[Cole Escola is a performer, raconteur, and co-creator (and co-star) of Logo's Jeffrey & Cole Casserole. There's only one thing he's never done, and that's watch a Korean drama. We asked him to watch Flower Boy Ramen Shop and recap it for us as a kdrama newbie.]
When Flower Boy Ramen Shop opens we meet our hero, Cha Chi-Soo, who is so painfully good-looking, the show felt it necessary to add a chime sound-effect every time he winks. You almost miss it though because you're busy crying over how pretty he is and how pretty you'll never be. Not that I was... I'm talking about a friend of mine... named George... George Macbook. Anyhow, he's on a plane back home to Korea from New York and he strikes up a conversation (in English) with an attractive woman sitting near him. Cha Chi-Soo's English is limited, but it doesn't matter because he tells her she has a pretty mouth and the next thing you know, he's leaving her house the next morning. She seems a little upset that he's leaving in such a hurry, but he winks at her and we hear the chime and then she's totally cool with it. We then learn that Chi-Soo is being chased by his very rich father's henchmen. He's trying to avoid them at all costs, knowing that if he's caught he'll be taken back to his father and have to face up to his responsibilities.
Next we meet our heroine, Yang Eun-Bi. Short-tempered, sensitive Yang Eun-Bi. With only 167 days left until the all-important civil service exam, Eun Bi is frazzled trying to study so that she can pass and someday earn the coveted job of being a teacher (I know what you're thinking, "Teachers? Coveted?" But remember this is Korea, not the U.S. ov A.). You can tell that Eun-Bi is serious about her studies because she wears glasses, flannel, and her hair is in a messy bun. After a frustrating study-session, Eun-Bi sees a Tarot Card reader to find out if she's going to pass this exam. The Tarot Reader instead tells her that she'll soon hear 'Destiny's Bell'. The kind of bell you hear when you kiss the man you're destined to be with. She also tells her to control her temper or she'll ruin everything. Eun-Bi seems upset and confused. She's never heard the bell before, even though she has a boyfriend. Hmm. I wonder if this means maybe Eun-Bi has yet to meet the man she's destined to be with. I wonder if it could be the handsome guy from the last scene...
Next we see Chi-Soo trying to outrun his fathers well-dressed goons. He ends up in a ladies room stall where guess who just happens to be going pee? That's right, Eun-Bi. She's obviously furious at having her privacy invaded (nobody likes to be startled when they're peeing) but Chi-Soo flashes his trillion-dollar smile and winks his chime-y wink. They lock eyes, almost kiss, and Chi-Soo tells Eun-Bi her mole is pretty (an odd compliment, but I'd take any attention from him I could get). We hear a bell ring. Could this be 'Destiny's Bell?' Only time (and more episodes) will tell. Once the coast is clear, Chi-Soo leaves the ladies room leaving poor, flannel-clad Eun-Bi all hot and bothered. What a jerk. What a gorgeous, gorgeous jerk.
At home, Eun-Bi tells her roommate, the pretty but superficial Kang Dong-Joo, about the encounter she had in the ladies' room, and 'Destiny's Bell' ringing. Dong-Joo tells her to focus on her studies rather than fortune tellers and perverts who hang out in ladies rooms.
Next we meet Chi-Soo's father, President Cha. You can tell he's rich because he's in a jacuzzi watching TV with red wine. He orders his men to keep searching for his son and bring him home.
Chi-Soo decides to hide out at his super-cute friend, Woo Hyun-Woo's, place. You can tell Hyun-Woo is super-cute because you want to sleep with him. He's also very sensitive. Wouldn't you be if you're dad ran away leaving you with a huge debt? Oh wait, mine did. Oh wait, this isn't about me. What I'm trying to get at is Hyun-Woo tells Chi-Soo he can't stay with him.
Meanwhile, uptown, Eun-Bi was having man troubles of her own. Her boyfriend is finally coming home from the army after two years of being away. On the day of his arrival Eun-Bi is upset because she's puffy from the ramen she ate the night before (replace ramen with whiskey and I can totally understand the feeling). Dong-Joo tells Eun-Bi she should forget about 'that punk' and tells her she cannot borrow her lacey white socks to meet him at the train station. Eun-Bi gets pissed (of course) and wears Dong-Joo's lacey white socks anyway. Apparently lacey white socks are the Korean version of black panties which are the American signal for, "we're gonna do it." But alas, when Eun-Bi shows up to meet her lover at the train station, she finds out he's already left without her.
Blue-balled and broken-hearted, Eun-Bi goes for a lonely stroll and to add insult to injury, her heel breaks off. I know I was supposed to feel terrible for her at this point, and guess what. I did.
Finally Chi-Soo is caught and dragged to his father who threatens to send him back to the U.S. Chi-Soo is horrified by this thought, and picking the lesser of two evils, decides he will go back to school instead. Anything to avoid having to speak English! I don't blame him, it gets old for me and it's the only language I speak (besides the language of love, but I'll save that for another blog).
Next, Eun-Bi attends her college carnival alone. Chi-Soo attends the carnival too. And would you believe they run into eachother? Well believe it. They end up sitting next to eachother. Chi-Soo orders a Sprite. Eun-Bi has Sprite... mixed into her rice wine (that's my kinda girl). Eun-Bi remembers the bells of destiny and wonders if Chi-Soo remembers her. He doesn't seem to. They make awkward conversation for a bit, Eun-Bi brings up astrology and discovers that Chi-Soo was born the year of the Rooster, making him 30 years old. As if the bells weren't enough, this makes her want him all the more. Then Eun-Bi sees something really upsetting. Her boyfriend, Kim Jae-Ho, is at the carnival... with another woman. She confronts them. Her boyfriend tells her she's been too clingy and uses the fact that she waited two years for him to get out of the army as an example. Nobody respects loyalty these days! Eun-Bi throws a water-balloon in the face of the bow-haired tramp her now EX-boyfriend is with, damaging her brand new nose and also splashing a little water on Chi-Soo's cashmere sweater. To seem less desperate and clingy, Eun-Bi gets into Chi-Soo's convertable, pretending they're together, and they leave the carnival.
In the car, Eun-Bi has a meltdown. She's upset she lost her man, terrified she won't pass her exams and, perhaps worst of all, her phone is a discontinued model (I totally sympathize. I'd show you my Nokia, but then I'd have to marry you).
Chi-Soo hates crying women and is still sore about the water on his Cashmere. He kicks her out of his car. Will nothing ever go right for Eun-Bi? I hope not. It's kind of fun to vicariously wallow in self-pity.
Once home, Eun-Bi throws out everything that reminds her of Jae-Ho. Her roommate assures her that once she's a teacher, she'll be able to attract men (again, this must be a Korean thing) and encourages her to be more forward.
The following day, Eun-Bi has a renewed zest for life. She decides she is going to be the cool city girl she knows she can be, and that she'll date a guy that drives his own car to work while wearing a suit. Such high hopes! She sees beautiful men at the coffee shop and rates them all. I'm still confused as to how the rating system works, but she's smart (she wears glasses, remember?) so I trust her.
Then guess who she runs into on her way to school? That's right, Chi-Soo. She decides to take her slutty roommate's advice and just ask him out, point-blank. He turns her down, but that fact is kind of over-shadowed once she sees him walking into HIGH SCHOOL. He's not a 1982 Rooster, he's a 1993 Rooster. He's 18 (that's seven years younger than Eun-Bi, for those who hate math).
I hope they end up together. Maybe that’s just the romantic pedophile in me. I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out!
My favorite words of wisdom from episode one of 'Flower Boy Ramen Shop'...
Read Cole's Episode 2 recap here!
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