Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who Are You: Episodes 3 & 4

by   via dramabeans.com

Jin Yi Han. Jin Yi Han. Jin Yi Han. Jin Yi Han. Jin Yi Han. 
 Okay, the rational part of me fully recognizes that Jin Yi Han the actor is much different than his character (the questionably motived — is that a word? sure why not — art gallery employee, spoiled manboy Shin Jae Ha). Jae Ha is definitely a little unnerving, especially since we don’t quite know what his deal is but we’re led to believe it’s something quite unsavory. And if you didn’t like him after episodes 3-4, he’s probably not bound to appeal to you.
But that’s okay. More for me.
In any case, with the setup of the series out of the way, we get down to the point — Seung Hyo being taken over by Young In’s dad on a daily basis, with hilarious results. Only right now they’re only half-hilarious, because Seung Hyo (when he’s himself) is still a big ol’ meanie. I’m looking forward to the day he realizes how assy his behavior toward Young In is (in his defense, he doesn’t know her dire situation yet, not that I’m sure he’d care if he did). Yoon Kye Sang’s split-personality acting continues to be, alternately, both rude and wacky. His switches are totally manic but his full-tilt acting keeps the transitions clear and unconfusing.

Mystic Puzzle – “그 때, 그 날처럼” (Like that time, that day) [ Download ]


Episode 3 starts off with an altercation between Seung Hyo and Young In, which amuses me perhaps more than it should. It’s just that the setup is so strong that it leads to some pretty hilarious misunderstandings. Young In is totally justified in accusing her weird pervert ajusshi of stalking her, because he WAS acting creepy earlier. And when he denies knowing her, it’s natural that she assume he’s lying to cover up for himself. On the other hand, the real Seung Hyo has no memory of the event and thinks this loud, aggressive girl is harassing him for no reason, and his personality — which is no picnic to begin with — leads him to treat her pretty awfully.
Young In sets about getting proof of his identity and follows him around taking photos. When he catches her, he grabs her camera and breaks it. 

Meanwhile, Young Ae takes the news of Il Gun’s death pretty hard. As his girlfriend, it must be difficult for her because her grief isn’t as accepted as, say, his orphaned daughter’s. But the relationship was pretty serious, and we see that Il Gun was on the verge of proposing to her. He travels with her as far as his anklet will allow, then has to retreat to remain in proper vicinity of Seung Hyo.

What Young In doesn’t realize is that her father was an artist, whose work is now worth much more with the artist dead. The problem facing the gallery, then, is that he’d promised more paintings that are currently unaccounted for. Thus Jae Ha is entrusted with trying to wheedle the information from Young In.
(I think the fact that Il Gun’s death was ruled suicide complicates matters of inheritance and/or insurance, but it’s definitely underhanded that the gallerists know that Young In is unaware of her father’s art, and deliberately keep her in the dark in order to avoid complications. It’s all about their bottom line, it seems. I’m guessing that Il Gun used the money from his artwork to steadily pay off the debts from her mother’s illness.)

Jae Ha feels the pinch of conscience and he seems to be on the verge of telling Young In about her father’s painting — which Seung Hyo has just bought — but she gets into another heated argument with Seung Hyo. And boy, is Seung Hyo an asshole. I know it’s a common dynamic to make the romantic hero cold at first and the secondary male character much more likable, but I can’t help that this setup gets me, Every. Single. Time. Jae Ha’s “Is he good, is he bad?” mystique doesn’t hurt, either.
He comes upon the argument just as Young In tosses wine on Seung Hyo and he shoves her aside roughly, and we see the stirrings of the main love triangle take shape. Despite the age differences and the fact that Ara can look even younger than her 18 years (she looks like a beautiful child sometimes), I do like both pairings. I love it when the woman brings out the best in her men. 

Jae Ha looks after Young In under the guise of being worried that she’s not eating properly, and they share some bonding time. Young In feels a hint of romantic attraction to Jae Ha, and he feels more guilt when he hears that her circumstances are worse than he’d thought — she has to vacate her house soon and still owes money on the deposit. She’s also decided to give up college because she can’t afford it.
They have a discussion about dreams, and despite his wealth and her relatively pitiful circumstances, Jae Ha admires her for being able to answer the question “What’s your dream?” so decisively.
(Actor Jin Yi Han got his start in musicals and theater, so it’s a welcome surprise to see that they’ve given him a chance to showcase some of his skills here. Hot diggity!)
(The song “This Is the Moment” is from the musical Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Translations mine.)

The next day, Il Gun plans his Body Takeover with even more care, seizing control just after the beleaguered Secretary Yeo resigns after one of Seung Hyo’s particularly cutting set-downs. SeungHyoDad immediately rescinds the encounter and profusely apologizes, calling her “noona” goofily. She’s creeped out: “He’s back again.”
He then heads to his (Il Gun’s) home, where he immediately sets out to do some housework. Unfortunately, he doesn’t think of what it looks like for a 31-year-old businessman — already established by Young In to be a crazy pervert — to be fondling a young girl’s underthings.

In Episode 4, Secretary Yeo calms down an alarmed Young In and privately lets her know that he’s been strange in the head ever since his accident. Sometimes he’s normal, and sometimes it’s like he’s a completely different person. She asks Young In to go along with whatever SeungHyoDad does when he’s being SeungHyoDad.
That includes putting up with his weirdly emotional behavior when he sees Young Ae arrive with food for Young In. His resentful daughter tells the hated girlfriend that she’s just going to throw the food away, but Young Ae tells her calmly that they’re welcome to hate each other, but Young In should realize she’s all alone now and shouldn’t turn down her nose at food. After all, she’ll have to earn her own from now on. 

In a show of parental concern, Young Ae finds SeungHyoDad suspicious and asks who he is. (There’s a hilarious line where she asks Young In if she’s involved in “compensated dating” — an increasingly common practice in Korean and Japanese society where schoolgirls take money and expensive gifts from older men in exchange for dating and/or sex.)
SeungHyoDad is vigorously denying any perverted intentions when a tape slips out of his jacket — the porn video he found among his things that he snatched so that his daughter wouldn’t find them.

He insists on taking Young In shopping, to fulfill the promise he’d made her about giving her post-graduation presents. She’s uncomfortable and wants to refuse, but Secretary Yeo persuades her to go along, and they go on an extensive shopping spree. By lunchtime, she’s even started to thaw toward him — which sets up a very interesting dynamic, I think — while Il Gun’s three hours tick away.
His time runs out in the car on their way back, at which point Il Gun is ejected from The Body, and the real Seung Hyo becomes enraged at seeing That Annoying Girl in his car. He kicks her out, not believing her words that HE was the one acting weird, and demands she return everything he bought her. She can’t believe he’d give and take back something so abruptly, and angrily walks off alone. Seung Hyo feels no compunction — he even tells her harshly to get over her “beggar’s act” (for accepting gifts from a stranger) — but he IS alarmed when his driver confirms the young lady’s story. He HAD invited her along, and he HAD bought the gifts for her.

He’s further worried by Young In’s parting retort that he’s a head case — his employees may be tiptoeing around the issue, but he’s got problems. That strikes a chord with Seung Hyo, especially since he can’t remember what happened. Meanwhile, his secretary and lawyer wonder if his strange behavior is an outpouring of overly repressed lust (i.e., he’s manifesting them on the pretty girl because he’d gone too long without sexual relief). Either that, or perhaps he knew the girl but can’t remember her now, and his subconscious is making the connection. 

That night, Young In staggers home after a horrible day at her new part-time job from which she’s been fired, and finds her home occupied by the two gangster debt collectors. In a creepily uncomfortable scene, the leader makes it known that he’s going to discuss her debt and rape her, in that order.
Crying in fear, Young In agrees to move out tomorrow. She still owes him tens of thousands of dollars, though, despite the fact that her father’s been scrimping to pay it back over the years. The gangster tells her with chilling calm that she can “work off” her debt because she’s so pretty.

Young In hits him over the head long enough to scramble outside — but she’s barefoot and alone. She runs through the neighborhood in a panic, until she comes to a dead end, and cowers in fear.

Additional thoughts
I admit, the last scene pretty much squicked me out — there was just something so ominously real about her impending rape (and even though I’m almost positive she’ll escape safely in the next episode, that doesn’t keep the scene from being entirely creepy). I thought it was edging into pretty dark territory for this kind of drama.
But it does illustrate very succinctly the gravity of Young In’s circumstances — she really does have nobody, like Young Ae wisely reminded her. Yes, she has two very awesome best friends, but they’re just as young and powerless as she is. The conversation she has with Ji Sook shows that point (Ji Sook urges Young In to continue on to college; her parents have offered to pay for her tuition. Young In resists, because she can’t be that kind of burden, and asks Ji Sook, “Are they going to pay for it for all four years then?” Both know the answer is no.) Young Ae is a decent person who will look after Young In, but it’s not a stable relationship. And Jae Ha has taken her under his wing, but we all know how fraught with risk that is. While her father was alive, his debt collectors might harass her, but their issue was with the father and she was relatively safe. Now with him gone, she’s a little girl all alone in the world, soon to be homeless, with extremely limited funds and very few people who care. The world’s a hard enough place to inhabit without people trying to undermine her at every turn.
Despite the fact that the body-swapping storyline has been done many times over, I think there’s some mileage to be gotten out of Who Are You? First, there’s the fact that the romantic lead is so utterly unromantic that overcoming that hurdle will be difficult enough for our main couple. Second is the fact that there are questions (and hints of foul play) surrounding the issue of the father’s death, which add a mystery element to the plot. That mystery, furthermore, is tied in to the dreamy second lead.
Speaking of Jae Ha, it’s the classic doomed second-lead romance, but like I said, I’m a sucker for ‘em. While the bad-boy image has never done much for me, it’s the hint of his inner decency that draws me to his character. And that lovely singing voice, of course

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