For the last few weeks, the thought of watching Heard it Through the Grapevine has helped me get up to go to work on Mondays and Tuesdays. (Unkind Women on Wednesdays and Thursdays before it ended.) It got progressively more interesting. There was no cathartic ending, but I think it fit the tone of the drama. I don’t know how it could have been any better. Mr. Han is left all by himself while the rest of the people who had occupied his world have begun to coexist outside of Mr. Han’s world.
The show was a lot about the Kap/Gap-Eul relations and how they collide. (You can search kap/gap and eul to get a better idea of what they are). Who the kap is and who the eul is in a conflict is usually obvious. Mr. Han who wields power is the stronger party against virtually everyone and is therefore the kap.
Strangely, Mr. Han is also the weaker party in several contexts. He and his wife function less than perfectly without the assistance of their staff. Mr. Han calls all the shots concerning Hyun-soo’s parents’ business, and yet he is eul to Hyun-soo’s mother for his love is never requited. He is also be an eul against the ideology prized by the people who seek justice and desire to create noise that can chip away at Mr. Han’s empire. Additionally, Mr. Han’s eul to Jin-young the powerful baby.
In the midst of the these dynamic kap-eul relations, a new class of people has emerged. The young attorney Yoon and In-sang’s star tutor Park do not have the upper crusty background, but they have obtained a status that cannot brushed off by Mr. Han. Seo Bom who has made not few Korean viewers uncomfortable is an unusual character herself who causes the first crack in Mr. Han’s world. In-sang’s sister and rich friends indicate that what they value at the moment may not necessarily align with what their parents’ generation values.
It’s interesting to note that many viewers were not overly repulsed by Mr. Han and his ilk throughout most of the show. It has to with the comical way he and his wife are portrayed. The way he fusses over his balding and dotes on his grandson are examples. Recall his phone conversation with the fire department on the night Jin-young is delivered? Mr. Han is articulate but the way he talks is comical. He is definitely astute and calculating but those around him are also sharp that he doesn’t stand out too much. Some viewers have said that Mr. Han and his top 1% friends are agreeable compared to the real ones.
Another reason that people didn’t show outright hatred toward Mr. Han is that what he does behind the scenes is not so tangible and obvious that it’s hard to follow what the heck he’s done to obtain wealth and influence state decisions. More emphasis is placed on portraying the general attitude that Mr. Han and his wife have about the world rather than reporting on the shady dealings that take place. I couldn’t really elaborate on the ins and outs of the super nova rumor other than the wealth that In-sang would inherit would put him to shame. It is when the suffering of Min Joo-hwan and his mother is revealed in the last episodes that Mr. Han’s seemingly amorphous evil and Min Joo-young’s rage become viscerally grounded.
The show has been fun to watch. It was my first time watching director Ahn Pan-seok and writer Jung Sung-joo’s work in full. Just like what everyone has said about them, they were indeed amazing for tackling heavy issues with a good amount of lightness and class. The actors and the actresses delivered excellent performances that made it possible for us to relate to all of them.
There is much significance in knowing that young In-sang and Bom at the moment chose to live the way they believe is morally right even if they end up altering in the future, but a part of me wishes that there was more information about what has happened since. Ahn and Jung should do a sequel. I am happy to wait for it.