This screencap isn’t really a big spoiler, right? We ARE almost at the end, after all, and it’s not like it’s a big cliffhanger…
Here we are, at the last week. Things start to wrap up with the multiple plotlines coming to a conclusion or setting up for the big finish. Ending episodes always tend to feel a little jerky to me, because in the interest of tying up loose ends, we lose flow and pacing. I’m not surprised that this episode has that sort of unevenness, but I suppose the resolution of a few big dangling threads makes up for it. At least somewhat.
SONG OF THE DAY
Mate – “Better” [ Download ]
EPISODE 19 RECAP
Appearing unexpectedly, Jun-ha does his patented shoulder-grab as he asks his brother, “Why do you have to marry Jae-young because of me?” Jae-young keeps her eyes averted, and Kang-ha is stunned speechless to be thus discovered.
Jun-ha demands to know what Jae-young is holding over Kang-ha to force him to give up Pal-gang. What aren’t they telling Jun-ha to force them to marry? She has some nerve answering, “I can’t tell you that. If I do, I can’t marry him.” Well, this has been a circular discussion, brought to you by the letter O (My God Just Talk, People).
The brothers step aside for a private talk, and Kang-ha asks Jun-ha to let this go this once and pretend he didn’t overhear the conversation. To his shock, Jun-ha asks (rather casually in fact), “Are you asking me to pretend I don’t know you and I have different mothers?”
As Kang-ha gapes, Jun-ha explains that he found out when he was in fifth grade — it was after another huge fight with their father, and Kang-ha had run away. A week later, their father dragged him back home and they’d fought again: “As he hit you, you talked back. You said you’d live with your mother, and that you were born outside of the family, so why does he keep bringing you back?”
Not only that, Jun-ha’s mother had heard, and that was the day she gave him his own room and told Jun-ha not to use it, because Kang-ha needed his own space. Jun-ha asks, “She loved you a lot — why didn’t you ever call her Mom?”
Kang-ha explains that he couldn’t, even though he wanted to, again demonstrating his own self-loathing. She was too fine and kind that “it felt like a guy like me couldn’t call her Mother.” Furthermore, he felt that would have been unfair — “I couldn’t take that from you.”
Jun-ha reminisces about growing up always wanting to be like Kang-ha, who stood up to Father. Even when his friends questioned why he followed his brother around, he continued to do so: “Actually, I never wanted to beat you. I always felt safe following behind you.” He concedes this round to Kang-ha, too, saying that whenever he cares for someone, they’re always looking at Kang-ha.
Jun-ha advises, “So stay here” (meaning at the hospital with Pal-gang). Kang-ha sighs, “Not this time.” Jun-ha smiles ruefully and requests, “Give me the chance to step back with dignity.”
As he drives home, Jun-ha tears up as he talks aloud, as though to his mother: “Hung says he wanted to call you Mother. You must be happy to have your wish granted.” (I don’t recall hearing what happened to her, but I’m assuming she has died.)
At the hospital, Pal-gang tells Kang-ha he can go home. She’ll stay with Nam, but there’s no need for him to remain.
He gets up to leave and addresses their relationship status indirectly by saying she’ll have to be on her own “until Jun-ha comes.” He’s always taken things from his brother, and can’t do it this time. Giving her up doesn’t necessarily mean that Jun-ha will get what he wants and he recognizes this, but Kang-ha adds, “But in that case, I won’t either.” Even if neither of them ends up with Pal-gang, he’d rather not claim her and add more hurt to his brother. It’s simultaneously a stupid and sweet thought.
Grandpa rushes to hospital, where Kang-ha explains Nam’s situation. Grandpa understands now that the reason Kang-ha didn’t go to his own engagement party was because he was here with Pal-gang.
He chides Pal-gang for not telling him about the situation right away, and comforts her as she cries. Not wanting to upset the family with Nam’s condition, Pal-gang tells Eun-mal and the kids that she’s merely away on a business trip.
When Jun-ha comes upon Jae-young at the bar, she tells him that she knew he would come find her here, because he’s always done that. She wonders, “Why couldn’t it be you? It would’ve been nice if it was you.” Still, she’s determined to get her way and tells Jun-ha that she won’t tell him what he wants to know because she’ll need to use him in order to get Kang-ha.
Jun-ha replies, “Sorry, but I already know everything. … So you can’t use me.”
Sensing Jun-ha’s dejected mood, Jae-young asks if he really does love Pal-gang. He says, “What use is that? She only sees him.”
At another bar, Kang-ha drinks. I know drinking is drama shorthand to show that our heroes are in turmoil, but again? I think part of what makes the latter half of this drama a little ridiculous is the repetitive nature of its plot beats (like Jae-young’s robotic insistence on marrying Kang-ha like she’s some Terminator of Happiness and/or Logic), and the drinking is enough to make MY liver hurt. Can’t he go hit baseballs, or brood by the Han River or something?
As he drinks, Kang-ha thinks over Jun-ha’s words, but guilt prevents him from being able to take this chance. He murmurs, “Not this time. Just this time, I won’t.”
Jae-young finds Kang-ha at work, and he apologizes for not showing up to their engagement, but offers to get married right away. And Jae-young slaps him.
(URG. Speaking of drama shorthand… I’ve read a lot of explanations, defenses, and criticisms of the previous slaps. There have been a lot of thoughtful comments dissecting all the various instances, and I agree in disliking the slap but understanding the thought behind it. However, it IS lazy writing at this point, more shorthand to skip over the task of trying to differentiate its scenes with any originality. Come on, if we’ve got to see everyone going slaphappy I at least want some variety here. Give me a yanking of hair, a knee to the groin, a glove thrown in a face.)
Kang-ha is a mighty patient man to endure two slaps from Jae-young within a 24-hour period. This one at least isn’t an I-hate-you slap, but a wake-up-you-fool slap, as she asks why he’s staying when Jun-ha already knows the truth. Kang-ha stubbornly says he will marry Jae-young, and she replies, “But now I don’t want to.”
She realized something while clinging to him desperately: “Love doesn’t happen even if you push someone toward it. So don’t turn Jun-ha into a fool.” Kang-ha’s insistence on giving up his happiness for his brother’s sake only makes Jun-ha seem sadder, because we all know Jun-ha’s not going to win Pal-gang over no matter what Kang-ha does.
Now the situation is all flipped around and In-gu is horribly confused. Jae-young suddenly says she’s not marrying Kang-ha, and now Jun-ha wants a transfer to the States?
Kang-ha doesn’t like this plan and confronts his brother. Jun-ha tells him that he’s sick of being this guy, and threatens to disown him if Kang-ha keeps going like this. As much as Kang-ha doesn’t want to be the guy who always steals his brother’s women, Jun-ha doesn’t want to be the guy who ruins his brother’s happiness, either.
Good lord. This has got to be the most drawn-out game of “Not It” ever.
And then… a breakthrough! Kang-ha and Grandpa Jung rush to the police station when they hear that Jung-ae and her son have been located, having been caught trying to enter China with false papers.
Grandpa introduces himself as Jung-ae’s father (in law), and reminds her of his son. To his surprise, she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so Kang-ha asks about her son’s father. Isn’t he the chairman’s grandson?
Jung-ae explains that they must be mistaken, because the boy’s father was a married man, which is why she left her hometown in the first place — she didn’t want that to ruin her son’s future. This is a big shock, and although Kang-ha suggests a DNA test just in case, it’s clear they were barking up the wrong tree all this time. Furthermore, Grandpa’s weakened health can’t endure this shock, and he ends up in the hospital. Again.
Pal-gang hasn’t left the hospital since Nam was brought in, worrying over him as he remains unconscious. (By the way: Baby in a respirator = total low emotional blow, drama! You just can’t say anything when you’ve got a baby hooked up to drips and machines and looking all pathetic.)
When Pal-gang emerges from the room, she finds Kang-ha waiting for her, a little startled given the finality of his statements when he left the last time. He explains that Jun-ha won’t be his brother anymore if he lets Pal-gang go. He holds her, then admits that that’s just an excuse — despite his constant reminders to himself not to come here, he would have come in the end. Jun-ha just pushed him here a bit sooner.
Kang-ha says, “I’m sorry for hesitating too much. Now that I’m here, will you forgive me?” Pal-gang starts crying in earnest at that, likely out of relief to have this emotional rollercoaster at an end. He vows, “I won’t go anywhere now.”
Not long afterward, they are joined by the whole troop as the kids are ushered to the hospital with Eun-mal and Jin-ju. They have been brought here by Jun-ha, who offers his brother a smile and leaves to allow the family to have their moment.
The kids had found out the truth about Nam’s illness when Ju-hwang called Pal-gang’s office to ask about her business trip. Now they all burst out that it was unfair of Pal-gang to keep this from them. She tearfully apologizes.
While Ju-hwang sits with sleeping Nam (the other kids are too young to enter the room), the others look curiously at Kang-ha. Jin-ju and Eun-mal ask why he’s here, but before he can come up with a response, Pa-rang speaks up: “Ajusshi… you love our sister, right?”
Everyone looks at him in surprise, wondering how he’ll respond. They gape as Kang-ha answers simply, “Yes, you’re right.” Pa-rang fully approves.
The Jung family arrive at the hospital to visit the chairman, where they run into one of the doctors in the hallway — it’s Min-kyung’s brother. They explain why they’re here and visit the chairman’s room, but Min-kyung is called away with an important phone call.
She slips outside to meet with Kim Do-shik, her hired hit man, who gives her bad news. Jung-ae got caught with her fake passport and was taken in by the police. Worse yet, the chairman and Kang-ha have already gone to see them, and requested a DNA test.
Min-kyung doesn’t notice that they have been observed by Jang-soo, who recognizes her and finds it odd that she would be talking to Do-shik.
Jang-soo takes the adults aside to report this odd finding, and tries to puzzle through how the truck driver knows Min-kyung, and what this could mean for their case.
Kang-ha definitely thinks this is suspicious and reports the news to the chairman, connecting the dots between Min-kyung and Jung-ae’s sudden departure. He even suspects there may be a connection to the accident that killed Pal-gang’s parents. The chairman warns him to keep this between the two of them.
All the adults get their blood tested to see if they can be a donor for Nam. The kids want to get tested too but are too young, and have low appetites over lunch. Pal-gang insists they eat to keep up their strength and shushes their protests. She also shushes Kang-ha, which triggers another bout of bickering between the two. Everyone understands that this is how these two lovebirds communicate, and smile knowingly.
More drinking! At least the atmosphere this time is lighter than the last — Jun-ha and Jae-young are in the stage where they’ve accepted the results and now are trying to approach the situation with rueful humor. Jun-ha laughs about all of Pal-gang’s faults, recalling how she couldn’t cook and predicting that brother is going to suffer if they marry.
Jae-young is sympathetic, understanding that he’s compensating for his rejection, and suggests that Jun-ha go through with his initial plan to move to the States. Jun-ha vetoes this plan because leaving would only make Kang-ha and Pal-gang feel sorry toward him. The best thing is to stay and pretend he’s over it. Jae-young comments that it’s obvious he’s not over it, and he quips that he’d better practice.
Nam takes a downturn, and the bad news is such an emotional burden that Pal-gang vomits in the restroom while Kang-ha waits anxiously outside. When she emerges, she tries to laugh it off by saying she ate too much, but Kang-ha knows he’s lying.
Holding her close, Kang-ha tells her, “You don’t have to act brave in front of me.”
This, of course, is the scene that Tae-kyu witnesses. He has come to see Nam and to get tested as a possible donor, and this sight sends him into an emotional fit, feeling betrayed by his uncle. Kang-ha says he’s sorry, but I like that his apology is sincere without being indulgent — as we know, Tae-kyu has a tendency to emote in extremes.
Kang-ha didn’t mean to hurt Tae-kyu, but he still corrects Tae-kyu’s use of Pal-gang’s name. As we have seen, there’s been a little difficulty in pinning down the appropriate way for Tae-kyu to address Pal-gang, but with the love lines defined (finally!), they can solidify the relationships and it’s no longer appropriate for Tae-kyu to address her on a first-name basis. As his uncle’s love interest, despite their three-year age gap Pal-gang is in a different “generation” than Tae-kyu, and therefore he ought to call her “ajumoni” (ma’am). Tae-kyu retorts childishly that he’ll call her by her name forever.
Jae-young drops by to see Pal-gang, for once facing her without scorn. Pal-gang apologizes “for everything,” surprised when Jae-young offers a hand and acknowledges that she lost. She explains that the reason she had clung so hard to Kang-ha is because he’d never been especially interested in any woman. Therefore, if he felt the same level of indifference to all women, then at least she could assert her claim on him. But now with Pal-gang, she sees that she can’t compare to that and hence her withdrawal.
In a sorta conciliatory gesture, Pal-gang shares with Jae-young, “Do you know why [Jun-ha] first approached me? It was for you.” She explains that Jun-ha had been trying to direct Kang-ha’s feelings toward Jae-young, and had believed that the most loving thing to do for the one who doesn’t love you back is to not love them. Jae-young seems to understand the implication — that he did it out of love for her.
Pal-gang and Kang-ha continue to stay at the hospital, where Eun-mal brings them fresh clothing and watches in amusement as they start bickering again. Pal-gang nags Kang-ha for not going in to work, and he nags back about her not resting in the room that Grandpa has had reserved for her.
Kang-ha knows she’s just using these complaints to cover up her real feelings, saying, “You know you feel reassured with me here with you.” She’s not going to admit that, but he continues, “If you feel like weeping in gratitude, just say thank you.”
Pal-gang starts to protest, so he swoops in to shut her up with a kiss.
I love how unromantically he addresses her afterward. Rather than wax sentimental, he continues in his matter-of-fact tone and warns, “Just keep chattering on — I’ll take that to mean you want to be kissed again.” Kang-ha grumbles that she sure protests a lot — she should just thank him if she feels grateful.
All the while, Pal-gang stands in a daze, unable to even respond.
Min-kyung gets some good news and some bad news. First, she hears that according to DNA results, Jung-ae’s son is not related to the chairman. This means that they’ve been chasing the wrong trail all this while, but that Min-kyung is safe for the moment.
However, her brother shows her something odd in the blood test results taken from Nam’s hopeful donors. Pal-gang’s bloodwork indicates that she and the chairman ARE related — what’s up with that?
Min-kyung doesn’t fully understand HOW this is, but she knows what it means. Pal-gang is more of a threat than ever, so Min-kyung tries to figure a way to spin this to protect her interests. She takes Kang-ha aside to ask about his relationship with Pal-gang, which he confirms. Acting like she’s doing this out of maternal concern for Jae-young’s feelings, she asks Kang-ha how he would feel about transferring to the States. He can marry Pal-gang and take her along. Min-kyung explains that she’s looking to protect Jae-young’s feelings as his discarded fiancee, but we know that this is her last-ditch effort to get Pal-gang far away from the chairman.
Kang-ha isn’t inclined to oblige her, but he merely answers that there’s a lot to handle right now with Nam’s surgery impending. (They’ve found a donor from Japan, and surgery will be planned as soon as possible.) He’ll consider the suggestion afterward.
Jae-young arrives at the hospital, where she finds Jun-ha hanging around outside, concerned for Nam’s upcoming surgery but not up to facing everyone. Jae-young explains her presence by saying that she figured he would be here. However, since it’s not really their place to be here, they can go elsewhere and wish for Nam’s success from a distance.
And then, it’s time for the surgery. The family looks on anxiously as Nam is wheeled away…
To be perfectly honest, I’ve long since given up on this drama being a logical, well-woven story. Maybe that’s why I’ve been able to enjoy this show so much, because it hits enough buttons to be enjoyable and satisfying. I do acknowledge that there are plot holes and logic gaps that prevent this from being an example of skillful drama work, so the drama’s real talent is in somehow rising to become more than the sum of its parts.
I think we’ll end tomorrow with some untied ends, but it looks like all the big ones will be addressed. Since I don’t think there are many surprises left to reveal, I’d rather they give us a lot of cute family moments rather than trying to work out some convoluted ending of the mysteries.
And yes, because it must be mentioned: The hair, yikes, the hair! I hadn’t really noticed Kim Ji-hoon’s shaved hairline at the outset, but it really has been getting worse in later episodes. I suspect that it’s because they first only shaved a few of the strays to clean up the hairline, and then had to shave a little more each time to keep the line straight. Like a schoolgirl giving her friend a homemade haircut and “evening up” one side, then the other, until a mere trim becomes a Felicity moment. To prove that Kim Ji-hoon is not in fact balding, or in possession of a fivehead (big brother to the forehead), here he is in Episode 2 (left) with a perfectly normal hairline, and then in Episode 19 looking vaguely alienish.
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- Wish Upon a Star: Episode 13
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- Shin Dong-wook’s fan club treats drama staff to holiday meal
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- Wish Upon a Star: Episodes 3-4
- Wish Upon a Star: Episodes 1-2
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