Drinking Solo: Episode 9
If you thought Jung-seok couldn’t possibly get any haughtier, you would be sooo wrong. In fact, if he stuck his nose any higher in the air he’d break his own neck. The problem is that he’s so determined to prove to himself that he has no feelings whatsoever for Hana, that he may just ruin his chances with her forever.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Jung-seok dines on seafood and wine, once again relishing his freedom to drink and eat alone.
After teasing Jung-seok for liking her and getting kicked out of his car, Hana realizes that horror of horrors, she’s the one with the crush. She drinks even more, mixing wine, beer, and soju, and eventually calls Jin-yi to come pick her up by the river. She’s scared to be alone right now, so Jin-yi takes Hana back to her place.
Jin-yi is understandably upset to hear that Jung-seok just left Hana drunk by the side of the road, but she’s even more scandalized when Hana admits that she likes that jerk. Hana slurs sadly that she keeps wanting him to acknowledge her efforts, and that she got her hopes up when everyone said he liked her.
Jung-seok is at his house, loudly insisting to an empty room that Hana is crazy to think he likes her. For a moment he thinks that maybe leaving her on the bridge alone was going too far (Oh, you think?), but then he decides he doesn’t care about anything regarding Hana.
Jin-yi has to grab Hana’s phone away to stop her from drunk-dialing Jung-seok, and reminds her that there’s no way he likes her if he left her on the bridge that way. Hana sobs that she’s right, and asks her to tie her hands to stop her from calling him as soon as Jin-yi falls asleep.
Hana starts to heave from all the alcohol she’s drunk tonight, so Jin-yi hangs a plastic bag from her ears in case she needs to throw up. Then she ties Hana’s hands behind her back, and yeah, there’s just no way this could go badly.
In the morning, Hana wakes on Jin-yi’s floor with her hands tied and the bag over her head, and makes the natural assumption that she’s been kidnapped, hee. She goes into panic-escape mode and trips over Jin-yi’s legs, and when Jin-yi wakes, Hana tells her (still with the bag on her head, pfft) that they’ve been kidnapped.
She then finds a door and tries to flee through the… refrigerator. I love that Jin-yi just sits there laughing at her, but she does finally take pity and rescues Hana.
Dong-young and Ki-bum are eating breakfast at the gosiwon when Chae-yeon texts Ki-bum a coupon for a free piece of cake. She comes in person to apologize, both for accusing him of stalking her and for outing him as the Noryangjin Idiot. She’s quite sincere, but Ki-bum just snarls at her and says to leave him alone from now on.
On their way to class, Dong-young asks Ki-bum if he really doesn’t have any feelings for Chae-yeon anymore. Ki-bum swears he doesn’t, but his reasons seem thin, which just makes Dong-young crow that he even notices which side she parts her hair on and her quirky eating habits. HA, busted – especially when Dong-young leaves, and Ki-bum looks at the text from Chae-yeon again and grins a big old dorky grin.
Hana asks Jin-yi over breakfast why her hands were tied, but she claims not to remember who she was trying to call. Jin-yi decides not to tell her that she confessed to liking Jung-seok, to save her embarrassment. They make plans for the day — Hana has to proctor the mock exam at school, then they have a wedding to attend for a fellow professor.
Hana comes face-to-face with Jung-seok’s poster at school, and wonders how she should act whens he sees him. She considers pretending that asking him if he likes her was a joke, or pretending she doesn’t remember any of it. But she pulls herself together and heads in to administer the mock exam.
Gong-myung takes the mock exam, and he asks for a fresh exam sheet, handing over his used one. Hana sees that he’s written a note saying that she looks tired today, inviting her out to eat with him after the test.
Hana doesn’t look at all happy, and when Gong-myung approaches her after the test, she blasts him with both barrels. She sternly reminds him that she’s his teacher, then grows even angrier when he says that he really only took the mock exam to get a sense of how things work.
Hana accuses Gong-myung of not taking school seriously, saying that some people put their whole lives on the line for this chance. She tells him to just stop now if he’s not serious about studying or getting a job: “This isn’t your playground.” Her words sting, and Gong-myung looks stricken as he watches her walk away.
Jung-seok dresses for the wedding that afternoon and, knowing that Hana will be there, decides to make a statement about how different they are. He grabs his most expensive watch and starts rifling through his suits, determined to look spectacular today.
Jin-yi, Director Kim, and Hana show up for the wedding, where Jin-young will be the emcee. Jung-seok makes his grand entrance, wearing a super-sharp suit, and OMG, he’s even carrying a man-purse. He’s in brand names from head to toe, and shoots Hana a haughty look as if to say, “See? I’m completely out of your league.”
He makes a point to say that he demands the best in everything, and that goes for women. He slides Hana another snooty glance as he says that he wouldn’t settle for just any woman — only the most high-quality of ladies for him.
Ki-bum and Gong-myung commiserate over how badly they did on the mock exam, but Dong-young thinks this one was pretty easy. In fact he passed, which gives him hope that he could finally pass the real exam next time. He comforts Gong-myung, saying that it was only hard for him because he just started studying, but he declines when Gong-myung asks him to tutor him, and Gong-myung slinks off sadly.
Dong-young doesn’t realize that he just badly offended Ki-bum, who also failed the mock exam after having been studying for several years. Dong-young tries to apologize, but he’s too excited about his own score to be properly sorry, and Ki-bum stomps away angry.
Gong-myung goes to the roof to think about what Hana said, and he listens to the recording of her saying she’ll consider dating him when he passes the test. It cheers him a bit, and he resolves to focus on studying.
Hana asks Jung-seok to speak privately, and she tells him that she knows he said all that about quality women for her benefit. He confirms that he did, saying that he would have to be crazy to like someone like her. Hana apologizes for speaking out of line when she was drunk, and asks him to forget everything, but that’s not enough for Jung-seok.
He tells Hana that she’s been watching too many dramas, and asks if she expected some Cinderella story where the chaebol falls for the poor girl. He tells her to wake up — he thinks that only people of similar qualities should get together. You absolute pretentious ass.
Gong-myung finds Chae-yeon and sits with her, noticing that she did well on her mock exam. He says that he’s glad to see her back to her usual grumpy self, since he was worried that she’d be traumatized by her stalker, but she says she can’t afford to be upset since she needs to hurry up and get out of Noryangjin.
Gong-myung gives Chae-yeon his saddest puppy eyes, and says that he can’t seem to study, since he’s never done it before. He asks Chae-yeon to tutor him, but he immediately assumes the answer is no and stands to leave.
Chae-yeon follows him out, and surprises him by agreeing to tutor him. She says it’s to pay him back for catching her stalker, but warns him that this isn’t something she normally does, so he needs to take it seriously. Gong-myung is absolutely thrilled, and calls her “Master,” heh.
Jin-young’s impressions seem to be a hit with the wedding guests, though Director Kim complains that he’s going on for too long. He and Jin-yi exclaim over the wonderful steak, but Hana is hardly eating, and Jung-seok throws his utensils down and says the food isn’t that good.
He goes on a diatribe about how he only eats the very best steak, so this steak seems inferior in comparison. Director Kim calls him picky, and Jung-seok actually pulls a Don’t you know who I am? He goes on and on about the superior food he eats, looking over at Hana to make sure she’s getting his point.
He adds that if he’s this discerning about his food then of course he’s just as discerning about the women he dates, glaring at Hana again. He leaves to take a call, and the others wonder why Jung-seok keeps bringing up women. Hana knows exactly why, and huffs in annoyance.
Dong-young joins Ki-bum at lunch with just chopsticks, planning to finish off what Ki-bum doesn’t eat. Ki-bum calls him a stingy bastard, sarcastically saying that he’ll pass the test soon and get tons of benefits from the government, so he doesn’t need to eat like a beggar.
Dong-young tells Ki-bum to knock it off, but he snags Ki-bums leftovers anyway. He says that Korea spends a lot of money disposing of food wastes, and Ki-bum jumps up clapping, sarcastically calling him Kim Dong-young, Level Nine Civil Servant, and storms off in a fit of pique.
Gong-myung finds Chae-yeon at a food cart having lunch, spoon in one hand and study materials in the other. He joins her and she tosses him some study cards, saying that to get ahead, you can’t stop even for a moment. Gong-myung tries to copy her technique, but he can’t manage to eat without taking his eyes off the notes the way Chae-yeon can.
Chae-yeon tells Gong-myung to keep practicing and he’ll get good too, then continues on her way after she’s finished, still reading her notes. Gong-myung marvels as she kicks a ball back to some kids, then does the limbo under a construction pipe, all without ever looking up.
Chae-yeon leads Gong-myung to a bookstore and tells him to buy some workbooks, and heads to a shelf to peruse the books. Gong-myung sees an employee trying to reach some books over Chae-yeon’s head, and when a stack of books falls, he runs over to shield Chae-yeon with his own body.
He doesn’t think it’s any big deal, but his chivalrous gesture makes Chae-yeon look at him differently. He says he’s glad she wasn’t hurt and gives her that big bright smile, and the girl’s a goner.
Director Kim makes Jin-yi laugh with his impression of Jin-young, but Hana is barely paying attention. Jin-yi sighs at the happy married couple, and grows silent when Director Kim says she has a boyfriend so she can get married. He asks Jung-seok why he isn’t dating, and Jung-seok says that he just hasn’t met anyone who measures up to his standards.
He lists his qualifications: She must have graduated from Seoul University (his alma mater), she should be a professional in a prestigious field, and she should look like a supermodel. He glances at Hana pointedly when he says he can’t just date any mediocre woman, and she decides she’s had enough.
She leaves, claiming to have work, and Jin-yi glares daggers at Jung-seok before jumping up to follow her. She can’t ask Hana if she’s angry with Jung-seok since she pretended not to know about Hana’s crush, and Hana says she really does need to go back to the school.
Jin-yi runs into Jung-seok leaving the venue, and knocks his cute little purse out of his hands. She gripes at him for upsetting Hana by saying such hurtful things, and accidentally blurts out, “She has feelings… “ Oops. Jung-seok latches onto those words, and Jin-yi figures she may as well tell him that Hana likes him.
She says that Hana admitted it last night after Jung-seok dumped her on the bridge, and Jung-seok actually smiles before composing his expression. Jin-yi orders him to stop talking about his high standards in women in front of Hana, because Hana already knows he doesn’t like her. She swears Jung-seok to secrecy, and leaves him looking gobsmacked.
Hana makes her way to her bus, and when her bus card is empty she has to use her last bit of cash to pay for the ride. She sits looking at her empty wallet and thinks that Jung-seok is right — he’s completely out of her league.
Ki-bum continues mocking Dong-young when they run into each other outside their gosiwon, relentlessly making fun of him and saying that he’ll be such a good civil servant. It’s starting to get to Dong-young, and he grabs Ki-bum in a headlock.
Chae-yeon brings Gong-myung some pain patches (for the spot where the books hit him) while he’s studying, and leans in close when he doesn’t immediately look up. He turns his head, which brings their lips within inches of each other, and Chae-yeon yanks herself away. Gong-myung doesn’t seem to notice anything strange, but Chae-yeon is visibly shaken, and steals glances at him while he studies.
Jin-yi leaves after the wedding, cranky because of Jung-seok, though Director Kim and Jin-young assume it’s because she wants to get married. Jin-young says that her boyfriend keeps putting off getting married, and they both agree that after five years, the boyfriend probably doesn’t want to marry her.
Jin-young takes a call from the hospital, and beams when the nurse says that his mother is asking for him. He rushes off to see her, leaving Director Kim to answer a screaming call from his wife.
Jin-young is thrilled when his mother recognizes him, and she tuts at him for losing weight after his divorce. She says she wants to go home and cook for him, and Jin-young sniffles and promises to take her home when she gets better. He hugs her tightly, thanking her for remembering him.
Dong-young passes by a chicken restaurant on his way home and wonders if he should get one, but he reminds himself that he’s too broke for such indulgences. Then he decides to treat himself for getting a good grade on the practice exam, only to have his card declined at the counter.
He checks his phone and sees that nobody has sent him his allowance, so he calls his noona. He tells her about his passing grade on his test, and she admits that she forgot to remind everyone to send his money. His mother hurt herself and has been in the hospital, and she didn’t tell Dong-young because his mom didn’t want him to worry.
Dong-young feels terrible asking for money when everyone is paying his mom’s hospital bills, and tells his noona that he’s fine without it. He hangs up feeling like a selfish jerk, and a burden to his family.
He goes up to the gosiwon roof, where Ki-bum has chicken and beer. Dong-young eyes the chicken but Ki-bum is still angry with him, and crunches his chicken leg right in Dong-young’s face. Dong-young says that he’s jealous that Ki-bum can just have chicken whenever he wants it, since he doesn’t have to worry about money.
Dong-young goes back to his room, where he finds a note on his door demanding the rent. He checks his phone and finds that his whole family has sent his allowance, and a text from his sister saying that she’s proud of him. That just makes him feel like more of a burden, and he breaks down in tears.
Gong-myung walks Chae-young to the gosiwon that night, and she gives him homework to do before tomorrow. Ki-bum is still on the roof, wondering if he should give up and leave Noryangjin, and he just happens to look down and see Gong-myung leave Chae-yeon at the door. Gong-myung heads home and Chae-yeon watches him for a minute, while Ki-bum watches her from above, wondering what that’s all about.
Gong-myung runs into Hana at her bus stop, and approaches her tentatively. He tells her proudly that he’s been studying all day, then apologizes for not being more serious around her. He admits that he wasn’t really trying hard before, but her words earlier motivated him to focus.
We rejoin Jung-seok at his seafood dinner from the top of the episode, but now he’s fussing with himself over the revelation that Hana likes him. He wonders why she didn’t just tell him instead of trying to make him confess first, then remembers how he made it clear she’s nowhere near his league. Oh right, that.
Hana has a beer at home, and thinks that drinking alone isn’t always a good thing. She’s also remembering all the demeaning, insulting things Jung-seok has said to her and about her, and thinks that drinking solo just makes painful memories harder to ignore. She thinks to herself that she just feels small and insignificant.
She decides to stop liking Jung-seok now, and to know her place. She knows there’s no way someone like the great Jin Jung-seok could ever like someone like her.
She gets a text from Gong-myung, who says that she’s a precious person to him, and that he really likes her. Her self-confidence in the street, she wonders how he could think highly of such a useless person as herself, and dissolves into humiliated tears.
Awww, we’ve left everyone so sad, and I hope it doesn’t last long. Some painful truths came to light in this episode, which was hard to watch as I’d predicted, particularly in the case of Gong-myung. I think Hana was absolutely correct in sternly reminding him that he is her student — they aren’t so far apart in age that dating would be out of the question, but it is as long as Hana is Gong-myung’s teacher. But I was very proud of him for taking her admonishment to heart, and buckling down to focus on his studying. He’s definitely maturing, and that’s something he needs to do no matter how things turn out with Hana.
Though she’s a total grumpy cat, I really do like Chae-yeon as a character. Say what you will about her tactics in turning down boys asking for dates (and for the record, I think that Gong-myung telling her to be nicer to the guys was just his way of saying that her life would be easier if she were nicer in general), but she’s always honest and you know exactly where you stand with her. She has a goal — passing the civil service exam — and she pursues it with admirable fervor, and she’s never really mean, she’s just brutally direct. But when she makes a mistake, such as accusing Ki-bum of stalking her, she apologizes immediately. It tells me that her prickly behavior comes not from excessive pride, but just from an incredible drive to succeed. But she’s not afraid to be humble when she’s wrong, and that says a lot of good things about her as a person.
Also, I didn’t think I would, but I really like the idea of Chae-yeon with Gong-myung. I think Ki-bum holds too much of a grudge (in general, but certainly in this case) at this point to really forgive her, and Gong-myung is the first guy to appreciate Chae-yeon for her intelligence and not just her looks. It’s early yet, but I can see her giving Gong-myung a chance based on that simple fact. Plus, you can’t blame the girl for going a little swoony when he smiles at her like that. I just hope this crush doesn’t come between Gong-myung and Ki-bum, because their friendship means a lot to both of them, and it would be a shame to see that ruined because of a girl.
After his behavior at the wedding, I have swung right back around to not liking Jung-seok — seriously, what an ass. What kind of man reacts to a woman teasing him about liking her by dumping her in the street in the middle of the night, drunk and with no way to get home, then belittling her in private
And that’s another thing — it’s time for Hana to stop feeling sorry for herself, and start getting angry. I understand that she already felt inferior about her background and education before she even met Jung-seok, and that he hasn’t done much (besides say she “has potential”) to support her other than letting her teach a joint class. But she’s got a lot of good things going for her, like her enthusiasm for her students, her dedication to improving herself, and her optimism. It’s way past time for Hana to stand up tall when Jung-seok says the things he says, and tell him to go screw himself. He’ll never see her as anything more than low-quality, if she doesn’t value herself first.