Is it possible to love two men at the same time? I really think my heart might explode from trying to decide. I might perish in the metaphor soup that is this drama first, but whadduya gonna do? I love metaphor soup. It’s hearty and delicious, and good for the writer’s soul.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
The reporters swarm as Dokko Jin appears with the
glass slipper purple sneakers that are the subject of Ae-jung’s latest scandal. He gets down on one knee and puts them on her feet, rising to tell the reporters that he was the one who bought them, for the purposes of donating to a show where someone special to him (referring to Se-ri) is the MC.
The reporters ask why he didn’t bid on Se-ri’s bag instead then, and he says that he had intended to quietly also donate running shoes as part of the deal. Feigning modesty all the while quoting his own nicknames like “Wingless Angel Dokko Jin” (pfffffft), he sighs that he REALLY didn’t want all this attention drawn to his charitable giving, but OH WELL.
Then with a snap of his fingers, three truckloads of the same brand of running shoes appear behind the reporters. Gah. I half want to kick him and hug him at the same time. He actually apologizes for making such a fuss over his donation when he wanted to do so quietly. Keh. It’s so clear why he’s the golden boy (and such a comment on how the star machine turns) – he packages everything for the cameras pitch-perfectly.
And then? We see his smug self-satisfaction, as he imagines his wings spreading beneath his halo. HAHAHAHA. Oh, Dokko Jin. Your ego knows no bounds.
Safely inside and away from the reporters, Jin checks the reaction online and generally finds it favorable, even considering parlaying it into a CF. Ae-jung says she was shocked when he came, thinking that he was going to announce…
Jin: “That I bought the shoes because I like you? My heart may be slightly broken because of you, but to create a scandal like that? My brain isn’t broken.” LOL. I love how delightfully honest that is.
She worries that getting entangled with her means that he’ll drop down to her level, and finds it burdensome. He counters, “I’ve decided to acknowledge my one-sided love.” Whoa. He tells her not to worry about getting entangled with him because he’ll just keep it out of reality (and therefore scandal-free).
She tells him not to do things like this (buying her sneakers) anymore, and he answers simply, “I’ll take care of my own business. That’s the upside to unrequited love. I get to do what I want.” Heh. That’s true. Can’t argue with that.
He walks out and Se-ri is there waiting for him to ask if Ae-jung’s got something on him, to make him act this way. (Note: in Korean, when you have an opponent at a disadvantage, you say you’ve “grabbed a weakness.”) I love that she’s so vain that this is the only logic that fits, in her brain. He says yes she’s grabbed one all right, secretly meaning it in the she’s-got-my-heart-on-a-leash kind of way. Aw.
But to his surprise, Se-ri is smug and carefree because today is the day that Ae-jung gets voted off the island. The PDs ask Pil-joo to oust her, citing that there’s no dramatic tension for the other contestants if he just keeps choosing Ae-jung all the way through.
That’s the reason they give him, but methinks once the scandal broke, no matter how it got rescued, it was enough to stain her image. But they leave the final choice up to him in the end.
When he comes out of the meeting, Jin is waiting for him. Are they gonna duel? They look like they’re gonna reach for their pistols any minute now. Sometimes Cha Seung-won is in a different drama, I swear. I know it’s not intentional but sometimes I think he’s going to pull out a semiautomatic and start lighting up the place.
They sit down for a friendly chat between mortal enemies, and Pil-joo notes that he might think what he did today was heroic, but he’s just caused Ae-jung more grief. Jin in turn thanks “Just Anyone” for raising the auction price so high so that he could give so much for a good cause.
Pil-joo counters that if he had it his way, he’d take Ae-jung away from this world forever. (Omg, I’m kind of swooning right now. The implication in his world is marriage, in case the intent isn’t clear.)
Jin tells him that if he really wants to do something for Ae-jung, who risked everything on this show, to stay in this world, he just needs to give her one flower to keep her on for another week.
On the set, Pil-joo apologizes to Ae-jung for not being able to do anything for her earlier today, and tells her that he doesn’t know how to protect her in the ways of this (the celebrity) world. “I’ll just have to protect you my own way.” Aw. Love the dorky doctor. So. Much.
Ae-jung tells him that even if he has to cast her off the show today, not to take it to heart or let it weigh on him.
Time for the rose ceremony. Pil-joo approaches the ladies with three roses in hand, and with a determined look, goes to Ae-jung first and gives her a rose. The PDs and Se-ri sigh that he doesn’t listen, while Jin looks on, pleased, and turns to go.
Except then Pil-joo just continues to stand there in front of Ae-jung… as he hands her a second rose. Eeeeee! Stompity feet. The crowd of reporters and staff all gasp, making Jin turn around.
He stares agape, as Pil-joo then hands her a THIRD rose, like a stubborn smitten puppy. Kills me. Everyone’s eyes turn to saucers and the whole crowd freezes, and finally the PDs motion for Se-ri to cut for a break.
The reporters swarm the couple, still frozen there. Se-ri steps down from the stage, but stops when she notices Jin, eyeing them tensely. He looks on angrily, muttering to himself that he told the doc to give her ONE flower, grumble grumble, eventually raising his heart rate to danger blinky zone.
Se-ri sees this, and the lightbulb FINALLY goes off in her brain. “The weakness that Ae-jung grabbed… was his heart?”
In the green room, Ae-jung sits down with Pil-joo and asks why he did that, because now it can’t be undone, what with the reporters and such. He just reminds her that he said he’d do things his way.
He tells her that she lives in this world where front and back don’t match up, and all he can do is watch. “So I wanted to take you away from that world.” He knew that the only way to do that would be to take one step closer to her, to take her away from the person who keeps pulling her back in.
She’s shocked to realize that Pil-joo knows about Jin. He looks over at the three roses, and says, “This is… my honest, my way… to tell you my heart. Now, instead of treating you, I’ve come to want to protect you first. Gu Ae-jung-sshi, I like you.”
Marry him, NOW!
Dokko Jin, meanwhile, complains to Jae-seok that the doctor went overboard, putting Ae-jung’s status on the show back in jeopardy. Jae-seok thinks that the show is now peanuts, if you consider that she could become a doctor’s wife.
Jin reasons that Ae-jung put her life on the line to do this show, because she has to do stay afloat in showbiz to eat and live… and if eating and living get taken care of… waitaminute… Heh. It finally dawns on him that Pil-joo DOES have a means to steal her away from him, and it’s quite a doozy – if he takes showbiz as her means of survival out of the equation, then Jin is, well, S.O.L. is what.
The Couple Making PDs have an emergency meeting to do damage control, and decide to roll with it and turn the next episode into a “Will She Accept?” concept. Down in the parking garage, Ae-hwan asks Ae-jung if she didn’t secretly like receiving “them” in real life.
He means the roses, but when she looks down at them, her eyes wander down to her feet. She thinks of the moment when Jin knelt down to put the sneakers on her, and answers, “Yes.” Aw. Sneakers for the win.
While Ae-hwan gets the car, she paces back and forth, debating the two men in her mind. Two steps one way, then back again. It turns out Jin is sitting in his car watching her, and in his eyes it looks like she’s all giddy from receiving the roses.
He decides to show her how totally over it he is, by driving right past her, leaving her in the dust. He pulls out swiftly, true to his plan, but then when he pulls up next to her, the car slows to a ridiculous crawl, while he makes crazy determined faces, as if he’s speeding past her. HAHA.
She looks at him curiously, wondering what he’s doing, as he continues to inch forward as slow as humanly possible. God, I love how childish he is. It seriously makes me giggle like a fool.
She knocks and asks what he’s doing, so he pulls down his window, replying that he’s in the midst of zooming by her (HA). But now that she’s here, she might as well get in the car since he has something to say. She wonders what it’s about, but he doesn’t tell her, pointing out, “Doesn’t that make you curious? Get in.” Pffft.
He wants to tell her a flower story, and she asks worriedly if this is another Camellia tale. This time, he says it’s Azaleas, which she recognizes immediately as a reference to the famous poem by Kim Sowol:
When seeing me sickens you
When you go
I will send you without a fuss, without a word
Yongbyun’s Yaksan Mountain’s
I will scatter by the armful in your path
Your parting steps, steps
On those flowers
Tread lightly as you go
When seeing me sickens you
When you go
I’ll die before I shed a tear
It’s probably one of the most famous Korean poems, retold as folk songs and such. The phrase “scatter flowers” comes from this, and is used colloquially to represent the duality of sending someone you love away – letting them go coolly by appearance, despite your ever-breaking heart. You could basically call it the Manifesto of Noble Idiocy. (If this is one of the most famous poems to survive for over a century, you can see why noble idiots are still THE k-drama heroes to this day, yeah?)
Ae-jung: “You needn’t scatter flowers.” Jin: “No, I WILL scatter flowers. We’ll see if YOU can tread on them or not.” Ha. Leave it to Dokko Jin to turn a dignified romanticized gesture into a challenge.
It turns out he’s taken her to an elementary school, and he starts to open up about his past. He tells her that he never got to go to grade school like other children because he was always sick. Does that explain why you’re still a child? ‘Cause seriously, it explains a lot. Can we send you to the fourth grade now?
She doesn’t remember hearing about this before, and he admits that hardly anyone knows that he was a sickly kid. She asks what was wrong, and he tells her that it was his heart, hence the constant effort to live within 60-90.
She wonders if it’s true, and then he starts unbuttoning his shirt… rawr…
And then he splits it open with a big “Rawr!” himself, like a crazy lion. “My heart is ripped. Heaaaart. Breaaaaak. [in English]” Pfft.
She jumps back but then sees the scar, and reaches her hand out to touch it. His heart starts beating faster and he takes her hand and puts it on his chest, but that scares her off.
She asks why he’s telling her all this. Jin: “To have it weigh on you. I said I was going to scatter flowers. My heart is the azaleas I’ve scattered in your path. My heart hurts sooooo much that it might break with one step… can you trample my azaleas?” Hahaha.
She asks if he’s really that sick, and he turns on the dramatics, telling her that he’s sooo siiiiick, and pleads with her not to step on his heart on her path to go to “that guy.” Awwww.
It really does start to weigh on her, which he notices right away with a devilish grin – my plan, it’s working! Heh. But then some kids interrupt the moment with a stray soccer ball and ask him to return it. He can’t resist the urge to show off, with an overhead kick into the goal…
…which totally outs the fact that he is in no way sickly. Ha. Brought back to reality, Ae-jung crosses her arms and starts to remember that he bragged about doing all those stunts in Fighter… “To be playing innocent azaleas… isn’t your body too beastly for that?” LOL.
Jin: “This is just ornamental.” Hahahaha. So true of actors, and thus hilarious to admit.
She tells him not to try and hold onto her with an old surgery, but he lays it on thick, insisting that every time she thinks of going to that doctor, she’ll have to think of his sick, frail heart and thus feel so bad that she can’t go. Siiiiigh.
The Couple Making PD asks Pil-joo to do one more show, to hear Ae-jung’s answer to his proposal. He says that thanks to him, he’s had the biggest ratings of his career. Pil-joo wonders if Ae-jung will agree to do it, and flashes back to her side of their conversation earlier:
She says that she would’ve understood if he hadn’t given her a flower, but now that he’s given her three, she doesn’t know what to do. He tells her that he doesn’t know either, since this is the first time he’s ever done this. Aw.
He then asks in a panic, “Does that mean I might get shot down, right now?” Haha. That’s so adorable. She smiles at him and asks for some time. They decide on three days, all or nothing.
Se-ri comes to tell Pil-joo that Ae-jung was the person who got between her and Dokko Jin, and is surprised to find that he already knows. “You knew, and you still gave her all three flowers?!” Pil-joo just tells her not to make things even harder on Ae-jung, and leaves. Oh, snap.
Later that night, Ae-jung looks up the poem Azaleas and reads it aloud, as Jin tends to his broken heart at home, and Pil-joo ponders the two identical pens that have returned to him.
After she reads it, Ae-jung muses, “Azaleas isn’t a poem about sending someone off well. It means you’d rather die than send them away comfortably.” Heh. Word.
The next day, Couple Making airs (oy, the live shoot system), and the entertainment world is ablaze with the shocking turn. It turns out to be a hit, and the show decides to continue with the couple, giving them their own segment. Yay, finally the We Got Married stuff begins!
The agency president tells Ae-jung that this is her chance to break out of her bad image, and that if she dates successfully on the show, it’ll revive her career. She encourages her to date him for real too, while she’s at it.
Dad wonders how to clear up his little er, misunderstanding with Pil-joo’s mother, his guilt now piling up over the medicine and the beef. He goes to the clinic to try and find a good way to break the news, except when they meet, she’s so upset about the show that she rails about Ae-jung not being up to snuff.
That raises Dad’s temper, and before he knows it, they’re having a shouting match over their two kids, neither being good enough for the other. Well, at least you outed your lie?
Jae-seok finds Jin re-watching the last Couple Making episode ad nauseum, and gives him the good news – that Ae-jung and Pil-joo will be doing their own docu-dating show, following them on dates. Jin: “Dates?”
Horrified, Jin starts to imagine all the dates they’ll be on for the show, all cutesy and romantic, leading all the way to their “first night.” He screams, bursting his own nightmare bubble, and arches the hell out of his eyebrow in a show of annoyance at Jae-seok for being the bearer of such evil thoughts.
Pil-joo, meanwhile, is a nervous wreck at work, sweating bullets while waiting for Ae-jung to give her answer to his proposal.
Ae-jung wonders if she ought to talk out her decision (whether or not to do the show) with Pil-joo, and Jin eavesdrops nervously. He lights up like a little boy when he finds her still at the agency later, autographing pictures for the sneakers they’re donating. Omg, it’s so cute how excited he is that he gets to hang out with her. Kyah!
He lauds her professionalism at the shoot, saying that she kept her cool really well when she received the roses. She smiles, “Really? I was shaking so much.” That knocks the wind out of his sails in two seconds flat.
He grumbles that it must be nice that lying about that pen had its rewards after all, and she doesn’t bother to clear it up, agreeing. He starts to sign his photos rapidly in anger, and she notes that they’ll be out of here in no time.
Uh… his eyes dart back and forth hilariously, as he realizes the error of his ways, and then he starts to sign ever so slowly. Hahaha. I love how transparent he is. She sees it too, and can’t help but smile at the adorableness.
Jenny delights in Ae-jung’s recent turn upwards, and Ae-hwan and Jae-seok take the opportunity to ask what she’d do if, yunno, hypothetically, two men were to fight over her. She sighs gleefully, “I’d have them both!”
Jin notices that Ae-jung signs her autograph with a four-leaf clover at the end, and asks what it is. She tells him about Mina finding the lucky clover the day they debuted, and she admits to believing in its luck.
He asks why when all four of them started off so well, Ae-jung ended up at the bottom. She says it happened just like the press reported – she hit Se-ri, and to this day she feels bad about it and therefore uncomfortable around Se-ri.
At the same time, Se-ri goes to visit Jenny, who greets her coldly. Jenny tells her like it is, from her point of view: that Jin likes Ae-jung, but things will work out well with Pil-joo. She asks Se-ri to never officially break it off with Jin, so that they stay out of Ae-jung’s way.
Se-ri counters that if they break up, she’s going to pin it on Ae-jung. Jenny marvels at her nerve, asking if she doesn’t remember how much Ae-jung took care of her. Se-ri: “I only remember her hitting me.” Jenny: “Why did she hit you? What about what you did to Mina?”
She adds that Mina collapsed because of her, and that’s why Ae-jung got so angry. Se-ri just defensively tells her not to dredge up old stories without any proof or witnesses. Notice that innocent people never say that?
Pil-joo sees a patient that night by the name of Han Hye-jin, who he suddenly remembers from that day that Ae-jung hid behind him, not to be seen by her. She confirms it and tells him that her name used to be Mina, and that she wanted to tell him something, because she thinks he’ll be an important person to Ae-jung.
Jenny shows Se-ri the package that they all received from Mina recently, and tells her that the second she does anything to threaten Ae-jung, Mina won’t just stand by. She adds a threat of her own: that she will find Mina herself and reveal the truth.
Flashback to their KBSN days, when Se-ri had put some sort of medicine in a drink and slipped it to Ae-jung. Only Ae-jung was busy with her mind elsewhere, and gave the drink to Mina when she walked in, complaining of nausea.
Mina drinks and instantly collapses. Ae-jung realizes what Se-ri has done and slaps her, only seeing the cameras pointed at them after the fact.
Back in the present, Se-ri counters that she was just playing a joke, and that she didn’t know that Ae-jung would disband the group like that in retaliation. Clearly there’s something bigger behind it, and I’m thinking Mina’s nausea’s a big clue. Pregnancy scandal is a big possibility why Ae-jung took the fall for the whole group, though it’s just a theory.
Jin asks her what secret led to such misunderstandings, and Ae-jung replies that it’s a SECRET. She sighs that she thought she could handle taking the fall on her own, not realizing then that it would lead to ten years of being at the bottom.
With a surprising amount of sincerity and empathy, Jin tells her that it must’ve been difficult, and that she did a good job of surviving it all. Ae-jung, “Are you praising me? With that mouth?” Heh.
He admits to always being fearful of landing in her position (something she’d asked him before) and they share their first real moment of understanding. She gets flushed and puts a water bottle to her face. It’s the same one she had used in his car way back when he had found it annoying for her rub her face against his photo.
This time he gets up to turn his photo towards her, saying, “The side with the picture is cooler.” Hahahaha. SO. CUTE.
Se-ri arrives at the agency to meet with the president, and sees them being adorable together. She grits her teeth and decides to dig her heels in, never letting go of Dokko Jin. She makes her position clear to his agent, that she’ll go straight to the cameras and cry the second he breaks contract.
Back in his office, Pil-joo gets a helpful tip from Mina about something that Ae-jung likes, so he calls her. Jin sees the call from “Perfect Man Yoon Pil-joo-sshi” and scowls, pretending not to care.
She answers and just says “Yes” three times, and hangs up. He starts to imagine what the other side of the conversation was. Pil-joo: “Why can’t you come? Is Dokko Jin keeping you there?” Ae-jung: “Yes.” Pil-joo: “Is he still hanging on to you, pathetically insisting that he’s ill?” Ae-jung: “Yes.” Pil-joo: “Ay, that jerk. Just get rid of him and come out.” Ae-jung: “Yes.” Hahahaha. I think I like their relationship in Jin’s imagination better than their real one.
He sees her checking her watch fretfully, and then tells her to answer yes three times. Jin: “I told you that my heart was azaleas, right?” Ae-jung: “Yes.” Jin: “I told you not to step on it, right?” Ae-jung: “Yes.” Jin: “But you’re standing on top of it right now. It’d be better if you walked quickly over it instead. So… just go.” Ae-jung hangs her head, “Yes,” and walks out.
She hesitates, and we see that the real conversation was her telling Pil-joo that she was busy and would be running late, aw, but she turns to leave. Jin’s heartbroken expression once she’s gone just about kills me. He puts their autographed pictures side by side with a heavy sigh.
Pil-joo waits outside Ae-jung’s house with a box of her favorite red bean pastries, the tip that Mina had shared with him. He surprises her with them, and she lights up, remembering her favorite bakery from back in the day fondly.
He gives her one and she says that luck has to be shared, and shows him that the bread is shaped like a clover, natch. She breaks it in half and gives it to him, and he smiles, asking if that means something good will happen to him now.
She thanks him for thinking of her as good luck, but tells him truthfully that in her heart, camellias are blooming, and azaleas are being scattered… so much so that she can’t really see a clover, despite knowing that it’s what is best.
He understands her meaning and adds, looking down at his clover bread, that this really is plain-looking and not the kind of thing to move hearts… but that it’s the best kind of bread, when all is said and done. Aw.
She says that her heart must’ve lost its mind because of the flowers, agreeing that “stuff like this [bread] is the best.” Ack, I don’t know what’s worse—his heartbroken reaction or her heartbreaking reaction to breaking his heart. Gah.
After a moment, he suggests that maybe they extend the waiting period then, for her to answer. He suggests that they do the show as their beginning. “And I have nothing to lose. Because if you wait and see, in the end, [holding up his clover bread] things like this are the best.”
Aaaaaaargh. I love them both! What am I gonna dooooooooooooooo?
At home, Jin looks at his potato plant, talking to it: “You’re growing faster than I thought. But if you grow poison that quickly, won’t you die?” He gets up and clutches his heart in pain, surprised to find that he’s still within 60-90. He wonders aloud if unrequited love is poison too, and if he’ll end up dying this way. Heh. Melodramatic to the core.
He goes to see the doctor (his heart surgeon, not the adorkable one) and while waiting around, discovers his penchant for girl group pop music. Heh. The nurse explains that the doc is unique that way—he listens to girl groups during surgery, instead of the standard classical music most docs cut to.
Jin’s eyes widen as he rushes out, dramatic music playing. He mutters that this explains everything. It’s just so funny that it’s played as this dramatic moment, like he’s discovered some mystery that changes everything. Except it doesn’t. Heh.
He gets confirmation from the doc that it was the song playing during his surgery, and on the rooftop he flings the CD into the air, declaring that he was under a spell all this time. He shouts triumphantly, “Restored!” [keuk-bok = restored, revived, also a pun on kukbo = national treasure, aka Ae-jung].
Ae-jung receives the script from the studio on her proposed segment, so all she has to do is decide. On her way out she runs into Jae-seok who mentions that Jin went to the hospital.
Ae-jung sits contemplating her feelings, and asks her sneakers:
Ae-jung:You can’t step on that person, can you? You’re worried that that person is sick, aren’t you? You want to see him, don’t you? Ding dong!
And she rushes off to see him. She hesitates outside his house, wondering if the 60-90 code will still work, and he finds her there. Smugly secure that his feelings were nothing but a hex, he calls her phone to make sure. (She’s saved his number as “Azalea” now.)
The song plays and he checks his heart monitor. Safely in the seventies. He smiles, saying that everything has returned to normal. He says it’s good news for her too. “My heart no longer beats faster because of you.”
She wonders why, and says there’s only one answer. She asks, “Does that mean you no longer like me?”
Jin: “Ding dong.”
Gah, I love the push and pull of this couple, because there’s so much to contend with even beyond just egos and childishness (though that’s the amusing part). It’s poetic and sad one minute, then ridiculously petty the next, but these actors carry the moments with such earnestness that I get carried along for all of it. Love. Just love.
What can I say, other than being so torn over both the love interests is a testament to one of the most engaging love triangles I’ve encountered in a long time. Kudos. I now love and hate you, all at the same time.