Gourmet: Episode 17
This is the episode from last week, which only aired one episode due to programming cancellations (Olympics-related). I’d wondered what they would do to even out the episodes from 17 through the end, but it turns out the answer was simple: This week also only aired one episode, no. 18. I assume that the regular two-eps-per-week scheduling resumes next week. (So now I am not [very much] behind! Yay.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Yozoh – “숨바꼭질” (Hide and seek) [ Download ]
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Sung-chan races to confront Jin-soo about her Oonamjeong exposé, but misses her as she takes off to meet with Joo-hee. Jin-soo takes responsibility for the story being leaked, obviously feeling horrible and apologizing for allowing someone to access her computer files even if it was done without her knowledge. Joo-hee asks for her to confirm the part about Bong-joo’s involvement in Sung-chan’s departure, and Jin-soo says that was all true.
Hearing that Sung-chan had been looking for her, Jin-soo runs around trying to find him, finally locating him sitting alone by a bridge. His reception is chilly. He accuses her of using him — acting like a friend, traveling with him — all to get a story. Jin-soo asks, holding back tears, “Did you never consider the possibility that you might have misunderstood?”
He bites out, “Why would I do that?” Hurt, Jin-soo asks, “Is that all you thought of me?” He retorts, “And what are we to each other? We were wrong about one another, so let’s stop meeting. This is where we end.”
Sung-chan then meets Bong-joo, but the latter is unwilling to listen to anything he has to say. Although Sung-chan comes with a conciliatory attitude, Bong-joo’s even haughtier than ever, sneering at Sung-chan and essentially telling him to get lost because he’s not worthy of Oonamjeong. Finally, he pushes Sung-chan far enough, causing Sung-chan to push back. He tells Bong-joo he won’t just let him walk over him anymore, and that he’s going to reveal the truth and take over Oonamjeong.
Joo-hee tries to prep Sung-chan with a statement written by Chef Oh, which is what he’d like Sung-chan to say at the upcoming press conference. However, when he shows up, Sung-chan addresses the reporters and speaks his own mind, ignoring the written statement. He reveals that he is the successor, and that the article was correct about most of its facts. However, it failed to mention that he left the position willingly — rather than being forced out — and that Bong-joo is the rightful successor. He wishes to continue his life as it is, and doesn’t intend to return to Oonamjeong. He also absolves anyone of the cheating issue, saying that was a mistake in the story.
Sung-chan leaves after making his terse statement, leaving the elders and Joo-hee impressed with Sung-chan’s handling of the matter. Chef Oh chuckles that he didn’t know Sung-chan would treat Oonamjeong with such respect in this circumstance, and sighs that he’d really wanted to bring him back to the restaurant this time.
Jin-soo arrives at the sullungtang restaurant where she and Sung-chan had agreed to meet prior to their fight. Still hoping he might show up, Jin-soo waits until it becomes clear Sung-chan isn’t going to meet her. She orders lunch and eats alone while brushing away tears.
Across the street, Sung-chan sits in his car watching her through the window, eventually driving off without making any attempt to meet her.
Meanwhile, Oonamjeong is on the road to recovery following that press conference, which has done much to improve their image. During the height of the scandal, they’d been painted as the villains and were fast losing clientele and their reputation, but that stabilizes. Daehan Group CEO Jang even returns, but as before, he’s not here to be a nice guy. Because of his powerful position, he can afford to make the Oonamjeong directors jump to do his bidding, and as they are beholden to his whims, they dutifully go along. He’s like a jerkwad of a parent withholding love to manipulate his children.
This time, he speaks of another international challenge being held that has selected the theme of “the happiness of waiting.” With such a vague, difficult motif, the challenge tests the chefs’ creativity, and Jang dangles the carrot of returning his investments to Oonamjeong if they win. Bong-joo tells chefs Min-woo and Jong-gu to start working out possible solutions to the theme.
Joo-hee, on the other hand, feels they’re catering too much to Jang’s will, but Bong-joo answers that this is what business is. For once, she challenges his position, albeit very politely, mentioning that he may need to reconsider his way of thinking. Obviously Bong-joo doesn’t take being challenged well, and demands, “Can’t you just follow me, cavewoman?” (Er, maybe not that last word, perhaps.)
Joo-hee answers, “I’ve done that till now. I’ve done my best, but…” Bong-joo guesses that she’s found out about his part in Min-woo’s cheating scheme, and now that the issue’s out in the open, Joo-hee asks why he had to go that far. Bong-joo’s inferiority complex rears its ugly head: “I see you won’t be pleased till everything of mine is Sung-chan’s.” He tells her, “I know you’re not really on my side. I’ve known, and pretended not to. That’s too hard on both you and me.”
She can only stammer, hurt, “How… h-how can you…” but before she bursts into tears, she quickly exits.
Sung-chan resumes his wandering lifestyle, eating and sleeping in his truck and driving around. He heads south to visit Seok-dong, now a fisherman (of abalone), who is exceedingly glad to reconnect with Sung-chan.
Seok-dong fishes for fresh abalone, staying underwater for so long that Sung-chan starts to worry. Thinking Seok-dong’s run into trouble, he jumps in after him — just as Seok-dong surfaces — and completes a magnificent belly flop. (OW.)
(Not a particularly important scene, perhaps, but how could I resist these screencaps?)
Afterward, they wash off, Sung-chan bathing Seok-dong (heh) and exchanging greetings with Grandma, who for some reason does not speak (she communicates entirely with gestures and body language).
That night, they lounge around under the mosquito net reminiscing about the past, with Seok-dong recalling when he first started to like Sung-chan (as a friend! or so they say). Back in Oonamjeong’s kitchens, Seok-dong got into trouble a lot — he’d wash and clean all day, not eating any of the wonderful food the kitchen produced and wanting to steal a taste. Sung-chan (then a sous chef) prepared a spread just for him and invited Seok-dong to eat. From that moment on, Seok-dong had thought inwardly that they’d be sworn brothers and decided to become a chef, too. (Aw, bromance.)
Sung-chan answers that Seok-dong should resume his dream, then, and go back to Oonamjeong where he can learn to cook properly. But Seok-dong admits he has something more important to do first — find his mother, who’d left the family when he was 7.
He alludes to getting his army enlistment papers, and explains that he’d always wanted to find her before doing his military service. Even though he’d felt some hate toward her for leaving, he’d still harbored the hope that he would be able to say, like other young men do with their mothers, “Mother, I’m off to serve in the army” and to have her respond, “Seok-dong, be careful and come back safely.” Such a mundane scenario that means so much.
The next day, Sung-chan looks around for Seok-dong but finds him gone. A worried Grandma gestures to a bunch of opened boxes that had been sent in the mail, and Sung-chan guesses correctly that Seok-dong has gone off to find his mother. Sung-chan assures Grandma that he’ll find Seok-dong and sets off to catch a ferry — barely missing Joo-hee, who’s just arrived.
Once again, Bong-joo represents a clear example of falling short not because of his circumstances, but because of the way he reacts to them.
In this early scene where they meet prior to the press conference, Bong-joo has the chance to smooth things over. Sung-chan was certainly prepared to come to some sort of a truce, apologetic for his part in the article mess. But Bong-joo has made up his mind that Sung-chan is acting selfishly, and challenges Sung-chan: “If you’d taken over Oonamjeong as Father wanted, do you even think you could have handled it?” Clearly he thinks Sung-chan doesn’t deserve it, and Sung-chan bristles at Bong-joo’s oppressive win-at-all-costs attitude. He surmises, “You don’t want to lose a single thing, you want complete dominance, so you want me to get lost, is that it?”
Coolly, Bong-joo tells him he’s right, so Sung-chan replies, “I won’t do just as you want anymore. I can’t — I’ll do as Dad wants, and announce that I’m the successor, that I’ll take over Oonamjeong. And I’m going to reveal exactly what you did to me.”
Had he been the least bit gracious, this whole family rift could have been averted, because goodness knows Sung-chan has been more than generous, putting aside his personal pride for the sake of their father and Oonamjeong’s legacy. But Bong-joo cannot get past his chafed pride, and now it’s like his anger is clouding his vision. He pushed and pushed until Sung-chan finally had enough, which is too bad, because things would probably work out much better for everyone — himself included — if he’d learned to be more forgiving and open-minded.
I’ve been kind of ambivalent about Kim So-yeon in the past, and I still can’t say I’m a fan of the Joo-hee character. But what I do like about her acting here is how she shows emotion within Joo-hee’s restraint. A lot of times people look like they’re trying so hard to cry that they seem pleased to muster tears, which reads strangely onscreen (like they’re weirdly ecstatic about their misery — which would be a different thing altogether).
Joo-hee’s been too much of a milquetoast thus far, which does not endear her to me, but I like that she actually fights her tears in the scene with Bong-joo, because that’s what people in real life do — we try to maintain control and NOT cry, rather than revel in it. I hope her (very mild) challenging of Bong-joo’s methods shows a step toward her character developing a spine. The only reason I haven’t been that annoyed with Bong-joo’s dismissive treatment of Joo-hee is because she is so permissive of it. She’s a smart, shrewd, professional woman, so I want to see her have a little confidence in her own life.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
This episode was light on the food motifs, but we’ll probably be seeing more cooking in following episodes with the “happiness of waiting” challenge. Whatever that turns out to be.
For this episode, the one food-related thing that stuck out at me was the way Sung-chan springs back emotionally from his conflicts with his brother and with Oonamjeong. It looks like he’s back to his happy-go-lucky self, but by now we ought to know him better and can see that as more of a coping mechanism. At the end of the day, he’s still left to eat alone in his truck, and no matter how cheerfully he sings while cooking, it’s a really sad sight. Contrasted with the previous episode where he cooked out of his truck with Jin-soo, now he’s solo and the tenor of the scene is completely different.
Jin-soo’s back to eating alone, too, as she cries over her bowl of sullungtang (beef bone broth with noodles). Furthermore, while it’s one thing to be eating alone, it’s another thing entirely to be stood up (even if the guy IS watching across the street). As we saw with Jin-soo’s taste-deprived mother, cooking is an act of communication, and the breakdown of communication means a breakdown of the food-sharing love as well.
We get another illustration in the flashback to the moment Seok-dong fell in man-love with Sung-chan — Sung-chan had prepared a meal featuring all the dishes Seok-dong had seen but not tasted, thereby winning him his devotion forever. It was partially a practical measure (an aspiring chef should be familiar with the restaurant’s food), but naturally bespeaks a much more fundamental gesture of welcome and friendliness.