Stlil cute, still funny, and still pleasantly watchable. Episode 2 continues the light-hearted fun of Episode 1, and I freely admit indulging in at least one extended giggle fit.
I think the chemistry works between the couple, and I find them well-matched. I hate watching an otherwise good romantic comedy only to find the pairing too credulous to buy into. These characters are still in the early stages of conflict, and the attraction hasn’t hit full-force, but Kim Min-hee and Kim Ji-hoon do a good job showing the potential of their pairing.
(Yes, Kim Min-hee’s hair is a little distracting, but I think it works for the character. Also, I’m sure it’s also a character thing — Kang-hyun is exuberant and lively — but I dig that an actress is embracing her natural frizzies rather than trying to look like every other actress around.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Pe2ny – “Celebration” [ Download ]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Hyun-soo broods in silence while thinking back to the events at the airport, when he was approached by men in dark suits. They are affiliated with his ne’er-do-well older brother, whom Hyun-soo has bailed out of trouble time and time again, even to the detriment of his own now-failed marriage. His brother has run adrift of some scam and now Hyun-soo is repaying his debt. A voicemail from the older brother shows that he’s sorry, but is spoken in a resigned voice that tells us this is not a new occurrence.
As a result, Hyun-soo’s older lawyer friend Hye-sun tries to convince him to come work for her boutique divorce firm, just for a year or so to pay the debt and leave with a clean slate. Hyun-soo thanks her for the offer, but still intends to leave as planned.
Kang-hyun is having a tough time finding a new job, as her recent mistake has rendered her virtually unhireable. Without a job, she can’t qualify for bank loans to pay back the 40-million-won settlement fee.
Her friend Hee-soong (the disapproving one) suggests she contact her ex Kyung-hwan, because he qualifies for loans at his school. Kang-hyun rejects this idea as debasing and refuses to call him, so her friends interfere. While Kang-hyun isn’t looking, they call Kyung-hwan on her phone, then hang up. Therefore, when he calls her back, her pride is soothed because she thinks he made the first move.
Kang-hyun greets him cheerfully when they meet, thinking he called to make amends. She brings up the loan she needs, and when he balks, she reminds him that if she adds up all the bills she footed in the years they were together, it comes out to about 40 million won.
When she realizes that he has no intention of reconciling, he offers to take out a loan for 20 million, which she can keep as “compensation” (similar to a divorce settlement). He felt bad knowing she’d bring up the money issue, and in giving her this money, at least he can even the balance somewhat.
Kang-hyun is insulted, and tells him to forget it. She doesn’t want his “dirty money” this way.
Hyun-soo makes another attempt to leave for Cuba, but at the last minute he hears an ominous voicemail from his brother, sadly apologizing for all the trouble he’s caused. Furthermore, he’s taken out life insurance that should enable Hyun-soo to “settle matters” with the payout, and ends with a tragic, “I’m sorry, really sorry.” Hyun-soo rushes off the plane and inquires into police reports, but is unsuccessful (missing persons claims require more time to have elapsed).
Kang-hyun mopes, while her friends urge her to get a new job. When her friend mentions divorce, Kang-hyun remembers a dating service for divorcees that had once tried to scout her. Even so, it takes some convincing the president of the small company, who points out that she, as a single woman, cannot identify with their divorcee clients. She answers that she’s “a little bit divorced,” and manages to score a job.
As luck would have it, her new job office shares a building with the law firm where Hyun-soo takes his new job. Before you groan at the contrivance that allows for this convenient proximity, it turns out it’s not a coincidence, as her boss (Chief Ryu) and Hyun-soo’s friend (Hye-sun) used to be married. (Chief Ryu still carries a torch for his ex-wife, and follows her around. She finds him annoying but seems to still care for him, which is why she hasn’t put the permanent kibosh to his lingering attachment.)
The two parties go out for lunch together, where Chief Ryu introduces Kang-hyun as a divorcee. Uneasily, she doesn’t correct his misunderstanding. She worries that Hyun-soo will reveal her recent debacle to her new boss and get her fired, being the evil, hateful, arrogant ruiner of happiness she’s built him up to be in her mind. She’s surprised when Hyun-soo tells her he has no such intention because it’s none of his business. (However, she’s so determined to preserve her image of him as a horrible person that she takes all his answers the wrong way, growling inwardly at his polite comments. It’s cute.)
When they share a taxi home, Kang-hyun is dropped off first and hears Hye-sun directing the cab to his hotel. Not knowing that he is merely living at the hotel (having sold off everything), she assumes they’re involved.
Hyun-soo is introduced at his new job with lots of excitement from the female employees; Kang-hyun is greeted by her new co-workers with far less enthusiasm. Both of them find their new jobs somewhat stifling, and find retreat in a rooftop garden area.
On one particular afternoon, Hyun-soo is relaxing in a chair on the roof when Kang-hyun trudges in view, needing to vent. She doesn’t see him, so he leaves to give her privacy.
With the 40 million won soon due, Kang-hyun is forced to call in a last resort. Her father gives her 20 million, although he reminds her not to let her mother find out. (Kang-hyun’s mother is a strict woman who is perpetually annoyed that her soft-hearted husband is too eager to help out friends with their problems.)
When Kang-hyun checks her account balance, she finds that Kyung-hwan has deposited the other 20 million won. Despite her initial protests, she’s in a tough spot and doesn’t have any other source of money, so she finally decides to take it.
Hyun-soo gets his first glimpse at Kang-hyun’s vulnerable side when relaxing in their (now-shared) chair on the roof. (He knows she’s been visiting the roof too, while she remains unaware of him.) He finds a crumpled paper that she has left behind, and unrolls it to see that it’s Kang-hyun’s resignation notice.
Chief Ryu takes the employees out to welcome Kang-hyun to the company, and happens to pick the same restaurant where the divorce lawyers are also having a company dinner. Again this seems like a convenient coincidence, but we learn that Chief Ryu has got following his ex-wife down to an art form. A bungling, confused art form, perhaps, but an art form nonetheless.
Both parties — and in particular Hyun-soo and Kang-hyun — notice the other, but don’t interact. Kang-hyun does observe how the female lawyers drool over Hyun-soo, serving him drinks and flirting with him.
When the lawyers’ table rises, the couples coaches’ table does too, following them to a bar. As the night wears on, Chief Ryu gets drunker and drunker, followed by the other employees, with the exception of Hyun-soo (he drinks a little), Kang-hyun (she doesn’t drink at all, because she can’t handle any), and Hye-sun (who’s busy scolding Chief Ryu for always over-drinking).
Amidst the chatter, Kang-hyun glances at Hyun-soo sitting with Hye-sun and figures they really must be dating. Hyun-soo likewise takes a look at the opposite table and notices how Kang-hyun sits dejectedly away from the others, looking miserable and teary-eyed.
A drunk boss means drunken rambling, and since he’s a matchmaker by trade, he drags Kang-hyun to sit by Hyun-soo and slurs that they should date.
They try to ignore each other, with Kang-hyun determined to maintain their awkward silence while Hyun-soo thinks of her crumpled resignation letter. The party goes on, people get trashed, and Chief Ryu drags Kang-hyun onstage for some karaoke. Hyun-soo watches her dancing goofily and smiles.
Kang-hyun gets a phone call from her father who asks if her money problem has been solved. He offers to meet her and give her a ride home, and Kang-hyun figures it’s time to leave the party. When she’s waylaid by a totally hammered Chief Ryu, she pretends to be drunk to get rid of him, and stumbles her way out of the bar.
Hilariously, Hyun-soo sees her make her drunken way outside, and rises in alarm, thinking her condition is dangerous. He rushes outside but can’t find her, because she’s in fact quite sober and is making her way quickly to meet her father.
Daddy greets his little girl happily, and ushers her into his cab. He guides her into the car while Kang-hyun playfully protests his help.
However — and this is where my giggle fit started — what Hyun-soo sees is a middle-aged man pushing an alcohol-weakened Kang-hyun into a cab. He tries to intervene, but the cab pulls away.
So Hyun-soo grabs another taxi and follows. Noticing that her cab isn’t headed toward her home, he wonders if she’s being kidnapped.
Of course, reality is much more mundane. Dad asks about Kyung-hwan, clearly liking Kang-hyun’s ex-boyfriend a lot. She asks leadingly if he would be okay if she ever broke up with him, and he tells her to perish the thought. Kyung-hwan’s a great catch, and she should treat him well. She doesn’t have the heart to tell him the truth about their break-up, and can’t refuse when Dad insists on dropping her off at Kyung-hwan’s place.
To her shock, Kyung-hwan rides by on a bicycle with another girl riding with him, although neither of them sees her. Feeling betrayed, she glares at his bicycle, taking out her anger on it instead.
Thus when Hyun-soo finds her, he sees Kang-hyun hunched on the ground, emitting heaving grunts. Assuming she’s drunk and sick, he hesitantly asks if she’s okay, admonishing her for drinking too much — and finds her sticking nails into Kyung-hwan’s tires. HA!
Hyun-soo explains his concerns, telling her why he had thought she was in trouble (he saw her stumbling outside, thought she was being sexually harassed, and couldn’t get through on her phone). Not at all impressed, Kang-hyun thinks he’s been watching too many movies again, and tells him to stop interfering (“You don’t like me, right? So why did you come all this way?”). Understanding that he mistook the situation, he apologizes stiffly, and they part ways.
Back in the bar, Chief Ryu moons over his ex-wife, reminiscing about their happier times. To lighten the mood, Hye-sun suggests a bet: to see which of their new employees will come running faster. He calls Kang-hyun, while she calls Hyun-soo, and both employees grab taxis to rush back.
Once at the bar, they realize it was all just a bet. Since Kang-hyun was slower to arrive and thus lost him the bet, her boss pours her a shot and insists she drink it. She refuses, saying she can’t drink, but he threatens to fire her (it’s obviously in jest, but she drinks the shot to appease him).
True to her word, Kang-hyun is immediately hit with the alcohol’s effects. She staggers out to the elevator, where Hyun-soo is fending off the romantic advances of his divorcee client from Episode 1.
Enjoying Hyun-soo’s discomfort, Kang-hyun starts laughing and calls him a womanizer. He asks for clarification, and she points out he was talking about hotel rooms with Hye-sun, and now here he is with this other woman. He starts to contradict her, but she waves him drunkenly aside, saying, “Forget it, I don’t need to hear your excuses.”
She gets inside the elevator, and slurs out one last word: “Playboy.”
That elicits a sudden, angered reaction in Hyun-soo, who joins her in the elevator and demands an explanation.
She grabs his lapels and shakes him angrily. “Two-faced! Rotten lawyer! Womanizer!”
There’s something about Kang-hyun’s accusation that Hyun-soo is a player that gets under his skin, which hints at issues in his past. The proof is in his reaction — the moment she calls him that, his mood turns from mildly dismissive to offended. She, on the other hand, is obviously transferring her feelings of betrayal from her ex onto him, and both are either too drunk or too caught up in the moment to treat this situation rationally or tactfully.
As for her parents, Kang-hyun’s father is too cute. I think Kang-hyun was in danger of pushing Kyung-hwan in the way her mother bulldozes over her father, but their breakup — which is for the better, in the long run (heck, even the short run) — breaks that cycle. She has some traits in common on the outside with her nagging mother, but I can’t help but think that’s a shield for her inner softie, which is much more like her father.
I was worried I’d dislike Kang-hyun from her early portrayal in Episode 1, but I can safely say that I find her adorable. Ditto that for her attempts to keep hating Hyun-soo, and to keep thinking of him as a mean, ill-mannered bastard when all evidence points to the contrary. She’s like a teenager determined to cling to her indignation because otherwise she has to admit she, like, totes has a crush on the hottie. Much easier to try to hate him, although that’s also a losing battle. (What’s to hate?)
I get the feeling that the theme of Love & Marriage could very well be: “Sometimes fighting is fighting, and sometimes fighting is foreplay. It’s up to you to decide which is which, and sucks to be you if you guess wrong!”