Tuesday, July 31, 2012

K-Drama Review: Princess Hours/Goong, Episodes 13-14

Read Episode reviews for:

Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 1-2
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 3-4
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 5-6
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 7-8
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 9-10
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 11-12
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 13-14
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 15-16
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 17-18
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 19-20
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 21-22
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 23-24

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 13-14

So after a long hiatus, I'm back to reviewing Goong. Through email and comments, I've received a few requests to continue the recaps and I've also got a K-drama vacancy in my schedule now, since my favorite summer show Big just wrapped up (read my disgruntled recap of the final episodes HERE).

Teenage Princess Chaekyung is feeling low because her husband Shin had been seeing his ex-girlfriend Hyorin. Sure, Shin and Chaekyung's marriage is a political thing and it's not "for real" in a lot of ways, but Chaekyung's feelings for Shin are the genuine article.

And He Tramples on Them Regularly.

The Queen Mother, Shin's grandma, is about the coolest little old lady ever, and in order to break the ice between Shin and Chaekyung, she suggests that the three of them go out for a drive without letting any of their subordinates know.

You Rule Breaker, You!

Queen Mother takes this fun spur-of-the-moment outing as an opportunity to remind the young couple that she would really like to have a great-grandchild. Aww, Grandma. Your heart is so kind and your intentions so good, but I don't think you'll convince Chaekyung to have babies with Shin any time soon. However, on this short trip, Queen Mother does get Shin and Chaekyung to sing the Korean version of the kiddie song "Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow". Love it. If she can't have little kids, she'll make the young people act like kids!

At school, Yul has lost his trademark blondish locks in favor of a conservative black hair color, which makes me wonder, is he just looking for a style change, or trying to be emo, or maybe even subconsciously trying to mimic Shin? Hyorin is now getting shunned at school, and I have very little sympathy for her. The girl willingly involved Shin in a scandal so he'd get kicked out of the palace and have no choice but to divorce Chaekyung and go to her. Hyorin can't see the big picture--all she focuses on is what she wants and how she can get it. Yul's a little more subtle about his manipulations.


Yul's Mom is now a Queen Mother, too, which necessitates her wearing an unflattering hanbok and headdress. Yul's Mom wants Yul to be a little more plotty for goodness' sake, because she's doing all she can to win him the throne, while he's not really getting with the program. In fact, he is being mopey.

Sad Yul is Sad!

Yul indulges in a hazy mental montage of all the cute moments that made him fall for Chaekyung. It's precious, but somewhat pitiful since we know that Chaekyung never thinks of Yul in such a dreamy way. Even so, Yul and Chaekyung hang out together on the palace grounds, playing mandolins and singing to each other, just generally having a great time.

Elsewhere, Shin's Mom is seriously worried about her son's reputation. The tabloids are full of stories of his marriage problems, and she wonders how to halt the rumors.

You'll Never Guess What Solution She Comes Up With.

Shin's Mom, the Queen Mother, and all the high-ranking household servants decide that it's high time for Shin and Chaekyung to ceremonially "share the marriage bed". Yes, that means what you think it means. It's a very old-fashioned, impersonal approach to something so very personal, but then again, this is a monarchy and there are heirs at stake. Chaekyung and Shin are both 19 and they are legally married, so there aren't any real moral issues here, yet these two kiddos really do seem like kids.

The worst part about these marriage-bed preparations? Nobody tells Shin and Chaekyung it's happening! No, they just treat Chaekyung to a makeover while giggling. And it's even worse for Shin, who gets fed a drink with some "special health-enhancing" ingredients added. He's nineteen! Are they trying to kill him with this?

I'm Scared of Where This is Going.

But since this is a comedy, nothing happens even after the prince and princess are locked up all night in the ceremonial room of royal snuggling. The Queen Mother is thrilled over the prospect of getting a great-grandchild, but Shin and Chaekyung are still as innocent as newborn lambs. Which is good, because it's clear they couldn't handle a more grown-up relationship.

A Picture of Chaekyung's Ceremonial Hat. Just Because.

But while it's funny for the audience, this is a dead serious matter for Yul, who looks like he's going to vomit when he hears about the royal family's plan for Shin and Chaekyung. The next day, when Chaekyung tells him that nothing happened, he's so relieved, he hugs her.

Her Reaction to the Hug Says So Much.

Shin sees the hug and shoves Yul away, saying, "She's my wife, so don't touch her!" Then Shin berates Chaekung for flirting with Yul, which is not conduct befitting a Crown Princess. Ha. That's rich, coming from a guy who ditched his security guards to joyride around Thailand with Hyorin a few episodes ago. Where was your love for propriety then, Shin?

Anyways, Shin's behavior is infuriating and hypocritical, but one thing it does clearly show is that Chaekyung is special to him. Though he has the worst ways of showing it, sometimes. Chaekyung tells him off good for it, as she ought to.

Yul and Chaekyung meet again, and Yul confesses that he likes her. No, more than likes--he wants to marry her after she divorces Shin. Yul says that he'll never leave her alone or ignore her like Shin does, and besides, he was the prince she was originally intended to marry, anyway.

These Are Compelling Arguments.

Chaekyung tells him to stop talking like this, and it brings up the question: Why can't she just like the nice guy who adores her instead of the cold guy who occasionally acknowledges her? But the choice is more complicated than that, and Yul has some secrets he's hiding, too.

At school, everyone's reading fresh tabloid stories with pictures of Shin and Hyorin in Thailand. Chaekyung's friends go and confront Hyorin for her shadiness, and the confrontation is kind of eerie because Hyorin has previously been a mild villain who sees herself as a victim, and now the bullying has made her an actual victim.

Still Don't Like Her, But I Do Feel Sorry For Her.

The sight of the others girls pushing and shoving Hyorin is definitely awful and highlights how disgusting bullying really is: even when characters we like are bullying characters we don't like, it doesn't feel like justice, it feels dirty and wrong.

Hyorin's mom is admitted to the hospital for a serious back surgery and it's also revealed that Hyorin and her mom don't have much money. Um. Then how does Hyorin afford the ritzy arts school, ballet training, horseback riding lessons, nice presents for Shin, and plane tickets to Thailand? I can understand the need for the story to make Hyorin more sympathetic, but it doesn't make sense to make her poor, not after we've seen her living the luxury life for so many episodes.

At the palace, Yul tries to talk with Chaekyung about his feelings, but she puts up walls. She says that she used to feel sorry for Shin, then she grew to understand him, then the more she understood him, the more she liked him. Without saying it outright, Chaekyung is making it known that Shin's the only one for her.

Those Are the Breaks, Yul.

But! After she says that, Chaekyung finds paparazzi pictures of Hyorin kissing Shin in Thailand. Good. Took forever for Chaekyung to know. She feels betrayed and all, but I think the revelation is happening a little late--the audience knew about this a long, long time ago.

Yul and Chaekyung resolve to remain friends after he says he won't mention his feelings to her anymore. They decide to skip school and go have fun, to alleviate Chaekyung's stress. It doesn't really work because Chaekyung still ends up crying over Shin's behavior. And she lets Yul hold her while she cries.

Might Be Sending Some Mixed Messages.

Chaekyung chills on her own for awhile, and Shin worries when she doesn't come back to the palace on time. Shin goes out to find her, with no results. Yul finds Chaekyung in a remote palace building and tells her that he's willing to drop all his royal responsibilities and run away with her if she really feels so stifled by the palace. Yul, I thought you weren't going to mention your feelings anymore? That resolution lasted all of three hours. Shin barges in and punches Yul for not bringing Chaekyung back immediately once he found her. Kind of thuggish behavior for a prince.

Things I Loved:

Music. I'm loving that classical violin that plays all the time in the background. It sounds Irish to me, but I guess it's a variation on traditional Korean music.


Yul's Mom: She's a good villain, I guess, but anything involving her is so frustrating.

You'd Be Grumpy, Too, If You Had to Wear This Headdress.

Watch Goong HERE on Dramafever.

Episode Evaluations: Still moving quite slowly. To use a footracing metaphor, the story doesn't so much run along the racetrack as it gradually shifts its posture toward the track, before strolling nonchalantly toward the finish line. The characters are nice, and the palace scenery is sure pretty, but it takes a minimum of 6 episodes for anyone to take decisive action on any important matter. But if you don't mind a leisurely pace, sit back and enjoy! We've got 10 more episodes to go.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Psalms on Sunday: Psalm 8

Psalm 8 is a praise song, and it's kind of nice to read after several psalms that deal with desperation and pain. Verse 1 is something I've seen emblazoned on a lot of Christian merchandise, and it's a really beautiful idea. God is excellent, not in the normal conversational sense of "really great and cool" but in the sense that he excels everyone and everything. His glory is above the heavens; here, I think the speaker is talking about the earthly heavens, a.k.a. the sky and atmosphere.

Verse 2 contains another familiar phrase "out of the mouth of babes," which is usually intended to mean that someone young has said something wise, but here it seems to relate to military strength, somehow.

Verses 3-8 are all one connected thought. When the speaker thinks of all that God has created, including the heavenly bodies like stars and planets, it's hard to understand why God even takes notice of people or cares about them. What are we, compared to the vast beauty (and terror) of the universe? But still God is "mindful" of us and "visits" us. We are important to him, and he devotes his thoughts and time to us.

In fact, verse 5 says that humankind is created to be only "a little lower than the angels". This is really interesting to me. I've always found it amazing that humans are somewhere between animals, which have life but no eternal soul, and angels, which have a celestial existence but (as far as I can tell from Scripture) no free will. We are a peculiar mix of the beastly and celestial.

Verse 6 uses an interesting word, "dominion," to describe humans' control over the earth. We're not just the dominant life form by accident--God gave the earth to us to rule and administrate, so we are responsible for its care. Verse 9 resonates with verse 1 by repeating the phrase about the Lord's excellence.

1O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

K-Drama Review: Big, Episodes 15-16

Read Episode reviews for:

Big--Episodes 1-2
Big--Episodes 3-4
Big--Episodes 5-6
Big--Episodes 7-8
Big--Episodes 9-10
Big--Episodes 11-12
Big--Episodes 13-14

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 15-16

My thoughts prior to viewing the final two eps: Big is ending, and I don't want it to be ending. Nooo! I almost don't want to watch any more. Because these are the episodes that make or break the entire show and plot arc as a whole. I've loved this show, and I don't want it to turn into a train wreck at the finish line, to mangle a metaphor.

Brace for an epic recap, because my reviews of finales tend to be long. Case in point, Rooftop Prince.

We open with a dream sequence. Kyungjoon is dreaming that he's walking through a sort of desolate waterscape reminiscent of the place where he nearly drowned. He's walking toward...

Himself. Reading a Book to Him(other)self.

It's only 20 seconds into the episode, and I already want to dissect this image. Kyungjoon is dreaming of watching Yoonjae reading the Angel Miracle book to Kyungjoon-body as it's lying in his childhood racecar bed. Yoonjae looks protective of his little brother. Kyungjoon looks at Yoonjae, who is identical to him in appearance, and asks if he has been waiting all this time. Man. It's really got to mess with your sense of identity when you've been bodyswapped with your long-lost twin brother who is 12 years older than you.

Dream-Yoonjae extends his hand. Kyungjoon knows that if he takes that hand, he will wake up in his own body, losing all the memories of being Yoonjae for a year and a half, and of loving Da-Ran and being loved by her. Should he take the offered hand and make the switch?

Nope. 안이요. Not a Chance.

Kyungjoon wakes up the same as ever and rushes to check on his body. There's no change, and we flashback to the dream where Kyungjoon begs Yoonjae to let them stay switched a little while longer so he can have some more time with Da-Ran.

But....Kyungjoon pretends to Da-Ran that he has already lost his memory. He addresses her formally, like he doesn't remember their time together. What was the point of getting extra days with her if he wasn't going to make use of them? To slowly wean her off of loving him? But the thing that should be giving him away is the fact that he's not freaking out over being told about the bodyswap. Da-Ran, don't you remember how he flipped out in the morgue when he switched bodies the first time? This is all a ruse!

Put Two and Two Together, Girl!

Kyungjoon admits to Mari that he remembers everything, but that once he makes the bodyswap, he won't. He's trying to spare Da-Ran the pain of losing him suddenly. Because losing him slowly will surely hurt less, right? Da-Ran is still hoping like mad that he'll remember her. 'Cause she loves him. She keeps trying to force the issue, but Kyungjoon says not to make him recall things he'll have to leave behind anyways.

She hands him the bag full of stuff he gave her and tells him to throw it out if it's really meaningless to him now. Kyungjoon complies, but goes through the bag and finds that Da-Ran retrieved the note he wrote her, promising to take her to the moon someday.

Further Proof That She Loves Him.

He stuffs the note in his pocket so Da-Ran won't know he cares. He throws away her precious memories, which she herself tried to throw away a few episodes ago, but couldn't. She's reduced to pitiful tears after seeing that he doesn't care for her anymore, and he locks himself in his room and cries, too.

Why????? Kyungjoon's doing what he thinks is in Da-Ran's best interest, but aaaaaargh, it's not a good decision.

Mari has plans for Kyungjoon's wake-up, now that she knows he'll lose his memory of Da-Ran. In her fantasy, he will wake up in full princely regalia, as she sits by in Snow White attire, ready to welcome him.

Mari Has a Very Vivid Imagination.

But even in the dream, Kyungjoon has to be coerced into liking her. Heh. And all this is having an adverse effect on Choongshik.

Remember Me? Your Pizza Slave?

Mari says she'll forget about her time with Choongshik when Kyungjoon wakes up, neatly mirroring Kyungjoon's attitude toward Da-Ran, albeit with different motivations. Choongshik insists that she can't forget him and he won't forget Mari, either--love is not bound up in the memory, but in the heart.

Ah, is that a hint, Show? Are you telling us that Kyungjoon will remember Da-Ran in his heart anyways? He'd better! His random high-handed nobility is ridiculous right now.

Why Errybody Gotta Try to Be All Sacrificial?

Da-Ran leaves their house and goes to apply for a teaching job far away. Kyungjoon looks around in a panic at her packed-up things, worrying that he won't see her again, but he reminds himself that this is what he wanted. Then he thinks about how he won't see her today or tomorrow. Or the day after that. The rest of his life will be one long endurance session of not seeing Da-Ran.

Clearly, this is a Feel-Bad episode, only here to wring every drop of hurt out of this relationship and make us feel dreadful.

Dad Offers a Sympathetic Ear. Tries Logic. Fails.

Kyungjoon takes Da-Ran to the last place that they were together before the bodyswap. He finally breaks it to her that he's going to lose his memories entirely.

Should've Told Her Two Eps. Ago.

He throws the watch she gave him into the lake. I kind of wish she'd slug him for that. But instead she spends hours searching until she finds the watch in that muddy lake.

Isn't He The One Who Should Be Making the Grand Gesture?

At a dinner involving both sets of parents, Kyungjoon explains that no such person as "KKJ" exists, and Da-Ran and Yoonjae will continue their relationship when he returns from Germany. Just then Da-Ran rushes in, scraggly and covered in dried mud, to say that KKJ does exist! She says she's gone crazy and fallen for him. This whole speech is meant to be beautiful and moving, but it really sounds more humiliating to me.

I can't find anything to like about episode 15. Lots of old hurts, no new info, no emotional or psychological growth,and nothing in the plot moved forward at all. Kyungjoon isn't even acting like Kyungjoon, which is half the fun of the show.

Please, please, Show. Get better in the finale. You must.

Episode 16 begins.

Da-Ran Still Looks Like a Bedraggled Orphan.

She takes off her ring and puts it on the dinner table in front of both families, then Kyungjoon drags her out of the room to avoid any backlash. Brave move, Da-Ran, but are the two families going to accept you getting together with the younger son later when you're breaking up with the older son so publicly? Food for thought.

Da-Ran tells Kyungjoon that even if he loses his memory, she will break the spell and make him remember.


And the cuteness is back at last. Thank you, cuteness, don't stay gone so long next time. Kyungjoon sits at home, prodding Da-Ran to confess when she first started to like him.

At the hospital, Evil Mom is feeling maternal feelings for her younger son! At last! I feel sorry for him, too.

Poor Shin Won Ho Has Spent 95% of This Drama Unconscious.

Da-Ran gets her parents to accept her decision to leave "Yoonjae" though of course they're heartbroken. It's not as if Da-Ran can explain that the cool son-in-law they think they're losing is actually still the son-in-law they'll be getting in the future.

Kyungjoon remembers that Yoonjae actually died for a few moments when they swapped bodies the first time. What happens if something goes wrong with the second switchover?

There are also a lot of little inconveniences, for comedy's sake. Da-Ran has moved back in with her family, and they have her under house arrest, so she has to sneak out to meet Kyungjoon.

She Jumped Out of a 2nd-Story Window to Get Here.

She puts the special watch back on him, now that it's been repaired after its swim in the lake. She kisses his cheek, then runs back to her house. He touches his cheek and grins like an idiot. Oh, you could die from this cuteness.

Then Mari kidnaps Kyungjoon's body. Kidnaps. A guy in a coma. Kyungjoon negotiates the return of his body, but it's a scary moment. Mari, I like you crazy...

...But Not This Crazy.

And we're getting more and more omens that someone's going to die when the brothers switch over.

Kyungjoon starts to worry about Yoonjae's feelings. If he really did love Da-Ran, maybe Kyungjoon shouldn't openly move in on his girl right after the switch. Ah, so we're going to wait another couple of years before Da-Ran tries to meet Kyungjoon again?

Kyungjoon tells Mari once and for all that he's sorry for hurting her, but he will never return her feelings. She leaves for America. Choongshik marks on her handbag with marker again and says he'll devote the next ten years of his life to her. He saunters away and Mari gets a big smile on her face. Stalker, meet stalkerette. They fit, somehow.

Da-Ran finds the umbrella she lost the day she and Kyungjoon first met, when she mistook his umbrella as hers.

It's a Nice Call-Back.

And Kyungjoon admits he was the one who switched their umbrellas two years ago, so he would have an excuse to follow her. Dawww. Love it. This also makes Kyungjoon hopeful--remembering that he liked her at first sight makes him think he'll fall for her again even after losing his memories.

Umbrellas Haven't Been This Romantic Since "Singing in the Rain".

He says, "I wanted to say this after I came back, not before I left, but...Gil D-Ran, I love you." He leaves her holding the umbrella and walks away into the distance.

Timeskip to 1 year in the future.

Da-Ran is teaching in the boondocks.

And Has Acquired Teacher Spectacles.

Mari returns to Korea, and tells Choongshik she's been feeding her dog the dumplings he mails to her. Why are you sending dumplings through international mail, honey?

Same Old Mari.

Mari has come back to receive a photography award, since she honed her paparazzi skills so well in the past. Mari admits that she has eaten some of the dumplings, and she's just the teeniest bit fond of them. Choongshik does a fist-pump over Mari liking anything he does, because this could go places in the future.

Da-Ran rides the bus and the radio says it's June 24th, which happens to be Kyungjoon's 21st birthday. Da-Ran has called in and asked a radio program host to say some sweet words about her situation, with the names removed, and Da-Ran whispers along with the radio, lost in her own little world of happy memories. She looks down and sees...

Ruh-Roh! Swappable Umbrellas!

Someone chases her out of the bus, calling "Gil Da-Ran!"

It's Yoonjae?

But no, it's Da-Ran's memory of Kyungjoon from the past, encouraging her to hold on to him if they ever meet again, no matter how bratty he may act.

In the present, Da-Ran smiles and says "Hi, Kyungjoon". Yoonjae's voice says, "Gil Teacher. I hadn't seen you in so long. I was just curious." The camera angles don't let us see the two of them under the umbrella, and Kyungjoon marches away, still hidden by the umbrella, leaving Da-Ran in the rain.

She remembers more of Kyungjoon's words from the past, and we end on a shot of Da-Ran and Kyungjoon (in Yoonjae's body) in the past, with the assurance that in the present she will follow Kyungjoon to tell him she loves him and all will be well.


No love, no hug, no kiss, not even the original actor being shown with Da-Ran! Just a lame attempt to let us know they'll work things out.

Show, you did some impressive flips, but you failed to stick the dismount.

Episode Evaluations: Ugh. I am one grumpy Tiger. This funny, insane, lovable show ended in almost the least-satisfying way possible.

The whole point of Da-Ran falling in love with Kyungjoon was that she loved him, no matter which body he was in. And to not even let us see her with the original guy almost entirely defeats the purpose of showing us her struggles. Were the show's creators afraid that we'd get squicked out by seeing a 21-year-old guy with a 27-year-old woman? I dunno.

I myself was worried about the disconnect between losing actor Gong Yoo as Kyungjoon and then snapping back to Shin Won Ho as Kyungjoon--I wondered if the romance would still be believable, and if the audience could maintain an emotional attachment when the actor changed. But now we'll never know, because of the cop out ending that didn't even give us a chance to see if it worked!


What have I learned from this drama? Good shows should not be afraid to take risks. If you can make bodyswapping coma-brothers work as a plot device, you can make an actor switch work. Go there, Shows--just go there. You may find that there's payoff for a plot risk.

This is Tiger Holland, signing off and looking for a new K-drama that packs a little more tenacity and conviction.

P.S. If we're going to go into plot-logic....What was Yoonjae's illness and why did it relapse after 19 years of remission? How did Yoonjae feel about the divorce from Da-Ran, assuming there was one? How did Mari kidnap a coma patient from a  hospital and return him with no police involvement? Why did Evil Mom suddenly grow a heart? Why was Birth Mom subjected to a gangland-style assassination death that didn't even pretend to be a mugging? What happened to that crossed-love sub-subplot with Assistant Principle and Kyungjoon's Uncle? Why didn't Yoonjae try to find Da-Ran after the switch? Did Evil Mom and Weak Dad repair their relationship in order to raise Kyungjoon? Why didn't Yoonjae die after the second bodyswap, since he was the one to die in the lake? What happened to that memory journal Kyungjoon was supposedly keeping to remind himself of Da-Ran? Why was Kyungjoon's body going into cardiac arrest at the hospital? 왜 왜 왜!

7/27 ETA: I normally pay zero attention to alternate "fan endings" to shows, but this one is just about ideal. It's old Kyungjoon footage intercut with the final scene and it just works.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Psalms on Sunday: Psalm 7

Psalm 7 shows King David of Israel in desperate trouble again. In verse 1 he's trusting God to save him from a deadly situation. It seems as if the speaker has many enemies, but verse 2 mentions one person in particular who is ready to tear the speaker in pieces. This enemy is compared to a lion.

Side note on lion-metaphors in scripture: I find it interesting that David's evil enemy is compared to a lion, and in the New Testament Satan himself is compared to a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," which are both incredibly negative images involving lions. But Jesus is also called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and most modern readers are aware that perhaps the most memorable allegory of Jesus in fiction involves a lion (Aslan) as the stand-in character for the son of God. It seems like lions in the Bible are symbols of absolute strength, and that strength can either be depicted positively or negatively. As opposed to, say, snakes and serpents which are always shown in a negative light.

Verses 3-5 show the speaker contemplating a situation where he might deserve his current misfortune. If he were an evil person who attacked innocents without a reason, then he would deserve death and dishonor, but the speaker reminds God that he is not evil, and in fact he is a very merciful person.

Verse 6 shows the speaker asking God to fight fire with fire and meet the enemies' anger with his own divine anger, which they can't possibly withstand.

No idea what verse 7 is about. If you know, feel free to tell me.

Verses 8-11 says that God judges everyone, but the speaker would like God to judge him based on his righteousness--the speaker is confident that the judgment will come out in his favor. The speaker calls for an end to wicked behavior because God weighs people's hearts and motivations. He knows why we do what we do.

Verses 12-16 involve some highly skilled metaphors about God destroying evil. God is a swordsman, an archer,  and a general ordering destruction. But the destruction of the wicked doesn't just involve God taking action; part of their downfall is caused by their own actions. Evil people are described as digging a deep pit and then falling into it themselves.

Verse 17 brings an abrupt change in tone and shows the speaker rejoicing and praising God for his righteousness.


1O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:

2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

3 O Lord my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;

4 If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)

5 Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.

6 Arise, O Lord, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.

7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.

8 The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.

11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.

13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.

14 Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

17 I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

K-Drama Review: Big, Episodes 13-14

Read Episode reviews for:

Big--Episodes 1-2
Big--Episodes 3-4
Big--Episodes 5-6
Big--Episodes 7-8
Big--Episodes 9-10
Big--Episodes 11-12
Big--Episodes 13-14
Big--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 13-14

Big is coming along nicely. Where were we?

Kissing, That's Where! Yaaaaaaay.

Da-Ran has finally hinted to Kyungjoon that her heart belongs to him, regardless of the fact that he's been soul-swapped into someone else's body. She briefly tries to talk herself out of falling for him, but Kyungjoon just looks at her lovingly and promises to make her fall for him even more in the future.

At the hospital, Mari's sees Yoonjae's Dad, finally confronts him, and realizes he's also Kyungjoon's dad.

Mari's Not a Bad Sleuth, All Things Considered.

Mari acts like a boss and asks Dad why he's trying to hide the fact that he's Kyungjoon's father--does he care more about his older son Yoonjae, is that it? She says, "Ahjusshi nappayo!" which means "You're a bad person, mister!" And she's not wrong. He abandoned his youngest boy and has done nothing for him during the kid's whole life. At this point, I love Mari for loving Kyungjoon. Besides KJ himself, she's one of the few people who could feel this abandonment so deeply.

Da-Ran takes Kyungjoon out for a middle-class birthday dinner at a place that amounts to a Korean Shoney's, since the staff all sing Happy Birthday to you. Kyungjoon promises to take Da-Ran on a round-trip voyage to the moon in 20 years. Aww, he's already planning wild and wacky things for their distant future. He's in this for the long haul.

Just Give In Already, Da-Ran. It's Inevitable.

Da-Ran gives Kyungjoon his birthday present, a watch personalized with his initials, and he asks her to put it on for him. he says that since she gave him the watch at 10:10, every single day when the clock hits 10:10, he will think of her and she must think of him. I don't know if that is childish or romantic--maybe some of both--but it's altogether a Kyungjoon sort of thing to say.

The next morning, despite dreaming of visiting the moon with Kyungjoon as a pair of happy astronauts, Da-Ran insists that she's going to pursue a future by herself and take a far-off teaching job. Well, I guess our awesome couple still needs some tension. But does it have to come from Da-Ran still not admitting they're a couple?

At the hospital, Kyungjoon has a moment of self-disgust as he can't get over his phobia of blood for long enough to hold the hand of a sick child. He seems to be asking himself what Yoonjae would do in his position--Yoonjae would help the little girl, of course.

And Kyungjoon Does, Too.

I love how Kyungjoon overcomes his own trauma in order to help someone who needs him. I also like this drama's focus on connected hands, like DR and KJ's hands connecting under the umbrella, or Yoonjae's and Kyungjoon's hands when big brother rescues little brother from drowning.

Da-Ran resolves that if she thinks of Kyungjoon at 10:10 like he promised she would, that means she's truly caught. But instead of thinking about him at precisely 10:10, she thinks about him every other minute of the day! It's pretty funny to watch Da-Ran get continual flashbacks to memories of Kyungjoon when she looks at things like vitamin water, tennis shoes, cars, and even when a breeze blows. And she sees clocks everywhere!

Hallucinations Are a Symptom Of Love! Or Acid Usage.

Da-Ran still wants to find her lost engagement ring so she can return it and apologize to Yoonjae someday, for dumping him. Kyungjoon is just as perplexed over this as I am, and they argue about the ring. But to onlookers, it seems like Yoonjae and Da-Ran are having marital problems, and of course lil' bro Choongshik overhears Da-Ran talking about "cheating"...

Stricken With Shock and Grief. Love This Kid.

Then there's this nonsensical scene where Da-Ran and Kyungjoon go to jail because Da-Ran's Dad is upset with them over a misunderstanding, and they are let go the next morning, but none of it is a joke or a dream. Huh? But it's soon over, and Da-Ran is promising to stay by Kyungjoon's side and to hold his hand when he switches back to his original body. And there is smiling and hugging, and the viewers rejoice! But Mari watches the whole lovey exchange and cries her heart out.

미안해, Kiddo.

Off in the Darker Plot, darker things are happening. Like they do. Yoonjae's parents had some tests run and they find that Yoonjae's old disease is back and he needs blood from the comatose Kyungjoon in order to live. But Kyungjoon is soulswapped in Yoonjae's body right now and is just finding out about the health condition. Kyungjoon overhears Awful Mom talking to Seyoung about taking blood from his unconscious body without his permission.

Mom's a Stone Cold Jerk.

Then the truth all comes out in a horrible tumble. Mom tells Kyungjoon (thinking he's Yoonjae) all about making Kyungjoon twenty years ago and having him carried by a surrogate, just so he could heal his big brother. This absolutely demolishes Kyungjoon's worldview--he always thought he was the treasured child of a single mom who had a brief fling. That, he could live with. But this? Being a test tube baby created to donate blood to another kid? It hurts.

Kyungjoon decides he won't give the transfusion to "Yoonjae". He'll just move forward with Da-Ran and forget about his sordid family. At this point, Mari shows her first real hint of villainy and lies to Kyungjoon, saying that Da-Ran knew about everything and she was only staying with him so she could use him to help Yoonjae. Kyungjoon's in just the right disturbed frame of mind to believe her, since everyone who should love him is putting Yoonjae first.

Mari finds Da-Ran and tries to get her to realize that she's only causing Kyungjoon pain by staying with him. Huh? Mari gives Da-Ran a fake engagement ring and begs Da-Ran to tell Kyungjoon lies so he'll leave her. Da-Ran complies, putting on the ring and telling Kyungjoon to save Yoonjae because he's the one she's waiting for. With tears in his eyes, Kyungjoon says he'll do that if it's what she wants.

The look on his face makes me want to punch someone.

The next episode begins with Da-Ran having nightmares about Kyungjoon and Yoonjae--they keep switching identities, and saying that she has forgotten one of them. The one she forgets will be lost forever. She wakes up to find Kyungjoon still awake and physically hurting from the unnamed illness Yoonjae has. Kyungjoon tells her to leave him alone and forget about taking him to the hospital.

I Honestly Don't Know Whether to Blame Her for This Predicament.

Kyungjoon has a talk with Mari where he continually compares Da-Ran's abandonment of him to the way his birth parents abandoned him. It's a fatal one-two punch of heartache.

Da-Ran is incensed after a talk with Awful Mom, who tells her that Yoonjae must always come first, even if Kyungjoon wakes up. Da-Ran says oh, HECK NO. Kyungjoon has to come first this time. Da-Ran extracts a promise that Awful Mom will be grateful to Kyungjoon and will treat him right when he wakes up. Way to go to bat for your boy, Da-Ran, even if you're currently lying to his face in order to save him.

Da-Ran and Kyungjoon go and have an awkward dinner with his parents, where he's just barely holding back his contempt for the way Mom fawns over Yoonjae, not knowing it's really the unwanted son she's speaking to.

And holy cow, the revelations keep coming! Awful Mom couldn't have kids naturally, so she conceived Yoonjae through in-vitro and kept Kyungjoon's...zygote I guess, stored away safely for later. Kyungjoon and Yoonjae were born twelve years apart, but Dad says the two of them were made from the same batch of person-fluid, so they're more like fraternal twins. (Is your head spinning? Mine is.)

THAT'S NOT ALL! Kyungjoon has a full-on crying breakdown when he finds out that his Dad asked his birth mom to carry him because they loved each other. Now Kyungjoon feels like the person who raised him, Birth Mom, only carried him because she was emotionally manipulated by her love for Dad, who explained that it was the only way to save his older son. The situation's wild, but the emotions are totally real from everyone. Well done.

Kyungjoon heads to a bar and begins quietly drinking himself into oblivion. Da-Ran finds him, but now that she's convinced him she doesn't love him, her pleading words to get him to leave don't have as much effect. He says if she's sincere, her true sincerity will move him, but nothing else. She tries various appeals, most of them the tough-love variety, while he drinks what looks to be a row of Scotch on the rocks, one after the other. She finally gets him to stop.

Next day, Kyungjoon agrees to the treatments, but says he'll go with Dad to Germany for them. Kyungjoon tells Da-Ran to wait behind and stay with his body because she promised she would be by his side when he woke up, and they figure that karma will make him wake up when the life-saving surgery is over. (They switched souls when Yoonjae saved Kyungjoon's life, ergo they'll switch again when KJ saves YJ.) But Da-Ran's family only knows that her husband is going to Germany without her.

The Gil's Default State Is Affectionate Confusion.

Da-Ran comes up with the idea that maybe the miracle of the bodyswap happened because Kyungjoon had to live as an adult for a while in order to have an adult's heart, so he could understand all that was being asked of him. Kyungjoon says no, his heart still hasn't grown enough to feel sympathy for these people.

Kyungjoon has a selfish streak left in him because he tells Mari he's not going to Germany for treatments--he's just going to disappear in Yoonjae's body and let everyone at home stew with worry. Da-Ran races to stop him at the airport, saying, "Save Yoonjae and in exchange I'll live the rest of my life alone and unhappy. I probably be unhappy anyway because...I love you." They're both in tears at this point.

I still don't understand why everybody's gotta be unhappy.

Ohhh, and a new twist. (Could there be any more twists?) Kyungjoon deduces from a few different clues that when he returns to his own body, he'll wake up without any of his current memories. He won't even remember the bodyswap. He looks around his house, which is full to the brim of Da-Ran memories, and wonders what it will be like to lose her. *sniffle*

Now they have dinner together and realize it might be their very last. Now he asks her to change her old promise--don't be by Kyungjoon's side when they switch places, but be with Yoonjae instead. Is this his way of fixing her up with his brother? Again? But instead of telling her he's going to lose his memories, Kyungjoon tells her he's going to pretend to forget her after the switch, so she should do the same. Arrrgh!

Just Be Honest, Like You Used to Be!

The necessary blood is taken from Kyungjoon's body, and Yoonjae's body faints. When he wakes up, Da-Ran asks, "You're still Kyungjoon, right?" But we don't know.

End of episode.

Things I Loved:

1. The Birthday Watch. Kyungjoon asking Da-Ran to put his birthday watch on for him because it's the first present she's ever gotten him. The watch keeps gaining significance over time (get it? over time?).

Killing Me With The Cuteness.

2. Everything I've Loved in Past Eps. The Lovey-dovey-ness, the wit, the real emotions, crazy Mari and dim Choongshik, and the list goes on.


1. Da-Ran's Waffling. I can understand her struggling with accepting Kyungjoon up through episode 12, but by episode 13 I'm ready for their obstacles to be external, not internal.

2. Jail Scene. Kinda ridiculous, which is saying a lot for a scene in a soul-swapping plot.


3. Da-Ran Lying to Kyungjoon. It's just miserable all around for everyone when Da-Ran starts to lie, and it's not clear to me why Da-Ran had to lie to Kyungjoon at all!

Episode Evaluations: These episodes broke my heart in about fifteen different ways. I tip my hat to the writers for making the story so emotionally accessible, even while utilizing many gnarly plot devices that could have gotten in the way.

And yet! I had better get a happy ending out of this. The ending will decide whether this is one of my most favorite shows ever or just one long exercise in sadness. I'm holding out for a strong finale. Only next week will tell!