Originally published on High Yellow on June 4, 2011, Written by Nabi
I. Love. This. Episode.
I feel like I need to confess something first, before I start talking about the episode itself. For those of you who don’t know me (Nabi), there are two things that I like my male Korean idols to do: have pyrotechnics (read “fire”) in their K-Pop performances, and hit and/or throw things in their videos and dramas. My best explanation for why I love it when these things happen is that I consider them to be very manly things. If a dude gets angry, I expect him to hit or throw something. Hitting or throwing something at another person is a totally different thing, and is only approved of on a case-by-case basis. For example, punching a best friend who snuck around with your girlfriend behind your back is totally cool by me, but punching an old lady on the street for no good reason…not so much. And the fire thing, well, trust me I am NOT a pyro! I do not like to set things on fire, I just really enjoy when fire is present as a special effect.
Why is that important? Because my MAN Jun Pyo kicks some serious butt in this episode, and I LOVE IT. Jan Di is getting torn up by the school kids – some are throwing waterballoons, she’s already been jacked up from the bicycle accident they cause (oh, and her bike is still on fire), and some psycho with a fire extinguisher is using it on HER, instead of on the FIRE. They’re doing this because they think Jan Di went and cheated on Jun Pyo with some dude and now he must hate her, right?
You hear someone yell “SCREW OFF!” and in comes Jun Pyo. He starts throwing punches! He takes one kid’s waterballoon and smacks him in the head with it! He pushes a lot of people! AND HE HITS PSYCHO KID IN THE STOMACH WITH THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER!!!
It gets better.
He goes up to Jan Di, who at this point is semi-conscious on the ground, bleeding everywhere, feeling hopeless because her white knight (Ji Hoo) wasn’t there to save her this time and she certianly didn’t think that Jun Pyo would come back for her. He hugs her to him, tells her that he’s sorry, and lifts her up to carry her to safety. He tells her that he believes her when she says she’s innocent, and she starts to cry. He takes her to his house and helps clean her up, gives her some pajamas and a comfy bed, tends to her wounds some more, and gives her a kiss on the head as a “goodnight.”
I love Jun Pyo. But you already knew this, right? ^^;
So, on to the episode! This one really had two parts to it. Part One is all about the Frenemy, Min Ji. Min Ji is Jan Di’s “best friend” at Shinhwa Academy, and WAY back in Episode 1, she was the girl who accidentally dropped her ice cream on Jun Pyo’s shoe. In the last episode, she proved that she was a frenemy by setting Jan Di up with that Ji Hoo look-alike in the nightclub. In this episode, we get the background story forwhy she did what she did.
As it so happens, Min Ji went to kindergarten with the F4, and she had a huge, adorable, little-girl crush on Jun Pyo. In the flashback, you see her drawing in her sketchbook with crayons, and it’s a picture of her and Jun Pyo, holding hands. Little Jun Pyo decides to walk to the other side of the playground, and is suddenly stopped by his old nemesis: a bug. He starts ducking and jerking around saying “Go away!” and Little Min Ji runs over to him and uses her sketchbook to shoo the fiend away. She is SO EXCITED to be near him at this point because they are “alone” and she has her drawing clearly held up for him to see. His reaction? He throws the sketchbook on the ground, stomps on it (effectively stomping on her heart), pushes her so that she falls on the ground, and tells her that she’s dumb for thinking she could be with him (Remember, this is Rich Kid Kindergarten, so they are more than aware of their status and their duty to marry someone of equal status). IT’S JUN PYO. HE DOESN’T DO “FEELINGS”! His response to both his and others’ feelings is to squash them and run away. So, that’s what he does.
Little Min Ji cries and cries and cries. But there’s something I haven’t told you yet: she was “ugly” as a child. Here’s a picture of Lee Minho (aka Jun Pyo) with the girl who plays Little Min Ji:
I LOVE THIS PICTURE! Doesn’t it make you sad to think that this is what “ugly” means in K Drama Land?! So now it gets personal. It’s not just that Little Jun Pyo rejects Little Min Ji, but he tells her to her face that the reason why he doesn’t like her is because she is ugly. He even calls her an “ugly pumpkin.” Remember: Little boy with terrible communication skills.
Min Ji is a little girl with a tender heart that’s easily broken and thus becomes a breeding ground for bitterness and obsession. Which is exactly what happens. A few years later, she and her family move to Germany, and she begins a series of plastic surgery procedures, a few every 2 years, in order to become “beautiful” for Jun Pyo. As a girl from a rich family, her parents are often absent and her servants could probably care less about her. On top of that, she is in a foreign country surrounded by people she doesn’t know, and who don’t know her. AND, she’s undergoing slow transformation from plastic surgery, which means that she needs a LOT of recovery time. So what does she do while she’s in Germany? She sits in her room and thinks about that day when Jun Pyo crushed her heart. She sits and thinks about how she is “ugly” but soon she will be “beautiful” and then Jun Pyo will tell her that he likes her and everything will be perfect.
So, she comes back, enters into Shinhwa high school, and prepares for the day when she will see Jun Pyo and he will fall madly in love with her beauty. Except that her new (and only) friend, Jan Di, is being pursued by Jun Pyo! HOW UNFAIR! Min Ji stewed in hurt and insecurity for so many years, endured so much pain with plastic surgery, and had such strong dreams of a perfect fariytale ending for her Ugly Duckling story, that Jan Di suddenly became a roadblock in her otherwise perfect plan. Thus, she had to be removed from Jun Pyo’s life. All those years of bitterness and pain made Min Ji a bitter and scheming sort of girl, so that’s why she arranged such an elaborate attack on Jan Di’s integrity, instead of just, you know, TALKING TO HER FRIEND AND TELLING HER WHAT’S GOING ON! Jeez.
I really wanted to explain all of that because, at least to me, this is a complex, incredibly human situation. Personal story time! I was a dumpy kid for most of my childhood, and I was always the tallest and often one of the heaviest kid in my class until about 9th grade (that part was not my fault, boys grow so slowly and I LOVED to brag about how I was taller than they were). So there’s that issue that I can personally relate to. On top of that, though, MY heart was stomped on by a kid in my 2nd grade class. Bottom line: if you have a tender heart, do not give a 2nd grade boy a love letter, because he will read it out loud to the class, and everyone will laugh at you. Yes, this actually happened to me. And people wonder why I don’t date…
Back to the episode. Min Ji gets to confront Jun Pyo when Thuglife (Frick and Frack) take her to his house to explain why she faked the photos of Jan Di. Min Ji asks Jun Pyo, “Am I beautiful, now?” Again, another human question! She starts to cry and scream “Say that you like me! Say you like Min Ji! Say it!” That’s all she’s wanted her entire life. Everything has been filled with pain and bitterness since that day, and she’s become obsessed with getting closure on it by finally getting some sort of acknowledgment from Jun Pyo! Now, Jun Pyo is MY MAN, and I love him a lot, but his reaction to her is simply cruel. He tells her that he doesn’t remember that incident, but that he’s sorry it caused her so much pain that she felt like she had to change so dramatically. He does one final slap in the face by saying that at least when she was little she had a beautiful heart and soul, and leaves her crying on his expensive marble floor, empty, broken, and alone.
The next day, Thuglife have put up Min Ji’s before and after photos and spread the story around school (I think they did that, at least, I’m not totally sure because you know that Thuglife doesn’t leave traces of their handiwork). All the students become Jan Di’s best friend…again…and show her the pictures flashing on the plasma screen in the cafeteria. They start to make snide comments about Min Ji and how ugly she was and how mean she was to poor Jan Di. Uh, hello? Wasn’t it just YESTERDAY that you torched her bike and sent her crashing? Min Ji walks into the cafeteria just as one of the girls says “If I was that ugly, I would have committed suicide a long time ago!”
And this is when I love Jan Di. Jan Di doesn’t know that Min Ji is there, so this is completely on her own. Jan Di steps in front of the plasma screen and blocks the pictures. Then she says that everyone in that room has probably had plastic surgery, and that they had plastic surgery when they didn’t need it simply because they wanted to become even MORE beautiful than they already were. “So,” Jan Di asks them, “is it really so horrible that an ugly person uses plastic surgery to become beautiful, too?” LOVE THIS. Jan Di has just defended Min Ji from all of the Plastics when she would have been well within her rights to let her be slandered. Jan Di starts to walk away from the cafeteria and sees Min Ji. Get ready for some more Jan Di love. This is how the scene goes:
Min Ji: I won’t beg you for forgiveness…
Jan Di: *SLAPS HER IN THE FACE, not too hard, though.*
Min Ji: *recovers* and I won’t apologize to you.
Jan Di: *SLAPS HER IN THE FACE, HARD.* I will never forgive you for what you have done.
I LOVED THIS MOMENT! I loved it because while she defended Min Ji from the Plastics, she also didn’t go all love-and-peace-and-sparkles-and-butterflies and completely forgive her for everything she’s done. Min Ji has ruined their friendship, and Jan Di will not ignore that fact. Everything ends with Min Ji leaving a stuffed lamb on Jan Di’s desk, with a message in it about how she was thankful to have her as a friend, that she really liked her, and sings a child-like friendship song. You can tell in Min Ji’s recording that she’s crying, and Jan Di begins to cry too. What this means to me is that their friendship was real and important for both of them, and both of them are going to mourn what they have lost. Hasn’t everyone experienced this kind of sadness?! So many of the moments are just so real in this K Drama! That part, at least, I prefer over the manga – this stuff is believable because it is done in a real way. Mostly.
I know, I know, this post is super long and I haven’t even gotten to PART TWO. Calm down. I’m going to leave Part Two to CeeFu. While I have many, many, MANY things in Part Two that I love (LIKE THE ENDING! Yes, I’d like some of THAT for MY main course, thank you very much!!!!) I wanted to write about Part One because it was so personal for me to watch. So far, I’m totally digging this K Drama! It’s my first one, by the way, and I just may become addicted if there are more out there like this one!