A Metaphorical Rebirth

In an earlier episode, Ji An wearily wonders why she keeps getting reincarnated but later, she resigns that it’s okay if she is reincarnated again… almost as though to foreshadow her own death. But @ninaanin thinks that the writer isn’t playing with foreshadowing, but with metaphors.

The many lives of JA, her 30,000 years, is a metaphor of her bleak, hopeless and tired life – her old soul that makes her feels like she has lived through many, many years, that she is already an old person. She doesn’t wish to be born again because she is tired of her life; she is already old and doesn’t see any future for her, only the same. The comment “She keeps getting reborn because she does it at the wrong place” means to me that she has no home, that she is in fact alone; the comment “She keeps getting reborn because she doesn’t let go her hatred and has to love” is almost not a metaphor but a depiction of JH’s experience of life. I interpret it as the writer saying that when JA learns to love, she won’t be tired anymore, she will metaphorically be “reborn” (or as Christians say: have a new birth) in the right place, therefore she will have a home and love.

So, when JA said that it doesn’t matter anymore if she will be reborn, I took this as saying metaphorically that she has found life, she has found love, she isn’t tired anymore, and she has let hatred go.

However there is a more important metaphor to me: JA said that she hated the seasons, including spring, and that to me represents her bleak and hopeless life. But now, the drama shows spring everywhere, and I think this is a metaphor of JA’s current state of mind. Spring is a season that brings / means / represents hope, love, new possibilities, happiness, future and life. This promise is one of life, not one of death (this is winter). Therefore, I’m hoping that the drama will give to us a spring ending, full of hope and love.

@ccl82 responds:

I think you can be ‘reborn’ without having to die. If we go by with what JH said: you can go back to your star/ home if you love unconditionally, and no longer have any hate in your heart.

For JA, she already gives DH her all — she will need to forgive Gwang Il. For this to happen, I still feel GI will do something for JA. His last act for someone he loves.

For DH, he already gives JA his all — he will need to forgive YH & JY, and I suspect himself for stupidly sacrificing his life for someone else’s idea of success and happiness.

Once this is done, both will find their home, be it together or on their own. I hope the former, of course.

@zenya22 adds:

Rebirth could mean different things to different people – rebirth does not necessarily mean dying physically and being reborn physically, but it could mean psychological, mental, experiential, mindset’s death, leading to a new way of seeing and therefore new experiences and a new way of life – i.e. renewal.

For example, several rebirths occurred in the bar scene celebration of DH promotion.

  • When DH’s sister-in-law shocked Jung Hee into moving on. When Jung Hee finally sung the thick lipstick song (kind of a rebirth for her)… A new beginning, new possibilities. The death of an old clinging.
  • YH realizing that DH has moved on emotionally, that he loves JA, that it’s time for her to move on. The tears she shed as she was driving away from the old neighborhood were the tears of farewell and letting go of a dead marriage, a dead alliance.
  • DH has his dose of rebirths from the time he found out of his wife’s marital cheating, the time he encountered Ji An, his talk with his monk friend in the mountain.
  • Ji An had many such moments with DH as she is slowly realizing her self-worth.
  • The movie train tracks where the main character commits suicide and says he wants to go back but he can’t go back but that moment he realizes that is a moment of rebirth like being struck by lightning…. an epiphany. It is also said that the movie depicts the many changes in the history of Korea, which to me represent change and renewal such as changes in the mores, beliefs and attitudes of a neighborhood.
  • DH once said to the monk, “Everybody lives that way”, and whatever “that way” is defined will also be changing.

So it could be that the writer is cluing to a change, renewal and new way of thinking and living an inspired life for each of the characters without physically dying. I might be very wrong, but I just hope death will not be and is not the ending resolution. Because…

At the bar, DH sings the song expressing his longing for a love that seemed so unreachable it breaks the heart, but at the end of episode 14 at the movie theater and as the movie ends, he is holding on to his phone for dear life…

… he speaks to Ji An directly and calls her name.

And there we go… THAT IS TRAIN MOWING, THE LIGHTNING STRIKING, THE BIG REBIRTH… he has made a decision and is going all the way for his love and there is your ALL or NOTHING…(my interpretation). Yet the ending is still uncertain at this point (Ep 14)… if it ends with Ji An and Dong Hoon being together.

7 thoughts on “A Metaphorical Rebirth”

  1. Reading this has enriched my understanding of rebirth especially the meaning of when Jian told Donghoon it is ok to be rebirthed now… thank you!!!!!

    Just rewatched episode 4. Dh said he didnt want a rebirth a few times… in Ep 4 after drinking with his colleagues, and Ep 6 after the Hangang river scene when he was drinking with his brothers (or I think he did). To think that he doesnt mind a rebirth by ep14 because of JA’s love touches me deeply

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  2. Glad the rebirths turned out only Metaphorical… I saw not only a “metaphor” but also a real danger…. Imagine an empty funeral scene with LJA all alone and hopeless. PDH saw that risk and insisted that LJA should inform him if grandma died (like previously LJA able to sense that PDH was at the edge of giving up (rail track and Han River suicidal scenes)).

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    1. Interesting to think about, how Ji An would have dealt with an empty funeral and halmeoni’s death, alone. Good point. In that sense Dong Hoon did look forward for her and reassure her (as she says at the funeral).

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  3. The relevant plots/background (on top of the various rebirth conversations):
    1. In the beginning grandma seemed to be the (sole/main) reason LJA not giving up. (LJA once mentioned (to LGI/LKI) that if she were to kill herself, she would first kill grandma; that later encored by LKI telling grandma “…live long, and make your granddaughter suffer for long”. ).
    2. PDH may have started to think about this rather early. When PSH was talking about his mom’s funeral planning during the three brothers’ nice sashimi dinner, PDH’s thoughts seemed to have drifted to LJA and grandma. (Sidenote 1)
    3. Grandma probably had that concern too. With that in mind she dropped PDH a line (the entrustment note). And later grandma told LJA to LIVE, a happy life (“…You must repay them. Live a happy life. That’s how you can repay the people in your life.”).
    4. Finally there was the beautiful funeral, that LJA watching the gang playing football with a recollection of grandma’s last words to her. (Sidenote 2,3)

    Without him/them, without all these, maybe the rebirth thing not merely a metaphor. … A despairing life could go very wrong (some ended in tragedy… Sidenote 4).

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    1. Sidenote 1: The look on his face struck me this way during my rewatches. Then I realized that was why a scene of LJA and grandma was placed (in the middle of that dinner plot and) right before PSH’s funeral conversation.
      Sidenote 2: In an interview Director Kim had a slip of the tongue saying “(wedding oh no) funeral” when talking about the funeral scene. How funny!
      Sidenote 3: PDH had a conversation with JH regarding the rebirth and his rationale (of keep going back to the wrong place) was mistaking one’s home. Was he actually/also talking about himself instead (his home with YH)?
      Sidenote 4: … oh well bad memories… better skip

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