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After seeing the illustration, it becomes clear that one topic of this essay is to outline the huge contrast between Kim Dan and Joo Jaekyung’s life.
1. The top and the bottom
While the latter lives at the top of the building , (chapter 2) the other sleeps in one room apartment in a small house. (chapter 5) (chapter 1) This signifies that while the champion is at the top of Korean society, the other is at the bottom. This is no coincidence that their social status is mirrored in their relationship. While the athlete owns an expensive car (chapter 9), the other uses public transportation. (chapter 1) As a conclusion, one character embodies wealth, while the other stands for poverty.
2. Pictures and status
Under this new light, the manhwalovers can comprehend why the author created such pictures. (chapter 1) (chapter 3) (chapter 9) Their position was reflecting not only their respective social status, but also the social gap, as they were not standing side by side.. Since the champion belongs to the high society, Kim Dan had to look up at the celebrity initially. This was not just a question of height. Striking is that in the first two pictures, the protagonists were facing each other at a certain distance, they had nothing linking them together, indicating that the two main leads were living in two different worlds. However, there was a first change, when Kim Dan (chapter 2) grabbed the champion’s robe. Striking is that he barely held the cloth, as if he didn’t dare to touch the jacket. He was looking down, a sign of humbleness and resignation. I would even add, his attitude reminded the viewers more of a beggar, pleading for leniency and generosity. This panel truly displayed the power relationship between Kim Dan and Joo Jaekyung. Money was in the center of this couple and this is what brought them together initially! The poor needs the assistance of the rich. On the other hand, this gesture also announced a change. For the first time, Kim Dan was not only interacting with someone belonging to the top, but also was relying on someone else. Yet, this was more prostitution than work in the beginning, until Joo Jaekyung revealed his dependency on Kim Dan through the missed calls and the job offer. That’s the reason why the physical therapist was no longer imploring the champion, but now making requests. (chapter 6) Hence the main lead was positioned much lower than the doctor first.
Another important aspect is that in this scene, (chapter 9) the man of the hour was not Joo Jaekyung, but the physician contrary to these two other scenes. (chapter 1) (chapter 3) This explicates why during the welcome party, Kim Dan stands on the other side while holding a bowl. The latter resembles a lot to a cup due to the form and color!. (chapter 9) Kim Dan is now at the top, as all the boxers are looking at him cheering him up. (chapter 9) It even looks like manager Park Namwook was also recording this event. Striking is that for the first time, both main leads are interacting together in front of others. The drink is supposed to bring Kim Dan closer to the team and as such closer to Joo Jaekyung, which indeed happens afterwards. The latter is forced to enter Kim Dan’s world, and discover a new face of reality. (chapter 9)
Furthermore, the bowl (chapter 9) is a metaphor for the future link between the two protagonists. The doctor is there to help the athlete to win competitions, or like I had mentioned before, he is his reward and prize for his long and painful career. I would even add,, they will bond through sport, just like it occurred in the shower room. (chapter 8) Thus we had the challenge with the cup full of alcohol. (chapter 9)
3. Two worlds and sport
The irony is that Joo Jaekyung never realized that by provoking the young doctor with this description “delicate”, he pushed the young man to prove his strength. At the end, he won the bet and received the admiration of the members from Black Team. (chapter 9) This is important, because the doctor has truly earned the respect from Black Team, he is definitely accepted as one of them. Thus from that moment on, neither money nor the contract can have an influence on the relationship between the physician and the fighters. Observe that they keep calling him “doc”, which shows that they respect him not only due to his seniority but also due to his education. He studied hard to become a physical therapist. Hence Oh Daehyung refuses that Kim Dan acts as a servant, it is not his role and place to fetch ice cream for the boxers. (chapter 9) He is no errand boy. They don’t judge him based on his social class, but on his college degree. As you can see, sport is a place that can bring people from different social classes together. This explicates why we have famous sport events like Olympic games or World cups. Here, people from different countries are competing against each other, but it is the same principle. These events were created to generate friendship and avoid military conflicts. In tournaments, talents matter more than money and social status, though this statement has to be relativized, for “poorer countries” offer less chances to develop talented sportsmen. Hence some athletes decide to change their citizenship. Nevertheless, we can definitely state that sport generates bonds among the different social classes and as such serve to reduce the gap between the top and bottom.
4. The purpose of the contrast
On the other hand, I don’t think that Joo Jaekyung became rich thanks to his successful career, though this is not what Kim Dan is thinking.. (chapter 2) He is only famous in Korea according to the protagonist. Thus, for me, Kim Dan is quite naïve. Why do I come to this deduction? Simply through the contrast! The existence of two worlds indicates that Kim Dan is the “negative” reflection of Joo Jaekyung, though there is no ambiguity that they share some similarities: both take their job seriously, and are really hard-working. The champion never misses his training.
And this leads me to the following observation: Joo Jaekyung might belong to the upper-class, yet he never went to university. Since the doctor worked hard to get a good job, I conclude that it was the opposite for the champion. He was not talented for studies, he was more an athletic person. Now, I would like my avid readers to take a look at this table
|Joo Jaekyung||Kim Dan|
|Huge penthouse||One-room flat|
|Only one family member: halmoni|
|rich neighborhood||poor neighborhood|
Under this new perspective, people can understand why I came to this deduction. Since Kim Dan’s family consists of two members, himself and his grandmother, I am assuming that Joo Jaekyung still has an intact family, but they are not close. We have many evidences for this interpretation. In the athlete’s penthouse, there are no family pictures or items reminding of a loved one contrary to the physician. (chapter 5) His place feels too empty and clean. (chapter 6) Secondly, there was no one by his side except his hyung, Park Namwook, when he won his fight. (chapter 5) Finally, this theory got reinforced, when I saw this panel. (chapter 9), which contrasts so much to this image. (chapter 2) However, these two scenes have something in common: “redevelopment!”. The skyscrapers are new buildings. This means that the district got redeveloped. That’s the reason why I believe that Joo Jaekyung’s family must be involved in the construction field or at least in the redevelopment of the city.
I would like to point out that many houses have a red cross on their wall (chapter 9) This indicates that the buildings were sold to a construction company. That’s the reason why the district looks so deserted and ruined, though there exists opposition visible thanks to the banner. Thus I deduce that this construction company and politicians are pressuring inhabitants to sell their home and this for a cheap price. The problem is that the moment the district is totally empty and gets redeveloped, the price for rent will increase considerably so that people with a low income can no longer live there. As you can see, this scene gave us the answer to the physician’s question: (chapter 1) The loan sharks were sent there to harass Kim Dan to sell the property. That’s the reason why the doors on the house have no red cross. (chapter 1) And if you are familiar with K-dramas or other manhwas (Under The Green Light for example), you are well aware that construction companies are often linked to Korean mafia! Consequently, I am suspecting that Joo Jaekyung is related to a construction company and as such to the mafia. This would explicate why he can live in the penthouse, why he has tattoos and finally why his family didn’t pay too much attention to his education. Only money and power matter in such a world. Hence this would not be surprising that the athlete has such a terrible mind-set, though I believe that there exist other causes for his aggressiveness and selfishness. Besides, this would explicate why he associates sex to prostitution and sponsoring. And if my theory is correct, this signifies that by meeting Kim Dan, he is forced to face reality, the true origins of his wealth: exploitation and ruthlessness. I am even wondering if he is not one of the owners of “Black Team”, as he brought the company card to the restaurant. On the other hand, he was not always lucky in his career, for his ears are really damaged. That’s the other reason why I am thinking that his fortune is not entirely self-made. At the same time, his encounter with Kim Dan can only bring a change in his life. For the doctor symbolizes integrity, responsibility and selflessness, the champion will come to slowly internalize these values.
This is not surprising that at the end of the contest, Joo Jaekyung is forced to become responsible for Kim Dan’s drunkenness. . (chapter 9) We could also say that it was his karma, for abandoning him before in the shower. Because the main lead had to bring the doctor home, he discovered a new world which left him speechless. (chapter 9) He couldn’t even imagine that someone would live there. Thus he got skeptical. (chapter 9) This discovery can only puzzle him. He gave him so much money, yet he still lives in such a neighborhood. He can only wonder where the money went. It is now only a matter of time, until he gets aware that his salary is spent for someone else! Furthermore, the manhwaphiles should question if the champion is willing to enter such a deserted district. If he does, there is no ambiguity that he will meet the loan sharks. If not, he could decide to bring him home. One thing is sure: this discovery caught the champion’s notice and this can only intrigue the boxer. It’s not random that the moment he became responsible for Kim Dan, he was faced with reality. Responsibility and reality go hand in hand.
To conclude, Kim Dan is the champion’s medicine, he pushes him to witness the other side of the coin!! Money can reinforce social iniquities, so that it is difficult to break free from the vicious circle. Health is also strongly connected to income. It is well known that residents of impoverished communities are at increased risk for mental illness, chronic disease, higher mortality, and lower life expectancy. Just because poor people have no money, this doesn’t signify that they are less worth. Joo Jaekyung can only recognize the importance of health. Only a healthy lover can give him what he needs.
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