Chocolate: Episode 13
Time away from the city is doing wonders for our characters. It’s opening some doors they never wanted to open, releasing emotions they never wanted to feel, which is exactly what they needed. It could be enough to end a twenty-something-year feud — or enough to start a love from a twenty-something-year crush.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Kang confirms with Cha-young that she was the girl who visited the restaurant all those years ago. When he asks if she remembers him, she slowly nods, and his eyes grow wide. Flustered, she gets up and scurries into the kitchen to wash the dishes. He comes in to take the dishes from her, and the close proximity makes them pause. He then moves past and leans against the sink, his back to hers.
“Why didn’t you come that day?” Kang asks. The question reminds Cha-young of the time she did come back, when Dong-gu told her that Kang had waited for her. She turns to face him and admits that something came up. And seeing his sad expression, she apologizes for not being able to keep her promise. They lock eyes (ah, the tension!), only to turn away again when someone barges in.
It’s Dong-gu’s niece Jung-bok, dressed all pretty for her oppa. She, of course, has to make sure Cha-young isn’t Kang’s girlfriend, and then announces that she had a crush on him growing up. She held back since her uncle liked his mom, but now, she’s starting to get butterflies again. Cha-young turns to walk out, only to freeze when Kang says, “There’s someone I like.”
Jung-bok, though a little pouty, is okay with being rejected. Still, she suggests that before he leave, he visit Bada — his dog San’s grandpup. She takes them over to her home, where Kang meets the very old and sick Bada. Looking at the poor pup, Kang remembers San and how much he wanted to stay with her. Bada, Jung-bok explains, hasn’t left Dong-gu’s blanket or drinken any water since Dong-gu passed. Overhearing this, Cha-young sneaks off to the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Joon tries to get ahold of Kang, to no avail. He decides to drive over to Wando, and somewhere along the way, he gets a call from his mom. She asks where he is, confused to hear that he’s going to see Kang. When she asks why, Joon merely states, “Because I miss him.”
Kang calls Director Kwon to ask for a few more days off. After hanging up, he’s surprised to find Bada happily slurping some water while Cha-young watches. She tells him that it’s dried pollack broth, something she used to give her family dog when it lost its appetite.
Hearts in his eyes, he watches as she coos praises to Bada. He says he’ll be staying for a while, unable to leave Bada when he’s suffering, and she reassures him that she can take the bus home the following day. He asks, almost to himself, if it would be selfish of him to ask her to stay a little longer.
Cha-young fixes Bada a proper meal, and Kang interrupts to apologize for his request. He tells her to take his car instead of the bus, but she just answers, “I’ll keep my promise of going back with you. Since I couldn’t keep my promise for the chocolate truffles.” She repeats what he said, that she can’t leave someone when they’re suffering.
They finally get Bada eating, and they’re able to smile again. Later, Kang thanks her for staying; he would’ve cried if she left. There’s a beat of awkward silence, which is then interrupted by Kang’s phone ringing.
It’s a video call from Tae-hyun, who would like to know why his sister isn’t home yet. He starts pounding them with questions, like why they’re not in a hotel, and Cha-young hilariously grabs the phone and yells at him to leave them alone. Even Kang can’t help laughing as she regains composure and politely hands his phone back.
That night, Kang lies with Bada and tells him to have sweet dreams. He promises to see him in the morning with Cha-young. In the next room, Cha-young sees a framed photo of young Kang with his mom and Dong-gu. She smiles at the photo and says, “I’m glad we got to meet again, kiddo.”
The next day, at the hospice, the nurses put up a bulletin board labeled “Bits and Pieces of Our Memories.” On it are pictures of past patients, like Ji-yong and the jjajangmyeon grandpa, with loving notes from the staff. And oh no… there’s a picture of Michael with his moms, as well as a picture of Ye-sol’s parents’ wedding.
But, aw, in the wedding picture, we see that Ye-sol’s prickly grandfather actually came. Young-shil smiles up at the bulletin board and says farewell to Ye-sol’s mom. Young-shil then heads over to Michael’s room, where Susan is packing up. She puts on a smile and tells Susan that Kang left her with a quiz.
Young-shil leads Susan over to the kitchen, telling her Michael’s story about the sujebi-like dish. Someone prepared four contenders for Susan to try, which just touches her heart. She immediately recognizes it as dish number four — the ongsimi — and smiles through tears as she eats it.
Afterwards, Young-shil calls the mystery chef, who happens to be Michael’s mom, and tells her that Susan enjoyed the meal. And as always, Mom scoffs over Susan’s kindness and goes about her business.
Back at Wando, Kang goes into Bada’s room to take him on a morning walk. But his smile falls to see that Bada is no longer breathing. (Nooo! Not the puppy!) He wraps Bada in his favorite blanket and takes him outside, just as Cha-young comes out. Saddened, she puts a hand over the dog.
Cha-young quietly says goodbye to Bada, grateful to have met him, and Kang watches, looking like he might pass out from grief and exhaustion.
We catch up with Joon, who’s sleeping in his car just outside of Kang’s mom’s restaurant. He’s jolted awake when Jung-bok comes ’round and knocks on his window, gesturing for him to get out. He explains that he’s looking for Kang, so she directs him to her house.
Kang and Cha-young are already gone, so Jung-bok assumes that they took Bada out on a walk. Jung-bok and Joon sit down to wait, when Joon gets a call from his dad. Seung-hoon demands to know why Joon suddenly wanted to see Kang, but Joon doesn’t know either.
“Maybe I’ve gone crazy,” Joon says. He hangs up and turns to Jung-bok, asking her if he looks crazy. He doesn’t understand why he’s acting this way when he’d been fine before. Jung-bok is confused by the question, so Joon gets up and decides to go exploring. She watches him leave, muttering that he’s totally her type, heh.
Seung-hoon, already upset from his phone call with Joon, is annoyed when Director Kwon is late to their meetup. He leaves Kwon’s office and makes a beeline to his car, only to stop when he notices Seon-ae picking flowers.
Recognizing her as Kwon’s ex-wife, he goes up to her and asks if she remembers him. Ignoring her silence, he then asks how her siblings are doing after she used Kwon’s money for their education. He goes on and on about her failed marriage, making her super uncomfortable, until Kwon shows up and grabs him by his lapels.
Seung-hoon struggles to get free, calling Kwon a pushover. “That’s why tramps like her — ” Before Seung-hoon can finish the sentence, Kwon punches him to the ground. Seung-hoon jumps right back up and punches Kwon, and Seon-ae screams.
Seon-ae holds Kwon back, not wanting a full out fight. She cries, “It’s all my fault! I’ll disappear right away, so please don’t do this.” Now thoroughly pissed off, Seung-hoon threatens to tell his mommy on Kwon and stalks off.
As Seon-ae sobs, Kwon relaxes in her arms. He gently releases her hold on him and, neither of them uttering another word, coolly walks back inside. It’s only when he reaches his office that he allows his emotions to flood out.
Kang and Cha-young are at Dong-gu’s grave, burying Bada in a smaller grave next to it. Cha-young reassures Kang that Dong-gu won’t be lonely anymore, but he seems too out of it to hear her. She asks if he’s okay, and he shuts his eyes, saying, “I just keep feeling sleepy. What’s wrong with me?”
Having nowhere else to go, Seung-hoon visits Grandma (who’s still unconscious) in the hospital. And instead of tattling on Kwon, he decides to tell her a secret — that he was genuinely sad when brother Jae-hoon passed away. But at the same time, he was relieved, because it took a weight off his shoulders.
Seung-hoon starts to say that he’s feeling that same sadness these days, when Seo-hoon walks in. Seo-hoon begs Grandma to let her control the hospital instead of Hye-mi, causing a fight between her and Seung-hoon. As the siblings go at it, Grandma opens her eyes and silently watches them.
And speak of the devil. Hye-mi is taking charge at Geosung, clearly enjoying every minute of it. She’s frustrated, however, to see that Joon isn’t answering any of her calls. We see that Joon is back at Jung-bok’s house, still waiting on Kang.
After some time, Kang and Cha-young finally arrive. Kang is too tired to greet Joon, much less talk to him, so he trudges past and escapes to his room to lie down. Cha-young notes that Kang must’ve been feeling tired since leaving Wando Island as a child.
Still, Joon can’t just leave Kang alone. He enters Kang’s room, looking tired himself, and tells Kang to go back to Seoul with him. When Kang is unresponsive, Joon pulls him up and continues that he shouldn’t be sleeping — not yet.
Kang slowly turns to face him, and Joon is taken aback by his tears. “You should’ve left us alone,” Kang says, his voice shaking. “So that we could live here. I just wanted to live a happy life with Mom, [Dong-gu], and San.”
Joon retreats, letting Kang fall back to the floor. He wanders over to the ocean, where he opens his phone to a text: his mom has officially been appointed as chairwoman. He sighs, even more conflicted.
Back at the house, Cha-young finds Kang asleep and drapes a blanket over him. She lies next to him, staring at his face with a small smile. Then, she closes her eyes and drifts off to sleep too. The day goes on, and Kang opens his eyes, seeing Cha-young, only to shut them again.
At the hospice, a young girl, who I’m guessing is the new chef, enters the kitchen with film equipment. She goes live and introduces herself as Hee-na (cameo by Yoon Bo-ra) before munching on snacks for her ASMR audience.
Tae-hyun sneaks in from the back and, him being him, has to wave and dance to the camera. He startles Hee-na but keeps dancing for the viewers. All righty then…
Cha-young joins Joon out by the water and asks him if he thinks it’s possible to climb a mountain with one leg. She says that Kang has been doing that all this time, so she’d like to try as well. Joon glances at her and says matter-of-factly, “Thank goodness Kang has you by his side.”
I second Joon’s thoughts, as Cha-young heads over to the restaurant and prepares a meal for Kang. Remembering her time as a chef in Greece, she looks down at her cooking. She tries to take in the scent, and though she still can’t, she smiles. “I know what you taste and smell like,” she tells her food. “I can imagine it.”
Meanwhile, Joon finally comes to a decision and calls his dad. Kang’s tearfilled eyes in mind, he tells his dad that they need to talk about the family when he gets back.
It’s almost dark by the time Kang wakes up. Once he’s showered and looking a lot better, he finds Cha-young sitting on a dock and joins her. Cha-young thinks aloud that they’ve done more than enough sleeping while on the island, and Kang agrees. So she smiles at him and suggests they go eat.
Something settles in Kang; he narrates to Min-sung that he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Cha-young since she re-entered his life. And now, after he’s tried his best, he’s tired of pushing her away.
Though Kang feels sorry toward his friend, he narrates that he’s going to follow his heart from now on. With that, he takes Cha-young’s arm to stop her from walking away. “Can you not go to Greece?” he asks, surprising her.
“Can I… like you?”
YES. YES, LEE KANG, YOU CAN LIKE HER. Oh my lord, I’ve been waiting forever for this to happen. Don’t get me wrong — I was doing fine with the slow burn romance. But the last few episodes, the tension between our couple was just driving me crazy. This episode really heightened that tension, with Cha-young’s identity finally out and Kang’s feelings hinted here and there. So to hear the words “I like you” come out of his mouth was as satisfying as a box of Godiva chocolates. That alone was enough to make this my favorite hour of the series. Still, there was plenty more goodness that I can’t wait to discuss.
With the romance picking up, so is the corporate tension. Hye-mi has full control now, and I’m not sure if it that’s worse than Grandma being in control. I’m gonna say a big fat yes, because Hye-mi has more reason to hurt Kang. Now that Joon knows what’s going on — now that he’s finally opened his eyes — he seems to be showing fear for his cousin, and for good reason. I hope that the next time his family tries to break Kang down, he doesn’t sit back and watch like he did when they were kids. He’s better than that, better than them. While I’m glad that Kang acted on his feelings, I’m ten times more ecstatic that Joon is starting to act on his.
The moment between Kang and Joon was truly heartbreaking. Joon has always been pushing for Kang to do his best so that Joon can win at a fair fight. But it’s only now starting to sink in that Kang never wanted to fight. He never wanted this life. And it’s taken him a long time to realize this, but Joon doesn’t want to fight either. When you really think about it, no one in this drama does. Even Seung-hoon, who was the biggest prick to most all of our characters, admitted to his mother that the whole family feud is wearing him down. If he and Hye-mi weren’t so close-minded, they could find the kind of peace that Joon is looking to get.
Exhaustion was a major theme in this episode, and really, in the entire drama so far. And I never realized until now, but the theme pours out of the hospice too. All the patients we came to know and love were probably exhausted fighting for their lives on a daily basis. Cha-young has been tired of all the things trying to break her down, and Director Kwon and Seon-ae have been tired of what’s turned into an ambiguous relationship. But everyone keeps fighting against their sleepiness, Kang included. After what happened with the dog Bada (curse you, Show, for exploiting my weakness), I wanted to lie down and sleep myself. Kang has had quite the journey, and returning to his hometown helped him see all the things he left behind along the way. He lost almost everything from his Wando roots, from Mom to Dong-gu to the pups. It sucks, but it’s also making him pause for the first time since Mom’s death.
The last scene is a total game changer, because Kang is finally fighting — for something he wants. He still feels guilty towards Min-sung, and he may feel that way for a while, which is understandable. If that feeling comes to be a problem, I’d like to see Cha-young give him the note Min-sung left her. Kang and Min-sung loved each other so much, and I wouldn’t want Kang thinking he betrayed his best friend when that wasn’t at all what he was doing. As he was asking Cha-young if he could like her, it was like he was also asking if he could be happy. That brought me back to Ji-yong and Min-yong telling Kang to eat the Quiznos sandwiches to find happiness, when Kang himself didn’t get what was standing in the way of that. Perhaps Cha-young was Kang’s Quiznos sandwich all along. (God, that’s the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written.) And perhaps, after re-introducing happiness into his life, he’ll eventually re-introduce chocolate into his diet.
- Premiere Watch: People With Flaws, Chocolate
- Yoon Kye-sang and Ha Ji-won begin a romantic journey in Greece for JTBC’s Chocolate
- First teaser for JTBC’s Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Jang Seung-jo confirms JTBC drama Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang up for JTBC melo Chocolate