City Hunter: Episode 16 Anatomy of a Scene


The scene is set at the same public park where Yoon Sung and Nana had once frolicked about, drinking coffee and getting wet. Now it’s dark, they are alone, there’s no coffee, and the fountains are quiet. In the former scene both of them had gotten their feet wet, and here, only Nana gets her feet wet. Perhaps that indicates how before they were both getting closer to the other, and now only Nana is trying to stay close to Yoon Sung?


The most conspicuous aspect of the scene is the distance between Nana and Yoon Sung at it’s beginning: there is literally a stream of water passing in between them, which signifies the growing rift in their relationship. What’s interesting is that the stream is artificial because it’s bordered by man made objects — it is, after all, a park in the middle of a city — and similarly, the rift in their relationship is somewhat artificial because Noble Idiot Yoon Sung is the one insisting that she leave him behind.


I love that Nana goes through the water and over to him to try to mend things, to try to save what she feels is worth saving, by keeping it and nurturing it, as opposed to Yoon Sung, who irrationally is trying to save it by cutting it off. The one shot of where they are standing across from one another is very visually communicative  and satisfying, especially since the two are usually standing in such cross proximity.

Remember her unni telling Young Ju that he’s the bridge? Actually, it’s Nana who’s the bridge, who is the person who connects people to one another. Other than Yoon Sung, she is the person who most of the other characters are directly connected to through the past. For example, Ajusshi and Kyung Hee: Yoon Sung’s mother actually has more of a relationship with Nana than Yoon Sung, and more importantly, she is the one who is always creating relationships, like how nice she is to Dae Hye, even though she can be a brat sometimes, and how she brought Yoon Sung and his mother together and was able to forgive Ajusshi. There is something very fecund about her.

The way her shoes push through the water, sending little waves to the side as she walks through is like a metaphor for how she’s pushing aside the obstacles that are keeping her and Yoon Sung apart. But she’s walking through water, and once she’s passed through, it just folds back in on itself, as if she hadn’t even been there, leaving no trace of her behind, and complimentarily, Yoon Sung does not ask her to wait for him: she’s pushing aside the words he’s said, saying she’ll forget them, and he just turns away, as if she hadn’t said anything. He’s trying to be like water, to remain unaffected, but his tears give him away.

This scene also recalls the other scene when Nana comes and comforts him after he’s seen his mother. Neither Kyung Hee or Nana know that the former is his mother yet, but he knows, and seeing her sick upsets him. Nana sits next to him near the river (?) and sings him a song and babies him a little.

But here, they are both standing and they are having a very adult conversation. There is no comfort anywhere in there conversation, although Nana tries very hard to find some.


Nana grabs hold of Yoon Sung’s arm to keep him from leaving in an effort to get him to hear her out. Hands are a general theme in this drama: clenched fists, like when Young Ju was talking to his father; what they are holding, like Yoon Sung holding the ring; how they are adorned, like Nana not having the ring on her finger, and then having a toy one she made out of the twistie; and my favorite, these characters actually hold hands. One infuriating thing about kdramas is that some man is always dragging a woman around by her wrist. This drama has that, too, but it consciously makes an effort to show them holding hands. And in a gender reversal, Nana grabs Yoon Sung’s wrist a few times, too. The one that comes to mind for me is when she comes back from confronting Jin Pyo and she catches his wrist and then he immediately pulls away and catches hers and asks her if she’s really all right. Here, as Nana realizes that Yoon Sung isn’t going to say anything, she loses her grip on his arm, and this recalls the second nightmare Yoon Sung had, where Nana’s hand slipped from his and she fell to her death. Here he is the one who is pushing her away, not trying to hold on to her.

Also, Nana has a bruise on her face. Last time this happened Yoon Sung put a band aid on it for her, and she returned the favor later on when he got beat up by the Presidential nominee’s son, but here, even though earlier he’d told her to take care of it (barked at her, more like), it remains band aid-less.

Sound (/Spidy Sense)

Yoon Sung tries to sneak away after seeing Nana, but she senses him behind her and turns around. The entire time they are speaking to each other you can hear the sound of the river behind them, and it’s kind of ominous, like it’s trying to drown their words out. It’s telling, because neither of them are really listening to the other. They hear each other, they can repeat what the other said, but they are refusing to register what the other is saying, Yoon Sung because he seems to believe that he’s doomed to die and his father’s words keep ringing in his head, and Nana because she knows she likes Yoon Sung and she doesn’t want to give him up. This is a girl who still has hopes for her 10-year-comatose father to wake up, so she’s got a bit of Oh Hani in her. (Whatever happened to that storyline anyway? What’s going on with her dad?)

The way she sensed him there makes me think of the great chemistry between these two actors. They seem to be friends in real life, so that probably helps. But the characters just seem to have a natural kinship between them. They mesh well: they tease, they flirt, they comfort. And in this scene there is loads of non-speaking communication going on, especially with the eyes (remember the scene last week when NAna walked into the Blue House office? Yeah, eye sex galore.) Examples: how Yoon Sung keeps his hands in his pockets the entire time and never actually completely faces her, always being in the process of turning away, and then how Nana covers her face, both with her hair and her hand, after he’s left. She’s embarrassed (maybe even a little ashamed?) because she’s put so much of herself out here and he’s just this stone wall that refuses to budge. It’s crushing.


I’ve never been a big fan of the music in kdramas because I often feel that the themes are overused and incongruous with the tone of the scenes they are used in. Two dramas I thought used music well were My Lovely Sam Soon and Coffee Prince, especially the latter, whose OST I bought and listen to all the time. Now, I have felt that Jonghyun’s “So Goodbye” has been overused, but here, it is appropraitely used, because the lyrics start out, “So goodbye, don’t cry, and smile,” and they are both crying and not smiling and Yoon Sung is saying goodbye. Cue tear ducts. The lyrics go on to say that the speaker will treat the time he had with his beloved as a gift, which is particularly wrenching here because Yoon Sung just said he resents ever having met Nana and that the time they’ve spent together is like a nightmare for him.


Nana: Lee Yoon Sung-sshi!

Lee Yoon Sung: Stop there. Reminiscing about the past. I will do it alone. you don’t need to do that. you are supposed to be the hopelessly cheerful  and sturdy Kim Nana. Are you trying to drum up pity?

Nana: You made me like this, Lee Yoon Sung. Being cheerful is hard. And smiling is even harder.

Lee Yoon Sung: A hundred times a day, thousands of times, I resent it and regret it even more. Why did I have to meet you? Why did it have to be you? [Nana looks distressed.]You make me resent and blame myself. You are someone who makes me regret. You’re like a nightmare I don’t want to remember. Didn’t I tell you? Go back to the time when you didn’t know me. Go back and meet a better man than me and live a happy life every day. Forget a punk like me and live happily. Please live that way.

Nana: Is that all you can say? About breaking up with you, letting you go, forgetting about you, about disappearing from your life now, I can understand all that. Still, you shouldn’t have said it. How can you tell me to meet another man?!

Lee Yoon Sung: Right now it will be hard, but after time passes…

Nana: You are really cruel. [Yoon Sung looks stricken, starts to tear up, Nana starts crying.] You are really, really cruel. Just…If after you finish your work, and I wait for you until the end, can’t you return to me? Then, I’ll forget all that was said just now. It’s not hard, right? Can’t you just tell me once that you will come back to me? If you don’t answer me now, even if you return to me in the future, I will not accept you. Seriously. I will never, ever take you back. So, after it all ends, can’t you tell me once that you will come back? Please. Tell me once, okay?

[Nana lets g of his arm, Yoon Sung says nothing and turns and walks away as music plays, holding back tears; Nana cries, hides face.]

Translations from on 07/14/2011.

Lee Yoon Sung keeps telling Nana to go back to the time before she’d met him. This reminds me of a line form The Tempest: “past is prologue,” meaning the past is ever present. In that play Prospero is essentially fighting against time, which can be seen in the structure of the play, which basically takes place over one day, unlike Shakespeare’s other plays, and in the fact that he’s trying to return to the way his life was before he landed on the island, and he’s growing old and facing the possibility of his death. Lee Yoon Sung is fighting time, too: he’s constantly facing his death and feeling like his time (his life) is running out; the past of his father being murdered by the government is determining his present; and Young Ju is right on his ass (I love puns!) so his identity is about to be revealed. But ultimately, past is present: you can’t undo it, you can’t “go back.” YOu can only forge ahead, the way Nana forges connections with others, and that’s what he needs to realize so that he can have the happy life that he’s always craved (and so that i can have a happily ending drama. Let’s be honest, that’s the real reason.)

Also, Nana asks him to ask her to wait for him. She’s asking him to be more vulnerable than he is willing to be, and for him being vulnerable doesn’t mean crying in front of her or being sick, it means allowing himself to be scared about her being hurt, about the possibility that he would be the one to hurt her, or be directly responsible for her being hurt. That’s the one thing he cannot put up with. She uses the phrase I remember best from the film Atonement, “Come back to me.” It lends a doomed romance vibe to the scene, making it even darker than it already is, given the tragic ending of that film.



About ladida

lasagna enthusiast ♡✿


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