Sometimes you just have to forgive the person who’s made your life miserable in order to have peace of mind and move on. And sometimes you have to change and meet the person you love in the middle. No one gets to have all their expectations met, but there can still be a happy ending. Join Janet, Wendilynn, and me, Cici, as we discuss character arcs, redemption, and realistic happy endings.
Wendilynn: I was really happy with the character growth shown in these last two episodes. There is such a huge emotional difference between Hwan Ki and Ro Woon and in how they show those emotions. But instead of letting them get petty with each other, like dramas are known to do once the problems are solved, they kept them working on those differences. I liked that.
Cici: That was one of the best things about this drama. The character growth was spread out over the entire series, not just saved as a ridiculous redemption scene for the final episode. It was refreshing to see not only Hwan Ki, but Woo Il and Yi Soo grow and develop. Even the minor characters had lovely character arcs as they learned to adapt to and appreciate Hwan Ki.
Janet: The only character I had a problem with was the reporter – we finally understand his motivation and in the end he was true to himself, but I still didn’t like him. He was the catharsis for the chain of events, but just not a likable character.
Wendilynn: Yeah, he was being awful as he couldn’t see anything worth redeeming in his own pain. The other character that stayed truly awful was Hwan Ki’s dad. I know some will think he got a redemption arc, but he really didn’t. He was a bully because he was actually a coward and he finally got called on it by Hwan Ki. Hwan Ki even made him go apologize to Ro Woon’s dad. I really loved how Hwan Ki wasn’t going to let his dad bully anyone anymore. That made me happy.
Janet: I loved when Hwan Ki yelled at his dad and walked out on him. That was AWESOME!
Cici: I loved that scene, too. Hwan Ki changed in all the ways that really mattered, while keeping his ability to observe and appreciate the strengths of those around him. His new-found communication skills finally enabled him to express himself in more than a one-on-one setting. That encounter with his dad really showed how he had been liberated from a lifetime of abuse. It was very similar to the way Yi Soo was finally able to explain how she had been forced to pretend to be perfect by the expectations of her parents.
Wendilynn: His dad was so ready to throw Woo Il under the bus and Hwan Ki wasn’t having any of that. He was so done. It was great to see that he was finally the man his father had wanted him to be, but just didn’t know how to develop. He went about it in such a wrong way.
Janet: I think Hwan Ki was a way better man than his dad wanted. I feel dad was trying to mold a “mini-me”, not a son that would be able to stand up to him and do things the “right way.”
Cici: Yes. Dad clearly had no morals, and no family loyalty. How was it okay to justify his past to Ro Woon’s dad by explaining that he was ashamed of raising a son like Hwan Ki? Ugh. Nope, no redemption arc for him. I loved how Ro Woon’s dad told him he understood his pain, but that he should be proud of his son.
Wendilynn: No, his dad was not redeemed. But he was willing to go in front of her dad even if his words were wrong…AND he resigned from running for office. I feel he did that for his kids. BUT, the true father in this story is Ro Woon’s dad. He showed how to face hard things and forgive, move on and grasp happiness. I admit my heart tugged pretty hard when he was giving Hwan Ki’s dad that shave. His dad didn’t deserve to be treated well, but because he knew how much his daughter loved Hwan Ki and how much Hwan Ki had shown his family respect, he wasn’t going to let a petty cowardly man come between their two families. I wish more people were like that.
Cici: It was kind of like Ro Woon and Yi Soo. That bathing scene was surprising–so much tension from all the bad memories and hard feelings, and Ro Woon managed to literally wash them all away. Who knew back scrubs could be the avenue to world peace?
Janet: Ro Woon has such empathy, like Hwan Ki, she knows how to bridge the gaps between people. But for all her maturity, she is still so unsure of herself when it comes to her relationship with Hwan Ki. After their fight, when she really thought he would drive off and leave her, tugged at my heartstrings. She was so shocked when he was standing in front of her!
Wendilynn: That’s the part of coming to the middle. Her style is to be bold and brash and forward. And his style is to be quiet, thoughtful and relaxed. Someone like Ro Woon could easily feel that they weren’t loved because they weren’t getting what they would give when in love. Learning to recognize the other person’s love language is so important. In many ways, this show was an excellent example of the 5 love languages. And learning how to appreciate and recognize it….and give the other person what they need even if it makes you seriously uncomfortable. That last scene was so adorably, adorably cute.
Cici: That was my thought exactly. I’m only mildly familiar with the principles of love languages, but it seems the writers really understand that people can express love in very different ways, and that the only way for people to truly get along is to recognize and appreciate the love language of the people who are important to them. So can anyone break it down for me character by character? What would you say Woo Il’s love language was? Did EvilDad even have a love language?
Janet: I have never heard of the 5 love languages, but Yi Soo was all about putting everyone else’s needs ahead of her own. Not a very healthy way to show love, as she found out. But she learned to grow and form a new and better relationship.
Cici: So thanks to a quick Google search, here they are: Words of affirmation (Woo Il); Quality time, which actually means giving someone your undivided attention (Hwan Ki); Acts of service (Hwan Ki, Yi Soo, Ro Woon’s Dad, and most of the Silent Monster team). Physical touch and Giving/Receiving gifts play minor roles. EvilDad is a mystery to me, maybe because he doesn’t seem to know how to love anyone.
Wendilynn: It was Hwan Ki’s silent acts of service that let Ro Woon know that he truly loved her and that let her forgive him for all the pain her family went through. She needed those big splashes of show and Hwan Ki needs quiet expressions of it. That they were able to come together and meet each other’s needs really made this show endearing. In a way, it’s almost like the writers had the five love languages book as a guide to this drama.
Cici: I can see that. I thought that physical touch and giving/receiving gifts were secondary, but several plot points hang on them. Hwan Ki giving BigSis those new shoes showed that he saw and understood a basic need that she was too embarrassed to mention herself. And his gifts of flowers and that necklace to Ro Woon were so tender. That was something she really needed. As for physical touch–well, this is a kdrama. But that is obviously one of Ro Woon’s love languages, and her invasion of Hwan Ki’s personal space was one of the things that helped him open up. Not to mention that final, very public kiss. Woohoo!
Janet: And I also loved all the flashbacks that led up to the final kiss, in public, in the rain. WOW!! And knowing a little more of the 5 love languages, I can see examples in the flashbacks.
Cici: Those flashbacks were a sweet reminder of some of my favorite scenes. But at the risk of sounding totally cheesy, I have to say that my absolute favorite thing about this drama is that it made me look at the way I interact with the people I care about, and think about how I could do it better. That’s not something I get from every drama.
Wendilynn: I think that this was also a love letter to every shy person in Korea. Their society seems to value the brash and bold to make things happen. We always see the quiet and shy getting stomped on and bullied. And it was like this drama was saying that we see you and we see how you care for society, too. Your way may be different, but just as important and needed.
Janet: Well said!
Cici: Time for a vote: Thumbs up? Down? Or meh?
Janet: As if a vote is needed! Thumbs up!
Wendilynn: I’m also a thumbs up! So sweet and warm, this drama.
Cici: It’s unanimous! Okay, everyone, go watch this drama!
For more from your Drama Club members check out:
For recaps of past episodes: