Welcome: Episodes 13-14
The people around our heroine have a tendency to disappear without notice, which has left her hurt and afraid. Her housemate is going to have to take action to prove that he’s here to stay, now that he’s become as important to her as she is to him.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
After realizing her own feelings, Sol-ah smiles, “I think I can manage to be friends with you now.” She tells Jae-seon to go, confident that albeit late, Hong Jo will show up because he’d promised to be there for her. Seeing how serious Sol-ah’s being, he takes his leave.
The stranger brings Hong Jo into his home where he has a bulletin board covered with photos of cats. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.”
On his way home, Jae-seon comes across an abandoned bag of canned peaches, reminding him of Hong Jo’s earlier question about where he could buy the fruit. He finds Hong Jo’s collar on the ground and realizes that the cat is in trouble – he can’t transform without it.
Jae-seon searches for Hong Jo, not knowing that in that very moment, he’s being locked up in a cage. Sol-ah continues to wait in earnest until Jae-seon shows up with the bad news. She rushes home to check if Hong Jo’s there while Jae-seon continues to search the neighborhood.
When they reconvene, they’re disheartened that Hong Jo’s nowhere to be found. Jae-seon deduces that the collar couldn’t have come off by itself – someone must’ve taken it off.
Panicked, Sol-ah wants to search continue searching tonight but a level-headed Jae-seon reasons that if someone stole Hong Jo, then they won’t be able to find him right now. Seeing how afraid Sol-ah is, Jae-seon holds her steady and promises that he’ll be with her this time to look for him.
The next morning, the pair distribute flyers to passersby on the street, hoping someone will know of Hong Jo’s whereabouts. Sol-ah shares that ‘Guk-bong’ didn’t end up going home last night either and wonders if something happened to him too, though Jae-seon can’t tell her the truth.
The catnapper works at an autoshop and decides not to eat lunch with his coworkers. He opts to head home instead, which seems to be a regular occurrence.
Jae-seon and Sol-ah tape their “Missing Cat” posters around the neighborhood and realize that theirs is just one amongst many. Jae-seon notes that it’s as if someone has been kidnapping them all. They come across a lady who’s putting out dry kibble for strays and ask if she’s noticed any suspicious people lingering around the cats.
The lady mentions a kind man who not only feeds the strays quality food, but also takes them to hospitals. He treats their wounds and gets them neutered too. Although this man sounds caring, the truth is that Hong Jo is only one of many cats caged up in his house.
The lady doesn’t know how to contact him, but she does know where he works. That’s how our pair ends up at the autoshop where they learn that the man has taken off for the day. They reach a dead end when the boss declines giving them the employee’s personal information.
As a designer, Sol-ah can’t help but notice that they have a typo in their poster. Before leaving, the kind boss advises the pair to tap on car hoods. When it’s cold out, cats tend to take refuge by the warm car engines.
Later that night, that’s exactly what the catnapper is doing while holding a large burlap sack. Jae-seon spots him in an alley and upon seeing their posters, the man has the audacity to shame Sol-ah for not taking care of Hong Jo well.
Jae-seon asserts that Hong Jo was stolen, not lost, and the catnapper drawls, “He’s probably with a better owner now. Just mind your own business.” Quick-witted (and aided by the power of his cat allergy), Jae-seon asks to see what the man is carrying around. Caught, the stranger runs and drops the sack. Seeing that the bag has several cats in it solidifies their suspicions and a chase ensues.
The catnapper makes it home and although our two friends have lost sight of him, Hong Jo hears Sol-ah calling his name and meows loudly in response to make his presence known. Sol-ah hears his cries from outside an apartment complex and notices that one of the windows has been taped up with newspapers. She recognizes the flyer with the typo from the autoshop.
Inside, the catnapper grabs Hong Jo, apologizing while covering his mouth to hide his location. His landlady knocks on his door, fed up with the smell and cat cries. Annoyed, he sighs, “They’re not as noisy as humans. Humans smell more too, like you,” and ends the conversation there.
He finds the human Hong Jo waiting for him inside, confused as to how he got there. The catnapper stutters that he saved the cats, but Hong Jo thinks otherwise, “You locked them up and display them like objects.”
The man remarks that cats are as good as dead if they’re abandoned outside – they’d freeze or get into accidents. However, not every cat in this house was abandoned; some were stolen. He defends his actions by saying that some people, like Hong Jo, don’t deserve cats. They get one because it’s cute, but will end up leaving it outside.
When asked what right he has to collect cats, his only reason is that he likes and wants to be with them. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of Sol-ah and Jae-seon banging on the door. Hong Jo calmly tells the catnapper to let all the cats go, moving to take them out of their cages.
The catnapper grabs a fruit knife, trembling and pointing it towards himself, “They’re my cats. Without them, I can’t live either.” Seeing this, Hong Jo rushes to stop him from harming himself, getting cut along his forearm during the struggle.
Sol-ah and Jae-seon explain that they suspect the man of stealing their cat, and the landlady uses this as an opportunity to unlock the door to see what her tenant has done to the apartment. When the pair make it inside, Jae-seon is quick to spot Hong Jo in the corner, spinning Sol-ah around to give him time to transform.
While Sol-ah cries over Hong Jo, Jae-seon and the landlady are disturbed to discover that the man is an animal hoarder. The catnapper is unfazed at being found out, having just witnessed a human turning into a cat.
Hong Jo is kept overnight at the vet clinic, so Sol-ah returns to an empty house. She wonders if ‘Guk-bong’ went on a trip, sighing, “Cats are like that. They’re not around when you want them,” but then discovers Hong Jo waiting for her in the living room.
He apologizes for not keeping his promise but his ambiguous explanation of, “Even if I wanted to come to you, without you, I couldn’t be with you,” makes her scoff that everyone around her is like a cat. She’s accustomed to people having reasons that they can’t share – her own mother hid the fact that she had cancer until right before she passed away.
Sol-ah’s nightmare is that she asks people questions, but they don’t answer and disappear. Disappointed, she retreats to her room but once alone, she’s just glad that he’s still here, although she’s frustrated that she fell for another cat.
The next morning, Jae-seon deals with the aftermath of Hong Jo escaping from the vet and lightheartedly calls him a nuisance to take care of. As he complains, the phrasing reminds Hong Jo of Sol-ah’s words last night: “Why did you have to be a cat?” Hong Jo’s wordless disappearance caused Sol-ah to wait by herself – which is exactly what Jae-seon did to her.
Jae-seon had only meant to complain that that he was the only person who knew of Hong Jo’s secret and therefore the only one who could save him. “Unfortunately, you’re just an ungrateful cat who doesn’t even know how to thank me.”
This earns him a begrudging thanks – Hong Jo didn’t want to show gratitude because Jae-seon was there for Sol-ah when he couldn’t be, but Jae-seon says it’s only natural for him to be by her side.
Hong Jo had also thought it was a given for himself to be next to her, having gotten used to acting like a human. However, this incident was a reminder that he’s just a cat who can’t do anything without Sol-ah. Though he can’t believe Hong Jo’s consulting him about his feelings for Sol-ah, Jae-seon tells him that he didn’t hurt her, adding, “You’re not that important to her yet.”
They visit the rescued cats at a local shelter where Jae-seon busily snaps some pictures, hoping to help the stolen ones find their rightful owners and to get the strays adopted as soon as possible.
They’ll have to be put down if they’re still at the shelter after a month, and Hong Jo muses that the hoarder wasn’t wrong about abandoned cats dying. Grandma Stray was one of the cats that ended up being caged, so Hong Jo brings her to Dae-sung and his grandma.
At work, Sol-ah stares longingly at her phone so Doo-shik encourages her to call whoever it is she’s thinking of. She changes the topic and tasks him with checking up on Ji-eun, who’s still sick at home. He reluctantly agrees but wonders, “Why me?” Sol-ah returns to her own thoughts, wondering why she had to fall for a cat.
Sol-ah ends up calling Jae-seon throughout the day, hanging up whenever he confirms that the part-timer is nearby. He catches on and eventually asks if she wants to speak to ‘Guk-bong’, which she shyly objects to. Jae-seon tells her that he’s not at the café and jokes that maybe he went to Bolivia, but Sol-ah’s so worried that she leaves work early to run to Sonamu.
She denies it when Jae-seon asks if Hong Jo makes her that nervous, but he can see through it all. “You’re nervous that he might disappear without a word… like me.” Jae-seon gives Sol-ah the can of peaches he’d picked up, and she’s touched to learn that Hong Jo went searching for the fruit.
Jae-seon says, “I told you I’ll be your friend if you find someone new. But not him. I don’t approve of him.” The only reason he gave her the peaches is because he can’t stand seeing her be so nervous because of another guy.
When Sol-ah walks back to her house, she’s pleasantly surprised to find Hong Jo waiting for her with a smile. “Welcome home,” he greets. She’s just happy that he didn’t disappear.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Hong Jo and Sol-ah snack on the can of peaches at the park and she happily comments that not all cats are the same after all. Hong Jo can’t really explain why he couldn’t make it that night, so he goes with the truth – he fell asleep.
Shocked to hear that he passed out on the streets, Sol-ah assumes that he has a sleeping disorder. Hong Jo reaches over to wipe juice off the corner of her mouth, and she freezes from the contact. Embarrassed, she scuttles off with the excuse of having to pick up the cat, and Hong Jo sprints after her to lie that he already took care of that.
At home, Hong Jo quickly runs upstairs to transform and Sol-ah’s overjoyed to be reunited. She takes a call from Bang Shil, who’s surprised that her son hasn’t left yet. She wonders if he’ll finally settle down and shares that Soo-pyung has started writing poems again.
Bang Shil thanks Sol-ah for being her family, and the word has Sol-ah tossing and turning that night. She flip flops between realizing that she and ‘Guk-bong’ are family and reasoning that they’re not related by blood. She finally settles on categorizing him as someone who waits for her at home, but is distressed by the complicated family ties.
The next day, Hong Jo sunbathes outside with the grandma cat and Dae-sung, who wonders why cats sleep so much. Hong Jo wishes he didn’t have to sleep and learns something new from his little friend – drinking coffee will keep you up at night.
Dressed in sweats and looking frail, Ji-eun has lunch at Doo-shik’s family restaurant. She’s such a slow eater that Hyeon-ja feels frustrated and criticizes her, which Ji-eun hears. Doo-shik arrives for lunch, so shocked at the sight of Ji-eun that he blurts out, “Why are you eating here?”
He stutters that this is his family’s restaurant and finds out from his parents that she lives upstairs. Humiliated, she runs upstairs to cry before realizing that she forgot to pay.
Doo-shik explains their relationship as a high school classmate that he didn’t recognize who happens to be his senior at work. He mentions the eraser, calling it heavy and burdensome – which Ji-eun overhears, having returned to pay for her meal.
At Nalsaem, Doo-shik complains that Sol-ah should’ve told him earlier if she knew of Ji-eun’s feelings. He wouldn’t have worked so hard to win her favor if he had known. He wonders if Ji-eun is purposely following him around, but Sol-ah reminds him that she started working here before he did. Regardless, he thinks it’ll be hard to face her moving forward.
Hong Jo welcomes Sol-ah home with a cup of coffee, explaining that he can always be by her side as long as he drinks this to stay awake. He innocently declares, “I won’t sleep at all and will stay with you all night,” which makes Sol-ah so flustered that she spontaneously decides to sleep over at Ji-eun’s house.
He consults with Jae-seon, who tells him that cats can’t drink coffee. Jae-seon says that Sol-ah probably left suddenly because she felt uncomfortable, but doesn’t share why. Haha, if only you knew, Hong Jo.
Over some tteokbokki, Ji-eun learns of Sol-ah’s crush on her stepbrother. Ji-eun shares that he was crying so sorrowfully when she met him that it made her cry too.
Sol-ah thanks Ji-eun for listening to her story, but Ji-eun’s aware that she actually came to comfort her, knowing that she must’ve heard about her failed confession. She’s unable to stop her tears from falling, which sets off the waterworks for Sol-ah too. Soon, both are a sobbing mess.
While Jae-seon works on making the cat tower, Hong Jo does some thinking on the roof. He causes the ceiling to shake and Jae-seon realizes there’s no need for him to work on his project, “I already have a gigantic cat tower here.”
The next day, Jae-seon pokes Hong Jo who’s lounging around in cat form, asking, “Are you not going to work?” The cat growls that he’s working, attracting a lot of attention from the customers. He looks pointedly at Jae-seon, who admits he’s doing a good job. So cute.
Ji-eun and Sol-ah head to work together, finally wrapping up their project with Doo-shik. The trio’s celebration is short-lived, as Ji-eun accepts the client’s many revision requests. Doo-shik criticizes her for saying “okay” to everything, and she excuses herself for some fresh air.
Outside, Hong Jo’s waiting on the bench so Ji-eun offers to get Sol-ah for him, though he declines. As they sit, a flyer hits her face and she sighs to see that people are throwing them on the floor. She runs around picking them up and Hong Jo points out that Doo-shik is about to throw one out.
Without hesitation, she calls out to stop him, explaining that these are her drawings. Doo-shik insensitively asks why she considers it her drawing. “All you did was draw what others asked you to and revise it as they wanted.”
Ji-eun snatches the poster from him and says that she contemplated working elsewhere since she makes him uncomfortable, but she wants to draw so she’ll keep doing it. She starts to trail off that she still likes it and will continue to like it.
Doo-shik bluntly tells her that she’s pretty burdensome, but helps her pick up the posters as Hong Jo smiles at the sight.
They continue working until night falls, when Ji-eun remembers to tell Sol-ah that she saw Hong Jo outside. The bench is empty when Sol-ah heads out to look for him, and she sits there wondering why he’d cried.
She smiles when she sees a familiar shadow puppet and invites Hong Jo to sit, but he just states that she should sleep at home tonight – he’ll move if he makes her uncomfortable. She’s alarmed that he’ll be with a person he likes, but tries to stay cool.
At home, she’s disappointed that Hong Jo’s really gone, but is happy to see her cat. She prepares a treat and sighs, “Why does he have to be Bang Guk-bong?”
Sol-ah tells Hong Jo in confidence, “I wish Bang Guk-bong wasn’t Bang Guk-bong.” She’d be okay with him being anyone else – even a cat – because then, she can confess her feelings for him. “I’d ask him to stay with me and not leave,” she declares while Hong Jo takes in her words.
She kisses the cat to demonstrate what she’d do to ‘Guk-bong’ and Hong Jo escapes her grasp. When Sol-ah searches for the cat, she spots Hong Jo on the roof in human form and is invited to join. Looking out at the moon, he shares that this is the place that he likes.
Sol-ah expectantly asks who he likes, and Hong Jo stares into her eyes, confessing again, “I’m not Bang Guk-bong.” She thinks he’s referring to her blushing when he tells her his real name, and he closes the distance between their lips.
The case of Hong Jo’s kidnapping wrapped up quicker and easier than I’d imagined. The stranger was already creepy lingering around Sol-ah’s house before, but that was when I thought he knew of Hong Jo’s ability. When I revisit those scenes of him peering into the house, I’m now 100 times more disturbed by his actions. You can’t just see a beautiful cat and start to snoop around its home!? I thought that Hong Jo brought up an interesting comparison between the cats being caged in the catnapper’s home and being caged (and potentially facing euthanization) at the shelter. I wish that the show explored the heavier topics relating to animals more, because there’s only so much I can take of Sol-ah wondering if the men around her are going to disappear.
I was really happy that she stood up to Jae-seon last week and realizing that she needed someone who made her feel secure. She’s a strong woman around everybody else, but with Jae-seon, she was always submissive and never really seemed to be able to act like herself around him. Now that she’s into Hong Jo, she’s reverting back to that girl in love who’s always on edge, waiting for something bad to happen. I understand why she’s concerned, but I can’t really say that I see the growth that I’d hoped for.
Comparatively, the discovery of Hong Jo’s identity has allowed Jae-seon to learn to become more vocal in his relationships with others, and I’m having a blast watching him interact with his human-cat part-timer. I would have a blast if the rest of the show was just about Hong Jo working at Sonamu, if I’m being honest. Hong Jo’s begrudging show of gratitude to his savior is as hilarious as it is adorable. He’s sassy and honest when it comes to Jae-seon, and I believe that he teaches Jae-seon as much as he learns from him.
Jae-seon has taken a more active approach with Sol-ah lately, using his words to reassure her and being very present in her times of need. I know that 10 years is a long time to be wishy washy, but Sol-ah did not voice her concerns until recently. In this short amount of time though, he’s owned up to his actions and has shown signs of growth, which I think is deserving of praise. He’s got a long way to go, but… I’m rooting for him.
That’s why I’ve got to say that I’m not interested in Sol-ah’s budding romantic interest towards Hong Jo. On paper, I understand why she’s drawn to him. He listens to her and shows her through actions that he’s thoughtful and mindful of her. Quite honestly though, I thought that Ji-eun and Hong Jo had more chemistry during their short interactions than our leads do. However, I do love seeing Sol-ah’s growing affection and attachment to a cat that she was so against taking in!
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