Marriage Not Dating: Episode 8
The fake engagement is beginning to change from a little white lie meant to help Ki-tae and Jang-mi each get something they wanted, into a monster that’s growing beyond their ability to control. Jang-mi especially starts to realize that this thing is getting out of hand when it (and her suddenly enthusiastic new mother-in-law) start to take over her entire life. The line between what’s real and what’s pretend is getting dangerously blurred, and pretty soon Jang-mi and Ki-tae are going to have to either come clean and take their punishment, or admit that possibly, they don’t want this fake engagement to stay fake any longer.
EPISODE 8: “Marry me if you can”
Curtains part, and a luminous Jang-mi stands in a gorgeous frothy confection of a wedding dress, as Ki-tae’s mother smiles at her approvingly. Jang-mi thinks to herself, “This person called my name like a flower” (jang-mi means “rose”). Ki-tae’s mother says her name gently, and it echoes in Jang-mi’s mind.
A few days prior, Ki-tae’s mom deep-cleans her fridge and thinks about Ki-tae yelling that Jang-mi can’t be left alone. Grandma asks if she’s feeling all right, and Mom says that she thinks she lost and that Ki-tae is serious about marrying Jang-mi. Grandma asks what she’s going to do, and Mom supposes that the marriage will happen.
A ringing phone wakes Jang-mi and she groggily answers, only to instantly wake when she realizes that she’s answered Ki-tae’s phone and it’s his mother calling. Mom says that she must be at Ki-tae’s house since she answered his phone, and that she’s there and coming up. Now. Time to panic.
Ki-tae and Yeo-reum are spooning on the couch and awww, Little Spoon Ki-tae is smiling! Jang-mi shudders to see them snuggled up, and pokes the boys awake. Ki-tae shoves Yeo-reum to the floor and hugs himself in horror, but Yeo-reum only seems mildly surprised, thinking he was spooning with Jang-mi.
We see that last night when Ki-tae saw them on the couch together, he had carried Jang-mi to his bed. She must be a heavy sleeper because he just dumped her on the bed, but went back to cover her with the blanket. Sweet.
Yeo-reum accuses Ki-tae of being jealous, but Ki-tae insists he was just being chivalrous to let the woman use his bed. Yeo-reum fusses at him for not taking care of himself when he’s sick, but Jang-mi breaks up the bromantic moment to tell them that Ki-tae’s mother is here. There’s a mad scramble as everyone runs in circles, and finally Ki-tae shoves Yeo-reum into his bedroom just as Mom comes in. She comments that they must be living together now, which Ki-tae runs with, earning a smack from Jang-mi.
Mom notices the mess from last night, and her sharp eyes don’t miss the fact that there are three glasses on the table, which Ki-tae deftly explains is because one glass got dirty. Mom then wants to see the bedroom and luckily, Yeo-reum hears her coming in time to hide behind the bed.
Mom is here to see what furnishings the “newlyweds” will need, as she checks out the bedding and mattress. Ki-tae says that Jang-mi will handle all that, but Mom says she wants to do it for them. She returns Jang-mi’s cell phone with an apology for yesterday and says that she’s decided to stop being suspicious.
She calls Jang-mi informally by her name for the first time, and Jang-mi hears it in that weird echoing tone from the opening scene. She says, “Jang-mi, Gong Ki-tae…get married,” and suggests this weekend for the families to formally meet. Shocked faces all around.
Later, Mom and Aunt Mi-jung talk in the car, where Mom assures Mi-jung that she’s dead serious about Ki-tae and Jang-mi getting married. She says it’s not up to her to decide if they get married, but to do her best for the marriage. Mi-jung quips that her best can be scary, and Mom says the scary thing will be if they actually get married.
Jang-mi is in shock, and Yeo-reum comments that Mom’s blessing sounded more like a curse to him. Jang-mi appeals to Ki-tae to do something, worried about her parents if the families meet, and he just sighs that he understands. He doesn’t want her parents to be hurt, either.
Later Ki-tae calls Jang-mi’s mother to thank her for the samgetang, and she mentions that his mother already called her to schedule the parents’ meeting. Ki-tae says uncomfortably that he wants to talk to her about that, and she offers to meet him at his office.
Yeo-reum sits with Ki-tae and thanks him for ending things with Jang-mi now. A prickly Ki-tae asks what it has to do with him, and Yeo-reum says that now he can date her openly. Ki-tae bristles even more, and Yeo-reum seems to take pleasure in detailing all the couple-y things he plans to do with Jang-mi and watching Ki-tae get flustered. In fact, he calls Jang-mi right in front of Ki-tae to ask her to a movie this weekend, since she’ll be free by then.
When Jang-mi’s mom meets with Ki-tae, he tries valiantly to tell her the truth but can’t get the words out, dreading hurting her parents since they’ve been so good to him. Jang-mi frets at work, wondering what’s happening since her mother hasn’t called her, and Hyun-hee approaches to ask how the wedding plans are going.
Jang-mi doesn’t really know what to say, and Hyun-hee interprets her hesitation as not wanting to seem happy in front of her, since her love life isn’t going well. Jang-mi feels bad and starts to tell Hyun-hee the truth, but is interrupted by a text from her mother.
She finds Ki-tae at his office and demands to know what he did to her mom. He smirks that he didn’t do anything, and she waves her phone in his face, showing him the text from her mom saying she’s having surgery today and needs a ride home. Ki-tae says with satisfaction that he just did a teeeeny little eye surgery on her, no big deal.
Jang-mi wails that he’s doing surgery when they promised to break the fake engagement, and Ki-tae is all innocence, claiming never to have said that. He says they just have to block the family meeting. HAHA, is he planning to keep up the fake engagement to keep her from dating Yeo-reum?
Jang-mi finds her mother recovering with her eyes bandaged, and when Ki-tae takes the bandages off, he’s all compliments while Jang-mi just gapes in horror. Mom’s eyes are bruised and swollen, and Ki-ae says not to worry, she’ll be all healed in a week. He pretends dismay when Mom points out that the family meeting is this weekend.
Mom is worried that going to the meeting like this will cause Ki-tae’s family to judge her, and Jang-mi says she’ll take care of it. Mom makes her swear not to mention she had plastic surgery, but Jang-mi says she has more sense than that.
But her big plan is to tell Ki-tae’s mom that her mother had hemorrhoid surgery. Because that’s less embarrassing than plastic surgery? She asks Ki-tae’s mother to push back the date of the family meeting, and Mom agrees, though she looks suspicious.
She calls Jang-mi’s mother directly and expresses concern over her surgery, causing Jang-mi’s mom to fuss that Jang-mi wasn’t supposed to tell. She tells Ki-tae’s mom that she’s not in pain, just a little swollen and embarrassed to show people, not realizing that Ki-tae’s mother thinks she’s talking about her butt.
Ki-tae’s mom offers to come visit, assuring Jang-mi’s mom that she doesn’t need to see that part of her body. She expresses some passive-aggressive “concern” that she must have offended Jang-mi’s family somehow since they pushed back the meeting and now her visit is being rejected. She says that Jang-mi’s mom must not care about her daughter’s wedding, and it works – Jang-mi’s mom agrees to the family meeting this weekend.
Ki-tae’s entire family sits stone-faced at the restaurant, and Ki-tae runs in late and flustered, not having been notified that the meeting was still on until the last minute. Finally Jang-mi’s family arrives, and everyone frowns to see Jang-mi’s mother in a pair of enormous sunglasses.
The families exchange formalities while Jang-mi and Ki-tae have this hysterical silent conversation just with their facial expressions: “What’s going on?” “This is all your fault!” “What did I do?! This can’t be happening.” “Nothing we can do about it now!” HAHAHA.
Ki-tae’s mother has the server bring a donut pillow for Jang-mi’s mother, who’s confused but sits to be polite. Grandma gently points out that the sunglasses are making people uncomfortable, and Jang-mi’s mom honestly admits she’s had eye surgery. She asks Jang-mi what she told them, and when she realizes what kind of surgery everyone is under the impression she’s had, she jumps up and tosses the donut pillow and assures everyone that that end of her is perfectly fine. It’s hilarious how everyone giggles, even Grandma.
They all eat in awkward silence, and Jang-mi has to contain her eyerolls when Ki-tae’s dad plays the doting husband, loading his wife’s plate for her. Jang-mi’s dad just stuffs his own face, leaving her mom to futilely harpoon her own food with her chopsticks, since she can’t see well with the sunglasses on.
Ki-tae’s mom finally brings up the wedding, saying that they were hoping to have it in two months, and Ki-tae and Jang-mi throw each other panicked looks. Ki-tae’s mom tells Jang-mi’s parents not to worry, that they’ll take care of everything since Ki-tae already has a home with mostly-new things. She says that she will take Jang-mi to do everything that needs doing.
Ki-tae’s family drives home in silence until Grandma can’t hold it in anymore and dissolves in adorable giggles, which sets off Aunt Mi-jung, and even Dad grins at how ridiculously the meeting went. Buzzkill Mom says it wasn’t funny to her, and Grandma comments that Mom has a hard road in front of her. Mi-jung actually sympathizes with Jang-mi, who’s about to endure a level of suffering she’s never known before.
Jang-mi’s family gets home and her parents immediately start fighting over whether it’s a good idea to let Ki-tae’s mother pay for everything. They accuse each other of being rude and unmannerly, and Jang-mi goes to her room for some peace. She gets a text from Ki-tae asking her to come outside, and he shyly gives her a gift for her parents. Awww.
Ki-tae asks if her family is okay (Jang-mi: “It would be weird if it were okay.”) and Ki-tae apologizes. He offers to take care of her mother’s wrinkles forever, which lightens the mood. But then Jang-mi gets a call from Ki-tae’s mother, whose voice echoes in that eerie way again when she says Jang-mi’s name.
The next day, Jang-mi and Ki-tae’s mother go shopping for bedding, Jang-mi looking like she’d rather be getting a root canal right now. Her attempts to refuse Mom’s generosity are met with insistence that she just wants to do something nice for them, so she’s forced to accept.
Pretty soon, Jang-mi can’t turn around (or even go to the bathroom!) without Mom calling her in that overly sweet echoing voice, and finds herself deftly manipulated into buying a new bed and a television as wedding gifts for Ki-tae’s family members. Jang-mi thinks to herself that when Ki-tae’s mother says her name in that tone, she’s compelled to obey.
It’s the last straw though, when Jang-mi finds herself at the doctor’s office with her feet up in stirrups. WHAT. She flounces out to the waiting room (still in the drape, hee) to protest her loss of dignity. Mom sighs that Jang-mi’s mother never brought her to the gynecologist, and lays out the plan: She’s to have a child as soon as possible after the wedding, then two more after that, all in the next five years. Jang-mi protests again, but Mom just insults her dedication to the family and sails out with a smile.
Yeo-reum waits at a restaurant for Jang-mi, but she’s had her own arguments used against her and been dragged to an acupuncturist. Yeo-reum tries to reach her for hours, but she’s not allowed to answer her phone, and he eventually has to give up his table to other customers. By the time she breaks free and joins him, the restaurant is closed, but he cheerily holds up a bag of takeout with a smile.
They head to Ki-tae’s place to eat, where Jang-mi is confronted about all the furniture and household items that have been delivered. She despairs that his mother must have magical powers, because by the time she realizes what’s happening, she’s agreed to everything she wants. She asks for him to pay her back for the wedding gifts she bought, and a stunned Ki-tae tells Yeo-reum that she must want to marry him for real.
Good-natured Yeo-reum invites Ki-tae to eat with them, but it backfires on him when Ki-tae and Jang-mi bond while planning how to deal with his mother. When Ki-tae steps away, Yeo-reum expresses his jealousy and they plan a date for the next day, joking that they’ll run away together. It’s Ki-tae’s turn to be jealous when he comes back and the two lovebirds are all smiles.
The next morning, Yeo-reum packs a picnic with food from the restaurant, and when the chef threatens to tell Hoon-dong, he just says that fine, then he’ll just tell him about what the chef’s been taking. Oh and he’s taking a few days off. Cheeky.
Jang-mi meets Yeo-reum on her bike, but Ki-tae is right there to fuss at her for dating in broad daylight when she’s supposed to be engaged to him. Yeo-reum hands off the picnic and goes to get his bike, and Ki-tae takes his chance – he pretends to see his mother and hops on Jang-mi’s bike, yells at her to get on, and flees. HAHA, did he just hijack their picnic? Poor Yeo-reum can’t even follow, because Hoon-dong grabs him to talk.
Hoon-dong confronts Yeo-reum about Jang-mi, asking how long he’s going to keep confusing her. Yeo-reum asks if he still has feelings for Jang-mi, but Hoon-dong says he’s mostly worried about his best friend. Yeo-reum smiles that Hoon-dong is the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on, and tells him to go talk to Ki-tae. Hoon-dong thinks he’s trying to horn in on his friendship with Ki-tae as well, and Yeo-reum just laughs.
Ki-tae bikes as far as he can, Jang-mi complaining the whole time, until he finally runs out of steam on a steep hill. They end up in a park, and she gripes at him that her personal life has been ruined because of him, and now he’s sabotaging her real love life. He latches onto this – did Yeo-reum ask her to officially date? She says love isn’t childish like that, and Ki-tae asks if they’ve kissed.
She admits that they have, and Ki-tae accuses her of being easy for moving so fast. Jang-mi gets fed up with being criticized by the guy she’s doing all this for, tells him that she knows his mother isn’t at the restaurant, and takes the bike and leaves him there. Serves him right.
Only, when Jang-mi arrives back at the restaurant, there’s Mom waiting for her. She asks after Ki-tae, who’s at the gym ignoring his phone. Mom takes Jang-mi to a wedding dress boutique, and Jang-mi can’t help but be swept away by the beautiful gowns. Mom has already chosen a gown and literally shoves Jang-mi to the dressing room.
Jang-mi gets all calf-eyed when she tries the dress on, and has to remind herself that no matter how gorgeous the dress is, she has to stay sharp. She tells Mom that it’s boring and finds a short-short wedding dress, saying she wants to show off her great legs. She stands up to Mom’s insistence that the dress is inappropriate, and they have a stare-off.
Se-ah finds Ki-tae at the gym and apologizes for trying to trick him, but he refuses to even look at her. Se-ah says that he seems confused about who loves him and who’s fake, which finally gets his attention. She says that she wants to make up and invites him on a trip to the beach, once again pushing just that one step too far. Ki-tae just says that he hates crowds and leaves, accidentally leaving his phone behind.
Jang-mi tries on the skimpy dress, figuring that if she insists, Ki-tae’s mom will drop the whole wedding business. But she’s foiled again when she strikes a hilarious pose in the dress, but falters when she sees that Ki-tae’s mother called her mom to shop for wedding dresses with them. The moms compliment Jang-mi’s natural beauty, but Ki-tae’s mom ruins it by saying that her taste is “kitschy.”
Jang-mi’s mom takes offense at Ki-tae’s mother’s comments that Jang-mi has no taste because she’s never had nice things, but holds her tongue when she offers to make sure Jang-mi has nice things from now on. She gets Jang-mi’s mom on her side by offering to buy the nicest name-brand wedding dress. You know, I hate how manipulative this lady is, but I have to give her props for being good at it.
Jang-mi tries calling Ki-tae again for a rescue, and Se-ah finds his phone where he left it at the gym. She answers, and Jang-mi is desperate enough to tell her where she is. Next Yeo-reum texts Jang-mi to remind her that they were supposed to run away together. When he tracks her phone to the dress shop, he figures Ki-tae’s mom got hold of her again.
Se-ah meets Ki-tae at his car, returning his phone and telling him that Jang-mi needs him, offering to take him to where she is. Ki-tae looks extremely wary, but Se-ah assures him that she wants to be on his side and holds out the memory card with the photos of Jang-mi and Yeo-reum.
Jang-mi tries on another fancy wedding dress, but Ki-tae’s mother just says she’s chubbier than she thought and shouldn’t wear revealing dresses. A more demure dress has the mothers worrying over the high price tag. Jang-mi thinks to herself that she had fantasies about her wedding gown like any other girl — she wouldn’t have cared if it were a simple dress, but only wanted to stand in it in front of her love and be told she’s pretty.
Another dress has the mothers in sync now, and Ki-tae’s mom tells her to suck in her tummy, tilt her chin down, criticizing her posture and attitude without a word about how absolutely stunning she looks in the beautiful gown. Every time Ki-tae’s mother says her name in that sickeningly sweet tone, Jang-mi gets closer to breaking, until finally she can’t take it anymore and runs. The triumphant smirk on Ki-tae’s mom’s face is appalling.
Jang-mi flees out into the street just as Ki-tae and Se-ah arrive at the dress shop. Ki-tae finds himself unexpectedly face-to-face with Jang-mi looking like an absolute bridal vision, and he’s frozen to the spot, unable to move or speak. If he hasn’t fallen for Jang-mi yet, he’s a goner now.
Jang-mi isn’t as affected, as she stares at Ki-tae with an expression that both accuses him of getting her into this mess, and pleads with him for help. Se-ah gets out of the car and sees the smitten expression on Ki-tae’s face, just as Yeo-reum drives up (having “borrowed” Hoon-dong’s car). Behind Jang-mi, the mothers come out and call to her.
Ki-tae finally breaks out of his stricken state and tells Jang-mi, “Wait. I’ll come to you,” but it’s not enough. She’s had all she can handle being torn between him and his mother – she gets in the car with Yeo-reum and they speed away. Jang-mi sits in stone-faced silence until a simple, “You look pretty,” from Yeo-reum sends her over the edge and into great, heaving sobs. It’s the right words, but from the wrong person, and she cries out her frustration and pain as Yeo-reum drives her away.
Ki-tae is left watching her escape with another man, maybe only now realizing how much he cares about Jang-mi, and how much he’s allowed her to be hurt.
Oh, that ending scene hurt so good. I’ve been waiting for us to get to this point, where Jang-mi can’t take it anymore and finally breaks. I think it’s high time that everyone, including Jang-mi herself, realizes that she’s been trying so hard to please everyone else, with really nothing in it for herself, that it’s starting to hurt her deeply.
Jang-mi’s greatest strength, but also her greatest weakness, is her willingness to sacrifice her own wants to make others happy. She’s a truly good person who wants people to be happy, but she hasn’t yet matured enough to figure out that there’s a limit — if she doesn’t take care of herself too, she won’t be able to do for others. It’s time for her to stand up and say, “This is what I need, and this is what I want, and those things are important too.” And she’s fully capable of doing that. Her problem isn’t that she lacks a spine — far from it — it’s that she constantly chooses to put the needs of others before her own. She’s making the choice, but she’s going to have to figure out that there are other acceptable choices.
And nobody needs for her to do that more than Ki-tae. Yes, he’s starting to care for her, and I believe he’s already more than halfway in love with her. But he doesn’t respect her, and no wonder, because she doesn’t respect herself. While I believe that people deserve respect no matter what, I can see why a person like Ki-tae would have a hard time respecting a girl who constantly acts like a doormat to get people to like her. It’s probably even harder for him because he does know she’s capable of standing up for herself…after all, she does it with him all the time.
But it’s going to take some work on Jang-mi’s part, because watching her lie down and get stepped on time and again by others, is stopping Ki-tae from truly respecting her. And you can tell that he wants to, because he calls her out on it every single time, getting more and more frustrated when she keeps letting it happen. I think that once Jang-mi does start to defend herself and her needs, Ki-tae’s respect will snap right into place, because he wants to respect her, and for her to respect herself, so badly.
And she’s going to have to start with his mom. Ugh, Mom. Up until this episode I had a lot of compassion for her, because she really is living a tough life. Her husband steps out on her, her son doesn’t want anything to do with her, and she’s built such a thick cocoon of self-preservation that she barely has any personality of her own left. I’ve mentioned before that I think she and Jang-mi actually have a lot in common, in that they both sacrifice their own needs for their loved ones, but they just express it in such wildly different ways. I had hope that this would become a point on which they could bond, but now Mom is just getting worse and becoming more controlling and manipulative, and it’s driving me batty. I’m trying to trust that the show has a higher purpose for her than just the typical k-drama mother-in-law that tries to break apart the lovers but ends up pushing them together. But I’m seeing fewer of those hidden redeeming qualities and more of the sneering meanie, and I’m losing faith in her. I hope I’m wrong.
That said, I still think Ki-tae’s mom is the key to Jang-mi and Ki-tae finding each other, though not in the typical k-drama way. Ki-tae’s entire reason for this fake engagement is to thwart his mother’s desire to control his marriage, and by extension his entire life. If Jang-mi continues to go along with Mom’s plans in the name of peace, he’s going to feel more and more threatened that he’s going to actually be forced to marry her and be stuck with an extension of his mother. Jang-mi is going to have to stand up to Mom, and prove that she can’t be controlled or manipulated, in order for Ki-tae to find that much-needed respect for her and realize that he might actually want to marry her. She’s got to be strong and find her self-respect, so that Ki-tae can see that she’s capable of being a partner who is fully on his side, and who can get along with his mother but not cave in to her.
These two have a looong way to go. But I have faith they can do it.
- Marriage Not Dating: Episode 7
- Marriage Not Dating: Episode 6
- Marriage Not Dating: Episode 5
- Marriage Not Dating: Episodes 3-4
- Marriage Not Dating: Episodes 1-2
- Marriage Not Dating’s reluctant groom and eager bride
- Clashing agendas at war in Marriage Not Dating’s teasers
- Han Groo stars opposite Yeon Woo-jin in tvN rom-com
- Honey Lee and Yeon Woo-jin as potential rom-com pairing
- Yeon Woo-jin offered leading role in new tvN drama