Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food: Episodes 13-14
It’s become clear that the greatest obstacle to this couple’s happiness may end up being their own problems communicating with each other. There’s a lot of crying and a lot of confrontations in these episodes, but I don’t know that anyone ends up on the same page, despite how hard they try. Meanwhile, things at Jin-ah’s work are starting to take a sinister turn.
Joon-hee ignores Mr. Seo and angrily tells Jin-ah to come away, but she replies that he’s being childish; he tells her she doesn’t understand and storms away. Joon-hee turns off his phone and drinks himself into a stupor, and Kyung-sun puts him to bed, wondering if he’s broken up with Jin-ah.
The next day he takes off from work and goes to visit his mom’s grave, leaving Jin-ah, Kyung-sun and Seung-ho wondering where he is.
Kyung-sun meets Jin-ah, who confesses her actions, and admits that she made a mistake. No kidding, sister. She passes along the gifts Mr. Seo gave her for the siblings.
At the Coffee Bay office, Director Nam and Manager Gong have been doing damage control, cornering the younger women and singling Jin-ah out as the problem, telling them it’ll be bad for them to get involved, which a worried Manager Geum relays to VP Jung. Meanwhile, Mr. Seo calls Jin-ah’s dad and they meet for drinks. Something tells me none of this is going to end well.
Jin-ah silently takes Joon-hee to the roof when he returns to work, and angrily asks him if he had to make such a big deal out of her meeting his dad. Wait, what?
Joon-hee asks how she expects him to react when she met a person he’s cut out of his life, trying to force Joon-hee to acknowledge him as a father, without even mentioning it to him first—she’ll probably say she didn’t want him to worry, since that’s the excuse she always uses when she lies to him. Dang, son. Also, word.
Jin-ah retorts that he lied too, but he points out that it would have only been painful for them both if he’d exposed the wretchedness of her mom hitting him and telling him to get lost. He doesn’t know anything about parents, he tells her, but he was unafraid to face her family as long as she was with him. But he can’t accept this man showing up and acting like his father in front of the woman he loves, and then her calling him childish for being angry about that.
Jin-ah gets offended, tells him sarcastically she’s sorry for acting like she’s the mature one, and storms off. After a moment he chases after her, but doesn’t find her.
Joon-hee meets Kyung-sun, telling her where he’s been, and she tells him not to be so upset—she hates the man too, but he’s their only living parent. Just then, Jin-ah’s mom calls Kyung-sun to come pick up Mr. Seo (he’s passed out drunk in their living room after fighting with Jin-ah’s dad).
The Seo siblings rush to get him, but as soon as they come in, Jin-ah’s mom begins to harangue them, saying horrible things until Jin-ah bursts out that she won’t meet him anymore. She turns to Joon-hee and says they should break up, and then locks herself in her room. WHAT.
Joon-hee stands there stunned for a minute, then knocks on her door, but she won’t open it. He tells her he’s okay, so she shouldn’t cry (which only makes her cry more), and the Seos leave.
Joon-hee wanders the streets and makes his way home in a daze, and Kyung-sun takes her dad back to the hotel. Mr. Seo tells her that she and Joon-hee shouldn’t waste their lives hating him, and Kyung-sun cries as she watches him leave. Mr. Seo sobs to himself once he’s alone.
Jin-ah shows up at Joon-hee’s door much later, tells him she’s sorry, and then keeps deflecting and making light of things until he gets mad and tells her she shouldn’t have broken up with him, even in anger.
She confesses that she doesn’t know how to apologize without making things worse, and promises not to do it again. She cries, they embrace, and he forgives her.
The next morning, at Jin-ah’s prompting, they take Mr. Seo to the airport, and Jin-ah leaves the two men alone, giving Mr. Seo a chance to apologize, and thank him. The two men embrace awkwardly as Mr. Seo makes his farewells.
Joon-hee tells Kyung-sun about it, but she asks if she’s supposed to be grateful, saying she can’t support the relationship after the way Jin-ah’s family treated them last night. Joon-hee asks her to tolerate it for his sake, but she points out that it’s for his sake that this whole situation is tearing her heart to shreds. By the end of the conversation they’re both in tears. Oh, my heart.
Jin-ah’s mom hears from Seung-ho that the couple didn’t break up after all, and she gives Jin-ah the money she’s been saving on her behalf and tells her to get out.
At work, Jin-ah’s hoobaes have started openly avoiding her, and Managers Geum and Kang fight publicly, the former accusing the latter of selling out and abandoning Jin-ah. VP Jung tells Jin-ah she doesn’t have to go through with testifying, and warns her that things will be much worse than she imagines. Jin-ah says she’ll do it—but she wants the hearing to be public, and the perpetrators punished. VP Jung can only promise that she won’t let Jin-ah go down alone.
Jin-ah tells her parents she’s moving out, and is going to be independent. She warns them to stay away from the Seo siblings from now on—they’ve been hurt enough. The next day, after they fruitlessly search for a place to live that’s both decent and within her budget, Joon-hee tells her to live with him, but Jin-ah refuses.
At work, the CEO who has seemed so sympathetic seems to be changing his tune, and despite the ugliness of the evidence shown to him by VP Jung, tells Director Nam and Manager Choi to do wrap things up quietly—and they begin a dedicated campaign of cajolery and intimidation on the female employees, with Manager Kang assisting. Oh no.
Joon-hee shows up drunk and despairing again outside Jin-ah’s house, and they embrace silently in the dark. She tells him he’s all she needs. The next day, Joon-hee asks his boss to send him to the U.S. for as long as possible: he’s going to take his girlfriend with him. Meanwhile, Jin-ah has found an apartment she likes, and tells her real estate agent she’ll take it.
Hoo boy. These two have a lot to deal with already with their complicated family situations, but the real threat to their relationship is the fact that they are terrible at communicating with each other. They seemed to have a healthy rapport in the honeymoon phase, but as sweet and poignant as their silent embraces and make-up teasing are, they’re no substitute for actually talking out their issues. Now that each of them has taken a major step in opposite directions, I see an explosion on the horizon—especially since they haven’t even truly addressed what happened this week. We just had another repeat of Jin-ah apologizing for her terrible decisions, Joon-hee forgiving her because he’s so in love with her and can’t bear to see her cry, and little to no self-reflection on her part about what she did wrong.
As Saya mentioned in her comments last week, Jin-ah has a disturbing tendency to do whatever she wants, and learn nothing from the negative consequences that inevitably arise when she ignores other people’s feelings. I was aghast at the way she got mad at Joon-hee for “making a big deal” out of her going behind his back and meeting his estranged father. IT IS a big deal! And she didn’t seem to get what she did wrong, or feel genuinely apologetic about it, even when he explained why he was upset. It’s the same with how easily she brought up breaking up, and how willing she was to just gloss that over with an apology.
I really liked Jin-ah when this drama began, flaws and all, but she’s beginning to seem self-involved and with no ability to reflect on her mistakes, and thus without the potential for character growth. At this point I’m even growing frustrated with Joon-hee for continuously forgiving her. I don’t doubt that she loves him, and that she suffers too when they fight, but it’s also clear that he’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for hers at the drop of an umbrella, and she’s constantly (perhaps unconsciously) taking advantage of that fact. Neither of them should have lied to the other, but it’s very telling that when he did it, it was to protect her feelings, and when she did it, it was to protect herself from judgment. And when he pointed out how hurt he was by her actions, her reaction was not to feel bad for how she made him feel, but to get self-righteously angry for being blamed. I think the writing is purposely setting up this dynamic, too, considering that when he asked her to stay with him forever, her answer was, “First, do what I ask you.” I guess we’ll find out next week whether that’s going to go somewhere interesting and meaningful.
To be honest, the one character I was in complete sympathy with this week was Kyung-sun—her pain at seeing Joon-hee treated so terribly by Jin-ah and her family, her conflicted emotions toward her father, her frustrated love for Joon-hee that has her unwilling to see him keep suppressing his own emotions for the sake of others. In my mind she’s the heroine of this story, and she’s always been its heart.
And while she labored alone to protect her little brother and do what’s best for everyone, all three of the parental figures were highly disappointing this week. Mr. Seo’s efforts at reconciliation were too little, too late, and I don’t know what Jin-ah’s dad was even thinking bringing Mr. Seo home (he needs to stop drinking, because it clearly leads him to make terrible decisions). Omma was at least predictably horrible, but it was heartbreaking to see Joon-hee and Kyung-sun have to politely endure her abuse, and then for Jin-ah to compound that by breaking up with Joon-hee right there. Can these two lovely siblings just move to America together instead?
The workplace harassment plotline has taken a distressing but sadly pretty realistic turn, and it’s depressing to see that the men and even some of the women have decided to make Jin-ah into the scapegoat in order to save their own skins. With all of this brewing at work, and the conflict that’s clearly coming for Jin-ah and Joon-hee, I can only hope that they both find the maturity and wisdom to face all of this together, with trust and open conversation. I do love how much they love each other, so I’m rooting for them to address their issues head-on and come to a true resolution. (At the very least, can Jin-ah please start listening to Manager Geum’s advice?)
It’s unusual for me to be going into the finale week of a romance drama feeling this ambivalent about the main couple—or this unsure whether they’ll have a happy ending—so I do give the drama props for that. Please bring back the cuteness and the love, Pretty Noona!