CHOI TAEK : STILL WATERS RUN DEEP

CHOI TAEK :
STILL WATERS RUN DEEP

By jesse

Choi Taek is a Baduk genius who struggled with everyday activities.

After his mom had passed away, he moved to Ssangmundong with his dad.
Deoksun described him as “a quiet kid”. He started playing Baduk when Sung appa brought him to the Baduk Club. Since then, he immersed himself in the game despite his dad’s strong objections. Later, he quit school to become a professional Baduk player.

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Choi appa: He’s still just a kid. All he knows how to do is play Baduk. He knows nothing about the world.

Sung appa: Geez, you… Baduk incorporates all the principles of life. Do you think Taek doesn’t know that? And he’s one of the best Baduk players ever. In some ways, he might know more about life than we adults do.

Growing up, Taek was surrounded by adults at the Baduk Club. There, he was trained in Baduk etiquette, and he became an expert at concealing his emotions. As a professional Baduk player, he was forced to mature faster than his peers. While his friends had plenty of time to figure out their dreams and ambitions, Taek knew exactly what he wanted to do. He learned to hide his weaknesses from his opponents and lived under tremendous self-inflicted pressure to succeed.

Choi appa: He started Baduk at a young age and was surrounded by adults. He developed a habit of holding in his anger.
He wasn’t that introverted in the beginning. There’s nothing else for me.
I just want him to live like others his age.

Deoksun: It’s just that adults keep it bottled up. They were just busy being adults and they just acted strong due to the pressure that came with their age. Adults feel pain, too…
An adult-like child is just one without complaints. It’s just that they’ve acclimated to the world of adults and they’ve grown used to the illusions around them. An adult-like child is just that, a child.

Though Taek never initiated a conversation about his late mother, he missed her every single day. He merely kept his feelings bottled up inside. At the end of the day, he was still a child and his friends understood that. In front of them, he was just a clumsy and innocent boy. There was no need for any disguise or pretense. For this reason, he deeply cherished this friendship among the OT5.

Choi appa: He doesn’t even attend school so the only friends he has are the kids from this block.

As Taek no longer went to school, the OT5 became his only circle of friends.

Taek is admired by fans who consider him a Baduk God, and even has a big fanclub. But despite his Baduk ‘celebrity’ status, he has no airs and his friends never treated him differently. While he knew many people in the Baduk Club, they were not people whom he could confide in. When he lost to a newbie in ep 4, he bottled up his anger and frustration before finally breaking down in front of his childhood friends. 

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They were always there waiting for him to return from oversea competitions. In return, he gave up his privacy and let them have free access to his room, even when he wasn’t around. Taek’s room became their unofficial base camp – this showed how much he treasured their friendship.

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In order to protect his friendship with Junghwan, he even decided not to confess to Deoksun.
It was a decision that caused him great pain and suffering, so much so that he continued a drug dependency on sleeping pills.

Deoksun: Do I want to go back to that time?

Taek: I don’t want to go back. I like it now. I was so sensitive back then. These days, I think I like sunshine. And I can hear the raindrops. I like it better now. But if we were to go back, there’s one thing I’d want to do.

Deoksun: What?

Taek: Spend all night in my room, with the gang. Play Blue Marble, make ramen, watch movies. Unless it’s to hang out with the guys, I don’t want to go back.

Many Asian parents find it harder to express love to their children, compared to their western counterparts. This was particularly true for Choi appa, who was repeatedly described as a “bear” for his lack of emotional response. This explained how much Reporter Park’s Christmas present meant to Taek. It was probably his very first time hearing his dad say those three words.

Reporter Park: Why?
It’s because you two always seem too stoic.
Just say it to me once, as practice!
Say, “I love you” just once. Okay?

Choi appa: Well, I can say that… yeah.

Reporter Park: Exactly! What’s so hard about it? Go ahead and say it. Please?

Choi appa: I love you, son.

Reporter Park: Oh my! You said it so readily, too! One more time.
Just one more time.

Choi appa: I love you, my son.

Reporter Park: See, you’re so good at it! You should say it to him on a regular basis.

Choi appa: I’m not that good at it, but you kept asking me too…

Reporter Park: How nice would it be if you said this to him all the time?

Afterwards, when Taek gave him a pair of pink mittens as his birthday present, Choi appa still couldn’t bring himself to say “I love you”, despite being deeply moved. But while he still found it hard to verbalize his feelings, he clearly expressed his love in other ways.

Sunwoo omma:

I have nothing to say, really. There’s nobody else like you on this planet, Mr. Choi. You make him a warm meal every morning. When it rains, you stand and wait for Taek outside of the Baduk Club. You’ve never even watched TV properly because you were afraid of disturbing him. Taek is aware of all these things, too. He’s such a happy child in the inside because he knows how much his father loves and cherishes him. He’s aware of it all!

Tae Yong:
Moo-sung. Please take care of yourself. Okay?
Don’t just live for Taek’s sake. Live for yourself, too.
You only have one life, and it’ll fly by.

Taek and his dad were always so polite with each other that it seemed somewhat unnatural. Despite their awkward interactions, they loved each other selflessly. Their relationship was one in which they would always place the other person’s interests above their own.

Choi appa: Sun-woo’s mom brought all of these over. All I did was set the table.

Taek: She’s really going out of her way.
Is it okay for us to keep mooching?

Choi appa:
That’s why I always thank her.

Taek: Just with your words?

Choi appa: Um… Taek. Uh… Nothing.
Hurry up and eat. Yeah.

Taek: What did you want to say?
Tell me, Dad.

Choi appa: It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.
I’ll tell you next time. You better eat all of that.

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Even before Choi appa broached the topic, Taek already knew something was going on between him and Sunwoo omma and even teased his dad about it.
Choi appa’s top concern was Taek, and Taek’s priority was his dad.
While he still missed his mom dearly, he chose not to talk about her and focused on his dad’s happiness. Even though his dad failed at his first attempt to bring up the topic, Taek knew to give his dad space and to do it at his own time.

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Choi appa:
I… wish I had a good friend by my side, like the ones that you have. I haven’t decided on anything yet, but… With Sun-woo’s mom… as good friends… as someone to talk to… um… I’d like to spend the remainder of my life with her. But Taek… If you don’t like the idea, I won’t become friends with her. Um… yeah.
What I would hate most would be you feeling uncomfortable. Yeah. Also, this is… well… um… It’s something that I’ve thought about without speaking to anyone. Nothing has been decided yet, or anything like that. It’s just that… I… wanted to talk 
to you about it first to get your permission. That’s why I’m putting this out there. If you’re against this, I won’t do anything. I promise.

Taek: Dad… I want you to have a warm meal, even when I’m not here with you.

It’s your life, Dad. I want you to be happy.
If it will make you happy, then I’m fine with it all.

Contrast this with Deoksun and Dongryong’s relationships with their parents. In ep 1, Deoksun complained about being neglected as the middle child, and in ep 10, Dongryong ran away from home because he felt unloved by his mom. For children at their age, it was only natural for them to focus on their own feelings. Their fathers also focused on their careers – as a bank manager and as the school dean – but Taek’s dad lived his life centered on his son.

Maybe because they only had each other, they learned to look out for each other and focus on the other person’s needs and feelings. This taciturn father and son duo may not express their love as readily as others, but their love for each other was undeniably pure and unconditional.

Ep7:
Choi appa: What’s this?

Taek: A birthday present for you. Happy birthday, Dad.
Open it. It’s your birthday, but I couldn’t have dinner with you.
I’m sorry.
Dad… you know that I love you so much, right?
Dad… What’s wrong?

Choi appa: Oh… When did my son grow up this much? Hmm?
You’re even so considerate of your father. You’ve really grown up, huh?
You’re all grown up now, my son! Geez… my kind and smart son…
I, too… Taek… Oh, geez. I… only have you, Taek.

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Deoksun: How do you know that? Did I tell you, by any chance?

Taek: There’s nothing I don’t know about you.

Like most geniuses, Taek’s mind was highly focused. Unlike Junghwan, who could remember every little detail about trivial things, Taek’s mind only concentrated on the things that mattered to him. He couldn’t remember song titles, and forgot which year the gang went to watch MBC Campus Music Festival together.Despite being able to memorise countless of Baduk games with 200-300 steps each, he can’t seem to remember 4 simple steps of how to work his walkman.

Dongryong: You shouldn’t do that to Taek. You’re the one who did this to his forehead, too.

Deoksun: I did?

Junghwan: Look at her, playing dumb. Were we eight years old? Or nine?

Taek: Nine.

Junghwan: Yeah, nine. You pinned him onto the cement and said you wanted to wrestle!

Deoksun: I did? No way.

Dongryong: Wow, that’s some sass.

Sunwoo: Hey, Taek… didn’t you get four stitches from that? (Taek raises all five fingers.)

But he remembered everything about Deoksun – this revealed how much she mattered to him, ever since they were small kids. In ep 6, when Taek decided to call Deoksun at almost midnight to ask her out for a movie date, it wasn’t a random act of impulse. It was the day of the first snowfall, and he remembered what Deoksun had said to Sunwoo.

Deoksun: Confess.
Sunwoo: What?
Deoksun: I said, confess! Do it on the first day that it snows.
Confess on the day of the first snowfall! Okay?

We didn’t see his reaction after hearing this since he was offscreen, but it was evident that he made a mental note to remember what she said.

TK_Ep6_firstsnow

Deoksun: Hello?

Taek: (Looks up at the snow) It’s me. Taek.

Deoksun: Yeah. Why are you calling so late? Did something happen?

Taek: No. Nothing like that.

Deoksun: Oh. Hurry and go home. Go home and sleep. It’s almost midnight.

Taek: Okay. Duk-seon.

Deoksun: Yeah, what is it?

Taek: Shall we… go see a movie? Let’s go see a movie. The two of us.

Deoksun:
It must be nice to not to be interested in anything except for Baduk.
You’ve never liked someone before, right? You’re only interested in Baduk.

Taek: That’s not true.

Deoksun: Yeah right, don’t lie. Who are you trying to fool?
You’re in the palm of my hand. There’s nothing that I don’t know about you.

Taek: You don’t know anything about me.
There’s someone I like. And… I’m going to confess my feelings to her.

Everyone seemed to assume they knew Taek like the back of their hands. But more often than not, they were wrong.
Mr. Yoo and Mr. Lee from the Baduk Club assumed that Taek wouldn’t agree to being interviewed, but he did, and even offered to treat the crew to a round of drinks afterwards.

Dongryong: Junghwan. I’m sure that I can’t go to college anyway so should I ask Taek to get me a good job somewhere? There’s that company that sponsors him, too. I’m sure I’ll get hired easily if he puts in a good word for me.

Junghwan: He hates asking favors more than anything. He’s the type who wouldn’t even go if the president summoned him. Stop bothering him and study.

Dongryong: How is it that there’s nothing that you don’t know about Taek?

His childhood friends misunderstood him too. As it turned out, Taek was the one who called the hospital chief and asked him to take care of Junghwan’s injured dad. While it was true that he hated doing interviews and asking favors, he understood how society worked. Just as his dad said, “In life, sometimes you become indebted to others or an inconvenience to others. It happens. Everyone lives like that.”

Indeed, Taek’s character was not as simple as it seemed. On the surface, he appeared to require constant help from others.
But if you look beyond these superficial needs, you’d realize that Taek was mature, observant, generous and empathetic toward others.

He never expects anything in return. When Junghwan waited for him to return in order to thank him, he didn’t think much of what he did, and was as grateful to Junghwan for the simple act of helping him tie his shoelaces.

Dongryong: Geez… Taek is so lucky. He’s surrounded by people who love him.

Everyone loves Taek – the Kim parents wanted him as their son, and the Sung parents and Sunwoo omma all wanted him as their son-in-law – and it wasn’t without rhyme or reason.

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Other than the fact that his mother had passed away, which made all the ajummas have a soft spot for him and want to make sure he is always eating well, Taek also possessed a sweet, quiet but caring nature.

He was empathetic toward others:

Taek: Even so, I’ll bet your mother feels sad about it.
Even if it’s a simple surgery.

Junghwan: Who? My mom? We’re talking about Ms. Ra here.

When Jungbong had to undergo a surgery, Taek was the only one who looked beyond Miran’s strong appearance and understood how she truly felt as a mother. Her fellow ajumma BFFs admired her for her calm, and her husband thought she was all fine. Even though Junghwan dismissed his worries, he prepared pineapples and bananas, which were precious fruits at that time, as a gift for Jungbong. Later, Miran eventually broke down and cried out of worry for her son. Despite her tenacious character, she felt guilty and apologetic to her son.

Miran: Jungbong. It’s me, Mom. Your surgery went well! You’ve worked so hard.
I’m so sorry that I couldn’t give birth to you as a healthy child.

He was kind and generous: 

Taek and his dad were the richest people in the neighborhood, but they led simple lives.
Whenever they received a fruit hamper, they would give away all the fruits to everyone in the neighborhood.

Deoksun: Hey. This is a huge issue. How are you going to survive in this cruel, harsh world like this?
The world isn’t such a simple place, you know. You have to be clear when you say “no,” when you need to.
Do you know how many scammers there are out there? You’re a pushover.
A guy like you can get scammed ten times in one day. Don’t laugh!

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Like Sung appa, Taek never hesitated to lend others money.
When Deoksun warned him about being scammed, he merely looked at her and smiled.
Was he gullible? Maybe. But more importantly, he was too kind – he couldn’t bear rejecting people in need.

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He was acutely observant:

Taek understood what Deoksun wanted, even when she pretended to be alright. In ep 15, she was crying at the stairway when he appeared and asked what was wrong. He soon realized she didn’t want to talk about it, and didn’t probe further. Instead, he quietly offered his presence to comfort her.

After Deoksun met the Burberry Man, she was afraid to go to the washroom again. Instead of exposing her fears, he quietly accompanied her and waited outside the washroom for her.
Later, in ep 18, he noticed that Deoksun was inappropriately dressed for the concert and guessed that she was stood up.
He knew that she was shivering in the cold, but Taek didn’t expose her lies and gallantly offered her his jacket.

Deoksun: Hey, I really didn’t get stood up.

Taek: Yeah, I know.

Deoksun: He was supposed to some, but he got into a big accident on the way here.
(Taek puts his jacket over her shoulders.)
I’m not cold.

Taek: I’m hot. Just wear it.

Deoksun: I really didn’t get stood up.

Deoksun: Taek, the one who owns this room, is a genius at playing Baduk.
What is he going to do with that when he’s an idiot when it comes to anything else?

Taek was the most well developed character in the drama. But to understand the depth of his character, we need to look beyond what we see on the surface. Junghwan assumed the school bully was a good person, simply because he didn’t smoke.
But Taek smoked – did that make him a bad person? Of course not!

Like the habit of smoking, Taek’s inability to hold the chopsticks or use a Walkman served as a smokescreen, which distracted the audience from seeing Taek’s true self. Once we looked beyond these superficial character traits, we would begin to appreciate his kindness, generosity, gentle nature and even his unique brand of humor.

Choi Taek is a Baduk genius who struggled with everyday activities.

After his mom had passed away, he moved to Ssangmundong with his dad. Deoksun described him as “a quiet kid”.

He started playing Baduk when Sung appa brought him to the Baduk Club. Since then, he immersed himself in the game despite his dad’s strong objections. Later, he quit school to become a professional Baduk player.

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GROWING UP IN AN ADULT’S WORLD

Choi appa:
He’s still just a kid. All he knows how to do is play Baduk.
He knows nothing about the world.

Sung appa:
Geez, you… Baduk incorporates all the principles of life.
Do you think Taek doesn’t know that?
And he’s one of the best Baduk players ever.
In some ways, he might know more about life than we adults do.

Growing up, Taek was surrounded by adults at the Baduk Club.

There, he was trained in Baduk etiquette, and he became an expert at concealing his emotions. As a professional Baduk player, he was forced to mature faster than his peers. While his friends had plenty of time to figure out their dreams and ambitions, Taek knew exactly what he wanted to do. He learned to hide his weaknesses from his opponents and lived under tremendous self-inflicted pressure to succeed.

Choi appa:


He started Baduk at a young age and was surrounded by adults.

He developed a habit of holding in his anger.

He wasn’t that introverted in the beginning. There’s nothing else for me.

I just want him to live like others his age.

 

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Deoksun:
It’s just that adults keep it bottled up. They were just busy being adults and they just acted strong due to the pressure that came with their age. Adults feel pain, too…
An adult-like child is just one without complaints. It’s just that they’ve acclimated to the world of adults and they’ve grown used to the illusions around them.
An adult-like child is just that, a child.

Though Taek never initiated a conversation about his late mother, he missed her every single day. He merely kept his feelings bottled up inside. At the end of the day, he was still a child and his friends understood that. In front of them, he was just a clumsy and innocent boy. There was no need for any disguise or pretense. For this reason, he deeply cherished this friendship among the OT5.

THEY WERE HIS ONLY FRIENDS

Choi appa: He doesn’t even attend school so the only friends he has are the kids from this block.

Taek is admired by fans who consider him a Baduk God, and even has a big fanclub. But despite his Baduk ‘celebrity’ status, he has no airs and his friends never treated him differently. While he knew many people in the Baduk Club, they were not people whom he could confide in.

When he lost to a newbie in ep 4, he bottled up his anger and frustration before finally breaking down in front of his childhood friends. 

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They were always there waiting for him to return from oversea competitions. In return, he gave up his privacy and let them have free access to his room, even when he wasn’t around. Taek’s room became their unofficial base camp – this showed how much he treasured their friendship.

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In order to protect his friendship with Junghwan, he even decided not to confess to Deoksun.
It was a decision that caused him great pain and suffering, so much so that he continued a drug dependency on sleeping pills.

 

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Deoksun: Do I want to go back to that time?

Taek:
I don’t want to go back. I like it now. I was so sensitive back then.
These days, I think I like sunshine. And I can hear the raindrops.
I like it better now.
But if we were to go back, there’s one thing I’d want to do.

Deoksun: What?

Taek:
Spend all night in my room, with the gang. Play Blue Marble, make ramen, watch movies.
Unless it’s to hang out with the guys, I don’t want to go back.

HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS DAD

Many Asian parents find it harder to express love to their children, compared to their western counterparts. This was particularly true for Choi appa, who was repeatedly described as a “bear” for being a man of few words and his lack of emotional response.
This explained how much Reporter Park’s Christmas present meant to Taek.

It was probably his very first time hearing his dad say those three words ” I love you, son”.

Reporter Park: Why? It’s because you two always seem too stoic.
Just say it to me once, as practice! Say, “I love you” just once. Okay?

Choi appa: Well, I can say that… yeah.

Reporter Park: Exactly! What’s so hard about it? Go ahead and say it. Please?

Choi appa: I love you, son.

Reporter Park: Oh my! You said it so readily, too! One more time. Just one more time.

Choi appa: I love you, my son.

Reporter Park: See, you’re so good at it! You should say it to him on a regular basis.

Choi appa: I’m not that good at it, but you kept asking me too…

Reporter Park: How nice would it be if you said this to him all the time?

 

 

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Afterwards, when Taek gave him a pair of pink mittens as his birthday present, Choi appa still couldn’t bring himself to say “I love you”, despite being deeply moved. But while he still found it hard to verbalize his feelings, he clearly expressed his love in other ways.

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Sunwoo omma: I have nothing to say, really. There’s nobody else like you on this planet, Mr. Choi.
You make him a warm meal every morning. When it rains, you stand and wait for Taek outside of the Baduk Club.
You’ve never even watched TV properly because you were afraid of disturbing him.

Taek is aware of all these things, too. He’s such a happy child in the inside because he knows how much his father loves and cherishes him. He’s aware of it all!

Tae Yong: Moo-sung. Please take care of yourself. Okay?
Don’t just live for Taek’s sake. Live for yourself, too. You only have one life, and it’ll fly by.

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Choi appa: Sun-woo’s mom brought all of these over. All I did was set the table.

Taek: She’s really going out of her way. Is it okay for us to keep mooching?

Choi appa: That’s why I always thank her.

Taek: Just with your words?

Choi appa: Um… Taek. Uh… Nothing. Hurry up and eat. Yeah.

Taek: What did you want to say? Tell me, Dad.

Choi appa: It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you next time. You better eat all of that.

Even before Choi appa broached the topic, Taek already knew something was going on between him and Sunwoo omma and even teased his dad about it.

Choi appa’s top concern was Taek, and Taek’s priority was his dad.
While he still missed his mom dearly, he chose not to talk about her and focused on his dad’s happiness.
Even though his dad failed at his first attempt to broach the topic, Taek knew to give his dad space and to do it at his own time.

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Choi appa:
I… wish I had a good friend by my side, like the ones that you have.
I haven’t decided on anything yet, but… With Sun-woo’s mom… as good friends…
as someone to talk to…um… I’d like to spend the remainder of my life with her.
But Taek… If you don’t like the idea, I won’t become friends with her. Um… yeah.
What I would hate most would be you feeling uncomfortable.
Yeah. Also, this is… well… um… It’s something that I’ve thought about without speaking to anyone.
Nothing has been decided yet, or anything like that. It’s just that… I… wanted to talk to you about it first to get your permission.
That’s why I’m putting this out there.
If you’re against this, I won’t do anything. I promise.

Taek: Dad… I want you to have a warm meal, even when I’m not here with you.
It’s your life, Dad.
I want you to be happy.
If it will make you happy, then I’m fine with it all.

Contrast this with Deoksun and Dongryong’s relationships with their parents. In ep 1, Deoksun complained about being neglected as the middle child, and in ep 10, Dongryong ran away from home because he felt unloved by his mom. For children at their age, it was only natural for them to focus on their own feelings. Their fathers also focused on their careers – as a bank manager and as the school dean – but Taek’s dad lived his life centered on his son.

Maybe because they only had each other, they learned to look out for each other and focus on the other person’s needs and feelings. This taciturn father and son duo may not express their love as readily as others, but their love for each other was undeniably pure and unconditional.

Choi appa: What’s this?

Taek: A birthday present for you. Happy birthday, Dad.
Open it. It’s your birthday, but I couldn’t have dinner with you. I’m sorry.

Dad… you know that I love you so much, right? Dad… What’s wrong?

Choi appa: Oh… When did my son grow up this much? Hmm?
You’re even so considerate of your father. You’ve really grown up, huh? You’re all grown up now, my son!
Geez… my kind and smart son…
I, too… Taek… Oh, geez. I… only have you, Taek.

SELECTIVE MEMORY

Like most geniuses, Taek’s mind was highly focused. Unlike Junghwan, who could remember every little detail about trivial things, Taek’s mind only concentrated on the things that mattered to him. He couldn’t remember song titles, and forgot which year the gang went to watch MBC Campus Music Festival together.Despite being able to memorise countless of Baduk games with 200-300 steps each, he can’t seem to remember 4 simple steps of how to work his walkman.

Dongryong: You shouldn’t do that to Taek. You’re the one who did this to his forehead, too.

Deoksun: I did?

Junghwan: Look at her, playing dumb. Were we eight years old? Or nine?

Taek: Nine.

Junghwan: Yeah, nine. You pinned him onto the cement and said you wanted to wrestle!

Deoksun: I did? No way.

Dongryong: Wow, that’s some sass.

Sunwoo: Hey, Taek… didn’t you get four stitches from that? (Taek raises all five fingers.)

But he remembered everything about Deoksun – this revealed how much she mattered to him, ever since they were small kids.
In ep 6, when Taek decided to call Deoksun at almost midnight to ask her out for a movie date, it wasn’t a random act of impulse. It was the day of the first snowfall, and he remembered what Deoksun had said to Sunwoo.

Deoksun: Confess.
Sunwoo: What?
Deoksun: I said, confess! Do it on the first day that it snows.
Confess on the day of the first snowfall! Okay?

We didn’t see his reaction after hearing this since he was offscreen, but it was evident that he made a mental note to remember what she said.

 

Deoksun: Hello?

Taek: (Looks up at the snow) It’s me. Taek.

Deoksun: Yeah. Why are you calling so late? Did something happen?

Taek: No. Nothing like that.

Deoksun: Oh. Hurry and go home. Go home and sleep. It’s almost midnight.

Taek: Okay. Duk-seon.

Deoksun: Yeah, what is it?

Taek: Shall we… go see a movie? Let’s go see a movie. The two of us.

“YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ME”

Everyone seemed to assume they knew Taek like the back of their hands. But more often than not, they were wrong.
Mr. Yoo and Mr. Lee from the Baduk Club assumed that Taek wouldn’t agree to being interviewed, but he did, and even offered to treat the crew to a round of drinks afterwards.

TK_Ep14

Deoksun:
It must be nice to not to be interested in anything except for Baduk.
You’ve never liked someone before, right?
You’re only interested in Baduk.

Taek: That’s not true.

Deoksun:
Yeah right, don’t lie. Who are you trying to fool?
You’re in the palm of my hand.
There’s nothing that I don’t know about you.

Taek: You don’t know anything about me.
There’s someone I like. And… I’m going to confess my feelings to her.

 

Dongryong: Jung-hwan. I’m sure that I can’t go to college anyway so should I ask Taek to get me a good job somewhere?
There’s that company that sponsors him, too. I’m sure I’ll get hired easily if he puts in a good word for me.

Junghwan: He hates asking favors more than anything. He’s the type who wouldn’t even go if the president summoned him. Stop bothering him and study.

Dongryong: How is it that there’s nothing that you don’t know about Taek?

His childhood friends misunderstood his character too. As it turned out, Taek was the one who called the hospital chief and asked him to take care of Junghwan’s injured dad. While it was true that he hated doing interviews and asking favors, he understood how society worked. Just as his dad said, “In life, sometimes you become indebted to others or an inconvenience to others. It happens. Everyone lives like that.”

Indeed, Taek’s character was not as simple as it seemed. On the surface, he appeared to require constant help from others. But if you look beyond these superficial needs, you’d realize that Taek was mature, observant, generous and empathetic toward others.

He never expects anything in return. When Junghwan waited for him to return in order to thank him, he didn’t think much of what he did, and was as grateful to Junghwan for the simple act of helping him tie his shoelaces.

EVERYONE LOVES TAEKKIE

Dongryong: Geez… Taek is so lucky. He’s surrounded by people who love him.

Everyone loves Taek – the Kim parents wanted him as their son, and the Sung parents and Sunwoo omma all wanted him as their son-in-law – and it wasn’t without rhyme or reason.

Other than the fact that his mother had passed away, which made all the ajummas have a soft spot for him and want to make sure he is always eating well, Taek also possessed a sweet, quiet but caring nature.

He was empathetic toward others:

Taek: Even so, I’ll bet your mother feels sad about it.
Even if it’s a simple surgery.

Junghwan: Who? My mom? We’re talking about Ms. Ra here.

When Jungbong had to undergo a surgery, Taek was the only one who looked beyond Miran’s strong appearance and understood how she truly felt as a mother. Her fellow ajumma BFFs admired her for her calm, and her husband thought she was all fine. Even though Junghwan dismissed his worries, he prepared pineapples and bananas, which were precious fruits at that time, as a gift for Jungbong. Later, Miran eventually broke down and cried out of worry for her son. Despite her tenacious character, she felt guilty and apologetic to her son.

Miran: Jungbong. It’s me, Mom. Your surgery went well! You’ve worked so hard.
I’m so sorry that I couldn’t give birth to you as a healthy child.

He was kind and generous: 

Taek and his dad were the richest people in the neighborhood, but they led simple lives.
Whenever they received a fruit hamper, they would give away all the fruits to everyone in the neighborhood.

Deoksun: Hey. This is a huge issue. How are you going to survive in this cruel, harsh world like this?
The world isn’t such a simple place, you know. You have to be clear when you say “no,” when you need to.
Do you know how many scammers there are out there? You’re a pushover.
A guy like you can get scammed ten times in one day. Don’t laugh!

Like Sung appa, Taek never hesitated to lend others money.
When Deoksun warned him about being scammed, he merely looked at her and smiled.
Was he gullible? Maybe. But more importantly, he was too kind – he couldn’t bear rejecting people in need.

He was acutely observant:

Taek understood what Deoksun wanted, even when she pretended to be alright. In ep 15, she was crying at the stairway when he appeared and asked what was wrong. He soon realized she didn’t want to talk about it, and didn’t probe further. Instead, he quietly offered his presence to comfort her.

TK_Observant

After Deoksun met the Burberry Man, she was afraid to go to the washroom again. Instead of exposing her fears, he quietly accompanied her and waited outside the washroom for her.
Later, in ep 18, he noticed that Deoksun was inappropriately dressed for the concert and guessed that she was stood up.
He knew that she was shivering in the cold, but Taek didn’t expose her lies and gallantly offered her his jacket.

Deoksun: Hey, I really didn’t get stood up.

Taek: Yeah, I know.

Deoksun: He was supposed to some, but he got into a big accident on the way here.
(Taek puts his jacket over her shoulders.)
I’m not cold.

Taek: I’m hot. Just wear it.

Deoksun: I really didn’t get stood up.

LOOKING BEYOND THE SURFACE

Deoksun: Taek, the one who owns this room, is a genius at playing Baduk.
What is he going to do with that when he’s an idiot when it comes to anything else?

Taek was the most well developed character in the drama. But to understand the depth of his character, we need to look beyond what we see on the surface. Junghwan assumed the school bully was a good person, simply because he didn’t smoke.
But Taek smoked – did that make him a bad person? Of course not!

Like the habit of smoking, Taek’s inability to hold the chopsticks or use a Walkman served as a smokescreen, which distracted the audience from seeing Taek’s true self. Once we looked beyond these superficial character traits, we would begin to appreciate his kindness, generosity, gentle nature and even his unique brand of humor.

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