Human Disqualification: Episode 14
Our stand-in finds himself daring to hope for once and letting his heart guide him. He spends much of the episode incessantly checking his phone, hoping to hear from a certain ex-writer. But she’s a little distracted after again becoming embroiled with her least favorite person on planet earth.
EPISODE 14: “Human disqualification”
Right after Bu-jung reads the text about the plagiarism issue, she looks up to see Ah-ran staring at her in surprise. Ah-ran sends her team into the room first and looks like she has something to say to Bu-jung, but she doesn’t get the chance.
Jin-seob comes out of Ji-na’s room and says a quiet “I’m sorry” as he passes Ah-ran. Then, Bu-jung’s boss comes out and says she’s postponed her next appointment so she can help Bu-jung. Ah-ran quietly walks past Bu-jung and heads into Ji-na’s room.
While Jong-hoon wanders around Kang-jae’s apartment, Min-jung hides in the bathroom and tries to get ahold of Kang-jae, but he’s not answering his phone. She then tries calling Ddak-yi (who for some reason has a broken leg … when did that happen?), but he’s busy taking the civil service exam.
Jong-hoon gets photos of Ah-ran and Jin-seob at the hospital and sends Manager Ahn to keep an eye on the situation. He then snoops around Kang-jae’s and finds the box of Jung-woo’s things. He opens the envelope with Bu-jung’s materials and sees the photo of her with Hee-sun and Min-soo, along with her suicide letter.
Meanwhile, Kang-jae drops off the cleared-out desk contents with his client’s father and collects his fee. The father looks exhausted and asks what his daughter’s coworkers were like. Kang-jae replies they were just your average office workers.
The client’s father knows the hardships of working in an unappreciative office, but he supposes it’s harder when you’re mentally ill. His daughter went from loving her job to hating it, and now her life is empty.
Kang-jae sees the missed calls and texts from Min-jung, but he doesn’t reply. Instead, he opens his chat with Bu-jung and begins writing a message. “Thanks to you, I feel like I’ve become a better person. With that cheerful heart, I returned home safely. How have you been?”
Bu-jung puts on her uniform and as she tucks her hair behind her ear, she’s reminded of Kang-jae that night in the tent. While she prepares for her job, Kang-jae narrates that the thought of seeing her again in Seoul and validating their feelings makes him excited and terrified.
“Is this reality, or am I in a fantasy and unable to return to reality?” Kang-jae isn’t sure, but he wants to trust his feelings. He erases the long text and instead sends a simple message saying he got home safely. Although he writes she doesn’t need to reply, Kang-jae doesn’t mean it. He smiles and wonders if she’s doing well.
In Ji-na’s room, Ah-ran smooths things over with a journalist, calling the abuse a fight during acting practice where Jin-seob got too “method.” Jin-seob comforts a crying Ji-na in the background and promises to be better. Ugh, this is hard to watch.
Elsewhere, Jin-seob gets a call from Kyung-eun who’s waiting near his work. She knows it’s his day off but asks him to come anyway. Jin-seob washes his face and puts on nicer clothes, lying to Min-ja that he has a work situation.
At Kang-jae’s, Jong-hoon tries to engage Min-jung in conversation, but she’s not feeling particularly friendly. The only info she offers is that she and Kang-jae are business partners. Min-jung guesses Jong-hoon is here because Kang-jae hasn’t been picking up his phone for the past four days. Ah, so we’ve skipped ahead a few days.
Ddak-yi shows up and is surprised to see Jong-hoon there. We get an explanation for the leg cast, learning that Ddak-yi fractured his leg while he was carrying something down Kang-jae’s stairs.
Meanwhile, Jung-soo meets Kyung-eun at the department store. He worries about her being out and about so soon after what she’s been through, but Kyung-eun argues it’s not like she’s sick.
Kyung-eun is back to being flirty per usual and enjoying Jung-soo’s flustered responses. She insists she can pay for her own purchases, but Jung-soo ends up paying anyway.
At the hospital, Bu-jung overhears Jin-seob on the phone complaining about how this has all been blown out of proportion. In the room, Ji-na asks if Bu-jung was the one to call the police. Jin-seob had apparently come back and security found him beating her again.
Ji-na says overheard Ah-ran on the phone and happily reports this incident shouldn’t make the news, although she’ll probably be cut from the drama. Bu-jung is quiet for a moment before admitting she did tell security, but she didn’t call the police.
She angrily asks if Bu-jung thinks she looks pathetic. “You look sad,” Bu-jung says. Ji-na says her former house manager Hee-sun got hurt standing up to Jin-seob. Ji-na told her to get compensation, but instead, the company fired her.
Ji-na tells Bu-jung to be careful because there’s nothing she can do if Bu-jung gets fired. She asks how Bu-jung and Hee-sun met and gets excited when she hears it was in an online café. She stills when Bu-jung honestly reveals it was a suicide café.
When she asks if Bu-jung has attempted suicide, Bu-jung shares she went to a location with a few others, but she didn’t actually attempt. Ji-na then asks if she’s written a note, but they’re interrupted by Ah-ran. Bu-jung and Ah-ran act as if they don’t know each other while Bu-jung cleans.
Kang-jae returns home that night and doesn’t look thrilled to see Jong-hoon chilling in his living room. At the convenience store, Min-jung sulks while Ddak-yi tries to appease her. She’s apparently irritated because Jong-hoon said Ddak-yi was popular with the ajumma clients.
Ddak-yi reassures her that Jong-hoon always talks nonsense, but then he gets awkward when Min-jung asks where he was this morning. For some reason, he lies that he was at the library. She gives a sad sigh and says it’s obvious he’s lying. Ddak-yi promises to tell her everything after things work out.
At the apartment, Jong-hoon fishes for info and asks if the apartment down the hall is “that woman’s.” Kang-jae is all, what woman? Jong-hoon is tired of beating around the bush and says he used to think Jung-woo was just distracted on the job, but now he suspects Jung-woo gave him nothing on purpose.
He understands that Jung-woo had a sick kid and was suicidal, but what’s Kang-jae’s excuse? Bu-jung was only a ghost writer who acted like Ah-ran’s secretary, so there’s no reason to leech off of her.
Kang-jae takes offense, but Jong-hoon says that’s how he’s lived. You find or make up someone’s weakness, and then you cover it up for them. But then comes the attachment – pity can turn to love. That’s how he grew attached to Ah-ran.
He turns serious and tells Kang-jae that he turned the photos over to Ah-ran. Kang-jae is silent while Jong-hoon rants that he wanted to talk this out with him because he felt bad. “Leave,” Kang-jae orders quietly.
Ah-ran waits in her car to catch Bu-jung on the way out and asks for a word. Bu-jung’s surprised boss leaves them alone to talk. Ah-ran supposes Bu-jung knows what happened with Ji-na and scoffs at Jin-seob’s stupid excuse that it happened during acting practice. She wonders how long she’ll have to keep doing this.
Bu-jung argues she wouldn’t help him if she didn’t care about Jin-seob. Ah-ran agrees but clarifies it’s because she needs him, not because she likes him.
Ah-ran heard Bu-jung has been working for Ji-na for six months and observes that’s when Bu-jung started trolling her. Bu-jung corrects that she started hate-posting during the final stages of the manuscript over a year ago. Damn.
Bu-jung knows Ah-ran wants to discuss the plagiarism and tells her to get to the point. Ah-ran snaps that she hasn’t changed and is still so high and mighty. She didn’t believe it at first, that Bu-jung would plagiarize in her own work. She knows how much her work meant to Bu-jung.
When Ah-ran asks if Bu-jung was the one who posted about the plagiarism, Bu-jung doesn’t answer. Ah-ran says it doesn’t matter either way. Her translated work barely sold 1,000 copies, and they took the rest off the shelf and discontinued production. Ah-ran stopped the company from suing Bu-jung, though.
Is she working at Ji-na’s to find dirt on her? Bu-jung says she is. Even if she can’t win this fight, she can still hurt Ah-ran. She used to pray every day, and still does on occasion, that the two of them (Ah-ran and Jin-seob?) would die because they’re both trash who think only of their own survival.
Ah-ran is aghast at the level of hatred and points out that you only hurt yourself by hating so strongly. And there’s no way Bu-jung can beat her, so she should stop hoping. “You think I don’t have anything on you?” Bu-jung turns to her in surprise.
Kang-jae walks home with Ddak-yi while staring at his chat with Bu-jung like he’s willing her to respond. Now that they’re alone, Kang-jae asks for the real story of how Ddak-yi hurt himself. There’s no way he did it while carrying blankets. What did he and Min-jung get up to while they were alone?
Ddak-yi laughs and says they usually just talk about Kang-jae. He’s what they have in common, plus Ddak-yi has lots of good stories like how he was Kang-jae’s first customer back in fourth grade. Ddak-yi paid him to pretend to be his friend for two months so he wouldn’t get bullied.
Kang-jae is evasive when Ddak-yi notes he looks upset and asks what happened between him and Jong-hoon. Kang-jae says he’ll tell him one day, but not now.
They run into Soon-kyu and Woo-nam who are headed out to a noraebang. Soon-kyu ribs Kang-jae about his haircut and reluctantly invites the boys along. When Ddak-yi considers it, Kang-jae scolds him for being dense.
Soon-kyu then starts in on Kang-jae, blaming him for hurting her precious little brother. Since Ddak-yi was moving stuff at Kang-jae’s place, his fracture is obviously Kang-jae’s fault. When Kang-jae counters that he was carrying blankets from home, Woo-nam whisks Soon-kyu away before she can ask any questions.
On the subway ride home, Bu-jung reads Kang-jae’s texts. His line that she doesn’t need to reply makes her think back to when she told him that exact thing after texting him for the first time. She stares at their photos from the observation spot.
Another text comes in from Kang-jae: “Even if I don’t have a particular reason, can I maybe see you?” And then another: “I want to see you.” Bu-jung looks nervous and perhaps overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, Jung-soo sings at a noraebang with Kyung-eun relaxing on the couch behind him. As she watches him sing, we get a montage of their moments together since their reconnection. Jung-soo looks back at her and says they should leave if she’s too tired.
Kyung-eun says she can’t sleep and asks him to help her. She knows she’s being clingy and sits up, saying they’ll leave after one more song. Jung-soo watches her intently and asks if she’ll be okay driving home alone. When Jung-soo leans down to help her put on her shoes, Kyung-eun reaches out and pats his back.
With tears in her eyes, she lays her hand against his face and kisses him. We’ve all seen this coming since day one. I’m just surprised it took this long. After they pull away, they hold each other as they cry.
Kang-jae lies in bed, anxiously staring at his phone. When it buzzes, he gingerly reaches over and sees Bu-jung’s name on the screen. Kang-jae runs out of Ddak-yi’s house after he reads her reply: “I’ll come to you.”
At the noraebang, Woo-nam recognizes Kyung-eun from the hospital as she and Jung-soo leave. Soon-kyu also seems to recognize one of them, it’s not clear which, and watches with interest as they head into a motel across the street.
In the motel, Kyung-eun pauses at the door to their room. “Is this our first time?” Jung-soo muses that it is. Kyung-eun finds that strange given how long they dated. Jung-soo follows her into the room.
Meanwhile, Bu-jung takes a taxi to meet Kang-jae. He sees her standing across the street and seems to barely know what to do with himself. He points toward an intersection, and they keep their eyes on each other as they walk on opposite sides of the street toward the crosswalk.
The light changes, and Bu-jung crosses to where Kang-jae stands waiting. He can’t stand it anymore and rushes to meet her, pulling her into his arms in the middle of the crosswalk. Elsewhere, Ah-ran sends Bu-jung the photos she has of her and Kang-jae, but she doesn’t look happy with herself after pressing send.
Kang-jae takes Bu-jung’s hand and leads her to an alley. “We meet again in Seoul,” Kang-jae says. He leans forward to kiss her but pauses. When she doesn’t pull back or turn away, he kisses her.
From the start, I wasn’t sure what direction the drama was going with Bu-jung and Kang-jae’s relationship. As I’ve said before, I don’t think the specific form their relationship takes is the point per se. I’ve always been of the mind that so long as it’s well-developed, a romantic or platonic connection could work for this story. I started to get the sense that we might be headed into romantic territory last week, but I still wasn’t sure. Although I would’ve preferred their relationship to take the less common, non-romantic route – romantic love isn’t the only form of deep connection – their feelings do make sense and feel natural. I’ll hold off making a solid judgment until the ending since how I feel about this turn of events will depend on where we end up.
It’s no accident that their relationship development parallels Jung-soo and Kyung-eun’s. The way each couple has taken similar steps and ended up crossing lines at the same time is obviously an intentional story-telling decision. Bu-jung and Jung-soo have both been unhappy in their marriage for a while and have looked outside of their relationship to find comfort and understanding. At this point, I think they need to cut their losses because I don’t see a path for them as a couple. I still don’t know if they ever truly loved each other or if they got married for other reasons, but it’s clear they no longer connect. I have a feeling they’ve stayed together more for their parents or even convenience than anything else, but their affairs show that’s not enough for either of them.
And now Bu-jung and Kang-jae are at risk of being exposed. I’m still not sure of Jong-hoon’s game here. He already said he was done with the whole Bu-jung job, so why suddenly decide to give Ah-ran those photos? Did he do it before coming to the apartment, after he saw Bu-jung’s suicide note, or after he discovered Bu-jung was at the hospital with Ji-na? Jong-hoon spoke like a protective older brother trying to caution Kang-jae against falling for the wrong woman, and maybe there is an element of true concern there, but I doubt that’s all there is to it. He’s too mercenary not to have a plan.
Ah-ran honestly didn’t look like she wanted to use the photos of Kang-jae and Bu-jung. I can’t quite tell what her feelings are about Bu-jung. She seemed exasperated in the car and certainly doesn’t share Bu-jung’s level of hate. I have no doubt she’d take Bu-jung down if she felt it’s the only way to deal with her, but I think she’d be willing to call a truce. Ah-ran already has her plate full cleaning up after Jin-seob. While I feel sorry for her as a victim of his abuse, it was sickening to watch her help cover up his violence. Ah-ran says she does it because she needs him, I’m guessing in a career sense. Although neither seems interested in leaving yet, I hope Ah-ran and Ji-na both get out from under his influence eventually because nothing is worth enduring him.
I hadn’t put together that Hee-sun was the friend who introduced Bu-jung to the cleaning company. If Bu-jung has been working for Ji-na for six months, that means Jin-seob’s abuse has been going on for longer than that. Hee-sun was even fired for intervening, so this coverup goes far. I was surprised Bu-jung was honest about how she and Hee-sun met, but it could be a good sign that Bu-jung is willing to talk about it. Maybe she feels less shame now and is further from those feelings that made her suicidal.
On an unrelated note, Min-jung’s hypocrisy has been really bugging me. What right does she have to get all bent out of shape over Ddak-yi working at Akira on occasion? What he’s done is no different than what she does on a regular basis for her clients. I could understand if she were worried for him since he’s sensitive and doesn’t seem suited to that business, but she just comes across as jealous and possessive. We’ve only got one week left for everyone to sort out their issues – it looks like we could be in for quite a bit of drama.
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