This drama just keeps speaking to me — I can really relate to its characters and situations in a way that I generally can’t in most other dramas. I’m not 34 (yet!) and I don’t work in any of these professions and I’m not nearly as glam and awesome as these ladies, but the situations and feelings are pretty accessible. I wonder if this makes it LESS accessible to people outside its target — as in, males or younger girls/women who aren’t yet thinking about their careers — but as an independent woman trying to balance my own life, there’s a lot that rings true. (It’s just tweaked to maximize the humor and has more fabulous clothes than in real life, of course!)
SONG OF THE DAY
The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry OST – “눈물이 별되어” (Tears become stars) [ Download ]
EPISODE 10 RECAP
When Shin-young sees Sang-woo at the sauna, she excuses herself from Min-jae and follows him out. She doesn’t lie — what Sang-woo saw was what it looked like — and starts to explain that she won’t make excuses for her behavior. Sang-woo cuts her off, not in the mood to hear this, and leaves.
Shin-young rejoins Min-jae, withdrawn now. She merely says she’s tired, and as they listen to music together, she murmurs to herself, “It’s better this way.”
Sang-woo drives home in a glum mood, and notices Sang-mi on the street hailing a taxi. Curious, he follows her to a hotel, keeping at a distance as he trails her inside the building. He watches in concern as an obviously upset Sang-mi makes her way upstairs and finds her way to a particular room.
Sang-mi hesitates at the door before knocking, as though mustering her courage to confront her fear. And when the door opens, her reaction confirms that it must be a damning sight. Without a word, she turns and hurries down the hall, stumbling to the ground in her haste.
Sang-woo calls her name and goes to her side — but seeing him here adds mortification to the hurt she’s already feeling, and Sang-mi rushes off.
Sang-woo races downstairs after her, and finds her sitting outside in the cold. Apologetically, he explains that he saw her taxi and followed her here without thinking. (It’s worth noting that despite his claims that Shin-young is his soulmate, Sang-woo’s emotions regarding Sang-mi seem sincere in a fundamental, heartfelt way that we don’t see with Shin-young.)
Sang-woo kneels before her to put her fallen slipper back on her foot and covers her with his coat. He offers to take her home.
Sang-mi sighs, “It’s not the first time, but today is the first… Today isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a call that my husband was seen with another woman, but today was the first time I’ve come to confirm it. Today I wanted to see it for myself.”
The meaning of this isn’t lost on Sang-woo. Sang-mi has been ignoring her husband’s infidelity because she feels that her life has peaked and there’s no point to confrontation. But this statement suggests that Sang-mi finally has something (or someone) to look forward to, and finally wants to confirm that her marriage is over.
Sensing this, Sang-woo leans in and kisses her. She doesn’t recoil, but a few seconds later she breaks it off, apologizing. She breaks down in tears and asks him to take her somewhere, anywhere.
Sang-woo takes her to his apartment, where she sits numbly in the dark. When he moves to flick on the lights, she asks him not to.
The mood is tense and grave; Sang-mi asks, “Don’t treat me well. Don’t praise me, either. Being doted on is awkward for me.”
She gets up to leave, but Sang-woo grabs her hand and says, “Don’t go.” He looks at her intently, hovering for a moment with his face close to hers, which gives Sang-mi the opportunity to pull away… but she doesn’t, and Sang-woo kisses her. She even reaches up on tiptoe to meet him.
And then, omo! Bedtime already? I wasn’t expecting their relationship to move so fast, but I suppose they’re the most “mature” storyline. A tear escapes from Sang-mi’s eye, and the camera lingers on the ring on her finger, showing us that Bu-ki’s good-luck ring has done its job.
Ban-seok has two confessions: First, that he’d given Shin-young chocolates. Da-jung gives him an easy out, because a doctor can do that for his patient, and he jumps on that excuse… but he catches himself and admits that he did harbor a tiny bit of interest in Shin-young at first. He didn’t want Da-jung to find out later and be hurt by it. (Yay for honesty.) The second part is to assure Da-jung not worry about his father’s opposition and ask for her to have faith in him.
Walking outside, Ban-seok suggests that the they escape the cold to go inside for a glass of wine at his place. I’d say he’s trying to be smooth, but it’s clear to anyone with half a brain that he’s trying to get her into his apartment, and Da-jung understands this. Hilariously, her reason for hesitating is because she had worn her granny panties tonight (she fell behind on her laundry) and her slip is ripped at the seam. (Who hasn’t been here?? LOL.) Modestly, Da-jung agrees to have one glass of wine.
As they watch The Notebook, both become uncomfortable when a sex scene comes on. This is Ban-seok’s moment to make a move, and he does it with all the grace of an elephant on crack. He jumps on top of her and bursts out in agitation that he’s not a player, that she knows his true heart, and asks to spend this night together.
(Sidebar: I’m sometimes uncomfortable with depictions of sex in kdramas that depict the cultural expectation that men will be aggressors and that women, even when willing, are supposed to resist a little. It mimics the dating pattern — the girl is supposed to reject, and the guy is supposed to persist to prove how serious he is. This, of course, can result in crossed wires because there’s no way to distinguish when the rejection is coyness and when it’s sincere. In fact, I’ve known this to present serious problems in real life when the guy just doesn’t accept the no. In this case, I’m appeased by the knowledge that Da-jung may actually be open to the idea, and is resisting because of her embarrassment over her shabby underwear.)
Da-jung shoves him back, and he confesses that he defiantly told his father they’d make a grandchild first. She doesn’t want Ban-seok to turn her into *that kind of woman* — the kind who trapped her husband through pregnancy.
Following their night at the sauna, Min-jae and Shin-young have breakfast together, their moods light and happy. He explains that although his dream was to have his own band, he figured he’d graduate from school first, and asks her to be understanding “for being a little cowardly, and thinking a lot.” This may be because he’s still cautious about the future, and Shin-young teases, asking how a guy who’s cowardly could get off being so bold with her. Min-jae replies, “I didn’t know I’d be like this. This is love, I think.” He also invites her to have dinner with his mother later, and Shin-young jokes that she’d better not be the same age.
Speaking of whom, Sang-mi wakes up early that morning and leaves the apartment feeling conflicted, which means Sang-woo wakes up alone. I wouldn’t say she’s regretting the night, but that she’s troubled over what this means. She hesitates a long moment when Sang-woo calls, wanting to answer but ultimately letting the call go.
Min-jae drops by Sang-woo’s apartment and tries the code, a little disappointed to see that his mother wasn’t joking when she said she was kicking him out. The code has been changed and the door won’t open, so he turns to go. Sang-woo hears the attempts to open the door and wonders if it’s Sang-mi — but thankfully, he avoids an awkward scene by opening the door a few moments too late, after Min-jae has turned the corner.
Sang-woo texts Sang-mi to ask if she had just stopped by, and mentions that he feels slightly unwell. She doesn’t respond.
Following the unexpected sauna run-in, Shin-young asks for a meeting with Sang-woo and explains the situation fully. She likes Min-jae a lot, but because she lacked confidence in their ten-year age gap — fearing that she would end up hurt if/when they split — she asked for ten days together. This explains why she initially lied to Sang-woo about being busy for the next ten days, and she admits honestly, “I’m coward. I even lied to you.” She continues, “I wish I were a confident woman who could say, ‘It’s fine that he’s 10 years younger, and I can date without marrying.’ But I’m not — I’m afraid of turning 40 without marrying.”
Sang-woo is a little wrapped up in his own emotional issues and comments flatly, “You’re really getting your revenge on me.” He’s a little impatient and asks, “So are you saying you’re sorry for yesterday and want forgiveness?” Honestly, he’s acting a little unfair here but I think he’s feeling hurt by Sang-mi and possibly guilty (because he’s the one who cheated). Hence, he’s overcompensating by making Shin-young into the bad guy.
Shin-young decides, “I’m sorry. I want to date Ha Min-jae. Even if we break up in a year, or two years, I want to try going for it.” Even though it’s a risk — and there’s that chance she could break up at the horrifying age of 39? — she figures that she’ll find a way out of it if/when that happens.
Sang-woo envies her courage, and his next statement isn’t purely hypothetical: “I don’t think I’d have that courage, even if I felt the attraction.”
Da-jung does her underwear laundry, but she’s convinced that had she been properly attired yesterday, it still wasn’t the right time to get intimate. Not under those circumstances. Ban-seok sends her flowers and health tonic with a note expressing his regrets, which he signs off with “I love you.” Da-jung drinks her tonic happily and replies that she’s not angry, and returns the “I love you.”
With Da-jung’s birthday coming up, Ban-seok starts ring shopping, but the idea of finding the right fit stresses him out, so he decides to find the ring later and start with a birthday present. His nurse advises him to buy an expensive gift, to which Ban-seok hotly defends Da-jung, calling her different from all those other materialistic women. (Oh, love is blind, isn’t it?)
As Da-jung and Bu-ki go shopping together, Bu-ki offers to throw a lavish house party at her place for her birthday. This offer is happily accepted, and Da-jung is diverted by a particularly nice handbag. She tries to send it mental messages so that Ban-seok will buy it for her birthday, although Bu-ki counters that a successful careerwoman such as herself ought to just buy it for herself.
Ban-seok bakes a cake as his birthday gift to Da-jung (and how many women watching thought, “Uh-oh…” at that?). At least Min-jae tells him that a mere cake isn’t enough, but Ban-seok assures him that he has other gifts planned. Still, he insists that Da-jung would be totally happy with just a cake!
Min-jae and Shin-young enjoy drinks at a bar when their cozy date is interrupted by Myung-seok, who enjoys putting Shin-young on the spot and belittling her relationship. So the rumors about her and Min-jae were true!
Rather than get into a confrontation, Shin-young and Min-jae get up to leave, but just as she passes Myung-seok, he mutters, “Are you out of your mind?” He leans in close to tell her that people might think Shin-young is playing around with a boy toy.
Check out the death glare on Min-jae’s face. Shin-young doesn’t see his expression, but she’s doing fine on her own and assures her sunbae that she’s not just playing around. At his incredulous question of whether this means she’s dating seriously, she answers without hesitation: “Yes. We’re dating seriously and we like each other. So what?”
As they leave, Min-jae admits that he was about to punch the guy, but held back because she said she likes him.
Ban-seok finally succeeds in making a decent cake after ruining several attempts. The night before her birthday party, he takes her out for a birthday dinner. He had actually gone shopping at an upscale store for a birthday present, and had asked the saleswoman for the nicest, most expensive outfit in the store. But wouldn’t you know it? Da-jung comes out wearing the very same outfit. Thwarted!
Thus he can’t give her that part of the present, but he has faith that she will like his cake. When she opens the box, she does a pretty good job masking her disappointment and gives him a gracious response, saying that she’s really touched.
Da-jung maintains the happy act until he drops her off at her apartment. But once there, she imagines her friends’ response and pictures them diving into the cake, expecting jewelry and coming up empty-handed.
How humiliating would that be? No, she can’t have that, and urgently calls a clothing storeowner — you know she’s got to be a great customer if she’s got the owner in her phone book — to ask for an emergency shopping session. The store won’t open until morning, so she heads to an all-night sauna instead. There, she eats the cake by herself, growing more despondent the more it becomes clear that nothing’s inside. Even so, she eats every last bite glumly.
First thing in the morning, Da-jung rushes into the store and buys herself an extravagant dress and coat and has them gift-wrapped. (The cost makes her eyes widen, and even someone as well-off as Da-jung has to put the payment on a 12-month installment plan. Again: who hasn’t been there, right? Ten minutes to make an irresponsible decision, and twelve months to pay it off — with interest!)
Shin-young and Bu-ki wonder why Da-jung has been out all night. Shin-young had worked late and talked to Min-jae on the phone, and therefore knows that Ban-seok was home. As a result, she and Bu-ki trade confused looks when Da-jung comes bouncing in gaily and announces that she and Ban-seok watched the sunrise together.
She misinterprets their skeptical looks (thinking they assume she’d slept with him), so she insists, “Really, we were outside.” Still, they’re impressed at the extravagant gift, which Da-jung attributes to Ban-seok keying in to her sense of style.
That evening, the group gathers for the party at Bu-ki’s, which is, as promised, an elegant affair.
The next exchange between Min-jae and Da-jung is amusing, but more importantly, it’s one of those conversations that demonstrates in a nutshell why this whole age thing is a significant issue. Although age gaps in relationships may not be the end of the world, this exchange shows how age is always a constant presence in Korean social interactions — for example, it’s almost impossible to have an extended conversation without both sides knowing how old the other person is relative to himself, because age dictates how they speak.
To wit: Min-jae calls Shin-young “Shin-young-sshi” or “Shin-young-ah,” which puts them on the same level. This suggests he could call her friends by their first names as well, once they become friendly enough to be comfortable with it. However, Da-jung feels the age difference so she doesn’t want to be called by her first name by someone 24 years old, so she requests to be called “noona.” But Min-jae doesn’t want that (it draws attention to his youth), so he offers to call her “Ms. Jung Da-jung.” But SHE doesn’t like that, because it’s sorta like saying “ma’am” and draws attention to her age. So she says he can call her “Chloe,” since that’s her English name. But he doesn’t like that. Sigh! They are at an impasse without many other options, so Da-jung pouts (playfully), “You suck. Na Ban-seok is the best.”
The happy couple has a turn at the karaoke machine, and the rest of the party giggles to see how adorable they are together. The song is appropriate to the occasion, as Humming Urban Stereo’s “Hawaiian Couple” is basically a couple singing about how cute they are together. [ Download ]
As they watch, Shin-young offers to sing Min-jae’s “Woman Who Cut My Guitar String,” since it was written about her.
Bu-ki calls for everyone’s attention, and urges Da-jung to show off her new stylish outfit. Although Da-jung had asked her friends not to ask Ban-seok about his supposed gifts, Bu-ki can’t help but congratulate him on his wonderful taste. This wipes the smiles from Da-jung’s and Ban-seok’s faces.
Outside, Ban-seok asks if she lied that the gifts were from him. She answers yes, because she wanted to help him gain favor with her friends, who would be impressed. After all, it’s better than admitting all she received was a cake. Hurt, he asks if one cake was too pathetic of a gift. Da-jung answers with tears in her eyes, feeling both defensive and hurt.
Da-jung: “Yes. At 34, I finally met a man I want to marry and on this miraculous day, can’t I brag just a little more? Can’t I fib a little about being a princess in your eyes? You have a father who disregards me because I’m old — see what would happen if I said I only received a cake as a present. How miserable would I look?”
Da-jung: “Yes. I rather die than admit I only received a cake from my boyfriend!”
Ban-seok: “Do you know what the best present in my life was? It was the heart cookies you made for me. Of all the presents I’ve received, that was the best! So I went to a class and made that cake after failing eight times. How could you call that cake miserable? And I did buy you clothes, but you came out wearing the same thing so I couldn’t give them to you.”
Da-jung: “I didn’t know that.”
Ban-seok: “I’m sorry for giving you a miserable present.”
As Ban-seok walks off, Da-jung calls after him, crying that she’s sorry and that she was wrong: “I don’t want to cry alone on my birthday anymore!”
Around the corner, Bu-ki and Shin-young witness this scene with sympathy. Knowing that this would just make her mortification worse, they agree not to tell Da-jung that they saw.
Another relationship on the skids (and before it even started!) is Sang-mi and Sang-woo. She tries to deal with her conflicted emotions by immersing herself in dance, but it doesn’t do the job. Finally, she responds to his earlier text message: “Sang-woo-sshi, my reply is late. I’m sorry. Is your illness severe?”
This puts the ball in his court, and Sang-woo battles his own conflicting emotions. Flashing back to his previous encounters with Sang-mi — and the night they spent together — he screams in frustration.
As a result, Sang-woo calls Shin-young at work, where she’s meeting with her team about ideas for their first program. (She had confronted her boss about Myung-seok butting into her program, and warned that if it happens, she’ll take her team and make a new program.) Btw, there’s a bad reshoot here that is so obvious that it’s funny — Shin-young answers her cell phone, but in the next shot, she’s on a land line.
Sang-woo insists on seeing Shin-young immediately in the lobby, where he begs her to take him back. (Confronted with his feelings for Sang-mi, he’s running scared, just as she was.) Sang-woo insists that their recent bumps are merely minor hurdles that every couple goes through, which will pass in time. He vows that she’s the one for him. Even when Shin-young reminds him that she likes someone else, he brushes that aside, saying that she’s just flattered by Min-jae’s attention. If the SNSD girls came and said they liked him, he’d be conflicted too, but it would be fleeting.
They don’t see that Min-jae is also in the lobby, and overhears this conversation with growing anger. All episode, he’s been increasingly bothered whenever Sang-woo has been mentioned, and this is the last straw. Even though Shin-young remains firm that she likes Min-jae, he gets up and walks up to the table, where he grabs her hand. He tells Sang-woo firmly, “She’s my girlfriend. Don’t come looking for her like this anymore.”
Agitated, he pulls her away and demands to know why Sang-woo is here — is it because today’s the last of their ten days? He warns, “I have no intention of letting go, so if you want to run away, try running.”
Shin-young understands his reaction, but also knows that he must have heard her answer. He heard her telling Sang-woo that she likes Min-jae, so why is he still acting like this?
Min-jae: “Because my heart races. Because I can’t calm myself. I know I’m not in a one-sided love, but suddenly I couldn’t breathe.”
Gently, Shin-young says she’ll see him later. He agrees, but has trouble letting go as she starts to walk away. Intently, he says, “I love you.” She returns, “I love you too.”
This time he lets her walk away, and though there are tears in his eyes, finally he’s able to smile in relief.
Sang-mi comes by Bu-ki’s restaurant to return the lucky ring. She admits, “Luck came my way but it was difficult to handle, so I’m afraid.” When she was 20 and immature, Sang-mi had given in to a brief passion that ruined her life. Now she feels a similar “fire,” and it’s giving her a hard time.
Bu-ki advises Sang-mi not to struggle with it — why not just let it burn? If it scares her so much, she can turn away from it entirely. However, if that doesn’t work, she has no choice but to go with it anyway. If she feels pain, that’s something she’ll just have to experience.
Bu-ki has prepared the restaurant for a romantic evening for Shin-young and Min-jae to celebrate the start of their relationship. (And who among us wouldn’t want a fabulous friend like Bu-ki to throw us fancy parties for every occasion? Jealous!) Shin-young enters while Sang-mi sits with Bu-ki, fielding an exasperating phone call from Sang-woo. He admits he’s conflicted with feelings for another woman and is struggling to deal with it, and pleads with her to come to him. Sang-mi looks over and recognizes Shin-young, noting that she’s always really loud.
They manage to avoid an awkward confrontation because Sang-mi leaves before Min-jae arrives bearing roses. Shin-young notes that their ten days ends today: “Should we expand it to fifty years?”
Min-jae moves closer to kiss her on the forehead, then promises to slowly make his way down to her lips. Or should he just go for it now and save himself the anticipation? He hovers to plant a kiss (finally!) on her lips…
…and of course, this is the moment Sang-mi reappears to retrieve her forgotten scarf. Surprised, she calls out his name. Just as startled, Min-jae looks up: “Mom!”
(D’oh! Worst romance-killer ever?)
I love that these characters do things that make me occasionally scream, “Noooo! Don’t you watch dramas? Don’t you know how this is going to end up?” because although they may make bad decisions in the moment, they’re learning from them. Other dramas with more extreme plots usually make their characters fight external demons, not internal ones. In this drama, most of the characters encounter conflicts that are largely of their own making but are still real and significant. Is this age thing being given a really high premium in this drama? Yes — but it’s so realistic that I don’t feel frustrated with it.
For instance, I cringed in the previous episode when Shin-young made her ten-day agreement with Min-jae, because what did she think was going to happen? On top of that, she lied to Sang-woo about it, which was one of those moments where you just wince in anticipation for the fallout. I’m thankful that she gets discovered, because now she has to face the truth, face that she hurt people with her indecision, and deal with it — and therefore I can go back to liking her unreservedly. She was treating both men like backups, and it made me wonder how it would feel to have both backups leave. Thankfully the one she really wants does understand that this is her way of convincing herself to try out the relationship, and that it’s his chance to prove what they both feel is true.
But like Sang-woo says, Shin-young may worry her head off about the issue but ultimately she makes all the courageous decisions. Before she makes a decision, she waffles back and forth to a frustrating degree, but ONCE she makes her decision, she’s firm as a rock. Witness her reaction to Myung-seok — she doesn’t even let that get under her skin and brushes it aside. And in the end scene with Sang-woo, again she is solid.
Also: How cute are they, right? (I actually like the grey hair on Min-jae. I don’t think he’s going to start any fashion trends — at least not on Gu Jun-pyo levels — but he wears it well. Kind of looks like a Final Fantasy character, no?)
As for Da-jung —
I wonder if she’ll be a controversial character among viewers, particularly after her lie in this episode. I think Ban-seok is perfectly justified in his reaction, but I did appreciate Da-jung’s honest response. Maybe much of the credit has to go to actress Eom Ji-won for giving Da-jung a vulnerability as she says that she wanted her friends to be impressed with her boyfriend. We know that they wouldn’t (and don’t) judge her for it, but she has her pride to save. This points more to Da-jung’s insecurities about herself rather than her friends, which is supported by her reminder that Ban-seok’s own father deems her below him. First, Ban-seok urged her to force a marriage by getting pregnant “purposely-on-accident,” which makes her into a lesser woman in society’s eyes. Then he gave her a cake for her birthday — a gesture that is meaningful to him but, in society’s eyes, may appear like he doesn’t take her seriously. The well-born, rich doctor doesn’t value his low-born girlfriend enough to give her a fancy present?
I’m not saying Da-jung is right in wanting more, but it shows that there’s more to these issues. Da-jung wants this relationship to work so much that she’s creating illusions — not only for the others, but for herself as well. A huge motif of this drama is overcoming societal pressure — to love freely without caring how others see you. But at the end of the day, it does matter how others see you. And Da-jung wants to enjoy being the woman who is fussed over by her boyfriend for a day. These couples have to decide whether their commitment to each other (both Shin-young/Min-jae and Da-jung/Ban-seok) overrides society’s expectations.
It’s interesting because I really like Ban-seok’s straightforwardness in this relationship, such as when he comes clean about having previously liked Shin-young, even when Da-jung gives him an excuse to save face. However, it illustrates his black-and-white way of seeing relationships, which seems kind of green. I’m starting to get to that stage in life where I see relationships through a greyer lens, and while I understand where he’s coming from, I think his naivete is born of inexperience. He’s the idealist, and Da-jung is the pragmatist. She’s wacky, selfish, and materialistic, but Ban-seok’s simple way of looking at relationships isn’t realistic, either — they’ve both got to give a little.
- The Woman Who Wants To Marry: Episode 9
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 8
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 7
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 6
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 5
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 4
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 3
- The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episodes 1-2