Wow, one more week to go. I’ve enjoyed High Kick 3 a lot more than I thought I would, but I think I’m ready to let go of these characters — almost — since it also feels like I’ve been watching this show forever. I hope that the upcoming finale week wraps up everybody in an appropriately heartwarming and satisfying way; High Kick tends to like its open endings, but I think this year we’re gearing up for some nicely tied knots, given how some storylines are starting to wind down. I am hopeful.
SONG OF THE DAY
John Park – “Falling” [ Download ]
EPISODE 115 WEECAP
When it rains, it pours: Jin-hee scores two job interviews for corporate positions. One’s an initial interview for her dream job; the other a final interview in a company that’s not quite what she wants to do. Further complicating the issue is that the interview times overlap, so she’ll have to choose one.
She runs into Jong-seok, who encourages her to go for the one she wants, even if it’s the one she’s less likely to get. It’s the same philosophy he has with college admissions — he’s aiming for his dream school, not a safety.
Ahn’s Art hasn’t had work in weeks, which means they’re dangerously low on funds with loan payments coming due. One of Nae-sang’s lenders goes bankrupt, which puts him in a precarious spot, but he assures the family that all is fine.
He needs 2 million won (about $2,000) by tomorrow, and he goes around trying to scrape funds together from friends. He barely makes a dent and hits that point of despair. Taking a break to buy a five-pack of yogurt drinks, he sighs and gets back to work.
Nae-sang offers Seung-yoon a yogurt drink as a segues into a reluctant loan request. Seung-yoon happily obliges, so next Nae-sang goes to Julien with the same routine: yogurt and sad story. Then it’s Ha-sun, then Ji-won. He hangs his head, hating having to ask his neighbors, but thankfully the five-pack brings him enough borrowed money for his payment.
Jong-seok gives Jin-hee a ride on the scooter, then offers to teach her how to ride. But she’s an uptight learner, freaking out for fear of going too fast, which seems fairly analogous with her life.
Jong-seok tries various ways to get her more comfortable, but she’s too scared of falling to risk riding. He finally loses his patience and speaks harshly, and they get into a fight.
He apologizes soon afterward, but Jin-hee sighs that he was right about her being too scared to try. When her mother calls asking for more money, she decides she has to go for the safe route — the job she doesn’t want but is more likely to get — because she needs to start earning money. She admits to Ha-sun that she’s lost her confidence, wondering, “Is it because I’ve failed in both work and love?”
Nae-sang is able to make the loan payment, averting crisis. More work also comes in, so the next morning he heads to a drama shoot, still feeling heavy-hearted. Soo-jung guesses that he’s troubled and gives Dad a hug in encouragement.
Alas, the company van runs out of gas on the way to the shoot and he’s dead broke. This is no time to give up, though, so he urges Seung-yoon, “Let’s run.”
At the same time, Jin-hee awaits her interview at the safe job. Jong-seok sends her a text wishing her luck and urging her, “Even if you fall down, follow your dream!” So when she’s ushered into the interview room and asked why she wants to work here, she flashes to Jong-seok’s rebuke that she’s too fixated on fear of falling. And that’s enough to prod her into motion; she apologizes and runs out, heading for the other interview.
She’s only got minutes to get there, so she stops a man on the street and borrows his scooter — aw, here I thought the scooter was just going to be a flat metaphor, but now it comes full circle. While Nae-sang races to make his job commitment, Jin-hee weaves through traffic, her determination to make the interview pushing aside her fear.
Nae-sang arrives just in time, and joins his extras in the sageuk drama shoot, which calls for a group of commoners to fall to the ground in lament. Thinking of all his friends pulling through for him, Nae-sang loses himself in his own grief and cries so pathetically that the director gives him his own close-up.
And Jin-hee bursts through the doors just in time to make it for her dream job interview.
EPISODE 116 WEECAP
Lee Juck introduces this episode by explaining that life sure is unpredictable, just as Nae-sang gets an unexpected phone call. It’s that backstabber Woo-yeon who embezzled his company and ran off, asking to see him now.
The family wonders if this means Woo-yeon is planning to repay the debt. They don’t know how to react, so Nae-sang runs through the various scenarios, to prepare accordingly:
- If he comes empty-handed, Nae-sang will beat him up and they’ll send him to the police station.
- If he pays them back partially, they’ll take the money, beat him a little, and kick him out.
- If he repays the full amount (3 billion won), they’ll invite him to dinner and let bygones be bygones.
When Woo-yeon arrives, the family watches him closely, waiting for cues to guide their behavior. All signs point to an empty-handed apology, as he explains that he’d been managing an election slush fund and invested the money, only to find himself scammed. Threatened with death, he had held them off with Nae-sang’s company money, but since that wasn’t enough, he ran away to preserve his life.
He doesn’t have any money now, but he has managed to get his hands on an old document from a religious sect, which is reportedly worth at least 1 billion won. That’s enough to keep the Ahns from the initial plan — beating and police — and Woo-yeon promises to go with Nae-sang to get it appraised. If it’s fake, he’ll turn himself in. If it’s real… can he have a loan?
Kye-sang is still teasing Ha-sun about the pantsing incident, and it mortifies her. The more he teases, the more upset she gets, so when Ji-seok proposes to teach Kye-sang a lesson, she eagerly agrees.
The couple lands on a plan: They’ll pretend to fight about Kye-sang, make him feel bad, then reveal that it was a joke. They wait for Kye-sang to come home, then launch into their faux fight — Ji-seok defends his brother, and Ha-sun snaps at him for siding against her. Kye-sang tries to calm them both down, but they ignore him and angrily break up.
Shocked, Kye-sang tries to convince Ji-seok to calm down and make amends, but Ji-seok huffs at him to butt out. The couple sneaks calls to each other to crow about their plan working, and decide to let Kye-sang stew overnight.
In the morning, the two ajusshis head out to the appraiser. Woo-yeon is so poor he doesn’t even have a jacket, and Nae-sang lends him one of his. Woo-yeon chokes on a bite of rice cake, which results in a panicked call to the ambulance and a successful Heimlich maneuver. But on their way out, Woo-yeon is hit… by the ambulance rushing to help him. Heh.
Thus begins their strange day, with each odd occurrence bringing them a little closer. The appraiser’s shop is closed for a couple of hours so the men head to a cafe to wait, where this time it’s Nae-sang who chokes on food. Woo-yeon piggybacks him to the hospital until the food dislodges.
Unfortunately, in their choking panic they leave Nae-sang’s jacket at the cafe, which gets scooped up by a beggar… including their meal ticket, the old document. The men sit in disbelief, until finally Woo-yeon shrugs off his borrowed jacket, puts it around Nae-sang, and promises to repay him when he can. And the document becomes part of the wall of the hobo’s cardboard-box home.
It’s sweet how Nae-sang means to treat him with icy distrust, but when push comes to shove they dash to help each other without even thinking about it. It’s like reverting to their familiar script as friends of forty years.
Kye-sang insists his brother make amends with his girlfriend and takes the first step toward reconciliation by apologizing to Ha-sun (who pretends to be peeved) for overdoing the jokes. He urges her to forgive Ji-seok and make up, and the lying couple immediately drops the angry act, even turning around Kye-sang’s annoying “Just joking!” catchphrase on him, to Kye-sang’s shock. Hahaha. Sorry buddy, you’re cute but you’ve had that coming for a hundred episodes.
Ha-sun gets a call from her father, though, which sends her hurrying to pack. Her mother has been diagnosed with early-stage cancer and wants to see Ha-sun before her surgery, and Kye-sang happens to be available when she needs a ride to the airport. She asks him to tell Ji-seok about the situation, but Ji-seok laughs it off, thinking it’s Kye-sang’s way of getting back at him for the prank. That’s what happens when you’re the boy who cried joke.
Lee Juck resumes the narration of today’s theme — life is unpredictable — as the kids find candy in Dad’s jacket and open the package, ignoring the lotto ticket inside…
EPISODE 117 WEECAP
Ji-seok is listless without Ha-sun around, while Nae-sang smarts from the loss of the 1 billion won document, still unaware of the lotto ticket sitting just feet away.
Soo-jung wants Seung-yoon to teach her guitar, but as with everything she’s impatient to skip the basics and get to the good part. She blames her poor skills on her guitar and grabs for Seung-yoon’s, but he balks — his guitar is precious to him, a gift from his father.
Ex-boyfriend Young-wook makes a reappearance, wanting to give Ha-sun something. Jin-hee tells him she’s dating Ji-seok now, but he refuses to believe it until he’s seen her with his own eyes, and Jin-hee warns Ji-seok, worrying that Ha-sun will be moved by pity.
Ji-seok has a nightmare about being one-upped by Young-wook, who gives Ha-sun a diamond ring to replace her couple ring. So when he sees the rival lurking the next day, the encounter is tense.
The two loverboys drink till they’re silly and belligerent, bickering back and forth until tensions erupt into a physical fight. They tussle (badly) with each other in the street, which is pretty hilarious, like monkeys throwing themselves at each other.
Ji-seok insists that he’s the boyfriend now, and Young-wook bursts out that he knows — he just can’t help wanting to see her anyway. He starts to cry, pointing out that Ji-seok is going crazy in the few days he’s been without her, but Young-wook has gone months.
Ji-seok looks at him with pity, but stubbornly declares that no, Young-wook can’t see Ha-sun. He’d better not dare.
Soo-jung leaves for an overnight English contest/exam, while Seung-yoon gets a call alerting him to his draft notice. He’d missed the notice in the mail and his enlistment date is tomorrow, but he reacts like it’s not a big deal. He tells the family not to plan a big send-off, either, since it’ll be easier to leave without an emotional goodbye.
He has a last drink with Jong-seok and heads down to see his family that night, and on the way he gets a call from Soo-jung on her trip. She asks him to sing a lullaby since she’s having trouble falling asleep, so he obliges with a song right there in the empty bus.
After he’s done, Seung-yoon tells her about going to army tomorrow and gives her a few last words, like how she ought to practice the guitar every day. But she’s asleep, and doesn’t hear him.
In the morning, the Ahn family sends Seung-yoon off to the training center, while Ha-sun returns to Korea. Ji-seok greets her excitedly at the airport, though he can’t help looking around for Young-wook, half-expecting him to pop up.
Ji-seok spots him lurking around the corner as they arrive home, and recalls Young-wook’s misery. Feeling sympathetic, he gives Young-wook the opening and steps aside, telling the couple to take their time talking.
Young-wook tells Ha-sun the truth about failing the test and lying to spare her. But now he really has passed, and wanted to show her the real deal. He tells her she looks happy, and starts to take out his gift — a jewelry box — but thinks better of it, and just bids her goodbye. Ha-sun congratulates him and he walks away, sad but dignified.
Young-wook takes out the necklace he’d meant to give her — it’s a diamond heart, to replace the paper clip one he made her – and hangs it on a tree… only to return a few seconds later to retrieve it. Too bad for him a passing woman has spotted it and claimed it first, and she refuses to hand it over. (Trivia: It’s Young-wook’s old teammate from ’90s kpop group Roo’Ra, ha.)
Soo-jung comes home shocked to hear about Seung-yoon’s drafting, and takes off for training center. She comes running up and kicks him, angry that he didn’t tell her. Seung-yoon’s just glad he got to say goodbye after all, admitting that he was sad he didn’t get the chance. She sees him off with a curiously upset look on her face, then comes home to find Seung-yoon’s guitar wrapped in a bow, along with a notebook of chords and tips.
Soo-jung writes him a letter, unaware that Seung-yoon returns to the house, having been sent back due to a health complication caught in his physical. He’s been instructed to get treatment and then return to training. But Soo-jung doesn’t know that and practices Seung-yoon’s guitar in her room, crying.
EPISODE 118 WEECAP
Thankfully, that lotto ticket is discovered by the family, and the kids look up the number. To their shock, it wins the second-place jackpot of 80 million won, or about $75,000.
Nae-sang wants to invest to build back the company, but Yoo-sun reminds him they have to repay Kye-sang, who lent them 100 million. It’s such a great opportunity to grow the business that Nae-sang nags her to change her mind, but the family is split on the issue: Yoo-sun warns that they ought to pay the money back while they have it, but Nae-sang says it can be an investment that he’ll repay once the company expands.
Kye-sang proposes a family vote, choosing to abstain, leaving the other five to decide.
Nae-sang strategizes, securing Soo-jung’s promise to support him. Yoo-sun and Ji-seok will vote against him, leaving Jong-seok as the swing vote. So Nae-sang gets to work trying to curry favor with his son, apologizing for putting him through tough times and hugging him.
Just to make sure, though, he thinks strategically when the kids fight over a free gift bag and look to Dad to settle the matter. He chooses Jong-seok to win his favor… only that pisses off Soo-jung, who calls him a traitor and vows to vote against him.
Jin-hee receives surprising good news: She made it to the final interview for her dream job after all. It’s a cause for celebration, until she looks online for information on the last round and sees how amazing everyone else is, with their fluency in English and study abroad experiences.
The stress triggers Jin-hee’s sleepwalking again, and the others wonder if there’s something they can do to help her.
The answer: Intensive Interview Training, with Julien giving her English lessons, Ha-sun handling styling and deportment, and Ji-won quizzing her on interview questions. Aw, that’s so sweet.
Jin-hee is grateful and goes along with the rigorous regimen, but truth be told it’s stressful in another way: Now she’s afraid of letting everyone down. She admits this to Kye-sang when running into him, and he cheers her up by offering to “sell” her a dream — he had a good-luck dream that seems to indicate she’ll pass the interview. She knows he’s just saying it for her benefit, but she’s happy that they can return to their formerly comfortable friendship.
The family votes on the lotto money, and to his surprise, Nae-sang wins, 3-2. He thanks Soo-jung for voting for him anyway, but she huffs that she didn’t. It’s not until later that he realizes that the deciding vote was written in his wife’s handwriting. Aw — so after all her opposition, she voted for her husband anyway.
Nae-sang smothers Yoo-sun in a hug and thanks her, which is just about my favorite moment between them thus far.
The morning of Jin-hee’s interview, she finds that Ha-sun slept with their wrists tied together — just in case Jin-hee sleepwalked. Julien cooks her favorite crab soup for breakfast, Ha-sun gives her good-luck shoes, and Ji-won gives her a snack. Jin-hee’s so moved that she looks on the verge of tears.
As expected, the other finalists are impressive, with smart, ready answers for everything. However, when the interviewer asks, “What is family?” he cuts off one interviewee for his canned response using a famous quote — he wants a real opinion.
Jin-hee is the next to get the question, and she thinks, then replies, “I think it’s like crab soup.” It makes the other interviewees smirk, but she explains how her favorite dish is made with crab from the sea, parsley from the mountain, and bean paste made by people — individually the ingredients have different tastes and origins, but they come together to make a whole.
Her family is like that, she explains, thinking of Ha-sun, Ji-won, and Julien. In fact, they’re not blood-related or even all from the same country, but they live in one house and have become a harmonious unit.
Her answer is heartfelt and the interviewers smile. And when it’s time to look up the results, her family is there to rejoice with her when she gets the job.
EPISODE 119 WEECAP
Ha-sun is warned to stop wearing contact lenses and goes to school in dorky coke-bottle glasses that make everyone laugh when they fog up or get cloudy with chalk dust. Ji-won suggests she get corrective surgery instead, so Ha-sun makes the appointment.
Jong-seok is going strong with his solo studies, and when he struggles with a problem, Seung-yoon suggests this could be his chance to ask Ji-won for help, and maybe get closer to her again. To get him to give up on pushing them together, Jong-seok tells Seung-yoon that she likes somebody else.
When Seung-yoon spots photos of Ji-won and Kye-sang, which she snatches away suspiciously, he guesses that she likes him. Ji-won’s never been much of a liar and doesn’t deny it, which sends Seung-yoon into a fit of frustration. He even wonders if it was Kye-sang who pursued her first, and is therefore cold to him the next time they meet.
Ji-won takes Ha-sun to get her laser eye surgery, and just before the appointment, Ha-sun sees that Ji-won’s been looking up information on doing volunteer work in Rwanda. Putting two and two together, she deduces that Ji-won is following Kye-sang… and that she likes him.
Ha-sun immediately launches into a lecture about why Ji-won can’t go, but the timing is so awkward that every time she starts, she gets interrupted. This results in a string of comic sequences because she can’t see after her surgery, but the humor of the physical jokes (Ha-sun getting into a patrol car instead of the taxi, talking in the wrong direction) clashes starkly with the seriousness of her emotions.
This also leads to a number of ironic comments, like when Ha-sun scolds Ji-won for her head being in the wrong place or not seeing front from back, when it’s Ha-sun who wears a hoodie backwards. Ji-won is evasive, just saying that it’s not about Kye-sang, and leaves Ha-sun mid-argument, taking advantage of the fact that Ha-sun can’t see.
Seung-yoon is dealing with a case of itchy feet, having contracted athlete’s foot at the army training center. Everyone else is creeped out by his feet, warning him not to touch their things, so it’s especially confusing when Kye-sang offers to treat them. He washes Seung-yoon’s feet in a cooling vinegar solution, and that throws Seung-yoon into confusion, even making him cry at the kindness — especially since the others treat him like he’s dirty.
Kye-sang just says that diseases don’t make people dirty, and adds that he knows Seung-yoon wouldn’t hate him without a reason. Therefore, he trusts that there’s a good explanation for his cold behavior toward him.
Our narrator tells us that this is Seung-yoon’s first-ever religious experience, and he starts envisioning a halo around Kye-sang’s head. He starts asking Kye-sang for advice on every little dilemma (what to eat for lunch, for example), and starts recording his observations in a notebook.
In fact, when the notebook is discovered in the tunnel a hundred years later, titled Record of Kye-sang, the finders speculate that it’s a religious text. (In a hilariously somber tone, they read about Kye-sang uttering such words of wisdom as waiting for outlet sales, or preferring checkered boxers to dots.)
Ha-sun continues to try to appeal to Ji-won, which is like arguing with a brick wall. Ji-won tells her that she wants to be happy, because she’s never felt that. She tries to have friends and live her life, but she’s always lonely.
Ha-sun begs her to think of her father, crying that ever since Ji-won came to live with her she’s considered her a sister. Every time she has something to decide, she asks herself how Ji-won’s father would have done things.
The entreaties don’t seem to sway Ji-won much. When Ha-sun can finally take off her dark glasses and open her eyes, Ji-won’s the first thing she sees, who asks, “Do you see me?” Ha-sun asks her again not to go, and this time Ji-won agrees to reconsider.
At school, Ha-sun sees Ji-won chatting with her classmates, thinking over Ji-won’s comment about not being happy. But she’s sure that Rwanda isn’t the answer, and vows not to let her go.
Yay for Jin-hee! Aw, I love that she finally got that job (a regular, full-time corporate position with growth opportunity, not something like the clinic which was always a temporary gig). Jin-hee has had some frustrating ups and downs, with perhaps more downs, which always made me feel for her — but she hasn’t been without her fumbles, which sometimes kept me from being 100% for her. I wanted her to do well, but I wanted her to earn it (not, say, cheat). And I feel like she really earned this, so it makes me feel proud, like watching a little sister growing up.
The way her housemates came together to support her was a lovely way to bring us to her victory, and I love that they interlinked her alterna-family storyline with the family voting story. It’s not that her honorary family is better or worse than the blood bonds linking their next-door neighbors, so it’s a nice way of highlighting both versions, side by side.
The eyesight storyline gives us an interesting metaphor to mark the conflict of Ha-sun not “seeing” Ji-won’s point, and I was struck with Ji-won’s question, “Do you see me?” As in, really see me — see me as a person with my own mind and wishes. The thing that has me feeling conflicted is that I see Ji-won’s point, but I don’t think she’s acting for the right reasons, either. I, like Ji-won, chafe a bit when the older guardian says, “Just trust me, I know you think this now, but I know best.” Because she’s almost a legal adult, and she’s a pretty smart cookie, so you figure she can make some decisions for herself.
Her point about not being happy isn’t a childish insistence on having fun, but a valid desire to live life with joy. But in fixating on Rwanda — even if you disregard her crush on Kye-sang — it feels like she’s substituted somebody else’s answer for her problem, and I feel like Ji-won needs to find her own solution. Something unique to herself, because otherwise she won’t find that personal joy she’s seeking.
The lotto voting was a sweet way to draw out the best part of the marital relationship, in an understated way that doesn’t hit us over the head with goopy-sweet statements or grand gestures. Nae-sang is struggling to rebuild his company from nothing, and while it’s not his fault that his first company collapsed, you can’t fault anybody for being wary about his future. I’m right there with Yoo-sun in thinking his investment scheme sounds risky, and would probably have voted to repay their debt instead of putting all their eggs in the company basket. But when she ultimately votes for her husband, it’s a statement of faith, and it’s a wonderful, low-key way to get the point across. She may still think her way is smarter, but she’s putting her faith in Nae-sang to succeed and deliver, and that in turn bolsters his faith in himself even more. Aww.
- High Kick 3: Episodes 110-114
- High Kick 3: Episodes 105-109
- High Kick 3: Episodes 100-104
- High Kick 3: Episodes 95-99
- High Kick 3: Episodes 90-94
- High Kick 3: Episodes 85-59
- High Kick 3: Episodes 82-84
- High Kick 3: Episodes 78-81
- High Kick 3: Episodes 73-77
- High Kick 3: Episodes 68-72
- High Kick 3: Episodes 63-67
- High Kick 3: Episodes 59-62
- High Kick 3: Episodes 54-58
- High Kick 3: Episodes 49-53
- High Kick 3: Episodes 45-48
- High Kick 3: Episodes 40-44
- High Kick 3: Episodes 35-39
- High Kick 3: Episodes 30-34
- High Kick 3: Episodes 25-29
- High Kick 3: Episodes 22-24
- High Kick 3: Episodes 18-21
- High Kick 3: Episodes 14-17
- High Kick 3: Episodes 10-13
- High Kick 3: Episodes 5-9
- High Kick 3: Episodes 1-4