There were so many wonderful lines of dialogue in this episode of Flower Boy Next Door, still the warmest little drama I’ve watched in ages, but Jin Rok said one that is rather apropos for this stage of the story. He explained that as a kid, when he got a nice present, he would naturally worry what corresponding pain will follow. Right now FBND just finished its 11th episode and there are 5 more left to go. So I worry that all the happiness that is coming is only setting us up for more angst towards the end. If this was a melodrama I’d say the odds are ever in that direction, but FBND is this odd little melancholy sweet duck that I’m not sure if the drama will throw some last minute wrenches into Dok Mi and Enrique’s tenuous new relationship. Much as I really enjoy Jin Rok’s scenes in this drama and feel like he’s a unique and well-established second male lead, I’m not looking forward to him continuing to press his suit in his own awkward way with Dok Mi anymore.
I like that the stalker ahjumma plot device was resolved quickly but I’m looking around the weeds and not finding too much story left. Tae Joon and Seo Young have been shipped off, there is a teeny bit of entertainment in Dong Hoon and the sleep-deprived editor’s odd interactions, and Do Hwi’s past history and fixation on Jin Rok is only as interesting as giving the man some closure as to why her voice sounds familiar but otherwise if she got sucked into a sink hole the next second I wouldn’t blink and eye. I think there is a lot of great story to mine if Dok Mi and Enrique started dating, since that’s not going to magically cure whatever emotional hang ups each has nor would it be easy since they are so very different. I hope the drama can really delve into it rather than throwing random and not important roadblocks in their path for the final turn of this story.
Episode 11 recap:
Rewind a bit – Enrique is at his book signing and trying to act cheerful. He dispenses hugs freely to his awe-struck fanboys, though a glimpse of the Van Gogh art exhibit poster reminds him that Dok Mi invited Jin Rok out.
Jin Rok is nervously preparing for the date, with Dong Hoon acting as his stylist. Jin Rok can’t believe Dok Mi asked him out and asks if he looks cool. Dong Hoon scurries off which is when Jin Rok realizes Dong Hoon gave him a hilarious hairstyle that would be more appropriate if he was headed to a Jets v. Sharks rumble in the Bronx.
Enrique finishes his book signing and wanders around Seoul snapping memories. We see the stalker ahjumma following him. A girl dressed like Seo Young, complete with a guitar on her back, is also following Enrique. It’s the panda hat girl. Suddenly the ahjumma knocks Enrique into the middle of the street where he sees a car coming towards him. Dok Mi and Jin Rok arrive at the exhibit and while Dok Mi is reading the program, she gets a paper cut.
Enrique is laying on the pavement staring straight up. He sees Dok Mi pushing through the crowds and hovering over him with tears in her eyes, which surprises him since she’s supposed to be at the art exhibit. He cries and realizes that he’s in love. Turns out the person hovering over him is the panda hat fangirl.
Dok Mi stands before a Van Gogh painting while Jin Rok clears out the area to give her some space. She suddenly sees Enrique next to her – he chatters away about how much he likes Van Gogh and how his paintings make him think when he creates.
Dok Mi walks away but Enrique follows her and keeps talking, though when Dok Mi turns around she realizes it’s Jin Rok behind her. He tells her to take her time and look at the paintings.
Jin Rok is too shy to hold Dok Mi’s hand and when she asks about his understanding of Van Gogh, he blurts out that he wants to hold her hand.
Dok Mi misunderstands him and thinks he’s talking about Van Gogh wanting to hold his brother’s hand via the painting, which is true. Jin Rok excuses himself and scurries off. Poor dude, his epic fail at dating is pretty unprecedented in K-dramas.
Enrique’s accident has spread all over the internet and Dong Hoon finds out. He wants to tell Jin Rok because he’s out with Dok Mi. Do Hwi learns Dok Mi is out on a date with Jin Rok and calls her a terrible girl.
Atter they leave the exhibit. Dok Mi shares with Jin Rok how someone she knows also likes Van Gogh and further appreciates the connection he had with his brother. Van Gogh’s brother knew his talent and always assisted him, and didn’t live long after Van Gogh died since he was so close to his brother.
Jin Rok knows who she is talking about and asks her to take a seat. For three years he’s rarely ventured out of their building, this is the farthest and longest he’s been out. Their building makes people not want to leave so she’s not the only one living like that. Dok Mi explains she doesn’t dislike living next to him and she’s just apologetic not knowing he’s been drawing post-its on her milk all those years.
Jin Rok offers to keep drawing for her but she asks him firmly to stop. She is moving away and poor Jin Rok reveals he already heard from the security guard. As a kid when he got a present, he always knew something bad was bound to follow. When she invited him to this exhibit, he was already preparing himself for the other shoe to drop.
Jin Rok knows Dok Mi is using this to say her goodbyes and he’s fine as long as she’s happy with this decision. He wonders if her decision was motivated by him? If it was, then he’ll go back to before and never bother her again or appear before her. But if its because of Enrique, once he leaves its going to be hard on her, so is she planning to go where he can’t find her?
Jin Rok gets a text from Dong Hoon about Enrique’s accident and how it’s serious. He processes this information as Dok Mi asks what he wants to do the rest of the day? Jin Rok reveals to Dok Mi that Enrique was injured by a fan and is at the hospital.
Jin Rok and Dok Mi rush to the hospital in a cab. She sits in silent with her hands clasped and eyes closed, worrying about Enrique. Jin Rok turns and looks at her sadly, knowing that she is worried about another guy.
Jin Rok and Dok Mi arrive at the hospital and push past the reporters and use the excuse that they work with Enrique. The doctor lets one person in and Dok Mi goes inside. Dok Mi walks into the ER and sees the doctors treating a bloody patient on the table. Dok Mi flashes back to her encounters with Enrique when suddenly she sees him standing next to the patient not severely injured.
The stalker ahjumma who pushed Enrique was also the one who pushed him out of the way of the car and ended up being hit by the car. Enrique wants to ask why she did it while the panda hat fangirl tries to get Enrique to tend to his cut hand claiming he can’t injure his hand. Enrique is led away to be treated.
Dok Mi walks out and tells Jin Rok that Enrique is fine. Jin Rok says today Dok Mi should be with Enrique but this is the last time he’s bringing her to him. Jin Rok leaves Dok Mi at the hospital.
Enrique’s hand is bandaged up and it’ll heal in a few days. He learns from the doctor that the stalker ahjumma is out of danger and resting. He goes to sit beside her bed and tells her to rest well. The ahjumma reveals that she hasn’t spoken to her son in any meaningful way in 5 years. Her son idolizes Enrique and plays his games all day long. How could the world be so crazy!
The son arrives and yells at his mom. Enrique turns and also sees Dok Mi there. He pulls the son aside and the son apologizes – he knew his mom stole Enrique’s phone but didn’t realize things would escalate. He asks if Enrique wants to press charges? Enrique asks if the son shuts off the world and plays games day and night? The son claims he doesn’t just play, he wants to design games like Enrique!
Enrique chastises the son – if he is incapable of bringing the person closest to him happiness, how he could possibly design a game that brings happiness to everyone else? A good game can only be created with love.
Dok Mi is sitting beside the ahjumma and asks if she knew her son had the ambition to create games? She shouldn’t blame her pain on others, it’s between her and her son. Enrique is a good kind man and his desire is to bring joy to others. She can’t blame him.
Enrique comes over with the son and accept her desire to keep stalking him, but she needs to try and understand her son a bit as well if she wants a chance to be happy with her son.
Do Hwi is at cooking class with only Watanabe and Dong Hoon, and she asks that the food she made be given to Jin Rok. Dong Hoon tries to dissuade her, saying his hyung is already in love with unit 402. Jin Rok comes home but then turns and leaves.
Do Hwi chases after him wanting to talk. Jin Rok brings up her bad behavior to ambushing Dok Mi with their old teacher and that makes her not his type. Do Hwi starts to cry and grabs his arm. Jin Rok tells her to come clean with everything, that is when he’ll be willing to listen to what she has to say.
Dok Mi and Enrique take a cab home and she asks how he’s feeling? Enrique says his heart hurts for the ahjumma, who pushed him and then saved him. She got hurt to protect him. The cab drops them off outside the buildings and he thanks Dok Mi for coming to the hospital. Dok Mi watches Enrique walk off and she turns to go back to her own building.
When Dok Mi opens the door to her unit, she sees Enrique standing outside her door. She invites him in and he accepts. As Dok Mi prepares dinner, she offers him the remote to watch soccer but he’s not in the mood. Dok Mi counsels him that people always look for others to blame for their own unhappiness.
Enrique gets a call from Seo Young who is back in Span and he reassures her that he is fine. He asks her to check on his parents and alleviate their worry, he’s planning to stay a bit longer.
Enrique ends the call and then notices that Dok Mi appears to be packing. She lies that she’s just organizing and then changes to subject to his injury. She blames it all on herself since he stayed in Korea because of her. Enrique wonders if he’s really a good of a person as Dok Mi thinks he is? He sits down and mulls over her situation, saying that he knows why she doesn’t go out.
Dong Hoon hands Jin Rok the food from Do Hwi, and then drops the bombshell that he needs to quit the webtoon. He’s not from a rich family and he needs to earn a lot of money soon so he can’t do this anymore. Jin Rok just stands up and tells Dong Hoon to follow him.
Dok Mi and Enrique are eating dinner across the table from each other. He flicks a thumbs up for her food. She suggests he deliver lectures for estranged family members like the ahjumma and her son and share his experiences. It might bring them some comfort and breakthrough. Dok Mi gets nervous when Enrique stares at her so she bows her head and starts eating very fast.
Enrique puts his finger on her forehead and smiles and asks her to slow down. He tells her to lift her head and sit up straight, eat slowly so that she can enjoy the experience. Dok Mi smiles and does what he suggests.
After dinner, Dok Mi types on her computer about how a person’s heart is unique and people protect it carefully. We see the ahjumma in the hospital having a meal with her son keeping her company, Do Hwi sitting at her desk, and the panda hat fangirl surrounded by pictures of Enrique that she snapped secretly.
She looks over at Enrique who is sitting on the ground leaning against her bed and staring at the TV which has a game on.
Jin Rok and Dong Hoon drop by their editor’s but Dong Hoon slinks off while the editor chastises Jin Rok for dropping by unannounced again. She asks if he’s here for more dating tips, too bad she doesn’t know any. Jin Rok gives her a dating tip – lower her voice to lure the other person closer. Dong Hoon returns bearing a treat for the editor since one doesn’t drop by without bringing something.
The editor thanks him in a low voice and gets Dong Hoon to lean in. She lights up realizing Jin Rok’s suggestion is true. Turns out Jin Rok wants to change the author of the webtoon to Dong Hoon – he’s the better illustrator.
Jin Rok leaves and the editor and Dong Hoon discuss that Jin Rok still doesn’t know she signed his guarantee. Her worrying about it is giving her those dark circles under her eyes. Dong Hoon promise to pay the money back and tells her to call him at night if she can’t sleep and gets nightmares over worrying about the debt. The poor girl adorably blushes.
Enrique is napping when Dok Mi takes a call from her real estate agent confirming her new rental. She assures him that distance doesn’t matter and wonders about the rent? When the call ends, she realizes Enrique is awake and overheard. He’s standing there and asks if Oh Jin Rok already knows she’s moving? Dok Mi says yes, and Enrique realizes the art exhibit date was her way of saying goodbye to Jin Rok. And Dok Mi coming to the hospital and this meal for Enrique, it was also her way of saying goodbye to him.
Enrique asks if she thinks this is all enough to cover what others have given to her? Didn’t Dok Mi say at the hospital not to look to others to explain away pain? Yet she is the same, she runs away from others after having been hurt before. Despite all Enrique tried to do for her, nothing helped because she is still the same.
When he has in the accident, he imagined her standing above him worried about him. He thought she liked him but it wasn’t the case since it was just his imagination. Enrique will end it now and leave. He will disappear from her life so she needn’t move. He’s giving up and leaving her alone to stew in her own pain, though he’s not sure he can go back to his old self so easily.
Dok Mi silently listens to all of this before stepping forward and telling Enrique that he has to go back to the way he was. He is open and happy, able to hear what is in her heart. He needs to go back to being the full of sunshine KaeGeum. Dok Mi confesses that her heart broke when she thought he was going back to Spain. To protect herself she told him to leave her alone.
Despite trying to pretend otherwise and hiding her feelings, Dok Mi likes Enrique very much. She likes him so much. But she wants him to go back to his old happy self and forget any of this ever happened. He needs only to walk out that door and never look back. She will also do the same, she will walk out that door and move forward in her own life. She promises to live well.
Enrique is crying and staring at her, before taking steps towards her. He holds her face in his hands and says he can heart it again, the feelings in her heart. Enrique leans in to gently kiss Dok Mi, and she is shocked by the kiss but then closes her eyes and leans into him.
Thoughts of Mine:
First off let me say I am not disappointed in the long-awaited kiss despite my preference for more passionate pecks. This was a kiss that encapsulated the moment and the personalities of the OTP. Dok Mi literally needs a two-by-four to pull that confession out of her, a confession she has been running away from and hiding for episodes now. Enrique may be more experienced and open about his feelings, but his tears and frustrated anger when he confronted Dok Mi about her moving shows us that he’s not in control either. He’s scared of losing her before he even has a chance with her, so the kiss isn’t meant to be passionate, it’s meant to be reassuring. It’s about two people making the first physical connection but still in the tentative and tenuous way that shows they understand each other. Enrique knows to tread lightly with Dok Mi, and his kiss was already such a giant step forward, if they started tonguing each other right there I would have cried foul with the fanservice. This drama is about romance in ways that speak beyond the passionate, where people are “attracted to each other” per se, but about seeing what is inside and appreciating that. Dok Mi, Enrique, and to an even greater extent, Jin Rok, are all about the deeper connections that doesn’t hinge on outward shows of affection or attraction.
I also appreciate that this drama speaks to the modern days travails of the youth of South Korea – the loneliness of being a little speck in a wide cluttered world, and the rise of internet connectivity and gaming causing people to eschew real life connections for the virtual ones. The stalker ahjumma bit remains awkward and out-of-the-blue shoehorned into this drama, but the story it tells is very real and a societal problem especially in Korea. People are devoting entire chunks of their life in the pursuit of virtual immersion to the point of neglecting their real life world. The fact that Enrique is a game developer makes this side plot plausible and it’s something he has to accept – that his creations may be the means for people to sate their gaming addictions. His intentions may be good, and he clearly has a nice balance between gaming and real life, but he can’t be held responsible for the choices made by people who play his game or aspire to his lifestyle. I also think panda hat fangirl is an additional weak link in the Enrique storyline – now that stalker ahjumma has been dispatched, will she up her stalking of Enrique and become a threat in his growing relationship with Dok Mi?
Jin Rok, sigh, what more can I say about Jin Rok? He singlehandedly supplied all the laughs in this episode, ranging from his howl of anger at being saddled with a Grease hairstyle to his attempted handholding at the Van Gogh exhibit. Why is he such a fail when it comes to his romantic life? Is he just a love moron? But then he is able to give advice to his editor about lowering her voice to lure the boys in. So he isn’t completely clueless. So is he just the world’s most nervous Romeo and freezes up in front of his lady love? He’s a genuinely good guy and I have nothing but affection for him, for looking out for Dok Mi all these years to always trying to do the right thing. Sadly his method wasn’t the one that forced Dok Mi out of her comfort zone, and the truth was, she wasn’t all that happy being isolated. She wanted to connect, she was just too scared to and too comfortable with her routine. Enrique didn’t necessary have a right to barge into her life, but he did in his own way, and Jin Rok lost before he even had a chance to really try. I hope he takes comfort in knowing that Enrique can make Dok Mi happy and wish her the best, because I think there is a girl out there (NOT DO HWI) that is a better match for him.
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