13 September 2015

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Thoughts on Love and Friendship and Twenty Again

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on September 13, 2015
kakashi: I love this show, I really do. I couldn't be sure it would treat emotionally sensitive issues with the needed tact but it fully does, in a tone that’s both touching and hilarious at times, sometimes at the same time. Oh the feels.
JoAnne: Yes, after the first episode, which I didn't much enjoy - it left me feeling uninterested - I have to agree. This show has heart and warmth and an emotional balance that often seems difficult to find in KDrama.

Our last "Twenty Again" post was on marriage and most of what we observed still holds in my opinion (even though the husband becomes more and more hateful as time progresses because he just does not know how to treat his wife in an acceptable way and he will definitely not learn easily either, cause he is a thoroughly selfish being). But there is another, related topic emerging now that I want to share a few thoughts on: it's on the link between love and friendship.
What really, truly irks me about that man is his condescending, patronizing attitude. Everything about him screams, 'You're too stupid, so don't bother having a thought. I'll lay it all out for you, and you just follow my instructions.' He cloaks it all in concern for her well-being as well as his own but he absolutely does not give a shit about her unless it's for appearance's sake.

Here's a statement: there is no (true) love without friendship and no (true) friendship without love.

We can start arguing over this now, of course, but in the end, it will come down to how we define love and how we define friendship. In my opinion and experience, these two sentiments are very closely interwoven. Sure, you may love somebody you don't even know because of raging hormones and bodily desires but this love will not last very long if it does not get any backup from trust - and ultimately friendship. Sure, you can love your kids just because they're your kids, but if there is not a sense of bonding, a sense of being able to rely on each other, that love will be too one-dimensional (and ultimately sad). In sum, there are all kinds of degrees of love and degrees of friendship (and importantly, some are about sex, but most are not), but without the right mix of feelings, neither can be sustained.
You'll get no argument from me on this. Duh. I fear that we won't disagree on much in this post. Makes for a boring read?
Because of this link, it's just as bad if you're betrayed by a friend as if you're betrayed by your partner. (Well. To a degree - yeah, you're right, it depends how much you have put into the relationship.) Hyun-Suk and No-Ra were really good friends back in High School ... we get to see that in those flashbacks. It's a kind of friendship that's extremely valuable to have because the other gives you something you don't have in your own life. Back then, No-Ra was such a bubbly person, she did not fully realize the value of what they had (and she even temporarily forgot all about it: “I think I’ve forgotten things on purpose all this time” - because remembering hurt.). But Hyun-Suk always knew. He talks about her as his first love to his producer hoobae (I am so grateful she is not made into the classical jealous 2nd lead in this) and he knows that she gave him the courage to become what he is today, despite all the discouragement he got at school. And he saw something in her others did not see as clearly: immense artistic potential.
They do a wonderful job of conveying that kind of deep friendship that can hit you like lightning, sometimes - you meet someone and everything clicks. It's like that pheromone blast of falling in love at first sight, but without the pheromones. Those friendships do sometimes fizzle out like a hot a romance, but if you're lucky, really lucky - they last, because you found an actual soul-mate.
As I mentioned before, her sudden disappearance hurt him at the deepest level because of that special bond. It does not matter that they had no love-affair at that point. It did not matter that there was no lovers' skinship because it was a different, much deeper bond. She was his inspiration for life. He was deeply hurt and disappointed and never had an opportunity to find out what happened because she disappeared so quickly and completely (to the point where she abandoned her own grandma, it seems). That fully explains his initial reaction towards her. It does not excuse him being an ass - but I must say, I fully understand from his perspective.
This is the only real weak spot in the story for me. It works from the perspective of needing him to have a reason to be angry, but come on. These close close friends of hers had no idea she'd met someone, let along gotten pregnant? Leaving for Germany, she was VERY pregnant. You're telling me that in all those months, she never confided to any of her bosom pals that she was seeing someone, sleeping with him, pregnant by him, marrying him, leaving the country? She just abandoned her grandmother outright? They didn't keep in touch? I don't buy it. Don't get me wrong: I believe it happened. I just think it's badly plotted.
I think there will be more on this, later? We haven't seen the grandma story yet. But yes, you're right. It's a bit of a stretch.
To him, her disappearance is a great mystery (and source of hurt) and since he now has her back in his life, he initially attempts to find out what happened. He knows that her husband is at the heart of things (since she disappeared after getting married), but he is under the impression that her actions now are all fuelled by the deep love she feels for her husband. He quickly finds out that No-Ra has changed a lot - but also that No-Ra is neither haughty nor mean, but just overwhelmed and pitiable. When he learns that she is terminally ill, the old friend takes over completely and he forgets about his grievances. It simply does not matter anymore why she disappeared like that.
This is a believeable reaction. He's petty and butthurt, but it's because he cared about her so much. The minute he learns that she's suffering, though, he can let all of it go and simply care about his friend, again. I'm sure he was looking for an excuse, deep down.
Hyun-Suk, the friend, is somebody to go through thick and thin with. There's an element of selflessness in him that's almost saintly (and bears a great risk of him getting hurt deeply). Clearly struggling with his own position and role in life during those high school years he is just there for his friends - whether it's about an exhibitionist, a school performance, or grandma's rice cakes. People may say that he has changed a lot ("he got so cool"), but I don't think he has (well, he got really tall and really sexy, but that's just appearances). Cha the famous producer is, in essence, Cha the slightly insecure genius nerd. The only one that realizes is No-Ra, who tells him on their way back from the club that he didn't get cool, but that "you were cool 20 years ago already, when you were producing".
Yeah, he seemed pretty cool back then, too. Maybe the difference then and now is that while he was always cool and always determined to do things his own way, back then he suffered for it and perhaps felt a bit of worry, and now he's successful enough to know that the negativity won't win.
To me, there's nothing as sexy as a wo/man who knows exactly what they want - and go for it, not caring at all about what others think. I would have fallen in love with high school Cha for sure
All he knows how to offer to this deeply unhappy and unlucky woman at this point is his friendship (without any strings attached) - and man, it's touching to see him gift her with it again. Taking her back to high school physically, reuniting her with the location and their circle of friends is the turning point in this episode. For both of them. It makes her realize that she was happy once, because she had friends. Good friends. It makes her realize that she forced herself to forget about those times because the reality of her married life was quite dreadful. It makes her realize that "Cha" is a great person with a grand heart. And it might make her realize that she is not fully alone - even if she loses her husband (and son).
This whole sequence of the four friends going back to relive their high school days was completely charming, and you raise a good point with her forgetfulness. We can find ourselves in situations where we actually forget that things can be better, because we're so focused on getting through the day. In this way, we conveniently 'forget' that we actually are unhappy. I sincerely hope that as No Ra wakes up, she doesn't just make cosmetic changes focused on staying in that stifling box of a marriage, because nothing they've shown us yet give me any reason to think that they ever should have married in the first place.
Him on the other hand ... he is once again in danger of being deeply hurt. All of this makes him remember the details of what they had and makes him feel that loss again - a pain doubled by knowing that he will lose her for good soon. Adn then, he learns about the truth. What now?

Wherever we go from here, their relationship is built on friendship - and that's the best kind of basis to have. If they become lovers, I will be happy - but I am fully okay with them staying this type of friends too, unless that's going to hurt him. And I do want to see him act like a high schooler in love again (people in love are the same every age they're in, but there's something especially endearing with those teenage loves) - and I demand that they go to that club every week to dance to awesome 90's KPop.
Again, agreed. Whether a romance comes of it or not, the fact that they've reconnected is good. I hope life doesn't get in the way of it again. In fact, I want all four of them to continue with the friendship, now that they've rediscovered each other as a group. 
As for the other couples in this show ... well. The younglings are annoying at best (their acting isn't helping), but there's similar topics at play here. How much of yourself do you have to give up to forge a special bond? The young ones are not friends yet - but it look like they might get there with time and patience. And music to bond over.
Maybe. I think there's hope for Min Soo to be more his mother's son, but the girl... it's not that her demands are unreasonable, but I think she's a little too manipulative, a little too focused on experiences and not enough focused on actual human feeling. She picked him not because she liked him, but because she liked the way he looked. She created that situation at the MT because she wanted to 'win' that guy that was being talked about. And now she has a whole list of things she wants to do (and be seen doing), none of which actually reflect any consideration for the person she has chosen to do them with. I'm not sure I'm going to like her, I guess.
Kim Woo-Chul and his Kim Yi-Jin on the other hand have not an ounce of friendship between them. They’re über-polite with each other, just like the theories would tell them to be (I'm sure she looked it up in her books), but they’re not truly at ease. Woo-Chul is doomed to remain unhappy in his marriage(s) if he does not understand that equality between partners is not reducable to status, interests or intellect. Yep, their alliance is going to be an unhappy one. Oh, the satisfaction!
I dislike Yi Jin quite a bit. She's an idiot, first off. I can't wait to see what happens when life collides with her theories. Secondly, you don't enter into relationships with married men. No matter what they tell you. And if you do, you get what you deserve - so I won't feel sorry for her when it blows up in her face. Woo Chul is a pompous ass who tells himself he's being good to No Ra when he's actually thoughtless and cruel. You cannot reduce everything to logic, but when you do, at least your logic should be correct. He doesn't even know his own wife. What kind of a psychologist is he?
Part of why he reacts so strongly to the discovery of his wife's friendship with producer Cha is that he feels threatened by it - on several levels. He is an intelligent man and he immediately notices how his wife is changing. And he is right to suspect that this is Cha's doing - because it is. Yay for Cha so clearly telling him how much he adores No-Ra! It's the truth and that is why it gets to Woo-Chul. Only, Hyun-Suk is not saying it because he wants to challenge Woo-Chul (he does not know that a divorce is on the table), he is saying it because he wants No-Ra to die happily. He is trying to save her marriage by making Woo-Chul jealous, in his almost stupid selflessness (He is kinda pretending to be interested in Yi-Jin for the same reason).
I love how offended he is by the adultery. How dare anyone cheat on No Ra, who was so amazing a person? His outrage is real.
 
It seems to be working ... sadly. The one thing I definitely don't want is Woo-Chul realizing what he would lose if he let No-Ra go. Well, he can realize it and then realize that it's too late. But please, let No-Ra grow, let her get her lost years back. She is a person full of love. She has now realized that she has friends left and a very special friend that she deliberately forgot about at that. Maybe it's time to start focusing on that friendship - and on giving back some of love that was given to her through it.
Hear, hear! I definitely don't want her back with her husband; they haven't given us any reason to want it. We saw a brief, hormonal moment on a beach. Nothing else. No early days full of love that gradually drifted into this relatively polite wasteland, nothing that we could latch on to and say oh, they did love each other once. So I'm all for No Ra and Hyun Suk, as friends or lovers or both.

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