Another short and sweet Kdrama Special (the other was last year’s Splish Splash Love). While Page isn’t a rom-com like Splish, it doesn’t lack any heart.
The narrative is straight forward, dealing with the coming of age for 3 high schoolers in a music academy. (ok, one of them is a half a student) As with all coming of age stories, there are the usual angst, with the young characters trying to find their own identities and dreams. High school dramas also go hand in hand with the familial theme. The narrative extends to their immediate family members, namely the parents, and the youngsters’ interactions with them.
In a nutshell (Dramabeans has the full recaps here), Page centers on Yoo-seul (Kim So-hyun), Cha-shik (Ji-soo) and Jin-mok (Shin Jae-ha); on how their paths cross and how they eventually influence each other to become more self-aware and hence, happier. Yoo-seul and Jin-mok go way back, when the latter derided her mum for “poor teaching skills”, and he was the one who had problems emoting through music. Yoo-seul’s musical talent started off as a mean to redeem her mother’s shattered pride, but later muted into her heavy baggage, as her mum vicariously lives through her successes. Yoo-seul begins to hate music and piano playing, feeling that she is trapped into doing what her mum (Ye Ji-won) wants, instead of what she really loves.
Jin-mok doesn’t get it any easier. Having entered the same music academy as gifted Yoo-seul, he is relegated to being “good” but not “good enough”. He suffers from the runner-up syndrome, where he feels he is forever chasing behind Yoo-seul. Coupled with his father’s derisive attitude towards him and his playing, Jin-mok suffers from an inferiority complex and that made him want to attain No. 1 even more to prove himself to his father. But no matter how much he practices, how much little dirty tricks he play in an attempt to trip up Yoo-seul’s playing, none of them works. Until he thinks his heartfelt “prayer-curse” caused the accident which made Yoo-seul go blind.
Cha-shik, who is not very bright…but athletically talented, enters Yoo-seul/ Jin-mok’s life when he loses his dream (and possibly only goal) of becoming a professional pole vaulter due to a chronic back injury. His mum (Hwang Young-hee) cooks up a white lie (claiming that his biological dad is a world renowned pianist) to try to steer him out of his funk. Given Cha-shik’s rather gullible nature, he takes the bait; hook line and sinker. In order to kick start his “latent musical talent”, he volunteers to be Yoo-seul’s helper in school. Thanks to his one-track mind (honed by years of hard practice in the athletics field), Cha-shik miraculously fast-forwards his musical knowledge — even picking up a fairly decent piano playing skill.
However, no matter how fast tracked he is, Cha-shik still isn’t up to par to play on stage at a Two Piano Concurs competition. Jin-mok, who is guilt-ridden at “causing” Yoo-seul’s blindness, takes Cha-shik’s place in the competition to play with Yoo-seul. The boys’ goal isn’t really the trophy, but to help Yoo-seul rediscover her love of music and confidence in her playing skills. Jin-mok too, learns that it isn’t necessary to be “perfect” always, it is more important, and more than enough, to love what you are doing. Cha-shik, even though he learns his mum lied to him, proves to her that he is more than able to stand up on his own two feet after failing.
Though Page isn’t a rom-com and doesn’t eventually venture into romantic love territory, it doesn’t lack in potential for romance. Cha-shik’s unfailing positivity, which rubs off on the prickly Yoo-seul, eventually changes her and she unconsciously begins to lean on him. So much so that she is upset when Cha-shik does a temporary disappearance act. Cha-shik too, is obviously mesmerized by the gentler Yoo-seul that begins to show up the longer he chips away at her pretend-tough exterior. But it’s Jin-mok who, imo, tugs at our heartstrings. His usual “chasing behind” Yoo-seul takes on a completely different meaning, when he now literally does small things behind her back — and without her knowledge — to make her life better. Such as punching (and hurting his pianist’s hands) a fellow classmate in the face when he catches him trying to take pics of Yoo-seul undressing. And later, going “incognito” at the competition to play in place of Cha-shik, so that Yoo-seul can win the preliminary rounds.
Ironically, it takes Yoo-seul’s blindness for all our 3 characters to find their happiness. What started off as a tragic accident becomes an outlet for Yoo-seul — she finally dares to speak her mind, and uses her handicap to force her mum to stop making use of her. Jin-mok too, when he gets his first dose of praise from a blind (and unaware) Yoo-seul, regains his self-worth. He also realizes the reason behind his inability to emote through music is because he has always been using his skills to please someone else (his dad), and have never really played and enjoyed music in itself and for himself. Lastly, Cha-shik, in his interactions with Yoo-seul attains a new goal to work towards. Even when he finds out he has been duped, Cha-shik comes to understand that there are several choices he can make in Life, and he needn’t be upset when one door closes in his face.
Probably the teensy weensy complaint I have about Pages is I’d hope the epilogue can be longer. It’d be interesting to see how Yoo-seul react to having her “arch enemy” play with her (instead of against her), and how she later warms up to Jin-mok, since he now no longer view her as a target which he must overtake. Plus Cha-shik too. Pages’ ending hint that he probably takes up music lessons at the academy for good, but it’d be nice to know how he fits in as a full time student (seeing that he has earned a grudging respect from Yoo-seul’s classmates). I’d also love to see the bromance develop between Cha-shik and Jin-mok. And also…the ahjusshi in the tunnel. I kinda keep thinking he is there for a reason. But in the end, he is juz an ahjusshi in the tunnel. (shrugs)