New Tales of Gisaeng Review: 41-51 Sa Ran and Da Mo

Now that Sa Ran and Da Mo are married, the attention in the drama turns to Sa Ran’s father -in-law. Because now it’s his turn to change: he has always put the company before his family until now and that has had a bad effect on his relationship with his son and wife. He’s also a stubborn man concerned about appearances. He worries what others think and this clouds his judgement. It’s time for him to learn what the important things in life are and I found his journey entertaining. His daughter-in-law, a grandchild, and several ghosts all work to make him see the light. 

Da Mo has grown up now that he has got married and his character takes more of a back seat, supporting role, while Sa Ran shows him how to deal with his own family!  Thanks to her hard work Sa Ran finally gets accepted into Da Mo’s family and there’s a big surprise in store for her when she discovers who her real parents are. 

Problem 1: Winning over the new father-in-law

After a dodgy start to their honeymoon – Sa Ran kicked Da Mo in the face off the bed by mistake – they make up and the camera zooms out leaving the scene to our imaginations.

When they come back to Seoul Sa Ran is determined to win her new father-in-law over ad she decides that they must all live together for her to be able to do this. But now Da Mo and Sa Ran are living in an apartment as his father still hasn’t accepted the marriage. The newlyweds go to perform the traditional formal greeting at Da Mo’s house in their hanboks. But only Da Mo’s mum is there. His father is still too annoyed to see them so they leave before he comes home from work. But as part of Sa Ran’s plan, they take Andre with them. Of course Da Mo’s dad is fuming when he comes home and finds that Andre is gone and he storms over to their apartment where he is told that if he wants Andre back, Da Mo and Sa Ran will have to come too!

Da Mo’s dad demands to know why they took Andre

Da Mo’s dad walks out but decides he has no choice but to agree to this. (Sa Ran’s plan has worked!) He summons Sa Ran to his office and tells her that although he doesn’t like her, he is prepared to live with her since he wants Andre back! He also makes her promise that if she doesn’t have a child within five years then she will leave! She signs the contract and then worriedly goes to church to pray for a child. Da Mo’s bedroom is prepared for them at the house but Sa Ran is going to have a hard time with his dad who is hoping they’ll split up so that his son can find someone better!

Da Mo’s dad is determined to find fault with his new daughter-in-law, so on the first morning he purposely gets up before 5 am so that he can complain that she is lazy because she is still in bed. But when he gets up, Sa Ran and Da Mo are already sitting in the living room waiting for him in their hanboks to formally greet him! He’s disappointed that he can’t criticise her.

 The newlyweds get up to formally greet the parents

Then Sa Ran makes tasty kimchi chige for breakfast but her new gather-in-law tells her to get changed out of her hanbok so that she doesn’t look like a gisaeng! That was a mean comment and it hurts her. Da Mo hates to hear this and wants to stand up for her but Sa Ran has already told him not to do that as it will only make matters worse. So, as instructed, Da Mo tells her off too. He doesn’t want to, but he does. Cute. After breakfast Sa Ran stands at the gate to see her father-in-law off to work. Then she sees Da Mo off too. It’s all very formal and traditional.

Sa Ran and Da Mo 

Although they have two adjummas at the house, Sa Ran has decided to do all the cooking because she wants to make healthy food (as well as a good impression). She doesn’t eat with the family but every day when she serves the food she tells them what she has made and why it’s healthy! Da Mo’s dad is a fussy eater and at first he doesn’t want to eat her special menus, but when he sees the food and hears why it’s healthy, he wants to eat it too.The family is impressed with Sa Ran’s kimchi chige

Because of her hard work, things seem to be getting a bit better for Sa Ran. But then Da Mo’s dad hears that one of his friends is getting a grandchild, so he starts to hassle her about not being pregnant yet. (He doesn’t hassle Da Mo though, does he?) He is hard on her but at the same time he brags to his friends about how healthy he is now thanks to his new diet.

He is also very concerned about what others think. And one night, he goes out with his friends for dinner. He didn’t even tell them about his son’s marriage because he is ashamed of Sa Ran and he doesn’t want to talk about her. So he takes umbrage when one of his friends makes a (sarcastic?) comment about how great it must be to have a gisaeng for a daughter-in-law.  Later he tells Sa Ran how humiliated he feels having her as a daughter -in-law. They are harsh words and it’s a step back for Sa Ran.

Da Mo’s dad takes umbrage when his friend mentions his gisaeng daughter-in-law

So she decides they should move out of the house and back to the apartment so that he can realise and appreciate all the things she does for him. She knows he will want them to move back in when he misses his evening vegetable drinks and healthy meals. Sure enough, after Sa Ran and Da Mo leave, Da Mo’s dad is upset because the food isn’t as good as it was and when he can’t take it anymore, he finally goes to see them. He is a proud man and makes the excuse that Da Mo’s mum has become depressed since they moved out. She’s not depressed at all though. It’s really he who wants them back. Sa Ran’s plan is working like a dream and she must be happy that he has asked them to move back. This means that he is softening towards her. But she also worries about his relationship with Da Mo so while Da Mo is out of the room, Sa Ran goes on her knees and asks her father-in-law to let Da Mo go back to work at the family company. He agrees and so Sa Ran and Da Mo move back home.

 Da Mo’s dad enjoys Sa Ran’s cooking and vegetable drinks

After this, Sa Ran starts to have an easier time. Her father-in-law still has his moments but he has seen his health improve because of her healthy meals and deep down he knows that she’s a good person. And when he hears nightmare stories about his friends’ daughters-in-law he also has to acknowledge that he is lucky. He just has trouble with the fact that she was an orphan and so they don’t know anything about her family. But things gradually improve and the icing on the cake occurs when they discover that there’s a grandchild on the way. They are surprised to hear that is was Ms. Han who had the conception dream for Sa Ran so Da Mo is sent to Dr. Geum’s house to ‘buy’ the dream as this is good luck.

Da Mo’s parents hear she is pregnant

Problem 2: Helping Da Mo’s parents

Before Sa Ran moves in with them, Da Mo’s parents still have a very unaffectionate relationship. After the wedding, Da Mo’s mum makes her husband wear the Cleopatra wig he promised to wear if he failed to split Sa Ran and Da Mo up with his meddling! His wife has to rush out to help a friend, leaving her husband drinking and singing karaoke wearing the wig! He holds Andre who looks like he’s smiling! I think this scene is like a premonition of the craziness that is about to start when the ghosts arrive.

Da Mo’s dad sleeps off his hangover still wearing his Cleopatra wig

Sa Ran wants to see her mother-in-law happy and has some ideas to help her get more affection from  her husband. She suggests that she make him jealous by doing things like commenting on handsome actors on TV. But he still seems more interested in the dog: When his wife asks him to pick up some ice cream on the way home from work for her, he doesn’t bother. But when she asks him to pick up some snacks for Andre, he happily does it.

Da Mo’s mum has put up with him for all these years. But watching Da Mo and Sa Ran be romantic with each other seems to make her feel even more dissatisfied with her husband. Then one day Andre disappears. The house is in turmoil as everyone searches for him and Da Mo’s dad is so upset and shouts at his wife for not looking after Andre properly. This is the final straw and his harsh words make her cry. When they find Andre Da Mo’s dad is happy and has already forgotten his anger towards his wife. But she is still annoyed and  she packs her bags and leaves. They try to stop her to no avail, so Da Mo and Sa Ran decide to go with her as they don’t think she should be alone.

Da Mo’s mum reaches breaking point with her husband

Da Mo’s dad is not bothered at first and stubbornly refuses to apologise or ask her to come home. But the next day, with Sa Ran away, he is not impressed with the breakfast especially when the adjumma brings him orange juice which Sa Ran said was too sugary for him! He finally gives in and goes around to the apartment where his wife is staying. She’s watching TV with Sa Ran but rushes into the bedroom with a white headband (this shows she has a headache) on when he comes in. She is stubborn too and refuses to go home.

Sa Ran has to go backwards and forwards between the house and the apartment. But then she gets a fever. It’s Da Mo’s mum’s birthday so his dad is persuaded to go over to the flat to make her breakfast since Sa Ran is sick in bed.  (they don’t realise she is really pregnant) He makes curry and rice and of course miogguk, seaweed soup. He even wears a chef’s hat! At first his wife is so happy but he just stands there complaining about having to cook and that now he has no appetite to eat, so she gets upset with him again. He’s clueless about why she is upset and so later Sa Ran tries to explain it to him.Da Mo’s dad upsets his wife with his compaining

For once his wife is standing up to him and so Da Mo’s dad has to make an effort to win her back. This is very cute to watch I think. He is shocked when she announces that she’s going to India to meditate and he goes to the flat to stop her. She demands a proper birthday party – like the one he gave Andre! (It must be humiliating to have to compete with a dog!) She also wants to live like newlyweds for a week since they have never done that. What a miserable marriage she has had. I do feel bad for her but I also thinks she has brought this on herself by acting like a doormat. He doesn’t know how to act like a newlywed. She says he should just behave like he does with Andre! Oh dear! 

Da Mo’s mum moves back home and things are better. But when Sa Ran becomes pregnant she is happy but gets upset again with her husband, complaining bitterly that he is so sensitive to Sa Ran’s condition and worried about her but he never worried about his own wife when she was pregnant. Da Mo’s dad is very considerate towards Sa Ran now she is pregnant and in a very cute scene he wakes Da Mo up in the middle of the night because Sa Ran wants to eat kimbap. The two men put on their aprons to make the food.

When Ms. Han sends Sa Ran gets some azuki bean porridge, Da Mo’s dad is annoyed with his wife for not making it for her! I did have sympathy for Da Mo’s mum from the beginning but now all she seems to do is whine that she never got enough attention. She lives in the past and the problem is that the past can’t be changed. I suppose she wants her husband to acknowledge that he neglected her and to try harder now. It just sees like she has too much free time on her hands to focus on her husband. After all, she doesn’t actually do anything – she doesn’t work in the home or outside the home and it is Ms. Han who cooks for Sa Ran. She doesn’t even go to the hospital when Sa Ran is about to give birth. 

The ghost

There are supernatural powers that help Da Mo’s dad change too. Soon after Sa Ran and Da Mo move in with his parents, a female ghost in a white hanbok floats through the wall and up the stairs. She goes into Da Mo’s room and seems satisfied to see the newlyweds chatting happily. They contrast dramatically with Da Mo’s parents who are having a heated argument in their own room. The ghost comes back later when Da Mo’s dad is in the bathroom. He is about to use the toilet and has the toilet seat up. But suddenly he becomes possessed. Now his behaviour changes to a halmoni, old woman, and he puts the toilet seat down to sit on like a woman!  The ghost that has taken over his body wants to do a Korean dance and puts a CD on. This wakes Da Mo’s mum up who is surprised to see her husband dancing!

Da Mo’s dad becomes possessed

After this, he seems to be back to normal but then, on the way home from playing golf, his driver has to stop to go to the loo (there are SO MANY toilet related scenes in this drama).  While the car is parked on the side of the road, a lorry driver asleep at the wheel crashes into the car. The car rolls over and over down a bank but the ghost carries him out of the car and lays him safely on the grass. He goes to hospital but everyone is surprised to see that he is fine.

Da Mo’s dad is fine after the car crash thanks to supernatural help

The ghost also makes him get up in the middle of the night and cook lots of packets of instant ramen!  (she must be missing it!) In the morning the adjummas wonder who ate all the ramen. Then at his office he starts acting like a halmoni to his staff!! He gets a perm at the beauty salon much to his assistant’s amazement. The weird out of character behaviour continues at home: he wants his hair in rollers to look after his perm, knows all about how to make kimchi, and suggests they have a family evening together with the karaoke machine! He can also read fortunes: he tells a stranger to go to hospital to get a brain scan. When Sa Ran hears this she realises that he might be possessed. She reveals to Da Mo that a stranger once told her not to marry him because his family had strong spirits. But can his wife seriously not see that her own husband is acting weird?

The female ghost leaves to be replaced by a warrior ghost on a horse. This ghost is macho and wants to eat meat, drink makali, and show off his strength by arm wrestling. In the morning Sa Ran is concerned about her father-in-law’s behaviour. His voice has become very deep and he makes Da Mo wrestle with him. Later at the office he orders ten servings of meat at the restaurant. Sa Ran calls Ms. Han to ask where she can find someone to help. Her father-in-law is possessed and they need an exorcist. There’s some symbolism with horses here – The ghost in Da Mo’s dad arrived on a horse, says he was born in the year of the horse, and now he wants to go and ride Da Mo’s horse. This ghost can also read fortunes and predicts that one of the family’s adjummas will get sick.

Two ladies arrive at the house to perform the exorcism but the ghost is strong and merely tells them their fortunes too which upsets them. Da Mo shouts at the ghost and his dad faints. When he wakes up at the hospital Da Mo explains that the two women were man-shin – female shaman. When Da Mo’s dad watches a video of how he was acting when he was possessed he is worried and even more upset when he hears that Sa Ran married Da Mo despite being told that this might happen. He thinks he is getting punished for his bad behaviour and reflects on how he has treated her.

But next he is possessed by a child. He sits on the floor and wants to play with toys! He predicts that an adjumma will come to visit – and sure enough Sa Ran’s step mother arrives with home made mandu. She goes to Sa Ran’s room to chat Da Mo plays with his dad in his bedroom! Sa Ran’s step mum is upset at not having been invited to the house so has invited herself, but she is shocked when Da Mo’s dad bursts into the room acting like a child in front of her! Da Mo has to drag him out and she wonders what’s going on. But finally the ghosts leave him and the experience has changed Da Mo’s dad. He becomes kinder to his wife and they go out for a walk together with Andre for the first time!

Sa Ran’s search for her parents

When Sa Ran’s step dad misses her wedding because of the car crash, he wonders if he is being punished for not telling her all he knows. So when he gets out of hospital he tells her that he does remember the house where they got her from.

Sa Ran learns where she came from 

Shaken, she takes a taxi to the address and discovers that it’s Ra Ra’s house! She can’t bring herself to go in and goes to see Ra Ra instead. She questions her about how long her family has lived there. They have always lived there which means Ra Ra’s grandparents must have given her away. Da Mo is shocked too when he hears this. He sends an actress to Ra Ra’s house masquerading as the mother who left the baby on the doorstep. But only Ra Ra’s aunt and Ra Ra are home and they don’t know what’s going on so they simply tell her that they gave the baby to an adjumma. If only Ms Han had been there!! The actress tells Da Mo that it seems as though no one is looking for Sa Ran. But Ms. Han and Grandmother are confused when they hear about her.

Sa Ran spends time with Ms. Han. They meet for coffee and Ms. Han tells her she had her conception dream and then suggests she get a pregnancy test. Sure enough she’s pregnant. Sa Ran and Da Mo go out for dinner to say thank you to Dr Geum and Ms Han. They go to a Chinese restaurant (again) and the ladies have a fortune cookie. Ms. Han’s makes a reference to spending time with her child and they all think the fortune can’t be true.

Ms. Han confides in Ms. Oh telling her about her missing child and what happened. She is so stressed that she gets a nose bleed. Ms. Han also knows Sa Ran’s background and wonders if Sa Ran is Ms. Han’s child. She goes to the bin and takes the tissue out with Ms. Han’s blood on it. Then she invites Sa Ran to see her and makes an excuse that she looks unwell to puncture her finger and get some blood. Ms. Oh then asks a doctor friend to do a DNA test. The results prove that Sa Ran is Ms. Han’s daughter.

Ms Oh gets the DNA test results

Ms Oh reveals the truth about Sa Ran to everyone and there is an emotional reunion between Sa Ran and her mother, Ms. Han. Grandmother is upset because Grandfather had wanted to do a DNA test with Sa Ran before he died, but Grandmother had refused to listen to him. Sa Ran and Da Mo do the traditional newlyweds greeting to her parents. Da Mo’s dad is in shock when he hears who Sa Ran’s father is!

Sigh. So the truth is finally out. Review and thoughts on the final episode 52 coming soon.


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