A cute episode, and one that seems to (finally) be prodding our characters into the next phase of development. I don’t need high angst to keep me interested and I’ve been enjoying the story thus far for that laid-back ambiance, but I also appreciate that the story is moving along for all the couples.
SONG OF THE DAY
No Reply – “끝나지 않은 노래” (Unending song) [ Download ]
EPISODE 9: “1800 m²”
The episode is lighter on the theme today (Haru starts the episode ruminating on amount of time she’s spent on the ice), and soon transitions to the rest of the plot.
Hae-yoon enjoys lazing around in the morning with Sang-hee, who frets about getting out of the house without the others seeing her. In the end, she and Hae-yoon present themselves together, confirming that she spent the night before they both make a hasty exit, leaving Hwal and Hyun-tae gaping in surprise.
The scene in the car is adorable because they are completely swept up in the giddiness of being together; Sang-hee feeds Hae-yoon as he announces to nobody in particular, “I’m Kang Sang-hee’s boyfriend!” She follows with “I’m Jo Hae-yoon’s girlfriend!” which is an announcement they repeat enthusiastically to the man in the car beside them. They are such dorks and it’s cute.
Back in the countryside, Poong-ho leaves Haru’s father’s house, after which Haru announces that she’s ready to go back to Seoul. Her father, being perceptive to her mood, asks if she’s dealing with any problems in Seoul, but she says no and tells him not to worry.
Outwardly, Hwal acts unaffected by Haru’s return, but it’s evident (to us, at least) that he really is glad to see her back. Therefore, he’s put out when she treats Hae-yoon and Hyun-tae with friendliness but gives him the cold shoulder.
It’s not a familiar feeling for Hwal to want to reach out to somebody who wants to withdraw, and particularly so with Haru since their dynamic is usually the other way around. So he finds himself in awkward territory when he attempts — cutely, but ineffectively — to engage Haru in conversation. He checks in on her and asks what she wants to eat, trying to be solicitous, but Haru declines food and responds with disinterest.
Hae-yoon is becoming my favorite character, mostly because I like that he’s honest about his feelings (even when losing his temper) without being childish about them. He’s also the only character with a real commonsense approach to things, such as when Hwal is called to the hospital by a worried Su-in. Hae-yoon clocks Hyun-tae’s interest and levels with him: “Just butt out.”
Furthermore, Hae-yoon doesn’t have a lot of patience for Su-in, either, which prompts Hyun-tae to jump to her defense because she’s going through a lot right now. That is a weak argument, and Hae-yoon responds, “Even if she and Hwal divorced, I’d be against you having a relationship with her. What the heck are you doing over one woman?”
Su-in’s already frayed nerves take a hit when the doctor cautions her to prepare herself for the end; her mother’s cancer is in the last stages. Surprisingly, Su-in holds up pretty well at the hospital, even managing a relatively cheery tone.
That mood lasts as Hwal drops her off at home. Yet when Hwal heads to the door to return her forgotten phone, she lets her emotions go now that she’s alone. Hwal sees her sobbing and draws her to him in a comforting hug.
Haru jogs up to Hwal on their morning run, but she’s not here to join him; she intends to go her separate way. She explains, “I won’t annoy you anymore. I’m going to focus on training now.”
By now, we can see that Hwal misses the old, bubbly Haru, but he doesn’t know how to bring her back. Trying to draw her into conversation, he asks for her new training schedule so he can pick her up from practice. Haru declines, intending to bike to practice from now on, and asks him not to say (nice) things like that — she’s already feeling vulnerable, and she’d rather avoid him for the time being.
Hwal’s not exactly happy about that, but what can he do? Haru’s logic makes sense — she’ll be able to get over her feelings more easily without him hovering. Still, he frowns when Poong-ho comes by and grabs Haru in an enthusiastic hug, greeting everyone exuberantly.
Poong-ho’s insistence on helping Haru through her injury wasn’t mere talk, as he takes an active hand in helping out in her training sessions. Haru is impatient to get back on the ice, but Su-in is firm in building up Haru’s strength off the ice first. I assume that Su-in knows what it’s like to suffer an injury, but Poong-ho is particularly helpful because he relates to Haru. Using his own tactics to make the exercises more interesting, Poong-ho turns Haru’s dismay into amusement. Su-in is pleased to see how well they get along together.
There are many differences between Poong-ho and Hwal, but a main one that stands out is in the way that both address Haru’s current emotional state: Poong-ho adjusts the situation to work with Haru’s frustrations, but Hwal doesn’t know how to get what he wants and just tries to order her around. Therefore, when he confronts her about her sulkiness, it’s like they’re on completely different wavelengths. Hwal doesn’t see what’s so difficult; he is simply her oppa, and girls shouldn’t fall for their brother figures.
Haru replies, “What can I do about something I can’t control?” She understands what he’s saying but can’t just make it happen, so she tells him to stop pushing.
Hae-yoon and Sang-hee’s relationship has its share of bumps, but I love how refreshing it is. For instance, Hae-yoon decides to buy Sang-hee a nice gift, but wonders if jewelry is too common and sappy. He plans a romantic evening out, then arrives at the bar near closing time to sweep her away for the night. However, one of the remaining drunk patrons decides to hit on Sang-hee, which Hae-yoon steps in to prevent. He speaks calmly at first but the man turns belligerent, sending Hae-yoon lunging at him angrily… which lands everyone at the police station.
When the officer asks for Hae-yoon’s identification, Sang-hee looks through his bag, spotting a ring box that Hae-yoon quickly snatches back.
Later, he’s put into a holding area for the night. Before sending Sang-hee home, he asks for his bag, takes out the ring, and slides it on her finger. His tone is resigned — he’d planned on a romantic night, but since those plans were ruined, this is the best he can do. He tells her, “It’s yours.”
Hae-yoon may not have been able to pull out a grand gesture, but Sang-hee still gazes at the ring in wonder. He tells her, “Let’s get married. I’ll treat you well.” Sang-hee tells him she’ll wait for him until he’s let out in the morning.
It’s amusing to see Hwal’s reaction when Sang-hee calls him about Hae-yoon’s brawl; seeing Haru walk by, he decides to use this as bait to pique her curiosity. Hwal raises his voice purposely, saying, “Of course I have to go to the police station” and drops Hae-yoon’s name deliberately.
After he hangs up the phone, Haru’s curiosity prompts her to break her silence. She asks what happened, and I literally laughed out loud at Hwal’s somewhat childish response, all false innocence: “You told me not to talk to you. Can I talk now?” But Haru reads the teasing tone in his voice and walks away.
Following Hae-yoon’s release, he and Sang-hee eat breakfast together and both smile to see the ring on her finger. But Hae-yoon has to ruin it for himself by telling her she should quit her job — he doesn’t like the idea of her running a bar. She doesn’t see the connection between her working and getting married, and asks simply, “Am I supposed to get rid of my space if I marry? Then I don’t want to marry.” Hae-yoon suggests that she set up a different type of store (it’s the bar aspect that bothers him), and while she thinks the idea over, she’s not fully onboard.
On the other hand, Hyun-tae looks at Hae-yoon’s jail-time experience with envy — at least he gets to like who he wants, and fight for her. Hae-yoon: “That’s why you should meet a woman you’re free to like, you idiot.” He doesn’t see Hyun-tae’s feelings as love: “You’re fooling yourself. Get back to your senses.”
I’m glad this Bok Man Chicken storyline is going somewhere (it’s cute, but now we get to move onward). The TV ad experiences remarkable popularity, and while that seems a little ridiculous considering it’s a chicken commercial, I’m deciding to not question it too heavily and just roll with it. Having dropped by to offer their congratulations to the Bok Man president, the guys are present to overhear a phone call with another company president, the head of K Oil.
Mind whirring, Hwal offers to deliver the batch of chicken that the Bok Man president is intending to send over. It’s an odd request, but the president understands that Hwal has caught the scent of a possible new connection.
They bring the food to the K Oil meeting — where they find Hwal’s old boss, section director Jung. Hwal ignores the other man’s sneering attitude and introduces himself to the president, offering himself for future deliveries. They also produce several mockup advertisements to throw in the K Oil president’s path, hoping to make a good impression.
Hyun-tae, in the meantime, chooses to strain my patience yet some more by appearing uninvited to Su-in’s mother’s hospital room. I mean, what the hell are you thinking, fool? He finds the room empty and exercises his creative talents, making a cute skating diorama to hang in the room.
Su-in’s mother assumes that she’s the one who had hung it up, but when Su-in peers closer, she sees a note left by Hyun-tae. Her mother likes the mobile and tells her to leave it up.
However, Su-in’s mother is a rational, sensible woman, and Hyun-tae’s cute but his actions are not. When he visits her room again and introduces himself, she shoots down his attempts to win her over. She’s not mean but reproves him firmly for imposing himself upon a stranger’s sickbed, and for following her daughter around. When Hyun-tae tries to charm his way out of her censure, she tells him to take down the skating mobile and not to mess with Su-in.
I appreciate the way the mother addresses her disapproval, because it’s not personal. She finds Hyun-tae appealing as a person, and tells Su-in as much, but she doesn’t find his behavior to be appropriate and puts him in his place. (So does Hae-yoon, but Hyun-tae doesn’t listen to him.)
Therefore, Su-in is conflicted when she finds Hyun-tae sleeping on a bench in the hospital. She doesn’t know whether to scold him for continuing to come by, or thank him for making her mother smile.
As thanks, Hyun-tae jokingly asks for a kiss, then settles for a wish instead.
Poong-ho, understanding better than anyone Haru’s urge to get back on the ice, supervises an easy skate, reminding her to go lightly. He knows how frustrating it is to want to skate and be forced to stay away when the body feels healthy, so this is his way of scratching that itch while keeping her safe. The skating sequence is adorable, and their vibe is almost date-like — they laugh and skate in a carefree way.
One of the reasons I like Poong-ho so much isn’t just because he’s cute, but because he is (1) concerned for Haru’s welfare, and (2) approaches the situation from her perspective, not his own. You might say that Hyun-tae The Irritating uses a similar approach with Su-in, but there is a key difference: Hyun-tae wants to make Su-in happy, but he stubbornly does everything on HIS terms. He doesn’t stop to think how his actions frustrate her and make her uncomfortable. Su-in’s protests against Hyun-tae are exasperated and recurring, while Haru has ceased protesting Poong-ho’s attentions altogether.
Hwal, who has arrived during their skating session, smiles to see their infectious cheer but chooses to wait outside. When Haru emerges, he asks why she’s been skipping her therapy sessions at the hospital.
The conversation doesn’t go well, as Hwal once again tries to order Haru to obey and get in the car. She ignores that and heads home on her bike. Unable to follow when she takes a pedestrian route home, Hwal confronts her the minute she steps inside the house gate. Unable to contain her emotions, she bursts out, “I hate you!” in the way a child lashes out at an overbearing parent.
But Hwal just hugs Haru, who bursts into tears. He asks, “What do I do? I can’t do anything for you.”
Hae-yoon witnesses the hug and, like with Hyun-tae, disapproves of Hwal’s actions. He thinks Hwal is provoking Haru, and that his relationship limbo with Su-in isn’t only aggravating things. If Hwal decided to either reunite with Su-in for good or to divorce her, at least the others wouldn’t be left in doubt.
Hyun-tae’s wish turns out to be a late-night snack, which he claims in the form of ramen cooked in Su-in’s yard. He shares about his life and what it was like growing up with older brothers and a father who expected more of him. Su-in reminisces about her mother, her tone friendly for once, perhaps because she intends tonight to be their last encounter of this kind. She asks him to stop coming by because his constant presence is giving her a hard time.
Hyun-tae sighs that he must have fooled himself into thinking she might like him back — and the way she averts her gaze uncomfortably hints that he’s not so wrong about that.
Sang-hee is touched over Hae-yoon’s proposal and thinks it over with Jae-wook, saying, “If I did get married, it would have to be with him, right?” After all, he’s the best man she knows. Jae-wook chides her logic and urges her to make a pro and con list.
After thinking on it, Sang-hee makes up her mind and tells Hae-yoon, “I’ll take care of you like a wife, so let’s not get married.” He laughs, thinking she’s joking, but she adds, “Can I take this ring off?” Sang-hee doesn’t want to reject their relationship entirely, and explains, “I like you. Can’t we just continue like this?”
Hae-yoon answers that he can’t, his expression clouding. Then, without a word, he suddenly rises and walks out.
I love Hwal’s reaction when he jogs up to Haru in the morning. He teases Haru about her fall, which he’s seen on video replay, trying to get a rise out of her. She ignores him and jogs on, but her expression brightens as he hands her an mp3 player containing music he’s made for her. Touched and excited, Haru thanks him profusely. Hwal downplays the gesture, but his face shows how pleased he is that she’s happy.
Now that the air has been cleared between them, Hwal and Haru wait in pleasant company, lying on side-by-side-cots while she receives treatment at the hospital.
Haru breaks the companionable silence to wonder, “Why did you hug me that night?” He doesn’t have a ready answer, so she adds that she really loves the music he gave her: “If I hear this, it feels like I’m with you.” Her tone is playful as she prods, “I really like you. What about you, you like me too, right? I can feel it. You like me too, not as a sister. Right?”
Avoiding the question, Hwal sighs that she’s going to drive herself crazy asking questions like that, which she takes for the evasion it is. In a good mood, she hops over to him, and moves in for a kiss.
I thought Hwal was hilarious this episode as he tried to engage Haru in different ways, because he’s forced to adjust his equilibrium to deal with her. He’s always been gruff and curt, and with any reasonable adult, he’d be able to continue being that way, forcing the other person to adjust to his mood. Haru doesn’t take his hints or react according to his wishes, though, so he finds himself in new waters, and it’s cute to see him fumbling for the right way to act.
And because I’m sure the last scene is going to be the big point of concern for many/most viewers (alas, it was spoiled for me and therefore robbed of its dramatic punch, booooo!), here’s what Lee Jung-jae had to say about Hwal’s relationship to Haru:
“Hasn’t everyone experienced that kind of emotion at some point? Perhaps you have feelings for a close oppa in the family, or dealt with pain over a friend’s girlfriend. Actually, this type of story has been used in many dramas before. This is only different in the way that the director and writer make the story unfold. When I was first cast, PD Lee Yoon-jung explained that she hoped to show Hwal and Haru’s relationship in a bright, lovely way similar to Daddy Long Legs. I saw the director’s previous work and happily agreed, having faith in PD Lee Yoon-jung.”