I’d forgotten how long it takes me to recap a Hong sisters drama, which seems counterintuitive since their shows are so zippy and fun. But they’re also so chock-full of plot and jokes and asides that I always want to include every little detail, which isn’t always possible.
Gong Hyo-jin is really the shining beacon of this drama for me, much as I think Cha Seung-won is hilarious and Yoon Kye-sang adorable. They’re great, make no mistake, but she anchors the show with her genuineness, playing the straight man to all these wacky characters with humor and heart. Not that we didn’t know this of her before, but she just keeps knocking out great performance after great performance, just in case we were in danger of forgetting.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Greem – “Okay” [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Everyone is stunned when Pil-joo chooses Ae-jung over the prettier, better-liked Kim Hee-jin, who’s insulted to be thus humiliated. The writer frets, since they’d worked so hard to convince Hee-jin to do the show, but that’s the nature of reality TV, and why it can be so awesome when it skids off the rails, script or no script.
Jin turns away horrified at his own response to Ae-jung, but he chooses the most inopportune place to struggle with denial, because he’s surrounded by messages in the form of drama titles:
For instance, “I Really Really Like You” describes his feelings, but he growls that it can’t be, not when Ae-jung is “The Bean Chaff of My Life” (an expression meaning he’s blinded by love). Just as he asks incredulously, “What the heck is going on?” he sees the poster for “A Prince’s First Love,” and finds that he’s a “Man in Crisis.” Oh, Hong sisters — I love that they’re drama writers who obviously love dramas.
Jin scowls when Ae-jung finds him, but the anger fades when he’s struck with how “You Are So Beautiful.” Ae-jung is thrilled that she got her rose and asks for a high-five, and he gives her hand an irritated slap instead.
Jin bursts out that this makes no sense, that she’s the pathetic Gu Ae-jung, and how dare she—
He cuts himself off just as it seems like he’s about to say “—steal my heart.” He overreacts to her use of the word “like” and calls her, hilariously, a “lump of unlikability,” which is the opposite of the common term used for people who are charm personified.
Ae-jung thinks he came here out of worry for her, so he denies it and says he was merely afraid she’d pester him if she was cut. He angrily waves her away, accidentally throwing her rose to the ground. Hurt, Ae-jung calls him a meanie.
Jin tries to throw away the fallen petals, but one stubbornly static-clings to his hand, and then to the trash can lid. He commands it to fall but it doesn’t — funny how those inanimate objects refuse to obey the almighty Dokko Jin’s whims — and finally he collects the last petal and folds it up in his handkerchief. What a budding romantic.
Ae-jung and Ae-hwan watch in dismay as the other three contestants sidle up to Pil-joo to flirt, asking for his advice on health concerns that are just an excuse to touch him and get close. (Little do they know that he’s probably the only man alive who’d find the medical concern more engrossing than the beautiful woman faking it for his benefit.)
Oppa urges his sister to join them and show some leg, or maybe make up a condition needing his attention. Ae-hwan gets things started by clearing out the competition — by faking tummy troubles and farting in the women’s faces. OMG. Hong sisters never fail to sneak in as much toilet humor as they can, and for that I’m sometimes disturbed, sometimes grateful. This is one of those grateful moments. What an absurdly sweet way for a brother to look after his little sister.
The other ladies clear out fast (moaning, “What did you eat?”), and Ae-hwan waves Ae-jung over to make her move. Pil-joo even smiles when he sees her sitting across the way, but she loses her nerve and hurries off instead. She doesn’t have the utmost confidence in her fake-hiccuping skills, so she decides to leave it to a chance coin toss: Heads, she gives it a try. Tails, she buys a beverage.
She tosses, and in stepping to catch the coin, she backs right into Pil-joo, who catches it for her. It turns up heads, so she takes that as her sign and hiccups.
Pil-joo guesses right away that she’s faking, and she cops to it. He notes her tendency to overreact, and she says it comes in handy on TV; she can laugh energetically even if he makes a bad joke, or look amazed when he’s being cool. Those reactions are all a part of finagling more screen time, and she’s an old hand at that. Aw, that’s a little sad. It’s amazing that Ae-jung’s managed to last in this industry for so long without losing her soul.
With the 500 won coin, she offers him a vending machine beverage in thanks for the rose, and he counters that he’d like 10 billion won, please — that’s what she said she was worth in the bar. Turning serious, Ae-jung replies that she wasn’t joking about that, and that she can’t be bought. Pil-joo loses his goofy smile and apologizes, having meant it as a joke, and Ae-jung smiles, explaining that this is her example of reacting with a serious face, which can yield great responses when timed right.
It’s so adorable to see Ae-jung keeping Pil-joo on his toes — he likes her, but he’s always unsure around her since he can’t always make sense of her reactions. Oh, you two dorks. How I wish you’d end up together and be dorky together forever. Sigh.
Jin broods alone that night (already with the broody?) and leaves the agency, only to come face to face with Ae-jung and her brother, returning their van. Jin grudgingly gives them a lift home, in a snappish mood throughout the ride, demanding to be dropped off first and generally being a pissypants while the others converse pleasantly.
Ae-hwan suggests calling Pil-joo out to eat with them, and marvels at how he’s such an all-around stand-up guy. Jin scoffs as even his manager sings Pil-joo’s praises, but he starts leaning closer to hear Ae-jung’s response to what her opinion of Pil-joo would be if not for the show. She muses, “In my opinion, Yoon Pil-joo is…Oh! We’ve arrived!” Hee.
After dropping Jin and the van off at his house, manager Jae-seok leaves with Ae-jung and Ae-hwan for a friendly dinner at Jenny’s cafe. Jin is curious about their conversation but too proud to admit to it, so he tiptoes after them, craning his neck to hear. He grumbles that they didn’t invite him along, those punks, nevermind his outward disdain toward all of them.
The rose petal falls out of Jin’s jacket pocket, and he wonders why he bothered to bring it home — then opens the handkerchief to see that the petal has pressed its color into the shape of a heart.
At Jenny’s cafe, the air is convivial as Jenny recalls the middle school fan who’d asked for her autograph on a marriage registration form — it had been Jae-seok, and he still has the paper. They joke that if the registrar accepts the form as valid, they ought to go ahead and sign the papers. Ae-hwan looks miserable as he watches Jenny and Jae-seok harmlessly flirting in that noona-dongsaeng way, feeling threatened.
Jin calls to demand that Jae-seok come home immediately to replenish his bottled water supply — hey, if he can’t be a part of the fun, might as well ruin it, right? Jae-seok is visibly disappointed, as is Jenny, and Ae-jung urges her brother to run the errand instead. He refuses — he’s not about to budge while another man moves in on his crush — so Ae-jung offers to pop out and quickly buy the water.
Using Jae-seok’s key, she enters and stocks the fridge. Seeing the medicinal tonic she’d given away, she remarks that she wouldn’t have given it away if she’d known the doctor was a good man, and pockets one pouch. Just then she spies Jin, but he’s emerging from the shower in a towel, and she hurries to leave quietly. But she drops her cell phone, and has to duck for cover when he makes his way downstairs.
He grabs some water and heads back up — safe, phew! — and Ae-jung goes to retrieve her phone. Just as Jin is strapping on his monitor and ordering his heart not to race at mention of Ae-jung, her phone rings. Hilariously, he watches his monitor tick upwards as he wonders if he’s hearing things.
Jin comes downstairs nervously like he’s expecting a ghost, and turns his alarm system on before going back up. Ae-jung sets off a motion light sensor and ducks for cover, which causes the tonic packet in her pocket to burst. She grabs a piece of cloth to sop up the mess, not realizing that it’s his underwear. Pil-joo’s tonic, meet Jin’s underpants. LMAO.
When she bumps something with a loud crash, she decides to run for it, but the door is locked and the alarm system kicks in. Golf club raised, Jin catches her clutching his soiled underwear and the packet of tonic.
After sending the security guard away, Jin asks suspiciously if Ae-jung snapped any photos of him secretly. Grabbing her phone to check, his eyes widen to see one particular name: “Perfect Man Yoon Pil-joo.” HAHA. There’s no “Asshole Jin” in her log anymore, but he knows she just renamed him and asks for the new nickname. Scrolling through, he finds it — literally “Lump of Bad Luck” (a play on his name for her, lump of unlikability), which can be more loosely translated as “pain in the ass” or “rotten luck.” Keke.
He calls it just to confirm, and sure enough, his cell phone starts ringing. She offers to delete it, and just then notices the missed call was from Pil-joo, which makes her smile and giggle, to his chagrin.
He blames that call for raising his heart rate, and she asks why he monitors his heart — is he ill? He just says that he’s a special person who likes to exercise total control over his body, which makes her scoff that he’s not very good at that. He retorts, “The problem is YOU!” He wants to live in a comfortable range (heart rate between 60 to 90), but whenever she gets involved, he veers out of the safe zone.
She promises to stay out of his hair and heads out just as her phone rings. Jin leans over to eavesdrop as she talks to Pil-joo, who asks for his pen back (it was a special gift). She promises to drop by his clinic and pick up more tonic, and Jin exclaims loudly, “Leave my underwear before you go!” LOL.
She covers by attributing the comment to her brother and nephew, but Jin keeps shouting for her to wash all that tonic out of MY! PANTIES!
So she washes them while Jin wonders confusedly why he didn’t just let her leave. Geez, it’s like his head is made of cement. He already admitted he likes her — surely he can add two and two? Or one and one?
He looks genuinely troubled as he tells Ae-jung that he, Dokko Jin, Very Special Person, can’t have her coming and going as she pleases. He means this in an emotional sense, but she thinks he’s speaking literally and promises not to come back.
When she asks for his alarm code, Jin delivers this grandiose speech about how he wouldn’t trust her with it — but then, beeeeep! It disarms at Ae-jung’s guess. He’d been prattling on about his safety zone so she tried 6090, and it worked. HAHA. How predictable is he?
I love how stunned he looks (“Who…are you?”), in contrast to her very mundane attitude of “Can I just go, already?” He says in wonderment, “Gu Ae-jung has…disarmed me.” HA! Get it? Disarm? Oh, puns. Why are you so cheesy and delightful?
Couple Making is off to a strong start, and articles tout Ae-jung’s reversal as well as Pil-joo’s imminent stardom. Of course, he’s so work-focused that he doesn’t actually notice anything amiss at the clinic until his nurse points it out. She also asks for an autograph for a friend, and asks Pil-joo if he can hook her up with a celebrity singer to sing at her wedding. He’s befuddled at his fame, but he does mull over the suggestion of recommending a singer. Now, where would he meet one of those…?
Grandpa and Hyung-kyu (both wearing sequined Hyun Bin tracksuits, hee) drop by the clinic to catch a glimpse of Ae-jung’s bachelor co-star, and overhear his mother bragging outside. Grandpa introduces himself and says his daughter is also on the show, which Mom misinterprets to mean that he’s Se-ri’s father. Mom assures her friends that Pil-joo must’ve picked Ae-jung — that fiancé-stealing scandalmonger — because the producers told him to. Oh, won’t reality be a nice slap in the face.
Jin is disgruntled to receive a call from the broadcast station, since all calls should be directed at his management, but he perks up when the caller identifies herself as a staffer on Couple Making. As it turns out, hilariously, the call isn’t for Jin the Star, but for Jin the Netizen Voter. He’d voted for Ae-jung on the online poll and has won a prize (autographed photos and such), which has been mailed to him.
The staffer comments that his name is just like that famous star, so immediately he pinches his nose to change his voice tone. Then he realizes that anyone might stumble across his mail, and races for the mailroom. He reaches it just as Ae-jung finds the box from Couple Making, wondering if it’s for her. He snatches it away from her before she can find out what it’s all about.
Jin complains about Ae-jung’s pervasive presence to President Moon, who thinks he still dislikes her and advises him to ignore her. She gives him an interesting script based on a manhwa titled Mr. Tick-Tock’s Lady, saying it’s time to lighten up his dark, serious image. Hee. Is this the conversation Cha Seung-won had before signing on to Best Love?
At the clinic to return Pil-joo’s pen (a parental gift), Ae-jung catches a glimpse of a patient leaving with a friend and her baby — it’s Mina, her old KBSN groupmate, looking happy and healthy (cameo by idol singer Bae Seul-ki).
Ae-jung starts to call out her name with a smile, but stops herself as she dips back into a memory:
It had been the latter days of their girl group fame, and Ae-jung had been trying to stop Mina from doing something. Mina had begged her unni to let her leave this life and be completely forgotten — giving us a possible hint into why Ae-jung may have broken up the group.
Pil-joo hears that Ae-jung is here to see him but can’t find her, so he goes looking for her. He calls her name, alerting Mina’s attention, and Ae-jung grabs him and hides behind him to avoid being seen.
Next his nurses come out for a break, and one starts venting about how thickheaded and dense Pil-joo is. That’s a little off-putting, but Ae-jung tells him to let them be, and he goes with it — but then one nurse complains about how he offered to ask Ae-jung to sing her wedding song, which she hardly considers a favor. She says that their boss is oblivious to pop-culture stuff like how Ae-jung is universally disliked, and having her sing at her wedding would have a negative effect.
Seeing Ae-jung’s hurt reaction, Pil-joo covers her hears with his hands (awwwww), which is just about the sweetest gesture ever. It’s totally ineffective, of course, since they can still hear the ladies talking, but it’s the thought that counts.
Ae-jung apologizes for bringing scorn to him by association with her, and assures him that she’s fine. She says it’s fitting that a wedding song be sung by a bright and likable person, and she wouldn’t want to ruin a wedding, cause the bride to cry, and create even more anti-fans.
Pil-joo takes her wrist and feels her pulse, which is just his excuse to quiet her (“One shouldn’t speak while their pulse is being taken”) while he says, “When you feel hurt, rather than forcing yourself to smile, it’s much better just to be still like this. The Gu Ae-jung I’ve seen is a bright and likable person. I hadn’t considered things like celebrity images. I’m really sorry for causing you to feel upset.”
Ae-jung brings up the ten-year anniversary of their debut with Jenny, sighing that if she’d faded out of the industry, she wouldn’t still be talked about for long-ago fights with group members or an ancient relationship. Se-ri has a (solo) fanmeeting scheduled for that day, so Jenny suggests that the two of them get together, too. Alas, Ae-jung is booked for an appearance outside of Seoul and will be away.
Se-ri and Jin sign a 1 billion won CF contract that plays up their couple image, which requires them to continue fake-dating for the year they are contracted. If one side causes a scandal (with someone else), they’ll assume responsibility for the fallout. I smell future plot point!
Se-ri proposes that Jin make a special appearance at her fanmeeting to seal the deal. President Moon approves, and notes that Ae-jung’s debut anniversary falls on the same day.
Which, apparently, is the very next day. Don’tcha love how fast time travels in dramaland? Jin arrives at Ae-jung’s house and calls her while she’s on her way to her appearance, and she ignores the call, figuring he’s going to pick a fight. (She’s also reprogrammed him as “6090,” hehe. Is he going to have a new nickname every time he calls? That’s GREAT.)
He finds Hyung-kyu outside the house (whom he’s nicknamed “Ding-dong” after the phone quiz they’d done together) and asks after his aunt, and hears that she’s away. He starts asking questions about the financial state of this house — Is it a rental? How much is the deposit? — and Hyung-kyu asks if Jin is going to marry Ae-jung. According to Grandpa, people ask these kind of random questions when they’re thinking of marrying someone. Heh.
Jin heads off in a huff, only to get paper airplanes flown at his head by Hyung-kyu. They’re made from cheesy flyers for a disco nightclub, which bear Ae-jung’s photo.
That nightclub is the rinky-dink location of Ae-jung’s appearance, a stark contrast to Se-ri’s posh hotel fanmeeting. Ae-hwan apologizes for celebrating her ten-year anniversary at a place like this, but Ae-jung tells him that there’s nothing wrong with this, that a true singer doesn’t care about the size of the stage.
While waiting for showtime, Ae-jung receives a package in the mail, and it turns out that similar packages are delivered to Jenny and Se-ri. There’s no note, and the envelope just contains their KBSN CD and a pressed four-leaf clover.
Debut day for KBSN, who had been wracked with nerves backstage before their first performance. It was Mina who’d calmed them down with the four-leaf clover she’d picked outside.
Jin pulls up to the gaudy nightclub, which is splashed with a banner touting their Couple Making star appearance. He sighs at how things have come to this, but figures that if he lets this run its course, he’ll be able to return to his original place. Like doing something to get it out of his system. Yeah, good luck with that.
Backstage, Ae-jung chokes on some kimbap and doesn’t feel so good, and heads to her car for a break before her performance. On her way out, she runs into an employee dressed up as Dokko Jin, and laughs at his interpretation of Jin’s character — he’s too nice and friendly. She gives him a few pointers on how to sound more like the real Jin, then heads out.
Jin steps out of the shadows to come face to face with the employee, and tells him in dissatisfaction, “You’re not like me at all. Change.” Keh.
Ae-jung takes a nostalgic look at the CD and clover, then settles back to rest, eyes closed.
Jin finds her sitting there and looks down on her with a pained, heart-in-his-eyes expression. He places his hand on the window as if to cup her face, and she fidgets a little like she’s settling into his palm. It’s silly and sweet and maybe a little heart-wrenching.
You know, it’s funny because I’m not really feeling the romantic attraction between Jin and Ae-jung (though their bickering is hilarious), but Cha Seung-won is selling it so hard that I can’t help but accept it anyway. As in, I don’t really think it makes that much sense, but he makes me want to follow wherever he takes us, so I’m not questioning it too hard. I actually think Ae-jung has more romantic chemistry with Pil-joo right now, but yes, that’s also because they’re the more conventional pairing. Two nice people are drawn to each other and start getting friendly — it’s only natural that the relationship would develop romantically. Plus, they’re just so darned cute together.
I do look forward to seeing Jin play spoiler, despite thinking it may hurt to see Pil-joo tossed to the side. (And no, Se-ri is not an adequate consolation prize! At least, not yet.)
I like that the mystery of KBSN’s past is being given out in small pieces, though I hope it’s not dragged out for too long. This episode gave us our first big clue, and I suspect that Ae-jung may have taken the heat to give Mina an out, and perhaps Se-ri’s careless comment had been in regards to Mina. Something along those lines fits the pieces we have so far, and is in line with the kind of character Ae-jung is, though she probably had no idea her downfall would stretch out for so long. Perhaps this’ll give her a path to public redemption in the future, if old rumors get laid to rest.