KIM JUNG HWAN : BECOMING A MAN

By jesse

 

Jung Hwan’s character and fate has already been foreshadowed in Ep 1.
Though he wasn’t endgame, his 1988 memories wasn’t hung up only on his failed first love –
the story of Junghwan as the second son of the Kim family and the brother of Jungbong was something cherished by the audience.

WHY DON’T YOU NIKE ?

JH_Nike

He wore Nike sneakers and carried a Nike bag. As an ardent Nike fan, he should’ve gotten the writer’s message for him: Just do it!

Hesitancy was his main character weakness.

It was so frustrating to watch him sit on his bed, brooding over what he should do, but doing nothing anyway.

As a matter of fact, his character had already been established in ep 1, when Dong Ryong was escorted down Brazil Deokbokki’s back alley by two thugs.

Jung Hwan: There’s two of them and two of us. It’s worth a shot. If he takes care of one of them, I can take care of the other one. And we can definitely win. Which one should I hit first? The one on the right? Or the one on the left?

No, no. I’ve given them too much time. Now… I have to hit them now.

By the time he finally made up his mind, it was too late. He even got his Nike sneakers stolen as a punishment for his hesitancy.

If this doesn’t foreshadow what eventually happened, I don’t know what does.
He took 18 episodes to understand this message, but by then, he had already lost his first love.

In ep 7, Duk Seon narrated,

“If you love someone, you have to tell them now before your fleeting days become filled with regret… That’s why you have to shove embarrassment aside and confess your love to the one you love before it’s too late.”

Jung Hwan’s nickname was gae-Jungpal, because he was a dog, not yet a human. Of all animals, why dog?

Dogs bark. He loved to snub Duk Seon with harsh words and rude remarks.
We know he didn’t mean it, but how would she know better?
Some people may enjoy squabbling with their partners, but this wasn’t her expression of love.
She clearly didn’t enjoy it.

(Side note: a dog’s position in the home is very different in Reply 1988 vs Reply 1997.
In Reply 1997, even though Yoon Jae’s looks was compared to a dog, and the frequent chin scratching move was more of a sign of affection. The 97 dog was given alot of love as a pet and was even used as a confession plot device.
However, for 88, the dog was there just to guard the house. We hardly see it, except to hear it barking.)

JH_protest_mobile

Junghwan was particularly loyal to his family.
In fact, the writer made it a point to flashback on how his family stuck together through thick and thin and miraculously went from rags to riches.

Some people may think that Jung Hwan doesn’t have a dream of his own. I think his dream is his family.

Consider his diary entry as a young child:

Today, I played soccer. Taek and Duk Seon got one goal and Sun Woo and Dong Ryong got zero. But I got two goals. Because my older brother cheered for me and shouted my name. My brother’s dream is to be Maradona. I made a promise to my brother. I told him I’d become Maradona in place of my brother. I will have to work harder on soccer from now on.

Jung Bong was born with a weak heart, so Jung Hwan decided to help him fulfil his dream, whatever that might be.
That’s why he chose to join the air force.

While his friends had teased him to be indecisive about his future career, it was revealed that Jung bong was the one who was changing his ambition the whole time. And Jung Bong knows this, so he made a wish for Junghwan on the night of the shooting stars.

Junghwan is very loyal to his friends too. He may be the typical teen who can’t seem to empathize and is always blunt with his words, but he has a good heart that will do the right thing.

He hurt Sunwoo when he asked him if he can’t take of the necklace that got them in trouble with the sunbae school bully. But when the same bully insulted Sunwoo, instead of Sunwoo reacting, Junghwan was the one who couldn’t stand it and stepped up to defend his friend and punched him. This may seem like a normal reaction to us non-Koreans, but within Korean culture, hoobaes have to respect their elders (mostly) no matter what. Thus for him to take a punch at him and tell him off, was something even Sunwoo couldn’t do for himself.

JH_SWSchoolBullyB_mobile

Junghwan is a somewhat taciturn young man with a difficulty to fully express himself.
This reservation he has with people around him, affects all his relationships differently.
From Ep1, we see almost everyone being very happy for Deoksun to make it to the Olympics Opening Ceremony. His entire family is on their feet. But Junghwan crosses his arms, and sits there cooly. He only allows himself a tiny smile to escape him.
His mum tells him to share more of his life with her, but that is one of the most awkward hugs I have seen in this drama.
The Ep6 congratulatory hug he manages to give Taek is a close second.

In Ep4, we see that he is sensitive enough to notice that his dad is upset.
But he does not know what to do. Even Ra Miran is at a loss.
However after consulting Dongryong, he awkwardly puts his advice to use
and pleasantly surprised and cheered up his dad.

In Ep5, he noticed that his mum is unhappy after she returned from her short trip. Once again, he goes to Dongryong.
When he knew that his mum felt unneeded, he immediately sets everything right again, by making her feel irreplaceable again by intentionally doing everything wrongly.

In Ep11, after he knows that his mum cannot read English, he sweetly writes her name in hangul for her without being asked to.

But he refused Jung bong to have a sleepover before his operation, and when Jung bong wakes up from his operation and asked him how his nosebleed was, Junghwan was very touched but he walked over the window and had a quiet moment by himself rather than hug it out with his family. Why is that?

Junghwan is the top student in his school. He is definitely not lacking in brains.

Junghwan also did plenty of textbook ‘romantic’ things for Deoksun.
He treated Deoksun and her friends to ramen and MacDonald meals, like a boyfriend would.
He waited up for her to return home at 2am, and went to give her an umbrella when it was raining in Ep5.
In Ep7, when she said she likes pink gloves, he bought them for her for Christmas when he was not her secret santa.
He even tried to protect her in Ep9, when he basically shadowed her home from the supermart.

Why did all these efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated by Deoksun?

I guess part of it is because he was always grudging about it.
He almost always refuses to do it first, then does it anyway.
Like when she asked him to buy Taek’s birthday present, which he immediately says No to.
But we guess he eventually did.
He mocked her for going to the study room, so she did not know he notices that and make sure that she gets home.
He was always mean to her so when he was nice to her, she cannot comprehend why.

He also lacked delivering the finishing move to all these grand gestures.
He gave her the umbrella, but then left her to walk home by herself.
Bought the pink gloves she wanted, but let No Eul deliver it without any explanation.
Even after he grabbed her face with his hands, all he could do was to ask her to think about why he was doing these things.

 

Even the simple act of wanting to cut night class, he just waited to let Dongryong take the risk of testing out the upset stomach ruse.He didn’t consider that if he and Dongryong both went in, they may have made a stronger case and would even have succeeded.

 

Both Junghwan and Taek sacrificed love for friendship, but Taek got the girl.

What did Junghwan do wrong? In the 43 days, while Deoksun was trying all means and ways to get close to him, he made deliberate effort to distance himself from her.

She said, “See you tomorrow!” and he woke up before sunrise to avoid her.
She actually had to ask him three times before he agreed to go to Lee Moon Sae’s concert with her.

And when they finally went to the concert, this happened:

Male friend: Hey, why did you get so pretty?

DS: Huh? (looks at Junghwan) Hey… that’s not true! What are you saying?

Male friend: I tried to get in touch with you a few times after we graduated middle school.

DS: I know.

Male friend: Your home phone number hasn’t changed, right? Is it okay if I call you?

(Deoksun looks at Junghwan again. He shows no reaction. She nods.)

Deoksun kept looking at him, as if to flaunt the attention, hoping that he would display some sort of jealousy.
A few days ago, he had just told her not to go for the blind date. But there he was, seemingly oblivious to the fact that another guy was hitting on her.

Finally, when Deoksun gave Junghwan the pink shirt for his birthday, it was a last-ditch effort.

And he ruined it completely by failing to clear the air. Just like what Deoksun narrated in ep 2:

An illusion is short, but a misunderstanding lasts a long time.
That’s why illusions offer freedom while misunderstandings chain you down.

After that, Jung Hwan had officially blown it.
One pink shirt undid all his chances. Despite him having the advantage because he had more opportunities to show his feelings, and that he travels daily to school with Deoksun. All that was for naught.
Dong Ryong had to drag her to Junghwan’s house for lunch – that was how much she didn’t want to see him.

The real question is:
Was Taek on his mind when he was unable to tell her that was not the same shirt?
He did still go to the concert with Deoksun, he was not being a full noble idiot.
Or he simply just failed to express himself once again… when the words just wouldn’t come out?

 

In 1994, Jung Hwan was still not over Deoksun.

But after he failed to reach her in time for the concert, he finally learnt one thing.

He narrates:

In the end, fate and timing do not just happen out of coincidence.
They are products of earnest, simple choices that make up miraculous moments.
Being resolute, making decisions without hesitation…
That is what makes timing.
He wanted her more than I did.
And I should have been more courageous.

He learned his lesson on courage and timing.

The confession at the pub was merely for the sake of a closure for his feelings.
If he had truly wanted a response from Deoksun, he would have done it in private.
Confessing in front of Sunwoo and Dongryong made it easier for him to diffuse the atmosphere and to avoid getting a rejection.
After the confession, he saw that Deoksun is preoccupied with watching the door for Taek, and he knew he made the right decision.
He finally is able to “pass” like Dongryong advised him years ago, to move on and he gave Taek his blessings even before he asked.

He also learned to be a good ‘daughter’.

Jung Hwan’s family means the world to him. But now he no longer needs to seek Dongryong for advice.
Jungbong and him discuss about how their mother is, and he comes up with a plan on how to cheer her up.

When Jung Hwan’s mom was struggling with menopause, he actually noticed the wedding photo was fake and planned for his parents to have the sweetest surprise wedding ceremony ever. He became a ‘daughter’ to his mom.

He finally understood his parents’ feelings and learned how to show love to them.

JH_human_mobile

 

 

Many people are disappointed why there is no further mention of Junghwan in the present time.

However, it maybe the writer’s intention to leave his story open-ended.

Rather than give him a pale consolation prize of a Deoksun look-alike, Junghwan’s last poignant scene in the final episode, is spent with a friend. From the young man who told his friend in Ep6, that he was not interested in other people’s love lives, he has matured into an understanding buddy who can be there for his friend in need.

Junghwan will be able to take on anything life has to throw at him. And he will come out on top of it.
The fortune teller was right. He will do fine on his own. 

Last thoughts:
Doing fine on his own, does not mean he ends up alone.
And he did not even need to eat massive quantities of garlic to become a man either.

Jung Hwan’s character and fate has already been foreshadowed in Ep 1.
Though he wasn’t endgame, his 1988 memories wasn’t hung up only on his failed first love – the story of Junghwan as the second son of the Kim family and the brother of Jungbong was something cherished by the audience.

WHY DON’T YOU NIKE ?

He wore Nike sneakers and carried a Nike bag. As an ardent Nike fan, he should’ve gotten the writer’s message for him: Just do it!

Hesitancy was his main character weakness.

It was so frustrating to watch him sit on his bed, brooding over what he should do, but doing nothing anyway.

 

JH_Nike

As a matter of fact, his character had already been established in ep 1, when Dong Ryong was escorted down Brazil Deokbokki’s back alley by two thugs.

Jung Hwan: There’s two of them and two of us. It’s worth a shot. If he takes care of one of them, I can take care of the other one. And we can definitely win. Which one should I hit first? The one on the right? Or the one on the left?

No, no. I’ve given them too much time. Now… I have to hit them now.

By the time he finally made up his mind, it was too late. He even got his Nike sneakers stolen as a punishment for his hesitancy.

 

If this doesn’t foreshadow what eventually happened, I don’t know what does.
He took 18 episodes to understand this message, but by then, he had already lost his first love.

In ep 7, Duk Seon narrated, “If you love someone, you have to tell them now before your fleeting days become filled with regret… That’s why you have to shove embarrassment aside and confess your love to the one you love before it’s too late.”

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DOG

Jung Hwan’s nickname was gae-Jungpal, because he was a dog, not yet a human. Of all animals, why dog?

Dogs bark. He loved to snub Duk Seon with harsh words and rude remarks.
We know he didn’t mean it, but how would she know better?
Some people may enjoy squabbling with their partners, but this wasn’t her expression of love.
She clearly didn’t enjoy it.

(Side note: a dog’s position in the home is very different in Reply 1988 vs Reply 1997.
In Reply 1997, even though Yoon Jae’s looks was compared to a dog, and the frequent chin scratching move was more of a sign of affection. The 97 dog was given alot of love as a pet and was even used as a confession plot device.
However, for 88, the dog was there just to guard the house. We hardly see it, except to hear it barking.)

Ep 4, Deoksun came home eating a popsicle

Junghwan: Where were you?

Deoksun: The study room. To study.

Junghwan: Look at you, lying through your teeth. You sure you didn’t just dig up a grave? Are you a zombie or something?

 

Ep 9, after MBC concert

Deoksun: It’s so cold.

Junghwan: So why’d you wear a skirt? Geez… you have no common sense.

Deoksun: How would you go on without me?

Junghwan: What are you talking about?

Deoksun: You know, since you seem to live off the joy you get from tormenting me!
Also, when a girl says she’s cold, a guy should give her his jacket or something!

Junghwan: Are you crazy? Why should I?

BUT DOGS ARE VERY LOYAL TOO.

Junghwan was particularly loyal to his family. In fact, the writer made it a point to flashback on how his family stuck together through thick and thin and miraculously went from rags to riches.

Some people may think that Jung Hwan doesn’t have a dream of his own. I think his dream is his family.

Consider his diary entry as a young child:

Today, I played soccer. Taek and Duk Seon got one goal and Sun Woo and Dong Ryong got zero. But I got two goals. Because my older brother cheered for me and shouted my name. My brother’s dream is to be Maradona. I made a promise to my brother. I told him I’d become Maradona in place of my brother. I will have to work harder on soccer from now on.

Jung Bong was born with a weak heart, so Jung Hwan decided to help him fulfil his dream, whatever that might be.
That’s why he chose to join the air force.

While his friends had teased him to be indecisive about his future career, it was revealed that Jung bong was the one who was changing his ambition the whole time. And Jung Bong knows this, so he made a wish for Junghwan on the night of the shooting stars.

Junghwan is very loyal to his friends too. He may be the typical teen who can’t seem to empathize and is always blunt with his words, but he has a good heart that will do the right thing.

JH_SWSchoolBullyA

He hurt Sunwoo when he asked him if he can’t take of the necklace that got them in trouble with the sunbae school bully. But when the same bully insulted Sunwoo, instead of Sunwoo reacting, Junghwan was the one who couldn’t stand it and stepped up to defend his friend and punched him. This may seem like a normal reaction to us non-Koreans, but within Korean culture, hoobaes have to respect their elders (mostly) no matter what. Thus for him to take a punch at him and tell him off, was something even Sunwoo couldn’t do for himself.

JH_SWSchoolBullyB

 

NOT AFFECTIONATE ENOUGH?

Junghwan is a somewhat taciturn young man with a difficulty to fully express himself.
This reservation he has with people around him, affects all his relationships differently.
From Ep1, we see almost everyone being very happy for Deoksun to make it to the Olympics Opening Ceremony. His entire family is on their feet. But Junghwan crosses his arms, and sits there cooly. He only allows himself a tiny smile to escape him.
His mum tells him to share more of his life with her, but that is one of the most awkward hugs I have seen in this drama.
The Ep6 congratulatory hug he manages to give Taek is a close second.

JH_notExpressive

In Ep4, we see that he is sensitive enough to notice that his dad is upset. But he does not know what to do. Even Ra Miran is at a loss.
However after consulting Dongryong, he awkwardly puts his advice to use and pleasantly surprised and cheered up his dad.

JH_DadProb

In Ep5, he noticed that his mum is unhappy after she returned from her short trip. Once again, he goes to Dongryong.
When he knew that his mum felt unneeded, he immediately sets everything right again, by making her feel irreplaceable again by intentionally doing everything wrongly.

JH_Mum

In Ep11, after he knows that his mum cannot read English, he sweetly writes her name in hangul for her without being asked to.

But he refused Jung bong to have a sleepover before his operation, and when Jung bong wakes up from his operation and asked him how his nosebleed was, Junghwan was very touched but he walked over the window and had a quiet moment by himself rather than hug it out with his family. Why is that?

JH_passport

 

NO FOLLOW THROUGH

Junghwan is the top student in his school. He is definitely not lacking in brains.

Junghwan also did plenty of textbook ‘romantic’ things for Deoksun.
He treated Deoksun and her friends to ramen and MacDonald meals, like a boyfriend would.
He waited up for her to return home at 2am, and went to give her an umbrella when it was raining in Ep5.
In Ep7, when she said she likes pink gloves, he bought them for her for Christmas when he was not her secret santa.
He even tried to protect her in Ep9, when he basically shadowed her home from the supermart.

Why did all these efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated by Deoksun?

I guess part of it is because he was always grudging about it. He almost always refuses to do it first, then does it anyway.
Like when she asked him to buy Taek’s birthday present, which he immediately says No to. But we guess he eventually did.
He mocked her for going to the study room, so she did not know he notices that and make sure that she gets home.
He was always mean to her so when he was nice to her, she cannot comprehend why.

JH_followthrough

He also lacked delivering the finishing move to all these grand gestures.
He gave her the umbrella, but then left her to walk home by herself.
Bought the pink gloves she wanted, but let No Eul deliver it without any explanation.
Even after he grabbed her face with his hands, all he could do was to ask her to think about why he was doing these things.

 

Even the simple act of wanting to cut night class, he just waited to let Dongryong take the risk of testing out the upset stomach ruse.He didn’t consider that if he and Dongryong both went in, they may have made a stronger case and would even have succeeded.

 

THE ART OF NOBLE IDIOCY

Both Junghwan and Taek sacrificed love for friendship, but Taek got the girl.

What did Junghwan do wrong? In the 43 days, while Deoksun was trying all means and ways to get close to him, he made deliberate effort to distance himself from her.

She said, “See you tomorrow!” and he woke up before sunrise to avoid her.
She actually had to ask him three times before he agreed to go to Lee Moon Sae’s concert with her.

And when they finally went to the concert, this happened:

Male friend: Hey, why did you get so pretty?

DS: Huh? (looks at Junghwan) Hey… that’s not true! What are you saying?

Male friend: I tried to get in touch with you a few times after we graduated middle school.

DS: I know.

Male friend: Your home phone number hasn’t changed, right? Is it okay if I call you?

(Deoksun looks at Junghwan again. He shows no reaction. She nods.)

Deoksun kept looking at him, as if to flaunt the attention, hoping that he would display some sort of jealousy.
A few days ago, he had just told her not to go for the blind date. But there he was, seemingly oblivious to the fact that another guy was hitting on her.

Finally, when Deoksun gave Junghwan the pink shirt for his birthday, it was a last-ditch effort.

And he ruined it completely by failing to clear the air. Just like what Deoksun narrated in Ep 2:

An illusion is short, but a misunderstanding lasts a long time.
That’s why illusions offer freedom while misunderstandings chain you down.

After that, Jung Hwan had officially blown it.
One pink shirt undid all his chances. Despite him having the advantage because he had more opportunities to show his feelings, and that he travels daily to school with Deoksun. All that was for naught.
Dong Ryong had to drag her to Junghwan’s house for lunch – that was how much she didn’t want to see him.

JH_Misunderstanding

The real question is:
Was Taek on his mind when he was unable to tell her that was not the same shirt?
He did still go to the concert with Deoksun, he was not being a full noble idiot.
Or he simply just failed to express himself once again… when the words just wouldn’t come out?

BECOMING HUMAN.

In 1994, Jung Hwan was still not over Deoksun.

But after he failed to reach her in time for the concert, he finally learnt one thing.

He narrates:

In the end, fate and timing do not just happen out of coincidence.
They are products of earnest, simple choices that make up miraculous moments.
Being resolute, making decisions without hesitation…
That is what makes timing. He wanted her more than I did.
And I should have been more courageous.

He learned his lesson on courage and timing.

The confession at the pub was merely for the sake of a closure for his feelings.
If he had truly wanted a response from Deoksun, he would have done it in private.
Confessing in front of Sunwoo and Dongryong made it easier for him to diffuse the atmosphere and to avoid getting a rejection.
After the confession, he saw that Deoksun is preoccupied with watching the door for Taek, and he knew he made the right decision.
He finally is able to “pass” like Dongryong advised him years ago, to move on and he gave Taek his blessings even before he asked.

He also learned to be a good ‘daughter’.

Jung Hwan’s family means the world to him. But now he no longer needs to seek Dongryong for advice.
Jungbong and him discuss about how their mother is, and he comes up with a plan on how to cheer her up.

When Jung Hwan’s mom was struggling with menopause, he actually noticed the wedding photo was fake and planned for his parents to have the sweetest surprise wedding ceremony ever. He became a ‘daughter’ to his mom.

He finally understood his parents’ feelings and learned how to show love to them.

JH_Human

FULL CIRCLE

Many people are disappointed why there is no further mention of Junghwan in the present time.

However, it maybe the writer’s intention to leave his story open-ended.

Rather than give him a pale consolation prize of a Deoksun look-alike, Junghwan’s last poignant scene in the final episode, is spent with a friend. From the young man who told his friend in Ep6, that he was not interested in other people’s love lives, he has matured into an understanding buddy who can be there for his friend in need.

Junghwan will be able to take on anything life has to throw at him. And he will come out on top of it.
The fortune teller was right. He will do fine on his own. 

Last thoughts:
Doing fine on his own, does not mean he ends up alone.
And he did not even need to eat massive quantities of garlic to become a man either.

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