Baduk and Story

By Shooastrid

As we know, baduk holds quite an important role in Reply 1988, not only as character background for Choi Taek, but also part of the philosophical narrative in general. How can we tell? Instead of being treated as mere props or casual setting, baduk is depicted in each and every episode in one way or another.

Knowing how the PD and writer of Reply franchise are usually very meticulous and into details, I don’t think the on going depiction of baduk just happened by accident. Therefore, I believe that baduk holds important role in the narrative which symbolize the overall tone and character’s philosophy, especially Taek. Deoksun’s dad said in episode 2: “… Geez, you see… elements of the real world are a part of baduk.”

For example...

(1) Even when Taek is not around, his match, his absence, his profile are often mentioned by people around him, in TV news and newspaper articles. 

(2) Taek room’s setting has many baduk related stuff: baduk board, old KIFUs (match records) on the wall, articles of baduk players. Even when Taek is not around, as the gang uses his room as basecamp, baduk is present on screen

(3) Two episodes minimum with plenty of screen time are dedicated for Taek’s important match : a match of 5 games consecutively, and Deoksun’s first trip to China match.

(4) Countless scenes at baduk club and various baduk match scenes.

(5) Heck, even at Deoksun’s living room, that vase trophy is always present too since episode 11 onwards.

 

For example...

(1) Even when Taek is not around, his match, his absence, his profile are often mentioned by people around him, in TV news and newspaper articles. 

(2) Taek room’s setting has many baduk related stuff: baduk board, old KIFUs (match records) on the wall, articles of baduk players. Even when Taek is not around, as the gang uses his room as basecamp, baduk is present on screen

(3) Two episodes minimum with plenty of screen time are dedicated for Taek’s important match : a match of 5 games consecutively, and Deoksun’s first trip to China match.

(4) Countless scenes at baduk club and various baduk match scenes.

(5) Heck, even at Deoksun’s living room, that vase trophy is always present too since episode 11 onwards.

 

I believe that the writer is aware of baduk’s philosophies and many baduk related concepts and she deliberately uses it as a connecting metaphor to the show’s tone especially Taek’s characterization. Here are my observations on that:

In baduk, there are concepts like “sente” and “gote”, and there is “Tenuki” as well. You probably think WTH? Let me try to explain. Sente is a move that leaves the opponent with overwhelming needs to follow up (moves that force opponent to answer), while Gote is the follow up move, when you are forced to answer and losing initiative. On the other hand, Tenuki means ignore and play elsewhere (on the board).

Now let’s not think of it as a straight to the point approach/ interpretation of the plot, since love is not really a game/ match, but in general tone. I believe that the moment Taek realizing Junghwan’s feelings, it is a Gote for him: he should answer. As a competitive human being as observed by Dongryong, it’s impossible that Taek does not see the “threat” imposed by Junghwan’s feelings to his own idea of future with Deoksun. The “correct answer” is to do the big move: cinema date and confession.

BadukandStory_2-v2

Now now, if there is one thing that I learn from go is being able to read real life situation from higher perspective. When I just started playing, I often got caught in local battle, trapped in my impatience and desire to kill, without understanding of the game as a whole. My interpretation for Taek’s decision is that he sees the bigger view of the situation. Tenuki is ultimately, his choice of move, understanding that he will be at a greater loss for pushing on with his agenda at his best friend’s expense. He stepped back a bit and looked at larger picture and finally decided to let go of his desire to be with Deoksun. In baduk, A fight for territory without necessity to destory the opponent, is the most striking character of Baduk. Taek probably saw that his last “move” as inevitable, since for him, “family”, “friendship” are the larger picture, as we seen from his kind, observant, and loving approaches towards his family and friends. A good play is better than winning the play itself.

In Baduk, there are established sequences called Joseki. The sequences are seen to give optimal result for each player for its familiarity and take and give. There are couple of Joseki concepts in the show. For example, Junghwan’s approaches to Deoksun are like familiar Joseki, in the form of silent attempts to protect and love her. I find it heartbreakingly familiar, as an awkward kid he is, who keeps his feelings bottled up inside, prickly on the outside, and soft on the inside.

BadukandStory_3

As for Taek, his interactions with his inner circle who loves to baby him felt all too familiar and normal. All parties gained some sort of content feeling out of it. We can see these kind relationship as well in each family, the most prominent in Junghwan’s family, where dad always acts as the goofy ball, the mascot of family, and mom is the bad cop who love to yell and nag. Now what I would like to see more in regards of the love line is the leads coming out of their comfort zone, the all too familiar Joseki to the more unfamiliar territory. We started to see this with Deoksun’s new realization of her dream and aspiration. Her conversation with Dongryong also brought inspiration for her to understand that her heart is the one that matters the most.

BadukandStory_4

I would like to see Junghwan break his Joseki, and for once able to voice out his desire despite the fear of hurting others. Now, that Taek retreats, it’s now his call.

There are people who question, if Taek is the husband, then why is he confirmed as late as Episode 6? I have my own interpretation for this: In Baduk, a match of unequal strength will be addressed in order to balance the power. A stronger player usually gives some amount of handicap to the weaker by letting them putting stones ahead. The number of stones are varied usually depends on the skill gap. For example, a 6 Dan player can give 5 stones to 1 Kyu level. Handicap system is unique and there is no equivalent for it in other games. The aim is to let two people of different strength play a game with equal chances to win. The stronger one bears a burden not to show his superiority but to strain his powers and use all his skills. In short, he has to do his best to defeat his competitor. I can’t give an example of a board game which the stronger player has to give so much in the beginning in order to win.

BadukandStory_5

Now, we all agree that the writer does not treat baduk lightly, as a mere additional prop/setting, seeing the amount of scenes about baduk and Taek’s baduk portrayed in the series. Given the normal Kdrama trope which usually introduces all main leads and their character structures/roles in the plot as early as episode 1, I think Taek’s gradual revelation is really unusual. He wasn’t confirmed as the husband contender until episode 6. He has been given very limited screen time in the beginning, and his arc is mainly apart but parallel with the rest of cast. Seeing how the episodes fold out now, I think Taek is serving the role of one with upper hand, the stronger one. That’s why to give Junghwan equal chance to play, the writer decides to give that first 6 episodes to build a solid base for Junghwan + Deoksun storyline. It’s as if Taek the baduk master gives 6 stones handicap to his opponent, and only on the 7th stones, white starts his play.

BadukandStory_6

Now, before you throw rocks at me for being biased, this doesn’t mean that I am 100% sure that Taek is the husband, as anything can happen. As much as I’m firmly holding to Taek’s ship, I understand that Junghwan and Deoksun’s narratives are strong too, with all cute details and chemistry. As far as I know, he can be the end game too. However, given the backstory narrated by Deoksun about Taek’s childhood, their unusual interaction and chemistry, as well as the strong bond, history and vibe together as described in the series.. If all these were revealed too early, then I believe no other husband contender could stand a chance. Junghwan’s hot alley scene could fall flat and shallow compared to Taek’s arc. That’s why, the way the writer and director plays with the order is very smart and just. As we can see now, how the ships are sailing from both sides.

Modern baduk has two more distinguishing features: a compensation of points (komi) for the white player: for example in chess, white player wins more often whereas black employs defensive techniques from the beginning. However in Baduk, compensation implies a fight from the beginning without a feeling of less chances to win. Another thing, the komi makes a draw impossible. In baduk there are no draw tactics and each game has to be decided so players try their damnest best to achieve favorable result. There is no clear depiction of secondary male lead character in this story. Why? It’s because the writer gives them both fair chance to play. As one with upper hand (Taek’s back story, his baduk arc, his depth and selfless interaction with the gang and the people in Sssangmundong, as well as his mutual understanding with Deoksun and his love for her), Taek is restrained with the handicaps (i.e. joined the husband game in episode 6) but at the same time receives Komi points in the form of his peeled character layers.

In baduk, a good and fair play is most important. It’s better surrender than to play until the end, count on opponent’s big mistake. A game we won having played well is the source of satisfaction. A victory secured to violating ethics is worth nothing. A person learning to play baduk starts to need not only victories but also good play, as baduk creates that need and it is a source of the need. Practicing baduk induces not ideal human to behave ethically. So, it’s up to Deoksun now to decide. Besides, love is not a competition and Deoksun is not a trophy to be won.

BadukandStory_7

In baduk, there are concepts like “sente” and “gote”, and there is “Tenuki” as well. You probably think WTH? Let me try to explain. Sente is a move that leaves the opponent with overwhelming needs to follow up (moves that force opponent to answer), while Gote is the follow up move, when you are forced to answer and losing initiative. On the other hand, Tenuki means ignore and play elsewhere (on the board).

Now let’s not think of it as a straight to the point approach/ interpretation of the plot, since love is not really a game/ match, but in general tone. I believe that the moment Taek realizing Junghwan’s feelings, it is a Gote for him: he should answer. As a competitive human being as observed by Dongryong, it’s impossible that Taek does not see the “threat” imposed by Junghwan’s feelings to his own idea of future with Deoksun. The “correct answer” is to do the big move: cinema date and confession.

Now now, if there is one thing that I learn from go is being able to read real life situation from higher perspective. When I just started playing, I often got caught in local battle, trapped in my impatience and desire to kill, without understanding of the game as a whole. My interpretation for Taek’s decision is that he sees the bigger view of the situation. Tenuki is ultimately, his choice of move, understanding that he will be at a greater loss for pushing on with his agenda at his best friend’s expense. He stepped back a bit and looked at larger picture and finally decided to let go of his desire to be with Deoksun. In baduk, A fight for territory without necessity to destory the opponent, is the most striking character of Baduk. Taek probably saw that his last “move” as inevitable, since for him, “family”, “friendship” are the larger picture, as we seen from his kind, observant, and loving approaches towards his family and friends. A good play is better than winning the play itself.

In Baduk, there are established sequences called Joseki. The sequences are seen to give optimal result for each player for its familiarity and take and give. There are couple of Joseki concepts in the show. For example, Junghwan’s approaches to Deoksun are like familiar Joseki, in the form of silent attempts to protect and love her. I find it heartbreakingly familiar, as an awkward kid he is, who keeps his feelings bottled up inside, prickly on the outside, and soft on the inside.

As for Taek, his interactions with his inner circle who loves to baby him felt all too familiar and normal. All parties gained some sort of content feeling out of it. We can see these kind relationship as well in each family, the most prominent in Junghwan’s family, where dad always acts as the goofy ball, the mascot of family, and mom is the bad cop who love to yell and nag. Now what I would like to see more in regards of the love line is the leads coming out of their comfort zone, the all too familiar Joseki to the more unfamiliar territory. We started to see this with Deoksun’s new realization of her dream and aspiration. Her conversation with Dongryong also brought inspiration for her to understand that her heart is the one that matters the most.

I would like to see Junghwan break his Joseki, and for once able to voice out his desire despite the fear of hurting others. Now, that Taek retreats, it’s now his call.

There are people who question, if Taek is the husband, then why is he confirmed as late as Episode 6? I have my own interpretation for this: In Baduk, a match of unequal strength will be addressed in order to balance the power. A stronger player usually gives some amount of handicap to the weaker by letting them putting stones ahead. The number of stones are varied usually depends on the skill gap. For example, a 6 Dan player can give 5 stones to 1 Kyu level. Handicap system is unique and there is no equivalent for it in other games. The aim is to let two people of different strength play a game with equal chances to win. The stronger one bears a burden not to show his superiority but to strain his powers and use all his skills. In short, he has to do his best to defeat his competitor. I can’t give an example of a board game which the stronger player has to give so much in the beginning in order to win.

Now, we all agree that the writer does not treat baduk lightly, as a mere additional prop/setting, seeing the amount of scenes about baduk and Taek’s baduk portrayed in the series. Given the normal Kdrama trope which usually introduces all main leads and their character structures/roles in the plot as early as episode 1, I think Taek’s gradual revelation is really unusual. He wasn’t confirmed as the husband contender until episode 6. He has been given very limited screen time in the beginning, and his arc is mainly apart but parallel with the rest of cast. Seeing how the episodes fold out now, I think Taek is serving the role of one with upper hand, the stronger one. That’s why to give Junghwan equal chance to play, the writer decides to give that first 6 episodes to build a solid base for Junghwan + Deoksun storyline. It’s as if Taek the baduk master gives 6 stones handicap to his opponent, and only on the 7th stones, white starts his play.

Now, before you throw rocks at me for being biased, this doesn’t mean that I am 100% sure that Taek is the husband, as anything can happen. As much as I’m firmly holding to Taek’s ship, I understand that Junghwan and Deoksun’s narratives are strong too, with all cute details and chemistry. As far as I know, he can be the end game too. However, given the backstory narrated by Deoksun about Taek’s childhood, their unusual interaction and chemistry, as well as the strong bond, history and vibe together as described in the series.. If all these were revealed too early, then I believe no other husband contender could stand a chance. Junghwan’s hot alley scene could fall flat and shallow compared to Taek’s arc. That’s why, the way the writer and director plays with the order is very smart and just. As we can see now, how the ships are sailing from both sides.

Modern baduk has two more distinguishing features: a compensation of points (komi) for the white player: for example in chess, white player wins more often whereas black employs defensive techniques from the beginning. However in Baduk, compensation implies a fight from the beginning without a feeling of less chances to win. Another thing, the komi makes a draw impossible. In baduk there are no draw tactics and each game has to be decided so players try their damnest best to achieve favorable result. There is no clear depiction of secondary male lead character in this story. Why? It’s because the writer gives them both fair chance to play. As one with upper hand (Taek’s back story, his baduk arc, his depth and selfless interaction with the gang and the people in Sssangmundong, as well as his mutual understanding with Deoksun and his love for her), Taek is restrained with the handicaps (i.e. joined the husband game in episode 6) but at the same time receives Komi points in the form of his peeled character layers.

In baduk, a good and fair play is most important. It’s better surrender than to play until the end, count on opponent’s big mistake. A game we won having played well is the source of satisfaction. A victory secured to violating ethics is worth nothing. A person learning to play baduk starts to need not only victories but also good play, as baduk creates that need and it is a source of the need. Practicing baduk induces not ideal human to behave ethically. So, it’s up to Deoksun now to decide. Besides, love is not a competition and Deoksun is not a trophy to be won.

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