Beautiful Gong Shim: Episode 9
Big changes lie ahead for everyone, as both Dan-tae and Gong Shim embark on their respective journeys to figure out their identities. Dan-tae discovers some huge secrets, and he’s digging deeper to uncover the whole story. While Dan-tae literally figures out his identity, Gong Shim begins her soul-searching to find her place in the world. Though she may stick out like that lone grain of rice on her face, she’s striving to be unapologetic and unashamed of her true self.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Gong Shim waits for Dan-tae on the rooftop to respond to his confession, but he doesn’t show. Unable to meet Dan-tae, Gong Shim heads downstairs, where her parents busily prepare her favorite side dishes for her flight the next day. Gong Shim checks her phone once more, but she comes up empty.
After watching his father suspiciously dig up the soil by the Yangpyeong tree, Dan-tae’s mind is elsewhere. He broods by the river, wondering if his father killed Jun-pyo.
The next morning, Gong Shim finds Dan-tae on the rooftop and demands an explanation for standing her up last night. Dan-tae doesn’t give one and simply tells her to go to Jeju, claiming that he realized how selfish his request was. Gong Shim angrily responds that he’s always joking around with her — now she feels foolish for losing sleep over his request to stay.
Gong Shim gives him one more chance to make up his mind, and Dan-tae tells her to go. Upset by his response, Gong Shim shoves him and storms off.
While Gong Shim makes her way through the airport, Dan-tae sits in his rooftop room, looking troubled. Before she boards her flight, Gong Shim sees a familiar face — it’s Jun-su, who’s there to say goodbye. He tells her that he’ll support her goal of building her confidence, and Gong Shim thanks him.
Gong Shim arrives at the Jeju horticulture farm, where she’s greeted by her friendly boss and coworkers. She seems to be right at home, having majored in horticulture. They give her a quick run-down of their responsibilities, and with a quick adjustment of her crooked wig, she’s off to work.
Grandma waits for her scheduled appointment with Dan-tae but instead receives a letter from him apologizing for his abrupt halt in searching for Jun-pyo. He doesn’t provide an explanation, but he apologizes multiple times and wishes her good health.
In his office, Dan-tae cleans up his documents on Jun-pyo. His aunt walks in and updates him on the Yangpyeong tree, which has been moved to an arboretum. Dan-tae asks Aunt if she’s been in contact with Dad since he’s returned to the Philippines, but she shakes her head.
Dan-tae starts to investigate his father’s whereabouts himself and asks a friend for a favor. The friend discloses that there are no records of Dan-tae’s father, Ahn Soo-young, traveling outside the country recently, which confirms that he’s still in Korea.
Uncle Butterfly Tattoo is searching for Dan-tae’s father as well and asks his former classmates about any updates on him. Next to him, his sister (Jun-su’s mom) worries that they’ll both be dead if their involvement gets revealed. He assures her that they’re simply looking for confirmation of Jun-pyo’s permanent disappearance, but she doesn’t look assuaged.
Grandma goes to Dan-tae’s office and tells him in person that it’s okay that he’s dropping the case. She knew they wouldn’t find Jun-pyo, and she urges him to visit her with unrelated matters. Dan-tae keeps his head down, still apologetic despite Grandma’s encouragement.
In the office, President Seok walks to his office and happily greets Gong Shim (huh?) who seems to have returned to her position as his secretary. But when he comes to his senses, he realizes that it was his imagination, and he orders his new secretary to prepare tea.
At her new job, Gong Shim helps out with flower preparations, and the ajummas ask her if she likes spicy noodles, which they have for lunch that day. That reminds her of Dan-tae, and Gong Shim furiously shakes her head to clear her mind. Then, she hears ABBA’s song “Andante, Andante” and starts to freak out about hearing things, only to realize that it’s her boss’s ringtone. Gong Shim panics when the music starts up again on the loudspeaker, but the ajummas assure her that it’s their cue for lunch. Hehe.
In the office, Gong Shim thinks she hears her coworkers say Ahn Dan-tae, but they’re just arguing about the coffee being sweet (dan dae) or not sweet enough (ahn dan dae). She eventually has to leave to room to escape the reminders about Dan-tae.
In her room, Gong Shim looks at the plant that Dan-tae gave her and already knows from its sprouting leaves that it’s a sunflower. But she asks, “When will you show your face?”
Dan-tae stands alone on the seashore, looking off to the distance. Jun-su tries to check up on him by vising Dan-tae’s rooftop room, but it doesn’t look like he’s been around since a week’s worth of mail is stacked outside his door. Worried, Jun-su calls Gong Shim for updates, but she hasn’t heard from him either.
Gong Shim spends the next month taking care of her plant and recalling her memories with Dan-tae as the sunflower grows. Finally, the sunflower blooms, and she sends Dan-tae a picture of it. She tells him to call him if he thinks the flower is pretty.
Dan-tae dreams about the little boy again, and this time, he’s able to touch the little boy’s head without him disappearing. He gets a good look at the little boy’s face and gathers clues from the theater poster and store sign. When Dan-tae jumps awake, he takes out a picture of Jun-pyo from his backpack and realizes that the little boy he’s been dreaming about all these years was Jun-pyo.
Gong Shim returns from the airport to an empty and cluttered farm. Her coworkers enter complaining about their boss, who’s run off with the company’s funds without compensating the workers. This is news to Gong Shim, and she runs to the office to try and stop any more equipment from being taken away. Jun-su happens to be there and witnesses the chaos.
Gong Shim and Jun-su sit together in the farm, and he explains that he’s here on a business trip. He asks Gong Shim if her work makes her happy, and that questions makes her ponder. While her current work may capitalize on her major, he advises her to consider what really makes her happy and assures her that she has time. She’s still young.
Jun-su invites her to go fishing with her the next day, but Gong Shim is headed back to Seoul for her father’s birthday. He nods and cautiously broaches the issue of Dan-tae’s disappearance. He’s been out of contact for about a month now, and they both worry.
Dan-tae follows the clues from his dream to the neighborhood of Bukseong-dong, where he remembers growing up as a child. He visits the town hall and asks an elderly man if he recognizes little Jun-pyo in the picture. The man can’t recall the boy from 26 years ago, so Dan-tae asks about the photo studio in his dream. Lucky for him, it’s still an open business, and he gets the address. Curiously, it’s the same as his family’s old address.
Dan-tae finds the studio and lurks outside. He’s greeted by the studio owner’s son, who tells Dan-tae that his father opened this studio over 40 years ago. Dan-tae also asks about the room next door with the same address, and the son explains that they rent that room out.
Dan-tae meets with the studio owner and asks if he recognizes Jun-pyo from the photo. The owner doesn’t, so Dan-tae asks the studio owner if he recognizes him, Ahn Dan-tae. The man looks taken aback and demands to know who he is, since Ahn Dan-tae died at five years old. Whaaat?
The studio owner explains that Dan-tae drowned in a nearby stream, and the family could not bear to live in the rented house after Dan-tae’s tragic death. The mother went mad, and the family fled the home. Irritated and accusatory, the studio owner yells at Dan-tae to reveal who he is.
Shocked at this story, Dan-tae walks out of the studio and begins to question his identity. If Ahn Dan-tae died, then who is he? He puts together all the clues and realizes that he must be… Jun-pyo? Overwhelmed by the revelation, Dan-tae faints in the middle of the street.
Gong Shim comes home to celebrate her father’s birthday and gives him a pot of flowers from Jeju Island. Dad tells her that Gong Mi is still at work, and that’s news to Gong Shim. Mom didn’t update Gong Shim, since her sister now works in the legal team at Star Group. She didn’t want Gong Mi to work where Gong Shim got fired from, but Gong Mi insisted.
Her parents then ask about Dan-tae, who’s been missing for the past month. Gong Shim doesn’t have an answer and heads to the rooftop to check on her plants. On the rooftop, she sees the door covered with untouched flyers and worries about Dan-tae.
The family celebrates Dad’s birthday, and even Gong shim’s buddy Gu-nam is there to joke and celebrate. After they toast to Dad’s health, Gong Shim gets a call from Dan-tae. She steps aside to pick up the call, and it’s a nurse calling about an unconscious Dan-tae.
Gong Shim scurries out to the hospital and frantically asks the nurse about Dan-tae’s condition. They wheel him away for more tests, and afterwards, Gong Shim takes care of him in the hospital room. The doctor explains to Gong Shim that Dan-tae fainted from shock and that he was suffering from fatigue.
While Gong Shim fills out forms outside, Dan-tae wakes up to the memory of getting a bike from his father, and he’s relieved at the realization that his father didn’t kill Jun-pyo. Then, Dan-tae sees a bag nearby and immediately recognizes it as Gong Shim’s.
Upon entering the hospital room, Gong Shim finds Dan-tae awake and looks relieved that he’s okay. He explains that he’s been out of reach for the past month because he’s been resolving an issue about his father.
Dan-tae asks Gong Shim how Jeju has been, and she starts rambling on about the song “Andante, Andante,” her sunflower, and her unlikely prospects of becoming a diver. He complains about all her noise, but looks thoroughly amused. Gong Shim goes out to get his food, and Dan-tae admits to himself that he’s missed her. Aww.
Gong Shim prepares the meal for Dan-tae and admires the hospital food selection. Sensing her hunger, Dan-tae tells her that he doesn’t have much of an appetite and offers the food to her. Gong Shim refuses and says that the worst people are the ones who come to the hospital and eat the patients’ food. Since Dan-tae still rejects the food, Gong Shim takes it out to return.
Dan-tae comes out of the room to go on a walk, and Gong Shim offers to support him. He discovers a piece of rice on her face and begins to tease her for eating the food. She tries to refute it, but her burp betrays her. To her greater mortification, Dan-tae picks the rice off of her face, and Gong Shim comes clean, admitting to finishing off his food. Heh.
Jun-su finishes negotiations for a business deal late at night, but at the expense of his sobriety. He’s heavily drunk and stumbles into his car.
Gong Shim nods off next to Dan-tae, and he gets up to pull his blanket over her. But she jerks awake and asks Dan-tae what he needs. He tries to persuade her to go home, but Gong Shim insists that she’ll stay.
Drunk Jun-su enters the hospital room and explains that he could only come at this hour because of a business negotiation. Seeing that he’s drunk, they sit him down and try to get him water, but Jun-su blurts out to Dan-tae in unabashed honesty, “I hate you!”
He’s feeling hurt since Dan-tae didn’t answer any of his calls and worried him. Using the universal two fingers of vigilance, Jun-su warns Dan-tae that he’s watching him, and Gong Shim laughs at how earnest and cute he is. Jun-su confesses that he likes Dan-tae a lot and thanks Gong Shim for letting him know of Dan-tae’s whereabouts.
Jun-su almost collapses, so they lay him down on the couch. Before Jun-su passes out, he points to Gong Shim and yells at her, “I hate you more!” Now with two patients, Gong Shim insists that she can’t leave, but Dan-tae forces her out. He promises to call, and she heads out reluctantly.
The next morning, Jun-su falls out of his couch bed and remembers his embarrassing dialogue from the previous night. Before he can escape the hospital room, Dan-tae returns and checks up on his drunk patient. Jun-su pretends that he doesn’t remember anything, but when Dan-tae thanks him for dropping by and parrots Jun-su’s “I hate you” from the previous night, Jun-su sheepishly runs away.
Outside, Jun-su runs into Gong Shim, who also teases him for his drunken behavior. He asks if she knows why Dan-tae disappeared, and Gong Shim merely tells him that it was a family matter that’s been resolved now. That’s enough for them, as long as Dan-tae is back.
Dan-tae thanks Gong Shim and promises to return the favor, but she’s still focused on his recovery. She’s hesitant when he wants to split ways to visit his office, but she allows it with a bit of nagging to come home early.
Aunt looks worried sick when Dan-tae returns and asks why he suddenly disappeared for a month. Dan-tae cuts to the chase and reveals that he knows he’s not Ahn Dan-tae. The real Dan-tae died at five years old and was buried under the Yangpyeong tree. Aunt shakes in shock and seems at loss for words. Dan-tae then asks if Dad kidnapped him and demands to know why he’s living as Ahn Dan-tae.
Aunt assures him that Dad would never do such a thing and tells the truth. Back when Dan-tae had drowned, his mother refused to live on. Then one day, his father had brought Jun-pyo home, and his mother was so at loss that she believed Jun-pyo to be her son and doted on him. Over time, his mother’s condition improved, and Jun-pyo began to speak again. The family ended up running away after his father had overheard the kidnapper plotting to kill little Jun-pyo.
Unfortunately, Aunt has no information on the kidnapper — only Dad does. Aunt apologizes and runs out of the office. Dan-tae finds her crying on the stairs and comforts her. He thanks her for raising him and tells her that she’ll always be his aunt. He asks her to let him meet Dad, and she agrees through her tears.
Gong Shim receives her belongings through mail and checks on her sunflower. She brings it to the rooftop and starts to worry about Dan-tae not coming home early. Gong Shim prepares a meal for Dan-tae and draws her cartoon-self cooking.
Dan-tae wanders the streets mindlessly and finally comes home late at night. He finds a meal waiting for him, along with a couple drawings from Gong Shim. The first one shows angry Gong Shim scolding him for not coming home early, the next one depicts her cooking, and the last cartoon Gong Shim reminds him to take medicine. Touched by this gesture, Dan-tae can’t hold back his tears and lets himself cry.
Aww poor Dan-tae. I’m bummed that Dan-tae doesn’t seem like his normal odd self, but I don’t blame him. He’s going through a rough identity crisis, and it’s tough to retain a sense of humor when you figure out that your whole life was based on a lie. Though we didn’t see much of our endearingly weird Dan-tae, I liked how Dan-tae took charge of his own identity revelations. I’ve really appreciated this duality in Dan-tae’s character — always slightly odd while also being a great problem solver. He doesn’t ignore the details and knows how to string together clues. He’s self-reliant, and he’s got a good head on his shoulders, even though he doesn’t act particularly mature most of the time.
We see that immaturity come out when he’s with Gong Shim, and it’s that jokester side of Dan-tae that really makes their relationship fun. He enjoys making Gong Shim frazzled as much as we love watching it happen, but it’s always a hit or miss for Gong Shim. The unpredictability of their relationship is a fun element to their dynamic, and I so enjoy watching their quirkiness. But that’s not to say that they’ve only had fun times together, since they’ve seen each other go through some rough patches. I love that Gong Shim didn’t dig too deeply into Dan-tae’s disappearance, just as he did with her. They know how to give each other space to deal with personal matters, but I think sharing these moments could elevate their relationship to another level. Maybe that’s for some time later down the road when Gong Shim feels confident in her own skin.
I admire Gong Shim for her focus on herself and self-love before seriously considering either of the confessions, though she was clearly more preoccupied with Dan-tae’s serious request for her to stay. Gong Shim may be lost in a materialistic society that values looks over character, but she’s got her priorities straight. Learning to love herself and building her confidence matters more than the other distractions in her life. Seeing her grow alongside her sunflower also makes her growth so much cuter. It’s almost as if she has a symbiotic relationship with her sunflower. As she takes care of sunflower, it flourishes and gives her the energy to thrive as well.
Jun-su didn’t make much of an appearance, but I thought his additions to this episode were fantastic. Drunk Jun-su was adorable and lovably honest, making me wonder if maybe Gong Shim was the third wheel to the bromance. I really adore the bromance, romance, and friendship in this trio. They’ve got a great camaraderie with each other, deeply caring for each other and treasuring their bond with each other.
Even if it’s not romantically, Jun-su cares for Gong Shim as a person, so his question about her happiness was much appreciated. Yes, she has a particular love and care for plants, but does that make her happy? I do think it’s a question he should ask himself (maybe more so than to Gong Shim), but it’s also an important question to ask anyone at any point. Deceivingly simple, and always a troubling question to answer. Gong Shim may soon find an answer in the deceivingly simple joys of her drawings, and I hope it’ll show her how valuable she really is.