The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 6
When I started watching The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry, I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun and amusing and better than expected. With Episode 5, though, that feeling grew and I started sensing that emotional pull, that excitement building that goes beyond mere entertainment. There are some dramas you enjoy as a light watch, and there are others that make a connection, and with Episodes 5 and 6, I started to feel it.
SONG OF THE DAY
Rumble Fish – “좋은 사람 있으면 소개시켜줘” (If you know a nice man, introduce me) This is the song Da-jung sings in this episode. It’s actually an old Basis hit from the ’90s (who remembers??), but has been remade several times. (Here’s the original and the cutesy, kpoppy Go Ho-kyung version.)
[ Download ]
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Backtracking a bit from the party that ended the previous episode, Ban-seok tries on suits and surveys his reflection with satisfaction, asking, “Why don’t the women recognize a great guy like me?” He gets his answer a moment later when Min-jae steps out of a dressing room, dressed to the nines. Upstaged! Ban-seok grumbles that a student like Min-jae has no need for such clothes.
Min-jae enjoys talking up his relationship with Shin-young, dropping the info that he has been invited to her friend’s restaurant opening — she must want to introduce him to her friends (read: she’s showing me off, booyah!). Ban-seok asks why Min-jae’s bothering to buy clothes or go out on dates when he’s planning on dropping Shin-young as soon as he wins his bet. Min-jae evades the question by answering that this is just an excuse to buy new clothes.
Now we catch up to the party, as Min-jae kisses Shin-young on the cheek. He retrieves the darts from the board and says, “If you lose the next round, I’ll do it for real.” Shin-young looks a little disappointed at the cheek-kiss and throws darts restlessly.
Sang-woo walks up purposefully and introduces himself as Shin-young’s friend with an aggressive air — both Shin-young and Min-jae half-expect him to let fly a punch when he removes his jacket and rolls up his sleeves.
But instead, Sang-woo flexes his bicep and says he’s a fan, and asks for Min-jae’s autograph. Despite the civil words, an undercurrent of male challenge runs through this conversation. Min-jae signs Sang-woo’s arm unenthusiastically, while Shin-young kicks Sang-woo for being impolite. She also overcompensates by laughing too much and too loudly before leading Min-jae away.
As they walk home, Min-jae guesses that Sang-woo likes her, based on the way he was glaring. Does Shin-young return the interest? She says no and admits that he’s actually an ex with whom she’d once discussed marriage. Now he wants her back.
Min-jae has been in a sober mood since leaving the party and now asks, “Is that why you wanted to act close with me? To get rid of him?” He suggests that she date Sang-woo again, since he seemed like a nice guy (and he seems to be looking for signs that she’s still into her ex). Shin-young thanks Min-jae for his help, answering that her love has run its course and that Sang-woo is likely to back off now..
Arriving outside her place, Shin-young offers to drive Min-jae home, but he declines. She starts to press, but he tells her frankly, “Right now I’m in a bad mood because of you. Let me go home alone. I’ll call you.”
The next morning, Da-jung has an announcement: She has decided not to marry. Naturally the other two laugh incredulously, but she has decided that Heaven is toying with her because she wants it so badly. Therefore, she’ll give up on the hope and work on her career.
Bu-ki comments that it seems Min-jae really likes Shin-young, who admits, “Actually, I’m attracted to him too. My heart races and flutters. I wonder if I’ll run into him at the station, and I fuss over what to wear to work. Am I crazy? How could I feel all this about him?”
Clearly she is hung up on the social difficulties of dating someone a decade younger, but Bu-ki chides her for overthinking it — she should just let herself fall in love. When Da-jung protests that at their age they should be more thoughtful, Bu-ki sighs, eyeing each friend in turn: “One only wants what she can’t have, and the other can’t even open the gift she’s been given.”
Evil shifty sunbae Myung-seok congratulates Shin-young and her team for scoring their latest interview with the politician’s girlfriend. Naturally, praise coming from such a scumbag makes her team uneasy.
Shin-young perks up at the approach of Min-jae and his entourage of musicians, standing to greet him. However, he’s been feeling perturbed ever since the encounter with Sang-woo and continues on his way without acknowledging her.
Puzzled over his avoidance, Shin-young asks her colleagues for advice, outlining her situation but attributing it to “a friend.” Rather than siding with her, they call the friend crazy — how could she ask the younger manfriend to fake closeness just to put off the ex? If manboy had real feelings for her, her behavior would have been especially rude and he probably felt used.
Mulling that over, Shin-young loiters around the music room, where Min-jae finds her and asks, “Did you come because you wanted to see me?” She answers yes, and that answer helps ease his reaction — although still subdued, a hint of his flirtiness returns to his voice. Shin-young clocks his reaction and asks, “I guess you do like me then.” He answers candidly, “I must like you a lot.”
She apologizes for hurting his feelings last night and offers to buy dinner tonight. When he answers that he’s busy, she urges him not to play hard to get — but before he can respond, her attention is diverted: the politician (and girlfriend-beater) is talking to Myung-seok. Hit with a hunch, she hurries off to confirm it, leaving Min-jae hanging. He wonders, “Is she a player?”
Alas, her reaction is driven by something more dire than mere romantic gamesmanship: Shin-young discovers that Assemblyman Park is here for an interview on Myung-seok’s live program. Not only has Myung-seok sniffed out her story, he’s one-upped her by scoring an interview with the bigger fish and rendering Shin-young’s interview moot. He had warned the assemblyman that another reporter was planning to air an interview with the battered girlfriend, and promised that he’d be able to kill rumors from spreading if the assemblyman appeared on his program.
Shin-young goes to her boss, the station’s deputy director, and asks him to move up her interview asap. The director says that he’ll reschedule her program, but they’ll have to kill her interview.
Shin-young wasn’t born yesterday, and she hits upon the truth: The director put her up to this from the start, didn’t he? He dropped the battered girlfriend story in her lap and pushed her to get the interview. He had never intended to air it, planning instead to use that as bait to score the assemblyman’s interview.
The director isn’t malicious (unlike Myung-seok) but purely pragmatic, knowing where his bread is buttered. In exchange for this unfair treatment (or in appeasement, more like), he agrees move up her pilot program.
She confronts Myung-seok, who is prepping for his live interview. She stares at him for long moments, which makes him wary and prompts him to speak first. He offers some “friendly” advice, saying that even if she swears on the inside to get back at him, but the best thing for her to do right now is to stay quiet. Surprisingly, Shin-young gives him her tapes of the girlfriend’s interview, which delights him. Finally, she’s learned “teamwork” and thought of the station first!
I freaking LOVE Shin-young’s response because it’s so succinct and witty: she merely hands him a plastic bag and suggests he eat the contents before his broadcast. When he opens the bag, he sees the traditional yeot candy and understands the message. (“Eat yeot” is a slang way of saying “Fuck you.”)
Shin-young’s team watches the interview with bitter spirits. Min-jae sees the broadcast playing on a hallway television and realizes that Shin-young has been scooped, and bursts into her office to ask what happened. Frustrated with her resigned response, he raises his voice — is she going to just take it? She should get online asap and leak the girlfriend’s interview.
Shin-young sighs, “You’re still young, Ha Min-jae.” Incensed, Min-jae storms out, vowing to burst into the live broadcast to screw up the interview. Shin-young chases him out to stop him.
Shin-young: “Okay, you’re the only one who’s righteous. You’re the only one with courage. I know this situation is screwed up, but I’ve experienced much more upsetting things. You must want to ask why I don’t resign. Live a little more. Then you’ll know.”
Min-jae: “Are you that scared?”
Shin-young: “I am. I want to resign right now too, but then I think of what I’ll have to do tomorrow and it scares me. Why wouldn’t I feel wronged? Live a little more, Ha Min-jae. You’ll find there are times when you’ll have to bow your head humbly.”
Hearing about the deputy director’s appeasement, he asks if that’s why she is just accepting this (with a hint of judgment). He says, “Must be nice to be older.” She says, “Must be nice to be young.”
Shin-young has another visitor and has to face the battered girlfriend regretfully. She starts to apologize about the interview being killed. After all that persuasive talk about empowering other battered women, the victim understandably feels misused, and throws a glass of water in her face. With scathing words — “You’re just like him” — she leaves.
Going out for drinks, Shin-young’s co-workers urge her to cheer up — rather than thinking of quitting, she should think realistically. They should look ahead to their pilot broadcast and do a killer job.
Out of nowhere, Min-jae’s voice cuts in, saying, “I don’t understand people who drink when they’re upset.” Shin-young retorts, “Then should I dance?” Min-jae says, “Yeah, let’s dance instead.” Grabbing her hand, he leads her away, not letting up on his hold until they arrive at an outdoor ice rink.
Shin-young protests as he laces her into skates, not in the mood for festive activities. He overrides her, saying cheerily that he hid her shoes, and leads her onto the ice. Despite her depressed mood, his energy is infectious, and Shin-young starts to feel her mood lighten.
A photographer calls the couple over to take a photo together, calling Min-jae “student” and referring to Shin-young as his pretty girlfriend. He compliments them as a great-looking couple and says they must be the same age.
On the ice, Shin-young takes a few lingering looks at Min-jae as he helps her skate. At one point he lets go of her, causing her to flail wildly. They end up falling onto the ice, and Shin-young lands on top of him.
At their close proximity, an awareness grows between them as he asks, “Did you hear him call you my girlfriend? And that we were the same age?” And then he breaks the spell by laughing, “Ah, do I look that old? I’d better take care of myself.”
Once home, Min-jae frames the photo and places it on his nightstand by the bed. Shin-young tosses her copy in her nightstand drawer.
This is telling of their dynamic: despite the flirty, easy vibe that Min-jae projects, he’s more invested in this relationship than Shin-young. Or, to put it another way, he’s more willing to jump into it. She, being older, is tripped up by concerns outside of mere attraction — age, propriety, future, etc.
Bu-ki waits in a cafe for Sang-mi, per their “bet” regarding the adulterous husband. Sang-mi lies and says that her husband didn’t give her the flowers, and strives to answer Bu-ki’s questions in a cool, detached manner. For instance, she says that she knows about her husband’s infidelity but didn’t confront him about it “because it’s inconvenient.” Even when Bu-ki speaks to her frankly, letting her know that she is aware Sang-mi is lying, she sticks to her stance that her husband’s adultery not worth taking a stand on.
Bu-ki was first tipped off that the husband — who was passing himself off as single — was married because his shirts were so clean and pressed. As a sympathetic parting comment, she advises Sang-mi not to iron so diligently.
When Bu-ki heads to her car, she’s accosted by a group of mean, somewhat vulgar ajummas who accuse her of being the Other Woman. Facing her spitefully, they advance and prepare to rip out her hair.
However, Bu-ki is more than able to defend herself, and it’s the ajummas who end up shoved away. Understanding that these are Sang-mi’s friends, Bu-ki calls the woman out to confront her about setting a trap for her.
Bu-ki had given Sang-mi credit for being more honorable than that, and asserts that she didn’t have an affair with the husband, so she doesn’t deserve this treatment. Furthermore, she only told Sang-mi the truth out of a feeling of solidarity, because she liked her. She offers Sang-mi her card and tells her to contact her if she wants. Or not.
Based on Sang-mi’s distraught reaction as she walks away, it seems likely that she isn’t really as cool as she had pretended, and that her detached attitude was more for Bu-ki’s benefit.
Da-jung may have sworn off marriage but she can’t resist a tip offered by a colleague. The woman had similar trouble dating but has recently found herself a boyfriend, and shares a tried-and-true secret method for meeting a boyfriend.
Unable to pass up this tip, Da-jung immediately tries it out: she goes to a noraebang and proceeds to sing one song on repeat, 22 times within an hour. The title of the song (posted up top) is “If you meet a good man, introduce me.”
She then departs on her business trip to London. Her flight, piloted by Sang-woo, also carries Ban-seok on his way to the same seminar. When the flight attendant asks if there is a doctor in the house, he presents himself and helps an ill passenger suffering severe chest pains, brought about by an extreme bout of indigestion.
However, Da-jung remains sleeping through the episode, only waking in time to see Ban-seok being applauded by the passengers.
At the seminar, Ban-seok listens to the translations provided by Da-jung, attracted to the lovely voice. He cranes his neck for a glimpse of the interpreter, curious whether the woman is as pretty as her voice. The moment he gets a glimpse of Da-jung, he’s smitten.
He hovers for an opening, and finds it when Da-jung grimaces, apparently feeling some indigestion issues herself. He administers a quick acupuncture treatment, which clears up her pains quickly. She thanks him politely, and when Ban-seok returns to his seat, he dozes and dreams of her. Dream Da-jung coos, “I’m all better now. I respect you sooooo much!” and she does the patented oppa-pout-wiggle (well, without the “oppa” part — but the pout-wiggle is more than effective).
Ban-seok loiters at the end of the day for another opportunity to talk with her. With his usual stiff and awkward way, he fishes for conversation topics. When he comments on the size of the room, Da-jung realizes he’s trying to make an advance, and gives him a surreptitious once-over. Nice shoes. Crisp suit. Ringless left hand. All signs point to go.
When he asks her out to dinner, she declines due to a prior engagement. His attempt to give her his card is thwarted because he has run out, but to his glee, she gives him hers.
When Ban-seok returns to Korea, he visits Min-jae and exults that he found a wonderful woman without Min-jae’s coaching. Spotting the new photo of Min-jae and Shin-young bedside, he warns Min-jae to put it away — what if his mother sees it? She’d surely kick up a fuss, especially when it’s evident how much older the woman is. Thinking it’s still just a game, he warns Min-jae to end the relationship now.
Sang-mi takes out her frustrations in her dance studio (she appears to teach Latin dance), and explains to her partner that at least she’s able to pour all her emotions into dancing — hurt, betrayal, and the feeling that “All that’s left to my life is enduring.”
There’s a nice wordless sequence at the grocery store, where Sang-mi dully goes through the aisles grabbing junk food and wine without discrimination. (Who hasn’t been there, right?) Her mental fatigue and attitude of “Screw it, I give up” is palpable. At the checkout, however, she changes her mind, heads back to the aisles, and returns the junk food to the shelves. Halfway through the process, she’s overcome with frustration and leaves the cart behind, exiting the store empty-handed.
Grabbing a taxi, she thinks of a destination to tell the driver, but realizes, “There’s no place I want to go.”
Thus it is that Sang-mi ends up at Bu-ki’s restaurant, where the latter invites her to sit for some coffee. Sang-mi admits that her husband did give her Bu-ki’s flowers. Bu-ki is sympathetic but perhaps overdoes the friendliness as she invites Sang-mi to participate in the restaurant’s upcoming cooking classes, and suggests they have drinks sometime, even offering to share her own story about her broken engagement. Not that friendliness is wrong, but it’s like Bu-ki crosses a line, and Sang-mi asks, “Why do you have to tell me that story? Because you feel sorry for me?”
The conversation turns to the question of turning back time — would you redo a particular moment if that were possible? Bu-ki is content with her life and wouldn’t turn back time, but Sang-mi’s answer is less sanguine. She’d go back to her first night with her husband, because her pregnancy was the only reason they married. Now she has a 24-year-old son who is her only hope.
Bu-ki marvels that she could have a son that age, since her friend is dating a 24-year-old. (This has got to be a Big Flashing Clue: Sang-mi must be Min-jae’s mother no?) Bu-ki advises the woman not to place her hope in others.
Still wary of Bu-ki’s friendly overtures, Sang-mi tells her not to force herself to act like she likes her. Bu-ki returns, “I know you like me. Don’t force yourself to push me away.”
Min-jae’s program holds its first recording, and Shin-young drops by the studio to watch him perform. She thinks:
Shin-young: “If time were to stop for me and speed by for him so that tomorrow morning we were the same age, how would that be? I don’t want to return to his age. How could I experience everything again? I like my age right now. It’s just that there isn’t a man who will embrace this age, and I’m afraid of being attracted to him. My age isn’t a sin. I didn’t know I’d feel such nervous excitement at this age. Feeling dizzy after having lost this sensation of dating, this is Lee Shin-young.”
(Note that Shin-young always signs off her voiceovers with the phrase “This is Lee Shin-young,” which is meant to mirror a reporter’s sendoff when wrapping up a news report.)
Shin-young and Bu-ki had made plans to go to the sauna for a steam session, but Bu-ki runs into last-minute work issues. Instead, she brings home a personal steam machine, which she urges Shin-young to use. Of course, when Shin-young puts it together, she sees that it’s a BUTT STEAMER! HAHAHAHA. (Which sounds dirty, I know.)
Da-jung, meanwhile, hits it off with Ban-seok on a dinner date. They have tons in common, and the more they talk, the more they like about each other. For instance, both prefer their makgulli (unfiltered rice wine) unshaken, which is not the usual way of drinking it. Da-jung is pleased to hear that he’s a second son, since she has sworn off eldest ones. (There are few reasons she may dislike eldest sons, among them the fact that first sons have more responsibilities to the family. Therefore their wives are held up to more exacting standards than wives of younger sons. Most importantly, first sons take care of their parents in old age and often live in the same household. Not a modern career woman’s favorite way to live.)
They even share the same opinions on relationships with younger men dating older women. Ban-seok vaguely refers to his friend who is dating an older women purely because of a bet, and Da-jung shares Ban-seok’s outrage. When she comments that your mate is the only family member you can choose, Ban-seok excitedly points out that he has said that very thing repeatedly. When she suggests that they go to a spaghetti restaurant next time, he practically bounces himself out of his chair, because it’s also something he was thinking.
On the taxi ride to Da-jung’s place, both can hardly believe their good luck. As they say their goodbyes outside, Da-jung stumbles on the sidewalk.
And so it is that Ban-seok escorts Da-jung up to her apartment — where Shin-young sits on her butt-machine (heh) watching television. Recognizing each other, Ban-seok’s and Shin-young’s eyes widen in horror.
Just a fun trivia note: I was wondering just how famous Min-jae was supposed to be — it’s like everyone has heard of him except Shin-young, so is he a star or not? Episode 5 cleared things up with two references to an artist who probably offers some basis for Min-jae: folk-indie sensation Jang Kiha. In case you’re not familiar, Jang Kiha blew up bigtime in 2009 after mostly enjoying smalltime fame in the local club scene. Min-jae is like the manchild stepbrother of Jang Kiha — similar indie cred, but with the pop-rock musical taste of FT Island. (The Episode 5 references: (1) Shin-young pulls up to a car of hipster-dorks rocking out to one of Jang Kiha’s songs, and (2) Da-jung fakes that she’s a fan of Min-jae by saying she loves his song “Cheap Coffee” — which is, of course, one of Jang Kiha’s hits.)
I appreciate the treatment of age in this drama. It’s not overplayed as an artificial obstacle; we’re not seeing people in love beating their chests because they can’t be together due to age. Rather, I find all the arguments valid and realistic, such as how Min-jae is full of youthful indignation over Shin-young’s sabotaged program and Shin-young’s response to it. She doesn’t negate his opinion entirely based on his age — it’s more nuanced than that. One gets the sense that Min-jae wants to be taken seriously as a man, without that asterisk by his name that always references his youth. However, it’s true that one who hasn’t experienced a certain life circumstance doesn’t have the same perspective as someone who has. There’s no judgment about his lack of life experience, and Shin-young doesn’t tell him to live more with a snotty tone. She’s just reminding him that she once knew the same youthful idealism, but that additional life experience has taught her that things are rarely so simple.
In that way, as girlfriday mentioned in the previous recap, it really does seem that Shin-young is the one in control of this relationship. She isn’t trying to wield age as an argument-winner, but if she’s not careful, she’ll push him away by relying upon it as an excuse. Min-jae will have to step it up by not letting her get away with it.
One thing working in Min-jae’s favor is his way of being open with his feelings, such as when he admits that he likes her. That’s a confession that would make most (or many) adults feel that they’ve put themselves in the weaker position, but Min-jae owns his feelings. In being so frank, he doesn’t give Shin-young the opportunity to play dating games with him — which, by contrast, is a role she naturally fell into with Ban-seok. (Btw, I’m not judging her for it; I think it was only natural that they were both following the societal script of how to date.) Maybe this will be what makes her work with Min-jae, because even if he is naive, he isn’t fettered by overthinking. More experienced adults may put up defenses as they encounter disappointments and pain, but Min-jae hasn’t got that wall.
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- The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 3
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