Romance Town: Episode 7
I’ll try to give a “deep” recap without explaining my own personal “fairy tale” and how I want the drama to progress. After all, some people think my recaps are “thin” and “lack substance.” Oh but whoops – I’m writing this intro after I’ve written the recap – and I’ve “squee’d” a tad too much already… 😀
Gun Woo sits down at the edge of the stairs and motions Soon Geum to come over next to him.
Gun Woo: I’m only telling you this because of that one debt I owe you. You’ve heard of the phrase, “know your place,” right?
Soon Geum: Nope!
Gun Woo: How about the phrase, “Eon Gam Saeng Shim”? (roughly: How dare you even have such a thought.)
Soon Geum: Those are some difficult words.
Gun Woo: “Where do you think you are to dare to look down on me?”
Soon Geum: Is that what it means?
Gun Woo: Yes.
Soon Geum: And… “Gam” (Dare) is the keyword here, right?
Gun Woo: Yes.
Soon Geum: And “look down on” is part of the issue right?
Gun Woo: *pats her hair – as in, “good job!”*
Soon Geum: But isn’t our relationship on a ‘you’ level? (informal)
Gun Woo: ‘You’? As in, “Hey you”?!
Soon Geum: Like pals!
Gun Woo sighs – he’s not really getting through to a tipsy Soon Geum tonight. She asks, can he do better than her? He dares her to find a quality that puts them on equal ground, and she suggests, “Money?” (Ha – that would make her above him since she’s a billionaire and he’s broke.) “Family?” She insists that a far-off uncle was a chaebol, but Gun Woo says it’s probably both their uncle. They’re not equals in education, occupation, or salary either, and Soon Geum blushes – this comparison of qualifications sure feels like a matchmaking date! On top of that – if they end up matching up, will they both get married?
Gun Woo gets up and leaves for his room in a huff.
Once in his room, Gun Woo calls up Young Hee excitedly, getting his friend up from moping in the car about Soon Geum to his house. Gun Woo boasts that a woman confessed to him, someone other than Shi Ah. Young Hee’s sullen: “You called me over for this? Hey – lay out those judo mats.”
As soon as they’re out, Young Hee flips Gun Woo over and holds him down. (I guess his skills from Dr. Champ are all gone now, eh?) He wants to know what kind of woman would like Gun Woo, but Gun Woo doesn’t like the girl back. Young Hee: “So what’s so great about it?” Gun Woo: “I like being loved by people.”
When he was heavier, he was always the one who had the one-sided crush on someone. Now he gets to be on the receiving end of it, and he kinda likes it.
Soon Geum is in the kitchen, coating seaweed with sesame oil. Young Hee crouches down next to her and offers his ear bud so she can listen to music while she works. Soon Geum shies away, and rejects his help in salting the sesame. He is so insistent that she ends up pushing him on the ground laughingly.
Young Hee asks her out on a movie date for tomorrow, but she can’t watch movies – dark theaters are conducive to sleeping and so it’d be a waste of money. Young Hee: “Have you never been on a date?” Soon Geum: “Oh, were you asking me out on a date?” (Haha! I love how oblivious she is to his advances.) She asks if Gun Woo’s already asleep, and he looks a tad hurt that she’s asking after her master. He grabs a salted sheet of sesame and waves it over the flames. Soon Geum waves a rolling pin and rushes him out of the house – he’s making a mess! Young Hee breaks off a piece, stuffs it in his mouth, and leaves.
In the kitchen, Soon Geum continues listening to Young Hee’s mp3 in the kitchen.
The next morning, Soon Geum helps her friend Shi Ah and daughter Ji Min move into the apartment. They have very little belongings for such a big house, so Soon Geum suggests buying a bigger TV. Shi Ah thinks a bed and sofa would do, and she catches Soon Geum seriously contemplating it. “I’m not asking you to buy it!” Shi Ah yells. “Like you even have money for it?”
Soon Geum sees her “Shi Ah” phone ringing and “Gun-Night” calling. (Cute nickname!) He asks her if she wants to come with him and meet someone important to him – Granny Choon Jak. Soon Geum is shocked – he found her!?
While this would spell doom for her (because she’d be tossed out the moment Choon Jak returns to the house), Soon Geum agrees to meet and races back to the Kang Residence. She sneaks in, as it’s supposed to be her day off, and makes her way to take the 18 million Won outfit from Yoon Joo’s closet. As she crosses the large living room, San spots her from the second floor and calls out, “Ahjumma!”
Soon Geum tries to shush him, but San holds out his stuffed Eeyore and drops it to the ground. Yoon Joo comes out from the dining room, but no one is there. As soon as Yoon Joo leaves, Soon Geum throws Eeyore back up to the second floor, mimes a gesture for him to keep this secret for her, and then waves good bye.
Changed into the same white blazer and dress, with extensions and makeup, Soon Geum races to meet Gun Woo at the cafe. He has a present for her (aside from two cups of coffee) – two stick-ons that help prevent seasickness. They’re taking a 30-minute boat ride to Choon Jak’s hometown, Jang Bong Island. Gun Woo’s excited, but Soon Geum is a bit more uneasy.
Yoon Joo goes to return a painting to the Hwang residence, but she calls Joo Won first to make sure Hwang Yong isn’t home. They sit down for some chit chat; Yoon Joo wonders why Joo Won ended her engagement, and it turns out the fiance had kept asking for more and more money from Hwang Yong. It was an amount that could buy out the entire neighborhood. Yoon Joo is surprised to hear that Hwang Yong is that rich, which causes Joo Won to laugh. Didn’t the wifey know Kang Tae Won would borrow money from Hwang Yong whenever he went through financial troubles?
Yoon Joo is slack-jawed. (Perhaps she’s thinking, “Dammit – I married the wrong guy!”)
Gun Woo and Soon Geum arrive at the island and visit her house, but no one is there. An old neighbor comes by and says that she’s out digging for mud oysters at the tidal flats. That also means another boat ride.
Soon Geum looks absolutely sick on the boat; she could have stayed behind and waited, but didn’t. She finally can’t take it anymore and pukes into the sea. She checks her make-up and hair first before turning around to face Gun Woo again, and he puts his arm around her.
Soon Geum automatically leans against his shoulder, but then goes and pukes again. At least Gun Woo is sweet enough to keep patting her back, and letting her rest on his shoulder.
They trudge through the mud flats, and how the hell Soon Geum even manages to get through them in heels is beyond me. Gun Woo goes from granny to granny, in search of Choon Jak, but fails to find her. He asks the neighbor where Choon Jak could possibly be, and the neighbor’s all, “Well, she was coming here for the past few days before, but if she’s not here now – oh well.” Gun Woo flips – he’s wasted all this time then? The neighbor appeases him – why don’t he give them some fresh clams to try?
When they’re alone, Soon Geum asks Gun Woo what will happen to his household’s current maid if Choon Jak returns. Gun Woo says the maid already agreed to leave, which leaves a sinking feeling in Soon Geum’s heart. Gun Woo sweetly says, “When we get back, it should be my turn to suffer from seasickness.”
Suddenly the neighbor appears again. He dips some fresh clam into some spicy sauce and feeds the both of them.
Gun Woo: It’s really delicious!
Neighbor: It’s good isn’t it?
Gun Woo: No! It’s not good at all!
What a baby.
They continue their search, and finally Gun Woo finds Choon Jak! As Choon Jak hugs Gun Woo, she gives Soon Geum the stink eye. Before Gun Woo can introduce Soon Geum, Choon Jak drags Gun Woo ahead. Soon Geum even falls on the mud, but no one is there to help her.
Back at 1st Street, the maids are all gathered cleaning the anchovies and shrimp innards one by one. They’re annoyed that their masters would make them do such hard manual labor, instead of buying already-cleaned seafood, and wonder how Choon Jak could have handled it back then. Soo Jung notes that Choon Jak always did things her own way anyways, and loved her job. But if she were still at the Kang Residence today, it would be very hard for Gun Woo to marry – because Choon Jak despises almost everyone.
Gun Woo exits Choon Jak’s house wearing some elastic granny pants, waiting for the fresh seafood to cook. Soon Geum also changes into some of Choon Jak’s clothes, but when she cleans off her makeup, she realizes that she looks more like “Soon Geum” than “Shi Ah.” Eeep!
When she emerges from the room, she’s wearing her fancy clothes instead. She offers to help Choon Jak serve, but Choon Jak shoots her down: “A woman should make a man feel comfortable, and a woman without makeup is the most beautiful. It’s not like you’re going to a fashion show. Are you going to sleep in those clothes too?” (Strike 1.)
Soon Geum is surprised; she didn’t know they were sleeping over! Gun Woo looks away awkwardly, and Choon Jak tsks – a woman shouldn’t embarrass a man in public either. (Strike 2.) Gun Woo tells Soon Geum they can head back tonight, but Choon Jak says the boats stopped running already. She hurries them to eat, and Gun Woo goes off to get extra chopsticks.
As soon as he’s gone, Choon Jak gets on Soon Geum’s case: what’s with the half-wiped-off lipstick? Soon Geum has so much makeup on and wears fancy clothing – clearly she’s not good wife material. What is Soon Geum planning to do with Gun Woo by seducing him?
Aaaand Gun Woo’s back. Choon Jak shuts up and drinks her soup.
That evening, the weather gets chillier and Choon Jak orders Gun Woo to wear a sweater, lest he gets a cold. In the room, Choon Jak shuffles go-stop cards, while Soon Geum kneels uncomfortably because of her dress. Gun Woo offers to lay his sweater across her lap, but Choon Jak stops it: “Did she say she was getting cold?”
It’s time to test Soon Geum with Go-Stop! Choon Jak takes out a bunch of change, and Gun Woo hands her two 1000 Won bills to change. Soon Geum also hands a bill to get change for – a 50000 Won bill. UHHHHHH….
They start playing, with Soon Geum in the lead. Choon Jak asks her what she plans to do with the 5000 Won winnings she has so far, and she cheerfully (and honestly) replies, “To buy lottery tickets!” Gun Woo looks at her curiously.
Choon Jak then suggests they play it by the rules of the island – by stripping! If she gets less than three points, Soon Geum has to take off her skirt. Over three points, take off her jacket. OMG GRANNY HAS A DIRTY MIND! Even Gun Woo is shocked, but Choon Jak notes, “Shouldn’t you be excited about this?” Either way, Choon Jak wants Soon Geum to take off the fancy clothing.
Soon Geum quickly grabs the cards to shuffle, as she won the last round. She touches her nose and then touches the card lying on top. Her gesture is reminiscent of Choon Jak’s habits when she plays, and the granny flashes back to when she was playing go-stop with the other maids on 1st Street. Choon Jak would also flip her coins so that they all had the same side facing up… which is exactly what Soon Geum does.
Intrigued, she asks Soon Geum where she learned go-stop. Soon Geum says she learned it from her father, but Choon Jak imperceptibly shakes her head, as in “no way…” Later, when Soon Geum grabs a drink of water, Choon Jak follows her, completely suspicious. She grabs Soon Geum’s ponytail and pulls… her extensions off! Without the long hair, Soon Geum is more recognizable. Choon Jak rubs off some of the makeup for confirmation and she’s so shocked to see the maid lying. Did Soon Geum do it for money?
Soon Geum tearfully apologizes, and Choon Jak wonders, “Do you, possibly, like Gun Woo? But you just don’t believe in yourself because you’re a maid?” Gun Woo is calling for them, and as he approaches the kitchen, Choon Jak grabs Soon Geum to hide in the back. She advises Soon Geum to resign immediately.
Hwang Yong drives up in front of the Kang residence for a little evening party. He can’t get the thought of Yoon Joo off his mind, but forces himself to smile and greet Tae Won and Jang Chi Gook. Tae Won tells him to go help pick out a wine, and when he reaches the wine room, he sees Yoon Joo there. He immediately excuses himself, but she tells him to just pick one.
She asks if his cheek is alright (referring to the slap she had given him before), and he apologizes for having no self-control. However she acknowledges he was quite courageous to act after three years. He then approaches her. Yoon Joo swallows, thinking he may attempt to kiss her again, but he instead picks out a wine she’s standing in front of. It’s a vintage wine, one that belongs to Tae Won’s special collection and is meant for only the most special occasions. Hwang Yong deems this night to be appropriate.
When he takes it out to the dining room, Tae Won’s face falls. It’s worth 20 million Won, but Hwang Yong just uncorks the bottle and pours the contents out into a decanter. Jang Chi Gook looks at the wine lustfully; Tae Won is disgusted that Hwang Yong would open his prized wine so easily; Yoon Joo is impressed.
Hwang Yong takes out two bills totaling 20 million Won: “Let me buy the wine tonight.” Wow – heavy on the flaunting aren’t we? They all toast to courage. Heh.
Now it’s bedtime at Choon Jak’s home, and Gun Woo asks how Choon Jak answered all his letters when she was fired. Choon Jak glances over at Soon Geum, who’s rolled over facing away from them. Choon Jak lies, saying that she snuck over to the Kang Residence every so often to steal his letters, knowing that if she didn’t reply Gun Woo might not concentrate on his studies.
Gun Woo is so happy; he tells her that the letters gave him much strength when he was tired. He promises to always take care of Choon Jak, which amuses her. After listening to all this, Soon Geum says that if there’s another opportunity, she will wear comfortable clothes in front of Granny Choon Jak, make hand-made noodles, lose at go-stop, and massage her arms and legs. A tear falls from her eyes, but no one sees this.
The next day at dawn, Choon Jak is already up preparing breakfast. She falls a couple of times while getting up from a crouched position, and weakly tries to open a bottle of pills. ARGH – so she’s got a fatal disease. Here we go with the melo.
Gun Woo wakes up and finds himself incredibly close to Soon Geum; in fact, his leg is swung over her body! He gingerly lifts himself off, but takes a good look at Soon Geum sleeping. When she stirs awake, he pretends to be asleep. Soon Geum quietly suggests, “Should we stop seeing each other?” His eyes immediately open; “Why?” He tells her to go back to sleep if she’s going to speak nonsense, but Soon Geum thinks that once he knows everything, he’ll be disappointed.
She’s afraid of the consequences and would rather run now, but Gun Woo is angry. Where would she want to go now after “shaking” his heart, wondering if he can hold her hand or kiss her? He pulls her close, “Puke, puke, puke – do you know how sexy that is?! I want to see your cheeks bulge from eating lettuce wraps, so we can’t break up.”
Aww – that is one of the sweetest confessions ever.
He looks at her and smiles, but then notices that the air smells like Granny’s cooked rice. He relishes at the thought of now being able to eat it everyday. Oh great – first she’s all happy about him wanting her, and now she’s reminded that she’ll be kicked out of the house in no time.
Meanwhile, they don’t notice Granny Choon Jak packing up her belongings, and leaving. ARGH – what a Noble Granny.
Back at 1st Street, Boon Ja tells Hyun Joo she wants some pork lettuce wraps for dinner. However, the wife had already told Hyun Joo to make dumpling soup for dinner. Hyun Joo naturally makes sure that Boon Ja is OK with just dumpling soup. However, Boon Ja thinks Hyun Joo is just ignoring her requests because she’s a mistress. She yells at her for getting together with the other maids and talking behind the madams’ back, eating fried chicken and comparing the two wives like the chicken – half spicy, half fried. Her yelling brings Soon Ok into the kitchen, and Boon Ja immediately tattles on Hyun Joo.
However Hyun Joo insists that they’ve never eaten fried chicken; they’ve ordered pizza though. HAHAHA – talk about being a little too honest. Soon Ok demands to see all the other maids in her living room now, to teach them a lesson.
All the maids gather one by one in the living room and kneel on the floor, except for Soon Geum who is nowhere to be found. Soon Ok wants to know: when they last met up, what did they eat? Zar Lin says they had leftovers; Da Kyum says they had kimchi and soup; Soo Jung says they had pizza.
Boon Ja insists on validating her claim that the ladies order half-spicy half-fried chicken, so she asks what each maid would want if they did order chicken. Zar Lin and Da Kyum like spicy; Soo Jung and Hyun Joo like fried. Boon Ja cries with glee… until Da Kyum points out that Soon Geum usually likes fried chicken, so whenever it doesn’t split evenly they go with majority. They would never order half-half.
Boon Ja fans herself furiously. The wives are foiled again! But Hyun Joo is bitter she must go through such a humiliating session.
Gun Woo drives home, obnoxiously honking his car horn on the way back. He’s furious when he sees Young Hee because Young Hee was right – Granny Choon Jak really IS avoiding him. She purposely left early in the morning so that she wouldn’t return with him. Young Hee wonders if it’s because of a man, but Gun Woo says no way – she loves him only! Gun Woo even admits that Soon Geum is good – she cooks well and is good to San, but he fired her (sort of).
Soon Geum is slowly making her way home, and Young Hee greets her, wondering why she’s coming home so late. He offers her some iced tea to cheer her up, and she finds the tea refreshingly sweet. Young Hee asks her out again to a movie date, this time with Gun Woo. Oooh – will she reject the offer this time?
When she gets home, Yoon Joo asks her where the white blazer is – she was looking everywhere but couldn’t find it. Clutching her bag, Soon Geum says she’ll look for the blazer herself and runs off to Yoon Joo’s closet. She closes the door, pulls out the clothing and dusts if off. As she’s about to hang it up, the doors open, and Soon Geum offers the clothing up.
But it’s Gun Woo at the door. He’s not in a good mood to begin with, but when he notices the clothing he asks her to hold it up, as if she’s wearing it. Soon Geum winces and looks down, fearing that she’ll be found out now.
Thankfully Yoon Joo enters. (I never knew I’d be so thankful for Yoon Joo to enter.) She asks why Soon Geum isn’t hanging up her clothing, to which Gun Woo supposes Yoon Joo has the same clothes. He leaves, and Soon Geum collapses in relief.
That evening, Soon Geum, Young Hee, Da Kyum (tagging along), and Gun Woo all head to the small barbecue restaurant where it’s standing only – the same one he brought Shi Ah to – before the movies. Meanwhile, a line of trucks offering knife-sharpening services arrive at 1st Street, calling for everyone to come out and sharpen their knives. The two people in the lead truck observe Hwang Yong’s house carefully. Ominous. And freaky.
The maids gather in front of each truck to have their knives sharpened. Hwang Yong comes out personally because Zar Lin injured herself with a knife, which worries Soo Jung. He offers to watch her knife for her, and as soon as she’s gone, the leader of the trucks greets Hwang Yong respectfully. They know each other!! The leader is grateful to Hwang Yong for helping him start a new life and came to the neighborhood just to see him.
In the restaurant, everyone’s eating quietly, the atmosphere somewhat strained. Soon Geum is once again not eating, saying that the meat is too spicy. However, Da Kyum picks up on the fact that Soon Geum is uncomfortable with the charcoal. When Soon Geum excuses herself to the bathroom, Da Kyum explains to the boys that Soon Geum’s mother and grandmother died from charcoal smoke. That rings a bell in Gun Woo’s mind, who’s already been troubled ever since he saw Soon Geum with the blazer and skirt.
Soon Geum is crying, missing her mother terribly, in a phone booth outside. She hears someone call out to her, “Miss Yoon Shi Ah.” She gets up and turns around.
It’s Gun Woo.
“We should end it here. Thanks to you, my first love will end like this.”
OHMYGAWD HE FIGURED IT OUT!!! I knew that NYU education couldn’t be completely useless!
There were plot developments galore in this episode, but the one I did not like was Choon Jak’s sickness. If you saw it coming from a mile away, well good for you. I didn’t, mainly because I thought she was going to be the “Choon Jak always mentioned but never found until the last episode.” This overused K-drama trope has the potential to make the drama completely veer off course and plunge into the Melodrama Abyss. The drama feels slow sometimes based on atmosphere and tone, but if we have one too many scenes of crying in the hospital for Granny Choon Jak, the hour will feel like an eternity.
I do like how Choon Jak tries to get Soon Geum to strip off her facade through a game of go-stop. She’s the epitome of reality and grounded-to-earthness, something that goes against the grain with the ideals of 1st Street. It’s probably why Gun Woo likes her so much, even though he occasionally falls into the pitfalls of the 1st Street values (i.e. falling for Soon Geum at first for her image). She’s the advocate of staying true to oneself instead of falling for the trappings of wealth and becoming someone you’re not, which is almost the antithesis of what Hwang Yong advised Soon Geum to do.