Well, this was a hard one. I know I usually say that about the review writing process itself, and heck, that could probably still happen, but in this case I’m talking the actual rewatch. I thought I was looking forward to rewatching Flower Boy Ramyun Shop as I remember, while not loving it, actually enjoying the show a lot. It has a cute story, some smokin’ hot kisses, and is the start of the Oh Boy!series revolution. Now that I have all three shows under my belt, I thought it would be nice to go back to the beginning to see how they all flow together. But I couldn’t make myself sit down and rewatch this! I’d find some reason or another to keep pushing it back. Now, this may not be any reflection on the show itself and is more of a testament as to how busy I am, but it was weird. And warranted mentioning.
When I finally sat my butt down on the sofa to rewatch, realizing I couldn’t put it off any longer, I was able to do it and I came back with same thoughts as I had going in. It was cute. Parts of it were really, really good and parts of it annoyed the ever lovin’ pants off me.
You’ll come across many a Kdrama fan who shipped the B-guy, Kang-hyuk, more than our hero Cha Chi-soo. I am not one of them. Choi Kang-hyuk was always just the B-guy to me and never a real contender for Eun-bi’s heart. And therefore, every time he butted in or called her ‘Wife’ made me want to grit my teeth.
One thing I did get a better picture of this time around was the fact that Eun-bi really did have feelings for Kang-hyuk. My first time watching I thought she was dating both of them simply because she could. But this time I could see she and Kang-hyuk had feelings brewing for each other before Cha Chi-soo realized what those weird feelings Eun-bi stirred in him were. There were several points within the drama where I felt like it could have just as easily been Kang-hyuk. He was the easy, logical choice. If Eun-bi had done a list for each it would have gone something like this:
Looking at this list it’s pretty easy which one is the safe and logical choice. As Eun Bi is trying so hard to reform herself, change from the person who reacts first and thinks later, Kang-hyuk is exactly who new Eun-bi should be with.
But is it completely possible to change your personality? You can better it, you can stop and think before you act, but you’re still the same person you were in the beginning. This is what Eun-bi learns throughout the drama. So for Eun-bi, the only choice was Cha Chi-soo.
This, of course, was Cha Chi-soo’s story. You’d think it was Eun-bi (especially with that killer last episode) but, though she ends more secure in herself, she’s still basically the same person at the end of the drama as she was in the beginning. (This is shown by the book end study hall’s in both times she is irritated by the cuddly couple, and old Eun-bi wants to aggressively tell them off, but she holds back.) Cha Chi-soo is the character who makes the complete change from the beginning of the story to where he showed up at the end.
Of course, since he is 19 and in high school at the start of the story, he had some (a lot) of growing up to do before he was worthy of his heroine.
I liked the character of Cha Chi Soo and the evolution of his character. From the very beginning, no matter how immature and snobby he was, he knew himself and what he wanted. It wasn’t until Eun-bi and her temper pushed back at him, letting him know, probably for the first time, that he couldn’t get away with everything that he started to change. Before Eun-bi came around, I’m guessing he never actually heard a ‘no’ he couldn’t weasel his way out of. He had his father wrapped around his little finger. Until Dad was in a near panic if Cha Chi Soo was unhappy. Look at the scene when he tried to get Eun-bi go back to school as a teacher just so that Cha Chi-soo could get his revenge at her for embarrassing him. Seriously?
I think his father was so intent on keeping him happy, to making sure Cha Chi-soo had everything that he wanted, and that nothing upset or bothered him was so that he would be happy with his life, unlike his mother. Cha Chi-soo was the only family he had left. And despite the way it ended up, his father still loved the wife who abandoned him all those years ago. Talking about her, listening to music she liked, looking forward to seeing her when he died. Since he couldn’t control her or her unhappiness, he needed to make sure that nothing like that never happened to Cha Chi-soo.
Which is weird considering how he cut Cha Chi-soo in the end. Unlike other Big Bad Kdrama Mamas, I didn’t mind him as much as you could tell that he truly cared for his son. His objection to Eun-bi is based on the past with Cha Chi-soo’s mother. He doesn’t want his son to have to live with the sort of pain he still deals with because he was unable to make his mother happy, or keep her with him. He thinks that there is no way anyone from Team Poor who could stay truly happy for the long term living with Team Rich.
Maybe he’s right. While I’m sure there are lots of advantages to being super rich, it seemed a pretty lonely existence. In the end after he’d chased away Cha Chi Soo, the father was there alone on Christmas.
I’ve meandered. So, his father really loves him. We can see that. It just doesn’t make sense in the end. When he wins and Cha Chi-soo comes home, abandoning Eun-bi to protect the ramyun shop and the family, he see’s just how unhappy his son is. He tries to relate to him in the way of the past–offering Cha Chi-soo a car to make him happy, trying to make him the kid he was in the past, but it doesn’t work. The gesture is rejected and Cha Chi-soo proves how, throughout this process he has become an adult with real feelings for himself and others. The tempest is out of the bottle and there’s no going back.
So when Daddy see’s Cha Chi-soo choose Eun-bi anyway, knowing what it means, knowing that whether it ended badly or not, why wouldn’t he cave? This is one Kdrama about face ending I could have gotten behind because it would have suited the story and even more so, the character himself.
There are some who believe at the end the father caved and gave Cha Chi-soo stocks and bonds, but I checked translations on both DramaFever and Viki, and they don’t support this assumption. Since I like the father and his relationship with Cha Chi-soo, I have hopes that in the future this is changed and he accepts the relationship, as, for better or worse, this is what his son has chosen for himself.
On my first watching I was pretty bitter about the dissolution of the family, everyone having to leave in their own directions. SPOILER PADAM, PADAM! It’s what burned my buttons about the ending of Padam, Padam. We spend how many episodes seeing this family build only to have it be destroyed by the end? Well what the fudge did I stay around for? END PADAM, PADAM SPOILER
It’s the same here. We watch the building of the restaurant, of the family only to have it all taken away at the end. They couldn’t have all just moved together? Weren’t they a family now? Although it made for higher stakes for our main couple at the end. They had to decide to be together knowing the stakes, which meant destruction not only for themselves, but for the people they cared for.
This time around? Eh, I’m better with it. Cha Chi-soo has acknowledged Kang-hyuk as his brother, so they are now officially family. Since Cha Chi-soo and Eun Bi are together, basically she’s his sister in law now. And since the younger boys are all friends now, I feel like this is a family who still cares about each other but just live in different houses. In my imagination I see them all getting together for holidays for ramyun and good natured ribbing. Okay, that sounds weird. But these are the little things I have to tell myself to make everything okay in my head heart.
But don’t think I’ve forgiven you Padam, Padam.
I loved the evolving relationship between Eun-bi and Cha Chi-soo. For being so completely different, they are well suited. With Cha Chi-soo, Eun Bi lets her true nature fly. She’s not afraid to put him in his place. If she had remained the ‘good Eun-bi’ would he have ever looked twice at her? Nope. We saw that clearly in the beginning. The met in the toilet, he put his patented moves on her and moved on.
Their second meeting he barely gives her notice:
its not until she lets the real Eun Bi out on the two timing boyfriend and his new girlfriend that he actually caught up in her.
From there it’s more of the same. Whenever she is cowering or new Eun Bi, he enjoys tormenting or playing with her, but it’s not unwil she whales him in the head with a volley ball that, for better or worse, she’s caught in his radar.
While I’m not a huge fan of the adult male not only having never experienced love, but seemingly completely shocked by the effects of it (what you’ve never watched a movie? Read a book?) Unlike Greatest Love, in FBRS I’m a little more forgiving as he is actually 19. And the fact that he keeps going to the doctors for the symptoms just tickles me.
But once he realizes what it is, and what (or who) he wants, Cha Chi-soo doesn’t hesitate going after it. While he may not be mature about his feelings, he refuses to give up even if it means giving up everything he has, even if he has to convince Eun-bi again and again.
Resulting in some of the sexiest kisses in all of Kdrama like the motorcycle kiss and the kimchi kiss.
But I love their quiet moments together, when learned to make ramyun and then presented it to her. Those scenes just about broke my heart.
I’m glad that Eun Bi didnt’ cave though. There were valid reasons why the relationship with someone like Cha Chi-soo wouldn’t work. So many other kdrama heroines would wallow and waffle. Eun Bi, for better or worse, continued to try to shut him down and out.
Luckily for us that didn’t work.
Wow. So this sounds like a total love fest doesn’t it? I may have liked it more than I thought. However, I still have one very large issue with this drama.
Sexism is crazy prevalent in Kdrama. It’s just something we have to accept (or choose to overlook) in order to watch. And usually I’m pretty good at it. There are some things that I let pass that would have my feminist card striped from me if word got out. *Shh….don’t tell anyone….I don’t even mind the odd wrist grab. However, this show with its fighting over Eun-bi as if she were a toy rather than a person with thoughts and feelings of her own? Burns my buttons. (It totally reminds me of Stars Falling From The Sky.)
The one yanking her away from the other, Kang-hyuk allowing her to go on dates with Cha Chi-soo (that’s where he lost her, right there. At the beginning she didn’t even want to date CHa Chi-soo.) Allowing her until it looked like they were getting too close–and don’t even start me on Kang-hyuk pulling the ‘I’m your brother card’. His insistence on calling her his wife? That scene with the neighborhood women when they all stood their jokingly ruining her reputation? If it were me, I would have run away too–you know–once I’d slapped the expletive out of the ringleaders Kang-hyuk and Cha Chi-soo. Reputation is so crucial over there and for them to try and one up each other while striping away her dignity? Um. Wow. I guess that irritated me more than I thought. As someone who gets embarrassed easily, I totally felt for her.
The final straw for me though was when Kang-suk removed the door from her bedroom. What. The. Fudge. She is a grown woman and you’re going to take away her door so you can make sure Cha Chi Soo isn’t in there? So you can go in at any time?
That might be where Kang-suk forever lost my approval.
While, yes, that scene was cute where the whole family ends up sleeping in Eun-bi’s room, it still irritated me. She was so stressed out over being the monkey in the middle that she collapses on the bathroom floor and the doctor tells her she just needs some rest. Can the two boys do that? Leave her alone for one night? Nope. The struggle continues. She asks them to leave her alone. She asks Hyun-woo to get them out, she asks Ba-wool to get everyone out. She’s simply ignored.
But like I said. Seeing them all together is cute. I think I was just spoiling for a fight after the door thing.
This is why though, I absolutely adore the last episode. The reversal of the usual fairy tale, that it’s the hero who’s locked up in the tower needing to be rescued by the charging princess? Probably one of the best scenes ever. Despite the on goings of the rest of the story, it was Eun-bi one who made the decision, for better or worse, of what she wanted for her life and she went out and got it. It doesn’t take away Cha Chi-soo’s sacrifice, the choice he made to protect her and the shop, but instead enhances it.
Usually I hate the last minute ‘noble idiocy’ kdramas so love to shove into their plots but here it seems really fitting. The Cha Chi-soo of the beginning wouldn’t have dreamed of putting others needs before his own. He wasn’t just doing this for Eun-bi, he went back to save the ramyun shop to save his new family from extinction. (He obviously hadn’t come up with my brilliant family in different houses analogy.) Eun-bi wouldn’t lose her father’s shop, Hyun-woo wouldn’t be caught for his father’s debts, and Ba-wool wouldn’t end up on the streets. He cared for all of them. His giving all of that up was the final growth of his character. But it was Eun-bi and her toilet plunger which saved him. Made him know that his sacrifice was unnecessary.
Okay. One question. Wouldn’t they have had to have been compensated for the land the house was on? Yes, the corporation was taking over the town, which totally sucks as eminent domain should not be used for cooperate purposes, but wouldn’t they have to be paid for that? Couldn’t they have taken the money and opened a new shop? I don’t know Korean law so I have no idea, but I kept thinking that while watching.
As I write this, I keep thinking of more and more to talk about. I feel like I’ve barely delved into al the twists and turns of these characters. Which can only mean one thing: It was really well written! The characters were crunchy layers dipped in chocolate rolled in a cookie crumble. There is nothing I love more than a cast of well written characters. I’m glad to note, while having now seen all of the Oh Boy! dramas, every single drama in the series is like that.
Will I watch this again? Before writing this I would have said no. But after looking at it and realize just how much I do like this drama and how good the main couple is? I can see myself sitting down to watch it.
Will I recommend it to others? Hellz yeah. The Oh Boy! series is now a staple on the recommendation list. It’s kind of funny that all the dramas are. Which is hard to say. This is a stellar writing/pd team, and I’m going to have to say I’ll check out anything they put out faster than a Hong Sister drama, even faster than a Kim Eun Suk piece.
And that’s saying something. Ramyun anyone?