The importance of nature in Encounter

This drama is really interesting because each episode starts and ends with a drawing. Each pictured scene doesn’t just serve as an introduction to the main topic of the episode, but also helps to understand the characters and their situation. However, if the drawings are all put together, you will notice a common denominator, the presence of nature. And each time, its presence is increasing. But now let us go back to the first episode and the introduced drawings. 

episode 1
episode 1

So far, two worlds are introduced: the castle, where the princess is living and the green land where our main character is reading a book. The atmosphere of the first image is gloomy and rather suffocating. It is night, yet the moon is not shining at all. The moon is even hidden by the palace. Under the yellow arrow, you observe the princess leaving the castle on her own, going through the forest full of thorns,

Encounter 1 sleeping beauty.png
episode 1

until she arrives in a new world, where the moon and sun are shining at the same time. There, a man is reading a book, until he notices her and stands up. Both are facing each other. Here, the first drawing represents Cha Soo Hyun’s world, the modern civilization, whereas the second drawing embodies Cuba, where KJH will meet her. So the castle could be seen as a representation of Donghwa Hotel and Taegyeong Group.
CSH is the CEO of Donghwa Hotel and she has just opened a new resort close to the sea. When the viewer sees her for the first time, she is already looking at the sea. She appears emotionless, yet we can see that the sea has some positive effects on her. She is calm.

episode 1

Later, she explains how she developed the hotel. She wanted her future clients to rest by having a view of the sea or of the mountain. As you can see, she perceives nature as something positive, which can help someone to relax. Now, if we connect this to her trip on Cuba (her desire to watch the sunset at a certain beach), the viewer realize what nature means a lot to CSH. For her, nature is beautiful, can help people to relax and enjoy their time. However, the picture above shows that she can not get close to nature, as the window is separating her from the sea. The window could be perceived as a prison window due to the iron bars. This underlines first that CSH is living in a different world, far away from nature, and that she can not live like she would like. The other drawings show her living in a castle or pavilion, surrounded by people or by a fence, or trapped by a window

episode 3

or even attached to a building.

episode 2 (credit to @Jemrie, forum soompi)

To conclude, she is not just immobile, as she can not move, she lives in an urban world that is suffocating her and she can usually only escape from it through her paintings. The paintings function as a window to a different world, where her fantasy and her feelings are not contrived,

Emcoumter episode 5 drawing.png
episode 5

however it is not enough, since her biggest desire is to be close to nature as she likes observing nature (sunset). That’s why she was so determined to reach the beach in order to watch the sunrise, no matter what (broken taxi, no money, no phone). We shouldn’t forget that CSH is determined to renovate the hotel in Cuba without changing the garden, even refusing to put a swimming pool. She even outlined that the strength of this property was the garden. As you can see, she values the hotels based on natural elements:  garden, sea, mountain. She wants people to feel close to nature through her hotels. Notice that after watching the scene where JH was looked down by her ex-mother-in-law (episode 6), she was standing in front of a huge window looking at the sea. At some point, you could sense that looking at the sea had this calming effect on her. For her, nature is a source of strength. Sure, she is a princess in the eyes of many, yet there is one person who perceives her differently. This is not a coincidence that in the episode 5,  driver Nam compared our protagonist to a flower. He explained to CSH that no one can stop a flower from blossoming. As you can see, CSH is like a beautiful flower that has been “put behind a glass” by her mother and ex-family. A flower needs fresh air and water in order to live and that’s what JWS is not able to understand. He realized that in their marriage she was suffocating, hence he released her. In reality, he just created a bigger cage for CSH: Donghwa hotel. 

However, our heroine is not just associated to a flower. She is often linked to birds. 

Encounter episode 7 drawing ending.png
episode 9

First, look at the bird sitting on her lap in the gif above (episode 2). Then don’t forget the white howl she offered to JH (episode 2). But most importantly, just before the accident happened in Cuba, a bird appeared on KJH’s table at the cafe. The bird was announcing their fateful encounter.

Encounter episode 1 bird.png
episode 1

In the episode, we see this taking. She looks like a flying bird.

Encounter episode 10 CSH directors meeting.png
episode 10

Don’t forget that JWS is always filmed indoors, in suffocating rooms with no windows so that you have the impression, he is living in a prison, even worse, in a buried coffin due to his preference of rectangles and brown/black as colors. However, in his mind, this beautiful flower needed a protector that’s why he is helping her behind her back. She is like a flower with JWS as a gardener who ensures that she doesn’t get hurt. Donghwa hotel can be perceived as a greenhouse, where everyone can look at CSH and even gossip about her. He is just the gardener protecting her. By doing so, he feels that the flower sooner or later will realize what he has done to her so that she will smile beautifully to him like a flower and she will come back to his side. However, the difference between JWS and Nam is that the latter only compared her to one flower, while the other associated her to many flowers (episode 10). For Nam, she was fragile and unique, for our second lead, a lot of flowers looked like her, unaware that his words meant that she was nothing special.

But let’s go back to the drawings… they have all something in common: nature is always present, in the beginning (episode 1, 3, 4) less, but the more episodes were aired, the more nature prevails, whereas the modern civilization disappears little by little therefore there is no castle at the end… just time or moon or sun or stars (drawing from the episode 13, 14, 15 and 16), since Donghwa and Taegyeong Group represent no thread any longer. Nature has won over modern civilization. The reason is simple. First, nature plays a huge part in CSH’s life. Only when she is surrounded by nature (like drawing 1), she can feel free. Cuba is such a place. It has also become a meaningful place for her because she could do anything she wanted without being in the center of the attention. If we look at the first picture above, you can see that the trees are black and without leaves indicating that this is winter and nature is sleeping. We can interpret this scene as if her passionate nature was sleeping, oppressed. In her dark world, where she is so small and powerless, she is also like a flower that is sleeping or has not bloomed yet.

episode 11

In my opinion, JWS and his mother represent the opposite world. Wealth and their social status are associated to civilization and modern world which are symbolized in the drawings 1, 3, 4, 5 and 11 (castle, pavilion, street lamps, road, windows, fence, wheels aso). That’s why CSH can never be happy with them. This is not random that JWS is always concerned about his image and appearance (he went to the shop because he wanted to impress a picky woman, his ex-wife), as he believes this matters in order to seduce someone. He even bought an expensive dress for CSH. Appearance is linked to artificiality, the opposite of simplicity and naturalness. As you can see, image means a lot to JWS, but it is different for CSH. KJH could move her heart because he wanted her to feel comfortable: the shoes, the jackets, the scarf. He always tries to give her his clothes. He always worries that she might get cold or hurt. A person obsessed with appearance would never accept such gestures because it wouldn’t look good but CSH is not thinking like that.

On the other hand, our hero JH is linked to nature in the different drawings. In the first drawing, he is living in a world so different from CSH: sunlight, green and tree. He is often standing next to the sun. If he is not represented, he is symbolized by the red butterfly (episode 4). The red butterfly has an important signification: it is an omen announcing huge changes in someone’s life. From my point of view, when the red butterfly touches CSH’s head, it was as if it brought back life and feelings to our protagonist. But don’t forget that in the story itself, JH introduced himself to CSH as fruit seller. In the same episode (1), CSH compares him herself to a fruit saying that he was like a white grape. Then in the following drawing,

episode 12

the beholder discovers that KJH’s home is a tree, whereas her ex-husband’s home reminds us of a coffin. In another episode, JWS uses the metaphor of the wind, when he warns CSH that she might get swayed away.

Encounter episode 8 JWS and CSH meeting.png
episode 8

Here the wind is actually a metaphor for JH. The wind knows no boundary, no limit as it is connected to the sky that’s why the wind should be perceived as the epitome of freedom. Moreover, by asking her not to let herself blow away, JWS actually wants her to remain in his world (“rectangle/frame”) because if she allows this, she will leave his world and won’t be able to come back. Furthermore, by associating JH to the wind, he is implying that her relationship with JH is doomed as the wind is something untouchable. You can not remain by the side of the wind, you can feel it but that’s it. To conclude, our hero is often associated with products coming from the nature: tree, butterfly, wind, grape, sun and fruit. The tree offers protection and rest for birds.

And this is another evidence that JH and CSH are meant for each other. A bird can only feel free and comfortable in the air… with the wind. On the other hand, JWS just compares her to flowers. JWS sent many flowers and even wrote that these resembled her. So the note and the number of flowers give the impression that CSH is not unique and special. This contrasts so much with JH’s mind: “among a multitude of stars, one star stares at me.” So for him, CSH is an unique star that he can distinguish from others… for JWS, it is different. In the end, his gesture shows that CSH is not really meaningful but he doesn’t realize that. Funny is that he thinks a little note, he can woo her so easily… JWS is far from being well educated: his expression skills and knowledge about book, arts and poetry are rather low and poor.

Encounter episode 8 drawing beginning.png
episode 8

Since Cha Soo Hyun is represented by the moon and the bird, KJH by the sun, the air and the wind, this explains why the beholder often witnesses our protagonists flying a lot in the drawings (episode 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16). The sky is their natural environment, hence our couple is often walking and even climbing a tower.

Encounter episode 8 the tower.png
episode 8

Don’t forget that our couple is represented by the moon, the sun and the star. As conclusion, the sky, even the space are their real element.

Encounter 7 drawing tear star.png
episode 7

Sure, the drawings also reflect the evolution of CSH’s situation and her relationship with JH. At some point, she has freed herself, she is no longer captive like in the drawing from the episode 3 and 4. She is also not surrounded by enemies, like the snakes in the episode 4.

Encounter drawing episode 4 fighting the snakes.png
episode 4
episode 15

Her emotions have changed as well. She is no longer cold, no sleeping flower. She is warming up, her emotions are starting showing up. As conclusion, nature symbolizes here liberty, but more precisely, the sky and space are the real symbols for freedom. Only at the end, she will be entirely free (no more guilt or insecurities). She is no longer bound by the earth or time, she has become a real moon. She is shining as the sun is shining next to her. As conclusion, the higher our protagonists are/ fly, the freer they are.

episode 16: the climax of their love and freedom
Encounter episode 6 drawing 2.png
episode 6

We shouldn’t forget that nature can also be dangerous. Notice that once CSH has escaped from her cage, she always has to face enemies and adversities. And in nature, her enemies are represented by the snakes, waves and the wolf. As you can see, nature is also connected to negative aspects. Nonetheless, this underlines that the problems and enemies CSH and JH have to face are natural phenomenons. This is nothing special but on their journey (drawing from the episode 5 and 6), they need to be together and work together. At the end, the sun has never shone so brightly. The MIL, the director Choi, her ex-husband are symbolized by the waves, the snakes and the wolf but since CSH and KJH never gave up and remained firm, the waves, the wolf and the snakes disappeared. In the drawing of the episode 6, KJH always serves her as a guide, he is her strength because he is the sun that warms her so that the flower can blossom beautifully.  As for the wolf, the viewer shouldn’t forget that wolfs were used to be associated to death and danger in the past (see for example the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood), while the image of the wolf in modern stories has nowadays changed, since they are in danger. To conclude, the danger coming from nature are linked to the earth (the forest of thorns serving as border and fence, sea, snakes, time, wolf) contrasting to the space and sky, the epitome of freedom. In the universe, there is no limit of time and space.

Encounter drawing episode 6.png
episode 6

Encounter: a photo album

I had analyzed the different meanings of “Encounter” and pointed out that “encounters” was exactly what defined JH-CSH’s relationship which explain why despite the gaps in their social status, their age and environment they could meet and understand each other. Due to many encounters, their relationship got deeper. Then in the episode 5, the turning point of their relationship is marked, when they stand in front of this painting.

Encounter episode 5 painting Whanki.png

They are looking at each other and JH is even touching CSH’s arm. She doesn’t push him away. Striking is that this painting from Kim Whanki is also referring to “encounter”, since his title is “Where, in What Form Shall We Meet Again”. What also caught my attention are the colors and the structure of this painting. Since we know that Cha Soo Hyun’s element is water as our heroine is often connected to the sea, we could interpret this painting as an image of the sea with a lot of foam, bulbs of air. So this painting embodies perfectly CSH and KJH’s relationship: the meeting of water and air. Yet we could interpret this painting in a different way. As you can see, 

Image result for Korean painter where in what way we will meet again
Kim Whanki, Where, in What Form Shall We Meet Again

the painter Whanki Kim drew a lot of squares with different sizes and colors. The squares could be seen as picture frames. And now we can understand why the episode started with this drawing. 

Emcoumter episode 5 drawing.png

Our protagonists are walking side by side and there are a lot of picture frames. All of them look empty. But in reality, there are not. It is just that our OTP is not aware that their relationship has been marked with different pictures. They didn’t take any picture but the director and the viewers are the spectators of their pictures. I sense that from the start, the director and writers were planning to use this drawing and painting. Let me give you examples from previous episodes:

In the first episodes, we see these following takings:

Encounter 1 JH CSH.png
Encounter 1 time pictures.png

Due to the black frames, they definitely look like photos. Then in the second episode, wheen JH and CSH were eating ramyeon, the scene was so shot that you have the impression, it is a picture (metal bars remind of a frame again) 

Encounter episode 2 ramen eating.png

and it became a photo for real.

Encounter episode 2 pictures scandal ramen.png

Then in the third episode, this scene on the beach

encounter episode 3 sea side.png

which is breathtaking reminds us of a painting due to the window frame of wood which can be perceived as picture frame. In the episode 5, the director shot a scene in a similar manner: 

Encounter 5 picture JH CSH.png

To me, the painting from Whanki should be seen as a photo album that contains all the moments of our OTP and that’s why at the end of the episode, we see the painting used to show different moments of JH and CSH’s life.

Encounter 5 painting Whanki with photos.png

JH and CSH are not entirely aware of their serendipity because at the end, we see how their paths crossed each other without noticing each other. By doing so, the director and writer are underlining that they were fated to meet. As conclusion, the viewers are actually watching a photo album of our OTP therefore the writer keep shooting scenes as photos. Moreover, the picture frames in the drawing look a lot like stars illustrating first the natural of their meetings and second the impact of their encounters… in this darkness, they felt happy and are kept as good memories. And their final photo is this

episode 16

All along the viewers keep seeing such pictures, while our protagonists have no idea of their existence. These are invisible photos. But who is the photographer? Sure, in reality the director chose to create such takings but in the story itself, I would say, nature and time are the ones behind these pictures as nature and time are the natural forces that bring KJH and CSH together.