Human Disqualification: Episode 12
Our protagonists enjoy some time away from their worries but know this little escape can’t last forever. While they ponder things lost along life’s way, our ex-writer’s husband learns another of his wife’s secrets that sheds light on some of her recent behavior.
EPISODE 12: “Lost items”
Kang-jae stares at Bu-jung silently for a few moments after she asks if she can touch his face. Then he readily gives her permission. Bu-jung hesitates before reaching up and gently stroking his face.
He closes his eyes as her hand traces the lines of his face. After a minute, Bu-jung pulls her hand back and looks on the verge of tears. When she shifts away, Kang-jae turns toward her and asks why she’s sad. “Every time I see you, you’re sad.” What is she thinking?
Bu-jung realizes he’s right that she’s sad, not angry. Everyone always assumes she’s angry, so she believed it too. They see her and think, “She’s always angry, so be careful.” Kang-jae argues her father doesn’t think that, and neither does he.
She admits that Kang-jae’s words that everything about this time and place will disappear frightened her. Before that disappearing, she wanted to touch his face. When he agreed so quickly, she got scared. It’d been so long since she’d touched someone’s face, and she didn’t have the confidence.
“Thank you for saying I’m sad,” Bu-jung says. Slowly, Kang-jae reaches over and lightly brushes Bu-jung’s hair away from her face. She turns toward him, letting his hand rest against her face. They cautiously inch toward each other.
Kang-jae slowly wraps his arm around her and pulls her closer. They lie there, faces all but touching. When Kang-jae leans his face in, close enough to kiss, Bu-jung clutches his shirt in a death grip and turns her face.
She doesn’t pull away, but she puts a slight distance between them. They stay like that for several moments. Finally, Kang-jae gets up and goes outside for some air. Bu-jung stays unmoving.
Elsewhere, Ddak-yi searches for somewhere to buy bedding in the middle of the night but has no luck. Min-jung tells him to give it up – she’s been to enough markets at this hour to know bedding stores aren’t open. He wonders why she came with him, then. “I was curious where a good, honest person goes with his girlfriend at dawn.”
Min-jung knows he’s not the type to go to the typical late-night places like motels. He’d probably treat her like she’s precious, which she’s never experienced. Ddak-yi is quiet for a while and then asks the taxi driver to turn around.
At home, Woo-nam gets up in the early hours while Soon-kyu is still sleeping. He creeps into the kitchen and takes photos of the tea set, likely to buy a replacement cup for the one he broke. Woo-nam about breaks the rest of them when Ddak-yi walks in and startles him.
Ddak-yi doubts Woo-nam is the one who really broke the cup. Didn’t his ex get angry and throw it at the wall? Woo-nam denies it, but Ddak-yi saw the tea splattered on the wall. He cleaned it up so Soon-kyu wouldn’t see and tells Woo-nam to just buy Soon-kyu a new tea set.
After packing up some food from the fridge, Ddak-yi says he’s headed out again but acts cagey when Woo-nam asks where he’s going. Ddak-yi gets Woo-nam to sneak into Soon-kyu’s room and swipe some blankets while Min-jung waits outside.
Woo-nam catches Ddak-yi grinning and waving at Min-jung. He’s amazed at Ddak-yi’s brazenness and keeps trying to sneak a peek at Min-jung through the window. Ddak-yi thinks Woo-nam has lost his mind when he says she resembles Soon-kyu.
Woo-nam peeks through the curtains at Ddak-yi and Min-jung outside. He’s startled when Min-jung spots him and bows in greeting.
At the campsite, Kang-jae stands outside and catches his breath, touching his shirt in the place Bu-jung had gripped so tightly. Bu-jung comes out shortly after and brings him a blanket. He points out the line of people nearby photographing the night sky and says he exchanged numbers with someone who can send him some of the beautiful shots.
When the couple who lent them the tent passes by, Kang-jae amusedly shares that they were worried they’d have to wake him and Bu-jung since they needed their tent back. Now that it’s nearing sunrise, everyone is rushing to get back in time for work.
Kang-jae says that for his job, “I ride the pumpkin carriage many times a day.” He becomes a friend, a lover, or a family member, and then his client returns to reality while he remains in a fantasy.
Bu-jung asks if he’s ever thought of quitting. He has at times when he does something he shouldn’t or doesn’t want to get off the carriage. We see his interactions with Bu-jung and when he saw her mirage in the elevator. But then he gets on another carriage because it’s all he can do, because he needs the money, and because he’s lonely.
As they watch the sunrise, Kang-jae says it’s too late for him to go to college or get a regular job. Bu-jung argues he’s still young, but Kang-jae doesn’t want to compete and lose. Kang-jae calls himself a coward and asks if Bu-jung could be friends, rather than a client, with someone like him.
Meanwhile, Jung-soo checks the mail and sees a letter from the police department to Bu-jung. After some deliberation, he opens it. It’s a notice of Ah-ran’s lawsuit withdrawal. He thinks of how Bu-jung told him to turn off Ah-ran’s interview and other strange behaviors which now make sense.
At home, Chang-sook looks everywhere for his sock only to realize he put both socks on the same foot. In frustration, he takes them both off.
As Ddak-yi and Min-jung make their way back to Kang-jae’s apartment with the bedding, Min-jung asks if Kang-jae ever texted back. He didn’t. She finds it strange that he took off with no word while they were at his place.
Min-jung looks taken aback when Ddak-yi holds the elevator door for her, letting her go first. He offers to call Kang-jae, but Min-jung says she could call herself if she were that curious. She was just worried Ddak-yi hadn’t checked because of her since he thinks she likes Kang-jae. She knows he’s conflicted, and she is too. “Because you two are soulmates.”
When she corrects that she actually did know you could scatter ashes legally in the sea, he asks if she’s the type who hates losing. Bu-jung swears she’s telling the truth, but he grumpily says he doesn’t believe her. She grins as he walks ahead.
He wonders what her response to him talking about going to the mountain, the sea, and then home meant. Most people ask why they went there, but she just said it was a relief he returned home.
Kang-jae waves down a van and smiles triumphantly at Bu-jung as he opens the door for her. As they ride back, Bu-jung narrates that she did truly feel relieved because many people never make it home. Bu-jung looks over and sees Kang-jae dead asleep. She gently guides his head onto her shoulder, and soon they’re both asleep.
Meanwhile, Ah-ran gets the news that she’s being accused of plagiarizing her newest book. They took down the post from the book review site, but it’s already been up for a week. No reporters have gotten wind yet.
Apparently, Bu-jung was translating a Russian author’s essay to publish herself, but when she quit, the credit was given to someone else. A paragraph from that translated essay is in Ah-ran’s book, and it featured heavily in the promotional materials.
They’re interrupted by a staff member who informs Ah-ran the shoot in cancelled because Ji-na is hurt. She’s been hospitalized for cracked ribs and psychological trauma. Ah-ran immediately asks if it was Jin-seob. Their silence says it all. Irate, Ah-ran hurls her book across the room.
Soon-kyu gets her hair done at the salon and is embarrassed when the hairdresser sees her reading an article on sex life troubles. Just then, Min-ja shows up. She wants to look good for brunch with her friends.
While Chang-sook is out collecting boxes, he sees Min-ja walking by with her friends. He tries to hide, but Min-ja spots him. She pretends not to know him in front of her friends, and Chang-sook goes along with it.
Min-ja sneaks off to call Jung-soo, aghast to learn that Chang-sook is collecting boxes. Jung-soo says he does it for the exercise, but Min-ja doesn’t buy that. Do they give him an allowance? When Jung-soo says Bu-jung handles that, Min-ja reminds him that Bu-jung no longer has a job. How can she give her father anything?
Jung-soo berates her for not telling him about Bu-jung’s situation sooner. Min-ja angrily says that fine, everything is her fault. She gets a meal to go from the restaurant and goes back to look for Chang-sook. His boxes are still there, but he’s gone.
Meanwhile, Kang-jae and Bu-jung arrive at the bus station after their nap. Kang-jae observes there are two buses: one to Seoul and one to the sea. He plans to go visit his dad at the sea. Does she want to join him?
Before she can answer, Bu-jung gets a text from Jung-soo asking if her father is okay. Bu-jung tells Kang-jae she probably should go home. They both look disappointed, but Kang-jae smiles reassuringly.
Inside the little terminal, Bu-jung looks at the lost and found cubbies. She notes that if Kang-jae and his mom had come here, maybe they could’ve found the food she left on the bus. He’s amused when she says it’s regrettable. Bu-jung knows it’s silly, but she can’t help feeling the loss seeing the lost items.
When Bu-jung’s bus arrives, she and Kang-jae stare at each other regretfully. He watches her bus pull away and smiles at her through the window.
On the bus, Bu-jung fights tears. Back at the terminal, we see that Kang-jae did visit this station before and checked the lost and found with no success. Now Kang-jae boards his bus alone.
And they reluctantly head back to their respective realities. It was nice to see them both smiling and relatively light-hearted. For a while, they got to be somewhere else and take a break from their burdens. But the escape can only be temporary, as Kang-jae knows full well. His Cinderella analogy was enlightening about how he sees his life. He lives every day playing different roles for his clients who have a life to get back to while he merely moves into the next role. The roles may temporarily ease his loneliness, but in the end, it only makes the loneliness worse. It’s sad that he’s already given up on his life, assuming he’ll lose no matter what. Kang-jae’s fear of taking risks keeps him stuck in this cycle, and his fatalism gives him an excuse to not even try.
It’s amazing how simple things can have a major impact. Everyone has been treating Bu-jung as if she’s angry for so long that she believed them. Having someone see her sadness for what it is and not treat her like a ticking time bomb deeply affected her. People are always expecting Bu-jung to explain herself, so I can see why being around Kang-jae – who never asks that of her – brings her relief. Clearly, Kang-jae feels that sense of relief around her too. Although their escapist day can’t last forever, hopefully they can figure out how to bring some of that peacefulness to their regular lives.
Bu-jung might really be needing that peace soon in light of this new plagiarism issue. Ah-ran knows Bu-jung didn’t have anything to do with the accusation, so I don’t think she’ll court trouble there. It sounds like the publisher stole Bu-jung’s work on that translation, which might just free her from this scandal. Did Bu-jung even know they used it in Ah-ran’s book?
I understand that Jung-soo doesn’t want to push Bu-jung to talk about something she’s not ready to share, but I don’t think staying silent about everything he knows is helpful at this point. He’s learned about her job and now the lawsuit. If Bu-jung hasn’t mentioned anything to him by now, she probably doesn’t intend to do so at all. Pretending these issues don’t exist won’t help anyone. I hope he brings it up (gently) because they need to air things out between them. Their secrets are driving them further apart and stressing them both out.
For now, their marital issues might take a backseat because of Chang-sook. I was worried we were going the Alzheimer’s route, and it seems like that’s the case. Poor Chang-sook’s forgetfulness appears to be getting worse. Is he already aware of what’s happening? He mentioned going to the doctor’s several episodes ago, so maybe he’s known for a while. Although Min-ja made me mad by pretending not to know Chang-sook, I do think she cares about him. Her pride is the problem – she’s way too concerned with image. I have no doubt, though, that the family will rally around Chang-sook if he’s ill. If there’s one thing they have in common, it’s that they all love Chang-sook.
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