Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: Episode 7
Bok-ju starts to see how her secret is negatively affecting those around her, due to the way she’s been lying and sneaking around in order to preserve it. The problem is, the longer it goes on, the more that leads to feelings of hurt and betrayal, and now she’ll have to do some serious damage control if she wants to mend bridges.
EPISODE 7: “Happy Birthday”
Shi-ho stops cold in the middle of gymnastics practice, and runs over to the weightlifting practice room. She sees Coach Choi inside, but whatever she came for, she doesn’t go in.
Bok-ju arrives home some time later to find her father sitting with both of her weightlifting coaches. Dad throws her weight loss journal on the table and loudly demands to know what this is about, and Coach Yoon tries to calm him.
But Dad won’t be calmed, and he grabs a mop handle and goes after Bok-ju. Coach Yoon and Uncle Dae-ho hold him back while Coach Choi shields Bok-ju, who apologizes pitifully. Dad is so angry that Coach Choi tells Bok-ju to run, and they silently head back to school.
The coaches make Bok-ju do squats until she’s exhausted, asking her why she was going to a weight loss clinic. Coach Yoon reminds her that she’s not an ordinary college girl — she’s a weightlifter, and her going against her coaches’ and father’s wishes is a disappointment.
Joon-hyung’s aunt invites him to dinner tonight for Jae-yi’s birthday, and he accepts. He texts Bok-ju that it’s her crush’s birthday, giggling over what a good friend he’s being.
Bok-ju finishes her punishment squats and Coach Choi comes to talk to her. She says that Bok-ju is too mature and dedicated to go to a weight loss clinic just out of curiosity, but Bok-ju keeps quiet about her reasons. Coach Choi says she’s going to stick right by Bok-ju from now on, because her training has to continue.
She forbids Bok-ju from leaving campus without permission, warning her that she’s prepared to use force if Bok-ju disobeys. Bok-ju nods her understanding, looking miserable but accepting her coach’s authority.
Her friends take her to her dorm and massage her sore muscles, lovingly griping at her for misbehaving. Shi-ho comes home and listens in as Seon-ok tries to get Bok-ju to tell them why she went to a weight-loss clinic, but Bok-ju remains frustratingly silent.
Shi-go goes for a walk, seeming upset at how her turning in that weight loss diary has negatively affected Bok-ju. She wonders sadly just how far she’ll go.
Shi-ho wanders down the middle of the street, consumed by her thoughts and backing up traffic. Dr. Go finds her and takes her for coffee, and asks why Shi-ho is so upset. Shi-ho answers that she hates herself because she did something terrible to someone out of jealousy.
Dr. Go agrees that jealousy is awful, and admits that she was once very jealous over a man. She asks Shi-ho if this is that love triangle she mentioned before, but Shi-ho says it’s not really a triangle, and Dr. Go tells her not to be too hard on herself.
Jae-yi is worried when Bok-ju doesn’t show up for her appointment, and he heads to dinner with his parents and Joon-hyung. Dr. Go calls him, and Jae-yi’s mom perks up to hear that he’s talking to a lady and invites her to join them. When Dr. Go arrives, Jae-yi’s parents are delighted to meet her, although he squirms in his chair.
Dr. Go wonders why Joon-hyung and Jae-yi are so different, so the fact that they’re actually cousins must not be common knowledge. Jae-yi asks Joon-hyung why Bok-ju didn’t come to her appointment today, and Joon-hyung thinks it’s strange, too.
Jae-yi gives Dr. Go a ride home and apologizes for his mother’s eagerness to throw them together, saying that she’s nervous that he’ll never find a wife. Dr. Go tells him not to be so defensive, pouting that he hurt her feelings.
She asks if Jae-yi is afraid she’ll set her sights on him, and makes it a point to call him “Friend,” but pauses to give him his birthday gift. Jae-yi feels like a real jerk as he opens her present to find a stack of CDs.
Joon-hyung worries about Bok-ju as he walks home, knowing she would have come to her appointment if she’d known it was Jae-yi’s birthday. He goes to the chicken restaurant to look for her, and Uncle Dae-ho tells him that she’s under close coach scrutiny right now.
Joon-hyung cringes in sympathy to hear that Bok-ju got caught going to Jae-yi’s clinic. He goes back to their dorm and looks up at her window, and calls her careless for getting busted. He sends her another text, and this time the chime from her phone gets her out of bed to check her messages.
She sees Joon-hyung’s earlier text about Jae-yi’s birthday, and the one he just sent simply asking if she’s okay. Her face falls, and she hobbles back to bed without responding. She lies there sniffling, and finally breaks into loud sobs.
Coach Choi monitors Bok-ju’s food intake at breakfast, though she doesn’t look happy to have to be so aggressive about it. Joon-hyung and his roommate Tae-kwon see Bok-ju eating under the watchful eye of her coach.
Coach Yoon is on edge as well, complaining about the team’s lack of dedication when they aren’t all present early and ready to train, and retreats to his office. The weightlifting sunbaes corner Bok-ju to blame her for the coaches’ recent bad moods, warning her not to cause any more trouble for them.
Joon-hyung paces outside the weightlifting gym, wanting to talk to Bok-ju but unsure why he even cares so much. He nearly calls out when Bok-ju leaves the building, but stops himself when he sees Coach Choi right on her heels.
Bok-ju’s dad has taken to his bed (after giving Uncle Dae-ho a lovely shiner) and is refusing to go to his dialysis, so Bok-ju heads home to visit him. At first he won’t speak to Bok-ju either, but eventually he blows up and asks why she even cares if he gets treatment.
Bok-ju finally snaps, and yells that yes, she went to the weight clinic, but what Dad’s doing now is no different. That gets her in even worse trouble for talking back, and he threatens to give the weight-loss doctor a piece of his mind (and fists, no doubt) for tricking a naive student into treatment just for money. Bok-ju chases Dad outside, begging him not to go to the clinic, swearing that Jae-yi didn’t lure her there and promising never to go again. Dad suddenly collapses, and Coach Choi hails a taxi to rush him to the hospital.
Shi-ho practices a split-turn over and over again, falling out of it every time. Her coach worries about her competition tomorrow, and makes her keep practicing the move.
Bok-ju’s dad is taken for an emergency dialysis treatment, and Dae-ho sends Bok-ju back to training. She and Coach Choi stop at a convenience store for a drink, and the coach says that she understands her father’s reaction. She tells Bok-ju to be good to him, and Bok-ju meekly agrees.
Coach Choi gets called to the administration office, and tells Bok-ju to go straight back to the training room. Bok-ju stops on the way, her eyes drawn by a bright store window, where she sees a plant with a “Happy Birthday” card on display.
When Coach Choi arrives at the gym to find that Bok-ju hasn’t returned yet, she grows angry all over again.
Seon-ok is still curious why Bok-ju would suddenly develop an interest in losing weight, and Nan-hee continues to pretend she knows nothing about it. Nan-hee vaguely says that Bok-ju must have her reasons for lying, but Seon-ok wants to know what those reasons are.
Bok-ju heads to Jae-yi’s clinic, carrying the little “Happy Birthday” plant she bought. She thinks that she probably won’t be able to see him anymore, and wonders if she’d have been able to wish him a happy birthday in person if she’s just been honest from the beginning.
In her heart, she tells Jae-yi the truth about herself — that she’s a student at Haneul Sport University, and that she’s a weightlifter. She tells him about her great strength, and that she actually likes Big Bang much more than classical music, hee. Lastly, she confesses that she likes him.
She tells herself that she’ll forget him soon, and leaves the plant on Jae-yi’s car. He finds it later and smiles, but Bok-ju is long gone by then.
Bok-ju finally takes Joon-hyung’s call as she’s walking back to school, and he asks if she’s okay. He mentions seeing Coach Choi following her around, and she starts to explain before she sees Seon-ok and Na-hee outside the gym, waving to her frantically.
She abruptly hangs up when Coach Choi joins them, looking furious. Coach demands that Bok-ju explain her behavior after promising she wouldn’t go off-campus without permission, and when Bok-ju remains quiet she decides that a tougher punishment is in order.
She paddles Bok-ju several times with a mop handle, intending to give her twenty lashes, but Nan-hee rushes in after only three swings and says she’ll spill everything. Nan-hee tells Coach Choi the whole story while Seon-ok listens from around the corner, looking hurt to have been left out of the loop.
After hearing the explanation, a much calmer Coach Choi sits Bok-ju down and tells her how she ran away from home over a guy once, her love making her forget all about weightlifting. They’d only spent one night away before he’d chickened out and gone home, and she’d felt betrayed. But even worse was how she still couldn’t get over him.
Coach says that she understands how Bok-ju feels, but promises her that it will pass. She likens it to “hitting the wall” — when you feel like you can’t go another step, but you push through it until everything is fine again. She tells Bok-ju that someday she’ll meet a guy who’ll love her for who she truly is — that’s the man she should date, and Coach won’t stop her.
Joon-hyung is worried sick about Bok-ju, and he happens to wander past the spot where she and Coach Choi are talking. He sees Bok-ju sobbing in Coach’s lap, while Coach hollers that she’ll hurt the guy that made Bok-ju cry.
Coach Choi sends Bok-ju home to sleep and spend some time with her dad. She tells Bok-ju that training will start tomorrow, and as Bok-ju leaves, Coach muses that being in love can be awfully lonely.
She goes back to the gym, and tells Coach Yoon that Bok-ju is doing better now. They agree that they need to trust her a little more, and that hardships like these are necessary for growth.
As Bok-ju walks, she sees a sausage roll down the sidewalk nearby. Curious, she steps closer to investigate, and we see Joon-hyung hiding behind a bush mimicking reeling in a fish, hee. He pops out when Bok-ju gets close enough, triumphant at finally getting a chance to talk to her.
He asks why she’s not returning his calls, and Bok-ju just sighs. Joon-hyung decides not to press the issue, and throws an arm over her shoulder and takes her to eat, unconcerned about breaking curfew.
Seon-ok is hurt and upset that Nan-hee didn’t tell her Bok-ju’s secret. She refuses to listen to Nan-hee’s explanations or apologies, and hides in her bed.
Joon-hyung takes Bok-ju for grilled meat, and his cheerfulness makes her suspicious of his motives. She’s still depressed and sad, but she eats when he urges her. He chatters that it’s not like she needs to diet anymore, then looks like he wants to bite his tongue off for reminding her that she won’t be seeing Jae-yi anymore.
Bok-ju starts to cry softly, though she cheers a bit to hear that Jae-yi was worried when she didn’t make her appointment. Joon-hyung fusses over her, stopping her from eating raw meat and cleaning her elbow when she sticks it in the food. So cute.
After dinner Joon-hyung takes Bok-ju to a club to work out her feelings. He lets her open his drink, impressed by her strength, then pulls her to the dance floor. It only takes a bit of urging for Bok-ju to let loose and dance her troubles away (though it’s really more like barely-controlled flailing, and I adore how Joon-hyung copies her dance moves while protecting those close to her).
Uncle Dae-ho finds Dad drinking and tries to stop him. He starts to down the whole bottle himself but fails, and Dad smiles a little at his attempt to save face. Dae-ho knows that Dad is feeling guilty for scolding Bok-ju, and he says it’s only natural for her to want to look feminine and go on dates.
Dad sighs that she’s a weightlifter, not a woman, but Dae-ho argues that she’s both. He admits feeling bad for Bok-ju, who always wears slouchy clothes and has calluses on her hands. He goes off to bed, and Dad says to himself that he does feel bad for her. He sighs that she can’t give up, wanting her to see her goal through to the end; he thinks her winning a gold medal will prevent her from feeling the regret Dad has felt.
Joon-hyung and Bok-ju walk home in the early morning hours, Bok-ju still dancing a bit as they walk, hee. She loses the rock-paper-scissors game to pay for their next clubbing outing, and Joon-hyung asks again how she got caught going to Jae-yi’s clinic.
Apparently, the coaches found her weight loss journal in the gym, though she remembers putting in safely in her bag. But she says she doesn’t have any regrets, because she learned a lot from Jae-yi about being a woman, and how a man can make her heart flutter as much as weightlifting.
Joon-hyung looks at her sadly for a moment, then perks up and bounces around her in a circle. Bok-ju had permission to be out of the dorm all night, but she asks if Joon-hyung will be in trouble, and he asks if she’s worried about him.
He ruffles her hair when she says she’s worried, then does it again when she objects to the skinship. He tells her that being chatty and bubbly is more like her, and adds seriously that she can call him whenever she needs a mood lift.
He drops Bok-ju of at the dorm doors, and she thanks him, saying that she had a good time, “thanks to you.” He returns the sentiment, saying that he had fun thanks to her.
Once she’s gone, it suddenly hits Joon-hyung why her story about the coach finding her weight loss diary doesn’t seem right. He remembers seeing Shi-ho storming into the gym a few mornings ago, and suddenly wonders if she had anything to do with it.
On the way to her room, Bok-ju wonders why Joon-hyung is being so nice to her, and concedes that Joon-hyung does resemble his hyung a little. She sneaks into her room only to find Shi-ho already up, and Shi-ho asks how she’s doing, saying that Bok-ju looked unwell yesterday.
Bok-ju wishes her luck at her competition today and lies down for a nap, and Shi-ho accidentally breaks a mirror picking up something from her desk.
Bok-ju nearly sleeps through the team’s morning run, and she hurries out to find Seon-ok giving both her and Nan-hee the silent treatment. Bok-ju nervously takes a call from Dad, who summons her to the restaurant later.
Dad grouchily accuses her of pretending to care when she asks how she’s feeling, but he’s obviously not really angry anymore. He gives her a little gift, a lipstick, and tells her to only use it when she’s going out. Aw, he’s trying.
The rhythmic gymnastics competition begins, and despite Shi-ho’s rival Soo-bin being the coach’s pet, she drops her clubs several times during her routine. Shi-ho looks nervous, but she performs the same routine she flubbed during the national team tryouts, and this time she completely nails it.
But over in the swimming building, Joon-hyung struggles in practice. He’s slow and uncoordinated, and his coach reads him the riot act. He blames it on his lack of sleep when Tae-kwon asks what’s wrong, and refuses to answer any of his questions.
Shi-ho is on cloud nine as the team returns to school, and she’s even happier when Joon-hyung calls and asks to talk. He offers a halfhearted congratulations on her competition, and she tells him about breaking her mirror but guesses it didn’t portend a bad day like she thought.
Joon-hyung doesn’t smile along with her, and just asks, “Was it you?” He tells her that he saw her at the weightlifting gym, and she asks why he’s asking if he already knows. She admits she left Bok-ju’s journal at the gym, and Joon-hyung too-calmly asks why.
Then he blows up, demanding to know why she did that to Bok-ju when it wouldn’t benefit her at all. Shi-ho only asks why he’s so upset, since it’s none of his business, either.
She confesses that she hates seeing them laugh together, and demands to know who Bok-ju is losing weight for. Joon-hyung is shocked at her vehemence, and says that he and Bok-ju are not in the kind of relationship she seems to think they are.
Shi-ho just asks how Joon-hyung feels about Bok-ju, and he starts to say they went to the same elementary school. But Shi-ho even hates that fact, and she worries that she’s going crazy over this. But she can’t help hating that he smiles at someone other than her, and she warns Joon-hyung not to provoke her, “or I might go even crazier.”
Bok-ju is in her room, wondering if she should call the clinic and tell them she won’t be coming to her appointments anymore. She calls Joon-hyung to ask for advice, which is when Shi-ho bursts in and overhears their conversation.
She snatches the phone out of Bok-ju’s hand, and demands to know why Bok-ju keeps calling and seeing Joon-hyung. She says that she heard Bok-ju liked someone else, and asks why she’s making passes at Joon-hyung. She even admits defiantly that she left the weight loss journal at the gym for Bok-ju’s coaches to find, and Bok-ju can only stare at her, unbelieving.
I’m really enjoying Shi-ho’s character trajectory right now — I find her and her issues interesting, and I’m so glad she’s not being painted as a straight-up villain. She acted impulsively by taking Bok-ju’s weight-loss diary to her coaches, but I appreciate that she regretted her actions when she saw how much Bok-ju was hurt by it. But then she flipped again when she saw how much Joon-hyung was upset by it, and rather than see her emotional volatility as just your average second-lead behavior, I appreciate that Shi-ho’s actions feel real and driven by authentic concerns. Yes, she’s coming unhinged, but she has understandable reasons for coming unhinged, with all the pressure she’s under from so many different sources.
I believe that Shi-ho has some pretty serious emotional problems right now, with her gymnastics career and her feelings for Joon-hyung and her internal and external drives for success all at war with one another, so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her bad behavior. But seeing her conflicted over what she did to Bok-ju humanizes her and allows us as viewers to sympathize with her even as she hates what she’s doing, which makes her much more interesting to watch as she tries to fight her own personal demons.
On the flip side, I feel so bad for Bok-ju right now — she’s at such a difficult place in her life and she’s being pulled in two very different, conflicting directions. Her ultimate goal is to win Olympic gold, which is the goal that everyone in her life — coaches and family — are pushing her towards, supporting the dream Bok-ju has been working for since she was a young girl. But Bok-ju is having a personal crisis that’s at odds with that goal, and unfortunately she picked the worst way to go about pursuing her crush on Jae-yi. Becoming his patient was impulsive and ill-advised for a young woman whose Olympic dreams depend on her weight (weight class in weightlifting is crucially important), though I can see why she felt it was the only way to spend time with him.
While I may not agree personally with Coach Choi’s disciplinary decisions, I do see her side of the issue and understand why she’s being so strict with Bok-ju right now. Bok-ju may not have been happy about the decision to change her weight class, but she did agree to it, and her coaches felt she couldn’t be trusted. And they were right, judging by the way Bok-ju went AWOL before even one day had passed. I may not like Coach Choi’s corporal punishment of Bok-ju, but she did warn her what could happen if she disobeyed her restrictions, and at least it got through to Bok-ju that this isn’t a joke. If she wants to go to the Olympics, much less win a gold medal, she needs to focus on training like she’s never focused before.
It’s not so much that Bok-ju didn’t go straight back to school that night, or even that she tried to lose weight, that had everyone so upset. Keeping her thoughts and feelings bottled up when those thoughts and feelings were opposite to her professional goals was Bok-ju’s greatest offense, because she’s not going to accomplish anything if she keeps secrets and refuses to be honest with the very people who are trying their hardest to help her. I can understand why they feel disrespected and betrayed, because they’re killing themselves to help Bok-ju realize her dream while Bok-ju was lying by omission and sabotaging her own goals. As long as Bok-ju refused to share what she’s thinking with anyone, her coaches and father were going to continue to be disappointed by Bok-ju’s actions. Part of growing up is understanding that your behavior affects other people, and it’s time for Bok-ju to grow up and start communicating with the people in her life. So while I do wish it had been Bok-ju’s decision to come clean, at least now her motivations are in the open, which allowed Coach Choi a chance to meet Bok-ju on an emotional level she hadn’t had access to before.
I do agree with the message that Jae-yi isn’t the right man for Bok-ju, simply because of the fact that she couldn’t be herself with him. I believe that if she felt she had to lie to get him to like her, then he’s automatically wrong for her. Coach Choi was absolutely right, that Bok-ju will meet someone who will love her for exactly who she is, and that when that happens, everything will fall into place naturally. I love that Bok-ju has no idea that that man is already right there next to her, and that he already admires and respects her for her strength and spirit, and that she doesn’t even know it. I can’t wait for that moment when Bok-ju looks up and sees Joon-hyung standing beside her, already loving her for who she is, right now, imperfections and all.