Clean With Passion for Now: Episode 2
Our unemployed protagonist Oh-sol’s messy hair matches her messy life, where nothing seems to go her way. Though the handsome cleaning company CEO seems to have it all, he faces his own challenges on the family front and is surprised when, in yet another chance meeting, Oh-sol of all people notices his distress. After what’s been a disappointing year, Oh-sol finds herself considering a job at Clean With Passion, unaware that its owner is the troublesome man who calls her “Horse Head.”
EPISODE 2: “Coincidences Offer Aid to Those Who Don’t Want It”
High school girls line up on a track as Oh-sol narrates that she ran hurdles when she was in school. As young Oh-sol leaps over hurdles, she explains that her father compared them to the obstacles of life — as soon as one is cleared, another one comes at you.
Oh-sol’s father cheered with pride when young Oh-sol won a first place medal. Afterwards, they celebrated with a popsicle that didn’t break in half evenly and Oh-sol’s voiceover explains that like that popsicle, life hasn’t gone her way.
Grownup Oh-sol stretches for a race along with other men and women while interviewers are seated at desks on the sidelines. When the starting pistol is fired, Oh-sol gets off to a good start until she falls down, and when the other runners race ahead of her, the interviewers shake their heads.
Suddenly, a pair of hot-pink, elephant briefs land in her lap, tossed by Seon-gyeol, who’s dressed in a vivid, bright pink-colored suit. Seon-gyeol warns that Oh-sol has bad taste in men and sprays her with disinfectant before walking away.
Seon-gyeol turns back with a question, “‘Today is our first day as a couple?”‘ Does that line still work?” Horrified, Oh-sol yells out, “That’s not it,” but she wakes up in her room and realizes that it was all a dream.
At breakfast, a wave of nausea sends Oh-sol to the bathroom, but she backs out when she walks in on Oh-dol — until she realizes something. Oh-sol drags Oh-dol out of the bathroom as he protests that he was just curious about the cigarette in his hand, but she’s upset about the designer underwear that he’s wearing. (So that’s what happened to them.)
Oh-sol really blows her top when she realizes that she has no idea what’s in the gift box in Seon-gyeol’s possession, and the arguing gets their father’s attention. He chases Oh-dol out of the house when he catches sight of the cigarette and Mr. Choi’s quiet morning is interrupted when Oh-dol uses him to shield himself from his father and sister.
At the company, Seon-gyeol snaps on some gloves and points out everything in the offices that the cleaners missed until he finds a hair on the couch, which means that the entire office has to be cleaned all over again. Seon-gyeol and Secretary Kwon discuss the company’s open recruitment in his office, after passing through a chamber that blows them off with clean air. When he’s finally alone, Seon-gyeol sits at his desk with a happy sigh under a cloud of spray sanitizer. His good mood is ruined when he gets a call from “Horse Head.”
Seon-gyeol tosses the gift box onto the table in front of Oh-sol when he arrives for their appointment and she asks if he opened it. Oh-sol is indignant when Seon-gyeol suggests that she was probably dumped because of her horrendous taste, until she opens the box and sees the elephant briefs.
Seon-gyeol informs Oh-sol that she has one week to repay the repair bill before he begins legal action. As he leaves, Seon-gyeol asks, “Does that line still work? ‘Today is our first day as a couple.'” Oh-sol realizes that Seon-gyeol read her card and flails around in embarrassment as she wonders if her dream was prophetic.
Oh-sol’s luck seems as if it’s about to change when she gets a text informing her that she passed the initial screening for a job at a prominent company. With newfound confidence, Oh-sol follows Seon-gyeol to his car and reminds him that even though people should come before money, she’ll pay her debt, less the $1,000 reward. She mocks Seon-gyeol’s threat, “Legal action, my foot. Did you think that would scare me,” and bounces off in smug victory.
At home, Oh-sol enjoys a congratulatory dinner for advancing in her job search. Her father warns not to make a big fuss, but Joo-yeon explains out how hard it is to get past the resume screening these days. Oh-sol promises that she’ll buy steak for everyone if she gets hired and everyone cheers.
Oh-sol’s father invites Mr. Choi to join their celebration and Joo-yeon guesses that he’s the weasel who moved into the rooftop room. She introduces herself but before Mr. Choi can discover what Joo-yeon means, he burns his mouth on meat from the grill.
Mr. Choi is impressed when Oh-sol’s father explains that Oh-sol has a job interview the next day, but he looks puzzled when she lectures, “Your efforts never betray you, you know. Make some effort.” Together, everyone toasts to a successful job interview for Oh-sol.
Oh-sol arrives for her interview looking confident, until she sees the dozens of other applicants who are already there. Oh-sol is interviewed with two other candidates and when they answer questions in other languages, a bar graph appears overhead and their scores soar.
Oh-sol is asked about her experience as an athlete, which allows her to emphasize how quick reflexes can be a valuable asset and her overhead scores catch up with the others. The interviewer decides to test those quick reflexes with a random question that’s to be answered in English. But since Oh-sol can’t rely on her rehearsed answer, she flounders, and a huge “You lose” stamp appears over her head.
That evening, Joo-yeon treats Oh-sol to triangle kimbap outside a convenience store and assures her that everything will work out because she’s an extraordinary girl, which renews Oh-sol’s resolve. Oh-sol goes home to hang up a long list of companies and picks up her studies again.
Oh-sol sits for more interviews but one boss turns out to be a pervert while another pitches a pyramid scheme. Oh-sol even has an interview with a loan shark and she squirms uncomfortably when he explains that his rabbit and pig tattoos represent the years that his kids were born.
Oh-dol has just finished Tae-kwon-do practice when he gets a call from one of his friends, who has his eyes on Dong-hyun and Jae-min as they wash windows. Once they’re done, Jae-min predicts that a young woman nearby will ask for his number, but it’s Dong-hyun’s number that she wants. Dong-hyun bluntly tells her that she can’t have it and heads for the company van.
Oh-dol and his friend, Jeon Yeong-shik, arrive on the scene and Yeong-shik wonders what the young woman, Eun-hee, sees in “the guy,” but he’s looking at Jae-min. Jae-min clears up the misunderstanding by calling out to Dong-hyun and soon the men are facing off at a nearby playground.
Yeong-shik prepares to fight and proposes to Dong-hyun that the winner can have Eun-hee, but he isn’t interested. Yeong-shik gets angry when Eun-hee starts to cry and charges at Dong-hyun, but he weaves at the last minute and the punch meant for him lands on Jae-min’s nose.
When Yeong-shik attacks Dong-hyun again, Oh-dol and Jae-min join in and soon everyone is locked in a circle, pulling someone else’s hair, while some children playfully form a ring of their own.
Oh-sol arrives home just as Mr. Choi walks out with the local fortune teller. The woman makes a quick getaway after Oh-sol reminds her that she predicted she would have a lucky year. Sensing that she’s been on another interview, Mr. Choi asks Oh-sol when he can expect the steak that she promised.
Oh-sol changes the subject by asking about his female visitors, which makes Mr. Choi wonder if Oh-sol might be interested in him. Oh-sol argues that she has a right to ask about strangers that come to her house and orders Mr. Choi to inform her if that fraud of a fortune teller ever returns.
Oh-sol retreats to her room and frets about the terrible year that she’s had. She crosses out the first thirty-seven companies on her list and wonders, “How could there be nothing that’s right for me?”
Oh-sol is interrupted by a phone call just as Oh-dol, Yeong-shik, Jae-min and Dong-hyun are scolded at a police station for getting into a fight at a children’s playground. The detective learns that one of them has a criminal background just as Seon-gyeol and Secretary Kwon show up on behalf of Jae-min and Dong-hyun. The detective warns Seon-gyeol that he should do better background checks because Dong-hyun has a criminal record.
Accompanied by Seon-gyeol and Secretary Kwon, Dong-hyun and Jae-min leave the police station in silence. Seon-gyeol recognizes Oh-sol when she runs past him and once she’s inside, Oh-dol and Yeong-shik look very afraid.
Back at work, Seon-gyeol orders Secretary Kwon to fire Dong-hyun and Jae-min. She assumes Seon-gyeol’s decision has to do with Dong-hyun’s record but he already knew about that and informs her that if it were a problem, he wouldn’t have hired Dong-hyun in the first place.
Secretary Kwon reminds Seon-gyeol that Dong-hyun and Jae-min have been with the company since it started, but he won’t allow personal feelings to interfere with business. Secretary Kwon hits a nerve when she observes, “At times like this, you’re just like your grandfather, Chairman Cha.”
Secretary Kwon argues that even though Clean With Passion claims that it’s committed to their employees’ welfare and boasts of a great working environment, only three original employees are left — her, Dong-hyun and Jae-min. Secretary Kwon reminds Seon-gyeol that he fired everyone else for petty reasons, even though he knows no one is perfect.
Seon-gyeol’s irritation increases when he discovers an ink stain on his finger. Secretary Kwon follows him to the bathroom sink and reminds him that anyone can make mistakes, even when it has to do with cleanliness.
Seon-gyeol’s day gets worse when his mother calls from the golf course to remind him about his grandfather’s birthday the next day. Seon-gyeol explains that he’s busy and hangs up, putting her in a bad mood. Her boyfriend asks who could do that to her and is shocked to hear from an assistant that it was her son, because evidently Seon-gyeol’s mother has never been married.
Oh-sol takes Oh-dol and Yeong-shik to a restaurant where she warns her brother not to do anything else to jeopardize his future. After she promises not to say anything to their father, Oh-sol looks at the boys’ battered faces and scolds them for not doing a better job of beating up the other guys. While they dig into their meals, a train passes near another restaurant where Oh-sol’s father drinks alone after losing his job.
At home, Oh-sol calculates her monthly expenses but jumps into bed when she hears her father come home. He peeks in on Oh-sol and apologizes that she has to struggle to find a job because he’s poor. Her father sweetly blows her a kiss as he closes the door and when Oh-sol gets up to peek on him, she’s worried by the sight of him drinking alone.
Seon-gyeol stands in front of a stern portrait of his grandfather, dressed in military uniform. He takes notice of the many awards along with a smileless photo of young Seon-gyeol with his grandfather. His mother, Cha Mae-hwa, sends a selfie to her boyfriend, tickled when he responds that she’s prettier than the flowers in her arms.
They’re called into the dining room for dinner and when his grandfather arrives as Seon-gyeol inspects his fork, he comments, “You still haven’t cured yourself of that disorder.” Once everyone is seated at the table, his grandfather reminds his grandson that he had to deal with plenty of dirt in the military, but before he can say anything more, Seon-gyeol recites the rest of his story — his grandfather went days without a shower, covered in dust, to meet his construction company’s deadlines.
Mae-hwa tries to change the subject and asks about the Geum-ja that Seon-gyeol was searching for, surprised when her father announces that it’s bad luck to use the name of a dead person. Mae-hwa learns that Geum-ja was the nanny who raised Seon-gyeol, now gone for five years, and agrees that he shouldn’t use her name because it’s creepy.
Any pretense that this family can get along evaporates when Mae-hwa mentions the impressive performance of Seon-gyeol’s company and urges her father to bring him into the AG Group. Seon-gyeol insists he isn’t interested while his grandfather makes it clear that he won’t pass on his company to someone with mental problems.
Seon-gyeol’s grandfather complains that he sent him to the U.S. for treatment, only to have him return to Korea to start a cleaning business. Seon-gyeol suddenly can’t deal with the “bacteria” in his grandfather’s house and asks to be excused, which enrages his grandfather. He calls Seon-gyeol a rude brat and throws his fork at him in anger, cutting his cheek. Seon-gyeol touches the cut and when he sees blood, he drily observes, “You still have that temper. Just like when I was little. Happy birthday. I wish you a long life, Grandfather.”
Oh-sol walks away from another disappointing interview, envious of the employees with their ID tags. Matters only get worse when Oh-sol breaks a heel, causing her to exclaim, “Gosh, what a mess! Nothing is going my way.”
Seon-gyeol washes his face at sink #1 and remembers how his grandfather beat his legs until they bled when he was a boy, just for getting dirty. His grandfather yelled, “Didn’t I tell you that you must always look clean and well-kempt? Because your mom is not around, you have to look spotlessly clean at all times.”
Geum-ja watched the beating in horror but later, when she carried the boy on her back, she explained that Chairman Cha didn’t hate Seon-gyeol, he just didn’t want others to judge him harshly. Seon-gyeol asked her when his mother would return and realized that the nanny’s answer was always the same, “Ms. Cha will come home in ten days.” Seon-gyeol explained that with his mother gone, his grandfather’s anger was worse, especially since he had no father.
A drunk Oh-sol counts the pens in a bucket outside a convenience store when Seon-gyeol pulls up in his car. Oh-sol greets Seon-gyeol as “3,500 dollars” and figures out that he must live nearby in the fancy building.
Oh-sol calls it a coincidence that they ran into each other again and invites Seon-gyeol to sit down, but he continues into the store. That doesn’t stop her from telling him, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can pay you by next week,” and she explains how she’s failed one job interview after another.
Seon-gyeol urges Oh-sol to go home, but she continues to ramble and shares that she was once an athlete who made her father proud. Even though she never fell in one of her races, Oh-sol admits that falling is all that she seems to do these days. When Seon-gyeol sees the pens, Oh-sol explains that there are ninety-seven of them, one for every job that she applied for. She intended to throw them away but wonders if she should wait until there are one hundred.
Oh-sol gets up to walk home but Seon-gyeol sends her back for her shoes. Seon-gyeol comes to Oh-sol’s aid when she falls, but he doesn’t know what to say when she gazes up at him and, at the sight of his cut breathes, “You got hurt too.”
Oh-sol remembers that her shoe has a broken heel but before she can walk away barefoot, Seon-gyeol runs up with a pair of sandals. He stays behind long enough to watch Oh-sol weave up the street on her way home.
Mr. Choi recognizes the girl from downstairs when he finds her sitting on some stairs, drunk and half asleep. Mr. Choi does the gentlemanly thing and carries Oh-sol home on his back, along with her pail of pens, while she mumbles, “What’s wrong with me…My life is a total mess.” Mr. Choi offers her some advice, “Don’t struggle on your own so much. Don’t try to live like others either…That’s how you win.”
In the morning, a bleary-eyed Oh-sol can’t make sense of the sandals outside, until Mr. Choi shows up and explains that she had them on when she came home. She suddenly remembers Seon-gyeol and bemoans her rotten luck.
Dressed in his company’s pink coveralls, Seon-gyeol details the already spotless light fixture over his desk. Secretary Kwon reminds him that she needs his approval to recruit new employees, but Seon-gyeol wants to know if Dong-hyun and Jae-min have been terminated yet.
Secretary Kwon promises to handle it by the end of the business day but Seon-gyeol asks if revoking his order would make him a better man than his grandfather. Secretary Kwon answers him honestly, “No. But you’ll be able to become a better owner.” Dong-hyun and Jae-min must have been spared, because Secretary Kwon indulges in a victory dance when she leaves Seon-gyeol’s office.
Even though Oh-sol has three part-time jobs, her bank balance is woefully low. Oh-sol decides to ask her father for a loan but when she arrives at his company, she sees him outside with a sign that reads, “They promised me a permanent contract but I was suddenly kicked out on the streets for no reason.”
With no other choice, Oh-sol returns to her list and looks at the next company, #55, which happens to be Clean With Passion. She arrives at the recruiting event, which begins with a fitness test, and runs into Yeong-shik. Oh-sol pretends that she’s there by mere coincidence until her name is announced.
Oh-sol aces the first couple of assessments, but she starts to stress out when she has to line up on a track with a bag of trash over her shoulder. Oh-sol manages to focus when she remembers the track and field version of herself and once the race is underway, she admits in voiceover, “I didn’t think my skills from back then were helpful to me in any way.” Oh-sol crosses the finish line first as she marvels, “Who knew they’d be so useful at this very moment?”
At Clean With Passion, Jae-min thanks Seon-gyeol for his second chance, even going as far as proclaiming, “I love you, sir!” Seon-gyeol protests that he had no choice since the company is so busy and hands Jae-min one of his signature handkerchiefs, which gets tossed the second he walks away as Jae-min complains, “Gosh, that obnoxious stuck-up.”
In contrast, Dong-hyun approaches Seon-gyeol as he waits for an elevator to sincerely apologize, “I know I disappointed you. I’m sorry. That will never happen again.” Seon-gyeol advises Dong-hyun, “The first time is a mistake, but the second time is a choice.” Seon-gyeol surprises Dong-hyun when he adds, “I believe in you. No matter what anyone says, I trust you.”
Secretary Kwon informs Seon-gyeol that the potential employees are ready for orientation and mentions that the fitness test singled out a star. Just then, Seon-gyeol gets a text from Oh-sol thanking him for extending her deadline. She promises to return his sandals and wonders, “About that day, I didn’t make any mistakes, did I?”
Oh-sol sneers when she reads Seon-gyeol’s response in the Clean With Passion offices, “Don’t worry about the slippers. Just throw them out. I hope we never cross paths again.” When Yeong-shik joins her, Oh-sol confirms that he didn’t say anything about the job to Oh-dol and promises to beat him to a pulp if he does.
As Secretary Kwon escorts the recruits, Jae-min admits to Dong-hyun that he’s hoping that one of them will look like Seol-hyun or Suzy (As if!), but he’s aghast when he recognizes Yeong-shik. Seon-gyeol walks up and smiles pleasantly at the new recruits until he recognizes Oh-sol. As he mutters, “Horse Head,” Oh-sol narrates that serendipity bestows its magic when you don’t want it to, and notes that because of coincidence, she and Seon-gyeol crossed paths yet again.
Oh-sol and Seon-gyeol couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, but they share the same problem, they both struggle to fit into the “normal” world. A desire for normalcy is what kept Oh-sol in a three year, one-sided crush with Do-Jin, but as hard as she tries to be normal, Oh-sol stands out for all of the wrong reasons. The same goes for Seon-gyeol because of his OCD, but he’s embraced what keeps him from being normal and found a way to use it to his advantage, to the consternation of his abusive grandfather. Seon-gyeol’s grandfather refuses to see what his grandson has accomplished because he’s focused on what Seon-gyeol hasn’t overcome, an embarrassing neurosis that the grandfather is responsible for.
How difficult was it to witness the abuse that Seon-gyeol’s grandfather subjected him to? All in the name of, “Don’t embarrass me anymore than you already have by being born illegitimately.” No wonder Ga-jeum was so precious to Seon-gyeol. In her, he found the acceptance that his grandfather withheld and she tried explain why the man made Seon-gyeol’s life so hard. Unfortunately, all the cleaning in the world can’t fix the grandfather’s belief that Seon-gyeol is unacceptable — as a grandson, as an heir to the AG Group, heck, even as a dinner companion. Seon-gyeol’s grandfather has already inflicted irreparable harm upon Seon-geyol, but now that he’s an adult, perhaps he’ll be able to work his way through the many ways that he’s been hurt and get out from behind that cloud of spray sanitizer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the way that the spray sanitizer has been used to isolate and insulate Seon-gyeol. It’s the security blanket that helps him to navigate his way around painful and uncomfortable situations. However, a sign of improved emotional health would mean the end of the need for the sanitizer, along with the gloves and the many handkerchiefs that are scattered throughout Seon-gyeol’s day. I’m going to miss all of them when they’re gone, so for now, I’ll enjoy them while I can.
We know where things went wrong for Seon-gyeol, but what happened to Oh-sol’s promising career as an athlete, which appears to have come to a premature end sometime in high school? She still takes great pride in that time in her life, and the difficulties that Oh-sol has to face are made even worse by the comparison to a more accomplished period in her life, when she knew such promise. We know so much about Oh-sol, but her career as an athlete is the one area that isn’t yet clear.
I have to admit, the supporting characters add a lot of charm to Clean With Passion for Now. It looks as if that pink peacock, Jae-min, is turning out to be a disloyal jerk, not only to the many women who catch his eye, but to Seon-gyeol. He professes love and appreciation for his boss in one breath, and then calls him an obnoxious jerk in the next. Never mind how he seems to enjoy making trouble for Dong-hyun. Will he somehow be the catalyst that causes major problems at Clean With Passion in the future?
I’m enjoying the cloud of mystery that surrounds the Gil family’s tenant, Mr. Choi. Oh-sol has jumped to the conclusion that he’s a gigolo, and the fact that he’s evasive about the women who comes to his place certainly seems to support that position. Not surprisingly, Oh-sol has Mr. Choi figured out all wrong and I’m dying to learn what he really does. What line of work enables Mr. Choi to spend his days in an extensive wardrobe of vibrantly colored track suits? Is he a shaman, or a therapist of some type? Let the guessing games begin!