When The Camellia Blooms: Episodes 13-14
Our heroine is finally starting to stand up for herself and the first ripples of change begin to flow through Ongsan. Happiness seems to be just around the bend for her and her lovestruck neighborhood cop, but as they grow closer, danger lurks right behind them.
EPISODE 13: “The Ongsan Fairy”
Kyu-tae argues against Dong-baek’s charges, unsuccessfully; then turns to Ja-young for back up. She steps forward and lays out Dong-baek’s plan: she’s going to sue her rich, well-connected landlord, who’s married to a successful lawyer?
Despite the tension, Dong-baek stays firm. Ja-young proffers her business card and says the case won’t be easy to bring forward…so if Dong-baek needs free legal advice, come to her. Ja-young walks out, leaving everyone dumbfounded (especially Kyu-tae) at this turn of events.
After the stand-off, Deok-soon walks back to her restaurant with Dong-baek and Yong-shik trailing behind her in silence. Though she tells them to leave, Dong-baek steps inside to have a heart-to-heart.
Dong-baek calls herself a traitor, confessing that finding someone who cared for her and worried about her has changed her world. She asks Deok-soon what she would have done in her place.
Deok-soon says that Yong-shik is no longer a child she can just scold. Likening Yong-shik’s feelings to a fire that burns quickly and fizzles out just as quickly, she urges Dong-baek to just observe him for a while. They can talk again after that, if she still wants to be with him.
Dong-baek asks if she’ll accept their relationship then. Deok-soon pauses and says that as a mother, Dong-baek understands how precious a child is to their mother. Raising someone else’s child is difficult thing, and as a mom, Deok-soon can’t tell Yong-shik to choose that difficult path.
When Dong-baek comes out, Yong-shik says they should get some dumplings together, citing food as the best remedy for when you’re feeling down. Surprisingly, Dong-baek agrees without hesitation.
At the food stall, Dong-baek admits to Yong-shik that she cares about him. But before Yong-shik can get too excited, Dong-baek says she’s not willing to date him officially. She can’t ignore Pil-gu and Deok-soon’s wishes.
Yong-shik likens their love to a fire, but Dong-baek doesn’t want fire, she’s done that before and lost it. She’s a mom with responsibilities, who has to make a living. She can’t just push everything away for love. If Yong-shik wants fire and passion, he should look elsewhere. Yong-shik wilts at that, and starts eating his feelings.
But Dong-baek’s not done. She notes that dumplings don’t need boiling water to cook, steam is enough for them. Using that as a metaphor, she says she wants to go slow and be warm together instead.
Though she’s not ready to date, Dong-baek wants to see where things go, and to be together for a long time.
Yong-shik can hardly believe his ears and asks her if she really means it. Upon her affirmation, his lower lip starts trembling, but he composes himself when Dong-baek says she’ll take everything back if he cries.
As they walk home together Yong-shik bursts with joy at being third in Dong-baek’s life. Third is pretty good though, it places him right after Pil-gu and the Camellia.
She tells him to put his mother first, being a good police officer second, and to place her and their sort-of-relationship third–and check on Yeong-shim’s dog.
Yong-shik is amenable to those terms but he asks that she try “something” with him. Dong-baek’s mind goes straight to a naughty place, and Yong-shik teases her before revealing his big ask: whenever she feels down or upset, come to him instead of suffering alone. He makes her pinky swear to seal their promise.
The next day at the police station, Chief Byun scolds him about the fight. Unbothered, Yong-shik just says that Dong-baek will take care of it. Dumbfounded, but persuaded, Chief Byun remarks that Dong-baek does seem to have changed.
Dong-baek sighs at the “For Lease” notice that’s been taped to the Camellia’s door and just then she gets a call from Ja-young. At Ja-young’s office, she gives Dong-baek the ledger, along with a scanned copy on a USB and another sent via email, for safe measure. She tells Dong-baek to use the Ongsan rumor mill to her advantage and let everyone know about the ledger. Ja-young advises that Dong-baek should stop squirming if someone bothers on and just instead.
Sure enough, news of the ledger’s contents even reach the governor. It has him squirming with fear as he asks his assistants if he should report himself to their political party.
With everyone talking about him, Kyu-tae isn’t having an easy time in Ongsan. The ajumma crew openly laughs at him, telling him that his political career is over. Kyu-tae clumsily tries to defend himself, but they only cackle harder.
Kyu-tae searches behind the counter at the Camellia, but is informed by Hyang-mi that the ledger’s not there. She also has her own request, and says she needs the money for her plane ticket by Friday. Before he can fight with her, Dong-baek’s mom smacks him upside the head. When he asks why she hit him, she drily tells him she has dementia.
As they have tea together, Dong-baek asks why Ja-young is helping her. Ja-young replies that Dong-baek has a way of piquing her interest. She starts to ask Dong-baek what eye cream she uses, but stops herself.
Kyu-tae sees Dong-baek come out of Ja-young’s office and he yells at her to get some patbingsu together. At the cafe, he “graciously” offers to drop the charges against Yong-shik if she drops her charges. Dong-baek barely looks at him as she enjoys her patbingsu and tells him to apologize. He refuses, so she finishes up and stands to go. Just then Kyu-tae grabs the ledger.
Dong-baek gets a steely glint in her eyes as she tells him she has two scanned copies and snatches the ledger out of his grasp. She tosses out, “See you in court.” Kyu-tae finally shouts out an apology in English.
She bites back, “Don’t talk down to me” and he blusters that English doesn’t have informal speech. She turns to walk out, so he apologizes again in a mix of English and very formal Korean. She tells him that the old Dong-baek is dead, and if he messes with her again, she won’t hesitate to shoot.
Mindful of Ja-young’s advice to make sure the rumors about the ledger spread, Dong-baek walks home slowly with her ledger conspicuously hidden behind her back. The neighborhood ajummas actually just watch her and smile as she passes, saying it serves those good-for-nothing men right.
While Dong-baek’s been taking care of Kyu-tae, Yong-shik’s been trying to work on the Joker case. Unfortunately, proper help from the other departments is in short supply, so Yong-shik decides to conduct the investigation himself.
Chief Byun laughs at his confidence but Yong-shik says he has an advantage that others don’t–he’s a native son of Ongsan.
The people of Ongsan are wary of outsiders, but they’re like one big family with each other. Where other investigators have failed, Yong-shik’s convinced people will give up information to him.
He joins the ajummas during a snack session and subtly questions them about who they think the Joker is. They throw around a few names, but they all turn out to have alibis (one was even a victim of the Joker) and Yong-shik gets fed up at the lack of substance in the conversation.
Just as he’s leaving, they bring up Kyu-tae’s name. He’s the one person who managed to make money off the Joker. He bought the building the last victim was murdered in and made a huge profit when the train terminal was built behind it a year later.
In Seoul, Jessica and Jong-ryeol start to bicker over Jessica’s lack of employment; the fight only escalates when she drops that she’ll be going to Milan for two years to study modeling–alone. He asks incredulously how she could abandon her child, but she says with their baby’s loving father, grandma, and nannies around it will be fine.
In his car, he refuses to pay for it, only relenting when Jessica threatens divorce. He says he’ll pay for her to go where ever she wants, as long as she goes after their baby’s a little older. That doesn’t cut it for Jessica though, and she tells him not to use the baby to hold her down.
The fight culminates with her demanding he stop the car. He pulls over and she storms out. He peels off, and even though he says to himself, “I shouldn’t be doing this,” he finds himself on the road to Ongsan again.
Dong-baek’s at the school to have a parent-teacher meeting about Pil-gu’s dismal grades. Dong-baek’s less concerned about his grades and more concerned about how he gets along with his classmates, and if he gets bullied for having a single mom who runs a bar. The teacher tells her that when Pil-gu gets into fights he’s definitely not the side that gets beaten up.
Seung-yeob and Jong-ryeol come across Pil-gu kicking a wall in anger because Dong-baek was called to the school. He tells them she’s a busy working mom, so the school shouldn’t have called her. Jong-ryeol sighs to see that Pil-gu has his temper.
Jong-ryeol sees a drawing Pil-gu made where he wrote down his wish to build a huge bar for Dong-baek after becoming a major leaguer. He sighs again to see how mature Pil-gu is and he says it makes him like Pil-gu even more.
The Ongsan police officers are also at the school, and as they put up a giant banner, Yong-shik shares his suspicions about Kyu-tae being the Joker.
Chief Byun dismisses it out of hand. Kyu-tae’s not just a coward, he’s so stupid that he would have left evidence all over the place. As for the building, anyone would have bought it if they’d had the money.
Yong-shik finally admits that he has no idea who the Joker could be. Chief Byun tells him to just go and check on Yeong-shim’s dog. While leaving, Yong-shik notices Pil-gu looking dispirited at baseball practice.
Jong-ryeol halfheartedly gives baseball lessons to the school’s team but gets serious when it is Pil-gu’s turn. He’s way too harsh with his criticisms however and Pil-gu throws his equipment to the ground at all the nagging.
When Pil-gu notices his mom, he runs after her shouting, but Dong-baek pretends she can’t hear him and tries to run away. He still manages to catch up with her, followed by his teammates (lol, she looks like a reluctant Pied Piper).
Self-conscious, Dong-baek tries to leave, but he brags about her to his friends, calling her a CEO and even prettier than Twice. Dong-baek grows happy to see how proud he is of her and buys everyone ice cream.
Dong-baek and Jong-ryeol sit on a bench as the children relax and eat their ice cream. Yong-shik happens upon them, carrying two big bags of popsicles for everyone too. He quietly turns away and leaves without anyone noticing him.
Dong-baek tells Jong-ryeol not to come to Ongsan anymore, and says she has a favor to ask. He gets all puffed up about how much he earns, assuming she wants financial help, but she asks him to quit The Return of Superman. She doesn’t want his loving father image on the show to hurt Pil-gu if he ever learns about their connection.
Jong-ryeol laments about her appearing now, instead of when he had been looking for her. He makes it about himself, asking her how he can bear watching her and Pil-gu like this. Dong-baek smiles and says he hasn’t changed–he’s still a jerk.
Doing some day-drinking at the Camellia, Jong-ryeol blames Dong-baek’s bad taste in men for her ruined life. Dong-baek retorts that her life isn’t his. She dated him because she liked him, she gave birth to Pil-gu because she wanted to. Everything was her choice and she’s the one responsible for the good and the bad that’s happened in her life.
Jong-ryeol is awed by her confidence, saying that she looks cool. Dong-baek informs him that she’s always been cool. She has a great body, an amazing son, and is the CEO of a business.
He guesses that she’s dating Yong-shik, “Does that hillbilly make you cool?” Yong-shik pops in just then and a smile lights up Dong-baek’s face at his entrance. He’s brought along Heung-shik to setup a CCTV camera inside the bar.
As they talk, Hyang-mi sneaks a shot of Yong-shik, Dong-baek, and Jong-ryeol. She gleefully tells Dong-baek’s mom she’s happy she got a job at the Camellia. Dong-baek’s mom says darkly, “Don’t joke around. You’ll end up dead meat.”
Dong-baek tells Heung-shik to have some food before he goes and bashfully thanks Yong-shik for being so considerate and getting a CCTV set up. She’d been feeling uneasy about leaving Pil-gu alone at the Camellia.
Jong-ryeol can’t take it anymore and butts in, confrontationally saying that he’s also thankful to Yong-shik. Instead of fighting, Yong-shik invites him out for noodles.
They go to a pojangmacha, where Jong-ryeol demands clarification on Yong-shik’s feelings for Dong-baek. Yong-shik challenges his authority to ask anything, but Jong-ryeol thinks he deserves to know. Yong-shik asks if it’s because he’s Pil-gu’s biological father.
Jong-ryeol just asks him if he thinks dating a pitiful woman will make him cool. Yong-shik calls him foolish for not seeing how amazing Dong-baek is. Jong-ryeol may have abandoned her so he could have everything, but he’s ready to give his all for Dong-baek.
Jong-ryeol says he wants to fix his mistakes, especially after seeing the way she’s been living. Yong-shik angrily asks him what’s so wrong about the way she’s living. He informs him that Jong-ryeol’s already lost his opportunity with Dong-baek, and that Pil-gu isn’t his son.
As Yong-shik walks away, Jong-ryeol grabs him by the shoulder, saying he has no say in his relationship with Pil-gu. Yong-shik calls himself a simple man in comparison to big-shot sports star Jong-ryeol. A simple man who is ready to foolishly give his all for Dong-baek.
He warns Jong-ryeol not to come to Ongsan anymore and walks away. Jong-ryeol watches him go and says it’s like looking at himself at 25.
Yong-shik and Dong-baek go to the market together early next morning (aw, he brought her a rose). She asks about his conversation with Jong-ryeol but he says they didn’t talk about much. Dong-baek wonders why she can’t manage to keep her secrets secret. Yong-shik always seems to learn everything about her
Yong-shik says that the past has no power, but Dong-baek thinks that even if he says so now, all men are the same and do care about the past. Yong-shik gets serious and says that Jong-ryeol isn’t the only man in the world. A little angry, he says that he got up at 5 a.m. just to see her because he missed her so much. If she thinks he’s no different, why is she even seeing him?
He says if they were to date, it’d be out of this world and she’d practically die of happiness everyday. So stop comparing him with some lousy man when she doesn’t know anything about him. He walks away, irritated.
Dong-baek runs after him and grabs his shirt sleeve, agreeing that he is different. Yong-shik cuts her off when she starts to thank him, telling her to stop thanking him all the time. But when Dong-baek softly says he makes her heart flutter, he smiles and has to hide how easily she’s managed to make him melt.
On the bus back home, Yong-shik says he finds women difficult, especially Dong-baek, since he likes her so much. When she becomes sad and seems to shrink into herself, he’s never sure what to do. The only thing he can think of doing is buying her sweet snacks.
He asks her if he’s too chatty but Dong-baek likes him that way, because he’s an easy guy. Yong-shik takes offense, saying that he’s difficult, but Dong-baek tells him that her life is already filled with hardships. She wants him to be the one easy thing in her life, and he’s more than happy to oblige.
Nearing the Camellia, Yong-shik tells Dong-baek that, unlike Aladdin’s Genie who only grants three wishes to a person, he’ll fulfill as many of her wishes as she wants and be the easiest guy in the world for her. Dong-baek jokes that Genie is a fairy and calls Yong-shik the Ongsan fairy (Yong-shik’s knees practically buckle at that).
Once inside, something makes Yong-shik freeze. Dong-baek gets closer; he swings her around and holds her close. It looks romantic at first glance but Yong-shik’s not looking at Dong-baek, he’s staring at the back wall.
On the wall is a message spray-painted in red, “I told you not to joke around. I have been watching you every day ever since that day.”
The last scene sent chills down my spine. The unexpectedness of it, right when we were floating on a cloud of bliss and had forgetten about the Joker for a moment, really drove home how real the threat is. I am glad that Dong-baek had Yong-shik with her to help cushion the initial shock, but she’s not going to be unaffected and I’m now starting to really get scared for her and Pil-gu.
On another note, I cheered out loud when Ja-young took Dong-baek’s side. I hadn’t expected the show to clear up her misunderstanding about Dong-baek this early on in the story. I had always been a bit unsure about where her character exactly falls. Is she a badass woman, or just a mean person? But I am so happy that she turned out to be the former. I hope that this doesn’t mean Ja-young’s screen time is going to get cut down because I want more of her. Her genuine smile when she was with Dong-baek was everything and I want to see them become friends. Oh and of course, I have to see her properly screw Kyu-tae over before divorcing him.
This episode made me think more about the ajummas who ostracize Dong-baek. The neighborhood ajummas are all breadwinners and can’t really rely on their husbands, yet have to deal with living in a society that still measures women by the men in their lives. At first it looked like the show might be saying that the women were all just jealous of Dong-baek, which is why they hated her. After all, Dong-baek’s young, beautiful, and unattached to anybody that she would need to answer to. I still think there’s a bit of jealousy there, but this episode showed us there’s another dimension to the hostility–Dong-baek’s an outsider. She’s not just any outsider, she’s the CEO of a bar that’s been a refuge to all the neighborhood’s men, which means those men have been spending their wives’ and mothers’ hard-earned money there. It’s no wonder they were hostile and it’s also no wonder that they started to look at her approvingly when Dong-baek began to take a stand against the actions of no-good men. I loved seeing that, and I hope that they only become more and more accepting of Dong-baek, because we know that once you become their family, they will protect you fiercely.
Jong-ryeol is getting on my last nerve with his self-entitlement and constant pity show. It angers me how he calls himself Pil-gu’s father when he it’s not like he’s willing to tell the world about Pil-gu. Also, regardless of the state of his marriage, what he’s doing by pining over Dong-baek is not cool. But speaking of his marriage, how did the marriage turn sour? It doesn’t seem like they’ve been married long but they already live separately. Did Jessica sense that Jong-ryeol had never moved on from a past love? Or did she marry Jong-ryeol for his fame? Maybe they did love each other at one point, but being married (versus just dating) took the shine off their relationship for the both of them.
As for our main couple, one of the things that tickles me about their dynamic is that while other dramas have their male protagonists sweeping the women off their feet, here it’s Dong-baek who constantly makes Yong-shik swoon. Absolutely adorable.
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