the lumber yard looking for high quality wood for her children’s furniture. JinHo asks, “What’s the prettiest letter of the alphabet?” GaeIn throws the answer back, “A, B, C, D, E—yehpeugee*! Teacher, I do believe more effort is required on your part.” JinHo replies in the same formal tone, his more on the apologetic side, “Yes, I understand. I will call again later.” He hangs up and sighs, “How do you do this?” It seems SangJoon was right. Seems our gorgeous young man has never had to embarrass himself with a funny story in order to engage a pretty lady. He’s having a tough time finding a good joke for GaeIn.
*the letters F, G bares some sonic resemblance to the Korean word for being pretty
When the phone rings again, GaeIn immediately answers flirtingly, thinking it’s JinHo. But it isn’t JinHo, instead, it’s a bag of douche. ChangYul wants to meet up with her and after learning of her location, tells her he’s coming right away to pick her up (does this guy ever work!?). She doesn’t put up much of a resistance when he insists on coming to get her. When she hangs up, GaeIn notes to herself that ChangYul has called on the first day of her revenge. “Han ChangYul,” she murmurs, “you’re just digging your own grave.”
Her phone immediately rings again. It’s quite active today. This time it is JinHo. She answers, “This is getting to be a bit disappointing, teacher.” JinHo says he’s got a good one this time: “When an elderly woman suffers a paralytic stroke, her daughter sends a text message to the granddaughter. But there’s a typo. Can you guess what she actually sends?” GaeIn can’t. He tells her, “Grandma collapsed from passing wind.” GaeIn can’t hold in her laughter. JinHo hears her giggles through the phone, “That’s laughter, right?” Now that he’s shown her how the funny is done, it’s her turn to do her best. They’re both laughing and enjoying the moment. Unfortunately, GaeIn is standing by a large wall of piled lumber and a forklift accidentally jostles the stack. The wood comes crashing down on GaeIn and knocks her unconscious. Her phone falls from her hand. JinHo can hear the clatter on the other end but he doesn’t know what’s going on. “What happened? Park GaeIn-sshi?” There’s a large gash on her head and its oozing red. Not sure what happened but correctly assuming the worst, Jinho grabs his bag and runs out of the office in a tear, leaving SangJoon calling after him, “Hey, hey! Where are you going!?”
JinHo motors it to the hospital, only to find GaeIn alone, lying on a gurney with a bandage on her forehead. His worry and relief mingle into one long sigh. He takes a step toward her…when ChangYul walks back into the frame with a mug of water for GaeIn. Looking on the cozy scene between GaeIn and ChangYul, standing apart like an outsider while ChangYul is the man by her side, JinHo’s stunned expression tells us he’s finally recognizing some of his true feelings; realizing that his caring for GaeIn is more complicated than mere friendship. Well, his face and the swelling music reveals to us his emotional epiphany. The song is wailing that she’s his lady love.
JinHo steps up to the
JinHo brushes ChangYul’s hands off his jacket. He snaps, “I need to learn how to love women, is that all I have to do?” He sits back down next to GaeIn and gently, “Can you stand?” GaeIn is confused but allows herself to be pulled away by JinHo. ChangYul is furious, “What the hell are you doing, you jerk!?”
JinHo looks him straight in the face: “I’m about to start loving this woman. Stay out of our way.”
JinHo walks out of the emergency ward with GaeIn’s hand clutched in his, determination on his face. When he turns around, she’s looking at him with a confused look on her face. His confused and sad face is a mirror of hers…when the camera zooms out and away from his face, we realize none of it ever happened!
In reality, when JinHo turns back, his hand is holding empty air. What one wants to do isn’t always what one can do. Jinho tells himself, “You can’t interfere now, Jeon JinHo. You even trained her on this revenge.”
Back with the Revenge Couple, who have no idea that JinHo has come and gone, ChangYul is fussing over GaeIn’s wound. She snaps out angrily against his excessive attention, “It’s fine! This is nothing compared to the scar you already gave me, so stop pretending like you care.” ChangYul can’t believe she’s accusing him of being insincere. He tells her that he’s genuinely worried about her. How can she say such things after agreeing to see him again? She counters that she never agreed to see him again. He can’t believe it, so she’s just going to let him hang around her just to make him miserable? “You can’t even put up with that much?” she demands, so much for his claims that he’ll let her treat him any way she wants if it’ll appease her anger. She makes a good point and is finally calling him on his lying and his lip-service.
On their way out, ChangYul tells GaeIn that he is okay with it, he doesn’t care if she gets angry at him or ignores him or takes a long time to forgive him, as long as he can be with her. He only asks that she allow him to worry and care for her. Grudgingly, without an once of satisfaction, she says, “Where’s your car?” Happily, ChangYul runs off to fetch the car.
In the lobby, JinHo makes sure with the front desk that GaeIn hasn’t sustained any serious injuries before taking his leave. Stepping out of the hospital, the sun shining on his face, he murmurs firmly to himself, “This is as far as I can go.”
Note: this is the halfway point of Personal Taste. Even as I post this, the drama has aired its final episode but I have not finished watching the entirety of it yet. Chalk it up to lots of good dramas going on and too few hours in the week. Anyhow, I know the angst really starts to get going in episode 9 and the drama really takes flight. Since the forecasting of weather is an ongoing theme in this show, most notably showcased in this episode, I’d like to borrow from George R.R. Martin’s The Game of Thrones, an author who also employed many weather-inspired metaphors in the series, and quote, “Winter is coming.” I’m excited! Let the sobbing, weeping and angst-ing begin!