Crash Landing on You: Episode 9
The stakes are getting higher the longer our heroine stays in North Korea, not the least of which are the emotional stakes. No matter how many times her protectors try to help her get home, it never gets any easier to say goodbye.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Se-ri is walking back to Jung-hyuk’s house carrying the watch she traded with the pawn broker when she’s kidnapped at gunpoint by several unidentified men. They force her to call Jung-hyuk and tell him she’s leaving the country with Seung-joon, but Jung-hyuk can sense that something is wrong and begs her to say where she is. Se-ri manages to sob, “Ri Jung-hyuk, I love you,” then all he hears is a gunshot and silence.
Thankfully, Se-ri is fine — the gun went off when she pushed one of her captor’s arms as he wrestled the phone from her, and the bullet went through the truck’s canvas top. But Jung-hyuk doesn’t know that, and he fights back tears as he tries to call Seung-joon with shaking hands.
It’s dark when he makes it home, and there’s a crowd around his house. Chul-kang is there with soldiers from the State Security Department, searching the house for Se-ri. When Jung-hyuk sees that they’ve damaged his tomato plant, he confronts Chul-kang, who sneers that Se-ri doesn’t belong to Division 11.
He says that he plans to use her to destroy Jung-hyuk and his entire family, and gets graphic about the ways he intends to torture Se-ri when he finds her. Jung-hyuk punches him, which gets Jung-hyuk beaten and arrested and taken to the State Security Department.
As Se-ri is being taken away, she tries to think of happy things. Everything that comes to mind involves Jung-hyuk — the way he makes her ramyun by hand, how he now knows the difference between regular and scented candles, and how he always says he’s fine even when he’s standing on a land mine. Eventually Se-ri is tossed into what looks like an attic and left alone.
The next day, the ducklings visit Jung-hyuk at the State Security Department, and they blame Chi-soo for telling Dan’s mother everything he knows about Se-ri. Determined to learn who was behind Se-ri’s kidnapping, Jung-hyuk requests that Dan visit him.
Dan is bitter that the first time Jung-hyuk has ever asked to see her, it’s because of another woman. Jung-hyuk asks her if she approached his father to get involved, but Dan refuses to answer his questions, snaps that Se-ri is dead, and tells him to stay locked up until their wedding day. Jung-hyuk tells Dan to let his father know that if Se-ri is harmed, he’ll lose the only son he has left.
Man-bok’s son, Woo-pil, finds the watch that Se-ri dropped when she was kidnapped, and he takes it to his dad. Man-bok recognizes it as MH’s watch, so he shoves it in his pocket and warns Woo-pil not to tell anyone about it.
Jung-hyuk gives the ducklings a mission to spread the rumor that hid father is the director of the GPB. He’s sure that his father won’t get him freed, but he hopes that someone else will hear whose son he is.
They “gossip” about it in the men’s room where several soldiers overhear, though when they’re alone, Chi-soo admits that he thinks it’s a big fat lie. It’s not long before the gossip reaches the village wives, and Young-ae takes the news home to the senior colonel, threatening him to fix it or else.
Eventually Se-ri is taken downstairs to meet with her captor. Unaware that he’s Jung-hyuk’s father, she assumes he’s Dan’s father, so she humblebrags about how she runs a big company in South Korea so she doesn’t want to cause any trouble, and says she had no ulterior motives for getting Jung-hyuk’s help.
Director Ri asks if she’s saying this is all Jung-hyuk’s fault. Se-ri vehemently protests that Jung-hyuk did nothing wrong, and even tells Director Ri how she threatened Jung-hyuk to help her. She confesses that she somehow started having feelings for Jung-hyuk, but that he doesn’t return her feelings, as Jung-hyuk’s mother listens from just outside the room.
Se-ri switches to flattery and says that Jung-hyuk hasn’t been able to get her home because he’s just a captain, and she appeals to Director Ri’s obvious power for help. He doesn’t fall for it and has her dragged back to the attic. But Mom’s heart was moved, so she personally brings Se-ri her next meal.
Even though she still doesn’t know who’s holding her captive, Se-ri asks Mom if she knows how Jung-hyuk is. Mom is touched again by Se-ri’s caring for her son, so she takes her downstairs to a real bedroom. The bookcase seems familiar to Se-ri, and she suddenly remembers that she saw Dan’s mother at the hospital and this woman isn’t her… and deduces that she’s in Jung-hyuk’s room, in his parents’ house.
Meanwhile, Director Ri reads an article about Se-ri and discovers that she was telling the truth about being a wealthy businesswoman. His assistant warns that sending her back to South Korea will cause a huge disturbance, so he offers to “take care of her” right away, but Director Ri sighs that she should at least have one good night’s sleep.
Se-ri can’t sleep, so she finds an old photo album and looks at younger pictures of Jung-hyuk. In his childhood diary, he’d written I want to be a world-famous pianist. Se-ri goes to the old piano in the room and wonders how Jung-hyuk ended up a soldier instead, as she plays the song she heard once, far away in Switzerland.
The senior colonel goes to see the director of the State Security Department, hoping to get Jung-hyuk released (and get on his father’s good side). The director makes it clear that it’s completely impossible to release a man who assaulted a senior officer — until he learns who Jung-hyuk is, and suddenly what Jung-hyuk did wasn’t technically assault and it’s not fair to keep him locked up, ha.
Once Jung-hyuk is out, the senior colonel sidles up to him all friendly (lol, Jung-hyuk’s face). He tells him to take a week off, and to come to his house for a meal. Jung-hyuk instead asks for a favor, and soon he’s driving a military vehicle to Pyongyang to see his father.
Over ramyun, Se-ri compliments Jung-hyuk’s mother’s cooking and says that Jung-hyuk must have gotten his kind heart from her. Mom recalls how cold Jung-hyuk is around Dan, and she tells Se-ri that it’s been a long time since Jung-hyuk showed anyone that side of himself.
Jung-hyuk demands to see Se-ri, then nearly cries as he asks his father if she’s dead. His father asks if he’s even worried about his future, and Jung-hyuk says that he’s worried he’ll look back on this day and regret that he couldn’t save her.
Se-ri is hiding with his mother and asks her not to tell him she’s there. But Mom tells her husband that she won’t let their son live in such a hell, and she pulls Se-ri into the room. Both Se-ri’s and Jung-hyuk’s eyes fill up with tears as they confirm that they’re both okay, and even Director Ri gapes in disbelief at the obvious love between them.
Once everyone calms down, they all sit to talk. Jung-hyuk pouts like a child when his father snaps at him for hiding Se-ri and risking them all, hee. He says this is all his fault, but Director Ri tells him that Se-ri claims it’s all her fault, so Jung-hyuk confesses that the entire reason he didn’t report her was because he didn’t want her to get hurt.
Seung-joon meets up with Dan in a bar, where she’s already been drinking quite a bit. Against his will, she tells him how she met Jung-hyuk — it was back in school, and Jung-hyuk had been very popular. Dan had fallen for him immediately, and although Jung-hyuk never really talked to her, Dan believed they had a connection.
So, when she was older, she asked for him as her arranged husband. She’d gone to Switzerland where he was studying, and ouch, he hadn’t even recognized her when he first saw her. When she’d told him who she was, Jung-hyuk had introduced himself as if they were strangers.
Dan complains to Seung-joon that she knew Jung-hyuk long before he met Se-ri, but Seung-joon says bluntly that it doesn’t matter. Dan steals his shot, drops to banmal, and curses at him (which is pretty adorable), and Seung-joon grumbles that he has no idea why Jung-hyuk wouldn’t be attracted to her, hee.
He fusses at Dan for making his heart flutter, and she admits that he’s not so bad, himself. Just as he’s preening under the compliment, Dan tsks that it’s a waste, and that this is all his fault for getting dumped by Se-ri. LOL. Seung-joon ends up piggybacking Dan home, and her mother has to pay the elevator attendant to say she didn’t see an engaged woman being carried home by another man.
Jung-hyuk goes to his old room to see Se-ri, and she asks him about his dream to be a famous pianist, but he just says it’s in the past. Se-ri gets up to play the song she heard in Switzerland, hoping he may have heard it before, and when Jung-hyuk recognizes his own song he goes white as a sheet.
He sits down, and perfectly describes the day he played it on the dock. He tells Se-ri that he wrote the song for his brother, and that it was the first and last time he ever played it. As he plays, Se-ri is transported back to that dock in Switzerland.
Stunned, she tells Jung-hyuk that she wanted to die back then, but that his song saved her life. Jung-hyuk looks moved, but all he says is that tomorrow, she’s going home.
Chul-kang goes to see the Military Director of the Central Committee again, the man who would most benefit if Director Ri were no longer in power. He shows the military director some photos of the vehicle that took Se-ri to Director Ri’s house, correctly guessing that she must be there now.
They go to Director Ri’s house, bringing along a squad of soldiers. Director Ri seems unbothered, and the military director is effusively apologetic as Chul-kang insists on searching the house.
Back near the DMZ, an emergency personnel switch is announced, due to a soldier defecting. Chi-soo is upset that their squadron is being put back on the DMZ early, and he takes this as proof that Jung-hyuk isn’t really Director Ri’s son. But Kwang-bum reveals that actually, Jung-hyuk’s request of the senior colonel was for them to be put back on the front lines, so that he can get Se-ri to the border.
Nothing is found at Director Ri’s house, as Se-ri has already been taken back to the village by Jung-hyuk. Chul-kang angrily accuses Director Ri of harboring both Jung-hyuk and Se-ri, but Director Ri smoothly says that his son is at the frontline. Chul-kang doubles down and yelps that Jung-hyuk is helping Se-ri get to the south, so the military director smacks him and has him dragged out.
Jung-hyuk and the ducklings lead Se-ri to a small cabin where they usually bunk down when they’re on frontline duty. Se-ri is surprised to learn that there used to be a village there, and Chi-soo tells her that there are still photographs inside the house of the family’s son, who he believes fought in the war.
They sit together, sad to think that they’ll never see each other again after tonight. Eun-dong gets weepy, thinking about his family, who he won’t see until his discharge in almost ten years. Chi-soo tells Se-ri to go home and never return or he’ll bury her, but his words no longer carry any heat, and Se-ri knows what he’s really saying — that he’ll miss her.
Back in Seoul, Se-ri’s stepmother and her sisters-in-law go to her apartment. Stepmom lets them in, remembering that Se-ri once told her that her passcode is her birthday: “The day I almost died.” She sits quietly, seeming to grieve as she recalls the last time she was here, at Christmas a year ago.
She had tried unsuccessfully to convince Se-ri not to list her company, accusing her of doing it to make herself look better than her brothers to their father and inherit everything. She’d blamed Se-ri’s supposed greed for their bad relationship, but Se-ri had said that she worked hard for her company and would do what’s best for it.
Stepmom has to stop her daughters-in-law as Hye-ji tries to steal Se-ri’s designer purses, and Sang-ah takes pictures of Se-ri’s business papers. She notices all of Se-ri’s awards, and photos of Se-ri with famous people. Among them is a picture of herself, that she never knew was snapped by Se-ri last Christmas.
After dark, Jung-hyuk walks Se-ri to the border, keeping close to a line of stones that delineate a land-mine-free path. She tells him breezily that she’ll be fine, and that she’ll soon be back to her old life of working, earning money, and dating men. He gets grumpy at the idea of her dating and remembers that she once said they should have a post-breakup condolence period. He’s so cute.
She recalls that he had told her to go back to her old life right away, and he pouts that he didn’t mean she should immediately start dating. Charmed, Se-ri agrees not to date for six months. She says it really was fate that they met in Switzerland, then again in North Korea.
Jung-hyuk takes back what he said and tells her to date like nothing ever happened. But he forbids her to be lonely, or to consider disappearing again: “I won’t be by your side, but I will always hope that you won’t be lonely. Be happy until the end of your life. I would be grateful if you do that.”
Back at their camp, the ducklings realize that it’s not very far to the border, so Jung-hyuk should be back by now. Chi-soo realizes that Jung-hyuk just wanted to spend more time with Se-ri, as he’s known to have a great sense of direction at night.
Meanwhile, Jung-hyuk deliberately walks in circles, claiming to Se-ri (with an adorable smirk) that he’s got a terrible sense of direction at night. But eventually they make it to the border, and Jung-hyuk says that Se-ri will have to go the rest of the way alone, because he’s not allowed to take one more step.
He tells her that he’ll never forget the woman who fell from the skies, and Se-ri says, in her endearingly haughty way, “I didn’t fall… I descended.” Slowly, Se-ri makes her way to the wire denoting the border between their countries… then she steps over it.
She’s crying but she doesn’t look back, so she’s surprised when a hand grabs her and whirls her around. It’s Jung-hyuk, who says, “A single step should be okay,” just before he kisses her.
While Se-ri was staying in Jung-hyuk’s old room, she had rearranged some of his books. After she was done, Jung-hyuk had seen that the first syllables of the books’ titles spelled out, “I love you, Ri Jung-hyuk.”
These two are going to kill me with their repeated, distraught goodbyes! In any other show this would be a running joke by now, but in Jung-hyuk and Se-ri’s situation, it makes sense that they keep trying to get her home but keep being thwarted by circumstances. But because they continue trying, each goodbye feels like it really, truly might be the last one, and each time they’re more emotional and more upset by the thought that they won’t ever see each other again. It’s heartbreaking! Now they’ve pretty much confessed their mutual feelings for each other, it’s so painful to think of them loving each other and never even being able to communicate.
Speaking of which, I’m hopeful of a happy ending but I’m not holding my breath. I fully expect Crash Landing on You to end with a painful separation. It would be lovely to see another outcome… my dream ending would be for Jung-hyuk to find a way to live in South Korea with Se-ri. He could continue to play piano and nurture his gentle, artistic soul, and Se-ri could take over her father’s business and get her two horrible brothers out of there. They just so clearly belong together, and while I would understand if that doesn’t happen, I can’t help but want it badly.
My feelings for Dan are so complicated, I go back and forth between sympathizing with her and being angry at her for how she behaves. This episode just made things more confusing, now that we see that Dan has had feelings for Jung-hyuk for many years, and has actually been waiting very patiently for him to marry her. It makes more sense now why she feels some “ownership” of him, having known him longer than Se-ri has and having been engaged for so long, and it’s no wonder she’s bitter that he fell for another woman after knowing her for such a short time. Anyone in her position would be having all sorts of negative feelings, so I’m glad that she has Seung-joon to tell her when her expectations, understandable though they are, just aren’t realistic.
And then there’s Se-ri, who gets people to love her without even trying. I adore how effortlessly Se-ri manages to win people over just by being herself, as flawed and fake-humble and yet genuine as she is. She’s truly a person who means nobody any harm, not even people she doesn’t like such as Chi-soo (at the beginning, anyway — now they luffs each other and I’m all about it). Even Jung-hyuk’s mother, who has every reason to resent a strange foreign woman shaking up her son’s stable life, and his father who had planned to have her killed, ended up fond of Se-ri because of her unabashed admiration of Jung-hyuk. If we can just get some of these people (along with Man-bok — come on, sir, I know you are strong enough!) to start actively helping them, maybe there’s hope that they can someday be together?
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