New Tales of Gisaeng Review: Episode 52 Final

So at last the final episode! After a dodgy start, I felt that the drama got stronger and the last 10 episodes were the best of all! In the final episode the battle of the grandfathers begins! Sa Ran has become more popular than ever now that the truth about her real parents is revealed. And there is still a lot going on in the finale including a baby’s birthday party, a funeral, and a sad farewell at the airport.

 

Episode 52: Da Mo’s dad looks dismayed to learn who Sa Ran’s real parents are. Especially since he complained so much about Sa Ran to Dr Geum – her real dad! But at least he’s able to reflect on his behaviour and feel ashamed about the way he treated Sa Ran. He realises that his mother was right all along and that he should have been happy to accept Sa Ran as his daughter-in-law from the beginning. He’s full of regret and ready to apologise to Dr. Geum. It looks as though he has completely changed….But has he?

 Sa Ran and Da Mo and Da Mo’s parents, New Tales of Gisaeng, SBS 2011

Da Mo’s dad meets Dr. Geum. At first they are polite and friendly to each other. Dr. Geum is so happy to have found his daughter but Da Mo’s dad is a little concerned because he has a feeling that Dr. Geum will want Sa Ran to live with him. Sure enough Dr Geum wants Sa Ran and Da Mo to live with his family for a while so that he can get to know his own daughter. I think this is a reasonable request. But it’s interesting that he talks to Da Mo’s dad about this first and not to Da Mo and Sa Ran. Da Mo and Sa Ran are adults so they should be able to decide for themselves where they live. But I suppose Dr. Geum is being poilte by asking Da Mo’s dad about this as traditionally the new bride will move in with the husband’s family.

But Da Mo’s dad doesn’t want to let her go. (Before he didn’t even want her in his house!) He doesn’t apologise for his treatment of Sa Ran and instead brushes off his past behaviour. He suggests that Dr. Geum was also in the wrong for letting Sa Ran go in the first place. That was below the belt. So they fight over her.  Da Mo’s dad is worried that once Sa Ran and Da Mo leave, they won’t come back. The scene is light-hearted as the men drink more and more to try to settle their disagreement. But under the circumstances I think Da Mo’s dad is being mean and selfish. He’s thinking about his own feelings, not what Sa Ran wants. If he had really changed, he would ask her what she wants to do and respect her wishes. But he is too used to having his own way. Neither side will back down so in the end they settle it by playing ‘rock scissors paper’. Dr. Geum loses and later Sa Ran seems disappointed that she won’t be able to live with her own parents even for a short while.

With the revelations about Sa Ran’s real parents everyone has to start rethinking how they address each other. Since in Korea, names aren’t used very often, the new titles are getting so complicated. Sa Ran is not Gong Joo’s older sister anymore, she’s her sister-in-law and she’s not just Ra Ra’s friend, she’s her cousin. And the list goes on…Ra Ra explains to Kyle how he should address Sa Ran and Da Mo from now on.

Dr. Geum and Ms. Han wonder what to do about the couple who brought Sa Ran up. Ms. Han is not impressed that they let her become a gisaeng but they decide to buy Son Ja’s house and give it to them as a gift. But of course Sa Ran’s step-mother is disappointed that this is all they get. She DIDN’T EVEN bring Sa Ran up, AND treated her badly BUT still expects lavish gifts? UNBELIEVABLE. Dr. Geum and his family decide what to do about Sa Ran.

Time goes by until it’s time for Sa Ran to have the baby. Dr. Geum and Ms. Han rush to the hospital. But Mr. Dan and her step-mother are on their way to the mountains to go hiking and decide not to go to the hospital thinking that the baby won’t be born for a while anyway. But as they close the door on the way out, the photo of them on the wall crashes to the floor and the glass breaks – obvious symbolism that something bad is going to happen to them…

Da Mo’s dad is getting more competitive with Dr Geum. This is quite cute. He wants to look smarter than him on the photos at the hospital when the baby is born, so he carefully puts on a shirt and tie. He can’t think of anything else at the moment except the baby and ‘winning’ his competition with Dr. Geum. So on his way out, when his wife trips over and hurts her ankle, he simply tells her to look after herself as he hurries to the hospital! His poor wife. I sympathised with her at first, but her neediness has started to get my nerves now.

Sure enough, at the hospital Dr. Geum is more casually dressed which must satisfy Da Mo’s competitive dad. But this just shows that Dr. Geum is not thinking the same way as Da Mo’s dad is thinking. He’s more concerned about Sa Ran. The grandfathers wait at the hospital. But it could take hours before the baby is born and there’s tension between the two men. Da Mo’s dad is still trying to get the upper hand and as soon as the baby is born he rushes out to get Sa Ran a big bouquet of flowers. He doesn’t tell Dr. Geum what he’s doing and Dr. Geum feels bad when he sees him return with the flowers. But again, he’s not thinking about winning a competition, he’s just thinking about Sa Ran and the baby. Da Mo’s dad is behaving like a child! But I suppose there’s a difference between the way a doctor and a businessman thinks! One sees everything as a competition. 

Da Mo’s dad won’t be satisfied until he has his granddaughter living with him.

And now there’s some bad news for Gong Joo. I must be stupid because I didn’t see this coming….She gets a phone call to say that her mum and dad fell off a cliff. And died. What? This was disappointing. I suppose the characters are not needed anymore since Sa Ran has new parents now. Her step-mum can’t hurt her and two dads will be confusing. So the parents are disposed of in a very melodramatic manner. The broken photograph told us something was going to happen, but I wanted to see both the characters suffer a bit. Neither characters changes throughout the drama. The step-mother  remains selfish and greedy and the dad remains weak and easily manipulated. Although he shows some emotion when Sa Ran has a hard time, he remains passive and never really acts like a father should. I can understand that the step-mother might treat Sa Ran badly but I don’t understand him. And Sa Ran doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with him either, considering he brought her up for 25 years.

 Gong Joo and Sa Ran learn of their parents’ death.

Sa Ran doesn’t go to the funeral and stays at home with her newborn baby. It must be tough for Gong Joo now. She couldn’t wait to leave home to get away from her mother but now her mum has gone. Meanwhile, the battle continues over where Da Mo and Sa Ran and the baby will live. Sa Ran and the baby are staying at Dr. Geum’s house now that the baby is born (it’s tradition for the new mother to stay with her own mum for a while after the birth).  But Dr. Geum wants Sa Ran to stay longer and tries to persuade Da Mo to move in with them too – just for a year. Da Mo feels sorry for Dr. Geum, and agrees, much to his dad’s horror.

Da Mo’s dad can’t handle the idea of his precious granddaughter living away from him. And he’s worried that Sa Ran will never move back if she stays away too long. So he marches over to Dr. Geum’s house and tells Sa Ran to pack her things and return home immediately as he has a nanny and everything prepared at home. She meekly agrees and packs her things. So Da Mo’s dad gets his wish.  I understand that he is missing his grandchild but I can’t agree with the way he forces her to move back home like this. All of a sudden, too. He has softened towards her but he is still a hard man used to getting his own way. Poor Sa Ran has no choice but to return with him.

 Dr. Geum persuades Da Mo to come and live in his house for a while. 

There has been a lot of squabbling through this final episode but we end on a happy event: the first birthday party for baby Ria. The first birthday is a big deal since years ago babies often didn’t survive. During the ceremony the baby is given a choice of things to grab and whatever they grab is supposed to suggest what they will become in the future – a ball suggests a sportsman, etc. Ria grabs a microphone… Da Mo’s happy grandfather gives a speech. He predicts that his granddaughter will become a successful  singer but he looks forward to a grandson who will take over the family business. Sigh. A girl can become a business woman too, you know?  Baby Ria’s first birthday party. 

This drama really does have traditional (old-fashioned?) values – no woman in this drama has (or wants) a career after she gets married. Ms. Oh and Ms. Lee are the only ones with careers and we get the impression that they would give their careers up too if they found husbands. Particularly since their jobs are frowned upon by regular society. Sa Ran is keen to become a professional dancer at first but after she marries there is no more talk of this. She puts all her efforts into winning over her father-in-law and becoming a good wife and mother. This is very noble but it’s also portrayed as the ideal goal for a woman. It feels like she has become a different person. The dreams that she had as a dance student have all been swept away never to be mentioned again.

Overall I enjoyed this drama although I found some of the scenes and humour on the quirky side (i.e the toilet scenes). It was a bit choppy at first but improved as it went along and the final section after Sa Ran and Da Mo got married and moved in with his family were entertaining, especially with the ghost (again, quirky).

The step-mum was a well-needed baddie but falling off a cliff? Hmm, not sure about that ending! Poor Gong Joo is all alone now as she is not in touch with her real father. And it’s a touching scene when she finds some home-made radish kimchi in her mother’s fridge and takes half of it to Sa Ran. Sa Ran is moved and promises to look after her, so we know that Gong Joo will be all right. After all she is still just a child really.  But what will happen to Son Ja (now Geum Ja!) and Gong Joo’s relationship? We don’t get to see if they resolve their problems. I don’t think they should have got married in the first place though…

And what has happened between Ma Dan Sae and Ms. Noh is not clear either. We catch them slow dancing in another quirky dancing scene, so does this mean they are now a couple? They are certainly sitting together at the birthday party (below) in matching green outfits. BTW There have so many references to dancing in this drama, haven’t there? – Sa Ran and Ra Ra’s traditional Korean dancing, Gong Joo dancing in her room in her pyjamas, the robber dancing on the roof in episode 1, and now romantic dancing in a club. 

Everything is back to normal at the gisaeng house. Ms. Oh is in charge again and is going to buy the house from Ms. Jang who has left the country with Ra Ra and Kyle and their baby. So everyone has settled down. I wonder what happened to Ra Ra’s ex? Did he ever find a rich bride? 

 

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