Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food: Episodes 11-12
It’s all about boundaries today, and what happens when they’re overstepped. Whether it’s between lovers or friends, siblings or parents, colleagues or seniors, lines are crossed and crossed again.
Jin-ah makes some big decisions about work and love, and it’s hard to tell whether they’re the right ones. But whichever it is, there’s no denying that there’s more than one storm brewing for our couple, and you know, I can’t help wondering if Jin-ah isn’t sometimes her own worst enemy.
Joon-hee comes out to see Mom and doesn’t let her in while Jin-ah’s there. After he sends Jin-ah away with an excuse, he lets her inside. She finally drops her mask and tells him that it’s true, he’s no worthy match in her eyes.
Jin-ah senses something off when she can’t contact Joon-hee, and comes right back. She’s shocked and furious to find her mom there, and the women fight. Joon-hee shields Jin-ah from Mom’s blows, and the women return home in angry silence.
Jin-ah gets called to the CEO’s office and she explains to him that she’s trying to figure out how to go forward regarding the harassment, especially after playing along with it for so long.
The other female staff discuss their situation of being caught between a rock and a hard place—if they don’t speak up, the harassment continues, but if they do and it backfires, they risk losing their jobs, and worse, being tarred as troublemakers their entire professional careers.
VP Jung finally receives some real evidence from Manager Choi’s investigations: distressing video footage of Manager Gong molesting Jin-ah in several situations. Ugh, it’s horrible.
Joon-hee’s company is still trying to make him go abroad again to China, though he continues to refuse. When he and Jin-ah meet later, the air is awkward at first, but it’s not long before they talk it out and fall into their usual teasing rhythm. Aw. (Joon-hee: “You’re so pretty, I could die.” Jin-ah: “No dying without my permission!”)
Seung-ho tells Joon-hee that the secret to getting his mom’s approval is to let her think you’re hopeless so she feels needed, because being needed is what makes her happy. He passes on the advice that Jin-ah should try it too, but Joon-hee grins that he doesn’t know his sister very well. Haha.
They meet up with the girls, who immediately make a fuss over Joon-hee, Kyung-sun claiming her brother while Jin-ah claims her boyfriend. Kyung-sun has a heart-to-heart with Seung-ho and asks him to look out for Jin-ah. She confides to him that no matter what happens to the couple in the long run, she’s determined not to lose her friend, and nor should he lose his.
VP Jung drops off the video files to Jin-ah the next day, leaving the decision of whether or not to use them up to her. After contemplating it, Jin-ah writes up a detailed report that night describing what she’s experienced over the last ten years.
Mom tries to send Jin-ah on a blind date, ignoring her prior plans. Dad erupts, saying that he’s the head of the household, and nobody is to be forced to do anything against their will. He even tells Jin-ah to speak up properly and refuse to do things she doesn’t want to.
Still, Jin-ah ends up rearranging her plans with Joon-hee, and tells him she has to run an errand. Agghhhh just tell him the truth!
Meanwhile, Kyung-sun hears from her dad, who’s arrived in Korea and wants to meet. Oh nooo, it’s at the same hotel as Jin-ah’s blind date! Of course, the women bump into each other immediately. Jin-ah spills the beans about her seon and Kyung-sun loses it and tells her to end it with Joon-hee, because they’re done with her.
Jin-ah pleads with her to understand—she’s just doing it to placate her mom—but Kyung-sun won’t stand for it. Jin-ah tries to call Joon-hee before her meeting, but can’t get through.
Most awkward of all is that Jin-ah conducts her blind date just tables away from Kyung-sun’s tense and emotional interview with her father (Kim Chang-wan).
Her dad is a real piece of work. He makes no apology for his absenteeism and has no intention of being any different, but at the same time, acts like he’s entitled to her confidence.
Kyung-sun tells him that she called him in a moment of weakness, and blames him for making them grow up too fast, especially Joon-hee. Dad doesn’t give a damn about her grievances but seems mildly curious to see his son.
When Kyung-sun leaves, Jin-ah’s date follows her out to ask who she is. (Kyung-sun: “Her ex-sister-in-law!”) Kyung-sun’s dad, who remembers Jin-ah, comes over to talk. Just as they’re parting, she runs back to give him her number, telling him he can call her anytime he wants to know anything about the siblings. Noooo Jin-ah, wtf are you doing?!
Kyung-sun tells Joon-hee about the blind date, and it upsets him that she outed Ji-nah to him. Kyung-sun is more distraught over how Jin-ah’s family is mistreating him—knowledge he wanted to spare her. They both end up in tears and Joon-hee hugs his sister.
Jin-ah doesn’t make it home and Mom’s furious when she hears that the date didn’t go well. She tries to hunt Jin-ah down immediately, assuming she’s with Joon-hee.
At the end of his tether, Seung-ho intervenes and warns Mom not to drive Jin-ah to something worse, like jumping off a bridge, as he himself had contemplated doing several times since he was a kid. Oh, Seung-ho. He also calls her out on her abuse towards Jin-ah. God bless you, my sweet baby Seung-ho.
Joon-hee finds Jin-ah huddled on his doorstep that night. Once she’s inside and warmed up, she says pathetically that she didn’t call because she was afraid he wouldn’t answer.
She explains that she thought if she went along with the date just once, Mom would leave her alone, but the moment she saw Kyung-sun’s face, she realized it was a mistake. Joon-hee laughs and they grow playful again, so all’s well that ends well.
Jin-ah finally returns to work at headquarters the next day, after sending her testimony to VP Jung. Discussing it with the CEO, VP Jung fears that Jin-ah will become the victim of a backlash and have her testimony turned on her.
Se-young secretly reports to Director Nam that Manager Gong is trying to pin all the blame on him. Manager Gong crows to Manager Choi (still undercover) that they’re off scot-free once they send Nam off. Oh you are both going down, man.
Bo-ra overhears some Chinese visitors talking about Joon-hee going to China. Jin-ah asks him about it on the rooftop and he tells her that he’s already turned it down. She then gets an unexpected call from Joon-hee’s dad and goes to meet him after feeding Joon-hee yet another lie.
Dad’s come to meet her in their office building and she hurries him out. But not before Joon-hee sees them together. Eyes blazing, he yells at her to come back.
I find it so troubling how Jin-ah essentially does what she wants without regard to whether it’s okay with the other person. There are times when it doesn’t have serious consequences, but her decisions are increasingly haphazard and come at greater cost to Joon-hee and Kyung-sun above all, and that’s just not okay.
Jin-ah is the most privileged one in the trio of their relationship as it currently stands, so anything else she does to further take advantage of them feels like a lack of respect, consideration and judgement. I winced so hard when she said to Kyung-sun that it’s like she and her brother were born for her. I guess I’m taking it harder because I expect (or maybe just want) her to be better than this.
One of Jin-ah’s virtues is in admitting her mistakes quickly, but that’s a virtue that is only as good as her ability to learn from them. Because most problematic of all is that she doesn’t. I’ve lost count of how many times she’s lied to Joon-hee about big things—something that has never ended well for her and she’s regretted every single time, yet keeps on doing. Live up to your hoodie, Jin-ah! Never go backwards!
She curates the truth to Joon-hee in a way that takes away his agency at the same time as spare her from answering to him. It doesn’t matter if she means well, it still has the effect of infantilizing him. I find myself yelling at Jin-ah to just tell him the damn truth—her honesty won’t threaten their relationship, but her deception and inability to know when it’s not her business certainly will. He’s capable of dealing with his own emotions and she needs to just trust him.
The frustrating part is that I’m sure she actually does, but she can’t seem to overcome her poor judgement in the moment. It’s ironic that for all that Mom is trying to tear them apart, they’re much more likely to have a rift over her going behind Joon-hee’s back to meet his dad. Which, just… it’s so officious of her to think she understands the siblings’ relationship with him, or to think she can somehow magically make peace. That fundamentally misunderstands what’s broken in their relationship in the first place, and it oversteps whatever right she has either as friend or girlfriend. She just has no business getting in the middle there.
On the topic of parents, I’m honestly surprised at the attrition rate on this show of people driven away by Jin-ah’s mom. I find her quite a brilliantly realized version of the stay-at-home matriarch archetype. The show in its limited scope tends to show Mom at her worst, but I don’t doubt that there’s a side of her that is as caring as it is judging. She’s above all a dutiful woman: She performs the duties expected of her by society, by her husband, by her parents. By her measure, she’s rightfully earned her place, and with it, the obedience of her children.
It’s not, of course, a just belief, but it’s very true to life where such systems exist. Without defending her actions, she deserves defending as a character since she provides realistic conflict to the couple’s relationship. The stages of their relationship have been quite clear-cut; the relationship-forming stage between the pair was the first, and a vital precursor preparing them for the opposition they faced in the second stage, once they went public.
We’re now about to enter the third stage of their relationship and see how they fare when they must confront each other’s flaws, especially in the face of harsh realities. I feel particular foreboding over Seung-ho’s warning to his sister not to take Joon-hee’s affections lightly (because his good opinion once lost, is lost forever).
I’m so proud of the Yoon men this episode, and Dad and Seung-ho prove that Mom’s reign of callous desperation doesn’t go unchecked. Dad’s Mr. Bennet moment—when he contradicts Mom and forbids Jin-ah from going to the seon—was absolutely priceless, and I could almost hear the echo of Benjamin Whitrow telling Lizzy that from this day, she must be a stranger to one of her parents.
Seung-ho’s outburst, on the other hand, was just sad, because although he glossed over it, he basically told his mom that he’s been suicidal more than once. His warning takes on a painful gravity when you realize he’s begging for Jin-ah’s actual mortal existence, not her love life. Mom’s been so busy centering herself as the victim; I hope she’s finally going to snap out of it once she realizes her actions could end in such terrible consequences. I don’t expect her to approve, but as Seung-ho points out, the abuse has got to stop.
That seems like some grim foreshadowing about what is going to happen to Jin-ah when her harassment testimony is revealed. I admit that sometimes I’ve found Jin-ah and her get-along instinct hardest to understand, but despite how much I’ve just criticized her, she’s certainly a force to admire, because here she is, once again taking one for the team by being the person to speak up where no one else will. What burden will this woman not take on? And more importantly, how much will she suffer because of it? For the first time, I’m actually a little afraid for her.