Chocolate: Episode 9
Even the best of doctors get sick, and even the coldest of hearts feel warmth. We see that this episode when our neurosurgeon is given the chance he’s been waiting for his entire life. It’d be so easy to take it if his time at the hospice hadn’t complicated his feelings. He doesn’t quite understand what’s causing the sickness in his heart, but it’s enough to make him hesitate.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Summer 1995. Joon, his parents, and Grandma watch their baseball game on TV, while in a separate room, Kang watches news of the department store collapse in tears. He later begs Grandma to save his mom, but as we saw in an earlier episode, Grandma merely states that they aren’t to go public with his mom’s accident. Only this time, we see that Joon looks up at the sobbing Kang with something resembling pity.
Sometime after the accident, the housekeeper helps Kang gather Mom’s things to burn (in order to help her spirit move on). Kang numbly dumps all of his chocolate with the belongings, saying, “From now on, I’m not eating chocolate. If I do, I’ll want to return to Wando Island.” He then asks the housekeeper to prepare him a real meal, which he silently scarfs down. Grown-up Kang narrates to Min-sung, saying that he thought he was going the right way but ended up lost again.
Pulling into Grandma’s driveway, Kang wonders if he’ll be able to find his way back. Grandma greets him warmly, praising him for saving Hee-joo and making Geosung’s name clean again. Now, she’ll be able to move forward with her plan of replacing the hospice with a silver town.
Grandma smiles and says that she wants Kang to take over when that happens; she might even consider giving him Geosung. Kang says nothing, but his eyes show worry. His eavesdropping aunt shows worry too as she tries to reach her husband. We see that Seung-hoon is currently eating lunch with Director Kwon, ignoring his wife’s calls.
Apparently, the two both started off as interns at Geosung Hospital. And the reason why Seung-hoon wanted to reconnect — after thirty years of no contact — was because he thought Kwon lived an unfortunate life and seeing Kwon still managing encouraged him.
After all, Seung-hoon says, Kwon divorced his first wife, lost his second wife due to childbirth complications (ahh), and then lost his only son. Kwon is staring daggers, but Seung-hoon carelessly continues that he can’t believe his first wife left him for another man, only to return with Alzheimer’s.
That’s the final straw — Kwon stands and seethes, “Why is your dirty mouth talking about that woman, you bastard?!” Damn.
At a Godiva chocolate shop, searching for new sweets, Cha-young sees a little kid dressed as an astronaut and is immediately reminded of Ji-yong. But when she says Ji-yong’s name, the kid reveals his face, making Cha-young’s smile falter, and runs off to his mother.
Meanwhile, at the hospice, Kang finds Ye-sol outside checking in on Ji-yong’s favorite turtle. Kang asks where her mom is, and she sadly informs him that Mom collapsed and is currently in the ICU. She admits that she misses eating and chatting with Mom here at the hospice.
Min-yong then runs up with Korean clam pancakes for Ye-sol. He tells Ye-sol and Kang that his mom is still helping out in the kitchen, grateful for Ji-yong’s care. She even had a dream about Ji-yong looking down on Earth.
In the midst of eating, Ye-sol breaks down crying, surprising them. “My mom likes clam pancakes,” she explains through tears. “I want to take some to her, but she’s in the ICU, so she can’t eat anything.” The boys look at her sympathetically as she continues to cry and eat her food.
Kang heads into his office and finds a plate of clam pancakes waiting for him. However, he doesn’t seem to have the appetite.
Director Kwon sneaks over to the kitchen and listens in on Seon-ae and Cha-young preparing dinner. Seon-ae is struggling to remember the steps of cooking clam porridge, and Cha-young pushing for her not to give up just frustrates her more. She storms out, making Kwon duck into a hiding space.
The young nurse Na-ra sees him, and he huffs before going on his way, lol. Na-ra enters the kitchen to drop off a package for Cha-young, as well as steal a pancake for herself. Suddenly, Seon-ae bursts back in, happy as a clam (ayyy), claiming she finally remembered the next step.
Cha-young is proud to see that Seon-ae has her enthusiasm back. And once the porridge is ready, the girls taste it and squeal with delight. Cha-young then takes a break to open her package and sees that it’s a new set of plates made by Joon.
Tae-hyun calls Cha-young out to the parking lot, there for his daily annoyance session. He shows her the newer, more expensive car next to Kang’s (which is Joon’s car) and states that he has found his new dream car.
“I’ve done some thinking,” he tells her, “and marrying your first love is weird.” Oh lord — he wants her to lure in a different brother-in-law for him, one that might actually like her. And, well, Cha-young’s face says it all.
Back inside, Kang is thinking over Grandma’s offer, letting his pancakes go cold. He thinks of all the patients and what the hospice means to them, his thoughts eventually leading to Cha-young and how she sobbed on the roof.
He heads outside just as Cha-young makes her way towards the entrance. He almost walks past her, but turns and calls her back. As she turns too, a large white sheet comes falling from above and covers the both of them.
It’s only for a moment, but Kang stares at Cha-young as if they’re encased in their own little world, remembering when he’d told Min-yong that he kept worrying about someone.
Kang removes the sheet just in time to see Joon rush over to the roof’s ledge, wearing rubber gloves. Kang and Cha-young look up at him in confusion, while he looks back at them with embarrassment.
Out on the basketball court, Director Kwon informs Kang that Joon’s doing community service at the hospice for assaulting Professor Jung. And it’s obvious that Joon doesn’t want to be here, as he does all of his work half-assed.
Cha-young tries to help Joon out a bit, but he only views it as her pitying him. Young-shil comes in to make it clear that he won’t be getting any special treatment, getting him riled up, and then sends him home for today.
When Joon leaves, he finds Kang on the court playing basketball alone. Smirking, Joon tells Kang that he knows about the deal Grandma offered. “Do the people at this hospice know that you’re hatching a wicked plot with that innocent face of yours?” he asks. Kang scoffs, making Joon frown. Joon threatens to stop him, and Kang coolly tells him to go ahead and try. So Joon takes the basketball and they go head-to-head, gradually getting more and more aggressive.
It starts pouring rain, but that doesn’t stop the boys. A frustrated Joon shoves Kang to the ground, and that turns the game into a full out fist fight. Flashbacks of their fight as kids fade in, showing that even after all these years, not much has changed between them. They throw punches and snarl at each other like dogs until Director Kwon finally cuts in and breaks them apart.
The boys are taken inside, and Director Kwon makes sure that Joon gets his wounds treated. When Kwon checks on Kang in the shower room, he sighs to see that Kang is sulking in the corner, still in wet clothes. Kwon asks why he’s acting like a kid, and Kang reveals that he and Joon fought when they were kids.
So, Kwon asks, does he plan on fighting with Joon again? “Yes,” Kang answers, his voice detached. “That is our fate. We must fight until either of us win.” Kwon angrily tells Kang to take Geosung, then, if that’s what his dream really is. He’s disappointed to see that Kang has learned nothing after spending time with the patients at the hospice.
It’s still pouring out, so when Joon sees Cha-young leaving, he catches up and takes cover under her umbrella. The dejected Kang comes out behind them and sees Joon get reaaal close to Cha-young so they don’t get drenched. Kang looks on, more confused than ever, as Joon offers Cha-young a lift home.
Kang gets in his own car and follows them, honking his horn incessantly. Recognizing the car, Joon wonders to himself if his cousin is jealous. Finally, Kang speeds past them and takes the next exit. It’s then that Cha-young notices Joon’s wounds, and Joon explains that he got into it with Kang.
Cha-young doesn’t understand why Joon would be angry with Kang when he recently saved Hee-joo, but Joon doesn’t want to talk about that. She persists, so he pulls over and warns her that Kang isn’t who she thinks he is. But she insists that Kang isn’t someone that Joon can criticize. She gets out, wanting to walk from there.
Kang gets a phone call and pulls over when he realizes that it’s Ye-sol’s dad. Dad cries, saying that he made the wrong choice and that his wife was happier at the hospice. But Kang merely states that he should talk to Director Kwon and then hangs up. He drives off, too distracted to notice Cha-young on the sidewalk.
The next day, Cha-young finds Michael’s adoptive mom crying outside their room. Inside, Michael is crying alongside a woman and younger man, who are calling him “Sung-chul” and apologizing for leaving him. These two are supposedly Michael’s birth mother and older brother, but something feels off…
Birth Mom gets to work on making the kimchi stew that Michael’s been craving, and I can’t help but notice how insensitive she and Big Bro are, especially when it comes to Adoptive Mom. Once Michael gets a taste of the stew, he hesitates before telling everyone it’s delicious. Hmm.
Around lunch time, Kang goes to Quiznos to meet up with Min-yong but finds him with Cha-young instead. Apparently, he’d mixed up the dates, but no matter — Cha-young invites him to join them.
Outside the hospice, Tae-hyun runs over to Joon, who’s doing (er, trying to do) the laundry. Tae-hyun introduces himself and offers to do all of Joon’s work for him, but Joon tells him to get lost.
Tae-hyun doesn’t appreciate Joon speaking banmal, and he instantly changes his mind on setting him up with Cha-young. He’d rather ride the bus than have a guy like Joon mistreat his sister; he bets that Joon isn’t even rich.
Back at Quiznos, Min-yong asks Kang what happened with his Zika virus. Cha-young, and the people around them, look at him in concern, and all he can do is wave his hand no as he chokes on his sandwich. HAHAHA.
Cut to: Kang with a thermometer in his mouth. When Cha-young takes a look at the thermometer, she’s still wary. So Kang takes her hand and presses it against his forehead as proof that he’s totally fine.
Only now, they’re both flustered. To change the subject, Kang offers Cha-young a ride back to the hospice. She hesitates, making him blurt out that she accepted a ride from Joon. Besides, she doesn’t have to worry about him infecting her.
Once they’re on the road, Cha-young explains that she wasn’t worried about being infected; she was just concerned that he was sick when he was already busy. Kang’s expression softens at that.
Cha-young also explains that she only accepted Joon’s offer because it was raining and she was tired — to be honest, she doesn’t know Joon well enough to be driving around with him. “That’s how it was,” she says nonchalantly. “That’s a fact.”
As Cha-young fiddles with a napkin, Kang glances at her before smiling to himself. Oh, you.
Kang drops Cha-young off by the hospice’s entrance but stays in his car. He picks up the origami crane she made out of the napkin, thinking of all the times they worried about each other, and smiles again.
Okay, with those last two smiles, there’s no way Kang is still unaware of his feelings. The only question is, is he actually going to do something about them? The way I see it, it’s very unlikely. Whether it has to do with family or work, he’s been passive and frustratingly so. But the opening scene did shed some light on why he acts the way he does. Throwing away the chocolate was almost like Kang throwing away his childhood. And asking the housekeeper to make him some “real food” was like putting on the adult shoes. Since that day, he’s had tunnel vision for obtaining Geosung Hospital, with little to no interest in pursuing or putting effort in anything else (with the exception of his friendship with Min-sung). So, all that in mind, why would he pursue a relationship with Cha-young? Boy is either gonna ignore this completely or mess it up somehow. For her sake and his, I hope he doesn’t do or say anything stupid.
If Kang was the Kang from a few episodes ago, I think he would’ve accepted Grandma’s offer in a heartbeat. He wouldn’t have seen the point in a hospice, in giving a patient hope when there was none. But our Kang of today is different. He’s seen the environment firsthand, talked to the patients and even made friends with them. He knows how much this hospice means not only to the patients but to the people who work there. I hate that he has to contemplate this decision at all when so many lives are at stake, but the hesitation is welcome character development. Though it’s hard to tell, he has come far. However, he still has trouble voicing his thoughts to the people he cares about. At times, it seems like he’s trying to look like the bad guy, with Joon especially. In situations like this, a simple conversation could fix everything, but there’s just too much damage in the cousins’ relationship.
Like Director Kwon said, the boys really are acting like a couple of immature teenagers. After watching them fight, I had to pause and take a breather; I was so done with them and their petty competition. Twenty-something years later and they’re the same little boys throwing punches. Refusing to show their good sides to each other. Refusing to show pity or empathy or love… to just tell the goddamn truth. I was so on Cha-young’s side when she told Joon off for bad mouthing Kang. Not because Kang is our hero or because it helps out the loveline, but because she was right in saying that Joon had no right. Because no, Joon doesn’t know Kang, and Kang doesn’t know Joon. They don’t know the simplest of things, like that Joon liked pottery or that Kang liked cooking. They don’t know about the things they’ve given up to be doctors — how similar they are. And that, my friends, is why y’all are stuck.
This episode, aside from the star-crossed cousins, was surprisingly chill. And, honestly, it was needed after all that we went through in the last episode with Ji-yong and Suk-ja. The side characters fill up a lot of space, so it’s a good thing I love them all. Even Tae-hyun is showing that he can be a protective brother when he wants to be, but let’s be real — his number of scenes could be cut down. Right now, I’m curious about Michael and what the deal is with his birth mom and brother. Suspicious, much? And after that bomb that Joon’s dad dropped, I’m even more curious about Director Kwon and Seon-ae’s relationship. These two never stop being interesting.
- 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