I already loved this drama, but this episode took it up a notch. It’s the first one where I feel like it does something clever and meaningful thematically and humorously at the same time. It takes one metaphor and weaves it through every possible meaning, joke, and insult, to deliver one satisfying comeuppance after another. And boy, is it just the beginning for sweet, sweet vengeance.
EPISODE 4: “Scent of a Man”
We backtrack a little to see that Chi-soo stopped by the ramyun store earlier, and saw Eun-bi calling out to her imaginary selves walking out on Dad, “Don’t go! Don’t go!” He leaves and then starts to cry, because it reminds him of Mom, clutching a photo and crying the same way.
He u-turns it back to the shop, (as heroes are required to do) and returns to Eun-bi, only this time he’s too late. His jaw drops to see Kang-hyuk comforting her, and his face twists to see her smiling in the comfort of his arms. Aw.
Chi-soo walks away, now angry at the tears he’s spilled, wiping them away and tossing his handkerchief on the ground.
He ends up lost in thought at Cha Coffee where his friend Hyun-woo works. (And it’s tripping me up that it’s the same café chain as the one where he had all his invisible Scheduler run-ins.) He asks if Intern Teach is a married woman, and Hyun-woo says no, she doesn’t even have a boyfriend.
He asks Hyun-woo: if someone’s someone-someone dies, and THAT someone’s someone is crying and hugging someone ELSE, then what is that someone to the other someone? LOL.
He finally spells it out – that Intern Teach’s dad died, and she was crying in the arms of another man. So… what’s it mean? (I do love that he overanalyzes as much as she does. It gives me that extra self-satisfied feeling.)
Hyun-woo thinks that it’s not so much a question of what they are to each other, but the situation that matters. “Perhaps he was just comforting her.” Chi-soo looks stunned at this new word he’s never heard before. He struggles to repeat it, “C…com-fort…?”
Eun-bi gets ready for work at Dad’s house in the morning, stopping at the sight of his worn toothbrush in the bathroom. She braces herself to face the principal for hitting Chi-soo via volleyball, and walks out.
What she fails to notice is that there’s someone sleeping under her stairs. She finds a stray sock lying on the ground outside the door, and picks it up. She bravely takes a whiff, screwing up her nose in horror, “Dad?!”
Just then, Kang-hyuk stirs awake under the staircase, having fallen asleep clutching a photograph of Eun-bi. So cute. I love that he’s so enamored of her. I’m guessing the sock is his, and how much do you wanna bet that he slept there because he was too lazy to go UP the stairs?
Chi-soo’s morning is quite different, as a personal attendant helps him dress, put on his accessories, and spritz his cologne. He interrupts one of Dad’s meetings that morning, (A plan to open a new fusion restaurant with a star chef from Le Cordon Bleu with a very Japanese-sounding name, which I’m guessing is a reference to Kang-hyuk.)
He asks Dad what he should do to comfort someone, still saying it like a foreign word. He explains that it’s for someone whose family member died, and one of the suits pipes up that he should provide money and a large flower arrangement.
Chi-soo says no, not like that, but is there something he could do by way of action, or words? Whaaa? Is he… maturing? Another suit chimes in: Oh, then you should give double the money and an arrangement twice as large. Chi-soo: “Okay!” Hahaha. So much for personal growth.
Eun-bi is stopped in her tracks again, this time by a handkerchief lying in her path. She picks it up curiously, and sniffs it too. Immediately, she exclaims, “Cha Chi-soo?!” She holds up the sock in one hand, and the handkerchief in the other, staring back and forth.
I love that the episode’s title is ‘scent of a man’ in the literal sense, as she ponders between the two smells that represent the men in her life. Up on the roof, Kang-hyuk wakes up and waves down at her, but she doesn’t see him.
She sits in the coffee shop, and in walks So-yi with her friends. She sits down with Eun-bi to apologize for the way Chi-soo acted yesterday. Eun-bi looks at her curiously, wondering why she’s apologizing for something Chi-soo did. She muses that apologies sure come easily to her.
So-yi catches onto the bad vibes (mostly incredulity) and asks if she did anything wrong. Eun-bi doesn’t hedge and says that yeah, the way she treated Ba-wool doesn’t sit well with her, and neither does the swift apology in Chi-soo’s place. She says that when she sees So-yi and Chi-soo, she worries about the future. Of the human race? Yeah, I would too, if they were the only ones left. Thankfully, not the case.
Eun-bi says that it seems like they don’t know right from wrong. So-yi gives that creepy blank smile that she always does, and counters saucily that Teacher should’ve become a cop instead then. She points out that she probably chose to be a teacher for stability and income, and likewise, that’s why she likes being with Chi-soo, because he “makes things easy.” Oh, dear. And here I thought you were just mindlessly doing what you felt like in the moment. But you’re actively letting yourself be bought? I need a shower.
At school, Eun-bi heads into the principal’s office, where she’s told to sign a series of documents admitting fault, and then the last one indicates that she has to apologize to Chi-soo for “humiliating” him. The wording has to be exact, apparently, to satisfy the conditions of her reinstatement.
Meanwhile, Chi-soo asks brainy friend Hyun-woo to fix his money envelope, where he’s just written “comfort” in regular hangul, and Hyun-woo crosses it out and writes the proper Chinese characters. He stuffs it with cash and smiles in anticipation. It’s cute that he’s genuinely excited by the idea of giving her comfort, despite everything about his method being wrong, wrong, wrong.
Eun-bi meets him in the hallway, ready to swallow her pride and apologize for embarrassing him. But then he hands her the envelope first. She asks what it is, and he tells her to take it, waiting for the big thank you with an expectant smile on his face.
She opens it, still not registering why there’s stacks of bills inside, and he explains that it’s because her dad died, and to consider it a subsidy (basically like financial aid for the needy). He proudly adds the word “comfort,” to explain what it’s for. I’m cringing for him right now.
She takes a deep breath, and decides not to lose her temper. She tells him nicely to take it back. Surprised, he asks why, and then realizes that he probably didn’t put ENOUGH money inside, and takes out another stack of bills. Oh no. That grave you’re digging just got deeper.
He starts counting more bills, as Eun-bi puts her hand over her heart and tries to tamp down her anger. She flashes back to So-yi’s ridiculous words, and tries to eke out an apology to save her job.
She starts to get the words out haltingly, “For humiliating you… sorry…” But then she flashes back to Dad’s words about listening to your heart, so that even if you have less, you can hold your head high.
She looks down at the envelope and finishes her sentence: “…sorry? Yeah right!” She slaps him across the face, envelope in hand. So. Awesome. The money goes flying, and boys flood the halls.
Leaving the envelope stuck to his face, Eun-bi corrects him that when you’re speaking of an elder, it’s “passed away,” not “died.” She whirls around to walk away. Chi-soo fumes silently, and then screams out, “Intern! Stop right there!”
He yanks the envelope off, leaving a black imprint on his face from the word “comfort” that he wrote on it. There’s something about that detail that I just love. He tells her that once might have been a warning, but twice is worthy of being fired, and she beats him to the punch.
Yanking her nametag off, she declares that he won’t get the chance because she’s quitting. She throws it on the ground. Genuinely confused, Chi-soo demands to know why she’s doing this. “I accepted your apology and gave you comfort! So then why…”
Eun-bi: “Why did I hit you again? Are you only NOW curious as to why you got hit?” He screams that he has to know the reason right now. She leans in close, “The reason you got hit… Do you really think I’d tell you?” Hahaha. I love that she doesn’t give him the satisfaction!
Chi-soo stares dumbfounded, “What?!” Eun-bi: “Of course I wouldn’t tell you. So you can die of curiosity.” She tells him that someone like him wouldn’t understand anyway, since he doesn’t know the difference between crap and soybean paste, or right and wrong. She walks away.
He yells at her to stop and then she whirls around one last time, pointing a finger straight at him. “You’re really rank today. Especially there.” She points to the mark on his face. “That dot stuck to your face. Oops.” (She uses a word for smelly/rank that means both stinky and also just repugnant/ugly, so it works delightfully well.)
She walks away with the most satisfied sigh in the world, leaving Chi-soo fuming.
Eun-bi walks away from the school and Crazy Chicken Ba-wool shouts after her: “Noona! You’re so cool! … The Eun-bi Spike isn’t dead yet!” She kisses her thumb and waves it at him, and he does the same. They are so cute.
Once outside the school gates, she spreads her arms in the air like the biggest weight’s been lifted off her shoulders, and sing-songs, “Now… I…”
Cut to sobbing with a chicken foot in her mouth, “Now what do I eat and live on?” Heh. Dong-joo tells her that she should’ve just swallowed her pride and apologized, and Eun-bi wonders why she couldn’t. That was her plan. It just didn’t go that way.
Chi-soo’s dad asks his secretary what the hospital said, and gets the report that it might take a few sessions to fully remove the mark. On his face? Is that what we’re talking about? Ha. Dad: “It’s a good thing it can be removed. A scar left by a woman… that lasts a lifetime.” Omg, this drama cracks me up.
Chi-soo lies in bed like a princess, icepack to his face. He sits up, still stewing in fury.
The next morning, Eun-bi runs around town putting up flyers for tutoring sessions, listing gym as her specialty, and English and Math as exceptions. HA. Yes, because everyone needs a tutor for P.E.
She gets a call from a parent and runs to the meeting, only to find that it’s Chi-soo’s daddy. He asks her to come back to school, and that he’ll say that he heard the apology for humiliating Chi-soo.
Despite regretting it last night, she holds her ground and says no. She guesses that Chi-soo was embarrassed that she quit of her own accord, and wanted to reinstate her to fire her himself. “I don’t want to play Chi-soo’s games anymore.”
In her shock she had broken a tea cup, and she offers to pay for it. Dad insists it’s no big deal, but she asks the maid how much it costs. Roughly $3500. A piece? She chokes back the figure. Dad assures her that it’s fine, since they have hundreds of them in the house.
Dad: “But in this house, there’s one thing that can never be broken. Cha Chi-soo. Even if everything else breaks, not Cha Chi-soo, not a hair, not even a fingernail can be broken. That Cha Chi-soo, you hit twice and hurt his feelings.”
Aw, it’s totally ridiculous, but also really sweet. It’s just too bad that Dad’s confusing precious with fragile. He offers to provide her with anything if she just returns, but she refuses to the end.
In the elevator she berates herself again for passing up yet another golden opportunity for her pesky pride, and tapes a tutoring ad inside. She runs into a woman who’s still fawning over a handkerchief that Cha Chi-soo used to flirt with her the other day, and Eun-bi catches a whiff of the familiar scent.
Chi-soo get a call from Dad saying that she turned him down. He flips out, calling his dad Chairman Cha, like an employee. He yells to have her brought to him, and when Dad says it can’t be done, he gapes, “C-can’t be done? What in this world can’t be done? What is there in this world that you can’t do?!”
When he gets up, we see that he took the phone call right in the middle of class. Dude. Seriously?
So-yi gets passed up to be the soloist in a dance recital, and calls Ba-wool, whining that Chi-soo isn’t picking up, and that she needs a ride. He tells her to stop calling and that he’s going to change his number. Uh-huh.
Chi-soo drives around and calls his uncle, a cop, for help in tracking Eun-bi down. He guesses that she’ll be looking for tutoring jobs or eating instant ramyun at convenience stores… which is exactly where he finds her.
She’s about to eat her ramyun when three high school boys try to bully her out of her seat, and she bullies them right back. They ask her to buy them cigarettes, and she scolds them as a teacher.
Chi-soo appears and drops down a carton of cigarettes to get rid of them, and sits down at the table. She asks what he’s doing, and he postures that she needn’t thank him, since he simply didn’t want anyone else buzzing around his prey. But she means what the hell were you doing buying cigarettes for high school students, and takes off running to get them back.
She snatches the carton from the boys and tosses it out in traffic, where it gets crushed. That fires up the kids, as they come running after her, screaming bloody murder. She starts running and they nearly catch up, but Chi-soo pulls up in his car.
Faced with a fight or an escape, she chooses to get in the car and speed away.
He takes her to the river, and then with a sigh, he turns to her in exasperation, only she steals his thunder, getting angry at him for buying kids cigarettes. He doesn’t get what the big deal is, if it’s a means to get rid of them.
Eun-bi: “Listen up, Cha Chi-soo. I’m only going to say this once. High school students shouldn’t smoke. Comfort isn’t something you calculate with money, and playing around with people’s feelings, tossing out bait when you don’t mean it… being hit for that is getting off cheap.”
He pauses, “Ah… so it was that?” He seems like he might actually understand her words. He turns to her, “The one who hit me wasn’t Intern Yang… it was Yang Eun-bi? Not the gangster, but the girl?”
He leans in close. Goddamnit. It is infuriating how hot that is. Flustered, she shrinks back. He hovers above her, adding that it must be because what he tossed out made her tremble, “Because you see me as a man.”
She interrupts him, suddenly putting her hand behind his neck. She looks up at him, and then starts to lean in. Now HE starts fidgeting, and hearts start to race.
She inches closer, aiming for his lips, and he starts to go aflutter. She leans in close to his ear… “Your scent… is really rank. If you want to feed those kind of lines to noona, change your cologne first, KID.”
HAHAHAHAHAHA. I am currently pumping my fist in the air. Revenge is so sweet. (She technically calls him the colloquial term for high-schooler, but kid is what it means.)
He scoffs in shock, and yanks her back in the car when she tries to get out. He demands to know why she’s doing this when she’s got nothing to her name. He wonders if it’s because she’s snatched up a man.
Confused, she asks what he’s talking about, and he reminds her that she was leaning on one and crying, “Or was that just a pillar?” He turns around her so-called puritanical ideas of love, wondering if they’re all out the window now that she’s hopped to some new guy out of the blue.
Eun-bi: “Sure. I don’t know who that guy is, but he’s got to be better than you. Better than a kid who gives off nothing but the scent of his cologne.” (It’s actually a clever pun, because “better” is a homonym for “smell,” in the sense of giving off a smell.) She’s sassy AND punny at the same time!
Chi-soo: “Do you even know what this cologne is?!” Eun-bi: “There’s actually a name for that smell?” Pwahaha. God, I love her.
She gets out of the car, and with a shriek, he drives off, ditching her at the river for the second time.
Later he sits in his car with So-yi, who asks if something happened. She says something happened to her, and asks him to hold her. He sort of winces, like it’s a chore but he’ll oblige, and on second thought upgrades it, “I’ll kiss you.”
She closes her eyes and waits, but then he stops near her lips, staring at her like something’s not right. He finally says, “Is my cologne really that bad?” LOL.
So-yi walks up to her door and finds Ba-wool waiting there. He says she wasn’t at her dance studio, even though she needed a ride. He sighs that she’s made it home in one piece, so he can go. She stops him with a hug, leaning on him with a big smile. She sighs, “It’s Ba-wool. It’s Ba-wool’s scent.” Aw. Surprised, he hugs her back.
Chi-soo arrives home, but one of his valets stops him with something they found in his car – a sock and a set of keys.
Eun-bi arrives in front of her door… and finds of course that she’s lost her keys. She berates herself and wonders what she’ll do, only to find that her door is unlocked. She walks in cautiously, but then smells something familiar. “Dad?”
She finds the table set with dinner for her, but no sign of anyone there. She calls Dong-joo to see if it was her, and says she came home and smelled Dad’s scent, and there was dinner there. She eats happily, and in the corner behind the couch, we see that Kang-hyuk is sleeping, sans one sock.
Chi-soo’s in possession of said sock, and now obsessed with smell as much as Eun-bi is, he picks it up gingerly (only after wrapping his hand in a handkerchief first, natch) and takes a whiff. He nearly coughs up a lung, and sprays more of his cologne in the air to cover up the stench. He stares at her keychain, sporting a picture of young Eun-bi with Dad.
He asks Hyun-woo about where Eun-bi lives, asking again if she really lives by herself and doesn’t have an oppa or anything. Hyun-woo’s sure she’s an only child, which does not make him happy. Chi-soo asks him to drop off the keys and Hyun-woo says sure, but he’s not off work until late, and he wouldn’t want Teach to freeze to death sleeping outside… It totally works, and off Chi-soo goes, to deliver them himself.
Meanwhile Kang-hyuk wakes up and goes to check if Eun-bi came home, finding her asleep. He tucks her in and takes off her glasses, which is all great except for the fact that she has yet to know that you live here. He finds Chi-soo’s handkerchief lying on her desk, and takes it.
Chi-soo arrives at Eun-bi’s Snack Shop and goes inside, calling for Intern. But it’s Kang-hyuk who comes out, wearing Chi-soo’s handkerchief as a headband. He looks down at what Chi-soo is holding and sees his sock. I love it. They’re both like, who the hell is this other guy?
Chi-soo asks where Intern is, and Kang-hyuk says “my wife” is sleeping. Chi-soo tells him to give the stuff to “his wife,” adding that he should relay the message that if all she’s got to lean on is this rank sock and this restaurant, then she should get her ass back to school, or he’ll make it so that she can never teach again.
They’re antagonistic enough (and Chi-soo’s arrogant enough) that they both speak to each other in banmal, and I love that Kang-hyuk uses “my wife” to reinforce his position while Chi-soo says “your wife” like it’s an insult, despite the fact that it clearly annoys him.
He turns to go, but Kang-hyuk mutters that he has no scent. Chi-soo turns back to confront him. “What did you say?” Kang-hyuk hilariously leans in to sniff him.
Kang-hyuk: “Mmm… yup… there’s no smell. Even onions have a smell, but you don’t, Park Chi-soo. House smell, rice smell, Mom’s smell. Park Chi-soo, are you even eating?”
Chi-soo takes the onion out of his hand and pitches it to the ground. “It’s plenty enough to have one Intern being arrogant. And my name is not Park Chi-soo. It’s CHA-soo!”
I love the ways they play with the title and theme of each episode, tying together different characters and relationships. This is the first episode where it really worked as a larger metaphor on many levels, as well as being the source of so many jokes. I love all the different ways scent conveys different meanings, especially in moments like when So-yi hugs Ba-wool, comforted by his smell, like the way Mom’s scent is particular and comforting. Or when Eun-bi comes home and smells Dad’s cooking and starts looking for Dad.
Kang-hyuk sees the same thing in Chi-soo that Eun-bi’s dad did – that he lacks a human smell, or that he’s empty on the inside. They both make reference to food (both being chefs, it makes sense they’d see everything in relation to food), and being filled with good things on the inside to be good on the outside. It’s a nice food metaphor that works in a karmic sense too. Eun-bi says the same thing about him but in a different way – not that he lacks a smell but that he actually smells bad, more specifically rotten.
I like the idea that the scent of a man defines him. Ba-wool smells comforting. Kang-hyuk smells like Dad. And Chi-soo smells repugnant and spoiled in the literal sense, because that’s what he is on the inside. This episode made me feel confident in where they’ll take the characters, and how they’ll shape Chi-soo’s growth as a man. I like having faith that the hero’s journey is worth something, and that he won’t just smile and wink his way to the heroine’s heart.
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- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 1
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- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop posters
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop releases teasers
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