Sunday, December 25, 2011

K-Drama Review: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Ep 11-12

Read episode reviews for:

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 1-2
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 3-4
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 5-6
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 7-8
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 9-10
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 13-14
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for episodes 11-12

Good grief. Way to make your audience want to cheer and cry at the same time, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop! As Episode 11 opens, Eun-Bi and Chi-Soo are finally getting their big epic kiss (yay!), but Kang-Hyuk sees it and is heartbroken (*sniffle*), and after he had just bought Eun-Bi a cute little present he saw her admiring, he gets abandoned at the movie theater. We just can't have any victories without also getting a punch to the gut, can we? The only thing that makes this more bearable is the fact that we know nothing about Kang-Hyuk or the depth of his thoughts or feelings--he's mainly in the show to be a complication, but he's still so sweet it's hard not to feel his (assumed) pain.

But all isn't settled. Chi-Soo still hasn't gained a full measure of emotional maturity and doesn't really know what to do with Eun-Bi, and he still isn't a kind or thoughtful person so he ends up insulting her instead of winning her over. Eun-Bi goes back to Kang-Hyuk who acts like he didn't see anything and steps up to be a very mature love interest. It only gets more complicated from there on, but rather than fighting Chi-Soo, Kang-Hyuk becomes his mentor. And Chi-Soo's dad still wants to buy out the ramyun shop, so their very "home" is under a bit of a threat, which leads everyone to ask themselves some important questions about how devoted they are to the life they've built.

Plus, there are epic 5-person Rock Paper Scissors battles, and whole scenes of the entire cast awkwardly making kimchi together. This show is made of win.

Things I Loved:

1. Chi-Soo delivering a long deprecating speech to Eun-Bi in a loving tone, then concluding his flurry of criticism with the line, "So, please stay by my side. Until I regain my senses." Horrible. Hilarious. Hilarrible. It's like the Pride and Prejudice insult/proposal scene all over again. But for all his meanness, the guy is blinking back tears when she walks away. You don't know whether to slap him or hug him.

I Am Just Like Mr. Darcy, Only More Insulting.

2. So-Yi showing that she really does care about Ba-Wool. The girl's heart is not made of stone!

Snow White Swan Princess Lily Flower Has Feelings!

3. Kang-Hyuk. Just...Kang-Hyuk. When Eun-Bi apologizes for leaving him behind, he just says "I'm thankful you came back to me". And he's this kind-hearted to everyone; he almost views Chi-Soo like a son and he worries about his welfare.

At Left: Chivalrous and Noble. Almost Tragically So.

4. The guys all humiliating Eun-Bi when she tries to explain to some neighbors why they're all living in the same house. Hyunwoo, Ba-Wool, Kang-Hyuk, and Chi-Soo respectively walk up and call Eun-Bi "Teacher, Noona, Wife, and Honey".

We're All One Big, Happy WEIRD Family

5. Chi-Soo and Eun-Bi's Big Epic Hug. It's actually better than the Big Epic Kiss from episode 10, because that was just a moment of passion--the hug is the very first example of Chi-Soo becoming a real human being and trying to love and comfort another person.

Pinocchio, You Have Now Become a Real Boy.

Complaints: 1. The Big Reveal about Chi-Soo's mom. Really? Did we have to do that? Isn't the story dramatic enough without getting ridiculous? Whyyyyy? And I think it takes away a little bit from Kang-Hyuk's awesome sweetness by giving him too clear a motivation for his actions.


Creating a Home/Family: Kang-Hyuk insists to Chi-Soo's dad that the ramyun shop is more of a home than a business. He says that his employees find the comfort of a home in this place, which absolutely seems true when you think of the family structure Kang-Hyuk provides for Ba-Wool, Hyunwoo, and even Chi-Soo. Everyone in the ramyun shop is missing one or more of their parents--Kang-Hyuk has no parents, Chi-So has no mother, while Eun-Bi's father is dead and Hyunwoo's father is missing, and Ba-Wool is a runaway. And yet they all take comfort in being together and forming their own home at the shop. Kang-Hyuk outright says that everyone at the restaurant is like his child and he'll continue to protect them as such. AWWW.

Romantic Competition: To Kang-Hyuk, not competing for Eun-Bi's affections shows his care for her and for Chi-Soo. To Eun-Bi, his not competing signals his indifference. Chi-Soo thinks he has won the competition regardless of what is happening at any given time.

Food as a reflection of identity/economic status: Chi-Soo says that since he can't eat ramyun (become a poor, lowly person), he'll turn Eun-Bi into someone fitting for him and make her eat caviar. He then proceeds to take her out for caviar, but she doesn't really like it. Eun-Bi uses food as a metaphor for her love life when she says that she's to old to want a quick romance that is easily replaceable (cup ramyun), but she'd like a solid committed love (ramyun cooked at home by an individual). She says Chi-Soo doesn't even know how to cook ramyun, which Chi-Soo takes in a literal way and decides to become a decent ramyun chef. Is there anything this guy does not take literally?

Mirrored scenes: Ba-Wool explains to So-Yi that Eun-Bi is his beloved noona (older sister/friend) in the exact same terms that So-Yi explained her oppa (older brother/friend) to him in a previous episode. In both instances, there is jealousy over the oppa/noona being mentioned.

Ba-Wool and Hyunwoo have a surprisingly deep conversation in the ramyun shop kitchen, while Ba-Wool brandishes a giant leafy onion. Next, Chi-Soo and Kang-Hyuk have a big convo in the kitchen, with Kang-Hyuk holding the onion.

Chi-Soo's dad asks Kang-Hyuk to fire Chi-Soo, and later asks Eun-Bi to rebuff Chi-Soo's romantic attentions.

Cultural Observances:

Love Confessions: I used to read a lot of manga/manhwa, so I was already familiar with the Asian pop culture trope called the "love confession", which is often referenced in FBRS. In American media, of course we do have plenty of scenes where a character confesses their love or admits "I like you" and so on, but these scenes don't quite seem to have the same impact and weight that they do in Japanese or Korean love stories. It's hard to say what the difference between the two types of revelations really is, but the fact that they call it a confession in Asian media certainly reflects the seriousness of admitting their feelings out loud. It really is like a proposal of marriage, but in miniature.

Wedding Preparations: Dongjoo says that when a person gets married, they're supposed to buy new outfits for their parents. First time I've heard of that custom.

Boy bands: Eun-Bi tries to have a discussion with Chi-Soo about the 90's boy band Shinhwa, but they're before his time.

New words: "Geokjeongma" means "Don't worry", which Chi-Soo tells his dad. "Banhae" is to fall for someone or to become infatuated.

English Bonus:

English language music: As Chi-Soo insults Eun-Bi, a wistful song called "Your Eyes" talks about feeling "lost in a crowded room". This song has a neat and weird international bonus: it's from a 1982 French film called La Boum (The Party) 2, but it is sung by British new wave group Cook da Books. Later, "You Are My Destiny" by Paul Anka plays. Where do the K-drama soundtrack people even find this stuff?

Random English words: Kang-Hyuk says that he and Eun-Bi are no "Romeo" and "Juliet". Thank goodness--that means this show won't end in a double suicide. Chi-Soo and Eun-Bi say "caviar", which I wrote down as an English word, but it's actually French. *facepalm* Kang-Hyuk tells his boys to "sit down" and eat. Chi-Soo says "Got it?"

Episode Evaluations: When I can compare anything to Pride and Prejudice, it's a good sign. And it's so, so, so funny!

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