Master’s Sun: Episode 7
I just love this pairing. Historically the Hong sisters have been pretty solid in writing their main romances (to the detriment of second leads and alternate lovelines, which then have little dramatic heft), so I tend to be a fan of their lead couples in general. Even so, I’m not often this giddy, or smiling like a dunce every time their couples engage in their mating dance—at least not the way I am with these two. It’s partly about actor chemistry, it’s partly about the way they’re written, and it’s definitely all about the strange, un-manufacturable alchemy that a combination sometimes rouses, which has a queer way of drawing you in with your heart in its grip. Grip away, romance.
SONG OF THE DAY
Electric Eels – “Jealousy” [ Download ]
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Sitting next to sleeping Gong-shil, Joong-won places his hand on top of hers (thinking of her suggestion that perhaps her touch could help with his reading, as his helps with her ghost-fear), then leans in closer and closer, as if stuck in a trance that compels him to kiss her. If only we were so lucky. He comes back to his senses, sadly, and shakes his head before slapping her hand to wake her up, back to brusque mode.
Gong-shil stretches and basks in the glow of a sound sleep, curling up next to him and wishing she could sleep longer. But Joong-won reminds her of her plans, and she bolts up to remember her date with Kang Woo.
Gong-shil follows him out to the curb to await the car and offers him half of the complimentary gift the store owner gave them. Joong-won refuses the fan, saying he doesn’t want to get any more connected to her than strictly necessary, noting that getting involved in her world almost got him shot today. Aw, did he get spooked off by that rude awakening?
Now he indicates an imaginary line between them and orders her to respect the line, so that they may only associate with each other in mutually useful ways. Furthermore, he limits his “emergency shelter” space as his forearm—when she needs it, she is to grab only his arm, nothing else.
Gong-shil pouts that she liked conversing with him, but he shuts that down too. No need to communicate beyond the bare minimum. So when Secretary Kim drives up, he gets in the car alone and leaves her to make her way to her date.
She hurries to the theater and runs into Yi-ryung, who’s rather smug after having overhead Kang Woo reporting on his spying activity. She just tells Gong-shil that she witnessed something “interesting,” and the ladies part ways calling each other Little Tae-yang and Big Tae-yang, like old times.
But Yi-ryung definitely enjoys the thought that Kang Woo is only talking to Gong-shil as part of his job, and that Gong-shil doesn’t know this. I suppose there’s no point in finding Yi-ryung’s smirking annoying, since she’ll be proven wrong soon enough; we’ve seen enough to anticipate Kang Woo being well on his way to falling for Gong-shil legitimately.
She rushes up to Kang Woo full of apologies since the show has already begun, but he suggests they go elsewhere—he’s not in the mood to watch people acting out fake emotions. He leaves the choice to her and promises to follow wherever she decides.
Secretary Kim is surprised to hear that Joong-won told Gong-shil of his reading problems. He promises to follow up with her about the contract, though it’ll have to wait since she’s on a date right now. Joong-won smiles at the thought of her date being ruined by scary things chasing her away, but Secretary Kim points out that she would have called in that case, and thus her lack of contact indicates a good date. Joong-won’s smile fades and he glowers at his unringing phone. Lol, is Secretary Kim purposely provoking him? He sure looks like he’s enjoying pushing his buttons, all, How inconsiderate of her to leave you while you’re upset, but I guess she can’t just ditch her date because of YOUUUUU…
Joong-won huffs that he had to eat a bitter medicine pill to calm his anxiety (an Oriental medicine ball wrapped in gold foil called a cheongshimhwan), while she’s out on a sweet date. He lies in bed, wide awake, glaring at his phone.
Since Gong-shil has no preference on where to continue the date, Kang Woo takes them to the Han River, not noticing that she’s looking around furtively, on edge the whole time. She alludes to almost getting dragged in the last time she was here, and we see that the cause isn’t too far away—a zombie-like runner ghost comes jogging toward them.
Gong-shil hurriedly suggests they head in the opposite direction, which takes them on a tandem bike ride around the park. Kang Woo does the pedaling in front, enjoying the night air, while Gong-shil swats at the ghost running alongside her and pleads with it to leave her alone. That leads to an awkward moment when Kang Woo suggests doing it again in the future and she bursts out, “I said no! Why do you keep asking?”
She sends him off to buy drinks, then asks her ghost if doing this will get him to leave her alone. So she finds some discarded safety tape in the trash and stops a couple to ask them apologetically to help, giving them each an end to hold up a makeshift finish line. She gives the start signal and the ghost sprints to the finish, after which he’s happy to make his way onward with a smile.
She rejoins Kang Woo, who suggests they make their way to the bridge for the water show. Gong-shil cringes at the thought of being accosted by the water ghosts and hopes to god they aren’t there today.
She returns home after the date hoping no water ghosts have followed her home, and briefly thinks of calling Joong-won. She stops, though, recalling his comment that he’s scared of her, not ghosts—although I’m thinking the true sentiment is more that he’s scared he likes her. But yunno, let the hot grumpy man have his denial for a bit longer.
Or maybe not much longer after all, because he calls her, which she answers in a wave of relief. He says he’s only calling to get her review on the show since Kingdom may be using it for an event, and then cheers right up to hear her say she missed the show. She’s just happy to be able to unburden her fears and tells him all about trying to act normal on her date, how she wanted to call him, and how she’s grateful he called.
He totally beams while he plays the part of the crankypants, saying he doesn’t want her thanks and all he wanted to hear about was the musical. He thinks to himself that maybe she’ll need him to bring her some cheongshimhwan pills, and now he yawns, feeling sleepy after all.
Over at the home of the two latchkey kids, the younger brother sits next to his creep-as-hell doll and plays a game with himself. His hyung worries that his brother is feeling unwell and heads out to buy some bread, which makes me want to yell at him, Don’t gooooo! That doll freaks me out so bad.
Sure enough, the moment he leaves we see that the younger boy isn’t playing alone, but with the three kiddie ghosts who were with the doll the other day. Aghhhhh.
Next thing we know, hyung is pounding on Gong-shil’s door frantically, asking her for help. She runs to their room and finds the boy in a cold sweat, hugging the doll. She heads out to get some medicine… and the ghost kids are back, this time with freakishly black eyes, telling the boy he’ll be their friend soon, saying tauntingly that his mom won’t come for him.
But Mom comes at last, hurrying home at this news and gathering her boy to her, who starts sobbing. The doll drops forgotten and the mother carries him out to go to the hospital, while the Children of the Corn shrug that this kid can’t be their friend since his mom hugged him.
Gong-shil stomps up to confront them for bothering the kid, and they scatter. She follows them back up to the boy’s room, where she sees the doll—and its flashing eyes.
The next morning she takes the doll with her to work to stow it away in Joong-won’s office. He balks, especially when she says that it seems dangerous and is harboring three ghosts, but she tells him it’s because he’s not scared of ghosts. He growls that she ought to have worried about his shock yesterday, maybe offered to bring him some vitamins or cheongshimhwan pills, and at the very least not brought him ghosts.
She asks, “Then is it okay if I do that?” She thought he didn’t want her fussing over him, but if he doesn’t mind, can she? So then he hides his smile as she asks how he’s feeling and offers him some pills that she always takes after being scared by ghosts, which they can share from now on.
It’s adorable how he loves all this, especially pointing out that she’s entrusting the dangerous doll to him instead of Kang Woo (or as he calls him now, Kang Candy—we sure are building up the whole bitter-sweet dichotomy, aren’t we?). But his face darkens when she says it’s because Kang Woo hates ghosts and she can’t scare him, at which point he returns her pills and orders her out. Gong-shil takes the doll, but leaves the pills.
Gong-shil tells Secretary Kim about her newly designated Tae Gong-shil Zone on Joong-won’s arm, holding her fingers apart to complain that it’s too small. I’m not even gonna say what it sounds like you’re saying, especially when Secretary Kim replies, “Don’t worry, it’ll get bigger.” Snerk. (Dramabeans: We make everything dirty!) He also gives her a photo of the diamond necklace ransom that was lost, which she’d requested, along with a photo of Hee-joo.
Joong-won examines the pills left behind and takes one, grimacing at the bitterness.
In her office, Gong-shil orders the ghosts to come out and face her, getting impatient and shaking the doll… just in time for Kang Woo to see as he drops by with coffee. Was she just talking to the doll?
He encourages her to confide in him, having seen her talking to inanimate objects before. He knew a guy who used to do the same thing, talking to his pencils and such, and asks her to guess where he is now. “The psych ward?” she guesses. “NASA,” he replies. He supposes she has an active imagination and she goes with the assumption, talking to her coffee to solidify the point.
She chats with her unni during a break, where Gossipy Guard sneaks up on Gong-shil with a “Boo!” and gets shoved aside as she freaks out and dashes away. Unni chides him for scaring her on purpose, and hurriedly wipes away his bloody nose before he can see it, worried that Little Sis might get called in to the police for yet another complaint.
Gong-shil races up to the president’s office, calming her racing heart. Joong-won sees, but declares that he isn’t going to go to her to calm her down, nope. Instead he heads back in to work, where Secretary Kim fights a mounting cold. It gets bad enough that Secretary Kim asks for just one day, since there’s somebody who can fill in for him…
Enter Gong-shil, who reads the news aloud to Joong-won. The news makes its way to Uncle VP’s ears, who predicts that Gong-shil will be Joong-won’s Achilles heel. His secretary wonders if this will get Joong-won’s father to oppose the match, and Uncle VP says that Daddy Joo is the person Joong-won most hates in the world—there were even rumors that he blames Dad for Hee-joo’s death.
Auntie Joo takes tea with Yi-ryung and relates the same gossip about how Hee-joo died when Daddy Joo wouldn’t cough up enough ransom. Aunt thinks her brother may have begun his European travels after the incident to find the missing jewels and set that misunderstanding straight.
Then we cut to Daddy Joo entertaining one of his trophy girlfriends, who asks why he keeps such a close eye on Joong-won. Dad answers that Joong-won must have seen his captor, but insists he didn’t.
Gong-shil accompanies Joong-won around all day as he goes about his business and conducts meetings. She notes how he squints at the screen during a presentation… and then recoils to see a ghost sitting at the table. And this time, it’s Joong-won who notices her flinching away. Aw, I love this reciprocal concern.
Joong-won gets up mid-presentation and caaaaasually makes his way over to Gong-shil to pat her shoulder. The ghost poofs, he tells the presenter to continue, and Uncle VP looks mighty happy to see the exchange.
She thanks him for his help afterward and sneaks a look at his telescope, wondering what he’s always looking at. He gets behind her to direct the scope, showing her his rival’s building, the cars entering Kingdom, and getting way closer than is expressly necessary. Not that we’re complaining.
At some point she realizes how close they are and pulls away, though she makes up the excuse that she just got scared thinking of the ghost. Joong-won informs her that she is oblivious to a few things, like his importance as a president (which she admits not having realized till now, seeing him in action)—and also the fact that her emergency shelter is a man. Omo. Did you just say that? They don’t really linger on the point, but allow me to linger on it for my own gratification. Mmm. Okay, lingering done.
Joong-won figures that she probably thinks of him as concrete, since she wouldn’t be able to feel him up so freely if she thought of him as a man (OR WOULD SHE). Then she mutters to herself, “Think of him as concrete, think of him as concrete…”
She does offer up her apologies for the concrete thing, and offers up that he’s actually top-of-the-line marble. He SLAMS his hand against the marble wall and leans in clooooose to say that his marble is way out of her league, but he’s letting her close because of her special radar. Exactly one forearm’s length of closeness. Oh, metaphors. I love you, especially when you’re all about skinship.
She mutters to herself that he keeps emphasizing that whole forearm limitation thing. I hear ya, sister.
Kang Woo observes Gong-shil accompanying Joong-won around the mall, which is where Yi-ryung finds him. I love how frank he is with her, clarifying that he is currently mid-jealousy to see the woman he’s interested in with another man. He wonders why she’s always buzzing around, and she snipes that it’s not like she’s interested in him or anything, since she’s a top star. He returns, “If you’re a top star, shouldn’t it be hard to see you around?” Touché.
He leans in to tell her she looks prettier on TV than up close, so she ought to stay away. Ha.
Joong-won beams as he observes a bevy of activity in a children’s event. Gong-shil asks if he likes kids, and he clarifies that he likes how many people are involved in buying stuff where kids are concerned, like parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. She says that there are two children in her building who only have one mother, and when he tells her to buy something for them, she replies, “No, I’ll buy it elsewhere.” Joong-won: “Did she just insult me?”
Time to return to the creepy doll, whose eyes flare, ready for action. In the mall, a little boy tells his mother he lost his bag. She sternly orders him to find it, so he starts wandering the building looking for it… and finds a ghost boy motioning him closer.
The boy ghost leads him up to Gong-shil’s office where the doll invites him to be its friend: “Take us along. You’re just like us.” Gaaaack.
Gong-shil spies the boy walking out with the doll and chases after him. She loses the tail, though, and has to settle for getting the mother’s information from security. She calls the mother asking about the doll, but only gets a snappish reply and a lie about not finding any doll.
At their home, Scary Mom picks up an umbrella to give her boy the punishment she thinks he deserves for losing a bag. The boy cowers and cries as she beats him, and the doll watches.
Gong-shil worries about the boy and the doll, and is thus relieved when Kang Woo finds the lost schoolbag, which gives her an excuse to drop by. She flips through a sketchbook inside, and the contents make her furrow her brow worriedly.
Auntie Joo proposes buying up some artwork by a recently honored artist, and that makes Joong-won think of a comment Gong-shil said in passing, about an artist whom the world believes to be talented but is really a thief (told to her by the ghost of the one he stole from). He muses that if he hadn’t known the truth he’d have jumped on the chance to invest, but now… he needs time to think.
He tells himself he’ll still buy even if this artist is the one Gong-shil meant, that he just wants to know the truth, and barges into her office. It’s empty, though, and all he finds is the boy’s bag and the sketchbook inside. It contains drawings of a crying boy being hit with an umbrella, all darkness and fear.
Gong-shil is already at the boy’s house, waiting until the mother steps outside to sneak inside. She finds the doll and orders the ghosts to come out, and this time they materialize to point at the closet door that has been roped shut.
She rouses the boy to usher him to the hospital, only to be stopped by the indignant mother who says she was just punishing him for his wrongdoings. Gong-shil gets knocked into a wall hanging and hits her forehead, but manages to shove the mother aside long enough to grab the boy and leave.
Joong-won charges up just as she’s leaving, silently takes the boy from her, and takes over carrying him to the hospital. There they see the extent of the damage, with his back riddled with old scars and fresh wounds.
Afterward, Gong-shil tells Joong-won about the children before they were ghosts, and how the doll was with him at the last. Nobody helped them as they died—one boy shivered to death in the snow, a girl lay beaten as her father gambled online, and the last boy starved in an empty apartment. So the doll gathered similarly sad children to become friends.
Now the children appear before her, looking whole and healthy as she apologizes for nobody holding them in their time of need, and they smile at her. They wave smilingly before disappearing upward into the sky.
At the mall, Kang Woo picks out a pink Dooly doll, and is startled to hear that it’s Dooly’s girlfriend Gong-shil. He buys the pair and drops off the pink Gong-shil in her desk, intending to keep Dooly with him in his office. Cuuute.
Gong-shil and Joong-won return to the hospital (having burned the doll, thank god), where they’re confronted by a policeman—they’ve been reported for trespassing and child kidnapping. Oh, that mother would.
Thus they end up in side-by-side jail cells, where she worries and he fumes. She tells him not to worry, since she’s been in jail before and it’s not so bad and the food’s pretty good.
Secretary Kim is recovered from his cold and heads to the hospital to confront the angry mother, informing her that she has been reported by Kingdom’s child psychologist for abuse. He flashes a psychologist’s badge—it’s his. Furthermore, the Kingdom lawyer has determined that the physical contact arising from saving a child from abuse does not constitute intentional assault, and flashes a lawyer’s badge—it’s his too. HA, he is a man of many talents.
Abusive Mom barks that her child is hers to discipline as she sees fit, and Secretary Kim just thwacks her on the forehead. “A mosquito,” he says. Hahaha.
Secretary Kim wraps up business at the police station, springing Joong-won from the joint and overseeing the boy’s medical bills and tests. Gong-shil protests at being left behind, pleading with Joong-won to help because there’s a scary ajumma in her cell. He’s peeved with her but not immune to her plight, so he offers her his forearm for a few seconds, then stiffly yanks it away.
Gong-shil gets released as well, and apologizes to Joong-won. But he tells her, “You should be sorry for nothing. You did a good job, Tae Gong-shil.” Aw. And now he sees the scrape on her face and gets incensed on her behalf. He instructs her to go to the hospital, and they head out just as Kang Woo arrives. He’d been tipped off by Yi-ryung to Joong-won’s stint in jail, and his jaw clenches as he realizes the reason for the unexpected arrest.
He heads back to the office and grabs the Gong-shil doll… and this time he pulls out the envelope in that desk drawer to find the photo of that diamond necklace and Hee-joo. Whom he recognizes on first glance.
Leaving the hospital, Joong-won complains about the heat so Gong-shil offers up the free fans they received. He complains, of course, but takes it all the same. They walk for a moment before she clutches her head in pain, and he immediately grabs her hand. Aw, you big softy. She points out that it’s not part of the designated Gong-shil Zone, and adds that there are no ghosts involved—it’s just her head bump so she doesn’t need the hand-holding.
Joong-won tells her that seeing ghosts with an achy head will just make it hurt more, so she can use it as a preventative measure. It’s her gift for doing a good job today, and makes her flustered and pleased.
He tells her that when at first the “crazy sun” appeared in his world, he was determined to chase it away. He found himself being dragged into her world and tried to stop that, but it was today in his cell that he realized: “I was already as far gone as I was gonna get. You said you wanted to be next me. Congratulations, you’ve succeeded.”
I suppose he means this in a general way, not specifically a romantic one—he’s admitting to believing her and being on her team, so to speak. But it’s Gong-shil who stops him to admit that her radar keeps fixating on something strange. He offers his hand, but she reaches up to touch his face instead. “For you, me touching you like this does nothing, right?” she asks.
“Do you really think I’m an emergency shelter made of marble?” he replies, dropping his fan to reach up to take her hand from his face… and place it on his heart. “There’s no way that could be.”
Once again the ghost story is merely incidental to the central story arc, but this episode was one of the better examples of making use of the case-of-the-week format, allowing it to be more than just a filler plotline to act as vehicle for romance. I suspect that you’re never going to get much pushback in depicting a child abuse storyline as an evil that our heroes must right, so in one sense it’s rather an easy trajectory: good guys step in and save the day.
The plotline stepped it up in two main ways, though, which is why I actually cared in the end (which wasn’t the case for, say, High Heeled Wife or Dog Loving Soldier). First of all, the doll-ghost plot really works for me—and I hope the show continues to do this with its future stories—in its subversion of our expectations. Hitherto the ghosts have mostly been straightforward in their wishes, and once Gong-shil figures out their plight, she just has to find a way to set things right. The kids, on the other hand, seemed demonic and evil-bearing right until the last, purposely seeking out neglected and abused children, making us think they wanted to suck the children into death to be with them. Granted that sort of IS what they’re doing (since they made the human children ill), but their motivation came from a good place, of wanting to console people bearing pain they understood. And in the end, they pointed the way for Gong-shil to find the boy, acting as inadvertent beacons.
The other way the plot worked for me was in providing an opportunity for Joong-won to finally jump fully aboard Gong-shil’s plight, and as I said up in the recap I didn’t interpret his ending comments as romantic. (It just has the added benefit of being able to be read that way.) There are some moments in life that transcend your personal desires—like his insistence on staying firmly out of anything not immediately relevant to his life—and are made better for your interference, which has always been both strength and weakness for Gong-shil. It’s why she’s able to resolve the ghost’s wishes, but also why she’s dogged by them constantly. Yet even when given the chance to ignore, at the end of the day she chooses not to, and now he finally gets that.
It’s a wonderful moment for him as a person, and also for them as a couple. Or perhaps you could say that it’s one reason they can progress as a romantic couple, in a way that Kang Woo can’t. First off, Gong-shil can’t be honest with Kang Woo, and secondly he’s just always one step too late. Sometimes I’m actually relieved with Perfect Dreamy Second Lead is always one step behind, because I can’t hurt too badly for him if he’s always so damn late. Not when Grumpypants Hero is always at her side, however complainingly, ready to offer up emotional support and some skinship to boot.