Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 7
Everyone’s busy this week as the magazine holds its annual charity bazaar, and some missing money becomes a source of conflict for two members of the editorial team. Just when it’s starting to look as though romance may be blooming between our leads, our real estate tycoon is brought crashing back to reality by a painful reminder from his past.
EPISODE 7: “He lives in an empty house”
Young-won and Ja-sung wake up in the same bed and stare wide-eyed at each other. Ja-sung flings himself out of it and frantically tells her not to misunderstand – she was coughing and feverish last night and he accidentally nodded off in her bed after spending the night nursing her.
Ja-sung checks she’s feeling better now — not because he’s concerned of course, but because it might inconvenience him if she’s sick — before leaving in a hurry, looking like he’s kicking himself. Young-won notices a folded towel on the bed which Ja-sung had used to wipe her brow, and smiles softly to herself.
On his way to the building’s gym, Ja-sung tells Young-won that the passcode for the front door is 0000, pointing out that there’s nothing to steal even if someone did break in. Young-won asks why the apartment is so empty and Ja-sung informs her that that’s how he lives his life, before warning her to mind her own business.
Ja-sung has to let Young-won back into the building after a trip to the convenience store to pick up instant ramen — she wanted to make him breakfast to thank him for taking her in, but there’s no food or cooking equipment in the kitchen. Unimpressed by the gesture, Ja-sung takes Young-won to an extensive residents’ breakfast bar to eat instead.
Afterwards, he gives Young-won a tour of the building’s impressive leisure facilities and invites her to make use of them while she’s there because the experience will help her write. In return, Ja-sung asks her not to tell anyone else she’s staying with him, so as not to create any misunderstandings.
Sang-soon excitedly asks Eui-joo how her blind date went as soon as he gets to the office, but she’s angry because Sang-soon’s friend rejected her almost immediately. At first he’s surprised that his friend could be so rude, but it turns out that Eui-joo had started the conversation with a slew of questions about the guy’s financial situation and Sang-soon tells her that it’s no surprise someone so materialistic got rejected.
The magazine will be holding their annual charity bazaar soon, and Ja-sung joins the editorial team for lunch to discuss it. Everyone orders the soft tofu stew on Editor Choi’s recommendation, apart from Young-won and Ja-sung who both say they had it for breakfast and Editor Choi remarks on the coincidence.
Worried that the staff will catch on to their secret, Ja-sung massively over-reacts and insists that it’s not a coincidence at all since thousands of Koreans must have eaten soft tofu stew. Editor Choi is forced to apologize when Ja-sung angrily asks him if he’s trying to imply that he and Young-won ate breakfast together, and everyone else stares at him stunned.
Sang-soon asks Ja-sung if he’d be willing to offer real estate consultations at the bazaar and Ja-sung grudgingly agrees, although he’s unhappy at the thought of giving away his valuable knowledge for free.
Editor Choi, sitting between Young-won and Ja-sung, smells the same shampoo on both of them and says that it’s a coincidence that they both use the brand, leading Ja-sung to blow up at him again defensively. As Young-won desperately tries to silently communicate to him to be cool, Ja-sung indignantly asks Editor Choi if he’s trying to suggest that he and Young-won live together.
Editor Choi stammers out an apology before Ja-sung stalks off in a huff, leaving the rest of the staff bewildered. Joo-hee remarks that if they didn’t know any better they’d think Ja-sung and Young-won really were living together and everyone laughs at the absurdity of it, as Young-won keeps her head down.
Young-won gets a message from Ja-sung to meet him outside and finds him hiding behind a stack of boxes. He hisses at her that she’s lucky he’s managed to cover for her mistakes with his quick wit and superb crisis-handling skills and Young-won promises to be more careful, smiling fondly at Ja-sung as she watches him sneak away, looking around furtively.
Eui-joo arrives at the office with bulging bags of clothes to donate to the bazaar, many of which are designer brands only worn once. She refuses to let Sang-soon buy a jacket for his girlfriend, still in a bad mood with him from earlier, but after he apologizes sincerely she relents enough to let him have it for 100,000 won — 20,000 won more than she was planning to ask for it.
Later that evening, Sang-soon is admiring the jacket as he sits in his car waiting to pick his girlfriend up and a wad of bills falls out of it. He tuts at Eui-joo for being so careless, and pockets the cash to return to her the next day.
Young-won is debating whether or not to message Ja-sung and let him know that she’s working late when she gets a text informing her that he’s changed the passcode for the apartment door to a complicated 16-digit number. On her way home she sees a notice in the building’s elevator about a series of recent break-ins when women were home alone — the culprit has been caught but residents are being advised to change their door codes to something more secure, and Young-won is touched by the thought that Ja-sung was worried about her safety.
In his study, Ja-sung is wondering where Young-won is as he flips restlessly through a book, unable to concentrate. Worried that something might have happened to her, he’s just pulling on his coat to go out and look for her when he hears the sound of the door lock and rushes back to his room.
Young-won struggles to enter the new passcode due to its length, and Ja-sung eventually takes pity and lets her in. She apologizes and tells him that such a long code is hard to remember, and her eyes glaze over as Ja-sung explains that it’s easy: it’s just the lot area and building area converted to pyeong and then entered sequentially backwards.
Ja-sung tells Young-won that he decided to change the passcode to something more secure because he remembered he has very valuable real estate information in his office, and for no other reason, before excusing himself. Smiling to herself, Young-won says softly that she didn’t ask.
Young-won lies in bed watching another of Ja-sung’s videos, in which he talks about how love and dating can have an adverse effect on spending habits, but spends most of it thinking about the thoughtful things Ja-sung’s done for her lately. Suddenly realizing that the video has ended and she doesn’t remember any of it, Young-won tells herself sternly to stop thinking about Ja-sung.
Young-won posts to the online cafe that she’s living in a different place for a little while, and gets a response from Dragon hoping that she gets some rest wherever she is. She sends a DM to Dragon inviting him to the Monthly Magazine Home charity bazaar but he says he already has plans, and both Young-won and Ja-sung smile softly to themselves as they agree to meet some other time.
Sang-soon tries to return Eui-joo’s money the next morning, but she mistakenly believes he’s still trying to barter for a discount on the jacket and leaves after telling him she won’t budge. Realizing that Eui-joo hasn’t noticed the money is missing, Sang-soon convinces himself that he can keep it, rationalising that if the jacket had been sold at the bazaar she would’ve lost the cash anyway.
Young-won sends Ja-sung a message asking him to eat dinner at home that evening, because she’d like to cook him a meal as thanks for letting her stay. Ja-sung complains to himself about how bothersome she is, but a massive grin appears on his face which causes Secretary Hwang to stare at him wide-eyed.
Eui-joo is unexpectedly free that evening and wants to spend it with Young-won, offering to buy dinner for her and the friend she’s staying with. Young-won has to come up with a series of increasingly convoluted excuses about going to visit her mom in the suburbs instead, but eventually convinces Eui-joo not to tag along.
Eui-joo receives a spam email from the plastic surgeon who rejected her, and complains to Sang-soon about his friend’s bad manners. Sang-soon is about to defend him but, remembering the jacket money, condemns him instead, going so far as to pretend to call the guy and tell him off for treating Eui-joo so badly (unfortunately his charade is revealed when his phone rings for real mid-tirade).
Eui-joo admits it made her feel better even if it was an act, but is suspicious of the reason why Sang-soon is suddenly being nice to her and taking her side. Young-won guesses that he’s just grateful because his girlfriend was so pleased with the jacket, and Sang-soon goes along with it.
The editorial team admire the donations they’ve received for the bazaar, particularly a designer bag expected to go for over 2 million won, which Eui-joo has already called dibs on. Sang-soon was considering getting it for his girlfriend but backs down when he thinks about Eui-joo’s missing cash, and the others remark that he really must be grateful to her for the saving he made on that jacket.
As Gyeom photographs each donation individually, he overhears Eui-joo trying to persuade Young-won to splurge on the designer bag at the auction. She refuses, but both Gyeom and Chan look thoughtful as they watch her admire it.
Eui-joo agrees to go for drinks with Editor Choi after work and he immediately tries to persuade her to pay. Overhearing this, Sang-soon chimes in to shame his greediness, telling Editor Choi he should be the one buying drinks for Eui-joo, a gem “more dazzling than a diamond”, who’s donated so generously to their charity bazaar. Editor Choi defensively agrees to pay and Sang-soon leaves happy, leaving Eui-joo bewildered.
Gyeom is waiting outside to give Young-won a ride to her mom’s, having heard about her plans from Eui-joo, and unfortunately won’t take no for an answer. She manages to convince him to drive her to the bus terminal instead and they argue politely back and forth about whether he’ll just drop her off or park and wait until she gets on the bus, until Young-won explodes at him in frustration. Gyeom’s shocked but she manages to cover for her outburst by telling him she just didn’t want to inconvenience him.
Young-won’s hiding inside the bus terminal waiting for Gyeom to leave when she realizes she left her bag in his car — and turns around to see him standing there holding it. She then tries to say that she needs to go and buy a ticket, but unfortunately Gyeom is two steps ahead and has already bought one online, and Young-won runs out of objections.
Young-won texts Ja-sung to say she’ll be late, and he complains about her wasting his valuable time but his smile betrays him again. He’s stopped to pick up a cake and a bottle of champagne on his way home, to surprise Young-won.
Gyeom walks Young-won all the way to the bus and she has no alternative but to get on, waving at him with a strained smile on her face as it pulls away. As soon as they’re out of sight she asks the driver to let her off, but he refuses as it’s against the rules to make an unscheduled stop.
Young-won unhappily calls Ja-sung to apologize and let him know that she won’t be able to make it, and he casually tells her that he was about to cancel anyway as something urgent had come up. He hangs up and looks dejectedly at the cake and champagne on the kitchen counter.
Sang-soon is working late at the office when he gets a message from his girlfriend saying she loves the jacket and telling him to be nice to Eui-joo. Deciding to do the right thing and return the money, he puts the cash in Eui-joo’s desk drawer as he leaves.
Ja-sung paces the apartment while he waits for Young-won to get back and begins to type a message asking if she’s alright, but is interrupted by a reminder popping up on his screen — “November 13th 1994”. He stares at it stunned for a moment before his expression darkens, and he abandons the message to Young-won before dumping the cake and champagne in the trash.
Eui-joo’s storms into the office the next morning to confront Sang-soon, after learning about the money in the jacket from her dry cleaners. She realizes now that that was why he was so nice to her yesterday, and the other staff members look at Sang-soon in disgust as Editor Choi tells him he should be ashamed of himself.
Eui-joo demands her money back and Sang-soon tells her that he already put it in her desk the day before, but when he goes to show her the drawer is empty. Shocked, he insists that he left it there but Eui-joo and the rest of the team don’t believe him. They have to postpone their argument when their ride to the bazaar arrives, but Eui-joo demands he return the money by the end of the day — and Editor Choi adds that he wants the money he paid for drinks back too.
The bazaar is a hive of activity as people bustle about setting things up. Young-won is in charge of the Flea Market, the most difficult booth, and Editor Choi offers her a 100,000 won gift card as an incentive to do better than the previous year. Sang-soon says he’d have taken it on if he’d known he could win a giftcard, but leaves in a huff when Eui-joo snipes that he’d probably have just stolen it anyway.
Eui-joo tells Young-won she’ll try and help her win the gift card so she can buy herself a new bag, but Young-won plans to use it to buy a gift for the friend she’s staying with instead. She works hard to attract customers and makes the flea market one of the busiest booths, already musing over what she might buy for Ja-sung’s apartment.
Meanwhile, Ja-sung has a long queue for his consultations but his characteristically harsh and condescending advice means that few customers leave happy. Gyeom winces as he watches yet another person storm off angrily, and on Ja-sung’s next break he brings him coffee and suggests that he try and be a little more tactful.
Ja-sung says that he’s just being direct, and when Gyeom asks if he’d speak that harshly to his girlfriend he replies that he’d never make the mistake of having one. Gyeom says that he never knew he could like someone as much as he does now as he stares dreamily at Young-won, but Ja-sung insists he’s different.
The staff have realized that a troll is flooding the magazine’s bazaar posts with malicious comments about Ja-sung and his harsh consultations. Young-won is worried he’ll be hurt if he sees them, but the others are more concerned that he’ll take his anger out on them for suggesting he give consultations in the first place, and Editor Choi orders the comments be deleted.
Frustrated, Young-won looks around the room and wonders who wrote those messages, muttering to herself that they don’t know the real Ja-sung. Meanwhile, Ja-sung has to cut the consultations short and leave due to urgent business elsewhere, but promises Editor Choi that he’ll be back in time for the auction.
Joo-hee tells the others that the malicious comments aren’t just appearing on the magazine’s posts now, but on other people’s posts about the bazaar as well. The troll has posted a photo of a handwritten sign as proof they’re actually in attendance, and Joo-hee and Mi-ra come up with some fanciful ideas about how they could use it to find the culprit’s identity but Editor Choi shoots them down immediately.
Young-won sees the photo and rushes to dig through the trash, remembering seeing it earlier when a guy with a tiger on his jacket threw it at her as she was sweeping up. Sure enough the note matches, and Young-won tracks the troll down and demands he delete his comments.
The troll takes off and Young-won goes after him, leading to a frantic chase through the bazaar. The guy leapfrogs Chan, who’s crouched on the floor, but Young-won gets stuck when she tries to do the same and ends up seated on his shoulders. The two go crashing to the floor in a heap and it looks like the troll will get away, but Gyeom saves the day by sending a clothing rail careening into him.
Editor Choi ends up giving Young-won the 100,000 won gift card as a reward for catching the troll, and she clutches it triumphantly as she thinks carefully about what gift to get Ja-sung. Meanwhile, Sang-soon tells Editor Choi and Eui-joo that Ja-sung will be back soon, having heard from Secretary Hwang that he went to personally evict a tenant who was refusing to leave one of his rental properties
Editor Choi’s annoyed that Ja-sung ditched his charity booth for such a trivial and greedy reason, and the three of them all agree that it’s no wonder he got all those malicious comments. Ja-sung, standing on the other side of the tent, hears every word.
The auction begins and bidding is fierce for the designer bag. Offended at being called a petty thief, Sang-soon joins Eui-joo in the bidding war and she’s outraged at the thought that he’s spending the money he stole off her.
Their argument is interrupted when Chan thrusts Gyeom’s hand into the air, telling him to give the bag to the person he likes and tell her how he feels. However Gyeom gets embarrassed and backs down, telling the others that Chan was just joking before leaving the room in a hurry.
There’s a moment of silence and Chan begins to panic that he’ll actually win the bag and have to pay for it himself, but fortunately Sang-soon and Eui-joo launch themselves back into the fight and the price quickly escalates as they snipe at one another. Just then a strange man bids 1 million won, almost twice the previous highest bid, and the audience turns to look at him, stunned.
As they’re unloading the van back at the office that evening, Eui-joo demands her money from Sang-soon immediately and Editor chimes in to say that he’s still expecting a refund for the money he spent on drinks too.
Sang-soon is hurt that Editor Choi doesn’t believe he didn’t steal the money either, and Editor Choi tells him that he’s just as greedy for money as Ja-sung, except worse, because at least Ja-sung is upfront about it. Alone in the parking lot, Sang-soon curses to himself at the unfairness of it all.
Inside the office, Eui-joo is gratified to get a notification that Sang-soon has deposited 300,000 won into her bank account. Her desk drawer is stuck when she goes to open it, and after wrenching it free she’s horrified to find that the envelope of money Sang-soon had left her had fallen down the back.
Dismayed, Editor Choi tells her off for labelling someone a thief without checking properly first, and she points out that he did the same thing. She hides the envelope behind her back when Sang-soon stalks in and demands to know if she saw the 300,000 won he wired her. He insists that it’s in no way an admission of guilt, but he can’t stand to be thought of as a thief.
Editor Choi and Eui-jo exchange desperate glances and come to a silent agreement to keep their mouths shut. Eui-joo guiltily offers to buy Sang-soon dinner as a gesture of reconciliation, and he sullenly tells her that he’s going to eat 300,000 won of Korean beef.
When Ja-sung arrives home he finds Young-won in the empty lounge, carefully positioning her gift to him — a potted plant which she finally settled on after much deliberation. Ja-sung glances at the bandage on her wrist which covers a scrape she got while chasing the troll, and tells her that he heard what happened.
Concerned that he might have been hurt by the malicious comments, Young-won quickly reassures Ja-sung that the troll didn’t really know him — but Ja-sung cuts her off to tell her that she doesn’t really know him either.
The comments were correct: money really is all he cares about and he doesn’t need Young-won interfering in his life — he’ll move out of the apartment when it sells the way he always does, and that plant will be nothing but a burden to move. He orders Young-won to get rid of it and stalks off, leaving her staring after him with red-rimmed eyes.
Ja-sung yanks his tie off savagely as he walks into his room, and gets a text from Young-won apologizing for crossing the line and telling him that she’s going to spend the night at her mom’s. Ja-sung looks unhappy but tells himself to forget about it and focus on his goal. Meanwhile, Young-won sits alone at the bus terminal, asking herself tearfully why she doesn’t feel angry at Ja-sung, just hurt and sad.
Young-won and her mom drink rice wine as the rain pours down outside, and Young-won says it reminds her of her dad. He left 10 years ago after claiming that he was going out to earn money for the family, and her mom is still angry with him for abandoning them.
Mom guesses something’s wrong, because Young-won only comes home when she’s upset. Young-won doesn’t confide her problems but says that it’s a great comfort to her to know that she always has somewhere to return to, and that her mom will always be waiting with open arms. Mom feels guilty for always asking her daughter for money and being a burden to her, but Young-won tells her not to worry about it.
Gyeom calls Young-won and asks to meet but hides his disappointment when she says she’s at her mom’s, not mentioning the bag of medical supplies he’d already bought to treat her injured wrist.
Gyeom’s worried about Ja-sung, who isn’t picking up his phone, concerned that he might have found out about the malicious comments. Young-won informs him that Ja-sung did find out but didn’t seem particularly bothered by them, telling her that they were all true anyway, and Gyeom says that that reaction just worries him more.
When Ja-sung was a kid, his parents had been very poor and the family had lived in a van, although they always promised him that they’d have a house one day. Ja-sung was the only survivor of the car accident which killed his parents, and afterwards he’d stood in front of their urns and vowed to become rich. In the present day, adult Ja-sung stands in the same place and reassures his parents that he won’t forget that promise.
Gyeom tells Young-won that today is the anniversary of Ja-sung’s parents’ deaths, and as she lays down beside her mom to sleep Young-won’s voiceover tells us that although you may need to sacrifice personal feelings in pursuit of your goal, sometimes you yearn for warmth and comfort when things get hard.
Young-won’s mom rolls over in her sleep to embrace Young-won, while Ja-sung sits alone at a bar before heading out into the pouring rain. Young-won’s narration continues, explaining that although some people endure everything alone, they may just be ignoring their exhaustion.
Ja-sung gets back to the darkened, empty apartment and sighs, looking bone-tired, but then a light turns on and Young-won steps out of her room to greet him, smiling gently. Ja-sung stares at her for a moment before staggering over and half-collapsing in her arms, and as she pats his back comfortingly Young-won’s voiceover says that today she’d like to extend warmth to that person and welcome them home.
I’m not a big fan of the red herring cliffhangers at the end of episodes. There are often big implications for the characters (remember that dream kiss?) which the writers then immediately undo at the beginning of the next episode by concocting some kind of contrived excuse — Young-won showed no sign of illness before or after Ja-sung ended up sleeping in her bed after nursing her. It feels manipulative to me, and I’d prefer a less interesting but honest ending over something exciting but misleading. It also means that I’m hesitant to trust episode endings now, but I really hope this one isn’t retconned because I think it signifies a really important step forward for Ja-sung and it would be a shame if whatever happens next cheapens or retcons that.
Google tells me that it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get from Seoul to Chuncheon via public transport, so it was at least a 3 and a half hour round trip for Young-won to go back to meet Ja-sung — now that’s devotion! All we’ve learned about Young-won’s mom so far is that she regularly asks her daughter for money, so I was honestly expecting her to be a much flakier and more selfish person. In reality, she’s just a woman struggling to keep her head above water, who loves her daughter very much and feels guilty that she’s sometimes forced to rely on her financially to survive. It was easier to think that Young-won should draw a line and stop giving her mom money when she was just a name on a phone screen, but now that we’ve met her Young-won’s dilemma has become much more nuanced.
I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly interested in the subplot involving Sang-soon and Eui-joo in this episode. The bits and pieces we’ve learned about their and Editor Choi’s personal lives have given a lot of depth to their characters which I’d be happy to see explored in more detail, but the money subplot seemed shallow in comparison — it took up a sizeable chunk of this episode and wasn’t entertaining enough to warrant that amount of screentime. I don’t think it gave us any particular insight into their characters and I’m not sure what we were supposed to take away from it: “Honesty is the best policy”? But Eui-joo and Editor Choi lied to Sang-soon when they found the envelope. “Make very sure you’re right before making accusations”? Or maybe “It’s not the truth but what people believe is true that matters”? I was also surprised that the troll at the bazaar seemed to be just a random spiteful guy with too much time on his hands — probably accurate for most trolls, but after those ominous death threats Ja-sung has been receiving I was expecting it to be something more sinister.
I really hope there’s more to Ja-sung’s backstory than that, because at the moment I don’t really see the connection between his parents’ deaths and his vow to them to get rich. Although the family was obviously very poor and his mom clearly wished that she could provide a better life for her son, Ja-sung seemed loved and well-cared-for, and not noticeably unhappy with their situation in life. At this point my best guess is that the car accident was caused by someone wealthy enough to avoid the consequences of their crime, and that’s what drove Ja-sung to become obsessed with money. I wonder if he has some greater purpose in mind for that money, some form of justice or revenge, or whether he’s simply accumulating as much wealth as he can? Was he angry that someone was able to get away with destroying his family simply because they had enough money to buy their way out, or did it open his eyes to the power of wealth in this world, and leave him craving that kind of power?
I think that Ja-sung has been alone for a very long time, both through circumstance and through choice. He’s devoted his life to the pursuit of money, and that has led him to cast aside anything he sees as a potential distraction from that goal, so when he realizes how close he’s allowed Young-won to get he instinctively pushes her away. Secretary Hwang suggested to him that he might be more comfortable if he had some furniture in his empty home and Ja-sung replied that he needed to be uncomfortable to make money. Ja-sung associates comfort with weakness, and is determined not to relax or let his guard down in any way. Young-won’s observation that sometimes people manage to endure alone by refusing to acknowledge their exhaustion rings very true, because it certainly seems as though Ja-sung is afraid that if he stops moving forward for a single moment then he might not be able to start again.
No man is an island, and Ja-sung is no exception — I’m so glad that Young-won was able to recognize that and be there for him when he inevitably hit his limit. In the first episode Young-won told us that to her, home was her refuge from the rest of the world, a place where she could relax and be comforted, and this episode she tells her mom how comforting is to always know that she has a place she can return to when things are hard, and someone waiting to welcome her. Ja-sung has lived in a lot of houses, but he hasn’t had a real home since his parents died, where he can feel safe and loved. Young-won is offering to be that for him, and the relief on his face as he sags into her arms, trusting her to hold him up, is powerful.
- 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