She Was Pretty: Episode 15
With Most’s survival and Hye-jin and Sung-joon’s future on the line, there are some crucial decisions to be made. Most importantly, when do you cling to the one you love, and when do you let them go for their own happiness? When you truly love someone, there’s really only one answer, and they’ve fought too hard to find each other to lose each other now.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Shin-hyuk shaves off his scruffy beard and dons a sharp suit in anticipation of revealing himself as Ten. He presents Sung-joon with an mp3 player that he claims has everything he needs to know on it — who he is, and why he lives like this. With this information, Sung-joon can write a feature article for the twentieth anniversary edition of Most.
Sung-joon seems skeptical that Shin-hyuk is really a world-famous author, and asks if he’s the one who stopped the issue going to press. Shin-hyuk just repeats that he can write an article based on the information on the MP3 player, and even offers to pose for some photos.
Still utterly serious, Sung-joon wants to know if he’s doing this to save Most from cancellation. There must be a reason for keeping the secret for so long, and breaking his silence now. Shin-hyuk only sighs that nothing stays secret forever, and the timing couldn’t be better.
He chides Sung-joon for hesitating – his professionalism is the reason he decided to reveal himself to him. In fact, he intended to tell Hye-jin first, so he warns Sung-joon not ot be offended when he listens tot he audio.. he thought he was talking to Hye-jin and spoke in banmal. Heh.
He explains that he didn’t pick Hye-jin because knowing his secret would have burdened her too much, and she wouldn’t have been able to reveal it. Sung-joon hesitates one more time, but Shin-hyuk begs him to do this. He wants to save Most. Sung-joon asks if it won’t change Shin-hyuk’s life too much to reveal that he’s Ten, but he just breezes that it will be crazy for a while, but he’ll make it through.
The Most staff go back to their office, reeling at the news that their own Poong-ho was the hidden heir to the company. Hee, Seul grins that she’s the only one who doesn’t feel bad at the news. Chief Editor Kim makes her usual loud entrance, now flanked by her nephew, who announced himself formally and makes everyone cringe in horror. But he’s only teasing, and they all ask if he can’t use his influence to save Most. But he already asked and was denied.
Hye-jin calls Sung-joon while he’s driving back home, to gleefully break the news that Poong-ho is the new vice-president. Sung-joon agrees wearily that there are a lot of surprises in this world.
He listens to the recording, seeming deeply troubled. We don’t hear Shin-hyuk’s words, but the longer Sung-joon listens, the more upset he becomes. When he’s finished, he calls the press crew and informs them that there will be no additional article for this edition of Most.
The next morning, Ha-ri takes an aptitude test and wails in despair at the results: she’s best suited to be a hotelier. She whines to Hye-jin that she quit that business because she was embarrassed, only to find out it’s what she’s best at. Hye-jin reminds her that she was embarrassed because her father got her the job, not because of the job itself. Ha-ri admits that she actually liked the job.
Sung-joon arrives at work to find the new edition being delivered, and his eyes grow huge to see the feature story – an exclusive interview with Ten. What?? He calls the printer but it’s too late, the magazines are already on the shelves. Apparently, Shin-hyuk could tell that Sung-joon was unsure, so he brought the article to the printer himself.
The Most staff are stunned to see that their own Shin-hyuk is Ten, and Hye-jin remembers how Shin-hyuk acted like their fun day together was the last. Shin-hyuk can’t be reached, having moved out of his hotel room, but he does send Sung-joon a text apologizing for the shock and saying goodbye.
Shin-hyuk’s identity as Ten is all anyone can think about, and even Ha-ri calls Hye-jin to tell her the news. Hye-jin only now finds out that Ha-ri knew her friend. She runs out of the building, running into Sung-joon on her way out, and asks what they should do now.
Sung-joon tells her it’s no use going to his hotel — he’s gone. He hands her the mp3 player and tells her that on it are Shin-hyuk’s last intended words for her.
This time we hear what Shin-hyuk says on the recording as Hye-jin listens. He tells her that he was adopted in America when he was twelve, and that he grew up loved by good parents. We see Shin-hyuk skyping with his American parents, and it’s obvious there’s a lot of love there on both sides.
He goes on to explain that he began writing online in high school, and caught the interest of a publisher. They wanted to publish a book, but they used the fact that he was an adopted Asian kid as a bookselling gimmick. They wanted to control him and change his writing, until soon his writing didn’t feel like his anymore. So he hid his identity, and began writing as Ten.
He laughs at the irony that the only way to write freely was to hide, but he emphasizes that he chose this way of life.
Then the seriousness is over, and Shin-hyuk teases Hye-jin by screaming into the recording, and singing her a silly song. Hye-jin laughs, but her eyes fill with tears.
Joon-woo finds a laptop on Shin-hyuk’s desk and opens it, which starts a video playing on their large screen. Everyone gathers to see Shin-hyuk’s farewells to them, and the noise even draws Sung-joon out of his office. He has a message for each and every person, and he particularly apologizes to Sung-joon for the surprise (and complains that he never gave him any of his “panties,” hee).
Just as everyone notices that he didn’t leave a message for Hye-jin, Shin-hyuk jumps back in front of the camera. They all breathe a sigh of relief, but he came back to ask Chief Editor Kim what she thought of his last gift. He wishes them all a happy life, and goes for real. Awww.
The anniversary edition is a success, and Most earns the number one spot, saving itself from cancellation. Somehow, it’s just not the same without Shin-hyuk, and the team mope around the office, missing him. They ask if Hye-jin is going back to the management team as planned, and she confirms that this is her last day, so they decide to throw her a farewell party.
Poong-ho gets lonely in his vice-president office, and decides to come back and work in the Most office on a regular basis. They all whine that it will be strange, now that he’s their boss, but they change their tunes when he offers to pay for Hye-jin’s party with his company gold card. Ha.
Sung-joon talks to his boss, who congratulates him on his success and tells him to prepare to come back to the States. He seems relieved to have the pressure off, but not happy at the thought of leaving.
He walks Hye-jin home after her farewell party, and he sends her to the park to wait while he gets them something to drink. HAHA, she slides down the slide and lands at his feet, just as he did once, making him laugh.
Sung-joon tells Hye-jin that he’s been recalled to Headquarters and offered a promotion. But he doesn’t feel right about being rewarded, because the success of the anniversary episode was due to Shin-hyuk, not himself. So he plans to refuse their offer.
He reminds Hye-jin that he was going to propose to her after making Most number one, wishing to be with her at his best moment. But he’s disappointed, because it’s not the moment he wished for. He tells her that he has to go back and wrap things up, and that he plans to start over from scratch.
He may not be able to give her that “best moment” as soon as he’d hoped, and Sung-joon asks Hye-jin a very serious question: Will she come to the States with him? She doesn’t even need to think about it, and promises to go with him. Sung-joon hugs her with a giant smile, but makes sure to tell her that this still isn’t the real proposal.
The next day, Hye-jin packs up her things to head back to the management team. The entire Most staff pout at her leaving, and she even gets a hug from Joon-woo (and Sung-joon pulls him off of her when the hug goes a little long, hee). Even Chief Editor Kim comes out to blow Hye-jin a kiss goodbye.
Back in the management office, she’s sent home at six pm, which is a big change from staying up half the night working at Most. Walking to the bus stop, Hye-jin thinks she sees Shin-hyuk walking into a pojangmacha, but it’s not him. She’s flustered, certain she saw Shin-hyuk. She starts to walk again, but she’s grabbed from behind — it IS him!
She immediately starts lecturing him for leaving so suddenly, and complains that she was the only one he didn’t say goodbye to. He says that’s why he came to say it in person, and pulls her in for a big bear hug. He holds her for a long time, as if he knows it’s the last time. He whispers something in her ear that makes her laugh, then backs away slowly, smiling, watching her for as long as he can.
Ha-ri realizes that she’s almost gone through all of her money, and she’s run out of things to sell. She says she’s glad that she and Hye-jin will have more time to spend together now that she’s not on the Most editing team, though Hye-jin seems to miss it already.
Ha-ri decides to go back to school to study hotel management. She’s decided that she enjoys that profession, and wants to study it properly and do it on her own. Good for her.
The children’s book author that Hye-jin interviewed for her article calls her, having read her article and thought it was wonderful. She’s disappointed to hear that Hye-jin isn’t on the editing team anymore, but invites her over some time if she wants a break. She starts to say something else, but we don’t hear what it is.
Whatever she said, it has Hye-jin heading to her town to see her now, and she calls Sung-joon on the way. They agree to meet for dinner later.
Hye-jin arrives at the author’s workplace, where her colleagues are working on a collaborative creative project for the next year. The author invites Hye-jin to join them — she feels like Hye-jin should consider revisiting her childhood dream of becoming a children’s author before her current job becomes too much of a habit. Hye-jin is terribly flattered, but she tells the author that she’s moving to the States soon, and probably getting married.
But at dinner with Sung-joon that night, she can’t stop talking about how wonderful it felt to discuss writing with those women. Sung-joon smiles and makes all the right supportive noises, and he asks if she wants to do that, too — he remembers her childhood dream of being a writer. When Hye-jin says that she can’t because she’s going with him to the States, he looks troubled.
Ha-ri studies hard at her new classes, making Hye-jin smile at her friend’s newfound passion. She tells Ha-ri how pretty she looks, all excited about her new life goals, but when she sees her own reflection, she doesn’t have that same glow. She looks at her signed copy of the author’s book, in which she’d written for Hye-jin to keep following her dreams.
Sung-joon invites her to his hotel for dinner, and looks at the ring he bought to make his third (and hopefully, finally official) marriage proposal to Hye-jin. But when he opens the door, Hye-jin’s first words are a desperate, “Let’s get married, Sung-joon-ah.” HAHA, his shocked face is the best thing ever. Hye-jin even bought rings, and puts them on them both with shaking hands.
But Sung-joon knows what she’s doing when she asks him to wait a year… she wants to be a part of that creative writing team, but she’s trying to let him know that she still intends to marry him. That’s so cute. Luckily Sung-joon completely understands, because of course he does.
He even says that he was worried she would give up her dream for him, so he’s a bit relieved. He doesn’t want her to come to America with him and have regrets. Hye-jin simply says that when someone is doing something they really want to do, that’s when they look the most beautiful, and she wanted to look beautiful to herself.
Sung-joon is completely supportive, though he joke-whines that he had his proposal all planned out. Hye-jin wants to see it and pouts when Sung-joon is all Let’s do a puzzle! Can’t blame her… show me the ring!
Hye-jin makes faces at Sung-joon the entire time they put the puzzle together, which of course is their favorite painting Dance in the Country. She tries to aegyo him into telling her how he was going to do it, but he keeps waving her off. Why do I feel like the puzzle is the proposal?
Sure enough, when Hye-jin leans over to pick up the final piece off the floor, Sung-joon puts the ring in the empty space. He says that this is how he was going to do it, and that he was going to say that before he met her, he didn’t know it was possible to be so happy. He would have said that he wants to make her as happy as she makes him.
He asks if she’ll marry him in a year, and of course Hye-jin accepts, and slides his matching ring on his finger. They giggle that they have two sets of engagement rings now.
Hye-jin gets ready to go later, but Sung-joon stops her and asks her to stay. She comes up with a million excuses, because apparently she’s out of her mind, and he agrees to take her home. But he forgets his car keys so she jumps in a taxi instead.
He sits up in his room grinning at his rings like a lovesick doofus, and jumps up when the doorbell rings. It’s Hye-jin… she changed her mind and wants to stay. She’s so nervous, it’s adorable, and Sung-joon just yanks her inside and kisses her cross-eyed. There’s a good boy.
Later, Hye-jin gets ready to move to the small town where she’ll be working for the next year. It makes Ha-ri cry, and she says it’s the first time they’ll be separated since the time her family lived in Japan. That sets off Hye-jin, and both girls wail about how much they’ll miss each other. And then they go nuts, drinking and dancing late into the night.
Sung-joon takes Hye-jin to her new place, and she asks him what time his flight to the States is tomorrow. He asks her if they can not have a teary airport goodbye, but just say farewell here. She wants to see him off, but he admits that he’s worried he won’t be able to handle it. So sweet.
He tells her that he’ll try to visit, and promises to call and email constantly. Reluctantly, he lets go of her hand, and walks away. Hye-jin watches him for a minute, then turns to begin her new life.
But Sung-joon runs back to Hye-jin, because he’s got one more thing to say: “I love you. I love you, Hye-jin-ah.” She sends him off with a teary, “Me too. I love you, too.”
Some time later, curly hair flying and cheeks glowing with health, Hye-jin bikes through the small town whooping with joy. A friend calls out to her, asking where she’s going, and she yells that someone has come. Smiling and happy, she nods and greets all her friends as she rushes to see her visitor.
I had hoped that Sung-joon’s proposal to Hye-jin didn’t hinge on Most’s success, but I can understand why he wanted to ask Hye-jin to share her life with him at the best moment of his life. I have to say though, I’m disappointed in his reasoning for postponing his proposal. I think it’s a self-involved and immature of him to decide not to propose just because the magazine didn’t succeed entirely because of his efforts. I had thought that we’d already seen Sung-joon learning that no man is an island and that it took the whole team to make Most a success, so to see him decide not to propose just because it was Shin-hyuk’s article that propelled Most to number one is kind of disappointing.
The point is, the magazine DID make number one, under Sung-joon’s management, and in large part because he learned that lesson and asked each and every staff member to come back. So I’m confused that Sung-joon seemed to have a moment of forward motion in learning that he needed all of them to make this happen, then stalled out and pouted that he couldn’t propose to Hye-jin just because the magazine’s success wasn’t entirely because of him. But at least he finally did do it, and he supported Hye-jin’s decision to follow her dream instead of following him to America as if there was never a question that she would go. I do like about his character that he’s human — he makes bad choices and behaves badly, sometimes. But it doesn’t make him a bad person or unworthy of Hye-jin’s love, and he can still have her best interests at heart.
Interestingly, this is a story in which I feel that the forced-separation trope is being put to good use. Too often it’s used as a flimsy tool to stretch out the romantic tension another episode or two, but we all know the couple will find each other again and live happily ever after, so it never really works for me as a viewer. But in this case, I can agree that both Sung-joon and Hye-jin have things they need to do before it’s time to settle down together. Hye-jin is only just now rediscovering her passion for writing and realizing that it’s not really that crazy of a dream. And Sung-joon needs to wrap up his life in America and decide what he wants to do with himself, since let’s face it, he’s not very good at managing people. Hopefully he can do something with his love of art. So in this one case I’m willing to go along with the trope, because this way Hye-jin and Sung-joon can start their life together both having realized their dreams and supported each other through the journey.
I’m happy that Hye-jin and Ha-ri’s relationship not only survived this situation, but grew and become more mature. I have always loved their friendship, but it seems deeper now, and more mature. I think they both learned what their relationship means to them, and that they can make it through any hardship together, but they don’t have to be each other’s be-all-end-all like they’ve always thought. They can have independent lives and loves, and yet still be each other’s safe port in a storm. We should all be so lucky to have such a good friend in our lives.
Just as I suspected, Shin-hyuk broke my heart. I’m so glad he came back to say goodbye to Hye-jin, and yet I’m equally glad he kept it short and sweet. He was able to leave her to remember him with a smile on his face, and I’m not ashamed to admit that he left me crying in that moment. He was a trickster and a goofball, but he truly loved Hye-jin, and this is one of those cases where I think that if it hadn’t been for Sung-joon coming back into her life at just that time, she could easily have loved Shin-hyuk back. But in the end he wanted her happiness, and he didn’t cling to her or leave her feeling guilty for not loving him. And their goodbye was made that much more bittersweet knowing that Choi Siwon will be going to the army soon — we’ll miss him, and wish for him to come back safely and grace us again with his incredible talent. Hopefully next time, he’ll get the girl.
This episode really felt like it could have been a finale — I could go away happy at this point, knowing that everything will be fine. Sung-joon and Hye-jin will get married and have a long happy life together, Ha-ri will find her happiness in her career, and everything will turn out fine. It feels like the story is finished, and this could have been a cute, fun way to end the drama. So I’m equal parts curious and apprehensive to see what next week’s actual finale has in store. I know there have been some rumors that things may not end as we expect — and yes, it’s all just speculation at this point, but it does worry me a little that we could be in for a nasty surprise. I don’t normally say this, but if the drama gods are listening… just this once, I’d be happy with a finale that’s all filler. And maybe some more sexy against-the-wall kissing.
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