Pinocchio: Episode 3
It’s another zippy episode that sets the stage for our characters to find their calling in life, and takes us from the teen years into young adulthood, and off the island into the big city. For our heroine, chasing her dream means coming to grips with the mother she’s idolized her entire life, and that reunion turns out to be a formative experience for more people than we might’ve guessed.
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10cm – “여자는 왜 화를 내는 걸까” (Why Do Girls Get Mad) [ Download ]
EPISODE 3: “Snow queen”
Dal-po stirs awake to the sound of Mom’s voice calling him to breakfast, and he asks for five more minutes… until he remembers that Mom isn’t supposed to be alive. He runs out to the kitchen, only to be shocked even further by the sight of Dad sitting at the table with a big smile on his face.
Even Hyung is in the next room, though his face is cleverly kept hidden as he dresses for work like a regular salaryman. The first thing that Dal-po does is pinch Dad’s cheek (ha, I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to pinch your own), and asks if this isn’t a dream.
They act as if Dal-po is the crazy one and ask what on earth he dreamt that has him so riled up. His voice gets shaky as he says, “A bad dream. It was a bad dream. Dad caused a big accident and ran away, and Hyung left me and Mom and ran away too. And Mom…”
He can’t even finish the last part, and says that’s why he lived hating Dad and Hyung, and never looked for them. Mom pets him on the head like he’s a little boy telling them a silly story, and Dal-po clutches her hand to his face with such relief.
But suddenly a new voice cuts in, and In-ha is standing in the kitchen asking cheerily about what’s for breakfast. Dal-po shoots up to ask angrily what she’s doing here, but everyone acts like this is perfectly normal and Hyung calls her their pretty little niece. Dal-po sinks in his seat and realizes that it’s a dream after all, and mutters teary-eyed that he doesn’t want to wake up.
Breakfast continues on around him, and Dal-po starts grasping at straws—technically the tablecloth—to convince them that if he can feel the texture of the lace, this can’t be a dream.
In actuality, we’ve fast-forwarded to October 4, 2013, and Dal-po is grabbing at a corner of In-ha’s lacy skirt as he sleep-talks aloud that this isn’t a dream. He pulls her closer and starts rubbing his face all over her skirt, and she yelps, “Pervert!” before slugging him with a right hook.
Thus breakfast (at the family’s city apartment) starts off with a black eye for Dal-po, and Grandpa yells at In-ha for being impudent to her uncle. They may have moved off the island, but the family dynamic remains pretty much the same. Grandpa says that In-ha’s smart mouth is why she gets called Blunt Witch, and she just argues, “I’m smart and I’m pretty. If I’m nice on top of that, isn’t the world just too unfair?” LOL.
Dad and In-ha are apparently giving each other the silent treatment, which of course means that they spend the morning talking through Dal-po (“Hyungnim, will you tell your niece,” “Uncle, will you tell Dad”), and saying whatever they please. The point of contention is In-ha’s employment, or lack thereof, and Dad can’t believe she has the nerve to criticize her uncle when he at least is gainfully employed as a taxi driver.
She guffaws that this time, she’s made it to the last round of interviews to be a reporter, and Dad counters that studying for three years just to make it to the final round of interviews isn’t a thing to be proud of.
As Dal-po cuts out his egg yolk to pass In-ha the whites and she does the reverse (that’s so cute), he says that if she fails again this’ll be the thirty-sixth time. She corrects him that it’s the thirty-fifth, and she’ll really make it this time.
Dad says that if she fails, he’s going by the letter of the law, and we see that a contract has been taped up to the wall. It’s a contract concerning In-ha’s employment after graduating college, which states that she gets to apply to be a reporter for a period of three years, after which she’ll drop that career path.
If she fails, on top of picking a new field, she’s also contracted to go on blind dates on Dad’s orders. It’s signed and dated October 5, which means she has one more day to make good on her end of the deal, or it’s blind dates and a new career for her.
It turns out that In-ha’s last-hope interview is at MSC, where her mother Song Cha-ok is now a department chief and anchor. Her long-time coworker Kim Gong-ju (really, his name is Princess?) waits to pick her up at the airport with another staffer.
Princess says that one of the new interviewees has Pinocchio syndrome, but she’s Cha-ok’s daughter so they have to take her, no matter how absurd it is to have a reporter who can’t lie. Mom arrives from a trip overseas and is as cold as ever, ready to go straight back to work.
Dal-po spends the morning rubbing Grandpa’s shoulders, while Grandpa flashes him a picture of the pizza place’s daughter (ha, it’s Kim Min-jung ), wanting him to date her now that he’s broken up with his last girlfriend. Dal-po quickly says he already has a new girlfriend, and clearly invents one on the spot.
Dad and Grandpa ask about her, so he says her name is Hye-sung, and that she’s got a good voice, hee. Dad points out that he described his last girlfriend Se-yeon in exactly the same words: nice, smart, and has a good voice.
Dal-po just tries to wave it off, and In-ha figures that it must be his type. She advises him to fix up his style a little, because he’s clearly getting dumped because of his appearance. Grandpa seems interested in that tidbit, and asks In-ha if Dal-po’s style is really that bad. She says it’s downright rotten.
Dal-po doesn’t seem the least bit concerned, and says he wouldn’t date a girl who’d leave him for superficial reasons anyway, and then follows In-ha to her room to ask quietly where her last interview is. Her answer is the last thing he wants to hear: MSC, where her mom works. She sent Mom a text letting her know that she’d be coming.
As they clear a path in the parking lot for Dal-po’s car (with a banner for the Fireworks Festival waving in the background), he asks if she really thinks that the number she’s been texting all these years is really her mom’s. He argues that no response for ten years means that she either changed her number, or she doesn’t care.
In-ha gets defensive and says that her mom is busy and has been abroad, but Dal-po says that she’s just setting herself up for disappointment. She just thinks he and Dad are the same and asks if he’s ever met her mother. Of course he can’t answer that question honestly. In-ha says she only believes in things she can see, just like she believed in him eight years ago.
He gets into his cab with a long sigh, remembering how In-ha came to his defense when they were in school. He starts the car, and LOL—the screen on his dash pops up as Hye-sung Navi(gator), and Lee Bo-young voice-cameos to tell him to put on his seatbelt. Dal-po asks his new girlfriend, “Hye-sung-ah, what should I do?” Hye-sung Navi: “Drive safely!”
Dad finds Dal-po’s wallet on the floor on his way out, and picks it up to try and catch him before he leaves. But when he opens it up, he finds a picture of In-ha inside, which gives him pause. And when he looks down toward the parking lot, he sees Dal-po staring at In-ha as she walks away from him.
Dal-po ends up swinging by the bus stop to give In-ha a ride, and she puts up a fight until he offers not to charge her. She sits in the backseat like a customer just to spite him, and he softens a little and asks if she wants to buy his dream. He says it’s a good dream where he met people he’s been wanting to see for a long time, and maybe it’ll bring her a happy reunion with her mother.
She can’t resist that, and bargains him down to 5000 won to buy his dream, so he snaps a button off of his shirt as a receipt of payment. She calls him immature, but immediately threads the button onto her necklace for safekeeping. When she asks who the people in his dream were, he brushes it off as something she doesn’t need to know.
YGN reporter Gyo-dong hangs out at the police station pressroom and notes to Princess (who’s busy repeatedly entering the ridiculous combination of search terms: “handsome reporter Kim Gong-ju”) that Cha-ok has wasted no time—she’s only just returned to the country, and already she’s MSC’s nightly news anchor and section chief.
Princess doesn’t hesitate one beat before agreeing wholeheartedly with Gyo-dong, who calls Cha-ok’s brand of showmanship nothing short of a con job. Princess confirms that Cha-ok is as much an image-conscious entertainer as she is a reporter, and recounts all the times she’s faked things for the camera, like going out to buy a pair of children’s shoes so she could hold it up at the scene of a bus crash, or kneeling in a flash flood to appear waist-deep in water when really everyone else is walking past her only soaked to their knees.
The rival station reporters are a little surprised that Princess is so quick to trash his boss, but he argues that he’s a reporter so he’s just speaking the truth. Gyo-dong just stares and wryly calls him out on his one-man quest to make “handsome reporter Kim Gong-ju” a popular search term.
In-ha heads to the beauty salon and asks the makeup artist to make her look like her mother, pointing to her picture in the paper. I love that the stylist just rolls her eyes at In-ha’s a-reporter-is-not-an-announcer speech, and tells her assistant to give her the announcer interviewee special.
A text makes In-ha jump out of her chair, and she re-reads it to make sure she didn’t imagine it: It’s a text from Mom, the first in thirteen years. All it says is, “Fighting.” In-ha’s face lights up, and she swoons as if it’s the best present she’s ever received. The stylist just stands there confused, as In-ha says over and over, “Can you believe it?! My mom texted me!”
She calls Dal-po to tell him the news, and he starts to argue against the likelihood that it was really her mother, but catches himself and just says unconvincingly that she’s right and he’s sure she’ll get hired today. She kisses the button around her neck and says his dream was lucky after all.
Dal-po asks his navi-girlfriend if In-ha is innocent or stupid, and Hye-sung Navi replies that he’s entering a children’s safety zone. He nods and answers that she’s right—In-ha IS a child. It turns out that he’s had a customer in the backseat this whole time, and the foreigner says into his phone in English that his cabbie seems like a crazy person.
After dropping him off, Dal-po notices a grandpa across the street looking troubled, and stops to ask if he needs help. The grandpa accidentally rolled his wheelbarrow into a truck, and doesn’t know how to contact the truck owner since he doesn’t have a cell phone. Dal-po sweetly offers to take care of the problem and sends the grandpa on his way, and leaves a note for the driver to call him, taking the blame for the accident.
He crosses the street and takes a call from Dad (ha, saved in his phone as the hilariously incongruent “Dongseng-nim”) and finds out then that he dropped his wallet at home. Meanwhile, the truck driver comes out, and omo, it’s Hyung! Omo. Turn around! Turn arouuuund!
Hyung reads the note and checks the dent in his bumper, and thinks the scratch too minor to make a fuss over. Ack, of course you’d be too nice to call. Dal-po is too distracted by the thought that Dad might’ve opened up his wallet, and rushes off without ever turning around to see Hyung.
Dad sits in his real estate office pondering the picture of In-ha, and thinks back to that rainy night on the island when the kids returned home wearing traffic cones as hats. He’d opened the door and seen the way Dal-po looked at In-ha then, as he playfully towel-dried her hair and stole little glances.
He remembers the time that he told In-ha that they could only afford to send one of them to college. In-ha had said that if they go by academic performance, Dal-po should be the one to go. But Dal-po joined them with the news that he was headed to the army, and by default, In-ha would be the one to go to college.
Back in the present, Dal-po arrives to pick up his wallet, and Dad holds up In-ha’s picture to ask directly what it’s doing there. Dal-po makes up the excuse that he just forgot about it after delivering the pictures for In-ha’s employment application, and asks Dad not to misunderstand. Dad is clearly unconvinced, and says he’ll return the photo himself since Dal-po’s new girlfriend might see it and get the wrong impression.
In-ha arrives at MSC for her interview and stands in the lobby with her eyes closed and her arms outstretched in front of Mom’s banner, looking a little bit like a crazy person. Fellow interviewee YOON YOO-RAE (Lee Yubi) arrives behind her and notes In-ha’s behavior with some amusement.
In-ha grabs Yoo-rae after her turn to ask if Song Cha-ok was among the interviewers, and seems like a total weirdo to everyone in the room when she lights up, despite Yoo-rae’s description of her as an ice queen.
Her turn comes around, and In-ha can barely contain her nervous excitement at seeing her mother, who doesn’t even look up to greet her. It kills me that In-ha takes Mom’s cold and dismissive, “Sit down” as a sign of affection. They ask her the obvious question—why she thinks it is that no one with Pinocchio syndrome has ever been hired as a reporter before.
But In-ha counters that it’s a benefit in this field rather than a flaw, and says that a reporter’s job is to convey the truth; who better than someone who can only speak the truth? Mom calls her an idealistic rookie and simply offers up a test. She puts two restaurant business cards on the table and says that they’re covering a story on restaurants violating the no-smoking law.
Mom asks In-ha to pick a card, and then calls the other one, posing as an executive secretary. She makes a reservation and asks if it’s okay if they smoke, and the receptionist says it’s fine. Mom instructs In-ha to go ahead and call the other place to confirm the same thing, without hiccupping.
So In-ha makes the call… and totally blows her cover by telling the truth. Mom’s point is made handily, and she says that this is the reason why someone with Pinocchio syndrome can never be a reporter—because you have to tell lies to get at the truth, which eventually surfaces like oil floating in water.
After that stone-cold rejection, In-ha sits in the lobby in a daze, until Mom completes all the interviews and comes out. Mom stops to talk to In-ha, though she remains distant and continues to use jondae with her own daughter.
In-ha just asks to see her phone and tries calling Mom’s number. She waits, but Mom’s phone never rings, and it finally sinks in that Dal-po was right. Still, In-ha screw up the courage to say that she missed her, and Mom surprises her with a hug. It suspiciously seems like it’s for the benefit of her bosses, who note that at the end of the day, Cha-ok is still a mother.
In-ha breaks into a smile and reaches up to hug her, but then we catch a glimpse of Mom’s true face, as she whispers back, “I’m sorry. I didn’t have the spare time to miss you.” Ugh.
In-ha tries to tamp down her tears and texts “Mom” to say, “You’re worse than a thief.” We see that it’s a young man, SEO BEOM-JO (Kim Young-kwang), who gets the message, and has been getting all her mom-texts all this time.
Her last message makes him pick up the phone and call her, and In-ha answers on the verge of tears, demanding to know why he intercepted all those texts and never once sent a simple reply that he wasn’t her mother.
She breaks down right there in the lobby, screaming into her phone, “Because of you, like an idiot, I expected, and expected… for ten years! Why did you do it? Why did you intercept those texts and make me so pathetic?!” Beom-jo just listens to her sobbing without a word, and once the line goes dead, he says shakily, “I’m sorry… I’m really sorry. Really…”
Dal-po waits outside the station to pick In-ha up, and sees her coming out in tears. From across the street, he watches her ignore his call and then answer via text the obvious lie that she’s with her mom right now.
He knows full well that she’s lying and hiccupping right now, but plays along for her sake and lets her lie that Mom hugged her and said she missed her and was sorry for not calling. She says his dream worked like a charm and he’ll probably meet the people in his dream too.
She tells him she’s fine to get home on her own, so he lets her save face and leaves without her. The lady next to her asks if she’s okay, and she cries that she thinks she’ll never stop hiccupping.
Dal-po drives off and tells himself that she’ll be fine, but can’t manage to listen to his own advice and swings a U-turn. But when he arrives outside MSC, In-ha is gone, and her mother is standing in the street hailing his cab. He freezes at the sight of her, but gets it together long enough to pick her up.
As he drives her across town, Dal-po acts like an eager fan who recognizes her from the TV, and then mentions that someone he knows interviewed at MSC today. He asks if she can tell him if Choi In-ha passed, and Mom looks up with a start but keeps her composure and says she failed because of her Pinocchio syndrome. Dal-po waits a beat before asking, “So it’s not because she’s your daughter?” Mom demands to know who he is, and he readily tells her that he’s In-ha’s uncle.
Meanwhile, In-ha gets home and goes straight for all her books and fills a suitcase full of every last remnant of her dream job. She clears out her shelves and grabs a lighter as she drags the suitcase outside.
Dal-po stops the cab at Mom’s request, and she says that In-ha doesn’t have an uncle. Dal-po clears up the new family tree for her, and when she hears that Grandpa adopted him, she scoffs and says if he wants to play uncle, he should be stopping In-ha from chasing an impossible dream.
He asks why, and she says that there isn’t a single reporter in the country with Pinocchio syndrome. He points out that a statistic isn’t a reason, while she argues that it’s a statistic for a reason.
That night, Hyung gets around to calling the person who left a note on his truck, and sends a text saying that there’s hardly any damage and it’s fine. Dal-po reads the message with a smile. Hyung’s coworker asks about the family picture he saw on his dashboard, and he explains that Mom and Little Bro died. He still believes that Dad is alive, and has driven that truck all over the country looking for him, to no avail.
The conversation at the next table over gets loud enough for them to overhear, and it turns out to be the chemical factory trio—the ones who lied about sending Firefighter Dad into the building by mistake. They’re in a heated argument over the manager who owes the other two money, while the manager argues that they shouldn’t treat him that way when he covered up the fire that they started.
That gets Hyung’s attention, and his eyes widen to hear that they’re talking about a fire that’s ten years old. One of the men even says that they might’ve started the fire, but it was the manager’s fault that all those firefighters died and their captain took the fall. They get into a tussle and one of them burns his hand, so they rush off to the hospital in a cab.
By the time Hyung gets it together to chase after them, they’re gone, but he does have a contract that they crumpled up and threw in his direction, so maybe it’ll be a lead? His hand shakes as he realizes the truth for the first time: “They lied?” And back inside, Hyung’s coworker checks the text that arrives from “Bumper,” asking him to call if any problems do show up, giving his name, Choi Dal-po.
When Dal-po gets home, Grandpa is beside himself with worry that In-ha has run away from home. Dad has been searching the neighborhood for hours with no luck, and Dal-po runs out too. The noise of fireworks overhead makes his blood run cold, and he flashes back to that awful night when his mother took him to see the fireworks and then jumped to her death.
He runs through the neighborhood until he discovers a shower of papers coming from the roof of their apartment building, and picks one up to find that it’s a shred of In-ha’s resume. Worried for the worst, he races up the stairs in a panic.
In-ha is up on the roof, but she’s there to burn her journalism books, and piles them into a trashcan before dropping the lighter in and saying goodbye to her dream. Her big dramatic moment is deflated, however, when the books fail to catch fire and the lighter just goes out. She reaches in to grab it, but falls headlong into the trashcan instead, and has a hilarious moment of just hanging upside-down and cursing the universe.
Of course Dal-po doesn’t know any of this, and reaches the door to the rooftop in utter panic, screaming her name and pounding on the door for an answer. She scrambles to hide, mostly because she’s mortified, so by the time he gets there, the rooftop looks empty and he starts scanning the street down below while screaming her name.
She takes a peek and wonders why he’s gone so overboard, and he finally calms down long enough to hear her tiny hiccups. He sighs in relief to know that she’s okay, and says he can see her hiding. He confesses that he knows all the stuff that happened to her today, and she says he should’ve just let her lie—sometimes she wants to lie and pretend to be fine just like anyone else.
But he has the best answer for her: “You don’t have to pretend to be okay around me, because I know how upset you are.” He pulls the tarp off of her and falls silent to see her in tears. He sees his button on her necklace and says he’s sorry—his dream must’ve been a bad one after all.
At the same time, Beom-jo scrolls through the texts he’s gotten over the years from “Pinocchio,” all addressed to Mom and telling her about all the big events in her life. He comes home to his palatial estate and greets his mother (Kim Hae-sook) with the sudden declaration that he wants to meet “her.” Chaebol Mom: “Who, Pinocchio?”
Back on the roof, Dal-po repacks all of In-ha’s books, and she lies that she wants them burned. He asks if she’s really giving up, and she says she doesn’t have the courage to look him in the eye, when she knows full well that he gave up college for her.
We go back to Dal-po’s conversation with Mom. He asks how she can be so sure that In-ha can never be a reporter, and asks how many lives she’s destroyed with her prejudice and her so-called knowledge. She actually laughs at him and says that wolves don’t bark at lions—only day-old puppies do. She asks if he even knows what a reporter is, or if he’s just barking at her.
On the roof, Dal-po holds In-ha by both wrists to stop her from burning the books, and finally says, “I need them. I want to become a reporter.”
We go back to Dal-po’s answer—he apologizes to Mom and watches her go, only to call out after her that he’ll find out what a reporter really is and come find her: “As a wolf, and not a day-old puppy.” His face turns into a snarl as he adds, “I’ll bark properly then.”
And at Chez Chaebol, Beom-jo’s mother coos at her son like he’s five, and asks if he wants her help—should she have Pinocchio brought here so he can meet her? He says with a big smile that he’ll go find her himself. Ha, these two are gonna be SO weird.
It’s only after Dal-po says that he wants to be a reporter too that In-ha’s hiccups stop, and she smiles up at him as fireworks go off in the distance.
I don’t find it that believable that a person who loathes broadcast reporters with such visceral enmity could put that aside so quickly to prove a point, but I do think that Dal-po is more motivated by helping In-ha achieve her dream than anything else. I’m not really sure what he could do to bring Mom down from the inside that he couldn’t do from the outside, if for instance revenge is his ultimate game plan. He actually seems more concerned with showing her that she’s wrong, which is maybe why she has a point with the day-old puppy metaphor—he’s still that child who feels wronged, and wants to prove that the blame lies with her. I’m not sure if his sudden decision to be a journalist works on all levels for me, since his hatred of broadcast news was made so evident, but I can at least buy that he loves In-ha enough to help her, and that he’s idealistic enough to want to prove that it’s not the world that’s askew, but Mom’s view of it that’s twisted. Maybe the point will be that he starts for all the wrong reasons, which would frankly make more sense to me.
In-ha’s arc with her mother in this episode was a really satisfying one, because it’s frustrating to think that she held Mom up on that pedestal for no less than thirteen years. Her optimism in the face of a decade of unanswered texts says a lot about her, and despite the pain it caused, I’m glad she got to see Mom’s true face today. It’s probably only one percent of her true coldness, but In-ha needed to stop defending her blindly. It was so sweet to see Dal-po holding back and encouraging her when he knows deep down what a horrible woman her mother is, and letting her lie to him when he knows the truth. If the revelation that Mom wasn’t the one who answered her text was enough to break her down this much, I worry for the heartbreak she’ll encounter when she learns how much of Mom’s career is built on lies.
There’s an awful lot of coincidence in this drama, and I get that you can call it six degrees of separation and make a thing of it, but some plot maneuvers are pretty glaring if left entirely to chance. I’m fine with Mom’s old number belonging to Beom-jo, since it had to belong to somebody and he purposely seeks In-ha out because of that connection. But Hyung happening upon the plant workers who are responsible for framing Firefighter Dad was laughable. Really, they just happen to be eating at the next table over, and they happen to be having a conversation about the fire? I like that Hyung is on the right track now, but I’m a little underwhelmed at how he got there. Let’s hope he’s good at the sleuthing, and can come up with the rest of the leads through good ol’ fashioned legwork.
At the end of the day, it’s the central relationship that has me on the hook because it’s heartwarming and funny, and built on two engaging characters and their witty banter. It already kills me that Dal-po hides his one-sided love with a string of fake girlfriends, and thinks it a given that he should give up his future for hers. I know they’re the same age, but he does really seem like her uncle sometimes, like he’s just out to protect her from all the heartache out there in the world because he wants her to keep dreaming. And hey, if worse comes to worst and the family puts the kibosh on your romance, you could always just ride off into the sunset with Hye-sung Navi.
- Pinocchio: Episode 2
- Pinocchio: Episode 1
- Jung Woong-in reprises serial killer role in Pinocchio cameo
- Pinocchio’s fluffy fantasy posters
- Pinocchio teases small-town high school romance
- Who wants to be a Pinocchio
- First script read for Pinocchio’s newbie news reporters
- Newsroom drama Pinocchio secures rookie reporter cast
- Park Shin-hye headlines Pinocchio as reporter who can’t lie
- Pinocchio courts Lee Yubi and Kim Young-kwang to play reporters
- Lee Jong-seok and Park Shin-hye courted for Pinocchio
- I Hear Your Voice writer and PD reunite for fall drama