Run On: Episode 8
Run On continues to carefully unfold information about our main quartet — the more time we spend with them, the more we learn about what makes them tick, and why they interact with the world the way they do. A work commitment takes our heroine out of the city, and the brief time our couple spends apart serves to bring them closer together.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Mi-joo takes Sun-kyum’s wrist and leads him away from his father to their correct “place” in the theater. Assemblyman Ki begins to go after the two, but his wife holds him back (and you can just see the hearts in her eyes as she watches them leave). She jokes that Assemblyman Ki has been shooting his own little makjang drama with the couple and asks if he’s going to pour water on Mi-joo next.
Once they’re off the scene, Mi-joo stops and looks Sun-kyum straight in the eyes. She doesn’t understand why she always has to see him lower himself in front of others, and she tells him to prioritize and value himself more. She doesn’t miss a chance to ask why he was supposed to be meeting Dan-ah, though — but Sun-kyum only says if he was meeting Dan-ah, he wouldn’t have been talking only to Mi-joo.
Inside the theater, in the seats where Sun-kyum was supposed to sit with Dan-ah, a spiffy Young-hwa is anticipating Dan-ah’s arrival. But just as he finishes checking his hair in his phone reflection, he turns to find Mr. Jung in her place. Young-hwa nags at Mr. Jung, asking why he won’t give him Dan-ah’s number despite her permission to do so. Mr. Jung says it’s because he makes him uneasy, and then hushes Young-hwa so he can pay attention to the movie.
When the movie ends and everyone rushes to leave the theater, Mi-joo and Sun-kyum stay behind. There’s no discussion of this whatsoever, but it’s implicit between them that they’ll stay to see Mi-joo’s name in the closing credits.
Outside of the theater, a red and bleary-eyed Young-hwa sees Sun-kyum and Mi-joo exiting, and shouts to stop them. He waves to Mi-joo but immediately pulls Sun-kyum to the side, upset that Mr. Jung showed up instead of Dan-ah.
Sun-kyum asks if Dan-ah is the reason Young-hwa’s crying, but Young-hwa says it’s because the movie was so sad and he’s a sensitive guy. Then, Young-hwa asks if Sun-kyum arrived back home safely in the morning after drinking with him. Mi-joo overhears and asks Sun-kyum if that’s where he was that night. At the same time, Sun-kyum realizes that Mi-joo and Young-hwa already know each other, and the misunderstanding about the other night quickly clears up with Mi-joo admitting she let her imagination run wild.
When Mi-joo and Sun-kyum head out for drinks, Young-hwa perks up and insists on third-wheeling, even though it’s clear to him they were on a date. Sun-kyum even wishes he’d take the hint, but the three wind up going out together.
They don’t stay put out for very long, though, because by the time we catch them at the table, the conversation is going quite well. Mi-joo and Young-hwa rave about the film, and chatter non-stop — it’s completely clear these two speak the same language, and their conversation flows naturally and comfortably.
Sun-kyum, quietly listening, tries to join the conversation by informing them that he’s already seen the movie before tonight. Mi-joo one-ups him saying she’s seen it several times. They then realize they were actually at the same film festival where it was screened, and Mi-joo points at him to confirm if he really was there too. Sun-kyum points his finger back at hers, E.T. style. While Mi-joo is bewildered, Young-hwa notices the move. Sun-kyum is clearly trying to speak her language, but before they can address the weirdness that just happened, Young-hwa usurps the conversation again, and he and Mi-joo chat familiarly about college.
When Sun-kyum brings up Dan-ah, Young-hwa moons over her hilariously, and begs Sun-kyum for her number. Sun-kyum seems hesitant until Young-hwa plays back the recording he took of Dan-ah giving verbal permission to share her number.
It doesn’t get more legit than that, so Sun-kyum gives him the number (victory!), which Young-hwa enters under the nickname “Rapunzel.” He notices disappointedly that she has no profile photo, but decides it makes her more interesting. It turns out Young-hwa is the only one at the table with a profile photo; it’s the painting he’s working on for Dan-ah.
Meanwhile, Dan-ah sits at a chic bar, deeply focused on her book. Her phone keeps buzzing, interrupting her focus, so she checks to see a text from Young-hwa requesting she save his number — just so she knows who she’s ghosting. Identifying him by the profile picture of his art, she smirks and shows the bartender (a nice little cameo by Kim Won-hae). Dan-ah asks him if people really think a couple of profile photos can grab a person’s attention, and he points out that it’s clearly working on her.
As Dan-ah gets up to leave, she returns the book to the bartender, who agrees to keep it for her. He asks why she doesn’t keep her books in her own study, and Dan-ah answers that she would be embarrassed to openly own a book about anxiety, and prefers that her own remain unseen. The bartender stashes the book on a shelf that seems to be full of additional Self Help reading material.
Mi-joo and Sun-kyum walk home, and Sun-kyum asks her a series of polite questions about how she feels, when she’s leaving for the film site, how she’ll get there, and more. He mentions his car is fixed, but her curt replies make it clear she’s still salty. Sun-kyum is perplexed.
The next day, Young-hwa runs into Mi-joo at the neighborhood cafe, and their conversation is as friendly and relaxed as it was the night before. Young-hwa is impressed by her English skills asks Mi-joo to translate all the comments that are plaguing his social media account. Mi-joo confirms it’s Tae-woong’s fans asking about their connection, and Young-hwa is annoyed and grumbles that Tae-woong should just unfollow him.
At the gym, Dan-ah and Ms. Dong discuss their preparations for Eun-bi’s tournament. Dan-ah is thrilled that Eun-bi will wear her clothing while playing golf in front of the world, but Ms. Dong looks irritable. She asks Dan-ah if it was always her plan to discard Sun-kyum once Eun-bi joined the agency.
Dan-ah replies that she is fond of Sun-kyum as a person, but simply can’t afford to have an athlete she represents charged with assault; her agency is more important than her fondness for a person. Ms. Dong asserts that it could be better for the agency’s image to help Sun-kyum get back on his feet, since there’s nothing good about an agency that abandons its athletes. Moreover, she implies that Sun-kyum would do an excellent job as an agent, managing their athletes.
However, Dan-ah swiftly dismisses the idea, and says Sun-kyum would put the athletes first, whereas she would rather work with someone who puts her business first.
Dan-ah arrives home from the gym to a scolding from her father. He tells her she shouldn’t have hit Myung-min in front of their employees — that she should have done it discreetly.
When Myung-min tells her to treat him like her older brother, Dan-ah says she already does so in public, and he should be grateful. Dan-ah harshly reminds him that she’s ten months his senior, but due to the forgery of his birth certificate, is now legally deemed younger.
Their father says he wishes each of his children shared their good qualities, and Dan-ah jumps right in and says if they had the same mother, they might. “Unlike me, they’re the bastards.” Her father insists that he loves all three of his children equally, but Dan-ah isn’t listening — she’s distracted by wife number two setting the table for her mother’s memorial service.
Dan-ah furiously says the sight makes her sick, and Myung-min barks back not step on his mother’s generosity. Her father tells Dan-ah to let go of her hatred, but that gets her even more upset, and she says she’s never been invested enough to have such a strong emotion as that.
Dan-ah continues, saying that the reason she doesn’t expose her brother is for the sake of the company and her father only, and that she’s been working her ass off alone. When her father says he should just die, she scolds him for playing the victim. Her father then gets on his favorite topic of her getting married (suggesting it will also “set her straight” after coming out as a lesbian).
Dan-ah scoffs, saying she won’t even bother responding since she doesn’t even know where to start with him. She scorns marriage, saying it is a despicable waste of time, and disregards her father’s opinion on the matter. He jumps up and says all a father wants is the wonderful moment when he walks his daughter down the aisle, and after the briefest moment of pause, Dan-ah pulls away from him and storms out of the room.
It turns out that Tae-woong has been standing there the whole time, and he runs after Dan-ah to show the rice cakes he brought for her mother’s memorial service (aww!). Dan-ah mercilessly tells him to mind his own business and crawl back to America. Tae-woong says he will if that’s what she wants, and this only further enrages Dan-ah. Why does he keep coming to her despite her clear hatred? Tae-woong says that he’d rather have her hate than her disinterest, since everyone else in the family ignores him — hate is still a form of interest and attention. Poor kid!
Dan-ah gets in her car and zooms off. Alone, Tae-woong looks down at his phone exploding with likes and adoring comments. He whispers that he wishes he were dead.
Dan-ah finds herself alone outside the cafe, staring in at Young-hwa’s art. She muses that his painting shines even in the darkness.
The next day, as Mi-joo and Mae-yi prepare to leave, Sun-kyum is packing a bag full of prepped meals that he made for them (bento box style, so they can easily eat them on the go). Mi-joo looks touched by the gesture, but when she makes eye contact with Sun-kyum, she immediately looks away and says she’ll be off, refusing to let her annoyance melt. Mae-yi asks him if she’s still pretending to be pissed off, and he says he wishes she was just pretending.
Sun-kyum goes to Dan-ah’s office to meet Ms. Dong, who’s still ashamed of how the agency dropped him. He assures her not to be uncomfortable and gives her ginseng to thank her for giving him Coach Bang’s number. Ms. Dong says the coach was spotted with a certain team and asks if this is his handiwork. Sun-kyum is surprised, but Ms. Dong tells him that he has the powerful natural gift of motivating people — if only he knew he had such a gift.
Dan-ah comes out of her office to speak with Ms. Dong, and is surprised to see Sun-kyum. She says it must be fate — they should get married since she’s tired of the blind dates. Sun-kyum asks why she keeps insisting that he liked her before when he never did. With a straight face, she proposes that he marry her as payment for his misleading behavior.
Sun-kyum seems confused, but before their exchange is resolved, Dan-ah is back in work mode as if it never even happened. Ms. Dong remarks that she’s never able to quite tell if Dan-ah is joking or serious, and Sun-kyum agrees.
Mi-joo and Mae-yi arrive on the seaside film set to help out their PD friend, JUNG HEE-JIN (Park Joo-hee). Mae-yi recognizes the Korean producer, JULIE (cameo by Kim Jae-hwa,), infamous for being a rude translator who isn’t even fluent in English.
According to Hee-jin, Julie’s poor translating has already cost the filming team a lot of time. Mi-Joo tries to help in every way she can; we see her working long hours, and gobbling up one of Sun-kyum’s prepped meals while she stays on set late into the night to help.
Back in Seoul, we see Sun-kyum eating the same meal he prepped for Mi-joo and Mae-yi while doing laundry and keeping the house in order.
Mi-joo and Mae-yi arrive at their accommodations, and they’re both horrified by how dingy and dirty it is. They try to come up with a plan to actually be able to sleep there, and Mi-joo says they’ll lay on top of the clean towels and use a blanket she brought from home. When they open the bathroom, though, they both take a step back, revolted, and their reaction says it all.
Later, Mi-joo tries to settle to sleep, first checking her phone and wondering how Sun-kyum is doing. Similarly, Sun-kyum is wide-eyed on their living room couch, and also checks his phone. He types a message asking Mi-joo to recommend a movie that will help him sleep, but he decides not to send it.
When the girls wake up the next morning, we get another cheeky meta moment — Mi-joo gets spooked when Mae-yi is sleeping upside-down in the bed… with her eyes wide open.
Back in Seoul, Sun-kyum’s mother invites him to have coffee with her since Eun-bi’s treating. However, when Sun-kyum arrives at the meeting place, it’s his mother’s film set — and the coffee is actually a PR coffee truck most likely sent by the agency (and obviously, there’s no Eun-bi in sight).
His mother is excited to see him, though, and walks over to Sun-kyum with a smile. She’s in costume and makeup at this point, strategically splattered with blood (and incidentally looking happier than we have seen her thus far).
Sun-kyum says he heard she’s the first Korean actress to skin someone, and they chat about her violent film roles. This time, Ji-woo says she’s playing a vegan murderer, and she’s hilariously entertained by all her past killer roles. She even tells Sun-kyum if he agrees to cameo in her current film they can “slice together.” (Ji-woo is so quirky and fun here, she reminds me a lot of Mi-joo, and I don’t think that comparison is at all accidental.)
Sun-kyum and his mother sit together on set and enjoy their coffee and a chat. He asks his mother why she doesn’t scold him for being unemployed like other mothers would. She chuckles, asking if he misses her nagging, but says she doesn’t have the right to criticize or meddle in his life since he never criticizes hers.
Ji-woo reminisces on Sun-kyum’s childhood, thinking of the countless times she requested him to be good at home while she worked all day, to not bother Eun-bi as she prepared for a tournament, and to win a medal to support his father’s election. Ji-woo acknowledges that Sun-kyum did everything asked of him without complaint. With a mother’s insight, she says that even though he’s mild-tempered, she knows it wasn’t easy for him. Ji-woo is also honest about how she didn’t nurture him during his childhood; instead, she acknowledges that he raised himself.
Even so, Ji-woo recalls how exhilarating it was when Sun-kyum found something he wanted to pursue, and she concludes that the most she can do as a mother is to support him — just like he did for her. Ji-woo adds some humor to this touching moment, acknowledging it’s odd to say all this while splattered with blood, but her son says she’s always beautiful.
Sun-kyum announces he will bring a gift the next time he visits, and Ji-woo quickly says he should bring “her fan” (Mi-joo) with him. She adds he should treat Mi-joo well since she’s his mother’s fan. Ji-woo keeps it light, but the mention was on purpose, and it prods Sun-kyum to ask her why she married his father. Ji-woo sighs that it was because she loved him, and though they’re not on good terms currently, it may very well be because they still love each other.
When Ji-woo again asks Sun-kyum to cameo, he turns her down flatly. When she grumbles who he takes after to be so stubborn, Sun-kyum offhandedly holds his hand up, framing his mother’s face, while at the same time taking a sip of his coffee. Ji-woo agrees, and drops her chin a bit until it’s resting in his palm. These two are definitely two peas in a pod.
As Sun-kyum is leaving the film set, he thinks of Mi-joo, also on set, and sends her a message: “My mom told me to treat her fan well.” Mi-joo is tickled, and tells him that he should do just that.
Later that night, Mi-joo continues to go above and beyond on the film set, even staying behind after everyone else leaves for dinner. When they’re finally off the clock, Mi-joo, Mae-yi and Hee-jin sit in front of a 24/7 convenience store drinking beer and eating snacks. The others acknowledge Mi-joo’s work ethic, and then they talk about how hard it is to actually interpret properly on set, and they recall the hard working conditions of the past. However, all three of them seem to enjoy what they do enough to keep at it.
At the training center, Young-il looks at the photo of Woo-shik and Sun-kyum hanging in his locker and gives Woo-shik a call. Young-il checks in, says it’s uncomfortable with both of them gone, and encourages Woo-shik to work up his courage and meet with Sun-kyum.
It’s another day on the film set, and Mi-joo scrambles to jot down notes as the director and cinematographer shout out plans for the upcoming scene at a breakneck speed. It’s next to impossible for her to process and translate that level of detail in the few seconds she’s given, and when the scene doesn’t go as planned, the American cinematographer berates her. Mi-joo is deeply apologetic, but also communicates well, asking for a little more time to be able to do her job better. The cinematographer is more reasonable than one might expect, and agrees.
Dan-ah is leaving her office building when someone kicks a soccer ball over to her. She stops it mostly on reflex, and looks up to see Youg-hwa waiting for her nearby. He asks if she saved his number, and she repeats back his earlier line that she did — in order to be sure of who she’s ghosting. Young-hwa smiles at this, but Dan-ah quickly reminds him not to smile.
He says cutely that he smiles when he’s happy, and she can’t stop him — then he demands to know why she didn’t attend the premiere, and why she was supposed to meet Sun-kyum there. Dan-ah merely tells him to mind his own business and then asks why he came by. Young-hwa says he came by to show her his draft, but announces that now he’s not going to anymore.
They bicker over who has the authority over the draft, as Dan-ah’s curiosity grows. She claims that she’ll see the draft even if it means locking him up and torturing him — but Young-hwa is only excited to hear that she’ll make time for him, and smiles widely. She calls him a student again, and Young-hwa complains, instead saying she should call him familiarly by his first name (in banmal. When she cracks up and pretends to be horrified, he says “jerk” is okay too.
Young-hwa is miffed when Mr. Jung walks over, and gives him the stink eye. Before heading off, Dan-ah pretends she’s going to kick the ball right at Young-hwa. He quickly attempts to protect himself from the oncoming kick, but of course she’s just playing with him. When she runs off, Young-hwa smiles after her, totally smitten.
As the last shoot of the night wraps up on the film set, Mi-joo begins to feel sick, but doesn’t get a chance to rest, since Julie is chewing out the Korean staff. Julie demands to know which idiot hired an English-speaking driver when the director specifically asked for a non-English speaker (surprise, surprise — it was Julie).
They’re in sudden need of someone who is not an English speaker, a good driver, free, and presentable. And who checks all the boxes? Sun-kyum, of course. Mi-joo feels bad asking for a favor after giving him the cold shoulder, but she asks him anyway, and tells him she’ll finally make amends.
The next morning, Mi-joo struggles to get up as she’s stricken with a fever. Without a taxi or large hospital with an ambulance nearby, she drags herself on foot to the nearest clinic. The doctor tells her she’s overworked herself, and Mi-joo is given an IV drip.
Feverish, she tries to rest in the hospital bed, but the nosy ajummas the next bed over keep bothering her and pulling open the curtain to talk. Mi-joo struggles to close the curtain, saying that her head is pounding. She settles back down to rest, totally miserable, when the curtain is pulled open again.
It’s Sun-kyum this time (gah!). He explains that Mae-yi sent him to help her, and Mi-joo’s eyes well up with tears, comforted by his presence. He asks what’s wrong and how he can help, and she whimpers that the ajummas keep bothering her so she can’t rest. Sun-kyum says he’ll take care of them, and they chat while Mi-joo sleeps off her fever.
Later, as the two drive back from the clinic, Mi-joo looks better, but is covered in fever-reducing patches. She asks if she snored while she slept, and Sun-kyum shares that she kept calling out for her mother. Mi-joo sheepishly says she does it out of habit. She had meningitis as a child and shared a hospital room with other sick children. When all the other kids cried in pain, they searched for their mothers to hold their hands. Young Mi-joo, who had neither mother nor father, copied them to fit in.
Mi-joo says, “As a kid, you feel safe only when you’re part of a group. And as an adult, you live in fear of being ostracized.” She says that Sun-kyum’s probably never had to struggle with such fears, and jokes that maybe he’s afraid of bugs. He says in the past he wasn’t afraid of anything, but now it feels like he’s about to be afraid of something. Mi-joo thinks he means the bugs at their motel, but it feels as though he’s referring to something else.
Sun-kyum is beyond horrified when he sees the Korean staff’s shoddy lodging situation. Shortly after, he tells Mae-yi and Hee-jin that he’ll pay for the entire staff to stay at the nice hotel where the major staff and actors are staying. They can’t refuse his generous offer.
Sun-kyum stays behind to pack up Mi-joo’s things, and she calls him to make sure he doesn’t leave behind the leopard print blanket that’s on the bed. As Sun-kyum folds it up, he mutters to himself that it’s so obviously hers.
Mi-joo is resting in a beautiful hotel room (that bed of crisp white sheets sure is a world apart!), but she still seems feverish despite her treatment. When Sun-kyum arrives, she’s barely awake, but she notices that he’s at her bedside, cooling her with a cold cloth.
In her feverish sleep, she calls out for her mom again. Sun-kyum watches her intently, and then says “Ki Sun-kyum” each time she mutters, “Mom.” He says that from now on, when she’s sick or struggling, she should call out for someone who will be there for her from now on. Mi-joo rouses just enough to hear that, and whispers, “Ki Sun-kyum” (but not without also muttering that his name is hard to pronounce). “I called your name,” she says, reaching out her hand. He takes it in both of his, and Mi-joo falls fast asleep.
Talk about a wonderful ending! There’s so much tenderness and subtlety in that bedside moment, I think a part of my heart just melted for keeps.
I’m not sure if it’s because this episode called out some specific moments, or because after reaching our halfway point that the drama’s themes are really sinking in, but wow — there’s so much to unpack!
The scene where Sun-kyum, Mi-joo, and Young-hwa meet and interact was particularly telling. I loved having these three characters together from a plot standpoint (because how fun are their dynamics?!), but their scenes together also told us a lot about the drama’s exploration of communication.
Even though Mi-joo and Young-hwa are practically strangers, it’s immediately clear to us how easy communication is for them. They share the same interests, industry, and even their college experiences. There’s no friction or opacity in any of their conversations.
This, of course, is the exact opposite of what we have during practically every Mi-joo/Sun-kyum interaction. Bantery and fun though they are, these two constantly deal with misunderstandings, missed references, and other bits of friction when they’re interacting. Their worlds are different, their frames of reference are different, and their personalities and ways of interacting with the world are also incredibly different. All of this adds a sort of strain to their interactions, broadly.
While I personally think Mi-joo stayed mad at Sun-kyum for much longer than was warranted, this is important to their story, because if these two are going to find their way, they have to learn to understand each other’s language. And here’s where I love that the drama is doing: the friction between our leads isn’t necessary bad. It doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. It doesn’t mean they can’t have a lasting relationship, either.
Rather, it’s more like the two simply have to understand how the other communicates. And the more we get of this drama, the more we see that happening. Mi-joo going out running with Sun-kyum because she realizes it’s his language. Sun-kyum realizing he doesn’t know what Mi-joo needs, so openly asking her (on several occasions) to tell him. It’s good stuff, and the drama is layered with so many details about translating (not just between foreign languages, but between people), that I could go on forever.
But I won’t, because there’s Dan-ah and Young-hwa to talk about! I had no idea where this love line was going to go in the beginning, and it’s taking such an interesting turn. I find both characters completely refreshing, and I love their dynamic. I’d be lying if I said I knew how they were going to make this romance work, but Dan-ah is such a live wire, I will watch with anticipation.
I used the word refreshing to describe Dan-ah and Young-hwa, but actually, that’s how I feel about the drama overall. Even though it has many familiar elements, there’s both newness and depth to this story that I can’t seem to get enough of. The drama also has a great balance of comedy with deeper, character-driven moments, and though I rarely say these words: every character here interests me.
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