(written by cleown, with 0timelost and samsooki)
Episode 13 – To Be Properly Treated and Valued as a Woman.
Hi, my name is cleown and I’m one of the editors for the City Hall recaps, although this time I am writing an episode recap of City Hall. I’ve tried my best though I’m not a native speaker of either English or Korean. I’m a subber though (of Japanese dramas), and a long-time sucker of Korean dramas (they are just better :D). As you guys probably know, samsooki is a big fan of My Name Is Kim Sam Soon and Kim Sun Ah, and while I’ve seen MNIKSS as well, honestly, I belong to the group of people who think City Hall beats ALL dramas. One last warning: I’m super biased when it comes to Jo Gook.
Enough said, let’s get to the actual recap of Episode 13!
To show their opposition to Mayor Shin Mi Rae’s plans on not relocating City Hall, all bureau directors are turning in their resignation letters at once.
samsooki’s note. In Korean municipal governance, there are the elected and administrative officials. Elected city officials like Mayor Mi Rae decide policy, but once their term is over, unless they are re-elected, they are done. Other city officials are appointed (like the deputy Mayor) are appointed by the provincial government, and those positions come with tenure. Finally, there are the civil service positions that are based on seniority and test-taking. These positions are tenured so it is difficult to be fired, and really, the Directors aren’t resigning. They are saying that they are going to sit on their hands and Mi Rae will be the mayor of nothing until Mi Rae agrees to put the relocation project back on track.
While Jung Do tries to persuade his colleagues to rethink their strategy, Boo Mi tries her best to cheer Mi Rae up – but our newbie mayor remains devastated. To distract herself from the first obstacle thrown at her, Mi Rae goes out to do some charity work – turning the mayoral residence into a study hall for little children. But she doesn’t seem to be the only good-natured person in Inju. The kindergarten’s new financial sponsor shows up. No, it’s not Jo Gook. It’s his dear mother.
Admittedly, the second meeting of Mi Rae and Jo Gook’s mom is not much warmer than their first. As Jo Gook’s mom walks off, the kindergarten teacher reassures Mi Rae that the cold fish of a lady, deep down, is really a nice person. Mi Rae has to add with a smirk, “He’s turned out to be exactly like his mother.”
Inside the house, Mi Rae is no longer Mayor of anything, but merely a prospective daughter-in-law, and she tries to impress Jo Gook’s mom with her skills concerning housework…
…which, frankly, are not really making a lasting impression. So Mi Rae tries to engage Jo Gook’s mom by talking about Jo Rang, Jo Gook’s little son; commenting on how alike father and son are. Jo Yong Hee then reveals that Rang is adopted by Jo Gook, and so the two of them are in fact not blood-related. Mi Rae is left without anything else to say.
(samsooki’s note: the dynamic here is really something. Mi Rae is a MAYOR. The converted mayoral house Mi Rae is cleaning is technically Mi Rae’s. And Jo Gook’s mom is really nobody special, but Mi Rae wants to be a good daughter-in-law. Korean moms are as tough as they come, and Mi Rae would have better luck running for President of Korea than being accepted by Jo Gook’s mom if she doesn’t properly behave in front of her. hehe.)
In the meantime, Go Hae has arrived in Inju City by direction from BB, to find potential sites where BB can build his “house.” Curious, Jo Gook takes her out to one of the potential sites, which happens to be where the new city hall might be located. While Jo Gook is trying to figure out what it is that BB wants to build in Inju City, he overhears a conversation among passer-bys that the new Mayor of Inju has overturned the relocation indefinitely, which would upset quite a few wealthy and connected people. This is big news and Jo Gook is now at a loss what to do.
Back at City Hall, Mi Rae learns that all documents regarding the relocation are now at the Deputy Mayor’s desk and she can’t do anything that lies within her responsibility. Mi Rae can make no headway into getting information, as the deputy mayor has told all the administrative staff to pretend that the City Hall mayor’s office is empty. It is the low point for Mi Rae, who is left to sit outside and wonder why Jo Gook made her believe in herself, if the result would be like this.
But Mi Rae still has Boo Mi and Jung Do who are right beside her, helping her to find a way out. Together they search through documents and make anonymous phone calls to various offices within City Hall, tediously pulling together bits and pieces of information..
As Mi Rae takes a short break, the person she’s been thinking of, knocks at her door.
Mi Rae (shyly): Oh! What brings you here?
Jo Gook: I wanted to pay the new Mayor a visit. I heard people saying that she’s a really pretty lady…
Mi Rae (blushing):
Jo Gook: …but it seems like she’s not in..
Har! They go out for dinner. Mi Rae tries to offer her first bite to Jo Gook but gets rebuffed. Mi Rae feels let down, but before she can take a bite…
… she looks up to see that Jo Gook has offered her HIS first bite.
Here comes another of Jo Gook’s lessons for life; this time it is a very cute one all girls (and guys!) should remember.
Jo Gook: These are things that the man has to do. So don’t get into a car if your man doesn’t open the door for you, nor should you sit down somewhere unless he put a towel down on your seat, and don’t even think about eating unless he has set down utensils for you…
Mi Rae (touched): …
Jo Gook: You’ve… not experienced this yet, have you?
Mi Rae (shakes her head): …
Jo Gook: In the future, these things are things you should remember. Women need to learn to be properly treated, to be valued as precious.
Awww, am I the only one that melted away?
(samsooki’s note: I’m not melted (yet). O, Be Thou Careful of Thy Heart, Mi Rae! This is where any BFF would yank her up off the table, drag her aside and say, “Girl, get that lovey-dovey look off your face. All he is saying is that women IN GENERAL should learn to value herself properly!”)
Dinner over, they arrive at Jo Gook’s car. But Mi Rae is a fast learner, and so stays just where she is at. Which leaves Jo Gook a little surprised.
And then he (finally!) remembers.
They stop at a park to take a walk, and one thing leads to another, and lo and behold, they start holding hands.
But the date-to-end-all-first-dates must end, as all dates must end eventually, and Mi Rae reveals that she has caused a bit of a flare-up at City Hall, cancelling the relocation project. Jo Gook’s fears are confirmed, and he is deflated. This is a battle that Mi Rae, even with years of further experience under her belt, may not be able to fight and win. And what’s more, even if Mi Rae wins, something even worse might be coming to take its place, in the form of BB and his mysterious ‘house.’
While Mi Rae has her battle with the Directors in mind, Jo Gook advises her to find her opponents’ weaknesses. Weakness in a guy? No problem. Mi Rae understands right away, so she invites the Directors’ wives over for lunch the next day.
After she had informed all the ladies of the happenings (“Can kids as cute as rabbits grow up by drinking air?”), they all have a “good talk” with their husbands. Ahjumma-power!
But even after their respective beatings from their wives, when the Directors meet with Mi Rae again, they still do not seem to willing to give in. Instead, they call Mi Rae a “temporary guest,” while the Directors will remain long after she is gone. But Mi Rae calmly replies that she has not become mayor just to stay for two years; she has real ideas and plans for Inju City, and she will be there for four more years after her interim term, and then four years after that. Oh, and those resignations? Accepted! Mi Rae dismisses the stunned Directors and orders the remaining staff to bring her all documents regarding the relocation project. Talk about miscalculations…
Meanwhile, we have our first look at the candidates who are running in regular election for a National Assembly seat. The candidates in the running, clockwise from the left: Candidate #1 (the Victory Party), Candidate #2 (Purification Party guy and current Governor), Candidate #3 (the loudmouth from the last mayoral election), Candidate #4 – some copycat candidate claiming to the next Shin Mi Rae, and Candidate #6 (Father Time makes a re-appearance, running as an independent).
Oh, and there’s one more guy, Candidate #5, running as an Independent:
Fancy that! National Assembly candidate Jo Gook has the same number as Mi Rae, when she ran for Inju City Mayor. Jo Gook finds Mi Rae stopped by a poster kiosk on the street, staring at his campaign poster.
Mi Rae: I think it’s amazing that we both got the same candidate number.
Jo Gook: Isn’t it? But of course, I don’t like being No. 5. I was first in academics and first in sports. I have always been No. 1.
Mi Rae: Mi Rae: How funny that no one sees 5 is a good number! You have five fingers. You also have five toes. “Oppa” starts with “oh” (“oh” is the Korean word for “five”).
Basically, all good things in Mi Rae’s opinion start with “oh.” It is a good thing that Jo Gook has found Mi Rae though, as he has serious issues to talk about – the City Hall relocation project, and whether it should be cancelled at all. Though Jo Gook appears in favor of the relocation project (for reasons he doesn’t tell Mi Rae), he does tells her that there are only two ways to kill the project: a) an error in the documents (not likely) or b) the budget not being passed by the City Council (also unlikely). In a cryptic attempt to warn Mi Rae though, Jo Gook notes that even if she manages to kill the project, it is possible that something even worse may take its place. When Mi Rae is confused, Jo Gook can only say, “That’s all I can tell you.”
The following day starts off with an ambush by certain wealthy land-owners, tipped off by Joo Hwa as to the possible cancellation of the project, who then proceed to assault Mi Rae in her very own office.
But again, this only light the fire inside Mi Rae, and she orders all documents relating to the City Hall relocation project to be brought to her. She will not let this one go, not now! Mi Rae is determined to find a way to kill the project, now at any and all cost.
On the other side of town, Jo Gook is busily campaigning as Jung Do pays him a visit. When Jung Do mentions the relocation project, Jo Gook urges his political academy classmate to talk the Mayor into letting it all pass. Instead of giving an answer, Jung Do wants to know from Candidate No. 5, “Why Inju? Why did you choose Inju? There are far more spectacular places. Did you choose it because it’s your hometown… or because of other plans?”
The question remains unanswered. (The growing tension, the expression on Jo Gook’s face, combined with the effective use of the music, is just fantastic!!)
Mi Rae remains at her office till late in the night, trying to find the loophole in the documents, ad interim Jo Gook is trying to get a hold of her. To no avail. Which drives him nuts. “Why aren’t you answering your phone? Are you on a date with that neighborhood oppa? Or did you break your fingers? Can’t even text me?”
But deep in the early hours of the morning, Mi Rae has found what she has been looking for, and in something of a reversal, she goes to the place where she was once the biggest loser. This time though, unlike the last time, she shouts victory at the ocean; and this time, unlike the last time, she actually notices that someone is there waiting for her. Jo Gook is upset, but Mi Rae is in such high spirits that she just bursts out at how well she did – Mi Rae found the smoking gun, the document that proves the the former Mayor Go Boo Shil (whose handwriting looks like a first-grader’s) didn’t sign off the budget for the relocation; it was actually signed by ex-Head Secretary Park.
In the car, ready to go back home, Mi Rae is exultant. But because Jo Gook continues being sulky, Mi Rae has to fasten her seat belt on her own, mumbling, “In movies, the guy always does this for the girl.”
With a sigh, Jo Gook unfastens his seat belt and reaches over.
AND DROPS HER SEAT BACK.
Jo Gook, the wolf: I still have the body contract. You know that I can do all I want from now on, right?
So here we are. A woman and a man. Alone in a car. By the super fateful seawall of Inju City.
My heart did jump of excitement when I saw this, while my brain just screamed, “CLICHÉ!!” But hey, a drama needs some clichéd parts that make you keep watching just because they are so predictable. We lie in wait for clichés. (And everyone who was not anticipating a scene like this at this point and time shall be banned from the drama world.)
Yes, the drama has dropped a couple of hints but we haven’t seen real romance yet, haven’t we…? But this is exactly were City Hall gets really, really interesting, and if you have gone this far, it will not get go of you until the very last frame of the closing credits. Not a single boring second. I promise.
The one to watch for in this episode: Jo Gook.
Jo Gook remains the most twisted figure in this drama. As a viewer, you have no clue what’s going through his mind. Jo Gook had been sent originally to Inju City by BB, who has his own secret plan in mind that he has not shared with Jo Gook. Jo Gook fails to do what he was told, and drops ties with BB. Now it looks like Jo Gook running for the National Assembly seat for himself now, but how does he deal with the fact he KNOWS that BB sent him to Inju City for a reason, and that reason probably does not bode well for Inju City? How does he deal with his own ambitions for political power and office, now that he has fallen for Mi Rae? Jo Gook certainly will not be able to work toward both his desires, can he? His heart beats for Mi Rae but will he be able to protect her if he runs for National Assembly? And certainly, his heart ambivalent, Jo Gook really seems conflicted here in this episode. He advised Mi Rae to find the loophole in the relocation documents if she was sincere about it, although he knew that calling off this project will equal an invitation to BB to come to Inju. But he also asked Jung Do to stop Mi Rae from overturning the relocation. This is the only scene where he actually shows a vulnerable side: Mi Rae has turned into his soft spot and he doesn’t he a clue (yet?) how he can protect her. Interestingly, it’s Jung Do who looks behind Jo Gook’s masquerading.
The overall feeling to this episode was again one of a calm day before the hurricane hits the shore. The general idea has been set: Mi Rae won’t back down to anyone for the well-being of the citizens of Inju, and Jo Gook has (yet) to pick a side to stand on. He is torn between his love to Mi Rae and his own ambition which is tied to Go Hae and BB. Their paths and plans may one day clash.
(samsooki note: first off, I have to give a huge thank you to mead33, who is taking time off as she juggles family, life and work. Mead33 might not be listed at the top of the recaps anymore (then again… she might jump back in??? hopefully??), but without her razor sharp insights and edits, without her editing scalpel that cut away tons of stuff that didn’t need to be in these recaps, this whole project would never have worked. THANK YOU mead33!!! Second, wonderful recap by cleown! Thanks so much to her as well, for pinch-hitting while I was swamped by diapers and figuring out how to stop baby pee from behaving like a water fountain. It is a testament to how much City Hall has affected people positively, that we can have such awesome people giving their time and effort toward producing this labor of love.)
On To Episode 14!