Woman of Dignity: Episode 6
Even the best-laid plans aren’t foolproof, but our anti-heroine shows that with quick thinking, you can turn a disaster into a dream come true. Bok-ja continues to tighten her hold over the family, and even though her machinations are clearly evident to everyone but the chairman, her cunning and sheer force of will keeps her just a step ahead of Ah-jin, whose life continues to unravel before our very eyes.
Episode 6: “The night before the storm”
As a storm rages outside the Ahn estate, Chairman Ahn sobs openly as he sits alone in his bedroom, and we see the familiar scene of Bok-ja lying in a pool of her own blood.
Back in the present, Ah-jin prepares to share the video of Bok-ja’s accomplice tampering with the canopy. However, she’s interrupted when Chairman Ahn announces his intention to marry Bok-ja, to the shock of everyone else present.
They each express their opposition in turn. Ah-jin mentions that this marriage would make Bok-ja the female head of the household, plus, Bok-ja has a criminal record for fraud.
The revelation about Bok-ja’s past stirs further objections, but Chairman Ahn refuses to relent. Bok-ja did that for her child’s health, he argues — would they not do the same for their own children?
Ah-jin, sensing that this argument is futile, sends the video of the accomplice to everyone in the room and says that the video proves that the collapse was no accident.
To avoid suspicion, Bok-ja loudly suggests that they call the cops, since someone might be trying to harm Chairman Ahn. Bok-ja proposes that one of Chairman Ahn’s children might be responsible, but when Joo-mi tells her off, Bok-ja coldly implies that it might even be Joo-mi who is responsible. Startled, Joo-mi can only stammer in response.
Chairman Ahn lambastes everyone for harassing Bok-ja, but Ah-jin claims to have a second video clip, which seems to alarm Bok-ja. Ah-jin argues that they need to fully investigate this incident before Chairman Ahn can get married.
After all, Ah-jin says that if each of the family members can be a suspect, Bok-ja has to be one too, especially since the incident ended with Chairman Ahn deciding to marry her.
Ah-jin openly questions if this was Bok-ja’s plan all along, and when Bok-ja claims otherwise, Ah-jin tells her to proclaim that she won’t ever marry the Chairman if she wants to avoid being misunderstood.
But Bok-ja just asserts that her only goal is to protect the Chairman, and if that means she needs to marry him, then she will do it. Nonplussed, Ah-jin reiterates that Bok-ja needs to know her place — she is a caregiver, nothing more.
Daughter-in-law Joo-mi continues to argue against the marriage, since it would mean that she’d have to refer to the woman who threw her son out into the rain as “Mother-in-law,” but Chairman Ahn simply tells her to take her son and leave the house if she doesn’t like it. This seems to be a moment of realization for Joo-mi, and she simply agrees to leave, but this only makes the rest of the children more argumentative.
Annoyed, Chairman Ahn says that he should just die instead of getting married and tells all of his children not to come to the funeral. Both he and Bok-ja wear sour expressions as she rolls him out of the room.
Joo-mi affirms her plan to leave the house, believing that will end Chairman Ahn’s madness, and she leaves the others to compose themselves after this shocking conversation.
Jae-suk tells an exhausted Ah-jin that they should just let Chairman Ahn go through with the marriage since his mind is already set on it. Ah-jin protests that this was Bok-ja’s plan when she entered the house, so they can’t just stand by and watch it happen.
Later that night, Chairman Ahn doesn’t want Bok-ja to leave him for long, so she promises to be back after her shower and walks off with a smug smile.
The morning after Jae-suk’s failed attempt to make love to Ah-jin, Ah-jin wakes Jae-suk up for his morning exercise, but he stubbornly insists that he doesn’t need to today and almost reveals the reason — that he fought with his mistress — before he realizes his mistake and stops himself.
Jae-suk bolts up to cover for his mistake, and when Ah-jin mentions Chairman Ahn’s marriage plans, Jae-suk tells her to just give up and let them get married. When Ah-jin is surprised by his comment, Jae-suk clarifies that he means his father. Ha.
Ah-jin and her friend Ki-ok take their yoga class together and chat about other mistresses. They both believe the other’s husband is cheating and try to drop subtle hints for the other, but neither will tell the other outright.
“Nobody ever suspects her own husband to be cheating, but the least suspicious are the ones who turn around and cheat,” Ki-ok posits. Ah-jin agrees, and they leave for lunch.
They continue to dance around the topic of cheating at lunch, and Ki-ok finally confesses that she thinks Jae-suk is cheating on Ah-jin. Ah-jin is visibly stunned.
Ki-ok fills Ah-jin in on the stamina pills her husband gave to Jae-suk, and how the pills aren’t meant for Ah-jin. Ah-jin shoots Ki-ok’s theory down, though, since Jae-suk obviously cares so much about his own health that these new pills are probably just part of his daily health regimen.
Ah-jin believes that Jae-suk wouldn’t tell Ki-ok’s husband if he were cheating either, since she would obviously find out about it in this exact manner.
After claiming that Jae-suk was probably just joking, Ah-jin steers the conversation back to Ki-ok’s husband. Again, she tries to hint to Ki-ok that he is cheating on her, but a completely oblivious Ki-ok fails to catch on.
At Ah-jin’s home, the housekeeper notices that Jae-suk’s cycling outfit smells awful for the first time, realizing that this must be the first time he’s actually gone cycling.
Back in her car, Ah-jin fumes that Jae-suk is going around telling people he uses stamina pills for adulterous purposes. She heads home, and the housekeeper immediately questions the validity of Jae-suk’s cycling routine. The housekeeper bluntly tells Ah-jin that he never went cycling before and that Ah-jin should keep an eye on him, which leaves Ah-jin feeling uneasy.
Jae-suk’s mistress Sung-hee anxiously tries to get in touch with him, but she angrily throws her phone away when he refuses her calls.
Ah-jin reflects on the housekeeper’s revelation, and thinks back to the time Ki-ok saw Jae-suk in a café. She holds back tears and collects herself again, still looking furious.
Back at the Ahn Estate, Chairman Ahn complains about his children and proposes that he and Bok-ja should just have a private wedding between the tow of them. Bok-ja cautions him to not be so upset with his children, adding, “You might have other children.”
Taken aback, Chairman Ahn gapes at her, and Bok-ja says, “I want to have your children.”
Ah-jin’s meditation mate Ki-ho meets with a client (cameo by Jung Yumi), who wants him to help her sue a dog hotel for allowing her dog to be impregnated during her stay. When he finishes that appointment, he texts Ah-jin to ask about how the caregiver situation is going, and looks concerned when Ah-jin replies that the caregiver is about to become her mother-in-law.
After mulling over her father-in-law’s ultimatum and her diminishing bankbook, Joo-mi takes some of her jewelry to an upscale pawnshop, only to change her mind and storm out before the sale can even be negotiated.
At the cash-only food shop for the super rich, Bok-ja is relentless when the owner claims she can’t fulfill Bok-ja’s order, leading Bok-ja to threaten to report the store to the authorities. In voiceover, Bok-ja explains, “What works better than conciliation or convincing to get someone on your side is to bring up one’s weaknesses and secrets.”
As the owner acquiesces, Bok-ja continues, “Everyone’s got weaknesses and secrets that cannot be exposed, but such weaknesses and secrets end up exposed by someone else, and it’s always exposed to someone who should never know.”
Meanwhile, Hyo-joo’s husband buys a car for his mistress, but Hyo-joo’s well-placed tail reports this news to her immediately. To take it out on him, she spends an obscene amount of his money on clothes as Ki-ok watches on in amusement.
Meanwhile, Kyung-hee returns home with her husband, who slaps her for talking back to him. Kyung-hee makes sure that the CCTV can see the abuse before she incites him to beat her more.
Hyo-joo openly plots to meet her boyfriend in front of a wide-eyed Ki-ok, and after hanging up, Hyo-joo just warns Ki-ok to keep a closer eye on her own husband. Hyo-joo adds, “There’s no man you can trust in the world. And one’s husband is the one you should trust the least.”
Ah-jin recounts the confrontation over the accomplice video to Jin-hee. From Bok-ja’s reaction to Ah-jin’s claim that a second video exists, Ah-jin and Jin-hee guess that marriage was Bok-ja’s goal from the start, but the problem is that they don’t actually have a second video to use as evidence.
Frustrated, Ah-jin moves on to discuss her husband’s supposed affair. Jin-hee jokes that since Jae-suk wasn’t actually cycling in the morning, that must’ve been when he cheated. But they quickly realize that Jin-hee might actually be right, and Ah-jin worriedly wonders if he actually is cheating.
Heavily bruised after being beaten by her husband, Kyung-hee covers up with makeup as best as she can before she heads out.
Sung-hee unexpectedly shows up at Jae-suk’s office, claiming that she’s here to apologize for her behavior the day before. He sternly refuses her attempts to reconcile at first, but when she tearfully confesses her love to him, he backs down and returns her feelings.
Just then, Ah-jin shows up at Jae-suk’s office to check in on him. His mortified employee stalls for time and runs to tell Jae-suk before he gets caught with his pants down (literally).
The employee walks in to find Jae-suk and Sung-hee all over each other, but when they hear about Ah-jin’s arrival, they scramble around the room to try to find a place to hide for Sung-hee, who dives under Jae-suk’s desk.
When Ah-jin does enter the office to invite her husband for lunch, he acts like he still has work to do. She waits for him to finish up, but when he sits back down at his desk, Sung-hee has a front row view of his crotch and stifles a laugh. Clearly uncomfortable, Jae-suk decides he does want lunch and shuffles Ah-jin out of the room quickly.
At the Ahn Estate, Bok-ja watches Chairman Ahn walk (assisted by his walker) and tears up at his progress. Chairman Ahn’s daughter, Jae-hee, watches in the background and snickers to herself over how ridiculous Bok-ja is.
At lunch, Ah-jin questions Jae-suk about the stamina pills he got. She wants to know why everyone else thinks the reason Jae-suk got the pills is because he’s cheating, but he tells her that he was just joking.
He tells Ah-jin that she is the only woman for him, but she eyes him suspiciously, even as he promises to be more careful with both his words and actions in the future.
Jae-hee joins Bok-ja and Chairman Ahn at the table and asks to move back into the house. Chairman Ahn tells Jae-hee that she should just leave, but she whines that she’s completely broke since her husband spent all her money. She says that she wants her inheritance money now so that she can be free to divorce her husband.
Refusing to give her anything, the chairman states that Jae-hee can’t be trusted to not waste any money given to her. Bok-ja smirks to herself at Jae-hee’s misfortune, but quickly straightens her face when Jae-hee glances back at her.
Back at the food shop, the housekeepers gossip about Bok-ja and her hold over Chairman Ahn. Talk of Bok-ja potentially getting pregnant shocks a naïve Jin-hee, who asks if Chairman Ahn can even still do “that.”
The shop’s housekeepers share a laugh, but both Jin-hee and Mrs. Cho look dismayed at the thought.
Sung-hee eats lunch alone and cries to herself. Meanwhile, Hyo-joo is back to her hotel hookup pad to continue her affair, as the blackmailer hotel employee watches on from the security room.
An unknown man hesitantly approaches the gate of the Ahn estate, only to bolt away when Ah-jin spots him. She recognizes him as the canopy saboteur and quickly informs Chairman Ahn and Bok-ja that she caught the assailant’s face on the front gate’s CCTV.
The accomplice receives a call from Bok-ja soon thereafter. She scolds him for getting himself seen on camera and says that if he ever does get caught, he should just say that Joo-mi put him up to it, that way she’ll be blamed and thrown out of the house instead. If he says that, Bok-ja promises to open up a gym for him.
At the security company, Jae-hee and Ah-jin get a close-up of the assailant’s face. Ah-jin doesn’t immediately recognize him, but she feels like she’s seen him before…
Ji-hoo and Sung-hee’s art lesson gets interrupted when Jae-suk calls Sung-hee in the middle of the lesson. Sung-hee tells him not to bother coming, unaware that Ji-hoo is knowingly eavesdropping on their conversation.
When Sung-hee returns, Ji-hoo pointedly asks who she was on the phone with. Ji-hoo says that Sung-hee looked very happy with whoever she was talking to, leaving Sung-hee looking a bit shaken.
Jae-suk tries to call Jin-hee to tell her that he’ll pick Ji-hoo up from her lesson, but he can’t get a hold of her, so Jin-hee still heads to the park to pick up Ji-hoo.
Jae-suk arrives first, and Sung-hee leaves Ji-hoo to color on her own as Sung-hee joins Jae-suk on a nearby bench to chat. He tries to repair the damage from Ah-jin crashing their earlier meeting with some childish facial gags, which lightens Sung-hee’s mood.
In a series of intercutting scenes, we see Jin-hee arrive at the park, wher she immediately spots Jae-suk openly flirting with Sung-hee. At home, Ah-jin considers the footage of the assailant and tries to recall where she saw him before.
And as these scenes go on, Bok-ja narrates, “Every unknown event is fearful — a fear of what the truth may be. What will happen? Is it real, or is it fake?”
Meanwhile, Bok-ja paces outside the estate nervously as Jae-hee watches on from a distance before we cut to Ki-ok, who rereads the text message claiming her husband is cheating on her.
While Kyung-hee inspects a doctor’s note on the extent of her injuries, her husband is attacked from behind with a baseball bat and left as a bloody mess in the parking lot. Bok-ja’s narration concludes, “Who will do what? The moment when everything is unknown…”
Ah-jin’s eyes widen as she finally recognizes the accomplice as Chairman Ahn’s physical therapy trainer. Jin-hee calls at that exact moment, but Ah-jin tells her that they’ll talk later and rushes to find the accomplice.
Jae-suk drives Ji-hoo home from her art lesson, and she stares at him piercingly. Perturbed, he asks why she’s looking at him like that, and she forwardly answers back, “Dad, are you cheating?” He slams on the brakes in response.
Kyung-hee answers a detective’s question about her bruising. She lies that it was someone other than her husband, and theorizes that the same person might be the one who attacked her husband.
The skeptical detective studies Kyung-hee as she recounts her story, and when he says that he can just check the nearby CCTV footage to confirm, she sneers that there is none — she already checked.
Kyung-hee exits the station to find Ki-ok’s husband waiting for her. He helps her into his car as the suspicious detective observes them.
Kyung-hee heads to the security room of her apartment building and requests the elevator footage from when her husband beat her earlier, bribing the security guard to keep it a secret from the police.
Back in the car, Ki-ok’s husband asks Kyung-hee who assaulted her husband. Kyung-hee feigns surprise that Ki-ok’s husband wasn’t the attacker, but the look on her face when she turns away reveals that she knows more than she is letting on.
Ah-jin confronts the accomplice at the gym where he works, and he quickly admits to sabotaging the canopy. He tells Ah-jin that Joo-mi wanted Bok-ja out of the house at all costs, so Joo-mi told him to do it.
Aghast, Ah-jin prods further into the story, and he recalls that Joo-mi came to one of Chairman Ahn’s physical therapy sessions. The pieces do fit together, so Ah-jin can’t outright reject his story as nonsense, and Ah-jin slowly starts to accept his version of the story, crestfallen.
Jae-suk explains his relationship with the art teacher to Ji-hoo, claiming that it’s just a working relationship. Ji-hoo recounts the tale of Hansel and Gretel, and explains that the real bad person is the dad who threw his own children away just because the stepmother told him to.
Jae-suk chides the fictional dad for being a bad person, but Ji-hoo clarifies that the dad wasn’t always a bad person — it was the stepmother who turned him that way. Ji-hoo learned from the tale that men don’t follow the good women, and instead choose to follow the bad ones.
Jae-suk tries to retort that he is different from those men, but Ji-hoo cuts him off. She warns, “I won’t forgive anyone who hurts Mom, regardless of who it is. Even if it’s you.” This leaves a sheepish Jae-suk speechless.
Ah-jin, unnerved following the accomplice’s story, receives a call from Jae-hee, who wants to know what happened. Ah-jin hesitates to reveal the details and argues that they shouldn’t go to the cops either, since that would create bad press for the company.
At the estate, Jin-hee and the housekeeper discuss whether to reveal Jae-suk’s infidelity to Ah-jin, given how much she’s already dealing with. The housekeeper opposes the idea and argues that they don’t even know for sure that Jae-suk is actually cheating.
But Jin-hee notes several other odd occurrences with Jae-suk lately, like his willingness to volunteer to pick up Ji-hoo from art lessons. As all this circumstantial evidence piles up, they conclude that Jae-suk must be pretending to cycle so he can visit his mistress in the mornings.
Ah-jin arrives to interrupt them, but they decide not to reveal the affair to Ah-jin right now. Flustered, Ah-jin retreats to her room to deliberate on what to do next.
Just then, Jae-suk returns with Ji-hoo, and Jin-hee and the housekeeper exchange a dumbfounded look over his audacity.
Bok-ja meets discreetly with her accomplice and brings him up to speed on how they will operate in the future — he can never call her first, and she’ll call him from Joo-mi’s phone to cover their tracks. She reiterates her warning for him not to call her before leaving to visit her hometown.
The rest of the Ahn family gathers for dinner, and Chairman Ahn reveals that he and Bok-ja will get married this weekend, so she went to see her relatives before the wedding.
While the rest of his children talk agitatedly, Ah-jin gives Chairman Ahn her blessing to the bewilderment of the rest of the table. Chairman Ahn chuckles in appreciation of Ah-jin’s consent.
Troubled over her thoughts about Jae-suk’s affair, Jin-hee starts to report her suspicions about Jae-suk, but Ah-jin stops her right away. Ah-jin knows what Jin-hee is about to say but doesn’t want to hear that news from somebody else and says that she will look into it herself. Jin-hee nods in understanding and tells Ah-jin to stay strong.
Ah-jin realizes that this is what Jin-hee was hiding earlier, and thanks Jin-hee for hesitating. Ah-jin knows Jin-hee’s hesitation was out of consideration for her feelings, which she’s grateful for.
In the morning, Jae-suk awakens early to meet his mistress, but Ah-jin opens her eyes immediately after. She follows in her car as Jae-suk cycles to a nearby bike rack and quickly hails a taxi.
She follows the taxi for a while, but suddenly pulls over, distraught. The taxi escapes and Ah-jin turns the car around to return home, unwilling to find out where exactly her husband is going.
Bok-ja strolls through her hometown and runs into an old friend, who refers to Bok-ja as Cho-hee. They catch up over a drink, and Bok-ja reveals that she searched for her friend for a long time, claiming that she can’t trust anyone but her.
Bok-ja’s friend is the only person who knew Bok-ja was her real name — Cho-hee was an alias she used to use. Bok-ja tells her that the two of them should see each other more often now, which makes her friend smile.
At the same time, Ah-jin sits in front of her father’s record player and puts on one of his records. Overwhelmed, she breaks down in tears as she calls out for her father.
Oof. This hour really was especially brutal for Ah-jin. Her once stable life is being dragged out from under her. She finally grasped her husband’s affair, her father-in-law’s plans to get married against her wishes, and even her suspicions about Bok-ja seem to have been disproved now that the accomplice named Joo-mi as his co-conspirator. Everything is happening at once for Ah-jin, and it’s hitting her like a ton of bricks, so it’s no wonder that she ended up completely beaten down by the end of the episode.
Luckily for her, she has a few supportive people around her who will hopefully be able to keep her on her feet. Both Ki-ok and Jin-hee shine in their concern for Ah-jin here, but it may be Ki-ho, who Ah-jin seems willing to confide an awful lot of information to, who may be the most help to her. He seems like the only male here who is grounded enough to be a bastion of support when Ah-jin needs it most, and I’m eager to see their relationship develop more as Ah-jin struggles to pick herself up again.
This show seems to be settling more into the serious side, which I can’t say I’m complaining about. I love that it’s willing to go to some dark places, like Kyung-hee’s abusive relationship, which may be stomach-churning to watch, but provides some real stakes to some of these adulterous side plots beyond, “I’m a rich guy, so I can cheat on my wife and get away with it.”
I just wish I could take Jae-suk a little more seriously. He is such a corny, childish weirdo that he feels completely out of place compared to the rest of this cast. Even the actual child on the show is constantly chastising him for being too childish.
Speaking of which, Ji-hoo’s defense of her mother was so touching. She knows exactly what her father is doing with Sung-hee, and she knows that relationship will tear their family apart, but she handled it with such grace and class. She gently scolded her father for his actions while simultaneously cautioning him that she will never forgive him if he hurts Ah-jin in the process. A young daughter standing up to her father to defend her mother’s pride is such a poignant moment, and if Jae-suk is worth his salt as a father, he should take his daughter’s words to heart.
We’re starting to dig more into Bok-ja’s past, but I’m still wondering what drove her to become the sociopathic gold digger we see now. How heartbreaking is her story? We know so little about her character right now relative to everyone else. Perhaps that veil of mystery is why she is so intriguing, but based on the excellent voiceovers Bok-ja often provides as narration, it’s clear that there is a wealth of experience hidden beneath the surface of her character, and I need to know more to satiate my curiosity. But this show seems content to mete out her backstory in the tiniest increments possible.
For me though, Bok-ja remains the star of the show. Her plans are coming to fruition faster than even she probably expected. Even when something goes wrong, like her accomplice stupidly showing up at the estate to look for her, she turns it into a positive, implicating Joo-mi and convincing Ah-jin of her own innocence in the process. Bok-ja continues to manipulate the entire family with ease by always being one step ahead of them, leaving them powerless to stop her. With Ah-jin reeling at the moment, can anything slow down Bok-ja’s momentum, or will her ascension continue unabated until drastic action needs to be taken?
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