Woman of Dignity: Episode 5
Everyone’s lies are becoming more complex as uncomfortable truths continue to boil just below the surface this hour. It seems that gossip and secrets are the weapons of choice for the wealthy and privileged few, and there’s no quarter even for friends and family. The only question is, who will be able to play the game best, and who will get hurt in the process?
Episode 5: “Greed, with love”
We see what looks like the little pigtailed girl from Bok-ja’s picture and her friend playing outside with dolls. Her friend kindly offers her new doll for the pigtailed girl to play with, but they’re interrupted when a woman comes to snatch the doll away.
Now left to sit alone in a room, the pigtailed girl sadly cuts out a paper doll for herself before she throws the poor replacement away in frustration. Bok-ja narrates, “It’s better not to know what you cannot have.”
Next, we see Bok-ja leading the little girl out of the house (ah, so that’s her daughter). Bok-ja tries to put on a brave face for her daughter before she sends a mixed, fleeting glance at the house behind. Bok-ja tenderly strokes her daughter’s head as they walk away.
The scene fades to Bok-ja lying on the floor in a pool of blood, just like we saw in the show’s opening.
Back in the present, an unrepentant Bok-ja says that she threw out Joo-mi’s son in exchange for Joo-mi throwing out Cat. Looking at Joo-mi with tears in her eyes, Bok-ja lists all the times that Joo-mi’s mistreated her, though she says that while she could take the abuse, it was unfair of Joo-mi to throw out her family member (Cat) who was incapable of defending itself.
Disbelievingly, Ah-jin asks how Bok-ja could consider her cat to be on the same level as Joo-mi’s son, and Bok-ja intentionally misunderstands as she agrees that the two are different—Joo-mi’s son can speak and find his own way home, while Cat cannot.
“She had to know what it felt like to have her family thrown out in the rain!” Bok-ja yells. “That’s the only way she can know how I feel! Joo-mi can never understand with just words.”
This proves to be Joo-mi’s last straw, and she attacks Bok-ja before being pulled back by her son, Woon-kyu. Ah-jin persuades Joo-mi to leave, and Woon-kyu carries his distraught mother away from Bok-ja.
Jae-hee surprises her father by climbing in the back of his car with him, revealing that her husband didn’t accompany her because they’re getting a divorce—and thus, Jae-hee wants her inheritance early. Disappointed in his daughter, Chairman Ahn refuses to entertain the idea, and Jae-hee’s petulant pleas to reconsider go completely ignored by the Chairman.
Ah-jin is left to face Bok-ja alone, and she orders her to leave the house immediately. Bok-ja looks shaken as tears fall down her cheeks, but she says adamantly, “I will not take even one step out of this house.”
Taken aback, Ah-jin asks Bok-ja bluntly what she wants from the Ahn household. Bok-ja’s face becomes hard, and it looks like she might actually answer truthfully… but they’re interrupted when Chairman Ahn and Jae-hee enter.
The moment interrupted, Bok-ja rushes over to the chairman. Looking at her broken face, the chairman states that he was worried and wants to know why she checked herself out of the hospital so soon. Bok-ja, back to her deferential persona, claims that she came back because she was worried about him.
The next morning, a perpetually clueless Jae-suk hears about last night’s events and decides that it was all Joo-mi’s fault, anyway. Correcting him, Ah-jin says that Bok-ja’s reaction was unreasonable, reminding him that family should be their most important priority anyway.
With Bok-ja and Chairman Ahn’s relationship fully restored, Ah-jin finds the two lovebirds together. Chairman Ahn praises Bok-ja’s sake baths for making him feel better, and Bok-ja doesn’t hide her smug reaction from Ah-jin. Unhappy with the intimate sight, Ah-jin coolly asks Bok-ja to follow her out for a chat.
Ah-jin has decided that now is the time Bok-ja needs to leave, sliding across an envelope of money as compensation for her work and injuries. Bok-ja pushes the envelope back toward Ah-jin and conspicuously rubs her bandaged arm as she points out that circumstances have changed. More importantly, Bok-ja asks how Ah-jin would deal with the chairman if she were to be kicked out.
Ah-jin demands again to know what Bok-ja wants from the Ahn family, pointing out the suspicious research Bok-ja has compiled. Unruffled, Bok-ja compares the research she did on the Ahn family to the research she did on art (in order to ingratiate herself with Ah-jin), claiming that she just wanted to know about the family she’d be working for.
Furthermore, Bok-ja says that she won’t be taking any orders from anyone but Chairman Ahn anymore, including Ah-jin. Ah-jin is left speechless as Bok-ja walks away triumphantly.
Enjoying a decadent bubble bath with mistress Sung-hee, Jae-suk complains about the size of the bathtub. Sung-hee lightly says that this is what you can expect from a small apartment, prompting Jae-suk to offer her a raise for her design work. Sung-hee pouts, and Jae-suk offers to buy her a house instead. Smiling widely now, Sung-hee pretends to be bashful as Jae-suk promises to be her “sponsor.”
Kyung-hee and Hyo-joo sit watching their kids on the ice rink, gossiping on the sidelines. Kyung-hee gleefully confides in Hyo-joo that Jae-suk is cheating on Ah-jin. Initially refusing to believe it, Hyo-joo is honestly shocked that Jae-suk would do such a thing.
Hyo-joo relates the gossip to her husband Moon-tak, who feigns ignorance of the affair. He offhandedly remarks that it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t cheat these days, adding that it’s much better to come clean, like he does. Then, he says, “Oh, and Ae-ran is thankful for all your help.”
Hyo-joo’s displeasure is evident as she points out that it would be better for him not to mention his mistress in front of the wife who just made him breakfast. Not content to let this slide, Moon-tak hints that he knows his wife is cheating on him—but he says he’s fine to let it go so long as she raises his children well.
Offended at his attitude, Hyo-joo exclaims that she is the one who has to let everything go—she even pretended not to know that her husband bought his mistress a house, which made her feel like an idiot. Moon-tak sneers as he replies that he knows all the wives have young boyfriends now while they spend their husbands’ money. With that, Moon-tak continues to eat breakfast, ignoring Hyo-joo’s expression.
Bok-ja catches Mrs. Cho unaware and threatens that if she doesn’t keep her mouth shut in the future, she’ll be thrown out of the house. Mrs. Cho can only agree, since she’s frightened of Bok-ja.
Visiting Ah-jin’s maid, personal assistant Jin-hee is shocked to hear that Bok-ja won’t be leaving the chairman’s house yet. But when the maid mentions that Jae-suk’s cycling clothes never smell like sweat even though he goes cycling every morning, Jin-hee’s expression turns thoughtful.
Suspicious about the chairman’s birthday party accident, Ah-jin meets with the owner of the party tents, who informs her that Joo-mi knocking into it wouldn’t have been enough on its own. Instead, he says that someone must have tampered with it, and he recommends that Ah-jin look at the CCTV footage. Bok-ja spies on the two from the balcony, making Ah-jin pause when she notices.
Hyo-joo and Ki-ok treat themselves at the spa while discussing their friend Kyung-hee, who isn’t able to join them because it’s too expensive. Ki-ok reveals that Kyung-hee’s husband is stingy, adding that he beats her, too. Sighing that Kyung-hee’s life is too sad, Hyo-joo wonders why Kyung-hee doesn’t just leave, since Yoon-jae isn’t even her own son.
Fishing for information about the men from Hyo-joo’s yacht party, Ki-ok remarks that Hyo-joo’s relationship with her yacht boy didn’t look so innocent. Instead of answering, Hyo-joo changes the subject and tries to ask Ki-ok about her husband prescribing vitality pills to Jae-suk that weren’t for his wife, since she believes that Ki-ok was the one to tell Kyung-hee about it.
But Ki-ok claims to not know anything about the pills or Jae-suk’s affair, and looks concerned about where this information could have come from.
Ah-jin blows off some steam with Jin-hee, and finds her assistant a willing partner when it comes to theorizing about Bok-ja’s duplicity. The two think it strange that the canopy collapsed by itself and that it was located conveniently in the one place where there is no security camera coverage. With that in mind, they wonder whether Bok-ja had everything planned before she ever came into the Ahn household.
At Sung-hee’s house, Ah-jin presents Sung-hee with a custom made red dress in return for tutoring Ji-hoo all the way to the national drawing competition. Looking around curiously when Sung-hee leaves to put on the dress, Ah-jin notices some men’s T-shirts and boxers in the apartment. Ah-jin doesn’t seem to immediately recognize the clothes, and before she can think about it too much, Sung-hee comes back in the room.
Ah-jin effusively compliments Sung-hee’s beauty and tells her not to worry about the upcoming meeting with gallery owner Director Seo. Ah-jin promises that she will be there by Sung-hee’s side for support.
Bok-ja reads an erotic passage to Chairman Ahn as they both lie in bed. Chairman Ahn gulps at the mention of breasts, his eyes involuntarily dropping to Bok-ja’s chest. Knowing the exact thoughts she’s inspiring in Chairman Ahn, Bok-ja slowly bites her lip and twists her body ever so slowly as she holds his gaze.
Ah-jin drops in on her friend Joo-kyung, and Joo-kyung explains that her after-school academy has been suffering since she opened the class to poor students and students with below average grades, which has caused elitist parents to pull their kids from the class. Joo-kyung hesitantly asks Ah-jin whether she can use Ji-hoo’s 100% score in the national test to publicize her academy, and is visibly relieved when Ah-jin says yes.
At his request, Ah-jin meets up with Ki-ho for lunch. He gives Ah-jin more information that he found out about Bok-ja: The police suspected she had an accomplice to the fraud she committed, but Bok-ja took the fall alone. Ah-jin asks about whether she was married since Bok-ja mentioned she had a daughter, but Ki-ho says that Bok-ja was never legally married.
He adds that before that, Bok-ja was an orphan who bounced from adoptive care to foster care before eventually dropping out of high school. But Ki-ho says that the strangest aspect to all of this is that there are no records of Bok-ja for a number of years after she was jailed.
Dressed to the nines, Bok-ja is stopped on her way out of the house by a falsely appraising Jae-hee. When Bok-ja airily states she is going shopping for Chairman Ahn, Jae-hee sarcastically congratulates her.
Jae-hee orders Bok-ja to pick up some comfortable sweats for her (even though Bok-ja has been employed as Chairman Ahn’s caregiver and not a maid) to assert her authority. Jae-hee casually mentions that she won’t be leaving next week as planned, and will instead be staying to keep an eye on Bok-ja. As Chairman Ahn’s biological daughter, Bok-ja can’t be rude to Jae-hee, so she walks away with a sour expression.
Jae-hee complains to Mrs. Cho about Bok-ja and her entitled attitude, but she assumes that the Chairman hasn’t slept with her yet. Therefore, she’s horrified to learn from Mrs. Cho that Bok-ja and the chairman have, in fact, already slept together.
Sung-hee decides she wants to spend lunch with Jae-suk and shows up at his work in front of his beleaguered employee. Jae-suk rushes to explain that this gorgeous woman is just another business acquaintance, and he berates Sung-hee for showing up unannounced once they are alone. He forgives her almost immediately when she cuddles him though, and he goes in for a kiss.
Which is how Jae-suk’s employee finds them when he walks back in. Oops.
Ah-jin goes to pick up a dress from another friend, who sighs that it would be great if she could have Ah-jin’s problems if she also had Ah-jin’s wealth. Ruminating that having wealth is like living on a battlefield every day, Ah-jin tells her friend that she is the lucky one.
After her chat with Hyo-joo, Ki-ok suspiciously questions her husband’s receptionist about his “surgery” when she arrives at the hospital to leave Sung-soo some lunch. Ki-ok notes that it looks like the receptionist is lying about something and tells the receptionist that she’ll be back in an hour—her husband’s surgery should be done then, right?
When Ki-ok can’t get through to Kyung-hee, she calls up Hyo-joo instead. Ki-ok asks if Hyo-joo is sure that it was Kyung-hee who knew about the pills, and Hyo-joo snidely answers that of course she’s sure.
Then, she disingenuously wonders why Ki-ok would tell Kyung-hee about the pills instead of her, feigning(?) jealousy. Hanging up, Hyo-joo makes a scornful remark about Ki-ok’s innocence regarding her husband’s infidelity.
A nervous Sung-hee attends lunch with gallery owner and Ah-jin’s friend Director Seo, who makes it clear that the only reason she is meeting with Sung-hee and showing her art is because of Ah-jin.
Director Seo writes Sung-hee a ten million won check and tells her to buy paints and luxurious clothes with the money. In voiceover, we hear Bok-ja say, “Above rich people are even richer people. Are there any in the highest circles who would ever bow their heads?”
We find Director Seo hunched over in front of a fortune teller as she has the top of her head inspected. Bok-ja’s narration continues, “Where they do bow their heads are, unexpectedly, in strange places.” Bok-ja tells us that this fortune teller used to be just a country girl, but when she moved to Gangnam, she became so popular (and rich) that there are waiting lists a year long for her readings.
The fortune teller asks Director Seo if she is having problems with the men in her life, and Director Seo nods unhappily that her husband is cheating on her again. The fortune teller then advises that if Director Seo wants her husband to be alive this time next year, she’ll have to let him continue cheating.
Ki-ok is determined to see her husband, so she heads back to the hospital after a brief shopping trip. Still at his hotel tryst with Kyung-hee, Sung-soo panics when he gets a text telling him that Ki-ok is at the hospital again.
Forced to rush back to keep up the ruse, a huffing Sung-soo makes it to the hospital, where Ki-ok is waiting for him. Noting how overtaxed he looks, Ki-ok comments that he should really pass some cases to more junior doctors so he doesn’t have to be so busy all the time.
Cutting to the chase, Ki-ok warns a nervous Sung-soo that she wants him to tell her the truth: “Did Jae-suk pick up pills from you?”
Relieved that this is the only question Ki-ok’s asking, Sung-soo answers that he did, so Ki-ok asks him directly why he told Kyung-hee and not his own wife. Thinking quickly, Sung-soo answers that he couldn’t tell Ki-ok when she and Ah-jin are so close. He adds that he only told Kyung-hee because she referred more work his way and he was so grateful that it just slipped out.
Ki-ok accepts his excuse, laughing in relief at the misunderstanding. Faith restored, she winks at Sung-soo and says,“Maybe you should bring home some of those pills.”
Back at work, Chairman Ahn dislikes Sung-hee’s work on their tissue boxes so much that he asks whether Jae-suk is dating the artist. As if it’s any defense, Jae-suk asks, “What, just because we kissed, that means we’re dating?”
Jae-suk shoots a betrayed look at the employee who walked in on him and Sung-hee locked in embrace, thinking that there must have been a leak. The longsuffering employee returns a look of incredulity, since he had nothing to do with it. Chairman Ahn was only guessing, so he has no idea what Jae-suk is going on about.
Bok-ja brings back the sweatpants Jae-hee asked for, explaining that she picked out the absolute brightest ones she could find (which is partially true, since we saw her buy the cheapest, ugliest pants she could find at the market). Jae-hee accuses Bok-ja of buying an ugly pair as punishment for being asked to do something by her.
Bok-ja feigns innocence, saying that Jae-hee won’t ever wear regular pants again after wearing these “fridge pants,” but she refuses to wear them herself when Jae-hee tries to give them back. “I’ve worn them too many times in my life.” Bok-ja says. “I don’t wear them anymore.”
After a tiring day, Ah-jin visits her mom and collapses on the couch. She says sleepily that if she could just nap for twenty minutes, she’ll be fine. Though Mom protests that Ah-jin should move to the bed, an exhausted Ah-jin falls asleep immediately.
Little Ji-hoo tells Jin-hee to take her to Grandma’s house, where they will be having dinner. Ji-hoo is excited to show Grandma a video from Grandpa’s birthday party showing her playing the violin, and her mom singing. The precocious Ji-hoo isn’t done though, and says that she’ll add the video of Jin-hee eating everything she could see. Ha!
Once Ji-hoo has been dropped off at school, Jin-hee watches the birthday video and smiles at the antics on screen. But something she sees in the video soon has her gasping…
At Pungsookjeong, Mrs. Cho complains about the hold Bok-ja has over Chairman Ahn, saying that it’s completely unlike him since he normally hates having people in his house. The women decide Bok-ja must have a secret to making Chairman Ahn like her.
Meanwhile, Bok-ja encourages Chairman Ahn to use the walker, but it proves too strenuous for him. He collapses on top of Bok-ja on the bed, and Bok-ja uses the opportunity to clasp him tight. Enjoying the closeness, Chairman Ahn asks, “Do you want to live together? As husband and wife, I mean.”
Bok-ja’s pleasure at the success of her plan is clear as she coyly answers that she’s not the kind of woman who could marry Chairman Ahn. She says that she just wants to make him healthy, which Chairman Ahn takes to mean that they can be married once he is.
Once Chairman Ahn’s back is turned, Bok-ja’s innocent persona drops, and a terrifying, calculating look crosses her face.
When Ah-jin calls Jae-suk to invite him to dinner with her mom, Jae-suk lies that he’s too busy. Ah-jin tells Mom how much Jae-suk has changed, mentioning how he even goes cycling in the morning, and Mom praises Jae-suk for finally maturing.
Cut to: Jae-suk in his boxers on Sung-hee’s couch, picking his nose.
Sung-hee’s growing possessiveness of Jae-suk comes out when he refuses to stay the night at her place, citing a rule Ah-jin has about him sleeping at home. Sung-hee (rightly) points out it’s not like they asked permission from “that woman” to date, so why do her rules matter now?
Jae-suk doesn’t really have an answer for that, but he does take exception to Sung-hee calling Ah-jin “that woman” when Ah-jin is only ever respectful of Sung-hee. Sung-hee pettily takes away his dinner, and Jae-suk leaves in a half-naked huff at being treated that way.
Kyung-hee calls Sung-soo, who complains about her telling Ki-ok about Jae-suk’s pills. Kyung-hee insists it wasn’t her, but when she hangs up, it looks like this was her plan from the start.
At her mom’s house, Ah-jin watches the video of Grandpa’s birthday and sits up in shock when she sees a man (who we know is Bok-ja’s accomplice) tampering with the canopy.
Bok-ja impresses Chairman Ahn with more of her knowledge (about the poet Baudelaire this time), which prompts Chairman Ahn to ask how much schooling she had. Bok-ja admits that she had to drop out of college due to money, and that both her parents are dead now.
Chairman Ahn smiles that Bok-ja would have done very well with schooling, noting that her intellectual curiosity must be what makes her different from other women.
Ki-ok receives a phone call from the same mysterious number that has been texting her. Ki-ok answers, recording the call, and a woman says, “Have you not been listening? Your husband is cheating on you.”
With her sense of calm banished, Ki-ok looks at Sung-soo suspiciously.
Chairman Ahn continues his wooing and gifts Bok-ja with a lavish necklace set. Putting the jewelry on, Bok-ja sinks to the floor as she sobs while clutching the pearls around her neck. Chairman Ahn looks like he doesn’t know how to comfort her.
Meanwhile, Ah-jin gathers Jae-suk, Jae-hee, and Joo-mi around to show them the proof that the canopy was sabotaged.
But before she can, Chairman Ahn enters, announcing he has big news. Ah-jin tries to let him know she does too, but Chairman Ahn cuts her off as he declares that he and Bok-ja are to be married. Bok-ja smiles.
Ah-jin has finally realized just how much of a threat Bok-ja is to the Ahn family, but that knowledge came just a little too late. It was frustrating to see Ah-jin tentatively get closer to outing Bok-ja, only for Chairman Ahn’s announcement to undercut the moment. I’m not even sure that Ah-jin’s discovery now would do much to sway his opinion, since he seems to have been so starved for love and real companionship that I think even Bok-ja was surprised at just how quickly her wiles worked on him.
Juxtaposed with Chairman Ahn’s purer love is the trio of cheating husbands. I find Moon-tak the most interesting of the three, and the power play between him and Hyo-joo was evident this episode. Moon-tak had an almost egalitarian attitude to the prospect of Hyo-joo cheating as long as she continued to raise his child well. While his bargain was emotionless though, Hyo-joo was clearly upset at the mention of his mistress.
It looks like Hyo-joo might actually have genuinely loved (or perhaps still does love) Moon-tak. It puts a poignant spin on Hyo-joo’s infidelity as a reaction born out of pain and possibly a desire to draw Moon-tak’s attention. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Hyo-joo was malicious about Ki-ok’s fears of her husband cheating right after her unsettling chat with Moon-tak. As they say, misery loves company.
Jae-suk continues to be the comedic highlight of this show, even if I do dislike him for cheating on Ah-jin and for both ignoring Ji-hoo and using her to see his mistress. I do think that the show got lucky with casting Jung Sang-hoon as Jae-suk though, since it’s his hilarious facial expressions that keep me from remembering how odious he actually is most of the time. That, and the fact that I don’t think Ah-jin actually loves Jae-suk.
This hour really highlighted the disconnect Ah-jin has from her own life. Ki-ok is the only one she spoke to of her rich friends, Ah-jin and Jae-suk don’t relate to each other as a married couple anymore, and since Bok-ja came on the scene Ah-jin hasn’t been attending to Chairman Ahn very much. It would be really easy to see Ah-jin being ousted from her own life at this point.
What this show is good at emphasizing is just how enmeshed the rich really are. The wealthy are all obsessed with exclusivity, and pursue it to the point that their social and professional circle is actually really small. For example, Ms. Seo is friends with Ah-jin and only willing to take a chance on Sung-hee because of it. Even so, Sung-hee is willing to cheat with Ah-jin’s husband, and gets annoyed at Ah-jin for wanting her husband home at night. And none of the rich clique seem to like each other much—on the women or men’s side—yet they continue to interact with each other simply because they’re all members of the same elite club. Husbands cheat with their wives’ friends, friends take pleasure in toying with each other and use each other for personal gain. It must be exhausting. No wonder Ah-jin needed that nap at her Mom’s house.
Ah-jin is well aware of this tendency among her rich friends as well, as she astutely noted with the woman at the dress shop. Being rich is more than just having money. It’s jockeying for position, analyzing and valuing people with regards to how useful they are to you. Ah-jin is skilled at that, and it’s true that she does put on a face (quite literally, in the case of her morphing make-up) to present the side that will benefit her most.
On the other hand, Ah-jin also goes out of her way to cultivate more intimate friendships—like with Ki-ok—as well as among people who may not directly benefit her, such as with her struggling friend Joo-kyung or with Jin-hee. I don’t expect her rich “friends” to stay by her side through the downfall we all know is coming, but I hope Ah-jin won’t be in for too great a shock.
- Woman of Dignity: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Woman of Dignity
- A pool of blood and tears of regret for Woman of Dignity
- Black dresses and pink stilettos for Woman of Dignity
- Jealousy, tears, and reversals in tense new Woman of Dignity teaser
- Kim Sun-ah and Kim Hee-sun cross paths and fates in Woman of Dignity
- Man to Man’s sexy big sister Woman of Dignity to air in June on JTBC
- Woman of Dignity lands on JTBC’s weekend schedule
- First look at the leading ladies of Woman of Dignity
- Elegant actresses team up at Woman of Dignity’s first script read