The Earth is flat: Jeong Tae Eul’s relationship to sciences and belief

Since the beginning, Jeong Tae Eul is associated to the following expression: the Earth is flat. This expression is quite important as it reveals Jeong Tae Eul’s personality and the way she perceives the world.

While our protagonist Lee Gon is introduced as a mathematician and scientist, hence he tries to understand the world through numbers and physical laws, our heroine appears to be the opposite, she is a liberal arts person. That’s the reason why Jo Young initially rejects Jeong Tae Eul as he says that JTE is not the science type hence she is not Lee Gon’s type. The fact that she is a liberal arts person is pointed out on many occasions. First, she reveals her lack of knowledge in math, when she tries to reject Lee Gon’s proposal.

She doesn’t realize her mistake, until Lee Gon points out the issue with the 360 degrees. Sure, she corrects herself, yet this incident underlines her disinterest for math and sciences in general. Another example for her lack of interest in these topics is when she doesn’t even try to understand Lee Gon’s explanation about the existence of a parallel world. She doesn’t really pay attention to his explanation about the Quantum mechanic theory, for her it sounds so complex to grasp that she even gives up before really listening. At some point, she gets upset as Lee Gon keeps trying to explain to her about the parallel world that she yells back that for her, the Earth is still flat.

Why does she mean with this? She knows that the Earth is round as it is a planet. In reality, she wants to say that she needs to experience that the earth is round in order to accept this knowledge. She can not understand things through numbers or theories, she needs to live it with all her senses. She is so different from Lee Gon who uses his brain in order to grasp the world, she uses her other senses in order to gain knowledge: the eyes, the hands, the heart… As conclusion, she belongs to the type of people who prefer learning through experience. (if you want to read more about this)

This explains the choice of her career. She could have become a senior inspector much earlier, if she hadn’t opted to work as a detective. She chose to work on the field rather than behind a desk. This also explicates why Jeong Tae Eul is a Taekwondo fighter. This sport worships the following virtues: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Through her body, our heroine learns these virtues hence she was there to help Kang Sin Jae, when the latter was bullied. First, out of courtesy, she asked the students to stop the bullying. She didn’t give up, when she got threatened (perseverance). Our female lead was able to control the students and showed no fear, when she started fighting against 5 students (self-control and indomitable spirit). That’s the reason why JTE embodies those qualities as well.

But since she met Lee Gon, she was confronted by a dilemma. On the one side, she wanted to believe in Lee Gon’s good nature, on the other side she didn’t believe in his words. Therefore, she remained by his side and even helped him to sell the diamonds or invited him to eat something. But at the same time, she wanted to reveal his lies. Strangely, she needed to use sciences for that. She asked for a fingerprint test, for a DNA test and finally for the help from the Korea Racing Authority because of the horse. Striking is that the sciences she neglected or rejected before proved that Lee Gon was not lying. With her own eyes and ears, she discovers that everything Lee Gon said is correct. While she didn’t believe in his words in the beginning, the sciences are the cause for her change of heart. Little by little, her resolve to see him as a weird or crazy person diminishes. She is more and more doubtful. She is not entirely convinced hence she wants to see Lee Gon’s world in order to believe him entirely. Once there, she wants to discover Monarchy of Corea hence she makes a trip to Seoul. Through her travel, she witnesses all the differences between her world and this world which leads her to admit the truth: the existence of a parallel world.

Just like Lee Gon who had stopped believing in gods, Jeong Tae Eul didn’t believe in the existence of the parallel world but at some point, she realized her mistake. Later, she even conceded to her colleague Kang Sin Jae that she believed Lee Gon and everything from him. She has become a true believer as she experienced the new world on her own.

Since she is a person who acquires knowledge through experience, she is really adamant to know if Lee Gon has been dating before meeting her. That’s why she focused on “first” things: first dating and first girlfriend, first snow, first cooking etc. That’s why Lee Gon asks her on the other hand if her earth has become rounder. She has gained experience and knowledge through what she has lived.

episode 6: Jeong Tae Eul says here “I was just waiting on Earth, which has become slightly rounder”. With these words, our detective confesses that her affection for Lee Gon has grown.

After parting from Lee Gon in the episode 6, she misses him more and more. Her longing lets her realize what Lee Gon means to her. At the end, she has no problem to show her affections to him therefore she hugs him. Step by step, she learns what love is. In another scene, the king complains that her Earth is still flat, which she admits (“It’s as flat as a thin pancake”). In that scene, she didn’t know how to console Lee Gon as she had never done it before. Since Lee Gon is her first love, she lacks experience but due to her love for him, she has changed. She is learning how to love and show love to someone.

While watching JTE all along, I couldn’t help myself thinking about the apostle John who is often called the doubter or sceptic. He refused to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ until he saw Christ’s wounds. The reason why I associated JTE with John is because of the painting of Caravaggio

Ausstellung: Caravaggio: Ein Berliner Liebesgruß - Kultur ...
Pay attention to John’s behavior. He is actually touching the wound and not really looking at it. Because of this experience, he believed even more in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Actually, the other apostles had also a hard time to believe in this miracle, yet only John is considered a sceptic. In reality, John is a stronger believer as he is willing to die for Jesus Christ, he is also a team player (John 20,25; John 14,5), just like our heroine. The latter says that Lee Gon can rely on 5 people next to her. She is willing to do anything for him, she trusts him so much that she doesn’t even doubt that he won’t be able to rescue her. Unlike Lee Gon who rejected faith after that fateful night (coup d’etat of his uncle Lee Rim), JTE has always felt some affinity with the supernatural. She mentions the story about the moon rabbit which our king rejects by saying that the moon is covered with regolits. Then when she is in the passage between the two worlds, she wonders if there is magic there. Magic is a symbol for supernatural.

In this scene she sows seeds

Lee Gon answers her that space can not be explained scientifically as there is no wind, no air and no time, yet his explications don’t stop her to sow some seeds. She hopes that a plant could grow. Hope has a strong connection to faith. She is different as she feels that this passage shows wonders. Her closeness to legends and myths makes it easier for her to believe in magic. Her hopeful attitude contrasts much more to Lee Gon’s behavior. She starts believing much earlier than him… only in the episode 12, he wants to pray to god with JTE. We see JTE’s praying much earlier, when she talks to the plants.

episode 6: “I know you’re from a different world, but you should sprout. Your friends are in a much harsher place now”.

Notice that Lee Gon also starts talking to the plant after his return. Nonetheless, his talking to the plant doesn’t resemble a prayer as it is an order. He orders the plant to sprout in this world. However, both protagonists have to make the same leap of faith. For JTE, her love confession should be perceived as a leap of faith. She calls it fate.

episode 7

She believes in fate hence she says:

It took me a long time to realize this. When it’s fate, there is no coincidence. The fate is determined by the choices you made but there are times, when your fate chooses you. Things that are bound to happen are taking place even at this moment. I was struck with a sad premonition that this will be short-lived but I decided to love my fate that chose me.

Since she is a learner through experiences, she needs much more time to understand the world and her own feelings. This explains why Lee Gon wants to marry her as soon as possible and it took her much longer to realize her love for him.

The more she interacts with our hero, the more she is influenced by him. She has already accepted that she is his number 0. In the episode 6, she admits that there was no way she could know what was happening in his world. Because he was a person who was beyond one and zero. With these words, she unveils her longing. She feels the huge distance between herself and Lee Gon. She is no longer rejecting numbers and science at all. Furthermore she keeps asking Lee Gon to appear within 10 minutes.

Notice that she calls the existence of the parallel world “science fiction”. One could claim that she is avoiding the topic “existence of the parallel world” as she feels that KSJ will never come to believe it too. However, I feel that her choice of words reflects her own mentality. Since JTE listens to Lee Gon’s scientific explanations (the time difference e. g.) unlike in the beginning, she has somehow combined the two worlds (science and belief/faith) in one expression. Belief was not really rejected by her, it was just that she somehow neglected it, just like she neglected sciences. With Lee Gon by her side, she has now turned into someone who believes in “sciences” and in fate (faith) as well since she has experienced it.

Lee Gon was able to change her attitude towards math and science because he used many metaphors with mathematical expressions “Root” “0” and “1” so that JTE could visualize and feel it. “I guess, you know now what root you are standing in front of. It’s my hell and my history”. He was not only trapped by his feelings for her (see his love confession) but also by his own situation as a king (his past and his family). He can not escape from his destiny, he is a king and as such he has his duties which he can not deny. Besides, he needs to catch his uncle too. Lee Gon understood very early how JTE thinks hence he changed his words towards her. Unlike our heroine, Lee Gon claims that he is a quick learner, while she needs experiences to acquire knowledge.

But the results are the same: both protagonists have changed and become both true believers. They no longer rejects science or faith. They have accepted that both can complement each other, just like Blaise Pascal wanted.

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