The significance of hands and feet in Encounter (part 1)

Everyone remembers this scene:

Encounter episode 3 KJH's foot under the table 1.png
episode 3

At the end of the episode 3, KJH moves his foot closer to CSH’s shoes… but just a little, while he confesses that he went to Sokcho because he wanted to see her, he missed her. After hearing that KJH feels something for her, she moves her foot away from his. Here their feet are under the table indicating that they are now in the same world.

Encounter episde 4 CSH's foot under the table.png

With this camera position, the director wanted to use the foot as symbol for the attempt of KJH to change their relationship. He doesn’t want to keep this boss-employee relationship any longer, he definitely wants more and since he knows from the radio that CSH considers him as friend, he thought, he could try to be acknowledged as friend. Notice the connection between the small distance he moved his foot and his attempt to ask her to become an official friend. In the same episode, just before they went eating, Kim Jin Hyuk stood at her hotel door and the director used two takings in order to point out that they were still in two different worlds. But at the restaurant, the situation has changed, KJH has decided to step up and be more active in his pursuit of our heroine.

episode 3

We know that he loves her because from the first episode, he was interested to know if she had a boyfriend. Yet here he only asks merely for a friendship as he knows that he can not ask for more right now. But as you can see, CSH rejects his offer and tries to maintain that relationship as boss-employee.

A lot of people understood the symbolism behind this scene, however what I, like many viewers, failed to see is that the director and writer had been already using the feet and the hands as symbols since the first episode. Someone might even wonder as joke if the director is not a foot and hand fetish.

Just in the first episode, we have 8 takings with the feet and 9 with the hands which is quite a lot. The first taking is this: 

Encounter episode 1 foot 1.png
episode 1

JH brings her shoe back and puts it next to her foot. Here, her high heels embody the chaebol world which is a uncomfortable and painful world. That’s why her foot has a wound. She might look good in high heels but with such shoes, it is impossible to walk for long and properly. JH with his hand offers assistance. Striking is the meaning behind the hand, JH has to lower himself but he doesn’t mind it at all. The hand reflects two aspects: modesty and kindness. This simple taking has such a deep significance but it marks the start.

From that moment, the director pays a lot attention to the hands, arms and feet of our protagonists. But let’s go back to that scene where KJH puts CSH’s shoe in front of her. That’s when he notices that her foot has a wound hence he proposes to walk barefoot. After convincing her, he offers his arm to help her to come down from the wall

Encounter episode 1 arm hand 1.png

Notice that here KJH is keeping a certain distance from her, as he just offers his arm and not his hand. With some reluctance, CSH accepts his assistance one for time.

Encounter episode 1 arm and hand 2.png

 But why does the director spend so much time on focusing on the hand and foot in this scene? In my opinion, first he would like to underline CSH’s shyness, she is not used to physical contact. Secondly, he also outlines how quickly their relationship evolves. First, his hand was close to her foot which revealed a huge gap. Now, he is bold enough to offer his arm. The gap has diminished. Then we see her walking barefoot and at some point, JH looks at her feet

Encounter episode 1 foot 2.png

and notice that they don’t look good. CSH is not used to that way of life… being totally destitute that’s why he proposes her to buy shoes. Since they drank beer together and walked together barefoot for a while, JH feels naturally closer to her that’s why he grabs her arm gently without thinking as he proposes to buy sandals.

Encounter episode 1 arm grabing.png

It’s a natural gesture but it outshines how comfortable JH already feels with her. For him, there is no longer any gap between them, they don’t really belong to different worlds. However, CSH’s reaction (she pushes his hand away) makes him realize that she is not feeling the same. She is definitely not used to be so physically close to anyone. Why buy shoes? He wants her to treat her like a princess but with his own means. He chooses “funny” shoes for her. She is hesitant to put on the sandals as this is totally new to her. However, the moment she puts on the shoes, she notices that they are comfortable. 

Encounter episode 1 foot sandales 1.png

Since she looks at them, the viewer can feel her emotions. She is agreeably surprised that’s why she accepts the sandals and walks later happily with him. But before that, the director focuses one more time on the feet.

Encounter episode 1 foot sandales 2.png

JH is still barefoot unlike CSH. So this taking illustrates that JH already gives priority to CSH.

Encounter episode 1 foot sandales 3.png

This zoom has another meaning. They are now in the same world… they are equal but not poor. They are not totally deprived. By experiencing walking barefoot, JH realized that CSH did belong to another world but he had no idea that she belonged to the chaebol world. As they walk together, CSH puts her hand on her stomach. She is signalizing that she is hungry.  

Encounter episode 1 CSH hand hungry.png

The hand is used here as a way to express oneself that’s why we have sign language. The hand is a tool for communication. I had already pointed out that CSH had never been allowed to express herself. She had to remain silent and obedient, however she developed two strategies where she could express herself freely and show her emotions: the paintings and the hands. In other episodes, like in the episode 2 we see her caressing the watch she wore in Cuba.

Encounter episode 2 CSH Cuba watch.png

This tender and intimate gesture illustrates that she treasures this time spent with KJH. She is remembering all the emotions she felt that time. In this scene, she does it, when she is alone, no one can see her being so tender. But let’s go back to the scene, where JH notices that she is hungry. This is really important because it shows that JH is a good observant. He already pays attention to her body language, which JWS doesn’t and has never done. For him, she was always sour-faced as he only looked at her face. He never looked elsewhere. What caught my attention is when they are at the restaurant, the director has two similar takings.

Encounter episode 1 JH shyness restaurant.png

Unlike in the other camera positions, the hands are not the focus but they are both in the center of the zoom. Both serve the same purpose. JH’s hand indicates his hesitation if he should pay for the salsa show, CSH uses her hand to hide her laugh and smile. Both are expressing a certain shyness. She doesn’t dare to laugh in front of him, he is thinking if this is worth. He is still unaware if she is attracted to him or not. He had already told her that he found her cute. This “shyness and awkwardness” will be even more visible later, when they are about to part from each other.

Encounter episode 1 CSH awkward departure.png

They already like each other but they don’t know how to approach the other without looking like a flirt/playboy. But between the restaurant and the departure, they went to the salsa show… here, JH is able to take CSH’s hands which is really important.

Encounter episode 1 salsa.png

She allows him to touch her and become close to her. It took JH the entire evening and night spent with her to be able to touch her, however this was for him a signal that he had some chances. That’s why he wants to meet her the next morning. He wants to know if she is as interested in him as he is in her. What KJH didn’t see is this. When she is in the taxi, she looks at her shoes and has a huge smile. 

Encounter episode 1 foot taxi.png
Encounter episode 1 CSH smile looking at the shoe.png

CSH not only likes the shoes but she already perceives them as meaningful. She is happy and has already a good memory of the time spent with KJH. She doesn’t feel that she belongs to a different world from KJH.

This is the reason why the director pays so much attention to KJH and CSH’s hands and feet. The evolution of their relationship is not only visible with the feet but also with the hands… CSH’s shyness was the reason whyKJH was very cautious around her and knew that he had to take little steps so that CSH would put down her walls and become physically intimate with him. Moreover, CSH shows a lot of emotions (anger, fear, …) with her hands, as she has learnt to hide her thoughts and emotions. This is unnoticed by many, especially JWS, but not by KJH.

So only in the episode 5, KJH was able to take CSH’s hand again, when he proposed to have a some-relationship. It took him some time in order to come closer again… the gap between the two worlds was just so huge, however KJH was determined and persistent in his goal. Little by little, his hands got closer to hers again but it took some time:

episode 3: he repeats the same gesture, when she had to jump from the wall. Here he helps her to enter the truck.
episode 4 notice that his hands don’t touch hers yet

First, he had thought that he had succeeded after having spent the afternoon with her, nonetheless when he saw this :

Encounter JH photos moon and hands.png
episode 5

he got anxious that he might have failed. As you can observe, the picture on the right shows two hands joined together… and KJH had not been able to take her hand after his return from Cuba. That’s why he got worried… he knew that if he had touched her hand again, she wouldn’t be able to cut ties with him. 

And the break up is also reflected in the hands: In the episode 15 KJH tries to hold her hand but he fails as he can only grab two fingers.

episode 15

In a similar scene, he tries again to hold her back but this time he only grabs her wrist. He doesn’t even dare to touch her hand. He still respects her, although it is painful for him.

And this visible distance between their hands culminates to the point that his own hands are about to cut his ties with her and her world. With his hands, he wants to write the resignation letter. With his own hands, he is about to leave her world as he has the impression that his hands and love were not strong enough to keep her by his side, since she feels guilty. she could destroy his happy family.

But then he remembers his good memories with his girlfriend and his own advice: to endure pain and hard times with good memories hence he changes his mind. He won’t give up on her… his strong will and determination are back, he won’t let her influence him.


One thought on “The significance of hands and feet in Encounter (part 1)

  1. When they broke up, he desperately grabbed her hand, that part is absolutely heartbreaking. Thank you for always open our mind, that there’s much more than a drama, Encounter offered us!! 💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

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