Chocolate: Episode 2
Our plucky chef unwittingly finds herself in a romantic triangle with a twist, the first love that she thought was dead and his best friend. Desperate to escape her impossible situation, she makes a drastic move expecting that she’ll never see her first love again. Over time, circumstances take a tragic turn and our dashing neurosurgeon is asked by his friend to find the chef for a special favor.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
As she enjoys a chocolate cake that she just made, Cha-young narrates that since that day she has chocolate whenever she’s distressed. During a montage of Cha-young’s embarrassing encounters with Kang while a patient at his hospital, she asks, “Have I told you about meeting my first love again…He got the wrong idea though. For me, it wasn’t love yet.”
Although she was smitten as a kid, Cha-young forgot the name Lee Kang until the day that he caught her eating his unattended meal. Cha-young can’t wait to forget Kang again but she practically runs into him on the day that she’s discharged.
Cha-young hides just around the corner from an angry Joon as he confronts Kang, calling him an, “…evil bastard.” Cha-young wonders how the boy who kindly wiped away her tears could change that much.
The question still gnaws at Cha-young as she sits in a traffic jam on a rainy day with her manager. Cha-young wants to help the old man whose load of cardboard litters the street, but her manager stops her.
Cha-young recognizes Kang when he exits his car to hand his umbrella to the old man. While Kang picks up the wet cardboard, Cha-young pulls up her hood and gets out, telling us, “He was definitely that boy, my first love.” As she helps clear the road, Cha-young adds, “And he had become exactly the man that I used to imagine.”
While picking up the cardboard, Cha-young resolves to be honest about her feelings. That desire leads her back to the hospital with made up symptoms, only to learn that Kang left for Libya just days earlier.
Six months later, Kang is thrown by the blast from the land mine as Cha-young tells us that he was badly injured. After hearing about Kang’s accident, Cha-young sits on the bench outside the hospital where their paths crossed again.
Cha-young imagines Kang sitting down next to her and confesses that she wants to know if he remembers her. Cha-young urges the image, “So please, come back alive and tell me all about you,” but when Kang fades away, tears fall from her eyes.
Joon bursts into his father’s office, demanding to know who decided to take Kang off of life support. His dad explains that Joon’s grandmother made that call after being told that Kang can’t survive his injuries. Calling his father’s plot to send Kang to Libya cowardly, Joon warns, “You were no match for Kang’s father, but I’m different. I’m not incompetent like you, Dad.”
Joon storms out of his father’s office and finds Min-sung waiting to beg Seung-hoon to save Kang. As Joon-can walks away, Min-sung demands to know, “What did he do so wrong? Were you that anxious that this hospital would become his down the road?” When Min-sung blames Kang’s misfortune on Joon’s family, Joon grabs him.
Min-sung doesn’t back down, reminding Joon of the shameful way that his family handled the death of Kang’s mother. Joon admits, “Because…Kang’s mother was an embarrassing flaw that my family wanted to hide.”
Min-sung argues that Kang’s mother should at least have been given a niche in a columbarium for her son to visit. Joon cruelly answers, “I guess we knew this would happen. That Kang wouldn’t be able to visit her.” Joon strides away angrily as Min-sung sinks to the floor and sobs.
Cha-young is still sitting on Kang’s bench when Min-sung sits down on the one next to her. When she sees that Min-sung is crying, Cha-young dumps the contents of her bag to find a pack of tissues and leaves them for him as she leaves. In the Libyan hospital the badly injured Kang, still on a ventilator, moves a finger.
At the restaurant, Cha-young’s manager informs her that her brother is there to see her. Cha-young finds Tae-hyun with a guest, an eligible bachelor whose family is well established in the restaurant business. When Cha-young turns to leave, the man acknowledges how hard it is to do all the cooking while running a restaurant.
Tae-hyun proceeds to tell one lie after another to make Cha-young more appealing to her potential suitor until she hits him on the back of the head. She warns the friend, Seo Kang-ho, not to lend her brother any money. Cha-young confesses that she’s a salaried chef struggling to make the interest payments on Tae-hyun’s loans.
Seated nearby, Min-sung watches admiringly as Cha-young returns to the kitchen. Later, he finds Cha-young outside and returns the wallet that she unknowingly left behind at the hospital. With no money for a reward, Cha-young asks Min-sung for his account number so she can send him something.
Min-sung insists that his reward was the happy news that he received about a friend the minute he arrived at the restaurant, appropriately named Primo Miracolo (First Miracle). After Min-sung leaves, Cha-young closes her eyes and prays, “Please gift him with the first miracle as well.”
Joon flies to Libya and sees the war torn conditions on the drive to the hospital. In Kang’s room, Joon sits by his bed and holds his cousin’s hand.
At the restaurant, Cha-young is surprised when she’s asked to meet with a customer and is greeted by Min-seong. When he returns another night, Cha-young burns a dish while thinking about the latest update that she heard at the hospital, “Dr. Lee Kang’s family is in Libya now…to collect his body.”
When the manager discovers that Cha-young is burning up with fever, she sends her home. Too sick to flag down a taxi, Cha-young slumps agains Min-sung when he pulls up and jumps out of his car to help her.
At the hospital, Min-sung tends to Cha-young as she sleeps. When she finally wakes up hours later, Cha-young is surprised to see Min-sung asleep in his chair.
In Libya, Kang flatlines and as his doctor starts CPR, he finds himself in his mother’s empty restaurant. When his mother asks if he wants to rest next to her, Kang flashes back to the collapse of the department store. While his mother was alive under the rubble, the young Kang interrupted dinner to beg his grandmother, “Please save my mom’s life.”
Kang’s family continued to eat as if he wasn’t there and Kang admits to his mother, “They didn’t have your funeral…they didn’t even build a grave I can go to.” Kang’s mom guesses that they were ashamed of her and reminds Kang that she was never treated like family.
Tears fall from Kang’s eyes as he confesses, “Ms. Jung Su-hui. You know how much I love you, how much I missed you, and how much I wanted to stay by your side, right?” Kang’s mother takes his hand as the doctor in Libya discontinues the CPR.
As we return to the flashback, we see that Kang’s grandmother ignored her sobbing grandson to instruct Seung-hoon, “Even if something about Su-hui comes up, don’t bother to prepare a funeral. If it becomes public, it will just be something people would gossip about.”
In his vision, Kang explains to his mother, “…now’s not the time. I have something to do.” When Kang lets go of his mother’s hand, his heart starts to beat again to the amazement of his doctor.
Christmas, 2013. Cha-young is in a cafe when she gets a text from Min-sung, who is standing in front of the cafe’s window. When Cha-young looks outside, Min-sung uses his tablet to wish her a Merry Christmas.
Min-sung’s next message is a reminder that it’s the 100th day since Cha-young rejected him and he slides to another message that pleads, “Please accept my love.” When Cha-young doesn’t reply, Min-sung’s next message is meant to appeal to her sympathy, “It’s Christmas.”
When Cha-young texts that she’s lacking in many ways, Min-sung explains that love is two people supplementing each others weaknesses. Cha-young can’t help but smile when Min-sung zooms in on his message, “It’s Christmas.”
Min-sung tries to text Cha-young again but she runs outside to stop him. Cha-young slips mittens onto Min-sung’s frozen hands and informs him that the only thing she’s good at is cooking.
Min-sung hugs Cha-young, assuring her that cooking is enough for him. He mentions that a strange guy is staring at them and guesses that he must be jealous. Min-sung hugs Cha-young tighter when she tries to turn around, teasing that the stranger may try to steal her away from him.
When Min-sung releases Cha-young to greet the man, her eyes widen in shock at the sight of Kang and he asks, “Have we ever met before?” Min-sung accuses Kang of using a lame pick up line and reminds his friend that Cha-young now has a boyfriend.
Kang hands Cha-young a poinsettia and wishes her, “Merry Christmas. Please take good care of Min-sung.” Cha-young fights back tears while Min-sung apologizes for his joke, explaining that his best friend came back from the brink of death.
Kang sees that it’s snowing and confesses, “I’m glad I didn’t die. I get to see snow falling.” Happy, Min-sung throws his arms around his best friend and Cha-young, oblivious to the misery in her eyes. While watching the men throw snowballs at each other, Cha-young’s eyes follow the very much alive Kang as tears roll down her face.
Some time later, Cha-young enters a movie theater just as Min-sung texts that he can’t make the movie after all. He promises to join Cha-young after she sees the movie with Kang, who’s already seated, and she’s seen when she tries to sneak out.
When Cha-young hands her manager a letter of resignation, she explains why she’s going to Greece all of a sudden, “I can’t stop myself from falling for him…So I’m going to a place where I can never see him.”
Summer, 2018. At Geosung Hospital, Kang takes charge of a world famous rock star who arrives by ambulance with a serious head injury. Hye-mi barges into her husband’s office, angry that such a high profile case was given to Kang.
Seung-hoon explains that the rocker’s agency requested Kang because of his accomplishments in Libya. Seung-hoon complains, “I thought he was a cub, but he’s become a lion already.”
During a meeting with his team to plan the surgery, Kang gets a call from Min-sung’s number. He answers it, complaining that he hasn’t been able to reach his friend for week and is surprised to find himself speaking with someone named In-ju.
Kang runs to the ER and finds an unconscious Min-sung with fiancée In-ju by his side. While Kang scolds his friend for not telling him about his condition, a doctor informs him that Min-sung requires surgery immediately.
When Kang goes to scrub for surgery, he asks Min-sung’s surgeon if he’s capable of saving his friend. Kang is aware of a stupid mistake that the surgeon made recently and warns, “If you’re not confident, get out of the way. You’ll die in my hands if something bad happens to my friend.”
In the end, Kang performs Min-sung’s surgery while Joon takes over the high profile case. As Kang operates, Min-sing’s father, KWON HYUN-SEOK (Kim Won-hae), the president of Geosung Hospice, holds a photo of Min-sung as he says a prayer.
After the surgery, Joon is accompanied by his proud parents to update an auditorium full of reporters. While Joon basks in glory, a grief-stricken Kang sits on the floor in a hallway still wearing his blood-spattered scrubs as tears stream down his face.
Min-sung’s father walks up and gently tells Kang, “You did great,” but more tears fall as he confesses that he thought that he could save Min-sung. Dad shakes his head, “Min-sung already knew that there was no hope. And I knew it too. That’s why he told me not to tell you.”
Min-sung’s father sits down and admits that even though he was hoping for a miracle, he’s thankful that Kang didn’t give up on Min-sung until the end. Dad promises, “I’ll take Min-sung from here,” and when he walks away, Kang’s body heaves as he cries over his friend.
After Min-sung is transferred to Geosung Hospice, Kang drives out to visit him. As Kang sets up an impressive display of Marvel figures, Min-sung asks him to quit his job. When Kang jokes that he’s a skilled doctor, Min-sung protests that he couldn’t cure his one and only best friend.
When asked about In-ju, Min-sung explains that she’s missed too much work because of him and had to go back or risk getting fired. Kang asks if he should take some time off but Min-sung repeats his request for him to quit.
Min-sung’s meal is delivered but he hardly eats a thing, complaining that the food is terrible. Min-sung confesses that he wants Cha-young’s dumpling stew and Kang angrily asks, “Why would you mention that bitch who left you?”
Min-sung makes it clear that he’s not talking about Cha-young, just her dumpling stew. When Kang offers to get Min-sung something to eat, he insists, “I want Cha-young’s handmade dumpling stew. My wish is to eat it at least one more time before I die.”
In Greece, Cha-young picks up a delivery from a local butcher and carries it all the way to the restaurant where she works. After a call, Cha-young rides her bicycle to the police station and finds Tae-hyun flirting with some girls, even though he’s handcuffed to a bench.
Once he’s free, Tae-hyun is unfazed by his arrest, dancing happily on the beach after seeing all of the likes for his selfie with the now broken bottle of wine. Distressed, Cha-young wades into the ocean while advising her brother to use her insurance money to pay for the wine.
Tae-hyun stops her, arguing that policies don’t pay for suicides but Cha-young persists, suggesting that they end their lives so that they can start over. Happy with his life, Tae-hyun suggests that Cha-young should just accept what he’s done as a penalty for all of the awful things that she allegedly did to him in a past life.
Cha-young ends up taking on extra work at a fish market to pay for the bottle of wine, valued at over 8,000 euros. A coworker mentions a cooking competition at the upcoming wine festival and that the grand prize is a bottle of that very wine.
Cha-young learns that the competition requires preparing a dish that best suits the three wines released by the local wine association in 2018. Cha-young uses the restaurant after hours to study (make that drink) the wines and settle on a dish to enter in the competition.
On the day of the competition, all of the entrants work diligently while racing the clock. Tae-hyun is a huge distraction when he loudly cheers for his sister but Cha-young maintains her focus to the end.
The event’s announcer asks for five audience members to sample the dishes alongside the three judges. Kang raises his hand and volunteers, “I will do it,” and when Cha-young turns around and sees him, he stares right at her.
Seeing Kim Won-hae as Min-sung’s father crying alongside Yoon Kye-sang confirms that my heart is going to be crushed as this story unfolds. Even though that’s to be expected when a hospice figures into the plot, witnessing Min-sung’s father and best friend sharing their grief just drove that reality home.
As Kang faces losing his only friend, he does the unthinkable and goes in search of the woman who broke Min-sung’s heart, unaware of what he means to her. As much trouble as Cha-young went through to stay away from Kang, Min-sung’s terminal condition will make it impossible for her to ignore him. I can’t wait to find out if Min-sung’s motivation is more than a craving for Cha-young’s dumpling stew because his best friend will soon be all alone in the world. Min-sung had to have looked for some answers when Cha-young ran away to Greece and now that he’s dying, he may be orchestrating Kang’s reunion with the girl who knew him when he was happy.
Any obstacle that Min-sung posed for the pairing of Cha-young and Kang disappears once he’s gone. Left behind will be the friend who doesn’t have a single ally in his own family, except for Joon. Aside from the fact that he can use some anger management training, Joon is a bit of a puzzle. He was angry with his father for sending Kang to Libya and even angrier that his family was so ready to turn off Kang’s life support. Joon was the only one to fly all the way to Libya to hold Kang’s hand and that means something, quite a lot actually. But what’s happened between Joon and Kang in the years since he returned from the dead? Joon is enjoying a career high thanks to the surgery that Kang gave up to save Min-sung, while Kang continues to lose everyone that’s ever mattered to him.
I’ve been puzzled about why Kang has stayed with his hostile family all of this time and why he became a doctor in the first place. Did Kang forget how happy he was when he and his mother worked side by side at the restaurant? Did he forget about the tears of joy that a little girl shed when she ate his delicious food? Kang’s unhappiness is so palpable, completely at odds with the smiling boy that Cha-young remembers. My guess is that Kang needs to honor the sacrifice that his mother made so that he could take his rightful place in his father’s family. Kang probably also wants to honor his father, which may be his reason for becoming a doctor.
Kang has become so used to his sadness that he doesn’t even know how much he’s changed since Cha-young first met him. Reconnecting with her will enable him to recall happier days and Min-sung’s terminal illness should open his eyes to living his life more fully. For someone as kind as Min-sung, that would be a beautiful legacy to leave behind.
- Premiere Watch: People With Flaws, Chocolate
- Yoon Kye-sang and Ha Ji-won begin a romantic journey in Greece for JTBC’s Chocolate
- First teaser for JTBC’s Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Jang Seung-jo confirms JTBC drama Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang up for JTBC melo Chocolate