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While You Were Sleeping: Episodes 9-10

Now there’s a girl who wears her crush on her face and doesn’t care who sees it. I’m mostly rooting for this romance because she’s so smitten, but once in a while, it’s nice to get some signals that she’s not in it alone. Well, we may have known that, but it’s only fair that she gets a clue.

 

 
EPISODE 9: “Don’t Believe Her”

Hong-joo sleeps fitfully as she has a dream: She’s lying in a field wearing a broadcast station jacket, looking dead or unconscious as the rain falls. She narrates that she’s having that dream again—it hasn’t happened yet, but it feels like she’s already in that time.

As Hong-joo wakes up covered in sweat, she continues in voiceover, “A dream that feels like I’m still dreaming when I wake up. A nightmarish night, like morning will never come.”

She narrates that the only thing that wakes her from this nightmare is the sound of her mother cooking breakfast, telling her that night has gone and dreams have hidden behind the future. “To me, my mom is the morning that wakes me from the night,” she says.

On cue, Mom comes into Hong-joo’s room to open the curtains and nag her about the state of her room, and Hong-joo mouths all the words along with her and then hugs her tightly. Right away Mom guesses that she had “that dream” again and comforts her quietly.

As Jae-chan gets ready for work, he thinks back to the dream kiss and shakes his head, calling himself crazy. Little bro Seung-won asks if he’s leaving so early to meet someone, and Jae-chan says it’s to avoid meeting someone.

Just as Seung-won asks who the someone is, the doorbell rings with a food delivery from Hong-joo’s house. Jae-chan flails and tries to send Seung-won out to the door, insisting that he can’t do it because he looks too good right now, which would lead to a misunderstanding. Pffft.

Seung-won ignores his crazy talk and Jae-chan is forced to go out, but he breathes a sigh of relief when it’s Mom outside, not Hong-joo. She hands him a whole tub of fish she’s prepared for easy breakfast cooking, and he’s so smiley about her not being Hong-joo that she assumes he loves mackerel.

But when he gets to his usual coffee shop, the Cupid Barista says his coffee’s already been ordered. She says that he and Hong-joo have been missing each other for days, so she helpfully told Hong-joo to come earlier. Hee.

Jae-chan hides out of sight as Hong-joo takes her usual seat by the window, and he sits there watching her crane her neck and get excited every time she thinks she sees him approach.

He finally goes over there and asks if she’s his stalker and has nothing better to do, and why she isn’t going back to work. She says she’d rather look at his face than return to work, and he quips that she just doesn’t want to work.

Hong-joo turns pensive at that and asks seriously whether she should go back. She says it’s fifty-fifty, and leaves it up to Jae-chan to decide for her. He just asks if being a reporter is that difficult that she doesn’t want to return, but she says it’s because she wants to return that much.

When Jae-chan walks into work, Yoo-bum locks step with him and says he’s looking good. Jae-chan: “I was born that way.” Lol. Yoo-bum asks if he’s dating, and Jae-chan says he is… “with my cases.”

Yoo-bum insists that Jae-chan ride the crammed elevator, and then in front of everyone he purposely asks with double meaning, “How far have you gone? When it was me, I was fast—in just one month…” Jae-chan cuts him off, but Yoo-bum finishes by saying that he was awarded for being a top prosecutor in his first month.

He makes a big show of saying that Jae-chan must’ve misunderstood, only to out Hong-joo’s name in front of everyone and brag that he was faster with her too. Ugh, you are disgusting.

After Yoo-bum gets off the elevator, everyone starts whispering that it must be true that Jae-chan stole Yoo-bum’s girlfriend, and he awkwardly tells them that he can hear everything. They advise him to defend himself now, hoping to get more information out of him, but Jae-chan refuses to say anything about it.

He does smile to himself when they start talking about how Hong-joo is the daughter of the samgyupsal restaurant owner and rumored to be very pretty and smart. Chief Choi asks if she’s like Hee-min, who flips her hair in delight at the very back of the elevator, where no one can see her.

But the women say that Hong-joo is on a different level beauty-wise, and Hee-min immediately deflates. They get so carried away that they declare Hong-joo an untouchable femme fatale, and Jae-chan chokes on his morning coffee.

Cut to: Hong-joo holding up a display of her chicken bones left over from last night’s dinner, which she’s reconstructed in skeleton form to show the chicken shop owner (cameo by Kang Ki-young) that her chicken was clearly missing a leg.

She waves her stack of coupons and asks why she’s never gotten a whole chicken’s worth when she orders a chicken, accusing him of using leftover parts to create an additional chicken somewhere. She whips out her phone to say that she has more evidence, like she’s on some kind of investigative special report. Mom finds her like this and apologizes to the chicken shop owner and drags Hong-joo out by the ear.

At their own restaurant, Hong-joo recognizes that she’s wasting her talents on investigating chicken corruption, lol, and Mom confronts her angrily about the reinstatement form she found on Hong-joo’s desk.

Hong-joo says quietly that she’s returning to work, and Mom protests that Hong-joo quit because she dreamt of dying on the job and promised to just work with her at the restaurant. Hong-joo says that the future could change, pointing out that Jae-chan changed things and saved them.

Mom asks if Jae-chan promised to protect her, and Hong-joo says no, but asks if he could change the future, why can’t she? Hong-joo asks why Mom can’t believe in her as much as Jae-chan, but Mom argues that she’s far less trustworthy than Jae-chan, and weaker, and worrisome… and cherished. Aw, Mom.

Mom repeats Hong-joo’s words back to her: “You’re all I have in this world, so don’t leave me alone.” Hong-joo agrees, and Mom hugs her in relief.

Officer Woo-tak and his partner interrupt when they stop in for lunch, and Mom just goes, “Again?”

At broadcast station SBC, the news desk team leader asks Reporter Bong—the one who interviewed the pianist and testified against her father—if Hong-joo is returning to work next week as originally scheduled.

Reporter Bong is her direct superior, but he has no idea, and the team leader complains that they need to know because they’re getting new team jackets made. Uh-oh, are they blue?

At the prosecutor’s office, the staff meeting runs long because one of Jae-chan’s sunbaes wants to pursue a drunk driving case involving a drunk man who insisted that his drunk friend drive them home, which she argues is partially his fault. But the boss shoots it down. When it’s finally time for lunch, Hee-min finagles the boss into choosing Hong-joo’s samgyupsal restaurant, to Jae-chan’s ire.

As Woo-tak finishes his lunch, he sums up what he’s gathered so far about their dreams—that Hong-joo has dreams about random people, Jae-chan has dreams about her, and he has dreams about Jae-chan. He thinks there’s a reason for that, considering it like a puzzle where Hong-joo is Patient Zero of a contagion.

She frowns at that, but he says it’s just a metaphor and that having these dreams is awesome. She thinks she sold her country in a past life to get this ability, but he thinks it’s just the opposite, since they could potentially stop terror attacks and wars. He suggests that the three of them each learn a different foreign language for just such a case. Ha.

Mom smiles and gives the cop another point in her notebook, which puts him neck and neck with Jae-chan.

Hong-joo asks if he’d feel the same about these dreams if he dreamt that he would die, and asks if he’d quit his job if he knew he’d die at work. Woo-tak says no, pointing out that he worked too hard to become a cop, and insists that he would just change the future. He says with such assurance, “It can be changed,” that Hong-joo starts to believe it too.

Suddenly Mom yells at him to get out, shocking him as she pushes him out the door and snaps at him not to call her “mother.” Woo-tak wonders what he did wrong, but his partner thinks it’s his fault for asking for a cash receipt, heh. Inside, Mom scratches Woo-tak off her suitor scorecard in retaliation.

Jae-chan sees Woo-tak leaving just as he arrives with the prosecutors, and inside, Hee-min loudly asks if that’s the famous femme fatale Nam Hong-joo and asks for free soda. This time the group prayer devolves into a four-way debate on the drunk driving case, while Jae-chan awkwardly sets out silverware on the side.

The argument gets so heated that the prayer circle breaks, and they decide to put the case to a vote. Jae-chan is the split but he doesn’t vote either way, saying that he sees both arguments and needs more information before deciding.

Hee-min argues that it’s cowardly not to vote because he’s too concerned with what his superiors will think of him, and looks to Hong-joo for affirmation. Hong-joo doesn’t know why she’s getting dragged into this, but she argues that first of all, it doesn’t seem right to make civil servants pray.

Hee-min argues that the four of them are Christians, and Hong-joo says that only twenty percent of the population is Christian, making the probability of this foursome less likely than the odds of seeing a double rainbow. Thus, she argues, it’s likely that someone here is hiding his or her faith because of the boss (as Prosecutor Lee hides a Buddhist bracelet under his cuff), and that someone who doesn’t pray in this situation is extremely firm in his beliefs.

She looks at Jae-chan and says that she doesn’t think he’s cowardly or concerned about what others think of him at all, and he smiles at her in appreciation. Prosecutor Lee is impressed with her, and Mom looks at her thoughtfully.

The chief prosecutor thinks Hong-joo’s voice sounds familiar, but it’s not until they get back to work that he remembers her as the dogged reporter who always pushed her way to the front of the press line and broke that story about a prosecutor sexually harassing junior employees. They all wonder why a reporter that good would have quit to work in a restaurant.

Hong-joo sees her sunbae on the news and is so distracted with thoughts of other people hard at work that she accidentally slices her finger. Mom runs over and Hong-joo starts to cry, but she covers it up by blaming it on the onions and heads outside.

She ends up walking all the way to the SBC building, but she stands across the street and can’t manage to cross it.

 
EPISODE 10

The chicken shop owner does exactly as Hong-joo suspected, and takes a piece of chicken away before sending an order out for delivery. Hong-joo happens to spot the owner in the alley out back, where he feeds the chicken to a litter of stray kittens.

Hong-joo sighs to realize that’s what he’s been doing all this time, but she decides not to bother confronting him about it.

At home, Hong-joo looks up at her dream notes and sees one that’s coming up soon. In her dream, we see a boy surprising a girl with balloons and sparklers on a college campus surrounded by all their friends. But the mix of sparklers and spray bottles causes a fire to ignite, and the girl screams as she’s engulfed in flames.

At the same time, Jae-chan has a dream about Hong-joo on that very college campus, being chased down by a group of boys, and crying out in pain as they push her to the ground.

In the morning, Jae-chan and the other prosecutors eavesdrop as Prosecutor Sohn questions the drunk passenger she wants to prosecute. He argues that he wasn’t the driver, but she says he gave his drunk friend the keys, and even directed him towards streets where they wouldn’t be stopped for breathalyzer tests. A little girl is badly injured and her parents died in the accident they caused, but the man claims that he has no responsibility since all he did was get in the car.

Jae-chan asks Prosecutor Lee to swap on-call days with him because he has to be somewhere important tonight, but even offering to take his holiday shifts doesn’t work to convince him. Finally he blurts, “Blind date!” and Prosecutor Lee agrees instantly with a handshake.

Woo-tak dozes off in his patrol car, and he dreams of the same group of college boys running down the street. But in his dream, they’re chasing both Hong-joo and Jae-chan. Jae-chan fights them, but they outnumber him and he’s soon overtaken. Hong-joo lets out a piercing scream, and Woo-tak wakes up.

His partner wants to stop for dinner, but Woo-tak suggests going to the university to patrol first, worried about his dream.

Hong-joo heads out with a fire extinguisher in hand and tells Mom that she’s going to save someone from her dream. She asks Mom to reconsider her returning to work if she succeeds in changing the future, and sets off in good spirits.

Hong-joo arrives on campus just in time to see the proposal event begin just like in her dream. The boy and his friends are all excited, but the girl is decidedly not, and seems distraught.

The spray bottles get dangerously close to the sparklers, and that’s Hong-joo’s cue to unleash her fire extinguisher and douse them all. The girl expresses her annoyance and stomps off, and Hong-joo is so proud of herself that she doesn’t notice how pissed off the boys are that she ruined the whole event.

She takes off running and they chase her all over campus, until Jae-chan yanks her behind some bushes to hide. She asks how he’s here, but he just shushes her and holds her head down to keep her hidden.

He even takes her hand to do some more running, which makes her smile. They nearly run right into the group, but Jae-chan uses a track team as cover and they run alongside them until the coast is clear.

Hong-joo tells Jae-chan about her dream and how she rescued the girl, who also happens to be the Cupid Barista at the coffee shop they go to every day.

Hong-joo asks teasingly if Jae-chan has been dreaming about her often, but he ignores that and thanks her for taking his side the other day in front of his coworkers. She says she was just stating facts, not taking his side, and he smiles at that.

She asks what he’s decided about the drunk passenger case, and he says he’s voted to prosecute. She asks why, when all the man did was hand over his keys, but Jae-chan says it’s because “that’s all” he did—it was minor, but that minor act cost lives, and he could’ve just as easily chosen to stop his friend and prevented it.

Hong-joo says he’s changed. “Because of someone,” he replies.

The college boys spot them from across the street and start over in their direction, when Woo-tak pulls up in front of them and charges them with jaywalking. HA.

Hong-joo and Jae-chan are none the wiser, and Woo-tak just smiles at them from afar.

Cupid Barista, the girl who was supposed to receive the proposal, feels a strange burning sensation on her arm, even though nothing happened to her. (Whaaat, now there are phantom pains from alternate timelines…?)

She gets a call that sends her running to the hospital, where she finds her oppa—the chicken shop owner—crying over their brother’s body in the morgue.

Prosecutor Lee is there with Chief Choi, since he’s the on-call prosecutor tonight, and when he goes over to begin an autopsy, Chicken Oppa wails that it isn’t necessary because he was the driver and he killed his own brother. The prosecutors note that he doesn’t seem to have too many injuries from the accident, but they don’t argue.

Hong-joo comes home and tells Mom that she saved someone tonight, but Mom argues that she never agreed to let her go back to work. Hong-joo tells her that she used to love writing in her diary every day, and would fill it with pages and pages no matter how tired she was. But lately she only ever writes one thing every day: “Same as yesterday.”

Hong-joo says her diary entries from the last year combined are shorter than one day’s entry from a year ago. “I just want today to be a little better than yesterday, rather than throwing it away because I’m afraid of my dreams,” she says.

Mom still doesn’t like the idea of her returning to work, but Hong-joo argues that she’s able to change the future after meeting Jae-chan and Woo-tak. She says, “I learned that there’s one sure thing in my life—that nothing is determined for sure.” Hong-joo promises not to go back to work without Mom’s permission though, which seems to weigh on Mom.

Breakfast is another sad affair at Woo-tak’s house, where the milk is chunky and the toast is burnt. He looks at Robin’s dog food jealously and heads out with a sigh.

Jae-chan wakes up to his house filled with smoke, with Seung-won burning the fish while bragging on the phone to So-yoon that he’s an awesome cook. Jae-chan shouts loudly into the phone, “So-yoon-ah! It’s all lies! Do a video call!” Teehee.

Seung-won chases him out of the kitchen and Jae-chan runs away screaming, “It’s a fire! FIIIIIIRE!”

So that’s how both Woo-tak and Jae-chan end up eating sandwiches for breakfast (heh, this writer did always have good PPL game). Woo-tak is busy studying his dream notes, and he tells Jae-chan that on the night of the Valentine’s Day accident, he felt himself get hit and nearly die, though he can’t really explain why. He asks if Jae-chan has ever felt anything like that before.

Jae-chan says he has, once. He was young and nearly drowned, but someone saved him. In flashback, we see that it was young Hong-joo who’d resuscitated him.

He says that he survived, but he felt like he’d sunk and died in the water, and that feeling was very real.

Woo-tak snaps his fingers and asks if it’s possible that Hong-joo was the person who saved his life, because this fits his theory. He says that when Jae-chan saved his life, he was extremely grateful and wanted to return the favor somehow, and then he began to have dreams about Jae-chan’s future.

He argues that if Jae-chan dreams about Hong-joo’s future, then perhaps she’s the one who saved his life. Excellent deduction, Batman!

Jae-chan scoffs and says there’s no way, because the kid who saved his life was a boy, a really strong boy who liked baseball.

That night, Jae-chan holds the desiccated mackerel over the trash and debates whether it counts as food waste or not, and is embarrassed when Mom sees and asks if that’s the fish she gave them. She invites the boys to eat breakfasts at her house from now on, and when Jae-chan politely declines, she says it’s because she wants to ask for a favor.

She tells him that the reason Hong-joo took a break from work was because she dreamt of dying on the job as a reporter, and Mom forced her to quit immediately. She says that she should’ve stopped Hong-joo till the end, but she couldn’t because she felt too bad for her, not being able to do what she wants in life.

In Hong-joo’s room, she’s near tears when she discovers that Mom has laid out her work clothes, freshly cleaned and pressed. Awww.

Mom asks what kind of food Jae-chan likes, promising to feed him and his brother every morning. He asks why, and she says she wants to repay him for saving her daughter… and then asks him to protect her if anything bad happens.

Jae-chan returns to his house deep in thought, remembering his conversation with Hong-joo about her job. He narrates using Hong-joo’s words from earlier, “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I wanted to, but I was scared.”

In the morning, he finds Hong-joo checking out her reflection in the bus stop mirror, dressed for work and pumping herself up to face the day. He narrates, “Face are peculiar. You can see a person’s mood, thoughts, and feelings in some faces like a mirror, while others can hide their thoughts and feelings behind a face like a mask.”

He follows her on the bus from a distance and watches as Hong-joo stands across the street from the station, unable to work up the courage to cross it.

Jae-chan narrates that there comes a moment when you can see the line between a mirror and a mask, as we watch Chicken Oppa and his sister mourn their brother’s death. They cry as he’s cremated, but then on close observation, Chicken Oppa is laughing through his tears.

Cut to: the alley behind the chicken shop, lined with dead kittens. Noooo, not the kittens!

Jae-chan narrates, “That moment when the feelings you didn’t want the world to see show through. When you come to face that moment, don’t close your eyes.” He watches as Hong-joo misses a walk signal, and another.

She shuts her eyes to work up the nerve to cross, when Jae-chan takes her hand in his. She’s surprised to see him, and without a word, he just leads her across the street.

Hong-joo returns to her department and everyone welcomes her brightly. Bong sunbae hardly looks up from his pile of paper shreds (he always seems to have a large pile of tiny somethings), but points to the new team jacket that’s waiting on her desk.

Hong-joo picks it up and freezes to recognize it as the blue jacket she’s wearing in her dream.

She thinks back to earlier after Jae-chan took her across the street. He’d offered to take her all the way inside too, and she warned that she would misunderstand and get clingy and ask him to drop her off all the time and protect her.

But he shocked her with his answer: “Let’s try that then. Cling and ask me to drop you off and to protect you. I will. If that makes you feel safe, I will.” Tears pooled instantly and she’d complained that it seemed real. Flustered, Jae-chan said he meant it, and Hong-joo said she was crying because it was what she wanted to hear so badly.

She grabbed his tie to dab at her streaky makeup, and when he complained, she pointed out that he said he’d protect her, heh.

She shuffled over to him and tried cautiously leaning against his chest, and was surprised when he didn’t avoid her. He even cracked a tiny smile while she wasn’t looking, and slowly reached his arms around her and patted her on the back.

At her desk, Hong-joo finds the courage to pick up her new jacket and even says that she’s happy with it.

Jae-chan stands outside the SBC building for a while, looking at the mark she left on his tie and smiling up in her direction.

 
COMMENTS

It almost seemed too easy for Jae-chan to suddenly decide not to be afraid of having someone depend on him, when it was so overwhelming to him before. Obviously I’m happy about the outcome, since we knew he’d end up being that person for Hong-joo anyway, despite his fears. I just expected a more involved process to push him in that direction. Maybe it’s as simple as him seeing her fears, which outweighed his own.

In that sense, both Jae-chan and Mom put aside some huge fears for Hong-joo’s sake today, and I’m glad that her professional life took precedent for once and that we got to see her as a smart, passionate reporter who was good at her job. In fact, she seems to be better at her job than Jae-chan is at his, and I’m looking forward to this new chapter that focuses on her investigative reporting.

Woo-tak’s theory about the dream ability as a chance to repay a debt for saving a life is a pretty good one, and seems to be the best explanation so far. It doesn’t explain Hong-joo’s original ability or why she dreams of random people, but it does explain why Jae-chan dreams of Hong-joo and Woo-tak dreams of Jae-chan. At least life-saving is a better reason for the supernatural connection, which seemed flimsy until we learned that Hong-joo did save Jae-chan in their childhood. (Though really, he thought she was a boy?) We should probably just be glad that one of them cares to find out why this is happening to them in the first place.

The phantom pain and lingering feeling that you died is frightening, because it makes me think that the other timeline exists somewhere in an alternate reality. I think it’s just supposed to be a ripple effect of sorts, but maybe it’s the first symptom of contagion, followed by dream visions? I guess we’ll know if Cupid Barista suddenly starts having dreams too.

My favorite part of this story is the way that the core characters are starting to become a little family. The constant focus on breakfast and how the three main characters’ breakfasts always get compared just makes me wish for the day that Mom gets to feed all the kids and Robin the dog too. But that might be hoping for too much, and I’ll be satisfied if Jae-chan takes Mom up on her offer to come over every morning. In the end, it was probably Mom’s sincerity that got through to Jae-chan and made him reach out to Hong-joo. Not because she asked him to, but because hearing Hong-joo’s fears made him want to be there for her, and that desire overcame any other feeling he had. I thought Hong-joo’s reaction was hilarious—emotional, but almost upset that he said all the right things and fulfilled her fantasy, like it was too good to be true. I hope it’s not. It had better not be!

 
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