Woman of Dignity: Episode 10
Bok-ja is a woman with a plan, and while she’s ruthless when it comes to getting what she wants, she seems to have developed a soft spot and sense of understanding when it comes to our suffering heroine, Ah-jin. But without Ah-jin to run the household, can the rest of the Ahn family recover their positions, or will Bok-ja continue to steamroll over them until only she remains?
Episode 10: “The last brunch”
Ah-jin storms out of the art gallery, leaving the curator to question Ah-jin’s motivation for leaving Sung-hee’s paintings up. Meanwhile, Jae-suk fumes over Sung-hee’s drawing of the woman who attacked her, recognizing the woman as Bok-ja.
Meanwhile, Bok-ja eagerly waits for the results of a home pregnancy test, but despairs when it comes back negative.
Back home, Ah-jin hands the factory account book over to Bok-ja per Chairman Ahn’s request. Ah-jin reveals that she plans to move out of the Ahn Estate with her family, and tells Bok-ja to take care of matters for both houses going forward. Bok-ja doesn’t look as happy as she should be at this news.
At breakfast, Bok-ja informs the chairman of Ah-jin’s plan to leave, revealing that Jae-suk cheated on Ah-jin with the artist who designed the new tissue boxes, and the Chairman realizes that’s why Jae-suk insisted on the new designs (which he’s always hated).
Framing the entire situation as though she only did it out of concern for the chairman’s company, Bok-ja says she got involved only “a little,” explaining that she went to visit Jae-suk’s mistress.
She conveniently leaves out the part where she beat Sung-hee up, so when Jae-suk rushes in with the sketch to accuse Bok-ja of assaulting Sung-hee, it goes ignored as Chairman Ahn bolts up from his chair to tear into Jae-suk for his behavior.
As Bok-ja watches the show, Chairman Ahn scolds Jae-suk for not only cheating, but for doing it with someone who Ah-jin introduced to him. Jae-suk counters that Chairman Ahn cheated with many women when he was younger too, so he doesn’t have a right to criticize him for doing the same.
They bicker back and forth, and Jae-suk claims that he loves “that woman.” Chairman Ahn: “Which woman?” Jae-suk: “That woman.” Chairman Ahn: “Which one?!” When Jae-suk finally clarifies that he means “the new one,” Chairman Ahn starts hitting him again.
Jae-suk argues he can’t choose who his heart wants, just like his father didn’t have a choice in loving Bok-ja. But when Chairman Ahn tells Jae-suk to end the affair immediately, Jae-suk refuses and says that he won’t get a divorce because he loves “that woman.”
“Which woman?” Chairman Ahn asks again. Jae-suk: “That woman.” Chairman Ahn: “Yes, but which one?!” Finally, Jae-suk reveals that he’s talking about Ah-jin this time, which earns him another beating from his father.
Frustrated, Jae-suk whines that his father is being unfair since Bok-ja is basically Chairman Ahn’s mistress. Chairman Ahn rebuts that Bok-ja is his second wife, not his mistress, but Jae-suk says that’s the same thing, and Bok-ja finally chimes in, “It’s completely different.” Ha.
Jae-suk warns Bok-ja to leave Sung-hee alone, but Chairman Ahn responds with a threat of his own: Jae-suk will be kicked out of the company if he doesn’t break up with Sung-hee.
Chairman Ahn chases Jae-suk around the table, but Jae-suk holds firm with his plan: no divorce, no breakup, and he will continue to run the company as usual. With that, he rushes out before Chairman Ahn can catch him.
Bok-ja realizes suddenly that Chairman Ahn was walking around on his own without assistance during this whole fight, and exclaims happily that Jae-suk was finally good for something.
Meanwhile, Kyung-hee and her husband prepare to leave the hospital. He tells Kyung-hee that he plans to prosecute his attacker to the full extent of the law, suspecting Kyung-hee to be behind it.
Curiously, Kyung-hee is unfazed by his subtle threats and even taunts him in return, claiming that if he were to hit her in public, then he might be the one to go to jail.
He asks why Kyung-hee is so confident, and she quips that she must be used to his abuse now. As Kyung-hee leaves, she sends her husband a text message with the video of him assaulting her in the elevator, and he finally realizes why she stopped being afraid of him.
Joo-mi and Jae-gu return from the police station to find Bok-ja and Bang-soon waiting with a block of tofu (to celebrate Jae-gu’s release from jail).
Dumbfounded, Jae-gu palms the tofu and throws it to the floor angrily. Joo-mi tells Jae-gu that he can use her room from now on and pulls Bok-ja aside to talk.
Joo-mi brings up the video of the canopy sabotage at the chairman’s birthday, and how the assailant pointed the finger at Joo-mi when caught. However, Joo-mi makes it clear that she thinks Bok-ja was behind the sabotage.
Joo-mi suspects that Bok-ja plans to take control over the entire household, and Joo-mi warns that she won’t let that happen. But Bok-ja just laughs and responds with her own threat:
“It’s a simple matter to turn a misfired gunshot into attempted murder. If you’re going to threaten someone, do it at the right time and situation. The canopy incident? The world isn’t concerned about what is true. What works becomes the truth. You said the trainer himself said that you told him to do it? Then you are the one who told him to do it. That’s how the world is.”
At the art gallery, Director Seo scolds Sung-hee for dating Jae-suk after Ah-jin did so much for her career. Director Seo tells Sung-hee to end it, but Sung-hee asks for her understanding, citing Seo’s own experience in the matter by blurting out, “What’s so different? You’re a mistress too!”
Enraged, Director Seo orders the removal of all of Sung-hee’s paintings from the gallery. Unfortunately, a famous Japanese collector is currently viewing them, and is stricken by one of Sung-hee’s paintings enough to buy it on the spot.
Bok-ja tells Chairman Ahn that she wants to take some MBA courses, but she needs to be on the board of directors at some firm in order to get in, so she asks if Chairman Ahn can get her a spot in his company. He quickly agrees and tells her to start classes right away.
Meanwhile, Jae-suk takes Sung-hee to the new home he promised her and gives her a tour. Sung-hee tells him that all the great things happening in her life recently started after she met him, but he dumbly reminds her that all those good things happened after she met Ah-jin, not him.
Sung-hee tells Jae-suk he is clueless and naïve for bringing up his wife, and he responds that someone else told him that his innocence and naïvety are his likable traits. When he reveals that Ah-jin told him that, Sung-hee storms out in a huff.
Bok-ja meets with her accomplice, and we finally get a bit of backstory on her as she talks about growing up in the same foster home as him and how much she took care of him. She even used her job as a bookkeeper to get him a job at the same company, and together, they embezzled funds out of the company seven years ago.
But Bok-ja reveals that she took all the blame for him then, and that he promised to pay her back no matter what. She tells the story of how she had to live her life working in a hostess bar after she got out of prison and couldn’t find him, but mentions that when she did find him, he made her a big bowl of ramyun. “And for some reason,” she adds, her eyes teary, “that ramyun felt like your sincere heart. As if you were saying ‘I’m sorry.’ And you gave me all the money you had in your wallet. That day… I forgave you.”
Her accomplice argues that he found her Chairman Ahn as a way of paying her back, but Bok-ja just tells him to be loyal to her and finish what he already started.
After a rendezvous with Ki-ok’s husband, Kyung-hee tells him that they won’t be able to see each other for a while since her husband’s been released from the hospital. Sung-soo pulls Kyung-hee into a hug, which is when she drops a bomb on him: “I’m pregnant.” She tells him that she doesn’t know who the father is and walks out, leaving Sung-soo alone and bewildered.
Ki-ok reveals her husband’s affair to Hyo-joo, and asks for advice on how to handle it. Hyo-joo tells her about how she got a boyfriend in response to her own husband’s cheating, but Ki-ok is more concerned about her children, bringing up an older son who’s mysteriously ill. No matter what Hyo-joo was prepared for, she’s absolutely stunned when Ki-ok reveals that the mistress is someone from their mom group.
At home, Ah-jin tries to take her mind off Jae-suk’s cheating, lamenting at the thought of facing the other moms at brunch tomorrow.
At said brunch, the atmosphere is tense from the very beginning, and it doesn’t take long for Ki-ok to start on the warpath with Kyung-hee.
Ki-ok argues that Kyung-hee came from nothing, so how can she possibly think she belongs in the high class? Ki-ok emphasizes her point, “A dirty wipe is still a dirty wipe, even after you wash it.”
Ki-ok and Kyung-hee continue to escalate their argument, and Ki-ok finally brings up her husband’s affair. Kyung-hee gets up to leave, but Ki-ok grabs her by the hair, which only incenses Kyung-hee further.
Sure enough, the two of them are soon taking swipes at each other, and a comically full-blown slo-mo catfight breaks out, with Ah-jin, Hyo-joo, and Joo-kyung trying their best to intervene.
Eventually, Ki-ok grabs a plate of hot pasta and throws it in Kyung-hee’s face. As Lou Reed’s “A Perfect Day” plays, Kyung-hee falls to the floor and Ki-ok climbs on top to continue thrashing her, but Kyung-hee screams out that she is pregnant. Everyone suddenly stops in shock as Kyung-hee just sobs inconsolably.
Bok-ja narrates: “That day, Ah-jin saw the true reality of herself in that brunch, and she also realized what she had to do, and what she must not do.”
Bok-ja takes one of her MBA classes, and afterwards, another student introduces himself and offers Bok-ja a business card. Bok-ja chooses to introduce herself as Park Ji-young instead of Park Bok-ja, and tells the man that she’ll give him her business card next time.
Bok-ja takes another class, this time to learn about fine wine, and opines in voiceover:
“The people in the high class studied continuously. In order to hold on to their position, they put in the utmost effort, and their effort was given at a different level than the effort of those in the lower class, who struggled to survive. They believed that even if life as they know it were to start to break, their effort in learning could sustain their lives and positions.”
Confronting her husband at the hospital, Ki-ok asks, “Is it your child? It’s not, right?” When he says he doesn’t know, Ki-ok loses it, wishing that he could’ve at least been unfaithful with a random woman rather than someone he met through his own child.
When Sung-soo tells her that this is a conversation they should have at home, Ki-ok responds that she is already holding back because they’re in public, and because Sung-soo needs to continue working so they can continue to live in a nice house and send their kids to a good school.
At this, Sung-soo snaps as he says that all Ki-ok sees him as is a money-making worm. Bemoaning the fact that he studied so many years just to do the same surgery every day to support his family, he yells, “At least let me get away with this much!” Even though he promises to end things with Kyung-hee, Ki-ok is left speechless.
Kyung-hee’s husband heads to the police station and fills out the paperwork to drop the charges on his attacker. He asks if a wife can report her husband for abuse and charge him for it, and when the detective confirms that she can, her husband quickly stamps his paperwork and leaves without another word.
Kyung-hee, face plastered with bandages, has an ultrasound to check on the health of her unborn child. Once she finds out that everything’s good, she heads to Sung-soo’s office, where he fusses over the burn marks left by Ki-ok.
Kyung-hee asks if Sung-soo can take responsibility for the baby. Sung-soo is taken aback, thinking it might not be his child, but Kyung-hee confirms that she doesn’t sleep with her husband, so it must be Sung-soo’s after all.
He looks mortified at the situation, but Kyung-hee secretly snickers to herself.
Over a glass of wine at the house bar, Bok-ja asks if Ah-jin is just going to let Jae-suk slide for his transgressions, and Ah-jin clarifies that Jae-suk will not be in her life as her husband anymore. But, she adds that Ji-hoo still needs a father, so they will still live together.
Bok-ja lets Ah-jin know that she told Chairman Ahn about Jae-suk’s affair, and that Jae-suk claimed he didn’t want a divorce either. .
Joo-mi arrives to find Bok-ja and Ah-jin at the bar, but Bok-ja shoos her away so she and Ah-jin can continue to talk privately. Joo-mi leaves, but her curiosity is certainly piqued.
While helping Sung-hee move into her new house, Jae-suk gets a call from his father, and though he doesn’t want to answer, Sung-hee urges him to placate his father since they need him on their side.
Over the phone, Chairman Ahn immediately starts tearing into him for continuing the affair. Defending himself against Jae-suk’s retorts, Chairman Ahn says that at least when he cheated, it was never with someone his wife knew. “How can you be so dumb, even in the way you cheat? You even need Ah-jin’s help to cheat on her!” Chairman Ahn bellows.
Giving Jae-suk one week to end the affair or face being kicked out of the company, Chairman Ahn hangs up and storms out of his room, finding Joo-mi eavesdropping near his door. Caught, she quickly scurries off without a word.
Sung-hee argues that Jae-suk should listen to his father for now, lest Jae-suk be kicked out. Jae-suk just shrugs off the idea of that happening, but Sung-hee tells him to stop being ridiculous.
Jae-suk chides Sung-hee for being more interested in his money, but she tells him that she likes everything that makes him who he is now, which happens to include his financial circumstances.
Finally, Sung-hee tells Jae-suk to go back home and not make things worse, asking him to be mature about it. Jae-suk quips “I wouldn’t have cheated with you if I acted maturely.” Pffft.
Back at the bar, Ah-jin tells Bok-ja that her least favorite number is nine, because that was how old she was when she lost her father. Ah-jin doesn’t want Ji-hoo to hate the number eleven for the same reason.
Bok-ja fights back tears and counsels that divorce wouldn’t mean that Ji-hoo would lose her father, but Ah-jin thinks otherwise and worries that Ji-hoo would feel more pain than even she did back then. “The sense of loss and betrayal would be worse,” Ah-jin says, downing her glass.
Meanwhile, Jae-hee cheerily lounges around in Ah-jin’s home. Jin-hee asks if Jae-hee plans to stay until Chairman Ahn gives her a sufficient amount of money, and Jae-hee affirms that she’d leave for about two million dollars.
The next morning, Jae-hee finds the accomplice loitering at the front gate again, and this time, she brings him inside for the rest of the family to confront him.
The accomplice apologizes to Chairman Ahn and reiterates the story he told Ah-jin: Joo-mi wanted to kill Bok-ja, so she hired him to sabotage the canopy. Chairman Ahn and Jae-hee are shocked by this revelation, but Joo-mi protests that it’s all a lie and that she’s being framed.
Bok-ja plays her part too, pretending to be shocked and upset that Joo-mi would try to hurt her. Joo-mi’s protests fall on deaf ears, and from Chairman Ahn’s perspective, there’s no reason to doubt the culprit’s confession, so he tells Joo-mi to leave the house.
Jae-gu arrives and tells Joo-mi that they should just leave together, but Joo-mi implores Chairman Ahn to consider her son, Woon-kyu, since he is about to finish high school, and Chairman Ahn concedes to let them stay until Woon-kyu’s college entrance exam.
Once the chairman’s gone, Joo-mi cries that her father-in-law won’t listen to a word she says and kicked her out without a second thought. Angry now, she lays the blame on Jae-gu for Chairman Ahn’s contempt for their family.
Ah-jin heads to the other house that she and Jae-suk own together, only to find the lock combination changed. She drops by Jae-suk’s office to ask about it, informing him that she plans to move there and start her life over by getting away from the Ahn Estate.
Caught, Jae-suk stutters that he already rented the house out. Ah-jin senses that Jae-suk is hiding something, and prods him to tell her what it is. We don’t hear him say it, but his longsuffering employee (who’s eavesdropping outside) hears the sudden commotion from within.
“What?! Who are you going to live with in that house?!” Ah-jin yells as she rampages around Jae-suk’s office throwing Sung-hee’s tissue boxes at him. Jae-suk cowers in fear and eventually runs away with his employee to escape Ah-jin’s fury, dragging his employee along with him.
Distraught, Ah-jin trudges over to Ki-ho’s office. She wants to ask Ki-ho for his advice on what to do, but since he’s in court, she starts to explain herself to Ki-ho’s assistant. However, she’s unable to keep her composure, and eventually breaks down.
Ah-jin decides to leave and come back later, but when she gets to the elevator, there stands Ki-ho, returning from court. An overwhelmed Ah-jin breaks down again, openly wailing as Ki-ho pulls her into his arms and comforts her. It’s all too much for Ah-jin, and she faints in Ki-ho’s arms.
Ah-jin wakes up some time later with Ki-ho watching over her at the hospital. She wants to leave as soon as she wakes up, but Ki-ho insists that Ah-jin follow the doctor’s orders to run a few tests, leading to her admittal into a new room.
In the hospital room, Ki-ho jokes that he must have looked too cool and awesome, since Ah-jin fainted at the sight of him. Ah-jin is not exactly in a joking mood, but she does seem to lighten a bit at the joke.
Ah-jin calls home to inform Jin-hee that she’s in the hospital, telling her to take care of Ji-hoo in her stead. Jae-hee is sitting nearby and Jin-hee fills her in on Ah-jin’s condition, but Jae-hee is unaware of Jae-suk’s infidelity.
Ji-hoo interrupts the conversation, and Jin-hee tries to rush Ji-hoo off to bed early, but Jae-hee blithely decides to ask whether Ji-hoo knows anything about Jae-suk cheating on Ah-jin.
Horrified, Jin-hee tries to cover Ji-hoo’s ears, but Jae-hee apparently has no filter and reveals to Ji-hoo that Ah-jin is even in the hospital right now. Poor Ji-hoo.
Meanwhile, Sung-hee is overcome with some illness of her own, and Jae-suk dotes on her in the new house. His phone rings, and he’s surprised to see that it’s Ji-hoo calling.
Back at the hospital, Ki-ho opens up to Ah-jin about his past. He tells her about the car accident that killed his newlywed wife, and how that accident also left him in a vegetative state for two years.
Ki-ho says that even though he lost those two years of his life, he still remembers his own thoughts from that time: He’d told himself that he must live for the sake of his wife, not knowing that she already passed.
Ki-ho thoughtfully posits, “That earnest heart of wanting to survive for someone else brought me back to life.”
He tells Ah-jin to think about who she needs to protect, and places a tiny paper crane in Ah-jin’s hand as he tells her that it will fly away, turned into a real crane (like her father used to promise).
Bok-ja and Bang-soon head outside late at night and find Joo-mi pacing around the walkway, fuming. Bang-soon asks what Bok-ja’s plan is now that Ah-jin’s the only one left that she needs to get rid of. But Bok-ja looks curiously thoughtful when Ah-jin’s name is mentioned.
Ah-jin takes a call from Jae-suk, who is still at Sung-hee’s house. He asks if Ah-jin’s in the hospital because of what he said earlier, and has the gall to reprimand her for making Ji-hoo cry. Ah-jin is visibly flabbergasted with him.
Jae-suk lowers his voice to a whisper (so Sung-hee can’t hear him) and says that he still loves Ah-jin, but it’s just that she is not the only one he loves at the moment. He tells Ah-jin to “be cool about it” and keep living as they currently do.
Ah-jin chooses not to directly respond to his comments, and instead tells Jae-suk to go home and take care of Ji-hoo. Jae-suk is resistant, and when Ah-jin pleads for him to go, Jae-suk answers that Sung-hee is sick too.
Incredulous, Ah-jin hangs up, absolutely livid at Jae-suk. Ji-hoo texts her mother some words of encouragement, and Ah-jin composes herself long enough to swear, “Ahn Jae-suk. You are out of my life forever!”
Back at the estate, Bok-ja tells Bang-soon that she’ll leave Ah-jin alone, while in the hospital, Ah-jin rips her IV out in rage.
The dynamic between Bok-ja and Ah-jin certainly is interesting. Bok-ja clearly respects Ah-jin more than anyone else in the upper class, and while her sights have been set on taking control of the Ahn household, Bok-ja always seems to keep Ah-jin out of the line of fire. Meanwhile, Ah-jin’s feelings toward Bok-ja are less clearly defined.
Like Director Seo quipped at the beginning of this episode, Ah-jin is almost Buddha-like in how she carries herself, so she handles Bok-ja in much the same way that she handles everyone else in her life: with a remarkable penchant for forgiveness and understanding. Ah-jin is practically a saint (especially compared to everyone else in this drama), and this is probably what led Bok-ja to spare Ah-jin from her plan.
What I find so great about their relationship, though, is just how well they compliment each other. We saw it last episode when Bok-ja got her hands dirty by trashing Sung-hee’s studio for Ah-jin, who would never do something like that, and now we see Bok-ja being a rock for Ah-jin when she needs someone to talk to. I just want these two to team up and take out every one of the horrible, adulterous people we keep seeing skate by unscathed.
As for Ah-jin’s own problems, while she might prefer to take the high road, she is certainly at the end of her rope with Jae-suk, who cemented his irredeemable status by choosing to care for Sung-hee over his own daughter. I realize that responsibility isn’t Jae-suk’s strong suit, but Ah-jin’s reaction to that decision almost doesn’t do justice to how abominable it was.
Ji-hoo was worried about her dad hurting Ah-jin, but it turns out that he is even willing to neglect his own daughter for Sung-hee, and that’s maybe the second most morally reprehensible conduct of any character thus far. The best thing I can say about Jae-suk is that at least he doesn’t physically assault his wife, but that just shows how low he’s set the bar for our expectations.
Jae-suk is a lightning rod for loathing right now, but hopefully his despicable actions will serve to drive Ah-jin closer to the good people in her life. We already see Ji-hoo and Ki-ho flocking to provide support, and I hope Ah-jin can heed Ki-ho’s words and realize that these are exactly the people who she should be trying to protect. However, how she should go about protecting them is the problem that Ah-jin needs to solve. We know Ah-jin avoids conflict when she deems it unnecessary, but this past hour might be the wake-up call she needs to realize that, sometimes, all-out war is unavoidable.
[Note: Too many shows, not enough time! While javabeans and girlfriday continue their search for the fourth dimension, we’ll unfortunately be dropping Woman of Dignity recaps to use our stable of minions more strategically. Luckily, there’s no shortage of new dramas that need covering! –HeadsNo2]
- Woman of Dignity: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Woman of Dignity
- A pool of blood and tears of regret for Woman of Dignity
- Black dresses and pink stilettos for Woman of Dignity
- Jealousy, tears, and reversals in tense new Woman of Dignity teaser
- Kim Sun-ah and Kim Hee-sun cross paths and fates in Woman of Dignity
- Man to Man’s sexy big sister Woman of Dignity to air in June on JTBC
- Woman of Dignity lands on JTBC’s weekend schedule
- First look at the leading ladies of Woman of Dignity
- Elegant actresses team up at Woman of Dignity’s first script read