Human Disqualification: Episode 15
Each half of our married couple separately pursues happiness, but it doesn’t come without guilt. Our leads contemplate reality versus illusion as their time together is cut short by a crisis. When our ex-writer is called away by family obligations, our stand-in finds himself left on the outside.
EPISODE 15: “Period”
Kang-jae confides in his father that he still struggles not to equate money with love, but he has started thinking about what love truly is. What it is to be on the giving end rather than the receiving end of love, and what it means to make space for someone else in your heart.
He thinks about the pain of eventually being filled only with that person. Even though he tries to go it alone, he can’t. “What can I do for that person?” he thinks as he sees Bu-jung arrive. “Who can I be for that person?” Maybe the love he has to give is merely being himself.
Kang-jae throws his arms around Bu-jung in the street and then takes her by the hand. He kisses her in the alley, and she readily kisses him back. Kang-jae then hugs her again and says he missed her.
Elsewhere, Jung-soo and Kyung-eun sit in their motel room. She leans her head on his shoulder and reminisces about how she used to pretend to be asleep so she could lean on him longer. Kyung-eun admits she wanted to torment him a bit, to make him upset because of her. Jung-soo knows.
She wonders what others would think of them, but Jung-soo argues it doesn’t matter. “As long as you’re comfortable.” Kyung-eun begins to cry and says she has a feeling today will be the first and last time.
After seeing Jung-soo and Kyung-eun at the noraebang, Woo-nam is sure they’re having an affair. Soon-kyu halfheartedly argues they could be friends, but Woo-nam reminds her they headed toward a motel. Woo-nam doesn’t answer when Soon-kyu asks indirectly if seeing stuff like that reminds him of the Ji-yeon situation.
Meanwhile, Min-jung and Ddak-yi chat on the phone. She talks a little about her childhood and how she grew up with her grandmother because her parents were too busy to take care of her. Her parents ended up divorcing, both remarrying, and both emigrating. Her dad took her little brother with him.
While Min-jung enlists Ddak-yi’s help in choosing an audition outfit for a web drama, Kang-jae and Bu-jung look for somewhere to eat. The first place he takes her is too crowded, so they walk around trying to find somewhere else.
He asks what she likes before remembering their discussion about how she doesn’t like anything anymore. Bu-jung snaps she likes everything and walks ahead, which makes Kang-jae smile.
At the motel, Kyung-eun wakes up from a brief nap on the couch. She hears Jung-soo’s phone buzz and asks if it’s from home. When Jung-soo says it’s his mom, she chuckles that he’s still a good son, although he denies it based off his mom’s constant berating.
“I love you, Jung-soo,” Kyung-eun says out of the blue. He goes silent and then wonders why now. She says she always regretted not telling him before.
The day before her husband passed, Kyung-eun had told him about liking Jung-soo and asked his permission to start seeing him. Her husband had cried, which she took as a no.
Jung-soo ignores another call from Min-ja. Kyung-eun wonders how people in affairs do it – every time his phone rings her heart drops. “I liked you the most, Jung-soo. I still do.”
He’s quiet and only responds by saying for all these years, he’s continued to use her birthday as his banking PIN. When she jokes he was probably just too lazy to change it, Jung-soo agrees that was a factor. He heaves a big sigh and stands. “Let’s go,” he says, and they walk out of the motel room.
Min-ja lets herself in Jung-soo and Bu-jung’s apartment to bring them kimchi and grumbles about how she just can’t understand or like Bu-jung. Now that she has no job, Bu-jung could at least stay home and do wifely things like cook and clean (*sigh*). She does concede that going out is better than crying at home all the time.
Kang-jae wonders why she wanted to meet near his apartment. Bu-jung says that motel they went to popped in her head. She remembers standing at the bus stop and hesitating to cross the street, although she’s not sure why.
Kang-jae watches her slurp down her noodles and remarks she must’ve been hungry. Bu-jung admits she hasn’t eaten all day because she’s been busy. Kang-jae asks what she was doing, but Bu-jung is reluctant to elaborate.
Finally, she responds that she cleaned and peeled fruit at the hospital. Since her client is hospitalized, she’ll clean there rather than her house for a few more days. Bu-jung still dresses nicely even to go clean because she hasn’t told her family about losing her job.
She’s pretty sure they know, though, because they’ve stopped asking about her work. And Jung-soo was outside her office recently. Bu-jung says that she’s felt the same as Kang-jae about the pumpkin carriage for the past year. Everything has felt like an illusion.
At some points in life, “reality” can be the most awful concept. We flash back to when she miscarried, as well as when she used to work for Ah-ran. One night, she was waiting in the car and saw Ah-ran run out of her house. Jin-seob caught up to her and started attacking her.
Bu-jung got out of the car and intervened, trying to pull him off Ah-ran. Jin-seob turned his rage on her, hitting and even choking her. Ah-ran saw and took that opportunity to run back inside the house. Yikes. After that moment, Bu-jung realized her notion that her life was better than most was an illusion.
We see that time Ah-ran came storming into the office and hit Bu-jung. She’d asked if Bu-jung was the one who made the “baby’s mother” sue Jin-seob. Bu-jung became hopeless and tormented, living in a nightmare. That’s when it hit her the better past was an illusion, and this was her reality.
“Life without illusion is closer to death than life.” We see Jung-woo and Hee-sun holding hands under water in the reservoir.
As they leave the pojangmacha, Kang-jae jokes that they should go somewhere illusory. Bu-jung chuckles that she knew he’d tease her. When she walks off, Kang-jae asks where she’s going. “Nowhere,” she says as she walks ahead.
Meanwhile, Ah-ran avoids going home to see Jin-seob and instead goes to Akira. Jong-hoon has a humidifier set up for her room and painkillers for her headache at the ready. She sighs that she’ll be at a loss if he ever quits to get married.
He’s surprised to hear she sent Bu-jung those photos and guesses the talk didn’t go well. Bu-jung’s attitude of superiority bothered Ah-ran, so she sent them. She says Bu-jung needs a reality check to come to her senses.
When Ah-ran tells him that Bu-jung prays for her death every day, Jong-hoon thinks back to the suicide note and photo. She wonders if Jong-hoon’s goal is still to live a long, mediocre life and is disappointed to hear it is. Ah-ran would rather hear him say he’d die with her. Jong-hoon suggests they live a long, mediocre life together instead.
At the pharmacy, Woo-nam gets all worried when Soon-kyu comes in drenched from the sudden downpour. She scoffs at his overreaction since he never paid attention before. Soon-kyu gets self-conscious with the way he’s staring at her and jokingly wonders if she looks sexy from the rain.
Woo-nam laughs and says he was thinking that he hasn’t ever done things for her like getting her an umbrella when it rains. Soon-kyu guesses he did that kind of stuff for Ji-yeon yet still got dumped. He argues that marriage is more complicated than that. Woo-nam didn’t really understand what spending your life with someone meant.
Min-ja suddenly comes running into the pharmacy, drenched and frazzled. She asks if they can take her somewhere. She can’t get ahold of Jung-soo or Bu-jung. Soon-kyu sits her down and tries to get a coherent explanation. Min-ja starts to tell her that she got a phone call at home, but then her cell rings – it’s Jung-soo.
We see poor Chang-sook sitting in a lottery store. The employee let him use his cell and is keeping an eye on him so he doesn’t wander off in the rain.
Meanwhile, Bu-jung and Kang-jae take shelter under an awning. She shares that she was unwell for three years after landing her first post-grad school job. When she told her father she was quitting, he just said, “It’s okay.” Later when he saw her small Seoul apartment, he’d said, “It’s pretty.” Bu-jung knows “okay” and “pretty” were her dad’s way of saying he’s worried.
Jung-soo rushes to the lottery store and looks devastated to see Chang-sook sitting there looking so lost. Chang-sook is unresponsive when Jung-soo tries to talk to him. Jung-soo tears up when he sees Chang-sook is wearing the nice dress shoes he bought him.
Chang-sook finally looks at him after Jung-soo says Bu-jung is waiting. Jung-soo cries as he leads Chang-sook out. While they walk, Chang-sook becomes more lucid and gets a big smile when he remembers Jung-soo’s name.
As Jung-soo texts Bu-jung that there’s an emergency, she tells Kang-jae that her father holds everything in his heart. He never had a formal education but has accumulated all sorts of knowledge over time. Jung-soo turns to Chang-sook and sees him lying on the ground. Nooo.
“My dad is a one and only book of poems.” Jung-soo runs to him and cradles his head. Bu-jung says her father only voices a portion of his thoughts. A crowd gathers around Chang-sook and Jung-soo, and someone calls an ambulance.
Kang-jae notices Bu-jung’s phone buzz. He runs off to get an umbrella and tells her to answer her phone, so Bu-jung finally answers Jung-soo’s call. In the store, Kang-jae gets a text from Bu-jung saying there’s an emergency so she had to leave.
Soon-kyu takes Min-ja to the hospital where Jung-soo assures her Chang-sook will be okay. On the drive back, Soon-kyu tells Woo-nam that Chang-sook could only recall Min-ja’s home number, although he’d never called it before.
Woo-nam finds it sad since Chang-sook must’ve dialed that number every time he missed Bu-jung but couldn’t bring himself to call. The situation makes both of them miss their moms.
Bu-jung arrives at the hospital and grasps for an explanation when Jung-soo asks why she didn’t pick up her phone. Jung-soo looks at her in surprise as he registers she’s been drinking. He tells her that Chang-sook is much better now, but he does have pneumonia which could lead to sepsis.
She turns her face away and starts to cry, which is of course right when Min-ja comes out into the lobby. Min-ja berates her for being a bad daughter and even pushes her. Jung-soo intervenes, reminding his mom Bu-jung is the most upset right now.
Jung-soo takes the visitor’s pass from his mom and gives it to Bu-jung. Before Bu-jung goes in, Min-ja yells that Chang-sook knows everything. Again, Jung-soo intervenes and tells Bu-jung to ignore her and go in.
Chang-sook wakes when Bu-jung sits beside him and takes his hand. He asks if she went somewhere. Bu-jung says she did and apologizes, but the only thing that he’s worried about is that Bu-jung got soaked in the rain.
He asks to go home now that he’s feeling better, but then he immediately falls asleep again. Bu-jung breaks down and steps into the hallway to cry. Jung-soo goes over and assures her that Chang-sook isn’t going to leave her. He pulls Bu-jung into a hug.
Meanwhile, Kang-jae goes over to his mom’s looking depressed. He gives her the soju he and Bu-jung didn’t get to drink. As he lies on the floor, Kang-jae asks his mom if she’s ever woken from a dream. Someone told him that living without a dream isn’t living.
Mi-sun scoffs when he says he reworded the sentiment so she’d understand. When he tells her what Bu-jung originally said – living without illusion is closer to death – she admits she doesn’t fully get it. But she knows what the illusion is.
Kang-jae turns to look at her and asks what it is. “You,” she says with a smile. He can’t handle the cringe, which makes her giggle.
He surprises her by saying she doesn’t need to send him money anymore, but then he gets grumpy when she immediately agrees. Mi-sun doesn’t see why she should refuse a gift from her son. Kang-jae tells her not to expect an allowance from him.
“I can still come and sleep over sometimes, right?” He scoffs when Mi-sun says he can come every day. Kang-jae checks his phone again, staring at the unread notice on his text telling Bu-jung to be careful and to contact him later.
While Min-jung does her audition, Ddak-yi creeps out his sister with his unusually happy mood. At the hospital, Bu-jung watches kids play outside. She feels bad for being so lacking that she couldn’t even give her father grandkids.
Chang-sook tells her to stop the nonsense – he doesn’t even like kids. She calls his bluff on that, but Chang-sook says he doesn’t think of grandkids when he sees children. He thinks what a pretty child she was. He left her alone a lot, so she always wanted him to piggyback her when he came home.
When Bu-jung asks if he needs anything from home, he tells her where to find his bankbook and cash, but Bu-jung says he doesn’t need to worry about the bill. She catches him staring at her and laughs when he says she’s pretty. Bu-jung leaves him to rest while she makes a quick trip home.
She thinks of Chang-sook’s words that there was a time when he was jobless and carried her around on his back. He even thought of leaving her with someone and killing himself.
But then, little Bu-jung perked up at the smell of fresh bread as they walked by a stall. “Dad, you’ll buy me that when you make a lot of money, right?” Even at three years old, she understood their situation and didn’t whine. He couldn’t leave her alone. That’s the kind of child she is to him.
As Bu-jung walks down the hospital hallway, we see Chang-sook close his eyes in bed, and the screen goes white.
Chang-sook better not die. I am not prepared for that. He’s so sweet and such a supportive father. If something happens to him now, Bu-jung will never forgive herself. I figured Bu-jung’s mom died when Bu-jung was very young since she never mentions her. It’s been Chang-sook and Bu-jung for most of her life, so their closeness makes sense. I was surprised that Chang-sook considered suicide when he was younger. That goes to show you can never know what’s going on beneath the surface – just because Chang-sook always has a smile on his face doesn’t mean he hasn’t struggled.
You’d think Kang-jae would know what he’s getting into when starting something with a married woman. But it only just seemed to hit him that he’s on the outside, the “other” who can only be involved in Bu-jung’s life in secret. He looked heartbroken to be left alone like that. And now I wonder if Bu-jung is going to pull away out of guilt over not being available for her father. I can’t tell if she feels any guilt toward Jung-soo. Does she feel somewhat justified after his own semi-affair with Kyung-eun a year ago? Of course, she doesn’t know that he’s started that up again recently. Seeing as Jung-soo was so conflicted and didn’t end up sleeping with Kyung-eun at the motel, I’d say he feels guilty toward Bu-jung. Or maybe he’s worried about disappointing their parents.
Every time I start to feel sympathy for Min-ja, she makes me mad again. She’s so judgmental and aggressive that it makes it impossible for me to like her. She says she can’t understand Bu-jung, but has she ever truly tried? Min-ja has disliked Bu-jung from the start and always assumes the worst about her no matter the situation. She doesn’t have to like her – it’s not a crime to dislike someone – but she doesn’t need to treat her like dirt either. I feel like Min-ja is the type who’s nice when she’s getting what she wants, but she throws a fit whenever things don’t go her way. I wish she would stop and listen to people more rather than assuming she always knows what’s best.
The more we learn about Bu-jung and Ah-ran’s past, the more I get Bu-jung’s rage. That flashback was rough. Bu-jung put herself in danger and tried to save Ah-ran from Jin-seob only to have Ah-ran then abandon her to his violence. If that weren’t enough, Ah-ran then assaulted her at work over Bu-jung supposedly encouraging Jin-seob’s mistress to sue him. After everything he’s done, Ah-ran still fights for him like that. They’re such a destructive couple, so I can see why Bu-jung called them trash only concerned with their own survival. Ah-ran is a victim of abuse, yes, but that doesn’t override the awful, selfish choices she’s made.
With only one episode to go, I’m not sure what to expect. I can’t imagine we’ll get a “happy” ending, whatever that means in this context. I feel like bittersweet is the closest we’ll come. My main hope is that everyone, especially Bu-jung and Kang-jae, finds a way to live more authentically and hopefully. Whether they do that together or separately, there is sure to be pain to come, so I’m bracing myself for the hurt.
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