You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 25-26
Phew, the cat is out of the bag, finally, after desperately clinging to the walls of said bag and shredding it to pieces until there was hardly even any bag left to hide in. It took some bloody scratches, bruised hearts, and a heckuva while to get here, but we did make it. Huzzah.
Plus, our hero’s romantic feelings are inching closer and closer to a point of no return, I think. One of the best things about the show is Jo Jung-seok’s slow build of tension—and if we were to go back to the beginning and only plot his character arc, I think we’d find that he’s been playing this with a finely controlled hand. Very cool.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seok-hoon – “연애의 시작” (The start of dating) [ Download ]
Soon-shin comes home just in time to see Mi-ryung exchanging heated words with Mom, and wonders what she’s doing here. The others uneasily cover up the reason and say that Mi-ryung knew Grandma from back in the day, while Mom brushes aside Soon-shin’s questions and sends her up to bed.
Outside the house, Mi-ryung matter-of-factly tells Jun-ho that Soon-shin is her daughter. This kind of serious talk calls for a venue change, and at her house Jun-ho angrily takes her to task for not telling Soon-shin about the truth before she even came to him to plan a press conference. I mean, unless she wanted to look like a self-absorbed manipulator and egoist, but what are the chances of that?
Mi-ryung says that he isn’t in a position to worry about Soon-shin, however, and should be more focused on his actress Song Mi-ryung’s impending career crisis. On that score I give her the point, at least until he fesses up about his feelings. She says she’ll worry about Soon-shin and directs Jun-ho to take care of the press.
It’s a bad night for everyone, with Jun-ho feeling frustrated and Mom tossing in turning all night. In the morning, everyone stares at Soon-shin while pretending nothing is wrong, which is awkward for everybody.
With Yoo-shin still out of the loop, she starts nagging Mom to quit working at the chicken shop, which is an added argument that nobody needs to deal with right now. Hye-shin tells her to ease up on Mom today, which hardly assuages Yoo-shin’s curiosity about the strange air in the household.
Yi-jung pops up at the clinic to ask Chan-woo to lunch, which he curtly denies, citing prior engagement. He asks her not to send him any more text messages and reasserts that he has a girlfriend, just in time for Yoo-shin to hear.
Yi-jung lays it on thick by appealing to his sympathy, tearing up and saying that she can’t help how she feels about him. Thankfully Yoo-shin steps in to rescue him (and us) from too much of that and whisks him off to lunch.
She’s pretty cool about it, too, saying that he doesn’t have to explain the scene since she understands. She’s more concerned about her mother working for his mother, and I think she has a great point about the power imbalance, except she says it in her typical blunt way and doesn’t take into consideration the fact that she’s borderline badmouthing his mother. Chan-woo takes issue and says that just as she feels for her mother, so does he for his.
Then he gets an apology text from Yi-jung, and now Yoo-shin sees the whole screen full of messages and revises her opinion—is he playing the field? She’s not accusing him of cheating, but more like keeping potential backup girlfriends around. Again I don’t think she’s being totally out of line, but her way of accusing Chan-woo isn’t exactly helpful and she barks that Yi-jung keeps pestering him because he’s giving her opportunities. She throws out the “Let’s break up” line and stomps out of there.
Mom spends the day in a daze, then decides to do something about it and heads over to Mi-ryung’s house. She asks Mi-ryung not to hurt Soon-shin with this truth, and Mi-ryung is genuinely confused (in her bubble of privilege, this one), asking what hurt she could have possibly given the family. Is there an eye-roll big enough for that statement? She thinks that because she never asked the family to raise Soon-shin, she has behaved perfectly justifiably. I like how she conveniently forgets the part where she abandoned her baby.
Mom gets angry for a different reason, accusing her of sneaking around with her husband, and Mi-ryung seems so taken aback that I’m betting he isn’t bio-dad. She merely says that Mom has too little faith in her husband, adding, “I feel sorry for Chang-hoon oppa. I see how his marriage must have been.”
Mom is raging and yelling, so Mi-ryung says that it’s clear she won’t believe anything she says. Thus she won’t try to explain and Mom’s free to think whatever she wants. Also, Soon-shin should know the truth about her parenthood. I know Mi-ryung’s cold and unsympathetic, but in the face of Mom’s shrillness I have to say her coolly logical response is a bit satisfying.
Mom attacks Mi-ryung for being a terrible mother and practically throws herself at her. She’s dragged out screaming, “Don’t you dare mess with my daughter!”
Mi-ryung is huffy, but Manager Hwang has misgivings about one big tidbit: “That family believes she’s Chang-hoon hyungnim’s daughter.” Aha. Finally, confirmation of what we all suspected, but weren’t positive on: Soon-shin isn’t Dad’s daughter, thus he didn’t cheat. I’d feel sorrier for Mom’s misdirected rage if she hadn’t been so hard to swallow the last twenty episodes.
Manager Hwang suggests that they tell the truth about the father, but Mi-ryung decides to stick to that story. She says warningly that Soon-shin IS his daughter—her tone indicating, And don’t you dare try to suggest that’s not the truth, because it is from now on.
With nobody else to appeal to, Mom visits Jun-ho to ask him to help stop the story from breaking. He wants nothing more, and says that he’ll do his best.
Knowing what he does, Jun-ho is (extra) awkward when Soon-shin spots him outside and asks if something happened with Mi-ryung, because things were very strange after she dropped by yesterday. He feigns ignorance and says no, though he does add, “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen.”
Grandma asks Hye-shin to go with her to confront Mi-ryung, and gets angry when Hye-shin advises her against it. So Grandma does that thing that drives me batty, which is turning her anger on somebody who did nothing to deserve it, and says that Hye-shin is just like Mom, and that’s why they both got cheated on. Yeeeesh. Then this turns into a diatribe on how disappointed Grandma is in Hye-shin: “You were so smart in school, why did you turn into such an idiot?” And there we have it, Worst Granny of the Year.
Hye-shin calls out Yoo-shin for coffee to ask her to lay off with the mom-nagging, and suggests that it might even be good for Mom to work with Chicken Ajumma. Yoo-shin doesn’t understand why unni keeps referring to Mom going through stuff right now when she isn’t aware of anything, so finally Hye-shin fills her in—on Mi-ryung, Soon-shin, and Dad’s supposed affair.
Jun-ho makes a last-ditch appeal to the reporter to ask him to pull the article, offering him anything he wants. Reporter Park isn’t interested in a payoff, saying that nothing he is writing is false, and it’s about time people saw past Mi-ryung’s image. Jun-ho tries to make a bid for the daughter’s privacy and emotional state, but the reporter counters that it’s too bad for her, but that’s not a reason to withhold the truth.
So finally Jun-ho pleads for extra time—just a few days to let the family prepare emotionally for the shock. At least Reporter Park agrees, though it’s only for a few days.
Next Jun-ho goes to Mi-ryung to tell her he intends to push back tomorrow’s press conference, until she tells Soon-shin the truth and gets her agreement. His proposal is the decent thing to do, but Mi-ryung points out how ridiculous he sounds, given that he was betting with her as the object only recently.
Jun-ho agrees that he hurt her, but he doesn’t want to inflict any more pain. Mi-ryung says Soon-shin has no reason to be hurt by the truth since she should be glad to know she’s her mother. It’s almost amazing, how high her opinion of herself is. She declares that she’ll make Soon-shin happy, lift her out of her pathetic life, and support her if she wants to act. Completely blind to the irony, she yells at her housemaid to reject Yeon-ah’s call.
Thus Jun-ho has to call Mom to tell her regretfully that he couldn’t stop the press conference, which is proceeding as scheduled. He asks her to tell Soon-shin the truth gently.
Jun-ho catches Soon-shin as she’s leaving the restaurant, having just said goodbye to Young-hoon and Jae-bum. He keeps stumbling over his words, unable to meet her eye, and finally just says with difficulty, “I’m sorry.”
Yoo-shin comes home in a fury that night, upset that she’s been left in the dark and screaming mad at their father for cheating. She’s indignant on Mom’s behalf, but it comes out more like anger at Mom for being too nice and passive and not ripping out Mi-ryung’s hair for stealing her man. Taking a page out of Grandma’s book, Yoo-shin turns her anger on the victim and yells that if Mi-ryung wants to take Soon-shin away, they should just let her. Good lord, this family. I get that this is the knee-jerk reaction and that they (probably?) don’t mean what they say, but to be so quick to renounce your sister because your father was an adulterer (allegedly)?
Hye-shin follows her outside and tries to calm her down. She isn’t successful, and Yoo-shin sobs that this can’t be true, that Dad wasn’t that kind of person. I know this is a radical thought, but maybe, just maybe, instead of jumping to assumptions you could have faith in your dead Dad? Just saying? A suggestion? …no?
Jun-ho drinks alone at the restaurant, and asks Young-hoon how he felt when he first learned he was adopted. Huh, hello there coincidental factoid. Did you just write your way into the show last night?
Young-hoon says that it hurt, even though he had caring parents. Without explaining the cause of his mood, Jun-ho says he’s pathetic: “All I do is talk a big talk, but I can’t do a thing.” Young-hoon: “You only figured that out now?” Ha.
Mom suggests a mother-daughter date tomorrow, so they go shopping for clothes and have lunch together. Soon-shin promises to do better from now on and apologizes for being a troublemaker, since Mom must’ve been disappointed that she was so different from her unnis. Mom assures her that that’s not true.
Soon-shin suggests visiting Dad’s gravesite, so up the mountain they go. Mom’s mood has been heavy all day as she prepares for the big reveal, and Soon-shin seems to understand that something big is coming. She steels herself when Mom starts her talk, recalling the day she “first met Soon-shin” as a baby. It sounds like a poetic way to say “the day you were born” so it isn’t immediately clear that she’s explaining the adoption, until she gets to the dreaded truth: “You were born to a different mother.”
Speaking of whom, Mi-ryung presides over her press conference, playing her part perfectly—subdued demeanor, humble language, tearful apologies for deceiving her fans. She explains that she had a daughter whom she hadn’t had contact with, whose current whereabouts she only recently learned. She asks the reporters not to bother her daughter, who didn’t know of all this, and fears that her mistake will hurt her. Oh, she’s good—she just took all that stuff about concern and hurt from Jun-ho’s speech, didn’t she?
Soon-shin struggles to take in the truth while Mom begs her to believe her, that she never stopped considering her a daughter. The initial disbelief turns to anger and she demands to know who her mother is.
She already knows the truth by the time she and Mom make it back home, but it’s rubbing salt in the wound to see the family watching Mi-ryung’s press conference on television. And now the dam breaks and she scoffs at this woman who is supposed to be her mother: “Then who am I?” she yells. “How do you expect me to believe it? How can she be my mother?” And why are they only telling her now, after twenty years? Good questions all.
Soon-shin runs out of the house in shock and Hye-shin follows her out, only to lose sight of her pretty quickly. Bread Man joins in on the search as they make their way through the streets.
They run into Jun-ho as he arrives in the neighborhood, and it’s cute how Bread Man again steps up to play big bro, staring Jun-ho down. Of course he has to back down when he realizes Hye-shin knows Jun-ho after all, haha.
Jun-ho scours the neighborhood on his own, checking Soon-shin’s usual spots. He even hikes up the mountain, but he has no luck. Soon-shin spends the day wandering aimlessly, still in shock.
With no other recourse, Mom says she’ll wait for Soon-shin to calm down and come back on her own. She leaves worried phone messages, but can do little else.
After fielding phone calls and dealing with reporters at her gate, Mi-ryung decides on the strategic move of faking a collapse and admitting herself to the hospital. Man, she should be the genius agency CEO in this drama. She’s got the media plays down pat.
Yeon-ah has to be told of the scandal by her makeup artist, and hurries to Mi-ryung’s bedside. I actually feel bad for her, fretting about Mi-ryung genuinely while Mi-ryung merely pretends to be in weak health.
Soon-shin isn’t home by morning, so Mom tries calling Chan-mi to see if she spent the night there. Chan-mi’s confused at the question, but Chicken Parents immediately realize that le shit must have hit le fan, and a slip of the tongue has Ajumma admitting the truth to her kids. I’ll give it to her, Ajumma held on longer than I’d thought.
Yoo-shin finds Mom preparing a huge breakfast of all of Soon-shin’s favorite foods, and that gets her angry, for what reason I cannot reasonably understand. Yoo-shin yells at Mom for being stupid and demands a DNA test, and when Mom says that DNA isn’t important Yoo-shin gets even shoutier. She says Dad was mocking them all his life and barks that it’s incredibly wrong for “a kid like that” to upset Mom, and for Mom to respond by cooking her special dishes.
I’ve said it a lot already, but this drama really brings it out in me: Good lord! Now that we’ve exhausted our supply of awful moms and grandmas, is it time to move on to the sisters?
Then Yoo-shin actually accuses Mom of not catching on to the affair. Geez, way to blame the victim. Mom slaps her across the face, and I’m not sorry. Mom yells that she’d better not say that again, because Soon-shin is their daughter and sister. Yoo-shin storms off crying.
Hye-shin tries to soothe her and says Mom’s hurting. Yoo-shin cries that she knows, and it’s because she knows that she’s saying this stuff. Yes, because rubbing salt in wounds totally makes them heal faster.
But making things even worse, they find that their house is surrounded by a phalanx of reporters. The phone calls come pouring in, inquiring about Lee Soon-shin, and all the furor has the family at a loss. It also means that getting out of the house is a trial, and Hye-shin asks for Bread Man’s help.
So Jin-wook comes out to face the press, playing the gruff ajusshi and acting like he doesn’t know who this Soon-shin is. They’ve got the wrong house—the only people living here are his pretty wife, his daughter, and himself. HA.
He threatens to call the cops on them and gets them to scatter, thankfully. To hammer in the family man image, he takes Woo-joo’s hand in his, and she allows this with the utmost reluctance before stomping off at first opportunity.
Bread Man doesn’t know what’s going on but he thoughtfully doesn’t press Hye-shin for details, just assures her that he’ll help however he can. Her thanks has him marveling, “She said Jin-wook-sshi… She knew my name.” Aw.
Soon-shin walks through the neighborhood toward her house, but stops at the sight of reporters camped outside. She turns around.
At the Shin household, the ladies gossip about Mi-ryung’s scandal while the men roll their eyes inwardly at them. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re doing, because that’s definitely what I’m doing.
Mom somehow makes this about her—how could Mi-ryung fool HER?—and Yi-jung smirks that she totally knew something like this would happen. Schadenfreude is such an ugly color on you. Even Dr. Shin points out how she’s excited about the gossip, while Mom just asks, “Who, me?” Yes, she who takes glee in a supposed friend’s downfall.
Jun-ho continues to call Soon-shin with no answer, and heads to the restaurant. A beer, first thing in the morning? Well I suppose you’re justified today.
Thinking that Jun-ho’s upset about the headache of dealing with Mi-ryung’s scandal, Young-hoon offers a sympathetic ear. I do love that we as viewers have the secret knowledge that Jun-ho really couldn’t care less about Mi-ryung’s crisis, I think—this is all about Soon-shin.
When Young-hoon asks about Mi-ryung’s daughter, Jun-ho tells him, “Ask Soon-shin yourself. It’s her.” Young-hoon assumes he’s pulling his leg, but Jun-ho’s grim reaction is confirmation enough.
Soon-shin finally picks up her phone, answering when Manager Hwang calls to ask for a meeting. But she’s only talking to him to instruct him never to call again, as she has no intention of meeting them.
On the upside for Mi-ryung, public sentiment is swinging around in her favor, with positive reactions far outnumbering the negative ones.
Yeon-ah takes news of the daughter pretty well, actually, and says that she intends to extend a hand and treat her like a new sister. Only to have her face fall when Mi-ryung names that sister. Of all the sisters in the world…
Deciding to visit Mi-ryung, Jun-ho’s mother sets out cooking a large spread. I find it amusing that while Mom prepares her salad, she cluck-clucks that Mi-ryung’s “heart must be torn in two,” just as she rips a head of lettuce in half with her bare hands. I’m pretty certain this is unintentional—I don’t give this show credit for doing that level of subtlety—but it’s hilarious. Mom does at least turn this into a teaching moment, telling Yi-jung to come cheer up Mi-ryung, because ignoring someone in their time of need is bad behavior. I’d say rubbing their nose in condescending “I told you so”s is a close second, but Mom gets points for trying.
Despite huffing at her phone earlier when Chan-woo didn’t call, Yoo-shin ignores his calls when he does. He shows up at her office after work, and she continues to rebuff him, saying they’d broken up. He disagrees and tries to talk it out, wanting to lend her his support during her emotional time.
But Yoo-shin has taken it into her head that this is further proof that all men suck, that they’re all disgusting pigs who cheat, and therefore she will never date or marry. Her blanket denunciation of all manhood has Chan-woo arguing that he isn’t like that, and that she should know him well enough to know that, but she retorts that she thought she knew her father too. Sigh. Maybe we cut this one loose, Chan-woo. It’s her loss.
Soon-shin wanders some more, and this time Chan-mi spots her in the neighborhood and takes her aside for coffee. Chan-mi offers up her sympathy and support, encourage Soon-shin to buck up. But mention of Mi-ryung and the reporters stirs Soon-shin’s anger, and she barks that Mi-ryung isn’t her mother.
She calls Jun-ho to demand Mi-ryung’s whereabouts, then heads over immediately. He’s both incredibly relieved to have heard from Soon-shin and worried about what’s about to go down, and hurries to the hospital.
Soon-shin arrives first and steps inside the room with a hard glare. Mi-ryung has been expecting the visit to come at some point and says all the right things—that she’s sorry, she was wrong, Soon-shin must hate her. You get the sense she had this speech all rehearsed in her head, maybe pulled from a script or two.
But this scene veers off-script when Soon-shin cuts her off, calling her Teacher (not mother) and issuing one request: Keep reporters away from her family.
Soon-shin: “I don’t want to be someone who brings difficulty to my family. I really don’t want them suffering because of me. My family is precious to me. My mother, grandmother, sisters—I can’t live without them. It’s because of them that I’ve come this far. Do you understand? So don’t contact me anymore. I don’t want to meet you again.”
She turns coldly and walks out without a second glance. Her strong facade starts to crack as she exits the hospital, just as she runs into Jun-ho. He tries to talk to her, offer her comfort, and then pulls her wrist to hold her back when she tries to dismiss him and walk on. He asks where she slept, how she’s been, and she answers dully that she’s fine.
He presses her to react, to get angry, reminding her of her words from before—that she has a heart, and she can get hurt. Soon-shin asks tearfully, “And if I get angry, does anything change? Does it go away? Can I return to the me of the past?”
He doesn’t have an answer to that, but he does takes her hand (not the wrist—he’s evolving!) and offers to take her home. But she pulls her hand free and walks away, and as he watches her go we see that Yeon-ah is watching in the background. Ho-hum, don’t care about her.
Mi-ryung is upset to hear about the reporters hounding the Lee family, because this means somebody leaked the info to the press. Manager Hwang admits he did it because there was no point in hiding it, and she reacts angrily. I guess she did at least mean to keep it quiet, even if she was just out to protect her welfare and not theirs.
Mom walks home that night and finds Soon-shin sitting curbside, to her great relief. Soon-shin approaches like a scared little girl and cries that she’s sorry, asking, “Nothing’s going to change, right?”
She rattles off all the family connections that will stay the same, anxious to be reassured that she’ll still be part of them. “You have to treat me just like before. Just like before, okay?”
Mom gathers her to herself as Soon-shin cries, and they stand there sobbing together. And that’s the scene that Mi-ryung witnesses on her way over to talk to them.
These episodes were heavy on the angst, which is a double-edged sword: On one hand, this means the secret is finally out and that everybody knows and now we can move on already, thank goodness. There’s only so much hiding you can do of the same old secret before you get really tired of it, and I think we were there ten episodes ago. But on the other hand, it means we have to deal with the resulting angstrosity as a necessary plot pass-through, like we did after Dad died. And this is a show that, at its worst, is barely watchable—i.e, when it’s being overly melodramatic and tearful, because it just doesn’t handle angst with any level of subtlety.
What has kept me hanging on, then, are all the side characters that I do really enjoy and the light funny moments, and the slow build of the romances. I really like that the development of Soon-shin and Jun-ho’s relationship is so gradual, which gives us a close-up look at the growth of their feelings. Particularly with him; it’s a satisfying thing to watch the growing depth of his caring. Jo Jung-seok plays those moments so well, that we can feel his inner conflict—how he wants to do more and force his way into her life, but how he’s barely restraining himself out of respect for her wishes. And his struggle to deal with feeling powerless to help her when he just wants to swoop in and be the white knight.
It’s why I loved the moment he took Soon-shin’s hand, rather than letting his hotheadedness dictate again. He has a tendency to drag her along, which is an affliction that ALL K-drama males have issues with, but it was an especially sweet moment in this context. And that moment in this episode made a lot of things worth it. It’s a little like digging for clams, I feel. You stick it out because those interactions are so gratifying—but on the downside, a bad week can leave you feeling like you did a lot of digging for not a lot of reward.
I do think that this is a show that is more enjoyable to watch and not so much to recap, because as the recapper I’m struggling to make my way through the bulk of the shrill, overblown, angsty scenes. As a watcher I’d zip forward and pick out the good stuff, bypassing a lot of personal frustration, but I don’t currently have that option. It’s also why we are so wary of taking on longer shows here, because it’s such a commitment, and one we enter into relatively blindly in Week 1. We’ve made exceptions before, but not lightly. ‘Cause let’s face it, I’m a commitment-phobe—I like my stories to the point and punchy, so sue me.
So this is me giving fair warning that weekly recaps of this show may be on the way out—the week-to-week output of this drama offers too little payoff to make it worth it. On the other hand, if that happens I wouldn’t be abandoning the show entirely, because I plan to stick around as a viewer through the end, and may pop back every eight to ten episodes, or at least at the end to wrap things up.
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 23-24
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 21-22
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 19-20
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 17-18
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 15-16
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 14
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 13
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 12
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 11
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 10
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 9
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 8
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 7
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 6
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episode 5
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 3-4
- You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin: Episodes 1-2