49 Days: Episode 7
I was hard-pressed not to use another Jung Il-woo screencap up here — and there were so many good ones today! — but I do recognize that he’s not the only interesting character (or even the main one) in 49 Days. So we’ll do with a frazzled Jo Hyun-jae instead.
SONG OF THE DAY
Mate – “Yeah” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
So Ji-hyun takes the devil’s bargain, agreeing to work as Min-ho’s new housekeeper. She’s not giving up this opportunity to dig around about the shady business Min-ho’s up to. From the snippets of conversations she’s overheard, she knows he’s planning something, and that her father’s company is at risk.
She agrees so easily that Min-ho’s surprised — he was anticipating a fight, even angling for one, since that’s the only way he’s been able to engage Yi-kyung at all. He gives her his address and she agrees to meet him there the next morning.
He drives away vowing, “We’ll just see how long you look at me with that glare, Song Yi-kyung.” Ji-hyun watches him go, understanding that he’s the type of small-hearted man who can’t abide being ignored, and that he’s determined to crush her — er, Yi-kyung, the only woman who has ever presented a challenge.
Kang tells Manager Oh that he sent Yi-kyung away and doesn’t regret it in the least, oh no, he feels nothing AT ALL. Manager Oh doesn’t seem to believe him, but he’s got another matter to press upon Kang: He has recommended him as an architect for a cafe/gallery project, because Kang has washed his hands of the Haemido resort project and needs a little prodding to get back to work.
Meanwhile, Ji-hyun has lined up an appointment with a friend (under a false name) to resume her Three Tears Project, only to find that the friend has gotten held up at work. She gets blown off, and Ji-hyun’s miffed at her friend’s easy dismissal.
Starving, she stops for a bite to eat and sighs over the small portion. Given that Ji-hyun’s abnormally large appetite wasn’t well-received by Yi-kyung’s body last time, it seems ill-advised that she orders a second helping. However, she’s spurred by the memory of the doctor warning her to stay away from noodles, and the worry that Yi-kyung’s going to persist in her steady diet of instant ramyun.
That day, she comes home early to let her body rest, and Yi-kyung awakens earlier than usual. She darts out of the house to a nearby store to use the phone, apologizing to her boss for being ill the day before. Unfortunately, he gives her some bad news.
Kang meets with his new prospective client, but is immediately put off by the man’s attitude and rejects the job offer flatly. As he leaves the meeting, he spies Yi-kyung hurrying to the store, and for a moment he seems ready to go after her — which would be GREAT, given the confusion that would ensue — but finally decides against it.
The almost-encounter gives him difficulty sleeping that night, though, as he thinks back to how he fired Yi-kyung, and how she left without taking his money.
Yi-kyung returns home glumly and sleeps through the night, having lost her job, while Ji-hyun hovers over her worriedly. When morning comes, Ji-hyun’s in a panic because Yi-kyung is now awake — and that means Ji-hyun can’t take over and meet Min-ho for her new job.
The Scheduler shows up to tell her exasperatedly that this is Ji-hyun’s fault for getting Yi-kyung sick and thus fired. She was given permission by the Powers That Be to use Yi-kyung’s body — provided she not harm the body, and that she worked around the human’s life, not the other way around.
With Yi-kyung’s schedule now out of whack, Ji-hyun won’t be able to predict when Yi-kyung falls asleep. The Scheduler warns her to stick close by, lest she lose her opportunity.
That means that Min-ho is left waiting for her at home, growing increasingly angry at being stood up. He shows up for work late, where In-jung suggests that they lunch together, only to be turned down coldly. She’s hurt, but he reminds her that they’ve always played their parts at the office, even when nobody’s around.
So now it’s time to find out how they met, as a flashback takes us back a few years:
In-jung had been walking through the neighborhood at night, talking on the phone with her mother, when she’d been grabbed by a couple of thugs and shoved into their car. Min-ho, returning from one of his frequent hiking trips, had seen her screaming and struggling and run after the car. He’d rescued her from her kidnappers and seen to her safety, after which he’d walked her home, and they’d exchanged names and numbers.
Min-ho finds her lost in her nostalgia, and assures her that the deal is a few days from being closed, which means that they can date openly soon. He asks her to be understanding until they pass their biggest hurdle.
We finally address whatever mystery ailment Daddy Shin has been hiding, as his friend Dr. Jo warns him that h should have surgery right away. But Dad resists, saying that he can’t do it now — now while Ji-hyun’s laid up and his wife is barely hanging on. You get the sense he’s hoping for a miracle and wants Ji-hyun to wake up before he allows himself to be sick, but the doc gives it to him straight: “There’s no hope for your daughter.” He even threatens to tell his wife about his illness, but Dad argues, unwilling to give up on his daughter.
Min-ho finalizes the paperwork on the multimillion-dollar real estate deal, then heads to Kang’s restaurant to tell him to take up the Haemido project again. Kang has a creative, eccentric design style, and he says he’s just the guy to design one of the resort’s pensions (vacation guesthouse). Kang declines, but Min-ho insists.
Min-ho’s personality downturn hasn’t gone unnoticed, and both Manager Oh and Kang puzzle over his increasingly negative moods. Okay, I know the guy’s a sneaky bastard, but isn’t this one of those things we can file under “…because his fiancée is brain-dead”?
In any case, although the pension was Min-ho’s excuse for dropping by, his real purpose was to check if Yi-kyung had come back — an impulse even he isn’t happy about. As soon as he leaves, he grumbles to himself, “What did you come here to confirm?”
We introduce a new rule (or maybe it’s just a corollary): If Ji-hyun takes over the body while it’s only in a light sleep, there’s a chance Yi-kyung could “wake” while Ji-hyun is still at the helm — which would be disastrous, because Yi-kyung would literally wake up mid-action and probably freak out. This is of particular relevance because Ji-hyun sees that Yi-kyung has finally fallen asleep and is impatient to go out…
…but she senses the risk and reluctantly turns back. She can’t chance it, especially when the consequences could endanger her 49 days as a whole.
Instead, Ji-hyun stays home and wonders why her host is wasting her life so thoroughly. She recalls Dr. Noh’s words and wonders what it is that happened five years ago that started this downward spiral.
She rifles around looking for a photo album — and that’s when she slumps to the ground, her spirit losing its hold on the host. She’s thrown out of the body, and Yi-kyung wakens slowly to see that she’s on the ground, fully dressed.
Yi-kyung thinks back to all the weird things that have been happening to her — her washed hair, twisted ankle, sickness — and senses there’s more to her life than she’s been aware. Ji-hyun can’t do anything but look in horror as Yi-kyung fumbles through her box of hidden belongings and finds the shampoo.
But what explanation could make sense of those things? Yi-kyung just laughs bitterly, then declares, “I’m sick of this!” Fed up with her misery, Yi-kyung finds a piece of rope and twists it into a noose, looking for a place to hang it.
Ji-hyun calls the Scheduler and begs him to come quick and stop her, because Yi-kyung’s about to commit suicide. But to her shock, he just answers, “Again?” He orders her, “Leave her alone. Whether she commits suicide is her choice. It’s not for us to interfere with.”
Just as Yi-kyung is about to put her head into the noose, a knock sounds at the door — it’s Dr. Noh. She ignores him at first, but he’s so insistent that finally she opens the door.
He’d been worried because he couldn’t find her at the convenience store, and is relieved to see her alive and well. Er, alive. He’s here to return her dried rose to her, the meaning of which is lost on him but the sight of which has an immediate effect on her. It softens her anger, and she takes it, as well as the card he offers in case she should want to talk.
When she comes back inside, Ji-hyun holds her breath, waiting to see if she’ll resume her suicide plan. Thankfully she doesn’t, and Ji-hyun tearily thanks her for staying alive.
She doesn’t know why Yi-kyung’s so miserable, but she asks:
Ji-hyun: “You don’t know how precious it is to have a body, do you? Being able to touch, and feeling warmth. You have a voice that someone else can hear, and you have people to hear your voice. You can look at someone and smile together. Unni, please, have strength. You need to be strong so I can live too — no, so that I can do something to stay alive.”
But Time, she keeps on ticking, and over the course of the next four days, Ji-hyun remains stuck inside the apartment because Yi-kyung stays at home, doing nothing but eating ramyun.
With her days counting down, Ji-hyun begs the Scheduler to do something. Alas, he can’t do anything to directly help, either, since he can’t influence the will of the living.
On the other hand, he’s annoyed at being pestered (and also curious about Yi-kyung), so he puts in a call to his reaper sunbae to ask if he can use “Tactic #3” in cases like this.
This super-special Tactic #3 involves…
…the Scheduler dressing up like a free-lovin’ hippie, speaking with fey mannerisms and falsetto voice. Omg.
He looks up a late-night coffee shop, then has a fit about the “bad energy in here.” He advises the manager to bring in a nighttime worker, using his Reaper omniscience to play psychic: He knows that last month the man’s dog died, and next will be…
With that, Psychic Hippie shudders as though his spirit sense has left him, and talks normally — just as he has the manager hooked. So the manager is on pins and needles as the Scheduler tosses a few last tips: If he finds a woman for the job who’s under 30, thin, and doesn’t smile easily, the manager will have a long life. HAHA.
I don’t know what’s more hilarious: the Scheduler’s Tactic #3, or the fact that there’s been enough need for this routine in the past to warrant a nickname for it.
To ensure that Yi-kyung gets the message, she is followed around by job flyers that only appear to her. She disregards them all, but you can only ignore the Powers That Be for so long before they insist upon being noticed. Finally, she registers the monster-sized poster that specifies the job qualifications: “1am to 8 am. Female. Ages between 28 and 29. Height 170 cm. Weight under 51 kg.” LOL. The sign even specifies a familial atmosphere and the ability to work “without the boss hovering.”
She takes the flyer with her to the cafe, but when she holds it out, nobody else can see the paper. But she fits his requirements and he’s eager to hire her right away.
Ji-hyun promises the Scheduler that she’ll be more careful about how she uses the body this time. She asks for another favor (prompting an outburst from the Scheduler about how women always respond to a nice gesture by asking for more, more, MORE!), and requests more information on Yi-kyung’s life. She feels sorry for her loneliness, and wants to find her family if she has any.
He says that’s outside his realm, but he’s been known to bend a rule or two for Ji-hyun before… Plus, he does seem to have a growing curiosity regarding the puzzling host.
With 33 days left, Ji-hyun finally gets a turn at the body, and shows up at Min-ho’s apartment to claim her job. He’s long given up on expecting her and greets her stonily, but it’s not like he’s about to send her away, either. Using the excuse that she was fired because of him, he invites her in.
He wants her ID card and number, which she doesn’t carry with her, and settles for her phone number. As he leaves, he tells her to wait for him to come home tonight, not caring that it’s rude of him to basically tell her to wait for twelve hours with nothing more than a cavalier “I’ll try to be home by 11.”
Ji-hyun doesn’t like the idea of giving up an entire day stuck inside, but she agrees and gets right to work rifling through his things, looking for incriminating information.
Seo-woo matches her day off with In-jung’s thinking that the girls can visit Ji-hyun together. But In-jung has plans, and Seo-woo guesses that she has a new boyfriend. Naturally curious, Seo-woo prods for details, and eagerly suggests that sharing the news with Ji-hyun might prompt her to wake up.
It’s just the sort of comment to ping a backstabby friend’s guilt reflex, and In-jung tells Seo-woo to stop talking about Ji-hyun all the damn time (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”), and that their lives aren’t only about her. “Are you never going to see another movie or eat tasty food or date or marry, because you feel sorry to Ji-hyun?”
Seo-woo points out that hardly any time has passed since the accident, but In-jung declares that it’s only a matter of time before they resume their lives — and she’s already reached that point.
Snooping in Min-ho’s files, Ji-hyun doesn’t find the business papers she’s looking for, but she does find an album of couple photos of Min-ho and In-jung, which date back to 2006. Before Min-ho studied abroad, and definitely before she met him. Her suspicions confirmed, she’s amazed at her (ex-)friends’ audacity.
At the restaurant, Manager Oh drags Kang out of his office, insisting he’s been cooped up for too long, and engages him in a round of forced calisthenics. It’s in this undignified position that Ji-hyun finds him (she left Min-ho’s apartment after verifying that his passcode has been unchanged), as cheery as ever.
Kang’s a little thrown at her upbeat attitude and he takes a gruff, “Why are you here?” tone. She calls him “Han Kang-sshi” and her speech is too familiar for (his) comfort, but she points out that he’s no longer her boss. She’s a paying customer, here to eat. Heh.
While Ji-hyun eats and chats with the manager’s wife, Kang looks over at her while doing the whole “I’m NOT standing here to listen to you, but oh well if I happen to accidentally overhear you…” routine. He takes in the news that she has a cushy new — which pays better — although she admits that she was more comfortable working here.
He doesn’t bother speaking directly to Ji-hyun, but he tells Manager Oh not to charge her for her meal. On her way out, she tells him she paid anyway, since she’s no beggar. For good measure, she tells him clearly that she has absolutely no interest in his engaged friend.
She scoffs at his “feigned concern,” but then Kang surprises her by asking after her health, and checking that she’s truly okay with her new job. Mollified to see that he really is concerned, she says goodbye (promising the manager’s wife to come back frequently for pasta) and heads off.
That’s when the nosy waitress, Soon-jung, comes up with the brilliant idea that Yi-kyung’s new job must be at a bar — what else could give her lots of pay and afternoons off? And we know that good Korean girls do NOT work as bar hostesses — that’s for those who’ve given up all hope of decent living, or sold their souls for money, or have no shame.
Alarmed, Kang runs after Yi-kyung, but is unable to find her. She’s actually standing just around a corner, behind a bush, but he doesn’t see her and grumbles to himself, upset.
Ji-hyun watches him running through the park in concern, and thinks to herself, “Kang, I know you’re worrying about Song Yi-kyung and not me, but thank you. I’m relieved to have someone like you.”
As Kang keeps looking around for her, she continues, “Don’t do that — it makes me want to go to you…when the person you’re worrying over isn’t me.” Fighting her tears, she dashes off.
All day at work, Min-ho is conscious of Yi-kyung waiting for him at home, considering the idea of going home early. So when In-jung calls to confirm the dinner date he’d forgotten, he makes up the excuse that he can’t make it because he’ll have to work through dinner, thanks to the recent deal.
But somebody’s wearing his bad idea pants today, because like the helpful secret girlfriend she is, In-jung takes it upon herself to head over to prepare her busy boyfriend a proper dinner.
I’m glad that this drama has addressed the issues of sharing the body, which I always think is a tricky issue in body-swap and body-possession stories. You have to take pains to state the rules and to address possible sticky issues, like whether it’s fair to take over someone’s life without their permission (or even awareness), and whether there are consequences. I accept 49 Days‘ explanation of why Yi-kyung’s the host — she’s the reason Ji-hyun was sent to her early, unscheduled death — and I like that the physical ramifications are clear.
Plus, since you have the grumpy Scheduler on hand to berate Ji-hyun for being selfish or thoughtless, it makes Ji-hyun’s behavior more acceptable. If she did things that went unpunished, I’d be upset with her, but since she’s getting her scoldings regularly, it frees me to find her sweet (if dim).
For instance, take her impatience to occupy the host, and her whining to the Scheduler. Her attitude reminds me of the feeling of helplessness when your schedule is wholly dependent upon another person’s, sort of like sharing a car with a twin. But he reminds her that the fact that she even gets a crack at the body is a gift, and that she’d better remember that SHE’S the parasite here.
I enjoy that Ji-hyun’s getting a whole new perspective on the two guys in her life, and that she gets to fall in love with Kang not because he loves her, or because he treats her well, or because he says the right thing at the right time — but instead, just because he’s a good person with a good heart. She was fooled by Min-ho’s perfect demeanor and practiced ways, thinking they were made for each other because he’d made damn sure to be exactly what she wanted. I always love it when a story shows me two people falling in love separately, and then together. It’s not to diminish the appeal of a love-at-first-sight, or immediate mutual bond, but when both sides independently learn to love the other, it somehow makes the eventual mutual version all the sweeter.
Even if that means Jo Hyun-jae gets together with Nam Gyuri. Sigh. I’m warming to it, slowly. I’ll get there. Eventually.