Human Disqualification: Episode 5
Our leads continue to be caught in each other’s gravitational pull, their shared loneliness binding them. Each interaction leads to more revelations about themselves and each other. Both our ex-writer and our escort make surprising discoveries this hour, one in particular that suggests they might be more connected than they realized.
EPISODE 5: “Nameless pain”
While we watch Kang-jae entertaining a client in a noraebang, he narrates that he’s thankful to Bu-jung. He was happy to feel like a good person for once. It’s been a long time since someone other than family, coworkers, or clients initiated contact with him. He kept writing and erasing a response to her text, unsure of what to say.
Kang-jae finishes the job, exhausted after hours of forced smiles. Did Bu-jung also write and erase messages to him before sending that text? Wondering that made his heart heavy. As he enters his apartment, we see the decorative flower from the piece of cake on his counter.
At the wedding venue, Kang-jae spots Bu-jung walking ahead and follows. He watches her tie up her hair and thinks that maybe she hadn’t truly wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to reply.
Their eyes meet across the hall. Kang-jae steps forward but turns to the side as Jung-soo approaches Bu-jung. Kang-jae intently watches Jung-soo lead Bu-jung away until Min-jung drags him outside to work.
Meanwhile, Bu-jung follows the balloon upstairs, but Kang-jae is nowhere to be seen. She goes downstairs, disappointed. She catches a glimpse of that balloon again, this time outside.
Not knowing that Kang-jae handed off the balloon to Min-jung, Bu-jung once again follows and is disappointed to see someone else holding the balloon. She hides in an alcove when she spots Jung-soo looking for her.
Bu-jung looks up and sees Kang-jae standing there in that same alcove. While they share another long, charged stare, Jung-soo runs into Joon-hyuk and Min-jung decorating a car nearby.
Kang-jae peeks out at Jung-soo and recognizes him from the lobby. He guesses Jung-soo is her husband, which she confirms, and wonders why she’s hiding from him. Bu-jung stays quiet.
She gets nervous when Jung-soo and Joon-hyuk approach the alcove, so Kang-jae pulls her to the other side of the wall. They hear Jung-soo sighing about how his wife disappeared to who knows where. Joon-hyuk is disappointed he didn’t get to meet her – he wanted to see how prickly she is for himself.
Bu-jung and Kang-jae listen to Jung-soo complain about her temper and ask for Joon-hyuk’s advice. Joon-hyuk encourages him to say the things he’s hesitant to say like “you’ve worked hard,” “I’m sorry,” and “I love you.”
Kang-jae snaps to attention when Jung-soo asks how much it costs to hire those kids as stand-ins. He insists he’s just curious, as if he’d never use such a service, but he takes Kang-jae’s business card when Joon-hyuk offers it. Hearing Kang-jae’s name, Bu-jung looks over at him in surprise.
Even after Jung-soo walks away, Bu-jung and Kang-jae stand in silence. For once, Bu-jung is the one to break it by apologizing for her husband. Kang-jae suggests she leave first since it might look strange for them to walk out together.
Before she leaves, Bu-jung checks to make sure he got his handkerchief back. Kang-jae responds with a simple yes. Is he doing well? He softly responds with only “yes.” Bu-jung says goodbye and leaves.
While he’s on the phone with Ddak-yi, Kang-jae watches Min-jung pretending to be Joon-hyuk’s girlfriend as she meets his parents. Ddak-yi warns Kang-jae that Soon-kyu might call to check if Ddak-yi really is at work like he told her.
Meanwhile, the wedding has started. Jung-soo plays games on his phone and tells Bu-jung that he ran into Joon-hyuk. He heard about this interesting service where you can pay someone to act as a friend or family member.
Does she remember that model-esque guy holding the balloon in the lobby? He and his pretty female friend do that service.
They wear designer clothes and sometimes act as lovers for lonely ajummas and ajusshis. Even knowing Kang-jae’s speech at the wedding was fake, Jung-soo was almost moved to tears. “If kids like that make a move, people like us will sway and fall.”
Irritated, Bu-jung asks who “people like us” are. Is he referring to her? Jung-soo complains she’s too sensitive and clarifies he just meant normal people.
On the taxi ride back, Min-jung chafes at Kang-jae’s indifference because guys usually fawn all over her. She knows Ddak-yi is interested, at least. Kang-jae tells her Ddak-yi is off limits. When she asks why, he replies, “He’s my soulmate.” Aw.
Min-jung says Joon-hyuk was interested in her and asked her hourly rate, so she lied and said Kang-jae was her boyfriend. She was embarrassed to say she’s single.
Suddenly, she asks Kang-jae his hourly rate. He quips he’s more expensive than her. Min-jung turns serious and asks, “If I want you to stay with me for an hour, how much would it cost?” Kang-jae says if the clock starts now, she’ll have to pay the taxi fare. Min-jung says to forget it.
Bu-jung, meanwhile, spends the car ride home looking up escort services. When Jung-soo thanks her for her effort (per Joon-hyuk’s advice), Bu-jung notes he must’ve done something wrong to act so out of character. Jung-soo moves onto the next phrase and says he’s sorry she had to exhaust herself for his mom’s sake.
Kang-jae sprints out of the taxi to his building to avoid the rain. But then he sees Chang-sook piling up boxes on his dolly, getting soaked. He can’t help running back out to help him.
By the time they’re in the elevator, Kang-jae and Chang-sook are drenched. Chang-sook says Bu-jung hates him collecting boxes, but he’s greedy. Coming out of the doctor’s office (uh-oh), he saw a perfectly good box and took it before someone else could. “I was greedy, so I got punished,” he laughs.
After Chang-sook watches Kang-jae go inside his apartment, he stares at his keypad. Did he forget his code? At home, Kang-jae stares out at the rain and thinks of when he found Bu-jung on the roof. He then thinks of Jung-woo and heads out with the room key he found among Jung-woo’s things.
Kang-jae is startled to see Chang-sook sitting in the hallway. He forgot his passcode and used up his attempts. Chang-sook did eventually remember the code, but now he has to wait until it lets him retry.
Chang-sook asks if Kang-jae is headed out and remarks that he’s working hard. “If you think about it, youth is really lonely without a specific reason.” People don’t talk about it, but youth is harder than growing old.
Chang-sook asks Kang-jae not to tell Bu-jung he forgot his passcode because she’ll worry. Kang-jae waits until Chang-sook is safely inside before leaving.
Kang-jae talks to his father again, Chang-sook’s words about the difficulty of youth bringing him to mind. His father stayed forever young. Elsewhere, Woo-nam waits at the hospital for a patient’s son to arrive and say his goodbyes. Kang-jae narrates that maybe his father was even lonelier than he knew.
Kyung-eun and her husband listen to Woo-nam entreating the man on the other side of the curtain to hold on until his son arrives. Kyung-eun’s husband begins sobbing, and she tenderly wipes his tears. On the other side of them, a body is wheeled out while loved ones wail.
When Jung-soo gets out of the shower, he has several missed calls from his mom and a text from Kyung-eun. While he talks to Min-ja, Bu-jung checks the number on Kang-jae’s business card against the one she has in her phone.
She quickly stashes the card when Jung-soo walks in to tell her he’s going to check on his mom who’s having a dizzy spell. He invites Bu-jung along, although he already knows she won’t go.
At his mom’s, Jung-soo asks Min-ja not to talk about kids around Bu-jung. Min-ja complains, as usual, that she should be able to talk about children with her daughter-in-law. Jung-soo wonders why she always say things she doesn’t mean to Bu-jung.
Min-ja argues she means every word and if it were ye olden days, Bu-jung would’ve already been kicked out of the house. Jung-soo warns that others will call her misogynistic for that kind of talk.
Does she know why they moved out a year ago? Jung-soo calls himself a sinner. Min-ja says of course she knows. It’s why she paid for their new place. But it’s not like Jung-soo really had an affair – all he did was meet up with his ex a few times and talk to her on the phone.
Min-ja again puts blame on Bu-jung, accusing her of overreacting by seeing a therapist and then having a miscarriage because of it all. (Why is she like this?) When she excuses Jung-soo’s behavior by saying he wasn’t even that emotionally involved with Kyujng-eun, he corrects her.
He had feelings for Kyung-eun. If she had accepted him … Min-ja finally gets mad at her son, yelling and smacking him for his thoughtlessness.
At the internet café, Min-jung helps Ddak-yi clean up. He asks why she quit her idol training, so Min-jung explains there’s no future there. Idols are switched out like products even if they’re successful in the short-term.
Min-jung would rather be the long-lasting CEO. Her plan is either to work her way up or marry a successful CEO so she can inherit his business.
That night, Ah-ran takes a break from running her lines to check social media. Her eyes widen at a post about her having dirty family secrets, one even involving a child. It’s from the account “café hallelujah,” the avatar a photo of Jeff Buckley. Ooooh.
Ah-ran asks the production assistant if she’s aware of any rumors about who Jin-seop is seeing these days, but the woman is too nervous to say. Ah-ran watches her husband film a scene with the young actress Ji-na (the one he’s cheating with) and scoffs at their obvious closeness. She pretends not to notice and greets Jin-seop and Ji-na with a smile.
Jong-hoon immediately calls Kang-jae when Ah-ran asks him to look into the defamatory post, but Kang-jae is busy checking out the room Jung-woo was renting. The tiny room is packed to the brim with Jung-woo’s stuff. Kang-jae finds insurance paperwork, along with a death certificate for someone named Nam Min-soo.
Kang-jae lies in Jung-woo’s bed and sees a photo of Jung-woo with Hee-sun and a little boy taped to the frame. Scratched in the wood underneath are the words “Dad Jung-woo,” “Me Min-soo,” and “Mom Hee-sun.” Kang-jae cries.
Meanwhile, over the phone, Bu-jung quizzes her father on a simple math problem. She lists grocery items and their prices and asks how much change he’d have left. She’s happy when he gets it right and goes to quiz him on the next one, but gets distracted when a text comes in.
After he hangs up, Chang-sook writes down his door passcode on pieces of paper he slips into the pockets of his coats and into his backpack. At home, Bu-jung stares at the text from Ah-ran. She sent a copy of the post and asked if it was Bu-jung’s doing.
Bu-jung opens her messages and re-reads the text she sent to café hallelujah a long time ago: “This is Lee Bu-jung. I don’t think I can make it today. Something urgent came up at home …” There was no reply.
Meanwhile, Kang-jae finds Jung-woo’s phone and begins looking through it. A message pops up, so Kang-jae opens the chat. He stares in shock at Bu-jung’s new message: “It’s been a while. This is Lee Bu-jung. I don’t know if you remember me.” Her avatar is the photo of her cut knee from when Ah-ran assaulted her.
At home, Bu-jung eats the food Jung-soo brought home while he does laundry. He’s in a contemplative mood and apologizes, although he doesn’t specify for what. Bu-jung’s phone buzzes. Kang-jae sent a reply from Jung-woo’s phone: “It’s been a while. Yes, I remember you.”
Wait, so were Jung-woo and Bu-jung working together? Now I’m super curious to know how exactly they’re connected. They obviously didn’t know each other well since Bu-jung wasn’t even sure Jung-woo would remember her. Jong-hoon was upset that Jung-woo didn’t get any dirt on Bu-jung, but maybe that’s because Jung-woo decided to switch sides. If so, he must’ve discovered something dubious enough about Ah-ran to warrant secretly undermining her. And now there’s this recent post from his account airing out Ah-ran’s dirty laundry. Either he scheduled the post in advance or someone else has access to his account. Maybe Jung-woo had a partner in all this before he died.
Jung-woo borrowing all that money and then committing suicide makes more sense after learning about his son Min-soo’s illness and death. He clearly adored his kid based on all the photos, but it looks like he kept him a secret. Kang-jae and Ddak-yi didn’t seem to know about Hee-sun or Min-soo, and they didn’t have a clue why Jung-woo borrowed all that money which I’m guessing was for Min-soo’s treatment. The evidence points to Jung-woo and Hee-sun committing suicide after their son’s death, but with this latest development, I’m not convinced there isn’t more to the story.
On another note, something tells me Min-jung is going to start trouble sooner or later. I can’t tell if she legitimately has feelings for Kang-jae or if she’s just lonely and likes attention. She watches him too closely and doesn’t like when his attention isn’t on her. I’m worried she’ll cause problems if she sees him with Bu-jung since it’s obvious there’s a connection between them. There’s something so raw and magnetic about when Bu-jung and Kang-jae are together. The pull between them is almost palpable. All they have to do is make intense eye contact, and I’m invested.
I liked seeing Bu-jung take the initiative in their interaction this time. Usually, she’s the more reticent one, but Kang-jae was the monosyllabic one this time. He looked awkward when Bu-jung heard about his business. Kang-jae doesn’t strike me as being ashamed of his work, but maybe he was worried about how she would react. Bu-jung hasn’t shown herself to be a judgmental person, so I doubt she’d think less of him based on his job. But she is insecure about her own worth as a person, and she was clearly upset when Jung-soo started talking about how people like Kang-jae and Min-jung could easily make fools out of people like them. I hope she doesn’t get too in her head about it.
Bu-jung’s reticence toward Jung-soo makes more sense now that we know she’s aware of Jung-soo’s almost-affair. I wonder if she found out herself or if he told her. No wonder she’s felt her life started going off the rails a year ago. Her husband wanted to be with someone else, she had a miscarriage, and she lost her job. That’s beyond a rough year. The only bright side I can see is that all of that resulted in her not having to live with her mother-in-law anymore. Living with the constant blaming and disdain can’t have been good for her mental health. On the topic of health, now I’m worried about Chang-sook. Forgetfulness in dramaland almost always signals illness. The way Bu-jung quizzed him on a simple task like buying groceries suggests she’s aware that there’s some issue. I just hope it’s not something too serious like Alzheimer’s. Hasn’t Bu-jung had enough tragedy already?
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