Saturday, December 17, 2011

thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (Korean) -- the end is near

This article contains spoilers, but mostly opinions. Proceed with caution.

How many fangirls are currently in total envy right now?
I know I am; what I would totally give to be in Eun Bi's position...

I guess in keeping with my sudden recent streak of a two-episode discussion blogging, here is one for Episodes Thirteen and Fourteen. We are approaching our last two episodes in the coming week and it didn't even hit me until someone else mentioned it somewhere else online. I think I was still caught up in all the new twists and turns as well as the chaotic mess that was Episodes Thirteen and Fourteen.

Yes, the last two episodes really DID seem, to me, like it got a little messy; almost felt like we're trying to stuff the rest of the plot devices' details into the series before it ends. However, that doesn't mean that they weren't good and I actually really enjoyed Episode Fourteen's Makjang vs. Soonjung play on typical K-drama cliches. In girlfriday's ending comments of the Episode Fourteen recap at Dramabeans, she states: "The drama is basically saying - we know it's makjang to have them be half-brothers, but we're not going to let it BE makjang because we're going to do the opposite of every drama ever. We're going to make fun of it, and have them be cool about it [...]" (girlfriday also gives a short definition of the terms 'makjang' and 'soonjung' in her ending comments as well.)

Fairly self-explanatory, no? And being a K-drama newbie, I probably wouldn't have been able to make a better statement concerning Episode Fourteen. However, the concept doesn't escape me, because the scene in which everyone in the entire Ramyun Shop household finds out the dreaded birth secret, it was pretty darn funny.

Ba Wool's look is priceless here.  This is why I love you kid!

Eun Bi parades out of her room to make the inquiry about what Kang Hyuk and Daddy Cha could possibly be talking about so that she can piece the information together. And then Chi Soo comes sauntering out of Eun Bi's room to Daddy Cha's surprise (who immediately drops the more important discussion at hand to be worried about why Chi Soo is here) and simply states that he and Eun Bi were sleeping together like it's the most obvious answer. And then Ba Wool comes out into the living room to make all the wrong connections about the Chi Soo and Kang Hyuk birth secret, somehow ending up pitting Kang Hyuk as Chi Soo's real father. Then, finally, Hyun Woo pops his head into the scene to more properly make all the connections, pitting Chi Soo and Kang Hyuk as half-brothers by different fathers and the same mother. All the while, Kang Hyuk and Chi Soo both give troubled looks of struggle a la most drama series where birth secrets are dealt into the open.

Oh! So much horror and shock and sorrow...

And what does Daddy Cha have to say about all of this?

"Are there any more kids that are going to pop out? Is everyone out?"

Ahem. Priorities, Daddy Cha. We have a much more serious conversation at hand right now. And Mr. Pillar-ssi, Sir: Did you really think the house was the best place for a private discussion about birth secrets? Especially since you tore down Eun Bi's door AND she's rather loud in her speech?

Man, I don't think I've ever found an entire set of characters in one series so amusing and so fun to follow. I don't even know when the last time was that I laughed so much within the first ten minutes of a drama series episode, but this one scene really got my tickles in order. All the supporting characters of this series contribute to the crack-tastic enjoyment of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop from Dong Joo and Coach's budding romance to all the side characters who appear for mere seconds and even Yoon So Yi (of whom I am thoroughly enjoying her infuriated "Why is Ba Wool ignoring my calls?" moments right now). Daddy Cha has been nothing but adorably misguided, even at his age, with his jealousies towards Pororo and his beyond pampering of his only son. His use of food to describe why he and Chi Soo's mother couldn't stay together, coinciding with why Chi Soo and Eun Bi aren't meant to be is interestingly laced with wisdom, even if it DOES sound sort of illogical. I think I know where Chi Soo picked up his use of detailed physical descriptions for all of his emotions (from anger, to longing, to love, to jealousy and etc...).

Back-tracking a little to Episode Thirteen, the only thing I want to say about it is that it sort of threw us into a fast-forward frenzy. And I'm not saying that I hit the fast-forward button while watching this; on the contrary, I wish I could have slowed the episode down just a notch because it felt really rushed in its pacing. However, thinking back on it, for that particular episode, it worked. I can't exactly pin point why I think it worked, but I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the short new plot device of "Yang Fatale" as well as the Cha Chi Soo oriented development phase.

While the Yang Fatale phase really only lasted for about ten minutes, it at least got use transitioning through Eun Bi's emotions so that we could figure out, finally, where her heart lies. Granted, it wasn't really a big secret that she's more drawn towards Chi Soo than she is towards Kang Hyuk, but I think this was the abrupt device needed for Eun Bi to realize the situation for herself. She's not completely immune to Kang Hyuk's charms and knows that he would be the better option between the two boys, but that doesn't mean that your heart will always follow logic. Living as Yang Eun Bi, she's NOT supposed to be like any other normal girl and take the safe route; as Ba Wool had told her, Yang Eun Bi is strong and should be Yang Eun Bi and DO what Yang Eun Bi DOES. In other words, follow her heart and apparently, her heart is wrapped around Cha Chi Soo, no matter how much she wants to deny it (in fact, psychologically speaking, I think denying it actually makes it harder to stop thinking about it, thus further boiling those feelings out).

As for the rest of the episode, this was totally a Cha Chi Soo/Jung Il Woo dominated 45 minutes. By the end, I really didn't care about anything else that had been going on. The short term Yang Fatale game was just a side dish compared to Chi Soo's process of growth in this one episode alone. I loved all the other small pieces that made up the whole, but none of that mattered to me anymore. Ba Wool and Hyun Woo's cute little bromance bickering, the childish "she's got a date with me" tug-of-war game, the revealing of the birth secret to Chi Soo... all wonderful plot points, but so pale in comparison.

I was pretty much floored by Jung Il Woo's constantly changing of moods and expressions in this one episode (so much more so than all the other episodes). EVERYTHING in this episode relied on Jung Il Woo's presentation to set the mood. He had his arrogant claims against Kang Hyuk that he would win the girl because of his wealth -- that made me irritated with him and Jung Il Woo played it off so well. He had his honest, yet sorrowful inquiries about "Why Mom left?" which transitioned into his sad, yet earnest offering to take care of Eun Bi with his money -- this left me feeling sad for him. And then he moved into the final serious realization that he is completely crazy about Eun Bi and wouldn't be able to stop seeing her -- I clutched my heart and swooned about it. All at the same time, there were comedic cuts interspersed here and there, which set the mood to "smirk and chuckle" just as easily as it was set to "quiet fascination and sympathy."

I just... Wow!

Jung Il Woo, how is it possible that you can have me rolling my eyes at you in frustration one moment, irritated by your lack of insight, and then promptly end up giving a short pang of sadness and sympathy just because Chi Soo is just so honest in his "money can offer you a better living condition" proclamation? And then within the same time frame, you bring about excitement upon that nightly visit to Eun Bi, which immediately lead to some comedic stunts (I love his change in expression when Eun Bi thinks he's Kang Hyuk), finally tapering off with a swoon-worthy confession that left me melting in my chair. I also totally laughed out loud when he pulls out his phone to show Eun Bi his online inquiry about whether or not lions eat grass since the issue had been that Chi Soo and his father were both being prodded with the phrase: "Stop trying to be a lion who wants to eat grass." Because apparently it's common knowledge that lions DON'T eat grass and the metaphor was so symbolic until Chi Soo proves Eun Bi wrong by actually finding proof from netizens that lions DO eat grass sometimes.

I'm not sure what to say to that, but the Chi Soo's simple logic kills me sometimes.

How do you do it? How are you THIS great? HOW?

Whereas upon the beginning of Episode Thirteen I started to falter and jump back onto Kang Hyuk's boat, it was like there was some sort of tug keeping me with Chi Soo. And so here we are, remaining on Chi Soo's ship. For others, I understand that Kang Hyuk is the better choice because he's stable and he's a good man compared to Chi Soo's immaturity and silly arrogance. But there is just something so chaotically adorable about Chi Soo's silliness that really draws all noonas into a yearning sigh. I'm not saying that I'd like to take care of a spoiled brat like him, but for swoon-worthy purposes in viewing drama series, he's pretty darn awesome.

On a side note, due to K-dramas lately, I've been growing a liking for cute younger men. Is it the aging thing? Am I just wanting a reason to experience youth once again? I don't know. I mean, Kang Hyuk is hot and reliable and so, so good! And in the past, I probably would have totally shipped Kang Hyuk from beginning until end and then sighed the frustration when or if Eun Bi chooses Chi Soo instead. I like the nice guy more than I like the bad guy -- but lately, for me, being the nice guy sometimes just DOESN'T cut it.

I know. I'm strange.

On the subject of Chi Soo's misguided ideals, it's only sad because we can tell, from Chi Soo's words as well as Jung Il Woo's expression, that Chi Soo isn't using money as an arrogant ploy to make Eun Bi feel bad; he's merely looking at this in a practical sense. It only makes sense that moving into a nice hotel room would be more comfortable than sleeping on the floor of a tiny bedroom. It only makes sense that having more money allows one to provide more and better for another (isn't this why we all work our butts off just to make more money regularly?). However, being young and raised on money, the poor boy simply ended up trampling all over the hard-working lower middle class' dignity by flinging money at Eun Bi.

His heart is in the right place, but his tactless approach and lack of insight really doesn't help his case. The boy has yet to realize that real life just doesn't work the way he's been raised to believe; that money doesn't solve every situation and Eun Bi has enough pride in her not to accept becoming a Cinderella and relying on inherited wealth to live the rest of her life. And I think this is what makes Chi Soo such a great foil to his own charms; the boy makes for a great antagonist to himself by doing the little things that the main lead WOULD do to win over his girl, but also by digging his own little holes to screw himself over.

I think that the one thing redeeming him is that he's at least trying to push forward and outside of his usual bubble. He's the one claiming that he would rather Eun Bi step into his world and leave her own. But by the end of the episode, he has shown up to sleep on the floor with Eun Bi in her tiny bedroom. Chi Soo has already made little steps outside of his protective second-generation chaebol bubble by even joining the Ramyun Shop as a part-time employee (what rich brat would actually go work at a little shop if he didn't have to?). So Chi Soo has already been giving little pushes here and there, even if he doesn't realize it.

I hope that the incident regarding his parents will ring as a warning to him and Eun Bi's relationship. Daddy Cha was in an "all or nothing" scenario which drove Chi Soo's mother away who couldn't stand to be suffocated with a chaebol's definition of lifestyle. Chi Soo started off with the need for Eun Bi to join him in "his world" because he couldn't survive in "her world." So hopefully he's picked up on the mistake that Daddy Cha made with his own love line and won't repeat history.

With Daddy Cha's chaebol meddling coming into play now, I'm starting to worry for this series' ending wrap up. With only two episodes left, I'm praying to any higher being out there that we don't end up deflating. With the direction that Flower Boy Ramyun Shop has been taking since the beginning, NOTHING has been typical rom-com trope and those things that DID come up were twisted in suprising ways to make the series more enjoyable than typical rom-com plot devices. And they didn't really last long either, getting resolved almost immediately to move onto more important plot progression.

Having invested so much time and thought into this series (much more so than any other series I've watched so far as determined by how many discussion articles I've already written) I can only hope that nothing ends up going wrong at the end. With the scent of a Noble Idiocy temptation tugging at the end of Episode Fourteen, I'm hoping that Chi Soo's non-standard reactions to all situations will keep this series in good fashion.

As for Episode Fourteen, this one just didn't strike much of a chord with me outside of the Makjang vs. Soonjung implications. I know that this episode was more of a Kang Hyuk-centric one wherein he finally voices his desire to be seen as a man by Eun Bi rather than a protective guardian. He also shoulders a little conflict in terms of Daddy Cha's chaebol meddling. However, none of that really did it for me like the previous episode did with Chi Soo's many emotions and expressions dominating screen time.

I feel bad for Kang Hyuk that we get an official stamp on how Eun Bi is more drawn towards Chi Soo. It's not fair to him because, throughout this episode, he's spent time being the better man versus the immature brat. But as some netizens have stated before, there is no way to measure how much someone deserves to be with someone else more than their love rival. Love isn't calculated that way and feelings don't just develop just because someone else might be a better option than another.

For Eun Bi, the moment she started off attracted to Chi Soo, I'm sure that those feelings were still lingering, even AFTER learning that he's a nineteen year old brat. Why does she like Chi Soo more than Kang Hyuk? I don't think that's a question that anyone would ever be able to answer besides Eun Bi herself. Because you can't help who you fall for and we can't control how the writer determines the end result. Who knows, maybe by the last episode, things will turn out differently than we all expected.

I'm rooting for Chi Soo, but even if Eun Bi chooses Kang Hyuk in the end (or no one) I don't think I'll really be too upset. This entire series has focused a LOT on the growth of both Eun Bi and Chi Soo as people and they've been slowly developing, especially Chi Soo.

And so finally, here's to the Choi Kang Hyuk fans out there:

This post has been so Jung Il Woo/Cha Chi Soo -centric that I couldn't find a place to insert more proper pictures of our Pillar-ssi. But this shot of him is just so hot that I NEEDED to find a reason to include it, even if it meant openly declaring that I need a reason to include it just to include it. So there it is. Enjoy!


Bickering bromance: The new love story of modern times.

Related articles:
first impression: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- mid-series
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- episodes 9 and 10
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- shipper status update
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- finale on the horizon
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- the final showdown (sort of)


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