Yay, funny, punny, and cute! The characters are so clearly defined, drawn for comedy, and the actors are up for anything, making every moment pop with wit and charm. How great is it to have a hero who is completely insecure and a ball of neuroses when it comes to public image, and a second lead who is the direct opposite and clueless to outside perception? I love a drama that zips by in an hour, but I REALLY love a drama that makes me want to rewind and watch it again.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Oh, man. It’s bad news bears, as Jin and Ae-jung are made aware of her massively embarrassing slip of the tongue. Horrified, Jin just laughs it off and glosses it over as a gift to the director, and host Lee Hwi-jae congratulates him on getting the movie that he wanted so badly.
To top if off, they ask Ae-jung to give Jin a word of encouragement, so she gives him a public send-off to Hollywood: “Fighting!” Oh, this is gonna be so bad.
Back at the office, Jin stares at his phone like it stung him in the ass, “WHY did I pick up the phone?” It’s possibly because you heard me screaming: PICK UP THE PHONE! PICK IT UP! PICK IT UP, PICKITUP, PICKIDDUPPPP!
After the show, her brother Ae-hwan congratulates her on the awesome job, that is until she tells him that Jin won’t be going to Hollywood after all. Ae-hwan: “Oh, that’s humiliating.” Haha. Yeah, you think?
Ae-jung’s phone rings (with a KBSN song as her ringtone, natch), and it’s Jin. They meet up, and she’s either clueless or she thinks he’s nicer than he is, because she actually looks surprised at his anger. Um, the fact that he asked to meet you in a parking garage should be your first clue that you’re in for a smackdown.
She thanks him for answering the call and tells him to check out the episode since it should be fun. He tells her through clenched teeth that he won’t be catching the episode, since it won’t be airing. Ae-jung: “Why?” Jin: “Because you’re going to tell them to edit you out.”
He tells her that he was getting ready to announce that he was dropping the film, but if that episode of SeBaKwi airs, the stories won’t match up. She pleads with him to let it go just this once, clenching his fist in desperation.
What’s hilarious is that he’s gone through the trouble of making this elaborate hand gesture to end up in a fist to make a point, but she turns it around on him to plead earnestly. He tries to shake her off, but she apologizes profusely, telling him to just hit her instead, mockingly hitting her head against his fist.
He hilariously freaks out, not only because she’ s going overboard but because he’s a big star, but he tells her to go ahead and use this opportunity to just clear out of the entertainment biz for good, instead of hanging on. He adds that she ought to edit him out of her life as well, while she’s at it.
He turns to walk away, thinking that he’s made his point, but then turns to ask why she’s not running along to do what he said.
Ae-jung: “YA!” Eeee! Banmal so soon? Love it. Love it.
Jin: “Are you crazy?” Ae-jung lays into him, freely taking him to task for treating her dire situation for survival like it’s nothing. She says his assy ways are why he was dropped from the film… “Oh, no wait… it’s because your English sucks.” HAHAHA.
That hits him where it hurts. She mocks his random English word usage, with a phrase of her own: “You, King ssa-ga-ji [asshole, bastard] very much dirty jjang [best]!!”
LOL. It’s totally nonsensical (“dirty” makes more sense in Korean as a bad thing to call someone because it’s a way to describe someone’s lack of manners) and all the more hilarious for it.
That pushes him past the point of reason and he comes toward her, ready to swing his arm, only that’s exactly when a group of people walks up, recognizing him. Omg, I love it. He’s totally handicapped by his desperate need to appear perfect in front of strangers.
They just stand there like that, awkwardly in the middle of a knock-down-drag-out fight, and yet smiling for the people looking on. She mumbles at him through her smile that if he dislikes being involved with someone as low as her, then to never call her again.
She walks away with a big grin, and he’s trapped there, just mumbling under his breath, “Where… where are you going?” in this sing-songy you-are-so-dead tone that is just cracking me up.
He lets his anger get the better of him, and follows her out in his car like a madman. It’s a low-speed car chase out of the garage, and almost out into the street, but Ae-jung panics and breaks, and Jin rear-ends her.
It’s just a fender-bender and she gets out to see if he’s okay, and he stares at her with death rays, “Gu Ae-jung. This is the end of you…” and then he FAINTS. Ha.
News breaks of Hallyu star Dokko Jin in a car accident, and of course his very shrewd agency uses this opportunity to regretfully back out of the Hollywood film, playing up his injuries as far more severe than they are.
At the same time, word gets out that Ae-jung was the other party in the car accident, and as the media likes to do, they take sides and blame her for his retreat from Hollywood, by virtue of the fact that she’s fine, while he’s injured. And of course because he’s universally beloved.
She ends up back in the headlines, but in a negative light, and at home her nephew reads the news and asks Grandpa what “Ankle Girl” means. Oh, Korea and your crazy nicknames. He explains that it’s because she’s stopping Dokko Jin from going to Hollywood (because ankle-grabbing is a cultural metaphor for someone stopping a loved one from leaving, as in, girl pleading with boy not to leave her, by holding onto his ankles).
She’s number one in the news portals as Ankle Girl, and Jenny tries to lift her spirits—hey, press is still press, but Ae-jung can’t get over being blamed for something she didn’t do. They decide to sneak into the hospital so that she can talk to Jin, but getting past all the reporters is no easy feat.
In his hospital room, Jin practices his English by mimicking… STEPHEN COLBERT! Pwahahahaha.
Omg, the meta on this show just about kills me. Seriously, Ninja Assault and Stephen Colbert?! Love the Hong Sisters.
There’s a big gold-medal-swim-meet about to air, and Ae-jung uses it as her opportunity to sneak into Jin’s room, in a sequence that intercuts the dramatic swim meet with her unnecessarily acrobatic Mission Totally Possible.
She cartwheels her way in, just in time to see Jin jumping up and down in front of the tv on his supposedly bum leg, all disappointed that the swimmer won the gold medal (because they’re up for the same CF, ha).
Uh-oh. Caught red-handed. Er, red-footed. She totally calls him out on being a fakey fakerson, and starts shouting out the truth for the reporters to hear. He grabs her in a hug-meets-wrestling-hold to stop cover her mouth, which is what his manager Jae-seok walks in on.
By the way, I can’t wait till they give his manager more stuff to do, because he was HILARIOUS in Queen of Reversals as Park Shi-hoo’s other-half man-boy-secretary.
Jin sends him to get his agent, and Ae-jung comes home with a new contract in hand, a hush-deal with a promise to get her cast in a new project. She wonders if she can trust them, but Ae-hwan thinks that they have nothing to lose (which is pretty much true).
The PDs of Couple Making Season 3 (I love that this show has a horrible title too, which I don’t think is coincidence.) have already stated an interest in casting Ae-jung, but their main hitch was Kang Se-ri’s disapproval.
Jin’s agent meets with Se-ri to nudge her into grudging acceptance, and then sets up a meeting/audition for Ae-jung with the PD.
Only at the same restaurant, Yoon Pil-joo is there with a friend who’s about to set him up to interview a friend of his, since Pil-joo is looking for another doctor to take over his clinic. The friend steps outside to take a phone call…
Which is right when Ae-jung gets ushered in, and told by the agent to go on in first to the meeting…
Don’t you love when you can see the funny coming?
She steps into Pil-joo’s room, he thinking she’s the doctor on an interview, her thinking he’s the PD giving her an audition. He starts out by saying that he’s heard of her skills, and she’s surprised, asking, “You know what level I’m at, right?” Haha. She means it in the modest sense, like, you do know that I’m a D-list star, right, but he’s hearing it like, you do know how awesome I am, right.
He awkwardly tells her to just declare the amount of money she wants, since he’s heard that she’s here because she needs the money. Pffft. She’s like, mo…ney…? Err?
She starts putting together the pieces in the exact wrong way—the private room, the liquor, the agent sending her in first and telling her vaguely to “take the opportunity,” and Pil-joo’s money question… She wonders to herself if this is one of those situations she’s only ever heard about… in her mind landing at the sponsor-actress shady deal situation.
She asks if he’s offering her money, and he says yes. Ae-jung: “So you’re trying to buy me? For how much?” Pil-joo just agrees tentatively, starting to get confused…
“Exactly how much am I worth? How about a billion won then?” [Million dollars, give or take.] His eyes grow wide, wondering what kind of doctor asks for that kind of salary. She starts crying, gone past the point of anger into feeling sorry for herself. Out of spite, she raises the offer to ten billion won, in a fit of emotion over her dire situation and the absurdity of facing this humiliation.
“What are you surprised because it’s too much? If I want ten billion won, will you still buy me?” She switches down to banmal, and Pil-joo’s jaw drops. She starts yelling at him, “What is it too much? You said you’d give me whatever I wanted!” She cries her heart out, legitimately crying out of sorrow for having hit rock bottom this way.
He just doesn’t know what to do and awkwardly tries to comfort her. He pours her a glass of water to calm her down, which she takes… and promptly throws back in his face. HAHAHAHA.
She gets up defiantly, “You can’t buy me, even with ten billion won. I’m a Kukbo Sonyeo! Don’t live that way. You can’t buy a national treasure that way!” Pffft. OMG. So punny. [Kukbo = national treasure, and her idol group name.]
Gawd, I LOVE Yoon Kye-sang in this. He is hysterical, and all he’s doing is being the straight-man. But it’s his reactions and his innocent character, set in contrast to these very image-conscious people, and his unwitting foot-in-mouth comments… they’re killing me.
Ae-jung has a good sorrowful cry in the bathroom, and then decides that she can’t let it rest at that. She goes and fills a bucket with water, and carries it back to the room to finish him off in style, only by then her agent comes to take her… to the other room. Whoops.
She peers inside Pil-joo’s room, where she sees him interviewing the doctor, and realizes her grave mistake. They meet eyes through the porthole, but when he steps out to find her, all he finds is the bucket. Heh.
Ae-jung steps into the correct room, to meet Couple Making‘s PD, writer, and MC, Kang Se-ri. They greet each other awkwardly.
Jin and his manager discuss the two girls in question, and Jin notes that they’ll both be famous because of him. His manager points out that they were actually famous BEFORE him, since they were both in KBSN together. Jin: “Those friggin’ Kukbo Sisters. They’re both totally annoying.” HAHAHA. Best. Delivery. Ever. I need a recording of that, please.
Ae-jung takes a moment in the bathroom, and Se-ri comes to dig the knife a little deeper. She asks if it hurts her pride to be on a show where she’s the MC, and Ae-jung responds honestly that it doesn’t NOT hurt her pride, but she’s not in a position to turn it down.
Se-ri tells her that when they were in KBSN, she went on a lot of shows riding on Ae-jung’s coattails, so to just think of this as payback. She returns Ae-jung’s own words to her from back then: “Don’t let your pride get hurt, and do well,” only her take is delivered with a great big helping of self-satisfaction.
Flashback: Back to KBSN days, when Se-ri had made some mistake. Ae-jung took it more seriously than she did, and slapped her across the face. She instantly felt bad about it, but too late—their manager walks in and Se-ri cries, pitting herself the victim in what was probably already a tense group dynamic. Ae-jung gets rushed by reporters, who begin their smear campaign.
Back in the present, Jin reads up on Ae-jung and KBSN, and muses to himself that based on the stories, Ae-jung is “a total gangster.” Heheh. His sympathy immediately goes out to her, reading all the hateful comments to her online, and he gets all worked up in her defense, without even realizing it. Aw.
I love how susceptible he is to public opinion, and how it’s also the thing that makes him sympathize with her. He gets worked up over one comment, and looks to see what the handle is. The commenter’s name? DokkoFanGirl. Heh. He sighs, realizing it’s his fans up in arms about her causing his exit from Hollywood.
He calls her to his hospital room the next day, and shoots her a piece of paper. He’s decided to graciously confirm the following: that she came to visit him, apologized, and that he has forgiven her for the accident. He tells her that he can’t stand by and watch her get slandered by his fans… because then his image gets tarnished alongside hers. Heh. Yeah, and nothing to do with your ACTUAL concern for her. Nope. Nuthin’ like that.
She thanks him sweetly for the gesture, because despite his insistence that he hasn’t personally forgiven her, he’s willing to publicly forgive her, which will revive her image. She asks for a picture to go along with it, for verification’s sake, and though he whines about it, he can’t turn off that actor’s instinct to smile for the camera.
He approves of the shot and when she smiles and bows before she goes, he can’t help but crack a sweet smile. Once she’s gone, he picks up fruit and starts reliving their SeBaKwi quiz, “Tangerine. Grape!” OMG, I didn’t know Cha Seung-won could be so cute!
While she sits downstairs uploading the picture and writing the comment to go with it, he receives a call from his agent that Peter Jason has put the offer back on the table. She tells him that since the severity of his injury hasn’t been released yet, they can underplay it and go straight to Hollywood.
But as soon as he hangs up, he realizes that he just gave Gu Ae-jung the exact wrong thing to post online. He rushes down, hampered by having to use crutches to keep up appearances, and finds her…
…seconds too late. It’s up, and people are already commenting. He crumples in exasperation, and she just smiles wide, not knowing that she’s run major interference in his career for the second time since they’ve met.
The Peter Jason movie is now in the wind as far as he’s concerned, because they can’t backtrack now and say that they faked his injury. That ship has sailed. And the final nail in the coffin: the wine he had sent to Peter Jason gets returned. Meanwhile, Ae-jung’s career is taking an upturn, as she gets booked for more shows and prepares for her stint on Couple Making.
Se-ri meets with the PDs and muses that Ae-jung will be eliminated in the first round. They turn their focus to the bachelor, who will be going on mat-seons (marriage-minded blind dates) with the actresses. Se-ri and the PD agree that the best candidate is the PD’s friend from school, Yoon Pil-joo.
Se-ri says that she’ll try to convince him herself, and the PD warns her that she might suffer a bruised ego if she meets with him. She finds out what he means for herself when she goes to meet him at his clinic, only to have him not recognize her, at all.
She suggests lunch, and when he takes her to a restaurant and a table in the middle of the floor, she doesn’t order any food, totally princessing out that someone like her can’t eat at an open table.
He finds out what she means when people start lining up to get autographs and take pictures, and he calls her on her cell phone to give her an excuse to turn away from the crowd. She’s impressed at his quick thinking, and he apologizes, never having encountered this kind of situation before. Well, you’re pretty smooth, despite your bumbling sweetness, made even cuter by those glasses which just make me happy.
They relocate to a quieter place to have coffee, and he tells her that he has no interest in doing the show. He gets sidetracked by his occupational hazard of noticing physical signs of wellness, though, and takes her hand and tells her to stick out her tongue
without so much as a thought, and tells her to stop drinking so much. Heh.
On his way home, Pil-joo takes a peek at the roster of actresses that Se-ri left with him, and under Kim So-eun is Gu Ae-jung, who he recognizes right away: “It’s Kukbo Sonyeo.” His cabbie happens to be watching her episode of SeBaKwi just then, and thinks he’s recognizing her on the screen. Pil-joo realizes that it really was her from the other day, but still can’t figure out why she reacted that way…
Meanwhile, Ae-jung’s nephew watches her appearance on tv with amazement, and decides he wants to play too. So he sneaks her phone and calls Jin, and without any introduction or prompting, he starts firing quiz questions at him, to get him to name cartoon characters.
Unable to squash his desire to answer correctly, Jin starts getting into it, shouting, “Pikachu! Pororo!” Hahahaha. This is so random and so ridiculous, but I’m cracking up. Ae-jung wonders what he’s doing and looks down at the phone in horror. She can hear Jin on the other end, demanding to know if Ae-jung put him up to this to mock him.
She shows up at his hospital suite, head hanging, to apologize, though she rightly points out that the kid kept going because he kept getting them right. She asks him why he answered her call that day on SeBaKwi, and he admits that he empathized with her for a split second.
She’s genuinely touched and grateful, and lets him know, and you can tell that he’s someone who’s not used to simple and genuine sincerity. He can’t resist the urge to remind her that their situations are totally different and that she should consider it an honor. Pffft.
He’s packing his bag to go home, but she points out that he can’t really carry all his stuff with his crutches, let alone drive himself with a cast on his leg. So she ends up driving him. Jin the backseat driver: “Go slow, be careful, and go fast.” What?
She drops him off and thanks him for all the good luck he’s brought to her. Ae-jung: “You’re my gwi-een,” [nobleman, like a connection to higher society, someone who’s above your station] and he responds, “You’re my gwi-shin!” [a pun on her word, this one meaning “ghost”].
He tells her to stop haunting him, and sticks his crutch out at her and demands that if she wants to do him a favor, she can delete his number and cut all ties. She agrees to do so, and turns to go, but he stops in his tracks when he hears her ringtone.
He says to himself, “It’s that song…” recalling the same KBSN song that was playing during his heart surgery. He can’t help but keep getting tripped up by her for some reason, but lets it go for now.
His movie Fighter ends up doing well because of all the good press from the accident, and does surprisingly well in the box office. He goes back to being in good relations with the director (a cameo by director Jang Hang-joon, the PD-writer of Sign who directed Cha Seung-won’s film Break Out co-starring Kim Seung-woo.)
In good spirits, Jin agrees to do a bunch of interviews and on his drive into the studio, he gives himself a quiz: “The best-looking actor in Korea! Jang Dong-gun? No. He has the best style! Cha Seung-won? No. He broke the box office with the movie Fighter! OH… Dokko Jin!”
OMG, it’s Cha Seung-won, meta-referencing Cha Seung-won. Pfffft.
At the studio, Ae-jung finishes a program and walks right past Pil-joo, who’s arrived to meet with the Couple Making PDs. He notices her just as she gets on the elevator.
While standing in the hallway, the idol group with no manners walks past her without a word yet again, and so she walks over to tell them, as a sunbae, to greet people properly if they want to do well. (This is such a Korean thing. My mother still says this to me daily, as if I’m five. “Bow properly!”)
She doesn’t say it with any hint of malice, and even says she’s saying this out of affection (her name, ae-jung), but the girls are snooty and take it the wrong way, complaining to their manager (who used to be her manager) that she’s harassing them.
Jin arrives in the parking garage and waits for his manager to arrive, and sees Ae-jung walk out. She waves, and he points at her, gesturing a big X to remind her that she’s not supposed to act like she knows him anymore.
She complies, and then, he CALLS HER… to tell her to erase his phone number. Hahaha. Oh, boys.
Just then, a big van pulls up next to her, and her old manager gets out and slaps her across the face, out of nowhere. He totally cuts her down to size, humiliating her for overstepping her bounds and trying to teach other girls when she’s nothing. The sting from the slap and the humiliation are literally palpable.
Being the genuinely good person that she is, Ae-jung doesn’t retaliate, but instead tells the girls in the van that they ought to live better and do well, if they don’t want to end up like her.
Jin witnesses all of this, and the slap gets him out of his car. He watches from a distance as she cries alone, waffling back and forth on whether or not to go over to her.
Just as he turns to get back in the car, her phone rings, and that song triggers his heart… LITERALLY. Heh. Hong Sisters and their very literal metaphors.
His heart starts beating and he turns back, and she looks up and sees him across the way.
How Friggin’ Adorable. Cha Seung-won still has moments of weirdness (like he’s in a different, more serious drama) but then at times he’s so hilarious, it’s brilliant. Yoon Kye-sang pretty much takes the cake as the best character, bar none, because the comedy is inherent in the setup. Still, he plays it perfectly, and I’m pretty much doing spit-takes every time he’s onscreen.
I have a particular fondness for Gong Hyo-jin, as I’m sure you all know, so she can do no wrong for me, but I think she’s already showing her great capacity for comedy and drama in the first two episodes, and I can’t wait to watch her character wade through the crazy that will be Dokko Jin’s growing obsession with her.
Yoo Inna’s doing a good job as well, and though she’s the green one, she’s going to be really fun to watch, as she gets knocked down a peg, or twelve.
I have a feeling that Couple Making Season 3 is going to be the best thing ever. Bring on the reality show parodies and the behind-the-scenes hijinks!
- Best Love: Episode 1
- Park Shi-yeon’s Best Love cameo
- First teaser and poster revealed for Best Love
- Why do so many dramas change their titles?
- Best Love: Hong sisters’ meta lens on K-variety
- Best Love’s couple together for poster shoot
- Park Shi-yeon drops film, Park Ye-jin steps in
- Park Shi-yeon’s New York shoot for Cosmo
- Elle’s interview with Coffee House team