Welcome: Episodes 19-20
After she accepts the truth, there’s more than a street separating our heroine from her mysterious cat. While she decides if it’s possible to be in love with a cat who becomes human just for her, her sometimes-whiskered love is willing to wait patiently.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
After the visit with her father, Sol-ah is back at home and asleep in her bed. She reaches out for Hong Jo but he’s not next to her and after Sol-ah wakes up, she remembers why. A quote by Leo Dworken observes, “No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.”
At the café, Jae-seon does his best to shake cat hair from a blanket but it only makes him sneeze more. When Hong Jo brings him a glass of water and some antihistamines, Jae-seon grumbles, “I should have left you behind.” That comment reminds Hong Jo of Sol-ah’s conversation with her father.
Hong Jo was sitting nearby when Soo-pyung urged Sol-ah to leave her cat with him so that she could focus on her webtoon. Her dad had promised to take good care of the cat, hopeful that she would visit both of them. To Hong Jo’s surprise, Sol-ah told her dad that she didn’t want to leave the cat behind.
Back in the present, Hong Jo explains that he needs to stay with Jae-seon to give Sol-ah some time. Trying to elicit some sympathy, Hong Jo adds, “And I have nowhere else to go other than here.” After another sneeze, a miserable Jae-seon regrets not throwing Hong Jo’s collar into the sea when he had the chance.
Working at his parents’ restaurant on his day off, Doo-shik invites Ji-eun to join him for lunch since they can’t go on a date. When Sol-ah arrives at the restaurant at the same time as Ji-eun, Doo-shik’s parents are so excited to see her that they barely notice Doo-shik’s guest.
Sol-ah delivers some bracken that her father sent to Doo-shik’s parents and it reminds Doo-shik of the nickname his mother gave Ji-eun. Doo-shik thinks the nickname is a nod to Ji-eun’s slender fingers but his embarrassed parents know that’s not true and they retreat to the kitchen.
Doo-shik asks Sol-ah about her trip and Guk-bong but she changes the subject when she teases that Ji-eun must be a regular if she has a nickname. Before Ji-eun can silence him, Doo-shik blurts, “We’re going out.” Delighted by the news, Sol-ah congratulates her friends.
Sol-ah is still smiling when she gets home and an observant Hong Jo asks, “Did something good happen?” Suddenly uncomfortable, Sol-ah explains that she was thinking about someone else before hurrying inside.
Ji-eun is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Doo-shik, until he hands her a container of stir fried bracken. Ji-eun has to explain that his mother’s nickname wasn’t meant to be a compliment — she was thinking of overcooked, mushy brackens. Doo-shik offers to ask his mother what she meant but Ji-eun convinces him to keep their relationship quiet.
At Nalseam Design, Vice President Park announces that Sang-kwon will be taking over the project from Ji-eun, Doo-shik and Sol-ah after receiving complaints from the client. Following the meeting, Sol-ah seeks out Vice President Park to argue that their team didn’t deserve to lose the project when they’d done their best.
Vice President Park doesn’t consider Sol-ah capable of doing her best because she complains that her work is boring. Vice President Park explains that’s why Ji-eun is assigned more important tasks, “…she enjoys everything she does.” After telling Sol-ah that she isn’t desperate enough, Vice President Park dismisses her.
Sol-ah wants Ji-eun to talk to Vice President Park but she catches her working on the wedding invitation and complains, “This is why she treats you like a pushover.” Doo-shik comes to Ji-eun’s defense, “This might be her way of trying to solve the problem.”
When Sol-ah complains that Ji-eun should be more responsible, Doo-shik warns her not to mention responsibility after giving up her cat. He’s seen for himself that it’s now living at Jae-seon’s café.
That night, Hong Jo learns from Jae-seon that all of the catnapper’s cats have been adopted, except for one very old cat. Jae-seon fears that it will be euthanized before he can find it a home and when Hong Jo urges him to adopt it, Jae-seon’s well-timed sneeze reminds him why that’s not possible.
In the morning, Sol-ah momentarily forgets that Hong Jo no longer lives with her until she’s about to fill his water dish. Looking around the empty house, Sol-ah is reminded of Hong Jo’s favorite spots.
Unable to shake the feeling that she’s being watched, Sol-ah checks Hong Jo’s bedroom and finds his phone. When she answers the doorbell, Jae-seon hands Sol-ah a pot of soup because he’s worried that she’s not taking care of herself.
At work, the team is still upset about their lost project so Ji-eun texts Sol-ah with an invitation to lunch. She’s hurt when Sol-ah doesn’t text back but perks up when Doo-shik suggests that the three of them should go to lunch. When Sol-ah stays behind because she’s not feeling well, Ji-eun takes it personally.
Hong Jo offers a pretty customer a complimentary dessert and turns on the charm to ask her a question. She’s not expecting him to ask her to adopt a cat and after striking out, an annoyed Hong Jo pressures Jae-seon to ask a friend or family member to take in the old cat. Jae-seon insists that there’s no one but he can’t hide his concern when he reads on the internet that his father, Chairman Lee, suddenly retired.
In a flashback, we see Jae-seon’s last encounter with his father. Announcing that he wanted to pursue leather work instead of law school, Jae-seon promised to fend for himself. When Jae-seon explained that he didn’t want to be a nuisance, Chairman Lee seethed, “I see. Until now, you were a guest in our house, not a member of it.” Throwing the award that he was cleaning across the room, Chairman Lee bellowed, “I will never give you anything!”
In the present, Jae-seon arrives at his father’s house with the old cat in a carrier, accompanied by Hong Jo. When Jae-seon loses his nerve and turns around, Hong Jo challenges him, “Are you running away again?”
After lunch, Sol-ah sees Ji-eun walking by and stops her so that she can apologize. Unaware that Ji-eun sent her that text, Sol-ah was under the impression that Ji-eun was avoiding her. Doo-shik sees the girls talking and for once he doesn’t barge in, giving Sol-ah the chance to explain that she didn’t get Ji-eun’s text because she brought the wrong phone to work.
Ji-eun apologizes for not speaking up when they lost the project and explains to Sol-ah why she kept Doo-shik’s eraser for so long. In a flashback to their high school art class, Ji-eun witnessed the ease between Sol-ah and Doo-shik as they passed his eraser back and forth. When it fell, Ji-eun tried to return it until she heard Sol-ah explain to Doo-shik why she didn’t need an eraser of her own, “Your eraser is mine…” Unable to find his eraser, Doo-shik asked if anyone had seen it but an envious Ji-eun said nothing.
Back in the present, Ji-eun explains that being quiet means that resentments build up until she hates everyone, including herself. Ji-eun doesn’t expect Sol-ah to understand because she’s the type of person who sparkles and shines. Doo-shik slips away unnoticed as Sol-ah confesses that she’s not perfect, after all she pushed away the person who owns the phone and then corrects herself, “No. The cat.”
After a long wait, Jae-seon is about to leave when his father finally arrives in a wheelchair. Jae-seon asks if this is why his father didn’t show up for their meeting but Chairman Lee defensively argues that Jae-seon has never visited him. Jae-seon has to remind his dad, “Because you threw me out.”
When Chairman Lee notices Hong Jo, Jae-seon remembers the reason for his visit. After Jae-seon admits, “I came to ask you to take in a cat,” Hong Jo places the carrier on the table with the explanation, “It was abandoned.”
After getting a good look at the cat, Chairman Lee sees that it’s old, like him. When Chairman Lee confronts his son about coming back after so many years to ask for such a huge favor, Jae-seon picks up the carrier and turns to leave.
With tears in his eyes, Chairman Lee calls out to Jae-seon, “…you never asked for anything, which was so upsetting. But thank you for coming to me. Thank you for asking me for something.” A tear escapes Jae-seon’s eye and after Chairman Lee confesses, “I waited for this,” father and son are finally reconciled.
Sitting with Ji-eun on the bench where Hong Jo cried, Sol-ah realizes that he must have been sad to be someone else. Sol-ah explains that Hong Jo didn’t lie to her, she just never believed him when he said that he wasn’t Bang Guk-bong.
After Sol-ah confesses that she kicked Hong Jo out, Ji-eun isn’t sure if she’s talking about the cat or the man. Sol-ah tells her, “Both,” and confuses Ji-eun even more when she asks, “Could I really love a cat?”
At the café, while Hong Jo stares out the window at Sol-ah’s house, his vision temporarily blurs. After a quick rub of his eyes, everything goes back to normal.
That night, Sol-ah asks why the café closed early when she sees Hong Jo outside. Hong Jo explains that Jae-seon was reunited with his parents after he asked them to take in an abandoned cat. Sol-ah thanks Hong Jo for getting Jae-seon back together with his family, something she could never manage.
Worried that she isn’t well, Hong Jo steps forward in concern but Sol-ah moves away and explains that she’s just tired. Once she’s inside, Sol-ah looks at the photos on Hong Jo’s phone, her memory triggered by the one of the empty bench near the river. The night that Sol-ah thought that Jae-seon was beside her, she saw a white cat and she realizes that Hong Jo has been by her side since then.
Hong Jo checks on Sol-ah as she sleeps. Finding her hand cold, Hong Jo fills a plastic bottle with hot water and places it under her blanket while mumbling, “Her hands were so hot all night last time.”
Slowly opening her eyes, Sol-ah remembers the night that Hong Jo used rain water to cool her fevered brow. Sol-ah asks Hong Jo if he was human that day and he confirms her suspicion when he answers, “I’m sorry.” Sol-ah asks how long he’s been spying on her and Hong Jo tells her, “For as long as you were alone.”
A tear trails down Sol-ah’s face as a we see the many times that she was all alone. Hong Jo reminds Sol-ah that while she takes care of others, there’s no one to take care of her, like the night that she ran him to the clinic when she was sick. Hong Jo explains that all he’s ever wanted is to be next to her.
When Sol-ah asks why Hong Jo can only become human around her, he doesn’t exactly know but suspects, “I have to be human to hug you.” Sol-ah invites him to do just that and while Hong Jo hugs her, she pats his cheek. Hong Jo gazes adoringly at Sol-ah until she teases that he missed the fact that her supply of hot packs are in a drawer.
Doo-shik pays Ji-eun another visit but this time he ventures further into her apartment, smiling when he sees his sticky notes on a small white board, titled, Doo-shik and Ji-eun. Seeing the empty bracken container, Doo-shik grabs it but Ji-eun wants to send it back with something in it.
When Ji-eun holds out her hand for the container, Doo-shik places his eraser in her palm and tells her, “Everything that belongs to me is yours now. My eraser and my heart.” After his declaration, Doo-shik promises to take things slow because he assumes that Ji-eun has never dated.
Doo-shik is about to leave when Ji-eun informs him that this isn’t the first time that she’s dated. Puzzled because she kept his eraser for 10 years, Ji-eun explains, “I had the eraser, but dating is a different story.” Doo-shik does his best to hide his surprise, “Of course, we’re all grown-ups,” but he keeps coming back with questions about Ji-eun’s dating history until she pushes him out the door.
Sol-ah sits with Hong Jo while he drinks more coffee and proudly shows off her latest shadow puppet. He can’t guess what it is and she’s forced to explain that it’s a cat. Realizing that Hong Jo must know everything about her, Sol-ah asks if there’s anything that she needs to know about him.
After a long pause, Hong Jo confesses that a cat’s time goes faster than a human’s, which means that he’ll die first. When Sol-ah isn’t convinced, Hong Jo reminds her that he’s gone from kitten to adult in just one year. Sol-ah envisions Hong Jo by her side on the roof as she sketches a sunset but her pencil falls when he’s suddenly gone.
Sol-ah doesn’t want to talk about parting but Hong Jo assures her, “Even if the end is decided, I’m going to go down this road…That’s my choice.” When Hong Jo tells Sol-ah, “Your choice is up to you,” she recognizes the words that she once spoke to him.
At the café the next morning, Hong Jo’s vision blurs while pouring himself a cup of coffee and some of it ends up on the counter. When Jae-seon asks why he’s so out of it, Hong Jo confesses that he told Sol-ah that he’ll disappear first and figures, “I think I’ll need to stay with you again.” As Hong Jo sips his coffee, a concerned Jae-seon advises him to drink less caffeine and get more sleep.
When Sol-ah arrives at work, Doo-shik informs her that they’re back on the pet food project. Vice President Park walks by and orders, “You three. Come see me.” Vice President Park explains to the team that the client didn’t put them back on the project because they’re good, but because they’re easy to push around.
Vice President Park also explains to Ji-eun that she asked her for personal favors to make their relationship more personal, because she genuinely liked her. Vice President Park regrets that their friendship was one-sided and when she stands to leave, Ji-eun stops her.
Vice President Park is pleased when Ji-eun presents her with the finished wedding invitation and offers to treat her to a meal. Vice President Park chuckles when Ji-eun expects to be paid the going rate, prompting the boss to tease that she should get a discount since their friends.
That night, as she approaches her house, Sol-ah suspects a car is following her until it goes around her. At the café, Jae-seon holds the wallet that he made for his father just as he receives a photo of the old cat sitting in a window. Jae-seon asks Hong Jo to take care of the café while he visits his dad but when the next customer walks in, Hong Jo announces, “This one’s here for you.”
When Sol-ah arrives home, she realizes that the car parked in front of the café is the one that was following her. Inside, Jae-seon’s ex-girlfriend, Rubi, wants her cat back to give to a friend who’s opening a cat café. As Hong Jo glares at Rubi, his vision blurs yet again but this time he’s dizzy as well and collapses.
Rubi is pleased when she sees ‘Sergei’ but he ignores her. Annoyed, Rubi snaps, “You’re old already? You were small and cute as a kitten.” When she wonders who would want him now, Sol-ah answers, “Me. It’s my cat.”
Sol-ah thanks Rubi for abandoning the cat, whose name is now Hong Jo, and informs her that he’s spending the rest of his life with Sol-ah. The cat looks up with big eyes as Sol-ah explains, “I’ll stay with Hong Jo and he will stay with me. That’s what we chose to do.”
Jae-seon smiles resignedly when Sol-ah picks up Hong Jo to take him home. Once they’re inside, Sol-ah watches Hong Jo walk away slowly and wonders, “Did what she say make you that sad?”
Back at the café, a jealous Rubi argues that Sol-ah is using the cat to check on Jae-seon. Jae-son explains to Rubi that he’s the one checking on Sol-ah, “Because she’ll need me. Even more so now.”
Sol-ah invites Hong Jo to become human so that he can give her a hug but he doesn’t change, so she covers her eyes to give him some privacy. After uncovering her eyes, Sol-ah worries when she sees that Hong Jo is still a cat, and wonders, “Is it because you can’t change?”
Uh-oh. It’s looking as if all isn’t right with Hong Jo, who’s been sipping coffee non-stop so that he can spend as much time as possible with Sol-ah. As much as I’m against their romantic pairing, I don’t want anything bad to happen to Hong Jo, who’s about the most beautiful cat that I’ve ever seen when he’s in feline form. Not only has Hong Jo provided much needed support for the lonely Sol-ah, he’s helped Jae-seon as well, even if the poor guy has to suffer through his cat allergy in the process. In the end, it’s been worth it, because after Hong Jo forced the issue, Jae-seon finally visited his estranged father in a desperate attempt to save an old cat. It was so rewarding to see Jae-seon finally accept his father’s love, proving that he’s come a long way in overcoming his fears. He’s now able to be a true friend to Sol-ah, just when she’s accepted her feelings for the human Hong Jo.
Since the romance between our cat and heroine isn’t really working for me, Hong Jo’s symptoms offer some interesting possibilities. The excessive caffeine consumption, even by human standards, is costing Hong Jo his much needed sleep which could explain why he’s looking so rough and why he can’t become human, at least for the time being. Or it could be something more serious, which might mean that his life expectancy is even shorter than anticipated? That possibility would be awfully tragic and I don’t really think that’s the direction that the story will take, at least I hope not. I may not want to see Sol-ah and Hong Jo in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t belong in her life as her cat. I actually think that Soo-pyung’s offer to take in Hong Jo made lots of sense and I’m wondering if living in the country will be as necessary for the cat’s health as was for Sol-ah’s father.
The return of Jae-seon’s ex-girlfriend helped Sol-ah to finally realize that her feelings for Hong Jo couldn’t be ignored, and she made her choice. Jae-seon makes a choice too, to be there for Sol-ah, knowing that she’s going to be alone again someday, mourning both a partner and a pet. It’s the worst situation to be in because a pet offers the type of constant companionship that would seem unsettling in a human, while a human meets different needs that I can’t even think about, much less discuss. What Jae-seon has figured out is that he won’t ever abandon Sol-ah and for him, that’s a huge commitment, even if it is one-sided.
For me, the bright spot in the story continues to be the advancing romance between Doo-shik and Ji-eun. Doo-shik was hilariously shocked when he learned that Ji-eun hasn’t quite lived the sheltered life that he imagined, she’s dated before! The girl continues to surprise, and I’m guessing that Doo-shik is starting to look at Ji-eun with a mixture of wonder, respect and a hint of fear. She certainly surprised Vice President Park, who gained respect for Ji-eun the second she asked to be paid the going rate for her side work. Like Jae-seon, Ji-eun is confronting her fears and weaknesses and turning into a stronger, more confident woman. Doo-shik seriously has no idea what he’s gotten himself into.
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