Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 5
The editorial staff unite against a rival magazine team, and our real estate mogul gets an unwelcome reality check which makes him reassess the way he treats his employees. Meanwhile our editor is tasked with writing an article about her boss and struggles to find anything positive to say, but ends up gaining an insight into his character which causes her to look at him in a new light.
EPISODE 5: “You must live in your home to know it, you must experience a person to know them”
Ja-sung pulls up in front of Young-won’s apartment and is struggling to wake her up gently when a car horn saves him the trouble. She apologizes for falling asleep, but he’s much more understanding now than he was before and they say an awkward goodbye. As she waters her plants, Young-won puzzles over his sudden change of attitude.
Ja-sung congratulates himself on his magnanimity as he gets into bed, thinking about how grateful Young-won must be for his forgiveness, and decides to re-follow her on the home ownership cafe. He’s dumbfounded to find that she’s looking for recommendations for new real estate channels to follow, having just unsubscribed from Ja-sung TV.
Young-won has decided that she can’t face listening to Ja-sung lecturing and nagging her about her lack of real estate knowledge at work and at home, but just shrugs it off as something personal when Dragon asks why she unsubscribed. Offended, Dragon tells her that Ja-sung is Korea’s top real estate expert but Young-won just replies with a sweatdrop emoticon, baffling and frustrating Ja-sung.
The next day, Young-won asks a convenience store employee if their lunch boxes are still buy one get one free and realizes that Gyeom must have lied to her and bought them with his own money when she’s told that they’ve never been on offer.
Chan drives out to pick up Gyeom, who was left stranded in the countryside by Ja-sung, and finds him moping over what Young-won said to him. Gyeom’s worried that she won’t forgive him for deceiving her, and Chan tries to convince him this is the perfect opportunity to confess his feelings and explain that he lied because he liked her.
Just then Gyeom gets a friendly text from Young-won asking him to call her, and they meet outside the office when he gets back to Seoul. Gyeom apologizes and is about to confess his feelings when Young-won cuts him off to say that she understands he was just trying to help out a coworker. She tells him that it was her fault for making assumptions about his financial situation, and agrees when Gyeom asks if they can continue being convenience store mates.
During an editorial meeting, Ja-sung is bullying Editor Choi into running another inappropriate advert when the marketing team burst into the room with a cake to congratulate Ja-sung, who’s won a magazine award. Editor Choi kicks himself for not knowing and tries to suck up to Ja-sung by suggesting they do a feature on him in their next edition.
Ja-sung thinks it’s a waste of potential advertising space but Choi flatters his ego by convincing him that readers will be more likely to buy properties if they know the magazine is run by a real estate expert like himself. Obviously Young-won gets stuck with writing the article, and Ja-sung threatens to replace her if she doesn’t do a good job.
Young-won’s surprised to find Ja-sung’s upset with her yet again, unable to figure out what she might have done to anger him since they spoke the night before. Eui-joo feels sorry for Young-won, but not sorry enough to write the feature for her.
LEE SOO-JUNG (Lee Jung-eun), the magazine’s resident proofreader, arrives at the office with her suitcase in tow. She’s recently moved to Jeju Island and commutes to Seoul for a few days before each publishing deadline to check over everyone’s writing.
Soo-jung extols the virtues of Jeju to everyone who’ll listen, insisting that she’s never been so relaxed in her life, and tries to persuade Editor Choi he should move out there. He’s almost swayed but Eui-joo interrupts to point out that his wife would never go for it, since she’s obsessed with her daughters’ schooling and Jeju’s educational facilities can’t compete with Seoul’s. Soo-jung scowls at Eui-joo’s interference, and gives her a severe dressing down over the errors in her writing in revenge.
Young-won shadows Ja-sung on a site survey while researching her article, and is mildly impressed to learn how diligent he is when Secretary Hwang explains that Ja-sung goes through a pair of sneakers every 3 months because he checks everything thoroughly himself when investing in new properties.
Pleased, Ja-sung thinks to himself that Young-won will come to understand how great of a real estate expert he is while watching him work and realize that it was a mistake to unsubscribe from his videos.
As they tour a large house, Ja-sung explains to Young-won that it’s in a great up-and-coming area with a lot of start-ups, but rent is high so young people are often priced out. He plans to exploit this gap in the market by turning the property into a shared house for up to 60 young professionals, enabling him to quickly recoup the renovation costs and make a tidy profit.
Ja-sung smugly remarks to his secretary that he must be in awe, having the privilege to watch genius at work everyday, but Young-won isn’t even listening. Her ears quickly perk up when Ja-sung mentions breaking for lunch, but she’s disappointed to learn that he intends for them all to eat separately and pay for their own food.
Soo-jung has switched targets to Sang-soon and is trying to convince him that his girlfriend would love to live on Jeju Island and enjoy the beaches and fresh air when Eui-joo interrupts to remind him that she’s a city girl born and bred and would never be satisfied with a quiet, coastal life. Soo-jung launches into an angry invective of Eui-joo’s writing again, only to be told that she’s actually looking at Sang-soon’s article, at which point she claims that the polluted Seoul air must be confusing her.
Soo-jung excuses herself to make a private call to her realtor, and asks eagerly if he’s managed to find any buyers for her Jeju property yet because she’s desperate to move back to Seoul. She’s just complaining to him that Eui-joo keeps ruining her sales pitch to her colleagues when she turns around to see Editor Choi staring back at her looking shocked, having overheard everything she’s said.
Secretary Hwang and Young-won go for lunch together without Ja-sung, and she complains about how galling it is to witness him buy a massive property and brag about how much of a profit it’ll make him, and then immediately afterwards refuse to buy them lunch. Secretary Hwang defends him, explaining that Ja-sung’s philosophy is to save on minor things and spend on major things.
Thinking of her article, Young-won asks Secretary Hwang if he has any good memories of working with Ja-sung, but he declines to comment. Her building’s security guard, however, has plenty to say about how tight-fisted and rude Ja-sung is, and Young-won begins to despair of writing an article that Ja-sung will approve of when no one she asks has anything good to say about him.
Young-won follows up on some of the video recommendations from the cafe, and is shocked to find that one has 400,000 subscribers compared to Ja-sung’s 40. Imaginary Ja-sung stares at her reproachfully as she observes how nice and supportive the other experts seem in comparison to him, and she soon relents and re-subscribes to Ja-sung TV.
Ja-sung is pleased to read Young-won’s post about how she’s decided to keep following his advice after all, convinced that she changed her mind after witnessing his business prowess earlier that day. Meanwhile, Young-won rolls her eyes at Ja-sung’s condescending attitude as she watches one of his videos, muttering to herself that he’s lucky she believes in loyalty.
Gyeom and Young-won split an ice cream at the convenience store, and she’s touched when he gives her the bigger half. Glancing at the loved-up couples around them, Gyeom faux-casually asks Young-won why she doesn’t have a boyfriend and looks disappointed when she replies that she doesn’t have the time to date.
Young-won asks Gyeom for his opinion of Ja-sung, hoping that he’ll have some positive insight since they’ve known each other for years, but even he says that Ja-sung’s tiresome.
Over drinks, Soo-jung explains to the senior editorial staff that she wants to move back because she doesn’t know anyone on Jeju Island and she’s lonely living by herself. Editor Choi offers to set her up with someone and asks her what kind of man she’s looking for, but everyone decides to call it a night when she starts listing celebs.
The team attend the Magazine Day awards ceremony to support Ja-sung, and are mocked by their rivals Green House magazine for the undignified ads they’ve been running recently. To make things worse Green House win the top award for development of Korean magazine culture, and the staff gloat when their CEO says he owes it all to them.
The Monthly Magazine Home team celebrate wildly to compensate when Ja-sung receives the Best Manager award, and Editor Choi runs onto the stage to present him with a bouquet. After a whispered conversation Ja-sung gives his staff a thumbs up, which they return, and then turns back to the mic to announce that he owes it all to… himself, of course! The team gape disbelievingly at their boss as he says that he’ll take all the credit for his win, and Green House cackle gleefully.
After the ceremony the Monthly Magazine Home staff moan about Ja-sung’s selfishness and ingratitude. Mi-ra points out that he did give them a thumbs up, but everyone’s aghast when Editor Choi gloomily explains that Ja-sung had just been expressing his approval that they’d paid for his flowers with their own money instead of wasting company funds.
Gyeom tries and fails to get Ja-sung to smile for a photo for his article, and Chan observes that he doesn’t think he’s ever seen Ja-sung smile before. Gyeom suggests that Ja-sung take the team out to celebrate since they came to support him and he resigns himself to paying for drinks with more grace than usual, but the staff all refuse his invitation and claim that they have to go to a funeral instead.
Young-won feels guilty for lying to Ja-sung, but the others are still angry about his speech and convinced he’ll ruin the gathering anyway by imposing spending limits again. The Green House team gets into the elevator with the Monthly Magazine Home staff and rub their loss and humiliation in their faces, and Editor Choi texts the team to be ready to run.
He stamps on his rival’s foot as the elevator doors open, but the exit is blocked by a cleaner and the doors close again before they can escape; a mass brawl breaks out in the confined space.
Everyone looks worse for wear by the time they get to the restaurant and they loudly rail at Ja-sung for destroying the magazine’s reputation, causing them to lose face in front of their rivals, being money-hungry, and just generally making their lives miserable. Meanwhile, Ja-sung, Gyeom and Chan are eating in the next room, and hear every word of this character assassination.
Ja-sung storms out and the door of the editorial team’s room opens… to reveal Mi-ra, who tells them she just saw Ja-sung leave. They’re horrified to think that he might have heard what they said about him, but try and convince themselves that he’d definitely have confronted them if that was the case.
Gyeom goes after Ja-sung and catches up with him as he’s about to leave to ask if he’s alright. Ja-sung says it’s natural for employees to complain about their boss behind his back and he doesn’t take it personally, but he looks hurt.
On the cab ride home, Ja-sung keeps thinking about what his staff said about him and tries to convince himself it’s no big deal, but ends up getting angry. He heads to a bookstore to find a guide to firing employees, and picks out a book entitled “Fire People while Clapping”.
Young-won also called by the bookstore on her way home to pick up some books on real estate, per Ja-sung’s advice. As she studies that evening she comes across a line that resonates with her: “You must live in a home to know it,” and thinks to herself that it’s true that the longer she stays in the apartment, the more good things she discovers about it.
Editor Choi arrives in a mad rush the next morning, late because the elevator in his building broke down again, and rather than tell him off, Ja-sung congratulates him on his patience for waiting out the reconstruction and leads the room in a round of applause. Ja-sung tells him that that patience is the reason why he’s been clinging on to the editor-in-chief job for 10 years when anyone else would have moved on by now.
After he’s gone, Editor Choi despairingly says that Ja-sung must have heard what he said yesterday — that compliment about his patience was clearly actually a dig implying that he should quit. Desperate to keep his job, he resolves to show Ja-sung how essential he is to the magazine.
At the bookstore, Ja-sung had actually put “Fire People while Clapping” back and bought “Compliments Can Make a Whale Dance” instead, which advised him that positive reinforcement would improve his employees’ morale and efficiency. As he walks past the meeting room and sees Editor Choi frantically shouting at the staff to work harder, Ja-sung wonders at the effectiveness of one compliment and observes that books really do hold all of life’s answers.
Sang-soon is messaging Eui-joo about whether Ja-sung overheard them or not when the person in question suddenly appears behind him, peering over his shoulder. Panicking, Sang-soon minimizes their conversation to reveal a chat between him and his girlfriend, and then minimizes that window to reveal the housing subscription website, at which point he gives up and hangs his head in shame.
Ja-sung demands everyone applaud Sang-soon for his impressive ability to multi-task and juggle multiple conversations and personal projects while at work — which Sang-soon obviously assumes is meant sarcastically.
Ja-sung then proceeds to applaud Eui-joo for being so focused on her work that she has no time to clean her desk, which is a mess, and both editors throw themselves frantically into their work, terrified of getting fired. Ja-sung watches the productive chaos from his office and congratulates himself on motivating his employees so well.
Gyeom stares at the candid photos of Young-won he took at the awards ceremony, and Chan tells him off for missing his moment to confess and settling for being friends. Gyeom insists it’s not the right moment, thinking unhappily about what Young-won said about not having time for a boyfriend, but Chan warns him that she might find someone else while he’s dithering.
Young-won pays the single mother who got passed over for the interior makeover feature a visit to deliver an apology gift, and is dumbfounded to learn that Ja-sung recently came to see her himself to apologize for cancelling. He’d explained that renovating a rental property would benefit the landlord, not the tenant, and there was a good chance the rent would be hiked up or she’d be kicked out after the work was done anyway.
Instead, Ja-sung had brought her an application form for a single parent housing and support scheme which also offered job training and childcare, which he believed would be of more benefit to her in the long-term. She’d taken one look at it and told him it was too complicated, and he’d reprimanded her for not even bothering to try when it could lead to a better life for her child, insisting that the world only helps those who help themselves.
When she’d excused herself for a moment, she’d heard Ja-sung tell her son that his life would be tough growing up but he’d still have to live the best he could: “I’m the last dragon from the ditch. But I hope you become the next dragon.”
The mother tells Young-won that Ja-sung had spoken coldly to her, but what he said wasn’t wrong and she appreciates that he’d made the effort to come there in person when he didn’t have to. She’s knitted him a pair of gloves as a token of her gratitude, and asks Young-won to pass them on.
Editor Choi, Eui-joo and Sang-soon lie around the office exhausted, and moan that they’d like to ship Ja-sung to Jeju. Soo-jung tells them that Ja-sung would’ve fired them ages ago if he was going to — he’s known all along that they’d all protested vehemently at the prospect of him buying the magazine, and the former CEO advised him to fire them all when he took over but he chose not to.
Eui-joo calls Young-won while she’s working late at the office to fill her in, and tells her that they’ve all decided that Ja-sung must not have heard them bad-mouth him after all, because he definitely would have lost his temper and confronted them if he had.
Young-won puts the handmade gloves on Ja-sung’s desk and notices “Compliments Can Make a Whale Dance”. When she’d asked Gyeom about Ja-sung, he’d told her that Ja-sung was tiresome because he seemed cold-hearted, but he was actually warm-hearted and sensitive on the inside. Young-won hadn’t believed it at the time, but now she’s beginning to.
While he’s working out at the gym, Ja-sung gets a message from Young-won to say the first draft of the article is ready and he takes a break to read through it. He’s pleased to see that she’s mentioned his sharp eye for real estate, and notes approvingly that he can tell she’s been studying.
He’s baffled by the second half of the feature though, in which Young-won has written that just like a house, there’s more to Ja-sung than meets the eye. Like the property they went to see together, which she saw as a family home and he re-imagined as a sharehouse, Ja-sung might seem cold at first glance but actually has a warmth inside him that embraces others.
Ja-sung calls Young-won to compliment her on her diligent studying, but tells her that she didn’t need to try and suck up to him with all that false flattery. Before he can continue she cuts him off to say that what she wrote was true — he’s a good person and she wanted to compliment him for that.
Ja-sung is left speechless, and Young-won’s words keep resounding through his mind after she hangs up. A smile gradually lights up his face.
An exuberant Ja-sung dances along to the aerobics class choreography as a bubblegum K-pop song plays — he’s in the zone but comes to an abrupt halt when he turns around and notices he has an audience. Shocked and embarrassed, he asks his reflection if he’s really become a dancing whale after just one compliment from Young-won.
Personally, I think this episode was the best so far — it feels as though the drama is finally hitting its stride. It was far more com than rom, but had some genuinely funny setpieces — in particular, I really enjoyed both the epic elevator fight and Ja-sung unintentionally terrorizing his staff with compliments. Honestly I think Kim Ji-suk might be the reason for the change — I’m not saying he can’t play serious characters, because he definitely can, but I’m not sure that cold, stoic and intimidating really suited him. Now he’s leaning into his comedic strengths and seems to be having a lot of fun with the absurdities of Ja-sung’s character — a lot of his facial expressions this episode were not ones we traditionally see on male leads!
Young-won was a little overshadowed by the stronger characters in this episode, although she had some good comic reactions in the group scenes and the calmer glimpses of her at home in the evenings helped to balance the more chaotic tone of the office. Kim Ji-suk, Kim Won-hae and Lee Jung-eun gave really strong performances and stole the show this episode, and I think that’s a big part of why it was so fun and seemed to flow so well. It is perhaps a little concerning that what I consider to be the best episode yet featured so little of our female lead, her savings goal, or any romance though, given that that’s what this drama is supposed to be about; I hope they can keep this momentum when we return to those themes.
Young-won forgave Gyeom very quickly — I was expecting them both to agonize a bit more before that conflict was resolved. Young-won seems very quick to forgive, which is both a strength and a weakness. I’m glad she decided to give Gyeom the benefit of the doubt, because he really didn’t mean any harm, but she’s also been way too easy on Ja-sung and I felt needed to stand up for herself a little more and demand some respect. The ice cream scene between Gyeom and Young-won was very cute — she’s had a hard life and deserves to be spoiled a little bit, and I loved how pleased he was to have made her smile. Gyeom is very sweet, so it’s a shame that I don’t find him terribly interesting; it’s an interesting contrast with Ja-sung, who’s often infuriating but rarely boring. In real life I’d be rooting for Gyeom, but this is a drama and I’m here to be entertained!
A small nitpick: if they were going to have an episode full of Parasite references, why didn’t they pick the one that Lee Jung-eun was in?!
Introducing a rival magazine was a great idea, because it really helped to unify the disparate members of the editorial team. Previously we’ve seen a lot of bickering and in-fighting between them, so it was great to see them pull together in the face of a common enemy (even if they did come off the worst), and Soo-jung’s arrival also gave a sense of the history they have together. Young-won really seems like part of the team now, but Ja-sung is still very much on the outside. That’s partly inevitable since he’s their boss (and he really isn’t trying very hard to ingratiate himself with them) but I think that the hurt and betrayal he felt when he heard them bad-mouthing him implies that he considered himself one of them.
I’m not sure if Ja-sung doesn’t care that other people don’t like him or if he has such a high opinion of himself that it genuinely hasn’t occurred to him that not everyone might feel the same way, but he did seem blind-sided by their vitriol. He was clearly surprised by how much their words hurt him, and I think that shows that his reaction was about more than just the damage to his fragile ego — he’s come to actually value the good opinions of his staff. It’s also interesting that he managed to override his first instinct to punish them.
Ja-sung has seemed pretty emotionally stunted in his interactions with Young-won so far, lashing out at her when she upsets him, so I was pleasantly surprised that he actually chose to reflect on their criticism and make a conscious effort to try and improve himself instead — it shows an emotional maturity which I hadn’t thought Ja-sung was capable of. The real question is: did he make that choice because he wants his staff to like and respect him, or is he still just focused on making them as productive as possible and has now decided to try the carrot rather than the stick? I’m hoping for the former, and that reaction to one compliment from Young-won seems promising!
Like Young-won, we got a glimpse into the warmth inside Ja-sung’s cold exterior in this episode although I’m hesitant to make any assumptions about whether Ja-sung’s growing as a person, because I thought he was showing signs of improvement during episode 3 and then he immediately ruined it with petty backsliding. Today we learned that although Ja-sung doesn’t believe in giving people hand-outs, he will provide them with the tools they need to help themselves.
I very much liked that Ja-sung told that kid that he hoped he would be the next dragon from the ditch — Ja-sung clawed his way out of poverty but he hasn’t pulled the ladder up behind himself. We already knew that Young-won’s situation had caught his attention because it reminded him of his own, and he supports her own efforts to save and improve her life. Ja-sung respects and helps those who help themselves, and this is perfectly illustrated by the way that although he charges Young-won rent, he gave her an opportunity to pick herself up off the ground by letting her rent his apartment without putting down a safety deposit. I also suspect Ja-sung’s miserly, penny-pinching ways aren’t just signs of his greed but a holdover from the days when he genuinely had to be careful with every cent he had. He couldn’t afford to be generous back then, and I just don’t think it’s occurred to him to change that mindset now that he has plenty of money.
- Premiere Watch: At a Distance Spring Is Green, Monthly Magazine Home, Hospital Playlist 2, Nevertheless, Voice 4
- Boiled pork and falling books bring Kim Ji-suk and Jung So-min together in Monthly Magazine Home
- Jung So-min, Kim Ji-suk showcase their homes in Monthly Magazine Home
- Jung So-min and Kim Ji-suk confirmed for new JTBC housing drama