Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Who Are You: Episode 8


My big question heading into Who Are You? was whether the handling of the body-possession of Seung Hyo would create weird Electra complex moments for Young In. Thus far I’m glad to report that I haven’t found the developing Young In–Seung Hyo relationship to be creepy; and in fact Episode 8 brings more opportunities for their “real” (unforced, unrelated-to-body-possession) relationship to grow.
Napoleon Dynamite – “니가 없는 곳에서 노래를 부르네” (Singing in a place where you aren’t). Personally, I’m not a fan of naming oneself after a pop-culture phenomenon wholly unconnected to said self — why identify yourself in relation to something else, rather than create your own pop-culture identity? — but I have no complaints about the music of this indie band. [ Download ]


For some reason, this morning Seung Hyo can see Il Gun, although he immediately assumes it’s an intruder. Il Gun excitedly asks a string of questions (“You can really see me?”), but unfortunately this new development comes without volume control — Il Gun can be seen but not heard. Belatedly Seung Hyo realizes the man is Sohn Il Gun, as his driver arrives to see Seung Hyo talking to nothing, and assumes his boss is hallucinating. 

Jae Ha meets Young In in front of her workplace (because she didn’t come home the night before, having slept at Seung Hyo’s) and asks if she’s read her father’s will. She’d resisted reading because she was afraid of what it might say — that her father wasn’t her biological father, or that he had more debts — but she found there wasn’t much in the letter. 

Jae Ha casually inquires about the contents, probing for hidden clues, and Young In remembers one bit that her father wrote about hearing from his friend after April 15. It doesn’t mean much to her, but she lends the will to Jae Ha, who immediately gets to work trying to decipher any possible clues in the message. His hired gangsters continue trying to narrow down Il Gun’s orphanage friends.

At the office, Seung Hyo vents his frustration — both at the Il Gun sighting and the fact that the company lost the Fujimori deal (while he was SeungHyoDad, he missed his appointment as a Bae Yong Joon-related guide for Yoko). His associate Lawyer Yoon tells Seung Hyo to get his act together — Seung Hyo could’ve already been dismissed if headquarters knew about his strange behavior.

Seung Hyo tells Yoon that he saw Sohn Il Gun, and speculates that perhaps he’s not dead. What if the man faked his death because of the money at stake?

Il Gun wonders why he’s suddenly visible to Seung Hyo, but the Reaper had nothing to do with it. It’s probably a by-product of Il Gun’s time inhabiting the man’s body. The Reaper remains stoic, not answering Il Gun’s questions about whether he will continue to be visible to people.

Jae Ha bails out this guy from jail (I’m still unclear on his name — the website merely lists the gangsters as “Loan shark #1″ and “Loan shark #2,” which makes this guy #3.) Jae Ha spies Seung Hyo entering the police station and quickly averts his face to remain unseen.
Seung Hyo questions the police officer over whether the body was confirmed as Il Gun’s. Is it possible he’s still alive? The cop doesn’t love having his investigation questioned, but when Seung Hyo inquires about evidence, there isn’t much available. There was one particular cigarette butt (the same black type smoked by gangster #3) found at the site, but it’s practically useless as evidence. Seung Hyo takes the cigarette with him; all the while, Jae Ha observes his departure.

Sooki and Deok track Young In down to her new job and have lunch there; despite having cut off contact, Young In is happy to see her friends again. When Young In rejects a phone call from Seung Hyo, Sooki guesses it’s a man and answers the phone for her. Seung Hyo demands to meet her right away, and arrives at the restaurant. 

Young In tries to turn him away, forcing Seung Hyo to enter the germ-filled restaurant (oh, horrors!) to retrieve her (he can’t even open the door without using a handkerchief, which he immediately throws away). He “buys” Young In’s time by handing a wad of cash at the owner, who happily gives Young In the rest of the day off. Watching all this, Sooki eyes Seung Hyo approvingly (to Deok’s dismay) — Young In called him Crazy Man, but said nothing of his appearance or obvious wealth.

Seung Hyo shows her his lists and asks Young In if the writing is familiar; she answers that it looks like her father’s. He cuts right to the chase — is she positive her father died?: “Did you confirm his corpse with your own eyes? I think he’s alive.” He insinuates that they faked the funeral, and Young In takes offense at his nerve. 

She explains that she’d lost her mother at a young age (“I thought I’d used up all my lifetime’s sadness then, that I’d cried out all my life’s tears then”), then her father. She wants him to leave her alone, to stop following her and making her thinking of her father, and asking whether she saw her father’s dead body: “Yes, my father really is dead, and I did see his corpse clearly with my own eyes. Okay?”

Young In rushes off, and Seung Hyo has the grace to look sorry for his crude line of questioning. He follows her out and catches up to her in the stairwell, and utters perhaps the first apology of his life: “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

He fishes in his pockets for his handkerchief to offer her, but remembers he threw it away. Unfortunately, Young In hears his muttered curse as directed toward her, which breaks the mood. He asks to borrow her father’s will (“You might be driven mad because of me, but I’m being driven mad because of your father”), and reacts with suspicion to hear she lent it to Jae Ha. 

Jae Ha is, at the moment, dealing with a girlfriend who’s fed up with being belittled and snubbed by his mother. Ha Young seems like a decent woman who’s worked her way up to a respectable position in life, but her poor upbringing will always be a source of derision from snobs like Jae Ha’s mother. But today, Jae Ha has no patience for Ha Young’s complaints, and snaps at her to stop whining — it’s her fault for taking the abuse and not standing up for herself. Jae Ha may have a point, but it’s a bit unfair; perhaps it’s partially fueled by self-disgust, as he tells her, “I’m not as good as you think. I’m not the decent guy you think I am.”

As Young In and Seung Hyo part ways, he leaves her with one word of caution:
Seung Hyo: “Don’t trust nice people. Don’t trust anybody but yourself. … About Shin Jae Ha — ask him how much he sold your father’s painting to me for. … And move out from his place.”
He may not be smooth with words like Jae Ha is, but his concern is sincere, and Young In takes it to heart. Or, at least enough so that when she’s home, she starts looking at Jae Ha in a new light. She recalls his questions about her father’s paintings with new doubt.

Young In asks for her father’s will back, and Jae Ha tells her it’s in his jacket pocket. She retrieves it — and glimpses a note with keywords and questions (“April 15… Friend. Who?”). Nervously she stuffs the note back, but Jae Ha clocks her uneasiness, and smoothly goes into damage control mode. Casually, he mentions the very things he’d written in the note to defuse her suspicions.
Remembering Seung Hyo’s words, she asks about the painting sold to him. Jae Ha’s very good at acting natural, and allays her concerns enough that she stops herself from asking more questions. 

Gangster #3 loiters around Seung Hyo’s home, breaking the security camera and waiting for Seung Hyo to arrive, at which point #3 grabs him from behind and drugs him with what I guess is a chloroformed cloth. He steals Seung Hyo’s money — and takes the envelope containing the cigarette stub.

Young In tries calling Seung Hyo, to no avail, to let him know she’s got the will for him to borrow. Now that she’s mistrustful of Jae Ha, she lies and says she’s going to meet her friends — and then takes Seung Hyo’s last bit of advice as well, and informs him she’ll be moving out the next day. After all, she’d never intended to stay for long, and her friends have invited her to move in with them. 

Instead of going to see her friends, Young In makes her way to Seung Hyo’s house — and finds him collapsed on the ground, alone. (It’s funny because she frequently calls him Crazy Man, but in this case her worry clashes with the words as she calls out, “Mr. Crazy Man, are you okay? Mr. Crazy Man, wake up!”)
He comes to, and she helps him up — at which he pulls his arm away from her grasp. Gathering his senses, Seung Hyo realizes that the envelope of evidence is missing. 

When Seung Hyo stumbles, Young In again grabs his arm to steady him, but pulls away knowing he doesn’t like her touch. But this time, he allows her to guide him along, even inviting her inside (albeit indirectly; he gruffly asks, “Aren’t you going in?”).

Young In takes a look at her father’s painting hanging on the wall, and as in the first episode, she has a one-way conversation with her father, who answers her questions while remaining unseen and unheard.
Young In: “So your dream was to be an artist. I didn’t know.”
Il Gun: “No, kiddo. Since the day you were born, my dream was you.”
Young In: “What’s your favorite food, Dad?”
Il Gun: “Whatever food you like.”
Young In: “And not just what I like. What do you like?”
Il Gun: “Let’s see… the food I eat with my daughter.”
Young In: “When were you happiest?”
Il Gun: “When my daughter was born healthy and safe.”
Young In: “When were you saddest?”
Il Gun: “When your mother was sick… when you’d hide and cry alone… and right now.”
Young In: “Dad. I’m sorry for treating you so badly. Nagging everyday… I’m really sorry. I don’t think I would be like that now. I could’ve lived happily with you. But you’re gone now. You’re not here with me anymore.”

Young In cries in front of the painting; Il Gun leaves the room just as Seung Hyo enters (symbolism?). Seung Hyo awkwardly offers her tissues, but stumbles backward when she faces him.
Having lost a slipper in the process, he stands on one foot and tries to recover his normal brusqueness. He tells her he hates crying, and asks for her to hand him his missing slipper.

But, at the very last minute, she grabs his un-slippered foot and forces it to touch the wooden step:
“See, you didn’t die, did you? Nothing happened. It’s not the street outside — what’s so dirty about your own floor? Ajusshi, you know you have a sickness too, right? Then you should fix it. Why do you live like this?”

Embarrassed to realize she’s holding his foot, Young In tries to rush off. Seung Hyo tells her to stay and look at the painting some more, but she politely declines — she can come back some other time. It’s like he wants her to stay but can’t think of a better excuse to keep her there, so he continues, “Who says I’d show it to you later? Take a look when I’m offering.”
In silence, they sit on the stairs and take a long look at the painting on the wall.

My absolute favorite part is when Seung Hyo, sitting in front of her, looks to the right as far as he can — as though to see her with his peripheral vision without actually facing her — and then turns to the left, to see from the corner of his other eye.

Seung Hyo takes a look at his foot — touching the floor with no imminent fatal illness in sight — and smiles, maybe for the first time so far.

The next day, Il Gun tries his best to be seen by Seung Hyo, but he’s back to invisibility. Seung Hyo has brief flashes where he can see Il Gun, but those disappear quickly. Finally, after a few temporary flashes, the vision sticks — he sees Il Gun for real as he steps out of the shower.
Because Il Gun has no voice, they try to communicate through reading lips and gestures, to mixed success. Il Gun is able to convey (eventually) that he’s a ghost. Seung Hyo doesn’t believe it, so Il Gun takes another tack — he points to the clock, and says (mouths):
“It’s 8:00 right now! For three hours, I am you! Okay? See you at 11:00!”
And with that, he jumps into The Body and gets started on his day. 

SeungHyoDad arrives at Young Ae’s craft shop with flowers and suggests eating breakfast together — just as Young In drops by. Boy, does this not look good.

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