I love this drama. I love this drama so damn much! Flower Boy Next Door is that perfect slice of cake that I just want to savor and hoard. It’s exactly what I crave right now to bring the magic back to drama watching. Yes, it could falter or even collapse in the second half, but for now I enjoy the loveliness so far without fretting about the unknown. The three leads in Dok Mi, Enrique, and Jin Rok have completely won me over. I care about them, above and beyond any romantic entanglements or revelations. I watch at how Dok Mi blithely leaves her apartment now, whether it’s to run errands or even do things she doesn’t like such as following Jin Rok to pick up Do Hwi. This is the same girl that a few weeks ago would only cracked open her door an inch to grab her milk carton. Oh what an Enrique can do to shake up her orderly world.
Similarly Jin Rok has gone from secret fringe player to almost getting on the field to play the game. He’s being forced to act, but at the same time, he’s seeing that perhaps his approach only took into consideration a fraction of the Dok Mi he’s been observing for the past three years. What makes the characterizations in this drama so compelling is how nothing is one-sided. Dok Mi gives to Enrique as much food for thought as he forces her to step foot back into the outside world. There is a give and take in the developing relationships that make it so satisfying to watch. It’s not just a story about a hurt girl who needs saving, it’s a story about people moving forward in life perhaps in different ways after fate brings them together. As much as I love Jin Rok’s awkwardness and sweetness in love, I am completely and utterly onboard the OTP ship as those two are well on their way to being my first drama couple win of 2013.
Episode 8 recap:
The drama continues to revel in deft reveals that add much more depth to events. Turns out Dok Mi saw Enrique awkwardly comforting Seo Young and was planning to keep walking when she saw Tae Joon walk out of his building holding shoes and a jacket. Ooops, potential misunderstanding alert!
Dok Mi wavers for a moment and then remembers Enrique painting a lovely tree and bird mural on her ceiling while she was working and explaining that he didn’t run away from Tae Joon’s place or get kicked out. He left to give Seo Young and Tae Joon space and time to work through their issues.
Dok Mi makes her decision and runs over to Enrique and pulls him out of Seo Young’s arms to face her. Jin Rok stares in shock while Dok Mi and Enrique wordlessly look at each other. Tae Joon walks up and everyone turns to look at him, which is when Enrique realizes why Dok Mi did what she just did.
Tae Joon dresses Seo Young and takes her away to talk, because none of us care a whit what issues they have or things they need to discuss. Enrique thanks Dok Mi for her actions in avoiding a misunderstanding. They notice Jin Rok is listening in and he awkwardly tries to leave. Enrique pulls his arm out of Dok Mi’s hand and tries to explain what happened is nothing.
Dok Mi turns to leave but then changes her mind and asks Enrique to talk with her. Poor Jin Rok’s face literally falls and he shuffles back to the building alone. Enrique can see dejected Jin Rok leaving and feels really bad. Jin Rok waits for the elevator and wonders why Dok Mi was too tired to listen to him but then turns around and asks to talk with Enrique? He can’t deal with it and heads back out.
Dok Mi and Enrique discuss her refusal to have her name associated with his book, despite his initial draft being shoddy and her edits turning it into a great read. Dok Mi explains that she doesn’t seek recognition and editing is her job, not a means to get her name out there. She wants her name to be on her own writing. Enrique understands now and teases that he’s always making jokes about everything. He uses Dok Mi’s insult on him and refers to himself as an empty guy who loves to brag.
Jin Rok arrives and hides behind the dumpster and listens in on Enrique and Dok Mi’s conversation.When Dok Mi tries to leave again, he reminds her that he did as she asked and pretended not to know her, but this time it was Dok Mi who approached him first. Dok Mi decides to apologize for her insults and she had no right to say that. Enrique says he deserved those words. Dok Mi clearly worried he would be affected by Seo Young and stepped in to help him despite acting completely out of character.
Dok Mi clarifies that she does see his true heart and didn’t want his heart to keep getting embroiled in this situation when he was trying to extricate himself already. Enrique explains he can’t not help a friend in need and he’ll manage to extricate himself again if needs be. Dok Mi opens up and expresses the opinion that there are situations that can’t be so easily extricated from.
Enrique looks at Dok Mi and wishes he knew what was tying her heart up in knots and how to extricate her from it. This is the first time he’s been curious about what someone else is feeling inside. Their convo is interrupted by Jin Rok’s ringing phone and it’s his editor calling to get an update. Jin Rok hilariously pretends he’s on his way to his editor’s office and walks off.
While Jin Rok talks with his editor, Enrique reveals to Dok Mi that it was Jin Rok who told him so much about her. In fact, they are so similar, neither of them venturing out often and perhaps they would be happier to interact more in this neighborhood. Before Dok Mi leaves, Enrique reminds her that she re-started contact between them first so he’s going to keep being her friend again.
Jin Rok and his editor bicker about him dropping by her office which annoys her. Editor brings up the character in the webtoon from Spain, a chatty good looking guy who can’t possibly be real. Editor wants the character transformed into a crappy cowardly dude otherwise the female lead might fall for him.
Jin Rok doesn’t think so since that character leaves for Spain in a month but editor lady says that is more than enough time when faced with a guy who does whatever the heck he feels like. For girls it would be like having a whirlwind love affair that she can keep forever in her heart as a secret. Editor then tells Jin Rok to fix the illustrations since the well-rendered background is taking away from the expressions. Turns out Dong Hoon had been doing the background while Jin Rok did the faces.
Enrique walks over to Jin Rok and acts all puppy dog cute again. Jin Rok remembers his editor’s suggestion to turn the Spain guy into a crappy cowardly guy. Enrique invites Jin Rom over to watch a soccer match and he’s willing to cheer for Jin Rok’s Real Madrid team rather than his Barcelona since his team has been on a winning streak lately. He’s willing do to it for his Hyung.
Enrique’s suggestion rubs Jin Rok the wrong way, asking if Enrique changes teams so easily. He doesn’t, he cheers for one team until the day he dies. Enrique is impressed with Jin Rok’s loyalty as a sports fan. Enrique changes tacks and says when he plays sports, he’s so loyal that if he played against his own brother he would crush him. That makes Jin Rok mad as well, saying Enrique has no family consideration.Enrique intuitively realizes nothing he says will make Jin Rok happy right now. He knows it’s because of Dok Mi and he explains he’s just curious why she lives hidden from the world.
Jin Rok reveals that he was also curious about Dok Mi initially and that was how it started, he kept thinking about her. He tells Enrique not to be interested in Dok Mi, not even a little bit Enrique thinks he’s the perfect cupid since his arrival helped Jin Rok confess since he dragged Dok Mi out into the world again. Jin Rok once again yells that he didn’t confess. Enrique reminds Jin Rok he’s leaving soon but Jin Rok worries that the short time only means Enrique will get more curious.
The two guys banter and Jin Rok tells Enrique not to follow him because he’s so frustrating to be around. Enrique heads back to Tae Joon’s place and wishes Jin Rok a good night. As Enrique walks back, he stops in the middle of the street and flashes back to Dok Mi pulling him towards her. He smiles and says out loud that he was a little moved by that.
Dong Hoon is at his usual club haunts but now we see that he’s doing a part-time job of driver drunk girls home in their car and getting paid to be the designated driver. Jin Rok calls Dong Hoon and wants him to stop going out at night since he needs Dong Hoon to illustrate with him full time.
Do Hwi is out drinking with her minions and vows a showdown with Dok Mi.
Dok Mi is at home and opens up the box from Do Hwi. Inside are pictures of them from high school and other mementos. She gets a call from Do Hwi, who is drinking but pretending to be super drunk. She hesitates for a long time before finally answering.
Do Hwi cutely calls her name drunkenly and says she needs help from her friend Dok Mi to help her home otherwise she’ll freeze to death on the street. OH YES PLEASE. The bartender can see Do Hwi totally playacting and looks rather aghast at her antics.
Dok Mi hangs up but can’t help but be affected at hearing her name called cutely by Do Hwi, reminding her of low long its been since she’s been called that way.
The ahjumma who stole Enrique’s cell phone has uploaded his pictures online, including rather intimate pictures of him sleeping topless and Seo Young sneaking a picture of him. She does not seem like she has Enrique’s best interests at heart. Enrique reads online about himself through these pictures, which alleges he’s dating Seo Young and has a very messy personal life and even has secret kids.
Tae Joon comes home and shows Enrique texts he received from Enrique’s phone which includes those pictures of him and Seo Young. Enrique explains he lost his phone and those pictures are because he grew up next to Seo Young. Tae Joon reveals he’s all done settling his affairs and is leaving tomorrow. Enrique chides him for making others feel abandoned but Tae Joon says he’s lonely as well.
During this conversation Enrique has an epiphany that Dok Mi may have gotten the same text and misunderstood him for a player. He freaks out on Tae Joon’s shoulder before rushing out to explain those pictures to Dok Mi.
Turns out Dok Mi does get a text from him containing those pictures. At the same time Jin Rok reads the same salacious gossip online which leads him to be annoyed at how complicated this is turning out to be. Do Hwi calls Jin Rok after her entreaty to Dok Mi falls on deaf ears.
Dok Mi is looking at the pictures when the doorbell rings. It’s Enrique here asking to check for anything he left behind. Dok Mi freezes him at the door and tosses him his panda hat and then glares at him. Enrique wonders in awe how she knew he was here to get the hat back.
She tries to close the door but he glares right back and won’t let her close the door. She is totally jealous and kicks his shins to make him let go of the door. She slams the door shut and wiggles her nose in annoyance at him.
Turns out that was just Dok Mi’s imagination at play as the scene rewinds. She sees the pictures on her phone and then the doorbell rings. She heads over to grab the panda hat but then stops herself. She peeks through the peekhole and sees Jin Rok fixing his jacket outside.
She opens the door Jin Rok tells her about drunk Do Hwi and Dok Mi asks him to walk her home but declining to go with him. Enrique is still headed over to Dok Mi’s place and tries to rationalize his reason as looking for his left behind panda hat.
Jin Rok agrees to walk Do Hwi home but after he leaves the building, he chides himself for not asking Dok Mi to come with him again. The lady owner returns home all drunk as well, claiming she’s been imbibing champagne though the guard says she smells more of makgulli.
Enrique arrives at Dok Mi’s door and is about to ring the doorbell vigorously when she just happens to open it. She quickly closes the door and he rings the doorbell repeatedly before she concedes defeat and jerks the door open and tosses his panda hat at him. Enrique is surprised she knew why he was there for but Dok Mi ignores him and leaves her apartment.
Do Hwi primps in anticipation of Jin Rok’s arrival. Jin Rok goes to pick up Do Hwi and notices she doesn’t seem all that drunk. On their walk back, Do Hwi goes for the kill and claims she fell for him at first sight but he chalks it up to drunk talk. Do Hwi claims he was so nice to her which means he likes her. Jin Rok totally refutes that claim but it falls on deaf ears.
Do Hwi doesn’t take no for answer and pulls Jin Rok in for a forced kiss. EWWWWWWWW. Jin Rok pushes her away and vigorously wipes his mouth clean. Please use disinfectant.
Enrique follows Dok Mi out and explains his phone was stolen (showing her his injured hand) and now his personal pictures have been posted online and texted to friends. He doesn’t want her to think poorly of him. He can tell she saw it and is annoyed she did draw the wrong conclusion.
Enrique and Dok Mi run into Do Hwi and Jin Rok. Do Hwi is pleased Dok Mi came out anyway. Jin Rok tells Do Hwi straight up that he likes someone else and then leaves, brushing past Dok Mi and Enrique who part like the Red Sea to allow him to lurch past them.
Do Hwi is pissed and asks Dok Mi if she thinks she’s the one Jin Rok likes? Enrique takes in this conversation. Dok Mi asks back whether Do Hwi stills thinks her feelings are paramount and needs to show it? Do Hwi says its better than being sneaky like Dok Mi. Dok Mi still cannot understand Do Hwi.
After Jin Rok walks away, he suddenly puts the pieces together and recalls Do Hwi slipping a few times and calling him Jae Won-shhi.
Dok Mi is at home typing and explaining how love can be for show or sincere, but sometimes it’s a secret to be hidden away. She looks up at the ceiling mural painted by Enrique.
Tae Joon finishes packing while Enrique tries to reach Seo Young to no avail. He thinks it’s good because if Seo Young came by to say goodbye she must really intend to end it. He cuddles with Ippo the dog and suddenly a lightbulb goes off in his brain.
Dok Mi gets up the next morning to a text claiming to be from Tae Joon, Enrique’s cousin, asking her to meet outside. She hesitates and gets another text saying that he’s waiting for her. Dok Mi heads out but then backtracks when she realizes she got another post it on her milk carton. She smiles towards Jin Rok’s door and then heads out.
Dok Mi arrives outside Tae Joon’s building when suddenly Enrique pops up. He reveals that he got Tae Joon to send the text because he lost his phone and knowing she wouldn’t come if he texted her. Dok Mi wants to leave but Enrique unleashes the secret weapon, cute Ippo!
Dok Mi is putty for the dog and bends down to pet him. Enrique reveals Tae Joon is off to be an island doctor and Ippo will soon have the run of the countryside and lots of girlfriends to choose from. Dok Mi smiles and wishes the dog well.
They both look up when Tae Joon’s drive out of the garage. Tae Joon gets out and walks over to greet Dok Mi. She wishes him well and a safe journey. Tae Joon smiles and wishes her well also. Seo Young walks up and says she is here to say goodbye.
Tae Joon apologizes to her but she tells him its not necessary, mirroring when she apologized to Enrique in episode 1 and he told her it wasn’t necessary. Enrique remembers that as well, knowing he was responding to Seo Young as a final end of his feelings for her. Enrique tries to repair things and tells Tae Joon not to say sorry since it’ll mean the end.
Seo Young doesn’t need Enrique to meddle and reveals that she’s going back to Spain with Enrique. Which leaves Enrique looking baffled and asking if she knows what she’s doing? Seo Young got the picture text which reminded her of how Enrique has always been there beside her and must be hurting right as well.
Seo Young hands Enrique two plane tickets and says she is ready to go home with him now. Enrique looks at the tickets and doesn’t look happy at the prospect at all. He looks up at Dok Mi and she looks back at him with sadness splashed across her face.
Thoughts of Mine:
Great. Thanks for leaving me hanging right there FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK, drama. That is so mean. Why does Enrique look upset? Does he not want to leave Korea? Does he not want to leave with Seo Young? Is he sad his cupid making for Seo Young and Tae Joon might end in a big fat failure? Is he worried about leaving Dok Mi behind before completely drawing her out? Is Dok Mi sad because she’s worried about Enrique getting further embroiled in Seo Young and Tae Joon’s dumb as a doorpost love woes? Is she upset he’s leaving so soon? Ahhhhh, I need to know! I want a little more indication of how the OTP feels about each other at this point. I think it’s safe to assume Dok Mi is falling for Enrique first, what with her little fantasy about being jealous after seeing those pictures of him and Seo Young. I love that scene, not just because it was cute and funny, but also what it means that Dok Mi is daydreaming about something whether she is actively involved in the scene, both emotionally and physically. It’s such a seismic shift from when she lived as a shadow mirror just watching Tae Joon, now she’s actively participating in what is happening in everyone’s lives.
Do Hwi really upsets me so much I actually lose my appetite watching her. She is cruel and mean in the ways that actually exist in this world – a sneaky bully who uses words and falsehoods to tear another person down. Compare her to the over-the-top villains of K-dramas, she is far scarier to me and so much more loathsome. I loved how Jin Rok just cannot hide his disdain for her, and the forced kiss only worked because of his horrified reaction afterwards. I’m sure she’s after him because she knows his other identity as Oh Jae Won and I’m happy that Jin Rok has cottoned on to that as well. I feel so sad that he’s repeatedly disappointed to see Enrique and Dok Mi grow ever closer, especially when he’s finally trying to engage her but always the opportunity slips through his fingers. But when I see Dok Mi and Enrique, my heart seriously swells five sizes and I feel this hope and expectation rising inside me knowing they continue to push-and-pull each other towards a place that will hopefully be an epiphany for both of them. Dok Mi realizes that she hasn’t completely shut out the world and Enrique discovers there is someone who sees the real thoughtful him inside the chatty shell.
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