Monday, December 26, 2011

K-Drama Review: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Ep 13-14

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 11-12
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for episodes 13-14

Kang-Hyuk has finally admitted to Chi-Soo they are secretly half brothers with the same mother, due to a complex plot twist involving remarriage, terminal illness, and moving to and from Japan and back again. (Hey, I don't write this stuff, I just review it.) Now the complex character interaction is even more complex-ier. Chi-Soo and Kang-Hyuk are bonding in an odd sort of way, but they're still romantic rivals and Chi-Soo thinks Kang-Hyuk is out for money. Chi-Soo rains down insults, Kang-Hyuk starts removing doors from their hinges, Eun-Bi can't make a decision between other words, the competition is so on.

But Chi-Soo's dad is very concerned about his son's ongoing involvement with Eun-Bi and with the ramyun shop. Chi-Soo is a prince and his dad doesn't want him to risk hurting himself by hanging out in a world where he doesn't belong. When Chi-Soo insists on spending all his time with Eun-Bi (and he also seems to secretly enjoy spending time with his half-brother), his dad pulls out all the stops to ensure that Chi-Soo will climb back up to his ritzy hotel home and never go slumming again. The guys in the series have to make really big decisions because Kang-Hyuk has to choose between being a good brother and being a good potential match for Eun-Bi and Chi-Soo has to decide whether leading a happy life is worth doing without all the frou-frou of his dad's world.

Also...Kang-Hyuk is no longer comic relief. He's part of some funny scenes, but he's nearly 100% serious, which is just amazing.

Things I Loved: 1. Ba-Wool. His overprotective baby brother act is so endearing, and while he used to get fighting mad over his girlfriend So-Yi, now he's more likely to get fussy when people mess with his favorite "big sister" Eun-Bi. And his hand drawn flowchart of the Cha family's insane backstory is priceless.

Plus, His Hair Comes Right Out of "Grease" the Musical.

2. The Meta-Speak and Genre Awareness. Eun-Bi talks a lot about how unpleasant it is to be involved in a love triangle. Chi-Soo asks Kang-Hyuk, "Have you never watched K-dramas? The girl always ends up with the bad boy who has money", meaning himself. Kang-Hyuk and a friend joke about being secret relatives, which plays into him being actual secret relatives with Chi-Soo. The local ajummas (middle-aged women) say that Eun-Bi's life looks like a TV drama, then they mention several silly tropes that she is living out on a daily basis.

Also, when Eun-Bi worries about her love life, Dongjoo continually reminds her to "Just enjoy it!" which feels like the show's writers telling the audience not to flip out too much over this love triangle--just have fun with the show and don't get too angry with any of the characters. It's all done in fun. No hearts were broken in the filming of this drama.

Especially Not So-Yi's--Though She's Getting There

3. Eun-Bi's makeover for the dates. She looks so smooth and classy, and I think the audience appreciates it more because she hasn't shied away from looking grungy, athletic, bookish, or casual--now that she gets to look sophisticated, it feels like she earned the right. Eun-Bi is a knockout!

As GD and TOP Would Say, Aju Ppeogigayo.

4. Chi-Soo's unfathomably literal thought processes. Eun-Bi tells Chi-Soo that he shouldn't date her because he's like a lion, she's like grass, and lions can't eat grass. He is stricken for awhile, but then he shows up at her house in the middle of the night to let her know that a websearch reveals that actually, lions CAN eat grass. Ha! This guy simply cannot comprehend wordplay or figures of speech, not even in his native language. It's terribly cute.

My Internets Have Proven You Wrong, Milady.

Complaints: 1. That crushed water bottle prop is overplayed. Chi-Soo dramatically crushes his empty water bottle to make a point, then Kang-Hyuk grabs and reinflates it, then Chi-Soo yanks it back and crushes it again! Poor water bottle can't catch a break.

2. Not enough nice things happen to Kang-Hyuk to compensate for the bad things. He needs comfort!

Someone Give This Man Some Chocolate and a Snuggie.


Using the wrong name: Whoa, this one really comes around full circle. Kang-Hyuk always called Chi-Soo by the wrong surname, but now it seems like it was his way of focusing on Chi-Soo as a person and not as someone who had a different father and came from a different family; the Cha family instead of Choi. Also, Chi-Soo used to call Kang-Hyuk the Japanese word for "onion", and now it turns out that Kang-Hyuk spent a large portion of his life in Japan and his dad was Japanese. (But then why is his surname Choi, like his mother's?)

Family ties: Chi-Soo and Kang-Hyuk's mother becomes a kind of stand-in for Eun-Bi, with Kang-Hyuk saying that no one in the Cha family knows how to truly love and care for a woman, because Chi-Soo's dad did a poor job of taking care of their mother. As it turns out, everything comes down to family experience, even tiny little details: Kang-Hyuk always loved Eun-Bi's strength and I thought he was just a progressive sort of dude. Actually, he's attracted to strong, healthy women because his own mother was sickly and died fairly young. And Chi-Soo's seemingly random hatred of women who cry in front of him dates back to his childhood, when he heard his mother crying every single night. Yikes.

Mirrored scenes: Both Ba-Wool and Dongjoo ask Eun-Bi "Are you bragging right now?"

Dongjoo and Coach have to keep ducking and hiding from Eun-Bi, since they're secretly dating and don't want her to know. They wonder aloud if she's on some tour of Seoul, with the way they keep running into her.

Kang-Hyuk always seems to be waiting in the same place for Eun-Bi when she walks home.

Chi-Soo's dad gives him the same speech as Eun-Bi about lions not eating grass.

Cultural Observances:

Inter-cultural dating taboos: Before Eun-Bi, Kang-Hyuk has only ever dated Japanese women because his father was treated badly for marrying a Korean woman instead of someone from his own country. I'm guessing that the stigma isn't so bad anymore, but Korea and Japan have a long and tense history.

Skinship: I think this word is a portmanteau of skin+kinship, and it means showing your closeness through touching. It's a little bit like the English term "PDA"(public display of affection), but it doesn't always have to be romantic and can mean just hugging your friends. Kang-Hyuk says that skinship with Eun-Bi is off-limits for Chi-Soo while they're both trying to win her heart. I guess he figures that Chi-Soo has an unfair advantage in this area, which he does.

K-Pop: During the Cha ramyun shop opening, "Gee" by SNSD (Girls' Generation) plays. Coach hears the music and asks if Girls' Generation is at the event.

New words: "Animyeon" is "either" or "or". "Moksori" is "voice", which Eun-Bi says wen she recognizes Chi-Soo's dad's vocie.

English Bonus:

Random words: Ba-Wool says "no problem", but pronounces it with like 5 extra syllables.

Episode Evaluations: Great character development for everyone, all around. I'm sad that there are only two episodes left.

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