With most of the anticipated angst swiftly dealt out of the way in the last episode (SO green with envy this week, javabeans), we enter a new stage of development concerning “The Secret of Sang-go-jae.” A clever title, since the meaning is threefold: the secret of Sang-go-jae’s design, the family secret that the house contains, and Jin-ho’s secret of why he moved there in the first place.
While I’m riding this express train with both hands in the air screaming “wheeeeee,” I’m also a little vexed as to the dramatic weight being placed on Jin-ho’s Sang-go-jae betrayal. If he were my boyfriend (swoon), I’d be a tad more upset about The Gay. Wouldn’t you? They seem a little asymmetrical in dramatic proportions, but I suppose if this is the only way to see them as a couple while still hanging a secret and possible betrayal in the balance, I can groove with that. I do always love a series that introduces coupledom well before the final week. Especially when it leads to hijinks of the sexually frustrated kind, as pictured above (double swoon).
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Do-bin reels from his rejection, and the look on his face speaks volumes. God, I love good silent acting. He returns to his suite and throws his would-be gift on the ground. No! Not the Kandinsky! Avert your eyes, art lovers.
Meanwhile, Kae-in has taken Chang-ryul to the hospital, where the doctor says that he’ll be okay, given that he regains consciousness sometime soon. But you haven’t said anything about amnesia, Doctor. Sir! Doctor! Where are you going? It’s like he doesn’t watch tv! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of watching kdramas, you ALWAYS run the risk of amnesia. Scrape your knee? Ask about the chance that you might not know your name or who you’re supposed to love.
Blissfully unaware of all the hullabaloo, Young-sun and Sang-jun reconnect over soju, the great equalizer. Centuries of social interaction smoothed over by the little green bottle. They’re about three bottles into round three, which explains the hilarity. Young-sun tells him she never would’ve been friends with him in the first place if he weren’t gay, which Sang-jun takes offense to. He announces he’s a real catch of a man; it’s just that he doesn’t shine standing next to Jin-ho. Well, not going to argue there. I love that the “real” Sang-jun still calls Young-sun “unni” and is pretty much just as affected as when he was playing gay. I’m pretty sure the only detectable difference is the pitch of his voice.
Jin-ho knocks on Kae-in’s door, and In-hee uses the opportunity to let him know that Kae-in isn’t in there because she’s out with Chang-ryul. Cue evil smile of delight.
When Jin-ho can’t find her in the lobby, he gives her a call, asking who she’s with. She starts off, “Chang-ryul…” at which he promptly hangs up the phone. Ha. I do love that one of your consistent character traits is pettiness.
Kae-in grumbles at her phone that he didn’t even let her finish her sentence, knowing full well how pissy he’s going to be about it. Chang-ryul wakes up, memory in tact (thank ye, gods), being kind and gracious, and sweet. Wait…Doctor! He plays down his heroics, and lets her off the hook to make sure she doesn’t feel guilty about dumping him. Kae-in thanks him, and he accepts her “thank you” as a goodbye.
Jin-ho drinks alone at the hotel bar, but In-hee couldn’t possibly let an opportunity to seduce an inebriated man go to waste. That would be against the ho code. She stays even when Jin-ho asks her to leave (that’s beyond persistent; it’s plain rude), and rubs salt in his wound by saying that Kae-in must have a lot of unfinished business with Chang-ryul, given their history.
She adds that Kae-in and Chang-ryul are alike in their inability to cut ties and move on, while she and Jin-ho are more alike because they must have what they want and can leave people ruthlessly. It’s like she’s confusing a narcissistic desire to see her own persona validated in another human being, with love. AND she’s drinking up the scotch. Dude.
In-hee asks why he confessed everything to Do-bin when he would’ve gotten away with it. Jin-ho answers that he didn’t want to use Do-bin’s feelings dishonestly. You’re wasting your breath here, sweetie. She doesn’t know what you mean. In-hee wonders if Jin-ho’s really as innocent as all that, since he did pretend to be gay as a means to some end. She muses with delicious superiority about the real reason he moved into Sang-go-jae…Oh bloody hell.
Do-bin drinks by the beach as he thinks back to Jin-ho’s initial coming out, and the rest of their conversation earlier that day. Jin-ho said that he’d quit the Dahm project if Director Choi wants him to; he just didn’t want to betray Do-bin’s sincerity any longer. Do-bin thinks to himself: “If you had wanted to fool me, I would have been fooled for you.” Ack, I sort of hate you right now, Jeon Jin-ho.
Kae-in and Chang-ryul return to the hotel. She worries about Chang-ryul but he says he survived watching her walk away holding Jin-ho’s hand at the musical, so a mild concussion is a cakewalk. Aw, am I going to start loving you now? You’re being so cute it’s freaking me out.
In-hee doggedly follows Jin-ho into the elevator, and is anyone else concerned that this woman is wearing no pants?! She keeps bugging him about Sang-go-jae, egging him on that maybe she struck a nerve. She’s no dummy, this one, because Jin-ho’s clearly agitated beyond normal levels. She starts to imply that he’s trying to marry into Professor Park’s family…at which he grabs her by both shoulders, warning her: “Watch what you say.”
Only that’s exactly when Kae-in and Chang-ryul come upon them in the elevator. Ruh-roh.
I have such a love/hate relationship with this kind of scene. I know it’s a dramatic staple, the misunderstanding and jealousy run-ins, but I’m always inevitably shouting things at my tv like, “why were you standing within kissing distance of the she-devil? Why?!”
Jin-ho, despite appearing in the guiltiest pose here, walks off in a huff, annoyed beyond reason at seeing Kae-in with Chang-ryul. Kae-in runs after him, and In-hee asks Chang-ryul if they’re still riding the same agenda boat. Chang-ryul just replies that she is REALLY getting tiresome. How is it that I’m liking you more with every scene?
Jin-ho, on the other hand, isn’t winning any points tonight, as he lays into Kae-in about Chang-ryul, blaming her (still) for his father’s gifts, and giving him room to still hang on. She tries to tell him that they met today to end contact for good, but Jin-ho’s beyond listening right now. Kae-in asks him why he’s saying things he doesn’t mean, but he answers that he’s not understanding or open-minded; in fact, he’s really childish. Oh, we know.
Jin-ho walks away, leaving Kae-in near tears, and Chang-ryul standing by in the wings. Do-bin sees Jin-ho brooding, and asks him if he’s sure he won’t regret telling him the truth, since he didn’t have to do so. Jin-ho answers honestly that he considered not telling him, but came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the way to honor Do-bin’s sincere feelings, or do right by the woman that he loves. Okay, you’re kind of winning me back with that.
Do-bin confesses (so vulnerably to the man who just broke your heart!) that it was a short time, but he was happy. “I always struggled my whole life, wondering why I was different from everyone else. Then one day, I realized that even if I didn’t torture myself, there would always be others to do it for me. So I should at least…pity myself.” Can we go back in time and hug the teenage you? Please somebody love this man, and more importantly, teach him how to love himself. My heart hurts for you.
Jin-ho apologizes for hurting him. Now THAT’s better. I’ve been waiting for that. No “doing the right thing,” but just being sorry for hurting the man’s feelings. Do-bin, the most forgiving man on the planet, says it’s okay; that he remembers Jin-ho’s face when he outted himself to Chang-ryul. With a sad smile on his face, he supposes that was because Jin-ho pitied him. He plans to forget it all, in the hopes of not losing a friend who would tell such a lie on his behalf. Who follows utter heartbreak with such class and grace? No one in this plane of existence, I’ll tell you that much.
The next morning the girls recap last night’s events. (Hey! That’s my job.) Young-sun sides with Jin-ho on this one, saying that it even angers her that Chang-ryul’s back in the mix. She says that Jin-ho must really love Kae-in, since he’s overworked with jealousy, because that’s how she was with her husband when they were first dating. She decides to flip it around on Kae-in: “wouldn’t it make you mad if you saw Jin-ho with another woman?” Kae-in’s like, damn right…oh, crap. Heh.
Chang-ryul takes Jin-ho aside at the conference, telling him that Kae-in was with him in the hospital last night, through no fault of her own. Jin-ho knows and doesn’t care. Chang-ryul adds that he’s let go of his feelings for her, and that he didn’t know about his dad’s antics. And then…he apologizes. Wow. Seriously, did someone give this guy a lobotomy in the hospital?
He admits that saying these things to Jin-ho feels dirty (okay…that’s better), but is doing so because he doesn’t want to see Kae-in hurt because of him. Jin-ho coolly tells him not to concern himself with Kae-in’s feelings anymore. Chang-ryul scoffs at Jin-ho, saying that he’s being ridiculous right now. Even when they always fought over work, he’s never been this cold.
Chang-ryul: “I’m jealous—getting angry and fighting. I never once got to do that with Kae-in. She always patiently accepted everything.” Jin-ho turns around and asks if Chang-ryul is okay from the accident, prompting a surprised “Are YOU asking about MY well-being?” Jin-ho responds, “Well, since you got injured because of my woman…” Oh, no you di’n’t. I’m fine with “my woman” or “my girl” as a sign of affection and belonging between couples, but you’re using it in a possessive sense here, to posture in front of her ex-boyfriend. And that don’t roof with me, buddy.
Chang-ryul adds that this doesn’t mean they’re not still at war in the work arena. He promises to fight fairly, no rocks in his fists, which actually makes Jin-ho smile. They part with newfound common ground, as much as lifelong adversaries can have.
Jin-ho goes to Kae-in’s room and meanders in front of her door, unable to knock. She opens the door just as he raises his hand to knock, causing him to hilariously act nonchalant like he just happened to be passing by. They can’t manage not to snap at each other, backwards-apologizing by asking each other if the other isn’t sorry for being mad. Oh, you kids. Kae-in breaks into a smile as she walks off, and Jin-ho follows after her.
They end up continuing their bickering at a department store, where Kae-in looks for a present for Jin-ho’s mom, at which he beams in delight and pinches her cheek. Eee! So cute. They participate in a couple game (a product-placement staple of kdramaland), winning a pair of watches as a prize for no apparent reason.
Pinky and the Brain team up once again to try and take over world…I mean mess with Kae-in. In-hee tells him that Sang-go-jae was the original concept-inspiration for Dahm, and that Jin-ho knew this going into Sang-go-jae. Could he really be that innocent? Could it be a coincidence? Chang-ryul gets fired up over the (false) realization that Jin-ho is using Kae-in just to win their war. “Jeon Jin-ho…that son of a bitch!”
Chang-ryul immediately charges off, ready to kill Jin-ho. In-hee has to run after him and stop him from derailing her plan. Wouldn’t it be better if they dropped the bomb at the most opportune time, so as to make the biggest impact? I love that you can actually see the wheels turning in Chang-ryul’s head, while In-hee rolls her eyes: do I have to think of everything? It’s the price of being an evil mastermind. Deal with it.
Meanwhile, our couple has a happy day at the beach, (I know, they dare tempt the fates by going to the ocean) where they play, feed each other food, and go for a drive. Kae-in notes how happy she is, shouting out: “I love Jeon Jin-ho! As much as the heavens and the earth, I love him!” So. Cute.
Jin-ho drops Kae-in and Young-sun off at Sang-go-jae, and Kae-in tells him to go home, to make sure that his mom doesn’t worry. The disappointment is written all over his face, but he leaves, as Young-sun metas that their relationship is straight out of a drama. Heh.
At home, Mom and Hye-mi gang up on Jin-ho for going to Jeju Island with Kae-in. Jin-ho explains it was for work, not play, and begs his mom to please just trust him when it comes to Kae-in. He says that she’s a good woman and Mom will eventually come to like her. But Mom is having none of that. No girl mixed up with Chang-ryul’s family is ever going to be liked by her. I think winning over Mom is just a matter of time, because it’s not like Kae-in is actually a Capulet. She’s a girl who dated a Capulet once. I think with enough time the distinction will bear relevance, even with her “over my dead body” histrionics.
Over in the land of the Capulets, Scarface tries to send Chang-ryul off to China, but he stands up to his father for the first time. Maybe while in the hospital you got a pair of cajones attached? Awesome. He totally tells his dad to shove it, and give him the resources he needs to win the Dahm contract, without meddling. He also plans to get Kae-in back, whatever it takes. Is it wrong that I’m starting to like him so late in the game? Badass Chang-ryul’s kinda hot.
Sang-jun and Jin-ho find out that their office building has been sold, so they need to move out and find new office space. Aw, man. I thought you were going to play fair, Chang-ryul.
In-hee comes to find Kae-in and pass along a lunch invite from Do-bin. She petulantly notes that someone like Kae-in who picks up everything by luck has no idea what it’s like to work for every little thing in life. I’m getting a Blair-Serena vibe from this conversation, with fewer fabulous clothes. In-hee tries to rub in her compromising elevator pose with Jin-ho, but Kae-in doesn’t bite because she trusts Jin-ho. She tells In-hee that she’s actually sorry for her, which pretty much makes her blood boil. Nice.
In-hee goads her about why on earth someone so smart and ambitious like Jin-ho would “say that he loves you.” Hm…now I’m starting to feel the dramatic scale of the Sang-go-jae betrayal, because if Kae-in is somehow made to believe that Jin-ho’s first lie, The Gay, is part of a larger lie, The House, then his machinations could seem as diabolical as In-hee assumes. I’m not sure that someone’s going to convince Kae-in that Jin-ho doesn’t really love her, but this being his second lie could maybe tip the scale, especially if she feels foolish for forgiving him so easily for The Gay.
Kae-in takes the high road, pitying her, while In-hee says to herself that Kae-in doesn’t know Jin-ho like she does. This is just adding fuel to the fire for getting my hate on, but can someone please explain to me how this is a work-appropriate outfit? If your shorts are smaller than your notebook, you should be at the beach.
Kae-in sits down in Do-bin’s office, awkwardly awaiting a verbal beat down. Do-bin does chastise her for being his “unrequited love” sunbae, getting him to share things with her that he now feels really awkward about. So he insists they sit together and eat, so that she feels the awkwardness too. Ha. And then? He congratulates her for graduating from their unrequited love club. Aw. Seriously, who is this nice? Kae-in thanks him and Do-bin requests that they eat lunch together often. Such a dignified and lonely soul.
Kae-in gets a call from a furniture company who wants to hire her as the designer for a new brand they’re launching with a singles concept. Kae-in can’t believe her ship has finally come in, and calls Jin-ho to tell him she’s got good news to share over dinner. Hm. Chances this is on the up and up? Slim to none, my drama radar says.
Young-sun asks to meet Kae-in at the bank to help her set up a savings plan, since she’s about to come into a lot of money from the furniture contract. Young-sun tells her she needs to plan for marriage financially. If only everyone had a bestie like her.
Young-sun hears from Sang-jun about Jin-ho’s office troubles, and when Sang-jun joins them at the bank, Kae-in is quick to offer up her future contract money. Oh, you simple-minded girl! I just want to shake you violently sometimes. This is why you got your house mortgaged as collateral out from under your nose! Gah. Young-sun agrees with me, telling her not to confuse the difference between planning for marriage and handing over all her money to a man she may or may not end up with. Thank you!
Kae-in and Jin-ho toast her success over a bottle of wine, and Kae-in tries to offer Jin-ho a loan, but he doesn’t let on that he needs any money, and turns her down. Young-sun calls Kae-in to let her know she made up with her husband, prompting both Kae-in and Jin-ho to grin from ear to ear. Jin-ho says to himself with a giant smile, “That ajumma is finally going home tonight.” Bow-chicka-bow-wow!
Kae-in calls out to Jin-ho, asking him if he should be getting home soon. Jin-ho’s got to think quickly, so he plops down on his bed and pretends to be asleep. Kae-in is in turn disappointed that he’s already asleep, and goes to her own room. Jin-ho says to himself, “You’re really trying hard, Jeon Jin-ho.”
Cue split screen of sexual frustration. They toss and turn in their beds, neither knowing how to think of anything else, nor just make the first move. Jin-ho is the first to come out of his room, and Kae-in follows suit, asking him if he should get home. Jin-ho feigns drunkenness as an excuse to stay and sober up before he drives, and Kae-in is quick to reinforce his decision. Kah! The pretenses are so lame and all the cuter because of it.
They end up looking at Kae-in’s baby pictures, and Jin-ho asks why there are none of her mother. She says that she doesn’t remember, but there must’ve been a fire or something, because no pictures of her mom ever survived. Uh-oh. Are we going to introduce birth secrets too?
He sweetly puts his arm around her, as she tells him to be patient with his own mother. She’s okay waiting as long as it takes, to win her over the right way. He looks at her lovingly, appreciating her patient heart.
Kae-in asks if he should get going now, and this time Jin-ho says that there are drunk driving checkpoints set up, and he’ll get pulled over for sure if he leaves now. I love how elaborate the excuses are getting. So funny. Kae-in asks what should they do now? Jin-ho: “Uh, well…”
They end up watching tv, which of course leads to this:
Ha. So they end up retreating to their rooms. Jin-ho can’t stop thinking about his bathroom run-in with a towel-covered Kae-in, and tells himself to get it together. Kae-in thinks back to her own bathroom run-in with a full-frontal Jin-ho, and her eyes widen as she tries to get a grip.
How much do I love that Kae-in is shown as a sexual being, with her own very natural desires, completely parallel to Jin-ho’s? It’s SO rare to see a kdrama heroine as anything but chaste to the point of being afraid of sex like it’s going to be an assault on her virtue, leading men to counter by being overly aggressive…which leads to snowballing badness on a social scale. A woman? With sexual desires? Of her very own? I could kiss you, Show!
Jin-ho tries to work, but ends up head-desking. Kae-in starts getting overheated, and they both come out for some water at the same time. Jin-ho basically can’t take it anymore, and decides to go to the office. Keh, oh just do it already, you two!
Jin-ho cools off in his office, asking himself why he’s getting so worked up, and smiling to himself like a fool. He takes out his apology apple, and places it next to the miniature table on his desk.
Sang-jun arrives at work in the morning in high spirits over Kae-in’s new contract and the possible loan from her to acquire their new offices. Jin-ho tells him that’s never going to happen, but Sang-jun doesn’t listen, and calls his friend at the furniture company to find out how much she’s getting paid. Only what he finds out is much more nefarious…
Chang-ryul’s company has ordered the brand, and asked specifically for Kae-in as the designer. Knew it. Once a rich entitled bastard, always a rich entitled bastard, Han Chang-ryul. Jin-ho meets him under the bridge, and asks if the stuff he said in Jeju was a lie, or if he’s feeling so sorry that he’s trying to be a daddy long legs to Kae-in.
Chang-ryul’s impressed at Jin-ho’s quick draw on finding out his involvement, surmising that he’s the mastermind that In-hee painted him to be. Chang-ryul throws another tidbit his way: he’s the one behind Jin-ho’s sudden office relocation too. Jin-ho gets the score now, but he asks why Chang-ryul is fighting dirty when he announced he’d play fair. Chang-ryul says that was when YOU were playing fair. Jin-ho asks what on earth that means, but Chang-ryul just tells him to ask his own conscience.
Chang-ryul asks if Jin-ho’s going to block Kae-in’s big opportunity just to keep him away. “Do you know why I’ve decided to reclaim Kae-in? Because you’re someone who can’t do anything for her, unlike me.” Jin-ho calls him a coward, and Chang-ryul just throws it back at Jin-ho, saying he’s the true coward, and walks away, saying to himself: “I’ll stop you from using Kae-in, with whatever means I can.” Ooh, I like this dynamic between the guys much better, because both of them have loving, noble intentions, but they’re coming to bat with very different styles of execution. Good character clashes; good dramatic conflict.
Jin-ho goes to see Kae-in, thinking maybe he can talk her into slowing down on the furniture contract. But she’s far too excited to be talked down: “I have yet to show my father anything real that I’ve accomplished on my own. For the first time in my life, I’ve done something so that my father can acknowledge me.” Jin-ho can’t bear the thought of breaking her heart when it’s so full of hope, so he says nothing. I know, it would crush her. But you totally heard her chastise you when you joked about buying up all her furniture when you succeed. She even wielded a chainsaw to drive her point home. You know her only source of pride is in her work! She’s going to be the maddest about this, just you wait and see.
Jin-ho broods in his office, and gets interrupted by a visit from the contractor on his last building. He notices one of Jin-ho’s drawings as Sang-go-jae; turns out he not only knows the place, but helped build it. He was just a kid, the youngest builder on the job, but it was his first house, so he remembers it well. Jin-ho eagerly asks him if he knows any peculiarities or structural hardships they had when building the house, and he remembers digging to build the basement…
Jin-ho goes home to find this hidden basement, and when he goes down the trap door, he comes upon an old workspace, and a picture…
When Kae-in comes home, she’s so happy to come home to a man who’s cleaning: “You pretty man. Want me to kiss you?” Heavy duty cleaning definitely deserves a make-out session in my book. But he excitedly tells her that he found a surviving picture of her mom. He shows her the hatch, and they go down to the basement. The strings of strife and impending doom do not bode well…
Jin-ho says that he found something cool, as he stands on the table and pulls down the ceiling planks, revealing the underside of the living room. The light streams onto Kae-in’s face, as she flashes back to being above the glass ceiling, as her mother worked below and kept an eye on her.
Jin-ho wonders aloud why this room is boarded up, since it’s such a unique feature, unheard of in a han-ok house. Just then, Kae-in remembers…the glass underneath the little girl comes crashing down, as Kae-in falls to the ground, covering her ears. She faints from the trauma, and Jin-ho holds her, screaming “Kae-in ah, Park Kae-in!”
Whoa. We’re definitely taking a turn towards the dramatic here. Before we get into the house mystery, I do want to point out that in panic mode, Jin-ho drops the formalities and calls her “Kae-in ah,” which he’s never done. I can’t wait till they’re totally informal with each other. It’s a change in level of intimacy that only resides in kdramas—the what-to-call-you conundrum, which strangely gets me, every time.
I wasn’t really expecting any mother-death drama beyond Kae-in’s strained relationship with her father, so this reveal was definitely a surprise for me. And there’s nothing better than a surprise that’s laid into the story well enough that it doesn’t come from left field, but still jumps out at you. I’m purely speculating here, but I’m assuming that Kae-in’s father has some serious blame issues concerning the death of his wife, as he is the architect who designed the glass-bottom playpen, but also because Kae-in somehow inadvertently caused her mother’s death (only in the way that a child could be robbed of love from a father if her mother died in childbirth, or something out of her control like that).
I wasn’t prepared for this kind of secret to come out of Sang-go-jae, so I’m digging this new development, as it goes a little deeper than the constant work-related plotting and secret-holding that’s been going on.
On a purely self-affirming note, the glass playpen fits nicely with my theory about Sang-go-jae’s design concept, so I’m going to hold onto that romantic notion a while longer. If her shock-trauma lands Kae-in anywhere in the vicinity of amnesia, I will break up with you, Show. I will. I’ll do it. Just as soon as they have the s-e-x…
- Personal Taste: Episode 11
- Personal Taste: Episode 10
- Personal Taste: Episode 9
- Personal Taste: Episode 8
- Personal Taste: Episode 7
- Personal Taste: Episode 6
- Personal Taste: Episode 5
- Personal Taste: Episode 4
- Personal Taste: Episode 3
- Personal Taste: Episode 2
- Personal Taste: Episode 1
- Cinderella, Prosecutor, Taste: First episode impressions
- Personal Taste (the novel): Part 3
- Personal Taste (the novel): Part 2
- Personal Taste (the novel): Part 1