Episode, meet your two guest stars, Fallout and Damage Control. It’s time to turn the focus onto the other side of this fractured love story, which means that we get some necessary development, although sadly less focus on my favorite characters (Seo-yeon and her two awesome men, aka oppa and dongseng). But at least we get more of the awesome Lee Mi-sook, who can turn the most dire situation darkly funny.
I’m relieved to have Flower Boy Ramyun Shop running concurrently with this one, because I’ll need all its fluffy cuteness to ease the heart-wrenching intensity of Thousand Day Promise. True, it makes me feel vaguely schizo to bounce from choked sobs to belly laughs, but I’ll take that tradeoff.
SONG OF THE DAY
Americano – “별님의 선물” (Gift from a star) [ Download ]
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Morning at the workplace for our characters: Moon-kwon gets his ear screeched off by noona Myung-hee, who won’t accept his request to quit the bakery so he can study, so he can secure full-time employment, so he can help Seo-yeon support them.
She shrieks, “How can you only think of yourself?!” I guess it wouldn’t be irony if she recognized that the words just as likely to bounce back in her face. Thankfully she’s married to a nice guy who tells Moon-kwon to go.
Seo-yeon has a better morning, meeting with a successful author for an interview at the office.
On the other hand, Ji-hyung zones out entirely while his friend — I’m sure he has a name in this universe, but for now he’s just Architect Alex — carries their client meeting. Alex takes care of the meeting, but he definitely notices Ji-hyung’s apathy and afterward tells him to pull it together: “Just call off that stupid wedding! Why go through with it?” A good question, sensible man, which is why you are not the drama’s hero.
Bride and Groom’s parents go out for round of golf and stop for drinks at the clubhouse. Today, Bride’s Mom complains that her husband should be consistent in how he addresses Groom’s Mom, rather than bouncing from nickname to nickname. Either call her Soo-jung or Dr. Kang or samonim (madam), because it’s confusing when he uses all three in practically the same breath. It’s one of the results of knowing someone for decades and having your relationships evolve, since those monikers were all appropriate at one time and equally familiar to him.
The conversation is mundane, but it’s interesting in the way that it’s interesting to overhear the table next to you at a restaurant engaging in lively debate. You feel like you’re snatching a glimpse into their lives, no matter how little the topic of discussion. What I’m getting from these family scenes is that they’re not essential to the core story, but they round out the world. They’re relevant in a peripheral sense, showing us indirectly what it’s like to be Seo-yeon and Ji-hyung, and what their spheres are like.
Hyang-gi packs for her honeymoon and jumps when Ji-hyang calls her out for tea, running to meet him. She registers his morose attitude, but she figures it’s more of his office woes. And frankly, it’s not like morose is such a different look on him.
But he has a mission today, and prepares her by saying he’s going to tell her a nightmarish tale, one that he understands is unthinkable and unexpected but necessary to say. The worst she can imagine is that he wants to ask for a wedding postponement, but he tells her outright that he can’t marry her. It has nothing to do with his job, or her mother, but everything to do with the fact that he doesn’t love her, and his liking for her isn’t enough. He’d let himself think their long-standing friendship and comfort level was love.
Hyang-gi’s caught between horror and denial, and lists all the activities they’ve done together: the meals, the trips, the shows they saw, the sleeping together… As though the sum of those parts equals love.
Not only does she have to deal with this broken engagement, he’s left it to such a late date — the wedding’s in two days — that she’ll also have to face the humiliation. She sobs, “I want to faint but I can’t. Why can’t I faint?”
At work, Seo-yeon goes through another of her memory rituals, this time rattling off the names of famous writers, and gets stuck — she gets as far as Gabriel Garcia, and can’t think of Marquez. Then she leaves her purse at work, rattling her further. It’s like every time she’s having a good day, these lapses sneak up on her and sap the energy right out, leaving her cold.
While Hyang-gi struggles to make sense of this news, Ji-hyung tells her to consider him the bad guy in her life. He thanks her for her devotion and calls her good and kind and all those compliments that are sincere and true, but ultimately pointless because they end with But I don’t love you and I won’t marry you.
But when Ji-hyung says that he’ll break the news to their parents and accept the blame, she protests. That would be insane, she argues, and he has to know how incredible the consequences would be. No, she decides, they’ll marry as planned. Geezus.
But at least that gets him to drop the final bomb, that he’s in love with someone else. The screen actually flashes white, like this information is so huge that it blows her mind, as he explains that he tried to end that relationship, but finds that he can’t. That he’s been seeing her for the past year.
Hyang-gi is devastated but says she can’t give him to another woman — she can’t live without him. Maybe if he kills her, then he can do as he likes. As if on cue, she spits up, choking on vomit.
Ji-hyung takes her home, where she vomits again. She asks the housekeeper to keep this from Mom, and listlessly heads for bed. The obvious assumption by the housekeeper is that she’s pregnant, even though Hyang-gi earlier told Mom that they haven’t slept together in ages.
Ji-hyung calls Jae-min for an update on Seo-yeon, pressing despite Jae-min’s desire to keep this a family problem. Jae-min placates him by saying he’ll let him know once Seo-yeon starts on her meds.
Myung-hee calls Seo-yeon to the bakery to confront her about Moon-kwon quitting. Since she’s such a petty, jealous woman, it only stands to reason that she assumes Seo-yeon’s behavior is also rooted in petty thinking. For instance, her working theory is that Seo-yeon told her brother to quit the bakery because of negative feelings between them. Seo-yeon assures her cousin that she wants Moon-kwon to focus on his studies and that it’s nothing personal. Finally Myung-hee believes it, and the air is cleared.
Seo-yeon feels particularly tired today and wonders as she walks home, “How long will I be able to hold out?” She starts dinner, but when Moon-kwon comes home he finds the soup boiling on the stove unattended. She’s asleep in her room.
Moon-kwon texts Jae-min the update that he picked up her prescriptions. At Aunt’s house, Myung-hee gets a glimpse of the text and asks if Seo-yeon’s sick, which Jae-min covers by saying she’s just feeling a little under the weather. Aunt sighs that Seo-yeon must be working too hard, 365 days a year, and Myung-hee snipes pettishly that it’s not 365 — there are weekends and holidays, you know, so it’s more like 200.
Okay, Myung-hee is a spiteful cow, but you know what? I’m starting to enjoy her obvious inferiority complex — if she were causing damage I’d have much less patience for her, but because this bothers her so much while everyone else is unperturbed, I feel like there’s some cosmic justice built into the system. She’s so small-minded that it’s transparent that she’s just looking for reasons to criticize Seo-yeon, and coming up short. Really, that’s the best you can do? She technically works 200 days a year instead of 365? Congratulations, you’ve managed to split that one petty hair into TWO petty hairs. You win!
Moon-kwon gets ready to eat dinner, only to find that his sister didn’t plug in the rice cooker. When she wakes from her nap, the sight of the rice still cooking stops her short, and he tells her that he just turned it on. He doesn’t worry or hover or accuse, just leaves the truth there. But more evidence of her forgetfulness brings Seo-yeon’s defenses back up, and she starts making excuses for feeling tired. All the while, Moon-kwon just agrees calmly, not wanting to escalate anything.
Bride’s Mom comes home to the news that Hyang-gi threw up earlier, then finds her sobbing in bed. Hyang-gi tells her that she called it off, twisting the truth around to absolve Ji-hyung of blame: He said he loves her but she thinks he’s fooling himself; she confused her affection for love; ultimately neither of them is in love and therefore they shouldn’t marry.
Naturally Mom doesn’t believe this and assumes Hyang-gi’s parroting Ji-hyung’s excuses, but Hyang-gi persists, saying these are her thoughts. Mom: “How could you possibly come up with that thought? Did you get hit by a smart ray?” HAHA. Oh man, she cracks me up. I know I should find it sad that Mom has so little faith in her daughter’s brain, but on the other hand, it’s not like she’s wrong, is she?
Hyang-gi says she had an epiphany, that Ji-hyung insisted on going forward, and that she refused. Mom won’t be taken for an idiot — and storms off determined to give Ji-hyung a piece of her mind. A word from the housekeeper makes Mom stop short, and she asks Hyang-gi suspiciously if she’s pregnant. Hyang-gi says no, but Mom doesn’t believe that, either.
She calls Groom’s Mom immediately to scream in her ear about her worthless son. Groom’s Mom is stunned, although given what she knows, it’s not quite the surprise it could’ve been.
Oblivious to the drama unfolding at home, the two dads toast to their 40-year friendship and celebrate their last time partying together as mere friends, since they’ll be in-laws the next time. Aw, they’re cute. I can see why Ji-hyung was so loath to disrupt their relationship.
But the fun is cut short when Bride’s Mom calls Bride’s Dad to tell him the news. Meanwhile, Ji-hyung faces his horrified mother and aunt at home, apologetic but firm in his declaration that he can’t marry. Not when “my head, my heart, my everything is with that woman.”
That night, Moon-kwon and Jae-min sit Seo-yeon down with her medication, urging her to take them. They try to argue that it’s just like taking medicine to recover from an illness, but Seo-yeon refuses — she’s still not ready. She tries to compromise by saying she’ll take them when she gets worse, but not now.
The Dads head home to confront this mess and find out the extent of the damage from their wives. Bride’s Mom shrilly accuses Ji-hyung of everything, but it’s almost humorous how Dad doesn’t take her at her hysterical word (he must be used to her dramatics and treats this problem with the composure of a doctor looking at a wound he has to treat).
The mothers are in agreement about overruling the groom’s reluctance, intent on getting the derailed wedding train back on its tracks. It’s interesting that everyone takes that basic line of reasoning — that all they have to do is get the groom to the altar, rather than listening to anything the kids are saying.
Bride’s Mom shouts into her phone, “You wanna come here, or you want us to go there?” Dad’s calmer, though, arguing for conversation and negotiation, and sits down to talk it out with Hyang-gi. I don’t know how a scene like this can sneak in the funny, but it does: Mom keeps muttering and swearing, so Dad requests a mere five minutes of silence from her, and in response Mom orders the housekeeper to bring out a timer. Haha. I love Lee Mi-sook.
Hyang-gi’s father prods her gently to tell him the truth — was it Mom who pushed too hard and made Ji-hyung break it off? Mom breaks the five-minute agreement to screech at that, but Hyang-gi says no, that she was the one to call off the wedding.
Like his friend, Ji-hyung’s father approaches this relatively calmly — he’s sternly grim, but calm — as he tells Ji-hyung that he has to apologize and take it back. It’s too late to cite “I don’t love her” as an excuse to call it off; Ji-hyung can’t do this and still call him Father.
Ji-hyung accepts all the censure, bowing his head, and apologizes repeatedly. But finally he adds that he can’t because he’s in love with another woman — a detail Mom was intent on keeping from Dad forever. That changes things — especially at his admission that he told Hyang-gi as well, to break through her denial — and sparks tempers, with both parents calling him crazed.
They decide that Hyang-gi must have kept the full truth from her parents, since they aren’t screeching about That Other Woman. That means they can still right this ship and fix things, or so they think.
Hyang-gi’s father has a similar thought, and is ready to hold a two-family summit meeting tomorrow to keep the wedding on — even if that means his wife has to offer up an apology. She doesn’t like the sound of that at all, but he warns her to think of the end goal and do what she has to for her daughter’s sake.
Alone in her room, Hyang-gi takes out her wedding dress and holds it up sadly. Eep, girl, you’re tiptoeing into Miss Havisham territory there…
Ji-hyung slumps in his room, lost in thoughts of Seo-yeon’s illness, replaying their last, emotionally charged encounter.
Hyang-gi texts Ji-hyung, telling him that she wants to keep that part about his other woman quiet — it’s better that they both stick to the “We’re not in love” excuse. Telling the full truth would be humiliating for her and turns him into the bad guy. That’s probably more than he deserves, frankly, but Hyang-gi has a point if they don’t want to rip apart their parents’ friendships as well. It’s probably too late to prevent that, but I can see why the kids would want to try. And despite all this, she texts that she still wants him, though she calls herself stupid for it.
At home, Seo-yeon retires to her room to recite more facts and names to herself, going over authors and their famous works. She tells herself to focus on work, because she may not have much time left, and reminds herself not to make mistakes.
With that, she leaves her bedroom and settles down to work, surprising Moon-kwon, who thought she’d turned in for the night. When she sits at her desk and boots up her computer, he tells her that it’s still nighttime, as though he thinks she must have confused the hour for morning. Defensive again, Seo-yeon snaps at him that she knows, ignoring his concern.
This was more of a necessary episode than anything, I think, getting our hero to stand up to his parents and take his stance. I missed the developments on the Seo-yeon front, but I guess we needed to give the fallout sufficient room to, uh, fall. And explode and send chaos raining in every direction.
Hyang-gi’s a frustrating character in that I hate seeing women place all their worth in a man, but from a story standpoint I understand where she’s coming from in her continued clinging. She has absolutely no sense of self without this man who doesn’t even love her, but who can blame the princess who was groomed to be this person since birth by everyone around her? Thus her unwillingness to let him go isn’t about a woman trying to keep her unwilling man so much as she’s trying to save herself. If she has never once considered living a life without Ji-hyung, then it’s understandable that she’d be panicked at the thought of her life — and her imagined future — crumbling away overnight. A woman desperate to keep a man who doesn’t love her frustrates me to no end, but a woman scrambling to find and keep herself I can understand.
If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see that her mother finds her infuriating, because Mom gets to hurl exasperated comments her way when we can’t.
Funny enough, Ji-hyung doesn’t frustrate me to the same extent as Hyang-gi does, even though he’s a much worse person, if we’re talking in terms of their treatment of other people. Maybe it’s because I find him fascinating in his weakness, in his utter frank admission of his cowardice. As Seo-yeon once pointed out, she didn’t have the luxury of letting her pride go, whereas he’s the exact opposite. It’s like he sold his pride to enjoy his worldly privilege, and it’s a lot harder to earn back pride than it is mere money.
I’m ready to see him break free of his family, though, and hoping to see his resolve grow from here on out. It was a relief to see him standing firm this time, and I really do think that making the decision was the worst part for him. He lacked the strength to take any action, which is why he waffled in a crisis of indecision for the past year (one might argue for his whole life). Now that he’s taken his stance, ready to accept whatever abuse comes his way as a result of it, I think he’ll be able to build on that resolve.
That’s why it’s significant that Ji-hyung admitted (in Episode 5) that he regretted his choice to let Seo-yeon go before finding out about her condition, I think, because at least we know that his regret isn’t colored by pity, that his love for her isn’t guilt-inspired.
But the most heartbreaking moments, by far, were the ever-so-brief glimpses we got of Moon-kwon as he tries his best to do what’s best for his sister. He sees signs of her lapsing memory and in his unguarded moments we see how that cuts him up inside, but he doesn’t betray any pity to Seo-yeon herself, because that’s the last thing she’d want.
It’s almost painful to watch Seo-yeon lashing out at him and him just accepting it, because he knows his sister needs to feel in control if she doesn’t want to succumb to her fear. He silently corrects her mistakes, not pointing them out but not coddling her, either. It’s a bit tragic to see him growing into a man before our eyes, because he’d started the drama so cheerful and happy-go-lucky, but it’s not like we’d wish him not to mature, either. It’s a little like wanting your child to stay a child forever to protect their innocence, and having no say in the matter while time marches on.