The significance of hands and feet in Encounter (part 2)

This analysis is composed of two parts: I will focus first on the hands and later on scenes where the feet are shown.

While the hands and feet played a huge importance in the relationship between our protagonists CSH and KJH, a good observant might realize that the hand had an important part in the relationship between KJH and her friend HI. Until the episode 5, we see that JH and HI are close but not so close friends as JH doesn’t confide to her at all. She has no idea what happened in Cuba. Only when HI recognized him in the scandal, he had to explain himself.

Striking is that JH feels comfortable around HI, he teases her, runs after her after joking but he doesn’t really touch her physically. However, after revealing his identity in the hall, HI goes to a cafe and remembers the past. Interesting is that JH approaches HI in order to congratulate her. He knew that she would be alone hence he came. She is thankful but he just answers:

Encounter episode 5 JH HI school.png
episode 5

What HI hasn’t realized yet is what is about to happen. JH wants to take a picture and hugs her with one arm. What caught my attention in this scene was the hand. 

Encounter episode 5 HI JH hand.png
episode 5

While JH is focusing on the camera, she looks at his hand that touches her shoulder. He has just declared that she was a good friend and here with this touch, HI perceives JH for the first time in a different light. His hand on her shoulder changes everything. From now on, she views him as a man. JH is unaware that his gesture is quite “intimate” as he keeps looking at the camera. 

Encounter episode 5 HI looking at JH.png

He doesn’t see how she looks at his face. She views him as a handsome man… JH’s other hand is in the foreground, blurred which serves as contrast. JH is paying attention to the camera, not to the girl that stands so close to him and his face. For HI, the camera in front of her is not important… JH is more important to her hence the second hand of JH is blurred. With this taking, the viewer can see both perspectives: JH is unaware that his casual gesture has triggered something in HI, for him taking a good picture is more relevant.

Encounter episode 5 HI picture.png
episode 5: she keeps this picture with her all the time. The moment she perceived KJH as man and his hand made her heart flutter.

JH gave her the picture later and for HI, this picture symbolizes the moment she fell in love with JH, the moment she realized that JH was a man after all. She clings to that memory hoping to find strength that’s why her hand is shown. For her, this picture is a treasure, the brief moment where she was so close to him: a happy memory which is linked to pain as well. Now, we all understand why HI was never able to confess to JH. Since he had declared before, they were friends… this picture marks for him the beginning of their real friendship (no more childhood friends), whereas for her it means the opposite: the moment she fell in love with him.

Since JH had touched her so casually once, I sense that HI might have thought, JH would come to touch her again like in this scene and would experience the same. She hoped that staying close to him, a casual touch might happen which would trigger feelings in him. What HI didn’t realize is that this memory has a different significance for JH: from that moment, he would always see her as a friend. That’s why he keeps saying to her that she is a friend.

However, I believe that his words must hurt her a lot because she is constantly reminded that in that moment she fell in love with him. Sure, HI had other reasons to believe that JH might come to love her… they belong to the same social class, she knows him well, she knows his family well too. On the surface, there was no reason for her to woo JH as he didn’t seem to be the type to be interested in woman.  But the other reason why HI got never close to KJH is that we never see her foot get closer to KJH. She only had a connection with KJH’s hand: the red diary book or the scene with the picture (see above). HI was never able to get closer to him… that’s why we see this game: HI is chasing after KJH but she is unable to win as her feet never get closer to his.

Encounter episode 2 HI JH playground chasing.png
episode 2 HI is trying to catch KJH

But we were shown in many other occasions takings of hands. So the director didn’t just focus on hands between CSH and KJH or HI and KJH, he paid attention to hands generally as he had another purpose in his mind. After JH entered CSH’s world (episode 4), he came in contact with director Choi and Chairman Kim. He had to hear terrible things. These painful experiences were shown in the episode 7 in flashbacks. 

Encounter Episode 7 JH flashback 1.png
Encounter episode 7: Director Choi with our hero KJH
Encounter Episode 7 JH flashback 2.png
Episode 7: Chairman Kim facing KJH
Encounter Episode 7 JH flashback 3.png

Striking is that they are all in black and white, just like CSH’s memories from the episode 1,

Encounter episode 1 Morro Cabana 3.png
Episode 1: Cha So Hyun with her father CJH and mother. CJH has become the mayor of Seoul.
Encounter episode 1 Morro Cabana 4.png
episode 1: her marriage with JWS

where she remembered her sad, painful and lifeless life. As you can see, JH went through the same things than CSH. People telling him how to behave and what to say, giving harsh comments. By using the same mean of filming, the director underlined the similarity between our main leads. Moreover, these black and white scenes symbolize CSH’s world, the kingdom Taegyeong Group, the world JH had decided to enter in order to become a meaningful person to CSH. Now, he knows in what kind of world she has been living. This kingdom is huge and scary. 

But in this black and white world, how can the subjects survive, as there is no sunlight and no warmth at all? Well, I had already pointed out that CSH had found ways to keep her mind sane and to express herself: the paintings and the hands. But actually, she is not the only one who uses the hand as a way to express feelings and indirectly thoughts.

In order to endure everything, to bear the humiliation and the harsh treatment, all of them, even director Choi who is just a pawn, react the same way. They hide their true feelings by hiding behind a smile or an expressionless face and use their hands in order to release their anger

Encounter episode 4 JH hand anger.png
episode 4: KJH’s hand just before he intervenes and decides to enter her world

(JH, episode 4… he hears director Choi insulting CSH) , anxiety, fear
(episode 3, CSH’s hand sitting in front of Chairman Kim),

Encounter episode 3 CSH hand fear.png


Encounter episode 7 JH hand.png

(JH, episode 7 after hearing about his transfer) or their hurt. That way, queen Kim and the other royals think that they are all obedient puppets. However, this is just a subterfuge. None of them stop thinking or feeling. They remain humans.

Encounter episode 7 Choi hands.png
episode 7: director Choi is meeting CEO Kim.

With this taking, the hands of director Choi reveal two aspects: he is hiding one hand with the other. Actually, he is scared because Chairman Kim tells him that she discovered his disobedience and she saw his gesture as backstabbing (episode 7). With his two hands, director Choi is able to deceive Kim as his gesture underlines his obedience. However, we could interpret this gesture as a way to hide his fear… while the one hand is shaking, the other is able to hide and control the shaking.  

Now, you understand the “obsession” of this director with the hands. The hand is used in this cold world as a way to endure everything but at the same time to remain human. They are able to stay calm and overcome the terrible situation. Striking is that the director even decided to show the hands of minor characters like director Choi reinforcing the idea that in this chaebol world no one is actually really speechless. They might not speak in front of chairman Kim but they are still able to think on their own and feel.

But now let us focus on the takings of feet. Sure, the director often zoomed on KJH or CSH’s shoes. Nevertheless the way the taking was made has its significance. When KJH decided to enter CSH’s world, we see the following zooms:

episode 4

As you can see, when we see KJH’s feet, his legs are visible, whereas it is not the case for CSH. Her shoes are partially visible or we only can observe her feet with ankles. To me, this reflects their freedom. CSH is not able to move freely like KJH. The closer the zoom, the less mobile and free the person is. Sure, this could be a coincidence. However, it was continually used this way. Let me give you another example. In the episode 7, KJH is told that he will be sent to Sokcho. Frustrated, he goes jogging. Then suddenly, we see this:

episode 7

To me, this taking reflect the pressure and his actual position: he is still free to tell CSH about the demotion, whereas in reality he has not many options. He can not tell CSH the truth as he fears that she might get hurt again. Moreover, she might do something that could tarnish her reputation.

episode 7

This explains why later the viewer can observe this: CSH is returning to her office after hearing the news about KJH’s demotion. Notice that this time, we see more than her feet. She has definitely more freedom than before… I see another confirmation with this scene from the episode 11:

Here, you could object that we don’t see the legs, yet their legs are visible through the shadows. So now we see that their feet are next to each other. Not only their closeness is reflected with this taking, but also their freedom . CSH chose to be with KJH and she made her decision willingly. Yet, notice that KJH’s shadow is bigger than CSH’s indicating that CSH’s situation is still different from KJH. She still has some issues: her own fears and insecurities.
In the camera zoom from the episode 7, we see her walking which contrasts to the former takings from the episode 3

Encounter episode 3 KJH's foot under the table 1.png
episode 3: KJH wants to get closer to CSH, hence he moves his foot just a little, which CSH will reject. She moves her foot away… just a little.

or 4 (see pictures above). She is no longer immobile. The zoom (Picture from the episode 7, see above) reflects her change of mind. She is active. This justifies why CSH’s feet are moving more slowly than KJH’s (episode 9).

Encounter episode 9 CSH feet end.png
episode 9: CSH is returning to KJH’s side.

She was trapped before, unable to move… had no freedom, now she is free but due to her long immobility, she can not run like KJH.

Encounter episode 9 KJH feet.png
episode 9

Striking is that just like with the hands, the director used zooms on feet of other characters.

episode 7: driver Nam with Min Jun, KSJ’s daughter

This taking underlines two aspects: the closeness of these two persons, yet the problem that MJ is facing: the divorce of her mother. Driver Nam can only remain by her side and help her to overcome this. He can not do what he would like.

To conclude, the takings of hands and feet revealed a lot about the characters’ situation and their emotions. The director used a very unconventional way to symbolize the actual situation, the feelings of the characters.

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