Noble Idiocy? That’s not what I ordered. Why are you coming and ruining my kimchi? Wait, is this even about kimchi anymore?
EPISODE 12 RECAP
The boardinghouse throws Kang-jae a birthday surprise of confetti and cake the next morning. Hey Mom, I think the bomb that Dad killed off the father of your children officially makes it the worst birthday gift ever.
Kang-jae covers up his dampened mood with his usual bravado that he’s never been surprised before. With a smile he excuses himself from the festivities because he’s allergic to birthday cake. Allergic?! Inconceivable!
Gun-hee knocks on his door to bring him some anyway, but he’s gone. We get a quick flashback to earlier that morning when Kang-jae read up on old headlines concerning the fishing accident.
Bad news bears for Chinjung Kimchi. Dad’s secretary reports that sales have been declining since early last week and their regular clients have been dropping like flies. The general manager notes that Kang-jae isn’t showing respect to his parents on his birthday and Dad shuts him up that they’re talking about HIS kid. Aw.
Which is when Kang-jae shows up in sweats and jeans, inebriated. He doesn’t mask his midday drunken state but with a deep sigh, he asks mumbling if it’s true. Dad is confused at the cryptic question and he comes out with it – did he kill off Gun-hee’s father?
Shocked faces everywhere and Kang-jae follows up that it isn’t true right? Dad’s secretary butts in that Kang-jae doesn’t know anything but what else does he need to know? His attempts to keep the truth he already knows at a safe distance just about kills me.
It doesn’t matter who he heard the news from and Kang-jae pleads that Dad tells him that he’s mistaken, that he’s talking nonsense. But Dad clams up and Kang-jae takes his leave, accepting his silence as his answer.
Dad paces back and forth in his office, contemplating whether or not to call but doesn’t.
Kang-jae trudges back home and lingers outside. His ears perk up at the sound of Gun-hee’s voice and he pouts that he was at least somewhat content with his life but now he’s suddenly sad.
Gun-hee just accepts his childish pout as a part of his character – strange but cute. She adorably comforts him in maternal babytalk and he looks up, his eyes starting to shake, “Gun-hee, don’t hate me. If you hate me… I’m afraid that you’ll hate me.”
She simply instructs him to come inside and like the innocent 4 year-old to ask Mom not to punish him before he admits to what he did wrong, he insists that she agree not to despise him, and Gun-hee does.
How much do I love that their exchange takes place right by the light pole where they’ve had many a romantic exchange plus the added Romeo-Juliet setting?
The other boarders are out on a hike and Sun-hee’s been praising her new boyfriend all morning. She notes that Min-ji is still recovering from her one-sided crush rejection and makes the effort to apologize for everything once they’re alone.
Back home, however, a pot clatters to the floor and Mom clutches her stomach in pain. Uh-oh, looks like said cancer is starting to take its toll.
She excuses herself from breakfast as the boarders delightfully dip their spoons to dig in… and reels from the saltiness. Everyone finds it inedible except Kang-jae who comments that it’s the most delicious meal he’s ever had.
Gun-hee is distracted at work, finding it strange that the taste of Mom’s cooking has changed. Chinjung’s declining sales concern her as well since Mom tastes each batch of kimchi herself. Her secret is in the quality of salt because Mom believes that salt brought out the food’s sweetness not saltiness.
Meanwhile memories with Mom from their first kimchi on rice exchange to calling her Mother replay in Kang-jae’s head.
The general manager joins him on the rooftop and explains that the fathers started a business together with the shared vision to enrich the world with their food. Dad is simply trying to fulfill that dream.
Kang-jae scoffs when he hears the name of the company: Sangcharim. The pieces start to fall into place and the way that he sees it, Dad pulled the company from under his friend’s feet and now plans to overtake Chinjung as well.
No matter what the manager says in defense that Dad has good intentions, Kang-jae doesn’t know who or what to believe anymore.
He does his best to put on an unconcerned smile when Gun-hee berates him for missing the team meeting. She pulls him aside and points her nose in the air that it’s too late to give him his birthday present. Hilariously, he gapes, “That’s a shame.”
They scuttle off into a stairwell and Gun-hee demands a childish taunt to prod it out of her to which he willingly complies. The curiosity keeps eating at him which when she pushes him against the wall (rawr) and leans in close for a kiss.
He’s in no mood for kisses, tossing out that they’re at the workplace. Gun-hee quickly apologizes to cover up her embarrassment, and turns away.
As soon as she turns away, he pulls her in for a back hug. His eyes closed, he asks that they remain like this just for a moment.
In his office, Dad comments that the repercussions of the parents’ actions are affecting the children. At the same time, Mom wonders how to tell the news to her children.
Gun-hee complains aloud that the attempted kiss was a huge step of courage for a woman to take. Kang-jae defends that he was just surprised and she scowls asking if he expected cash instead.
She jumps into an elevator in a distracted moment and orders that he’ll meet her downstairs if he’s so sorry. He doesn’t believe her and she presses the button. Kang-jae laughs at the absurdity of the situation when the door closes…then makes a run for it. HA.
He barely makes it down two stories when he stops, tears in danger of filling his eyes. This is how Gun-hee finds him and he explains that he was just resting. A slip on the stairs has him falling right into her arms and he coyly asks, “Can I get a refill on that birthday present?” RAWR.
Gun-hee socks him in his side and calls it his “birthday punch” and skips away. Hehe.
Looks like Sun-hee and Jang-won are going ahead with wedding preparations as Min-jung is enlisted to help her unni. She’s totally professional during their exchange, and they try dress after dress as Min-jung explains in voiceover how she’s picked out every detail down to the wedding hall to personally match the couple.
Jang-won is none too pleased to see Kyung-joo, his ex come waltzing in to the coffee shop. Kyung-joo digs in that he must not have forgotten about her if he’s still coming to their old shop but Jang-won coldly dismisses her way.
So she asks if he thinks he can make Sun-hee happy and he says, “Even if it’s small, we’ll head in the same direction. We’ll laugh and cry for the same reasons.” Kyung-joo brazenly offers that they start over, to walk the same path.
This is the moment when Sun-hee marches in. Lifting the wedding dress so he can see, she admits that she never thought that she’d get the chance to wear one. She asks: “When I wear this, can you be my side?”
Er, wait – is this a proposal? Oh Sun-hee you are tttthiiisss closeee to becoming a stalker. She turns to Kyung-joo and says that’s not sorry in the least, because at least she’s being genuine.
They exit the coffeehouse together and Jang-won apologizes for making things harder for her. With a smile, she assures him that he can make her happy from now on.
Gun-hee and Kang-jae pull up to Chinjung and confronts Director Park. He won’t budge to disclose a thing and she exposes that the rumors that the company’s going under are false. She’s checked with the bank, so what’s actually going on?
She repeats the question when Mom comes in only to be told that she’ll be told “later.” Gun-hee pouts that ever since Mom took over the company, she’s only seen her back. Even when she needed her mother the most after she realized that she wasn’t her biological daughter, she was always second to the company.
Mom must think that Gun-hee only thinks about herself but what’s the difference now? Was there ever a time when she depended on her children for support? Or did she ever let them? Thanks to the company she’s felt like she’s never had a mother.
Then she digs in the final nail – if Chinjung is too much for her mother to handle, she should sell it. Gun-hee is confused when Mom gasps, asking if she realizes what Chinjung is. Mom: “It’s your father! It’s your father’s vision!”
It strikes a chord with Gun-hee but she shrugs it off the next moment, “Then you should have sold it for more.” She instructs Mom to put her affairs in order because she can’t see Mom continue to lie to her family. If she can’t, then she’ll move out.
Kang-jae, who’s been on the sidelines this whole time, finally steps in but Mom shuts him up. She calls Gun-hee’s bluff, that she cannot acknowledge a daughter who cannot realize her father’s dream.
Gun-hee storms off and Mom orders Kang-jae to stay out of their family’s business, adding that things would have never come to this if their families weren’t involved.
Kang-jae stops her in her tracks, telling her that her anger shouldn’t be geared towards Mom but President Lee. He asks her to assess Dad’s intentions regarding Chinjung but all Gun-hee hears is him mention business again and tells him that this concerns her mother and herself.
Mom braces herself again the pain as Gun-hee packs up her things. Brooding sessions all around as Dad mulls over an old photo of the three parents.
On a happier note, Jang-won reminds Sun-hee of his inadequacies but agrees to seek Mom’s blessing for their marriage.
More bad news on the Chinjung front – their salt provider fell through. Director Park: “The taste of the kimchi has changed.” Mom assures him that she’s on her way but it’s a good of a time as ever for her pain to kick in and she doubles over.
Su-ho approaches Kang-jae by the water cooler to check in if something’s the matter. Hey buddy, I thought we wrapped you up and sent you back with the bad kimchi.
Gun-hee hasn’t said anything but he recognizes that forced smile is a signal that something is weighing on her mind. She never liked talking about her father’s fatal accident and Kang-jae asks if she hated her father. All Su-ho knows is that she told him that her father had lied to her.
He advises Kang-jae that if he truthfully loves Gun-hee his actions should exhibit the same. Er, you’re giving Kang-jae love advice?
Kang-jae steps back into the office that he needs to speak with her and drags her out by the wrist. In a lowered voice he says in banmal that it can’t wait. Outside, he lets her know that he needs to tell her something important.
But then she receives a call from Sun-hee and drops her phone at the news – Mom’s fainted.
They rush to the hospital and Sun-hee informs them that the test results aren’t back yet, so they should talk outside.
It’s then that Gun-hee asks what Kang-jae had to tell her because she wants to hear before things get more complicated. Oh honey, it’s already complicated. He averts his eyes and tells her that he’s leaving the boardinghouse.
He lies that there’s a family situation and Gun-hee grows more concerned and confused. He continues, looking at her now: “It’s something I need to take care of. There’s no way if I don’t.”
SIGH. Hello Noble Idiocy. Meet Annoyance. Drama, you just jumped ship didn’t you? First birth secret, then secret illness, fatal accident, and now noble idiocy. And here I am drumming my fingers about why this needs to happen. In this drama. About kimchi and family and a boardinghouse. You didn’t have to go here…but you did.
What was seemingly supposed to be a happy-go-lucky forced cohabitation of, “Oops! I didn’t knock and now you’re in your underwear!” filled with metaphors about how the process of kimchi making is a reflection of life veered toward the age old conflict revolving mother and daughter and a company. Now we’re stuck circling this topic again and again while Kang-jae, who fell apart after hearing the truth, spends this entire episode wondering when and how to tell her that his father is responsible for her father’s death. Mostly I’m annoyed that it took someone like Su-ho to nudge him in that direction.
Does anyone feel like he got a lobotomy after his whole speech about knowing Gun-hee better? I swear he’s a cardboard cutout walking around to be filled in a scene whenever someone needs an ear.
There are still a few nuggets in the show that I’m hoping will turn this ship around, like about Gun-hee’s relationship with her father, her aversion to kimchi, and what will happen if Mom should die. I want her to realize what Chinjung mean, take ownership of it and fight for it against Sangcharim and come into her own about what kimchi means to her. Is that too much to ask?
Don’t spoil on me now – I’ve got one more batch of kimchi to wait on.