Princey gets mad and Hang-ah gets even. Serves ya right. There’s a little Love Connection, a dash of Speed, some man-on-man, an international incident over underwear, and someone ends up in a body bag. Not necessarily in that order.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Hang-ah cries at Jae-ha’s horrible taunting (post blackmail), and storms into the bathroom. The tears actually take him aback, and he stands there muttering why’d she have to go and cry, like you’re not the schoolboy who just pulled her pigtails.
Meanwhile, Bong-gu sits through a presentation on weapons that tested well in various war-torn countries, and stops to cry at the music playing in the background, noting that his father liked this song. He bursts into tears as if it’s perfectly normal to grieve the father you killed. And then he adds, “Hitler also liked this song.” Okay, Crazy.
Jae-ha tries to make nice with Hang-ah in the gym, and says he heard that she sprained her ankle. So…when she was crying, it was because of the pain, right? Are you actually trying to get out of feeling guilty right now? You don’t get to do that!
He sidles up and tries to tend to her foot back in friend-mode, but she ices him and walks away. He tries again in their room, offering her some of his girlier skincare products, and hooking up a humidifier, to no avail. (How much do I love that Princey travels with his own humidifier to keep his skin soft? Pfft.)
In the war (training) room, the team gathers to talk strategy, and Hang-ah interrupts to confess that she joined this team for the wrong reasons, so she should quit. I cringe for her as she says it out loud—that she joined the team on the promise of her general that he’d find her a man.
This isn’t what he expected, but Jae-ha is quick to help her tell the story and confirm it, and suggests that they all support her decision and help her pack so she can hurry along with the husband-hunting.
But then one by one, the rest of the team pipes up to say that if that’s the case, they have to quit too, since none of them joined for the lofty ideals of reunification and all that—they did it to selfishly advance their military careers.
Kang-seok says he actually DID join for reunification, but then takes Hang-ah’s hand and asks her to stay and lead them anyway. Young-bae adorably takes the other hand, and the three of them sit there holding hands, and Hang-ah smiles, genuinely moved.
Even Dong-ha and Shi-kyung tell her to stay, as Jae-ha deflates. HA. And that’s what being beat at your own game looks like. It required the outing of an embarrassing secret, but now she’s got the respect of the team and Jae-ha’s got nuthin’ on her.
Back in their room, Jae-ha tries pushing his luck anyway and tells her that he’s still not going to do any special training. Surprisingly, she agrees right away, and then even turns to ask him what kind of women men like. Oh, this is gonna be good.
He happily gets back into the gabby advice groove and tells her that north, south, east or west, all men are the same: Number 1 is looks. Doesn’t even matter what numbers 2 through 95 are—she just has to be pretty. Number 2: “Oppa.” Oy. I love how predictable he is.
He demonstrates, “Oppa, you’re so handsome! Oppa, you’re the best!” She nods, taking it all in. Number 3: she has to be understanding… to the point that she accepts anything, no matter if he makes no money or cheats. *facepalm*
Number 4: aegyo, which he demonstrates with balled up fists to his cheeks, just short of puing-puing-ing at her. Number 5: she has to be innocent by day and sexy by night. Why does it always come back to sexy librarian?
She finally asks, “So… those women… do they like YOU?” He guffaws that she ought to know since she studied his file – he’s a PRINCE. Duh. She suddenly switches to banmal, talking down to him: “So without that title, what’ve you got?” Touché.
She mimics him, saying that all women are the same—they want caring, dependable, understanding men—so what could he possibly have to offer a real woman? Ha. She mocks his aegyo right back at him, asking if women follow him around pouting, “Princey, Princey,” but what they’re really doing is laughing behind his back.
She gets under his skin, and it’s awesome watching him squirm when he takes a hit to his pride. Hang-ah: “Tell the truth. You’re scared too, aren’t you… that you’ll never find someone to love you?” He gulps as she names his fears one after the other, and then lands the kicker—that she feels sorry for him. Ouuuuch.
She even cuts off his angry retort: “Are you mad?” like she’s talking to a five-year old. It’s awesome. She says if he’s angry they can duke it out, and taunts him even more, saying that he’s probably scared and looking for a way out like he always does.
She tells him that he has no spirit, no temper, not even any pride. That’s enough to finally make him crack, and he stands up to challenge her. She smiles.
The bet? A treadmill race, and the winner gets a wish. Jae-ha names his right off the bat—that Hang-ah starts packing. They run.
The rest of the team meets for class, and they wonder what’s keeping them. Shi-kyung gets a text from Hang-ah, asking him to cover for them because of the race. Suddenly an explosion rings out, and the team runs to find a soldier with his legs blown to bits after running on a treadmill.
Shi-kyung takes off running. An alarm sounds and everyone is ordered outside, but Hang-ah and Jae-ha ignore it, not wanting to be the first to throw the race. Shi-kyung bursts inside to tell them to stay on… because the treadmills are rigged to blow when they stop.
Hahahaha. Is it Speed for treadmills? HEE.
Startled, Jae-ha nearly trips, but Shi-kyung holds him up to regain his footing. And then suddenly the gym is crawling with the bomb squad, as they run, literally for their lives.
They find pressure sensors inside, so there’s no way to swap out runners, and they can’t even put bulletproof vests on them because of the weight. They just have to run until the bombs can be disarmed, no matter how long it takes.
They start to wear down and tell each other that they didn’t mean all those things before, and give each other encouragement, like “You have pride!” and “You’re sexy!” which is just hysterically ill-fitting for the situation.
Hang-ah’s ankle starts to hurt, so Jae-ha thinks of things to distract them, and asks her to sing a song. So she starts to sing and they all chime in, to keep the runners focused on something else.
Nightfall, and they’re still running. Jae-ha starts murmuring that he can see his father, and Hang-ah tells him to focus on his breathing, and lock his gaze on something in the distance.
As the background fades and they run in slow motion, we hear Hang-ah’s instructions to him in voiceover—to tell himself he’s only going a short distance, to lock down his heart, to be light on his feet, and to ride the rhythm.
They turn to look at each other sweetly. Finally, after hours and hours, they disarm the bombs. Hang-ah is the first to get an okay, and her legs immediately give out while the treadmill is still going. She’s thrown to the ground.
Jae-ha wakes up in the infirmary, and breathes a sigh of relief at waking up alive. He looks over to find Hang-ah sleeping in the bed next to his, her ankle wrapped in bandages.
He hobbles over to her bed and raises his hand slowly. He smoothes the hair out of her face, waking her up with a start. She knocks his hand away brusquely and asks what he’s doing.
He stammers that he was just brushing away her hair, and asks gently if she’s okay. I love it—he thinks they’re friends now, while she’s like, why are you acting nice? Basically he feels closer to her after the trauma, while she retorts, “When’d you have the bombs installed?” HA.
Cut to: debriefing with their generals, where they go back and forth blaming each other for the attack—she suggested the bet, he went to the gym, she said they should train there, he was the one who whined about it being too cold outside, on and on.
They don’t even realize they’re like an old married couple already, ignoring the generals as they continue. He says it has to be the north, while she counters that she wouldn’t bother with such a silly little contraption—she’d just go BOOM! Jae-ha: “Look at that. Look at the way she speaks. She IS a bomb!” Oh, you two.
Meanwhile, Jae-kang hears about the attack on Jae-ha and that he’s okay. He’s asked to meet with M Society, and though Secretary Eun advises against it, Jae-kang says they have to be dealt with at some point.
Bong-gu greets the king excitedly, wanting to start with a magic trick, while Jae-kang remains stone-faced. Bong-gu plays with his cards as he asks about the attack on the WOC. Jae-kang takes that as confirmation that he’s behind it, but Bong-gu laughs that no, he just sells the bombs; he doesn’t use them.
And then he adds the vague question why the bombs were used—a warning? No, then at least thirty would be dead. Boredom? Getting rid of surplus product? Jae-kang asks if that’s why his father died—boredom or getting rid of surplus.
Bong-gu ends his card trick by revealing one card on the table. He turns it over and it’s a tarot card for Justification. “Nowadays, the stronger the country, the more highly they regard justification. But the second they find one, they go all the way. No one can stop them.”
Just then, Jae-kang receives a phone call—it’s Secretary Eun, alerting him to the fact that the U.S. and China have made a political issue over the bombs. They’ve ordered an inspection of all military training facilities. Jae-kang looks up at Bong-gu, who beams.
And then in no time, the North Korean base is crawling with UN officials from China and the States, and I swear, I’d rather hear real actors mangle the language than to have the parade of wooden acting march through and shoot me right out of the narrative. Sigh.
They toss the base upside-down, basically treating everyone like a criminal. Jae-ha sits by, enduring it because he’s told that South Korea signed off on it.
As they search the rooms, they find Hang-ah’s locked case, the one she keeps her underwear in, and order her to open it. She hesitates, saying they can x-ray it to make sure it doesn’t have anything dangerous, but they refuse.
She and the case get hauled up to the officials, sitting in a room with Jae-ha. And then when she protests, the official from the U.S. accuses her of being a spy because she cried, according to security footage. (What, did you get a matrix-download of all the CCTVs in the time it took her to walk down the hall?)
His argument: that tears are a woman’s weapon (BARF) and that makes her a spy. WUT? Anyone got a harpoon handy? What’s with the rampant sexism, assface? C’mere, I’ll show you a weapon.
They order her to open the case. She looks up at Jae-ha, who turns away. Aw, say it ain’t so, Jae-ha. She resigns herself and starts to undo the combination lock…
Suddenly Jae-ha asks, casual as you please, “Hey, when’s the cafeteria close? Is it Ramyun Day? Let’s go eat.” He takes the case, grabs her wrist, and marches her right out of the room.
It’s a sweet gesture, because she might have the upper hand in everything else, but in matters of diplomacy, Princey’s got a little more weight. It’s not like she needs rescuing in that kind of situation, but it’s his choice to help her preserve her dignity, which is sweet.
The officials chase after them, threatening to pull their team from the WOC. But Jae-ha turns back unfazed, countering that it’s a worldwide competition—do they own the world? He guesses that they didn’t even go through the proper UN channels.
“So what are the rest of the countries? Your bridesmaids?” He says this is a case where they should be asking nicely if they can conduct an inspection, not bulldozing them, “You sons of bitches!”
Heeeee. It’s so satisfying to hear him swear at them. Hang-ah grins. Even Shi-kyung looks proud and amazed, if a little taken aback.
After being sworn at by their translators (Haha, why is being sworn at second-hand inherently funnier?) they change their tactic and ask if they can be allowed to inspect. Jae-ha gets right up in his face to say, “No. Get out.” He turns back and takes Hang-ah by the hand as they walk away. Nice.
Jae-kang poses for a royal portrait as he’s told about Jae-ha’s outburst. “Son… of a… bitch?” At first you think he’s going to blow, but then he bursts into laughter, over and over again. Heh. He’s so randomly cute sometimes.
Bong-gu sits around playing with his magic tricks and fumes that North and South Koreas are on a crash course with each other, but the king keeps getting in the way. A lizard is his royal metaphor of choice today, and he picks it up, “But you still think you’re a dragon.”
Back at the base, Jae-ha’s ego has ballooned proportionately of course, as he chatters on through battle simulation that his outburst was really a carefully-laid plan, not just a temper flare. Uh-huh.
Kang-seok makes a move to shield him from something, getting up close and personal as a result. Are you guys gonna kiss? Jae-ha: “And what position is this?” Um, I’d call it man-on-man? Ship-to-barnacle? They take an awkward pause before detaching.
Still fixated on his own awesomeness, he asks Shi-kyung what he thought of the UN outburst. He just gets a silent thumbs-up, and Jae-ha gripes that he’s always too cool for school. Hidden out of view, Shi-kyung smiles to himself. Aw, you are so gonna be besties someday.
He asks Dong-ha, who heard about it from Young-bae, who heard about it from Hang-ah. Jae-ha grins ear to ear at that, and calls out her name… just in time for her to answer him with a simulation bullet to the heart. Bam. He does not look happy about being dead. She sticks out her tongue, just to rub it in.
I love that they role-play to the point that she puts him in a body bag, while crows circle overhead. Heh, nice touch. As she starts zipping him up, he argues, “You can’t do this to me. If it weren’t for me, your panties would be exposed all over the place!”
She zips it all the way up over his blabbering head, and as he shouts to be let out, she stands up and says under her breath, “Thank you.” Aw. But he doesn’t hear it of course: “What? Kim Hang-ah! Are you swearing at me? I heard you!” Pffffft.
Kang-seok sits in front of the tv, mesmerized by something… which turns out to be a SNSD video (because Jae-ha had insisted on having a South Korean tv feed to make life bearable on the base).
He literally gets hypnotized by the dancing girls, and struggles not to fall in love, but it’s a losing battle. When Jae-ha walks in, he turns the tv off and starts doing weird chair-sit-ups like a crazy man. This whole sequence is killing me.
When he leaves, Jae-ha flips on the tv and just about dies when he realizes what’s going on. Kang-seok confesses his troubles to Hang-ah: “Ever since that day, those girls’ legs won’t leave my brain for a moment.”
He tells her he’s done all manner of things to try and excise them, to no avail. Hang-ah: “Ahhhh, SNSD.” The seriousness with which they speak of his affliction is So. Funny.
Hang-ah’s father gets an update on her progress from the North Korean general, who also happens to mention that her true concern is in finding a match, and tells him about the deal to get her to join the team.
It weighs on him, and he decides to throw her name into the mix of potential brides for Jae-ha after all. Jae-kang looks over the various profiles, and Secretary Eun says that these are the best candidates.
Jae-kang says what’s important is Jae-ha’s heart: “It’s not the Joseon era, after all.” Uh, says the king arranging a political marriage for his brother? Anyway, he calls Jae-ha, who greets him doughnut in his piehole, as usual.
He postures in front of his hyung like almost getting killed with a bomb was no biggie, and he’s only saying this now, but he actually lied about his height (by a centimeter, ha) and played around because he didn’t want to threaten his hyung’s throne. “Everyone knows I’m handsome, talented, and smart—I’m way more king material than you are.”
I have no idea how Jae-kang endured a lifetime of being this kid’s hyung. This whole video conference kills me—it’s the little things, like the fact that he’s saying all this with a ring of doughnut powder all over his mouth.
So Jae-kang finally broaches the subject—isn’t he going to get married? Jae-ha immediately deflects, asking if he’s having trouble conceiving. He goes on and on about how hyung is no spring chicken anymore, and he needs to secure a line of succession, otherwise Jae-ha’s next in line, and that’s a big no-no.
Jae-kang: “What about Kim Hang-ah?” Jae-ha still thinks they’re talking about hyung, and gapes, wondering what he’s going to do about his wife then. Hahaha. He sighs like an ajumma that he heard mid-life crises are scary, but two households? And with a North Korean woman at that?
Jae-kang laughs, “Not for me. For YOU. To marry.”
Cut to Hang-ah, who’s hearing the same proposal from Dad. She’s like, of all the men in the entire world, this is the one you find?! Dad tells her that there’s nothing to say that her husband need be from their own country. Hang-ah: “Fine, then what about Brad Pitt? Bring Obama then!”
Back to Jae-ha, who collects himself and deadpans that Hang-ah is AWESOME—she’s got a great personality, her skin is nice and rough, she’s super strong, she’s got a great personality…. Jae-kang reads loud and clear, “Is she really that bad?”
He keeps going, “No! No! She’s great! Would we live in the south? Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah we can live down there, and she can help Mom, and we can send our leftover rice to the north! Yeah!” Gack! I’m cringing and I’m laughing.
He goes on and on, finally ending with her poison needles and how she’ll kill them all in their sleep. “I’m sorry, hyung, but no matter how much I love her, I can’t watch you die.” He hangs up.
What? I’m sorry, did you just say, No matter how much I love her?
Dude, you are so busted.
Hang-ah walks out of her meeting with Dad reeling from the crazy, only she stops to think for a second about Jae-ha. She remembers the hand-grazing, and the underwear rescue, and the dream-kiss…
But then the thoughts are swiftly replaced by his taunting, and him saying that she’s not a woman. She shakes it off that she’d be crazy. Her thoughts are interrupted by a snowball attack—it’s Shi-kyung, who’s playing in the snow with the rest of the team.
He asks her to join them. It’s then that she flashes back to Dad asking that fine, if not the prince, then is there anyone around her who could be a prospect? She looks back out at Shi-kyung, and thinks back to his swoony song. She decides to join the game, and launches a snowball at the back of his head.
Jae-ha walks by and sees them playing and scoffs, but then stops when he remembers that hyung said Hang-ah’s father was giving her the same proposal. Suddenly he can’t help but be curious what she said in response.
He watches as she flirts with Shi-kyung, actually bearing his teeth when he sees Shi-kyung brush the snow off her leg. He’s like, that’s it, and gathers up all the snow he can. Hang-ah calls out to Shi-kyung, but Jae-ha comes up behind her… and dumps a bucket of snow on her head. HA.
You are such a child. She turns around with a big dollop of snow on her head like a hat, as he asks, “Is this your plan?” She has no idea what he’s talking about, but he says sure, it must seem nice—royal marriage and all, “But making me jealous? Isn’t that a little childish?”
Pfffft. Genius you are not.
Hang-ah: “Jealous?” He keeps blathering on, but she just blinks, “What do you mean, jealous?” It finally dawns on him that he’s showing his hand.
“Is this you, being jealous?” He just stares blankly, wishing he could take back the words. She puts a hand on his shoulder in sympathy, “Do you like me that much?”
It’s delightfully patronizing. He scoffs that she’s crazy, but it’s too late for that, and she just runs back to Shi-kyung with a skip in her step. Jae-ha watches them play, fuming with jealousy.
I was sure that they wouldn’t keep us waiting too long to turn the romantic tables, since letting Jae-ha’s mockery just lie there any longer would’ve made us start hating the hero, but even just one episode later, it’s so satisfying to see Hang-ah outwardly regaining the upper hand. Inwardly, their feelings seem to be pretty equal, though I think she’s aware and chooses not to like him, while he’s totally unaware but spazzing left and right—one minute he’s yelling at the bully who’s being mean to her and then the next he’s back to pulling her pigtails. I like that every time we think they’re headed one way, one of them takes a sharp left turn.
I really love the banter between them—it’s been a while since I’ve really liked a version of the classic hate-banter, which is a standby rom-com trope of course, but isn’t often done successfully. But when the wits are matched, and especially when there’s no fear of making the characters look ridiculous or absurd, then you can mine some really great moments, just in pure back-and-forth rapid-fire dialogue. I love that they’re equally witty and idiotic—sometimes when Jae-ha is doing the same bantering with his hyung it cracks me up even more, because he’s even less guarded with him. The fact that the drama doesn’t consider anyone too precious to be made into an absolute fool is what makes the tone work.
But the drama’s not without its faults, of course. There are extended stretches of time spent with the villain that I’m not sure are all that useful, besides which most of them being populated with cringeworthy dayplayers. He’s interesting as an absurd archvillain, but I think villains are always best in small doses; otherwise they lose their scary factor. Less is always more there, and I wish we’d focus on the interesting and legitimately creepy moments with Bong-gu and skip the rest of the crap.
I think Jae-kang is used judiciously as a character, because I feel the king’s presence, but never too much to detract from the main plot. I do love every brotherly interaction so I could do with more of that, but I’m sure we’ll get to that once he’s back from training. Shi-kyung is another character I want more of, and I’m glad that Hang-ah sees something in him by the end of the episode. Even if he’s just a stand-in to get Jae-ha’s jealousy motor revving (plotwise, not her intentions) I think they’re a cute pair.
At first I just assumed that Jae-ha and Hang-ah would hate each other and be forced to marry anyway, but I really like this new development—maybe there won’t be any forcing after all? Or maybe they’ll both pretend to give in like it’s the end of the world? Convenient, when arranged marriages let you preserve your pride that way.