Growing up, I’ve always had a calendar of paintings by Impressionist painters hanging on my bedroom wall every year. After staring at different paintings month after month, and year after year, I learned to differentiate the distinctive styles of the various artists.
One thing that I observe about Director Pyo Min Soo is that he makes great use of color in his dramas. In fact, so much so that I think I can characterize each of his dramas by a specific Impressionist painter. For example, his drama Foolish Love brings to mind the dark palette used in the earlier paintings by Degas. Full House reminds me of the vivid colors in Cézanne’s paintings. And You’ve Fallen for Me?
As I watched the first two episodes of You’ve Fallen for Me, I thought of a translucent watercolor painting of a sandy beach. Light and breezy. Not knowing much about film making, I’m uncertain as to who should be credited for this. Are the stylists purposely dressing the cast in certain colors? Are they using a certain camera setting to give that effect? Should the lighting director be credited for it? Either way, I find the color palette used in this drama very appealing.
EPISODE 2: “That Alone is My World”
Continuing the trend of having the titles named after a famous rock song, Episode 2 is titled “그것만이 내 세상” (roughly translated to “That Alone is My World”).
(“You’ve Fallen for Me” is the title of a song by the punk rock band, No Brain. The title for the first episode, “A Chance Encounter With You,” is a song by Peregrine Falcon (송골매). Originally a 1985 hit song by Wild Chrysanthemum (들국화), “That Alone is My World” has been covered by many artists since, including YB, Park Hyo Shin, Maya, and DBSK’s Hero Jaejoong.
Kyu-won tells Shin that she doesn’t care to know why everyone goes crazy over a rude jerk like him.
Shin: And I heard your music too. (Hitting himself at his chest) Here! You weren’t able to move me here one bit either.
Kyu-won: Do you know anything about gukak (traditional Korean music)? Do you even know what a soul is?
Shin: (snickers) Do I need to know?
Kyu-won: Don’t speak so carelessly when you don’t know anything! It’s a million times better than your loud music!
Shin: Is that so? Should we make a bet?
Indeed, they both agree to make a bet and that the loser would have to serve as the victor’s servant for a month.
Once Shin leaves the room, Kyu-won gathers her friends and tells them about the bet. Hilariously, her friend, Bo-woon, says she wants to lose so that she can have the chance to be near Shin as his servant. But anyway, wouldn’t they be at a disadvantage, for once Shin starts singing, everyone would be completely head over heels for him? Kyu-won explains that singing is prohibited, and the competition will be based strictly on instrumental.
Unfortunately, a loud-mouth, fellow traditional music major overhears their conversation, and before they can do anything about it, the news of the battle between the applied music majors (Shin’s The Stupid) and the traditional music majors (Kyu-won’s Windflowers) spreads likes wildfire. At first, Kyu-won tries to downplay the battle, saying that it is just for fun. But when her fellow traditional music major classmates say their pride is on the line, and moreover, that she must win for their late professor’s sake, Kyu-won announces with determination in her face that the Windflowers will win no matter what!
Once alone, however, Kyu-won shows how truly downtrodden she feels about her current predicament. Walking with her head down, she accidentally runs into Suk-hyun. He hands her the scroll that she lost the other night.
Kyu-won: I thought I had lost it.
Suk-hyun: It’s not that you thought it. You HAD lost it, and I found it for you. You should feel grateful.
Kyu-won: Yes. Thanks for everything, including at the hospital that night.
Suk-hyun: You’re thankful, right? I’m really a very busy person, you know! Do you know about Broadway, by any chance? I’ve been there.
Kyu-won: I’m suddenly reminded of someone.
Kyu-won: There is such a person. The prince of showing off.
And on cue, the scene switches over to Shin as he announces to his bandmates about the upcoming battle. They are surprised that Shin, someone who never seems to have any care in this world, would agree to such a battle. One of his bandmates asks whether it is with “that girl who sang at the Coffee House,” and so Shin learns for the first time that Kyu-won sang in his place that night.
Hee-joo comes by the band’s practice studio looking for Shin, and instead, runs into Joon-hee. Like Kyu-won’s friends in episode 1, she doesn’t recognize Joon-hee as the band’s drummer when dressed in his everyday wear, and refuses to believe him when he tells her that he is indeed the one.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Kyu-won still keeps in contact with her dad. She keeps him updated about her battle with The Stupid over the phone.
Dad: Is that punk really that good looking?
Kyu-won: (looking disgusted) Well… he is a little pretty, like a girl. I told you, right? He’s totally full of himself. I don’t understand what girls like about him to be chasing him around.
Right after she gets off the phone with her dad, Bo-woon calls Kyu-won and tells her that the news of the battle has grown out of control as other students started posting signs and banners to cheer on their respective department.
With one month of slavery and their pride on the line, Kyu-won and Shin work their bands to death, practicing a number of different repertoires until they can find the right one. I love how similar those two are, especially when showing their scenes back to back.
Upon learning that Yoon-soo will be in charge of the dance choreography for the 100th year anniversary show that he’ll be directing, Suk-hyun comes to find her dancing in the dark studio, just as she falls. Yoon-soo hears someone come in, and assumes it’s Shin again.
Suk-hyun: Were you expecting someone?
Yoon-soo: What are you doing here at this hour?
Suk-hyun: It seems you fell. Is your leg okay?
Yoon-soo: It’s fine. You don’t need to worry.
Suk-hyun: I hear you’ll be in charge of the choreography for the 100th year anniversary show. I might be directing it.
Suk-hyun: Don’t do it. Your skills aren’t up to par for you to be in charge of the choreography. Just because you’re a good dancer doesn’t make you a good choreographer.
Yoon-soo: You haven’t seen it either.
Suk-hyun: I don’t need to see it to know it, seeing how you practice in the dark to avoid others’ eyes. I understand your need to prove yourself, but you should quit now unless you want to be pitied.
You can tell that hurts her, and she tells him to pity her as much as he wants. He bursts out shouting, “How am I supposed to do a show with you?!” She replies, “As someone being pitied, should I have to concern myself with that too?”
He grabs her wrist as she turns to leave and calls her a bastard. (Note: He actually calls her 나쁜 (nabbeun=bad) 새끼 (saeki=offspring of an animal). It’s actually an insult used generally on males, so his word choice jumped out at me and sounded… strange. The more conventional insult to be used on a woman is 나쁜 년 (nabbeun nyun) or 나쁜 기집애 (nabbeun gijibae).)
Just as Suk-hyun leaves, Shin arrives. His smile upon seeing Yoon-soo disappears as he sees her fall to the ground and cry.
Kyu-won makes the mistake of telling her grandfather about the battle, and how this kid looked down on gukak and told her he couldn’t feel soul in the music. Hilariously, when she tells him that the loser would have to serve as the victor’s servant for a month, he expresses anger that someone would dare to use his own servant as their own. This won’t do! The grandpa announces it’s war, and he makes Kyu-won practice all day and all night.
Suk-hyun tells Tae-joon that he’ll accept the offer of directing the school show, but he’ll start everything all over again. He explains that what they currently have planned is “no fun, no fun at all” and the story is too lacking. Heh. When Suk-hyun announces that he also intends to hold an audition, Tae-joon insists that they at least cast Hee-joo because she’s the daughter of the school board chairman.
Speaking of which, it appears that Hee-joo has symptoms of bulimia. While vomiting in the restroom, she overhears the other dancers talking about how the change of the director means Hee-joo might no longer get the leading role in the upcoming show after all. (I’ll say!) She eavesdrop on the conversation between Suk-hyun and Tae-joon in their office, and hears Suk-hyun show interest in Kyu-won and the battle.
As they get ready for the battle, Joon-hee tells his bandmates that the gukak professor died of cancer on the night of the Coffee House. Shin remembers how Kyu-won told him she doesn’t need the money, and now knows why.
It’s battle time! Many folks, including Suk-hyun, Tae-joon, Yoon-soo, and Hee-joo, all gather to watch the battle. The two bands march for their duel, each wielding their weapon (I mean, instrument) of choice. Our two leads come face to face.
Kyu-won: Did you prepare much?
Shin: (mumbling) I’m sorry about last time.
Kyu-won: What’s this? Are you suddenly afraid you’ll lose?
Shin: (his face turning sour) What? (snickers) I can take you down on any given day.
Kyu-won: Ah, is that so? I’m looking forward to seeing… how great you are!
Suk-hyun softly cheers on Kyu-won, and Yoon-soo makes note of it.
After a coin toss, it gets decided that The Stupid will go first. Their rock piece gets the crowd going, and the Wildflowers’ members look at them nervously. Before going up on stage, Kyu-won reminds herself that “gukak is the best.” Her grandpa shows up, confirming to her that “of course, gukak is the best” and cheers her on.
The Windflowers plays a piece that starts out very mellow, but as it picks up its beat, it gets the crowd going as well. Even the members of The Stupid look impressed. And then… the string on Kyu-won’s gayageum breaks. It brings the band to a complete halt, and the reaction of those in the crowd ranges from sighs to gasps to ehs.
They end up with a major loss, but just then, Joon-hee comes up to the girls. “Unnis, you guys are awesome. I’ve never heard anything like this before. I think I will totally fall in love with you.” Bo-woon offers to play for him everyday, and when Joon-hee asks her if she’s not hungry, she offers to buy him food.
Looking deflated after her loss, she runs into her grandpa at the bus stop. He tells her that what The Stupid is doing is not even music, and if the string did not break, she would have won. Kyu-won is moved, and seeks to find comfort from her grandpa. But he breaks the serious atmosphere by saying that the kid (Shin) looks so much like him when he was younger. (As in, what a handsome young man your grandpa was, Kyu-won!)
Meanwhile, as Bo-woon watches Joon-hee pour down the food in front of him, she realizes that he reminds her of the kid from the cafeteria earlier. But she quickly shakes off that thought, saying that it’s impossible for this cool-looking guy to be him.
When Joon-hee asks if he can order some more food, Bo-woon finds herself unable to turn him down and instead, offers to buy him as much as he wants. They end up spending more money than she has in her wallet, and they end up calling each of their respective friends for help. Kyu-won arrives first and helps pay for their food, but just then, Shin arrives as well.
Joon-hee offers to take Bo-woon home, leaving behind Kyu-won with Shin. Kyu-won admits defeat, and offers to be used as his servant for a month as promised. Shin also admits that the Windflowers’ performance was good, and had her string not broken, the outcome would have been anyone’s guess.
Kyu-won: Of course… well…
Shin: I’m sorry about last time.
Kyu-won: (looking startled) What?
Shin: About not making it to the [Coffee House] performance as promised. I heard… about your professor.
Kyu-won: If I ask you why you didn’t come, will you tell me?
Shin: My dongseng (gender neutral term for a younger sibling) was sick. And my mom was at work. It doesn’t matter even if you don’t believe me.
Kyu-won: I believe you. I know what happened to the professor was not your fault. It’s just that if I did not do that, I thought I’d…
Shin: It doesn’t matter. After all, I was the one who did not keep the promise. But a promise is a promise, so I’ll freely work you as my servant.
Kyu-won: As you wish.
Shin: Where do you live?
Kyu-won: (waving him off) You don’t have to take me home.
Shin: So I can go the opposite way.
Kyu-won: (pointing to her left) That way.
Shin: Since I have some free time, I can take you home if you wish.
Kyu-won: That’s fine.
Shin: Fine then.
And they go their separate ways, but not before she turns around and looks back at him as he leaves.
Kyu-won’s attempt to avoid Shin at school gets thwarted when he finds her and grabs her phone to exchange their numbers. He needs her number to use her slave services, after all. Heh. But for those girls who are willing to volunteer to be his slave, they look upon this exchange with jealousy.
Meanwhile, Shin’s mom gets a call from someone claiming to be Lee Hyun-soo’s wife. She tells Shin’s mom that due to all his past wrongdoings, he’d never be able to admit it but he dearly misses his only son. Please allow him to see Shin.
She comes to see Shin’s dad at the hospital.
Dad: Like you said I would, it seems I’ll die because of alcohol.
Mom: It was your wish. To die from drinking.
Dad: Does he still play the guitar?
Mom: What does it concern you?
Dad: Music… you should tell him to quit it. It’s lonely.
Mom: I need to get going. Tomorrow’s the deadline. I won’t be able to see you ever again. Goodbye.
The dad tells her he’s sorry as she turns to leave. It’s unclear what the exact relationship was between Shin’s mom and his dad. Were they ever married? Is Shin’s younger sister also the daughter of Shin’s dad? Things look like it might have been complicated, yo!
That night, Kyu-won and Bo-woon are at the bus stop talking about Shin, concerned about how much he’ll try to take advantage of Kyu-won’s servant services. (Hmm, this drama takes place rather frequently at the bus stop, no?) Just then, Shin passes by on the bike with his sister, Jung-hyun. Hilariously, Kyu-won and Bo-woon wonder aloud whether Shin is dating a minor. Seeing Kyu-won, Shin also backtracks on his bike. When his sister asks him if he knows that girl, Shin answers, “Yeah. It’s my slave.”
The siblings are surprised to find their mom at home so early when the deadline is just around the corner.
Mom: Shin, can’t you quit playing the guitar?
Shin: Why do I have to?
Mom: Just because… it’s hard to earn a living from it.
Jung-hyun: Mom, that’s not something the editor-in-chief of a music journal should be saying.
Mom: That’s true.
His mom drops the subject, and goes to her room. Alone, she takes out her old photo albums, and shifts through old photos of herself with Shin’s dad… and Kyu-won’s dad? They’re all decked in the 80s rocker fashion, and look like they were close friends back in the days.
In fact, she still keeps in touch with Kyu-won’s dad. They talk over the phone, and she tells him that Shin’s dad is not doing too well. Kyu-won’s dad advises her to let the father and son meet, at least for Shin’s sake.
The next day, Shin’s mom takes him to the hospital, under the guise of getting a guitar lesson from someone she knew from work. Shin calls Kyu-won to have her attend his class in his place to get him through roll call. And of course, she gets caught red-handed by the professor and is told that she and Shin have to each submit a two page letter of apology.
At the hospital, Shin’s mom says she’ll wait for him in the car lest she distract their lesson. Shin cheerfully walks in, but once at a safe distance from his mom, his smile quickly fades and his face darkens, revealing that he knows much more than he lets on.
Shin finds his dad waiting for him in the hospital room. The dad asks him to play the guitar, and Shin plays a piece that he wrote himself. His dad joins in and plays along with Shin, and the father and son silently play the guitar together with no other words exchanged.
Back at home, Shin reminisces over his meeting with his dad.
Dad: Guitar and me. That’s my entire world. There’s nothing else outside of it. Will you come visit me again?
Shin silently looks on at his dad’s shaking hands, probably a mixed consequence of his nervousness at seeing his son again and the after effect of his many years of alcoholism.
Back in the present, Shin lies in his bed and looks at his own hands.
Bo-woon drags Kyu-won to Catharsis where The Stupid is performing that night, so that she can tell Shin to write his own letter of apology for the professor before they get in any further trouble. She finds Shin singing the song from the hospital earlier, now turned into a song about the feeling of missing someone so dearly.
Kyu-won at first looks indifferently to Shin as he performs, but her face gradually changes and she looks up in surprise.
Hmm, I don’t yet find any of the characters truly compelling nor am I really in love with this drama… yet. But there are clues in some of the quieter scenes, most notably the last ten minutes of this episode in the scene between Shin and his dad, and the scene of Kyu-won watching Shin perform at Catharsis, that gives me hope that this drama will be one with a lot of heart. And in the end, that’s all I really ask for from a youth drama genre.
But as a music geek, I must add this. I see what this drama is trying to do by incorporating classic Korean rock music from the 1980s (often cited as the last golden era of Korean rock) and the time period when the parents of the youths of this drama were youths themselves. I foresee that the drama will have music serve as the bridge between the youths and the adults, and between the traditional and the new. And I applaud this idea and find it fascinating.
That said, I’m slightly disappointed that the drama is not doing much more to truly incorporate the music into its own so that it truly lives and breathes music. For example, the title of this episode was “That Alone is My World.” This ties in with the world that Shin’s dad has lived in all his life where the world existed of just him and his guitar, and also with the battle of the bands where Shin and Kyu-won slowly gets introduced to each other’s world.
This drama uses a lot of background music (perhaps it can be argued that it overdoes it) in its scenes. Instead of this frivolous background music, I watched this entire episode waiting to see how the song that was the “theme” of this episode would get incorporated into the drama, only to be disappointed that it did not get used once. As a music-themed drama, I would like to see the drama continue to use music that truly has meaning for the storytelling (for example, I love how Shin’s song at the end has its own “story”) so that the drama tells its story not only through the dialogues, but through its music as well. Or am I just asking for too much?