I won’t lie. This episode was not easy to recap. I don’t have stellar expectations for this show to begin with, so I’m usually easy to please when it comes to Playful Kiss. Be cute. The end. But this episode left me shaking my fist in the air, and wanting to revoke Ha-ni’s membership from…being a GIRL.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

Mom asks Seung-jo to move back home and stop giving Ha-ni such a hard time. Seung-jo tells her that he left precisely to get away from her attempts to control him. He notes that she never asked him what he wanted when she brought Ha-ni back into the house, bringing Mom near tears.

After he leaves, she frets that he’s left home to discover his own path, but nothing has actually changed in his life. Dad tells her to wait it out for him to figure things out on his own.

Min-ah and Ju-ri come by for lunch, telling Ha-ni about a high school reunion, complete with a school-uniform dress code. But, didn’t they graduate, like yesterday? Ha-ni gets weak in the knees thinking about Seung-jo back in his high school uniform.

She finds him at school to tell him about it, and he brushes her off coldly, saying that he doesn’t know who came up with such a childish idea, but he’s not interested. Ha-ni mumbles to herself as he walks off, “How can I possibly know what’s in that head of yours?” Yeah, you’re not the only one who’s wondering, as the comments in this thread’ll tell ya.

He hears her and turns around to give her the stink eye, and walks off.

Mom suggests a scheme to get Seung-jo to the reunion. Gah, this is why he’s running away from you. Maybe you want to give the scheming a rest for a while, till he stops pushing Ha-ni away because of your “plans”?

Ha-ni gets dressed in her old school uniform, getting nostalgic for the good old days, even taking out her D-minus love letter and remembering it fondly.

At the event, Ha-ni rubbernecks around for Seung-jo, finding him sitting alone in his regular clothes, complete with sour look of disdain. She heads over and he coughs up her house keys, completing his mom-assigned task with little desire to humor her further. Although it does make me wonder: if you hate being controlled so much, then why do you always do as she asks, knowing exactly why you’re being asked to do it? Not that I don’t know the power of the Korean Mother’s Request For Favors. They’re not requests—they’re thinly-veiled commands from up high, couched in social graces. It’s like if Noriega used words like “please” and “thank you.”

Ha-ni tries to get Seung-jo to stay and have some fun since he’s here anyway, (grabbing his wrist) but he shakes her off and leaves curtly. But not two feet away, when his classmates greet him, he joins them at a table, smiling and chatting like a person not made of inorganic metal parts.

Unsurprisingly, his friends from high school are the cream of the crop smartypants boys from good families, who all went to Taesan University, where Seung-jo missed his interview that day. They see Ha-ni across the aisle and assume that they’re really dating now, making her smile. But Seung-jo, still angry, and well, being Seung-jo and all, flatly denies it, saying, “I don’t keep those sorts of things [girlfriends].”

Ha-ni glares and pouts, then stalks away, and Seung-jo clocks her every move. You passive-aggressive little snot.

At the gathering, Bye Bye Sea gets introduced as Bye Bye Sea, now having officially become a band after high school. While they play, Ha-ni notes that Seung-jo is brooding in the corner, lost in his thoughts. He’s angsting over what to do with his life, now confronted with the fact that his classmates have all chosen majors while he’s still undeclared, and they suggest that he simply rest on his laurels and inherit his father’s company.

The next time Ha-ni looks up, he’s gone. She takes the coat he left behind and heads home, wondering what was on his mind.

Seung-jo heads to his apartment, stopping outside to think over his father’s wishes for him to follow in his footsteps, and Ha-ni’s suggestion that he become a doctor.

Ha-ni shows up behind him with his jacket, (which he totally left there on purpose, subconsciously) asking him to unload on her: “They say that if you share something bad it splits in half, and if you share something good, it doubles.” He smiles at that, and as Ha-ni waits expectantly, he gets up to announce his decision: he will be going pre-med.

Well, duh.

Ha-ni is shocked, though, not knowing of course the extent to which she influences him. He just makes her promise not to say anything to anyone yet. ‘Cause that worked so well last time. She watches him walk away curiously, breaking into a smile when she realizes that she’s the only one on this planet who knows this about Seung-jo. Oh, the power of secrets.

Kyung-soo is planning a Top Spin ten-year anniversary party, and in order to get He-ra to attend, the other club officer (a great side character who I wish we saw more of) tells him to just get Seung-jo to come. For that, he needs Ha-ni, naturally. She doesn’t want to keep using Seung-jo as bait for He-ra, but Kyung-soo pleads with her, and sends her literally into Seung-jo’s path.

She tells him that his dad went to the hospital today for a check-up, and Seung-jo heads home to see the results. He reads the chart and deduces that Dad needs to watch out for his heart health. Mom cuts Dad off from sweets or fried foods, making him pout like she cancelled Christmas.

Ha-ni arrives at Dad’s restaurant to find Joon-gu hard at work on his first official dish that’s going to be served to customers. Dad praises him for his talent and dedication, making Ha-ni see him in a new light. Well it’s about time! She stares at him intently, saying that she’s only known him to be a slacker, but this is the first time she’s ever seen him do anything so diligently. Except love you? But you wouldn’t know about that.

Duckie’s made her a lunch spread fit for kings, and I’m having serious food envy right now. He’s on pins and needles awaiting her verdict, and she takes one bite…”DAEBAK!” Duckie pretty much dies of happiness right then and there.

At school, Ha-ni approaches He-ra with some trepidation, but she asks if she’ll be attending the Top Spin party (No) and whether she’s picked a major. One-track mind, this girl. She’s concerned that He-ra might follow Seung-jo all the way to med school. He-ra, in a surprising moment of clarity that makes me respect her, laughs at Ha-ni’s silliness, saying that she’ll choose her major based on what SHE wants to do…because it’s HER life.

Thank you! Finally a girl with some sense! I know, I normally love to despise this girl, but here she’s a great example for Ha-ni, who’s got some serious growing up to do, in this respect. But then to set the world back on its proper axis, He-ra finishes it off with her trademark condescending bitchiness, petting Ha-ni on the head like a child. Ha-ni frowns as she watches He-ra go, admitting to herself that in this one way, He-ra’s pretty impressive. I certainly hope it encourages you to ask what YOU want to do with your life…other than love Seung-jo, that is.


She runs into Seung-jo on campus, and tells him that He-ra, all of her friends, even Duckie, are all figuring out what they want to do with their lives, but she…isn’t. Well then shouldn’t this be lighting a fire under your ass?

She tells Seung-jo that she does have a dream. It’s to…be his nurse when he starts a little medical practice somewhere. Or to be a stewardess if he becomes a pilot. Or a caddy if he becomes a golf pro.

THUNK. That would be the sound of my opinion of you…dropping so far into the Earth’s core that it came out the other side.

Seriously? What in the WHAT, now? Did you really just say that your Big Life Plan…is to follow Seung-jo around for the rest of your life and be his assistant, his secretary, his token lackey? Why the FRAK did you go to college to get a first-rate education, then??

VOMIT.

I’m ashamed of you right now. I know it’s harsh, but that’s the truth.

Seung-jo smiles and tells her that she’s got unrealistic goals, but they’re her dreams, and very Ha-ni-esque ones at that. He pats her on the back and tells her that the unreachable dreams are ones fighting for.

He gets called home by Dad, who pitches a fit at finding out that he’s chosen to be a doctor. Yeah, that’s not unrealistic at ALL, Show. Dad is heartbroken over Seung-jo’s flat refusal to inherit the family company, so much so that he actually has a heart attack.

Oh, GOD. Really, Show? We’re just careening off the deep end today, are we?

Needless to say, Dad’s stress-related heart condition is enough to get Seung-jo to go in and help run the company in Dad’s absence, and move back into the house. In an amusing bit of meta, the second he walks in, the two women in the office swoon and call him Yonsama. Haha.

Ha-ni relishes playing the housewife (sigh) to Seung-jo while the parents are in the hospital. Eun-jo whines about the abundance of inedible food at the dinner table, but Seung-jo doesn’t make one complaint about her horrible cooking, and eats it, knowing how hard she worked. Okay, that’s adorable.

She calls Dad to ask him how to make an egg side dish, and Duckie overhears that Ha-ni is packing Seung-jo’s lunch. Seung-jo reluctantly takes the lunch that Ha-ni made after hearing that she woke up at the crack of dawn to make it, and smiles when he opens it up.

Duckie comes in, having tracked Seung-jo down at the office, and hands him a new lunch, one that he made instead. Seung-jo lets Duckie run off with Ha-ni’s lunch, since well, he saved him from having to actually eat it. Heh.

Duckie sits in the park with Ha-ni’s lunchbox, eager to taste her cooking, despite his mood sagging when he sees the heart-shaped food. He takes a bite…and wonders if Ha-ni actually hates Seung-jo. HAHAHA.

Seung-jo sits up late that night, and tells Ha-ni that Dad isn’t doing well, and he’ll probably have to undergo surgery. He’ll have to stay at the company, and give up his med school dreams.

Ha-ni tells him that he can’t—it’s the first time he’s ever found something he’s wanted to do. He can’t give that up. But Seung-jo is doing the dutiful thing, and even though he doesn’t enjoy working for his father, he knows it’s the right thing to do. Ha-ni reminds him of his graduation promise—to have fun. Seung-jo says that he’ll have to sacrifice that in order to make others happy (the other half of the promise).

Ha-ni sweetly back-hugs him, knowing that it’s all she can do.

At school, He-ra deduces what Seung-jo is doing to help his family, and goads Ha-ni about not being able to do anything but follow him around and say empty words. That spurs Ha-ni to get a job at the company, and follow Seung-jo to work. Gah, I’m getting really tired of this same plot pattern being used over and over again. It’s the same dynamic and nothing changes.

Seung-jo meets with a potential investor, who takes a liking to him instantly, so much so that he asks for Seung-jo to meet his granddaughter. What, now you have to prostitute yourself for Dad’s company? This is going to a weird place. Did we step into a different drama?

Seung-jo shows up to the blind date, and who should be sitting there? Why He-ra of course. Who didn’t see that coming?

COMMENTS

Well, it looks like He-ra’s pulling out the big guns, but I’m pretty sure this is the move that’ll get her black-balled. I mean, Seung-jo isn’t exactly the corporate-merger-arranged-marriage type. I foresee some angst for Ha-ni, who is faithfully taking care of Seung-jo at home. I’m pretty sure if I were doing that much cooking, I’d be pissed that he was getting his kicks elsewhere with the she-witch from Whoville.

I’m so glad that Duckie has turned a new leaf, and has become passionate about something other than just loving Ha-ni. Note how it’s at that moment that Ha-ni starts to see him differently. That’s exactly what I want for Ha-ni too—to grow and become her own person, find her own dreams and desires. Because right now I see why Seung-jo isn’t shouting her name from the rooftops. Her entire identity is wrapped up in him, and it’s starting to show at the seams.

I know this has been the case for Ha-ni from the beginning, but now that DUCKIE the perennial slacker has found purpose in his life, her lack of such…pales in comparison. I certainly hope that Ha-ni gets the same sort of character development that the male characters are getting, because if she doesn’t, we’ll have WORDS, Show.

To be honest, her lack of oomph on that front kind of killed my love for her in this episode. I’m hoping that it’s part of her arc, and that she’ll be growing. I just want to believe that, because if all she does is fulfill her current dream…I may vomit from the implication that that’s…enough. I frankly don’t have that much hope for her now, which makes the rest of it (her winning Seung-jo in the end) less satisfying, if that’s ALL she’s about.

Duckie’s development highlights again the pot-lid metaphor, because when she began to take him seriously, I thought, wouldn’t it be perfect if the two characters who were so devoted in love…could love each other? But then that’s the whole point—why they’re not meant to be—because they’re both lids. Or pots. Whichever. They’re of the same mold, which makes them redundant, to each other. It’s not necessarily a belief I hold in real life, but I like what the drama is doing with it as a romantic throughline, because it’s a great point narratively. It makes character differences interesting, and not just as motivations for clashes. It’s the puzzle idea—that two people need to be complementary to fit together, not shaped the same way. In that respect I do enjoy the relationship between Seung-jo and Ha-ni, as they continue to complement each other. I just wish that it wasn’t always Ha-ni matching herself to Seung-jo. I want her to form her own piece, and for Seung-jo to try and match her once in a while too.

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