New Tales of Gisaeng: 7 bathroom scenes

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a drama where so much of the action takes place in bathrooms and public toilets! Characters meet in toilets, they argue and fight in toilets, they go into the toilets of the opposite sex, and even get possessed by ghosts in toilets.  I guess these scenes show us more about the personality of the characters or they move the plot along by allowing characters to meet. I think it adds to the quirky feel of the drama too. But at times, I found myself thinking, ‘ What? Not another bathroom scene?” 

1.  The lipstick incident

Gong Joo meets her future mother-in-law

Some of this scene I didn’t get the point of at all. Gong Joo is out shopping for material with Son Ja at Dongdaemun market. She goes in to use the public toilets. Ms. Shin happens to be in there too fixing her makeup. But as Gong Joo comes in Ms. Shin drops her lipstick and Gong Joo steps on it by mistake. Although Gong Joo picks it up and tries to give it back, Ms. Shin is annoyed and doesn’t want it back which leads to an argument. The drama is full of entangled relationships so we can predict that these characters will somehow be connected and meet again later. Sure enough they do! Later when Gong Joo and Son Ja get married, Ms. Shin remembers their first meeting and Gong Joo feels embarrassed.

But the next part of the scene left me confused. The ladies go into the cubicles but then two young Japanese boys come in by mistake. The ladies smile (sitting on the toilets) as they listen to the boys talking. Gong Joo says something to them in Japanese to Ms. Shin’s surprise. I don’t know. This bit just seemed odd. I don’t see the point except to show that Gong Joo can speak Japanese. And what relevance does this have to the story anyway? Hmm.


2. The Old Flame

In episode 8 Dr. Geum meets Ms Han at the Gisaeng House

This scene doesn’t actually take place in the bathroom but it is related. Dr. Geum is at the gisaeng house for dinner with his wife. He has no idea that Ms. Han, his old flame, is working in the kitchen as the guest rooms are completely separate from the rest of the house. So how can Dr. Geum meet Ms. Han? – it’s essential for the plot that they see each other again. Well, he excuses himself to go to the bathroom of course. The timing is perfect because on the way, he spots her. He hasn’t seen her for over 20 years, but when she sees him she rushes off in shock. Dr. Geum is shaken too. He goes back to the guest room but during the Gisaeng’s dance performance he has flashbacks (there are lots of these in the drama too) about when he first met her as a young doctor. And after seeing her again, he can’t forget her.

3. So near and yet so far

In episode 17 Sa Ran is in the same room as her mother

I do think it’s true that we often don’t realise that what we are looking for is right under our noses. And this kind of scene crops up again and again. Sa Ran and Ms. Han are both at Ra Ra’s grandfather’s funeral. Sa Ran doesn’t know anything about her real family circumstances at this point. But Ms. Han is desperate to find her daughter. And she happens to come in to the public bathrooms at the funeral hall while Sa Ran is there too. But they don’t know each other yet. And in a slow motion scene (with sad music) they pass each other without knowing who the other one is. There’s a similar scene to this earlier in the drama when they are both standing on opposite sides of the train platform waiting for trains in opposite directions.

4. The Cat fight

In episode 20 Gong Joo meets Da Mo’s new girlfriend

I liked this scene. Da Mo and Sa Ran have broken up and Da Mo is in a bar with his rich new girlfriend from a ‘good’ family. But she takes a disliking to Gong Joo (who happens to be in the bar too) when she goes to powder her nose. And they end up in a good old fashioned cat fight. They have already had one encounter in the bathroom and don’t like each other. So now they meet again and when Gong Joo refuses to step away from the sink, the two women get into a brawl – name calling, face slapping,and hair pulling. Da Mo’s girlfriend looks a mess by the end of it when Ra Ra arrives and breaks them up. And when Ra Ra realises that this is Da Mo’s new girlfriend, she takes great pleasure in telling him that she has just been in a fight with Sa Ran’s sister.

We get to see some of Da Mo’s girlfriend’s personality (not pretty) and the final image of her cat fight hair and red wine moustache is classic. How can Da Mo not laugh when he sees her? The scene was funny and I was hoping to see more from Da Mo’s girlfriend. But her part soon faded away. I guess there were enough people against Sa Ran in the drama with her step mother and later Da Mo’s dad.


5. The karaoke box incident 

In episode 33 Ms. Shin bumps into Sa Ran’s step mum again with disastrous results

Now this is a weird one. The night before Sa Ran’s gisaeng wedding Ms. Shin goes for a night out to a karaoke box with her friends. Sa Ran’s step mum happens to be there too with her friends. They are all drinking and Ms. Shin has to go and use the bathrooms, but she doesn’t lock the cubicle door. Sa Ran’s step mum comes in too, but she’s so drunk that she goes into the same cubicle as Ms. Shin and sits on her lap to do her business! OMG. Ms. Shin is livid and her dress is covered in pee!

The two women get into a heated argument in the karaoke box afterwards. They realise that they have met before and already dislike each other. Sa Ran’s step mum is so uncouth! It’s interesting to see how she acts with people that she doesn’t know (Ms. Shin). She doesn’t even apologise to Ms. Shin. But later, she has to change her attitude when she realises that they are going to be family. Ha Ha. What an odd scene though. I suppose if you want to create a situation where two people will dislike each other, then this is a good one! But how embarrassing. And gross.


6. The Men’s

In episode 40 Ra Ra meets Kyle

Ra Ra could simply have met Kyle for the first time at the gisaeng house in her English class. But this scene sets them off on a more rocky start. On the day of Sa Ran and Da Mo’s wedding, Ra Ra arrives and goes into the bathrooms to fix her makeup. But she has gone into the men’s toilets by mistake. Then Kyle walks in and he’s shocked to see a lady in there and he checks again to make sure he’s in the right place. At first she’s annoyed to see a man walk in. But when he tells her about her mistake, she runs out embarrassed. She doesn’t know he’s the teacher at the gisaeng house until she meets him there later. And when she sees him again she tries to avoid him at first.


7. The Ghost Scene

In episode 42 Da Mo’s dad becomes possessed by a ghost

This is a good way to show that a man is now behaving like  woman! Da Mo’s dad gets up in the night to use the toilet. He’s standing up but suddenly an old female ghosts appears. He becomes possessed by the ghost  and promptly puts the toilet seat down to sit like a lady! BTW I wonder if there is a big issue about men not putting the toilet seat down after use in Korea too?




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