Run On: Episode 4
To run or not to run? Our national track runner puts his career on the line as he answers this question, and though the repercussions may be harsh, he’s more than ready to face the aftermath. Meanwhile, our heroine works hard not only to ensure his bold words won’t get lost in translation, but that his unrelenting ethics won’t harm him in the process.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
The starting pistol fires, and the racers on the field sprint off — but the camera focuses instead on Sun-kyum’s lone figure, still at the starting position. The confused spectators (including Sun-kyum’s infuriated father and Mi-joo) and racers look back at Sun-kyum, who rises to approach the press.
Sun-kyum is calm, yet bold, as he stands in front of the press pit and answers their questions as to why he chose not to run: he couldn’t, because he assaulted his teammates.
Bewilderment ripples through the press, sponsors, and team alike, but Sun-kyum is strangely steady, and looks up at Mi-joo in the stands. After a pause, he asks her if she’s going to translate what he said. Despite being taken aback, Mi-joo rushes down and translates every word into English for the astonished crowd.
Sun-kyum walks off from the scene across the field, with Mi-joo trailing after him. She asks him if he’s afraid of what he’s just done, but without hesitation Sun-kyum says he’s made his move and now he just has to wait and see how things play out.
Sun-kyum’s father is still in the stands with Dan-ah’s family and the sponsors, and is clearly furious, but hiding it well. So is Dan-ah, but she seems equal parts upset by his behavior and impressed by his boldness. Then she jokes to Mr. Jung to pour water on all the recording devices so the press have no proof of the event.
The reporters notice Woo-shik, limping around trying to get out of view, and they all but lunge at him, asking if he’s the victim of Sun-kyum’s alleged assault. He denies it, but before he can clarify, the coach has Gyu-duk and Ki-bum whisk him away.
Back in the training center, Mi-joo seems worried about what will happen next and wisecracks to Sun-kyum that at least she won’t be lonely on the road to hell. Seconds later, Sun-kyum’s father storms in shouting. His ire is first focused on Mi-joo, for the crime of actually interpreting Sun-kyum’s words. Mi-joo stands up for herself, but Sun-kyum soon steps in and then it’s his turn for his father’s wrath.
It’s clear that Assemblyman Ki’s biggest worry is how this “scandal” will reflect on his political campaign, and Sun-kyum calls his father out for using him solely for the benefit of his political career. Because of his father, his life isn’t his own.
Sun-kyum is calm but quite harsh. He confronts his father about his scheming response to his broken shoulder in the past, which ruined his javelin throwing career, and then asks, since he can’t run any more, if his father will just marry him off for political gain. That earns him a slap in the face, and his father yells, “Don’t you know how much I love you?” Sun-kyum replies with no emotion in his voice, “Unwanted love is the same as violence.” His father screams at Sun-kyum to leave, so he does, with Mi-joo trailing after him again.
They run into Dan-ah, who’s in full CEO-mode. She’s ready with a reprimand — and a promise to find a solution. (I doubt her not!) She tells him to lay low while she does damage control, and in the meantime, the all-important photoshoot is still on. Sun-kyum turns to leave, taking Mi-joo by the wrist along with him, but Dan-ah grabs Mi-joo’s other wrist, saying that she never told him to take his interpreter. Just then, Assemblyman Ki arrives on the scene, and Dan-ah turns around for another battle, while Sun-kyum and Mi-joo make their escape.
Sun-kyum has picked up on the fact that it was his father, not Dan-ah, that hired Mi-joo originally, and assumes that’s why there’s such dislike between them. Mi-joo hesitates, but tells him it’s not what he thinks, and that she and Dan-ah just don’t click.
Dan-ah and Assemblyman Ki have their face-off, and it’s mostly about Mi-joo. Dan-ah asks if he’s going to take out his anger on the interpreter, and Assemblyman Ki says he has every right to be mad since he hired and paid her to “do right” by his son. He gets back at Dan-ah’s jabs by saying he’s the one that allowed her to “seduce” his children for her pet project (the fashion line).
Assemblyman Ki isn’t done with his rampage yet, and his last stop is the locker room, where he berates the head coach and team. Young-il remarks how different Sun-kyum is from his father.
An English-speaking reporter approaches little Woo-shik, who seems beyond bewildered, but luckily Mr. Jung steps in, and this becomes the start of her PR-spin agenda. Before Dan-ah’s master plan gets set in motion though, she’s sequestered in her room to receive a mysterious medical treatment. She jokes to Mr. Jung that her illness won’t kill her, but it’s enough to be troubling.
Afterwards, refreshed and in a new outfit, she hosts an international crew of English-speaking journalists for an exclusive wine and dine interview with Woo-shik, introducing him as the “real victim of this incident.” I smell truth in the air!
Back in Seoul, Dan-ah’s younger half-brother Tae-woong is bumming around her office again, unable to get her to pick up the phone. He notices Young-hwa lingering outside in front of the building, and goes outside to pick a fight with him.
Young-hwa found his way there via the business card Dan-ah gave the art cafe owner. Dan-ah requested it be passed on to the artist, with word that she would give him feedback on the painting if he came to find her. He’s obviously trying to do just that, but after the weird/aggressive treatment from Tae-woong, Young-hwa get agitated and bikes off. After he’s gone, Tae-woong finds Young-hwa’s wallet on the ground and moans that his sister is already too preoccupied with Sun-kyum.
Sun-kyum and Mi-joo enjoy the Jeju shore for a bit, and it’s blustery and gorgeous. Mi-joo makes sure he just intends to clear his head, and not jump in, and then bemoans how much she’s acted out today. Sun-kyum apologizes for making her do so, but Mi-joo cuts their moment short when she says she’s hungry.
Over lunch, Mi-joo asks if Sun-kyum is afraid of the impending unknowns — namely, the possibility of never being able to run as an athlete again. He shrugs it off, but regrets that he won’t be able to keep his past promise to be a coach for a children’s school track and field team (what a sweetie). Mi-joo’s still impressed with him though, and says that the fact that he risked his entire career just to help out a hoobae makes her curious what he’d be like if he fell in love.
During the ride to the photo shoot location, Mi-joo clicks through the articles about the morning’s incident. She expresses frustration and anger over the comments condemning Sun-kyum, but Sun-kyum stays cool and understanding of the netizens’ ire. When Mi-joo asks him where his love for himself is, and whether or not he learned it in school, he quips that he skipped class because he was always busy training.
After arriving at the venue, Mi-joo can’t stop looking at the negative press Sun-kyum’s getting, and watches with concern as he gets ready for the shoot.
Assemblyman Ki’s chief of staff meets privately with Mi-joo, handing her a flight ticket back to Seoul and dismissing her. Instead of complying, Mi-joo rejects the return flight and dismissal, insisting she will complete her job in Jeju. She also returns the envelope of money she had previously accepted from Assemblyman Ki, saying she shouldn’t keep the bribe because she didn’t follow through with his request.
Sun-kyum catches Mi-joo on her way out, saying it’s going to be awhile. Dan-ah waltzes in commenting on his hotness, (and excellent hairdo, I might add) but she squabbles with Sun-kyum again before dropping the bomb: Woo-shik is about to meet with the international reporters for a formal interview. We see a brief conversation between Woo-shik and Dan-ah where it’s clear that more than his career, Woo-shik cares about clearing Sun-kyum’s name.
Sun-kyum takes Mi-joo aside for a personal request: if Woo-shik reveals Sun-kyum’s actions were to help him, Mi-joo should leave that out of the interview. He admits he knows it’s an abuse of his authority, but requests it because he’s concerned about her. Sun-kyum continues that he only got slapped because he’s family–his father can do way worse to a stranger like her. Mi-joo marvels again over how much Sun-kyum cares about others, but not himself. She tells him that he’s too used to being hurt. Frustrated, she adds that she’ll translate what’s necessary, and then walks away.
During Woo-shik’s interview, Mi-joo defies Sun-kyum’s request and translates the true story as told by Woo-shik. Sun-kyum watches the whole interview from a distance. When it’s over, Mi-joo walks off promptly, giving Sun-kyum the cold shoulder and declining his offer to drive her to the airport.
But Sun-kyum follows her outside, and Mi-joo tries to explain why she wanted to defend him in the interview. Sun-kyum listens to her, and then, when she turns to leave (again), grabs her and says he has a question. “Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m asking because I don’t know,” he says. “Do you like me?”
Mi-joo says it’s weird of him to ask like that, but then replies in a calm (and boss) voice, “I like you” — but then adds that that is how you confess, and asks if she gave him the wrong impression somehow. Sun-kyum says he’s sorry if the question was offensive, and Mi-joo points out that even in this situation, he’s put her comfort over his own. Then, with more warmth, she confirms that there may have been a few words that hinted at her feelings, but that not all of them were veiled confessions.
Sun-kyum is understandably distracted at the photo shoot, and his sister notices. They chat about her love life problems, and it ends with her encouraging him. I love this siblinghood! Back at home, Mi-joo is equally distracted and fretful over Sun-kyum, and makes a beeline for the soju.
Back in Seoul, Young-hwa is found by Mr. Jung and led to her posh office/pool area. He wanders around and stares hard at an object at the bottom of the pool that catches his eye. When he suddenly hears a woman’s voice ask him what he’s looking at, he’s startled enough to fall right into the pool. Dan-ah is at the edge watching him, but before he climbs out, he dives to get the object — a gold bracelet she had lost. She reaches out to get her bracelet, but Young-hwa grabs her hand, assuming she was helping him out of the pool.
They exchange introductions and he’s surprised to learn she’s the CEO he has been trying to meet. He expected someone older to be in her position. Dan-ah struggles to fix the bracelet’s latch, when Young-hwa admits he accidentally stepped on it. Young-hwa says he’ll compensate her, but she ignores him. He mentions he came by once to meet her but came across a guy who picked a fight. Dan-ah catches on that it must have been Tae-woong and tells Young-hwa to ignore him. Even though Dan-ah is her usual, unusual and rude self, Young-hwa’s unruffled by her behavior.
Dan-ah tells Young-hwa to compensate for the bracelet another way: with a painting. She gives him a run-down of her expectations and timeline, tosses him a robe to put on (since he’s still soaked at this point), and shoos him out. Young-hwa asks what would happen if he refuses her commission, and they have a fun banter-filled exchange that ends with Dan-ah telling him not to smile so much because, “You could grow on me.”
On his way out, Young-hwa runs into Tae-woong again, who’s immediately upset that he’s coming out of his sister’s office in a $2,000 robe. They quarrel again until Tae-woong gets pulled away by his manager.
While Assemblyman Ki holds a press conference and makes a public apology for his son’s actions, Sun-kyum packs his belonging and prepares to depart Annam Training Center. He reminisces about the first time he ran — he was fleeing from the hospital after his shoulder surgery. The way his heartbeat became the only thing he could hear when he stopped. The feeling of finally having a world of his own where his voice was heard. Running was the first decision he made on his own. Sun-kyum seems at peace, though the moment is bittersweet.
On her way to a meeting with Dan-ah, Mi-joo scrolls through the latest sports news, looking for Woo-shik’s interview but all she can find is news of track and field star Sun-kyum getting kicked out of the training center and his possible disqualification from the sport. She starts to text him to ask if he’s okay, but opts not to in the end.
At the cafe, Dan-ah starts to clap as soon as Mi-joo sits down. Dan-ah pokes at Mi-joo for begin a gofer, and even accepting bribes, before asking for Mi-joo’s banking info so she can send Mi-joo her wages. Mi-joo replies that Dan-ah shouldn’t bother compensating her fairly since all that money will go to her professor anyway. After a beat, Dan-ah asks why Mi-joo took the job. “I pitied Sun-kyum,” Mi-joo says. Dan-ah is tickled, but warns Mi-joo not to tell him about the bribe, because he would hate that. Mi-joo asks why she’s giving her this tip, and Dan-ah tells her it’s because it’s been a while since Sun-kyum’s liked someone. The last person he liked…was Dan-ah.
Mi-joo holds strong, pretending to brush it off. She says that she’s not interested in Sun-kyum’s love life, but Dan-ah grins and asks if she’s even heard from him since Jeju. Mi-joo’s eyes dart away, unable to reply. Dan-ah giggles and says she’s pitiful, and Mi-joo, looking for a quick exit, downs her huge coffee in one gulp and bolts to leave.
Dan-ah calls after her, asking Mi-joo how she feels after she’s been around Sun-kyum. Dan-ah says that he has a knack for making people, “feel like human garbage.” Mi-joo calmly agrees, but says that she realized this isn’t his fault. As Mi-joo storms off, Dan-ah smiles and mutters that she’s right.
Mi-joo, bothered that Dan-ah and Sun-kyum have an emotional connection, calls Sun-kyum as she leaves the cafe. She demands that he return her lighter gun immediately. Sun-kyum says he can’t because he would probably make a mistake if he sees her, but she demands that they meet anyway. He tells her he’s at a hotel, and she agrees to go meet him before her brain has even processed what he just said. When her brain catches up, Mi-joo is quite flustered by the conversation, and tells herself she has a dirty mind.
When Mi-joo arrives at Sun-kyum’s door she blabbers a bit to cover her tracks, but Sun-kyum clearly has something he wants to ask. The second she stops, he asks: “Did my father give you money?” Dun dun dun. Her head lowers for a moment, and Sun-kyum looks upset and tells her he warned her he would make a mistake. Mi-joo owns her actions, though. First, she says she misinterpreted his mention of a mistake. Then, she looks him in the eye and admits that she took money from his father. Mi-joo then tells him if he wants to be disappointed in her, he can.
For Sun-kyum, choosing not to run is the most radical protest he could offer. In the beginning of this drama, I assumed that running track would be a liberating experience for Sun-kyum. But the scene at Annam Training Center is one that provides insight into what running symbolizes to him. While admittedly a bit of an obvious parallel, we see how Sun-kyum has used running as a way to evade his overbearing father, to carve out something on his own. And this philosophy of escape seeps into his own life — even at his parents’ anniversary brunch, Sun-kyum is the first to leave after conflict.
But over time, even running has become co-opted by his father as a PR campaign; this renders even this form of escape, of protest, useless. Refusing to run signals a change, of facing things head on and reclaiming control over his own life even if that means giving up running.
Beyond my admiration of Sun-kyum’s bravery in standing up to his father this week, I was faced with somewhat mixed feelings about Dan-ah. There are so many things to like about her — she’s bold, unafraid to speak her mind, and she’s actively working in Sun-kyum’s interest. She’s also been more than fair in managing his career in the wake of this potentially fatal blow. But her interactions with Mi-joo feel condescending, almost catty at times. From her perspective, I can imagine that Mi-joo seems like someone who’s falling for Sun-kyum while also taking his father’s money, so I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt of looking out for Sun-kyum’s interest rather than cutting down a potential love rival.
Overall, I love that we see Sun-kyum and Mi-joo’s relationship bloom into something a little more than friends. Their curiosity and respect for each other have grown rapidly as they decide for themselves what is the right thing to do. I think this is why the ending makes the audience’s hearts fall so hard. Sun-kyum’s eyes are full of disappointment and betrayal. They were doing so good! We’ll have to wait to see if Sun-kyum lets himself be disappointed, as Mi-joo told him to. Or will he give her a second chance?
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