(written by Samsooki, editing, layout, design and CH love by 0timelost, cleown, and mead33)
Panoramic and beautiful Inju City on a warm spring day.
City Hall: Episode 7 – A Bright Future (미래) For Inju City
As we start Episode 7, I feel like a new drama series has started, and a new series that in some ways has very little to do with the first six episodes. Now, we are seeing main story arcs developing, like Mi Rae and her battle against abuse of power and corruption, and how far she is willing to go. The other big story line is the evolution of the relationship between Mi Rae and Jo Gook.
At the porridge shop, Jo Gook offers his help to Mi Rae.
MR: What’s your goal, Deputy Major?
JG: Oust Mayor Go, and then conduct a by-election. Is your goal the same, or is it different?
Jo Gook notes that the Mayor is responsible for all sorts of corruption and criminal activities. Inju’s citizens are suffering with stagnant economic growth, and Inju’s unemployment rate is the highest in the country and growing. As Mi Rae ponders Jo Gook’s reasons, Jo Gook says that he is prepared to force the mayor to take responsibility.
Mi Rae is not so easily swayed by Jo Gook’s words, and she retorts, “Then YOU should go do it.” Jo Gook lets slip a surprised expression ever so slightly, perhaps thinking that his silky words should have been able to persuade Mi Rae. Another surprise awaits Jo Gook as Mi Rae claims that she only wants to get her prize money and nothing more. After all, she is only what Jo Gook said that she was – a Level 10 Civil Servant and now she isn’t even that. So, he should just take his plans and work his magic by himself. She wants no part of it.
Mi Rae looks up at Jo Gook using her “I’m naïve” look, but her rather harsh words belie her innocence. Jo Gook responds equally coldly, telling her that he thought she was a realistic person, but it turns out that he misjudged her. Mi Rae, in her parting words, reveals why she refused to be a part of Jo Gook’s plans:
Mi Rae: No, you judged me correctly. But it is a pity that I’ve changed a lot over the last few days, enough not to be used by anyone else.
You can almost hear the gears grinding in Jo Gook’s head, as the noggin computer spits out the rather obvious calculation: “Must… reevaluate… Shin Mi Rae.”
The following day, as Mi Rae sets up her one-woman protest placards, she finds Jung Do standing in front of her. Jung Do repeats the question that he had asked her earlier, back when he first told her that the contest was rigged and there would be no money for her.
Jung Do: Do you have the courage to be the upstanding witness? Do you have the confidence to stay with it until the end? Do you have the confidence to stick with it and not give up and run half-way through?
Mi Rae pauses, and then tears up as she nods yes – it looks like Jung Do will help, even if Jo Gook won’t help her without adding conditions. (When I grow up, I want to be just like Jung Do, but without the pama hair.) It is no longer a one-person protest, now that Jung Do is there.
But just as Mi Rae’s support has grown, so have the obstacles. News reports start to come out, with various people lying about Mi Rae and backing the story that there was no diversion of money. It is all Joo Hwa’s doing. Mi Rae’s public support looks shaky now.
Mi Rae finally meets with Boo Mi, as she is trudging back home from another failed job interview. Boo Mi is even more upset than before, the public now sees Mi Rae as a lunatic and a liar. The concern for her friend is evident on Boo Mi’s face, along with the bitterness of having to face all this trouble because of Mi Rae’s stubborness. But hey, at least they are talking again. Mi Rae is deflated now, unsure of what to do.
When it rains, it pours. Joo Hwa has more tricks up her sleeve. The lease of Mi Rae’s mother’s tiny little baendaengi fish store has been revoked, along with all of her neighbors’. Also, the Mayor has filed charges of defamation against Jung Do and Mi Rae. The obstacles are now immense and multiplying, as more and more people are being affected by Mi Rae’s protest, and Mi Rae knows of only one person who can actually do something.
So Mi Rae swallows her pride and goes to ask for Jo Gook’s help. Who is, predictably, in a gloating kind of mood. He asks Mi Rae to wait outside his house as he goes inside to change, and then they will go out to dinner. Mi Rae has no choice but to agree, feeling humiliated that she has to beg Jo Gook after having rebuffed his initial offer.
Flush with the sense of victory over the stubborn Mi Rae, Jo Gook changes in his room and notices the Baedaengi crystal hairclip on his desk. Jo Gook’s smirk disappears as his thoughts go backwards in time…
…to the night before the Baendaengi Pageant finals. It looks like on the night before Jo Gook dismisses Mi Rae from the contest, he was not just watching from the car, but he was at the Habitat for Humanity house. But it was unclear at that point why he was there. Was he merely driving by? Now, more light is being shed on this seemingly minor incident: Jo Gook wasn’t just driving by Mi Rae’s house that night, it seems that he followed Mi Rae back to the house after dinner! He was right there, 30 feet away!
So what now? Is Jo Gook just longing for a warm and honest friendship? If so, why is he treating Mi Rae (and Jung Do) so poorly? What is Jo Gook’s major malfunction?
So, Mi Rae has agreed to Jo Gook’s help, and the two of them have dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant. Mi Rae is assured by Jo Gook’s confidence that she will be able to redress all the injustices done, Mi Rae is unconvinced as this is clearly for Jo Gook’s benefit more than anything for her. As Jo Gook gets up to pay, Mi Rae asks him to wait. She wants dessert first (lol)! In that moment, we can see the little girl who always wanted to come to a place like this but was never asked. Though Mi Rae has no illusions about what this dinner is for Jo Gook, it doesn’t mean that Mi Rae can’t at least enjoy the food and the atmosphere. It is a window to Mi Rae’s personality – she can be as strong as any person alive, but inside she is still a woman who wants dessert especially if someone else is paying.
After dinner as they walk out of the hotel restaurant, Jo Gook admits he has never seen a woman like Mi Rae before. Mi Rae stops cold, and shyly asks Jo Gook what kind of woman does he thinks she is.
Jo Gook: The kind of woman who doesn’t eat her food, but inhales it.
(LOL. Somewhere, Binnie is trying to high-five a television set.)
Is Mi Rae going to let that kind of comment go without adequate response? Heck no! Mi Rae fires back:
I wasn’t going to bring this up before, but I had an ex-boyfriend once looked exactly like Hyun Bin! And he told me that just like Thumbelina, he wanted to keep me in his pocket and carry me around everywhere!
(And the huge surprised roar of delight from Kim Sam Soon fans everywhere could be heard all around the world).
Right then and there, from across the hotel lobby, Mi Rae spots an ex-boyfriend of hers, the one who had dumped her and skipped out on his debts, which forced Mi Rae to cover them. And this dead-beat ex-bf is with another woman. Mi Rae asks Jo Gook to wait while she gives her ex-bf a piece of her mind.
Jo Gook comes over to help and demands that the ex-bf pay up the money he owed. Mi Rae grabs Jo Gook’s arm and does what every dumped girlfriend in history dreams of doing: “Hey loser! I’m with a better man now.” Jo Gook, wise to the ways of Mi Rae, plays along:
JG: Shall we go up now? I’ve already reserved a room.
MR: (glaring at her ex) Yes, let’s go. (Turns to JG in shock as her brain registers his words) What?
JG: (in a husky sexy voice) I can’t wait any longer.
MR: (pausing, then shyly hugs Jo Gook) Oppa, I can’t wait any longer, either. (Leaving the dumbfounded ex-boyfriend behind)
(Okay, so I have to admit. It can be kind of cool to know people like Jo Gook. I think every girl should have one friend like Jo Gook.)
Back in the hotel room that Jo Gook did really reserve, Jo Gook hands Mi Rae the evidentiary documents that can drop the Mayor in a single blow. As Mi Rae is about to leave, Jo Gook gives her one more thing: the Baendaengi hairclip that he found. Jo Gook gently pins the clip into heir hair. Mi Rae is surprised by how gentle and touching Jo Gook can be.
The next day, Mi Rae meets with Jung Do, who asks her what she will do with those documents, telling her that even if the Mayor falls, it will not be her victory, but Jo Gook’s victory. Mi Rae agrees, but after having read the documents, she cannot sit still and do nothing.
This forces Jung Do aback a little (and I can see why, considering that is exactly what Jung Do did – sit back and do nothing for so many years). Mi Rae’s friends suggest going to the police or to the media.
But Mi Rae wants to finish this battle her way. She makes hundreds of copies of the documents and then starts passing them out to everyone in Inju by hand.
In an emergency meeting brought on by Mi Rae’s actions, the Mayor calls together his advisors, but they are useless. Jo Gook stops by, smiles, pokes a few tender spots, and then leaves after tendering his resignation. The Mayoral ship is sinking, and both Joo Hwa and the Mayor’s political ally, Assemblyman Boo Jung Han, have made plans to dump him. When the ruling party’s City Council members wash their hands off of the Mayor, he knows that he has no out-strategy left. He is about to be arrested and will go to prison. It is over.
For Mi Rae, though, it is not over. She has planned a 2 p.m. gathering in front of City Hall, the place where she spent the hellish week with her protest, as a symbolic show of vindication and proof that a person can make a difference in Inju. But it is past 3 p.m., and nobody has shown up. It looks like Mi Rae’s battle has resulted in a Mayor falling, but no gain as the citizens of Inju just don’t seem to care.
As Mi Rae starts to despair, a mother and a child show up. The mother tells Mi Rae, “For my child, I want to make a brighter future.” The word for future in Korean is “mi-rae” (미래), and so, the mother has come to make Mi Rae brighter, for her child.
It looks like it is just them… but then four more people show up.
Then more come, in small groups and in pairs. They are starting to come to stand with Mi Rae.
And they keep coming.
Because of the support of the people of Inju, her one-person protest has been vindicated. She can see the good it has done, as people gather with her leaflets in hand. They come for a reason, not just for a show. Mi Rae is filled with pride that she has done something good for the people.
Oh, and Jung Do is proud of her, proud to be standing with her.
And… so, actually, is this guy (even though he is watching from like 50 yards away, from behind a tree).
The following day, Mi Rae is sitting on her bench outside her home. Cherry tree flower petals are raining down, as it is a warm spring day. Spring has shown up in earnest in Inju City, and it is a new beginning for more than just the trees.
Mi Rae is deep in thought when the person who is probably on her mind shows up in front of her.
Jo Gook is carrying flowers for Mi Rae and stops in front of her. For a while, they gaze at each other, trying to see what truth they can find in each other’s eyes.
Mi Rae: Why did you come?
Jo Gook: Because I missed you.
Wow….let’s let that last bit of dialogue sink in….. Okay!
First, I am totally pumped that Jo Gook has fallen for Mi Rae. But is it love? Is it just because he’s never met a woman like Mi Rae before? Is it because Jo Gook is desperately lonely and tired of just being surrounded by people he cannot trust?
And on the other side, what is Mi Rae really thinking? How many times has Jo Gook treated her like crap and humiliated her in front of other people? How many times has he hurt her pride already? Jo Gook has done some pretty cool things for her too, but a person with a hidden agenda is not someone you can give your love and trust to entirely. Mi Rae is no fool and she knows that. However, she can’t stop what she feels and that feeling is strong for this man.
For those keeping score, then – Jo Gook likes Mi Rae. To what extent and whether he loves her is unknown, but it is enough to follow her around, to think about her even as he is hugging someone else, and to do things for her that he did not have to do. And Mi Rae likes Jo Gook, undeniably, but she is also scared of him since she cannot trust him. It isn’t like Mi Rae is this innocent young woman. She knows that Jo Gook has a woman, and she knows that Jo Gook has ulterior motives whenever he is dealing with her. Oh, and just for the record, nobody loves the Mayor, except for the wart-faced secretary of his whom I detest even more than the Mayor.
One last point about this episode. The soundtrack songs that are used in this episode are just so perfect. What a fantastic job by the CH production team to match the mood, the songs and the lyrics to this episode. Wonderful. If you are just reading the recaps, you have no idea how good the music and the scenes go together.
The one to watch for in this Episode but who didn’t show up, after all: Hyun Bin.
Hyun Bin, Kim Sun Ah’s co-star in the mega-hit drama series, My Name Is Kim Sam Soon, was rumored to make a cameo appearance as Mi Rae’s ex-bf, but did not, and instead it was just some dialogue about how Mi Rae’s ex-bf looks exactly like Hyun Bin. I would have blown a gasket if Binnie actually did show up. It would be like picking between your children. Binnie or Cha Seung Won for Kim Sun Ah? OMG, later later later. Later… that conversation is for later.
On To Episode 8!