Drama Recaps
City Hall: Episode 15
by | December 15, 2009 | 64 Comments

(written by samsooki, clarity of thought, dissection, boxes of Kleenex and gentle hand-squeezing provided by 0timelost and cleown)

Episode 15 – “The Price of Victory.”

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As amazing and as fun as Episode 14 was to watch, I feel like Episode 15 is deeper, stronger, all-encompassing.  I know that many of you have wondered how I would recap this highly emotional episode, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure how to do it when I started.  Sometimes, you can get too close to the characters.  Sometimes you can get too involved and all you want to do is just watch and not write.  We tend to reveal our inner selves as we write, and writing this recap certainly reveals a lot about the way I think. This episode is titled “The Price of Victory,” because sometimes, when you win at any cost you can actually lose.

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Way back in Episode 10, we began with a delicious three-way showdown among Go Hae, Jo Gook and Mi Rae.  This time around, with BB, Jo Gook and Mi Rae, things aren’t so delicious.  In fact, things are downright scary.  If I weren’t so enthralled by the superlative acting and dialogue, I would have gone underneath my bed, clapped my hands to my ears, closed my eyes and started humming.

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BB has left his sanctuary and shown up in Inju City, generating plenty of media interest.  Ostensibly, he has come out in support of Jo Gook’s campaign.  But in reality, the person he has come to meet is not Jo Gook at all, but Mi Rae. And BB has ambushed both Jo Gook AND Mi Rae by getting both in the same place at the same time. This will not be pleasant, and Jo Gook knows it. And unfortunately for Mi Rae, she is about to find exactly how unpleasant.

Despite early and even unexpected praise for her honest and faithful service to her citizens, BB douses Mi Rae’s fangirlism in less than two minutes.  BB lays his feelings all out in the open:

BB:  I also have heard that there are people who are attached to you that should not be so.  And that is unfortunate…

…Gookie, this child here, he has big ambitions for himself.  Out of his own mouth, he once said that he wanted to have this whole nation.  But how can it be that a man who wants to win an entire nation can let himself be trapped by a mere woman?  And so, Mayor Shin, I would hope that you would not continue to sway him like you are.

Jo Gook (interrupting):  What are you trying to say right now??!

BB (ignoring Jo Gook):  Let me ask you but one thing:  if you had to choose between this child here and the citizens of Inju City, who would you choose?

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Mi Rae:  …

BB:  If you don’t go against my wishes, I can give you many things that will be useful to the citizens of Inju City.  But if you choose the opposite path, then, as poor of a place as Inju City is now, it will be even harder to obtain government funds and subsidies.

Jo Gook (pleading):  Please stop this now!

BB (rousing to anger):  I gave this child the task to place an easy-to-manipulate puppet as Inju City’s mayor, and instead I find that he is the one who has turned into the puppet!  Tell me EXACTLY HOW THE HELL am I supposed to understand this!

It is often said that truth is the most powerful weapon against evil.  But truth, in the wrong hands, said in exactly the wrong way, by exactly the wrong person, is as devastating as any slander, any lie.  Nothing that BB said to Mi Rae was untrue, and yet, this feels wrong.  How can it be that BB speaks the truth, but nothing he says has the ring of true-ish-ness?  In two brief sentences, BB has turned Mi Rae’s world upside down.  At first, BB has praise for Mi Rae, noting that she is a honest and hardworking Mayor.  But less than a minute later, BB completely trashes her.  The message to Mi Rae – this man-child here is worth more to me than you, your principles and your entire pathetic city.

Hastening to action to close the barn door long after the cows have left, Jo Gook gets to his feet and tries to yank Mi Rae out of the room. BB levels another threat – if Jo Gook leaves with Mi Rae, how easy would it be for BB to destroy Mi Rae. Jo Gook has no response to a direct threat on Mi Rae. What can Mi Rae do? She has no support in this room, nobody in this room is willing to stand up for her. What choice does she have but to capitulate? She takes her arm back from Jo Gook’s impotent hand, and gathers the remnants of her dignity. Mi Rae bows respectfully to BB and leaves, her world shattered. Guess who doesn’t follow?

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BB (at Jo Gook):  If that child is broken, then know that it is all because of you.

At last, it’s time to talk turkey between BB and Jo Gook.  Jo Gook lashes out (petulantly), and BB explodes in return:

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BB:  You still don’t get it, do you?!  I thought you were going to do something great when you left me, all crying, and now, in the end, you are going to give up everything for that wench?

BB’s point: Jo Gook was on the path to political stardom before he took a detour, guided by some secretary girl with no proper family background, no education (not even a high school diploma?), no wealth, no connections, nothing.  Unbelievable!  What would it take to get the childish Jo Gook focused again? What does he want from BB?  A piece of candy or a teddy bear to hug?  But Jo Gook, as emotional as we have ever seen him, fires right back.

Jo Gook:  Those (the candy and the teddy bear) are things you should have thought of a long time ago.  I am acting like this for a very simple reason.  I want to see you before me, begging for forgiveness.  You want to run for president, and you’ll need a huge amount of financial backing, right?  And those funds were to come from President Go, right?  And so his daughter Go Hae is the key.  And I hold that key.

BB:  You know all this and yet you still act like a little bitch?

Jo Gook:  And that’s why I am going to dump Go Hae.  Yes, I am going to dump Go Hae.

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Jo Gook:  Dumping women like old shoes is probably in my blood.  You see, my father abandoned my mother.  But at least, I am a better guy, since my father also abandoned his son.  Presidential campaign donations?  DON’T EVEN DREAM IT!

In a word, wow! What powerful, tour de force acting performances by Cha Seung Won and Choi Il Hwa!  One of the things that I think get only minor or partial attention in Korean dramas, is the responsibility of the father to be a positive role model to his son. Far too often, in both dramas and in real life (with the latter reflecting the former, perhaps), Korean fathers tend to treat their sons like military underlings. But sons are not dog soldiers to be ordered about and abused by their fathers. The emotional trauma tucked away for years by Jo Gook is finally bubbling to the surface, and not only do I understand it, I can feel Jo Gook’s pain. But despite all of this, let me say this: if you had to choose a “bad” guy from among the people remaining in the tea room, my guess is that most of you would choose incorrectly. You all THINK you know, but I think you’d all be wrong.

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Hint: the bad guy is not him.

Here’s what I know.  BB has made but one mistake in his life – not taking early and full responsibility for a child that he didn’t anticipate or want.  As Korean fathers of BB’s generation go, however, he may or may not have been more abusive than average (err.. other than abandoning the mother of his child and his child, of course). And even then, like all fathers, BB also did positive things, like shaping Jo Gook’s political career path up until now.  Now let’s look at Jo Gook – what has he done so far? Jo Gook has

1.  adopted a kid strictly to look good (political convenience);
2.  promised to marry Go Hae strictly for her dad’s money (financial convenience);
3.  followed in BB’s footsteps because it was the quickest path to power (political convenience);
4.  then abandoned BB when he finds out that Soo-In was reporting to BB (emotional convenience);
5.  used Mi Rae’s ethics in his speeches though he didn’t believe in them (expediential convenience);
6.  hooked up with Mi Rae despite being engaged to Go Hae (hormonal convenience), and
7.  decided to dump Go Hae simply because he is mad at BB (revenge-lical convenience).

Jo Gook goes around willy-nilly, doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whomever he wants.  And yet everybody else around him, for good or for bad, is consistent.  Go Hae is consistent.  BB is consistent.  Mi Rae is consistent.  Even Joo Hwa is consistent, never committing less than a misdemeanor and never more than a major felony.  What about Jo Gook?  It is extremely hard for me to respect a guy who flip-flops like a burger tended to by an inexperienced griller. I’m not saying that BB deserves to nominated Man of the Year, but between the two of them, Jo Gook is the one who has to shape up, and fast.

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Not all bad guys where black hats and twirl handlebar mustaches.

What is the result now?  BB says, bring it.  Let’s see who wins this.  BB is going to destroy Mi Rae and Inju City.  BB leaves Jo Gook with that on his conscience, and in a k-drama staple move, a shocked Jung Do has overheard the whole exchange…

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Mi Rae walks the streets of Inju City, her heart mangled and torn to shreds.  She has been, from the beginning, a pawn in a power play between BB and Jo Gook.  What hurts more?  That Jo Gook never told her, or that she was foolish enough to believe him in the first place?  And moreover, what did Mi Rae do to deserve this?  All she has ever wanted was to make beloved Inju City into a place that children could grow up strong, healthy and educated, a place where people could make a living wage and be happy.

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The meeting over, Jo Gook runs all around the city trying to find Mi Rae.  Stopping by City Hall, her home, everywhere.  Finally, he runs up the stone stairs to the hilltop where he first held Mi Rae, and there he finds her, she who is heading in the opposite direction.

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Jo Gook:  Why didn’t you answer your phone?  Do you know how worried I have been?

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Seriously??  The first words out of your mouth are about how worried YOU have been?  Look, I know what he is trying to say, and I know how hard it must be for him, a Korean man with every status marker above Mi Rae’s, to apologize and to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness (like he should), but this is total bull-shit, excuse my potty-mouth.  I am upset, because this Jo Gook is supposed to be a man’s man?  How about a baby’s baby?

Mi Rae walks down a few steps until they are nearly eye-to-eye, but not quite, as Mi Rae looks down slightly at Jo Gook (how brilliant is that PD direction, btw).  She smiles sadly at Jo Gook, caressing his cute worried face.

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Mi Rae:  In one night’s dream, we went on a trip together.  And in another night’s dream, we held hands.  On another night, we hugged each other.  On another night, we even fell asleep together.  And then it happened, that…

Mi Rae (continuing):  …that, on different night, just like day, we broke up just like this.

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Jo Gook:  …please don’t treat me so harshly.

Mi Rae (now composed):  You once asked me what I would do if I found you as my opponent.  Shin Mi Rae has already lost to you.  But Mayor Shin cannot lose to you, can she?

Mi Rae tells Jo Gook to go his own path, as Mi Rae will follow hers from now on as well.  She leaves Jo Gook standing there, with nothing but ashes in his heart. 

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I am pretty upset at Jo Gook. Jo Gook, you are child who only knows what you want, you have no clue what it takes to be a leader.  You want to know what it takes to be a leader? Mi Rae’s words are powerful in its elegance and simplicity.  She is saying that her heart has already been given to Jo Gook, but her responsibility as a leader and as a human being takes precedence.  Oh, and by the way, Jo Gook, you have seen this kind of selflessness and integrity before.  You saw it when an unemployed mother of three, Boo Mi, tossed your money back at you, and instead, GAVE YOU all the money that she had in the world so that you would help Mi Rae win the election.  You didn’t understand that kind of integrity then, and I am not sure you understand it now.  Believe me, I am not about to give you the benefit of the doubt. Not after the no-show you pulled in the tea house.

That night, Mi Rae is collapsed on her bed, crying and literally pouring the love out of her heart.  Jo Gook is right outside, helplessly listening to those cries.  Does he finally understand that he, and nobody else, not BB and not Go Hae or anyone, is the cause of Mi Rae’s cries?

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The next day, the breakup is complete.  Jo Gook finds the very last gift from Mi Rae on his fence.  It is his jacket, the jacket that he had given to Mi Rae to shield her ripped dress that day of the one-woman protest.  It is the jacket that Mi Rae danced with, with Jo Gook secretly watching from afar.  Things were okay for Mi Rae, before Jo Gook. She was strong enough to keep herself going, when fourth class bung-holers were throwing eggs at her, throwing tomatoes at her. She was strong enough when all of City Hall was against her. She did not need Jo Gook’s help. But how bad has it become, now that she has started to rely on someone else, believing that Jo Gook had her back?  Mi Rae is saying to Jo Gook, You weren’t there when I needed you. But that’s alright. It is fine, I will believe in myself now. Shin Mi Rae might have lost, but Mayor Shin doesn’t need some invertebrate to support her.

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Side plottings –

Her hand forced by Jung Do, Joo Hwa signs divorce papers. Jung Do only wants Joo Hwa to stop behaving so badly, but Joo Hwa has turned into the woman scorned and now there is no stopping this runaway train.  Logically, Joo Hwa blames Mi Rae for Jung Do’s divorcing her (true enough, if you accept the premise that being a career criminal is an attractive quality to have as a wife), and makes it her sworn duty to block whatever it is that Mi Rae is trying to accomplish. Truly, there is no greater motivation in this universe than spite.

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BB meets with Go Hae, spilling the beans that Jo Gook intends to dump her.  Go Hae goes from being elegant and pleasant, to being crazy livid, and then Go Hae and BB point fingers at the other for this fiasco. 

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Taking a moment to calm herself, Go Hae returns to being pleasant and plotting. She doesn’t care that Jo Gook wants someone else. She still wants Jo Gook, as she sees him as a very nice trophy husband, the kind of trophy that might lead her into the Blue House. It is a rather twisted reason to want to get married, but there are worse reasons to marry, and worse reasons to break up. Go Hae is not one to take defeat so easily, and she tells BB not to worry as she will turn into a fox to get her man back.

Back to Mi Rae and Jo Gook –

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Jo Gook has one last speech to give before the election, but during the speech he spots a baendaengi brooch on a woman who has her face covered by a newspaper.  Jo Gook realizes who it is immediately. 

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He abruptly stops speaking in the middle of his speech, and Mi Rae realizes Jo Gook sees her, and quickly turns to go.  Jo Gook restarts his speech before she can leave, and this time, he speaks entirely for her ears and for her benefit. 

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Jo Gook:  And so now, I have to make a decision.  Do I ignore you who is naïve and easily pushed around, and give you up for my own happiness?  Or do I suffer for your happiness?

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Jo Gook:  Who can make such a decision easily?  While this choice will cause me to lose many things, I am more afraid of losing you.  And so, even if you cannot stand with me, I hope you won’t stand so far away from me.  Even if you are standing against me, I hope you can stand a little closer to me.

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Mi Rae lingers just a bit longer, but then walks away, never turning back around.  His speech over, Jo Gook follows her, finally catching up to her when she accidently causes an accident with a water truck. Using this as an opportunity to plead his case, Jo Gook begs Mi Rae not to go away, but to stand close.  This is the first time in his life that he wants to live differently.  If she cannot beat BB, then Jo Gook will beat him for her.  Mi Rae’s reply is basically the theme of this recap:

Mi Rae:  But how will you fight BB for me?  You didn’t even have the courage to take me out of the room in front of him.  And even after I had suffered that much insult from him, you didn’t even have the guts to chase after me.  What are you going to use to fight him?  Are you even elected as a National Assemblyman?  What have you done in your life?  I beg you, stop being delusional.

You’re an intelligent and beautiful man.  What woman wouldn’t be interested in you?  Just receive this breakup as the price you must pay for being so handsome.  You said this before, that the result is more important than the process, right?  This is your result.  This is the result of you trying to create a puppet mayor.  So just accept it.

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Jo Gook has no words in response.  How could he?  And haven’t I been saying this all along?  Of course, if I were on Jo Gook’s side, I would be whispering – “Man up and accept this… for now. But don’t give up, she still loves you, and you can still win her back. Don’t give up. She is worth it. You just have to become a better man than you are now…

Election Day arrives, finally.  Mi Rae steps in the voting booth.  Staring at the ballot, she runs her finger across Jo Gook’s name, caressing it. She makes the tiniest of smiles and softly whispers the most awesome thing that makes me tear up:

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Mi Rae:  You stupid puppy dog…  hwai-ting!

The votes are coming in, and as expected, Jo Gook overtakes his nearest rival, the former Governor of the province.  He has won!

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Go Hae, watching on television from her luxury apartment, looks pleased at the success of her fiancé.  Step one for her path to the Blue House is complete.

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She is preparing a very special night for the two of them in celebration.  It looks like she is planning on their first night of intimacy and consummating their relationship before marriage.  One wonders whether she actually has feelings for Jo Gook (after all, in Mi Rae’s words, what girl wouldn’t be interested), or whether she just wants to have Jo Gook as a trophy.

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But Jo Gook has other ideas.  He has rented a house of his own for his own celebration, and has finagled a way to get Mi Rae to come by ordering delivery. 

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Mi Rae is not amused with Jo Gook’s tricks, but Jo Gook pleads with Mi Rae to stay, saying that he loves her.  Twice she pulls away, but finally, Mi Rae agrees to stay. 

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Still, Mi Rae wants Jo Gook to know that there is a price for everything.  And this time, the price is that Mi Rae has to just keep hiding from sight, has to keep pretending, lying to everyone, so that nobody knows that they in love with each other.  The price of Jo Gook’s happiness is that Mi Rae has to pretend that she is nothing.  She is willing to pay that price for Jo Gook.

And Mi Rae adds that she might be a typhoon to Jo Gook, but she is also a typhoon to Inju City, and responsible for 130,000 men, women and children.  But to give in to Jo Gook’s desires, to give in to her desires, as crazy it might be, she is willing to do so for Jo Gook. But she has one condition. Just one small condition. Just one promise that Jo Gook has to keep, even if he fails everything else in his life with respect to Mi Rae.

Mi Rae:  Me, I am strong enough to deal with all of this.  I can deal with you.  I can’t make the choice between Inju City and you, because I can’t give up on my citizens or on you.  So, I will deal with everything. 

And so, down the road, please don’t say “It isn’t your fault that I am leaving.”  Please don’t run away from me.  Please don’t ever push me away.  Understand?

All Mi Rae is asking from Jo Gook is not to treat her like trash, if they do finally end up breaking up again. Don’t say those words that would cut into my heart. That’s all I ask….

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With that, Jo Gook sweeps Mi Rae into his arms, and well, at least for a night, they leave their problems (and a bit later, their clothes) behind.

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And meanwhile, still waiting in her “I don’t plan on wearing this dress for long” dress, Go Hae is stood up.  Without a phone call.  Without any text or email.  Go Hae is now angry, as any stood-up fiancé would be angry, but more so because it would only take one guess for her to win on the new FOX smash hit reality game show, “Guess Where Your Fiance is Tonight!” Go Hae will not stand for it. 

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She will make Jo Gook pay for his victory.  She makes a single phone call to a certain slimeball… Go Hae has set a bomb that is set to explode with pictures of her and Jo Gook together in a hotel.  

Meanwhile, Joo Hwa, embittered and truly angered by Jung Do refusing to settle for a serial felon for a wife, has declared war on Mi Rae’s administration by getting the City Counsel to filibuster her entire budget and plans for the future.  She will make Mi Rae pay for her string of victories, including breaking up Joo Hwa’s marriage. Hell hath no fury like a serial criminal scorned…

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As strong as Mi Rae is, will she be strong enough to deal with everything?  Jo Gook’s political life, Mi Rae’s dreams for Inju City, and the love that each has for the other… will all of it go up in smoke on the same day?

Comments -

Cha Seung Won and Kim Sun Ah are astonishing in this episode, with both creating characters that are so memorable, so interesting, so realistic.  I can’t say enough about both actors here.

The character of Jo Gook is really something.  He is such a flawed human being.  He is emotionally under-developed and damaged goods due to his traumatic abandonment as a child, and yet he grows up to being this incredibly well-balanced and stable individual… at least on the outside.  But on the inside, he is a selfish prig, so focused only on what makes him happy, on what his interests are.  He is what many successful people are like – so devoted to themselves that they cannot see beyond their noses as how their actions will affect others.  It is what has made them successful, this narrow focus, but it has also made them into second-class bungholes.

And with our heroine, Mi Rae, she is just amazing.  Whenever she is put down, whenever she is attacked, she fights back with ever more determination.  And each time she fights, she gets stronger.  She challenges Joo Hwa, and gets fired.  So she challenges the administration, and gets her friend Boo Mi fired.  So she challenges the Mayor, and finally, strong enough, she wins her first battle.  And then she is put down again, and ends up running for Mayor and winning.  Then she brings down a whole system of corrupt municipal government.  And now she is fighting against BB and Go Hae.  But has she really gotten strong enough to beat both of them, while protecting Inju City, Jo Gook and their relationship?

The person to watch for in this Episode:

I have to say, Choi Il Hwa’s portrayal of BB is so intense, so scary, so much like the father-in-law from hell, that I have to give him…. second place in the award for Person To Watch For. Hehe!

Of course, the person to watch for in this episode is Mi Rae!  While much of the credit has to go to the writers of this drama, who have created such a strong character in Mi Rae, it is Kim Sun Ah who gives the character 3-dimensional depth and shading. I might have said this in earlier recaps, but it bears repeating here. I don’t think there is another actress who could have played the character of Mi Rae.

The scene on the hilltop stone staircase is so heart-breaking, it gets difficult to swallow and I tear up sometimes when I watch it. Mi Rae, whose heart is so large, has a fundamental weakness in that the larger a person’s heart, the more the person hurts when it breaks. Jo Gook has truly broken her heart, and the pain would be unbearable to all but the strongest of persons. It is a lucky coincidence that Mi Rae is strong enough to bear that pain, but it doesn’t mean that she should have had to bear it. Shame on Jo Gook for being a coward, for trying to win at everything without weighing the potential consequences to people other than himself.

This is why Mi Rae’s principle for living is that a person should win when he or she is defending a righteous position, and lose otherwise. If you win all the time, then there will be a price to pay for victory.

On To Episode 16!

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64 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. langdon813

    Okay…reading this made me tear up, I admit it. Great job, samsooki, truly! You didn’t just do this episode justice, you took it to a whole new level. Thank you!

  2. ena

    im so excited to see ur update!!!

    this is such an awesome recap, beautifully written!

  3. ena

    thank you for the recap! its so beautifully written ;)

  4. Miu

    Err, # 6 on the list didn’t occur until the end of this episode…
    Thanks for the recap though. I really enjoy reading your insightful thoughts on each significant scene.

  5. Samsooki

    @3, actually, by hook-up, I was talking about the PG-13 version of “hook-up,” which occurred in the previous episode with “The Kiss.” Sorry for the confusion!

  6. Miu

    ahhh gotcha! I guess we all have different definitions of hook up. ^___^” hehe.

  7. Samsooki

    Back in the day, “hook-up” just meant holding hands… lol. How things have changed!

  8. diane

    I agree with everything langdon813 said. I felt my stomach tighten while reading your insightful recap. You truly have a way with words. Thank you.

  9. Elean

    Oh, I planned to watch this again during the dreary cold winter months, now I have to go back and read all the recaps first – which I had not done – Samsooki, your work is superb.

  10. 10 all4movies

    Episode 15 was very intense.

    Your ability to deconstruct Jo Gook the baddie is awesome. Must be that legal background of yours. A few more episodes to go until the exciting conclusion.

    If you don’t finish it before Christmas, that’s understandable as it is your baby’s first.

  11. 11 langdon813

    Just reread and yes, it’s just as good if not better the second time around!

    Also, (shallow, but…) kudos for managing to get a shot of them in bed that wasn’t totally obscured by candles! No mean feat, because I think we’re talking mere milliseconds when they weren’t completely hidden! :-D

  12. 12 AnitaLotti

    Now that we have entered the intense stage of the drama, I appreciate your recaps even more they always shed light on aspects I haven’t though about before.

    Thanks!

  13. 13 robotmatsuri

    Thank you for another fantastic recap Samsooki, 0timeslot and cleown! Like others have already said, though I’ve seen this episode countless times, I totally teared up while reading your recap.

    Choi Il Hwa’s BB is really something, he is so scary that I remember shivering while watching him–especially in the later episodes. I also remember the point of heartbreak (for me) was when BB revealed that SMR was set up as a puppet mayor… Oh, and totally bawling during the break-up scene on the stairs and the jacket returning scene. SMR is so commendable & selfless. She is able to give up JG for her citizens, I don’t know if I could do that…

    I love this episode because of the amazing lines that JG has… seriously, great job from Scriptwriter Kim!

  14. 14 Penn

    Thank you, Samsooki, for a wonderful recap.

  15. 15 hanjanman

    No. I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m already a grown-up. A grown-up MAN, for god’s sakes. But, but, waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! I’m doing a classy kdrama-esque ‘teardrop in one eye’ from the outside, but I’m an absolute wreck from the inside. It felt like how it felt when I first saw this episode. Like being thrown a big bowling ball straight to the chest. This was just good stuff. Good stuff. Samsooki, well done!

    6. hooked up with Mi Rae despite being engaged to Go Hae (hormonal convenience)

    LOL!

  16. 16 celestialorigin

    This is the first thing I’m reading after getting home and Woah! it’s totally worth it! So beautifully written with luv and keen observations Thank you Samsooki! You are the star!

  17. 17 CJ

    I love your recaps! They’re awesome! The last one was what made me start watching this drama and in the midst of finals I finished all 20 episodes in three days. It’s such a good drama and I loved it so much! I was scared at first that when she was delivering the chicken she’d meet Go Hae . . . but glad I was wrong and got that touching scene instead.

  18. 18 deannadsc

    thank you for continuing your “City Hall” recaps, Samsooki!!! Though I’ve re-watched CH 4times already…your recaps have made me want to watch it all over again!!!
    I still believe CH is the best drama this year…then YAB, of course!!!
    Happy Holidays to you , your wife & your “little bundle of joy”!!!

  19. 19 skelly

    This is actually my favorite episode – not because of the er, hook-up, although that is superbly handled (no pun intended! really!) but because it is in this episode that the true conflicts are clearly delineated, the battle lines drawn. We now know where everyone stands, how much they have to win or lose, what they value and what they may have to give up. It was this episode that put me on a careening, bleary-eyed marathon through the final 5 episodes, ending at 4 in the morning, drained but happy. It feels like an unstoppable roller-coaster, here on in.

    Thanks so much Samsooki and company, for not only allowing me to re-live this great series, but providing fresh, insightful analysis. I can’t wait to share this with my husband, who will agree vehemently with everything you said about Jo Gook (whom he never trusted, and who is clearly unworthy).

  20. 20 Lucille

    Thank you for the recap. On an unrelated side note. I giggle every time you write Mayor Shin. It makes me think of the musical the Music Man.

  21. 21 cingdoc

    Wow…it never ceases to amaze me how well you write these recaps, not just one particular one, but each and every one. Like others, I have watched CH more than once, but as I was reading this episode’s recap, I was once again drawn to the world of Mirae and Jo Gook, BUT this time from a different, no , it’s clearer perspective. Thank you (and your fellow recappers) for your hard work…I think all this makes me want to watch the drama again, but only AFTER I have finished reading ALL 20 recaps…this way, I would watch it through a new point of view :)

  22. 22 sueyip

    Thanks for yet another beautifully written recap, Samsooki and team, And thanks for touching on the scene when MiRae pulled her hand away. Gosh, I was NOT observant at all. After watching that scene so many times, I still thought that it was JoGuk who let go of her hand. I must watch that again. My admiration for Kim Sun Ah grew after watching this episode. She really could portray all those tearjearking and sorrowful scenes so effectively …. real excellent acting skills.
    She should be given the Best Actress Award at the end of the year. Am praying hard for her.

  23. 23 Sherrie in HB

    Thank you, thank you. I had watched this but it is nice to read about this eps. Because I am reading the subtitle but I sometime miss some points. Whereas your recap is really making sense in the parts I have miss.

    Thank you so much for all your hard work and I know I really appeciate this.

  24. 24 momosan

    Now I must go rewatch. BB was so darned scary that I missed some of that.

  25. 25 cecee

    I love love love this episode. After reading your recaps, it makes me want to watch it for the 10th time! This is my absolute favorite episode! All of the actors are so strong. Great acting from all angles.

    Samsooki, your recaps are really funny and amusing. Witty. Great job guys! Looking forward and patiently waiting for the next one!

  26. 26 sueyip

    Oooops, forgot to mention that Cha Seung Won acted very well too. His tears make me tear too. He should be given the Best Actor Award as well. And,
    Samsooki, your analysis of his character was wow! But guess MiRae is his
    first and only love and he is perhaps finding difficulty to cope with that. He is just not himself now …… his heart is with MiRae.

  27. 27 gra

    Thank you so much for the recap. It makes me think over again about Jo Gook in this episode how he was so easy to manipulate Mi Rae.

    I love when you write “If you had to choose a “bad” guy from among the people remaining in the tea room, my guess is that most of you would choose incorrectly. You all THINK you know, but I think you’d all be wrong”.

    Can’t wait for next recap. Very very appreciate for your hard working.

  28. 28 sunandmoon

    Thank you for the excellent recaps. After reading them, I’ve decided to start watching this series. ^^

  29. 29 Tarits

    Wow – I never realize how we could use the word “convenience” in so many ways. And what a good lesson on how to use the word! I like it when you said “hormonal” convenience. No one would have thought of this except you Samsooki. Perfect lesson indeed of the word “convenience”. I am always in awe each time I read your recap. And as usual, my imagination wanders to the episode described. I am hating BB even more! GH? GH who?
    Thanks Samsooki for another excellent recap!

  30. 30 shienice

    i spent 2 days to finish this drama over last weekend. This drama is so amazing and interesting and awesome that i would say this is the best one in 2009. Both main leads are so good and their chemistry is simply sparkling. CSW is sexy and hot like a fire. His stares and kiss really melt my heart. KSA – her acting is so natural which makes me feel like she is one of my friends in reality. Thank you sooo much for your recap which gets me know more details and understanding that i coudn’t catch up with when watching it.

  31. 31 rambutan

    Hi Samsooki, you finally did it! Episode 15! Awesome it, awesome you! And I’ll say it again: “If there is one scene, one line, one episode which is so good that makes the whole series worth watching, episode 15 is it!”.

    And Merry Christmas. I’ll be missing for 5 weeks starting next week. Going to a place where there’s (almost) no internet.

    Hwaiting to your other episodes, won’t miss them for the world!

  32. 32 Aries

    Thanks for another great recap, Samsooki and team! It was due to all the raves on this blog that I first started watching City Hall about 2 months ago, and it’s my favourite drama of the year to date, beating You’re Beautiful (but I haven’t watched other potential contenders: Brilliant Legacy and Smile, You). Others have expressed their enjoyment of your team’s insightful recaps much more eloquently than I ever could have, so I’ll just stop here and thank your team for all your hard work.

    Looking forward to episode 16′s recap!

  33. 33 jastinel

    Bravo… Brilliant recap!
    Thanks again and again!

  34. 34 31pop

    I don’t usually cry watching dramas or movies but i remember getting teary eyed watching this episode and again while reading the part of Mirae’s crying bout on her bed. I feel for her! Excellent recap! Thank you again!!

  35. 35 epyc

    Dear Team Samsooki

    The re-cap of the best ever episode of Kdramas in my book is finally here! I can’t say enough of my appreciation and admiration of an exquisite recount which is “powerful in its elegance and simplicity”, plus the additional insights offered by Mr S.

    Jo Gook is indeed a ‘convenience’ man. I fully agree with your observations. He is the first ever male character in Kdramas that I feel so unsure about until almost the very end. I suppose he is really caught up in a typhoon that he has never seen coming and lost his plot. We are seeing this mighty formidable man from Ep 1-14 crumpling down in this episode with his vulnerability fully exposed. He is no doubt a badass but can he redeem himself in the remaining episodes? That was the very question high on our mind when watching this drama for the first time. Cha Seung Won is simply divine in this role portraying all the nuances in JG being a coward, damaged soul, and hopeless lover all at once. Certainly a most memorable character in Kdrama history.

    This is also the episode that seals the deal for me that Shin Mi Rae is my all time favorite heroine. It is a very well scripted character but it is Kim Sun Ah that brings her alive and makes her believable. What a wonderful woman who only becomes stronger and more determined everytime a challenge is thrown upon her! Each step up, she rises to the challenge with her fighting spirit and sense of righteousness. You need no other woman role model than this.

    Skelly is absolutely spot on. This is the episode where “the true conflicts are clearly delineated, the battle lines drawn”. I asked myself when watching this episode “is it for real, can a drama be that good that it pulls your nerve and tugs your heart from so many different angles??” It is heartbreaking but uplifting at the same time when SMR delivers the memorable line of “Shin Mi Rae lost as a person but not Shin Mi Rae the Mayor’. I love, love the staircase breakup scene. It is visually stunning to have the green leafy background with SMR wearing white for the righteousness she stands for and JG in grey as the person he is. Here, SMR is the one in control standing atop JG to deliver her breakup decision.

    Almost every scene in this episode is so memorable including those for the supporting cast like JD/JH’s divorce paper talk, BB/GH’s talk which is fascinating as to who is the boss here. I wish we could have here a photo of the water truck scene where JG is walking a street apart keeping an intense gaze on the unsuspecting SMR.

    I don’t know how others feel but I really enjoy all the election rallies scenes and speeches in City Hall (maybe because I’m a political junkie :)). Lastly, who will forget the many words-of-pearl lines in this episodes! This is drama at its best – so layered and rich in sight and sound to savour at so many levels. One watch is never enough to pick up the delicacies here!

    It is a road for no return from now on, and look forward to the next re-cap. Thanks again: Samsooki, 0timelost, and cleown!

  36. 36 Sere

    thanks, Samsooki, I hadn’t even considered some angles you brought up.

    I’m not sure I completely agree with you on Jo Gook being the real bad buy, but I shall ponder more about this for you really did wrote some interesting things that I didn’t even think about when I watched CH.

    However, I DO agree that no other actress could’ve played Mi-rae as well as Kim Sun Ah. She was simply amazing. You teared up while watching the drama? Who didn’t? I even teared up while reading this episode review! That’s how powerful her performance and Cha Seung Won’s were. :)

    Re: the breakup scene and Jo Gook’s “Do you know how worried I have been?”. I really appreciate your point here -this is one of the things I hadn’t thought about- but the way I read the scene and that line was more along the lines of how worried he was FOR her. True, his words, those words, said then, after the tea-room scene and after his actions -or should I say inaction?- sound a bit hollow and yet, if he hadn’t said them, I’d have been disappointed. Well, more disappointed. What? Not only he doesn’t take her side against BB right away (and I’m convinced he couldn’t have done anything that wouldn’t have ended in disaster for all the people included, but that’s beside the point), but he’s not even worried after she disappears? Oh he damned better be AT LEAST worried for her.

  37. 37 sunahforever

    This is my favourite Chapter…so beautiful, so brilliantly acted and so emotional.
    And getting teary?? My God, I cried my heart out…so so sad…KSA is the most fabulous actress in the world…never seen her act in such a capacity as most of her roles were comedic. This shows the sensitive side of her…am totally in love with her…BEST ACTRESS, here we come!!!

  38. 38 Norma

    Thanks Samsooki for your analysis on this episode! This was major award winning acting….and I have to stand and say HANA HOU (one more time) to Kim Sun Ah for bringing Mi Rae alive! Wow….

    What an intense and stressful episode….I really wanted to slap the smile off Jo Gook’s face after MiRae left his bedroom!!!!! AAAArrrggghhhhhh…….

    Samsooki….you are the best!

  39. 39 Madita

    Thank you for the great recap samsooki.
    I have to admit you are right with your words about JG when he was with BB. I also wanted him to run after SMR, but I was also so satisfied about how he finalliy turned against BB and GoHae. It was like, dont mess up with her.

    But your recap gave me a different angle of view about the scene and JG.
    You really scratched JG’s charisma :) But it made him more human to me.

    Regarding BB, dont you think that he also tried to use JG as his personal puppet, relying on their blood bond and this son-father obeying rules. And that JG maybe did finally find a way, a chance to fire back to him, thanks to SMR? Of course he acts selfish by using SMR. But luckily SMR is more just than a puppet, maybe he teached her about politics, but she silently teached him to becoma a true man.

    Ahh there are so many things about this drama you can think about, analyize, I cant get enough about your recaps and other friends comments here.
    This is definetly the best drama for years I have ever watched.
    CSW an KSA should win all best-acting awards for 2009 for this drama. Such an excellent acting deserves all.

    Best drama, too. Because I never cried, laughed, had so much changing emotions in a single Episode of a drama in common. But CH did this nearly with each Episode to me. Wowwww

    Best screenplay too…In this Episode JG election speech is one of the best scenes I will never ever forget. Brilliant.

    edit: sorry for my bad english :(

  40. 40 mtoenlob

    Thank you, samsooki and team, for consistently providing us with such wonderful recap. As always, your recaps are literary pieces within themselves. Beautifully written yet concise and thoroughly insightful. You have made reading recaps a pleasure and a learning experience. You have indeed brought it to the next level!

    You’re right, it is easy to pinpoint BB as the fellow from hell. At this point, it could be Jo Gook through and through. But, looking at the bigger picture it could be otherwise. BB is the root cause of Jo Gook’s complex behaviour. The emotional trauma brought about by his own father’s rejection far more outweigh the fact that “ And even then, like all fathers, BB also did positive things, like shaping Jo Gook’s political career path up until now.” However, was this act of BB done out of respect for Jo Gook as a person? Forget about fatherly love! It most likely does not exist in BB’s dictionary. Such act was done only to feed his own personal greed. Wasn’t his “shaping Jo Gook’s political career path” more for the benefit of his own personal political advancement? In a sense, Jo Gook is BB’s puppet. In BB’s eyes, Jo Gook is neither a son nor a person but only a tool or a means to bring him closer to his obsession.

    Your dissection of Jo Gook gave me a new insight and made me better understand the complexity of his character. It made him more human than ever. We can fault him for not taking a stand when he should have but then if we understand where he is coming from we would have a better appreciation of him as a human being. He makes an interesting dissertation in psychology.

    In terms of acting performance, this episode is the magnum opus for Kim Sun Ah, Cha Seung Won and Choi Il Hwa. The scene between father and son is a testament to CSW and CIH’s level of acting skills. Just the look on BB’s face could bring shivers of terror. The verbal exchanges tempered with the imminent tension, I wouldn’t be surprise if my computer screen explodes by the sheer force of their performance. Kim Sun Ah is not to be outdone. In many of her scenes, she has effectively delineated her character with conviction sans histrionics. Subtle acting yet hitting all the right emotions.

    Again, thank you.

  41. 41 asianromance

    thank you so much for the recaps! it was like watching City Hall all over again!

  42. 42 mzpakipot

    I did a rewatch on this episode and I must say that it made me cry from the stairway break-up scene up until the part when Jo Guk listening to Mirae’s cry and the look on his sorry self.

    Best campaign speech ever!

    Love it when Jo Guk’s flirting with Mi-rae’s hand while reporting to him. Love the little smile Jo Guk gave to Mi-rae.

    What would you call their first night together? A make-up love-scene? :P

  43. 43 Kat

    Thank you for the recaps, I wasn’t even watching this show, but thanks to you guys I LOVE it now!!

  44. 44 ockoala

    Thanks for another outstanding recap, samsooki and team! I’m so wiped out mentally that it’s all I can say right now. But CH episode 15 is……wow……yup, best episode of drama I have ever seen.

  45. 45 tas82

    Thanks for another brilliant recap guys. These recaps are as much of an emotional rollercoaster as the epsodes themselves. Like others I must admit I did tear up reading it and got mad all over again, damn u JG. The acting in the episode again was bloody brilliant. BB really did make your skin crawl, imagine having that as an in law, doesnt bear thinking!
    If City Hall end 09 with no awards it really would be a travesty.

    Can’t wait for ep 16 recap! Thanks again.

    Happy Holiday’s, guys. have a good one!!!!!

  46. 46 frac

    Great episode and great recap, thank you.
    Monstrous BB, powerless Jo Gook and their victim Mi Rae : the tea room scene is truly memorable.

    I can’t agree on who is the bad guy. BB is just monstrous, i.e. not human, extraneous to human lives, human feelings. While Jo Gook may be flawed but he becomes more and more human as the story progress.

    Am I the only one to be a little bit disturbed by Mi Rae’s quick change of heart in this episode? She broke up with Jo Gook because of BB’s ultimatum, so why did she come back to him so quickly?

    IMO there’s a childlike side in love.
    In the end of the episode, I love the way they try to create a refuge, a childlike world (secret, hidden, unknown from the ‘evil’ BB) where they would be free to love each other.
    Will it resist the real world?

  47. 47 dee

    read this pages makes me love Cha Seung Won deeper..and deeper..and deeper…hehehehe…..love this drama very much….

  48. 48 dee

    read this pages makes me love Cha Seung Won, deeper..and deeper..and deeper…hehehe…love this drama very much

  49. 49 amore

    City Hall and You’re Beautiful rocks! Between them I can’t seem to be able to choose. They were beautifully executed and both have managed to leave a deep and long-lasting impressions.

    Love the review. Insightful. You’ve managed to add such depth into it. Thank you!! Beautifully written! The ‘WOW’ factor!! You’ve never cease to amaze me!

  50. 50 shin mi rae

    thank you samsooki…

    although im surprise you didnt linger on the “bed scene”. you melted (like all of us) on The Kiss in episode 14. but i wonder what is your take on the bed scene? these two actors are just the greatest… best kdrama ever!

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