Okay, I will concede that while I like Eun-jo the prickly porcupine, I love Eun-jo the gooey-marshmallow center, in a Teflon shell, wearing a porcupine suit. This week shows a marked shift in her character, and as javabeans noted, it came not a moment too soon. For me, what makes this week’s episodes a breath of fresh air isn’t so much the change in Eun-jo, as it is the returm of Ki-hoon. And by Ki-hoon I mean that guy we used to know in the early episodes, who made the girls’ hearts flutter. Because who cares about the prince if he hasn’t got the charming part down?
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Eun-jo has just broken down in front of Ki-hoon and asked him to run away with her. Dear god, please say yes. Just stow away your pride and sense of responsibility for one teeny moment. Can’t we just have one reprieve episode called “Ki-hoon and Eun-jo’s Beach Vacation,” if we promise to be good and get back to the angst next week? Le sigh.
Ki-hoon relocates her to the wine cellar and gives her a drink to calm down. He muses that if only the world were flat, not round, they could actually run away: “Even if you run till the end, you inevitably end up back home.” Stop waxing poetic and just get in the car!
Ki-hoon challenges her—what if he said okay? Is she prepared to run away with him to the ends of the earth if he said he would go? Ki-hoon: “If you’re that distraught, what am I supposed to do?” which to me means that he can’t keep his distance from her if she’s so unhappy. Hello, savior complex much?
He tells Eun-jo to just stay put and do whatever she wants, and let him deal with the rest. Eun-jo says she knows her own heart, but doesn’t understand what sin Ki-hoon has committed to tie himself to this house at all costs. She wonders if maybe he wants a piece of the pie, like her mom. Ki-hoon: “I have something to repay. If I can’t, I’ll end up like Dracula…unable to die even if I want to, for a thousand, ten thousand years.”
She asks what that thing is, but he can’t tell her. Eun-jo wonders how it would be if she ran away on her own then. Ki-hoon tells her she should do it if she wants, and that he’ll help her in any way he can. He’s smart enough to know that telling her not to do it would only provoke her rebellious spirit, so he’s reverse-psyching her. He asks where she wants to go.
Eun-jo sits in her room, staring at the drawing of Ushuaia that Ki-hoon made for her eight years ago. She hesitates, then packs it in her old duffel bag and heads out. Just outside the pavilion, she remembers Dae-sung coming to stop her the last time she tried to run away. This time she says aloud the things she wished she would’ve said to him, if only because she mistakenly believes her staying at this house caused his death. She asks for his forgiveness, since no matter what she does, he’s going to forgive her anyway. Aw.
When Eun-jo steps out of the house, Ki-hoon is waiting with his car, ready to take her anywhere she wants to go. Roooooad trip! No? Aw man. Eun-jo silently walks past his car and Ki-hoon follows behind her. As she walks past the outer wall of the compound, she’s drawn by the sound of activity in the winery. It makes her stop, as she realizes that she has an entire factory full of reasons why she can’t go. It’s as though she sees past herself for the first time, to her connection with other people and this place. It’s her first experience of community and responsibility, and her first step to becoming an adult. And it is proof of Dae-sung’s legacy alive within her—he stops her this time, just as he did eight years ago, giving her an opening to lay down roots for the first time in her life.
Hyo-sun’s uncle and all the other ajusshis greet her warmly, calling her “little boss” (which sounds less weird in Korean, but just as cute). It’s adorable because in giving her that nickname, they’re both treating her like a daughter and a boss all at the same time. Eun-jo just smiles and the ajusshis go back to work in high spirits.
Eun-jo looks on at them, as tears flow from her eyes. It’s probably safe to say she hasn’t felt this kind of warmth since Dae-sung died, and her heart is overwhelmed at the fact that she actually does have roots here deeper than she ever imagined. She’s surprised yet again by the capacity of people to forgive and forget, something that she had never known until Dae-sung, and it’s safe to say she feels his presence in these workers, not just in their attitudes, but in their dedication to his life’s work.
Ki-hoon watches from behind as she cries. She finally lets the duffel bag fall from her shoulder, and it hits the ground with a dramatic thud, signifying the end of her very long journey home. Turns out it was here the whole time. Ki-hoon picks up her bag and puts his hand on her shoulder, mirroring Dae-sung’s fatherly gesture. I have to say, I absolutely love this shift in his character, even if it arises out of guilt—to take Dae-sung’s place in these girls’ lives.
And then we catch up with Jung-woo…whoa…is it getting hot in here? I know this guy’s an idol star, but I guess I never really thought much of what might be…under his shirt? Jeepers.
He’s not in reserve training after all, as he had told Eun-jo; he’s working hard at a construction site to try and earn money so that his Eun-jo noona won’t starve if the winery goes under. Kah. That’s adorable.
Ki-hoon goes to meet with none other than Dong-soo, the kid who had once brought Eun-jo flowers and caused a rift between the sisters. All I can think during this scene is how cute Ki-hoon used to be when he was jealous of this kid. He asks Dong-soo, who’s a reporter now, to write an article on the winery. Dong-soo’s pretty much as haughty as he was in his pre-teen years, but his interest is piqued enough to take on the story.
Then we have the opening prayer/dedication ceremony, which Eun-jo leads in Dae-sung’s place. It’s a truly uplifting moment, seeing Eun-jo take her place as Dae-sung’s successor, and the intercutting between Dae-sung and Eun-jo doing the same actions is a nice touch.
After the ceremony, Kang-sook packs away Dae-sung’s clothing, which she does lovingly and sadly, remembering Eun-jo’s words that he knew her true motives and loved her anyway. Moments like this reinforce my belief that she’s just a very sad, tragic version of Eun-jo—what she could become if she continues to push love away because she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. I agree with javabeans’ take on Kang-sook because to me, she’s always lived by a code, no matter how flawed, and is the product of a much rougher life than any of these kids have ever known.
Hyo-sun insists on trying to get on Mom’s good side, and it’s like watching a rat in a cage push the PAIN button over and over again. Kang-sook shoots her a death glare, as Hyo-sun cowers before her, going on about the ceremonial rice cakes and how everyone has to eat in order for the blessings to be shared. Kang-sook remembers Eun-jo’s words about Hyo-sun being the same as Dae-sung, but shrugs her off.
Hyo-sun doggedly follows her, daring to place a piece of rice cake in Mom’s mouth in an effort to cute her way in. Uh…are you trying to get maimed? You’re lucky she didn’t bite your fingers off! She throws it on the dirt floor in disgust, and holding back tears, Hyo-sun picks it up and eats it. It’s part crazy person, part I-dare-you-not-to-love-me, and it’s got the equal effect of making me sad and afraid. Kang-sook mostly thinks she’s manipulating her, trying to outfox the fox. I think Hyo-sun’s actually smarter than we all think, but she’s also very simple too. She’s pretty much willing to eat dirt (literally) to be noticed by Mom.
Hyo-sun tries to help her make lunch, so Mom just tells her to do it all and leaves, flabbergasted at Hyo-sun’s undying pluck. But once Mom leaves, Hyo-sun beats her chest in pain. She ends up screwing up the side dish that she was supposed to do, so she goes to the kitchen ajummas over at the winery to ask for cooking tips. They give her some leftovers from the staff kitchen to take, which she does happily.
But when Mom sees her asks where the food came from, she inadvertently outs grandma and ajumma for being at the winery after Mom kicked them out. Oh crap. Mom flips out and thinks the worst of her, twisting every little thing around. She storms over to the winery with a vengeance. She rips the ajummas a new one for daring to defy her, and Hyo-sun defends them.
Just then, Hyo-sun’s uncle comes around the corner asking for lunch, and yeah, the looks on their faces pretty much say it all:
She yells that it’s his fault Dae-sung died, pushing Hyo-sun to the ground when she tries to intervene. Finally Eun-jo comes to the rescue—the only one who can match her mother glare for glare. Even the mighty Kang-sook shakes a little in her boots when Eun-jo arrives on the scene.
She drags her mother into the house by the wrist, and it’s clear that when she wants to, she can totally out-death-beam Kang-sook by a mile. Eun-jo breaks her silence with this: “Mom, you’re on my side, right? Not Hyo-sun’s side, but mine?”
Mom’s surprised at this turn. Eun-jo tells her that the winery belongs to the shareholders now, and they’ll give it all to Hyo-sun if Mom continues to treat her this way. She adds that Hyo-sun actually has more control over the inheritance than they do, because she can veto the sale of property, blah blah. She basically makes up a reason by which Kang-sook needs to be nice to her again, (not that it isn’t true, but she skews it past the truth) to preserve their right to the inheritance, and manipulate her into giving them more…and it’s GENIUS. This girl puts Machiavelli to shame.
It’s so smart because this is the only thing Mom responds to: money and logic. And now she’s provided a monetary reason for Mom to treat Hyo-sun well. She eats it up too, eager to do anything to increase her pot o’ gold. Eun-jo even butters her up too in her own way, insisting that Mom has to be the one to be nice to Hyo-sun, since Eun-jo sucks at that kind of thing. Ha. True, but you’re doing a pretty damn good job here.
I love this. It’s Kang-sook’s own machinations coming back to bite her in the ass. She’s raised Eun-jo to do what she thought Hyo-sun was doing: outfox the fox. And now she’s doing it to her own mother. It’s twisted and diabolical, and totally awesome.
Ki-hoon takes Hyo-sun for a drive out to the river to get her out of the house, and he worries that her constant chest pain is something they should see a doctor about. But it’s not that kind of pain—it’s because she’s trying so hard to hold in her tears and keep it together, that it’s manifesting in this way. Hyo-sun: “She told me not to cry…Eun-jo. I think she doesn’t like it when I cry. It’s okay. She doesn’t oppose me anymore. Sometimes she’s even warm.” Ki-hoon tells her it’s okay to cry, since it’s just the two of them. So sweet. He lets her lean on him, and he holds her while she lets out all the tears she’s been holding in. He cries too, saying he’s sorry.
Jung-woo has returned (yay—tank tops aside, I missed his lightness and the side of Eun-jo that only he brings out). Eun-jo puts him straight to work, as they research competing makgulli companies. I don’t know what kind of research she’s doing, but I’d start with a taste comparison first, right? What? Like you wouldn’t.
He asks her if she’s been wearing the bread pin (how cute is it that he picked a crown of all things, thinking it looked like a piece of bread?). She doesn’t respond, making him search her jacket all over. It’s not in any of the usual places a pin would be, but then he finally sees it pinned on the lower pocket. (It’s blurred, either because they had product-placement issues, or they realized it doesn’t look like bread, making Jung-woo seem like an idiot). He smiles, satisfied. The sidelong glance he gives after he sees the bread pin? The height of adorableness.
He tells her to ask if she ever needs money, and takes out an envelope and puts it on the table, telling her it’s hers. She asks where it came from, and he jokes that he won it in a game of Go-Stop, but retracts it once he sees her reaction. He asks if she’s eaten dinner, and ends up dragging her by the wrist (oy) to go eat.
She stops in her tracks, yelling: “Don’t be so brash!” (In Korean the word—brash or impetuous—is something you say to a younger kid who’s trying to go above you). Jung-woo counters: “Don’t be brash yourself! I told you, I don’t know about anything else, but I’m not going to tolerate you not eating!” I love that he doesn’t cower to Eun-jo, and that the one thing he decided to be vigilant about is her eating. It’s a holdover from their youth, not only because she always fed him, but in a larger sense, because in the world they came from, they never knew when their next meal might be.
He drives her to a restaurant, and even opens her car door. Eun-jo sees Ki-hoon’s car in the lot, knowing he’s probably there with Hyo-sun, but she doesn’t say anything. Jung-woo takes her by the hand (that’s better) and they go inside. She self-consciously detaches her hand, anticipating the run-in, and sees Ki-hoon and Hyo-sun eating. And just as Hyo-sun calls out to her, Jung-woo grabs her hand (this time it’s a hand-wrist hybrid…I don’t know) to take her to a table.
Ki-hoon turns around, locking eyes with Eun-jo, and looking down warily at the hands. A love quadrangle awkward moment! Finally! It only took us eighteen thousand hours, but we’re finally here.
They eat together, and Hyo-sun asks what their relationship is, quoting the bat inscription. Jung-woo just grins and gives non-answers, while Ki-hoon looks on with his old Dong-soo-is-a-jerk face back on. I love that face!
Eun-jo wants to leave, or have the earth open up and swallow her, but Jung-woo refuses to go until she’s finished her food. He puts her spoon back in her hand, saying: “You and I need to finish our food,” again implying that they are the kind of people who can’t afford to walk around with empty bellies. Hyo-sun looks on in amazement at this interaction—Eun-jo actually listening to someone, not biting his head off when he tells her what to do. She looks at Jung-woo like he’s either an angel or an alien, but either way she’s impressed.
Ki-hoon’s jealousy flares up and he deliberately puts some food on Hyo-sun’s plate, telling her to eat up. Jung-woo does the same to Eun-jo, and she eats it. This one tiny action has the following ripple effect: Jung-woo smiles, pleased because he thinks he’s gotten through to her; Hyo-sun can’t believe her eyes and is introduced to a whole new side of Eun-jo, one that she merely glimpsed over their bibimbap breakfast; and Ki-hoon…looks at Jung-woo like he just made out with Eun-jo all over the table. Priceless!
The girls come home, and Mom comes running out in full-sugar-coat mode, cooing over the girls. Hyo-sun looks at her, eyes wide, looking over at Eun-jo to figure out what’s going on. Once inside, she walks up to Mom’s bedroom door, but Eun-jo stops her. She knows that too much nicey nice will push her mom over the edge, so draws Hyo-sun away, for her own protection. It’s sweet to see her acting like a real unni here.
Eun-jo sees how happy Hyo-sun is because of Mom’s sudden upswing, and she admits that it makes her nervous, but happy. Eun-jo looks at her like, I don’t understand you, puppy, but your sadness…I get your sadness and your loneliness. It’s like Hyo-sun’s loss finally gave them common ground.
Ki-hoon looks over at Jung-woo, trying to figure out how he’s going to sleep in the same room with this kid and not end up strangling him. His brooding keeps him up, and inside the house, Eun-jo does the same, because no one loves to brood like these two.
The next day, Hyo-sun does a taste-test of the jars of makgulli they’ve made, and she determines that only one of the six is exactly the right taste. Eun-jo doesn’t understand why, as they were all made with the same process, but Hyo-sun tells her that the yeast can be different, and that it’s okay, because they did make one good batch. Now they just have to figure out how to recreate the one that’s right.
In a bit of randomness, Ki-tae, second brother of Ki-hoon, sits in his car creepily watching Hyo-sun’s commercial over and over again. Please stop that. Stop it right now.
Ki-jung, meanwhile, is getting an unhappy report that one of his Japanese buyers has decided to sign with a better brand—Dae-sung, in fact. His blood boils at the news that the half-container that Dae-sung sold to the backup Japanese buyer (after the big fakeout) circulated in Tokyo and became a sort of cult hit, creating a wave of Japanese hipsters running around in search of their makgulli. And we all know what happens when Japanese hipsters think something’s cool (think: Bae Yong-joon but on a mass-production scale).
Ki-jung doesn’t understand how they’re taking new orders since he was told the second generation couldn’t faithfully reproduce Dae-sung’s original taste. As it turns out, they’re close to figuring it out, with the Japanese buyer’s help.
Ki-hoon leaves the decision up to Eun-jo: they can rent the buyer’s special machine (to help them figure out which yeast produces the correct taste), accepting their order, or turn it down. He thinks it’s worth the risk and adds that he believes in her. Eun-jo can’t bring herself to take that risk again, because she’s so afraid that something disastrous will happen like the last time she pushed Dae-sung too far with her arrogance. Ki-hoon counters that she has this road to repay Dae-sung and honor him, while he has no such opportunity. He tells her he’s jealous that she has that.
Ki-hoon puts a hand on her shoulder, smiling at her sweetly. Eun-jo looks at him with tears in her eyes, her own hands clenched as she tries to hold in her tears. She says, “Don’t do that.” He pulls back, hurt. Oh, you had to do that, didn’t you? Now he’s going to think you don’t want him to touch you, without even knowing what flood of emotions that gesture brings back for you every time!
Eun-jo walks out and Ki-hoon follows after her, asking for a decision. He switches back to formal speech here, forced by her coldness to be distant. He tries to convince her, but Eun-jo is playing it safe, saying that they can’t afford to go into more debt. And what if it’s a scam, like the last time?
And then it dawns on her…why did she not do anything about that? Why did she just stand still and not find out the persons responsible? Ki-hoon, startled, tells her to leave that to him, but this does not bode well. I mean, Eun-jo is like a dog with a bone when she feels wronged. Ki-hoon tells her he has to be the one to figure it out, and that if they take this chance, Dae-sung Co. can get back on its feet. He trails off: “And I can…” Again with the unfinished sentences! Can be redeemed? Can leave? Can love you again? What?
Ki-hoon drops her off at the lab and asks what she’ll do if she finds out who’s responsible for the scam. Eun-jo: “I don’t know. I guess it’ll give me the strength to live the rest of my life. Thinking of those people’s faces…my strength will overflow. I’ll hate them without ever growing weary. That’s enough. With the strength from hating them, I’m going to live well until the day I die.” Oh crap. That’s Ki-hoon you’re talking about. To his face. This is a tragedy of Elizabethan proportions. Even as Eun-jo tenuously learns to open up her heart, we’re already seeing the future where they live as enemies. Just fess up now! It’ll be better. You’re not going to. I know. No one ever listens to me.
As he walks out of the lab, Ki-hoon spies his father’s car coming down the road, and catches him before he can make it inside. Ki-hoon begs his father to leave Eun-jo alone, but Daddy Hong has decided he has to meet her, and air all of Ki-hoon’s dirty laundry. In doing so, he knows he has to fess up to his part in the whole thing, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Mommy Hong’s filed for divorce, you see, and she’s going to leave him with nothing. So why not go down in flames? When the divorce goes through, Daddy Hong’s shares go straight to Ki-jung and Mommy, making Hong Ju all theirs.
Lest you think Daddy Hong has grown a conscience overnight, he’s actually here to bring Ki-hoon back on his side. The choice is his: either re-join his father’s side of the war, or Daddy marches in right now to meet Eun-jo and confess all. Ki-hoon refuses to join him, so Daddy says he’ll have to talk to Eun-jo. But then he puts it off, I guess? That’s not exactly a strong message to send, in the war of wills. Just sayin.
Eun-jo comes to see Ki-hoon later that night, and agrees to borrow the machine from the Japanese buyer as soon as possible. Ki-hoon’s too preoccupied with Daddy Hong’s threats, but says he’ll do it. He calls out to her: “Eun-jo ya…” but trails off and says nevermind. I wish you would just confess to her yourself, before numerous other people have a chance to beat you to it, not that I don’t get why you’re afraid of the wrath of Eun-jo. You SHOULD be afraid.
Eun-jo comes home to find the kitchen ajummas back in the house, indicating that Mom’s taking her threats seriously. She’s surprised to hear laughter coming from Mom’s room, and when she peeks inside, sees Mom, Hyo-sun and Jun-su laughing good-naturedly in front of the tv.
Hyo-sun mentions that a man came by the house earlier that night, looking for Mom, saying that he’s related to her. She knows Mom to have no relations, so she told him he had the wrong house, but by the look on Kang-sook’s face, it’s clear he didn’t. She confirms Hyo-sun did the right thing since she has no surviving kin, but this guy’s sure to make a dramatic comeback soon, by the looks of it.
Before going to bed, Hyo-sun hugs Mom, saying: “I know that I’m not very lovable in your eyes. But thank you for being good to me. Later on, so that you can hug me because you really love me, I’ll do well, Mom.” It’s so sad how much she needs the affection of a mother, even if she knows deep down that it’s fake. Kang-sook’s face contorts in disgust, but she keeps up appearances.
Ki-hoon drinks up some makgulli in the cellar, thinking back to Eun-jo’s words earlier that day. He calls Daddy Hong and tells him that he’s going to tell Eun-jo everything, essentially throwing himself under the bus, but in effect keeping Daddy Hong and Ki-jung from ever getting their hands on Dae-sung Co. That is SO not what Daddy Hong wanted to hear. “Sleep well, Father. I’m going to Eun-jo now.”
It’s a deliberate phrase, “I’m going to Eun-jo,” mirroring what he told Eun-jo in the last episode about being unable to “go to her.” The guilt of his involvement with Hong Ju and causing Dae-sung’s death has made it impossible to go to her, to ask her to love him. But once he’s decided to come clean, to take responsibility even if it means she’ll spend her whole life hating him, it’s symbolic of the fact that he could go to her again.
He stumbles over to the house, slamming his hands against the door, his whole body shaking with agony and regret. He calls out over and over, “Eun-jo ya! Eun-jo ya!”
There’s no way he’s going to tell her. Something else is going to prevent his confession, if not his own fear. That said, I do love the return of Ki-hoon oppa, and though he’s not exactly the carefree guy of old, I’ll take Speaking Ki-hoon over Stoic Ki-hoon any day of the week. Silent Jung-woo is sweet; Silent Ki-hoon makes me want to hit things.
The sisters’ relationship is definitely taking a much-needed upswing. While Eun-jo isn’t exactly a fluffy teddy bear who loves her sister in the traditional sense, she does care in her own way, treating her well out of a love for their father and a sense of responsibility for her family, which she’s just now starting to feel. I think that’s my favorite part of Eun-jo’s character growth—the fact that she’s starting to feel a sense of community and look beyond herself. Hyo-sun may be her father in heart, but Eun-jo is becoming Dae-sung in spirit.
I love Eun-jo’s unique relationship with Jung-woo, and the small touches like transferring the bread pin to every outfit she wears. It’s such a tiny, silent way to show that he does mean something to her, however she may try to brush it off. And her latest Mom-maneuvering leaves me in awe. She wasn’t joking when she told Hyo-sun that she’s a step above her mother because she’s smarter than her. Ha.
The fact that she has to go to those lengths in order to get her mother to treat Hyo-sun like a human being is tragic, and it’s not exactly a good thing for her character to flirt with the dark side like that. But that’s what makes her so interesting, as both the hero and the villain of this story. In response to javabeans’ query about my use of “villain,” I guess I didn’t mean it lightly or in the traditional sense either. I think Eun-jo is both darkness and light, hero and villain, both to herself and to everyone around her. The fact that she has equal capacity to go either way makes her fascinating, and just the right amount of unstable…so as to keep things interesting.
I don’t usually post songs, but I randomly re-heard this song the other day, and it immediately made me think of Eun-jo and her heartbreakingly complicated relationship with her mom. Thought I’d share.
Kelly Clarkson – “Because of You” [ Download ]
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