Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food: Episodes 7-8
Things get intense this week, in both good and bad ways. The relationship between our adorable lovebirds deepens, and begins to have real-world implications as one by one the people in their lives begin to discover their secret. Meanwhile, a threat they’d thought was already dealt with lingers in their orbit, taking them by surprise in a very ugly way. It’s a good thing these two have a rock-solid connection—they’re going to need it.
Saya: Joon-hee’s hug reveals his relationship with Jin-ah in front of both her brother Seung-ho, and Stalker Ex Kyu-min. When Kyu-min’s mom comes to pick him up, Jin-ah straight-up tells her that Joon-hee is her boyfriend.
Laica: Seung-ho is still giving Jin-ah the silent treatment the next day, and when Joon-hee comes to pick Jin-ah up to take her to work, they agree that they’ll have to talk to their families about their relationship soon.
Saya: Joon-hee meets Seung-ho that night and for the longest time, they say nothing at all. Eventually, Joon-hee makes it clear he’s not standing down, and Seung-ho says he’ll kill him if he hurts Jin-ah. Aw, that there is as good as a blessing.
Laica: Elsewhere, Kyu-min spills the beans to Jin-ah’s dad about her relationship with Joon-hee, insisting he’s been wrongfully accused of cheating and demanding an apology. UGH. Dad calmly points out that Jin-ah has done nothing wrong; in fact, he couldn’t be happier that she’s with such a decent and loving young man. Aw, Dad! But once he’s alone, he quietly drinks himself into a stupor.
Saya: Unfortunately, Jin-ah’s phone was destroyed in her fight with Kyu-min, but it’s registered in his name, which means she needs him to get it replaced. Somebody please explain to me why she thought it was a good idea to go find the guy alone.
Laica: Such a terrible plan! And why is she keeping this a secret from everyone? I mean I get that she feels weird telling Joon-hee, but this is what girlfriends are for. The dude has already assaulted you once!
Saya: Right? I was SO FURIOUS with her for going off like an idiot with someone who’s shown no compunction in committing violence towards her. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND. Also, WHY IS THERE ROMANTIC MUSIC?
Laica: Okay, the music drove me nuts. I am so done with the terrible music cues in this show.
Saya: Meanwhile, as Joon-hee cycles home, Jin-ah’s voice takes him by surprise, in a recording she made when she had his phone. Guys, it is… a confession of love so lovely that it brought me to tears.
Laica: Soooo sweet. And Joon-hee gets misty-eyed himself upon hearing it. If we ever doubted this man’s love for Jin-ah… (To be honest, none of us did, but you know. We’d be proven wrong.)
Saya: But back in the Car of Doom, Kyu-min’s grand plan is, “Let’s die together!”
Laica: He drives like a maniac, ignoring Jin-ah’s begging for him to stop. Desperate, she unsuccessfully tries to jump from the moving car.
Saya: When Joon-hee can’t contact her, he’s convinced Kyu-min has something to do with it. Kyu-min loses his mind when Joon-hee calls him, and ends up crashing the car.
Laica: The police are called, and a frantic Joon-hee finally finds poor Jin-ah at the emergency room. They embrace tightly, and he gently helps her dress and takes her home.
Saya: Joon-hee is nicer than me and does not ask Jin-ah if she lost her mind.
She gets defensive when he asks why her phone was under Kyu-min’s name at all, but later cuddles up behind him in bed and explains that she felt so stupid about it herself already. As long as you know it, girl.
Laica: She gets her phone situation in order the next day, and that evening joins Joon-hee at his office, watching him fondly as he works.
She falls asleep on the couch, and Joon-hee’s coworker later playfully jumps on her, thinking she’s Joon-hee, which leads to embarrassment and apologies.
Saya: I giggled my way through that, because you can see he’s both intimidated and dazzled by “noonim.”
Laica: And then for some more moments of truth: Jin-ah steels herself to finally confess to her family, and decides to do it on her own despite Joon-hee’s offers of support. She tells him she wants to be the one to tell Kyung-sun, too.
Saya: She rehearses a whole lot of lead-ins for how to tell her parents, and finally seeks out her dad in private. But with the task actually upon her, she breaks down into uncontrollable crying. Dad asks where Joon-hee is, and she looks up at him in surprise.
Laica: In his office, Joon-hee realizes he’s forgotten his sketchbook at home… which Kyung-sun has discovered at that very moment, looking through his drawings of Jin-ah in dismay. Oh NO.
Saya: Oh nooooo!! I kept wondering how exactly she would find out—it had to be the worst way possible, but what is the worst way possible?
Laica: The thing that’s bothered me most about the secret-keeping has always been that they’re deceiving Kyung-sun, and while it was understandable at first, it’s been awful to see them sneaking around and lying to her, especially when they’ve let Manager Geum and Seung-ho into their confidence already (if inadvertently).
Saya: I actually love the way the reveal to Seung-ho worked out. I feel like he’s got a bit of a bad rep with viewers because he comes off self-centered and is his mom’s favorite. But the latter isn’t his fault and the former, well, that’s one way to look at it, but the way I see it, it’s more that he and Jin-ah are just two people who don’t really know each other very well, and therefore don’t have much of a relationship. The fact that he comes through when it matters shows he genuinely cares about her, even if he doesn’t understand her at all.
Laica: Yeah, Seung-ho’s and Joon-hee’s conversation felt very real. And I appreciate that part of why Seung-ho’s not happy about it is that he knows if things don’t work out long term, his loyalty will have to be to his Noona in the post-breakup wreckage. I’m still not impressed with the way he talks to Jin-ah, or blames her for her failed relationships, but I can also see the way their mother’s worldview has shaped his own.
Saya: His mother’s another person who I think is seen too harshly. She’s a product of the society: expected to look after her husband and raise her kids, with no existence beyond that. The thing is, this is so typical to her generation that despite what I find personally frustrating in her worldviews and expectations, I feel sympathy for her too.
She’s a woman with many frustrations and only limited ways to express it: through her behavior to her family and expectations of her kids. Generally speaking, there are people who can change and people who really can’t. Mom can’t (yet), and I wish someone understood her better, because she needs love and kindness, too.
Laica: I see where you’re coming from, and I can sympathize with that perspective in theory, but the way she treats Jin-ah and talks about Kyung-sun and Joon-hee reveals a kind of prejudiced selfishness that really rubs me the wrong way. I particularly can’t forgive her hoping for a reconciliation even after finding out that Kyu-min cheated on Jin-ah, because it smacks of a kind of disregard for her own daughter’s happiness (or a skewed understanding of what will make her happy) that might be realistic, but is very infuriating. And more so because Jin-ah hardly ever argues back.
Saya: I absolutely agree with you, I just feel like there are times where the most you can do with some people is just understand them. She does want Jin-ah to be happy, but she believes her answer is the right one and that Jin-ah will thank her later. She’s wrong, but learning to change is Mom’s journey to make. While she’s certainly not the heroine of the show, I’m wary of making her the villain.
Laica: The workplace harassment plotline also moved along in these episodes; the female employees have been reluctant to detail what they’ve suffered on the CEO’s questionnaires, for obvious reasons. VP Jung takes them out to dinner to clear the air, and here, they freely air their grievances and vow to figure out an effective way to change things.
Meanwhile the men of the office, nervous in the face of the comeuppance they can sense coming, have their own dinner, where Manager Gong, the most egregious of them, claims that he’s calmed Jin-ah down and “made her understand.” Someone needs to string up this weaselly pervert by his ankles.
Saya: I’d volunteer, but then I’d have to touch him. I have such a hard time watching those parts. It’s too real, to the extent I don’t want to even see it because it disgusts me so much and I am like, no more realism, I just want to watch a romance!
Laica: Yeah. But I do appreciate that the men obliquely address the Me Too movement during their dinner, even if it’s in a sexist “women are scary, we’d better be more careful” way.
And I found it wonderfully illustrative that the men are uninterested in going for karaoke now that there’s no prospect of forcing the women to sing and dance for and with them, while the women, free of their abusive superiors for once, have an absolutely ripping time belting out songs about loser men that they’re leaving in the dust.
Saya: Joon-hee’s not a loser, though, bless every one of his little cotton socks and slow, light-up-the-world smiles.
Laica: THOSE SMILES COULD POWER A CITY. But I do want to point out one thing that bothered me in these two episodes: as loving and sweet as he is, I find him to be almost paternalistic toward Jin-ah at times—he’s said more than once something to the effect that she gets into trouble when left alone, or that she doesn’t listen. I don’t love how much he tells her what to do, or tries to make decisions for her, and how she finds that adorable rather than irritating.
I’m also not crazy about the way she described her reasons for no longer putting up with the harassment to Manager Gong: so that the person who loves her, who sees her as more precious than she does herself, won’t worry. I get that Joon-hee is giving Jin-ah a kind of love that she hasn’t experienced before this, and it’s beautiful, but I wish the impulse to protect herself, and stand up for herself, came from her own self-worth and not so that he would feel reassured and happy.
Saya: I read that a bit differently, though I agree it’s a very subtle difference. I felt that what she was saying was that her relationship with Joon-hee represents a turning point in herself; it’s not Joon-hee who makes her do it—correlation does not equal causation. It’s that she’s suddenly alive to the fact that she is allowed to treat herself as someone who matters, which she perhaps never realized until now.
Laica: I can see that reading, and even agree with it to a point, but I do feel a bit of imbalance in the relationship, and I’ve sensed it from the beginning. And part of it may just be that Joon-hee has a more outgoing personality, whereas Jin-ah tends to avoid confrontation, but I do find this unusual among the noona romances I’ve watched, which so often have a more dominant heroine. It’s interesting, for sure, but I’ll be ambivalent about it until we know where it’s all leading—and we won’t find that out until the end.
In the meantime, hugs and eye-smiles and adorable love confessions, hurrah!