This drama keeps drawing me in with how it spins real world issues into a fantasy. When we break down mental illness into children’s terms, it’s easier to discuss it. Somehow we find it easier to be more forgiving and honest when we look at it from a juvenile level. Episode 2 is all about boundaries and the people who follow them rigidly, or don’t follow them at all.
We begin with Kang Tae telling Moon Young that she reminds him of someone he used to know, someone with cold eyes. She asks him if he was afraid and he said no, quite the opposite. Ah… the age-old truth of wanting someone who seems to not want anything to do with us. We see a memory of all the times he followed her faithfully around when they were children, and the cinematography is just perfect. Everything to do with her is colorful, even in the present day. It makes you notice that when they are together, everything around them is colorful and brilliant, and when they are apart it’s more subdued.
Push and Pull
She thinks he’s there to see her because he’s drawn to her; she has no clue that he just wants an autograph for his brother. I love how she’s all gooey and touchy and he’s stiff as a board. He’s not going to give in to her. Then the agent shows up and she finds out he wants an autograph and she’s got control again. This girl loves control. She manipulates him at every turn. He thinks everything is over when he declines the bribe from the agent, but it’s not. When he gets home and gives the book to Sang Tae, he discovers that she’s gotten to him again. She’s invited Sang Tae to a book signing. We all know there is no way that Sang Tae won’t go. Side note: I love the way she sees herself as a giant and she tries to just reach out and grab him to carry him off to her lair.
Friendship or Fate?
Kang Tae isn’t going to meet her on her level. He’s got a plan cooked up so that Sang Tae can go to the book signing. He’s gotten Jae Su to agree to go with Sang Tae. What a pal! The bromance between Jae Su and Kang Tae is adorable. I’m not sure what the backstory is between this little band of misfits, but I love them. You know who else is friends with Jae Su? Ju Ri. It’s obvious that he’s got a major crush and that she sees him as a friend. Jae Su has a little drinky drink with Ju Ri and he isn’t thinking about his plans for the next day. It’s ok to like and dislike Ju Ri. She helps Kang Tae get a job and find a place to live in their old hometown, and we all know she’s going to end up with Jae Su, right?
The Butterfly Did It
We discover that our brothers lost their mom when they were young. Sang Tae looks to be about 16 and Kang Tae about 13. She was found murdered in an overflow drain. Sang Tae witnessed what happened but due to his different abilities all he can say is that the Butterfly did it. As the authorities discuss splitting the brothers up, Kang Tae grabs his brother’s hand and they run away. It’s so sad to think about the lonely and nomadic life these two have led. While younger Kang Tae seemed resentful of his brother, the older version seems to see him in a different light. Yes, he is Sang Tae’s caretaker, but Sang Tae also takes care of him.
One Must Face One’s Trauma to Overcome It
As Kang Tae mulls whether or not to move back to their hometown, he researches OK Psychiatric Hospital. The head of the hospital is renowned for his work with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which grabs everyone’s attention. After all, just about all of our characters are suffering from some type of PTSD, so this hospital could be the place that helps everyone come to terms with their tragic pasts.
How To Ruin a Book Signing
Recipe for disaster: one passed out best friend, one bored author, one sexist pig book reviewer, one super excited dinosaur lover, one distracted brother, and a kid with a dinosaur outfit. Kang Tae ends up escorting his brother to the book signing when Jae Su won’t answer his phone. In the line, Sang Tae excitedly engages with the boy in a dinosaur suit, but his parents overreact, and the father attacks Sang Tae. Moon Young comes down from her throne like a BOSS and proceeds to tell the parents they need to apologize because they are ruining her book signing. Poor Sang Tae is scared and overwhelmed, while Kang Tae just looks at her in shock. The thing is, she’s not really considerate, she’s calculating. What’s in it for her? She wants Kang Tae. As they talk, she’s approached by the sexist pig book reviewer, who basically says he will give her a good review if she sleeps with him. PUKE! She proceeds to steal his pen and push him down the stairs.
Coping Mechanisms and Boundaries
As Sang Tae takes a time out to pull himself together, Kang Tae waits patiently with Moon Young. Kang Tae tries to teach Moon Young how to calm herself down, but she’s more interested in heating him up. He is so rigid and follows all the rules and she breaks all the rules. The interesting thing is that she sees his rejection of her as running away, and he is running away. He’s got enough on his plate with taking care of his little family. It’s too much to ask him to take on her issues too, or is it? She may have manic episodes, but she acknowledges her problems and is working to face them head-on. He spends a lot of time concealing his emotions, while she is wide out in the open. One of the recurring themes of this drama is how trauma shapes our lives, and I really feel like these characters are decent reflections of the fight or flight in all of us when faced with adversity. Some of us push through and some of us spiral into disaster, and rarely do we ever talk about it.
The Lady in the Red Shoes
This episode sets everyone on a course back to their hometown. Moon Young’s scandal at the bookstore sends her into hiding and what better place to hide than in a creaky old castle on a hill? Especially once she knows that her prey, er, Kang Tae, comes from the same place. The title of the episode reflects another Hans Christian Anderson story, “The Red Shoes.” In the story, the girl loves her shoes so much that she wears them to church (even though it’s inappropriate,) and while the red shoes on her feet she can’t stop dancing. Eventually her dancing feet and the red shoes are cut off. The little girl’s obsession with her red shoes is compared to Moon Young’s obsession with Kang Tae. He may be her downfall, but she still wants him.
Wow, this story is still pulling me in hard. I know that some of the ways Moon Young approaches Kang Tae can be off-putting to some people, but we are supposed to be uncomfortable. She is manipulative, she manipulates people before they can manipulate her. We are just barely starting to talk about mental illness and how some people we think are high functioning may just be barely holding on. Yes, I’m in this for the romance, the romance is awesome, sparks are flying! But, it’s interesting to see what happens we are pushed to our limits, and her turning the skeevy reporter’s threat into a threat of her own gave us some insight into who she is. We all have secrets, we all have issues, and her way of taking control of her own weakness may not have been healthy (and could have sent her to jail) but I’m here for her standing up for herself. You can’t will away trauma, you can’t wish it away, the only way to heal is to face it head-on.
Until the next story,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi