Pinocchio: Episode 5
Now that feelings are getting mixed up with warring agendas, things start to get complicated in a good way, and more is left unsaid than ever before. Sadly for our heroine, even denial leads to hiccups, which means she either has to confess her feelings, or be stuck hiccupping for the rest of her life. Or until she stops finding Dal-po swoony. Yeah, good luck with that.
Note: The recap for Episode 6 will be a little later than usual. ‘Tis a holiday here, and there is much turkey to be eaten.
SONG OF THE DAY
Thomas Cook – “솔직하게” (Honestly) [ Download ]
EPISODE 5: “The king’s ears are donkey ears”
After finding out about his father’s death in the middle of his job interview, Dal-po heads to the police station to claim the remains. But he’s shocked when the officer tells him that a family member already came to do all that, and Dal-po asks frantically for that person’s contact information: “That’s my hyung!”
The officer is happy to offer the information… if he can show documentation that he’s a member of the deceased’s family too. Naturally he has nothing of the kind (and I’m assuming that even his adoption records wouldn’t show the identity he was trying to leave behind).
Dal-po leaves without any leads, but his eyes well up with tears as he says to himself, “I wasn’t alone.” At the same time, Hyung tearfully adds Dad’s broken trophy and their family picture next to his ashes, and cries, “Now I’m truly alone.” No you’re not! Poor Hyung. Dal-po asks, “Father, answer me. Where should I go, what can I do… to find Hyung?”
As if answering, his phone rings with a text message, alerting him to the fact that he passed the YGN selection process. He lets the news sink in, and narrates that he wanted the job to show “that woman” that he and In-ha could become reporters, but we’ve already seen that plan fall apart in the debate.
He narrates, “I’ve found a new resolution: Father, to whom being alive was hell, I want to tell your unjust story to the world.” He adds that he’s going to find Hyung too, and thinks that maybe the person who led him to becoming a reporter wasn’t In-ha, but his father.
On Monday morning, Dal-po gets dressed sharply for his first day, while In-ha dons her usual sweatshirt-and-jeans uniform for schlepping about. They head out at the same time, and Dad can’t help but get some jabs in, pointing out that Dal-po is headed to his salaried job as a reporter, and In-ha is going to the convenience store to work a part-time job like she’s still in college. Thanks for ratcheting up the awkward, Dad.
Grandpa complains that they’re skipping breakfast when they both skipped dinner, but it’s clear that neither is ready to sit at the same table. Dal-po lies for them that everything is fine, and In-ha trails after him to the elevator while swearing up and down that she’s totally fine with the fact that he passed and she didn’t. She holds no resentment, really.
He points out that she’s hiccupping, which she’s been doing intermittently all morning. But she looks away and says it’s not because of that. She says cheerily that he needn’t feel bad, and that she knows he had to say those things because it was a debate.
But he finally looks over at her and says he honestly believes what he said—that he thinks she shouldn’t become a reporter. That’s a punch to the gut she wasn’t expecting, and she thinks back to Dal-po’s scathing outburst during the debate, about why someone with Pinocchio syndrome can’t become a reporter. She’s stunned and asks again if he really meant it, and he says coldly that her mother was right.
She chases after him angrily with the reminder that it was HIS idea for them to become reporters together. She shouts after him, “Was that all a lie?!”
As he walks away from her, Dal-po thinks, “Don’t become a reporter, In-ha.” He can’t help but be reminded of her mother who tore his family down. Even when she throws her shoe past him and calls him a crazy bastard, Dal-po doesn’t turn around. “If you become a reporter, I’m afraid that seeing you will become too painful.”
In-ha spends the day mindlessly tending the register at the convenience store, until an ajumma starts offering advice on how to get rid of her hiccups. In-ha bursts into tears and whines that they’ll never stop, and then when the ajumma calls her a student, she wails again, “It’s been three years since I graduated and I’m still unemploooooooyed!” Hahaha.
Thus begins her day of confessing her life story to every single customer who comes in, in an endless stream of hiccups, tears, and comical self-pity. “I failed the test for the thirty-sixth tiiiime! You should study hard, or you’ll end up like meeee. That’ll be 3,800 won!”
She’s not even looking up at the customers anymore, and just continues right where she left off with the next customer in line. She says that she might die of hiccups because she knows that in order to stop she has to confess her feelings, but the person she likes…
“Is Choi Dal-po, right?” asks the voice at the counter. Startled, she looks up and finds Beom-jo smiling back at her. He tells her to keep talking, and offers to listen to all of her problems because he’s got nothing but time.
Meanwhile, Dal-po arrives at YGN and finds all the newbies way ahead of him, huddled together sharing all the information they’ve gathered on their superiors. Our saseng-turned-reporter Yoo-rae is the leader of the pack, and shares all the tips she’s dug up.
She corrects Dal-po’s use of jondae with his fellow rookies, and wonders why he doesn’t know that reporters use banmal with their own entry class. She tells the group that she researched all the head reporters in charge of different sections of the city, and the only person to be careful of is JANG HYUN-KYU (Min Sung-wook).
Hyun-kyu is the funny reporter we met briefly while the YGN newbies were auditioning, who only dresses up from the waist-up and likes to be disagreeable for the sake of being contrary. Yoo-rae warns them never to show tears in front of Hyun-kyu, because once you get on his bad side, you’re done for.
Of course Hyun-kyu is standing right behind them as she says all this, and shouts at the rookies to follow him. YGN’s triumvirate of bosses looks on with amusement as Hyun-kyu begins his usual hazing process, and wonder who’ll break first.
Editor Jo begins a play-by-play sports commentary as Hyun-kyu makes Yoo-rae and another guy hold their arms up in punishment for talking behind his back (she tries so hard not to cry but one tear escapes), and then turns to Dal-po to ask if he’s being unfair.
Gyo-dong watches curiously, and tells his colleagues that Dal-po is the rookie who will break first, since he’s the kid who railed at him and said that reporters made him feel sick. They remember him as the upstart who caused a scene during the debate, and watch with anticipation. When Dal-po just does as told and raises his arms in punishment too, the bosses seem a little disappointed that he seems to be tamed.
At home, In-ha is in a foul mood as she listens to Grandpa swoon over Dal-po’s freshly minted YGN press badge, and brushes her teeth with fury remembering his words this morning. She brushes madly, until she gets an evil glint in her eye as she spots Dal-po’s toothbrush. HA, you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you?
She snickers at it like an evil genius, and then begins to furiously clean the toilet with Dal-po’s toothbrush. And then she just hangs it right back on the rack where it was. The look of satisfaction on her face afterwards is so funny.
She walks away and watches him go to the bathroom full of anticipation. Yaaaack, he doesn’t seem to notice anything wrong and just picks up his toothbrush to start brushing… and suddenly In-ha storms back into the bathroom without a word, chucks his toothbrush in the trashcan, and storms back out. Heh.
Luckily for Hyung, the place where he ran into the plant manager and his workers is a place they still frequent, and he overhears them sharing their relief at Firefighter Dad’s remains being unearthed. They drink to the fact that now they can sleep at night knowing he won’t show up alive to contradict them. Hyung pretends to be drunk as he walks out past them, and uses the opportunity to swipe the manager’s wallet sitting out on the table.
As Hyun-kyu shows the rookies around the newsroom (and Yoo-rae spends another session with her arms raised above her head for mouthing off), YGN reports the results of a consumer study about news that people can trust, which puts their network at the highest rating.
Over at MSC, they meet to discuss the very same survey, worried that their approval ratings are tanking by the day. They wonder if there’s nothing to be done to improve their image, and In-ha’s mom Cha-ok gets an idea and asks how many rookie reporters dropped out in the current class. Balls, I don’t like where this is going.
At the convenience store, In-ha is still prattling on about her problems to Beom-jo, and he cheerily takes her side and agrees that Dal-po is the weird one for changing his mind about becoming reporters together. She asks why everyone in her family refuses to let her be a reporter, and says her life is messed up all because of these stupid hiccups.
Beom-jo counters that hiccups are cute, and besides, isn’t it better that she hiccups instead of farting whenever she lies? It cracks me up that she takes him seriously and declares that he’s totally right, and it’s a huge relief that she only hiccups. She thanks him for making her feel better, and suddenly Mom’s voice cuts in to note that she sounds better than she expected.
In-ha is surprised that Mom tracked her down, and even more surprised when she asks if In-ha still wants to be a reporter. In-ha wonders what changed, and Mom is as cold and blunt as ever: “It’s for publicity.” She says that MSC’s biggest weakness is their credibility, and she thinks that publicizing the choice to hire a rookie with Pinocchio syndrome will change their image.
In-ha can hardly believe what she’s hearing: “So you want me not as a reporter, but as a doll you want to advertise.” Mom doesn’t even pretend to care as she says that’s right, and explains that it would be a three-month internship after which she could be hired officially. In-ha turns her down, but Mom tells her that she’s not really in a position to worry about her pride.
She tells In-ha that this is what choice is—you have to give something up to gain something else. In-ha just turns the question around on her: “So what is it that you gave up to become a reporter?” Mom: “You.” In-ha asks if she’s never once regretted that choice, and to her shock, Mom actually says she did.
A flicker of emotion passes across her face, but only for an instant. Mom tells her that seeing In-ha like this now makes her regret her regret, and slides her business card over. She tells In-ha that if she’s going to come, she should take care of her current bout of hiccups first.
After Mom leaves, In-ha picks up the card with a long sigh, “I thought she came because it was my birthday.” Beom-jo looks down at the birthday present in his hand and pops it back in his pocket.
Beom-jo tells Chaebol Mommy all about In-ha, and wonders why she’d still want to be a reporter after that kind of treatment from her mother. He gives Mommy a hug and says he thought all moms were like her, like he’s shocked to find out that there are moms who don’t dote on their children, and wonders what’ll happen if In-ha becomes a reporter. Mommy notes that there are a lot of things Beom-jo is curious about lately.
Dal-po stops at the bakery on his way home, and buys a birthday cake against his better judgment. He chides himself for getting it when he can’t even bring himself to give it to In-ha, and ends up giving it to a little boy and his grandma on the bus. Augh, why can’t you just give her the cake, dammit?
In-ha is waiting for him outside their building, and takes him to the rooftop for a chat. She clutches her button necklace and starts by saying that she honestly doesn’t resent him for getting the job, but he points out that she’s still hiccupping.
She says the hiccups aren’t because of that: “They started after I denied the fact that I like you.” That is not the answer he was expecting. She shuts her eyes and says it again, “I like you.”
His eyes widen and he tries to process it, as she says that she’s been hiccupping nonstop for days after trying to deny it. He actually can’t contain his reaction so he turns away and says she must be lying. She walks over to his other side to look him in the eye and show him that she isn’t lying—her hiccups have stopped.
She says she can’t even have a one-sided love like other people. “I know your answer, and I know you’re my uncle and it’s wrong, but because of these hiccups I have to confess. So… pretend you didn’t hear it.” She promises to clean up her feelings as best as she can, and call him Uncle, and meet other people, and do whatever it takes to get over him.
She asks him again to forget what she just confessed, and he lets out a tiny, “Okay.” Relieved, she walks away, and a tear escapes from his eye as soon as her back is turned. He calls out after her, “What if you can’t? What if you put all your effort into it and try anything you can, and your feelings remain the same for a really long time? What happens then? To us?”
The question catches In-ha off-guard, but she says, “That can’t be, because we’re family.” Not knowing that he’s talking about himself, she assures him that he needn’t worry—she’s not that far gone, so she’ll be able to clean up her feelings in no time. He watches her go and says quietly, “It must be nice for you, that you can do that.” Aauuugh, it hurts so good.
In-ha lights up when she comes home to Dad and Grandpa cutting a cake, thinking that they remembered her birthday. It turns out they didn’t, and Dal-po is taken aback to see the exact same cake he gave away sitting on the table. Weird.
Dad explains that he once helped a grandma out and found her an apartment without taking any commission, and she brought him a cake today to thank him. Ha, so it IS his cake! In-ha stuffs her face noting how serendipitous it is that it’s her favorite flavor on her birthday, and Dal-po tries not to let his reaction show. Dad just grumbles again about her being embarrassingly dirty, while she scowls at all of them for forgetting her birthday.
Dal-po sits up staring at their family photo, with In-ha’s words echoing in his head: “It can’t be, because we’re family.” He turns the picture face-down. In-ha hangs upside-down until she comes to a decision about the internship at MSC, and calls Mom with a decision.
The next morning, MSC staff reporters Princess and LEE IL-JOO (MSC’s version of Hyun-kyu) get on the crowded elevator while discussing the two replacement rookies, both parachuted in through connections to Cha-ok and their director. We see the rookies in question—Beom-jo and In-ha—standing in the same elevator in opposite corners.
They spill out of the elevator at the same time, and In-ha is shocked to see Beom-jo there. He officially counts as a stalker now, right? She doesn’t even have a chance to ask him what he’s doing there, before Mom takes her to hair and makeup and hands her a script for the commercial she’s going to shoot.
She looks down at In-ha’s shoes and asks if she doesn’t have anything better, and takes off her own shoes for In-ha to wear. In-ha really is there for publicity before all else, and the first thing she does is shoot the ad spot announcing herself as MSC’s newest reporter, with Pinocchio syndrome.
Dal-po’s week of training continues, and Hyun-kyu leads them through the forensics lab and to the day’s highlight—an autopsy. He’s a little too excited about grossing the rookies out, and today Yoo-rae is determined not to fail. But she looks like she’s on the verge of throwing up through the autopsy, and Hyun-kyu leans in to ask what they should have for lunch.
Dal-po is the only one who doesn’t flinch and answers back, “Let’s have intestine soup.” Yoo-rae promptly passes out and half the group runs out, and Hyun-kyu looks over at Dal-po, a little impressed.
Mom asks In-ha if she’s told her father about the new job yet, and when she gets home that night she tries to work up the nerve to tell them. But Dal-po comes home before she can say it, and suddenly throws up at the sight of the intestine soup sitting on the table. Ha, guess he wasn’t really as cool with the menu suggestion as he made it seem.
After washing up, he finds medicine sitting on his desk with a note from In-ha not to jump to any conclusions. And then soon after, Grandpa comes home with medicine in hand and tells Dal-po to tell him if he’s sick or having a hard time, so that he can help.
A minute later, Dad comes through the door and hands Dal-po medicine too, declaring that there’s no one else who would take care of his hyungnim like he would. Awww, Family, why are you so great?
Dal-po looks at the three packets of the exact same medicine lined up on his desk, and his heart wells up with gratitude as he sets the family picture upright again.
The next morning, a line forms at the bathroom and Dal-po and In-ha still feel awkward around each other. She asks to use the bathroom first because she’s running late, and he decides to put everything aside and act normal, which means yanking her back by the hoodie and staring her down for trying to cut in line.
They’re back to their bickering dynamic in no time, but then Dad comes out and they both shrink back in unison at the smell that wafts out with him. He warns that whoever goes in next will have a hard time, and suddenly they’re now fighting to be last in line. Dal-po has strength on his side and shoves her in there and holds the door closed, declaring himself generous for letting her go first.
At the end of the day, Hyun-kyu greets his rookies with a mound of shredded papers and tells them no one goes home until they find something newsworthy in the pile. As they get to work, talk turns to which district they’ll each be assigned to, and Yoo-rae already knows that she’ll be assigned to Hyun-kyu’s team because he purposely picks the flunkies to drive them crazy.
Hyung’s boss sees that his bumper is still not fixed and tells him to call and get the money because it’s the right thing to do. He seems to be convinced this time, and Dal-po gets the call to meet that night to pay for the bumper. He knows he’s not supposed to go anywhere until the shredded papers are reconstructed, but he agrees to go anyway and runs out of the office. Omo, is he really going to meet Hyung?
Hyung says over the phone that he’s almost there, and Dal-po says he sees the car as he rounds the corner… Aw man, it’s Hyung’s boss who meets him. He’s the one who called Dal-po because he knew Hyung wouldn’t, and Dal-po is happy to pay him for the damages.
Hyung arrives at his meeting… and the plant manager is there waiting for him. Oh. Uh-oh, he’s making me nervous. He’s here to return the wallet he stole, and leads the manager down a narrow lane near a demolished building in the middle of nowhere, insisting that his apartment is just around the corner.
He asks to borrow the man’s cell phone on the way, which seems sketchy, and then as the man walks on ahead, he suddenly steps on a newspaper and falls right through into the manhole beneath it. And then, ack, Hyung grabs the manhole cover and rolls it into place to seal him in. Whoa. Okay, as far as plans go, it wasn’t really the most foolproof, but the effect did surprise me. This is NOT how I thought this night would go.
Dal-po runs back to the station, where Hyun-kyu is seething mad by the time he arrives. He barks at the rest of the team to go home this instant, and tells Dal-po he’ll be finishing the task alone.
The rookies are grateful, not only that they get to go home, but that Dal-po just managed to get himself to the top of the shit list, meaning they get to steer clear of being on Hyun-kyu’s team. Yoo-rae realizes that this means they’ll likely be teammates, and can’t help but smile.
In-ha and Beom-jo walk out of work together, and it amazes me that she only now learns his name. She wonders why it sounds familiar, and he says it’s because there’s a mall named after him. She thinks he’s kidding, though we know he means it.
It also only occurs to her now that they’ve met too many times for it to be a coincidence, and he starts to tell her that it isn’t, but she doesn’t hear him because she’s watching her MSC ad projected on the massive wall in the lobby. Crap, does this mean that the commercial is already on the air before she got to tell the family?
Footage from her interview plays as she says that she wants to become a reporter because she can’t tell a lie, and she signs off, “This is Choi In-ha, for MSC News.” A smile spreads across her face, and Beom-jo says to himself that it doesn’t matter if it’s coincidence or not—what matters is that they met.
Gyo-dong waits till Dal-po is alone and says that if memory serves, Dal-po isn’t one to sit here and patiently take all this flak from Hyun-kyu. He confronts him directly about the things he said eight years ago, and Dal-po tries to play dumb.
Gyo-dong chooses Dal-po’s wording from eight years ago to ask why he’s stepped foot in this disguting place to become the thing he hates most. When Dal-po doesn’t answer, he shuts the door and tells him he can say the truth in here and it won’t affect him. He asks again why Dal-po chose this job—did he suddenly come to like reporters?
Dal-po finally stops pretending and replies honestly that there’s no way that would happen. He says this place suffocates him as much as it always has, but the reason he became a reporter is his name. One day, when he gets his own mic to give a report, he wants to say his real name at the end. Gyo-dong: “What’s your real name?”
The plant manager screams up at Hyung through the manhole cover to ask why he’s doing this, and who he is. Hyung: “I am the son of Firefighter Ki Ho-sang.”
Dal-po: “I am Ki Ha-myung. The son of Firefighter Ki Ho-sang.” Gyo-dong is stunned speechless. Dal-po says that because of reporters, he lost his family and his name, and found out how wrongfully his father died. He has lots of questions and lots of things to get done, and someone he wants to find. He says, “I thought about who could do all those things, and came up with an unbelievable answer…”
The plant manager asks what Hyung is planning to do to him, and Hyung says he wanted to show him how his father died. He starts boarding up the manhole cover with bricks, one by one. “You’re going to die in there. But no one will know you died. They’ll think you’re hiding somewhere. And the world will think of you as a devil who killed your two friends!”
Cut to: a forensics table with two dead bodies, one with burn marks on his hand. OMG, Hyung, did you already kill the other two?? Craaaaaap. The plant manager says he never killed anyone and begs for his life. But Hyung’s eyes fill with rage, as he says even his own family will think of him as a killer, and no one will ever know the truth: “You’ll find out that hell isn’t a place you have to die to get to!”
Hyung screams that even if he’s discovered later, no one will care how wrongfully he died, “Just like my father!!”
Gyo-dong asks Dal-po, “And is that answer: a reporter?” Dal-po says yes. He bows at the waist with determination, and says he’ll learn properly, calling him boss (he calls him “Cap,” which is his title as the head of the city news desk).
Oh man, I really didn’t expect Hyung to become a killer. I knew there was a chance he’d do some shady things to try and orchestrate a revenge plan, but I was anticipating a long-term scheme with plenty of time for Dal-po to find him and save him from himself. This is much, much worse than I expected—though drama-wise it’s much, much better. Now I’m suddenly terrified that Dal-po WILL find Hyung, and have to report the truth about his own brother being a murderer. Aaaaaaah, could there be anything worse? Is he going to be the one to catch his own brother and put him away? It’s too cruel.
I find Hyung a little underdeveloped, since he didn’t seem like a killer at all before this, which was obviously in service of the surprise. I wish his darker side had been given a little more attention, because up until now he’s seemed trusting and kind, and I was so looking forward to their reunion. Plotwise, the twist is great, since it sets Dal-po up for a future moral quandary that he’s never had to consider before. He’s always been on the side of the wronged innocent party, but if Hyung continues down this path, he’ll be at odds with the very reason he wanted to become a reporter. It’s tragic, but I do like the mechanism by which the two brothers end up on opposite sides, because it’s instigated by the same event—they each find out that Dad really died, and through that Dal-po gains hope that he isn’t all alone in the world, while Hyung loses his last ounce of hope and believes he’s truly alone. That’s the point at which the road forks for them, and the contrast is made even starker when we see Dal-po being so loved by his adopted family.
The trio of medicine packets pinched my heart, and what’s so nice about the setup is that the heartwarming family moments now serve double duty, to make us happy and then to also ratchet up the romantic angst. It’s almost worse that they’re so good to Dal-po, because this way he can never act on his feelings, and he has to keep burying them even in the face of In-ha’s confession. She has no idea that her declaration just made his burden to keep his distance a thousand times harder, but that’s the kind of angst that hurts in a good way, and it killed me when he smiled wistfully and said that it must be nice to be able to shake off those feelings so easily.
What I love about their relationship is that the truth can be said on In-ha’s part—and it has to, eventually, given her hiccups—but knowing the truth only adds to the complications. It’s the very opposite of the kind of drama conflict I hate, where the telling of one secret would un-complicate everything (because where’s the creativity in that?). Obviously Dal-po plays everything pretty close to the vest, but we’re not holding back on revealing things between characters because there’s plenty of conflict even with the truth exposed. In-ha confessing her feelings makes it even harder for Dal-po to get over her, and Dal-po telling Gyo-dong who he really is makes him better for the job (He’s passionate about the truth!), and worse (Hello, loose cannon, twelve o’clock!). And now that In-ha is part of MSC and quite literally in the enemy camp, will Dal-po’s fears about seeing her as her mother come true?
- Pinocchio: Episode 4
- Pinocchio: Episode 3
- 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