Monday, January 28, 2013

Back Hug Scene (E18)

by Hanjae


I know that the back hug/pre-back hug scene is one of the sadder Imja couple moments, but I loved this because Young finally revealed to Eun Soo, in such a simple and heartbreaking manner, what he felt as she consistently kept her heart locked to him. "Is that why you're so far away?" - that one sentence says it all. From the audience's perspective, Eun Soo clearly loved Young and some of her most reckless schemes (from threatening Ki Chul by placing her knife at her own throat to marrying Deok Heung) was to keep him from harm. To Young, however, she may have cared about his safety, but her deepest thoughts, fears and feelings were never revealed to him. Her nightmares, the truth of her dealings with Deok Heung, the danger she's in - she keeps it from him because she doesn't want to hurt him, but from Young's perspective it makes her all the more unreachable.

Furthermore, we know from Eun Soo's drunken rant to Jang Bin that she had been consciously taking a step back every time she felt too deeply for Young, because she feared the pain and heartache that would ensue from loving him (or loving anyone in general). Young is perceptive and has obviously noted this subtle drawing away, too. Even when she was ill, she'd try to lighten a heavy moment with a joking comment - telling Young that he should not make getting angry with her a habit just in case she's not there anymore, for example. To Young, who had tried so hard to bridge the gap between them, it was more than he could bear that the real Eun Soo was still so distant from him, her heart closed to him. He could teach her how to ride, how to use a knife and even more, but she could no more transform into a Goryeo woman than he could learn how to use "heaven speak" and her thoughts remained thus hidden from him, despite his attempts to understand her. Just as he reached out a hand in Ep 15 to touch her messy hair but could only stop just short, no matter how hard Young ran to keep up, it seemed to him that Eun Soo was forever out of reach.

That's why I really appreciate the symbolism of Eun Soo being the one to run towards Young this time with her arms outstretched, demonstrating considerable contrast to their earlier interactions. Previously, she had always consciously or subconsciously turned her back on him, choosing instead to keep her distance; she ran from him despite his attempts to convince her that he's not a kidnapper and meant to keep her safe, she called him a murderer and rejected him, and she had even asked him to break his promise to her and preferred to run away rather than carry the risk of being the cause of his demise. Even the major developments in their relationship up until this point had not stopped Eun Soo from "turning her back" on a more subtle level; she continued to keep her distance by keeping her innermost thoughts from him.

It is Young's obvious hurt that eventually galvanizes Eun Soo into action. This major step for her character development may have come quite a bit later than Young's, but it's equally significant - the Eun Soo who was so afraid of being hurt emotionally that she not only ran from thoracic surgery to cosmetic surgery but also from love, made the conscious decision to love freely and face any risks head-on. This gutsy confession on Eun Soo's part also gives Young the confirmation that he had clearly been waiting for. It weighs heavily on him at this time and he is left unable to reply because she is in mortal danger from the poison, but he has also finally received the answer to his feelings and put to rest his growing insecurity that she had "no heart" for him.

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