Romance Is a Bonus Book: Episode 5
Our heroine picks up steam around the office and shows the resident “fussy witch” that she’s not giving up or giving in. That’s not to say there aren’t hiccups along the way, but Dan-yi’s perseverance and positive attitude have a way of drawing support from those around her.
EPISODE 5: “I’m Curious About My Feelings, Too”
Gyeoroo Publishing encourages all employees to participate in marketing via social media. Dan-yi posts about the books getting shredded and vows to work hard so as not to be ashamed when she looks at trees. Thinking of the night before, Eun-ho writes a quote about the moon, while Hae-rin corrects everyone else’s grammar. President Kim contributes with his cringeworthy dramatic flair, resulting in everyone blocking him. Meanwhile, Director Ko boasts a refined lifestyle despite her messy apartment.
Taking note of an upcoming marketing meeting, Dan-yi gets a copy of the book from Eun-ho so she can come up with ideas. Eun-ho is surprised she’s willing to try again after Director Ko burned her last time, but Dan-yi insists she’s not afraid.
Director Ko meets with some friends and despite her disinterested expression, rubs her ring finger as the women chatter about their families. The women suddenly halt their conversation, pointedly declaring it rude to talk about husbands and children when Director Ko has neither.
The jab is not lost on Director Ko, who points out with three houses and a prestigious job, she has no need to feel jealous. As she saunters off to pay the bill, the other women huff and vow not to invite her anymore.
Meanwhile, Dan-yi pesters Eun-ho to give her some hints over PPL Subway sandwiches, and pouts when he calls that cheating.
As she finishes setting up for the meeting, Dan-yi receives a text from Eun-ho. He tells her that while Team Leader Seo is in charge of marketing, Director Ko started out as a marketer and as such the women often clash. Eun-ho advises Dan-yi to strike when the battle reaches its boiling point.
As the team members file into the meeting, Dan-yi stops Director Ko to ask if she can sit in, suggesting the experience will help her assist everyone better. Director Ko starts to protest, but President Kim overhears and allows it.
The meeting kicks off to inquiries about recruiting Seo-joon. Eun-ho admits it was a bust and everyone assumes President Kim’s extravagant personality is to blame. At the same time, Seo-joon is at the bookstore purchasing severely damaged books to keep them from being shredded. As he’s leaving, he overhears some customers complaining about Gyeoroo’s success after gaining the missing writer’s publishing rights.
President Kim and Eun-ho are tight-lipped about why the meeting with Seo-joon went awry, so discussion shifts to the number of copies to publish. Without Seo-joon’s cover design to bolster sales, the initial plan for 10,000 copies is cut in half. Rookie Ji-yul interrupts to clarify what they’re talking about and her ignorance raises eyebrows.
Looking at Eun-ho, President Kim wonders who hired her and is taken aback when Eun-ho silently responds that it was President Kim’s decision. Stunned, he mentally questions if Eun-ho can hear his thoughts (aww, I Hear Your Voice references!), but Eun-ho ignores him and brings the meeting back to order.
The marketing team wants to promote the book with a web comic summary of the plot, but Director Ko instantly shoots it down, pointing out it’ll take too much time. Instead, she wants to focus on online marketing, but Team Leader Seo argues that it’s risky to ignore offline marketing.
The fighting escalates and President Kim asks if anyone else has a suggestion. Dan-yi chimes in, much to Director Ko’s chagrin. Eun-ho suggests they hear her out, and Dan-yi pulls up a presentation on the projector.
She points out that there’s a fine line between over-marketing and making people sick of the book, and under-marketing where everyone forgets about it. Since the author is an unknown rookie and they don’t have a clear selling point, Dan-yi suggests creating intrigue by keeping those things a mystery.
By wrapping the book and not revealing the author, title, nor the plot synopsis, Dan-yi wants to create the feeling of buying a gift for oneself. Director Ko disagrees that anyone would buy something without knowing what it is, and Eun-ho points out they’ll know it’s a book. Hee.
President Kim likes the confident message of releasing something without revealing anything. Since people don’t know the author and they can easily remove the wrapping if the idea flops, it’s a low-risk endeavor with a potential to be reused on future releases if it succeeds. President Kim assigns the planning to Hae-rin and Dan-yi and ends the meeting. Everyone congratulates Dan-yi, save for Director Ko, who slams her books on her desk upon returning to her office.
That evening, Hae-rin runs into Eun-ho at the company library and excitedly discusses the new project. He smiles as she praises Dan-yi’s presentation and motions for her to come closer. Hae-rin braces herself to get flicked on the forehead, but Eun-ho just ruffles her hair.
“You’re pretty amazing,” he tells her, referring to her push to publish this book despite Eun-ho’s reservations about the author’s lack of foundation. As a reward, Eun-ho agrees to buy her dinner and Hae-rin excitedly chooses a place.
As he gathers his things, Eun-ho receives a text fro Dan-yi, asking if he’ll be home late. She’s planning to get dinner and offers to bring him some, but Eun-ho tells her to wait and he’ll join her.
He finds Hae-rin already waiting at his car and asks for a rain check, admitting something came up. Hiding her disappointment, Hae-rin sends him off before returning to the office.
At the restaurant, Dan-yi gushes how happy she is to eat out after work and asks Eun-ho about Hae-rin. He describes her as competent and one who separates business and personal life. Dan-yi points out Hae-rin’s stern handling of Ji-yul and Eun-ho remarks she’s lucky to have Hae-rin’ns guidance.
Dan-yi guesses Eun-ho is dating Hae-rin, citing the red bra, but Eun-ho easily denies it. Dan-yi’s theories about Eun-ho’s love life fall apart and she wonders where he goes when he’s drunk and why Hae-rin’s clothes were at his house.
Eun-ho explains Hae-rin shows up at his place whenever she’s drunk to vent about work and boyfriends. “To her, I’m just a senior at work whom she respects,” he says, “And to me, she’s just a cute junior.” Dan-yi accepts his explanation and Eun-ho adds that she should mind her own business since she doesn’t care about his love life, anyhow.
Eun-ho goes to pay the bill and the owner guesses that Eun-ho and Dan-yi must be siblings (after hearing Eun-ho address Dan-yi as “noona”), admitting she’d thought they were dating since they’re so close. Eun-ho replies that they aren’t siblings, turning and calling Dan-yi by her first name on his way out.
Dan-yi checks her bank account on the way home and balks to find a deposit from her Dong-min. Eun-ho innocently guesses it’s alimony, and asks if Dong-min didn’t call. Dan-yi grumbles that he won’t even call their daughter.
There is, however, an email claiming things have been hectic and the money is her alimony. Dan-yi guesses he must feel sorry towards their daughter, and Eun-ho asks why Dan-yi fell in love with him in the first place. Dan-yi admits even she isn’t sure.
Dan-yi “I don’t think I’ve ever thought about love in-depth. From the moment I met him, he was fun to be around, and he was good to me. Back then, I was foolish enough to think that was love.”
Dan-yi tells Eun-ho that now it seems boring, but at least her feelings were sincere. Eun-ho concludes that she’s never actually been in love and Dan-yi says that it doesn’t matter since “It’s all over for me now.”
Changing the subject, Dan-yi suggests they go somewhere for the weekend since she got paid. Cue the cutest date ever as Eun-ho easily slips his hand into Dan-yi’s as they walk the streets. After visiting a food stall, they take a break at a pub and Dan-yi wins at darts. Next they catch a performance at a swanky jazz club where Eun-ho knows the pianist, until finally stopping to watch a street performance on the way home.
Eun-ho notices Dan-yi rubbing her hands together and slips one into his pocket. Her hand is still there as they walk home and Dan-yi declares she wants to buy Eun-ho a gift with her paycheck, urging him to think of something nice.
Eun-ho recalls Dan-yi bought him a coat with her very first paycheck, asking why she did that. Dan-yi doesn’t understand his question, pointing out it was natural to give him a coat when it was cold. Eun-ho argues that other people were cold, wanting to know why she gave him one specifically.
Dan-yi repeats her answer. Annoyed, Eun-ho drops her hand and tells her to forget it. “You know,” she tells him, “there are times when you act like a wacko.” Eun-ho agrees and Dan-yi wonders if he’s drunk. She asks if he’ll go the the house of the girl he likes again and wants to know who it is, if not Hae-rin.
Eun-ho snaps she doesn’t know the girl and Dan-yi whines that he’s ruining a nice day by picking a fight. Eun-ho pouts that she’s the one that ruined it. Dan-yi snatches up his hand with a smile and when Eun-ho asks why, Dan-yi points out they’ve been holding hands nearly all day.
The next day, Hae-rin looks over the proofreading she’d assigned Ji-yul and slams the document onto her desk. Hae-rin demands to know why Ji-yul used whiteout to edit the manuscript and Ji-yul squeaks that she thought it would look nicer. Ji-hong and Eun-ho jump to diffuse the situation. Unfortunately, just then a new chair is delivered to Ji-yul’s desk from her mother.
With a sigh, Hae-rin calls Dan-yi for a planning meeting. The two women find they share similar ideas and get along easily. Director Ko sees them laughing together as she walks by and immediately afterwards calls Dan-yi into her office. She reminds Dan-yi to focus on her real job (as a Task Force member) and sends her to do errands… and then more errands, calling constantly to assign more tasks.
Dan-yi’s phone buzzes and she takes a deep calming breath, reminding herself that she’s not a troublemaker anymore. Luckily, it’s only a message from Hae-rin about their project and Dan-yi smiles. She sends a reply just as her phone rings with yet another call from Director Ko.
The next day, Dan-yi and Hae-rin are discussing how to wrap the books when a fax comes in from the book’s author, Park Jeong-sik, terminating his contract. Dan-yi brings the fax to Eun-ho and he runs out with her and Hae-rin to meet Writer Park directly. The rest of the office is outraged and Director Ko snidely remarks that maybe he didn’t like their marketing plan.
In the car, Dan-yi asks what this means and Eun-ho and Hae-rin explain that it puts them in a tight spot, since they can’t ask the writer to pay back the resources they’ve already invested, nor can they cancel the publishing. The only solution is to change the author’s mind.
The arrive at a cabin and Hae-rin leaps out of the car, Eun-ho right on her heels. Dan-yi pleads with them to calm down as Hae-rin beats on the door, screaming for Writer Park to open up. Eun-ho lets her go but when Hae-rin starts kicking the door, Dan-yi pulls them both away to attempt a gentle approach. The owner appears to tell them no one is home and Eun-ho admits to Dan-yi he already knew since there was no car when they pulled up. Hee.
The owner doesn’t know when Writer Park will be back, so the trio take turns snapping photos and texting Writer Park that they’re waiting for him. When night falls and the three are shivering in front of a fire, the owner reminds them they could come inside, but Hae-rin makes him swear to tell Writer Park they waited all night in the cold.
Dan-yi wonders aloud if all authors are crazy, or just this one and it’s at that moment Writer Park arrives. Despite the frantic pleas of the trio, Writer Park locks himself into his cabin and they’re forced to spend the night in the car. The following morning, they wake just in time to catch Writer Park speeding away.
They wait at a nearby cafe, in hopes that Writer Park will agree to show up. Eun-ho answers a call from President Kim and steps outside to answer it just as Writer Park walks up. Although he addresses the president, Eun-ho speaks to Writer Park, revealing that he too was nervous when his first book was published, worried that his talent wasn’t enough.
President Kim snaps that he called to talk about their sales figures, but Eun-ho hangs up. Writer Park agrees that had been worrying his novel was garbage and would be twice the disappointment when marketed as a “gift to oneself.”
Eun-ho tells him bluntly that it’s unlikely the book will sell more than 3,000 copies. Writer Park laughs that if it’s only 3,000 people reading, he can write whatever and the humiliation will be minimal before it’s forgotten. “However,” Eun-ho continues, “we’re enamored by your writing, so we’ll do our best to sell it.”
Writer Park thanks him, and says that he needs to apologize to Hae-rin, who supported him, and Dan-yi, whose words comforted him. A flashback reveals that last night while Eun-ho and Hae-rin slept, Dan-yi knocked on the cabin door. Although Writer Park didn’t answer, Dan-yi told him how she quit her job to raise her child. After a 7 year break, she thought that she could do her best for anyone that hired her.
But upon finally getting hired by Gyeoroo, she worried whether she could do well. Those fears disappeared as soon as she started working, however, and she was only left with the will to do better. She told him his book was truly great and that she wanted it to be published so many people could read it.
Writer Park had then opened the door and asked Dan-yi to explain exactly what she liked about the book. In the present, he tells Eun-ho that Dan-yi had actually read his book many times and had memorized her favorite quotes. It inspired him to get a haircut this morning and return with a fresh mindset.
Driving back, Eun-ho smiles as he watches Dan-yi sleep on Hae-rin’s shoulder in the rearview mirror.
Dan-yi and Hae-rin sit alone in the office, marveling at the now published book. Hae-rin wants to celebrate and Dan-yi pulls out her phone for a picture, while Hae-rin retrieves some drinks from her secret stash.
Eun-ho sees the picture Dan-yi posts of the celebration and smiles. He’s at his ex-girlfriend’s shop to pick up a purse for Dan-yi. She sighs that he was always busy when they dated, but he ran over when he heard she had the bag. Eun-ho claims he was in the area, but his ex is no fool and urges Eun-ho to just tell Dan-yi that he likes her.
Meanwhile, Dan-yi observes that Hae-rin really loves her job. Hae-rin laughs that since she’s unlucky in love, she’s poured everything into work. Dan-yi doesn’t believe it, thinking Hae-rin worthy of nabbing any man she chooses, but Hae-rin sighs that the guy she likes doesn’t even know she likes him, let alone returns her feelings.
At the shop, Eun-ho doesn’t respond. “You love Dan-yi,” his ex repeats, “Am I wrong?” Eun-ho agrees that thinks he does. Hae-rin tells Dan-yi the guy she likes goes over to a woman’s house every time he drinks, because he misses her and Dan-yi realizes she’s talking about Eun-ho. Hae-rin continues that’s why she started going to Eun-ho’s when she’s drunk, hoping to convey her feelings through the gesture.
Eun-ho tells his ex that he’s happy when Dan-yi smiles, and his heart breaks when she cries. “I miss her when she’s not with me,” he says, “If that’s love, I guess I love her then.” However, Eun-ho continues, he’s unsure whether that feeling is as a friend or as a man.
His ex notes his caution is out-of-character, and Eun-ho agrees. He wants to be absolutely sure of his feelings, as well as Dan-yi’s, and wants to wait for the day she feels the same as him. “She’s not someone I can easily date and break up with. To me, Dan-yi is that important to me.”
That night, Eun-ho waits for Dan-yi to return home, but when she gets there, Hae-rin is already standing outside the gate. Dan-yi ducks quickly out of sight as Hae-rin rings the bell and Eun-ho lets her in. Unable to return home, Dan-yi sits at the bus stop, sighing she has nowhere to go again, just as Seo-joon steps off the bus and greets her cheerfully.
Ah, the impeccable timing of the second lead unicorn! We better start seeing more of Seo-joon soon if he’s supposed to have any sort of meaningful impact beyond convenient plot facilitation. He pops up so briefly, introduces a few mysteries, throws his adorable smile around, and then we don’t see him again until the next episode. I like Seo-joon, but it’s such a mild feeling that I feel disappointed. This show has been so great with fleshing out its side characters as well as the leads, that it feels Seo-joon is the only one left out. I’m sure it’s an attempt to fuel the mystery with his locked doors and the missing author, but at this point, I want answers solely because questions were posed, rather than actually caring why. It’s almost like a different drama bleeding in because none of those things have a significant impact on the main story just yet. The company can survive without Seo-joon’s talents, Eun-ho isn’t even aware of the connection with Dan-yi for jealousy antics–nor are her feelings towards Seo-joon anything to be jealous about–and the missing author is such a background feature that I literally need reminders like the gossip at the bookstore to even think about it.
I have such mixed feelings about Director Ko. I don’t like that she bullies Dan-yi. It’s a petty reaction to her own insecurities, but I appreciate that hole in Director Ko’s armor. It’s proof that in the end she’s not a robot and has feelings just like everyone else, despite her best efforts to hide them. Having chosen to give up personal relationships in pursuit of her career, it’s understandable Director Ko would be uncomfortable with Dan-yi, who is achieving success in both. For Director Ko, it’s one or the other, and yet Dan-yi is forging relationships with her colleagues as well as proving herself capable of inventive work contributions. Dan-yi contradicts Director Ko’s carefully crafted worldview, and as we saw when she met up with her “friends,” Director Ko relies on that belief to reassure herself that her life is just as meaningful as those around her. This hour we were given more glimpses into Director Ko’s true personality. She’s awkward and lonely and sees her work as her only validation. When the other women chatted about their husbands and children, Director Ko was painfully aware for her bare ring finger. The way that the women backhandedly rubbed it in was their insecurities towards Director Ko’s success and her retaliation only completed the vicious cycle. This psychology also explains why she’d be driven to take the credit for Dan-yi’s idea. In her mind, she has to constantly maintain this perfectionist persona she’s created for fear of losing the only thing she feels identifies her. I may not like her actions, but I can at least understand Director Ko’s motivations and that makes me so hopeful for her growth into realizing that she doesn’t have to be the best in order to matter.
Like episode 4, I feel like not a lot happened plot-wise, but you’ll never hear me complain about character-driven episodes when they’re done so well. Hae-rin is fast becoming my favorite character and I’m finding myself even more invested in the friendship blossoming between her and Dan-yi than the romance. Because while I’m looking forward to Eun-ho and Dan-yi’s progress, I would still be perfectly happy if they remained friends that are closer than siblings, but less than lovers. On the other hand, I’m going to be heartbroken if Dan-yi and Hae-rin are put at odds over their relationships with Eun-ho. It’s a tough dynamic because at the end of the day, no one is at fault. Hae-rin’s crush on Eun-ho is totally valid, but in no way can compete with Eun-ho’s decades of devotion towards Dan-yi. So strong are his feelings, he can’t even recognize Hae-rin’s hints. Meanwhile, Dan-yi is privy to both ends of that crush and when she realizes that Eun-ho’s affections lie with her (and that she could possibly be in love with him), it’s going to be problematic.It’s possible Dan-yi might try to step aside, both because she likes Hae-rin and she thinks herself past the point of love–but even if she chooses to follow her own heart, it’s an unfortunate situation because not everyone can be happy. Whatever the romantic outcome, there will be collateral damage.
But speaking of the romance, we had a bit more development and I appreciate how naturally it’s playing out. Eun-ho’s confession to his ex was so bittersweet because he knows he loves Dan-yi, but is unsure in what capacity. She’s always been the one person he couldn’t stand to lose and that explains why he’s never dared to cross the line before. It makes sense to me now, why Eun-ho didn’t say anything, even after Dan-yi ran away from her wedding. Eun-ho loves Dan-yi more than anything or anyone and is petrified of upsetting that balance. Because if his feelings aren’t romantic or Dan-yi doesn’t feel the same way, they’d never be able to regain their current close relationship.
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