The episode I was waiting for finally came around and cleared up all but one question that’s been haunting the past four episodes (what happened to Inho’s hand?). I’m delighted by the amount of time we spent in Yoo Jung’s head today because it finally allows you get a feel for who he is (without other’s filters getting in the way) and he’s a squishy teddy bear. Okay, maybe not a teddy bear. A lion?
Aww. But first I wanted to talk a bit about Inho and Inha because whew that was some heavy stuff they dropped on us there (and Inha’s younger counterpart was brilliant). Part of me wants to excuse Inha for her present behaviour given what she went through but Inho went through the same thing and has turned out so much better so I wonder if I’m placing too much blame on nurture. It’s easy to find her amusing but there are times when she pulls off something as nasty as what she did to Inho that I find it difficult to sympathize with her. What Inho did was absolutely wrong, but there are two possibilities for him having run away like that: 1) he suffered a similar level of abuse or 2) he was running above from both the aunt and Inha. Given what little Inha said about trying to incite the mentally-ill aunt to kill them (such horrifying thoughts for a child), I wonder if it could have been the latter, hence why he still feels guilty, because she did suffer a greal deal too. But twisting the knife in that past wound makes Inha look like an even worse psychopath than Yoo Jung was played out to be in the first few episodes. Because to her, all’s fair as long as she gets her money, while Inho’s left with a reopened wound.
Onto Yoo Jung, who is similarly emotionally stunted (though if you ask me, Inha is waaayy worse) but now that we aren’t seeing him through Seol’s viewpoint or merely getting bits and pieces of him with eerie music playing in the background, a great deal of the mystery fades away. Yoo Jung, in a nutshell, is a rigidly-controlled, slightly superior, sweetheart. He does have a few (minor, seriously miiinor) issues with control but isn’t nearly as bad as the grabby kid i saw on Heirs and Boys Over Flowers (Wait, Lee Minho? that was you? I’m just going to pretend that isn’t in your filmography…dramography?).
Yoo Jung is highly effective at taking charge of situations as seen in his being the head of his friend group. He’s well aware of the pitfalls of that position – the insincerity, and everyone wanting something from him – hence his emotional isolation from these people. Yet, this and whatever past experiences he underwent, appears to have taken him too far down the rabbit hole. He can’t truly connect with people. He knows what makes every person tick. He manipulates the hell out of them without harming them in any way (unless of course, you’ve wronged him) but he doesn’t know how to interact with them without pulling strings.
Yet, he doesn’t see this as an issue that needs fixing because, to him, they’re the strange ones. There’s no point in getting emotionally attached to them. That random question he asked Seol on how she became friends with Bora doesn’t seem to flyaway given this aspect of his character. He’s actually curious because he’s never made such a connection. Given this, I disagree with Jooyong’s comment that Yoo Jung doesn’t understand other’s feelings. He definitely does to some extent, hence why he didn’t want Seol to know what he’d done, but he only sees him in this analytic, manipulative fashion as opposed to Seol and her friends’ natural empathy. Hence why he seemed so out of place in the hospital scene with Bora at the others, not only because he didn’t really know her and Euntaek, but also because he didn’t really know what to do or say (as evidenced in the almost casual comments he made upon seeing that badly injured patient). Park Haejin was honestly made for Yoo Jung’s role and that last scene simultaneously made me shiver and want to hug him. Because there is something slightly psychologically off with someone who thinks that everyone’s strange but him. And he does deserve a wake-up call, even if he isn’t in the wrong with TA Heo’s case, because he does treat good people as inferior as seen with Inho. But the level of vulnerability with which Yoo Jung said this line was heartbreaking.
Because among all those inconsequential others, she’s the only one whose opinion of him matters. He lets everyone else go about with their misguided opinion of him: Jooyeon, and even Seol at first though it clearly appears to have hurt. There was a level of false bravado and loneliness here that put me in mind of Inho. It was the same when Jooyong scoffed at his superiority.
The cold mask cracked and Yoo Jung’s panic escaped onto his features and it was (such a relief) and sort of wonderful to see that it was a human that lay underneath and not a psychotic killer (Can’t help but think of his character in Bad Guys at times). I would like to point out though that Yoo Jung isn’t judging Seol for judging him (if anything he works to ensure that her impression of him turns favourable) because he judges people as well, as seen in his guilty-until-proved-innocent treatment of Jooyong (And it is nice to see a gay couple on tv so before anyone starts judging I just thought I’d leave this here. SK is a conservative, Confucian country for the most part so seeing a gay people on tv doesn’t come easy. Yoo Jung, however, does not judge TA Heo and Jooyong for being gay, but rather for the other choices they’ve made: stealing money, blaming him for getting back, treating Seol like crap and telling her everything. Yoo Jung isn’t homophobic. However, that one of the only two gay characters on the show is written as an asshole remains. Yet this writer is also showing that the stigmatization of gay relationships in Korea has led to people being afraid to come out, and in this case, has resulted in the real underwear thief finding a convenient target to blame because he knows that TA Heo and Jooyong won’t be able to risk coming out. So is there some homophobia in this show? I’m saying no.)I honestly felt the pieces click after this episode and it’s amazing as to how brilliantly the last ten minutes solidified Yoo Jung’s world view. If Seol wants him to tell the truth, then he’ll do so. This was why Yoo Jung pulled strings with Seol (to get her the scholarship and to go out with her). He had no problem with asking Seol out, but not until everything was in place for her to say yes. He didn’t wait a second longer than that (see my previous comment in the ep 4 review on how he could have waited for longer instead of making her a give a hesitant ‘yes’) which among a myriad of other things proves that he really, really, really likes Seol.
I MEAN LOOK AT THIS ADORABLE CREATURE. Yoo Jung’s got a crush and it’s the cutest thing ever. Watching him around Seol is like seeing a kid in a candy shop. You can practically see the hearts coming out of his eyes.
And Seol clearly feels something in return. If this were any other channel then tvN, I would be dreading an angsty separation but tomorrow’s episode previews are super promising and I frankly can’t wait. Especially now that I’m on the right ship (So Yoo Jung and Seol get each other, and I get
Shin Segi Baek Inho. Sounds fair)
(Why is he so flipping gorgeous?)