“The one I trust, is you…”
The next two days are relatively thematic for me, for I chose characters that worked or played off of one another in the “third -wheel” position. This gives me the opportunity to show some love to my favorite secondary characters and most especially to one of my favorite characters of 2010!
The lines of character really are, on most counts, equal to the actions of a character but when you have a silent heroic character with the foil of a loquacious busybody, it’s even better. For when either of these characters make a profound statement, you are left stunned and elated. Also, perhaps, it’s the era that makes characters prone to be eloquent and jarring but every period piece I watch has the youngsters saying the darndest things.
I personally renamed this entry, “Third-Wheel Character Duo” because both these guys were both “thirdies” in their own right and though they don’t have a romantic pairing(necessarily), definitely worked best when together. These characters were the hottest pair on television last year, and a part of the most anticipated fusion sageuk, sending the effect of the “bromance” through the roof! Now to be honest, there’s nothing like a bromance. I do love a good love story but there is always something fresh and new, yet timeless about friends who genuinely love one another.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal gave us a drama watchers a wonderful present last year in the lifelong relationship of Gu Yong-ha(Yeorim) and Moon Jae-shin(Guloh). The was drama that was pinned “Joseon Crack” by most everyone watching, sadly, didn’t render the phrase for the main characters or lead actors. I, like everyone I knew, was addicted because I needed to see Yeorim and Gul-oh in any and every scene possible. Didn’t care how, didn’t care when.
The story, however, explored the life of a young female who finds herself posing as a male scholar, by royal decree, at Korea’s most prestige university. Cross dressing stories are about as fun as contract marriages, however, the lasting power of this drama hovered in the bromance department. The collaboration of those four kids to change the ideologies of Joseon society and education was not only fun to watch but wonderfully done, no matter how the one may feel about the finished product.
Out of the Joseon F4, Gu Yong-ha(Song Joong-ki) was most definitely my favorite. He was whitty and intelligent; facetious, artistic and dramatic. Like most characters, that won’t let you forget their name, his mantra said a lot about him as a character. Though he was undeniably indelible, I do believe many around him barely knew who he really was, what side he was on (politically or socially) or his ultimate end game. They most definitely didn’t know all he was capable of. For Gu Yong-ha was the kind of guy that could weasel women everywhere out of her socks and inevitably, their drawers then con a man; young, old, rich or poor, out of his pocket change. And, no matter how delicate or improbable, it’s pointless to be surprised by any information he may hold, or who’s garment he may have up his sleeve. But above all these things Gu Yong-ha was the kind of friend no one wants to live without.
“Although I am upset that my decade long friend deceived me. I’m always on your side; no matter what.” Gu Yongha episode 12
Everyone needs a friend that always thinks the best of you, wants the best for you and never gives up on you, whether you are right or misguided, courageous or a scaramouch. Gu Yong-ha is the friend that stands up for you but calls you out when needed and never allows you to sell yourself short. He may have appeared to take everything as a joke but he never left Jae-shin to fight alone, fail out of school or ruin his life. He loved him and Yong-ha’s love was deep and unbending. Many may argue that Yong-ha hand romantic feelings for Jae-shin, and I won’t disagree(entirely) but I feel his feelings were much deeper than that and when someone is that rooted inside you, it’s inevitable to confuse those emotions with romance. For sometimes, the love of your life or soul-mate isn’t a romantic consort but a ride-or-die companion.
“Pretending not to want. Pretending not to be jealous. And pretending to be strong and not affected by such petty things. If I were you, I wouldn’t waste useless energy, but devote my all to making her mine.” Gu Yong-ha episode 16
In my opinion, Gu Yong-ha was an invaluable friend; one, not even Jae-shin fully understood. He was complicated and guarded but relied heavily on his trust and belief in Jae-shin in a way that was priceless. He wasn’t the most forthright personality, nor was he gallant. Instead, he was an intuitive man of his word; someone who lived by the advice he imparted– a trait he and Jae-shin shared.
Practically from the first moment we meet Moon Jae-shin(Yoo Ah In), later known to all as Gul-oh, he lifts Yoon-hee’s head with a small pearl:
“Don’t bow your head so easily. And don’t kneel to just anybody. That’ll become a habit, and once that’s a habit, it’s tough to fix.” Moon Jae-shin episode 1
Pretty soon, we realized, like Yong-ha, Moon Jae-shin had a trademark phrase of his own:
“…It might become a habit.”
Throughout the remainder of the series he continues to be a source encouragement and quiet wisdom to those around him. One of the most memorable instances has to be when he cleverly shares the origin of this phrase with a young servant boy as he washed his younger brother’s feet:
As I’ve mentioned before, Moon Jae-shin was a third-wheel character that I respected, for he imparted simple truths that gave the heroine complete support, without being overbearing or suggestive. He encouraged her to do her best, protect herself and remain true to who she was. He empathized and was a shoulder to her. Gul-oh was never pining in the shadows, for he was much more to Yoon-hee than her own personal dark knight– he was her friend.
“There are some things…that no matter what anyone says, you can’t be consoled. But even if you can’t feel better, you can make yourself forget. You just have to torture your body a bit. It’s pretty useful. It’s been awhile but I think I might try it out myself…you should try it too.” Moon Jae-shin episode 13
I won’t say that he didn’t care for her, but his incumbent goal was never to be her lover. My favorite scene with Yoon-hee is proof that one of the most significant expression in SKKS was respect. Gul-oh was a man of few spoken words but when he did, they were quick simple and to the point. Most of all, his words came after listening, intently, without distraction, which made him even more endearing (1:31-3:15):
“What is there to think about? Just tell the person the truth. Tell the person you’re sorry and you want forgiveness—just show them how you feel, like you’re doing to me now.” Moon Jae-shin episode 15
Yeorim and Gul-oh were the most outstanding duo out there because whether it was deliberate or not, they were a tremendous support to their friends. These boys confided in one another, listened to each other and worked together to help others succeed whilst growing as individuals. Friendship is one of the most valuable, irreplaceable relationships in life and these boys represent some of the finest practical examples of it. They weren’t masters at relational psychology but they managed to be amazing at being the best of friends.
Here’s my favorite scene between Jae-shin and Yong-ha, further example of the depth of their friendship, a connection that pierces the soul: