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Welcome: Episodes 21-22

As our heroine grows, our feline friend feels the difference between being a real human and a cat that merely transforms into one. As he tries to find his place in her world, he battles against something that nobody can control. Time.

 
EPISODE 21 RECAP

Sol-ah takes Hong Jo to the vet, unable to fully explain what the problem is when Hong Jo shows no signs of illness. It’s said that: “Cats have nine lives. Three lives to have fun, three lives to wander around, and three lives to stay.

The next morning, Hong Jo catches a carton of milk before it falls to the floor, explaining to a worried Sol-ah that he was too sleepy to transform the night before. He reassures her that he’s fine now, after having a good night’s sleep.

When Sol-ah suggests staying home to rest today, Hong Jo reminds her that she said their time together is precious. She gives in when he pouts, “I thought you were going to make every second count.”

Sol-ah surprises Hong Jo by taking him to an aquarium where he marvels at being surrounded by fish. He thinks that the diver is a fish that turned into a human, but learns that it’s just a normal human with an oxygen tank. He teases that his own oxygen tank is coffee, not Sol-ah.

For the next stop of their date, Sol-ah drags Hong Jo to a store where she picks out matching bags for them. Confused because he doesn’t have any possessions and doesn’t need a bag, Sol-ah says that’s why she’s gifting it to him. “Nothing is yours. You always borrow from others,” she reasons, “This is yours now.”

The couple end the day by watching the sunset on the roof. They engage in playful competition to hold each other’s hand, breaking out in a fit of giggles. They continue to spend their days enjoying each other’s presence and their blissful moments serve as inspiration for Sol-ah’s webtoon.

One day, Jae-seon and Hong Jo join the Nalsaem trio at Doo-shik’s restaurant for lunch. Hyeon-ja jokingly scolds ‘Guk-bong’ for quitting and working for Sonamu instead, while Doo-shik gathers everyone for an important announcement.

He formally declares, “Today, I’m sitting with the woman I like.” Before he finishes, his parents prematurely exclaim that it must be Sol-ah, praising them for being a great couple. Things get awkward when Doo-shik yells in frustration that it’s Ji-eun.

All attention shifts to Sol-ah when she explains that she’s seeing someone else (Jae-seon doesn’t look surprised) so Doo-shik puts Ji-eun on the spot, asking them to focus on her instead. “She has so many good traits,” he proudly brags, listing ‘shooting well at the arcade’ and ‘making great cocktails’ as examples. Oh, Doo-shik. He finishes it off by cooing that she’s pretty, which his parents can agree with.

On the way home, Sol-ah steps aside to take a call. Jae-seon figures that Hong Jo must find it hard to stay by her side like a normal human. With no ill intent, he explains that humans follow a natural process of introducing their significant other to their inner circle, getting approval, then getting married. Hong Jo knows that because of him, Sol-ah won’t be able to do that.

Sol-ah wraps up her call and wonders, “What should I do?” Somehow, the owner of the webtoon portal took notice of her story and is interested in publishing it officially. She runs past Jae-seon with a quick hi-five before smothering Hong Jo with hugs. Sol-ah gets to work that night to edit while Hong Jo supports her silently.

The next morning, Sol-ah rushes in and out of the house again to grab forgotten belongings. When she runs in yelling about her lips, Hong Jo sets off to find her lipstick. Unlike last time though, she’s looking for a kiss, grabbing his face for a quick smooch before heading out.

Dae-sung notices that Hong Jo is carrying around an empty bag. While Hong Jo is jealous that Dae-sung has a bag full of school supplies and somewhere to be every day, Dae-sung envies him for being able to go wherever he wishes. Despite having the freedom to go anywhere, Hong Jo just wants to stay.

When Dae-sung gets called away for an errand, Hong Jo tells the grandma cat that Sol-ah accepted him after knowing his true identity, and that he’s decided to be with her. Grandma cat communicates something concerning to Hong Jo, although we’re not privy to what it is.

Hong Jo’s emotional as he sits outside Nalsaem, staring at his hand when suddenly, his vision turns fuzzy. Sol-ah’s coworkers walk past, and Da-som sees Hong Jo in cat form on the bench. She gets distracted and by the time she turns around to look for him, Hong Jo’s human again.

Nearby, Ji-eun has witnessed the transformation, gasping, “He really is a cat.” Hong Jo approaches Da-som and Hye-yeon to ask for a cup of coffee and because he’s cute, they’re more than happy to comply.

Back in the office, Ji-eun sends Doo-shik away so that she can privately tell Sol-ah that she saw Hong Jo transform. Just then, Hye-yeon looks out the window and sees that the ‘Coffee Beggar’ is still outside.

Sol-ah goes down to meet him, and with a serious expression, Hong Jo says that he came so that they could see each other sooner and spend more time together. He tries to tell her something but gets cut off when Sol-ah tells him to go home to wait for her.

Hong Jo understands that as a human, she needs to work. “Don’t worry,” he says, “I also have something to do.” He heads to Sonamu to ask Jae-seon for a favor. He’s unable to refuse with the way Hong Jo looks at him so sadly.

They end up in his workshop, where Hong Jo tries his hand at leather crafting. “Puss in Boots taught the wrong thing to cats,” Jae-seon complains, “Do you think you can get anything you want if you just look at me with those sparkly eyes?” Pfft. Hong Jo shoots him another look and asks to learn how to engrave Sol-ah’s name on wood.

Back at the office, Doo-shik writes a note to Ji-eun asking if she’d like to hang out with the others again today. Seeing how busy Sol-ah is, Ji-eun writes back, “Not really.” When Doo-shik insists, she writes, “You’re so tactless.

Fed up with the back and forth, Doo-shik bursts that she’d said his tactlessness was his charm. He vents, “The reason you fall in love becomes the reason you break up,” airing their business out in front of all their colleagues.

Ji-eun storms out and urges him to think of others. They argue about how he revealed their dating status to his parents despite Ji-eun specifically asking him not to tell anyone. In addition to that, she’s upset that he did it without considering Sol-ah and Hong Jo.

She’s surprised to learn that Doo-shik actually invited Hong Jo on purpose so that they wouldn’t have to hide their relationship. Still under the assumption that he’s Guk-bong, he says that they’re not blood related so it’s legal for them to date, promising that he does think before he acts.

Ji-eun starts to smile as he talks about how he wants to brag about her, and only announced their relationship after thinking about it and knowing that they’d come to like her. “Why should you feel bad about liking me? If you knew how much I like you, you’d get so arrogant,” he declares.

Aloud, he wonders if this is the right timing for a kiss to show his affection. In his moment of self-doubt, Ji-eun makes the move and plants one on him instead, and the couple smile at each other before Doo-shik initiates another kiss.

As Hong Jo crafts, it’s apparent that his body is getting fatigued. Jae-seon quips, “You acted cute to make me teach you, but you’re bored already?” Hong Jo fires back, “It looked fascinating, but it’s not fun. Like you.”

The days pass, and Sol-ah is so busy that they barely spend quality time together. Hong Jo works on his project while Sol-ah is kept busy at work. During the nights, he can only watch as Sol-ah focuses on fine-tuning her webtoon.

One day, Jae-seon asks if Hong Jo wants coffee. Hong Jo admits that he was right, “Caffeine really does bring your time forward.” He cryptically says, “I think I sped up my time too much,” and agrees that it isn’t easy to be around Sol-ah as a human.

Hong Jo finds that he’s getting greedier, just like the catnapper. He wants the best for Sol-ah and thought that he’d be happy as long as she was. However, he feels sad realizing that he’s not a part of her happiness.

Jae-seon says that that’s what being with someone is like. “You shut each other in or out, and sometimes become alone.” Hong Jo realizes that this is what Jae-seon has been afraid of, understanding now that he’s going through it himself.

“It must’ve been hard being human,” Hong Jo sympathizes, “But I guess you managed pretty well, Jae-seon.” Aww, I love their relationship. Jae-seon shares that he’ll be gone the next few days to visit his father, warning Hong Jo not to act up just because nobody’s watching him.

One day, Da-som looks out the window and sees the cat on the bench again. She calls Hye-yeon over to prove that there really is a cat. By the time Hye-yeon looks, the ‘Coffee Beggar’ is back. Sol-ah rushes over and sees Hong Jo on the bench, rubbing his tired eyes.

She brings him some coffee and he insists that he’s not sick. Sol-ah compliments his style, playfully asking if he’s here to seduce someone. Hong Jo has something to give her, so she tells him she’ll finish work early and come down. However, Vice President Park announces an emergency meeting so she’ll have to work late again.

Hong Jo heads home, but the sudden downpour of rain sends him back to Nalsaem with an umbrella in hand. Sol-ah’s unable to take his call during the meeting, so he continues to wait in the rain.

 
EPISODE 22 RECAP

Sol-ah finds Hong Jo waiting for her when she gets off the bus. He has a sad moment of realization when she takes out her own umbrella. Sol-ah’s concerned with how cold he is, and he loses the timing to give her his gift when she chastises him for not going home like she’d asked him to.

He first claims that he was just thinking of her, then agrees that he was acting out to get some attention. “Even if just for a moment, can’t you focus on me?” he pleads, reminding her that he doesn’t have much time.

Sol-ah wants their story to be seen by many people so that she can make them smile like he makes her smile. That said, she has to work twice as hard to ensure she doesn’t neglect her job. She avows, “It’s too hard for me if you’re always waiting for me,” and asks him to stop waiting.

The grandma cat had revealed that Hong Jo’s time spent as a human is predestined. He says that waiting is what a cat does, and he’d just wanted to do everything he could for Sol-ah. She assures him that he’s doing enough and they walk home under their own umbrellas.

Jae-seon’s worried when his father has a coughing fit. Chairman Lee says that he’s fine and urges Jae-seon to take some allowance. Aw, he’s using the wallet that he’d made! Jae-seon wonders if there’s anything Chairman Lee would like to do, but he’s tried everything he’s ever wanted.

“The one thing I thought I didn’t have came to me at the last minute,” he chuckles, looking fondly at Jae-seon. He then muses that even he can’t control time, and that time waits for nobody.

Sol-ah works on her webtoon all through the night. When morning comes, she scrambles to look for Hong Jo, relieved when she finds him lying on the couch. She apologizes to the cat and asks for some more time.

The project concludes at Nalsaem so the team goes out for drinks. Sol-ah spaces out as the others chat, and she updates Ji-eun on the status of her webtoon. She still hasn’t heard back from the owner, and wonders if they’re no longer interested.

Jae-seon’s back and rings Sol-ah’s doorbell, but nobody answers the door. Something catches his eye so he heads into the house, concerned when he finds Hong Jo lying on the couch in cat form, unmoving.

During dinner, Hye-yeon tells the team that cats don’t show it when they’re sick, afraid of being abandoned. Sang-kwon confesses that his wife does that too, so he pretends not to notice that she’s sick when he’s too busy to care for her.

This gets Sol-ah thinking and she cracks a mirror when she reaches for her ringing phone, which the others note is a bad sign. Sol-ah runs home after taking the call, and when she gets there she finds both Jae-seon and Hong Jo (as a human) sitting on the couch.

“I made it!” she announces. They’re going to publish her webtoon, and Hong Jo is so excited that he accidentally pushes Jae-seon aside to hug and congratulate her. Jae-seon watches contently from the side, but Sol-ah pulls him into the hug as well and the three of them spin around in one big happy blob. So cute!

Doo-shik begs his dad for the car keys and is told to hide it before his mom returns. Hyeon-ja brings in a box of rice cakes to congratulate Sol-ah for debuting as a webtoon artist. Carrying such a heavy load strained her back, so she asks Min-joong to drive her to see a doctor.

The father and son fall silent and Min-joong thinks fast, declaring that the rice cakes are so heavy that Doo-shik needs a car to bring it over to Sol-ah. Ji-eun enters the restaurant and starts to say something to Hyeon-ja, but Min-joong immediately ushers her into the car to deliver the goods.

As they watch their son drive off, Hyeon-ja sighs that she’s worried their thick-headed son will hurt the sensitive Ji-eun. They’re surprised when the car backs up again, and Ji-eun gets off to hand Hyeon-ja a picture of a mackerel that she drew.

“I heard that you wanted to change your sign,” she explains. Hyeon-ja absolutely loves it and although Min-joong starts out by defending their current sign that Doo-shik designed, he quickly takes his wife’s side and calls the boney logo terrifying.

His parents make up for their previous slipups – Hyeon-ja goes on a spiel about how much she loves well-boiled bracken, and how delicious it is when paired with mackerel. Min-joong takes over to say that the bracken and mackerel are a perfect match, referring to Ji-eun and Doo-shik respectively.

The five friends set up for a party at Sonamu to celebrate Sol-ah’s success, and they have so much fun that Hong Jo slips outside unnoticed. He’d noticed someone lingering outside and comes face to face with the catnapper.

The catnapper has been watching them and hasn’t seen the cat in a while, so he wants to see it to check something. He asks if Sol-ah knows that he saw Hong Jo transform that night, and Hong Jo growls, “Don’t touch her.” Before driving away, the catnapper taunts, “Her occupation. Did you say she was a designer?”

By nightfall, the other Nalsaem designers have joined the party. Sol-ah goes around thanking her friends for supporting her, then wonders where the person she’s most grateful for has gone.

She finds him guarding the entrance outside, poking fun at him for looking like a guard dog. Sol-ah asks if he’s not going to join them, joking that he didn’t even bring a flower to congratulate her with.

He pulls out the handmade pouch and explains that it’s for her phone, since she forgets it all the time. She mutters that it’s okay because he takes care of her, but he knows that he won’t be able to do that forever. Sol-ah’s touched that he thought about her, and he states again that cats are meant to be waiting.

Hong Jo tries to send her back inside, but she grabs him by the hand and takes him with her. Hye-yeon recognizes Hong Jo as the ‘Coffee Beggar’ and Da-som asks if he saw the white cat, since he appeared every time the cat disappeared.

She jokes, “Are you a cat?” and everybody who doesn’t know the truth chuckles. Doo-shik and the other designers make fun of how difficult it would be to date a cat, like the fact that Sol-ah needs to earn money to pay for his litter. It hits a little too close to home and makes everyone uncomfortable.

Hong Jo answers truthfully that he’s jobless and is only 1 year old, and Doo-shik explains that ‘Guk-bong’ is just an odd guy in general. Sol-ah works up the courage to introduce him as Hong Jo, sharing that he’s the one who encouraged her to continue drawing and is the person that she loves.

As they clink glasses, Hong Jo has another episode of dizziness which Jae-seon notices. He slides Hong Jo a cup of coffee and asks him to grab the cake from the back, which gives him an opportunity to take a break. However, he’s so tired that he drops his coffee.

Sol-ah’s glad to hear that Jae-seon’s father is doing better than expected, and Jae-seon credits Hong Jo for pushing him to be by his father’s side. When Doo-shik and Ji-eun leave to catch the sunrise by the East Sea, Sol-ah heads to the back to check on Hong Jo.

She’s surprised to find him lying in the corner, gasping, “Don’t tell me you can’t turn back into a human.” She runs out in panic with Hong Jo wrapped in a blanket, excusing herself from the party and running into the catnapper.

The catnapper blames them for causing him to lose all his cats. Everybody says that his love for his cats was an illness, and that he’s spouting nonsense for claiming that a cat transformed into a human.

He wants proof that he’s not crazy, reaching for Hong Jo and yelling at him to transform. Hong Jo falls to the ground and the catnapper grabs Sol-ah in a chokehold, taunting him to turn into a human. However, Hong Jo remains a cat, watching and unable to do anything.

 
COMMENTS

I’m quite disappointed that nobody did anything to urge Hong Jo to take care of his health. Jae-seon always mentions that caffeine is not good for him, but ends up offering him coffee anyway. Sol-ah freaked out at the start of this episode because he wouldn’t transform, learned that it was due to fatigue, and ended up freaking out again at the end of the episode about the exact same thing.

She’s always so frazzled when something goes wrong, but doesn’t do anything to prevent it from happening in the first place. Like Sang-kwon with his wife, Sol-ah was simply too caught up in her own life to take care of Hong Jo. However, Hong Jo’s not actually human, even if he looks the part. He doesn’t necessarily know what’s best for his own health and as a pet owner and a girlfriend, she should’ve taken a more active role in protecting him.

I don’t really know what she expects to gain from another frantic visit to the vet when all Hong Jo needs is another good night’s sleep and to stop drinking coffee. As a pet owner myself, it really bothers me that she continues to let him jeopardize his health when she can very clearly see the effects it’s having on his body. If human Hong Jo gets sick from eating garlic, then it’s obvious that his body isn’t meant to have coffee either!

That aside, Hong Jo’s entire life revolves around Sol-ah, and he’s starting to realize that hers doesn’t revolve around him. I’d have loved if this show explored Hong Jo discovering his own hobbies, developing more relationships outside of his love interest (his friendships with Jae-seon and Dae-sung remains the best part about him), and just embracing what it really means to be “human.”

Unfortunately with only one episode remaining, I don’t think we’ll get a chance to see him create a life for himself. His innocent wonder at everything Sol-ah shows him just proves that there’s such a huge world out there for him to explore, if only he’d stop waiting outside Nalsaem Design, wasting the precious time that he has. Going into the finale, I hope that he’s able to find his place in the world and enjoys everything that life has to offer.

I’m not loving the return of the catnapper and hope that this incident ends as quickly as his first appearance did. I mistakenly thought that he was probably locked away behind bars, and hope that he really does get in trouble with the law this time. He’s committing the crime of stalking a young woman, harassing her, and stealing her cat. That’s so creepy and dangerous, the law better protect Sol-ah!

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I was pretty meh about these eps. I do wish too that they'd spent more time on Hong jo discovering being human, but also on how he perceives and interacts with the world as a human but still a cat in some of his ways.
The cat stalker was just odd. I'm not sure why he popped up again.
I'm not going to read it but curious if it has stayed true to the webtoon.

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I do enjoy Hong Jo and Jae Sun's relationship a lot. Despite his initial cold exterior, Jae Sun has really shown growth and became one of the warmest person, the way he cares about Hong Jo despite him low key being his love rival.

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In K-drama world people go to the hospital for EVERYTHING. Maybe that's an affect of hospital visits not entirely bankrupting you like in the US. So the first impulse of rushing Hong Joo to the vet, despite the vet likely being of no use, sounds very K-drama world.

I think this series should be considered one big old metaphor for the close relationship of pets to pet owners. Hong Joo is literally your house cat personified. I've known people who have wept over the loss of a beloved pet more bitterly than over their own parents.

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Part 1 of 2

Thank you for your recap, @selena. I agree with you that Sol-ah is a crummy human associate to Hong Jo. She's so focused on her own business that she doesn't pay enough attention to what is happening with him. She continues to jump to erroneous conclusions because she is too impatient to hear others out. At times she is such a ditz who fails to learn from experience (e.g., Hong Jo ingesting stuff that's bad for him) that I want to shake her. Sheesh!

On the other hand, I really enjoy the friendship that has grown up between Hong Jo and Jae-seon as they have come to understand each other's hidden sorrows. The latter gave the cat a job and paid him so that he could get around in human society, and also taught him to work with leather so he could make a snazzy and useful handphone case for his airhead human. (I found it a much more touching gift than the unneeded PPL bag she bought for him. If it had been large enough for her to carry him around on strolls in his cat form, it would have been cool. I do give her Brownie points for taking Hong Jo to the walk-through aquarium in the 63 Building. L sure looked like a kitty who had died and gone to heaven as he ogled the fish. LOL!)

Methinks Kitten Hong Jo charmed Jae-seon’s socks off, and that started thawing his heart. Even in his human form, Hong Jo is a charmer. Some episodes back I cracked up when he tried rubbing up against Jae-seon, who tried to evade him. L really looked like an overgrown cat as he did so. I don’t get the sense that he bears grudges the way humans do. I think it’s indicative of cats living in the moment. Or maybe he simply has no energy or time to waste.

For all Jae-seon's earlier coldness, his abandonment issues – and reconciliation with his adoptive father – have given him empathy and insight into Hong Jo's situation. In some ways, he is more loyal and emotionally available to the feline than Sol-ah, who professes to love him but has relegated him to an afterthought. Worse than that, she tells Hong Jo not to wait for her because it makes her feel pressured. Except that his feline nature is to wait for his human. When she finally shows up at home, her mind is preoccupied with mundane things, and her worries trump his. If I had a magical cat who could shapeshift into human form and talk with me, I'd pay attention to him. Oh, right... Back when I was Sol-ah's age, I was busy trying to get my career off the ground, and was running around like a chicken with my head chopped off...

*eats crow*

- Continued -

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Part 2 of 2

I'm not keen on the return of the catnapper. Truth to tell, I have wondered if he is really some kind of Grim Reaper whose job it is to give sanctuary to cats who slink off to die by themselves. All the talk of time running out has been making me very nervous on Hong Jo's behalf.

The scene of Hong Jo faithfully waiting for Sol-ah in the rain with the yellow umbrella was poignant. His attempt to make the most of his remaining time even while just walking her home from the bus stop was touching.

In addition to the trip to the aquarium, I got a kick out of that happy little group hug in Sol-ah's living room. It was so good to see Jae-seon being included, and enjoying it. Even better was his concern for Hong Jo being left alone, and going to check on him in the first place. Seeing the two of them hanging out on the couch together as Sol-ah walked in expecting the worst (i.e., HJ in cat form) was hilarious.

It was sweet how Ji-eun designed a spiffy new logo for Doo-shik's parents' restaurant. The mackerel was so realistic it was practically leaping off the page. I guess that Doo-shik's old logo was supposed to signify that their fish is so good that diners pick the bones clean. I find it ghoulish myself. (Has Bonefish Grill expanded to ROK or something?!)

-30-

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Thanks for the recap.

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I'm really not sure where this drama is going, and as a huge cat lover, it's made me weep quite a few times.

But regardless of where this story goes, and how it gets there, this drama has been a wonderful PSA about the terrible fates waiting for abandoned companion animals, and especially cats, who are more often abandoned when they grow out of their cute kitten stage, and/or left outside to fend for themselves because they are perceived as being "independent," and able to take care of themselves.

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