Sorry for the (relative) lateness of the recap! I’ve had, shall we say, a busy week. :/
SONG OF THE DAY
Lim Jeong-hee – “사랑의 반대말” (The opposite of love) [ Download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Kang-hyun’s mother consults with Hyun-soo, recounting all the grievances she’s accumulated in the past 27 years. For instance, her husband has had money problems with a failed business and even took his daughter’s wedding fund. (She also laments the loss of her daughter’s law-student ex-boyfriend after five years of dating, but Hyun-soo doesn’t connect the dots that he knows any of the people in question. C’mon boy, I thought you were supposed to be sharp.)
Plus, Mom thinks she has stomach cancer! (Which is only funny because as far as we know, everybody has told her she doesn’t.) She admits the doctor told her she was fine, so Hyun-soo guesses doc may have diagnosed something else as well — stress, perhaps? She agrees that the doctors told her if it gets worse, check with a psychiatrist — but she doesn’t get the implication that it’s all in her head. LMAO.
Kang-hyun’s mom eyes Hyun-soo appreciatively for a moment, asking if he’s single, but when he says he’s been married once, she sighs that it’s a waste. He would have been a great match for her pretty, talented daughter (which is funny because this happens to be true, but it sounds like such a platitude).
Determined to prove himself, Kyung-hwan doggedly shows up to work despite Hye-sun telling him not to. He soon gets the chance with an upset woman waiting for a consultation, but (1) the lawyers are all busy, and (2) she speaks in a heavy Jeju Island dialect that these Seoulites can barely understand.
Kyung-hwan takes charge. He can speak Jeju dialect (his roommate was from Jeju island), and handles the consultation satisfactorily. The pleased client praises him effusively — but as the other lawyers can’t understand, Kyung-hwan takes great pleasure in translating to his firm’s lawyers: “That young man is an extremely smart lawyer.” Even Hye-sun is impressed.
Having regained his confidence, Kyung-hwan recounts the story proudly to Kang-hyun. She’s distracted — still waiting for Hyun-soo to finish work so they can talk — and he tells her he can’t watch her being hurt by Hyun-soo.
Kyung-hwan still wants to get back together: “The reason I broke up with you was because I didn’t have confidence.” She reminds him, “You said it was horrific.” He clarifies, “That’s because I was afraid my skills couldn’t meet your expectations. But not anymore. Now I’ve started to have confidence in my work.” He promises that he will become just as capable as Hyun-soo and prove himself.
As Kyung-hwan returns to his office, he spies Kang-hyun’s mother saying goodbye to Hyun-soo. Curiosity piqued, he asks around and finds out that Mom is initiating divorce proceedings.
As Kang-hyun waits for Hyun-soo, she hears from her client, who is upset with news about his ex-wife. She rushes off to meet him, brushing past Hyun-soo (who is finally making his way to meet her) and telling him she’ll talk to him later. Frazzled, she ignores Kyung-hwan when he tries to tell her about her mother — he even gets the words out (“Your mother came to our firm for a divorce”), but she shushes him and rushes off.
Kyung-hwan looks over at Hyun-soo and mutters (with a little sympathy, I think), “Man, you’re dead now.”
Kang-hyun’s client is worked up over the news that his ex-wife hasn’t come to work in days (because he keeps coming by to see her). Kang-hyun chides him for being too stalker-like, and he acknowledges his mistake. He agrees to give up if his last attempt is unsuccessful.
Kang-hyun’s mother sees the doctor referred to her by Hyun-soo and learns that she’s in the throes of menopause, which explains her mood swings and constant dissatisfaction. I’m starting to love Mom, who says without an inkling of vanity (she’s so earnest about it): “But I don’t feel my age. Inside, I’m still seventeen. When I look in to the mirror, I shock myself.”
At home, she continues to be listless and depressed. She tells Dad, “Let’s divorce,” but he’s in a good mood and doesn’t take her seriously.
Dad joins Kang-hyun that night in waiting with her client outside the ex-wife’s apartment. (Since she isn’t at home, they assume they can wait until she returns.) The stake-out lasts all night, and by morning the ex-wife still hasn’t come by. But when Kang-hyun nudges open the window and peers into the apartment, she sees the woman lying in bed, sick.
An ambulance is called, the sick woman looks to her ex for comfort, and Kang-hyun’s father says, “And they lived happily ever after.”
At work that morning, Kyung-hwan again attempts to inform Kang-hyun about her mother, but is interrupted when Kang-hyun gets a phone call from her father telling her essentially the same thing. Mom has moved out, leaving a note that says simply, “Let’s get a divorce. Don’t look for me.”
She races home and tries to track down her mother as Dad visits Mom’s relatives. While cleaning up, she finds a flyer for a convalescent medical center. One of Mom’s friends had told her that she’d wanted to retreat to a peaceful place, and this place fits the bill.
Finding her mother there, Kang-hyun tries to dissuade her, guessing that the lawyer probably told her she wasn’t a good candidate for divorce. But Mom contradicts her — he encouraged her to divorce, reminding her that life is short.
Kang-hyun doesn’t understand why her mother’s acting now after living with her father for so many years, and grumbles, “Which evil lawyer caused this?” She reads the name on the contract: Park Hyun-soo of the Love & Peace divorce firm.
Hyun-soo is genuinely shocked to hear that his client is her mother (and wouldn’t have taken the case if he’d known), but he can’t honor Kang-hyun’s request to cancel proceedings — he can’t do that unless his client requests it. Furthermore, he tells her that Mom has sufficient grounds, and there are things that Kang-hyun doesn’t know about the marriage.
Kang-hyun asks, “What am I to you? Aren’t we dating?” Then, bitterly, “Ah, but we were still a secret to others.” She concedes that she’d misunderstood about Hwa-young, “which is why I wanted to apologize to you.” But before she could do that, this latest development has thrown everything askew.
She asks pleadingly, “You won’t help my mother divorce, will you?” Yet while Hyun-soo feels bad, he points out that even if he wasn’t her mother’s attorney, she would have still filed for divorce with someone else.
Not a satisfying answer. Kang-hyun: “Then we’re at war now.” If it’s his job to see the divorce through, it’s hers as a daughter to prevent it. In a resigned tone, she decides: “Until this is settled, let’s stop seeing each other.”
Kyung-hwan feels satisfaction in the fact that he understands Kang-hyun better than Hyun-soo, and he reacts with a measure of glee, but I think he is actually trying to help Hyun-soo when he offers advice. He’d read the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, but came to the conclusion that circumstances with Kang-hyun are more difficult from the norm because she’s not from Venus — she’s from Pluto (i.e., its status is unstable because it was recently reclassified as a non-planet).
But not to worry, Kyung-hwan assures him, Hyun-soo seems like he’s from Neptune anyway. Hyun-soo: “Are you saying I’m the coldest and farthest planet in the solar system?” Kyung-hwan: “Yes.”
Kyung-hwan describes Kang-hyun as the type to get wrapped up in her imagination once a misunderstanding takes hold: “Right now she’s probably left this solar system and is on her way to Andromeda.”
(At work, Kang-hyun mopes and imagines Hyun-soo as the sleazy divorce pusher in an online ad. Lol. Finally we see another side to Hyun-soo, even if it is imaginary.)
Meanwhile, Hyun-soo mulls over his relationship problems, pulling out his math textbook to work some nice, solvable equations. But wouldn’tcha know, there are just some life problems that no amount of trigonometry will solve. (Go figure!) So he tries the next-best thing: the airport.
But as luck would have it, Hwa-young happens to also be at the airport, seeing off her sisters, just in time to meet Hyun-soo “coincidentally.” What are the chances? (In a kdrama: 99%. The other 1%: when the two characters actually want to meet.)
Hwa-young thanks Hyun-soo for his help during the funeral. She admits that at the time, she’d thought, “Now he’s all I have” (poor dad, he doesn’t count?) and even thought that with her mother gone, she could start over with Hyun-soo without guilt. But when she realized he’d been seeing Kang-hyun, she felt stupid for harboring those thoughts.
Hyun-soo apologizes. Hwa-young explains that she had felt angry, but now she’s feeling blank. She wants to live differently, become a different person.
Kang-hyun visits her mother and tries to reason with her. She understands her dissatisfaction, but reasons that her level of discontent isn’t actually that unusual.
Her mother says this is 27 years of pent-up anger and frustration exploding, and brings up the lost wedding fund, which pricks at Kang-hyun’s guilt. She can’t let her father take the blame, so Kang-hyun confesses. Only to be tossed out (literally!) by her mother.
Kang-hyun’s friends declare that her life went wrong the day she met Hyun-soo; they must be ill-fated. Kang-hyun remembers their relationship forecast was positive, but Hee-soong points out that she could have used more specific data to base their reading.
So Kang-hyun texts Hyun-soo for his full birth information (date, time), and it turns out his actual birthday is the day before his registered date. This time, the reading is completely negative. When she runs into him in the hallway, Hyun-soo asks why she asked for the information. Dispiritedly, Kang-hyun hands over the forecast and walks off.
Later, Kang-hyun wonders if she’s been too sensitive over the whole Mom issue and decides to talk it over with Hyun-soo. But timing isn’t on her side, because as soon as she walks into the building, she sees Hyun-soo promising an elderly lady to do his best with her divorce. That reinforces her impression that he’s too willing to divorce people without thinking enough of their life afterward — what if the old lady ends up even unhappier?
This brings her back to her mother — will he take responsibility if she’s worse off afterward? Without seeing the crowd that’s gathered to eavesdrop, she tells him, “That’s why we shouldn’t see each other right now.”
Frustrated, he asks, “For how long?” He challenges her belief in the relationship forecast — how can she let a thing like that get her down? And then they turn to see that their conversation has been overheard.
(Kyung-hwan loves it. Normally, pettiness would be unbecoming in a man, but he hasn’t done anything to sabotage Hyun-soo — Hyun-soo’s doing a good enough job angering Kang-hyun on his own — so I don’t hold it against Kyung-hwan.)
Sung-ho chews out Kang-hyun for failing to re-enlist her client (who sent her a thank-you basket for helping him reunite with his ex-wife). Too upset over her fight with Hyun-soo to care, Kang-hyun responds to Sung-ho’s tirade by saying, “If you’re going to fire me, fire me. I can’t see straight right now.” A co-worker tells Sung-ho about her breakup with Hyun-soo, and she storms out.
Hyun-soo, likewise, is not happy.
Kang-hyun goes to her parents’ house, where her father has received the divorce paperwork. Kang-hyun reads through the document angrily, but her attention is at the mention of “complicated women issues” in the marriage — and Dad’s reaction is even more suspicious, because he grabs the paperwork hurriedly and makes an excuse.
So Kang-hyun confronts Hyun-soo, who confirms that her father had cheated on her mother. Kang-hyun can’t believe it, but Hyun-soo replies that it’s probably a good thing that she can’t remember, because it happened when she was young.
Kang-hyun talks to her father again and this time he confesses the truth, but explains that they were in a bad patch at the time, with Mom sleeping apart from him. He admits he was wrong, but Mom had since forgiven him and insists he’s only ever loved her mother.
Back to Hyun-soo. Kang-hyun says that the infidelity was forgiven years ago, but he reveals that the issue goes further and involves more incidents.
Back to Dad, who insists he was innocent for this one — it was only a misunderstanding. For business reasons, he and his associates went to a bar (where “hostesses” attend clientele), but Mom was suspicious anyway. He was so sorry over the trouble it caused that he gave up the business and now drives a taxi.
Back to Hyun-soo with the clarification. He points out that many women have a hard time trusting their spouses after infidelity: “I think you’ll have to be more understanding of your mother.”
Kang-hyun starts to break down into tears — she’s upset for not knowing any of this, and embarrassed that she has to hear about it from Hyun-soo. He attempts to comfort her, but as we can see above, he’s pretty awkward at it.
Outside, Kyung-hwan sees Kang-hyun running out of Hyun-soo’s office crying, and Hyun-soo following her.
Hyun-soo can’t find her out on the roof, because she’s crying in the stairwell, instead. Kyung-hwan finds her and encourages, “Go on, cry. Let it all out.”
He tells her that despite her reaction to the divorcing grandma, it turns out she really does have a good reason. Her husband was a playboy in his youth, and she put up with his numerous affairs all marriage long — until recently, he contracted an STD at his old age, and that was the last straw.
Therefore, Kyung-hwan says, “There are reasons for divorce, and Park Hyun-soo isn’t a lawyer who would just divorce anybody.”
Kang-hyun asks tearfully, “Then what about my mom? Am I supposed to let her just divorce?” Kyung-hwan thinks Mom’s sudden decision was triggered by hormones — perhaps the onset of menopause. After all, nothing has changed recently to account for her mother’s change of heart. It can be argued that this was a case of the straw breaking the camel’s back — only there was no straw. (I say, what of gravity?)
(The argument that a woman makes rash life decisions on the basis of hormones really chafes, though I’ll allow for a little leeway because they’ve gone out of their way to establish that this is true in this case, with the doctors’ diagnoses and all. It still annoys me, though. Come on, lady scriptwriter, don’t you think you’re doing a disservice to your sistas?)
Kang-hyun berates herself for being a bad (and inattentive) daughter, and Kyung-hwan assures her he’ll figure everything out.
Kyung-hwan talks to Kang-hyun’s mother, calling her “mother-in-law” and causing Mom to ask hopefully, “Have you made up with Kang-hyun?” After a brief pause, Kyung-hwan answers yes, which earns him relieved approval from Mom.
However, he suggests politely, “Please reconsider the issue with your husband.” Plus, his parents are sticklers and won’t allow him to marry a girl with divorced parents. Mom worries, because she made her decision and prepared for divorce. Kyung-hwan suggests that her mood shifts are hormone-related, recalling that his mother also went through a lot during menopause.
Maybe it’s his gentle tone, or his sympathetic ear (which is different from Kang-hyun’s “Oh, silly Mom” approach), but Mom is receptive to his theory, admitting that she changes her mind a dozen times every day. When she bemoans that her life as a woman is over, he tells her she’s merely graduated from all the tough stuff.
With that, Kang-hyun enters with a cake and party hats, and they congratulate her on her new freedom.
Kyung-hwan handles this matter really well — not so manipulative that you feel uncomfortable, but with enough diplomacy to merit respect. I am simultaneously uneasy that he lied about being back with Kang-hyun and admire his managing of the situation.
He’s so successful that Kang-hyun is a bit suspicious of his techniques, too, wondering what he told her mother. He answers that all he did was console her, then asks if she’s at her own “time of the month” (even counting mentally to confirm it. Kang-hyun mutters, “You know too much about me.”)
Kyung-hwan tells her that she and her mother are both sensitive to hormones, which makes them react more emotionally. He muses that he knows this after five years together, but Hyun-soo doesn’t, and must have been surprised at the intensity of her reactions. “As a fellow man, honestly, I feel sorry for him.” He tells her, “So stop giving him trouble, and come over to me.”
Kang-hyun retorts, “Why would I leave someone I like to go to you?” but he reminds her that they’re over, that she made that announcement in front of everyone.
Kang-hyun only meant a temporary breakup, not a permanent one, and looks up in alarm: “I didn’t mean that. We’re not really over…”
It’s interesting how they’ve spun around this portrayal of Kang-hyun’s parents. I remember in the beginning thinking her father was so lovable and understanding, while her mother was cold and nagging. On the outside, those two characterizations hold true, but even before hearing about Dad’s marital failings, I’ve been warming up to Kang-hyun’s mother.
I think we can feel a bit sorry for Hyun-soo, because to his logical mind, he’s doing the best he can with the circumstances and is honor-bound to respect his client. On the other hand, I also think as the daughter, Kang-hyun is allowed to feel a little betrayed, even if he hasn’t actually betrayed her. Kang-hyun also has more of a basis here for interference than with her friends — back then she admitted that she was motivated to keep her friends together because she couldn’t accept that the couple she’d brought together wasn’t going to last. But it’s got to be difficult seeing your parents divorce, particularly given that her profession is built on bringing couples together, as well as the fact that she’s been left in the dark on most of the underlying issues.
And no matter what you may make of his intentions, you have to admit that Kyung-hwan’s approach was well-done. Yes, he’s trying to get Kang-hyun back, but he also cares about her and wants to spare her pain. Even before Kyung-hwan comforted Kang-hyun on the stairs, I was cringing at Hyun-soo’s misguided efforts. To be fair, he’s new to this, but his problem stems from the fact that he isn’t very good at seeing things from her point of view. (No, she’s not very good at seeing his POV, either, but she usually comes around after the initial temper flare.) As a lawyer, you’d think that would be his forte, but I almost get the sense that Kang-hyun confuses him so much that he doesn’t know where to start (so he doesn’t).
Kyung-hwan definitely has the advantage because he’s known her for so much longer, but I want to see Hyun-soo step it up and actually TRY. To his credit, Hyun-soo did seem more upset than normal this time, and maybe this rough patch will jolt him into action.