Coffee House: Pages 3-4 Review

AISH!! I am so confused!

In a good way, of course. I am really loving this series. The ride is so much more enjoyable that I couldn’t care less about the ending. I don’t know how it is going to end (which is a good thing in my book nowadays) and I don’t know who is going to end up with who (which is also another very good thing). I am still stuck on my notion that my lead characters need to end up with someone, that there must be a romantic angle and a couple I can root for. That is one staple thing I can count on a Korean drama to have, and I cherish it so much. But this drama is throwing me off on a loop – so much so that I can’t figure out what will happen!! And I want to know what will happen!

And again – Kang Ji Hwan really is growing on me.

I’m not going to do episode-by-episode recaps – if you want them, dramabeans is doing an excellent job of that already.

In general, Page 3 showed us more hilarity as Jin Soo pretty much makes a fool out of Seung Yeon for the sake of “research.” He buys her a dress so that he can get her exact measurements, and then buys a suitcase for her to squeeze herself in. She can stop complaining – because he bought her a dress! On Eun Young’s side, she has to deal with the irritating Ji Won, who throws her a surprise birthday party. She rejects him – again – and Jin Soo gives her a “belated” birthday gift by sending Ji Won away – to the countryside. It benefits both really.

Jin Soo is a riot – because he literally squeals with delight to distract Seung Yeon grandmother (from realizing that Seung Yeon is trapped in a suitcase in his room) and he screams with “shock” when he sees Ji Won emerging from a cab full of manure stink. Kang must have a fun time playing this outrageous character who, as Seung Yeon aptly describes, on the precipice between sanity and insanity.

Page 3 also showed us Seung Yeon’s interaction with the cafe manager, Dong Wook. Dong Wook shows that he’s not mute – as Seung Yeon believed – and takes the same bus as her. He finds Seung Yeon kooky because she always talks to him in sign language – and yet helps her carry the suitcase to Jin Soo’s apartment. Seung Yeon finds Dong Wook weirdly quiet. But on Page 4, they have this moment on the bus when both would rather listen to their own mp3’s, but Dong Wook misunderstands her and shares his mp3 with her. It would have been a sweet move, and solidified the pairing in my mind, but their voiceovers relate a misunderstanding that makes the scene subtly funny. It also subverts all the positive interactions they had in Page 3.

Jin Soo and Eun Young even have their moment of “we’re-more-than-just-friends” at the end of the episode when he says that he’ll take her to a picnic as well for her birthday. But it ends there.

Then in Page 4, Jin Soo suffers from writer’s block, and he can’t sleep at night. Seung Yeon is sent home for a week, and eventually word reaches Eun Young. She tells Seung Yeon that she knows the remedy for it, so Seung Yeon doesn’t have to worry. However, the mention of sleeping pills sparks up her overactive imagination, and so she ends up going over to Jin Soo’s place out of concern. Turns out – he does need her help: he wants her to find three people who are keeping him up at night. One is a person strumming his guitar early in the morning, another is someone jump roping, and another is watching porn. All of these people live in their own alleys and rooftops – but that’s not far enough for Jin Soo’s sensitive ears.

She manages to give Jin Soo a half-hour of deep sleep, but he is woken up by the cleaning lady. On her way out, Seung Yeon had tumbled down a flight of stairs and broke her nose (and by the way, that bloody gash on her nose was ghastly make-up). The cleaning lady was worried about Seung Yeon so she notified Jin Soo immediately. Concerned, he rushed out to a phone booth and called his secretary five million times and tried to find her in all the nearest emergency rooms. He was unsuccessful, and a brooding Jin Soo (who shows his worry by searching frantically for the phone in hopes that she’ll call) is what Eun Young finds when she returns home. This is cute because without words, Jin Soo is acting opposite of his habits, and he lets the outside observer come to her own conclusions. He does this a lot with Seung Yeon too, where he presupposes what she’s going to say – and is usually right about it too.

Seung Yeon only discovers Jin Soo’s messages after her phone is fixed, and immediately she tries to go over to his place. Jin Soo and Eun Young are driving around looking for her, and see her; they pick her up and Jin Soo’s just relieved to see her alive. He makes sure he gets her home number, in case he can’t get in contact with her on her cell, and then leaves with Eun Young. He then tells Eun Young that Seung Yeon finally succeeded in one thing – she gave him the sleep he craved and needed. He gave a small, genuine smile, which doesn’t miss Eun Young’s notice.

So Page 3 gave us the possibility of a Seung Yeon and Dong Wook pairing, and Page 4 gave us more evidence of a Seung Yeon and Jin Soo pairing. And Eun Young… is just Eun Young. Previews for next week show us the development of Jin Soo with Eun Young – but I’m surprised that I can’t even pick out the leading couple yet! Usually by the first two episodes I know who will end up with who. I can hope and wish about alternative pairings, but I’ve never been confused. Here – I am just SO CONFUSED. And I LOVE IT. But I also hate it. But I think I love it more.

Out of curiosity – I wonder about the way Jin Soo smiles. We know from the first two episodes that Jin Soo is utterly charming, and his megawatt, toothy smile helps smooth things over. However – I take it that he smiles genuinely when his lips are closed. When he makes Eun Young happy for her birthday (and knows he made her happy), he has that closed-lip smile. When he sees that Seung Yeon is truly becoming a pro, he has that same closed-lip smile. That kind of smile suggests a quiet, introverted nature, and so I’m guessing that Jin Soo is not as crazy or loud as we think. He’s just rarely his true self. He’s either scheming and calculative (with Ji Won); arrogant and annoying (with Eun Young the boss); and deceptive and torturous (with Seung Yeon). He’s only quieter when he does things that actually benefits other people – like with Seung Yeon after her accident or Eun Young for her birthday gift – and so that’s when he gives his closed-lip smile, which is free of the manipulations that comes with his toothy smile.

The reason is, this is a drama that can break all conceptions of a typical k-drama. The alternative choices are just as likely and well founded as the normative one. The alternative here would be Jin Soo and Eun Young, because they’re the friends who may or may not have harbored long crushes in each other. Jin Soo’s life is shaken up by Seung Yeon – and usually the mover-and-the-shaker-girl gets the guy. Not to mention – their last scene in episode 4 shows a parallel action – they’re on the same plane now. They understand each other better and are starting to realize the need for the other. Seung Yeon needs Jin Soo for the money/job, but she’s caring more for him. Jin Soo said that he’s lonelier without her so he’s starting to value her presence. It’s telling that in episode 3, he doesn’t just zip up the suitcase all the way – he worries if she has air to breathe too. It’s a concern that I would not have expected from a boss as torturous as he is.

There’s no real progress on the Eun Young-Jin Soo front. Aside from that picnic – which may or may not happen – the two of them have settled into a comfortable, “just friends” relationship. I like the fact that they’re friends – it proves that a guy and a girl can be “just friends” (which I highly advocate in life in general). I always believe that you should end up with the person who tries to make you a better person (that’s the Jane Austen in me talking after watching and reading Emma that many times). So I’m still on the Jin Soo and Seung Yeon ship – but only shallowly.

Then again – isn’t that old adage true: a boy will forever tease the girl he likes?!

I’m still confused, still wary that my ship will sink, still afraid of the future. But that makes this drama that much more exciting!

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