Well the poop’s out of the crapper, wouldn’t you say? Secrets come out, minds get blown, and deals get put on the table. Everyone faces the big question before them: Is love simply a luxury for the young and naïve? Or is it something worth sacrificing everything you’ve got, for just one shot?
EPISODE 14: “The Difference Between Makjang and Soonjung”
Chi-soo and Eun-bi get in one good snuggle before they hear some familiar voices downstairs. Eun-bi recognizes it immediately: “Isn’t that… your father?” This is why rooms should have doors, people!
Daddy Cha sits down at the kitchen table with Kang-hyuk, and asks straightaway if he’s “Yeo-jin’s son.” Not grasping what the connection is, Eun-bi wonders how bosses Choi and Cha know each other. Chi-soo comes up with the answer: “Well they’re both bosses…” Ha.
But downstairs they keep going. Daddy Cha: “Did you know that Chi-soo was my son?” Kang-hyuk: “Yes. Did you know about me?” Daddy Cha says no, he just found out and came straight here. Kang-hyuk: “Then… did you know about me and my dad when you married my mom?” Daddy Cha sighs, “Yes.”
Upstairs, Eun-bi’s eyes widen. Chi-soo falls back and covers his eyes with a big sigh. Kang-hyuk asks why, and Daddy Cha answers solemnly, “Because even like that, I wanted to live with her. I had to have her, even if it was only half of her.” That’s so sad. Not sympathy-sad, but pathetic-sad. Kang-hyuk asks, “So… were you happy then?”
He sighs again, but says it was enough for him, because he has Chi-soo now. Upstairs, Eun-bi turns to Chi-soo, and it’s written all over his face that this is no surprise to him. He tries to stop her, but she storms right out and asks them directly what on earth they’re talking about.
They’re surprised she was home, but then their jaws really drop when Chi-soo marches out right behind her. Dad stammers, asking what he’s doing here. Chi-soo: “We slept together.” Eun-bi literally slaps her forehead. Ha.
He says they slept squeezing each other tightly, and Kang-hyuk protests that skinship isn’t allowed until “decisions are made.” Then Dad turns to Kang-hyuk: “Do YOU like Yang-yang too?” Oh dear.
Eun-bi tries to wrap her head around what she’s just heard – so that makes Chi-soo…
And then suddenly the strings of makjang go crazy, as Ba-wool pops out from the bathroom: “That makes Chi-soo Kang-hyuk’s son!” Hahahahaha.
And then Hyun-woo pops out from his room: “No, that makes them brothers who share a mom!” Ba-wool gasps, “WHAT? But… if they’re brothers, and they both like Eun-bi noona, then what?”
Everyone looks at Eun-bi and at each other uncomfortably. This scene is so awesome. It’s an example of what makes this show so clever – it’s in the comic handling of the tone that takes a commonly makjang plot point and then turns it on its head.
Once the initial shock dies down, Eun-bi sits in a room with Hyun-woo and Ba-wool, the latter of whom is reeling from the news more than anyone. And then Hyun-woo remembers, “But… what was Cha Chi-soo doing in your room… Oh.” Hee.
Dad sits the two brothers down, and asks Kang-hyuk if he came from Japan specifically for this reason. For this awkward family reunion? He assures them that his mother’s last request was for him to stay away from Cha Sung, and he’s only here to protect Eun-bi and the ramyun shop.
Dad turns to Chi-soo and asks why he’s here then. Chi-soo: “To date. And I was doing so well too. Daaaad, why’d you have to come now?” Pffft. It’s so like you to only think of what base you would’ve been on if Dad hadn’t interrupted with his birth secrets and whatnot. Exasperated, Dad calls his secretary to haul Chi-soo off, and they leave.
Eun-bi asks Kang-hyuk how he could’ve kept this from her. Chi-soo is Chi-soo, but he should’ve told her. But he says that he wasn’t ever planning to tell her – he was just going to look in on Chi-soo, just once, to see what kind of person he was.
She still thinks he could’ve told her. Kang-hyuk: “How? If I told you, it’s obvious I’d stop being a man to you, and just become Chi-soo’s hyung. So how? How could I tell you? I’m just now trying to go from being your guardian to being a man… so how could I tell you?”
He turns to go, his giant shoulders practically down to his knees. Without turning back to face her, he adds, “Yang Eun-bi, I’m not a pillar. I’m a man too.” Aaaaaaaaaack. That breaks my heart.
At home, Dad tells Chi-soo that it can’t go on – what, does he think someone like Eun-bi could live at Cha Sung? Or can Chi-soo live in a place with no beds? Chi-soo balks that he’s not living with her; he just wants to date her.
But Dad says dating leads to the other stuff, and then asks if Eun-bi feels the same way about him. Is she as crazy about Chi-soo as he is for her? Chi-soo stammers, “She will.” Aw, puppy.
Dad says it’s no use, trying to teach a lion how to love grass and flowers. You’re born with these traits, he says, and it’s not something you can learn. He says that Kang-hyuk was born with it, making him right for Eun-bi, and not Chi-soo. Well by your logic, then Chi-soo could be born with it too, since they share a mom, yeah? Not that your logic is… logical, of course.
Eun-bi runs into a pair of ajummas in the morning, who laugh as they tell her that they heard a hilarious rumor that Eun-bi is living with four guys, including a husband and a lover. She cringes as she laughs along.
As X-files music begins to play and Eun-bi’s face turns to horror, the ajummas laugh, “Next thing you know, they’ll be saying you’re caught between two brothers from different mothers, fighting over you!” HAHAHAHA. They walk off, laughing at how ridiculous that is, and Eun-bi horror-laughs in their wake.
Chi-soo shows up behind her, musing that she looks pretty when she laughs first thing in the morning. She looks down to see a suitcase in tow. Omo. The rest of the boys file out of the house, just in time to see Chi-soo arrive.
They note the bags and wonder why he looks like a rich kid who just ran away from home… and then their jaws drop. “You’re not…” Chi-soo puts his arm around Eun-bi, “That’s right. I’m living here. I’m going to eat grass with my Yang Eun-bi.” Eeee!
Inside, Eun-bi tries to talk some sense into Chi-soo, but he refuses to go anywhere. He reasons that Dad’s too mad at him for him to return home, and besides, don’t they take in runaways, like on principle? And he’s a runaway brother at that, so…
Kang-hyuk is the first to cave, and tells Chi-soo to unpack. Eun-bi looks over at him like he’s lost his mind, but already Chi-soo is two steps up the staircase, toward Eun-bi’s room. Kang-hyuk grabs him by the waist and drags him back downstairs. Heh.
Ba-wool runs out from school in a panic, and Hyun-woo tells him to slow down, but he’s like, “How can I slow down when I know that Cha Chi-soo is living in that house? What kind of makjang is this?” Hyun-woo smiles, “It might be makjang to others, but to Chi-soo, it’s soonjung*.” Ba-wool gapes.
At the store, Eun-bi is stuck between the Brothers Petty, who I’m pretty sure are enjoying their rivalry more than anything, not that they’d admit it. Eun-bi sneaks off, and then wonders why they have no customers today.
It’s because Daddy Cha has moved onto Phase 2 of his plan, since the convincing Chi-soo ship has sailed. He’s launched a free ramyun stand just outside the school, to steal all their business, and has his secretary tow Chi-soo’s car away for good measure. Looks like Daddy’s not a complete softy after all.
Or at least, his secretary isn’t, because he cuts off Chi-soo’s cell phone, every VVVIP credit card, and even access to his bank accounts. All frozen solid. Chi-soo screams bloody murder, but it’s no use. I love that he’s cut off.
Kang-hyuk goes to see Daddy Cha, who asks for his help in putting Chi-soo back in his rightful place. “You can’t play the hyung and the man at the same time.” He adds that Kang-hyuk and Eun-bi make a good picture, and if it were something he’d known earlier, he wouldn’t have held his wife here like that.
Dad: “You and I both know all too well, that if you pass soonjung, you can turn into makjang.” He pleads with Kang-hyuk for his help, and says that if Chi-soo doesn’t come out of there, he’ll have no choice but to proceed, handing over his plans for the Cha Sung takeover.
Eun-bi walks home with a bag of apples, accidentally dropping one on the street. It gets smashed to smithereens by a car, and it gives her pause, as she remembers Daddy Cha’s words that there’s one thing that can’t get hurt in all this: Chi-soo.
Kang-hyuk walks through the streets lost in his own Chi-soo dilemma, and then comes upon a cheering crowd outside a batting cage. The slugger steps out, and it’s Eun-bi, surprised to see Kang-hyuk there.
They sit down to chat, and he takes her hand in his, noting that it’s cold. She awkwardly says thank you, and he says with a tinge of disappointment, “You say thank you to me a lot… but you never say it to Cha Chi-soo. When I hold you hand, it must not be hot, but just… thankful?” Aw, poor buddy.
Eun-bi: “Thankful… and warm.” He asks, “And Cha Chi-soo?” She thinks about it for a moment, and turns to answer…
Only to find Kang-hyuk plugging his ears like a giant man-baby. HA. Apparently he realized how very little he wanted to hear your answer. He tells her he’d rather not know, and gets up to go first, announcing that he’s going to be the bad boy today. Okay, Onion.
At home, Chi-soo does the potty dance in front of a vacant bathroom. Hyun-woo and Ba-wool wonder why he won’t go, and Chi-soo whines, “There’s no bidet!” Oh you princess.
Kang-hyuk arrives outside the shop, and ponders Daddy Cha’s deal from earlier that day: he’d promised that if Kang-hyuk could get Chi-soo away from the ramyun shop (meaning Eun-bi, naturally) then he’d make sure to exclude the shop from the new development plans.
He sighs to find Chi-soo sitting outside, waiting for Eun-bi. He asks about Chi-soo’s heart, his true feelings for her: “How long do you think your heart will last?” But Chi-soo counters matter-of-factly how on earth he’s supposed to know such things. I do love that he’s so realistically young in this sense.
Chi-soo: “All I know is, right now, if I can’t see her, I think I’ll go crazy.”
Chi-soo asks if he happens to know where Eun-bi is, and he lies and says no. But then he stops as he turns to go, and closes his eyes with a sigh. “She’s at the baseball field by the school.” Aw, are you choosing to be the hyung, or trying to be both? I seriously find this relationship to be more moving, where Kang-hyuk is concerned, because you can see his struggle to be the better man.
Dong-joo and Coach walk out, and for the second time that day, he tries to hold her hand and she rejects it, frantic about where they are and who will see them. She reminds him that she’s engaged. He asks why she kissed him then. “Did you play around with my pure heart (soonjung)?”
Dong-joo: “I’m in my twenties. You’re in your thirties. Purity is something for those who have nothing to lose, and nothing to claim responsibility for.”
Chi-soo finds Eun-bi still at the batting cages, and drags her out, all shouty and indignant over how she hasn’t even considered that someone is waiting for her at home, and how he’s lost everything – his phone, his cards, even his car.
He asks if she knows how much he’s sacrificed to be with her, and she surprises him with her answer: “Were you not prepared to lose this much?” She tells him that if he’s for real, then he’ll have to prepare to lose even more, to subsist on ramyun and have nothing. “I’m seriously considering everything that I have to sacrifice right now. So do me a favor, and do the same.” I love it when she schools him.
She returns to the batting cage, and leaves him speechless. He watches her for while and then turns to go with a heavy sigh. She finally looks back and finds him gone.
Ba-wool gets up with a start, finding his bad boy ignore-So-yi routine unbearable. He struggles with the urge to break his silence and call her… when he gets a text from her that says that they should break up. Ha. Don’t try to play the player.
He runs right into her trap… at a church? Hahaha. It’s time for some old school drama meta. She prays, asking for forgiveness for her sins, now that she’s realized how wrong it was to date Ba-wool, and Chi-soo, and that oppa she knows (heh). She says she’ll break up with Ba-wool as the price.
But Ba-wool shouts, “NO!” and kneels at her side, crying as he confesses his sins, for ignoring her text messages. Hahahaha. He says that he left his post at her right side, and that he didn’t know how precious she was to him.
Her trap totally works, of course, and I’d be madder if it wasn’t also an indication that she likes him back. She makes him promise not to do it again, and then puckers up for a kiss. Ba-wool gulps nervously, and then goes in eyes closed, nearly missing her lips. But they kiss, and bells ring. Aw.
At home, Chi-soo and Kang-hyuk fight over who gets to check up on Eun-bi, only to have Hyun-woo discover her lying on the bathroom floor, passed out. Did she FAINT from constipation?!
The doctor comes by, and then Hyun-woo points at both brothers, reiterating the doctor’s orders: “Teacher has to rest, so no one, under any circumstances, is to enter her room!”
Cut to: both boys, lying on either side of Eun-bi. HAHAHAHA.
Neither of them can sleep though, and Kang-hyuk asks why Chi-soo likes Eun-bi so much. He doesn’t really know, and asks Kang-hyuk the same, and he says he doesn’t know either, but adds that he likes that she’s healthy.
They have a tiny bonding moment as they name all of Eun-bi’s healthy traits, like her arms and her appetite, all minus the constipation of course, which they call out in unison. Heh. That stirs Eun-bi awake, which they don’t notice.
Chi-soo says, “I don’t know about anything else, but it’s because she’s the first woman who looked pretty while crying. Because of you, I don’t like women who cry. Because my mom would hold a picture of you and your father, and cry, every night.” *sniff*
Kang-hyuk: “Well, at least you got a crying mom. I only got to have a sick mom.” Aw, you pair of puppies. Chi-soo breaks the saccharine just in time: “Are you trying to say that you’re more pitiful than I am?”
Kang-hyuk: “Why, do I look it? Will you give me Wifey then?” Ha. Chi-soo decides to stake his claim, and wraps his leg and arm around Eun-bi. Kang-hyuk won’t be outdone, and does the same.
Well THAT doesn’t look wrong or anything.
Eun-bi opens her eyes, and calls out, “Hyun-woo-ya!” Heh. Hyun-woo runs in, and she directs him to move these things aside because they’re heavy. He tries, but they won’t budge.
Ba-wool skips home on cloud nine, and then hears strange snoring coming from Eun-bi’s room. He pokes his head in, and finds all three boys lying there, sandwiching Eun-bi. She cries, “Ba-wool-ah, will you remove these Makjang Brothers?” Hee.
He gripes at the display, calling them a soonjung posse, and then… joins them. Ha. Eun-bi sighs, wondering what country she saved in her past life, using the phrase that means she’s lucky, but in the tone of, “what’d I do to deserve this?”
In the morning, Kang-hyuk sits in the corner, looking on as everyone else sleeps, with Ba-wool and Hyun-woo snuggling off to one side (aw) and Chi-soo clasping Eun-bi’s hand.
Eun-bi murmurs something in her sleep, and Kang-hyuk leans in close to make out the name… and it’s Chi-soo’s. He sighs, hit pretty head-on with the evidence right in front of him. “You sleep with Cha Chi-soo, and now you’re dreaming about him too?” He lets out another sigh and hangs his head, as if knowing the answer to his own dreaded question.
And then, in the sweetest little gesture ever, he covers Chi-soo with a blanket before heading out. Awwwww.
In the shop, he looks over Daddy Cha’s proposal, contemplating what to do. Meanwhile Chi-soo wakes up with bunny ears and dying of thirst, and wanders into the shop looking for water.
He finds Kang-hyuk’s water and gulps it down, and then notices the proposal sitting on the table. He flips through it, face growing grim.
Chi-soo: “What is this?”
Kang-hyuk: “This shop, traded for you.”
(This time, as the credits play, Ba-wool illustrates the very complicated Choi/Cha backstory via potatoes and stick figures, to a very confused Hyun-woo. Hee.)
I really love the drama meta in this writer’s arsenal, and it gives me confidence when an episode is titled, “The Difference Between Makjang and Soonjung,” because we know that hanging a lantern on makjang makes it… not makjang. (*Makjang is the over-dramatic use of clichéd storylines like birth secrets, used time and again in dramas for the sake of plot twist. Soonjung means purity or innocence, and is a genre of comics about pure sweet innocent love.)
The thing that the title and the episode illustrates is that the difference is a matter of tone. It’s actually something that’s hard to explain, like the reason why something might be a melodrama (Thousand Day Promise) but not makjang. Because it’s a difference of tone, and it’s the treatment of the elements, not the plot points themselves, that makes something one or the other. Hence the parodies in this episode, with the overwrought music and the gasping and the kneeling in a church to confess one’s sins. It’s all borrowed from the drama clichés of yesteryear (though sadly, still in effect in more dramas than we care to admit).
The drama is basically saying – we know it’s makjang to have them be half-brothers, but we’re not going to let it BE makjang because we’re going to do the opposite of every drama ever. We’re going to make fun of it, and have them be cool about it, and have funny Eun-bi sandwiches. What it does is strip away all the would-be dramatics, to get at the heart of the emotions in earnest – the soonjung, or the purity of heart.
I feel like Kang-hyuk’s true love story isn’t with Eun-bi, but with Chi-soo. He’s the one who needs a hyung and a pillar, and I think that’s Kang-hyuk’s impulse, despite their so-called competition for Eun-bi. It did break my heart when he told her that he isn’t a pillar but a man, and I really felt for his character for the first time in this episode, because he hasn’t really shown anything besides a desire to protect up until this point. But when he asks to be seen as a man, it just about killed me. I wished in that moment that he’d chosen to be more selfish, before Eun-bi’s heart had boiled over for another man.
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