Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks to all you OG group watchers on the final Chuno thread; I wouldn’t be rewatching Money Flower right now if it weren’t for your many, very infectious expressions of enthusiastic admiration for Jang Hyuk, and man, am I glad to have Jang Hyuk as Pil Joo on my screen again, heh. 🤩
I hope you guys are ready to chat about Money Flower episodes 1 & 2! Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Ahhh. I’d forgotten how complicated, dark and swirlingly delicious this drama world feels. I feel sucked in, all over again, and very quickly, too. Immediately, practically the minute that Show opens, we get the sense that this is a complex world where there’s a lot of history involved, and therefore, nothing is what it seems, on the surface.
In particular, it’s clear that Pil Joo has an agenda born of a likely convoluted and painful past, and does not have an issue with adopting shady methods in order to achieve his goals. What strikes me about Pil Joo right away, is how Jang Hyuk plays him. He comes across as so controlled and yet so languid, at the same time. There’s a sense about him, that he’s holding back, like there’s a coil of strength and potency that he’s keeping in check, that he can unleash at his leisure in sharp, lethal and exacting ways.
Having just come fresh off our Chuno watch, I’m even more impressed than before, at the way Jang Hyuk controls his voice as Pil Joo. If this is your first time watching Jang Hyuk, I can assure you that this isn’t his normal speaking voice. What strikes me about the way Pil Joo uses his voice, is that it gives off that exact same vibe that I described above. It feels like he’s speaking from the back of his throat, and just like everything else about him, he’s only using a fraction of his full voice potential to communicate. The result of that, is a voice that sounds muted, but still vibrates with a lot of latent power.
I will talk about other things soon, I promise, but one last thing about Pil Joo I want to point out, is the entire way he carries himself.
His every move feels considered and controlled; there’s nothing careless about the way he moves. The same vibe comes through again; I feel like there’s a lot of strength and power that’s hiding behind the unhurried, deliberate way that he moves, and that, when unleashed, that power can and will come through with an intensity and accuracy that can lean dangerous – and even threatening.
Like how Pil Joo deals with the reporter who’s trying to blackmail him with the photos of Grandpa Chairman’s random hidden son threatening to jump off a building. The way Pil Joo walks into the room is all business, and the way he then kicks and hits the reporter is violent and unrelenting, yet also calculated and precise. And then, he’s smoothly pleasant, as he threatens the reporter right back – before handing him a makeshift icepack, to ice his wounds. So smooth, and so scary, at the same time.
Through the cloud of that polite and potentially savage air, I can’t help but find Pil Joo completely magnetic and mesmerizing. 🤩
Plot-wise, it’s immediately clear that Pil Joo has A Plan, from the way he’s putting so much effort into planning Boo Cheon’s match with Mo Hyun, to the way he requests for prison time from the prosecutor, who, startlingly, seems ready to defer to Pil Joo, in terms of how to proceed with the case. What kind of power does Pil Joo have, to be able to do that? Is this power because of the fact that the case has to do with the Cheong A Group, or is this personal power?
I gotta say, I don’t like Boo Cheon very much, from this first episode. He seems a little sorry that Pil Joo is going to prison for him, but he also doesn’t seem that sorry, really. I’m irked by his flippant manner when he visits Pil Joo in prison, making jokes about whether Pil Joo’s eating well, and gloating that he’s managed to tease a slight smile from Pil Joo. And then later, there’s how he makes fun of Pil Joo for being out of form on the squash court, like he’d been beaten up in prison. Uh. That seems like a strange attitude to have towards someone who’s taken the fall for you, I say.
Also, I’m very unimpressed with how Boo Cheon’s shown a preference for shirking responsibility, even from a young age. First, there’s how young Boo Cheon tells young Pil Joo (Jo Byung Gyu! Eee! It’s great to see him on my screen so soon after The Uncanny Counter!) that he doesn’t want to look bad in front of his cousin, and then there’s how he denies stabbing the Hyung who was with Pil Joo, AND, there’s how he’s so pleased to see his family lawyer, because he knows that, in Cheong A tradition, his crime will be blamed on someone else. Ugh. Did not like.
With all this as context, I’m already rolling my eyes at Boo Cheon’s behavior in the present. The way that he manages his affair with the reception staff seems quite reckless, with the way he basically makes out with her in the company library, where anyone could walk in on them. This is going to become troublesome, I can just smell it.
Clearly, Boo Cheon is nothing like his mother Mal Ran, who kinda-sorta reminds me of Pil Joo, in the way that she is unfailingly proper and polite, but does not hesitate to exert her power to set someone in their place, if she feels the need to do so. Like the way she firmly reminds Ms. Han that she is not and never will be part of the Cheong A family, even though Grandpa Chairman chooses to have her for a companion.
One of the things that I can’t help but notice, is the way Show hints that the relationship between Mal Ran and Pil Joo isn’t just pure business. There are subtle but definite shades of them relating as a man and a woman, rather than simply as a superior and her subordinate. There’s the way he takes off his own jacket and puts it on her shoulders, when he exits the prison, and the way he addresses the driver instead of her, and asks why he’d brought her, when it’s chilly out. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect a master to ask of his servant regarding the lady of the house, but Pil Joo is clearly not the master of this house.
Additionally, there’s the way he’s allowed to access her bedroom without permission. When she’s all up in a twist over Grandpa Chairman’s plan to give Daeil Distribution to Yeo Cheon, and his instruction for her to move out of the family home, no one is allowed into her room, and yet, it’s considered perfectly normal for Pil Joo to be given the key, to let himself in. That feels highly intimate, and like the kind of privilege only accorded to a lover. The connection and potential power play between Mal Ran and Pil Joo promises to be very interesting indeed.
I do feel sorry for Mo Hyun for being selected as the unwitting pawn in the grand plan to make Boo Cheon Chairman of Cheong A, particularly since I don’t think much of Boo Cheon right now. It’s not like she’s ever expressed an interest or desire to get married to a chaebol prince. She seems like a sweet girl with an innocent and caring heart, whose parentage just happens to make her a prime target. And now she’s slated to fall in love with a pretty losery guy. Poor girl.
Ironically, her desire for a fated love seems to point towards Pil Joo right now, since he’s the one who’s coincidentally present at Cheong A Hotel, when she’s duped into a blind date by her mother. That’s not something that Pil Joo planned, so perhaps fate really is at work here, somehow.
It’s very interesting to me, that we see young Pil Joo kneel before young Boo Cheon, asking Boo Cheon to be his friend. In contrast, in the present – despite all the “dog” labels and the fact that Pil Joo’s had to take the fall for Boo Cheon more than once – it’s Pil Joo who wields power over Boo Cheon. Boo Cheon himself complains to Mal Ran that Pil Joo looks at him condescendingly.
Mal Ran is cognizant of Pil Joo’s power too. She tells Boo Cheon that he will never become Chairman of Cheong A without Pil Joo’s help, and Pil Joo definitely knows this as well. It’s clear that he deliberately removes himself from the picture, so that Boo Cheon will have no choice but to come running to him, begging for the help that he’d once refused. After all that we’ve seen Boo Cheon do to Pil Joo, though, I can’t help but feel quite gratified at this role reversal, where it’s now Boo Cheon kneeling in front of Pil Joo.
Ooh, a lot of things – backstories, motivations and agendas – are becoming somewhat clearer this episode, and it feels like the stakes are amping up, alongside. It’s all very heady and absorbing, and I feel quite glued to my screen. Of course, part of the reason I feel glued to my screen, is because I am mesmerized by Pil Joo – but you guys already knew that, yes? 😉🤩
Pil Joo is proving to be adept at a lot of things. Not only is he a cool-headed master strategist, who understands the likes of Grandpa Chairman as much as he understands the likes of Mo Hyun, he’s also a sharpshooter and skilled fighter. I’m suitably wowed, heh.
Honestly, if Boo Cheon had followed Pil Joo’s instructions down to a T, he would have left a much cooler, much more suave impression Mo Hyun, I feel. Once he takes the earpiece out and does his own thing, he comes off a lot less charming, and you can even see Mo Hyun becoming a bit uncomfortable. It’s true; Boo Cheon is basically nothing much, without Pil Joo’s guidance.
Also, even though Pil Joo is the one orchestrating this “naturally fateful” marriage between Boo Cheon and Mo Hyun, he clearly does care about what actually happens to Mo Hyun. When Boo Cheon talks about all the women he plans to have on the side while married to Mo Hyun, Pil Joo is disgusted enough to punch Boo Cheon in the face, in order to make his point and get through to Boo Cheon. Given how whiny Boo Cheon is so much of the time, I hafta say I got a fair bit of satisfaction that he gets punished for talking smack.
We learn a fair bit of backstory this hour, the first chunk of which is that Pil Joo’s adoptive father had died while Pil Joo was serving his time in prison. Poor Pil Joo. He’s so torn up by the loss, and seems so alone in the world. His desire to die seems to be driven by a combination of those two things.
Of course, in kdrama tradition, it has to be Mo Hyun who’d saved him, but importantly, it seems that Pil Joo hadn’t known that Mo Hyun was the girl from his past, when he showed care for her wellbeing. So far, it feels like Pil Joo’s attitude towards Mo Hyun is a mix of a concession of compassion, mixed in with a bit of personal interest. His in-depth, well thought-out analysis of the kind of woman that she is, mixed with the occasional leaked tiny smile, is what gives me that impression.
And there’s also the way he steps in to fight off the two guys who were trying to take advantage of a very drunk Mo Hyun. You guys know I love it any time Jang Hyuk gets to show off his fight skillz, and as always, I am not disappointed. The fight scene is short, but that only shows how efficient and effective Pil Joo is, at taking down both men. His blows are sharp, quick and dismissive, and I watch it all with glee and with stars in my eyes, hee. 🤩 The fact that he does this all in a sharp suit without getting even a wrinkle in his clothes, is just extra cool. 😍
Afterwards, I love how gentle he is, as he carries Mo Hyun back to her house, and then catches her sleepy head on his shoulder and then sits with her, silently. This feels like such a great metaphor for how he will likely continue to take care of her – silently and anonymously.
Everyone in this drama world seems to be a shade of gray – well, except for Mo Hyun, who seems innocent and pure – and so I can’t say the way Pil Joo gets rid of Boo Cheon’s girlfriend Seo Won is very nice at all. But, what I will say is, to Pil Joo, this is business.
To Boo Cheon, who’s been all sweet on her and taking every opportunity to make kissy faces at her, I’d expected a little more.. humanity? It’s clear that the phone call that Pil Joo makes to Boo Cheon is unplanned, and yet, in that moment, Boo Cheon bites out that he doesn’t know her. Wow. That’s pretty awful, yes? I mean, I’d be crushed in Seo Won’s place.
Also, Boo Cheon really doesn’t seem very effective at business either; it’s Pil Joo and Mal Ran who have ensured the success of Daeil Distribution. I can’t say I actually blame Grandpa Chairman for not wanting to name Boo Cheon as his successor. I mean, if I had a conglomerate of companies, I wouldn’t want Boo Cheon at the helm either. Not that I actually think Grandpa Chairman’s a great example for how to run a business either, given his shady way of handling the takeover of Daeil Distribution.
We finally see a big piece of Pil Joo’s backstory; as Show reveals that Pil Joo’s father had been Mal Ran’s husband, and after his father’s death, he, his mother and younger brother had been thrown off a boat to die. Ugh. That’s shocking and awful, and it’s no wonder Pil Joo appears to have a vendetta against the Cheong A family.
On a tangential note, in this last scene, we see that Pil Joo comforts Mal Ran by pulling her to himself in an embrace, and not only does she allow it, she even clings to him. This is very much a picture of a relationship between a man and a woman, rather than a superior and a subordinate – and it occurs to me that Mal Ran is technically Pil Joo’s.. stepmother of sorts..? 😳🤯 How very spellbindingly twisted. 🤭