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07 August 2010 @ 11:10 pm
Henriette and Francesca [Yi Jung x Ga Eul] [Yi Jung x Eun Jae (implied]  
Title: Henriette and Francesca
Pairing: Yi Jung x Ga Eul, Yi Jung x Eun Jae (implied)
Fandom: Hana Yori Dango (Boys Before Flowers), KOREAN version
Genre: Angst, Introspective
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3,802

Precautionary A/N: I might've taken experimental writing too far in some parts. Certain sections are extremely confusing and ambiguous. Nonetheless, this fic is the first I've written in a long time that I'm relatively satisfied with both stylistically and thematically. It's a compilation of various ideas I've had in my head for a while. Also, it's definitely one of those "write for yourself and no one else" stories.

 

Henriette and Francesca

 

 

They who believe that a woman is not enough to make a man equally happy all the twenty-four hours of a day have never known a Henriette...Having read a great deal and having natural taste, Henriette judged rightly of everything.

 

—Giacomo Casanova on Henriette, 1749

 

I am pleased to know that you are in good health, that you are stout and that you have a good appetite and sleep well...Full of confidence in your friendship, I am, and always will be, your true and sincere friend.

 

Francesca Buschina to Casanova, 5th October 1787

 

“Of the countless, faceless women he ever knew, only two he remembered. One stole his heart and the other earned his friendship. Although Henriette was his first great love, Francesca was his last enduring confidant.”

 

i.                     henriette had one too many names; shape-shifted to fuel the flame

 

No matter how desperately he tried to forget her, to rewrite the events (self-satisfy his delusions), he just couldn’t. She was his first love, oldest memory, and freshest scar. It’s a secret he frantically hid from the outside world. It’s an agony he bottled stonily inside, locked and keyed under the wrinkles of history.  

 

Through deep whether-pain and back, he gained copious wisdom and scores of insight for the universe. Cunning and cutting, he burnished himself brilliant and stainless. His tongue was a serpent fork, and his mind sliced and divided like a cool, steel blade.

 

As for his heart (gnawed and vomited) he will successfully gorge it on venom and crimson nails.

 

Pissed gutter, litter drifting on alleyside-rain, he contemplated of missed (taken) timing and gutless souls. The thought of mortality and an immortal coil was enough to petrify him out of sloth and loss. He was a coward, but cowardice was also a type of strength.

 

. . .

 

His brother got married the day he left. Auspices to trash unnecessary pieces.

 

It’s sick, it’s slick, it’s exactly the unpredictable shit his brother would do. Not out of spite, Il Hyun was too noble for wrath and malice. Fuck his (anti)heroic complex and messianic guilt. They chose that date purposely because of pity. Didn’t want him there, didn’t care to handle the reactive, apocalyptic chain of events.

 

And they thought: after four years apart, he will be fine. He will forget (forgive).

 

Yi Jung didn’t grind their patience or mince their dreams. Instead, he sent them a wedding gift.

 

. . .

 

He didn’t dawdle on his European dalliances. Brannigans and shenanigans, he experienced them all. Suffice to say, he had one hell of a time.  

 

Every great artist had a sin, and his voucher for inferno (o high muses, help me now) was women. He liked sex far too much. That was reality, deal with it. So spare him the religious homily and the pious patrimony (he got the money in cash from daddy already).   

 

“There’s no thrill.”

 

They came willingly, knew the risks. What’s wrong with that? –he wanted to ask.

 

“Sweden was chill.”

 

Setting the record straight, the girls approached him first. Calling him Casanova, they deified him. He didn’t initiate the illusions.

 

“Virgins are overkill.”

 

Ji Hoo abruptly stopped walking (tripped over castles in the air) and turned to face him. Damn, he’d mumbled that one aloud too.

 

. . .

 

Before things got hot and contentious with Ga Eul, he needed to clarify some false impressions and calibrate the setting. He’d broken his three champion rules with her already, and he wasn’t about to absolve the ancillary ones. Every commander depended on loyal subordinates during emergencies. He was merely protecting all angles and sides from a pre-emptive strike.

 

No. One, he didn’t believe in exclusivity.

 

No. Two, he wasn’t going to atone for his womanizing ways.

 

No. Three, he won’t condone melodramatics.

 

When it came to dishonest behaviour, the best policy was honesty.  

 

Also, it was tremendously lucky that they knew each other so well. Dating was like gambling or stock speculation, reserved for the big boys with their billion-dollar mercenary teams. One miscalculated move and you’re an automatic goner. He dug out the machetes and machine guns.

 

“Ga Eul,” Yi Jung cleared his throat and any hindering, preceding misconceptions, “Would you like to have dinner with me?”

 

Her face lit up—that no one could deny, photographic evidence—and she agreed. He was gruesomely ecstatic with glowing indifference.

 

 

. . .

 

Cloud nine sped by far too quick and rough to be appreciated. Rush, push, and brush the lush, before a thousand ages have been sung, the sun was set and eternity escaped on. It’s a tragedy, it’s a comedy (Dante elaborated David’s psalms), and could’ve been burlesque or caricature. By the time he worked through grottos and beyond canyons, his hypotheses have become obsolete.

 

How do you explain evolution in seven days, creation in four, and divinity in three?
 –it’s hard to say

 

He’s giving resignation a chance to ferment. From the septic rot of muddy mire, came the sweetest pomegranates. Harvest season was also slaughter season. One hacked dead and two fed fat. Swallowed brine and the zealous zest of leftover December pine.    

 

Cloying and drenched in glory (gory shards, blasted mute), he took out a pen and began to write. The sentences formatted themselves and left empty room for thoughts to complete.

 

Dear Eun Jae and Il Hyun,

 

strike, start again. More formal and less intense. It’s not a profession of faith or confession of love. It’s a greeting from an estranged relation out of nowhere and dusted in blue.

 

. . .

 

He saw her unexpectedly one morning on his way to the studio. Lingering outside a neighbourhood grocery store, he ran into brick and gravel. Four years later and heavily pregnant with his brother’s kid, Eun Jae still had the eerie, demonic ability to tune chords with his heartstrings. Love, he thought (what is it else?)

 

—is a madness indiscreet, a choking lull, and deteriorating sweet.

 

Arms burdened with that day’s supply of zucchinis and beans, she smiled and stammered an awkward hello. Her other child, the boy, zipped behind her legs and grabbed on fierce and tight, as if he were afraid she would vanish traceless, and abandoned he would be.

 

Yi Jung kneeled down to face the boy, studying him intensely and memorizing the smooth ellipses and tilting hyperbolas of his bones. For future reference, to be used as a biological weapon against his virtuous brother.

 

“He looks like Il Hyun.”

 

Eun Jae licked her lips and pulled her son closer by the shoulder, gripping onto tendon and sinking flesh.  

 

“We should catch up.”

 

Eun Jae blinked.

 

“Like now. How about it?”

 

She shifted uncomfortably and couldn’t quite match his gaze. He was dangerous and ruinous, saw plain and lucid through her skin. “Maybe some other day,” she said, like never.

 

Eun Jae hurried past him. Her son turned back for one final look. Yi Jung waved and smirked.

 

. . .

 

It was Ga Eul’s birthday, for real this time, and he thought it best if he got her something special. Not something his usual, stereotypical special, but exceptional. Jewellery was excessive (they’ve only been dating for a few months) and clothing was intimately improper and indulgent (it’s an on-and-off thing). Briefly, he considered getting her a cake and bouquet and then remembered.

 

Oh, right. Not okay.

 

He passed the lingerie section for the fourth time running. The sales assistants shot him weird looks (outré, monsieur roué?). And then, genius, the idea cracked open shell and hailed the flood-gates. He’ll get her a watch. She’ll love it. He was positive.

 

Punctual, abrupt, and efficient, a watch suited her perfectly. Peas of a pod, SLR camera on stilted tripod, a watch would be her appendage reattached.

 

Now are our chaos hour ascend? He was a man wiggling out from indecisive landslide. One little piggy, two little piggies, three little piggies and a thumb.

 

“Have it gift-wrapped and find a card too.”

 

He waited at the restaurant. She was late.

 

. . .

 

Knobby knees and scratchy elbows, the philosophers’ pinch, humdrum religion in rhythm and rhyme.

 

She liberated the card from its heavy parchment-prison. A single line flowed in calligraphic arabesques, jaundice-puce (purple printing on pale yellow). She’s touched. She’s surprised. Vigilant, she’s keeping locked the insane.

 

“Touché.”

 

“What?” Ga Eul put down the card. Gentle now, don’t crease the lace.

 

“I think I’m falling for you.”

 

She narrowed her eyes and varnished the suspicions to shine. “Is that a line? Yi Jung-sunbae, how many times do I have to warn you against using them on me? They don’t work.”

 

“It’s a line, what else could it be. I’m all lines, no shapes or curves. I must be cursed.”

 

“Are you feeling okay?”

 

“Don’t know, am I feverish?”

 

Desultory languish and entropic anguish in happily ever never-never-land. It’s in a small crevice where truth collides and festers. It wasn’t a hell he’d voluntarily visit.

 

. . .

 

Chewing on the end of a bad cigar, encircled with genuine gold filigree, Yi Jung stored away the precise number of time that lapsed. He didn’t need to be reminded of hours, weeks, months, and age. Growing old was a rational phobia that seeped and stewed because of rancid rancour. Another pinpoint sore on the calendar board, and he might as well hang himself now, up to dry, sunny and breezy, seaside jaunty.

 

He’s going on twenty-five. Even sleeping has become a chore.

 

His nephew flew down the sliding chute, hands fluttering maniacally and laughing like static in analogue heaven. The kid’s got guts, major fits for fury. He can dive vertebrae-snapped into dirt and surface unscathed, scalped at most. And he’ll shrug it off to have another go.

 

Yi Jung envied the kid. It tore him up inside, bruised in the wrong places, and screamed for mercy. He observed the clandestine conversation between Ga Eul and Eun Jae (the only permanent ladies in his life, sadly). Didn’t know why girls sulked after him. Sometimes stalked, but those were the rare ones auditioning for sainthood.

 

Each of his friends had an original theory. Woo Bin, his best man and naïve defender, claimed that it’s simple. He was hot and rich. What else did girls look for? Jun Pyo said it’s ‘cause he’s a badass player and all the ladies wanna a hit, am I right or am I right, bro?

 

Pity and valour, Ji Hoo dissected the predicament. The girls pitied him and valiantly tried to help. But they got messed up and strangled along the way. Ji Hoo wielded guilt like a whore with cheap lipstick, ample and in multiple shades.

 

“Take that!”

 

Yi Jung fell backwards, dreaming of clouds and wispy birds, with his nephew sitting smugly on his chest. Goddamn, he really was too old for this crap.

 

. . .

 

He’s leaving again.

 

He told Eun Jae first because she was first (seniority reasons). They met in a wayward noodle shop that doubled as an ice cream parlour. High in the mountains, it’s not a location easily seen. Thick bamboo trees barricaded the small shop from outside view and the long road up was treacherous to take. It’s a paradise undeserved. 

 

Over greasy, pan-fried, slippery, and salty jajangmyeon, he vented out the pent-up, poison-shut frustrations tethered for decades. Eun Jae listened carefully, sombrely, and shrewdly removed the alcohol.

 

“Why Beijing? For how long?”

 

“Museum investment. Four weeks,” not years.

 

“Have you told her yet?”

 

“Not yet. I thought I should tell you first.”

 

“When’re you leaving, Yi Jung?”

 

“Tomorrow.”

 

Outside, it started to rain. And all of a sudden, there was the clash of thunder ringing deaf.

 

ii.                   francesca offered a million too much; mystified, she won’t release clutch

 

Eun Jae was a mystery she didn’t like or felt particularly compelled to solve. She was just so damn nice, and niceness (Ga Eul learned from personal experience) was something to tread around cautiously. Especially people who were naturally nice (such as herself). Niceness inevitably ended in cataclysmic combat.

 

But Eun Jae was an old acquaintance and older teacher, and so, Ga Eul couldn’t politely decline. A week after Yi Jung left, she pressed and ironed her red skirt and the lavender-dotted sheer blouse. Took the bus eastbound, lips pursued and nervous, she arrived as the horizon faded to black.  

 

“Do you love him?” Eun Jae asked—direct and serious to the nitty-gritty dirty verdict.

 

“Well,” it wasn’t a question easily answered, “I don’t really know. I mean, I think I do...”

 

“If you love someone wholeheartedly, utterly, then you can work through any difficulties. Isn’t that what the famous poets preach?”

 

“It’s supposed to be like that. Love is...it provides you strength.”

 

“In limited quantities. You can love someone with a pure heart and still be miserable. Love doesn’t necessarily mean understanding. Understanding between two people is what nourishes a relationship, keeps you glued together forever.”

 

“But it doesn’t feel right if I don’t even give it a shot.”

 

“You shouldn’t stay with him just because you’ll feel bad. He’s going to figure it out eventually.”

 

“It’s more complicated than that. I’ve known him for so long, and I’ve liked him for so long. I even waited for him when he was in Sweden all those years. Can you imagine that?”

 

“I’ve known him his whole life, Ga Eul. He’s a good person, but he’s not a good man.”

 

Ga Eul wondered what she meant by that. Good was good. And bad was bad.

 

. . .

 

Jan Di was finally getting married. It’s set, officialized. Five years late and five hundred omens behind, Jan Di will walk down that aisle under a veil.

 

(In her sun-kissed, sleeveless dress, always like the white of death, and: “hello, my dear.” Motionless undo, exist no mightier than adieu. Whisper-selves and violet whiskers whipped into mush, rambled on with miles and tales siphoning through.)

 

“Congrats!”

 

They popped open the champagne and rapidly gulped fuzzy buzz (buzzed high). They’re getting drunk and giddy, jamming to the millennial generation beat. Tonight, it’s the night.

 

“I’m so excited for you! When’s the big date?”

 

(Pyjama bottoms and bunny feet, skid the disc wide and sleek. “Send me off in a riot. Send me off encased in hysterics.” Hold rigid in the ribs. It’s gonna be an execution in hissing fits.)

 

. . .

 

Facing true north, there was a hill sprinkled with yellow daisies that sloped into an entrance. Enter the double-bolted, double-spelled lime green doors. Doors swinging shut behind, into a brightly lit hallway (cue laughter of children and screeching delight), out of the ashes (fan-dust and kid-tracked grime), stopping in front of Room –

 

He was there.

 

Spooked, she turned to the glide of glass and symphony in curtained silk. A flutter, a gust, an august guest in August dove. Oh.

 

“Yi Jung-sunbae?”

 

“Found you.”

 

“You’re...back.”

 

“One month exact. Aren’t you glad to see me, Ga Eul?”

 

“Yes, very, a lot.”

 

He produced a dozen roses from nowhere (behind his back) and dropped to bended knee, forever the charmer, ever the lying knight in white. She reluctantly accepted the flowers. Her students were in for a treat.

 

. . .

 

Ha Jae Kyung was an eccentric woman with eccentric tastes.

 

For her wedding to her dearest beloved (splotchy nose and Caesar chin who sspoke wiss a lisssp), she insisted on a trans-continental, joint-dualistic creation. Whatever that meant, the wedding planner didn’t particularly care, since Mme Ha Jae Kyung had access to god’s Swiss account. 

 

So, Mlle Wedding Planner (from her Parisian office) arranged for a Hagia Sophia ceremony and a separate, secondary Sri Lankan reception. Byzantine minarets and floating parapets, Ha Jae Kyung got any architectural detail she wanted. Someone was getting a hefty bonus in her salary.

 

Hair braided with cowry shells, Jae Kyung looked like an aboriginal princess toasting her guests. Behind her, under a white canopy, Sitātapatrā, on loan from the Kelaniya Temple, towered and glowered in rigor rictus. (The Theravada monks had the statue banished as a Vajrayana sacrilege.)

 

“I’m having doubts.”

 

“About what?”

 

“The wedding.”

 

“Isn’t it kinda late for that?”

 

“Not Jae Kyung-unni’s, mine!”

 

“Jan Di, you can’t be thinking of calling it off. His mom will kill you. He will kill you. They will kill you.”

 

“Maybe, I don’t know. We need to talk.”

 

“Quick, smile. Unni’s looking our way.”

 

Sitātapatrā silently howled. Ten thousand virtues and a thousand heads aside:

 

 

Only those with great virtue and great goodness will attain it.
Those lacking virtue and goodness just won't understand it.

 

Then come five eyes and six penetrations and the Way opens up.

 

 

The food was fabulous. Everything’s fantastic.

 

. . .

 

The first time they slept together, it’s a complete disaster.

 

As expected from drama clichés (the omissions and deleted scenes), none of them enjoyed it much. She was embarrassed, hovering in the corner like a euthanized ghost and burning up angst. Alone in frozen, tumbled sheets, he felt criminal.

 

. . .

 

Occasionally, when the world spiralled out of control and he was too drunk to drive or if she’s feeling bizarrely (wicked) spontaneous, she’ll spend the night at his place. Slowly, she guided him home, single step, and delicately propped him on the bed. Like an accidental devotion gone awry, she couldn’t bring herself to leave and just happened to crash nearby.

 

He was so young and lonely slouching-sat-up and one leg limply dangling. He talked in his sleep and wrestled her down, entangled them both. She extricated herself, then his shoes, and set the alarm. From the doorway, she’d watch him with a rising sigh, posing the wrong questions and receiving no replies.

 

Yi Jung groaned, and Ga Eul smiled. He was wonderful when asleep, cute and innocent and a boxed-in enigma to be revealed. She can peel back tape and shred up cardboard for aeons, but she’d still only exhume a mummified liver and necrotic heart.

 

So, she flicked off the light and dragged herself to a guestroom and slept to appease the dead. In the morning, he won’t remember a thing except the stubborn stench of beer-battered tar.   

 

. . .

 

He called her in sporadic, erratic intervals. But he appeared like a chronic plague, had been hibernating and gaining magnitude in shallow microbial graves. Prevention was the best cure, and she had a syringe full of wary concern.

 

Once, after a date, he brought her to the old Namsan stairs. They paused just before the top step, under the willow, and he reached for her hand. Startled, Ga Eul felt him lean closer, closer and

 

“Sunbae, wait.”

 

“Are you going to reject me again, Ga Eul?” he teased.

 

“I think—
(there’s a space that can’t be bridged)
I want—
(there’s a time that can’t be spanned)
I know—”

 

“Ga Eul, you understand me better than anyone else.”

 

That’s the problem, you see.
She understood him far too well.

 

. . .

 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.

 

Ga Eul dog-eared the sonnet and set the book aside. The kettle whistled from the stove. She brought out two tea cups and the hazelnut cookies. In her tiny kitchen, drippy tissues scattered over the flimsy wooden tabletop. An impressive porcelain vase dominated the centre spot.

 

Jan Di broke the engagement on a Wednesday. On Friday, she packed her bags and refused to say where she’s going. By Saturday, she’d purchased a one-way flight to Hong Kong. Armed with mediocre Chinese and a modest sum (to be exchanged when she gets there), she was leaving for good, no regrets. Sunday morning came by and Jan Di prepared for departure—last day in Seoul—the only way she knew how.

 

“You’ll make yourself sick if you keep stuffing your face.”

 

“Ga Eul, if I don’t eat, I’ll cry. And I’ve already used up all your tissues.”

 

“You don’t have to go.”

 

“But I should, yeah?”

 

“I just don’t get it. Don’t you two love each other? Why’re you breaking things off suddenly?”

 

“Because it’s not enough.”

 

And it’s taken her that long to learn it.

 

Because love only stretched so far, bandaged so much, and realized too few ideals. A marriage consuming solely hearts (no brains) ate itself into cannibalistic overdose. Stagnant, decrepit, love and all its pure intents drove blind into a black comatose.  

 

. . .

 

“How’s Jun Pyo-sunbae?”

 

“He’s hanging on.”

 

“She didn’t mean it. To hurt him.”

 

“That doesn’t change anything.”

 

. . .

 

Ga Eul didn’t stay over if she could help it; he noticed the pattern by now. But on the nights she did, she always took long, hot showers and drained his house. Sometimes, she hummed to the background pitch of the drizzle. Seldom, she sang aloud and true.

 

When she emerged, wrapped in a fluffy towel, he thought back to all the women he’s been with—and how different they each looked naked. Pale, tawny, blushed, or flushed. They were beautiful stripped of security.

 

“The dryer’s over there.”

 

She thanked him and combed out her hair.

 

Water beads trickled down her back to her thin thighs and coltish calves, slithered along her silhouette and onto marble. Minutes later, she’d materialize, dried and warm in a robe. She’d sit with him on the bed, entwining her legs with his. She liked the lights dimmed and classical music softly playing (Liszt was her favourite.) She liked nestling against the crook of his neck and muttering lines from fairytale books.

 

They were content. It’s odd. He felt uneasy. He wanted this moment preserved forever.  

 

. . .

 

Slapped by lightning and intoxicated rage, she slipped out of bed (crept tip-toe to not wake him). On the terrace, shivering alone, she listed infinity and tallied the chips. She lit a cigarette, pilfered from his suit pocket, and dialled the phone.

 

“Eh? Jan Di? What? Ah.”

 

An epiphany was difficult to dismiss. She tried to justify it (the thought that eluded butcher polish), but the arguments kept scamming her. Soon, she’s back at nil.

 

. . .

 

Rain emitted a fragrance tough to miss. It’s virulent, inclusive, and leeched into cotton and wool. Plastic was exempt because it was fake. And so, Ga Eul hoisted her scarlet-slashed umbrella overhead and inched near the sidewalk edge.

 

She’s in heels, strange but nice, and her new dress was getting soaked by the second. She checked her watch (the one her mother gave her years ago). It’s almost time. A taxi pulled up, veered in front. She signalled for the trunk to be opened and in went her cherry-red suitcase.

 

“Airport, please.”

 

Gripped in her hand was a one-way ticket.

 

He’ll be fine (she left a note)
She’ll call him soon (she promised so)
On the other side of the world: hello

 

 

 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 8th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
One day is always good. It took me almost a year to get through the korean one. XD

You know it.
.: 005corposant on August 9th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
I like this a lot. I like that both Jan Di and Ga Eul leave. I like that they realize that somethings can't be changed.
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 9th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
I do too. :) It's an idea I've been trying to write on, but couldn't quite say it outright (I almost feel bad for Yi Jung) until now.
.: 004corposant on August 9th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
This is something that has bothered me about K-dramas and a lot of romantic comedies in general. They always need to wrap everything up in a neat bow. I have always wanted the females leads to realize that they don't need to put up how they are being treated and leave. Thank you for writing that!

(I feel bad for Yi Jung too, but I think it is better this way. For both of them.)
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 9th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC)
I completely agree. It's like: oh hey, yeah, there's a million problems with your relationship, but since you LOVE each other SO MUCH, everything will work out fine! Gawd, logical fallacy. *facepalm*
.: 001corposant on August 9th, 2010 04:50 am (UTC)
Exactly! I really wanted to love Boys Before Flowers. Both Jan Di and Ga Eul are suppose to be a strong female characters, but I was really bothered by how the story continuously belittle their agency. At the end of the day, they still had to be saved by a boy. I really wanted both Jan Di and Ga Eul to save themselves--to realize that they don't need a knight in the shining armor and that they can be their own person outside of their love. At the end of the series, I was really frustrated by they were treated. (But again, I guess no one praises K-dramas for being feminist.) Anyways, I especially enjoyed your take, because you gave back these two girls their own agency. For me, this is a way more satisfying ending.
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 9th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
Indignation directed at damsels-in-distress and beastly princes is the only reason why I write fanfic.

This is so true, especially in the Korean drama. It was slightly subverted in the Japanese one because Tsukushi (Jan Di) and Tsukasa (Jun Pyo) matured somewhat in their relationship. (And even that, I speak with great reluctance.) Nonetheless, why the hell would anyone rationally take the abusive, megalomaniac asshole over the nice guy? Oh wait, girl-dramas exist to spite logic.

When Ga Eul "broke things off" with Yi Jung on the stairs, I kept thinking "omg, this is it, finally!" but no, he had to return from Sweden.
.: 002corposant on August 9th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
I noticed how in all your stories, you always wrote female characters as being in touch with themselves and not afraid.

I've never seen the Japanese version. I remember watching the Taiwanese production from a while back. Although it wouldn't make it past any sort of light feminist analysis, I thought it respected its female leads more. What I liked about that story was how both Shan Cai (Jan Di) and Dao Ming Si (Jun Pyo) had to fight for their relationship in the end. The Korean version had Jan Di in charge for only 20 minutes of the first episode, after which she was subjected to everybody else's actions. She was always being pulled around, fooled, tricked, and then subsequently saved. She started story conflicts, but it was always someone else who have to rescue her and finish what she started.

The Jun Pyo character I don't think I'll ever quite understand. So it's okay for your boyfriend to be controlling and destructive as long as he loves you very, very much? I wish the writers had made him change more drastically through the course of the series. It's a missed opportunity. No matter how much he loves her, I don't think he ever respected her enough to allow her to make her own decisions; he always had to do things for her own good and save her from the world, and even herself. It was just too patronizing to me.

I did think the Korean version handled Ga Eul's storyline more gracefully. I wanted her to grow out of Yi Jung, and like you, thought she did for a second. I really think she deserves better. Maybe Yi Jung in ten years, but not when he had just returned from Sweden.

I didn't realize I had so much pent up frustrations over this series!
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 9th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
Lol. I can't help it. Some secret part of me is screaming: for the love of cake, don't be this pathetic. Grow a spine, hell, grow a brain.

It's okay, hon, just let it all out. This is the beauty of fandom.

Personally, I didn't see any "deeper" attraction between Jun Pyo and Jan Di. What, okay, so he's brazen enough to declare his feelings (gawd, like some damn, ugly cliche) to the world. That suddenly nullifies all his past actions and character infirmities??? I mean, sure to each his own, but he's just ridiculous. Also, by staying with him, she's just enabling him further. Ugh, what a brilliant catch-22 that'll end up being.

Yeah, the lack of respect Jun Pyo had for Jan Di (for anyone really) was extremely irritating. It chewed me up inside that the ONLY person who ever reproached him was his sister. Except, she totally pussied out when it came to "love."

I love Ga Eul and Yi Jung together, kind of. Haha. It's hard to explain. It was really touching how she helped him face his personal demons. Can't imagine myself ever endeavoring something like that; I'd prolly shove him aside and poke and laugh (I'm horrible, I know). But I sort of wanted their relationship to remain platonic or an unresolved romance at most. Even if he stopped being so fatalistic and cynical, it still doesn't change who he is innately, which is basically an inveterate playboy. There are so many potential problems if they started dating. Better to play it safe.

I like how our convo has turned into a complete rant (but an intelligent one!) on the series. xD Would you mind if I added you?
.: 005corposant on August 9th, 2010 06:18 am (UTC)
I definitely scream at the screen a lot. The reason I can't watch a lot of K-dramas is because I get so mad at the shows for how they portray female characters and gender dynamics. And what's up with the all the repressed female sexual desires? I understand that Asian societies tend to be more conservative, but it's really outrageous how it's almost always the guy who initiates. Jan Di initiates only one kiss throughout the entire series. She doesn't even initiates hugs! I've noticed this in every drama I've seen. The girl is always passive in these encounters, and the guy is always the aggressor. She protests and he overwhelms.

Jan Di and Jun Pyo really didn't work for me either. I don't think I could have let the relationship go if it was not for Lee Min Ho stealing my heart with that megawatt smile (it appears my indignation is not completely immune to a great smile). The way this production was written, the Jan Di and Ji Hoo relationship was so much more organic, respectful, and healthy. If only the writers could have done the same for Jun Pyo!

I really liked Jun Pyo's sister! But I think her giving up on love worked for her character though and I think she redeemed herself by helping her brother. Ha Jae Kyung was my favorite female character. She understood herself and was not afraid to fight for what she wanted and in the end, she had the strength to let go. I loved that she respected both Jan Di and Jun Pyo's choices and exited gracefully.

I love Ga Eul and Yi Jung too and was rooting for them, but at the same way wishing they left me hanging. I think the potential was there. But the story somehow failed to hit the right notes. They were close though. I just wished for something more.

I'm really enjoying this convo! I don't have a lot of people who I can rant about K-dramas with! And I would love to be added and I'm adding you right back.
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 10th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
Weak!female and aggressive!male is the classical trademark of Asian dramas. I must be really masochistic (possibly sadomasochistic) since I watch them for the sole purpose of raging at them later, screaming "POETIC JUSTICE!!!" Lol.

Lee Min Ho (and Kim Bum) made the drama for me because they were just so...pretty. Also, I figured: for me to REALLY hate Jun Pyo's character, it must be a good indication that LMH acted out his role well.

Jin Hoo was just fantastic. I loved how they underscored the distinction between the "lover" and the "soulmate." Of course, you'd think she'd choose the "soulmate" since it's obviously the sensible choice. Humph. HA JAE KYUNG IS BADASS AND THAT'S THAT! xD

I kept waiting for a movie to "sum up" the series, like they did with the Japanese version. But...all they did was that crappy special episode that turned out to be 99.9 percent flashbacks.
.: 004corposant on August 10th, 2010 06:07 am (UTC)
The sameness of Asian dramas frustrates me to no end. We get the same basic plot lines (Cinderella stories, love triangles, misunderstandings, webs of lies, gender ineqaulity, etc.) and the same character archetypes. I start watching dramas every time harboring the vain hope that this one is going to be different. Of course, that never really happens. I think I'm a masochist too, because I let myself watch these shows just so I can get angry with them!

Ah, Kim Bum was also very good looking in BBF. Maybe I watch K-dramas for eye candy. Lee Min Ho definitely carried the show for me. I didn't particularly care for the actress who played Jan Di. I don't think I could have sat through all 20-something episode if it wasn't for LMH and KB.

The after stories were a waste of time.

This reminds me, have you seen Soulmate? It's a K-drama from 2006. And it's probably my favorite because it defied all most Asian drama stereotypes. Although not perfect, it took risks, played with non-linear story-telling, and had a very satisfying ending. It's short (12 episodes) and I highly recommend it! (There's even an alpha-female seductress!)
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 11th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
Have you seen Cinderella's Sister? I heard that it's a break-away from the usual Asian drama storlylines.

KB is just so...pretty. He's not hot, or sexy, or handsome. He's just pretty. Lol. Which is fine cos pretty boys are better anyway, IMO.

No I have not, but I will look into it. Also, 12 episodes is like a godsend right now.
.: 003corposant on August 12th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
I've heard about Cinderella's Sister! Is it really angst-y though? I usually shy away from super angst Asian dramas (they take angst and melodrama to new heights). But I'd be willing to give it a try if it's something new!

KB is very pretty, lol. But I feel like most Asian stars are more pretty than handsome. His prettiness was weird though because he's meant to be this super playboy, but he looked like he's too sweet/nice to be a ruthless serial heartbreaker. He was quite good in The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry though. That's also a very good light K-drama that broke away from the stereotype.

Soulmate is super light and refreshing. In the early episodes they would show two stories from two different perspectives and then at the end show how they came together. It's not a perfect show, but they did something really interesting and fun. And I love, love the ending. Definitely give it a try!

(I've been catching up my Asian dramas this summer!)
songs of the cynical: so alonerosael on August 9th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
My dear, I have never even heard of this fandom (is it a drama?), but I read it anyway because I love your writing. The flow and rhythm of your writing never ceases to leave me speechless. I aspire to one day write as beautifully as you do.
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on August 10th, 2010 01:42 am (UTC)
Awww, thank you. :) Yes, it is a drama of epic proportions. It started out as a manga from the 1990s that turned into four different series from four different countries and two film adaptations. Oh and an anime! Lol.