Open Thread: Heard It Through The Grapevine Episodes 9 & 10

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! We have a happy 100-day shot of our little family headlining our post today! Aw. Aren’t they sweet together? ❤️

SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

ZERO SPOILER POLICY

1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.

The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD. 

ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).

This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.

We need to protect the innocent! 😉

SPOILER ZONE

2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 9

Last episode, I’d gotten a little worried about Jung Ho and Yeon Hee treating Bom poorly, because they’d finally become cognizant that Bom might possibly do better than In Sang, thus posing a threat to In Sang’s credibility and reputation, but.. things aren’t that bad, this episode.

At least, so far they aren’t. 😅

I mean, both Jung Ho and Yeon Hee are starting to get a little terse, but so far, I don’t feel like Bom is in actual danger of being ill-treated.

I don’t know if Jung Ho and Yeon Hee will ever learn that they just can’t expect other people – specifically their children – to think and act exactly the way they want them to.

Like, In Sang and Bom show excellent levels of enthusiasm for their morning sessions with Jung Ho, both waking up early and looking so excited to engage in these lessons together. And yet, Jung Ho comes away perplexed, because their view of the world isn’t as elitist as he’d like.

In fact, I’d be more shocked at Jung Ho’s expressed views, if I didn’t already have my ironic, farcical lens on.

I’m comforted that there isn’t a whole lot that Jung Ho can do to force his views on In Sang and Bom, besides apply pressure on Teacher Park (which I trust Teacher Park to handle with shrewdness and wisdom), and raise his voice and be grumpy.

The way Teacher Park advises Bom to take note of her father-in-law’s mindset and ways of thinking, sounds like he’s giving her tips on how to manage her environment, rather than actually attempting to change her thinking.

I like that quite well. Thank you, Teacher Park!

With Yeon Hee, her dislike for Bom is leaking through her genteel facade, as Secretary Lee notes, despite her efforts to remain coolly elegant about things.

On that note, I kinda love the fact that Secretary Lee has enough influence over Yeon Hee, that she’s allowed to tell Yeon Hee things like her dislike for Bom is showing, and to be careful about it.

It makes me feel like Secretary Lee is quite powerful, within the shadow organization, and I like that Bom’s got Secretary Lee speaking up for her already. It kinda gives me the sense that Bom’s got some kind of important backer. 😁

Personally, I think that Yeon Hee’s dislike for Bom is partly to do with how she sees Bom as a threat to In Sang.

At the same time, I also think that Yeon Hee can’t help but compare herself to Bom, and the more capable Bom proves herself to be, the more conflicted Yeon Hee feels about it.

Because, a capable Bom could not only potentially make In Sang look bad, she could also make Yeon Hee herself look bad.

On top of that, I also think there’s a layer of jealousy at play.

Because Bom has youth on her side, and a woman’s fading youth is something that she cannot grab hold of, no matter how elegantly influential she is, Yeon Hee cannot help but feel jealous of Bom.

I actually feel that Yeon Hee’s conflict about Bom comes through quite clearly.

On the one hand, she hates that Bom’s so capable at such a young age, and showing such promise, but on the other hand, this very thing feels like ammunition that she can use, not only to mend the family’s reputation, but also, to brag in front of her “friends.”

In fact, I think that Yeon Hee’s primary purpose of asking to speak with Teacher Park, to ascertain whether Bom is truly that special, has less to do with Yeon Hee disliking Bom and wanting to put her down, and more to do with wanting confirmation that she could go ahead to mention Bom’s studies to her friends.

It’s just that Yeon Hee just can’t seem to help herself, when it comes to feeling jealous and wary of Bom.

But in the end, she goes ahead and casually mentions Bom’s studies to her friends anyway, because Teacher Park indicates that Bom is likely to do well.

Gosh, Yeon Hee’s “friendship” with Young Ra is something else, isn’t it? It just feels like these two hate each other, and take every opportunity to poke at each other and frustrate each other.

When Yeon Hee casual-brags about Bom studying for the legal civil service exam, Young Ra’s reaction is to go and see Jung Ho on her own, and then poke at him, saying that she doesn’t find him to have any charm, knowing that this will get back to Yeon Hee’s ears.

Gosh, it’s all so toxic!

But they continue to hang out and pretend to be friends, and I think the reason for that, is because they feel that they can’t do without each other’s networks and influence.

These frenemies can’t live with each other, but neither can they live without each other either, it seems.

And oh my, poor Jung Ho takes such a hit to his ego, when Young Ra, whom he’s (perhaps not-so-secretly) held a torch for, for a long time, remarks so pointedly, that he has no charm, in her eyes.

The way he goes home and rails at everyone, is such a power trip. Because he feels powerless after what Young Ra’s said, the only way he knows, to make himself feel better, is to take it out on In Sang and Bom, who are powerless before him.

It sucks, but that’s truly how it works, for a lot of people, I think.

I’m just glad that In Sang and Bom are so closely knit, this episode, and so united in their thinking and planning for their future.

The way they get so excited while imagining a future studying abroad together, is really cute and sweet. And it’s really heartening to see they way they vow to apply themselves, in order to make their dreams come true.

I can see why Hyun Soo is drawn to In Sang, when she sees this kind of passion and determination about him.

And, at the same time, I can see why hearing about this crush, annoys Yeon Hee so much, heh. She just doesn’t want a single thing to do with Young Ra, if she can help it, and she’s so insulted by the idea that Young Ra’s daughter would dare to have a crush on her son.

This episode, we finally get further insight into Yeon Hee’s relationship with Jung Ho, and as it turns out, their relationship isn’t quite as happy as they’d have everyone believe.

The very fact that Yeon Hee’s turning to charms, to gain Jung Ho’s attentions, tells us a lot about the state of their relationship. They may have a reasonably strong partnership on the surface, but it looks like Jung Ho hasn’t shown any intimacy towards Yeon Hee for some time.

That certainly adds more context to why Yeon Hee hates Young Ra so much (for distracting Jung Ho and taking up his affections) and is so jealous of Bom (for having a loving a husband, when Yeon Hee doesn’t have one).

That’s also why Yeon Hee is so controlling when it comes to Bom’s wardrobe selection this episode, for Jin Young’s 100-day celebration.

Notably, Yeon Hee chooses the most “neat and graceful” (read: boring and matronly) outfit for Bom, as a result of her complicated feelings towards her young and promising daughter-in-law.

Jin Ae is so sweet, to make those rice cakes for Jin Young’s 100-day celebration. It’s such a personal, homey thing to do, which is what draws everyone to those rice cakes (well, everyone except Yeon Hee, that is).

I feel bad for Bom, though, as she cries over the phone, that Mom should’ve come in to see her, if only for a while. Aw. Poor Bom. She really does miss her mom, doesn’t she?

But I do think that Jin Ae is wise to keep that distance between herself and her in-laws, at least for now.

The Han household traditional 100-day celebration is so poseur, honestly. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and sniggering at how much of a show it really is. Jung Ho preening for the camera, all puffed up on his own ego, is just hilarious. 😂

But.. when the camera pans over the names of the Han family members engraved at the concert hall, it suddenly becomes clear that while spouses’ names have been included in previous generations, Bom’s name is missing.

My gut says that In Sang’s going to make a big issue out of this, next episode. Let’s see if I’m right?

Episode 10

Well this turned out to be a dramatic and surprising episode in more ways than one. I do like that this show doesn’t ever seem to run out of surprises!

First of all, it’s so telling that Young Ra’s first reaction to Hyun Soo’s crush on In Sang, is that she needs to have Hyun Soo marry someone much, MUCH better than In Sang, in order to tip the balance against Jung Ho and Yeon Hee.

..Which is where fresh-faced valedictorian Yoon Je Hoon comes in.

I dunno. He looks like the opposite of inclined towards this exhausting power-play world in which Young Ra lives.

Something tells me he’s not going to be very willing to play along..?

Jung Ho and Yeon Hee continue to be dissatisfied with Bom, and things quickly get out of control, when In Sang overhears them talking about Bom’s specs, and how they can only accept her as a family member, when she has something that they can properly acknowledge.

First of all, that’s cold and unacceptable (though not at all surprising, coming from Jung Ho and Yeon Hee).

Secondly, the way In Sang’s efforts to talk to Jung Ho and Yeon Hee about not letting Bom hear about this, turns into a full-body combat situation with Jung Ho, is so bizarre; it’s just like Jung Ho to turn a coughing fit into a brawl. 😅

It’s sad-funny, how Yeon Hee and Jung Ho basically go into attack mode, and blame everything on Bom, when she shows up to defend In Sang.

To my eyes, it’s pretty fantastic, how Bom’s quick to use what she’s learned during her studies, to reason with Jung Ho and Yeon Hee, and I do also love the fact that In Sang seems pretty well-versed as well, to be able to back her up, but neither Jung Ho nor Yeon Hee is amused by this.

I guess Jung Ho and Yeon Hee hadn’t bargained for this, when they’d insisted that In Sang and Bom study for the legal civil service exam..? 😁

How unfortunate, that this just causes them to resort to desperate threats, like kicking In Sang and Bom out of the house, and saying that they’ll raise Jin Young themselves.

I do take some consolation in the fact that Jung Ho is actually pleased at the sight of In Sang and Bom studying hard, to try to find a legal argument to fall back on.

Poor Bom, though. I feel bad for her, that she feels the sting of her lack of qualifications, which she believes is the root of this whole conflict.

She’s not wrong, in that sense, because it’s not long before Jung Ho concludes that the only thing that’s lacking in his ideal scenario, is Bom’s family background.

It looks like Jung Ho’s got a plan to help Bom’s family level up, but that makes me wonder how Bom and the rest of the family would take it, that he’s planning to artificially improve their family specs.

I was really looking forward to In Sang and Bom going to visit her parents, almost as much as our characters were looking forward to this visit.

I mean, Jin Young’s 100 days old, and yet, Bom’s parents have hardly spent any time with him at all. Not to mention the fact that Bom and her parents miss one another acutely, and could really use some quality time together.

Which is why I’m so bummed that Jung Ho and Yeon Hee kick up such a fuss, in the middle of the night, demanding that In Sang, Bom and Jin Young return home at once.

Pfft. Of course, this is all because they miss Jin Young more than they’d like to admit, but.. it’s ridiculous how they can’t even spare a thought for Hyeong Sik and Jin Ae, who are also Jin Young’s grandparents, and who have only spent a fraction of the time with Jin Young that they have, since his birth.

It’s such a big indication of how selfish and self-centered they are, that they can’t even let Hyeong Sik and Jin Ae spend a single night with Jin Young.

That said, it is rather amusing, to see how their moods, which had both been entirely black not so long ago, completely turn around at the sight of Jin Young.

That baby is like magic fairy dust, heh.

Backing up a bit, I’m also rather bummed for the staff, that their long-awaited party, to let loose and just relax, gets cut short so abruptly because Jung Ho and Yeon Hee storm home early, after a fight.

I found it quite refreshing and illuminating, to see how each of our staff members are like, when they’re not in formal work mode. They’re so cheerful and bright, and so happy to see one another, which I thought was really nice.

Also! What a surprise, to see Teacher Park and Secretary Lee, cozying up to each other, with sparks flying between them.

These two definitely have the hots for each other, and it shows. 🔥

Too bad for Secretary Kim, that Secretary Min’s more interested in what appears to be a  personal mission to clear her brother’s name (which somehow involves Bom’s uncle), than in his puppy feelings for her.

But.. Too bad for Secretary Min, that Secretary Yang catches on to her secretive movements, and, with Jung Ho’s permission, gets ready to set Secretary Kim on her.

Gosh, all this faux loyalty looks so exhausting. 😅

I just hope that all of Bom’s efforts to study hard, will stand her in good stead, to navigate this exhausting world for which she’s trying so hard to qualify.

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Leslie
Leslie
20 days ago

@Trent – This must be the episode where more than one of us is glomming on to the idea that Show is satire and/or parody (rather than dark comedy – though not mutually exclusive.) Sure, there are funny scenes, but it doesn’t feel like characters are played for fools or laughs alone. It feels like each chuckle furthers a story that’s being built brick by screwy brick.

The humor amplifies character traits and themes, but also offers a somewhat compassionate view of people, especially In Sang’s parents. They’re pretty awful in their Ivory Tower hauteur, but while Show pokes fun at them, it also reveals their humaness. They’ve got their insecurities and vanities and fears and regrets like Every Person.

I keep thinking that if In Sang’s parents could see what we see of them on the screen, they’d feel as if they were in that perennial bad dream, where you’re standing at the front of the high school auditorium in your underwear. 😆

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
21 days ago

Just stopping by to say that every time I hear the klezmer music I get giddy. I am really impressed with the actors who play In Sang’s parents. It takes a special skill to keep a straight face while playing characters as these.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
20 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Snow Flower – I think the music is so well done. I also enjoy the klezmer music (thank you for the proper terminology Snow Flower!). I especially like it when, in other instrumentals, they sometimes take that last note, slow it down and make it go out way flat. I find that quite funny.

eda harris
eda harris
20 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

snow flower,
every time I hear the klezmer music I get giddy.

i was just going to mention it here. the very first time i heard it, i was like how can it be, eastern european jewish klezmer mucic in this korean drama? i must be crazy, or may be it just kind of sounds like it, but i feel “giddy” – that’s the word, just like you. thank you for confirming it for me. and it’s also interesting how they are using it in those specific scenes.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
20 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

For some reason, klezmer music is perfect at expressing irony.

eda harris
eda harris
20 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

klezmer music is perfect at expressing irony.
i never thought of it this way, but now that you are putting it like this – you are so right! it’s like the jewish jokes and sayings (which are so funny and to the point, almost impossible to translate) expressed through music.

Leslie
Leslie
20 days ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Love the music in this show. It feels like a trusty guide to where we’re going next. Fun!

eda harris
eda harris
19 days ago
Reply to  Leslie

the music is indeed special here. it feels to me like an additional, very important character in the show, rather than just music accompanying the character’s and events.

eda harris
eda harris
21 days ago

dear KFG and anybody else who knows:
i had this question from the first time i watched this show, and so did beez, we were trying to figure this out, but then decided to try and get this drama for a group watch and see if anybody knows.
in-sang (and his dad in the past) along with bom are studying for the bar exam (at least that is what the subtitles say). what does that mean, do they study at home for one year and then can pass the bar exam? and then they become attorneys? and can practice law at age 20? does not sound right. so what does it mean? do they then skip going to law school or get credits for those studies? and what do other students do, that do not have so much money and can not afford a tutor and studying so intense for a year while still in high school? Or is it different in korea?

MariaF
MariaF
21 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

It was called sasi test. It’s been discontinued. A person in SK could become a lawyer without going to law school. I assume that was the test Bo and In-Sang were studying for. I might be wrong.

https://m.koreatimes.co.kr/pages/article.amp.asp?newsIdx=238970

Last edited 21 days ago by MariaF
Leslie
Leslie
21 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

Ooh. The article was very helpful, @MariaF. I understood part, but not all of, the exam story – and this clarified.

eda harris
eda harris
20 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

maria, thanks a lot, that really clarifies it. but does it mean that in 2-3 years, both bom and in sang can become “full-blown” korean attorneys? that sounds bizarre. could a young person study law for one year and become IT? i mean they cancelled it now, but how did it work then? wow.

MariaF
MariaF
20 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

@Eda

Here is another article about sasi.

With only 3% acceptance rate, this exam seems to be incredibly difficult. It usually took people years to study.

But yes, if a person is exceptionally bright and has means to hire an excellent tutor, i guess there is a chance that this person can become a lawyer after approximately 3+ years (~1 year of preparation + 2 years of Judicial Research and Training Institute).

http://m.koreaherald.com/amp/view.php?ud=20150908001142

eda harris
eda harris
20 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

wow, maria, so interesting. a lot to think for these koreans. now that i understand a bit more about this system, i can see both sides of the coin.

MariaF
MariaF
20 days ago
Reply to  eda harris

On a side note, when I was watching “One spring night “, I remember thinking “Why can’t that guy pass a civil service test? What’s wrong with him?”.
But with the 1.7 percent acceptance rate for Seoul City civil servants exam, it’s no surprise!

Last edited 20 days ago by MariaF
eda harris
eda harris
20 days ago
Reply to  MariaF

maria,
yah, i just thought about it too while reading this article. and i also wondered, what kind of exam could it be, that this friend of the ML failed it 5 times or more( he himself lost track of how many times). i wonder what kind of geniuses they have as civil servants, and what exactly do they do there, i mean the civil servants. after all, this guy did not seem that stupid. but this article puts it in perspective.

j3ffc
j3ffc
22 days ago

Too bad for Secretary Kim, that Secretary Min’s more interested in what appears to be a personal mission to clear her brother’s name (which somehow involves Bom’s uncle), than in his puppy feelings for her.”

Thank you for this (my bold), Kfangurl; I thought I was the only one who found the details behind this hard to follow.

I found In Sang’s apparent pleasure in finding out how normal people live amusing, although his snooping around Bom’s old room not so much.

[Personal note: yay! that Viki gets this show in Norway, where I’ll be for a a couple of weeks. First time I’ve seen the opening credits and closing part of the show, the latter of which focused in on the intensity of Bom’s studying gaze. Go get ’em!]

eda harris
eda harris
21 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

i must disagree with you on:
I found In Sang’s apparent pleasure in finding out how normal people live amusing, although his snooping around Bom’s old room not so much.
i do not consider it exactly “snooping”, it was not done in secrecy, in sang told bom (quite excitedly) that he’s in her room, and when she asked what he was doing there, he said half jokingly, looking for a diary, to see whom bom dated before him (he knows quite well that he is her first one). and seeing your lover’s territory is always interesting, (especially that in reality, bom and in-sang do not know much about each other and have not spent much time together), so i do not find it strange, suspicious or sneaky, if one is open and tells the truth. and in-sang would like to know better his new wife, lover and partner – totally natural.

Trent
24 days ago

A couple things that really struck me about these two episodes:

This is where it really became evident or obvious to me how much this show is flirting with satire, occasionally outright parody. And it’s doing it fairly skillfully, since satire always runs the risk of veering into silliness if it doesn’t remain tethered to something real. So this has so many little (sometimes not so little, like Jung-ho’s “punishment” of In-sang) over the top touches that nevertheless integrate into a more-or-less believable narrative. It’s very interesting.

The second thing is tug of war between the kids and In-sang’s parents, who would seem to hold all the cards…but in fact the kids do have some leverage, and they seem to be not averse to exploring how to use it (I love how Bom agreed to give in to the (unreasonable) demand that everyone return to the compound from her parent’s home in the middle of the night, but then engineered it so In-sang would stay at her parent’s for the night…and one of the servants approvingly referred to it as her “taking a hostage” (I laughed))(I also love how they are all prepared to get up in dad’s face with legal citations when the parents start hinting about just raising Jin-young for themselves, and how they’d prepared for that particular gambit. And they per his orders, they give him a well-researched legal brief on the topic! (I laughed again)).

And finally…how to put this delicately? There’s a real thread of psycho-sexual frustration going on, particularly evident in these episodes. Yeon-hee is practically vibrating (in a very sub-rosa, restrained sort of way) with the desire to get something physical going with Jung-ho, and he, for whatever reason, just isn’t having it. And compounding (causing?) her frustration is the twin mirrors of Young-ra and her past and current entanglements with Yeon-hee’s husband, and her young, pretty daughter-in-law, who is relatively obviously living it up with Yeon-hee’s son, to their mutual satisfaction (that line where the kids blurt out how they are meeting each other’s emotional and physical needs, and Yeon-hee swelled up like a wet cat, was a classic. Once again, I laughed).

So yeah, a third of the way through, this is proving to be very very watchable..

eda harris
eda harris
21 days ago
Reply to  Trent

 how much this show is flirting with satire, occasionally outright parody. And it’s doing it fairly skillfully, since satire always runs the risk of veering into silliness if it doesn’t remain tethered to something real. 
my sentiments exactly, i think you said it so well. and this was exactly one of the elements of this drama that was so attractive to me from the first time i watched it. actually, i have not seen it presented quite like that in any other production, thus being so fresh and original, a “wedding” of sorts, of sharp and funny with serious and real.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
20 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Okay Trent – I am behind this week, but reading “There’s a real thread of psycho-sexual frustration going on” piques my interest. I am definitely going to watch for this when I queue it up today. 😉

Trent
20 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– this is kdramaland, of course, so it is subtle, but I think definitely there. See what you think!