(Don’t worry, it’s a faux-swoon.)
This was an interesting episode in that the tone was different, and the pacing too — and we finally got to see Hyun-soo sweat a little. It may seem mean to cheer at that, but: YAY!
SONG OF THE DAY
EZ Hyoung – “유성” (shooting star) [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Kang-hyun wonders if another lawyer can take her mom’s case from Hyun-soo, but Kyung-hwan says they’re all busy with their own work. She bemoans fate for leading her mother to that divorce firm (Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…), so Kyung-hwan admits that Mom initially had come to talk to him.
Kang-hyun asks, “Then this is all because of you?” Kyung-hwan nods, answering with certainty: “It’s fate, meant to bring us back together.” Love is about timing, and hers was never right with Hyun-soo.
Kang-hyun vows to make their timing work, but when she calls him, he’s in a consultation and doesn’t see the call. Denied!
Hyun-soo doesn’t see his missed calls until he gets home and checks his phone. A text message from Kang-hyun reads, “I have something to tell you. Let’s meet and talk.” The message makes Hyun-soo uneasy, and is compounded when Kang-hyun’s mother calls to tells him of her intention to marry her daughter off with the ex-boyfriend (since the ex-boyfriend’s parents don’t want a daughter-in-law from a broken home, I’m guessing she means to marry the kids first so she can get a divorce with a clear conscience).
Now that Hyun-soo knows who the daughter is, this news does not meet with happy reception. He guesses that the reason Kang-hyun wants to see him is to tell him her wedding news.
That thought weighs heavily on Hyun-soo, making him inattentive when Hwa-young drops by. She isn’t there to pursue him and actually offers to help him, but her presence fuels rumors that she’s dating Hyun-soo again.
She notes, “In the three years we were married, I wasn’t able to cause any change in you, but Kang-hyun is pretty impressive for making you so human in such a short time.”
Kang-hyun hears the gossip that Hyun-soo is back with Hwa-young, initially indignant at his quick rebound. But she counsels herself to calm down: “It could just be another misunderstanding.”
Just then, as though fate is demonstrating their lousy timing firsthand, Hyun-soo and Hwa-young rush out of the office together (in response to a phone call). Hwa-young fixes his jacket in a wifely gesture as Kang-hyun watches, feeling the blow keenly.
The police call Hyun-soo to bail his brother out, who’s been arrested for engaging in illegal gambling.
While Hyun-soo is trying to discuss a solution with the officer, his brother brags about his little bro and heckles Hwa-young with his buddies, picking at her for being snooty and cold. Hwa-young remains silent and tries to ignore him, but Hyun-soo grows angry and guides Hwa-young out. He tells the officer to let his brother fend for himself with the legal ramifications.
Even Hwa-young, who has no great love for Hyun-soo’s brother, is surprised at Hyun-soo’s reaction and asks if he really intends to leave his brother in jail. Hyun-soo’s fed up and seems to mean it.
After her initial burst of anger, Kang-hyun descends into gloominess, going through her text messages and deleting the ones from Hyun-soo. (Text message deletion = the new symbolic post-breakup Felicity haircut?)
Likewise, Hyun-soo scrolls through his texts, but with a smile as he remembers past times with Kang-hyun. But when he sees the latest one, his smile fades. By now he’s had plenty of time to return the call, but I think he’s being avoidant because he’s afraid of what she’ll say (i.e., “If I can’t see it, it’s not real”).
For instance, when Kang-hyun seeks him out at his office, there’s a nicely done moment when he looks up in fear, nervously anticipating what’s going to happen. He maintains a professional demeanor, but he’s sporting teary eyes and facial stubble, which go a long way to conveying his inner pain. Aw.
A bit desperately, he suggests talking everything out from the start, but Kang-hyun has come prepared to say her piece, and she tells him no. This has nothing to do with her doubting Hyun-soo’s faithfulness, but is because reality is too big an obstacle for them. She lists the difficulties separating them (his friendly relationship with his ex-wife, his role as the lawyer divorcing her parents) and says, “If my parents divorce, we’re over too. This is as far as we go. I’ve gotten too tired. Let’s finish things now.”
To his credit, Hyun-soo looks suitably stricken by her decision, but like she said, it’s not a matter of misunderstanding. It may be unfair, but she’s honest about always associating him as the man who broke up her family, and that’s a dealbreaker I can understand even if it isn’t quite fair.
Knowing the trick to cheering her up, Kyung-hwan brings her cake. (Smart boy. Cake is never a bad idea.) He suggests that they pay a visit to her mother to check on how she’s doing.
Unfortunately for Kang-hyun, Mom’s still intent on proceeding with the divorce. She briefly hesitated when Kyung-hwan commented that his parents wouldn’t let him marry a girl with divorced parents, but she isn’t swayed from her goal. She tells the two to proceed with their marriage plans despite her divorce.
Mentioning their “wedding” in front of Kang-hyun means that Kyung-hwan must come clean and admit that he lied that they were back together. Mom gets annoyed at the lie, but Kyung-hwan insists he really does want to reunite with Kang-hyun. He’ll even take Mom’s side in the divorce, which restores Mom’s good graces.
(In a funny bit, Kyung-hwan says conspiratorially, “Actually, my older sister recently got divorced.” Encouraged, Mom asks, “Really? That’s great.”)
Kang-hyun tries to get her mother to reconsider, but Mom’s tired of defending her position and brings up something she’d never mentioned about her father: When Kang-hyun was born, he was so upset that she wasn’t a boy that he stayed out all night drinking.
The story’s true, but Dad defends himself — it wasn’t that he disliked her for being a girl, but grandma had put so much pressure on having a son. To prove it, Dad shows Kang-hyun her baby photos, and Kang-hyun takes particular note of her parents’ wedding photo.
Kang-hyun takes that photo to her mother as proof of happier days. Mom points out that her eyes in the photo are puffy from crying, and she didn’t even get to wear a white wedding dress (she was poor, which made Dad’s parents oppose the match).
Hyun-soo is having a rough time, miserable over his breakup and over his brother’s predicament. He hadn’t actually intended to leave his brother to rot in jail — ultimately he’s too much a softie for that — but wanted to scare his brother out of his complacency. (Brother had been bragging and taking for granted that Hyun-soo always comes through.)
But this case is tougher than usual, and Hyun-soo is forced to ask a favor from an old law-school rival who happens to be a world-class douchebag, who is now his brother’s prosecutor. The prosecutor has obvious jealousy issues, sneering at Hyun-soo for “marrying up” and calling him a “male Cinderella,” then tells Hyun-soo to beg on his knees. Completely contrary to the prosecutor’s expectation, Hyun-soo kneels.
His brother’s indictment is suspended and he’s freed, but it turns out Hyun-soo had additional help — Hwa-young asked her father to pull strings. Hyun-soo wonders why she would help his brother when there’s bad blood between them, and Hwa-young admits feeling sorry that she had never helped in the time they were married. Now that they’re divorced, she doesn’t harbor a grudge anymore.
(Also, Hwa-young finds out from her mother’s assistant that her mother had insisted that Hyun-soo leave her.)
Hyun-soo’s brother is now a free man, but not (adequately) appreciative of everything Hyun-soo had to do to get his brother out. Big Bro’s happy-go-lucky brashness covers a deep cynicism, and it isn’t that I think he doesn’t care about his brother — he probably just takes advantage of Hyun-soo, knowing he won’t ever forsake him. It’s interesting how Big Bro was the parent for their early lives, but now Hyun-soo is placed in the role of unconditionally loving parent.
In the morning, Big Bro is gone with only a note left behind saying he’ll be back soon.
In a bid to win over his wife, Kang-hyun’s father drops by to see Mom, dressed nicely and carrying a bouquet of roses. But he arrives just as Kyung-hwan is trying to suggest that Mom will miss Dad after the breakup. Mom tells him she’s done with her husband, and Dad’s spirits fall. He leaves behind the bouquet and leaves quietly.
When Mom turns, she’s thrilled to find the flowers — her favorite kind — although she doesn’t wonder where they came from.
It’s cute how Kang-hyun hears of Kyung-hwan’s failed meeting with her mother and falls into a dispirited swoon, as though she’s lost all her energy — and then bounces right back with vigor and glares at him furiously. Telling him how she can’t trust him, she grabs him in a headlock — which is when Hyun-soo walks by and sees the horseplay with a sad little grimace. He turns away silently.
Hyun-soo drives Hwa-young home after a dinner with her father, and something she says about their married days makes him think back to his colleague’s “male Cinderella” accusation. Hyun-soo tells Hwa-young that he thinks he married her with some hidden reasons — because while marriage should be based completely on love, he thinks that he’d been drawn to the idea of her (with her perfect background and qualities) more than herself. It hadn’t been a conscious choice, but her mother must have disliked him because she could sense that.
While Hwa-young thanks him for his honesty, it’s a little dispiriting to hear him admit that he didn’t know what love was back then; she knew he didn’t feel the same about her as she did for him, but she’d thought he at least liked her back. He answers, “I did. You were a princess who’d come to me from another world.”
It’s a bit sad, for both of them.
Time passes. It’s not clear how much time, but we see the sun rise and set multiple times in quick succession, indicating a lapse of days (weeks?).
Kang-hyun’s parent’s divorce is ready to be finalized, and it’s clear that the two haven’t been keeping in contact in the interim. Their feelings, however, are still as raw as ever, as evidenced by the awkwardness between them as they go over the details.
Hyun-soo brings one peculiar fact to her attention: on her parents’ divorce papers, their official marriage date is listed as being October 1981. She was born in February 1982. She (literally) does the math.
Hyun-soo’s brother drops by to pay back his debt, but Hyun-soo doesn’t want it (assuming it’s dirty money). The argument escalates, and when they step outside the office as Hwa-young arrives, Big Bro hardens. He warns Hyun-soo that if they get back together, he’ll cut off ties, and tells Hwa-young not to hang all over Hyun-soo.
Hwa-young turns and walks out, and Hyun-soo chases her outside, apologetic. She tells him she understands his brother’s anger, because she was pretty cold to him during the their marriage. Her family didn’t treat him well, either.
Hyun-soo then turns to his brother, losing his cool and telling him to get his act together: “I want to live my life too!” Big Bro lays on a passive-aggressive guilt trip, reminding him of how he gave up his youth to put Hyun-soo through school. He tells Hyun-soo, “Live your life then. I’m going to find my lost youth.”
Kang-hyun confronts her mother about her parents’ real wedding, and hears for the first time that Mom and Dad lived together before the wedding because of her grandparents’ opposition to the marriage. Seeing a lot of characteristics in Dad that frustrated her, Mom had decided not to marry him, but then found out she was pregnant. That’s why they had a tiny wedding in the countryside, and why Mom wore a hanbok to hide her pregnant belly. It may seem a small thing, but it had been a great wish of hers to wear a pretty white wedding dress, and she never got to. Tearing up, Mom tells Kang-hyun that she was never understanding of her, always liking her dad better.
On the bus ride home, Kang-hyun mulls everything over, thinking despondently: ” I thought I’d known everything about my family for 27 years, but I’d known nothing about my mother’s life…” Looking at the paragraph on the divorce paperwork: “That hidden inch is a woman’s life, my mother’s feelings.”
As the bus passes by a bridal shop, Kang-hyun remembers her mother’s dress lament. On an impulse, she walks in the shop to take a look. (Kyung-hwan, who’d accompanied her, follows.)
She has no intention of trying on dresses, but the saleswoman encourages her to try it on anyway — and when she sees how great Kang-hyun looks in the dress, she asks her for a huge favor. The model they’d hired to pose for a photo shoot dropped out at the last minute, so would Kang-hyun fill in?
Thus Kang-hyun and Kyung-hwan fill in as models (in separate shoots).
The pictures come out great, and even her friends marvel at what a great couple they make.
The pictures spark an idea for Kang-hyun, and she enlists Kyung-hwan to aid her in her plan: “Let’s go prepare a wedding.”
(As the details aren’t given, I’m going to assume it’s not their wedding they are planning, although that’s supposed to be the impression we get. It’s also the impression that Hyun-soo gets when he finds the Polaroid photos of Kang-hyun and Kyung-hwan in their wedding gear, which are accidentally left behind on the rooftop.)
Meanwhile, Hyun-soo goes to a concert with Hwa-young in what seems like a friendly non-date. But despite her claims to have given up on Hyun-soo, Hwa-young still has a little hope, and she takes his hand during the performance. Hyun-soo, remembering the time Kang-hyun grabbed his hand in the theater, pulls his hand away from hers, and she gets the message.
Afterward, Hwa-young takes him to her favorite ramen house, but that just makes him remember Kang-hyun’s favorite ramen place, and he’s distracted by memories. It’s just not the same with Hwa-young.
When they part ways, Hwa-young comments that it felt like there were three people on their (non)date, and surprises Hyun-soo by encouraging him to go back to Kang-hyun: “I told you before. From the beginning, I’ve been someone who wishes you happy.”
Divorce time. Hyun-soo drives Kang-hyun’s mother to the courthouse, outlining the proceedings on the way. Now that the moment is finally upon her, Mom gets a little emotional to hear how quickly this will be over: “27 years ends in ten minutes.”
Hearing the catch in her voice, Hyun-soo pulls over, and looks back to Mom with an urgency born of hope. He asks if she’s having second thoughts, and assures her that it’s not too late to change her mind. Hyun-soo’s hope is palpable, but Mom collects herself and tells him no; she’s ready to go forward.
Just then, she receives a phone call from Kang-hyun, who insists that Mom head over immediately for a wedding ceremony.
They arrive to see Kang-hyun waiting, dressed in a wedding dress, as Hyun-soo looks on in… dread?
Although I feel bad for Hyun-soo, I really like seeing this vulnerable side to him. Since this is a fairly “realistic” drama with a familiar plot (in that it doesn’t rely on super-dramatic or unrealistic events), the way to sell it is in making us care for the characters. And until today, Hyun-soo’s emotions have been reserved — in character for him, but also an obstacle in making him empathetic. It’s that much more telling that he’s reduced to such misery, like a lost kid who really doesn’t know how to make this better.
Actually, the lost kid metaphor may be pretty apt — just as his older brother gave up his (physical) youth to raise Hyun-soo, Hyun-soo seems to have grown up too quickly mentally. As a result, he may seem like a total adult, but when pressed, I think he just doesn’t know how to deal with this situation because he’s never learned how. His divorce with Hwa-young was made easy in this respect because (1) she fled the country while he took care of the details, making their break clean, and (2) we’re starting to see that while he may have loved her in a general sort of way, it wasn’t a deep, passionate, abiding sort of love. This time he’s got himself in a bit over his head, ja?
I think we needed to see him looking emotionally roughened up — and he really does look scruffier and haggard. With the story told mostly from Kang-hyun’s perspective, we kinda know how she feels and we can sympathize. I want to see that Hyun-soo is just as affected, to balance out this loveline a bit.
(Plus, Kim Ji-hoon looks good when he’s a little rough.)