Sunday, February 09, 2020

KBS Drama Special 2019: A Child Saw

Episode 2 in the 2019 series of KBS Drama Special has the title A Child Saw and it connects to two things - literal quote from the song that Sunho and Dongja were singing on the bridge and to what the girl finally saw in Sunho.
This is one of the KBS best in short stories.

This is yet another little story and from the synopsis I did not expect it to be this kind of a secret that Sunho's hidden. 
We first meet Dongja, an emotionally and physically abused girl who grew up to be abrasive because of the bullying. She's raised by her alcoholic Grandfather who only cares about the money the girl's mother sends him every month. We only know her mother is absent - as it turns out by the end - she works at the hostess bar paying back her dues.

 Dongja has a safe haven from the slurs and hits of the perpetually drunk Inbok (I have to say, Kim Kicheon done spectacular job acting as a drunkard. I guess it takes age to master playing that because lots of younger actors just can't seem to do it and his gait, behavior and speech was just spot on) in an abandoned house on the outskirts of a sleepy small town. She sneaks inside to listen to the radio and relax.

One day a new person arrives to the quaint place and Dongja is caught in fully furnished house. At first she mocks Sunho for being crazy, but soon they strike a deal - Sunho will allow her to come to the house and listen to the radio and in turn Dongja will tell noone of Sunho's secret.

Because the secret that forces Sunho to move around is something that is still not acceptable but I'm glad we had this episode about it. Sunho is in fact a transgender woman - longing to finally have the surgery, collecting money for it and dreaming of becoming a woman. Something that she envies Dongja during their little talk. A girl says that her chest hurts and Sunho says, with a hint of sadness, that it's probably because she's entering the puberty and her breasts start to grow.

 Sunho/Sunhee makes cosmetics out of plants and Dongja, being the country girl that she is, knows some so they have the walks around the meadows and mountains where Sunhee collects samples and takes pictures and Dongja explains the properties of some flowers.

Their relationship is exactly what both sides needed - Sunho/Sunhee finally found someone who accepted her for being who she was - a warm, sweet person, caring about the others and protective to the point of ruin. And Dongja found her surrogate mother - someone who could stand up against all the bullies in the world, a parent who could do something for school so Dongja wouldn't be ostracized again. Sunho came to Dongja's school to her recital even and that was heavily against her own nature - given how uncomfortable Sunho felt among people and inside the body she had, that was probably one of the bravest things she did.

Sunho is then accused of being a predator assaulting Dongja - because a girl from the girl's class recorded her classmate going inside a car of some man. And Dongja breaks her promise to not reveal the secret she promised to keep, she screams, trying to save the only parent she had, that Sunho is not a man but a woman. This is what a child saw.
In the end, Sunho/Sunhee sacrifices all of her life's worth of savings for Dongja and her mother so they could live together in her former house while she drives away, trying to smile. Sunhee, during the talk with Dongja's mother, gives her a white, innocent looking dress and states that she too, was Dongja's mother. Because only a parent can sacrifice everything for a child.

Both Tae Hangho as Sunho/Sunhee and Kim Suin as Dongja did a fantastic job bringing two characters to life. She'll be a great actress one day. And Tae Hangho just radiated warmth and love. That's why I love KBS Drama Specials - because they make such memorable, heartbreaking stories, among others. This one is easily one of their very best.
It wasn't the ending I wanted, but I want to believe that Sunhee would find happiness someday.

It's available here: