Ho-gu’s Love: Episode 8
We’re halfway through the show, and our characters are finally beginning to crack around the edges. Well, if they even have edges to begin with — I’m pretty sure Ho-gu is just one giant ball of fluff. That’s probably a good thing, because it’s hard to get too annoyed with a squishy puppy even when he runs full-steam ahead, trying to right wrongs that appear to be based on erroneous assumptions.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Eighth Foolish Act: “Let’s abstain from being physically affectionate in front of the house”
Kang-chul is surprised to see Ho-gu barge into his office, yet he cooly pulls himself together to greet him. In return, Ho-gu is surprised that Kang-chul remembers him, but Kang-chul thinks to himself, “How could I forget you?” and then pulls his hand away like it’s on fire when he realizes how long he’s been gripping Ho-gu’s hand.
Ho-gu has something to tell him about “what happened that night,” and a worried Kang-chul kicks his staff out of his office so they can talk in private. As Ho-gu glares at him, asking him if he’s afraid of other people finding out about “that night” (he’s referring to when he overheard Do-hee and Kang-chul talking at the hospital about “that night,” which Ho-gu interpreted to mean when they had sex), but Kang-chul’s actually worried about him remembering “that night” six years ago, when they “kissed.”
They cross-talk past each other, and Ho-gu becomes irate when a bewildered Kang-chul refuses to take responsibility for his actions “that night.” It wasn’t his fault — he wasn’t the one who started it. Ho-gu lunges for him, rarin’ for a fight, but Kang-chul spins out of the way, telling he won’t be fooled again (worried about another kiss, eh?).
Ho-gu’s fighting abilities seem to only destroy the office, though. Kang-chul tries to reassure Ho-gu that it meant nothing to him (to be kissed by “Ho-gu”) — there were no emotions attached, which to Ho-gu sounds like it means that sleeping with Do-hee meant nothing to Kang-chul. As Ho-gu scrambles back on his feet to continue his one-man fight, he sees the four-leaf clover that had fallen to the floor, and stops.
Quietly, he asks Kang-chul if he’s kept it all this time, and a frantic Kang-chul shouts that it means nothing to him. Panicking, he punches Ho-gu in the face, knocking him out and giving him a bloody nose.
At a pharmacy, Tae-hee cleans up Kang-chul’s bloody nose, asking why that jerk Kang-chul hit him. Ho-gu says it’s because of the four-leaf clover.
Flashback to high school, where Ho-gu nervously waits outside the sports center for Do-hee, the infamous comic of her in his hand. She ignores him as he follows her like a lost puppy until she finally spins around, telling him if he’s there to apologize for the comic, then forget about it.
All she wants to do is forget the comic ever happened and not have to deal with a guy like him. She orders him to leave her alone. But Ho-gu can’t forget about her, and later that night as he remembers watching her swim, he starts a new drawing. The next morning, he waits nervously at school, practicing what he’ll say to Do-hee when he gives the sketch book to her.
That’s when he notices her slipping the four-leaf clover into the book she returns to Kang-chul, which promptly falls out as Kang-chul walks away. Which is when he rushes up to return it to Kang-chul.
In the present, Ho-gu slowly walks back to the hotel, Do-hee’s baby in his arms. He thinks about the fact that Kang-chul has kept that clover all these years — which must mean that he still cares for Do-hee.
When Ho-gu returns with the baby, Do-hee furiously demands to know where he’s been all day, since she couldn’t get in touch with him. He smiles a little at the thought that she was worried about him, but she insists she was just worried about the baby. She notices the cotton swabs sticking out from his nose, and he stammers out that he just fell down. But she’s not buying it, and she narrows her eyes as Ho-gul nervously gulps, telling him that it looks like he actually… picks his nose? Hahaha!
Gong-mi thinks Ho-gu and Tae-hee must be related to the single mother case Kang-chul has been working (because they had the baby with them), and is ready to report them to the police, but Kang-chul tells her not to. In fact, he begs her not to mention them to anyone ever again. When he dismisses her for the day, she hands him the four-leaf clover that she found on the floor. He stares at it, remembering that day when “Ho-gu” kissed him.
In a flashback, a dazed high school student Kang-chul slowly walks home, only to be met with a slipper to the head as soon as he enters the door. Dad is furious that his son skipped school and smells like alcohol. He’s ready to bring a beat-down, but Mom throws her wine in Kang-chul’s face, calmly telling him to go focus on his English studies. Well, that’s one way to diffuse the situation.
For the next month, Kang-chul tries to avoid Ho-gu as he studies for his exams, and it almost works — he almost forgets about what happened that night, until Ho-gu runs up to him with the four-leaf clover. In his voiceover, Kang-chul says he was relieved that he didn’t react and that, afterwards, Ho-gu “pretended” he didn’t know Kang-chul, but he seems slightly disappointed that Ho-gu doesn’t acknowledge him when he passes by.
In the present-day, Kang-chul wonders why Ho-gu would show up now, all these years later, demanding he take responsibility for that night. Take responsibility for what, he wonders, as he throws the four-leaf clover into the trashcan and leaves his office — only to come back a minute later, stomping his feet in frustration as he retrieves the four-leaf clover from the trash.
On the motel rooftop, Do-hee reminds Ho-gu that he promised to return her silver medal to her. He digs it out of his pocket to hand it over, but she tells him he can keep it — it’s her way of repaying him for all he’s done for her. Ho-gu insists that he can’t keep it, but she reassures him that she’s going to win a gold medal instead.
Ho-gu reassures her that he doesn’t look down on her for having a kid — how could he, after having seen what it takes to give birth? He does wonder who will watch the baby when she’s swimming, though — Coach, perhaps. Do-hee tells him that her baby’s adoptive parents will take care of him. Ho-gu stares at her, stunned, but she just smiles, avoiding his gaze as she returns to her room.
When Ho-gu returns as well, he worries about all the heavy, greasy food that Coach has been buying for Do-hee. As a new mother, she needs to be careful about her stomach, and tells Coach she should eat things like seaweed soup. In the bathroom, Do-hee clutches her side in pain. Oh no.
Ho-kyung sits despondently on her bed in her, remembering her drunken encounter with Do-hee. With her messy hair and in her old tracksuit, she asks Dad if she’s pretty, and he carefully answers that she looks “comfortable.” Sad, she says that Do-hee must have thought she was a beggar. Dad tries to reassure that maybe she just appeared to be homeless, instead. Oh, Papa Kang, I lub you.
Ho-gu’s up early that morning, much to Mom’s surprise. He tells her he’s making breakfast because Dad’s busy, but Mom notes that he’s making seaweed soup, wondering if someone just had a baby. She points at Ho-gu: “You’re dating someone, aren’t you? And that woman has…” Ho-gu trembles until Mom finishes her sentence “…a birthday today.” Phew.
As Ho-kyung picks at her breakfast, she admits that she ran into the last person who should have seen her like this (and ew, she admits to not washing her tracksuit for three weeks). Mom thinks it must be a guy she likes, but Ho-kyung says it’s worse — it was that guy’s ex-girlfriend. I love that everyone’s horrified on her behalf. What a great family.
While he’s hanging up his laundry, Ho-gu sighs over the fact that Do-hee is putting her baby up for adoption, also remembering that Kang-chul asked him why he needed to take responsibility. Ho-kyung also sighs as she hangs up her laundry, remembering that Kang-chul said she was the second prettiest person he’d ever met.
She asks Ho-gu what it means if a man calls you pretty, but only the “second prettiest,” and Ho-gu says that it must mean the man likes the prettiest one more. When he finds out this is about “that blind date guy,” he tells her that she seems to like him, so she should call him. She sighs that all her dating books tell her not to appear too interested if she wants a second date.
Ho-gu says that she shouldn’t hold back. In art school, he’d carefully hoarded his paint, afraid to use too much of it — but in the end it dried up and he had to throw it out before it was even halfway used. So, too, is the heart — it will dry up if it isn’t used. In a moment a sincere sibling affection, Ho-kyung says that he should do the same, but Ho-gu just smiles, telling her that he was already going to.
Tae-hee and Chung-jae read through all the netizen comments on their final webtoon chapter, frowning at all the ones that say it’s the worst thing ever, and giddily laughing at the ones that say it’s a work of art. Chung-jae tries to reassure himself that even though their readers leave negative comments, they are still generous with their star ratings — except the ratings have dropped to 5.5 out of 10. Yikes.
As he melodramatically flops back in his chair, Chung-jae wonders how small-time artists like themselves can survive in this corporate world. But as soon as the phone rings, he scrambles to answer it — it’s their manager, and when he hangs up the phone, he tells Tae-hee to put away his work. Because they’re going out for dinner in celebration of getting a second season! Yay!
Elated, they call Ho-gu to tell him the good news, telling him to meet them at the squid restaurant. I’m surprised Ho-gu is even allowed to go back there, but he agrees, except he has to stop somewhere first.
Ho-kyung arrives at the restaurant, having been invited to celebrate with them because she helped by cursing them out and motivating them. Ha! Tae-hee asks her how her blind date went, and she moans that she can’t figure out the perfect way to text him. She ignores a mildly jealous Chung-jae when Tae-hee takes her phone to show her what kind of text would make him happy to get from a girl. Ho-kyung scoffs at it, but when Chung-jae distracts her, she accidentally hits “send.” Whoops.
She immediately calls Gong-mi to get her to delete it without him seeing, but for once, Gong-mi is not the keeper of Kang-chul’s many phones — instead, he’s working at home today. When the text goes through, he reads it: “Kang-chul-ssi, I miss you. Bbuing bbuing!” No time to think about it, though, because his housekeeper tells him he has a visitor.
It’s none other than Ho-gu, carrying a giant bundle. He slowly unwraps it, all the while very seriously telling Kang-chul that the only way for them to be happy is if Kang-chul sacrifices himself. Kang-chul hits the deck, yelling for his housekeeper to save herself, believing that the pot Ho-gu opens contains a bomb. Instead, it’s just the seaweed soup for Do-hee.
Ho-gu insists that he take it do Do-hee, which totally confuses Kang-chul, since it has nothing to do with him. When Kang-chul asks him why he should be curious about how she and the baby are doing, Ho-gu bursts out that it’s because Kang-chul is the father. He entreats Kang-chul to take the seaweed soup and make up with Do-hee so she doesn’t have to put the baby up for adoption.
He gets up to leave, admitting that this isn’t really his business, but he just had to ask Kang-chul for this one favor. Ho-gu adds that Kang-chul mustn’t just forget Do-hee. A thoroughly bewildered Kang-chul watches him go.
On the bus ride home, Ho-gu stands to allow a mother with a small child have his seat. He repeats to himself that Kang-chul can’t forget Do-hee — after all, he’s her first love and her baby-daddy. As he sadly walks home, he wonders what she sees in Kang-chul, though. In Ho-gu’s eyes, he’s just bad luck.
Coach is waiting for him with the baby, and tells Ho-gu that reporters have figured out where Do-hee has been hiding. He needs to leave the baby with Ho-gu for a while, and as Coach gets ready to leave, he notes that Ho-gu’s basement room is nice and cozy — a perfect place to hide. I’m sure bars on the window help in that assessment.
As Ho-gu happily babysits, Kang-chul sits alone in his giant apartment, piecing together Ho-gu’s various visits: the punch in the elevator; the fight in his office; leaving behind the seaweed soup. He wonders if it’s all because of Do-hee, and when he remembers the kiss with “Ho-gu,” he slams down the lid to the soup pot, insisting it can’t be that.
Do-hee lurks outside of Ho-gu’s house, ducking around the corner when she sees Ho-kyung walk up. Ho-kyung is once again tipsy, and as she stumbles in, she sees her old shoes in the trash bin — the same shoes that Kang-chul had tied for “Ho-gu.” Furious that her dad was going to throw them out because they’re old and worn, she yells at him, wondering if he’d like it if she threw out a memory as well — like his old love letters or wedding ring. She gets reprimanded by Mom, though — no one talks smack to her honey while she’s around!
Do-hee can only find Ho-gu’s room after she calls him to come get her, and when she’s getting ready to leave with her baby, she echoes Coach’s words, saying that his room is nice and cozy. She and Ho-gu both add at the same time that it’s a good place to hide. Methinks Coach was planting some seeds, because Ho-gu invites her to stay the night, saying it’s too late to find a hotel room.
He gets an extra set of blankets from Ho-kyung and makes up the bed. When he says that he’ll sleep at Tae-hee’s place, Do-hee tells him it’s so late, so he should just sleep here. He adorably fails at nonchalance as he tries to protest, but once he sees that Do-hee’s set up a spot next to the bed for him, he settles in.
Do-hee gently pats her baby as they try to fall asleep, but Ho-gu can’t bear the silence and turns on the radio. Lee Juck and Jung-in’s “Before Sunrise” plays, and just as he’s about to switch it off because it hits a little too close to home, Do-hee sleepily thanks him for that night in Yeosu. He also thanks her for that night, because of her, he had fun and was happy.
She asks him if she remembers it correctly, that they said they had no thought of dating each other. Ho-gu gulps and quietly admits that’s true. Rolling over, half-asleep, she says it’s a relief, because she feels like she’s becoming more of a jerk lately. Then Ho-gu says that he had no desire to date her — because when he was with her, he just wanted to love her. That’s all he wanted to do.
Memories of their happy night in Yeonsu fill Do-hee’s mind. She steps out, telling Ho-gu she needs to use the restroom. After she leaves, Ho-gu kicks himself for his cheesy words, but when he hears Do-hee sobbing outside the window, he gets up and goes to her.
Crouching next to the wall, Do-hee cries her eyes out, and Ho-gu asks if she’s okay — is she crying because she couldn’t find the bathroom? Is she’s hurt anywhere — is it her stomach? But she just tells him to shut up as she continues to wail. Ho-gu gently holds her and she rests her head on his chest while she sobs.
Kang-chul arrives at that moment with the bundle of seaweed soup Ho-gu left with him, and when he sees Ho-gu holding Do-hee, he drops the pot, spilling soup all over the ground.
Now that we’re halfway through, I’ve finally settled into the pacing and format of the show. There are layers to all our characters’ backstories and motivations, and I’m content to let the show take its sweet time in revealing everything. In a way, it almost feels a little more realistic, because when you first meet someone, you don’t immediately know about their past and their internal dialogues. So it makes sense that for someone as open and easy-going as Ho-gu would have his story revealed first. He’s not someone who really has any deep dark secrets.
Of the rest of the gang, Do-hee’s backstory is still the most mysterious — but that’s also just how she is. Her personal life is personal and she keeps her cards close to her chest. So even though I’m curious about why she doesn’t have any family (except for maybe Coach, who seems to be the only parental figure she has), or why for so long the only thing that’s ever mattered in her life was winning a gold medal, or who the baby’s father is, I’m not annoyed that the show hasn’t revealed everything yet. The production team seems to have put a lot of thought into how much they’ll peel back at any given moment, and I’m happy to trust them, since this show has been such a pleasant journey so far.
But I do feel like I need to address the “baby-daddy” angle for a brief moment, since from the beginning I never really trusted the clues the show gave us that pointed to Kang-chul. Oh, sure, I was willing to entertain the idea, because that’s obviously what the show wanted us to think — at least at first. But it just seemed too obvious in the beginning, and then it didn’t seem like it fit once the show got rolling and we learned more about Kang-chul. Although, I can’t wait to see the look on Ho-gu’s face when he eventually finds out that Kang-chul had nothing to do with Do-hee’s pregnancy.
Because Kang-chul is not the father, and I’m 100% sure he and Do-hee never had sex. Which led to a lot of confusion on my part, especially when reading everyone’s comments about the show and finding out how many people are adamantly convinced he is and they did. I’ve since discovered that at least one subbing site translated that hospital scene in episode 5 to explicitly say that Do-hee had asked Kang-chul to use a condom, and he refused because he doesn’t use condoms — never has, never will. But the reality is that the actual conversation is very, very vague. My bet is that what they’re really talking about has something to do with Do-hee’s contract with her agency, or some legal way to make sure the baby’s father is never discovered, or something related to the fact he’s a lawyer.
Maybe that’s why I don’t really hate him, despite the crappy comments he made in earlier episodes. In fact, I’m surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying Im Seul-ong the past few episodes. I hadn’t been sold on his acting ability up until he was able to flex his comedic muscles, and now I can’t get enough of his surprised, panicked faces.
That’s also why I also am still totally onboard Ho-kyung trying to mess with him, because while I think their relationship will be a bit of a disaster, I’m curious to know how he’ll handle the discovery that the “Ho-gu” he kissed was actually a girl. I’m hoping the show will handle it in a newer, more open-minded way than the standard “OMG! I’m not really gay, thank goodness!” freak-out that most male leads go through when they realize the boy they’re in love with is actually a girl. I have too much faith in this show to go through yet another reveal like that again.
Overall, despite the odd misstep or two, this show has managed to pleasantly surprise me by being so incredibly delightful. I consider it to be immensely watchable — I don’t feel that my intelligence is insulted; I care about the characters; the humor makes me genuinely laugh; and the heart-warming moments are sincere. While I’m more interested in seeing everyone live happily-ever-after by becoming each other’s friends and family, the chemistry between the leads satisfies me. I can believe that their slow path to romance is natural and organic, and will feel earned in the end.
Then again, we are only halfway, and who knows what will happen next.