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Ho-gu’s Love: Episode 15

Do-hee and Ho-gu still have a lot of things to clear up before they can be together, but until Do-hee can come to terms with her past and be honest, there’s not much hope. We finally learn who’s grave she’s been visiting all this time, and why that person made such a strong impression on Do-hee’s life. But that impression may not be such a good thing for her to keep carrying around, not if she wants to move forward and be happy. Part of moving forward is letting go of the past, however difficult that may be.

EPISODE 15 RECAP

Fifteenth Foolish Act: “Let’s not hide our face.”

Geum-dong rolls over for the first time, and as Do-hee and Ho-gu watch him, Do-hee tearfully suggests they stop. She means stop dating and Ho-gu agrees, but he’s only agreeing to stop fighting, admitting he got a little sensitive for a minute.

Meanwhile Ho-kyung confronts Kang-chul for giving Kyung-woo her number, accusing him of thinking about nothing but himself. He looks baffled when she asks if he even once thought of how she feels, which pretty much answers her question. She storms out, and Kang-chul clutches his chest — where his heart is suddenly pounding. He follows Ho-kyung and starts to tell her something, but he just nervously asks her to go to Geum-dong’s 100-day celebration with him.

Everyone shows up to Geum-dong’s party, but Ho-kyung looks miserable and doesn’t notice Kang-chul shooting her curious looks every time he gets a chance. Gong-mi calls for a group selca but Ho-kyung has difficulty getting everyone in the shot, until Kang-chul breaks out his selca-stick. Aww, he’s so proud, and doesn’t even notice everyone giving him the serious side-eye, hee.

Ho-gu and Do-hee sit for pictures, but the air is awkward and they have to be encouraged to smile and look affectionate. They break apart as soon as the pictures stop, but luckily nobody notices.

Tae-hee and Chung-jae invite Kang-chul out for drinks after the party, and it’s cute how he hesitantly asks if Ho-kyung will be going, too. She shoots them down, saying she’s busy, but the guys decide to go out together anyway.

Later that night Ho-gu hangs out with Ho-kyung in her room,and when asked, Ho-gu says he doesn’t want to be alone because there’s so much in his head. He’s wondering if he’s really just the underachieving loser everyone else sees, and Ho-kyung asks if being in a relationship isn’t what he thought it would be.

Ho-gu bluffs that it’s just fine thanks, but Ho-kyung asks if he’s feeling insecure about Geum-dong’s father. Ho-gu is surprised, but she’s a smart cookie. She says she figured it out from Do-hee’s comment that maybe the little mermaid didn’t speak, not because of a spell, but because her words would have angered the prince. She tells Ho-gu that in her opinion, Do-hee is hiding something.

Kang-chul comes home drunk and happy, and congratulates Geum-dong (he always calls the baby “Geum-deng” when he’s drunk, which cracks me up) on his 100-day birthday. Do-hee comments that Kang-chul seems more human since he became gay, but he protests — he’s not gay anymore! He passed that test and even made same-sex friends, which he thinks proves it.

Do-hee says he must have forgotten about Ho-gu then, making Kang-chul look up in surprise, wondering how she knew. She says that since there’s no way whatsoever that he could like her, she figures he’s tolerated all this change in his life because of Ho-gu.

Kang-chul admits that Ho-gu makes his heart race, but he’s not sure if it’s romantic feelings or culture shock. The only thing he knows for sure is that, because of Ho-gu, he’s able to understand Do-hee better. Now he knows how she could have wanted to hide, but expose her rapist, all at the same time.

Do-hee looks touched, and tells Kang-chul to stay gay – he’s a better person that way. Offended, Kang-chul clutches his metaphorical pearls and tells her, “If you like it so much, then YOU go be gay!” As he flounces off, Do-hee hollers that he’s just jealous because she stole Ho-gu from him. HA.

Kang-chul’s mom starts to tell her husband about some research she’s doing into homosexuality, but throws her pen down in frustration and says it’s all useless words. She asks why Dad is even in her room, which makes him twitchy, and he pretends it’s nothing. But before he leaves, he offers to sleep in her room (pretending he can’t sleep worrying about Kang-chul) and her eager agreement is adorable.

Kang-chul sits in his own bed and texts Ho-kyung, asking what he did wrong. She doesn’t answer, but looks sadly at the shoes he tied for her so long ago, and says that she’s getting tired. We see that Do-hee and Ho-gu are both up late too, thinking of each other and unsure what to do.

Everyone is up late worrying, and Ho-gu’s parents are no exception. Mom tells Dad that she met with Kang-chul’s mom again, who had cried that she’d gone through Kang-chul’s study and found Do-hee’s lawsuit papers. Shocked to know that Do-hee isn’t just a single mother but that she was raped, Ho-gu’s mom stays up late worrying, and finally gets up and starts to write a letter.

The next day Do-hee struggles at swim practice because of a sore wrist, and her coach calls a break. She sees that Ho-gu’s mom has come to see her, and they sit outside to talk. Mom says that Ho-gu takes after her and not his father, because really, she’s the soft-hearted one in the family. She just hides it well.

Mom calls herself “small-minded,” but Do-hee says that’s not it – it’s just that she’s a mother. With a very open expression, Do-hee says she knows Mom came her to say something difficult, and invites her to say whatever she needs to say. Mom gently takes Do-hee’s hand and massages her sore wrist, and tells her that she’ll have a lot of aches for a while after giving birth. Coach calls Do-hee inside for a minute, and Mom says she’ll wait for her to come back.

But when Do-hee returns, all that’s on the bench is an empty drink carton, and Mom is nowhere in sight. She finds Mom quickly, but ducks behind a pillar when she sees that Ho-gu’s dad is there too, and that Mom is sobbing on his shoulder. She cries that looking at Do-hee breaks her heart, and she couldn’t say what she came to say.

Do-hee goes back to the bench alone and picks up the discarded drink carton, wondering if Mom leaves notes in them like her son. Sure enough, there’s a note inside, and Do-hee takes it out — it’s the letter Ho-gu’s mom wrote late in the night.

The note is addressed to Do-hee, and Mom asks if she’s going to continue to raise her baby. She wonders about Do-hee’s parents and if they know, and asks permission to meet them (not knowing they’ve passed away). She asks Do-hee’s plans regarding Ho-gu, which makes Do-hee start to cry, understanding now what a hard time Ho-gu’s parents are having with all this.

Ho-gu brings Geum-dong home, but instead of finding Do-hee in Kang-chul’s apartment, he finds CEO Park and her assistant packing up Do-hee’s things. CEO Park tells Ho-gu that she’s arranged everything — Do-hee will live in the company dorms, and that she’ll be taking care of Geum-dong herself until they can arrange a formal adoption.

Ho-kyung is still ignoring Kang-chul’s texts, and has a hilarious conversation with herself with her face half-made-up. Her bare side wonders if she should let Kang-chul win this one, but her made-up side angrily forbids herself to call him. Her bare side asks if she should at least call him back, and her made-up side snaps that she’ll never do it.

Ho-kyung goes out in her raggedy tracksuit, and finds herself face-to-face with Kang-chul. He’s come looking for her, but doesn’t even realize it’s her with her hair up and no makeup on (I love the running gag that Ho-kyung is completely unrecognizable without her makeup). Ho-kyung goes with it, and pretends she’s just passing by the house. She meets Gong-mi for drinks, and wonders if there’s a man in the world she could ever show her bare face to.

Ho-gu calls Do-hee from Kang-chul’s place, but she says she’s going straight to her new dorm from practice. He asks to see her, because the photographer is going to frame Geum-dong’s picture and he has something to give to her. Do-hee agrees to meet him at the photography studio, and quickly hangs up. We see that she’s not at practice, but at her friend’s grave, where she finally speaks her friend’s name — Ji-yoon.

Ho-gu holds a letter and swears that today he’ll tell Do-hee… something. He goes into Kang-chul’s study for some glue, where he sees a file marked with Do-hee’s name. He reads it, and his face falls. When Kang-chul comes home, he finds Do-hee and Geum-dong’s things all missing and Ho-gu sitting on the floor of his study, holding the file and in a state of shock.

Kang-chul calls Do-hee to let her know that Ho-gu saw the file, and she hangs up and says sadly, “Ji-yoon, my prince found out.” She thinks back to the day her classmate refused to eat the purity candy, and sure enough, the girl is Ji-yoon, who is now deceased. Later that day, Ji-yoon waits for Do-hee after swim practice, and Do-hee offers to teach her to swim.

Ji-yoon accepts, but admits afterward that she actually hates swimming because she hates the feeling of the water confining her — she just doesn’t want to go home. Do-hee notices some pretty serious bruising on Ji-yoon’s torso, but Ji-yoon only says that she hates everything having to do with her body and that she won’t go swimming again. Back in the present, Do-hee tells Ji-yoon’s grave that, since Ho-gu is a prince, the least she can do is say a final farewell.

Kang-chul comes clean about the lawsuit papers to Ho-gu, telling him that this is why Do-hee came to him in the first place. Ho-gu wants to know who assaulted her, but Kang-chul admits he doesn’t actually know. He says that he buried it for the sake of Do-hee and the company, and that above all, Do-hee hadn’t wanted Ho-gu to find out.

Do-hee sits in CEO Park’s car and remembers going to Ji-yoon’s house for the first time, where she’d seen Ji-yoon come running out with her face bloodied and her clothing torn half-off, having obviously just been sexually assaulted, and not for the first time. The girls had sat in a park, and Do-hee had urged Ji-yoon to make a police report. Ji-yoon says that her abuser would only tell the world that she seduced him.

Do-hee said Ji-yoon should at least tell her parents, but she really can’t do that – the shock would kill them. But most of all, Ji-yoon says she doesn’t want people looking at her like Do-hee is looking at her now, with pity in their eyes. In the present, Do-hee realizes that if she sees Ho-gu now, he’ll look at her in that pitying way, too. She tells CEO Park to just drive her to the dorms, and looks at the seat next to her, where the specter of her dead friend Ji-yoon sits.

Their drive takes them right past the photography shop, and Do-hee sees Ho-gu there waiting for her. She doesn’t say anything as they pass, and Ji-yoon’s spirit puts a comforting hand on her shoulder as Do-hee starts to cry.

Ho-gu waits all day next to the photo of himself, Do-hee, and Geum-dong looking like a happy family, displayed proudly in the shop window. Finally after dark, the shop owner asks if he wants to take the picture, but Ho-gu declines, saying his friend will certainly come to see it tomorrow.

But she never does, and after some time goes by the photo is relegated to a corner of the window, half-hidden behind another photo. In his office, Kang-chul checks the latest installation of a webtoon called “Winged Baby,” by Kang Ho-gu. Geum-dong’s story is now a popular webtoon, but Kang-chul declares it boring as usual, hee.

He heads to court, but Gong-mi doesn’t jump up to wish him luck anymore… kinda hard to do when you’re hugely pregnant. Kang-chul gapes at her massive belly, which Gong-mi says (amongst many eyerolls) that he’d have noticed if he ever paid attention to anyone but himself. At least Kang-chul has the grace to look chastened, having heard this particular accusation before.

Gong-mi’s babydaddy, Chung-jae, yells at Tae-hee and his new girlfriend for making kissyfaces at each other at work when he’s trying to earn money for diapers. He gets even more upset when they exclaim at how popular Ho-gu’s webtoon has gotten lately.

Coach marvels to Do-hee at practice about how good Kyung-woo has gotten lately, having recently won a gold medal and setting records right and left. He tells Do-hee to work harder, since her CFs have been given to her teammates, but Do-hee hardly seems interested. Coach says there’s a gold medal in it for her if she does, but Do-hee doesn’t seem as eager for a gold as she used to be.

As she heads listlessly back to the pool, we see that Do-hee had been more interested in reading Ho-gu’s latest webtoon. Apparently Ji-yoon’s spirit is still following her, and she chastises Do-hee that she’ll never win a gold medal this way.

Do-hee visits Geum-dong (he’s gotten so big!) at the orphanage, but the lady who takes care of him doesn’t seem to know she’s his mother. She mentions that another visitor brought Geum-dong some really great diaper cream for his rash, and Do-hee notices a familiar rattle in Geum-dong’s things, but she doesn’t remember bringing it for him. Awww, is Ho-gu visiting Geum-dong, too?

Do-hee meets with CEO Park about some possible CF offers, but doesn’t seem interested in those, either. Things get super awkward when Kyung-woo enters the room, and at least CEO Park looks upset that he showed up early for their meeting. Do-hee leaves the room, only slowing to give Kyung-woo an icy glare. In the hallway she asks his photo why she has to avoid him, and Ji-yoon’s reflection reminds her that fighting him could get her hurt.

Ho-kyung comes running into a bookshop, where Ho-gu is dressed to the nines but hiding because he’s gotten a rip in his pants. HA. He blames her for dressing him in too-tight pants, but she says she was only trying to make him look good for his signing event. Luckily, she’s brought him some new pants.

As Ho-gu heads to the signing table, he runs smack into Do-hee, who looks just as surprised to see him here. They make halting small talk, but Ho-kyung arrives to announce that this is Ho-gu’s signing event, and brag that he’s soooo successful now. Ho-gu is called to the signing table, and Ho-kyung circles Do-hee like a vulture then leads her out for a talk.

Ever the straight-shooter, Ho-kyung asks point-blank why Do-hee just disappeared like that. She tells Do-hee that everything started going well for Ho-gu after she left, which Do-hee takes gracefully.

Later, alone in her dorm room, Do-hee thinks about the next thing Ho-kyung had said to her. She’d told Do-hee that Ho-gu is getting married, but that he didn’t want Do-hee too know. Do-hee had hidden her devastation, extending congratulations to Ho-gu, but Ho-kyung told her to tell him herself. Do-hee sits in the dorm, alone and frustrated, with only Ji-yoon’s memory for company.

She goes to Kang-chul to talk, who confirms that he also heard about Ho-gu’s upcoming wedding. Do-hee pretends they never really had anything, and comments that Kang-chul’s place is back to feeling cold and empty. She noticed he hasn’t changed his pass-code, which is so cute – I knew he secretly loved having people drop by.

When Kang-chul asks if Do-hee plans to go to this year’s class reunion, she plays it cool, but shows up anyway. Her classmates scramble for pictures and autographs, and she finally has enough and retreats to the restroom, where she runs into Tae-hee. She asks him if Ho-gu is coming tonight, but Tae-hee says he’s too busy with wedding preparations.

Do-hee decides to leave, and finds herself face-to-face with Ho-gu, who came after all. They go for a walk by the Han River, where Do-hee gets all flustered and insecure. Finally she gets up the guts to apologize for not saying goodbye, but Ho-gu just coolly excuses her, knowing she was busy then. She asks if Ho-gu visited Geum-dong and left him the rattle, but Ho-gu denies doing any such thing.

They sit on a bench and have some juice, and Do-hee mentions Ho-gu’s upcoming wedding — but he’s still playing things close to the vest, and doesn’t offer any more information. She asks what he wanted to give her that day at the photography shop, but he wonders why she wants to know now, so long afterward, and refuses to say. He admits he suffered a lot then, and doesn’t feel like comforting her.

He goes looking for a restroom, and Do-hee notices he left his empty juice box on the bench. Knowing how he leaves things that hurt behind this way, she checks, and sure enough the empty box contains a letter. Ho-gu had written it the day CEO Park had moved Do-hee out of Kang-chul’s place and taken Geum-dong away.

In the letter, he reminds Do-hee how she asked him what his plans were, if not dating. He’d said he didn’t know if they were dating, in love, or just flirting, but he knew one thing: Do-hee is “my Geum-dong’s mom.” She hadn’t given up on Geum-dong, and had gone through so much to have and keep him — to Ho-gu, that makes her an amazing woman.

He’d entreated Do-hee not to feel guilty or ashamed, and just to be happy. As Do-hee reads this and realizes what she missed out on, she lets her grief roll over her and gives in to tears. She thinks to herself that Ho-gu is her happiness, and wonders what she’ll do now that she’s lost him.

A bit later, Ho-gu and Do-hee stand at a crosswalk waiting for the light, and Ho-gu muses that it’s probably too cold to go to the beach. He sighs to himself, “I want to see the sea,” and Do-hee looks up hopefully. Ho-gu shakes her hand in farewell and heads across the street, leaving Do-hee on her side — girl, that was your green light, go go go!

Do-hee stands for a long moment, frozen with indecision, and says in voiceover that she still doesn’t know why she acted the way she did that day. Maybe it was the full moon, or the night air, but for the first time, she became a loser. She runs to Ho-gu, leaving the ghost of Ji-yoon standing alone by the side of the road.

Do-hee grabs Ho-gu’s arm and he whirls around, and now his hopeful expression matches her own. “Let’s go to the sea,” she says, but Ho-gu reminds her that he’s getting married. Do-hee’s face falls and she apologizes for forgetting, but Ho-gu swoops in to shut her up with a kiss.

COMMENTS

I love this last scene so much! It’s wonderful to see Ho-gu and Do-hee play out their earlier meeting with their roles reversed, and this time Do-hee has to be the one to let go of her insecurities and go for what she wants. Since she’s the one who gave up on love for fear of what Ho-gu would think of her, without even bothering to ask him (more on this later), she needed to be the one to fix it. And I think Ho-gu played her quite skillfully.

Because at this point — and I haven’t seen the finale so no spoilers please — I’m positive this whole wedding thing is a red herring. If Ho-gu is planning a wedding to anyone, it’s to Do-hee. I’m pretty sure he and his friends cooked this up to make Do-hee feel a bit desperate to make her feelings known. While I don’t normally support lying and manipulation, in this case (and knowing how Do-hee only digs her heels in when confronted directly), I think a little smart maneuvering is in order. Do-hee is like a skittish fawn that you can’t approach directly, you have to come up on her slowly and sideways, and make her think that coming to you is her idea. So in this case, I think (what I’m sure is) the plan worked perfectly. And it’s not even really lying, if you think about it… the person Ho-gu is planning to marry is almost certainly Do-hee, and nobody mentioned the potential bride’s name!

The whole final scene was orchestrated perfectly, and is such perfect proof of how well Ho-gu knows and understands Do-hee. He made sure she heard about his upcoming wedding, so that she would be thinking of him and worrying that he’s lost to her. Then he reversed their roles from the previous reunion, where this time it was her who went there hoping to see him and he was the one who showed up late. He played hard-to-get while she tried to get his attention, and he knew she would look in that juice box when he left her alone with it and see the letter. Finally, he made sure to say the one thing that would let her know exactly where he stood, when he said he wanted to go to the sea.

I do hope that Ho-gu makes her work a bit harder before he lets her completely off the hook, though, because the way she left things with him was inexcusable. I can understand her lingering fears about him discovering that Geum-dong was a product of rape, and her reluctance to see him looking at her with pity. Never think that I don’t have the utmost sympathy and understanding of why Do-hee made the decision she made not to see Ho-gu again. But she did owe him a final goodbye, and at the very least she should have asked for more time and then said goodbye properly. Just disappearing is never okay, in my opinion. I’ll admit to feeling a bit of satisfaction that she got to read Ho-gu’s letter and feel the loss of what could have been, if she’d only given him a chance. She should have known that Ho-gu is a better man than to blame or pity her for something that wasn’t her fault.

But I’m also glad that Ho-gu didn’t let Do-hee twist in the wind too long. She may be prickly and haughty, but she’s got a squishy tender inside, and too much punishment could have sent her running away again. I love that he dropped the one hint that would show her exactly how he felt without actually saying it, by mentioning the sea. He knew she’d hear that for the invitation it was, and she would know his feelings in that moment.

Though I have yet to see the finale, I have to weigh in with some early final thoughts. I’ll admit that, though I was excited for the show just based on the casting, I was a bit disappointed when the first couple of episodes turned out to be darker than expected. But I was intrigued enough to stick with it, and I’m so glad I did. Ho-gu’s Love tackled some pretty serious issues our world faces today, including but not limited to rape, single motherhood, and alternative sexuality. But the characters were never made into caricatures, and they were always handled with care and sensitivity. I have to tip my hand to the deft and skillful writing, too, because the way the layers of the characters’ pasts were peeled back slowly and at just the right times, was such a wonderful way to shed light on their feelings and behaviors in the present. I always felt like there was a direction and purpose to where the storytelling was taking us, and that was proven time and again as each secret and piece of history was revealed.

And last but not least, the highest of kudos to the entire cast of Ho-gu’s Love, for taking on such important yet scary topics, and making us love each character not just in spite of their faults, but because of them. This truly is one of the best-cast dramas I’ve seen, and I think Choi Woo-shik, UEE, and Im Seul-ong each portrayed their characters with exceptional skill and sensitivity. I’ve been a fan of all three of them as actors for some time, but I can say with confidence that they all exceeded anything I’ve seen them in before. I’m leaving this show extremely impressed in every respect, and it’s set a bar for dramas, for me, that’s going to be very hard to beat.

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Honestly, I felt like I had no idea what was happening in this episode (Hogu's wedding? Do-hee now having visions of her dead friend? Pregnant secretary? etc.). The various twists and turns... just left me confused.

<they were always handled with care and sensitivity

The characters, yes, mostly – but the topics they tackled I thought quite the opposite. I suppose one could say "Yay for speaking about taboo issues" but ultimately I didn't enjoy how adoption, homosexuality and rape were handled in this drama. Too serious topics for me to, in the end, "dismiss".

<I have to tip my hand to the deft and skillful writing

I felt like the writing was the weakest part. The characters had a lot of heart, the early comedy (the fantasy sequences especially) and the casting all worked but... I felt too manipulated by the plot again and again. I don't know – the first six episodes or so seemed carefully plotted, the rest a lot more random (ep. 15 in particular) and manipulative.

I mean, did we really need Do-hee to run away again? Disappear for months? (Seriously?!?!) And then pity herself that she's too late now? (What was she expecting? If she hadn't run into him, was she expecting that he wait for her for years?) I get that she was presented as a character that has no trust in people and functions on her own, but rather than the typical noble idiocy separation I would have much, much preferred if she had tried trusting Ho-gu and we would have seen them struggle through building the relationship (romantic and as a family) – because her running away again felt to me like she hadn't learned anything over 14 episodes and that, ultimately, makes them getting together and having a lasting relationship much less convincing.

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I'm with you on this one, alua. I love the cast and there was a point at which I really liked the show in general, but I've avoided weighing in on the recaps so far mainly because the portrayal of the various issues - reaching a tipping point with the reveal that Do-hee was raped - is something I wasn't happy with at all, unless it's in a very superficial "at least it's getting talked about" way.

So yea, definitely a case where the actors kept me watching more than the script.

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You have my endorsement as well alua. I'm honestly surprised the dramabeans staff has been so up on this. Lollypip admits in the opening that there's a lot of things that need to be cleared up- and that we have exactly one episode left to do this. If this Hogu/Do-hee split up had been the halfway point (or even the two-thirds point) we could have convincingly had Do-hee come to grips with her issues. But as it stands the drama's going to have to pull a happy ending out of nowhere, because almost of the screentime has been spent on hiding Do-hee's backstory rather than having her confront it.

I'm also not willing to give any credence to the way Hogu's Love handled sensitive issues. Any momentum we could have gotten from Kang-cheol thinking he's gay was totally undercut by the way the drama simultaneously made him the butt of mean-spirited jokes.

For the sake of contrast, Persevere Hera Gu had a gay character that was handled much more tastefully- in the first place because the character actually was gay, and in the second place because the matter was only ever discussed when it was relevant to the story. What's more, Persevere Hera Gu was tonally a very similar drama to Hogu's Love- same sense of humor, same iffy writing, same quality performances. So the difference isn't a matter of tone.

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I actually appreciated how all the issues were handled. I thought it addressed each with respect to unique issues faced in Korean culture and society.

1. The challenge of going through a formal adoption because of the requirement that children be placed on a family register is a foreign concept in the west. It actually touches on how dangerous traditional requirements makes for parents (especially single mothers) to do "right" by the child they don't want to raise. I thought it was interesting that abortion was presented as the obvious choice, especially with it being such a contentious issue in the US.

2. I actually don't think it was about homosexuality so much as discovering one's own sexuality. Even the acronym LGBT suggests that sexuality may not be static, but when presented with a character whose sexual orientation actually wasn't clearly defined for much of the series, people were mad. The show didn't treat homosexuality as a disease or something to be cured. It made since that the character and his family wouldn't want him to be gay--it would have an adverse impact on his career and their social status.

3. I thought the rape was handled satisfactorily. She initially wanted to take legal action and was rebuffed. The risk of losing everything coming forward was real. That pity from people was what she feared more than judgment was real. Pity can be far more stifling than judgment, especially for a character like Do Hee.

Yes, it made since that Do Hee ran away again. She had to see w/her rapist everyday and Ho Gu walking around talking about "why can't we just be happy?" The disconnect between her reality and his fantasy was huge. People on here sound like Ho Gu, "Yeah she was raped, but why can't she just be with Ho Gu?" Personally, the show seems more responsible and reasonable in it's handling of the situation that many commenters.

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The adoption bit actually made me mad, because while South Korea does have an arduous process for putting kids up for adoption, the reason these regulations are in place is because of heavy lobbying from special interest groups. Specifically, special interest groups represented by parents who gave their children up for adoption and those same kids who were later adopted.

If you trawl around on the websites for these organizations (American ones too) you'll frequently find that they violently oppose complete anonymity in the adoption process. Children are upset because this makes it nearly impossible for them to find any information about their birth parents, and birth parents are upset because they later felt that by taking an easy out they lost their chance to address whatever personal problem made it so that they were forced to give up their child for adoption in the first place.

So it's not actually a traditional thing at all. American adoption organizations have actually expressed a lot of envy for their Korean equivalents, because the Korean versions are much better organized and have excellent message control. A lot of this ties into the checkered history South Korea has had with adoption...which is getting kind of off-topic so I'll stop now.

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You're right. The lobbying is what helped pass laws to make the adoption process easier to access in the future, should adopted children want to contact their birth families. And that is something that adopted children should be able to know.

However, the problem with the implemented laws is that this means that birth parents have to publicly register themselves as having had a child. This is a problem because many parents who give their children up for adoption in Korea tend to be single mothers who had their children out of wedlock.

While Korea may be changing, its traditional view of familial blood and proper marriage is so strong that to have a daughter give birth to a child out of wedlock is grounds enough to bring shame upon her entire family. If you thought that America had a problem with men impregnating women and running, Korea, with thousands of years as a misogynistic culture still struggles to accept - much less support - women in this situation, no matter how or why she became pregnant out of wedlock in the first place. This is enough to ruin a Korean woman's career, and often leaves her as a social pariah in any kind of context.

So, in the context of Fool's Love, Do Do Hee, as a national celebrity, faces this and the added pressure of having her life broadcast across the entire nation. She did the best she could, because while she is a mother, she's also trying to make a living for herself, and having EVERYONE who's ever loved you or even liked you suddenly shun you is a scary thing to face utterly alone, all because you had a baby before marriage.

So the drama, I believe, did a rather brave and excellent job at addressing something that is not easy to address, when the culture ignores the problems it wants to.

Small context here: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21651873-once-among-biggest-sources-infants-international-adoption-south-korea-stemming

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Loved this show....thanks for all the recaps!

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I can tell this is a polarizing show, but I love it too. And yes, thanks for the recaps.

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I think people really don't have enough empathy for Do Hee's actions as a rape victim. Saying she should do this, or "owes" this person this just strikes me as really callous for a girl who never really got to deal with her pain. Her pain is barely been verbalized. She really broke my heart, especially seeing the history of women suffering from such a heinous crime as we saw in her friend who I presume ultimately took her own life while the criminal likely went unpunished. Life is unfair and agonizing sometime. I just want Do Hee to have a happy ending more than anyone else on this show.

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She doesn't owe anything to anyone of course. But this drama is trying to sell a story – a "happy ever after" story, which means character development is needed.

All we know is she runs away for presumably at least 6 months (I'm guessing on the basis of the size of the Gong-mi's stomach) and that she trains during that time – not how she deals with her pain AND with the trust issues she has with people, which are both things she should be struggling with. We need see her struggling with and starting to overcome these issues, bit by bit, if that happy ending is going to be compelling – but we don't. They are just reunited, there's a promise between them ('we'll do this together') and the happy-ever-after – but how did Do-hee get there? How do we know she isn't going to run away again? What changed for her during those six months? Or is just that suddenly hearing Ho-gu is going to be snatched away by that does it? (I can see that as something causing her to act, but it really says nothing about how she dealt/has started to overcome her pain/trust issues.)

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Then maybe the people in her life should try harder to help her. Like they should have tried harder when she "ran away" knowing how much pain and unfortunate shame she was feeling. If Ho Gu feels the need to be dishonest to get what he wants that's on him. Getting that note to her from the get go would have been just as effective as making up some dumb story to force her hand maybe before she was ready. Getting that beautiful letter to her would have worked just as well. I wish the show could have spent more time on her and her feelings and process through those six months instead of her as some award Ho Gu deserves for inserting himself into her life. That said, I love that this show does not take the easy way out in showing how messy life is.

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Well, Ho-gu has been trying to support her and help her all along – when he takes her to the sea, when he stays with her at birth & returns despite being sent away, taking care of the baby once born, including when returning yet again when it's 'adopted' and he is sent away.

I do agree Ho-gu (but also Ho-kyung and Kang-chul and the other boys) should have tried harder, esp. knowing the truth and also who goes from daily contact to nada just like that? (Ok, people do, but it's weird that all of them did.) That said, Ho-gu waited every day at the photo store – he was stood up, so in some way the ball was in Do-hee's court.

But ultimately, whatever they did or didn't do – it comes down to writing and (lack of) character development. It's the writers that dropped the ball. Both Ho-gu and Do-hee didn't communicate after a misunderstanding in high school (they are immature); Do-hee disappears after their night at the sea (no growth – ok, we're early in the drama); baby is born and Do-hee sends Ho-gu away, but he comes back and she accepts some of his help (some growth); baby is 'adopted' and she sends Ho-gu away but accepts him back when the baby returns (still the same); they agree to be in a relationship but break up after 1 (!) day without trying to communicate (no growth on either side); they briefly interact when they do a repeat of the 100th day celebration, soon after Do-hee runs away again – meaning that we're back to square one. But at this point we should have seen some character development (e.g. both trying to communicate and fighting to make the relationship work) – not total disappearance and then a reunion that glosses over the pain and trust issues to skip over to the happy ever after.

The dishonest bit... yes, it was stupid and also felt out of character (as did Ho-gu not trying to talk to Do-hee after he did finally find out about the rape, given the soft-hearted person he is).

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The thing is, as far as we can tell, Do-hee didn't have anyone in her life until after she had give birth to the rape baby. And when she did get this community, Do-hee just continually jerked them all around. Never mind telling them about the rape- Do-hee couldn't even talk straight with Hogu about what was going on with the baby's adoption plans.

The rape storyline ultimately wrecked this drama for me because I felt like it was just an excuse to make us feel sympathetic for Do-hee when until this episode it wasn't even confirmed for sure that she was raped at all. This kind of thing needs to be set up better.

For a sake of contrast, I really loved the short drama Mother's Choice from late last year because it prevents a compelling portrait of a rape victim even though she's really only a secondary character. It also seriously depicts the social stigma involved from that, and builds a nuanced view of the overall situation. If we're talking public awareness of rape issues Mother's Choice was was easily ten times the value Hogu's Love had in that department, and it only had two episodes to do it in.

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Why did she have to tell them about the rape? Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell family, let alone newish friends? A good friend of mine felt with this -and she had a master's in counselling, so she knew how she was "supposed" to act. When she called me, she hadn't reported it or gone to the hospital -she'd spent most of the three days since the rape in her closet, hidding. She is a very strong, intelligent women, and that was how she reacted. It took over a year for her to tell her brother-she won't tell her parents still. She's dated a few times, but never told any of them what happened yet.

So, no, I don't think do hee had to tell everyone. That's not realistic at all

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I don't think Do-hee needed to tell them about the rape, but at the very least we needed to know that much, because her actions took place in a rather frustrating vacuum of context. Looking back I'm still not sure the rape reveal was even relevant. If it had just been a drunken hookup Do-hee's actions would have been equally, if not more plausible.

I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your friend. That's a terrible traumatic thing she had to go through. And that's really the main issue I have with Hogu's Love. It hasn't been treating the issue of rape with serious respect it deserves. From my perspective it was just awkwardly tacked on to give apparent social relavance to a subpar romantic comedy.

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<Why did she have to tell them about the rape?

She doesn't, not until she's ready to. Ideally, she'll trust Ho-gu enough one day to tell him, but, again, it's up to her when and if she does that.

HOWEVER, if she wants to starts trusting people and having a lasting relationship, she needs to talk (not necessarily about the rape but in general, because she needs to start communicating).

It's not to say that her still running away from people doesn't make sense – but that the drama goes from that to selling us a happy ending. Without going into spoilers, the final episode essentially doesn't address how she overcomes (or starts overcoming, because, yes, it'll be a long process, like for your friend) beyond a "we'll do this together". There is nothing there to assure us she wouldn't run away again, because the drama glosses over how she deals (by herself and/or with the help of others) with her issues (both the rape and the trust issues – which she had regardless of the rape). Compare it, for example, to It's Okay It's Love – although there was also some glossing over in the end and a time skip, we saw Jae-yeol fighting with his mental health issues over several episodes. We knew in that time skip he was getting treatment. We saw how he made it to the happily-married-with-kids stage. With Do-hee we only know she kept training, read Ho-gu's web comic and [SPOILER] reported the rape [/SPOILER].

There are serious issues raised here but ultimately they are resolved with a "magical button", not with the respect they deserve.

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I am not sure how the heck you can say it wasn’t confirmed until this episode. Seriously? The things said in earlier episodes, like “they say she was raped” or her shaking her head while weeping to the agency CEO when she asked if it was “sexual assault”...the very way her assaulter smirked and treated her at the pool and yet you say it was not confirmed? The minute I heard it said “tehy say she was raped” immediately the way she had been acting the whole time made complete sense to me. I am not about to sit here and say how a rape victim should or should not act, but her actions did not seem odd or weird to me in the slightest. From the beginning I figured there was something darker going on with her pregnancy...inference.

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+1000
I wanted to yell at Ho Gu a few times when she looked like was about to break down, and rather than offering any type of comfort he whined about her not acting the way he wanted her to. I've wanted to yell at everyone who even imply that she should just move on the comments.

I think it was intentional that "rape" and "sexual assault" weren't even used until the later episodes. Not only was she raped, but she was raped by someone she knew. Someone she thought of as at least a casual friend. When she first went to Kang Chul about it, he basically told her to get over it and keep living her life, cause that's what have an abortion and think about your career and that of your company sounds like. We don't hear the word "rape" because no one really wants to hear it. It's ugly and they want to act like it didn't happen or just move on from it. It's the same way in some of these comments.
It's scary that people would even think of a fictional character, "she got raped, but___." A lack of character development from a writing standpoint (a point that is highly debatable) doesn't change the fact that people are actually more empathetic toward Ho Gu (who never suffers anything more than his feelings being hurt) than Do Hee.

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"A lack of character development from a writing standpoint (a point that is highly debatable) doesn’t change the fact that people are actually more empathetic toward Ho Gu (who never suffers anything more than his feelings being hurt) than Do Hee."

This to the 1000th power. It disgusts and actually hurts me a bit.

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YES. especially to that last paragraph. yes, she's a fictional character, but even so, the trauma she went through should be something that automatically triggers empathy, and yet people seem so much more preoccupied with making assumptions about what do-hee was "supposed" to do instead.

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definitely agree. you've said everything i wanted to say about do-hee.

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So, Jiyoon, her assaulter was at her house then? On a constant basis? And her parents didn't notice?
And i agree about the comments about serious topics being treated with "dismissal". I get it. It's supposed to be a light-hearted drama, but if you're doing that, then don't incorporate topics that are sensational and treat it the way they did

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<So, Jiyoon, her assaulter was at her house then? On a constant basis? And her parents didn’t notice?

That was another thing that confused me... but they just didn't explain the whole story about Ji-yoon (the abuse – sexual? violence? both? repeatedly? – or her death)...

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She called him "Oppa" so it was prolly someone from the neighborhood that her parents knew and trusted.

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Honestly I understood the story. Clearly is was someone clse tomher who was at her house that was assaulting her on a regular basis. Inference. All it takes is some inference to figure it out...

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I assumed it was a boyfriend, neighbor, uncle...something like that. Someone both she and her family knew well. Harder to tell someone when it's your word against theirs, and your parents know the other party. That's the impression I got, that she was afraid to tell in part because they might not believe her.

But yeah, how did she die? I'm going to assume it wasn't a direct result of the assault(s). Suicide maybe? Could be something totally unrelated, though. It doesn't really matter, but it does seem like that could have easily been explained in those scenes with her parents at the cemetery and we wouldn't all be wondering now what happened to her.

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Right? I mean, they introduced the character so late and *SPOILER* if you watched the final ep, you won't get an answer either. I'm not gonna say anymore

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She was in a car accident. They said that more than once. Also, she was introduced earlier in a school flashback about the purity candy. She was the one who initially refused it.

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Out of topic.

Is CEO Park the same woman who portrayed Kim Soo-hyun's Queen Mother in "HaePumDal / TMTETS"???
Her face kinda looks familiar...

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Yeah. She was in Monstar too I believe.

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Thanks for the recap. I enjoyed this drama, maybe it was the charm of the cast.

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Hogu's Love has ended as well.. now what am I going to do ? its the drama that filled the void of Healer then Kill me Heal me when those two dramas ended. I better find a new drama to watch aside from Heard it through the grapevine.

Im Seul-ong is DAEBAK! I can only see Byun Kang-chul when I see him.. Even when he's with his group.

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i love how they put huge belly gongmi to show that few months (if not years) had passed. it gave a surprising effect, rather than just "few months later" in writing.
hogu walks through the season in the earlier episode was nice and cute, but this one is awesome.

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thanks for the recap! for me, i really appreciate lee soo kyung (kang ho kyung)'s acting! really like her natural delivery of lines and she stands out even among more experienced actors/actresses. looking forward to her future works!

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Me too. Lee Soo-Kyung was a nice discovery.

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Thx for the recap. This show has my heart

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I understand how Dohee was portrayed. Given the fact that she's always been reticent and closed off, and that she had no one to trust aside from herself starting from an early age, it's understandable how she would leave all who care for her and deal with the problems on her own whenever she can.
It has always been her tried and tested method, and I understand that that's her go-to now--to just leave and escape and try to solve it on her own, without bothering the people around her. She ultimately she just goes with what previous experience has taught her--leave to bottle it up and solve it on your own without giving a problem to others. That doesn't stop her from hoping that they would help her, but she would not actively seek them out and ask for help. I agree that she should have communicated with Hogu, but with the way she is, it would still take a lot of her to open up to him about what she feels, especially as the subject herein is her sexual assault, which more often than not yields negative reactions from people. She should have trusted Hogu enough to think that perhaps he would react differently, and I do think she hoped, but in the end the fear of rejection and her innate reluctance to trust others overcame her. It's not healthy; she needs to grow from that, and I hope that's where Hogu comes in.

Ha this was long. Succinctly: I understand Dohee, her choices and her actions.

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+1

I also understood why Do-hee ran away. Some say that we need more character growth to get our happy ending, but I enjoyed this "growth" just fine. Do-hee going back to her old habits and burying everything under excessive training is probably the best way to show how the old remedy dosen´t have the same effect anymore. Yes, it´s been used gazillion times in dramas, but I really didn´t mind it being used in this one.

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This show is seriously so wicked. When do hee read the letter in the juice box and cried, I cried with her. This goes to show how much the characters have grown in my heart. Kudos to the actors and actresses for giving life and heart to their characters.

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oh my...i'm freaking love...love...this drama....i mean all the characters play their role very well...very skillfull..i just can't never find another drama with this great of feeling after i watch it...they just soo tender...care...this episode make me tearfully...

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I'm just gonna ask something off topic here .. did anyone notice the song Seulong was "drunk-singing" ?! I think it's one of 2am's songs .. can anyone please tell me it's title ?

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Ditto. Completely. 100% agree with the last two paragraphs of your comments. This drama exceeded any expectation I had. The actors far-out performed anything I had anticipated. I liked Uee ever since She's Beautiful (despite her evil role, I thought the girl could act), never really seen Choi Woo Shik act before, nor Im Seulong but they were great in this. Hats off to Choi Woo Shik for being able to portray a full range of emotions so effectively and portraying Ho-Gu in the most loveable, understandable and wonderful way.

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