Potato: [puh-tey-toh, -tuh] –noun, plural -toes
The edible tuber of a cultivated plant, Solanum tuberosum, of the nightshade family.
According to “Camellia”, a Korean novel published in 1936, a boiled potato could be used to show your affection for someone of the opposite sex (See: Flowers – Camellia). The story is first introduced by Top Star Dokko Jin after Gu Ae Jung refused his declaration of his affections. Afterwards, Gu Ae Jung buys 3 potatoes and goes to Dokko Jin’s house to make him some curry (See: Curry) and take back her words of never liking him. Because Dokko Jin thinks that Gu Ae Jung wants to use him and his star status, they quarrel and Gu Ae Jung leaves crying spilling the bag of groceries. He follows after her, a single potato in hand, only to discover that she is being comforted in the arms of the anybody oriental medicine doctor, Yoon Pil Joo. A misty Dokko Jin makes the curry but is unable to put the potatoes in.
Deciding to test Gu Ae Jung to figure out her true motives for visiting him that night, he gives her the opportunity to use him. She fails by signing a contract for a new solo album which will feature him in her new music video. Upset, he executes two of the three potatoes in boiling water. Unable to kill off the last ones, he secures it in a “provisionary jail cell”.
The remaining potato start to sprout poisonous roots and Dokko Jin (now known as the Potato Grower) decides to put the potato on a special pedestal: a crystal cup with two pictures of himself overlooking it. This potato is truly loved by the Potato Grower who waters it daily, kisses it tenderly and has deep conversations with it.
As the potato begins to sprout, so does his feelings for Ae Jung and it begins to take root. Offered to play a superhero in Hollywood (See: Ironman), he is willing to accept the dream proposal but worries that being away would mean that the potato plant will wither and die, similar to his chance of being with Ae Jung. A deep pain in his chest prevents him from attending a meeting with the famed Hollywood Director. His doctor informs him that his heart is failing again and he needs urgent surgery like the one he had 10 years ago. While Jin faces the grim reality, he decides to show a brave front because HE IS DOKKO JIN (See: 나 독고진이야! – I am Dokko Jin!). But even the potato shows signs of withering, a reflection of Dokko Jin’s heart condition.
Unaware, Ae Jung and Pil Joo film a cooking Couple Making segment. Ae Jung, unable to get Dokko Jin out of her mind, stares intently at some potatoes. This prompts Pil Joo to ask if she likes potatoes. She says no, she detests them and Pil Joo places them in exile for her. For her, rejecting the potato is rejecting her feelings for Dokko Jin.
Jin accepts that he could die and he wants to leave a great image behind: he wins a prestigious award for his Fighter movie and he aims to go to Hollywood to film a new movie. But he risks it all when he hits Ae Jung’s ex manager after the manager sabotages an award ceremony appearance for Ae Jung. Hollywood is no longer an option and because he is tired he asks Ae Jung to recharge him for his heroic deed (See: Recharge 1). Ae Jung refuses to be his charger so he asks her to make him curry instead, but without potatoes because they are not allowed to be executed in his house.
The potato plant recovers and sprouts beautiful, green leaves that makes Jin believe it could bloom flowers, thereby killing the venom from the poisonous root, meaning love could cure him of his failing heart condition. But Ae Jung is determined to end things with Jin. She does not want to known as the girl that prevented Jin from going to Hollywood. She asks him to wait for her this time but spends all day and night with Pil Joo. While waiting for Ae Jung, Jin sends a text message to Ae Jung with a picture of his potato plant. Pil Joo accidentally sees the message but when he tries to show it to Ae Jung, she refuses to look. She asks him to help her stay away from Jin. After standing him up, Jin sees the Ae Jung being walked home by the Anybody Oriental Medicine Doctor. Pil Joo seeing Ae Jung’s reaction knows that she isn’t over Jin and let’s her go to him. She finally see the picture and reads the text:
“Gu Ae-jung. I’ve raised the potato you brought me. Potato sprouts are poisonous, but now that I’ve raised it this much, I think it will flower. Because I’m broken, I can’t hold onto you properly — so this time, come to me. So that I can move without stopping, come recharge me”
Unable to deny her feelings for the Potato Grower any longer, she goes to the Potato Grower so that he can recharge (See: Recharge 3). She goes to his home to see the plant in person, admiring how much it has grown and also wondering herself if it could flower someday.
The news about Jin’s heart condition and imminent surgery become publicly known. At first Jin kidnaps Ae Jung so that she could be with him until surgery day but she convinces him it’s better to be separated so she could be his recharger at the hospital. Alone at home, Jin asks the potato to flower quickly so he could show it to Ae Jung, hoping for a blossoming future with her. At that moment, his heart begins to seize causing him to fall to the floor from the pain. The potato crashes to the ground, shattering the crystal cup haven it was living in. Jin stares helplessly at the potato and is rushed to the hospital immediately.
Fortunately, Dokko Jin survives the surgery (See: 두근두근 (Dugeun-dugeun) – Thump-thump) and after two months rest abroad, he returns to Seoul. He is amazed to see the potato plant green and growing strongly in a flower pot. Thinking the plant had died, Jae Seok informs him that Ae Jung was the one that had resurrected it. She planted it, watered it and cared for it saying how special the potato was, speaking both about the potato and the Grower that had initially cared for it.
He claps in glee saying that thanks to Ae Jung the potato and he were alive. Nevertheless he worries because Ae Jung didn’t visit him at the hospital. Even more his first meeting with Ae Jung after his recovery doesn’t go according to plan (See: Red Bow). He recovers the flower ring he gave to Ding Dong and puts it on the potato plant, signifying the future he has in store for her.
The reason behind Ae Jung’s coldness to Jin is because she promised President Moon not to stand in Jin’s way so she couldn’t damage his career. Ae Jung’s reluctance on being with Jin makes him wonder even more why his potato hasn’t blossomed as of yet. Is their future doomed? While filming her new show at a Potato soup restaurant, the owner shows her a big framed picture of their field full of blooming potato plants. It instills Ae Jung with hope for her own potato plant: “If our Potato grows flowers, they’ll be this beautiful. I thought it was something that wouldn’t flower but it flowers beautifully.”At the same time, the restaurant is watching a television interview of the Dokko Jin who reveals that they’re not only dating but in love (See: 최고- Best). With tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, she publicly accepts that Jin is her man.
After accepting Jin’s proposal and promising to never let go again, she shows Jin the potato flower picture she saw in the restaurant. Jin wonders why their own plant isn’t flowering but Ae Jung tells him that their potato plant has gone through so much that it needs more time. They hope in time it will flower the same way their love has blossomed.
The potato grows and changes through the drama similar to how Dokko Jin and Gu Ae Jung’s love grows and changes. At first it symbolized Dokko Jin’s confession of attraction as he tried to offer it Gu Ae Jung. She in turn rejects the offer, but tries to reciprocate the kindness by trying to forgive him. The potato withstands all the trials and tribulation thrown its way by surviving an execution and being kicked out of its sanctuary to being rescued and restored. Although we haven’t been shown a picture, Gu Ae Jung mentions that the potato has finally bloomed indicating the bright future ahead of them (See: Flowers-Potato).