Welcome: Episodes 15-16
Our feline learns more about what it means to be a cat who can become human, forcing him to make a difficult decision. Before he can take action, our heroine mounts an aggressive campaign to keep him close and he’s tempted to rethink his plans.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
It’s morning and Sol-ah squeals under her covers as she remembers Hong Jo’s kiss. Seeing her cat, Sol-ah accuses him of telling Guk-bong that she wanted him to kiss her. Sol-ah confesses, “I want to do it again,” and squeals some more until her blanket is pulled away. Seeing the human Hong Jo, Sol-ah leans in for another kiss but they’re interrupted by the doorbell.
Outside, Jae-seon readies himself to tell Sol-ah the truth but it’s Hong Jo who answers the door. When Hong Jo complains that it’s too early for him to drop by, Jae-son reminds him that he’d often wake up Sol-ah before school so they could have porridge together.
Hong Jo happens to know that porridge makes Sol-ah sick, unlike the tteokbokki that he gets her. The men argue about how well they know Sol-ah until a smug Hong Jo reminds Jae-seon that he knows her best because he sleeps with her (as a cat of course). Before Hong Jo goes back inside, Jae-seon asks, “What’s the use of knowing all that? Sol-ah doesn’t know who you are.”
Sol-ah joins them and Jae-seon is upset when she confirms that she sleeps with her cat. Hong Jo’s satisfied smile disappears when Jae-seon suggests to Sol-ah that it’s time to have her cat neutered. Ha!
A quote by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson tells us, “Cats exist so they could teach us this one thing about life. If we can completely immerse ourselves to a moment, it can turn into an eternity.”
Ready for work, Sol-ah tries to sneak out so that she doesn’t have to face Hong Jo, embarrassed because of their kiss. When Hong Jo calls out to her with coffee, Sol-ah covers her face and he asks what’s wrong. Sol-ah reminds ‘Guk-bong’ that they need to think of their parents’ happiness and when he tries explain that’s not who he is, she asks him to wait until after work and runs away.
Sitting by the river with his grandmother cat by his side, Hong Jo vows, “I’m going to tell her who I really am.” Assuring Grandma that he and Sol-ah can be together once she knows the truth, Hong Jo stands up to walk away.
A hand on his shoulder stops him and Hong Jo realizes that the elderly woman behind him is his grandmother. She confesses that she once fell in love just like Hong Jo and points to a young man on a nearby bench who’s listening to music, alone.
In a flashback, Hong Jo’s much younger grandmother was in human form when she sat next to the man to listen to music together. In the present, Grandma hands her former love his dropped phone but he doesn’t recognize her. As he walks away, Grandma tells Hong Jo what happened between them, “I grew old…”
Grandma explains, ” A cat’s time goes by much quicker than a human’s…you will die first. Leaving that person alone.” Grandma warns Hong Jo to keep the truth of his identity a secret so that he can remain by Sol-ah’s side as a cat.
After his grandmother walks away, Hong Jo imagines sitting on a bench with Sol-ah, listening to music together. The happy scene is replaced with a sad Sol-ah, who listens to their song alone.
At the café, Hong Jo shares his sad news with Jae-seon and wonders if he should still tell Sol-ah the truth. Describing what it’s like to be left alone, “It feels like you’re sinking into a bottomless pool,” Jae-seon urges Hong Jo to leave and spare Sol-ah that kind of pain. Hong Jo refuses to disappear without a word like Jae-seon did.
Sol-ah blushes when she comes home and sees Hong Jo sitting on the roof. Hong Jo invites her to join him but when he helps Sol-ah onto the roof, she slips. Sol-ah’s hand lands on Hong Jo’s chest and his rapidly beating heart tells her that he’s drinking too much caffee. Curious to know if the human heart beats slower, Hong Jo extends his hand but Sol-ah slaps it away.
After he’s reminded that he had something to say, Hong Jo tells Sol-ah, “Just one more day…I’ll stay only until today.” Sol-ah realizes that he’s finally leaving and Hong Jo informs her that he’s headed for Bolivia’s salt flats. Hurt because Hong Jo will be as far from her as possible, Sol-ah laments, “How did we end up being family?”
When Hong Jo explains, “That’s why I want to be with you today,” Sol-ah notices the setting sun and pulls out her drawing pad. Asked what she’s drawing, Sol-ah tells Hong Jo, “Today.”
In the morning, Hong Jo sees Sol-ah’s latest sketch on her laptop — her webtoon heroine watching the sunset with the white cat by her side. When he sees Sol-ah, he asks, “The cat. Is it me,” but Sol-ah insists that her muse is her cat, Hong Jo.
Hong Jo can’t wait to see what happens next but Sol-ah tells him what he won’t see, the two of them kissing. Ouch. Sol-ah complains that while kisses may be powerful in fairy tales, in her experience, she always ends up alone.
As she heads for the front door, Hong Jo urges Sol-ah to continue drawing. When he admits, “I’m going to miss it,” Sol-ah replies, “I’m going to miss you too,” and as soon as she’s out the door, she wipes away a tear.
At the café, Hong Jo admits to Jae-seon that he thought coffee would help him to be with Sol-ah forever. Jae-seon warns that caffeine only borrows from the future which Hong Jo decides is meaningless without Sol-ah. The thought gives him an idea, “What if I stay here for a bit longer?”
That night, Sol-ah stays at work when Doo-shik and Ji-eun leave and he knows her well enough to guess that she doesn’t want to go home. While Ji-eun trails Doo-shik on the walk home, he wonders how Sol-ah can immerse herself in work that he finds boring.
After he criticizes the use of ‘Nalseam’ in the company’s name, Ji-eun explains that it can mean, “To soar up into the sky,” as well as “To stay up all night”. When Doo-shik grumbles about the repetitiveness of their jobs, Ji-eun credits it as the reason that she gets to draw every day.
Embarrassed by his complaints, Doo-shik encourages Ji-eun to keep pace with him but she’s trailing him on purpose so that she doesn’t make him uncomfortable. Since Ji-eun is being unusually talkative, Doo-shik asks about her relationship with Vice President Park but she clams up.
Jae-seon wanders over when he sees Hong Jo pacing in front of Sol-ah’s house and he admits that he’s worried because she isn’t home yet. Jae-seon offers to call Sol-ah but he visits the building where she works instead.
Sol-ah meets Jae-seon in the lobby and he guesses that she’s avoiding her empty house. When he advises, “…go home and let him (Hong Jo) leave in peace. That way, he won’t have to leave with any regrets,” Sol-ah realizes that Hong Jo hasn’t left yet.
Sol-ah hurries home and finds Hong Jo outside in the cold, surrounded by empty coffee cups. After going inside for some warm milk, Hong Jo let’s Sol-ah know that he’s not leaving until he sees more of her webtoon.
Since it’s almost midnight, Sol-ah suggests that they spend the last few minutes of the day together. Just as the clock reaches midnight, Sol-ah falls asleep and her head drops onto Hong Jo’s shoulder.
In the morning there are no new drawings for Hong Jo to see and Sol-ah explains it’s because she’s lacking inspiration. After asking Hong Jo to stay one more day, Sol-ah extends an invitation, “Come somewhere with me.”
Sol-ah’s first stop is to buy a phone for Hong Jo. When he lists his name on the application as ‘Hong Jo’, Sol-ah looks at him in shock. Hong Jo prepares himself for the worst but Sol-ah assumes that he’s using the name because he has bad credit and writes her name in instead.
Throughout the day, Hong Jo checks to see if Sol-ah has found her inspiration but she comes up with one excuse after another to avoid drawing. After sharing tteokbokki for lunch, Sol-ah and Hong Jo end up at the river where he uses his new phone to take a photo of a bench.
Hong Jo tells Sol-ah, “We sat here before,” and in a flashback, we see that the human Hong Jo sat facing away from Sol-ah one night as she cried over Jae-seon. Sol-ah had no idea she crossed paths with Hong Jo before that day she fell off the café roof.
Hong Jo confesses that after he first laid eyes on her (which was the day that she wrapped her scarf around the young boy’s neck) he remembered Sol-ah as if it had been a dream. Suddenly nervous, Sol-ah walks ahead by herself and Hong Jo captures her image in a photo.
The next morning, Hong Jo sees that there are still no new drawings on Sol-ah’s laptop. When she emerges from her room, Hong Jo points out that she’s delaying his departure but Sol-ah argues, “We agreed to spend today together. This is another today.”
At work, Sol-ah happily exchanges texts with Hong Jo all morning long. At the café, Hong Jo texts Sol-ah a photo of his first successful latte heart, just as Jae-seon warns that he can force his departure if necessary.
At lunchtime, Doo-shik taps Ji-eun on the shoulder and then teasingly places his finger on her cheek so that she can’t turn around. She has to decline his invitation to join their coworkers for lunch because she has work to do. As everyone leaves, Vice President Park reminds Ji-eun that the wedding invitation she’s been working on is due that afternoon and Doo-shik hears her.
Doo-shik gets back before the others and catches Ji-eun working on the invitation. Realizing that their boss has been taking advantage of Ji-eun, Doo-shik protests when Vice President Parks summons her, “She’s talking with me right now.” When Ji-eun stands up, Doo-shik pushes her back into her seat and accuses Vice President Park of taking advantage of an employee just as the rest of the staffers return.
An angry Doo-shik complains that Ji-eun didn’t eat lunch because she had to finish the wedding invitation of a complete stranger. Turning on Ji-eun, Doo-shik shouts, “Why can’t you say anything…You keep quiet even when everyone bullies you and thinks you don’t deserve to work here.”
When Vice President Park tries to interrupt, Doo-shik shouts at her too. Seeing the others, Doo-shik tries to minimize the damage and tells Ji-eun, “…if you said no, she would’ve asked me to do it. It’s been my lifelong dream to design a wedding invitation.” Embarrassed, Doo-shik slips away and when Ji-eun runs after him, Sol-ah smiles.
Ji-eun catches up to Doo-shik and he asks why she’s following him, “Do you secretly stare at my butt or something?” They both smile when Ji-eun teases, “I guess you found out.”
That night, Doo-shik finds Jae-seon drinking soju alone and joins him. Concerned that he’s about to be fired, Doo-shik inquires about a job at the café since his parents’ restaurant lost business when Hong Jo left. He’s surprised when Jae-seon tells him, “You can take him back. I can’t stand the sight of him.”
Doo-shik realizes that Jae-seon is jealous of Hong Jo and asks his friend if he has feelings for Sol-ah. When Jae-seon can’t admit that he does, Doo-shik calls him pathetic. Jae-seon doesn’t shrink from the insult, in fact he welcomes it, as long as he can protect Sol-ah.
At home, Sol-ah sits on the roof with Hong Jo and sketches. When she breathes on her hand to warm it, Hong Jo places his hand over hers. Seeing the fresh scar on Hong Jo’s arm, Sol-ah reminds him that her cat has the same injury.
Chuckling, Sol-ah confesses, “I think you’re Hong Jo sometimes.” Pointing out that the cat is never around at the same time as ‘Guk-bong’, Sol-ah reminds Hong Jo that their eyes are similar. After Sol-ah confesses that she’s fallen for a cat-like guy once again, Hong Jo apologizes, “I’m sorry for being a cat.”
Hong Jo is surprised when Sol-ah thanks him because his cat-like focus on “today” taught her, “…every day was a great today.” He doesn’t argue when Sol-ah suggests, “Waking up to a brand-new today is so fun and exciting. Can’t we just live for today?”
A drunk Jae-seon sees Sol-ah and Hong Jo on the roof and shouts to Sol-ah, “Let’s talk.” When Hong Jo accompanies Sol-ah to the café, Jae-seon becomes angry and tries to throw him out but he’s too drunk.
While Hong Jo fetches some water, Jae-seon starts to explain that Sol-ah’s roommate is a cat but he gets confused when she asks if he was drinking with Doo-shik. Eventually, Jae-seon gets his facts straight and he tells Sol-ah, “That guy isn’t Bang Guk-bong…He’s not even human.”
Sol-ah gets a call from Bang Shil, who invites her for a weekend visit to celebrate her father’s birthday and their marriage. In lieu of a wedding, Bang Shil and Sol-ah’s father decided on a family get-together and she suggests that Guk-bong and Sol-ah can travel together.
After Sol-ah hangs up, Hong Jo sees the look on her face and asks, “What was that about?” Jae-seon isn’t too drunk to figure out that she just spoke with Guk-bong’s mother. When Sol-ah passes along the message that they’ve been invited to visit their parents, Jae-seon stands up, “This is it. Don’t go any further. Stop right here.” Turning to Hong Jo, he pleads, “Before the truth comes out.”
In the morning, a subdued Sol-ah tells Hong Jo that she purchased two train tickets and that they can meet at the train station after she stops at work. As she’s about to leave, Hong Jo announces, “I can’t go.”
When Hong Jo explains that he doesn’t want to cause her any heartache, Sol-ah argues that giving up now may cause more heartache, “Every day is today, but a today that has passed never comes back.”
At work, Doo-shik asks Sol-ah if Guk-bong will be joining her but she isn’t sure. She leaves work early and once she’s at the train station, Sol-ah calls Jae-seon to ask him to check on her cat while she’s gone.
Jae-seon asks about Guk-bong too but Sol-ah still isn’t sure if he’s joining her. After she hangs up, Jae-seon checks Sol-ah’s house and when he finds Hong Jo’s phone in his bedroom, he decides that Hong Jo left after all.
At the train station, Sol-ah waits for Hong Jo, but it’s Jae-seon who arrives with a message, “Stop waiting. He left.” In spite of Sol-ah’s disappointment, Jae-seon promises, “I’ll be with you.” Admitting that he has no right after what he’s put Sol-ah through, Jae-seon confesses, “I’ll comfort you…I won’t leave you alone again. I’ll be there for you.”
Before Sol-ah can say anything, Hong Jo arrives. In a flashback to that morning, Sol-ah told Hong Jo, “I thought about it all night…The result may be obvious, but there might be something for me on that path.” Opening her computer, Sol-ah showed Hong Jo her latest drawings for Meow, the Secret Boy and told him, “This cat. It’s you.” Sol-ah then confessed, “I like you,” and explained, “I must like whoever I like. Enough to let the whole world know. Because I’m a helpless puppy.”
At the train station, Hong Jo can hear Sol-ah’s challenge, “It’s up to you now,” as he approaches her. Stopping in front of Sol-ah, Hong Jo tells her, “This is my choice,” and then he turns to Jae-seon and promises, “I’ll tell her everything.” Just then, Sol-ah gets a call from Bang Shil and she looks at Hong Jo in confusion as she confirms what she just heard, “Bang Guk-bong. He’s there right now?”
My favorite couple in Welcome is turning out to be Doo-shik and Ji-eun. Early on, I felt that they were too different to make a convincing romantic pair but when Doo-shik stood up to Vice President Park and defended the timid Ji-eun, I could finally see how they complement one another. Doo-shik underwent a sudden shift from an good-natured, friendly, tail wagging dog to a formidable guard dog, complete with bared teeth, and I cheered. Ji-eun could use someone on her side who expects others to respect her. Hopefully, Ji-eun will begin to see herself as Doo-shik does, as a capable artist whose time and talent are precious commodities.
I was impressed by Welcome’s handling of the creepy catnapper who I was convinced had the same mysterious capability as Hong Jo. I was 100% wrong, he just triggered Jae-seon’s allergy because his apartment was filled with all of the neighborhood’s cats. It was a great twist and just as I gave up on the possibility of another cat that becomes human, we learned that Hong Jo’s grandmother, the stray that Dae-sung loves, shares that trait. I love surprises like that and as much as it elevates the story-telling for me, it doesn’t overcome my disappointment in the romantic arc of our main leads.
Again, I completely agree with everything that @selena discussed but I’m not a fan of the romance between Sol-ah and Hong Jo for different reasons. All along, I’ve been bothered by the way that the human Hong Jo watches Sol-ah while she’s in the privacy of her own home. To me, it’s always come across as invasive rather than intimate. As Sol-ah adjusted to life without her father, she spoke freely to her new cat companion, unaware that he was morphing into the roommate she thought was Bang Shil’s son. The human Hong Jo only knows Sol-ah as well as he does because she tells him everything when he’s in cat form. Using those insights to ingratiate himself with Sol-ah strikes me as disingenuous and manipulative. When Hong Jo kissed Sol-ah, after she had just confessed to his cat version that it’s what she wanted, I cringed. This is a new experience for me because I have never been this opposed to a romance between the main leads. I was relieved when their almost second kiss was interrupted by the doorbell.
Now this doesn’t mean that I think that Hong Jo is intentionally taking advantage of Sol-ah. Clearly he’s conflicted, not only because of his feelings for Sol-ah but because she returns them. But keeping Sol-ah in the dark removes her ability to decide for herself whether or not she wants a romantic relationship with a cat who happens to be human too. It’s looking as if that’s exactly what Sol-ah is going to choose, especially after allowing Hong Jo a sneak peak at her new series, Meow, the Secret Boy.
The episode’s theme, living for ‘today’ and making every ‘today’ count, sounds lovely at first but it gives Sol-ah and Hong Jo permission to ignore why they shouldn’t be together. Sol-ah believes that Hong Jo is Bang Guk-bong, Bang Shil’s son, making him Sol-ah’s stepbrother. Allowing herself to get romantically entangled with a man that she thinks she’s related to is selfish, even if Hong Jo isn’t really Guk-bong.
Also, Hong Jo is a cat, not a human, an important distinction since it means that he has the life expectancy of a cat. Hong Jo is gambling with Sol-ah’s future, especially now that Jae-seon has confessed his feelings. Yes, Jae-seon had ten years to make his move, but he believed that Sol-ah deserved someone with a better background, not an orphan who was abandoned four times. Obviously, Jae-seon never imagined that Sol-ah would end up with someone like Hong Jo and he feels the burden of responsibility because he rescued kitten Hong Jo. Aware of the pain waiting for Sol-ah if she stays with Hong Jo, Jae-seon has finally allowed himself to give in to his feelings for her. But it may be too late, another strike against Hong Jo. If he truly loved Sol-ah and wanted her happiness, Hong Jo wouldn’t continue to appear in his human form and he wouldn’t compete with Jae-seon for Sol-ah’s heart.
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