Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food: Episodes 9-10
Although there are so many people in on our couple’s secret, the hardest revelations are yet to come. But you can never put crisis off for long, and the time has come to see how their relationship survives in the real world, against all the opposition and disapproval that is sure to come their way. After all, happy endings have to be earned, right?
Laica: As Jin-ah realizes her dad already knew about Joon-hee, a shocked Kyung-sun recalls all the times Joon-hee has lied to her about his relationship with Jin-ah, and reels. (I find it telling that it’s all Joon-hee, which underlines how he is her priority despite her friendship with Jin-ah.)
Saya: Since the cat’s pretty much out of the bag now, both Joon-hee and Jin-ah are more open with their work colleagues about their relationship.
Laica: Joon-hee realizes Kyung-sun has found out and alerts Jin-ah, who meets up with her bestie to have it out. Kyung-sun expresses how absolutely betrayed she feels, and Jin-ah apologizes only for not telling her earlier. Kyung-sun asks if Jin-ah seriously thinks that’s the only problem, and storms out.
Saya: In that time, Joon-hee calls his sister and begs her not to give Jin-ah a hard time. When Kyung-sun returns to Jin-ah, the tension’s gone out of her and they have a private pyjama party. Joon-hee is left nonplussed until Jin-ah dials him in so he can hear their laughter and stories. Aww.
Laica: I loved that adorable relieved grin as he listened to them giggle and look at childhood albums. The next morning Joon-hee goes over to see his noona, who gives him some severely loving swats and then warns him that it’s not going to be easy—especially with Jin-ah’s mom.
Saya: You know, I think I am secretly in love with Seung-ho. Look at him making an excuse for Joon-hee to come over—ostensibly to see him, but he’s actually making an opportunity for him to see Jin-ah.
Laica: Seung-ho is totally growing on me! And I really felt for him this week!
Saya: Unfortunately, Mom comes home sooner than expected. She’s excited about a possible blind date for Jin-ah and shows both boys. Joon-hee can’t stand it anymore, and kneels before Mom.
Laica: Which is when Jin-ah arrives, and kneels right along with him. Mom catches on and goes nearly apoplectic. When Seung-ho rushes to her aid, she yells and smacks him repeatedly for keeping it from her, ignoring Jin-ah and Joon-hee altogether. Joon-hee quietly leaves.
Saya: Mom turns her wrath on Jin-ah when she refuses to stop seeing Joon-hee. Poor heroic Seung-ho, trying to protect both women. You’re a good egg.
Laica: Mom hits Jin-ah over and over as she enumerates how ashamed she should be for dating her little brother (um, right, okay), until Jin-ah lies limp on the bed. This feels so much uglier than Kyung-sun’s earlier whaps of Joon-hee. Mom isn’t necessarily hitting Jin-ah harder or more, but it feels… angrier. And less affectionate.
Saya: You took the words right out of my mouth. At that point, Dad comes home, and when Mom realizes he was in on it, too, she launches herself at him… except she trips and breaks her arm. In a final stroke of indignity, she has to be taken to hospital by Jin-ah.
Laica: Jin-ah cares for her mother gently, although the older woman warns that this doesn’t change anything.
The next day, Mom visits Kyung-sun at work, and assures her that of course she doesn’t have a problem with their family background, but Jin-ah and Joon-hee are confusing family closeness for romantic attraction, and it’s up to Mom and Kyung-sun to snap them out of it.
Saya: It actually terrifies me that Mom uses the line, “I’m you, you’re me.” I mean…what kind of freaky thing is that to say to someone? Or to have said to you? I can’t even decide which is creepier.
Laica: Yeah, it’s scary how she clearly went there with a calculated strategy to manipulate Kyung-sun into being her ally against the couple. And Kyung-sun clearly sees through it, given the way she cries in a corner after Mom leaves.
Saya: The part that gets me most is that she’s so crudely manipulative; it’s ugly and unsubtle, and she switches tacks in the blink of an eye. Kyung-sun isn’t stupid—she’s never been blind to Mom’s nature, but you can see how much it hurt her to have to confront that duality.
Laica: Yup. This is the meanness I was talking about last week. Kudos to the writer for giving us hints that she was this kind of person, while still making it awful to watch unfold now. Because she goes straight home and tells her husband that there’s no way she’s allowing Jin-ah to be with someone who’s going to have to take care of two half-siblings later in life.
Saya: That was the single moment I thought her concerns might actually be legitimate despite her behavior, but it turned out to be just one more weapon in her emotional blackmail arsenal.
Laica: Meanwhile, the workplace harassment situation is getting more complicated. VP Jung has recruited Manager Choi into gathering evidence for her against the other men.
Saya: He tries to get out of it by telling the CEO, but the latter is all for it. Bolstered by his support, Choi manages to get some damning details of harassment incidents out of Manager Gong.
Laica: That evening, Jin-ah reminds her mother that she’s an adult and she can date and even marry who she wants. When Jin-ah realizes that her mom went to see Kyung-sun, she goes over to apologize and comfort her poor friend.
Saya: Acting on Mom’s demands, Dad later takes Jin-ah out for a “talk” where he assures her that they just want the best for her, blah blah. Sorry, I’ve heard a thousand iterations of this before already. She points out that in other people’s eyes, she’s not the great catch her parents think she is, either.
Laica: Jin-ah asks what’s so important about Joon-hee not having parents, compared to the love he pours into her daily. He’s the one who taught her how to be so considerate to her mother in the hospital, helping her dress and caring for her when she was in pain.
Saya: She tells Dad what she told Mom: She has no intention of leaving Joon-hee, and while they might be disappointed in her, she’s disappointed in them.
Laica: That night, Kyung-sun calls her absentee bio-dad in Canada, but he blows her off as usual, and Kyung-sun breaks down sobbing.
Saya: Meanwhile, Jin-ah slips out to see Joon-hee. When Mom finds her room empty, she heads straight to Joon-hee’s and rings the bell repeatedly.
Laica: Really, Mom? This is an even worse idea than setting up another blind date for Jin-ah.
Saya: Oh, Mom. I don’t regret defending her for the last few weeks, but understanding has its limits. As long as her concerns for her kids were legitimate and sincere (however wrong-headed), I was willing to cut her some slack, but it’s become increasingly evident that her desire for control outweighs her concern for her kids. I know you’re going to say this was always evident, but…she’s a mom. I just wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Even Dad disappointed me. I can see that he’s more the beta in the relationship, but it was still disturbing to see him immediately accede to his wife and try to talk Jin-ah out of a relationship that he actually did approve. Like, there are times to stand your ground.
Laica: I actually wasn’t as mad at Dad, because I can see that he’s caught between his wish to support Jin-ah and trying to deal with his wife’s insane demands. And I appreciate that he honestly told Jin-ah their objections instead of lying like mom, because even if those concerns make little sense in Joon-hee’s case, they’re relatable and realistic for parents of that generation.
Saya: His saving grace is that he still speaks from a place of real concern for her. But how illustrative is it of Mom’s personality that the reason everyone cites for not opposing her is the fact that she’s absolutely unyielding and refuses to lose? I’ve actually come to pity her, imprisoned as she is by her own narrow prejudices.
Laica: I still just can’t with Mom. That meeting with Kyung-sun after she’s had a night to sleep on it was cold. Everything she does comes from such a calculating, mean place. And it’s clear that she knows that she’s wrong to disdain the Seo siblings’ background, or she wouldn’t have lied about her reasons for opposing the match when she met with Kyung-sun.
Saya: Yeah, I draw the line at her making the kids actively suffer because she can’t deal with their choices. Know when to back off. On the other hand, as you said earlier, it’s so telling that Kyung-sun’s opposition is rooted in concern for her brother above all.
As much as she loves Jin-ah—as a friend, sister, daughter, mother—Joon-hee is more than all of that to her. He’s everything she has in the world. And not even Jin-ah is allowed to take a risk with that. It’s terribly brave of her to give her blessing all the same.
Laica: Kyung-sun, and her relationship to Joon-hee, was really the heart of these two episodes for me. I loved that she went to visit their mom’s grave to complain about him, but in the end could only plead for her to make things easier on him.
And Joon-hee standing outside his noona’s apartment, unable to go in, or at another point, going to check on her and watching her sleep, really got to me. Their bond is beautiful, and I’m glad the drama gave it the space it needed in these two episodes.
Saya: I also love the way we confronted the relationship between Mom and the Seo siblings. For example, Kyung-sun always straight-up calls her “omma” as if she’s her own mom, rather than the more formal address Joon-hee uses (as you conventionally would with a friend’s mom).
Laica: Yes! That struck me too, especially in episode 10. It speaks to how open-heartedly Kyung-sun loves people, and how fully she gives her heart (and how vulnerable she thus is to heartbreak).
Saya: It’s clear that she’s “adopted” Jin-ah’s parents out of love for Jin-ah, but it doesn’t make her blind to their faults and limitations.
She recognizes that their relationship is one of defined distance—you can be as close as family as long as you don’t cross that invisible line and try to be more. The fact that Mom uses that relationship against her is so cruel. Man, we could write a thesis on Mom.
Laica: We really could. But moving on to other people with boundary issues, the workplace harassment storyline is taking an unnerving turn, with people drawing battle lines and the creeps beginning to push back against the women for daring to stand up. I’m a bit scared for them.
Saya: I’m hopeful that it’s not going to go badly, because the show isn’t meant to be a tragedy, right? On a lighter note, I died laughing over the man-date that Jin-ah sent her toerag superiors on. It’s a little sickening how both men really thought they were going to get some. And then..! Hahahaha, priceless.
Laica: That was great! Classic low-key Jin-ah style. Although I hope there won’t be retribution.
Saya: Jin-ah style is good style when she’s thinking! Like, I really loved how there’s not one point where either she or Joon-hee back down, apologize, or say they made a mistake.
There are things you can’t apologize for, and that’s a strategically critical move for them, too, because if they were to give way now, that’s ground they can’t regain. They have to believe in it this much, stand fast this much, to even have a chance going forward.
Laica: Agreed. I’m also glad Joon-hee took that opportunity to confess to Mom, even though I got on his case last week for being overbearing sometimes, because Jin-ah’s been insistent on facing all the confrontations alone—even with Kyung-sun, which I felt was unfair to Joon-hee.
She should have let him decide how he wanted to handle this with his noona, who’s basically his entire family. And honestly, I’m glad neither of them had to face that initial revelation to Mom alone, because the woman is terrifying.
Saya: I’m glad you pointed this out about who would tell Kyung-sun, because I actually feel like at times, Jin-ah is the one being more controlling than appropriate, it’s just more subtle.
Laica: I think I see what you mean. She tends to do it jokingly, and often pulls the noona card in an affectionate way, whereas he approaches her more head-on when he wants her to something, which is true to his blunt personality.
Saya: I guess what we’re really noticing is that there’s actually a healthy level of negotiation and honesty in their relationship.
Laica: Here’s hoping their rock-solid bond will hold them in good stead when Mom barges through that apartment door.
Saya: Amen to that.