For a drama that operates on a very predictable premise — we know not only the trajectory of the events but can also anticipate the various obstacles and triumphs Yeon-jae will face — Scent of a Woman does a damn good job of keeping us engaged and on the hook for more. The overall arc is predictable, but the little moments and plot beats are not, and that gives this drama life.
SONG OF THE DAY
Every Single Day – “일어나” (Get Up) [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Ji-wook tells Yeon-jae to take his money and leave him alone forever. It’s a supremely unromantic non-confession, as he tells her that she’s driving him crazy like it’s her fault he’s attracted to her.
She asks what that means, and he asks, “What do you think it means?” She requests that he cancel the money transfer because she won’t take the 300 million won, and they go their separate ways. With her accounts frozen, she doesn’t even have enough cash to take a cab all the way home, and exits the taxi with only a few dollars to her name.
Ji-wook soon has another visitor: Sae-kyung storms inside and slaps him for ditching her at the opera. Good lord, slap-happy people of this drama. You talk with your mouth, not with your hands.
She warns him that she can always dump him, so he replies, “Why don’t you do that, then?” It’s not like they enjoy each other’s company. She sneers about his idea of fun, asking mockingly whether he’d prefer to hold hands and go to amusement parks.
Ji-wook conducts a meeting with Yeon-jae’s old department, dissatisfied with the team’s lack of suggestions until Bong-gil mentions a Wando Island tour package that looks promising. But when Ji-wook hears that this was Yeon-jae’s proposal, he rejects it angrily, professional that he is. He dismisses the meeting with the pointed warning that male employees are not to sexually harass the women, adding that the same goes for women.
While waiting for Hye-won to meet her, Yeon-jae flips through a magazine and lands on a feature of Andy Wilson. She pulls out a pen and starts blackening his teeth, which I love because it’s so harmlessly immature.
Hye-won lends her about $800, which is all she can afford to give. She relays the story of Ji-wook blowing his lid when Yeon-jae’s name was mentioned at the meeting and wonders what’s up.
Hye-won spots the photo of Wilson, insulting him like the loyal friend she is and wondering how a pianist can play with such “pig hands.” That draws Yeon-jae’s attention to his hands…and the ring on his finger. The caption puts the photo at a recent Berlin performance. Yeon-jae gets on the phone, tracing him to his recording label, then to the hotel in Sydney where he’s currently staying.
Living with one frisky Malbok-ie does, as expected, cramp Eun-seok’s style; the dog shreds books, knocks over lamps, and pees on his floor. Eun-seok asks a fellow doctor to take the dog off his hands, but when Yeon-jae asks him if all’s going well with the dog, he lies and says yes. Good luck getting rid of him now, ya big softy.
Eun-seok’s avoidant personality is well-known, and even the director of the hospital points out that his ostracism is self-imposed. His absence from the dinner the other night has been duly noted, and he faked a stomach bug last year to get out of performing at the annual hospital anniversary event. This year marks the 50th, however, so the director wants the doctors to prepare bigger, better, more exciting acts.
Eun-seok feels the pressure, and it’s as though being singled out as the outcast makes him want to prove the director wrong. So when the director suggests that another doctor perform a dance, Eun-seok blurts, “I’ll do it.” Go big or go home, right?
Eun-seok confirms that Yeon-jae’s bloodwork came back normal, which means that her first bout of therapy succeeded. As she’s about to leave, he holds her back to ask some advice, saying sheepishly, “I did something even I don’t understand.”
Her response? Tango class.
Eun-seok stands there in total discomfort while Yeon-jae laughs at his tenseness and tells him to relax. It’s cute that she assumes he’s anxious because of the dance, when it’s really her that has him so hot ‘n bothered. That obvious unease on his face is sorta awesome.
Eun-seok gets through the steps and Yeon-jae claps excitedly, while Bong-gil/Ramses enthusiastically praises his talent. He overdoes it a bit, but confides to the female instructor that it’s just to encourage him lest he be scared off (after Ji-wook told him he wouldn’t be returning to classes, Bong-gil had wondered if it was because he’d been too hard on him, hee).
Contrary to Bong-gil’s opinion, the female instructor looks intently at Eun-seok and says that he does possess a feel for the dance.
Sitting at home in lieu of going to class, Ji-wook idly flips through TV channels until he comes across the movie Scent of a Woman and its famous tango sequence, wherein Al Pacino dances skillfully despite his blindness.
So Ji-wook gets up and closes his eyes as he walks through the steps in his living room, his arms held up to lead an imaginary partner.
Then he imagines Yeon-jae stepping into his arms, and dances with his image of her for the rest of the song. It winds to a finish and he opens his eyes, alone again. He looks so bereft at the loss that it breaks your heart a little.
Eun-seok and Yeon-jae leave dance class in pleasant spirits, and she sees him off as he takes a cab home. He twists around in his seat to look back at her, which is adorable and heart-tugging. Aw.
Yeon-jae receives a notice from the court, which she takes to the legal aid center for interpretation. It’s a notice of arbitration because the judge has deemed that the claim for 300 million won is too high. However, this isn’t strictly good news; the lawyer tells her that it means the judge finds her partially responsible, which means it’s safer to settle, even if she has to pay 100 million won. It’s better than the amount she might have to pay if she loses the case at trial.
Another chaebol dinner is called by the oblivious fathers, who think all is going swimmingly with their spawn. Sae-kyung tells her father that Ji-wook doesn’t find her company enjoyable, so she plans to match his interests better from now on.
Sae-kyung takes a call at the table and learns of the arbitration. She declares that she has no intention of negotiating, pointedly looking at Ji-wook as she says she’ll see this through to the bitter end.
After the parents leave, Sae-kyung suggests continuing their date. Per her declaration that she’ll match his tastes, she suggests a gag concert (which she’d previously rejected as lowbrow), or a common date walking down the street eating ice cream. Sae-kyung has this massively infuriating habit of saying things with a sweet overtone that are actually barbs; this is one example, saying she’ll do what he wants while simultaneously mocking it.
Ji-wook tells her there’s no reason to take the suit to such extremes, considering she’s a gajillionaire who doesn’t need the money. She tells him that since he has such an interest in this case, he’s free to try meddling while her lawyers crush her opponent: “Does that seem like fun to you?” Not as fun as it would be to see you crushed, princess. And I mean crushed, literally. A nice big rock oughtta do it.
Sae-kyung’s secretary, Mr. Ex-Creepy, notes that she seems particularly sensitive these days. She sighs, and even wonders if she’s taking out her anger over her gold-digging ex-boyfriend on Yeon-jae instead. Wow, a moment of insight from Pissy Princess? Maybe there’s hope for you yet. You know, way, way, waaaaaay off in the future. I still want you to suffer, ideally accompanied by heaps of humiliation — but maybe I might be willing to wish you some peace at the end of it. It’s a big if.
Yeon-jae continues leaving messages for Wilson with increasing desperation, and finally gets through to his manager/assistant. She asks whether the ring in the photo is the one Wilson had lost, but the manager tells her coolly that an identical ring was made to replace it. He asks her not to call again, and defeated, Yeon-jae hangs up.
The manager turns to Wilson, who has been sitting nearby nervously, and suggests that Wilson come clean about the truth. Wilson bursts out in a fit of embarrassment and pride, saying he can’t apologize now and admit the ring he’d been so angry about was, in fact, stuck to his ass the whole time. Ha. Well, he has a point about it being mortifying.
Hopes crushed, Yeon-jae sits in the lobby of the Line Tour office. Ji-wook takes a step in her direction, but stops when her friend Hye-won joins her, all worry.
Yeon-jae tearily says that she may have to pay the 100 million won, which she’d scrimped and saved for the past decade to collect. Bitter with indignation, she cries as she says she’d never once pinned her hopes on winning the lottery or scoring a rich man, just worked steadily on her own. Given all that, “Shouldn’t I at least be able to live?” She breaks down into sobs while Hye-won gathers her in a comforting hug.
Ji-wook redoubles his efforts to find evidence to support Yeon-jae’s innocence, though it’s a daunting task. But smart Sang-woo (God bless Sang-woo, who I like more and more with every episode) has compiled a few photos featuring Wilson wearing the ring at a couple concerts, the latest one from this month.
Ji-wook gets on the phone and calls Wilson, whose nervous guilt makes him burst out, “What is with you people?! Do you have any proof that it’s the same ring? It’s a new ring!” Way to give yourself away, buddy. Ji-wook gets Wilson to say that the same famed jeweler made both rings, then catches him in the lie because the guy died last year.
Wilson gasps, “Oh my god,” and hangs up on him to avoid explanation. HAHAHA. He’s got the emotional maturity of a six-year-old. At least this supports Ji-wook’s suspicion that Wilson didn’t lose the ring, and he schedules a flight to Sydney.
Yeon-jae asks her mother if she’d ever remarry, not wanting to leave her mother alone upon her death. Mom says she has no reason to, since marriage at her age would just mean she’d have to cook and clean for someone else. Yeon-jae points out that it’s nice to have someone around to help you through the hard times, and urges Mom to think about dating.
Arbitration day rolls around, and Yeon-jae enters the room with heavy heart. The judge urges both sides to settle upon 100 million won, rather than dragging this to trial. Yeon-jae argues that there’s no evidence that she stole, but Sae-kyung’s lawyers are here to play hardball and they take the ad hominem attack route, painting her as a bad employee. They even point out that she took a personal day off from work the day after the ring debacle — to be diagnosed for terminal cancer, assholes — and the message is clear that they’re prepared for a smear campaign.
Sae-kyung tells the judge prettily that Yeon-jae never once expressed apologies for causing the uproar, and that she only initiated the suit because she didn’t see any remorse from her. However, if Yeon-jae were to apologize and acknowledge her wrongdoing, she will agree to settle.
And so Yeon-jae sits there, feeling unfairly backed into a corner and pressed for a response — just as the door opens.
Wilson steps through and tells the judge that this gathering is unnecessary: “You see, I never lost my ring.”
Now for some satisfying awkwardness: Wilson sits at a cafe with Yeon-jae, nervously looking everywhere but at her and babbling to cover up his guilt. Yeon-jae looks at him resentfully while he rambles about long flights and tea, until she asks accusingly, “How could you do this to me?”
Wilson fumbles for excuses, which are all the flimsier for the fact that he knows how wrong he was. Finally, he says quietly, “I’m sorry. I apologize. I mean it.”
But that’s inadequate, and she tells him all he had to do was say the truth, which gets him saying defensively that he’s been wracked with nerves since then. He even goes so far as to make it about him: “Do you know how painful it was for me?”
Yeon-jae wonders what prompted him to change his mind and return to Korea. He mutters, “Because that jerk threatened me. Bastard.” Ha. Yeon-jae is shocked to hear Wilson’s story of how Ji-wook tricked him — it turns out that jeweler Jacques isn’t even dead — and flew to Sydney to bring him back.
That night, Yeon-jae walks to Ji-wook’s home bearing a gift, only to be beat to the punch by Sae-kyung, who pulls up in her car just ahead of her. Yeon-jae turns around, fruit basket in hand, and goes home.
Sae-kyung gets right to the point, telling him she knows he went to Sydney, informing him that she was made a laughingstock at court today. (Ah, such satisfying words.) She asks point-blank if he’s interested in Yeon-jae, and wonders if he’s been seeing her all this time.
Ji-wook admits that Yeon-jae had “bothered his mind” — a saying often used as a precursor to a confession of interest, when a person preoccupies your thoughts — and asks, “Have you ever been poor?” So poor that she didn’t know what she’d eat tonight?
Sae-kyung scoffs, “And you have?” He replies, “If you were going to have me investigated, you ought to have done it properly, and seen what kind of past I lived.” Huh. Interesting. So Ji-wook isn’t quite the spoiled pretty boy he seems?
She asks if he plans to continue to be “bothered” by Yeon-jae, and he retorts that her lawsuit was actually the reason he was so preoccupied: “Now that the lawsuit is over, I won’t have cause to be bothered anymore.”
Yeon-jae visits Sae-kyung’s office, sits down, and asks straight out, “How are you going to apologize?” Booyah. I do love her frankness. With a glare, Sae-kyung places an envelope on the table, and Yeon-jae comments that she’s so predictable. Sae-kyung snits that Yeon-jae is, too, supposing she’s here to demand an apology, delivered on her knees.
Yeon-jae surprises her by saying no: “What would I do with an apology that has not even a fingertip’s worth of sincerity in it? Even money’s better than that.” She takes the envelope.
Sae-kyung twists Ji-wook’s words from the night before and says that he’d told her he was bothered by his pity for poor, penniless Yeon-jae. So now she won’t have to seek him out using money as her excuse.
Yeon-jae: “I was planning to let things go at this point because I hate the idea of being connected to you any longer. But that won’t do.”
Sae-kyung: “And what will you do about that?”
Yeon-jae: “I’m going to take revenge on you. If I don’t, I’ll feel so wronged I won’t be able to die.”
Sae-kyung: “Do you think you have that kind of strength?”
Yeon-jae: “You don’t know what kind of strength I have.”
Wilson leaves the hotel to head for the airport, and gives Ji-wook the request to pass along a gift to Yeon-jae, having forgotten to do it when he’d seen her. Ji-wook declines, saying he doesn’t want her to know of his involvement in this matter. Wilson says he told her everything yesterday, to which Ji-wook says exasperatedly, “Why did you do that?!”
Wilson has his number, though, and says that it’s obvious Ji-wook did everything to win Yeon-jae’s favor. He tells him that Yeon-jae’s a good woman and wishes him well with her.
Ji-wook contemplates the gift, which turns out to be Wilson’s own ring, the source of all this craziness. Well, as far as apologies go, at least it’s a pretty big gesture from the neurotic pianist who used to insist he couldn’t perform without it.
Wilson’s parting words stick with him: “You’ll see her anyway, since she’ll be coming around to thank you.” Wondering when that’ll happen, Ji-wook scrolls through his cell phone log of recent calls to confirm that he hasn’t somehow missed a call, then tosses it aside when her name isn’t there. He perks up when his phone rings — then deflates to see Sae-kyung’s name.
Arg, I hate the way she’s so good at using the truth, twisted slightly, to further her own agenda: She tells Ji-wook that Yeon-jae came looking for her today demanding money, which she provided.
Yeon-jae does contemplate calling Ji-wook, but the memory of Sae-kyung keeps her from doing it. Instead, she puts the money to good use by donating it to the hospital, to be used for patients who can’t afford treatment.
She explains this to Eun-seok at the hospital, giving him the vague story about coming into some money recently in exchange for enduring a slap to the face and a lot of grief at the hands of a spoiled chaebol.
Eun-seok asks Yeon-jae hesitantly to be his partner for his tango performance, and quickly accepts her denial when she says she’s not good enough to perform. But she changes her mind and figures she could give it a shot — as long as she gets a favor in return.
Still waiting for Yeon-jae to contact him, Ji-wook checks with his secretary to confirm that he’s up to date on his calls. He almost calls her himself, but decides to try the indirect route first by asking Bong-gil about tango class. Only because he felt bad about depriving the class of a male partner, of course. Uh huh. Sure.
Bong-gil assures him that the class is fine, since Yeon-jae brought in “Schweitzer” (in reference to the famous doctor), her clean-cut childhood classmate who dances well. Hee. Immediately Ji-wook guesses who this is — thinking back to the fanmeeting — and confirms that the guy’s a doctor, wears glasses, and has slanty eyes. HA.
Ji-wook and Sang-woo head to an upscale hotel for a business meeting… just as Yeon-jae arrives with her mother for a blind date. Ha, I love the reversal, given how Mom ambushed her with that dating service appointment early on. Now it’s Mom’s turn to fidget, and Yeon-jae gives her the code word: If she likes him, it’s grape. If she doesn’t, it’s orange.
Eun-seok has brought a sunbae, but he’s the one fidgeting anxiously as he waits. When he catches a glimpse of Yeon-jae, his jaw literally drops and his heart pounds. Aw, it’s so sweet.
The older couple hits it off right away, and Mom gives Yeon-jae a few kicks to send her on her way. Yeon-jae had arranged the double date to relieve the pressure from the older couple, but now she figures she didn’t need to bother and apologizes for dragging Eun-seok along. If only she knew…
As they wait for the elevator, she gets the text from Mom indicating that the date is a success, and excitedly tells Eun-seok the good news. She’s so thrilled that she doesn’t notice that the elevator has stopped and awaits new passengers.
Ji-wook notices her before she notices him, taking in the friendly familiarity between her and Eun-seok. He asks coldly if she’s getting in, and her emotions plummet swiftly from happiness to uneasy dread.
The elevator ride is quiet and fraught with tension, as Ji-wook thinks back to the fanmeeting and Eun-seok’s first-love story. Eun-seok is oblivious and tells her, “It’s a relief that your mother likes [him].” But the object of that sentence is implied, so it’s natural for Ji-wook to assume that Eun-seok means himself. Given their formal attire and meeting in a hotel, the likely presumption is that the couple has just come from meeting Mom, who approves of the boyfriend. A serious boyfriend, at that, one who’s thinking of marrying her.
Yeon-jae remains acutely aware of Ji-wook’s presence behind her as they walk out, even as they make no sign of acquaintance. Finally, Ji-wook calls out her name, forcing her to stop and explain to Eun-seok that he’s her old boss.
Ji-wook and Yeon-jae step aside, and he takes her to task for not bothering to thank him, accusing her of being mercenary based on her immediate demands of money. She doesn’t contradict him, and challenges: “Why? Is there something wrong with that?”
Ji-wook: “So you took that money and came here? You weren’t the kind of person who could afford to come to places like this. After you’d come begging me when you needed every penny—”
Eun-seok cuts in to tell him to knock it off. He’s put enough of the story together to guess, “Are you the one who slapped her face and accused her of being a thief? That money she got from you—”
Yeon-jae asks him to stop before he can finish. Murmuring a perfunctory goodbye, she pulls Eun-seok along. Ji-wook stands there for a few long moments, then makes the decision to follow, stalking outside to catch up.
He stops at a distance, and hears Eun-seok asking why Yeon-jae didn’t clear up the misunderstanding, why she didn’t explain what she did with the money.
Yeon-jae tearily admits, “I went to his house, because I wanted to thank him. No, I was using that as an excuse, because I wanted to see his face again. But I couldn’t do it. I wanted to see him, but I had to turn back.”
Ohhh, poor Poopy-seok. And I so wanted you to win your love and be happy forever with your ill-trained dog.
Eun-seok gets her implication, but asks to make it clear, “What do you mean by that? Do you…like that man?”
Yeon-jae: “I wish I didn’t like him, but I can’t help it. I like him so much.”
Aww, I knew Poopy-seok was headed for heartbreak, but it didn’t keep me from wishing him happiness anyway. And now he’s stuck with a mangy mutt that eats his pillows and makes him sneeze, while the love of his life — who’s dying — just professed her feelings for that rich asshole. If there’s any consolation, at least he’s the better dancer?
As I mentioned, the show manages to stay completely engaging despite what we know is coming down the line. It’s the dilemma of all trendy dramas, to keep viewers entertained while working within such a conventional formula. But even within these fixed parameters of boy-meets-girl, boy-fights-with-girl (and fights, and fights, and fights), boy-wins-girl, boy-fights-fate-for-girl, it’s a skill to be able to draw out the emotions in credible, relatable ways.
For example, it’s one thing to tell us that these characters are falling for each other, but it’s quite a feat to make our emotions regarding the hero mirror the heroine’s, and developing on the same timetable. I feel as conflicted about Ji-wook as Yeon-jae does, finding him incredibly arrogant and off-putting, wanting him to suffer, and yet being drawn to him all the same and ultimately wanting him to overcome his own conflict about his feelings. I want Ji-wook to grovel at her feet, at the same time that I want him to be happy. Which sort of conflicts with my whole Eun-seok love, which just kills me. Ack! Why can’t everyone just be happy?