I can’t focus, so let me share something real quick. There are certain Korean words I’ve picked up listening to K-pop, watching K-dramas, and mostly, watching and rewatching the same Red Velvet videos (Level Up Project, behind-the-scenes, V-Lives, fan edits, you name it), and while it isn’t enough to call a starting point, I’m surprised every time I recognize anything. Some words are so specific to the people who said them that they’re indelible, like how Seulgi says “Bashta” about a beer, or Eunji with (I think) “그래” in a scene from Cheer Up, and Yeri the same in a V-Live. Wendy says “Yorubun” a very particular way at some point, but I don’t remember the context.
And then there’s Irene, who has a number of “catchphrases” which perfectly reflect her character. First and foremost is “ige mwoya,” because she’s always surprised by the world and demands answers. Next is something I’ve been mishearing for a long time, which is “kamjagiya,” meaning “My goodness” or “You scared me.” Classic Irene, who’s afraid of dogs and high speed and horror movies, but in so many instances, she’s around Seulgi, so I heard it as “Kang Seulgi-ah.” It wasn’t until Episode 10 of Twenty-Five Twenty-One that I realized (though Joy shouting it after the shark attack game was a clue), when after Yi-jin makes likes he’s going in for the kiss and whispers in Hee-do’s ear instead, she lingers and says “Kamjagiya,” still shaking.
The acting in this show is incredible. That shot of her face in that moment is like that shot of her face when he says “Love” on the bridge. She’s unbelievable — they both are. And Bona is a revelation. She does a lot of acting with her eyes, and she’s very intense. That monologue of hers in episode 11 had me going. I also have to shout-out Kim So-hyun playing adult Hee-do. Before moving onto episode 11, I had to rewatch the beach sequence from the previous episode — goddamn it, that scene when the kids come back from the beach, and Ji-woong is feeling up Yi-jin’s bicep, ha! — and it closes on that wild epilogue where adult Hee-do is like “We went to the beach? Nothing lasts forever.”
I was really trying to get a read on her performance, whether she was telling the truth or not, but either way, there’s some pain in Hee-do’s eyes. I think that while So-hyun’s performance is probably bigger than appropriate (she’s a veteran of the stage, but her last TV show was over a decade ago), it’s stuff like this that really hits. And it’s also a daunting task to both match Kim Tae-ri’s world-class performance as Hee-do, and to make it more mature, more wise.