When I first saw Go Dok-mi’s home it seemed like such a wonderful sanctuary. And you can tell she sees it that way too. She’s carved out a little safe space in her life and it’s a comfortable, cozy place. She calls it her nest at one point, and I totally see (and envy! look at her bookshelves!) it as that for her.
But then there’s the way she cannot, just cannot interact with the world. She can’t ask for the money owed her for her work. She has to brace herself to go out and get toothpaste. And if there’s any moment of social interaction, she knows she’s going to handle it awkwardly. (Tripping her way into the tenant meeting… of course she tripped, and in front of everyone, too.) And what the drama understands is that such a burden becomes such a frustration that it becomes anger.
Whether it’s turned inward or outward, the anger is there with Dok-mi. That’s why I adore that actress, Park Shin-hye, chose to give her a deep voice (deeper than I remember hearing her use before — even when she was pretending to be a boy in You’re Beautiful). Because it’s not that Dok-mi is timid. She’s terrified. And there’s a world of difference between those two words.
And I think… I suspect… I have this sense that Enrique knows that anger. Not that I think he gets it on a conscious level. But he definitely sees that Dok-mi is trapped and uncomfortable. Because, while I’m not sure if you’d call it social anxiety, Enrique definitely gets loneliness. He strikes me as one of the loneliest characters in the show. (Probably because he doesn’t have a nest. Him standing outside Jin-rak’s apartment, suitcase in tow, unwanted by everyone — I ached for him.)
So this drama is hitting me right where I live. I’ve been as nomadic as Enrique — not quite as internationally, but enough so “Where are you from?” is a complicated question for me. And I have phases where I dread going outside and grocery shopping is an achievement. Not to Dok-mi’s level by any stretch — but enough to get where she’s coming from. Enough that if the drama weren’t handling it right, I’m not sure I could bear watching it.
But they are handling it right. Even while tackling these potentially button-pushing (for me) issues, Flower Boy Next Door is funny. I mean genuinely, laugh out loud, funny. (You can’t really tell that from the screen-caps I chose… but I swear a few moments after Enrique’s puppy-dog eyes of epic sadness, I was giggling.) And warm. So very, very warm. I’m trying to keep my enthusiasm under control, but as of right now, Flower Boy Next Door pretty much owns my heart.