[Everyone, girlfriday will be helping me with The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry recaps, starting with this one! We'll be switching off episodes, and I hope you'll enjoy her wonderfully written and witty recaps as much as I do. --javabeans]
This episode amps up the chemistry between Shin-young and Min-jae, who are becoming a really cute and refreshing couple. We’re also getting hints of separate storylines for the two best friends, Da-jung and Bu-ki, which I hope will flesh out their characters and take them out of sidekick territory. The three women’s friendship continues to be the center of the drama and I think that works to the story’s advantage; we don’t have to rely solely on a make-up, break-up see-saw like a traditional romantic comedy, and the three women are all beautifully flawed characters with a lot of potential.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
We pick up back at the club, where Shin-young is still pretending to be drunk so that Min-jae will carry her home. Min-jae happily plays his role, as both of them have something to prove. Min-jae wants to show Ban-seok that he knows all in the ways of love, and Shin-young wants to show Sang-woo that she is not only over him, but dating someone younger and hotter. Can’t blame the girl.
Shin-young stumbles around and coyly insists that she’s fine to get home on her own, but Min-jae catches on that she’s flirting and giving him an opening. He dutifully carries her on his back and is ready to head out the door, both of them looking quite happy about the situation, when suddenly Shin-young’s boss arrives at the party just in time to spoil the fun. He insists that Min-jae shouldn’t have to carry her on his own back; she’s too heavy and anyway, he has already prepared for just such an occasion. At the boss’s request, in come two men…carrying a stretcher.
Min-jae protests, but Shin-young’s boss and co-workers are so persistent that he eventually has to give in and put her on the stretcher. And since she’s already pretending to be passed out, Shin-young can’t do a thing but play dead and get hauled out of the club in the most publicly embarrassing fashion. Hilariously, as soon as they are out the door, she sits right up and jumps off the stretcher, clearly sober enough to get her own taxi. Oh, the things a girl will do for a piggyback ride.
Sang-woo is waiting outside Shin-young’s apartment, but a security officer mistakes him for a stalker and chases him away just as Shin-young is arriving. She watches all this happen and hides out of sight, grateful that she doesn’t have to show up in front of him alone after her big declaration that she would arrive home on the back of Ha Min-jae.
The next day, Ban-seok and Min-jae are at the gym, and Ban-seok argues that the picture he was sent as “proof” of the bet was nothing of the sort. The picture is of course blurry because Shin-young was busy leaning into Min-jae in her fake-drunken flirting.
Min-jae insists that it’s her, calling her “Shin-young ssi,” which makes Ban-seok think that Min-jae has real feelings for her, and that the bet is just an excuse. (In Korean, omitting last names and adding “ssi” is a more familiar way of addressing someone. It’s not overly friendly but in this case it’s more striking because of the gap in their ages. It is highly unusual for someone of Min-jae’s age to address someone of Shin-young’s age by her first name like that.)
Ban-seok says he’ll be disappointed if Shin-young passes over a catch like himself, for a kid like Min-jae. I think that sentiment has more to do with Ban-seok’s issues with self-esteem, and less to do with any real feelings for Shin-young. Min-jae, on the other hand, takes offense and gets really serious: “Hyung, you’ve got all those years under your belt and you don’t know this? Love isn’t something a person can control.”
Ban-seok scoffs at his arrogance and asks what he’s planning to do if Shin-young does really fall in love with him. “Are you going to say, sorry, it was all a bet?” Min-jae replies offhandedly that he’ll just decide that later when the time comes. Ban-seok, in disbelief, cries, “After she’s completely fallen for you?” Min-jae replies, “After she falls so deep she can’t swim back out.” Ban-seok’s jaw drops at this response and calls Min-jae a rotten bastard.
The same morning in the girls’ apartment, Da-jung sets a lovely breakfast table for two. Shin-young drags herself out of bed and I have to say, I do enjoy that these women are always styled realistically according to the scenes. Of course, they have plenty of fashion eye candy a la Sex and the City, with lovely shoes to boot, and it doesn’t have to be fan-wanked because these characters are successful thirty-something women who can afford nice clothes.
But the part I really like is that when they’re at home, they wear silly cute pajamas and tie their hair back and wear less makeup. They’re not afraid to look like real women do at home with their girlfriends.
Shin-young wonders what the breakfast is for, and Da-jung replies that she likes to do these things; she just doesn’t have a husband to do them for. Da-jung asks if Shin-young came home on her own two feet, and when Shin-young says that she did get carried for a short while, Da-jung asks excitedly, “How was it?” Shin-young, “It was nice.” Da-jung wonders, “What happens if you end up dating for real?” Shin-young doesn’t even give it a second thought, “No, that’s not what this is. It’s not like he’s one or two years my junior.”
Da-jung, ever the love optimist, cites Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher as an example of a sixteen-year age gap. “If she did it, why can’t you?” She then amends her advice, “You should date both Sang-woo and Min-jae.” Shin-young realizes of course that this is not about her, and asks, “Is this because of your bad blind date?” Da-jung says that she’s decided on a wedding date: October 22. She’s planned the entire wedding down to the smallest details and now all she needs is a man.
And this is Shin-young’s reply:
Shin-young says, “You don’t even need a man. You’ve got all the details planned. We could just get together and have the wedding.” At this, Da-jung takes back her imaginary plan to let Shin-young catch the bouquet. HA.
Da-jung decides that maybe she’s just too perfect to get a man. She considers showing some of her less admirable qualities to men in the future. The funniest thing about this character is that she’s perfectly serious about all these things.
Just then, Bu-ki arrives in a panic, newspaper in hand.
It turns out that someone got the jump on the musician story that was supposed to be the centerpiece of Shin-young’s new program. Her boss rips her a new one for not handing the story over to the nine o’clock news. Shin-young asks for another chance to re-record the pilot, but boss man cancels the whole thing instead.
On top of that, Shin-young’s evil sunbae, the one with Cruella DeVille hair whose name escapes me at the moment, tells her thanks because they gave her timeslot to him for a live news program. The smug soul-crusher twists the knife further, “When are you getting married?” Oh yeah? When are you going to take that smug grin off your smug face? Puppy killer!
…Is what I wish Shin-young had said. But she walks away, tears brimming in her eyes.
Then we get an awesome quiet little scene that really made me love this character. Shin-young cries alone in a bathroom stall, but not in a woe-as-me, my-life-is-over kind of way. She just silently lets the tears go, then decides she has to get it together and stops.
There’s something so mundane and real about crying in a bathroom stall over a work issue, and having to push down your emotions because you’re at work and you’re an adult. And least of all do you want anyone calling you out for being a WOMAN and crying at work. It’s a double whammy.
She then takes out a pen and makes a mark on the stall, saying, “In ten years, I’ve cried a lot.” And we see that she’s marked down every time she’s had to cry at work, faded from all the years past. She then puts her hand over them and tells herself, “It’s okay. If I’m going to fill this wall, I’ve got a long way to go.”
The scene is nice because it’s not over-the-top or saccharine; it’s a small visual way to show us that she’s a woman who’s put in ten hard years to get to where she is, and that she isn’t entitled or flighty. She has built her station in life through hard work, which makes me respect her and care more about her work storylines, making them more grounded in who she is as a character.
It turns out that there’s someone in the stall next to hers, so she bolts out of the ladies room. Min-jae is waiting for her out in the hallway, and he comes bounding up, newspaper in hand.
He asks what happened, and if she’s been crying because she lost the story. Shin-young denies crying and apologizes to Min-jae for losing the story that he found for her. Min-jae asks if she got home alright the night before, and offers to take her out to dinner to make her feel better.
Shin-young agrees to the date. In the middle of this conversation, Shin-young starts using informal speech (banmal) interspersed here and there. It’s not consistent, because she still uses formal language half the time, but it’s clear that she’s starting to cut her phrases here and there, acting more familiar with Min-jae.
Min-jae then makes her promise not to lose any more stories, and if she loses stories, not to cry over them. He holds out his pinky…
Shin-young looks at him like she’s trying to figure out if he’s serious, then smiles and looks touched by the gesture. She goes in for the pinky swear.
Then, pinkies hooked, Min-jae teases that with her red nose she looks like an alcoholic old maid. She promptly breaks the pinky hold and stomps off, leaving Min-jae laughing good-naturedly in the hallway. She stops and looks back at him, and Min-jae is just standing there, smiling at her. She walks off, confused because she can’t quite figure this guy out.
It’s strange that this drama makes such a moment out of the pinky swear, as this is neither their first nor their most intimate skinship of the episode. I prefer this couple when their interactions are less hammered in by the editing. See? How there’s chemistry? Yeah, I see that. I get it. And I’m going to lose it if you keep trying to show me.
I actually really like this couple, so I’m hoping we’ll move past this beyond the initial flirting stages, because I don’t think we need any convincing that these two are cute and sweet and right for each other. So the hammering is a small gripe that probably will never go away in kdrama land. It’s like asking for pink elephants at a strictly blue elephant zoo.
The delightful Da-jung has a rough day at work, so she comes home and drinks, leading to a funny little nightmare where she and Shin-young are old ladies, still single and living together. She wakes up crying, and blubbers to Shin-young, asking why there are no men who love her.
Shin-young, ever the realist, says technically, “It’s not that there are no men who love you. It’s that there are no tall, well-educated, not-firstborn, good-looking men who speak with no accent and have large apartments, who love you.” To which Da-jung spits back, “That’s the same thing!”
I just…love her. I can’t even tell you why. I don’t see eye to eye with Da-jung on anything, but there’s just something so quirky and endearing about this character. She’s highly educated, publicly successful in her career, the envy of all young women, yet she’s placing all her worth and happiness on the kind of man who might marry her.
I think Da-jung is interesting because she calls attention to the false dichotomy that all women tend to believe, in Korea and everywhere else, that you have to choose one or the other. Career or a man. You can’t have both. There’s no such thing as having it all.
Which is just ludicrous, of course, because they are not mutually exclusive. But Shin-young and particularly Da-jung both struggle with this, believing that they have to choose one, and that by succeeding in their careers, (or putting forth the effort in Shin-young’s case) they have in essence chosen to forfeit happy marriages.
I think this is a real concern for my generation and beyond, as we have spent our twenties as single career-oriented people, who then find ourselves in our thirties without having invested the same kind of effort into finding a partner. “Oh crap!” we say, and then in a moment of weakness, we let the voices of our mothers creep in. And if your mom is Korean, and you just turned thirty, say yesterday, then y’all know what I’m talking about. My ears are still ringing. Happy birthday to me!
Anyhoo, I digress. That day at work, Shin-young comes across Min-jae rehearsing in the recording studio. She sneaks a peek at him, and it’s clear that she’s drawn to him, even if she still thinks of him as a kid.
He takes a break to chat with her, and they agree to call each other later that night for their dinner date. Shin-young considers it a friendly meal, whereas Min-jae insists on calling it a date, asking if she got dolled up just for him. She calls him an arrogant kid, as he steals a sip of her coffee, getting her lipstick on his own lips. He says adorably, “This means we’ve kissed. Are you going to take responsibility for me?”
Come on, that’s cute. I think this is my favorite of Kim Bum’s roles because it’s actually perfect for his in-between-ness. He’s kind of a freakish man-child, albeit in a totally adorable way. And Min-jae is the same, too old to fit in at school with younger kids, too young to be taken seriously by Shin-young, old enough to be considered attractive, but young enough to play games without malicious intent. I agree with javabeans that his playboy role in BBF was laughable, but here I think the mask of worldliness against his actual naivete is perfect.
Later that day Shin-young chases down a new story, this time involving a woman who was beaten up by her drunk boyfriend at a club. But the boyfriend happens to be a congressman, who covered up the scandal with money, making this a huge deal if she can score an interview with the woman. Shin-young tries to convince her to do the interview, to no avail.
After spending the day camped out in front of the victim’s house with zero results, Shin-young goes to visit Bu-ki at her latest restaurant project. While the two friends are having coffee, Bu-ki’s phone rings but she ignores the call. She admits to dating a really great guy, prompting Shin-young to ask why she isn’t taking his calls. Bu-ki answers matter-of-factly, “Because he has a wife.”
Bu-ki, going one step further into crazytown, tells Shin-young that she’s planning on meeting this wife and telling her that her husband is going around town pretending to be a bachelor. Shin-young, agreeing with my assessment, calls her insane and tells her to drop it.
But Bu-ki is having none of that. She likes this woman, apparently, and is determined to enlighten her in the ways of Bu-ki. Fascinating, this character. She went through such a dramatic transformation from slavish girlfriend to independent woman of the world, that she’s made it her mission in life to free the other slaves.
We get a rather long introduction to the wife, Sang-mi, (including latin dance no less) which makes me think she is more important than just the wife of a random boyfriend. Bu-ki finds her at a dance studio and confronts her, calm and cool, as if to say, “Isn’t the weather nice today,” but instead the words are more like, “Your husband is a philanderer and he is in love with me.” Nutty, this girl.
So naturally Bu-ki gets her hair ripped out, right? Nope. The woman, although shocked, stays outwardly as calm and collected as Bu-ki. And then she goes along with Bu-ki’s plan to give her a wreath of flowers, which Bu-ki will give to the husband, to be returned to the wife as some sort of proof of his infidelity. Why such elaborate games, people? Wouldn’t a three-way phone call suffice?
Shin-young returns home only to find Sang-woo waiting for her outside her building again. She tells him to stop stalking her, but he drags her along to look at apartments, as he is trying to move into her neighborhood. Shin-young complains but does let herself get dragged along, so it’s clear she doesn’t hate the guy.
Sang-woo says he wants to return to their college days. Shin-young tells him to go back by himself and stay there forever. Sang-woo doesn’t understand how she can dismiss him so blatantly. Basically he implies that she’s getting on in years and shouldn’t be passing up the chance to be with him.
That, of course, sparks Shin-young’s anger, “Women have changed a lot, you know. We don’t give in to anyone who comes along, just because we’re getting older.” He begins to wonder if she was telling the truth about dating Ha Min-jae. Clearly lying to save face, Shin-young says that she IS dating Min-jae, and that she’ll introduce them soon.
Later that night, Shin-young takes a nap and misses her dinner date with Min-jae. She calls to see if he still wants to go out, but he says they’ll go another time and hangs up, telling his bandmates that you sometimes have to play hard to get.
Sang-mi sits at home, waiting for her husband, aka Bu-ki’s boyfriend, to come home. He arrives, flowers in hand, saying that they’re a gift for her. Ruh-roh.
Sang-woo asks Da-jung to meet him, and he pleads with her to help him get Shin-young back. This is an odd friendship that’s forming between these two, but I like their chemistry, in a platonic way. They’re both completely self-involved but open and frank, so their interactions are funny.
After some kissing up and promising to introduce Da-jung to some good single men, Da-jung yields and invites Sang-woo to Bu-ki’s new restaurant opening.
Shin-young and Bu-ki are having dinner at Bu-ki’s apartment, when Da-jung arrives all aflutter. The girls assume that she’s been drinking, because she falls flat on her face when she walks in, but she’s so happy that it doesn’t even phase her.
“I’ve finally met him; the man I’m destined to be with,” Da-jung swoons. The girls try to talk some sense into her, but Da-jung won’t hear it. They concede she should bring this new guy to the restaurant opening.
I think the following image sums up Da-jung’s relationship to the other two women perfectly:
In a nice little moment, we see that Min-jae’s plan to play hard to get hasn’t really worked. He checks his phone every few minutes to see if Shin-young has called, and he finally caves and texts her first. He tries to reschedule their dinner date for tonight, but Shin-young says that she’ll be out all night in front of the congressman’s girlfriend’s house, trying to convince her to do the interview.
Shin-young runs around in the street and does jumping jacks to keep warm in the freezing cold. Min-jae calls. She answers, “Hello? Hello?” After a pause Min-jae asks, “Don’t you have my number saved? Then why don’t you answer, “Min-jae ssi” instead? I’m going to call back.”
He actually hangs up and calls back. Heh. This time Shin-young answers, “HA Min-jae ssi.” Displeased with that, he says, “No, JUST Min-jae ssi. I’m going to call back.” She’s exasperated but catches on that he’s going to keep doing this until she says the right thing, so the third time she answers in a flirty tone, “Min-jae ssi,” putting a smile on his face.
This interaction is telling because even though it’s clear he enjoys messing with her, Min-jae also really wants to be acknowledged as an equal and a potential romantic partner rather than just a kid. Shin-young doesn’t give a second thought to the way she addresses him, but Min-jae seems hyper-aware of what they call each other.
Shin-young continues to stubbornly wait for the abuse victim to change her mind, trying to stay warm and pass the time. After a while, Min-jae shows up, care package in hand.
He’s brought her earmuffs, hot coffee, and sweet potatoes, which Shin-young finds thoughtful and sweet. Min-jae tells her to warm up first, and thaws her face in his hands.
It’s clear that Shin-young is touched at his gesture, and when he’s holding her face there’s a momentary flicker in her eyes that spells, “I’m going to have a hard time not falling in love with you.”
Min-jae is all kinds of sweetness in this scene. He’s disappointed that the sweet potatoes he bought have gotten cold, so he comes back with the whole sweet potato cart and ahjusshi in tow. Worried that Shin-young is cold, he wraps half of his giant scarf around her, and they wait by the sweet potatoes, sharing a scarf.
Min-jae flirts pretty boldly with Shin-young, calling himself her oppa, and calling her “Shin-young ssi” to her face. She tells him not to call her that, prompting him to take it a step further and call her “Shin-young ah,” like he would to someone younger than himself. She sneers, “You have no manners.” Min-jae counters, “You like it, on the inside.”
Upon hearing the reason why they’re standing in the freezing cold in front of this woman’s house, Min-jae steps up to help convince the woman that doing the interview is the right thing to do. By now Shin-young is completely impressed with this kid. He not only came to cheer her on, but actually helps her score the interview. We see that she starts to let herself feel something, maybe for the first time since Sang-woo.
Shin-young (voiceover): ” As if recovering from amnesia
As if memories are being released
This feeling sweeps over me
This is what dating is
This is what excitement is
Blood circulates and the heart skips a beat
The feeling that spring is coming
Wanting a change of heart
Why do I happen to feel this way
Here, today, standing next to this kid?
This kid here next to me
The fear that I might see him as a man
The feeling of dating again after a hundred years
This is Lee Shin-young”
Just then, Shin-young gets a call from the woman, agreeing to do the interview the next day. They hug each other excitedly and Min-jae takes this opportunity to snap a picture…
…which of course he sends straightaway to the dumbfounded Ban-seok.
I don’t know how I feel about the bet between Ban-seok and Min-jae, only because I don’t know how crucial it is as a story point. I think it’s an initiator for Min-jae to pursue Shin-young, but we could have done without it. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s going to factor in greatly because both Min-jae’s and Shin-young’s actions seem calculated, rather than based on a fundamental lie, like Coffee Prince or some other GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING plot point that is looming ahead. This bet feels different because it doesn’t feel very serious, but who knows where they’re going to take it. I hope this drama sticks with the lightness and veers away from the “What was I to you? Just a bet?!” storyline.
Later that week, Da-jung and Shin-young are trying on various dresses for Bu-ki’s restaurant opening, when the police come barging in to take Da-jung down to the station. She gets hauled away, then comes back, mortified that she got her hair ripped out. The other girls assume she means that her boyfriend is married and she got her hair pulled out by his wife. As it turns out, no, her new boyfriend is a drug dealer and she got her hair pulled by the cops for a drug test. HA.
In an attempt to make Da-jung feel better, the girls spend the day at the salon getting scalp treatments to grow back more hair.
Of course, as with all things Da-jung, fire, mayhem, and hilarity ensue.
We finally get to the party at Bu-ki’s latest restaurant, and Min-jae is there waiting for Shin-young. They greet each other with excitement over being dolled up, and Shin-young actually makes a “YOW!” sound at Min-jae that makes me love her. Oh, like you wouldn’t squee at Bummie.
Can we talk about how hot these two look here? Just marvel in silence, you say? Okay then.
Shin-young is impressed at how nicely Min-jae cleans up. He claims it’s because he’s meeting her friends tonight so he wants to make a good impression. Right. Just like how Shin-young is in no way wearing a hot pink minidress for your benefit. You silly kids.
Sang-woo is already at the party and sees Shin-young and Min-jae across the room. Upon seeing Sang-woo, Shin-young immediately cozies up to Min-jae and plays up their closeness.
Sang-woo proceeds to get drunk, while Shin-young continues to lay it on. She asks Min-jae to play along with her if she acts close to him. “Aren’t we close?” he asks. She wonders if they are, and asks him to just play along even if she acts friendlier than they already are. He challenges her to do so. When she hesitates, Min-jae leans in, kissing distance, making her nervous. “Not to THAT extent,” she laughs nervously. He puts his arm around her this time, which Shin-young approves of.
This is a moment of weakness for Shin-young, as she is clearly using Min-jae to get revenge on Sang-woo, even if she won’t admit it. She insists to her friends that she is only showing off Min-jae to get Sang-woo to stop stalking her, but she’s going to great lengths to make it hurt.
But while I disapprove of what Shin-young is doing as a person, I like it as a moment of character development. There’s something so irresistible about this scenario. It is probably a universal revenge fantasy to show up to a party dressed like a rock star, on the arm of the hottest guy/girl there, only to run into your ex who dumped you cold. There’s no doubt I would do the same thing if I were in her shoes. But I have a feeling that none of these characters are going to leave this party unscathed.
And, here comes the kicker. Min-jae has just won a game of darts with Shin-young, and wonders if there isn’t some sort of prize. He flirts with her that she got permission to act close to him, but hasn’t cashed in on that yet. He declares, “The winner gets to do whatever he wants,” and leans in for a kiss…
…with everyone watching.
Shin-young is taken aback but doesn’t pull away. Instead she closes her eyes, anticipating the kiss…
…and after hovering near her lips, Min-jae smiles to himself and turns his head to kiss her on the cheek.
AAAACK. That cheeky bastard! Well, now I’m confused about how much of a player this guy is. What really hurts my head at this stage is that both Shin-young and Min-jae are using each other for something selfish, but both are experiencing genuine feelings arising out of these calculated moves.
What I like about the pairing is that both the man and the woman are doing this to each other, and I think it’s shaping up that Shin-young is as much a player as Min-jae is. If you think about it, she has more experience dating, and even though Min-jae would like to think he has the upper hand here, I actually think that Shin-young does.
Moreover, I think we’ll come to find that Min-jae is far more vulnerable than he’s letting on, and that Shin-young is using her career and Min-jae’s age to guard herself against getting hurt again. We’ve got some good relationship ground to mine here.
Well, thanks for coming along for the ride, if you managed to make it through all my ramblings. Thanks again to javabeans for letting me guest blog for my home away from home, Dramabeans. See you at Episode 7. girlfriday, signing out.
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 4
- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 3
- Kim Bum performs live for drama, sings for OST
- The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episodes 1-2
- Rough start for The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry
- Park Jin-hee works despite injury on set
- Jin-Bum couple in The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry