Sungkyunkwan Scandal, episodes 3 to 8

Guys, is Song Joong-ki available to buy somewhere out there? To put in my little wittle pocket? So I can stop making gifs??

ANYWAY. An observation:

1) If you learn of the girl’s gender identity early on, and she knows you know, you guys will fall in love. Or fall into attraction with each other at least.
2) If you know she’s a girl, but she doesn’t know you know, and you don’t let her know you know (!!!!!), then you guys are fucking doomed. Weep.
3) If you don’t know the girl’s identity until there is no other alternative, you will fall in love anyway.

And then the invisible fourth option is, if hot guy #1 and hot guy #2 are in cahoots like this:

Then their music cue is:

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*cough*

On to more serious things like the completely unbelievable male/male relationships in this drama after the jump!

I don’t want to go too much into the whole what-I-like/what-I-don’t-like schtick for this drama, so I’ll just briefly say that:

This is not the genre of dramas I usually like. There are definitely light-hearted moments, endearing moments, utterly cute moments, but at the heart of it, this drama is not about that. The character dynamics are definitely worthy of watching, but the overall plot of the story is not something I’m invested in. (I have a similar problem with all the other fusion saegeuk’s I’ve watched — Hong Gil Dong, Strongest Chil Woo — is that once the political plot kicks in, I’m completely out, and I can already sense that about SKK Scandal.)

I also don’t really feel guilty admitting that I’m watching this for Yoo Ah-in and Song Joong-ki, nor do I feel bad saying that Yoochun and Park Min-young are lackluster and completely unappealing. I think that the dialogue is really ham-handed, and is filled with the kind of positive-spirit-I-am-so-enlightened-feel-good-encouragement stuff that I am not a fan of. Are there things that are done really nicely about the drama? Definitely. The scenery is gorgeous, the music is for the most part well-chosen. But that does not a good drama make.

Now, something else that’s been a head-scratcher for me is this:

The audience obviously knows that Kim Yoon-shik is really Kim Yoon-hee, a girl. We also know that Lee Seon-joon doesn’t know that, but Moon Jae-shin does. (Goo Yong-ha also kinda knows, but his knowledge doesn’t have any bearing on the romantic relationships involved, so it’s not as important that he knows.)

The thing that irks me about how the love triangle is portrayed is that under the set of hetero-normative constructs of Korean society, the moments of romantic development between the lead couples can only occur had the male leads known that Kim Yoon-hee is a girl.

Meaning, the audience can sit at ease when they watch this:

and this:

Because they know that ultimately it’s just a boy with a boy-in-drag-who’s-a-girl.

Not only am I talking about rampant homophobia within Korean society that makes such male/”male” moments possible, it’s unconvincing on just a pure point of continuity. During one other scene, two different male characters are talking about something, and one of them goes up to brush another one of them on the face, like so:

The guy being touched has a pretty violent reaction, questioning where he thinks he’s touching, implying that they’re both dudes and dudes very obviously do not touch each other affectionately like that. We’re supposed to buy that Lee Seon-joon just looks affectionately at Park Yoon-shik while “he’s” napping on his shoulder, when in a scene just moments ago there’s a huge stigma against one guy merely patting down another guy’s face?

And I bring up this whole point because it unrealistic and it’s sloppy writing. I don’t mean to be oversensitive about these things, but I think it’s a cheap fan-service trick to create moments of male/female intimacy in the story that don’t have any basis because if Kim Yoon-shik were truly a man, writers would never write those scenes because they know the Korean audience would be uncomfortable with the male/male physical attraction. They are writing all of this under the guise that the audience comfortably knows Kim Yoon-shik is actually a really pretty Park Min-young under the drag.

What would get me really interested is if you give me something a la “Coffee Prince” or “You’re Beautiful,” where it’ll be more realistic if the male characters are attracted to the other “boy,” and then deal with their sexuality and the stigmas brought up. I’m not saying that every guy who feels attraction to another guy must question their sexuality or must fight stigma in order to prove something, but this is an issue so rarely talked about in Korean mainstream and Korean television that I think it more beneficial to draw these issues out in a very step-by-step fashion, even if it only happens in a fictional story.

We’ve yet to get a trendy drama with two main male leads who are attracted to each other, so I wish writers would stop using girl-dressed-up-as-boy scheme just to create some fake thrills and cheap romance without actually having to deal with any of the murkier consequences of boy-actually-attracted-to-other-boy. It’s like, by the time Lee Seon-joon figures out he is attracted to Kim Yoon-shik, there won’t be an awkward moment where he finds it weird to like another boy, the writers will pull the rug from under and shout, “JUST KIDDING, KIM YOON-SHIK IS A GIRL! All is right in the heterosexual world!”

I know I’m asking of too much, but this drama could’ve really gone to the next step if maybe more compelling writing were at play.

But until then, here are more gifs to make all the pesky thinking go away,

  • yssatorns

    song joong ki needs to get his own drama huh?… it’s about time!

  • cattey

    I seriously LOVE this post! He’s so freaking adorable! Right now, you are one of the most awesome people in this earth!!!

  • tiacosas

    I have to agree with cattey! I love this post and I love this blog for both bringing up these issues and giving us those awesome gifs.

    I SO agree with you!!!

    Sometimes, people say that these kind of dramas are just for fun and that we shouldn’t put a lot of thought into them, but I can’t help it. Song Joong-ki is beyond adorable and, at the time, he’s the one that makes me follow this one. In the beggining, I felt I loved it, but now, with the OTP dynamics, I just can’t clearly see what’s going on. Especially regarding this point:

    “I don’t mean to be oversensitive about these things, but I think it’s a cheap fan-service trick to create moments of male/female intimacy in the story that don’t have any basis because if Kim Yoon-shik were truly a man, writers would never write those scenes because they know the Korean audience would be uncomfortable with the male/male physical attraction.”

    (Sadly, not only korean audiences would be uncomfortable. It happens all around the globe, and in bigger proportions that I’d thought.)

    On the other hand, we have to be honest, homosexuality was a big deal in past times (even more when we’re talking about a noble-family guy), so it’s kinda coherent that men acted like that. Maybe (and this is me trying to find an explanation for this mess) they want to write Sun-joon’s character as someone more sensitive and open minded than those braggy macho guys? If that was the case, I’d like to see him struggling a little more. I mean, imagine how would the scenario be if the son of the Noron faction admitted he’s fallen for a boy???!!! He’d be banished at least. I think that’s what I find more disturbing, how easily he falls for her is not coherent with his character. Furthermore, his struggling (á la Coffee Prince, or, in a comedic tone, Jeremy in YAB) would’ve been more compelling and interesting to watch. If that doesn’t happen, well, the drama will be reduced to what you clearly wrote:

    “It’s like, by the time Lee Seon-joon figures out he is attracted to Kim Yoon-shik, there won’t be an awkward moment where he finds it weird to like another boy, the writers will pull the rug from under and shout, “JUST KIDDING, KIM YOON-SHIK IS A GIRL! All is right in the heterosexual world!”

  • http://tailorstitch.blogspot.com/ tailorstitch

    the gif then the music…*dead* lmao
    joong-ki is the only reason why i started watching the show and i’m loving it more than i thought i would to be honest. I’m sure when the political stuff kicks in its going to get annoying, but the good moments will hopefully cancel it out…hopefully.

  • Alixana

    I like the lead actors~ Yoochun is more than decent and I think he has lots of potential and Yoon-hee actress irritates much less than PSH in YB. She has a soothing deep voice and is overall a lovely gender-bender.
    Tho I agree with you on the all homosexuality thingie. :P
    But I prefer to turn my brain off and just enjoy the show than to think it through and look for flaws. How do you think I managed to get through Bad Guy?

  • mintyboy

    It’s weird that my feelings on SKK have changed a complete 180 after watching these later episodes. I still love it to death but now I see the glaring inexperience in Yoochun’s acting. Within the beginning episodes I was OK with his acting since I thought his character was shy and tried to put up a facade therefore a bit emotionless. In these later episodes, especially #9, it’s just so bad that I can’t even “turn my brain off” anymore. The boy cannot do subtle scenes, or I think that he’s not grasping enough how his character should act (especially the scene when YH confronts SJ about the $50). There was no emotion behind his staring at her while she told him off. It could just me being picky but after finishing Tamna, Yoochun needs to take a learning lesson from Park Kyu (GYANDARIIII, sorry had to do that) about emoting while just looking at someone.

    It kind of pains me to say this but Amy was so right in her previous post (because I love the couple, not that I disagree with Amy)about the two weak leads. Again, it seems like neither of them know how to connect with their characters. Please stop making YH tears up when any confrontation pops up, god, people knows you have big eyes, we don’t need to see them glistening to drive the point home that you’re hurting. AND, I think you should be giving off more angry vibes than hurt in some scenes, but blah on the weak acting/characterization. Such poor female attributions.

    On the homophobia bits, I didn’t mind it as much while watching the episodes but now that Amy had brought it up, it’s quite jarring as well. However, I can shut my brain off about that topic, but not the acting.

    Lastly, wheeww…YONGHA + JAESHIN = BEST OTP EVVVVEERRRRR!!!!! now that’s a homosexual relationship I want to explore more on, lol. Sorry for taking up so much space. I love you, Amy. LOL.

  • http://iamjunivel.weebly.com/ Junivel

    i totally love this drama.. when is the ep 11?? cant wait !

  • Bex

    Wow. I mean, wow. Lately, I’ve been completely obsessing over Sungkyunkwan Scandal, thinking it was one of the best dramas I’ve seen recently and you’ve just slapped me hard around the face and gotten me out of my ridiculous, unoticed fangirly state. Those weird, homosexual moments in it just don’t seem realistic in the slightest now that you’ve analysed them. It wasn’t like in Coffee Prince, where the main lead would react violently to the fact he even had the slightest attraction. And a reaction that violent was in MODERN days. This is old-fashioned and homosexuality was probably forbidden then. I just wanted to say thanks for the wake up call, and I’ll be looking out for small flaws like this from now on. :)

  • Bex

    p.s. I love how the gif with Joong-ki and Yoo Ah In is named ‘babymakers’ after I saved it. xD

  • Sara

    loved your thoughts on SKKS….a spot on the Seon Joon-Yoon Hee dynamic that I didn’t manage to put eloquently into words….everytime Yoon Shik cries I got uncomfortable instead of feeling moved….”you’re going to blown your cover” feeling though I did enjoy their interaction/awareness of each other for the enjoyment factor but it is not realistic enough….Yoon Hee is a really great character that I wish for a more experienced and convincing actress and better writing ….anyway will just enjoy the ride of SKS

  • Cami

    Sorry if you find these types of questions annoying, but where do you watch/download this show? Seriously, finding subbed versions are impossible.

  • Epyon

    @Cami: Yellowcinema.com

    Please don’t stop with the gifs, I love your gifs. <3 I want more of the bromance gifs. XD

    I like the lead actors. Micky's good enough for his first big role (there are worse actors *khm*Kim Hyun Joong*khm*), especially in episodes 10+ when LSJ starts getting attracted to KYS. The main girl is acting good as far as I'm concerned. Ok, she cries a lot, but it's not like she wrote the screenplay. Of course, the best actors in there are Yoo Ah In & Song Joong Ki, but they are more experienced anyway. XD

    ''What would get me really interested is if you give me something a la “Coffee Prince” or “You’re Beautiful,” where it’ll be more realistic if the male characters are attracted to the other “boy,” and then deal with their sexuality and the stigmas brought up.'' Well, that happens later. After episode 10. LSJ first has to start getting attracted to KYS in order to feel like that, in episodes 1-9 he just saw him as a friend, this other thing didn't cross his mind. XD It's not like in Coffee Prince and You're Beautiful they felt attracted to the ''guy'' right away, it happened with time. Same thing here. And this drama is 4 episodes longer. :D

    Anyway, SKKS just keeps getting better and better, the last episodes (13 & 14) killed me, LSJ, MJS & GYH were all awesome. Just when you think that MJS can't get any cutter and hotter… boom. Yes.He.Can. *swoon* Damn, I want at least 1 kiss between MJS & KYH before the main guy gets her. XD

  • lome

    “The guy being touched has a pretty violent reaction, questioning where he thinks he’s touching, implying that they’re both dudes and dudes very obviously do not touch each other affectionately like that”
    in my point of view,He was angry cause the other guy touched him at the spot that hit by his beloved/crushed one’s pillow.and he thought of not washing his face in near future.How dare the other touched his precious cheek..I think
    and I love your gift

  • Grace

    This Korean Drama is one of the most beautiful drama that I haven’t seen before. I really really love this kind of Korean Drama. 

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