Aw, finally the angst hits! Granted, for a drama of this tone the angst isn’t overpowering, which is probably a good thing. Plus, there’s plenty of cute to balance it out. I think we could all sorta see this coming so it wasn’t very surprising, but I did appreciate how we were brought here in a logical progression.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lemon Tree – “벨” (Bell) [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
As Min-woo and Shi-joon face off, the air is tense. Kae-hwa steps in before things escalate and scolds Min-woo for exacerbating things. Min-woo, who had meant what he said about offering to invest, feels unjustly accused, but Kae-hwa chides him for adding to the problems.
Shi-joon excuses himself, leaving the two to continue the argument. Still, the mood lightens a bit, meaning that this isn’t so much a serious fight as it is another bickering match. Min-woo is insulted at her charge, and annoyed that Shi-joon is standing on his pride even when he needs help. He asks, “Whose side are you on?” Her response is basically “Picking sides? What are you, twelve?” (I’m paraphrasing that last bit.)
On the ride home, Min-woo can’t let the matter rest and asks if Kae-hwa finds him laughable — how could she disregard him like that? He was offering to help! We understand that Min-woo was sincere, but Kae-hwa has read it a different way and says that he was just bragging about his money and rubbing Shi-joon’s nose in it, “without affection or courtesy.”
Min-woo’s offended to be so misunderstood, but they can’t get fight it out while Ye-eun’s sleeping, so they pull over and step out of the car in order to argue. (In my book, if you’re taking extra precautions before launching into an argument, you can’t really be that mad, can you?)
Min-woo takes issue with Kae-hwa’s loyalty to Shi-joon — so he’s wonderful no matter what, and Min-woo’s wrong no matter what? At her faith that Shi-joon will produce a successful musical, Min-woo retorts, “Is he God? How can you have such faith?”
Kae-hwa answers that she can see the passion in how he works. In fact, Min-woo ought to take this opportunity to learn how to act properly. Irked, Min-woo points out that the company’s on the verge of ruin, then gets in the car and drives off, leaving her standing there. She sputters in outrage — how could he just ditch her?
I would feel worse for Kae-hwa if not for the fact that Min-woo is really the one inconvenienced by his selfish gesture. When he arrives at home, he has to carry the sleeping Ye-eun up, and who should be camped out in the parking lot but tenacious Reporter Han?
The reporter spies Min-woo hurrying by and calls out to him. Caught, Min-woo has no choice but to run carrying the girl, and manages to duck behind a parked car in time to avoid being seen. Still, the reporter smells a juicy tidbit and knows Min-woo is nearby, so he hunkers down to wait for sign of movement.
(Min-woo’s made a lot of strides, hasn’t he? The last time he was in this situation, he was holding Ye-eun with stiff arms, as far away from his body as possible like she were some contagious disease. This time he cradles her protectively. Though it’s a wonder the kid doesn’t wake up from all that jostling.)
Stuck in his hiding place, Min-woo tries calling Kae-hwa for help, but she doesn’t hear her phone because she’s busy trying to find a bus station. Serves ya right, buddy! He hesitates over whether to call his manager, but finally decides he needs the help and starts to dial Yoon-seok’s number.
Thankfully, he doesn’t have to, because the security guard comes to his rescue. A report from a resident has come in about a suspicious man lurking in the area, so he drags the reporter off.
Thankfully, he’s able to go home safely and put Ye-eun to bed without further ado. Kae-hwa comes home annoyed, but this encounter has shaken Min-woo and he doesn’t engage with her.
Meanwhile, nosy Reporter Han tries to make sense of the scene. Without a photo he’s got no basis for writing an article, but it’s particularly suspicious since Min-woo ran away from him. Trying to think of an angle, the reporter gets an idea and starts typing a story speculating about the identity of the mysterious hidden child.
In the morning, Kae-hwa cautiously defends Min-woo to Shi-joon, in case he’s still upset. She explains that he’s not a bad guy and was just trying to express his concern over the musical, however awkwardly. Shi-joon cuts her off to say that he has a rule to keep his personal emotions from intruding upon business, and therefore yesterday’s encounter is already forgotten.
Shi-joon is displeased with the promotional poster that has been conceived, and overrides Jae-hee’s concerns about their tight budget to instruct them to hire a better designer. This opens the door for an employee bitching session, which is mostly harmless because the three subordinates all like Shi-joon, but find him difficult to work for at times. This is definitely one of those times. This hushed griping session also serves as a bonding moment, which is so true to life that I get a little kick out of it. After all, who hasn’t been here, finding friendships through communal suffering? Jae-hee is even nice to Kae-hwa for the first time, treating her sympathetically.
Kae-hwa is sent to a costuming consultation with Jung-ah, after which the latter invites Kae-hwa to have lunch with her. Jung-ah sees something in Kae-hwa that she likes — perhaps it’s her sincerity, or desire to work hard — and treats her with friendliness. When Kae-hwa takes a call from her daughter, Jung-ah can’t help feeling envy, and confides that she had once been pregnant. However, she made the mistake of putting her ambitions first — she had just gotten her first large-scale job — and lost the baby. The words she’d most wanted to hear from her husband were “It’s okay,” but he never said them.
Kae-hwa sees that Jung-ah is still hurt over this, and gently suggests that she should voice these thoughts. Jung-ah briefly considers it, but decides that it’s too late for that.
Bad news: Reporter Han may not have had proof, but he has enough of a hunch that he writes a veiled gossip piece about the hidden child of a certain “pretty boy actor Mr. S.” Yoon-seok is pissed. Min-woo is also upset, but he says defensively that nobody will know who the trash paper is talking about.
Yoon-seok contradicts him — his big CF has been canceled, because the advertisers immediately knew that the report was about Min-woo.
Yura calls, hence Min-woo goes running. She explains that she could use his help in a tux fitting, because she designed a dress and tux for her sunbae’s wedding. Of course he is enthralled with Yura the minute he claps eyes on her in the bridal gown — in kdramas, the men MUST melt at the sight of a woman in a wedding dress, because it is naturally imbued with the mystical power to enhance a woman’s attractiveness, or some such.
When Min-woo is out of earshot, Yura thanks the bridal shop for lending her the clothing. It wasn’t actually her design after all. Y’see, it’s all a part of her master plan to get Min-woo in love with her by reminding him how beautiful she is and to get marriage on his mind. She’s a crafty one, but really the most roundabout manipulator ever. Whatever happened to the direct approach?
As he falls further into Yura’s clutches, Min-woo feels more guilty about the secret he’s harboring. He practices telling Yura that he already has a daughter and asking her to accept that, but he’s nowhere near being able to say this to her for real.
Ye-eun is improving more and more every day, and Bok-nim and Kae-hwa are optimistic about her chances for recovery. It would be nice to have her father express his affection, too, but they’re pleased with the girl’s progress.
Producer Eom gloats to Shi-joon, having managed to one-up him by stealing his investment. Technically the investor was originally interested in Eom’s project but had changed to Shi-joon’s superior production, so Eom sees this as merely recovering what was initially his. He does, however, have somebody to introduce Shi-joon to, a potential business acquaintance.
As Yura meets with Yoon-seok to discuss Min-woo’s upcoming schedule, she carefully broaches the issue of Kae-hwa, suggesting with false concern that the “strange woman” hanging around Min-woo cannot be good for him. What if she turns out to be a stalker, or worse? Neither really believes this of Kae-hwa, but they’re both eager to find a reason to get rid of her.
Therefore, Yoon-seok calls Min-woo out for drinks that night to press the issue of leaving behind this career detour and getting back to business as usual. They both know that The Show Company’s production is toast, and even if the company manages to scrape together a show, it’s going to fail.
So here’s the deal: Min-woo can send his daughter to an orphanage — not to abandon her for good but with the intention of adopting her later. In that way he can claim her back, but to the public it’ll look just like he’s adopting, and it’ll have the added benefit of improving his image. Also, doesn’t he want to marry? (At this, Min-woo thinks of Yura and her wedding dress.)
Despite his selfish motives, Yoon-seok’s suggestion actually seems reasonable to Min-woo, especially when Yoon-seok emphasizes that this is better for Ye-eun, too. If Min-woo hesitates too long and plays this situation badly, he could ruin his whole life in the ensuing scandal. As Min-woo has been feeling nervous ever since his near-miss with the reporter, the words sound convincing…
After thinking hard all night, he calls Yoon-seok to make his decision: “I’m definitely going to adopt her back. Absolutely.”
That night, Min-woo comes home in a serious mood, feeling a bit guilty but having convinced himself that this is the right thing to do. Therefore he doesn’t get upset when Ye-eun accidentally spills her milk on him, which surprises both Kae-hwa and Ye-eun, who were expecting a typical outburst.
Kae-hwa feels bad that Ye-eun is always stuck indoors, so she suggests going to the zoo tomorrow. To her surprise, Min-woo even offers to drive them, so she invites him along. Thinking that this is indication of Min-woo warming to his daughter, Kae-hwa exults to Ye-eun. Sigh, if only!
Jung-ah has managed to rustle up some funds of her own to help Shi-joon. It’s not much, but as the business is strapped for cash, this should help tide him over. Then again, this is the proud Shi-joon we’re talking about, and he is not gracious about her offer. Instead, he looks at her suspiciously to ask why she’s helping all of a sudden. She’s a woman who brought her lover to lunch with him, and he is in no mood to accept her money.
Man, not that I’m condoning adultery — that’s Jung-ah’s mistake and nothing excuses that — but you can really see how this marriage went south, and Shi-joon’s behavior makes it difficult to wish him well when he ought to be the sympathetic one in this pair.
Zoo day! Min-woo accompanies the ladies while wearing a cap and shades that do very little toward disguising his identity. He doesn’t show his emotions outwardly but he does enjoy himself, and Kae-hwa takes everything in with enthusiasm.
In one cute moment, the three are walking along when another father walks by carrying his child on his shoulders. Kae-hwa and Ye-eun both give Min-woo purposely doleful looks, guilting him into lifting Ye-eun on his shoulders. The little one is learning! (She’ll have him wrapped around her finger in no time.)
Another cute moment comes when Kae-hwa urges Ye-eun to tell her father “Thank you” for the fun day out. Instead, Ye-eun offers her lollipop as her form of gratitude, which Min-woo eyes warily. He doesn’t want to lick it after the girl has been sucking on it, but Kae-hwa points out that kids never give up their candies so this is a big gesture for Ye-eun. Grudgingly, he takes a lick.
Unbeknownst to them, they’re being photographed by an unseen witness, who keeps himself hidden while snapping shots of the group outing. Min-woo catches a glimpse of the photographer, but quickly loses sight of him and leaves the zoo feeling uneasy.
That sight reinforces Min-woo’s worries, and that night he tries to tell Kae-hwa of his decision. However, she thanks him happily and goes on about how well Ye-eun is doing. When he downplays his contribution to the day’s fun, she says that she knows he’s really a warm person inside — after all, the reason he talked to Shi-joon about investing was because he had a genuine attachment to the musical.
Her gratitude doesn’t help with his guilt, and she doesn’t give him a chance to say his piece because she gets a sudden call to come in for an emergency meeting. Min-woo is left with his heavy conscience.
Shi-joon has called his employees in for a last-minute session to work out the details of an upcoming presentation to a prospective new investor. They will need to prepare the materials for the big meeting.
Afterward, Shi-joon offers her a ride back and explains that the investments came from a referral via Producer Eom. He may be a rival, but Kae-hwa supposes he must have felt guilty about stealing their investor to have helped refer a new one.
When Kae-hwa arrives at home, she hears Min-woo on the phone (with Yoon-seok, presumably) asking questions in a somber mood. He wants to make sure Ye-eun is left at a good orphanage and adds, “I’m going to adopt her later, you know that, right?”
Kae-hwa is stunned. She can’t believe what she has heard, and asks if he’s really going to dump his daughter. This isn’t how Min-woo wanted to tell her, but now that the cat’s out of the bag he confirms it. He clarifies that he isn’t abandoning her forever and that he intends to get her back, but Kae-hwa isn’t buying it. She asks suspiciously if this was all Yoon-seok’s idea — does he really believe that Yoon-seok will keep his promise? She asks incredulously, “Were you this kind of person? Were you this frightening person?”
Min-woo has been feeling conflicted about his decision, but when he’s confronted with Kae-hwa’s reaction, it’s as though he decides he may as well be the bad guy, the guy she thinks he is. Rather than continue to defend himself, he goes the other way and hardens his attitude: “Yeah, this is who I am. Didn’t you know?”
Kae-hwa is upset and supremely disappointed in him, and he bursts out in frustration, “Then what am I supposed to do? Keep living like this?” Hide the girl and sneak her around? He was almost caught by the reporter yesterday — if that had happened, the news have been all over the internet today, and his livelihood would be over in a heartbeat: “But still, you want me to think of the kid? What if thinking of the kid gets my life ruined in one shot? Then what? What about my life? Marriage? How long do I have to live like this?”
This also means Min-woo is done with the musical. Kae-hwa tells him that he must have grown attached to the production for him to come running to the office to offer to save it. But now that he’s decided to be the bad guy, Min-woo throws her words back at her, saying that it was just to brag about money.
Min-woo retreats to his room to brood some more, and when he emerges, Kae-hwa is sitting in the dark, pensive and silent.
She asks, “Can you really abandon Ye-eun?”
The words sink in and he takes a moment to gather his resolve to answer, “Yes, I can.” Turning to face her, he adds, “So please leave my home now.”
Although this was an expected turn of events, I like how this was set up. For instance, the final argument between Min-woo and Kae-hwa played out the conflict in a convincing way, and I could actually see his point. Min-woo has been softening toward Ye-eun, true, but he’s still light-years away from being a proper father, so Kae-hwa’s protests sounded like she was clutching at straws. Even if she was on the “right” side of the argument.
You can’t quite discount Min-woo’s argument, though; even if the information was dropped into his ear by an untrustworthy Iago, the suggestion does seem appealing. If Min-woo adopts Ye-eun later, it would circumvent scandal and solve his problem in a neat way. Of course, our drama heroes must be made of more honorable stuff than that so we wouldn’t be satisfied without Min-woo acknowledging Ye-eun publicly, but from Yoon-seok’s standpoint this is the perfect solution.
With Kae-hwa and Ye-eun bonding so closely, what I fear most for isn’t the girl’s abandonment by her father but her separation from Kae-hwa. I feel like if she had to choose one parental figure, Kae-hwa is the one whose absence would be more hurtful, so I fear for her future if/when they have to part ways. Even if it is temporary.
On the other hand, Yura’s a pretty useless character, isn’t she? I know Park Han-byul has acted in several projects since Fantasy Couple in 2006, but Yura is practically a facsimile of the role she played in that drama. Granted, Yura isn’t the most fleshed-out character, but a good actor can bring a lot to an otherwise empty role. Park, on the other hand, has shown no growth as an actress and I can’t wait for the story to make her (even more) irrelevant.
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