Okay, we’re back! This episode felt like the show finally found its feet, which makes sense given that Da Ran finally, properly has to confront her own feelings for Kyung Joon. At this late stage of the drama, they needed to banish any ambivalence the audience felt about the central couple, and they did.
I was too full and tired to watch the episode live, but weirdly, as if my body knew I hadn’t had my Big fix, I woke up at 3am, watched the episode and fell back asleep with a big smile on my face. It was a sweetly angsty episode that turned out to be quite fun to recap.
Links as usual to Dramabeans and Koala’s Playground since they always provide something interesting and different from the stuff I write here. If there are any other sites with interesting commentary or recaps on Big, please let me know and I’ll link to those as well.
Recap! Thoughts on episodes 9 & 10 at the bottom, since I didn’t get around to writing them for episode 9 yesterday.
Kyung Joon stops the walkman as Da Ran says “Kyung Joon-ah, why am I so happy you came?”
Kyung takes out his earbuds, “What did you say?” Startled, Da Ran starts to stutter and repeat, “Do you want a drink, is your throat dry, do you want a drink?!” and runs away. Haha, oh god. Kyung Joon looks on completely perplexed, wondering aloud why she’s lying, since he clearly heard what she said. Da Ran returns after trying to get her act together, but she’s just as flustered as before, still asking about snacks and drinks before running off again.
Inside the movie theatre Da Ran is calmer, watching the movie and munching on popcorn, but Kyung Joon spends the entire time staring at Da Ran. Finally he asks: “Gil Teacher, do you like me?” !!!! Cue screams from the movie they’re watching. Da Ran’s shocked face kills me, did she think she’d gotten away with her drink/snack act from before?
As they’re leaving the movie, Da Ran attempts to coolly dismiss her declaration as nothing, but her delivery is too desperately cheerful: “Oh, you heard that huh?” She starts a long rambling explanation about how she didn’t want to see a scary movie by herself so she was simply expressing how lucky it was he turned up. Kyung Joon continues to stare at her like she’s science project, unconvinced: “Then, what was with your expression? It looked like you were caught confessing.”
Da Ran hilariously tries to pass it off as her ‘I want to eat/drink something’ expression, trying to recreate her moonfaced adoration from before. Kyung Joon skeptical, asks, isn’t what she really wanted this?- and points at his own face. This is too funny. Da Ran sighs and reluctantly admits, that honestly, she’s not sure if she’s been confused lately, but she was indeed happy when he arrived. Annoyed she complains, “That’s why I said I felt strange!” while scratching her head, causing Kyung Joon to catch sight of her ring (the one Yoon Jae bought).
Kyung Joon straight shooter that he is, advises he won’t go to her as he promised, however he won’t be able to stop her if she comes to him, so she has to stop being so over-eager and clingy. The word he uses for her behaviour, ‘ggol ddok’ is unflatteringly blunt, causing Da Ran to look shocked. On cue, a couple walk by, the guy is over-the-top eager, begging and promising the girl he’ll do anything for her. Da Ran: “I was like that?!” She re-imagines the scene outside the theatre with her being overly touchy and flirty, complete with a Star Wars-esque word crawl with the definition of the term “ggol ddok”. Humiliated, she does a weird, no-pride-left, shoulders hunched, lip curled, shuffle over to the waiting Kyung Joon.
Choong Shik discovers a forlorn Mari at the hospital watching coma-Kyung Joon. Mari asks Choong Shik to what degree does someone like another person if they go see a movie they don’t like, just to spend time with that person? Choong Shik responds, if she did that for him, he’d imagine she liked him about 80 percent. “That high?”- Mari unhappy with the answer, says that only leaves 20 for her… Choong Shik looks at the sleeping Kyung Joon and wonders if not him, who is causing her to wonder about these things?
Meanwhile, Se Young is still coming to terms with what she overheard- was Kyung Joon abandoned by his mother (YJ’s mother)? She goes to meet YJ’s mother as planned, giving her an update on Kyung Joon, and spies a hairbrush with strands of hair still attached. Woot, DNA test time!
Kyung Joon has brought Da Ran to eat at his aunt and uncle’s restaurant, where he continues to tease her about her overly clingy behaviour. He also mentions YJ’s mother told him Yoon Jae had been searching for someone, does she know about it? Unsurprisingly Da Ran knows nothing.
KJ’s uncle drops by the table fishing for information- by any chance was he sent by Kyung Joon’s father? Kyung Joon is taken aback- does his uncle know Kyung Joon’s father?
Cut to YJ’s father gazing at Yoon Jae’s graduation photo, behind which he’s hidden a photo of… Kyung Joon’s mother. Okay, so the surrogate they used for Yoon Jae’s donor brother was someone YJ’s father was in the love with?! Because that’s not messed up or anything (more messed up anyway).
Back at the restaurant, KJ’s uncle has made himself comfortable at the table, spilling everything he knows about KJ’s father, which is not much since he only met the man once. Hee Soo (Kyung Joon’s mother) called him “Teacher” (a title that is used in a variety of situations), but didn’t elaborate on his profession. KJ’s aunt pulls away her overly chatty husband, who declares Kyung Joon and Da Ran good people. Hee. Okay, this was maybe the only scene so far these two haven’t driven me crazy with their complete uselessness. Maybe they should be given juicy information to spill more often.
On the way home Da Ran examines the picture in Kyung Joon’s wallet, all Kyung Joon knows is that he father drew it. The picture rings a bell for Da Ran, but she’s unable to place where she’s seen it (she saw the Miracle book when she discovered Yoon Jae’s plane ticket to America- yeah, I wouldn’t be able to remember either). Kyung Joon dismisses that however, since it’s the only copy in the world- it’s not like his father went around leaving that picture for sons he left behind. Um… it’s exactly that. Put it that way, it’s really depressing.
Da Ran grabs hold of Kyung Joon’s hand, trying to be supportive but Kyung Joon teases he won’t be able to control the car, making Da Ran drop his hand, protesting “that wasn’t being clingy!” KJ: “Ah, so you admit you were being clingy before?” Haha, he’s so loving this. Da Ran bangs her head on the window, begging for a reprieve. I love how she’s embarrassed, but not so embarrassed she doesn’t it play it all out in front of him.
Kyung Joon commiserates- she didn’t get to enjoy the movie, or dinner, and this her last day off, doesn’t she want to do something? Cut to them in a gift shop, trying to find items ‘made in China’ she can gift her co-workers. Kyung Joon suggests they colour in toy bears to make them look like pandas, causing them to bicker about which parts of a panda is black. They propose a competition- whoever gets the panda markings correct gets to live just like a panda: eating and sleeping and doing nothing else.
They go at their bears with black textas, with Da Ran constantly sneaking glances at Kyung Joon’s work, wanting re-assurance- “just show me your tail!” haha. Eventually they finish and reveal their panda’s to each other- Kyung Joon laughs at Da Ran’s efforts, “Gil Teacher! Panda’s don’t wear black panties!” They check their work against pictures on the internet… “Kang Panda, Win!!”
Kyung Joon immediately claims his prize, leaning back and insisting she massage his back, get him water, and does the bare minimum to help her finish her task… which amounts to holding a stapler and making a big show about how hard it is. The camera pulls back to show they’ve hung their competition pandas in the kitchen, facing each other. Aww.
The next morning Choong Shik tries to dissuade a determined Mari from visiting Kyung Joon and Da Ran, explaining how one shouldn’t come storming into the home of newlyweds in the morning. They witness Da Ran and Kyung Joon arguing in the kitchen- Da Ran is trying to get Kyung Joon to eat the beans in his rice. She got up extra early to cook them separately, so, she threatens, he better eat them! Mari is pleased to no end about the fight, but Choong Shik is disturbed to note she knows his brother in law doesn’t like beans.
Alone in the kitchen, Kyung Joon gulps down his beans with a glass of water, screwing up his face in displeasure. Choong Shik is pleased at his devotion, but Mari looks devastated- how much would you like someone to force down beans you hate? CS: “About, 90 percent?” Choong Shik tries to turn it into a moment- “for you, I’d eat the radish I’d die before I’d eat!” but Mari isn’t paying attention, “Then, there’s only 10 percent left for me…” Choong Shik puts two and two together: does Mari like their Doctor Seo?
Da Ran drops by to see her mother who passes on a gift for Da Ran’s mother-in-law. Tellingly Da Ran refers to YJ’s mother as Yoon-Jae-ssi’s mother, instead of ‘sshi-omoni’ (mother-in-law).
Okay, meddling time: amusingly, Da Ran mistakes Mari’s question about 90 percent being a high mark, as a mark Mari received on a test, causing Da Ran to encourage her- if she tries a bit harder she can probably get 100!, depressing Mari further. Mari however, is a girl who knows what she wants, and she goes about repeating virtually in point-form, the way she thinks things should be. To Da Ran: you don’t want Kyung Joon around, -you want Yoon Jae to come back, -you must tell Kyung Joon off so he doesn’t become accustomed to being Yoon Jae! It must be nice to be so single minded.
Da Ran stares at her ring, obviously conflicted but trying to do the right thing- Kyung Joon returning is the right thing to happen, she tells herself.
She arrives home to find Kyung Joon staring at the picture in his wallet, and she wonders if his father didn’t leave it behind as a means for Kyung Joon to find him? Kyung Joon seems moved by the idea, but he talks himself out of even wanting to find his father.
Se Young at the hospital, gets back the DNA results she had previously asked a friend to complete for YJ’s mother and Kyung Joon: it’s a match. She wonders if she should tell Yoon Jae.
Meanwhile, Kyung Joon and Da Ran discuss YJ’s father- in the entire year he was in the States, he didn’t see YJ’s father once. As far as he can tell, Yoon Jae only meets his father once a year, on the 24th of June, the same date as Yoon Jae’s pin number. They wonder at the significance of the date, and Kyung Joon tries to prompt Da Ran to remember why else that date is significant, hoping she’ll remember it’s his birthday. She doesn’t.
He goes to his room annoyed, griping all the way about her bad memory- how is she even a teacher with a brain like that?! Da Ran tries to remember, but she only manages to recall she has to write a piece for the Vice Principal by that date, about why she wants to be a teacher. She pulls out a journal which contains an article written by Yoon Jae, about why he wanted to become a doctor to use as reference.
The piece essentially: Yoon Jae decided to become a doctor at the age of 18, because that’s the age he discovered he was saved by someone extending a ‘warm hand’. He decided he too, wanted to become a person who could hold the hands of others, that if he put his sincerity into those hands, he trusted the gift he received could live and be passed on. He often wonders, If he met his 18 yr old self, would he consider that he’s doing well, would he consider his hands warm?
Kyung Joon, reading the article instantly examines his own hands, but seems unmoved by the sentiment. He suggests Da Ran could easily replace ‘Doctor’ with ‘Teacher’, and Da Ran scarily, agrees. Um… Da Ran asks Kyung Joon what he wants to become, but he keeps turning the question back on her- what does she think he should do? Eventually he leaves, telling her to think about his future, in particular, his immediate future, say June 24th. Da Ran finally gets all the hints and realises it’s his birthday.
Se Young is at the hospital, pumping KJ’s aunt for information- she finds out Kyung Joon was born on June 24th and his mother was most definitely pregnant. Looking at the DNA test results, YJ’s mother is his biological mother, so she surmises, Kyung Joon was born via surrogate? Cut to YJ’s mother in the weirdest green blouse I’ve ever seen, those puff sleeves are crazy. Anyway, she’s doing a lot of pensive staring.
KJ’s uncle and the Vice Principal are back at the dumpling restaurant, sitting at tables side by side, doing their unrequited love thing together. Seriously, is this narrative ever going to have a point? Why are there so many threads that have nothing to do with the A plot, but are also totally uninteresting in every way? What’s wrong with structural harmony and stories that converge, writers? I’m aware we’re supposed to find this amusing, and maybe this is just me, but these pratfalls feel so empty to me. Perhaps because it feels like they’re occurring in some weird drama vacuum.
Da Ran back at school asks Aekyung for advice on what to get a 19 yr old kid, but Aekyung’s no help- it’s not like it’s for her partner, just get him whatever! Da Ran is insistent however, it has to be a special gift, something to kickstart his future. Mari manages to grab Da Ran as Aekyung leaves- apparently she’s heard from Kyung Joon about his father.
Mari’s grand plan is to find Kyung Joon’s father so Da Ran doesn’t have to look after Kyung Joon anymore- isn’t that what Da Ran wants after all? Da Ran for the first time, tries to assert she’s okay with it, she doesn’t dislike being next to Kyung Joon at all! Mari points out however, it’s not something Da Ran can do it forever, and she promises she’ll definitely find KJ’s dad.
Mari, on a mission, tackles Kyung Joon next- being in Yoon Jae’s body is the perfect means of trying to get deets on his father. Kyung Joon isn’t one with this plan, but Mari enacting her right as a second lead, shoots a poisoned arrow: Da Ran must feel burdened with the task of looking after him. Kyung Joon goes to his thinking place, the children’s ward and wonders if Mari is right.
Later, Da Ran is cleaning the house while Kyung Joon is panda-ing it up. He keeps close watch on her, wondering if he’s being a burden. Da Ran meanwhile is also stealing glances at Kyung Joon, worried she now only sees Kyung Joon, not Yoon Jae. Awww. Their gazes lock… and Da Ran blurts that the house is so big it’s a burden to clean. Whoops. The word prompts Kyung Joon is jump up and take the mop out of her hand, insisting he’ll clean the house while she rests- Kang Panda will clean, so Gil Panda can lie down. He’ll mop and clean and cook, and even mow the lawn!
Da Ran, shooed up to her room, sadly notes Kyung Joon doesn’t need her. NOOOO! She tries to tell herself she can’t be a part of Kyung Joon’s future, that it would be unfair on him. Instead, she should hold onto her memories of Yoon Jae… what did they do on his last birthday? She remembers she organised a tandem bike date for the two of them, at first she waited for him on a park bench… and waited and waited. He never showed. Honey, this is not a memory that is going to help you pick Yoon Jae over Kyung Joon. She tells herself she just has to remember the Da Ran that waited, and learn to wait longer. Uh, I’m starting to see how you ended up marrying the shell of a man who you’re not even sure loves you.
Da Ran takes her bike out to re-enact the tandem bike non-date, looking for the bench she waited on for hours, the bench she drew a bunch of love hearts on. As she leaves the house, Kyung Joon assures her again, he’ll cook and clean and do the laundry, so she can just go find the things she’s looking for and not to feel burdened. Aww, kid you’re just making it worse. He drops the mop, depressed, as soon as she walks out.
Later however, he’s congratulating himself at being good at everything even cleaning, but then he becomes paranoid that the house is too burdensomely clean. Haha. He goes back on forth, Gil Teacher has to see this, so she won’t feel burdened. On cue, Mari arrives and Kyung Joon yells for her not to move and ruin his good work…. she ignores him. She has news: she found one of his father’s (and Hee Soo’s) old professors.
At the same time, Kyung Joon’s father has re-entered the country and the first thing he does is go see said professor, who reveals Yoon Jae also came to visit him a while back, asking after Hee Soo and Hee Soo’s son. The professor asks if Yoon Jae tracked down the son, but YJ’s father admits, no he hasn’t.
Mari is trying to impress upon KJ the importance of him finding his father, but Kyung Joon holds steadfast- his father is not someone he needs in his future. Mari tries to fish, who does he need then? But Kyung Joon maintains, he’ll be fine alone. No kid, that’s lonely! Mari predictably says she can be the person he needs in his future, and then sneakily ignores his instructions to leave by feigning a head ache. She goes up to the creepy room she created and moves more of her stuff in- “If I move my things in, and use the room like it’s mine… then it’s pretty much my room!” Then she lets out the funniest laugh, a deep “ha ha ha”. Okay that laugh really got me, it was cute.
Da Ran at the park is still looking unsuccessfully for her special waiting bench. To help herself find it, she sits down and puts her hand to her heart, trying to get back the feeling she had waiting for Yoon Jae, but she’s perplexed to find it doesn’t feel the same. At that moment, Kyung Joon calls- he’s at the park too, he came to find to her, where is she? Da Ran gives him instructions, and as she waits, her heart starts beating faster, she begins to feel the way she felt waiting for someone she liked: “Why am I like this? The person I’m waiting for is Kyung Joon.” She sees Kyung Joon from afar and flees, telling herself she must be crazy.
Kyung Joon arrives at the spot Da Ran was waiting, calling her when he can’t see her. Da Ran not hiding particularly well behind a tree, lies rather lamely “I’m not here.” Kyung Joon sees her and her pink bike behind the tree, but before he can move, she tells him he’s not the person she should be waiting for, so he shouldn’t look for her. She doesn’t think she can look at him right now. Poor Kyung Joon turns and leaves.
Da Ran watches him leave, tears beginning to fall: “Kyung Joon-ah, just leave. I’m waiting right now, you have to go.”
KJ’s father is still with the professor who flicks through the Miracle book and guesses correctly that the story is about his two sons, Seo Yoon Jae and the son Hee Soo had.
Cut to Kyung Joon at home, he starts to feel dizzy, and slumps on the ground, while coma-Kyung Joon momentarily jerks with life.
Mari runs to coma-Kyung Joon- the nurse saw him move with her own eyes this time.
It’s nightfall, and Da Ran is still at the park, but she’s finally found her park bench. Now all the hearts she drew are surrounded by other people’s annotations, but she gladly strokes the bench. Da Ran sits down, her hand on her heart, her eyes closed, trying to capture that feeling, but again she feels nothing. Her phone rings- it’s Mari with the news coma-Kyung Joon’s body moved. Is Kyung Joon ok, have they maybe swapped back?
Da Ran, panicked, wonders does this mean Kyung Joon is leaving? GAH, NO! She runs home (! what happened to the bike?!) , to find Kyung Joon collapsed on the couch, the phone on the floor. She calls, “Kyung Joon-ah! Kang Kyung Joon!”, and he slowly opens his eyes… and responds after an almost interminable silence “Gil Teacher… it’s me”. Da Ran slumps in relief, her tears flowing freely now.
Kyung Joon assumes her tears are because he didn’t swap back, and he apologises. Gah, my heart. Da Ran’s tears turn to sobs, her whole body shaking. Kyung Joon watches her, his own tears starting to fall.
Later, Kyung Joon is on the phone with Mari taking stock- his body at the hospital remains in the same state, but he himself is still in pain. This time it really hurt. Mari asks after Da Ran, and Kyung Joon reports she must have been really disappointed, because she cried a lot and went up to her room without speaking a word. Ah, kid that’s not what that was.
Da Ran in her room, is still crying, with Kyung Joon listening to her sob outside her door. He prays “Seo Yoon Jae, hurry and return.” HIS FACE. Gong Yoo’s face is killing me with the dads.
The next day Da Ran calls into work sick, lying in bed listlessly. Kyung Joon enters her room and sits on her bed, tentatively asking if she needs to go the hospital. He wonders, was she really that disappointed? She doesn’t answer immediately, turning her body away first- finally she replies, she’s just disappointed in herself, which doesn’t reassure him at all.
Kyung Joon estimates this time he returned to his body for at least 30 seconds, he’s sure they’ll swap back soon, she should stop being disappointed. God, my heart can’t take much more of this. Da Ran questions however, if he completely goes back, will she be able to let him go?
Kyung Joon hears her words differently from what she intends however, asking, “Am I that much of a burden?” He waits, his eyes red, swallowing nervously, but she doesn’t respond. He leaves to get her medicine.
Se Young gives another update on Kyung Joon to YJ’s mother, and then surprisingly cuts to the chase: Kyung Joon is her son isn’t he? Okay, it’s hard to hate Se Young when she’s being so useful and straight with everyone. YJ’s mother confirms what we’ve already gathered: when Yoon Jae was twelve he was really ill and needed a sibling to help him live. So they had Hee Soo, a woman YJ’s father loved, have a child for them, because she herself was unable to. Hmm, just like that huh? Simplest re-telling of the weirdest birthing of a donor child, ever. Kyung Joon was born solely to save Yoon Jae, so she can’t think of Kyung Joon as her son. Those are not mutually exclusive things lady.
Se Young, back at the hospital watches over Kyung Joon, wondering, what if Kyung Joon never wakes up, if he just dies like this? Before the drama started I thought we were going to get some Freaky Friday hijinks at some point, but it’s becoming a scary possibility that Kyung Joon or Yoon Jae are going to die, perhaps without ever getting the chance to properly know each other. If Yoon Jae dies in Kyung Joon’s body, it would be terrible in the sense no one will properly mourn him, but if Kyung Joon dies in any form… I’m gonna cut a bitch.
The professor is reading the Miracle book aloud (the book is in English, but he narrates in Korean?), and his narration is intercut with Se Young informing YJ’s mother, Yoon Jae was the one who saved Kyung Joon in the accident. Se Young asks, shouldn’t they let Yoon Jae know who he saved? YJ’s mother commands her not to get involved, she doesn’t want the two of them to meet- she wasn’t planning on seeing Kyung Joon ever again. Lady, you are the worst.
Kyung Joon returns with medicine, but Da Ran is no longer home. He discovers her sitting on her waiting bench- she claims she’s okay now, is he okay too? “I’m okay now, but if I go back, I guess it will hurt more?” Da Ran sighs, returning to to their respective places, it’s probably going to hurt a lot.
Kyung Joon earnestly tells her she doesn’t have to worry about him, when he returns he won’t ever bother her again, he’ll disappear so she won’t ever have to see him. Yo, this is what happens when you try to guess what the other person wants in a drama- you break my heart.
Ordinarily, my entry point for a K drama, is an interesting, strong, female character. If I don’t get one I slowly lose my mind and most times give up watching. Lee Minjung has kept Da Ran sweet and cute enough for me to keep her, but at this point, usually, I’d be throwing things at my screen in frustration. For the most part though, I do find myself liking Da Ran a lot, maybe because the fact she’s a pushover is so obvious- it’s not like the writers are trying to hide it behind a supposedly kick-ass persona.
Even better however, is that episodes 9 & 10 were Da Ran’s, particularly episode 10. They finally gave the audience a chance not only to see where her affections truly lie, but also to sympathise with why Da Ran feels she can’t allow herself to give in to them. At episode 10, these were necessary sign posts and conflicts that had to be lain for the drama to have any real emotional resonance.
They were also instantly fruitful, infusing episode 10 (as weird as it sounds) with a lovely angst. Da Ran’s desperate search for her waiting bench for instance, would probably have irritated me in a previous episode, but here, it was appropriate. As a gesture, it’s really very sad, more so since her search for the bench is supposed to help her get back on track.
A life of waiting for a man you’re not sure loves you, isn’t a life she should be aspiring to, but at the moment, her feelings for Kyung Joon, which she feels are inherently wrong, are warping her desires. Here, she deliberately, obtusely remembers her waiting as the defining source of her happiness, when in fact it was her hope for a future where she would no longer be waiting that gave her the enthusiasm and strength to wait. In the past, her waiting was evidence she was capable of dreaming of a far more optimistically romantic outcome, but now she’s simply searching for the way things were, for the sign without its significance, even if that means she’s forever waiting.