The Ending of Big and Why it Works

Hong Sisters do one thing that they will sacrifice all else to–events, characters, pacing, conflict. They will sacrifice all those to get the *theme* of the drama to work. I noticed this particularly in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. They did this in YAB and Greatest Love too. They will sacrifice everything to get the theme to work.

This time the theme was maturity. Each character was assigned a part in maturity and they were using the characters to test questions about maturity. Since no one else seemed to get it and the fan rage died down a bit, I’ll spell it out.

Maturity by character:
Da Ran: Sheltered, mature, untested. Indecisive.
Is this mature?
Character arc: If put to the test and put in a difficult position, can she mature? And at what speed? I saw them try to test the character, but the character was stubborn because she couldn’t get out from underneath her over protective family. Every time she was on the verge of making a decision, they swooped in. So it was a big deal when she went against their objections and left.

Her character arc ended on her ability to fight for what she wants, and even taking the harder path to do so, which is why the ending didn’t end with her on the bus. She needed to show the audience she could *follow* through which she hadn’t done before. So the ending was for *her* and *KKJ*. (The not showing the face is another maturity thing– getting to that later.)

In this case, I think the inability to buy it wasn’t due to the writing–I thought some of the acting decisions could have been handled better. Da Ran was a bit too deer in the headlights. If she was played as intelligent, but inexperienced more, I think people would have liked the character more. That’s an acting, not a writing decision. (O.o;; Been on both sides of the fence…)

The Question: How one deals with loneliness, is that a sign of maturity?
Mari’s whole character arc hinged on her ability or inability to deal with feeling alone.
This, too, was illuminated through lines like you can go around her house in the US in 15 minutes by Helicopter. Mari doesn’t give up. Mari’s father always gives her money to do things but isn’t there and only listens to her–but you get a sense of desperation from the character because her *only* family is KKJ. She says so several times. (I’m his only family). But he’s also really her only family too. She also learned boundaries and respect for those boundaries.

When she said “I got the signal to stop” and did… and then accepted Choon Sik, even in a small way, that’s when her character arc ended.

The Teacher Na storyline was a different kind of maturity–the ability to let go and to ability to fight for love. This was a different kind of fight than the KKJ storyline. This was a fight of persistence and realization.

The side story with the Principal, that was more for gags and laughs. Korean Humor style. (Also a Hong Sisters trademark)

Choon Sik’s storyline should be obvious… his storyline ended when he signed Mari’s bag and instead of following her around, fought for her–which is a similar storyline to Da Ran with the difference that he was irresponsible at the beginning, and by the end he’s helping in the restaurant cooking and trying to become a human being by working hard. (See episode 1, schoolyard scene for the large change)

Then you have KKJ…
KKJ’s storyline was his ability to *both* mature, accept responsibility for himself and others (he started out apathetic) and accept and fight for love (For himself). His story stopped at the end of 15 when he said he wanted to *accept responsibility* for someone else and their heart. If he’d gone into amnesia then he wouldn’t have had the time. Granted, this could have been done earlier, but since they were experimenting with smaller events and stronger characters, (and I feel the hand of the director this time who was doing slice of life before this) they opted out of doing it earlier.

So by the end of the first scene of 15, his plot line ended and he realized in order to get Da Ran to fight to be with him, he’d have to make it difficult and wanted to see her fight for it, which is why he gave an instruction manual at the end. KKJ is immature, but he’s pretty good at reading people (Think back to his Uncle) He’s good at manipulating people into what he wants. So he wanted to ensure that Da ran was strong enough to fight for him, which was the banjun in 15, which made the audience feel cheated, but the smaller events made a statement. Sweeping events really don’t make maturity happen. Disasters can break people as much as bolster them. His storyline isn’t a waste because Da Ran’s mission per his instruction was to make him remember their love, thus all of the things he learned inside and outside of their relationship are there at the end of the story. (At the end of 16)

As for not showing his face, I immediately got it though I knew the fan rage was going to be high. Maturity–when you were a kid and dreaming of growing up, did you ever wonder what your adult face would look like? Did you know automatically what was on the other side? The Big movie pulled these questions at the very end, too. I remember that feeling… but then what happens when he grows up? What will he look like then? Will he ever find her? The end of the Hong Sisters drama by not showing his face also pulled the same kinds of questions forward. You don’t know what the other side of maturity looks like. You don’t know what your face looks like–in fact it might never have a finishing point. If you show the face, then it has a finishing point and since the center of the drama was KKJ, you need his face to be ever evolving. (Thus how they sacrificed everything for the theme of the drama). I also think the blocking on this was a directing decision too. ’cause story boards are the job of the director as well. (I watch a ton of BTS…)

Maturity is slow. It is painful. It does take experience. It does take persistence. it does take the willingness to fight. It does take knowing yourself, taking on responsibility, being able to accept and give love. You will feel loneliness. It is different for everyone and just because you are 35, doesn’t mean you are any more or less mature than an 18 year old. (Which is why the side stories were needed from a writer POV.) It’s not the destination, it’s how you get there that matters. It’s the smaller steps, not the huge sweeping events that usually make people mature. (Stories like huge sweeping events to force characters to mature, but that’s not real life). A semi-open ending makes one think about the journey to get there. Maturity is the same way. Those are the statements made by this drama. If anything, Hong Sisters are blunt about their theming.

So next drama, I expect stronger characters, and they probably will bring back strong events, but probably not as over the top. I also predict that they again, will center the drama on theme alone and sacrifice everything to theme, hell or high water. I also am expecting them to borrow more Japanese conventions like they did this time around, though it was kinda incomplete borrowing… (Their love of foreign media shows up a lot in their dramas through story telling conventions and allusions) Also, they will bend to the director again with their writing, as with Hong Gil Dong.

The side stories were not useless, they did have a function. Not arguing that the execution was 100% on this drama, but they did function towards the larger goal: What is maturity anyway?

And no, I’m not saying that this is their best drama ever… but for what it was, it did finish what it set out to do with an ending that made functional sense towards what the Hong Sisters seemed to want to accomplish.

Ten Steps to Convert People to K-drama Land

People ask this question a lot… how do you convert someone to your religion of K-dramas? Here is a list that’s easy to watch, in such that one doesn’t have to explain Korean culture too much because there are explanations within the drama itself.

1. Sweet 18.
It’s an older drama that doesn’t demand too much thinking, but it really is a good starter drama. It introduces a lot of Korean society and thinking very well.

2. Goong
Doesn’t involve a lot of thinking, but gorgeous sets and though it has makjang, it still introduces to Yoon Eun Hye well and why people fell for her.

3. Jumong and Seodongyo for Three Kingdoms era. The previous two dramas establish what the fork in the road was like, so it’s time to travel back in history.

4. Dong Yi and Dae Jang Geum are the best of Joseon Era. They will teach all the ins and outs of the Joseon era without much effort on your part to explain the significance of things (Like you would with something like Tree with Deep Roots)

5. Shoot forward in time. You need Ajumma dramas. My Name is Kim Samsoon and Dalja’s Spring. (for Nuna category) though I liked Baby-faced Beauty a lot, it’s better after watching the first two before that one so you can appreciate the differences. Also, 9 End 2 Outs for a non-Nuna romance.

6. Makjang (or where my allergy flares up) If you need absolute Makjang and want to get into it. Winter Sonata and I’m Sorry I Love You should be on the list. Though Alone in Love is better overall, it makes the viewer think too much. Also there is a very good reason.

7. Full House… which is mediocre at best (I know I’ll get slammed for this. But seriously, the girl is how many months pregnant and *still* not showing? Can’t afford a basketball?)

8. But if you watch both melos and Full House you can watch My Sassy Girl Chun Hyang and get all the jokes. Which will be a good start to doing a marathon of all Hong Sisters dramas ever. Finish all the Hong Sister dramas because often they were the start of many trend in Korea.

9. I’d also throw in maybe I Need Romance 1 and 2. Or Hyena (which is 18+) Unconventional and adult, but shows that Korea knows what sex is.

10. Now you can throw anything you want at them because they are hooked for life.

The Black Hole known as America

Every person knows that once you go to America you get F*ed up because you know how pretty it is. (Word play on the Korean term for the US, Miguk. Mi also means Beauty/pretty 美) Of course it’s not Britain–that’s the place where characters go for royalty coming back with American accents. And of course it’s not Australia, because that’s where the melodrama people come from. (I’ve watched a lot). No, once you go to America you can’t do things like really call and most people come back smarter, but damaged because their hearts are sooo much colder. Like there is a pit of no communication around well-telephone-lined airports, there are rules about Miguk, too.
1. It’s where you put the criminals of K-dramas. (In Historical Joseon dramas it’s down in Kyeongsang… which is why EVERY gangster must also come from Kyeongsang–they aren’t native to Seoul–no way.)
2. Miguk is a beautiful country with only one university/college (Harvard)–well maybe a few others, but really they don’t count
3. Anyone from this country, has a cold heart–especially adoptees who don’t know how to love. So of course they won’t, you know, communicate with their relatives even if they have Skype. (In Korean terms, not quite human.)
4. They have the best medical care EVER. So that’s where everyone gets their surgery, (Though I think only one hospital ever gets mentioned. John Hopkins… and I’m pretty sure they don’t cover all those kinds of surgery…) be it for health reasons, unless the patient needs Korean native medicine, which is clearly superior to the less painful Chinese version. (Less disgusting, just as bitter, much more painful. Trust me.)
5. It’s where a lot of mothers and fathers mysteriously die. (The Mi in Miguk must be short of “mi-stery”
6. It’s filled with makjang violence. (Also known as the Mi in Miguk must be short for “Mi-sery” “Mi”anhae~) It used to be filled with only white people and discards of the K-drama world, (You know, where you put second leads), but now with a black president, clearly, they need blacks too. (Forget about the other ethnic groups.)
7. The majority of cities are San Fran, LA, and NYC. Boston, which is near Harvard? No–what’s Boston? All super violent, you know.
8. Filled with crazy people who all speak fluent English perfectly with stilted formal dialogue and Australian accents. “Mi”chiseo” 미치서 -crazy

(And yes, I know the Mi in Miguk doesn’t stand for any of those things. =P I read hanja. 미국 mee-gook–short ee sound.)