Wish Upon a Star: Episode 11
There are big movements in most of the relationships, and we also find out what the big deal about Kang-ha’s pained past is. (And it actually makes pretty good sense.) Or at least, we find out about the childhood part of it; his past romantic issue is hinted at but not yet revealed.
SONG OF THE DAY
C.N. Blue – “Love Revolution” [ Download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Tae-kyu proposes, saying that although he may be foolish, “This is something I’m sure of.” The main characters tense in anticipation while the bar patrons cheer for Pal-gang to accept. She looks back and sees Kang-ha looking at her intently.
She tells Tae-kyu gently, “You’re the most fun and nice person I know.” His broad smile starts to fade as she continues, “But I can’t marry you. I’m sorry, Tae-kyu.” She gets up and leaves the bar, stopping only briefly to nod to Jae-young.
After her exit, Kang-ha regains some of his senses and takes his seat. Jun-ha looks at him knowingly, while Tae-kyu cries and drinks.
Pal-gang walks home, feeling sorry for hurting Tae-kyu’s feelings. She’s grateful to him for making her old fantasy — the romantic proposal — real for a moment, but that makes her even sorrier for declining.
Kang-ha gets up and leaves the table first. As he is being driven home, he sees Pal-gang walking on the sidewalk and asks the driver to pull over. He watches her walking for a few moments, but changes his mind and tells the driver to continue.
He therefore arrives home first, and when Pal-gang steps inside, he stares at her without saying anything. She mumbles a general greeting, then heads slowly for her room. It’s like Kang-ha wants to say something but doesn’t know what, and the words come to him a few moments too late, after she’s gone. He catches himself and holds back the thought.
This isn’t a feeling he can easily shake off, and he frowns with great frustration at the memory of the proposal. Jun-ha finds him in his room to report that Tae-kyu is still intent on winning Pal-gang over.
Kang-ha asks, “Do you really think she’s a good match for him?” It seems Jun-ha was expecting this response, or at least that Kang-ha’s reaction confirms his suspicions. He answers that Tae-kyu is better than “someone else I know.” Kang-ha asks what that means, and Jun-ha clarifies, “There was someone who was nervous that she would take Tae-kyu’s ring.”
Being sharp, both brothers know exactly what he means by that. Kang-ha’s hand clenches tightly, but when he faces his brother, he forces a smirk. Jun-ha doesn’t look fooled and merely raises his eyebrows skeptically (ugh — such a great love-to-hate-him moment there).
Jun-ha finds Pal-gang in the kitchen and asks if she really doesn’t feel anything for Tae-kyu. She answers, “Tae-kyu is like Ju-hwang to me. I think of him as a little brother.”
Jun-ha’s response seems calculated (to us, not to Pal-gang) as he asks meaningfully, “Then what about me? Do you just think of me as an older brother?” She’s a little puzzled, not sure whether to take him at face value. Jun-ha affects a serious demeanor and adds, “If that’s not the case, I have a chance. Then… I’m thinking of giving it a try.”
(The reason I call Jun-ha’s behavior calculated and affected is because he seems rather shifty all episode long, which I’ll get into in the comments section.)
The next morning, Kang-ha wakes to see a lump at the foot of his bed, and cautiously lifts his blanket: Pa-rang is there, curled up asleep. Yay! Kang-ha smiles in relief, then pats the boy’s head affectionately and covers him up with the blanket.
Ju-hwang enters the room, ready to give Pa-rang another scolding, but Kang-ha holds him back and tells him to leave him be. When Ju-hwang protests that he has to teach his brother a lesson, Kang-ha pulls out Pa-rang’s perennial defense: “It’s a disease.” (Ha!)
Although we get to see Kang-ha’s softer side, I love that he still feels the need to save face, so when he turns toward Ju-hwang he deliberately makes his face sterner. Ju-hwang assumes he’s annoyed and asks as a favor, “Please just endure it for a month.” Kang-ha sighs, “I guess I’ll have to.”
At breakfast, Pal-gang asks if the men are planning to go out today; as it’s Sunday, she intends to conduct a thorough house cleaning. Jun-ha asks about the children’s school schedule, and upon hearing that they’re going back next week, he suggests that they transfer schools to this neighborhood, since their old school is far. Pal-gang answers that it’s fine to keep going to their old school, since they’ll be moving out soon enough.
To everyone’s surpise, Jun-ha repeats his suggestion and offers to handle the transfer tomorrow, explaining, “Who knows, you may continue living here.” The kids perk up, thinking this is an indication that he’s decided to marry their sister. Pal-gang is taken aback and hushes her siblings, but Jun-ha just says, “You never know what’ll happen.”
Tae-kyu definitely finds this unusual, but he takes it the wrong way and thanks Jun-ha profusely for helping him. This was his uncle’s way of helping Tae-kyu by keeping the family around, right? Overcome with gratitude, he kisses Jun-ha on the cheek and declares, “I love you!”
The family helps out in the big house cleaning. Ju-hwang and Pa-rang clean Kang-ha’s room, although Kang-ha cleans his inner glass room himself. When Pa-rang hears that the room is for listening to music, he steps inside and announces, “I like music too. Do you have Digimon songs?”
Curiously, Pa-rang looks at the record player and wonders what the machine is. He touches the needle, scratching the record, and Kang-ha jumps up to stop him, holding his precious record as though pained. Although Pa-rang doesn’t really know what he’s done, Ju-hwang does; he holds his brother back and asks, “That’s very valuable, isn’t it?”
With words that contradict his cringing posture and aggrieved expression, Kang-ha answers stiffly, “No. I listened to it so much I was about to throw it away. It doesn’t matter.” (Aww!)
Pa-rang offers to clean the other parts of the room and starts dusting. His careless movements knock over a speaker, which Kang-ha hastens to straighten. He then picks up the boy to take him outside. Pa-rang, thinking he’s about to be punished, exclaims that he’s sorry.
But Kang-ha just deposits him in front of his computer: “You’ll be most helpful to me just playing games.” Immediately, Pa-rang perks up and starts playing Super Mario Bros.
Downstairs, everyone’s startled when Ju-hwang explains that Pa-rang is happily playing games on Kang-ha’s computer. They all know Kang-ha’s rules about not touching his computer, so it’s surprising to hear that this is authorized behavior.
Having stated his intention to woo Pal-gang, Jun-ha acts the part of the benevolent suitor by offering to take the family out for lunch, and goes upstairs to collect Pa-rang. He says rather pointedly that Kang-ha will probably stay home, right? This leaves Kang-ha out of the loop (although he does have some fun playing Super Mario Bros. after Pa-rang leaves).
Over lunch, Jun-ha pours on the charm, being especially nice (even for him) and fussing over Nam. Pal-gang is a little uncomfortable — not that she dislikes Jun-ha’s behavior, but because it feels excessive and makes her feel indebted to him. The kids don’t have that same mental block and enjoy his generosity, so much that Cho-rok feels conflicted — she’s starting to see Jun-ha’s appeal but has declared loyalty to Tae-kyu.
After lunch, he takes the kids back-to-school shopping — another act of generosity that Pal-gang tries to insist is unncessary. He assures her, “I have a lot of money, but nowhere to spend it. Help me spend it.”
After buying things for the kids, Jun-ha urges Pal-gang to buy something for herself too. She declines the offer, though he does notice her stopping to admire a dress in the window. When she goes off to change Nam’s diaper, the kids tell Jun-ha that Pal-gang doesn’t wear skirts anymore — not since their parents died. (This explains why she was giving away her miniskirts at the sauna in an early episode. This point hasn’t been played up before, but I suppose the skirts represent her formerly frivolous outlook, and now that she’s devoted to motherhood, her vanity is a thing of the past.)
When the family comes back home, Kang-ha just watches quietly. Tae-kyu expresses his disappointment at being left out, but Kang-ha isn’t the type to admit it out loud.
Pal-gang sees that the lunch she left for Kang-ha went uneaten and asks Kang-ha about it. He replies that he wasn’t hungry, so she offers to make whatever he’d like for dinner. Kang-ha keeps his gaze fixed on his book and coolly declines her offer. He’s going to the gym, so she needn’t bother with his dinner.
Despite his composed facade, we know from the furious way he runs that he’s bothered, since running is his outlet for stress. He does happen to have a trial the next day, but clearly work isn’t the only thing troubling him.
And of course, sweaty exercise necessitates showering — no not gratuitous not at all! — and the drama would be remiss if it were to skip out on this
excuse very necessary reason to give us a shower scene, wouldn’t it?
Chairman Jung is feeling lonely at home, missing the company of the Jin family, and comes over for the night. He had asked Pal-gang earlier if he could come over, but everyone had been home so she had told him to sneak in at nighttime.
She wonders where he sleeps on the nights he is away, so he answers that he sometimes stays in a homeless shelter. Worrying, she suggests that he stay in this house, hidden, rather than roaming around. Grandpa gives Pal-gang some money for Nam’s milk, explaining that he managed to sell some good junk that he’d found. Naturally, she refuses, telling him to keep it himself. She’s young and able to work, so she’s better off than he is. It’s pretty funny to see Grandpa Jung thwarted whenever he tries to help out the family, because he can’t reveal that he’s stinkin’ rich and his explanations make him sound so poor that the family refuses to take his money.
Complications arise the next day at the office, when In-gu greets the Won brothers and sees Pal-gang arriving in the lobby. He recognizes her as Mimi from the room salon, and calls her over to chide her for seeking him out at the office, assuming she’s out for money or some such thing.
Jun-ha covers for her, saying that he is mistaken, identifying Pal-gang as one of their employees. In-gu is pretty sure he’s right but lets the topic go. However, Jae-young is sharp enough to read between the lines, and catches on to the truth.
She confronts Kang-ha in his office, incredulous that he would hire a room salon girl as his housemaid. Kang-ha addresses her flatly, “So what’s the problem?” In purposely crude terms, he says that he gets around with women, so what’s so strange that a guy like him would take a bar girl to be his maid?
Jae-young asks in frustration, “Why the heck are you being so protective of that one?” Kang-ha warns her sharply, “Watch what you say. Don’t call her this or that one, call her by her name. Her name is Jin Pal-gang.”
She says that this is cause for letting an FC go, but Kang-ha retorts that he knows the law better than she does: “If you misuse your authority, you’ll have to fight me.”
After she stalks out, Jun-ha notes, “You’re saying you’d fight for Jin Pal-gang. The brother who hates getting entangled in annoying issues sure is acting odd.”
Jun-ha finds Pal-gang sitting outside, worried that this will become a problem for her and the company. He waves it off, saying casually, “What do you mean? Oh, that the president mistook you for someone else?”
He sits with her at lunch, where they’re joined by a curious Eun-mal and Jin-ju, who eye him with favor and thank him for helping Pal-gang. They praise his patience for taking in the formerly Useless Miss Jin, which must have been a trial for him. They go so overboard with the gushing that Pal-gang feels a little put out at their descriptions, muttering at them to cut it out.
Eun-mal describes them as a trio who resemble celebrities. It’s purposely ridiculous that she compares Jin-ju to Kim Tae-hee and herself to Jeon Ji-hyun, but it’s a bit of an inside joke to compare Pal-gang to Lee Young-ae (Choi Jung-won has in fact been called a younger Lee Young-ae).
Choi Jung-won, Lee Young-ae
Following lunch, Jun-ha escorts Pal-gang to register the kids for a school transfer.
Kang-ha spies them leaving the parking garage together, and his mood takes another hit. He is already feeling upset after an unexpected phone call has ruined his day; the call is from a middle-aged woman named Lee Yeon-joo who has just arrived in Korea. We can guess at their relationship, but in any case he coldly informs his secretary to tell the caller he’s not available.
On the way home, Jun-ha suggests going to see a movie, since they’ve got time to kill. Cautiously, Pal-gang asks why he’s being so nice to her, and he responds half-teasingly:
Jun-ha: “Hm, why could that be? When a man treats a woman nicely, why do you think that is?”
Pal-gang: “Please don’t joke with me.”
Jun-ha: “Does it seem like a joke?”
Jun-ha: “Then wait and see whether it really is.”
They stop at the supermarket for some grocery shopping, where they’re mistaken for a married couple. Pal-gang isn’t sure how to respond, but Jun-ha laughs and goes with it.
At home, Jun-ha helps make dinner, and even the thick-headed Tae-kyu is starting to feel threatened by Jun-ha’s continued solitcitousness. He tells his uncle that he’s helped enough, and Cho-rok urges Tae-kyu to help, too. Unfortunately, Tae-kyu just cuts his finger in his haste to one-up his uncle.
The woman caller pesters Kang-ha’s secretary for his cell phone number, and he instructs his secretary not to give it. Still, being reminded of this woman (okay, it’s his mother, which we find out soon enough anyway) puts him into a dark mood, and he goes to a bar that night to drink alone.
When he arrives home, he’s noticeably drunk and swaying on his feet. Pal-gang prepares some tea for him, which Jun-ha offers to take upstairs.
Jun-ha asks what the matter is. Kang-ha gets to the point: “What are you thinking? You can have any woman you want. Don’t act like that with her. There are lots of women we can pass the time with.” Jun-ha replies, “You know me. Before I make my move with a woman, I always tell her that I’m going to make the advance.”
Kang-ha warns, “Don’t play around. She’s different from the women we can just play around with.” Jun-ha asks why that is, and Kang-ha says insistently, “She’s someone who’s using all her strength to survive with her siblings.”
Jun-ha’s been maddeningly flippant thus far, and asks easily, “Oh, that?” But when Kang-ha warns, “Leave her alone,” his expression hardens. Jun-ha returns, “But I’m not joking. I’m more serious now than ever. No — I may be serious for the first time. Since you’re warning me not to joke around, I’ll have to become even more serious.”
A flashback shows a younger Jun-ha joining a long-haired young woman on a swing, waiting for Kang-ha. Jun-ha had wondered if she had ever waited for him. The girl had answered, “You’ve never made me wait, so thank you.” She had said it as a compliment, but of course, this is not the answer Jun-ha wants to hear.
The next day, Jun-ha drops by to see his ex (the Jae-young clone). They sit for a friendly chat and catch up — her husband is suing her for divorce, refusing to negotiate despite her willingness to forgo alimony.
The woman seems to come from a rich family, and is in a managerial position at a hotel. Since it’s time for them to renew their insurance policy, she asks Jun-ha about JK. Selling policies isn’t his job, so he calls in Pal-gang to handle the deal, which works out for both parties.
Furthermore, he suggests to the ex that while Pal-gang is here, she should talk to the employees about life insurance as well. So Pal-gang sits down with the interested parties and (competently) goes through the explanations.
As they watch her, Jun-ha’s ex guesses, “Did she cry a lot in front of you? Is that why you’re doing this?” She reminds him of something he’d said to her before — that he’d never fall for a woman’s trap again. “But that young lady seems like a trap.”
She was unable to get through on the phone, so Kang-ha’s errant mother waits for him at the office. She sports garish accessories, gaudy makeup, and brash behavior, and it’s clear that she’s been a pretty irresponsible mother. His expression hardens and he fixes his gaze away while she complains about his behavior. She’s here from the U.S. after three or four years since their last encounter and obviously thinks he ought to treat her better.
To avoid a scene, they relocate to a cafe where he tries to get to the point: Why is she here?
Mom draws the encounter out, wanting to cover some of the preliminaries first, making small talk and asking if he’s married. He repeats his question coldly and reminds her, “I told you that there’d be no reason to see each other again.”
Apparently he had given her money a few years ago, with which she was able to save her store and stay out of poverty. However, “that guy” gambled everything away in Vegas, and she ended the relationship. Kang-ha asks sarcastically, “Did you come for congratulations on your fifth divorce?”
He’s losing patience and demands to know what she wants, so she finally gets to the crux of the matter: she needs his help one last time. She didn’t want to ask, but he’s her only son. When she says in a self-pitying way that her son had been stolen from her, he replies acidly, “Stolen from you? It wasn’t that you sold him off? I may have just been five, but I remember the events of that day clearly.”
Mom had sent him away to live with his father, ignoring Kang-ha’s desperate pleas to let him stay with her. He’d cried and begged, but she’d ignored that and taken a huge payoff from his father to leave the boy behind and go. Mom points out, “If you’d lived with me, you wouldn’t have been able to be who you are now.”
Kang-ha: “You told the crying five-year-old boy who clung to you, ‘I don’t like you. I hate your father, so do you think I’d like you? So go.’ I begged you not to do it. ‘Mom, don’t send me away. I’ll obey. I’ll be good and not cause trouble. Even if you bring ajusshis home, I won’t make a fuss.’ But you had just one thing to say: ‘I need those ajusshis more than you.'”
Mom’s a little shocked at how harsh this sounds, because she doesn’t remember this at all. Kang-ha warns, “Don’t call me again” and gets up to leave. Mom points out that if he doesn’t help, she’ll have to come back to live in Korea, which neither of them wants.
Pal-gang heads to the hospital when one of her clients — the friendly store ajumma from her old neighborhood — has an accident and injures her foot. Jang-soo (Jin-ju’s admirer) also happens to be at the hospital looking into insurance claims and joins her, assuring the family that her hospital fees will all be covered by the company.
Dim-witted Man-soo greets Pal-gang enthusiastically and again repeats his refrain about seeing her parents’ car accident. This time, Man-soo’s mother says that even though Man-soo’s story sounds like nonsense, something seems odd about it. He never repeats a false story for this long, or clings so strongly.
Agreeing that it’s worth considering, Jang-soo offers to investigate further, saying that he also has a feeling that the story may not be entirely fake.
Following his encounter with his mother, Kang-ha drinks at a bar, then comes home late that night. He staggers toward the front gate, stopping to answer his phone. The call is from his mother, who says (in a subtly threatening way) that she may just seek him out tomorrow again.
This pushes his temper over the limit, and Kang-ha slams his phone into the ground, then staggers against a wall drunkenly.
Pal-gang arrives home in time to witness this, worried to find Kang-ha grimacing and unsteady on his feet. She smells the liquor on his breath and asks what’s wrong.
Kang-ha stares at her, then suprises her by grabbing her to him in a tight hug. His face twisting in distress — for once dropping the formal language and speaking familiarly — he urges her, “Don’t add to my troubles. Not you too.”
Unnerved, Pal-gang breaks free and asks why he’s doing this. Looking at her steadily, Kang-ha starts to move in closer…
Not much in the way of alternate storylines in this episode (yay). The day after Tae-kyu’s public proposal, Min-kyung can tell from her daughter’s moping that things aren’t going well in her plan to win Kang-ha over. She prods Jae-young to give up, saying that if she can’t make him her mate, she should make him her enemy instead.
Even though Min-kyung is staunchly against Jae-young marrying Kang-ha, she explains her reasoning, which actually makes some sense: “He doesn’t even know how to love himself. DO you know what that’s like? Because I’m like that, I don’t want you to be his match.”
You know, this isn’t technically the best drama around and there are a number of characters I don’t care for, but somehow I have a great big soft spot for Wish Upon a Star. It started out just being the kids who were winning, but now I add Pal-gang, Kang-ha, and Tae-kyu to that group.
If I have a criticism, it’s that aside from the Jin family, I don’t really feel the emotions of the other characters as real. Tae-kyu’s heartbreak, Jun-ha’s inferiority complex, even Kang-ha’s mother abandonment issues — they’re fine plot points, but merely plot points. If I could ask for more out of this drama, it would be to give more emotional sincerity to the other characters. Still, I’m satisfied enough with what we’ve got, because there’s enough charm to keep me hooked.
So, Kang-ha’s trauma: His mother basically sold him off to go live with his rich father, then repeatedly hit him up for cash after he became a successful lawyer. Since Kang-ha is the older brother, one can presume that Jun-ha is the product of a happier union — if not perfectly happy, then at least more conventionally stable. This would also explain why Jun-ha has a more open, warm outlook in contrast with Kang-ha’s closed-off one.
We don’t know whether or not Kang-ha had a good relationship with his father, but this may explain why he doesn’t want to inherit JK, because he doesn’t care to take over his father’s business. Yet, as the directors hinted, he does feel some personal attachment to the company that extends beyond his mere job, despite his claims to the contrary.
As for his romantic feelings, I like the buildup in this episode. We can tell that Kang-ha’s guard is slowly dropping, but it takes a strong impetus to force him into doing something about it. It makes sense that it would happen in this way, when Kang-ha is feeling bombarded on all sides. Normally his tough inner wall is up, ready to protect him, but his encounter with his mother coincides with his growing uneasiness over Pal-gang — first with Tae-kyu’s proposal, then with Jun-ha’s declaration that he’s going to go after her. In a moment of weakness, he tells her not to add to his troubles — and since she hasn’t actually DONE anything to him, we can interpret this to mean that she has been on his mind a lot, bothering him. With his emotions in turmoil, he asks her to stop bothering him — which is more like him wishing to himself that he didn’t feel such feelings about her.
Jun-ha has now crossed over from being a sympathetic shoulder to cry on to being underhanded, although it’s still unclear what his true motives are. He tells Pal-gang and Kang-ha that he’s for real, but there’s a shiftiness to his attitude throughout the episode that points to more there. The flashback to the girl at the swings seems to hint that Jun-ha may be acting in retaliation for always coming in second to his brother. If not outright revenge, this is at least a chance for him to come in first. So I suspect that Jun-ha is treating Pal-gang as a stand-in for the other women in the past who have passed him over for his brother, and in particular the girl at the swings. It probably doesn’t matter whether this is Pal-gang or any other woman, just that this is the best opportunity he has to reverse the tables.
But that’s only speculation, and I’m curious to know what the deal is. Although I don’t love Jun-ha as a person for this turn, I kinda do like him being some sort of evil mastermind in a dramatic sense. I may have liked the guy as a warm softie, but he’s more interesting as a character like this — I want to know what he’s really up to.
In so many dramas, the second lead male tries to win over the heroine but is doomed to fail because he’s the wrong guy. He can do his best but it’ll never be enough to sway her. Jun-ha wouldn’t be a match for Kang-ha as his natural self, but now that he’s purposely trying to win her over, he may be more of a challenge.
I also like Pal-gang’s reactions to Jun-ha’s chivalry. For someone who had been dreaming for years of a prince on a white horse to rescue her, she isn’t enjoying his treatment, and in fact finds it a burden because it makes her feel more indebted. She doesn’t believe he has feelings for her, explaining that he’s being nice because he’s “a nice guy.” Just as she’s settling into her role of housekeeper and getting used to maintaining a semi-professional demeanor, it’s the brothers (and nephew) who push the boundaries.