Sometimes I Really Hate Electronics: The Story of My Life

 

— 1 —

Oh my. It’s been too long since I’ve done a Quick Takes post. Hello y’all!

I suppose it’s not so bad, though, right? Because I’ve written some other posts. About kdramas, I know, so boring for those of you who don’t follow me for that. I do try to make those interesting, though, at least from an analytic perspective.

— 2 —

Speaking of dramas, I’ll get what I’m watching out of the way:

finally finished Shut Up Flower Boy Band, and for all the unnecessary angst the character’s created, it had a really good story and ending. I mean, unnecessary angst is what high school is all about, right? And they learned to overcome it. Heck, I think they learned lessons adults don’t even want to learn and took them in stride. The one thing I would have liked to see is what the hell happened  to Seung Hoon and his band? He was sort of setting up for some character development, but it fizzled.

Mmmm…I’m watching Unkind Women, which I’ve already said a little bit about. It seems to be getting even more frustrating and melo, but I’m going to stick it out and see what happens. See my reactions via my drama Tumblr (the-kdrama-llama.tumblr.com).

Also, there’s The Girl Who Sees Smells (aka Sensory Couple) which I’m enjoying so far. Park Yoo Chun really has a talent for comedy, and I’m saying that never having seen him in Rooftop Prince or anything else. I like the chemistry between our leads, but I do think they’re rushing the romance a bit: kisses already? Like, intentional kisses, not just “Oops I fell on top of you” or “Oops we bumped heads.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some skinship between leads, but…I’m not seeing Moo Gak, the male lead, quite being fully in love with female lead Cho Rim. Now, not everyone is obvious about their feelings, so maybe he really is, but that’s not been conveyed to me quite yet.

They’re also rushing the story: we already know who the villain is! It’s making me afraid that we’re going to go into Hyde, Jekyll, and I territory and make me stop watching. But, the interactions between Moo Gak and Cho Rim are more believable than the characters from HJI so if nothing else I can enjoy that for the next 8 episodes.

Maybe they’re rushing plot and everything because they only have a 16 episode run? That’s sad though…

— 3 —

And then The Master’s Sun. Oh my So Ji Sub. I watched A Company Man on Netflix, was suitably depressed, and then finally caved to all the So Ji Sub/Gong Hyo Jin gifs I was seeing on Tumblr. Good premise, good chemistry, stupid bastard male lead character who hopefully corrects his crappy behavior. That’s actually the only thing that bothers me about the show. The rest is good. Unless the story breaks down, though it’s been keeping up well so far.

— 4 —

Sadly, my Korean class has come to an end. Our last “class” will be at a Korean restaurant, which will be fun (and it has noraebang, so hopefully we’ll be singing a bit too!). I’m gonna miss it, though, because now that means I have to continue learning grammar rules and vocab on my own, and we barely made a dent in everything.

Well, I’ll just have to learn as best I can, and then when I visit Korea in the next few years I can get corrected then =D

— 5 —

Oh dear…where was I? What else can I say? What else SHOULD I say?

Oh, to those few visitors who bumped my blog views up to 50 in one day, I don’t know what exactly you were looking for but thank you! I hope I can get such views again someday.

If I ever buckle down and actually write like I should.

— 6 —

I’ve picked up Our Mutual Friend by Dickens, and since it’s such a nice day out today, among other things (including spring cleaning) I’m going to sit outside and read. No wasting the day all inside.

— 7 —

I suppose I should explain the title of this post: one reason I haven’t been posting as much is because my computer won’t connect to the internet. I’ve been having to borrow someone else’s, and now I have to get all my info off of my laptop and send it in. Possibly for 3 weeks. Blech. And it doesn’t help that the computers at work never seem to work as they should either. *sigh*

I don’t have anything really left to say–I’m sorry these are so sparse and kdrama heavy! But I will say I do have a post scheduled for tomorrow so please look forward to it!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Watching Unkind Women and Having Lots of Thoughts

On a certain level I’m not really sure why I’m still watching this show–it sometimes switches unevenly between storylines, and some of those stories are not as good as others.

Song Jae Rim is likely one reason I’m sticking around, though contrary to my expectations I don’t actually like his character all that much (more on that later). But the story itself is intriguing as well–three generations of women struggling to live happily despite the secrets surrounding them–and the main romance line seems like it might upset expectations concerning first and second male leads.

I’ll try to make this short, but I’ll give a little synopsis of each storyline (as far as the beginning of Episode 8, which is where i am), what I find interesting in it, and whether or not I like it. Several of the stories tie in to each other, but some to a greater or lesser degree, making certain stories more or less important.

The four women living together are as follows: matriarch Kang Soon Ok, her daughters Hyung Jung and Hyun Sook, and her grandaughter Jung Ma Ri.

The Matriarch: Mature, Older Women, or Middle-school Girls? 

Soon Ok runs an elite, prestigious cooking school out of her home. She is proud of her oldest, who has become a television announcer, and disdainful of youngest Hyun Sook, who never finished her education and seems only to cause her trouble. In fact, due to some of that trouble, Soon Ok loses her over $300,000 in life savings, and ends up inviting her husband’s “mistress” Jang Mo Ran into her home for her dead husband’s memorial. Her intentions toward that woman are, as the title suggests, anything but kind. Both she and Mo Ran are keeping secrets from each other, and are by turns saccharine and cruel to each other. I find it hard to like either of them as characters, because both of them seem to be acting like middle schoolers, and acting in extremely selfish ways. This makes for drama (and a certain dash of comedy) but is mostly frustrating.

I do, however, find the mystery of the husband interesting–Mo Ran says that she didn’t love him, and refused him when he proposed, and admits to wrongfully encouraging his interest because she was lonely. But then we see a flashback to the train where he proposes, and we see her walking slowly back to her seat while others exclaim about a man who has fallen off the train. Clearly this is meant to make us believe she killed him. But did she? And why?

The fact that the husband might not be as dead as he seems further spices up matters. So despite my dislike for the characters themselves, I do want to find out why that cad of a husband left his family, and what precisely happened to him.

The Eldest: Jaded, Hoity-toity, but…

But to me, because of the women’s antics and lack of growth, that’s the least interesting storyline. More interesting but given less screen time is eldest daughter Hyun Jung. Favorite of her mother for excelling in school and in life, Hyun Jung has a job as a rather famous television announcer. She gets a reality check when her program gets cancelled, her slot is given to a younger woman, and the jobs now being offered to her are for positions much less influential than she is used to (for instance, a position on a home shopping network selling kimchi). This reality check is compounded by the fact that Mo Ran is in the house, which prompts Hyun Jung to take a vacation. Despite shunning marriage due to her parents’ rocky relationship, she becomes intrigued by a publisher who offers her a one-year contract job and shows himself to be interested in her

.

I don’t like Hyung Jung’s personality very much–she’s vindictive and acts on her emotions, like her mother does–but I don’t think she’s evil for all that. I also understand that she is the way she is in part because of how she’s grown up–we find out in Episode 8 that she felt pressured to live up to her mother’s expectations and be the perfect daughter to make her mother happy, because of her younger sister. That’s her mother’s fault, not Hyun Sook’s, but it is understandable that Hyun Jung feels that way (though she shouldn’t blame Hyun Sook like that). So, I want to see how she reacts to the publisher’s offer, and to see some character depth given to her (because that’s partly the show’s fault) and some character growth.

The Youngest: The Most Intolerable Teacher of All Time, Self-Image Problems, and Maybe a Loving Husband?

The most prominent story line is that of youngest Hyun Sook. Unemployed, uneducated, and separated (almost divorced), Hyun Sook raised Jung Ma Ri to be smarter and richer, sometimes trying too hard to live vicariously through her. Obsessed with making more money, she frequents gambling houses and invests her mother’s life savings. Unfortunately, the investment folds, and Hyun Sook almost commits suicide over the $300,000 plus that she lost. At first she hides it from her mother, but when her family finds out, she runs to her father’s grave and once again tries to kill herself, this time saved by Jang Mo Ran (which is how Mo Ran comes into the story). In addition, the teacher that treated her cruelly and got her expelled from high school (thereby “ruining her life”) comes back in town, which spurs Hyun Sook to want to take her down, but is herself shot down at every turn. And if all of that wasn’t enough, she hears that her husband Jung Goo Min is getting remarried (to a rich, educated woman) and returning to Korea from abroad.

Though I think Hyun Sook’s angst is rehashed too many times, and that her defeatist attitude concerning herself is what causes most of her problems, I actually do like her as a character, and believe her story to have depth. Her teacher, now called Na Hyun Ae, really was cruel to her, only because she didn’t have the best grades and because Hyun Sook was willing to speak her mind. (Hyun Ae’s educational philosophy is to separate the wheat from the chaff, in the strictest manner possible.) She is a woman who continues to be cruel, and continues to try and tear Hyun Sook down for no other reason than the fact Hyun Sook dare oppose her. (And perhaps the fact that she won’t get her teaching award if the anonymous claims from her former students–not just Hyun Sook–show her to be guilty of abuse.)

This cruelty, plus Soon Ok’s indifferent and disdainful attitude–“When are you going to get better grades? Whose genes do you have that you are like this? Why can’t you be like your older sister?”–helped give her the defeatist attitude that she has. It’s surprising and sad to see someone like Hyun Sook thinking that way, because her high school flashbacks show her to be a bright and fiery girl, and her current actions show her as keenly aware of injustice done not merely to herself but to others as well. Her spirit still serves her when it comes to her daughter, and in some sense in fighting her teacher. The one place it fails is with her husband.

Her relationship with Goo Min makes up the most exciting part of her story. It doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but it gets more than I expected, and I am fully hoping they get back together. Why?

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And this is such a set up: if I’m not mistaken he even kisses her after this, though it’s too dark to really tell and she starts whacking him. She really should get back with him, and not because she has to, but because he loves her, she loves him and they’ll both be happier that way. Not because she won’t find anyone better, not because she won’t find anyone else who loves her. But because he actually cares about her! Oh this caption got too long…

Consider these things: the two have been living apart, but not divorced. Goo Min’s every action and expression show him to be torn, even reluctant, when it comes to his remarriage. He constantly visits the house (occasionally at his mother-in-law’s bidding), and when Hyun Sook says they should go to a lawyer and finalize their separation through divorce, he asks if she really wants to do it. A surprising question coming from the man who is getting remarried and legally (so I assume) needs the divorce. Other events, too, show that he still loves his wife: that he takes the time to go find Jung Ma Ri and lecture her about respecting her mother, that he keeps visiting the house, and that he says he will tutor Hyun Sook to help her get into college. Only after she’s in college, he says, will he remarry, so she can’t interfere with his wedding.

But nothing in her behavior reasonably indicates that she would interrupt the wedding–everything points the other way. The hurt in her eyes, her insistence on getting the divorce, and her insistence that he will be happier with a rich, educated wife. All of this, in light of Hyun Sook’s attitudes, demonstrate that no matter how hurt she is by the remarriage, no matter how much she still loves her husband, she won’t stop this remarriage because she honestly thinks she isn’t worthy to be his wife. 

So the only reason I can think of that he keeps putting off this remarriage is that he doesn’t wholly want to go through with it.

But then he says, “I’ll get married once you’re in college” and she replies, “What if I don’t get in?” All he says to that is, “You have to.” I’m slightly puzzled by this statement, because it doesn’t seem to fit with my theory 100%. Perhaps I’m wrong, and perhaps he does want to go through with this remarriage but his lingering feelings for Hyun Sook are holding him back. His actions, though, point to not really wanting to get remarried, and his actions are greater in number and force than a simple statement. So perhaps his saying, “You have to,” is because he is torn and wants something to make the decision for him. If he says, “I’ll get remarried once you’re in college,” he can feel that he’s done right by her as her tutor (which he was to begin with) and then the decision is easier because it has a deadline. It also puts the decision off because Hyun Sook has to take time to study.

I also just had the thought that maybe the “I’ll get remarried once you’re in college” could mean Goo Min has already called off his engagement, and really wants to get back together with Hyun Sook. Not really a remarriage, but it would be a renewal of their relationship. I think he sees how badly Hyun Sook thinks of herself, and it hurts him, and he thinks a way of fixing that is to give her the thing she thinks will make her worthy–an education–since nothing else has convinced her that she is valuable.

I don’t always like Goo Min’s attitude toward Hyun Sook, sometimes he seems to treat her like he knows better than she does and so he comes off condescending. And I’m annoyed at his wishy-washiness–if you still love your wife, be a man and tell her. I feel like directness might help some matters. But maybe my last theory is right, and he doesn’t think she’ll listen if he does that, so he’s trying to do it her way. I hope so. Because I think he is a good man and loves Hyun Sook and I am all for married couples getting back together and working things out. Ahhh I really want it to happen!

The Granddaughter: The Stuff of Rom-Com Fluff

And finally we have Jung Ma Ri, Hyun Sook’s moderately successful daughter. She excelled in school, graduated from a good university and was hired by them as a Liberal Arts lecturer (and more impressively was one of the youngest to do so). She inherits her mom’s fiery spirit without the self-defeatism, which prompts her to orchestrate lunch of jjajangmyeon for 200 students on the school lawn to help draw students to her class. (Liberal arts’ struggle to be recognized is a universal problem.) Sadly, well-meaning reporter Lee Doo Jin who spontaneously decides to film the event, gets cut off in the middle of his broadcast; so before he gets to explain live that the school isn’t focusing enough on liberal arts, the students drop her class, the parents clamor, and the school fires Ma Ri.

She picks up a part-time job at a coffee shop, somewhat relishing the extra free time. But ultimately, she mails a letter to all the executives at Doo Jin’s news company, and they defer his upcoming promotion, as well as offering Ma Ri a position to help film a documentary. Meanwhile, to deal with this sudden job loss, the crazy antics already going on in her family, and with the things she’s learning about her mom’s past, Ma Ri goes to the school’s kendo dojo. Turns out there’s a new master there, Lee Roo Oh, who heard about her being fired, and is intrigued by her when she accidentally comes into the men’s locker room and needs his help getting out. Due to his Kendo teacher being a big, helpful influence in his life, he has a great respect for teachers (and an eye for pretty women).

Suffice to say a rivalry will soon spring up between Doo Jin and Roo Oh, I’m sure. Ma Ri’s storyline is pretty much the stuff of rom-coms. There’s not really much to her per se–at least I don’t think the show is interested in her character development yet–but she’s not a one-note character. She does need help sometimes, and sometimes things get bigger than she can handle, but Ma Ri always tries to do her best; and when the girls try to get her to leave because they’re jealous of her, she doesn’t miss a beat and tells them off, with no help. Sometimes she loses her cool, like when she gets caught off guard by Roo Oh, but she always recollects herself before she does something and tries to rectify it. Which is why I hope she reconciles with her mother soon.

The one thing I will say that’s a little different are the male leads. Roo Oh has the personality we associate with male leads (slightly roguish, has controlling tendencies, often leaves the heroine confused), which is one reason I don’t like him as much as I want to like him. He is kind and generally considerate, but he hides his feelings behind banter and, more problematically, physically menaced Ma Ri in one episode by pushing her against the wall. Typical over-dramatic stuff, but it’s a problem–not only is it a problem in and of itself, because it’s a threatening action and done to surprise her, but also because it was a disproportionate response to her words and not even on the list of responses one could expect. It was totally out of the blue, and out of character even for the impish, more aggressive Roo Oh. Roo Oh also has the potential to be too controlling–threatening (however playfully) to spread a rumor about the shower incident if she doesn’t come to kendo, picking her up when insists she’d prefer to walk and clamors to be let down, never being straightforward about his feelings and always bantering, leaving her caught off guard and confused.

However, this doesn’t mean Roo Oh is bad, it just means he has tendencies that aren’t good and that I hope he quashes. Furthermore, he has done some good things–he sends her some pain patches after she’s hurt at kendo, he discreetly helps her out of the men’s locker room, he takes care of Gook Young Soo, and when Ma Ri is arguing with the dojo girls, he doesn’t just immediately jump in. He waits, and finds that she can handle it herself so doesn’t jump in at all. And hurries off like an overjoyed schoolboy at the fact that she likes his teaching style.

Interestingly enough, though, Roo Oh’s actions and the events occurring around him seem to set him up as a second male lead. That is, Ma Ri thinks he’s nice, he’s already done lots of “nice” things for her (sending her things, taking care of her, etc. etc.) but hasn’t actually made a move and just hints at things; and he’s in love with her before she’s in love with him. These are all things that typically occur with second male leads.

Whereas Doo Jin, who has the personality associated with second male leads (generally kind and considerate through and through, with no particularly controlling tendencies), seems set up to be male lead. He has not yet developed an obvious love for Ma Ri, but he’s been straightforward about finding her attractive. They spend a lot of time together, and he is directly involved with Hyun Sook’s story line, as his father was the reporter who defended Hyun Sook. Now Doo Jin is following in his father’s footsteps to help.

Because these character tropes are flipped around, it delightfully upsets a viewer’s expectations about first and second leads, and gives us no idea of who she will end up with. So I’m interested to see the progression of this love triangle.

Is it crazy that what I most want to see is Hyun Sook and Goo Min get back together? Like if nothing else good happens in this show, if that happens, I think I might be satisfied.

Happy Easter!

Χριστός ἀνέστη!

Happy Easter to all!

“Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

It is truly right and just, with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now, throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night,
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.

O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honor,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.”

– from the Exultet

Misaeng and Moving On

*Be advised that if you intend to watch Misaeng, you may wish to do so before reading this post, as it contains major plot spoilers. And if you don’t intend on watching it, I suggest that you do, because it’s worth it. Also, I cannot tell you how much I want to write all these names in Hangul.*

So this is not at all the post I was expecting to be writing at this point, especially not on Spy Wednesday/Holy Thursday. (Unfortunately, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter have all crept up on me). But what can you do? You finish a drama, and it affects you, and you have to write about it.

If you follow kdramas at all, you have no doubt at least heard of Misaeng, aka Incomplete Life. A (surprisingly from me) short synopsis:

Jan Geu Rae manages to land an internship at a trading company through personal connections. Despite his lack of qualifications–he only has a GED–he passes the internship and becomes a 2-year-contract employee. Over the course of 20 episodes we see no more and no less than the triumphs and struggles of Jang Geu Rae and his colleagues in their corporate lives.

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I like the show for many reasons, but the one I want to mention here is something I’ve talked about before, actually: the concept of moving on.

You see, the end of the series really resonates with me.

When One International refuses to extend his contract, Jang Geu Rae leaves the company. But for him, leaving the company isn’t so much about leaving the work he does; it’s about the people. He feels bad enough for inadvertently causing his beloved Manager Oh to quit, and on top of that, now he can’t even give Manager Oh the consolation of having received a permanent position. Then there’s Assistant Managers Kim and Cheon, Senior Manager Seon, and his peers, who all did their best to get encourage the company to fully hire him. It seems to be both a relief (not being constantly reminded of Manager Oh) and a pain (leaving his coworkers and disappointing his former manager) that he fails to make the cut.

So Geu Rae returns to his unemployed state. Yet he doesn’t become listless or despairing, but proactively builds up his skill set, so that he may one day work as a company man again. We even see him three weeks later, cleaning his mother’s floor while practicing English. When his former coworkers all want to have a drink with him, he meets them and has a good time. When Manager Oh offers him a job at a new startup company, he takes it. When he’s given the responsibility of chasing down an errant salesman, he hops on a plane to Jordan and gets to it. He grabs the bull by the horns, something he never would have done at the beginning of the series.

Like, he literally runs after the errant salesman. And leaps from a rooftop to a window and lands just like this. Yay dramaland!!

Instead of being stuck on his failures, or even stuck in the good memories of the past, Geu Rae cherishes what he had and continues on with his life. I am convinced that he would have done this even had he not seen Manager Oh again. Don’t get me wrong, Geu Rae grieved for what he had lost. The day Manager Oh left, the day he himself had to leave, Geu Rae was crying (beautiful performance by Im Si Wan, and everyone really). But he knew that for everything to get even a little better, he had to move on. That, as Manager Oh always said, his best skill was his endurance, and that we have to endure these incomplete lives of ours. So he gratefully took the lessons he learned from his time at One International and put them to good use. And life got better.

His life isn’t exactly as it was before. True, he’s working with both Manager Oh and Assistant Manager Kim (who couldn’t take not being around the two of them and so joined Manager Oh’s company), but Oh’s company is smaller, more at risk of failure, and his job is less stable. He doesn’t get to work with Manager Cheon, Seok Yeol, Yeong Yi, or Baek Gi. That time in his life is over and done. Geu Rae can’t pause his life just because of that.

The reason that part really pierced my heart was because it reminded me exactly of when I left college. I wasn’t being let go from a job or anything, and I hadn’t really let anyone down, but I was leaving a place and people I loved. On graduation day, after the flurried rush of chatting and pictures, we all dispersed to go home, and that was it. I was bawling. The last friend that I said good-bye to had to leave hurriedly and so I had to give him a hug with my mascara running and everything.

No runny mascara, but you get the idea.

I knew I would see my friends again, but nothing would ever be the same. We will never again have the same closeness, the same environment fostering discussion and fellowship and camaraderie, the same opportunities to learn. If we get to see each other again, wonderful; if not, then we can cherish the memories we have all the more. Most importantly, we grew and changed in those experiences, and hopefully learned from them, so that we can work on our incomplete lives, on living how we should.

And I think Incomplete Life, or “Not Yet Born” is a pretty good way to describe our earthly lives. Because here, this world, is not the place for our lives’ completion and fullness. We only find that after death–with God. And even though there will be happiness, to get to that point, we have to be like Jang Geu Rae and his friends and endure a lot of suffering and pain, sometimes by fighting back and sometimes silently, biting our tongues. To be like Christ, who suffered the ignominy of the crucifixion for us, that we might finally realize the completeness and fullness of our lives in Him.

on Sacrifice.

Something we should all remember, especially during this time of Lent. Sacrifices don’t have to be these big, grandiose undertakings. They should be sacrifices that not only are sacrifices for us (because sacrifices differ between people) but sacrifices we can and know we are called to accomplish. And often we are called to the little things.

worthy of Agape

It was a Monday morning and the sun wasn’t up yet. My husband’s phone rang at 5:30am as I rolled over (is that possible at 8 months pregnant?), wondering who on Earth would be calling at such an hour. As it turns out, the school he teaches at was closed for the day due to snow. My alarm was set to go off half an hour later and I prayed that I’d find my work had been closed as well.

I checked the closure listing at 6am. And again at 6:10. And yet again at 6:20 and 6:30, but to no avail. At this point I simply had to get up, shower, and go to work. I hoped that since the vast majority of schools were closed, my drive wouldn’t be that awful. On a normal Monday morning, my drive to work is around 45 minutes. That Monday morning, however…

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Fearlessly Devoted

I had a sort of epiphany the other day. Someone on Tumblr posted a picture of their new Doctor Who mug. This brought home to me just how far fandom has come, at least as far as comic books, video games, and in some measure anime. Being an otaku, in the mild sense we use it in the States, still isn’t exactly popular, and may be looked down on by some, but it’s garnered much more acceptance now than in past years. And look at Marvel–they’ve brought superheroes and comic books into the spotlight (even if they don’t encourage people to read the comics necessarily).

So now people are shedding their fears and openly, proudly showing their interest in and passion for whatever they like. Doctor Who, Sherlock, Marvel, DC, anime, kdramas, kpop, jpop and jrock–people spend hours reading, watching, listening, staying up late for premieres, going to conventions, lavishing money on fanmeets and other events, wearing t-shirts and other paraphernalia, going to concerts, writing, drawing, painting, editing videos and pictures, covering songs, making games, making costumes, doing photoshoots, all out of love for the thing they like. Then they say, “World, look at this awesome thing!” Some argue about which is better; sometimes these arguments are horrible and we hurt each other, and hatred and venom abound; sometimes they are passionate but level and reasoned and charitable.

And then I wondered, why the heck don’t we Christians show our devotion like that? Shouldn’t we be proud to be followers of Christ? Shouldn’t we be excited and read all about it and make an effort to live as followers of Christ, like people make an effort to live as fans of Naruto or NGE or Doctor Who or Marvel or whatever you can think of? Shouldn’t our love for God overflow into our creative expression? If it’s so important, shouldn’t we be excited to share it with other people in our daily lives?

It used to. Painters and sculptors most often decided on religious subjects for their art, some of the greatest art in history! And many musicians were commissioned to compose Masses. The fact that some artists were paid to do what they did, or that some of these pieces might not have been their favorites, does not at all diminish the fact that their works are meaningful and lasting, and of a religious nature. And I’m sure some of them did produce art for love of God.

Why don’t we do that anymore?

We’ve lost our love and passion for God. We’ve become scared, because living as a fan is easy–all people can do is make fun of you–but living as a Christian is not. People can make fun of you, laugh at you, degrade you, yes, but they can also make it difficult to live how you believe you should, they can imprison you and penalize you for what you believe, they can even kill you, depending on the situation.

But if fans of worldly, human creations can deal with being made fun of and bullied in horrible ways for the things that they love, we should even more so love and be willing to endure difficulty, even unto death, for Him who conquered death for us.

That doesn’t mean we have to go around asking everyone, “Have you been saved?” It doesn’t mean we have to wear a t-shirt that says “Jesus is my Homeboy.” It doesn’t mean that all we have to do every day is talk about God.

It means we have to pray. It means we have to live the truth and not be afraid to proclaim the truth. It means we can’t be quiet when horrible things are going on; we can’t lie to save someone’s feelings; we can’t water the truth down to the point that it means nothing; we can’t preach a false gospel of toleration and acceptance. That doesn’t mean we spew hate or that we are uncharitable, but that we stand up for the truth and don’t back down just because someone says, “You’re wrong!” or “You’re being judgmental” or “You’re mean” or “You’re unkind” or “You’re not being tolerant.” Is truth tolerant of untruth? Is health tolerant of sickness? Are fandoms tolerant of haters?

What all of this really means–what I mean here–is that we must be fearless, passionate, and devoted lovers of God.

For the First Time In My Life I’m Skipping a Class Purely for Anime

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Yep. I have finally been bitten by that bug. I’ve never done it on purpose or for a non-legitimate reason (i.e. not homework or other-people related). As in, I’ve only ever accidentally slept through class because I took a nap and slept through my 5 alarms, or because my best friend needed a ride to the dentist’s to get her wisdom teeth out. Stuff like that.

Then yesterday, that changed.

I recently started a once-a-week art class that runs from 6:15 to 8:45 pm. So I have about an hour after I get home from work to eat dinner, then I pop over to class and struggle to regain the skills that have suffered from disuse for around 5 years.

But yesterday, all innocent and unsuspecting, I went to the YMCA to exercise. I emerged, refreshed from my half-hour interval program on the treadmill, when lo! I see and greet one of the Y employees, a casual acquaintance of mine. He, too, has a love for anime, and proceeded to inform me that Naruto the Last would be playing for one night only at a movie theater 20 minutes from my house. I was quite stunned by this information, as I imagine that since it has been ongoing for 15 years, it’s ending both in manga and film form is like the end of Harry Potter (for us otaku, anyway).

I proceeded to look up the when and where of the thing when I got home. But guess which night it’s showing?

You got it. The one day of the week I have art class. Dutiful student that I am, I searched to see if it would be showing anywhere else at any other time in my area. It, was of course, only available at the one theater for the one night.

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And so, after a long and painful struggle, I yielded to my inner otaku and, filled with excitement, hurriedly purchased a ticket on Fandango.

The only reason I’m making a big deal of this is because I’m REALLY EXCITED TO GO SEE THIS MOVIE, and because I myself am not used to skipping class. I know, in the scheme of things, that it’s not a big deal, and there come times when things are much more important than classes. I just have a very strong sense of duty and so the very idea somehow offends my sensibilities. Just not enough to stop me. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Also I figured turning it into a dramatic vignette would give me something to post on my blog until I finish writing my post on Frozen which is just turning into a really long, confused essay.

So. If you are looking to see The Last, you should go to Fandago or MovieFone or whatever and find if it’s showing in your area and where. It opened today, and it’s only in limited release, so hurry. Also I think it’s in subbed, so be prepared for that.

Have fun!

Ummm…Long Time, No See?

I know it’s been a couple of weeks…at least I think it’s been a couple of weeks.  I didn’t check and I’m too lazy to go check right now.

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Suffice to say it’s been a while since I posted anything.

I have good and bad and pointless and meaningful excuses, but instead of excusing myself I’ll get to the point.

I’ll have a couple of posts out soon, both episodic kdrama reviews, for episodes 9 and 10 of Kill Me, Heal Me. I know many (perhaps most) of the few who follow my blog have noticed its kdrama trend, and I have of late been watching more kdramas. Perhaps I should call myself “The Blossoming Sentimentalist” instead?

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If I keep posting gifs like this then definitely.

But never fear, I still have some other posts in production that are not kdrama related.

It’s just that being lazy and consuming material happens to be much easier than producing it, which is why I spent my few days of recovery from my lithotripsy watching kdramas and reblogging kdrama-related posts on Tumblr. For those unacquainted with the term, a lithotripsy involves assaulting a kidney with a multitude of shockwaves in order to break up kidney stones too large to pass through the ureter.

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Sorry if that was TMI. Bragging about surgery, however non-invasive, is fun for some reason.

So, see you soon (probably) with those reviews, and apologies to my non-drama watching readers! I’m gonna go back into hiding for a while now.

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Kill Me, Heal Me Ep 9 Summary and Review

So let me preface this by saying that in some ways I think Kill Me, Heal Me is problematic, and that you shouldn’t watch the show unless you have a good grounding in how healthy human relationships are supposed to work, and unless you are prepared to think seriously about some of the issues it presents. I really need to find some kind of rating system…

Also I know this post is late, but I actually wrote it at the right time…I just haven’t gotten to post it until 7 episodes later!

We come back to the little (or big) cliffhanger we left off with: the kiss! Then we cut to Oh Ri Ohn driving a car as he begins to connect the dots: “Could the chaebol Ri Jin spoke of be Cha Do Hyun?”

Meanwhile, Ri Jin wakes up the next morning, recalls the kiss, and promptly freaks out, trying to make all sorts of excuses that he was Se Gi or that he was drunk, hoping he doesn’t remember. Cha Do Hyun works his personal treadmill with a determined expression. Not determined enough, apparently, because all he can think of is kissing Ri Jin. Upping his speed fails to rid him of his heat, but some calming meditation and a slap to his own face seems to do the trick. He runs into an edgy, flustered Ri Jin after his exercising. She abruptly starts questioning him as to whether he’s had any problems with his other personalities, if he was Do Hyun last night and if he’s Do Hyun now, or if he perhaps loses consciousness or has memory loss after drinking alcohol. He answers that it was Do Hyun last night and “I remember everything.” At this she screams and runs out the door, and an unruffled Do Hyun follows her, chasing her around a bit before the two finally go get something to eat.

Ri Jin decides to have a “counseling” session with Do Hyun, but wants to clear up the kiss without really referencing it. She explains that any feelings he has for her are a result of positive transference, where a patient develops feelings for their therapist because the therapist is good/kind/nice/helpful. He assents to her explanation of things, and comments that she seems more uncomfortable than he is.

Once again flustered, she runs to the kitchen to get a drink. Meanwhile, Do Hyun gets one of his headaches. When Ri Jin returns he’s gone, leaving behind a sketchbook with a teddy bear and “I’m NaNa” written on it. She searches the house and finds Do Hyun in her bedroom…and he’s now become Yo Na, looking ridiculous in Ri Jin’s  rabbit-eared hoodie pajamas. Boy-crazy Yo Na sees a pic of Ri Ohn and wants his phone number, but Ri Jin fights for her phone, ending the scuffle in a tumble down the stairs which knocks Yo Na out.

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Next thing he knows, Do Hyun is in his bed with an IV. He takes it out and goes to the living room. Ri Jin asks him who he is, and then proceeds to tell him how all his personalities except Se Gi came out that night, and she managed to avert crisis with all of them. He’s relieved that Se Gi didn’t come out and that she didn’t get hurt.

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However, Se Gi’s absence troubles Do Hyun. Later he goes over the security tapes, verifying that Ri Jin told the truth, and wondering whether his determination kept Se Gi away or whether his more violent counterpart is plotting something.

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Chae Yeon and Ki Joon get into an elevator at ID Entertainment. Chae Yeon is still frosty because of Do Hyun’s rejection and Ki Joon’s anger, so their relationship hasn’t been repaired. Do Hyun almost misses the elevator, and doesn’t get on at first when he sees who is in it. He finally steps in, and Ki Joon starts taunting him about Ri Jin. Do Hyun doesn’t lose his cool and banters right back that he has hidden her in the safest place of all. The elevator reaches the floor and the doors open to reveal Ri Jin dressed as a secretary. Do Hyun sends some parting barbs Ki Joon’s way and walks off with Ri Jin. The two give each other five once they are out of sight.

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Chae Yeon, annoyed by this, takes her anger out on Ki Joon and tells him to announce the engagement news he just retracted. Ki Joon asks her if she’s just doing this because of Do Hyun, and Chae Yeon violently lashes out at him and denies his conjectures.

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Do Hyun’s mother shocks both him and Ri Jin by appearing at the company. She sends Ri Jin out of the room so she can talk to Do Hyun about his arranged date with a chaebol’s daughter. Ri Jin is on the lookout and sees the Chairwoman, his grandmother, come down the hall. The sight reminds her of when Do Hyun told her that the Chairwoman cannot know about his illness, and any transformation around her must be stopped at all costs.

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The Chairwoman enters the room and complains at his mother. Just when Do Hyun begins to feel unstable, Ri Jin comes in and announces that he’s late for his next appointment. Surprised at the sudden existence of an appointment, he follows her out. She explains that she thought if she left him with the chairwoman any longer he would turn into Ferry Park and throw bombs. Chairwoman yells at Cha Do Hyun’s mom some more, and Cha Do Hyun’s mom asks her to give Do Hyun more power in the company.

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Do Hyun and Ri Jin sit at a coffee shop, where Secretary Ahn meets them and tells them they need to leave quickly. He says Ri Jin has a personal schedule of her own for the afternoon, and that he must take Do Hyun elsewhere. Ri Jin meets up with Dr. Scofield (find his Korean name), who is sore at her for lying to him but ultimately helpful. They discuss the appearances of Do Hyun’s personalities the night before, and Scofield thinks back to when Do Hyun suggested Ri Jin might  be a trigger for his transformations.

Do Hyun meets with Omega, who he is surprised to discover is Ri Ohn. Ri Ohn decides to sell his copyright, but with some conditions, one of which is that he be able to meet with Ri Jin, who he knows is still in Korea. They also talk about Omega’s book The Boy in the Basement, and Do Hyun wonders if Omega has figured out why the boy is afraid of basements. Ri Ohn answers that the boy wasn’t really afraid of basements, he just thought he was because he loved the girl, and decided to share in her fear. The question of why the girl is afraid of basements goes unanswered. Do Hyun calls Oh Ri Jin and asks her to come to a certain cafe. When she arrives she finds Ri Ohn instead of Do Hyun. Ri Ohn is mad about what she’s doing, but only tells her on leaving that she’s dead meat if she turns her phone off.

Cha Do Hyun returns home while she meets with Ri Ohn. He had one of his headaches during the meeting with Omega, and it returns as he tries to remember his lost memories. Se Gi taunts him and berates him, saying that Do Hyun isn’t able to face the trauma; Se Gi had to go through it instead, and Do Hyun is still a coward.

Ri Jin drives home, lamenting his part in bringing Do Hyun and Ri Jin together. He later overhears his parents wondering whether they did right to take in Sae Yeon’s child. His mother says she believes in Ri On, that he is just a brother to Ri Jin and nothing more.

Ri Jin returns to Do Hyun’s place, and finds him unconscious and tossing and turning in bed. He is struggling with a memory he has, of being in the basement with someone. He grabs on to Ri Jin, saying “Play with me,” and she stays with him until he wakes up. Unfortunately, he wakes up as Se Gi, who violently pushes her on the bed and asks what she’s doing in Cha Do Hyun’s bed with Cha Do Hyun.

Thoughts

I’m afraid very little of this will make sense if you haven’t seen the drama, so I apologize. Doesn’t mean you can’t read it, just means you might not get much out of it.

Quite frankly, I’m concerned about Shin Se Gi. We haven’t seen him since he kissed Ri Jin, as far as I remember, and I was kinda worried about that when she was all freaking out, “Have I fallen for him?” Because Se Gi, on his own, as a character, outside of being a facet of Cha Do Hyun’s personality, is not someone to admire. He’s violent on a whim, does only what he wants and doesn’t respect other people (stealing that guy’s jacket, dragging Ri Jin around, being physically menacing/threatening to her and others especially at the end of this episode. If he really loved her he wouldn’t do that). That doesn’t mean everything about him is bad, but when the good parts of the whole are less than the sum of the good parts that make up that whole…we have a problem.

But why am I concerned? We haven’t seen him for a few episodes, right? Well, that’s why I’m concerned. I don’t know how they’re going to portray him now that they’re bringing him back. I don’t want them to romanticize him as some poor tortured badass and imply that he should be the dominant personality. Just because we want Do Hyun to grow a backbone (which he has done in recent episodes) doesn’t mean that he should become Se Gi full-time. He needs Se Gi’s confidence and courage. Which are actually really his to begin with.

What I’m hoping will happen is that when they play Se Gi seriously, they won’t play him as a love interest. Oh Ri Ohn, the adoptive brother, is firmly in second male lead territory, so I’m hoping the first few episodes are just there to present Se Gi as a sort of false second male lead that serves as Cha Do Hyun’s gateway to Ri Jin. I don’t mind if they play him as “in love with” or attracted to Ri Jin: she’s clearly directly related to Do Hyun’s trauma, and Se Gi knows her, so she could’ve been Do Hyun’s childhood love. Since Se Gi’s mindset is still clearly that of a child’s, that makes sense. However, I want Ri Jin to have her priorities straight, and get rid of this “Which personality am I in love with?” crap. Se Gi on his own, without Do Hyun, is abusive and absolutely not good. So I hope they just handle this carefully and well.

What with Fifty Shades of Grey hype going around I’m also kind of worried about the whole abusive relationships thing. It doesn’t have to be physically abusive to be abusive and controlling. That’s why some of Do Hyun’s actions (and most of Se Gi’s) have given me pause. For instance, when he calls the hospital and gets her on temporary leave so she can be his personal psychiatrist. He gives her the choice in the end, and Ri Jin’s choice is her own. But the fact that he did that is off-putting. Let her make the choice herself first, without coercing her in any way.

Also, the contract he makes with her in order to be his personal physician (having her live at his house and be around him 24/7), and the times he pulls back on her hood when she tries to run away from him. The situation is much different from Fifty Shades of Grey, obviously, and is tangled up in the fact that Do Hyun and Ri Jin’s relationship is primarily that of doctor and patient, which already complicates any romantic tendencies. Therefore, they make a business pact that considering his circumstances is reasonable: since he is a public figure, seeing him go to and from the hospital might cause rumors, so staying at his place (or close by) makes sense, and since he is unstable, having him watched 24/7 also makes sense. Again, though, the couple’s more-than-friendly feelings complicate matters.

I’m also not sure if people are more free to touch each other in Korea, if kdramas play up the comic violence, whether women being dragged around is a normal occurrence, or if women usually don’t resist being dragged around (or maybe it’s all of these). But I have noticed in some dramas that men just kind of drag women around like they’re not perfectly able to think and move for themselves, thanks. I don’t recall Do Hyun doing that to Ri Jin at any time except for pulling on her hood, which I think was more for comedic effect. In my mind, that scene would’ve gone: him touching her arm or shoulder lightly as she tried to leave and saying, “Where are you going?” then following her out and chasing her around. Rather than the whole, pull-the-hoodie thing which gives you more of a did-I-give-you-permission-to-go vibe. I’m not sure how much is just neutral cultural difference and actual problem/negative cultural difference.

I could just be over-analyzing this part, but especially with Fifty Shades of Grey out and about, and with many kdramas having emotionally/physically maniuplative assholes for leads (which is why I’ve dropped so many) I like to point to the problematic elements in things to show I do not condone them. I will also remark that Kill Me, Heal Me is a work in progress, so I have yet to see if the whole is the sum of its parts or not.

On to the good stuff!

What I’m absolutely loving is Do Hyun’s character development. We get to see what’s behind the overly-polite, doormat facade. In reality, it’s not easy to outwardly ruffle Do Hyun’s feathers unless it’s related to his trauma (he reacts relatively calmly to finding himself waking up in bed with no memory of how his face got bloodied). It’s also not easy to make him give up: he has doggedly searched far and wide for a way to cure his illness for eleven years. He’s hidden this illness for eleven years. For eleven years he has worked with other people to help manage his other personalities, and he still has the solicitude to think not merely of the havoc that his personalities wreak in his life, but how they can hurt other people. He’s proactive about managing his illness even when a cure seems elusive.

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His rhetoric is so good he spins his lateness to a business meeting into something impressive. He (for the most part) respects other peoples’ agency. Despite his forcing Ri Jin to go on leave, he did give her the choice about whether to use it to go to America or to stay and help him and was resigned to the choice she said she had made. Yo Sub’s appearance may have influenced her decision to stay, but that’s not something he has total (or even any) control over. He can be playful, sometimes even smug, and I don’t recall ever seeing him lay a harmful or menacing hand on Ri Jin (outside of when he is Se Gi or another personality). He has amazing self-insight, especially when it comes to Chae Yeon–possibly resulting from his decade of psychotherapy.

Don’t get me wrong, he has flaws. I’m only rhapsodizing here to make the point that he’s getting character development and that he as a whole is infinitely better than any of his individual personalities (*cough* Se Gi *cough*). His biggest flaws seem to me to be these: isolating himself and taking on the whole burden of his illness, pushing others away, thinking too much of himself and spending too much time feeling sorry for himself. Also, at first, not having a spine.

Oh and the smug expression on his face when he makes Ki Joon’s threat backfire. It just slays me.

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As for thoughts on what actually happened in this episode:

Do Hyun mentions nothing explicitly about their kiss the night before; he doesn’t seem intent on immediately pursuing a relationship (thus the exercising and the meditating to get rid of his libido at the time). But he hasn’t given up on Ri Jin, either, because he pretty much asks Se Gi not to take her away from him–that she’s his love. A voice-over by Do Hyun pleads with Se Gi, “If you don’t stop me doing these things after I mustered courage for the first time, if you don’t steal just the time  I have with this person, I promise you tens, hundreds, and thousands of times that I will give my entire body, all my time and memories to you in my next life. Please don’t appear in front of this person. Please don’t steal this love from me.”

So far, I think his reaction a fairly reasonable and measured one. It doesn’t put pressure on their already strange and strained relationship to become anything more than it is at present–and a romantic relationship for someone with DID would be problematic on a certain level. I wouldn’t say impossible, just problematic. So it’s good that he’s taking it slow. He’s also probably concerned for Ri Jin, happy to have the time with her but not wanting her to hurt and therefore not pressing his suit. (Why do I feel like I’m talking about ironing a blazer? I know I’m not but that image just came to mind.)

What I find most interesting, though, is that he turns into Yo Na after Ri Jin obliquely references their kiss by talking about positive transference. It seems that he turned into NaNa for a few minutes first, of course. Na Na is a mystery, probably becasue she is directly related to the trauma that happened. She’s related enough for Do Hyun’s mom to know about her (suggesting NaNa might even have been real person, and she may even be Oh Ri Jin as a young girl). That’s just speculation, but it could explain why he turned into NaNa after talking to Oh Ri Jin. Why turn into Yo Na, then? Probably because Na Na is too close the trauma he doesn’t want to remember, so he wouldn’t be her for a long period of time. Secondly, he had just experienced a sort of rejection from Ri Jin, and Yo Na comes out when he’s trying to deal patiently and quietly with a stressor. Being rejected by the woman you love and simultaneously wanting to protect her by not confessing your love is one of those stressors you try to endure quietly, rather than broadcast everywhere.

And the two big questions are these: A) Why did all the personalities come out at once? and B) Why did all the personalities except Se Gi come out at once?

To A) I say that it was probably due to the freedom and comfort Do Hyun finally feels with Ri Jin. He’s no longer afraid to show all of himself to her, and she wants to get to know him as a friend. What better way than to meet all his personalities?

To B), I’m not sure. Following off of my answer to A), one might posit that Se Gi has already met Ri Jin. However, I’m more inclined to think with Do Hyun that Se Gi is plotting something. Or that he won’t be very happy when he comes back. And Se Gi’s attitude at the end of this episode certainly comes off as foreboding.

Let’s just hope nothing too deadly happens when he comes back.