First of all, much thanks to Javabeans for letting me commandeer her site so I could post these recaps and putting up with all my questions. Second, I have to say that I’m really enjoying this show much more than I expected. I am watching the show ahead of where I’m writing my recaps, so I’m a few episode past the first one right now, and I will tell you that this show seems to be getting better with each episode, so even if you found the first episode lackluster, you should definitely continue.
Anyways, on to the Ji Jin Hee eyecandy!
Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure, I think I should warn everyone right now that I’m a kpop aficionado, and thus, kpop references and comparisons will almost definitely be popping up in my recaps, though I promise to try and keep it only to the really relevant stuff. I also take no responsibility for any harm caused by any pondering I may engage in on certain men and their relative eyecandy-ness.
Park Hyun Kyu: Yoo Ah In plays Park Hyun Kyu, the adorably adorable assistant/model-maker to Cho Jae Hee (Ji Jin Hee). He’s pretty much the cutest thing ever (which may or may not have something to do with his resemblance to TOP. Or is this just me? But, seriously, with those glasses, how can you NOT think it?). Although the drama doesn’t explicitly say, he seems to be around the same age as Kim So Eun’s character (Jung Yoo Jin), 26. Hyun Kyu likes to gallivant around in flannel shirts and really tight pants (so maybe a combination of G-Dragon and TOP?), and going along with the Beauty Contest-esque profiling, his hobby is collecting coupons, which you can imagine doesn’t score him a lot of points with the ladies. Hyun Kyu spends most of his days, when he’s not working, nagging Jae Hee and Manager Yu to get married (so he won’t have to do their errands anymore).
Cho Jae Hee: Played by Ji Jin Hee, Jae Hee is a renowned 40-year-old architect with his own firm whose has had a lot of success in his career, although his strong commitment to his designs sometimes causes trouble for him and his co-workers (as is evident later in this episode). To put his character in a nutshell, he’s part 40-Year-Old Virgin, part creeper and part lonely recluse, all wrapped into the body of one very hot (yet also SO adorable) man-child. Jae Hee is obviously “the man” from the title of the series, who despite his good looks and professional success hasn’t yet been able to find a wife.
Jang Moon Jung: Uhm Jung Hwa plays Jang Moon Jung, a 40-year old doctor- she spends most of her time at the hospital, frequently covering shifts for other doctors and working even after her own shift’s are over. In some ways, she’s the female equivalent of Cho Jae Hee – “The Woman Who Can’t Get Married”, if you will- although it’s more like she just hasn’t found the right one , yet.
Jung Yoo Jin: Kim So Eun plays Jung Yoo Jin, Jae Hee’s 26-year old neighbor (she’s taking care of the place for six months while her uncle is out of the country). She’s also the object of Hyun Kyu’s adorable affections, although she has a slacker-boyfriend whose failed the civil service exam three years in a row.
Yoon Ki Ra: Yang Jung Ah is Yoon Ki Ran, the manager of the independent firm that Jae Hee and Hyun Kyu work at. It’s said several times that she’s always picking up Jae Hee’s messes and taking care of him, like a wife, in some ways. She’s known Jae Hee for eight years, so they’re pretty close. She’s around Jae Hee’s age and hasn’t married yet, either. It sometimes appears as if she might hold feelings for Jae Hee (although he’s too dense to ever notice), but nothing has officially gone down yet, so we’ll have to wait and see for sure.
The drama opens with the camera scaling up Jae Hee’s apartment building- showing scenes from different families on the floors beneath him. These pictures also show different stages of relationships, as if in contrast to Jae Hee’s isolation. First it shows a group of younger people (presumably on a group date), a newlywed couple with their child, a family, and finally an older couple whose clearly been married for a while.
Cut to Jae Hee, and what follows can only be described as Food Porn:
Jae Hee slices the steak, seasons it, and then cooks it- all meticulously done. He sets the table and sits down to eat- alone (I can’t help but think of that We Got Married episode where Alex admitted that whenever he tries to cook for himself he ends up throwing the food out, because he can’t bear to eat it alone. But I digress).
As he’s about to take his first bite, he gets a call from Hyun Kyu, reminding him that he’s supposed to be at a party that night- a client they’d built a house for recently remodeled the interior of the house for his new wife, and is holding an unveling party.
Jae Hee reluctantly goes to the party, and . . .
Shows up in this outfit! Manager Yoon and Hyun Kyu both give him grief over it, but when the owner of the house greets the trio, he comments on Jaee Hee’s outfit, saying, “Not many people can pull of my clothes”. From Jae Hee’s smug smile, it’s obvious that he’d worn them on purpose.
Later, Jae Hee is at the buffet. An attractive woman starts a conversation with him, asking, “Do you like spaghetti?”, but he explains, oblivious to her growing discomfort, that it’s actually spaghettini, because it’s thinner than regular spaghetti.
The owner of the house once again gathers Manager Yoon, Hyun Kyu and Jae Hee together, explaining how he had remodeled the entire interior of his house, in deference of his new wife’s wishes. As he explains the changes, Jae Hee gets increasingly frustrated, finally asking him- “How would you feel if someone took this shirt I’m wearing and made it into an apron?”
At the same time, Moon Jung is still at the hospital finishing work. The nurses (I’m assuming they work only with her, because they’re always there) ask her when she’s going home, and she realizes that she needs to leave, because she’s got a blind date to catch.
Her date blathers on and on, telling her that she should set up her own practice when they’re married, and assuring her that his mother will lend her the money. She interrupts him, reminding him that she hasn’t agreed to marry him yet, but he laughs it off.
Later that night, she stops by an internet cafe, and you get the sense that this isn’t the first time. She’s playing a video game online and chatting with other players.
On his way home, Jae Hee stops at a video store and picks out two videos.
The store attendant comments that he’s noticed a pattern in Jae Hee’s rentals- every weekday he rents two movies, and on Friday nights he rents six. Jae Hee responds, “That’s right. It’s Friday.” and picks out four more movies.
At the same time, Moon Jung is on her way home. She stops at a railroad crossing as a train passes by, and . .
is joined by Jae Hee (sort of)! As they walk away, both hold a bag in each of their hands and look straight ahead- notably, they both walk with a sort of rigid stance.
Aand cut to Yoo Jin, who stands enraptured in front of her apartment building, her faithful Chihauhau, Sang Gu, by her side.
She finds herself locked out of the building, however, and goes off to find the doorman just as Jae Hee approaches the door. He stop short when he sees Sang Gu sitting on the steps, staring innocently up at him, and quickly enters the building, ignoring Yoo Jin’s cries of “Ahjussi, wait for me!”
Later that night Yoo Jin is hammering a nail into the wall as Jae Hee, in the apartment next to her, is watching 24. He’s startled out of his reverie by the sound of Yoo Jin’s pounding and angrily turns the volume up.
The next morning at the office, Jae Hee shows Hyun Kyu and Manager Yoon the plans he’s working on- he’d changed the shape of the window because he’d noticed that a different shape would allow them to have a better view of the tree in full bloom. Hyun Kyu and Manager Yoon ooh and ahh appreciatively, to Jae Hee’s pretended-indifference.
Jae Hee walks over to the other side of the room to get a drink, and Hyun Kyu complains (one gets the sense that this happens often) that Jae Hee needs to get married, because once again he’s making Hyun Kyu do errands for him. Jae Hee overhears, walks over to the model Hyun Kyu’s just finished building, and deliberately snaps off a wall, saying, “This part here is broken.”
Back at the apartment that night, Jae Hee is sitting on his patio, listening to music. In the apartment next to his, Yoo Jin’s, he hears peals of laughter and vaguely suggestive exclamations such as, “No, not there!” and “Stop pulling, you’re going to stretch out my clothes!” He turns the volume up, and Yoo Jin, who is playing with her dog, remarks angrily, “He’s doing it again!” Back in his apartment, Jae Hee grins vindictively.
Yoo Jin calls Jae Hee, but he doesn’t pick up- his stomach, which had been giving him trouble all day, has started to give him serious pain. When Yoo Jin comes to the door to ask him to turn the volume down, Jae Hee is on the ground, double over in pain. She asks if he’s okay, and, acerbic even when in acute pain, he answers, “Does it look like I’m okay?”
Yoo Jin calls an ambulance, and rides with Jae Hee to the hospital. When he hears what hospital they’re going to, he asks to go to SD Hospital instead- his brother-in-law works there.
His brother-in-law’s not working that night, however, and he gets examined by Moon Jung instead. She tells him that she has an infection in his intestines, and pulls out tools for a rectal examination and orders him to take off his pants. He freaks out and demands that a male doctor performs the exam, to which she replies, “It’s a hospital, there’s no need to be embarrassed.”
He’s not convinced however, and he sneaks out of the room when she and the nurses aren’t looking. Realizing he’s gone, Moon Jung follows him into the hall, and tells him that he won’t have to do the examination- he can stay at the hospital that night and take medication, instead. Doubled over in pain, he asks where the bathroom is and stumbles off down the hallway.
As Yoo Jin is walking out of the hospital she runs (literally) into Hyun Kyu, who recognizes her as the woman he’d spoken to on the phone, when she’d called to tell him that Jae Hee was in the hospital. He looks her up and down, smiles, and gives her his card, saying, “I’ll take you out to dinner sometime in thanks.” She tells him she has a boyfriend, but he insists she keeps the card and tells her to call him.
The next morning we meet the rest of Jae Hee’s family as he’s resting in his hospital room- his mother, sister and her husband (the brother-in-law he’d wanted to examine him last night) and his adorable niece (who is fond of saying to him, “You’re not married yet? Uncle, that’s so pathetic!”).
After they’ve left, he checks out the hospital early, and creeps up on Moon Jung in the hallway, listening to her phone conversation with her father.
She looks over her shoulder and jumps in surprise, but he simply remarks that it sounded like her father was nagging her to get married. She ignores it, telling him that he should still be resting, but he tells her that he’s fine and waves off her advice. Angry, she tells him not to come crying to her when his illness comes back, and he scoffs at her over his shoulder.
Later that day at the office, Hyun Kyu informs Jae Hee that their client (whose party they had attended at the beginning of the episode) has referred his friend, who he was previously planning on referring to Jae Hee, to a different architect- Jae Hee’s rival, Moon Seok Hwan. Moon Seok Hwan, while perhaps not quite renowned as Jae Hee himself, has built up quite a reputation, partly due to his philandering ways. Jae Hee outwardly scoffs, but looks a little unsure of himself when he sees Moon Seok Hwan’s homepage.
Yoo Jin calls her boyfriend Kim Tae Hyul, asking if he’s studying hard. He replies that of course she is, but she hears the sound of billiards in the background. A few minutes later she appears in the pool hall with an overly-sweet smile and lunch, much to her boyfriend’s chagrin.
He finds her later that day at work, and hangs his head in shame as she berates him for slacking off. She blows him off when he asks her to see a movie later, but as he’s walking away she tells him, “I’ll call you later.” He skips off happily.
On his way home from the grocery store that night, Jae Hee walks past a man on the road and realizes it’s Moon Seok Hwan. He watches as a woman comes out of the apartment Seok Hwan is waiting in front of, and slaps him. Jae Hee grins delightedly.
At the same time, Moon Jung is at her usual internet cafe. A 16-year old girl asks her how old she is, saying, “If our ages are similar, we can speak informally!” and, looking furtively around her, Moon Jung tells the girl, “I’m a year older than you.”
She hears loud crying coming from a few computers over, where Yoo Jin is sitting beside her boyfriend. He tells her that they’ll leave in ten minutes, but she yells back, “We’ve been here for four hours!” and storms out. Her purse gets caught on Moon Jung’s chair on the way out. They recognize each other, and Yoo Jin bows hurriedly and continues on her way out.
The next day Jae Hee is at the construction site for one of his projects, and calls the Foreman out on using the wrong tiles- he’d wanted genuine Italian tiles, but the Foreman bought cheap knockoffs instead. The Foreman insists that nothing is wrong, saying that he’s had thirty years of experience and knows better. He asks Jae Hee, “Are these plans the bible?” and argues that he doesn’t have to follow them exactly, but Jae Hee counters, “Yes, these plans are the bible!” The Foreman lunges at Jae Hee.
Hyun Kyu and Manager Yoon arrive at the site in time to see the fight, and Hyun Kyu mutters, “They’re doing it again?” They break up the fight, but the Foreman and his team leave angrily, saying that they’re done with Jae Hee and the project. Jae Hee turns back to his work as if nothing is wrong, saying,
“Other than getting my building completed properly, I don’t give a damn about anything.”
Manager Yoon berates Jae Hee for being difficult to work with, and runs off after the Foreman. That night she takes the Foreman and his workers to a karaoke lounge, treating them to food and large amounts of alcohol, in an effort to get back into their good graces.
Hyun Kyu tells her that she should stop cleaning up Jae Hee’s messes, but she wonders if she was too harsh on him. Hyun Kyu tells her that she did the right thing, but she muses, “Isn’t today his birthday?”
It is, and Jae Hee sits at a bar, alone.
He calls his brother-in-law, but he’s busy at a carnival with his family.
Jae Hee buys a cake, and is on the sidewalk outside, playing with a pair of glasses (the kind you might buy from a gumball machine), when he runs into his mother.
She muses that it must be lonely, not having anyone to spend his birthday with, and tells him to come with her- she’ll make him Seaweed soup. He refuses, saying that it’s pathetic for a man his age to be eating Seaweed soup with his mother on his birthday, and goes home. In his apartment, he blows out his tiny cake, alone.
Then begins to cut it meticulously.
He’s interrupted by a knocking on his door, and he finds Yoo Jin’s friend outside. She tells him that Yoo Jin isn’t answering her door, and she’s afraid she might be in there passed out.
(Symbolism! Whenever Jae Hee opens the door, he leaves the chain on, only opening the door a few inches. As a result, he’s separated by a chain from anyone who tries to enter his apartment, just as he’s separated from anyone new who tries to enter his life.)
Anyways- Jae Hee gets out what looks like rock-climbing gear (like what you’d use if you went repelling or something), and says,
“Every Household needs to have an emergency escape set. As long as I have this, even if the building catches on fire, I can scale down the wall to the first floor.”
Successfully making his way to Yoo Jin’s apartment, he finds her unconscious on the floor. He pokes around her apartment as her friend takes care of her, and Yoo Jin admits that she was drinking because she just broke up with her boyfriend. Yoo Jin thanks Jae Hee for his help, and he walks back to his apartment. When he tries opening the door, however, the door is still chained, and he can’t get in.
He’s forced to repel back to his apartment, but he’s only halfway there when Sang Gu starts barking- Yoo Jin fainted. This time, it’s Jae Hee accompanying Yoo Jin in the ambulance.
Yoo Jin wakes up and is examined by Moon Jung. They bond over their embarrassing internet cafe-encounters, and when Moon Jung sees Jae Hee’s medical file and realizes it’s his birthday, they plan a celebration.
Moon Jung calls Jae Hee, asking him if he’s feeling better after his illness. He doesn’t reply, asking instead how she got his number- she asked his brother-in-law for it. She asks him, “It’s your birthday today, isn’t it?” He replies, “Yes. . . . Oh . . . . was it?” She tells him that they’ve bought a cake, and that he should come to the hospital and celebrate. He tells her, “There’s no reason to go over there just for a few cake crumbs,” and is about to hang up when he doubles over in pain.
A few minutes later, he’s on his way to the hospital for the second time that night. The EMT’s recognize him, and one of them says, “This isn’t a taxi service!”
Back at the hospital again, Jae Hee is getting examined by Moon Jung, and this time she insists on the procedure he’d refused before- the rectal examination. He tries to protest but she cuts him off when she removes his pants herself. He freezes, horrified.
So at the end of each episode’s credits, there’s a YouTube-ish video showcasing some strange aspect of Jae Hee’s character, a reason why he’s the “Man Who Can’t Get Married”. The video from the first episode shows Jae Hee walking down an alley at night, except he’s walking along a yellow line at the side of the road. At one point, he flattens himself against a column and inches sideways in order to stay on the yellow line, instead of simply curving his path around the column (and off the yellow line) like a normal, non-OCD person might do.
But tangent time! If you’ve seen Uhm Jung Hwa’s 2006 movie, “Seducing Mr. Perfect” (and if you haven’t you need to, because hello, Daniel Henney) you’ll know that her acting tends to be stiff and unnatural. Unfortunately, it’s more of the same in this drama. Her acting is very self-conscious, as if she’s always aware of the camera on her, and so concentrates more on looking good, than on behaving naturally. To a certain extent Kim So Eun does this, too, so their scenes together sometimes verge into the awkward territory. (However- both tend to do this much more in their scenes with each other, so perhaps it’s just a sign of real-life awkwardness between the actresses or something like that. Either way- it doesn’t make the drama itself any less enjoyable, thankfully.)
That said- I am really enjoying this series. I totally hadn’t expected to, because the plot and cast wasn’t that exciting to me. Even after the first episode, I was only vaguely interested. Now that I’m a few episode in, however, I’m much more excited about the series. The amount of times I laugh out loud seems to grow exponentially, too, each episode, which helps. Most of it, is of course, at the expense of Jae Hee.
I think many people will appreciate how Ji Jin Hee is playing Jae Hee- his character is insanely awkward and socially retarded at times, yes, but there are also glimpses of vulnerability, as well, which are very intriguing. I also love how there are lots of examples of how he’s also very compulsive, like his grocery cart or the pencil on his desk, for example.
I’m also liking the similarities that are shown between Moon Jung and Jae Hee- both obviously work way too much, don’t have many friends, and are very stubborn. In Moon Jung’s case, however, it’s more as if, rather than not being able to get married, she just hasn’t found the right one, yet.
And I’m not saying that The Man Who Can’t Get Married doesn’t have flaws, because it has a lot. Unlike some dramas, however, where these flaws take over a drama, preventing anyone from deriving enjoyment from it, this drama has enough charm (mostly owing to Ji Jin Hee, who is pretty much the best thing in this drama) to carry it through. So despite all its many flaws, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this drama in a way that I haven’t enjoyed other, admittedly better, dramas.