Run On: Episode 13
Our protagonists miss each other dearly, but the problems between them aren’t so easily solved, and life still makes demands when you’re nursing a bruised heart. Happily, our secondary couple is full of sunshine and laughter this week as they navigate their brand-new relationship.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Mi-joo tells Sun-kyum that her self-respect won’t allow her to be with him anymore. She’d hoped any problems they’d have would be between them, but his father’s behavior is something they can’t solve together. Mi-joo would just have to endure it, and she doesn’t want to. She tells him she has a pattern of running away from difficult relationships to protect herself from hurt. This mistake is why she didn’t want to see him tonight.
He asks if she’s breaking up with him, and she nods, apologizing for being a coward and making him say it first. He absorbs this, and then says making him say it was her real mistake.
“It didn’t have to be today,” he tells her in banmal. He asks her for the minimum courtesy of giving them some time. She agrees, and he leaves, both in tears. Ah, my heart!
Mi-joo contemplates the shoes Sun-kyum gave her, and we see more of her conversation with Eun-bi. Eun-bi told her that their father has done plenty of things to the man she loves behind her back. He runs away, and Eun-bi always tracks him down—she stopped counting after five times. Wow, that’s awful.
Eun-bi wondered what Sun-kyum would do if Mi-joo ran away—Sun-kyum never runs. Mi-joo asked if she was being greedy, wanting Sun-kyum—sometimes she feels like she’s not good enough for him, and he distracts her from her work. Losing her work would be like losing herself.
Eun-bi said she’d help the best she could; she felt that telling Mi-joo about Assemblyman Ki’s actions before Sun-kyum was right, but Mi-joo asked her not to tell him at all. She asked Eun-bi why she always chases Ryan. “I know he runs away because he loves me,” said Eun-bi.
The next morning, Mi-joo goes for a run. Sun-kyum skips his, remembering how she told him it was okay to rest on weekends. Aw.
Young-hwa loudly internet-stalks Dan-ah, but to his disappointment, Sun-kyum shows no response. He asks what’s wrong, and Sun-kyum wonders forlornly if Mi-joo’s really breaking up with him. Was dating him so rough that his dad was the final straw?
Mi-joo and Mae-yi engage in some culinary therapy with the japchae ingredients Mi-joo bought to practice for Sun-kyum. Mae-yi tells Mi-joo to bring Sun-kyum to the premiere of the movie she subtitled, but Mi-joo confesses that she ran away from him—after making him promise to stay forever. “I’m trash,” she says miserably.
Young-hwa takes Dan-ah to one of his favorite restaurants, baffling her with the lack of valet parking. He’s back to his smiley self and expecting a kiss at any moment, but she’s still miffed about him saying that she hurt him, and asks for details.
He pouts and says she didn’t tell him her birthday was coming up—does she have plans? She shuts him down.
He wants to celebrate her birthday with her, and she asks what he’ll actually gain from it. Feelings might be invisible, he says, but that makes them more powerful, and they can strengthen with time. She tells him to just treat her birthday like any other day they spend together.
He insists that couples should spend birthdays together, but she denies they’re a couple, and now he’s really hurt. He asks what he is to her, and she replies, “A vending machine.” She tells him not to cry, or she’ll have to get him fixed.
Woo-shik worries that Young-il came second in his recent race because’s been helping Woo-shik train. Sun-kyum tells him not to worry, but he can’t help remembering Young-il saying that he’s all alone without Sun-kyum.
A subdued Young-il still shows up and runs with Woo-shik, and brings up the race himself. He claims he’s okay, but Woo-shik excuses himself to the friends can talk. Young-il says it’s good that the younger runners are outpacing them, but he’s clearly let down. Sun-kyum awkwardly comforts Young-il with a pat on the back.
Mi-joo barges into Dan-ah’s office to ask her about a “hypothetical” situation where a rich parent tries to break their son up from a “peasant,” but Dan-ah tells her Assemblyman Ki will soon be too busy with the presidential election to care.
Dan-ah arrives at the coffee shop, noticing Young-hwa leaving and Ye-joon looking after him mournfully. Ye-joon shows up drunk that night at Young-hwa’s, and now we see his conversation with Dan-ah: she asked Ye-joon if he liked Young-hwa, and Ye-joon asked her if she was having fun playing with Young-hwa’s feelings. Dan-ah wondered what she should do to get the advantage over Ye-joon, since Young-hwa would obviously choose his friend over her. Ye-joon: “Why would I ever do that to him?”
Now, he tells a worried Young-hwa that he’s just anxious they won’t get to go on the study abroad trip together.
Mae-yi tells Mi-joo about an opportunity to work on Sun-kyum’s mother’s movie, although she’s concerned it will get messy. Mi-joo says work is work, and blows up at Mae-yi, but apologizes immediately. Mae-yi says she should put as much work into her romantic relationships as her friendships.
Mi-joo says it’s because all her past boyfriends were the type to cut and run, so now she does it first to avoid getting dumped. “It’s as if I was born to be abandoned, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.” She doesn’t have any experience with taking a break. Mae-yi reminds her that Sun-kyum is different from her past boyfriends.
Mi-joo says it’s occurred to her that she doesn’t love him enough to truly suffer for his sake, but Mae-yi nips that foolishness in the bud—real love means protecting each other. Bless Mae-yi—every woman should have an unni like her.
Sun-kyum dresses up and makes the rounds to different teams on behalf of Woo-shik, but they’re not interested. One tells him flat-out that he’s wasting his time and good name on a whistleblower no one wants to hire. Missing Mi-joo, he waits outside her house, but hides once she and Mae-yi arrive, chatting happily. He sighs that he’s relieved she’s fine.
Sun-kyum goes to watch a movie alone, remembering his happy moments with Mi-joo. He stays for the credits, only to sigh in disappointment to see that the subtitle translator wasn’t Mi-joo. Oh you sad puppy.
Ms. Dong notices Eun-bi isn’t playing well, and brings it up in their next meeting with Dan-ah, who also calls Eun-bi out for her unnecessary diet. Poor Eun-bi finally explodes.
Ye-joon, having been roped into blowing up balloons for Dan-ah’s birthday, isn’t having a great time either. He warns Young-hwa that in the fairy tale, the prince ends up blind for daring to approach Rapunzel.
Tae-woong finds out that Young-hwa is planning a birthday party and rushes over to the cafe to stop him. They end up fighting; Ye-joon arrives and defends Young-hwa; Ye-chan joins the fray, and then Mr. Jung, until it becomes a total free-for-all. HAHAHA.
Sun-kyum and Mi-joo run into each other in the parking lot, and gaze meaningfully into each other’s eyes for a long, charged moment—oblivious to the fight spilling out of the cafe in slow motion. Oh God, I can’t breathe.
Ms. Dong shows up too, steaming in anger at the revelation that Ye-chan’s been boxing, which is when Dan-ah enters this circus sideshow. Mae-yi startles Mi-joo into exploding a party popper, the cake goes splat, and Young-hwa’s car trunk surprise opens on its own.
In the aftermath, Sun-kyum asks Mi-joo if she’d still have come if she knew he’d be there. She doesn’t reply.
Dan-ah tells a deflated Young-hwa and a sulky Tae-woong to clean up, and leaves. Young-hwa asks why Tae-woong isn’t publicly listed as Dan-ah’s brother, and he says bluntly, “I’m a bastard.”
He reveals that today isn’t Dan-ah’s real birthday—their dad registered her birth after Myung-min was born. He warns Young-hwa not to do this again.
Coach Bang’s student Soo-bin gets in a fight. Bang’s unreachable, so Sun-kyum goes to the school in her place, only to get an earful from the parents due to his reputation. Wanting to hear her side of the story, Sun-kyum waits outside Soo-bin’s home for hours.
Mi-joo runs into Soo-bin the next day. She tells Mi-joo that her classmate was mocking her with Sun-kyum’s assault record, and she ended up falling down the stairs. That’s why Soo-bin is avoiding Sun-kyum—she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, and she feels bad that track and field is about to be canceled.
Soo-bin asks if she should explain what happened, and Mi-joo offers to go with her. They find the boy’s mother, who demands to talk to Soo-bin’s parents. Soo-bin lives with her aunt, and attempts to explain that she was only trying to get away from her classmate. The woman insults Soo-bin horribly, pushes her, and stalks off.
Mi-joo grabs a brick and threatens to smash the woman’s fancy car, telling her to respect Soo-bin or she’ll actually do it next time. “I’m Soo-bin’s sister,” she says. “What’s so great about having parents, anyway?” GO, GIRL.
The boy shows up then, yelling at his mom for making Soo-bin cry. He confesses that he likes her—he only trash talked Sun-kyum because he was jealous that Soo-bin admires him.
When Mi-joo takes Soo-bin home that evening, her aunt says that Sun-kyum came and waited again today. Mi-joo sees him on her way out and freezes, then turns away. He runs to her and hugs her from behind. “Don’t go,” he begs.
She tells him to let go, but he knows she’ll just leave.
Sun-kyum: I’ve never been stubborn about anything before so I don’t know how, but can you not teach me? How to break up. Teach me anything else you like, but can you not teach me that? Can’t you just like me? Please.
Ah, I cried. This one was hard to watch, although thankfully we still had plenty of hilarity to cut the heartbreak. It was interesting to see the contrast between how Mi-joo and Sun-kyum handled this separation. She felt really upset and guilty but managed to act normal-ish, because this is one more in a long line of self-preservation breakups. As she told Mae-yi, she knows Sun-kyum is different, but that doesn’t change the instincts formed over a lifetime of abandonment. I also really loved Mi-joo’s admission to Eun-bi that love is great, but she doesn’t want to lose her work, because that would feel like losing herself. And she’s worked so hard to get to where she is now—emotionally stable, with a job she enjoys and a best friend who always has her back. We got a hint of how long it took her to become the emotionally intelligent, capable woman she is now when she apologized to Mae-yi and referenced her past temper tantrums. It was moving to see Mi-joo playing that same role for Soo-bin at the end of the episode. I cheered when she confronted that awful woman.
On the other hand, Sun-kyum finally opened his heart fully for the first time, and now he’s being told to close it up again, and he doesn’t know how. Nor does he want to learn. He spent this episode wandering around like a lost puppy, because Mi-joo made visible all the feelings he was hiding from, and now he can’t escape them. It was both adorable and sad how he spent the whole episode using memories of her to get through the days, since he couldn’t actually see her. Mi-joo was miserable too, but she initiated the break (up), and it was painful to watch her shut down every attempt he made at approaching her. Especially because Sun-kyum never does the aggressive male lead thing, and speaks every word to her with care and respect, even when he’s angry.
We’ve reached the penultimate-week K-drama angst, but for once I can totally understand both characters. This issue’s been coming for them ever since Mi-joo first accepted that envelope of money from Assemblyman Ki. And as much as I wish I could push him off a cliff, kudos to the drama for making Ki truly menacing in that confrontation in Episode 12. Mi-joo’s fear was palpable, and this is absolutely not an issue of Sun-kyum simply loving her enough. Or Mi-joo loving him enough—I’m so glad Mae-yi didn’t let her go down that self-sacrificing path of misery.
But Sun-kyum’s speech at the end was still so heartbreaking, because it’s obvious how much they love each other. I hope it’ll be the catalyst for Mi-joo to stop avoiding him and talk to him more about her abandonment issues and her past. He knows the bare outlines, but she’s been pretty sparse on the details. I think if he shows her definitively that she can trust him to stand by her side, she’ll also begin to trust him with the vulnerabilities that have so far lain behind barbed electric wire. Sun-kyum is more resilient, especially against his family, than Mi-joo gives him credit for. And he’s growing stronger all the time, thanks in part to the lessons he’s learned from her. I loved the echo of Mi-joo rescuing Sun-kyum at the movie theatre in last week’s scene at the golf course—Mi-joo grabbed his wrist so he could grab Eun-bi’s. And Eun-bi and Ryan’s dysfunctional pattern of running and chasing is a warning to Mi-joo and Sun-kyum that they shouldn’t fall into the same trap. They either need to face Assemblyman Ki head-on and defeat him, or break up. Ki seems to be planning something even more sinister, so the confrontation is inevitable. Mi-joo should hold on to that brick.
On a lighter note, I loved every interaction between Dan-ah and Young-hwa this week. Only Dan-ah could turn “vending machine” from a humiliating insult into a teasing nickname. Him declaring it proudly to Tae-woong later had me hooting—in fact, that entire birthday sequence was an all-time great. Every time I thought, That’s the punch line, there was more, and every joke was better than the one before until I was gasping with laughter as Young-hwa and company flailed in the background during our leads’ moment of angst.
And I appreciated how Young-hwa and Dan-ah’s silly bickering over celebrating her birthday ended with that sobering revelation about her father’s cruel sexism. To Young-hwa, not celebrating her birthday was just a weird Rich People Thing like expecting valet parking at a burger joint. And it was, but not in the way he expected, because Dan-ah’s father views his children only as assets in his pursuit of even greater wealth. Young-hwa has to open his eyes now (pun very much intended) to the witch that’s kept Rapunzel in her tower all this time. Let’s hope Ye-joon’s warning about the original ending to the fairy tale is less dark foreshadowing and more a broken heart talking. Poor boy.
- Premiere Watch: Run On, Sweet Home
- Romance begins for Im Shi-wan and Shin Se-kyung in JTBC’s Run On
- Im Shi-wan, Shin Se-kyung toast to romance in new teaser for Run On
- A new teaser for Shin Se-kyung and Im Shi-wan’s romance drama Run On
- First look at Im Shi-wan, Shin Se-kyung in JTBC’s Run On
- Shin Se-kyung, Im Shi-wan to star in new JTBC drama