Jugglers: Episode 10
It’s a new year and a new start for the cutest couple ever. Things can be difficult when you’re just starting out, and we’re nowhere near the end of the endearing awkwardness of these two oddballs as they navigate through uncharted territory. But as much as they adore each other, their problems may just be starting as they try to keep their new relationship a secret at work.
EPISODE 10: “You know it’s a secret”
Chi-won takes Yoon-yi home and dries her wet hair, then mentions getting out of wet clothes. She simpers and says it’s a bit soon for that, but he’s all, “I meant me…” As he goes, he asks if she was having naughty thoughts, and he obviously doesn’t believe her too-emphatic denials.
While he’s changing, Yoon-yi rushes around, changing into a fancy outfit and doing her makeup and hair. Chi-won stares, then tells her to put everything back where it was, because he likes the original Yoon-yi (and he brought his panther slippers, I can’t).
They spend the evening in comfy sweats, watching TV and drinking beer. Chi-won channel-surfs, looking for a movie, and accidentally lands on a sex scene. They both freeze and Chi-won goes bright red, his glasses steaming up, while Yoon-yi anxiously chews on her hair.
Yoon-yi suggests they make up pet names for each other, but Chi-won thinks that referring to each other as food is silly when they have perfectly good names. Yoon-yi peevishly threatens to call him Mr. Nitpicky, which he grumbles is better than food, ha.
At midnight, they count down the end of the year together, then Chi-won congratulates Yoon-yi on turning thirty, heh. Yoon-yi is upset that she’s not getting a kiss, so Chi-won leans over to give her a little peck on the cheek. But Yoon-yi turns into him and makes it a real kiss. She pulls him close for another, longer one, and soon they’re too busy for TV.
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Ringing in the new year with a kiss
Yoon-yi wears the necklace that Chi-won gave her the next morning, and she finds him waiting gallantly to drive her to work. He calls her “Raccoon,” joking that she looks like one and making her beam to have a cute pet name.
He notices that she’s wearing the necklace, and Yoon-yi pouts that it’s only a souvenir. But Chi-won confesses that after he blew up at her on his birthday, he worried that she might transfer departments. So he went online to ask how to fix things, and a necklace was the most popular suggestion. That is adorable. Yoon-yi says that he can’t buy a necklace for every woman he upsets, only his girlfriend, and Chi-won grins at her.
He hits a speed bump, making his passenger-side mirror nearly fall off. Yoon-yi ends up hanging out the window, waving and screaming at other drivers, and her face is freezing by the time they get to work. Alone in the elevator, Chi-won reaches out a hand to warm her cheek, but they jump away from each other guiltily when Team Leader Gong steps into the elevator with them.
In his office, Yoon-yi gives Chi-won his schedule for the day as he tends to his now seven-strong cactus garden. She tacks a dinner-and-a-movie date onto his schedule while he stares at her adoringly. Teasing her about her nasal aegyo voice, he pinches her nose, which is when Team Leader Gong walks in.
To cover, Chi-won barks something at Yoon-yi about taking care of her sinus infection. He asks Team Leader Gong why he didn’t knock, and Team Leader Gong is all, “I knocked several times…” LOL, whoops.
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Keeping it on the down-low at work
After Chi-won leaves, Team Leader Gong pulls Yoon-yi aside to talk. Thinking she and Chi-won have been discovered, she begs him to pretend he doesn’t know, but he’s too upset to agree. He asks her, “On the elevator earlier… he slapped you, right?”
Oh no, he thinks Chi-won is hitting her. Yoon-yi assures him that everything is fine and she’ll handle it, and he backs down, but he makes her promise to tell him if it happens again.
A well-dressed man enters the building, jaws dropping as he passes. It’s Yul, suited up proper and acting like a professional, which shocks his entire team. He asks Jung-ae for the morning paper and an espresso, and she brings him the research she did on the games that kids are playing most. But Yul is still Yul, and he stamps her report with a kids’ “good work” stamp, hee.
In the break room, Jung-ae tells Yoon-yi that Yul decides to wear a suit because they make him want to work harder. They talk about how nice a man looks in a good suit, and Chi-won eavesdrops as Yoon-yi says that her favorite thing is when a man rolls up his sleeves to show off his arm muscles.
He goes in, soon followed by some male employees carrying a box of fancy apples. Team Leader Baek tells Jung-ae and Yoon-yi to cut them for everyone, but Chi-won takes exception.
He asks why they have to do it, saying that anyone who wants some fruit can cut it up for themselves. He clarifies that an assistant is the boss’s partner, not a maid, and he leaves with a cheeky wink in Yoon-yi’s direction.
Over dinner that evening, Yoon-yi chirps happily that it felt good when Chi-won took her side, and that keeping things a secret at work is a bit thrilling. But a familiar cackle rings out, and they discover to their horror that Executive Director Jo is sitting at a nearby table with Bo-na, discussing their upcoming presentation.
Chi-won gives Yoon-yi his coat and motions for her to leave first, so she slinks out with his coat over her head because that’s not obvious in the least. She bumps into something in the lobby, and she looks up to see Executive Director Jo scowling down at her.
She fibs that she’s here on a blind date, as inside the dining room, Bo-na spots Chi-won sneaking out. Chi-won sees Yoon-yi and Executive Director Jo talking, so he slips out a side door, narrowly escaping Executive Director Jo’s sharp eyes.
Executive Director Jo asks Yoon-yi how many men she’s dating, adding a smarmy comment that she’s looking especially pretty lately. He leaves her confused, and she and Chi-won end up going back to her house.
She makes a bowl of bibimbap, which Chi-won attempts to decline, remembering how bad her cooking is. He takes one test bite, but by the grimace on his face, it’s as bad as he remembers, ha. Yoon-yi worries that Executive Director Jo is onto them based on the weird way he acted, but Chi-won tells her not to worry, that he’ll take care of everything and all she has to do is trust him. Reassured, Yoon-yi urges another bite on him as he whimpers.
Executive Director Jo is unhappy with his holiday gifts, which are only half of what he got last year. On the other hand, Chi-won tells Yoon-yi to return all of his, but she advises him that a more diplomatic approach would be to return the expensive ones and donate the rest. Chi-won says it’s a great idea, making exaggerated hand motions to show off his rolled-up sleeves and muscular arms, and he pouts when Yoon-yi doesn’t seem to notice.
Things get serious in the team meeting, where they discuss their investigation into YG Electronics’ plan to release a smart TV with known defects. It’s not going well, with the factory’s CCTV film reportedly deleted and the informant not showing up to work. Chi-won says he’ll talk to the informant himself, and Yoon-yi volunteers to go with him.
On the way, she tells Chi-won that according to the assistants’ network, the informant suddenly took long-term leave. She heard that he’s been taking care of his sick mother, and suggests they hook him up with a medical foundation they’ve been donating to in order to encourage him to talk.
At the board meeting, Executive Director Jo makes his big presentation regarding the smart TV launch. Team Leader Gong is the only one from Chi-won’s team that’s there, since they’re all frantically doing last-second preparations. When Executive Director Jo finishes, Team Leader Gong stalls by inventing an internal performance contest on the fly, making everyone gape at him like he’s lost his marbles.
The team finally finishes, and they stride into the meeting just in time. Chi-won breathlessly says that he has something to tell them about the TV launch, and Yoon-yi hands out packets of information while a video plays.
The video is an interview with the informant, whose identity is kept secret. He says that there’s no way the defective part can be fixed before the launch date, because they still don’t know the source of the defect.
He adds that the company is planning to launch the TV on time, then blame the factory for the faulty product. Executive Director Jo looks stunned, Vice President Do looks thunderous, and Bo-na gives Yoon-yi a look that could kill.
Back in her office, Bo-na is kept busy with call after call, but all she can say is that the launch has been postponed indefinitely. Executive Director Jo returns to find a worker exiting his office, and he stops the man before he can leave.
He yells at Bo-na for letting a stranger into his office, angry that she jeopardized the security of his (probably fraudulent) confidential documents. He calls her incompetent since she didn’t know that Yoon-yi and Chi-won were planning to stab him in the back. He storms into his office, and she wipes her tears, embarrassed in front of the worker.
That evening Yoon-yi tells Chi-won that she thinks she she should go see Bo-na, and all four friends end up together at Bo-na and Kyung-rye’s place. Their intent is to be supportive as they tell Bo-na that Executive Director Jo is treating her unfairly.
But Bo-na lashes out at Yoon-yi, who apologizes for letting Bo-na get blindsided. But Bo-na doesn’t believe that Yoon-yi would tell her that she was planning to stab her in the back. Yoon-yi clarifies that they weren’t planning to ruin Executive Director Jo’s plans, but to right a wrong.
Bo-na scoffs that everything comes easily to Yoon-yi — she has a boss who respects her even though she doesn’t work hard, and everyone likes her. Hurt, Yoon-yi asks if Bo-na really means that, and Bo-na yells that she just got lucky to get a good boss instead of a rat like Executive Director Jo.
Bo-na leaves, and she heads to a dingy part of town. Soon she sees her father heading her way, and she calls out to him several times, but he doesn’t respond. He looks up when he gets close, and ohhh, he’s the worker from Executive Director Jo’s office. No wonder she’s so upset.
She takes him for a modest dinner, where he doesn’t say anything for a long time. When he does, he communicates in sign language, which explains why he didn’t hear her calling to him. He says he’s sorry that she got in trouble at work because of him, but she tells him that it’s okay because her boss apologized after he left.
She gives him some money for his landlord and tells him that if he wants to raise the rent deposit again, to say he’ll move into an apartment his daughter will buy for him. Her father apologizes again, but Bo-na tells him that it’s good that his daughter works for a large company.
She walks him partway home and sends him off alone. As he goes, she calls out, “Dad. Dad!” But she knows he can’t hear her, and she screams at the top of her lungs, “It’s so hard! It’s too hard for me, Dad!!”
Yoon-yi arrives home to find Chi-won waiting for her (and yay, he’s reading a comic and laughing, for once). Yoon-yi throws herself at him and sobs on his chest, and all he can do is comfort her.
He takes her inside and tucks her under a blanket on the couch. She tells him that she always liked watching people and wondering what was happening in their lives. She says that you can see people’s flaws, and that she found it rewarding to help them, which is why she became an assistant.
But says adds sadly that feels stupid because she couldn’t read how her friend was feeling. Chi-won quotes a line from one of his favorite comics: “Promise me you’ll always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Yoon-yi likes the sound of that, and she asks what it’s from. She giggles when Chi-won tells her it’s from “Winnie-the-Pooh,” hee.
At the office the next day, a stranger shows up at Yul’s office door. Yul knows him and comes out yelling, and the messenger pulls out an actual silk scroll and reads a message from his father: “The e-sports business that you are pushing does not fit with our family’s image. Thus, it is absolutely forbidden.” He tells Yul to just do as he’s told.
Yul’s team silently celebrates, but Jung-ae recognizes the defeat on Yul’s face. In a quiet voice, she asks why people can’t do what they like. Her voice gains strength as she tells the messenger that Yul is working very hard on the e-sports business, and that he should believe in him just this once.
Further, she presents the messenger with her business card, standing between him and Yul. She tells him firmly not to show up unannounced again, but to call her first if he needs to speak with Yul.
The messenger makes a call, probably to Yul’s father. He says that Yul’s new assistant seems different from the others and suggests that he look into her.
After nearly running into Bo-na while looking for Kyung-rye at the coffee shop, Yoon-yi goes up to Chi-won’s office, needing reassurance. She sees him going through papers on his desk and sneaks up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist…
… which is when Chi-won walks in and sees Yoon-yi backhugging Chang-soo. Oops. It’s hard to say who looks more busted; Yoon-yi for hugging another guy, Chi-won and Yoon-yi for having their relationship outed, or Chang-soo for getting caught going through his boss’s documents.
Chi-won takes Chang-soo aside, and Chang-soo asks how long they’ve been dating. Chi-won refuses to give him any details, only saying that Chang-soo is the past, and he’s the present. Chang-soo asks why Chi-won is always picking on him, but Chi-won just asks why he broke his car’s mirror.
A flashback shows that it was Chang-soo who broke the mirror. He’d gone to Yoon-yi’s house with roses and witnessed her going inside with Chi-won, and he’d taken his anger out on Chi-won’s car.
Chi-won tells Chang-soo that it was caught on his car’s black box, but instead of being petty about it, he suggests they start acting professional. Chang-soo pouts that he doesn’t know if he can, but Chi-won reminds him that he’s still his boss.
Yoon-yi tries to explain what happened, but Chi-won tells her the same thing he told Chang-soo — that the present is what matters.
Executive Director Jo has gotten hold of pictures of Chi-won and Yoon-yi going in and out of Yoon-yi’s house together. He throws darts at the photos, vowing to get rid of both of them.
He gets a call from an informant and asks what “he” likes, and he frowns at the answer. But he tells himself that Vice President Do only has a month left and that this is the easiest route.
Yul takes his e-sports business proposal to Chi-won, who looks it over while Yul chatters nervously, saying that he wants to collaborate with Chi-won’s team because he’d like to make an e-sports specialty channel. Chi-won says that the content is very different from their usual work, but he agrees to look at it.
Iron Man walks up to Jung-ae’s desk — well, it’s actually Executive Director Jo with a life-sized bust of Iron Man for Yul. Yul loves the gift, but he’s oblivious to Executive Director Jo’s attempts to get information about Vice President Do out of him. He tells Executive Director Jo to friend him on social media, but Executive Director Jo just holds up his outdated flip phone.
Executive Director Jo asks Yul about his e-sports business and offers his department to produce the video content. In exchange, he asks for a future favor from Yul. Yul completely ignores him and just pokes at Iron Man, asking if Executive Director Jo brought the rest of the set. HA.
Chi-won takes Yul’s proposal back to his office and tells him that his idea has potential. Overjoyed, Yul swings Chi-won in circles, and their teams go out together after work to celebrate their collaboration.
At one point in the evening, the theme song from the anime Slam Dunk begins to play, and Jung-ae gets all excited. She says that she used to sing the song with her friends at the noraebang, which makes Yul asks how she knows it so well, since the show aired in the early ’90s. Jung-ae freezes, panicking at nearly revealing her true age.
Chi-won asks suspiciously if she likes the anime show, and she nervously says that she loves it. He leans in close, but only to agree that the show was great, and they start geeking out right in front of everyone. They stand to sing along with the song, making Yoon-yi growl to Chi-won that he seems drunk, ha.
The younger employees decide to go clubbing, leaving the older team members at the restaurant. Before long most of them are staggering drunk, and they decide to play a game where the employees get to speak disrespectfully to the boss without repercussions.
Chang-soo takes advantage of the opportunity to confront Chi-won, calling him a thief with no conscience. He says that he’ll never give up, because Chi-won isn’t sincere, accusing him of messing around with an innocent girl.
Chi-won clenches a fist and angrily invites Chang-soo to keep talking. He does, telling Chi-won that Yoon-yi doesn’t love him, she just feels sorry for him.
The other employee diplomatically pretend not to listen, except for Yul, who watches the conversation closely. Team Leader Baek trips into Chang-soo, giving him an excuse to take a swing at Chi-won, and the fight is on. It quickly degenerates into a no-holds-barred brawl, with the guys attacking each other while the ladies throw food, and Yul doing his best to shield the sleeping Jung-ae.
Yoon-yi helps Chi-won stumble home later, assuring him that he most definitely won the fight. She dumps him on his bed and settles his head in her lap to doctor his injuries, grumbling about how many years she spent supporting that jerk Chang-soo.
Chi-won rouses, and he asks weakly if Yoon-yi will call him thirty times too, and give him money to make sure he eats (things she did for Chang-soo). He asks in a pitiful voice, “You won’t tame me and then disappear, will you?”
Amused, Yoon-yi says she’ll see how he does. As he drifts off to sleep, Chi-won slurs, “Just stick to me like glue, just like you do now.”
The following morning, Yoon-yi passes Vice President Do on her way in to work. She sees his daughter, Do-hee, arrive and give him a big hug, then she gives Chi-won another one when he joins them. Yoon-yi watches, unseen, as the three link arms and leave the building together.
Previously, Yoon-yi had brought Chi-won some documents, and she’d included a love note with a lipstick kiss, addressed to “Mr. Nitpicky.” Chi-won took it with him when he headed out for a meeting, but the note had fallen from the folder, and Team Leader Gong had found it.
The note made the rounds of the office, everyone dying to know who “Mr. Nitpicky” is and which employee wrote the love note. Ms. Moon took the note to Yoon-yi, who played innocent, and Ms. Moon growled that when she finds the lovers, they’re dead.
I’m so worried that Chi-won and Yoon-yi will be discovered before they even have time to settle into their new relationship! On the other hand, maybe it’s better if everything is brought into the open sooner rather than later, since as far as we know, there’s no taboo at YB Group against dating a fellow employee (after all, Vice President Do knows, and he was the one urging Chi-won to follow his heart). But even if there’s no explicit rule against it, their relationship can still cause a lot of problems for them at work, particularly with Executive Director Jo looking for convenient ways to gun them down.
I had hoped that the relationship between Yul and Jung-ae would develop like a supportive parent and her misunderstood child, and I’m so happy that it is! Yul has never had a mother, barely had a father, and honestly I think he’s doing pretty damn well for himself all things considered. He’s too old to need someone to mother him, but when he said in yesterday’s episode that he doesn’t need people to agree with him, he only needs someone to believe in him, it broke my heart.
And Jung-ae needs Yul just as much as he needs her — she’s never had anything that was uniquely hers other than her son. He’s going through a rough patch himself, not to mention that he’s at that age where kids are trying to become more independent. It’s right that Gun-woo is pulling away, so as much as Yul needs someone to believe in him, Jung-ae needs someone to help and support, who makes her feel important for her contribution and not like a doormat. They really do make the perfect team, and I felt all warm and fuzzy at the look on Yul’s face when Jung-ae stood up for him.
I appreciate that we got to learn more about Bo-na outside of the office in this episode, because I feel like I understand her a lot better now. Before, she just seemed angry and resentful for no reason, but it makes sense now that we see that she struggles to care for a disabled father. When she called out to him, wanting so badly to tell him about her fear instead of pretending to be okay, my heart just cracked in two for her. I cried real tears thinking about how hard it must be for her to be alone and responsible for herself and her father, and to feel as if nobody cares or even tries to understand her.
But I still don’t think it was fair of Bo-na to say that everything comes easily for Yoon-yi while she has such a difficult time, because that’s really not true. Yoon-yi had a horrible boss, was betrayed, publicly humiliated, and fired unjustly, and was then assigned to a boss who actively wanted her gone. She worked very hard to earn the right to keep her job as Chi-won’s assistant, so I think that Bo-na is just seeing things through her own very narrow focus and not being fair to Yoon-yi. Life isn’t about who has it better or worse, but that we all should figure out how best to get along, and to lean on those who want to help us. The answer isn’t to take your fear and anger out on others, especially those who consider you a friend.
I think that the thing I love best about Jugglers is that, while the plot and subject matter aren’t unique in dramaland, the execution is just so darn good. All of the actors are perfectly cast and bringing their A games, and the direction and pacing are extremely well balanced. Even the cinematography is downright gorgeous, which isn’t something that’s generally a focus of rom-coms. It’s clear that this is a drama that’s loved by everyone involved in its making, and that care shines out of the screen in every scene. I’m not even dreading the upcoming office politics like I usually do, because I know it will be entertaining, and not overly serious and boring. Occasionally I get the feeling that some rom-coms are phoned in, as if just providing popular actors, a familiar story, and a kiss at the end are all that’s needed to satisfy the audience. But Jugglers proves that that’s not the case, and that there’s no excuse for anything less than excellence, no matter the genre.
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