Human Disqualification: Episode 3
Our ex-writer hits an all-time low and feels her life is crumbling around her. But when she gets the opportunity to help someone in need, she finds a spark of hope. Meanwhile, our escort learns more about what his friend was involved in before he died, and it’s not what he expected.
EPISODE 3: “Being invisible”
We flash back to Kang-jae’s father in the nursing home. Kang-jae narrates that his father waited for him until his last breath after six years of lying in that bed. His father pulls out his IV and removes his oxygen mask. He stares at a family photo as he passes.
A teenaged Kang-jae runs into his father’s room, but he’s too late. His mother sobs by his father’s bedside. (Is that his mother’s current boyfriend Chang-kyu as the nurse?)
He wonders what his father was feeling – how lonely, frustrating, and frightening it must’ve all been. And how much he must’ve been waiting for Kang-jae. Those thoughts tormented Kang-jae so much he ran away and ended up here.
Will he one day understand what life, death, present, and future truly are? “In the end, everyone is alone. Will I one day come to learn that?”
Kang-jae watches Bu-jung lean over the railing on the roof and asks why she should die – just don’t pick up. He hands over her phone and the bag she left behind. Looking over the edge, Kang-jae comments it’s not so easy when you look down.
He remarks that she’ll scar all the poor kids who attend private academies in the alley below, and the clean-up won’t be easy either. His friend recently committed suicide, although he didn’t jump from a building. Bu-jung listens to Kang-jae quietly, as usual.
Kang-jae peers below and notes that his apartment is on this side. She’ll need to get a good running start not to hit his exhaust pipe. HA. He about gives Bu-jung a heart attack when he hops up to sit on the railing and almost loses his balance.
“That’s what people are like. Usually, they don’t care, but they step closer when someone is in danger.” People can’t help being nosy. He doesn’t want her reading too much into their second “coincidental” meeting. He heard her screaming in the stairwell and naturally followed her up here.
He wonders why he’s never seen her if she lives here. Bu-jung stares at him for a second in disbelief but only clarifies it’s her father who lives in the building. Kang-jae guesses her father is sick based on the porridge in the bag. He encourages her to go back so her father doesn’t worry, and he’ll go buy that kimchi he was on his way to get.
Kang-jae suggests she tell her father that she went to the roof for some air and saw this nosy but good-looking guy trying to kill himself. He didn’t jump, so she returned home and isn’t going to the roof ever again.
Satisfied the excuse works, he takes his leave. Kang-jae notices the sitting area on the roof and thanks her for showing him this spot; he’s lived her a year and never saw it. Ha. “The next time we meet, let’s exchange it. KakaoTalk.”
Bu-jung wants to stay at her father’s for the night, although he tries to get her to go home. She argues this is her home – it’s under her name, and she lived here first for seven years. He beams that his daughter managed to buy a place in Seoul on her own, making Bu-jung smile.
She argues he did a lot to help her like when he sold his property to pay her rent and bought her medicine as a student. Chang-sook tries to get her to spill how much debt she has left, but she playfully pushes him away. Their jovial expressions turn concerned once they’re each alone.
When Chang-sook later asks if something happened while she was out, Bu-jung uses half of Kang-jae’s excuse and says she went to the rooftop for air but won’t go again. She tells Chang-sook she coincidentally ran into Kang-jae earlier, and he strangely said he’d never seen her before.
They’ve seen each other a lot in the elevator, and she even took him a bill of his they received by mistake. Chang-sook once told her that Kang-jae always puts the same brand of ramyeon boxes out, so she even knows what he eats. Yet he doesn’t remember her at all.
Chang-sook wonders if he’s just not that bright (ha), but Bu-jung says that’s not it. She was just invisible to him, someone who is both there and not. She recalls being the same when she was young – only seeing what interested her. People can live in the same space but different worlds.
While Kang-jae books another client, Chang-sook tells Bu-jung he too feels invisible sometimes. “If you live like you’re not there, eventually you disappear.” Bu-jung says they’re both invisible people, but Chang-sook argues she’s not invisible.
As they discuss the merits of being invisible, Bu-jung narrates that she’s not sure where it all went wrong. A year ago? Earlier? She’d always seen herself as an average person, but now her place is gone.
On the taxi ride home, Jung-soo lets Kyung-eun rest her head on his shoulder but rebuffs her efforts to talk. Bu-jung compares her life to a slowly collapsing building just waiting for a gust of wind or rain to bring it down.
As she sneaks out of her father’s apartment once he’s asleep, Bu-jung continues that she – or the shell of her – is standing in the center of that collapsing building. She glances toward Kang-jae’s apartment before leaving. Inside his apartment, Kang-jae goes through Jung-woo’s things and finds a key.
Is Bu-jung now at rock bottom or is there further to fall? Jung-soo lies awake in their bed while Bu-jung sits on her office floor, holding the handkerchief. In flashback, we see her taking her employee photo for Seunghwa Housekeeping. Not knowing if there’s further to fall makes her anxious.
The next morning, Ddak-yi loudly lugs a suitcase Kang-jae lent him downstairs. Soon-kyu shushes him since Woo-nam is asleep. Ddak-yi grumbles that Soon-kyu and Woo-nam should at least get married if they’re going to live together like this.
Ddak-yi and Kang-jae sell the suitcase along with other designer products of Kang-jae’s. Afterward, they walk around, goofing off. They take photos of themselves next a sports car parked on the street and run when they get caught by the owner.
They meet up with Min-jung to collect the funeral expenses from Jung-woo’s sister. Kang-jae notes that Min-jung is suspiciously nice to Ddak-yi and asks if he gave her money.
Min-jung wonders why Jung-woo’s sister didn’t help him out financially when she lives in this fancy neighborhood. Kang-jae observes that’s easy to say when you’re poor, but rich people see the world differently. Min-jung scoffs at that sentiment until Kang-jae reminds her she’s the one who read that in a book last week and told him. Ha.
A woman answers the door and is not at all happy to see them. She sends them to a nearby parking lot where she says they can talk. She bluntly asks how much money they’re after. She questions whether Jung-woo truly committed suicide or if he accidently died “exploiting a naïve woman.”
She holds out a wad of bills and scoffs that Jung-woo was pathetic until the end. Kang-jae marches over and swipes the bills out of her hand. He instructs her to wire the rest of the fee to his account, writing the info on her hand.
Kang-jae slaps the paper with Jung-woo’s ashes into her hand. Jung-woo may have fallen behind, but she doesn’t get to “abandon him like an animal.” He threatens that she’d better wire him the money or else they’ll send their “uncles” to meet her kids.
Min-ja calls Jung-soo at work, complaining about how her friends want her to go to this expensive place for brunch. Instead, she plans to eat at his work cafeteria and meet them later. Jung-soo chides that she has the money to spend and should treat her friends for once.
Meanwhile, Bu-jung stands outside of an apartment as medics carry a woman out who tried to commit suicide. The shaken Bu-jung explains to the cop and paramedic that the woman is a new client, so she doesn’t know her. The police officer asks her to come with them for now.
Kang-jae passes by with his friends as they load the woman into the ambulance. He spots Bu-jung nearby but is led away by Ddak-yi and Min-jung. Bu-jung hops in the ambulance without seeing Kang-jae across the street.
At work, Jung-soo gets a surprise visit from Kyung-eun. He calls his mom to say can’t meet with her and then sits with Kyung-eun for coffee. Kyung-eun flirts while he sighs. Jung-soo reminds her they promised a year ago not to do this anymore.
“What did we do?” she asks. Jung-soo isn’t playing her games and says no matter what she asks, his answer is no. Kyung-eun justifies herself by saying that taking care of a dying person made her want to live selfishly “like trash.” Then, she saw Jung-soo again.
She gets up to leave and laughs that she can see him holding back, wanting her to stay. Jung-soo sighs (again) that she should’ve just gone straight to her husband at the hospital rather than stopping by here first. When Kyung-eun starts getting flirty again, he tells her not to act up and walks away.
At the pharmacy, Min-ja eats lunch and watches dramas with Soon-kyu and Woo-nam. Min-ja argues life is more dramatic than fiction and starts gossiping about the daughter-in-law of a neighbor having an affair and getting divorced.
Soon-kyu glances over at Woo-nam and hurriedly changes the subject. Min-ja worries she said something wrong when Woo-nam gets up, but Soon-kyu explains he’s recently divorced, so the topic bothers him. Before Min-ja leaves, Soon-kyu gives her some glucose tablets for her low blood sugar.
Later, Soon-kyu tells Woo-nam she’s nice to Min-ja because she reminds her of her mother. She asks if Woo-nam is okay. Is he going to invite that man whose wife cheated on him for drinks since they’re in the same situation? Woo-nam calls her cruel and walks off.
Elsewhere, Bu-jung is stuck at the hospital, waiting for the woman’s family. She takes out a 50,000 won bill and folds it like Kang-jae did on the bus. Bu-jung thinks of what he said to her about how her sadness made him want to be kind.
Bu-jung pulls the handkerchief Kang-jae gave her out of her bag. Before long, the woman’s parents arrive and rush to her bedside in a panic.
At Akira, Jong-hoon rushes to prepare for Ah-ran’s arrival. She’s clearly a regular and tells him she’s meeting Writer Heo here tonight. Ah-ran asks how the task she gave him is going. He promised to make the woman spreading malicious comments powerless. Oh.
Jong-hoon lies it’s going well and is surprised to hear Ah-ran called off the lawsuit. Ah-ran just wanted to scare her, and besides, “I have you.” She muses that things would’ve been really tough without him.
Jong-hoon looks uncomfortable through this whole interaction and stays super polite. Ah-ran notes that she’s already been coming here for seven years. She puts a hand on his face and says they should continue living well.
Kang-jae goes to the internet café where Min-jung has been living lately (literally, she has her toiletries set up and everything). She’s disappointed to learn she didn’t earn a commission from the funeral fee excursion. Kang-jae explains the amount they requested won’t even cover what they spent.
Min-jung and Kang-jae bicker, and she snatches his phone when a call from Jong-hoon comes in. Min-jung thinks he should cut all ties if he stopped working as a host. Kang-jae asks why she dates idol singers when she quit as a trainee, then. At the mention of Min-jung’s dating life, Ddak-yi grumpily slams into Kang-jae’s chair as he walks by to help a customer.
Jong-hoon finally gets ahold of Kang-jae and asks if he’ll take that job tailing the housewife. Kang-jae supposes the request must come from a major client, but Jong-hoon won’t say who. Kang-jae doesn’t outright say no to the work, so Jong-hoon says he’ll text him the details.
Waiting in the stairwell reminds Kang-jae of Bu-jung that day. Jong-hoon’s voice on the other line snaps him out of it. He opens the images Jong-hoon sent and stares in surprise at Bu-jung’s face. He flicks through her resume and the photos of her hate comments.
When Jong-hoon asks how long the job will take, Kang-jae wonders what happens if there’s no dirt to be found. Jong-hoon laughs that he should just make something up then. Kang-jae sits in silence.
Bu-jung happily hurries over to her father while he collects boxes. She’s holding a cake, a gift from the family at the hospital. Bu-jung proudly tells her father she received it for helping someone. She didn’t do much, but the woman said she saved her life. It makes her feel alive.
Chang-sook looks at her fondly and says, “This is the real you.” She’s been giving since she was a child, always feeling more at peace when she could share with others. Chang-sook remarks that Bu-jung saved his life too.
Kang-jae looks Bu-jung up online but finds little. He remembers that she was talking to Jung Ah-ran on the phone that day, so he looks her up too. Ddak-yi wanders by and sees Ah-ran’s photo. “That’s Jung-woo’s client.”
When he saw Jung-woo doing a search on Ah-ran at the internet café, Jung-woo told him she was his client. Ddak-yi is full of information and surprises Kang-jae by even somehow knowing Ah-ran is a long-time client of Jong-hoon’s.
Ddak-yi can tell something is up and asks Kang-jae what’s going on. Kang-jae stares at the statement on the screen about Ah-ran not pressing charges against the commenter.
“Come to think of it, this has nothing to do with me,” he says but his face says otherwise. At the apartment, Bu-jung laughs with her father as they watch TV and eat cake.
Ah, so Jung-woo was working for Ah-ran and investigating Bu-jung. I wondered why Ah-ran would drop the lawsuit like that, but it makes sense now that we know she’s intending to strike another way. Bu-jung is already on the brink, so I’m afraid anything more could break her. Everyone besides her sweet father has screwed her over in some way, and now Kang-jae might get added to that list. He’s obviously conflicted about the job. Him asking about what happens if there’s no dirt made it seem like he was hoping he could take the job and say he found nothing, but Jong-hoon is determined to give Ah-ran something even if it’s fake. For Kang-jae, we already know that money is highly important to him, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes the job. If he does, it’s not going to end well because Bu-jung clearly gets under his skin and he feels a connection to her. This has the makings of some serious angst.
I just hope the ensuing angst doesn’t destroy their budding friendship because their interactions are great. I loved Kang-jae’s blasé way of talking Bu-jung down from jumping. He didn’t try to convince her life is worth living or any of the typical cliche stuff – he just chatted with her. Kang-jae always catches Bu-jung at her lowest moments but doesn’t judge. He just chats away while she absorbs his words silently. I cracked up at his “How come I’ve never seen you before?” comment, especially after Bu-jung told her father she’s even personally passed along Kang-jae’s mail to him. It’s true, though, that you often live in your own world when you’re young and tend not to notice what isn’t directly relevant to you. Plus, Kang-jae has been consumed with his own issues.
Both Kang-jae and Bu-jung’s relationships with their fathers are central, although in very different ways. Kang-jae has been running from the trauma of his father’s death and his subsequent guilt over not being there with him. His father’s absence seems to have shaped his choices throughout adulthood and not always in healthy ways. Bu-jung, on the other hand, seems to be the best version of herself when she’s with her father. She goes through her days looking downcast but lights up around Chang-sook. It’s clear they adore each other, which is very sweet to see, especially since we haven’t seen any other positive relationships in her life. I’m still not clear on what exactly she thinks of Jung-soo, but it’s obvious she doesn’t rely on him for support.
And that brings us to the Kyung-eun situation. I’m no fan of Jung-soo, but I really dislike Kyung-eun. Jung-soo unequivocally told her no, but she keeps pushing anyway. She even approached him at work, knowing that it’d be harder for him to turn her away there. It definitely seems like they had an affair, or at least something bordering one. From what Jung-soo said, they both agreed to stay away from each other a year ago. That’s around the time Bu-jung lost the baby, so I wonder if that had anything to do with his resolve. No matter the reason, he’s made it abundantly clear to Kyung-eun that he is done, so her behavior is both irritating and disrespectful. Unfortunately, he seems to like her for some reason, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up winning him over again. While I certainly don’t hope he cheats (or cheated) on Bu-jung, I can’t say I’d be mad if she ends up leaving him because that marriage is certainly not sparking joy.
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