Boyfriend: Episode 9
Even as our favorite adorable couple grow close and closer, the people around them, especially the ones who love them, grow worried for them. They have valid reasons for their concern, and even though it’s difficult, the lovebirds give serious thought to the possible issues. But when it’s time for a decision, what will the do – will they stubbornly insist on staying together, or will they decide that splitting up is the best thing for everyone?
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Jin-hyuk pulls Soo-hyun out of the party as the guests are counting down to the new year. She smiles when he takes off his mask, and Jin-hyuk slowly, tentatively kisses her.
Inside, Woo-seok sees them and sadly turns away. He looks dazed and heartbroken as he leaves the party alone.
After the party, Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun head to Subway (like you do). Jin-hyuk is nervous they might be seen together, but Soo-hyun assures him that nobody is there anyway. He tells her that Driver Nam let him ride in the backseat of the car, doing a funny impression of Driver Nam saying that he was there to pick up his boss’ boyfriend and making Soo-hyun laugh.
Soo-hyun offers to drive Jin-hyuk back to Sokcho so he can be at work at 9 a.m., but he says he can sleep on the bus. He suggests they go on a late-night date, but Soo-hyun feels bad, as his boss, that he has to work on a holiday. Jin-hyuk says cheekily that he can go now if she doesn’t want that date, and Soo-hyun protests.
The party is still going at the hotel, and Dae-chan wins the grand prize drawing of a free night’s stay at Donghwa Hotel. The DJ asks him if he’s single, and tells him to unmask and invite his love interest to share the prize with him.
Secretary Jang, who’s been hanging out with the dashing stranger, looks horrified to realize that she’s been flirting all night with her nemesis. She slinks out while Dae-chan looks around for her, narrowly avoiding public humiliation.
Dae-chan runs after her, catching her on the stairs. She’s all Nice to see ya, gotta go, but he stops her. Secretary Jang mutters that they’re probably not that happy to see each other with their masks off, and Dae-chan agrees, but he thinks it’s weird to act like they don’t know each other.
Meanwhile, Jin-myung thinks the whole thing is hilarious, and he suggests they all go out for a drink. He and Dae-chan put on a pitiful act for Secretary Jang’s benefit, and although she rolls her eyes and sighs, she agrees to go.
At the movie theater, Jin-hyuk asks if Soo-hyun wants popcorn, and she nails him with a quip about his preference for dried squid. They have the theater nearly to themselves, so Jin-hyuk takes the opportunity to hold Soo-hyun’s hand. She smiles and leans her head on his shoulder, and he rests his head on hers.
Despite saying that she’d only have one drink, Secretary Jang ends up pretty toasted. Dae-chan asks for her address before she gets any drunker so he can drive her home, which greatly amuses Jin-myung.
Secretary Jang slurs that he’s too happy for someone whose brother was banished to Sokcho, but Jin-myung defends that Jin-hyuk was transferred, not banished. She repeats herself before passing out, and Jin-myung runs out to call Jin-hyuk, but Jin-hyuk is too engrossed in his movie date to answer.
When the movie is over, Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun are reluctant to part again. Soo-hyun says Jin-hyuk will be tired at work later, but he says it was worth it. She drops him off at the bus station, and Jin-hyuk he heads for his bus, then he suddenly runs back to grab Soo-hyun’s face through the window and plant one more kiss on her.
Secretary Jang wakes up in the morning, horrified to find that she spent the night in Dae-chan’s restaurant. She snaps at Dae-chan for not taking her to a hotel, but he says that even with his free voucher, everything was booked. They both look like nine miles of hungover road, so Dae-chan says they’re going to a sauna, then for breakfast.
After eating, Secretary Jang reluctantly admits that she feels better and thanks Dae-chan. He asks what she meant when she said Jin-hyuk was “banished,” and he doesn’t believe her when she says she was just drunk and babbling. She checks her phone and freaks out when she sees another article about Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk on their date last night, this time not bothering to blur Jin-hyuk’s face.
She grabs a taxi and calls Driver Nam, who says there’s nothing wrong with a couple going on a date. He hangs up right in the middle of her tirade, unconcerned.
Woo-seok, who was up most of the night waiting for Soo-hyun to arrive home, is woken by his mother throwing pictures of potential marriage matches on his bed. She’s seen Soo-hyun’s picture with Jin-hyuk and decided that she’ll never allow that hussy back into the family.
Soo-hyun spends her day ignoring calls from Secretary Jang and her mother, who vows to get rid of Jin-hyuk one way or another. She turns her anger on Soo-hyun’s dad, but he says Soo-hyun is probably avoiding her calls for good reason and offers to talk to her himself.
At work, Jin-hyuk tries to ignore the murmurings of the people who recognize him from the article. He takes a break and calls Soo-hyun, who asks if he’s okay, but he reminds her that they expected this. He tells her everything will be fine, but when they hang up, he doesn’t seem quite so confident.
A neighborhood boy recognizes Jin-hyuk and shows the article to his mother, who runs inside to ask Jin-myung about it. He tries to play it off like Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun are just friends, but with the evidence of Soo-hyun’s shoes in his room, Mom doesn’t know what to believe.
Soo-hyun accepts an invitation to dinner from her dad, and she brings up the article first to apologize for his name getting dragged into it. He asks if she’s heard from Taekyung Group (AKA Woo-seok’s mother), and she says she’s preparing her offense for when she does, because it’s time she confronted her head-on.
She worries that her battle may hinder his campaign, but he scoffs and retorts that he’s been a hindrance to her all her life. He tells Soo-hyun to worry about herself and the huge battle she’s facing. Best dad ever. He asks whether Jin-hyuk will be able to watch her go through this because of him, especially since he’s not used to being in the public eye, and he warns Soo-hyun that Taekyung won’t leave Jin-hyuk alone.
Later, Jin-hyuk tries to call Soo-hyun but gets her voicemail, and he picks up a call from Jin-myung. He asks if their parents know that he’s dating Soo-hyun, but Jin-myung says they don’t. They talk about nothing important for a few minutes, wish each other Happy New Year, and hang up. Jin-hyuk realizes that he’s standing in front of a produce store much like his family’s, which seems to make him a little homesick.
The next day, Jin-hyuk sees a little girl in the hotel lobby, crying her heart out because her teddy bear was accidentally taken to the laundry with the sheets. He promises the little girl that he’ll look for her bear himself, then goes through all of the laundry one sheet at a time for two solid hours.
He finally finds the bear, and the smile on the little girl’s face makes it all worth it. The little girl’s mother stays to take a few shots on Jin-hyuk at work without his knowledge (but with his boss’s permission) — ha, turns out she’s a journalist.
Back in Seoul, Soo-hyun reluctantly meets with Woo-seok for coffee. He shows her their wedding rings, which he still has, and he softly asks her to come back to him. He says they can live far from his mother, and that he’ll make sure she doesn’t have to attend family events and can keep running the hotel.
Oof, he looks so hopeful and at the same time, so bleak, as if he already knows her answer. Soo-hyun asks why he’s doing this now, when he never used to interfere with his mother’s horrible treatment of her. She says that even though she’s forgotten his mother’s actions, she still remembers how weak he looked as he stood by and did nothing.
She tells him that she just endured it, until he said he loved someone else and she didn’t have to endure anymore. Instead of explaining, Woo-seok says they can live abroad, even Cuba where the new hotel is. Soo-hyun says gently that she’s seeing someone very special to her, but Woo-seok says cryptically that even she can be swayed, but he warns her not to be blown away.
Soo-hyun’s mother shows up at the hotel to confront Jin-hyuk, who immediately goes on his guard. She warns him to stay away from Soo-hyun, but he refuses to make that promise, so she tells him that Soo-hyun’s family and Woo-seok’s family have already agreed that they’ll be getting remarried.
Jin-hyuk asks if it’s what Soo-hyun wants, but her mother says that she’s destined to do what’s chosen for her. Undaunted, Jin-hyuk argues that it’s Soo-hyun’s life, and her mother sneers that dating her daughter must make him feel brave. She tells him that a big fight will begin because of him, accusing him of putting Soo-hyun in that position.
The next day, Soo-hyun and Secretary Jang run into Director Kim and Hye-in in the hallway. Director Kim introduces Hye-in as the one who stole her phone to call Soo-hyun, and Hye-in apologizes, but Soo-hyun thanks her, then pulls Hye-in aside to ask her some questions as Jin-hyuk’s friend. Hye-in works up the courage to ask Soo-hyun to stop seeing Jin-hyuk, worried that he’s already moved for Soo-hyun’s sake and scared of what else he might do.
Out of concern, Secretary Jang shows Soo-hyun an article that someone wrote about Jin-hyuk, making him out to be a gold-digger who’s trying to get famous by dating her. She also lets Soo-hyun know that her mother went to Sokcho to see Jin-hyuk.
That evening, Soo-hyun struggles between the worry that her friends and family are showing, and Jin-hyuk’s claims that this is all normal and expected. At the same time, Jin-hyuk is bombarded with requests from people he barely knows, asking for everything from drinks to free hotel nights and “joking” that he’ll own Donghwa Hotel soon.
He has to take a moment to force a smile into his voice when Soo-hyun calls him. He tells her that his personal information getting out was just a prank by old classmates, but she’s upset that the best parts of him were twisted to look bad (like his studiousness being called a ploy to get girls).
Jin-hyuk says it’s nothing, and when Soo-hyun counters that she knows the comments hurt him, Jin-hyuk says he’s more worried about her. Soo-hyun says that they should take some time to think things over, and Jin-hyuk fights back tears as he says with forced cheer that this must be hard on her since he’s so ordinary.
He drops the fake smile and asks if he put her in a bad position, and now Soo-hyun is crying too as she says she’s just scared that he’ll get hurt. She says that his life gets shaken the closer she gets to him, and she’s scared that the people who watch her will turn on him, too.
Shaking, Jin-hyuk suggests they take a “no news is good news” approach and not call each other for a while, and see who lasts longer. Soo-hyun agrees and they hang up, equally devastated.
Some time passes, but every little thing seems to remind Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk of each other. Soo-hyun goes around taking pictures of places they’ve been together with Jin-hyuk’s camera, while Jin-hyuk sits on the bench where they had coffee and he fell asleep on Soo-hyun’s shoulder. Soo-hyun visits Jin-hyuk’s neighborhood playground, and Jin-hyuk walks along the beach where they once played together.
After a month, Hye-in calls Jin-hyuk to ask why he hasn’t come home for a visit. She says his parents are worried, and he promises to come home soon. As he waits for the bus to Seoul, he can’t help thinking about what Soo-hyun said the last time they spoke — that she’s scared he might get hurt. Instead of catching his bus, he goes home.
Sh finally takes the last photo on the roll of film in Jin-hyuk’s camera, and she recalls him telling her to go to Mrs. Lee (the cafe ajumma), who has a darkroom. Mrs. Lee is happy to see her, having been alerted by Jin-hyuk that Soo-hyun would show up to develop film one of these days.
She helps Soo-hyun develop the film, and Jin-hyuk’s smiling face slowly appears on the paper. Catching onto Soo-hyun’s mood, Mrs. Lee says that she still misses her husband, who passed away. She tells Soo-hyun that she and Jin-hyuk should see each other while they can and be happy, then leaves Soo-hyun alone with her thoughts.
As she leaves the cafe, Jin-hyuk’s picture in the seat beside her, Soo-hyun makes a decision and turns her car around. She drives all the way to Sokcho, thinking about how she once said that he’s always the one running to her. She finds him sitting on a bench near a lighthouse, reading a book, and she stops a short distance away and calls him.
He’s so happy to see her calling that he jumps to his feet as he answers. Soo-hyun confesses that she’s caved, and Jin-hyuk teases that they never agreed on what the winner would get. She asks what he’s doing, and he lies that he’s eating with coworkers.
Soo-hyun asks where those coworkers are, and it gradually dawns on Jin-hyuk that she can see him. He slowly turns around, and when he sees her right behind him, he almost drops his phone. Soo-hyun takes a step towards him, and Jin-hyuk breaks into a run.
When he reaches her, he grabs her in a happy, grateful hug, looking like he’ll never let her go. His voice narrates the words he was just reading: “If the sea’s job is to make waves, mine is to think of you.”.
Oh, I love that Soo-hyun lost the bet! She’s the one who resisted this relationship so hard at first, and she did notice that Jin-hyuk is always the one running to her, so I find it significant that now she’s the one who’s willing to let down her guard and show her true feelings by going to Jin-hyuk first. I don’t think it means she loves Jin-hyuk more than he loves her or anything (a case could be made that it’s the other way around since he did the harder thing by respecting her wishes and staying away when he was tempted), but I do think that it shows how much Jin-hyuk’s love has changed Soo-hyun. He’s shown her how it feels to be valued just for herself, and not for what money or status or connections she can give to him, so it was time for her to show him how much that all means to her.
They’re both changing, in fact, and it’s so wonderful to see the effects that Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun are having on each other. They started out such polar opposites — one perpetually serious and almost depressed, one a bit too naïve and optimistic — but it’s almost like they’re pulling each other towards a healthier middle ground. Soo-hyun is learning to loosen up and to stand up for herself, something she always had inside, but she just never had a good reason to assert herself until she met Jin-hyuk. It also turns out that she has a wicked sense of humor, and I love her little jabs about Jin-hyuk’s previous embarrassing behavior. And Jin-hyuk is seeing that the world isn’t all roses and sunshine, but instead of letting it get him down, he’s just becoming more grounded and mature as he learns to navigate a world that doesn’t think he’s perfect, like the one he grew up in.
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again — I just love all the little moments between Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun that remind those of us watching of what it’s like to be in a new, fresh love. That thrill you get just to hold hands in a dark movie theater, the miserable feeling when it’s time to say goodbye, are moments that most dramas don’t bother to show us. But Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun make them feel so big, like they do when you’re the one in the moment and every second you get to spend with your favorite person is precious and full of meaning. And the not-so-happy moments are just as meaningful, because seeing Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk so devastated at having to take a break just proved how much they really car for each other, and my chest literally ached for them in that moment.
I’ve had this vague worry about Woo-seok for a while now, because while his sad eyes and lingering love for Soo-hyun break my heart, I also worry that he’s in a place of unhealthy denial. He can see that she loves Jin-hyuk, and he even seems to objectively like Jin-hyuk and approve of him. But Woo-seok asking Soo-hyun to get back together also shows that he doesn’t think her relationship with Jin-hyuk is serious, which means he doesn’t respect Soo-hyun’s wishes when she tries to tell him that they’re not going to be together again. I’ve been scared that Woo-seok would go dark and begin behaving like a villain, but it might be even worse if he just… refuses see the truth. He may not have any nefarious intentions, but a single-minded pursuit of Soo-hyun could create its own set of problems if Woo-seok decides that she’s meant to be with him and nothing else matters.
One thing I really love about this show is that it could so easily go makjang, but it never does. Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk face a lot of opposition for a lot of different reasons, but those reasons are all realistic ones that I can see a couple like them facing in the real world. Nothing comes across as overblown or unnecessarily dramatic, and nobody puts on crazy histrionics. (Except maybe Soo-hyun’s mother, but even she never makes me think, “Pfft, nobody would really act that way.”) Even when the stakes Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk face are high, they’re presented as realistically high, and I can even understand each of their opposers’ justifications for asking them to please reconsider whether this relationship is a good idea. I didn’t even feel that their decision to take a break was unnecessary or just thrown in to create tension — things are getting tough, and it was smart to take a step back to evaluate their feelings and see of they’re strong enough to risk them both getting hurt. Now they know that being apart is too painful, which will hopefully make them that much stronger.
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