Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 11
Realizing that his poor relationship with the team is making our heroine unhappy, our CEO resolves to become a boyfriend she can be proud of. Meanwhile, our photographer is just gathering his courage to confess his feelings when an unwelcome revelation derails his plans entirely.
EPISODE 11: “A home reflects its owner”
As they head back to the hanok estate, neither Young-won nor Ja-sung can stop smiling and each take a moment to think about that kiss when they separate. Ja-sung joins Gyeom for a drink, and they both comment on each other’s good moods.
Gyeom explains that the woman he likes, who originally said she didn’t have time to date, has now told him that she might reconsider if the right guy came along so he’s planning to confess; Ja-sung wishes him luck. He’s curious about this mystery woman but Gyeom will only say that she’s someone who makes you happy every time you’re around her, which makes Ja-sung think of Young-won.
Gyeom invites Young-won to ride back to Seoul with him the next day, and Chan sighs ruefully when Mi-ra asks to join them. Unfortunately for Gyeom though, Eui-joo interrupts to suggest that Young-won go with Ja-sung instead, winking not-very-subtly at them as she insists it would be the perfect opportunity for them to talk about work.
On the ride back, Young-won suggests going out for dinner but Ja-sung is insistent that they stay home — because he decorated it specially for her and doesn’t want that effort going to waste of course, not because he has any ulterior motives.
Ja-sung and Young-won watch a romantic movie that evening and both are engrossed by a steamy scene when Young-won’s phone rings, making them jump. It’s a video call from Eui-joo, who’s delighted to see Young-won’s at Ja-sung’s apartment, and he thanks her for the wine she sent.
Before she hangs up, Eui-joo asks how Ja-sung liked her other present and Young-won, who had forgotten to give it to him, presents him with a small gift-wrapped box — containing a condom. Flustered, Ja-sung slams the box shut and an embarrassed Young-won curses Eui-joo, but as she reaches for her wine glass his hand covers hers.
Ja-sung kicks his bedroom door open with Young-won in his arms and lays her down on his bed. Unbuttoning his shirt, he lowers himself on top of her, but as he leans down to kiss her Young-won stops him and asks him if he knows this is all in his imagination.
Ja-sung snaps back to reality to find himself still sitting on the couch with Young-won and apologizes to her, although he won’t explain why. He suggests they watch another movie — maybe action this time — but Young-won says that it’s getting late so he offers to drive her home.
Gyeom outlines his plan to confess to Young-won that weekend to Chan, who’s pleased that Gyeom’s finally facing his feelings head-on rather than just pining fruitlessly. He asks if Gyeom’s considered what he’s going to do if Young-won turns him down, and Gyeom replies that he’ll never give up on her, he’ll just wait for her until she says yes.
Sang-soon is still in a daze when he arrives at work the next morning, having picked up his mom’s flowery crocheted bag instead of his own. Eui-joo encourages him to get back out there and get revenge on his ex by dating someone better than her and making her regret letting him go, like she does herself, but Sang-soon’s face just crumples again as he tries to hold back his tears.
The next morning Ja-sung invited Editor Choi into his office to ask if the preparation work for the next day’s meeting has been done. Editor Choi assures him it has, so Ja-sung decides to move the meeting up to that afternoon, overriding Editor Choi’s protests.
The preparation work for the meeting has of course not actually been done, so everyone in the office is forced to go into overdrive to get it ready in time. Cursing Ja-sung, Eui-joo cancels a dermatology appointment at an exclusive clinic and Editor Choi bans bathroom breaks as he tasks Sang-soon with assembling the advertisers’ models, which the advertising team would have done if the meeting hadn’t been pulled forward.
Editor Choi gets a notification that the next day is Ja-sung’s birthday and everyone groans, wondering if they can get away with pretending not to know. Eui-joo is just asking why they should care about Ja-sung when he doesn’t care about them when she suddenly remembers Young-won’s dating him and stops awkwardly mid-sentence.
Young-won has an interview that afternoon and feels guilty that she can’t help everyone prepare for the meeting, but Editor Choi tells her to focus on her own work. She’s going to get an exclusive look at the home of a celebrity couple, and the article has been heavily sponsored so it needs to go well.
Eui-joo finds Young-won in the archive and asks her how she could like such a selfish person, but Young-won insists that Eui-joo only thinks that because she doesn’t really know Ja-sung. Hearing the others badmouth him is getting to Young-won, and she reminds Eui-joo that she promised to support their relationship.
Eui-joo hands Ja-sung a report and leaves his office obediently when dismissed, only to immediately turn around and stride back in, announcing that employee-Eui-joo has just left, but Young-won’s-best-friend-Eui-joo has a bone to pick with him over his recent behavior.
She spells it out for Ja-sung that when he does unreasonable things like suddenly reschedule a meeting, the staff will bad-mouth him and Young-won will have to listen to it and will get upset. As Ja-sung gapes at Eui-joo, outraged, she reminds him that he might be CEO but he’s also Young-won’s boyfriend, so he needs to consider the effect his actions might have on her.
Eui-joo informs him that that was a message from Young-won’s very close friend Eui-joo who loves her very much, and Ja-sung is left spluttering in indignation as she leaves — although apparently it was the implication that she loves Young-won more than he does that offended him, rather than her impertinence.
Young-won heads over to Gyeom’s studio to talk about the next shoot and they end up discussing Ja-sung’s upcoming birthday. Gyeom says that every year he tries to arrange a party or something for Ja-sung but every year Ja-sung puts work first, and he doubts that Ja-sung has any good memories of his birthday. He wanted to meet Ja-sung for dinner this year to celebrate, but he said he already had plans.
Gyeom is worried that Ja-sung’s overworking himself and Young-won remembers that Gyeom once found Ja-sung after he had collapsed. She says that Ja-sung must be grateful to him but Gyeom insists that he was just paying Ja-sung back.
When Gyeom was a teenager, his father, who disapproved of his son’s passion for photography, smashed his camera. Seeing how upset Gyeom was, Ja-sung had bought him an expensive new camera to replace it with his own money, and Gyeom had been stunned because he knew how desperately Ja-sung was trying to save.
Ja-sung recognized that photography was Gyeom’s dream, comparing it to his own dream of earning money, and told Gyeom to repay him by becoming the best. Gyeom hasn’t forgotten that Ja-sung was the only one to support him, and credits him as the reason why he never gave up on his goal.
As he watches the staff all working frantically, Ja-sung remembers what Eui-joo said to him about being more considerate for Young-won’s sake and goes out to invite them for lunch. They tell him that they don’t have time for a lunch break if they’re going to get everything ready for the meeting that afternoon, and he says that he’s decided to push it back to the original time.
Editor Choi, Eui-joo and Sang-soon turn to stare at Ja-sung in disbelief as he tells them that he’s decided to make a sacrifice for them and rearrange his own schedule instead, clearly expecting them to be grateful, but they all immediately start complaining as soon as he’s left. If Ja-sung could have just rescheduled his day that easily all along, then why did they have to cancel dermatology appointments, hammer their thumbs and spend the morning desperately holding in their need to pee in the first place?
Ja-sung pays for lunch and even forgoes a potato when there are only 3 of them, telling the others that although he loves potatoes he cares about them more, because he’s not a selfish person. He immediately undermines himself by trying to console Eui-joo about her break-up and assuring her she’ll get married one day (she’s been very vocal about not believing in marriage) and congratulating Sang-soon on his subscription and upcoming marriage (he and his girlfriend broke up).
Surprised, Ja-sung asks Sang-soon how he could be so unaffected by his break-up and the others look at him in disbelief as Editor Choi tells him that Sang-soon was like a living corpse on their estate trip — but Ja-sung didn’t even notice he was on the trip at all. Editor Choi gets a call and Ja-sung watches bemused as he tiptoes outside to take it, observing that he’s never seen him walk like that before, and Eui-joo and Sang-soon look at him with contempt.
Young-won, Gyeom and Chan visit the penthouse apartment of a famous celebrity couple (cameos by Park Ha-sun and Ha Suk-jin), known for being sickeningly sweet together, to interview them for an article. They live up to their lovebird reputation in person, wearing matching couple tees and slippers and finishing each other’s sentences. Their apartment is adorned with wedding photos and hearts.
The interview is derailed slightly when Young-won asks where their favorite place to date was and the couple have conflicting opinions for the first time. They dated mostly at home because they had to keep their relationship secret, and the husband feels sorry that his wife, who enjoys being active, was trapped inside. They both get tearful, and the magazine team look on awkwardly as she tries to reassure him that she loved dating at home.
Young-won chips in to say that she enjoys dating at home too but has to pretend she actually just meant hanging out with friends when the wife asks her if she has a boyfriend, as Chan and Gyeom are watching.
The couple both cough at the same time and coo over how in sync they are, and when the husband goes to get a glass of water the wife makes a fuss about how much she’ll miss him while he’s gone. Chan smiles at them and Gyeom looks slightly wistful, but Young-won seems uneasy.
Ja-sung may be trying to convince his employees that he cares about them, but his efforts have had the opposite effect. Back in the office, Editor Choi can’t believe that Ja-sung had never noticed him tip-toeing around and Sang-soon remarks that he never realized before that Ja-sung was quite so uninterested in them. Eui-joo tries to get them to stop badmouthing Ja-sung, but they can’t understand her sudden change in attitude.
Young-won arrives back and asks Editor Choi if they have to go ahead with the celebrity couple article after all, because she got the impression that something wasn’t quite right while interviewing them. Editor Choi is aghast and tells her not to even think about it, because the magazine has received a substantial amount of sponsorship money to print that article and they’re not going to return it all just because Young-won’s feeling uneasy.
Looking for ideas for the Hot Trend article, Editor Choi asks the assistants what young people are into these days and Joo-hee informs him that dating apps are very popular. He suggests Eui-joo should sign up to a dating app and write about her experience but she refuses as she’s too busy and suggests Sang-soon instead. Editor Choi is concerned that he’s not in the right head-space for dating but Eui-joo convinces him that it might be just the thing Sang-soon needs.
As he watches Sang-soon staring zombie-like into space, Ja-sung chastises himself for not paying more attention to his employees’ lives and admits that they were right to badmouth him. He hadn’t realized quite how self-absorbed he was until now.
Gyeom visits Ja-sung’s office to ask him to look into properties on his behalf, because he’s decided he does want to buy a home after all. Ja-sung is surprised by his change of heart, and when Gyeom explains that he wants to be able to invite the person he likes over to his place, remarks that she really must be an amazing woman.
Sang-soon has been on the dating app for a while and Eui-joo and Editor Choi are eager to find out how many DMs he’s gotten, but unfortunately the answer is none. Editor Choi checks Sang-soon’s phone has battery (it does) and his wi-fi’s working (it is) and desperately suggests touching up his profile picture but Joo-hee already has.
Sang-soon’s phone chimes with a DM and Editor Choi excitedly reads it aloud — but unfortunately it’s just a spam message. Tears rolling down his face, Sang-soon says that he doesn’t think he’s the right person for this article before running from the room, sobbing, and Editor Choi tells Eui-joo this was her idea so now it’s her responsibility to cheer him up.
Young-won is still agonizing over her celebrity couple article when Editor Choi comes to hurry her up as the Digital Team wants to promote it. She tries to tell him again that she thinks something is amiss and it would be a mistake to publish it, but he asks her to stop causing problems for him when he already has his hands full with Sang-soon.
Just then they’re interrupted by a text from Joo-hee, and everyone meets in the office to watch a dash cam video that’s all over the internet–of the celebrity couple pulling each other’s hair in a parking lot.
Editor Choi is impressed that Young-won had realized that something was wrong during the interview, and she explains that she’d guessed they didn’t actually live together after noticing that all the mail was addressed to the wife. There were other details that were off too; the husband didn’t seem to know where in the kitchen the glasses were kept, and all his toiletries in the bathroom were brand new.
Editor Choi gets a call from the sponsor asking them to pull the article, which the magazine fortunately hadn’t released any promotional content for yet due to Young-won’s reluctance, and congratulates her on her good instincts and foresight.
Joo-hee delivers a folder to Chan and lets him know that Mi-ra will be helping out at the shoot tomorrow, having asked her to switch places. Chan sighs at how obvious Mi-ra’s being about her crush and Joo-hee’s surprised he’s caught on.
Chan asks Joo-hee what Mi-ra fell for and preens when she says good looks, but gets confused when she mentions dimples. When he pulls out his phone to check his reflection and comments on how observant Mi-ra is, it dawns on Joo-hee that Chan thinks they’re talking about him but before she can correct him, he gets a call and leaves.
Eui-joo takes Sang-soon out for dinner to cheer him up over his lack of success on the dating app. She reassures him that he has everything women want: good(ish) looks, good(ish) height and a good(ish) personality, plus now he even has an apartment — he’s the perfect man! She tells him to have more confidence in himself, and they toast to him meeting someone better than his ex.
Young-won had to work late at the office to find another cover story after the celebrity couple article fell through, but Ja-sung waited for her so he could drive her home. He asks her how she figured out two strangers were having relationship trouble when he doesn’t even know anything about the people he sees every day, and she explains that a home is a reflection of its owner.
Gyeom is just staring at his phone, willing Young-won to check her messages and see his convenience store invite, when Chan arrives with the designer bag Gyeom had entrusted to him. He tells Gyeom to give it to Young-won when he confesses to her. Then, she’ll know how sincere his feelings are and how long he’s liked her; she’ll be sure to say yes.
Chan demands instant noodles in recompense but Gyeom’s all out, so they head to the store near Young-won’s apartment to get some. While Gyeom’s waiting outside for Chan, Ja-sung’s car pulls up and he runs round to open the passenger door for Young-won.
Gyeom is surprised to see them together but his face drops when he sees Ja-sung pull Young-won into his arms. Chan arrives and sees Ja-sung and Young-won hugging — huge smiles on their faces — while Gyeom watches, heartbroken.
Sang-soon is completely wasted when he and Eui-joo leave the restaurant, throwing up repeatedly on the sidewalk as he tries to insist he’s fine. He stares blearily at Eui-joo as she fusses over him and cleans his mouth with a wet-wipe, and she tells him to stay put while she goes to buy medicine.
When Eui-joo gets back, Sang-soon drunkenly asks her if she likes him. She said she was going to get back at her own ex by dating a better guy, and then she told Sang-soon he was the perfect man, plus she’s being so nice to him. Eui-joo tells him that he’s completely misunderstood, but Sang-soon goes on to say that he completely understands why she’d be interested in him but he’d never be interested in her.
Offended, Eui-joo snaps and clips Sang-soon round the head. She starts to leave but then abruptly turns round and marches back — Sang-soon shields his head in anticipation of another blow but Eui-joo just snatches the medicine she bought him out of his hand before storming off.
When Ja-sung arrives at work the next day, the staff surprise him with streamers and a birthday cake, and they all gather round to sing happy birthday to him while he stands there awkwardly. Editor Choi suggests they all go out for a meal to celebrate but Ja-sung says he has plans in the evening and at lunchtime, and leaves without another word.
As soon as Ja-sung’s office door closes behind him, Editor Choi curses his selfishness and ingratitude and asks the rest of the disheartened staff why they all even bothered to try. Eui-joo and Young-won exchange an awkward look as Sang-soon remarks that Ja-sung will never get a girlfriend, because no one would ever want to date such an awful person.
Shortly afterwards, each of the team members receives a personal text from Ja-sung thanking them sincerely for their kindness along with a gift certificate tailored to their individual needs. Editor Choi gets an interior design gift card so he can make some home improvements while he’s waiting for his apartment building to be renovated, Sang-soon receives a voucher for a stay at a luxury hotel so he can get away from his parents for a bit, Eui-joo gets a certificate for a security camera because she lives alone, and Mi-ra and Joo-hee both receive gift cards to use on daily necessities.
Everyone is awed by Ja-sung’s generosity, and by the thought he put into their gifts. Young-won smiles proudly to herself as the team decides that they were wrong about Ja-sung being selfish because he really does care about them after all, and Eui-joo congratulates her on finding a boyfriend willing to make such an effort for her.
Gyeom meets Ja-sung for coffee to wish him a happy birthday and give him his present, pretending everything is normal. He tells Ja-sung that he’s changed his mind about buying a house after all because he’s decided to stop liking the woman he wanted to take home.
Gyeom says he’s too busy with photography and camping to date. Ja-sung, surprised at his fickleness, tells him that his feelings can’t have been half as strong as he claimed if they could change that easily. Ja-sung gets a call from Young-won and walks away from the table to take it, and Gyeom’s smile fades from his face as he watches Ja-sung laugh.
Back at the studio, Chan tells Gyeom that he’d hate Ja-sung if he was in his place but Gyeom insists he’s fine. He’s never known Ja-sung to fall in love and he wants him to be happy, so he’s going to give up on Young-won.
At work, Ja-sung gets a disappointing text from Young-won telling him that she’s going to have to stay late so he should go home without her. Pouting, he debates making someone else do her work instead but remembers he’s turned over a new leaf and is supposed to be caring about others, so agrees unhappily.
When Ja-sung walks into the apartment by himself, looking glum, he’s surprised to find it decorated with banners and balloons. A video of Young-won appears on the projector screen and says that she’ll make this the best birthday he’s ever had, and the real Young-won walks out of her bedroom holding a birthday cake that says she’s happy to have met him. Ja-sung can’t stop smiling as he looks at her, and blows out the candle.
Meanwhile, Gyeom sits drinking alone at a bar. He thinks about Young-won, telling him she was jealous of his courage and determination to follow his passion for photography, and grateful for his support and companionship as her 1+1 partner. Gyeom then remembers Ja-sung talking about a person he always wanted to be around, laughing on the phone with Young-won and the two of them hugging, and downs his drink.
As they eat the birthday cake, Young-won tells Ja-sung that the team were really grateful and touched by his gifts and asks him how he knew just what to get them. Ja-sung explains that he remembered what she said about a home being a reflection of the person who lived in it and thought about their living situations and what they might need, so really it was all thanks to her.
Young-won says she was proud when she heard everyone complimenting him and Ja-sung vows to become a boyfriend she can always be proud of in future.
They’re interrupted by the doorbell and Ja-sung rushes downstairs to intercept Secretary Hwang, who’s come to deliver a birthday gift from a business contact, not wanting him to see Young-won in his apartment. Left alone, Young-won thinks again about how a home is a reflection of the person living in it.
Editor Choi’s wife excitedly browses through a home improvement site, and he starts to tiptoe away but then consciously makes the decision to walk upright, proud to have made her happy. Sang-soon scrolls through messages from his mom badgering him to apologize to his ex and beg her to take him back and sighs, before turning his phone off and lying back on the hotel bed to enjoy a moment of peace. Eui-joo admires the brand-new surveillance camera over her front door and gets a text from her rich benefactor, offering to buy her her own place, but doesn’t look happy about it.
Looking around Ja-sung’s apartment, Young-won remarks that his home, like his heart, is full of warmth. He deserves to be happy on his birthday, and she hopes that she’s helped make that a reality.
On his way back upstairs, Ja-sung gets a call from Chan telling him that Gyeom is in hospital, and rushes to his side. Gyeom is unconscious, but Chan tells Ja-sung that he’d been drinking alone and stumbled in front of a car after leaving the bar, so apparently he wasn’t really as fine as he kept insisting after all.
Bitter, Chan explains that Gyeom liked Young-won but found out yesterday that Ja-sung did too. Sitting by himself in a darkened corridor, Ja-sung thinks about how happy Gyeom had looked when he was talking about the girl he liked and then how he suddenly said he’d changed his mind at lunch that day. He kicks himself when he remembers what he’d said about how Gyeom’s feelings couldn’t have been that serious after all.
Ja-sung’s phone lights up with an influx of posts in the magazine’s group chat, as the team all thank him for their gifts and for caring so much about them. As he reads their comments about what a good person he is, Ja-sung hangs his head.
Young-won, still waiting for Ja-sung to come back, begins to wonder what’s taking him so long and gives him a call. Ja-sung reaches for his phone but hesitates before picking up, and turns away unhappily as it continues to ring.
I kind of love how Ja-sung subverted expectations after that conversation with Eui-joo — Kim Ji-suk does puffed-up offense so well and it was very sweet to see that it was all because Eui-joo questioned his devotion to Young-won, rather than the blow to his pride at being spoken down to by his employee. I approve of his priorities! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how willing Ja-sung is to recognize flaws in his own character and take steps to correct them. I know that he was motivated by his desire to make Young-won happy at first, but he seemed genuinely appalled to realize how little he knew about his own employees, people he saw every day (and wow, was he shockingly self-absorbed!). His ambition had blinkered him, but now that those blinkers have been removed he’s starting to take a good look at the person he’s become and realize that maybe he doesn’t like that person very much.
I very much liked the way that Ja-sung took what Young-won told him about a person’s home being a reflection of themselves, internalised it, and used it to get the staff gifts that were really personal to them. Ja-sung’s sudden thoughtfulness could have been too abrupt and out-of-character, but I think the writers bridged that gap convincingly by tying it into his strengths: he might not be good with people but he is good with property, so it makes sense for him to get insight into his employees through their homes. The entire drama has been drawing parallels between people and buildings, so it tied in nicely. Plus, although it’s a cliche, when giving a gift it’s the thought that counts and I do think that the team were as pleased by Ja-sung’s efforts and attention as by the gifts themselves. And if a home is a reflection of its owner, it’s very telling that Ja-sung’s apartment was formerly empty but is now decorated with things chosen by Young-won — his priority is her happiness and comfort, and both his heart and his home are full of her.
I actually really like Ja-sung’s single-mindedness as a character trait; he either gives all of his attention or the absolute minimum, nothing in between. It’s both a strength and a flaw, as we saw in this episode. At the moment his focus seems to have moved from money to Young-won and he’s putting his all into their relationship and making her happy, but I wonder how long that can last. At some point reality is going to intrude and those two priorities are going to conflict — will he choose money and his vow to his parents or Young-won? I think someone who pursues everything so single-mindedly will find it difficult to strike a balance.
Honestly, I didn’t think Ja-sung was being all that unreasonable about moving the meeting up half a day? I mean, he did ask Editor Choi first if they were ready and Editor Choi told him they were, so I wouldn’t blame Ja-sung for not realizing it would be such an inconvenience to everyone — they’d have had to do that preparation work in the afternoon anyway, instead of taking time off for dermatology appointments in the middle of the day (looking at you Eui-joo!). I also think that at the end of the day employees will always moan about their bosses, that’s just life. Young-won will probably just have to get used to it.
It’s interesting that Gyeom is seemingly the only person Ja-sung has (possibly) ever reached out to since his parents died, and that it was because he recognized the passion in him. Ja-sung even goes so far as to compare Gyeom’s love of photography with his own goal of earning money — a high honor indeed — and actually sacrifices some of that money to help him pursue his dream. I think this is in-character for Ja-sung: he recognizes and respects ambition and determination, and although he doesn’t give hand-outs he’ll support people who are trying to strive for something more.
Not happy about that ending though! Noble idiocy is looming on the horizon and I’m bracing myself for frustration. Young-won’s feelings matter, she’s not a prize and Ja-sung can’t just decide by himself to pass her to Gyeom! This is even more annoying than usual, because it’s not that Ja-sung and Gyeom both just had feelings for her, Ja-sung and Young-won were actually already dating, pretty seriously. I don’t think she’s ever even thought of Gyeom romantically! I was hoping Ja-sung’s determination would convince him to fight for Young-won rather than step aside, but it’s beginning to look inevitable — at this stage I think the best we can hope for is that it’ll be over quickly.
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