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Joo Won 주원 [Upcoming Movie "Carter" 2021]


Joo Won Poll  

10 members have voted

  1. 1. Which are your favorite Joo Won dramas / movies? (choose up to 3)

    • Alice
    • My Sassy Girl
    • Yong-Pal
    • Naeil's Cantabile
    • Good Doctor
    • 7th Grade Civil Servant
    • Bridal Mask
    • Ojakgyo Family
    • Bread, Love and Dreams
    • Fatal Intuition
      0
    • Xia You Qiao Mu
      0
    • Fashion King
      0
    • Steal My Heart
      0
    • Don't Click
      0
    • SIU
      0
  2. 2. Which genre do you think Joo Won shines in (or would shine in)? (choose up to 3)

    • Rom-com
    • Action/crime/thriller
    • Psychological thriller
    • Melodrama
    • Romance
      0
    • Historical / sageuk
    • Sci-fi
    • Slice of life
      0
    • Legal drama
      0
    • Medical drama
    • Horror
    • Comedy
      0
    • Something else. What?
      0
  3. 3. Do you prefer Joo Won with abs or without abs?

    • With abs! Alice was great!
    • Doesn't matter. Joo Won looks great both in a shirt and without one!
    • I only care for Joo Won's acting. I couldn't care less about him having abs.

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closes on 04/17/2021 at 10:00 AM

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55 minutes ago, kittyna said:

you are more than welcome to suggest things that don't show up or get even more specific (e.g. I saw a doljabi once in Return of Superman where, because the father was an athlete, he included multiple balls on the table to see which specific sport the child would prefer).

I think the items do change according to time , and yeah there are few items which have been added to the list even though they were not in tradition, for example: stethoscope (boy !!parents do go Gaga if kid chooses it, since being a doctor is next to nobility in Korean society). In India also we do have similar tradition but it is confined in souther states or provinces of India, but the items have remained same, like money, book, knife(which is considered bad thing), and sometimes even alcohol(I know it is weird thing to put alcohol infront of an infant he might choose it thinking it as a milk bottle:P)

 

55 minutes ago, kittyna said:

 

55 minutes ago, kittyna said:

What objects do you think these characters might have picked from the table?

Coming to this question, according to me characters would have choosen items as follows

Han Gil-Ro - Money

Park Si-on - pencil(I would have gone for stethoscope,but I think it parents would have thought it would be far-fetched with their financial status)and food also, boy his appetite for food was very huge in drama

Gyeon woo - Graduation cap and pencil

Kim Tae-hyun- Gavel and stethoscope

Cha yoo-jin- Needle, scissors and ruler

GU Ma-jun- money, ruler(since he was also talented in making bread but a bit less talented than Kim ta ku, but in reality joo won's baked bread were actually delicious :P)

Lee kang-to - Bow and arrow and thread(since he cheats death many times in drama)

Hwang Tae-Hee - pencil ,bow and arrow

Few of choices are bit bland. Characters are complex and the reason behind they choosing of an item may have deeper meaning .

55 minutes ago, kittyna said:

The fact that JW can't (and consequently won't) drink has saved me a lot of anxiety over the years - since I know that most of the scandals I read about probably won't affect him

Same here!! Alcohol can be as damaging as taking drugs and can lead to lot of wrong doings by an individual under its influence, for example: DUI cases are like 90% of scandals of celebrities in korea regardless of gender. But I do think it he spends adequate amount of time with his friends, like going out for dinner, gym , golfing , walking etc :)

55 minutes ago, kittyna said:

He did mention on Win Win that he went to a club once when he was younger, but mostly just to hone his dancing skills. But in that same interview, he did admit that his first time drinking was when he was still underage - due to peer pressure from sunbaes when he was in high school - but that he 1) hated the taste and couldn't see what all the fuss was about, and 2) passed out after just one sip. And since that's how he learned he had such a low tolerance for alcohol in the first place, I can forgive that one indiscretion easily enough :).

That episode was memorable one, I think it is joo won's first talk show, it is like open book about joo won. He has been very consistent with his answers also, he has never changed his answers in any talk show. A lot of people change their answers to attract some viewership or get some buzz in SNS, but joo won kept his consistency, even though it makes his life boring to others, I think joo won enjoys every bit of his life in his own way .:D

55 minutes ago, kittyna said:

Yeah, I know it was mostly in Itaewon, and a number of the cases seem to have stemmed from one person going to multiple places. I think that Korea will need to take a hard look at its social/group-oriented culture after this is over, since two major spikes in cases (the first one in Daegu and this one in Seoul) could be directly traced back to individuals who failed to maintain physical distancing for reasons that would be legitimate and okay outside of a pandemic situation: e.g. going to church, going out with friends/colleagues, etc.

 

Personally, I think that even as someone who's feeling healthy, going out to a bar (or multiple bars) right now wouldn't be wise, period - even if I'm not worried about being an asymptomatic carrier, I'd be worried about the large crowds and the possibility of catching COVID-19 from someone else. But what's done is done - here's just hoping that this new burst is contained.


I hear you, I think lot of people in Korea may have been mistaken that virus has just disappeared after the flattening of the curve. But I think they should accept the reality that virus can strike back and wreak havoc in large scale. This out burst may serve as a warning to all the citizens that they need to be careful while going about their business until the vaccine is found or herd immunity is developed. I think it might be harder for pepole to accept this reality especially in metropolitan city like Seoul , since it is city where lot of people like to explore and hang out with their friends at night time, it is part of their culuture and tied to the economics of the city also. But I firmly believe they'll come with innovative ideas to enjoy their city life and also maintain physical distancing, like every other city in the world is doing right now:D
 

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Hai girls! Sorry I've been out of it for the past couple of days. I didnt have time to go to soompi, hadnt even back-tracked the pages since Saturday and my phone takes the longest time ever to upload

The reason why JW was bending down and looking at the man. Cr as tagged. Many asked me why I like JW and why I like him for so long?  THIS. Plus his acting. 

1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

That episode was memorable one, I think it is joo won's first talk show, it is like open book about joo won. He has been very consistent with his answers also, he has never changed his answers in any talk show. A lot of people change their answers to attract some viewership or get some buzz in SNS, but joo won kept his consistency, even though it makes his life boring to others, I think joo won enjoys every bit of his life in his own way .:D

 

JW did take part in some talk shows in a group setting (like the one huge promo special for King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu with almost all of the main cast), and he appeared on some earlier episodes of Win Win as the surprise friend/guest (along with Yoon Si Yoon during Jeon In Hwa's episode, and by himself on Uhm Tae Woong's episode - not even realizing he'd end up together with the hosts on 1N2D shortly afterwards). But I think that episode of Win Win was his first major solo talk show appearance (correct me if I'm wrong). 

 

And speaking of JW's "boring" life, that just reminds me of the moment on Healing Camp in 2015 when he said that his main hobby was walking. :lol: Everyone - like, literally everyone - just immediately went, "Uh...what???" It was awesome :P 

 

Also, in hindsight, while I was eager for him to make a comeback after his enlistment, I'm glad that JW got the chance to do things that he liked first: hanging out with friends, travelling to the USA, etc. Not as the celebrity Joo Won, but just as Moon Jun Won, a regular guy in his early 30s :) 

 

1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

In India also we do have similar tradition but it is confined in souther states or provinces of India, but the items have remained same, like money, book, knife(which is considered bad thing), and sometimes even alcohol(I know it is weird thing to put alcohol infront of an infant he might choose it thinking it as a milk bottle:P)

 

Um...do I want to know what purpose the alcohol is supposed to serve? Like, what on earth is that supposed to mean if the kid picks it? :tounge_xd:

 

1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

Coming to this question, according to me characters would have choosen items as follows

Han Gil-Ro - Money

Park Si-on - pencil(I would have gone for stethoscope,but I think it parents would have thought it would be far-fetched with their financial status)and food also, boy his appetite for food was very huge in drama

Gyeon woo - Graduation cap and pencil

Kim Tae-hyun- Gavel and stethoscope

Cha yoo-jin- Needle, scissors and ruler

GU Ma-jun- money, ruler(since he was also talented in making bread but a bit less talented than Kim ta ku, but in reality joo won's baked bread were actually delicious :P)

Lee kang-to - Bow and arrow and thread(since he cheats death many times in drama)

Hwang Tae-Hee - pencil ,bow and arrow

Few of choices are bit bland. Characters are complex and the reason behind they choosing of an item may have deeper meaning .

 

Thanks for sharing your take on it! I think the doljabi isn't something people take really seriously anymore - it's just a fun game for friends and family - but if I were to think more seriously about it, I think babies are likely to pick things that look stimulating or familiar to them.

 

So, here's my opinion:

 

Gu Ma Jun - Money or thread - if you see the bunch of thread, it looks like braided dough from some angles, so he might mix them up (his mom would try to rig the game in favour of money, though - some parents sit/stand closer to the objects they want the kid to pick or call out which one to go for)

Hwang Tae Hui - Pencil - we know his mom was taking university courses when he was a baby, so this is a case of choosing what looks familiar at home

Lee Kang To - Bow and arrow - I'm with you on this one

Han Gil Ro - Toy gun (I imagine this to be the modern equivalent to the traditional bow) or microphone

Park Si On - Book or food - unfortunately for him, though, depending on who you ask, choosing food is rather unfairly linked with lesser intelligence (because it suggests a child who can't think ahead)

Cha Yoo Jin - Toy piano - I think this is one case where his parents would've rigged the game by including several toy instruments for him to choose from

Kim Tae Hyun - Ball or stethoscope - Stethoscope would surprise his family, since they probably wouldn't have thought ahead to him becoming a doctor (again, because of financial issues), but the ball would be in line with his natural athleticism

Gyun Woo - calligraphy brush (i.e. the older equivalent of today's pencil) - Honestly, do I even need to explain this one? ;) 

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Just found this on Instagram: Dance Party Time!

 

 

 

lol - JW does seem to like dancing to JYP's "Honey", since he does it on a couple of different occasions in these videos. By the way, having compared some of his footage to the original...I prefer JW's interpretation of the dance moves: more cute, less cringe-y (like, seriously, that pelvic thrust...oh my God). :P 

 

Mind you, I still think even he can't make up for "Gangnam Style"'s level of cringe, though - some of those moves just look really...well, perverted coming from a guy, no matter which guy we're talking about.

 

And here are the full versions of the dances, if anyone wants them (in "Hidden Contents" to make loading easier):

 

Spoiler

"Honey" in 2010:

 

 

"Honey" in 2014:

 

 

"Gangnam Style" in 2013:

 

 

 

Just a little something to brighten your day :) 

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6 hours ago, kittyna said:

depending on who you ask, choosing food is rather unfairly linked with lesser intelligence (because it suggests a child who can't think ahead)

That's absurd, How can one become intelligent without having proper diet? And food is very important for brain development, maybe they are linking with fast-food, since they addictive and have negative consequence on both mental and physical health:anguished:

 

7 hours ago, kittyna said:

Um...do I want to know what purpose the alcohol is supposed to serve? Like, what on earth is that supposed to mean if the kid picks it?

It is just for fun and it can also be interpreted that the child will have a care-free life :lol:,but I think such kind of ceremonies are taken not that serious these days, since kids have many other professions to choose from, like ranging from Vlogger to Youtuber

1 hour ago, kittyna said:

lol - JW does seem to like dancing to JYP's "Honey", since he does it on a couple of different occasions in these videos. By the way, having compared some of his footage to the original...I prefer JW's interpretation of the dance moves: more cute, less cringe-y (like, seriously, that pelvic thrust...oh my God). :P

He does looks adorable whenever he sings or dance. I think once he had also sang a popular thai song for his fans in Thailand fan-meet

First I thought it was Korean song, but it turns out it was thai song, I love this quality in him to learn something new to make his fans happy and to  have good time. I think he had also learned Gyeongsang Province dialect for his movie; Fatal intuition.

Here the goofy joo won losing guitar pick on the stage:lol:, he didn't feel embarrassed but laughed it off:smiley:

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7 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

That's absurd, How can one become intelligent without having proper diet? And food is very important for brain development, maybe they are linking with fast-food, since they addictive and have negative consequence on both mental and physical health:anguished:

 

I think this is a case where the interpretation says more about the audience than it does about the object itself - which is why I found two conflicting interpretations (i.e. either that the child will never go hungry or that the child isn't smart). So, in Park Si On's case, if, hypothetically, that's what he chose, I would imagine that his mom and his older brother wouldn't make much of it (his older brother might even think it's funny in that, "Yeah, he does eat a lot!" sense), but his dad...that's a different story. :( 

 

7 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

It is just for fun and it can also be interpreted that the child will have a care-free life :lol:,but I think such kind of ceremonies are taken not that serious these days, since kids have many other professions to choose from, like ranging from Vlogger to Youtuber

 

Of course - it's just for fun and I doubt anyone actually expects their child's future to be figured out so early. Still, it sounds like the fun sort of memory that parents and older relatives will continue to talk about as the child grows up, and might even be a possible topic for an ice-breaker.

 

7 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

I think he had also learned Gyeongsang Province dialect for his movie; Fatal intuition.

 

He did - and I've heard that he was praised for his attempts. :) 

 

7 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

Here the goofy joo won losing guitar pick on the stage:lol:, he didn't feel embarrassed but laughed it off:smiley:

 

Well, he is a stage actor ;) When mistakes happen, I imagine he learned to just laugh at himself and then keep going.

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This is really cute - I'm not sure what/where that background picture is from (all I can say for sure is that it's not fanart for one of JW's dramas), but it's really sweet when paired with this OST track from Good Doctor:

 

 

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2 hours ago, kittyna said:

This is really cute - I'm not sure what/where that background picture is from (all I can say for sure is that it's not fanart for one of JW's dramas), but it's really sweet when paired with this OST track from Good Doctor:

I think "Love Medicine" song is more soothing than "If I were" song, we can see the variation(like pace picks-ups) in the formal one but latter one sounds a bit repetitive:D. I think Joo won is the only artist cum musical actor to sing on KBS stage 2 times in a row, it was before K-pop fever, now you'll find lot of K-pop boy/girl group filling in the time for entertainment in award functions of KBS/SBS/MBS :)

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7 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

I think "Love Medicine" song is more soothing than "If I were" song, we can see the variation(like pace picks-ups) in the formal one but latter one sounds a bit repetitive:D.

 

"If I Were" is a pre-existing song, I think - the version in Good Doctor is just a cover. But I'm with you in preferring "Love Medicine" musically; it really showcases some of JW's distinct skills as a former musical theatre actor. There's this one long note there where, every time I hear it, I just end up going, "Dang...that's impressive!" :) 

 

My current favourite out of all of JW's OST tracks, though, is "I Believe" - again, because it showcases his voice really well. One thing I like about JW's voice/vocal technique is that he can sing high notes softly without it sounding breathy or hollow - like, he sounds really comfortable and in complete control of his sound when he's up there. I don't really know how else to explain it, but if you listen to JW's higher range in general, you'll see what I mean. ;) 

 

By the way, I know this most likely isn't what that original picture was for, but am I the only one who gets Nae Il + Yoo Jin vibes looking at it? Like, I know it isn't quite in line with what I imagine in my head (since my fics are set in Salzburg and the background is clearly Paris - not to mention that they do look a bit different and the piano I visualize in my fics is an upright rather than a grand), but...yeah, is it just me or do any of you guys see it, too?

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2 hours ago, kittyna said:

but if you listen to JW's higher range in general, you'll see what I mean. ;) 

Yeah, you are right, Joo won can sing any type of song ballad way, In an episode of 2d1n, he sang Apink debut song in ballad form, even though it was not meant to be . I guess his soft voice is key for him to sing any song in ballad way.

 

3 hours ago, kittyna said:

By the way, I know this most likely isn't what that original picture was for, but am I the only one who gets Nae Il + Yoo Jin vibes looking at it? Like, I know it isn't quite in line with what I imagine in my head (since my fics are set in Salzburg and the background is clearly Paris - not to mention that they do look a bit different and the piano I visualize in my fics is an upright rather than a grand), but...yeah, is it just me or do any of you guys see it, too?

But I just can't imagine Nae Il sitting still while Yoo jin being that close to her :lol:, anyway, the picture does give vibe of them, since in the series also we can see Nae Il is the one playing piano while Yoo Jin is stands by her and enjoys the music :smiley:

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I'll do replies and stuff later - because the collection of mini-fics is finally done :) 

 

Spoiler

Title: My Precious Child

Drama: Multiple 

Characters: JW's drama characters and their families

Premise: It's said that what a person is like as an adult is already visible when they are a child - and no one is more aware of that than their mothers. But sometimes, there are things even those mothers don't completely understand.

Warnings (listed by segment): Discussion of corporal punishment ("The Prince), and domestic violence/abuse ("The Dreamer"; "The Protector"). If any of these can be potentially triggering for you, please use whatever coping/grounding mechanisms you need before reading these segments - or skip them entirely.

 

Note on Ages: Since these mini-fics are set at different points in each character's life, note that the ages mentioned are in Korean reckoning. I will post a full legend in the "Author's Notes" at the end, but for now, just remember to mentally subtract a year to get the character's actual/biological/international age.

 

Once again, please do not re-post anything from this fic on any other site. If you wish to share it, just embed or post a link back to this site - thanks!

 

Spoiler

My Precious Child

 

The Prince

 

“Mwo?! Aren’t you ashamed to say that?! Were you not listening to a single word I said?!”

 

I shoot up, both hands slapping down on the edge of my vanity. Eomeonim’s shouting loudly enough even for me to hear her, all the way in my room – what must it possibly feel like for my son, who’s right in front of her?

 

Enough. Enough of this. I’m Ma Jun’s mother – I’ll deal with him myself!

 

She doesn’t let up in her tirade as I march resolutely down the stairs, going on and on about how my son’s attitude is an insult to the factory, its workers, and the customers who purchase our bread.

 

So what? My son’s only twelve years old. He’s still a child, so of course he’d think it boring to be dragged off to the factory like this every single weekend. And besides, what harm could a little eye-rolling or smirk do anyway? It’s not like he was making a mess.

 

Han Seung Jae is already standing silently by the bedroom door by the time I arrive. Recognition lighting up in his eyes, he comes up to me and takes me gently by the arm.

 

“Don’t interfere, Madame,” he says, steering me back towards the parlour. “You won’t make things any easier for Ma Jun like this.”

 

The sound of a switch whistling through the air and landing with a hard slap makes me snap. I fling myself free, glaring straight into his eyes.

 

“Manager Han,” I hiss at him, fighting to keep my tone clipped and formal. “You forget your place. I am the mistress of this household, and I will be the judge of what’s best for my son.”

 

He tries to grab me again, but a dismissive look down my nose stops him in his tracks. He knows that intervening would be crossing the line that we’ve drawn between ourselves as mistress and employee – and for the sake of our Ma Jun, neither of us could afford that.

 

Eomeonim freezes, her switch caught mid-air, when I throw open the doors to her room and step inside. Pointedly ignoring her protests, I head straight for my son.

 

“Come here, Ma Jun-ah; it’s alright.”

 

He doesn’t need to be told twice, bursting into tears as he runs into my arms as quickly as his smarting trembling legs would allow. “Eo-eomma,” he sobs, “Halmeoni, she….”

 

“Hush now,” I whisper soothingly, patting him gently on the head. “I understand. Go to your room, and forget everything that’s happened here; I’ll be with you in a moment.”

 

Only after Ma Jun has run out of the room, one hand roughly brushing away his tears, do I turn around to face my mother-in-law.

 

“Oho,” she harrumphs, a strange sound from a different time. “Is this how it’s going to be from now on? You think you can simply barge in here and do whatever you want now?”

 

“And what’s wrong with that?” I retort. “When it comes to the business, or how this house is run, I won’t interfere. But I’m Ma Jun’s mother: it’s my right to decide how to bring him up.”

 

“That’s the problem with you and your generation: stubborn, ungrateful, no respect for your elders whatsoever.” She glowers up at me. “You’re lucky I raised my son better than that. I raised him to value diligence and to appreciate the hard work of others.”

 

I sneer. “And to seek out a mistress when his wife had two daughters in a row.”

 

Her jaw drops. “Mwo?! How dare you–”

 

“Enough, Eomeonim!” I snap, deliberately pitching my voice into the shrill shriek that annoys her the most. “I did what you asked! I gave you a grandson! And if you only knew what I went through–”

 

I stop myself mid-sentence, cursing mentally at how close I’d come to blurting out my secret. Fortunately, my mother-in-law doesn’t appear to suspect anything as she launches into her response.

 

“So? You think conceiving a son is hard? Raising him is a hundred – ani, a thousand – times harder. Such behaviour is barely acceptable from a three-year-old, and our Ma Jun is twelve. If he can’t grow up and start thinking less of himself and more of others, he will be the one to suffer for–”

 

“Wake up, Eomeonim!” I shout, slashing the air between us with my hand. “That’s not the way things are anymore! The old ways might have helped you and your ancestors in times of hardship, but now” – I slap that same hand to my breast – “our country’s economy is booming. We have created a world where my Ma Jun-ie will never have to work a day’s manual labour in his life. And isn’t that even better?!”

 

Although she cries out in protest, I storm out of the room, stopping just long enough to catch my breath and pour a drink for myself before heading back upstairs.

 

Ma Jun has left his bedroom door wide open. From my place in the hallway, I can just make out his feet from where he has sprawled out on the bed: his muffled sobs telling me that, as is increasingly the norm after a spanking from his grandmother, he’s retreated here for a good cry. Seated in a chair at the foot of the bed, his father is speaking to him as he carefully applies ointment to the angry red welts streaked across the backs of his legs.

 

“It’s good of you to be proud, Ma Jun-ah; but sometimes, you need to compromise as well.”

 

I step closer, although still remaining out of sight. As Ma Jun’s mother, I have the right to know how his father teaches him.

 

My son lets out a whine. “Waeyo?”

 

“Never lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s alright to lose a battle here and there if it helps you to win the war.”

 

I hear rustling from the bed: Ma Jun sitting up again in surprise. “But I don’t want to! You know how Halmeoni treats me, Ahjussi: she’s cruel and wicked and has been for as long as I can remember. Why should I have to put up with that?” A pause. “Why do you put up with stuff like that?”

 

There is a long silence before Han Seung Jae answers. “Because, Ma Jun-ah, that is simply my lot in life. Your father is my boss, and that’s how it will always be. But you’re different. You’re the eldest son–”

 

“The only son.”

 

“Geu rae. Arasseo. The only son, then – and because of that, you stand to inherit the business when you grow up. Once that happens, Ma Jun-ah, then you’re right: you won’t have to put up with this sort of treatment from anybody. But until then, you must remember to do everything you can to maintain that position.”

 

Ma Jun sniffles. “But, Ahjussi, you just said–”

 

“Don’t assume that just because you are the heir now that you cannot become disinherited in the future. If you cannot please both your father and your grandmother, they are within their rights to pass on the company to someone else. And that’s not something you want, is it?”

 

There is a long pause before he agrees. “Mm.”

 

“Remember: you cannot let a short-term award such as keeping your pride get in the way of the bigger long-term prize.” My son’s father places a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I will do everything I can to help you win your rightful place, but you must cooperate and accept my advice. Arasseo?”

 

I can’t see my son very well from here, but from his response, I assume that he nods. “Ne, Ahjussi.”

 

Thus satisfied, his father finally takes his leave, nodding respectfully in my direction on his way downstairs. “Go to him, Madame,” he whispers softly as he passes. “He was asking for you just now.”

 

I turn to watch him go, one hand idly resting against my stomach, where I know my womb to be. Then, once the coast is clear, I head inside, brushing away my son’s tears as he leans into my embrace. “Gwenchana, Ma Jun-ah; I know how tough it is for you. Just wait a little longer, and then everything will be alright.”

 

As he nods, I let my eyes wander around his room, filled to the brim with every single toy and luxury that money could buy. And, if his father and I have our way, this is only the beginning.

 

The queen and the minister, grooming the impressionable young prince for the throne. Some of the old ways seem to have survived after all.

 

The Helper

 

“Ya, Maknae-yah – cut that out, you’re making a mess. Look at how neat your brother is.”

 

Tae Pil freezes, his white starch-covered hands just inches apart. Lips pressed together sheepishly, he glances cautiously at me, then at Tae Hui beside him, who’s still busy carefully spreading a thin layer of the stuff on the table. For a second, it looks like he’s actually going to obey, but then, as always, he lets loose again, clapping his hands repeatedly. “But Eomma!” he says, crowing with laughter, “It’s snowing!”

 

The sudden cloud of starch in the air startles Tae Hui. He turns towards Tae Pil with a visible jolt, staring wide-eyed as the white powder lands in a light covering over both of them. As Tae Pil giggles, ignoring my orders for him to stop, Tae Hui looks carefully between his younger brother and the starch in front of him. Then, to my astonishment, he carefully presses both hands down on the table, coating them completely before giving a single resounding clap.

 

Tae Pil’s giggles turn into a shriek of laughter as I gape at the new troublemaker. “Ya, Hwang Tae Hui,” I gasp, reaching across the table to deal him a teasing flick on the forehead. “Not you, too – what will your Halmeoni say?”

 

“Gwenchana, Tae Sik’s mother,” my mother-in-law replies, still stirring the rapidly thickening glutinous rice mixture without even skipping a beat. “What young boys don’t enjoy making a mess every now and again?” She looks pointedly at them. “As long as they’re willing to clean up after themselves, let the little monkeys have their fun.”

 

Tae Hui nods in silent agreement, one hand still pressed to his forehead, but Tae Pil pipes up. “Silly Halmeoni, we’re not monkeys. Hyung’s born in the year of the dog, and I’m a piggy.” And like most five-year-olds, he immediately starts oinking to prove his point.

 

His older brother looks him over, pouting slightly with how deeply he’s thinking. “But you can’t be a pig, Tae Pil-ah – you’re not fat.”

 

“I can be,” he chirps back, spreading his arms wide, “if I eat all this food!”

 

I let out a short laugh despite myself. “But I thought you said you wanted to help make this snack for Tae Sik and Tae Beom, though.”

 

Tae Hui bursts into giggles while Tae Pil’s jaw drops. “Oh. Right. I forgot.”

 

Every day, my mother-in-law and I spend some time after lunch to prepare an after-school snack for the older boys; and today, the little ones begged and clamoured to be allowed to help. Already, they had mashed the boiled red beans into a thick paste, passing the wooden spoon between them, and chosen the colours – green for Tae Hui and yellow for Tae Pil – they wanted for the finished rice cakes. Now, as I stir in sugar to sweeten the red beans, my mother-in-law passes each brother his bowl of coloured glutinous rice dough.

 

Tae Pil touches his hand to the surface, Tae Hui rapidly following suit. My youngest’s eyes widen as his spread fingers sink softly down into the dough. “It’s comfy!”

 

“You need to shape it while it’s still warm,” the boys’ grandmother answers, guiding them to scoop out the sticky dough onto the starch-covered surface and press it into a square with a rolling pin. Then, as she cuts each sheet into even smaller squares, I send both boys to wash their hands before setting them to rolling scoops of the red bean paste into balls.

 

“Halmeoni,” Tae Hui says as he works, “can you tell us a story?”

 

Their grandmother nods, launching into a classic folktale about an old woman who grows red beans on her little farm in the mountains and the tiger who wants to eat her. It’s a familiar story, and one of the boys’ favourites; even as they nestle each red bean paste ball into a rice cake wrapper and shape it into balls, they add all the usual commentary and sound effects: curling their fingers like claws and roaring like the tiger; bursting into giggles as the old woman is helped by a whole series of random objects – including, much to the amusement of little boys everywhere, a piece of dog poo.

 

“And so, boys,” she finishes, “what’s the moral of the story?”

 

For once, Tae Hui actually answers first. “When we all work together, we can do anything.”

 

“Mm!” Tae Pil chimes in. “Like when our hyungs help us get things we can’t reach. Or” – he points back and forth between Tae Hui and himself – “when we help each other tidy up after playing cars.”

 

As Tae Hui nods, I smile fondly at both boys. It’s hard to believe that Tae Hui has only been with us for just over a month, the two of them have become so close. Sure, they have their squabbles over toys or our attention like most small children do, and Tae Hui still tends to sneak out of their shared bedroom to sleep with me or his grandmother instead. But he no longer cries himself to sleep like he did those first few nights, and finally seems to be getting used to calling me “Eomma”.

 

The social worker who’d helped us formalize the adoption had told us that children Tae Hui’s age were resilient: easily able to adapt to a new environment. And as I watch these two youngest sons of mine, my heart grows warm at the thought that she was right.

 

The Survivor

 

“Slow down, Kang To-yah; you’ll choke if you keep going like this.”

 

My son nods, unable to do much else with his mouth stuffed full of food. He carefully chews and swallows before moving on to the next spoonful, but doesn’t actually slow his pace as he wolfs down his breakfast.

 

“Aigoo,” I chide him softly, reaching over to pat him on the back. “Why the rush this morning? Your shift doesn’t start for another hour, at least.”

 

The sky outside of the window is still dark; my youngest son has risen at the crack of dawn, preparing our firewood for the day before slipping into my room to eat in order not to wake up his brother.

 

“There’s this old couple,” he says, his words muffled, “who live in this house near the depot. I don’t know if it’s because their children have moved out or they never had any to begin with, but every time I pass by on my way to work, it’s just the two of them. It’s hard watching them struggle to complete all the chores on their own; so starting this week, I’m heading over before my shift to help out where I can.” A small smile creeps onto his face. “If everything goes well, I might even make some extra cash while I’m at it – of course I know better than to ask them directly, but with Hyung’s tuition costing so much, every little bit helps.”

 

Kang To scrambles up from his seat, just remembering to thank me with a bow from the waist before racing back to his own room. Seconds later, he emerges, wearing a quilted jacket against the early morning chill, the bag he uses to carry his rickshaw driver’s uniform slung loosely on his back.

 

As he sits down on the edge of the veranda, pulling on his weather-beaten rubber shoes, I crouch down beside him. “Are you sure you’ll be alright?” I ask, gesturing down at his feet. “I wish you’d let me get you some new ones, Kang To-yah; these are all worn out.”

 

He smiles. “Gwenchana, Eomeoni. They should hold up for a while longer – besides, Hyung’s are even worse, so if you really need to treat someone, it should be him.” Then, after a quick kiss and wave goodbye, he’s gone, heading off for another day at work as usual.

 

What his father, my late husband, would think to see our youngest like this. In all the years we were together, he had insisted that both boys be properly educated: even if any chance at real power or influence now only came by collaborating with the Japanese, it was our duty as the last remnant of one of Joseon’s old yangban families to maintain the sophistication of our ancestors.

 

But that was before we lost him to assassins disguised as raiders on our way to a new life in China. That was before our sons were forced to grow up overnight; before they worked together to help us survive the long circuitous wilderness route we took back to Kyungsung; before, lest we be discovered, I changed their names, drilling into them our new identities as ordinary village folk seeking our fortunes in the capital.

 

With the small amount of money I earned selling food at the local market, I could afford to send one of them back to school – but only one. Both boys had been disappointed when I’d told them this; and to this day, I don’t know what they discussed between themselves that night in their room. What I do remember, however, is how they appeared for breakfast the next morning with their minds already made up: Kang San, who’d already had several years of high school under his belt, would go on to university as soon as we’ve saved enough, whereas Kang To, fourteen years old and only finished primary school, would stay home.

 

That was a year ago, and by now, all three of us have adjusted to the new rhythm of our lives. Income has been steadier since Kang To – only fifteen, but tall and fleet-footed for his age –found a position as a rickshaw driver; but even before then, he’d busied himself at any small tasks or odd jobs that he could find. So already, while I am loath to admit it, I’ve gotten used to seeing him less and less with each passing day.

 

Tonight is no different; by the time Kang To comes home, the sun is already starting to dip below the horizon. He returns his brother’s call with his characteristic grin, scrambling up onto the veranda just as I emerge from the kitchen with our dinner.

 

No sooner have I set down the tray, however, do I let out a loud gasp: “Ya, Lee Kang To…what happened to you?”

 

His feet are filthy, darkened with dust from the road outside; but even more than that, the soles are spotted with blisters, some of which have already begun to crack and bleed.

 

“Joesonghaeyo, Eomeoni,” he answers sheepishly, eyes drifting to his shoes, tossed haphazardly on the ground. “I…I guess they did give out after all.”

 

As Kang San fetches a basin of water for him to wash his feet, I carefully inspect the shoes. Already worn thin to begin with, the part of the sole that ought to have supported the balls of his feet have been completely sloughed off, leaving two matching holes in their wake. And they must have done so rather early, too, or else my youngest wouldn’t have resorted to just going barefoot instead.

 

Had these been the supple leather shoes like the ones we had back then, I might still have been able to do something with them. But the cheap rubber these were made of has grown hard and brittle over time, small pieces flaking off in my hands.

 

There’s no saving them at this rate; it looks like Kang To will be the first one to get a new pair of shoes after all.

 

My youngest guiltily avoids making eye contact with me as, finally cleaned up, he rejoins us at the table. He avoids my questions about the shoes, launching instead into a series of anecdotes: first about the old couple from this morning, and then about the customers he ferried around the city.

 

The stories are lighthearted and funny – the same sort that he’d used to regale us with during happier times – but Kang San and I both know the darker truths he is trying to hide. Many of the wealthiest and highest-paying customers are Japanese officials and their cronies; while Kang To jostles for their business like all young rickshaw drivers do, he’s no stranger to the subtle sneers and snide remarks some of these clients make, the Joseon people serving them worth little more than the dirt beneath their feet.

 

Still, as Kang To finally presses the purse full of his earnings into my hand, along with a solemn promise to take better care of his belongings in the future, I find myself unable to tell him the truth: that I know what he actually feels, and that the knowing breaks my heart.

 

The Jester

 

Calm soothing string quartet music flows out from the speakers. I lower myself into the easy chair with a contented sigh, the place where I’d left off in my book already marked by my thumb.

 

At last, there is finally some peace and quiet in this house....

 

Twang!

 

The sudden noise jolts me right out of my thoughts as a bright yellow object flies past me, just barely missing the chair before landing on the couch. Biting back an exasperated sigh, I cross over and pick up the small foam dart before rounding on the culprit.

 

“Ya, Han Pil Hoon – jinjja?!”

 

Completely unfazed by my expression, my son continues to laugh loudly from his spot in the entryway, his toy dart gun raised triumphantly in the air. “Did you see that, Eomma? Did you see that?” he crows, pointing towards the couch. “I got the bad guy!”

 

I give the eponymous “bad guy” – a decorative throw cushion – a careful sideways glance. “That’s great,” I sigh, “but what did I say about playing with that gun indoors?”

 

Finally, Pil Hoon looks chastened. His smile melts from his face as he nudges one foot sullenly on the floor. “‘Not in the living room,’” he mumbles, “because I might break something.”

 

“Not to mention,” I add, raising a wry eyebrow, “‘not before you’ve finished your homework.’”

 

He pouts, marching several paces into the room. “Aw, Eomma!” he whines, throwing himself face-down onto the couch with a groan. “I don’t wanna do no silly math homework – it’s boring, and you never see James Bond doing something boring. He’s too busy fighting bad guys and saving the world!”

 

I fight back the urge to smile at my son’s usual melodramatics. James Bond most certainly did have to do his math homework when he was younger, I nearly retort, only stopping myself when I realize that, at just seven years old, Pil Hoon’s probably still too young to realize that all the adults around him were also children once.

 

Instead, looking down at my son, his face buried in his folded arms, I try a different tactic: “Is your homework really that hard?”

 

He nods glumly.

 

“Well,” I say, shrugging even though I know he probably won’t see it, “I guess that’s it, then. I doubt the NIS is going to take a recruit who gives up just because he can’t do his sums….”

 

In an instant, Pil Hoon bolts off the couch, eyes and mouth wide open. “Aniya, Eomma!” he blurts out earnestly. “I’m not a quitter like that – I’ll show you!” He scampers off, his voice echoing back down the stairs as he returns to his room: “Look out, stupid math – Agent Han’s coming to get you!”

 

I stay where I am, half-expecting my son to come rushing back in at any second, too captivated by his game to actually get started; but when several minutes have passed with no sign of him, I finally return to my spot with a sigh of relief.

 

Once I have finished the chapter I was on, I stop the music and make my way slowly up to my son’s room. Knowing him, it’s likely that, despite his promises to the contrary, he’s already left his work behind in favour of some new mischief.

 

But to my surprise, he’s still there: sprawled on the bed with his workbook laid out in front of him. His brow is furrowed as he stares down at the page of math problems, twirling his pencil deftly with one hand. He mutters softly to himself as he works, making me draw closer in order to make it out.

 

“Come on, Pil Hoon-ah; you can do it. Bbali, now – we’re almost outta time.”

 

Carefully, I sit down on the edge of the bed beside him, but I wait until he has written down his response before making myself known. “What are you ‘almost out of time’ for?”

 

He looks up at me with a grin. “These are codes, Eomma – I have to solve them before time runs out or this whole place will go ‘Boom!’”

 

I offer him an indulgent smile, reaching down to ruffle his hair. “Really, now?”

 

“Well…not ‘really,’” he answers, tilting his head sheepishly. “But thinking that makes it funner.”

 

“‘More fun,’” I correct him, playfully pinching one chubby cheek for good measure before standing up. “Can you finish the rest on your own? Your father will check over the answers when he gets home.”

 

“Ne!” Pil Hoon chirps brightly. He turns back to the task at hand, but then looks back up at me. “You won’t tell Appa, will you, Eomma?” he asks in a stage whisper. “About the codes and stuff? I know Appa always says I’m being silly, but it really does make homework more fun.”

 

I touch a finger to my lips, smiling when he copies my gesture. “Don’t worry; this’ll be our little secret.”

 

Satsified, my son smiles at me, finally hunkering back down to his work as I leave the room. No sooner have I stepped out into the hallway does he resume his running commentary from before: babbling excitedly about a new booby trap that needs to be dismantled with the answer to the next math problem.

 

I allow myself a tiny indulgent smile. Pil Hoon’s father might not approve of his only son and heir’s dreams of spy movies and joining the NIS, but it certainly has its uses.

 

The Dreamer

 

He’s still got the cage with him.

 

Even though we lost his pet rabbit a long time ago, Si On continues to carry the empty wooden cage with him everywhere he goes. He keeps it on the floor under his desk when he’s at school, and sits alone with it in a corner of the yard while the other kids play outside. He places it beside his pillow every night and, without fail, brings it with him to his regular weekend visits to the clinic.

 

Normally, Si On makes his way here all by himself – as long as he gives the other kids a wide berth, he can play and wander alone without any trouble – but I’ve chosen to accompany him today. Because, really, I want to know.

 

After I’ve explained the situation to Dr. Choi, he glances past me to the waiting room where Si On is reading by himself, then back at me with a warm smile. “There’s no real need for concern, Eomeonim. Most young children go through a phase of imaginative play like this.”

 

“Arayo,” I answer. “But he’s already eight – shouldn’t he have outgrown this years ago? I mean, even his brother–”

 

I stop myself mid-sentence, swallowing the lump that’s risen up in my throat. Noting my distress, the doctor’s smile widens slightly as he lays a reassuring hand on top of mine. “Gwenchana; I understand. All of us who knew young Si Deok are still mourning his loss right now – and that includes Si On.”

 

“But then,” I protest, “why doesn’t he cry? Why doesn’t he talk about his hyung or say he misses him? Even those classmates who dared them to explore that old mine shaft in the first place did that at the funeral; but Si On, he…he just sits there. I try to explain to him what all this means, but he just stares off into space, making that strange sign” – I tap my hand against my chest in imitation of the gesture – “with his hands.” I throw my own hands up in a helpless shrug. “I don’t know, Seonsaengnim – how can I possibly help Si On if he doesn’t even understand me?”

 

All this time, Dr. Choi simply sits there, arms folded neatly on top of his desk. He waits for me to finish before giving me a direct level gaze.

 

“I understand how frustrating this is for you as a parent, but don’t let Si On’s idiosyncracies cloud your judgment of his character.” A small smile tugs at his lips. “I’ve had the pleasure of observing him constantly during these past several months, and I can assure you that while he may struggle to put it into words, he feels just as much as – if not even more than –a neurotypical child his age.”

 

Once again, he looks past me at my son, staying that way long enough that even I’m prompted to do the same. Si On has a large book opened on the waiting room table in front of him: one hand slowly turns the pages as the other lightly pats the top of the empty cage. The closed window of the examination room prevents me from hearing what he is saying, but from the way his lips move, my guess is that he’s reading the text out loud.

 

“Do you know what he’s reading?”

 

The doctor’s question makes me jolt; I swivel back around to face him, shaking my head. “I…I can’t say I do.”

 

Gray’s Anatomy: one of the key introductory textbooks for any medical student.”

 

I blink in surprise. “Ye?” After a moment’s hesitation, I ask, “Does he like the pictures?”

 

“That’s what I thought at first,” he answers. “But actually, Eomeonim, Si On’s reading it. Not only that, but” – he gestures to the anatomical model on his desk, a human torso opened up to reveal the internal organs – “using this, he can recount back to me what he’s learned.”

 

My mind goes completely blank. “I…I don’t understand.”

 

“What I’m trying to say is that while Si On’s social and oral communication skills are behind compared to his peers, his actual linguistic ability and spatial intelligence – for our purposes, his understanding of written language and visuals – extend far beyond. I am still working with him on his speech” – he waits for me to acknowledge Si On’s gradually improving enunciation with a nod – “but if you really wish to know how he thinks or feels, I recommend you let him tell you in his own way.”

 

Slowly, I nod again in understanding. “And how do I do that?”

 

Dr. Choi gestures to the waiting room. “Go and ask him about the notebook.”

 

So I do just that. It takes Si On a moment to notice my presence, and even longer for him to stop what he is doing. But then, at my encouragement, he reaches into a pocket in his shorts and pulls out a tiny spiral-bound book.

 

My Favourite Things,” I say, reading the label that someone – probably the doctor – has stuck on the front cover. “Are these all things you like, Si On-ah?”

 

He nods. “Ne.” He tries to explain, stuttering in his efforts to say everything clearly the way Dr. Choi is teaching him. “They…they help m-me…wh-when I am a-a-afraid.”

 

I smile, thanking him for his attempt, however halting or hesitant, to speak to me. “Can I read it?”

 

He nods again, returning to his own thicker book without another word. Slowly, I flip through the pages, each one showing a single word or phrase written in his clumsy childish script:

 

Ice cream that makes summer taste like winter

 

Bunny’s soft fur when I pet him

 

Wind blowing in the trees

 

Prickly grass and flowers that tickle me

 

All of these, I realize, are things from one of Si On’s favourite hiding places: the grassy hill overlooking our town. But then, as I turn to the next page, something changes.

 

Bunny coming to see me from Heaven

 

Hyung’s big warm hand

 

Seonsaengnim’s hands that make people feel better

 

The body’s systems working together to bring us all to life

 

Things that Si On would never be able to say aloud, he is able to express in writing. Some of the words are misspelled, and others are clearly painstakingly copied out from the books he’s read, but it’s all there.

 

And then, on the very next page:

 

Eomma’s heartbeat when she holds me tight

 

That same heartbeat now pounds in my ears as tears prick in my eyes. Quickly, before either Si On or Dr. Choi – who is still watching me closely from his office – can notice, I turn my face away, blinking them back with a shuddering breath.

 

I don’t get many chances to hold my son anymore; when I do, it’s usually to shield him from his father, the flying debris aimed at him striking me instead. Before the accident, Si Deok had taken charge of the situation, grabbing at his father and steering him away from us; but now….

 

If I could guarantee my son’s safety in the process, I would have filed for divorce a long time ago. But it’s not so easy: not when my husband is still the breadwinner – and not when I know, from similar stories in the news, that even the mention of leaving would push him over the edge.

 

I’ve thought long and hard about what I should do in order to keep my son safe. Seeing Dr. Choi’s deep understanding of Si On – so much deeper than my own – steels my resolve for what I must do next.

 

Forgive me, Si On-ah. I know you won’t understand. But for your sake, I have no other choice.

 

The Prodigy

 

Nearly ten minutes since I said that it was time for lunch, and still, rather than footsteps, all I can hear is the sound of the piano.

 

Looks like I’ll have to fetch him myself, as usual.

 

“Yoo Jin-ah…” I call out gently, sticking my head in the doorway to our living room. “Come here; it’s time to eat.”

 

“Ne, Eomma!” He answers me readily enough, but doesn’t even pause in his playing. At last, when he reaches the end, he slides down from the bench, making sure to carefully close the heavy keyboard lid with both hands before coming out from behind our grand piano.

 

“Eomma – did you hear that?” my son asks me, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he trails me back to our kitchen table. “I did it! I played the whole thing – with no mistakes!”

 

He babbles on about this new piece, chattering at length about its quick staccato and how, for once, the melody is in the left hand rather than the right, as I lift the lid off the pot of soup and ladle out his portion. “That’s great. But make sure you pace yourself, Yoo Jin-ah.”

 

“I will!” He pauses just long enough to eat a large spoonful of rice, then peers expectantly across the table at me. “When’s Abeoji coming home? I wanna show him.”

 

“Soon,” I answer noncommittally. “He’s flying back from Seoul next week.” Then, before he could say anything more, I add in a belated reminder not to talk with his mouth full and to focus on eating for the time being.

 

He looks suitably sheepish, shrinking in slightly on himself with eyes shifting to and fro. But soon, he shrugs off my admonishment and starts eating his lunch in earnest, finally silenced by my change of subject.

 

It’s strange.

 

I, too, was a pianist in my past life, and Yoo Jin’s father, Cha Dong Woo, is one still. But neither of us has ever been quite like this: so thirsty for music that he needs it as much as he does food or oxygen. While most five-year-olds can’t sit still for even a few minutes without fidgeting, Yoo Jin easily stays at the piano for hours at a time, and would probably sleep with his violin tucked in beside him if we hadn’t forbidden it.

 

But even more than that, it’s the rate at which he’s learning, all by himself, that frightens me. Take this new set of pieces he’s working on: Schumann’s Album for the Young. Without any formal lessons from his father, who’s currently on a two-week tour in Japan and Korea, he started attempting it on his own.

 

Already, after just a week, he’s made it to the eighth piece in the set – and when my Yoo Jin says that he’s playing without mistakes, he means it.

 

Is it something about him, or is it this place? After all, it’s not like any of us planned for Yoo Jin to be raised here in Salzburg rather than in Seoul, but that’s exactly what’s happened, ever since his father got his current contract two years ago. And music here is literally everywhere: even now, with our windows open to let in the breeze, we can hear the soaring sound of a violin coming from another apartment nearby.

 

No wonder, then, that even though he’s no longer talking, Yoo Jin bobs his head and sways slowly in time with the melody. A sharp rap on the table with my knuckles snaps him out of it, but within seconds, he’s back at it again, completely unaware that it’s even happening. So I leave him to it, resigning myself to his quirks with a shrug. At least he’s still eating.

 

“It’s so nice out today,” I point out when, finished his meal, Yoo Jin jumps down from his chair and starts to leave. “Let’s go for a walk.”

 

He rounds on me with a pout. “But, Eomma, I’m not done yet!”

 

“Your practice can wait.” Bending down to look him in the eyes, I brush back his hair, now just long enough to start curling at the ends, and kiss him gently on the forehead. “Right now, what you need is sunshine, and fresh air.”

 

Not to mention acting like a normal kid for once.

 

Fortunately, Yoo Jin has never been the sort of child who’d make a fuss; it’s only a matter of minutes before he’s trotting along beside me down the street.

 

There are crowds of tourists everywhere, today being a bright summer’s day, so Yoo Jin holds tightly to my hand, following me obediently as I stock up on groceries at our usual shops. He waves and smiles shyly at the shopkeepers and the occasional passerby who greet us, but is otherwise quiet, never clamouring for treats like other kids his age.

 

After several visits like this, Yoo Jin starts to yawn and rub his eyes. I scoop him up, carrying him as he buries his face in my shoulder, his arms clasped loosely around my neck. Time, it seems, for us to head back home for his nap.

 

But we are only about halfway there when we are met by echoes of a distant melody: a joyful bouncing tune on a French horn. Immediately, Yoo Jin stirs awake, turning his head this way and that to try to pinpoint the sound. Once he has found it, he points in that direction, speaking up for the first time in our excursion as he begs me to bring him closer.

 

In moments, we find ourselves in the Mozartplatz, where a single street musician stands at the base of the large monument in its centre. Accompanied by a backing orchestral track coming from the cassette player at his feet, he plays one of Mozart’s horn concertos for the crowd of onlookers who have gathered round.

 

Yoo Jin immediately starts to fuss, squirming in my arms until I relent and set him down. His earlier sleepiness entirely forgotten, he takes off, worming his way right to the front of the crowd. He watches the performance in rapt amazement; without any prompting, he begins to shift his weight between his feet, bobbing and swaying in time with the music as the horn player, eyes twinkling in amusement, also joins in.

 

The moment the piece comes to an end, it is like a dam has broken. As people break into applause, some stepping forward to toss change into the open case on the ground, Yoo Jin dashes right up to the performer, correctly naming the piece in his bright childish treble and – under our watchful eyes – reverently touching the horn’s smooth polished surface with one hand.

 

“Your son,” the man begins, flashing a smile at me, “is he musical?”

 

“Mm!” Yoo Jin answers, jumping in before I could. “I play the piano, and the violin. My daddy’s a musician, and one day, I’m gonna be one, too.”

 

The man’s smile grows into a laugh. “I’ll have to look out for you, then. What’s your name?”

 

“Yoo Jin,” he answers brightly. “Cha Yoo Jin. But I’m also called Wolfgang” – he points up at the statue – “like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.”

 

As the performer laughs again and wishes him best of luck in his studies, I take his hand, signalling that it is time to go. Yoo Jin accepts the handful of loose change I pass to him, dropping it in the case before waving farewell.

 

He skips along beside me, happily singing the melody from that concerto to himself. As we exit the square, I allow myself a quick backwards glance at the statue of Mozart, standing high up on its plinth.

 

You’ll have to be the one to watch over him, I pray silently to the composer, because I don’t know how.

 

The Protector

 

“Ahjumma!” Over the hiss of pressurized water from the hose and the roars of the gas stoves around me, I just manage to make out my manager’s voice. “Telephone!”

 

“Ne!” Turning off the hose and peeling off my gloves, I quickly ask the other dish washer beside me to hold the fort and make my way through the crowded restaurant kitchen to the front desk. Wiping my hands dry on my apron, I take the receiver from my manager. “Yeoboseyo?”

 

“Eomma!”

 

I blink in surprise. “So Hyun-ah?”

 

“Eomma!” my daughter bursts out again, her voice shrill. “You gotta come home – I’m scared!”

 

“Now, now, So Hyun-ah,” I chide her gently. “You know I can’t; I’ve still got work to do–”

 

“Appa’s home!”

 

“Mwo?!” My outburst startles my manager, so I quickly turn my face away, cupping one hand to the receiver to muffle my voice. “Where are you right now?”

 

“Downstairs,” she sniffles. “With the neighbours. But Eomma, Oppa’s still–”

 

She cuts herself off with a shriek at the sound of a sudden crash, followed by angry shouts from upstairs. “Bbali!”

 

So Hyun is unable to go on, bursting into loud sobs, so it’s my neighbour who continues the call. “Is this Tae Hyun’s mom?”

 

“What’s going on?” I ask, my own voice starting to tremble. “Where’s Tae Hyun?”

 

“He’s still upstairs.”

 

My jaw drops. “Mwo? Wae? I thought I’d told him that if anything happens while I’m gone–”

 

“He did,” my neighbour answers. “As soon as my husband saw the kids’ father coming, we sent word upstairs. Tae Hyun did come down with So Hyun at first, but….”

 

“But what?”

 

“He only stayed long enough to drop her off, then ran back up.” She lets out a sigh. “I don’t know why exactly, but he said something about a coinbox….”

 

The coinbox. Of course. But my son’s already fourteen years old; surely he’d know better than to do this by now.

 

“Arasseo,” I gasp out, struggling to sound calmer than I actually feel. “I know what this is about. Keep an eye on So Hyun for me; I’ll see what I can do.”

 

Adding in a quick word of thanks, I hang up the phone and turn to face my manager, standing by the register with her arms crossed in front of her chest. “Joesonghamnida, sajang-nim,” I say, bobbing down in a deep bow from the waist. “My kids are home alone by themselves, and there’s been some sort of accident.” I bow several more times. “You – you can take it out of my pay if you want, and I promise I’ll be right on time tomorrow, but–”

 

She stops me with a wave of the hand and a faint smile. “Gwenchana. Just go – I’m a mother myself.”

 

Thanking her profusely, I pack up my things and hurry home as fast as I can, using all of my change to hail a taxi. Usually, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to splurge like this, but this time, I can’t afford not to. Not when my child is the one at stake.

 

It wasn’t always like this. True, the children’s father had always been gruff, but he never used to go beyond a normal spanking for misbehaviour. But that was before the financial crisis. Before he lost his factory job. Before he met the loan sharks, and before he met the gang, with its false promises of quick and easy wealth.

 

Sure, he makes more now than before as a nightclub bouncer. But with his drinking and his gambling, he barely brings any of it home – there are even times, like tonight, when he’s lost so much of it that he comes home to raid our stash instead, leaving the children and I scrambling to pay the rent with what little we have left.

 

The situation’s only gotten harder ever since the accident. I know it wasn’t anyone’s fault: what Tae Hyun did last year was wrong, but it was an honest mistake and his heart was in the right place. Yet with So Hyun’s medical bills on top of everything else, it’s also true that we’re even further in debt than ever before and my husband even angrier.

 

He’d never touch So Hyun. With her poor health, that much is clear. But Tae Hyun’s different – it’s Tae Hyun that he blames for all of our recent troubles, and it’s Tae Hyun that’s stuck alone at home with him right now.

 

My neighbour’s husband is already waiting for me at the entrance to our building when I arrive, along with, I notice with a sinking heart, two uniformed police officers, their squad car parked nearby.

 

I rush up to my neighbour. “How is he?”

 

His face sets in a firm grimace. “He’s fine; the coast is clear.” His voice drops down to a mutter. “We missed that gae saekkie, though – made a run for it before the cops got here.”

 

He tries to tell me more, but I squeeze past the trio and race up the stairs, unable to wait any longer. Their pounding footsteps follow me all the way up onto our rooftop terrace, where I finally stagger to a halt, taking in the shattered windows and the front door thrown wide open before racing inside.

 

I find Tae Hyun on his knees in the middle of our one-room apartment, struggling with one trembling hand to sweep up shards of broken glass into a pile to be thrown away. The metal coinbox – the one which we use to hold my cash wages from my several part-time jobs, and which he was desperately trying to protect – lies empty beside him, the large dent on its front clearly showing that it had been violently thrown in order to break the lock.

 

But it’s my son’s other hand, holding a reddened towel to his head, that sends a deep stab of guilt into my chest.

 

“Tae Hyun-ah!”

 

His head jerks up, startled at the sound of my voice. “Eomma–”

 

He doesn’t get another word out before I wrap my arms around him, holding him tight as, trembling, he finally bursts into tears. I feel a slight painful jab – a few stray shards of broken glass grinding uncomfortably into my knees through my pants – and he lets out a sharp hiss, hinting at the bruises forming underneath his clothes. But I refuse to budge, choosing to pull him in even closer instead.

 

“Gwenchana, Tae Hyun-ah, gwenchana,” I murmur softly to him, stroking him on the back. “You’re safe now.”

 

His grip tightens on my shirt. “So Hyun-ie?”

 

“She’s still downstairs,” I answer more firmly. “Your sister’s perfectly safe – because of you.”

 

That seems to calm him, as his sobs slowly subside and he pulls back out from my embrace with a shaky shuddering breath. Only then do I take the towel from his hand, carefully peeling it back to reveal a large smear of blood on his forehead slowly trickling down towards a swollen black eye. Swallowing back a curse, I accept the wet cloth my neighbour has already dampened with antiseptic from our first aid kit, touching it gently to the injured spot. Tae Hyun winces, but otherwise stays still, allowing me to clean off the dried blood and take a closer look. Fortunately, the scrape is small, only needing to be kept clean and covered with a bandage to heal on its own.

 

I step out of the way as the younger of the two police officers crouches down beside my son, an ice pack in one hand. As Tae Hyun holds it lightly to his face, the officer begins to question him about the incident, writing down his answers in a small notebook. The officer grows increasingly tense over the course of the interview, until, when he is finally done, he is unable to resist closing his book with a frustrated snap.

 

“Look, kid – I don’t know what the hell you’re thinking, but if you can’t be honest about who did this to you, then there’s nothing we can do!”

 

He shoots up and storms out of the room, just pausing long enough to mutter something in his superior’s ear on the way out. This older officer watches his partner go, then beckons for me to join him in the corner.

 

“Jeogiyo, Eomeonim,” he whispers. “When we got the call, your neighbours clearly stated that the boy’s father was beating him; but right now, your son is insisting that while they did argue, his injuries came afterwards, when he slipped and fell trying to tidy up.” He sighs heavily. “My partner is still too green to realize that victims of abuse might have legitimate reasons for remaining silent, but that doesn’t mean you two are without help.” Tearing out a page from his notebook, he jots down the contact information for a women’s shelter and passes it to me. “Should you two ever need anything, give this number a call. The folks there will be willing to help you, no questions asked.”

 

After the police officers leave, my neighbour calls back downstairs while Tae Hyun and I work together to sweep up the rest of the broken glass and right the upended pieces of furniture. As I pour the shards of glass into the rubbish, he sidles up beside me.

 

“Actually, Eomma: about the money….”

 

I stiffen and glance at him in surprise: the tone of his voice says everything. “Where did you hide it?”

 

“In the bathroom.”

 

Immediately, my neighbour hurries to fetch it, rummaging around for several minutes before finally emerging with a large wad of bills and the key to the coinbox, bound together by one of So Hyun’s hair elastics. He lets out a snort of laughter, shaking the handful of money in Tae Hyun’s direction before tossing it at our feet. “Kid, you’re a damned genius. How’d you even think of putting it there, at such short notice?”

 

As my son bites his lip to suppress a smirk, I turn to face my neighbour. “Wae? Where was it?”

 

Darting a quick questioning glance at Tae Hyun, he whispers the answer in my ear. My jaw drops and I round on my son, incredulous. “Ya, Kim Tae Hyun – jinjja?!”

 

He shrugs his shoulders, in that way that is universal to all young teenage boys. “I figured he’d never look there.”

“Ara,” I blurt out. “But still.”

 

Closing the gap between us, I reach out and cup the uninjured side of his face with one hand. “Michin saekkie,” I mutter softly, my teasing finally bringing a smile to his face. “But you did well; I’m proud of you.”

 

The Philosopher

 

‘When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers.’ That’s what Confucius said.”

 

I come to a stop, just steps into the courtyard, at the sound of my son’s voice. There he is, sitting with his father on the veranda attached to the main study: his favourite spot in the men’s side of our house.

 

My husband nods. “Good, Woo-yah. And why is that?”

 

“Because,” my son answers solemnly, “The Analects go on to say, ‘I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them.’

 

Slowly, so as not to disturb them, I make my way closer, carefully holding the tray so that the bowl of tonic in its centre doesn’t spill.

 

“And have you been doing that? In your lessons?”

 

“Ye, Abanim. I look up to my teacher, because he is older and wiser than me; and I am careful not to become a cheater like Park Chang Hwi.”

 

I force back a snicker when Woo mentions his classmate, but my husband looks grim. “You shouldn’t speak poorly of others when they are not around to defend themselves.”

 

“It’s true, though! Everyone in our class knows it: he’s always boasting about how he’ll get a good position when he grows up, but everyone knows it’s because his father’s rich enough to–”

 

“Enough, Gyun Woo,” my husband cuts in, his firm tone of voice brokering no argument. “Remember: ‘When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.’ I did not teach you these principles in order for you to use them against others; that may be how most people behave, but you should know better. Instead,” he adds, softening as Woo slumps in his seat, visibly chastened, “when you see others acting immorally, you should reflect on your own weaknesses so that you will not succumb to temptation.”

 

“I know,” my son answers. Although his back is to me, I can visualize his pout when he adds, “But it’s still hard.”

 

‘Is virtue a thing remote?’” his father asks, a warm smile on his face. “‘I wish to be virtuous, and lo!’” – he claps his hands to demonstrate – “‘virtue is at hand.’ So long as you desire to do what is right, my son, the way will always be clear to you in your heart.”

 

As Woo nods, his father’s lesson finally sinking in, I take this moment to approach them, carefully stepping up onto the veranda to set the tray down beside my son. “Come, now; it’s time for your medicine.”

 

Like most children, he makes a face, wrinkling his nose as he looks suspiciously down at the dark brown tonic. He opens his mouth to protest, but he is stopped by a pointed cough from his father.

 

“Listen to your mother.”

 

“Ye….” Reluctantly, he picks up the bowl; holding it close to his face, he sniffs cautiously, as though trying to guess which herbs I used to help him fight off the last traces of his recent cold. Then, after a deep breath to brace himself, he gulps it down; he grimaces and suppresses a gag at the tonic’s bitter taste, but finishes the entire bowl without complaint.

 

Once Woo is done, I switch his empty bowl for a piece of candied fruit. As he takes it with a word of thanks, slowly nibbling on the treat to make it last, I ask my husband about news from the palace.

 

“Her Majesty’s physician reports that she is in good health and her pregnancy is progressing smoothly.”

 

I lean in closer. “Was there anything else? Is it possible that we’ll have a young prince this time?”

 

“Of course we all hope and pray that this child will be a son,” he answers evenly, “but whether or not that happens is up to Heaven’s will.”

 

“And what about the rumours that–”

 

He shushes me, eyes darting towards our son, who I now notice has been listening attentively this entire time. “Their Majesties are under Heaven, and we as subjects are under them. We can only ever deal with the facts as they become available. Anything else is gossip and speculation, and has no place in respectable society.”

 

My son nods vigorously in agreement, the tails on his cap bobbing in time with his movement. Smiling indulgently, I reach in underneath them and give his long braid a playful tug. “Ye, ye, Gyun sabu-nim,” I chide him teasingly, “I understand. No need to add your bit as well.”

 

As he grins and squirms away from me, I turn back to my husband. “I am only asking because if we do end up with a Prince, he will eventually need tutors to teach him.” I drape one arm around my son’s shoulders. “We must start thinking ahead: our Woo should be old enough for consideration when that happens. After all, who else out of all the ministers’ families can say their son is ready to be presented at court at only ten years old?”

 

Taking my words as some sort of signal, Woo scrambles to his feet and launches into the recitation he is practicing to give before the King and his ministers. As first a scholar’s daughter, then a scholar’s wife, I can make out some words in the archaic language he is speaking, but trying to string them into phrases and sentences is beyond me.

 

My confusion must have shown on my face because once he is finished reciting, my son smiles gently down at me. “When we study,” he explains, “it is not enough to read and memorize the words of the text. Rather, we should open our hearts and focus our energy on understanding the intentions of the wise men who wrote them. Only when we have achieved understanding can we truly apply the principles and teachings of our ancestors to our own lives.”

 

He sits back down at his father’s approving nod, and even I reach across to give him an affectionate rub on the back. “Not only can you read and recite the ancient texts like a scholar,” I say proudly, “but you can also explain what you’ve learned in words that regular people can understand.” I look carefully at my husband. “It seems that our son’s destined to become the future Prince’s teacher, after all.”

 

“Teacher, minister, none of that matters,” my husband answers. “All I ask for is that our son can grow up to become a wise and virtuous man.”

 

“I think,” Woo adds, pursing his lips carefully in thought, “I’d like to be a teacher, though. Or a scholar. And I’d like to educate not just the nobles, but the common folk as well. The brush shop owner’s baby, for example, if it turns out to be a boy.”

 

As I bite back a laugh at his earnest expression, his father looks intrigued. “And why is that?”

 

“Because in order for Joseon to function, it must adhere to the Five Relationships: ruler to subject; father to child; husband to wife; elder brother to younger brother; friend to friend. If any of these lacks the knowledge and wisdom needed to live virtuously, then Joseon itself will fall to ruin.”

 

I give my son a playful nudge. “Even women as well?”

 

Woo’s brow furrows; clearly, he hasn’t thought this far ahead yet. “For you, Eomanim,” he begins tentatively, “and for my little sister, there are the Three Obediences: to your father before you are married; to your husband while you’re married; and to your son if you are widowed.” His voice grows more confident. “But if a woman’s father has read a thousand books yet is foolish and lacks virtue in his own life, how could she, as his daughter, learn what is virtuous? And if her husband is the same, then how could she raise her son to follow the right path?

 

“So, in truth,” he says, nodding thoughtfully at his own conclusion, “women are our greatest mirror.” He glances carefully at his father. “If Joseon lacks virtue as a nation, it will be in its women – who must look up to its men – where we see it first.”

 

Author's Notes (in "Hidden Contents" because of spoilers)

 

Spoiler

I have to say: this was challenging, but also a lot of fun, to write. I haven't done a collection like this before, and for some of the dramas, it's my first attempt at fanfic altogether. So while I can't promise that I'll do anything like it again anytime soon, it's no longer entirely off the table either :) 

 

With that in mind, here are the little extra behind-the-scenes tidbits I have for you:

 

1. Character Age Chart

 

I mentioned earlier that the characters' ages, when stated in the fic, were given by Korean reckoning. But for anyone outside of Korea, that makes their thoughts and behaviours a little harder to sort out (like, there might not be a huge difference between a 9 year old and a 10 year old, but there would be one between a 13 year old and a 14 year old, for instance).

 

So here's a quick rundown of all eight characters' ages: first in the original Korean reckoning, followed by the more familiar international reckoning in brackets:

 

Gu Ma Jun - 12 (11)

Hwang Tae Hui - 6 (5)

Lee Kang To - 15 (14)

Han Pil Hoon - 7 (6)

Park Si On - 8 (7)

Cha Yoo Jin - 5 (4)

Kim Tae Hyun - 14 (13)

Gyun Woo - 10 (9)

 

Yeah...it's a bit all over the place, I know. So if any of these depictions of childhood behaviour/speech/etc. are off, please forgive me - it's been a while since I was a kid myself, and I could hardly say I was conscious about how my peers or I sounded back then for future writing purposes :P 

 

2. Miscellaneous Fic-specific Tidbits

 

While the majority of these mini-fics are self-explanatory, there are a few where I want to give credit where credit's due. So, let's go!

 

The Helper

A full version of the story featured in this fic can be found here. Also, the actual red bean paste-stuffed rice cakes were inspired by the recipe video below:

 

 

The Dreamer

The idea of Park Si On writing things down as a coping mechanism actually comes from the drama I'm currently watching, Mother, where a young child uses this method to cope with an abusive parent.

 

The Prodigy

The piece that I mention Cha Yoo Jin playing on his own is this one: "The Wild Horseman" from Schumann's Album for the Young. While playing it might not be an extraordinary feat for a four-year-old in and of itself, self-teaching it could very well be.

 

 

As for the street performance, that was inspired by this promotional video put together by Salzburg's local government, featuring an excerpt from Mozart's second Horn Concerto. Mind you, it's far more streamlined than an actual busker's performance would probably be, but again, credit where credit's due ;) 

 

 

Finally, the throwaway comment about "sleeping with his violin tucked in beside him" was inspired by a character from one of my personal favourite music-themed movies, The Red Violin. It's the part about a young Austrian violin prodigy, Kaspar Weiss, for whom the violin is something of a security blanket (he's a sickly child in spite of his talents, and it's implied that being separate from his violin, even for a moment, gives him extreme anxiety).

 

 

The Protector

Not a tidbit, but a little game: where do you think Tae Hyun hid the money? I do have an answer in my mind, but I'd love to read your guesses, too ;) 

 

The Philosopher

I used this site for my quotes from The Analects by Confucius, and this one for the more archaic terms of address (e.g. "Abanim" instead of "Abeonim") that Gyun Woo uses. I know that JW uses the modern terms in the drama itself, but I just wanted to add that extra bit of historical flavour. :)

 

 

If anyone wants a master list of my K-drama fics, that is available under the "About Me" tab on my profile. Enjoy reading!

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22 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

Yeah, you are right, Joo won can sing any type of song ballad way, In an episode of 2d1n, he sang Apink debut song in ballad form, even though it was not meant to be . I guess his soft voice is key for him to sing any song in ballad way.

 

I'm not particularly knowledgeable on the subject, but I do remember reading in a long-ago post on this forum that musical theatre singing, ballad singing, and pop singing all use slightly different techniques. So, I remember from 1N2D that one style of singing that JW wound up being particularly good at was trot - it uses a similar degree of resonance and vocal projection as musical theatre. If you've ever heard him just break into his musical theatre voice in an interview or variety show - like when hosts ask him to sing a snippet from "This is the Moment" a capella - you'll know the sort I'm talking about ;) 

 

Example here - I started just a bit earlier so you also get his softer voice, too. 

 

 

22 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

But I just can't imagine Nae Il sitting still while Yoo jin being that close to her :lol:, anyway, the picture does give vibe of them, since in the series also we can see Nae Il is the one playing piano while Yoo Jin is stands by her and enjoys the music :smiley:

 

Or, that's the configuration I think they'd use to play a four-handed duet together ;) 

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16 hours ago, kittyna said:

Or, that's the configuration I think they'd use to play a four-handed duet together ;)

I think at some point Nae Il would start playing her own music and Yoo jin will get mad and start scolding her :lol:

 

16 hours ago, kittyna said:

If you've ever heard him just break into his musical theatre voice in an interview or variety show

His voice sounds very different when does that, even if I re-watch that particular scene I would still be surprised when I hear him saying "Gomoni" or "Emmoni":)

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2 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

I think at some point Nae Il would start playing her own music and Yoo jin will get mad and start scolding her :lol:

 

Oh, well, now you're just giving me ideas :tounge_xd: But in all honesty, I think they do reach their own equilibrium sooner or later - Nae Il knows that she can only take it so far with Yoo Jin before she loses him. And Yoo Jin does seem to end up taking pride in being able to match Nae Il's playing, no matter how crazy it gets.

 

2 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

His voice sounds very different when does that, even if I re-watch that particular scene I would still be surprised when I hear him saying "Gomoni" or "Emmoni":)

 

Yeah. And that's just him speaking loudly - he's not even yelling yet. Which, by the way, really does end up scaring me every single time in his dramas, especially if he just bursts rather than slowly building up to it.

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On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

Once again, please do not re-post anything from this fic on any other site. If you wish to share it, just embed or post a link back to this site - thanks!

Thanks a lot for this mother version of fan fiction:) It was heart warming to read through the mother's perspective, especially given that only 3 series like "BAKER KING,GOOD DOCTOR and OJAKGYO FAMILY", have show mother's perspective, that too in limited way. The mothers version in all the series were only used to further the plot, so this fan fiction was fun to read. :thumbsup:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Prince

This version was very related to the drama, but unfortunately they have already shown a lot in the drama about Ma jun's mother in series, so most the reading felt repetitive. :sweat_smile:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Helper

This was refreshing to read, since there were no scenes of younger version characters in this series and it was never explored the idea how joo won's character got close with the family and his mother:blush:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Survivor

This one showed the good side of Joo won's character and also his resilience nature before he turned into a oppressor. And also his relationship with his mother was also not well depicted in the series, it has mostly shown his love for his brother. It felt like seeing prequel of the Bridal Mask:smile:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Jester

This one made me laugh a lot and now I know that Han pil Hoon gets his comedic side from his mom:lol:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Dreamer

This one has teared me up, and it made me feel for si on's mom. Like she can only protect him from his dad if she leaves him. The part where she found out that si on's one of favorite thing was listening to her heart beat just made cry with joy:bawling:. This one is hands down my favorite version, the others are equally good, but here the relationship is bit complex to read and very relatable. :grin:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Prodigy

 

It was refreshing to know that Yoo jin was a child too, given his fuss character in the series only left me with an impression that he was always like that, now I can also imagine his child version:blush:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Protector

This version had also felt like child version of yong pal, like how he use to protect his mom and little sister from his abusive father:smile:

On 5/14/2020 at 9:22 PM, kittyna said:

The Philosopher

 

This version is cultural enriching and enlightening to read. Although Confucius spoke about family relationship and their importance to have a moral and happy society, he did not considered the gender perspective, which I think it is manifesting today in east Asia in the with high  gender gap politically,financially and status in family :cry: Given that the plot of "My sassy girl" starts with questioning the chastity of the queen, even though it very difficult for a queen to have an affair, she was accused and pronounced guilty without trial shows how biased the laws were in those times against women in such a way that even queen was not safe. :(

 

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Off topic- The king: Eternal monarch is officially flop, at least in south Korea:anguished:, I hope "Alice" does not meet the same faith, given that they both are aired on SBS :fearful:. On top of that "ALICE" did not released any official posters also, which point out that they are not doing enough on publicize the drama. I hope it'll pick up as the release date of the drama approaches :mellow:

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5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This version was very related to the drama, but unfortunately they have already shown a lot in the drama about Ma jun's mother in series, so most the reading felt repetitive. :sweat_smile:

 

Yeah. In terms of expanding on what was already shown in the drama, this one was the toughest: on the one hand, you have quite a significant amount of screen time showing Ma Jun as a child and his relationships with individual members of his family (even before Tak Gu shows up), but on the other hand...there isn't much, actually? Like, no-one's close to anyone else, and I got the impression that the same people argue over the same things on a nearly daily basis. Not the sort of environment where I'd want a child to grow up, but sadly rather realistic as well.

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This was refreshing to read, since there were no scenes of younger version characters in this series and it was never explored the idea how joo won's character got close with the family and his mother:blush:

 

I know - we see the one flashback when Tae Hui's mom disappears, and the rest are little throwaway comments here and there. So my focus here was just on the loving warmth of this family, since we do know that was there at least :) Plus, we also know that Tae Hui was the one who would (usually) stay out of trouble, such that his parents and grandmother later remember him as this perfect child who never acted up or cried. Yeah, no way is that realistic, so I just thought that that was his usual or normal state rather than a constant - hence the contrast between him and Tae Pil here.

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This one showed the good side of Joo won's character and also his resilience nature before he turned into a oppressor. And also his relationship with his mother was also not well depicted in the series, it has mostly shown his love for his brother. It felt like seeing prequel of the Bridal Mask:smile:

 

Because the tragedy of Kang To's dark turn is that it was initially motivated by his love for his family combined with his resilience/survival instinct. :(  He's willing to do anything to get his family the financial support they need, and it turns out he literally means anything. But we do get short flashbacks showing how close they all were before that point.

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This one made me laugh a lot and now I know that Han pil Hoon gets his comedic side from his mom:lol:

 

To be honest, I don't know much about Han Pil Hoon's mom at all. Because most of what we see of her in the drama that I remember was when she kept pushing him to start dating and to do something more practical with his life - yet she still does tease him affectionately in a way his father doesn't. Later, once he's grown up, I don't think either of his parents approve of his choice to join the NIS - but I figured that some leeway could be possible while he's little (since, hey: if it gets him to actually concentrate on his work rather than making mischief, then why not?).

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This one has teared me up, and it made me feel for si on's mom. Like she can only protect him from his dad if she leaves him. The part where she found out that si on's one of favorite thing was listening to her heart beat just made cry with joy:bawling:. This one is hands down my favorite version, the others are equally good, but here the relationship is bit complex to read and very relatable. :grin:

 

I'm glad you liked this one, since it was definitely a challenge to write. :) 

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

It was refreshing to know that Yoo jin was a child too, given his fuss character in the series only left me with an impression that he was always like that, now I can also imagine his child version:blush:

 

We do see a bit of what Yoo Jin was like as a child, and while he probably was very serious and proper at times, we do see that once it involves music...there's no stopping him. That's when we see him at his most talkative and mischievous: we see him literally sneaking into Sebastian Viera's rehearsal and he doesn't have any qualms against interrupting to point out that the violins were off-tune :P I did try to sneak his later workaholic nature into this snippet - it's just that for him, it's not work.

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This version had also felt like child version of yong pal, like how he use to protect his mom and little sister from his abusive father:smile:

 

To be fair, in the flashbacks, we mostly see Tae Hyun's mom shielding both him and his little sister, but I figured that that would only last until he's old enough to fight back. He does take on the role of head of the household really early on, and even his decision to downplay the abuse here, in my imagination, was done with that in mind: because they would still need his father's income (no matter how painfully it comes) in order to survive and you don't get that if he's in jail.

 

5 hours ago, kireeti2 said:

This version is cultural enriching and enlightening to read. Although Confucius spoke about family relationship and their importance to have a moral and happy society, he did not considered the gender perspective, which I think it is manifesting today in east Asia in the with high  gender gap politically,financially and status in family :cry: Given that the plot of "My sassy girl" starts with questioning the chastity of the queen, even though it very difficult for a queen to have an affair, she was accused and pronounced guilty without trial shows how biased the laws were in those times against women in such a way that even queen was not safe. :(

 

This one's actually my personal favourite out of all these snippets because, if you look closely, Gyun Woo's words at the end are meant to reflect back on the whole thing:

 

Spoiler

"But if a woman’s father has read a thousand books yet is foolish and lacks virtue in his own life, how could she, as his daughter, learn what is virtuous? And if her husband is the same, then how could she raise her son to follow the right path? So, in truth, women are our greatest mirror. If Joseon lacks virtue as a nation, it will be in its women – who must look up to its men – where we see it first.”

 

I did want to show Gyun Woo's later openness to the education (if not the emancipation) of women, but at the same time, this starts to hint at how he does end up believing the gossip about the Queen and all the stuff that happens as a result. But even more than that, it's worth taking this statement and looking back at all the mother-son relationships I wrote about here: you'll find that most (but certainly not all) of them succeed. :) 

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1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

Off topic- The king: Eternal monarch is officially flop, at least in south Korea:anguished:

 

Oh. But apparently it's really big online - or at least I see references to it on online news sites, Instagram, etc. constantly. Again, this is probably due to differences between Korean and international audiences.

 

1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

On top of that "ALICE" did not released any official posters also, which point out that they are not doing enough on publicize the drama. I hope it'll pick up as the release date of the drama approaches :mellow:

 

There are still a good number of dramas between now and when Alice airs, so chances are, it's just not its turn yet. Also, I think they're still filming (it appears to be a fully pre-produced drama), so there's likely still more work that needs to be done before official promotions begin.

 

I don't think we'll need to worry about there not being anything, though - since this is JW's comeback drama (albeit a year later than anyone initially expected his comeback to be!), SBS and Huayi Brothers, if nobody else, are going to make the most of it while they can.

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28 minutes ago, kittyna said:

Oh. But apparently it's really big online - or at least I see references to it on online news sites, Instagram, etc. constantly. Again, this is probably due to differences between Korean and international audiences

I don't think there is difference between offline and online audience, if they the audience in offline liked a series the online audience will also like it and vice versa, and on top of that offline audience feedback is more valued than online, as you can see "The Heirs" owes its success to offline audience, who gave a positive review which in-turn made the online audience to show interest in the series.

The online buzz is mainly due to leads past work and writers past  success, buzz is really easy to create online all they need is just few motivated fans to trend it(if you know what I mean, like fakes accounts with fake comments, saying I am from this country and all they talk about is this drama etc etc):expressionless:

Now the fans are doubting the ability of the audience to make series hit/flop, they had no problem when they got high ratings for series like "Boys over flowers, The Heirs and The legend of blue sea", now, when the rating of this drama is low, the fans are like "AuDience Are DuMb, They laCk tAste and ClaSs":expressionless:. I hope lead actor/actress are more mature than fans and take this as a critical feedback and try to improve they acting, rather than living in world like their fans; thinking everything is fine and fault lies with the public :sweat:

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1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

The online buzz is mainly due to leads past work and writers past  success, buzz is really easy to create online all they need is just few motivated fans to trend it(if you know what I mean, like fakes accounts with fake comments, saying I am from this country and all they talk about is this drama etc etc):expressionless:

 

I do - but I'm more reluctant than you to consider "fake accounts with fake comments". Maybe it's because I live in North America, but it's become such a knee-jerk reaction now (especially due to a certain American president) to say that anything you don't agree with is "fake" (e.g. bots, "fake news", etc.) that I'm really cautious about assuming that things people post (at least when it comes to matters of opinion rather than fact) are fake. 

 

What I do know - and it's been like this for as long as I've been in Hallyu - is that certain actors/actresses tend to just naturally appear in any social media algorithm related to K-pop or K-drama in general. Like, I have to actively search up stuff relating to JW, but there are tons of actors for whom pictures, updates, posts, etc. will automatically appear in my feed or recommendations on YouTube or Instagram or Pinterest. That tells me something about what computer algorithms, at least, have learned are "popular" among Hallyu audiences - whether that's due to bots or just a whole ton of uber-faithful fans like us (just for different artists) is not my place to judge.

 

1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

Now the fans are doubting the ability of the audience to make series hit/flop, they had no problem when they got high ratings for series like "Boys over flowers, The Heirs and The legend of blue sea", now, when the rating of this drama is low, the fans are like "AuDience Are DuMb, They laCk tAste and ClaSs":expressionless:.

 

Because (building on what I've just said), I've seen occasional comments like this from fans of JW's dramas, too. Things like, "Good Doctor is so great and actually has a good message, but all people seem to care about are cliché dramas like [insert name here] featuring the rich chaebol male and the candy female." Or "JW's acting is so much better than [insert name here], but fangirls are so dumb and shallow - they only like [insert name] because he's hot." While I can see the value in promoting the merits of an underrated drama or artist, I don't see why people have to take it that step further by comparing things or blaming the viewers.

 

I don't like that blaming the audience is such an instinctive reaction among fans, but since it is...to take a line from I just used in my fic, "When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves."

 

And I also know that this is exactly what JW doesn't like to see, so whatever happens with Alice, let's hope we can all do better than that.

 

1 hour ago, kireeti2 said:

I hope lead actor/actress are more mature than fans and take this as a critical feedback and try to improve they acting, rather than living in world like their fans; thinking everything is fine and fault lies with the public :sweat:

 

Well, if it's any consolation, JW does appear to be his own worst critic, as far as his acting is concerned. Even when everyone else is praising him, he'd still be going, "Okay...but this here could have been better, and I could have done it more sensitively there...and maybe I overdid that facial expression there, but that's really what people look like when they're upset, and...."

 

lol - You get the idea ;) 

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36 minutes ago, kittyna said:

Well, if it's any consolation, JW does appear to be his own worst critic, as far as his acting is concerned. Even when everyone else is praising him, he'd still be going, "Okay...but this here could have been better, and I could have done it more sensitively there...and maybe I overdid that facial expression there, but that's really what people look like when they're upset, and...."

 

lol - You get the idea ;) 

True that!! He is never satisfied with his performance, be it in musical or acting, he always says he could have done better and I agree with him. He needs lot of improvement in his comedic timing and while he portrays antagonist characters well, still it feels like he was not acting to his potential.

43 minutes ago, kittyna said:

And I also know that this is exactly what JW doesn't like to see, so whatever happens with Alice, let's hope we can all do better than that.

Yeah, I too hope we can react in a measured way, even if the series goes south. I do think I'll be able to write a critical review, if the series doesn't do well and I certainly not kind of fan to defend the series just because joo won is in there. I will also try not to blame writers ans editors, because no matter how bad story line or direction a series have, the leads acting should at least be able to portray character in convincing way, just like kim hee sun does, while series "Angry Mom" had predictable story line, her acting saved the series from being disaster and won few awards also. I hope Joo won's acting can match up to hers:sweat_smile:

52 minutes ago, kittyna said:

Because (building on what I've just said), I've seen occasional comments like this from fans of JW's dramas, too. Things like, "Good Doctor is so great and actually has a good message, but all people seem to care about are cliché dramas like [insert name here] featuring the rich chaebol male and the candy female." Or "JW's acting is so much better than [insert name here], but fangirls are so dumb and shallow - they only like [insert name] because he's hot." While I can see the value in promoting the merits of an underrated drama or artist, I don't see why people have to take it that step further by comparing things or blaming the viewers.

I think the fan who was comparing "The Heirs and Good doctor" was just confused or had no sense of judgement. For starters, both the series were aired at different time slot, on top of that Good doctor finished before "The heirs", and both dominated their own time slots in their own network. While the "Good doctor" series went to win best drama award in Korean broadcasting awards, The heirs was a commercial hit and targeted audience were different for both the series. The sharp contrast between the two dramas can be seen in the way awards were won by them; Good doctor series was success because collective efforts all the characters in the series, while The heirs owes it's success to 4 to 5 main cast members, so the series "The heirs" ended up winning more awards than Good doctor, but some of the awards were ridiculous, for instances, a award for best dress? What kind of effort one has to put in to win this award other than spending money for it:expressionless:

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  • Jillia changed the title to Joo Won 주원
  • partyon changed the title to Joo Won 주원 [Upcoming Movie "Carter" 2021]

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