Now that we’re just about at the halfway point, the story really shoots forward. I had a feeling this was coming soon, but not THIS soon. But no complaints from me — I’m just hanging in there till tomorrow gives us the next episode.
(Also: Check out too-cool-for-school Kang, all awkward in front of his birthday cake. Aghhhhh so cute.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Napoleon Dynamite – “Mr. Alzheimer” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Kang barges into Min-ho’s apartment, telling Ji-hyun that if she’s not working here because she likes Min-ho, she’d better quit. (Side note: I like the way he addresses her “Song” rather than, say, Yi-kyung-sshi, saying it with a little emphasis so it sounds like “Ssong.” It’s the kind of thing you’d call an old buddy, perhaps, and it’s always interesting to note what people call each other when it’s outside of the norm.)
He doesn’t wait for her to answer and drags her out of there, not noticing that he’s clutching her burnt hand until she draws back. She’s torn because she wants to stay behind to find out what’s in Min-ho’s safe, but she’s also touched by Kang’s concern.
(His explanation for his behavior is that he can’t let her stay here with his friend’s fiancé. That word choice is telling in itself, since he could always use the ole “watching out for my buddy” defense, but instead his words show loyalty to Ji-hyun.)
Ji-hyun tears up as Kang goes on and on, and when he asks if she intends to stay, she shakes her head no. Finally he relaxes, then takes her back to resume her job at Heaven.
Ever gruff, he tells her not to slack off, but adds to Manager Oh that she shouldn’t do the dishes (because of her burn). He admits to Manager Oh that he feels at ease with Yi-kyung back, but can’t make sense of why. The manager gives him the side-eye, as if to say, Really now?, which is probably an echo of all of our thoughts. Silly boy. It’s like he doesn’t understand human emotions.
But I suppose it’s not as straightforward as mere interest in Yi-kyung, because his conflict comes from feeling the Ji-hyun-ness in her. He recognizes that he’s acting in response to that resemblance, but can’t understand why it should motivate him this way. Not that you can blame him. It’s not every day that your one true love almost dies and is brought back in the body of another woman temporarily.
Min-ho comes home and rings the bell, which seems like an odd thing to do when he’s the owner — it’s like he wants Yi-kyung to welcome him at the door, like a wife. He’s therefore alarmed when he finds the place empty, dirty laundry on the floor where she dropped it.
He’s so upset that he brushes aside a call with In-jung, who tries to bring up new concerns. She’s noticed that Ji-hyun’s father is keeping meetings from her and Min-ho, and worries that their plans are in jeopardy. Min-ho, on the other hand, is distracted and tells her he’s gotta take care of something important. She rightly wonders, “What could be more important than this?” Something tells me that Min-ho’s growing obsession with Yi-kyung is about to derail his carefully laid business plans, which would be the best revenge ever for Ji-hyun, who’s not even trying to ruin him (that way). Talk about poetic justice.
Min-ho hurries to Kang’s restaurant to ask for Yi-kyung’s address, and finds that Kang took her away out of anger over the situation. Min-ho doesn’t see why he’d be upset, but Kang says that he feels responsible for introducing Min-ho to Yi-kyung. What’s important here is that Ji-hyun is his fiancé.
To which Min-ho says no, not anymore — “I’m a realistic guy. I don’t think I have to continue loving someone I can’t be with in the future.” Congratulations, dastardly villain: You’ve just dumped coma girl and secured your place in hell. Well, you probably want a good seat. I have a feeling it’ll be crowded down there.
Kang’s incredulous at Min-ho’s quick acceptance of Ji-hyun’s condition, but Min-ho asks Kang how long he’ll cling to hope before realizing the obvious. (This is a mirror of the Seo-woo/In-jung argument, which suggests to me that Kang and Seo-woo will be Ji-hyun’s first two tears.) Kang points out that you can’t turn love on and off at will, but Min-ho, evil robot that he is, says that he can.
Afterward, the boys join the ladies for birthday cake, and Kang is adorably uncomfortable being the center of attention. Ji-hyun sings along from a distance, then steps forward to greet Seo-woo particularly warmly, ignoring the other two backstabbing liars. She cheerily returns the soup thermos to Seo-woo…who has no idea how she got it in the first place.
In-jung had used it to bring Min-ho dinner, so Ji-hyun chirps, “Ask Shin In-jung,” guaranteeing everyone’s curiosity. In-jung tries to dismiss the subject, but Ji-hyun’s not letting her off the hook and starts to explain the story, so In-jung interrupts and asks to see her privately.
Outside, Ji-hyun feigns innocence and asks why In-jung needs her visit to Min-ho’s apartment to be such a secret, wanting to hear In-jung spell it out.
She “guesses” the secret and says knowingly, “I got it! You weren’t there on an errand, were you? So he’s not just your friend’s fiancé. I understand now why you want me to keep quiet.” In-jung denies it, but Ji-hyun just nods, “Okay, I won’t tell anyone that Kang Min-ho is your boyfriend.”
Kang comes out to check on them as Ji-hyun makes a “My lips are sealed” gesture, which makes him think of Ji-hyun doing the same thing. It’s a pretty common signal, but the move, coupled with the way she smiles, is something we’ll just add that to the list of things that make Yi-kyung seem familiar — and this time, In-jung also makes the connection.
All this shifty behavior has piqued Seo-woo’s curiosity, and she later pesters In-jung for the full story. She makes a few guesses that are on the right track, suspecting that this has to do with In-jung’s mystery boyfriend, but is a few details shy of putting together the full story.
Min-ho calls In-jung out and again urges her to be patient until everything is settled. But In-jung, tired of sneaking around, counters that she’d rather everyone knew the truth so they could date openly — even if Ji-hyun’s father found out the truth, what could he do to them? Uh… you mean other than ruin the plans you’ve worked on for two years and leave you with nothing?
Min-ho has figured out that a jealous In-jung sent Kang to his place to discover Yi-kyung there, and she confirms it, saying she couldn’t stand the idea of Yi-kyung hovering around him. He apologizes for hiring Yi-kyung, admitting it was mean of him.
But! In-jung’s evasiveness has been growing more and more suspicious, and Seo-woo sneaks outside to see the couple talking, though she can’t hear the conversation.
Ji-hyun “confides” in Yi-kyung about Kang taking her away from Min-ho’s, and how she was relieved because being around Min-ho stressed her out. She’s in a good mood tonight, because she has an appointment to meet three of her friends tomorrow — surely she can wring at least one tear from them.
Thankful that she has Yi-kyung to talk to even if her voice is technically unheard, Ji-hyun wants to return the favor. She decides that if her Scheduler doesn’t track down Yi-soo, she’ll do it.
Daddy Shin, meanwhile, starts getting his own affairs in order. He keeps his illness a secret from his wife, but tells her that he’s having his will drawn up, and that he’s leaving the company to Min-ho. She doesn’t approve of the idea — he’s not their son-in-law yet — but Dad has made up his mind.
Unaware of this, Min-ho worries about President Shin’s health, having discovered the truth from the doctor. Despite his intentions to usurp his business, he’s actually upset at this news, and urges the president to get the surgery.
Dad says he’s afraid he’ll die in surgery and not get to see Ji-hyun wake up. Min-ho argues that even a 30% chance of survival is still a chance, and that he has to think positively. Such concerned words only reinforce Dad’s belief that Min-ho’s a good kid, and he says he’s glad to have him there. Min-ho at least has the grace to look conflicted about that.
(I like to give him a LITTLE credit for genuinely feeling bad about the president’s possible demise, and he does seem to want the man to recover. Perhaps part of that is mixed in with a desire for a complete victory, to win fair and square.)
On her way to meet her friends, Ji-hyun spies Kang walking by and bursts out “Han Kang!” before remembering he’s her boss again. He, on the other hand, is struck by the way that Yi-kyung’s intonation of his name is just like Ji-hyun’s and asks where she went to high school. And why she cooked mussels in the soup if she doesn’t like them herself. She thinks up a few plausible responses, but she picks up on the hint of suspicion in his questions.
He merely says that Yi-kyung reminds him of a friend — and while they weren’t close friends, he does owe her for a lot. Ji-hyun puzzles over what he could be referring to — owes her for what?
In-jung gets her first inkling at President Shin’s plans when the lawyer drops off documents. Upon reading the drafted will, she reports to Min-ho that the president intends to leave the company to him.
Min-ho can guess what triggered this decision, but curiously, he keeps mum and doesn’t say anything when In-jung wonders about the will, only saying that time will tell. What are you planning, evil bastard?
(I wonder if Min-ho is going to cut In-jung out, now that his super-secret takeover has been rendered moot by President Shin just giving him what he wants. Would he cut her out of the loop to keep himself in the clear? He seems to be the kind of guy to whom love is a decision, not an emotion, so I can see that happening…)
Ji-hyun meets her sad party of three at the coffee shop, feeling hopeful to see that the friends wear long faces and seem depressed. They explain that they hadn’t been by the hospital to see Ji-hyun because they were told her parents didn’t want visitors, and hold back tears as they realize the situation is much more dire than they’d thought.
They’re on the cusp of tears, so Ji-hyun figures one good push will move things along, and explains that loving words from friends may be able to register in Ji-hyun’s nearly-vegetative brain. She asks for some last words, which she diligently records on camera, and the friends start to break down into sobs. This response is encouraging — until Ji-hyun looks down at her necklace and sees that it’s still empty. Wither the tears?
Now she remembers the Scheduler warning that not all tears are pure, and some are driven by selfish motives. She looks around at the friends and wonders what their motives are.
Turns out that one is thinking of how she’s working butt off for her thesis and feels that it’s unfair that it could all go away in the blink of an eye. Another says that Ji-hyun was so cocky about her fiancé and her life — now her money and so-called soulmate are useless. The last one cries in pity, because Ji-hyun’s accident has put things into perspective for her — she’d wanted to die after a botched eyelid surgery, but now sees how silly that was. Well, at least she knows now.
Asked what kind of friend Ji-hyun was, the girls agree that she was nice — TOO nice, to the point of annoyance. Her sweetness was interpreted as cockiness by one friend, and as cluelessness by another. After they get their gripes off their chests, they recall themselves and add that still, she was nice. Well, then.
Ji-hyun walks out of the meeting feeling shaken, and arrives at work in low spirits, crossing names off her quickly dwindling list of friends.
Kang asks worriedly what’s wrong, but before they can get into it, Seo-woo comes running up with the news that President Shin is planning on formalizing his will today, which would leave his company to Min-ho. Ji-hyun can’t let that happen, and she cries, “No!” as she rushes away to put a stop to it.
She races in a panic to meet the Scheduler, who hilariously wonders if the Shin family DNA has got a trust-people-stupidly gene. Ji-hyun needs to put a stop to this right away, but can’t feasibly do so in Yi-kyung’s body. She can’t do anything in spirit form, either, so she begs the Scheduler to stop the will from being signed. He puts his foot down at that — that’s direct interference in human matters, and would merit punishment.
But he’s weak to her tears, and consults his deathphone for a loophole, hitting the “Chance” button. (I dunno about you, but I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of my reaper even having a chance button.) What he gets is this deal: in exchange for being able to touch one item, one time (while a spirit), she has to give up one of her 49 days. She jumps at the offer, agreeing to his warning that she’s responsible for handling everything else on her own. He won’t help at all.
While she talks, she doesn’t notice that the manager’s wife and the cafe waitress see her from across the street — and that she looks like a crazy woman, talking to a Scheduler they can’t see. They report this to Kang, saying how Yi-kyung’s gone crazy talking to herself and went home.
Ji-hyun hurries to drop the body off at the apartment, putting her plan together along the way. Stuffing a newspaper into an envelope, she addresses it to her father’s office, then sends it via courier to be delivered right away. Once her preparations are complete, she ejects herself from the body and rushes out.
When the deliveryman arrives at the office building with the envelope, she follows him to the office. In-jung accepts the envelope, and takes it into Daddy Shin’s meeting, just before the will is about to be stamped and made official.
Dad opens the envelope and finds the newspaper, assuming it’s a prank — until a story catches his eye. It’s an article about a woman in America who woke from a coma after 20 years, and as he reads it, Ji-hyun pleads with her father, saying that she won’t make him wait that long, and asks him not to sign.
But he turns back to the proceedings, to her horror, so she rushes forward to use her one-time-only move: She shoves the seal off the table to the ground, just as he’s about to reach for it. She’s trying to make him connect the dots warning him not to do this, and he does get the inkling that this is all very peculiar, but he reaches for the stamp to proceed anyway.
She’s all out of moves and cries for him to stop…which is when some other, unseen force knocks something to the ground. Her framed photo.
Aw, Scheduler, you big rule-breaking softy! He appears in a flash, grumbling like he’s all put out by Ji-hyun’s annoying predicaments, but Ji-hyun understands that he’s done this for her and is appropriately grateful. And this, finally, is enough to make Dad wonder why the photo fell. He looks at the photo of Ji-hyun and asks, “Were you sad that I was treating you like you’re already dead?” Thankfully, he takes the hint (or three) and decides not to sign today.
Ji-hyun thanks the Scheduler over and over, but the Scheduler barely listens to her, distracted as he looks around warily. He wonders, “Did they not notice?” Which is when a motorcycle comes roaring up, and a leather-clad grandma confronts him. The Scheduler stutters, “S-s-sunbae!” knowing he’s about to get his eternal ass whooped.
Biker Granny grabs him in a headlock and delivers a few noogies, then lectures him about breaking their cardinal rule about messing with human stuff. Hilariously, he sends Ji-hyun away, protesting to grandma not to do “this” (i.e., scold him) in front of her. Ha.
Grandma Scheduler asks if he’s dating Ji-hyun, which he profusely denies. He defends himself, saying he couldn’t avoid stepping in, and that he’s never met a human as ridiculous/impossible/strange as Ji-hyun, cajoling Granny to cut him some slack.
She gives him the punishment of tacking another week to his Scheduler term — a prospect that sends him begging for reprieve, since he’s been counting down the days and only has 30 left. No dice, and she leaves him whining and throwing a tantrum, which entails literally kicking and waving of fists. It is absurdly adorable.
After worrying all day about why Yi-kyung rushed out in such a panic, Kang goes after her, arriving in Yi-kyung’s neighborhood at the same time that Ji-hyun races home.
She makes it back a few moments late, after Yi-kyung wakes up to see that her front door is open. At yet more evidence that weird things are happening that she can’t explain, Yi-kyung is shaken and hurries out clutching the doctor’s business card.
That takes her right past Kang on her way to use the neighborhood store’s phone, but he misses seeing her because he’s asking for directions. When he arrives at Yi-kyung’s door, he’s perturbed to find the place empty, wondering where she could have gone.
When Yi-kyung meets Dr. Noh at the coffee shop, she confides that she’s afraid she’s going crazy, and runs down the list of things she can’t explain: Her ankle hurt for no reason, her landlady mentioned talking to her, she vomited food she hadn’t eaten. Not to mention waking up to find herself sitting in the middle of the room, or with the door open.
Dr. Noh suggests that she may be sleepwalking, which would explain her inability to remember the incidents, and advises her to come to the hospital for tests tomorrow.
Kang broods that night while clutching a charm bracelet — which must have something to do with his and Ji-hyun’s hitherto unexplained rift, which I’m eager to hear more about. After all this buildup, it had better be a good one. D’you hear me, drama gods?
In the morning, he takes Ji-hyun’s favorite flowers to the hospital, where he’s been faithfully keeping her room stocked in pink roses. But to her father, his presence is curious, because as far as Dad’s concerned, Kang is just a satellite friend who irresponsibly quit designing their project midway through. Disapprovingly, he tells Kang to stop visiting the hospital room, which, ouch. Poor repressed guy. I suppose that’s what you get for pretending you hate the girl.
Ji-hyun shows up to work to find that the restaurant is empty, since it’s closed today. The sight of the piano catches her eye, and she sits down to hum along as she plays, which Kang hears on his way in.
As with all things Ji-hyun, he immediately recognizes the familiarity and thinks back to another time he’d heard this tune. It was back in high school, when he’d been sleeping in the auditorium and Ji-hyun had begun playing, unaware he was listening.
He sees Yi-kyung at the piano, but envisions Ji-hyun’s image superimposed there. He can’t shake the feeling anymore, and approaches looking both suspicious and incredulous as he asks, “Who are you?”
And then: “Are you…Ji-hyun?”
Eeeeee! I could feel this coming, and most of us were probably sure that Kang would be the first to suspect the Ji-hyun connection, but I actually thought they’d make it the cliffhanger to tomorrow’s episode and force us suffer another week of suspense. So I’m frankly thrilled that it comes a bit early, because catching us off-guard is always better than coming too late to provide any surprise.
The little signs that Kang is picking up on are pretty minor — so minor that any one of them on their own is laughable as “proof” — but I suppose it’s really the culmination of all the little clues that gives Kang his unshakeable feeling. The nervous tics, the song, the gestures, the lilt of her voice. Those are the kind of details a lover notices about his beloved and thrills in, things that go unnoticed by most others, which reinforces his feelings nicely.
They’re building up a decent case for how Kang could have been in love with Ji-hyun all these years without her noticing, even taking into account Ji-hyun’s simple-minded cluelessness. ‘Cause a lot of these things happened without her knowing of them — it explains why she doesn’t even know what Kang owes her for, because she wasn’t aware that he was touched by her actions. And then, you know, there’s his defensive porcupine shell and proud I-don’t-care-at-all facade. It’s sweet that Kang fell in love with Ji-hyun without her being aware, and possibly even against his better judgment. So what remains is the explanation of where they went wrong. And like I said: It’d better be good.