Quote (or, Ma Ru, Silence, and Identity)
Were you waiting for Seo Eun Ki all this time? You thought Seo Eun Ki would come back, that she would come back to find you, so you couldn’t move? – Jae Gil, ep. 12
When Jae Gil asks Ma Ru this he seems shocked, like he didn’t realize that that was what he was doing. Ma Ru is someone who uses silence strategically: he uses it to protect himself and to keep others from knowing what he doesn’t want them to know. But he also uses silence as a way to process information. In episode 1 we see Ma Ru breaking the silence in his class, asking his professor questions and confronting them. But after he comes from jail Ma Ru stops breaking silences; he starts living in them. It’s like jail and Jae Hee’s betrayal were such shocks to him that he needs to surround himself with silence to absorb any other blows he might have to take. I think it’s interesting how his silence correlates to Eun Ki’s amnesia. Here Ma Ru doesn’t answer Jae Gil, he just looks at him curiously and continues packing. He’s so good at lying that he even fools himself. He’s so good at avoiding his own feelings, at keeping his feelings at bay so as not to make them a burden to anyone, that he becomes distanced from them. It makes him unable to realize the motives behind his actions, to realize his true aims. Just like he didn’t recognize that he was waiting for Eun Ki to come back to him, he hadn’t realized that he wasn’t actually getting revenge on Jae Hee but was just trying to be close to her. That realization was a break in his perpetual silence, and I think confronting that was such a disturbance to his silence-as-defense-mechanism that afterwards he just goes into overdrive with it and sinks deeper into his self delusion, his self punishment, his self isolation.
When Jae Gil continues by asking, “Do you like Seo Eun Ki?” Ma Ru doesn’t answer. He pauses, as if thinking about it, as if it’s a question he’s been putting off indefinitely. In episode 12 when Lawyer Park tells him that he used and deceived Eun Ki he responds with “Did I do that?” It isn’t a concrete response but a misdirection to Lawyer Park. It’s like he’s actually asking himself that question, asking himself what actually happened 11 months ago. He’s so removed from his own desires that it’s like he has to constantly go over them and his past actions to figure them out. In a way, his identity is as interrupted as Eun Ki’s. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when the man he’s conning in episode 9 asks him who he is, he answers with “I don’t think that’s important right now.” All throughout episodes 11 and 12 people keep telling Ma Ru the reasons for his actions and their consequences, but finally, at the end of episode 12 he breaks his silence again and gives us a monologue, something he hasn’t done in quite a while, and confronts his romantic feelings for Eun Ki.
Ma Ru is an incredibly private person. To his detriment, sometimes. He’s very isolated, very internal. I mean in when he confesses to his love for Eun Ki , it’s in his head to his father, not to her. He’s so slow in coming to terms with his love for Eun Ki, and it’s frustrating fo me because I just want the two of them to be happy together, but I want to respect the pace at which he feels comfortable expressing his feelings .
On Eun Ki and Women’s Bodies
Eun Ki and Sickness
Eun Ki’s body has always been an important factor in considering her character. There is a connection between her body and the state of her romance. It’s as though what happens in her romance has a direct physical effect on her, kind of like how in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Professor Umbridge punishes Harry by making him write “I must not tell lies” with a Blood Quill, which etches those words on the back of his hand over and over again, leaving him permanently scarred. In episode 7 she collapses after she breaks up with Ma Ru. In episode 8 she hurts her feet when she rushes over to his home barefoot. And, of course, in episode 9 she’s so overwhelmed by the double shock of Ma Ru’s cruel words (and the crushing of the dream she had of a future life with him) and her father’s death that she tries to commit suicide. She incurs some severe brain damage in the resulting car crash, which causes her to have cognitive disabilities. I’m not sure if her amnesia is a result of the crash, or if it’s only a psychological manifestation of self protection, or both.
Eun Ki and Sleep
More apparent is the pattern between the of the state of her body (usually sleep) and her interaction with Ma Ru. When she was sick in the plane she lost consciousness and Ma Ru had to catch her to keep her from falling. At her mother’s resort in Aomori, Ma Ru finds her sleeping; he picks her up, throws her into a shallow pond, and calls her Miss Sleepyhead when she’s shocked into wakefulness. When she drinks herself into a stupor Ma Ru carries her to his home and tucks her into bed. The same happens in episode 8 when he finds her sleeping without any covers. Two times prior to the car accident that Ma Ru openly shows tenderness towards her are when she’s sleeping: first when she falls asleep waiting for him on the bridge in Japan, where he tucks her hair behind her ear, and then in episode 8 when he kisses her on the cheek. It’s almost as if he’s more comfortable being open and honest with her when she’s asleep than when she’s awake. There’s such a strong correlation between her having amnesia and her being asleep that it’s almost like one is an analogy for the other, which only feeds into my anxiety about his rejecting her when she had full knowledge, will, and consent, but accepts her when those things are limited for her. The displacement of her body that we see pre-crash increases post-crash. There’s actually a direct mirroring of the Aomori incident in episode 12 when Ma Ru wraps a sleeping Eun Ki up in her comforter, puts her in his car, drives all the way to their destination, and when she finally wakes up he calls her Miss Sleepyhead again. Her sleeping form also adds to the fairytale elements I’ve mentioned before, specifically Sleeping Beauty. Apparently there’s a second part to the French version of the story, where the Ogress Stepmother orchestrates the means of her own destruction, and I feel like that’s what will happen with Jae Hee.
Eun Ki and Bodily Autonomy
I first started thinking about Eun Ki’s body and how it intersects with movement and autonomy at the beginning of episode 10, when Ma Ru tries to protect her from Jae Sickening’s prying eyes right after he’s told her they have nothing do with one another. (The scene actually parallels Eun Ki in episode 3, when she was abrasive in her speech with Ma Ru, using that as a way to cover up her attraction to him. Here–and on the beach at the beginning of episode 9–Ma Ru tells her he feels nothing for her and that they never had a romantic relationship, using the harshest words possible to try to convince her it’s true. The differences lie in that when he called her out on her bs Eun Ki quickly relents, but when Eun Ki points out that he’s lying he continues in his masquerade, and that Eun Ki used her false bravado as a way to get closer to Ma Ru and satisfy her curiosity about him while he uses it just to push her away. Eun Ki’s speech is bluster with little effects, and Ma Ru’s has devastating ones.) When Creeper Jae Shik barges into the yard Ma Ru quickly turns Eun Ki’s face to his and holds it there. As Jae Shik approaches he pulls her into a hug. But after Jae Shik leaves he holds her for a beat longer than he needs to. Jae Shik has walked away, closed the gate behind him, walked a ways down the hill, and spoken to himself, but Ma Ru is still holding her. Eun Ki and Secretary Hyun both realize this before he does; Eun Ki’s a bit bewildered by it and Hyun is noticeably uncomfortable. It’s only when Ma Ru registers Hyun’s discomfort that he abruptly pushes Eun Ki away. The entire time Eun Ki is not controlling her own body. Ma Ru is directing her movements
But it isn’t as simple as Ma Ru controlling her. Firstly, there’s a kind of latent (or is it dubious?) consent from Eun Ki, in that sometimes when he tries to control her body she doesn’t resist, and other times, like when he grabs her wrist in episode 11, she fiercely does. Then there’s the fact that right after the above scene Eun Ki grabs Ma Ru’s arm to insist that she remembers him “in [her] heart,” and when Ma Ru tries to walk away she holds on to him. He has to throw her hand off. But again, there’s a difference. Eun Ki never directs Ma Ru’s movement, she impedes it. She always does this when she wants more information from him, when she feels that he isn’t being honest, like here, like in episode 6 when she asks him to give her his answer to her confession, and like in episode 9 when she hugs him after demanding why he’s “trying to be bad.”
I can’t talk about Eun Ki’s body without addressing her being kidnapped. When Jae Shik takes her it’s so that he can sell her into sexual slavery. He operates in human trafficking, which Jae Gil’s gangster family’s line of business. Jae Sickenng gave her a drug to put her to sleep so that he could transport her without any problems, and then Eun Ki is saved by a man who regularly moves her body while she’s sleeping. And then there’s the threat of her being kidnapped, which is why she’s moved from Secretary Hyun’s place to Ma Ru’s old home, and then moved again to a his home.
And lastly, in episode 12 when Eun Ki crashes Jae Hee’s ego trip, it’s her body that’s being put on public display. People need to be able to see her physically. That’s why there are so many camera flases that go off. Her re-entrance to public scrutiny has to be documented. She’s dressed up in her old clothes, which is like a costume now, so that she can look as much as her old self as possible, so that when people see her they don’t see any disconnect within the 14 months since they last saw her.
Skinship (Anatomy of a Scene)
All this makes me really interested in how these two communicate through touch. There was that moment in episode 4 when Eun Ki holds out her hand for a handshake to end their relationship, but Ma Ru hesitates and refuses it in favor of a kiss later on. I mentioned the sincerity behind his tucking her hair behind her ear in episode 5; he does it again in episode 9, only this time he’s using it as a tool to emphasize how calculated he is. He does it deliberately, publicly, to try to prove to Eun Ki that everything he’s done, and her responses to his actions, has been planned, and he succeeds.
That scene is so intricately structured in terms of touch. Eun Ki starts out sitting on the beach alone, the vast expanse of the ocean and the horizon before her. Then Ma Ru comes and sits down next to her. She has her knees pulled up to her chest, her hands around them. He sits almost exactly the same, only his posture is more deliberately casual, like how his coat is open and trailing behind him while hers is zipped up. As their conversation heats up she stands up and he follows her, exactly like when she broke up with him in episode 7 (these two scenes mirror each other). She faces him, yells at him, and then finally throws her arms around him, hugging him. It’s a desperate hug, not a comforting one. It’s a defiant hug, like she’s saying , “I know you’re trying to hurt me and I refuse it. You think I can’t take it? I can. I refuse to be hurt by you. I’m stronger than you think, and I see through you.” Ma Ru doesn’t hug her back. This is even less reciprocation on his part than when he was conning Jae Gil’s social climbing ex. Ma Ru grabs Eun Ki by the shoulder and wrenches her away from him. And then he does that awful hair tuck. It’s so crushing because it’s such an affectionate action, but in his hands it becomes this instrument of destruction. He puts her hand on his shoulder–an act that he does in comfort in episode 12–continuing his humiliation of her. He’s so mercilessly causal in how he does it, too, and you can see Eun Ki crumbling before him. It’s a thorough dismantling of her ego, made all the more tragic by how arrogant she was with him at first and how bashful she’d become. And then as he’s speaking Eun Ki takes his hand off her shoulder. She doesn’t just push it off; it’s like a whole process, and it takes time. She drags it off of her. It’s like she’s saying, “Enough. You’ve said enough.” And then she walks away from him, and her shoulders are drooping and her steps are faltering…and that wisp of hair is blowing in the wind.
And a last note on skinship, their relationship becomes more and more chaste as it progresses. They went from making out on bridges to kisses on cheeks to hugs to hand holding. I think this has to do with a contrast that’s being established in the way Ma Ru treats Eun Ki while he was using her but also falling for her, and how he treats her when he’s wholly in love with her, but feeling guilty about what he did to her. More about that in the structure part below.
Eun Ki and Cars
Cars here don’t have as much significance as they did in QIHM, but I think it’s interesting that in episode 1 Ma Ru asks if Eun Ki’s been in a car accident, then we find out that Eun Ki’s mother was killed in a deliberate car crash, and then Eun Ki has a deliberate crash of her own. It also makes me think of fairytales again, and how Eun Ki escaped from her father’s house with the use of a car. And she’s tracked by the GPS system on her phone, just like the chairman did to Jae Hee.
On Time (the Past), Power, and Transformation
On Structure (Time and Place)
Narratively there is a difference between Ma Ru and Eun Ki’s relationship before and after the crash. We already see that he’s more receptive to her romantic advances, and Eun Ki’s amnesia in some ways condemns Ma Ru’s past actions in a way that any rebuke that a fully knowledgeable Eun Ki might have given him could not–she’s just so ill-informed about her world that it paradoxically makes her anger at him more trenchant, and when she has reason to be upset with him she doesn’t have any memories of his being kind to his sister or saving her doll for her to fall back on and use to forgive him. But there also has to be a difference between Ma Ru and Jae Hee’s former relationship and his and Eun Ki’s current one. Most of the contrast comes from how different Eun Ki is from Jae Hee (she’s not a black hole consuming everything around her–her desires can actually be satisfied). What I’ve found interesting, though, is how space, the physical places the characters inhabit, is being used as a demarcating line between the two relationships, how space is used to define the relationships.
I think there’s a reason that Ma Ru rejects Eun Ki on that beach, in addition to his guilt. His guilt is a character consideration: he always takes on more of others’ burdens than he should, and he has a very keen understanding of his conscience. But what I noticed is more of a structural consideration. In episode 9 Ma Ru and Eun Ki are on the same beach that he and Jae Hee were supposed to go to but never did. In episode 12 we learn that Ma Ru is actually forgetting his relationship with Jae Hee–he’s mimicking Eun Ki’s amnesia. So if his good memories of Jae Hee are eroding like some fake world built in Inception, then it would be impossible for him to begin a new relationship on the very grounds, in the very place, that represent the epic failure of his old one. That beach in episode 9 is a place that was already claimed by Jae Hee-Ma Ru, and so it couldn’t be used as the place where Eun Ki-Ma Ru was to be forged. That beach was already beginning to crumble in Ma Ru’s mind, and so it would be impossible for them to begin a relationship there; there’d be no foundation. That’s why in episode 12 he takes her to a beach again. A different one, this time. And it’s so symbolic because Eun Ki holds the power of transformation in her relationship to water, and they are looking across the ocean–which is where Jae Hee went to drown.
I think this is the same thing that happens with Ma Ru moving out of his old home. (And I loved, loved, that home.) The reason for the move is to hide Eun Ki away from Jae Hee and Lawyer Ahn while Team Eun Ki prepares for her re-introduction to the public. But I can’t help but notice how he leaves this place that holds so many memories of the time he shared with Jae Hee and moves to a completely new place that has no traces of Jae Hee, and no traces of how he deceived Eun Ki. I’m thinking that the move was another structural moment, that we’re being told that he can’t build this new relationship in the place that’s the site of the failure of his old one, the same place he decided to leave to go and meet Jae Hee that fateful night. It’s like his relationship with Eun Ki is one of supersession, where it doesn’t just follow Jae Hee-Ma Ru but actually fully supplants it.
It makes me wonder about how space and place interact with the drama’s exploration of time. Perhaps it’s like what I mentioned in Part I, about how evidence of the events of our lives are registered on our bodies. Maybe the drama is saying that in the same way that our bodies serve as documents of our experiences, space and place work on a metaphysical level absorb the residue of our lives, that they stand as witness to our lives.
Eun Ki, Time, Power, and Transformation
Despite my issues with her amnesia I still think Eun Ki has the possibility to be the most powerful character on the show, and much of that lies with her ability to communicate and transform. Eun Ki has always been a confrontational person; she always asks questions, and in her relationship with Ma Ru she’s always pushing him to reveal more, to be more honest. If Ma Ru languishes in silence, then Eun Ki thrives in intercourse (wink wink, lol). At Taesan Eun Ki was a negotiator: she struck deals with other companies, spoke to government officials and local residents, and made labor contracts with union workers. In her father’s household she had to find a way to navigate his capricious temperament, criticizing his relationship with Jae Hee and how he treated her mother but knowing to stay quiet when he said she wasn’t fit to run Taesan. Eun Ki knows how to compromise, how to find ways to move past roadblocks to make things work. I think this power of hers is epitomized in how the drama’s concerns with time manifest in her relationship with her mother.
Before the car crash and her amnesia I saw Eun Ki as having two choices for her future, both of which were determined by her relationships with her parents. If she followed her father’s wishes she would inherit Taesan. If she followed her mother’s wishes she would divorce herself from Taesan and the corruption of the corporate world and live a quiet life. When she rejects her mother’s offer to run away from her father together, she makes the decision to follow him. She chooses Taesan over her mother, Taesan over the idyllic life her mother wants for her. But when Ma Ru comes into her life again Eun Ki discovers that she has another chance to fulfill her mother’s hopes for her. It’s just another way that Ma Ru and eun Ki’s mother are connected. When Eun Ki chooses romantic love over corporate power, to be with Ma Ru and try to build a life with him over having money and societal capital, it’s a re-negotiation with her mother and her past decisions. Just like she’s able to strike a deal with the union workers so that they’ll stop protesting and she’ll be able to return to Taesan, she’s able to re-work her past decisions. It’s something that Ma Ru has been unable to do. Before the crash and her amnesia the past was something like an anchor for Eun Ki. She wasn’t totally weighed down by it. It’s like the difference between bricks tied to your feet to make you drown and something holding you in place to keep you from drifting too far out. Ma Ru’s past, in contrast, was something that totally engulfed him. Where Eun Ki tries to negotiate with her past, Ma Ru tries to obliterate his. It continues even in episode 12: Eun Ki is hunting down her past and trying to regain her memories but Ma Ru is forgetting his past with Jae Hee and trying to supplant them with new memories with Eun Ki. So Eun Ki is able to return to her past, to navigate it and transform it’s outcome.
Her power for transformation is apparent in her relationship with Ma Ru. She’s able to illicit a response from Ma Ru even as he’s in the deepest recesses of depression and self destruction, she’s able to make him have a reaction that he can’t control–and Ma Ru is the master of being able to control himself. When he’s locked himself in his house in episode 7 she brings him out, and when he’s lost in his world of corruption in episode 11 she’s the one who, again, brings him out of it. She’s in communication with her past, so she can change it and her future, but Ma Ru (the silent one) refuses communication, and so he’s stuck in his own guilt about his past decisions and can’t move on from them. Even as he proceeds in his romance with Eun Ki he’s putting up walls, like how he won’t get treated for his hematoma.
The Past Forgotten, the Past Reclaimed (or, Time and Place Revisited)
This focus on Eun Ki and her power for transformation brings me back to the beginning of episode 9. It was there on that beach that their different approaches to their pasts came head to head. But before I get to that I want to look at the symbolism in that scene.
- Sand—After Eun Ki walks away from him Ma Ru stays on the beach until night time. He’s in complete silence. He doesn’t say anything, and all we hear is the waves of the ocean. He picks up a handful of sand and let’s it fal from his fingers. This is a symbol of the passage of time, like he sand sof time, like an hourglass. He’s letting time slip away from him, letting his past disintegrate.
- Water/Ocean—this fabulous blogger talks about something called Wu Wei, which has to do with water and how powerful it is despite being so “soft and weak” and Eun Ki’s connections to it. Water can transform things, and so can Eun Ki. Remember that when she confesses to Ma Ru and he initially accepts her, it’s raining.
So on this beach we have the sand, a symbol of time and the past slipping away, and the ocean, a symbol of Eun Ki’s power to negotiate with the past. So the beach in episode 9 isn’t just a representation of the failure of Ma Ru and Jae Hee’s romance, which in turn helps to block the progression of Ma Ru and Eun Ki’s relationship. It’s a site of contestation between Ma Ru’s vision of the past and Eun Ki’s vision of it. Notice that when Ma Ru and Eun Ki are sitting on that wall, there is no sand, just the vast ocean before them. Also, the beach they go to doesn’t have any sand at all; it has rocks.
Eun Ki and Transformation vs Ma Ru and Obliteration
So finally I see the crux of this show, it’s core dramatic crisis (on top of the ones about identity and socioeconomic stability and loving people you shouldn’t love) as a fight between Ma Ru’s tendency to obliterate his past and Eun Ki’s ability to transform it. That’s what was going on on that beach in episode 9: Ma Ru was trying to dissasociate from the horror of Jae Hee and his past, while Eun Ki was trying to communicate with her past with her mother; Ma Ru was trying to undo how he’d drawn Eun Ki into the nightmare of his past while Eun Ki was trying to forge a future with Ma Ru that would redeem her past. Ma Ru was already beginning to erase Jae Hee from his mind, and so the foundation of that beach were disintegrating; it’s the same beach where Eun Ki was trying to build their future. So Ma Ru won that round. I think when Eun Ki gets all her memories back they’re going to come to blows again, and Eun Ki’s power of transformation will be stronger because she’ll have had gone through amnesia, and she’ll be able to use her already potent ability to illicit responses from Ma Ru to overcome those walls he’s been building. In short, Eun Ki’s wanting to be together will win out over Ma Ru’s trying to resist her.
Jae Hee being in empty spaces. I think this represents how now she’s technically achieved her goal, but she still feels unfulfilled and wants more, so she goes after more power. Also how no matter how much power she has it will mean nothing because her power is predicated on the cooperation of others.
Ma Ru being separate from other people. He tells Eun Ki the story of their past while they are physically separated by a door, and when Lawyer Park makes the deal with him the table is left conspicuously in the frame. Also, he was dressed in all black while driving a white car and Eun Ki was dressed in white while being driven in a black car.
Jae Hee Character Analysis
I’m finding Jae Hee to be more and more comedic (especially with how Park Shi Yeon is playing up her with lip curls and shocked eyes), but also more tragic. Her story arc might be something of a tragicomedy, something like Edward Albee would do, where the comedy is used to underscore her tragic state and they combine to display the absurdity of her existence. Her’s is a morbid comedy: you have to laugh at her because she’s so horribly morally disfigured.
Jae hee is always willing to go further than the men she manipulates. The chairman told her not to use violence in dealing with Ma Ru, but she went ahead and sicced thugs on him. Ahn the Ass ignored Jae Shik’s offer of getting rid of Eun Ki, but Jae Hee accepted it. She’s so willing to do serious harm to others, and to herself, in her pursuit of power, but in the end it’s the very same men who are unwilling to approach her extremes, to breach those far outer reaches of human decency, who are her greatest threats. Her own weapons are her very undoing because in the end they are the ones that constrain her: the chairman ended up mistrusting her even more than he already had (not surprising, raging misogynist that he was), and now Lawyer Ahn has caused her to be part of another murder and refuses to leave her side. Actually, it mirrors her position as interim Chairman: her power is severely limited because it doesn’t depend on her but on the cooperation of others. It’s such a contrast to Eun Ki, who’s closest ally is Secretary Hyun, and who has Taesan workers passing around flyers looking for her after her disappearance. Eun Ki inspires loyalty, Jae Hee inspires desire. Jae Hee’s constantly building an absurd world around her, and it just has to collapse. Like in episode 9 she attacks a woman rival by implying that she has the power to seduce her husband. She tells her, “There is no man who’s refused me when I’ve pursued them.” It’s something that’s going to bite her in the ass in two ways: firstly, Ma Ru rejected her once and he’ll do it again, Joon Ha has rejected her advances, and she pursued Lawyer Ahn who is now he’s a problem for her. Her power is weakening quickly. I’m actually dissatisfied with how quickly that woman fell before Jae Hee. Are we supposed to believe that Jae Hee’s the first young woman to come after her philandering husband? That she has no leverage over a man she’s been married to for 20, 30 years? Why didn’t she threaten Jae Hee, who’s trying to barge her way into a world she’s been a part of for longer than Je Hee could walk, with passing that picture around to all her society friends so that they’ll ostracize her?
I think Jae Hee is also a misogynist, just like the chairman. She hates women. Jae Hee accepts a patriarchal understanding of women and it’s from that standpoint that she interacts with them: for her women are only extensions of men, so she attacks them through their heterosexual connections to men–she seduces one woman’s husband and emphasizes Eun Ki’s “man problems” to convince the board that she’s unfit to be director of Taesan; women have no agency over their own bodies and sexualities, are always sexually available, so she engages with men primarily through her sexuality and orchestrates the kidnapping and selling of Eun Ki into sexual slavery; there is only place in any given sphere for one woman, and that woman must unquestionably be better/victorious over the any others, so Eun Ki becomes an economic and romantic rival. I’m still convinced that Jae Hee has no use for romantic love (she’s someone who goes after what she wants, and if she wanted Ma Ru she would have been relentless in trying to woo him back to her; in fact she never would have left him in the first place) and so her being jealous of Eun Ki has nothing to do with any love she might feel for Ma Ru, but is a manifestation of her misogyny. You know how in Dal Ja’s Spring Dal Ja starts out as a woman who has absorbed all the toxic visions of women as romantic rivals that television has fed her and then Seon Joo disabuses her of that idea by telling her, “Do you think a woman’s enemy is another woman?”? Jae Hee doesn’t have anybody to tell her that, and so she is more than complicit in patriarchy, she accepts it and actively uses it as a weapon against other women.
It’s so sad to watch, because the same system she’s so comfortable using against others is the one that’s eating her alive and will destroy her. She sees women as rivals, but she herself is the ultimate rival, considering that she is seen by the public as a husband stealing, family destroying harpie. And Jae Shik is a blatant misogynist. It’s interesting: he’s always telling people to look at him properly, to show him respect, and that act is a micro version of Jae Hee’s quest for legitimation. It makes so much sense that during her greatest moment of legitimation her crowning as the chairman of Taesan, Eun Ki walks in. I love the irony of it: just as she’s getting to the part in her speech where she names the people who couldn’t be there with them today, of which Eun Ki is one, her voice trails off, and her son jumps up and says, “Eun Ki noona!” Even her own son will betray her. And I’m pretty sure her lady secretary is a mole; she might be the one who texted Lawyer Park to tell him Eun Ki had been struck down as director.
Jae Hee’s also a solipsist. She’s in complete disbelief when Eun Ki and Ma Ru come back into her life. how can it be that she went to find him and e wasn’t there waiting, at her beck and call? She’s so shaken that she calls Ma Ru oppa–but she’s older than him, she’s his noona. Her reality has in a way been defined by Ma Ru’s position in her life, and she only understands him in his past relationship to her. This Ma Ru is totally incomprehensible to her because he’s no longer there at his home for her, waiting for her. Because she is no longer the center of his world he’s become unrecognizable to her, even more so than when he came back from jail jaded and angry and bent on destroying her.
An angsty song for Eun Ki and Ma Ru — “Lullaby,” by James:
Since your mother cast her spell
Every kiss has left a bruise
This makes me think about Eun Ki’s relationship with her mother: how her rejection of her mother’s offer was this critical moment in her life that left a deep impression on her and how she keeps going back to it, replaying it in her mind, negotiating with it, using it as a template to help guide her through her current relationships. Her mother had this vision of a life for her, a “spell,” one in which she leaves Taesan and makes a family and lives happily, and this is the dream that she chooses to follow in episodes 7 and 8. Before she found an opportunity in Ma Ruto follow this path, all her romantic relationships were either non existent or they “left bruises.”
You’ve been raiding too much meaning from existence
Now your head is used and sore
And the forecast is for more
Memories falling, like falling rain
It makes me think of her relationship to love, and how each person she’s loved has hurt her: her mother leaving her, her father choosing Jae Hee over her, Ma Ru using her, and that ex boyfriend doing the same. “Memories falling” is so evocative, and it brings to mind all the memories Eun Ki has of her mother and Ma Ru, all the memories she’s lost and has to regain. And, of course, how when she regains them she’ll have to go through that pain all over again.
Every view they hold on you’s
A piano, out of tune
You’re an angel
You’re a demon
You’re just human
These last few lyrics kind of encapsualte how characters in the drama see her and how audiences have reacted to her: now that she’s lost her memories she “an angel,” childlike and innocent; when she was yelling at Eun Seok in the first episode she was “a demon”; but what I want most, and what I hope for, is that she can be allowed to be a full human character who isn’t undercut by the narrative, and not a symbol or a tool for a narrative that doesn’t really have her interests at heart.
All these thoughts can be applied to Ma Ru as well; the two have a lot in common.
And a (kind of) happy song for them — “Modern Romance” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
Well, I’ve been dragged all over the place
I’ve taken hits time just don’t erase
And, baby, I can see that you’ve been fucked with too
But that don’t mean your lovin days are through
‘Cause people will say all kinds of things
That don’t mean a damn to me
‘Cause all I see is what’s in front of me
And that’s you
The song starts out with a jaded view of romance: “There is no modern romance.” It’s how Ma Ru views romance after he’s been to jail, and how Eun Ki sees it after her ex betrayed her. “Time is gone, It never lasts” reminds me of the drama’s themes of time and our pasts and how we interact with them. The stretch of silence in the middle of the song reminds me of how silent Ma Ru is (the Grinch in me wants to relate t to Eun Ki’s amnesia). And above is the final stage of Eun Ki and Ma Ru’s romance: they’re both damaged, they’ve both been screwed over by others and have hurt one another, but that “doesn’t mean [they're] loving days are through,” and again and again, Eun Ki chooses him.
Much love to the Naughty Team over at Viki; you guys are all beautiful magical unicorn creatures who make the kdrama experience even better!