July 22, 2012

Can Love Become Money? – Episodes 10-13 – Korean drama review

In episodes 10 through 13 of Can Love Become Money?, there is further development along story lines that have already been introduced. Ma In Tak (Yun Jung Hoon) and Yoon Da Ran (Uhm Ji Won) start to see each other as people. Da Ran experiences a crisis of conscience, and concludes that no matter how bad her situation becomes, she will draw the line at “becoming a scumbag.”
Da Ran and In Tak gaze at each other over a bowl of soup she has prepared for him
In Tak is confronted with his own black and white thinking, and the shades of grey required by a more compassionate perspective. They learn more about each others’ backstories, grow closer, and deny it to themselves, each other, and everyone else. They regard their upcoming separation with obvious but unexpressed reluctance. Both wrestle with ambivalence towards their problematic parents. We are given reason to question whether In Tak’s mom actually behaved as badly as he believes she did.

In Tak's Dalmatian dog Ttak Jji looks attentively into the cameraWe know where all of this is leading, of course, and it’s not entirely good. Da Ran gets to dress more like herself, but develops an annoying childish cutesiness. Ludicrous plot twists to throw couples together (like those that brought Da Ran and In Tak together in the first place) are practically mandatory in Korean drama, but the justification for the opening scene of Episode 10 rises to new levels of absurdity. Poor Ttak Jji appears and disappears from the plot as needed. If he understands the significance of kissing, that’s more than can be said for Da Ran and In Tak!

As for Kim Sun Woo (Jo Yeon Woo), we discover another reason for his escalatingly inappropriate interest in Da Ran. But why is he so blatant about it in front of his girlfriend’s (alleged) family, endangering a scheme into which he has invested so much?? Despite this, he manages to charm In Tak, who ought to know better, with a skillful blend of disarming honesty, flattery, and chutzpah.

We have learned Sun Woo’s motivation by now, thanks to Hong Mi Mi’s relentless jealousy (but understandable! the man is a total flirt!), but his plans for In Tak have yet to be unveiled. And there are hints of other conspirators lurking in the wings. As for Mi Mi, I fear he’s using her shamelessly. I don’t like her very much, but still. I hope he’s not that nasty.

In Tak and Da Ran sleep on the couch. His head is in her lap, and hers is on his shoulder

Mi Mi still eludes me, despite the new secret we learn about her, which is apparently unknown to Sun Woo. Wang Bit Na portrays Mi Mi competently enough in each of her several aspects, but somehow there is no center to unite them into a believable character. Once I started thinking about it, I realized this is true to a lesser extent of the other major characters as well (possibly excepting In Tak). Already-established personalities are bent to fit to the plot, which is a shame, since performances are definitely the best thing about Can Love Become Money?

Cha Eun Sol, poutingWe finally learn what In Tak was doing in the private room with Eun Seol. If anyone knows the name of this actress, please post a comment – she’s hilarious, a Princess of Pouts. In Tak’s other transgression develops a silver lining.

Yun Jung Hoon’s speech to visiting business partners is golden. He is utterly believable as a charismatic CEO. However, his daily working life and Da Ran’s role at the office are less convincing. For a high-level executive, he sure has a lot of leisure time to lounge around at home reading magazines (have you ever seen a man read so many magazines?!), and building models. And Da Ran may work like a slave at his home and on trips, but she seems to be primarily a water-bearer at the office. Drama writers, do your research! Executive assistants work their tails off, and your mostly female audience knows it, if you don’t.

Like a lot of Korean drama, the themes and storylines in Can Love Become Money? are quite Victorian (downright Dickensian at times). Characters refer to works of Victorian-era writers Victor Hugo and Hans Christian Anderson, and quote the Confessions of St. Augustine (also popular in that era). Western cultural references are not unusual, but these are more classical than most (compare to Love Rain, which references 70s tear-jerker Love Story). Weird, but fascinating.
In Tak's mom in a hospital gown begs his uncle to let her see her baby just once
Can Love Become Money? could go either way from here. I can’t tell whether it’s losing steam, or just pausing to deepen and gather momentum. I had no trouble watching 4 episodes in a row (twice), but I’m a lousy barometer, since I don’t fight very hard once I’m hooked. It’s still better than I thought it was when I watched it without subtitles, but less intriguing than I found it during episodes 8 and 9. I hope DramaFever doesn’t release the last 7 episodes all at once, or I’ll be in trouble!

Also with Yeon Jeong Hun:

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