Like Flowers in Sand is not your usual fare of K-drama with a high focus on grabbing eyeballs. It is a slow story, and to its merit, it is a good one. The development of the characters’ emotional journey is smooth and gradual, enough that at the end of the twelve episodes, you feel one with the story. Now that it has come to an end, the following is the summary of it.
What happened in Baek Du and Du Sik’s past?
Baek Du and Du Sik were best friends in their childhood but were forced apart when Du Sik moved to the city. Du Sik’s father was accused of the murder of Cheol Yong (Mi Ran’s father) due to a match-fixing situation gone wrong. Even though it was proved that he was innocent, he was unable to escape the rumors and gossip of the entire town, which is why he had to move out with his daughter. That is how Du Sik and Baek Du ended up getting separated. Baek Du had been a ssireum prodigy, but after Du Sik moved out, he lost his ambition bit by bit. When he grew up, he was one of the weaker players, and this downfall was baffling for everyone. Even Baek Du did not understand why he was unable to match up to people’s expectations and resigned to his fate, going so far as to quit the game because of his terrible performance. However, he still remembered Du Sik and kept waiting to meet her again one day.
Does Baek Du win the championship?
People who remember Baek Du’s game from his glory days say that he is the best ssireum player they ever saw. Yet, he has nothing to show for it in the present day. When he announces his decision to quit ssireum, people ask him to reconsider his decision only because they believe he cannot do anything else. Baek Du eventually rejoins the team because of Du Sik, who has come back to town as Yu Gyeong and is working undercover as the manager of the team. Baek Du wants to help Du Sik and be close to her, which he can only do if he is on the team. However, Du Sik’s coming back changes a lot of things for Baek Du. He had been in love with her for as long as he could remember, and Du Sik was one of the few people who not only understood Baek Du as a person but also understood his love and method for the game of ssireum. With her around, Baek Du started discovering some of his old zeal for the game and eventually remembered what made him a prodigy, to begin with, which was his attention to the minute details that give one an advantage over the stronger players. That turned the tide for Baek Du, and in the next game, he was one of the best on his team, though he didn’t win the championship. Towards the series finale, Baek Du is in renewed spirits regarding the game. He has already confessed his love for Du Sik and asked her to give him an answer on the day of the championship.
During the game, Baek Du is up against Lim Dong Seok, and this face-off has a point to prove. Lim Dong Seok had won against Baek Du at the beginning of the series, but he was meant to lose because of a fixed match. The referee had ruled against Baek Du even though many believed that he should have rightfully won, and that could have something to do with his unpopularity or the referee’s own dealings. Baek Du had eventually said that the referee’s judgment was part of the game, so he accepted Lim Dong Seok’s win, but this final game would be the true test of their abilities. Remembering Du Sik’s words about playing like he used to, Baek Du wins the game, though it is once again very close, and this time, there is no room for the referee’s bias, and he has to acknowledge Baek Du as the winner. Therefore, Baek Du is once again a champion.
How Does Du Sik catch the culprit?
Du Sik had been tailing Chil Seong for a long time, and when she came to know that the man had returned to Geosan, she became hopeful of uncovering the mystery that had initially driven out her father. That is why she came back to the village as an undercover cop, acting as a manager while her colleague pretended to be her unemployed husband. With time, Du Sik realized that Mi Ran was still present in the village, and she was the secretive cafe owner. They figure out that the man who killed Cheol Yong and Chil Seong is one and the same, and he is still living in the village. The proof against him is Chil Seong’s missing mobile phone, and the group ends up finding that through the local dog, Snowball, who was a witness to the murder. When released, she goes to the crime scene, where the mobile phone is still buried.
Meanwhile, Mi Ran reveals to the village that she is Cheol Yong’s daughter, and everyone is left in two minds with her confession. With time, people have evaluated how they treated her and Du Sik, and people regret their actions now. But Mi Ran’s confession was meant to draw out the real killer, and the plan was successful. He was the local owner of the rice cake shop, and his name was Lee. He had killed Cheol Yong when he had withdrawn from the match-fixing plan, and he had similarly killed Chil Seong when he refused to stand by him in his plans. He is prepared to kill Mi Ran, but she is saved in the nick of time by Du Sik and her colleague. Lee escapes, but Oh Jun’s name is cleared while the police continue looking for him.
During Like Flowers in Sand‘s ending, the police finally receive a tip about Lee’s whereabouts, and they are able to capture him. It is because of that mission that Du Sik misses Baek Du’s final game, but he doesn’t get angry when he sees that she is injured. Du Sik’s words and encouragement were with Baek Du, and he is more than happy with that. Du Sik confesses that she likes Baek Du just as much, and he finally has the happy time he had been longing for for years. As a child, Baek Du had only wanted to be with Du Sik and the rest of his friends, and all these years later, his wish had come true.
There is no doubt that Like Flowers in Sand was more about Baek Du and Du Sik than the mystery surrounding the town. It was mostly a slow series that would do better as a movie. However, the emotions were genuine, and overall, it was a rare, heartfelt story that was made better by not trying too hard.