Boys Over Flowers: Episode 1

Originally published on High Yellow February 4, 2011, Written by CeeFu


You know, some things never get old. Like pimptastic, overindulged Korean privileged boys entering their high school backlight with a halo of light, as they stroll in in suits and ascots.  Oh, yeah, I guess I should say something about Jan Di first.

Yes, she’s plucky (kinda), I know as the audience we are supposed to side with her and her “positive” attitude.  But her habit of being ambivalent isn’t attractive.  F4 treats her badly, like they treat everyone badly in the beginning, but somehow that doesn’t make me like  her more. She’s all for the underdog, but do you see the way she screams at her parents? You know THAT ain’t going down in the average Korean household.

One thing I forgot is that Jan Di also declares war on F4, this is after she finds out they are affluent, and before the real abuse from Jun Pyo really starts. She’s no innocent. And I also forgot how the rest of F4 laughs at Jun Pyo. I think they know he’s got issues, and secretly want Jan Di to beat him down. I also remember thinking, “Jan Di is too trusting of people she shouldn’t trust, and can’t bring herself to trust the people she should.” She calls herself a loner, and so this must explain her utter inability to deal with people in a sane way.  Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Nolan Nabi, what you got?

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 2

Originally published on High Yellow February 9, 2011, Written by Nabi


SUCH a good episode! I noticed that they played SHINee’s musical contribution to the soundtrack a lot during this one (which I thoroughly approve of!), so much so that I may have to go and get it. “Whether I’m making you smile…”

Alright, let’s get to business. There’s a LOT in this episode that I liked, and believe it or not I think that this was a very “good” episode for Jun Pyo! Here’s why: the first thing that needs to be addressed is the issue of whether or not he told the “Locker Room Punks” to rape Jan Di, because that’s definitely what they were going for. To me, and my interpretation of his reprimand to them, he did NOT tell them to rape her specifically, but he absolutely wanted them to scare her very, very badly. Um, so since I’ve called them the Locker Room Punks….which locker room are they in, exactly? If it’s a women’s locker room, then what the heck is Ji Hoo doing in there? If it’s a men’s locker room, what’s Jan Di doing there? And I definitely don’t think that “co-ed” locker rooms exist in this high school (or any high school, for that matter).

Second thing to address is Jan Di’s Super Totally Awesome Roundhouse Kick TO THE FACE! Yes, I LOVED this part, both because it’s a definite wake-up call to Jun Pyo but it also means that Jan Di has some fire in her blood! I love that she PHYSICALLY fought back this time! Of course, this is in the beginning stages with the whole discourse of Jun Pyo thinking that, since women say the opposite of what they mean, she is totally in love with him. What that means, in Jun Pyo-speak, is that he’s finally realized that he likes her in some way, shape, or form, but since he can’t consciously realize this he’s letting his “affections” out in other ways. Like kidnapping her and dressing her up. Honestly, that’d really freak me out, too, as soon as I was awake from my chloroform-sleep I’d be running, fancy house be damned!

At first, I was unsure about the “bee attack” that followed Jan Di leaving his house, but I think I have it figured out: I think that little scene is showing what his actions and speech are like after he’s been embarrassed – he both hides his embarrassment behind arrogance and takes it out on the people around him who have “embarrassed” him. I think this is supposed to explain his more violent tendencies, and it’s echoed by Min (I can’t remember the rest of her name!!) at the end of this episode when she says it’s also because he’s lonely. Moving on, another moment of his that I loved was just before the bee attack, when he’s upset and throwing the clothes and shoes on the ground. As Almighty Key has shown us in SHINee’s Hello Baby, bribing people for love with gifts does. not. work. But Jun Pyo is SO UPSET that it didn’t work, that he decides to take his anger out on Jan Di’s shoes. It’s such a beautiful, awkward love moment – you show that shirt who’s boss! The last moment that really caught me for him was his attempt to comfort Jan Di after she gets smacked in the face with the volleyball. Really, I loved that entire scene, but specifically when he says “Don’t cry, it doesn’t suit you.” He LIKES her fiery attitude! He wants her to keep being feisty and spirited! Then she says “I would rather die in blood than be indebted to you” and the look on his face just about killed me. That’s really all I could hear in my thoughts during that moment: “Awwww, BUT LOOK AT THAT FACE! Jan Di, why are you so mean?!” I know why she’s so “mean” at this point, but, as you can tell, Jun Pyo is my man in this show.

Which brings us to Ji Hoo. Of course Ji Hoo would ride around on a cool motorbike and give Jan Di his HUMONGOUS sports shoes to wear, which she would then thoroughly scrub down. Of course. Um, remember back in episode 1 how I was saying that I couldn’t forget what Ji Hoo is like in the manga? I would like to quote, since it happens in this episode, emphasis added: “THEN HE RETREATED INTO AUTISM.” Yes, Ji Hoo is autistic. Or, since he’s so high functioning, has Asperger’s Sydrome. Which I think he still exhibits. Which is why he drives me CRAZY. But apparently he went even deeper into a more extreme autism when his parents died, and somehow Min was able to pull him out of it. Which I don’t think works, because autism definitely is NOT temporary, but then again who’s really taking the time to look into the medical details of Ji Hoo’s past? “She’s his first love, girlfriend, and mother.” Weird.

The last thing I’ll put on here is my Random Question/Observation of the Day: Why……..why is there a mirror directly beneath the showerhead while Jun Pyo is taking a shower after Rugby Practice (a.k.a. Anger Releasing Time)? It’s so weird, I think that’s the third time I’ve seen some show have a mirror in the shower, underneath the showerhead. Is this common in East Asia? Note that I’m totally not mad that it showed him showering. I can appreciate that.

Okay CeeFu, how’s that for my first official post?

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 3

Originally published on High Yellow on February 19, 2011, Written by CeeFu


Oh my! I think this episode does a lot for character development and interaction.

So, I love the interplay between Jun Pyo and Jan Di (I’m not totally against her….yet…she still has her moments). You can tell that when he calls her a punk and a gangster that it is done from a place of LOVE. He’s so cheeky, that Jun Pyo. He was completely enjoying getting his life saved!  Jan Di has a positive effect on him, he smiles much more, even if he still hasn’t gotten down the correct way to share his feelings of affection. Did you see how tickled he was when he put the ducks in the swimming pool? I thought he was going to fall out of his chair from cackling so much.  He clearly cares about her, but he also relates to her in a completely different way than Ji Hoo. He’s kinda real with his. He insults her, and she gives it right back to him. For some reason, I enjoy this back and forth. Whereas Jan Di’s interaction with Ji Hoo is weird (girl, get off your knees! you could have totally bandaged his finger standing up!)

Ji Hoo and his emotional state, now that’s a different story. I know you think I’m always on Ji Hoo’s side because of his fabulous wardrobe choices, but this time I think that while Ji Hoo is a man responsible for his own choices, I wonder if his association with Min isn’t entirely healthy. I know we briefly mentioned this last time, but I’m with Ji Hoo, “Exactly who are you to him?” Are you the motherly figure, are you a potential girlfriend? Have you been playing Ji Hoo all these years, feeding your own narcissism to have an incredibly rich and attractive man at your beck and call? Min can’t be all, I’m a little jealous of Jan Di, but then continue to STRING JI HOO ALONG!!!! Ji Hoo is a MAN, with MAN feelings, you gotta treat him like a man. So her own kind of vagueness doesn’t help. Is she dumping Ji Hoo on Jan Di? Is she now supposed to fulfill this mother/girlfriend freaky role for him? I’m not really buying that Min is all that torn up about leaving Ji Hoo. C’mon! You know how emotionally fragile that man is!

This is also the episode where I get more interested in the interplay among the boys. Jun Pyo clearly knows that Ji Hoo has a thing for Jan Di, even if Ji Ho doesn’t, so he’s taking every opportunity to throw his ‘relationship’ in his face.  Look, I’ve got my arm around Jan Di!  Look, Jan Di’s in my room!  Yet, they all rush over when there is an emergency, and that emergency is JUN PYO’S WITCH OF A MOTHER!!! You need to prepare yourself, there is a reason why they are all afraid of her. You know it’s bad when Yi Jung can barely pull of his charming wiles. SHE. IS. BAD. Although it tickles me that Jun Pyo refers to her as “the hag,” you notice he doesn’t do it to her face.  She is a piece of work. Even when things are rocky, they rally to each other’s side, and this is why the Boys become more interesting to me than Jan Di.

I also find the class dynamics getting more pronounced: Jan Di is a dry cleaner’s daughter with a ‘commoner’s pride.’ They talk about her like she’s an alien. And yet Jun Pyo is cool with crossing that class barrier.  Interesting.  I wonder if Jan Di’s inability to be feminine is supposed to be yet another marker of her class origins. Do you notice just how uncomfortable she is when they dress her up (and yes, I realize that it is problematic that she is getting dressed, Pygmalion-style, by these boys who try to transform her)? You would think Jan Di never wore a dress in her entire life. What, working-class girls have no femininity? In her drunken state, we do get some insight into her low self-esteem. She really doesn’t think she is smart, pretty or has any redeeming qualities whatsoever.  But I also think that she can be stubborn when it comes to her pride.

Jun Pyo, working on getting into Jan Di’s heart. Did you notice how closely she held those goggles? She just doesn’t know it yet….the problem is, even when she knows it, she will act the same way!

Thoughts?

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 4

Originally published on High Yellow on March 20, 2011, Written by Nabi


I have so much love for this episode! It’s packed full of treats and SO much happens. A lot happens in every episode, but I guess that’s what you get when you have episodes that are over an hour long.

Let’s talk about Frick and Frack first: THEY ARE SO THUGLIFE. I love that they ‘tried’ to protect Jan Di (via her friend, who I also loved because she didn’t fall for Frick’s overwhelmingly cute smile!) and then they went about trying to find who was reallyresponsible for the scandal pictures! I know that this was more for Jun Pyo’s sake, but still. At first I was confused as to why Frick was suddenly playing the saxophone and Frack was dancing with the ladies, but then when the scene flashed to a back alley where the club owner (?) was getting beat up, it all made sense – why dirty their hands punching him themselves? They’ll provide the distraction while their minions take care of the dirty work. This was a really great episode for them because they got some more face time!

SS501…I completely forgot that they were supposed to make a cameo in this series, and I’m so glad it was THIS episode! Of course it’d be Baby Joon who would point to Jan Di out of the crowd. I’m kind of sad that Jung Min couldn’t be a part of it (what was he doing at this time? I know it was something…) but I’m glad our other three boys were able to showcase ‘UR Man’ and look so darn good while doing it!

Jun Pyo: I love him. Is there really anything else I need to say about him? Well, yes, because I love talking about him. I felt SO BAD for him when he waited the entire time out in the cold for her, and I really felt sad for him when he came to school, looking great with straight hair (although the man may be the only Korean idol I’ve seen so far who can pull of really curly hair) and a nice school uniform, all dolled up for her, and then he sees the photos and jumps to conclusions – who wouldn’t? – and is just so angry and insulted. Can we also talk about how he went Edo Japan on us with the random demonstration of swordpractice? I’m thinking this episode may have been trying to appeal to a lot of different people: the Green Peas (for SS501), girls who love Edo period anything, and those who want the more musical side to come through (for Frick and Frack). He ended up throwing stuff again. Which I loved. Is that bad? He also looked. so. fine. Just about everything looked amazing on him. Oh no…am I turning into one of the F4′s fangirls?! But I don’t want to wear super short skirts and white knee highs and high heels!!!!

Jun Pyo: there were also a few moments that I did NOT love about him this episode. Mostly one recurring one – why do you always have to grab for the girls’ throats when you want to talk to them? ‘Cornering’ Jan Di against a car is one thing, at least that’ssexy, but grabbing at her tie to make her tell you the truth? Throwing her Fake Friend to the ground after grabbing HER throat? Do not like. This second part I don’t like mostly because he did have a lot of reasons to be upset with her, and he’s not one to hold himself back, but I think it could have hurt her a lot more if he had just straight up ignored her.

Fake Friend: I will say that at least in the TV series she made more sense. In the manga, she’s almost bipolar – at school she’s ridiculously sweet and ‘naive’ (like a unicorn threw up a rainbow kind of sweet), but at the club, which by the way is supposed to be one of those ‘practically a stripper club but anyone can come on stage and shake their stuff’ kind of clubs, she’s overly sexualizing herself while being a complete flirt to the guys and a venomous snake to the girls. At least in the series they toned that down a little bit, and I think future episodes should reveal more things about her. I did believe her when she was asking Jun Pyo “Why is Jan Di okay but not me?”, but we’ll get to that in later episodes.

I tend to like those self-searching questions, ‘Am I really that loathsome?’ and ‘Why is she okay but not me?’ mostly because they are such honest and realistic questions. It’s as if I’ve stumbled onto some recorded diary entry of these characters, and these questions make them suddenly very human. I mean, these are questions that any person who has had a crush can relate to, but they were said so realistically (yep! I’m claiming that they were NOT melodramatic, which is usually the case for TV shows) that for a second I almost feel like they’re real people, too. You know, not just amazingly attractive models who are acting these specific roles in a staged television series.

Jan Di: Believe it or not, although most of the time I really, REALLY do not like her, in this episode she redeemed herself (to me) because of her interactions with, you guessed it, Jun Pyo. They actually have a real tete-a-tete going on in this episode! I love that she took care of him while he was sick and they were stranded in the cable car (?), maybe this time their interactions are more significant though because she wasn’t drunk and could actually call him ‘stupid’ or ‘punk’ back!

Fun Observation (although there’s a lot more in this episode to unpack, I need to leave something for my unni to write about!): Just how did they set the bicycle on fire sofast?!

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 5

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?

NOPE!

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! :D