I thought this episode was better than the previous ones. It didn’t suddenly get rid of its weaknesses, but it gelled together nicely, probably because the characters’ relationships are starting to take shape and Min-woo is taking significant steps in growing as a person. Also, the different plot threads — which have felt pretty scattered so far — start to come together, making for a more cohesive overall effect.
SONG OF THE DAY
Vanilla Acoustic – “음악이 되다” (Become the music) [ Download ]
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Seeing Kae-hwa leaving with Shi-joon, Min-woo drives home with his cake, muttering all the way that she sure has nerve, riding in a man’s car at night. Where is she going at this hour, anyway? I wouldn’t say he’s jealous (yet), but he’s certainly more curious than he’d like to admit. He gives the cake to his security guard.
Min-ji comes out to meet her mother at the nearby park, where she thanks Shi-joon prettily for the cake. She asks if her mother is a good employee, and while Kae-hwa hesitates for a moment, Shi-joon answers in the affirmative. Not only is she a good employee, she even has the job title as planning manager.
He steps aside to let the ladies have their private party, although he watches from a distance. I’d say Kae-hwa’s a pretty cool mom just from the fact that she and Min-ji dig into the cake with forks, which is a prospect that would have my own dear fastidious mother clutching pearls in horror.
Min-ji tells her mother that she actually bragged about her at school today, which warms the cockles of Kae-hwa’s heart. Her classmate had been bragging about how her parents went to a musical, so Min-ji had to knock her off her high horse a little by saying that her mother MAKES musicals! I love that Kae-hwa doesn’t admonish Min-ji for that unsporting thought, even if perhaps she ought to have. Let the kid enjoy her moment, right?
When Kae-hwa finally arrives home, Min-woo feigns nonchalance but looks at Kae-hwa with suspicious eyes. Where has she been? His eyes narrow even more when she answers that she was at work, “and then had a great time!” What the heck is that supposed to mean? As she is thinking of her lovely mother-daughter bonding session, Kae-hwa remains oblivious to his disgruntled mood.
Casually, he asks for Kae-hwa’s thoughts on dating — has she dated a lot? She answers that her husband was her one and only experience, although she enjoyed her share of popularity when she was younger.
Using his extensive acting experience as a basis for human insight, Min-woo tries to give Kae-hwa advice about dating. Particularly about being used by married men, whom she must take care to avoid. “You should live quietly, and think of your child.” It’s the closest way he can warn her off Shi-joon without admitting to actual jealousy, and is therefore adorable. Not surprisingly, she scoffs to be given life advice from Min-woo of all people.
Kae-hwa gives Min-woo the tape of Ye-eun’s class, since he couldn’t go like all the other parents. Though he isn’t particularly eager to watch it, he puts in the tape and smiles to watch the girl dancing along with her classmates. He even feels a burst of indignation when the little boy at Ye-eun’s side pulls on her hair, and protests, “He’s a bad kid!” He goes to bed with a smile on his face, feeling warmth toward the child.
A recurring motif of this episode begins in this morning scene, as Kae-hwa starts off her day at full speed while Min-woo faces a day of nothing, having had his only activity canceled. He’s therefore a little put out to be relegated to the backseat as she makes calls and gets ready, as he’s unused to life as a low priority.
Byung-hak is tired of taking care of Min-ji — or rather, the new wife is — so he tells Kae-hwa to take her back. So desperate is he that he even offers to pay for a new place for them. Kae-hwa asks him to put up with it for just a little longer so she can become fully independent before she’s ready to take Min-ji back. Frankly I think it makes a lot more sense to take money from the father of your child who owes you child support than to (let’s face it) mooch off an unrelated movie star boss, but Law of Kdramas says that the couple needs to be forced together for the seed of love to sprout. Hence we must put up with the cliche a bit longer.
Producer Eom hears that The Show Company is holding auditions to replace the actor who was fired — who went to work for Eom, in fact. Eom exults that he’s working on scoring a big production — he doesn’t have the license yet, but when he acquires it, they’ll blow everyone out of the water and that’ll be the end of The Show Company. He’s got the investors lined up and ready.
Meanwhile, performers audition for the new show, showing off their skills and more than one rendition of that perennial musical favorite, “This Is the Moment.” (You’d think it’s the only solo from a musical ever. It’s a good song, but at this point it in itself is a cliche.)
At home alone, Min-woo is bored silly and hits upon the idea that he ought to drop in on the audition. It’s only common courtesy for the star to be there, right? He doesn’t need an ulterior motive like a certain meddling ajumma to justify his presence, does he?
So it is that Min-woo arrives as the auditions conclude, and offers to buy everybody lunch. Things quickly turn tense, however, when Jung-ah joins them with a lunch date — her Other Man.
Shi-joon stiffens (even more, if that’s possible) and Kae-hwa, being privy to this couple’s marital problems, notices right away. Feeling sorry for Shi-joon, she compensates by being extra-solicitous — which attracts Min-woo’s attention, to his dissatisfaction.
The tense mood hangs in the air until Shi-joon leaves the table early, forcing his employees to follow him out. Thus Jung-ah and her companion are left behind.
Kae-hwa accompanies Shi-joon back to the office in his car, and because the air is uncomfortable, she ignores a call from Min-woo. He calls back, so she picks up and mutters an excuse, hanging up quickly, which means that once again Min-woo has been relegated to the backseat of Kae-hwa’s attentions, to his confusion.
Rather than dancing around the pink elephant in the room — er, car — Shi-joon guesses that Kae-hwa knows what’s going on. Kae-hwa does, and apologizes for it. But at least this allows him to talk more openly about it, and when they take a detour to the park, he admits that his wife wanted more love than he gave her. Kae-hwa chides him gently for knowing that, and yet not giving it to her.
Given how she left him hanging the other night, Yura has been expecting a call from Min-woo, and wonders how to engage his attention again. She does this by texting Min-woo, but addressing it to someone else, making it seem like a mis-sent message about how she was sick. It’s telling that although Min-woo is quick to call her, he obviously hasn’t been thinking of her at all until she reminded him.
When they meet, Yura asks how much time he has left on his management contract — isn’t he interested in moving to a big company? Min-woo gives a vague response about sticking with the people who have been with him all this while, but she casts little seeds of doubt, saying that his company is on the wane. He ought to think of his future, not of loyalty to the managers. One would expect no less from an opportunist like Yura, huh?
Reporter Han drops by the office to press for news about Min-woo, and tries to wheedle Kae-hwa (who is there alone) for information. He wonders why Min-woo picked this project, which isn’t what one would expect of a star of his stature, and suspects that he has a hidden reason.
Kae-hwa doesn’t seem as suspicious as she perhaps ought to be, but at least she’s smart enough not to talk freely about Min-woo’s decision. She tells him that she doesn’t have any information for him and feigns ignorance of the matter, leaving Han thwarted once more.
When she gets home that evening, Min-woo is waiting for her and grumbles at her late arrival, although naturally he acts cool and indifferent. The reason for his impatience becomes clear when Kae-hwa takes note of the stacks of boxes in the entryway. He pretends he doesn’t know what they are and instructs her to open them for him.
When she does, to her surprise she finds the first box full of teddy bears… and the next, and the next. For one laugh-out-loud moment she wonders why Min-woo would have ordered so many stuffed toys for himself, leading him to point in exasperation at the little girl. Trying not to sound too proud of himself, Min-woo explains that he’d noticed Ye-eun looking at the stuffed animals when they were out the last time (in Episode 2).
Now understanding, Kae-hwa exclaims excitedly to Ye-eun and piles the teddy bears in her arms. Ye-eun smiles the widest we’ve seen her smile so far, and accepts them happily.
Min-woo doesn’t say anything outright, but he does pat the girl on the head as he walks by, glad to see that she likes the gift. Later as Kae-hwa puts Ye-eun to bed, she tells the sleeping girl, “Ye-eun, you melted your father. You must have started to enter his heart.”
And she (finally!) takes a rag and starts to clean Min-woo’s vandalized photo, which has till now remained smeared with Ye-eun’s crayon doodles. LOL. Looks like he’s finally earned some respect.
Pleased with this first fatherly step, Kae-hwa has a snack ready for Min-woo before he even asks. (He starts to request it just as she presents it, which suggests that they’re becoming more familiar with each other.)
Kae-hwa sighs to think of how much she still has to learn about musicals; she’s been poring over the book but there’s so much to go through. Min-woo hopes that the musical will be a hit, and Kae-hwa agrees. But she has to go and sour his mood by adding, “If only for the president.” He doesn’t see what’s so great about Shi-joon, which prompts her to list his virtues. He’s passionate about his work, which isn’t easy to find in a person — most people just get by doing average work. (Min-woo grumbles that she’s got poor taste in men.)
There’s a more personal reason she’d like the musical to be a hit, since she can’t continue to work there if it fails. She has always been identified in terms of other people (i.e., Min-ji’s mom) — which is a common plight of the average Korean woman — and even having her own business card is a marvel: “It’s been ages since I’ve had a card with my own name on it. I have my own card and my workspace — do you know how reassuring that feels? A famous person like you wouldn’t know.”
Shi-joon arrives home and looks in on his wife’s room, which is empty. To tell us this is a sad moment — as though the fact that they’re using separate rooms isn’t enough — his eyes fall on a photo of the couple from happier times.
Jung-ah is out late at the studio, where her Other Man finds her. (I know the guy has a name — something like Ho-seok? — but they hardly ever use it so I can’t be sure.) He tells her that her stunt at lunch — bringing him along to the table with her husband — was pretty low of her. It was a discourtesy to both him and to Shi-joon.
Things are starting to go well for Kae-hwa, which of course means that now is the time for the shit to hit the fan. Just as she’s starting to feel proud of herself (and buoyed by Min-ji’s pride in her), the office learns some catastrophic news: their investment funds have not come through.
Shi-joon senses interference and heads off to meet with the investor to sort this out. While naive Kae-hwa is horrified, the others know that this happens all too frequently in the industry, and speculate that someone else has claimed the investment that was going to go to their production.
Min-woo gives another fan meeting, and sits for an interview afterward. As usual, as soon as the topic turns to mention of his acting, his foot starts to shake nervously and he gives a generic answer about wanting to challenge himself with this project.
My first thought was that this scene was an unnecessary repetition of a familiar scene, but I suppose that it serves to get Min-woo thinking about his acting insecurities again. This brings out the dichotomy between his status as carefree star and his desire for recognition of his talents, which builds as the episode heads toward its finish.
After the day’s events are over, manager Yoon-seok gets a phone call conveying exceedingly good news: The Show Co. lost its investment. Laughing at this fortunate twist of fate, Yoon-seok is thrilled that Min-woo doesn’t have to do the musical anymore. He’d been feeling frustrated at being forced to let Min-woo do it, so now he is pleased to have gotten what he wants without having to lift a finger.
But Min-woo is learning to think of people other than himself, and asks what’ll happen to the company. When he hears that it’ll naturally be ruined, he looks upset, although he pretends he’s happy for Yoon-seok’s benefit.
Shi-joon, waiting to get a chance to speak with the investor, sees Eom emerging from his own meeting with him, and guesses what happened. Eom gloats at having scored the funds over Shi-joon; with his big-name project, he was able to lure the investor to his side, with the help of some handy-dandy lobbying (aka bribing).
Min-woo wonders if Kae-hwa is off crying somewhere and hesitates over whether he should call her. Yoon-seok senses something strange in Min-woo’s reaction and follows behind in his car, puzzled to find that they’ve arrived at The Show Company’s office.
Inside, Kae-hwa is looking over her business cards sadly when she gets a call from Min-ji. The girl is excited to bring Mom in to school to talk to her class about her job, and Kae-hwa can’t tell her that her job might not still be in existence in a week’s time, so she agrees to go.
Min-woo would like to say something but can’t think of the words, so he just watches quietly, unseen, from the doorway. Kae-hwa doesn’t notice, but at least she chooses this moment for a helpful soliloquy to let Min-woo in on her thoughts:
Kae-hwa: “Min-ji, what if I get fired from here? I don’t have anywhere to go. Where will I get hired again at this age? It was a miracle I got to work here. I have people to call colleagues, and people to acknowledge my work.”
Deciding that it’s best not to intrude, Min-woo quietly leaves, running into Shi-joon on his way out. He asks for a moment to talk, which takes them to the roof, while Yoon-seok follows to eavesdrop on their conversation.
Shi-joon can guess why Min-woo is here, assuming that as the star, he’s upset about the musical possibly being canceled. Shi-joon confirms that they did lose the investment, but says that since nothing is decided, he ought to wait things out.
Having gotten the gist of the conversation, Yoon-seok slips away, annoyed at Min-woo’s interest. Meanwhile, Min-woo isn’t buying Shi-joon’s calm assurances, seeing that they’re just empty words. The dynamic is similar to a father trying to assert his seniority over his son, only now the son is starting to come into his own and realizes that Dad isn’t always right. (It’s sort of like the son is trying to beat his father but also prove himself to him.)
Kae-hwa starts to head home, but she recognizes the two cars parked in front of the building as Shi-joon’s and Min-woo’s. Since they aren’t inside the office, she heads to the roof in curiosity, in time to hear Shi-joon sticking to his stubborn line — however ineffectual — that he’ll pull through somehow.
Min-woo sees that there is no clear plan, and says, “Let me help.” How much will the production budget cost?
The idea that Min-woo would put his own money into the musical is so shocking and ludicrous that Shi-joon can’t believe it. Taking it almost as an insult, he asks Min-woo if he’s asking to get hit. So Min-woo challenges, “Then hit me.”
The reason I like this episode better than the others is because finally we are seeing the different threads coming together. Now Eom’s existence (previously annoying and trifling) makes sense, and his actions are the catalyst for this next stage of the drama. I also like that Min-woo has a clear character progression in this episode. He starts out bored to find himself idle — not that that was ever a problem for him — particularly when Kae-hwa is buzzing about busily, absorbed in her work. He becomes disgruntled at being pushed aside — and rightly so, because his demands (a cup of coffee, for example) are hardly more important than organizing an audition or managing meetings. He can stand to wait, even if he’s not used to waiting. When the production hits a crisis point, he has the clear option of walking away, and nobody — not even Shi-joon or Kae-hwa — could fault him for it. But for the first time he takes an active step.
The relationship between Kae-hwa and Min-woo is a little different than what we might expect in this genre, because it’s not about physical attraction, nor is it about one needing the other. I like that Kae-hwa isn’t really interested in Min-woo as a romantic partner (aside from a few moments that show that she isn’t UN-attracted to him), and probably won’t be until she sees Min-woo acting more maturely. He’s finding inspiration in her to change himself, and it’s after that happens that he’ll be worthy of her attention. Case in point: he buys Ye-eun the stuffed bears of his own accord, and earns himself her approval (and a snack!). He didn’t buy it specifically to make Kae-hwa happy, but the action makes her improve her opinion of him.