First off – what’s with the repeated and constant speculation that Kyung Joon is Yoon Jae’s son? Please check the character chart before launching into such ridiculousness, because the dudes are twelve years apart. So unless we’re going into Kanon territory here, Yoon Jae didn’t impregnate a lady when he was 11 (plus the gestational 10 month, no?). I’m having so much fun loving Big because its turning into a giant mindfrak, though happily no one will turn out to be a Cylon. What we see confuses the eyes even as our mind feels the right connections. We see Da Ran and the body of Yoon Jae, but we feel Da Ran and the soul of Kyung Joon. Ottoke? Confusion all around, n’est pas? Imagine how Da Ran is going to feel pretty soon. The hands imagery continues in each and every episode, acting as a leitmotif for forming a connection. While memories and visual images can be unreliable and confusing, the emotional connection being formed between Kyung Joon and Da Ran is real and undeniable.
I worry about a lot of things, and now I’m starting to worry about the remote chance that a body switch back may leave neither Kyung Joon nor Yoon Jae with any recollection of what happened. That will destroy me, because Da Ran is already struggling with so many paradigm shifts in her life with respect to Yoon Jae. But if Big is about growing up for Kyung Joon, it’s similarly about waking up for Da Ran. Together they will form their own memories, with only the Hong Sisters knowing where they want all of this to go. I’ve translated a wonderful analysis of this drama from a poster on Baidu, which encapsulates much of what I’ve been thinking. And just for the heck of it, let’s take a poll on how you want this drama to end up. Baiduers have been polling for the last two weeks and the results are rather enlightening.
From An Angel’s Four Leaf Clover in Baidu Big bar:
I finished watching episode 1 and decided right there to follow this drama. I summoned my patience to let this story slowly unfold because of that green umbrella.
I read an essay once called “You are the edge of my dreams” and there was a particular sentence that stuck with me.
“I miss him. I finally met someone that made me want to grow up for him.”
When I was young I didn’t really understand what this meant. Until this drama – he met this woman, who has made him willing to grow up for her.
For a person to decide to mature, I don’t know how much conviction that requires, I don’t know how much strength that requires.
All I know is that when the 18 year old Kang Kyung Joon met the 26 year old Gil Teacher, it made him act out of sorts, it made him unable to help but be concerned about her and want to be around her.
He appears quite stubborn, towards his memories and experiences, and in the future towards Gil Da Ran. This stubbornness in love is what is truly moving, and is something to look forward to seeing between them.
When Kyung Joon was in Yoon Jae’s body, he told Jang Mari that Kyung Joon likes someone right now, he likes Gil Teacher. The first time on the bus, he followed her off and then later pretended to meet accidentally at the furniture store. This is likely not all true, but Mari correctly notes that Kyung Joon isn’t the type to hang around a person.
But the truth of the matter is, since episode 1, every time Kyung Joon ran into Da Ran, he notices her and engages her.
In the end, Jang Mari points out that Kyung Joon wouldn’t take a picture of just anyone, and that completely won me over as to the truth of this story.
What Kyung Joon revealed to Mari may have been to get her to give up on Kyung Joon, but it turned into a revelation of sorts.
The memories he made with Da Ran, every little bit he remembers.
Yes, he noticed her from the first moment he saw her. It may not be love at first sight, but she captured his interest.
The way he looks at her, his eyes shine with a myriad of emotions.
That is love planting its seed and blossoming. Like Dokko Jin said in Best Love, a potato plant when it sprouts a flower becomes an incurable poison.
The way this drama will unfold is very clear. The best writers typically have the male and female leads pair up, and the others are there just to fill in the gaps.
Like the perfect-on-paper Dr. Yoon Pil Joo in Best Love, or Dong Joo Teacher in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho.
The Hong Sisters second male leads are always eye catching, but always fulfill their duty and then lose out. It gets too messy if the love pairings aren’t clear.
It doesn’t matter if Yoon Jae has a good explanation for what he’s done, the truth of the matter is, Da Ran has been hurt by what he did. Every time he made an excuse for why he couldn’t spend time with her, he’s hurt her. In the end, this will become the reason they won’t be together.
I think that as the story progresses, Kyung Joon will become more and more mature, more and more considerate, and he will affect his Gil Teacher more and more.
At that time, Kyung Joon will have matured for Da Ran, and he will have some of his youthful mischievousness but added to it the maturity of a man she can potentially bet the rest of her life on.
This is probably where he wins out over the already mature but reserved Yoon Jae. I think Da Ran will struggle with their age difference and status, but I believe in the end Kyung Joon will end up with the girl.
The story we are watching, all the little memories being formed, that’s Da Ran and Kyung Joon’s love story.
So if I may be so bold as to postulate about the ending: They will once again meet in the rain, years later. He will hold an umbrella over her again, and this time it won’t be a mistake.
While I’ve posted a poll below about possible endings for Big, I want to take a step back from the urge to get confirmation on that point. Lee Min Jung said at the press conference for Big that this drama is about a boy and his first love. What that means for the ending remains nebulous, as first loves can either leave a beautiful memory or go all the way.
What I want to talk about is the theme of “growing up” in Big. When people grow up, they become more self-conscious and reserved, wrapping emotions into situations and circumstances. If we’re sad, we try not to start bawling in public; if we’re ecstatic, we don’t hoot and holler on the spot. We become “behaved”, and with that comes pretense and restraint.
Yoon Jae epitomizes that, a man who internalizes so much, to the point that he’s become literally a cipher in the drama for others to talk about him so that the viewers learn about him. He’s an adult, but contrast to the teenager Kang Kyung Joon, his behavior takes on the veneer of shadiness and results in misconceptions for everyone around him. Even Se Young thinks he wants to get back together with her because he kept her house key.
With the body switch comes a chance for a do-over for Yoon Jae, for Kyung Joon to turn Yoon Jae back into a child-like state where he says what he’s thinking. And in the process, Kyung Joon grows up by realizing that the adult world is complicated and he wasn’t all ready for it when he first returned to Seoul. But through his interactions with Da Ran, he gains the emotional understanding as to what matters to him. Namely, her.
Da Ran represents the dichotomy of an adult with an almost child-like perception of the world. Children typically only notice the things immediately around them, they don’t expand their sight to the radius that an adult would. Da Ran has been shown to be quite oblivious, and that’s the result of her focusing only on what she sees in her limited scope. It’s also what keeps her so naive, because if someone is being nice to her, she isn’t able to pierce beyond that into seeing the undercurrents of what may be lying behind it.
We see this through Da Ran’s obliviousness on the bus, and all the times she never once noticed Yoon Jae at the wedding. But get this – while she never once noticed Yoon Jae staring at her at the banquet, at least not until he ran into her, yet she noticed Kyung Joon staring at her on the bus. I find that yet another contrast, one which we can add to the hands moment (Yoon Jae missing grabbing Da Ran’s hand as she falls, while Kyung Joon succeeds in grabbing her hand on the umbrella).
So in the presence of Kyung Joon (in his own body and in Yoon Jae’s body), Da Ran is also growing up. She’s becoming more aware, like snapping out of her bubble and realizing the world around her isn’t so peachy perfect. Se Young isn’t just a friend of Yoon Jae, and Yoon Jae hasn’t been all that truthful with her on many things in his life. For a man to leave his fiancee with this many doubts and uncertainties, Yoon Jae has sure done a splendid (not) job in conveying his affection for her. I love that the first thing Kyung Joon ever says to Da Ran is “Uh oh, that’s not it” to her misconception that he followed her off the bus because he was interested in her, when in truth it was because she took his umbrella. So his presence is established from the get go of making Da Ran self-aware.
I find the interaction between Da Ran and Kyung Joon (and now Kyung Jae) so stirring. I’ve never liked the teacher-student trope (guy or girl as the teacher), and I don’t have a thing for noona-dongsaeng romances. But from the very beginning, I’ve never seen the two of them as teacher-student. Their first bus meeting was purely a guy-girl thing, and she even assumed he was interested in her. Subsequently, he uses banmal with her and calls her Gil Da Ran. Only when she insisted did he call her Gil Teacher. And what does Da Ran’s mom think of that moniker? She thinks Yoon Jae is calling her Gil Teacher as a love nickname because Da Ran is his love teacher. LOL! But oh so telling.
For Kyung Joon to have spent a few days at the school before getting into the accident, there is no real teacher-student dynamic at work here at icks me out. First off, the basic taboo on that relationship is on the betrayal and abuse of trust. A student is handed to the teacher who nurtures and mentors the student. To date is to breach that trust. Kyung Joon and Da Ran have not established that dynamic so their subsequent interactions don’t violate the teacher shall not prey on student creed. In many ways, Kyung Joon is the wiser one, and with that he has the upper hand with Da Ran. Similarly, Da Ran is the caring one who gives as much as she receives.
When watching Big, I find myself noticing all the little details and the hour does whiz by so fast I almost want to cry when it’s over. Then I realize that so much happened, and I happily go back and rewatch again and again to my hearts content. On the foreshadowing based on the mention of Turgenev’s novella “First Love”, where the 16 year old male lead falls in love with an older woman, who is later discovered to be in love with the male lead’s father instead, I think Big represents a mirror reflection of this classic Russian story. Just like the Big drama is about the switching of souls and identities, so too does the Hong Sisters subvert “First Love” and turns it into a happy ending story.
I still think Yoon Jae is Kyung Joon’s brother (full or half, doesn’t matter), and is the stand-in for the father figure in the novel. We see the story through Kyung Joon’s point of view, but instead of learning about the object of his affection being in love with a father figure late in the story, here Kyung Joon knows right off the bat that Da Ran likes Yoon Jae. This turns the story on its head so the element of surprise is eliminated, and instead Big is the story of the older woman mocking the younger boy while falling for him. Just my theory, of course, but I know the Hong Sisters wouldn’t have randomly mentioned a Russian novel for no reason.
This is the first time the Hong Sisters have given me a drama that I enjoy parsing the details and analyzing the character rifs and recurring symbolism. I don’t even mind the possible Kyung Joon-Yoon Jae may be related birth secret. I get the sense they have mapped out the story and know where they want to take it. I feel so strongly that Big is the love story between Kyung Joon and Da Ran because that is what is happening in real time. If THS pulls a course correction and has the two men switch bodies mid-way and then have Yoon Jae woo Da Ran all over again, that’s when we’ll get a bona fide fight on our hands. I wait with bated breath to see where they take this story.
Current Baidu voting has Kyung Joon at 79% and Yoon Jae at 18% with the remaining 3% undecided.
Current Baidu voting has Kyung Joon-Da Ran and Choong Shik-Mari as the ultimate end game leading on the voting.