Big- Ep. 1-2

Omg. Most attractive man of marriageable age. EVER.

I breezed through the first two episodes of Big recently, but the verdict is still out for me- about the drama obviously, not about Gong Yoo. Haha, he makes me feel like a bad person who objectifies people based on their looks…

Why are you making me into a bad person Gong Yoo?!…Now that you’ve made me so bad, who will want to marry me? Take responsibility!

So Back to the Drama…
I don’t understand these characters very well after the 2 episodes I’ve seen, but it may just be that I’m not use to them yet…Generally, I’m just confused.  Nothing new for me when watching kdramas. haha. :) The body switching thing weirds me out. I accepted it in Secret Garden because the tone of the drama was so slapstick and absurd. I was weirded out by it in Who Are You because frankly, your Dad and your lover should NEVER be conflated, none-the-less inhabit the same body. o.O Creeeeepy. 49Days got it spot on.

I like that the tone is different than the usual Hong Sisters slapstick (although I do enjoy a good slapstick comedy), but I still think it could be better. I feel like this kind of topic, body switching, can only be super slapstick ala Secret Garden, or totally dramatic like 49Days. Somewhere in the middle just leaves me unsatisfied and uncomfortable. I know Da Ran had a breakdown when she thought Yoon Jae was dead, but I think Da Ran and Gyun Joon accept the whole supernatural aspect of what is going on way too quickly and sanely. Body switching is unnatural and, I imagine, a frightening experience. >shudders<  They seem to just be ok with it and have complete faith that their souls will eventually switch back to their proper places and that Gyun Joon’s body will wake up from a coma when that switch happens. Neither of these things is at all guaranteed and personally that would cause me a LOT of anxiety. Giant, crippling, I don’t actually know anything about this world/I might lose my faith in God kinds of anxiety.

Yup buddy, this is supernatural. Deal with it.

What I loved best so far is the mythology behind the body switch (that our leads happened to just easily accept). It is so well presented and the tone of the story and the uncanny events happening is pitch perfect the second half of the 1st episode. The entire sequence from the car accident through Gyun Joon waking up in Yoon Jae’s body, and meeting Da Ran in the hallway to the end of the episode is so well presented. The story at that point was totally engrossing and it felt like the time for the audience to step up and make a major emotional investment in the characters and the drama happening in their lives. I definitely found it captivating and completely grounding for the story. It reminded me of the tone of the ending scene of the 1st episode of Padam Padam– uncanny, alarming, and mysterious– as it should be. The imagery of the twin putti (chubby winged babies) reaching out to each other was very evocative and is reminiscent of The Creation of Man, Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel. It makes me wonder if at the end one will die so that the other can live?…This imagery is also similar to how Yoon Jae and Da Ran met, but he didn’t catch her and he certainly didn’t give her life, being that she ended up in the hospital for months.

So far, Yoon Jae and Gyun Joon are the most interesting characters. Da Ran is a cardboard cut-out kdrama heroine, which is annoying, but I’m just going to rely on suspension of disbelief and begrudgingly “accept” that in this fantasy world where people’s souls switch bodies, a 26yr old woman actually acts how Da Ran acts. I watched the first part of Ep. 3 and let’s just say Da Ran is dumber than a brick. Unfortunately, I can’t come up with kinder words to describe her. It’s so massively frustrating having a grown woman, a teacher, being schooled by her student on her own life. Ugh.
>Bitter, mini-rant over. Le Sigh.<
But back to the guys. I want to learn more about Yoon Jae. Why is he so brooding?… The Hong Sisters doing a mature brooding man who is also quiet and reserved! Omg intriguing, especially after blabber-mouth Dokko Jin. Plus it helps that Gong Yoo just knocks Yoon Jae out of the park. Just a few minutes on screen and he’s very captivating. It’s not just the choco abs, I swear!

Omg, be happy Gong Yoo!…umm, I mean Yoon Jae.

And it also helps that his character is a doctor for kids. (Please don’t make it a pediatric cancer ward! T.T…anyone catch in Ep. 2 when Gyun Joon storms out of his hospital room after hearing how his Uncle and Aunt were talking about him, there was one of Yoon Jae’s kid patients in the background who got scared and grabbed on to his mom next to him? Aww.) I hope the kids in the hospital play some role in us learning more about Yoon Jae because, maybe this is a cliche, but I don’t think you can be a pediatric doctor without having a soft spot in your heart. Plus it would be great if Gyun Joon worked on his loneliness by hanging out with these cute kids. Ok, enough Yoon Jae love. Something fishy is happening with his female doctor friend. I don’t like that. I hope Yoon Jae’s not a cheater, because then he will just be dead to me and I’ll be annoyed. ¬¬

Better put that pout back where it came from Mr. Noona Killer! >:(

Gyun Joon is massively appealing. He’s moody and lonely, but has a sense of wit. I really like him and want him to succeed and do well and be less lonely. I don’t know that I fully buy him as a romantic lead, but funny, I see him more as a romantic lead in his 18yr old body than in Yoon Jae’s 30yr old body. There’s a disconnect between Gyun Joon’s personality in his 18yr old body and Gyun Joon’s personality after the body switch. Although Shin and Gong Yoo are both doing an excellent job acting, they seem to have made 2 separate interpretations of Gyun Joon the 18yr old. Simply put, Gyun Joon in Yoon Jae’s body does things that Gyun Joon in his own body would never do. And this difference doesn’t seem to be due to a new, unfamiliar body. It’s all about body language and mannerism. (I’m a nut about this kind of stuff. I notice everything about people’s body language and mannerism. It’s an unspoken aspect of personality that I love to recognize and understand about other people).

18yr old Gyun Joon is not goofy, messy, or disheveled. He dresses casual, but not sloppy. His body language is detached and cool, literally ‘too cool for school.’

Mr. Too Cool for School or Mr. Kid in Over His Head?

He rides a motorcycle. He doesn’t seem like someone who would be caught running away from anything, but instead deflects bullies with wit while evading clumsy shoves and punches. He seems pretty composed for a teenager- compare him to Choong Sik for instance. Gyun Joon ducks out a window when he could use a door just because he feels like it. 18yr old Gyun Joon is kinda cocky, but not totally arrogant because we see how sad and traumatized he is. And he’s not mean (generally).

A total punk or a troublemaking goofball?

Gyun Joon after the body switch is like a different person in mannerism although not necessarily in words. Suddenly he’s so juvenile he seems less than 18yrs old. His dress is messy. His hands are everywhere fidgeting as opposed to in his pockets like before. He can’t stay still for one second. He’s running everywhere, ducking from meeting people and he’s completely unaware of himself and has almost no composure… His facial expressions are just goofy- about as close to overacting as Gong Yoo could ever get. (I know, sacrilege!) Gyun Joon after the body switch is boyish and ‘naive-cute’ (an oxymoron in my book) when he never was as in his own body. It’s as if Choong Sik, Da Ran’s goofy brother, rather than Gyun Joon switched bodies with Yoon Jae. Is it funny and endearing? Yes, but there does seem to be a disconnect.

 Are you….can…Korea?

Said with such good natured enthusiasm and confidence. So funny!

 

Of course the problem is if Gyun Joon remained an elusive, brooding super-cool guy, then the show couldn’t pull off the “kid in an adult’s body” premise. This is one of the issues that has left me confused with the first couple of episodes. Gyun Joon isn’t actually immature to begin with, but suddenly is after the body switch. I thought maybe some of this perception is due to the fact that Gong Yoo obviously looks like an adult while Shin looks very young and so the same actions and words inevitably come out differently, but there’s more to it than that. They definitely bring different auras to Gyun Joon. I’m hoping Gyun Joon in Yoon Jae’s body will even out in the next few episodes now that the show has given us the backstory.

Although I’m not positive, I think the OTP is Gyun Joon and Da Ran, but who knows if they will get their happy ending? Given the clues so far I think this is the safer bet though. The Hong Sisters don’t do things without reason and they aren’t exactly known for subtlety so given how our leads met, Gyun Joon seems to have a better chance than Yoon Jae…who may just be a cheating bastard T.T >Rivers of tears<

So for me, the jury is still out as to whether this will become a drama I love, but the upcoming episodes hold promise and I’m interested to see what happens next. There are still characters to be introduced like Suzy’s character, Ma Ri. I’m interested in what she will be like. Something tells me she might be more aware of reality than Da Ran and that will make me even more annoyed at Da Ran. I just hope Ma Ri is not the “evil” girl. I am also interested in finding out more about Yoon Jae’s seemingly unscrupulous lady doctor “friend.” I’ll figure out her name at some point. What happened to Gyun Joon’s Mom? How did she die because it looked pretty traumatizing and dramatic with all that blood. In the flashback of her death two shadows were shown walking away from her bleeding body. Was she murdered?…Did she give the card with the putti to Gyun Joon and is her dead spirit somehow trying to save his life by transporting him to Yoon Jae’s body? But Yoon Jae also has an image of the putti…Something is up with Gym Teacher Na. He always acts weird around Da Ran, like outside the school gates after chiding Gyun Joon for wearing street clothes, and later he shields Da Ran from the principles sight/scolding when she arrives to work late during the morning announcements, and he was a little too emphatic about Da Ran not touching his files. Maybe he has a crush on her. :)

So many crossing love lines, so many questions, it’s got to be a kdrama! 

Hong Sisters’ dramas tend to be solid, but not necessarily stellar. They have their own charm and are always lighthearted and entertaining. They are more rewarding for Korean speaking audiences which totally makes sense. Some of the best wit, puns and jokes, non-korean speaking audiences can’t understand without explanation. Sometimes a good amount of explanation at that. Something smart and funny loses its freshness when it has to be explained. For this reason I don’t think I could ever really fall in love with their writing style- because I can’t really understand the best aspects of their writing on my own and I certainly can’t analyze it on the level that I would want to. But they definitely have a bit of pop culture magic in their dramas that can’t be denied. I’m interested to see how the rest of Big turns out because it seems they are stretching their craft and trying some new things. Not to mention all the unanswered questions.

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9 comments

  1. ladida

    I love the Tom Hanks movie, but have always been really creeped out by it. I mean, a 13-year-old falls in love–and has sex–with a grown modern day working woman. That’s just all kinds of wrong. But it does make me wonder about what you write here and the difference between how the teenager acts in his own body and how he acts in the adult body. Let’s ignore the fact that this is basically a vehicle for Gong Yoo: to what extent does your body determine your character, if at all? Anyway, great post. The gifs on tumblr are hilarious.

    • “to what extent does your body determine your character, if at all?”

      Man, breaking out the big guns right off the bat, ehh? :) I’ll think about this and reply later.

    • So back to your question…

      Even though I feel kinda uncomfortable with this, I guess it is true that to some extent your body determines your “mannerism,” which could in turn affect the impression of your character, but not your character in and of itself.

      Am I mincing words? IDK. What I do know is you can only infer some things about a person based on looking at them and how they move and act. First impression matter, but I find they are often wrong whether I’m making them or they’re being made about me…That’s why I call ‘first impressions,’ ‘vague impressions.’

      As for the show, I’m going to go with the thought that Gyun Joon is actually an immature 18yr old, but just came off as more mature earlier on because he was putting on a cool act being the new kid in school and all.

  2. I was thinking that perhaps Gyun Joon in his own body was trying to act more “cool” and mature so that others wouldn’t treat him as a teenager, which he is, but after the body switch he is already perceived as an adult, so he doesn’t have to try that hard to be one. Moreover, he doesn’t really care about Yoon Jae’s body nor his image so he might not feel the need to act cool. He is already in a super weird situation that would creep out anyone, so maybe acting “normal” isn’t among his priorities.
    All that being said, sometimes I do feel that the way Gyun Joon acts in Yoon Jae’s body is too exaggerated. They try to play more on the comedic aspect of body-switching rather than how people would realistically act in that situation. It is simply more fun to have Gong Yoo act childish and silly, I guess.

    • The lure of a cute and goofy Gong Yoo is probably too much to resist. He’s definitely playing up the kid thing and having a lot of fun. It must be difficult to play 2 characters who are so different. Yoon Jae who is so reserved and quiet and Gyun Joon who is like a jumping bean.

  3. junnie36

    Thank you for your post. You just put all of my thoughts about this drama into words.

    I don’t know but I feel like the way Gyun Joon act after the body switching resembles the way RP’s J4 acted after being transported to 300 years later. For me, they are totally different people, and I don’t like it. I could accept a storyline with some strange twist and turn, some magical and mysterious events and some characters with personalities far from the norm (that’s why I love Haruki Murakami). But I couldn’t stand inconsistency in the behaviors and manners of the characters, especially when it happened just because of some sudden accidents. It is as if the writers didn’t understand their characters, and didn’t tried to “stand in the characters’ shoes”. Once the characters are established, they will have their own traits, and personalities. They need to act according to their nature and characteristics, not according to the will of the writers or for the sake of the shows.

    I had a huge crush with Gyun Joon before the body switching, from his “trying to act cool” attitude, his unpredictable behaviors (jumping out of the window), his wits and charms, etc. Maybe that’s why even though Goo Young did a great acting job, I couldn’t fall for him when he played the Gyun Joon in 30 year old body.

    • Definitely had a little crush on the pre-body switch Gyun Joon. I wish we had a chance to see him lose the cool facade before the body switch…or I hope that his body wakes up from a coma so we can get more Shin :)

  4. I really actually prefer Gong Yoo’s interpretation of Kyung Joon. The pre-body switching kyung joon was so much like every other teenage male drama lead or even anime lead at that. Trying to play it cool all the time. I also agree with Indigo that he doesn’t care about Yoon Jae’s body or the way that people perceive him, and even less so because he is beginning to have feelings towards Da Ran. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s some major stuff that happens in episode 4. I personally LOVE LOVE LOVE this drama and find it refreshingly different from the majority of dramas out there right now. I am also glad that Gong Yoo is bringing humor to it because when dramas like this get overly serious it makes me want to kill myself. Plus I love the Hong sisters humor, it’s quirky and very different form the American humor I am used to. My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is one of my favorite dramas of all time. So for me, Big is a win, and the best drama I’ve seen in a while.

  5. For me, the jury is completely in on this drama–it’s guilty as charged of making me swoon with adoration ;). I agree about post-body switch Kyung Joon, though. Gong Yoo is acting more like a 12 year old than an 18 year old, especially when alcohol comes into the picture. I don’t know how teenagers spend their Saturday nights in Seoul, but I *do* know how they spend then in Southern California. Kdrama characters always act younger than American characters, but it’s so silly for him to be all giddy at the thought of drinking some beer that I can accept the body switch more easily.

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