Midway through episode six, I turned to my mother (who is possibly more into this show than I am given the earnestness of her pleas for me to provide more source to her NOW NOW FIVE MINUTES AGO NOW) and said, “Okay, so basically, the only couple in this show I like is Chef and Moo Ryong.”
There’s just one little catch:
Dial-up warning for below the cut: heavy image-whoring.
This is Chef Johnny Kruger:
This is Moo Ryong:
And they are super retarded in love. As a rule, I’m pretty hetero-oriented insofar as kdrama and jdrama and twdrama go — there’s not a lot of latent homoeroticism there that I can’t seem to shake off as Asian boy shenanigans. I grew up with a cousin who cheerfully — on my last visit, when I was 18 — told me that he was taking rumba lessons and dressed up in his tight pants and frilled red shirt to show me. (Okay, actually, I take that back: I’m still technically waiting for that one to come out of the closet.) But the point is, I usually ship boy/girl in these dramas because they’re so heavily constructed, there’s very little leeway for interpretation or you know, actual chemistry. People date because that’s the way the plot moves them, not the way that the actual characters do — but in this case, come on guys, these boys are sizzling. And I’m not the only one who sees it:
Chef Johnny Kruger and Moo Ryong = canonical gay jokes:
MOO RYONG: She knows.
Keep in mind that canonical gay jokes count x98324923487 since this is Korean television. If this was like, well, PruTV or you know, network, or you know, House, this would be different; but this is Korean television, a gay joke is nearly as intense as House and Wilson acquiring real estate and African babies like some sort of horrible homosexual Brangelina. (God damn Brangelina.)
For those of you who know me, this slashing is not surprising. What was sort of surprising was when my mom said, “Yeah? Huh. Well, he does like Moo Ryong an awful lot. And protect him.” And then I was like, “Oh my Jesus. I’m openly slashing kdrama with my mother — this is what the sixth circle of hell looks like.”
Quick overview: Moo Ryong, a cheerful med-school drop-out and aspiring chef, due to some complicated financial circumstances, ends up owing evil witch and ad agency exec Yoo Hee (female) $40,000 — to pay it off, he ends up working as her housekeeper slash manslave slash life coach, teaching her how to turn off her raving evil tendencies and how not to dress like a robot. Along the way, you meet a cast of Yoo Hee’s first love and ex-university senior, Joon-Ha (aka, ex-Yul-goon from Goong, who is the reason I started watching this anyway), Moo Ryong’s wonderful girlfriend, Seung-Min, and of course, Johnny Kruger (God, the names, the NAMES) the hottest thing since Jamie Oliver and Moo Ryong’s hero
and L-O-V-E-R. Moo Ryong ends up working as a line chef under Johnny while trying to hook Johnny and Yoo-Hee up; sadly, Yoo-Hee is sabotaging this by horn-dogging after her ex, Joon-Ha, who, I shit you all not, could wrest Angstiest Androgynous Man Thing Of The Year from even Sasuke’s slender-fingered hands.
There’re a lot of intersecting romances here, canonically speaking:
Johnny –> Yoo-Hee (?) Joon-Ha –> himself
Moo Ryong Seung-Min (and Yoo-Hee?) (but definitely –> Johnny)
Me –> Moo Ryong/Johnny on dates at the market:
(I realize now that that line of dialog, out of context, only supports the gay. I am all right with this.)
BUT OH NO! SOMETHING THAT STRIKES FEAR INTO ALL OF OUR HEARTS — FALLING SEAFOOD! Johnny must protect his beloved, favorite line chef! GOD KNOWS WHAT THOSE STRAY COD COULD DO TO HIS MAN!!
It somehow gets gayer than pushing your boyfriend behind you to guard him from gills, I am sad to report, because as all of us longtime mediawhores know, nothing fuels a good flirtation like need and anger and desperation — or you know, illness — and Johnny is NOT IMMUNE:
Look at him! He’s tired! He’s desolate! He’s…sleeping on a roof! Before the dinner rush!
That’s right, Moo Ryong! Especially not since you kept him up all last night protecting you from fish and talking about your hopes and dreams and playing with his hair and touching his big ass shoulder tattoo and saying, hey, hey, Johnny? You’re so fine! You’re so fine you blow my mind hey Johnny! and then deciding what you’d name your three children.
AND THEN YOUR MAN COLLAPSES IN YOUR ARMS! OH NO. HOW WILL HE FATHER MICHAELA AND ARBOR AND ARBOREAL NOW? The next couple of shots kind of speak for themselves:
Johnny claims he’s all right, but can Moo Ryong really believe that? I mean, REALLY CAN HE DO ANYTHING BUT STARE LONGINGLY OFF AT HIS MAN AS HE STAGGERS INTO THE KITCHEN? REALLY?
There’s a whole long interlude where Johnny cancels a date he made with Yoo-Hee because he’s you know, dying, and Yoo-Hee is like, “Well, I guess I could condescend to pull my horn-doggingness in check for about ten minutes and come visit you instead of pining like a blind cow at Joon-Ha,” and then FAILS ENTIRELY TO DO IT.
GOD LOOK AT POOR JOHNNY. HE IS TRYING TO COMB HIS MANHAIR INTO ORDER FOR YOO-HEE. At this point my mother was threatening physical violence on that poor girl; and was encouraging me to comfort Johnny with my loins. I was like, “Mom, I am for totally all about that.” It was a really proud moment for all of us.
But who could ACTUALLY BE AT THE DOOR? IF NOT YOO-HEE?
It’s Moo Ryong! Come to bring you porridge and love!
MOO RYONG: AND BECAUSE I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART.
Porridge! And — brace yourselves for EVEN MORE GAY — love!:
I’ve resisted screencapping the hell out of scenes where the other chefs in the kitchen pick on Yoo-Hee for being Chef Johnny’s favorite, or Moo Ryong’s earnest stalking of the guy in the beginning episodes trying to get his attention and a chance at cooking in his kitchen (read: euphemism for big gay banging). It was hard but somehow I managed.
Although honestly, ya’ll totally deserved to see at least this one, of them on their big gay love-love date:
…and by big gay love-love date I mean “Moo Ryong tries to convince Johnny to date Yoo-Hee” but STILL. HOT! GAY! AWESOME!