Ahhh, what a satisfying episode! It’s essentially an episode of payoffs, which is great when you have a drama so chock-full of secrets, plots, and multiple layers of truth and discovery. The worst dramas are the ones where there’s one big secret at the beginning, and the drama’s all about that same secret the whole way through. Here, things keep evolving, so we’re on the hook, just desperate for another crumb, to see how each new setup pays off. And they all just happen to come to a head in this one. (To girlfriday: Neener neener!)
SONG OF THE DAY
Thornapple – “플랑크톤” (Plankton) [ Download ]
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Oh, man. So the Scheduler/Yi-soo finally remembers Yi-kyung, and rips our hearts out in the process. His pain is palpable as he takes in her haggard face and asks, “Why do you look like this? What have you done to yourself?” Ji-hyun is unnerved and reminds him that she’s Ji-hyun, which takes him out of his memory.
Yi-soo wonders at the photo found in Yi-kyung’s hotel locker, because he’s never seen it before. It makes one puzzle piece fall into place for him, and he breaks down sobbing, realizing, “So that’s why Yi-kyung…”
A flashback gives us a rounder picture of their argument: Yi-kyung had broached a topic they’d argued about many times before, only today she’s clutching the photo in her hands (he doesn’t see it). She’d accepted that he moved out into his studio to pursue music, but now suspects he’s using music as an excuse to cover up for a new girlfriend, while he hears her words as nagging mistrust when he’d repeatedly told her that he’s not fooling around.
Finally, Yi-soo had declared, “I’m sick of it! I’m sick of you. The thought of marrying you feels suffocating! Thinking of spending the next 30, 40 years with you like I’ve spent the last 18 — it’s horrifying.”
Oh, Scheduler. How could you? He’d yelled, “How is it you never change? How can you be exactly the same as you were at age 5?”
After that blowup, he’d headed away for a few weeks to perform with the band, working construction in the daytime. His pissiness eventually faded and he’d bought a set of couple rings, which he had engraved, “S love K.” It’s the same thing printed on his bike, which means, Yi-Soo loves Yi-Kyung.
On his way back to Seoul, like a lovesick fool he’d been looking at the rings while riding his bike, thinking of their reconciliation. Only, well, we already know the story. One collision with a truck later and he’d been twitching on the ground, looking at his rings and flashing back to all the happy times in his final moments. Oh my god, this is so sad. Can’t see my screen. Need a tissue.
So what about that photo? Yi-soo realizes that the girl had taken it while he slept, and wants to explain himself to Yi-kyung right away. Except…something feels weird. Why did he recover his memory? (As in, why was he allowed to retrieve it?)
He calls his reaper sunbae to ask angrily how he could’ve let Yi-kyung live like this for five years, and what he gets in response is a shrill ringing tone — a summons. With that, he sends Ji-hyun away, and I love that his send-off — the very common, everyday “take care” — is extra meaningful today, since it literally means, “Take care of your body.”
On her way home, Ji-hyun wonders if there’s such a thing as truth that can’t be misunderstood. She had loved her best friend, but In-jung said she’d been blissfully ignorant. Yi-soo called his feelings love, but Yi-kyung believed he’d changed his mind. “How can you convey feelings that aren’t seen?”
In-jung turns to a shaman for advice, which cracks me up for some reason although I suppose it should make sense within this drama’s scope. At least, more than incompetent psychiatrists who make diagnoses about past lives and have no understanding of doctor-patient confidentiality.
The shaman returns bad news, saying that In-jung’s stuck in a bind, all right. But at least the girl didn’t really die, because she’d have haunted her forever then. The only way for her to fix this is to chuck the soul out of her host body. But how?
At Heaven, the ridiculous lovebirds (Manager Oh and his wife) have a spat, because wifey is frustrated with her husband’s refusal to tell her what he’s talking about with Kang that is so secretive. She’s been nagging for a while, but he has put his foot down, and now she feels their marital trust is threatened. Finally she walks away and he breaks down, saying that he has an important reason for doing it, and that he’s just as miserable.
Wifey can’t stand to see him crying, and rushes back to his side. She explains to a just-arrived Kang, “He must really love me to cry like this.”
That sparks an idea in Kang’s brain, and he recalls how Ji-hyun had clutched her pendant every time he’d insisted she was Ji-hyun. The pendant was in the shape of a tear…and she needs proof of a person’s love…
Wifey and Su-jin both come to the same conclusion to their “How do you show proof of love?” puzzle, confirming his hunch. So when Ji-hyun arrives, he steals (not-so-) surreptitious looks at the pendant, noticing that it looks different than before.
He asks where she bought the pendant, why it changed, and when she swapped them. That puts Ji-hyun on her guard, especially when he tests the waters by mentioning that the thing inside looks like a teardrop, too. But he plays dumb (the sly fox is gettin’ good at that) and says that it’s a simple question that normal people can ask.
Ji-hyun answers cautiously that it changed on the day she submitted her resignation, and Kang thinks back to that day…when he raced to the hospital…and cried. He thinks to himself, “Then is that…my tear?”
Omg! Way to put two and two together! (Finally somebody does!) Hallelujah for smart people!
Ji-hyun wonders why he’s so interested in all this, and he explains, “That day, I was so upset that you’d turned in your resignation that I visited my friend Ji-hyun in the hospital, and cried a little.” (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!)
Ji-hyun is stunned, and wonders to herself, “Kang-ah, so it was you?”
Tears fill her eyes and he asks why, to which she says, “It’s because I’m so thankful.” Seeing that she clutches her necklace in fear, Kang hurriedly sends her back to work.
Min-ho has another meeting with his Haemido cohort at rival company, back on track to carry out his evil plan. This time he has no intention of getting cold feet and second-guessing his scheme once they put things into motion.
Now that Kang has figured out a huge missing piece of the Ji-hyun Is a Ghost puzzle, he’s ready to jump into action too. One of the companies involved in this whole Haemido issue is in the States, so Kang is ready to chuck his own pride aside to ask his own father for help. Kang-ah! When did you get so mature and hot? (Okay, you were always hot.)
Plus, while they know that tears are the key, they still need to figure out how to acquire them. Manager Oh offers to get to work on that, and also suggests that Kang try to acquaint himself with the real Yi-kyung, in case she notices him hanging around and feels creepy about it. At least someone finally addresses the stalking-is-creepy issue.
Ji-hyun’s about to go meet Min-ho outside, and Kang grabs her arm to stop her, saying that there’s nothing she can do about this situation as Song Yi-kyung. I love that they’re both starting to talk about the situation indirectly, as though they’ve tacitly decided to keep pretending she’s Yi-kyung and that Kang knows nothing, but that it’s clear in every exchange that both know more than that.
Ji-hyun assures Kang that she’ll come back to him after sending Min-ho away, so he reluctantly backs off.
Min-ho fumes, wanting Yi-kyung to quit her job here, and asks why she won’t. Ji-hyun answers levelly, “Because there’s somebody I like here.” (Omo omo!) She adds, “So don’t call me anymore. I don’t want to see you again.” (Omona sesangae!)
Min-ho grabs her arm to stop her, and I keep thinking that Ji-hyun is getting so spun around in this drama — Kang! Min-ho! Kang! Min-ho! — that she’s generating her own gravity.
He asks her in a hurt voice, “What was I to you? Didn’t you like me?” and I love that he’s got tears in his eyes. It’s just so satisfying. She returns, “Nope. Not for one moment. Although I may have fooled myself into thinking I did — just like you’re fooling yourself now.”
Kang can’t hold back any longer and comes forward to pull Ji-hyun away from Min-ho, and he orders his hyung to stay away from her and his restaurant. Min-ho asks, “Was it Ji-hyun?” which stops them all in their tracks. “You wanted to find a woman when you returned to Korea. Was it Ji-hyun?”
Kang merely says they were once close enough to talk about stuff like that, and takes Ji-hyun away.
In the car, Ji-hyun sees that Kang is still worked up, and assures him that she’d told Min-ho off. He hadn’t heard their conversation, so this relieves him considerably, and he tells her not to go around alone at night anymore, as he’ll drive her home. She accepts, and adds that it’s great for her, as she doesn’t have many days left. The implication isn’t lost on him.
She looks at him and sadly wonders why it took her so long to realize all this about Kang. (Seriously!)
That night, Yi-kyung wakes up and Ji-hyun greets her happily to “inform” her that the Scheduler has remembered her. There’s a moment when it seems like Yi-kyung can hear her, and Ji-hyun tests it out, calling softly, “Unniiii.” But Yi-kyung doesn’t react, so Ji-hyun continues talking, assuring Yi-kyung that she was dearly loved by Yi-soo.
And yet…Yi-kyung wonders to herself, “How does she know Yi-soo?” Ohhhhhhh my god. She can hear?!
When Yi-kyung leaves for work, Yi-soo follows just behind her, his feet in step with hers, and he lights the darkened street as she walks by. Aw, that brings a tear to my eye — this idea that your loved ones continue to love you after they’re gone, and sometimes even light your way.
He watches her work, recalling her words that she stopped trusting people after Yi-soo abandoned her, and says, “I’m sorry.”
Which she hears.
(Seriously, this episode is kinda blowing my mind. So much good stuff!)
Yi-kyung clutches her chest like she’s in pain, and Yi-soo holds himself back from going to her. Just then, Kang enters the cafe — there’s a nice juxtaposition of him, face to face with Yi-soo, both of them loving this woman in different forms — and asks if she’s okay.
There’s a momentary flicker in Yi-kyung’s eyes (it makes me wonder if she recalls his name instinctually too), but they carry out this transaction like a normal employee-customer scene.
Which wouldn’t be so weird, if only they didn’t have an observer sitting in the cafe — In-jung, who is keeping an eye on Yi-kyung and thus puzzled at Kang’s behavior. (Also, In-jung? You may be the least creepy stalker in this drama, but you surely win the award for Most Skulking and Most Conveniently Overheard Conversations. Maybe you’d have a happier life if you spent more of it, oh, being happy with your life rather than holding other people’s happinesses against them. Just a thought.)
As Kang leaves, he files away the fact that she doesn’t seem to remember him at all. Except that Yi-kyung’s eyes dart back and forth, telling us that’s not the whole story.
Back in Yi-kyung’s apartment, Ji-hyun waits, her spirit energy waning. Yi-soo comes back to report the results of his consultation with the Powers That Be, having requested to see Yi-kyung with his own appearance. Alas, they’ve issued a firm denial, and forbid him to interfere in Yi-kyung’s life whatsoever. They had nothing to do with his retrieved memory, which is instead a result of Ji-hyun putting him in constant contact with her. (Which seems like flimsy reasoning given the fact that Yi-soo was, yunno, assigned to this case.)
Yi-soo tells her he has to talk to Yi-kyung, so Ji-hyun had better watch how she uses her body in her remaining time. “If you cause harm to our Yi-kyung, you’re dead.” It’s another sentiment he means in both the literal and figurative senses.
In the morning, a hungover Min-ho has an unwelcome guest: In-jung, who comes in acting like the girlfriend she isn’t anymore, having prepared breakfast for him. He asks why, and she answers that she’s the only person who’d do this for him. Which is true, and also sad.
In-jung tells him that he wouldn’t have been able to have Yi-kyung even if Yi-kyung weren’t inhabited by Ji-hyun’s spirit (which she says with a completely straight face), because he can’t get rid of In-jung. Why does that sound like a threat?
In-jung tells him that Kang also knows that Yi-kyung is really Ji-hyun, and hints that they can get rid of the spirit/host situation somehow.
When she gets back home, Seo-woo tells her that she wants to live separately now, which is fantastic. I love that Seo-woo — who was so marginal and blind to the truth for so long — has no hesitation over who’s right and who’s wrong, and that she’s decisive now that she knows the truth. I’m tired of situations where the friend waffles, or makes excuses, and it’s so refreshing that she sizes up the situation and calls In-jung out for being a horrible person. She’s totally made up for her episodes of placidity.
In-jung pleads for her chance to explain, but Seo-woo tells her that in the aftermath of the accident, she’d seen In-jung’s grief and felt guilty, that “In-jung was truly her friend — I must have a fake friend” because in comparison, her sadness didn’t seem to measure up. Yet now she sees it was an act.
In-jung admits that she was jealous, “But Ji-hyun’s someone who has everything even in death.” Oh, puh-leeeeeease. That’s like arguing over pennies. In hell. (Seriously, what’s the point?)
She pulls out her last dastardly card: “You don’t know that Kang likes Ji-hyun, do you?” She adds that Yi-kyung is Ji-hyun’s friend, and it’s because he’s in love with Ji-hyun that he’s taking care of Yi-kyung. “So how do you feel now? Do you still like her unconditionally?”
Ji-hyun thinks of the other 49er she’d met, and how he’d wished he could do more for his loved ones before his time ran out. She writes a list of people to whom she can write thank-you letters, and crosses In-jung off that list.
Ji-hyun realizes that if her tear came from Kang, that means Seo-woo hasn’t shed one yet, and that gives her hope. Aww, given the prior scene, this is what we call monumentally bad timing. (Or, in K-drama lingo, just another Thursday.)
Off she goes to the bakery to cheerily greet Seo-woo. However, the latter is feeling hurt and accuses her of deceiving them about knowing Ji-hyun.
Good news for Ji-hyun’s father, who’ll be good to go home in about a week. He shares with Mom and Kang that he “met” Ji-hyun during his surgery, which by the way is one of those things that totally gets me in the heart. She brought Daddy back to life! Awww.
Next Mom and Kang visit Ji-hyun in her room, in a great mood. Kang asks for her recipe for seaweed soup, and Mom answers that she happens to have some because it’s Ji-hyun’s birthday. What coincidental timing!
Back at his place, he invites Ji-hyun in and does the whole “I made too much, you have to help me clear my table” thing. To skirt her suspicions, he says that today is Children’s Day, and in America everyone eats seaweed soup on Children’s Day. I’m about to bust a gut if she falls for it, but for once Ji-hyun catches on and guesses that he really cooked it for her.
She eats, and recognizes the taste of her mother’s cooking. She tells him that Ji-hyun would be thankful, while inwardly they both have their own mini-conversation, with him wishing her a happy birthday, and her thanking him.
And finally, Kang suggests that they “lower their words,” which is a way that adults progress from a (polite) jondaemal relationship to a (closer) banmal one. He fills her in on her father’s recovery, and she says that she’ll make sure to tell Ji-hyun to thank him once she’s back.
Kang drops by to see Seo-woo, thinking it’d be nice that Ji-hyun’s two remaining friends remember her birthday. Seo-woo’s still smarting from discovering that her longtime crush is in love with her friend, and asks when he got so interested in Ji-hyun.
Min-ho throws his money around to get the better of Ji-hyun by contacting her landlord and offering triple the rent if she rents her room to him, and kicks her out immediately. That’s such a K-drama villain thing to do — endanger the heroine so you can swoop in and coerce her to do your bidding. He uses that to force Ji-hyun into meeting him for dinner, and she goes along because she’s afraid he’ll make things complicated for Yi-kyung.
At dinner, Min-ho waits until Ji-hyun is eating to ask, “But I thought you didn’t like sujebi, Ji-hyun.” Uh-oh. Caught off-guard, Ji-hyun insists that she’s Yi-kyung, but he doesn’t waver from his conviction, guessing that there’s a reason she can’t admit her true identity. Losing his calm, he demands, “Why did you approach me?!”
Ji-hyun runs away, cowering in panic, and immediately starts to call Kang. (Awww!) But she recalls the Scheduler’s warnings and thinks twice, canceling the call, and races to Yi-soo instead.
He’s upset with her, though, and tries to dismiss her quickly because now he can only see Yi-kyung when he sees her. And when she pleads for help with Yi-kyung’s face, he can’t handle it.
But Ji-hyun’s no pushover (anymore), and asks him pointedly who stole her life prematurely with that suicide attempt, wanting to know if they were punished for that. Yi-soo, chastened, says vaguely that he thinks she was punished. That’s not a good enough answer for her (“You think?”) and he replies, “She probably did.” Ji-hyun picks up on his hedging, and guesses that it was Yi-kyung: “You made me enter the body of the one who killed me?”
That’s too much, and Ji-hyun screams in frustration. She has 11 days left, In-jung betrayed her, and Min-ho’s discovered her identity: “The only friend I could talk to was the Scheduler, but he doesn’t want to see me because I carry his girlfriend’s appearance. But she’s the one who caused my death. On top of that, I’ve come to like her.”
He says that she doesn’t understand the pain of seeing the one he was crazy-in-love with and being unable to talk to her, but that doesn’t fly with Ji-hyun, who counters, “Do you think you’re the only one who loves? I love, too! I can’t say anything to Kang, either!” (AWWW.) “My feelings are Shin Ji-hyun’s, but if I reveal that I’m her, I might die.”
She starts to cry, and I love that Yi-soo is just as weak to the sight of a girl’s tears as Kang was, and he’s so uncomfortable and helpless at the sight of them. Ji-hyun casts off his comforting gesture, warning him to stay away from Yi-kyung unless she calls him.
Both Yi-soo and Ji-hyun wonder why it had to be Yi-kyung’s body that served as host. Clearly, they have never seen a drama before, because the obvious answer is: Because we need conflict?
Ji-hyun is resentful and angry, especially since she’d been so worried for Yi-kyung. That night, while sitting beside her at home, Ji-hyun cries, “You’re the one who did this to me!” She strikes out as though wanting to hit Yi-kyung, but as her ghostly arm passes through the air, it actually finds purchase on something solid, and flings the chopsticks out of Yi-kyung’s hand. Whoaaaa.
Yi-kyung looks up, squinting in the direction of the disturbance…and makes out Ji-hyun’s blurry outlines. Eeeeee. Shivers just ran down my spine.
Yi-kyung lurches back and asks, “Why are you doing this?”
But that’s when the landlord knocks on her door to tell her that she’s found a renter, and that she wants her out in a week. Suddenly contrite, Ji-hyun apologizes, but a spooked Yi-kyung runs out and away from her.
Yi-kyung arrives at the cafe that night to find Min-ho waiting for her, who knows this isn’t Ji-hyun and introduces himself formally. He knows of her hotel background and offers her a job at a new pension in Busan, wanting her out of Seoul and out of his hair. He references the “borrowing” of her body and presents this as her solution, and offers her the contact information.
Yi-kyung drops by Dr. Noh’s office in the morning to run it by him, although why she’d trust such an incompetent doctor is beyond me. He likes the idea, because it’s becoming clear that the two souls’ lives are intersecting, and two souls can’t occupy the same body. What if that tag-along soul decides to borrow her body forever?
Yi-kyung comes home and squints in the general area of Ji-hyun, sensing her presence, and again makes out her image. She opens her front door and says, “Leave. Please.” Ji-hyun apologizes, but feels guilty enough that she heads out as requested.
Outside, Ji-hyun staggers as her energy levels continue to drop. Yi-kyung packs up, only taking a small bag with her, and tells her landlady to do with the rest as she will.
Ji-hyun worries to Yi-soo that Yi-kyung is leaving, but he doesn’t have much to say to her other than “You brought it on yourself.” True, but ouch. He likens it to his own actions, and says he can’t help. He won’t risk threatening his one slim chance at meeting Yi-kyung to set her straight about their misunderstanding.
Kang pulls into the neighborhood just as Yi-kyung hops into a cab like Death itself were chasing her — no, just Death’s minion — and wonders at her departure. He realizes that this Yi-kyung was dressed differently, though, and confirms with the landlord that she moved out.
Understanding that no host means no Ji-hyun (in corporeal form), he runs outside shouting Ji-hyun’s name. As Yi-kyung boards the train for Busan, Ji-hyun wanders the neighborhood, losing energy until she collapses on the sidewalk.
Yay for actual progress, actual development, and real payoffs! What a satisfying episode on all fronts — the love confessions, the I’m-an-evil-bitch confessions, the ghost revelations, the tear discovery, the Yi-kyung-killed-me reveal, everything. I don’t know why they didn’t save some good stuff for later, but hey, I’m not complaining. I’m thrilled that there was so much to pay off the setups that have been laid into the groundwork all series long.
The end of this episode is one of those things that is so simple that I wonder why I didn’t consider it before — that Ji-hyun is screwed if her host leaves — but it makes sense within the context. There was no reason for her to leave until people started finding out about Ji-hyun being the body-borrower, and this is a simple conflict with serious complications.
The Yi-kyung and Yi-soo storyline hasn’t really gotten me emotionally before — I appreciated it, and felt that it was too bad for their relationship to have met such an early end — but this episode is where it finally got me in the gut. I love that Yi-soo feels so incredibly devastated at the realization of how much he hurt Yi-kyung, and his desperation to fix it is palpable. I’ve loved Jung Il-woo before, but I really appreciate his level of emotional commitment here. I’d wondered why he’d take such a small supporting character when he was just starting to come into lead roles, but now I get it.
Although, it does beg the question: Why is he the only one emoting in this drama?? I mean, I love the characters and their relationships, and I like most of the cast fine — even In-jung, or rather Seo Ji-hye, who adds depth to this straightforward villainess — but really, a lot of the acting has been on a flat energy level throughout. It’s like they’re all operating at 70%, except Jung Il-woo, who’s giving it all he’s got, and Bae Soo-bin who’s mostly on par with the others but occasionally flares into the 110% range. Like when he’s screaming and throwing paintings on floors. (Hee. So unintentionally funny.) It’s something I really notice while recapping, because I’m picking out screencaps and they all look the same. Thank goodness for Jung Il-woo.
- 49 Days: Episode 15
- 49 Days: Episode 14
- 49 Days: Episode 13
- Jo Hyun-jae sings for 49 Days
- 49 Days: Episode 12
- 49 Days: Episode 11
- 49 Days: Episode 10
- 49 Days: Episode 9
- 49 Days: Episode 8
- 49 Days: Episode 7
- Interview with 49 Days’ Scheduler Jung Il-woo
- 49 Days: Episode 6
- 49 Days: Episode 5
- Jung Il-woo sings for 49 Days
- 49 Days: Episode 4
- 49 Days: Episode 3
- 49 Days: Episode 2
- 49 Days: Episode 1