Romance Is a Bonus Book: Episode 6
Our heroine’s sweet neighbor is emboldened to start making moves, even as he learns all the ways that Dan-yi is connected to the mystery he hopes to reveal. For our poor lovesick hero, this means taking a backseat to yet another guy in Dan-yi’s life. But while Dan-yi’s love prospects seem to be improving, new obstacles put a damper on her marketing triumph at work.
Dan-yi hides across the street as Hae-rin turns up at Eun-ho’s place after a drink at the office. Hae-rin glances around for signs of Eun-ho’s female housemate before she ducks into his study, while Eun-ho shoots Dan-yi a text to let her know about Hae-rin.
Dan-yi still stands outside the house, though she tells Eun-ho that she’s still at work and that she’ll text when she’s headed home. As Eun-ho prepares tea, Hae-rin tucks an envelope, labeled with the number thirteen, between books on his shelves.
It seems that Hae-rin has been tucking a love letter into Eun-ho’s bookshelf every time that she visits, letters that Eun-ho hasn’t discovered yet. Though as her voiceover narrates the contents of this new letter, it seems that this is the first one where she’s said, “I love you.”
Meanwhile, Dan-yi finds herself at the bus stop with nowhere to go. But the next bus deposits her friendly neighbor Seo-joon in front of her, and the two smile over the coincidence. Seo-joon bought green onions for pancakes since he heard it would rain, and just as he mentions it, the rain begins.
Seo-joon asks Dan-yi to join him for dinner, and then drags her back under the bus stop overhang long enough to secret an umbrella from his bag for the two of them.
Back at chez Eun-ho, Hae-rin digs for more info on his new roommate, but Eun-ho’s not willing to share any details. Hae-rin teases that they should just date each other, and Eun-ho asks her to lean forward for his customary forehead flick punishment. She leans in eagerly, but Eun-ho stops short when he sees the rain, and tells Hae-rin that she should get home, though his thoughts are clearly on Dan-yi.
Dan-yi is safe from the rain though, inside the udon restaurant with Seo-joon. They exchange numbers and finally tell each other their names. Eun-ho passes right by the restaurant as he drops Hae-rin into a taxi. The conversation in the restaurant is warm, until Seo-joon comments on the rain, and Dan-yi recognizes it as a reference to a line in the final book by the author Kang Byeong-jun.
The smile fades from Seo-joon’s face as Dan-yi offers her theories on Kang Byeong-jun. She suggests that the name of his last book, April 23, was a reference to the death anniversaries for Shakespeare and Cervantes. Dan-yi believes that he knew he was going to retire as he wrote the book, and dismisses all of the wild theories about Gyeoroo and the author’s disappearance. Seo-joon gently defends the position and resists all of the explanations Dan-yi offers. He’s surprised to hear that Dan-yi is now an employee at Gyeoroo. He asks if anyone talks about the author, and Dan-yi tells him no, though they’re volunteering at the orphanage where all the book proceeds go to the next day.
The tense moment is interrupted by a call from Eun-ho, offering to pick Dan-yi up. His jealousy flares when he hears Dan-yi ask her neighborhood friend if her little brother can join them, and then his face falls completely when he arrives at the restaurant and spots Seo-joon in the window, a tight sneer-smile on his face.
Across town, Ji-yul and Hoon hide out from the rain in a cafe together. Ji-yul is not impressed by the latest suitors her mother has picked out for her, and as she watches Hoon drink his orange juice, she gets an idea. She calls Mom and reports that she has a boyfriend, named Hoon, so she no longer needs these blind dates. Hoon gasps when he hears his name, but Ji-yul scoffs at him when he asks if she really means to date him, and then promptly drags him along to a movie.
Back at the udon shop booth, Eun-ho blatantly texts Dan-yi to ask what Seo-joon knows. Dan-yi confirms that Seo-joon knows that the two of them live together, and she gasps when Eun-ho reminds her that Seo-joon is the book cover designer they were trying to get for their latest project, all while Seo-joon watches, brow arched. But he says that he doesn’t understand what’s so wrong about siblings working at the same company.
Eun-ho and Seo-joon glare and accuse back and forth, and Seo-joon finally catches on that Dan-yi and Eun-ho aren’t actually siblings. Seo-joon asks them what their relationship is, and states clearly that he’s interested in Dan-yi (squee!) Eun-ho’s frustration simmers on his face as Dan-yi declares him “just a guy I know, it can’t get simpler than that.”
Dan-yi chases behind Eun-ho all the way back home, berating him for his sulky behavior. Eun-ho lets his jealousy lash out, and he points out that Dan-yi just nodded along while a guy she barely knows declared his interest. Dan-yi smugly declares, “I guess I still got it,” but Eun-ho just barrels ahead. He mocks the “Cinderella” storyline when Dan-yi shares how the two met, and really explodes when Dan-yi responds, “We talked about that story already.”
Eun-ho declares that he and Dan-yi are a “we,” not this random guy, and when Dan-yi says that she had nowhere to go while Hae-rin was over, Eun-ho says, “You have me. You keep saying you have nowhere to go. But stop saying that. I’m your home. You can always come to me.”
Dan-yi’s nose wrinkles as she calls Eun-ho corny and pushes past Eun-ho for her room. He tells her that there’s a bag in there, from Na-gyeong. Sigh. Unaware of Eun-ho’s efforts for her, she admires the bag in her room.
Eun-ho brushes his teeth angrily in the bathroom, while he thinks about his moment alone with Seo-joon at the restaurant. After some cagey mentions of their gruff encounter at their previous meeting, Seo-joon makes it very clear that he’s interested in Dan-yi, and that he feels better after seeing that she clearly has no interest in the guy she’s living with. Oof, poor Eun-ho. In a weak effort to stake his claim, Eun-ho puts his arm around Dan-yi and throws his umbrella up over them both, even though it’s clearly no longer raining.
The next day, the Gyeoroo employees volunteer at Sunshine Orphanage. Hae-rin plays the evil step-sister to Ji-yul’s suffering Kong-jwi as they put on a play of Kong-jwi and Pat-jwi (a Korean Cinderella story) for the children. Eun-ho plays the piano and even Dan-yi steps on the stage to play a little bird friend in the play. Meanwhile, some of the guys offer free haircuts, and Jae-min of course hands out free books, all from Gyeoroo.
A young girl looks up as a figure approaches the orphanage. Dyed hair, short skirt, and trendy sunglasses, Yeong-ah looks like she’s returning from a wild evening out. She joins her coworkers as they break down the props and declares that she has divorced her husband and feels free.
Over at the hair cutting station, it seems that Ji-hong is also getting divorced, and he is much more upset about it. Hoon runs over to dish the gossip on Yeong-ah’s announcement, and as the staff members wince, it becomes pretty clear to everyone (except Hoon) that Yeong-ah and Ji-hong are divorcing one another.
The staff take a group photo and head for the bus, except for Jae-min and Eun-ho, who want to say hello to someone.
On the bus, Ji-hong tries to sit next to Yeong-ah, but she turns him away, her previously happy smile no longer in place. Hoon and Ji-yul completely misread the situation, and Hoon suggests that Yeong-ah and Ji-hong are having an affair. The tears finally come for Yeong-ah as she yanks off the wig she’s been wearing, and she sobs the entire ride back.
At the orphanage, Jae-min and Eun-ho stroll into the fields, and we flashback to ten years prior, when Jae-min first brought Eun-ho out here. They approach a tree where Jae-min’s late wife is buried. Jae-min has brought Eun-ho there to sign his official contract to join Gyeoroo, since Jae-min’s wife was Eun-ho’s biggest fan.
Before he signs the contract, Eun-ho hands over a document of his own–Kang Byeong-jun’s declaration of retirement, and all of the copyright ceded to Gyeoroo. Jae-min asks how Eun-ho knows the author, and Eun-ho admits that Kang Byeong-jun is his father.
Back in the present, Jae-min updates his wife on their children and all the latest company gossip, until Eun-ho’s support turns to impatience, ha.
Over at Seo-joon’s place, Geum-bi greets him at the door. Seo-joon has a copy of April 23, and he’s thinking about Dan-yi and her thoughts on the title’s secret meaning.
In the morning, the gift wrap packaging for the new Gyeoroo book is complete, and everyone congratulates one another around the boardroom table. Director Ko’s face remains impassive however, and she calls Eun-ho and Hae-rin into her office. Uh oh.
She notes Dan-yi’s name on the copyright page, credited as the marketing lead, and demands that they remove her name and replace it with the head of marketing, Yeong-ah. Director Ko says that Dan-yi is a task support team member and only supported this task. Hae-rin nods and leaves, but Eun-ho remains behind to stand up for Dan-yi.
He’s respectful as he defends all of Dan-yi’s efforts, but Director Ko points out that this credit line isn’t only for who did the work, but also for who can take responsibility if any issues arise post-launch. The director says that she understands Dan-yi’s desires, but that they are all responsible for their assigned tasks, not whatever they want to do. Eun-ho’s final response is that the company is still made up of people, and that limiting them to only their assigned jobs takes away their opportunities to do more.
In the shared office space, Ji-yul and Hoon congratulate Dan-yi as the first new hire with a credit in a book. Though it obviously hurts, Hae-rin marches past and phones the printer to request the change, and then calls Dan-yi over. Hae-rin stiffly reports the change and then apologizes that it was her mistake. Before Dan-yi can take a moment to process, Director Ko sends her on a delivery across town, one that they usually do by courier.
Dan-yi barely holds the tears in as she walks back home, but then she gets a surprise call from her daughter. Jae-hee’s called to thank Dan-yi for the new dress she sent her (bought with that alimony money), but quickly notices that her mother looks upset. Dan-yi sniffles, and tells Jae-hee that she hopes to be a role model for her, the type of person she can look up to.
A few days later, the book officially launches and the marketing is a success. After only ten days, Eun-ho announces that they’ll start the second printing with a full 10,000 copies this time. As the rest of the office cheers, Dan-yi passes out the mail. When she gets to Director Ko’s office though, she glances at the open notebook and sees that the director really did have the same idea she had for the first marketing idea Dan-yi promoted.
The director finds Dan-yi lingering over her desk, and Dan-yi tells her she sees that Director Ko was telling the truth. Dan-yi tells her that while she understands, she still wants to keep trying new things to challenge herself and grow with the company. She admits that her plan at first was to take the job and leave when another opportunity was available, but now she’s experienced what it’s like to contribute to the success of a good book, and she enjoys contributing to those efforts.
Dan-yi hits the office floor, taking on task after task from her colleagues, and eventually retreating to the break area to make tea. Eun-ho spots her and offers her a gift, a copy of the initial print with Dan-yi’s name still listed as the marketing lead. He tells her that even if the world doesn’t know, he knows that she was in charge of this flawless marketing strategy.
From across the room, Hae-rin spots this friendly exchange between the two and pauses to watch. Dan-yi’s phone rings and it’s Seo-joon, who is near her office and wants to take her out for dinner, their first real planned date. The screen freezes on four panels of each of their faces, only Seo-joon grinning broadly.
I maybe regret my initial assessment of Seo-joon, because that man can disdainfully grimace/smile like no one else. He seemed so bland to me at first, but now even his kind actions seem somehow… calculated? These nuances only make me love him more, since a dull second lead is no fun. And I believe that he genuinely likes Dan-yi for who she is, it’s just that now that he knows that she works at Gyeroo, his motives are suspect in every scene.
But let’s get to my favorite moment of this hour: that kitchen scene following the udon dinner date. That kitchen scene. There were so many feelings exploding all over the place, and Dan-yi just can’t see them. She is in such a different mind set, that these meaningful words blow right past her as corny lines her little brother is tossing at her. The dramatic irony hurts so hard, especially seeing this following Episode 3’s conversation with Na-gyeong and knowing Eun-ho wants to know that Dan-yi feels the same thing before he makes a move.
Eun-ho just wants his chance, and that means maintaining a beautiful snow globe of isolation so that Dan-yi can come around with her own feelings over time. And it definitely doesn’t mean allowing another handsome young man with a dog and a grudge against him waltz in and steal his moments. Lee Jong-seok gives such excellent face, and he is made for scenes like this, where it’s all that’s not being said that matters most.
Will everyone hate me if I kind of agree with Director Ko just a little? Putting Dan-yi’s name down as the sole marketing contact for this book is a little unfair to Dan-yi if something were to go wrong. Would she have to defend herself and her decisions if issues came up post-launch? I can’t help but agree that she shouldn’t be the only name listed, just so if something does come up later, it doesn’t fall on her. But I think Dan-yi’s name could have appeared alongside Yeong-ah’s, so that there was some mentoring in place to protect her. I guess that’s what’s really missing in all this. It’s not that the director is wrong or right, but rather that a little bit of mentoring, rather than rivalry, would have given everyone what they wanted out of the situation.
It didn’t take long to get an answer regarding the mysterious author–Kang Byeong-jun is Eun-ho’s father, that’s easy enough. But obviously, there is so much more going on here. We know that Dan-yi helped care for Eun-ho when his mother passed away, but I don’t think we know the relationship between Eun-ho and his father yet. It seems that for whatever reason, the author’s life was filled with a secret in the end, a secret that Eun-ho knows and protects.
I would be completely happy if this story remained surface level, just two individuals finally figuring out that they love each other. But there are moments spread through these last few episodes that make me suspect a bigger heart, pulsing up from the roots of the tree where Jae-min buried his wife, that will tie everyone together in one big theme. Something about family, and about doing things for the people we love, even when they don’t make business sense, or even if they cause pain to others. We keep seeing all of the characters standing by one another, even when it’s hard. Eun-ho will stay by Dan-yi no matter what, even if she did choose Seo-joon. Jae-min’s pursuit of Eun-ho was to honor his wife even after her passing. Jae-min won’t give up the Kang Byeong-jun secret, even though it hurts the company’s reputation.
So while Eun-ho seems ashamed at times about the secret he’s harboring, I’m willing to agree with Dan-yi and give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to make this theme rise up and resonate with all of the stories they’re telling here, and finally bring Dan-yi and Eun-ho together in a way that’s perfectly satisfying.
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