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Human Disqualification: Episode 11

Over the course of one night, several ambiguous pairs grapple with ill-advised feelings. Our leads take an unexpected journey to the past and learn more about each other than ever. Back home, our house cleaner’s husband comforts his grieving ex while our escort’s soulmate spends some quality time with his crush.

 
EPISODE 11: “Forbidden feelings”

Min-jung and Ddak-yi wait for Kang-jae to get back from his strangely long ramyeon run. Since Kang-jae isn’t answering his texts, Ddak-yi decides to go looking for him. He opens the door and finds the bag of ramyeon Kang-jae left.

At the police station, Bu-jung gets a text from Jung-soo saying he’ll be home late because he’s at a funeral. She’s still waiting on Kang-jae’s reply to her text.

Kang-jae rushes to the station and sees Bu-jung through the window, sitting alone. He fixes his hair in the bathroom before walking into the lobby. Bu-jung looks up, and they lock eyes. Kang-jae seems a bit nervous. He introduces himself to the officer as Bu-jung’s guardian and waits as they log his ID.

At the funeral, Jung-soo sits with his classmates and watches an exhausted Kyung-eun greet guests. She catches his eye and gives a small smile, looking relieved to see him.

Back at the station, Kang-jae fills out a form to release Bu-jung. The officer asks if he’s aware this is Bu-jung’s second time being reported by the reservoir. Kang-jae asks if he’s referring to the incident a year ago where she wrote a suicide note with other people.

The officer isn’t trying to accuse. He just wants to make sure people in her life are aware for her own safety. Bu-jung has remained completely silent this whole time, and Kang-jae has to prompt her when it’s time to leave.

It’s so late they’ve already missed the last bus. As they stand at the stop, Bu-jung comments that Kang-jae’s new haircut suits him. “I know,” he replies. Pfft.

When she asks what he saved her as in his contacts, Kang-jae tells her to guess. She assumes he has her listed as “client” and maybe labels his many clients with numbers. What number is she? Kang-jae doesn’t respond.

He found a late-night restaurant and asks if she wants to eat before they leave. As they walk to the restaurant, Kang-jae worries her high-heels are uncomfortable. Bu-jung says she’s fine and takes him off-guard when she asks what he’d do if she weren’t. Would he piggyback her?

Kang-jae stifles a grin and argues he wouldn’t piggyback her on a road with this steep of an incline. Bu-jung wonders why he bothered checking on her, then. Kang-jae stops walking and worriedly asks if she’s actually not okay, but she says she’s fine and keeps walking.

At the apartment, Min-jung eats but Ddak-yi waits for Kang-jae to get back. He still hasn’t responded to the text, but he did read it. Min-jung assumes he’s busy with clients after his long break and encourages Ddak-yi to leave him be. Min-jung doesn’t want to stay alone, so Ddak-yi texts Soon-kyu that he’s staying the night at Kang-jae’s.

After she closes the pharmacy, Soon-kyu walks home with Woo-nam. They reminisce about their college days and how needy Woo-nam was. When he says he couldn’t have survived college without her, Soon-kyu wonders what’s up with his sudden sentimentality. Woo-nam criticizes her for always asking questions rather than just going with the vibe. They bicker and banter as usual.

Kang-jae and Bu-jung arrive at the restaurant inside the train station, but it looks closed. When Kang-jae turns around, Bu-jung is gone. He panics and rushes outside, thinking of the officer’s words that it wasn’t the first time Bu-jung was at that reservoir.

He breathes a sigh of relief when he sees her standing by the tracks. Kang-jae makes his way over to her and finds her on her phone. She’s reading a text from Jung-soo letting her know he won’t be home tonight. Kang-jae asks if it’s Chang-sook or her husband telling her to come home, but Bu-jung says that’s not it.

Kang-jae walks along the tracks and asks Bu-jung when she last rode a train. She explains she used to take trips frequently for her old job. Kang-jae shares he hasn’t since he was a teenager when they cremated his father. That was the last time he left Seoul.

He suddenly realizes the view here looks familiar and wonders if this is the station from back then. At the time, he thought the lights in the distance were an amusement park. His mom said they were motels, and he shouldn’t look. Kang-jae was too innocent back then to get her meaning.

Bu-jung asks where he went on that train. Kang-jae says they went to the mountain, the sea, and then back home. He gets an alert that their cab is arriving in five minutes.

At the funeral, Jung-soo still waits for a reply from Bu-jung. He and Kyung-eun finally get a moment to talk. Their friends left already, but he didn’t want to leave without seeing her; Jung-soo feels bad about ignoring her calls and wanted to apologize in person.

He lets Kyung-eun rest in his car for a while. She warns him not to come tomorrow since her mom will be there. Kyung-eun worries that their friends find her pitiful and laments, “I’m ruined, Jung-soo.”

He shares something his mom told him when he was little. There are apparently road-side stalls that sometimes have signs nearby saying they buy gold teeth. It’s only when you notice and contemplate something like selling your teeth that you’re truly bad off.

Jung-soo sees those signs sometimes now that he’s looking for them. He hates that he feels strangely relieved to see them. Jung-soo pats Kyung-eun’s shoulder and says she’ll be okay.

Bu-jung and Kang-jae wait in the train station for their taxi. She asks how much she owes him for today. His business card doesn’t list a price. (So I guess he never charged her for their motel meeting.)

Kang-jae is quiet, even when she asks him again. Finally, he asks how much money she has. Bu-jung doesn’t have cash but can transfer the fee to him. How much is in her account? Bu-jung doesn’t respond.

He asks if she can read his mind. Bu-jung thinks he means he was thinking of what to charge her. Something like that. “I was thinking of money,” he says and walks outside.

Bu-jung follows him out a moment later, and he starts talking about how he had a friend who died because he felt empty. Signing that form earlier reminded him of when he signed the form after his friend’s death.

What does it mean to feel empty? Did his friend feel empty because of money problems? And why did Bu-jung want to die when she’s well-studied, had a steady job, and has her father and husband? Why does she feel empty? Money doesn’t seem to be the problem.

That’s what he was thinking about earlier, not what to charge her. Bu-jung shares that it was the same for her. She wasn’t really thinking about what to pay him or why he does this work. “Why did he come all this way? He probably erased my number. Maybe he was worried about me. Does he pity me because of my father?” Those were her thoughts.

After hearing him talk about his dad, she wondered why he and his mother went to the mountain and the sea that day. She had the thought that she and Kang-jae are similar and wanted to treat him well. Bu-jung asked about his fee earlier because she didn’t feel she had anything else to give him.

Kang-jae asks if there’s anywhere she wants to go. “Should we go to the mountain, then to the sea, then home?” It’s okay if she wants to just go home. There’s no pressure between friends.

On his way home, Jung-soo recalls his mom sniffing out Kyung-eun’s perfume and opens his car window. Min-ja calls Jung-soo after waking up from a dream where her teeth fell out (a bad omen). In her dream, she fought with some woman at the bus stop, but the woman then turned into Jung-soo’s father.

He assures her he’s okay and says he thinks Bu-jung is too. Min-ja scolds him for not knowing whether his wife is fine, but he argues married couples don’t know everything about each other. He lies that he’s on his way home from working late and hangs up.

Bu-jung finally texts Jung-soo back to say she’s staying over at her father’s. She decides to go to the mountains with Kang-jae, and as they walk in the dark, he tells her about the day he and his mom cremated his father. He remembers seeing an ad for an observatory at this 24-hour hamburger place with his mom.

After greeting a group of friendly hikers who come up behind them, Kang-jae continues his story. He and his mom didn’t have any black clothes for his father’s funeral, so they had to buy some. He was so excited to get new clothes that he forgot about his dad for a moment.

Kang-jae had wondered how he’d live without his father. What would he do after school if he didn’t visit the hospital? When he realized not going to the hospital meant free time to take trips to the mountains like this, he thought of it as his dad’s gift to him.

Kang-jae tells Bu-jung that all sorts of random thoughts popped into his head at that time. He casually moves her to the outside of the road as a car drives up behind them. Kang-jae recalls that it was snowing when he and his mom were last here.

They make it to the observation spot at the top. Kang-jae says she might cry at the sight of the stars – his mother did. When he asked her why she’d cried, she told him it was because she left her food on the bus. He was naïve enough to believe her for a while.

Kang-jae and Bu-jung stand together and stare up at the star-filled sky. His eyes fill with tears as he remembers being here with Mi-sun that day. He’d held his father’s urn and stood beside his mother while she cried.

While Jung-soo sits at home and contemplates calling Bu-jung, she and Kang-jae make their way to the observatory lobby. Kang-jae tries the doors, but they’re locked. They head over to the camping site nearby where a kind woman comes over with blankets and even offers them her spare tent.

Meanwhile, Min-jung and Ddak-yi stay up talking at Kang-jae’s place. Ddak-yi tells her about the house he’s lived in since he was a kid. She says an old, two-story house exactly fits the vibe she got from him when they met.

He presumes that means he’s boring, but she chides him for being greedy. He should leave the exciting life to “kids like us.” When she offers to share the bed, Ddak-yi dejectedly observes she must be sure nothing will happen. Min-jung responds that thinking nothing will happen makes her heart flutter more.

When Min-jung complains that the blankets smell like Kang-jae, Ddak-yi hops up to go buy new ones. She doesn’t want to be alone, so they head out for some late-night shopping together.

Outside the observatory, Kang-jae and Bu-jung take shelter from the cold in their borrowed tent. Bu-jung brings up the police station and how the officer asked if Kang-jae knew she’d done this before. Kang-jae explains he just made something up after sensing the vibe.

Bu-jung clarifies she’s not asking about how he knew. She just wants him to know she regrets what she did back then. It’s so mortifying she can’t even tell anyone.

Bu-jung answers his earlier question about why she feels empty. “It’s because I didn’t become anything.” She pretended not to be greedy while doing bad things and wanting recognition from everyone. It wasn’t that she wanted to become anything specific – she just wanted to become something.

Kang-jae asks what she wants to do now. Before, Bu-jung was so embarrassed she wanted to end her life. Now, she wants to wait it out. Kang-jae is quiet for a bit and then asks if she’s okay with him lying down next to her.

Lying there, Kang-jae muses that this tent looks like a pumpkin. Just like the pumpkin carriage, everything about this moment will disappear in the morning. Are they going to the sea later? Or home?

Bu-jung says she’s not sure, so Kang-jae suggests they bet on it. She has that folded up 50,000 won bill in her purse, doesn’t she? They’ll use it to bet, him on not going, her on going.

When Bu-jung doesn’t respond, he assumes she fell asleep and tells her goodnight. Bu-jung turns toward Kang-jae and stares at him. “Can I touch your face?” she asks. Kang-jae opens his eyes and slowly turns to look at her.


 
COMMENTS

This is the first time we’ve gotten a whole episode of Bu-jung and Kang-jae together. Bu-jung seems a lot more comfortable now. She used to barely talk, but now she’s much more forward and shares her thoughts with Kang-jae more readily. She’s not the type to easily trust, so it felt like she was scoping him out for a while before deciding whether to open up to him. I’m glad that Kang-jae opened up this time and talked about his dad’s death. Hopefully, recreating the trip he and his mom took after the funeral provided the catharsis he needed.

One thing I really appreciate about Bu-jung and Kang-jae’s relationship is that neither of them push. They’re respectful of each other’s boundaries and accept whatever the other is willing to give. I’ve really enjoyed the natural progression of their relationship; nothing ever feels forced or rushed between them. They’re free to take their time coming out of their shells and trusting each other.

Ryu Joon-yeol and Jeon Do-yeon have such great chemistry which is vital for this drama to work. There’s always this tension and sense that there’s so much more beneath the surface. I appreciate when shows don’t fill the empty space with chatter but let what’s left unsaid simmer. Kang-jae and Bu-jung don’t always say a lot, but so much passes between them. That goes for all the relationships in this drama – they’re nuanced and ambiguous in the best way. For most of these characters, it’s listening for what’s not said that really matters.

On another note, Min-jung and Ddak-yi seem to be getting closer, which I can’t help feeling worried about. While I do think she likes Ddak-yi, she also takes advantage of him a lot. We’ve never seen her do anything for him, although she’s always getting him to do things for her. He’s an adult who can make his own decisions, so if he’s okay with that type of relationship, that’s on him. But I don’t see how a lopsided relationship like that can end well. In this sense, I see a resemblance between Ddak-yi and Soon-kyu; both of them are givers in relationships. I just hope Ddak-yi can stand up for himself enough to not get strung along.

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Thank you for such a quick review!
Some might find this type of show a bit slow, but I enjoy it alot. I loved that you could feel his nervousness when he saw her for the first time in awhile, he seemed self conscious about his haircut for the first time, ha.

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It's weird how this show avoids the direct questions and uses convolutions, it's kinda frustrating.

Kang-jae looks like Samson, he became vulnerable without his flamboyant hair :P

Min-jung and Ddak-yi's scenes bring nothing to the story... I don't understand why his sister's plot is important for the writer neither.

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After watching this episode I joking said I felt like I was in the Yada Yada episode of Seinfeld.
You know, when George's new girlfriend tells stories and then says, "yada yada" over the middle bit. Everyone's going "yada yada" over the parts that are actually important.

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Every so often I check out comments on shows I'm not watching to see if I'm missing anything. Apparently not but thanks for the laugh.
Remind me, was the yada, yada character Delores?

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I think whoever in not watching this drama is really missing something very precious. Just saying :D

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I don't remember. Although I do remember not understanding the Dolores episode because Australians pronounce a certain word differently. Until I realised that the whole thing was a head scratcher.

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Also re the hair, this relates to the line in the song Hallelujah which is, She tied you to her kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair and... I don't get it. I don't. I mean I get why he cut his hair and it's interesting you found the obvious Samson allusion. But in terms of how it relates to that lyric, I don't get it. It's like the writer just went "and at some point he has to cut his hair because of the song..."

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I didn't even remember the song lyrics, people so often change their hair or appearance in some way after a break-up or disappointment in life

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I thought of Samson too, as well as the line in the song, but I'm not sure how far you can push it. Cutting his hair definitely signalled a change for him, but does it fit the logic of the song? There's been no reference to the song in 11 or 12, but I won't be surprised if it's revisited later.

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He will renounce to his title of the King of the Night? :p

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I really miss the long hair... sigh!

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To be honest, I thought I was watching an older, jaded Jung-hwan this episode.

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I still love it, especially as they inch closer to each other and bring each other back to life. It's slow, it's tentative, it's a finely detailed progression: the shared food, walking together up the mountain, talking about themselves, soon the touch...

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Thanks for the recap.

I don’t have much to say other than RJY is insanely gorgeous. His little smirks and teasing smile made me feel things.
And it was nice to see him talk. And open up.

And I can’t stand Min Jung. Why is she in Kang Jae’s house? Wasn’t she moving to some place. Is she trying to belong somewhere? Or does she think she and Kang Jae are the same?

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I think the point is that she doesn't belong anywhere. In a world where Son Na-eun isn't playing Min-jung, maybe we're supposed to feel sympathy towards a person who lacks any sort of roots to ground her identity. She has no home and her job forces her to cycle through different roles and relationships. It kind of makes sense why she'd find appeal in someone like Ddak who grew up in a single 2-story home his whole life. But we'll never know since Min-jung just comes off as a leech. I won't say more, otherwise @eazal might stop watching this drama from all this Son Na-eun/Min-jung talk.

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I'm so in love with the drama I just look aside anytime Son Na Eun is on screen. Would any other actress add something interesting to Min Jung story line? Yes, it could. But with the cards we are given (Son Na Eun), the most attractive thing about this character is how it will affect Ddak-yi, and thus KangJae.
I'm grateful her part is really minor.
Her acting skills haven't improved at all.

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They are similar, but their financial situation is very different. Kang-jae is paid a lot more for his services than she is. What a surprise :(

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I also got the impression she is new? She has only started getting her own gigs recently. May be she was helping out Gang Tae and he was paying her for the role. But now she is trying to make her own living without depending on others to give her a job.

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I vaguely recall Min-jung stating that her and Kang-jae are the same, just the male and female version. Oddly, that's around the time I started really disliking her.
I understood they had gone over to Kang-jae's house to grab a few things he wasn't using. But I really don't understand how that turned into her sleeping in his bed.

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I can’t tell if she likes Kang-Jae or if she is just trying to see if he will like her or if she is making Ddak Ki jealous and enjoying the show.
I agree, she had no business sleeping over in someone else’s house unless she needed him to move her things. My feel is that she wants to know where he went and why he left so suddenly. And the only way to know that is via Ddak Ki.
I also don’t like how passive Ddak Ki is when it comes to her. He just doesn’t tell her anything.

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It might be all of it. Personally I would have backed off if most of my interactions with a "friend" had them telling me to mind my own business. But her fixation remains quite strong.

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I get the impression that half of what she does is just to see how Just will react. How will he react if I get into KJ's bed? How will he react if I tell him the blankets small like KJ? How will he react if...
And then she just follows him around observing him. And since his reactions border often on judgemental Nice Guy, I can't say the whole thing is my favourite thing to watch. It's not like he genuinely likes her, he just likes how unconventional his life becomes around her because he's bored.

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Totally agree.
Besides SNE doesn't help.

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My thoughts during the last scene: Jeon Do-yeon is really good at her job. Like, I feel like I'm watching a Jeon Do-yeon look-alike play Bu-jeong, as if she removed her own acting signature and inhabited someone else to play this role.

I disagree with @quirkycase .. Min-jung has exactly two facial expressions towards Ddak in this drama. One is when she wants a favor and the other, she looks as if she's calculating whether or not she can overcome her total lack of interest and date him anyways since she's starving to be treated like a person. It could be the case though that the character in the script is developing feelings for Ddak, but nothing on my screen has led me to think that yet.

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She definitely knows he likes her and that he is jealous of her liking Gang Tae. And to me it always looks like she is taking advantage of that fact. And the actor playing her is not doing any favor to that role.

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Yes, same. I can't see her interest in Ddaki, except to use him. Min-jung only perks up when its about Kang-jae.

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Don't get me started on how Naeun doesn't help her character at all...

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This might be random.. Watched Jeon Do Yeon in one of the videos in ODG channel, talking to a 9-year old girl, and she plays her character (Bu Jeong) when she spoke with the kid.... it's a really nice conversation between a 9yo, and a 40 yo woman who feels she doesn't achieve anything in life....

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KT is a chatter, I'm curious if that is because of his job or because he is nervous or even because he is comfortable. With his mother and friends he barely says anything, but with BJ, it is like he is trying to fill the silence, but at the same time not. He tells her all types of things and I think it helps that BJ is a good listener, even when she is quiet her face is active. The casting for this drama was spot on, the two of them together is enough for me. I honestly don't much care for his friends, whether they stay or go is unimportant to me.

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It's so good to have those two together on the screen for so long. I love the way they talk... the careful words, the careful way the listen to eachother. And how they really try to understand eachother. It helps a lot that the two actors are simply perfect in these roles.
And I'm in love with the OST... when that sad piano piece starts I get goosebumps and I fee like crying.
I'm absolutely in love with this drama. For me it's the best drama of 2021.

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Agree with you 100%!

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The OST is music well done in a drama.

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Yes! They are running away - just a little bit, nothing too far or too risky, it can still be covered up with a little lie. On the way to the mountain and on the mountain is nobody who knows them, they are free from their obligations and ties. And they talk and open up to each other, because nobody who should not hear, is around. The pumpkin tent is a safe, but almost unreal sanctuary. Kang-jae talks a lot, Bu-jung not so much, but she smiles a lot. More of that, please, going forward!

Min-jung is not very nice character, very calculating, but on closer look she is in a very sad situation, too. She has no home, can she not afford one? It looks all very precarious with no safety net. Kang-jae is not reliable any more, but Ddak-yi is. I don't really like her, but I'll give her some slack.

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I'd be willing to cut her some slack if she would just steer clear of kang-tae, she's trouble and he knows it, it seems to drive her nuts that he is the only one that looks past the packaging to see the real her, and doesn't like what he sees, just like he sees Bu- jeong real self, more so than anyone in her circle, and connects with her.

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I like the idea of them running away, little bit by little bit, but I'm afraid that they won't be able to escape completely. In fact I'm worried about where they'll end up. Can they reconcile themselves and each other to their individual sense of failure and lack of self worth. I am also worried about where Min-jung's provocations will end up. I do have sympathy for her, but who knows what she will do for the sake of her self- preservation.

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Its always heartwarming that Bu-jung can make Kang-jae visibly nervous when nothing else seems to get at him.

I kinda want to know more about Woo-nam, why he split with his wife, and the friendship with Soon-kyu to understand what's going on with him. Is he just a friend who is sad he made his friend sad or does he like Soon-kyu more than that and his split is just complicated?
Still, he can hang out in the dog-house for a bit more.

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Nah, i have the same question as well regarding Woo-nam and Soon-kyu's relationship.. In the first episode, Ddak Yi told his noona to (something like legalize her relationship with Woo-nam); but the other days when Soon-kyu took out her Buckingham palace's tea cups, she said that it's her wedding gift from Ddak Yi. Is she also married (with another man) once? I may miss something here..

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I believe the tea set was going to be her wedding present when she married, but she never did.

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My heart was jumping when she asked Gang Jae if she could touch his face.. what she thinks of Gang Jae? it's really hard to guess...

I'm loving this slow pace of this drama. It doesn't rush. The deep and random conversation somehow reminds me of Haruki Murakami's novels....

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I have nothing substantial to add to this detailed recap. However, I think the supporting cast is really weak. Yoo Su-bin is a good discovery - I thought he could only do comedy (which he does really well!); he's expanded his range here. And Park Byung-eun is a solid actor who's not used well enough in dramaland. Everyone else has disappointed me on the acting front.

As regards the story, well, I'm a little lost, tbh. This would have made for a better movie than a drama, IMO. As a drama, I find that it doesn't lend itself to too much analysis, and doesn't have the layers it tries to pretend it has.

But I'm being unnecessarily harsh. This is a show I haven't ff-ed yet. That's usually a good sign. And I'm still watching through till the end, to see where it heads with everything.

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I agree with you. I found this episode particularly wheel-spinning. But unlike you I am ff'ing. I really just don't care that much about Just or his sister.

I feel like this is a good 2 hour arthouse film that's nonetheless still going after 12 hours.

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I agree that Just and his sister's stories are not pushing the story fwd. I just think YSB did a good job stepping out of his comfort zone (of comedy) here. That scene in the cab in an earlier episode, where he breaks down "just because" was well done I thought.

And ya, some of the dialogue and the movement is deliberately slowed down, unnecessarily so. I still want to know how they're going to close it. Ideally, everyone should line up for appointments at a mental health clinic...

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I am still enjoying this show. I love the progression of the leads. But, at ep 11/12 I shouldn’t still be asking questions and guessing . I should have a little more information on either the sister or her room mate or Min Jung or the husbands past affair or the Ae Ran issue. It’s like they forgot to write their story or forgot to tell us. I don’t want all of this dumped to me in the last 2 episodes. By now I wish I knew BY’s past and what exactly happened at her job. Or may be ep 12 hinted on that (a repeat of what happened). We will talk in ep 12 recap.

The characters that I connect with are the ones that can act. the leads and Byung-Eun. So that shows that they are relying on actors to convey things rather than the script. And that is very hard when you don’t have solid actors.

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Absolutely - yes to everything! Ae ran!!! That gigolo sidekick of hers vanished suddenly - where did he go? Also, the whole Ae ran story has kind of died its own death, it feels. The ends are not tied together properly, and don't show signs.

There's too much airtime for the noona and her bf, and the husband and his ex. I have no interest. Just and Min Jung's story - I can still understand (though I'm not attracted by their story), because of the 'mirroring' and the 'soulmates' angle. But it's not well told. :/

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I think the Ae Ran issue has passed. I think BJ has probably found some healing by talking about it to someone. In a way, meeting Gang Tae was therapeutic for her. She also backed off after the police station incident (which makes sense).
Lol, I forgot about the sidekick. yeah he was missing.
Min Jungs role needed a far better actor. She is just ruining it for me. I feel like she is faking every emotion.

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This is why I jokingly referred to the "yada yada" episode of Seinfeld. I feel like the writers have gone, "And yada yada now they're all depressed".

And I get that not everybody has a reason to be depressed. You can be sad for no reason and walking around in the world looking like a human but feeling completely empty inside. But as a narrative it needs to give us something to grab onto, especially when it's 3/4 over.

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A drama in which nothing really happens is exactly my thing, as you know, but I agree with you about both PBE (he's been redeemed in my eyes after getting to my nerves in Oh my baby) and YSB (who would have benefited from another actress in MJ role... well, we all would have...).

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