I’m Not a Robot: 31-32 (Final)
Come ye all and enter into the kingdom of puppyness, where from beginning to end, it’s been worth every minute. Moving, funny, painful and sweet, its finished picture is a deft and lovely expression of human relationships—of friends, lovers, brothers, confidants, and even enemies—and how they come to change both themselves and each other. For the last time, everyone, let’s play!
Episode 31: “A new beginning”
Baek-gyun gives Min-kyu the video that Aji-3 recorded Martin confessing to the murder of Chairman Park, which is evidence that Chairman Hwang didn’t do it. He suggests he go along to the emergency board meeting with Min-kyu, but Min-kyu says that won’t solve their problem—he’s going to make it so that his illness can never be used against him again.
Yoo-chul is parked at Min-kyu’s gates. He starts when Butler Sung knocks on the window and asks him inside. Over tea and cakes, Butler Sung reminisces warmly about the boys’ childhood.
Yoo-chul guesses that he must have known about Min-kyu’s illness, but he’s shocked to learn that it started fifteen years ago—most likely because he was deeply hurt by people after his parents died, Butler Sung thinks.
Yoo-chul thinks back to how Min-kyu had run screaming from him after signing the papers that day. Later, little Yoo-chul searched through his father’s desk and discovered that the papers were for claiming Min-kyu’s assets.
Butler Sung tells him that since that day, Min-kyu sequestered himself in his house, unable to have human contact, just enduring the pain and loneliness. “More than that, nobody came to seek him out. Why didn’t you seek him out then?” he asks Yoo-chul.
“Because I was sorry,” Yoo-chul replies quietly. Butler Sung reproaches the younger man, telling him that if he’s sorry, he has to say so.
Ri-el meets Yoo-chul a little later. “Min-kyu developing that illness… it was because of me,” he tells her in remorse. He says he acted like the victim to justify the things he and his father did against him.
Ri-el puts a comforting hand on his arm and tells him that it’s not too late for them to repair their friendship; Min-kyu will understand.
Min-kyu’s heart lamp lights up, rousing him from his thoughts. Jia’s busy worrying about his press conference the next day when Min-kyu calls her to say he’s outside. Joining him in his car, she asks if he’s okay.
Min-kyu puts a hand on her head and invokes Friend Mode. My faaaace is breaking from grinning! Jia tosses her head back and threatens to dispatch all his enemies. Laughing, Min-kyu tells her seriously that out of aaalll the women he knows, she’s the cutest and prettiest.
Of course, Jia points out that he doesn’t really know any other women (and he’d better not try). Hehehehe. She wants to be promoted back to the Pretty Squad, but Min-kyu refuses, explaining that she’s a level up: “Onion.” Aww, it’s her special level because she’s always revealing new layers, he teases.
Rejuvenated, Min-kyu thinks he can win his fight tomorrow, and turns down Jia’s offer to come along for moral support. “Since wherever I am, I know you’re always by my side,” he says. Jia motions for a kiss, and Min-kyu immediately obliges.
“Go fight well and come back, friend,” Jia says, holding his hand. “I’ll fight well and come back, friend,” Min-kyu replies with a growing smile.
At the emergency board meeting the next day, Yoo-chul interrupts with the news of Min-kyu’s press conference, and suggests they watch it before proceeding.
We catch up to the end of the previous episode now, as Min-kyu faces a sea of reporters. From the back of the room, Jia waves at him encouragingly, until the image of her dissolves. Gaining courage, Min-kyu introduces himself to the press as a human allergy patient.
He explains his condition, describing how he always wore gloves and carried a baton. He says with deep appreciation that that he was able to carry out his duties thanks to Jin-bae, who’s onstage with him. Surprised by the attention, Jin-bae bows in acknowledgement.
Min-kyu tells them that he’s on the road to recovery. “Suddenly one day, a robot appeared in my life. I became friends with that robot,” he says.
At the lab, Jia and the Santa Maria team listen to him describe how at times the robot was a robot, and at times human, and how through inputting his feelings, this miracle happened. Min-kyu attributes his miracle to the work of Baek-gyun and his team, and says that from now on, KM Group will invest heavily in AI robotics development.
The room explodes with questions, and Min-kyu and Jin-bae share a private smile as reporters rapidly type headlines about a robot that comprehends human feelings.
The KM board members exclaim to see their stocks shoot up. Director Yoon calls the meeting back to order and raises Min-kyu’s dismissal. Yoo-chul interrupts again to oppose, saying that he thinks Min-kyu is the kind of leader the company needs.
Ri-el, too, raises her hand and voices support for Min-kyu’s leadership, to her father’s dismay. She and Yoo-chul smile at each other across the boardroom. Aw.
Min-kyu meets Ri-el and Yoo-chul in the now-empty boardroom. Ri-el tells him that Yoo-chul is to thank for winning the other directors. She leaves them to talk things out, and gives Yoo-chul an encouraging nod.
After a small silence, Yoo-chul says that he knew his father tried to cheat Min-kyu but blocked the knowledge out. That way, he could believe that his father meant well, he says, but admits now that he was cowardly and foolish.
“Though it’s so late, I’m sorry, Kim Min-kyu,” he says. Unable to meet Yoo-chul’s eyes, Min-kyu tells him that they’ve found evidence that Martin was the one who killed Chairman Park. He advises Yoo-chul to convince his father to come clean first to mitigate his sentence.
Grateful, Yoo-chul thanks him. As he leaves, Min-kyu stands in his way. Pulling off his glove, he holds out a hand to his old friend, saying with a smile that he somehow thinks it’ll be fine now.
The touch is tentative at first, but as his condition remains normal, Min-kyu clasps his friend’s hand firmly. Gah, just kill me now with your patched-up bromance and shy smiles.
Min-kyu’s so thrilled when Jia suggests over the phone that they meet up at the place they went the day it snowed that he kisses the phone in farewell… and nearly jumps out of his skin when sees Jin-bae standing right there. He’s been right there for quite sometime, since apparently Min-kyu didn’t hear him knock. Awkward.
Jin-bae asks Min-kyu to accept his resignation, now that everything’s been taken care of. Min-kyu tries to change his mind but Jin-bae remains firm about his decision.
Pi takes Baek-gyun out to go clothes-shopping so he can look smart for media interviews (Baek-gyun: “I can just wear what I’ve got!”). But when Pi starts talking about Min-kyu’s charisma and competence, he gets pouty and asks, “What about me?”
He gets more pouty when Pi says she’s used to him and there’s nothing left to find out. Amused, she pauses. “Shall we date?” she asks him with a smile. It throws him completely, but he starts to grin. “It’s cold, let’s go,” he says, taking her hand.
Ri-el comes home to her father drinking the hard liquor. She apologizes for not being the daughter he wanted. “In exchange, I’ll be happy, since what you really want deep in your heart is my happiness. I believe that,” she says.
That night, Min-kyu tells Jia how nervous he was at the press conference, until he imagined her there. He slips their joined hands into his pocket, and also tells her about making up with Yoo-chul. “And I was first to offer to shake hands,” he says proudly.
Jia teases him to look after he well since she’s his treasure, and he wraps her up in his scarf. “What do you want to do today? I’ll do everything you tell me,” Min-kyu promises.
Jia takes him to an arcade. His eyes pop and he wonders if he made one of these at home, would Jia come every day? Haha. Of course, Jia trounces him in just about everything and laughs at his haplessness. This girl is competitive, lol, I think Min-kyu’s a little scared. It’s too late, friend!
He totally owns the basketball simulator at least, and refuses to relinquish his victory, offering to buy dinner instead. Dinner turns out to pojangmacha fish cakes, which Min-kyu eyes suspiciously before taking a delicate nibble.
He asks Jia what kind of personality her brother has, and she promptly replies he’s the type who when he says “no,” it stays “no.” Min-kyu nearly chokes in dismay. He tells her that Jin-bae quit his job, and it’s Jia’s turn to be dismayed.
He picks the Santa Maria team’s brains about it afterwards, and Baek-gyun asks if he did anything wrong to Jin-bae. “Uhhh… in the past, a little bit…actuallyalot,” he confesses in a rush, “But not recently.”
He sinks lower and lower into his seat while Baek-gyun jokes that they seem to be embarking on Season 2 of Making Min-kyu Human. Whyyy would you tease something you’re not giving?! Ssan-ip snickers that Jin-bae must not like him as Jia’s boyfriend. Nooo, that’s not true!
Dispirited, Min-kyu heads to his room, but finds Baek-gyun trailing wordlessly behind him. Baek-gyun finally asks where the kids go to date these days. When Min-kyu realizes why he’s asking, he yells in excitement.
Baek-gyun shushes him, but a laughing Min-kyu tells him that they really suit each other. His genuine happiness earns him a smile from Baek-gyun, and Min-kyu offers to tell him about the cool place he went to today. Aww.
Meanwhile at the Jo house, Hong-joo finds out that Jin-bae quit, and blows about eight fuses, ha. She demands that he retract his resignation, and Jin-bae quickly accedes. Sweet Hong-joo sure is frightful when roused, huh.
Yoo-chul visits his dad in jail and urges him to confess everything first, but Dad refuses, declaring that he’s not finished yet. “Please accept reality, Father, I beg you,” Yoo-chul pleads.
Jia tells Sun-hye about her plan to secure crowdfunding for her future ventures, and asks to rent out a corner of her shop. Sun-hye asks for a share of her profits instead, and the girls seal it with a cheer before Sun-hye runs out on a date.
Jin-bae and Min-kyu meet again, Min-kyu tapping his fingers nervously. He tells Jin-bae that he’s fine now, and grabs his hands to prove just how fine he is… before withdrawing in embarrassment. Always stay weird, Min-kyu!
Jin-bae mentions his resignation letter, and eager to do right, Min-kyu says he’ll process it right away. Poor Jin-bae can’t say a word, and Min-kyu guesses he must be uncomfortable because of Jia.
Afterwards, Min-kyu lies in a puddle of his own moping and calls Jia, who tells him she’s busy working right now. “Is work more important or am I more important?” he asks her. Hey, is that a trick question? Laughing, she promises to call him after she finishes.
Of course you couldn’t wait, you muppet. Min-kyu staggers into the coffee shop and flops into the seat opposite Jia. He tells her to keep working, “I’m just going to watch you,” he says, and proceeds to stare at her like a forlorn puppy.
Laughing, she stops her work and asks what’s wrong. He perks up immediately but as soon as he mentions Jin-bae, Jia exclaims that he was meant to take back his resignation. Min-kyu gasps that he accepted it, and they both groan.
“This won’t do,” she says, “Come to my house.”
Jia tells Min-kyu that her brother will never ask for his resignation back now, so it’s up to Min-kyu return it in front of Hong-joo, where it will be impossible for him to say no.
Min-kyu thinks it’s a great idea, and lights up at the possibility of seeing Jia’s room.
Sun-hye and Hok-tal are on a movie date (Like For Likes) and a kiss scene comes. They inch closer for a kiss of their own… and are assailed by popcorn-missiles from above, where Ssan-ip glares at them.
Baek-gyun takes Pi to the arcade. She’s wary at first, but suggests they add some stakes—winner buys a movie. It wouldn’t be fair to make the loser buy, she explains, and vows to win.
Pi proves herself a mean sharpshooter, but Baek-gyun just misses getting a plushie from the claw-machine. Wait, what? He missed getting one, but they walk away with like twenty they’ve already won!
On the other date, Ssan-ip watches Sun-hye and Hok-tal and laments his singledom. A group of foreign women enter the bar, and one of them recognizes Ssan-ip from the US. Coming alive, he joins their group, and this time Hok-tal is the one who keeps sneaking glances at him. Oh, you two. Lol.
Baek-gyun and Pi watch people pass by, and he reflects that they were so intent on making their robot that would connect with humans, that they forgot to connect with other humans themselves. He resolves to take time out like this more often.
Min-kyu visits Chairman Hwang. He tells him that he’s reinstating Yoo-chul, and that the three of them will take the company forward in a different way. He says that he and Yoo-chul won’t follow the ill-fated footsteps of their fathers and make the same mistakes.
On the drive back, Min-kyu talks to Dr. Oh, telling him that he’s over the injuries of the past. Dr. Oh warns that he could get hurt again, but Min-kyu laughs and says that he can make a friend of it now.
Min-kyu says he has another urgent call coming in. The doc guesses it’s Jia, and lets him go with a laugh. Jia tells Min-kyu that now is a good time for him to come, since both her brother and Hong-joo are home.
Jin-bae stays warily out of Hong-joo’s way at home, and little Dong-hyun whispers that no matter what anyone says, she’s on Dad’s side.
The doorbell rings, and Jin-bae totters back when he sees who’s at the door. Min-kyu, still a ball of awkward nerves around Jin-bae, says hesitantly that he’s here to see him.
“Oh! It’s Kim Min-kyu ajusshi!” Dong-hyun exclaims. To Jin-bae’s further surprise, Min-kyu says back, “Hi, Jo Dong-hyun.” They grin conspiratorially and this is so cute I think I’m going to die for the forty-fourth time already.
Jin-bae hides out in his room while Hong-joo takes care of their guest. Ha, you can tell she’s totally bedazzled by him. Min-kyu takes in Jia’s home with fascinated curiosity, especially the wall of photos, many of which show Jia growing up. His gaze lands on a photo of her father. “I’ve wanted to meet you,” he says to it quietly.
Whispering, Dong-hyun asks him if his allergy is better. “Yes, it’s all better,” he whispers back. He confirms that the person he liked so much was indeed her aunt. “But it’s a secret,” he tells her, sharing another grin. Aww.
A little later, the ladies thrill over his gifts, and he exchanges a wink with Jia. Jin-bae finally emerges for the meal, and Min-kyu tries desperately to work up some courage. Hong-joo whispers privately to Jia that it feels like the men are on a blind date, haha.
Well this won’t do, so Hong-joo asks Min-kyu what brings him here. Clearing his throat, he replies slowly that he can’t do without Jin-bae. To Jin-bae, he declares, “I like you, very much. Because you are a colleague and a mentor I always want by my side.”
He returns Jin-bae’s resignation letter and asks him to tear it up with his own hands. Jin-bae agrees on one condition: “Though you’re my director at work, outside work, can I treat you like my little sister’s boyfriend?”
Min-kyu agrees immediately. “Okay, Min-kyu-ya,” Jin-bae says, dropping to banmal without missing a beat. HA. After a moment, Min-kyu smiles slowly and tries out, “Yes, hyung… nim?” Everyone laughs, and Jin-bae at last tears the letter up.
Min-kyu finally gets to see Jia’s room, and genuine wonderment fills his face as he surveys the walls covered in her ideas. He flips through her sketchbook and comes across the designs for her umbrella, and even the heart lamps.
Laughing at the sketch of the floor-cleaning onesie, he reveals that he owns all of her inventions. Jia can’t believe it, and they’re juuust about to kiss when Dong-hyun bursts in with the news that Hong-joo’s gone into labor.
Min-kyu immediately offers to take them to the hospital. In the car, Jin-bae’s more anxious than his wife, and Dong-hyun comforts him by pointing out that she turned out alright.
Jia, Min-kyu and Dong-hyun anxiously wait for news, and Jin-bae finally comes out and tells them that Hong-joo’s delivered a healthy baby daughter.
Two years later. Baek-gyun presents the team’s newest AI robot to a full house, while Pi, Hok-tal and Ssan-ip watch him proudly from the sidelines. He talks about the human instinct to make connections, and explains how their robot is modelled to connect with people through their emotions, in the hope of improving human lives.
Elsewhere, a soldier gets off a bus. NO WAY, is that… ?
Jin-bae—now a director—gets home from work and the family rushes around to get ready: They can’t be late! Ri-el wraps up a meeting and finds Yoo-chul waiting for her outside. They head off together, also hoping not to be late somewhere.
At his clinic, Dr. Oh also checks his watch and heads out. Sun-hye locks up her café for the day and runs for it, already late.
Jia demonstrates her heart lamps to some foreign buyers, conversing easily in English. They put in an order and have enthusiastic ideas for marketing campaigns, though Jia begins to get restless, checking her watch.
It’s snowing by the time a cab drops the soldier off at Min-kyu’s gates. As he walks up the path, Jia’s there to meet him coming down, and at last, we see Min-kyu’s face, which is just radiant with happiness.
Jia opens her umbrella over them, and he says, “I really missed you!” She congratulates him on his discharge, and says everyone’s waiting for him.
They walk up together, and he’s excited to hear about her contract. But just as she’s about to tell him about a new idea, she slips.
He catches her by the waist, and she looks up at him, a grin forming on both their lips. “This is the moment you have to kiss,” he tells her, before dipping in to kiss her.
He presses the button that makes the umbrella opaque, as the snow continues to fall around them.
NO, guys, what is this?? How can we have all this build-up to what was going to be an epic reunion and then just end it there?! This drama is literally one scene short of being the best thing ever! I’m so unhappy! And greedy! Like it wasn’t enough for this whole show to have been otherwise perfect from beginning to end!
Seriously, though. It’s a little bit strange to create that tension and then not bring it to a fitting send-off, especially when all of these characters really mattered, and we cared so much about them. But I can see the poetry in that, too, I guess, since this second half has been a gentle winding down that puts our characters back into their everyday lives, so we’re able to leave the show with the feeling that this world carries naturally on.
This drama has consistently employed unusual methods to drive its story, and I particularly enjoyed how the corporate machinations were always minimized, and never allowed to overshadow our characters. As company politics take the spotlight this hour, it’s plain that its purpose is to deliver character beats rather than high drama, which it does with a quiet panache that is very much in keeping with the show’s lowkey style.
I’m Not a Robot introduced itself to us with all the trappings of a modern fairytale, full of symbolism we recognized and themes we understood. But after situating us in the familiar, it went ahead to be everything we didn’t expect, in the loveliest way possible. Did it hurt us? Absolutely. I can still feel my cheek on the cold ground of my aching heart. But it also fed us and made us grow, and we could appreciate what the pain taught us about the sweetness that followed. Now, as daily concerns take over, the shape of Min-kyu’s miracle is in the little things, whether that’s holding Jia’s hand, Jin-bae calling him “Min-kyu-ya,” being able to consult a whole cadre of nerdy agony aunts, or sharing dating tips with Baek-gyun. He’s gained not one surrogate family, but three, in the Santa Maria team (finding a true hyung in Baek-gyun), Jia’s family, and his childhood friends, the KM duo of Ri-el and Yoo-chul. What’s really extraordinary is how hard he’s worked for every relationship, using the currency of his own efforts and feelings. He put himself on the line for each person, giving up pieces of himself into their keeping. That’s a far cry from the guy who once called his dinner guests Researchers 1, 2 and 3.
This show is underpinned by themes of change, self-awareness and humanity, and those threads culminate in an overarching question of the necessity of human contact. It’s the philosophical inquiry at the heart of Aji-3’s existence, and its many problems are expressed and addressed in a literal way through the medium of Min-kyu’s allergy. We find that contact leads to connection, and connection requires contact, but both need to be preceded by a degree of trust, and trust requires courage—and that sums up Min-kyu’s entire personal journey. We met him as someone who’d deliberately put up the highest walls he could, and while Jia was instrumental in bringing them down, he had to decide for himself whether he would come out. That’s no small step to take, because to trust someone is to be willingly vulnerable—to know they can hurt you but believe that they won’t. It accepts the risk that you could get hurt nevertheless, but it’s deciding that the relationship is worth the pain it might also bring. I’m really happy with where we left Min-kyu, and like him, I think he’ll be okay now.
I can’t remember the last time I shipped a couple in real life so hard (maybe Healer?). I just love that we didn’t need to dig deep to understand why Min-kyu and Jia are so right for each other, and the closer you look, the more reasons you find. It’s actually not just them—it’s the entire set of oddballs in the Santa Maria team. One of the things I find just so great is how both Min-kyu and Baek-gyun bring no ego to their relationships. Whatever faults they have, they’re not a result of mainstream toxic masculinity, which makes sense because both of them have mostly existed outside common socialization. It gives them a charming emotional honesty which I’d worry about if their hearts weren’t in such safe hands.
I’m so proud of Pi for taking her fate into her own hands and making it look easy, but I do wish she had her curls back (you had two years to fix it!). I also adore the Ssan-ip/Hok-tal relationship, though Ssan-ip definitely needs to get out of
Mom and Dad’s Hok-tal and Sun-hye’s hair, the big baby. I’m not even going to admit how many times I rewatched the Dong-hyun/Min-kyu bits, but I’m still not tired of them. Gah! Everything is too adorable, how am I meant to deal with it? It’s particularly rewarding that Min-kyu isn’t the only one experiencing growth and change, and Baek-gyun especially has had some of the most significant character development, driven in particular by the notion that people change. That’s been at the heart of all our characters’ actions, but it shows in him the most. Dramatic changes like Min-kyu’s are different; Baek-gyun was all about the small changes that come from increasing self-knowledge and awareness.
But you know, this show was so affecting because even with its high-concept premise, it set out to tell a human story from the start and never lost sight of that, despite disappointing ratings. It was always about people on an individual level, and it examined them with candor and detail. I can tap out a glib line about how the drama captured our imaginations, but that’s a pale description for how deeply it gripped our hearts, how personally invested we became in the outcome, and the intensity with which we experienced each week’s soaring highs and depthless lows. Thanks to all of you who made this such a rich and wonderful journey (and damn 2018, can you top this?). We’ve laughed together and cried together (so many tears, and not the pretty kind), and now, ready or not, it’s time to say goodbye to this world.
Goodbye, Jo Jia. Goodbye, Kim Min-kyu.
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