꽃 (kkoht) — flow·er /ˈflouər/
noun. a plant cultivated and appreciated for its blooms/blossoms
verb. Be in or reach an optimum stage of development; develop fully, naturally, and richly; mature
It’s no secret that there is an abundance of flower references in Best Love. Click here for specific references on 3 Red Roses and Rose Petal. Although they can work as ‘objects of affection,’ we’ve categorized it under ‘words of affection’ as well because their primary purpose was for Dokko and Ae-jung to verbally express their feelings as their affection for each other grew and eventually blossomed into love.
Cherry Blossoms, 벚꽃 (buht kkoht)
The cherry blossoms express Dokko’s new-found blossoming feelings.
At the beginning of episode 5, cherry blossoms are the backdrop to Dokko’s confession to Ae-jung that he likes her. Unfortunately for him, she clearly states that she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. She tells him that she’ll look back on this time as her being able to see beautiful cherry blossoms thanks to him, confirming her non-feelings for him. Dokko, on the other hand, also mentions to Agent Moon that she should go see the cherry blossoms because they are beautiful. Although he says the same thing as Ae-jung, for him, it’s a way of expressing that his blooming love for her is a sight to see.
Camellias, 동백꽃 (dong baek kkoht)
The camellias are a way of expressing Dokko’s feelings regarding his one-sided, blooming love for Ae-jung.
After being rejected, Dokko tells Ae-jung his version of the story titled, “Camellias.” He twists the story to emphasize and mirror his feelings of shock and humiliation after her rejection. He tells her that a high class villager (Dokko) had interest in a low class villager (Ae-jung). One day, he offered her a perfectly steamed potato (See: Potato) representing his heart, but she, not knowing how lucky she was, rejected the potato. He tells her that he felt humiliated and awkward. He continues by telling her that she had a chicken (See: Chicken), which was valuable to her as much as the potato was valuable to him. Out of revenge, he decided to torture her chicken. In the end, she begged to be forgiven under blooming camellias. He warns her that the cherry blossoms of his heart have gone, and the vengeful camellias have bloomed, and vows to find her “chicken.” Dokko leaves her after saying, “Gu Ae Jung, continue to think about me and stay near me, and one day, camellias will bloom.” She is scared, but can’t help but to go home and read the real story. She finds out that the real ending to the story is the two of them “lying” down together, in a bed of falling camellias, and becomes even more disturbed as to what he actually meant by telling her the story.
The original story of “Camellias,” is written by Kim Yu-jung. It is a story about “first-love” where the girl is of higher class and the one in love with the boy who is of lower class. Jeomsun, the girl, is only capable of showing her interest through aggression – including the “potato incident” and the “chicken fight.” Jeomsun is the narrator’s social superior, and this causes him to see Jeomsun’s aggression as a form of class warfare. In some ways it is, as Jeomsun pulls stunts that would get a social equal smacked on the head, but the author plays this for broad comedy and the unnamed narrator’s denseness nearly justifies the lengths that Jeomsun feels she has to go to in order to demonstrate her love. The story ends happily, with the narrator in a symbolic fashion, crawling towards a greater destiny: “I had no choice but to crawl away on hands and knees, up along the rocks towards the mountain peak.” (source)
It’s interesting to see that the characters places are switched in the original story. At this point, Dokko is Jeomsun, the girl, because he is the aggressive pursuer who doesn’t know how to express his love.
Azaleas, 진달래 꽃 (jin dahl lae kkoht)
Azaleas are used for Dokko to tell Ae-jung that he wants her to be his woman, and not some other man’s woman. He is becoming more serious, and lays down his pride by showing his desperate side.
In episode 8, Dokko is desperate after Pil-joo gives Ae-jung all three roses (See: 3 Red Roses) for the Couple Making program. Dokko takes her to an elementary school, and explains that he will scatter azaleas in her path. He then goes on to tell her about his sickly childhood due to his heart condition. He shows her his scar, and tells her his heart is sick in order to gain her sympathy. “My heart represents the azaleas that are scattered before you. Do you think you can step on my azaleas?” He pleads for her to think about his azaleas before going to Pil-joo. She feels extremely conflicted, until he blows his cover by kicking the soccer ball, and she figures that he’s trying to make her feel bad with an old surgery scar. He tells her that he really is sick (See: Heartbreak), and she is once again, convinced by his act and feeling torn. Later on while they are signing autographs together, Dokko misunderstands Ae-jung and thinks that she wants to go see Pil-joo. So he tells her that she is standing on his fragile azaleas, and it would hurt less if she just walked over them quickly. What he doesn’t know is that she actually wanted to stay with him, and she confesses to Pil-joo that flowers are blooming in her heart due to Dokko.
Azaleas by Kim So Wol (translated by David R. McCann)
When you leave,
weary of me,
without a word I shall gently let you go.
From Mt. Yak
I shall gather armfuls of azaleas
and scatter them on your way.
Step by step
on the flowers placed before you
tread lightly, softly as you go.
When you leave
weary of me,
though I die, I’ll not let one tear fall.
In episode 9, Ae-jung is finally able to confess her feelings towards Dokko, since she believes that he is over her:
“To be honest, I was really excited, because after meeting you… cherry blossoms, camellias, and even azaleas bloomed in my heart. But whenever flowers blossom, they’re bound to fall at some point in time. So even if I was excited and elated, I was fearful to hold out my hand. I was finally able to go towards you one step at a time, but fortunately, the flowers fell on their own for me. Thank you so much for showing me really beautiful flowers on a spring night.”
The cherry blossoms, camellias, and azaleas, which Dokko used as words of affection towards Ae-jung, has finally all bloomed in her heart at once. Because Ae-jung uses the same flower references that Dokko used before within her confession, it leads him to snap out of his misconception about his feelings and realize that he really does like her a lot. Her last line is the same exact line she said earlier when she was rejecting him. Before, she used it as a way to say she didn’t like him. Now, she uses it in the same way as Dokko did; revealing that she is fully reciprocating the feelings that he expressed towards her, even though she may feel it is too late.
After finally starting their relationship at the beginning of episode 12, we see Ae-jung wearing a shirt covered with flowers during their star date together. This represents her finally giving in to her feelings fully. She is wanting to fully embrace their blossoming love.
Potato Flowers, 감자 꽃 (gamja kkoht)
In episode 12, Dokko finally shows Ae-jung the potato plant (See: Potato) that he’s been growing. She is in awe, and he tells her, “I’ll take good care of it, and show you potato flowers too.” Ae-jung shares his excitement and anticipation to see it one day.
In episode 14, the potato plant’s life is put at risk similar to Dokko. Dokko wonders when the potato will flower, but drops the plant and shattering its cup, due to his premature heart attack. When Ae-jung finds it at Dokko’s house with Jae Seok, it is starting to wilt. With her tender, love and care, she re-pots the plant and it thrives once more. Because she was unable to visit him during his recovery, caring for the plant was her way of helping him heal and regain his strength from a distance.
The potato flower is the ultimate expression of their love in the realm of flower references because their love has blossomed and now they are both on the same page. By wanting to see potato flowers, they are telling each other that they are excited to see the fruits, or in this case flowers, of their relationship. Since the potato flower hasn’t blossomed at this point, Dokko hanging Ae-jung’s engagement ring (See: The Ring) on the potato plant, symbolizes what’s in store for the future. In episode 15, Ae-jung sees a gorgeous picture of a field of potato flowers the moment before Dokko reveals their relationship to the public. She then shows Dokko the photo after accepting his marriage proposal in episode 16.
Awhile after having signed their marriage license, Ae-jung is on her way to her filming location. After Ae-jung hangs up with Dokko, the director of the show catches her gazing at the photo of the field of potato flowers on her phone, and they both proceed to have a conversation:
Director: “Hey, those are potato flowers!”
AJ: “Yes, a potato flower has blossomed at our house.”
Director: “It’s not the right season for potato flowers to bloom though.”
AJ: “No, at our house, the potato flower has blossomed wonderfully.”
This conversation reflects how their potato flower bloomed against all odds. Even though it wasn’t the “right season,” their potato plant managed to do the impossible and flower. Even if the potato DID flower, I think the reason why they don’t actually show us the potato flower in the end is because ultimately, the potato flower represents their love that will continue to mature and develop in their future life together.
Showing us the actual flower in it’s physical form would allow us to see an end to the flower, since flowers eventually die. So the potato flower being unseen keeps it abstract and intangible, remaining as an extended metaphor and verbal expression of their forever blossoming love.
Besides, we have her flower ring and her flower-detailed wedding dress as physical and concrete objects to balance out the metaphysical and abstract flower metaphors. 🙂