Scent of a Woman: Episode 13
Thank heaven for the end to the whole noble sacrifice nonsense, because the drama has started to get weighed down with all the tears and angst. I know it’s a drama about a dying woman, but what made Scent of a Woman so delightful, so apart from the norm, was its light, refreshing touch. We all know what the traditional cancer melodrama would bring, so it was a lovely change to see a drama take on the subject without taking the expected route. I’d love us to go back to that, please.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Sora & Kim Min-jong – “우리 다시.” This is the song sung in the duet in today’s episode. The title literally means “us again” but it carries the connotation of starting over. [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Ji-wook crashes his car to intercept the car headed for Yeon-jae, and this knocks her out of her stupor.
This also marks a key point in Ji-wook’s outlook, where he goes from feeling anger and betrayal over her lie to charging to her rescue. It comes at a key time when Yeon-jae is feeling so low that she’s wishing for her own death, making this a significant intersection of their viewpoints: No longer is she just a ticking clock with a deadline, but she’s a life worth saving, even though she’s already dying. It’s a meaningful way to show her that she’s more than her cancer — and despite a limited lifespan, hers is as worth living as anybody else’s. I do sort of love that he’s the one who shows her this, and it brings him into a complete 180.
The camera spins as it closes in on Yeon-jae at the hospital, mirroring her feeling of the world spinning all askew. She waits as Ji-wook is examined, and gets the word that he’ll be fine. He has minor injuries, but has escaped brain damage.
His first words upon seeing her in his room are, “Are you okay?” Yeon-jae asks why he intervened, reminding him that she only has a few months left to live anyway. He tells her, “I wanted to see you. I want to see you. It doesn’t matter how many months, or days. The moment of the accident, I knew it without a doubt. Without you, I’m not happy.”
His words make her think back to her father in his last days, who’d told her gravely that he was sorry not to be able to stay with her for long time. While he was feeling the burden of guilt, Teenage Yeon-jae had told him cheerily, “Then treat me well while you can.”
The next time Ji-wook awakens, he calls out hoping for Yeon-jae, and finds Sae-kyung and his father instead. Sae-kyung takes him home, sees that he’s in pain, and offers to cook something so he can take his pain meds. He tells her, however, that he can’t do this — that the accident confirmed how he feels about Yeon-jae.
Sae-kyung assumes he’s in the lingering-attachment phase of a breakup and says that she understands that it will take time to get over his feelings. Ji-wook tells her that these aren’t feelings that he will get over, and although she seems to recognize that there’s new conviction in his voice, she still refuses to accept his answer, acting like he’ll change his mind in time.
To her surprise, Yeon-jae receives a call from her old teacher, and arranges to meet him. On her way out, she pauses to see her mother and decides to come clean to her, finally admitting the truth.
She explains how her comments had been twisted into rumors that he’d sexually harassed her, and because she’d hated him so much, she’d kept quiet. Well, I suppose lying by omission is a hair better than accusing outright, although I can’t really defend her since she did confirm the rumors to her teacher.
To her shock, though, Mom just nods calmly and says, “I know.” The teacher had told her what happened, and was actually quite generous in his understanding of Yeon-jae’s feelings, saying that she must have been terribly upset to be driven to such a lie. He had decided that if he went away, the problem would be solved. Aw. I wonder if that makes Yeon-jae feel better, or worse: there’s relief that he understood her, and guilt that she wronged a decent man who really, really didn’t deserve such treatment.
She sits with him at his bakery, and he tells her that a decade ago, he used to imagine daily that she would come to find him, so that he could tell her it was okay. But she never came, so he told himself to forget it — so when she appeared out of nowhere, he wasn’t ready to face her.
She supposes that he must have resented her all these years, but he says he hated himself more, because it had been his choice. He’d thought back then that sacrificing in the name of a loved one was a noble act — but he was wrong. (Well, thank heavens for somebody in K-dramaland recognizing that noble idiocy is more idiocy than noble!) He admits that he hasn’t been “able to be happy” in all these years (as in, he never fell in love again), and if he’d had it to do over again, he would have weathered her hate to be with her mother, and with her.
Aw, it’s sweet that her bucket list has for the first time led to a greater gift for someone she loves, because teacher man will likely reconnect with Mom now. Leaving Mom, we know, was one of Yeon-jae’s biggest concerns; perhaps this will encourage her to reveal the truth about her cancer.
It’s only now that Yeon-jin finally comes to a moment of realization as she recalls Ji-wook’s confessions of love. She heads to his house, where he’s just discovered the plant that has been transferred to his front yard by the housekeeper (whom he’d told to take the plant out of his sight).
When he turns and sees her, they stand there for a long moment, staring at each other, the gate between them.
She tells him, “I’d forgotten momentarily. After being diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a bucket list. It wasn’t just so I could do things I hadn’t done before. It was because I’d lived all this time without much thought, and that time felt wasted — so I wanted to spend my time with value, with meaning. Happily. That way, I might not feel regrets. But it seemed like that was making you too unhappy, that I was being too selfish to you, and that pained me.”
Ji-wook tells her, “The moment of the accident, I had this thought: I might die before you. Tonight, I might have a heart attack. Tomorrow morning, I might be in a car accident. When that moment comes, I’d regret it — why hadn’t I held onto Lee Yeon-jae?”
She agrees: “When that moment comes, I’d probably feel regret too — why hadn’t I stayed with Kang Ji-wook?”
He opens the gate, and she steps inside. Holding her, he says, “Thank you so, so much for coming.”
The next day, Eun-seok arrives at the hospital to find Ji-wook waiting for him, wanting to know Yeon-jae’s condition in detail. Eun-seok tells him about her initial six-month diagnosis, but because of the tumor growth, she now has about three or four months.
Ji-wook struggles to accept the information, and Eun-seok tells him that what Yeon-jae needs most right now is Ji-wook, who can do more for her than he can do as doctor.
Afterward, Eun-seok calls Yeon-jae to fill her in, informing her Ji-wook has been by. It’s so sad how it hurts Eun-seok to say that he’s glad she has Ji-wook with her, even as he means what he says.
Ji-wook comes over to pick Yeon-jae up, having taken a few days off work. She invites him in and prepares some fruit for her guest, and when she checks on him, he’s asleep on her bed. Or pretending to sleep, at least — he stretches out an arm, an invitation for her to join him. She cautiously complies, lying stiffly next to him on the bed.
I love the disgruntled look on his face, as if to say, “That’s it?!” So he turns and arranges her to his satisfaction, bringing her close and holding tight.
Eun-seok’s doctor colleague joins him outside and comments on his recent rise in popularity. Eun-seok’s lost in thought, though, and wonders why he chose his field, when “There’s nothing I can do for her.” Even despite treating the cancer, he’s just gotta watch her die. His buddy tells him that’s the fate of doctors like them.
His day doesn’t get any better, with Hee-joo begging him to call her father to assure that a plane ride to the Philippines is fine in her condition. Her father thinks it’s too dangerous but has agreed to let her if the doctor agrees — but Eun-seok can’t consent to it, citing the dangers.
Hee-joo cries and pleads, saying she has to see her mother, who can’t come to Korea for some reason, and that she might die without seeing her. Eun-seok isn’t immune to her pleas, but he can’t in good conscience give his approval. Hee-joo bursts out, “I hate you!” and storms off.
The Line Tour planning team goes out for dinner to celebrate their successful Wando tour package. The mood is great, though it quiets when Ji-wook proposes inviting Yeon-jae to join them, since it was her idea and all. Nobody likes this (except a happy Hye-won), but they can’t contradict the boss, either.
Yeon-jae joins them at the bar and trades little smiles with Ji-wook, who hilariously wonders why nobody’s asking him to sing while everyone else takes turns. That, of course, starts the rally for him to sing, and he says modestly, “Well, if you want me to so much…”
He takes the mike and says that this is a song he’d been wanting to sing for a woman when he fell in love. Aw, was this whole night just an excuse to sing her a love song? And then, in front of everyone, he calls out to Yeon-jae, telling her to join him.
Everyone is agog (except Hye-won, who’s loving this, adorably), and he takes Yeon-jae by the hand and leads her to the stage.
It’s “Us Again,” the song posted up top:
From amongst so many people, I had to find you
Take my outstretched hand
In this difficult time, I had to meet you
All I have are poor memories, hold me
Even without speaking,
even without knowing everything,
I can feel it
With love, even without speaking,
just looking at each other,
We can be as one
Even with the pain after we part ways
I am far away
Accept me into your heart
The sadness still lingers
I can forget you
I can become a new me
We can believe, our two souls
Wherever you are, even if we’re apart,
My heart is the same
That night, Yeon-jae looks over her bucket list, which she’s taped back together, and reveals another entry: To sing a duet with the man she loves. Ji-wook flips through his cell phone, with which he has taken photos of every item on her list. Gah, he may have been a jerk in denial, but he is just the sweetest boyfriend.
She gets to mark off two entries today, because her teacher has also forgiven her. She returns to his bakery to give him the address of the store where her mother works, and also her tacit approval.
She heads to the hospital to meet with the chief of Eun-seok’s department, who thanks her for her contribution and wants to treat her to dinner. She declines the meal but accepts his gratitude.
She thanks Eun-seok for his help in getting her teacher’s forgiveness, but confides that she hasn’t worked up the nerve to tell her mother yet. Eun-seok tells her with a gentle smile that she’ll work it out, that she shouldn’t feel too bad because it’s not like being sick is a crime.
What makes his love for her both touching and painful is that he doesn’t place any burden on her because of it; he puts on a smile for her benefit, and doesn’t betray his own hurt until she’s gone.
But all Hee-joo needs is one look to guess that he likes Yeon-jae, which she’s both happy to guess correctly and disappointed since she likes him. Hee-joo’s back to her usual cheerful self, and tells Eun-seok that her mother ended up coming to Korea after all, and that they’ve been having a good time together. Sheepishly admitting that she’d gone overboard last time, she says she wanted to fill him in on the turn of events.
Eun-seok’s boss gives him the news that he may be able to go to the American cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson, after all. He offers to take on all of Eun-seok’s current patients, telling him this is a great opportunity — but faced with the prospect of not being able to be with Yeon-jae till the end, Eun-seok asks for time to think it over.
The Line Tour ladies gossip about how unbelievable it is that their hot supervisor is dating Yeon-jae, she of the (former) corkscrew curls and glasses. The company president overhears this and demands the full story, then reports this outrage to Chairman Kang. He points to the recent kerfuffle with Seojin Cards, guessing correctly that the broken engagement was to blame for it. He warns the chairman that if Ji-wook’s relationship ruins things for the company, he won’t take this lying down.
Dad calls in his secretary and orders him to look into Yeon-jae’s background, specifically asking for “weaknesses.” Gah, you’re really going for the hateful parent award, aren’t you?
Ji-wook surrounds himself with books, and gets to studying recipes that are good for cancer patients. It’s adorable. He settles on a dish with brown rice, then gapes at the time — it takes 4 hours — and pushes back their date for the night.
Sae-kyung requests to meet Yeon-jae and asks if she still means what she said about encouraging Sae-kyung to date Ji-wook. Yeon-jae does feel bad about changing her tune, and says regretfully, “You and I must really be ill-fated.” Understanding what that means, Sae-kyung flings her cup of water in Yeon-jae’s face. Because rich people apparently have never learned how to express emotions in acceptable ways.
Yeon-jae says there are reasons for her change of heart, but Sae-kyung can’t possibly fathom what kind of reason would explain it. She feels humiliated by the two, and warns Yeon-jae that she won’t stand idly by.
Ji-wook is busily preparing dinner when he receives an unexpected guest in the form of his angry father, who sees the dinner table and figures it’s for Yeon-jae. He flings the tray out of Ji-wook’s hands and goes to overturn the rest of the table, because again, rich people like to throw their food, apparently. Ji-wook dashes in and holds him back, more concerned for the food, and earns a slap to the face for his trouble. Good lord, what is it with the slap-happy in this drama?
Dad orders Ji-wook to break up with her immediately, but Ji-wook says that he can’t. Dad argues that the woman has cancer — his dirt-digging minions are swift — and yells that he can’t ruin his life over someone who’s going to die in a few months.
Ji-wook entreats his father, “Because of her, I’m happy.” Dad challenges, “What about when she dies?” He says he won’t stand to see his only son turn into a wretched mess when that happens. Ji-wook hasn’t really had time to think this over, but he hurriedly says he won’t be like that. Dad doesn’t believe him, pointing out how he was after his mother died.
Dad declares that if Ji-wook won’t end it, then he’ll make the woman end it. Oh please, not this song and dance again. Ji-wook grabs his father’s leg and pleads, sobbing, for Dad not to hurt Yeon-jae.
Yeon-jae arrives soon afterward, and finds Ji-wook still hunched over on the ground, the dinner spilled everywhere.
She wipes tears from his eyes, and he pulls her close in a kiss. They move to the bed, both of them shedding tears as they kiss, and the scene fades to black.
In the morning, they awaken in each other’s arms.
When Yeon-jae arrives home, Mom is waiting up, fuming in her worry and having stayed up all night wondering where she’s been. Yeon-jae mumbles that she was “with someone,” and Mom guesses it was a man: “Red car?”
Hilariously, she reacts in the opposite way that most Korean parents of a single woman would, because this completely dissipates her anger and she squeals in delight: “I knew it! Oh, you naughty girl! I told you he liked you!”
I know Mom can be a trial of patience, but her reaction totally endears her to me: Immediately she starts calculating, figuring that if Yeon-jae marries this year and has a child right away, she’ll be 35 years old… which is too old: “No, you’d better make an accident first.” Ha! She’s like backwards mom.
Sae-kyung meets with Chairman Kang to deliver her decision to dissolve the partnership between their companies, and to take back the investment funds they had offered to enable Line Tours’ expansion into the US market. Geezus, the people in this drama sure do make business decisions with mercurial temperaments — it’s amazing they ever got to their current positions of wealth if they’re so weak to acting based on pique and emotion.
Chairman Kang has expected as much, which confirms to Sae-kyung that he knew about the relationship — even as he pushed Sae-kyung to marry Ji-wook. She takes this as personal insult, and he has nothing to say. She declares that she’s going to retaliate — to Yeon-jae, Ji-wook, and the chairman.
But now Chairman Kang speaks: “She has cancer.”
Next, he calls Ji-wook in to tell him to prepare to be transferred to New York, to oversee the company’s US launch for the next year or two. He won’t insist on his marriage, and orders him not as father but as the company chairman.
Ji-wook says he won’t go, but Dad won’t hear it.
Mom is happily dreaming of marrying off Yeon-jae when a guest walks in: Yeon-jae’s old teacher. He merely says he happened to be in the neighborhood, and rather than dwelling on talk of the old days, he gets her phone number and promises to call. Aw, ajusshi’s still got moves.
Ji-wook submits his resignation to his father with cool resolve, saying that now he won’t have to go to New York — and for that matter, going to work every day eats up valuable time: “We don’t have much time left.”
Mom finds herself checking her phone all day, and finally the call comes. Flustered, she lies to Yeon-jae that it’s her friend, but Yeon-jae guesses what the call is and smiles. Mom excuses herself to take the call, wherein Teacher Kim gets right to the point, asking her out to dinner and a movie.
And then, ruining the mood is an unexpected visitor. Yeon-jae opens the door, and in steps a stern Chairman Kang, ruiner of all happiness.
Groaaaaan. I am not looking forward to whatever parental nonsense Chairman Kang is concocting, because frankly I was tired of the chaebols’ meddling from, oh, Episode 1. I understand the trickiness of breaking off an engagement last-minute, but I do tire of the whole pearl-clutchy outrage over Ji-wook’s refusal to marry Sae-kyung. A woman he has never loved, who doesn’t love him back, in a relationship that was out the outset understood to be arranged more for business reasons than anything.
I understand Sae-kyung’s hurt pride and bruised ego at being passed over for Yeon-jae, but her determination to stick with Ji-wook is starting to get ridiculous. When she thinks they’re marrying, she’s all concern and sympathy. The moment things change, she’s vowing all sorts of retaliation. Frankly, that’s a woman you don’t want on your side even on a good day, because she can turn on you on a dime.
She’s not as bad an antagonist as Dad, though, who is starting to sound downright unhinged in his meddling ways. Seriously, Dad? You need to micromanage and control your son’s life that much? Are you sure you don’t just want a robo-puppy? They sell those online now. I’d started to feel like this episode was showing us light at the end of the angst tunnel, only to find the end of the episode bringing us to a second tunnel. I’d rather watch Yeon-jae live out the remainder of her life and fulfill her bucket list, not see a repeat of early episodes with the rich and powerful throwing around their weight to make her life hell. ‘Cause, a hint for you guys: That life doesn’t need any more heartbreak, thanks. She’s drowning in it already.
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 12
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 11
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 10
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 9
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 8
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 7
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 6
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 5
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 4
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 3
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 2
- Scent of a Woman: Episode 1