Title: The Idle Mermaid/Surplus Princess/The Mermaid
Cool quote: “Everyone has a different definition of love. Love to one person is letting go even if it hurts them. Another person would give up love for someone in a better situation. For someone else, it sometimes starts with imagination. For some, it’s motivation to live. A mystery to solve for others. Regardless, love is a blissful thought that makes hearts flutter and gives hope. And love can bring bright smiles to everyone’s faces.”
Given an ultimatum of a 100 days (technically 93 days now), Aileen aka Kim Ha Ni set out to find her true love. Or else she’ll die. What she thought was a simple task, given that she already had a prospect, turned out to be so complicated once she realized the guy she exchanged hot kiss with couldn’t even recognize her.
What’s true love anyway? That’s what she set out to find out.
Ahn Man Nyeo, her self-appointed guardian while on land, told her if she spun 20 times, she’ll know the feeling of true love. The poor naïve girl did the thing, and found herself dizzy and nauseous. Apparently, true love is that uncomfortable.
Puppy Love, Crushes All Around
Making Ha Ni’s journey difficult was the fact that everything about the human world was alien to her. She was, after all, an ex-mermaid. What every human regard as normal, ordinary, and insignificant, to her was amazing, different, and significant. Ramen, the everyday food for Koreans, became something so sumptuous and so exciting as she ate it. Her obvious enjoyment just left her housemates totally baffled.
In this episode, the character’s personality started to shape out, too.
Do Yi Jong, the big-eyed man, turned out to be such a softie, after all. He was the first to succumb to Ha Ni’s innocent charm. The little man looked both totally cute and totally ridiculous as he wooed the oblivious Ha Ni. Ha Ni, in her quest for true love, conveniently ignored Yi Jong and totally friend-zoned him. Of course, Yi Jong was so carried away by his feeling to notice otherwise.
We also got to know the Cynical Face, Ahn Hye Young. And we found out, she was certified scary. She’s a bitch, and she’s comfortable about being a bitch. She’s a foodie, and she has a live webcast where she ate tons of food. It apparently earned her a living.
Again, this was another manifestation of the modernity of the world. There were various ways to make a living, utilizing the internet and doing the things you love, and thereby creating a niche market. The cool thing was, it was based on a real story. There really was a Korean woman who earned a living by eating in front of a web camera.
Ahn Hye Young was quite eccentric, and her choice of a man was equally weird too. She was crushing on Lee Sun Kyu, their old(er) landlord, can you imagine that. His presence was enough to tame Hye Young. Lee Sun Kyu, on the other hand, never really cared about her affection. At all.
Big’s lady love was also revealed. Her crush Suzy, in fairness to him, was absolutely stunning. Like a giddy love-crazed kid, Big got so excited when Suzy called to meet up with him. Here we saw Big’s closeness to the grouchy Hye Young, as he came to her for clothes advice to ensure that he’d be drop dead gorgeous in his date.
Only to be met with huge disappointment. In their meeting place, the boyfriend of his girl came in. The guy, who looked totally ordinary in the looks department, had an amazing self-confidence. He was quite mature and had a stable job. Big, unemployed, young, yet to obtain his diploma, did not hold a candle to him. And Big was made to realize that. In retrospect, I think Suzy was quite mean, to ask Big for a date when she knew she had a boyfriend. How could the woman do that, and still look innocent?
Meanwhile, Hyun Myung and Ha Ni finally found out that they live in the same house. Their initial encounter was bad. Can seeing each other meant they could finally set the record straight, in an attempt to rescue Hyun Mung’s love life?
Love’s Twin, Heartbreak
Hyun Myung dragged Ha Ni to JH Foods, and made her tell Jin Ah the truth. Unfortunately, the two girls had quite a lot of animosity towards each other too. Too bad it was because of another guy altogether. Ha Ni remembered Jin Ah’s stealing of Shi Kyung’s phone, thereby securing Shi Kyung’s attention, all too well.
Hyun Myung was quite taken aback at how violent the two girls were with each other. Choosing to ignore Ha Ni’s sentiments, I mean what does he care about what Jin Ah did to Ha Ni, he made Ha Ni tell Jin Ah that what she witnessed that night they broke up was all a big misunderstanding. He thought that if only Jin Ah knew, she would take Hyun Myung back.
But Hyun Mung was wrong.
Jin Ah was unmoved. In a freezing tone she told her ex-boyfriend, “You still don’t understand. This doesn’t make a difference. I only needed a decent excuse. You gave up on your dream of art for me. I’d be a terrible person if I dumped you, without a reason. You made a fatal mistake, just what I was waiting for. And I took advantage of it.”
Dumfounded, Hyun Myung asked, “Is there somebody else?”
“Ne (Yes),”Jin Ah answered matter-of-factly.
Hyun Myung blinked, but Jin Ah was gone. It was really over.
It was then that Ha Ni realized that love could be cruel too.
For once, the talkative girl, an unwilling audience, shut up. She joined Hyun Myung as the man decided to drown his sorrows in beer, beer that she had wanted to taste too. But the girl, who was really supposed to make Hyun Myung feel better, had one too much beer. Pretty soon, she was laughing crazily and the world was spinning. It felt like true love, too. In her drunken state, she advance to Hyun Myung with a kiss (so embarrassing!). Of course, Hyun Mung ignored her, and left her.
Left alone, a bystander took advantage of her drunken state, and tried to do “true love” with her. Good thing Hyun Myung came back, and gave the man a cold stare. Enough to scare the bad man away. Hyun Myung, though must have been crazed with sorrow, did manage to carry Ha Ni back, piggy-back style. For his trouble, Ahn Man Nyeo, seeing the two together, gave him a good punch. The man’s jaw probably cracked.
But here we realized two things. There were many people that cannot be trusted in this world. Hyun Mung was not one of them.
How could such a pure heart be crushed so mercilessly? And so our heart bled as his heart bleeds.
Love and Its Many Definition
Ha Ni was starting to realize that true love was never a simple, one-dimensional thing. The people around her, as she interacted with them, taught her what it meant, one way or another.
I started to appreciate Ahn Man Nyeo, hardworking gray-covered overalls guy, in this episode too. Now that they can no longer rely on Han River to provide them with food, ex-mermaid Ahn Man Nyeo must work several part-time jobs to feed his family. And apparently, Ha Ni must too, sooner or later. Not such good perks for being human, I guess.
Yet because Ahn Man Nyeo worked too hard, the old man collapsed and was brought to the hospital. Good thing Ha Ni was there to care for him for a while. While there, Ahn Man Nyeo’s daughter video-called. Arranging himself to look like he wasn’t in the hospital, the man talked to his daughter (who was somewhere else studying) with tenderness and affection. The daughter was worried that her father might be sad, it was Ahn Man Nyeo’s wife’s death anniversary, so she called. As they talked, the daughter and father’s faces brimmed with love.
And Ahn Man Nyeo made sense now; what motivates him, what gives him hope. Was trading his fins for legs worth it? Maybe.
Meanwhile, Shi Kyung’s perfection started to unravel in this episode as well. In an important presentation, Shi Kyung and Jin Ah prepared a dish for the CEO, Madam XXX. Known for her discriminatory taste, the woman scrutinized the food, the soup, the presentation; leaving them nervous at the slightest wrinkle of her disappointment. But there was nothing to be afraid of, Chef Kwon’s dishes were excellent.
However, soon after earning the proverbial pat in the back, Chef Kwon ran into his old mentor, whom he hadn’t recognized. Pissed, the older Chef threw a scene and called Shi Kyung arrogant. Arrogant for not recognizing the people that led him to the top.
And we thought he was right.
The next day though, we got to know the reason why. Shi Kyung, his handsome face etched with woe, met up with his doctor. While talking to her, all that he managed to see was a blurred face. Apparently, to him, every faces were indistinguishable, indistinct, and impossible to identify. He has prosopagnosia, face blindness.
Agnosia is a loss or diminution of the ability to recognize familiar objects or stimuli usually as a result of brain damage. Prosopagnosia, the kind that Sji Kyung has, is a cognitive disorder where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, yet other aspects of visual processing and intellectual functioning remain intact.
And things started to make sense.
When Shi Kyung looked at the shiny fin, a reminder of the woman that saved him, we understood his struggle to remember the face of the woman. Try as he might, he couldn’t. Just like he couldn’t recognize anyone, anyone at all.
Hyun Myung, too, had chosen to show his love in a different way. Realizing his presence in Jin Ah’s life was causing her too much pain, he let go. Love, to him, is letting go, even if it hurts him.
Knowing love a bit more, Kim Ha Ni had a much better idea of what it was she was looking for. And with a renewed understanding, she ran to Shi Kyung, and with all her guts told him, “Shi Kyung, I will never let you go. Doesn’t matter if you can’t recognize me. I won’t let you go, ever. To me, love is like a time bomb that will go off in 100 days. I’ll die or I’ll fall in love. It’s the only two options. Wait and see, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with me.”
Shi Kyung, struggling to identify the brave woman’s face, smiled; a genuine happy smile.
But maybe Kim Ha was becoming too complacent.
That night, as she was taking a bath, her borrowed legs changed back to its original form. She was a mermaid again! Worse, someone saw her in that form. Is this the end for her?
The Idle Mermaid aired in TVN South Korea in 2014. In the Philippines, the tagalized version airs in GMA-7 weekdays. Watch it online at http://www.dramaonline.us/drama-info/surplus-princess.html.
Watch out for “Review: The Idle Mermaid Ep 04!” Thanks for dropping by! 🙂