Such a sweet episode — I awwed repeatedly throughout. I suppose this is where the romantic angle gets going in earnest, but truth be told that doesn’t even matter that much to me. I’ve gotten so much delight out of the growing friendly rapport between Mi-ho and Dae-woong and the mythology aspect that the standard romance stuff is icing on the cake.
SONG OF THE DAY
Vanilla Acoustic – “내 남자의 자격” (My man’s right) [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
In the spirit of granting Dae-woong everything he wants her to do, Mi-ho declares, “I’m hiding!” just as Hye-in appears on the roof, and jumps off the ledge.
Alarmed, Dae-woong brushes right by Hye-in and runs downstairs, where Mi-ho’s perfectly fine. She asks why he followed her out when she was hiding for his benefit.
He’d momentarily forgotten that she isn’t human, but that very fact makes the cut on her arm that much more jarring. She’d hit it against the action school sign when she jumped.
Mi-ho smells Hye-in approaching (snerk — there’s something so funny about that) and moves to hide again, but Dae-woong holds her arm and tells her to stay. Ooh, looks like our immature hero just put on his big boy pants!
Hye-in sees Dae-woong grabbing Mi-ho’s wrist (urgh) and scowls. She asks accusingly if Dae-woong lied about sending Mi-ho away, and whether they’ve been living together here all this time.
Contrary to his previous eagerness to please her, now Dae-woong answers solemnly without excuses: He was the one who asked Mi-ho to stay. He has to stay with her for now, so he can’t go to Hye-in.
Picking up on the attitude change, Hye-in asks if he likes Mi-ho. Dissatisfied with his answer that he promised to be with Mi-ho, Hye-in leaves in a snit. Buh-bye!
Dae-woong’s in a melancholy mood, so Mi-ho hangs back uncertainly. He says this wasn’t her fault; he just got tired of lying. He recognizes that he’s never been a particularly good guy, but he’s still bummed that this situation turns him into the bad guy with Hye-in.
He notes the irony that he, who has never been a great keeper of promises, has made an unbreakable one with Mi-ho. Contemplating his ring, he sighs that the promise he’d intended to make was with his noona…
So lost in thought is he that when it starts raining, Dae-woong doesn’t even notice until he puts a hand down and feels the wet bench. The reason he hadn’t noticed? Behind him, Mi-ho has been holding the fallen school sign over his head — and for quite a while, at that. (Gah, that is so sweet.)
I love the following exchange: Dae-woong asks if the sign is heavy. With her strength diminished, Mi-ho winces and starts to admit that it is, but he misses that and supposes that since she’s a gumiho, this must be easy for her.
Dae-woong plans to think for a little while longer, so he tells her to keep holding the sign for him. Not wanting to intrude or object, Mi-ho agrees, all the while grimacing in discomfort and alternating arms to deal with the ache.
Finally, Dae-woong reaches a conclusion and wraps up his thinking session. Figuring there’s nothing to hide, he puts the ring back on his finger.
Rising from his seat, he takes the sign from Mi-ho, and I appreciate the symbolism of the gesture: At first she thinks he’s going off alone, but when he indicates that she should come along, she races to join him.
Not only that, she grabs him around the middle and hugs him enthusiastically. Then she sees his reaction — perturbed — and backs off sheepishly, settling for grasping his shirttail.
Dae-woong sets to work to fix the fallen sign by gluing fallen letters back on it. Mi-ho marvels at the sticking power of the glue, which Dae-woong warns her about, since it’s superglue and won’t let go once it’s applied. In fact, it’s rather like her. (Hee. Another Hong Sisters extended metaphor is born.)
He finishes the gluing, satisfied that the letters will never fall off again. That perks her up, but he reminds her that the letters won’t separate, but they will after 100 days. She pouts at the way he makes a point to say he’s going to be counting down the days carefully.
To be exact, they have 95 more days together. Tellingly, Dae-woong says to himself, “Five days have already passed,” as opposed to something more along the lines of “It’s only been five days.”
Mi-ho glues a picture of meat to her bed, chanting, “Don’t fall off, don’t fall off…”
Remembering the cut on Mi-ho’s arm, Dae-wong tends to it with ointment. She tries suggesting that she would heal faster to “hug her bead” than to apply medication, which is hilarious. This fox bead thing is such an awesome excuse for skinship, and I love that Mi-ho is aware of this. But so is Dae-woong, who declines her suggestion by saying it’s okay for her to heal slowly, since they have plenty of time.
When Mi-ho points out another cut and sucks on it, Dae-woong lets out a little laugh and compares her to his family dog. That puts her off, until he says that Ddoong-ja (“Chubby”) is his best friend.
Mi-ho wants to be his best friend too, and he humors her by saying he’ll keep it a secret from the dog (who would get jealous). Patting her hair like she’s a dog, he shakes her hand as though it’s a paw.
Dae-woong and Mi-ho hang the fixed sign on the building, which is when they see Min-sook arriving with a drunk Doo-hong, whom she drags inside with much difficulty. Min-sook is NOT in a romantic mood, and all this trouble has got her on a short fuse.
She can’t get in contact with Dae-woong, so she deposits the director on the rug, and happens to catch a glimpse of Dae-woong’s phone. The background photo is of Hye-in, and Min-sook assumes this must be the girl he’s living with. (I’m sure we all see the sign that reads WARNING: Plot shenanigans ahead!)
Min-soo starts to rise, but finds that she can’t. Her butt is stuck to the carpet — with glue! Without a better option, she leaves her pants on the carpet and goes home wearing his trench coat.
With the director snoring away in the loft, Dae-woong and Mi-ho decide to spend the night in the gym. Mi-ho’s curious about this whole movie business, particularly the ones that involve non-human beings. Are there any of those stories where the non-human falls in love with a human, marries, and lives happily ever after?
Commence reenactment! Dae-woong cites one movie between a female ghost and a man, but she doesn’t like the ending because the female ghost disappears, “since she’s not human.” Mi-ho clarifies, “What about one without a stupid girl like that?”
Thinking again, Dae-woong comes up with vampire movies — say, the kind where a sexy vampire (that would be him in the reenactment) seduces an innocent human (Mi-ho), and they fall in love. But instead of marrying, as Mi-ho would like, the vampire is hit by sunlight and goes poof.
She asks for a movie with a happy ending, disappointed when his examples all end with death. Dae-woong gets a little kick out of teasing her, but seeing how she’s genuinely bummed, he tells her that’s just a movie, and reminds her that they’re friends. Hoi-hoi!
Dae-woong can’t think of any examples that end well for the non-human, so she decides she’ll have to ask the “very smart Teacher Dong-joo” for an example. At mention of this name, Dae-woong’s attitude changes, particularly as she extols Dong-joo’s virtues, though he can’t admit that he’s jealous. Acting like he doesn’t care, he tells her to go ask him then. Fine. Harrumph. Whatever.
Not picking up on his tone, Mi-ho answers readily that she already told Dong-joo she’d be by often. When she asks Dae-woong what type of movie he’s filming, he retorts, “Why don’t you ask your Teacher Dong-joo? He may be really smart, but I bet he won’t know that.” Oh, you!
Dae-woong sleeps on a tall stack of mats, while Mi-ho sleeps next to that on a lower mat. In the morning, his body hangs close to the edge of the mat, and Mi-ho chants, “Fall… fall…” and wills him to roll down to her mat.
He doesn’t budge, so she gives him a hand (er, foot) by kicking the stack so he rolls down to her mat, at which point she eagerly snuggles up to him. AS IF I DIDN’T LOVE HER ENOUGH ALREADY.
Unfortunately for her, Director Doo-hong has also awakened — finding himself on the rug next to Min-sook’s glued trousers — and heads to the school to look for Dae-woong.
This cuts short her moment of basking in Dae-woong’s (admittedly unknowing) embrace, and Mi-ho quickly hides out of sight. That doesn’t stop her from glowering at Doo-hong for ruining her moment, though.
In frustration, she kicks the wall, which sends the precariously hung sign crashing down. It hits Doo-hong on the head, and although he isn’t knocked unconscious, it does jolt his memory back, and he recalls being drunk and inappropriate with Min-sook. Goodbye blissful ignorance, hello shame.
Dae-woong returns to the loft and finds Mi-ho eating more meat, and notes the dirty frying pan with chagrin. He tells her to start washing up after herself, and suggests working out a system of living together.
He’d promised the director to look after the action school in exchange for staying here, but seeing as he’s quite busy, he proposes that Mi-ho take on the role of groundskeeper. Understanding the way to her heart, he makes it a point to stress that the position he’s offering her is something reserved for people, which, naturally, makes her eager to do it.
Funny enough, the one instruction she grimaces at is the one to use elevated language (jondaemal) with elders. All this time, Mi-ho has been using banmal with everyone, which appears rude. She protests, saying it chafes her pride to use jondaemal, because she’s a gumiho who has lived much longer.
Dae-woong’s solution? He bows and says in honorifics, “Then please preserve your pride, Gumiho Grandmother,” and she bursts out that she’ll do it. HA. I love that they can manipulate each other equally.
She brags about her new position to Dong-joo, happy that Dae-woong is treating her like a human. Dong-joo guides her through a bookstore to show her more examples of stories involving non-humans.
Flipping through a book with a photo of a panda, she marvels at all the animals she hasn’t seen before. He says knowingly, “There are a lot of things to eat, aren’t there?” She snaps (defensively?), “I wasn’t looking because I wanted to eat it!”
There’s one section she knows about already, and she smiles as she picks up a magazine. She declares, “Mating!” and we see the title: Hustler. HAHAHA.
Dong-joo points her toward the fairy tale section and picks out the Little Mermaid for her as an example of a character who wanted to turn human. He gives it to her as a gift and tells her to read it.
Doo-hong is so impressed with Dae-woong’s fighting sequences that he increases his scenes in the movie. Alas, those scenes have to come at someone else’s expense, and in this case it’s his daughter’s. An agitated Sun-nyeo bursts into the room, ineffectually held back by Byung-soo, to complain about her role being shrunk. (I haven’t mentioned it much because they’re not very plot-significant, but I do enjoy this pair. I like that idol star Hyo-min is playing a dork, and that Byung-soo is the beta male’s even beta-er sidekick.)
Sun-nyeo also asks pointedly if Dad really spent the night at Dae-woong’s — rather than, say, with some hussy — and Dae-woong reads the look in the director’s eye and confirms it.
When Hye-in arrives to ask for a moment with the director, the air is strained between them. Dae-woong leaves to give them room, but doesn’t acknowledge her.
He joins his friends outside, where Sun-nyeo pokes and prods about his deal with Mi-ho. He had told them Mi-ho was nobody and had gone out of his way to hide her, so what’s going on?
Since Dae-woong has decided to stop hiding her, he comes clean and declares, “From now on, Mi-ho is my girlfriend.” As he walks off, Hye-in overhears the announcement.
Oh no, princess, whatever will you do without your vassal-on-a-puppet-string jumping at your every whim? (Truth be told, I never like Hong Sisters second leads, but they are such delicious fun to hate.)
Grandpa drops by the action school where Mi-ho is busily engaged in her new cleaning duties, which he reads as an indication of her kind character. He’s a little alarmed when Mi-ho picks up a meat skewer she has dropped, intending to eat it, but is relieved when she drops it again (she remembers that Dae-woong instructed her not to eat things off the ground).
The shaky sign falls from the wall again, and Mi-ho leaps to stop it from hitting Grandpa, earning her some more brownie points in his book.
Because of her promise to speak politely, Mi-ho upgrades her speech enough that Grandpa is pleased with her address. He heaps praise on her and offers her some organic juice (which makes her grimace — ugh, vegetables!).
He asks some basic questions about herself and fills in the blanks himself. For instance, he clucks in pity to hear she doesn’t have parents. When he gives her a second bottle of juice, she asks if she can give it to someone else in a bid to avoid drinking it. Instead, he interprets that as proof of her generosity. (Ah, we really do see what we want to believe, don’t we?)
Dae-woong drops by home and indulges in a little complaining — his home is pleasant and nice, while the action school has its share of discomforts — which is designed to loosen Grandpa’s purse strings. Thanks to his pleasant interaction with Mi-ho, Grandpa’s feeling quite generous and agrees to let Dae-woong have use of his car, and to reinstate his credit card.
Mission accomplished, Dae-woong drops by the department store with his old friend Mr. Plastic, and goes on a shopping spree. Admittedly he doesn’t think of buying Mi-ho anything until a free gift gives him a cell phone ornament, but he decides to buy her a phone as well.
In a great mood, Dae-woong comes home intending to give Mi-ho her gift right away. However, he notices the book in her hands, which she identifies as a gift from Dong-joo.
Immediately his mood sours, and instead of handing her the phone, he just brings out some beef he bought. So petty, little man-child.
Doo-hong has an awkward meeting with Min-sook, where she returns his coat and he returns her pants. He’s too mortified to make an overture or ask her to stay, so she gets up to go in a miffed mood.
However, Min-sook is particularly accident-prone around Doo-hong, and this time is no different: She collides with a waitress and juice splatters all over her white outfit. Humiliated and feeling rejected, she bemoans her awful luck, about to break down in the middle of the cafe.
Doo-hong swoops in to cover her with his coat in a chivalrous gesture, which reveals his patched-up arms. HILARIOUSLY, the medicated patches aren’t because he’s hurt — he explains that since she said she likes their smell (which she’d said to be polite), he put them all over himself.
Apologizing for his lack of glibness, he bows respectfully and turns to leave. But this admission gives her the encouragement she needs, and Min-sook shyly asks him to stay with her and talk. And thus begins the romance (officially) between this bumbling pair.
Back at the loft, Dae-woong spots Mi-ho’s book lying around, and is provoked enough to use it as a coaster for the frying pan. Ha! Not jealous at all, are we?
He feigns ignorance and pretends he didn’t know he was using her book when she looks at the scorch mark it creates. But Mi-ho’s not upset — in fact, she enjoys having her book imbued with the aroma of meat. Petty revenge thwarted!
He tells her to eat up, but she tells him she already ate tons of meat for lunch — at Dong-joo’s. Irritated, he sniffs that she ought to be best friends with Dong-joo instead of him, then.
In her artless way, she tries to explain why that’s not possible: “If I have to make a comparison, then Teacher Dong-joo is just meat, and you’re cow meat.” Snort! Only in this drama would that be a romantic declaration, and one that makes me aww.
Dae-woong is mollified, then tests the waters by adding that he’d be okay being at chicken level. She assures him, “No, Dae-woong, you’re my very favorite Korean beef!” Thumbs-up.
Gah, not only is the sentiment adorable, so is the way that this totally dissolves Dae-woong’s miffed mood. It cheers him up so much that he decides he’s ready to give her that other present after all, and tells her to retrieve it from inside.
Once indoors, a phone starts to ring, and Mi-ho follows the sound to the source. When she answers the phone, Dae-woong tells her that this is her phone. Furthermore, he points out the dangling bead ornament — it’s his gift to her, since she gave him her bead.
Mi-ho is so thrilled that she doesn’t have the words for it, and there’s no reply when Dae-woong asks if she likes it. But that’s because she’s running outside, overcome with happiness.
She launches herself at him and hugs him, thanking him for treating her like a human and giving her gifts that people give to other people. The sudden hug takes him by surprise, and there’s a little extra awareness mixed in — awareness that unnerves and surprises him.
Mi-ho runs off to test the phones from a distance, and he finds himself waving to her automatically before catching himself. Perturbed, he wonders if he’s crazy to be so excited to be called a piece of meat.
Meanwhile. Hye-in’s manager gives her tickets to a VIP movie screening and tells her to go with Dae-woong. The manager hopes Hye-in can sway him into signing with their company, although Hye-in evades the topic now that she knows she’s lost her hold over him.
At the loft, Dae-woong rehearses his lines while Mi-ho reads her book. She relates the basic plot of The Little Mermaid, and Dae-woong isn’t blind to the thematic similarities. For instance, the mermaid saved the man, whom she likes, but her feelings aren’t reciprocated.
Dae-woong says defensively that the mermaid hid her true identity, but Mi-ho identifies with the situation and argues that she had a reason for not telling him.
Taking this opportunity to test Dae-woong’s reaction, she asks if the man would like the mermaid back if she admitted she could become human. The answer isn’t the one she wants to hear, as Dae-woong guesses no. He reaches for the book to check the ending, but she grabs it and insists that she’ll read the book on her own. Mi-ho wishes for the mermaid to become human and live happily ever after.
Dae-woong knows the story is tragic, and finds himself worrying about Mi-ho’s reaction to finding out the ending. Finally he gets up, takes the book while Mi-ho is sleeping, and rips out the last part. YA BIG SOFTIE.
Meanwhile, Emo Gumiho Hunter flips through his own copy of the book, musing that the most difficult moment for Mi-ho will be in deciding whether to die herself, or to kill the one she loves.
The next day, Mi-ho is distressed upon discovering her missing page(s). But she doesn’t know how it ends yet!
Dae-woong offers to tell her the ending, ignoring how Mi-ho claps her hand over her ears in protest, and declares, “IT ENDS HAPPILY.” He starts to sing a line from “Under the Sea,” telling her that there’s a famous movie about this story, and the mermaid becomes human, marries her prince, gets the baddies, and lives happily ever after.
This renews her hope, and she breathes a huge sigh of relief. (I take from her reaction that despite not knowing for sure, she suspects it does not end well.)
Now that the subject of movies has been broached, Dae-woong suggests that they go watch one sometime. How about today?
Anything that humans do is welcomed by Mi-ho, so she looks forward to their plans to meet up later that evening at the theater.
Mi-ho shows Dong-joo her phone and says happily, “I’m going to become like the mermaid.” That doesn’t quite add up, so Dong-joo asks if she read the whole book. She says no, but Dae-woong told her everyone winds up happy.
He wishes her a fun first date, and Mi-ho wonders what she can do in preparation. Dong-joo rattles off all the usual activities, all of which she’s unable to do — pay, hold sparkling conversation, be amusing. All she can do is dress up and look pretty.
She’s not satisfied with that (that’s my girl!) and asks if there’s anything more she can do, so Dong-joo advises her to give Dae-woong something he likes.
She mulls this over as she walks home, which is when her supersensory hearing picks up on the distressed cries of the chicken shop ajumma. The woman is arguing with a group of thugs at a billiard hall who refuse to pay for their order.
The ajumma screams at them to pay, which prompts one thug to throw a tissue box at her — which is intercepted by Mi-ho. If there’s something Mi-ho understands, it’s the importance of paying for your meat, and she stands with the chicken lady to teach them a lesson.
We don’t see the fight itself, but the next thing you know, the men bow meekly and hand over the cash, sporting wounds.
Nothing like a gangster brawl to forge some bonds, and afterward the chicken ajumma offers to cook up a chicken for her. You know it’s serious bizness when Mi-ho turns down chicken to get ready for a date. Ajumma looks Mi-ho up and down and offers to lend a hand — she’s on her way to get a perm, and takes Mi-ho with her.
I’m going to assume from the context and the reactions that Mi-ho’s hair is supposed to look good, but let’s just say that requires a bit of suspended disbelief. Example: When Dae-woong gets his first look at her that evening at the VIP screening, he has that dumbfounded look that suggests surprised approval.
Even Sun-nyeo gives her grudging props for her looks (“You went to some effort today”), and Mi-ho returns the compliment.
While Dae-woong is away getting drinks for everyone, Sun-nyeo spots Mi-ho’s new phone and oohs over it. The wallpaper is set to the picture of the mermaid, and Mi-ho says she’s going to become like her. Sun-nyeo asks, puzzled, “Are you saying you’ll die?”
Mi-ho realizes that her idea of the story is the wrong one, and her mood takes a further hit when Byung-soo clarifies that it’s not so much that the mermaid died, but disappeared.
When Dae-woong rejoins them, he hears that Mi-ho went off to buy a book downstairs, and heads to the lobby to look for her.
There, he runs into Hye-in, and they’re both tired of the tension between them and suggest that they should try to be on good terms. It’s not a romantic conversation, but in light of her latest revelation, Mi-ho interprets it in a different way.
Dae-woong turns in time to see Mi-ho standing in the glass elevator, holding a new copy of the book, but rather than stepping out, she stays in as the elevator doors close.
The lights and the bubbles — courtesy of a passing troop of schoolchildren — produce a lovely effect that syncs with the theme, which is narrated to us by Dong-joo as Mi-ho ascends:
Dong-joo: “The mermaid watched the happy prince with the woman he loved, turned into a bubble, and disappeared entirely into the air.”
Mi-ho finds a seat on the roof and sits glumly with her book. Thinking Dae-woong wants Hye-in, she tells herself, “I decided to give him something he likes, so I have to stay here.”
Dae-woong finds her and closes the book. Mi-ho says he lied to her: “She never becomes happy, does she? She disappears, right?”
He kneels down in front of her and says warmly, “She doesn’t disappear. She survives and lives happily. Don’t listen to anyone else — my words are true, so just trust in them.”
And slowly, she smiles.
Seriously? I might just be dead from all the sweetness.
What I love about all the cute moments is that they aren’t there purely to stoke the romantic flames. Some of them are, and I got a huge laugh out of Mi-ho kicking Dae-woong off the mat so she could cuddle with him, because honestly? Where else would you see that happen? A woman who is frank about her wants and not coy about them is a rare thing in a kdrama, and the gumiho aspect gives this one a great framing device for Mi-ho’s directness about her feelings for Dae-woong. And as girlfriday said in a previous recap, it’s also clever in the way it works with the existing gumiho lore about the sexually forward woman — only, with a friendly twist.
But there are plenty of moments where it’s as much about friendship and plain ol’ caring. Dae-woong is making all the stuff up about Mi-ho being his best friend, but I’ll bet at some point he’ll be startled to realize that she has actually become that to him. The ripping out of the storybook pages and his last words in this episode are out of concern and, dare I say it, love. Yeah, I said the L word, but I mean it in a platonic sense. It’s the kind of deeply thoughtful thing you do for a beloved friend — trying to shield them from emotional distress because the thought of their pain brings you pain — not just something you do for someone who makes your heart go thumpity-thump.
It’s interesting that the drama has built this gumiho-turns-human bit around 100 days, which is a significant number in Korean culture. The 100-day birthday is a baby’s first milestone, which is taken from back in those days when the infant mortality rates were high. If you made it past the first 100 days of life, you’d crossed a big hurdle, and that was celebrated. 100 days is also the first big marker in a dating relationship, and the first big “event” that couples commemorate.
The drama is taking a bit from both sides — the romantic sense and the human-survival sense.