Chocolate: Episode 10
Perhaps because of her early brush with death, our chef is a passionate advocate for the hospice patients, but not everyone appreciates her devotion. As she deals with unexpected challenges of her own, our neurosurgeon decides that it’s time to clear up any misunderstandings. But after a sweet request from a patient, our protagonist is reminded that living life to the fullest is very different than just managing to survive.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
At the hospice, Kang’s aunt makes an unannounced visit, creating a stir when she announces to Nurse Na-ra that she’s Kang’s lover and kisses him on the cheek. Outside, Seo-hoon explains to Kang that she misses her nephews now that they’re both working at the hospice.
Impressed by the location, Seo-hoon understands why her mother wants to close the hospice to make way for a silver town (a retirement community for the wealthy). Kang can’t believe it when Seo-hoon shares her plan to get the hospice closed down — she’ll see to it that Director Kwon is named as an accomplice in Hee-joo’s murder plot.
When Seo-hoon can’t find a lighter for her cigarette, she calls out to Cha-young. Cha-young informs Seo-hoon that she’s not allowed to smoke in consideration of the patients, surprised when Seo-hoon callously notes that they’re dying anyway. Kang quietly warns his aunt, “That’s enough.”
Cha-young defends the patients, “The people here at the hospice…are cherishing every day that they have, just like us.” Offended that Cha-young called her “ajumma”, an indignant Seo-hoon asks, “…do you even know who I am?”
Kang erupts, “I said that’s enough, Aunt!” When he tells Seo-hoon to apologize, she protests that all she did was ask for a lighter. After Cha-young leaves the pair, Kang gets a call from Min-yong.
Over a snack and after clearing up the Zika virus misunderstanding, Kang asks Min-yong, “What do you do when there’s someone you want to apologize to?” He nods when Min-yong matter-of-factly advises, “…just go and apologize.”
Min-yong guesses that Kang likes someone on the hospital’s staff and when he blushes, the boy promises to keep his secret. After Min-yong blurts out, “Ye-sol also promised her that she’ll keep it a secret,” Kang scoffs, thinking that he’s talking about Cha-young. When Min-yong texts an apology for betraying the secret, it’s Na-ra who’s upset.
In the kitchen, Joon’s eyes are red and swollen from peeling countless onions. When Cha-young lights some candles to lessen the irritating fumes, Joon complains because she didn’t do it sooner. After Cha-young returns to her cooking, Joon asks how she and Kang met. Cha-young ignores him so Joon muses how unusual it is for a doctor and a chef to become acquainted.
When Joon asks, “Do you like Kang,” Cha-young is so rattled that she burns herself. While she treats her burn, Cha-young answers the question, “I don’t have feelings for Dr. Lee Kang. He’s a doctor I’ll always thank for having saved my life…nothing more or less,” unaware that Kang is outside the door and heard everything.
When Seon-ae delivers a tray of Cha-young’s beautiful flower fritters to Director Kwon, he orders her to take it away. Even when Seon-ae explains that Cha-young made the treat, Director Kwon still doesn’t want it. As she leaves, Seon-ae informs Kwon that she’s quitting as soon as Young-shil finds a replacement.
Done for the day, Joon hurries to his car and gets a text from his father, “Your mom’s gone crazy. Come home as fast as you can.” At home, Joon finds his parents kneeling before his grandmother and learns that Hye-mi asked for a divorce.
After Hye-mi claims that she’s had enough, Grandma tells her, “Go ahead. I won’t ask you to stay.” Distraught, Seung-hoon grabs Hye-mi’s leg while insisting that he can’t live without her.
Joon guesses that his mother’s request has something to do with a prosecutor’s investigation linking her father and brother to a food supply scam. Joon reminds his mother that if she leaves, Grandma won’t be inclined to help her family anymore. When Hye-mi stays, a relieved Seung-hoon asks, “Was it just an act?”
After Young-shil peeks into Michael’s room and sees Susan all alone, she calls Cha-young to share the woman’s suspicion that the stew that his mother made wasn’t what Michael remembered. Cha-young hangs up and glances over at Michael, who’s outside with his mother and brother.
Cha-young hears the brother complain that while Michael’s family is rich, their mother couldn’t even afford back surgery. He suggests that Michael should use his share of his family’s money to help their mother.
Later, Cha-young waits outside of Michael’s room to asks his mother to make another pot of kimchi stew. Michael’s mom gets defensive when Cha-young explains that her first attempt wasn’t exactly what Michael expected.
When Michael’s twin finds his mother making another pot of stew, she whines that the previous version wasn’t satisfactory. They taste the stew and agree that it’s delicious but after some thought, Mom adds some sugar as Cha-young glares.
While Michael’s mother and brother congratulate themselves, Cha-young dumps the stew into the sink. She asks the mother, “Why did you show up when you were the one who abandoned him?”
When Cha-young suggests that they want money from the dying boy, Mom grabs her by the collar. Cha-young argues, “A family isn’t something you can throw away and find again whenever you please,” and when Michael’s brother pushes her in anger, she hits her head.
Even though she’s hurt, Cha-young rebukes the mother for forgetting that Michael can’t eat sugar. In a flashback, Michael’s mother remembers that the young boy cried from the intense itching caused by the candy that his brother gave him.
When Mom walks out, her angry son shakes Cha-young. As her head is thrown back and forth, Cha-young remembers more of the day that the department store collapsed. Her mother had promised to buy Cha-young a birthday present if she met her at the department store after school.
After she called her mother from the phone booth just outside the store, Cha-young went back inside, along with older girls in school uniforms and young children with their mothers.
Kang finds Cha-young outside holding her head and remembers his relief when he found her on the mountain. But when Kang stands in front of Cha-young, he tells her, “I’m sorry if I did anything to cause a misunderstanding.”
Cha-young can’t see Kang clearly because her vision is blurred. When Kang explains that he’ll always think of her as Min-sung’s girlfriend, Cha-young confesses that she still thinks of him as Min-sung’s friend. But after Kang leaves, Cha-young has to blink back her tears.
Alone in his office, Kang recalls the night that Cha-young accepted Min-sung’s feelings and his friend’s warning, “Even if you end up falling for Cha-young, just swallow your feelings.” Kang does just that when he places Cha-young’s paper crane in his desk drawer.
During dinner with Tae-hyun, Cha-young keeps adding salt to her soup. When Tae-hyun becomes alarmed, Cha-young eats a spoonful of salt and realizes that she can’t taste it. The next day, after Cha-young gets the results of an MRI at Geosung Hospital, Tae-hyun watches his sister nervously from down the hall.
At the hospice, Kang and Young-shil greet the ambulance with Ye-sol’s mother. Ye-sol stops to tell Kang, “Thanks to you, I can stay with my mom anytime I want.” Ye-sol places a ring pop on Kang’s finger and promises to replace it as soon as he finishes it. When Kang looks at it, he’s reminded of Cha-young’s message for his aunt — the people at the hospice cherish every day that they have.
About to deliver a snack to Director Kwon’s office, Seon-ae decides to take it to the common room instead. There, she finds Ye-sol making a wedding invitation intended for her grandfather and she explains that her parents never married because he was against the union.
Ye-sol’s face falls when she admits that her grandfather will probably kick her out like he’s done before. Ye-sol lights up when Seon-ae offers to accompany her to deliver the invitation.
A taxi drops Seon-ae and Ye-sol off across the street from Grandpa’s dumpling and steamed bun shop. Clutching the invitation in one hand and Seon-ae’s hand in the other, Ye-sol greets her grandfather but she’s ignored. After ordering a plate of steamed buns for Ye-sol, Seon-ae promises that when she returns from the bathroom, she’ll speak with Ye-sol’s grandfather. Uh-oh.
In the hospice kitchen, Joon notices that Cha-young is distracted and he soon learns why when Tae-hyun walks in and suggests getting a second opinion. Cha-young tries to quiet him with a reminder that she needs to finish the meal prep.
Tae-hyun grumbles that a chef can’t prepare a meal when she can’t smell or taste, prompting Joon to ask what’s going on. Suddenly remembering that Joon is a doctor, Tae-hyun begs him to help his sister. Losing patience, Cha-young shouts, “Go tell everyone that there’s something wrong with your sister,” and storms out.
When Seon-ae exits the bathroom, a young woman asks her for directions. Seon-ae has no idea where she is and while a worried Ye-sol waits, Seon-ae wanders around in confusion.
After seeing Cha-young’s MRI on Tae-hyun’s phone, Joon finds Cha-young. He uses a bar of soap to confirm that she can’t smell and when he asks if she hit her head recently, Cha-young recalls the altercation with Michael’s hot-headed brother.
Joon agrees with the hospital’s findings, Cha-young sustained damage to her olfactory nerve, which is why she can’t smell or taste anything. It’s also the reason for her blurred vision which is only temporary. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that Cha-young’s sense of taste and smell will return.
When Joon sees Kang eyeing them curiously, he asks Cha-young if he knows about her condition. As Kang approaches, Cha-young begs, “Please don’t tell him.” Before Kang can ask any questions, Young-shil finds Joon and scolds that he’s supposed to be in the kitchen peeling radishes.
Cha-young’s blurred vision keeps bothering her but when Michael’s angry brother shows up and accuses her of upsetting his mother, she refuses to accept responsibility for the woman’s misery. When Cha-young walks away, the brother orders her to stop. As he runs after her, Kang trips him and asks what he intends to do, “Will you hit her?”
After watching Cha-young struggle in the kitchen, Tae-hyun shouts at her to tell the staff that she’s not well. On his way back with more onions, Joon is just outside the door when Cha-young asks, “Since when were you so worried about me?” Cha-young reminds her brother, “A 12-year-old girl held out and survived in the ruins of a collapsed department store amongst dying people, without even knowing that her mom and brother abandoned her.”
After all that she’s endured, Cha-young learned that she can’t allow herself to fall apart. She explains that until she figures out how to deal with her latest challenge, her work serves as a welcome distraction.
A patient interrupts the siblings to ask for a favor — he’s hoping for a special meal in honor of his wedding anniversary. Tae-hyun tries to send the man away with the explanation that Cha-young isn’t well but Joon pushes him out the door, reminding him that it’s time for his medication. Lol.
The patient apologizes for troubling her but Cha-young gets him to tell her what he wants — a recreation of the meal that he and his wife enjoyed on their first date in her home country of Vietnam.
Joon returns and watches Cha-young through the kitchen door as she works. She recalls a famous restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City during her culinary training and remembers the restaurant’s name at the same time as the patient. Explaining her problem, Cha-young invites the patient to taste the dish on her behalf.
Cha-young arranges the special meal on a tray, complete with a piece of chocolate cake that holds a single candle. As Cha-young hands the tray to the grateful husband, she wishes him, “Happy anniversary.”
In the dining room, the husband lights the candle and reminds his wife that they shared this very meal on their first date. He explains that the hospice chef prepared the meal to celebrate their anniversary and urges his wife to enjoy it even though he can’t eat. Cha-young watches from just outside the room as the wife takes a bite and declares it perfect.
The husband is sorry that his wife left her country to be with him now that he’s going to die. They clasp hands as the husband makes a heartfelt wish, “…in our next lives, we should be born in the same country…let’s meet sooner…so that we can love each other more and longer.”
Cha-young can’t stop her tears as the husband tells his wife in Vietnamese, “Thank you for everything. I love you.” Through her tears, the wife replies in Korean, “I want to thank you as well. I love you, honey.”
Kang walks by just as Cha-young turns away, her eyes brimming with tears. Cha-young pauses briefly to stare at Kang before continuing on her way.
If I’d been told that a hospice patient would come along who touched my heart more deeply that the sweet Ji-yong, I wouldn’t have believed it. But that’s exactly what happened when a sweet husband, with Cha-young’s help, did his best to celebrate the love that he and his wife have shared. As their time together approaches an untimely end, the husband wishes that they’ll meet again in future life. Their bittersweet anniversary celebration was what Cha-young needed to remember that life is about more than surviving. When she saw Kang, it seemed as if something inside of Cha-young had shifted.
Cha-young has experienced one misfortune after another and she’s willed herself to endure so that she can survive. But I think that Kang’s declaration that he’ll never be able to see her as anything other than Min-sung’s girlfriend was the last straw. Even though Kang was probably trying to convince himself as well as Cha-young, her crisis threatens the one thing that has sustained her through every challenge and she’s finally ready to walk away from him for good. Unlike the hospice patients, Cha-young isn’t making the most of her time and it seems that she’s finally realized that.
A Cha-young struggles to keep her head above water, she’s gained a new admirer — Joon. I don’t think that he has romantic feelings for her, but I do think that he recognizes her strength and appreciates how she uses her talent to connect with the patients. Tae-hyun certainly doesn’t pay close attention to his sister except to get something from her and Kang is too unwilling to allow himself to get close to Cha-young. I love the way that Joon has been inserted into life at the hospice, not as a doctor but as someone whose punishment forces him to perform community service. As he peels onions and radishes, Joon has a unique perspective because he’s somewhat invisible. Except when it comes to Nurse Young-shil, who seems to have a sixth sense whenever Joon’s not in the kitchen. Hee.
The hospice also gives Kang the chance to see his aunt in a different and distinctly unflattering light. Not only does she not care about the patients, Seo-hoon’s behavior is an embarrassment away from the insulation of Geosung Hospital. Add to that the fact that Cha-young wasn’t at all impressed with her, it’s no surprise that Kang couldn’t wait to get away from his aunt to ask for advice from a young teenager.
Honestly, Min-yong knows more about love than Kang does, he’s just confused about which staff member is on Kang’s mind. Didn’t Kang seem just a little bit pleased when he mistakenly thought that Cha-young was the one who’d admitted to liking him? Unfortunately, Cha-young was a little too convincing when she insisted to Joon that she didn’t like Kang, who was standing just outside the kitchen door. His decision to set a strict boundary with Cha-young was probably born from his disappointment. But how is he going to react if Cha-young takes his words to heart and finally decides to move on?
- 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