Introverted Boss: Episode 12
With some of the painful confessions behind them, Hwan-ki and Ro-woon spend the episode being utterly adorable with each other. There is a wonder in finding someone who trusts you without being asked to. Despite the questions in her heart, Ro-woon shows that she’s determined to be by Hwan-ki’s side no matter what the answers turn out to be. Also, it’s Hwan-ki’s turn to be the one in the middle of a sandwich. Hehe.
Episode 12: “The Difficulty of Doing Nothing”
Ro-woon’s dad eyes the late hour on the clock and paces the floor of his barbershop with agitation. Reporter Woo had visited him earlier and revealed that Ro-woon was working at Brain because she wants to avenge Ji-hye’s death. Dad’s worry for his daughter is clear on his face.
Meanwhile, Ro-woon sits on Hwan-ki’s bed and tells him that she’ll be by his side through everything he’s trying to be personally responsible for. Tears in his eyes, Hwan-ki looks at her earnest face and leans forward to kiss her again.
They make out all night and wake up in each other’s arms the next morning. They smile sleepily and share adorably affectionate kisses. Then, Hwan-ki gets up to bring Ro-woon coffee in bed. (Clear signs of an amazing boyfriend.)
Outside the penthouse door, a man arrives with a canister of gasoline in his hands. (This building has really crappy security.) He opens the door and we see Ro-woon’s dad walk into the office space, looking furious. Uh oh. He takes determined steps towards Hwan-ki’s desk at the back, when Ro-woon comes out of the bedroom yawning.
They stop at the sight of each other, and Dad takes in her clothes from the night before. Ro-woon almost trembles as he asks what she’s doing there. Hwan-ki comes out of the kitchen just then, holding two cups of coffee. Dad turns his hurt and bewildered gaze on to Hwan-ki and asks if he’s the CEO of Brain.
Neither Hwan-ki nor Ro-woon can think of anything to say as Dad stands there with the canister and asks why Hwan-ki has been coming to his shop for so long. Ro-woon tries to stop him, but Dad is beyond reasoning. He asks Hwan-ki how he could come before him, when he didn’t have the decency to attend Ji-hye’s funeral.
Hwan-ki drops to his knees, spilling hot coffee on his hands. He apologizes and promises that he never meant to deceive Dad, but Dad can’t believe that he served the man responsible for his daughter’s death with such care for the last three years. Hwan-ki apologizes repeatedly as Dad grapples with his emotions.
Dropping the canister on the floor, Dad orders Ro-woon to come with him and leaves the penthouse. Ro-woon looks at Hwan-ki’s bowed head with agonized eyes, but Hwan-ki tells her to go with her dad. Alone in the office, Hwan-ki breaks down.
Back at home, Ro-woon tries to explain to her dad that Hwan-ki wasn’t the reason Ji-hye died — that it was all a misunderstanding. She tries to make him understand that visiting him at the barbershop was Hwan-ki’s way of apologizing, but Dad refuses to listen and asks why she went to Brain to do such a useless thing.
Finally, with rising anger, Ro-woon asks what Dad was doing while Hwan-ki was wrestling with his guilt and Ro-woon was trying to pointlessly take revenge. She reminds Dad of his words from the funeral — “Don’t do anything… Just stay where you are” — and tells him that it was his inaction that caused her mother to die of grief for Ji-hye.
Dad shuts his eyes against her words and tells her to get out. As Ro-woon walks out, he watches her with pained eyes.
Hwan-ki gets back to the penthouse that evening, only to be followed in by Ro-woon a moment later. He is back in his black hoodie, with what looks like grass sticking to the material. Ro-woon cheerfully tells him that she’s been kicked out of her house, and if she goes back now, she’ll just get kicked out again.
Despite Hwan-ki’s protests, she invades his kitchen looking for ramyun, until he agrees to cook for her. As Ro-woon slurps up Hwan-ki’s meticulous culinary creation, he watches her grimly and asks why she never eats at home. Remembering that Hwan-ki has witnessed her interactions with her dad for years, she says that she becomes a different person at home.
He guesses that she gets tired of pretending to be happy to the world and crashes when she reaches her house, but Ro-woon says it’s more than that. Just like Hwan-ki has always been told to emulate Woo-il, she says, she’s always been told to be more like her older sister. Even after her death, Ji-hye’s shadow has loomed large in her life, so Ro-woon found herself fulfilling her dad’s wish for silence at home.
Looking resigned, Ro-woon nods at the gasoline can sitting in the middle of the floor, and says that that’s how her dad is — he barged in with such purpose, but left without doing anything. Hwan-ki disagrees. He tells her that her dad restrained himself for her sake.
He says that while it is hard to do something, it can be extremely difficult to keep still and not do anything. Her dad, says Hwan-ki, was trying to protect her from her own recklessness. Ro-woon laughs to herself that he might be right, and wonders why men around her are so hard to read.
Back at home, Dad looks at newspaper clippings about Hwan-ki and his assemblyman father and wonders if the exposé about Hwan-ki’s power abuse was Ro-woon’s doing. He looks at Hwan-ki’s blurred-out image and asks why it had to be this guy.
After dinner, Hwan-ki tells Ro-woon to get moving, but she just beelines for his bedroom. He catches her by her coat collar, and when Ro-woon says her dad might break her legs, he promises to come visit her in the hospital. She rolls her eyes and agrees to go home, only to slip out of her coat and settle on the couch in his room. When he pleads with her to leave, she sighs and says that she’ll just have to go stay in a sauna or a motel then.
Cue: a tent pitched on the floor of his bedroom. Pwahaha. Hwan-ki says he’ll take the camping tent for himself, giving Ro-woon the bed. She protests that they slept in each other’s arms the night before, but Hwan-ki says that was only because they were sick. He warns her against any crossing of lines, and gets into his tent. She laughs at his antics and goes to bed in his clothes.
Later in the night, Ro-woon is in a deep sleep snoring her heart out, and Hwan-ki writhes in his sleeping bag because he can’t see her “cute face” as she snores. Pfft. Then he starts worrying about sleep apnea and Ro-woon suffocating in her sleep. Wondering if his pillow was too high for her head, it occurs to him that she might be drooling on it! This, he decides, is a good reason to get out of the tent and check on her.
Hwan-ki smiles as he watches her sleeping face, then tucks her foot under the cover and switches on the humidifier for her. He notes that her head has missed his pillows completely, and decides to put one under her head. Only as he raises her — “So heavy!” — head, she opens her eyes and finds his face inches from her own.
Hwan-ki’s eyes grow big, and he drops her head and dives back into his tent. Ro-woon grins and follows him to find Hwan-ki hiding inside the sleeping bag. She unzips it to reveal his face, and he stammers that it was a misunderstanding. Ro-woon kisses his forehead and tells him that she’s letting him off this time, but she’ll pounce on him if he “crosses the line” again. Then she zips him back up and gets into the bed.
She thinks back to what she had witnessed earlier in the evening. After getting kicked out of the house that morning, Ro-woon had been heading home, when she saw Hwan-ki at the doorstep of the barbershop. Her father had thrown freezing water at him, then brought out the flowers from Ro-woon’s room and beaten him with them.
Ro-woon had watched this with her hands over her mouth, while her father had broken down before the kneeling Hwan-ki. In the present, Ro-woon falls asleep with her eyes on Hwan-ki’s sleeping form.
Next morning, as the two sleep, Sun-bong arrives at the office. Hwan-ki wakes up first and gets Ro-woon to check who came so early. Realizing it’s Sun-bong, Hwan-ki comes up with a plan to smuggle Ro-woon, who’s still wearing his clothes, out of the penthouse.
He goes out and cheerfully chats with Sun-bong, who proudly announces that he’s decided to become an early bird. Hwan-ki asks him to make some tea for him, which makes Sun-bong grumble, but starts him toward the kitchen. Ro-woon emerges from the bedroom and tiptoes towards the penthouse door, when suddenly, she sneezes.
To keep Sun-bong from turning, Hwan-ki backhugs him, declaring: “I love you!” This turns Sun-bong into a shy schoolgirl, as he giggles in Hwan-ki’s arms. Then his mind turns to the noise he had heard, and Ro-woon manages to sneeze again at that exact moment.
Sun-bong begins to turn and, resorting to drastic measures, Hwan-ki shouts “I love you!” again and tackles him to the ground. Looking mortified at his own actions, Hwan-ki waves Ro-woon out, but just before she reaches the door, Yoo-hee comes in. Ro-woon just about manages to slip into the bathroom to avoid detection.
Hwan-ki texts her to stay in there and wait for him to buy some clothes for her, then goes to a store and picks out some dresses. Not satisfied with just buying any dress for Ro-woon, he imagines her wearing each of them, with hilarious expressions of approval from him.
Yi-soo spies him in the women’s section of the store and asks if he’s seeing someone. He denies it, but when Yi-soo asks if her taste in clothing is sexy, feminine, or cute, he smiles shyly at “cute.” Ha. After helping her brother pick out the mystery girl’s clothes, she tells him to bring her to her wedding. She says that it’ll be a small, private ceremony, and asks for his understanding regarding how she feels about Woo-il, since he’s in love too.
He gets back to the office bathroom just as Ro-woon gets tired of waiting. But before she can change in to one of the several dresses he bought for her, they hear Se-jong and Kyo-ri outside the door.
Hwan-ki and Ro-woon hide as they come in, and listen as Se-jong asks if he’s hurt Kyo-ri. He tells her that his mother is the type to intimidate any woman he dates, until Kyo-ri asks if he thinks that she likes him. She tells him that she doesn’t, and Se-jong’s relief is painfully obvious. He leaves the bathroom, and Kyo-ri wonders aloud how someone who was so hurt by Ro-woon’s indifference could be so careless of her feelings.
Once Ro-woon joins the staff in her new clothes, Hwan-ki comes out of his room and asks Kyo-ri to take over a jewelry brand project with Se-jong. Ro-woon follows him out of the office, asking if he’s playing cupid. Yi-soo walks into the building and notices Hwan-ki walking with Ro-woon in the clothes she picked out for him that morning.
As Ro-woon smiles after Hwan-ki and turns to head back to the office, Yi-soo hails her. She tells her that she’s there to see Woo-il to check his ring size, and with an eye on Ro-woon’s reaction, invites her to the wedding. Ro-woon is clearly indifferent to the news and happily agrees to attend the ceremony. Yi-soo smiles sweetly at her.
Kyo-ri and Se-jong sit together to work on their project. Only Kyo-ri pours over the material, while Se-jong makes paper planes. Finally, Se-jong decides they’ve been stuck in the office too long and drags Kyo-ri out to “get some inspiration.”
They sit at a coffee shop and analyze the clothing and jewelry on women walking by. They stop by a street vendor and walk around the area and Se-jong introduces her to his hangouts, like they’re on a date.
When she starts to worry that they’ve slacked off too long, Se-jong plays a song on his phone and starts dancing in the middle of the plaza. Mortified, Kyo-ri snatches the phone up and runs away. Hahaha. They eat at a food stall, and when Kyo-ri observes that he doesn’t act like a chaebol, he admits that he’s been told he looks poor a lot. They laugh and then he tells her to pay for the food. Pfft.
Back at the office, Se-jong presents his idea to the team: To have a traditional jewelry brand collaborate with a young, rising artist with modern tastes. Hwan-ki asks Kyo-ri’s opinion and she says that she supports Se-jong’s idea. Hwan-ki tells them to draw up a proposal.
That night when Ro-woon gets home, her father doesn’t say a word. She walks into her room to find that all her flowers and her pictures of her mother and sister are gone. She packs up a suitcase and walks out to the shop. She asks her father where her things are and he tells her to forget them.
Ro-woon tells him with quiet fury that she’s lived silently like he wanted for three years, but she can’t do it anymore. She tells him that she has to be by his (meaning Hwan-ki’s) side, and Dad slaps her. He looks at his own hands in horror, but Ro-woon is undeterred. She says that Hwan-ki will come to them with the truth soon, and that Dad already knows that he’s not a bad person.
As Ro-woon walks out of the shop, Dad thinks back to the first day Hwan-ki visited his shop. He was sitting on the reclining chair with silent tears slipping from his eyes. Dad had covered his face with a towel and left the shop to give him privacy. The memory makes Dad look conflicted.
Hwan-ki sits in his bed reading at night, when he hears the door of the penthouse open. Ro-woon walks in with her suitcase, and before he can say anything, runs into his arms, sobbing. Hwan-ki stands frozen for a moment, then hugs her close, listening to her storm of tears.
When she feels a little better, he hands her a hot drink and tells her to go home. She fake sobs and he mimics her, and they both smile at each other. (These two mimicking each other is my FAVORITE thing!) Just then, Yeon-jung walks into the office with wine.
Ro-woon glares at Hwan-ki and asks if this is why he wanted her gone. Hwan-ki stammers as he asks Yeon-jung why she came without telling him, and she says she expected him to be alone. She looks at Ro-woon’s tear-streaked face and asks if she just got dumped. Pwahaha. Hwan-ki denies having made Ro-woon cry, so Yeon-jung suggests the three of them have some wine.
Despite Hwan-ki’s protests, the three end up at his kitchen table with the wine. He declares that they’ll all just have one glass each and takes the seat beside Yeon-jung. This makes Ro-woon narrow her eyes and Yeon-jung crow gleefully. As Hwan-ki opens the bottle, Yeon-jung starts listing all the qualities that make Hwan-ki sexy to her, while Ro-woon makes faces. Yeon-jung tells a blushing Hwan-ki that they plan on fighting over him.
Then Yeon-jung asks Ro-woon if she and Hwan-ki don’t look better together, and Ro-woon mutters that if she were taller she wouldn’t feel inferior. Hwan-ki snorts out a laugh, but shuts up under Ro-woon’s glare. Then she suddenly perks up and asks Yeon-jung if she was Hwan-ki’s first love, who caused him to hide under his hoodie all these years.
Hwan-ki spits out his wine, while Yeon-jung coolly admits that it happened when they were in university. Hwan-ki begs her to say no more, while Ro-woon prods her for more information. Yeon-jung asks Ro-woon to tell her how far they’ve gone in return for answers. At Hwan-ki’s discomfort, she wonders when he began preferring “kids.”
Stung by the insult, Ro-woon proudly tells Yeon-jung that they’ve slept together for two days in a row. Yeon-jung scoffs that they probably just slept, but at Hwan-ki’s immediate agreement, she looks at him in surprise. How can a man and woman just sleep for two nights in a row, she asks.
Before Yeon-jung’s fake sympathy, Ro-woon gulps down her wine and promises to not let Hwan-ki “just sleep” tonight. Yeon-jung ups the stakes by asking Hwan-ki whom he would rather kiss right then. This makes Hwan-ki chug down glass after glass of wine, until he’s babbling drunk.
The two women carry him to his bed, while he tells them to kiss each other. All three collapse on the bed and Hwan-ki sits up. Ro-woon observes that this feels like deja vu, while Hwan-ki looks at Yeon-jung and calls her Ro-woon.
Ro-woon turns him towards her, and he starts giggling about their shower kiss. Yeon-jung wonders what they’re talking about but both say that it’s a secret. Hwan-ki again tells them to kiss, but asks to inspect their teeth. Yeon-jung displays hers but Ro-woon tightly purses her lips. Hwan-ki collapses back on the bed, tapping the teeth where Ro-woon had food stuck before.
Yeon-jung tells Ro-woon: “You can have him. I don’t think I want him.” Pwahaha. Ro-woon suggests they go finish their drinks and they leave Hwan-ki on the bed.
Ro-woon asks how much Yeon-jung knows about Hwan-ki, and Yeon-jung admits that it’s not much. Ro-woon confesses that she’s afraid of finding out the truth: “What if I can’t forgive him?” Yeon-jung tells her to trust Hwan-ki, because he isn’t the kind of person to keep secrets out of selfishness. Ro-woon smiles.
Then Yeon-jung tells her that if she were to leave Hwan-ki, Yeon-jung will step right in, so she doesn’t have to worry. Ro-woon rues that she can’t let her guard down around Yeon-jung at all. It becomes clear that neither woman has any intention of leaving the other with Hwan-ki, and so the two sit there studying sleeping Hwan-ki’s cuteness.
The next morning, Hwan-ki stumbles out of his bed to the sound of a hair dryer. It takes him a minute to focus on towel-clad Ro-woon sitting before his mirror. She stands up and poses for him. “Do I look like a kid to you?” she asks. Hwan-ki’s response is to do an about-face and grab his vacuum cleaner to pick up Ro-woon’s hair from the carpet.
Ro-woon waves two tickets for an art exhibition, left by Yeon-jung with orders to have their dates in front of her. It reminds her of her sister’s drawing, and Ro-woon asks if he has it. Seeing that he clearly doesn’t know anything about it, she dismisses it, and goes back to drying her hair. Hwan-ki just stands there unable to look directly at her.
Hwan-ki arrives at the gallery and looks for Ro-woon, who is supposed to meet him there. Yeon-jung teases him about showing some respect to his first love, then points out that Woo-il just walked in. She senses the tension between them immediately, and remarks on it.
Woo-il tells her about canceling the orchestra they’d hired to play for her gallery, but at Hwan-ki’s curiosity about it, he snaps that it’s the project Hwan-ki dumped on him. At Hwan-ki’s critique of the poster selected for the exhibition, Woo-il glares at him, and Hwan-ki shuts up. Woo-il asks to speak alone with Yeon-jung about work.
They walk to a quieter area, and Woo-il admits that now that Hwan-ki doesn’t need him like he used to, he feels insecure. He asks if he sounds like a loser, and Yeon-jung bluntly tells him that he does. She observes that he always tries to be someone who is needed, and Woo-il agrees that he was full of conceit at the thought that he was indispensable to Hwan-ki.
Yeon-jung studies his face, then asks if he was the one responsible for what happened three years ago. Woo-il looks at her with startled, scared eyes, and this confirms the matter for her. She points out that Hwan-ki didn’t protect him three years ago because he needed Woo-il, and now that he doesn’t need him anymore, Hwan-ki hasn’t abandoned his friend.
Woo-il assumes Hwan-ki told Yeon-jung, and takes him aside to ask if he’s determined to reveal everything. Hwan-ki tries to explain that Woo-il’s not the only one who risks losing something precious when the truth comes out. Woo-il desperately pleads for Hwan-ki’s silence, promising to marry Yi-soo like he wanted.
He brings up hiding the truth from Yi-soo again, but Hwan-ki says that Yi-soo already knows. (You know that she knows?!) Then before he can say another word, Yi-soo calls out to Hwan-ki. She’s standing close enough to have heard everything, and she can barely meet Woo-il’s eyes. She stumbles, her body unable to hold itself up, and Hwan-ki helps her leave the exhibition.
He puts her in his car, but as he starts the engine, Yi-soo shuts it down and asks him: “You want me to die, don’t you?” She shouts that he knows she’ll die without Woo-il, but this time Hwan-ki finds enough anger in him to ask her if she wants a life where Woo-il will live with guilt and she’ll live pretending she knows nothing. (You go, big brother!)
This silences her for a moment, but she tells Hwan-ki that dead people can’t come back, so he should forget about it. Hwan-ki argues that Ji-hye’s family is still suffering. At her dismissal that they’re just strangers, Hwan-ki says he can’t ignore them anymore. He looks ahead and sees Ro-woon walking towards them. Yi-soo follows his gaze and realization dawns on her.
As Ro-woon greets them through the window, Yi-soo stares at her in stunned silence as her eyes fall on Ro-woon’s necklace. Hwan-ki understands immediately what his sister is thinking about.
In a flashback, we see that after Ji-hye met Yi-soo near the stairwell on the fateful night, the two women had spoken alone in an empty corridor. Yi-soo had asked what Ji-hye had done to win Woo-il’s heart since it was so hard for her. As Ji-hye stammered and wrung her hands, Yi-soo asked if he had given Ji-hye a necklace.
Ji-hye took out the box from her pocket, saying that she meant to return it, but Yi-soo slaps it out of her hand. She looks down at the necklace on the floor and tells Ji-hye that she’d picked it out for Woo-il, who had given it to another woman. She drops her purse on the floor and the contents spill out.
Yi-soo carefully picks up a blade and says that she always thought that she couldn’t live without Woo-il. Ji-hye tells her that Woo-il made a mistake, but Yi-soo is convinced that it wasn’t a mistake. In front of Ji-hye’s horrified eyes, she slits her wrist and tells her that she’ll always hate her, because she can’t give up on Woo-il.
As blood drips from the wound, she pushes away Ji-hye’s helping hand and tells her to disappear. Clutching a handkerchief to the cut, she walks away, as Ji-hye stands there trembling with guilt and grief. In the present, Yi-soo stares at Ro-woon wearing that very necklace.
Epilogue. Yoo-hee’s husband (guest appearance by Kim Ji-suk) and their children visit her at the gallery on the wall painting day, and the boys runs to hug Hwan-ki. The husband tells Hwan-ki that his children keep saying that they want Hwan-ki to be their dad, and he squeezes Hwan-ki’s hand hard enough to leave it crumpled.
He helps Yoo-hee paint the wall with the kids, and when Yoo-hee wonders if she should quit her job to be with the family more, he tells her that she looks sexy while working. To himself, he thinks: I just bought a new car. Pfft.
Well, that was an abrupt epilogue after that ending scene, but I appreciate the cameo nonetheless. It’s good to see that Kim Ji-suk’s character from Oh Hae-young Again hasn’t undergone any drastic changes despite his happy family life.
It had been hinted for a while that Yi-soo was somehow involved in Ji-hye’s death, but it seems it was less an involvement and more a cruel suggestion that Ji-hye took to heart in the wrong way. I don’t genuinely believe that Yi-soo ever wanted Ji-hye to die. I also don’t think Yi-soo had any intention of dying herself. People who are suffering enough to resort to self harm are keenly aware of the line between cutting themselves and committing suicide. As Ji-hye proved three years ago, if your intention is to die, you don’t just dramatically slit your wrist and then use a handkerchief to stem the blood.
But, it seems that at some point Yi-soo realized that her suicidal tendency was a weapon she could hold over others to manipulate them. Three years ago, it was an effective prop to twist the knife into Ji-hye’s guilt-filled heart. Afterwards, it was what kept Hwan-ki silent. I was so proud of Hwan-ki when he shouted back at Yi-soo. From her stunned expression, it’s clear that he’s always handled her with kid gloves until now. I’m still unclear on how much he knows about Yi-soo and Ji-hye’s confrontation, but he seems to have guessed the content. This adds another layer of plausible reason for Hwan-ki taking the blame on himself. Not only was he protecting his friend, he was shielding his sister too.
There’s a strain of narcissism in both Yi-soo and Woo-il that makes them peculiarly well suited for each other. Yi-soo’s determination to brush Ji-hye’s death aside and ignore her family’s pain throws light on the part of her that makes her Assemblyman Eun’s daughter. With scary ease, Yi-soo uses her health to keep Woo-il near her and to remove Hwan-ki from a conversation where she doesn’t want her secret revealed. The selfishness fueling her actions is staggering. Her world is narrowed to just her own wants and needs, much like Woo-il can only see his own fears and losses. Their ideas about relationships are fundamentally twisted. Yi-soo seems to think it’s normal to cling to someone regardless of their feelings, and Woo-il believes the only way someone can care for him is if they need him. It’s a toss up to say who’s more broken at this point.
Yeon-jung was spectacular in this episode. She has been more of a friend to Hwan-ki in a few days than Woo-il has been in years. Her cutting Woo-il to size was so perfect it made me whoop for joy. She’s almost the same age as Hwan-ki and Woo-il and knows their history. She was better suited than anyone else to defend Hwan-ki from a place of entrenched friendship and her position as a friend to both. I loved that they used her character to drive Woo-il’s truth to him. I also appreciated the conversation she had with Ro-woon. The girl is functioning on pure faith right now, and it takes a lot of trust to make that leap. So, Yeon-jung’s support has to mean the world to her. I can see Yeon-jung teasing Hwan-ki and Ro-woon well into their dotage at this point.
- Introverted Boss: Episode 11
- Introverted Boss: Episode 10
- Introverted Boss: Episode 9
- Introverted Boss: Episode 8
- Introverted Boss: Episode 7
- Introverted Boss: Episode 6
- Introverted Boss: Episode 5
- Introverted Boss: Episode 4
- Introverted Boss: Episode 3
- Introverted Boss: Episode 2
- Introverted Boss: Episode 1