Human Disqualification: Episode 6
Our escort faces a moral dilemma and struggles to decide where his priorities lie. After discovering the surprising connection between his old friend and his new one, he continues his search for answers and makes a questionable move. Meanwhile, our ex-writer contemplates a proposition that might be riskier than she anticipates.
EPISODE 6: “A woman I know”
Bu-jung anxiously fiddles with her hands and stares the text from café hallelujah. While he waits for her response, Kang-jae looks through the many photos of Min-soo on Jung-woo’s phone. He gets a call from Ddak-yi and lies that he’s at home.
Ddak-yi has figured out why the name Lee Bu-jung sounded familiar. He saw her as a contact in Jung-woo’s old phone from before he switched numbers. One day when Jung-woo was at the internet café, he’d left his phone lying on the desk. Ddak-yi saw a call and then a text pop up from Bu-jung.
Jung-woo read Bu-jung’s text saying she couldn’t meet and immediately looked up a counseling center called “Café Hallelujah.” Ddak-yi assumed Bu-jung was the mother Jung-woo was seeing, but Jung-woo corrected, “She’s a woman I know. We might die together.” Whoa. He then smiled and said he was kidding. Uh-huh.
Jung-soo notices Bu-jung sitting by her phone and asks if she’s waiting for a call. She denies it and quickly flips her phone over.
He changes the topic and suggests they buy a dryer so they don’t have to hang the clothes all over the house. In fact, they should get all new appliances with his employee discount while they’re at it.
Bu-jung assumes his mom asked for the stuff back since they took it when they moved. Why should they replace appliances that have been working better than them? Ouch.
Jung-soo sighs and wonders why she’s being so sensitive. Bu-jung reminds him they just finished paying the items off after five years on the newlywed installment plan.
At the internet café, Ddak-yi looks up café hallelujah, but the page has been taken down. Meanwhile, Kang-jae finds a manila envelope with “LBJ – suicide note” written on it. Inside is Ah-ran’s book with a personalized note thanking Bu-jung for her “beautiful and flawless writing.”
Tucked inside the pages of Bu-jung’s original manuscript is a photo of Bu-jung with a woman and child at the hospital. It might be Hee-sun and Min-soo, but the phot is dark, so it’s hard to tell. The third item in the envelope is a suicide note addressed to Chang-sook. As he reads, Kang-jae thinks back to hearing Bu-jung say she wanted to die that day in the stairwell.
Kang-jae takes the envelope and goes to see Jong-hoon at Akira. Jong-hoon is impressed that Kang-jae already figured out the job is for Ah-ran. Kang-jae pulls out Ah-ran’s book and says he should read up on the VIP if he’s going to do the job right.
When Jong-hoon asks where he got the book – it’s marked not for sale – Kang-jae vaguely says he got it from a woman he knows. Jong-hoon assures Kang-jae he didn’t hide info from him because he doesn’t trust him.
All it takes is a single scandal to bring a celebrity down. Ah-ran was always the supporting role until her book propelled her to stardom. Jong-hoon feels for how she’s struggled.
Jong-hoon suggests Kang-jae start by sleeping with Bu-jung so she’ll be easier to monitor. “For women like her, meeting a guy like you can itself be a weakness.” Kang-jae bristles at that, asking what “a guy like you” is supposed to mean. They laugh it off.
At the bus stop, Ddak-yi spots Min-jung chatting with a few men on the other side of the street. She gives him a quick wave and heads off with the men she’s entertaining.
That night, Bu-jung again opts to sleep in the little side room off the kitchen. When Jung-soo brings her a drink, Bu-jung tells him to go ahead and get the new appliances he wants. She’s not angry – he’s right that what they have doesn’t fit well.
“I frustrate you a lot, don’t I?” It’s just the two of them at home, and Jung-soo knows that he’s not intuitive or as smart as her. She thinks he’s being sarcastic, but he says he’s being sincere.
Kang-jae finds a thoroughly drunk Ddak-yi sitting on the floor outside his apartment. He ends up taking him back home and stays over. In the morning, Kang-jae wakes and smiles when he hears Soon-kyu cooking breakfast.
He pops into the kitchen and scares the mess out of Soon-kyu as she grumbles about how she does all the work for no thanks. Her screams wake up Woo-nam who comes rushing in while Kang-jae chides Soon-kyu for carelessly burning the potatoes.
Soon-kyu is still glaring at Kang-jae over breakfast. He needles her like a sibling, remarking on how stress is aging her and insulting her cooking. Soon-kyu, in turn, blames him for getting her precious little brother drunk.
Kang-jae grows offended when she says he must’ve enticed Ddak-yi away from his studies to go help at his host club. He asks who told her he worked at a club, but Soon-kyu says it’s obvious just by looking at him. Kang-jae sighs at the burden of being too sexy.
He gets further offended when Soon-kyu claims he’s not nearly as good-looking as Ddak-yi. She then slams down Kang-jae’s business card that she found in the wash and demands he explain himself. Is this his work now?
Kang-jae gives this whole spiel about how he’s really performing a social service and helping humanity. He can’t do anything about the climate or the socioeconomic gap between the classes, but he can help solve the problem of interpersonal relationships.
Woo-nam gets sucked in and oohs and ahs over how Kang-jae is serving as family and friend to the lonely. Soon-kyu isn’t so easily satisfied and asks if he can’t live like normal people. Kang-jae guesses she means Ddak-yi and scoffs at the idea that he’s normal. They continue their petty fighting until they all end up smiling at the ridiculousness.
As everyone goes about their thankless jobs, Kang-jae narrates. What does living like others mean? Is it enough to blend in with your clothes and tastes, pretending to be the same? Are those others the ones with respectable jobs who meet decent people and go to decent schools and have decent thoughts?
If so, he tells his father, he wanted to join the ranks quickly and impressively. At work, Jung-soo sees Joon-hyuk buying Min-sung beauty appliances. Kang-jae thought success was being beside those who constantly move forward and finding that shortcut to “where others live.”
At home, Soon-kyu face falls when she sees a call from “pretty wife” pop up on Woo-nam’s phone. Kang-jae wonders if it’s bad to feel he can only be himself when he’s become one of the others.
While collecting boxes, Chang-sook sees an advertisement for Ah-ran’s new best-selling book. Elsewhere, Min-ja takes out her copy of Ah-ran’s first book and flips to the page with Bu-jung’s name as publisher.
Soon-kyu insists on having Woo-nam give Kang-jae a ride back. On the way, Soon-kyu spots Bu-jung walking down the street and has Woo-nam pull over. Kang-jae keeps his head down while Soon-kyu talks to Bu-jung, but his eyes dart up when Soon-kyu offers Bu-jung a ride.
Bu-jung and Kang-jae sit beside each other in awkward silence. They act as though they’re meeting for the first time when Soon-kyu introduces Kang-jae as her brother’s best friend. The whole ride, Kang-jae barely looks Bu-jung’s direction, but when they arrive at her apartment, his eyes are glued to her as she walks away.
As Bu-jung arrives home, we hear her suicide note in voiceover. She expected to have a small house outside of Seoul by the time she reached 40. A place with a yard, a study, and one or two kids. Maybe she’d even have her own book.
Kang-jae hears Jung-woo’s phone beep and sees a text from Bu-jung. She sent a copy of the post about Ah-ran and asks him to delete it. Bu-jung believed a life with those achievements wasn’t a failure. Even if she couldn’t achieve everything, she’d at least expected to accomplish one or two of them.
Chang-sook goes to a bookshop in search of Ah-ran’s latest book. He finds a copy and flips to the back to see Bu-jung isn’t the publisher. He turns and sees Min-ja doing the same thing.
Bu-jung wonders where it all went wrong and what she’s so afraid of. Chang-sook and Min-ja lock eyes as Bu-jung says that she was most afraid of having to admit all this to Chang-sook one day. “Father, in over forty years, I didn’t become anything. And in those forty years of becoming nothing, I think I disappeared along the way.”
She can’t bring herself to say what happened, and she’s not even sure if she knows. Others might think her reasons for wanting to die petty. At home, Kang-jae stares at Bu-jung’s text and thinks of her suicide note, as well as how Jung-woo said he and Bu-jung might die together.
Kang-jae pulls out his own phone and rereads the text Bu-jung sent him. In voiceover, Bu-jung apologizes to her father for not being able to save or protect herself.
Bu-jung receives a text from Kang-jae with a photo of his business card. His job involves people being able to contact him at any time for anything. “If you’re ever in a situation where you need someone, please contact me.”
Min-ja and Chang-sook sit at the bus stop. As always, Min-ja complains and blames Bu-jung for not enduring. She called the publishing house and learned Bu-jung resigned a few months back. Naturally, Min-ja assumes the worst of Bu-jung and thinks she just threw a temper tantrum and quit.
Chang-sook, on the other hand, is relieved that Bu-jung quit of her own accord. Bu-jung has worked non-stop for 20 years, so she’s due a rest. Chang-sook just feels guilty toward Jung-soo. He asks Min-ja not to bring this up to Bu-jung, and she agrees since she doesn’t want to have Bu-jung yell at her.
Kang-jae gets a text from Bu-jung. She’d like to book him that evening if he’s free. He types out a response, asking if he should book a motel room for that night. It takes him a minute of soul searching before he can press send. She responds quickly: “Okay.” Kang-jae tosses his phone aside and lets out a heavy sigh.
Jung-soo gets a text from Bu-jung saying she’ll be home late and might stay over at her dad’s. His love-life advisor Joon-hyuk convinces him that it’s natural for a working person to be home late sometimes, but Jung-soo still looks bothered.
While Bu-jung puts on makeup and gets dressed for the night, Kang-jae narrates that when he’s 40, he wants a high-rise apartment overlooking the city. A smart wife different from him in every way. A clean and pure kid. He wants to own a restaurant in Gangnam.
When he’s 40 and has failed to achieve all this and instead lives like his poor parents, “then I might become someone even worse than I am now.” Kang-jae texts the motel and room number to Bu-jung.
“Despite that, I still don’t understand why you wanted to give up on life, why you wanted to leave here, where you wanted to go.” He opens the door to the motel room where Bu-jung is already sitting on the bed.
He stands in the doorway, the two of them staring at each other across the room. “Where did you want to go?” Kang-jae wonders.
Oh, I don’t feel good about this at all. The whole last ten minutes made me feel so anxious. It looks like Kang-jae decided to follow Jong-hoon’s plan and try to get closer to Bu-jung by sleeping with her. Besides the obvious manipulation aspect, something about the way he knows all her deepest fears and secrets makes it feel extra traitorous. He’s even read her suicide letter! At least he offered his services professionally rather than trying to seduce her through their personal connection. Not that it absolves him, but that would have been a whole different level of betrayal. I really hope they don’t sleep with each other under these circumstances because that’s only going to end in pain for everyone.
I’m sort of surprised Bu-jung booked him, especially so quickly. I thought she’d be more hesitant, but she has been more proactive of late. Kang-jae looked disappointed when she said yes to the motel room. He struggled to even suggest it and was probably hoping she’d shoot it down so he couldn’t be the bad guy. Kang-jae thinking of himself as a bad person gives him an excuse to make bad decisions as if they’re inevitable, even when he’s tortured by them. Did he decide to act against his conscience this time for the money, or is he maybe trying to find out more about Jung-woo? I guess just asking Bu-jung what she knows would be too easy.
Jung-woo and Bu-jung’s connection grows more mysterious by the minute. Why did he have her suicide note and her manuscript? Even if he was investigating her, I’m not sure how he could’ve obtained those original materials unless Bu-jung gave them to him. In that flashback at the internet café, Jung-woo visited that “café hallelujah” counseling center page after Bu-jung said she couldn’t meet as planned. I’m guessing that’s where Bu-jung was treated for depression a year ago. Did Jung-woo go there too? And what’s with his remark to Ddak-yi that he and Bu-jung might die together? So many questions.
I find it interesting that Bu-jung and Kang-jae instinctively pretend not to know each other in public. He’s her father’s neighbor, so it’d be perfectly natural to acknowledge each other. Do they keep their relationship a secret because it feels like a private thing or because it feels somehow illicit? Of course, now it might actually become illicit. Up until this point, their connection has been a balm to them both, but I’m afraid if they go through with this, it could turn into another wound. They’ve been so hurt by the world, and I’d hate to see their relationship add to that.
- Premiere Watch: Lovers of the Red Sky, Human Disqualification
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