Romance Town: Episode 3
This episode had me screaming for MOAARRRRR! You’d think a drama that’s all about slice of life would elicit a calmer response, but no. I’m also counting on this drama to give me another awesome bromance.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tei – 너뿐이야 from Romance Town OST [download]
YAHOOOOO! Soon Geum’s won the lottery! Young Hee hides from view, making sure she doesn’t see him looking from above, and going so far as covering his head with his jacket when she comes up to his grandfather and father’s graves.
Spotting him, she asks, “Who are you?” He replies, “I’m the spirit of the mountain.” Unbelievable… He reveals himself though, catching her off guard. Sticking a pink flower in his hair, he informs her that she’s bowing to his grandfather Kim Yuk and father Kim Han, and the reason he’s around is because he needs to pluck off the weeds. So what’s her deal?
Soon Geum plucks the flower from his hair and tucks it behind her ear. She says that she’s gone crazy after being kicked out by Gun Woo. She felt that she was so crazy she just had to share it with the rest of the deceased elders too. Young Hee smiles and adjusts the flower; “I never knew, but now I realize – you’re pretty Ahjumma.”
At work, Tae Won makes his rounds through the office and encourages everyone to keep tabs on the stocks. If they can hit a certain goal, he will treat the whole office dinner. Everyone cheers – except Gun Woo, who looks on disinterestedly.
He barges into his father’s office later asking for the Hiro Fund account to handle for himself. Tae Won tells him to take it easy on his first day, and Gun Woo shoots back, “You’ll give me your son but not this account?” Tae Won thinks Gun Woo is not ready, and learned nothing in New York except how to steal business from others. But Gun Woo says he just wants to be exactly – if not better than – Tae Won.
Hyun Joo is cleaning the bathroom at the Jang Residence, and removed her giant pearl ring. She cleans until every surface sparkles, and then leaves the bathroom – leaving behind the giant ring. When Mistress Boon Ja enters, she coos, “So that’s where I left it!” and slips the ring on.
As she serves tea, Hyun Joo notices that Boon Ja is wearing her ring. She belatedly realizes that she was not wearing her ring at all, and goes back to the bathroom to look for it, thinking that perhaps Boon Ja just has the same ring. Not so – back in the living room, Boon Ja notices Soon Ok’s pearl ring and gushes that Soon Ok’s is as big as a grape, while hers is teeny. That is – until she raises her hand and realizes that her pearl is WAAAAY bigger. Woops!
Soon Ok’s annoyed; Boon Ja wants to trade rings to keep the peace; and Hyun Joo is miffed. Jang Chi Gook gave the same ring to each woman in the household!?
Jang Chi Gook insists that Soon Ok and Boon Ja only provide friendship; he’s really in love with Hyun Joo! Pshhh – like she really buys that.
In the Kim Residence, Da Kyum gets an unexpected visitor: Joo Won. Joo Won waltzes in as if she’s the owner of the house and begins her inspection. She makes sure the surfaces don’t have a single trace of dust; the food is still fresh; and she fixes Young Hee’s un-made bed with a purse of her lips. When she finally leaves, Da Kyum bitterly wonders who the hell Joo Won thinks she is to be acting like she’s the lady of the house.
Gun Woo heads over to the trading center to look at his stocks. Suddenly, Soon Geum with Kang San sits next to him. She asks how his stocks are, and Gun Woo can only stare wide-eyed. He blinks hard several times; his eyes were playing tricks on him! It was really just another mother and son. HA! He’s hallucinating Soon Geum’s presence!
Young Hee plunks down next to him, gloating that his stocks are doing well, and then laughing when he realizes Gun Woo’s are going down. (Young Hee is an annoying but insanely fun friend.) Revenge: in an elevator with cute girls, Gun Woo introduces Young Hee – a sloppy fellow who does nothing but slack off. When he’s in need of money, he sells one of his grandfather’s paintings for a quick fortune.
Revenge 2: Young Hee nags Gun Woo on the way to the bathroom, about being as reckless as his stepmother. Gun Woo admits they’re similar to some degree – both are ill-mannered, brainless, and unlucky – so he tells Young Hee to go look for someone nicer instead of him. It’s funny that Young Hee’s first thought is, “But what about Da Kyum? Without me, she’ll have nothing!”
Hyun Joo returns to the neighborhood lugging two heavy bags of groceries. She’s still mighty bitter about the rings, and then one of the bags breaks in the middle of the road. Her day couldn’t get worse. Meanwhile, Yoon Joo doesn’t know what to do with the dirty dishes and with a kid calling her, “Grandma, I’m hungry.” She storms out of the house angrily.
As Hyun Joo gathers the fallen vegetables in her skirt, she sees Yoon Joo and asks her for help in picking up the eggs. Out of spite, Yoon Joo steps on it instead and walks off. Hyun Joo mutters curses under her breath, and that’s enough for Yoon Joo to turn around and slap her in the face.
OOOOO – CAT FIGHT!
The two of them hurl insults at each other: Yoon Joo warns Hyun Joo to watch her mouth and know her place, going so far as cracking an egg over Hyun Joo’s head. The maid returns the favor, saying that even though she’s only a maid, at least people won’t call her a money-grubbing bitch. Hair tugging and pushing ensues, and the rest of the maids gather around to pull the ladies apart.
Da Kyum grabs hold of Hyun Joo, pulling her off of Yoon Joo. Soo Jung scolds Hyun Joo and tells her to apologize, but as she helps Yoon Joo up, she takes a fierce hold of her hair to pull her up. Ouch! Then when Yoon Joo goes to attack Hyun Joo again, Soo Jung pulls her backwards on to her shoe’s heels. Petty revenge from the maids!
Hwang Yong and Jang Chi Gook notice the ruckus and help the ladies up. Da Kyum, Soo Jung, and Zar Lin observe that Hwang Yong is gently helping Yoon Joo back to her house. (Oooh – something going on there?) They also note with interest that Jang Chi Gook is so concerned over Hyun Joo’s welfare. (Definitely something there…)
Back in her room, Hyun Joo grabs a photo of her two boys and breaks down into heaving sobs. Yoon Joo’s insult was right – as a maid she can’t even cook a meal for her own sons. As for Yoon Joo, she’s been stunned into silence by Hyun Joo’s statement that she only married for money. Perhaps she never faced that fact directly, or she did think she was in love. She requests Hwang Yong to forget the incident ever happened, and he promises: “Everyone has something that they want to hide or can’t admit.” He hands her his handkerchief, and his kind manner touches Yoon Joo.
When Hyun Joo finally emerges from her room, Jang Chi Gook worriedly asks if she’s OK. Hyun Joo admits that she wanted to be a woman for a couple of days and wear the ring, but she was planning on selling it so that she could support her sons. At the end of the day, she’s still a maid, and if only she had saved enough money, she would have quit tomorrow.
Soon Geum heads over to the company that hands out the winning lottery. She is spotted by her dad’s friend, Choi Bong Yi. He wonders if she’s there to see him, and Soon Geum cringes. Now she can’t collect her winnings – especially in front of her dad’s buddy! He thinks that she’s there to borrow money because of her father, who just left, and that sets her off running after him.
She catches him, and they eat at a small restaurant. She’s annoyed that he doesn’t even care for his own well-being, or even contact her, or even visit her mother’s grave. Soon Geum asks him, does he like money or go-stop better? Answer: go-stop, because it’s a more fun way to get money. Does he like go-stop or his daughter more? Her father, Sang Hoon, wisely answers: of course, daughter. If so, she logically concludes, then he should quit playing go-stop for her.
Sang Hoon: “I play go-stop so you can stop being a housemaid.” He then takes out her wallet from her bag; she assumes he’s going to take more cash but instead, he puts money in. He had won a game. He then notices the lottery ticket, and has enough time to see the circled winning numbers before Soon Geum snatches it away.
While Soon Geum is annoyed with her father’s inability to stop gambling (all in the name of needing to pay her back), another patron drunkenly asks her to pour a drink for him. The guy wonders if Soon Geum is a young miss or is an old maid, and that’s when Sang Hoon kicks the guy off his chair, defending his daughter’s honor. It would have been a heroic act – if only he weren’t so beaten easily by the young drunks and kicked on the floor. Needless to say, he ends up in the hospital with a broken nose and in need of surgery.
As for Gun Woo, he’s having a civilized dinner of sorts with his father and Young Hee. Tae Won pours the boys a drink and tells them to take it one shot. Of course, Gun Woo does it – even though he can’t drink for his life – his father is not someone who cares enough about him to remember these sorts of details. Tae Won informs Gun Woo that if he so badly wants to be like his father, tomorrow he can start living exactly in the way Tae Won had lived when he was thirty.
Gun Woo and Young Hee know that Tae Won is going to take everything away, but they both don’t seem too worried about it. Young Hee wants to know why Gun Woo lost all that weight. Gun Woo knew that no matter how smart he was, no one would take him seriously if he remained heavy. Except for Choon Jak – and that’s why he’s so desperate to find her and repay her.
Young Hee comments that Soon Geum isn’t too bad either, but Gun Woo thinks it’s wasteful for her to spend her life being a maid to his horrible family. Young Hee also notes that Gun Woo’s language has become ruder the skinnier he got.
At the hospital, Bong Yi thinks Soon Geum’s father is too troublesome for his own good. He wonders aloud where they could get the money to pay for the hospital bill. Without telling him she won the lottery, she says she’ll find a way. She heads over to a nearby convenience store, reasoning that perhaps the other maids will lend her money. She’ll be able to pay them back anyways since she’s got the lottery money.
Young Hee drives up to the same convenience store – he’s madly hopping to go to the bathroom! Gun Woo goes inside to grab a drink and that’s when he gets a call from a friend who found Choon Jak’s phone number. He has bad memory though, and can’t memorize the number.
Soon Geum takes out her lottery ticket, musing over the winning numbers, when it’s suddenly snatched out of her hands. Gun Woo flips it around and writes down the phone number. She tries to grab it back, but he raises it above his head. Danggit! Why is he so tall!? And dark?! And handsome!?
He enjoys tormenting her, and asks her to give him the ticket. UHHHHH – I don’t think so, fella. She jams her heel on his foot, and he bends over in pain. Snatch! – and out she runs. Gun Woo hobbles after her and yells for Young Hee to go catch her. Confused because he just came out of the bathroom, Young Hee runs after her without knowing why. He grabs her vest easily, and she pleads with “the spirit of the mountain” to just let her go. She tries to continue her crazy act, saying that she’s a rabbit and will give her liver to him if he lets her go. Young Hee makes her promise before letting go.
HMMM – is the boy getting himself involved in a love triangle?!
Tae Won returns home to the sight of Yoon Joo sitting on the couch, waiting for him, clutching Hwang Yong’s handkerchief. She begins making demands: she wants a new car, and unlimited credit for her credit card. Tae Won acquiesces, and she’s frustrated that he never says no to her. She asks if he’s hiding anything from her, but he thinks she’s being needlessly naggy. He just wants to know what she really wants. Surprisingly, she says she wants Soon Geum back.
Soon Geum visits each house, hoping that one of the maids will lend her money. All of them say they don’t have cash to spare. Zar Lin takes pity on her and hands her a card to a loan shark company; she found the business card on her master’s desk.
Soon Geum makes her way to the office, which is completely empty. The banners and signs about money lending freak her out a bit, and when she steps on an ID card with the face cut in half, she decides she’s had enough and runs out the door – slamming it against none other than Hwang Yong.
They’re shocked to see each other, and Soon Geum immediately assumes that Hwang Yong might want to borrow money too. When he starts bleeding from the bruise on his head, Soon Geum thinks he got beaten up by the loan sharks; ha! I love she’s so oblivious to the possibility that she did this to him. As she helps stop the bleeding, Hwang Yong tries to get her to leave by saying that these loan sharks have really high interest rates. But that’s when the loan sharks arrive and say, “President!”
So THIS is how Hwang Yong made his money!
In the office, Soon Geum sits uncomfortably, sneaking peeks at the ominous-looking men behind Hwang Yong. Noticing this, he hands his men some candy, telling them to smile (or try to) and get back to work. He then breaks the ice: if she’s scared, well, he’s scared too that his neighbors will find out about his line of work. He suggests she go to the bank and borrow money instead, but she has no collateral. That’s when she notices a sign stating he accepts lottery tickets as collateral – if they’re first place though.
Perfect! 14.2 billion Won that reduces to 9.5 billion after taxes. Soon Geum gives him a sly smile. Hwang Yong says he’ll give her an additional 500 million, which confuses her – why is he giving her additional money? She’s afraid he’s going to use it against her in the future (perhaps), or use it as a bribe to keep her mouth shut in front of the neighbors (maybe). Soon Geum is so hesitant that Hwang Yong is ready to break off the deal…when she finally relents.
They go to a storage facility where Hwang Yong uses his thumbprint and key to open the storage room. He hands Soon Geum a piece of gum, saying it’ll help her later, but she refuses. OK then – in they go. Inside are sealed boxes full of 50,000 Won bills. Soon Geum is beyond shocked – she’s never seen so much money in her life! She becomes light-headed, and Hwang Yong stuffs the gum in her mouth: “Chew! See, this is why you should have accepted it when I tried to give it to you before.”
They count out 10 billion in front of her. At that moment, Gun Woo is calling her frantically for Choon Jak’s number. Soon Geum accidentally accepts the call, but Gun Woo could only hear the bills being counted in an automatic machine before she ends the call. 10 billion counted out, Hwang Yong hands her the key to her future, and she hands over the lottery ticket.
As Soon Geum becomes rich, Gun Woo is being stripped of his belongings. Tae Won wants all of Gun Woo’s credit cards. The gas in his car will run out by the end of the night. If Gun Woo wants to be just like his father, he will become penniless, and has to fight his way to the top. Though Tae Won acts like he’s doing Gun Woo a favor, Gun Woo knows his father doesn’t really care if Gun Woo succeeds or not. He will “disappoint” Tae Won by truly succeeding.
Soon Geum informs her father that he’ll be staying in the hospital for a while. As soon as she leaves to get some food, he rifles through her bag for the lottery ticket. It’s gone, but he’s putting two and two together.
He gets a surprise visit from all the other maids. Soo Jung and Hyun Joo immediately entertain him with some go-stop, while Zar Lin is made lookout and Da Kyum replenishes the fridge with food. Da Kyum disapproves of their actions, but she can’t do anything to stop them. They hide the cards when the nurse comes in to get his blood pressure, but resume immediately thereafter. Unfortunately – they don’t notice Soon Geum entering.
Sheepishly, Soo Jung and Hyun Joo gather their winnings. Soon Geum screams in frustration – why can’t they all just stop gambling for once!? Hyun Joo whispers to the father that Soon Geum is short-tempered because she lost her job, and that’s when Soon Geum pushes them all out. She didn’t tell her father that yet.
When they’re all gone, Sang Hoon hands her an envelope filled with cash. The maids had all brought it in for her, and Soon Geum feels a twinge of regret at cashing in the lottery with the loan sharks. He asks if Soon Geum was afraid he’d take all of her winnings, and Soon Geum defensively says she didn’t quit at all. In fact – she was just about to head back to work!
Once alone, Sang Hoon makes a call to his friend Bong Yi, fishing for details about the first prize winner for the lottery. Bong Yi only knows that the winner is from Chungdam-dong, the rich area where Soon Geum works, and that the first prize winner won 14.2 billion Won. That’s enough to make Sang Hoon’s heart stop – and the doctors have to shock him back to life.
Outside, Soon Geum receives a call from Yoon Joo, but it’s actually San on the other line! He sweetly calls out, “Ahjumma~!” and Yoon Joo tries to guide the little boy to say that he wants to see her. (Little boy’s vocabulary isn’t that sophisticated yet!)
The other maids are all putting on make-up at a cosmetics store. Soo Jung is about to put on some pale pink lipstick when she hesitates and puts it back down. She has no master or mistresses to impress, and no reason for her to put on any. Hyun Joo notes her sadness and purchases the lipstick for Soo Jung. Later on, she has Soo Jung hold her sweater and look in the right pocket; it’s a bright red lipstick. It’s totally not to Soo Jung’s taste, and so Hyun Joo explains she should look on the left pocket; it’s the wearer’s right side, the onlooker’s left side. All this explains to us is that at least one of the maids is cognizant of the pocket mix-up.
Soon Geum returns to her storage room and hugs a few wads of 50000 Won. She then gets a call that her father is missing from the hospital. Where’d Sang Hoon go!? Why, to the Kang Residence of course! He goes to find out whether Soon Geum quit or not, and Yoon Joo actually says that Soon Geum never quit. (Well, that is true, but she never mentions that Soon Geum got fired either.)
Soon Geum is racing to the Kang Residence, having deduced her father was heading over there. Also returning home is Gun Woo, who drives up alongside her until he finally gets her attention. She tries to run from him, but he stops her. He’ll drive her home – it’s faster, and they’re going the same way.
Ha! As soon as she’s settled in the car, he locks the doors and drives right past their home. He makes the excuse that the foot she stepped on is still in pain, and the brakes aren’t working. They circle around the cul-de-sac, and he wants to know what Choon Jak’s number is. Unfortunately, she no longer has the lottery ticket and so can’t tell him that.
As he drives around, Soon Geum receives a text from Soo Jung. The money in the envelope was actually from Gun Woo; he had told the maids to give it to Soon Geum but not mention that it came from him. Soo Jung thinks it must be severance pay. This is puzzling news for Soon Geum, who’s currently under the impression that he hates her.
Seeing as she doesn’t have the number, he takes out a blanket (aw – no snacks?!) and reclines in his seat. They’ll have to camp out for the night until she figures out the number.
Soon Geum: Do you really like Choon Jak that much, even though she’s a maid?
Gun Woo: Of course.
Soon Geum: Then what about me? We’re both similar, and were unfairly fired on the spot.
Gun Woo: … I like you and hate you. I hate you and like you.
Soon Geum: So…do you like me or hate me?
Gun Woo: Are you curious?
Soon Geum: Yes.
Gun Woo: Then try to make me fall in love with you.
Kaedejun: !?!?!?!?! AJHDSFA;JLGHAW;EFJJGJFKA;DG;UIAWUGJA!!!!!!!
Soon Geum burns up in embarrassment.
OHMIGOD! A confession!? In episode THREE?!?!?! I’m counting this as a half-confession, because if you can’t explain coherently how you feel about someone, but know that you can’t be away from them, you like them.
So far there’s been a nice balance in managing the various story lines. I, too, hate the confusing names (Hyun Joo and Yoon Joo – you couldn’t give them different second syllables?!), but slowly and surely, these characters are being revealed to us. I like that Hyun Joo isn’t just a money-hungry maid, but someone who’s bitter about her station and also a single mother. I also immensely enjoyed Hwang Yong’s character; I thought he was going to be a boring rich guy, but he’s actually a lot kinder than the rest of his lot – and makes his money in more shady ways.
I also really enjoyed that certain issues were addressed, such as Gun Woo’s sudden rudeness and reason for weight loss, as well as the whole right-pocket/left-pocket thing, rather than leaving it up for the audience to wonder. I’m glad they’re making the pocket-fiasco a plot point rather than something that could have been dismissed as a continuity issue.
At least Soon Geum’s got her money! Let’s hope she can enjoy it for a while before the Drama Gods decide to mess up her life and take it from her.
And – no spoilers about episode 4 please!