Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 15
Love is in the air – and everywhere. But it’s not all sunshine and roses for either of our new couples, as they tiptoe around the truth and try to hide their relationships from everyone else. Mistakes are made, apologies are offered, and all kinds of secrets start to come out one by one.
EPISODE 15: “Building a house, building love.”
After reconciling, Ja-sung drives Young-won home. She watches as the speedometer needle gets slower and slower, and finally asks, “Is there something wrong with your car?” He smiles sheepishly and says he’s driving slowly because he wants to spend more time together. But once they decide to have drinks at her place, he presses down hard on the gas pedal.
While she gets the snacks ready, he looks at the books on her coffee table. The first one he picks up is a real estate book, which makes him smile proudly. Then he notices one titled “He Is My Flower” and opens it. The passage he reads begins, “I like that my life revolves around you.” That pleases him so much, he goes to backhug Young-won while she’s cooking. At work the next day, he leaves an “I love you” sticky note on her desk and they exchange smiles and hugs whenever they’re alone.
Ja-sung: “I like that my life revolves around you. I like that my life is wasted on you. I hope everyone in the world will give up on you. Then I’ll be the only one holding you.”
The sequence ends with the two of them lying together on Young-won’s bed, kissing over and over.
Young-won presents her next article idea: interviewing people who have built their own houses. Editor Choi steps out of the meeting to take a phone call, and as they wait for him to return, Ja-sung grabs Young-won’s hand under the table. She nervously tries to act natural. Outside the room, Editor Choi accidentally drops his phone. He crouches down to pick it up, glances through the floor-length window, and gets a perfect view of their hands. Then, after the meeting, he sees Ja-sung shoot Young-won finger hearts behind his back. Each time, he gawks in horror.
Later, he confronts Ja-sung with the fact that he saw a couple being touchy-feely during the meeting. Ja-sung stammers that it’s inappropriate at work, but also hard to control. Editor Choi is ecstatic that Ja-sung saw “it” too – that is, Sang-soon and Eui-joo playing footsie under the table. Hahaha that explains his scandalized look.
And while Ja-sung was shooting finger hearts, the other two were caressing each other’s fingers on their way out the door. Editor Choi says that he’s known about this for a few days now, but what he saw in the meeting was too much to handle. Ja-sung tries to say that coworkers dating is fine as long as they do their jobs, but Editor Choi isn’t having it.
Sang-soon smiles to himself as he recalls the other night: after he’d consoled Eui-joo, he’d accompanied her to her apartment and helped her into bed. As he turned to go, she’d taken his hand and asked, “Can’t you stay? Just for today, can you stay by my side?” He’d said no and let go of her hand, but then grabbed it again, saying, “Not just today – I want to stay by your side every day. You… really are bad for my heart.” Now, he grins and asks himself if this is real. She pops around the corner to confirm it is.
Editor Choi yells at them when they return to their desks, wanting to know where they’ve been. Not believing a word of their excuse, he calls for everyone’s attention and warns them to keep any relationships secret. He gives the example of a former pair of coworkers whose breakup turned the office from a “party house” to a “funeral home.” Young-won timidly suggests that coworkers dating might not always end badly, which Editor Choi concedes – but only if the couple keeps things professional and discrete. He ends the tirade with, “right, Yeo Eui-joo and Nam Sang-soon?” making them both sputter that they’d never do such a thing. He vows to watch them like a hawk.
Young-won delivers her article plans to Ja-sung, and worriedly tells him about Editor Choi’s speech, thinking he’s onto them. He informs her about Eui-joo and Sang-soon, and they agree that they need to be more careful regardless.
At lunch, Sang-soon serves pizza to the team. He uses the same bluff Ja-sung did before: heaping compliments on each person and then “forgetting” to give Eui-joo a slice and ultimately giving her the largest one. Editor Choi calls him out on it, and Sang-soon provokes an argument from Eui-joo to prove they aren’t compatible. On the way out of the restaurant, Editor Choi watches Sang-soon intentionally bump into Eui-joo’s shoulder and tsks to Ja-sung that they’re spending more time trying not to get caught than they are thinking about work. Ja-sung thinks that’s a bit harsh, and Editor Choi asks suspiciously if he has someone at the office that he likes – or is already dating. Ja-sung emphatically denies it, and Editor Choi agrees that it wouldn’t make sense.
Chan asks Gyeom if he’s really okay with Ja-sung and Young-won being together. Gyeom says he’s sincerely happy for them, since they’re so happy, to which Chan calls him Buddha. When Gyeom gets a text from Mi-ra asking him to dinner, he invites Chan to come along, but Chan blusters that he doesn’t want to be around her. He threatens to end their friendship if Gyeom ever dates her, and storms out, leaving Gyeom utterly confused.
Eui-joo and Sang-soon steal more time alone, and she admits his acting was so good she almost hit him. He laughs that there’s no way they’ll be found out… but Editor Choi reveals himself and Ja-sung listening in. He reprimands them in front of everyone, and makes them repeat after him like he’s their drill sergeant: “From today on, we’ll never show that we’re dating! We’ll focus on work!” He waves Ja-sung away every time he tries to intervene, and tells the couple that both he and Ja-sung will be watching. Young-won does her best to act innocent.
Later, Young-won congratulates Eui-joo on the relationship. Eui-joo apologizes for not telling her, explaining that she didn’t want to make her feel worse after breaking up with Ja-sung. Young-won starts to say they’re back together, but Eui-joo assumes she’s trying to say she’s glad they broke up before they were caught by Editor Choi.
Young-won and the photography team head out to an interview for Young-won’s article. The house is tall and narrow, with bookshelves lining the staircases. The owner tells Young-won that when she came to Seoul, she didn’t have money to buy an apartment, but that building a unique house was possible with only a deposit and a small loan. She says it’s something really anyone can do. As they take pictures of the house, Gyeom catches Young-won getting lost in thought. She explains that her previous landlady took off with her deposit, so building a house like this is impossible for her. Gyeom’s face darkens.
Ja-sung makes dinner reservations for himself and Young-won, but accidentally sends the voucher to print, where Editor Choi picks it up. Editor Choi assumes this was Sang-soon’s doing, and Sang-soon suggests they compare the credit card number with his to prove it wasn’t. Ja-sung quickly tells them to get back to work. When Editor Choi offers to throw out the printed reservation, Ja-sung says he’ll use it for scrap paper and runs back into his office.
At lunchtime, Young-won recognizes another patron in the restaurant. The woman claims not to know her, but then bolts out the door. Young-won chases her down alleyways until the woman collides with a group of bicyclists and crashes to the ground. She’s Young-won’s former landlady, and asserts that she isn’t obligated to return Young-won’s deposit because she lost the building in an auction. Young-won pleads with her to return it anyway, since that was her entire life savings.
Eui-joo nags Sang-soon about the dinner reservation, and finally pouts that she thought he’d read her mind and booked the place she was really wanting to try. At that, he acts as though he really did reserve it as a surprise, and she lights up. She asks if he’ll be okay since it’s so expensive, and he bluffs that it’s worth it to see her this happy, though he’s secretly wincing.
Of course, when they arrive at the restaurant, Young-won and Ja-sung are already there. Fortunately, Ja-sung has just bent down to retrieve his dropped phone, and he crawls under the table to hide. Eui-joo guesses that Young-won is here on a blind date, so Young-won plays along. Eui-joo then proceeds to sit down (because she wants to meet Young-won’s date) and start trash-talking Young-won’s ex (a.k.a. Ja-sung). Ja-sung manages to sneak away when a waiter comes by with a cart, and Young-won excuses herself as well. She and Ja-sung meet up outside, but while he suggests going somewhere else, she’s ready to call it a night.
Back inside, Eui-joo remarks that Sang-soon only ever took his Cutie Pie to cheap places. He says he chose this place just for her, because she’s much more special. She swoons that Cutie Pie has no idea what she’s missing, and he asks her to stop talking about his ex. He suggests going out to a movie after, but she has a different idea…
Cut to: the two of them bursting into her bedroom, tossing clothes aside and throwing themselves onto the bed. Again, she starts to say something about his Cutie Pie, but he stops her with a dramatic finger on the lips and then brushes her hair back and whispers, “I love you.” But as he goes in for the kiss, he unthinkingly adds, “Cutie Pie,” and the mood is broken. She throws him out of the apartment, despite his excuse that her saying “Cutie Pie” so much made the name stick in his mind. She tells him they’re over and slams the door in his face.
Young-won, still upset over the deposit, distracts herself with cleaning until the security guard rings her doorbell. He hands her an envelope that “some lady” asked him to give her, and rushes off before she can ask too many questions. Inside is a check for the deposit amount and a note that says, “I couldn’t sleep because I felt guilty after meeting you. Please stop feeling sad, and make a fresh start.”
When Young-won tells Eui-joo how she wishes she could contact the landlady and thank her, Eui-joo suggests calling the restaurant where they met, in case she’s a regular there. Young-won thanks her, and Eui-joo sighs that the heavens help Young-won because she’s kind, but abandon Eui-joo for being bad.
Chan tells Gyeom that Young-won got her deposit back, and Gyeom is suspiciously smiley about it. He says that she must be really excited to have gotten the money and the letter… but Chan never mentioned the letter. Gyeom claims he had nothing to do with it, but Chan isn’t fooled.
Young-won takes Ja-sung out to a fancy lunch to celebrate her returned deposit, and excitedly tells him she plans to build a house. He warns her that building a house is so difficult, people say it ages you ten years. Her face falls as he spells out the complicated processes, and she says sadly that she guesses not everybody can do it. He laughs that whoever said that must not know what they were talking about, and tells her firmly that it would be too hard for her. That makes her bristle, and she asks if he really thinks she isn’t capable. He tries to backtrack that he doesn’t want to see her suffer, but she shuts the conversation down.
The next staff meeting is full of long faces. As they discuss the details of Sang-soon’s article, Ja-sung discretely texts an apology to Young-won. Editor Choi, hearing the phone’s tone, blames Sang-soon again and demands his phone for examination. Sang-soon was texting after all: an apology to Eui-joo. They all argue in circles for a while, until Ja-sung calls the meeting back to order. Editor Choi takes out his frustration on Young-won for frowning, because that also counts as showing personal emotions at work. Sure.
In his office, Ja-sung frets over how angry Young-won must be. He writes an apology on a sticky note, but quickly flips it upside-down when Editor Choi enters with a document from Sang-soon. Seeing that Sang-soon has misspelled his own name, Editor Choi takes back the document – with Ja-sung’s sticky note stuck to the bottom page. Ja-sung grabs it back, and the sticky note flutters to the ground. Of course, Editor Choi picks it up. And, of course, he assumes that the apology was from Sang-soon to Eui-joo. He storms out of the office to scold them again. Sang-soon desperately suggests they check the handwriting, but Ja-sung stops them yet again. Sang-soon pleads that he’s been wrongfully accused and grabs for the sticky note, which Ja-sung tears into tiny pieces. He returns to his office and tries to ignore Sang-soon’s mournful looks through the window.
Sang-soon gets a moment alone with Eui-joo and falls to his knees to beg for forgiveness. He mistakenly guesses that she’s about to say his Cutie Pie would forgive him but she won’t, and she scoffs that Cutie Pie is all he can think about.
Ja-sung tries to talk to Young-won again, and this time Eui-joo overhears. She’s incensed that Sang-soon has taken the fall for so many of Ja-sung’s mistakes, and after taking them to task she rushes out to find Sang-soon and apologize. Sang-soon vows never to mention Cutie Pie’s name again, and slaps himself on the mouth for the immediate slip-up. Eui-joo says she should be the one to hit his mouth – with her lips. He worries about what will happen if Ja-sung sees them, but she says she’ll handle it and plants a big kiss on his lips.
Editor Choi scowls to see Eui-joo and Sang-soon acting all lovey-dovey at their desks, and tells them to stop before they make Ja-sung angry again. Ja-sung finally tells him to stop instead. He says love is like a cough – you can’t hide it no matter how hard you try. He gives everyone full permission to openly express their feelings, for a free and love-filled workplace. Eui-joo scoffs, but Young-won’s pleading look and finger hearts make her smile again.
Chan tells Gyeom that Young-won is on her way to meet her former landlady. Gyeom jumps up in a panic, but Chan holds him back and asks what he plans to do about it. He reveals that he lied about Young-won meeting her landlord just to see Gyeom’s reaction, and tells Gyeom to pull himself together. Young-won arrives just in time to hear him ask Gyeom why he sent her the money.
But it wasn’t Gyeom. It was Ja-sung. Young-won confronts him and returns the money, asking why he did it, and he confesses that he once lost all his savings to someone he trusted. The ordeal made him want to die, and he didn’t want her to experience that level of despair. They both apologize for misunderstanding each other.
Gyeom takes Mi-ra up on dinner, where she confesses that she likes him. He rejects her, and Mi-ra calls Joo-hee (who’s working late at the office) for comfort. Chan overhears Joo-hee’s half of the conversation, and gloats that what goes around comes around. Joo-hee can see right through him, though he tries to insist that he doesn’t have feelings for Mi-ra. But he immediately goes to find Mi-ra where she’s drinking alone, and offers an attempt at consolation. He says she’s not the only one life doesn’t work out for, making her break down in sobs.
As Young-won and Ja-sung look at house photos, he wonders what kind of house she’ll build. She reminds him that someone told her it’s too hard and will age her ten years. He offers to help, so it’ll only age her five years, and they laugh together. In voiceover, Young-won tells us, “Love is like building a house. Just as you find a lot to build on, you meet someone.” As Chan piggybacks Mi-ra home and Eui-joo and Sang-soon share a bottle of wine, Young-won continues: “Just as you pile up bricks, you pile up memories. Just as you beautifully decorate your house, you tend to your love so that it shines. Just like a well-built house with a strong foundation, I hope our love will be forever.”
That night, as Young-won gets ready for bed, Sang-soon texts her photos from his article about the man in the woods. She pauses on the photo of the man in question, and quickly calls Sang-soon to ask where that man is.
Ja-sung pulls a book off his shelf, and a photo falls out. He opens it to reveal himself in his construction uniform… with Young-won’s father sitting beside him.
Of course they’re connected like this. Honestly, I don’t mind the show bringing Young-won’s father back in for last-minute drama, since that plotline has been referenced and hinted towards throughout. But there would be plenty of conflict just in bringing closure to Young-won’s family without dragging Ja-sung into the middle of it.
I’m guessing we’ll spend most of the final episode dealing with the revelation that her father (presumably) was the one who betrayed Ja-sung and ran off with all of his savings. But while I’m a little curious exactly how that will play out, I’d prefer to spend that time on the “homes” that our characters have built for themselves – and with each other – over the course of the show. We’ve seen Ja-sung go from drifting between apartments to filling even his temporary home with material comforts for the person he loves. We’ve seen Young-won go from desperately hanging onto any rental place she can get to dreaming about building her own home. And we’ve seen several new relationships blossom between people with wildly different lifestyles.
Speaking of homes, how charming was that little corner house? Out of all the gorgeous houses we’ve “toured” throughout this show, I think that’s the one I want the most. I don’t know if it was all those bookshelves or that lovely little lookout room at the top or if the owner was just that persuasive, but I found myself imagining along with Young-won how nice it would be to build my own place like that. And then deflating along with her upon acknowledging that it wouldn’t be nearly as simple (or affordable) as it sounds. Sigh. One can dream, though, and I’ll admit it’s been a lot of fun just looking at all of the different residences in every episode.
Getting back to this episode, there certainly were a lot of apologies, weren’t there? It was nice to see how quick and sincere Ja-sung’s apology was when he realized he’d upset Young-won, and to see them have an honest conversation about how hurt she was feeling and why. It still irks me, however, that his insensitive comments and actions keep getting brushed aside as good-intentioned. I almost thought we were going to get a bit of self-awareness from him when he realized that Sang-soon was using his bluffing tactic (of being mean to his girlfriend so as to hide their relationship – which doesn’t make the mean things he said any less mean!), but alas. I guess it isn’t going to be addressed.
I’m glad that Gyeom wasn’t the one who sent Young-won the deposit money, though I’d say he still had a hand in it. He told Ja-sung what had happened, and it seemed pretty clear that at the very least he hoped Ja-sung would do something about it. I really liked Gyeom at the beginning, when he and Young-won were friends who were encouraging each other’s dreams and cheering each other up after a bad day. And I loved his unique dynamic as Ja-sung’s only friend. So I’m a bit sad he got relegated to the meddlesome second lead slot where even if he wasn’t acting in jealousy, he was still pulling strings in the background to make things work out for Young-won without her knowledge or permission.
On the whole, that’s how I feel about almost all of the characters in this show: some things I really like about them, some things I can’t stand. Take Chan for example. I adore Chan – except when his crush on Mi-ra gives him that smug attitude. (It does make it that much more satisfying when Joo-hee cuts him down to size, though, so I won’t complain too much.) Or then there’s Editor Choi, who has his sympathetic and even caring moments – but much of the time I just find him annoying and unnecessarily harsh.
But if there’s one thing this show has made abundantly clear, it’s that people are much more than the images of themselves they present to others. The uber successful businessman can be completely empty on the inside, and using all the wealth that he owns to distract even himself from all that he lacks. The most overflowingly affectionate relationships can be a total lie. But, on the flip side, the emptiest, coldest home can also be filled with love and warmth. And a hard outer shell can be a mask for a sensitive and caring soul trying to protect itself as best as it knows how.
In the end, it’s up to each of us which aspects of a person’s character outweigh the others, which apologies to accept or reject – or make, as the case may be – and which people to let into our own most private spaces.
- Premiere Watch: At a Distance Spring Is Green, Monthly Magazine Home, Hospital Playlist 2, Nevertheless, Voice 4
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- 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