Wish Upon a Star: Episode 8
When I first started watching Wish Upon a Star, I had no idea it would be as winning as it is shaping up to be. We’re still not yet half-done so I won’t make grand proclamations, but it’s doing a great job so far. Particularly with this episode, which was a laugh-out-loud, hilarious, aww-inducing one. Just a short while ago we were all wondering how the heck Kang-ha would be made human, and all of a sudden he broke out and owned this episode. Well, when he wasn’t being owned by the kids.
SONG OF THE DAY
Dyne – “깐따삐야에서 온 소녀” (Girl from Kkanddabbiya). If you listen to this song while walking, I guarantee it’ll put a spring in your step. [ Download ]
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Pal-gang slaps Kang-ha, angry that he would care about his house more than the safety of an injured child. I don’t think he’s actually that callous, but their tempers are running high and she is acting reflexively. They glare at each other.
Young Pa-rang understands the danger of angering Kang-ha and bursts into tears, begging him to forgive his sister. He cries that she didn’t know what she was doing and didn’t mean to slap him, and pleads not to be kicked out of the house.
There’s a slight shift in Kang-ha’s expression, and based on the next scene we can interpret this to mean that he feels bad. In his room, he replays the scene that just happened, but instead of focusing on the fire or his anger, his memory lingers on Pal-gang calling him a heartless bastrd.
Pa-rang keeps sobbing, asking, “If we’re kicked out because of me, what will happen to us?” Pal-gang tries to soothe her brother, then heads to face Kang-ha. She approaches contritely, apologizing for acting out of anger, and asks if his cheek hurts from her slap. Although his answer is sarcastic — “This heartless bastard needs some sleep, so please leave” — the dryness of his response is a good sign. He’s no longer fuming, which Pal-gang takes as a positive sign.
In fact, the mood lifts when she promises to make a full breakfast for him tomorrow (rather than the easier-to-prepare Western-style breakfast). Kang-ha blurts, “And don’t break the yolks on the fried eggs!”
The complaint is so random that it’s funny, and Pal-gang is puzzled, but goes with it. It’s like Kang-ha has been caught off-guard with the sympathy and is now back on solid ground with something to criticize.
Ju-hwang earns 20,000 ($15) on his first night working at the PC room, and walks out happily. Outside, he’s stopped by the three older guys who also work at the PC room, who offer to “hold” the money for him. The threat is clear and Ju-hwang tries to run, but they grab him and kick him to the ground, then steal his money.
Holding back bitter tears, Ju-hwang comes home and tries to keep his bruised face hidden. Pal-gang asks how he got the injuries, wondering if he’s been fighting. Ju-hwang feels angry enough that he takes it out on her and talks back, then storms out the front door. Kang-ha watches the scene from the second floor.
This scene is all sorts of MEH so here’s the nuts-n-bolts: Jae-young is drunk (after Kang-ha’s rejection) and Jun-ha takes her home. She feels silly for feeling depressed when she’s been rejected by Kang-ha repeatedly. She leans on Jun-ha, who (STUPID BOY) seems to feel a surprising stirring of emotion at the gesture. He covers it up and leaves, pausing when Jae-young says: “It would have been nice if it had been you. You’re kind enough to bring tears to a person’s eyes. It would have been nice if it was you. But why isn’t it?”
His voice hardens: “You must be dead drunk to be talking such junk.”
Kang-ha steps outside, where Ju-hwang stands in the cold, and tells the boy to come inside. Kang-ha advises that since he doesn’t have money, he shouldn’t try to run away; he’ll just have to come back home, which chips away at his image.
Ju-hwang answers that he’s not a guy with a cool image worth preserving anyway (so this statement really tells us more about Kang-ha’s thought processes than Ju-hwang’s). Ju-hwang is the second-smallest boy at school, which is why kids pick on him. He’s got no force. He admits that he’d worked at a PC room and gotten robbed.
Kang-ha says that having force isn’t about height, and asks why Ju-hwang didn’t tell his sister the truth. Ju-hwang answers that there’d be no point, sounding glum. Before sending Ju-hwang back inside, Kang-ha leaves him with a parting thought: “You’re not a guy without force.”
Jun-ha comes home in time to see the end of that, and comments sardonically, “Now you’re even chatting with kids. You’ve changed a lot.” Kang-ha grits out defensively, “That family keeps talking to me.” Jun-ha returns, “How unlike you to make excuses.”
That night, the kids sleep tied together to ensure that Pa-rang won’t wander off. This means that in the morning when Kang-ha awakes, he feels around tentatively for a lump that isn’t there. I wouldn’t say he’s disappointed that Pa-rang isn’t there, but he certainly isn’t triumphant, either.
Tae-kyu wakes up from his night of debauchery, and finds a woman in bed and his face streaked with lipstick. He freaks out — why is he here? Why is SHE here? The girl reminds him, “We agreed to get married.”
Tae-kyu is horrified, and feels like he betrayed Pal-gang: “No! Honey, I’m sorry!”
Arriving home, he joins the family in the kitchen. Since this is part of Jun-ha’s plan (to distract Tae-kyu with another girl), he deliberately asks about the girl at the club and their wedding plans. Tae-kyu tries to shush him, thinking he’ll offend Pal-gang. On the contrary, she congratulates him — although Cho-rok, who has been his personal cheerleader, is deeply hurt. She accuses, “I didn’t know you were that kind of guy! Traitor.”
In an act of atonement, Tae-kyu treats the kids to pizza and chicken. The other kids dig in, but Cho-rok refuses to eat, and Tae-kyu resorts to begging for her forgiveness.
Tae-kyu is ashamed of himself and tells Cho-rok that he feels the same way as she does, but reminds her to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” LOL. Kneeling down, he says she’s his only hope. Finally, Cho-rok grudgingly relents: “If you disappoint me again, I won’t even call you oppa.”
The funeral for Pal-gang’s client ends, and the son thanks her for all her help. She wishes she could accompany the funeral party to the burial, but he says she’s already done enough. In fact, he has told his cousin about Pal-gang, and he is expecting her to drop by to talk about insurance policies.
Pal-gang thanks the man for his kindness, and heads to the hospital to check on his mother, who had collapsed in her grief. She sits with the grandma, who cries because she isn’t able to be a part of the burial party for her husband.
Hurriedly, Pal-gang searches for a way to cheer her up, and starts to sing the song she had practiced, the one that the grandma had asked about. Pal-gang launches into her rendition with enthusiasm (not seeing that Kang-ha, who has visited Chairman Jung, sees this from down the hall).
However, this only makes grandma cry even harder, because it’s a song her husband used to sing for her. So Pal-gang hurriedly changes the song and offers a newer, happier tune.
At the end of Episode 5, Kang-ha had driven right past Pal-gang without offering her a ride home. In contrast, today he pulls up to the curb and offers her a ride. (Of course, this is grumpy Kang-ha who has a cool image to preserve, so he does it in a brusque way, saying, “Get in. Can’t you hear me?”) This is so unexpected that Pal-gang scratches her head, wondering why he would bother and what the special occasion is.
Suddenly, she’s gripped with abdominal pains, and asks him to pull over immediately. She can’t wait until they get home — need bathroom now! (He grumbles at the Jin family’s constipation issues; she replies that six siblings sharing a bathroom will do that to you.)
While he waits in the car, he catches a whiff of something odd. Sniffing around, he locates the source: Nam’s diaper needs changing. (I have to give the guy props for actually changing the baby instead of waiting for Pal-gang, but I suppose it’s his perfectionist nature that’s unable to abide dirtiness.)
The diaper is gross (no censoring here!) but hilarious, as Kang-ha struggles to get a new one on the baby. In the process, he gets some poop on his finger, which then gets on his shirt, disgusting him thoroughly.
When she gets back to the car, he sends her off to buy soap to wash his hands, since the bathroom is out of it. Neither has cash but he gives her his credit card. (I love that Pal-gang takes advantage of the moment to suggest that it’s odd to buy one bar of soap with a credit card — so how about she buy some formula while she’s at it? He can take the price out of her pay.)
When she returns with soap, he washes his hands and intends to throw away his shirt. Horrified at that waste, she insists on washing the shirt for him, then dries it with the hand dryer. She doesn’t dry it fully so it’s still a bit damp, but she says it should warm up in no time.
Unfortunately, when they get back to the car, it’s gone. The police take the report, but even they don’t have much hope — she’d left the keys in the car (thinking they’d be back asap), which was just asking for someone to steal it. Kang-ha glowers when the cops assume that he and Pal-gang are a married couple.
Feeling sorry, Pal-gang tells Kang-ha sadly, “You don’t have to give me my pay.” At least she still has her metro card, so they can take the subway home.
Only, well, that’s not such a successful endeavor, either, when a drunk ajusshi vomits all over Kang-ha’s jacket. (You know what elevates the above right pic from funny to brilliant? The big ol’ look of glee on Pal-gang’s face.) It’s bad enough that other subway passengers mistake Pal-gang and Kang-ha for a married couple, but this just makes it that much worse.
Back to the bathroom, where Pal-gang washes his jacket in the sink. Kang-ha wants to throw it away, but she points out that he’ll be freezing in his undershirt and finishes up. Unfortunately, this bathroom’s hand dryer is broken… which means that Kang-ha has to put on a sopping wet jacket.
Kang-ha shivers as they walk down the subway station, and Pal-gang spots a food vendor, suggesting that he warm up with something hot to eat. I LOVE how much Pal-gang is enjoying this, since she digs into fish skewers with enthusiasm. She tries to mollify Kang-ha by piling on the flattery, telling Nam that the lawyer ajusshi is such a nice person! Why, even on the day his car gets stolen, he buys them fish skewers! “When you grow up, you have to become a wonderful person like the lawyer ajusshi!”
While they’re out, how about some ddukkbokki too? Kang-ha doesn’t have much of an appetite, but Pal-gang helps herself to soondae, fried squid, and mandoo on top of that. He’s a little awed and a little disgusted at her hearty appetite. Every time he pays for something, Pal-gang’s go-to phrase is, “You can take it out of my salary.” He reminds her that she’d said he didn’t have to pay her, which deflates her mood for a moment. She asks if he really intends not to pay her, maintaining a hopeful tone that he’ll let her take that back.
Her spirits lift to see another street vendor, this time selling sweet potatoes, which the kids really love. They stop to buy some, and Kang-ha orders 5,000 won’s worth. Pal-gang asks the vendor in a pointed, reluctant tone, “5,000 won won’t buy much, will it? Oh well, give us 5,000 won’s worth anyway.” At this point, it’s not even worth fighting: Kang-ha amends, “Make it 10,000 won.”
They resume walking, Kang-ha hunched over from the cold, now plagued by the occasional sneeze. Grudgingly, he takes a sweet potato from Pal-gang, who asks, “Aren’t you thankful?” He looks at her in puzzlement: “What?”
Pal-gang: “You’ve probably never eaten roasted sweet potatoes from a street vendor before. You would have died not knowing what this was like, but I showed you. I thought you might feel thankful.”
Kang-ha: “The baby’s poopy diapers, losing my car, getting vomited on, walking around in wet clothes in the middle of winter — yes, I’m SO grateful I could die.”
Pal-gang, laughing: “Even though you talk like that, you’re really thankful, aren’t you? So… please give me my salary!”
He’s so lost for words that he just looks at her incredulously.
The kids dig in to the sweet potatoes, although they find it hard to believe that Kang-ha bought it for them. Pa-rang defends him, saying he’s really a nice guy. Cho-rok speaks up for Tae-kyu, who spent much more money on pizza and chicken. No-rang counters that if you only care about money, you’re materialistic. If you consider a person’s feelings, Jun-ha is the best.
Kang-ha is sneezing in earnest now, and when Pa-rang tiptoes into his room, he’s huddled in bed. Pa-rang thanks Kang-ha for the potatoes, and when he notices Kang-ha’s expression, he asks if he’s sick. Kang-ha says he’s not, but it’s pretty obvious that he is.
Pa-rang tells his sister that Kang-ha looks really ill, so she heads up with warm tea.
Kang-ha tells Pal-gang to leave, declining the tea, but she feels bad and approaches anyway. Sitting by him, she asks him to drink the tea. She explains that when she feels sorry, she ends up causing more trouble by overcompensating. For instance, she felt sorry about the dirty diaper, but that ended in him losing his car. She feels so bad about tonight that she couldn’t even say the words, which is why she was acting so chipper in the face of their troubles.
When she checks his forehead, she feels that he’s feverish. However, he tells her repeatedly that he’s fine and that she should leave him alone, making her hesitant to bother him again. Downstairs, she prepares a cold compress for his fever, but paces back and forth, not wanting to upset him by intruding again.
So when Jun-ha comes home, she takes that as good timing — can he take the compress up?
Jun-ha does, and checks on his brother, suggesting that he go to the hospital. Kang-ha doesn’t think that’s necessary, though he’s put out to see his brother smiling. Jun-ha explains that Kang-ha (who is often called Iron Man for his steely personality) finally seems human now that he’s sick.
Jun-ha finds Pal-gang making some warm lemon water, and his expression darkens a little to see her taking such care. He asks suspiciously, “You haven’t given up on him, have you?”
Pal-gang waves that aside, assuring him that she has come to her senses. She just feels bad for causing Kang-ha a lot of aggravation today. She explains, “I’m not going to think of anything else until Nami graduates from university. When I came to live here, I cut my hair in the sauna bathroom and decided: ‘I’m no longer a woman. I’m just a mother now.'”
In the morning, Kang-ha finds the lemon water at his bedside, which he drinks. Next to it is a note, which he reads:
Pal-gang: “When I receive my salary, I’ll buy you really good vitamins. Really, you can believe me. So today, I’ll show that I’m sorry with this lemon water.”
He has to smile at that. Meanwhile, she prepares him the common sickbed meal, rice porridge (which is to Koreans what chicken noodle soup is to Americans).
However, he doesn’t eat any, since he comes downstairs dressed and ready for work. He wastes no time heading out the door, making Pal-gang comment, “You must hate the sight of me because I made you sick.” He returns in his usual gruff way, “As long as you know.”
But that doesn’t hurt her feelings; she merely marvels at how easily he speaks such harsh words.
Grandpa/Chairman Jung has heard the last voicemail of Pal-gang’s father, and is devastated to hear that the Jins died in a car crash. Now that he has recovered his memory, he comes by the old neighborhood, and this time he recognizes Man-soo and asks where Pal-gang went. Hearing that she moved away, the chairman leaves.
A short while later, Pal-gang also drops by the neighborhood to speak to Man-soo’s parents about their insurance policy. Man-soo tells her that Grandpa Jung was just here looking for her, and she rushes in the general direction to look for him.
He’s already gone by the time she gets there, but as she trudges back to the bus stop, she sees his familiar figure waiting at the bus stop, and she calls out to him. His face lights up to recognize her.
As mentioned, Chairman Jung has recovered his memory. After he collapses from hearing the voicemail message, he is taken to a hospital, where he lies in bed, eyes open but not speaking. In-gu doesn’t understand why, but Min-kyung is shrewd and understands that he must have retrieved his senses and is now processing the information.
When he hears that Pal-gang’s (step)father and mother died in a car accident, he’s heartbroken. Not knowing that he has already found out about the deaths, Min-kyung makes arrangements with some shady man, instructing him to tell the chairman that the Jins cannot be found.
Ugh. As though Jae-young weren’t bad enough, we have the appearance of another woman in Jun-ha’s life, who has a similar haircut and just as little charisma. (Seriously, one lackluster, unlikable supporting female wasn’t bad enough, so you had to bring in her clone?)
The woman, who appears to be an old ex, calls him after a three-year absence. He treats her with warm friendliness and meets her at a bar, where they reminisce on their university days. She says that back then, all the girls thought he liked them because he was so nice and attentive, when he was really only being friendly. She asks if Jun-ha would date her if she divorced. He answers easily, “Sure why not.” But when she asks if he’d consider marrying her, he says no.
Going in for the patented Back-Hug, she says sadly, “Do you know, you may seem like a really good guy, but you’re incredibly cruel.”
Chairman Jung replays the voicemail message, which says: “Sir… your son… child… is our…” Thankfully, he’s pretty quick to discern the broken message and calls Kang-ha to do him a favor. He needs Kang-ha to find someone for him, quickly but secretly — his grandchild.
But this isn’t as covert as he’d like, because Min-kyung’s associate (brother?) presents her with a recorder, as he had secretly bugged their conversation.
This was such a delightful, funny, fast-paced episode. A lot of laughs, and some heart, too (boring side characters aside).
And Kang-ha — it’s like he became appealing overnight, isn’t it? I have seen Kim Ji-hoon in a number of roles, and found him handsome and appealing in them all (even if the acting itself has been passable at best). I may have even given him a few nicknames (Mr. Cool, Mr. Hot, Mr. Sexy Bedroom Eyes), so sexy was he in a previous role (Flowers For My Life). So it’s not that Kang-ha’s not a handsome guy, but it just goes to show how much personality has to do with appeal, because this is the first episode where I found Kang-ha (and by extension, Kim Ji-hoon) attractive. He has looked okay on camera and his character has been gradually improving, but this is the first time I really felt the attractiveness come back and add a jolt of energy to his character.
I still wouldn’t call him a great actor, and in fact I’ve been disappointed with his performances because after Flowers For My Life. I really thought he was going to turn out to be a sharper, more skilled actor. But I give him due props here for committing to the earlier Ugly Kang-ha, because he was SO unappealing that I wondered how on earth he’d start warming up. Kim Ji-hoon committed to appearing detestable, and it makes it that much more fun to see that attitude fall away.
Jun-ha has not lost his standing as the nice, sweet brother, although Kang-ha really jumped up several notches to come close to catching up. I suspect that the big reversal in their places will have something to do with Jun-ha being too weak to take a firm stand on something. In contrast, Kang-ha acts with less warmth but he’ll always do it in full measure.
Kang-ha is also making inroads with more of the siblings, namely Ju-hwang, who is perhaps the one in most need of a guiding figure. He’s the one most caught between childhood and adult responsibility, and he feels the burden of being the man in the family. He has also remained conspicuously out of the kids’ arguments over which guy is the best. I think it’s particularly telling that Kang-ha’s conversation with Ju-hwang was one he could have easily avoided. Pa-rang has been the one following Kang-ha around, but with the older brother, Kang-ha is the one who seeks him out and offers him a supportive word.
Speaking of character growth, I like that Pal-gang isn’t doing things just to make herself feel better — she helps out at the funeral because it’s what she feels she can and should do to help. She’s pushed by her boss’s lessons (to be more than “just a stranger” to her clients), but it’s not like she calculates how to win them over. She visits the grandmother and cheers her up out of a genuine spirit. However, I also like that Pal-gang isn’t so selfless and goody-goody that she can’t feel pride in herself for becoming a better person. It doesn’t make her less of a person to realize she’s doing better things now, so it’s cute to see her exulting, as she does after visiting the grandma. She asks Nam, “Doesn’t it seem like your noona is turning into a real person little by little? Hm, what did you say, Nami? — that I was already a person?”