Romance is a Bonus Book: Episode 12
Our heroine gets to bask in the good feelings that come with a successful event, and she has our hero by her side from start to end. Everything is going so well for Dan-yi, in her personal and professional life, so of course that means a new challenge must arise. Dan-yi has worked hard to succeed at her job, but the lie that started it all is finally starting to make its way back to bite her.
Jae-min and Ji-hong finish up their meeting with a pack of journalists to promote the release of Author Yoo’s new book. They keep up appearances until the pack departs, and then both complain about how many free books they have to give away only to write the journalists’ articles for them anyway. They turn to their phones and that’s when Ji-hong sees the news that Yeong-ah was in an accident.
Yeong-ah is with their son at the hospital, and the doctor tells her that he suspects meningitis and will need to do a spinal tap (ouch).
Meanwhile, the book concert for Author Yoo goes well with Dan-yi at the helm. But while the reading is a great success, members of the audience are starting to realize some truths about Dan-yi. Hae-rin watches Eun-ho watch Dan-yi, his eyes glued on her with admiration. A few rows down, Director Ko now knows that Dan-yi falsified her credentials on her resume. And a few rows up, Seo-joon is trying to concentrate on Dan-yi, but the man next to him (Hae-rin’s dad) keeps falling asleep, ha.
After the concert, Director Ko leaves with her colleague without saying a word to anyone. Seo-joon lingers and Hae-rin catches up with him. Seo-joon is surprised to see the couple he was seated next to are Hae-rin’s parents, and they’re quick to fawn over him and offer him free dumplings at their store. As soon as they see Eun-ho though, they dart off. Seo-joon comments that they must be fond of him, but Hae-rin mumbles that they might not be so much anymore.
But when her parents greet Eun-ho, it’s nothing but niceties. He offers to get them a cab, and they follow him out to the curb. When Eun-ho’s back is turned, Hae-rin’s mom finally gets the courage and whacks him in the head with her bag, ha! Eun-ho pivots back to see what hit him, and she apologizes that the bag is possessed. As the taxi arrives, Hae-rin’s dad takes his turn and trips Eun-ho. But when Eun-ho rears up to ask why he did it, Dad is unwilling to admit anything.
It seems that these little revenges are enough though, because Hae-rin’s parents stop their attacks and instead apologize that Hae-rin is too uptight and admit they can’t force him to like their daughter. Mom tells him to keep coming around for kimchi, and her face breaks into a wail as they drive away, knowing that she’s lost her potential son-in-law, haha.
Dan-yi sits with Author Yoo after the reading. The author is grateful for Dan-yi’s support, and Dan-yi offers Author Yoo the silk scarf she picked out as the company’s gift. Eun-ho pops in then to drive Author Yoo home, but he flashes a big smile and a wink as he tells Dan-yi that he’ll see her at home. Dan-yi answers a call from Ji-hong who is looking for information about Yeong-ah.
In the lobby, Ji-yul and Hoon celebrate the success of the event, and Hoon is surprised to hear Ji-yul talk as though she’s really interested in the event. It seems that Ji-yul has already read two books from Eun-ho’s recommended reading list, and the two of them do a little victory dance. Their joy is interrupted by Ji-yul’s mother, however, who shows up with a new blind date candidate for Ji-yul. Hoon puts on a serious face and intercepts the proffered hand of the blind date. Ji-yul threatens to move in with Hoon if her mother keeps pressuring her to date, and that sends her mom into a fury. Mom jumps to smack Hoon with her purse, and Ji-yul and Hoon flee.
Seo-joon finds Dan-yi and Hae-rin in the crowd and offers to treat them both to a drink for a successful event. But Hae-rin has things to talk about privately with him, so Dan-yi quietly bows out. Before they can leave though, Ji-yul returns to tell Hae-rin how much she admires her as a mentor. Hae-rin tries to keep her usual tough demeanor, but a smile starts to hint at the corner of her mouth as Ji-yul raises her arms above her head in a heart, and Seo-joon can’t keep his chuckle hidden. As Ji-yul skips away, Seo-joon teases Hae-rin.
During the bus ride home, Dan-yi receives encouraging texts from Hoon and Ji-yul, and her good mood soars even higher. But meanwhile, Director Ko continues to discuss the truth about Dan-yi with her colleague at another company. Director Ko asks her friend to send Dan-yi’s resume to her to confirm, and when she asks her friend what she would do in the circumstances, the answer is to fire her. Her friend says that she would find it uncomfortable having someone so over-qualified working on such menial tasks.
Eun-ho is surprised to see that he’s beaten Dan-yi home and gives her a call. Dan-yi is just getting off the bus, and Eun-ho starts walking towards the park in their neighborhood to catch up with her. They remain on the phone together, and Eun-ho asks about Dan-yi’s good mood. He arrives in the park but hangs back and watches as Dan-yi giggles and smiles about how great she feels to work hard and enjoy her job.
Dan-yi says that she’s proud of herself, and she’s also grateful to have Eun-ho by her side and that he held her hand. Eun-ho finally hangs up the phone and rushes over to pick up Dan-yi and swing her in celebratory circles. The two yell into the sky, praising one another and smiling.
And at the bar, Hae-rin chugs down her beer as Seo-joon watches agape. Hae-rin holds up a pollack in one hand, and labels it a man, and a cuttlefish in the other and labels it a girl. She lays out her evidence: the cuttlefish bought a shirt, and then later the pollack was wearing that shirt (Hae-rin ties a napkin on the pollack). She asks what it means, and Seo-joon replies that it means that the girl bought the shirt for the guy. Hae-rin nods that of course, it doesn’t mean that they like one another, just like falling asleep on a guy’s shoulder one time doesn’t mean it’s love either (oh boy, these dense kids…)
But Hae-rin has further evidence, like the fact that the pollack couldn’t keep his eyes off the cuttlefish. Seo-joon asks what the cuttlefish thinks of it, and Hae-rin says that she’s not sure, but she thinks the cuttlefish has feelings for the pollack too. Hae-rin grabs for Seo-joon’s beer when she finds her own glass empty, and then bites off the head of the pollack and declares that she wants to kill the guy. Seo-joon asks meekly, “You want to kill them?” Hae-rin nods and Seo-joon laughs.
While those cuties brood and flirt, another set of cuties are out enjoying time together as Eun-ho and Dan-yi grab some street food together. Eun-ho grabs hold of Dan-yi’s hand, and they refuse to let go even as they struggle to pull money from Eun-ho’s wallet.
Ji-hong is not having such a good night, as he arrives at the hospital. He finds his son awake in his hospital bed, while Yeong-ah rests with her head down at his feet. Ji-hong and Yeong-ah move to the waiting room to talk, and Ji-hong suggests that they get back together for their son’s sake. Yeong-ah says that they didn’t break up suddenly though. She says that their relationship wore down over time, and that she’s moved on. She tells Ji-hong that she’s seeing someone, and his eyes bug out at the news.
Later that night, Eun-ho wakes to a call from Seo-joon. Eun-ho finds him at a restaurant, Hae-rin passed out on the table. This is their second bar stop, and Hae-rin concluded the night by trying to make cucumber soju, which she is allergic to. Seo-joon’s concern starts to rise to panic, but Eun-ho doesn’t act like it’s life threatening and tells Seo-joon to carry Hae-rin. But Seo-joon says Eun-ho should do the carrying, since he barely knows Hae-rin.
With Hae-rin on Eun-ho’s back, they wobble back to Seo-joon’s apartment. Eun-ho’s so desperate to put Hae-rin down, he doesn’t even note the conspicuous 0423 passcode to Seo-joon’s apartment. After Eun-ho tucks Hae-rin into Seo-joon’s bed, he raids the closet for Seo-joon’s other bedding. Eun-ho declares that he can’t let Hae-rin spend the night alone with Seo-joon, so he’ll be sleeping over as well and starts to set up the bedding on the floor. Seo-joon says that there’s a spare bed, but he’s only got the one extra set of bedding, so Eun-ho pats the spot next to him on the floor.
Dan-yi wakes up the next morning, surprised to see Eun-ho gone. Back at Seo-joon’s apartment, the two men are intertwined on the floor, Eun-ho cuddled into Seo-joon’s arms. Eun-ho mumbles Dan-yi’s name as he folds his hand into Seo-joon’s, and then the two wake up and scramble away from one another. They don’t even have time to react to one another though, because Hae-rin stumbles out of the bedroom, her face covered in welts and her body still kind of tipsy. She smiles as she kneels down, until the smile turns downward and she starts to gag. Seo-joon just barely manages to rush her to the bathroom to throw up.
At the office, a gaggle of employees spots a sign near the elevator announcing an idea contest for all employees with a cash prize. Some wonder if it’s all staged and winner already chosen, but the rules of the contest ensure that all submissions are anonymous. Dan-yi of course takes a photo of the poster and Ji-yul cheers her on.
Dan-yi and Yeong-ah notice the spots that still cover Hae-min’s face. Ji-hong admonishes her for not being more careful when she knows that she’s allergic to cucumbers, and she retorts that she did it on purpose because she wanted to die. But then they point out that her allergy isn’t actually bad enough for that.
Time for an executive meeting, and Ji-hong is back at it trying to get a book of poetry published. Jae-min immediately shoots it down, but Eun-ho admits that he likes what he sees as he starts to read. Ji-hong suggests that they decide the way they used to when the company first formed, and Dan-yi arrives with the lock box Ji-hong requested. They have two weeks to vote, either yes or no, and the proposal needs four out of five votes to pass.
As they all leave the meeting, Director Ko hangs back and asks Eun-ho to meet with her. In her office, she hands over Dan-yi’s resume, the sparse one submitted to Gyeoroo. Eun-ho’s confused, but she tells him to keep reading, and Eun-ho finds an article about Dan-yi winning a contest for her former marketing employer underneath the resume.
Director Ko says they made a mistake in hiring Dan-yi, while Eun-ho protests that they’re lucky to have someone of her calibre, even in a contract position. Eun-ho says that other companies shunned her because they thought she had lost her touch after her break, but that her work at Gyeoroo obviously shows that’s not the case.
Director Ko counters that she’s alarmed by Dan-yi’s ulterior motives, like getting involved in the marketing department. Eun-ho says that they allow their employees to apply for different teams every year, but the director reminds him that policy is for full employees only, not contract ones like Dan-yi. The only way for Dan-yi to change from the support task team is for her to apply for a regular position first. And in light of the recent revelations, Director Ko tells Eun-ho to terminate Dan-yi’s contract.
Eun-ho returns to his desk, his eyes on Dan-yi. But soon a barrage of tasks come in: the fridge needs restocking, there’s a chair in the meeting room with a broken wheel, and books that need to be packed up. But when Dan-yi goes to the fridge, it’s already been stocked by Eun-ho, and she finds him on the floor fixing the wheel of the chair in the meeting room. She admonishes him that people at work will suspect their relationship if he keeps helping, but he just keeps on lifting the book boxes for her.
Jae-min spots Director Ko’s missing button under his desk and stops by her office to return it to her. She’s not in, but she returns just as he’s about to leave and takes the button back. He asks if she’d like to go to lunch with him and Eun-ho, but she declines.
Eun-ho spends his lunch with Jae-min trying to figure out a loophole for someone like Dan-yi to take on a non-contract, regular position. But Jae-min confirms all the rules that Director Ko laid out, and he doesn’t seem keen to make exceptions to their policies either, though he’s not aware that it’s Dan-yi that Eun-ho is so concerned about.
On his way home, Eun-ho reaches out to a friend at a headhunting firm. His friend is eager to represent Eun-ho, but Eun-ho explains that it’s not for himself. As he hangs up, Eun-ho spots Dan-yi reading and walking and stops to pick her up. He teases her about reading while walking, and reminds her of the time that she fell down the stairs doing it in high school, but he was there to save her. She reminds him that she wins in the game of who saved whom, since she broke her entire body risking her life for him. Eun-ho nods that he hasn’t really helped her at all.
Dan-yi keeps reading the poetry manuscript that Ji-hong wants to publish, until Eun-ho teasingly grabs her chin and suggests that she look at his handsome face instead, ha.
Once home, Eun-ho realizes they’re out of rice, and it’s the perfect moment to suggest a dinner date. Eun-ho is careful to make it sound casual, and Dan-yi hides her expression behind a piece of fruit as she agrees. The two dart off to their rooms to get changed, but neither can pick the perfect outfit–something not too casual, but not something that’s too try-hard either.
Once they decide on outfits, neither wants to be the first waiting for the other, so they dart in and out of their rooms until eventually they see each other lurking around the corner. Awww.
Dan-yi notes that Eun-ho is wearing the shirt she bought for him, and he asks if she was embarrassed she bought it for him because of her feelings. Once in the car, Eun-ho tells Dan-yi that he was originally going to wait for Dan-yi to figure out her feelings for him on her own, but he realizes that she’s too dense for it, so he says it out loud for her. “You like me,” he tells her, and leans in close. Dan-yi closes her own eyes, her lips puckered for the kiss, but Eun-ho smiles and just reaches across to fasten her seat belt.
At dinner, the two easily tease one another, and Eun-ho points out that Dan-yi is wearing the necklace she got for him. After dinner, Eun-ho suggests a movie. As they watch, Eun-ho moves the popcorn over and lifts up the armrest between them so that they can hold hands. As the two cuddle closer, the real movie disappears from the screen and instead, words of narration appear: “One late night, a woman and a man went to the movies after dinner.”
Dan-yi begins to trace messages to Eun-ho on his hand, and the on-screen narration interprets that she told him that she likes holding his hand. He kisses the back of it, and she writes that she likes that even more. Eun-ho writes back that he’ll look for more things she might like, and after a brief hesitation, Dan-yi writes that she also liked their kiss.
Eun-ho writes, “What would be a good title for this?” and they decide that “First Date” is a good title for the vignette that they’ve written together.
The two bring some groceries back to the house and as they’re unpacking them, Dan-yi brings up the interesting fact that Seo-joon’s birthday is April 23, the same date as Author Kang’s last book. Now the significance of Seo-joon’s door passcode strikes Eun-ho.
Over at Seo-joon’s, he arrives home with Geum-bi and then enters that same password, 0423, to enter his locked room of Author Kang evidence.
Back to Eun-ho, who has unearthed the boxes he has with the original written manuscripts by Author Kang. He finds the manuscript for April 23, which was originally titled “Blue Night,” until that was crossed out and replaced by “April 23.” Eun-ho’s first meeting with Seo-joon flashes in his mind, and his words, “Did you lock him up?”
Here we go, back to the sweet moments between lovers and amongst friends. After a brief mid-show stall, I think we’re back on track to deliver the sweet happy ending I’ve been rooting for, and to show all the best small moments of love along the way.
I love the way that the concepts of books and people are blended together subtly from the very first episode. From the little credits epilogues that accompany every episode to Eun-ho and Dan-yi’s dialog forming a piece of their own live’s flash fiction, the show does a lovely job of showing appreciation for the publishing industry and the characters it has centered in that industry. For our characters, their jobs reflect in their lives. They love what they do to contribute to stories, that they can’t help but see their own lives as parts of a book, moments that can be dog-eared for later and dates that can be recorded.
And now that our main romance is official and no major feelings have been hurt for the second leads, I’m happy to see a blossoming bromance between Eun-ho and Seo-joon. Seo-joon is just too affable to actually not like Eun-ho, and when Seo-joon isn’t a challenge to Eun-ho’s love for Dan-yi, you can tell that he really likes the guy. We’ve just got to get Hae-min’s parents aboard the Hae-min+Seo-joon love train, and our couples will be all set.
On the other side of things, I’m glad they’re holding Yeong-ah strong against getting back together with Ji-hong. I love them both, but Yeong-ah is right to point out that it wasn’t just some big misunderstanding that suddenly caused this divorce. Time eroded their relationship until what she needed was no longer there, and a family emergency is definitely not reason enough to go back to the status quo. Not all couples need to end up together for this show to have happy endings for all of them.
The one relationship I’m not so certain about is Director Ko and Jae-min. There have been these microscopically small moments between the two of them, where I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps Director Ko has feelings for Jae-min. The way she lingered at the orphanage when Jae-min wanted to stay behind, and the way the camera felt the need to zoom in on these two’s fingers as she plucked the button from Jae-min’s hand. Is there something more here than a surface collegial friendship?
I agreed with Director Ko in earlier episodes when it came to following the rules, but this time around it feels less convincing to me. Director Ko’s motives have always been about her feeling intimidated and territorial around Dan-yi, and this reveal helps validate her misplaced suspicions. She can now take all of those feelings and explain them all away, that she was right in not trusting Dan-yi, and make someone else fire this person who makes her feel uncomfortable in the one space where she feels like she has total control.
The easy answer seems to be to just tell Jae-min the truth and let him override the policies in place. Jae-min may love his money, but he also loves his employees, and he’s seen first-hand Dan-yi’s incredible efforts. But the more dramatically interesting solution lies in the upcoming employee idea competition, so I imagine we’ll avoid the easy route for that one instead. And I do understand why Eun-ho may be saving an honest appeal to Jae-min as a last-ditch effort. He wants to find a good loophole that solves everything without having to confess all of the secrets and small lies that have been made to protect Dan-yi above all else.
Dan-yi was just hoping for a job, and instead found a calling. Even though she’s doing just “menial” tasks, she has stumbled into a workplace where she feels like she’s contributing to good in the world. Eun-ho’s headhunting idea is well-meaning and logical, but it would feel so crushing for all of us. I’m so invested in the way that books have shaped Dan-yi’s life, and I am prepared to cry if she is dismissed. I might have shed a small tear just thinking about it now.
With just a couple more weeks to go, two secrets remain to be resolved: the truth about Dan-yi’s work experience and the truth about Author Kang and all those somehow involved with him. The pacing seems about right, and I’m confident that this isn’t going to drag out or distract too much from the finale and happy ending. We’ve got just enough time for a little heartache, some emotional reveals, and a satisfying end.
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