Discovery of Love, Part II: Thoughts on the Leading Characters.

Objectively speaking, I am not sure if I really want Yeo Reum to end up with Tae Ha because five years in a relationship is indeed a long time, but five years since the relationship ended is an equally significant time frame. Plus, if she insists and really believes that she is firmly grounded to the present which now includes a really sweet, new boyfriend with whom she can imagine a future together with, then why the need to turn back time, you know?

However, I also believe – objectively speaking – that she’s just as equally better off without both. There’s no need to limit and retrace her steps to the old lover if the past is indeed a closed chapter and quite frankly, her current boyfriend may or may not even be the right person given some of his actions thus far that’s been revealed to us. My argument is, why is it that we’re made to think it’s either or, when surely there’s options C and D?

Oh wait, because we’re in drama land and this is a rom-com. Right. Okay, let’s reassess what we have here.

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Part II: Thoughts on the Characters of Kang Tae Ha, Han Yeo Reum and Nam Ha Jin

I’ve been chewing on my thoughts about the show and certain key points, and honestly I am still having a difficult time trying to put to words if I’m looking at it all… correct, whatever that means within this context, and to a degree – realistically. To be honest I am not sure if the reason I am on Team Tae Ha is because the character is who and what he is …or it’s because the magnetic pull that is Eric Mun is too damn hard to repel. It’s so shallow of me I know, but honest to God it’s a distraction. I’m saying this because this is my caveat and hence my confusion in siding Tae Ha.

I do like Tae Ha though, I really do. To me he is a fully realized character i.e. one who feels well-fleshed out with an intricate past and a learned present. I find him realistic and easy to root for because he’s not pretentious – he’s honest about what he feels and isn’t ashamed to admit if and when he’s at fault. He’s not embarrassed to admit his vulnerability to the person he sincerely loves: Yeo Reum. He’s also not a jerk, like he’s made wrong moves that have hurt others, but he’s not spiteful and revengeful you know what I mean? It doesn’t make him a bad person, rather one who’s made some bad moves. Probably my favorite part about him is that not only does he remember the past (and hold it dearly in his heart), it’s that he’s learned from it. He’s done his reflection such that he knows those moments in the past when he acted like a dick – no two-ways about it, he was it. However, he has since grown and matured from those mistakes and overall experience, so he’s genuinely trying to be a better person and where Yeo Reum is concerned, a better man who is now more deserving of her.

Another trait of his that I like is that he’s steadfast in his decisions and viewpoints; once he’s made a decision, he see through with it both personally and professionally. I hate wishy-washy heroes so I really appreciate that his feelings for her doesn’t waver even when she gives him shit about it. However, I’m aware that the real question that begs being asked is – is he right to hold on to these feelings and what more make them known, as well as doggedly pursue her while knowing that not only are they no longer together but she’s also happily attached to someone else? One could easily argue – and I would agree – that this was a selfish move. On the other hand, I think it depends on how one looks at it and from which viewpoint (and to an extension, which team we’re on) and frankly for me, as much as I want them to be together (again, the why is confusing because I’m having a really difficult time separating actors and characters), the bigger gesture of love he should’ve and could’ve done is to gracefully let her go and wish her well, knowing he had his chance once upon a time ago but had unfortunately wasted it.

however. One could also argue he did exactly that in the first five episodes, especially in episode five. Remember that scene when she’d mistakenly texted him and he was honestly so embarrassed and wished the ground would just swallow him whole, yet pretended to her that he’s fine-just-fine? Or remember all those moments he took the blame for her to avoid Ha Jin’s suspicions, from the littlest things like speaking in banmal to ego-bruising moments like holding himself in check while they act all lovey-dovey right under his nose? In other words, he was thinking about her and really tried to convince himself that letting go is the best option, only to in the end cave in because it hurt too much.

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Which then brings me to the revelation in episode six, which has effectively turned the tables for Mookie, who finds it unacceptable because to her that wall between Tae Ha and Yeo Reum is now impenetrable because the impact of the emotional pain is resounding and glaring. I… understand why she feels the way she does and respect that, but I can’t seem to think the same way. For me, I understand that his negligence and repeated emotional abuse in the past makes it extremely difficult for Yeo Reum to move past from because she really did suffer the heaviest blow, but I don’t think it’s fair for her to hold it against him in present-day to the point where she’s accusing and berating him as an unkind person – a jerk – that he was five years ago. I’m not excusing his past misdeeds towards her but her prejudice and insistence that he’s never going to change is unfair, especially when he’s clearly changed.

Then there’s also the bit where she’d withheld the truth from him about her father’s death. He had no idea, he really truly did not know. Of course one could argue that she tried telling him and hinted it to him multiple times when she tear-strickenly kept calling him, and yet he had ignored all the signs because he was too busy prioritizing everything else but her. The argument is valid, but I would counter that while it’s true he’s at fault for his negligence and added mistreatment towards her, no one can hold it against him for not knowing. It a whole different matter if he did find out but didn’t do anything about it, which isn’t the case here. It’s insensitive of him for not picking up the signs and for not responding to her distressed calls, but he genuinely did not know because he didn’t figure that out. Yes, he had so many chances but again, what’s the use of holding those what-if moments against him? Those are akin to sunk costs because he just never caught on, so he never did anything about this.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that for all the parts he’s at fault, no excuses, but at the end of the day Tae Ha is also only human. Moreover, to a large degree he has repented which we’re seeing and so is she, but her denial is strong because of their shared history; the fault lines run too deep. If she can’t be with him anymore that is her prerogative, but it’s unfair to keep claiming he is and will always be the same person he was years ago. “You will never change; you’re still the same jerk you were back then,” is a moot statement.

That’s not to say that I’m giving him a pass for stating so arrogantly that she’ll come back to his arms  – “The sky will fall,” he had said, fixing a steely gaze upon her – because again, what and who gives him the rights to think he still has a claim of any kind towards her? What makes he think (or any man really) that she belongs to him as if she’s an object up for trade? I didn’t appreciate the wrist-grabbing too and not for the reason that it’s the typical oh-gosh-they-do-this-all-the-time-in-Kdramas rather it’s a violation of her personal space. However, I wouldn’t be so quick to write him off solely based on this scene because after all, these revelations of what went wrong are given to us in piecemeal form – there’s still a lot of holes that we need fill before we can objectively (or emotionally) come to any conclusions.

As for Yeo Reum, don’t get me wrong – I don’t dislike her. Honestly she reminds me of Yeol Mae from I Need Romance 2012 and even though I’m uncertain if that’s good or bad (I did like this character but this also means that Jung Yu Mi isn’t diversifying her roles), what I definitely like about both character is that they are so humanly relatable. Like Yeol Mae, Yeo Reum is selfish, cunning and manipulative in getting her way, wants to be the first priority and not an afterthought in her romantic relationships and . I’ve read here and there that people can’t stand Yeo Reum because she’s accusing Tae Ha as among other things a jerk, insensitive and selfish …when she’s had moments where she portrayed exactly those. However, looking at it from her perspectives of course her perception of him is skewed and cloudy because her memories and stance about the past is that he’d mistreated and wronged her. Maybe she still remembers the good bits but the negative parts overtake the former magnanimously that even though he has changed, I think it will still take a while for her to come around and she might even need a hard shake to see him differently.

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Despite all that I’ve stated above, I need to clarify that I don’t agree one bit with what she did upon receiving Tae Ha’s drunken confession. If she doesn’t feel the same way then there’s nothing anyone can do about it and I know that in the first place why did he even lay it all out as if she’s obliged to receive it, but how she reacted – ah, that’s it; with knowledge there’s responsibility – well, it was dickish of her to trample on his feelings in the name of revenge. At this point everyone understands and are well aware he hurt her badly in the past but if she insists that the past is the past, then she should’ve just rejected him firmly and leave it at that because why the spite over something that’s no longer significant? Instead she did what she did which was rubbing it in his face that she’s supposedly moved on and so too bad for him. Honestly, I hated her in this scene because that was low, real low.

Regarding the difference between past-her and present-her and especially the kind of girlfriend she was to Tae Ha compared to how she is in the present with Ha Jin, honestly first things first is can anyone even fault her for playing the game to what she believes is her best advantage? Just like Tae Ha did, she came out of the past relationship as a learned person – changed, jaded and experienced. One could maybe fault her, if you insist on finger-pointing, that she’s not being completely honest and acting as herself with Ha Jin what’s with the manipulation of tears and accusing him of keeping secrets when she is doing exactly that and in fact, right under Ha Jin’s nose. I understand the accusations but to me it all boils down to it’s her prerogative and as an observer, I can’t even say I’m surprised. That’s not to say I agree with her actions because I don’t, but I understand and accept her motivation. She was burned really badly the first time so of course she’d make sure that this time around she comes out as the grand winner, not the one with the broken heart and bruised ego. Of course she’d play her cards wiser this second time around. I wish she would bend and soften, even if just a little where Tae Ha is concerned – if not in a romantic sense, then at least by giving him the benefit of doubt as a better person – but again, considering their shared history and the absence of closure, this seemingly trivial acceptance (to us) is perhaps the largest hurdle for her.

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As for Ha Jin, personally I find him too perfect so much so that it irks me because drama land produces this kind of character way too many times. I’m wrecking my brain trying to think of his imperfections, those rough edges where he is more human and less mere cardboard character, and couldn’t seem to come up with any negative traits that’s particularly glaring. I agree that it’s pretty douchey of him to go on blind dates behind her back – even if he had a legitimate reason and was upfront about it to his date – and I also agree that it’s pretty flighty of him to actively pursue Ah Rim while hiding the truth from his girlfriend, but these actions alone do not automatically mean he is a bad person. He’s… just being human, you know?

I think the thing about his relationship with Ah Rim is that he doesn’t find it a big deal (or is adamant it isn’t) because supposedly they’re more like siblings than lovers so in other words, he has convinced himself that his feelings towards her are purely platonic and will not blossom into something romantic. The other reason is of course more obvious – the historical and emotional baggage that’s part of the package i.e. admitting their connection means coming clean about a past that he believes is his alone to keep. It doesn’t make him a bad person, why would it, for wanting to keep his personal history to himself and it comes down to this being his prerogative too, that he believes it’s not a big deal and therefore feels no need to explain. Of course one could argue that in a relationship, two people must be honest towards each other about everything but come on now, everything? Really, you sure? Personally, I don’t think he’s in the wrong for wanting to keep certain things to himself until he feels the time is right to reveal them and ha, the same could easily be said about Yeo Reum and her history with Tae Ha, which Ha Jin is still in the dark about.

In a nutshell (for now), what kind of trajectories am I anticipating for these characters and within the same breadth, exactly what is it that I am expecting from them? Truth is, I have no idea. I don’t really think I have expectations of any sort because I’m perfectly fine with letting the story play out however the characters think is best. My hung-up-on-the-past self wants Yeo Reum to end up with Tae Ha because I swear that Jung Yu Mi and Eric Mun create fireworks just by standing next to each other. However, my objectively speaking self thinks it’s probably best for her to end up with Ha Jin because what she had with Tae Ha is something that’s in the past, whereas what she has now is a healthy and happy relationship. Even so, I can’t silence my realistic self who would much prefer that she break up with both, start anew and fresh because why limit herself and her happiness to only two people? Why believe that it’s either one or total unhappiness? I know, I know… here’s where I’ve to remind myself that this is drama land and not life.

Up Next: That Thing Called The Past and Quick Notes about Side Characters

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5 thoughts on “Discovery of Love, Part II: Thoughts on the Leading Characters.

  1. I like TH honestly, i can not fault him being young and ignorant in love, i can not fault him not seriously loving YR and have other more important priorities in life at a certain point, that us all human and he is not a jerk as in he means no harm, unaware.

    Now I am on TeamYR, i see everything i was nitpicking about her in a new much more sympathetic light with the reveal of the death of her Dad. My point in my tirade why I can’t see OTP overcoming their past atvm is (assuming what we gathered is close to entire truth) the grief of losing her Dad while actively trying to savage their relationship, enduring his neglect which was emotional abuse made KTH involuntarily the horrible breathing reminder of the passing of her Dad. I do not think YR is faulting him but she can’t help be rushed with the worst memory seeing him, flip side of the coin TH is taken over by his fond memory of her uncontrollably seeing her. I think from YR’s face Sol reveals to her TH finally knows has much more to it, I read from JYM’s face it is almost expected, on top of Mom’s hate towards her dead husband, we can only be sure we do not know everything yet. I do not think YR is faulting TH entirely for the pain of her Dad’s passing of course, but he made it worst. I actually am the lone weirdo in even supporting her not obligated to tell him about Dad’s death. Grief is personal, we have to handle it on our own, at our own pace anyway. If TH did not even care to ask her a ‘what’s wrong’, even if I let him have the excuse he is avoiding confrontation, they were always arguing by then… he could’ve called Sol and simply ask if he was worried enough, but he just was not, and he called that he was still in love with her. I didn’t judge YR in not telling TH then because i can see her as trying to not burden him, and a month since, on the Jinju trip, she did gather herself enough, working through her grief on her own, her own terms and was trying to enjoy the trip wholeheartedly when his meanness and again neglect for the nth time was the final straw.

    I can’t fault her with what she did after TH’s confession. It haunts me actually for this one almost teary heartbreaking heart to heart from TH there was 100, after their breakup during her grieving of her Dad that had fallen to deaf nonchalant ears, those ears belong to the guy who she supposed still love her. TH did not dare asking her to come back to him, he just needs it off his chest…so what is he doing? All along he is passively aggressively implying she should still have feelings for him, she can not forget how much she loved him, ie trivializing what she had worked so hard last 5 years and now in a happier steadier relationship, a fact he needs to harshly wake up to. While we are all swooning at Eric, that is more confirming to YR TH is still as self-centered, as insensitive to her as she remembered. TH is still hiding behind his drunkenness even though she is not doubting, but just one glance at him the next am she is not surprised he chickens out. TH did not change much from what she can perceive nor able to reflect on their relationship fully when YR made her judgments he is more of the same… he did just realize all his memory lapses! He was vague and flirty when she seriously asked about the night they slept together, and retracted the heartfelt advances he said towards her at her workshop as if it was all games still. I am still confused how the interviewing goes, but they know of each other’s response to the same questions and i am all for YR still thinking he is a jerk letting out she begged and pleaded for him to take her back crying when we know 1. He never once softened his stance to her unless alone then. 2. She must still be griefing her Dad and too bad she associated TH with the trauma.

    Haha you are much more magnanimous than me giving HJ benefit of the doubt he does not think it is a big deal and it is platonic between him and AR. It is not forgetful but deliberate he did not answer YR’s call exactly knowing it was her. I think it is the greenness though of SJ, he is overplaying the innuendo with AR and YJY is not helping being the weak link. I do not think the secret YR and HJ are keeping from each other are on the same prerogative, YR does believe it is for HJ’s good, when it could ease so much unnecessary stress for YR and do her so much gd knowing about AR (IF it is just sibling love, lesigh but we r watching a kdrama still and it loves its fauxcest like rainbows and unicorns) and yet he is oddly above and beyond keeping it from her. If AR is just a long lost younger sister, a person he had no squirms letting the whole med school be aware faxing scars, someone his bff knows about, it is uncalled for to be secretive only towards YR when she speaks up about her unease adamantly.

    1. Mookie I apologize if I misinterpreted your thoughts about Tae Ha and Yeo Reum, or not understanding what you feel about the following the revelation in episode six. This comment and all your points and reasoning and I … wow. I’ve nothing more to add aha and I really appreciate all your insights especially with Ha Jin. Interesting it never occurred to me the weight of their secrets are different and the greenness of Sung Joon – totally agree. And I think coming from your own personal experiences about love and loss, you’re seeing the relationship between Tae Ha and Yeo Reum in a light that I’m unable to (unfortunately…) and honestly that is something that I worried over as I wrote this so I really appreciate this comment cos you pointed insights from lenses that’s in a way been there, done that :)

      1. Oh nono XD it is nothing really, just that i would have a very hard time seeing TH’s face if i have associated him with the passing myself. It is not his fault but more a conditioned response haunting still so with this turn i actually see YR as very civil towards TH, she has actually moved on more than i credited her prior and i rem she did mention she is not blaming TH entirely but took up some responsibility herself how to deal with men and romance… as in perhaps in hindsight she would not allow TH to be so at ease urging him to have better 2 way communication with him?!

        I still ship them because they had truly loved, what she has with HJ is a very desirable companionship and she likes him, likes to be with him. She can live without him though.

  2. “The sky will fall” ~ I expect some will like and dislike this depends how one takes it as confident or arrogant as you mention :)

    My view on this is, he is probably confident of their/her love is still there + his wills to change (we need to see more of this) OR perhaps it’s hinting at Hajin’s new gal that will make her sky fall :)

    I’m rooting for Taeha & Yeoreum too because

    A. Despite communication issue int he past but there is no secrets between them
    B. Taeha starts to recognize his mistakes
    C. Despite his tactics, he isn’t a bad guy. He hasn’t lied, cheated on her or step over people.
    D. I can feel Yeoreum still has lot of feelings for Taeha, she is just fencing it off hah XD

  3. oh, beside, their chemistry is amazing! Yeoreum & Hajin is wonderful but gosh when Taeha & Yeoreum on the screen, the way they gaze at each other, playing bickering…. it’s just sending butterflies off my screen :)

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