Ooh, GOOD EPISODE! Best episode so far.

I know some people feel that Yoon Sang-hyun was miscast, but he and Yoon Eun-hye both have great expressive eyes, independently and together, and this episode was a total tortured eyefest. Ew, that sounds gross. You know what I mean. I also find that both Yoons are pretty gifted in (a specific kind of) comedy, but I find them both more compelling wringing the emotion out scenes, whether big confrontations or the smallest of moments.

SONG OF THE DAY

K.Will – “눈물이 뚝뚝” (Dropping the Tears) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

As Hae-na stops the three moneylender-thugs to talk, Su-ah joins her and recognizes the trio as the guys who threatened her at the launching show: “You called me pretty and threatened me!” A sidekick protests, “We never said you were pretty.”

(Note: This is a recurring bit, that Hae-na is called beautiful while Su-ah is constantly looked upon as unattractive. While I generally dislike when characters are supposed to be unattractive when the actresses are obviously quite pretty in real life, as a recurring gag it’s somewhat amusing because Su-ah has such a shrill, desperate personality that this image suits her character.)

The thugs defend themselves, saying they did nothing wrong to Su-ah — all they did was follow Dong-chan’s orders. That name captures Hae-na’s attention, and the guys explain that they were supposed to threaten her, and got Su-ah by mistake.

While Su-ah hurries off to summon security, Hae-na demands to know Dong-chan’s part in the incident. The next thing we know, she is striding up to Dong-chan (per the end of the last episode) and slaps him in the face, with Su-ah and her security guards in full view. (The trio manage to slip away.) She says, “Your friends told me an interesting story, that you instructed them to scare me.”

Dong-chan hangs his head, knowing he has no defense for his actions. However, she has misinterpreted his intent (to “save” her and appear the hero), thinking he acted in retaliation for her bad behavior.

She warns Su-ah not to get involved and barks at Dong-chan to follow her. Alone now, he eyes her warily — but instead of continuing her tirade, Hae-na’s expression softens. She asks, “Did it hurt?” She’s not angry with him, and explains that she hit him to keep Su-ah from growing suspicious.

Hae-na asks, “Did you hate me that much? Enough that you wanted to scare me?” When he starts to explain, she answers, “It’s okay, I know I treated you badly.”

Thus Dong-chan is off the hook for the moment, and leaves for his debt settlement meeting with the three thugs. On the way, he runs into Eui-joo, who sighs in relief to hear that Hae-na didn’t find out the whole truth of his debt and past.

Dong-chan calls the trio, who managed to escape before being brought before the security guards. Dong-chan confirms that they didn’t tell Hae-na everything, such as the part where he had intended to seduce her for her money.

The boss postpones their meeting for the next day, because he doesn’t feel well. Only… when he hangs up the call and turns his attention to his guest, we find that it’s Hae-na!

(GREAT TWIST. Just when you thought Dong-chan was caught in his lie, he’s safe, only to be caught again. Only this time, he doesn’t know it.)

Hae-na asks the men to continue their story from earlier. As she sits with them, back at the company the Kang San directors wait impatiently for Hae-na to make her presentation. Already irritated with Hae-na’s position in the company, the men grumble and get up to leave, which is when Dong-chan blocks their exit and tries to persuade them into waiting longer. When the directors accuse Hae-na of running off to avoid giving the presentation, he insists that she worked very hard to prepare it.

At this point, Hae-na arrives. Already in a volatile mood, her temper flares when Uncle Chul-gu belittles her work and her dinky internet shopping project. She talks back, so Dong-chan steps between them to prevent a blow-up. Dong-chan ushers her away, leaving Uncle Chul-gu stewing. Determined to best Hae-na, Chul-gu orders an employee to find out what she is working on.

Hae-na explains her mood to Dong-chan as a result of a fight with Tae-yoon. At home, she broods over her newfound information and thinks back to all the clues that should have rung a bell, such as how Dong-chan called himself a bad person and warned her not to trust him.

Hae-na’s hurt manifests in bratty tantrums. At dinner, she picks at every little thing, overturning plates and berating her staff for their shoddy job. The maids and housekeeper endure Hae-na’s tirade quietly, jumping to appease her. When Hae-na throws a plate to the ground, a shard cuts the housekeeper’s face.

Alarmed at her outburst, Dong-chan confronts Hae-na and chastises her. We can see from her reaction that she feels a twinge of guilt, but she covers that up and retorts that it’s not like she meant to hurt her.

When Dong-chan continues to rebuke her for treating everyone badly, Hae-na challenges, “Do you think you have the right to say that to me?” She storms off and leaves Dong-chan wondering at her meaning.

Needing to blow off some steam, Hae-na drops by Tae-yoon’s office, saying merely that she visited because she was bored. They have an impromptu date; she eats cotton candy and watches Tae-yoon play basketball with a group of guys in the park. Afterward, Tae-yoon asks if she feels better now — he could tell she’d been feeling upset.

Hae-na tells him, “I think people only see me in terms of money.” She’s seen as Kang San Group’s successor more than as Kang Hae-na. She confesses, “I had a friend I really trusted, but it turns out that the friend wasn’t any different from everyone else.”

Tae-yoon is pretty sharp and he senses the truth behind her vague words, but when he asks who she’s talking about, Hae-na deflects, saying he wouldn’t know. She asks whether he’s ever been betrayed by a friend — what would he do?

Tae-yoon: “What can I do? I have to trust them. Maybe I’m simple-minded, but if I trusted someone once, I try to trust them through the end. Many times it turns out that the person wasn’t bad, but that their life circumstances were. Your friend may be the same way. How about giving them another chance? If they earned your trust, they are worth that much. You can always be disappointed afterward.”

She considers his words, and when she arrives home that night and sees Dong-chan in the distance, she says to herself, “I want to trust him.” Yet she isn’t able to trust him the next day, when he steps out to meet somebody; she watches him leave and has him followed.

He’s meeting the loan sharks, and we now learn that Hae-na had agreed to pay off Dong-chan’s debt. The boss intends on also demanding payment from Dong-chan, taking advantage of the fact that Dong-chan and Hae-na are keeping their dealings a secret from each other.

(Note: There’s a TINY point in this scene, which I appreciated because it adds a fun extra layer. The three thugs are playing Go-Stop, and the boss spouts his questionable business ethics proudly as he plays his cards. Without getting into the specifics of the game, let’s just say that he produces an unlucky move where his cards are stuck in limbo until he can claim them on another turn.

A sidekick reminds the boss of Dong-chan’s warning not to mess with Hae-na, and plays a good hand, where he gets to “claim” the boss’s cards. The boss dismisses those concerns while playing his next hand, and gets stuck again. The sidekick, again displaying a hint of ethics, again claims the hand. I dunno, I just thought it was a cute metaphor — bad ethics yields bad hand, good ethics yields good hand.)

Anyway.

The cops burst in, reported by Hae-na. Dong-chan arrives outside the building just in time to see the loan sharks being arrested. He ducks out of view and wonders what’s going on, not seeing Hae-na watching from her car across the street. A police officer hands her a document taken from the loan sharks’ office — it’s Dong-chan’s debt memo, and she rips it up.

Despite the fact that having the thugs out of his hair is a good thing, Dong-chan feels uneasy and tells Eui-joo so. He gets no sympathy from her, though, because she’s overjoyed that someone finally found a way to put the thugs behind bars. (Their specific crimes are not detailed, but we can presume that in their line of work, they have accrued any number of crimes.)

Eui-joo rejoices with her mother, relieved that now Dong-chan can get a new lease on life. All that’s left is to leave Hae-na’s house. At this, Mom balks — the job’s as good as any, so why should he leave? After all, he’ll need a solid job if he wants to get married soon. At this, Eui-joo speaks up — she’s noticed her mother pushing the idea of Dong-chan marrying. Why?

Mom admits it’s because Eui-joo likes Dong-chan, which Eui-joo cannot understand. If Mom likes Dong-chan, how can she oppose them being together? Mom explains that Dong-chan is like a son to her, and she believes he’s a truly good person, wants to take care of him, and hates seeing him suffer. But her daughter is where she draws the line — given his previous profession (and the troublesome baggage attached with that), she cannot give her daughter to him.

Eui-joo is offended and hurt: “No matter what other people say about him, you and I shouldn’t say that.” Furthermore, it’s not like she’s superior to Dong-chan, so her mother’s opposition is unfounded.

Still, Mom remains resolute. Even if people badmouth her, she refuses to budge. So Eui-joo says she’s the same way — she can’t give up on Dong-chan, either.

Dong-chan is called to collect Hae-na from a bar, where she drinks alone. He wonders at her glum mood — he thought she’d made up with Tae-yoon.

Hae-na says that Tae-yoon had lied to her about one thing — she had thought he was a good person and wanted to trust him, but it turns out he’s not who she thought. She’s obviously talking about Dong-chan, trying to prod him into sharing the truth with her as she says, “But if he told me honestly, I would have understood.”

Thinking of his own situation, Dong-chan offers a defense for Tae-yoon, saying, “Even if he wanted to be honest, he may not have been able. … Small wrongs are easily confessed. But with a really big wrong, he could have been afraid of losing you, of never seeing you again.”

Hae-na would like to believe that, but an edge of bitterness creeps into her voice as she says, “I don’t think that at all. Not at all.”

Dong-chan: “Then what would you like Tae-yoon to do?”
Hae-na: “I want him to become honest with me. I want him to tell me everything even now.”

Pretending this was all about Tae-yoon, she asks leadingly, “Is there anything you lied about to me? Like how you told your friends to frighten me back then? Tell me, I’ll forgive you.” She looks to him hopefully… waiting…

Dong-chan: “There’s nothing.”
Hae-na: “There’s really nothing?”
Dong-chan: “There’s nothing.”

That’s disappointing. And infuriating. So when Dong-chan gives Hae-na advice about making up with Tae-yoon, she tells him he’s right: “How is it you understand women so well?” But far from flattering, her tone takes on an edge as she asks, “Is it because you used to be a gigolo?”

Dong-chan is stunned. She explains that his thug buddies filled her in on the truth, then berates herself for being so blind. Angry at herself, Hae-na wonders why she didn’t read the signs, why she was so stupid.

Fighting tears, she tells him, “Jerk. You’re fired.”

Hae-na dashes off to hail a taxi. Dong-chan chases after her but isn’t fast enough.

As he watches her leaving, feeling wretched, Hae-na wipes away tears in the taxi. A montage of their courtship reminds us of the happier times between them.

Su-ah and her father continue to plot Hae-na’s demise. They had broken in to the mansion to steal a look at Hae-na’s files, and now discuss her internet shopping mall proposal, which showcases Hae-na as the fashionable face of the brand (“Follow Kang Hae-na!”). Uncle Chul-gu is unimpressed, but Su-ah thinks the idea is pretty good and may work.

Looking for leverage against Hae-na, Chul-gu instructs his wife Mi-ok to find out what she can about Dong-chan from her rival, Seung-ja. Mi-ok does, and even though Seung-ja sees through her transparent attempt to fish for damning information against Dong-chan, she inadvertently lets a few things slip. For instance, Dong-chan’s weekend activities as church volunteer.

Hae-na makes her presentation and handles the directors’ dismissive reaction well, defending her idea when it is called childish. She is not prepared, however, for Chul-gu’s charge that her idea is unoriginal; he shows the directors the exact same presentation, only bearing Su-ah’s name and image instead. He accuses Hae-na of stealing Su-ah’s proposal, and calls her dishonest and sneaky. Caught completely by surprise, Hae-na has no defense and fumes.

Dong-chan gives Hae-na an earnest pep talk, having stayed in his job despite her attempt to fire him. She insists he leave before she reveals the whole truth to her grandfather, but he calls her on the bluff and offers to tell him himself. He’ll leave when her grandfather returns, no sooner and no later.

Now he urges her not to give up so easily, and says she’s doing a good job — enough so that Su-ah would want to copy her ideas. He’s being sincere, but she looks at him cynically: “This must be why women like you. You act so kind, gentle, and warm.” But she’s not buying his act anymore. (Dong-chan is hurt, but he knows he has no defense and just takes it.)

Tae-yoon drops by Hae-na’s office to take her to lunch, while Dong-chan waits in the lobby, which is where Eui-joo finds him.

As they chat, Dong-chan comments at her sloppy hairstyle and fiddles with it, so when Hae-na and Tae-yoon step into the lobby, they see the two looking pretty cozy (and Tae-yoon again comments on what a good couple they would make). He invites Eui-joo and Dong-chan to join them for lunch, which is, of course, another exercise in awkwardness.

A discussion about Hae-na’s stolen promotion idea leads to mention of Tae-yoon’s job, and what kind of cases he works on. When he answers that he’s helped people against the likes of thieves and gigolos, the other three tense. Hae-na uses that as a chance to needle Dong-chan, saying knowingly that Dong-chan would have made a good gigolo. Hae-na’s accusatory, bitchy tone is directed at Dong-chan, who doesn’t defend himself but gives her an intense look.

After the two couples separate, Eui-joo guesses that Hae-na knows everything and is offended at how she taunted Dong-chan with it at lunch.

Tae-yoon has sensed the weirdness in the air, and when he and Hae-na have tea afterward, he asks her, “What is your relationship with Seo Dong-chan?”

Hae-na finds the question strange and answers that there’s nothing between them, to which Tae-yoon asks, “But do you know you were strange at the restaurant?” He points out how harshly she had spoken to Dong-chan. Last time, it had bothered him to see that they were unusually close, but seeing their weirdness today has him even more bothered.

He also asks whether she forgave her friend, to which she answers, “I want to, but strangely, I find it difficult to.”

That evening, Hae-na calls Dong-chan to meet her, and this time he’s upset to find her at his former host bar.

He doesn’t want to stay here, but she refuses to leave. She’s curious to know what he was like when he worked here, saying that it must have been hard for him to act so nice and silly and foolish with her.

Frustrated with Hae-na’s attitude, he walks away, telling her to do as she pleases. But he turns back, sees her starting to cry, and grabs her out of the booth.

As he drags her down the hallway, she bites his hand to get free, so he whirls her around, holding her against the wall. Hurt at the way she’s been prodding at him all day, he finally bursts out, “What the hell are you doing? How can you be so cruel?” She’d said she wanted to see what he was like as a gigolo — fine, he’ll show her.

Now Dong-chan’s voice is tinged with bitterness: “But are you rich? Because dealing with a bad-tempered, unlikable woman like you will require a lot of money. How much do you have? How much can you put up?!”

His fierce reaction has Hae-na nervous now, and a little scared. She asks what he wants, and he responds, “Be honest with me. Why are you so angry? What do you want?” He lurches toward her, stopping just short of a kiss.

For a moment we wonder if he’s going to kiss her. Both are tense and have tears in their eyes, and Dong-chan’s voice even breaks as he asks, “Is this what you want?”

(ARGGG, this is such a great scene. What is so flippin’ brilliant about this moment is that the tension — between them and with us — isn’t because they’re almost kissing, it’s because they’re almost crying.)

Hae-na closes her eyes, as though she wants that kiss, but she shoves him back instead. Wiping tears away, she walks off.

After a moment, Dong-chan comes back to his senses and runs outside looking for her, but by now he’s lost her.

He heads up and down the sidewalks, searching all over for Hae-na. When he finally finds her, she’s trudging down the street dejectedly. She stops when she registers his presence.

When he speaks, he’s dropped the formality and says her name: “Hae-na.”

They stand staring at each other for a moment, until she turns away, not looking where she’s going. In fact, she walks so blindly that she doesn’t see that she’s in the direct path of an oncoming truck.

Hae-na freezes in shock. Dong-chan grabs her out of harm’s way at the last moment, and then hugs her to him tightly.

 
COMMENTS

The ending scene — grabbing someone out of oncoming traffic as an excuse for a hug — is a scene I have seen many, MANY times over. And yet I think the one in this episode is probably the best one I’ve seen, and it really *got* me in a way that other versions have not.

It’s probably because in the other versions, it really is just a cheap excuse for an embrace. Many times the couple is in the incipient stages of the romance, so the sudden forced proximity makes them aware of their physical attraction. In this scene, however, what I love is how Dong-chan doesn’t use this as an excuse to hug Hae-na. It’s more of a segue to a hug than an excuse for one. Maybe I’m reading too much into the scene, but I could swear there is this very clear, split-second moment when this goes from a “grab out of traffic” exercise to an emotional embrace. Furthermore, given how well these two actors play off each other’s emotional beats, you really feel how much they want to be holding each other right now. Kudos on getting that feeling across — a lot of fluff dramas don’t bother pushing through to make that emotional connection, but I totally felt it here.

Also, what I love is that for once, the vulnerable one in this relationship is also the one in the position of power. Well, both Hae-na and Dong-chan are feeling vulnerable, but it’s Hae-na who’s really feeling raw and taken advantage of, so I see her as the more fragile and tentative character in this dynamic. That’s different, right?

 
RELATED POSTS