Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! I decided to have this backhug moment headlining our post today, because it’s such a significant moment, between Hye Won and Sun Jae. So many layers of intensity and emotion, in this one single screenshot. 🤩
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. If you really need to talk about a spoiler, it is possible to use the new spoiler tags, but please know that spoilers are still visible (ie, not hidden) in the email notification that you receive, of the comment in question.
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 set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Secret Love Affair OST – Book
In case you’d like to soak in the music as you read the episode notes, here’s Book, one of the key pieces that we hear, this set of episodes.
This one strikes me as the musical expression of the calm, sweetness and release that Hye Won and Sun Jae feel, when they are together, in that otherworldly, musical realm. I like this one for how soothing and yet, how expressive it is, of what feels like the poetry of the soul.
Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
Well. The affair begins this episode, so I thought I’d start with that, since that’s the key thing that lingers in my mind, now that I’ve finished watching the episode.
To be honest, I find the moment when Hye Won reaches for Sun Jae to kiss him, very weird. It’s her ultimate reaction to Sun Jae consistently refusing to play along with her claim that she doesn’t remember him kissing her in the garage.
Every time he gets a moment alone with Hye Won, it seems that Sun Jae needs to talk about this, and it’s the exact opposite of what Hye Won had expected, I think.
I feel like Hye Won had believed that Sun Jae would be cooperative enough to play along with her, even if he didn’t believe her. Instead, he just keeps laying his heart bare before her, in his honest, plaintive sort of way.
Brushing him aside – “You talk too much” – doesn’t seem to work either, since, afterwards, Sun Jae’s at it again, when he asks to play for her, then starts apologizing for Da Mi texting Joon Hyung, because of how he himself had felt, when Joon Hyung had called Hye Won by name, and his thoughts had wandered to how Hye Won shares a room with Joon Hyung.
It’s all quite pointed, and I rationalize that Hye Won’s run through her various options, of keeping Sun Jae at arm’s length.
Plus, there’s the thing where it’s clear to us as viewers, that even though Hye Won has been convincing herself to do the right thing, ie, keep Sun Jae at bay, her resolution crumbles quite steadily. Even though she doesn’t want to admit it, Sun Jae has got a foothold on her heart, and it’s not something that she can – or wants to – shake off.
That moment when she grabs him for the kiss, I feel like she’s finally giving in to her own feelings for him. She frames it as giving him a big scolding, but of course, her words make no sense; not to Sun Jae, and not to us, and I’m sure Hye Won knows this, too.
It’s clear that Sun Jae’s not listening to her words either, since he responds to her actions, while ignoring her words. Instead of being contrite or reflecting on himself like she says, he reaches out for a backhug; a desperate, intense backhug that she sinks into and responds to, which is where, hand on hand, their relationship irrefutably changes.
It’s an intense, impassioned moment; we can see from Hye Won’s expression that she’s basically undone, from the inside out; she’s essentially surrendering to the fervency of Sun Jae’s feelings, and the intensity of her own feelings in response to his.
What’s interesting about their connection is, upon this confirmed shift in their relationship, it isn’t a torrid bedroom scene that follows. Instead, he plays the piano, while she listens, and then they play, together.
It basically feels like they’ve entered into this affair, so that their souls can meet in this magical, other dimension, where the music takes them. It literally feels like this meeting of their souls, in this musical realm, is more precious, more intimate and more fulfilling to the both of them, than actual physical intimacy.
The thrilled hugs and euphoric laughter they share afterwards, feel like a celebratory afterthought, almost. Hye Won’s breathlessness, as she sighs in happy contentment, and as she tells Sun Jae, that that’s enough for the day, is reminiscent of an actual physical climax.
Notably, the thing that Sun Jae asks for, is more shared music – not more shared hugs or kisses. The skinship wasn’t the point; the point was to have a full mutual acknowledgment of the emotional and spiritual intimacy that they share, through their music.
Later, as Hye Won sinks into bed, Sun Jae continues to play, and in this moment, it feels like Sun Jae is continuing to reach out to Hye Won through his music, to allow her to drift off to sleep, while soaking in that magical realm of connection, even though there are literal walls between them.
This episode, I’m becoming cognizant of the fact that neither Hye Won nor Sun Jae is a traditionally “good” or “pure” sort of drama lead character. Hye Won is clearly involved in shady dealings while assisting Madam Han, and we see that she’s very much an active part of the admissions cover-up.
And it’s not like anyone’s twisting her arm, either. She chose to be a part of this, for the purpose of furthering her ambition.
And while Sun Jae is a pure soul when it comes to music, this episode, we see that, unlike what I’d assumed in earlier episodes, he does actually see Da Mi as his girlfriend.
When he talks about Da Mi with Hye Won, his protest isn’t, “She’s not my girlfriend,” but rather, “I haven’t slept with her.” That tells me that it’s not just Da Mi misunderstanding the situation; they are actually in a relationship. And somehow, I think I’d missed that – chosen not to register that – on my first watch.
And this makes Da Mi’s visit to Professor Kang’s residence land differently in my head, this time around. If Sun Jae does see Da Mi as his girlfriend, or at least, acknowledges that she really is his girlfriend, then his treatment of her is really uncool.
I mean, he mostly just wants her to leave, and tries to silence her when she starts bawling. I’m thinking that if he’s really not that into Da Mi (which he clearly isn’t), then what’s stopping him from just breaking up with her?
Combining that with Sun Jae’s stated desire not to ever get caught in his feelings for Hye Won, neither by Da Mi nor by Professor Kang, it does lend a much more clandestine quality to his feelings for Hye Won, where before, I’d chosen to simply see his feelings as his soul being drawn to Hye Won.
That is still true, certainly. It’s just.. less pure in my mind on this watch, and that makes things feel.. different.
Hye Won’s ambitious, materialistic reasons for sticking with Joon Hyung is reasonably well established, and I understand why she feels she needs to stay in this marriage. But with Sun Jae being so young and idealistic, I’d kinda expected different, from him..?
Of course, through it all, the fact that Hye Won and Sun Jae are impossibly drawn to each other, is clear to see. Past a certain point, it’s arguable that this thing between them has become a magnetic pull that cannot be reasoned away.
Neither of them can stop thinking of the other, it seems, and Hye Won even has that image of Sun Jae, getting hot ‘n heavy with Da Mi in bed, come unbidden to her mind. She’s jealous, and fascinated, and she can’t help it.
I do think that Sun Jae is right, that it’s safer all around, if he moves back to his own home. With both of their feelings raging like this, living under the same roof is really rather too.. dangerous.
This episode, things get more complicated and more involved in one, I feel like. Hye Won starts to grapple with this newly evolved relationship with Sun Jae, and I feel like she is torn between wanting to keep him at arm’s length, and wanting to draw him near to herself.
Hye Won clearly wants to spend time with Sun Jae, and yet, when she arrives at his home, she puts on this pretense of advising him on school, and how to set his sights on international piano competitions.
She had me going for a while, thinking that perhaps she’d changed her mind about her relationship with Sun Jae, and this was her way of drawing the line again, to something more professional.
But it soon becomes clear, that that’s not what she really wants. And so, I think that her real reason for talking like that, is to maintain her pride, a little bit. As a woman, she doesn’t want to be seen to be the one chasing down Sun Jae to his home.
And, as we see later in the episode, it bothers her to be an older woman who’s attracted to a younger man.
On hindsight, I feel that Hye Won’s just using the school and piano stuff as an excuse to see Sun Jae. She’s depending on Sun Jae to cut through her pretense, to maintain the intimacy of relationship that he’s secured, with her.
And he does not disappoint, in that he cuts through her strategy without much hesitation at all, “I think you’re trying too hard. Trying to act like an adult to me.” … “I’m one hundred percent serious about you. You don’t need to lie to me.”
She still tries to protest, telling him that he shouldn’t be with her, for his mother’s sake. But as always, Hye Won can’t ever say no to Sun Jae when he offers to let her listen to his music, and it’s his music that turns Hye Won around, so that instead of pushing him away, she’s tearfully, joyfully offering him a hug.
How significant, though, that Sun Jae hesitates, before he turns the dynamic around, and tells her, “I will give you a hug.”
What an extra layer of implication, though, when we realize that Joon Hyung’s seen all of this, while standing on the other side of the apartment door. Eep. But I’ll talk about that a bit later.
It’s so interesting to me, that even though Sun Jae is much younger than Hye Won, he is very clear on certain things, like how he wants to be the man in this relationship, even though she’s the one setting the limits and boundaries.
He doesn’t want to receive a hug from her like a mother to a child; he wants to hold her, as a man holds a woman. Augh. It’s really quite intoxicating, I have to admit.
The way Hye Won gasps in Sun Jae’s arms, so quietly and yet so tearfully, speaks volumes about how parched her soul must be, from being starved of true affection, for so long. She cannot help but return the embrace, even as Sun Jae envelops her with tearful wonder and intensity.
It feels like this is where Hye Won and Sun Jae cross a milestone in their relationship, because it’s after this, that there’s a sense of freedom, in their interactions.
When Sun Jae takes Hye Won home, with her riding pillion on the scooter that he borrows from his landlady, it feels like a carefree, fun, liberating moment for them, where they’re in their own happy bubble, completely cut off from the expectations of others, or the constraints of social expectation. It almost feels like they’re suspended in time, for a while.
Even though we hear Hye Won tell Sun Jae not to text or call her; that she’ll be the one to do that, we see that she does receive texts from him. This means that she had reached out to him first, then, because I doubt Sun Jae would disobey her, since he’s so intent on making her happy.
The way Hye Won sleeps while holding her phone close to her, tells me that these messages from Sun Jae are more precious to her than she’d like to let on.
And the way she sits by the windowsill the next morning, just to catch a glimpse of Sun Jae as he jogs past her window, says a lot too. Just that glimpse of him brings her so much joy.
I also love the detail that we find out this episode, that Hye Won had purchased Sun Jae’s old piano, when he’d sold it. And now, she restores it completely for him, so that he’ll be able to practice properly, but on a piano that holds a great deal of meaning for him.
That is such a precious gift, honestly. It tells me that even at the point when Sun Jae had decided to give up his piano, she knew what it meant to him, and she couldn’t let him risk losing that precious piano and all of its memories, forever.
I love that she’d thought of that. It shows just how much she understands Sun Jae.
I love that Sun Jae appreciates the gift so much, and immediately sends her a recording of himself playing the newly restored piano. And I love that Hye Won derives so much visible joy, from listening. I feel like with this exchange, they’ve given a lifeline of sorts, to each other.
She’s given him the gift of his piano back, along with all of its irreplaceable associated memories, and he’s now giving her the sound of his music, which nourishes her soul.
It feels like via his music, she gets to escape her suffocating life, and actually breathe.
On that note, I just wanted to say that I find Hye Won’s relationship with Joon Hyung rather curious, because by all accounts, their marriage is a business arrangement.
And yet, even though there isn’t a real sense of romantic relationship between them, they do appear to keep up the pretense of one, at least, with Joon Hyung expecting gentleness, understanding and tenderness from his wife, and Hye Won feeling that she needs to hide her bond with Sun Jae from him.
It’s intriguing to me, and I conclude that to Joon Hyung, this is more a matter of pride than anything else.
He wants Hye Won’s support, understanding and loyalty, not because he loves her and wants her to love him back; it’s to feed his pride, that he has a good wife, and deserves her unwavering loyalty.
Therefore, this episode, when he realizes that Sun Jae and Hye Won have Something going on, it’s his pride that is hurt, more than anything else. And I think that’s why he reacts the way he does.
He doesn’t confront Hye Won about it, but instead works to assert himself in other ways, like in how he tells Sun Jae that he’s the one who’d instructed Hye Won to buy Sun Jae’s old piano and restore it.
This episode, we also see that Da Mi isn’t one to be messed with. She’s been so smitten with Sun Jae, and so smiley with Hye Won, that I’m rather startled at how legitimately scary she can be.
The way she threatens Madam Baek’s daughter, is so full of thug swag, that I can see why Hye Won suddenly looks worried. After all, if Da Mi ever finds out that Hye Won’s seeing Sun Jae, she could turn that wrath on Hye Won too, no?
I empathize with Hye Won, when she expresses tearful regret over dinner, that she should have spent her youth loving, rather than planning to claw her way to a better, more successful future.
I feel that this is definitely triggered by her observations of Da Mi. Hye Won definitely sees Da Mi as romantic competition, and she can’t help but compare herself with Da Mi. And although Hye Won is herself a beautiful woman, she can’t help but feel old and inadequate, when contrasted with Da Mi’s youth.
And what a horrible position to be put in, where Hye Won gets attacked by Young Woo, for daring to ask for authority over her work, if she’s to help Young Woo with her business. My gosh, the way Young Woo attacks her is nothing short of lethal, and it’s just so horrible that Hye Won should be subjected to this kind of indignity, in the name of work. UGH.
I can see why Hye Won would think to reach out to Sun Jae, in a time like this, when she feels her lowest. Sun Jae’s become a healing presence in her life, and that’s probably what Hye Won wants and needs, at least for a while, after being treated like trash.
I liked the way you wrote about the hug at Sun Jae’s place.
“how parched her soul must be, from being starved of true affection”.
What I liked, the way expression on Sun Jae’s face and his force in the hug-his clasping her, changes, intensity of feelings increases on the scale of 10, from say 5 to 9, slowly.
One can literally feel exact what Sun Jae must be experiencing as the hands of Hye Won move upward on his back, this movement telling him that she is going deep into this relation, which gives immense pleasure to Sun Jae, pleasure of knowing that she is also equally drenching into this emotion.
@kfg , “it does lend a much more clandestine quality to his (Sun Jae) feelings for Hye Won”.
What I understood is, he did not want to go for all with his entire revealing everything to everybody , because, *he wanted it (it = his feelings/ their relation) to last long*. And which would not have been achieved had his gf or her husband get to know about it.
So, even though he is young, I found him to be caring for Hye Won, caring enough for her reputation not to get spoiled, because he is aware of her job, at what position she is working, her place in her circle ( from what they have shown in these 4-5 episodes),
I am not aware what they are going to show next, as this is my first watch.
“Sun Jae – what is stopping him from breaking up with Da Mi”?
I think, because, they were together during his tough moments. They had spent almost entire time with each other. (Before Hye Won enters the frame)
Hello to everyone, I can’t remember how I first found SLA, but I have rarely been so stunned and absorbed by any movie or series. SLA has a classic ‘old’ movie feel to it, maybe something a little like “I Am Love”, while the plot of course is timeless. I felt like I had entered a world, where this film I was watching was just so wonderful in every way, that I had to connect with someone who felt like that. I came across Fangirl Verdict and read like a lunatic what she had to say, and all the links to the directors comments on the making of this series. Everything he said was amazing to me, the craft, dedication, intelligence, sensitivity, etc etc. I was really grateful to come across all that info, thanks Fangirl. I have in general learnt a lot about the logistics, themes, tropes, and so forth about Korean drama series from you, and from many of the comments from your dedicated followers. Really insightful, from both a technical point of view, thematic, and just a general human perspective.
I have subsequently, in my usual passionate (raving, over the top) manner described to all my friends and family why this is a masterpiece and an artwork, and they must watch it, not one person has done so, except for one who found the female actresses
“too screechy”, although my daughters have watched Squid Game, (of course).
I have been watching Korean dramas and movies, Chinese and some Japanese, for around 2 years, and I have difficulty now watching anything “Hollywood”. I know I am not alone in this, as this type of reaction has been reiterated over and over by many who have “crossed over” (ha ha!!!)
@BE….I was really impressed by what you had to say, I don’t think I have the capacity to wax as lyrical, I am not as articulate, and as fortunately you have said it all, I don’t need to. But it’s wonderful to find like minded souls, to share these observations and responses from the heart.
I look forward to joining in the group watch for SLA.
@ JM Oh my gosh I feel the same way about SLA! You just put my feelings into words. Ditto to all that you said about the director! And yes I raved about it to my friends to no avail. Thank you to Fangirl for putting this group watch together! This drama has also brought back the love for classical music that I had in my youth. After SLA, I found it difficult to watch another drama as none seem to be able to measure up to the creative integrity (in my biased opinion). I keep seeing all the tropes and product placements (that I’m now cognizant of). Somehow SLA seem to exist on another plane. I particularly respect YAI for how he was able to learn the bits of piano pieces they filmed him playing. As an adult learner, I can attest to how difficult it is to learn piano , more much to pretend to play one who is a prodigy. In the interviews of the director, he apparently insisted that all the actors’ fingering of the piano should be 100% precise. To me that was amazing dedication and respect for the audience. I have to comment also about the chemistry between the two leads. They seem inexorably drawn to each other, despite the risks and the cost to both of them. They make the romance believable, age-gap and social-class gap be damned. The scene in the apartment where Hye Won laughed at Sun Jae when he said something like HW” has nothing much to lose because he loves her more” showcased the naivete of Sun Jae. Hye Won said as much, that she would be humiliated by SJ’s mom had the mom been alive. As an intelligent and cunning woman, she knew the price in exchange for this attraction, but maybe for the first time in her life, she wanted to grasp what her heart wanted (rather than what her brain dictated). With regards to Da Mi, SJ’s emotions towards her was totally platonic. They were just childhood friends. Maybe at one point in time, Da Mi (in her aggressive way) decided to claim him as a boyfriend and SJ just went along because he was just coasting along life not knowing what a real emotional connection and desire really felt like — until it hit him when he met Hye Won.
One other thing about the medium of music, Seon Jae & Hye Won. Music of all the art forms is the most powerful when shared at a basic soul level, but if one is an artist, I say this out of first hand experience and life long observation as an artist among artists, nothing is so romantically, erotically moving than an other who”gets you,” in every way, intellectually, spitritually, sexually, playfully—from profound to frivolity, sacred to profane. Hye Won we learn in her first e convo with genius had very much 1st thought of herself as an artist. An identity she has had to completely paper over, submissive to her more worldly ambitions. Think of what she underlines in the Richter book for Seon Jae. When she listens to Seon Jae all her artistic passions are being stirred to the surface, but when they play together, more, they play together almost like frolicking children—what release. Hye won the perpetually stressed, the high stakes financial fixer playing a four dimensional game of go with 3 others each vastly more powerful in worldly terms, and at least two vastly more cut throat. Always pressing her temples, always needing a time out, always wanting to just lie down…anywhere. And with Seon Jae playing together, she is alive, playful, carefree, full of laughter. While the music between them, no doubt, has a huge erotic component, a huge soulful component, it is so much more than even both combined. They are free spirits unencumbered by everything and everyone together in the music.
BE – that was beautiful!
The Hye Won’s visit.
I believe her coming alone to Sun Jae’s house changed their connection from being mostly spiritual and musical to a more physical one.
First there was that look on Hye Won‘s face, when she watched Sun Jae scrubbing the floor.
And then the hug. There they were, late at night in his apartment, just the two of them. So, when he came down the stairs and started moving closer to her, she glanced down and then sort of froze in shock. He glanced down too. But when he went in for the hug, she didn’t push him away. And I don’t think it was just her parched soul that responded: her body did too. That changed the dynamic between them: Hye Won wants to be with Sun Jae, and he knows it too. As FG mentioned, after this, there’s a sense of freedom in their interactions.
I anticipate that this situation with Sun Jae is going to be very hard on Joon-hyung.
There is pride and jealousy of a rejected man, of course.
But there is also pride and jealousy of a rejected teacher: Hye Won didn’t consider her husband good enough to teach Ji Min-woo, and now she practically stole a talented student from him for herself.
I think Hye Won didn’t want to divorce for various reasons. One is that the divorce is kind of frowned upon in SK and would diminish her social status. Also, Joon-hyung doesn’t demand ‘normal’ attributes of a marriage, like an emotional attachment, kids, etc., which totally suits Hye Won.
I find it interesting that both Da-mi and Sun Jae went after who they wanted, without reservations. The fact that Hye Won is way older and is married to Joon-hyung (who originally discovered Sun Jae and helped him escape after playing piano at the school), etc. didn’t stop Sun Jae at all.
Also, Da-mi maybe is pure or whatever, but, in addition to her violent tendencies, her ‘emotional deafness’ annoys me to no end.
They didn’t sleep together, because Sun Jae didn’t want to (she would’ve slept with him in a second). She is not an innocent, naive girl. So what did she think about his feelings for her then?
And, knowing Sun Jae for so long, how can she not see, that he would never settled into anything, especially into a calculated, emotionless relationship.
The chairman’s daughter.
I like the parallel between the two couples, suggested by Trent.
I find it ironic that while the daughter wants to love and to be loved (desperately going from one lover to another), there is no hope for her: she just doesn’t know how and whom. Hye Won, on the other hand, hit the bull’s eye without even looking.
Another thing that it’s obvious to me is that Hye Won intentionally provoked the daughter to get a promotion out of it (although she probably miscalculated the strength of the daughter’s reaction a bit). But I think Sun Jae’s presence in her life somehow started changing her attitude towards herself and the situation she is in.
I think I need to steal your section formatting idea!
I want once again, since I advocated so heavily for this show to be part of the group watch, and because I love it so much, to apologize for not being able to engage with you all more on it up to now, nor even get to my thoughts in the last post on episode four, this whole surgery recovery thing being more–one does not want to ever go through this again, and so one becomes microscopically aware of the mental effort toward healing–time consuming than I could have imagined.
I love this show so much. Just the artful mindfulness, the detail, the attention to composition on every level. Just for example the contrast between Seon Jae skipping down the stairs from his upstairs hovel to the street to start his morning jaunt toward Hye Won’s just so she can peek through the blinds upstairs and see him there and the danger of Hye Won dazed by her own feelings for Seon Jae, having to use the wall to balance herself going up the stairs in that elegantly appointed two story mansion provided her by her many machinations and compromised way of life dictated by the Seohan cheobol, the women, and the oily old patriarch who makes every woman cringe, his wily second wife play the begging sexual plaything, his daughter trip upon every note of her makjang pleading for the nod of his head in their direction, his conniving sweet talk at Hye Won grooving her into his own play, Hye Won a triple agent, almost a billiard ball to each one’s master stroking, and yet still holding on, hand against the wall climbing those dangerous steps. Is there any better metaphor for the whole story than the contrast between those two staircases?
How great Yoo Ah In! How he goes from the inarticulate, groping, clumsy, and altogether transgressive embrace and forced kiss upon Hye Won in episode three to that amazingly masculine, sweet hearted full bodied embrace of her–say what one will about Seon Jae, but the young man really does know how to embrace another, and who could possibly resist such warmth, such vital young masculinity–when after rejecting Hye Won’s open hearted invitation, and ah, Kim Hee Ae, the disappointment writ large, face, posture, the whole of her, he walks down from his loft to tiny living room floor, and so young, so male, so openly expressing his desire to lead this romantic dance between them, as her lover, her equal, her man, and wraps his arms around her in the full sweetness of his affection for her. What a scene! I can think of a hundred romantic shows from Korea and elsewhere, in which not a single loving embrace however filmed or enacted revealed such warmth, such a beguiling call to a tender response, hands and fingers touching then stretching across his back as Hye Won softens into the woman she has so long kept dormant and asleep at her center, gently awakening in the glow of it, receptive, embraced, ah, falling in love. These actors, this direction, this show: the ability to portray all this without prurience, without hyperbolic apology, with a kind of natural grace. Bravo!
And then, too, Park Hyuk Kwon, as the utterly emasculated Kang bearing witness and silently suffering in the aftermath, the moments of sheer disquiet upon returning home punctuated by the eeriness of show’s spectacularly understated yet dramatic sound track–though I suppose one suffers both in society and combat, in the simple suffering life brings everyone, worse things, as a man I can testify, how very little on earth can feel worse or more emblematic of the fundamental suffering of being alive, than first hand witnessing–always done thus, in secret, almost perversely, in hiding–and think of Seon Jae behind the curtain in episode one–discovering the other with whom one supposes a romantic propriety, even in a marriage such as theirs, in the passionate embrace of another. And for a man of approaching middle age, in the passionate embrace of such a virile, young, talented beyond his own ever potential–the skeeziness of such a quiet disquiet. I cannot help but think of Park Hyuk Kwon in his double role in Six Flying Dragons, twin brothers of particular swordplay derring do, the one especially fey and flamboyant Gil Tae Mi, the most famous swordsman in all of ancient Goryeo, or his role as assistant to King Sejong in A Deep Rooted Tree, or as the conniving noble in Nokdu Flower. Park has a knack for playing characters that are sometimes more than simply slightly off. i really did not take note of his work the first time I watched Secret Love Affair, but in successive watches I have really come to admire his egoless enactment of this mediocrity, Professor Kang, his interactions always so slightly uncomfortable with no matter whom he is sharing the screen, especially the almost comic chiaroscuro in scenes he shares with Kim Hey Eun, Yeong Woo, but this understated business of the cuckolded Park in the silent soliloquy of the quiet seeming hours waiting for Hye Won to return home and assuredly lie to him about where she has been–just so eloquently done.
The parallel violence of Da Mi with Teacher Baek’s spoiled daughter (who is unbeknownst to Da Mi the same young woman being sparked by her pal and Seon Jae’s, Jang Ho, sparking her for the very same reasons Da Mi resents her for–again, given the hundreds of shows in K Dramaland wherein the national internal conflict and ambiguity of the allure and disgust with the elite economic class goes on, is there any better, more eloquent exposition of it than in this single example of show’s amazing little ironies–and Yeong Woo’s startling assault of Hye Won with those Mah Jongg tiles–imagine just how dangerous. And yet, from Young Woo’s perspective, given all that her patronage of Hye Won has been to Hye Won’s very real profit and advancement, isn’t her anger with Hye Won every bit as righteous as Da Mi’s is with her spoiled rich counterpart, the betrayal of it! So much more personal than the sticking of some gum on the forehead of a stranger.
And through this all, episode after episode, slowly unpealing her identity as Hye Won, Kim Hee Ae, portraying such a complex bundle of woman that is Hye Won. Manipulative, fellow feeling, self absorbed, undone, hopelessly lost, so many facets, jealous to the point of imagining in her minds eye as she sits in her car Seon Jae and Da Mi en flagrante delicto, quietly disturbed by her once youthful body now drooping as bodies will when wondering how she could possibly compete with Da Mi, who in fact has so much less to offer Seon Jae, not the least of which the soul that goes so deeply into the two of them and for which in reality Da Mi cannot possibly have any answer. The way she plays the role of Hye Won, woman of the world, till she is left alone with her pal, Ji Soo at one of their lunch dates, after Secretary Wang in her own inimitably offensive style walks off to the ladies’ room, and lets her hair down about the sorrows of youth becoming that lost ghost so many, especially when it comes to the soft core of romantic longing, lament. And then, pulling herself together when she realizes that Ji Soo has totally misconstrued her comments thinking, what a ridiculous thought, how absurd, Kang is playing around on her with some young pretty thing. Oh Hye Won, what a woman, not simply because of her virtues, her strength, but the whole bundle of her, the contradictions, the vulnerability and durability all wrapped up into one. A woman to be loved passionately. That Kim Hee Ae, what a performance!
Have I said how much I love this show. How unbelievably well I think it is put together? And the music bringing to close this episode galloping off into its future filled no doubt with drama and artistry.
I do think it’s important to remember and yet easy to forget that it was the chairman’s daughter who brought our gal into her current affluence . They were roommates in school, right?
Known each other since hs. I believe we find more about their college years later.
it might be a spoiler.
Yes, that is what I was remembering.
The chairman‘s daughter is pathetic, so most of her motivation comes from insecurity. Hye Won was more musically talented than she, and now she’s much more competent and thus more useful to her grandfather and her stepmom.
Hi eda, I’ve reformatted your spoiler tag for you because it wasn’t working before.
All you need to do to get it work correctly, is to put your spoiler in a new paragraph, and AFTER you’ve written it, then select your spoiler text by highlighting it, then click on the [+] icon in the editor. I hope that helps!
thanks, as i said i am so dumb when it comes to things like this. sorry.
be, so sorry for the suffering you are going through due to surgery, i wish we could do something more rather then just send you our sincere wishes and thoughts. recovery from surgery is many times a dark tunnel you have to pass, but know that there is light in front of you, it can be slow, but i wish you to get there sooner rather than later, and don’t loose sight of the light.
i love your comment almost as much as i love the show, and i love this drama to pieces. thank you. you have a great mind and sensitive heart, and of course a way with words.
BE – Bravo!
I have caught up this week to where you all are, and loving the discussion!! Have to say I am totally loving the music and focus on the piano in this story so far.
But what did shock me was the very physical fight between Da Mi and Seon Jae. I only started watching dramas last year and have noticed too much hitting for my comfort levels but this fight did take it further and I always wonder if it is just my personal reaction that this relationship is terrible, and is that what was intended???? When Da Mi talks about the fight to Hye Won I think I have a different lens on again. She is chatting like it is normal to do that, not my take at all.
We find out more about Da Mi later on, but we can surmise she’s an orphan, on her own in tough circumstances, but also a bit ignorant about relationships and of what they are constituted. Seon Jae up to this point has never quite seemed comfortable with Fa Mi’s physical expression at all, but he appears to tolerate her uncouth abisiveness because on some level she is his “family” and he knows her acting out occurs because she does indeed care very much about him, even though, poor young motherless child, she has no clue as to how to express it. Seon Jae for all his open honesty with Hye Won neither is able to level with her, probably because he knows quite well how much she depends upon him, nor open himself to any part of her frustrated affection. They are more like siblings really than boyfriend and girlfriend, but Da Mi is such a simple, straight forward heart filled, for me or agin’ me kind of person, she does not realize the truth of it.
Article about Yoo Ah in’s “crazy horse” acting. Of course, this is later in his career.
thanks for the article. actually in “sungkyunkwan scandal” yoo ah in’s character’s nickname is crazy horse or wild horse. i wonder if there is any connection to this .
@eda harris – Ohhhhh yeah. I had forgotten about that!
@Beez – reading this article brought that scene back – what a powerful movie. Thanks for posting it!
trent and phl1rxd, i have to go back all these days to simply thank you guys for this amazing gift – sungkyunkwan scandal. i would have never watched it without your comments. it truly felt like an elaborate vacation after all these heart breaking, brain racking dramas till now, although it dealt with a multiple very serious, interesting, thought provoking even progressive i would say ideas and topics. and i got some kind of satisfaction or resolution to the throne – watching the son of prince sado actually turning into a quite decent, even sensitive human., who would give up his own dream for a dream of another person, kim yoon hee. i don’t even know why, but it felt like “sweet revenge”.
i wish we would have this drama as one of our group watches, it has a lot of meat for all of us to chew on, i feel.
@Eda – Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a classic. There was one scene in that that literally made me gasp. A lot of talent on that drama. I am so very happy that you enjoyed it!
I think you’re almost at the point where I stopped watching last time, so I’ll be joining you next week. I’ve been reading the threads to remember it all so far and I think the question remains: why does that woman stays married to this good for nothing, mediocre man? I remember he even seemed to me like a liability for her, noone respects him at the school and they even laugh behind his back. I mean, Hye Won already has to be patient with her employer’s crap, why put up with him too?
i have the same question. and i am really, really ,really curious, how did it all happen, i mean their marriage. i know they were all classmates and all have shared interests in the music world, but did they ever fall in love, were they ever attracted to each other, were they ever intimate, did they ever even KISS? were they even close friends ever and share their innermost feelings and thoughts? and on and on. i think the show needs to have some flashbacks on that, because i am really curious, how did it get to this “arctic wind” situation? and how can they exist in it?
Please forgive me if this is considered a spoiler, but I don’t think they ever go granular in showing us the origins of that marriage. What we’ve already seen implies their respective motivation and is reinforced in future episodes. But you still have to connect the dots on your own.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t even matter. Her husband is that insignificant.
He is her connection to the Institute by marriage. But also, her respectability as a married person in that society. They are kind of a power couple, conferring upon one another bonafides. It is easy to look at them from our social mores of today, but even though show took place only 7 years ago, part of what show do devastatingly skewers is how to so-called societal norms of marriage and patriarchy, how the women in that world must play the game with no small amount of cunning they have to slather all over the sight sandwich the are being fed. Young Woo is married to a man and has kids with him, kids she is not allowed to see, a man we have yet to meet ourselves considering how much screen Young Woo has up to now masticated, regurgitated, ruminated, and set ruin upon. And she had to stay married to the fellow, who it turns out is the family consigliere. Why does Hye Won stick it out with that nebulous Mr Park.. .well divorce in 2014 in S Korea was not only problematic legally but even more problematic culturally as we will see. And adultery at the time remained a felonious offense.
this is truly scary, i was not aware of this (adultery a felonious offense? is it still today?
i do not think that her husband is the connection to the institute. i think the chairman is well aware of her capabilities and smarts and wants hw for himself, his dirty dealings and his corrupt family to exploit in whatever he needs. so she would have been in this circle regardless. and her husband is such a “nebech” (you can google this word if you do not know) and i do not know if there is anybody who actualy respects him and is on his side.
The law was stricken one year after show aired.
Thanks for the info, BE. It’s not always obvious for non Korean viewers. I should have thought of it myself though, if you consider that my (Japanese) in-laws have never been informed (by my husband) about my second marriage/divorce! 😁
o ya, i now remember that this issue does come to light at a later time (adultery), but it was so bizarre to me that i blocked it. but we’ll be definitely discussing it when it happens.
@Natalia: Was it you who was thinking of watching Love Is A Bonus Book?
Since that first episode is indeed a little off-putting, check out this OST video which perfectly captures the sweet and wholesome vibe of the rest of the show:
It’s entirely a human act to delude oneself in order to get a thing that one craves.
So we tell ourselves, “ I’m just here to talk about his schooling.” When in fact we’re there to be seduced.
It’s not admirable. But it happens all the time.
As for Da Mi, she may be the only pure character in this show. Definitely someone to be afraid of if you cross her. But utterly reliable otherwise.
@merij1 – Ohhhhh, excellent point about Da Mi! Thank you! Never thought about her in that way as I saw her merely dealing with unrequited love.
Once again we have underlined for us, as if we needed it, that musical performance for our central couple, particularly together at the keyboard, is essentially a narrative proxy for sex. (I am mildly surprised, but appreciative–since I think laying the groundwork of the relationship has been important (a different sort of “important,” obviously, than the standard rom-com)–that our show has refrained from the actual sex for this long, but given developments, I’d say it appears to be imminent…).
I think show has been constructing from almost the beginning–and certainly continued here, especially in ep. 5–an intentional mirror in the form of Seo Yeong-woo’s debauched, in-your-face conduct with her young lover(s). I expect that not only will one or more of the characters in our drama (including, possibly, Seo herself) at some point ask Hye-woo how she is any different than Yeong-woo (because of course there’s no way the “secret affair” stays secret forever, or even long, right? Joon-hyung is already on to them, and they haven’t even slept together yet); I think structurally the show is creating the mirror to interrogate the audience, so that we can reflect on what the difference is?
We’ve already brought up the transgressive nature of the relationship (I mean, that’s no great insight: a marital affair is by definition transgressive; this one is just transgressive on more than one dimension). Does it make a difference that one couple is shallow and spoiled, and the other one is deeply and spiritually moved by music? Are there other factors at play that influence the comparison? What are they?
(Sorry, I sound like a boring teacher assigning a book report here; actually, what I’m really trying to do is just get down a preliminary outline of what I want to keep in mind and think about as events unfold…).
A note about Da-mi: I’m not even a little bit surprised to find that she has claws; I expected it. And I think the foreshadowing could hardly be any more stark. She’s going to find out that the man she not only covets, but thinks of as hers is… deeply enamored with the wealthy high-class lady whose hair she washes. Hmmm. What will she do? I wonder, I wonder.
@Trent – Wow! Thanks, Trent for pointing out the mirror with Seo Yeong-woo! I never made the connection on my first watch. Very helpful.
trent, with due respect, “a narrative proxy for sex”? that sounds too simplistic to me, i could see it as a proxy but not for sex, may be proxy for “introduction of the souls” or “meeting of the souls” or even “emotional ignition”. your definition of proxy for sex (do not get me wrong, sex has it’s proper place, yes), but in this case it just goes along with the wrong title, which implies “a cheap affair”, which clearly it is not.
now, the 2 women, seo and hye-woo – one is running away from her miserable life into the arms of a young play-boy, who’s interest is her money (therapy please, urgent); the other one is opening her life, forced to face her stagnant, materially rich but loveless, emotionally empty life, and is basically left with no choice but to get “face to face with her own emotional world”, which was forsaken by her for most of her life (better later than never), i am rooting for her with all my heart. that’s a big difference and i am looking forward for the show to prove it to us.
the question of “transgressive” – basically norms imposed by society, those change with times, as humanity progresses. it is a very slow progress, and might not be accomplished in one’s lifetime, but historically it does happen (perception of abortion rights, lgbt , etc) whether you personally might agree or disagree with it. in our drama, i do not see hye-woo’s marriage as a valid marriage, there is not a scintilla of genuine warmth, affection and forget physical or any other type of attraction between her and her “good for nothing” husband. so in reality (forget the norm) how can one betray somebody, if there is NOTHING existing between these two, except may be on paper and some other people’s minds. therefore, in my book of “right and wrong” – there is no transgression as such in this case.
da-mi. i am in total disagreement with you, jj, merij1 about the character of da-mi. (what’s wrong with me today, i seem to not be able to agree with anybody, please forgive me). ok, so da-me really irks me from the beginning. she’s our boy-men’s friend, but friend in the most pure sense of this word, at least for him. i mean she does care for him, but whenever she wants to get closer to him, kiss him – he rejects her on that level, he physically pushes her away. that is definitely a message , but she does not get it or i think, she’s in denial about it. can he be more clear about it? may be, but his body language is a proof, and if she would have been more sensitive to him she would have understood it, but she seems to only care about what she wants – to have him, to marry him in the future. did she ask him, if that is what he wants also? i don’t think it even occurred to her. da-mi’s behavior in general and especially toward sj is rude, aggressive almost abusive. even sj’s mother tries to calm her down. as a future spouse i can see her beating up her husband (yeeks). and although such behavior seems to stem from her poor upbringing but also her own tendencies, i can not just excuse it. she seems to me like a “little gangster”, and for that reason i do not see any good in the future for her being an intimate partner for sj, as his character is a complete opposite, and i can not see him being turned on by her on any level, although she pushes herself onto him to no end and no consideration. i think when he himself identifies her as girlfriend, he really in his heart means “friend”, but being a female she is a GIRLfriend and that is why he clarifies that there is nothing intimate going on between them. when he forcefully grabs and kisses hye-woo in the garage, it is out of insane frustration with himself, his intense pain and at the same time PASSION that the combination of music and hw is becoming an irresistible magnet, that he can not get out of this magnetic field.
Da Mi does indeed come from a low-income background and thus appears a bit like a gangster to us. My wife and I are often put off by all the hitting that goes on in some of these k-drama families, usually from mothers to daughters or to their husbands.
But I don’t think you need to go so far into any one character’s corner in this show that you write off their transgressions. These are real people.
Even if one’s marriage is a sham, it’s still not cool to be “the other woman” who steals a young man from his girlfriend.
And Da Mi is his girlfriend. It might be more her choice than his, but she is his girlfriend.
you can steal something that another person has. does da-mi have him? (please, explain your logic) if she does not have him, how can anybody STEAL him. just because she claimed him, does not make him HERS. and on top, hw had not intention to steal anybody, it is sj who swept hw of her feet. it would be very difficult to resist in such a situation.
I am speaking from memory, but I’m fairly certain that when the show began they were boyfriend and girlfriend. You’re seeing him be entirely focused on a different woman, but Da Mi is not aware of that yet.
I know nothing about Korean culture other than what I see in these shows. So low to moderate income mothers slapping family members around could be just a KDrama trope. I’ve never seen anyone hit in a way that caused damage. It’s just presented as a thing.
you might want to revisit the show now. there is no indication until now that da-mi is a girlfriend as a concept that we have of a girl-friend boy friend connection, interaction. she visits him, eats at his house, but nothing really more, she never sleeps in his house or with him, he does not allow her to even kiss him. do you really consider it as his woman? they are long-time friends, yes, just like his other friend, they are a trio.
It may be a trope that is more prevalent among lower- and middle-income families (and I’m entirely unqualified to say to what extent that reflects a truth about the society, or a stereotype being furthered by writers and producers), but several of us were commenting (disapprovingly) recently about a professional class/highly educated example of a GF physically beating on her BF:
I don’t know, if this could be considered a spoiler, but I don’t remember Joon-hyung ever touching Hye Won, when they are alone: neither affectionately nor angrily.
Just jumping in here to quickly say that Da Mi is indeed Sun Jae’s girlfriend.
He himself refers to Da Mi as his girlfriend, in this set of episodes. Given how much he likes Hye Won, I’m sure that if it was untrue that Da Mi was his girlfriend, he would have said so to Hye Won, instead of simply saying that he hasn’t slept with Da Mi.
in my reply to trent, i explained why i think she is not a girlfriend in sj’s mind, although i agree he refers to her as his girlfriend, but i think we need to examine the whole picture.
I think the important thing to remember here, is that Sun Jae has granted Da Mi the label of his girlfriend, whether that was her initiative, or his. And in granting her that label, ie, he acknowledges it and it’s not just in Da Mi’s imagination, then there is an obligation on Sun Jae’s part to accord her with the respect and privileges one would expect from a boyfriend. He does not, clearly, but the fact remains that he has allowed Da Mi to be his girlfriend, and that is a troublesome piece of information that we will have to deal with, as we consider his attraction and devotion to Hye Won. I believe that Show does this on purpose, however, so it’s a feature, not a bug, as they say.
agree with his definition of “girlfriend”, but what i mean is that we should look at his actions, not the word. does it in any way show that she has been and is his girlfriend in a romantic sort of way?
in addition, being a girlfriend, especially at this young age, is not a marriage, not a contract. a commitment you say? i am not sure sj is there with da-mi. at this time in human existence, girlfriends and boyfriends are changed often, whether you like it or not, it’s a fact. so i truly do not understand the idea here of ” not cool to be “the other woman” who steals a young man from his girlfriend.” i think it’s the first time in sj’s life that he is romantically attracted to a woman, and it’s powerful and undeniable. i cannot blame him for that. at the same time hw went through her entire life, 40 years of it, without being really romantically involved with anybody, she’s hardly this kind of woman that steals a man. she finally has a chance to FEEL, how can anybody blame her for that? isn’t she also entitled to this fundamental human experience? just because 20 years ago she married this jerk?
are you telling me that that’s how they express love or affection or attraction in korea? may be i am not immersed enough in korean culture yet, but da- mi strikes me as “way beyond” even by korean standards.
Again, I’m not making any commentary about Korean culture because I know nothing on that subject other than what kind of shows they produce.
Thus far, I’ve only seen that kind of behavior in low to moderate income families. And it’s usually the mom/wife. Whether that’s just a TV show trope, I cannot say. (In the chaebol-focused shows, the upper class families hurt each other far more severely, just not with their hands.)
For this show, I’m thinking they present Da Mi that way to emphasize the difference between the two classes that Sun Jae suddenly finds himself crossing between.
i can see that, “the difference between the two classes”, you might be right about that. finally, something we can agree about.
Allow me to jump in here and comment on ‘the Korean smack’. I watch a young man named Park Yuhwan stream from Korea. He is Park Yuchun’s (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)brother. Their mother sometimes appears on the stream and Yuhwan has often commented that his mother will give him a ‘smack’ to the head if he doesn’t act right. These folk are neither low class nor high born chaebol. I believe after so many years of watching kdrama…Koreans tend to be very physical. This can be noticed in variety shows. Just saying…😊
So enjoy everyone’s observations and interpretations of this stupendous drama. Thank you writernim and PDnim for putting it together. To say nothing about the classically great acting❗️Mostly agree with everyone. I do think that DM and SJ’s relationship is more organic than one of passion. It does seem to me that after HW comes into SJ’s life his comfortable relationship with DM changes. He doesn’t let her kiss him at his good news of getting into school. And remember he hugged first his mother telling her he loved her, then he hugged DM telling her the same and with the same amount of expression. I agree with EH that there’s wasn’t a love affair between the two, but one of convenience and familiarity. A nice reflection of HW and JH’s relationship.
@eda harris — my apologies for the delay in responding to this, I’ve been too busy to give it the attention it merits, but now that I have a few extra seconds…I’m going to respectfully push back on a couple-three points.
First, yes, their musical performances together are a proxy for sex, and after thinking about it some more, I stand by that observation. A proxy is a stand in for something else, not the precise equivalent of what it’s substituting for. You say it sounds too simplistic, it tends to cheapen the depth of their spiritual connection, and that is only true if sex is always a simple, cheap physical transaction, which I…definitely don’t agree is the case. Yes, sex can be shorn of emotion and meaning, but it can also be joyous, transcendent, spiritual and physical communion between two partners. And that’s what we observe when these two sit down to play together: emotional intimacy, spiritual communication, and (and this important) heightened physiological response–they laugh, they sigh, they gasp, they’re intensely aware of each other physically…it could hardly be more obvious. No, it is not sex itself, obviously, but it is a decent proxy, and I’m pretty sure the director intends it to be seen as such (and if not, I will just languidly intone “death of the author, doncha know?” and vaguely wave my hand).
Second, I disagree that just because there is no apparent love or affection between Hye-woo and her husband, therefore their marriage is a nullity and there is nothing to transgress upon. I think that is emphatically not the case, nor should it be. My opinion is that if we do not recognize that this relationship (between Hye-woo and Sun-jae) is fundamentally transgressive along several axes (age, marital status, class, teacher-student) then the story is stripped of a great deal of its force and depth. I don’t think the answer is to say that societal norms are always wrong if they stand in the way of True Love. I think very often norms have a legitimate or important point to their existence. I think the point of telling a story that transgresses societal norms, or breaks contractual agreements (which is, at least partly, what a marriage is), is to push us as viewers to engage in a balancing evaluation, to ask if the norm is outdated, is the benefit of the violation worth the cost, do I support the transgressor or condemn them, or at least do I understand their motivation and empathize with it, or reject it as self-serving or frivolous.
And as for Da-mi, I see that others have carried forward that discussion; I’ll just say that Sun-jae’s acknowledgment that they are boyfriend-girlfriend confers a certain obligation; he can’t simply make that claim with no consequence. And more importantly (to our future story, I suspect), Da-mi sees him as “hers” in some important sense, and whether or not he entirely agrees with that staking of her claim, or even disagrees with it, he likely knows about it and has apparently done nothing to disabuse her of the notion. No, she doesn’t have a right to “own” him, or control his life…but there is a deeper entanglement there than just friends, and it’s going to create complications, I’m pretty sure.
i guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. proxy. although english is not my first language and so i not always “feel” a word, but from what i understand proxy is something predetermined. when our two main characters play together, especially the first times , i do not believe that sex is part of their overall experience or already predetermined, especially in the FL case. powerful currents are flowing through their entire beings created by the sounds, by being next to each other and the initial experiences of being in each other’s spaces, and in the FL’s case – memories of her own musical history and connection to it. it might be very emotional, even sensual – i’ll give you that, but sensual is not sexual. actually, if there would have been presented a bed in front of them, none of them would have jumped into it, at least not yet and not there. and i can see how one knowing that it is going to become a love affair due to the title, will immediately see those highly charged with electricity scenes and label them as sex or even proxy for sex. it is the anticipation, on our side.
marriage. wow, wow! may be our definitions of marriage differ. first of all what is the reason for getting married in the first place. the most common is love accompanied by different degrees of friendship, affection, sharing of common ideas and goals and so on. do these two share it? forgive me, but i do not see it. another reason can be that a woman wants a protector, provider. is this the case here? no again. and last, marriage can be a contract between two parties, sort of like a business. but in a business situation each partner provides equal contribution. what is her husband’s contribution to this contract? does he contribute more or equal money to their bank account – NO. does he provide a higher status for her in society, also NO, i think she has more standing, respect and whatever in this higher society – she created it. does he provide at least emotional support to her as part of his contribution? seriously? for those reasons and more i do not consider this situation to be transgressive, and their marriage a marriage per say.
you say age? if the french president can be married to a woman that is 25 years older than him, (nobody scolds him for that or calls it transgression) why can’t our hye -woo afford to love a man older than her? you say it is the perception in that korean society, i say that is precisely the intent of the entire production, to make people think and may be understand the idiocy of such discrimination, because a man in korea can easily date or marry a much younger woman. i personally know quite a lot of happily married couples that a woman is much older than the man, age is just a number. i am watching now “something in the rain” by the same director, and again he explores this topic, definitely he has an issue that he wants to bring to the surface and share with us on this particular topic. and may be what he means(and i mean) that it need not to be a transgression, and it is not.(as a side note, if you would have been a korean, may be i would have understood your point of view better, but why are you adopting the korean way of looking at it and calling it a transgression? sorry, i assume that you are not a korean, but am i wrong?)
da-mi. we kind of discussed this a lot. you say :”he likely knows about it and has apparently done nothing to disabuse her of the notion”. trent, he’s a 19 year old, do you expect this kind of responsibility from him? in addition, since he in his mind does not consider her a romantic relationship, he has nothing to clarify to her more than just not permitting physical affection, like a kiss, hug – he pushes her away. body language is also a language.