Chocolate: Episode 14
After his return from his hometown, our doctor finds his life in flux, both personally and professionally. Determined to win our chef’s heart, he’s never far away and some unexpected news places them near the ocean once again. Finally ready to move on from the tragedy of her childhood, our chef reaches out to the doctor with a very important tale to tell.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Kang visits his grandmother at the hospital where he’s scolded for not answering his aunt’s calls. Seo-hoon ignores Hye-mi’s presence to complain that she took advantage of Kang’s absence to take over the hospital. When Grandma asks about his visit to Wando, Kang confesses that he didn’t want to return so she throws a pillow at him and yells, “Then go back!”
Joon lays flowers at his grandfather’s (not really) grave as Seung-hoon tries to figure out why they’re there. Seung-hoon fondly remembers that his father found his imperfections endearing and that he was never impressed with Kang’s father. When Seung-hoon asks his son if he has something say, Joon dodges the question, “I don’t remember. I forgot.”
Once he’s back at the hospice, Kang recalls confessing to Cha-young in Wando and looks in the direction of the kitchen. Inside, Cha-young asks Tae-hyun to taste a finished dish but he whines that he’s stuffed. Cha-young reminds him that he’s only supposed take one bite but Tae-hyun protests that since she lost her ability to taste and smell, her food is irresistible.
When Kang walks in and asks, “Can I also have a bite,” Tae-hyun deliberately pushes Cha-young in his direction. He brings up Wando and teases, “Are you sure nothing happened between you two,” and when Kang confirms it, Tae-hyun grumbles on his way out.
Kang offers to taste more of Cha-young’s cooking and when she chooses a quick dish, he hurries to ask about his question, which she never answered. A flustered Cha-young still doesn’t answer him so Kang assures her, “I’m going to keep liking you regardless of your answer.” When Kang helps to add ingredients to the pan, their hands touch and he confesses, “But of course, I’d ask for nothing more if you also liked me back.”
As Kang sits down to eat the finished meal, he admits that he was afraid that Cha-young would run away. After a stranger chases Nurse Na-ra into the kitchen, Cha-young is alarmed when Kang confronts him.
Na-ra gets dragged out of the hospice by her father with Young-shil and Director Kwon close behind. Na-ra’s father is upset that after paying for her education, she’s working at a hospice instead of a hospital. When the scary dad snaps at Young-shil after she tries to intervene, she pushes the girl away and waves, “Bye, Na-ra.”
Director Kwon reasons that Na-ra’s exit is for the best since he was instructed to stop accepting new patients. While Young-shil absorbs the news that the hospice is actually closing, Director Kwon asks about Kang because he heard that Na-ra’s dad hit him.
Cha-young finds Kang on the roof where he lies that his aching jaw doesn’t hurt at all. Cha-young presses a rubber glove filled with ice to his face while explaining that Na-ra’s father is the infamous detective, Crazy Dog, known for wiping out the local gangsters.
Kang grabs the glove and when their hands touch, Cha-young pulls away. Kang confesses that he was hiding out of embarrassment after he failed to impress the person that he likes. It’s Cha-young’s turn to be embarrassed and when she turns to leave, Kang decides, “I’ll just go ahead and assume that you came because you were so worried about me.”
Just when Cha-young reaches the kitchen, Joon texts her for advice because he’s hungry but can’t seem to eat. He’s at the kiln when Cha-young sends him a list of ingredients and after a quick shopping trip, he’s soon cooking over an open fire. As Joon’s meal comes together, we hear Cha-young’s recommendation that kimchi fried rice is perfect whenever you’re distressed.
While Joon cooks, he remembers asking his dad during the visit to Grandpa’s grave, “Kang and I. Why must we fight? I feel like I knew why in the past. But I can’t remember.”
Just as Kang returns to his office, Joon calls to ask if he’s had lunch. When Kang arrives at Joon’s location, he’s surprised to learn about his interest in pottery and that Joon is playing hooky on his first day back at the hospital. As Joon cooks, he notes, “Pork belly tastes best with soju. “Kang offers to buy some, but Joon refuses, “I won’t drink with you.”
As they eat, Kang eyes his cousin and asks, “Do I have something on you?” Joon grunts, “Yes,” but he won’t give Kang any details. When Joon turns down Kang’s second offer to get some soju, Kang announces that he’s leaving. Before he goes, Joon rattles off the names of two influential Geosung Foundation directors who aren’t happy that Hye-mi was appointed chairwoman and suggests that Kang should contact them.
When Kang returns to his car, he thinks back to the Spring of 1995. He saw Joon kneeling before his mother while she scolded him for not understanding her English even though he’d studied abroad. Hye-mi had warned, “Kang may seem dumb, but he’s actually a very scary kid.” Joon’s two wrong test questions earned him ten lashes and while Hye-mi hit the back of his legs with a ruler, Kang winced.
Joon sits in front of the fire and recalls what happened after his beating. Kang had found his cousin and admitted that he couldn’t understand why his status as top student wasn’t enough. Kang had tried to lift Joon’s spirits with a chocolate truffle but the boy told him to go back home and swatted it away. Distressed, Kang had cried, “I’m not someone scary…I’m a human being, not a monster.” In the present, the cousins brood over their shared memory by themselves.
When Young-shil hears music on the hospice grounds, she informs the musician that he has to stop and recognizes the man that she saw in Michael’s mother’s neighborhood. Min Dae-sik smiles at Young-shil and asks, “You’re not married, are you?”
Young-shil takes in the results of Dae-sik’s plastic surgery, calling it a miracle that he survived the gangsters’ beating. Dae-sik protests when Young-shil treats him like a child but she reminds him that she did change his diapers when he was a baby.
The mood changes when Dae-sik confesses why he’s grateful that he didn’t die, “…so I can see you again like this.” Dae-sik steps closer and confesses that he sought out Young-shil to ask her a question, “Back then, why did you dump me?” Flustered, Young-shil runs back into the hospice.
Later, Young-shil takes some candy to Seon-ae’s restaurant and gently shares that Ye-sol’s mother passed away peacefully after her wedding. As they share the snack, Young-shil asks Seon-ae if she’s given up on making Director Kwon a meal. She protests when Seon-ae suggests that Young-shil should cook for the director because they would make a cute couple.
Young-shil announces that she has an admirer who’s seven years her junior but Seon-ae isn’t convinced. Young-shil changes the subject by suggesting that Director Kwon’s favorite dish, bossam kimchi, would cheer him up after learning that the hospice is shutting down.
After Young-shil leaves, Seon-ae gets to work making bossam kimchi. Cha-young arrives for a visit just as Seon-ae is packing it up and she shouts that she’s not there. Cha-young scolds Tae-hyun when she sees the mess that he made sorting black and white rice but he argues that the exercise will prevent dementia.
It seems Tae-hyun once prayed for dementia and now that his prayers are being answered, he’s worried. Cornered by the vacuum, Tae-hyun blurts out an address and tells Cha-young it’s where their mother lives.
When Kang returns to the hospice, the only person in the kitchen is Gyeong-soo (the grumpy kitchen help from Episode 5), Seon-ae’s replacement. As he leaves the kitchen, Kang gets a call from Hye-mi.
Cha-young arrives at the address that Tae-hyun gave her and sees that everything has been marked for seizure. Cha-young shows a local woman a photo of her mother and learns that she lived with the man who owned the house and ran away after using it to secure a loan.
The woman rants that her friend lost everything yet he goes to the bus stop every morning hoping that the woman will come back. Cha-young finds the man at the bus stop and remembers her mother’s promise to buy her a birthday present at the department store. Cha-young approaches him and when he explains that he’s waiting for his wife, she admits, “I waited for her too…and 20 years have passed…but she never showed up.”
The man doesn’t understand, so Cha-young explains that in spite of her mother’s lie, she’s waited all this time for her return. Cha-young tearfully vows, “But starting today, I won’t. So you should stop waiting for her too.”
Tae-hyun wipes away his tears while a track plays in his room at a noraebang. He tries to rap along to the song but he can’t stand the suspense and texts Cha-young for an update. Insisting that he doesn’t care, Tae-hyun looks conflicted when Cha-young texts back that she didn’t find their mother.
After taking 500,000 won out of her bank account, Cha-young finds the local woman at her restaurant and hands her an envelope. Cha-young asks her to feed the bankrupted owner of the vacation house and promises more money when it runs out.
Kang meets with Hye-mi and when he asks her to reconsider shutting down the hospice, she reminds him that she has the authority to do what she wants. As Hye-mi attempts to discuss Kang’s future, his phone rings with a call from Cha-young. Hye-mi is visibly annoyed when Kang answers it and insists that he’s not busy.
After learning that Cha-young is in South Chungcheong Province, Kang promises to join her in two hours. When Hye-mi protests, Kang argues that since the hospice won’t be closing, he doesn’t need to hear what she has to say. Explaining that he has something important to take care of, Kang walks out.
Seon-ae arrives at the hospice with the bossam kimchi but she can’t bring herself to deliver it. She sits by the side of the road to think but when she looks up, Seon-ae has no idea where she is.
Seon-ae paces on a nearby bridge and when Seung-hoon’s car stops, she doesn’t recognize him. After he introduces himself as Hyeon-seok’s friend, Seon-ae gushes, “I’m on my way to drop off lunch I made for my husband. He’s been working…for days.”
At the hospice, Seung-hoon tries to enlist Director Kwon’s help to prevent an employee strike once word about the hospice gets out. Director Kwon grabs a baseball bat that he brought to play with a young patient and points it at Seung-hoon. As Seung-hoon runs out, he scolds Director Kwon for leaving his ex-wife to wander around on her own.
Director Kwon runs out to the street and finds Seon-ae crying over the bossam kimchi that’s now all over the road. When Seon-ae sees Director Kwon, she calls him, “Honey,” and explains that when a truck scared her, she dropped his lunch.
In Boryeong, Kang finds Cha-young grilling clams in a restaurant and she confesses, “Eating delicious food suddenly made me think of you.” Kang beams and thanks Cha-young for the call but when she frets that he must be busy, he confesses that it’s his day off — he only went to work to see her. After they sweetly place a grilled clam on each other’s plates, Cha-young announces, “I’m going to tell you a long story.”
On the beach, Cha-young walks just ahead of Kang and confesses that she met her first love when he made her a home-cooked meal and didn’t charge her. He promised her chocolate truffles if she returned but her parents got into a fight and the family went back to Seoul.
Kang stops when Cha-young admits that she returned to Wando a year later and learned that the boy had moved to Seoul. After Cha-young tells Kang, “Then I grew up and met him again, like a miracle,” he remembers warning her that he wasn’t interested in dating when she was in the hospital for her appendectomy.
Cha-young continues with her story, “I tried to forget him…But there were days when I couldn’t stop thinking about him… which made my heart flutter and sad at the same time…” Kang is surprised to learn that Cha-young and Min-sung met when she returned to the bench where their paths crossed after hearing about his accident in Libya.
As Kang digests what he’s just heard, he walks ahead by himself and Cha-young is saddened as the distance between them grows. Kang looks out over the ocean and recalls the unhappiness on Cha-young’s face the day that Min-sung introduced them and her explanation when they broke up, “I’m in love with someone else.”
After realizing what Cha-young means to him, Kang walks back, telling himself, “Let’s stop talking about Min-sung…How about we only talk about us from now on? As if it’s always been just the two of us from the very beginning.” Taking Cha-young’s face in his hands, Kang kisses her and pulls her into a tight embrace.
The sea serves as the backdrop for Kang’s and Cha-young’s relationship, from the time of their childhood to the present. So it makes perfect sense that their first kiss takes place on a beach just as the sun is setting. The smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves, it’s all a reminder of what makes Kang happy and it helped to be in that setting when Cha-young finally told him the truth. Instead of feeling guilty because he has feelings for Min-sung’s ex-girlfriend, Kang finally learns that he was in her heart first and that it was Min-sung who came between them.
That knowledge makes their kiss extra special, because in telling Kang about her years long love for him, Cha-young gives him the answer to his question. Yes it’s okay to like her, it’s been her wish for so long. And as they kissed, Kang accepted that Cha-young was always meant to be with him and that it was his misunderstandings that kept them apart. I would be so much happier for them but there are more revelations coming and I can’t imagine how Cha-young will feel when she learns that the woman who saved her life was Kang’s mother. Kang never allowed himself to grieve for his mother and if he learns about Cha-young’s connection to her, he won’t be able to avoid that pain any longer. But it’s time for Kang to deal with his loss, just like Cha-young had to face the loss of her mother once and for all.
Which is part of the message in this drama, that it’s necessary to make peace with the past to be free of it. Kang and Cha-young are getting there, while Director Kwon and Seon-ae are about to relive it. Whatever really happened between Director Kwon and Seon-ae is about to finally come to light as her mind returns to the time that they were married. Seon-ae is suddenly a young woman who can’t wait to see her hardworking intern husband, so what happened? Did she find out that she couldn’t have children and decided to hurt her husband so deeply to force a split? Then there’s Young-shil and the younger man that she once babysat. There’s an unresolved attraction there based on Young-shil’s panicked reaction when Dae-sik asked why she dumped him. The late introduction of a romantic interest for Young-shil feels a bit rushed, but I’ll deal with it, especially when it continues the theme of coming to terms with the past.
As the romance surges forward, the fight for control of the hospital takes an interesting turn with the impending closure of the hospice. Kang may not be super interested in the hospital, but he cares very much about the hospice. In her attempt to marginalize Kang, Hye-mi has awakened a tiger just as Joon is taking baby steps towards his cousin to help him displace her. Even though it’s difficult to overcome years of resentment, Joon now knows that Kang never wanted to be at odds with him. In fact, that flashback to Hye-mi’s warning that Kang was scary proves that she used him to push Joon harder, exactly what she accused Grandma of doing only in reverse.
As Cha-young and Kang continue on their bumpy road to happiness (I hope!) and with Joon ready to treat his cousin more like an ally than an enemy, their futures don’t look so lonely. Because our trio has certainly been plagued by loneliness for a long time. Not only am I looking forward to seeing Kang enjoy chocolate again, like SailorJumun mentioned, I’m hoping the cousins will finally share a bottle of soju (or more). If everyone can move on from the pain of their pasts, their futures hold the promise of love, togetherness and delicious food.
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