Gu Family Book: I am so confused…

hairfix1collage photo hairfix1collage_zps83eefd0a.jpgFirst the good news. The hair appears fixed. I wouldn’t call it sexy or stunning, but it’s inoffensive and that is beyond good enough as far as this show’s concerned. (I will say, imagining the in-story reasons for all the changes has kept me amused.)

On to the not so good news (so, the bad news? except maybe it’s not? so, the confused news?) I am  really, really unsure of where they’re taking Chung-jo’s story. And, as she’s my favorite character and I’d like her story to end happily (or at least, well), I’m getting a tiny bit worried.

Huge spoilers through episode 12 below…

Frankly, both Park siblings are far and away my favorite characters. Their story intrigues me in a way the main characters’ story just doesn’t. I don’t dislike the main characters — Kang-chi and Yeo-wool are adorable and especially adorable together but… Adorable isn’t enough for me. Not in a story this dark. I much prefer the desperate struggle Tae-seo and Chung-jo are going through. I like seeing characters fighting their way back up when life has kicked them to the bottom.

The problem is, I’m not sure the drama is going to show them fighting back. Their story is more an emotional and psychological one and I don’t think that sort of storytelling is this drama’s purview. As can be seen in the total mess of Tae-seo’s storyline. taeseo photo taeseo_zps113e633d.jpg(Did he really think Kang-chi betrayed him? Was he really so foolish he believed the bad guys? Or was it all a result of the hypnosis?)

I can see how the hypnosis made for a good excuse to have the otherwise honorable Tae-seo turn on Kang-chi. The betrayal would have made no sense otherwise. But then why is he being treated like he actually did betray Kang-chi? And for that matter — why wasn’t the betrayal expected? (For a man everyone knew had been compromised by the baddies, he was given a ton of unsupervised freedom. Too bad the good guys didn’t have a flock of highly trained soldiers to make use of — oh wait.)

And then there’s the criminal ignoring of Chung-jo by our good guys. Way back in the beginning she sacrificed her own rescue so that Kang-chi could rescue her brother first. Which was awesome and brave and selfless and a huge reason she’s my favorite character. She was facing a pretty horrible fate, but Tae-seo was facing death. So she made the wise choice. Then she made it again when Kang-chi came to rescue her, instead telling him to prove her father’s innocence and get her out legally. At the time, Kang-chi was operating on his own, and without support they wouldn’t have gotten far. However…

Kang-chi quickly found support with Yeo-wool’s dad and the Lee Soon Shin. And he… totally forgets about Chung-jo. It’s all, “let’s get Daddy Park’s silver!” and proving Daddy Park’s innocence and saving his daughter falls by the wayside. chungjo photo chungjo_zpsd25be37e.jpgUntil Tae-seo finally learns his sister’s been sent to a Gisaeng house and is set to be raped by the head bad guy, Mr. Rapey McRapes-a-lot. It’s his tearful begging that finally sets Kang-chi in motion. And our good guys… are annoyed.

Why? Because the head Gisaeng (played by Jung Hye-young who is awesome so of course I love her character) has it all under control. Except for how she totally doesn’t. Because all she can do is say, “you’ll have to kill me first” and Mr. McRapes-a-lot is totally fine with that. So it’s a good thing Tae-seo begged and Kang-chi acted and Chung-jo is rescued right out of there. (Which also saves the head Gisaeng’s life — no thanks to her well-trained soldier allies, by the way.)

Only there’s no room for Chung-jo in the inn. Apparently harboring a convicted traitor (Tae-seo) is fine. But a runaway state slave is a bridge too far for our good guys. (Again, they’ll take dead Daddy Park’s silver, but to hell with his daughter.) So Kang-chi is forced to take a girl with no outdoors skills on the run. Real show of compassion on our good guys’ part. And then the unsupervised Tae-seo botches the rescue (because of stupidity? the hypnosis? I have no idea) and, long story short, Chung-jo is recaptured by Mr. Rapey McRapes-a-lot and — big surprise — he rapes her.

rape photo rape_zps4bf3a581.jpg

It’s hideous what happens to the Park siblings (Tae-seo is made to see that his sister’s been raped and is told it was the price for his life); they’ve both been utterly debased. I really, really want to see them fight their way back up from where the show has left them, but…

aftercollage photo painfulcollage_zps069900c9.jpg

The problem is I’m afraid the show won’t let that happen. Per the drama, this is Kang-chi’s fight. And the Park siblings have been (very ham-handedly, I’ll add) set against him. He feels they’ve both betrayed and rejected him (though Tae-seo seems to have earned some forgiveness). So I worry Chung-jo has been put through all this to become evil. Which is pretty gross and will make me very, very angry if it turns out that way. Hopefully I’m just paranoid and wrong. But I worry. And I watch.

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14 thoughts on “Gu Family Book: I am so confused…

  1. The writing of this drama is so utterly clunky that I stopped watching after the first few episodes. So much stupidity around and I’m done with rolling my eyes and banging my head on the table for sheer frustration. In any drama. Hence TEN2 is the only currently airing drama I’m watching atm (it’s great btw). I’m probably going to continue Cruel Palace at some point, when I have more time. I liked what I’ve seen of it so far.

    IDK, but I think that the writing (along with overall quality) in k-dramas has taken a deep dip downwards since the days I started watching them. Or maybe it was always so and I just didn’t notice…. Be how it may but I’ve never had this long dry season before.

    • I’m far too new — especially to live-watching — to make a general call on the state of k-dramas today versus yesteryears. I’m not feeling a dry season as of yet — but I’ve also not hit a “Shut Up Flower Boy Band” or “Queen Inhyun’s Man” level of good as of yet. (“Jung Ok Jung: Live in Love” may well make it there — we shall see.) But as you can see, I’m only going back a year in comparison so… 😉

      I definitely agree that Gu Family Book is clunky. That’s why I’m worried about where the Park siblings are going, especially Chung-jo. If her story ends well, then I’ll be generally happy while acknowledging the writing isn’t that great. If her story ends badly… then I get to do a rant review! Which can be fun in its own way.

      • I think I fell so fast and hard in love with dramas that I probably did not pay attention to stuff like the quality of writing. 😉 When you look at your beloved through pink glasses you tend not to see faults as everything is coming up roses. Besides the whole world was new and shiny, so even those now really annoying tropes were just part of the package and kinda amusing.

        Well, the first, heady love is long gone and I’m noticing the flaws more and more. Some I can forgive as sort of quaint quirks of the drama world but others just make me frustrated and ranty. Gosh, I’m turning into a grumpy old curmudgeon, aren’t I XD

        As for the dip in quality, I take it from someone who truly knows and it’s just in the past year or so that I’ve started to take note and admit it myself. Never thought I’d go there. o_0

        • Grumpy curmudgeons are the much needed salt of any fandom! Especially for those of us still in our honeymoon stage (I think I’m still wearing the pink glasses, if I’m honest with myself — there’s still a freshness to the tropes and standards for me). At least, I think it helps me develop my critical eye — and therefore helps me appreciate what really does work. (If that makes any sense at all!)

          Dramabeans has a big list of Year in Review summations from 2007 to present and I recall there being years that all the writers agreed provided slim pickings. Maybe this is one of the fallow years? It does make sense that there’d be off times. Writers get tired, the fresh blood either hasn’t arrived or still have some kinks to work out. I wonder if the fairly new competition from cable networks are causing a bit of a stir-up as well?

          Either way, I feel like it’s something that’ll pass. Awesome dramas may be filming as we speak! 😉

          (I am really curious to see if the hotlink works in comments…)

      • Oh yes, there has always been lean k-drama years, it’s just that they seem to be coming along more frequently these days. For me anyways.

        I don’t know if you are familiar with Mr X’s site, The Vault? When you feel like taking a proper look into k-drama world (without them pink glasses ^^) from anno dazumal to present, that’s a very good place to go. There’s also a lot of cool info on how the business works in general, real eye openers some of those tidbits. In the past me and X frequently didn’t quite see eye to eye about certain dramas but recently I’ve found myself agreeing more and more with his assessments. 😉

        • I have poked about The Vault every now and again. It’s definitely a treasure trove of information and I’ve just dusted the surface at this point. (Unfortunately, I find dark backgrounds/light font hard to read so I’m taking my time.) I do find I learn something each time I go. He’s a delightful and knowledgable curmudgeon, indeed. (I don’t think he’d take that as an insult.)

  2. Hi there! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Ep 12…I’ve finally caught up. I’m happy to report that I’ve enjoyed all 12 episodes! 🙂 And whenever Kang-chi transforms into a monster, or a reference is made to half-human identity, or when there’s a close-up of the beaded bracelet, I can’t help but remember a favorite Japanese Manga series, that is, “InuYasha”. 🙂

    I think it was a combination of a very strong hypnosis and a strong sense of responsibility to protect his remaining family, his sister, that drove Tae-seo to foolishly betray Kang-chi. That the good guys knew he was subjected to hypnosis and still let him roam around freely was also puzzling to me. But perhaps having Tae-seo wear a blindfold when facing Kang-chi was the writers’ way of showing the good guys found a solution that mitigate the ill-effects of hypnosis. Still, Mr. Dam and his military experts (the good guys) should have been more suspicious and vigilant of Tae-seo’s actions since he was hypnotized by the bad guys…Regarding Kang-chi’s apparent forgetting about Chung-jo, I also thought the same; I thought it was abrupt that Kang-chi “moved on” after Chung-jo refused to escape with him and requested him to prove her father’s innocence first. But then I recall a scene, after the aborted rescue, where Kang-chi told Yeo-wool about Chung-jo’s plea – perhaps this is the writers’ way of letting us know that Kang-chi did not forget Chung-jo. Maybe it appeared Kang-chi has forgotten Chung-jo because it was at the same time he learned about his half-human identity, wasn’t it? Didn’t for a brief time only (thanks to Yeo-Wol) Kang-chi fight his monster self and sulk and then eventually joined the Admiral and Mr. Dam’s team, so he can work on rescuing Chung-jo,Tae-so, and the Inn?…While I’m okay with the focus placed on the Park siblings’ plight and its connection to Kang-chi’s main story, I think Gon’s character’s airtime has suffered as a result. Perhaps the remaining episodes will show more of Gon. But so far, it appears his character (despite the hairdo critiquing lately) is not that useful to the overall story. Finally, I too have not seen enough K-dramas to predict the future twists in their stories, but I hope Chung-jo, Tae-so and Kang-chi will together punish that despicable villain, aka Jo Gwan-woong…I can hardly wait for next week’s episodes’ offerings: Chung-jo’s imminent change? New lady (bad or good) character? Someone we thought is dead is about to return???

    • Oh my gosh, InuYasha!! I was so into that show back in the day. 🙂 (The monk, Miroku was one of my favorite characters — I do like characters with a dark backstory.) Now that you mention it, I can see the resemblance.

      I think you’re right that Kang-chi began his fight with his demon-side right after Chung-jo refused his rescue. So I do see that he had other things on his mind. It’s really less him and more the adults I’m kind of side-eying for dropping the ball with her. (Their eagerness for her dad’s silver just underlined her being ignored for me.) Though I also think it’s more a writing issue than a character one. So while what I see happening puts Mr. Dam in a bad light with me, I can also see that it’s not actually the writers’ intention for me to see his actions (or inactions) that way. So I’m prepared to let it go if they give me reason. (The show works better, I think, if you’re willing to handwave stuff. ;))

      Gon is being criminally underused. Fortunately, Sung Joon is good enough that just watching his reactions as he stands in the back of various scenes is fun for me. Plus, I kind of expected his not getting a lot of airtime because of his secondary status. (I wondered if the actor and his people chose this role simply for the exposure of being in a primetime, main channel, drama?)

  3. Oh my freaking god, I cannot agree with everything you just said more!!!!!!!!!!!

    That episode made me so so so angry and I actually uploaded my own rant to my blog which pretty much says everything you just posted above!

    The whole episode actually made me feel sick and I do not understand where they are going with Chung Jo’s storyline at all!!

    But I am a whole 2 episodes behind now (only seen up to episode 12) so maybe something good will still happen….

    • I’m still at ep. 12 as well — so the wait and see continues. But yeah — it was pretty ugly. That they made so much effort to save the silver while ignoring Chung-jo just underlined the grossness for me.

      I’ll have to go check out your rant! (A good rant can be so much fun. ;))

      • Yeah I hadn’t even thought about where the adults were in all of this until you mentioned it. That makes me even angrier because the idea that they are all so willing to take a dead mans silver but not at all bothered to protect his daughter from rape of all things is pretty bloody low!

        I am getting all riled up again just thinking about it…ggggrrrr…..

        • Heh. I didn’t mean to re-rile you. 😉 My hope is that it’s sloppiness on the writers’ part (they didn’t think about how it’d look that there’s a big silver-heist, meanwhile Chung-jo…) and not how the characters are actually supposed to be. So I’m preparing to handwave… depending on how Chung-jo’s story turns out. That’s my ultimate decider.

  4. Yeah I think you are probably right about that! 🙂 I may just need to calm down and enjoy the drama without reading too much into this one downer incident….

    It’s weird how totally fine I am to completely overlook plot holes in other areas of this drama but when this awful thing happened to Chung Jo I was suddenly nitpicking every character and plotline involved. I guess it is just such a sensitive topic that if you are really going to do that to one of your main characters you had better look at all the plotting details involved and do it right.

    But oh well…. I still haven’t seen any further yet but I read that the next few episodes bring the cute, so I think I will just try and enjoy this drama for what it is and maybe not hope for quite as much as I did at the beginning….. 🙂

    • I guess it is just such a sensitive topic that if you are really going to do that to one of your main characters you had better look at all the plotting details involved and do it right.

      I agree. The show’s invited an 800lb gorilla into the room and then asked us viewers to ignore it. I’m honestly not sure I can, but I can tell I’m kind of expected to. Which leads to all kinds of confusion.

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