Drinking Solo: Episode 3
The important thing in life isn’t what you accomplish, but how you accomplish it. Shortcuts may get you places, but they won’t get you there with any sort of integrity or value. Jung-seok knows this, and it’s no wonder he judges Hana so harshly when he perceives her to be where she is because of a weak personality. But Hana has some surprises up her sleeve, and she may just be capable of changing Jung-seok’s mind.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Jung-seok enjoys a beer and a lavish meal, alone of course, savoring the solitary time after a long day of talking and being surrounded by people. He frowns at a nearby table of loud drinkers, but he doesn’t let them ruin his recharging experience.
He arrives home to find his mother there, insisting he let younger brother Gong-myung stay with him while he’s in school. He argues that it can take years to pass the civil service exam, and he doesn’t believe Gong-myung is capable. Gong-myung agrees, no happier about this plan than Jung-seok is.
But Mom has had enough of Gong-myung’s serial unemployment, and he could do worse than to live with the best teacher in Noryangjin. But Jung-seok flat-out refuses to babysit little bro, and he stomps off to his home office while Mom whaps Gong-myung upside the head and tells him to stop mouthing off.
Mom follows Jung-seok and tries begging, but Jung-seok says that she should get Gong-myung an apartment, and he’ll even pay for it. Mom argues that Gong-myung is bad enough living with her — he can’t possibly live on his own. She thinks he needs his brother around for guidance.
Jung-seok says that they don’t get along, and Mom switches to flattery, saying that Jung-seok is so much smarter than his brother. She reminds Jung-seok that she never objected to his career decisions, and this is the first request she’s ever made of him, and her guilt trip wears him down.
Jung-seok comes down the next morning to find Mom and Gong-myung enjoying a lavish breakfast, which he refuses in favor of his usual juice. Gong-myung complains that Mom never cooks like this for him, and she just snipes at him to pass the civil service exam and earn his own damn keep, heh.
She informs Jung-seok that Gong-myung will be enrolling at his academy today, and Jung-seok warns him not to tell anyone they’re brothers. He says he’s worried that people will think less of him as a teacher if he has a no-good lazy brother, and Mom backs him up, telling Gong-myung to act like they’re strangers.
Ha, it’s funny how she switches so effortlessly from fussing at Gong-myung to simpering at Jung-seok, and back again. Gong-myung snaps back that he doesn’t want people knowing that he’s got an asshole for a brother, either. Mom smacks him for sassing his brother.
Hana shows up at school in a nice dress, her hair and makeup just so, though she complains that her appearance should be the least of her worries. She waves at herself in her hand mirror, which is when the elevator door opens and Jung-seok catches her. Hana reluctantly gets in the elevator, and Jung-seok ignores her nervous greeting.
She apologizes that he had to reveal his real name because of her, and Jung-seok asks dryly if she expects him to let her into the joint class just because she apologized. Hana clarifies that she just wanted to apologize properly, no ulterior motives, and Jung-seok doesn’t believe that for one second. But he does say that he’ll accept her apology, if she promises never to bring up joint classes again.
Hana tells Director Kim and Jin-yi that she apologized, but that she’s still not in the joint class. She promises Director Kim that she’ll try her hardest to increase her class enrollment on her own, but he shows her that there are no comments on her teaching forum after her first class, which means her students weren’t impressed. He tells her to get into the joint class, or else.
Jin-woong arrives for work, and today he’s Lee Je-hoon from Signal, complete with backpack and walkie-talkie. Director Kim snaps at him to spend more time on lesson planning and less on his cosplay, frustrated with everyone today.
Hana sits in the stairwell on the phone, asking if her class was really that bad, sighing that teaching in Noryangjin is harder than she expected. Her phone misunderstands, and asks if she wants a hamburger, ha.
Gong-myung tells Ki-bum that he’ll be studying for the civil service exam — it was this or work at the family orchard. He says that he’ll be living with his brother, but stops short of mentioning who that brother is.
He asks after Dong-young, and Ki-bum says that he’ll be covering for him at school since he’s sick. They head to Hana’s class and Ki-bum sets up the camera, and he watches as class beauty Chae-yeon rudely turns down another suitor offering her a can of coffee. Ki-bum grumbles that she’s not pretty at all, with that attitude.
The student gives Hana the coffee when she arrives to class, just to get rid of it, but she looks touched. She gets choked up over the student’s gesture when she was feeling so down about her class.
She starts to cry while her students cringe, all except Gong-myung who grins at her misguided display of emotion. To rescue her, he starts a “Cheer up!” chant, which most of the class picks up, if half-heartedly. Of course that makes her cry harder, and Ki-bum complains that she looks even worse now than before.
After class Gong-myung catches up with Hana in the hall, and returns her shoe. She only now recognizes him as the kid from the bus stop, and she offers to buy him lunch as thanks.
She goes back to her office to get her wallet, and Jin-yi gives her some packages of wet wipes with her face on them, for Hana to pass out to promote her class. Hana takes a bag to lunch, determined to pass them out herself this afternoon.
After she’s gone, Jin-woong pouts that he would have liked to be included in Jin-yi’s surprise, since he feels bad that Hana isn’t included in the joint class. He pulls out his walkie-talkie and pretends to be Lee Je-hoon, saying into it that Jin-yi did a helpful thing for Hana’s future, hee.
Gong-myung insists on a simple lunch, just thrilled to be eating with Hana at all. She hands him a wet-wipe when he spills noodles on his pants, and he smiles at the cute promotion idea. He asks her shyly to speak banmal with him, and gifts her with another adorable crinkly grin when she obliges.
Hana admits that she’s embarrassed that she lost her shoe when they first met, then lost her cool in class today. Gong-myung asks if she’s having a hard time, and she says it’s not nearly as hard as being a student, when one test can make or break your entire future.
She says it’s her job to support students like him, and yet all she did was cry in class, but Gong-myung insists that she doesn’t have to worry about that with him. He says that he’s not here because he wants to be, and that he’s not all that smart anyway.
Hana thinks he has a lot of potential though, since he’s self-aware enough to know his own flaws, which means he can work on them. That insight takes Gong-myung aback, and he shyly ducks his head as Hana promises not to show her clumsy side anymore.
She gets a call and has to run, and accidentally leaves the bag of wet wipes at the table. So much for hiding that clumsy side, hee.
Ki-bum brings Dong-young some porridge after class, and he misinterprets the sea of used tissues on Dong-myung’s floor (“You’re going to wear it out!” Ewww). He assumes that Dong-myung is hiding under the covers because he’s embarrassed, but when he pulls the blanket back, he realizes that his friend is crying. Dong-myung just barely manages to say that he and his girlfriend broke up before bursting into tears again.
Hana gets more bad news when her mother calls to tell her that their renter’s lease is up, and they want their ten million won deposit back (nearly $9000 USD). She asks Jin-yi for a loan, but Jin-yi already lent her money to her boyfriend.
Director Kim overhears their conversation, and sarcastically quips that he thought Hana was rolling in dough since she hasn’t asked Jung-seok again about his joint class. He tells her that if she gets into the class, he’ll give her the ten million won as a bonus, especially since another teacher is angling for the spot and he doesn’t want to pay their high salary.
It puts Hana in a bind, because she promised Jung-seok she wouldn’t ask about the class again. Jin-yi advises her to forget her pride and beg him if she has to, which makes Hana uncomfortable, and she leaves. Jin-young-as-Lee-Je-hoon says into his walkie-talkie that they can’t change Hana’s past, so they need to change her future. Jin-yi snaps at him to knock it off.
Hana goes to the roof to ask her phone what she should do. Her phone wisely says that sometimes, you have to do things you don’t want to do, and Hana sighs that she guesses she’ll just have to ask Jung-seok about the class.
During a meeting, Jung-seok receives a bouquet of flowers with a note from Hana asking him to forget the past and let her into his joint class, and an envelope containing several gift certificates. He’s immediately angered by her bribery attempt.
Gong-myung starts passing out Hana’s wet wipe packets on the street, and hands one to his brother Jung-seok without realizing. Jung-seok asks what he’s doing and Gong-myung tells him to mind his own business, so Jung-seok snags the entire bag and stalks off with it.
Ki-bum accompanies Dong-young to a restaurant, and watches while he determinedly drinks himself silly. Dong-myung says that he’s wearing the shirt Joo-yeon gave him as a goodbye gift, which makes him well up all over again, and Ki-bum says that he should ask her not to leave him.
But poor Dong-young doesn’t think he deserves her, and thinks he should just let her go and stop holding her back. Ki-bum says to either quit whining or go after her, but Dong-young still refuses to ask her to stay with him.
Director Kim approaches Jung-seok, asking him to let Hana into his class. Jung-seok doesn’t answer, but asks Director Kim to send Hana to the roof to talk with him. Director Kim takes it as a good sign, and sends Hana upstairs.
But Jung-seok isn’t there to offer her a class — he dumps the bag of wet wipes to the ground, and yells at her for making students pass them out when they should be studying. He doesn’t let Hana explain, and also throws down the gift certificates, saying that he hates people like her who do anything to get what they want.
Hana is genuinely confused about the gift certificates, and as it turns out, it was actually Jin-woong who sent the flowers and the bribe. Jin-yi and Director Kim think he did a good thing, and they even laugh at his impersonation.
They excitedly congratulate Hana when she comes back to the office, and Jin-woong brags that it was his gift that made Jung-seok change his mind. Hana figures out what happened now, and she sadly thanks them for trying to help, but tells them it won’t be necessary anymore.
Gong-myung joins his friends and Dong-young continues drinking, and Ki-bum urges him again to just call Joo-yeon. Gong-myung agrees with Dong-young that calling won’t change her mind. Dong-young hands over his phone so he won’t be able to call her in a weak moment, and Ki-bum can’t resist teasing him about his ancient flip-phone.
Dong-young also gives them his wallet so that he can’t take a cab to see Joo-yeon, and it’s cute how Gong-myung’s response to both items is, “Then just don’t!” But Dong-young doesn’t trust himself, though Ki-bum points out that he doesn’t have enough cash for a cab anyway.
Jin-young offers to treat Hana to dinner, but she declines and heads home, grabbing another bag of wet wipes. Jin-yi tries to talk Jung-seok into going out with them so they can ask him to let Hana into the joint class, but he just glares at her until she backs off. Heh, Director Kim and Jin-woong find her rejection pretty entertaining.
The three friends leave the restaurant, and Dong-young dejectedly says that everything reminds him of Joo-yeon. The nearby cafe, the Chinese restaurant, even that motel are all places they used to go together often.
Dong-young asks the very bored Ki-bum to check his phone for calls from Joo-yeon, and Ki-bum realizes he left the phone and wallet at the restaurant. They run back, but the owner hasn’t seen them, and Ki-bum jokes that only a loser would take those old things.
That’s the last straw, and Dong-young drags Ki-bum out into the the street. Dong-young is frantic that he may have missed a call from Joo-yeon, but Ki-bum snaps back that there’s no way she called him. He goes too far and says she’s probably found a new guy, one who has a job, and Dong-young grabs him by the hair.
They end up with both fists in each other’s hair, screaming in the street, and Gong-myung runs out to try and break up the fight. Instead he just gets pulled into it, and all three friends yank each other’s hair, kicking wildly. HAHA, this is great.
Director Kim, Jin-woong, and Jin-yi leave one bar thoroughly plastered, and decide to go for round two. They wonder why Jung-seok hates drinking, but in voice-over he corrects that on the contrary, he loves drinking, but only when he’s alone.
We’re back at the opening scene, and Jung-seok’s lovely solo meal is suddenly crashed by his three sloshed coworkers. His look of horror is so gratifying. They invite themselves to his table, physically restraining him from leaving.
The boys finally break up their fight and sit together on a park bench, hair standing on end. Ki-bum thrusts his phone at Dong-young and tells him to just call Joo-yeon, but Joo-yeon says that she didn’t call him (which sends Ki-bum into a spasm, lol). Dong-young pitifully apologizes for calling and says that he’ll never call Joo-yeon again.
Ki-bum grabs his hair again, but Dong-young is crying hard now. Gong-myung says that it’s probably better this way, that Dong-young can really focus on passing the test now. But Dong-young’s dream was to pass and live happily ever after with Joo-yeon, and now he moans that he has nothing to work for.
He dissolves into tears, crying in Gong-myung’s lap. Ki-bum tells Dong-young to stop, then starts crying with him, while Gong-myung looks like he’d rather be anywhere else in the universe right now.
Hana’s coworkers plead her case to Jung-seok, telling him about her family’s bankruptcy and that she’s the sole breadwinner. Jung-seok doesn’t look completely unmoved, but he points out that he’s not a charity, and his joint class isn’t there to help the needy.
Jin-woong tries to give Jung-seok the gift certificates again, and Jung-seok realizes that it wasn’t Hana who tried to bribe him. He excuses himself to the restroom, and the three coworkers resolve to make him change his mind when he gets back.
In the restroom, Jung-seok wonders out loud why Hana didn’t defend herself in regards to the bribe. He also wonders what Hana did to make the others so loyal to her, but he can’t figure it out.
Jin-yi finds Jung-seok’s breathalyzer, and when Director Kim breathes a 0.15 (well over the legal limit) Jin-woong pulls out his walkie-talkie again. Director Kim grabs it and asks into it if there are any teaching positions available in the year 1990, ha.
Jung-seok finds them arguing over the walkie-talkie, and their struggles cause Jin-yi to spill her beer down her shirt. The guys can barely hide their gawping at her now-visible bra, and she cries sexual harassment while Jung-seok wonders what’s wrong with all of them.
Hana spends the evening passing out the wet wipe packets with her class info on them, and dejectedly picks up a dirty, discarded one. She treats herself to a convenience store beer, narrating that she drinks alone to stand strong on tough days, when it’s hard to drink with someone else.
Ki-bum drags Dong-young home and flops him into bed, then catches sight of a photo of Dong-young and Joo-yeon on the desk. He sits and drinks a beer, unsure of what to do to help his heartbroken friend.
Hana continues her narration, saying that these are days when it’s hard to share a drink with someone else. Having a drink alone is like a spell that improves her tough life. “That’s why I’m drinking solo today, like this.”
Fortified by the drink, Hana goes back to handing out packets, and she’s so absorbed that she hands one to Gong-myung before recognizing him. He offers to help but she declines, and asks him not to pass them out on his own again like he did today. She tells him to use his time to study, but he says he’s not the studying type.
Hana tells him to do better, so she can see him pass the civil servant test. It looks like her encouragement stuns Gong-myung a little, and he watches her for a bit while she goes back to passing out packets.
Jung-seok never does go back to the table, and Director Kim calls him while he’s being driven home. The car stops at a red light and Jung-seok glances out the window, then his eyes grow wide as he sees something that astonishes him.
He arrives home to find Gong-myung watching Hana’s teaching video. He utters that Gong-myung picked a teacher just like himself, and tells his brother that Hana isn’t a quality teacher. Gong-myung asks why he’d say that, and Jung-seok tells him that she used to teach at a tiny unknown academy, and didn’t go to a good school herself.
Gong-myung asks what Jung-seok has to teach him when he’s so judgmental. He says that Jung-seok doesn’t even care about the people he teaches, and points to Hana on the screen: “I can see that she’s passionate about teaching us.”
Jung-seok scoffs, asking if Gong-myung felt her passion for teaching when she made him go and pass out the wet wipes. But Gong-myung sets him straight that she didn’t ask — he did it himself. He adds that Hana even told him not to do it again, and that, added to the revelation about the gift certificate, sends Jung-seok to have a good hard think.
He wonders why she didn’t tell him the truth, and we see that it was Hana he saw at the stop light, passing out her wet wipes with enthusiasm despite the difficult day she’s had.
By the time Jung-seok showers and goes back to the living room, Gong-myung has fallen asleep on the couch. Jung-seok starts to turn off Hana’s video, but something makes him stop and watch her for a minute. He begins to see what his brother sees — a teacher who loves what she does and cares about her students.
Hana finally stops for the night, and wobbles to the bus stop on sore feet. She answers a call from Jung-seok, and he asks if she can handle the joint class. She gives an excited yes, and grins a mile wide at the poster of Jung-seok sitting right next to her.
Jung-seok gives her two months to prove she can do a good job, or she’s out. But all Hana hears is that she’s in, and she falls all over herself thanking him and bowing to his poster.
Hana hugs his poster, and Jung-seok looks at her on the teaching video, and he actually smiles.
Finally, we see something in Jung-seok besides arrogance and judgement. Jung-seok may be a class-A jerk, but he’s also a man who won’t be swayed by gifts or begging, and who can admit when he’s misjudged someone. He needs to see actual results before he changes his mind about anything, and for that reason I’m happy that he got a chance to see the truth about Hana when she wouldn’t throw her friends under the bus to defend herself. All the bribes and pleas in the world would only make him stand more firm, but seeing that she’s a genuinely caring, honest teacher is the thing that got her into the class — she succeeded on her own merit, and that makes me happy for her.
One thing I’m very much looking forward to, is Jung-seok learning that not every single meal needs to be an elevated experience. I mean, I’m an introvert myself, and the experience of enjoying something delicious on your own terms and in your own time, without conversational distraction, is really a wonderful thing. So I get it, his desire for that alone time, I really do. But there’s also something to be said for a dining experience that’s shared — it brings people together, adds a flavor to the food and drink that can’t be savored alone. Jung-seok’s love of dining alone is understandable and certainly something to be enjoyed, especially after his days of constant teaching, but he needs to learn to balance the solitary time with some social interaction.
At this point, though, I’m actually more interested in the three students’ struggles with life and school than I am with the teachers and their joint class crisis. Somehow the boys’ struggles just seem more grounded, as they deal with trying to find a place in the world, and family issues, and heartbreak. I find them really fun to watch and I love how their different personalities mesh so well. Dong-young is utterly serious about his future and seems the most mature, yet he’s such a cinnamon roll, I just want to hug him forever. Ki-bum is the comedy relief, but he’s also got a very loyal heart and seems to be the caretaker of the group. He’s the first to crack a joke, but he’s also the first to check in on whoever seems to need him most. Gong-myung is the straight man — everything is black and white for him, and he so often seems completely baffled by his friends even while he’s there for them.
I don’t really understand why Gong-myung’s family is so negative about him, calling him stupid and useless and passing him around like he’s something to be gotten rid of. From everything we’ve seen, he’s actually pretty level-headed and intelligent — he’s definitely the stable one in his trio of friends. It’s just that he’s been told he’s not smart for so long, he actually believes it. So okay, he’s been coasting for a year, but honestly I don’t blame him when he had a family who wasn’t pushing him to get a job, especially when they own a business and could have had him working there. I do get that his mother is frustrated that he doesn’t have any career ambitions, especially when compared to his highly successful brother Jung-seok. I even think her plan to send him to live with Jung-seok to study and observe a good influence is a good one — I just don’t understand why they view him as an utter failure, when a lot of the reason he’s failing to launch is because his family has told him over and over that he’s not capable of getting by on his own.
But it does give Hana a chance to be a mentor to Gong-myung, and it’s no wonder he’s already got a good dose of hero-worship when it comes to his teacher. When everyone is telling you that you’re stupid and worthless, and someone comes along who says that you’re just in a state of untapped potential, that can be a life-changing moment. It’s natural to idolize the person who helps you understand yourself, and who is the first person to ever believe in you. I like that Gong-myung’s character isn’t just a simple case of a student crushing on his teacher because she’s pretty. He’s actually got some pretty valid reasons for developing feelings for Hana, which makes his inevitable noona-crush just feel that much more poignant.
- Drinking Solo: Episode 2
- Drinking Solo: Episode 1
- Raise a glass (or eight) to Drinking Solo’s drink enthusiasts
- Ha Suk-jin, Gong Myung join tvN’s Drinking Solo
- Let’s Eat spinoff Drinking Solo lines up its drinkers
- Let’s Eat spinoff Drinking Solo comes to tvN this fall
- Let’s Eat spinoff about drinking in the works at tvN