Chocolate: Episode 12
After years of suppressing the happy memories of his hometown, our neurosurgeon returns to attend the funeral of an old friend. Having driven through the night to get him there, our chef eventually joins him for his bittersweet homecoming and is reminded of their first meeting as kids. With our doctor far from home, a family crisis leads to a brazen power play and it’s time for his cousin to decide whose side he’s on.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
As Cha-young follows the highway signs to Wando Island, Kang thanks her for driving. When they take the long bridge that leads to the island, Kang remembers teasing Dong-gu about his feelings for Kang’s mother.
Summer, 1992. Dong-gu was at work on a boat when a bandaged Kang confronted him, “Did you cry all night because we’re moving?” Dong-gu had insisted that his swollen eyes were the result of a centipede bite that he got while sleeping.
At Geosung Hospital, a sobbing Seung-hoon holds his mother’s hand as Hye-mi hovers nearby. Seo-hoon arrives with her mascara running down her face as Seung-hoon begs their mother not to die. Hye-mi tries to assure the siblings that Grandma will recover but that doesn’t stop their wailing.
Unable to bear the scene any longer, Hye-mi leaves and her feigned distress immediately leaves her face. She’s surprised to see Joon in the hallway and when she tries to report that Grandma should be fine, he stops her. After speaking with her doctor, Joon knows that his grandmother may not survive and urges his mother to call Kang.
When Hye-mi insists on waiting until Grandma wakes up, Joon argues, “What if she doesn’t?” Joon thinks it would be unfortunate for his grandmother to make her final wishes known without Kang present, since he’s the only legitimate Geosung heir. After Hye-mi pretends that she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Joon explains himself, “It means Kang and I may have the same grandmother, but we don’t have the same grandfather.”
On Wando Island, Cha-young parks near the funeral hall and announces, “We’re here.” When Kang gets out of the car, Cha-young informs him that she’ll be taking the express bus home. While Dong-gu’s niece welcomes him (cameo by Yubin), Kang watches Cha-young walk away.
On her way to the bus station, Cha-young realizes that she doesn’t have her phone or wallet but she does have Kang’s car key. As she runs back to the funeral hall, Kang pays his respects to his old friend.
Kang studies an older Dong-gu in the funeral portrait and the memories come flooding back. Kang had promised to return to Wando Island as soon as possible but Dong-gu urged him to forget about the place and live happily with his grandmother and mother in Seoul.
Kang told Dong-gu, “I want to live here with you until the day I die,” and he grabbed the man’s hand to pinkie promise, “I give you my word as a man. I’ll come back…” Unable to contain his sorrow any longer, Dong-gu had thrown his arms around Kang and sobbed. In the present, Kang silently apologizes, “I’m sorry I took so long to come back, Mr. Ha.”
Cha-young returns just as the niece carries a box to the funeral hall. She hands it to Kang and explains, “Uncle Dong-gu wanted to give this to you when you returned to Wando.” Kang finds it filled with chocolate and he smiles at his friend’s portrait while Cha-young watches his tears fall into the box.
Ye-sol’s grandfather is surprised when he arrives at his shop and finds Seon-ae serving steamed buns to some customers. After they leave, Seon-ae points out that he should have locked up while he was gone.
When Seon-ae points out that the weak daughter-in-law that he rejected managed to give birth to the sweet Ye-sol and that his son is devoted to her, he shouts at her to get out. Seon-ae warns, “…you should just accept your son and daughter-in-law. Otherwise, you’ll end up regretting it like me.”
After she returns to the hospice, Seon-ae serves the grandfather’s steamed buns to Ye-sol and when asked if he’s coming to the wedding, Seon-ae urges her to try delivering the invitation again.
Joon sits in his car in the hospice parking lot and recalls asking his mother, “Does Dad also know?” After admitting that Seong-hoon knew nothing, Hye-mi coldly suggested that Joon could be the one to tell him the truth. Still reeling from his mother’s accusation that Grandma used him to strengthen Kang, Joon remembers that Kang’s mother confessed how much Kang hated competing with him.
Joon finds Kang’s office but Nurse Na-ra informs him that he’s on Wando Island for a funeral. When Tae-hyun shows up, Na-ra hands him Cha-young’s backpack and phone and grumbles about the fact that his sister is with Kang.
The phone rings with a call from Cha-young and when Tae-hyun answers, she asks for a favor. When Tae-hyun tries to remind her that she’s not well, Cha-young hangs up. Tae-hyun explains to a curious Joon and Na-ra that Cha-young needs him to text Kang that she’s waiting for him at a park near the funeral hall.
When Na-ra is full of questions, Tae-hyun guesses that she likes Kang. Joon overhears Tae-hyun tell her that Kang and Cha-young are one another’s first loves, “Their love started in Wando when they were kids. Then they met at Geosung Hospital, and they met again in Greece…They might just be meant for each other.”
Back on Wando Island, a tired Cha-young finds an empty bench on the beach and sits down to wait for Kang. The burial over, Kang stands alone in front of Dong-gu’s headstone with a final wish, “Mr. Ha. Once you get to heaven, make sure to propose to my mom…”
At the hospice, Seon-ae barges into Director Kwon’s office and drags him to the kitchen. She sits him down in front of a table loaded with food and explains that even though they lived together for a year, she has no idea what he likes. When Director Kwon refuses to eat, a desperate Seon-ae grasps his hands, “You said you wanted to eat my cooking. If you don’t eat it today, you will never have a chance.”
Director Kwon frees himself and tells Seon-ae that he remarried after their divorce. His wife died after giving birth to a son, who he sent to live with his grandparents in the States for over ten years. Director Kwon confesses that he never asked his son to come home because he held out hope that Seon-ae would someday return.
Seon-ae’s eyes fill with tears when the guilt laden Director Kwon begs her to stay out of his life. Director Kwon returns to his office and takes out a picture of Min-sung and sobs, “I’m sorry.”
After getting Tae-hyun’s text, Kang searches the park where Cha-young said she would wait. He finds her dozing off while sitting on the bench, his car key clutched in her hand. When Kang kneels in front of Cha-young to throw his jacket over her shoulders, her head falls onto his shoulder.
Kang looks down at Cha-young as he thinks about the rest of Tae-hyun’s text, “…she’s very ill now. She bumped her head and…lost her senses of smell and taste. You’re a doctor, so I want you to take good care of her.” Kang steadies Cha-young and doesn’t move as we learn that he asked Tae-hyun to send him copies of her medical records and MRI.
A distracted Joon aims a hose at a flower bed as two men exit the hospice shouting at one another. When their fight gets physical, Young-sil grabs the hose and turns it on them. Joon tries to stop Young-sil when she hits them and yells that they can’t cause a scene at the hospice, unaware that the men are her relatives. Young-sil explains that her father’s cousin is now a patient at the hospice but his sons only care about his money.
As the brothers resume their fight, Young-sil tells Joon that after toiling all of his life to help them, their father has nothing left but his deposit money. Young-sil hates them for fighting over such a meager amount and guesses, “If there was a thousand times more money involved things would be a lot more cruel and heartless, right?”
Young-sil visits her father’s cousin and tells the unconscious man, “In your next life…Please live for yourself.” Young-sil wipes away her tears when Na-ra summons her to the kitchen.
Young-sil finds Michael’s mother in the kitchen and is shown the ingredient that’s been missing from the stew. Mom explains that when her boys were young, she found some pine mushrooms on the mountain and put them into Michael’s stew, but not his brother’s. Young-sil realizes that Mom did that because Michael was sick.
Later, Young-sil and Michael’s mom wait outside of his room as he tastes her latest recipe. Susan is overjoyed when Michael confirms that this stew is the one that he’s been waiting for.
His wish fulfilled, Michael thanks Susan for bringing him back to Korea. He tearfully promises, “If we’re born again, I’ll be a better son,” and they hug after saying, “I love you.” Out in the hallway, Michael’s mother is relieved when Young-sil confirms that her recipe was what Michael remembered. After looking at Michael one last time through the window, Mom turns to leave.
She pauses when Young-sil tells her, “He’s grateful that you gave birth to him.” After some grumbling, Mom asks Young-sil to thank Susan for the seaweed soup but complains that someone must have helped her since it was exceptional. She asks Young-sil not to share that part before walking away for the last time.
As the sun sets on Wando Island, Cha-young opens her eyes and jumps to her feet when Kang asks, “Did you have a good sleep?” Cha-young asks how long she slept on his shoulder, shocked when Kang tells her, “…about four hours?”
Kang sits Cha-young down and assures her that she didn’t snore or drool. When Cha-young insists that she doesn’t do either of those things, Kang explains, “I was trying to say that it’s okay even if you snore or drool.”
After she calms down, Cha-young asks to borrow some money to take the bus home. Kang suggests that she can go back with him and when she refuses, he informs her that she won’t make it to the last bus in time.
Announcing that he’s hungry, Kang promises that they’ll leave after they eat and when he limps away, a worried Cha-young chases after him. After buying fresh fish at the fish market, Kang announces that he’s taking Cha-young to a restaurant that he knows.
When Joon gets home, he finds his dad with an old family photo. Seung-hoon whines to his father about how hard it was after he passed away and begs him not to take his mother. Joon reaches out to comfort his father but stops himself.
Joon gets a call from Hye-mi that Grandma has regained consciousness and when Seung-hoon hears the news, they head for the hospital. In her room, Grandma looks very afraid when Hye-mi approaches her bed.
Kang and Cha-young stop in front of his mother’s old restaurant. Kang explains that Dong-gu took it over and he smiles when he finds the key in the usual spot. When Kang walks through the door, he’s transported to a happier time as he remembers his mother.
When Cha-young enters, Kang tells her, “My mom was also an amazing cook, just like you.” Kang announces his plan to cook dinner and warns that it may not go well but Cha-young watches happily as he chops, boils and grills.
Seo-hoon returns to the hospital at the same time as Seung-hoon and Joon. When they find Grandma with her eyes closed, Hye-mi explains that she’s been sedated. Seo-hoon notices the two board members in the room and they explain that Grandma summoned them as soon as she woke up.
Seo-hoon and Seung-hoon are shocked when they’re told that Grandma named Hye-mi as the acting chairwoman. When Seo-hoon objects, Seung-hoon comes to his wife’s defense, “…she sacrificed sleep and ran around to grow Geosung to what it is today.”
After instructing the men to leave, Hye-mi pushes Seung-hoon and Seo-hoon out of the room, leaving Joon alone with his grandmother. When he looks down at her, Joon notices that his grandmother is crying.
Cha-young smiles as she surveys Kang’s dishes and when he sits down, she thanks him for the meal and begins to eat. She stops when Kang confesses that he’s seen her MRI and knows that she can’t smell or taste anything, “That’s why I didn’t want to take you to just any restaurant.”
When Kang gently suggests that Cha-young doesn’t have to eat if she doesn’t want to, she starts to cry. Kang hands her some tissue just like he did when they were kids and Cha-young remembers how he gently wiped away her tears. Cha-young utters the same words that she said that day, “I’m just so happy. This food is so delicious, it’s making me unbelievably happy.”
Her words trigger Kang’s memory and he sees himself making the promised chocolate truffles for the girl that he caught eating food meant for the cows (and he’s wearing a Peter Pan t-shirt). Remembering that the girl cried from happiness, Kang asks, “By any chance, did you visit Wando when you were little?” Cha-young hesitates and then nods silently.
Kang’s eyes widen in surprise and he asks Cha-young another question, “By any chance, have you ever been here to Bada Restaurant, back when you were young?” Kang is stunned when Cha-young nods again and his eyes fill with tears as he continues, “Then, do you remember me?” Tears spill from Cha-young’s eyes when she looks up at Kang and nods.
Finally! Kang knows what Tae-hyun and Joon both already know, that he met Cha-young on Wando Island when they were kids. After what’s been a very emotional day, Kang learns that the woman that he’s been trying to avoid for so long is the girl that he made those chocolate truffles for all those years ago. I feel like an idiot because I didn’t notice until this episode that Kang was wearing that Peter Pan t-shirt. It explains why Cha-young called her first love Peter Pan when she confided in Min-sung back when they were together. The tiniest details in this drama end up becoming significant and I’m sure we’re in for more revelations like that before the end.
As lovely as Kang’s deepening feelings for Cha-young are to witness, I’m most anxious to see how Joon is going to handle his mother’s betrayal. Learning that he’s not a legitimate Geosung heir is bad enough, but now Joon has to decide if he’s going to expose that secret to prevent his mother from taking the hospital away from his grandmother. Joon may be devastated by the fact that his grandmother only used him to push Kang, but even more upsetting is the fact that Hye-mi has been using him to get her hands on Geosung Hospital and that she’s willing to sacrifice his grandmother in the process.
Joon may not be as talented at Kang, but he’s definitely smart thanks to his mother. While Hye-mi can get away with misleading the gullible Seung-hoon, Joon is another matter. In an interesting parallel, Joon is faced with a similar situation that Kang confronted when he uncovered the murder plot against Hee-joo. Of course, Kang didn’t have to turn his mother in to the police, but if Joon doesn’t do something, Hye-mi is going to see to it that his grandmother is drugged for the rest of what’s left of her life.
Joon’s time at the hospice has had a profound effect on him, just as it’s had on Kang. Joon has actually warmed up to Young-sil, whose own family issues serve as an uncomfortable reminder about how immature he and Kang have been in their fight for the hospital. In the midst of his father’s distress that he may lose his mother, Joon hesitates to hurt him by revealing that he’s not a legitimate Geosung heir, but his grandmother is in terrible danger.
As awful as their grandmother has been, her rejection of Kang’s mother makes a tiny bit of sense in light of recent developments. Desperate to hand Geosung over to her husband’s legitimate son and then grandchild, Grandma needed to prevent any perceived weakness from hurting either one of them. That’s why she never accepted Kang’s mother and did her best to erase her memory. What I’m wondering is when exactly did Hye-mi learn that her husband wasn’t her father-in-law’s biological son? And if his suicide was precipitated by that revelation, who told him? Why did Kang’s father marry the maid’s daughter and throw away his birthright? I suspect that Hye-mi has been working behind the scenes for years to position herself to take over Geosung, supposedly for Joon’s benefit.
Of course, Kang knows nothing of the life and death drama at home, so he’s free to explore his early memories and his feelings for Cha-young, especially now that he knows that they met when they were young. Kang gave up chocolate after his mother died, fearful that he would return to Wando Island if he ever tasted it again. That promise that he made to Dong-du explains why. Kang really loved Dong-gu, he even wanted him as a stepfather, and the taste of chocolate would have reminded him of the kind man and a happier place. His connection to the young Cha-young will only reinforce how special Wando Island is. It may be that Hye-mi risked everything for no reason because I’m not sure that Kang is in any hurry to go back home.
- 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