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.
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.
- Premiere Watch: Lovers of the Red Sky, Human Disqualification
- Meet the two lost and dejected souls at the center of Human Disqualification
- Jeon Do-yeon and Ryu Joon-yeol brought together by sadness in new promos for Human Disqualification
- Jeon Do-yeon, Ryu Joon-yeol to star in JTBC drama Human Disqualification