Coffee House: Page 14
I really liked this episode. This drama is heading into somewhat more serious/emotional territory, but it’s not getting so melodramatic that it turns me off. There’s angst, but not ridiculous, drawn-out, unnecessary amounts of it. We get a lot of character reveals and insights in this episode, and I always love it whenever a drama does that.
SONG OF THE DAY
짙은 (Zitten) – “그녀” (Her) [ Download ]
PAGE 14 RECAP
Jin-soo waits for Eun-young to change out of her wedding gown, but her zipper is stuck and needs help. She doesn’t relish having to ask for help with the air so strained between them, and babbles nervously while he works the zipper.
Jin-soo has been unusually quiet ever since realizing that she’s marrying Ji-won, and Eun-young finds his silence unnerving. She had expected some kind of reaction — sarcasm, anger, laughter, anything. In fact, it was fear of his reaction that made her think it was fortunate that she would marry while he was away. He wryly notes his great timing.
She explains about the 100 dates she went on, and how surprised she was when Ji-won persevered. She had assumed he would call it quits within the first 50, but when she hit 70 and he showed no signs of giving up, she started getting nervous. She explains, “That’s the kind of marriage it is.”
Jin-soo successfully gets the zipper loose, but Eun-young doesn’t want him to unzip her fully. In her alarm to keep him from full unzipping, she abruptly jerks away and loses her balance, her hand outstretching to grab something to keep her upright. Jin-soo prevents her from falling, but her hand catches on his pocket and the diamond ring flies out, clattering on the ground.
They both watch it fall and Eun-young registers the diamond ring with wide eyes. It’s like Jin-soo is so vulnerable in this moment that he doesn’t address it at all; he picks up the ring silently, then offers to wait outside.
At dinner, Jin-soo (seemingly) overcompensates by acting casual and careless. But when she gets a phone call from Ji-won (which she ignores until he urges her to answer), he looks at her with particular attention, especially as she refers to him not by name but as Writer Lee.
Ji-won wants to talk to Jin-soo, so despite the latter’s reluctance, he takes the phone. Ji-won is his usual boisterous self as he laughingly relates the misery of the past two years. His forced celibacy put him in such bad moods that he would snap at his secretary and then be forced to apologize, and scrupulously kept his distance from all women.
They’re keeping up this outer facade that all is fine and dandy, but Eun-young excuses herself when Ji-won asks her about the details. I suppose it’s telling that Eun-young doesn’t feel comfortable discussing her wedding plans in front of Jin-soo — either that, or she thinks he’ll feel uncomfortable and is trying to be extra solicitous of his feelings.
In any case, she continues her phone call outside, and mouths to Jin-soo, “Sorry.” Jin-soo smiles at her like it’s all okay, but when he turns away it’s clear he feels upset, the way he shovels the food into his mouth glumly, when at the beginning of dinner he had been eating with such gusto. Sad.
Seung-yeon comes home later that night, dressed in the fancy clothes she’d bought for her lunch with Jin-soo. Her family notices, and wonders if she’s dating someone.
Despite spending half her monthly salary on her new outfit, Seung-yeon recalls how Jin-soo commented that she looks grown-up now, and she smiles as though the cost were worth that validation.
Her PD boss calls her, having heard about her lunch meeting with Jin-soo. Taking that as positive sign that she is sufficiently friendly with the famous writer, the PD pressures Seung-yeon to request an interview. She answers that Jin-soo isn’t the type who would agree, but he urges her to try anyway, and captures Seung-yeon’s attention with mention of compensation. If she scores this interview, she’ll be looking at a raise. Particularly in light of her recent expenditures, this is mighty tempting.
After dinner, Eun-young asks Jin-soo what his big news was, now that he knows hers. He doesn’t answer straightforwardly, but instead asks which of four choices she’d like that news to be: resuming his writing, winning the lotto, finding a girlfriend, or running for political office.
Eun-young answers that of those, she’d prefer the third — the girlfriend — because she’d worried about him. Jin-soo answers that she’s right, despite her disbelief: “You said you’d like for it to be Number 3. So it is Number 3.”
Thinking back to the ring, she asks if that’s meant for his girlfriend, then. Is that why he came back to Korea? She receives another surprise to see that Jin-soo drives now — it’s another sign that maybe he has changed.
In the car, she muses that he must be telling the truth. She had thought that when he started using cell phones again and driving, it would be a good time for him to meet a woman. She asks about his girlfriend, and once again he asks for her preference, offering her four possible choices. Again, he tells her she picked the right scenario — she’s a Korean woman he met at a bar while abroad.
Another question — when is he leaving? — prompts yet another multiple-choice quiz. Would she prefer he leave tomorrow, a week from now, after the wedding, or whenever he feels like it? She says she’d like him to see her wedding, so he readily agrees to leave after it.
I think Eun-young is looking for some sort of sign, some hint as to how he really feels about all this, but Jin-soo isn’t going to give it to her. She starts to add that he doesn’t have to stay just on her account, and that he can leave as he wants to — but he cuts her off, saying that he wants to attend her wedding. That dims her mood somewhat. At first I thought she was disappointed that he is giving her the impression that he’s fine with her marrying because she still has feelings for him, but now I think it’s because he’s acting so cool and cavalier about everything that she feels he’s shutting her out.
I like the above shot with the car, because as with the piano shot in the last episode, this one puts another large object between them, which mirrors their emotional distance.
Eun-young hears that Jin-soo is staying at a hotel and invites him to move back into the writing workshop, which is currently unoccupied. Ji-won had suggested it, in fact.
He surprises her by agreeing, and adds, “If it makes you happy.” He shocks her further by offering to buy a cell phone tomorrow, so he can be reached easily. It’s all quite a lot to take in, and Eun-young goes home in a daze, mulling over all these new changes in him.
Seung-yeon returns to the book cafe for the first time in ages, and asks one of the baristas for Jin-soo’s phone number. She hears about the latest developments — Eun-young’s engagement, Jin-soo staying in the studio again — with surprise. She hasn’t remained in touch with the book cafe family, so all of this is news to her.
When Seung-yeon drops by the studio, Jin-soo immediately knows that she’s here to request an interview. Seung-yeon tells him that even though she knows he’d never agree, she has to at least make an effort for the sake of her job. Feebly, she asks for him to grant her program a short interview, which he flatly declines.
A phone call interrupts, and Seung-yeon is shocked that he answers. Or that he even has a cell phone in the first place. It’s Eun-young, inviting him downstairs for coffee with Ji-won, which he declines. However, they’ve agreed to dinner plans that evening, and both Ji-won and Eun-young urge him to bring his girlfriend. They’re both incredibly curious about her, and Eun-young adds that with him declining to give details, it sounds like a lie to her. Furthermore, she wants to see his girlfriend for herself in order to be at ease.
Once more, Jin-soo agrees without putting up a fight, which startles Eun-young. Only that means now he has to find a girlfriend. Isn’t it convenient that Seung-yeon happens to be standing by?
She’s not exactly jumping to agree, but it doesn’t help when Jin-soo mutters to himself, “Ah man, everyone thinks I have high standards. Would they even fall for it?” And he gives her the up-and-down, making her cringe uneasily. But he does dangle the perfect bait in front of her — if she acts as his fake girlfriend, he’ll be a guest on her radio show.
And then, Dong-wook is back. All decked out in a sharp suit and driving his red sports car, he arrives at the publishing office, where nobody recognizes himself at first. His appearance is a grand relief to Eun-young, though, because she has gone out of her way to try to find him.
As chance has it, Dong-wook has heard of her new book cafe opening, and understands that Eun-young will want him to resume his manager’s duties under her. However, he has a slightly different proposal this time: He wants to be her business partner, not her employee.
Dong-wook has clearly done well for himself in the time he has been away, judging from his appearance and the confident way he carries himself. But we’ll have to wait to get the backstory on him in another episode.
Seung-yeon agrees to the mad scheme of posing as Jin-soo’s girlfriend, but not without a lot of reservations. She agonizes over how she’ll be able to pull this off to Jin-soo’s satisfaction, because if the act doesn’t work, he won’t agree to be her guest. With his super-picky criteria for a girlfriend and high standards, she has to somehow pass muster with him AND his dinner companions.
At least one thing she doesn’t have to worry about is what to wear, because Jin-soo delivers a box to her office containing an expensive head-to-toe outfit. Inside, he has included a note outlining the details of their “love story.” Hahaha. How like the novelist to pen his own fake romance to fit his artistic standards.
When she meets Jin-soo en route to dinner, she’s feeling tentatively hopeful, bolstered by the designer clothing. But Jin-soo furrows his brow, gives her the up-and-down once-over, and says with dissatisfaction, “But it looked good on the mannequin.” Lol.
(Okay, I know that it’s a stretch to comment on Ham Eun-jung’s appearance as unattractive because the actress is quite pretty, but I do enjoy Jin-soo’s constant dismayed reactions so it’s worth the suspension of disbelief for me. Also, he’s not saying that she’s ugly, just that she doesn’t portray the super-high standards of poise and grace he holds. She’s no Eun-young, at least, who projects class from the inside out. Seung-yeon is just wearing the outer layer.)
His reaction sours her mood, particularly as he sighs heavily and says, “They’ll think I’ve really lowered my standards.”
With that, Jin-soo slides the ring on her finger. And Seung-yeon is shocked when she finally hears who they’re meeting.
Eun-young and Ji-won arrive at the restaurant first and await the other couple. It’s clear that she’s not necessarily looking forward to this dinner — her mood is subdued — and when Ji-won spots the other two arriving, Eun-young tenses. She braces herself before allowing herself to look up.
It takes Ji-won and Eun-young a moment to place who this is, as they don’t immediately recognize Seung-yeon. And then realization dawns, and they look on in amazement as Jin-soo pulls out the chair for his date and acts the part of the attentive boyfriend. They’re practically slack-jawed in surprise.
The fake couple are in full-on faking mode, and Jin-soo launches into his story that they met in a bar (at least that’s not a lie) while she was on a business trip (also not a lie, although in his story they were overseas). Seung-yeon is less natural as she recites her end of the story, trying to pass it off smoothly, and Eun-young’s gaze lingers on the sight of the ring sparkling on Seung-yeon’s finger.
When the men get a moment alone at the table, Ji-won eagerly pumps Jin-soo for information, giddy at the vicarious thrill of hearing that his buddy got to live out his favorite fantasy: the boss and the secretary. At least we know which porn he’s watching. Not that I really wanted to know. (This is actually not a surprise when we recall that his relationship with Eun-young first fell apart because he’d felt belittled by her success and independence. Ji-won’s the type of guy who thrives off of being the older, wiser, senior half of the relationship.)
After the meal, Jin-soo asks Eun-young if her mind is at east, not that she has seen his girlfriend in person. She answers, “To be honest, I don’t feel great about it.”
Jin-soo makes his reply (“Why?”) casually, but he looks carefully at Eun-young for her response, anticipating her explanation. However, it isn’t the one he was hoping for: Eun-young says she was hoping he would move on and start his life fresh, but Seung-yeon is a person from his past.
One thing I appreciate about Seung-yeon in this episode is that she starts to put the pieces together. She’s still not the sharpest person around, but the facts don’t quite add up and she wonders at the underlying story.
For instance, earlier she had been so worried about messing up her act that she hadn’t had a chance to think about why she’s doing it. But in a moment at the restaurant, the thought strikes her that since this dinner is with old friends, why is there a need to produce a fake girlfriend for Jin-soo in the first place?
And now, as she looks at the expensive clothing Jin-soo bought her and takes off the ring, she notes that it’s quite an expensive ring. It’s not one he would have bought just for their act, which begs the question, Who did he buy it for?
Eun-young overhears the baristas chatting about Seung-yeon’s visit to the cafe earlier, and is puzzled when they say that she hadn’t known Jin-soo’s phone number or that he had moved in to the studio. The pieces start to fall into place for Eun-young when the barista adds that Seung-yeon seemed to be interested in persuading Jin-soo to guest on the radio show.
All of a sudden, Jin-soo’s behavior, seen in this new light, starts to make sense. She heads to the studio, finds it empty, and calls his cell phone. Jin-soo answers from the radio station, where he is being prepped for his segment. Jin-soo has a few minutes before airtime, so he excuses himself and continues the call from the hallway.
At first, he takes a casual tone, saying that he didn’t want to agree to the interview, but he couldn’t say no to his girlfriend’s wheedling. But Eun-young is tired of his facade and tells him plainly that she knows Seung-yeon isn’t his girlfriend:
Eun-young: “Why are you lying? The reason I could be okay without seeing you was thinking that later when we met again, even if it was in old age, we wouldn’t have the same relationship full of lies as before. I thought we’d be honest with each other, and that was enough. I lived with that as my comfort. But why are you lying again, as soon as you come back? I have to know why you have to do that. You left like you’d be gone forever but returned in two years — why the lies? Everyone else has changed, but haven’t you changed at all?”
Jin-soo: “I’m not exactly the same.”
Eun-young: “It seems like you haven’t changed. You just keep lying.”
Jin-soo: “In the past I lied for myself, but now it’s for you. That isn’t the same as not changing at all, is it? What I was doing all this time was realizing that there’s nobody in this world who can adjust to match me, and realizing that therefore settling down anywhere is meaningless, and thinking that now I’d have to adjust to match someone else. That’s why I came to find you, because I wanted to do what you wanted. But I arrived, and the thought occurred that what you wanted might not be what I was thinking, and I had to lie. You want to know what my shocking news is? If you really want to know, I’ll tell you. But I couldn’t tell you readily because I didn’t want to complicate your life, and I also couldn’t refuse to tell you. Because I didn’t know how you really felt. I want to do what you want. So you decide. Will you keep hearing lies, or will you hear the truth? Choose. One, I tell you the truth. Two, I keep lying.”
Throughout Jin-soo’s monologue, Eun-young has been silent, lost in thought. He sees the time and has to go in for the interview, and hangs up.
For long moments after the call ends, Eun-young once again sits there with her phone still held to ear. Finally, she turns on the radio, listening to the introduction of Jin-soo’s program, and contemplates her choices.
She ponders her cell phone in her hand, trying to decide how to respond as Jin-soo and the DJ make preliminary chitchat on the program.
Just as the DJ asks if Jin-soo had a particular reason for returning to Korea, she texts him a message and his phone lights up with Eun-young’s response. He freezes, ignoring the DJ’s question or perhaps not hearing it at all, causing some uncomfortable dead air. The interviewer tries to fill in the silence, while slowly, Jin-soo’s hand creeps forward to check the message.
It reads: “Number 2.”
Which means, of course, keep lying.
Interesting development for our main characters, and an explanation that makes sense to me. Maybe it won’t resonate with everyone, but I’m appreciating the way this drama is managing its angst. Angst generally has an external component (e.g., some force keeping the lovers apart) and an internal component (e.g., the lovers feel that they can’t be together because of internal conflicts). When a drama relies on too much of one or the other, the angst gets frustrating. This scenario gives a balance of both, which feels credible to me.
So, what has changed in two years?
First off, I like that everyone else thinks Jin-soo has changed so much based on outer appearances, but Eun-young sees through that and says he hasn’t changed — or not in the ways that count. But as he clarifies, there is one main difference, and that is his willingness to work past his eccentricities. Or, to frame it a different way, he has decided that Eun-young is worth the effort to change things that he had previously believed to be unchangeable.
I wonder if Seung-yeon’s role in this is again going to be as the conduit. I won’t say Eun-young and Jin-soo have regressed all the way to square one, but they’ve moved back a few steps to being locked into that dynamic of hiding their real feelings as a protective measure. Jin-soo admits that this time he was doing it for her good — he didn’t want to derail her happiness with his admission — but whatever the reason, he’s putting up barriers again. And since he’s shown some of his weaknesses to Seung-yeon that he hasn’t shown Eun-young, he’s given her a glimpse at his true motives. Seung-yeon is on her way to unraveling those, and perhaps she’ll need to step in once again.
Early in the episode, Eun-young explains a little uncomfortably that “this is what kind of marriage” she is going to have with Ji-won. It’s almost like she wants to offer Jin-soo a bit of consolation, that even though she moved on, it’s not because Ji-won replaced him in her affections, or anything like that. She’s not making excuses for her choice, but it’s like she wants Jin-soo to understand the kind of relationship she has with Ji-won.
When a person is young, romantic passion can sometimes feel like it’s everything, but as a successful professional and mature adult, Eun-young has realized that a lot more goes into a functional relationship. I can see her accepting Ji-won out of a practical sense of compromise — she may not love him the way she loves Jin-soo, but he has demonstrated his devotion to her, and that kind of loyalty has to count for something. It doesn’t excuse his cheating earlier, but he finally owned up to that in a way that he hadn’t previously. Sometimes marriage is about decisions as much as it is about feelings.
In choosing Ji-won, I see it as choosing to move on. She could go back to Jin-soo and hope for a better outcome this time, but rather than taking a step backward, she is prioritizing her future, which I can respect. I really don’t think the choice is about either man, but about her own goals in life.
I think both Jin-soo and Eun-young assumed that the reason for their failed relationship was that Jin-soo wasn’t ready for it. So if they failed, it would be because he would never be ready for it. I don’t think they anticipated that it would fail while both were ready for that emotional commitment, just because the timing was wrong. This makes me think back to that earlier interview with PD Pyo, and what he identified as his major themes in his own life. (I prefer to base my interpretations of a drama on the material itself and not outside interviews — because what matters ultimately is what the drama DOES, not what it INTENDED to do — but I think it’s relevant here.)
Pyo described wanting to emphasize being happy in the moment, without overthinking yourself into a corner and fixating on what will make you happy in the future. If you’re always planning for the future, you’ll never enjoy today, and in so doing you may even miss out on future happiness. Eun-young and Jin-soo’s relationship seems to underscore that point — two years ago they decided to let today go, and banked on tomorrow, and that has knocked their timing askew.
- Coffee House: Page 13
- Coffee House: Page 12
- Coffee House: Page 11
- Coffee House: Page 10
- Coffee House: Page 9
- Elle’s interview with Coffee House team
- Coffee House: Page 8
- Coffee House: Page 7
- Coffee House: Page 6
- Coffee House: Page 5
- Coffee House: Page 4
- Coffee House: Page 3
- Coffee House: Page 2
- Coffee House: Page 1