Human Disqualification: Episode 13
Everyone has hidden scars and fears that drive them. Sometimes, that pain blinds you to the pain of those around you, and sometimes, it brings the pain of others into sharper focus. Several of our characters face aspects of their pasts and presents that have come to define them, for good or bad, and recognize that they aren’t the only ones struggling.
EPISODE 13: “Strangers”
As Woo-nam prepares for his shift, he ignores a call from his ex-wife and changes her name from “Pretty Wife” to Kang Ji-yeon. He learns from one of his colleagues that Kyung-eun’s husband died the night prior. Kyung-eun wasn’t there when he passed.
She visited faithfully every day for the two years he was at their hospital, but she happened to be home sick the night he died. Woo-nam and the nurse recall how Kyung-eun lovingly took care of her husband and would often stay past visiting hours in the lobby looking drained.
At the funeral, Kyung-eun frustratedly listens to her mother’s callous comments and nagging. She berates Kyung-eun for not wearing makeup and generally wasting her beauty with her “mediocre life.” Her mother’s composure slips, and she begins to cry.
Elsewhere, Min-ja looks for Chang-sook while holding the boxes he left behind. She finally spots him in an alley and asks him to eat lunch with her. As they eat, Min-ja shares that she had four miscarriages before having Jung-soo.
Min-ja sometimes is startled by how much Jung-soo looks like his father. After her husband died in an accident when Jung-soo was little, she didn’t know what to do. She and little Jung-soo left her in-laws’ house with nothing and ran away to Seoul.
She never told Jung-soo about all the types of work she did then like cleaning, babysitting, and food delivery. Min-ja even sold her own golden-crowned teeth. Her husband had secretly saved up to pay for them for her – his family wouldn’t have approved, apparently. Selling them made her even happier than getting them in the first place.
Min-ja brings up Chang-sook’s box collecting, worrying that the work is too hard. Chang-sook agrees he should quit soon. He muses that Seoul makes a person greedy. After moving here, he wanted to be able to help the kids out with money like Min-ja does.
He moved into Bu-jung’s old place and didn’t find out until a couple months later how expensive the rent was. Chang-sook then felt the need to work but struggled to earn even a portion of that monthly fee. He sighs at his greed and then gets up to continue collecting boxes.
As Bu-jung arrives back in Seoul, Ah-ran checks her phone, but there’s no public mention of the plagiarism claims yet. Ah-ran thinks back to when Bu-jung came to her book signing and remarked that Ah-ran hadn’t changed a word of her writing. She contemplates what Bu-jung meant when she asked her to keep her promise.
Ah-ran gets a notification on her phone and checks the text. She sees several photos of Ji-na’s injuries and slams the phone down in a panic. After collecting herself, Ah-ran forces herself to look at each of them.
In a flashback, Jin-seob casually gets dressed while a bloodied and bruised Ah-ran sits hyperventilating and crying on the bathroom floor beside him. The TV is on in the background, commentators gushing about how Jin-seob has been nursing Ah-ran back to health after her breast cancer surgery.
At home, Bu-jung runs into the little boy who lives on her floor and offers him one of the three packs of strawberries she bought. She gets a call from her boss informing her that Ji-na has been hospitalized, and Ji-na asked for Bu-jung to come to the hospital.
At work, Joon-hyuk is the one asking Jung-soo for his relationship wisdom this time. The cousin who got married a few months back is now fighting with her new husband because he lied to her. They dated for three years, but now she feels like he’s a stranger.
Jung-soo argues no couple can know everything about each other. Plus, didn’t his cousin lie too? She hired stand-in friends for the wedding, after all. Joon-hyuk chides Jung-soo for being small-minded. He wonders if there are problems at home again.
Joon-hyuk proceeds to list all the problems he’s aware of which is surprisingly comprehensive. He even knows about Chang-sook’s dementia, that Jung-soo has been meeting up with his ex, and that Jung-soo and Bu-jung haven’t sleep together in a while.
Jung-soo is shocked that Joon-hyuk has gathered all that from the bits and pieces he’s told him, but Joon-hyuk isn’t done. He also surmises there’s a secret between Jung-soo and Bu-jung, although he’s not sure what it is. Knowing Jung-soo, he condescendingly assumes it’s something trivial.
When Ah-ran makes a surprise visit to Akira, Jong-hoon overhears her on the phone talking about the photos of Ji-na. Ah-ran is livid that Jin-seob is the one that told Ji-na to take those photos and yells that he can take care of this himself; whether he’s sued is his own problem.
Meanwhile, Min-jung takes a photo of Ddak-yi dead asleep on Kang-jae’s couch. She sends it to Kang-jae and asks where he is. Kang-jae smiles at the photo and sends a picture of the view outside the bus window.
He calls Min-jung and says he’s going far away. When she asks who he’s with, he says it’s someone she doesn’t know. Min-jung can see from the reflection in the photo he sent that he’s alone. Kang-jae complains about her invading his privacy and hangs up.
Min-jung gets mad he hung up on her and calls back. Kang-jae picks up, clearly enjoying messing with her. When she asks when he’ll be home, Kang-jae hangs up on her again.
Kang-jae looks out his window at the sea and thinks about his father who waited for him everyday in that bed. What were his last thoughts?
We flash back to when Kang-jae and Mi-sun came to the sea. After they ate, Kang-jae had written a note to his father on a napkin, telling him not to hurt anymore and to take as long of a trip as he wanted; he’d be waiting.
Now, Kang-jae wonders where his father wanted to go. Maybe he hadn’t wanted to go to the mountain or the sea – maybe he’d just wanted to come home. We see young Kang-jae scattering his father’s ashes out at sea while his mother cried. He then dropped the note to his father in the sea. Later, Chang-kyu had showed up at the beach to drive them home.
That thought that his father had just wanted to go home tormented Kang-jae so much he ran from that day. He still doesn’t fully comprehend what death or life is. Back at Kang-jae’s apartment, Ddak-yi stumbles upon the box with Jung-woo’s things. “One day, I’ll come to understand that dying is a part of living,” Kang-jae narrates.
Meanwhile, Jung-soo slips the police notice back into their mailbox before heading up to the apartment. He’s startled by the little neighbor boy who informs him that his mother already bought strawberries but thanks for the offer. Jung-soo is naturally confused, but the boy runs off after conveying his message.
When he gets inside, Jung-soo finds Bu-jung asleep on the couch. He draws the curtains and lets her sleep. On the beach, Kang-jae gets a text from Mi-sun. It’s a video showing off her new, no-longer-flickering light. He smiles while grumpily complaining that the light wasn’t worth a video.
Elsewhere, another mother-son pair deals with a light fixture situation. Jung-soo visits his mom and changes her ceiling light. Min-ja engages in her favorite hobby of complaining and wonders what the point of being tall and handsome is if it takes this long to change a lightbulb.
She grumbles that Bu-jung couldn’t even bother to show up for the kimchi she made them, but Min-ja is touched when she finds a health supplement in the containers Jung-soo returned to her. When she tells him to buy Chang-sook some too, Jung-soo suspects she’s pitying Chang-sook because she found out he collects boxes. She smacks him in irritation and smacks him again when he complains her kimchi is salty.
Bu-jung meets her boss in a café to go over her upcoming visit to the hospital. Her boss explains that, although they aren’t a care facility, they do offer a hospital accompaniment service for VIPs like Ji-na.
Elsewhere, Kang-jae takes a job as a stand-in to deliver a resignation letter. He relays the woman’s message to her boss that she doesn’t ever want to see his ugly face again and then goes to clean out her desk. Pfft.
While he waits at the bus stop with the contents of someone else’s desk, Kang-jae gets a text from the friend he made at the camp site. She sent several pictures from that day, including a couple candid shots of him and Bu-jung stargazing.
He sends the photos along to Bu-jung with the message, “The galaxy arrived, so I’m sending it to you.” She thinks back to the bus station before she left. She’d apologized for calling him out here and then leaving for Seoul alone.
Kang-jae smiled at her genuine worry. He pulled out his phone and said he can’t share what he saved her as in his contacts before, jokingly calling it a trade secret, but she can choose what he saves her as this time. She asked him to just use her name, so that’s what he did.
He cheekily said he’d collect that 50,000 won from the bet next time. “See you in Seoul,” he called out as she left for her bus. Bu-jung paused and looked back at him before heading on her way.
In the hospital, Bu-jung and her boss are told to wait in the lobby for another 30 minutes because a big-name celebrity is coming to visit Ji-na. (It’s Ah-ran, isn’t it?) Her boss has to leave, so Bu-jung is on her own for the appointment.
Before she goes, her boss asks if Bu-jung went on a trip. She glimpsed the photos earlier and assumes they’re from a family trip. Bu-jung says they’re just photos a friend sent.
Meanwhile, Jong-hoon goes to pay a visit to Kang-jae, locating his apartment from the surveillance photos Manager Ahn sent him. This can’t be good. He’s surprised when Min-jung opens the door.
At the hospital, Bu-jung gets a call from her old job but ignores it. They send a text saying there’s a plagiarism issue. Bu-jung looks up from her phone to see Ah-ran walking in. They stare at each other in surprise and apprehension.
Jong-hoon making a trip to Kang-jae’s apartment can’t be a good sign; he’s always just texted or called Kang-jae before. Seeing as he had to refer to his surveillance photos to find Kang-jae’s apartment, it’s safe to say this is his first time visiting. I doubt it’s a social call, and whatever he wants from Kang-jae is likely not good news. I’d be surprised if he already found out about Kang-jae and Bu-jung’s little trip, but who knows? We know relatively little about Jong-hoon. His motivations and goals have never been clear, which makes him unpredictable.
This episode focused a little more on side characters like Min-ja. I’ve never liked her but learning more about her past did make her a lot more sympathetic. Knowing she had four miscarriages herself helps explain why she’s so hard on Bu-jung. She struggled to have Jung-soo, lost her husband at a young age, and had to raise her son with nothing. Given all that, I can see how she’d view Bu-jung as spoiled. But suffering can’t be quantified so simply. Even if she feels Bu-jung has it much better than she did, that doesn’t mean Bu-jung’s suffering is less.
Everyone suffers in their own way, and it’s impossible to know all a person is going through psychologically or behind closed doors. Just look at Ah-ran who seems to have it all according to the public eye but has lived with a monster for years. I seriously need someone to publicly out Jin-seob for being trash. Not only is he a horrible human but the way the public venerates him as this perfect husband makes it that much worse. And it’s not even a secret in the industry! Everyone on set appears to know that he and Ji-na are in a relationship and that he’s the one who beat her so severely she had to be hospitalized. The way some people are protected due to greed is disgusting.
It goes to show that people are willing to do some crazy things for selfish gain. On a much less severe note, I keep finding myself surprised by the myriad of things people hire Kang-jae to do. Hiring someone as a fake date to take to an event or to keep you company because you’re lonely is one thing, but hiring someone to hand in your resignation letter? To give fake speeches at your wedding? I think the most audacious example was the woman who hired Kang-jae to be her fake fiancé at a family member’s funeral. The drive to appear successful and “normal” can be a scary thing.
- Premiere Watch: Lovers of the Red Sky, Human Disqualification
- Meet the two lost and dejected souls at the center of Human Disqualification
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- Jeon Do-yeon, Ryu Joon-yeol to star in JTBC drama Human Disqualification