Romance Is a Bonus Book: Episode 4
Our publishing heroes settle into their new living and working arrangements, and even have time to spend time with some friends, new and old. Dan-yi starts to find stable footing in her work and is even finding those who will encourage her efforts, while Eun-ho harbors secrets, including one that is surprisingly important to a certain book cover designer.
EPISODE 4: “Even If the World Turns Its Back on Me”
It’s a hangover-type morning for Eun-ho, as he wakes up in bed with some hazy recollections of hugging Dan-yi the night before. Eun-ho ducks under the covers as Dan-yi barges in and demands his presence at breakfast. “Did I teach you to get drunk like that?” she asks.
Flashback to Eun-ho’s first drinking excursion with his noona after he turned the legal drinking age. Dan-yi takes him out to a bar where she has a VIP account, and the waitstaff bring out bottle after bottle of alcohol for them to train with.
Dan-yi starts by demonstrating the proper way to open a wine bottle, except it’s not the right way at all. Eun-ho deftly opens the bottle for her and replaces their wine glasses with the correct ones for red wine. Eun-ho drinks down their whiskey as a pro, but it’s when they get to soju bombs that Dan-yi excels. Soon the whole bar is cheering for her as she drinks shot after shot, until Dan-yi stands in the hallway, banging on the men’s bathroom door.
Eun-ho redirects her to the ladies’ room, and when Dan-yi returns, she’s smeared her bright lipstick well off her lips and onto her cheek. “Do I have something on my face?” she asks, and leans in up to Eun-ho’s face. He looks at her a beat before wiping away the smear for her and heading back to the bar.
As Eun-ho tries to cash out, Dan-yi dashes to the front and declares that she will pay for the drinks of the entire bar. Eun-ho grimaces as he reaches back into the sleeve for more money. Once they’re outside, Eun-ho asks Dan-yi why she blew her money like that. Dan-yi replies that the money was from a gross client who groped her during their meeting. Eun-ho offers to find the guy and beat him up, but Dan-yi is just happy to spend the money on a fun night like this.
They rise to head home, and Eun-ho wraps Dan-yi in his jacket. She protests and then chases after Eun-ho, smacking at him with the empty sleeves of the jacket as they laugh.
Back in the present, Dan-yi asks Eun-ho where he went last night after drinking at home. Eun-ho responds vaguely, “where the girl I like lives.” Dan-yi tells him he should have just stayed the night there, and as Dan-yi laments how long it’s been since she’s had sex, Eun-ho’s cheeks redden.
Eun-ho tries to dig for details about his actions after he returned home, and Dan-yi confirms the hug. Dan-yi calls him gross as he spits out his food, ha. After breakfast, Eun-ho tucks Hae-rin’s red bra into a bag to return to her, and of course Dan-yi peeks in. Eun-ho tells her to mind her own business, and Dan-yi nods, even as she pulls Eun-ho’s coffee mug right from his hands and drinks from it herself, haha.
Eun-ho has the chance to return Hae-rin’s clothes to her in the parking lot. She’s surprised, since he previously told her to just leave them there, but Eun-ho tells her she can’t show up drunk at his house anymore, since he’s now living with a woman.
The new book has officially launched, and Dan-yi passes out copies to Gyeoroo employees. For those who know, they can’t help but see Dan-yi’s book blurb on the cover and think of the way that it was taken from her. When Dan-yi delivers Director Ko’s copies, the director tells her that while it might look like she stole from her, she’d actually had the exact same idea herself before the meeting. (Sure…)
Dan-yi holds her ground, and solemnly says that she would have appreciated it then if she’d been told that before the meeting happened. But then Dan-yi says that she’s trying to be understanding. She tells Director Ko that the Inuit don’t have a word for excellence, because nothing can be perfect, just like humans. Dan-yi leaves Director Ko staring after her.
In the afternoon, Eun-ho takes the new recruits to the printers to witness what happens to books that don’t sell. Towering mounds of shredded paper and damaged books surround the group. Eun-ho explains that so much works goes into a book’s production, not just by the author, but the entire production team, but that storing books that don’t sell only costs them money in the end.
Cut the moment when Eun-ho presented a new book, Joys and Sorrows of Work, to Jae-min. He breathed in the smell of a new book and declares to Eun-ho, “We made this.”
Cut to another moment in the past, when one of Gyeoroo’s authors was revealed to have committed sexual assault. Everyone on the team rushed to the warehouse to do damage control, even though it was their day off (Director Ko rushing in with the salon hair drying bag on her head is amazing, ha). Jae-min asks his dream is, and they promptly respond that he wants to make sure the books he makes are read by everyone in the world.
Back in the present, the new hires all suggest ways they could avoid the destruction of all these books. But discounts and donations, there are industry reasons why they all don’t really work. The shop hands over the money they receive in return for the shredded books, and it’s not a lot at all, especially for two truckloads of books. Before they leave, Dan-yi slips a a tattered copy of Joys and Sorrows of Work into her bag.
As they leave, Hae-rin arrives, bag with the red bra inside in her hands, and asks Eun-ho to join her for a visit to her parents for some kimchi. While those two split off, Hoon volunteers to drive everyone else back in the company car.
In the car, Ji-yul muses whether Eun-ho and Hae-rin are dating. Dan-yi is unwilling to contribute to the gossip and Hoon… well, it seems that he just got his driver’s license the day before, and he’s hunched over the steering wheel in concentration as he creeps down the busy street, the other cars on the road honking and swerving around him.
In Eun-ho’s car, Hae-rin pulls up some info on the book cover artist Eun-ho is supposed to recruit. She’s learned that instead of design, Seo-joon attended school for Korean literature, and she managed to get his phone number. Eun-ho groans when he sees the photo and recognizes Seo-joon from the encounter in the bookstore.
While those two debate him, Seo-joon spends his evening painting at his home. His current work is of a very familiar figure standing in the rain as she drinks a bottle of soju.
Back in the company car, Hoon can’t bring himself to switch lanes and take their exit, so he pulls over the side of the road instead. Dan-yi’s license has expired, while Ji-yul is desperate to make her blind date so that her mother will continue to give her an allowance. They all want to flee, but they’re unsure about abandoning the company car.
Cut back to the same scene, and now Hoon looks quite comfy in the driver’s seat, so much so that he lifts his foot up onto the steering wheel to drive. The camera pulls away to reveal the tow truck dragging their car behind it, and they all smile.
Hae-rin’s parents greet Eun-ho warmly when they arrive at the family restaurant. Eun-ho’s so comfortable here, he even gets up to deliver more kimchi to waiting customer, while Hae-rin watches with a smile.
Dan-yi considers the possible relationship between Eun-ho and Hae-rin as she rides the bus home, and gets out an erasable marker and doodles out all of the connections she’s spotted on the window. She assumes that they must have reconciled the night before after a breakup and smiles to herself as she wipes the ink into a smear.
As Dan-yi walks the rest of the way home, a familiar golden retriever off her leash pads up to her. Dan-yi uses her scarf as a makeshift leash as she wonders where “Mr. Umbrella” is. Seo-joon searches the park for his dog, and smiles as he spots Dan-yi with her.
Dan-yi holds out her hand jokingly for reward money, and Seo-joon shoots back that she still hasn’t been by to return his umbrella. As they walk together, Seo-joon asks if Dan-yi has come up with a name for his dog. She names herself as Green Onion, Seo-joon as Mr. Umbrella, and suggests Geum-bi for the goldie, a reference to the rain that fell when the two first met. Dan-yi offers to retrieve Seo-joon’s umbrella, and he suggests joining him for ramyun instead.
Meanwhile, Eun-ho and Hae-rin pack up their kimchi and head towards home. Hae-rin calls her mother silly, but Eun-ho says that he likes her mom because she reminds him of his own mother, even though his mother wasn’t warm-hearted like Hae-rin’s. As they walk, Hae-rin considers slipping her arm through Eun-ho’s, but then she recalls that he’s living with a woman now, and draws back.
As they pass a tonkatsu restaurant, Eun-ho spots a familiar face–Dan-yi’s ex-husband Dong-min. Eun-ho stiffens, and he sends Hae-rin home ahead of him. The smile fades from Dong-min’s face as Eun-ho steps inside. Dong-min tries to explain himself, but Eun-ho’s heard enough, and he grabs the man by the hair and then chases him down in the kitchen.
Dong-min sits at the table, his face bruised and bloodied from Eun-ho’s beating. Eun-ho confirms that Dan-yi only knows that Dong-min was seeing another woman, not that he’s working here, or that the woman he was seeing is now pregnant. Eun-ho demands that Dong-min send Dan-yi child support and alimony, and threatens to become a regular customer if he doesn’t comply.
Eun-ho’s surprised to see Dan-yi hasn’t beaten him home, but it gives him the opportunity to send Dong-min her bank account information for the child support. He looks at her vanity, with the samples of makeup to tide her over, and his sighs when he finds her wedding ring tucked into a drawer.
Meanwhile, Dan-yi’s ramyun date continues, and she spots the painting of her that Seo-joon is working on. She asks if she can have it when he’s done, and he nods. They sit to talk, and Dan-yi’s eyes dart to the digital locks on the door to another room in Seo-joon’s apartment. Seo-joon notices her attention, but Dan-yi says that he doesn’t have to explain anything to her.
Seo-joon points out that they don’t know each others names, but Dan-yi seems more comfortable with their cute, neighborly nicknames for one another. Dan-yi says that knowing each other’s names usually means getting to know more about someone’s past, and she isn’t interested in discussing her past. She’d rather just become good neighbors with one another, and Seo-joon smiles.
Eun-ho isn’t thrilled when Dan-yi reports back from her ramyun date, especially when he hears it was with a man whose name she doesn’t even know. But when Eun-ho tries to explain the nuances of what “stay for ramyun” means, Dan-yi just pouts that she only got to eat ramyun and no one made a move on her. But she tells Eun-ho that she only needs one person in her life who knows her name and all of her past.
Dan-yi retreats to her room, but Eun-ho can’t help but follow. He asks her directly, “The one who knows you so well, it’s me, right?” Dan-yi replies that of course it is, and Eun-ho leaves her room spinning and grinning.
The next day at work, Dan-yi arrives early to clean and then continues her marketing trends research. Yeong-ah takes note, and recommends a good book on social media and marketing. When she asks about Dan-yi’s interest in marketing, Dan-yi almost spills her experience to her, and then instead lies that she used to intern at a big marketing firm.
While Dan-yi gets to work at Gyeoroo, Eun-ho and Jae-min are off to their lunch meeting with Seo-joon. Jae-min thinks he’ll be helpful at this meeting, unaware of who Seo-joon is, and he bets his monthly salary against Eun-ho’s naysaying.
Jae-min’s confidence slides right off his face when he spots Seo-joon across the cafe, and the meeting goes from bad to worse when Seo-joon offers to work for Gyeoroo, but only if they share what really happened to Kang Byeong-jun, the author who disappeared right after leaving all his publishing rights to Gyeoroo.
Jae-min seems apologetic, while Eun-ho turns defensive and forcefully grabs Seo-joon to reject his inquiries. Seo-joon replies that the meeting has been worth it, since now he knows Eun-ho has something to hide about it.
Eun-ho and Jae-min grab drinks after their unsuccessful recruitment efforts. Eun-ho is frustrated with public perception about the whole ordeal, while Jae-min reminds him that it was Author Kang’s books that launched their company. Eun-ho snarls that they give all of the profits from his books to charity. Jae-min apologizes that Eun-ho is the one who has to carry the heavy burden of this. Jae-min asks if he should join Eun-ho to go see Author Kang, and Eun-ho says he plans to go alone.
After drinks Eun-ho pulls over to smoke. He leans against a bridge overpass, a sign pointing to Gapyeong over his shoulder.
At home, Dan-yi signs up for her first social media account, and then notices that Eun-ho hasn’t returned home yet. She shoots him a message as she looks for him at the gate, saying that she’s waiting for him. Eun-ho, who made it home and is sitting in the garden, watches Dan-yi as she wanders through the garden, singing to herself. She turns and spots Eun-ho and joins him to look up at the moon.
He turns to Dan-yi and asks her if she’ll stand by his side, even if the whole world turns against him, and understand that he must have had something he wanted to protect very much. Though Dan-yi doesn’t understand the context, she smiles and nods.Eun-ho asks Dan-yi to sing to him. She sings the song she sang to herself as they gaze up at the moon together.
I will be the first to admit that not a lot of plot happened in this hour, but allow me to also be the one to say that I don’t care at all, because instead we got some amazing moments with great characters. Some have known each other for years, others are just starting to get to know one another, but every moment of this episode was in effort to serve these characters and who they are. And I loved it.
Many dramas struggle when they try to keep the plot pulsing from the very first intriguing moment until the last episode’s final dying gasp. By not offering us much of anything in that realm, this episode instead concentrated on establishing the foundation of these characters and their relationships. I can’t think of a better decision, because when they do finally give us a conflict or some longer plot purpose, we will be so very invested. I’m pretty sure I’m already prepared to fight on behalf of basically everyone at Gyeoroo.
I can’t help but be reminded of one of my all-time favorite Japanese dramas, Long Vacation, from the running in a wedding dress opening to the quirky, domineering way Dan-yi treats her quieter and more refined dongsaeng. Dan-yi doesn’t have as big of a personality as her Japanese counterpart Minami, but she has just enough of that spark and disregard for rules that makes me love her.
Another parallel I see is the way we’ve drawn up a perfect little love cube, where everyone is adorable and wonderful and there are no evil witches or interfering parents, just four people who are trying, but the real romance is super obvious to all of us watching. It’s no one’s fault that Eun-ho’s heart already belongs to another, but it’s his heart’s dedication, not anyone’s ill intents, that is going to cause the most pain.
Although, I do wish the fact that Eun-ho lost his mother wasn’t being added in at certain touching moments, as if it explains his attraction to his noona. I don’t need an excuse for this young man to want an older woman in his life, show! These two have a deep and meaningful relationship, we don’t need any more reason than that.
The more that I see of Eun-ho and Dan-yi, the more that I love them together. I normally love a second lead, but this guy is so perfectly milquetoast, I can really only love him as a neighborhood friend. Meanwhile, Eun-ho and Dan-yi are already casually sharing coffee from the same mug and yelling at each other to remember to wear their slippers. Dan-yi just bulldozes over him sometimes, like any good older sister might, but it also keeps her unfairly ignorant of his feelings for her. It’s my favorite kind of pain, where no one is trying to be malicious, but each casual word from Dan-yi’s mouth can either make or break poor Eun-ho.
This mystery of the disappearing author makes me laugh, and I’m uncertain whether or not it’s going to play out as a real dramatic storyline or the eventual punchline. There’s no reason for me to be invested in it yet, but the characters are so into all the intrigue, like they want to be part of a thriller novel and haven’t been told yet that they are firmly in a rom-com. At first I could only assume that Author Kang had to be someone we’ve already met, but now I’m not so sure.
And milquetoast as he may be most of the time, Seo-joon showed some venom when it came to that meeting with Eun-ho and Jae-min. He’s got locks on his doors and a strange loyalty to this mysterious author, but will his connection be enough for bad behavior? Don’t make me take Geum-bi away from you, Seo-joon. Eun-ho’s involvement in this disappearance is going to have to be real bad for me to switch sides in this romance square.
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