Memorials: Episode 9
We’ve reached the halfway point and our heroine has come a long way from where she started in terms of position. Now, she needs to catch up in personal growth and politics because getting the title is (literally) only half the battle. On the flipside, our heroine continues to struggle with her feelings for a bumbling hero, who may not be as indifferent as he tries to appear.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Awestruck by Gong-myung’s declaration to be her secretary, Se-ra regains composure and asks if he’s lost his mind. Confirming he’s aware of Chairman Jo orchestrating Se-ra’s appointment, Gong-myung thinks together, he and Se-ra can pull it off. Shaking off her uncertainty, Se-ra agrees they can do it and holds out her hand. Gong-myung takes it and shakes as the pair smile. Their expressions shift to determination as their hands remain clasped.
Se-ra leads the way down the hall with an exaggerated swagger, only to stop and grasp Gong-myung’s arm, reminding him he volunteered and no taksies-backsies. Gong-myung patiently reiterates that he recommended himself and there was no ulterior motive from a personal connection. Slightly put out by the last part, Se-ra drops his arm and continues to march towards Chief Won’s office.
Inside, Chief Won is stunned by the turn of events, but Se-ra follows Gong-myung’s coaching and says in light of budget cuts, she felt it was more practical to choose someone from the secretariat staff. She’s taken aback when Chief Won explains Chairman Jo had recommended Min-jae… but shakes it off and recites the bylaw stating the secretary will be recommended by the chairman and appointed by the chief, insisting her recommendation is Gong-myung.
Chief Won finally agrees but adds that as they are experiencing budget restrictions, Se-ra will not be receiving a driver or assistant… only a secretary. Se-ra gleefully accepts and Chief Won congratulates her on becoming chairman. Se-ra leaves and Chief Won smirks after her.
Upon hearing the news, Chairman Jo is furious. He asks Chief Won to postpone the secretary appointment, but she says Se-ra brought up the law, so her hands were tied. He rounds on Min-jae, demanding to know what he’ll do now. Min-jae is unable to answer and looks distressed as Chairman Jo stomps off.
Assemblyman Heo is surprised Chief Won sided with Se-ra, but Chief Won breezily answers she’d been planning to cut ties with Chairman Jo before the general election, anyway. She tuts electing Se-ra was a definite error on Chairman Jo’s part. She tells Assemblyman Heo to continue making nice, however.
On the roof, Min-jae confronts Se-ra about the secretary debacle, insisting he had a plan. Se-ra blinks back that she wasn’t privy to his plan. She sneers he must’ve expected her to be thankful and follow along blindly after they elected her. Min-jae insists she needs a party and while he couldn’t support her participation in the district rep election, he truly wishes she’ll finish her term without incident.
“You know me,” Min-jae says, placing a hand on Se-ra’s arm, “I can help you by your side.” Slapping his hand away, Se-ra scoffs, “Help me? Now?” She says neither he, nor Chairman Jo, are in her plans and Min-jae demands who is. “I am,” Se-ra answers, vowing to do things her way since she got elected. With a final grimace, she stalks off, leaving Min-jae to release an agitated breath.
Dae-cheol and Yong-kyu try to reason Gogn-myung’s career choices and Gong-myung assures them he still plans to return to Planning and Budgeting. Dae-cheol argues he likes getting off on time, but secretaries are on call 24/7. Gong-myung agrees and smiles, “I will continue… to like what I like.” His answers don’t provide any clarity and Dae-cheol groans Gong-myung’s parents must be extremely frustrated just as Gong-myung’s phone lights up with Chairman Jo’s number.
No sooner does he walk in than Chairman Jo rounds on Gong-myung: “You wanted to be a mere secretary?” Gong-myung scoffs, pointing out Chairman Jo had planned on recommending Min-jae, whom he claims to consider his son. Chairman Jo spits he and Min-jae had a plan and Gong-myung shouldn’t have gotten involved to rebel.
Gong-myung argues they should’ve considered all the variables – that Gong-myung might get involved, or that Se-ra could turn down the offer. Chairman Jo swears they’ll regret their decisions, pointing out Se-ra can’t do anything by herself in the District Assembly. Gong-myung is equally sure Se-ra has the potential and qualifications to be a great chairman, vowing to make sure of it.
The next morning, Gong-myung watches with amusement as Mom squeals over Se-ra’s new car. She’s also thrilled Gong-myung will be working with Se-ra and asks him to take a picture of the family in front of the car. After a series of ridiculous poses, Mom insists on a picture of Se-ra and Gong-myung together. He agrees in order to avoid Mom and Dad bickering and Se-ra looks up at Gong-myung right as the shutter clicks. Dad immediately confiscates the phone and then grabs Gong-myung to growl in his ear, “Take care of my Se-ra.”
Driving to work, Se-ra fidgets excitedly in the passenger seat and asks what Dad had whispered. Gong-myung asks her to sit in the back since people are watching, but Se-ra tuts, “Let’s sit side by side, not diagonally. We’re acting like strangers, but we are one.” Sighing, he reminds Se-ra she has a 24/7 position to uphold and she has enemies waiting for her downfall. Se-ra quips his nagging will crush her to death first.
Gong-myung adds that if she’s ever unsure of what expression to make, she should smile. Se-ra scoffs… but as she’s officially sworn in, she thinks of Gong-myung’s words and beams brightly. In the back, he groans that’s not what he meant. Se-ra scurries to her seat as they move to announce the vice chairman and we flashback to see Hee-soo immediately went to Dong-chan after Se-ra’s election. She announced she wanted his position and her threat over his bribery was still valid.
Presently, Se-ra makes her speech, telling everyone to understand or misunderstand as they please and vowing to do what she must do, what only she can do. Hee-soo takes the stand next, her speech dripping with venom directed at Se-ra as she preaches about trust.
Min-jae hands things over to Gong-myung, adding he shouldn’t have gotten involved: “I had a plan for Se-ra.” Gong-myung snorts it’s a plan he and Chairman Jo concocted but Min-jae says it was in Se-ra’s best interest. Gong-myung recounts how he’d accused Se-ra of running for district rep under Min-jae’s direction to rig the election and she’d angrily argued Min-jae wasn’t the kind of scumbag to use his girlfriend politically: “That’s what it means to have someone’s best interests.” He adds Min-jae should address Se-ra properly now.
Slumping into her office chair, Se-ra wonders where Gong-myung is. She starts flipping through her journal but when the door opens, she drops onto the desk, feigning sleep. Smirking, Gong-myung reaches to wake her but hesitates… and Se-ra pops up. He awkwardly chides her for napping but Se-ra simply asks where he was.
Gong-myung explains he was fetching her tasks and presents a draft of office regulations. First, there’s no hierarchy between them, they trust and respect each other. Second, Se-ra is to observe Gong-myung’s work hours, 8 am to 10 pm on weekdays. And lastly, Gong-myung will tutor Se-ra one-on-won, “hardcore Sparta style.” Easily agreeing to the first two, Se-ra balks at the third. Hee.
Later, Se-ra’s friends wonder if she has a thing for secretaries. Han-bi is pulling for Gong-myung, while Woo-young firmly supports Min-jae. Ja-ryong pipes up to ask why Se-ra was looking at Gong-myung in their photo and Han-bi explains she’d snuck a look because she likes him. They wonder if Se-ra plotted the secretary position and tutoring in order to spend time with Gong-myung.
Correcting those were Gong-myung’s ideas, Se-ra excitedly wonders if he likes her… only for Ja-ryong to remind her he saw Gong-myung reject her at the apartments. Se-ra admits she was rejected twice, and Woo-young tuts she’s should give up and go back to Min-jae. Se-ra declares they’re both out and she’ll take a break from dating and focus on work.
The next day, however, she snickers to herself she should always try three times. Her enthusiasm falters when she sees the syllabus Gong-myung has compiled for her tutoring, but she slyly orders him to answer her questions, even outside of his designated work hours. “Of course,” Gong-myung agrees, “Here, wherever, always.” Se-ra is too melty to respond with more than a nod and he promises to make her a decent chairman.
As his first secretarial duty, Gong-myung writes a press release for Se-ra’s appointment and the inflammatory headline declaring Se-ra the Conservatives’ choice, ruffles feathers. Chairman Jo assures the Conservatives (and himself) the press release will be pushed aside by the chief’s article and Se-ra can’t do anything on her own… Meanwhile, Progressive member Chief Won meets with Assemblyman Bong and Hee-soo to re-forge her party alliance.
Leaving her office, Hee-soo thinks Chief Won’s proposition to align together isn’t bad, but Assemblyman Bong thinks she should consider whether it’s good. He reminds her their job of the District Assembly is to keep administration in check. Bong adds he sent a gift to her office, and Hee-soo unhappily guesses he sent one to Se-ra as well. “Together, but also separately,” Assemblyman Bong says, “Raise it well.”
Fuming over the article, Se-ra pounces on Gong-myung as soon as he enters her office. He defends it’s better to be upfront about the Conservatives involvement and reminds her of their first office regulation. Cursing the regulations, Se-ra grabs a towel, pausing only for a delivery to arrive… and then attacking. The delivery is the gift from Assemblyman Bong and Se-ra smiles at the cactus accompanying a note: “A cactus withstands a desert’s hot days… as well as its cold nights.” It instructs her to water once a month and congratulates her becoming chairman.
At the shop, Han-bi and Woo-young unbox Chairman Gu Se-ra towels and Han-bi announces Ja-ryong won his class president election. Ja-ryong explains he’d told the teacher about the burger kid and simply asked his classmates to vote for him. He proudly displays an “everything comes true talisman” but declares it not for sale. Woo-young asks if being class president is different and Ja-ryong slams down his book.
We see Se-ra stand and attempt to open the meeting, only to be ignored, as Ja-ryong narrates the kids get noisier whenever he makes an announcement. Se-ra bellows the meeting has begun and people finally sit. Next, she sits in another meeting, and nervously agrees when asked a question she clearly didn’t understand as Ja-ryong continues even if he doesn’t know something, he has to pretend he does.
Finally, Se-ra greets members of the Women’s Association and when offered a drink, Gong-myung refuses it (because she’s on the clock) as Ja-ryong sighs he can’t even do things he likes. Afterwards, Gong-myung drops Se-ra at the shop and reminds her she’s not allowed to drink at work. Se-ra pouts an elder had offered it and then accuses Gong-myung of cursing at her with his eyes. Stifling a smile, Gong-myung says she was mistaken.
Se-ra insists he was and Gong-myung chuckles, then leans in close. Se-ra questions what he’s doing and he asks if she heard what he’d said. Se-ra guesses “good work today” and “let’s do well tomorrow” but both are shot down. When she tries, “thank you for being with me every day,” Gong-myung is taken aback… but still says she’s wrong. She curses and he says it was “don’t be late tomorrow.” Grumbling, Se-ra tries to invite him in for tea, but Gong-myung reminds her of office regulation 2 – he’s off at 10 pm – and walks away.
At home, however, he thinks of Se-ra’s final guess and kicks himself for only replying “wrong.” Meanwhile, Se-ra is also grumbling over his answer while nearby, Woo-young practices interview questions. Han-bi asks Ja-ryong if he’s chosen who to give his talisman to, and he nods. The next day, Woo-young nervously waits for her interview, the talisman pocking out of her bag. Aww.
It’s quiz day for Se-ra’s and she stares despondently at the question sheet before declaring the questions too complicated. Gong-myung says he made them multiple choice just for her, and Se-ra argues he should teach her tips she’ll actually use. Gong-myung says it’s up to her and Se-ra breaks into a Cheshire grin, fanning out a stack of “You can do it” wish coupons. She says she should be rewarded to increase efficiency: 1 coupon for scoring over 80, 2 over 90, and if she aces it, she’ll get all 10.
Trying to hide his amusement, Gong-myung asks what she’ll wish for and Se-ra quips he can look forward to it. Unfortunately, Se-ra scores a 72. Gong-myung’s 10pm alarm goes off and Se-ra frantically asks for an extra lesson. Gong-myung tells to wait and Se-ra grins it’s all going to plan… until he returns with a stack of books.
At lunch the following day, Se-ra gets a notification for the business operation funds (3,300 dollars). She excitedly declares that more than a full stomach, modern people need fat bank accounts. She asks Gong-myung if there’s anything special he wants to eat, and he tells her to get a grip – the money is for business. Se-ra pouts it doesn’t cost money to imagine. Instead, she opens her mouth for Gong-myung to feed her… but he just places it on her plate. Heh.
They help make kimchi deliveries with a group that aids senior citizens living alone and Se-ra’s heart goes out to the coordinator who says they’ve been struggling since the budget cut. Hearing making kimchi will cost 1,000 dollars, Se-ra cuts them a check from her budget. Gong-myung looks a little exasperated, and it only worsens when they join a nonprofit volunteer organization on a nightly patrol who’ve also lost funding with the budget cuts… so Se-ra issues another 1,000 dollar check.
The next day, Gong-myung chides Se-ra for already spending nearly 2/3 of the budget the day she got it. He points out they don’t run a charity and if she helps everyone, she’ll be in the red. Se-ra says she still has 1,300 dollars left, and again wonders where all Mawon Office’s money has gone. Gong-myung visits with Dae-cheol and Yong-kyu (soaking up some petty satisfaction at watching Yong-kyu on dish duty now, hee). They tell him he’s at the center of the rumor mill, as everyone is speculating he’d offered to be Se-ra’s secretary to mess with Chief Won.
Dae-cheol starts to warn him Chief Won is scary, but clams up when Dong-chan walks in. Dong-chan barks he’s not so free to eavesdrop since he’s taking Hee-soo to a groundbreaking ceremony for the Smart One City. This is news to Gong-myung and he immediately calls to demand why Chief Won, Vice Chairman, Hee-soo, and even former Chairman Jo are invited… but not the current chairman. He has them add a chair and when Se-ra is confused by the addition to the schedule, Gong-myung explains she’d wanted to know where the money went.
Se-ra notes the protestors on her way inside and when Chief Won announces the 1.6 billion dollar bill, Se-ra’s jaw drops. Chairman Jo asks who Se-ra is holding up, reiterating his offer is still valid. Chief Won introduces the people onstage, but when it’s Se-ra’s turn… she continues her speech. On the sidelines, Gong-myung tsks at how childish it is and Min-jae says he’s not a very good secretary.
Gong-myung tells him to mind his own business. Min-jae tsks he knows so little about his father and Gong-myung retorts Min-jae knows very little about Se-ra. Unfazed, Min-jae say she does know a secretary that focuses on attending events and press releases won’t accomplish much.
Across town, Woo-young gets news of passing her interview and Han-bi muses the talisman worked. She wonders what’s taking him and heads inside the dojo to check. Smiling when she spots Ja-ryong, her face falls when she sees his instructor and Han-bi quickly ducks out before the other woman sees her.
Se-ra wonders at Gong-myung’s sour mood but he waves it off as they head to the next schedule and Se-ra assures him she’s good with kids. Dad stops them to sign in and his shock at Se-ra as an honorary teacher makes Gong-myung laugh. Inside, Se-ra greets the students brightly, but they only stare blankly. She demonstrates pH strips for the students but when they ask how it works, Se-ra instead presents the color change as a metaphor for love… only for the students to point to the board and say it’s a chemical reaction. Hee.
As they’re leaving, Se-ra reminisces about the long distance from the gate to the classroom. Gong-myung laughs that’s why they’d run across the playground but Se-ra admits after he moved, she’d stopped: “Even that run was far without you.” Flashing back to Summer 2002, Se-ra looked sadly at Gong-myung’s empty desk and another student announced Gong-myung was moving. Se-ra had run outside to see the car pulling away and ran after it, yelling for Gong-myung as he sat sadly in the backseat.
In the present, Gong-myung stares at Se-ra until she asks if he’d heard her. He claims not to remember and walks away. Se-ra bounds after him and links arms, but Gong-myung pulls away. She instead hugs him from behind, leaping away when he feigns seeing Dad… and then grabbing him again. Hee.
Gong-myung leads Se-ra to their next stop, explaining he’s been once before. Se-ra starts to ask with who until she remembers he’d been with Hee-soo. Her smile morphs into a scowl as she recalls Hee-soo stamping Gong-myung’s hand and groans. He takes her bag and reminds her since they bought gifts, she shouldn’t spend money. Se-ra agrees twice was enough and storms ahead. Unfortunately, the instructor informs them with no funding, they can only open on weekends.
Se-ra cuts off Gong-myung’s protest with a karate chop and writes another 1,000 dollar check. He grumbles he didn’t bring her to donate and they’re down to 300 dollars. Se-ra quips she left enough for food and turns to look at photos on the wall. She zooms in on one with Gong-myung and Hee-soo and as she stares at his face turned towards Hee-soo, she thinks of Han-bi’s saying Se-ra looked at Gong-myung in their photo because she likes him.
Realizing what she’s looking at, Gong-myung coughs awkwardly and back at the office, he sits uncomfortably as Se-ra silently fumes. A flashback reveals right before the photo was snapped, Hee-soo had linked arms and Gong-myung turned in surprise right as the shutter clicked. Presently, he tries to explain Hee-soo had grabbed him but as Se-ra hadn’t even noticed that, it only makes it worse.
Exhaling, she announces she always tries three times, so she’ll ask once more. Before she can say anything, a phone goes off and she shouts she hates his 10pm alarm the most… but it’s her phone. Gong-myung grimaces at Min-jae’s caller ID and Se-ra asks him to wait while she takes it, but Gong-myung tells her not to and rejects the call. He tells her not to ask, either: “My answer has been the same since the very beginning.”
Se-ra snaps if he’s rejecting her again, it shouldn’t matter if she answers but Gong-myung says he never rejected her – he was unsure of himself. Looking for her for hours with just a photo is crazy, he doesn’t understand people who wait 30 minutes for dumplings and thinks trying to win the sports festival and running in the heat is pathetic… but he did it for her. The reason he ran to volunteer as her secretary was all for her: “It was you from the start.” When she recovers from melting, Se-ra walks over and kisses him. She pulls back briefly, and then they kiss again.
Epilogue While the students were unimpressed by Se-ra’s love analogy, Gong-myung had raised his camera to take a picture, but Se-ra’s joyful laugh finally clicked for Gong-myung and he blushed.
The last 10 minutes of this episode instantly became my favorite of this entire show thus far. Gong-myung’s confession accomplished everything I wanted and more. Se-ra’s first confession could easily be written off as drunken silliness, but her second was so heartfelt and sincere that it was jarring when Gong-myung turned her down. His smile was absolutely baffling because it, like everything else he does, screamed “puppy in love.” Se-ra was understandably confused and hurt, left having to reason she’d somehow misinterpreted his actions, but I love that she was willing to try one more time… and I love that Gong-myung didn’t let her because he knew it was his turn. I’m not sure how they’ll manage to keep this a secret when I swear anyone could tell they were smitten before but I’m excited to watch them try.
Min-jae continues to be weird and I wish we’d get into his head a little. He’s repeatedly disrespected Se-ra’s personality and autonomy and I did love both Se-ra and Gong-myung calling him out on it. This plan he’s crafted with Chairman Jo was first and foremost for Chairman Jo, not Se-ra. So even if Min-jae truly believed it would benefit her, that alone negates his ability to say he acted with her best interests at heart. It’s possible Min-jae has a long con separate of Chairman, but that still wouldn’t excuse him in my book. He’s failed to communicate with Se-ra let alone support her and those are such basic forms of respect. One thing I do like is that Min-jae isn’t evil – he’s just kind of a jerk – and that makes for such a realistic, human character. I’m still curious to see his backstory and how Chairman Jo got his claws in him. I’m unsure whether it’ll endear Min-jae towards me, but I’d like to know why he chose to give up so much to support this man who hasn’t given anything back.
There’s still a lot of fog around Chairman Jo – and I’m not complaining because it’s nice not to spend half an episode on scheming bad guys – but there’s a lot still to unpack with the relationships he’s forged… and destroyed. Min-jae and Gong-myung are the obvious, but I assume we’ll also revisit what happened between him and Dad, and how Gong-myung’s little brother died. Not to mention, whatever happened with Assemblyman Yang. With all the fluffy cuteness, I’d forgotten we still had some darker plot points to explore. I hope the show remains chiefly adorable antics (and smooches) between our leads, and Se-ra coming into her own as a badass politician, but I’m still curious about the other threads… But mostly the smooches.