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Average user rating 2.2
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Sweet Munchies: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread

Our chef enjoys a few days of flirting as he and his PD crush play house together, but all good things must come to an end, especially when you’re pretending you’re someone you’re not. There are so many feelings flying around and no one talking about them, and eventually all that unspoken chemistry starts to break free in misdirected jealousies. Not to mention, little bro finally finds out about his hyung’s side hustle, and it all adds up to not a great time in Jin-sung’s world.

 
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP

Last week we left off with Tae-wan as he encountered Jing-sung’s pecs sauntering around Ah-jin’s apartment. Rather than just admit that Jin-sung was sleeping over until the burglar is caught, Jin-sung unsuccessfully tries to cover with excuses and send Tae-wan off as soon as possible. When he does leave, Tae-wan spots Jin-woo in the jacket Jin-sung wore during his audition, which throws up Tae-wan’s jealousy antennae again, and now it seems that he’s worried about both Ah-jin and Jin-woo competing for his crush’s affections. Sigh.

There’s plenty of jealousy to go around this week. While their time spent with Jin-sung sleeping on Ah-jin’s floor prompts some of this chemistry, the inevitable end of their cohabitation that seems to really drive the big, frustrating feelings of this pair of episodes. The burglar is caught (though not before Sung-eun announces Ah-jin’s constipation problem while Jin-sung hides in Ah-jin’s bathroom) and there’s officially no longer any reason for the two to fall asleep next to each other every night. Cue: some real toxic jealousy.

The problem here is that everyone else believes they are in a different reality from the one that Jin-sung actually resides in. So when Ah-jin finds herself jealous over Jin-sung’s ex-girlfriend (thanks, PD Nam and your continual efforts of evil), she assumes there’s no hope and doesn’t protest too hard when Sung-eun tricks her into a date with their colleague PD KANG MIN-SOO (at Bistro, of course).

The second-hand embarrassment is back in full force as Jin-sung barges his way into Ah-jin and Min-soo’s date. Forgive me if I missed something significant that happened in that scene; I was watching it through my fingers.

Jin-sung’s frustration finally erupts in some jealousy that does not look good on him at all. He mocks Ah-jin for her supposed insipid flirting, and thank goodness she stands up for herself and tells Jin-sung loud and clear that she doesn’t need his permission to date anyone. Jin-sung realizes that he’s overstepped as soon as she disappears out his door, but the damage is done.

Perhaps I can forgive him, if I consider the other stress Jin-sung has been under. You know it’s bad when your dad is sending giant boxes of potatoes to your front door. Jin-woo finally watches an episode of the show and realizes how his brother covered their dad’s hospital expenses. Understandably, he’s not happy. He understands the why, but it doesn’t mean that all is forgiven right away. Or does it?

Jin-sung doesn’t win his brother back with his food, but Jin-woo comes back around pretty quickly when offered a nice clothes rack and a private visit to Tae-wan’s studio. It really feels like Jin-woo should be more upset over this, right? He has a multi-layered complaint that he can lodge against his brother: lying to him, putting their livelihood in danger by committing fraud, and using Jin-woo’s actual identity as a costume to make quick cash.

But a quick flashback to the boys spending time with their mother and father before she died suggests that these two have been bonded together for a while, so perhaps they understand one another deeply enough to forgive quickly. And when they make up, it’s not because of the thing that Jin-sung loves (food), but rather by Jin-sung offering things that Jin-woo loves (fashion).

I’ve struggled to connect with Ah-jin since the beginning, mostly because her plans have felt naive and misguided. But I can appreciate the way that she sticks to her principles, and also doesn’t change for anyone. Everyone has wrinkled their noses up at her loud aesthetic and messy apartment, but Ah-jin clearly doesn’t care. After perhaps seeing one too many immaculate apartments in dramas lately, her style of cleaning is a breath of fresh air. Ah-jin just punting random things out of sight really made me smile.

And since the show is all about food, the preparation and the eating, I was so happy to see Ah-jin give it her all to make a meal to share with Jin-sung. Her skills definitely don’t compare to her chef bestie, but the show makes sure to show that it’s alright as long as you try and love what you’re doing while you do it.

And then there’s Tae-wan in this whole mess. Even when he’s being jealous and childish, he’s just so level-headed and smart. He’s able to ask Ah-jin about the mystery boy in Jin-sung’s life pretty quickly, and then all it takes is Ah-jin pointing out that Tae-wan has been over to her house just as much as anyone for him to dismiss his remaining concerns. If only his worries weren’t actually right on target, when it comes to Ah-jin at least.

Tae-wan is apparently the only one who can stand up to the trash can of a human being that is PD Nam. “A compliment isn’t supposed to offend anyone.” Tae-wan has been dropping these truths since day one. If only everyone else would step up for once. I’ve been disappointed by Ah-jin’s preference to just brush off PD Nam’s bad behavior, so it was good to see her really yell at him after he dragged Jin-sung’s ex-girlfriend out as his proof that Ah-jin is lying to everyone.

Though it still worries me that there hasn’t been an appropriate comeuppance for this guy so far. We need something to take him down a peg so that we don’t have to tolerate his gloating when the truth comes out. Now that he has the prospect of an interview, I can only imagine how he will screw things up and try to blame Ah-jin.
And then we have our big finale to close out the midpoint of our show. Ah-jin turns up drunkenly at Bistro and proceeds to confess her feelings to Jin-sung. Her confession is muddied by second-hand embarrassment for me as well, because I can’t help imagine her unloading this on a person who is actually gay and them then being forced to try to disentangle themselves from it all.

But once I brush that aside, there’s a lot of great tension leading into Jin-sung’s reciprocation. The moment takes it slowly, allowing Jin-sung to continue to flounder around until he realizes that she really does like him too, and then he leans in for a kiss that feels really right.

But next week is going to be really messy, isn’t it?

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PD Nam is clearly a jerk but in the same time, he was right to confirm that they didn't hire a heterosexual when all their show rests on the fact the chief must be gay. The issue is he's doing this to prove that Ah Jin is liar and not by professionalism.

I was surprised that everybody else thought that he had a girlfriend because he didn't do his coming out in the past and not because he wasn't gay at all. The characters are showing a trust that ML doesn't deserve at all.

Honestly, I don't like how Jin-sung doesn't seem more preoccupied by his lies than that. He's deceiving a lot of persons who work hard for this show.

I still watch this drama for Tae-wan. But I thought he understood that Jin Sung was not gay and not... I hope he would understand to avoid getting hurt by the situation. He doesn't deserve it! He's so a cutie behind his cold face :p

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I like to refer to PD Nam as Jerky McJerkins. You're right. He is not motivated by genuine concern. He remains a jealous and immature adult. I hope he has some character growth. Until then, my nickname for him stays. :)

As for Tae-wan--or Cutie Pie, as I like to call him--I really hope for the best.

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"Last week we left off with Tae-wan as he encountered Jing-sung’s pecs sauntering around Ah-jin’s apartment." 🤣 Great recap, @abirdword! You made me laugh more than the drama itself

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Still haven't watched ep 8, but here it goes:
*kind of hate this drama for making Taewan hurt. Taeean is precious and needs to be protected
*this said, Ahjin and Jinsung have great chemistry, they feel totally drawn to each other, and they look cute playing house
*still hating Jinsung's lies, at least now Brother found out and hope he gives him a earfull
*PD Nam, bringing the exgirlfriend in. That's ridiculous, can you believe this guy?
*hope Jinsung clears things up with Taewan as soon as possible. Can't stand to see him longing for someone he can't have
*Jimwoo could be a good ally for Taewan. Hope they don't go down the second-prize loveline, and just turn him into a cool friend and a force of positivity and self-acceptance in his life

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My personal opinion after these few episodes... I just feel like all these unspoken under-currents of tension that the drama is attempting to build up amongst the different characters -- Tae-wan and Ah-jin, Jin-sung and Ah-jin, Tae-wan and Jinsung, Jin-sung butting into Ah-jin and her colleague's "date" -- make these episodes so awkward and uncomfortable to watch almost the entire time. Heck, even the loveline between the writer and that junior PD feels awkward. I don't know if it's the way Jung Il-woo is portraying this role and enunciating the dialogue, but Jin-sung just feels incredibly stilted.

I don't know, it just feels like the writer doesn't have a central backbone theme to keep the plot going, the drama is just wandering around aimlessly and everything just feels like a mesh of different scenes edited together...

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Thanks for the review @abirdword. Watching this show is kind of fun, but embarrassing and makes me cringe so many times.
I too like how Ah-Jin really sticks to her guns about the show.
Tae-wan confuses me. It seems that he is seeing how Ah-Jin and Jing-Sung are close and MUST see the chemistry.
Shouldn't he be suspicious at this point? I mean, he has hinted and flirted in so many ways and nothing has come from Jing-Sung - hello - a gay man would know what that hand on the wrist means, right?
Not sure how I feel about the show but I'm still watching and very curious to see how they resolve the story line.

Why does it have to be a gay man who can be kind and wise as a chef? That premise is so flawed - just saying.

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That premise is stupid. But it kind of reminds me of Queer Eye, I think they might have gotten the idea from that one

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Disclaimer: I'm not dissing Queer Eye! I usually don't watch reality shows and only watched a couple of episodes, but it felt like a totally nice makeover show

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I did like Queer Eye and watched it for a long time - but they made it look like gay men were the only ones with fashion sense. At the time it was fun - but now I think not.
But I do agree that this is sort of like that show. however I do like that they aren't using the stereotype of the gay man with limp wrists.... (if you catch my drift there)

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I'm not sure how i want it to go. If PD Nam turns out to be gay, then he will be seen as the petty homophobic gay person who is full of self-loathing. If PD Nam turns out to be straight, he'll be seen as just the typical snooty power-mad male. This is where the writer in me pops up and i find myself wanting another layer of lovelines in a drama. I'm wishing PD Nam would fall for someone of another race. Itaewon Class is that once a year kdrama where race is worked into the story. Sweet Munchies is so good at tackling issues of prejudice, supposition, assumptions and love. Yet it all feels very human, even for a high concept story. I just want other aspects of troubled love to pop up.

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Disclaimer: I don't remember any of the characters names, except, "chef" "designer" "girl (not woman, girl)".
I've read all your comments and my take is different. Never mind all the ideas about what or what not is good writing, good characters, how they portray gay characters, etc. I wasn't paying attention.
All I was paying attention to was the fact I think the chef just doesn't realize he's gay. He has way more chemistry with the designer than with the girl. In fact, she's annoying me so much I can't stand it. It seems like she and the chef have a brotherly/sisterly relationship, not romantic. I'd rather he end up with the the designer.
Having said that, the kiss at the end was it for me. Plus the fact the younger gay brother now sees the designer as gay and is smiling too big. Does that mean they'll end up as a couple? Aargh.
I'm disgusted enough with these events that I've tuned out until it's over and I'll check it out then to see what happens. Yes, I'm shallow enough that I'm doing the same thing I accuse others of doing, quitting because I don't like what's happening or who's going to end up with whom (remember King Loves??)

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After this post, I'll probably have to change my name and go hide somewhere, but here goes anyway -- I understand how disappointing it can be when the couple you are shipping turns out to be the wrong couple. That just happened for me with Born Again as I was hoping for the couple to be the detective/prosecutor and the woman and not the woman with the psycho rich guy. And I also had some similar feelings as you about the chef perhaps being gay or bisexual but not admitting it to himself. It seemed (and still seems) a real possibility. But I really don't want him to be gay or bi. I want to see how it plays out to have him accept responsibilities for his dishonesty. I prefer that the character be straight even though he is digging himself in deeper and deeper with his lies. Seems like the only way to redeem himself is to actually be gay so he isn't so dishonest. The thing though is, that in real life, the percentage of lgbtq people is not really high, maybe 6% known. If this show also makes the chef gay, then the percentage of all the characters is getting pretty high, higher than real life. There are several US television shows that have a very high percentage of their characters being lgbtq as compared to all characters and those shows just don't seem to reflect an average slice of general American culture. With Korean culture, it seems the drama gods are pushing it with having so many characters in one drama be gay. The chef just pushes it too far, even though several of those don't seem to be quite "out" yet. It seems like it is taking the subject in too many directions to address it with compassion and honesty. There are too many different reactions all at once. For instance, the husband is portrayed as being horrible and selfish and such. But yet, not enough attention is being paid to his struggle all these years and how that struggle presented itself.

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But this isn't real life...
Besides which, how many men are bi but don't admit it, so it might be the percentage is higher than we know (or not!)
But one point you make I like - the dishonesty of the ML and how that might be covered. If I could just watch it from that perspective I might like it better.
However, I still can't stand the FL - I want to tell her to just shut up, shut your mouth, you are too annoying.
Then again, from my own perspective, I've been watching a lot of BL lately and it's probably influenced my outlook.

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zzthorn, I agree with you (also, I hated what the writers did with Born Again so much - making the FL a crazy, totally out-of-character freak, pinning her parent's (accidental) deaths on LSH's character to try to justify making him second ML, and trying to redeem psycho boy, who in his past life MURDERED TWO PEOPLE, including the man she allegedly loved, and who in his current life TRIED TO MURDER multiple people, including the man she allegedly loved! - that I just dropped that piece of sh*t in the middle of the penultimate episode. What TRASH. Plus I don't like that plastic looking other ML, or his wooden acting).

Anyway, while I agree that the scenes between Chef Park and Tae-wan ( who despite my long-time crush on Joon Il-woo, was my favorite character) were sexy, I also don't think it was ever, in ANY way, telegraphed or suggested that Chef Park was really gay or bi. EVER. And I agree with you that it would have been a cop-out. He needed to face up to what he did, which was pretty egregious. He hurt a lot of people. I would have been more understanding if he'd just done the pilot, but when he signed on for a full season just b/c he was crushing on the FL - nope. Not justifiable.

Because I felt that way, this drama almost immediately became one that I couldn't really like. I didn't like JIW's character. I didn't like the FL. But I kept watching for Lee Hak-Joo's wonderful, nuanced, emotionally moving portrayal of Tae-wan. My heart was just breaking for him, from beginning to end. I hope this role - and I understand he was also in WoTM, which I will never see - will lead to many more opportunities for him, because he deserves to be rewarded for his skill in this role. And I will forgive JIW because of Haechi, and hope the rumors of him taking the role in a new sageuk are true!

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@vespertyne I'm right there with you on Born Again!!! Actually, on this drama, too (Sweet Munchies) but I just didn't want to admit that I was disappointed in another of Jung Il Woo's dramas. I fell in love with Jung Il Woo in High Kick when he was a teenager or close to it, and have cheered for his success ever since. But by about the time Cinderella came along, I was totally disliking his dramas and I've not really seen anything since that I've cared for. So I really wanted this to be good and tried my hardest to love it. I don't. But it was "okay" and there was some good that came from it.

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I love sageuks, and I thought Haechi was just fantastic. I even liked Go Ara! And she usually annoys the hell out of me!

I really wish that Go Ara hadn't hurt herself during filming, and had to be out for three weeks, and play a limited role for the few episodes left when she returned. I think that hurt the momentum of the show, and that it would have been even better than it was had she not had to take that big chunk of time off, right when things were getting really interesting between her character and JIWs.

The Return of Iljimae was one of the very first Kdramas I watched when I found Kdramas almost exactly two years ago, and so after Lee Min-ho - who is Il-woo's BFF since forever - JIW was an early crush. Like all the other actors I immediately discovered, he was off doing his military duty when I came to Kdramaland, so Haechi was his first show upon return. And as noted, I loved it, and thought he was excellent. But like you, I was disappointed in this choice, especially since his character really wasn't very likable. But this storyline - it just wasn't fixable. The premise was flawed. I suspect JIW took it because he is an enthusiastic and accomplished chef, and liked that part of the story.

Do you follow him on YouTube? I love the clips of his cooking and reality show appearances. And I want to enjoy seeing him as often as possible. I hope he stays healthy.

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@Vespertyne29 No, I don't follow him on Youtube. In fact, I didn't watch Haechi either but that is because I have a huge dislike for Go Ara. People have said she's gotten better in the last year or so, but I'm still not ready to watch her in a drama. (strong dislike) Oh yes, I loved Return of Iljimae, too. :-)

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Also, just as a follow up to my prior comment, re the US shows that have an "unusually high percentage" of LGBTQ characters, are you talking about QAF?

If so, I have to disagree with you. Both the UK (my preferred version) and US versions feature gay men living in a particular area of a city that is known to be largely inhabited by gay men. Manchester's Canal Street is a real place. And while the version of version of Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh is more fictionalized, it is representative of real "gay meccas"/neighborhoods, like the Castro District in San Francisco, or Chelsea/Hell's KItchen/West Village neighborhoods in NYC. Of course LGBTQ people live all over those cities, but there may be a concentration of them living in certain areas, where there is also a thriving gay nightlife. Here in Seattle, if you want to go to gay clubs, then you'd probably go to Capital Hill, where you'd find gay bars and clubs like Neighbours, The Cuff, R Place, Madison Pub, etc. So I didn't find the fact that there were nightclubs and restaurants full of LGBTQ characters to be THAT unrealistic. Also, the focus of the dramas - both produced by gay men (RTD and real life couple Dan Lippman and Ron Cowan) - was on gay men (and the token lesbian couple!), and they didn't waste time with a lot of non-gay characters.

Just my opinion.

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Nope. I'm not talking about QAF. I don't even know what that is, but can probably guess fairly easily. I'm not at all interested in the culture and have no interest in devoting a large amount of time in watching a series like that might be. I was talking about something a lot more run of the mill. I was talking about one of the firemen/women shows, maybe 911 or something like that. Of course there are districts all much of the world with areas where there is a prevalence of LGBTQ groups that would make my statistics totally wrong. But I am not talking about that sort of thing (clubs and bars and such or districts where specialized groups of people go to be together). I'm just talking regular tv in the US showing a regular group of people who work at the same job. I think there are maybe 6 or 7 of the firefighters (or fire and police) who are LGBTQ and the departments are not that big to begin with. That's all I was speaking of.

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I absolutely adore Jung Il-woo (Haechi was one of my top dramas for 2019), and was excited when I read about this show. (Many Kdrama watchers may not know that JIW is an accomplished chef, loves to cook for his friends, and has participated and/or competed in several cooking shows, where he does very well. Plus I just like the guy).

That being said, after I was introduced to actor Lee Hak-Joo, and his lovely, sensitive, nuanced portrayal of obviously closeted designer Kang Tae-Wan, and witnessed the amazing sexual tension in that scene of him taking Chef Park Jin-Sung's measurements for his outfit for the cooking show's pilot episode, I got a very uncomfortable, tight ache in my heart, and every episode so far has just made that feeling worse.

The joke isn't funny. And to give some credit to the writer and PD, they aren't playing it for laughs. But while I'm thankful neither Tae-wan nor Chef Park's sweet younger brother, Jin-woo, are being presented - in the historical Kdrama fashion (see atrocity SWDBS) - as OTT, offensively stereotyped LGBT characters, used as a running punch line for jokes, in what passes for "comic relief" in these horrible dramas, then WTF actually IS the point of this drama??

While I appreciate Chef Park's financial desperation that led him to agree to the pilot episode of the show, his continued deception about his sexuality is just too uncomfortable and problematic for me. I have a problem that his motivation went from financial desperation caused by people other than himself, to advancing his romantic interests by saving Kim A-Jin's career. Too many innocent people, including the people he loves, not to mention himself and his business/career, are going to be hurt.

And I just can't stand to see Tae-wan waiting there, confused by the mixed messages, but ready to open his heart to Jin-Sung, only to be inevitably shot down. And although Ji-sung seems utterly clueless about Tae-wan's attraction to him, his rudeness to and impatience with Tae-wan is painful to see.

I haven't watched this week's episode, but it looks as if merde is going to hit the proverbial fan, and then what? How is this fixable? How do any of them set aside what is going to be seen as an epic betrayal, and move forward with their relationships intact?

If only. But I don't know what "if only" there could be here. If only Jin-sung were really a closeted gay man, and ended up being the one who as struggling to accept his sexuality? If only Tae-wan wasn't falling in love with Jin-sung, but saw him as a confidant, in whom he could safely confess his sexual orientation, and ask for advice about living openly as himself? Maybe meeting and falling for someone else? Like the younger brother? (Not as a consolation prize, but as the initial attraction?)

I don't know what could happen to make this show anything but an uncomfortable hot mess, and painful to watch. What I see is Ji-Sung on his way to ruining his...

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and Ah-Jin's careers, hurting his family and loved ones, and betraying the emotionally vulnerable Tae-wan, who is my favorite character by far.

But I will probably bear the discomfort and heartache, and continue watching, hoping that Tae-wan ends up in a good place, and is happy.

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I've been bingeing from episode 1 till now. The premise of the gay chef coming out in the show was okay - Jin-sung had a lot of misgivings after the first shoot so when they got a regular slot he didn't want to do the show. He agreed to do the show for Ah-jin. I think Jin-woo's got a better perspective of what Jin-sung's action implied in the show.

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I am starting to think our Designer needs someone much better than the chef. I really don't care what happens to the chef at this point, I am finding him to be a bit of A-hole ( the character, not the actor ) Interesting to see how it all ends though I must say it is quite sloppy right now. ( episode 7 ) I do enjoy the romance building between the writer and assistant- I like them together. PD Nam is many things but at the same time, I find him interesting.

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