Memorials: Episode 11
Our heroine continues to champion the fight to save Sarang neighborhood, but that’s not the only fight she finds herself in. As tensions rise, so do feelings. Passion is a powerful fuel and while it makes our couple unstoppable when they’re together, it’s equally powerful when they’re at odds.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
After hearing the neighborhood rep’s confession, the name change petition was forged on the orders of Assemblyman Yang, Se-ra and Gong-myung leave. Se-ra wonders if they should really let the man go, but Gong-myung sees little point in contacting the police. She questions Assemblyman Yang’s involvement – suggesting he’s being framed – and Gong-myung asks if she ever met Yang.
Admitting she hadn’t, Se-ra asks about Gong-myung’s meeting with Yang the night of his fatal accident. He clarifies Yang showed up unannounced and we flashback to see the meeting in full. After introducing himself and confirming Gong-myung’s identity, Yang had revealed he knew Chairman Jo is Gong-myung’s father. He mentioned a 2002 Sarang Resort fire that resulted in Gong-myung’s parents’ divorce and Gong-myung accused him of spying on civilians.
Assemblyman Yang pointed out Chairman Jo is a public official – not a civilian – and Gong-myung argued that doesn’t give Yang the right to question him. Smirking that father and son truly don’t get along, Yang told Gong-myung to call if he wanted to know what Chairman Jo did after the fire. He’d walked away with a shit-eating grin and Gong-myung crumpled the business card in his hand.
In the present, Se-ra mulls over Golf Ball Granny and Sarang neighborhood elder’s comments on Assemblyman Yang and decides to look into Yang herself. Cut to Se-ra slurping her drink as Hee-soo questions why Se-ra called her out this late just to ask about Assemblyman Yang. When Se-ra explains Hee-soo was the most likely to give her an honest assessment, Hee-soo complies: “He was the epitome of corruption, a dirty politician, and a two-faced hypocrite.”
Hee-soo continues Yang would promise to take care of complaints to help district businesses win contracts and took many bribes in the past three years. Se-ra’s jaw drops and Hee-soo pointedly tuts people fail to hire the right people for jobs. She says this was why Yang’s funeral was a fiasco and Se-ra realizes everyone knew except her.
At Chairman Jo’s, Gong-myung allows Jo to pour him a drink but leaves it untouched. Instead, Gong-myung shares Assemblyman Yang visited him on the day of his accident. Chairman Jo denies being involved in the hit-and-run, but admits Yang was his mole in the Progressive Party (just as Heo is Chief Won’s mole in the Conservative Party). When Yang began taking bribes, Jo says he warned him, but Yang didn’t listen and regardless, he was still useful to Chairman Jo.
Gong-myung questions why Sarang was added to Smart One City project and set to be renamed. Chairman Jo claims it was all Chief Won’s doing and he was merely an observer. Gong-myung tells him to keep watching, then: “You’ll find out for whom and how hard I’ll work.” Jo muses Se-ra is kind… but kindness doesn’t equate a good politician. Gong-myung retorts that’s Chairman Jo’s way of justifying his choices and takes his leave.
The next day, Gong-myung calls to ask why they’d received the full documents on Smart One City rather than the usual summaries. Confused, the clerk says they always send both to the secretariat. Gong-myung tells Se-ra it’s suspicious but Se-ra chirps she’s finally being recognized. Gong-myung retorts they’re not out of the woods yet and Se-ra grumbles at his brutal honesty.
She says she met with Hee-soo and learned the bribery charges against Assemblyman Yang were true. Having already told her that, Gong-myung questions who she trusts more. He accuses her of favoring Assemblyman Yang and Se-ra quips she has her reasons but is too annoyed to tell him. Growing equally irritated, Gong-myung snaps Se-ra is too trusting. Se-ra retorts he’s too suspicious and standoffish: “No wonder you don’t have any friends.”
Offended, Gong-myung leaves in a huff and Se-ra calls out he started it. She accuses him of ignoring her and always saying no. Gong-myung snaps it’s for her career and Se-ra scoffs he sounds like Dad. He dares her to try working with a lesser secretary, insisting there’s no one like him. Se-ra vows to find one and unable to come up with a comeback, Gong-myung leaves.
The lover’s spat results in Yong-kyu taking over the position and he sits glumly spacing out as Gong-myung gives him a rundown of his duties. He glares at Se-ra’s office and huffs but when Yong-kyu asks if there’s anything else he should know about Se-ra’s preferences and habits, Gong-myung reminisces fondly over Se-ra’s eccentricities.
His voice is emotional as he says Se-ra will eat anything, enjoys drinking, and can sleep anywhere… and then he snaps out of it, leaving Yong-kyu more confused than ever. Se-ra is eating lunch when Gong-myung walks into their usual restaurant. They make eye contact and then Gong-myung huffs and walks to a different table. He immediately turns back to look at her, but Se-ra is already offended and storms out.
Woo-young leaves the Mawon Office dejected, having hoped to get Se-ra to apply for a credit card at her new job only to find she’d already left. She meets Min-jae on the way out and when they relocate to a coffee shop, he signs up, instead. He praises Woo-young’s proactivity… and then asks if Se-ra comes to the comic book shop daily. Woo-young blurts Se-ra is too busy with work and dating.
Pushing through the awkward tension, Woo-young tentatively asks if Min-jae knows Se-ra is dating Gong-myung. He freezes and grips the pen tighter but smiles and admits he didn’t know. Changing subjects, Min-jae offers to get more clients for Woo-young and she gratefully hands him a stack of 10 as he looks thoughtful.
The next day, Se-ra delays the end of a meeting by announcing the residents’ petitions for Smart One City were forged. Following Chief Won’s words to things transparent and democratic, Se-ra proposes they re-examine the renaming of Sarang neighborhood. Chief Won spits Se-ra better produce proof or relinquish her position on the district council. Agreeing, Se-ra cheerfully asks her to attend the meeting.
Afterwards, Se-ra asks Yong-kyu about a meeting place and learns Mawon Office is booked up. Suggesting a meeting room near the service center, Se-ra offers to call. She asks about posters and when Yong-kyu says they don’t have the budget for a designer, Se-ra offers to do that as well. Finally, he indicates a mountain of files sent over on the name change from Mawon Office. Se-ra suggests they each take half and Yong-kyu pouts at the daunting towers but can’t argue.
In the Secretariat office, Dae-cheol asks why Yong-kyu volunteered to be Se-ra’s secretary. He grumbles he had to, whining Gong-myung could’ve quit after the Sarang project. Gong-myung offers to take half of Yong-kyu’s share, claiming he feels responsible. Yong-kyu turns hopefully to Dae-cheol, who wonders what Yong-kyu will do if they do his work. Yong-kyu says he’ll support Se-ra so Gong-myung tells him to do it properly.
Cue Yong-kyu back in Se-ra’s office, this time announcing he’d booked the meeting room she suggested and, using the designs she’d submitted while at the service desk, made a poster. Se-ra asks how he got the files and Yong-kyu sputters Dae-cheol gave them to him. Se-ra thinks his manner of speech sounds odd, but Yong-kyu denies it. Meanwhile, Gong-myung organizes the files on the name change.
En route to their next appointment, Yong-kyu texts to confirm he’d done as he was told and awaits further instructions. Se-ra guesses he has a girlfriend and Yong-kyu quickly denies it, changing the subject to apologize for making Se-ra drive because he doesn’t have a license. Se-ra waves it off and then asks if he has insurance before zipping through traffic like a maniac.
At the elder’s house, the neighborhood representative pouts at them for getting his father involved and Se-ra points out he wouldn’t answer his phone. She asks him to attend the meeting and make a statement about the forged resident petition. The elder demands who paid him and the man insists he received nothing and scurries away. Yong-kyu looks up from texting and recites the man will likely shift blame to Assemblyman Yang to cover it up.
Gong-myung is still working when he receives an update text from Yong-kyu. Returning to the Sarang name change files, the minutes from a meeting in July gives him pause. Meanwhile, Se-ra tries again to speak with the neighborhood rep. There’s no answer, so she sticks a letter to his door and calls out a final plea for him to attend the meeting.
The following day, Se-ra’s meeting immediately devolves into a screaming match between attendees. Thankfully, Se-ra spots the neighborhood rep peek inside and she drags up to the front to give his statement. He repeats the same thing he’d told Se-ra and Gong-myung, except now he claims Yang was acting under Chief Won’s orders (when before he swore he didn’t know who was backing Yang).
The rep immediately leaves and Se-ra chases him down to thank him for coming. The man barks at Se-ra for sending her secretary to threaten him and Se-ra looks accusingly at Yong-kyu. He quickly denies it and they realize he must mean Gong-myung. Se-ra returns to the meeting room where Gong-myung is cleaning up and asks if it was him.
A flashback shows Gong-myung researching the timeline to find the new name contest was held in August… except the names had already been listed on the bill passed in July. Furthermore, the winner was the Sarang rep’s daughter. Gong-myung went to the man’s house after Se-ra left to confront him for receiving his bribe via prize winnings in a faux contest. Handing the man Se-ra’s letter, he urged him to come clean.
In the present, Se-ra thanks him and Gong-myung puts his foot in his mouth by claiming he was just doing it for Yong-kyu. Se-ra retracts her gratitude and pushes past Gong-myung as she storms out in a renewed fury.
Min-jae reports to Chairman Jo and we see Min-jae had been inside with the Sarang rep when Se-ra had pleaded for his attendance at her meeting. When she left, Min-jae insisted the rep blame the forgery on Chief Won. In the present, Min-jae worries Chief Won will disprove the lie. Chairman Jo is confident people will only focus on Chief Won being the biggest beneficiary of the scam and sharing a party with Yang.
He hopes to bring her down before the general election but Min-jae is concerned this could draw suspicion. Chairman Jo explains that’s why he placed Se-ra at the forefront – to take all the damage. He walks away and Min-jae looks uncomfortable.
Picking up Ja-ryong from judo practice, Han-bi runs into her former opponent and they sit together, eating ice cream. The instructor learns Han-bi is Ja-ryong’s afterschool caretaker and Ja-ryong insists Han-bi isn’t unemployed – she owns a comic book café. The woman says she’s happy teaching kids after her rehabilitation and tentatively asks why Han-bi quit judo. Unable to answer, Han-bi focuses on eating her ice cream.
Over at Mawon Credit Cooperatives, only two interns managed to meet their goals… and Woo-young deflates as they only recognize the nepotism hire. Afterwards, she sits glumly in the bathroom and overhears the other two interns tittering that Woo-young worked hard for nothing. They scoff at her desperation, thinking she should stay home with her kid. Woo-young bursts out of the stall to give them a dressing down… but it’s just another fantasy.
That evening, the three friends chug beer in miserable solidarity. With only one can remaining, Se-ra announces Gong-myung has become cold and will likely dump her soon. She reaches for the can, but Woo-young counters she’d struggled to meet the intern goal only for another woman to surpass her with connections and snatches it up. They freeze when Han-bi says she met the woman she’d injured at Ja-ryong’s judo class.
Woo-young gently places the can in Han-bi’s hand and she drinks deeply before continuing. She’s glad the woman is happy but now wonders why she’d run away back then. Eyes watering, Han-bi says she should’ve clung to what was precious to her as Woo-young and Se-ra wrap her in a hug.
Se-ra tosses and turns violently, unable to sleep. Han-bi’s words echo in her head and she rushes out of the house to call Gong-myung. She tells him there’s a lot of things they haven’t done and wants to know how he’s lived in their time apart. She grumbles sleep has run away from her – just like him – as we see Gong-myung searching the neighborhood. He asks where she is and Se-ra bitterly wonders if he plans to send a cab, vowing not to say.
He falls quiet and she turns to see him standing a few feet away, the tension falling from his shoulders as she winces in embarrassment. They walk together and Gong-myung observes Se-ra is still eating and drinking well. She stops in front of him and pouts, asking if she doesn’t look haggard. Finally breaking into a smile, Gong-myung agrees. He pulls her into a hug and apologizes.
Se-ra smiles and he leans in for a kiss. After some giggly smooching, Se-ra pulls back and suggests they go. Gong-myung blinks back at her earnest gaze, asking now? Se-ra maintains eye-contact and he nods eagerly they should go now… only to find himself back at the office, watching Se-ra flip through files. Heh.
He questions why they’re doing this now and no sooner does Se-ra say they need to be cautious of Yong-kyu than they hear footsteps. She shoves Gong-myung under the desk just as Yong-kyu pokes his head in. When he leaves, Gong-myung asks when he can return as her secretary. Se-ra points out making up and returning to work are separate issues since Yong-kyu is involved.
Deflated, Gong-myung worries she’ll be uncomfortable and Se-ra admits she knows he’s working with Yong-kyu. Gong-myung is shocked but Se-ra says Yong-kyu’s been sounding like some jerk she used to know and Gong-myung smiles he hasn’t heard that nickname since the service center.
Struck with an idea, Se-ra excitedly suggests they file a complaint with Seoul City Hall. Gong-myung agrees they’ll have to reply and Se-ra squeals she can’t do anything without him, planting a kiss on his lips. She pulls back and admits she has butterflies… only to dash Gong-myung’s excitement by adding she’s never filed a complaint with City Hall. Ha!
Chief Won is furious to discover Se-ra’s complaint and orders Assemblyman Heo arrange a meeting with the district reps while she sends her secretary to research neighborhoods similar to Sarang. While Se-ra waits to hear from Seoul City Hall, she demands they figure out a solution. Local news reports on the developments and says Seoul City Hall instructed Mawon district assembly to vote again on the controversial ordinance.
Gong-myung asks Yong-kyu who Se-ra is and Yong-kyu assumes he wants his job back. Before he can argue, Se-ra exits her office with Assemblyman Bong, who confesses Hee-soo is unlikely to budge. Se-ra bids him goodbye and then exchanges covert winks with Gong-myung before disappearing back into her office. Yong-kyu muses she even works out on weekends and then runs out of the office to answer a call from his “girlfriend.”
Cut to Se-ra and Gong-myung pretending not to know each other as they exercise in the park. He slips her info on who to approach for votes next and they blow each other kisses. Se-ra runs off to join some ahjumma hikers while Gong-myung continues working out. The next day, Gong-myung is washing dishes at work and smiles at Se-ra as she passes. She stops to greet Chairman Jo and he comments her weekend exercises are showing, reminding her to come to him if she needs help.
That evening, Se-ra and Gong-myung tally up the votes and Se-ra says she need to win over one more person. Hee-soo and Dong-chan represent Sarang, so they’re out. The Idiot Trio are more votes than she needs, and she can’t stand Assemblyman Heo… which only leaves Chairman Jo. Gong-myung grabs her hand and shakes his head and Se-ra sighs.
Chief Won triumphantly hosts a dinner with her supporters, scoffing at Se-ra’s six votes when she has seven. Hee-soo admits she’s jealous for having to work so hard to persuade her colleagues on her bills. Chief Won grandiosely thanks everyone for supporting her and Dong-chan suggests a toast. Hee-soo conspicuously doesn’t join in and standing, says the results will come down to her vote. She leaves and Chief Won laughs humorlessly.
The next day, Yong-kyu reports Hee-soo’s revolt to Se-ra, adding she’s been receiving gifts since the morning. Hearing Dong-chan is in her office, Se-ra rushes over to try and eavesdrop through the wall… but it doesn’t work. Inside, Hee-soo rolls her eyes at the necklace Dong-chan offers and he guesses she’s just playing hard to get with Chief Won. Hee-soo quips if he wants her vote, he needs to show sincerity by either persuading, pleading, or bargaining.
Dong-chan argues they’re already benefiting from Smart One City and if Chief Won wins the general election they need only grab onto her lifeline. He jumps out of his skin when Se-ra appears behind him and she tuts lifelines only give you rope burn. Presenting Hee-soo with a plate of cherries (shaped in a heart with her name written in stems), Se-ra winks and breezes out of the office as Hee-soo shivers: “She’s not my type. We don’t get along.”
All the same, Hee-soo meets Se-ra for lunch. She angrily demands why Gong-myung is with Se-ra when he’s no longer her secretary and the pair explain he’s there to maintain the peace. Hee-soo asks for his favorite number and when Gong-myung replies “27,” she cheerfully orders numbers 2 through 7. Gong-myung removes Se-ra’s clawed hands from the table just as Hee-soo’s phone buzzes with a call from Chief Won.
Flustered, Se-ra immediately rejects the call and Hee-soo barks at her for being rude. Gong-myung steps in to say they’re here to ask Hee-soo to join them in saving Sarang neighborhood. Se-ra explains she’s chosen to bargain with Hee-soo and Gong-myung practically facepalms when she pulls out her wish coupons. Following Hee-soo’s advice to read meeting minutes before coming to her with questions, Se-ra had and found all the ordinances Hee-soo had worked on… and been rejected.
Se-ra explains the chairman is allowed to present 10 ordinances directly to the council per year and suggests she and Hee-soo work together on something important to her. Turning to Gong-myung, Hee-soo asks if he remembers her story about the man she respected saying politicians have two desires – to flaunt or to change things – and the winning desire dictates their path. Gong-myung nods and Hee-soo quips Se-ra has a stronger desire to change things.
Confused, Se-ra argues she doesn’t want to change, she wants to protect and save. Setting the coupon on the table, Hee-soo sashays out. Se-ra smacks Gong-myung and asks what they’d meant about desires. Taking her coupon, he tells her to wait and follows Hee-soo. She asks if he’s going to persuade her, but Gong-myung knows they lack the argument and instead choses to plead.
He says a friend he’d missed for a long time once asked if it would be faster to move the will of one authority figure, or 10,000 voters. He’s talking about Se-ra and when he’d answered the one, she’d slapped her campaign card in his hand and said voting has nothing to do with math – but the heart. Handing her Se-ra’s coupon, Gong-myung hopes to see the goodwill Hee-soo had shown the kids.
That night, Hee-soo looks around at all the flowers sent by the others trying to convince her to vote with Chief Won and then down at Assemblyman Bong’s cactus and Se-ra’s coupon. We see she’d asked Gong-myung why Se-ra was so insistent about Sarang and he’d replied it was because of the Sarang Resort fire on April 1st, 2002.
Epilogue April 1st, 2002. A radio reports a fire at Sarang Resort where Minju Elementary students and teachers were on a retreat. 49 died and 58 were injured. The cause was unknown.
I fall more in love with this drama (and our OTP) each week. continues to present realistic and endearing characters with genuine problems and balances all of them so wonderfully, splicing Woo-young and Han-bi’s struggles in with Se-ra and Gong-myung’s. The couple was so happy last week, there was a risk of dangerous waters ahead, but I’m thrilled by the way this show continues to portray their relationship. Their fight was silly, but it was rooted in Se-ra’s genuine concern over Gong-myung’s standoffishness. She wants to know more about him and his life in the time they were separated. While Gong-myung has come a long way in allowing himself to feel things and let Se-ra in, she can sense he’s still holding something back. His inability to express himself and reluctance towards vulnerability exacerbated the argument because while Se-ra was ready to make up earlier, Gong-myung’s reactions kept fueling it.
I was facepalming hard when he said he was only helping for Yong-kyu. He may not have done it to be petty – rather he was embarrassed and unused to admitting his feelings – but Se-ra has natural insecurities in their relationship because Gong-myung is less forthcoming than she is. Despite the childish nature of the fight, they both exhibited maturity in the resolution with Se-ra taking Han-bi’s words to hold on to what’s precious to heart and honestly explaining that she wants Gong-myung to share things with her and Gong-myung realizing he had inadvertently been in the wrong and apologizing. They’re growing as individuals and as a couple and it’s absolutely lovely. Not to mention all the smooching is adorable and forever welcome.
Meanwhile, the juxtaposition between Gong-myung and Min-jae has never been so stark as in this episode. Where Min-jae would wave off Se-ra’s feelings and call a cab, Gong-myung was out looking for her and the relief upon finding her was palpable. And we see contrast again when both men visited the Sarang neighborhood rep with one man asking him to tell the truth and the other pressuring him to lie. Min-jae’s feelings towards Se-ra continue to be murky and it’s possible they appear that way because he’s also conflicted. He reacted when Woo-young mentioned Se-ra and Gong-myung were dating (despite me shouting at my screen not to) and seemed… uncomfortable?… when Chairman Jo admitted to throwing Se-ra at Chief Won to act as a shield. His expressions are so hard to read and I’m unsure whether he was asking about Se-ra because he misses her or if he’s spying for Chairman Jo… possibly both.
On the other hand, Hee-soo gets better and better. Intentional or not, it was delightful seeing her take a page from Se-ra’s book and enjoy the perks of being a swing vote (and stick it to Chief Won in the process). I love the callback to Assemblyman Bong’s theory that there are two desires in politicians and while Hee-soo possesses both… Se-ra possesses neither. As Se-ra so bluntly corrected, she wants to protect and save. Despite her declaration she can’t get along with Se-ra, I think Hee-soo feels uncomfortable because Se-ra tweaks at her conscience. Hee-soo aims to be calculative, but she does have a heart and that’s what Se-ra appeals to best. Gong-myung said as much when he spoke to Hee-soo separately and I about cried when he referred to Se-ra as a friend he’d missed. Se-ra has openly expressed how much she missed him, but Gong-myung has always deflected. I can’t wait for him to tell Se-ra he’d missed her just as much… but I think there’s a lot of heartache in the story of what happened when he left.