Deep inside, we all want to be loved and appreciated. Glamorized and idolized. We want to have everyone call our name from the morning to the night, cheer for us and boost us up when we’re down. There’s nothing like the feeling of a stranger, somewhere in another corner of the world, knowing your name and your history, your desires and fears. It’s a particular feeling, one that makes us do everything we need to do in order to achieve the dream. We work at jobs that are beneath us to someday aim for something above us, along the way polishing our images by every natural and artificial means available to us, and we create a public persona that can eventually be that idol we envision. Everyone has this dream; there’s no shame in it. I have this dream, too. But you all know that. I’m Kyungri, after all. You all know me.
Becoming famous has always been my dream, and now that I’m the cusp of that dream, of the success that I’ve always yearned for, I’m going to let you all in for a peek at why it’s so important to me to become a shining beacon of wealth and success. It’s not just so I can continue to make this body a true pantheon of perfection, even though that is essential, as well. No, there’s more to me that you all haven’t seen even in my deepest moments on Kev & Get It. Are you ready for a closer look at what truly makes me want to continue to be the glittering goddess I am? Well, you might be surprised, but… it’s actually my family.
“Everyone, it’s time for dinner! Please come to the table immediately, there’s much to discuss,” I calmly call through my home’s intercom system. “Please make haste, the meal is going to get cold.”
As I prepare the table, I hear my family slowly gather in the dining room behind me. Everyone is home but Mark. I know this because his mopey steps aren’t part of the collection of sounds around me: my mother’s quiet but dignified gait coming out of her boudoir, Minho’s clumsy and heavy stomps upstairs, my girls’ dainty and perfected treads on the marble floor, Takeru’s stoic pace down the steps, Dr. Kim’s dignified and sensual stride across the kitchen… Yes, I’ve learned to distinguish these sounds. It’s important to know how to determine who’s around, who’s coming, when you’re unsure of how to comport yourself. Fortunately, I’m confident that tonight it’s safe to be myself—and by this, I mean that I will be the shining and successful head of the household, of course. I must set the example, after all.
“Everyone, sit! We have many things to talk about tonight,” I say as I put the finishing touches on the dinner.
“Kyungri, noona, there’s… nothing here, though,” I hear Minho say as he sits down.
Minho… my younger brother. One of my biggest joys in life was to be able to help raise him even though I was a child myself, and it has been positively wonderful to see him become the man he is today. Even though he does, sometimes, act without the decorum required by this family. Regardless, he is a pillar in this family and he reciprocated my nurturing kindness by helping raise my children alongside his own when I was out providing for the family. He is a good man. Even though he cannot stop looking at the camera, I swear to Shaman Unnie that I’ve told him five hundred… Excuse me. Yes, a good man.
“Minho, this meal is mental only. And it will certainly be nourishing,” I sigh, knowing that he’s already had a greasy microwaved pizza… thing… just minutes before. I could smell its lingering stench when I walked into the kitchen to prepare the meal and I can see it in his guilty smile, too.
“But um, mom, we will be able to eat later, right?” asks Keumjo, my eldest daughter, looking torn between confusion and determination.
“Water should be enough. In fact, water is essential and you should drink a lot of it to keep your skin looking young,” I reply. “But I’ve ordered takeout from Juicy’s, so if you’re still hungry later, you can eat. I suppose.” I hear several sighs of relief around me. Of course.
I do have to admit that I am feeling quite peckish myself, but I haven’t eaten in front of my children, or on screen for that matter, in years and I am not about to start now.
I notice Dr. Kim looking concerned as I sit down. He usually wears a stoic expression on his face, but it seems like he is bothered by something tonight.
Dr. Kim, as you’ll remember, is my plastic surgeon. No, more than that. He’s a managing partner in this enterprise that I call my beauty. His handiwork has elevated my previously plain face into a gleaming and perfect visage. His able hands, well, they’re responsible for many other things as well. And he’s sitting with them at this table. Yes, unbeknownst to most people at this table, he’s also my partner in life and the father of my… three… children. I won’t go into much detail, but most people think he’s here simply because it’s easier to work on my beauty whilst in constant close proximity, and that’s why he’s a part of the family, but let’s just say that he is in much closer proximity than either of us admits.
I brush off his concerned expression, storing it in my mental to-do list for later. Right now, there are other pressing matters at hand.
I turn to my daughters. “Keumjo, you know that family comes before everything, even before a meal,” I say with conviction.
“Yes, mom. I know that,” she responds lightly, “but I don’t see why we can’t do both at the same time…? I mean, I’ve been starving all day!”
“Just wait a little bit more, my princess, and you’ll be able to eat. I wouldn’t let you down.” Dr. Kim looks at me again, looking slightly annoyed. I brush it off with a little laugh. “Everyone, let’s share!”
Just then, Mark walks into the house, dragging his feet as he always does. He looks morose, but I’ve gotten used to it by now.
“Mark, darling, it’s good to see you here for dinner,” I call, beckoning him to sit at the empty seat. He looks around, and I anticipate his statement. “No, the food is not here yet but we’re starting anyway.”
He shakes his head and looks down, sitting in front of Minho, his father. He won’t look at anyone, but I’m used to that, too. He’s always been a quiet boy, so this behavior isn’t recent. And though I’ve been concerned, I trust Minho to be better at getting to the heart of the issue than me.
My mother doesn’t look happy to see Mark so down. “Boy, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve just had your heart broken,” she asks him.
“Omma, leave him be,” Minho says quietly. He can see that Mark doesn’t particularly want to talk, but my mother doesn’t heed his request.
“I just think that we can share anything at this table, we’re all family here,” she says with conviction. As she should, because it’s true. We are all related here, even though not everyone knows it yet. So actually, maybe we shouldn’t be saying everything on our minds quite yet.
She launches into a speech. “Everyone, you must listen. When I came to America, I didn’t expect to one day be surrounded by such a rich family. Rich is an interesting word for me, because for so many decades it was a fantasy. And I mean rich in many ways, not just financial wealth. I had nothing in Korea, nothing but my dear children. And now we’re all here, blessed and together. So really, I would like for you to take a moment to think about how fortunate we all are to be here, together, and able to share with each other. I didn’t have that when I was young, so you should cherish that!”
The children look slightly uncomfortable, and they avert their eyes from my mother’s happy expression. It seems like I’m not the only one here with secrets that don’t want to come out, even with the most encouraging of family support.
“Thank you, mother, for that wonderful thought,” I say with a warm smile. “But perhaps it is time to discuss other important affairs?” Mark shoots me a quick smile, and I know that in that moment, I am the best aunt in the world.
I begin. “I think we should talk about the next step in my career. By this I mean, it’s time to truly branch out into other areas that will bring me, and by extension us, farther into the spotlight.”
I pause to look at my family. I am so proud of what we have become in recent years: a united front, a well-mannered but deeply caring unit. Beautiful and successful. It brings joy to my heart. I beam at every person seated at my table, and I prepare to launch into a detailed list of activities coming up in our campaign to take our fame to the next level.
“The first thing that we will do is—” I’m interrupted by the doorbell ringing. Damn. It’s the delivery boy, stealing the power of my moment with his promise of food. The boys get up to answer the door, and the girls quickly follow, squealing in delight as they see the feast I’ve ordered. Dr. Kim himself looks relieved at the prospect of a physical meal, getting up to pay the delivery boy, and Minho is already out of his seat preparing dishes, probably even salivating a little. I look across the table at my mother, sighing. She gives me a small smile and nod, understanding my frustration.
Oh, what the hell. I’m hungry, too. We’ll have to have this talk some other time. Nobody will pay attention to me while they’re eating the sumptuous meal anyhow, and I’ll be too distracted counting down until everyone leaves and I can eat alone, in peace.
After dinner, I let everyone go off and do their own thing. Mark retires to his room.
Mark is my nephew. Being the result of a fleeting relationship, Mark has never met his mother, and has always lived with us. Though he’s a quiet one, I have always identified with him. Maybe I’m mistaken, but he seems to believe that he doesn’t belong. He’s brilliant but has never been the best at communicating, and though he is consistently at the top of his class, he’s never happy with his results. His subdued personality is of a different kind than his father’s; Minho is quiet, but cheerful and goofy, and Mark is just… gloomy. A wonderful boy, but gloomy.
Minho knocks, and then walks into Mark’s room.
“Hey, I saw you’re not looking great,” he says, smiling kindly. “Is everything all right?”
Mark sighs, unsure of letting his father know about his inner turmoil. “I don’t know, Dad, OK? It’s stupid.”
“Nothing is stupid!” Minho chuckles. “I mean, unless it’s something really bad like… is it drugs? Do you owe someone money? Are you being bullied?”
“No! Dad, no, it’s nothing like that,” Mark groans. “It’s just… nothing important.”
“So why can’t you tell me? Don’t you trust me anymore, ducky?”
Mark groans again, covering his face. His childhood nickname has stuck around, and even though he loves it, Minho has a bad habit of calling him that in front of everyone… everyone, including people at school.
“Dad! It’s… fine, I’ll tell you…” Mark hesitates before continuing. “It’s… a girl. Paloma, in one of my classes. She’s.. ignoring me.”
“Do you like her? Oh my God, you like her!” Minho exclaims in delight.
“Sorry, ducky. I’m just so excited for you! I remember my first crush…”
“You mean, your first crush that turned out to be my mother?”
“Oh, uh, well yeah.” Minho stops smiling, but then resumes his excited babble. “She was beautiful, and I was so excited, and everything was great!”
“…until it wasn’t, and you had me,” Mark says in a low voice.
“Don’t say that! You are the best thing that could result from that first love, ducky.” Minho looks at Mark and sees his son looking down again. He hugs him, squeezing him tight.
“Listen, son, you don’t have to tell me everything. I won’t be able to understand it all, I’m sure, but I can sure be here to give you advice if you need it,” Minho murmurs.
“Thanks, Daddy. I’ll think about it.”
Minho pulls away. “Now, tell me what she’s like! Is she pretty? Smart? Popular? Tell me everything! Paloma, that’s a pretty name. Doesn’t the host of that show Kyungri’s on have a daughter with a name like that? It’s not one you hear all the time…”
“Well Dad, about that…”
Oh my, I think I’ll let them have their father-son time in peace. I mean, everyone should have some moments off-camera, right?
Downstairs, my own children are sitting in the kitchen, talking about their day at school. The three of them are popular, as would be expected of the children of a famous superstar like myself. I can see, though, that there’s some discontent brewing.
“So Takeru, what’s going on with you?” Keumjo asks. “Not one to share a lot, are you? I mean, you’re always mentioning all your friends everywhere but we’ve never hung out all together!”
Hyemin, my younger daughter, rolls her eyes. “JoJo, that’s such a stupid question to ask. You never bring friends home either!”
“Minnie, I don’t remember inviting your opinion,” Keumjo sneers. “You’re allowed to stay here only if you’re nice, remember?”
“Oh come on, JoJo, calm down with all the questions and snark,” Takeru snaps. He’s not happy Keumjo is asking him about his friends, and less happy that she’s being rude to Hyemin. Takeru and Hyemin are very close and have always defended each other.
“Quit defending her! You’re both always acting weird, I’m sick of it!” Keumjo looks away, annoyed that Takeru is taking Hyemin’s side again. Sure, she kind of attacked him with her question before, but in her mind she’s just being sisterly.
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘weird’, unnie, but you’re always being rude and it sucks,” Hyemin says.
“And you’re the weird one, with your obsessive questions about who we’re friends with and what we’re doing,” Takeru adds. “Besides, my friends are your friends anyway, what’s the big deal?”
“OK, I get it! Team up against me, that’s fine,” Keumjo snaps.
“Unnie, no one is teaming up against you,” Hyemin responds. “You’re just being uber defensive.”
Hyemin is my younger daughter. Born not too long after Keumjo, she has always been in Keumjo’s shadow. However, she’s sweet and generous and doesn’t mind constantly being out of the spotlight. I think she’s the most sensitive of my children, and I’m unsure of how to be a good mother to her sometimes. Right now, for example, I think she might be getting a little too close to Takeru, and that’s just… not right. And that’s on me. She doesn’t know he’s her own brother…
“Anyway, guys, I’m heading to bed. I have a big test tomorrow,” Hyemin says, hugging Takeru for a little too long while Keumjo smirks at them.
“Good night, lil’ sis!” Takeru says while hugging her.
“Ewww, you guys are so gross. Stop it,” Keumjo groans.
“Whatever, Keummy,” Hyemin teases as she walks out of the kitchen. “Good night!”
“You could be a little nicer to her, you know,” Takeru grumbles. “And to me.”
“Whatever, lighten up,” Keumjo says dismissively. “You know I’m only trying to look out for you. There are some shady people at our school and you haven’t always had the best judgment.”
Takeru pauses. “You’re always talking about shady people, are you just paranoid or is there something going on with you?” he asks, puzzled.
“Ugh, no! I’m telling you, I’m just being sisterly! If you want me to stop, I will.”
“I don’t mind you being ‘sisterly’, but sometimes you’re too much. I’m fine, my friends are good people, nothing is wrong. Stop worrying!”
“Whatever. I’m going to take a shower,” Keumjo snaps as she gets up and walks out.
Takeru sits for a while, then gets up to get his backpack.
“So Kyungri,” my mother says, “what are these plans you were so excited about tonight?”
“I think it’s better to talk about them as a family, you know,” I reply.
“Ah, but it’s nice to know about these things beforehand,” she says thoughtfully. “I am your mother, you know.”
“Umuni, I know. I just want to make you proud with my decisions, though. So maybe I should write out a detailed plan before I discuss with you and everyone.”
My mother doesn’t look to happy with this.
“Kyungri, you’re my proudest accomplishment. You are more than just a daughter to me, you are my life and I will always be proud of you, no matter what.” She stops and thinks. “Nothing you have done has brought me shame.”
We both stop speaking and think about what she’s implying.
I break the silence. “Let’s not talk about those days, that’s way behind us.”
“There’s no shame in anything you have done so far. Look how far it’s gotten us!”
“And I did it all for you! And for Minho. We’re a family.”
She smiles. “And that’s what’s important.”
I feel insecure. “Omma, do you think I’ll ever be able to get past the shame of… what I used to do?”
“Kyungri, I already told you, there’s no shame in that. Why are you so worried about it now?” She sighs and closes her eyes. “Are you concerned with your growing popularity that it will come out?”
She knows exactly what I’m feeling. “I don’t think it could come out easily, but honestly I’ve done so much to move on from that and now that we’re on the cusp of all the success we’ve ever wanted, I suppose I’m just afraid that it could all come out and ruin it all.”
“Don’t worry about that,” she says. “And don’t feel insecure about what you want to do, either. You are a proud woman, but people have fallen in love with you because you’ve shown that you have more in you than just fillers. You’re beloved!”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” I chuckle. But could she be right? Maybe it’s more than me just being afraid of my past catching up to me, perhaps I could be a little insecure, as she said. But no, I can’t let any of this show, it’s not becoming of someone of my stature.
Upstairs, Hyemin is getting ready for bed when Keumjo walks into their room. She looks upset, and Hyemin can tell right away.
Keumjo is my first daughter. She’s the most like me out of everyone in my family, so naturally I am terrified that she will grow up to be just like me. I hope that she can see that she will never need to do any of the things I did to provide for my family, but sometimes I’m not sure. She’s headstrong but also deeply insecure, and her fights with her siblings—one of whom she doesn’t know is her brother—drain her. I never had sisters so it’s not easy for me to understand her insecurity, but I can tell she envies Hyemin for being naturally lovable. And yet, Keumjo seems to revel in being the queen bee at her school. I would say I’m proud but that would be the wrong thing to say, right?
Hyemin tries to cheer up her sister. “Listen, sis, I didn’t really mean to be snappy with you before. I, like, don’t want you to be upset.”
“I’m not upset about that, Minnie,” Keumjo says unhappily. “I’m just worried about Takkie getting involved with weird people at school.”
“Are you sure about that? I mean, the people he hangs out with are your friends, too!”
“Yeah, and that’s why I know they’re shady! I never invite them over here or tell them about our family, they’re snakes.”
“So why call them your friends?”
“Oh, you know, the social ladder and everything. Gotta keep up appearances.”
Hyemin giggles. “That’s stupid, unnie.”
“Shut up! You’re stupid!” Keumjo laughs.
“So anyway, what is up with you and Takkie? You’re all over each other all the time!” Keumjo asks her sister.
Hyemin blushes. “There’s nothing going on with us! He’s like our brother, there could never be anything between us.”
“Sure, sis. I mean, I see the way you look at each other… but anyway, whatever. You do you.” Keumjo laughs and pats her sister on the back, and they sit back, the tension between them disappearing.
I think I need to do something about this. I… think that it’s time they learned the truth, before things get too complicated. I need to talk to Dr. Kim.
Downstairs, Takeru is searching in his backpack for something. When he finds it, he pulls it out, and it’s… a wad of money? What’s going on here?
Even though he doesn’t know it yet, Takeru is my son. My eldest child. Dr. Kim and I were both young, I still had my old face when I met him and we had a steamy night that resulted in Takeru. We decided not to ever tell him the truth about who I am to him even though he’s always lived with us and I raised him as a mother would. It’s just… easier that way. But I can see that Takeru has issues. On top of possibly being attracted to his sister, which is something I must stop immediately, it seems like he is getting involved with unsavory characters. Where did he get that money? And what did he do to get it?
My mother goes to her suite to read a book. She’s content, happy to spend some time alone reading a favorite novel. It seems like she doesn’t have many moments like this, but recently she’s been enjoying the freedom that comes with her children being all grown up and her grandchildren getting to that point.
My mother, Hyojin, is a powerful woman. She grew up in poverty in South Korea, neglected by her parents and her extended family. She has told me many stories about how she escaped a vindictive creditor and ex-lover after I was born in order to give me a better life in the United States. I assume this vengeful person is my father but I have never cared enough to confirm this, and my mother doesn’t seem to regret leaving her old life behind. She’s been through everything, from sneaking us both into the country on a fishing boat to living in a basement for years, trying to raise us successfully. As we grew up and could start working to earn money, I made sure she never wanted for anything. She deserves the best in this world, and I work hard to ensure that she never has to work another day in her life. This sometimes meant that I had to take jobs that could have brought our family into disrepute, but I know she appreciates my current success even more because I worked hard to rise above all of that.
It’s the end of this long day, and I finally make my way up to my bedroom. I had a full meal and I’m feeling satisfied, even though I didn’t share my plans with everyone. Dr. Kim is waiting for me when I sit down on my bed, and he gives me a long and appreciative look. I know he’s admiring his flawless work.
I remember his concerned expression from earlier. “Dr. Kim, is everything all right? I noticed you looked worried this evening.”
He sighs, taking one of my hands in his. “Kyungri, my darling, there’s nothing wrong.”
“Are you sure? Because…”
“Well, perhaps we should talk about our children. And our relationship to each other.”
That was direct.
“But before any of that, I want to hear all about your plans,” he says while gesturing for me to turn around for a back massage. This man, he knows exactly how to read me and please me accordingly.
I feel his hands on my shoulders and I moan in pleasure. “Oh, Dr. Kim… your hands are the most wonderful thing in the world.”
“And they know you very well, Kyungri. Now, tell me all about it.”
I turn around suddenly, tickling him.
“Someone’s being very curious tonight, hmm?” I tease. “How badly do you want to know?”
“Darling Kyungri, you know everything about you is interesting to me. I want to know very badly.”
“Well Dr. Kim, get ready because my plans for the future include you as a main player. Are you ready to sculpt me into… a singer?”
“A singer! Kyungri, that’s wonderful news. We must discuss what we’re going to make you look like.”
“Yes, Dr. Kim. My body is your canvas and you will perfect your masterpiece even more.”
I turn back around and he resumes his massage.
“Kyungri, you’re very dear to me. Perhaps it’s time we also mold our relationship into something more?” he says in a low voice.
I sink deep into the feeling of his soft touch. I feel blissed in his hands, just as I always have. “Oh, Dr. Kim…”
So you see, there’s always more to be seen underneath all of the glamour and fillers. A complicated heart beats inside all of us, myself included. We decide to show a face to the world that can hide pain, thrill, shame, success, hardship, and love. To be as fascinating as the world wants us to be, everything can be hidden under a shiny layer of plastic. But who says this plastic has to be bad? There are always loving hands that can mold us into the person we want to be, even if those hands are sometimes our own.
Editor’s note: This is Kyungri’s Top 4 pilot episode pitch. Make sure to tune into Episode 12 of K&GI, Season 2, to see how the judges react to Kyungri’s show!