Romance Is a Bonus Book: Episode 8
The weekend arrives, and the publishing crew makes time for clubbing, crying, and some romance. The ladies head out to the clubs in search of some fun and the mythic Gangnam Leopard, while the men try to rally their grieving colleague. But once the hangover subsides, there may be some feelings that can’t be hidden anymore from our heroine.
Dan-yi joins Seo-joon outside Eun-ho’s house, the green onion plush he designed for her in her hands. Eun-ho interrupts to bring Dan-yi a coat, and to demand that she return quickly, since she’s supposedly promised to watch a movie with him. Seo-joon sees through this ruse pretty easily, and he smiles as he asks Dan-yi to join him for a walk.
As they stroll, Seo-joon brings up the book cover he’s considering designing for Gyeoroo. He says that he’ll design it if Dan-yi asks him to, but Dan-yi gets distracted by the hand warmers she finds in her pockets, placed there by the ever-considerate Eun-ho.
And speaking of Eun-ho, he very considerately returns Dan-yi’s new green onion plush to her bed for her, though he’s still pouting about it. He grabs a book from his bookshelf, and Hae-rin’s letter falls to the floor, number thirteen. Eun-ho registers it, and then returns it to the bookshelf unread (so he’s known about Hae-rin’s feelings for a while now…)
Seo-joon expresses his surprise that Eun-ho can be warm-hearted, and Dan-yi thinks back to the email she received from Dong-min. While he paid her alimony, he also begged her to keep Eun-ho away from his restaurant (ah, so she knew!). Dan-yi tells Seo-joon that she wanted to thank Eun-ho for what he’d done for her, but she didn’t, and she suspects that there are many little things that he’s done already and will continue to do to help her.
At his place, Eun-ho’s brooding is interrupted by a text from Hae-rin. She gloats about her flower strategy to get Seo-joon in her debt, and asks if she should bring dumplings from her family’s restaurant for tomorrow. But Eun-ho ignores the text, and Hae-rin grumbles about it as her mom scolds her for wasting the beautiful face and body she inherited on a guy who doesn’t like her, ha.
Seo-joon and Dan-yi arrive at a cute little restaurant where they have the place to themselves. Seo-joon’s called ahead to place their orders, and that’s when Dan-yi spots the reservation sign, where Seo-joon’s name is listed for today as well as tomorrow. Busted. Seo-joon explains that he was worried that Dan-yi wouldn’t be convinced to join him tonight, and that he’d planned to try again the next night if he needed to.
Dan-yi coyly asks if she should have played hard to get, and Seo-joon laughs, and then apologizes for his unfortunate reactions to her divorce and age from the other night. But he says that he still wants to get to know her, and asks if she’d be willing to date for three months.
Now Dan-yi has returned home, and she reports this suggestion to Eun-ho. While she’s flustered by just the idea of being asked on a date again after so long, Eun-ho wants to know whether she’s seriously considering it.
Earlier at the restaurant, Seo-joon spotted her hesitation, and quickly suggests something more casual: they can ride the bus to work together every morning and have dinner together each evening.
Eun-ho can’t believe Dan-yi plans to agree to this plan, while Dan-yi relishes the feeling of possibly finding love again after 30. She tells Eun-ho this might be her last chance to date anyone, and he grumps that fine, she should go ahead and date every guy who asks her out. But a stern look from Dan-yi elicits a quick apology from Eun-ho. He tells her that he’s just in pain.
Dan-yi scrambles in front of Eun-ho and checks for a fever, and Eun-ho moves her hand from his head to his chest. Dan-yi totally misses the point he’s making though, mostly because she’s distracted by all the unexpected muscles her hands find. “Look at you, you’re a man,” she says, and with that, Eun-ho pounces and pushes Dan-yi to the floor, their lips inches apart. “I am a man, a really great one.” And then he’s up and heading for bed, leaving Dan-yi flustered.
After some half-hearted tidying, Dan-yi yells at Eun-ho for leaving the lights on in the bathroom. Eun-ho’s emotions are riding high too though, and he charges back out to confront Dan-yi about her interest in Seo-joon. He tells her that she shouldn’t care about how Seo-joon feels, only how she feels, and whether or not she really likes the guy. Dan-yi says that she won’t know how she feels until she gives dating him a try. This is not the answer Eun-ho wanted to hear, and he thumps the green onion plush in Dan-yi’s arms as he retreats to his room again.
The next morning, Seo-joon heads to the bus stop to pretend to go to work (because yeah, this guy works from home), and Eun-ho spots him as he drives to work. Eun-ho can’t handle his frustration and parks his car in the street to “discuss” things with Seo-joon, which mostly means trying to convince the guy that Dan-yi isn’t interested.
Seo-joon asks Eun-ho not to reveal to Dan-yi that he’s just pretending to go to work, and Eun-ho says he wouldn’t want it to look like he was a loser trying to come between the two of them, ha. Eun-ho finally gives up when they spot Dan-yi running to the stop, though he pouts as he watches the two of them from his rearview mirror.
On the bus, Dan-yi takes out the book Seo-joon gifted her, and Seo-joon offers to share earbuds. The two read, share interesting parts from their books, and listen to music. When Dan-yi arrives at the office, she adds her own thoughts to the inscription Seo-joon left in the book, chronicling their first cute morning date.
Ji-yul arrives, and Dan-yi hands over all of the reader letters that she offered to help her with. Ji-yul hasn’t worked on any of it, and offers to buy Dan-yi lunch, though she doesn’t mention it’s Dan-yi’s hard work when she turns it over to Hae-rin. Hae-rin’s been watching the two of them though, and asks Dan-yi to be in charge of reader letters from now on.
Eun-ho arrives, Author Yoo’s manuscript bundle in hand, and the entire office crowds around to watch him unbundle it. The newbies lean in, and Dan-yi whispers that this author is one of the few remaining who writes in longhand. Jae-min unties the cloth and breathes in the heady aroma of ink from the pages.
Eun-ho wins the battle to transcribe the manuscript, and Dan-yi is volunteered to help. Director Ko tries to suggest the Chinese characters might be too much for Dan-yi, but Dan-yi lets everyone know she knows quite a few characters. Jae-min suggests Eun-ho rents out a suite for them to work, but Eun-ho says he’ll just work at home, and asks Dan-yi slyly if she’s okay with that. With that all decided, Hae-rin volunteers to get Seo-joon on board as their cover artist, since he now owes her a favor.
Yeong-ah wants to head to the club now that it’s Friday, and Dan-yi can’t think of an excuse not to go. And what’s this… it seems like Director Ko raises her hand to come along as well. But when Yeong-ah asks what she’s doing, she plays it off as just a little toxin therapy for her armpits, ha ha.
Meanwhile, Seo-joon has made his way back home, and he enters his locked room. The room is full of books by Author Kang, as well as a murder board with clippings of the author’s public events and other news. Eh, really nothing that scary in here, yet.
Dan-yi texts to let him know she can’t meet up for dinner after work, and then another text comes in from Hae-rin, asking him to meet. At the office, Hae-rin gloats to Eun-ho with Seo-joon’s return text agreeing to meet. Eun-ho’s really not interested in Seo-joon though, so Hae-rin asks him if he’s going to be okay working at home with Dan-yi, when he’s living with someone. The smallest jerk of a smile hints at his lips Eun-ho tells Hae-rin to mind her own business.
Ji-yul and Hoon linger in the book stacks and agree to go clubbing that evening too. Another colleague stops by to suggest they go to Midnight in Gangnam, where it’s rumored that every third Friday of the month, the infamous “Gangnam Leopard” shows up, and sometimes takes home one-night stands.
At the club that night, Ji-yul is worried that they’ll run into Yeong-ah and Dan-yi, but Hoon assures her that the two will never make it into the club. And indeed, even though Yeong-ah brought them both sunglasses and claims that Dan-yi is a model, the bouncer is not willing to let them into the club. That is, until Director Ko, wearing a chic fur coat and a leopard mini stalks to the front of the line and waves her friends in past the stuttering bouncer.
Once inside, Director Ko arrives with drinks for all three of them, and then they sexy-saunter down the stairs towards the stage. Director Ko gives them a wink, lets the coat drop away, and heads up to the stage to dance front and center. The whole club explodes in cheers and everyone dances and waves. Oh man, is Director Ko the Gangnam Leopard?
As the night winds down, Ji-yul and Hoon spot Ji-yul’s mother’s secretary spying on them as they exit the club. Hoon puts his arms around Ji-yul to make it convincing, but Ji-yul nearly strangles him when he suggests kissing. Even without a kiss, the secretary reports that the two seem very much in love, and that Hoon is actually kind of cute, haha.
While the ladies are at the club, Jae-min and Eun-ho track Ji-hong down at a fishing dock. Jae-min is both kind and stern, and tells Ji-hong that he’s filed a leave of absence for him, but that he needs to return to work by next week or he’s fired.
At the club, the ladies file out, though they attract the attention of a young admirer. He’s eventually dragged away by his girlfriend though, ha. Yeong-ah and Director Ko are ready to keep drinking, while Dan-yi protests that she’s ready for home. Except… she’s joking, and eventually smiles and tells them to lead the way.
They make their way to Director Ko’s house, where there are enough bathrooms for everyone to have their own, and the place is still a total mess. The ladies don’t seem to mind though, and they settle in amongst the clutter while the director brings out the gin. Director Ko notes that Dan-yi seems a little uncomfortable at the director’s home, and Yeong-ah suggests they try to talk casually as friends, and then calls Director Ko the Gangnam Leopard and giggles (I knew it!)
Yeong-ah and Dan-yi giggle together that Director Ko will be mean to them on Monday, but she retorts that she’s not the type to hold grudges, and Dan-yi agrees with that. They agree to spend every third Friday out together, and cheers to it. The conversation turns serious suddenly though, as the director asks Yeong-ah about her divorce. She points out that Yeong-ah didn’t seem to be bothered by Ji-hong’s imprisoned brother, so she wonders what could have driven the two apart. “He was never on my side,” Yeong-ah starts.
Back at the docks, Ji-hong starts the same story for the men and we flashback to a simple shopping trip. They’re mostly buying things for Ji-hong’s family, until eventually Yeong-ah spots shoes she likes. Once inside the shop, the store clerk is gruff and yells at Yeong-ah for asking for the prices. Yeong-ah moves to defend herself, but Ji-hong just pulls her back and tries to disengage with the clerk.
Dragging her out of the shop, Ji-hong comes up with excuses for why the clerk might be in a bad mood, but Yeong-ah is furious that Ji-hong seems to be on his side and not hers. She screams at him right there, “Whose side are you on? … You should be taking my side!”
Back in the present on the docks, Ji-hong laments that she served him the divorce papers the next day. In Director Ko’s apartment, Yeong-ah sighs that she realized then that she had thought of her husband as the one person who would always be on her side, and that she’d been mistaken all this time.
The ladies all cry into their drinks, and then Dan-yi volunteers her own story–she too is divorced, left by a man who cheated on her. Director Ko and Yeong-ah promptly volunteer to go kick him in the nuts as a group, ha. Now it’s Director Ko’s turn to share, and she trips into another room and brings back a framed photograph of her in a wedding dress with her groom.
Yeong-ah and Dan-yi gasp, but it turns out that Director Ko was never married, because she ran away at the altar. She waves at the mess in her apartment, there because she’s always alone, so there’s no reason to clean. The sobbing rises as all three women hug it out over their gin.
Eun-ho returns home from the docks, and panics when he finds Dan-yi collapsed on the kitchen floor. He immediately calls for an ambulance, but then Dan-yi rolls and mutters on his lap, and he realizes she’s just very very drunk. He cancels the ambulance and instead carries Dan-yi to bed and tucks her in.
The next morning, Dan-yi drags herself to the kitchen floor again, this time thoroughly hungover. Eun-ho teases her and then coaxes her to breakfast after some tea with honey. As they eat, Dan-yi’s memories start to come back, and she realizes that she let her true self, that rough-talking bully, out the evening before. Tired of talking, Dan-yi swore at both Yeong-ah and Director Ko to shut up and stop being annoying. Eun-ho can’t help but smile as Dan-yi hangs her head.
Morning arrives at the docks as well, where Ji-hong still sits. A bedraggled Yeong-ah joins him with ramyun and tea, and the two eat and drink in silence for a beat. She encourages him to come back to work and keep living his life, even though she understands very well how hard life has been for him lately. “I’ll see you at work Monday,” she says as she walks away.
Back at Eun-ho’s, Dan-yi has recovered and the two of them dive into the transcription of the manuscript. Eun-ho is the first to get tired, and Dan-yi tucks him into the couch, but he’s soon awake and back at it, while now it’s Dan-yi who starts to yawn over their work. As they sit side by side, Dan-yi’s head begins to bob, and then lands on Eun-ho’s shoulder.
Cut to Hae-rin and Seo-joon, who meet to discuss the book cover job. Hae-rin turns on the charm as she tries to persuade him.
And back to Eun-ho, who takes in Dan-yi’s face, first with his eyes, and then he traces the shape of her nose, the curve of her lip. He leans his head in, but a text buzzes in on Dan-yi’s phone, from Seo-joon. A second buzz wakes Dan-yi up, and she reads the texts. Seo-joon is with Hae-rin, and he says he’ll do the book cover if Dan-yi tells him to.
Dan-yi excuses herself for some tea, and texts back that Seo-joon must definitely sign the contract. Seo-joon grins broadly and tells Hae-rin he’s on board. Hae-rin smiles, and says that the forecast for snow must have been a good omen. Seo-joon looks out the windows, surprised that snow is in the forecast.
Dan-yi is contemplative as she makes the tea. I wasn’t asleep, she thinks. (wait, she wasn’t asleep?!) And yes, though she was sleepy, and closed her eyes as she rested on Eun-ho’s shoulder, she was awake the entire time as he brushed away her hair and caressed her face.
The predicted snow starts, and both pairs look out to watch. Eun-ho suggests that they drink their tea in the garden, and Dan-yi joins him there. He calls the snow beautiful, and Dan-yi recalls the evening when they looked up at the moon together, and he said the same thing. She mentions to Eun-ho that he even posted about it on his social media, and included the factoid that Natsume Soseki translated the phrase, “I love you,” as “the moon is beautiful.”
Dan-yi points out that it was she who told Eun-ho that story, while Eun-ho was still in high school. “That’s why I told you that,” Eun-ho says, “and that’s why I told you again, that the snow is beautiful.”
Eun-ho leans over to brush snow from Dan-yi’s hair, and she pulls away awkwardly. He scoffs and asks if Dan-yi finds him attractive all of a sudden. As he leans in again, Dan-yi turns to him and asks directly, “Do you like me?”
I wasn’t asleep. I gasped out loud when I heard that.
It had to happen at some point, but like Dan-yi, I had gotten so accustomed to the comfortable sibling vibes of these two that I wasn’t prepared for her to catch on so suddenly. And I definitely wasn’t prepared for her to immediately address it with Eun-ho, though I’m pretty sure this episode played me on purpose and set me up for this surprise in the best way.
The opening scenes are all about secrets that are known but kept private for others. We learn that Dan-yi knows that Eun-ho is the reason that her ex-husband suddenly coughed up alimony. Eun-ho knows about Hae-rin’s infatuation and the letters she’s been leaving him. So of course I expected Dan-yi to keep her suspicions to herself after that almost-kiss.
That scene was beautiful, but Eun-ho isn’t the only guy who had some good moments this hour. Seo-joon is a man of gestures, both big and small, and he squeezed in a romantic private dinner and a sweet bus date. I can imagine him authoring a website all about great date ideas, and they would be all really earnest, sincere entries.
The problem for him, however, is the lack of chemistry with Dan-yi. All the great planning can’t make these dates feel like anything more than two beautiful people being attractive next to one another. These two are going to be amazing friends, but eventually even Seo-joon is going to have to see past all the romantic coincidences and realize that Dan-yi doesn’t want a Cinderella story. He’ll get there, especially if Dan-yi just keeps talking non-stop about Eun-ho on every date.
But Seo-joon’s going to be okay, because hello, B Couple. Consolation prize couples is not always my favorite trope for second leads, but there is some major chemistry here between Hae-rin and Seo-joon. Seo-joon might still be a little distracted by Dan-yi, but I’ve seen him flash a sheepish grin at Hae-rin too many times to doubt that these two aren’t a potential match. Heck, he’s even got great rapport with Eun-ho. It’s just with Dan-yi that everything falls flat, and I believe that is by design. We are not meant to fall for the second lead, and I’m totally fine with that.
Seo-joon’s murder lair was just about as sinister as I suspected of him–a bunch of books and a fanboy relationship board dedicated to his favorite author. Seo-joon and Eun-ho both seem to have absent fathers and sick/dead mothers, and I’m wondering if this is where the mystery of Author Kang is headed. I can’t tell you how delighted I will be if these two turn out to be illigitmate half-brothers. That is, as long as the show maintains the balance and doesn’t swing too melodramatic.
I am prepared for these two guys to win each other over by the end, no matter how the mystery wraps up. But I’m glad that we’ve kept up the petty bickering and jealousy up to now. I keep waiting for Eun-ho to just run Seo-Joon over with his car and call it a day. If anyone was ever tempted to hire out the truck of doom, it feels like Eun-ho would do it gladly right now.
But we’re at the midpoint, and it feels like we’re at the precipice of a change in power dynamics. Seo-joon may no longer have the advantage, nor will no-longer-oblivious Dan-yi. Jealous and pouty Eun-ho is delightful, but Eun-ho with all the power in this love square? Yes please.
And it just feels like he’s going to drag this one out on all of us. He’s so honest about his feelings when he believes that she won’t believe him; I can only guess that he is so going to deny his feelings when asked directly, because he wants to know not just that she knows how he feels, but that she feels it too. Eun-ho is focused on Dan-yi’s feelings, for better or for worse, even if it means taking care of the stuffed animals other guys give her.
There was plenty to love in the love plot, but I’m so glad that we got a great girls’ night out for the publishing ladies. After some rough patches for Director Ko the last couple weeks, she got the opportunity to show that she’s not a bad colleague, just a very insecure one. But she trusts these ladies well enough to invite them over to her messy sty of a home and show them her wedding portrait, so she’s still open to the possibility of real friendship and trust. And I’m hoping that now that Dan-yi’s showed her true bad girl colors to them, they’ll be even more welcoming to her.
It’s interesting how Director Ko and Dan-yi are two sides of a coin. Director Ko is what Dan-yi might have been if Eun-ho hadn’t dragged her back to the altar. Dan-yi is what Director Ko was afraid of becoming. And in the end, they both end up lonely. And loneliness ties all of these women together, including Yeong-ah.
The dissolution of Yeong-ah’s marriage was so heartbreaking, because it wasn’t about something big, but something small, and that small things was actually foundational. She wanted to feel not alone, like someone had her back, even when life was bad. And Ji-hong was not getting that done. It hurts the best, because there’s no outright cruelty, just casual neglect that destroyed a marriage.
The two currents of this episode don’t necessarily weave together; there’s nothing integral about Dan-yi’s heart-to-heart with the ladies and her changing relationship with Eun-ho. But I really kind of like it that way. There is more to Dan-yi and Eun-ho’s lives than one another. They make new friends, they care for old friends, and then return home and scrape one another off the kitchen floor as needed.
This is the kind of episode that leaves me with that perfect drama hangover. I am Dan-yi, sprawled out on the kitchen floor, just waiting for next week.
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