Open Thread: Secret Love Affair Episodes 13 & 14

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Can you believe we are almost at the end of this journey?? Today, we have Hye Won and Sun Jae headlining our post; there are just so many layers of emotion, in this one single scene.

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 – Affair

In case you’d like to soak in the music as you read the episode notes, here’s Affair again, which I feel embodies the tone of this set of episodes quite perfectly.

Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

My thoughts

Episode 13

We are getting to the (more) difficult part of our story now, and I have to admit that it’s not easy to watch.

Essentially, it feels like the walls are closing in on Hye Won, and everyone in her world, who have always positioned themselves as allies, are now waiting for her to destroy herself, for their benefit.

The amount of stress that Hye Won’s under isn’t so apparent on her face, since she’s practiced so well, to keep a facade of calm and control.

But the way she literally falls into a dead faint, after Da Mi’s visit, is a pretty good hint at just how much stress Hye Won’s dealing with, as she tries to make sense of her world, as it threatens to crumble on her – and suffocate her in the process.

The most stomach-turning thing of all, I think, is the way Chairman Seo and Madam Han are speaking to Hye Won with such warm smiles, when in actual fact, they are banking on the assumed promise that Hye Won will take the fall for all the illegal dealings that they’ve been involved in.

It’s no wonder Hye Won looks so uncomfortable, when Chairman Seo calls her into his room, to give her “pocket money” because she’s been working so hard. That’s what he says on the surface, but isn’t this a bribe, for the – again, assumed – promise that Hye Won will quietly take the fall for him?

And Madam Han, for all her smiles and her claims to treasure Hye Won, is literally the one who tips off Da Mi, and tells Da Mi to blackmail Hye Won. Da Mi isn’t wrong, when she blurts out to Hye Won, that they are all ridiculous and disgusting.

Even Secretary Wang, gloats over the goings-on, even though she’s supposed to be Hye Won’s personal friend. She’s literally anticipating Hye Won’s fall with glee, and already studying mahjong books, in the hopes of taking Hye Won’s position, when she vacates it.

With friends like this, who needs enemies, right?

Also, it’s just that weird tick of human nature, isn’t it, that Secretary Wang chooses not to consider the possibility that if she were to take Hye Won’s place, then one day, she might be disposed of, just like they are now working to dispose of Hye Won?

It’s interesting to see that despite Sun Jae’s claims to Da Mi, Hye Won isn’t willing to let go of everything, and just run away, with Sun Jae. She’s still determined to fight, so that she can have all that she’s worked for – and Sun Jae too. That’s extremely ambitious, given what Hye Won’s up against.

Watching her, I don’t get the sense that she’s actually confident of winning this fight. She’s determined, however, to give it her best shot, and she’s willing to suffer – and have Sun Jae suffer too – in order to achieve her goal.

I feel bad for Sun Jae, because she’s essentially telling him to stay away from her, and out of her sight, for a long, unspecified period of time. She needs him to pretend that there’s nothing between them, and if we’ve learned anything about Sun Jae, it’s that this is something that would be enormously difficult for him to do.

It’s interesting to me, that in that secret meeting where Hye Won tells Sun Jae all of this, the dynamic is such that Sun Jae doesn’t easily accept Hye Won’s directive for how he should act, going forward.

I find it pretty telling, of their relationship dynamic, that Sun Jae’s able to push back, and, in his own way, confront Hye Won with the ugliness of her life.

“Can’t you just use this opportunity to get out completely?” … “What if it takes you a lifetime to get out?” Sun Jae doesn’t shy away from asking these questions, where before, he’d simply been in awe, of Hye Won’s very presence.

And now, when Hye Won attempts to defend herself, by saying, “If I were a nobody… if I weren’t the Vice President of the Art Center… if I didn’t have time or money to take care of myself… would you have liked me still?” Sun Jae doesn’t even hesitate to refute Hye Won’s implied accusation.

“Yes! I’m like a weed, who doesn’t care about that. Don’t use me as your excuse. And just worry about your own life. They say that the average lifespan is now 80 years. If you’re really unlucky… you will have to live the next 60 years without love. If you think you can do that, then go ahead.”

It says a lot, that Sun Jae’s words are able to reduce Hye Won to a defeated, “Will you stop?,” as she holds her head in her hands. The thing is, Sun Jae isn’t actually trying to bully her into submission; he’s just speaking from his heart.

I think this is another glimpse into just how precarious Hye Won’s position is, right now.

I feel that at a fundamental level, Sun Jae’s disgusted and disillusioned with the corruption that goes on at Seohan.

I believe that his offer to the cello student, to do the duet with her like she’d once asked, is Sun Jae’s way of fighting back against the system.

After all, it seems that everyone is avoiding the cello student, and not offering help, because she’s been cast aside by her department head for daring to file a complaint about instrument corruption.

By offering his help to her and her friends, who would have instantly failed without his assistance, Sun Jae’s pushing back against the system, and that, I think, gives him a sense of purpose and meaning.

Of course, this doesn’t sit right with Professor Kim (Young Woo’s sister-in-law), who gets Joon Hyung to put a stop to it. Thank goodness for Professor Jo, who appears to be successful in blocking Joon Hyung from making a fuss.

It’s interesting to me that Sun Jae texts Hye Won, and quotes her, “You said that music conquers all.”

As we enter the final stretch of the episode, and everything starts to feel like a terrible pantomime, where Hye Won and Joon Hyung pretend to be a happily married power couple, while Sun Jae plays the role of their shared protégé, it honestly doesn’t really feel like music is going to conquer all, in this moment.

Episode 14

The terrible pantomime continues, this episode, and it’s hard to watch. I can only imagine how hard it must be, for Hye Won and Sun Jae, to have to actually live through it, and keep up a reasonable level of pretense, through it all.

The entire time the interview-turned-party is going on, it’s clear to see that both Hye Won and Sun Jae are highly uncomfortable, and just doing their best to hide it. However, it’s when Sun Jae takes to the piano, on Joon Hyung’s drunken order, that it becomes clear just how messed up he feels.

The thing about music, is that it conveys so much about the person playing it. Before, Sun Jae’s music had carried life and passion to Hye Won’s ears, soaking her in it, and imbuing her with the same, as she allowed the music to wash over her.

Now, though, Sun Jae’s music carries in it, anguish, frustration and pure torture. The moment Sun Jae takes to the piano, his emotional landscape becomes laid bare, and Hye Won finally sees – feels – in a stark and very raw manner, exactly how messed up Sun Jae feels.

I believe that’s why she crumples up, sobbing, as she stands outside the piano studio, listening.

I feel like when Hye Won had first made her request to Sun Jae, about bearing with her charade with Joon Hyung, she hadn’t realized just how much it would affect Sun Jae. But now, with every note of his music relaying his agony in raw, lurid detail, she cannot help but break down, in response.

That scene in the garage, where Hye Won and Sun Jae finally have a private moment together, feels so plaintive and full of burgeoning, unspoken emotion. Hye Won looks positively stricken, as she looks at Sun Jae, and Sun Jae, in turn, looks so exhausted and sad.

I appreciate that Hye Won tries to apologize for making Sun Jae do something so terrible, but clearly, some damage has been done. Sun Jae still holds her to himself, but, importantly, he doesn’t kiss her like he usually does.

Instead, he tells her, “Please don’t make yourself look pitiful. I can’t kiss a pitiful woman.” Ack. That’s gotta sting.

The way Hye Won tearfully squeaks out, “Don’t talk like that,” we can feel just how much this kills her. The way Hye Won curls up on her own afterwards, she looks a far cry from the confident, polished, accomplished woman that we’d met, at the beginning of our story.

And the way Sun Jae eventually crumples to the ground, sobbing, outside Hye Won’s house, is so guttural; it’s like he’s trying to hold it in, but the sobs are pushing their way out anyway, against his will. There’s something so.. broken and so.. mournful, in the way that he cries.

It feels like he’s lost the thing that’s most precious to him, and in this moment, I can’t help feeling that that thing, is ultimately his innocence. He’d used to see Hye Won as a perfect goddess, and he’d used to see the world through more idealistic eyes.

And now, that’s all gone. It feels like he’s lost his perfect goddess, and his positive outlook on life, and he’s now grieving the loss. 💔

In the meantime, even though I already know that Hye Won is being carefully scripted to be the scapegoat for the Seohan family, it still turns my stomach somewhat, to see the meeting between Young Woo, Prosecutor Kim, and Madam Han.

In fact, in this scene, it would seem that it’s Young Woo, who’s always been antagonistic towards Hye Won, who’s kinda-sorta speaking up for her, when she points out that the accusations against Hye Won are false.

And, I can’t help but notice that it’s Madam Han, who’s always been so pleasantly appreciative of Hye Won, who smoothly says that it doesn’t matter whether the accusations are true or not; it just needs to stick in people’s minds.

How ironic, that when push comes to shove, Young Woo should be the one coming out looking like the one who’s more supportive of Hye Won. It’s all relative, really.

Also, I do have to love the sardonic way in which Young Woo’s husband Prosecutor Kim points out that they shouldn’t bring up Hye Won’s affair with a younger man, because no one in the Seo household can stone her for it.

HA. Exactly right, and somehow, hearing him say that out loud, and seeing the shades of sheepish shame flash across the Seo faces, gives me a rather dark sense of satisfaction.

Hye Won goes to the beauty shop to seek out Da Mi, in order to find out exactly what evidence Madam Han’s placed in Da Mi’s hands. How curious, though, that when Da Mi actually tells her what sort of evidence it is, Hye Won tells her to show it to Sun Jae. I’m rather curious as to why Hye Won says that.

Da Mi’s theory is that Hye Won had intended to thoroughly disappoint Sun Jae so that he would run away doesn’t feel quite right, in the sense that I don’t think that Hye Won actually wants to drive Sun Jae away.

Perhaps it stems from a sense of self-hatred, for all the terrible things she’s done, and what she’s become, over the years, and this is her way of laying it bare, before Sun Jae?

The way Joon Hyung tries all different angles in trying to pressure her to get arrested and take the fall like everyone wants to, is quite repulsive, honestly.

When his nicer words fail to get him anywhere, I’m rather shocked – though not exactly surprised – when Joon Hyung yells at Hye Won at home, “You should sacrifice yourself a hundred times over for me!”

Gag. The sense of entitlement is so enormous; how does he even function, having to carry that around all the time? 😅😝

It does seem like it’s all getting to be too much for Hye Won, judging from the way she seeks out hard liquor at home, even after drinking wine and champagne over dinner with Joon Hyung.

Not only that, she drinks a second glass, even though it’s clear that she’d only intended to drink the one glass. It looks like it’s become so much to bear, that she requires more than a bit of alcohol, to dull the pain.

As we round off the episode, it really seems like we are on the cusp of something terrible.

Prosecutor Kim’s got people on standby, waiting to pounce the minute Hye Won and Sun Jae meet up again, and here’s Sun Jae, literally on Hye Won’s doorstep, in a moment when she’s feeling particularly exhausted and vulnerable.

Ack. I can’t look. 🙈

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

102 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
merij1
merij1
9 months ago

Gotta say, never in a million years would I have predicted that Da Mi would end up being the most hotly debated character in our group-watch discussion!

Ha. You just never know . . .

MariaF
MariaF
9 months ago
Reply to  merij1

Yep, you never know. I think it’s because we all have established from the beginning that the rich family and the husband are evil, SunJae’s is perfect, and Hye Won is complicated. Da Mi, on the other hand is ???

BE
BE
10 months ago

Episode 13:
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

“Bearing with the uncultured in gentleness,
Fording the river with resolution,
Not neglecting what is distant,
Not regarding one’s companions:
Thus one may manage to walk in the middle.”
Line 2–“Nine in the second place,” Hexagram of Peace, I Ching, Wilhelm/Baynes translation.

Our hero, Hye Won, Episode 13. Seon Jae, demanding she climb aboard that camel and somehow drive it through the needle. Her strategy, while her world collapses all around her, how she must go about it. Her one power in the world, to hold her own with the Seohan Cheobol, not just one among many, but someone utterly unrivaled.

While the first few episodes, perforce Seon Jae’s pov, the destiny of Hye Won and Seon Jae, the fait accompli, the fated serendipity of one coincidence after another bring him to her door, her piano, her soul, and her–everything she claims to him when he argues with her at her friend’s place that he denies–oh yes, indeed, she was a goddess to him for the very reasons he then claims he cares nothing about, by this point in the show, everything now feels so organic, naturally occuring.

We see both Da Mi and Hye Won, each from their own perspective, justified, but while Da Mi is absolutely correct that that punk Seon Jae, hey, he is worth worrying about, we also know just how much Hye Won worries about Seon Jae, and how in that moment, Da Mi strikes her down like a bolt of lightning, in part because Da Mi also is tunnel visioned. And meanwhile we get the first mention of the document Mme. Han has prepared on Hye Won. That is, we see where at least from her perspective, Mme. Han has a plan in mind to take Hye Won down. Does Hye Won faint from Da Mi’s protective vindictive on Seon Jae’s behalf, touching upon her guilt for getting him bound up in this horrible mess she now finds herself in, or does she faint because she sees just how the powers she has sustained with all her focus, energy, and intelligence is not only willing but desirous of her downfall, particularly the very formidable, waterboarding, fist to the testicles Lily Han? Or both, a one-two blow coming as she is already staggering in the ring? Our hero, Oh Hye Won.

Was there anything in any K Drama both more riveting and more excruciatingly tension filled than our Hye Won’s descent into Hell during this and the following episode? And yet within that in Episode 13, there is the wonderful scene of Hye Won in that black and white dress–I will say it again, is there a woman on earth who looks better in clothing than Kim Hee Ae–when she takes on and straight up chews up Prosecutor Kim, punctuated in the aftermath by another of the show’s great camera compositions, as she walks out the door to that room into darkness, Kim way back in the lit background, her face beginning to collapse, his in overwhelmed perplexity. Or how in the midst of all this, upon receiving Seon Jae’s text she in the middle of everything is so illuminated by her happiness on his behalf.
As I noted, everything now in drama feels so organic. It is a natural as dew that this crisis between Hye Won and Seon Jae, her request that he behave like a student, his growing despisal for the corruption of the Institute, which we see is not just coming from Seo Han, but the extremely maniipulative Dean Min and our Prosecutor Kim’s sister the Dean making a killing fencing second rate instruments to her students, brings him to his cello playing fellow student and her friends, and in the midst of all this, he finds the fun of playing music, of being young, of having young pals, who not only get him, but admire him for who he is as an artist.

Then we get another small dose of Kim Chang Wan’s Dean Min. The character is almost Shakespearean, how he whispers in the ear of –talk about someone deciding to take the bullet train instead of the hand cart to Hell–Professor Kang. The man is positively disgusting, and it appears, for no other reason than his own entertainment. Yes he is allied with Mme. Han, and as the course of the show progresses, one begins to wonder along with Young Woo, what is it about those two that we do not know. But even if that is merely an alliance for the sake of power, Dean Min is the kind of guy who apparently gets his kicks out of pulling the legs off of insects, and doing so by proxy! What a creep. One can at least say of Secretary Wang, she is infected by the same disease that Hye Won once was and seemingly still is, a desire to become a member of the upper class, but Dean Min, the man is cruel for entertainment purposes it seems. When I first saw this show, I was somewhat underwhelmed by his performance, but this time around, I am simply amazed at how Kim Chang Wan plays this role with such understated but obvious relish. Whatta creep!

An aside–the issue of Hye Won and class in SLA: I cannot think of a show of any value in K Drama land, historical, contemporary, suspense, rom com, slice of life, in which the issue of class comes up. Indeed one of the fascinating things of being someone not from South Korea watching these shows is the love/hate relationship they have with the upper classes, the longing to be a part of such, with all its accouterments of luxury–my goodness, doesn’t Kim Hee Ae look great in all those outfits–and yet the acknowledgment that such wealth rests on the back of injustice and corruption with real human upshot. By making Hye Won so compelling a protagonist, and in part compelling because of her skills, powers, intelligence as a woman making her way amidst such corruption, show presents this fundamental South Korean conundrum better to me than in any other show I have seen. I care about Hye Won’s soul, and I love that Seon Jae loves her so much that he demands of her that she not lose her soul forever in the grip of this conundrum, even though he himself has also fallen, despite what he says, to the temptations that wealth might provide him.

Episode 14
Again, we can see how show runners are making use of the two episode week in these two episodes. Everything in episode thirteen is perfectly scripted, held under wraps with great directorial restraint. Episode fourteen, the entire world of the show collapses under its own weight.
We see in Episode 13, already Professor Kang commanding Hye Won to dress Seon Jae in his clothing like a puppet, like a little doll; we know that Dean Min has planned this all–not just Hye Won’s embarrassment, but he seems to also get a kick out of playing Professor Kang like a two bit fiddle to his own downfall as well.
But all that said, the set up to the interview, the interview, the post interview, the farewell party moved to their residence after–watching Hye Won descend, step by step by step into hell, to watch our virile, masculine, youthful Seon Jae utterly emasculated for Kang’s revenge, his slimy bid for power, his utterly despicable love of appearances so strikingly presented against the show’s entire impulse toward substance; the farewell, Seon Jae having to take the drunken Kang to his couch, the echoes of Hye Won on the couch in the rehearsal room, the legs sprawling; the confrontation in the garage, another echo, Seon Jae collapsing against the wall. And yet, again, all of this makjang seems so organic, because yes, Hye Won, overestimated her ability to deal…the hole in her soul, the wound, Seon Jae has uncovered.

The heartbreak of the Goddess become such a little star, twinkle, twinkle little star–how I wonder where you are. Seon Jae actually, imo, more heart broken on her behalf, that she allowed herself to be used thus, than on his own. Imo, he is thinking as he embraces her–you are ashamed?! why should you be ashamed? these people who are doing this to you, your effing, drunken, phony punk of a husband, doing this to you. Do not make yourself pitiful before me. I will not kiss you if you are pitiful. You are Hye Won, my love.
I get this from the warmth of his embrace of her. It seems cold to her and to the audience, but Seon Jae really loves Hye Won, really knows her soul, and knows she has to put herself together. 20 years old–what a man! And of course, all that it took to bury his own discomfort, to be the strong one, collapses in front of the wall. This show is about love, the real thing–its greatness over the simple rom com fantasy, the complexity, the blood, the guts, the heart and the soul–among other things, how much the main characters love one another. At times on the surface it appears one or the other is being distant, but in fact, it is because he or she is putting the other before self. Get a grip Hye Won–you are hardly pitiful.

She is not a crazy bastard. She is normal. But she wants to be a crazy bastard.

Oh yes, Mme Han predicts correctly that Hye Won will not resist being with Seon Jae again soon, but my money is on the two of them, not her, because she is basing her pov on her narrow and corrupt cynicism. Hye Won and Seon Jae, they are in an entirely different league. I am happy to see him there, letting her know, she is hardly pitiful, and let’s go for a ride tonight together again. These two, what an amazing character study.

BE
BE
10 months ago
Reply to  BE

To clarify: I have not seen a serious KDrama land show in which the national love hate obsession with the upper class has been left out. It is there in every sageuk, suspense drama, love story, comedy, slice of life drama, sci fi, dystopian fantasy–it is the fundamental theme of K Drama and film (see Parasite, see Squid Games). And this is why I would rather leave off judging Hye Won and instead take her as she comes. When a whole nation is dissatisfied, resentful, and envious about the nature of wealth, I see Hye Won as someone in which that conundrum becomes sympathetically embodied. We admire Hye Won, the modern woman, the strong, smart, capable, elegant modern woman for who she is, and we pity her for the cost she has had to pay to become that. Patriarchy, class, show is about those things too.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  BE

i became so koreanized in this last pandemic era, it’s not even funny. and that is before i became that koreanized, i had no knowledge or interest whatsoever about korea or it’s people. and now i almost live in their world and they live in me.
there was never a time that i was waiting for your thoughts, BE, like this time. you did chew it all up for us and fed it to us with a spoon. thank you, it just clarified, solidified and flooded with light the entire korean society, and hw and sj being a product and part of it. what else can anybody add?!

BE
BE
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Thanks. I feel terrible for having chimed in so late with this show, which as you can see is one of my very favorites, the likes of which I could not have possibly ever imagined anyone having the courage to put into a television series, much less one that turned out to be quite successful. I hope to finish it off with more punctuality. But I am sure given how each of us sees show from a different frame of reference, there is way more to add. Everyone here has gotten me to think about Da Mi for example. And certainly someone must have something to say about the ridiculous (silk?) jammies, silk robe, and (silk?) scarf, our well coiffed, sulky Chairman has left home for jail in. Or how Young Woo worries about youth.

LaVieEstBelle22
LaVieEstBelle22
9 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

Ditto

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

On the class thing, I wonder if that’s part of the explanation for Da Mi eliciting such disparate reactions from us.

Obviously I’m going out on a weak limb here, and most likely conflating this discussion with other thoughts that have been rumbling through my brain this last year.

But is it not plausible that we bring the same systemic class biases to our TV viewing that we are taught IRL?

Take family violence, for example. In my world, family members do not strike one another. Or, at least, when they do, it’s considered a serious problem.

So when I see a lower-income character on a K-drama regularly striking her sons, daughters or husband on the head, it hits a nerve. I’m willing to go so far as to say that I look down on it.

But compare that type of violence with the assaults so-called upper class chaebol family members typically inflict on one another in these shows.

With the chaebols, it’s usually not physical violence (other than the occasional murder!) yet compared to a disciplinary slap on the head, it’s actually considerably more damaging and the intent is clearly evil.

So how do I compare these two forms of violence?

With the chaebols, I suspect I tend to discount the behavior as contrived TV fiction and not a real thing. Whereas with the other, I think I’m more judgmental, as if this were a real family I were observing.

Back to the point with SLA: which is worse, Da Mi giving a snotty upper class woman a beat-down, with no lasting (physical) damage, or the non-physical violence we see these horrible people “at the top” committing against others, including vulnerable students at the school?

Are these even remotely comparable acts?

Last edited 9 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  merij1

i think our problem really is that we are judging everything through our own brain filters, everything we accumulated there – our memories, our associations, our overall experiences. and these are no question different from those of the korean people, or chinese, or any other part of this planet. we are evaluating it while walking in our own shoes, and not theirs. so this leads us to misunderstandings.

Leslie
Leslie
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – I swooned over your reflections. I have not been able to rewatch SLA so close to my original viewing this past January (still reverberate from its emotional punch), but I peek at these threads now and again. It is my favorite drama (don’t tell inched-out-by-a-hair My Mister ), and your words captured a big chunk of the why. The love, the love, “the real thing–its greatness over the simple rom com fantasy, the complexity, the blood, the guts, the heart and the soul–among other things, how much the main characters love one another.” Thank you! How lucky that I’ll have the magnificent resources of these threads to keep me company when I, refortified, watch SLA again.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago

 i do not see hw as shallow or her world shallow in any way. 

@eda_harris . As a woman, you may or may not be able to grasp how strong a crush I have on Hye Won.

She is simply . . . splendid.

However, she is also a criminal. She spends most of her waking moments helping dishonest, vile pigf___ers abuse a public charity for private enrichment. Or debase her music school’s admission process for bribes.

That she prostitutes herself in this way is not admirable. Not to me and certainly not to her.

These three lower class people she encounters — SJ, Da Mi and the angry waitress — have nothing. Yet they are miles above her in terms of personal integrity.

To deeply love and admire this remarkable woman, you don’t need to look away from her flaws. That’s totally unnecessary.

She allowed her integrity to slip, year by year, in service to that demon “at the top.” Thanks to the wakeup call these encounters are creating for her, she’s finally facing it head-on.

To me, that’s far more admirable than being a perfect person who was never tempted in the first place.

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

all you said is right. except… da-mi’s personal integrity? what!? really?! we must be living in different worlds then. reevaluate.
“To deeply love and admire this remarkable woman, you don’t need to look away from her flaws.” a 100%. i get it, intellectually, and yet, she shines so bright, that it truly blinds me, i admit, i confess. and the acting mixed with the character itself, i am lost and am not able to see the separation of these two concepts, it meshes itself in one gigantic sun-like mass, powerful, engaging, all consuming, and i am lost in it. that is how i feel, and may be ,(no, not may be) this prevents me from having negative feelings about her – that’s how good this actress is. i feel sorry for hw, but at the same time i am rooting for her and her awakening process. and somehow i feel that is what the director and the production wanted us to feel. i might be mistaken, this is a tricky question for me. but i can’t help it, i love hw, and when i love i forgive. may be it’s just me.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

i get it, intellectually, and yet, she shines so bright, that it truly blinds me, i admit, i confess.

I totally agree. She is so magnificent, so brightly luminous, I have to consciously remind myself what she does for a living in return for that huge salary.

Even when I see her with my own eyes, offering her talents to help vile people commit vile deeds, I still tend to focus instead on how shabbily they treat her in response.

I want to see Hye Won as I believe she truly is inside, not for what she does, serving these ugly people.

That juxtaposition, right there, is the tragedy in this tale.

Luckily for her soul, SJ comes along to inspire her to save herself.

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

somebody who has such a deep understanding and ability to feel the soul of the music throughout her most adult life, must be a vessel that is able to contain it all. and that is why sj’s playing resonated with her from the very first time.

Trent
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

FWIW, I incline much more towards your take (and j3ffc’s, vis-à-vis Park Da-mi’s character). Further evidence of a gender split? Hmmm. I keep trying to get away from gender-essentialist takes, honest, but it keeps rearing its head.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yay. It’s not just a predictable gender split!

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I recognize Da Mi’s good qualities- honesty, ability to leave the gang (I’m sure it wasn’t easy), efforts to better her life, etc. On the other hand, the way she handles her relationship with SunJae’s is just… What kind of girl constantly tries to force a boy to kiss her or sleep with her?!! Also, if she felt it was necessary to talk to Hye Won, she could’ve said: ‘SunJae loves you. Leave your dealings, leave your husband and be with him’. But no. Her solution to the problem was ’Go away. SunJae will survive a broken heart. I’m a better choice for him, because I’ll clean and cook for him’. Hye Won does bad things and knows it. This one sees herself as a knight in a shining armor. Also, she is just generally annoying.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

i have to agree with you mariaf again, since there is no absolutes in this world of ours, there is no absolute evil or absolute good, there must be some redeeming qualities in this girl da-mi. although, even her leaving the gangs or deciding to go to a cosmetology school is really not from her own personal striving to better herself and understanding the value of it for her own development, but rather something that would make her a better presentation to be sj’s wife. she’s still talking about becoming his wife, even that he told her that she’s not his woman.

s

MariaF
MariaF
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Yes, SunJae did serve as a catalyst for her change, pretty much the same way he helped Hye Won to see the error of her ways. I think it’s true for a lot of people: getting into certain situations or meeting certain people prompt them to re-evaluate and change their lives. But we have to give credit to Da Mi that she recognized the preciousness of SunJae and followed him, rather then falling for some gang member and even possibly ending up in prison.

eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

 But we have to give credit to Da Mi that she recognized the preciousness of SunJae and followed him. i’ll give her that.

BE
BE
9 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

You overlook that she has been given this document of Hye Won’s illegal doings. Hye Won is involved in high level white collar crime. That is why she comes to her in her office.

MariaF
MariaF
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

You are correct, she was shocked and disgusted by what she saw in those documents. But I still think that the right thing for her to do was to show SunJae the documents and to try to persuade him to leave Hye Won. Ok, it wouldn’t be right, but at least understandable, if Da Mi went to the office and told Hye Won to stop her dirty dealings, if she cared about SunJae and wanted to be with him. But going to Hye Won’s office, singing her own praises and bringing up a possibility of their marriage, because love doesn’t last, is unacceptable to me. It’s just nuts.

BE
BE
9 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

I don’t know; what is she? 20 years old? I just find Da Mi’s behavior true to that kind of character. Like I said elsewhere, I find her, much like Hye Won finds her, as somewhat touching in her concern for Seon Jae, while at the same time impossible for her to deal with and having the right to deflect her on “this is my workplace.”
Let me say, there are people in my life that I would be ruthless about protecting.
I will repeat this: Mme. Han waterboarded in a toilet her step daughter! Now that is offensive behavior. The problem for Da Mi is that same woman is playing her to mess with Hye Won.
I really have no difficulty, zero, none whatsoever, with Da Mi’s character. She is an orphan. A street kid, who is trying to make something of her life, someone who has a sense of her own dignity and right and wrong–oh ho, I would be happy about someone I have been in love with for years hooking up with someone twice her age who is an embezzler. Especially when you can read her face when confronted by Seon Jae’s upset over it. She sees he really is in love with Hye Won and she changes. Okay then I will believe it if she drops it all and comes to you.

j3ffc
j3ffc
10 months ago

In thinking about this talented cast, I kept coming back to Da Mi, which is one of the more complex and interesting characters in the drama. I looked her up, and found that she is played by Kyung Soo-jin, who also played the Polar Opposite role of the troubled gymnast in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. I am so surprised that I have not ruled out IMDB lying to me on this point. Either way, a terrific performance.
Also great appreciation for the character of Jo In-Seo, who shows that there are decent and caring professors, even in this challenging drama world.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Complex or not, Da Mi is definitely the most annoying character in this show (as far as I’m concerned).

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

i am totally with you on that, mariaf. i got an “allergic reaction” to her from the get go. and now, in this episode, after spewing her venom on hw, she sort of admitted that she knows she’s not sj’s woman, but yet continues to say that marriage does not have to be a love relationship, but can be a companioship or business relationship (i do not remember exactly her words and have ZERO DESIRE to rewatch this nastiness), but basically she tells hw “get lost with YOUR LOVE, just let me have sj, i would be a better choice for him”. what a nerve this girl has, she does not get it, that she and sj are from different galactic systems, and there is not even a space rocket that can bring her to him. she plays it as if she is his good friend, but in reality underneath it all, she wants him for herself. and going behind sj’s back to try to force hw to give up on sj and get out of his life, that’s just betrayal of her best friend, because that is not what sj wants. i can’t stand this character and am not very impressed with her acting skills either, but opposite you ah in and kim hee-ae – anybody would pale. although the rest of the cast is pretty strong.

j3ffc
j3ffc
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Well, as they say, “your mileage may vary”! 😉 Certainly not an appealing character but IMHO well-played with what the writer gave her. I might have been overly impressed by the difference between her character here and the one in Weightlifting Fairy (also not a very appealing character, but in a different way).

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

And thank G-d for ‘your mileage may vary’! Imagine if we all thought the same.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Totally agree. ‘Allergic reaction’ is exactly what I get from seeing Da Mi. She sees herself as some kind of crusader for fairness and truth, but what I see is a bully. She even managed to ruin the fling between ’Justin’ and that nasty girl from school. Sure, it wasn’t a healthy relationship, but nobody was getting hurt there. It wasn’t her business. And her pretending to be a good friend to SunJae. If you are concerned about your friend, talk to him, don’t go and blackmail and humiliate his girlfriend. Also, a girl of her age (very young) shouldn’t be viewing marriage as some kind of a business transaction! I also agree that the actress is not great. I think that lack of nuance in her acting made her character even worse.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

bingo.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

It’s interesting that the two of you have such a strong reaction to her. I didn’t feel any of that at all.

I thought her role was to be an added catalyst for Hye Won’s epiphany about her own life choices.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

she could have been a catalyst without making me feel like a rodhesian ridgeback dog – you know the dogs that have a line going all the way along it’s spine, where the hair on that line grows in the opposite direction from the rest of the dogs coat. so i feel that i suddenly grow hair on MY spine just like this going in the wrong direction when i have to deal with da-mi and her vile innuendos. gross.
but may be you do not feel this way because you are not a woman, you know we have different sensitivities, especially to women that embarrass us, flaunting character deficiencies, big time. mariaf said it right, she’s a bully and a thug, even that she gave up her gangster past. her character could have been done in a different way, she really does not fit to be sj’s friend. that’s what i feel.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I love ridgebacks. They’re great dogs. Quite large yet happy to live in a very small space.

But I digress.

Do you think part of the problem with Da Mi is that you guys see her as an impediment to the OTP? And thus as an enemy?

It’s not whether you like her that surprises me. It’s the degree of heat you feel.

There are so many unlikable characters in the show that I would think to mention before her.

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

I can’t speak for Edda harris, but my negative feelings towards Da Mi have nothing to do with Hye Won and SunJae’s relationship. I just can’t stand this kind of personality: clingy, violent, simplistic, among other things. 🤮.
By the way, while Hye Won’s age insecurities are well explored, we can only imagine how Da Mi feels about losing her boy to that old bag!

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Ha. Yes that had to hurt.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

yes, you are right, it is a pretty severe reaction, to say the least. but not an enemy. it’s her character that i can not stomach (and i do not find her a very nuanced actress, as mariaf pointed out) her acting is very one-dimensional, same vibration i feel from her, same color, same intensity, not enough depth. probably green, not ripe. and she’s all bad, nasty, nothing positive i can find in her. i would even consider her the one failure in this whole amazing production. but in terms of “impediment to OTP”, I would not go that far, she’s just a thorn in sj’s back. he is trying not to hurt her, but he knows what he feels and what he wants, he’s a very strong character, and beautiful. somebody like da-mi can not shake his foundation, although annoying. he’s also very loyal.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

See, I was thinking she was supposed to appear crude and lacking in nuance. Part of her role in the show is to give us a sense of the world that SJ comes from. So we understand how different HW would be from anyone he has encountered before.

But I don’t think they meant her to be dislikable. So I guess that was a fail.

I thought SJ, her and the angry waitress were supposed to serve as a mirror for HW, showing her how shallow her own world was by comparison, particularly its obsession with money and status.

By comparison to HW and her world, these three lower-income people have nothing. And yet are true to themselves in a way HW can barely remember.

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

so da-me’s true to bullying is an accomplishment? for whom, for her, for us, for her friends, for sj? and i do not see hw as shallow or her world shallow in any way. this is a highly educated, sophisticated, intelligent, goal-oriented (although you might disagree with her goal in life), with an incredible sense of fashion and design, artistic sense and appreciation of arts in general (look at all the russian painters on the walls and i do not think she buys them purely for investment for herself, although she educates her bosses what is valuable). i can rattle off a whole bunch of the richness of hw’s character and the delivery of it by the actress.
but may be you are right in that da-mi’s character is a description of the crude world that sj is coming from, but still not to that degree and not the way this actress is bringing it to us.
but may be it’s also to show that sj in spite of this world, has something within him, a gift if you will, not just for music, but life in general, and through music perception of true beauty in his world as well as outer world and being able to find it and utilize it within himself intuitively with the highest degree of sensitivity. and of course nobody but you ah in can deliver it with such depth and emotional intelligence.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I replied up top!

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I also don’t see HW’s world as shallow. However, for me whether HW is shallow herself is up for a discussion. Merriam-Webster dictionary gives this example of using this word in a sentence:
“She is only interested in shallow [=superficial] things like clothes and money.”
Educated, sophisticated, intelligent, goal-oriented people can sometimes be shallow too. 

But we have to give it to Da Mi (considering how she went after SJ): she definitely has good taste in men. And that nasty girl from the school apparently liked SJ too, despite him being always rude to her.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

I elaborated on top.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

“Educated, sophisticated, intelligent, goal-oriented people can sometimes be shallow too.” i would say, hardly. if someone’s world is that complex, multi-dimensional, worldly , it’s hard to see it as a person being shallow. may be emotional-shallow, but even that is unlikely, especially people involved in the arts. somewhere BE in his comments said about that, arts creates a special sensitivity in one’s perception of the world and inner recognition. hw is an accomplished musician, that by itself would not allow her to stay on the surface (shallow). but somehow she compartmentalized the beauty and the dirt, without dwelling on either of them, and only sj’s music and then he himself started the process of her awakening.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

but somehow she compartmentalized the beauty and the dirt

Yes. This is what we all do.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

omg, this is a weird remark. do we? depends on your state of awareness, level of consciousness. somehow i can not agree with you on “we all do”, sorry. there are people like that, and probably more then i care to admit, but there is also the other side of the coin, so not all do THAT. you know, duality of this life in everything.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I definitely think we all compartmentalize. It’s a natural response to reduce cognitive dissonance.

The difference across the bell curve is that some of us try not to.

I’m amazed by how powerfully this self-deception can play out. Pedophiles and their unshakably supportive spouses, to take the most extreme example. Or Bill Cosby, who probably really believed he was a good man, even as that compartmentalized part of himself plotted the script for his next rape victim.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

hmmm. you are taking extreme examples, but i think i understand where you are coming from.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I mention the extreme cases to underscore just how ridiculously powerful our minds can be at self-deception.

For most of us, cognitive dissonance is more along the lines of reconciling “I’m a good person” with “I just did that not-very-good thing.”

But in so many other ways, our minds are profoundly unreliable. Understanding these inherent flaws is even more important if you’re smart and often correct, lest you become complacent.

You’ve probably read stuff about how surprisingly unreliable witness memory is in a courtroom situation. But our flaws are so much worse than faulty memory.

These links were worth my time. For the longer but excellent Daily Beast article, I’m pasting the link to a Google cache, since they have a firewall.

Most of the brain can’t distinguish fact from fiction:
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/most-of-the-mind-can-t-tell-fact-from-fiction?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Being powerful for years stunts your ability to read other people accurately:
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/power-causes-brain-damage?utm_source=pocket-newtab

We’re highly susceptible to “big lies” because we’re taught to accept so many of them as children:
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:uYqFK2nq52MJ:https://www.thedailybeast.com/six-months-after-the-capitol-riots-we-still-wont-admit-why-so-many-people-believe-the-big-lie+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

how ridiculously powerful our minds can be at self-deception. this is a can of worms that i think this platform is too narrow and not conducive to such a discussion. but i thank you for the material you included here, i will definitely check it out. thanks.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

I wouldn’t be surprised, if creators of the show wanted the audience to see Da Mi your way. But whatever they did didn’t work for us.

Interestingly enough, the actress expected her character and SunJae to end up together. In her interview she said : “I was set on the image of a future marriage between Park Dami and Lee Sun Jae whose love for Oh Hye Won didn’t last forever”
She also said that while she was happy of shooting “SLA”, she didn’t enjoy it, because working with experienced actors was quite intimidating.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

if that’s what the actress expected, then she did not understand sj’s character, personality, emotions, his whole inner world – his ESSENCE, that might explain the misjudgment of her own character and a somewhat missed opportunity in bringing da-mi to us. but i mainly put the responsibility for that on the writer.
and although i understand the “intimidating” factor, she should have used it as a great opportunity and a learning lesson – she truly had in front of her the best in the industry, and i am talking the whole production.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Agree, but I think the director should also share the blame. He could’ve given the actress a nudge in the right direction.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

agree.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

and you know what, probably casting also. i feel another actress might have interpreted it in a different way. i always believe that there is no exclusive bad, there must be some positive (lacking here).

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Absolutely! A different actress could have brought something to the show, instead of making some of the viewers “feel like a rodhesian ridgeback dog” every time they see her on the screen.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Interesting. So this was one of those shows where the actors are not told more than they need to know for any given scene. Or at least minor characters weren’t.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

Looks like it. Although Da Mi definitely speaks a lot for a minor character.

j3ffc
j3ffc
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Not sure where to reply, so I hope you all see it here, but thanks to MariaF, eda harris, and MeriJ1 for quite a robust discussion! I was fascinated to see how this character and performance resonated differently to you all.

This is what group watch is all about.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I don’t know what got into me to take such a risk pushing back that hard. I must have been high.

Thanks to EH and MF for indulging me!

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

welcome my friend! a good discussion, good argument is worth a shot of sake or glass of kirin bear, especially when there is no danger of “bloody noses” (we are too far from each other). but i do encourage you to push back, ALWAYS, if you have different thoughts on an issue. thanks.
so in the spirit of discussion, i was still thinking about it, and i thought that hw did all of it or most of it under the instructions of the chairman, chairwoman and their obnoxious daughter/step-daughter, and the money went to them, not hw. she got paid for it by them, (like a salary, that’s my understanding) so you can say she benefited from it, but doesn’t it mitigate somewhat? also, i think somewhere i understood that she did it to have more funds to promote talented students like sj, so somehow she justified it . also, at some point i remember, she objected to taking on students of influential people or bribes. does anybody remember what episode it was, or even was it or it’s just my wishful thinking?
of course, she’s still guilty.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Yes these are my recollection also. She did not receive a split from the schemes, per se. They just paid her a huge salary.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

sorry to drag you into this again (but isn’t it kind of like sitting down in somebodies living room with a cup of coffee or tea, and have a real discussion?), but i am really curious, does this fact soften your stand on it, does it make any difference at all for you?

merij1
merij1
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Yes, of course it changes me.

For me, dialogue is a means of knowing. If I only talk to people who agree with my current POV, my understanding of the world becomes sluggish. (Especially so for politics, leading to group-think AKA echo chamber.)

It’s only when I have to explain my beliefs to someone who disagrees with them that I’m forced to examine the flaws in my thinking . . . and consider the kernels of truth in their counter-arguments.

This is my biggest regret and fear about the current state of politics. How can we find our collective way if we stop listening to one another?

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  merij1

i soooooooooooooo agree with you, especially in politics (i have to confess again, i am a political junkie, and my husband is an elected official (a good one, i swear). i am trying though to keep politics out of this group discussion, there are probably people with totally different ideas, yet smart enough and sensitive enough to be able to agree on other things. and i intend to keep it this way, i mean out of politics, at least outwardly. it can not be any good in this format, i am afraid.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Yes. Let’s keep politics out of this discussion. Although it’s sad that mere discussing politics now becomes a poisonous pill. It says something about our state of affairs…
Anyway, Hye Won is complicated and talented, but her goals in life are goals of a shallow person. Before meeting SunJae, Hye Won’s main issue was not doing bad things, but the fact that she was treated like sh*** by the very people who relied on her for practically everything (especially business related). I’m not sure whether she was compartmentalizing or just didn’t care, as long as her dealings were taking her where she wanted to go.

BE
BE
9 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Really? More annoying than Dean Min? Teacher Baek? Teacher Baek’s daughter? Secretary Wang? More annoying than Professor Kang? More annoying than Dean Kim? These people are really annoying. And we have not begun to speak of the Seo Han women, Young Woo’s penchant for screaming, pissing, and moaning–talk about annoying, Mme. Han’s viciously hypocritical mugging, makes the skin crawl.

Da Mi at her worst is just someone who is full of a young person’s sense of foolish self righteousness.I would say she is a very understandable if tunnel visioned at times young woman. I am with Hye Won when it comes to takes on Da Mi, insofar as valuing Seon Jae and being overly protective of him.

As far as her throwing herself at Seon Jae, I wish I could say, I never threw myself at a woman, but I’d be lying if I said so. Or as one movie character once said, “the heart is an involuntary muscle.” If there were one thing most human beings make mistakes about–deluded love has to be near if not at the top of the list. Da Mi is young enough to live and learn.

eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

yes, BE, all the ones you rattled off here are beyond disgusting, elaborately disgusting, and no questions about it (but they are hardly directly involved in the love story itself). korean dramas as well as life itself are full with such scum, sadly, as part of human nature, but this drama in particular is mainly about a LOVE STORY, i think we agree on that, love so deep, so penetrating, so overwhelming and conquering… i have read and saw in movies a lot of love stories, and experienced myself, but this one truly holds the record in my book of life. i look at this strictly from this perspective when i talk about da-mi’s character, as she is part of the triangle, part of this LOVE STORY. when she wants to show sj the dirty report on hw, he refuses to see it, not because he wants to close his eyes on it, but because he loves hw NO MATTER WHAT. although her part in the drama only enforces our understanding of the depth of sj’s and hw’s love for each other, the way she’s portrayed is way too disgusting, from the lowest level possible, as a woman, or may be a human, it’s embarrassing and degrading, that is why i have such a visceral reaction to her, it is a “guttural” reaction if you will.

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

the way [Da Mi’s] portrayed is way too disgusting, from the lowest level possible

I just don’t see that.

Da Mi has two motivations here, neither of which I would describe as disgusting:

First, she’s competing for SJ’s love and wants to win. That’s not altruistic, but it’s also not dishonorable. It only seems that way if you look at it from our perspective as TV viewers, where the OTP between WH and SJ has the golden shimmer of destiny and any obstacle to it is therefore wrong.

Second, even if she were only altruistically focused on what’s best for SJ, she’s just been given hard evidence that he’s fallen in love with a serious criminal, who evidently may soon be publicly exposed. And she knows he is too blinded by his feelings to foresee how his own reputation and budding musical career might be irrevocably stained by the scandal. (Marital infidelity + age gap etc. + white collar crime exposed in a society that loves to hate the upper class)

How Da Mi deals with that intel doesn’t seem at all disgusting to me, especially for a young person. A catty person would not have started by confronting the alleged criminal and asking her to step aside to save SJ from himself. A disgusting person would gone straight to using the intel to discredit her rival with the man she loves.

Last edited 9 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  merij1

i was sincerely going to give up on discussing further da-mi’s character, otherwise we would soon need to write an encyclopedia on this subject. but merj1, it’s too tempting and so here i am again, even that i have a gazillion things to do , and i am at the computer again…
first of all , i am not talking about her motivations, but about her response to those motivations.
First, she’s competing for SJ’s love and wants to win. is sj sitting in the first row, watching who will win the gold medal,(the gold medal being his heart)? shouldn’t somebody ask sj what does he want, who does he want and why? isn’t that how it works? from the very beginning, here are a few scenes: they are driving on the scooter, she’s behind and tells him that he should kiss her. he smiles. (we understand that is not what is in his head).
later on, sj comes from school, standing with his mother and da-mi in the street, in front of their house. she jumps on him, holds him in a big hug and tries to kiss him – he tries with all his powers to push her away from him. if the roles would have been reversed, and it would have been a man jumping like this on a woman, trying to forcefully kiss her against her will – would you also excuse it? what would you consider it? or what the “me too” consider it?
another disturbing scene: she comes to the house of his professor(at this time this is still his professor), insists at seeing him, he’s asleep, she jumps on him again, a very aggressive scene (way more intense than other scenes where koreans beat their kids, or spouses, or friends)- where she screams, beats him, scratches him in the house that is also supposed to have at least some respect. those kind of responses, are incredibly annoying to me, and i am not even talking about her attacking ms. baek’s daughter when she was leaving the salon (i am not justifying the girl’s behavior, but da-mi’s response here -her gangster past is not far in the past, at least not yet). so i am not even talking about her visit to hw’s office, there is enough to get under my skin even prior to that.
and i already told you, i do not consider da-mi to be an obstacle to hw and sj’s relationship.
 she’s competing for SJ’s love… but it’s also not dishonorable.
i will bring up also an extreme example: in ancient china (no matter the time, people are people, and emotions are emotions) the concubines, the consorts and other ladies of the court – all compete for ONE man, the emperor, for his affection, for his attention, and most of them are totally blinded by him and fall for him. if you would watch “ruyi’s royal love in the palace”, which is one of the most or may be even the most historically accurate production, it is mostly about the harem and the competition between the women to win over the man, who’s the emperor. but the most innovative dirty cruel tricks including murder that they resort to is a reaction to their motivations. would that be dishonorable? you should judge it yourself. people do all kind of dishonorable things to reach their goal, including sports, academia, pharmaceuticals, corporations… you name it, it has it.

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Ah, but the reason you don’t consider Da Mi as even a potential obstacle/competitor to the OTP is that you’re a TV viewer who knows OTP = one true pairing.

Da Mi doesn’t know that. To her, this a real life fluid situation.

eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  merij1

i can only be a spectator, i can not walk in da-mi’s shoes, or jump into this drama, you see, they missed to cast me.
the character’s are behaving as they were written, or directed, or interpreted by the actors, but we can only judge their characters from our own positions – in front of a tv screen or computer.
da-mi as the character presented to us, doesn’t know because she refuses to listen to what sj is telling her, she does not WANT to know.
and we were given plenty of reasons and explanations why da-me is not an obstacle, the love that we see here is too solid to fall apart because of somebody like da-mi.

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

you see, they missed to cast me

On a totally different subject — presumably FAR too revealing for a public venue — it would be interesting for each of us to consider which K-drama characters we identify with the most.

— either because we actually do see ourselves in that fictional character or have gone through similar experiences

— or because they represent ideal fantasy versions of who we wish we could be, or their experiences are ones we crave in our own lives

Last edited 9 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  merij1

wow, this is such an interesting idea, even more – exiting! can we venture into such a vast wild remote forest of emotions, ideas…?

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

lol! Who can stop us?

BE
BE
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I think all the people I mention are very much part of the Love Story. All those people are trying to take advantage and put screws to Hye Won over her involvement with Seon Jae. Let’s just start with oh, the other person intimately involved in all this, Professor Kang. Professor Kang is concerned about whom exactly? Is he worried about Hye Won, the way Da Mi is worried about Seon Jae? I really do not get the Da Mi reaction. She makes complete sense to me as a character, tunnel visioned, yes, immature, yes, a bit deluded about her relationship with Seon Jae, yes, but with regard to her protectiveness of Seon Jae, well, it is always a mistake to get into someone’s love business–never works out even when doing so is perceptive and accurate–but still given who she is, quite understandable. I will say it again–she’s a kid, an orphan, someone who is trying to make something of herself in a service industry in which one must deal non stop with people with an obnoxious sense of their own privilege and their insulting abuses.
Now Dean Min who sets up that interview for no other reason than he gets a kick out of watching human conflict, knowing it will really mess with Professor Kang, Hye Won, and Seon Jae–now that is so different.
I very much like Hye Won, and Da Mi is part of Hye Won’s realization that she is not living a life deserving of the kind of love Seon Jae is proffering. Hye Won herself is struggling whether she is deserving of his love.

eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

I think all the people I mention are very much part of the Love Story.
the way i see it, all these people are really not involved in this love story until the very end, and even at that time their interest in it is strictly hw, as she presents mortal danger to them NOW. they are looking for ways to take her down, her studies in us, her internship with the museum, her thesis – they are willing to distort everything just to bring her down, including her whatever is going on with sj (they are not even sure what exactly it is). her husband, the near-to-do-well, ya, i can not stand him either, but he is not part of the triangle or love story, although he is looking at it, like what would be the biggest profit for his carrier or pride(if he even has one), or life in general.
da-mi “a bit deluded about her relationship”. a bit deluded, isn’t it a bit exaggerated, i mean the girl decided that sj is HER’s, you know, she bought him, she has him in her “dowry chest”?
and how many people, men or women, make the calculation whether the other person is deserving their love when falling in love? do you think da-mi is doing this calculation, and came to a conclusion that SHE deserves his love? do you think that she is sophisticated enough to think this way. yes, she thinks she will be a better match for him (judging from her position, where she can not see higher than her nose), but that’s different than the concept of deserving.

BE
BE
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

I just do not get your animus. Yes, she is a bit deluded. Right up to recently, Seon Jae, himself, called her his girl friend. She, not Hye Won, side by side with Seon Jae poured out her heart watching Seon Jae’s mother enter the crematorium.
Carrying a torch for someone–I dunno Eda, I am a poet, and believe me folks have throughout history been much more deluded. Let’s start with, say, one of the three or so greatest poets of the 20th C, William Butler Yeats, who carried a torch for Lady Gregory for just about ever.
This is what people do, especially including young people in love for the first time, grateful for their lives being fundamentally saved by that other. She makes total sense to me, even if she is a bit deluded. Seon Jae cares enough about her to not want to lose her. And he leaves to her the responsibility, overtly, in conversation, to keep him in line remembering just where he came from.
POV–I view her from a grandfatherly perspective, having a granddaughter about 4 years older than Da Mi is in this show.
As far as the rest–Professor Kang is married to Hye Won. Married to her. Maybe you have missed out on how tortured his solitudes have been in this show, but I have not. Even if he is reprehensible, and he is reprehensible in ways Da Mi would never imagine being, he is quite intimately involved in all this. Hye Won is a married woman, twice the age of Seon Jae, his teacher, his benefactor, an embezzler, a woman utterly out of Seon Jae’s class, and someone who has earlier prevaricated when it comes to knowing Seon Jae at all–we of course see Hye Won differently, but from Da Mi’s pov–my goodness, that is a young woman I want in my corner, someone quite willing to risk her own job–cause no doubt going to Hye Won in her office broaches that risk, to protect Seon Jae.

eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

i am sort of glad that you do not have such a woman in your corner, otherwise who knows how many broken ribs and god knows what else you would have had by now. (even if you do not see it this way)
and you know what, she makes total sense to me as a character also, except i do not like and do not approve of such a character. can such a character actually exist in real life – hell yes, and worse. there are enough gangsters, thieves, sex offenders, or simply nasty people – i do not like them. just like merij1 and probably many others i am amazed that we dedicated that much thought to this character, and i understand all the excuses that were presented here, but i think we all stayed in our own corners. and that is how it usually happens, rarely can we truly change other people’s minds, forget emotions. the idea is to listen, that by itself is an accomplishment, and agree to disagree agreeably.
but in conclusion, i would like to thank all for all efforts in defending or accusing this character, who somehow took up residence in our imaginations. even in that she’s abusive. (ha, joking) it was interesting.

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Yes, it actually was interesting. Thanks to all!

merij1
merij1
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE Aigoo!

MariaF
MariaF
9 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ok. We need to stop talking about the poor girl behind her back, so this is my last comment on this:

Yes, she is to me. The people you listed are evil, greedy, conniving, etc…- take your pick. Some of them are also pretty annoying. But Da Mi takes the cake. She just gets on my nerve. And I’m not sure if it’s ‘young person’s sense of foolish self righteousness’ or what, but she is definitely full of something.

I also believe that SunJae has a somewhat similar reaction to her. Do you remember how he yelled at her “Who the hell do you think you are?!’, when he learned that she had gone to Hye Won’s office? Or how annoyed he was when she showed up at his apartment without calling him first? Or how he reacted (his facial expression) when Da Mi tried to take a picture together in his dressing room before the concert?

I’m not saying that she is terrible. I kind of disagree with EH on this. She might grow out of all this. But we’re talking about her in this show, and all I want to say when I see her is “Just go away!”.

eda harris
eda harris
9 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

da-mi, go away!!! i am done too, swear.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago

I’ve read somewhere that, while the pianist who actually played the piano as SunJae was young, the twinkle twinkle piece was played by Park Jong-hoon (Jo In-seo in the show), because the creators wanted someone with more mature style.

merij1
merij1
10 months ago

I meant to paste this back when we discussed the episode. It’s a comment I made on KFG’s original review.

In Episode 8, Sun Jae asks whether the person who purposefully humiliated his lover right in front of him is the woman “at the very top” of the vile organization she serves.

Hye Won replies, with her own rapidly growing awareness:

No, at the top is not that woman, but money . . .

But that’s not it, either. What’s really at the top is something that endlessly whispers, “you can buy anything with money.”

A demon.

Seeing her world through the eyes of this innocent young man and his girlfriend Da Mi – plus an angry waitress she’s (needlessly) tasked to bribe – our deeply compromised heroine learns that all her sacrifices to make it to the upper class were for naught.

Because at the top there’s neither safety nor happiness. Nor self-respect. Just a demon and its enthralled slaves.

Last edited 10 months ago by merij1
eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago

for most of the drama, hw treated sj HOT and COLD, COLD and HOT, which was quite confusing to say the least for us the viewers, but much more to sj. double messages in situations like this, and actually in general , are the worst, and my heart went out to sj of course, every time. as the relationship progressed, she became more considerate of sj and their connection, so her orchestrating the “love fest” with her husband in their house in sj’s presence, was probably lack of analyzing the reality and the pain it would cause to both of them, (can be understood because of the turmoil she found herself in and not being to judge sanely as she was used to in the past) but also, i believe, it stemmed from her concern for sj becoming and adulterer and thus damaging his future prospects as a genius-musician. it’s extremely painful to watch, but can not be looked at with just one eye, it’s a kaleidoscope of events and emotions. at this point, hw’s desire to ply on, to push forward with sj’s talent, is an undeniable force in her mind and heart, she can not give up on that, no matter what, all mixed with the budding love for him as a man and lover – she must protect him at all cost. i do not think she has ever been or felt that sacrificial to anybody in her life.
the nastiness, the cruelty, the poison of her entire world hw was creating for herself is on full display in these two episodes, and although we are acutely aware that she brought it on by herself to herself, i can’t help it, but feel for her, and my heart aches for “this villainess” just as much as for sj. (complicated).
and yet, the power of music and the power of true love conquers ALL (Love overcomes all obstacles – from ancient roman poet virgil). somehow i refuse to view it as the end of hw’s and sj’s love story, i believe and hope that their love is deep enough and strong enough to withstand it all together, that is what i feel. (romantic insanity? may be, may be not.) you’ve got to believe into something, in this life, why not love?

Georgia Peach
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

eh, i’ve been thinking a lot about why writer-nim wrote this series of scenes. so here’s my go. Hyewon thought she was cold blooded enough to pull it off. (oh, she has all the resolve in the world sitting at the table calmly tellin SJ how this was going to go. only when he pressed her did she begin to break and say ‘stop it’). But when she saw how uncomfortable (that’s really not an acquate word, but is there one? wasn’t YAI amazing as his discomfort grew as the evening progressed?) SunJae was… it crushed her resolve to be able to stay in control the situation. agree with what you’ve written, but i’m considering that it also allowed sunjae to show hyewon that to try to continue with the ruse that she’d proposed was impossible and that the sooner she abandoned her desire to keep her ‘position’ and him was also impossible. the intensity of his renditions of Twinkle Twinkle both expressed his total dismay, distress. anxiety…all of these and more…it also caused her to realize the futility of what she was intending.
the two most heart gripping scenes for me was sunjae ..with pleading eyes.. asking the assistant for his clothes back. how literally choked he was becoming by wearing hyewon’s ‘husband’s’ clothes. and, of course, the other is sunjae wailing at the wall. broken by the anguish he feels for HW and the utter calamity of the situation they are in.

eda harris
eda harris
10 months ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

you describe the “WHAT IS”, and i agree with that. i was more exploring the “WHY” the “WHAT IS” is happening, especially from the perspective of hw, because her suffering (regardless of whose fault it is) is just as palpable and crushing. (may be “women’s solidarity”? from my point. but not sure, pain is pain, whether a man’s or a woman’s.). actually, with every sj’s response, whether with his music or verbally or body language, he rocks hw’s determination, confidence, ability or even skill to continue with her plan to keep it all including sj and she loses her old self in it, step by step.
 wasn’t YAI amazing” – but he’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS…. amazing and beyond, every time, every production. his eyes! i can just stop the shot, and just concentrate on his eyes, so expressive. but we both know, we “worship at the feet of this master-artist, actor, human, phenomena”, aren’t we?
one more little note: ” only when he pressed her did she begin to break and say ‘stop it’ – she said stop it when he threw at her the MAIN question, would she be ok to live the rest of her life without LOVE. (now, that she tasted it). that is one of the main questions of this drama.

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

It’s painful to see SunJae’s feeling humiliated by being reduced from a ‘man and a lover’ to an outsider, a ‘family talent project’, a boy who wears adult’s clothes. I also feel for Hye Won. While cool-headed, conniving and skillful in business, she behaves like a 16 year old girl, when it comes to SunJae’s matters.

And then there is the husband. I think this is the first time he admits to SunJae that he knows about the affair.

On the other hand, both SunJae and HyeWon knew from the beginning that she was a married woman and a teacher, so this kind of situation wasn’t unexpected.

Su San
Su San
10 months ago

SO painful to watch, pure torture….UGH!

It is practically unbelievable that SJ stayed throughout the entire evening–like watching a train wreck in slow motion, it was horrifying and uncomfortable to watch. How could HW allow him to be tormented? I was so angry with her for using/abusing SJ, forcing him to see her situation in that way without any preparation. HW just walked him into the lions den, abandoned him, watched SJ get ripped to shreds and wanted to kiss him afterwards….seriously!

Strange, but this made me think of how Mozart’s father treated his children…Dad managed the royals while the kids, who had poured their heart into the music, were damaged.

Each repeated note of the theme song was like hammering the cruel reality of HW’s life into SJ’s heart. I was sobbing inside as I SJ slid down along the wall (symbolic of the insurmountable obstacles to their happiness) in inconsolable tears. Run SJ, RUN!

Building the tension in this sequence was so well done…a masterpiece.

Georgia Peach
10 months ago
Reply to  Su San

Each repeated note of the theme song was like hammering the cruel reality of HW’s life into SJ’s heart. I was sobbing inside as I SJ slid down along the wall (symbolic of the insurmountable obstacles to their happiness) in inconsolable tears.

great observation, SuSan!

Georgia Peach
10 months ago

my heart is wrenched from my body….the wailing of sunjae as he slid down that brick wall….. looking forward to everyone’s comments!

J3ffc
J3ffc
10 months ago

On the eve of our finale, wanted to share a lovely video of a recent performance of a Dvorak piano quintet. Those interested in debating the facial expressions of performers may be amused by the first violinist. Happy listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFMV63zy-Xk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFMV63zy-Xk

The tiniest spoiler that I can imagine
The third movement of this piece is played in ep 15.

JJ
JJ
10 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

– Thanks for sharing this beautiful performance. I loved the first violinist!!! Is it typical to have a viola in a quintet?

LOL! Your tiniest spoiler that you could imagine made me laugh 🙂

J3ffc
J3ffc
10 months ago
Reply to  JJ

So glad you liked the piece!

Yes, a typical quintet is a standard string quartet (two violins, cello, and viola) accompanied by a piano although other variations are also used. Which reminds me of a joke:

Q: What makes up a string quartet?
A. Four performers:

  1. A good violinist,
  2. A bad violinist,
  3. Someone who used to be a violinist, and
  4. Someone who hates all violinists.
JJ
JJ
10 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

– Thanks for sharing the details on a quintet. I guess I could have looked that up myself, but then I would have missed a funny musical joke :=)

J3ffc
J3ffc
10 months ago
Reply to  JJ

😅

Georgia Peach
10 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

j3ffc…please tell me the name of the piece sunjae played in episode 10 at 22:48. is it a continuation of the piece he started ? with NO classical background, but having heard this piece before…i so want to know the name.. thank you in advance 🙂

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

SunJae’s playing Rachmaninoff Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini Op. 43.

If I’m not mistaken, there are 24 variations,
and at 22:48 he is playing Variation 18: Andante cantabile

https://yooahinsikseekland.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/secret-love-affair-jukebox-part-4-the-scores-yoo-ah-in-plays-on-episode-9-10/

J3ffc
J3ffc
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

Thanks, MariaF!

Georgia Peach
10 months ago
Reply to  MariaF

thank you so much, MariaF. has a more lovely melody ever been written???

MariaF
MariaF
10 months ago
Reply to  Georgia Peach

It’s truly beautiful. And I’m so grateful to the writer, the director and, of course, the actors for making this show.

Hillview
Hillview
10 months ago

I was a bit of a doubter earlier on but now feel totally invested in where this show is going and really cheering our two main characters on! The tension super ratcheted up in this pair of episodes and there were so many exquisite moments. I also feel like I understand why you might want to watch this one again, there is a lot of nuance in the scenes and I think I might rewatch at some point too. The combination of the music and the emotion really draws you in. Bring on the final episodes!!