Imaginary Cat: Episode 6
Our central mystery takes center stage this week as Jong-hyun and Na-woo both struggle with their hearts for their most favorite cat. Their new friendship will be put to the test—the more they learn, the easier it is to keep the other in the dark about their feelings (for the cat. Always for the cat.). So even though it’s tempting to ignore the truth, the thing about the truth is that it always finds its way out into the open.
SONG OF THE DAY
Younha – “허세 (Hashtag)” [ Download ]
CHAPTER 11: “A Secret That Cannot Be Said”
We pick back up with Na-woo demanding Jong-hyun to return her cat… or the cat she thinks is her Haru. Her reasoning is that a younger Bok-gil was wearing the same handmade collar she was made for Haru.
But that isn’t reason enough for Jong-hyun to even consider the possibility that his cat is hers, and he tells her to go and remain asleep until Bok-gil tells her in her dreams that she isn’t Haru.
He sends her away and accidentally burns the chicken stew he’s left on the stove.
The next morning Bok-gil is as happy as can be when her human leaves for the day. She immediately sticks her curious nose into the open bag of food, gasping when it spills. She’s caught red-handed moments later when Jong-hyun doubles back for his phone, but he doesn’t have the time to clean up right now.
She breathes a sigh of relief when he leaves, then explores the place, sleeping in the sink and basking in the sunlight. She thinks, “The human doesn’t know that much about me.” For example she knows how to read books (by licking at the pictures of food) and can look at herself in the mirror (and acknowledge her own beauty). However, all of this she keeps a secret from her human.
Na-woo compares kitty photos of her Haru and Bok-gil side by side, still convinced that they look alike. At least she admits she must’ve momentarily lost her senses when she demanded that Jong-hyun give her a cat he’s been taking care of for seven years.
Wan says there’s still a way to check: they can run a DNA test and compare the cat hair. Excited, Na-woo hurries back to the cafe to acquire both samples. She wonders if it’ll be okay to run the test without Jong-hyun’s knowledge.
When Jong-hyun finds himself at the receiving end of another one of his boss’s lectures, he now has a handy trick up his sleeve: Ha-woo unni cousin’s number. That successfully gets him exempt from working late (a punishment for talking back to the boss), which is when Jong-hyun mentions that it’s too bad he didn’t save her number. Lol.
Leaving his fuming boss behind, Jong-hyun puts up a Top 50 manhwa list poster, pausing when he sees that Jin-sung’s work is in the top spot. He recalls when he’d confronted Jin-sung for submitting that work in a contest under his own name when he and Hae-gong had slaved away for six months.
Jin-sung had seen it as a reward for his investment—he paid for the supplies and provided them room and board, didn’t he? Hae-gong was ready to clock him, but Jong-hyun had demanded to hear a reason for why Jin-sung betrayed them.
“It’s all your fault!” Jin-sung had screamed. “You could find success even without this project.” His weak argument was that Jong-hyun was talented enough to win a different contest, followed by that it wasn’t solely Jong-hyun’s idea. And to top it off: “Have you got any proof? Have you got proof that it was yours?!”
Instead of spitting back a counterargument (or maybe a taste of his right hook), Jong-hyun had dropped it right then and there. But when Jin-sung said that he hoped his “friends” would understand, Jong-hyun clocks him in the face. “I don’t need a friend like you,” Jong-hyun had said.
Jong-hyun is indifferent to Hae-gong’s bitter remarks about how Jin-sung is sucking up to the higher-ups, and not at all nervous. He just has to wait for the evaluation results. Still, Hae-gong tells him to quit the gig at the bookstore when Jong-hyun’s series picks up—how can he survive off of convenience food on that measly pay?
Furthermore, Jong-hyun needs to quite so he can go out with Na-woo, Hae-gong mutters. At his buddy’s protest, Hae-gong returns a look of disbelief. As soon as he wonders if Na-woo’s name is like the English “right now” (since “now” and “Na-woo” sound similar), Na-woo plops down in the seat next to them.
She smiles that she’s here to see Jong-hyun and asks if he doesn’t want to see the baby kitten they found get adopted tomorrow. Hae-gong balks when Jong-hyun declines, whispering that he shouldn’t refuse the girl who’s asking him out.
Bok-gil, for one, is at home, waiting for her human by the door. She thinks that alone time can be nice, but it doesn’t feel too great waiting up for too long a period of time.
Jong-hyun knows that Na-woo has something to tell him when they walk back together. She takes his arm before apologizing and asking if it’s okay to run a DNA test to compare Haru and Bok-gil’s hair.
Jong-hyun doesn’t get why he should agree to that, and she insists that she merely wants to check if they’re the same cat. He reminds her that it wasn’t long ago when she demanded that he hand over Bok-gil—how can he trust in the idea that she doesn’t harbor any other motives?
Na-woo counters that she was emotional then, especially because a younger Bok-gil was wearing the same one-of-a-kind collar she made for Haru. When Jong-hyun asks if seeing the kitten off was just an excuse, Na-woo says it isn’t.
But Jong-hyun has heard enough and he tells her to do whatever she likes. Finally, he tells her never to appear before him again.
Bok-gil is rather excited to see her human return home, though notes he doesn’t seem as happy to see her. She wonders if he’ll just fall asleep when he sprawls on the bed, though purrs happily because he’s still petting her.
He abruptly gets up when his fingers find that handmade collar, and picks Bok-gil up to remove it. “Do you remember a collar?” he asks. Bok-gil: “What’s that? Is it something I can eat?”
Jong-hyun removes a box from a drawer containing Bok-gil’s old possessions. He finds a brightly-colored collar whose colors are identical to the one Na-woo made for Bok-gil.
CHAPTER 12: “The Truth Meets Haru”
Jong-hyun is still holding on to those collars by morning. Looking unnerved, he throws them both back into a drawer. Over at the animal hospital, Na-woo throws out the samples, wondering why she ever thought to ask Jong-hyun to give Bok-gil up. When Wan asks if this is about Bok-gil or someone else, she lets out a disparaged sigh.
She sighs again at the bookstore watching Jong-hyun having an equally tough day. She returns to see Wan later, who asks what she’d planned to do if Bok-gil was her Haru. He’s asking because he wants to know if it’s because of Jong-hyun, but Na-woo says she’d be happy that her cat found a good home and plus, Jong-hyun isn’t at all interested in her.
When asked outright how she feels, Na-woo says she’s more concerned about the cat, though admits she’s a little concerned for Jong-hyun. Turns out Wan did the DNA test anyway, and we don’t get to see the test results. Dude, she refused to get the test done. This is not how you impress a girl.
Still bothered by the similar collars that evening, Jong-hyun re-examines them. He takes one look at Bok-gil and then decides to go and find out if Na-woo was right or not. Bok-gil, for one, is surprised that he’s leaving without playing with her again.
He crosses paths with an excited-looking Na-woo outside his house, though, and he barely gets a word in before she says the DNA test results are out: Bok-gil… isn’t her long-lost Haru. O rly now.
Na-woo looks relieved and hugs Jong-hyun, to his surprise. And it seems that hug was a wee bit deliberate because he can’t see the uneasiness on her face. Huh, did you lie to make him feel better?
Bok-gil can tell that her human still looks somber when he comes back inside. She decides to pretend not to care. Heh. It takes a minute for Jong-hyun to cast his worries aside, and he asks if Bok-gil remembers her previous owner.
She says she does, more notably, the sausages. Deciding to believe Na-woo, he picks up Bok-gil and drops her next to him on the bed before falling asleep.
At the bookstore, Jong-hyun’s boss gets upset when Jong-hyun mentions he got in trouble for placing Ha-woo’s unni cousin’s book of poetry with the bestsellers. He’s saved from a beating when that unni cousin arrives and is touched that her book is supposedly a hit.
As Jong-hyun’s boss and Ha-woo’s unni cousin keep talking, Jong-hyun’s What the heck am I listening to? expression is priceless.
Jong-hyun creams Hae-gong in a 1:1 basketball game, and gets worked up again at Hae-gong’s suggestion to invite Na-woo to join them. He still remembers how his buddy ditched the last time, but Hae-gong is more suspicious about how defensive his friend gets whenever they talk about Na-woo.
After looking around to see if she’ll pop out of nowhere again, Hae-gong says Jong-hyun should at least drop some hints that he likes her. He doesn’t believe for a second that his buddy isn’t interested in her, blabbering on about how he did the same thing with Soo-in before catching himself.
It’s all well-meaning of course, because Hae-gong just wants Jong-hyun to live in the present. Jong-hyun emphasizes that Na-woo cared about his cat, not him. He wonders if Na-woo dumped him because Bok-gil wasn’t her cat. How odd it is that Na-woo is nowhere to be found if her concern had nothing to do with him.
That gives Jong-hyun pause, and when he passes by the cafe on his way home, he overhears how relieved Na-woo is that her Haru found a great home with Jong-hyun. She tells her unni that Jong-hyun will probably hate her if he found out the truth—she was the one demanding her cat back, after all.
She admits that she makes more blunders around Jong-hyun than anyone else, and figures that there’s no way the three of them, including Bok-gil could live happily together. Thankfully, her unni cousin is optimistic and wraps her in an encouraging hug.
Jong-hyun beelines for Wan’s office, and when Wan says the results are confidential, Jong-hyun counters that he has a right to know as Bok-gil’s owner. At least Wan confesses that he was responsible for getting the test done, but rather than tell Jong-hyun about the results, he repeats that Na-woo didn’t want to get the test done. Strike two, buddy.
He asks to see the results, and the next thing we know, he’s back at the cafe to confront Na-woo. She tries to play it cool, telling him that she’s decided not to go looking for Haru. But he cuts her off: “Enough. Stop lying.”
Her voice breaking, she asks if he knows, and tears fill her eyes when he tells her that he knows Bok-gil is Haru. His eyes start to well up with tears too when she says that she was so relieved to know how well her Haru was doing, and he takes a beat before he softens: “Do you… want to go see Bok-gil?”
“Right now?” she asks. Jong-hyun replies, “Yeah.” She nods.
Jong-hyun finds Bok-gil waiting for him when he returns home. She wonders if he’s going to play with her today, then gasps to see Na-woo behind him. “Why did you bring her again?”
When Na-woo calls Bok-gil by her old name Haru, she simply turns away, disinterested. She’s brought back in front of Na-woo, who asks if she remembers her. Bok-gil doesn’t, but she does take the sausage Na-woo offers her.
Na-woo picks her up and thanks her for growing up so well in her new home. She hugs Bok-gil, who concedes to graciously letting Na-woo play with her.
As for Jong-hyun, he sits at his drawing table and thinks to himself: “It didn’t matter to me that Bok-gil was Haru and that Haru was Bok-gil. Because it was enough for me that we were together. “Back then I believed without a shred of doubt, that this moment would last forever.”
Don’t we all wish that this series would last forever? But alas, there are only two more episodes ahead of us.
After last week’s bitter-tasting cliffhanger of Na-woo demanding her cat back, I’m glad that she quickly came to her senses and realized how selfish it was for her to separate Bok-gil from Jong-hyun. Those two had spent the past seven years together, and it was beyond clear that the cat was in the hands of a caring and responsible owner.
So while I was momentarily proud that she declined getting the DNA test done, I did deflate she read the results anyway. It’s more that I wished she was angrier with Wan for performing the test without her knowledge than anything else, because I can understand that Na-woo would want emotional closure no matter what the test results were. And while we’re on the subject, Wan: doing something for a girl, however well-meaning, behind her back doesn’t score you brownie points with her. You shouldn’t have argued with Jong-hyun about those test results, either.
For much of this series, I’ve reserved any comments about Jo Hye-jung (Na-woo)’s acting performance here for several reasons: the first because smaller productions like Imaginary Cat usually doesn’t pull big star power (though admittedly, Yoo Seung-ho did sign on, not that you’ll ever see me complain about it); the second that for a debut performance, Jo shows many signs of a rookie actress and is very green; and lastly that the role of Na-woo doesn’t necessarily call for a stellar actress. That being said, however, it was this episode where I didn’t feel any depth in Na-woo, particularly when Jong-hyun confronted her about why she lied about the test results.
But turning back to the story itself, I was surprised that she chose to lie to Jong-hyun about Bok-gil/Haru’s test results. What was more impressive was that Jong-hyun would have none of it, but he too knows how much Na-woo cares for Bok-gil and granted her an opportunity to reconnect with her long-lost cat who doesn’t remember her. One can only hope that this is a road towards reconciliation, but who knows where the future will take us now.