Memories can leave a different taste in our mouths – they can be sweet, salty, or even bitter. Gun-hee searches to rediscover Chinjung’s unique taste while Kang-jae ponders on what it means for kimchi to taste like a memory. Maybe it’s different for everyone or maybe it’s one of the same. If the show keep this pace, we might be in for a great finale.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Kang-jae chases after her out of the restaurant, calling her name. He pleads that they go back to the old times when they were both rude, didn’t have a care about what other people thought and did as they pleased.
Gun-hee turns to him and points out that those “other people” are their parents. No matter how much he insists that they’re other people, they’re still her family. Even if she runs or shuts her eyes, she can’t break away from them.
So what does Kang-jae do in return? Openly profess his love for Gun-hee in the street, musical-style, with exaggerated hand motions and dropping to his knees.
However an urgent call pulls her away, leaving him in the street alone. Aww, it was funny before but now my hearts pangs.
The news is worse than expected: their hotel consumer has found metallic fibrous residue in the kimchi. Uh oh. He’s thrown his hands up in the air and Gun-hee slumps, defeated, as she watches the kimchi return to Chinjung.
By the end of the day, her disappointment has mixed with anger and the giggling of her sisters itch under her skin. Perhaps it was because it was an awful stressful day or that her sisters are biologically related and she’s not, but her sudden outburst legitimately surprises them.
The sisters’ jaws drop at the news about Mom’s pancreatic cancer. Uh, is this a misery loves company thing? Maknae Min-ji runs in while Min-jung is close to tears. They confront Mom right away and she quickly glances at Gun-hee.
Mom coolly acknowledges her diagnosis and assures her children that nothing will change. But another word about it will result in Mom packing her bags.
Calling her daughters by name, she asks them to consider what will make her comfortable. Mom slaps on the best smile she can give.
The boarders discuss Mom’s condition at breakfast and what may be the best course of action. For now, they’ll abide by Mom’s wishes.
Min-ji arrives late to the table, her eyes puffed from crying all night in her room, pouting. As usual, the food tastes odd but the boarders each step up to cover the error. Mom tastes some for herself with a quizzical expression as if she’s unsure what’s wrong.
Jang-won packs a few things and promises Sun-hee that he’ll be back in a week. Sun-hee confirms this a few time, uneasiness in her voice. That smile on Jang-won’s face makes me nervous too. This isn’t one of those happy “I’m sending you in happiness in exchange FOR MY DEATH” moments, right?
The Kimchi Team reports on the perpetual declination of Chinjung and the rumors that Mom has stepped down have been confirmed. Kang-jae informs them that this is the time to move towards the merger. They grow nervous but he insists that Chinjung will be owned by Sangcharim.
After an encouraging note left outside the gate, Gun-hee sighs aloud, wondering how Mom made Chinjung kimchi. So Gun-hee takes a whack at it herself. Director Park reminds her that it will be difficult recreating the iconic taste that Mom perfected. It doesn’t deter her from trying anyway.
With a sigh, he adds that he understands that Gun-hee is bitter towards her mother for being a workaholic. A past memory of one of these instances plays out before her eyes.
Director Park stresses that Mom’s kimchi is unique and that she measured the salt to water ratio herself. Thanks – we didn’t know that. Plus, aren’t you supposed to be encouraging her; not reminding her how hard it is?
But Mom’s meticulousness and attention to detail was what made Chinjung kimchi different and Mom would work all night the day before it would be shipped out to make sure it was perfect.
Gun-hee defends that she can do all of that too but he continues that Mom always took the road less travelled. She repeats herself that she’s determined to it. Attagirl.
Min-jung shares with her new boyfriend that she has an idea of how to help Mom. Soon we see the car swerve from lane to lane with Min-jung behind the wheel. She wants to drive Mom to and from the hospital herself (aww) but admits that it’s her first time driving. Ever.
Soon-dol just silently reinforces his grip.
Gun-hee finds her sister on the porch in the evening. When asked, Sun-hee explains that she’s trying to find the moon despite the overcast weather.
Figuring that her sister is worried about Jang-won, she asks about her love life but Sun-hee turns the question back on her about Kang-jae. Unni has a general overview about their families’ involvement and the past.
Gun-hee asks how Sun-hee would have responded to the news but she’s unsure as well. Just then, the moon peeks through the darkness and Sun-hee smiles, “See it can’t stay hidden for long.”
Min-jung and Soon-dol barely return in one piece from the car ride from hell. Taking her hand, he sweetly advises her not to drive again for the safety of others (ha). Instead, he’ll be her personal chauffeur.
Her eyes widen but she declines to preserve her pride, saying that a woman needs to play hard-to-get. Soon-dol laughs, “You can say no 10 times if you want.”
Back at the porch, Sun-hee hands Gun-hee a notebook filled with details about Mom’s secrets at making kimchi. They always heard that there was no particular secret but that you get better with practice.
Now armed with Mom’s methods of perfection, she rolls up her sleeves to get to work.
Mom checks in with Sun-hee about Jang-won and Sun-hee hesitates. We get thrown back to when Min-ji confronted Mom herself about how horrible of a mother she was – to hide her illness from the family, for opposing Sun-hee’s marriage. Everything is simply black or white in her world.
Mom pulled her daughter into a hug, comforting her through her tears. So she shares with her eldest about someone else she used to love before her father.
It was a love triangle where he liked Mom but Mom’s friend liked him. Back then, she stepped down and set the two up together believing it was the best for everyone. However, things ended badly and she lost both her friend and her love.
“You can’t help but be selfish about the person you love. If you love everyone equally then you can’t love anyone. If there is a case that you must love someone and another will be hurt by it, then you make the decision that is best for your self-interest.”
The words don’t completely resonate with Sun-hee until she’s alone. In a moment of impulsivity, she hails a cab to go to meet Jang-won. Yet who should turn up in the nick of time and she smiles when Jang-won tells her he returned early because he missed Sun-hee too much.
Gun-hee sighs disheartened, unable to recreate Chinjung’s iconic taste. There’s a surprise guest waiting in her office – Kang-jae. He’s here on business to propose an offer – that Sangcharim will buy out Chinjung in exchange for Chinjung kimchi’s secret.
He gives Chinjung 6 months to consider the offer with Sangcharim as their financial backer to rediscover the original taste. She spits back if their company is feeling charitable or finds Chinjung pitiful. It’s neither, Kang-jae replies.
Gun-hee stands her ground and Kang-jae’s inner manchild fires back about what the issue is now – they NEED Chinjung. Gun-hee retorts that Chinjung doesn’t need them and he tells her to put her personal feelings aside when it comes to business which she spits right back.
There’s a fantastic little scene here where both parties reflect on rest of the conversation separately. Gun-hee:”If I wasn’t here, if our parents weren’t involved, would you still have made this offer?” Kang-jae:””Yeah, yeah I would. So can’t we just use you a bit? Can’t we use it if it’s good for business? Can’t we see after we save Chinjung?”
They both stand on opposite sides of the door, conflicted. What I love about it, if it’s intentional is how different the items are on each side of their door. Gun-hee stands by a kimchi vat while Kang-jae rest on his car as if on opposing ends of traditionalism and capitalism.
Sun-hee and Jang-won give their formal bows to Mom (and Soon-dol nudges to Min-jung if they should do the same). She sits them down and asks them both if they can ensure each other’s happiness and they vow to do so.
She advises the family:
“One’s hearts must be quiet to realize one’s frivolity. Only by aging, do you think how much time you’ve wasted. Only by getting rid of your greed, do you realize the evil things you’ve done. Only by experiencing love, do you realize how lonely you once were. When one thing ends, you have to think of its beginning and compare the two. Then you’ll be able to know how happy you are.”
Mom looks at each of her children, her gaze filled with love, as tears glaze over her eyes. Omg, please don’t let this be her last speech before she dies.
Dad bursts into Kang-jae’s office, having caught wind of his plans regarding Chinjung. Kang-jae tells him that he wants to preserve Chinjung’s taste too but, “I don’t know what it tastes like anymore.” He asks Dad what that taste is.
He doesn’t give Kang-jae an answer so Kang-jae asks if it wasn’t Dad who let things come to this. Then he mentions Mom’s impending death which is apparently news to Dad. Once he hears the details, Dad falls back to the couch.
“Do you know what the taste of Chinjung Kimchi is?” He asks, holding back tears. “To me, it’s a memory. I can remember it but it’s a taste that I can’t recreate.”
Back at home, Sun-hee finds her youngest sister outside alone with a darkened expression. Min-ji confides in her sister that she can’t help but think that the speech was Mom’s final words of wisdom to them. Gun-hee sits alone, her knees drawn up to her, contemplating Mom’s words.
Kang-jae wanders through the kimchi vats by himself. He looks fondly at the porch they once drank themselves silly, thinking back to Gun-hee’s earlier words about his fear to assume responsibility and make friends.
Meanwhile, Dad visits Gun-hee’s father’s urn apologizing that it’s taken him so long to visit. He confides that he’s realized that the hardest thing about life is how to love others and how difficult it is.
He built Sangcharim to be the best to honor their promise but kimchi was the one aspect he failed at. “I don’t know if I couldn’t do it or I didn’t want to, but [kimchi] never worked. So I asked your wife for help. She said she didn’t want to but I insisted. No matter what I want to work with your wife to fulfill your dream. ”
Breaking down, he cries that Mom is about to die before that dream can come true. He asks Gun-hee’s father for one favor out of selfishness, “Let your wife live just until your dream comes true.”
He confesses that if she dies too then it will all become too hard to bear alone so he asks for just a little more time.
Which is when Mom appears from the shadows having heard everything. He’s left her speechless and politely sends him away to talk to her husband alone.
Kang-jae waits outside for the old woman they were supposed to meet the first time they visited. He repeats Dad’s words aloud, wondering what it means. He’s come here to figure out what it is but no matter how much he racks his brain, he can’t figure it out.
He gets up to leave just when Gun-hee walks in the yard. Gun-hee cuts in if he’s here to steal something and he admits to figure out what Dad mean that Chinjung kimchi’s taste is like a memory. “Is it our memory?”
Gun-hee confesses that she’s here for the same reason; to find out Chinjung’s origins. She cautiously asks if Kang-jae is willing to abandon his family if it meant that they could be together. Kang-jae scoffs that he probably could since he’s such a bad son and all.
Gun-hee replies that she used to think that her family was something she was shackled to but that wasn’t true. Anything felt like shackles if it interfered with her life be it friends, love, or family. Her eyes dart back and forth to find the right words and she admits, “Kang-jae, I love you.”
She continues, “Enough that I like that you’re in my life. But my family has really become my shackles. Because I love those shackles so much, I can’t accept you.” She gets up to leave and Kang-jae finally interjects, “It was sure hard for you to say those same words.”
He lets her get a head start and finally runs after her, pulling her into a kiss. They pull away, their eyes still closed, letting the long kiss sink in.
They exchange goodbyes and Kang-jae tells her that he’ll go back to his playboy ways, that he’ll talk of the love that could have never been when he flirts with other women. He jokes that it’s a surefire way to get the ladies.
Gun-hee tells him to do as he pleases and they spend another long moment deep in each other’s eyes, repeating their goodbyes but unwilling to part from the other.
They send each other off and Kang-jae holds back tears as he watches her leave, “Let’s send her off with a smile. That way even if you cry, it’ll be less humiliating.”
Gun-hee mutters, “Take care, Kang-jae. Have a good life as a playboy. Don’t you dare give your heart away to someone else.”
Wow, what a great episode. I felt like we were thrown back to the beginning of the series when it started to pick up the story, when our leads and characters had to step up their game with a goal in mind. This sets us up beautifully for the finale and I’m actually excited to see it.
Mom completely blows my mind every time. Her serene ability to rationally and calmly accept the truth as it comes, unwilling to let it waver herself and her family is a quality I find truly respectable. She’s a pillar of strength and leader for her family. Though I’m sad to soon see her go (unless the show decides to keep her around though I think her death would be far more symbolic), I love the words that she imparted to her family. She’s not perfect, but she’s as perfect of a vulnerable figure who always thought of her family’s interests before anything else, even if that meant putting their emotions to the back burner.
I love the metaphor of taste being a memory. It’s the same for us too, where a taste can bring us back to our childhood or to a happier time in our past. Dad’s words almost becomes literal in that sense that memories are something you can’t recreate in the same way and when we reflect on them, they’re mere shadows of the past. Then the memories of one person will be different to another, which makes me think that’s the reason why Gun-hee is unable to rediscover that same taste that Mom could achieve. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but I hope that once Gun-hee taps into hers, perhaps happy memories with her father, it will draw out another sweet and delicious flavor that is uniquely hers.
This is the same question that Kang-jae mulls over again. It puzzles me because he previously mentioned that Chinjung kimchi gives him a sense of nostalgia but maybe he’s trying to find out what that taste means. I love how both of them returned to the place they first looked to find Chinjung kimchi and fell in love and how Kang-jae wonders aloud if the taste means it’s their memories together. Because kimchi is always meant to be shared.
Note: Because of the recapping schedule, please refrain from spoilers in the comments. You can indicate as appropriate to give us all a heads up. Thanks!
- Marriage Plot: Episode 14
- Marriage Plot: Episode 13
- Marriage Plot: Episode 12
- Marriage Plot: Episode 11
- Marriage Plot: Episode 10
- Marriage Plot: Episode 9
- Marriage Plot: Episode 8
- Marriage Plot: Episode 7
- Marriage Plot: Episode 6
- Marriage Plot: Episode 5
- Marriage Plot: Episode 4
- Marriage Plot: Episode 3
- Marriage Plot: Episode 2
- Marriage Plot: Episode 1