Episode 19: What It Is To Live As a Man
Dal Ja recaps her past relationships as she jumps (literally) over their “hurdles,” represented literally on a racetrack. There was the Sae Do the womanizer, Eom Ki Joong the married man, Tae Bong the younger man, and their parents’ disapproval…
But running toward Tae Bong (to the lovely strains of the theme song from Chariots of Fire, the melodrama of which contrasts nicely with the super-short, knee-high kiddie hurdles — ha!), Dal Ja thought she’d finally arrived at happiness.
That’s when his past suddenly appeared.
Not knowing Tae Bong is in the hospital, Dal Ja meets with Su Jin, who makes her intentions clear. She wants Tae Bong back, and still loves him. She’s confident she can get him back, because she knows he can’t easily let go of someone from his past, like her. She goes on to say: “Has he ever said he loves you? I thought not. He’s not the type of guy who can say what he doesn’t feel.” (That may be true, but Su Jin knows he has never said those words to anyone, not just Dal Ja. Of course, she fails to add that little detail.)
Dal Ja wonders to Seon Joo (who’s eating up a storm) what she should do about it. Should she tell Tae Bong that Su Jin came to see her? Should she argue with him? Just then, she gets a phone call from Tae Bong, and rips right into giving him a piece of her mind:
“Hey, Kang Tae Bong. Good timing. Do you know who I met today? Your ex-girlfriend, Jang Su Jin. She still has feelings for you.”
(Seon Joo: “Are you satisfied just saying that?”)
So Dal Ja continues, stronger: “You! What’s wrong with your actions that someone like that has to come see me? Why the heck do I have to put up with hearing that from her?”
(Seon Joo: “You’re beating around the bush, like always.”)
Getting more worked up: “I really hate people like her. So you’d better make sure she doesn’t come looking for me again. If this happens again, I’m done with you. We’ll be finished. The end. Over!”
And the person on the other end of the line finally has a chance to speak: it’s the hospital, calling for Tae Bong’s guardian.
Dal Ja rushes into the hospital looking for Tae Bong. Seon Joo points him out — he’s covered in bandages, bloodied, unconscious. The doctor says things don’t look very good, and she’d better prepare herself for the worst. Dal Ja begs Tae Bong to wake up, crying and afraid.
And… and a nearby bed, the real Tae Bong sits up, recognizing Dal Ja’s voice. He wonders why Dal Ja’s crying over the other guy. Seon Joo realizes it was her mistake; the guy had a similar jawline to Tae Bong, so she assumed it was him. Oops.
At home, Tae Bong jokes about how it was funny that Dal Ja could mistake someone else for him. Dal Ja asks if he’s really okay, and he assures her he’s completely fine. “You’re really fine?” “I’m really fine.”
After making sure the only parts of him injured are his head and arm, she kicks him hard in the shins. Hehe.
She demands, how could he say it was fun?! Doesn’t he know how scared she was? When she heard he was hurt, everything went black and she couldn’t see anything in front of her, she was so worried.
Dal Ja really seems to have been shaken up, and Tae Bong realizes she’s serious, and apologizes.
While he’s sleeping, Dal Ja thinks back to their fight from before, over Tae Bong going back to the law firm. Dal Ja tells the sleeping Tae Bong, “I love you. I really love you a lot. Do you know that?”
Her narration tells us: “I’m 33 years old. This is the first time I’ve said ‘I love you’ to a man. More than any other words I’d ever spoken in my life, these were the most precious and moving words I’d ever said. I love you, Kang Tae Bong.”
Dal Ja falls asleep, and Tae Bong opens his eyes as he watches her sleep. He doesn’t seem unhappy, necessarily, but more thoughtful than excited. It could be that he’s come to the realization that love is more than just a feeling. Someone may just have grown up a little bit.
Dal Ja returns the money envelope to Tae Bong’s mother, who thinks Dal Ja’s being foolish. Dal Ja says she’d like Tae Bong to go back to the law firm too, but it’s more important that he follow his heart.
Afterward, she extracts her entire savings from the bank.
Dal Ja’s mom comes to her apartment and runs into the injured Tae Bong. She says that Dal Ja never got to do the things she wanted to do, because of her mother always working in a small lunch shop.
“In the third grade, she begged so much for piano lessons for three days and nights, I spanked her so hard she couldn’t sit. Later, she learned it was because I had no money. From then on, she never asked me to buy her anything, or do anything for her, not once. If she got a hole in her sock so her heel stuck out, she never said anything, in case it would make her mother feel bad, in case her mother wouldn’t have money. That’s the kind of person Dal Ja is. Because of me, she can’t stand to see others struggling. How can I give someone like that to your care? Someone without a future or skills, how can I? Knowing that yourself, how can I consent to you? Isn’t that so? If you really treasure my daughter, then try and find a better occupation. But this isn’t it. I can’t consent to this. Do you understand?”
Dal Ja takes Tae Bong out to eat and gives him an enrollment slip for classes. She assures him she didn’t use his mother’s money — she gave that back. The money is from her savings; she was saving up a fund for her wedding. But he shouldn’t worry or feel burdened by it. She did it because she truly wanted to, and with a joyful heart. So he should accept it easily.
Tae Bong is shocked, and moved, and possibly even shamed by her gesture. Or he ought to be. Last episode, I was on his side more than Dal Ja’s, but in this episode, Dal Ja redeemed herself from her bout of selfishness. Because, as soon as she realized it was love, she acted on it and did something for him that he couldn’t ask of her, that he wouldn’t even think to ask of her. And then she tried to downplay it, saying it’s not that important, so he wouldn’t feel overly burdened. This is where I feel like Tae Bong is learning as much as Dal Ja is, which wasn’t the case when they first met.
Sae Do becomes angry and jealous upon seeing a strange older man hanging around Seon Joo, thinking she’s already moved on. When he sees the man enter Seon Joo’s apartment, he demands to know who the guy is, and tells him he’s deeply involved with Seon Joo. The guy turns out to be her father.
(A fairly predictable turn, but the actor playing Sae Do really sells it. I love how he gets really into the gags and physical comedy, but can pull it back to sell the emotional scenes as well.)
They sit down for a talk, and Sae Do nervously answers his questions about his age, background, etc.
Sae Do takes out Seon Joo and her father for dinner and wine, and is alarmed at the ridiculously high prices he’s forced to pay. Seon Joo’s father knows he’s putting him in a difficult position, but Sae Do wants to impress him, so he goes along. But it seems the father is trying to teach Sae Do a lesson about being a man.
Tae Bong has a drink with his father, who gives him some manly advice:
“When a man loves, responsibility follows. It’s good to run toward your goals ahead of you, but doing that can leave the woman behind, lonely. I’ve only ever run looking ahead, so I made your mother lonelier. You said you didn’t want to be like me. Then, think about what you can do for your woman. A man lives not just for himself, but taking care of others. That’s what it means to live as a man.”
So Tae Bong returns to the law firm. They then visit Dal Ja’s mother and grandmother, who are happy to hear the news. Then they go to Tae Bong’s family, who are equally thrilled that he went back. Tae Bong’s grandfather takes to Dal Ja immediately, because she knows how to talk to him and flatter him appropriately.
Tae Bong’s mother is threatened that Dal Ja is stealing her father’s affection, but his father tells her not to worry. He’ll treat her with enough affection to make up for the loss. They’re also going to start sharing rooms again, after a year of sleeping apart. Looks like he really has decided to try hard to make his wife happy.
Dal Ja’s happy, but worries that he only went back to his job because of her. She would have been okay with him pursuing his dreams. Tae Bong says that she shouldn’t feel burdened; he feels fine, going back to being a lawyer. He gives her the money back for his classes, telling her not to try to work out her problems alone in the future, since they’ll do them together from now.
At Dal Ja’s company, there are rampant rumors and confusions about a possible merger with another department or company, which would mean lots of jobs being lost. Kang Team Manager tries to keep everyone calm, but the news has spread and people are worried.
While at the law firm…
Su Jin: “It was no fun coming to work everyday without seeing your face. Now that you’re back, it’ll become fun again.”
Tae Bong: “I didn’t come back here for your amusement.”
Su Jin: “In the year I haven’t seen you, you’ve turned even more into a man. Your jawline’s become more perfect, and your gaze is deeper.”
Tae Bong: “Stop kidding around. Don’t waste your energies on that on my first day, and move aside.”
Su Jin: “Ah, you’re no fun. You don’t blush at that anymore.”
And Tae Bong finds out the mergers & acquisitions case he’s working on is for Handa Home Shopping…
Unaware of all this, Dal Ja clears out the spare room and orders new furniture to make Tae Bong a permanent fixture in her home…