Angry Mom: Episode 12
The thing about a secret identity is, you kinda have to try and keep it secret to use it to your advantage. As the group of people in the know grows larger by the second, Kang-ja’s situation becomes even more precarious with every move she makes. Thankfully there’s also an upside to having more people on your side, like teamwork, and a newfound family of people that you can trust.
SONG OF THE DAY
Blue Paprika – “내게 말을 해봐” (Try Telling Me) [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
At the worst possible moment, Sang-tae eavesdrops on Kang-ja and Ah-ran plotting to take down his father. He learns that Kang-ja is Ah-ran’s mother (at this point is it faster to name the people who don’t know?) and reels at what he sees as stone-cold betrayal.
His father’s words echo in his ears. And when Ah-ran finds him lurking after Mom walks away and calls him a friend, he parrots Dad’s speech: “There’s no such thing as friends in this world. They’ll only stab me in the back at the first chance.”
He regrets extending kindness to her, which is funny since his idea of kindness and mine are a little different. He says that he thought Ah-ran was different from all the others, but he’s lost interest in her now. He tells her to go, as if he’s not the one visiting her in the hospital, and adds that her mother’s high-schooler playtime is over.
Ah-ran’s eyes widen and she chases after him, even getting into a cab to follow his car. Thankfully her friends overheard the tail end of her conversation, and tell Kang-ja that Ah-ran went after Sang-tae.
She not only went after him—she followed him into his house! Are you nuts? She creeps up to him as he starts to call Dad, and yanks the phone away to beg for another chance. She asks him not to say anything about her mother, but he argues that his father might be a terrible person, but he’s still his father.
They’re still in the middle of arguing when Chairman Hong comes home, and Ah-ran runs to hide, her fate now completely in Sang-tae’s hands. Sang-tae starts to open his mouth, but then something about the way that his father talks to Ae-yeon and makes her flinch in terror gives him pause.
Ah-ran holds her breath… and Sang-tae clams up and stalks off to his room. Well maybe there’s hope for you yet. Chairman Hong decides that he’s let Ae-yeon’s leash go slack for too long and drags her off for a fresh beating, and Ah-ran finds Sang-tae crying in his room.
He barks at her to leave while trying to hide his tears, but Ah-ran stays and gingerly puts a hand on his shoulder. She apologizes, and then sits with him for a while. She asks if Ae-yeon is his mother, and he spits back bitterly, “When he hits them like that, what kind of mother would remain in this house?”
Man, just when you think you can’t feel sorry for Hong Sang-tae. He softens and tells her that Mom left long ago, with the emphasis on saving herself. He tries to act like she did him a favor so he wouldn’t have to listen to nagging, but Ah-ran says that even still, she’d like to have her mom around.
Kang-ja sneaks into the house to rescue Ah-ran, only to find her deep in conversation with Sang-tae. She listens as Ah-ran tells him about how she wishes that she had a father growing up. But she did have a mom, and her mom always fought to protect her, even if it meant that she’d cry.
Kang-ja is shocked to realize that Ah-ran has known all this time, and Ah-ran says that she wished Mom wouldn’t have to fight because she knew that after tucking her into bed, she’d go cry by herself. But her mom fights even when she knows that she’ll lose, all to protect her.
Ah-ran knows it’s selfish to ask, but begs Sang-tae not to tell on her mom: “If something happened to her, I couldn’t live.” He turns to gaze at her, and tenderly wipes a tear away. Then he starts to inch closer for a kiss…
But Kang-ja looks up just in time to see him making the moves on her teenage daughter, and busts into the room. OMG, I’m so embarrassed for all of them right now. The look of horror on Sang-tae’s face is pretty priceless though.
Kang-ja’s in full-ajumma mode now, and waves her arms around at Sang-tae while snapping, “Where do you think you’re putting your lips!” He tries calling her Bang-wool in banmal, and that doesn’t go over very well.
She drags Ah-ran away and comes back to make Sang-tae flinch again with the warning that they’ll be having words tomorrow at school, and Sang-tae fumes indignantly that he’s the one who’s supposed to be mad right now: “Should I rat her out? Right now [baro]? Right now [baro]?” But then he’s quickly distracted by thoughts of the almost-kiss.
Kang-ja and Ah-ran are sneaking out when they see Chairman Hong take out a stack of files to give to Ae-yeon (who’s sporting fresh bruises, ugh). They’re forged documents that make Jung-woo the sole responsible party for the annex construction. I guess it’s time to throw Jung-woo under the bus.
Kang-ja sees Ae-yeon flinch and takes note of Chairman Hong’s request for the object that Jung-woo received from his mother. Once again, Ae-yeon catches Kang-ja trying to sneak out of a place she really shouldn’t be in, and warns her that she can’t keep doing this.
Kang-ja asks Ae-yeon to turn that object over to her, and Ae-yeon scoffs at her nerve. But Kang-ja warns that none of these men will become the lifeline that Ae-yeon needs—they’ll just use her and cast her aside as soon as it’s over. She asks Ae-yeon to try trusting her instead. Ah-ran is wary of trusting that woman, and tells Mom about the conversation she overheard between Ae-yeon and Dong-chil about getting Kang-ja out of school.
At home, Kang-ja sits her husband and mother-in-law down to try and explain how dire (and illegal) the construction project is, and what she’s trying to do. All mom-in-law can do is complain that she’s messing with her husband’s job security, while Kang-ja tries to spell it out for them that Jin-sang was set up to be the fall guy all along.
But he’s drunk enough of the Kool-Aid to think that his boss isn’t capable of that kind of deceit, and even goes so far as to say that it shouldn’t matter—everyone else just turns a blind eye and endures, so why can’t Kang-ja? Why does she have to keep fighting a battle that she knows she’ll lose?
You can see the disappointment written across Kang-ja’s face to see Jin-sang’s inner weasel so plainly. But he’s just as fed up, and declares that if she continues to do this, it really will be divorce for them.
At school the next morning, Kang-ja runs up to Bok-dong, who tries to give her the brush-off. He sure doesn’t seem to mind that she’s dragging him away while he’s whining ineffectually for her to stop touching him.
Sang-tae shakes his head at her and makes a point of asking Ah-ran if he ought to go rat the ajumma out. Ah-ran gets all chummy and asks if he wants to stop by the snack stand with her, and he looks pretty pleased to have her linking her arm into his.
Bok-dong shakes Kang-ja’s hand away and tells her again not to touch him, but this time she says that she knows why he’s being like this: “You li—” He cuts her off and says he’d be crazy to like an ajumma, though neither of them can actually say the word “like” out loud.
He catches himself and starts to call her ajumma repeatedly just to drive his point home, only to follow it up with the hilarious question: “Why did you tie my shoelaces?! There was no real reason for you to tie my shoelaces in that situation. You li— me first!”
But she doesn’t even hear his question because she sees heavy machinery driving by to restart the construction, and runs off before he can finish. Dong-chil walks by and Bok-dong tenses immediately, and all Dong-chil says for now is for Bok-dong to answer his phone.
Kang-ja runs into the school just as Noah is arguing with Jung-woo out in the hall. Jung-woo has brought the education board’s director and a parent representative to sign off on the construction, and no amount of argument from Noah will make them see otherwise.
Kang-ja notices that the education board director is none other than her bar serenade sleazeball, and takes the opportunity to scare the daylights out of him by walking right up in her school uniform. He nearly falls on his ass in shock, and Jung-woo notices and tells Ae-yeon to find out what Kang-ja’s deal is.
Now that he thinks she’s a minor, Kang-ja threatens the director to press for a re-inspection. But he tells her that this isn’t something he can change—the order came from on high.
She fills Noah in on the education minister’s backdoor deal to launder money through the school and secretly fund his presidential campaign. He’s the one behind it all, and his secret illegitimate son Jung-woo is the weak spot that they can use against him.
Noah sighs that it’s too makjang to be true, but Gong-joo arrives with the DNA results on a silver platter, literally. It’s a match, and Noah declares that this is enough ammunition to fight them with.
He’s so ecstatic that he grabs Gong-joo in a hug. She relishes the moment a little too long, just in time for Princess Minion 1 to walk in on them and gasp in horror. He yanks the tiny crown off his head and cries jealously, “Are you two dating? Was this crown all a lie?!”
He throws the crown away and runs off sniveling, and Princess Minion 2 chases after him, calling noonim an idiot. Aw, you hurt their tiny minion feelings! Go make it right!
Kang-ja gets a call from Jung-hee, who did some digging and found out that Jung-woo’s mother owned a restaurant near the education ministry but passed away ten years ago.
Meanwhile, Ae-yeon sits in Jung-woo’s bedroom growing antsier by the second, not knowing which scary bastard to trust. Here’s a thought: Why trust any of them at all? She starts looking around while Jung-woo makes coffee downstairs, comes upon a tape recorder hidden inside a book.
She listens, and from the look on her face, that must be the thing that his mother left him, and it must be a doozy of a recording. Ack, she’s too caught up in listening to notice Jung-woo walking in behind her, and he remains creepy-calm as he tells her that forcing him to show his hand resets the game to zero.
Team Princess strategizes for a way to out the birth secret without blowback on them, in the hopes that it’ll put some cracks in the tenuous three-way power struggle between Jung-woo, his father, and Chairman Hong. Noah comes up with an idea.
Later that night, he talks to Kang-ja on the phone to go over their plans, and when he suggests going to the campaign rally with her even though it’s on a school day, she nags his ear off. Bok-dong listens curiously and asks what they’re doing, worried that it could be dangerous.
Noah just tells him not to worry about it and lies down on the floor, insisting that he prefers it so that Bok-dong can have the bed. Aw. Bok-dong isn’t about to have that and lies down next to him to try and force Noah to take the bed, so then Noah decides to hug him until he gives up. This is too cute for words.
Bok-dong isn’t one to back down, of course, and when he really puts some muscle into it, Noah loses in two seconds flat.
Bok-dong receives an ominous text from Dong-chil telling him to watch Kang-ja closely so that something worse doesn’t happen, and it dampens his mood. Ugh, are you now using his crush on Kang-ja to keep him in line? Noah clocks the change in his expression, but just grabs him in a new wrestling bear hug, grinning like a doof.
Team Princess attends the education minister’s campaign rally dressed as volunteers, and they go around handing out flyers that look identical to the official ones. But they offer free soup from the restaurant that Jung-woo’s mother used to own, in honor of his son Jung-woo.
By the time the staff notices, the damage has been done, and Team Princess scatters to make a run for it. Kang-ja weaves through the neighborhood on foot, at one point stopping to yell at the staffer who’s chasing her for scaring an ajumma. She feels pretty confident that she’s lost him, when somebody yanks her from behind.
The education minister fumes and accuses Jung-woo and Chairman Hong of being behind this stunt, since no one else knows about their secret relationship. The three of them immediately start flinging accusations back and forth, just as Team Princess had hoped, though Chairman Hong decides that Ae-yeon is to blame and drags her off.
It’s been a while since the team reconvened without Kang-ja, and Gong-joo calls her repeatedly but gets no answer. They decide to go after her in case she got caught, but she finally comes in and says that she was detained for questioning… and in walks Bok-dong behind her, heh.
Rewind to earlier, where Bok-dong yanks her off the street to yell at her for doing crazy dangerous things like going after a presidential candidate who could make her disappear without batting an eyelash. He tells her not to treat him like a kid and demands to know what’s going on, so she fills him in on Jung-woo’s birth secret. Yes! Is he in the Scooby Gang now?
Bok-dong suddenly pleads with her sincerely to stop before she gets hurt, and she asks if Dong-chil is threatening her to control him. Bok-dong clarifies that it’s not an empty threat, because Jung-woo killed Yi-kyung. This is the first time that Kang-ja is hearing it outright, and her jaw drops as Bok-dong whispers that Jung-woo pushed Yi-kyung off the roof.
Back in the present, Bok-dong tells the rest of them the whole story, hanging his head the whole time as he says repeatedly that there was nothing he could do to stop it. Kang-ja tells him it’s not his fault, not that he looks like he believes her.
Noah is enraged all over again, and Kang-ja says that Jung-woo is still untouchable as long as his father is behind him. They have to find a way to out that relationship permanently, and she guesses that whatever Jung-woo’s mother left behind will be the key.
Jung-woo listens to the tape recorder at home, in which his father describes him as a stain that he wants removed at any cost. Yeesh.
The school is bombarded with phone calls from the press asking about Jung-woo and his father, and Jung-woo finally arrives at work and suggests putting an end to the questions once and for all.
Dong-chil scans the footage from the campaign rally and recognizes Gong-joo right away. Ruh-roh. Gong-joo doesn’t think much of it when one of her minions runs in, battered and bloody, and she just casually asks if another ninja (aka Bok-dong) broke in.
But this time it’s the big guns, and she finds Dong-chil beating the crap out of everyone in the hallway. To her minions’ horror, Gong-joo orders them to stay out so that she can talk to Dong-chil alone.
Princess Minion 1 calls Kang-ja crying, and Kang-ja runs out of school right away after leaving Ah-ran in Bok-dong’s care. Dong-chil is leaving as she arrives, and he simply tells her to go abroad before she dies. When Kang-ja heads inside, Gong-joo is eerily still and subdued. She doesn’t look physically hurt, but she seems in shock, or worse—scared numb?
Gong-joo says that she’s fine, but hands Kang-ja the tickets for her and Ah-ran to live overseas, and asks what she thinks about Dong-chil’s suggestion to run away. Kang-ja admits that she’s thinking about it, but they seem close to making waves and getting what they want.
Ae-yeon walks in and says that she’s right—they are close. She congratulates Kang-ja for winning, because the three men are tearing at each other just like they wanted. She peels off her sunglasses to reveal a black eye and adds that this is what happened to her as a result.
But she’s not here for blame, and finally admits that Kang-ja was right—she was nothing but expendable trash to them. She takes Kang-ja up on the offer to fight for her and get her revenge, and hands over a copy of Jung-woo’s recording.
As they listen to it, we see the scene in flashback, where Jung-woo’s mother approaches his father with a DNA test and asks him to claim his son and take responsibility for his future. Dad refuses and calls him a stain on his otherwise pristine career, and wants nothing to do with them.
Mom threatens to take the DNA test public, but Dad just counters that he can make them both disappear without a trace. Back in the present, Kang-ja exclaims that a monster made a monster, and Ae-yeon suggests that the best approach will be to play up Jung-woo’s father as a two-faced lying politician.
Gong-joo is still wary, and asks what made Ae-yeon suddenly change her mind. Ae-yeon admits that it’s for selfish reasons—she wants to live, and she realized that this is the only way to get out of this mess. Kang-ja thanks her for coming to them now, and promises to take up her revenge. I dunno guys, I’m nervous. Am I being paranoid?
Kang-ja even brings Ae-yeon home with her and officially introduces Ah-ran when she gets home. Bok-dong has looked after her all day and walked her home at Kang-ja’s request, and he lingers in the doorway to pick a fight with Kang-ja for treating him like he’s invisible.
He reminds her that he’s not the type of person to be walking girls home at night, but he’s doing all this for her, so she pats him on the cheek and coos that he did a good job, like she’s praising a child for eating his veggies.
He fusses at her for touching him again, and this time Ah-ran takes issue with him constantly calling her mother a girl, and he can’t think of a comeback other than, “Must be nice having a high-schooler for a mom.”
He brushes off Kang-ja’s offer to take him home, though he announces that he’s leaving like he really doesn’t want to go. Stahp it. If you keep being this cute, I won’t know how to quit you.
Kang-ja shares the recording with Noah, and they plan to play it during Jung-woo’s press conference tomorrow, where they assume he’ll be denying his connection to his father.
Noah’s father comes home and sees that Noah has a student over, but Kang-ja thankfully manages to at least hide her face in her hair, and runs out of there before getting caught. Dad suggests that there’s something off about that girl, and tells Noah to pay her more attention.
The school is teeming with reporters, and Jung-woo makes a call to his father to announce his plans. If it comes down to it, he’ll announce their relationship and play the recording to prove it. But then he says that it’s still more advantageous for him if his father becomes president, and offers an alternative: Dad acknowledges him, gains a son, and crafts his image as a contrite but loving father.
Kang-ja and Noah are prepared to play the recording from the sound booth in the school’s auditorium, and Ae-yeon offers to man that station so that they can both go down and question Jung-woo in front of the press. I don’t like this… not one bit…
The press conference starts, and Jung-woo refrains from answering anything outright until his father arrives and tells the press that he wanted to keep his son hidden to protect him. To Kang-ja’s shock, he plays the regretful father to perfection, and Jung-woo matches his acting skills with aplomb. They even hug and look a little teary-eyed (though Chairman Hong’s expression in the background is comically incredulous).
The reporters buy it hook, line, and sinker, until Kang-ja blurts that it’s all a lie and that she has proof. Ae-yeon gets the cue and plays the recording…
And instead of the one she was supposed to play, it’s a recording of the conversation she witnessed at Kang-ja’s house, with Ah-ran calling her mom and Bok-dong teasing her for being a high-schooler. Shit. Shit. Shit.
It’s being broadcast over the PA system at the entire school, and Ae-yeon comes down to look Kang-ja right in the eye, as if to put a stamp on her betrayal. ARGH. I knew you were shady, but damn.
Flashback to earlier when Chairman Hong was about to drag Ae-yeon off to blame her for the campaign rally stunt: Jung-woo stepped in to stop him, and that’s the moment when she chose his side.
Then after hearing his mother’s recording, she told Jung-woo everything about Kang-ja, and he came up with a way to catch the lion instead of the rabbit.
Ah-ran, Bok-dong, and Sang-tae run into the auditorium, and Kang-ja wraps her arms around Ah-ran protectively. Jung-woo walks over to them with a sneer and announces, “High school play time is over, Jo Kang-ja-sshi. It’s time to return to the kitchen.”
I’m so pissed that Ae-yeon put on the full victim act to gain Kang-ja’s sympathy. I was wary of trusting her, but even Gong-joo seemed to thaw this time around, and I thought there were genuine tears in her eyes when she came to them for help. I should have known you had changed your mind too quickly! I should have listened to Gong-joo! The thing is, I can’t blame Kang-ja for being too trusting, because that fierce loyalty and dogged trust is what makes Kang-ja a hero, and different from all the rest of us. I just also hate that she was so easy to let her in though, because it cost them their huge advantage—now she has no cover story, no recording, and no leverage. Not to mention the fact that she and everyone who knew her secret are now in deep trouble.
At least this puts the birth secret storyline to bed, because frankly it didn’t seem all that important when they SHOULD be going after Jung-woo for murder. I know they wanted to separate him from his father first, but his DNA pales in comparison to Yi-kyung’s murder, and I hope that we can focus entirely on the murder case for the rest of the series. I like that the stakes are high by putting a presidential candidate on the line, but this show is better when we’re dealing directly with the heavies—Ahn Dong-chil, Do Jung-woo—wielding actual weapons and being scary murderous villains who do scary murderous things.
I wasn’t surprised that Sang-tae softened in the end, though I wish his character had been given more time to develop. Ultimately I care less about Sang-tae so it doesn’t bother me, but had he struggled more with his crush on Ah-ran clashing with his loyalty to his father, it could’ve been more interesting. But as a foil for Jung-woo’s relationship with his father, today Sang-tae comes out on top for daring to choose Ah-ran’s side and for recognizing that he doesn’t want to be like his monster father. He’s sympathetic in his own way, though Ah-ran is far more forgiving than I would be. His fumbling attempt to be romantic does help make him more appealing—more like a teenager who’s all bluster, no bite—and I love the idea of Kang-ja watching him like a hawk just in case he tries any more funny business with her daughter. You picked the wrong mom to mess with, buddy.
Despite the monumental setbacks, it’s so heartwarming to see Kang-ja’s little family of avengers solidifying around her. Noah, and even the princess minions, have become more assertive, and Gong-joo continues to be the best mom ever, though I worry about what Dong-chil did to shake her up so badly. And now that Bok-dong is a part of the team too, I feel like everyone’s where they should be. I’m a little terrified about Bok-dong’s fierce loyalty putting him in harm’s way (Why is Dong-chil brilliant enough to threaten Kang-ja to get to him? WHY?), but I want to trust that Noah will love and protect him. Forever and ever and ever, please.