Flower Boy Next Door continues to be so lovely in its simplicity. There isn’t a lot of story, there is really very little conflict, and in general the story revolves around a group of people going about their day. It ought to be boring but it isn’t. There little details and delicate touches fascinate me. I’m not crazy about this drama but that really isn’t a dig about its quality. Watching it is like spending time with an old friend – there isn’t much excitement in the unknown but there is plenty of enjoyment in the communication. I continue to love Enrique to the moon and back. What a great human being. I love his kindness, I adore his good humor, and I am warmed by his perceptive empathy. He may seem overbearing by the way he just barrels into Dok Mi’s life (and everyone else), but in truth his approach is very thoughtful and considerate. I could see him becoming friends with everyone who needs a friend like him and enriching their lives with his bubbly presence. He doesn’t feel like a plot device, he comes off as three-dimensional in his own special way.
This episode saw some genuine forward movement on Jin Rok’s storyline, which him confessing that he’s the milk carton post-it guy to Dok Mi. I’m starting to get curious about his background and why he changed his name from Oh Jae Won to Oh Jin Rok. I hope it’s not some usual chaebol heir cutting ties to pursue a lifelong dream trope. Tae Joon and Seo Young continue to put me to sleep (can they be cut from this drama and the time spent on Dok Mi and Enrique?), while I’m also not feeling much from the other two flower boys in Dong Hoon and Watanabe. The former is pretty dense and annoying and appears to function as a plot device for Jin Rok to reveal his thoughts, while the latter might as well as labeled “token scene filler” used to add another body to any scene. I feel like what is so touching about FBND is so very poignant, but conversely what’s so lacking in the other storylines and characters are so very empty. Of course, if the drama amps up the growing bromance between Jin Rok and Enrique, then I will forgive all the rest of its lackings because those two guys together are simply daebak.
Episode 5 recap:
The lights go out and Dok Mi screams, leading Enrique to bound out of the car and go rushing into the dark room. A mad scramble later, the lights flick back on and Dok Mi finds Enrique laying on top of her and their lips pressed together.
Enrique scrambles up and quickly jabbers about it being an accident and he was all worried about her. Dok Mi lays there in shock before silently getting up and leaving the room. Enrique sits in the corner and reassures himself that he didn’t mean to do it.
Dok Mi flashes back to high school and turns out her and Do Hwi were actually friends. Do Hwi whispers to Dok Mi in class that she intends to dump the guy she has her first kiss with, to preserve that memory. Her target is their cute teacher – she’ll kiss him on graduation day and them dump him. Dok Mi wonders why she would do that, she intends to be with the guy she has her first kiss with forever. The two friends giggle.
Dok Mi goes back in and tells Enrique to take her back now since he’s sober and awake. Before they leave, Enrique heads back to the sand castle and packs it tighter, asking it to stay strong even if the waves beat it down.
Dong Hoon is annoyed with girls like Dok Mi and increasingly drunk Jin Rok sticks up for her, saying there is nothing wrong with a quiet girl like her. Dong Hoon thinks girls should be outgoing and wonders why Jin Rok is always getting angry with him these days. Watanabe comes by and encourages the two besties to stop bickering. They head out for round two.
Dok Mi sits in the car and reads the rest of what she wrote on her cellphone, which Enrique has read as well. His voiceover on how she decided to live a lie rather than deal with the harsh truth. It was safer for her to use the lie to cover up the painful truth.
Jin Rok and Dong Hoon continue drinking elsewhere and Jin Rok finally opens up about Dok Mi. He likes her as a person, for her goodness inside. Dong Hoon teases that he should start calling Dok Mi sister-in-law now. Jin Rok reveals their fateful first meeting.
Jin Rok is moving into the apartment building and he’s dropped off by a guy driving a nice car. Jin Rok is wearing a nice suit and sunglasses. He heads over to his boxes and wonders why he has so much stuff? Suddenly Dok Mi appears and tells him in her quiet way that he’s holding her box. She points out the smiling emoticon sun she drew on the corner of the box. Jin Rok is pretty smitten and he takes off his sunglasses to look at her more clearly.
Dong Hoon is stunned since he thought Jin Rok didn’t know her for the entire three years they’ve lived there. He wonders why Jin Rok didn’t ask for her number and Jin Rok yells at him for thinking so frivolously about his Dok Mi. She is to be respected and protected, not to be played with.
On the drive back to Seoul, Enrique uses being sleepy as an excuse to pull over and show Dok Mi a video of an elephant who learned to communicate in Korean. Apparently the elephant was separated from family when he came to a Korean zoo so he learned Korean to communicate with his handlers and not feel so lonely.
Enrique suggests that Dok Mi can learn to communicate with people again, too. He points out all the things she can say to him now, and if an elephant can learn Korean its not hard for her to start talking to people again. Dok Mi tears up and Enrique notices when she turns her face away. She claims not to be crying.
Enrique finishes his story which ends with the elephant getting an elephant girlfriend and not being lonely anymore, so there is no need for him to speak Korean. Cute. They continue the drive home.
Drunk Jin Rok goes to the recycling corner and sorts through the boxes, to Dong Hoon’s everlasting embarrassment to be out with him. He tentatively brings up Jin Rok’s name change but drunk Jin Rok doesn’t answer and reminds him to not ask questions. Jin Rok ends up crawling into a box and just lying there falling asleep. Dong Hoon looks horrified but covers him up with another box.
Its morning time and Jin Rok’s alarm goes off, which wakes Dong Hoon up as well as Jin Rok. The milkman comes and Jin Rok sleepily gets out of the bed and goes outside to intercept the milk and replace the post it with his own note. Of course he’s the post-it guy, which is why he sets an alarm every morning so he can do this for Dok Mi.
Enrique and Dok Mi pull up outside her apartment and he reveals the wish he made on the sand castle. When it’s washed away, he hopes their first loves will also be taken with it. Dok Mi quietly thanks him.
Enrique points out that she doesn’t ask any questions of him, such as how long he’ll be staying. He was curious about her after finding out she’s always inside. Enrique reveals he read her post on her cell phone and suggests that being honest is better than living a lie. Dok Mi asks him to forget everything about her. Enrique suggests that she reexamine her heart and start over.
Jin Rok finishes writing the post it and puts it on the milk carton. He’s so sleepy that he nods off, only to suddenly jolt awake once he realizes Dok Mi is standing right behind him. He scurries back to his door but then gets up the courage to bring up Dok Mi staying out all night which he heard from her friend.
He grabs the milk carton and takes off his note and hands it to Dok Mi. Too bad the post it is stuck to his butt and when he turns around Dok Mi sees it.
When Dok Mi goes inside, she goes to the collection of post-its and flips it which creates a story.
Jin Rok goes into his apartment and blames Dong Hoon for letting him drink last night. Dong Hoon realizes Jin Rok embarrassed himself with Dok Mi and then ups the mortification factor by pointing out that his post it is stuck on his butt. Poor Jin Rok screams in horror. Elsewhere Enrique also screams.
Enrique goes back to Tae Joon’s place and finds Seo Young there. She yells at him for staying out all night and making Tae Joon worried. Enrique points out that if Tae Joon is worried that he’s upset, then it means Tae Joon does like Seo Young back. Seo Young looks out the window and remarks on the two buildings being so close in proximity.
Do Hwi gets out of a van which has her face plastered on the side on it. This lady continues to redefine the meaning of the word gauche. She pretends to fumble with her packages and Dong Hoon and Watanabe come by to help. She hears from Dong Hoon that Jin Rok isn’t feeling so well and offers to make something for Jin Rok to eat.
Jin Rok turns her down and says he’s just hung over and then hurries the guys to go get something to eat. Do Hwi lures Dong Hoon and Watanabe by asking them to be male models for the clothes she sells on her online shopping site. After the guys leave, her friends mention that all the clothes she sells are for women.
Dong Hoon reveals his future career as an online clothing model and Jin Rok yells at him some more. Jin Rok then goes to talk with Do Hwi, but turns out it’s about Dok Mi still. He mentions Dok Mi coming back early in the morning so that means she didn’t technically stay out all night. He tells her not to go over until later today so Dok Mi can get some rest.
The day passes and people come and go, including Jin Rok going in and out of his apartment. But Dok Mi’s apartment door never opens and Jin Rok notices that.
Dok Mi types on her computer narrating the life she’s now leading – she withdrew so much that people outside started not noticing her, so she withdrew even more into her own world and is finding peace and contentment being alone. She watches cooking shows and prepares delicious food for herself.
Suddenly her reverie is interrupted by Enrique banging on her door. The guy uses one excuse after another to get her to open up. He claims to be sick after their beach outing, he wears a clothes pin in his hair that she left in the car, he asks for reimbursement for travel expenses. Jin Rok hears all of them and opens his door angrily.
When he asks for money, Dok Mi texts him to send her Tae Joon’s bank account for the wire since Enrique says he doesn’t have an account in Korea. Enrique leaves to think up another plan but Jin Rok gets fed up and puts on his coat to go confront him.
Jin Rok walks out of the apartment building and finds Enrique out front. While Jin Rok is prepared for a confrontation, happy Enrique recognizes him as the hyung who was involved in the rent scuffle earlier. He asks for Jin Rok’s number and wonders how Jin Rok knows his name as Enrique? Jin Rok knows Enrique from his gaming creations.
Enrique is so happy to make another friend since he’s been lonely here. Jin Rok brings up Enrique constantly bothering unit 402 when she doesn’t even want his attention. Enrique suggests Jin Rok go to the PC bang to play a game and hang out with him.
At the PC bang, Enrique is clearly a master at Zombie Soccer but compliments Jin Rok on being a good player as well. Jin Rok remembers Dok Mi fainting in Enrique’s arms and that fuels his playing but he still loses in the end. I love Jin Rok’s burning fire of competitiveness.
Seo Young gets a call from Tae Joon that Enrique is out and can’t be reached and she heads over to look for him. Dok Mi leaves the house to buy some household supplies.
Jin Rok and Enrique leave the PC bang and Jin Rok realizes it’s been a long time since he pulled an all-nighter playing video games. The last time was before he went to the army. Enrique admits he never served since he’s not a Korean citizen and Jin Rok puffs up his military training and warns Enrique that no one ought to ever cross him with his military training.
Enrique doesn’t get Jin Rok’s posturing and is genuinely impressed with hyung’s military skills and how cool he is. Enrique may not have served in the army but he is quite good at running. Jin Rok hears that and suggests a race back to the apartment building. Enrique clues in on how competitive Jin Rok is and acts like he doesn’t want to but cheats and gives himself a head start.
The two guys race and run happily down the street. Now this is a bromance I can get behind. The two runners pass by a food stall where Dok Mi is buying some snacks. Jin Rok pretends to pull a muscle and concedes defeat so he can go wait for Dok Mi to return to the apartment building. Enrique notices Jin Rok’s intentions and lets it go.
Enrique walks up to Dok Mi and starts chatting with her but it turns out he’s talking to the ahjumma. Everything he says can be interpreted as talking to Dok Mi but in truth he’s talking to the food stall lady. Dok Mi has the food packed in her own container and hurries off. Enrique smirks at Dok Mi’s desire to keep ignoring him, watching as she shuffles quickly back home.
Jin Rok is preparing himself to talk with Dok Mi and fails to notice Do Hwi entering the building. When Dok Mi returns, Jin Rok approaches her as if it was an accident and uses the return of the money she lent him to break the ice. He offers to carry her bags but she declines.
Jin Rok finally gets up his courage, with notes written in his phone, to talk with Dok Mi about the milk carton notes. He admits that he is very curious about Dok Mi and wonders if she is living well hidden inside her apartment all alone. So he wrote notes for her every day and put it on the milk carton. It felt like his own little secret and he really enjoyed doing it for her.
Jin Rok’s works echo Dok Mi’s own one-sided secret crush on Tae Joon. They head into the apartment building and Enrique has seen this entire exchange. He smiles ruefully that he really is here to play cupid and another arrow will need to be shot.
In the elevator, Jin Rok promises to stop and never get near her again if she feels upset or pressured by what he did. Dok Mi reveals that she understood the notes formed a story and she enjoyed reading it. She thanks him. Jin Rok smiles to hear that Dok Mi understood the purpose behind the notes. Jin Rok gets excited and moves closer and quickly moves back when he notices Dok Mi shrinking towards the wall. They smile but keep their distance.
Do Hwi rings Jin Rok’s door and Dong Hoon answers and asks about Jin Rok (accidentally calling him Jae Won first). Dong Hoon reveals Jin Rok stayed out all night (not knowing it was at the PC bang with Enrique) and Do Hwi is alarmed to hear that. He closes the door on her so he can change and look cool since he has a crush on her.
Do Hwi stands in the hallway still smarting about Jin Rok staying out all night when Dok Mi and Jin Rok get off the elevator. Do Hwi sees Dok Mi and calls out her name. Do Hwi does not looked please AT ALL to see Dok Mi standing next to Jin Rok, while Jin Rok looks between the two ladies as if trying to figure out their relationship to each other. Friends or frenemies?
Thoughts of Mine:
I really love that FBND is about overcoming fears and human connection. Such a simple thing really, but on a daily level it probably haunts and confounds many people in ways that can’t be seen. FBND is tackling a real and pervasive issue in life but doing so in a funny and drama-specific way. Dok Mi’s fear of the outside world is pretty extreme, but she doesn’t come off as crazy or weird. She’s just scared and I’m sure everyone can relate to being scared by something in our lives. With Enrique’s appearance suddenly everyone is prodded into action – Seo Young and Tae Joon finally connect after a year of living in the same city, Dok Mi meets her crush face-to-face and gets out of that apartment, and Jin Rok goes from secret post-it guy to finally taking steps to interact with Dok Mi directly. I thought his attempt to gingerly keep watch over her was sweet, but not terribly helpful in her current state of living. He’s not wrong because his approach comes from the right place of respecting Dok Mi’s living choices, yet in the end he’s just allowing her to continue a lifestyle that isn’t terribly healthy. Once can argue that being a hermit is perfectly fine, but we can see that Dok Mi isn’t happy being a hermit and has chosen this life as a means of escaping a world she finds frightening. Enrique draws her out of her shell and even makes her smile by his adorable pestering.
While I hate Do Hwi, especially seeing that she and Dok Mi appeared to be good friends at some point during high school, I can’t help but be entertained with Park Soo Jin’s totally game portrayal of shallow and stupid Do Hwi. She’s played plenty of hateful second female leads (most notably in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho), but this is the first time I’m enjoying the process of despising her. She also creates a great contrast to tentative and withdrawn Dok Mi, allowing her brash shamelessness to show us that Dok Mi is infinitely more appealing as a human being even if she’s shy and socially fearful. I love the pacing of this drama, letting things happen in a very low key way that doesn’t feel tacked on. Dok Mi isn’t suddenly going to be friends with Enrique after a beach outing and perhaps the drama won’t even allow their upcoming sweet romance to be the focal point of the story. That’s all fine with me because the point of having neighbors is merely to expand the social network one more notch from family, friends, and colleagues. Seeing Dok Mi start out alone and end with some friends, then this drama will be a worthwhile journey in and of itself. The romance is just icing on top of the cake.
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