Rating:
Average user rating 2.2
29

Sweet Munchies: Episodes 9-10 Open Thread

I suspected things would get messy this week, and while I certainly wasn’t wrong about it, it wasn’t for the reasons I expected. Our chef’s efforts to keep the lie going no matter what causes a lot of heartache. He faces a difficult choice: protect the show or protect the innocent people who are being hurt along the way?

 
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP

We resume this week where we last left Ah-jin and Jin-sung, locked at the lips at Bistro. Ah-jin’s reaction is to duck away home, search the internet for opinions about what it all means, and then pretend that she remembers nothing when she next encounters Jin-sung later that evening at her doorstep. I’d say that this isn’t a solid strategy, but they barely pretend that nothing happened before sitting right down and talking it out. The truth doesn’t come out, but at least no lame excuses are uttered either.

It seems like Jin-sung can’t possibly keep the lie inside his heart any longer, and yet he somehow manages to refrain from confessing anything and just shoots her down with a shrug about his actions. I thought surely that this uncertainty and confusion would drag out through the week, but instead their talk happens pretty quickly and Ah-jin respectfully backs off.

And so Ah-jin announces that she’s going to focus on her first true love, work. It’s the one thing that all three corners of our love triangle have in common, and also the first thing that they all turn to when they’re hurting. But all three also struggle keeping their spirits up with their favorite professional distractions.

So that leads us to Jin-sung’s second opportunity to tell the truth and the heartbreak that is the final triangle angle: Tae-wan. Sigh. He spends the episode feeling encouraged by what he sees as bravery and openness all around him from his new friends. When Sung-eun and Jae-soo finally confess their relationship by gathering the gang together at Bistro (when did Jin-sung have time between all the cooking, sending mixed signals, and filming to brew his own beer?), Tae-wan sees a reality that might be possible for him too.

And when all hell breaks loose at the restaurant when some intolerant hecklers turn up, Tae-wan sees nothing but bravery in Jin-sung’s response at the police station afterwards when Jin-sung refuses to back down and accept the blame. Speaking of bravery, if you were wondering what it would take for Tae-wan to lose his cool, the answer is the most vile of assholes. He’s been chill even during PD Nam’s thoughtless disrespect, but he won’t tolerate explicit vileness and erupts with a mighty punch to one of the men’s faces. He’s so full of respect for Jin-sung that he doesn’t see the valor in his own actions.

We’re starting to learn more about Tae-wan’s experiences when he was younger, and how they have built up a wall of shame and denial for many years. Seeing someone stand up for themselves and remain in the spotlight even when the world is cruel, he feels hopeful.

So of course, dude shows up with a giant bottle of absinthe and does his best to confess to Jin-sung. He hopes that the overt symbolism of the devil’s drink will open Jin-sung’s mind to the truth, since all the wrist grabs and standing super close attempts seemed to have failed.

Jin-sung finally gets it, and it’s heartbreaking. Instead of taking this moment to tell the truth, Jin-sung delivers a rejection to his second suitor. At least we get to enjoy a sweet scene of Ah-jin and Tae-wan finally getting past their awkwardness to unknowingly commiserate about being rejected by the same guy, but it’s not worth seeing the pain in Tae-wan’s tearful eyes.

Add to that Jin-sung’s attempts to derail his little brother’s TV career and his father discovering the show, and Jin-sung spends some quality time wallowing. The juxtaposition of Jin-sung wiping away the hateful graffiti left on his restaurant with Ah-jin reading him letters of gratitude from fans was really striking, because Jin-sung can find no comfort in any of it. His whole life has become a sham.

I can’t believe that Jin-sung hasn’t told someone, but I think I see the problem. Jin-sung selfishly doesn’t want anyone to hate him for this. Because if he could be selfless about it all, he would have told Tae-wan the truth the moment he confessed, and he would have told Ah-jin ages ago. He’d rather double down now than admit to anyone that he’s the bad guy.

It doesn’t help that he’s getting reinforcement for this view from PD Lee. I will say, giving the truth to that guy was ingenious. We know exactly what PD Nam would do with the information. But PD Lee was a wildcard. He cares about harmony and he cares about his company, and so he goes to the root of the lie and tells Jin-sung to never ever tell the truth for the sake of Ah-jin’s show.

The brewing emotions swirl us right into the final moments, as Tae-wan brings his friends together at Bistro to come out to them. He still wants to emulate Jin-sung and be honest to himself. And so Jin-sung chooses the most painful and unfair moment to admit that he’s not really gay. Next week, Jin-sung will finally have to be the bad guy, and we’ll have to see how he handles it. I haven’t liked the flares of anger we’ve seen come up when he’s vented his frustration at Ah-jin, and I hope he doesn’t do the same with Tae-wan. He’s going to have to do a lot of work to try to undo all of this. Good luck, Jin-sung.

RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , , ,

29

Required fields are marked *

When I first heard about the drama, before it started airing, I was intrigued by the premise and hopeful that it would be something new and exciting. But after reading these entries on here, I've lost interest in it. I will definitely not be watching it, because honestly, I want a show where I can actually like the characters, and the ML and FL do not strike me as competent adults who are capable of actually adulting. In fact, they're just short of being terrible people. The only character who seems decent is Tae Wan, but alas, his decency is not enough to sell me on the story. I don't know how our leads want to redeem themselves, but I'll be back to see how it all pans out. Truly disappointed because I expected so much more from the show.

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't like JS, not anymore. He says that he's gay and then he kiss his (girl)friend? That was mean. She was feeling sad and confused without any of his help. And then telling TW to hide who he is, just like him -because he's not gay-, was soooooo awful. He needs to stop making people suffer.

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the wee-cap. There are so many comments about what a mess of a show this is, but I've continued to watch it and have found it a very sensitive portrayal of how hard it is to live as a gay man in SK.
Granted, the story of Jin-sung lying to make money for his dad - and even the idea of a 'gay chef' preference for the show is not the best.

But we are seeing the effect of all this on Tae-wan and it is so heartbreaking to see the pain on his face when he's talking to his dad, but even more so when he confesses his love.
So for me I'm seeing this show in the light of how hard it must be to not be able to be yourself and love who you want.

Yes the story is messy, but I'm still in to see how it gets resolved.

6
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@stpauligurl,
I agree that the show still has its merits, and am still watching avidly. In many ways, Jin-sung is Tae-wan Lite, but with different issues.

Another show with a character arc in a related vein is tvN's 2006 HYENA. Although the rest of the drama is more akin to a 19-rated raunchy male version of SEX IN THE CITY, yet another gay chef/cooking consultant's quest to live and love is sensitively addressed. Shin Sung-rok is terrific in the role. I mentioned it in What We're Watching on 6/27/20:
https://www.dramabeans.com/2020/06/team-dramabeans-what-were-watching-214/#comment-3682407

Family drama LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (2010) also has a touching subplot with a memorable gay OTP.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I think they missed what they could do with this story. We have a brave ML who fight for LGBT's rights but all his message is lost because he's lying about being gay.

Honestly, it's hard to feel empathy for Jin Sung because he put himself in this situation and lied when he had a lot of occasions to say the truth.

I just watch it for Tae Wan!

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Great review and recap, thanks! This show is so underrated, but people want fluff and happy, not hard, sad truths about the pain society inflicts on some. Admittedly, at one point I dropped the show because it wasn't going where I wanted it to go couple wise. But so glad I picked it back up - it's so much more, so much deeper than that. It's all about truth, lies, and how society inflicts pain on someone who doesn't fit in. I feel so much empathy for the gay designer and can totally feel what he goes thru on a daily basis. This drama is deep enough I wouldn't be surprised if it's a very sad ending for him.

4
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes - it is good in that aspect. It's painful to watch Jin-sung NOT be honest with the people around him. But he is going to pay the price - and in this case he will deserve it.

The actor playing Tae-wan is doing a fantastic job - so different from the icky boyfriend in the world of the married.
I feel his pain, just looking at his eyes.

6
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

"just looking at his eyes..." Yes, he's fantastic. And I'm glad you covered Jin-sung's journey, I wasn't sure what to say...

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, the actor playing Tae-wan conveys so much with his face. And when he cries, I can feel his heart break. His acting is subtle.

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I meant to say, "And when he cries, it's heartbreaking."

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Jin-sung is the worsssstttt!!!! OMG
1. Lies about being gay (for pay)
2. Tries to hold his brother (an actual gay male) from auditioning for a program bc he wants to keep his secret (and prevent anyone from finding out about his gay brother)
3. Kisses Ah-jin, then makes it worse by saying it was a mistake
4. Misses ALL the signs Tae Wan constantly gives him
5. Has the nerve to tell TW to hide his true self.

I know they will try to redeem him in some way before the drama is over. But honestly, I don't see how. He's inflicted some pretty major trauma on TW

5
12
reply

Required fields are marked *

You have to also remember he's fairly traumatized himself. And talk about feeling guilty, you can see how much guilt he's carrying around. I don't think there are any easy answers in this drama.
1) Wasn't he so desperate for finances to help his father that he didn't consider the consequences of his actions?
2) That would have tumbled all the blocks down and the truth would be known too soon (drama wise).
3) Was his kissing her a mistake or not? In the earlier episodes I was sure he was gay but didn't realize it, or at least he was bi. Now I'm not so sure. And that kiss - not the best kiss I've ever seen...
4) Everybody seems to have missed all the signs that Tae Wan was gay, except for us, the outside observer who have the advantage of clever camera work.
5) There are pros and cons to coming out. And inadvertent consequences to either choice.
My take: I wonder how Tae Wan will react to the news Jin-sung isn't gay. Will he still think it's important to come out? Will he see it could be a huge mistake? Or will he be more devastated that Jin-sung isn't into him? i.e. will he be strong and survive?
I don't think Jin-sung is inherently an evil person, just a human being with all the flaws a human can have. Unfortunately his mistakes do impact those around him in a huge way.
Jin-sung so far is a very weak person but this whole thing is like a house of cards that is going to fall really soon.
It's going to ruin everybody involved.
And we didn't mention the girl because women are survivors.
So fascinating.

2
11
reply

Required fields are marked *

@linda-palapala
"I don't think Jin-sung is inherently an evil person, just a human being with all the flaws a human can have. Unfortunately his mistakes do impact those around him in a huge way."
Well said (or wrote) - Jin-sung isn't a bad person, but he's made some pretty bad choices for all the good reasons.
I hope they end this well - and realistically if nothing else.

At least we have DinnerMate on the same nights to balance this out.

2
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

And realistically could be multiple choice...

2
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ending up with Jin-sung's little brother is an easy out. But I'd love to see Tae-wan open up to his father and be honest.
This is such a painful and loaded topic.

I need to think about the best outcome that could be done for this show.
The writers are surely pushing boundaries with their portrayal of a gay man coming out of the closet. There is hope for South Korea - slim, but some hope...
My youngest brother was pulled out of the closet and demeaned by our father. He never got over being rejected by my dad. :-(

When my son came out all he could say was " I knew you all knew I was gay"...

Sometimes there is so much pain to be who we are on the inside.

4

@stpauligurl June 26, 2020 at 9:07 PM

How terrible for your maknae. And how painful for your son.

One of my elders grew up gay in the Bible Belt, not that it would have been any better anywhere else back in those days. Add to that his dysfunctional family, and life for him was hell on earth.

SWEET MUNCHIES is doing a good job depicting the messy aspects of family life. I agree that it would be good if Tae-wan could speak his truth to his father. Perhaps Dad has a bombshell of his own. Maybe he himself married and raised a family for cover. Even if that is not the case, something's got to give. Tae-wan is suffocating.

1

@pakalanapikake
Apparently I wrote it wrong about my son. His father and I always for some reason thought he was gay even though he gave no indication. And I was totally fine and always talked about falling in love without any reference to gender. I had some close gay couples as friends so he was surrounded by understanding and acceptance.
But it wasn't until he graduated from college that he finally told us. And even then he said "I know you and dad already know, but I'm gay..."
I wasn't shocked or surprised but I still didn't know what to say.
congratulations? oh how nice?
Instead I asked what took him so long to come out.
My little brother came out in the early 90's and it was hard in our right-wing conservative family. I had no problem along with one other brother. And the three of us are still really close.
So this show is painful to watch and realize it's still so very hard for some people to be honest with their family.
The pain in Tae-wan's eyes is so very intense and my heart just hurts for him.
Thank goodness things are a little bid less rigid. I feel for your uncle and coming out in those days and that part of the country.

1

@pakalanapikake @stpauligurl
As long as we're exchanging stories...
One of my former piano students, as it turns out, was gay in high school when I was his teacher. Wish he'd told me as I would have supported him wholeheartedly. But in my conservative "Christian" area, how would he know I would be supportive? When I later learned of some of the prejudices he faced at that time (from the local mega-church) it turned me off of any of that type of what I consider pseudo-religion.
Anyway, his mom was totally supportive, gobsmackingly so. This young man is now a Hollywood PD and very successful. You would have heard of several things he's done. I credit the support he had from his mom.

2

I think TW will care about JS so much, he won't want to see him get hurt. So he will do what he can to help JS over the hurdle, all the while hiding his hurt and suffering alone.

We know that by kdrama rules, first loves are either devastatingly bad or the magic bullet that solves all problems ( I say that half sarcastically).

TW has acted in ways that all ML in dramas act towards their FL love interests - longing stares, physical closeness, finds ways for physical contact, the kdrama wrist grab, gets drunk in front of his love interest, defends them in all situations. Basically all the things JS is doing for Ah-jin. I know we are the 4th wall and privy to info the character may not but the cues should make JS at least pause for a second to consider something is different about their interactions .

I would be pleasantly surprised if they make him bi. It would take some major growth on the part of JS to acknowledge this *fingers crossed*. However, I believe they will pair TW with the little brother.

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Honestly, I hope they don't pair TW with the little brother. My heart sank when I saw the look on the little brother's face when he first met TW.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Me too - but as the only other gay man in the show it would make sense they'd try to add it to the script.
What would be better is if TW mentors the little brother.

2

@linda-palapala,
Thank you for standing up for Jin-sung. He has been trapped in a life of quiet desperation since long before the SWEET MUNCHIES circus took on a life of its own. I've just posted my take on the situation. His sexual orientation might be different, but he, too, has been prejudged and discriminated against. He has managed to barely survive economically, and is still skating on thin ice. My sense is that Dad is another patented Kdrama Financially Incompetent Parent, and this isn't the first time #1 son has had to bail him out. I suspect that hyung has been worried sick on behalf of Jin-woo, too, especially now that he himself has been the target of homophobic hatred.

Paradoxically, I think that if anyone would be able to appreciate Jin-sung's predicament, it will be Tae-wan himself. He has been there most of his life socially and emotionally, but maybe has not gone through the financial trials that Park Chef has.

I'm wondering if Jin-sung and Tae-wan will be able to remain platonic friends. I have a feeling that it is indeed possible because that is the kind of person Jin-sung is. Tae-wan has never taken him for granted, and has listened closely to his advice. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

"It will be interesting to see how this plays out..."
Exactly! Please don't have a "pat" ending! Make it logical, believable and very human.
Thanks so much for your comment and support!

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Beware of Spoilers

Part 1 of 2

Thank you for the wee-cap, @abirdword.

Don’t get me started on obnoxious Boss Cha, who refuses to hire a hard-working contractor, yet keeps a waste of oxygen like PD Nam on the payroll. PD Lee is another loser who continues to coast on his laurels after 20 years. How many times can you plagiarize yourself while being the official staff mentor busybody?

I’ve concluded that SWEET MUNCHIES is a black comedy about the behind-the-scenes insanity that prevails at TV stations. If I look at it as a scathing indictment of the systems that endlessly churn out recycled dreck masquerading as entertainment, it’s actually pretty clever. Boss Cha’s bean-counter mentality highlights the fact that no matter how nifty a concept for a show might be, if it won’t make money, it won’t get produced. TV is a business, not a charity. All the more reason to appreciate a show that ventures into the lion’s den to “pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger.” ;-)

I sympathize most with closeted designer Kang Tae-wan, followed closely by Park Chef. Tae-wan has always come across as dignified, serious, creative – and dreadfully lonesome. Jin-sung has his own sorrows, but Tae-wan’s life is suffocating in a way that makes Park Chef’s problems seem like small potatoes in comparison. Not that existential misery is a contest.

When I look closely at what has brought Jin-sung to this truly messed-up crossroads, I see a perfect storm of factors. Aside from Jin-sung’s inability or unwillingness to clear up several misunderstandings and outright lies, I place the majority of the blame on PD Kim. If other events and conditions had not already been in play, I doubt that Jin-sung would have gotten involved in the first place. In chronological order:

1) Financially-incompetent Dad incurs massive hospital debt by being uninsured when he has a traffic accident and is out of work for who knows how long – one of my most hated tropes. Grrrr!

2) Jin-sung's business partner pulls the plug on Bistro to start his own eatery with no warning or explanation. I have never quite understood exactly what happened. Jin-sung's livelihood is shot out from under him – as is the physical environment that he has lovingly created as an expression of his own personality and aesthetic sense.

3) Jin-sung learns that the landlady is looking to rent Bistro’s space. He buckles calculates how much money he needs to pay Dad’s hospital bills and to single-handedly pay the rent on Bistro while providing a home for Jin-woo. He never considers throwing in the towel and cutting his losses.

4) Jin-sung cannot get a loan from a legitimate moneylender. He has to borrow from loansharks who charge illegally exorbitant interest for a short-term loan until he can resume making money with Bistro. I was afraid that he would have to sell a kidney.

- Continued -

0
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Part 2 of 2

5) Jin-sung is too filial for his own good. As the eldest son, he takes responsibility for supporting his younger brother so he can attend better schools than back home in the country – even though his own living situation is precarious. He is also a rescuer and enabler. In essence, he inadvertently disrespects his incompetent father by not allowing him to face the consequences of his own negligence and foolish actions.

6) The most culpable party, in my opinion, is contract PD Kim A-jin. As a regular at Bistro, she has herself experienced firsthand Park Chef’s compassionately speaking with patrons while serving delicious food and drinks in a comfortable atmosphere. As a good listener, he helps them reframe their attitudes towards difficult situations in their lives. She admires his insights and problem-solving skills.

I cannot see how PD Kim can say she spent 4 years developing this show. She is basically plagiarizing his life and passing it off as an original concept. I call BS.

7) Instead of simply proposing that the compassionate and insightful Chef Park host a TV advice show that combines food and psychology, PD Kim decides the concept is not sexy enough, and insists on introducing alien elements that have nothing to do with the man who has inspired the proposal in the first place. In essence, she tells Park Chef that he is not good enough for the role. By stipulating that the fictional chef be gay – so that she can quixotically “foster understanding” by the rest of judgmental society that gays have feelings just like everyone else, PD Kim puts Jin-sung in the untenable position of being the originator of the food and advice consulting service who is unqualified to play himself because of his sexual orientation – which never had anything to do with how he related to other people to begin with.

8) PD Kim then has the nerve to ask Jin-sung to help her find a gay chef pronto to host the show. She is so fixated on having the host be gay that she never even thinks to ask the man whose daily life is the basis for her idealistic reality show whether he is interested in hosting it. She disqualifies him off the bat. It strikes me as worse discrimination than the honestly hostile in-your-face bigotry of the demonstrators in front of the TV offices.

9) Jin-sung knows that no established chef would be willing to risk his livelihood or reputation on such a project. In his misguided attempt to help a friend (while earning money to pay back the loansharks and the hospital, and to save his beloved Bistro), Jin-sung in effect sells his soul. If ever there were a case of no good deed going unpunished, this is it.

- 30-

1
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for putting into words what I have felt but unable to express about PD Kim. I only knew for some reason I didn't like her...
If things go as in almost every kdrama ending, they'll end up together as a couple and Jin-sung will never know he's at least bi if not actually gay (I'm reading my own ideas into this, aren't I?)

1
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

@linda-palapala,

From the beginning, I didn't like how PD Kim insisted that the chef had to be gay to make the show edgy, trendy, or whatever, and it didn't sit right with me. If anyone asked her if she even knew a single gay person, how would she have answered. All I can say is, "Heaven save us from idealists."

I'm actually hoping that Jin-sung doesn't end up with PD Kim. I would be thrilled if he cuts loose like the rant I posted above, and refuses to do a second season. The preview makes me wonder if he's going to call it quits in Seoul and go back to the boonies and try to live an anonymous life, if that's even possible.

Your scenario would be radical, but I like it, especially if Jin-sung gets some breathing room to actually live instead of running to put out everyone else's fires. Fingers crossed that he gets the hell out of Dodge City and away from mooncalf PD Kim.

I've been wondering if PD Nam doesn't have some secret baggage of his own.

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Your ending of Jin-sung getting the hell out of Dodge and away from Mooncalf PD Kim - that sounds like a logical, good ending. Do away with the late stage capitalism and live a simple life...

2

I am a avid Jung IL Woo follower and like anything he is in - including Sweet Munchies. Some of the story line I was not happy with but, I must think about the SK culture. I was very upset with how the boss of the young lady treated her! It almost made me want to punch the TV!!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *