Marriage Not Dating: Episode 6
This episode begins to delve a little further into each character and what makes them tick, though each answer seems to lead to even more questions. We finally find out exactly what happened to Jang-mi to make her so terrified of being alone, and why Ki-tae is so determined to stay single. We even discover the reason why Se-ah has popped back into Ki-tae’s life after three years, and the answer is every bit as selfish and self-indulgent as you would expect. But these revelations are dealt out with a careful hand, and I have no doubt there’s a lot more to each story to discover.
EPISODE 6: “Me, who looks alone, isn’t alone, but seems alone”
In a dark bedroom a couple, faces in shadow, roll around on a rumpled bed. The man takes off his shirt and pants, and they pull the covers over themselves. Rawr.
A few evenings earlier, Se-ah leaves the ladies’ wine party, and Yeo-reum follows her out to the street. He returns the envelope she previously gave to him, but she says that she already knows everything she wants to know, and tries to hand it back to him.
Ki-tae and Jang-mi see the end of this exchange, and Ki-tae jumps to the right conclusion about Se-ah, while Jang-mi jumps to the wrong one about Yeo-reum. Jang-mi fixes betrayed eyes on Yeo-reum and says that she must have been the only one with feelings again, and escapes before he can explain. He tries to follow her but Ki-tae stops him, asking Se-ah if it’s fun to play with people’s emotions.
He follows Jang-mi and they end up drinking soju at a pojongmacha, though for once it’s Ki-tae doing all the drinking. He gripes at Jang-mi for learning nothing from her experience with Hoon-dong, and for not listening to him about Yeo-reum, while she sits in stony silence.
He’s on a roll, and says that it’s not that the guys she dates are bad, but that she makes them treat her badly. He goes on and on, listing everything she does wrong, not even noticing the giant tears rolling down Jang-mi’s face. He’s being so Ki-tae right now – everything he says is true, and it’s even good advice, but he’s not even attempting to say it in a way that’s helpful or kind.
Finally she agrees that he’s right, and he runs with it some more, telling her to be the bad one and demand better treatment from men. She should take what they offer and then throw them away first.
Jang-mi finally decides she’s heard enough, and she declares that fine, she’ll throw HIM away. Even though they aren’t really dating, she’s been doing the same thing with him that she does with other men, and she’s going to stop. And he’s the worst of them, because he knew he was using her, and she went along with it anyway.
Hoon-dong and Hyun-hee go out, and he spends the whole date whining about Jang-mi. Hyun-hee methodically refills his shot glass until he’s completely wasted, and carries him home. She asks if it’s okay that she’s not a nice person and kisses him, and they spend the night together.
In the morning, Ki-tae panics when he gets a message from Se-ah that she’s with his mother at the salon. She reassures him that she hasn’t told his mother what she knows…yet. She warns that he’d better stop avoiding her calls, or she might just accidentally let it slip that his engagement is fake. She also mentions that later, they’re going shopping at the department store where Jang-mi works.
At the store, it’s obvious that Hyun-hee didn’t get much sleep last night, but Jang-mi is hyper and works like a woman possessed. Hyun-hee says that she should slow down, since she’ll be a VIP customer once she gets married, but Jang-mi says that it’s not happening. Hyun-hee asks if Ki-tae found out that she kissed Yeo-reum, but Jang-mi just dodges the question and declares that she’s done with both of them.
Yeo-reum shows up and asks Jang-mi to eat with him, but she’s still angry and asks why she should. He just chirps with a cheery grin, “You said you like me!” She drags him out of the store to talk, barely missing Ki-tae, who’s trying to find her before his mother and Se-ah can.
Jang-mi demands to know when Yeo-reum’s lies started, and he doesn’t deny taking money to get close to her, but he promises that he was giving it back. He says it was just a joke and that he doesn’t like having to explain himself. Seriously, stop talking. You’re making it worse.
His pretty smile isn’t getting him out of this one, and Jang-mi tells him to leave her alone and pass the message along to Se-ah. But Se-ah and Ki-tae’s mother overheard the last part of the conversation, and Mom demands to know what’s going on.
Ki-tae finds them, and everyone tries to explain in a round-robin of awkward until Mom just tells them all to shush. She asks Se-ah to explain, and Se-ah truthfully says that she asked Yeo-reum to find out the true relationship between Ki-tae and Jang-mi. Then she surprises everyone by saying that she did it so she could figure out the perfect wedding gift for them.
Ki-tae and Jang-mi go to lunch, where she asks him if it bothers him that his ex is paying someone to pry into his personal life. He says that she’s done it before, but he’s sure she won’t use the information against them. Yeo-reum sits down to eat with them as if it’s no big deal, and a fed-up Jang-mi reminds them that’s she’s totally done with them both, and leaves them to shoot eye-daggers at each other.
Hyun-hee finds Jang-mi sitting outside, and tells her she’s been seeing Hoon-dong. Jang-mi is aghast that she would be with him, knowing how he treated her. Hyun-hee says that she won’t date him if Jang-mi objects, though she points out that it wouldn’t be fair if she did, since she’s got two other men to choose between.
Meanwhile Hoon-dong wakes up and is horrified to realize that he slept with Hyun-hee, and sneaks into the restaurant in case one of the girls might be there. Yeo-reum can’t help ribbing him a little, and Hoon-dong retaliates by childishly tipping over a drink for him to clean up. Hee.
Hoon-dong asks the chef about the kimchi fusion dish he thinks the chef made the night before, telling him to add it to the menu. The chef realizes that Yeo-reum must have made the dish since he was “incapacitated,” and he doesn’t look at all happy.
Hoon-dong finds himself face-to-face with a furious Jang-mi, who chases him out of the restaurant and through the streets, wild-eyed and screaming. He’s impressively fast, but she finally cuts him off and demands to know if he’s serious about Hyun-hee.
He swears that Jang-mi is his only love and sleeping with Hyun-hee was a drunk mistake – um, is that supposed to sound better?! But Jang-mi didn’t know that he actually slept with Hyun-hee, and she delivers a beatdown that frankly, has been a long time coming.
She makes Hoon-dong swear not to hurt Hyun-hee and stop seeing her, and he actually thinks she’s saying that because she likes him again and is jealous. I can’t even with this guy. Neither can Jang-mi, and she just has a small tantrum and heads back to the restaurant.
She gets there in time to see the chef yelling at Yeo-reum in the alley for cooking without permission, and Yeo-reum good-naturedly offers to give him the recipe and not tell anyone it’s actually his. Instead of being grateful to Yeo-reum for covering for him twice, the chef gets angry and punches him.
Yeo-reum refuses Jang-mi’s help and sympathy, saying that he’s embarrassed and telling her to go. He utters a quiet, “It’s all your fault,” and walks away.
Se-ah visits Ki-tae at work and asks for a favor in return for saving him in front of his mother. The next thing you know, Ki-tae is at a sperm bank answering some very intimate questions. HAHA. Also Oooooohhh. So that’s Se-ah’s game. Ki-tae gets as far as a dark room with a cup and a naughty video, but he can’t go through with it.
He tells Se-ah that she’s taken the joke too far, but she insists that she’s serious. She says that she wants to stay single, but wants to spend her life with someone, and she loves herself so much that she wants to be with someone just like herself. There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start.
Ki-tae says that a baby isn’t a toy (thank you!) but Se-ah pushes, promising discretion since it’s her father’s hospital – nobody will find out. He says that single women aren’t allowed to get sperm donations here anyway, so she just matter-of-factly suggests that they sleep together instead. She gives him a choice: give her a baby one way or another, or she tells Mom about his fake engagement.
Ki-tae gets a call to come to Jang-mi’s parents’ restaurant, where Mom is talking but Dad is back to using his notepad to communicate. They’re upset about the memorial going badly, and Dad says that he’s doing something about it.
Ki-tae and Dad sit to talk over chicken and soju, and Dad starts by saying that even though Jang-mi may seem like an ordinary girl, she’s his only daughter, and asks Ki-tae to take care of her. Ki-tae tells Dad that she dumped him, and asks for his help. Cue heavy drinking male-bonding time.
Dad says that Jang-mi is scared of marriage because of her parents’ bad relationship, and we see what happened when she was a child and was left alone. Her parents had a fight and both parents walked out, each of them telling Jang-mi to have a nice life with the other parent.
Five-year-old Jang-mi was left by herself, each parent thinking the other was with her, and had broken a glass and stepped in the shards, cutting herself badly. She spent three days alone, bleeding and hungry and terrified, not knowing if either parent was coming back.
Dad feels terrible for his mistake, and has spent the time since trying to get along with Jang-mi’s mother for their daughter’s sake. He blames himself for Jang-mi’s negative attitude towards marriage, and asks again for Ki-tae to help her.
Jang-mi’s mom tells her that Dad and Ki-tae are together at the restaurant, and by the time she gets there the men have finished off at least 8 bottles of soju. They’re both practically incoherent but adorably deny being drunk. Jang-mi just shoves Ki-tae to the floor where he sits giggling, and has a few drinks with Dad herself. HA.
Finally she takes Ki-tae home, where she has to literally drag him kicking and flailing out of the taxi and piggyback him inside. Poor girl looks like she’s wrestling a drunk octopus. She dumps him on the couch and tells him to just call this whole thing off and marry Se-ah. He mumbles that he can’t because “she’s just like my mom.” Jang-mi points out that he was going to marry her before, and he says yeah, because “she’s just like my mom.”
Ki-tae tries to stand but topples over and Jang-mi steadies him, bringing their faces close. For a long moment he looks at her, and then he leans in close…and shoves her away. Hee. He wobbles to the bedroom but trips and falls, and Jang-mi manages to haul him up and onto the bed.
Ki-tae kicks at her and hollers that he wants to be alone, and starts to undress (Jang-mi primly covers her eyes but isn’t above peeking), but he only gets his pants half off before he falls off the bed. She manages to get him back in bed and fend off his flailing arms and legs to get him undressed, and wraps him up in the covers. Well, that scene wasn’t nearly as sexy as it looked in the opening. POUT.
In the morning, a violently hungover Ki-tae finds his kitchen in a shambles. There’s a note on the coffeemaker telling him not to just drink coffee, but have some soup, which is still bubbling on the stove. Awww. He grumbles about the mess, but tries the soup and rice, and he feels better until he finds another note suggesting that they meet with their parents today and tell the truth.
Ki-tae flashes back to three years ago, when he brought Se-ah here to an empty house and told her that his happiest memories were when he was alone here as a child. They had agreed that this would be their first home as newlyweds.
At work, Hyun-hee stares at her silent phone, and Jang-mi tells her that Hoon-dong won’t be calling because she nearly killed him for sleeping with her. Hyun-hee’s voice shakes with anger and betrayal as she says that she thought Jang-mi was over Hoon-dong, so she doesn’t understand why she can’t date him herself.
Hyun-hee says that she knows that Hoon-dong loves Jang-mi and that he doesn’t like her, but she thought it could possibly have led to something. Tears fall as she cries that Hoon-dong won’t contact her now because Jang-mi interfered.
Ki-tae sits in his office and thinks over Se-ah’s baby ultimatum, and it says a lot about how much he loves his house that he’s actually considering this insanity. Jang-mi startles him out of his reverie, scaring the life out of them both, and asks if he’s ready to come clean to their families. He says that he’ll go, but after his appointments for the day.
Jang-mi waits for Ki-tae downstairs, and helps Yeo-reum carry out some garbage. She asks what he meant that his getting hit was her fault, and he says he’ll talk to her but not now…he wants a more romantic setting. Unfortunately, Aunt Mi-jung is lurking in a car nearby, and makes a call to report to someone that Jang-mi is meeting with the waiter.
Ki-tae can’t find Jang-mi and calls her, and she tells him that something came up but it won’t take long. Ki-tae hears Yeo-reum’s voice and is horrified that she’s even talking to him after he got paid to date her. He yells that he thought she wanted to be single, and hangs up on her.
Aunt Mi-jung calls Ki-tae and informs him (for a 200,000 won bribe, ha) that his mother is paying her to find out the relationship between Jang-mi and Yeo-reum. He tries to blow it off, reasoning that they’re going to come clean anyway, but ends up tracking her phone and going to find her.
Jang-mi and Yeo-reum talk, and she tells him the whole story about the fake engagement. He marvels that she did all that for no good reason, and she says she’s ending it anyway. He’s skeptical, knowing she can’t let things go easily, but she swears that it’s all over with him and Ki-tae both.
She asks why it’s her fault he got punched, and he tells her that he’s the one who made the kimchi cheese dish at the party. It’s her fault for giving him the kimchi. She’s touched that he made the dish, because she’s the one who thought to eat the cheese gratin with the kimchi.
Yeo-reum bursts her bubble a little and tells her that he was really inspired by a girl he knew a long time ago, who made wonderful kimchi pancakes. Then she made them for him and left him, and it put him off kimchi ever since. Jang-mi says that he must have loved that girl very much, and he says that it wasn’t like that – it was his mother.
Yeo-reum shakes off the serious atmosphere and stands to leave, but Jang-mi stops him. She thanks him for telling her something so personal and they smile at each other for a long moment. Yeo-reum teases that she must be falling in love again, and jokes that that story always works on girls.
Suddenly they hear the sound of a camera, and see a woman in a dark hoodie photographing them. They give chase but the woman loses them, only to run smack into Ki-tae, who thinks it’s his aunt and rips off her hood.
But it’s a stranger, and the woman gets up to deliver the camera’s memory card to Se-ah, who is standing right behind Ki-tae. She tells Ki-tae that she thought some hard evidence would help her case for a baby, and he growls that she hasn’t changed at all.
We go back to three years ago again, a while later, and Se-ah tells Ki-tae that she bought the place next door so that they could have more room. Ki-tae is furious, since he had told her how precious this home was to him.
Se-ah clearly doesn’t care what Ki-tae thinks, and laughs at him for his attachment to the house. She brags that she can find out his secrets and use them to get her way, then ushers in a group of workers and orders them to break down the wall between the apartments.
It’s the last straw, and Ki-tae orders the workers out, telling Se-ah that she can go with them. Back in the present, he accuses Se-ah of doing the same thing to him now that she did back them, and she says it’s his fault both times for pushing her away.
This tense confrontation is witnessed by Jang-mi and Yeo-reum, and also by Aunt Mi-jung who is crouched out of sight. Jang-mi spots her, and remembers that Ki-tae’s mother will force him to get married to the woman of her choosing if she can prove that his relationship with Jang-mi is fake. Looking back on the manipulation tactics of his mother and Se-ah, Jang-mi suddenly understands why Ki-tae is so opposed to marriage.
Ki-tae tells Se-ah defeatedly that she can just go tell his mother everything, he doesn’t care anymore. Jang-mi resists her natural urge to help, and tells herself that everything is going to be revealed anyway so she’ll stay out of it. But she remembers all the times that Ki-tae told her how badly he wanted to be alone, and she can’t help herself.
Just as Se-ah pulls out her phone to call Ki-tae’s mother, Jang-mi stops her. She says that she’s been patient because Se-ah and Ki-tae are old friends, but she’s sick of it. In front of everyone, she declares, “Gong Ki-Tae is my man.”
She takes a step closer to him, and he backs away a few paces asking what she’s doing. She mutters under her breath, “I’m an idiot.”
Then she throws her arms around Ki-tae’s neck and plants one on him. Ki-tae stands frozen for a moment, then his eyes roll back and he clasps Jang-mi close and deepens the kiss. Her eyes fly open, then close again – and suddenly they’re kissing with abandon, neither of them caring that everyone is watching.
All I can think right now is this: three cheers for cable television! So much kissing and skinship in this episode. I’m a very happy little recapper right now.
But seriously, how refreshing is it to be watching a drama that isn’t afraid to show adults having adult relationships and doing adult things? We’re not wasting episodes drawing out relationship plot points by pretending that grownups in their 20s/30s are scandalized by a hand accidentally brushing their shoulder, or pretending that things like kissing and sex only happen after a couple is, at the very least, engaged. I can only overlook so much before I start to have trouble suspending my disbelief and accepting that the proper response to an unexpected smooch is to stand stock-still with your eyes wide open. Raise your hand if you’ve ever done that while kissing someone. Yeah, me neither.
That aside, I’m finding myself more and more invested in these characters as time goes on. I’m still thrilled that, even though they may appear to be stock characters at first glance, nearly every person in the show is proving to have some very understandable and sympathetic (though sometimes seriously messed-up) reasons for their actions. Nothing happens just because “that’s what that character type does,” and there’s always a driving motivation behind their behavior.
I’m enjoying the way the show slowly peels back the layers a bit at a time, showing us the reasons why someone is acting or reacting like they are. And I feel like we’ve only touched on what’s under the surface, and that the show has a lot more to give us as we get to know them better. It’s a lot like how it is to get to know someone in real life: First you get the broad strokes of who they are, and the more time you spend with them and the more they open up, the more you understand why they are the way they are. It feels very natural, and explains why these characters feel so genuine and accessible.
The more I watch, the more impressed I am with the writing on this show. Information about the characters is doled out in just the right amounts and at just the right times, but never revealing more than we need to know at that moment. So many dramas give the viewers all the background information on the characters right away, leaving us to pull out our hair in frustration at watching them stumble around clueless for episodes, since WE know that if they just talked about X, or did Y, then everything would be fine. But in Marriage Not Dating, the audience doesn’t know any more than the characters do at any given time. We’re on that journey of getting to know their backgrounds and secrets right along with them. So I never feel like, “Why is s/he doing that stupid thing?” because I don’t have any more information than the character does. Their actions make as much sense to me as they do to the characters themselves.
I just can’t say enough about how much I’m loving this drama. I really have no complaints about any part of it. I’m happy to be along for the ride, wherever it takes me.
- Marriage Not Dating: Episode 5
- Marriage Not Dating: Episodes 3-4
- Marriage Not Dating: Episodes 1-2
- Marriage Not Dating’s reluctant groom and eager bride
- Clashing agendas at war in Marriage Not Dating’s teasers
- Han Groo stars opposite Yeon Woo-jin in tvN rom-com
- Honey Lee and Yeon Woo-jin as potential rom-com pairing
- Yeon Woo-jin offered leading role in new tvN drama