Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Personal Taste(Perfect Match) Episode 2

Yes, that’s the size and relative roundness of Jin-ho’s butt, in case you were wondering. And yes, that’s pretty much the expression that accompanies the grabbing of said butt. This episode brings our leads together under one roof, and the hijinks? They do ensue. So far the tropes feel familiar, other than the main twist, but the characters are interesting and well-acted, so I’m aboard the train. Here’s hoping we go to new and exciting places!

Kae-in stands agape in front of her ex-boyfriend Chang-ryul and ex-roommate/ex-friend In-hee, stunned at their Affront to Human Decency, also known as their wedding.

Kae-in looks more hurt and betrayed by In-hee, who as her friend and you know, a human being, should seem more remorseful than if she had stolen your parking space or taken the last cookie. But before they can really have it out, Chang-ryul has security drag Kae-in and Young-sun out of the wedding.
The security team traps them in the sound booth, where of course Young-sun’s son happens to turn on the loudspeaker so that all the wedding chapels can hear Kae-in lament that the groom cheated on her with the bride, who she thought was her friend. Young-sun chimes in that In-hee’s no angel either; she’s been juggling a number of guys recently herself.
Both In-hee’s ceremony and another wedding stop in their tracks and the parties come storming over to the sound booth. Young-sun and Kae-in try to make a run for it, realizing the mess they’ve made, and In-hee comes huffing up, indignant that THEY’ve ruined HER wedding. Where do I even begin with the crazy?
Young-sun, being the only sane one here, slaps In-hee unceremoniously across the face. Nice. Back the other way? No? I’m fairly certain she deserves a second slap. Or a sixtieth.
Outside, Young-sun tries to cheer Kae-in up, but she just wants to be alone. Yeah, right after the fact is too soon to hear the buck-up-kiddos and it’s-all-for-the-betters. Kae-in trudges off to do a little moping on her own.
Meanwhile, Jin-ho has been trying to casually run into Choi Do-bin, his whole reason for coming to this fiasco of a wedding in the first place. He and Sang-jun notice someone else getting dismissed by him for trying to approach him at a non-work event, so Jin-ho decides to try a riskier tactic.

He rushes downstairs, finds the guy’s car, and crashes into it. At first I think he’s nuts (not a way to win a guy’s favor) but as it turns out, Do-bin is quite unflapped, and even recognizes Jin-ho as the architect who made a good pitch for the Dream Art Center. Jin-ho scores a meeting, and all it took was a dent in his car. Sneaky!
Back at the wedding of soulless bloodsuckers, Chang-ryul chases after In-hee, insisting that he did his part in telling Kae-in about the wedding. In-hee doesn’t believe him because she ain’t no fool, and decides to break it off and go on their honeymoon…alone. I hope you go someplace where they still have smallpox or malaria.

I have to say, Chang-ryul, while still being a dog, is definitely the more sympathetic of the two, as he is treated like a second-class citizen by both In-hee and his father, and is a hilarious wimp to boot.
Kae-in walks home, still in a daze from the events of the day. She zombie-walks through an intersection, unaware that she’s holding up traffic. The tears come flowing while cars honk at her, and Jin-ho sees her pass by.

Jin-ho and Sang-jun get back to the office, where they are greeted by a frantic Tae-hoon, who begs for his job back, offering up a carrot: he’s got a secret tip on the new museum project that Jin-ho is crashing cars trying to get. Is crazed and desperate going to be the only mode for this side character?
As Kae-in walks back home, her employee and “friend” Won-ho is hiding out from a couple of thugs who have come looking for him at her house. (Using the term “friend” loosely, as this girl seems to have surrounded herself with backstabbing vapidity and take-advantage-of-drunken-girl thievery as her friends. Between In-hee and Won-ho, who needs enemies?)
Kae-in doesn’t pick up Won-ho’s calls, but does see the collection letter once she gets home. He’s apparently borrowed the equivalent of $10,000 against the house, (don’t ask me how he managed to do so) leaving Kae-in neck-deep in debt and in danger of losing her home. Talk about a bad day.

Over at Jin-ho’s office, he and Sung-jun are getting the lowdown on the museum project from Tae-hoon. He tells them that according to his father, the head of the company who owns the museum fell in love with a han-ok (traditional Korean-style) house built by a renowned architect. He tried to hire said architect for the museum project, but the offer was declined. That architect is no longer in the picture, but the CEO still has lingering hopes for that style of architecture. Solution: if Jin-ho can get a peek at the original house that the exec fell in love with, he can design something inspired by the style, and win the contract. Ten guesses as to who the original architect is.
Kae-in broods in the dark, trying to convince herself that everything will work out. She may be on the dimmer side of Tuesday, but at least that keeps her positive and plucky rather than downtrodden.
To make matters worse, she gets a call from her father, informing her that he will be returning to Korea three months sooner than expected. Not only does this shorten her timeframe to save the house, but it seems to make her visibly uncomfortable on a personal level. One gets the impression from the very short conversation that Kae-in lives for Daddy’s approval but has yet to ever reach his impossible standards. She speaks very timidly and very formally to him, implying an emotional distance beyond the normal gruff disapproving father/underachieving daughter relationship.

In a sad little moment, Kae-in rushes over to In-hee’s empty room, forgetting for a moment the events of the day. Luckily, she does have one actual friend in the world, and Young-sun comes right over to be there for Kae-in. While unable to offer up any of her own money, Young-sun encourages her to eat up for her strength.
Sometimes I’m concerned that Kae-in is well, slow, but she’s not stupid so much as child-like, so maybe we can accept her as overly trusting, to the point of being the gullible patsy if people choose to take advantage of her. That seems to be the way that Young-sun sees her, so I’ll groove with that for a while until it starts defying all rational thought. When that happens, we will have words, Show.
We also find out from Young-sun that Kae-in lost her mother at a very young age, and her father loved his wife so much that he couldn’t face her death or the daughter she left behind. Okay, I’ve never really been good with this trope, because if you really had SO much capacity for love for another human being, how could you not have room in your heart for your own child who was born out of that love? Whatever, countless Kdramas over the past half century!

Back at the office, Jin-ho studies the few published pictures of the house, and Sang-jun arrives with his own backstory on the architect. The architect built the house for his wife whom he adored, and since her death he lives and teaches abroad, and his only daughter lives in the original house. Sang-jun thinks this’ll be a breeze, what with Jin-ho’s good looks and charm: just seduce your way into the house! He adds that since the mother was a legendary beauty, the daughter will naturally be a looker too. Jin-ho decides he’ll go the route of research, while Sang-jun should feel free to follow up on the daughter.
At home, Kae-in takes a moment to remember her mother as well, telling her that she wants her father to be proud, and is so afraid of disappointing him. She plays with a miniature replica of her mother’s rocking chair, where she used to rock little Kae-in to sleep in her arms. Scenes like this are why Sohn Ye-jin is perfect for this role. She can handle the drama and believable character pathos, beyond the cute and funny stuff.

We come back around to Kae-in in the morning, where she is speaking in a mysterious hushed tone to someone on the phone. So faced with insurmountable obstacles and debilitating self-doubt, who do you call? A phone-psychic! Ha. Bleary-eyed and dark saucers from talking all night, she asks the psychic for answers. The pc-bang-based quack blathers some obscurities about a savior who will come from the east. She asks, “Is it a man?” Psychic: “Not exactly a man.” Kae-in: “Then a woman?” Psychic: “Not exactly a woman.” Heh, wonder who that’ll be. Nice touch, to add her superstitious disposition into the mix.

She asks (just now!) how much the call costs, and at $1.50 per 30 seconds, she’s been completely had. She hangs up, just when Sang-jun comes knocking on her door, flowers in hand, ready to woo his way into the famed house.
Kae-in comes out looking like an alien-ghost, and crazily enough, the two recognize each other immediately. Sang-jun has two shocks: one at the sheer sight of her, then another when he realizes that she’s the wedding crasher from yesterday, the same furniture designer who clashed with Jin-ho over the form and function of dining tables.

Kae-in hides in mortification, but pops back out to ask if he came from the east. No, he did not, which rules him out as the foretold man/woman who will help her. Sang-jun runs off, thinking that she’s gone batty, with good reason, and that the house is a lost cause.
As if the last forty-eight hours haven’t been bad enough, Kae-in gets a call from the department store where she sells her furniture. She goes in to meet with the sales manager, and he tells her that they can no longer lease her the space due to low sales. She pleads, but the answer is no. The whole time, I can’t focus because I’m thinking, why is the manager a caricature-version of BOF‘s Gu Jun-pyo, with rolls of curly hair and an over-the-top ascot-laced suit? And then he gets up, and we see that his nametag reads: GU JUN-PYO. Ha.

Jin-ho decides to cash in on his promised meeting with Choi Do-bin at the art center, but runs into him on his way out to lunch with Chang-ryul’s dad. The two exchange passive-aggressive pleasantries, and Jin-ho says he’ll come back another time. What we have gathered about Chang-ryul’s father: he was once the right-hand man at the architecture firm that Jin-ho’s dad started, he took over the firm after Jin-ho’s father died, even kicking Jin-ho and his mother out of their family home. Also, we know that he is eeevil, by the scar on his eye and other such unsubtle clues.

Sung-jun sees them pass each other, and asks Jin-ho if maybe Chang-ryul’s dad is making another backdoor deal with the museum contract, just like he did with the Dream Art Center. He asks Jin-ho not to fight to the death on this one, just for personal revenge, considering this will be a make-or-break contract for their small firm. But Jin-ho is fired up, whether for his career or for his vendetta, and plans to see it through.
Looks like Chang-ryul’s father feels equally on edge with the competition, giving Chang-ryul an evil-version of a pep talk, involving a kick in the shins, belittling, berating, and a threat to exile him to China if he loses the contract to Jin-ho. Should be a good fight, since Chang-ryul is now equally motivated to do well, even if for bad reasons.
Kae-in and Young-sun are on their way back from the department store in a truck loaded with all of Kae-in’s unsold furniture, when they see Won-ho lurking around in front of her house. It just so happens that Jin-ho is also doing some lurking of his own, trying to take some pictures of the house, to little avail since not much is striking or visible from the outside.
Won-ho sees her coming and bolts. Kae-in gives chase. Jin-ho follows. That may seem weird, but then, have you ever just started running because someone is chasing you, even if you have no reason to? Maybe it’s a reflex.
Halfway through the chase Kae-in twists her ankle on her high-heels (does she have to be both dim AND clumsy, Show?), and asks Jin-ho to catch the guy for her. He obliges and manages to corner Won-ho, as Kae-in catches up.

Won-ho admits to spending all of the money, and has no explanation or platitudes to give her. Kae-in starts off yelling, then pleading, but by the end, she feels more sorry for Won-ho, asking if he’s been eating.
They relocate to a neighborhood restaurant, where Kae-in BUYS the weasel lunch, and Jin-ho listens in on the conversation. Kae-in tells Won-ho that her dad is returning sooner than expected, and that she needs the money fast. Kae-in: “It must be pretty dire, if I listed the spare bedroom up for rent at the realtor’s office today.” At this, Jin-ho’s wheels start turning.

Won-ho finishes his meal, then says he’s going to the bathroom, and sneaks off. Kae-in, the girl who would believe the sun will rise in the south if you told her convincingly enough, lets him go, and is then surprised to find that he’s run off. Jin-ho: “Are you an idiot?” Heh, well, points for directness.
He notices that her ankle is pretty bad, so despite her protests about hospital fees, he takes her to the hospital and even pays for the visit. Kae-in is definitely wary of his motivations for being so kind, while Jin-ho tries to teach her to just say thank you and be gracious. He tells her that instead of paying him back, she could let him see the house.

Jin-ho says he’s looking for a new place and happened to overhear her conversation with Won-ho. Kae-in goes from suspicious to incredulous. A man! And a woman! Living under one roof! We can’t have that. She refuses to let him even see the place.
They’ve reached her door and Jin-ho keeps trying to convince her, to no avail. But Young-sun answers the door and as soon as she sees him, without even knowing the situation, she tells him to wait outside and whatever it is, she’ll persuade Kae-in to change her mind. Can’t say I’d do any differently if he were standing on my doorstep.
Inside, Kae-in fills her in on Jin-ho’s offer to be her roommate, and Young-sun can’t imagine why she’d turn down this perfect opportunity. She needs money and a roommate; he has money and needs a room.

Besides, Young-sun reminds her: HE’S GAY, remember? To him, you might as well be an inanimate object. Kae-in wonders if that’s really how it works, and starts to warm up to idea, as the two girls imagine Jin-ho as the picture-perfect gay roommate, cooking elaborate meals, being the best shopping companion, and even doing facials together.

This persuades Kae-in to give it a chance, so Young-sun lets him in to take a look at the house. Kae-in is still very apprehensive about him, and he’s not exactly a fan of hers either, so the two are edgy and cold to each other. But Jin-ho is struck by the house. Frankly, so am I because I dig the indoor/outdoor and modern/traditional fusion going on in that house.

Back at the office, Jin-ho tells Sang-jun that he’ll be living with Kae-in from now on. Sang-jun can’t believe he managed it, and wonders if Kae-in has lusty feelings for Jin-ho, since she wouldn’t as a single woman let just any man into her home. Sang-jun tells Jin-ho that if the situation should arise, he should just take one for the team and go for it. Jin-ho assures him that won’t be happening. Oh, you don’t even know the half of it.
Meanwhile, the girls discuss the deliciousness of Jin-ho’s butt, as Young-sun can’t get enough of this hottie that she can never have. Kae-in does agree that he has a derriere to write home about, having grabbed a handful in the previous episode.
The four of them meet at the house to sign the lease, and basically Sang-jun and Young-sun facilitate the whole deal, while Jin-ho and Kae-in remain cold and hostile towards each other. Once the seals are stamped, Jin-ho’s true colors come out, as he insists Kae-in adhere to some cleanliness rules. Kae-in, not to be outdone, says fine, then he has to abide by her spatial rules—not being in restricted areas—or else any body parts in unsanctioned areas will be lopped off.

Young-sun and Sang-jun hold them back from what would have devolved into fisticuffs, and they manage to seal the deal. Sang-jun dotes on Jin-ho as a younger brother, but his gestures, like putting his hand on Jin-ho’s knee, help to solidify the girls’ belief that they are a couple. The boys don’t notice, and go about setting up Jin-ho’s room.
And then to really solidify the misconception that they are gay, Jin-ho cuts his leg on a piece of furniture, and here are the things the girls hear from outside the room, complete with R-rated sound effects:
Sang-jun: “Take your pants off…Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle…Okay, I’m going in…”

I know this is beside the point, but there’s no way that Sang-jun would be the top in that relationship. Just sayin’.
Young-sun just thinks their relationship is adorable, but Kae-in fills her in on Jin-ho’s motel tryst with his OTHER boyfriend, Tae-hoon, a beast of a guy who he mistreats terribly, and that’s only the guys they know about, so god knows how many men he’s actually dating. Kae-in thinks she’s just going to have to set some ground rules, while Young-sun wonders when she’ll get to see the beastly one.
Over at Casa de Backstab, In-hee returns from the honeymoon to her new place, only Chang-ryul’s been living there since their not-a-wedding because his father kicked him out. They bicker and yell, and at one point they’re stripping off their pajamas while yelling, and I thought for sure it would lead to a bow-chicka-bow-wow place, but apparently their hatred runs too deep. Honestly, you guys kind of deserve each other, so I wouldn’t mind. Now whether you deserve to be happy is a whole other question.
Jin-ho takes a tour of the house, and ends up in Daddy’s office, where he sneaks a peek at some blueprints. Then, while Jin-ho fields a call from his mom, Kae-in creeps up to the room in shadow, and scares the bejesus out of him and me.
She revs up the chainsaw (HA) that she has in her hands, serving as a reminder that all body parts in violation of the rules will be chopped off. Jin-ho screams like a little girl and runs for his life, while I die of laughter and watch the scene again.

And then, the craziest thing happens. In-hee shows up at Kae-in’s house, suitcase in tow, expecting to get her old room back. Hh? Wh? She actually says that since Kae-in ruined her wedding, she didn’t really end up with her boyfriend, so the past is in the past. The past? As in YESTERDAY? Is it possible you were raised by howler monkeys?
Kae-in can’t believe she’s dared to come here, and thank god that she isn’t folding in this situation because I would have to disown her. The argument goes from icy to shouting to full-on girly hair-pulling, which gets Jin-ho out of his room to complain about the noise, since he can hear everything.

In-hee can’t believe Kae-in rented the room so quickly, and to a man, and proceeds to tell Kae-in how she should live her life! And I am totally going to reach into my tv and pull the lips right off this girl!
Kae-in counters that In-hee must be interested in her new roommate because she wants to steal another guy from her, and In-hee just says matter-of-factly that she could get any guy to say yes to her. Well, is that a thing to be proud of?
But Kae-in, confident this time that she can shut In-hee up, announces that she can try a thousand years to seduce Jin-ho. It won’t work…because HE’S GAY.

So far, having not read the novel, and staying away from any and all spoilers, the ride is mostly predictable, with the only twist being the presumption of homosexuality. But we’re only two in, so I’m hoping there are more comic surprises and new twists in story conventions to be had, as I do enjoy the characters (mostly the main four).
I’m relying on the developing relationship between the leads to be fresh and full of new problems, which I think it can deliver on. Even if this drama were lazy and rehashed Coffee Prince-esque angst, it has to diverge at some point because its premise approaches the gay question from a different angle, so hopefully they’ll be mining new territory, instead of side-stepping the issue.

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