Here it is, the first installment of my “Favorite K-drama Moments” series. I’ve taken some video clips and I’m trying to figure out how to make them better quality, but these work for now. Please enjoy!
By nature, this post contains spoilers.
This was my first K-drama. It holds a special place in my heart as does everyone’s first K-drama. So many things were new to me and really stuck out to me. I remember being puzzled at why he always called her by her whole name, “Go Mi-nam.” I was confused by the difference in speech cadences (which I later found out was because he was using banmal/informal speech and she was using jondae/formal speech.) What were these words “oppa” and “hyung” and “hyungnim”. What was up with the guyliner?
But all of that was memorable because of the novelty. There are two moments that stick with me because of the weighty emotional impact of the scenes.
Hwang Tae-kyung (JANG GEUN-SUK) has had a really crappy birthday. His mother tried to trick him into working with her and then drops the bomb: I wish you’d never been born. OUCH.
Go Mi-nam (PARK SHIN-HYE) has taken it upon herself to make his birthday a success although each attempt is a failure. He appreciates it anyway. At the end of the night, she puts her arms around him and tells him, “Thank you for being born.”
This scene really hit home the first time I watched it. Tae-kyung isn’t used to love outside of fan adulation. His mom just broke his heart into tiny pieces and when Go Mi-nam thanks him for being born, you can see the little pieces coming back together. He is barely able to comprehend what he’s feeling.
Then, in his emotionally stunted way, he thanks her by saying, “banmal hajima,” or, “don’t use banmal/informal language.” The banmal usage on Mi-nam’s part conveys a closeness and this, too, jars him.
What a powerful, amazing moment of friendship.
Tae-kyung has let Mi-nam go and everyone is telling him that he’s a blockhead and has made a huge mistake. One of these people is his mother, Mo Hwa-ran (KIM SUNG-RYUNG), the very same mother that has continually shred his poor little heart into ribbons.
What this very damaged (and crazy) woman has come to discover is that she has lost the one person she thought would always be there. This shocks her out of her selfish dreamworld that she’s been living in.
She has come to tell Tae-kyung that she is sorry, absolutely flooring him. She also tells him not to lose the one he loves, the first real motherly act she’s ever done.
I’m a total sucker for parent/child moments. This woman was so hateful during this drama I didn’t even think she could redeem herself. With this scene, I softened towards her (not THAT much, but enough.)
Tae-kyung has learned about forgiveness from Go Mi-nam and has grown because of his love for her. He finally calls Hwa-ran “mother,” which is a huge turning point for this boy with so many mommy issues.
Ah, Sang-doo. This was Rain’s acting debut and man was it an AMAZING debut. This is a melodrama about two lovers that were separated for a long time and come together again. Life has not been kind to them and keeps finding ways to wrench them apart. He was thrown in jail. Her mother moved her away. He has a child. She gets engaged. Either one or the other is unwilling to act on his or her love. It’s all about the “could-have-beens” of their relationship.
It’s also about life and how it never goes the way we want it to. Illness, lying, betrayal, money, weakness, family.
One of the most important aspects of Sang-doo is that the title character (RAIN) became a father. Because of a troubled childhood, he has sworn to be the best father he possibly can. He has even stooped as low as to become a jebi (gigolo) to make money. Why? His daughter, Bo-ri (SONG MIN-JOO) has leukemia and hospital bills are expensive.
When he discovers his daughter’s hair is falling out, the doctor suggests shaving it because the process is very traumatizing for the child and family. But shaving all of one’s hair off is also shocking and Sang-doo is troubled over how to go about it.
Since Bo-ri has a mad little crush on her doctor, Kang Min-suk (LEE DONG-GUN), the doc and Sang-doo come up with a plan. The doc pretends to fawn over a picture of a bald Demi Moore from G.I. Jane. Bo-ri naturally wants to be the kind of girl that the doc wants and asks Sang-doo to shave her head.
Shaving a cancer patients hair off is one of the “realest” signs for the patient and their family that the cancer is present, eating away at vital body parts and creating pain. In Sang-doo’s case, it finally hits him how ill his child is, the child that he struggled to care for during the past seven years.
He asks her to sing a song over and over again to give him the strength to get through the process of cutting, and then shaving, her hair.
This moment is so intense and real that my eyes are misting even just typing this. It’s a father’s love and pain.
The second moment from Sang-doo revolves around the OTP. Sang-doo and Eun-hwan (GONG HYO-JIN) have bad timing. They lost track of each other while he was in jail and after he was released. When he finally finds her again, she’s engaged to the doctor who’s caring for his child. She is resistant to accepting him again, having “come to terms” with her love for him, accepting its end and moving on. Or so she thought.
Sang-doo, in his attempts to reconcile with Eun-hwan, has gone back to high school. On a field trip, he’s feeling particularly emotionally weary and starts wandering. He finds that his feet knew where they were going: a cave by the ocean that was a special spot for him and Eun-hwan.
He has a vision of high-school aged Eun-hwan in pigtails, smiling and unaffected by worldly troubles. Seeing her happy again makes him feel safe and he confesses he is tired – and not just physically. She comforts him by sitting close.
Then the vision walks away and is replaced by an older Eun-hwan who sits beside him and offers him the comfort of her presence.
When he realizes she is no longer his vision, he rises, thinking she is still shunning him. Instead, she confesses her love and decides to stop denying her feelings for him.
This moment is so powerful because it crams so many different emotions into four minutes: despair, emotional fatigue, heartache, love and hope.
What are your favorite moments in these dramas? What did you think of the moments I shared?
Favorite K-drama Moments: Introduction