Sorry for the delay, it’s been a busy week!
It appears there’s some confusion in the air regarding Coffee House‘s length, because the drama hasn’t given an official explanation for the supposed change and fans are confused. But according to posts on the drama website, it was initially planned for 20 episodes and will be now ending with 18.
SONG OF THE DAY
As One – “Drive” [ Download ]
PAGE 13 RECAP
Jin-soo arrives in Korea all gussied up like an idol star, with slick clothes and a cool swagger. As he drives by in his rented sports car, Eun-young looks up — she doesn’t see him specifically, but senses, perhaps in her gut, that Jin-soo is back.
She goes on to her business meeting, which involves the opening of a new book cafe, one that is expanded in size and scope, incorporating multi-media features. When Eun-young gets back to the office, her employee informs her that a visitor is waiting in her office, and she immediately tenses, recalling her earlier feeling about Jin-soo. She takes a moment before entering her office with nervous anticipation, bracing herself to see Jin-soo…
…but it’s her college sunbae instead. For a split-second there’s a mix of relief and disappointment on her face, and then she pulls it together and receives him with warmth.
They make some polite chitchat and Eun-young inquires after his latest business dealings. The sunbae is frequently abroad to manage a business venture, and remarks that he ran into Jin-soo last month in Mumbai — and that mention makes Eun-young freeze. Both afraid and eager to hear about him, she asks hesitantly how he is doing, and hears that he seemed healthy. He looked like a ragged mess, but that was from his constant traveling and he was well enough otherwise.
Furthermore, Jin-soo inquired after her, and the sunbae had told him she’s good, as usual, and busy making money. Eun-young knows Jin-soo so well that she imagines hearing his voice responding to those words — Jin-soo laughs that that sounds just like her.
Eun-young tells her sunbae that she has some news for him, which she had been planning to tell him sooner or later anyway. There are little hints dropped throughout the episode regarding this news, but for now we must remain in the dark.
As for Seung-yeon, she’s settled into a level of comfort with her job as a radio broadcast writer. At work she looks much more polished than we’ve seen her, but at home she’s the same relaxed Seung-yeon we knew two years ago. But she’s learned a few things in her career so far — for example, when her boss calls her for a last-minute interview that night, she changes her clothing appropriately. The last time we saw her in this situation — when Jin-soo called her for their sudden Jeju outing — she’d come dressed all wrong, but now she looks polished and professional.
In contrast, her hoobae (junior colleague) rushes to meet her at the hotel where their interview will take place, but he comes in a plain T-shirt and jeans, and Seung-yeon takes him to task for not thinking. He should have deduced from their job description and the hotel location that he ought to have dressed for the occasion, and he looks at his outfit sheepishly.
What a change to see Seung-yeon in the position of the sunbae now, and in the position to chide her juniors and give them practical advice. She may have not learned specific practical skills under Jin-soo, but she’s learned in a general sense that acting professional is a state of mind.
The two head upstairs to the room of their subject, a writer, and knock on his door. Inside the room, Jin-soo wakes up at the sound, and wonders who it could be — just as Seung-yeon’s hoobae makes the stricken realization that they’ve got the wrong door! The writer they’ve been scheduled to meet is actually one room down the hall.
Unfortunately, Jin-soo is already on his way to the door, and he pokes his head out. Seung-yeon and her hoobae duck into the doorway, trying to hide themselves from view, pretending they weren’t just banging on the door a few moments ago. The hoobae is uneasy and notes that the guy is looking their way, but Seung-yeon orders him to stick to their act and ignore him.
Their writer subject greets them in the hallway, and asks to conduct the actual interview in the hotel restaurant. Seung-yeon and the guy head downstairs to wait for the writer, who is finishing up a business call.
They take up seats at the bar and wait for a table to open up, and Seung-yeon excuses herself for a bathroom break. Meanwhile, after being woken up by his visitors, Jin-soo can’t get back to sleep and heads down to the bar for something to eat.
As he heads in, he bumps into Seung-yeon on her way to the restroom, but both of them have their heads down and excuse themselves in a perfunctory manner, not really taking a good look at each other. A few minutes later when Seung-yeon reclaims her seat at the bar, she and Jin-soo again briefly nudge each other. Again, a brief “excuse me” is all that is exchanged and they don’t recognize each other. (Rule of Kdramas sez: After a time gap, the reunion of the characters must be teased several times before actual contact.)
A table opens up, so the two co-workers move away from the bar. As Seung-yeon gathers her notes, a pencil rolls away from her. It is picked up by Jin-soo, who notices the curious similarity to his own pencil-sharpening preferences — but before he has much time to dwell on that, Seung-yeon’s voice floats over as she delivers a scolding to her hoobae.
Not only does the voice sound vaguely familiar, so do the words. She lectures her co-worker for doing his job poorly, telling him to use logic, to focus on one thing, etc. She’s repeating a slew of things Jin-soo used to tell her and makes particular use of his own favorite: “Are you crazy?” Her words and delivery are a close imitation of his, and now Jin-soo laughs as he recognizes her. Finally, she caps it off with this gem: “You have to focus on one thing in order to succeed. That’s what a pro is.” At mention of the word “pro,” Jin-soo sputters, spewing his beer over the bar.
Seung-yeon turns toward the entrance and rises to her feet in greeting. For a moment, Jin-soo looks eager to have her recognize him, but it turns out she’s greeting her interview subject.
Jin-soo listens at the bar while the meeting progresses, and murmurs with amusement, “She’s grown up.”
Back in his room, Jin-soo calls Do-sang (Seung-yeon’s sunbae) to ask what Seung-yeon is doing these days. Hearing that she’s a writer amazes him, and he asks for her phone number.
But would this be Jin-soo if he called her simply to say hi? Of course not. Instead, he fakes a regional accent when he calls Seung-yeon, introducing himself as the lawyer representing Jin-soo in a lawsuit — against her. He tells her that Jin-soo is angry to hear that she has been going around ripping off his words, and that this is a clear case of copyright infringement. He informs her that she and her family will be investigated, and sighs in mock sympathy that it’s very unfortunate that she’s basically going to get beat up in court.
After hanging up, Jin-soo says to himself, “I told her not to be a writer. Foolish kid.” But he’s amused by it, since he’d always said her foolishness was her strength.
Despite the jokey tone of his prank call, I love the little beat that fills the space now — a moment of silence that stretches through the room. Now that he’s had his fun, he sits alone in his empty suite. It’s sad.
Next, Jin-soo calls Eun-young. Her assistant answers, and almost hangs up on him because he will only identify his name as “Bastard,” and she thinks he’s being a prankster. However, when she tells this to Eun-young, she’s surprised that Eun-young agrees to accept the call.
Eun-young eyes the phone warily and takes a few long seconds to prepare herself mentally before answering. And when she does, she answers hesitantly, “Hello?” I love how he responds with an equally uncertain “Hello?” — these two are old friends but there’s such baggage here that they’re both kind of afraid, and that makes them hesitant.
The awkwardness melts away when Eun-young asks, “Is this really the Bastard that I know?” Jin-soo replies, “My nickname is Bastard, sometimes Trash, and when it’s bad I’m Son of a Bitch.”
She says warmly, “Ah, then you are the Bastard I know.” They both smile, happy to be talking again. She’s shocked to hear that he’s in Seoul, though, which throws her into a flurry of nerves. It’s too late to meet tonight, so they make plans for dinner tomorrow.
Eun-young can sense that he has something to tell her, and he confirms that he does. However, it’s “too shocking to tell you by phone,” so he promises to tell her in person. Eun-young returns the gesture, saying she’s got surprising news of her own, which she’ll wait to tell him in person.
The next morning, Seung-yeon arrives at work distracted by her legal conundrum. As a writer, the charge of plagiarism is particularly shocking, especially since she believes that she has actually committed a crime by cribbing from Jin-soo’s words.
Her nerves take a further hit when she arrives in the studio and hears her hoobae on the phone with the lawyer, confirming several of Seung-yeon’s favorite sayings — more phrases taken from Jin-soo’s cupboard of insults and rebukes. According to her co-workers, the lawyer went around asking detailed questions about all the things she regularly says.
Panicked, Seung-yeon takes them to task for selling her out like this, arguing that they totally exaggerated the case. But she contradicts herself even while defending her position, because a few of Jin-soo’s phrases slip out automatically — they’ve become a part of her own vernacular.
Seung-yeon calls Do-sang to ask if he’s been in contact with Jin-soo. Hearing that Jin-soo asked for her number, she assumes it was to file the suit against her and freaks out. (Most of us would know that plagiarism is a much more serious thing than merely repeating someone’s words in one’s real life, but I’ll cut her a little slack for being thrown into chaos from the scary lawyer’s call.)
Seung-yeon sits in misery, crying over her misfortune. How could Jin-soo do this to her? How petty and cruel of him!
Her co-workers find the situation a little bit amusing, and the DJ of her show makes an open request over the airwaves asking for legal assistance for their poor writer. Jin-soo listens to this announcement from his hotel room, and so does someone else — it’s Dong-wook, who has been gone without a word for the past few years.
Dong-wook had quit working at the book cafe soon after the last time we saw him, and all they know is that he retired to the countryside, presumably to his hometown. Eun-young is determined to find him to hire him for the new cafe — nobody has performed up to her standards since he left — but it seems he’s in Seoul now. Furthermore, he looks polished and chic, and drives a sporty car. The rest remains a mini-mystery.
Now Jin-soo calls Seung-yeon directly, pretending to be confused about all these reports from his lawyer saying that she’s going around copying all his words. He takes a concerned tone, saying that he knew she wasn’t the type to do that, and calls her behavior the result of influence, not plagiarism.
Seung-yeon is so relieved at his understanding that she practically melts in gratitude. He suggests lunch in a half-hour, and Seung-yeon’s immediate reaction is slight panic. She looks like a slob, so she rushes to a boutique for a new outfit in time to make their lunch date.
It’s not a romantic thing, but driven by a desire to impress her former boss with her newfound professionalism. To this end, she harasses the saleswoman with the frantic urging, “Do you have anything to make me look like the ultimate career woman? No, not just a regular career woman, but a total pro! The most pro of the pros! Someone who just screams professional!”
When he picks her up, she makes a big show of acting cool and collected. As he zooms off in his car, she notes that he seems to have changed.
They end up in a fancy restaurant, and she offers to treat him. Trying to act as much of a pro as she can, she urges him to order whatever he wants and orders wine for them. Jin-soo watches this all with a small smile — he’s on to her act but lets her carry on.
Jin-soo tells her she’s changed, and she enjoys hearing that she seems grown up.
Jin-soo wonders what happened to Dong-wook, and she answers that nobody knows. She doesn’t seem particularly worried as she says that he disappeared soon after he left, cutting off all contact.
She asks why he came back so suddenly, and he answers that he came to “make a phone call.” He had made up his mind earlier to make the call, but found it took him two years to work up the nerve. He hasn’t decided whether to go or stay — he might leave right away, or stay for a while. Clearly it has something to do with the phone call.
It’s only at the end of their meetup that Jin-soo reveals the truth to her — as he drops her off, he says that his lawyer saw her at the hotel bar. “Do you still not know who he is?” That makes her look at him in shock, as he puts on his lawyer voice and demonstrates.
He tells her (contrary to her words) that he hasn’t changed much. After he drives off, Seung-yeon grumbles over Jin-soo’s outrageous antics, but that soon turns to a smile as she figures that he really hasn’t changed after all.
Jin-soo drives past the book cafe, keeping an eye out for faces he recognizes. To his surprise, he’s spotted first and is forced to stop in the street while Ji-won greets him enthusiastically. He smiles uneasily and exchanges some pleasantries, and is puzzled when Ji-won tells him that he’d heard that Jin-soo returned from Eun-young. So they’re still in contact…
A few more clues about the big surprise are peppered throughout this scene, but let’s not ruin the big reveal just yet.
Hyun-joo recognizes Jin-soo and greets him warmly. She suggests that he head up to see Eun-young, since she’s in her office. He declines, saying he’s very early for their planned meeting, but Hyun-joo assures him that nobody else is in the office so it’s no big deal.
So Jin-soo heads inside, looking around with fond eyes, and smiling to overhear Eun-young’s voice coming from her office. He starts to head over, but a stack of envelopes catches his eye. He opens one to find a fancy card — a wedding invitation — and the bride and groom’s names are Eun-young and Ji-won.
Just then, Eun-young emerges from her office, and sees him in surprise. As he lowers the envelope, he takes in her outfit, as she is wearing a wedding dress.
His expression now serious and intent, Jin-soo doesn’t say anything while Eun-young babbles on nervously, saying how unexpected this is, and how she’s been so busy she had to have her fitting in the office.
This shot is a nice bit of composition, reflecting not only the physical distance between them but also the way the plane is bisected by that diagonal divider. They stand looking at each other for a few uncomfortable beats, and then Jin-soo attempts a smile and strives to sound casual as he says, “So this was it — your surprising news.”
Eun-young relies on her usual mode in times of awkwardness, which is forced cool, and as always she sticks with it despite not quite being able to pull it off.
Fumbling for something to say to fill the pauses, she looks down at her dress and says self-deprecatingly that it looks strange since it’s not her style.
Gently, Jin-soo says, “No, you’re pretty.”
False cool never really worked for them, so Eun-young now addresses the issue head-on and says that they may as well talk plainly. Now that he’s seen her surprise, what’s his?
At that, his right hand, tucked into his pants pocket, curls around the object it has been holding all this while — a diamond ring.
Now that we’ve seen Seung-yeon being professional and mature (well, relatively speaking), I wonder if Ham Eun-jung was instructed to exaggerate Seung-yeon’s bumbleheadedness earlier in the series. It’s a common thing to see kdrama heroines acting excessively cutesy, especially when they later change. Like in Cinderella’s Sister. If that’s the case, I see why Eun-jung played her that way, although I still feel it was way too contrived and hammy. (At least in Cinderella’s Sister Seo Woo acted immature for four episodes, in contrast to being a grown-up for 16. Here, she was the flailing bungler for 12 episodes.) It makes me wonder how Seung-yeon would have been played if we hadn’t had the time skip, and whether I would have liked her better then. But all that said, I like her a lot more now — she’s not a 100% pro yet, but has enough flashes of competence to be respectable, with enough flashes of silliness to be likable.
This episode doesn’t provide an explicit reason for Jin-soo’s physical transformation, but I think we can glean an explanation for his actions from the context. (I say this without having seen Episode 14 yet, so I don’t know if there’s a more complete reason given later.) We know from the brief glimpse of Jin-soo on the plane that he had previously been disheveled, bearded, and unkempt. This is supported by their sunbae’s description of Jin-soo in Mumbai as being a sloppy mess as he went on his nomadic journeys.
It seems likely that his polished appearance is a bid to look good for Eun-young, which is mirrored in the way Seung-yeon reacts to meeting Jin-soo. They both go out of their way to look impressive, and they both end up overcompensating. I think his excessive getup is a manifestation of his insecurity at meeting — and proposing to — Eun-young after all these years. It’s also his way of showing her outwardly that he’s changed, perhaps so she’d believe he has changed inwardly as well. Perhaps he’s trying to persuade her unconsciously that he’s improved.
It’s interesting that for all his distancing and pranking, Jin-soo now seems like a sad character — everything he does seems like a defense mechanism. For instance, his plagiarism prank. He might say he’s just having a little fun, but I interpreted his elaborate move as a way to contact Seung-yeon without betraying actual desire to talk to her. This way, he gets to keep the upper hand — maintaining that control he loves so dearly — and dictate things without showing any vulnerability. You’d never get Jin-soo just calling to say, “Hey, what’s up? Good to hear from you, I want to see you.”
Eun-young had assured Jin-soo that she would forget him to enable him to try to move on — but I doubt he expected that she would actually move on with hers so completely. We’ve seen him take her for granted all these years, and I suspect he always thought she’d be waiting around for him.
(Now, the bigger question is how Ji-won convinced her to come back to him, because he never deserved her, as far as I’m concerned.)
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- Elle’s interview with Coffee House team
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- Coffee House: Page 1