[2010] Stars Falling From The Sky / Pick Up The Stars drama recap

49 January 10, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episodes 1-2

by javabeans

When writing up my first impressions of the new dramas, I had thought Wish Upon a Star would probably be put to the back burner quickly. I liked it, but it seemed pretty ordinary. But Episode 2 was a lot more interesting than Episode 1 and I find that the premise grows more entertaining (and complicated) than it first seemed, so I’m drawn along a little while longer. I still don’t think this is going to be a stunning groundbreaker, but it’s got a good heart, some funny setups, and is very easy to watch.

SONG OF THE DAY

Taru – “Slow Star” [ Download ]

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CHARACTERS

I wrote a general description of the characters in the first impressions post, so you can also refer to that.

JIN PAL-GANG (Choi Jung-won) is the eldest daughter to a loving, large-hearted couple. Her father (who is, as we later learn, her stepfather) runs a hospital that mostly helps the poor, and with his wife, they have adopted four (and a half) children. (I say “half” because the last isn’t officially theirs yet; they’re waiting to adopt the baby, who isn’t pictured above.) Pal-gang is Mom’s only biological child, and the joke is that she can’t be adopted because why would they have chosen such an irresponsible, flighty thing like her? Despite the ribbing, the Jin household is clearly warm and loving, aside from the typical bickering that comes from a close family.

Pal-gang is 25 but her maturity level may as well be in the teens. She works at an insurance company, spends too much money on clothes and has gotten herself into credit card debt. While that’s not too unusual for someone her age, she goes about things immaturely; rather than cutting her spending, she borrows money from friends and continues her spendthrift ways.

However, she justifies it because she believes that she can land her dream guy within the next month — she has been dangling after him for a while, but now she’s going to go after him in earnest and seal the deal. So this is really an investment into getting him, right?

The man of her dreams is WON KANG-HA, the insurance company’s lawyer. He’s far from the perfect guy — he’s cold, he’s rude, he’s snobby — but Pal-gang has built him up in her mind to be perfect. She dreams of him as an idealization more than as a person, so she isn’t fazed when he dismisses her attempts to ingratiate herself to him. In fact, her bold behavior would be embarrassing if she had any shame, but she doesn’t.

 
EPISODES 1-2

Pal-gang is a standard rank and file employee at JK Life Insurance, but harbors no great ambition about the work. Her closest co-worker friend is JIN-JU, a timid 39-year-old spinster who’s the sensible one of the two, but is often a pushover for Pal-gang’s more assertive personality. Jin-ju still lives with her parents and has been warned by her mother not to be friends with Pal-gang anymore, as Pal-gang has a habit of borrowing money from Jin-ju since her credit card was frozen. Without a feasible way of repaying her card debt, Pal-gang runs from the debt collector and strengthens her dream to land her lawyer prince.

She has a habit of loitering around Kang-ha and his younger brother, WON JUN-HA (Shin Dong-wook), the latter of whom also works at JK as a mid-level manager. Both brothers know that Pal-gang’s efforts are in vain but they tend to ignore her; Kang-ha is cold, Jun-ha a little more friendly. Kang-ha’s work requires him to defend the insurance company against claims by its policy holders, such as when a woman’s husband dies, but he keeps his answers clinical and professional — he’s just doing his job so emotions have nothing to do with it.

When Pal-gang overhears them discussing the need to hire a housekeeper, she jumps at the chance. She begs Jun-ha to let her take the job, which he is reluctant to do, not least because she’s a fellow employee. That would be awkward. But Pal-gang assures him that she would be fantastic at the job, and he agrees with some misgivings.

Of course, this is really just her way of pursuing Kang-ha, since this would give her ample opportunity to be near him. In order to prepare for her first day that weekend, she heads over to the hair salon — breaking into her younger brother’s piggy bank to pay for it.

Meanwhile, Pal-gang’s father has a discussion with JUNG GOOK (Lee Soon-jae), who has taken the younger man under his wing. They’ve known each other for thirty years, and the old man is actually the chairman of JK. He’s a common fixture around the Jin household, but they know him as a friendly grandpa rather than as the rich businessman he really is.

Chairman Jung is a man with a good heart, and he has been impressed with the doctor’s dedication to his work, when he could have pursued a more lucrative career. (In fact, he seems to be a natural mentor figure, since he tries to talk to Kang-ha about going into public service as a prosecutor rather than a private company lawyer. Kang-ha answers that a man who isn’t morally upright, such as himself, cannot pursue an upright career.)

The chairman reveals that he’s been watching the doctor for years, and he has finally passed his “test.” He wants to build a free hospital and put him in charge of it, using up all of his wealth to do so. When Pal-gang’s father takes his wife out on a day vacation, he shows her the land and tells her about the chairman’s wishes. But she is unnerved — because it sounds like she knows this man. In fact, his older son, now deceased, was Pal-gang’s father. Dun dun dun! The plot thickens. (Pal-gang’s father had promised to come back for her mother, but never did. When she sought him out, she heard he died in an accident. This means that Grandpa Jung doesn’t know Pal-gang is his granddaughter.)

Now for the JK company cast. The man on the left is Chairman Jung’s younger son (JUNG IN-GU), who has toiled his whole life for his father under the specter of his better, now-dead older brother. He’s timid and nervous, but he can’t take it anymore when his father reveals his plans for the hospital. How can Dad give away his inheritance to some stranger who isn’t even related to them? How can he bypass his hardworking son who slaved for him his whole life? In an emotional confrontation, both men get worked up, and the chairman suffers a heart attack that lands him in the hospital, unconscious.

In-gu feels guilty and afraid, but his wife MIN-KYUNG is a formidable woman. She’s calculating and frightening in a Lady Macbeth sort of way, and coolly counters all of her husband’s conflicted wishes to do the right thing. She considers the chairman’s collapse a good thing — it nullifies his hospital plans. She even tries to get their lawyer, Kang-ha, to reveal the chairman’s will to her, but he refuses.

The Jins hear about the chairman’s collapse and head to the hospital. Their presence endangers In-gu and Min-kyung’s place in the family (and the inheritance), and puts them on edge. So it’s a curious thing that when the two drive home from the hospital, they are tailed by a large truck, and then forcibly driven off the road. The car crashes into a ravine, and explodes.

With their parents suddenly dead, the children are left to fend for themselves. The younger siblings don’t quite understand what’s going on and cry for their parents to return, while the second-oldest, JU-HWANG (Park Ji-bin, another rising child actor) reacts by harshly telling his siblings that they’re not coming back, they’re dead. D-E-A-D!

Pal-gang is hit hard by the disaster, all trace of her former bubbly self gone. She sits in dazed shock throughout the funeral and remains unresponsive. It’s such a huge blow that she cannot pull herself together; it’s all too much to take in. She mumbles that she was a horrible daughter, that she was actually getting her hair done while her parents were dying, like a fool, because she wanted to look pretty for the lawyer. She’s so hard on herself that her friends worry for her.

Things get worse when they come home from the funeral to find that they are being evicted from home. They don’t understand how this can happen, but the man has an official notice showing that the home is going to be demolished. Their belongings are thrown out on the street and they have nowhere to go. (What they don’t realize is that this is the work of Lady Macbeth — Min-kyung — who tells her husband that he shouldn’t feel sorry for the family that was going to steal his inheritance.)

Even worse, it turns out that her parents’ life insurance policy won’t pay them a penny. Her mother had cashed out her policy early to help a poor woman get surgery, and now her generosity has shortchanged her own children. Pal-gang feels betrayed by her mother, then grits her teeth and vows that this makes them even for her being a thoughtless daughter. “I won’t feel sorry anymore,” she says, as she tries to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do.

Pal-gang’s friend Jin-ju can’t put them up because there’s chaos in her own household. Pal-gang then tries to take her family from motel to motel, but they’re kicked out when the baby, Nam (or Nami), keeps crying. She sells a few of her handbags and with less than $50 in her pocket, she takes them to a sauna, where at least they can spend the night.

But the situation is bad, and only growing worse with their meager funds dwindling. As a last resort, Pal-gang heads to a foster home, where she promises to only leave the baby for a few days. Without the baby, at least they’ll be able to find a place to stay. It’ll only be a few days, she promises.

But Ju-hwang is appalled and angry. How could she get rid of Nami like that? He accuses her of being selfish and wanting to get rid of them all. Is she going to leave them behind, too? Fine, he gets it — they’re only her adopted siblings, it’s not like they’re blood related. He says fiercely, “Even if you abandon us, I won’t abandon them.” He orders his sobbing siblings to follow him to the foster home.

I think she does see them as “real” siblings (without that qualifier of “adopted”) and she’s busting her ass to try to keep them fed, so his words sting — but they probably also have a hint of truth, and she cries back defiantly that yeah, she’s selfish! Yeah, she’d like to get rid of them all! But is this how their parents raised them? To rebel against her and turn her into the bad guy? Taking the baby back, she says that she can’t see them disgrace their parents like this, “So I’m going to take you and make people out of you.”

She takes everyone back to the sauna for one last night, and makes her decision, chopping off her hair in a symbolic gesture.

Back to the Won brothers for a moment. Kang-ha and Jun-ha live in a large house, with their 22-year-old nephew TAE-KYU (Lee Kyun). Tae-kyu is irresponsible and immature, and when he throws a party and gets caught, the brothers have enough of his antics. They’re kicking him out. Tae-kyu protests and begs, offering to be their maid so they don’t have to hire outside help, but they’re not inclined to give him yet another chance.

Meanwhile, JUNG JAE-YOUNG arrives in Korea to mix things up with the love rectangle. She is the granddaughter to Chairman Jung and has grown up alongside the Wons, and has always had a crush on Kang-ha. The feelings aren’t reciprocated, but she does have the affections of Jun-ha — which she doesn’t reciprocate.

Pal-gang remembers her promise to be the new maid, and although she missed her first day, she asks Jun-ha for the position again. He first treats her coldly, but when she explains that she couldn’t make it because of her parents’ funeral, he softens and relents.

And so, Pal-gang decides that this is their last shot. She will have to sneak her brothers and sisters into the household to ensure a roof over their heads, and they must remain absolutely silent so they’re not discovered. She manages to sneak in three of them in boxes, but the baby can’t come until late at night after he’s fallen asleep, so she leaves second-eldest Ju-hwang in charge. They’ll sneak him in at night.

She gets them indoors fine, which is aided by the fact that Tae-kyu is the only one home. However, he haaaaaates the sight of Pal-gang, because her very presence endangers his in this house. He thinks that if he can get rid of her, he can stay. Until then, however, he is forced to give up his old room.

Pal-gang is puzzled at his antagonism, but she quickly asserts herself and handles him just fine. It helps that he’s not the most quick-witted, and also, his credit ain’t so good with the brothers right now so they ignore his complaints about the new housekeeper, figuring he’s just being a brat.

Kang-ha is NOT pleased to see her, and orders her out immediately. Jun-ha had made the decision without letting him know who he was hiring, moved by pity. Jun-ha prods his brother to give her a shot, and gives Pal-gang tips on how to satisfy Kang-ha’s super-picky demands. They come to a semi-compromise: the moment he is dissatisfied with her, she’s out.

At least for the moment, the kids are fed and housed. It’ll be a challenge, but as she meets Ju-hwang outside that night (bringing a sleeping Nami back), she tells him, “If we’re kicked out of this house, it’s all over for us.”

 
COMMENTS

Episode 2 was a lot better than Episode 1, which was really just an extended setup. The second episode is really the one that sets the tone for the rest of the series, as Pal-gang enters the household and gets her wild last-ditch scheme going.

I was skeptical to see how the feel-good drama could kill off her parents and recover its upbeat tone right away, but I think they did a decent job of it. They had that moment showing Pal-gang deciding to stop feeling sorry (for herself) and deciding to get on with it, which helped a little. She recognizes that she was a silly fool and admits that she’d lived a pretty carefree, irresponsible life. But I like that she doesn’t wallow in self-recriminations for too long; she’s got five mouths to feed. Six including herself.

That’s part of the fun; we get to watch her try to make her way in the world, and there’s enough sadness to be touching, but it’s not drowning in misery. For instance, after they’re kicked out of the house, a neighborhood ajumma wants to help but she can’t give them money, so she gives Pal-gang two tins of powdered infant formula. At the sauna, a careless man kicks over the tin and scatters a good amount of the formula, and Pal-gang rushes to gather up the precious powder. But an ajumma worker chides her — you can’t feed the baby dirty formula — and throws it away, while Pal-gang looks after it desperately. The emotion is there and it’s this kind of hardship that turns the viewer around from disdaining Pal-gang into feeling for her and hoping she’ll succeed.

I know the symbolic hair-cutting scene is a pretty familiar one so it doesn’t get points for originality, but it is still a nice way to show her turning point. With money running out and no other options, she decides to put the kids first, and the hair-cutting is a nice way of tying in the earlier scene when she stole her sibling’s allowance money to get her hair done. Her days of vanity are over, and as Pal-gang cuts her own hair, she tells herself resolutely, “You’re not a woman anymore. You’re just… a mother.”

When she enters the Won brothers’ house, she guesses that Kang-ha’s opposition is because she had been fawning over him so much. She assures him that if he suspects her of having ulterior motives, he can rest easy. She is here only to be his housekeeper, and has no other thoughts. I wonder if her crush will be renewed upon their proximity in the house, but I’m actually hoping not. It would be really interesting — and more compelling, in my opinion — if she keeps her head down and shows no interest in him, and HE’S the one left dealing with growing romantic attraction.

As for the premise of her sneaking the kids to live at the house? It’s insane, and ridiculous, and therefore I kinda love it. If she were merely bringing herself to the house, I’d gripe that we’ve seen this all before (like with Last Scandal), but with the added burden of five hidden kids? It’s like Bad Family meets Anne Frank meets Full House and how can you not dig that, right? Plus, Lee Kyun is hilarious as the displaced nephew — and can I just say, it’s great seeing him back from the army! (He did his service a little earlier than most entertainers, and I last saw him in Dasepo Naughty Girls and vampire sitcom Hello Franceska.) Funny that he’s only a year younger than Kim Ji-hoon and the same age as Shin Dong-wook, but his feckless character is 11 and 8 years younger than their characters, respectively.

I’m pretty certain I won’t be continuing recaps with this drama, and the reason is that this seems like one of those shows that is a lot of fun if you watch with your finger on the fast-forward button. If I recap, I have to watch every moment closely, and if I did that with Wish Upon A Star I think I’d be likely to grow tired of it and drop it. I do want to continue seeing how things progress, and if I watch casually, I’ll have a better chance at making it through the end.

 
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68 January 15, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episodes 3-4

by javabeans

I know, I know. When I recapped Episodes 1 & 2, I said that I was done recapping Wish Upon a Star. My reason was that while the drama was fun, it’s a light watch that might be better enjoyed with the freedom to fast-forward and skip at points. However, a little unexpectedly, Episodes 3 & 4 were so winning that I felt compelled to share. I still don’t think I’ll continue recaps, but consider this a few more reasons why you might want to check out the drama.

Also: Shin Dong-wook is so likable. It’s mostly because he lucked out with a great (too-perfect) character (and it’ll suck that he’s the second lead who probably won’t get his girl), but he’s totally got the nice-guy charm going in his favor.

SONG OF THE DAY

Wheesung – “눈물 쏟고 또 쏟고” (Shedding tears and more tears). A song about constant crying that sounds upbeat and happy? Yep, seemed appropriate. [ Download ]

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EPISODES 3-4

With the entire Jin brood secretly living in the basement room at the Won brothers’ house, the first problem they encounter is keeping baby Nam quiet. Naturally he’s going to cry, so Pal-gang has to think fast to cover their butts. Going outside, she complains that it’s difficult to sleep with that noise — does their neighborhood have a lot of stray cats? The guys furrow their brows — there aren’t a lot of stray cats around — but then the sound stops, so they let it slide.

Breakfast is a different matter. Despite her best efforts, Pal-gang wakes too late to make a proper breakfast. Thinking fast, she dumps out the entire container of uncooked rice and hides it; she then tells Kang-ha apologetically that she was fully intending to cook breakfast, but they had no rice. Will cereal suffice?

Lucky for her, an easy scapegoat is at hand: Jun-ha immediately assumes that irresponsible nephew Tae-kyu used the rice money he’d been given to buy alcohol instead. Tae-kyu protests — he swears he bought rice last week! — but it doesn’t help that he’s currently hungover.

Pal-gang leaves the kids at home with instructions to cook themselves breakfast when Tae-kyu leaves (whom everyone including the Won brothers calls “ddorai,” which means “crazy” or “wacko”). Unfortunately, Tae-kyu doesn’t leave — he spends all morning playing video games, which means the kids can’t leave the room to eat or to go to the bathroom.

Eldest Ju-hwang has to use the bathroom, and takes advantage of Tae-kyu’s distraction when the doorbell rings, slipping out to run to the toilet. Too bad Tae-kyu returns before he’s done and tries to use the bathroom himself — but the door is locked. Thankfully, Tae-kyu’s not too bright and he assumes the lock is being temperamental. (The house has two bathrooms, but the one upstairs is strictly for Kang-ha, no exceptions.)

Middle child Cho-rok thinks fast. She grabs her shoes and goes to the front door, where she calls out for Tae-kyu’s attention, pretending to be a neighborhood girl whose toy is stuck on the roof. She drags him away from the bathroom door and outside, allowing her brother the chance to escape from the bathroom.

However, this means that Cho-rok is now locked out of the house, and it’s freezing cold. She huddles outside, shivering, hoping her siblings will be able to let her in soon. Finally, she can’t take it and calls Pal-gang from a pay phone, but she doesn’t want to worry her sister. So she just says she came outside because the house was stifling. Cho-rok says it’s nothing to worry about, all while choking back her sobs. But afterward, she cries to herself, begging her sister to hurry up and make money so they can move into their own house where they won’t have to hide.

Keeping baby Nam at home is too risky with Tae-kyu hanging around, so Pal-gang has taken him to work with her. Her two friends, Jin-ju and the cleaning lady Eun-mal help her by taking turns watching the baby in the bathroom.

On one hand, at least Pal-gang can take Nam along when she is sent out on assignments to sign up prospective members for insurance plans. But on the other hand, Nam can be a distraction and she’s already struggling to do her job properly.

When Pal-gang gets home that night, her siblings are starving — Tae-kyu never left, so they couldn’t leave the room to eat. This fills her with guilt, particularly when Ju-hwang tells the kids to sleep early in order to forget about their hunger pangs. She goes out to make a batch of food for them.

A slight hiccup arises that night when second-youngest brother Pa-rang starts sleepwalking, and ambles right past Tae-kyu. Pal-gang neutralizes the situation by knocking him out with a swift blow to the head, and tells the Won brothers that wacko’s passed out and acting funny. Again, it’s a lucky thing for the Jin family that Tae-kyu immediately jumps to the conclusion that he’s seeing ghosts. Naturally, Kang-ha and Jun-ha think he’s just drunk. Again.

The siblings take a moment to reinforce Tae-kyu’s fear that night: they dress No-rang up in a sheet and smear ketchup on her face. She wanders into Tae-kyu’s room and wakes him up from his drunken sleep. This convinces Tae-kyu that he must be going crazy.

The next morning, Pal-gang is determined to make breakfast properly and therefore goes to the kitchen at 3am… but falls asleep. When Jun-ha wakes her up, it’s already past 7am and again too late to begin cooking breakfast. She freaks out, fretting that she’d been so determined not to mess up today, that Jun-ha starts to take pity on her.

When she makes the excuse to Kang-ha that she tried to make breakfast but found that the gas wasn’t working, Jun-ha covers for her; he chimes in and berates Tae-kyu for not paying the bill. I’m not sure that Kang-ha believes this, but at least he lets it go.

Poor Tae-kyu — not only is he being unfairly blamed for mistakes he didn’t make, he thinks he’s going crazy and hallucinating. Miserable, he decides to get a mental evaluation at the hospital. Since this is largely her doing, Pal-gang tells him he’ll be fine — he probably just needs to get out of the house more. If he gets fresh air, he’ll probably be able to contain his hallucinations.

Tae-kyu is so relieved to hear a kind word that he looks at her in a new light. Grabbing her hand, he goes from calling her “noona” to calling her “jagi” — a term of endearment one might call a girlfriend. He had a feeling she might be his fateful match!

Today, Ju-hwang convinces Pal-gang to leave the baby at home; it’s too risky taking him to work all the time. With Tae-kyu out of the house, at least they’ll be better off than they were yesterday.

Unfortunately, they have a new, more pressing problem: they’re out of baby formula. Nam cries and cries, and the girls try to substitute real milk, but are unsuccessful. Pal-gang is aware of the formula shortage but is out of money, and asks her friends if they have any cash. They don’t (Jin-ju’s mother confiscated her credit cards), so she’s left to wrestle with the problem. At the last moment, Jin-ju comes through with a solution: she was able to steal some formula from her sister-in-law. Pal-gang thanks her profusely and heads home.

However, Ju-hwang has felt the burden of being the eldest hyung and has resorted to desperate measures. He heads out to steal some formula at a local convenience store — and gets caught.

Worse yet, he’s caught by the store owner and another customer, who turns out to be Jun-ha. The store owner is not inclined to let him off easy and demands to know who he is.

This is when Pal-gang comes by and recognizes her brother, rushing to defend him. She belatedly realizes that the other person is Jun-ha, and finds herself conflicted about how to answer his question — who is the boy and what is their relationship?

Head bowed, Pal-gang admits, “He’s… my brother.” Ju-hwang looks at her in dismay, understanding that this means the gig is up, and they’re likely doomed.

Brother and sister expect Jun-ha to rail angrily and kick them out immediately, so they’re surprised at how nice he is. Hearing that she was forced to sneak her sibling in after her parents died, he sees that she really was telling the truth when she said she wasn’t taking the maid position to get close to Kang-ha. (He had assumed she’d been lying.)

He buys them hamburgers, guessing that the reason Ju-hwang was stealing was because he was so hungry. Pal-gang begs Jun-ha to keep this from Kang-ha — it’ll only be for a short while, until she can get them to their own place.

This good luck does not hold, however, because No-rang is caught by Kang-ha himself. She had whipped up a batch of porridge to take to the baby, and had come face to face with Kang-ha. She drops the hot pot on her foot just as the others arrive home.

Now two siblings have been discovered. Jun-ha accepts this with grace, while Kang-ha glares. Tae-kyu, on the other hand, is happy — the hospital deemed him to be sane, and now the kids’ presence explains the nighttime “ghosts.” Plus, he’s nursing a crush on Pal-gang, so he eagerly jumps to her defense.

As with Cho-rok earlier, what’s heartbreaking about No-rang’s reaction is that she’s worried more for her siblings than herself. They treat the mild burn on her foot and ask her if she’s hurting — it’s obvious she must be in pain — but No-rang insists it doesn’t hurt and begs for them not to kick her out.

Moved by sympathy, Jun-ha wants to let this go, but Kang-ha is furious. The three men talk amongst themselves, with Jun-ha and Tae-kyu trying to persuade a cold Kang-ha to let them stay. Jun-ha argues, “How desperate must she have been to hide them in our house?”

Despite Kang-ha’s opposition, Jun-ha is able to convince him to agree to let them stay — but they must take care to keep the kids out of Kang-ha’s sight, so that he doesn’t even know that they’re living there.

Despite being caught, the family is relieved that the younger three children were able to remain hidden. Pa-rang had wanted to show himself while the luck was running in their favor, but older Cho-rok had insisted that they remain hidden: two smuggled kids is nowhere near as bad as five.

The next morning, Pal-gang makes breakfast as promised, with rice and side dishes. The cooking itself, however, leaves a lot to be desired. In a really cute moment, Tae-kyu voluntarily takes the blame to divert Kang-ha’s dissatisfaction away from Pal-gang, earning him a thankful smile. Even when Jun-ha shows his dissatisfaction with the subpar meal, he still defends Pal-gang to Kang-ha, making excuses for her.

The kids realize that the idea of their sister being an effective housekeeper is ludicrous — she can’t cook or clean or do any of the necessary chores — and decide to pitch in. They clean, cook, and do the ironing… which soon gets out of their control. Cho-rok accidentally cuts herself while chopping vegetables, and No-rang forgets the iron and burns Kang-ha’s shirt. Young Pa-rang is left with the baby, who hits his head and gets a cut.

Kang-ha pitches a fit when he discovers that someone’s been using his computer. It was Pal-gang, who used it to look up a few recipes while cleaning in his room. He rebukes her harshly for daring to touch his belongings.

Making matters worse, that night Pa-rang sleepwalks again, and this time, Kang-ha sees him. Oops. He rounds up the family, fuming at discovering yet one more hidden sibling.

He’s so sharp that he catches on to the pattern of their names — from oldest to youngest, they are Red, Orange, Yellow, and Blue. Pointing to the youngest (Pa-rang), he asks, “Going in order, shouldn’t his name be Cho-rok (Green)?” Pal-gang thinks up an explanation that might make sense: “Uh, about that. He’s a boy, so they must have felt it was a little odd to name him Cho-rok.”

Kang-ha counters, “No. Ju-hwang (Orange) is just as unsuited for being a boy’s name, isn’t it?” He heads toward the basement room to check if they’re hiding another kid, and Pal-gang rushes to block him. Realizing the game is up, she hangs her head and admits, “I’m sorry. There is a Cho-rok.”

Kang-ha orders them to leave within a week.

Again, Jun-ha and Tae-kyu plead with Kang-ha to show some mercy, to give her some extra time to find a place. Jun-ha: “Telling them to leave in a week is like telling them to freeze and die.”

But Kang-ha remains unmoved, and sticks to his dictate.

As Pal-gang continues with her cleaning chores, she worries aloud, addressing her mother:

Pal-gang: “You hit me every day for not knowing how to do anything. You should have hit me harder, so I would come to my senses, so I would know how to do something. You made a mistake too, so please help me somehow. Help me make him think, ‘Ah, at least it’s better to have her around than not.'”

From outside the room, Jun-ha hears her crying to herself, and I think Shin Dong-wook has earned his hero shot, hasn’t he?

Jin-ju and Eun-mal brainstorm ways to help Pal-gang, while she sits in a defeated, listless state, wondering how much money she could get for a kidney. The two women protest violently — harming herself is the quickest way to condemn those kids to a miserable life, because she needs to be healthy to care for them.

Pal-gang asks, “Then what else could I sell?” Her smile freaks her friends out, who would rather she cried. She replies, “I’m so scared I can’t even cry.”

Both brothers are pretty smart, so it’s not long before they put the clues together and realize that there’s one more kid being hidden — the baby Nam (which means Navy). When Jun-ha confronts her, she says that there’s relief in being found out — at least now when he cries, they don’t have to block his mouth.

That means they can stop hiding around the house, too. When the brothers arrive home at night, the kids are all helping Pal-gang with her chores. Kang-ha glares, and Jun-ha chides her — she should be careful and keep the kids out of sight where they won’t pique Kang-ha’s temper. Who knows, if he’s kept in a good mood, he might change his mind.

But Pal-gang is resigned, since she knows he’s not the type to change his mind. She chased after him for five years, but even though she’d introduced herself every time they met, he still didn’t know her name.

Pal-gang: “No, from the start there wasn’t even a 1% chance for me. When I brought the children and came to live in this house, I got rid of all the feelings I had carried for him. And after spending a few days like this, I regretted it, thinking, ‘Why did I waste five years acting so stupid?'”

This gets Jun-ha even angrier with his brother — Pal-gang liked him for five years, so shouldn’t the courtesy be to give her at least five months? “Even if just out of gratitude for liking a frozen man like you!”

Kang-ha answers, “That’s all the more reason not to. Don’t let her dream false dreams, because that’s the worst thing for her.”

Tae-kyu is, adorably, crushed to learn that Pal-gang had liked Kang-ha. It’s sweet (in a twisted way?) that he likes her enough to tell her to go after Kang-ha — if she throws herself at him and seduces him, she can demand that he “take responsibility” for her.

She won’t do that, though. When he asks if she has anywhere to go, she answers calmly, “The street.”

Kang-ha isn’t a complete lost cause, however. The next day, he and Jae-young (the chaebol granddaughter who likes him) are heading out to lunch when they see a commotion in the lobby. Pal-gang had brought Nam to work because she wanted to take him to the hospital later (for his head bruise), and the cleaning lady Eun-mal had gotten caught babysitting him in the bathroom. The manager fires her, at which point Pal-gang jumps in to take the blame — it’s her brother.

Jae-young is greatly offended at one of her employees daring to be so disrespectful, and orders Pal-gang fired. Kang-ha doesn’t interfere, but he doesn’t seem happy about this situation, and even snaps at Jae-young.

With only six days until they’re kicked onto the streets, Pal-gang looks for another job, and heads out that night to a part-time gig cleaning saunas. She assures her siblings that she’ll be fine working late; they have to make as much money as possible to pay for motel fees.

But when she gets to the job, it’s not at a sauna — it’s at a bar. Pal-gang introduces herself as the new bar girl, Mimi.

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

The main reason I’m resisting jumping fully onboard with Wish Upon a Star is that everybody in the rich chaebol family bores me to tears. Pal-gang and her siblings are lovable and heartwarming (as well as heartbreaking at times), but I can’t keep my interest engaged whenever the story shifts to the Jung family. So here’s the stuff in a nutshell:

Jae-young loves Kang-ha, who is not interested. He is so uninterested that he speaks to her coldly to push her away, going so far as to call a romance between them “incestuous” because that’s how he sees her. On the other hand, Jun-ha suffers from being the other guy, the one who loves Jae-young but isn’t loved back.

Jae-young’s mother, Lady Macbethian Min-kyung, is opposed to her daughter’s insistence on marrying Kang-ha. She foresees an unhappy future if she marries with such a cold man who may not even love her back.

The brothers have a generally good relationship, inasmuch as Kang-ha puts up with Jun-ha more than he does with anyone else. The only time Jun-ha’s bitterness comes out is when Jae-young is concerned. When Kang-ha suggests that Jun-ha date Jae-young instead, Jun-ha scoffs that he’s never taken anything from his brother. (Kang-ha agrees, saying to himself, “Yeah, I was always the one stealing things from you.”)

There’s the suggestion that Kang-ha has some unresolved relationship issues, because he sees a woman in the street, and from the back, he thinks he recognizes her. He rushes to catch up with her, and is dismayed when it’s not the person he was expecting.

Lastly, a flashback scene shows Grandpa/Chairman Jung asking Kang-ha to help him with his dream, which Kang-ha had flatly declined. The scenes between these two are the only indication that Kang-ha has more going on below the surface, and even his refusal here isn’t because he’s selfish, but because he believes that a person like him wouldn’t do the old man’s dreams any good. Kang-ha seems to believe he’s a bad person, and doesn’t want to sully the life of someone he respects.

And then, Grandpa wakes up, but his memory is weird — he asks for his son (Pal-gang’s father), who is dead. Amnesia?

 
COMMENTS

I don’t really love stories where two brothers fall for the same girl — it’s too much mixing family and romance — but so far, Shin Dong-wook is definitely the guy to root for. He’s probably going to turn out to be that guy who is always nice to the girl but who gets trampled on, and if I were holding this drama to higher standards, I’d probably complain that he’s too perfect.

I feel like it’s My Love Patzzi all over again when I’m rooting for the wrong guy, but I’m fully prepared to accept Kang-ha’s turnaround when it comes later. It’s just that for now, Jun-ha’s where it’s at, yo! And come on — how sexy is he as the hurting, bitter drunk?

I love Pal-gang’s turnaround from the flighty, selfish thing she was in Episode 1, because we get to see her grow, stumbling her way into being an adult. She fumbles through her new responsibilities, and it’s amusing to see what clever ways she’ll come up with to get out of sticky situations.

Her relationship with Tae-kyu takes an unexpected turn when he turns from antagonist to admirer, but it’s hilarious. He’s mostly used for comic relief and his crush on Pal-gang happens rather suddenly, but I don’t mind that because Lee Kyun is adorable. The swiftness of his crush also adds to the comic effect, and I enjoy the fact that she has both younger men in the house on her side — so it’s really eight against one. Kang-ha is so outnumbered.

However, by and large, the heart of this drama is in the sibling relationships. Cho-rok’s crying out in the cold is particularly heart-tugging, as is No-rang’s breakdown when she’s caught, because these kids are shouldering burdens way too big for their little shoulders. They should be carefree kids, not worrying about where to get their next meal or what to do when they’re kicked out onto the streets.

And you have to give Pal-gang credit for trying. She’s not skilled and she doesn’t have a lot of options, but she’s trying her damnedest. Take, for instance, the above screencap: the kids say that Nam cries because he’s used to suckling when he goes to sleep, so she lets him suckle. There’s also the scene when she has to sit through a company dinner, and the co-workers urge her to help herself to the meat (which she usually loves). Today, she has difficulty eating, knowing that her siblings are hungry at home. This situation is not her fault, but she definitely feels guilty at not being able to provide for her family. Although we know that the Won brothers (probably) won’t kick Pal-gang and her siblings out into the cold, we still feel their desperation, and their acts of sacrifice carry a lot of poignance.

This family bonding extends to her friends, who have fully embraced this as “our” problem, not just Pal-gang’s. They try to think up ways to scrape together cash, and I gave Jin-ju serious points for stealing formula from her sister-in-law. This kind of banding together in crisis gives the drama its heartwarming charm.

On a story level, I like that secrets are rarely secrets for long, because it keeps the plot moving quickly. Now that the kids have all been discovered, where will the story go?

 
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86 January 23, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 5

by javabeans

All right, all right, so I lied (twice). I honestly didn’t think I’d feel compelled to continue recapping this drama, and I expected youth hit God of Study and/or light-n-sweet Pasta to trump the good-natured Wish Upon a Star. But those other two have started lagging while my interest in this one keeps building, so the decision comes pretty naturally.

SONG OF THE DAY

Ivy – “안돼요” (It can’t be) (Doesn’t this intro remind you of “Lovefool”?) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 5 RECAP

Pal-gang’s siblings watch the baby while she goes out for her second job, not knowing she was fired from her first with the insurance company.

When Jun-ha drops by the basement room to see the kids tending baby Nam, he hears that Pal-gang took a night job cleaning saunas. This weighs on his conscience, because he feels bad for her plight. And that’s without even knowing the truth — that she is a new hostess at a fancy bar.

(Note: You’ll see hostess bars regularly in Korean dramas, so they may require a bit of explanation. Hostesses and bar girls aren’t prostitutes, but they do get a lot of scorn as being a “dirty” profession. Some bars, generally the lower-end ones, do conflate hostessing with prostitution, but it’s not the same thing. Pal-gang is working at a pretty fancy bar, which has a strict policy of not allowing their girls to leave with the clients, although they can exchange numbers and date outside of work if they want.

A bar girl’s job shares similarities with the old-school geisha or gisaeng — they sit with men, flirt with them, and generally liven up the atmosphere. The reason this is a last resort for many women is because despite the hit to one’s reputation, it brings in money fast, in addition to liberal tips from their rich clientele. There’s no direct equivalent in the West for how Koreans view bar girls, but I’d say it’s somewhere between a Hooters waitress and an exotic dancer/stripper. Those don’t involve sex, but often come with stigmas.)

Pal-gang feels some shame at her choice, but at least the money is soothing. After work, she looks at her pay and figures that in the next six days, she’ll be able to make enough to put them up at a motel for a while. She stops by a convenience store to sober up (a bar girl’s job description generally requires drinking with the men) and douse herself in mouthwash to cover the smell.

When she gets home, rather than go to bed, she starts making breakfast, afraid that she won’t be able to wake up if she goes to sleep. Jun-ha comes into the kitchen early in the morning (before 5am) and finds her dozing. With concern, he asks if she can handle a night job while being their maid and still going to work. Pal-gang is surprised that he hasn’t heard: she was fired. She asks him to keep this from her siblings, and this news upsets him even more.

Left at home for the day, the kids clean the house and brainstorm for ways to keep from getting kicked out. Younger sister Cho-rok says Pal-gang should marry Tae-kyu, which the others shoot down immediately. He isn’t called “ddorai” (wacko) for nothing, you know. Cho-rok stands her ground, saying he just seems that way, but he actually has the best heart of all the men. Plus, his parents live in America, so if they marry, maybe they’ll get to move to the States!

Older sister No-rang prefers Jun-ha, because he’s nice and looks at them with sympathy. Eldest brother Ju-hwang is the one with the most sense, saying they’re totally jumping the gun.

Pal-gang spends the day at a sauna, because she doesn’t want her siblings to know she was fired.

Jun-ha comes into work that morning on a mission: He questions Pal-gang’s boss about her firing, and takes up the issue with both Kang-ha and Jae-young. Since Jae-young did the firing, he asks her to reconsider. Coldly, Jae-young answers that Pal-gang is an unneeded employee. She won’t let personal feelings interfere with work.

Jun-ha starts to bring up Pal-gang’s dire circumstances, at which point Kang-ha tells him to give it up. It’s clear that the other two find Jun-ha to be too nice (which is a quality they deem weak); Kang-ha warns him not to interfere in the first place if he’s not going to assume responsibility for her. He calls his brother a character out of a romantic comic book, and that he should know that interfering with someone else’s life will only ruin his own. (This statement alone sheds quite some light on Kang-ha’s character, doesn’t it? It suggests that he’s angry not with Jun-ha’s naivete but rather his own, as though he’d been like that once and gotten burned.)

His reaction infuriates Jun-ha, and when he next runs into Jae-young, he says sarcastically that she should marry Kang-ha after all, since they’re made for each other. Go Jun-ha!

That night, Pal-gang has to rid herself of Tae-kyu, who has cheerfully announced he will help her with her cleaning job. Insisting that he will be more helpful to her watching over the kids, she leaves them at home, and goes out to the bar again.

As she’s called out to a guest’s room, the bar madam takes Pal-gang aside. She guesses that Mimi is a fake name, and hones in on Pal-gang’s attitude of shame/superiority. The madam warns her not to look down on this profession — does she think she’s better than the other girls? Pal-gang is chastened by this reminder not to think herself “above” this job, then heads to meet her patrons.

Mid-introduction, she recognizes one of the men in the room: It’s Kang-ha, here with In-gu (Chairman Jung’s son), having come together after a trying day at the hospital. Pal-gang immediately averts her eyes and they pretend they don’t know each other, although the atmosphere is strained. Pal-gang is visibly discomfited by In-gu’s skeevy ajusshi moves, and forces herself to try to be personable. Kang-ha looks (ever so slightly) uncomfortable, though he doesn’t say anything.

Things worsen when the third member of their party joins them: Jun-ha.

Outside in the hall, Jun-ha challenges his brother — is he just going to close his eyes to this? Pal-gang had a crush on him for five years, so he could at least scold her for her choice, telling her not to resort to hostessing. (He means that if Kang-ha says something, he will have some influence over her.) Kang-ha is almost offended by that suggestion: “And why would I? SHE chose this herself.” Jun-ha points out that he had pushed her this far.

Kang-ha: “If we let her stay with us, do you think her life would change?”
Jun-ha: “I’m just saying to give her a small opportunity. Just a small one!”
Kang-ha: “Opportunities aren’t given, they’re something you make for yourself.”
Jun-ha: “She has no chance to make opportunities!”
Kang-ha: “Then she shouldn’t have lived like that!”

The last line he says with particular contempt.

At the end of the night, Jun-ha hangs behind to have a word with Pal-gang. Kang-ha is surprised, but merely shoots Pal-gang a look and goes. With Jun-ha, Pal-gang maintains a cool, detached tone, while he speaks to her in frustration:

Jun-ha: “Don’t you know you’re living recklessly?”
Pal-gang: “I know.”
Jun-ha: “Even though you know…”
Pal-gang: “So what if I do? Isn’t it enough to survive? I decided to only worry about that — surviving no matter what.”
Jun-ha: “Survive no matter what? Look here, Jin Pal-gang. Don’t you think you’ve entered this path too easily? That you chose the easy way out?”
Pal-gang: “Staying here with you means I lose opportunities to earn tips. I’m someone who needs every penny.”

With that, Pal-gang leaves, but she isn’t as impervious to his words as she pretended. On her way home, she tries to convince herself of her choice — who knows, she may have found something she’s actually good at. It’s better than working at the company where her nickname is “있으나마나 미스 진,” which means, “The Miss Jin who may as well not be here” or “Miss Jin who’s just as useful here or not.” She even starts to calculate for the future — as a hostess, she could earn an apartment deposit and put her siblings through school. So what if people sneer at her? As long as the kids don’t know, she can do it.

For all Kang-ha’s stoicism at the bar, once he’s home, his reaction points to some stirrings of sympathy deep (deep, deep) down, which I’m sure he’d really rather not be bothered with. But remembering how she shrank away from In-gu and looked uncomfortable, Kang-ha wrenches off his necktie and scowls.

Jun-ha confronts Pal-gang as she comes home, trying to get through to her again. Can she really do this, without regrets? “Even if you’re in a tight spot, there are things you can do and things you shouldn’t.” It seems the madam’s admonitions have bolstered Pal-gang’s defense, because she asks, what does it matter? She’s doing this to live, to feed her siblings. Jun-ha asks, “Do you think your siblings are going to thank you for raising them while being a hostess?” Pal-gang answers, “I don’t expect thanks. As long as we survive, that’s enough.”

But she hasn’t seen Ju-hwang stepping outside to overhear the last part, who says in a hard voice, “I won’t say thank you, and I don’t want to live like that! We’ll go to the orphanage.” Heading inside, he rouses his siblings from sleep, ordering them to hurry up and pack.

Pal-gang defends herself — she has no skills and she’s not smart, so she’s doing what she can to earn money! Ju-hwang fires back, “I don’t want to stay in a motel with money you earned at a bar!” Groggy and alarmed, the younger kids ask if she’s become a bar girl now, understanding, “But that’s a bad thing.”

Pal-gang: “I’m not ashamed of anything. No matter what the world says, I’m not the least bit ashamed. I’m doing this to survive, so if they’re going to point fingers, let them.”
Ju-hwang: “It’s not because I’m ashamed of you — it’s because I’m ashamed of us for making you into that!”

On the verge of tears, Ju-hwang leaves the house. Jun-ha and Tae-kyu have overheard the argument, and as Kang-ha joins them, Jun-ha asks caustically, “What are you standing there for? It must be annoying for you.”

Tae-kyu follows the boy outside, finding him sitting on a bench, and asks if Ju-hwang really intends to go to the orphanage. Ju-hwang answers, “It’s better than ruining her life.” Tae-kyu asks, “Without you guys, do you think your sister will be able to live happily?”

When Ju-hwang returns home, he tells Pal-gang they’ll leave tomorrow, and asks her to take them to the orphanage. Pal-gang sits in a dull daze, making a promise:

Pal-gang: “If I make you feel ashamed again, then I’ll take you to the orphanage. So until then, don’t talk about things like that, you jerk.”
Ju-hwang: “It’s only temporarily. Just for now — we have no other way. Even if you work to get money for a motel, you know we’ll be kicked out. You know that there’s no motel that will take us. At the orphanage, I’ll take good care of the kids. So when your situation improves, come get us. We’ll be fine until then.”
Pal-gang: “It’s because I’m not confident I can do it. If we’re separated, I’m afraid I won’t get you back. You know how I’m rude and selfish. If I start feeling that my life is easier without you, I’m afraid I won’t come get you. If you don’t want to turn me into a good-for-nothing, just live.”

Thankfully, the mood lightens in the morning as Pal-gang continues her maid duties. Kang-ha is unsettled to see her in his room — which is totally just another excuse to give us topless Kim Ji-hoon. (Not that I’m complaining; just pointing out that this drama is making sure we get plenty of opportunities to glimpse him without a shirt on. I knew I liked this show for a reason.)

Pal-gang has decided that since she’s going to be kicked out anyway, she’s going to clean on her terms. She assures him she’s not mooning over him — she thoroughly regrets wasting her time and money chasing after him, since if she’d come to her senses earlier, she wouldn’t have gone into card debt trying to look pretty for his benefit. Kang-ha is confused at her attitude change; she’s matter-of-fact and blunt, even insisting he sit down for breakfast.

(Pal-gang has finally mastered the art of cooking the rice to Kang-ha’s liking — her breakfasts are very, very slowly improving — although she has paid so much attention to the rice that nothing else is quite satisfactory.)

Despite her earlier bravado, Pal-gang has been influenced by the reactions of Jun-ha and Ju-hwang, so she goes back to the JK office that morning and boldly starts working as an assistant. Everyone eyes her curiously and her former supervisor ignores her, figuring she will get the message and quit sooner or later.

The boss asks what she’s doing here, and Pal-gang gets on her knees. She admits that she has never once envied her boss’s skills, or the care she put into her work. In fact, she had ridiculed her mentally — she’d thought that a woman just needs to meet the right man to have a good life, so the boss was sad for being an aging spinster. “I’ve committed an unforgivable sin. I’ve been regretting it tremendously. So please, help me. I have five siblings, and we have to survive. Please teach me how to become like you.”

The boss isn’t without sympathy, but she tells Pal-gang that it won’t work. Pal-gang begs, insisting that she will change. She’s not the same Miss Jin she used to be. Her boss says, “You see your clients as your income source. Do you think they don’t know that?”

The boss walks away, but Pal-gang remains kneeling in the office, unmoving, all day long. Gossip spreads through the office, so Jin-ju and Eun-mal rush to her side to urge her to give up — this isn’t the right way to cling to her job. They try to take the baby off her back, but Pal-gang resists: “The kid has to know too, that life isn’t easy. That way, he won’t become like me.”

The Won brothers and the hateful Jae-young also hear about Pal-gang’s efforts, and while Jae-young laughs it off, both brothers are disturbed. Jun-ha walks by, feeling bad to see her kneeling with difficulty, but as he steps toward her, he remembers Kang-ha’s warning not to interfere if he’s not ready to take responsibility for her.

At the end of the day, he gets into the elevator next to her, though she doesn’t even notice — she’s exhausted after spending the entire day in that position. On the upside, her efforts have paid off — her boss has told her to show up tomorrow. For what, it’s unclear, but it’s better than a dismissal.

Pal-gang rests on a bench on her way home, and when Nam gurgles a few syllables, she unlatches him from her back and asks him what he’s saying. The baby points up at the sky and repeats his gurgling, and finally she understands: “Mom, Nami said the word ‘mom’ and then ‘star’! He hasn’t said Mom since you went to heaven, but he must know you turned into a star.” She promises him, “I’ll pick that star for you.”

(And there we have our literal title — Pick the Stars.)

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

My caveat for continuing with Wish Upon a Star is that I’m pretty much going to skip over the Jung family parts. I know the story will have to be mentioned since it’ll grow in prominence as we get further along, so I can’t discount the scenes entirely. But for now, they’re getting shoved off to the side. Also, I hate Jae-young.

Grandpa/Chairman Jung still suffers from selective amnesia, which is frustrating to his family, particularly long-suffering son In-gu. The old man keeps asking for his eldest son, wondering why he isn’t coming to see him. The doctor explains that he’s reverted to the time he most wants to remember, which is before his first son died. As a result, he thinks it’s 25 years ago and doesn’t recognize Jae-young as his granddaughter. In-gu is frustrated (hence the night of drinking with the boys), but Min-kyung shrewdly points out that this is good for them. As long as he lives out his life with this amnesia, their inheritance is safe, since he won’t remember his hospital plans either.

 
COMMENTS

I appreciate that the drama has purposely made Kang-ha unlikable, so that we can have some fun spotting the tiny cracks that appear in his cold demeanor. There were a few teeny signs earlier, but this is the first episode where it becomes really apparent that Pal-gang bothers him more than he wants to admit. Not enough to do anything about it, but enough to sour his mood, which I enjoy seeing. I still don’t feel the pull that they should be together, but part of my fun is in watching how this will unfold, because I’m pretty confident that it’ll work out in the end.

Meanwhile, it’s still Shin Dong-wook’s time to shine. I wonder if they face some unforeseen difficulties with how appealing he is, because he’s supposed to be sort of a pushover. Kang-ha is an asshole with charisma, and Jun-ha is a nice guy without much of a presence (supposedly). Yet Shin Dong-wook does have presence, and he comes across as far from weak. Nice, yes, but not powerless. When he tells Jae-young that she and Jun-ha were made for each other, I just about cheered, because it’s true, and it also indicates that his feelings for her are at an end (or soon will be).

Speaking of whom, I don’t know why they cast that actress (Chae Young-in of Terroir, Wife’s Temptation) because she brings absolutely nothing positive to that role. I know she’s the second lead and we’re not supposed to root for her, but my favorite love triangles (rectangles) are the ones in which all the feelings are credible and all the characters likable in their own ways. With Jae-young, I don’t feel any sort of appeal — she not only is unlikable as a character, the actress doesn’t have much presence, either. It’s hard to believe she’d be an adequate rival for Pal-gang, who may be flawed but is also very lively, upbeat, and caring.

Also, Tae-kyu continues to be hilarious and sweet. Aside from the Jung family, this has a pretty nice cast.

RELATED POSTS

51 January 24, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 6

by javabeans

Episode 6 kicks off the next phase of this drama, in a fun way. Everything has now been set up, and although saying that Episodes 1-5 were setup ground makes it sound like they’re slow, in fact it’s quite the opposite. They’ve been fast-paced and funny, with a healthy amount of heart-tugging scenes sprinkled in. It’s just that with the relationship lines clearly drawn, now we get to play with them.

SONG OF THE DAY

AB Avenue – “다시, 겨울” (Again, winter) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 6 RECAP

Determined to do her housekeeping job to her utmost, Pal-gang leads her troop of siblings in a cleaning session around the house. Tae-kyu urges her to try a different tactic, because cleaning diligently isn’t likely to change Kang-ha’s mind. She has to try something that might work (like seduction).

Pal-gang answers that she’s not intending on changing his mind, but later that night, she tentatively seeks out Kang-ha.

Irritated, Kang-ha remains unmoved when she drops to her knees, saying sarcastically that she must have developed a habit of begging on her knees. He’d heard that she tried this at the office; it must have worked if she’s trying it again on him. But he won’t fall for it, so she may as well leave.

She admits that she has to try since she doesn’t have any other skills, and asks, “Just one month.” She’ll move out after one month of saving up money. (When he says that he hates the idea of a rowdy house full of kids, she blurts unthinkingly, “Then YOU leave for the month!” It’s so ridiculous that it’s funny, and she cringes.) He asks, “Why do I have to do this?” She answers, “You don’t, which is why I’m asking you to give in this once.”

Tae-kyu comes in to add his entreaties to the mix. Pal-gang furtively tells him to leave, but instead, he gets on HIS knees and bargains, “Uncle, I’ll quit doing drugs. I won’t do them anymore!” Kang-ha is dumbfounded: “You did drugs?” (Tae-kyu’s reply: “That’s a given for musicians.” When reminded that he passed his physical exam, Tae-kyu replies that there are ways to get around that. LOL.)

Tae-kyu begs, saying that Pal-gang and the kids will keep him clean: “If you kick out the kids, who knows what I’ll do if I fall into despair?”

Once they’re safely clear of the room, Pal-gang and Tae-kyu exult — it worked! (Pal-gang checks to make sure Tae-kyu’s really going to quit drugs, and he answers, “I don’t do drugs.” He’d made the whole thing up. HAHA.)

When Jun-ha arrives, they excitedly tell him the news. He’s displeased to hear Pal-gang begged on her knees again, but he is relieved at the news. She thanks him for worrying about her, and adds, “If you hadn’t said that yesterday in the yard, I would have gone back to work at the bar today. Thank you.”

Pal-gang takes the agreement one step further by drawing up a handwritten “contract,” which she asks Kang-ha to sign. It’s a statement promising to not kick her family out before their month is up; failure to do so will incur certain legal penalties. This whole conversation is pretty funny, so here it is:

Kang-ha: “What does ‘certain legal penalties’ refer to?”
Pal-gang: “Well, it just seemed I had to write it like that for it to seem like a real contract.”
Kang-ha: “Don’t you know that such a vague contract has no validity? When you say ‘for one month,’ what dates does that cover? Who specifically are the ‘siblings’ you mention? What exactly do you mean by ‘legal penalties’? That’s why your contracts are invalid!”
Pal-gang, cheerily: “They may be invalid, but I’ll have faith in your conscience. Please sign.”

Of course, living together (officially) has its drawbacks, such as bathroom crowding. With only one bathroom to share among five kids and three adults (Kang-ha’s upstairs bathroom is only for himself), this makes the morning rush difficult, and is reminiscent of the scenes at Pal-gang’s old house.

However, since everyone wants to prove to Kang-ha that this will work out, Jun-ha and Tae-kyu accept this all in good stride and don’t complain. (Their kindness fuels the kids’ continued discussions of who’s better, Jun-ha or Tae-kyu.)

Another hilarious exchange arises when Kang-ha confronts Pal-gang about the morning situation:

Kang-ha: “Tae-kyu is forced to do his business by a tree in the yard, and Jun-ha can’t shower because the kids are crowding the downstairs bathroom. Do you think this situation makes sense?”
Pal-gang: “It doesn’t. There are five children, and since they’re not invisible people, saying that they should act like they don’t exist didn’t make sense from the start.”

Pal-gang takes out her signed contract and shoves it in Kang-ha’s incredulous face:

Pal-gang: “There was no clause in the contract saying that the kids had to act invisible.”
Kang-ha: “Are you familiar with the phrase that the person in the wrong shouldn’t argue?”
Pal-gang: “It doesn’t work from a common-sense point of view, does it? If it doesn’t make sense for adults to act like they don’t exist, how can that be expected of kids? I thought you had enough sense to know that.”
Tae-kyu: “Lawyers are good at the law, but lack common sense. Don’t Pal-gang’s words make sense, Uncle?”

Kang-ha is so dumbstruck that he can only glower.

As Kang-ha walks off, Jun-ha takes the moment to rub his brother’s face in it a little. He asks innocently, “Doesn’t Jin Pal-gang have a great personality? She makes her own opportunities and has a lot of common sense.”

Jun-ha’s comment is a dig at Kang-ha’s previous criticism, that people should make their own chances rather than be given them freely.

At work the next morning, Pal-gang’s boss gives her a stack of wrapped gifts — they’re leftovers from her own stockpile given to her own clients. She means for Pal-gang to make the rounds to her own clients to give them the presents and pay a friendly visit. The assignment isn’t to win new contracts, so it’s low-pressure and also a generous move on the boss’s part, since Pal-gang doesn’t have money to go buying her own clients presents.

Pal-gang thanks her boss profusely and heads out to greet her customers. When one asks for information on a new policy, Pal-gang eagerly sits down and goes over the details, but is unfamiliar with the terms and is therefore unable to sign the new contract. Tae-kyu does his part by gathering his friends to sit down to a talk on why they should get insurance, but Pal-gang is underprepared and can’t convincingly explain why it would be beneficial for youngsters to invest in their futures.

Tae-kyu wonders what’s wrong — she usually speaks so glibly. And yet, once she’s in front of customers, she stammers and gets tangled up in her words.

Another cute conversation as the kids study (there are a lot of cute conversations in this episode). It’s currently vacation time, but soon they’ll have to head back to school. Second-youngest Pa-rang tries to talk them out of sending him back, so Cho-rok hits him. When he complains, “Why did you hit me?” she retorts, “Because you’re a dummy.”

Pa-rang turns his plea to his eldest sister — since they’re poor, does he have to go to school? He points out, “They say being rich is about saving money more than making money.” Going to school will cost money for supplies, but “if I stay at home, we don’t have to spend that money.” Ju-hwang sighs sarcastically, “Way to use that brain.” When Pa-rang entreats Pal-gang with his logic, she turns the job over to Cho-rok — who takes that as her cue to smack him again. Pa-rang complains, “This is why my brain is getting worse.”

All joking aside, when she’s alone, Pal-gang hopes (directing the plea to her parents), “Don’t let them become like me.”

Driven to do better with her insurance job, Pal-gang takes the book of policies and rehearses her sales pitch outside. She doesn’t realize anything’s wrong until she’s interrupted by the arrival of Kang-ha — and the two police officers who have been called by neighbors for a noise complaint. Kang-ha assures the officers he’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.

When he turns to deal with Pal-gang, it’s like he’s so used to her disrupting his quiet life that he’s more sarcastic than angry. She defends herself — sure, she made a mistake, but how ridiculous is it for neighbors to call the cops instead of just dealing with the scenario?

Jun-ha arrives home, breaking up the exchange, and she offers to cook him ramen since he was working late. She heads inside, leaving Kang-ha to grumble about the situation. Jun-ha looks at his brother’s face closely and comments, “How odd. This is the first time I’m seeing you talk so much with a woman.”

Kang-ha gets defensive: “She keeps talking to me!” Jun-ha marvels further, “And this is the first time I’ve seen you get angry because of a woman.”

To be polite, Pal-gang includes Kang-ha in the ramen offer, but says it in a discouraging tone so that he’s not likely to accept. Then Tae-kyu arrives and happily accepts, so he and Jun-ha eagerly dig in.

Kang-ha goes up to his room, disturbed at Jun-ha’s comment, and vows not to respond to Pal-gang anymore. So when he strolls by the kitchen to get some water, he remembers his vow and just gestures with his hands. He also steals a few glances as the ramen, but rejects the offer to have some. Jun-ha and Tae-kyu guess that he really wants some, but his pride won’t let him admit it. In his room alone, Kang-ha takes a dissatisfactory swig of plain water.

Pal-gang gets up early to fix breakfast, and Jun-ha comes upon her early in the morning. Actually, it’s not that he’s up early but that he was up all night working, so they sit down for an early-morning cup of coffee.

Pal-gang confides that her mother used to say that the most foolish person is the one who uses a lot of energy but doesn’t get anything done. That’s what she’s like — she may have the energy, but things don’t work out for her.

Jun-ha commiserates, because he’s the same way. Kang-ha is smart, and has never had to bring work home, whereas he has to spend a few nights here and there catching up. He shares a secret with her: “When I work at home, I always lock the door, because I don’t want to be caught by hyung or Tae-kyu.” Pal-gang doesn’t understand, but he says abashedly, “But it’s embarrassing.”

He asks her to keep that secret, in exchange for the secret she shared (about her own lack of ability).

Although it’s time for the kids to get up, Pal-gang assures Jun-ha that she had told them to wait until the adults left. That way, they can avoid a crush like yesterday. However, Jun-ha grabs extra chairs and adds them to the kitchen table. Pal-gang protests that the kids can eat later, but Jun-ha says that while they’re living together, it’ll be easiest to eat together too.

And so, when Kang-ha joins the group, everyone purposely flatters him in a bid to pre-empt complaints. They serve him first and address him as the eldest. (And it finally looks like Pal-gang has gotten the knack of breakfast cooking.)

At work, Pal-gang is again instructed to repeat her task from yesterday. However, Jae-young is displeased with the decision to keep her employed, and Pal-gang is called back to the office by a now-angry boss. She doesn’t understand what she did wrong, but the boss points out that she told her specifically NOT to pitch clients for sales. She was supposed to deliver the gifts and her greetings only. She had promised to change, but she doesn’t even listen to her instructions.

Pal-gang starts to tear up, starting to realize her errors. She cries that she wanted to do as her boss said, but she felt the time pressure to make money before she’s homeless again: “Every time I open my mouth, stupid words come out, and I hate myself too. Why am I so dumb? Why do I live like this?”

After work that evening, Jun-ha is driving home when he spots Pal-gang hesitating in front of the subway station. His curiosity is piqued when she finally walks inside, and he follows at a distance as she gets onto a subway car. She’s preoccupied with her thoughts, and keeps her head bowed.

Once the car is in motion, she stands in the middle of the compartment and starts speaking hesitantly, apologizing meekly for interrupting their busy evenings.

She makes her confession with a lot of difficulty, squeezing her eyes shut as she introduces herself as the useless Miss Jin who has never done anything right, who had mired herself in debt with her priorities all backward. “If my parents hadn’t died, I would still be living like that. But… but… now I can’t do that.” Opening her eyes, she explains that she has five siblings, and that in one month she will have no home.

Pal-gang: “But I don’t know how to do anything. I stutter in front of customers, and even though I talk well with other people, when I see my customers, my mouth freezes and I get scared. I get scared that I don’t know if I’m saying the right thing or if I have my information straight, so I can’t talk. So that’s why tonight, I’ve interrupted your time when you’re tired. I have to come to my senses and survive, but I’m afraid. I felt that if I could at least assert my courage like this, to come before strangers like you and tell you honestly what kind of person I am, then maybe I’ll be able to speak honestly with my customers. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being so disruptive.”

She bows her head, tears falling down her face — but surprisingly, everyone claps.

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

Chairman Jung wanders out of the hospital, trying to find his eldest son, and arrives in Pal-gang’s old neighborhood. He’s confused and disconcerted, especially when one of the residents, Man-soo, recognizes him. However, since Man-soo is dimwitted (he’s also the one who witnessed Pal-gang’s parents’ car crash), the truth that is mixed in with his words just comes out sounding like babble.

Chairman Jung has a brief memory flash of standing in this very spot and having brief interactions with Pal-gang and Cho-rok (and the name “Pal-gang” sparks something in his brain), but those are gone in a flash.

The Jung family freaks out to have him wander off, but thankfully he is recovered soon enough.

In-gu scolds his wife Min-kyung for acting so coldly with Kang-ha, whom he has already accepted as his future son-in-law. He also recognizes that his daughter always achieves her aims, and she has set her sights on marrying Kang-ha. Min-kyung has a particular aversion to her daughter being compared to her, perhaps because she has greater hopes for her daughter than she was able to achieve herself.

Kang-ha, meanwhile, continues to resist Jae-young’s attempts to win him over, saying that he doesn’t see her as a woman.

 
COMMENTS

This was a fun-packed episode, and finally starts to show us more behind Kang-ha’s facade. In the first five episodes, whenever Kang-ha got angry, he honestly seemed frightening and heartless, but starting in this episode, his anger is mixed with resignation, and also played for laughs. In the household, it’s eight versus one, and he’s on the losing end. I particularly enjoy Pal-gang getting the upper hand in a few of their exchanges, which is helped greatly by the fact that she honestly doesn’t seem to look at him with any romantic eyes. So when he tries to bluster and growl at her, she’s sassy right back.

It’s too bad I’m still on Jun-ha’s side, which is both a good and bad thing. On the downside of things, the longer I stay with him, the harder it’ll be to switch over to Team Kang-ha later (as we know must happen soon enough), and when the inevitable happens, I’ll feel really sorry for Jun-ha. On the upside, though, THIS is the kind of love triangle I like to see — the kind where the romantic pull is believable with both male leads. Plus, I enjoy that this isn’t a drama where the romances are played as life-or-death, once-in-a-lifetime things. There’s a time and a place for that kind of melodrama, but it’s not now.

I love that Jun-ha and Pal-gang had a bonding scene, and even when he’s displeased with her, it’s usually because he feels bad for her. For instance, when she announces that Kang-ha has agreed to let her stay for the month, he frowns to hear that she’d knelt at his feet. It recalls his anger at the bar, which I didn’t interpret as a self-righteous “How dare you do something sleazy” accusation, but as an expression of concern. It means that Jun-ha believes she’s worth more than she thinks of herself (since she’s always calling herself dumb and talentless), and doesn’t like to see her so easily demeaning herself. Having higher standards for her convinced Pal-gang to have higher standards for herself, and gave her the courage to go back to the office.

I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t really love the ending scene, which seemed overly dramatic. I see Pal-gang’s point about wanting to build up her courage, but it just seemed too saccharine and feel-good that everyone would burst into a round of applause. But that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the episode as a whole, and I’m hoping things keep improving.

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68 January 26, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 7

by javabeans

Best episode so far! It’s funny and adorable, with more character and plot development. I almost even found the Jung family scenes interesting (or, at least, not UN-interesting). All the characters are growing into their quirks, particularly the kids.

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EPISODE 7 RECAP

Pal-gang comes home after making her subway speech, and finds Tae-kyu waiting for her outside. Her first thought is that he’s locked out or drunk, not that he’s concerned for her well-being since she’s out late. Granted, he does seem a little tipsy, but he’s mostly here to fuss over her.

He persists on calling her by her name, which is inappropriate since she is older and has told him repeatedly to call her noona. However, tonight she feels generous and offers to be friends, inviting him to continue using her name. However, Tae-kyu declines the offer — he doesn’t want to be a friend! “Marry me, Jin Pal-gang! I love you!”

He grabs her in a hug, and she kicks him in the shin. She talks to him like he’s a pesky brother, warning him to cut it out. When Tae-kyu persists in calling her his soulmate (adding, “If you marry me, you can stay at the house even after a month”), she concedes that it’s not an entirely awful idea, but she’s already foisting five kids on the family, so no, she won’t add to the burden.

Jun-ha watches the exchange from his car. I wouldn’t say he’s disturbed, but more like discomfited.

In the morning, Kang-ha awakens to find a lump huddled at the foot of his bed. It’s Pa-rang, who mumbles, “I have a sleepwalking disorder. Please be understanding.” Yawning, he goes right back to sleep.

The other Jin siblings have noted Pa-rang’s disappearance. Worrying, they check around the house and outdoors. Kang-ha informs them of Pa-rang’s whereabouts and requests that they remove the boy. Ju-hwang is used to disciplining his brother and prepares to give him a whooping, saying that he’s got to feel some anxiety in order to keep his subconscious self from wandering into Kang-ha’s room.

Ju-hwang chases his brother around the room, noting that in the past he had improved after a spanking. Pa-rang promises to do better without the beating, and hides behind a sympathetic Jun-ha, who steps in and takes Pa-rang’s side.

Jun-ha scoops up Pa-rang and heads outside, while Ju-hwang chases, intent on delivering his disciplining. Tae-kyu feels left out and stops them, challenging his uncle: “Why are you doing this to our kids? They’re friendlier with me! Why are you butting in?” He thinks they’re playing a game and takes over Jun-ha’s role. Haha.

It’s the weekend and Pal-gang has put together a breakfast of toast, which is easier on her. Jun-ha eyes his picky brother and starts to say that Kang-ha doesn’t eat this kind of breakfast, but surprisingly, Kang-ha (grudgingly) agrees to put up with it.

Pa-rang is the brother with the least grasp on common sense, so he talks right to Kang-ha, saying, “Ajusshi, No-rang noona says that the other ajusshi is handsome, and my younger sister says Tae-kyu hyung is more handsome. But I think you’re the best. Honestly, you’re like a Power Ranger! And you fight well, don’t you?” (Puahaha! Kang-ha is not exactly flattered at this comparison.)

The girls take advantage of this time to further their campaigns with the men: No-rang pesters Jun-ha to express how he feels about Pal-gang, while Cho-rok talks to Tae-kyu. When Tae-kyu calls Pal-gang his soulmate and confides that he proposed, Cho-rok is thrilled and congratulates her sister on her impending marriage. (Pal-gang dryly comments that Ju-hwang will have to knock some sense into Cho-rok as well.)

Jun-ha tries to avoid No-rang’s questioning politely by escaping the house, but she tags along and talks his ear off about her sister. Plus, doesn’t he know she has great legs? “Take a look! They’re really slender!”

Wondering why the house is so quiet, Kang-ha goes back downstairs. Ju-hwang tells him that Pal-gang went grocery shopping with the others, then rushes off to the bathroom, still battling his constipation. Kang-ha spies Nam about to fall off the table and rushes to catch him, but then has to contend with his hungry crying.

Kang-ha tells Ju-hwang to come out and deal with it, but Ju-hwang isn’t going to be done for a while and instructs Kang-ha how to mix the formula. Kang-ha fumbles his way through it but eventually manages, though he has difficulty testing the temperature; Ju-hwang warned him to make sure it’s not too hot. Kang-ha tries to shake the formula into his mouth to test it, but the stuff just sprays all over his face. Frustrated, finally he sucks on the bottle — and comes face to face with Pal-gang.

She chides him for being dirty. Kang-ha bursts out in his defense that he was testing the temperature, then leaves the baby to her care, feeling annoyed and embarrassed. Out in the hall, Cho-rok’s words make him frown; she says, “He must not know how to do it. I thought lawyers were supposed to be smart.” Pa-rang defends Kang-ha, but that’s almost worse: “I think we’re similar.”

Tae-kyu chuckles to see his uncle at such a loss, saying that Kang-ha’s charisma has taken a hit because of Pal-gang.

Later that night, Pal-gang studies her insurance handbook while her siblings sleep, and gets a nosebleed. On her way to clean up, she runs into Jun-ha, who offers her some warm milk, and they sit for another chat. She marvels at how different he and his brother are, and he answers, “Women only like my brother.” Pal-gang answers loyally, “That’s because their eyes are faulty!” But she’d once been one of those women, so he asks wryly, “You too?”

Regarding the nosebleed (which in kdramas mean you’re overworking), Jun-ha says that she must be taking on too much. Pal-gang’s answer is happy, though: “But you know, I feel really wonderful.” She’s never had a nosebleed from working really hard at something. He understands a little: “Do you know how it feels to study all night, then go to school and lie that you fell asleep and didn’t study?” (She muses, “That’s never happened to me.”) “Well that’s what I would say, and when I went to the bathroom my nose was bleeding and I felt good because it meant I’d studied really hard.”

She promises to keep this a secret, too, prompting him to note that they keep confiding secrets in each other. Pal-gang laughs, saying they should start up a secret society or something, and bids him good night. As they separate, he pauses to glance back at her with a thoughtful look, and this marks Jun-ha’s first time seeing her as a woman in a conscious way.

The next task Pal-gang’s boss gives her is to merely “let them know you’re not a stranger.” These basic lessons are her boss’s way of training her at her job, not by following specific rules but in a way that teaches her to be sincere. Pal-gang is starting to understand, although she wonders how she can accomplish this latest task.

One of their co-workers, the middle-aged pinchpenny Jang-soo (who has a crush on Jin-ju), has heard of a possible job opportunity for Pal-gang as an event model. It’s a job requiring skills that she doesn’t have (modeling, dancing, being graceful), so she thanks him for the thought but declines. She’s committed to making the insurance gig work.

Therefore, she drops by a client’s office and hears that his father has passed away, and pays her respects at the funeral. The client hadn’t expected to see her, but she stays behind at the wake and cleans up after the dining guests.

Since she’ll be late coming home, the kids take over dinner duties. Surprisingly, they do a pretty good job, and their cooking is even better than Pal-gang’s. Again, the sisters pay particular attention to Jun-ha and Tae-kyu. It’s very cute, because while both sisters are flattering the guys to get them interested in Pal-gang, it comes across more as their own adoring crushes. The flattery makes Jun-ha uncomfortable, and even Kang-ha has to deal with his own unwanted admirer — Pa-rang.

There’s a funny moment when Tae-kyu comes home bearing flowers for Pal-gang, which he can’t give her because she’s still out. Jun-ha assumes they’re for Kang-ha’s upcoming birthday, and Kang-ha actually smiles in appreciation — which is then wiped from his face when he hears they’re for Pal-gang. When Tae-kyu announces that he’s going to marry her, Kang-ha barks, “You said you quit doing drugs!”

Pal-gang’s client’s son thanks her for her help but urges her to go home now. She assures him she’ll stay just a while longer till the guests leave, and sees that the widow has been sitting in tears all night long. The woman cries that she and her husband had fought all the time and she’d thought she would feel free when he died — but now that there’s nobody to fight with, she feels empty. There’s an old song her husband used to sing, and Pal-gang would like to sing it for her but she’s not familiar with it. She promises to learn it and sing for her at a later date.

When she gets home, Pal-gang finds rice and packaged seaweed soup with a note from Jun-ha letting her know that tomorrow is Kang-ha’s birthday. Since she’s probably tired, he bought the soup ahead of time (seaweed soup is traditionally eaten as a birthday breakfast) to help her.

In the morning, Pa-rang is asleep in Kang-ha’s bed again. The boy again mumbles his apology, then falls right back asleep comfortably. Kang-ha grumbles, “They all say sorry, then do as they please anyway.” But today, he actually pulls the blanket back over the boy.

Ju-hwang finds his brother and is determined to scold some sense into him. Kang-ha leaves the room to let Ju-hwang do his thing, smiling to hear Ju-hwang’s rebukes about being rude to sleep in Kang-ha’s room. But that smile drops from his face when Ju-hwang makes the implication that Pa-rang should watch it around Kang-ha since he’s not a nice person.

Pa-rang replies, “But I think he has a good personality,” which brings the self-satisfied smirk back to Kang-ha’s face… which again twists into a frown when Ju-hwang retorts that Pa-rang has no taste in people. (Kang-ha’s facial gymnastics = SO FUNNY.)

It’s quite a turnaround to see Kang-ha looking so pleased — and not trying to hide it — when he is presented with a special birthday breakfast. In addition to the soup, Pal-gang has gone out of her way to make a special side dish of japchae (sauteed vermicelli noodles), which he samples.

Immediately his face tells the story — as do the faces of the others. Pal-gang has failed to do the crucial soaking step and cooked with hard noodles. LOL.


At work, Pal-gang asks Eun-mal to teach her the song that the grandma mentioned, and practices singing it with her. Of course, this is when Jae-young walks by with Jun-ha and scolds her again with her pinched face and accusing tone.

I’m sure Jun-ha would have defended Pal-gang regardless, but today he has a point, noting that Jae-young’s reaction was excessive. Comparing Pal-gang to a crazy woman is pretty unfair. Jae-young explains, “There’s another someone like that. Whenever I see her or Jin Pal-gang, it really gets on my nerves.”

With the song newly memorized, Pal-gang heads back to the funeral wake looking for the grandmother, only to hear that she has collapsed and is in the hospital.

Meanwhile, Ju-hwang manages to convince the owner of a PC room to give him a job doing menial tasks there like serving customers and cleaning up. He tells his siblings that he’s out with a friend, which No-rang knows is a lie — first he said he was at the library, and now he’s with a friend? Pa-rang suggests, “He must have gone to the library, then to his friend’s.” Cho-rok points out that Pa-rang doesn’t know what a library is, and defines it as a place where you read books. Now Pa-rang understands their skepticism: “Books? He lied, where did hyung really go?” (HA! I guess this isn’t a reading kind of family.)

Jun-ha takes Kang-ha and Tae-kyu out for birthday drinks, and brings over three women to sit at their table. They aren’t hostesses; I think this is more of a booking situation, where they are fellow customers. He has made a deal with one girl in particular, however, to flirt with Tae-kyu. This is his attempt to divert Tae-kyu from the silly idea of marrying Pal-gang.

Again, gotta love Kang-ha’s reaction when Jun-ha explains that this is why they’re here. He almost pouts, “But you said this night was for me.” Jun-ha responds, “That’s because it had to be believable.”

Kang-ha isn’t interested in the woman clinging to his arm, so he gets up to leave early just as Jae-young arrives bearing a gift. (She had ignored Kang-ha’s dismissal earlier when he had told her, “I’m a man. I’m not a crazy guy to spend my birthday with my little sister.”)

Kang-ha’s not downright mean with her, but he’s very blunt about his lack of interest, and she just keeps ignoring them. Like tonight: He accepts her gift, but her company is not an enticement for him to head back inside. Instead, he goes home early.

Feeling hurt at his rejection, Jae-young proceeds to get drunk. At least Jun-ha’s having better luck with his plan to detach Tae-kyu from Pal-gang, since Tae-kyu is responding very positively to the new girl. (Jun-ha isn’t doing this with malicious intent; he recognizes that this is a passing — and inconvenient — infatuation and is hastening its conclusion.) Tae-kyu gets happily drunk and vows that this new girl is his soulmate, and proposes that they get married.

At home, Pa-rang sleepwalks into Tae-kyu’s empty room. He then heads out to the living room, where he plays with two objects he has retrieved — a lighter and a firecracker.

It’s not until the firecracker lights and the couch catches on fire that Pa-rang wakes up and tries to bat at the flames with his bare hands.

Thankfully, Kang-ha walks in the door and yanks the boy away, then beats the fire with his coat. Pal-gang walks in a few moments later and rushes to her brother’s side, who is by now sobbing for his mother in fear.

Kang-ha manages to put out the fire, but he turns his furious gaze on Pal-gang and demands, “Leave immediately. Right now! Get out!”

Pal-gang has seen her brother’s burned fingers, and Kang-ha’s anger ignites her own. Furious, she slaps his cheek.

He yells that the house could have burned down, and she fires back, “My brother could have died, you heartless bastard!”

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

Kang-ha has a meeting with some higher-level JK executives, who discuss the possibility of Chairman Jung dying or being unable to recover his senses. His stocks will pass to his heirs, but with the subsequent shakeups, Kang-ha may well become JK’s primary stockholder and be able to “recover” his management rights. Kang-ha doesn’t believe he ever had those rights to lose, but they remind him that if his father had not died, the Chairman wouldn’t have been able to take over so easily. There are still those who would be loyal to his deceased father, and they’re willing to help… (I guess his father and Chairman Jung were at the same level, which explains how he grew up so close to the Jung family.)

Kang-ha tells them to forget it: “If you’ve thought of me as a stand-in for my father, you have misjudged. I am only a lawyer with JK’s legal team.” They argue that he must have hidden motives for joining JK instead of accepting scouting offers at law firms, but Kang-ha denies it flatly.

Chairman Jung is discharged from the hospital to be cared for at home, at Min-kyung’s prodding. There’s a scene in the hospital when Pal-gang walks by, triggering Grandpa’s memory. But she walks on, and he loses the thought.

At home, he asks Min-kyung if she’s the bar girl that In-gu had brought home — his memory is flickering in and out and he isn’t quite sure of the facts. Didn’t she also try to kill herself? Min-kyung keeps an even tone but it’s evident that these old scars still hurt; she answers that yes, she tried to kill herself after the chairman had said he would never accept her for his daughter-in-law. He wonders, “Did I speak so heartlessly? You must have felt very hurt.” Min-kyung replies, “I wish I could be like you, forgetting what I want, remembering what I want. No — there’s nothing I want to remember from before Jae-young was born.”

When Grandpa checks his voicemail, he hears Pal-gang’s father’s last words, groaning, “Sir… your son… child… is our…” He drops the phone in shock as all the memories come flooding back — Pal-gang’s father, the Jin family, In-gu’s tirade — and he collapses.

 
COMMENTS

As I said, this is the first time we see Jun-ha becoming aware of Pal-gang. He doesn’t say anything in words, but he casts a few looks her ways that are very telling, plus he has No-rang pestering him to think of Pal-gang as a good match. (The “look at her legs” line made me burst out laughing.)

He seems to have gotten over his long-standing feelings for Jae-young in the previous episodes, and while I don’t think that quite makes sense for him to let go so suddenly, I’m not complaining. I’ll take it. It’s also why I get some satisfaction out of seeing him treat Jae-young differently now. He’s not mean to her — he’s too nice for that — but he does speak to her with dry sarcasm now. For example, when she finds them in the cafeteria and complains that they should have called her to join them, he returns, “Why, do you not know where the dining hall is?”

I enjoy how quickly the plot is developing. I LOVED seeing Kang-ha make the change from grumpypants to grudging resignation to almost-open acceptance, but it made me wonder what would happen for the rest of the series if he made the change so soon. He’s getting used to the family, as evidenced by his pleased expression at the birthday breakfast (even if that was marred by Pal-gang’s bad cooking). Even though he dislikes Pa-rang sleeping in his bed, the second time he’s not even fazed. And when he has to watch Nam, he’s not actually as awkward with the baby as you might expect.

So I like that this ending puts the family back on the hook, and this time it’s really not Kang-ha’s fault. It would be nice if he could be understanding, but given how far he’s come, you’ve gotta admit that setting fire to his living room falls into the “pushing it” category. It’s also a nice touch to make this Pa-rang’s doing, because he’s the one who looks up to Kang-ha, and also the one Kang-ha has been slowly warming up to (if reluctantly).

You can’t quite blame Pa-rang either, and not just because he’s a kid but also because this happened on the night when Pal-gang and Ju-hwang were both away. It reminds me of the earlier episode when the kids try to help out around the house and end up making a mess — their intentions are good, but they just bit off more than they could chew. Here, things were going along well, but Ju-hwang leaves to make extra money (and I’m not blaming him either), and this overreaching disrupts their fragile balance. Just when they’re starting to settle into a sense of comfort and ease, they let their guard down and now their future may be jeopardized again.

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74 January 29, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 8

by javabeans

When I first started watching Wish Upon a Star, I had no idea it would be as winning as it is shaping up to be. We’re still not yet half-done so I won’t make grand proclamations, but it’s doing a great job so far. Particularly with this episode, which was a laugh-out-loud, hilarious, aww-inducing one. Just a short while ago we were all wondering how the heck Kang-ha would be made human, and all of a sudden he broke out and owned this episode. Well, when he wasn’t being owned by the kids.

SONG OF THE DAY

Dyne – “깐따삐야에서 온 소녀” (Girl from Kkanddabbiya). If you listen to this song while walking, I guarantee it’ll put a spring in your step. [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

Pal-gang slaps Kang-ha, angry that he would care about his house more than the safety of an injured child. I don’t think he’s actually that callous, but their tempers are running high and she is acting reflexively. They glare at each other.

Young Pa-rang understands the danger of angering Kang-ha and bursts into tears, begging him to forgive his sister. He cries that she didn’t know what she was doing and didn’t mean to slap him, and pleads not to be kicked out of the house.

There’s a slight shift in Kang-ha’s expression, and based on the next scene we can interpret this to mean that he feels bad. In his room, he replays the scene that just happened, but instead of focusing on the fire or his anger, his memory lingers on Pal-gang calling him a heartless bastrd.

Pa-rang keeps sobbing, asking, “If we’re kicked out because of me, what will happen to us?” Pal-gang tries to soothe her brother, then heads to face Kang-ha. She approaches contritely, apologizing for acting out of anger, and asks if his cheek hurts from her slap. Although his answer is sarcastic — “This heartless bastard needs some sleep, so please leave” — the dryness of his response is a good sign. He’s no longer fuming, which Pal-gang takes as a positive sign.

In fact, the mood lifts when she promises to make a full breakfast for him tomorrow (rather than the easier-to-prepare Western-style breakfast). Kang-ha blurts, “And don’t break the yolks on the fried eggs!”

The complaint is so random that it’s funny, and Pal-gang is puzzled, but goes with it. It’s like Kang-ha has been caught off-guard with the sympathy and is now back on solid ground with something to criticize.

Ju-hwang earns 20,000 ($15) on his first night working at the PC room, and walks out happily. Outside, he’s stopped by the three older guys who also work at the PC room, who offer to “hold” the money for him. The threat is clear and Ju-hwang tries to run, but they grab him and kick him to the ground, then steal his money.

Holding back bitter tears, Ju-hwang comes home and tries to keep his bruised face hidden. Pal-gang asks how he got the injuries, wondering if he’s been fighting. Ju-hwang feels angry enough that he takes it out on her and talks back, then storms out the front door. Kang-ha watches the scene from the second floor.

This scene is all sorts of MEH so here’s the nuts-n-bolts: Jae-young is drunk (after Kang-ha’s rejection) and Jun-ha takes her home. She feels silly for feeling depressed when she’s been rejected by Kang-ha repeatedly. She leans on Jun-ha, who (STUPID BOY) seems to feel a surprising stirring of emotion at the gesture. He covers it up and leaves, pausing when Jae-young says: “It would have been nice if it had been you. You’re kind enough to bring tears to a person’s eyes. It would have been nice if it was you. But why isn’t it?”

His voice hardens: “You must be dead drunk to be talking such junk.”

Kang-ha steps outside, where Ju-hwang stands in the cold, and tells the boy to come inside. Kang-ha advises that since he doesn’t have money, he shouldn’t try to run away; he’ll just have to come back home, which chips away at his image.

Ju-hwang answers that he’s not a guy with a cool image worth preserving anyway (so this statement really tells us more about Kang-ha’s thought processes than Ju-hwang’s). Ju-hwang is the second-smallest boy at school, which is why kids pick on him. He’s got no force. He admits that he’d worked at a PC room and gotten robbed.

Kang-ha says that having force isn’t about height, and asks why Ju-hwang didn’t tell his sister the truth. Ju-hwang answers that there’d be no point, sounding glum. Before sending Ju-hwang back inside, Kang-ha leaves him with a parting thought: “You’re not a guy without force.”

Jun-ha comes home in time to see the end of that, and comments sardonically, “Now you’re even chatting with kids. You’ve changed a lot.” Kang-ha grits out defensively, “That family keeps talking to me.” Jun-ha returns, “How unlike you to make excuses.”

That night, the kids sleep tied together to ensure that Pa-rang won’t wander off. This means that in the morning when Kang-ha awakes, he feels around tentatively for a lump that isn’t there. I wouldn’t say he’s disappointed that Pa-rang isn’t there, but he certainly isn’t triumphant, either.

Tae-kyu wakes up from his night of debauchery, and finds a woman in bed and his face streaked with lipstick. He freaks out — why is he here? Why is SHE here? The girl reminds him, “We agreed to get married.”

Tae-kyu is horrified, and feels like he betrayed Pal-gang: “No! Honey, I’m sorry!”

Arriving home, he joins the family in the kitchen. Since this is part of Jun-ha’s plan (to distract Tae-kyu with another girl), he deliberately asks about the girl at the club and their wedding plans. Tae-kyu tries to shush him, thinking he’ll offend Pal-gang. On the contrary, she congratulates him — although Cho-rok, who has been his personal cheerleader, is deeply hurt. She accuses, “I didn’t know you were that kind of guy! Traitor.”

In an act of atonement, Tae-kyu treats the kids to pizza and chicken. The other kids dig in, but Cho-rok refuses to eat, and Tae-kyu resorts to begging for her forgiveness.

Tae-kyu is ashamed of himself and tells Cho-rok that he feels the same way as she does, but reminds her to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” LOL. Kneeling down, he says she’s his only hope. Finally, Cho-rok grudgingly relents: “If you disappoint me again, I won’t even call you oppa.”

The funeral for Pal-gang’s client ends, and the son thanks her for all her help. She wishes she could accompany the funeral party to the burial, but he says she’s already done enough. In fact, he has told his cousin about Pal-gang, and he is expecting her to drop by to talk about insurance policies.

Pal-gang thanks the man for his kindness, and heads to the hospital to check on his mother, who had collapsed in her grief. She sits with the grandma, who cries because she isn’t able to be a part of the burial party for her husband.

Hurriedly, Pal-gang searches for a way to cheer her up, and starts to sing the song she had practiced, the one that the grandma had asked about. Pal-gang launches into her rendition with enthusiasm (not seeing that Kang-ha, who has visited Chairman Jung, sees this from down the hall).

However, this only makes grandma cry even harder, because it’s a song her husband used to sing for her. So Pal-gang hurriedly changes the song and offers a newer, happier tune.

At the end of Episode 5, Kang-ha had driven right past Pal-gang without offering her a ride home. In contrast, today he pulls up to the curb and offers her a ride. (Of course, this is grumpy Kang-ha who has a cool image to preserve, so he does it in a brusque way, saying, “Get in. Can’t you hear me?”) This is so unexpected that Pal-gang scratches her head, wondering why he would bother and what the special occasion is.

Suddenly, she’s gripped with abdominal pains, and asks him to pull over immediately. She can’t wait until they get home — need bathroom now! (He grumbles at the Jin family’s constipation issues; she replies that six siblings sharing a bathroom will do that to you.)

While he waits in the car, he catches a whiff of something odd. Sniffing around, he locates the source: Nam’s diaper needs changing. (I have to give the guy props for actually changing the baby instead of waiting for Pal-gang, but I suppose it’s his perfectionist nature that’s unable to abide dirtiness.)

The diaper is gross (no censoring here!) but hilarious, as Kang-ha struggles to get a new one on the baby. In the process, he gets some poop on his finger, which then gets on his shirt, disgusting him thoroughly.

When she gets back to the car, he sends her off to buy soap to wash his hands, since the bathroom is out of it. Neither has cash but he gives her his credit card. (I love that Pal-gang takes advantage of the moment to suggest that it’s odd to buy one bar of soap with a credit card — so how about she buy some formula while she’s at it? He can take the price out of her pay.)

When she returns with soap, he washes his hands and intends to throw away his shirt. Horrified at that waste, she insists on washing the shirt for him, then dries it with the hand dryer. She doesn’t dry it fully so it’s still a bit damp, but she says it should warm up in no time.

Unfortunately, when they get back to the car, it’s gone. The police take the report, but even they don’t have much hope — she’d left the keys in the car (thinking they’d be back asap), which was just asking for someone to steal it. Kang-ha glowers when the cops assume that he and Pal-gang are a married couple.

Feeling sorry, Pal-gang tells Kang-ha sadly, “You don’t have to give me my pay.” At least she still has her metro card, so they can take the subway home.

Only, well, that’s not such a successful endeavor, either, when a drunk ajusshi vomits all over Kang-ha’s jacket. (You know what elevates the above right pic from funny to brilliant? The big ol’ look of glee on Pal-gang’s face.) It’s bad enough that other subway passengers mistake Pal-gang and Kang-ha for a married couple, but this just makes it that much worse.

Back to the bathroom, where Pal-gang washes his jacket in the sink. Kang-ha wants to throw it away, but she points out that he’ll be freezing in his undershirt and finishes up. Unfortunately, this bathroom’s hand dryer is broken… which means that Kang-ha has to put on a sopping wet jacket.

Kang-ha shivers as they walk down the subway station, and Pal-gang spots a food vendor, suggesting that he warm up with something hot to eat. I LOVE how much Pal-gang is enjoying this, since she digs into fish skewers with enthusiasm. She tries to mollify Kang-ha by piling on the flattery, telling Nam that the lawyer ajusshi is such a nice person! Why, even on the day his car gets stolen, he buys them fish skewers! “When you grow up, you have to become a wonderful person like the lawyer ajusshi!”

While they’re out, how about some ddukkbokki too? Kang-ha doesn’t have much of an appetite, but Pal-gang helps herself to soondae, fried squid, and mandoo on top of that. He’s a little awed and a little disgusted at her hearty appetite. Every time he pays for something, Pal-gang’s go-to phrase is, “You can take it out of my salary.” He reminds her that she’d said he didn’t have to pay her, which deflates her mood for a moment. She asks if he really intends not to pay her, maintaining a hopeful tone that he’ll let her take that back.

Her spirits lift to see another street vendor, this time selling sweet potatoes, which the kids really love. They stop to buy some, and Kang-ha orders 5,000 won’s worth. Pal-gang asks the vendor in a pointed, reluctant tone, “5,000 won won’t buy much, will it? Oh well, give us 5,000 won’s worth anyway.” At this point, it’s not even worth fighting: Kang-ha amends, “Make it 10,000 won.”

They resume walking, Kang-ha hunched over from the cold, now plagued by the occasional sneeze. Grudgingly, he takes a sweet potato from Pal-gang, who asks, “Aren’t you thankful?” He looks at her in puzzlement: “What?”

Pal-gang: “You’ve probably never eaten roasted sweet potatoes from a street vendor before. You would have died not knowing what this was like, but I showed you. I thought you might feel thankful.”
Kang-ha: “The baby’s poopy diapers, losing my car, getting vomited on, walking around in wet clothes in the middle of winter — yes, I’m SO grateful I could die.”
Pal-gang, laughing: “Even though you talk like that, you’re really thankful, aren’t you? So… please give me my salary!”

He’s so lost for words that he just looks at her incredulously.

The kids dig in to the sweet potatoes, although they find it hard to believe that Kang-ha bought it for them. Pa-rang defends him, saying he’s really a nice guy. Cho-rok speaks up for Tae-kyu, who spent much more money on pizza and chicken. No-rang counters that if you only care about money, you’re materialistic. If you consider a person’s feelings, Jun-ha is the best.

Kang-ha is sneezing in earnest now, and when Pa-rang tiptoes into his room, he’s huddled in bed. Pa-rang thanks Kang-ha for the potatoes, and when he notices Kang-ha’s expression, he asks if he’s sick. Kang-ha says he’s not, but it’s pretty obvious that he is.

Pa-rang tells his sister that Kang-ha looks really ill, so she heads up with warm tea.

Kang-ha tells Pal-gang to leave, declining the tea, but she feels bad and approaches anyway. Sitting by him, she asks him to drink the tea. She explains that when she feels sorry, she ends up causing more trouble by overcompensating. For instance, she felt sorry about the dirty diaper, but that ended in him losing his car. She feels so bad about tonight that she couldn’t even say the words, which is why she was acting so chipper in the face of their troubles.

When she checks his forehead, she feels that he’s feverish. However, he tells her repeatedly that he’s fine and that she should leave him alone, making her hesitant to bother him again. Downstairs, she prepares a cold compress for his fever, but paces back and forth, not wanting to upset him by intruding again.

So when Jun-ha comes home, she takes that as good timing — can he take the compress up?

Jun-ha does, and checks on his brother, suggesting that he go to the hospital. Kang-ha doesn’t think that’s necessary, though he’s put out to see his brother smiling. Jun-ha explains that Kang-ha (who is often called Iron Man for his steely personality) finally seems human now that he’s sick.

Jun-ha finds Pal-gang making some warm lemon water, and his expression darkens a little to see her taking such care. He asks suspiciously, “You haven’t given up on him, have you?”

Pal-gang waves that aside, assuring him that she has come to her senses. She just feels bad for causing Kang-ha a lot of aggravation today. She explains, “I’m not going to think of anything else until Nami graduates from university. When I came to live here, I cut my hair in the sauna bathroom and decided: ‘I’m no longer a woman. I’m just a mother now.'”

In the morning, Kang-ha finds the lemon water at his bedside, which he drinks. Next to it is a note, which he reads:

Pal-gang: “When I receive my salary, I’ll buy you really good vitamins. Really, you can believe me. So today, I’ll show that I’m sorry with this lemon water.”

He has to smile at that. Meanwhile, she prepares him the common sickbed meal, rice porridge (which is to Koreans what chicken noodle soup is to Americans).

However, he doesn’t eat any, since he comes downstairs dressed and ready for work. He wastes no time heading out the door, making Pal-gang comment, “You must hate the sight of me because I made you sick.” He returns in his usual gruff way, “As long as you know.”

But that doesn’t hurt her feelings; she merely marvels at how easily he speaks such harsh words.

Grandpa/Chairman Jung has heard the last voicemail of Pal-gang’s father, and is devastated to hear that the Jins died in a car crash. Now that he has recovered his memory, he comes by the old neighborhood, and this time he recognizes Man-soo and asks where Pal-gang went. Hearing that she moved away, the chairman leaves.

A short while later, Pal-gang also drops by the neighborhood to speak to Man-soo’s parents about their insurance policy. Man-soo tells her that Grandpa Jung was just here looking for her, and she rushes in the general direction to look for him.

He’s already gone by the time she gets there, but as she trudges back to the bus stop, she sees his familiar figure waiting at the bus stop, and she calls out to him. His face lights up to recognize her.

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

As mentioned, Chairman Jung has recovered his memory. After he collapses from hearing the voicemail message, he is taken to a hospital, where he lies in bed, eyes open but not speaking. In-gu doesn’t understand why, but Min-kyung is shrewd and understands that he must have retrieved his senses and is now processing the information.

When he hears that Pal-gang’s (step)father and mother died in a car accident, he’s heartbroken. Not knowing that he has already found out about the deaths, Min-kyung makes arrangements with some shady man, instructing him to tell the chairman that the Jins cannot be found.

Ugh. As though Jae-young weren’t bad enough, we have the appearance of another woman in Jun-ha’s life, who has a similar haircut and just as little charisma. (Seriously, one lackluster, unlikable supporting female wasn’t bad enough, so you had to bring in her clone?)

The woman, who appears to be an old ex, calls him after a three-year absence. He treats her with warm friendliness and meets her at a bar, where they reminisce on their university days. She says that back then, all the girls thought he liked them because he was so nice and attentive, when he was really only being friendly. She asks if Jun-ha would date her if she divorced. He answers easily, “Sure why not.” But when she asks if he’d consider marrying her, he says no.

Going in for the patented Back-Hug, she says sadly, “Do you know, you may seem like a really good guy, but you’re incredibly cruel.”

Chairman Jung replays the voicemail message, which says: “Sir… your son… child… is our…” Thankfully, he’s pretty quick to discern the broken message and calls Kang-ha to do him a favor. He needs Kang-ha to find someone for him, quickly but secretly — his grandchild.

But this isn’t as covert as he’d like, because Min-kyung’s associate (brother?) presents her with a recorder, as he had secretly bugged their conversation.

 
COMMENTS

This was such a delightful, funny, fast-paced episode. A lot of laughs, and some heart, too (boring side characters aside).

And Kang-ha — it’s like he became appealing overnight, isn’t it? I have seen Kim Ji-hoon in a number of roles, and found him handsome and appealing in them all (even if the acting itself has been passable at best). I may have even given him a few nicknames (Mr. Cool, Mr. Hot, Mr. Sexy Bedroom Eyes), so sexy was he in a previous role (Flowers For My Life). So it’s not that Kang-ha’s not a handsome guy, but it just goes to show how much personality has to do with appeal, because this is the first episode where I found Kang-ha (and by extension, Kim Ji-hoon) attractive. He has looked okay on camera and his character has been gradually improving, but this is the first time I really felt the attractiveness come back and add a jolt of energy to his character.

I still wouldn’t call him a great actor, and in fact I’ve been disappointed with his performances because after Flowers For My Life. I really thought he was going to turn out to be a sharper, more skilled actor. But I give him due props here for committing to the earlier Ugly Kang-ha, because he was SO unappealing that I wondered how on earth he’d start warming up. Kim Ji-hoon committed to appearing detestable, and it makes it that much more fun to see that attitude fall away.

Jun-ha has not lost his standing as the nice, sweet brother, although Kang-ha really jumped up several notches to come close to catching up. I suspect that the big reversal in their places will have something to do with Jun-ha being too weak to take a firm stand on something. In contrast, Kang-ha acts with less warmth but he’ll always do it in full measure.

Kang-ha is also making inroads with more of the siblings, namely Ju-hwang, who is perhaps the one in most need of a guiding figure. He’s the one most caught between childhood and adult responsibility, and he feels the burden of being the man in the family. He has also remained conspicuously out of the kids’ arguments over which guy is the best. I think it’s particularly telling that Kang-ha’s conversation with Ju-hwang was one he could have easily avoided. Pa-rang has been the one following Kang-ha around, but with the older brother, Kang-ha is the one who seeks him out and offers him a supportive word.

Speaking of character growth, I like that Pal-gang isn’t doing things just to make herself feel better — she helps out at the funeral because it’s what she feels she can and should do to help. She’s pushed by her boss’s lessons (to be more than “just a stranger” to her clients), but it’s not like she calculates how to win them over. She visits the grandmother and cheers her up out of a genuine spirit. However, I also like that Pal-gang isn’t so selfless and goody-goody that she can’t feel pride in herself for becoming a better person. It doesn’t make her less of a person to realize she’s doing better things now, so it’s cute to see her exulting, as she does after visiting the grandma. She asks Nam, “Doesn’t it seem like your noona is turning into a real person little by little? Hm, what did you say, Nami? — that I was already a person?”

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68 February 2, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 9

by javabeans

In earlier episodes, I really hated the Jae-young character and found the actress pretty awful on top of that. I felt we were supposed to feel sympathy for her — she loves a man who treats her with disinterest, how sad — and in that, she failed. However, now she’s turning into an outright hateable character, and that’s something I can get onboard with. If I’m not supposed to feel sorry for her, then second-best is if I can love to hate her. And THAT, I can do.

SONG OF THE DAY

Wish Upon a Star OST – “별을 따다줘” (Pick the stars) by KARA [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

Pal-gang talks with Grandpa Jung, worrying over his well-being. Grandpa has always acted like a man of humble means, so she thinks he’s a poor vagrant. It’s easier to let her think that than to come up with another story that doesn’t reveal that he’s the JK group chairman, so he doesn’t set her straight.

She’s comfortable enough with him to take him to task for droppng out of contact after her parents died, but he says he collapsed and only awoke recently. She also scolds him (gently) for living so hand-to-mouth, without worrying for his future.

Checking first to make sure the men aren’t home, Pal-gang brings Grandpa Jung inside the house, where he is enthusiastically greeted by the kids. They show such worry for his well-being that it brings tears to his eyes.

Concerned for Grandpa’s future, Cho-rok asks if they can hide him in the house — what if he collapses again, and he’s outside and alone? He says it’s quite all right, but the kids plead with Pal-gang. She’s torn: on one hand, she doesn’t want to leave Grandpa to roam the streets, but if she gets caught hiding him, it would really be the last straw.

The grandma from the previous episode gathers a group of her elderly friends and urges them to sign insurance policies with Pal-gang. But Pal-gang has learned a few things, and tells them to think it over carefully, assuring them that they don’t have to sign with her.

In the end, she signs three new people, which moves her to near-tears — this is the first time she’s sold a policy. The grandma can’t believe she hasn’t had any success since she seems so knowledgeable, but Pal-gang explains, “Until recently, I was the Useless Miss Jin.”

(As I explained previously, her nickname literally means “The Miss Jin who may as well be gone, for all the good she does here.” For ease of referral, I’m shortening that to Useless Miss Jin.)

Back at the JK office, Pal-gang asks Jin-ju hopefully if she’ll get a bonus for her three policies. Jin-ju reminds her that her wages are being garnished until her card debt is paid off. This seems downright unfair, so she heads to Kang-ha’s office to ask his legal advice. But she can’t quite bring herself to knock, fretting that she’d look truly pathetic to reveal another embarrassment.

Jun-ha arrives just before Jae-young walks out of the office. Assuming Pal-gang has something to ask Kang-ha, he suggests they visit Kang-ha together, but Jae-young informs them that he isn’t in the office today.

Jun-ha inquires after Nam, since Pal-gang doesn’t have him with her today. This surprises Jae-young (why would he bother to know the baby’s name?), who warns him that “people like that” will latch on to his slightest interest and leech off him. Jun-ha says that Pal-gang isn’t that kind of person, but Jae-young remains suspicious.

Kang-ha is out running his errand for Chairman Jung when his phone rings. Pal-gang’s voice enthusiastically launches into a greeting, thinking she’s talking to a client, and he cuts her off to tell her she’s got the wrong number. She apologizes profusely for interrupting his day, and he starts to grumble about it. But she talks right over him, apologizing and hanging up while he’s mid-complaint. He’s left to mutter about her etiquette, but bursts into a little chuckle.

This leads into a flashback montage (already?) as Kang-ha recalls his interactions with Pal-gang, such as when she tended him while he was sick. He remembers these scenes fondly, even when she had called him a heartless bastard and had begged to stay at the house.

The kids brainstorm for ways to make money, led by the business-minded Cho-rok. She has noticed that this is a fancy neighborhood whose trash contains salvageable items that they can sell. When Grandpa cautions that this will take time out of their studies (note that they’ll be returning to school soon when winter break is over), they answer that they’ve got bigger worries than schoolwork.

Grandpa Jung stays with them that night, and when he wakes up at a late hour, Pal-gang is studying on her own. He gives her some words of support: “Living may be tough now, but in life sometimes brings good things too.” He needs to use the bathroom, so Pal-gang helps him sneak out, avoiding the notice of Jun-ha. Grandpa recognizes him, so when they’re back in the safety of the room, he asks Pal-gang about the people she’s living with. She explains that they work at the same office, and his eyes widen to hear that all this while, she has been an employee of JK.

The next day, Grandpa visits the tombs of Pal-gang’s parents and promises to keep watching over the family a little longer. He assures them that Pal-gang has changed a lot from her former flighty self, and thinks that perhaps she might even be able to help him realize his dream (of setting up the free hospital). Although he’s still looking for his possible lost grandson, he’s already thinking ahead — maybe he can set him up with Pal-gang, thereby doing right by both kids.

Pal-gang, meanwhile, has to deal with another problem — her cell phone is shut off by the company. She has barely enough money for baby formula, much less enough to pay for a phone plan. Her job is dependent upon her constant availability to her clients, which means this is quite a problem. She begs the phone company to understand, but they can’t bend the rules.

The kids embark on their plan to scour the neighborhood for discarded items, but first they’ll need some kind of cart. To buy a cart, they’ll need to earn money by doing odd jobs. Since the ajummas in their old neighborhood already feel sorry for them, they should be willing to give them little tasks.

Therefore, the kids all pile onto a bus heading for their old neighborhood. It’s quite far, so they all doze off during the ride. Ju-hwang wakes up just in time to get the driver to stop, and they disembark… only to realize that one of them didn’t make it. Pa-rang must still be asleep in his seat.

The kids hurry to a police station to ask them to track down the bus quickly, before Pa-rang wakes up and gets off. Unfortunately, they’re too late and by the time the officer calls, there’s no boy on the bus.

Pa-rang wanders the busy street alone, crying, “I’m a real orphan now.” He begs a woman for her phone so he can call his sister, but Pal-gang’s phone is not in service. The kindly ajumma assures Pa-rang that everything will be fine and takes him to the nearest police station. Sobbing even harder, Pa-rang has by now become convinced that his siblings ditched him on purpose. Only 7 years old (6 by Western count), he thinks they got sick of him because he sleepwalks and causes trouble.

A little while later, Pa-rang remembers something — the name of his sister’s company. The officer says he’ll ask for his sister at JK, but Pa-rang tells them to call their lawyer Won Kang-ha instead.

Kang-ha takes the call, bewildered to hear that Pa-rang is at the police station. The boy starts crying, begging Kang-ha to tell his siblings that he’s okay going to the orphanage: “Tell them I understand if they abandoned me.” Kang-ha rushes to the police station.

Jin-ju lends Pal-gang yet more money to reinstate phone service, which makes Pal-gang feel terribly guilty — she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to repay her. Jin-ju is more worried to hear Pal-gang talking like this (as in, realisitically) because she usually talks so big. She’d feel better if Pal-gang spoke confidently like she used to. Pal-gang sighs, “I can’t do that. In the past, I had nothing to be afraid of, but now there’s nothing I’m not afraid of.”

Her phone starts to ring, and when she picks up, Kang-ha scolds her for not picking up earlier. She hurries to the police station.

Shortly afterward, a police car pulls in carrying the other kids from the other station. When they all meet in front, Pa-rang asks, “You didn’t really leave me?” Ju-hwang scolds, “Are you crazy? Didn’t I tell you that even if noona did, I’d never leave you guys?”

The kids explain that they were on their way to the old neighborhood to earn money to buy a handcart so they could collect junk to sell with grandpa. When Kang-ha asks in puzzlement who this grandpa is, everyone blurts in unison, “Nobody!”

With everyone’s moods restored, the kids look around Kang-ha’s car, commenting on how nice it is. (Of course, No-rang has to pipe up for Jun-ha, saying his car is nice too.) Nam starts to cry, and Pal-gang tries to hush him, promising to fix him some formula as soon as they get home. Pa-rang starts singing a song to keep Nam’s mind off his hunger.

Kang-ha grimaces at the noisy chatter around him, bearing it all with resignation. And takes them to a Chinese restaurant.

This gesture makes quite an impression on the kids, who haven’t ever eaten at such a nice place:

Pa-rang: “You make more money than the Team Leader ajusshi [Jun-ha], don’t you?”
Kang-ha: “Why do you ask?”
Pa-rang: “Mr. Lawyer ajusshi makes more money so he can take us to a place like this. Team Leader ajusshi probably can’t afford to bring us here.”

This brings disgruntled looks to No-rang’s and Cho-rok’s faces. A bit later, Ju-hwang hushes Pa-rang for being noisy.

Ju-hwang: “Be quiet. Mr. Lawyer ajusshi will feel ashamed.”
Pa-rang: “Are you ashamed of us?”
Cho-rok: “He probably is, which is why he’s not answering. But our Tae-kyu oppa wouldn’t be. He’d never be ashamed of us.”
No-rang: “Our Team Leader ajusshi isn’t, either.”
Pa-rang: “If you talk like that to the ajusshi buying you food, you’re a bad person!”

BWAHAHA.

Kang-ha even requests warm water for the baby’s formula, which Pal-gang appreciates. An elaborate dinner spread is brought out, and the kids cheer. Kang-ha tells them all to eat up because they’ve had a hard day, then adds (in a pointed tone), “Although, if your sister had just kept her phone on, you wouldn’t have suffered.”

Too bad Kang-ha doesn’t get to enjoy this moment of superiority (he’s got to be feeling pretty proud of himself right now), because Pa-rang plays with the lazy Susan on the table. That causes tea to spill all over Kang-ha’s leg, and the others look wide-eyed in horror as Pa-rang moves to help, dropping plates in his haste. Glumly, Pa-rang apologizes. Kang-ha sighs.

And that’s not all. Another round of food comes out, and Pa-rang excitedly cheers. In so doing, he knocks the waitress’s arm, and she drops the bowl of food… into Kang-ha’s lap.

Kang-ha tamps down his reaction admirably, gritting out (again) that if she had only answered her phone…!

Jae-young comes to the house with dinner for four. Aware that Pal-gang’s family may come home at any moment, he tries to encourage her to go home, but Jae-young is happy to wait for Kang-ha. She wants to show him her gesture so he’ll appreciate her effort.

Tae-kyu talks on the phone with Pal-gang, then complains to Jun-ha, “They all went to eat jajangmyun!” Jun-ha shuts him up, covering: “Who cares if your friends went to eat jajangmyun?” Jun-ha furtively instructs Tae-kyu to meet up with Pal-gang and her siblings, and not to return home until Jun-ha gives the okay.

Unfortunately, Tae-kyu can’t get in touch with her. Since Jae-young won’t leave, Jun-ha thinks fast and suggests that they eat quickly, then, but that she’s better head home early because it’s supposed to snow tonight. After they eat, he again tries to urge her to go home, using the snow as an excuse.

The arrival of Kang-ha diverts Jae-young’ attention, and she greets him enthusiastically…

…until she registers that he’s not alone. What is the meaning of this?

Pal-gang is immediately nervous, knowing Jae-young dislikes her. Jun-ha fumbles to answer, saying she’s their maid. Kang-ha’s the only who doesn’t seem affected by this situation, and just heads up to his room.

Pissed off, Jae-young bursts into his room and demands to know why Pal-gang is here. Does it make sense that she’s their maid — or that he’s such a mess because of them, for that matter? Kang-ha sighs, “It doesn’t really make sense, but it just happened.”

Jun-ha joins them and tries to placate Jae-young, saying that this was his idea, and it’s only for a month. But Jae-young knows Kang-ha’s personality — he’s the kind of person who’d never agree to something he disliked. Kang-ha answers, “I thought I wouldn’t be able to put up with it either, but I can, so I’m putting up with it.”

Downstairs, Tae-kyu explains to Pal-gang that Jae-young loves Kang-ha, and that even though Kang-ha’s not interested, they’ll probably end up marrying in the end. When he says sympathetically that it must hurt Pal-gang’s feelings to hear this since she used to like Kang-ha, she answers no; she understands that lofty people marry their own kind.

Jae-young demands a private talk with Pal-gang. Opening her purse, she takes out a banknote (for 1 million won, which is about $850), saying, “It seems like you’re mooching off the pity of kind people. How about you stop annoying them and move out?” Plus, how dare she think to mingle her family with Kang-ha’s? (The implication being that she’s far beneath them.) Seeing Pal-gang’s hesitation, Jae-young says she can offer even more money, and Pal-gang can take her family to a hotel.

Pal-gang thinks for a long beat, and admits that once she would have been thrilled, “But now, I’m scared of my siblings’ gazes so I can’t beg for money. I’m sorry.”

Jae-young smirks. “Living like you are right now is begging.”

Kang-ha walks in and sternly asks Jae-young what she’s doing. Jae-young answers, “Oppa, don’t do anything. I’ll handle your unsavory business.”

Kang-ha warns, “You’ve overstepped your bounds.” Addressing Pal-gang, he requests a cup of coffee, then asks Jae-young pointedly, “Aren’t you going? It’s late.”

Jae-young fixes a resentful gaze on Pal-gang, then starts to follow Kang-ha out of the room. Jun-ha holds her back, saying this is enough for today.

Pal-gang knocks on Kang-ha’s door, bearing the coffee. Kang-ha mutters to himself, “When did she ever bother to ask before coming in?” Then he catches himself and scolds himself, “I told you to stop talking to yourself!” (HAHA.)

Pal-gang apologizes for angering Jae-young, then adds, “I’m really really thankful for today, and really really sorry.” Kang-ha answers that Jae-young isn’t her worry, then dismisses her.

Pal-gang pauses on her way out, deciding to ask Kang-ha for his advice on something. Her “friend” is in debt and her salary is being garnished — does this mean that she won’t be able to receive any part of her pay?

He’s quick to perceive that the question is about herself, and answers that her “friend” can keep enough for living expenses, and the rest will be garnished by the creditor. Excited at this positive news, Pal-gang thanks him.

Jae-young asks Jun-ha to drive her to a bar since she’s planning on getting dead drunk. Jun-ha doesn’t really understand why she’s this upset — she can’t be threatened by Pal-gang, right? She retorts, “I don’t have so little pride.”

Jun-ha suggests that she think of Kang-ha’s behavior as helping the needy, but Jae-young counters that one does that with money, “not by enabling a person to endure what he couldn’t previously endure.” She doesn’t understand what the latter means, “and that makes me angry.” Shedding angry tears, Jae-young adds, “I don’t know why my man insults me in front of such a pathetic woman like her. It’s so ridiculous.”

This gets Jun-ha’s temper going — why does she cry over this? She’s stronger than this.

Promted by that anger, Jun-ha storms in on Kang-ha and demands to know why he’s so mean to Jae-young. Kang-ha asks, “When have I not been mean to someone?”

Jun-ha insists, “She’s crying because of you. … Even if you’re mean to every other woman on this planet, don’t do that to Jae-young. Just marry her. She even says she’d divorce you if you wanted!”

Kang-ha is unmoved by this, and fires back, “If you feel so bad, then you marry her.” Jun-ha first grabs Kang-ha with one arm, then with both, and yells, “How can you even talk like that?!”

Kang-ha finds Jun-ha’s reaction suspicious. He shoots Jun-ha’s words back at him: “Do you think it makes sense for you to talk like that?” Jun-ha insists, “She’s my friend. She’s the most valuable friend I have!” Kang-ha returns, “Is that really all it is?”

Even angrier now, Jun-ha grabs Kang-ha’s shirt and gets in his face.

(Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!)

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

Kang-ha investigates the issue of Chairman Jung’s lost grandchild. Twenty-five years ago, the chairman’s elder son did volunteer medical work in a small island community, then a university student. After his departure, a single woman on the island had a baby, and people speculated that the medical volunteer was the father. The gossip was difficult to handle, so the woman ended up leaving.

The records of her whereabouts only go so far, and there’s no current information. Chairman Jung urges Kang-ha to find her no matter what — he has to make things right and repay his (and his son’s) old debt.

The curious thing is, the woman’s name is Oh Jung-ae (which is not the name of Pal-gang’s mother), and the child was a son.

Hearing about the grandson from her informant, Min-kyung decides she must find him first.

She warns Jae-young to give up on Kang-ha, because he may become her enemy in the future. In fact, right now he’s working behind their backs to find a possible cousin, and thus Jae-young must act quickly to secure her future. Min-kyung is pushing her daughter to marry another rich man, and to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Jae-young offers up a counterproposal. Even if Kang-ha finds the truth, if he keeps his mouth shut, they’ll be fine. Wouldn’t it be perfect to marry the man who might otherwise turn into her enemy? Min-kyung asks, “Do you think Kang-ha would keep his mouth shut for you?” Jae-young vows, “I’ll make him.”

 
COMMENTS

I still think Shin Dong-wook is too cool for this role, which translates into awkward moments when Jun-ha gets all angry and excited, as in the last scene. He plays Jun-ha with so much feeling that it’s jarring, given the general apathy around him — Kang-ha’s is intentional, but the apathy surrounding Jae-young is more on the viewers’ part, since I find her utterly boring. I love Shin Dong-wook, but he could dial it down.

I’m ready to switch teams from Jun-ha to Kang-ha, so it’s nice that the drama gave Jun-ha his hero moments early on. I suspect those will diminish as time goes on, since his desire for peace is inadvertently making things worse and his perfect-nice-guy image shows signs of cracking.

Plus, now we start to see that Kang-ha’s coldness has a rhyme and reason. Yeah, it’s partly because he can’t be bothered to be polite (so he’s still on the hook for rudeness), but he isn’t malicious. Even back when he’d wanted to throw Pal-gang out, he’d argued that it was for her own good that she wise up and stop acting so recklessly. It was like a form of tough love — only, you can argue that tough love wasn’t appropriate then, when she was already so downtrodden. With Jae-young, however, she’s so persistent and clingy that giving her the tiniest encouragement would end in greater headache.

I don’t actually feel a romantic chemistry between Pal-gang and Kang-ha, so I thought the flashback montage was premature. Their vibe is more of an odd couple, and I actually find that really amusing so I don’t mind. When it does turn romantic, however, I hope the transition stays believable.

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82 February 3, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 10

by javabeans

That just speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Hehe. Heh. I find myself more and more glad that Kang-ha was such a grumpybutt early on, because it makes his funny moments now that much more awesome. It wouldn’t be nearly as gratifying, for instance, to see that look of frustration on Jun-ha’s face, would it?

SONG OF THE DAY

Younha – “좋아해” (I like you) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 10 RECAP

Jun-ha gets in Kang-ha’s face about being mean to Jae-young, asserting that it’s purely because he feels bad for her. She’s his friend and little sister: “I don’t want her crying because of my brother.”

The next morning, Ju-hwang helps prepare breakfast, and he’s pretty proud of himself. He jokes that with his skills, he may just have to marry Kang-ha himself. (This makes Pal-gang ask hesitantly, “Do you… like guys more than girls?” His response — “Noona!” — is delivered with that embarrassed annoyance most of us reserve for “Mooom!“)

The kids limp out of the bedroom, explaining to a concerned Tae-kyu that they slept with their legs tied together to keep Pa-rang from sleepwalking to Kang-ha’s room. The Won brothers hadn’t realized the kids felt that bad about Pa-rang’s wandering, and when Pa-rang grimaces in discomfort, Kang-ha instructs the kids not to sleep with their legs tied anymore.

Everyone gapes at him; No-rang points out that if they don’t, Pa-rang might sleepwalk into his room again. Kang-ha retorts that he doesn’t want them to demand compensation if something happens to their legs.

When Kang-ha gets up from the table, Ju-hwang asks how the meal was, looking for approval. Kang-ha says noncommittally, “It was so-so.” Coming from him, that’s a pretty positive comment, which makes Ju-hwang happy.

Pa-rang asks the others, “It seems like he was worrying about me, huh?” Although No-rang says it was just because he doesn’t want to pay them compensation, Pa-rang insists, “You’re so dense! The lawyer ajusshi really likes me!”

At work, Kang-ha calls another department to ask about Pal-gang’s wage garnishment, looking disturbed at the confirmation.

Jae-young storms in, still smarting from last night’s encounter. Is he purposely treating her badly in front of “that kind of woman” to get her to give up?

Kang-ha: “And what is ‘that kind of woman’?”
Jae-young: “Do you really not know? Because of that bottom-feeder, I even drank last night! I know you have a lot of ways of ignoring me, but don’t do that anymore. I warned Jun-ha too, but you can get confused about a woman like that. If you get stuck with a strange woman like her just because you’re trying to get rid of me, you can find yourself in worse trouble.”
Kang-ha: “You’re wrong.”
Jae-young: “What?”
Kang-ha: “I told you that you’re the only woman in the world that I don’t see as a woman.”
Jae-young: “So?”
Kang-ha: “That means that I do see all the other women in the world as women.”

Jae-young asks what that means. Kang-ha tells her not to feign ignorance when she knows.

Jae-young pulls Pal-gang aside to offer a new banknote — this time for 10 million won ($8,500, which is ten times the first offer). Pal-gang admits that she’s very tempted, and that all sorts of thoughts are flying through her head. However, she can’t take it: “If I take this money now, I have to return to being Useless Miss Jin. This may be a huge windfall, but it would also be the last in my life.”

Jae-young says coldly to stop acting so high and mighty and just take it. Pal-gang replies, “Yes, it does seem righteous, but I want to try being righteous. If I don’t want to end up with a 10 million won life, I think I’ll have to grit my teeth and act righteous now.”

Jae-young doesn’t give Pal-gang credit for being honorable, and asks suspiciously what her real reason is. After all, she’ll have to leave empty-handed in a month anyway.

Jae-young: “Surely you don’t have some sort of Cinderella fantasy, do you?”
Pal-gang: “No. I have a bigger dream than that. Cinderella is only a prince’s wife, but an insurance queen is a queen. Aren’t you proud of that? You’re the successor to JK, so to hear that your lower employee has such a big dream must make you happy.”

What’s so satisfying about Pal-gang’s answer is that she is firm but respectful (while Jae-young can’t hide her petty jealousy). Pal-gang excuses herself to return to work.

Kang-ha calls a meeting with Pal-gang’s creditor, requesting to be named her guarantor. In the event she cannot pay her debt, he’ll take repsonsibility for it, so they can stop garnishing her wages. Kang-ha asks the creditor to handle everything but not tell Pal-gang of his involvement.

At the office, Jun-ha’s curiosity is piqued to overhear two employees talking about his brother. They have heard that Kang-ha inquired into Pal-gang’s salary garnishment. Given that Kang-ha is the biggest shareholder, doesn’t this suggest that he’s preparing to fire people and take over? With Kang-ha’s reputation, nobody would even think to suspect him of asking out of curiosity or helpfulness. Nobody except Jun-ha, who mulls this over.

Grandpa Jung drops by the house to bring the kids meat. It’s adorable that the kids admonish him for spending money on food when he doesn’t even have a reliable place to sleep. Pa-rang recounts all the good stuff they’ve been eating recently, surprising Grandpa by saying that Kang-ha had treated them to a fancy meal.

Tae-kyu bursts in excitedly to announce that he ordered jajangmyun for everyone. The kids distract him by begging him to fix the broken toilet, giving Grandpa a chance to slip back downstairs. (The toilet isn’t broken, but the kids flatter Tae-kyu for magically fixing it, and he’s happy to accept the praise.)

Back in their room, Ju-hwang warns Grandpa not to bring anything next time because they almost got caught. Grandpa replies that this is the first time he’s been scolded for buying someone food.

Tae-kyu walks into the room suddenly, and they aren’t quick enough to hide Grandpa from his sight. Without any choice, the kids tell Tae-kyu that he’s their biological grandfather (it might sound weird otherwise). To their surprise, Tae-kyu urges them to make sure he doesn’t get caught, then bows in respect.

He also pours Grandpa drinks, wanting to get on his good side because he assumes that winning her grandfather’s favor will help his case with Pal-gang. He explains that he loves her, and as the only son of parents who own a big supermarket in the States, he’ll inherit it all. So please, won’t he consent to their marriage?

Tae-kyu misinterprets a low grunt as approval, and calls Pal-gang to exult, “Grandpa says yes to the marriage!” Pal-gang retorts, “Then marry Grandpa.”

Pal-gang receives a distressed phone call from one of her clients, Choi Man-ho, who had filed an insurance claim when he was stricken with blindness. However, the company denied his claim and didn’t pay out his policy. Although they said they would re-try his case, he has no money for immediate survival or a lawyer. Thus Man-ho has resorted to begging in the street.

Pal-gang feels sympathy for his plight, particularly when his young daughter comes by with food. She takes the case up with her supervisor, but is told to butt out and leave it to the proper channels.

She can’t just sit back and wait while the legal team takes its sweet time, so Pal-gang bursts into Kang-ha’s office to plead Man-ho’s case, asking him to expedite the process. She can vouch that he’s really blind, and he can’t survive on nothing while his case is retried.

Kang-ha is firm about leaving this case to the law. Heatedly, she argues that he it’s not his own money but the clients’ money — so they should serve the client. Besides, the law isn’t on the side of the poor; it’s the the rich and powerful who benefit.

Playing peacemaker, Jun-ha urges her to let it go; if Man-ho’s claim is genuine, the money will come. Pal-gang insists that the man is poor and can’t wait. Growing impatient, Kang-ha raises his voice and orders her to leave. Pal-gang glares:

Pal-gang: “Then it’s all a lie that the customers are like family, isn’t it? Now I understand why I stuttered every time I was in front of a client. It was because I wasn’t sure if I was scamming them or not.”

Pal-gang broods. Jun-ha offers her a drink and explains that Kang-ha’s very thorough about his work, meaning that he has to make sure the claim is sound before proceeding.

Pal-gang insists that she saw the man’s blindness for herself. Jun-ha says that’s good — then things should work out for him. He urges her to smile, teasing her when she gives him a halfhearted half-smile. Her clients should feel good to have a counselor like her, he says.

Watching this scene are Eun-mal and Jin-ju, who immediately sense something in the air. Jun-ha is definitely interested, they think. Pal-gang protests, not believing that at all, but the women urge her to work the relationship and grab him.

Contrary to his cool words, Kang-ha does feel frustration at Pal-gang’s accusations and goes for a long workout. Jun-ha points out that he runs more when he has an upcoming case going to trial — why is that?

His next encounter with Pal-gang is at home; he walks into his room, where she’s changing his sheets. She apologizes (since he doesn’t like her around when he’s here) and promises to leave immediately, but he sighs that she may as well continue. Pal-gang takes that as a positive sign, and decides to press her luck a little. He has gone into the glass room within his bedroom, and she knocks on the door to ask for a moment.

Bringing up the case again, she explains that Man-ho can’t hire his own lawyer. Does Kang-ha have a friend in human interest law, maybe someone who’d work pro bono? Kang-ha asks incredulously, “Are you asking me to introduce you to my opposing counsel?” Furrowing his brow, he asks, “I’m asking because I’m truly curious. Could you explain the reason that you ask when you know that it’s ridiculous?”

Pal-gang: “I’m the type to say whatever comes to mind.”
Kang-ha: “Is that something to brag about?”
Pal-gang: “Who said I’m bragging? Still, my mother told me that if I meet the right person, he’d dote on me. Rather than harboring lots of thoughts and being sneaky, people who openly express what they’re thinking are the kind who get fussed over as cute.”

He scoffs at that. Pal-gang tries to bring the converstaion back to the issue at hand, but she has lost her train of thought and wonders how they got here. He suggests that she think it over downstairs.

Pal-gang muses, “I started with something important…” Oh, well. Downstairs she goes.

After her exit, Kang-ha mutters, “Cute? She’s irresponsible.” Then, remembering, he winces: “Ah! I told you to stop talking to yourself!”

Jun-ha sees Pal-gang coming downstairs and reminds her that Kang-ha doesn’t want her in his room while he’s home. Pal-gang figures that he must have given up on that, then recalls why she went into the glass room — the lawyer introduction!

Jun-ha is surprised that Kang-ha allowed her in his audio room, and heads upstairs to talk to his brother. Pointedly, he mentions that Kang-ha wouldn’t let the other maids into his glass room for fear that they’d mess up his audio equipment, but it’s odd that he let Pal-gang inside. Kang-ha shrugs, “She insists on cleaning. What can I do?”

The next morning, Kang-ha wakes up and feels/sees a lump at the foot of his bed. With a bit of hope, he sits up and pulls back his blanket… but it’s just a pillow. He actually looks disappointed and mumbles, “I told them not to tie their feet together when they sleep.” (This is an even sadder sentiment, as though that’s the only reason Pa-rang wouldn’t sleepwalk here.)

The three men arrive at the breakfast table and look surprised to find an empty kitchen. Pal-gang has prepared food for them and left a note to say that she had something to take care of. The entire Jin family is gone.

Yesterday, Pal-gang had encountered difficulty trying to solicit new customers at the crowded Dongdaemun market. Last night, she had decided to employ a more eye-catching tactic, and Ju-hwang had suggested that it would be more effective if the family did it together.

The tactic involves each sibling dressing in his/her respective color (apparently they’ve done this before). Pal-gang goes around introducing herself, as does each sibling. This exercise isn’t to pitch policies, just to hand out her card. Even so, Pal-gang feels a twinge of guilt, calling this panhandling. Ju-hwang corrects her — it’s promotion.

Having recovered her lost train of thought, Pal-gang asks Kang-ha again for a referral to one of his lawyer friends. Kang-ha answers, “I have no friends,” to which she blurts (using his words), “Is that something to brag about?”

She catches herself before straying off-topic again and asks for a close senior colleague, then. He doesn’t have any of those, either. She can’t hold back and knows this isn’t her place to say, but asks how he can live like this. This means that if some trouble were to befall him, he has nobody to come to his aid.

Jae-young and Jun-ha step out into the hall in time to hear Pal-gang explaining herself: she made the realization after losing her parents that she hadn’t cultivated personal relationships, and after being Useless Miss Jin for five years, her co-workers aren’t friendly either.

When Kang-ha answers, “There’s no reason something would happen to me, but I don’t care if anyone comes or not,” Pal-gang advises him not to think that way. He points out, “Do you know we’ve veered from the topic again?” Oops — again, Pal-gang has forgotten her reason for talking to him.

Now that he’s already bickering with her, Kang-ha complains about her behavior over breakfast — it’s not appropriate for her to leave with just a note. She should clear that with her employer! Pal-gang is puzzled at his overreaction (and it IS overreaction), because she did all her duties first. She wonders, isn’t the reason he has no friends because he’s such a stickler for the rules?

Jae-young asks Jun-ha if he’s ever seen Kang-ha talking that much with somebody before. Jun-ha tries to make her feel better with the excuse that Pal-gang has the habit of drawing out conversation.

Jae-young complains that she hates herself for getting upset over nothing: “And what I hate more is myself for clinging to Won Kang-ha even after he told me boldly that he sees someone like her as a woman.”

That surprises Jun-ha — he said that about Pal-gang? Surely he said that just to piss Jae-young off. She answers, “I know. But it was unfamiliar.” It’s also unfamiliar to see him chatting with Pal-gang, and that unfamiliarity makes her upset.

In his office, Kang-ha gives himself a stern pep talk: “Argh! Don’t get involved, Won Kang-ha. It’s because you keep talking back that things get drawn out.”

He pauses, then wonders (in Pal-gang style), “Wait, why was I on my way out again?” He remembers — lunch!

He’s interrupted by the appearance of Jae-young, which brings the frown back to his face. She challenges him about his earlier comment, asking again if she’s the only woman in the world that he doesn’t see as a woman. He’s not interested in engaging in an argument, but she blocks his exit and kisses him suddenly.

Aw, isn’t that the look of a man in love! No, wait, the other one. Disdain.

Not only does he not kiss her back, Kang-ha looks bored and pushes her away. She asks if he still doesn’t think of her as a woman, and he retorts, “Don’t you think you’re stooping too low?”

She answers no: “I could even take off my clothes right now.” When she insists that she loves him, Kang-ha contradicts her. She just needs him to fulfill her vision of what she wants, but it’s not love.

Jae-young: “Love is supopsed to be a dirty, mean feeling. Isn’t this proof? Isn’t this proof that it’s love to have Jung Jae-young clinging to you in such a dirty, mean way?”
Kang-ha: “No. It’s proof of your ambition.”

Jae-young sighs to herself that she wishes it were ambition. Then she might be happy with someone else.

Pal-gang heads out to visit Man-ho, stopping at a food cart to buy him some warm sweet bread. She looks up when a car screeches to a stop at the intersection, just in time to avoid hitting a young girl crossing the street. Recognizing his daughter, Man-ho ditches his blind-man act and rushes into the street in concern.

Shocked to be thus deceived, Pal-gang approaches the pair. He apologizes tearfully, begging not to be reported to the police. Sympathetic to his desperation, Pal-gang gives him the bread she bought for him and says, “I want to help you somehow, but this is all I can do. I’m sorry.” She adds encouragingly, “Still, this isn’t all there is to life. So please be strong.”

As Pal-gang leaves the father-daughter pair, she looks up to see Jang-soo (Jin-ju’s penny-pinching admirer) — he’s here on company business, to check into the man’s claim. She’s shocked when he says that Kang-ha had asked him to gather hard proof of the man’s situation so he could push through his case without waiting for a trial. Both find it hard to believe that Kang-ha asked this when he didn’t have to.

That night, Pa-rang taps on Kang-ha’s door. After a day of eating too much food — first Grandpa’s meat, then Tae-kyu’s noodles — he is here to announce: “Ajusshi, I’m not on your side just because you bought us jajangmyun. It’s just because I like you. So you can’t be pushed aside by Tae-kyu. Fighting!” As he bows to leave, Pa-rang says, “Good night! Dream of my sister!”

Kang-ha mutters to himself, “Those siblings really drive me crazy.” Then he recalls, “Arg, stop talking to yourself!” Followed by a confused, “Why are you like this, Won Kang-ha?”

Pal-gang comes with warm tea, which Kang-ha refuses, asking sarcastically whether it’s poisoned. She laughs: “Even when watching comedy programs, you don’t laugh, do you? You don’t understand why they’re laughing, do you?” In five years, she’s never seen him laugh. He replies, “I didn’t laugh because there was nothing to laugh about. Okay?”

Pal-gang thanks him for following up with Man-ho, guessing that he had actually felt the same way she did. He says no, that the law is fair; he just wanted to make sure things were fair for all the customers. She sighs, “Can’t you just agree with me?” Does have have to talk so coldly? (His response: “Yes.”) Jun-ha catches this scene from the staircase below, bothered.

Pal-gang explains that Man-ho is going to give up his claim, because it turns out he wasn’t completely blind. Worriedly, she checks that this won’t get him in trouble for fraud, since he’s dropping the case, right? Kang-ha confirms it, but not without a dig at her (saying that she should know such an obvious answer).

Pal-gang finds Kang-ha’s dismissal particularly rude, and enters his room to confront him on his lack of manners. Kang-ha points out that it seems she’s taking too many liberties because of his promise not to kick her out.

She thinks, “You’re right. Why am I doing this? I tell myself I shouldn’t, but when I see you the words just come out. In the past, I wanted to impress you so I just spoke nicely. It must be because I don’t have those feelings now. I’ll take your words into consideration. Trust me!”

She sets the tea down and goes, leaving Kang-ha to think on her comments.

Downstairs, Jun-ha overhears Tae-kyu on the phone, asking his mother for more money. He asks if Tae-kyu has caused more trouble, but Tae-kyu confides that he wants to buy a diamond ring. Jun-ha scoffs, but has to confirm, “Are your feelings for real?” Tae-kyu has a habit of acting rashly.

Tae-kyu insists this is real and swears that Pal-gang is the one for him.

So, Jun-ha helps him out. Suggesting after-work drinks, he takes Kang-ha to the bar. Pal-gang arrives shortly thereafter, called here by Tae-kyu with the promise that his friends want to hear her sales pitch.

A spotlight shines on her as soon as she walks in. Puzzled, she looks around as a waiter leads her to a table laden with flowers.

Tae-kyu appears onstage singing a song whose lyrics go, “I want to live by your side.” As he serenades her, Jae-young arrives at the bar — no doubt called by Jun-ha, who watches Kang-ha’s reaction closely, as though this is a test.

And then, Tae-kyu gets on his knee and presents Pal-gang with a ring. At that, her eyes widen. So do Kang-ha’s.

Almost unconsciously, Kang-ha rises from his seat, freezing in shock — Jun-ha clocks his reaction — just as Tae-kyu says, “Marry me.”

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

Despite the general uselessness of the Jung family, I do think it’s sorta sad how In-gu is the less-loved son. Min-kyung may be downright malicious, but In-gu just wants his father’s love. For instance, there’s a scene when Chairman Jung ignores a phone call, saying it’s one he doesn’t have to take. It turns out to be In-gu, calling because he’s worried that his father hasn’t been sleeping at home.

Min-kyung checks in to see if Jae-young is making any progress — does she have a chance with Kang-ha? Jae-young says she’s trying, but her mother counters, “I dislike that more. Love isn’t something that happens through trying. I wish you wouldn’t live like that.” Jae-young says, “I’m your daughter” as though that’s proof of her ability to get things done. However, her mother has a different take: “Because you’re my daughter, I don’t want you to be like me.”

Kang-ha has managed to locate a photo of the woman who may have borne Chairman Jung’s grandchild. The chairman doesn’t seem to recognize her, and prays that she’s still alive.

 
COMMENTS

I can’t help but wonder if the creditor issue will be a bad thing — will Pal-gang be touched that Kang-ha acted on her behalf, or will she think that it’s another setback, keeping her as Useless Miss Jin? (Probably both?)

Regardless, it’s the first time we see Kang-ha do anything proactive, which is then reinforced when he tells Jang-soo to check up on the man’s claim. Furthermore, his word choice (to take responsibility if Pal-gang defaults on her debt) is not insignificant; recall his admonition to Jun-ha not to start helping Pal-gang if he wasn’t going to be able to take responsibility through the end. Plus, there’s the fact that “taking responsibility” is a commonly used euphemism for marrying. I’m sure he has ways of justifying this behavior to himself, and I don’t think he’s aware of why he’s doing this, at least not consciously. Too bad he doesn’t know that his motivations are showing through his actions.

I did enjoy the moment when Pal-gang said she probably talks back to Kang-ha freely now because she doesn’t have any romantic designs on him. The comment didn’t visibly have an effect on Kang-ha so it’s too early to say that it brings him outright disappointment, but we can see from his actions that he’s growing fonder of the whole family. For instance, his disappointment to find that Pa-rang wasn’t in his bed was obvious, and I think it was strong enough that he could even admit it to himself.

Even for a child, Pa-rang speaks bluntly, and he assures Kang-ha that the reason he likes him isn’t because he buys the family food. He just likes him, no reason given. That’s the closest thing to unconditional love Kang-ha has probably ever had — he doesn’t even have to be nice to earn the kid’s admiration. He gets it just because he’s himself. It makes sense that he’d warm up to Pal-gang (romantically or not) because she’s the grown-up version of the kids, sometimes demanding unreasonable things and speaking without a filter. Not always polite, but always honest.

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80 February 9, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 11

by javabeans

Big episode!

There are big movements in most of the relationships, and we also find out what the big deal about Kang-ha’s pained past is. (And it actually makes pretty good sense.) Or at least, we find out about the childhood part of it; his past romantic issue is hinted at but not yet revealed.

SONG OF THE DAY

C.N. Blue – “Love Revolution” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Tae-kyu proposes, saying that although he may be foolish, “This is something I’m sure of.” The main characters tense in anticipation while the bar patrons cheer for Pal-gang to accept. She looks back and sees Kang-ha looking at her intently.

She tells Tae-kyu gently, “You’re the most fun and nice person I know.” His broad smile starts to fade as she continues, “But I can’t marry you. I’m sorry, Tae-kyu.” She gets up and leaves the bar, stopping only briefly to nod to Jae-young.

After her exit, Kang-ha regains some of his senses and takes his seat. Jun-ha looks at him knowingly, while Tae-kyu cries and drinks.


Pal-gang walks home, feeling sorry for hurting Tae-kyu’s feelings. She’s grateful to him for making her old fantasy — the romantic proposal — real for a moment, but that makes her even sorrier for declining.

Kang-ha gets up and leaves the table first. As he is being driven home, he sees Pal-gang walking on the sidewalk and asks the driver to pull over. He watches her walking for a few moments, but changes his mind and tells the driver to continue.

He therefore arrives home first, and when Pal-gang steps inside, he stares at her without saying anything. She mumbles a general greeting, then heads slowly for her room. It’s like Kang-ha wants to say something but doesn’t know what, and the words come to him a few moments too late, after she’s gone. He catches himself and holds back the thought.

This isn’t a feeling he can easily shake off, and he frowns with great frustration at the memory of the proposal. Jun-ha finds him in his room to report that Tae-kyu is still intent on winning Pal-gang over.

Kang-ha asks, “Do you really think she’s a good match for him?” It seems Jun-ha was expecting this response, or at least that Kang-ha’s reaction confirms his suspicions. He answers that Tae-kyu is better than “someone else I know.” Kang-ha asks what that means, and Jun-ha clarifies, “There was someone who was nervous that she would take Tae-kyu’s ring.”

Being sharp, both brothers know exactly what he means by that. Kang-ha’s hand clenches tightly, but when he faces his brother, he forces a smirk. Jun-ha doesn’t look fooled and merely raises his eyebrows skeptically (ugh — such a great love-to-hate-him moment there).

Jun-ha finds Pal-gang in the kitchen and asks if she really doesn’t feel anything for Tae-kyu. She answers, “Tae-kyu is like Ju-hwang to me. I think of him as a little brother.”

Jun-ha’s response seems calculated (to us, not to Pal-gang) as he asks meaningfully, “Then what about me? Do you just think of me as an older brother?” She’s a little puzzled, not sure whether to take him at face value. Jun-ha affects a serious demeanor and adds, “If that’s not the case, I have a chance. Then… I’m thinking of giving it a try.”

(The reason I call Jun-ha’s behavior calculated and affected is because he seems rather shifty all episode long, which I’ll get into in the comments section.)

The next morning, Kang-ha wakes to see a lump at the foot of his bed, and cautiously lifts his blanket: Pa-rang is there, curled up asleep. Yay! Kang-ha smiles in relief, then pats the boy’s head affectionately and covers him up with the blanket.

Ju-hwang enters the room, ready to give Pa-rang another scolding, but Kang-ha holds him back and tells him to leave him be. When Ju-hwang protests that he has to teach his brother a lesson, Kang-ha pulls out Pa-rang’s perennial defense: “It’s a disease.” (Ha!)

Although we get to see Kang-ha’s softer side, I love that he still feels the need to save face, so when he turns toward Ju-hwang he deliberately makes his face sterner. Ju-hwang assumes he’s annoyed and asks as a favor, “Please just endure it for a month.” Kang-ha sighs, “I guess I’ll have to.”

At breakfast, Pal-gang asks if the men are planning to go out today; as it’s Sunday, she intends to conduct a thorough house cleaning. Jun-ha asks about the children’s school schedule, and upon hearing that they’re going back next week, he suggests that they transfer schools to this neighborhood, since their old school is far. Pal-gang answers that it’s fine to keep going to their old school, since they’ll be moving out soon enough.

To everyone’s surpise, Jun-ha repeats his suggestion and offers to handle the transfer tomorrow, explaining, “Who knows, you may continue living here.” The kids perk up, thinking this is an indication that he’s decided to marry their sister. Pal-gang is taken aback and hushes her siblings, but Jun-ha just says, “You never know what’ll happen.”

Tae-kyu definitely finds this unusual, but he takes it the wrong way and thanks Jun-ha profusely for helping him. This was his uncle’s way of helping Tae-kyu by keeping the family around, right? Overcome with gratitude, he kisses Jun-ha on the cheek and declares, “I love you!”

The family helps out in the big house cleaning. Ju-hwang and Pa-rang clean Kang-ha’s room, although Kang-ha cleans his inner glass room himself. When Pa-rang hears that the room is for listening to music, he steps inside and announces, “I like music too. Do you have Digimon songs?”

Curiously, Pa-rang looks at the record player and wonders what the machine is. He touches the needle, scratching the record, and Kang-ha jumps up to stop him, holding his precious record as though pained. Although Pa-rang doesn’t really know what he’s done, Ju-hwang does; he holds his brother back and asks, “That’s very valuable, isn’t it?”

With words that contradict his cringing posture and aggrieved expression, Kang-ha answers stiffly, “No. I listened to it so much I was about to throw it away. It doesn’t matter.” (Aww!)

Pa-rang offers to clean the other parts of the room and starts dusting. His careless movements knock over a speaker, which Kang-ha hastens to straighten. He then picks up the boy to take him outside. Pa-rang, thinking he’s about to be punished, exclaims that he’s sorry.

But Kang-ha just deposits him in front of his computer: “You’ll be most helpful to me just playing games.” Immediately, Pa-rang perks up and starts playing Super Mario Bros.

Downstairs, everyone’s startled when Ju-hwang explains that Pa-rang is happily playing games on Kang-ha’s computer. They all know Kang-ha’s rules about not touching his computer, so it’s surprising to hear that this is authorized behavior.

Having stated his intention to woo Pal-gang, Jun-ha acts the part of the benevolent suitor by offering to take the family out for lunch, and goes upstairs to collect Pa-rang. He says rather pointedly that Kang-ha will probably stay home, right? This leaves Kang-ha out of the loop (although he does have some fun playing Super Mario Bros. after Pa-rang leaves).

Over lunch, Jun-ha pours on the charm, being especially nice (even for him) and fussing over Nam. Pal-gang is a little uncomfortable — not that she dislikes Jun-ha’s behavior, but because it feels excessive and makes her feel indebted to him. The kids don’t have that same mental block and enjoy his generosity, so much that Cho-rok feels conflicted — she’s starting to see Jun-ha’s appeal but has declared loyalty to Tae-kyu.

After lunch, he takes the kids back-to-school shopping — another act of generosity that Pal-gang tries to insist is unncessary. He assures her, “I have a lot of money, but nowhere to spend it. Help me spend it.”

After buying things for the kids, Jun-ha urges Pal-gang to buy something for herself too. She declines the offer, though he does notice her stopping to admire a dress in the window. When she goes off to change Nam’s diaper, the kids tell Jun-ha that Pal-gang doesn’t wear skirts anymore — not since their parents died. (This explains why she was giving away her miniskirts at the sauna in an early episode. This point hasn’t been played up before, but I suppose the skirts represent her formerly frivolous outlook, and now that she’s devoted to motherhood, her vanity is a thing of the past.)

When the family comes back home, Kang-ha just watches quietly. Tae-kyu expresses his disappointment at being left out, but Kang-ha isn’t the type to admit it out loud.

Pal-gang sees that the lunch she left for Kang-ha went uneaten and asks Kang-ha about it. He replies that he wasn’t hungry, so she offers to make whatever he’d like for dinner. Kang-ha keeps his gaze fixed on his book and coolly declines her offer. He’s going to the gym, so she needn’t bother with his dinner.

Despite his composed facade, we know from the furious way he runs that he’s bothered, since running is his outlet for stress. He does happen to have a trial the next day, but clearly work isn’t the only thing troubling him.

And of course, sweaty exercise necessitates showering — no not gratuitous not at all! — and the drama would be remiss if it were to skip out on this excuse very necessary reason to give us a shower scene, wouldn’t it?

Chairman Jung is feeling lonely at home, missing the company of the Jin family, and comes over for the night. He had asked Pal-gang earlier if he could come over, but everyone had been home so she had told him to sneak in at nighttime.

She wonders where he sleeps on the nights he is away, so he answers that he sometimes stays in a homeless shelter. Worrying, she suggests that he stay in this house, hidden, rather than roaming around. Grandpa gives Pal-gang some money for Nam’s milk, explaining that he managed to sell some good junk that he’d found. Naturally, she refuses, telling him to keep it himself. She’s young and able to work, so she’s better off than he is. It’s pretty funny to see Grandpa Jung thwarted whenever he tries to help out the family, because he can’t reveal that he’s stinkin’ rich and his explanations make him sound so poor that the family refuses to take his money.

Complications arise the next day at the office, when In-gu greets the Won brothers and sees Pal-gang arriving in the lobby. He recognizes her as Mimi from the room salon, and calls her over to chide her for seeking him out at the office, assuming she’s out for money or some such thing.

Jun-ha covers for her, saying that he is mistaken, identifying Pal-gang as one of their employees. In-gu is pretty sure he’s right but lets the topic go. However, Jae-young is sharp enough to read between the lines, and catches on to the truth.

She confronts Kang-ha in his office, incredulous that he would hire a room salon girl as his housemaid. Kang-ha addresses her flatly, “So what’s the problem?” In purposely crude terms, he says that he gets around with women, so what’s so strange that a guy like him would take a bar girl to be his maid?

Jae-young asks in frustration, “Why the heck are you being so protective of that one?” Kang-ha warns her sharply, “Watch what you say. Don’t call her this or that one, call her by her name. Her name is Jin Pal-gang.”

She says that this is cause for letting an FC go, but Kang-ha retorts that he knows the law better than she does: “If you misuse your authority, you’ll have to fight me.”

After she stalks out, Jun-ha notes, “You’re saying you’d fight for Jin Pal-gang. The brother who hates getting entangled in annoying issues sure is acting odd.”

Jun-ha finds Pal-gang sitting outside, worried that this will become a problem for her and the company. He waves it off, saying casually, “What do you mean? Oh, that the president mistook you for someone else?”

He sits with her at lunch, where they’re joined by a curious Eun-mal and Jin-ju, who eye him with favor and thank him for helping Pal-gang. They praise his patience for taking in the formerly Useless Miss Jin, which must have been a trial for him. They go so overboard with the gushing that Pal-gang feels a little put out at their descriptions, muttering at them to cut it out.

Eun-mal describes them as a trio who resemble celebrities. It’s purposely ridiculous that she compares Jin-ju to Kim Tae-hee and herself to Jeon Ji-hyun, but it’s a bit of an inside joke to compare Pal-gang to Lee Young-ae (Choi Jung-won has in fact been called a younger Lee Young-ae).


Choi Jung-won, Lee Young-ae

Following lunch, Jun-ha escorts Pal-gang to register the kids for a school transfer.

Kang-ha spies them leaving the parking garage together, and his mood takes another hit. He is already feeling upset after an unexpected phone call has ruined his day; the call is from a middle-aged woman named Lee Yeon-joo who has just arrived in Korea. We can guess at their relationship, but in any case he coldly informs his secretary to tell the caller he’s not available.

On the way home, Jun-ha suggests going to see a movie, since they’ve got time to kill. Cautiously, Pal-gang asks why he’s being so nice to her, and he responds half-teasingly:

Jun-ha: “Hm, why could that be? When a man treats a woman nicely, why do you think that is?”
Pal-gang: “Please don’t joke with me.”
Jun-ha: “Does it seem like a joke?”
Pal-gang: “Yes.”
Jun-ha: “Then wait and see whether it really is.”

They stop at the supermarket for some grocery shopping, where they’re mistaken for a married couple. Pal-gang isn’t sure how to respond, but Jun-ha laughs and goes with it.

At home, Jun-ha helps make dinner, and even the thick-headed Tae-kyu is starting to feel threatened by Jun-ha’s continued solitcitousness. He tells his uncle that he’s helped enough, and Cho-rok urges Tae-kyu to help, too. Unfortunately, Tae-kyu just cuts his finger in his haste to one-up his uncle.

The woman caller pesters Kang-ha’s secretary for his cell phone number, and he instructs his secretary not to give it. Still, being reminded of this woman (okay, it’s his mother, which we find out soon enough anyway) puts him into a dark mood, and he goes to a bar that night to drink alone.

When he arrives home, he’s noticeably drunk and swaying on his feet. Pal-gang prepares some tea for him, which Jun-ha offers to take upstairs.

Jun-ha asks what the matter is. Kang-ha gets to the point: “What are you thinking? You can have any woman you want. Don’t act like that with her. There are lots of women we can pass the time with.” Jun-ha replies, “You know me. Before I make my move with a woman, I always tell her that I’m going to make the advance.”

Kang-ha warns, “Don’t play around. She’s different from the women we can just play around with.” Jun-ha asks why that is, and Kang-ha says insistently, “She’s someone who’s using all her strength to survive with her siblings.”

Jun-ha’s been maddeningly flippant thus far, and asks easily, “Oh, that?” But when Kang-ha warns, “Leave her alone,” his expression hardens. Jun-ha returns, “But I’m not joking. I’m more serious now than ever. No — I may be serious for the first time. Since you’re warning me not to joke around, I’ll have to become even more serious.”

A flashback shows a younger Jun-ha joining a long-haired young woman on a swing, waiting for Kang-ha. Jun-ha had wondered if she had ever waited for him. The girl had answered, “You’ve never made me wait, so thank you.” She had said it as a compliment, but of course, this is not the answer Jun-ha wants to hear.

The next day, Jun-ha drops by to see his ex (the Jae-young clone). They sit for a friendly chat and catch up — her husband is suing her for divorce, refusing to negotiate despite her willingness to forgo alimony.

The woman seems to come from a rich family, and is in a managerial position at a hotel. Since it’s time for them to renew their insurance policy, she asks Jun-ha about JK. Selling policies isn’t his job, so he calls in Pal-gang to handle the deal, which works out for both parties.

Furthermore, he suggests to the ex that while Pal-gang is here, she should talk to the employees about life insurance as well. So Pal-gang sits down with the interested parties and (competently) goes through the explanations.

As they watch her, Jun-ha’s ex guesses, “Did she cry a lot in front of you? Is that why you’re doing this?” She reminds him of something he’d said to her before — that he’d never fall for a woman’s trap again. “But that young lady seems like a trap.”

She was unable to get through on the phone, so Kang-ha’s errant mother waits for him at the office. She sports garish accessories, gaudy makeup, and brash behavior, and it’s clear that she’s been a pretty irresponsible mother. His expression hardens and he fixes his gaze away while she complains about his behavior. She’s here from the U.S. after three or four years since their last encounter and obviously thinks he ought to treat her better.

To avoid a scene, they relocate to a cafe where he tries to get to the point: Why is she here?

Mom draws the encounter out, wanting to cover some of the preliminaries first, making small talk and asking if he’s married. He repeats his question coldly and reminds her, “I told you that there’d be no reason to see each other again.”

Apparently he had given her money a few years ago, with which she was able to save her store and stay out of poverty. However, “that guy” gambled everything away in Vegas, and she ended the relationship. Kang-ha asks sarcastically, “Did you come for congratulations on your fifth divorce?”

He’s losing patience and demands to know what she wants, so she finally gets to the crux of the matter: she needs his help one last time. She didn’t want to ask, but he’s her only son. When she says in a self-pitying way that her son had been stolen from her, he replies acidly, “Stolen from you? It wasn’t that you sold him off? I may have just been five, but I remember the events of that day clearly.”

Mom had sent him away to live with his father, ignoring Kang-ha’s desperate pleas to let him stay with her. He’d cried and begged, but she’d ignored that and taken a huge payoff from his father to leave the boy behind and go. Mom points out, “If you’d lived with me, you wouldn’t have been able to be who you are now.”

Kang-ha: “You told the crying five-year-old boy who clung to you, ‘I don’t like you. I hate your father, so do you think I’d like you? So go.’ I begged you not to do it. ‘Mom, don’t send me away. I’ll obey. I’ll be good and not cause trouble. Even if you bring ajusshis home, I won’t make a fuss.’ But you had just one thing to say: ‘I need those ajusshis more than you.'”

Mom’s a little shocked at how harsh this sounds, because she doesn’t remember this at all. Kang-ha warns, “Don’t call me again” and gets up to leave. Mom points out that if he doesn’t help, she’ll have to come back to live in Korea, which neither of them wants.

Pal-gang heads to the hospital when one of her clients — the friendly store ajumma from her old neighborhood — has an accident and injures her foot. Jang-soo (Jin-ju’s admirer) also happens to be at the hospital looking into insurance claims and joins her, assuring the family that her hospital fees will all be covered by the company.

Dim-witted Man-soo greets Pal-gang enthusiastically and again repeats his refrain about seeing her parents’ car accident. This time, Man-soo’s mother says that even though Man-soo’s story sounds like nonsense, something seems odd about it. He never repeats a false story for this long, or clings so strongly.

Agreeing that it’s worth considering, Jang-soo offers to investigate further, saying that he also has a feeling that the story may not be entirely fake.

Following his encounter with his mother, Kang-ha drinks at a bar, then comes home late that night. He staggers toward the front gate, stopping to answer his phone. The call is from his mother, who says (in a subtly threatening way) that she may just seek him out tomorrow again.

This pushes his temper over the limit, and Kang-ha slams his phone into the ground, then staggers against a wall drunkenly.

Pal-gang arrives home in time to witness this, worried to find Kang-ha grimacing and unsteady on his feet. She smells the liquor on his breath and asks what’s wrong.

Kang-ha stares at her, then suprises her by grabbing her to him in a tight hug. His face twisting in distress — for once dropping the formal language and speaking familiarly — he urges her, “Don’t add to my troubles. Not you too.”

Unnerved, Pal-gang breaks free and asks why he’s doing this. Looking at her steadily, Kang-ha starts to move in closer…

 
OTHER PLOTLINES

Not much in the way of alternate storylines in this episode (yay). The day after Tae-kyu’s public proposal, Min-kyung can tell from her daughter’s moping that things aren’t going well in her plan to win Kang-ha over. She prods Jae-young to give up, saying that if she can’t make him her mate, she should make him her enemy instead.

Even though Min-kyung is staunchly against Jae-young marrying Kang-ha, she explains her reasoning, which actually makes some sense: “He doesn’t even know how to love himself. DO you know what that’s like? Because I’m like that, I don’t want you to be his match.”

 
COMMENTS

You know, this isn’t technically the best drama around and there are a number of characters I don’t care for, but somehow I have a great big soft spot for Wish Upon a Star. It started out just being the kids who were winning, but now I add Pal-gang, Kang-ha, and Tae-kyu to that group.

If I have a criticism, it’s that aside from the Jin family, I don’t really feel the emotions of the other characters as real. Tae-kyu’s heartbreak, Jun-ha’s inferiority complex, even Kang-ha’s mother abandonment issues — they’re fine plot points, but merely plot points. If I could ask for more out of this drama, it would be to give more emotional sincerity to the other characters. Still, I’m satisfied enough with what we’ve got, because there’s enough charm to keep me hooked.

So, Kang-ha’s trauma: His mother basically sold him off to go live with his rich father, then repeatedly hit him up for cash after he became a successful lawyer. Since Kang-ha is the older brother, one can presume that Jun-ha is the product of a happier union — if not perfectly happy, then at least more conventionally stable. This would also explain why Jun-ha has a more open, warm outlook in contrast with Kang-ha’s closed-off one.

We don’t know whether or not Kang-ha had a good relationship with his father, but this may explain why he doesn’t want to inherit JK, because he doesn’t care to take over his father’s business. Yet, as the directors hinted, he does feel some personal attachment to the company that extends beyond his mere job, despite his claims to the contrary.

As for his romantic feelings, I like the buildup in this episode. We can tell that Kang-ha’s guard is slowly dropping, but it takes a strong impetus to force him into doing something about it. It makes sense that it would happen in this way, when Kang-ha is feeling bombarded on all sides. Normally his tough inner wall is up, ready to protect him, but his encounter with his mother coincides with his growing uneasiness over Pal-gang — first with Tae-kyu’s proposal, then with Jun-ha’s declaration that he’s going to go after her. In a moment of weakness, he tells her not to add to his troubles — and since she hasn’t actually DONE anything to him, we can interpret this to mean that she has been on his mind a lot, bothering him. With his emotions in turmoil, he asks her to stop bothering him — which is more like him wishing to himself that he didn’t feel such feelings about her.

Jun-ha has now crossed over from being a sympathetic shoulder to cry on to being underhanded, although it’s still unclear what his true motives are. He tells Pal-gang and Kang-ha that he’s for real, but there’s a shiftiness to his attitude throughout the episode that points to more there. The flashback to the girl at the swings seems to hint that Jun-ha may be acting in retaliation for always coming in second to his brother. If not outright revenge, this is at least a chance for him to come in first. So I suspect that Jun-ha is treating Pal-gang as a stand-in for the other women in the past who have passed him over for his brother, and in particular the girl at the swings. It probably doesn’t matter whether this is Pal-gang or any other woman, just that this is the best opportunity he has to reverse the tables.

But that’s only speculation, and I’m curious to know what the deal is. Although I don’t love Jun-ha as a person for this turn, I kinda do like him being some sort of evil mastermind in a dramatic sense. I may have liked the guy as a warm softie, but he’s more interesting as a character like this — I want to know what he’s really up to.

In so many dramas, the second lead male tries to win over the heroine but is doomed to fail because he’s the wrong guy. He can do his best but it’ll never be enough to sway her. Jun-ha wouldn’t be a match for Kang-ha as his natural self, but now that he’s purposely trying to win her over, he may be more of a challenge.

I also like Pal-gang’s reactions to Jun-ha’s chivalry. For someone who had been dreaming for years of a prince on a white horse to rescue her, she isn’t enjoying his treatment, and in fact finds it a burden because it makes her feel more indebted. She doesn’t believe he has feelings for her, explaining that he’s being nice because he’s “a nice guy.” Just as she’s settling into her role of housekeeper and getting used to maintaining a semi-professional demeanor, it’s the brothers (and nephew) who push the boundaries.

RELATED POSTS

95 February 10, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 12

by javabeans

(Awwww. And look at the little-boy slippers next to the grown-up ones!)

A very good episode for Pal-gang, I thought. Is it strange to feel proud of fictional characters for making mature decisions and being levelheaded? That sounds like it ought to be boring stuff, but on the contrary, it’s really satisfying to watch her grow and actually be the voice of sense.

SONG OF THE DAY

Serengeti – “Hello, Bye…” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

As Kang-ha leans in to kiss Pal-gang, she cringes in shock and bursts out nervously, “What are you doing?!”

Kang-ha stops and pulls away sharply. He grumbles/roars (groars?) in frustration, angry with himself for this lapse of judgment. He staggers in the house to his room, where he stews in self-loathing.

Unable to sleep, Pal-gang heads to the kitchen to get some housework done, where she runs into Jun-ha. She explains that working is the best way to settle an uneasy mind.

Jun-ha asks why her mind would be troubled, and she hedges, not feeling comfortable sharing. He prods her — aren’t they secret-sharing buddies? — so she lies that it’s work-related. Jun-ha knows there’s something more, so he requests, “Don’t keep secrets from me. It discourages the person trying to come closer.”

In the morning, Kang-ha acts normal — well, normal for himself, which is stiff and cool. Saying that he drank too much last night, he asks Pal-gang if they had met in front of the house. Seeing that he doesn’t recall their almost-kiss, she answers no — they didn’t meet.

It’s the answer that is most comfortable for both, but Kang-ha is uncharacteristically upset by it. It makes him so angry as he drives that he has to pull over with a sudden dangerous swerve.

Kang-ha’s mother finds him at the office again, berating him for being so rude as to hang up on her. She promises that this is really the last time she’ll ask for his help, which is probably what she said the last time.

Kang-ha ignores her and walks on by, but his mother calls after him in a veiled threat, “Lawyer Won, we’ll be seeing each other frequently.”

Jae-young asks Chairman Jung for help marrying Kang-ha. She’s embarrassed to resort to begging for Grandpa’s interference, but she has only ever loved Kang-ha and doesn’t want to lose him. The chairman holds sway over Kang-ha, and surely he could talk on her behalf.

The chairman feels that this is a matter best left for the two to figure out on their own, but gives it a try for his granddaughter’s sake. Calling Kang-ha in for a chat, he asks how he feels about Jae-young, suggesting that they’d be a good match and wondering if he could be persuaded to agree. Kang-ha is polite but firm: He’s sorry, but he’s never seen Jae-young as a woman.

After being assured by Kang-ha that the wage garnishment would leave her with minimum living expenses, she anxiously checks her bank account to see how much she has been allotted. She half-expects there to be nothing, so it’s shocking to see the full amount: 1,649,574 won, or about $1,400. Pal-gang protests that this isn’t right — it’s too much. Something’s wrong.

Jang-soo diverts their attention with something even more interesting. He had looked into Pal-gang’s parents’ car accident and found something curious. Although the accident wasn’t caught on CCTV, footage does show that the car was being tailed by a truck. Jang-soo doesn’t think it’s as simple as a hit and run — considering that this accident happened in a location where there were no CCTV cameras, there may be more behind it.

Meeting with her creditor, Pal-gang finds out that her wage garnishment has been canceled. Since the creditor promised Kang-ha not to say anything about his role in this, the man has no problems making himself sound heroic, explaining that he pulled some strings at his office. After seeing Pal-gang caring for a baby, he felt moved by sympathy — after all, is he not also human, with warm human emotions? Therefore, he told his office that this was not right, that she was trustworthy enough to pay back her card debt reliably if they but gave her the chance.

Moved, she jumps to her feet and bows in gratitude, thanking him with tears in her eyes: “I won’t forget this for the rest of my life!”

On her walk back, she’s filled with new energy and vows to herself, “You’ve got to do well, Jin Pal-gang. With everyone helping you like this, you’ve got to keep a clear head and do a good job.”

But of course, Murphy’s Law dictates that just as her future brightens, she must be hit with a big obstacle. An angry policyholder calls her, outraged at the company’s response following the death of his wife. The company says that the signature on the policy does not belong to the (deceased) policyholder, and therefore they refuse to pay out the life insurance. Pal-gang apologizes earnestly and promises to look into it, but the man is not appeased. He warns that he has been badly misused and will take this to court.

In a dither, Pal-gang bursts into Kang-ha’s office. (He gripes, “Has it become a habit for you to burst in like this?”) Pal-gang gets right to the point: The company paid for the patient’s hospitalization, but because the patient’s handwriting wasn’t on the contract, they won’t pay the life insurance. How can they pay one but not the other?

Kang-ha answers that the first scenario doesn’t require an investigation of the signature. He asks sharply who it was that signed the contract if not the claimant. With trepidation, Pal-gang answers that she did. But there was good reason for it — the deceased client had hurt her hand, so she had held the patient’s hand and helped sign the form.

Jun-ha starts to speak up, but Kang-ha (already feeling short-tempered in matters relating to Pal-gang) barks at him to butt out. He says that Pal-gang should have known better, and that such a signature wouldn’t hold up legally. Pal-gang swears that she’s telling the truth, that the client had signed — what was she supposed to do in that situation when the signer had hurt her hand? Kang-ha fires back that she shouldn’t have made the contract, or waited until the client could sign.

He says coldly, “You feel like you’re doing this all for the client’s benefit, don’t you? Coming to the company lawyer and demanding the impossible — it’s all for the client, right? Don’t mistake the matter — one small mistake on your part can yield a cruel result for the client. Now leave.”

Jun-ha consoles her, offering to look into possible alternatives. But dully, she replies that Kang-ha is right: “I’m always doing this. He’s right that I don’t think from the client’s perspective. I was just thinking of my record. I did briefly think that a problem might arise because it was a big insurance policy, but I ignored it. The client asked whether it would be better to wait until her hand healed to sign, but I insisted. I said it would be no problem, that I would take care of it.”

With self-recrimination, she remembers that she had been thinking of going to the hair salon afterward to give herself a nice hairdo, like the one worn by the woman Kang-ha was with.

Jun-ha eyes her sympathetically, saying, “The problem is my brother, then.” She says, “No. The problem was always me.”

Chairman Jung tells Jae-young that he had spoken with Kang-ha, but doesn’t have the news she was hoping for. He tells her philosophically that it isn’t meant to be, and that she should let go. Jae-young protests, “But I can’t let him go.” She doesn’t even know how to turn her affections to someone else, having only loved Kang-ha for so long.

Tae-kyu had told Pal-gang that he will gather his friends for another policy pitch session, and he calls her to the bar that evening. Kang-ha sits alone in silence when, suddenly, a glass of water is thrown into his face.

It’s Jae-young, angry that her grandfather was placed in the demeaning position of becoming her emissary. For some reason, in Jae-young’s mind this justifies taking it out on Kang-ha rather than herself. Even Kang-ha has to give an incredulous laugh — why’d she make that happen, then?

She insists, “Because I can’t be without you! Did you have to go that far and be that cruel? You had to say that you wouldn’t want me even if we were the last two on earth? You couldn’t just say you’d think about it?”

Kang-ha replies, “I didn’t want to say that to him. I can’t lie to an elder who cares for me.”

Kang-ha leaves the bar, but Jae-young doesn’t know when to quit and follows him up, ignoring Jun-ha’s attempts to hold her back. She’s so persistent that she pushes Kang-ha into shouting, “Stop it!”

Kang-ha: “No matter how much you act like this, I won’t change.”
Jae-young: “What do I have to do?”
Kang-ha: “There’s nothing you can do. No matter what you do, I can’t make myself love you! Do you know why? Because I don’t have a heart. So please don’t just waste time. I’m saying this for your benefit, since I think of you as a sister.”
Jae-young: “Should I die? Should I take pills and die? Then will you change?”
Kang-ha: “Don’t mess around with a valuable life. Not for a man like me.”

Kang-ha walks away, and Jae-young calls after his retreating back — fine, she won’t make demands of him, so can’t he just stay with her? Jae-young slumps to the ground: “It’s okay if I’m just your sister, if I’m not a woman to you.” She doesn’t want to live without him.

Jae-young seeks comfort from Jun-ha, who holds her as she cries. She asks him sadly to do something about Kang-ha, because “I feel like dying.”

Jun-ha answers, “I’m in the middle of trying. I’m trying to do everything I can for you.”

Pal-gang had turned the corner (on her way to meet Tae-kyu’s friends) in time to catch the end of the Jae-young’s exchange with Kang-ha, and now watches Jun-ha holding her.

Jun-ha’s admission explains Episode 11, and thankfully, Pal-gang has now seen him with Jae-young. (I’m hoping this means she won’t harbor any confusion about his feelings in the future, despite his nice words. Her reaction suggests that she feels hurt — not because Jun-ha likes another woman, but because she feels used.)

At home, Tae-kyu scolds Pal-gang for not coming to meet his friends. She’s feeling conflicted and confused, and tries to answer him calmly. However, he continues to complain, not noticing her mood, and she loses her patience, raising her voice: “Woo Tae-kyu! Stop it.” First off, stop calling her “jagi” — she’s not his girlfriend, and she’s told him that over and over again. “I’m not your toy!”

Tae-kyu is taken aback at her sudden outburst, and says he’s never seen her as a toy.

Pal-gang tells Tae-kyu that his treatment of her is insulting to her, just as Kang-ha walks up the pathway outside toward the front door. As he approaches, he can hear the raised voices just inside as Pal-gang asserts, “I’m not someone you can just treat carelessly. I’m a person too!”

Poor Tae-kyu, who has been caught in her anger without any warning. Bewildered, he asks, “When did I not see you as a person?” Pal-gang warns, “Don’t use me in your emotional sport.” Tae-kyu slips and calls her “jagi” again, so she returns, “I said don’t call me ‘jagi’! At the end of a month, I’m going to leave this house if it kills me. So please don’t grab onto me, and just leave me alone! No matter what, I’m going to take my siblings and leave!”

Kang-ha doesn’t realize Jun-ha is standing there, also overhearing this exchange, until he turns and comes face to face with him. In the wake of Pal-gang’s hurt outburst, he tells Jun-ha, “I’m warning you. Just leave that woman alone.” Jun-ha challenges, “And if I don’t want to?” Kang-ha replies, “You heard her. Even if she appears dumb, she knows everything worth knowing. And she’s moving out in a month. So until then, don’t do a thing to her.”

Jun-ha answers, “She may leave this house, but I won’t let her leave alone with her siblings.” This provokes Kang-ha’s anger, and he grabs Jun-ha’s shirt: “Do you think I don’t know why you’re doing this?” The implication is that it’s because of Kang-ha, and Jun-ha admits that at first it did have something to do with Kang-ha. However, now it’s turning into something of its own.

Even if Tae-kyu has never meant anything harmful, Pal-gang’s words have a ring of truth, and he asks Jun-ha if the way he treats her might make her feel bad. Could it look like he’s just playing around?

Jun-ha: “Do you know what the most loving way to treat the person who doesn’t love you? Not loving them either.”

In a friendly tone, Jun-ha asks Pal-gang to join him for coffee. However, she is feeling tired from the night’s events and answers in a cool, detached voice, thanking him for taking her side and helping her: “There are many things I’m grateful enough to cry about. I may be thankful to tears, but I can’t be your source of amusement.”

Jun-ha turns more serious as he says, “I’ve had a lot of girlfriends. Because I couldn’t be harsh, I couldn’t reject the women who approached me. But I’ve never approached a woman first.” Perhaps he thinks this will make him more believable, but Pal-gang is skeptical: “Why do you have to go that far for a nobody like me? Why would you? Don’t you think it’s strange? I don’t have enough time to spend stopping such odd behavior. I’m so busy with the work that I love that I don’t have the chance to worry about other things. So please seek out someone who does have the time.”

This is a clear rebuff, but Jun-ha isn’t going to give up. He just answers, “I’ll need a lot of time, then. I can’t be harsh, but I’m patient.”

Pal-gang takes out the trash, and sees Kang-ha sitting outside in the cold. She tells him to go inside and passes by, whereupon he grabs her wrist. She flinches, as though bracing herself for his words.

Kang-ha tells her, “I’m sorry. For last night’s mistake, and acting like I didn’t remember.” She replies, “What’s the big deal about that? I know that last night I was nothing more to you than a girl sitting next to you in a room salon. So don’t worry about it.”

He insists, “I may be mean but I’m not that bad!”

This is the first time I felt that Pal-gang may be starting to feel for Kang-ha as well, because she looks back at him and answers, “You’re making a mistake. You should have just pretended you didn’t remember.” (It’s as though she would have felt better — more able to leave in a month, as she reminds herself she’ll have to do — if she could ignore the moment and think that he doesn’t care for her at all.)

As she continues on her way, Kang-ha bursts out, “It bothers me. It just… keeps bothering me. Because of you, I keep feeling bothered.” While this isn’t the same thing as a confession of feelings, it’s the first step — the word used (“bothering”) refers to a preoccupation with thoughts you can’t get rid of, or a feeling of uncomfortable awareness.

However, Pal-gang chooses to deliberately misunderstand the usage of “bother” and addresses him politely: “I guess so. You have a strange housemaid like me, so it’s natural that you would feel bothered. Just for a month — no, there’s not even a month left — please put up with me, even if I get on your nerves.”

Aww… I’m simultaneously proud of Pal-gang and sorry for Kang-ha — it’s the first time he extends a hand, and it’s rejected. But we get another sign that she doesn’t actually mean her words fully, because once she’s out of sight, Pal-gang lets tears fall.

Tae-kyu approaches hesitantly, this time addressing her by the more appropriate “Pal-gang-sshi.” She tells him to call her noona instead, and apologizes for getting angry at him — she was upset with something else and had taken in out on him.

Tae-kyu tells her what Jun-ha had said about not loving one who doesn’t love you back: “But I don’t think I can do that. I wanted to tell you that.”

While Kang-ha broods alone, Pa-rang sleepwalks into the room. It’s adorable how he remains asleep and heads right for the bed, and this time Kang-ha pulls back the covers to allow Pa-rang to climb into bed.

Patting Pa-rang on the head, Kang-ha wonders, “What kind of people were your parents? If I was born to parents like yours, I wouldn’t be like this now, would I?”

Kang-ha covers him with the blanket, then lies down on his side, facing the boy. He adds, “If I showed my feelings, I was always hit. So after a certain point, I couldn’t show them anymore.”

True to her threat, Kang-ha’s mother is once again in the lobby waiting for Kang-ha the next morning. She notes that he’s stronger than his father, who would always cave immediately whenever she threatened to come by to the office. Seeing that her methods aren’t working, she manages to break through Kang-ha’s stoic demeanor by asking, “Doesn’t your brother work here too?”

He grabs her arm, asking if she really wants to see her only son dying. Airily, Mom answers that she understands business well enough to know that she’d better not mess with his Achilles heel. Still, a person can become awfully unpredictable when backed into a corner: “Don’t put your mother into that position.”

Next, Kang-ha’s mother breezes into the office of Min-kyung, and it’s clear they’re very familiar with each other. In fact, Kang-ha’s mother had once taken in Min-kyung, although the latter had to do the laundry and menial chores to earn her keep. (This makes me think they were both bar hostesses or some such.)

They both harbor a mutual disdain for the other woman, which manifests in the form of passive-aggressive barbs at each other. I swear, it’s like Smug and Smugger with these two. When Kang-ha’s mother threatens to go around to all of Min-kyung’s usual haunts to chat about her past (a veiled attempt to extort some cash, perhaps), Min-kyung replies that everyone already knows about her. It’s a nice aspect about living with your past in the open — there’s no reason to feel nervous.

Jae-young walks in and recognizes the woman, following her out to ask why she came looking for Kang-ha. Min-kyung leads her daughter away, but Jae-young keeps pestering her mother about the woman until the latter finally says, “She’s Kang-ha’s birth mother, okay? Do you know why I hate Kang-ha so much? It’s because he’s the son of a woman like her.”

Chairman Jung had heard from Pal-gang about her client’s problem, and now makes the executive order to settle the case. He tells Kang-ha to pay out the policy because the company’s employee made the mistake. Therefore, the company should take responsibility.

Pal-gang remains unaware of this and busily works at the funeral wake, doing the only thing she can think of to help. The widower is still furious and orders her to leave because he doesn’t even want to see her face. However, his mood changes when he answers a phone call informing him about the insurance company’s decision. He hangs up and asks Pal-gang what she had told her company, because they’ve agreed to pay the policy without additional investigation.

Ecstatic, Pal-gang bursts into Kang-ha’s office (he mutters, “This really is a habit now”) and thanks him.

He informs her that he had nothing to do with it — a higher-up made the decision and he was just following instructions. Pal-gang doesn’t buy it, saying he’s just being humble, and thanks him anyway.

Kang-ha repeats that he didn’t do anything, but Pal-gang is undaunted (no doubt used to his brusque ways). She leaves the office in a giddy mood, chuckling to herself.

Jun-ha catches her in the hallway and comments that she must have good news. Pal-gang’s smile fades and she avoids his eye as she tells him the case worked out.

Jun-ha notices her avoidance and asks why. Pal-gang responds, “It’s because I think of the lawyer, you, and Tae-kyu only as my employers.”

Suspicious, Jun-ha asks his brother if he took care of Pal-gang’s client — does he want to be some benevelent Daddy Long Legs figure? That’s not really his thing, and he should refrain from such acts in the future.

Kang-ha: “And if I can’t? If I don’t want to?”
Jun-ha: “What are you doing?”
Kang-ha: “What do you think?”
Jun-ha: “Has your competitive spirit come out again? Have you been provoked into playing the game of who will win over the lovely girl first? But Jin Pal-gang isn’t enough of a great catch to inspire you to feel competitive. I’m not interested in playing a game, so back off this time.”
Kang-ha: “You said yourself that this was the first time you’ve seen me speaking so much because of a woman, or getting angry.”
Jun-ha: “So?”
Kang-ha: “I wondered why I was like that. I want to find out the reason for it — so why don’t you back off?”
Jun-ha: “You have Jae-young, who loves you to death.”
Kang-ha: “Then she’ll need your comfort.”
Jun-ha: “Wake up.”
Kang-ha: “I think you’re the one who needs to wake up. Think carefully why you’ve turned your attention to Jin Pal-gang.”

Eun-mal and Jin-ju come by the house, and Eun-mal teaches Pal-gang how to make kimchi, which is a big hit with everyone. When Eun-mal goes to use the bathroom, she runs right into Grandpa Jung — and she, unlike Pal-gang, immediately recognizes him as the chairman of JK.

He speaks with her in private to ask her to cooperate (i.e., keep his identity a secret). He’s watching over Pal-gang to make sure she’s getting along okay. When she and Jin-ju leave the house, Eun-mal says that Pal-gang will be fine now (though she can’t explain why to Jin-ju).

That evening, Pal-gang prepares a lavish dinner spread, wanting to thank Kang-ha for helping with her insurance case. After sitting down and being served, the family digs in. Seeing that Pal-gang is still standing, he invites her to sit down. She declines politely, saying that it’s about time for Nam to wake. Kang-ha suggests that if she leaves the door to her room open, they’ll be able to hear when he wakes.

This is much more solicitious than he has been in the past, and Cho-rok asks her sister, “Doesn’t he seem a little strange today?” No-rang replies (loyal to the last!) that Jun-ha must have rubbed off on him.

That evening, Pal-gang brings Kang-ha his tea (and is proud of herself for knocking for once). Hesitantly, she asks if she can change the bedsheets now because she’d forgotten earlier. With uncharacteristic politeness, he tells her to go ahead. As she works, Kang-ha watches with a curious expression on his face, although he turns away quickly when she faces him.

Pal-gang bids him good night, but Kang-ha stops her by mentioning her contract, which gives her a month to stay in this house. Kang-ha proposes, “I’d like to extend the duration of the contract. Would that be possible?”

 
COMMENTS

As I said, I felt proud of Pal-gang for sticking to her professionalism. She’s being approached by Tae-kyu, then Jun-ha, and now even Kang-ha and her life is difficult enough without all of these complications. In order devote herself to motherhood, she has to stick to the lines she’s drawn, and they keep stepping over them and smudging them without a care for her feelings, as she points out to Tae-kyu. I like that she is firm with Jun-ha even though he seems to be the worst offender in disregarding her feelings. (Tae-kyu can be inconsiderate, but he’s harmless and Pal-gang recognizes that. Jun-ha is more of a danger, because he knows exactly what he’s doing and is smart and manipulative.)

I don’t know if Pal-gang has feelings for Kang-ha yet, because it could just be that she’s exhausted from all this emotional toying. It’s probably easier for her to lump all three men together and to consider their so-called affections as either false or fleeting, rather than trying to deal with each difficult man one by one. But her reaction after brushing Kang-ha off suggests that he affects her more than the other two.

I’m okay with Pal-gang not knowing for sure, because neither does Kang-ha, and I appreciate that he doesn’t jump to conclusions and decide he must be in love with Pal-gang. Instead, he’s feeling his way around his emotional reactions, and he tells Jun-ha that he’s trying to figure out the reason for his response to Pal-gang. He has a clue, but he’s testing things out carefully.

Kang-ha’s moment with sleepwalking Pa-rang confirms that he feels a connection to the boy, and I wonder if Kang-ha sees himself in Pa-rang. He wonders wistfully if he could have turned out like Pa-rang with loving parents, but conversely, I think he also wants to prevent Pa-rang from turning into himself.

As for Jun-ha….

I think some will disagree with this, but I actually think that in light of this episode, Shin Dong-wook has been doing a very good job keeping tabs on what his character should feel and convey, which are not always the same thing. Episode 11 had us all confused about his motivations, but I think we were supposed to wonder until this episode cleared things up.

Example: We all felt Jun-ha was being shifty and scheming in Episode 11, because his dialogue was delivered with that faux-sincerity that made us wonder what his real deal was. If he was supposed to be sincere, I think he would have acted it a much different way, rather than deliberately evasive and suspicious. Even when he told Kang-ha that he’s for real — and said so fervently — his little side smirks to himself told us that he wasn’t quite on the level.

THEN, in the scene with Jae-young in this episode, those ambiguities fell away and all of a sudden he seemed sincere; I immediately believed that THIS is the real Jun-ha. Perhaps your interpretation will be different, but his acting showed such a stark contrast in that scene that it left me no doubts.

I think Jun-ha is an inherently nice guy, but right now Jae-young is his Number 1. Therefore, if he hurts other people, that’s regrettable but not going to stop him from doing what he can to make her happy. So I interpret Jun-ha’s actions to mean that he is trying to woo Pal-gang to keep her out of Kang-ha’s way, and if he can prevent those two from bonding, Jae-young has a better shot at realizing her love. (If Tae-kyu won Pal-gang, that would have suited him fine, too, but once that fizzled, he had to make sure to keep Pal-gang wrapped up with someone else. Hence his advances.)

However, I do suspect Jun-ha will fall victim to his own machinations — a sort of Dangerous Liaisons twist.

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96 February 22, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 13

by javabeans

Yay, it’s back! I suppose absence does make the heart grow fonder, because a week off with no new Wish Upon a Star episodes really whetted my appetite for a new one today.

Also: I’ve been meaning to mention it for a while now, but I love baby Nami. Often the baby of a drama is just a prop, but the little boy playing Nam has this habit of doing really cute things in the background that may go unnoticed upon first watch. In scenes when he’s just supposed to be in the background, he’ll bounce in his chair or clap or give these really adorable looks. Hilarious!

SONG OF THE DAY

Wish Upon a Star OST – “눈물의 거리” (Street of tears) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 13 RECAP

Kang-ha makes his proposal to extend the terms of her contract, feeling rather pleased with himself. But Pal-gang is stunned at the change of heart and swoops in close to look at him face to face. She asks, puzzled, “Extend… the contract…?” He retorts that it’s not that complicated to understand, but Pal-gang, still unable to make sense of this, gulps down the tea she’d brought for him and chokes.

When she can speak again, she asks how long an extension he is suggesting. Kang-ha replies, “How about we start with three months, then consult later about further extensions?” Pal-gang stammers at this windfall, nearly rendered speechless. But she isn’t so surprised that she forgets what’s really important! “We have to rewrite the contract.”

Kang-ha obliges by writing a very basic contract, but this time she repeats his old comments about being specific — they have to stipulate the time period, the parties involved, the conditions, everything! (Kang-ha looks put out to have his generous gesture marred by such a forward-thinking Pal-gang, hehe.)

She adds hopefully, “You suggested extending the contract first, which means that you’re satisfied with my work as your live-in housekeeper. So that means that if you raise my salary, I’d have the desire to work even harder…”

Seeing Kang-ha’s expression, Pal-gang backs off, admitting that she’s probably pushing it. They can leave out that last part, since he’s already housing and feeding her siblings. She had been hoping for an increase of 20,000 or 30,000 won (daily? weekly?), so when he asks, “Will 100,000 won do?” she practically weeps with happiness.

Pal-gang walks down in a daze with her contract, which makes Tae-kyu jump to the conclusion that Kang-ha has given her a hard time again. Instead, she exults at the three-month extension, and Tae-kyu excitedly joins her in celebration, jumping up and down. Of course, the jumping causes the water in his cup to splash all over her face — LOL! I love it.

As in a prior episode, we see that Pal-gang is more moved by Kang-ha’s kindness than she’d like to let on. She gives herself a firm reminder:

Pal-gang: “Jin Pal-gang, you’re a live-in maid. Even if they see you as a pushover and play jokes with you, just let them. Got it? You can’t bat an eyelash. Hold the kids’ hands tightly, and look ahead to your way out. Just look ahead. Don’t look back at anyone. Not anyone.”

Tae-kyu celebrates with the kids and Grandpa Jung. Cho-rok puts the idea into Tae-kyu’s head (which he hadn’t even considered) that Kang-ha’s act was actually for Tae-kyu’s benefit. Since Tae-kyu is determined to marry Pal-gang, Kang-ha must be allowing the extension so he can give the matter serious consideration. Tae-kyu eagerly accepts this idea.

At work, Pal-gang’s supervisor tells Jae-young that Pal-gang has signed five policies. Instead of being impressed, however grudgingly, Jae-young says that the clients must have just felt pity for her. I HATE JAE-YOUNG.

She spots Kang-ha’s mother at the front desk as the older woman tries to wrangle Kang-ha’s home address from the receptionist. Jae-young takes her aside for a chat, telling her openly that she heard about her relationship with Kang-ha from her mother. She’s also frank about loving Kang-ha and offers to help.

That evening, Pal-gang receives a call from Jang-soo, her friendly JK colleague who is looking into her parents’ accident. Grandpa overhears the conversation, so she shares the oddities of the case, saying that according to Jang-soo there are signs that her parents may have been intentionally targeted.

That gets the wheels in Grandpa’s head turning, and he gets up to go home. Of course, he can’t say he’s going to his fancy mansion, so he tells Pal-gang that he’ll stake out a spot for collecting primo junk in the morning. Pal-gang suggests that once she sets up her own place, he should live with her family. Then he won’t have to sneak in and out like he does here. It’s sweet.

At home, the chairman asks Min-kyung specific questions about the Jins. Did she know that he was going to give the man a hospital to run, and that the couple died? Min-kyung answers honestly, even admitting that she knew that the dead couple had children. However she makes it seem like the only reason she didn’t bother doing anything to help was because she thought the family would be fine. We, on the other hand, know that she purposely ordered their house demolished (as they were technically the landlords).

She is pretty frank about admitting that she felt wrong about the chairman ignoring In-gu for the Jins. She has always felt sorry that it was because he disliked that his son married her.

She lies to his last question, however, about whether she had ever met the Jins. She says no, then warns her husband that he should also answer no in the future. In-gu remembers seeing the couple at the hospital when they visited the comatose chairman. He thinks their deaths were a fortunate accident (for them), which indicates that he is unaware of any foul play. But Min-kyung says that it’s easier to answer that they never saw the couple.

That night, Pal-gang looks up at the skies with Nam, pointing out the biggest one. She suggests that they name it after Kang-ha, in thanks for letting them stay.

Pa-rang shuffles into the room, having difficulty falling asleep, and asks his sister for permission to sleep in Kang-ha’s room. Pal-gang tells him to go back to their own room, but Pa-rang persists, saying that if he says he’s sleepwalking, Kang-ha won’t mind.

With that, Pa-rang sneaks into the upstairs bedroom, drawing the blanket over a sleeping Kang-ha. Hilariously, when Kang-ha’s eyes open, Pa-rang immediately snaps his gaze up at the ceiling and pretends he’s sleepwalking.

Kang-ha: “Are you sleepwalking right now, or not?”
Pa-rang: “I’m sleepwalking.”
Kang-ha: “Would someone who’s sleepwalking answer that he’s sleepwalking?”
Pa-rang (a little shifty-eyed): “I would.”
Kang-ha: “You’re conscious, aren’t you?”
Pa-rang: “No, I’m not. I’m sleeping right now.”

Amused, Kang-ha invites the boy up. Pa-rang grins happily before he recalls that he’s supposed to be sleepwalking, then does his fake zombie-walk to the foot of the bed. Climbing in, he makes sure to request, “Please don’t kick me!” as he settles in to sleep.

So. Cute.

In the morning, Tae-kyu bounds over to his uncle and hugs Kang-ha, thanking him for drawing out Pal-gang’s contract, assuming that it was for Tae-kyu’s benefit. Jun-ha hears about this for the first time, just as Pa-rang emerges from washing in Kang-ha’s bathroom. All are appalled — he’s not allowed there! But Pa-rang just answers, “Mr. Lawyer ajusshi told me to.” Everyone gives Kang-ha bewildered looks.

Pal-gang has prepared a big breakfast, replete with three different soups, one to suit each man’s taste. For the first time, they feel sorry for making extra work for her, but she replies that she’s used to it now. Jun-ha offers to buy her lunch in thanks (which earns him a sideways glance from Kang-ha) but Pal-gang declines, citing a client meeting.

And through this all, Tae-kyu reacts with glee — he thinks they’re all being nice to Pal-gang purely out of love for him. Oh, to live in Tae-kyu’s misguided head!

A couple minor points at work aren’t too important now, but will surely be featured later:

(1) Eun-mal is relieved of her bathroom-cleaning duties. Recall that in a previous episode, Eun-mal had recognized Grandpa Jung as the JK CEO, and he had asked for her to keep his identity a secret. She had taken advantage of this opportunity to ask to be relieved of bathroom duty. When Pal-gang congratulates Eun-mal for her quasi-promotion, Eun-mal unthinkingly replies, “It’s thanks to you!” before catching her slip.

(2) Jang-soo is making headway in the car crash investigation, and now Jin-ju is starting to warm to him. In fact, today she offers to treat him to lunch — although it’s not so much buying lunch as it is using a lunch coupon on him. Haha.

During the lunch hour, Pal-gang meets with new clients from the company of Jun-ha’s ex, whose name I still don’t know and will therefore be referring to as Jae-young’s Clone. Clonelady takes advantage of this opportunity to test out her own theory, and invites Jun-ha over and mentions that Pal-gang is here.

Meanwhile, she invites Pal-gang to try on clothes that her wedding-planning company can use on their website. Naturally, this is just a ruse to have her looking pretty and bridal when Jun-ha arrives.

Clonemistress tells Jun-ha that she wants to confirm whether or not he’s really “caught in a trap” — i.e., in love with Pal-gang. If he is, she’ll know to let go. (Why the heck seeing a girl in a bridal dress should give anyone proof of one’s feelings is a mystery to me, but these possessive women are hardly operating on pure common sense, yeah?)

Jun-ha is surprised to see Pal-gang dressed thusly, but he does look upon her with some admiration. Afterward, he continues to offer to buy lunch, which she continues to decline.

Finally, he asks why she’s avoiding him. Perhaps he’s expecting a simple, silly answer that he can easily refute, but her reply utterly dumbfounds him: “Why are you going this far just because of your brother?” She admits that when she was Useless Miss Jin she was oblivious, but now she has started to pick up on things — she knows he’s not acting interested in her because he really feels this way. She assures him, “Don’t worry about me. Your brother is treating me this way out of pity, so you don’t have to do this.” (I was considering two possibilities: either she means Jun-ha is doing this out of pity, or to sway her away from Kang-ha. Her last statement suggests the latter.)

Not in his wildest dreams did he expect her to have caught on to the truth, and he asks, “Then what about your feelings? You liked my brother for a long time. Now that his feelings are starting to change, aren’t your feelings coming back?” She thinks about it, then answers, “No. It’s been a long time since I have been over him.” She cut off those feelings with her hair — so Jun-ha doesn’t have to do this.

Jun-ha blocks her exit, not buying that she could really stop caring just because she decided to. Pal-gang counters that it worked for her, “But it must not work for you.” He wonders what that means.

Pal-gang: “I thought it was strange that you were suddenly acting this way. I thought, why is he acting like he likes me all of a sudden? And I realized the truth.”
Jun-ha: “What is it?”
Pal-gang: “That you’re someone who loves in quite an unusual way.”
Jun-ha: “What do you mean?”
Pal-gang: “You said to Tae-kyu that the most loving thing to do for someone who doesn’t love you is to not love them back. Isn’t it odd? How could you have gone so long without being found out?”

Jun-ha has been caught, but he tries for one last bid to deny it. Grabbing her, he demands, “What are you saying?!”

She answers, “If you want to keep from being discovered, you should stop with this. If you don’t, anyone who’s not a fool will catch on.” This angers him even more — his growing agitation contrasting with her cool composure — and for the first time, he actually uses rude language with her: “Who the hell are you to think you know anything about me?”

Wow, there’s some real over-emoting going on here. It’s okay, Shin Dong-wook, I still love you. Even though you seem to be acting in alternate-universe version of this drama called Temptation of a Star Falling From the Sky.

She answers, “I want to pretend I don’t know. If someone like me catches on, those two will have to find out. Lawyer Won and Ms. Jung are both smart.” A bit desperately, Jun-ha tells her to stop spouting nonsense: “My behavior towards you has nothing to do with my brother or Jae-young.”

But Pal-gang reminds him that she pined after someone for five years. “So I know what it looks like to look at the person you love who doesn’t love you back. How painful and sad that is. I saw that in the mirror every day.” She adds, “No matter who you love or how, it doesn’t matter to me. But please don’t use me. That makes me too pathetic.”

(I didn’t think Jun-ha’s feelings for Jae-young were such a secret, so I’m not sure the huge reaction here is warranted. But I suppose it’s a shock to realize that Pal-gang — whom Jun-ha may like but still underestimates as being a silly girl — is aware that his act with her is faked.)

Kang-ha’s mother is happy to take up Jae-young’s offer for “help” — i.e., money — and meets her again to receive her payoff. Mom comments that Kang-ha doesn’t seem interested in Jae-young, and for all her horrible parenting skills, she’s actually pretty sharp about her son’s emotional state: “He’s someone who can’t bear the thought that my blood and his father’s runs in his veins. That’s why he doesn’t want to give love to other people.”

For the first time, there’s the teeniest hint that Mom has a heart as she confides that Kang-ha suffered not only with a mother like her but because of his father. Once when he was in grade school, he came to her with a bruised face and begged to live with her. Thinking he’d let others beat him up like a sissy, she had been upset with him, but he admitted that his father had hit him because he didn’t call Jun-ha’s mother “Mom.”

Jae-young worries about what to do, since Kang-ha doesn’t return her feelings. Apparently the words “GIVE UP” don’t register with her. Perhaps thinking to gain an ally, Mom asks, “Do you know that Kang-ha has an Achilles heel?”

Another adorable Pa-rang/Kang-ha scene!

Kang-ha has a new, state-of-the-art computer installed, and an interested Pa-rang watches him test it out. Thinking he’s being sly, Pa-rang asks what will happen to Kang-ha’s old laptop. Kang-ha knows what he’s getting at but has a little fun of his own, and answers that he’ll throw it away.

Pa-rang asks, “Can you give it to me?” Kang-ha answers no, because the boy’s only going to play games on it, and Pa-rang pouts.

And yet, when he races downstairs, he presents his siblings with his new acquisition: Kang-ha gave him the computer! He’s all proud of himself and takes credit for being smart enough to convince Kang-ha to let him have it. In fact, he promised to shine his shoes every day!

Of course, No-rang points out that they do that already. This makes Pa-rang wonder why Kang-ha would have “sold” the computer for that price. He races back upstairs to ask Kang-ha why.

Bursting into Kang-ha’s room, Pa-rang points out that they already shine his shoes every day. Did he forget to add a stipulation? He requests, “Please give me another task. I can’t just take this for free.”

Kang-ha, naturally, doesn’t care about getting anything back from Pa-rang and offers to think about it later. Pa-rang is eager to earn his computer, so he offers to massage Kang-ha’s back, ignoring his protests. Kang-ha complains that it hurts — but of course Pa-rang thinks he’s just exaggerating.

Annoyed, Kang-ha returns the favor to prove his point that the massage is more painful than refreshing. It’s like two monkeys wrestling. No, like two monkeys imitating a girlfight. I love it!

All the while, Pal-gang watches in amusement. Of course, she understands that Kang-ha is just giving the computer away, and smiles in appreciation.

Ms. Clone watches Jun-ha drinking that night, and wonders at this new side of him. Why is he acting like this?

Jun-ha is working through his own confusion — he’d been sure his real feelings would never be discovered: “But that woman… she found out.” Before, he had thought he’d die at being discovered, but instead he feels relieved. The significance is not lost on him: “There’s one woman in the world who knows what I’m really like. Why does that comfort me?” Yeah, his face looks as comforted as someone battling a bout of hemorrhoids.

When he returns home that night, Pal-gang smells the liquor on his breath and brings him some comforting honey tea. He apologizes for talking to her rudely before, and stops her from leaving to explain that she was right (about him pursuing her with false intentions): “That was true at the start. But increasingly, it feels like that’s not all there is.”

Pal-gang: “I’m not the sister to the children. We stayed at a sauna when we had nowhere to go, and the day that we came to live in this house, I cut my hair in the bathroom. I told myself in the mirror, ‘You’re not a woman anymore. You’re just a mother.’ I didn’t come to this house as a woman. I came as a mother to them, so they wouldn’t freeze to death in the street. So at the office, please treat me like an employee, and in this house, treat me like your maid. That’s the way to help me live as I want, as their mother.”

She bids him good night.

Tae-kyu is uncomfortable with Pal-gang visiting Jun-ha’s room late at night, even if it’s just to help. After all, he recognizes that Jun-ha is popular with the ladies, too. (Not that he’s jealous!, he assures.)

Jun-ha reminds Tae-kyu that she only thinks of him as a sibling. When Tae-kyu starts making excuses, Jun-ha grows impatient and cuts him off: “If Pal-gang appears as a woman to you, she can to me, too.”

Tae-kyu bursts in to Kang-ha’s room: “I think he’s crazy!” Understanding that Jun-ha has essentially thrown his gauntlet into the ring to fight for Pal-gang, Tae-kyu is thrown into a panic. Jun-ha can’t feel that way about someone Tae-kyu proposed to! He sobs, “This is a betrayal!”

Kang-ha is surprised, but he just tells him to go to bed. Even though Kang-ha doesn’t show an outward reaction, I’m sure Tae-kyu’s pained reaction to the “betrayal” isn’t lost on him.

In the morning, Tae-kyu faces his uncle with determination. Fine, if he wants to compete with him, he’ll take his stand — he won’t step back! After all, he’s a man too!

(Hilariously, Pa-rang misunderstands and asks if someone thought he was a girl. Tae-kyu fans himself in outrage, in an unintentionally girlish gesture.)

At the breakfast table, Jun-ha requests that Pal-gang serve him the same food as Kang-ha from now on. Not one to be one-upped, Tae-kyu hurriedly follows suit. This means she no longer has to make three breakfasts. (No-rang beams proudly at this generous display. Cho-rok grumbles that Tae-kyu agreed too. Pa-rang says they’re all following Kang-ha since he’s the best.)

At work, Kang-ha’s mother forces her way into Kang-ha’s office, a few moments before Jun-ha also enters. This is awkward, and forces Kang-ha to meet with his mother separately to keep her away from Jun-ha.

Mom finds it interesting that Kang-ha is so accommodating in front of Jun-ha when he should really hate him. After all, Kang-ha’s older but Jun-ha’s the legitimate son. Kang-ha answers that it’s because Jun-ha is “the only son of my mother.” It’s a confusing statement until he clarifies that he’s referring to the woman he actually considers as his mother (i.e., his stepmother). He warns, “Don’t think to approach my mother’s precious son.”

In any case, Mom announces that she’s returning to the U.S. This surprises Kang-ha since he didn’t give her any money — until she says she met Jae-young. Immediately he knows that she took money from her, which infuriates him.

Angry and hurt, Kang-ha rises and grits out icily, “We’d better not see each other again.”

Next, he confronts Jae-young and asks how she could dare to interfere in his life. How much did she give his mother? He’ll pay.

Jae-young refuses to answer, because she’s the person he’s going to marry — his mother’s problems are therefore her own. Casually, she mentions the fact that Jun-ha doesn’t know about them having separate mothers. Thus her next comment comes as a veiled threat: “The most important person in the world to you is your brother, right?”

His eyes widen as he comprehends her threat, and she issues her ultimatum: If Kang-ha marries Jae-young, she can carry his secret to the grave. But if not, “then I have no reason to keep that secret.” She offers to give him time to think it over — “but don’t make me wait too long”

Because we didn’t hate her enough already, right?

A small clue is revealed in the whole “Who is Chairman Jung’s long-lost grandchild?” mystery. He looks through the Jin family photo album, his eye drawn to an old photo of two women holding their babies. One woman is Pal-gang’s mother, but the other woman niggles at his memory. Pulling out a photo, he compares the old one with the newer one of his lost grandson’s mother.

This makes me consider two possibilities:

(1) Is this other woman the true mother, and somehow Pal-gang’s mother took over the care of Pal-gang? Mama Jin did say that the chairman’s older son was Pal-gang’s birth father.
(2) Perhaps the rumors of the pregnant single mother were about Pal-gang’s mother, but the investigators confused her with the other lady? It looks possible that there were two similar cases of single mothers giving birth around the same time.

Jang-soo is almost done tracking down all the persons of interest regarding the Jins’ car accident. Jin-ju accompanies him on his stakeout, and Pal-gang drops by to bring them snacks.

Jang-soo recognizes a man walking by as his quarry, and tries to ask him questions about the truck he was driving the night of the accident. The man understands what this is about and therefore aggressively denies being in the area that night.

In case you didn’t recognize him, he’s the shady man hired by Min-kyung to do her dirty work. He calls her that night to warn her that a JK investigator has been asking around. He’s confident that he didn’t leave clues at the scene of the accident, but it’s unnerving that Jang-soo was able to find him in the first place.

Min-kyung orders the man to disappear immediately — do not surface until she contacts him again.

After his wretched day, Kang-ha drinks aggressively that night at the jazz bar. This spins him back into a flashback — one that’s rather confusing, I must say.

In it, the young girl asks, “Do you hate me so much? But what can we do about it? Even so, just deal with it. I’ll go first. Come soon, okay?”

(I recall that Shin Dong-wook played Jun-ha’s younger self in a previous flashback — making him seem like a young man, not a child — so the young age of childhood Kang-ha here is confusing. Either the ages of these actors are all effed up, or this is his mother? I dunno.)

As Kang-ha emerges from this painful memory, Jun-ha and Jae-kyung join him at the table. She’s in a great mood, and announces that Kang-ha has agreed to consider the marriage seriously. Unsurprisingly, Jae-young (hateful wench) is the only one pleased with the news.

Being cornered into this decision is supremely aggravating for Kang-ha, who wanders the streets afterward and screams out his frustration to the river.


When Pal-gang comes home that night, she finds Kang-ha sitting on the front steps, in the cold. She can smell the liquor on his breath and helps him to his feet.

Looking at her intently, he lurches toward her and holds her to him. He asks despairingly, “I tried living again, because of you. I tried to start over with life, but now… now what am I supposed to do?”

 
COMMENTS

On the surface, this ending is pretty similar to the ending of Episode 11, so my first impression was, “This again?” But now that I think about it, I like the similarity, because it highlights how the emotions this time are actually vastly different. Back then, he was struggling to admit he had any feelings for her at all, while dealing with anger at the sudden appearance of his mother. His action was, therefore, angry and charged.

Here, it’s a sadder moment because he had been allowing himself to hope for better things, and now finds himself trapped by Jae-young. I was thinking all episode long that I really like how Kang-ha has approached his “courtship” of Pal-gang, in that he hasn’t been aggressive and burdensome. Not like, say, Tae-kyu and Jun-ha. Aside from his two sudden hugs, he hasn’t pressured her to doing anything, and has been letting things go slowly. That’s why I like that he asked for a contract extension — he wasn’t jumping the gun by telling her to live with him forever or marry him, like Tae-kyu did. He recognizes that he’s developing feelings, but he’s figuring things out for himself before he makes any grand decisions.

That’s why his reaction at the end of this episode is so sad — it’s like taking away hope from someone who’s just learned what hope is.

Stupid hateful wench.

(By the way, in case you’re confused with all this mystery surrounding birth secrets and long-lost family members — you’re not alone. I’m so confused with who is supposed to be whose grandchild/brother/mother that I’m just going with it at this point and trying not to think too hard. Just as long as it all makes sense in the end…)

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114 February 23, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 14

by javabeans

Could these two be any more adorable? And to think, when the drama first aired, silly Pa-rang was my least favorite sibling. (For shame.)

In keeping with this drama’s pattern, there are so many cute, funny, heartwarming moments that it’s too bad that there are other hateful characters muddying up the plot. On the other hand, I do appreciate having characters I can love to hate — if they’re going to be villains, at least they’re entertaining to disdain.

SONG OF THE DAY

Mary Jane – “Super-Showman.” I think I’ve listened to this song several dozen times on repeat.
[ Download ]

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EPISODE 14 RECAP

This time when Kang-ha hugs her, Pal-gang doesn’t push back angrily against him, but asks gently, “Why are you doing this? Is something wrong?”

Turning away, he keeps his (teary) gaze on the wall as he says, “I keep making mistakes with you. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” He heads into the house, ignoring Pal-gang’s concerned calls after him. (And I cry, It’s okay! Make more mistakes!) You know she doesn’t really mind his mistakes either, but it’s better for her to go along with it.

In his room, Kang-ha tells himself, “Let’s stop this. You aren’t someone who ever needed love anyway. You have Jun-ha. Just think of that.”

(The secret SEEMS to be merely that Jun-ha and Kang-ha have different mothers. However, until we are shown the full story, I’ll hold off on judging where this is going. But for the record, if that is ALL there is, I find it totally weak and unconvincing.)

Despite that, Kim Ji-hoon does a nice job conveying Kang-ha’s conflict, that in order to preserve one form of love (and his brother’s happy illusions), he has to give up his hope for a different kind of love.

Pal-gang sees that Kang-ha is drinking and brings him some soup to eat with his alcohol. He asks, “Are you worrying about your landlord’s health, as a housekeeper?” She hesitates a little before agreeing.

The mood grows more serious when he asks, “Why me? Five years ago, why was it me instead of Jun-ha? Shouldn’t it have been Jun-ha, instead of a heartless jerk like me?”

Pal-gang thinks back to the day it started, which was her first day of training at work, when she had been dozing. He had scolded her, saying that she should be embarrassed of going through life half-heartedly. He doesn’t remember, but she adds in a wistful tone, getting lost in the memory:

Pal-gang: “In life, there are those moments. He might be the one. The person I’m supposed to meet in my life. And so, I felt my heart constrict on that day.”

She recounts her feelings with a dreamy look on her face, then shakes herself out of it a little sheepishly. As she turns to go, Kang-ha grabs her hand and says, “It would’ve been better if it wasn’t me. You wouldn’t have wasted your time racking up card debt then.”

Carefully, she removes her hand and tries for an upbeat tone: “That’s why I’m back to my senses and working hard now. Don’t feel too sorry.” Still in his serious voice, he says, with some difficulty picking out his words, “Just… I’m sorry. I’m really… very sorry.”

This time, Pal-gang has difficulty shaking off his words. She keeps her back turned so he doesn’t see her tears, which she lets fall after she has left his room. He turns back to his liquor, a tear falling from his eye, too.

That night, Pal-gang thinks over Kang-ha’s behavior as she feeds Nam.

Pal-gang: “That ajusshi was acting strange today, wasn’t he? You know, I said that I regretted it, that I don’t know why I followed around a guy like him. But that’s not true. I have to live as a mother now, but still, I’m happy that I liked someone for five years. And I’m glad that the person I liked was him.”

Kang-ha and Jae-young sit down with her parents to announce their marriage plans. Or rather, Kang-ha sits with a stony expression while Jae-young beams through all the Botox to present the happy news. While In-gu is pleased to welcome Kang-ha as his son-in-law, Min-kyung isn’t. She’s suspicious about his change of heart and asks her daughter about it with some skepticism.

Jae-young is so wrapped up in “winning” Kang-ha that she isn’t swayed by her mother’s concerns and says that she’ll eventually sway Kang-ha to her emotionally — she has to take it gradually given his tough personality. It’s amazing how much confidence she has in something she has no business being confident about. Take, for instance, his reaction to her news that her mother is preparing a nice lunch at home for him tomorrow. He doesn’t even act like he hears her invitation and says he has work to do.

Jun-ha also can’t believe she pulled it off, not buying her coy explanation that Kang-ha must have changed his mind. He prods her to give up her secret tactic. Did she get him drunk and seduce him?

It might be the teeniest bit sad that nobody — not even her mother — believes that Jae-young actually has the ability to win Kang-ha’s love, and that they suspect her of tricking him or forcing him into agreeing. Only, well, she’s spiteful and horrid so I shed no tears for her.

Case in point: When Pal-gang runs into Jae-young and Jun-ha in the hall, she’s happy over gaining two new contracts. Pal-gang thanks Jae-young for all her help in putting up with her, and Jae-young can’t even be gracious (even though she has already “won” Kang-ha) and says snottily that getting the contracts isn’t as important as retaining them. UGH.

Jang-soo has been doing more investigation into that shady man from the previous day, Kim Do-shik. He had felt so suspicious after the run-in that he had returned to the man’s home the night before in time to see him leaving with his packed bags. He followed him to a motel, then talked to the man’s landlord to confirm that Kim Do-shik gave up his room.

In light of recent events, this looks mighty suspicious, and Jang-soo is certain that Kim Do-shik is involved in the accident. He intends to keep following him to see what else he can find out.

Grandpa Jung shows Pal-gang the photo of the woman he’s searching for, whom she recognizes as one of her mother’s old hometown friends. She doesn’t know where the woman lives because she had only come by once a year, but Grandpa asks her to think hard about any clues she may have into her whereabouts.

Over lunch, Pal-gang again chides Grandpa for spending money. He assures her he has money, and today he actually hands her his bankbook as proof. The balance is 31 million won ($27,000) — which makes Pal-gang’s eyes widen. She asks, “Grandpa, did you rob a bank?”

He brings up her mother’s friend again (they call her either “Jung-yi” or “Jung-ae ajumma”) and confides that she’s his daughter-in-law. She’s also the mother of his grandson, and he has to find her. So if she can think of information that’ll lead him to her, he will give her all that money.

I like that he’s finally being honest, but even so, Pal-gang doesn’t realize that he’s a chaebol group CEO. She merely thinks he’s been scrimping over all the years, and graciously declines the money, telling him to use it to live with his daughter-in-law.

Kang-ha is in an awful mood and drinks alone that night at a pojangmacha. He thinks back to Pal-gang’s dreamy answer of why she liked him, which contrasts sharply with Jae-young’s ugly threat to tell Jun-ha that they have different mothers. In anger, Kang-ha throws his bottle to the ground, splashing soju on the men sitting behind him.

He gives a perfunctory apology, but the thugs take offense to his rudeness.

Kang-ha is in no mood to beg for forgiveness, so he talks back and escalates the situation until one of the guys grabs him and throws a punch. They walk away, but Kang-ha’s feeling self-destructive and lunges after him, throwing a punch of his own.

Not surprisingly, he gets thoroughly beaten up, but he hardly even cares. As he stumbles on after the fight, he thinks back to the day he had offered Pal-gang a ride for the first time — the ride that led to that series of unfortunate events involving car theft, subway vomit, and diaper poo. It’s sorta hilarious to see that miserable “date” portrayed in a semi-romantic light now, as Kang-ha thinks, “I should never have given her a ride.”

Tae-kyu begs Jun-ha to give up on Pal-gang, afraid that he won’t be able to measure up against him. He’s not uneasy about Kang-ha anymore because Pal-gang has seen him at his meanest, but Jun-ha is a different story. Won’t he let go, for Tae-kyu’s sake?

He won’t, which causes Tae-kyu to storm out indignantly. He assures Pal-gang, “One day you’ll realize how strong my love is!” She just tells him to go to bed, and he pouts at not being taken seriously.

Meanwhile, Pa-rang hangs around, not wanting to go to bed until Kang-ha gets home. Pal-gang urges him to go to sleep, but Pa-rang runs upstairs to sleep in Kang-ha’s room anyway.

Kang-ha stumbles in all dirty, bloody, and drunk. He mumbles that he’s okay, but Pal-gang looks at his disheveled appearance in shock and tries to help. He shoves her back and bursts out angrily that he’s fine, heading up to his room.

Pa-rang wakes up, while Pal-gang and Jun-ha follow him up to ask in concern what happened. Kang-ha is not in the mood for explanations and yells at everyone to leave the room, then shoves them away.

(Oh, Kim Ji-hoon has taken some of Shin Dong-wook’s overacty pills! I’m sorry, but I was giggling throughout this scene.)

The adults are puzzled, but it’s Pa-rang who cries, “What if he dies?” Jun-ha assures him that Kang-ha is strong and tough, so he won’t die. He’s a Power Ranger, after all.

Kang-ha collapses on his bed while the others continue to worry. Pal-gang waits outside his bedroom door with a first aid kit, and sees him lurching to the bathroom to vomit.

Pa-rang also lurks around, waiting to check on Kang-ha. Perhaps sensing that her presence would be less than welcome, Pal-gang urges her brother to go in and pound on Kang-ha’s back, which he does.

Kang-ha has been feeling irritable on top of physically ill, but when he catches a glimpse of Pa-rang’s face, he registers that the boy is crying. He asks why, and Pa-rang answers, “Because you’re hurt.”

Kang-ha asks why that would make him cry, and Pa-rang replies, “Because you’re hurt, it feels like I am too.”

Although Kang-ha grumbles that he won’t be able to survive this world with such a weak heart, he’s clearly touched by the boy’s concern.

Now he lets Pal-gang tend to his face (being a wimp all the while). Pal-gang takes him to task for going around fighting, but Pa-rang sticks up for him. Why is she scolding him when he’s sick? Pal-gang: “Because he did something deserving scolding! I’m so upset it’s killing me.”

That doesn’t have such a bad ring to it, and Kang-ha wonders, “Is it really so bad that you feel that upset?” Pal-gang gives the safe answer that they live in the same house, so seeing someone come home bloody is naturally cause for concern. She adds, “You said you work out!” as though turning it back on him. LOL.

Kang-ha can’t let her just mock his physical prowess, so he defends himself, “It was three to one. And they were big thugs!” She scoffs, “Not even seventeen to one, but only three to one?” (“Seventeen-to-one” is a line popularized in the movie Beat.) He complains, “If it was 17 to 1, do you think I would have made it back home?”

They bicker back and forth (Pal-gang: “Why are you raising your voice? You didn’t do anything to be proud about.” Kang-ha: “It’s because you’re treating the three-to-one as nothing!”) so much that the arguing aggravates Kang-ha’s face injuries.

They take a moment to calm down, but no sooner than they resume the conversation do they escalate into bickering again. She points out that his mouth wouldn’t hurt if he keeps it closed; he takes offense to her implication that he’d better shut up.

Pal-gang urges Pa-rang to leave so Kang-ha can get his sleep, but he refuses. This time Kang-ha says that Pa-rang can do whatever he wants (read: stay), although of course he saves face by maintaining his brusque attitude. Still, when Pa-rang says with his little-boy maturity, “Please be understanding, for my sake,” Kang-ha has to burst out laughing.

When Kang-ha wakes in the middle of the night, still feeling queasy, he rushes to the bathroom. Pa-rang leaps after him to pound on his back again as he vomits, then asks, “Next time, just fight one on one, okay?” Kang-ha agrees.

Instead of going back to sleep, Pa-rang watches over Kang-ha, and blows on his wounds. He explains that whenever he had a rash on his face, his mother would blow on his face at night. Touched, a few tears slip from Kang-ha’s eyes as he smiles up at Pa-rang.

And then the tears threaten to fall in earnest so Kang-ha lies that it doesn’t hurt anymore and tells Pa-rang to sleep, turning away quickly. He lies on his side, face turned away, but Pa-rang peers over his shoulder and notices that he’s crying. He assumes it’s because of the (physical) pain, and asks Kang-ha if he’s crying because it hurts. The meaning isn’t lost on him as Kang-ha answers, “Yes, it hurts a lot.”

(Awwww. What a great scene. They keep outdoing themselves with the Kang-ha/Pa-rang scenes, at least.)

In the morning, the other kids look at Kang-ha’s face and wonder what happened. Kang-ha tells Ju-hwang, “I was acting like I had force and it backfired.” (This refers to his previous talk with Ju-hwang when he’d gotten beaten up, and he’d assured Ju-hwang he had force.) Ju-hwang says, trying to be consoling, that Kang-ha doesn’t lack force. Kang-ha says dryly, “Thanks for the comfort, kid.”

Recalling that the kids go back to school in March, Kang-ha asks Pa-rang what kind of gift he wants to receive, as a thank-you for tending to him all night. Does he want a new bag? A bicycle? Pa-rang perks up and translates this into childlike terms: “So this means you’re granting me a wish?”

He bursts downstairs to tell his siblings that Kang-ha is granting them his wish: they’re going to an amusement park today!

Kang-ha urges the kids to hurry and get ready if they want to get there early and make the most of their day. But at the park, he’s cranky with Pal-gang and uses the amusement park as an excuse for his bad temper. This makes Pal-gang point out that it was his idea to come here.

He counters that it wasn’t his idea, he was just fulfilling the kids’ wish. She asks why he had to take care of the wish today, and he retorts, “Because I’m impatient!”

I LOVE how nonsensical their arguments are becoming. They’re so ridiculous I laugh out loud every time. JUST DO IT ALREADY, YOU TWO.

They’re interrupted by the kids, who urge the two adults to join them on a ride. Kang-ha says he doesn’t know how to ride them, since he’s never come to a park like this before. The kids say that they’ve never come to a park before, either, which surprises him. Pal-gang explains that with six children, it’s a pretty big expense.

This segues to a reference to how they used to eat samples at the grocery store, which takes him aback. He knew they weren’t rich, but I don’t suppose that fact translated into real things in his mind, like not being able to afford fun days at theme parks or fancy dinners. The kids don’t talk with any shame, but he feels more for their situation upon hearing it.

He does let Ju-hwang pull him on the ride, from which he emerges swaying and queasy. Granted, he has just had a rough night and is probably still hungover, but his reaction is still pretty amusing, in light of his usual cold exterior.

He has forgotten about Jae-young’s lunch invitation — or perhaps he hasn’t forgotten but doesn’t care to oblige her. (After all, she didn’t ask him or wait for his response, and he didn’t technically say he was coming.) But Jae-young has assumed that he was coming, and has been preparing with excitement.

She calls him repeatedly — and he does see the call on his phone — but he ignores it, choosing not to answer. Likewise, Jun-ha finds the house empty and also tries calling Kang-ha, but his calls go unanswered as well. The Jungs wonder what the matter is, since they have all prepared for Kang-ha’s arrival.

I don’t think Kang-ha’s being a jerk about it; it seems more like he’s enjoying his moment and doesn’t want “reality” to intrude. He buys the kids hot dogs, and in a funny moment, he has trouble remembering how many there are, and counts using the system “Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, navy…”

Pa-rang wants to go to their old neighborhood grocery store for “dinner” (i.e., samples), saying that their pork is the best. Kang-ha initially thinks he means he wants pork for dinner and offers to buy that, but the kids clarify that they want to eat AT the store.

There’s another super-cute moment when they’re all eating pork samples and the store vendor recognizes them. He assumes that Kang-ha is Pal-gang’s prospective husband, to which Pa-rang pipes up and says yes. Pal-gang shushes him and covers for her embarrassment by ordering the man to keep cooking. The vendor asks, “Why are you shouting at me?” Kang-ha leans in and says dryly, “That’s her hobby.” Misinterpreting Kang-ha’s comment, the man laughs and notes, “You’ve fallen for her charms!”

They go from stand to stand, and even Kang-ha has to comment that at least they’re getting a full course meal. Pal-gang starts to comment on her mother loving this, but that mention wipes the smile from her face.

Kang-ha figures that she must have really loved her mother. She says yes as though that’s an obvious statement: “Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t love his mother?” But seeing his reaction, she guesses that he must not have a good relationship with his own mother.

Jae-young calls Jun-ha to ask where Kang-ha is. Jun-ha doesn’t know so he’s not entirely lying when he says that Kang-ha had been hurt last night, suggesting that he went to the hospital. Worried, Jae-young arrives at the house — but she’s pretty sharp and realizes that the house is empty. If Pal-gang and the kids are also gone, there’s a chance they’re all together.

Jun-ha tries to spin this in a positive light, saying that Pal-gang is only pricking her pride, and that she’s no real danger. She should be cool about this.

Just then, the family returns home, and everyone stops in their tracks to see Jae-young there. They can tell this is not good, even though Jae-young greets them with a smile. (An insincere, stupid, ugly smile.)

Jae-young tries to keep her cool even when hearing that the family had gone to the amusement park. She tells Kang-ha, “Thank you. Are you practicing with kids before you marry?” Mention of marriage grabs everyone’s attention, and Jae-young confirms, “We’ll have to invite Pal-gang and the kids to our wedding.”

This is shocking news for the kids, Tae-kyu — and for Pal-gang. Kang-ha looks at Jae-young in dissatisfaction, but that doesn’t deter her from asking with a not-so-sweet smile, “Pal-gang, would you like to catch my bouquet?” (And shove it up her ass, maybe?)

 
COMMENTS

I’ve stopped separating out the “Other Storylines” section because now the Jungs are more integrated to Pal-gang’s storyline. While that probably makes more sense for the overall drama, as a viewer I think that’s too bad because I think the tedium of the Jung family is being brought into the other threads.

Previously, I would pay attention to the other stories just enough to get the plot, but I shut off my attention and waited for the more fun stuff going on chez Won. That enabled me to think of this as a super-fun drama with occasional boring little blips that I mostly ignored. Now, however, the overdramatic Jung storyline is bleeding into the rest of the characters, so I think the tonal mismatch is becoming more obvious.

This is really a drama that is best when it’s comedic. To that end, witness Wimpy Kang-ha above. I LOVE IT. He can be as cool and mysterious he wants, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the drama started getting more interesting after it pushed things up a notch in Episode 7 and then really kicked it up in Episode 8, with his dignity taking a hit. Subsequent episodes have beaten and battered his pride to pieces, but it’s through those bits that Kang-ha went from a pretty face to a lovable dork. (And when he’s being wussy, he is SUCH a dork.)

The love relationship isn’t terribly romantic, but I’m there with Kang-ha and Pal-gang because I enjoy how their characters have developed. Aside from the physical and outward attraction, they’re good for each other on a more fundamental level, so I enjoy seeing them dealing with their developing emotions.

When the drama tries to get too mysterious and/or serious, however, it tends to go over-the-top, resulting in hilariously overemoted scenes like Shin Dong-wook’s yesterday, and Kim Ji-hoon’s today.

Lastly, I don’t think I’ve really noticed this in previous dramas, but does this one have a great lighting director or what? It’s not just that the shots are clear and crisp, but in emotional moments, somehow the camera manages to perfectly capture every glistening tear in the characters’ eyes. It’s really impressive — take a look at the two above, for example.

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59 March 1, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 15

by javabeans

Not the best episode; I thought it felt rather flat, particularly compared to the many adorable moments we’ve seen in recent weeks. There are a couple of reasons for this, namely: too much Jae-young, not enough kids. That, and almost everyone annoyed in this episode, except Pal-gang. (The kids don’t count, because they weren’t really featured.) I hope tomorrow picks things up and makes up for it.

SONG OF THE DAY

Wish Upon a Star OST – “그대니까 (내 사랑 너니까)” – Because It’s You (Because You’re My Love) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 15 RECAP

After the family comes home, Jae-young maintains a fake-friendly tone that all the adults understand is not actually friendly. Kang-ha clenches his jaw and retreats to his room in silence, followed by Jae-young.

Now in the privacy of his room, she lets her anger show. What’s going on, and why is his face bruised and cut up? Tae-kyu bursts in to congratulate the couple, oblivious to the negative vibes in the air. Kang-ha feels tired from dealing with all this, and asks to be left alone.

The kids don’t sense the tension in the air, and just conclude that Kang-ha is out of the picture as their sister’s possible suitor. However, Pa-rang insists, “No! Mr. Lawyer ajusshi likes noona!” Cho-rok asks, “Would a guy like that marry someone else?”

Jun-ha faces his brother to ask what everything means — his face, his taking the kids to the park, everything. Kang-ha tries to dismiss it as merely fulfilling Pa-rang’s wish, but Jun-ha isn’t convinced and asks, “Since when have you ever listened to others?” He advises Kang-ha to figure this out between himself and Jae-young, without using Pal-gang.

Kang-ha asks, “Are you okay with me marrying Jae-young?” Jun-ha plays it cool, saying that she’d be a great sister-in-law, but he’s curious to know why Kang-ha changed his mind so suddenly. He doesn’t get an answer.

Alone in their respective rooms, both Kang-ha and Pal-gang think back to some of their happier moments. She can’t deny that she’s affected by news of Kang-ha’s impending marriage, but she tries to rationalize her response. With tears in her eyes, she says not-quite-convincingly, “Still, it was five years. That’s why you’re like this. It’s nothing — it’s just because it was five years.”

The next morning, Pal-gang oversleeps and hurries into the kitchen late to get breakfast started, but to her surprise, Jun-ha is cooking. With a smile, he says that she was probably tired from yesterday, so he took it upon himself to fix the meal. He declines her offers to help, and sets the table.

The kids all love the cooking, and No-rang in particular sings Jun-ha’s praises, calling him prime husband material. (Tae-kyu, feeling threatened again, is less than gracious.)

March means schooltime is back for the children, and Jun-ha offers to drop them off. The family piles into Jun-ha’s car, leaving Kang-ha to look back at them as he heads off alone. I wouldn’t say he looks wistful, but that’s what he’s got to be feeling, since not long ago he was the one in the middle of the big family whirl.

Jun-ha even accompanies Pal-gang to talk to the school administrator, acting the part of the concerned father, which makes Pal-gang uncomfortable. (They drop Nam off in daycare, where Pa-rang will also stay for a few days until his school starts.)

Jae-young wants Kang-ha to meet her parents again, since he missed the first opportunity to officially greet them as her groom. Kang-ha reminds her that she agreed to give him time, but she says that if he waits too long, he’ll just overthink things. The best thing for him is to follow her lead without protest. Knowing that Kang-ha has particular respect for Chairman Jung, she warns him not to upset her grandfather. He should show at least that basic level of courtesy. Fine words coming from a spiteful blackmailer.

But Chairman Jung already knows how Kang-ha feels, and expresses quizzical concern over Kang-ha’s change of heart. Not long ago he had been firm about not marrying Jae-young, so what happened? Does he love Jae-young?

Kang-ha ignores that and replies, “I will marry her.” The chairman won’t be fobbed off with non-answers, so he asks again. Kang-ha can’t lie, so he says, “I’ll do that later, after we marry.” Chairman: “And if you can’t do that later?” Kang-ha says grimly, “I’ll just live, then.” The chairman sighs, and Kang-ha apologizes: “This is all I can say right now.”

In the office elevator, most of the passengers exit except for Kang-ha, who hears a sniffle. It’s Pal-gang, crying to herself in the back of the elevator, who looks up and sees him. Caught, all she can do is try to leave quietly, but Kang-ha grabs her arm. Concerned, he asks, “What’s wrong?”

She stammers that it’s nothing, but he won’t accept that obvious lie and repeats his question more insistently.

He takes her to a nearby cafe, where Pal-gang remains quiet and declines to explain her tears. Kang-ha persists, purposely wording his question a bit harshly (“Are you just going to cry at the office all day?”) to get a rise out of her. She doesn’t respond, so he furrows his brow: “Aren’t you going to snap at me for saying that?” No reaction, so he continues, “You’re supposed to lose your temper and say, ‘I have a reason for crying. Why wouldn’t I, when the situation is bad enough to make me cry?’ That’s more like you.”

At that, she sighs and starts to explain, “Being like me is the bigger problem.” She was just starting to think she was doing good work, but now it appears she’s as useless as ever. She had been really thrilled about winning a new account, a particularly big one worth 2 million won. Yet only today, she found that their factory had caught fire. The grace period on the new policy expired so she couldn’t return their money, which means that they can’t afford their policy and have to cancel it. (I’m not sure about the finer details of insurance policies, but from the way she’s talking, it would appear that the 2 million is something like a deductible, which means that they have just lost that amount with no way of getting that back from the company.)

Kang-ha sees why this is bad but doesn’t think it’s something to cry over, because these things happen often in the insurance world. If she’s crying because she won’t get her bonus, well, she’ll just have to accept that.

But no, Pal-gang continues to tear up as she explains that this is her fault. She pushed the large policy on the clients, so it’s her fault they’ve wasted 2 million won. Kang-ha obviously feels bad to see her so immersed in guilt, but I suppose he’s not comfortable with being the shoulder to cry on (not to mention that he’s purposely distancing himself from playing that role) so he puts on his stern face and chides that it’s no big deal.

They’re sort of dancing around that unspoken issue of his engagement, but it’s there in the air; now there’s an awkwardness in the air between them. Pal-gang hesitantly begins, “Your marriage…” which makes him look intently at her. But she merely concludes, “Congratulations on the marriage. You two look good together.”

Having seen Kang-ha’s reaction for himself, Chairman Jung tells Jae-young to reconsider the marriage, since Kang-ha doesn’t love her. She maintains her position, and even points out that because of Kang-ha’s father, there’s always the possibility of company strife between the two factions. If she marries Kang-ha, the future of the company would also be stabilized.

The chairman shrewdly notes that it sounds like she’s putting the company first. Jae-young answers that the company is as important to her as a person: “I think it’s fortunate that I can have both important things at the same time.” She’s confident that she can succeed with both work and family.

However, Kang-ha sits down with In-gu and requests to be transferred to the U.S. branch, for six months or a year. He says he wants more work experience before marrying, which doesn’t make any sense to In-gu because Kang-ha hardly needs the work experience. Kang-ha requests the transfer anyway.

Confused, In-gu asks his daughter what this means, but she didn’t know either. Angrily, Jae-young bursts into Kang-ha’s office to demand what this is about. Kang-ha growls, “I just want to leave.”

Because Jun-ha had followed her into the office, Jae-young veils her threat in vague words. She reminds Kang-ha that there’s also something she can do in this situation, insinuating that she will reveal his secret as she warns, “Don’t make me do that.”

Of course, such cryptic words don’t slip past Jun-ha, who asks his brother what this means. It there something that he doesn’t know? Kang-ha answers that Jae-young just said it out of anger because he’s running away.

Jun-ha doesn’t buy this, so he confronts Jae-young about her threat. However, Jae-young’s threat loses its hold over Kang-ha if she spills the truth, so she uses another explanation: “It means I really could die.”

Jun-ha reminds her that she used that threat before, and it didn’t work. Jae-young reveals that her mother had poisoned herself in order to force her marriage with her father, and vows that as her mother’s daughter, “I’m not just threatening. I really can do it.” She had told this to Kang-ha, and that must have been what changed his mind. Amazing how Jae-young can sound so proud of something utterly mortifying to anyone with a normal sense of shame.

Pal-gang feels guilty for her unfortunate clients and apologizes to her supervisor, who must see that her remorse is sincere because she doesn’t scold her. Rather, she advises Pal-gang to offer her help to the clients; that’s as much as she can do as the person who involuntarily contributed to their financial difficulty.

Thus Pal-gang helps out at a client’s clothing shop. Since she has to work late, she tells Ju-hwang to pick up Nami from daycare. I think it’s telling that she chose daycare (which costs money) even though Tae-kyu offers to take care of Nam — it shows that Pal-gang doesn’t want to be indebted to Tae-kyu (or the Won family). Even if it makes her life harder, she wants to be independent of them.

(Cho-rok also takes this moment to point out that Tae-kyu’s losing ground against Jun-ha. The pizza Tae-kyu buys them is nice and all, but how does that hold up against preparing a full breakfast spread?)

The brothers drink at the jazz bar after work, where Jae-young joins them (uninvited). She sits down, intent on getting Kang-ha drunk and changing his mind about going to the States. He, on the other hand, is irritable and says that he’d asked for the six months to have some time to think things over: “I don’t want to marry you. But I have to. Then can’t you give me six months to myself?”

Clearly not: Just as Jun-ha joins the table, Jae-young says leadingly that Jun-ha looks exactly like his mother, while Kang-ha doesn’t. Why is that? Furthermore, Jun-ha’s personality resembles his mother’s while Kang-ha is starkly different.

Jun-ha’s perplexed, but Kang-ha tenses. Angrily, he grabs Jae-young’s arm and drags her away to the staircase landing, where he demands, “Do you really want to play dirty like this?” She counters, “You’re the one who made me into this!” At the end of his rope, Kang-ha loses his temper and yells, “Fine! Let’s go through with that damned marriage, then!” He storms out.

Jun-ha approaches a tearful Jae-young and points out, “You got what you wanted. Why are you crying?” She says, “It’s more ridiculous for a woman facing ‘that damned marriage’ to be laughing.” Jun-ha says that it’s not like her to cry, and since she’s getting what she wants, she’s better off laughing anyway.

Maybe she wants more sympathy, because Jae-young cries, “Won Jun-ha, how can you be like this too? You shouldn’t treat me like this. You’re my friend. In times like this, you’re supposed to tell me, ‘My brother’s a mean bastard. But since you’re marrying him, congratulations anyway.’ You’re supposed to say that!”

For once, Jun-ha eyes her with a disapproving look. He explains that he had always been on her side when she’d been proud and confident. “But strangely, seeing you crying doesn’t hurt my heart anymore.” (Thank goodness!)

That night, Jae-young comes home drunk, where her mother confronts her about Kang-ha going to the U.S. Does she really have to marry a guy who is so obviously running away from her?

Jae-young turns the tables on her mother, saying, “You did that too.” After all, Min-kyung risked her own life by taking pills in order to get the chairman to change his mind and consent to her marriage. Therefore, shouldn’t she be satisfied that her daughter is getting her way, and without injuring herself?

Min-kyung hates when Jae-young compares herself to her, because at least her well-off daughter didn’t have her own disadvantages, such as a helpless mother or worthless father, or three siblings to feed with money she earned at a hostess bar.

Jae-young retorts, “Isn’t this the life you wanted?” She tells her mother that Min-kyung did it all out of selfish reasons: “For choosing a marriage for ambition rather than love, you should pat me on the back. I learned from you, so you should be proud of me!”

Min-kyung slaps Jae-young, hurt by her daughter’s callousness.

Min-kyung: “That’s what everyone says. That Lee Min-kyung used a child without love as an opportunity to change her life and succeed. That she even used a suicide attempt to hang onto an indecisive man. She didn’t really mean to die, but did it for show. Yeah, my mom and dad did that, they told their daughter who took drugs and tried to die that she did a good job. That that’s the way to succeed. Why can’t I be proud of you? Because I really did mean to die. I didn’t want to bring you into this world where you’d be suspected of not being your father’s real child. So I can’t pat you on the back.”

Min-kyung says that it doesn’t have to be Kang-ha — she’d rather her daughter be a woman who is loved. Realizing she stepped across the line, Jae-young apologizes. She doesn’t know why it has to be Kang-ha, either — it’s just that when she was young, Grandfather doted on him instead of her: “He received a love that I couldn’t receive. After a while, I felt I had to marry him.”

Min-kyung starts to understand, and asks, “Did you want to receive the acknowledgment that your parents couldn’t earn from Grandfather?” Jae-young answers, “When I was younger, I think so. That’s what I did at first, but now I can’t see anyone but Kang-ha oppa. So don’t say this is because of ambition. Even if I can’t receive love, I want to live with the one I love.”

All in all, a pretty solid scene. (Surprising! I know!) Min-kyung now understands that she and In-gu have wronged their daughter, and wonders what they can do for her now.

Jun-ha waits outside the subway for Pal-gang, suggesting a(nother) round of drinks. She sits with him at a pojangmacha, although she doesn’t touch her shot, explaining that she doesn’t drink these days. She used to before her parents died, but not anymore.

Jun-ha had figured she would feel like drinking today, after hearing about Kang-ha’s marriage. On the contrary, Pal-gang explains that despite the one-sidedness of her love, it wasn’t a heartbreaking experience. It was actually a refreshing feeling to go around confident that she could win him over eventually, even if everyone laughed at her for it.

Jun-ha asks how Pal-gang knew he loved Jae-young. She answers that whenever Kang-ha came in with the kids, he looked to Jae-young’s reaction, looking like he wanted to punch his brother. Pal-gang wonders why he never confessed his feelings to her, since he knows that Kang-ha doesn’t love her. He says that it was because she loves Kang-ha. Plus, his mother always told him not to mess with his brother’s things

As they make their way back home, Jun-ha stumbling a bit drunkenly on the front steps, he confides another secret. Tonight he turned away from Jae-young even though she was crying, which is something he could never have done in the past. For some reason, he could turn away today.

Pal-gang reasons (perhaps speaking of herself?), “It could be that you felt even more hurt so you couldn’t stand to see it.”

Sneaky Jun-ha spies Kang-ha walking up the steps, and the brothers meet eyes for a moment. Suddenly, he grabs Pal-gang to him in a hug, saying with (false) urgency, “What can I do to make you believe that’s not it? Just as your one-sided love is over, I’m telling you mine is too.”

She starts to pull away, but he holds her tighter while Kang-ha looks on. Jun-ha asks, “Or are you not over it? Is that why you don’t want to hear I’ve given up?”

With more force, Pal-gang pushes back and tells him to stop: “If you’re sad, endure it on your own. This won’t provide any comfort. The most I can do for you is being your drinking partner.”

She heads past him to the house, not seeing Kang-ha’s arrival.

Kang-ha (thankfully!) is not fooled by Jun-ha’s act, and tells him, “You can cut it out. I’m going to marry Jae-young, so you don’t have to work this hard.” He points out that Jun-ha is persistent, and doesn’t change his feelings easily, “So quit that awkward game you’re playing with that woman.”

Jun-ha smirks, “And if it’s not a game?” Kang-ha doesn’t buy that Jun-ha’s for real, and says that there’s a key difference between them — Kang-ha doesn’t ever mess with a woman’s illusions, and he’s not interested in women who are otherwise taken. But Jun-ha, on the other hand, can’t let go — “Even if you don’t make her your woman.”

Kang-ha: “Have you ever thought that that could be even crueler?”
Jun-ha: “Are you worrying that Jin Pal-gang will be manipulated by a cruel guy like me? You’re marrying Jae-young, but still you’re worried that she’ll get used by a mean guy like me. Be honest — that you’re worried about her. That you don’t have the courage to choose her, but that you don’t have confidence that you won’t fall for her so you’re forcing yourself into marriage. Or if not, just quit everything. Let go of the woman you’re falling for but can’t choose, and don’t go through with a marriage you don’t want. Then Jae-young doesn’t turn into a wretch either.”
Kang-ha: “I’m marrying Jae-young.”
Jun-ha: “Then why worry about Jin Pal-gang, whether I play around with her or not?”
Kang-ha: “Because I don’t want you to be tormented wondering why you turned into such a cruel guy! That’s the only thing I’m worried about.”

Jun-ha has been making Pal-gang feel uncomfortable all episode by his excessive kindness, and now his pseudo-confession makes things worse. As a result, Pal-gang calls Grandpa Jung that night to ask him about his request to find her mother’s friend. If she can find the woman, will he really give her the 30 million won? She doesn’t have the information yet, but she needs the money in order to find a place to live.

Things come to a head the next morning, when Pal-gang walks into a chaotic kitchen. Spurred to compete with Jun-ha, Tae-kyu taken it upon himself to make breakfast, only his dishes are a mess and he has fallen asleep midway through.

Tae-kyu insists that he has to prove his love for her, but Pal-gang is at the end of her patience. As she loses her temper, Jun-ha and Kang-ha emerge from their rooms in time to overhear her raised voice. She declares that she will move out when the (new) contract is over, because she’s sick of this. She’s sick of being a toy for this house of rich guys! At that, Kang-ha shoots a look at his brother.

That night, Kang-ha finds Pa-rang sleeping in his bed again. This time, he carries the boy out of his room and heads downstairs, where he runs into Pal-gang and unceremoniously dumps the kid into her arms, then silently turns back to his room. Once inside, he turns back toward the door, almost ready to go back and take back his actions. But he refrains.


Of course, this means he wakes up to an empty bed. He looks a little regretful to find the bed lump-free, but as soon as he opens the door he sees Pa-rang sitting just outside, asleep.

I’m sure this is a touching moment, but Kang-ha is in a repress-all-emotion mode and marches the boy downstairs. He faces Pal-gang coolly and instructs her to get Pa-rang’s sleepwalking checked out by a doctor. Also, make sure he doesn’t come upstairs anymore. His curtness, once the norm, is so unexpected that Pa-rang asks his sister worriedly why the lawyer ajusshi is acting like this suddenly.

Once again, Jun-ha insists on escorting Pal-gang to the doctor, who says that the boy’s sleepwalking problem should gradually ease as he grows. However, for the time being he will prescribe medicine to prevent him from getting hurt.

Today, Pal-gang tells Jun-ha frankly that she finds his constant attention burdensome. Jun-ha asks, “Do you know you’re really mean?” but to us in the audience, this seems more like an act than a genuine sentiment.

Meanwhile, Kang-ha and Jae-young entrust Jun-ha’s ex with the engagement party and wedding plans. (Arg, TWO Jae-youngs in one scene? Granted, Jae-young Clone is nowhere near as offensive as the original, but she hardly helps matters.)

Jae-young v.2.0 helps Jae-young try on wedding dresses while Kang-ha waits outside disinterestedly. The Clone asks (as a compliment) whether all the company’s women have such nice figures, explaining that a woman named Jin Pal-gang came by a while earlier regarding insurance policies. The Clone had thought it odd that Jun-ha would introduce her, so she had put her in a wedding dress to see his reaction and gauge what kind of relationship they had. She also freely admits that she likes Jun-ha. All this is a surprise to Jae-young.

(Can I say that I kind of love how this drama isn’t even trying to make Jae-young appear attractive, either with her personality or her appearance? Compared with Pal-gang’s wedding dress glamour shot, Jae-young’s dress is dowdy and unflattering.)

Still, the Clone presents Jae-young to Kang-ha with a flourish, expecting a grand response… only Kang-ha isn’t there. He had received a phone call and rushed out.

At the hospital, Jun-ha and Pal-gang race through the hospital in search of Pa-rang, who had managed to get lost when he stepped aside for a bathroom break. Kang-ha spots Pa-rang walking on the sidewalk as he drives by, and rushes to check on him.

Pa-rang explains that he got lost, but Kang-ha wonders why he called him rather than Pal-gang. Then, a thought occurs to him: “Did you really lose your way?”

Starting to cry, Pa-rang hugs Kang-ha and admits that he didn’t really get lost. The reason he called was because he has something to tell him: “Ajusshi, don’t marry someone else.”

 
COMMENTS

This is lukewarm consolation, but I like the episode better after having written about it than I did immediately after watching it. Plot-wise, I suppose we needed this stuff to happen, so it’s not like the tedium was wasted on unnecessary threads. However, you could argue that Episodes 2 through 14 have been great about balancing the dramatic with the funny, heartwarming bits, so it’s not like it’s impossible to have a better (more enjoyable) balance.

(That said, I’m sorta hating Jae-young so much that it’s almost — almost! — fun to hate her. She’s an enjoyable villain, in that it’s SO not even a contest that it’s ridiculous to pit her against the lovable and caring Pal-gang.)

So the crux of this episode is to hammer in that Kang-ha and Pal-gang Cannot Be, which is part of why it’s both a necessary development but also a bummer to watch. At least in previous episodes, we could see them trying to fight the attraction in a funny way, but now they’re both pretty aware of their feelings and are walking away consciously, thereby bringing us up to our kdrama angst quota. I did appreciate that this episode was full of Kang-ha throwing lingering looks Pal-gang’s way, and disapproving ones Jun-ha’s way. Like I mentioned, previously he was the one who got to enjoy being in the midst of the bubbly family hubbub, but now that he has decided to marry Jae-young, he’s forsaken that role and has to keep himself apart. Hence the removal of Pa-rang from his room.

Jun-ha, in contrast, is really pushing it with his Prince Charming role, because it’s so false that it’s irritating. I can see why Pal-gang is frustrated with it, because she’s smart enough to realize that he’s not being genuine. It’s one thing to actually be helpful (and I think in previous episodes, he was being helpful) but it’s another thing to pretend to care. That’s what Kang-ha insinuates when he says he never plays with women’s fantasies — he’s always straight with them, but Jun-ha keeps jumping in to play the part of the good guy. Not to actually BE the good guy, but just to act the role.

I’ve rarely come across a drama that didn’t start to lag a bit in the last quarter, so I’m not surprised that we finally hit the rough patch here. I just hope that the drama recovers quickly, because it’s the better dramas that will get back on track quickly after the obligatory angst slowdown.

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83 March 2, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 16

by javabeans

The above isn’t a significant scene in the episode, but it’s memorable for Cho-rok’s line that comes with it: “Unni, I think I’m going to have to marry Tae-kyu oppa!”

This was definitely a better episode than yesterday’s. It still had its faults, and the emotional logic can be perplexing, if not downright nonsensical. But with the focus back on Pal-gang and Kang-ha’s feelings, it could only get better from Episode 15, right? Also, more plot movement on the non-romance front keeps the story going.

SONG OF THE DAY

J.ae (or, as she was formerly known, J) – “널 사랑했을까?” (Did I Love You?) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 16 RECAP

This pic makes me giggle:

Pa-rang admits that he ran away from the hospital on purpose so he would have the excuse to talk to Kang-ha. Insisting that he has something to say, Pa-rang tries to keep Kang-ha from calling his sister. Unfortunately, height is not to his advantage.

Kang-ha calls Pal-gang because he knows she must be panicked, but also because he’d rather avoid a conversation with Pa-rang, as he’s distancing himself from the family. Pa-rang pipes up that he’s hungry, so Kang-ha says that he’ll feed him, then take him home.

As they eat pizza, Kang-ha ignores Jae-young’s phone call, and tries to hurry things along and return home. Pa-rang points out that his sister knows where he is so there’s no rush. Plus, he has something to say, and starts out with the announcement, “I really really respect you!” And then, “How can you marry another woman? What about my sister?”

Kang-ha doesn’t see the correlation between marrying and Pal-gang, but Pa-rang continues with his winding logic — he has a point, but he’s taking his time getting there. To wit, he declares, “I even like the smell of your feet! That’s how much I respect you!” Naturally Kang-ha is confused, but he’s also got to defend the state of his cleanliness: he says that he showers every night before bed, so his feet don’t smell. Pa-rang leans in close and gives him a look: “They do, ajusshi.”

Pa-rang sticks to his declaration that he still likes Kang-ha despite his foot odor, then makes his point:

Pa-rang: “You’re supposed to marry someone you really love. That’s what my mother said. You only live once so you can’t just marry anyone. She said that life is short enough even if you marry someone you love. So please, marry my sister.”
Kang-ha: “Does it seem like I love your sister?”
Pa-rang: “Yes.”
Kang-ha: “Why?”
Pa-rang: “If you ask why… It’s just what I feel, so I can’t answer why.”

Kang-ha has to ask this question, which has been niggling at him for some time now: “Did you guys all go to classes or something? Where did you learn to make a person talk so much?” Pa-rang just bursts into laughter, finding Kang-ha hilarious.

Pal-gang and Jun-ha trudge home. She’s recovering from the scare of almost losing her brother, while Jun-ha wonders whether Pa-rang called Kang-ha on purpose. After all, he knows Pal-gang’s number but didn’t call her.

After being ditched at the bridal shop, Jae-young storms into the gates, glaring at Pal-gang. She’s here because the house is the only place she seems to be able to find Kang-ha, given that he isn’t answering her calls. Jun-ha recalls that she was supposed to have an appointment with So-young (Ah! The Clone has a name!), and asks worriedly if Kang-ha failed to show.

Feeling bad, Pal-gang bows her head and says to Jae-young, “I’m sorry, it’s because of my brother. He got lost, and must have called him.” At that, Jae-young winds up and delivers a mighty slap — omo! This offends Jun-ha, who steps in and demands to know what the heck she’s doing.

Jae-young spews vitriol at Pal-gang: “You sure act naive but you’re actually really manipulative. What the hell do you want? What are you using your little brother to achieve?” Chafing at the word “use,” Jun-ha defends Pal-gang, saying that she had nothing to do with it.

Jae-young asks incredulously why the boy didn’t call his sister instead of Kang-ha: “Do you think he would have thought it up on his own?” She’s insinuating that Pal-gang instructed her brother to play along so she could monopolize Kang-ha’s attention. (This accusation reveals Jae-young’s character more than Pal-gang’s, as if we needed to hate her any more.)

Jun-ha explains that the boy really likes his brother, then sends Pal-gang into the house before continuing this discussion.

As Pal-gang leaves them, he asks, “Is this all you can amount to?” What did Pal-gang do that merited a slap? Jae-young explains the scene at the bridal shop: “Do you understand now why I slapped her?”

Jun-ha: “No. No matter your excuse, I don’t understand.”
Jae-young: “I said I was wearing my engagement dress and came out and he was gone! Do you know what that is like for a woman?”
Jun-ha: “Then why enter into that kind of marriage? Why do you want to marry a man who treats the phone call of a child he lives with as more important than seeing his fiancee in her engagement dress?”
Jae-young: “Why are you doing this? Why you too?”
Jun-ha: “This is the path you chose. My brother was dragged along because of your threat to kill yourself.”

Jun-ha tells her to handle her problems on her own, “Rather than taking out your anger on someone who has nothing to do with this.” Jae-young can’t believe Jun-ha’s taking Pal-gang’s side (what a princess, to expect him to side with her even when she’s resorting to false accusations, emotional blackmail, and actual blackmail). Jun-ha warns her not to treat Pal-gang badly, “or I won’t let it go.”

Heading to Pal-gang’s room, Jun-ha asks hesitantly if her cheek hurts from the slap. He isn’t trying to defend Jae-young, but explains that Kang-ha must have angered her and asks her to understand.

Pal-gang’s words are more bitter than her tone: “I guess I have to. How can a loser like me get upset at being slapped in a love game played by lofty people?” She says that she’s fine; since she’s likely to experience more of this in the future, she may as well get used to it.

Jun-ha feels sorry to hear her put herself down like this, and slowly gathers her in a hug. For once, I feel pretty confident that he’s being sincere rather than calculating. (If he’s been sincere in the past, it wasn’t easy to tell.)

Jun-ha promises, “I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen to you again.” This statement oversteps his bounds, and Pal-gang asks (matter-of-factly, not bitterly), “But who are you to me that you can make sure whether that happens to me or not?”

Jun-ha explains his reaction to seeing her slapped: “I’ve never been this angry before.” That’s when he thought to himself, let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to her again.

I’m pretty sure Pa-rang is deliberately being slow to finish his meal, which drives Kang-ha batty because he just wants to put a period to this episode. Can’t they hurry and head home now? Pal-gang will worry.

Pa-rang points out, “See? You’re worrying about my sister. That means you love her!” Kang-ha doesn’t see how that’s love, so Pa-rang recites his mother’s words that loving is worrying. (Kang-ha says in exasperation, “Why did your mother teach you so many things?”) Pa-rang asks, “Ajusshi. Do you really not love my sister?” Kang-ha sighs, answering indirectly: “I have to marry someone else.” Pa-rang protests, “But my sister loves you.” THAT gets his attention: “How do you know?”

Pa-rang recounts how he had heard his sister telling Nami that the biggest star in the sky was Kang-ha’s (which is the scene pictured in the opening screencap for Episode 13). This is hardly proof, and Kang-ha dismisses it. However, Pa-rang is convinced, especially since his mom used to call the biggest star his dad: “I cried that I wanted to be the biggest star, but my mom said I couldn’t be. She said, ‘That’s Dad’s star. If you feel bad about that, then later on you can find your own biggest star and name it after the person you love.'”

That’s a little more convincing, but Kang-ha can’t dwell on it. He urges Pa-rang to hurry so they can leave. The boy sighs, and you can practically hear him tsk-tsk at the dense lawyer ajusshi who won’t recognize what’s in front of his eyes.

The words stick in Kang-ha’s mind on the drive home, and he gets lost in memories (of Pal-gang’s admission of why she liked him) while his eyes tear up.

When Kang-ha comes home carrying a sleeping Pa-rang, Pal-gang marches up to scold her brother. She’s too furious to be reasoned with at the moment, and when Kang-ha defends Pa-rang, she retorts that he’s her brother, and that she has to punish him when he deserves punishing.

Pa-rang hides behind Kang-ha, which is when Jun-ha steps in and takes the boy aside. Explaining that his sister is upset, he takes him to his room while she cools down.

All the while, Jae-young scowls. (So what else is new?)

She follows Kang-ha upstairs, fuming. Since she always thinks everything is about her, she asks if his intention is to injure her pride so she’ll give up. Kang-ha says he wasn’t doing that — what was he supposed to do when he got a call from a kid saying he was lost?

Jae-young would have preferred he not leap to the rescue — why he couldn’t consider that he was being played by a girl who acts silly but is actually sneaky. (Good lord! Not all women are you, lady!)

Kang-ha’s feeling the same frustration we all are, and he snarls, “Do you know why I don’t want to marry you? Because the thought of having to live forever with someone who talks like you is horrifying.”

Jae-young lashes out to slap him, but he blocks her arm (with one hand in his pocket! How cool is he?).

Kang-ha: “You think you’re smart, but you’re not. You should know not to raise a hand to the man who says he finds the idea of living with you horrible. What you should be doing right now is trying to find a way to make me think of you as less horrible! If you leave now, we can avoid making it to the worst moment. What’ll you do? Want to stay?”

In his room, Jun-ha urges Pa-rang to stop crying, lest he tire himself out. I love Pa-rang’s response — as he sniffles, he says, “It’s okay. Mr. Lawyer ajusshi bought me pizza so I won’t get tired.”

Jun-ha wonders why Pa-rang likes his brother so much, since Kang-ha’s curt and doesn’t really talk well with anyone. Pa-rang says, “He talks well with me. And even if he doesn’t talk with me, he has to marry my sister.” Jun-ha asks, “Why?” Pa-rang: “Because he’s the one that my sister loves.”

Like Kang-ha earlier, Jun-ha isn’t swayed by the boy’s belief and calls it a misunderstanding on Pa-rang’s part, even when he hears about the biggest star comment. After all, that was probably a long time ago, and stars change — a bigger star could emerge and the old one could fade. Yet when Pa-rang clarifies that Pal-gang made her star comment after moving into the house, Jun-ha pays more attention.

Kang-ha leaves the house with Jun-ha for a talk, so the family eats dinner alone for once. The kids wonder if Jae-young will move in after Kang-ha marries her, which is a concern because they don’t like her. She’s cold and mean. Pa-rang announces that he had asked Kang-ha not to marry the lady, but the kids don’t have any faith that his request was effective. Pal-gang tells them that it won’t matter anyhow, since they’ll move out before the wedding.

Tae-kyu rushes in bearing flowers, vowing to continue giving them to her until she accepts his feelings. Pal-gang is so tired of dealing with him that she sighs, unable to keep the irritation out of her voice as she tells him to cut it out: “I won’t ever see you as a man, so don’t do stuff like this, I beg you!”

Finally, with the words spoken so plainly, Tae-kyu has to accept her rejection as final. (Not that Pal-gang ever gave him hope to begin with.) He sobs, and even Cho-rok advises him to give up — she feels bad, but he has no choice, really.

Ju-hwang urges him to think positively. Marrying Pal-gang would come with a lot of issues, and he’d have to be saddled with five siblings. Tae-kyu cries that he doesn’t care about that — he likes them all. Thankful for her continued support, he half-jokes that it’s too bad Cho-rok isn’t ten years older!

It’s cute how Cho-rok sighs resignedly to her sister, “Unni, I think I’m going to have to marry Tae-kyu oppa.” Pal-gang is so sick of dealing with this situation that she doesn’t even have words for that, and just declares that they really need to move out.

When Pal-gang sneaks Grandpa Jung in that night, Tae-kyu grabs his hands while sobbing that he’d wanted to take care of him as his own grandfather. “But I’ll give up now. My love doesn’t want me, so what can I do?”

Grandpa asks if Pal-gang likes anyone, pleased at her negative reply. He has a man in mind for her, whom he wants to introduce to her. Pal-gang, however, declines the offer — she’s just going to concentrate on raising the kids.

At the bar, the brothers drink (Kang-ha more than Jun-ha). Seeing his brother’s turmoil, Jun-ha tells Kang-ha not to go through with the wedding — Jae-young is just threatening to kill herself, but she doesn’t mean it. She has too much pride to actually resort to it.

Kang-ha intends to move out of the house, either to Jae-young’s house or elsewhere — “So extend Jin Pal-gang’s contract. And let her continue to stay there.” He figures that without him around, the home atmosphere will be more comfortable, plus Tae-kyu will graduate next year and return to the States (I guess he was a student all this while?). So, Pal-gang’s workload will lighten as well.

Jun-ha: “Are you moving out for her?”
Kang-ha: “No, it’s for you. So just answer me one thing. Are you for real? This is really not a game, is it? Answer me.”
Jun-ha: “No, I mean it.”

Kang-ha is in a drunken, thoughtful mood on the drive home. He muses that Jun-ha is a good guy, and that he was thankful that Jun-ha put up with him even when he treated him meanly.

Jun-ha gives Kang-ha the benefit of the doubt: “That wasn’t because of you. It’s because our mom made things like that. You didn’t have your own bathroom because you wanted it. She was the one who told me that the second-floor bathroom was for you, so I shouldn’t use it.”

Kang-ha returns, “What I’m most sorry for is taking too much from you. It was all yours. I took too much.”

Without the element of competition between them, I’m glad to see the brotherly affection coming out again, and this scene reminds us that these two do care about each other. They’re both generous with each other, as Kang-ha blames himself for being unfair, while Jun-ha waves this aside.

Now we switch the focus to the other storyline: Jang-soo keeps following the hired thug Kim Do-shik, but the latter catches on to the fact that he’s being followed. Jang-soo falls asleep while on his nightly stakeout and lets Kim slip by unnoticed.

Do-shik is satisfied that he got away cleanly, but Min-kyung is displeased that people were following him in the first place — it means they’re not safe. They discuss Do-shik’s current assignment in vague terms, but the gist is this: she has hired him to kill somebody and leave no trace. She warns him not to drink — alcohol is always the problem with him.

Meanwhile, Jang-soo reports back to the others. He’s sure that Do-shik is a pro with a financial backer. (He’d almost gone to jail for a violent assault, but came up with 300 million won and settled the matter with mere probation.) The conversation is interrupted by Jun-ha, who’s curious to know what has them all riveted. Eun-mal explains that there’s a conspiracy behind Pal-gang’s parents’ deaths.

This, naturally, raises his curiosity. He takes Pal-gang aside, who admits she almost doesn’t want to know the truth about her parents’ deaths. If the truth is confirmed, she won’t be able to forgive that man, and would be consumed with a desire for revenge. She wishes that the accident were a plain car crash.

Jun-ha comforts her, but it’s got to be telling that his main reaction is to be pleased that Pal-gang is confiding in him — it’s always about HIM, isn’t it? He asks her to keep confiding in him in the future, because “I’m sure I can be a good listener.”

On the other side of the glass, Pal-gang’s supervisor glimpses the two talking together, looking friendly — and a moment later, so does Kang-ha. When he turns around, Kang-ha sees that Jae-young is standing behind him, also witnessing the exchange.

Angry, Jae-young confronts Jun-ha in his office: “Why are you doing this?” She knows that he’s nice to everyone, but shouldn’t he know when to cut it out? Jun-ha suggests that maybe he doesn’t want to, which makes her narrow her eyes: “Do you have feelings for her?” She’d rather he marry his bridal-shop ex, because “I can understand if she’s at least that level.” He’s too good for Pal-gang.

Jun-ha’s offended at Jae-young’s comments, warning her that it’s not her place to tell him who to date. Jae-young pleads “as a friend” asking a favor: “I hate her, so much it drives me crazy! So kick her out.”

Jun-ha points out that she’s being ridiculous. If she were upset about her own fiance being in love with Pal-gang, he would understand. But for her to be upset about Jun-ha is absurd. Jae-young answers, “Kang-ha oppa is the man I love, but you’re the friend I don’t want to lose.”

Jun-ha decides, “Then we’ll have to stop being friends.” He has no need for a friend who acts this way.

Thanks be for a lighthearted scene to break up the heavy mood. The kids take food to a moping Tae-kyu, who refuses to eat. Hilariously, he does eye the food hungrily, but he’s committed to this heartbroken act and turns away from the food — a guy who has been dumped is supposed to waste away for a month.

The kids point out that there’s no use, since it’s all over. But Tae-kyu protests — he can’t be the bad guy who bounces back quickly!

Pal-gang pops out to the grocery store for some dinner ingredients, and a brief conversation about anchovies jogs an old memory. She remembers Jung-ae ajumma, the woman Grandpa Jung is looking for, the last time she had dropped by looking for her mother. She had brought a box of anchovies and told Pal-gang where to find her.

Spurred by this memory, Pal-gang immediately heads to the station to catch the next bus to Donghae, a city on the east coast (a few hours from Seoul). She’s in such a rush that she forgets she has come with Nam, but tries to make do as best she can.

The Jung family holds a memorial service for the deceased elder son, where In-gu sobs in grief. Min-kyung thinks he’s just putting on a show for his father, but he cries that he genuinely loved his brother — he would have died for him if he could.

This seems to stir some (tiny) bit of humanity in Min-kyung, who immediately gets on the phone to talk to Do-shik. It becomes clear that the person he is hired to kill must be Jung-ae, and now she leaves a message on his voicemail to NOT act — she’s heading down to meet him, so wait until she gets there. Do NOT do a thing!

Pal-gang spends the night in a rented room with Nami, then heads out early the next morning to the Donghae market to look for Jung-ae’s stall. One of the ajummas recognizes the name, and directs Pal-gang to Jung-ae’s home.

As Jung-ae lives a fair distance away from the city, Pal-gang takes the cold hike up the mountainside. Worried about Nami, she takes off her coat to shield the baby, and struggles along the snowy path.

However, she’s slower than Do-shik, who gets there first. Min-kyung was been able to catch him before he carried out the hit, to her relief. Now Min-kyung changes the plan from murder to bribery: Do-shik comes to the house and offers Jung-ae and her son a bag full of money to leave without a trace.

Do-shik reports his successful exchange to Min-kyung, assuring her that he warned the two to leave immediately and never return, under threat of death. He’ll take them to Incheon and send them to China with fake passports.

Back in Seoul, Kang-ha also makes a break in his case, having tracked the woman to Donghae as well. He reports to Chairman Jung, who wants to accompany Kang-ha, and the two drive down immediately. As Kang-ha pulls into the city, he catches a glimpse of Min-kyung driving away. The chairman doesn’t see her, but Kang-ha definitely does.

Pal-gang has been unable to find the house, and Nami is now crying in earnest, so she rushes to a health clinic and begs for help. The doctor says that the baby’s fever is on the wane, but scolds her for wandering the mountainside in the snow.

In a hurry but worried for Nam, Pal-gang asks the doctor if he can watch the baby briefly, and heads back to find Jung-ae’s house.

Unfortunately, she’s too late. An elderly woman informs Pal-gang that Jung-ae and her son have gone, and seemed in a great hurry to leave. It doesn’t seems like they’re going to return anytime soon, either.

Dejected, Pal-gang turns to go — just as Kang-ha and Chairman Jung walk toward her, having just arrived.

Both parties are startled to see each other, especially Pal-gang, who is shocked to see these men together.

Grandpa Jung calls out Pal-gang’s name, which is a surprise to Kang-ha, who asks in return, “How do you know Pal-gang, Chairman?”

Pal-gang is astonished: “Ch-chairman?”

 
COMMENTS

Yay, the mystery moves forward. I still think that this Evil Murderess Min-kyung storyline makes for an awkward tonal shift between the car crash mystery and Pal-gang’s growth storyline, and it feels silly to use words like “hit man” or “assassin” in the same episode where a little boy plays matchmaker between two adults. And when another woman tosses around words like suicide as though it’s nothing special, just another day in the life of a needy stalker-girlfriend.

However, if we have to have it, at least I prefer this forward movement to the emotional whiplash of yesterday’s episode. And now that Grandpa’s identity is out, we’re on our way to wrapping up this storyline, right?

A scene I particularly appreciated was the one between the brothers, which I wish we’d seen more of early on. (The last time the brothers had moments untainted by this romantic rivalry for Pal-gang, we were still early enough in the drama that we didn’t love Kang-ha yet, nor did we know him very well.) And I like that it seems the source of their angst isn’t so much a brotherly rivalry, but stems from their mother’s unequal treatment of her two sons.

I know this plot seems weak for some, where Kang-ha’s big secret is that Jun-ha’s his half-brother, and I halfway agree with it. I wish the conflict were stronger. But I am recalling that I do know an instance in real life where a similar situation occurred to a Korean friend’s family, and when the truth came out, heads did roll. So I’m putting up with this storyline.

I still don’t think we have the full picture, but it’s starting to seem like both brothers have a sort of inferiority complex regarding the other. Kang-ha’s is because he comes from a hateful mother and an unloving father, and never knew unconditional love. (Is that why he was able to “take” things away from Jun-ha?) I get the sense that his stepmother was very kind to him, but he still felt the invisible barrier of her being a stepmother, and likewise, she treated him differently. Maybe she was so concerned that Kang-ha wouldn’t feel loved that she took special pains to try to compensate, but because Jun-ha didn’t know the reason for it, he grew up feeling neglected. (That’s my speculation for now.)

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67 March 8, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 17

by javabeans

I liked this episode — it was a little mellower than the previous ones. Given the prominence of Jae-young’s dramatics in those prior episodes, I consider this a good thing. (Also: hardly any Jae-young today!) As we head toward the drama’s finish, we’re dealing less with the crazy bitchy rival lady and getting back to some of the initial conflicts, and I welcome this shift.

SONG OF THE DAY

Urban Zakapa – “떠나는 사람, 남겨진 사람” (The one leaving, the one left behind) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 17 RECAP

Pal-gang is stunned to learn that the raggedy grandpa she has known all these years is in fact the chairman of JK. The chairman is very disappointed to hear that Jung-ae and her son abruptly moved last night, as though fleeing something.

The chairman assures Pal-gang that he’ll still give her the money he had promised in exchange for tracking down his daughter-in-law. However, this gesture angers Pal-gang, who feels hurt at his lie. Does he think she went through all this just for the money? She did it because she’d felt sorry for him, and wanted to do everything she could to help.

The chairman hurriedly says he understands, but she cries, “What do you know? Were you afraid that I’d ask you to help me out if I found out you were the chairman of JK? Did you lie to me because you thought I’d beg you to help me out since we had no place to go?” And here she was, thinking that after she set her family up in their own home, she would live together with Grandpa and his daughter-in-law. But no, she went through all this trouble and even got Nam sick, only to realize he’d been lying to her: “Forget it. Now I’m truly sick of rich people.” She shifts her glare to Kang-ha briefly before walking away.

As Grandpa and Kang-ha wait for Pal-gang outside the clinic (where she had left Nam), Grandpa explains that he understands why Pal-gang would be angry with him. He should have told her the truth once they’d reconnected, so it’s natural that she feels betrayed.

She emerges with Nam and registers the two men waiting for her, but ignores Kang-ha’s suggestion that they ride in the car back to Seoul together, giving her some time to overcome the misunderstanding. She’s not going to let this lie slide as a mere misunderstanding, and coolly tells the chairman that although they could have lived together back when he was the shabby Grandpa, that’s no longer possible.

Pal-gang walks along to the bus station, wondering bitterly, “Why am I so stupid, Nam?” All the while, Kang-ha’s car drives slowly behind them, both men watching in concern.

Chairman Jung reminds Kang-ha of the dream he had wanted to pursue Jin Se-yoon, and explains that Pal-gang and her siblings are the man’s children. He values them like his own grandchildren, and tells Kang-ha they must find Jung-ae and her son.

When Pal-gang arrives home, she’s in a grim mood. Calling her siblings together, she orders them to pack their things. The siblings are bewildered at this sudden decision, but Pal-gang is in no mood for complicated explanations and insists that they pack immediately. She’ll figure out where they’ll go.

The kids don’t want to leave, but they recognize that she’s serious and grudgingly comply. Just as they’re about to leave, Kang-ha comes home. In a flat voice, she gives him a perfunctory thank-you and goodbye. Pa-rang clings to Kang-ha, not wanting to leave, and the other kids are confused at the sudden change in their sister. When Kang-ha asks where she’s intending to go, she tells him to mind his own business.

Frustrated that Pal-gang is letting her hurt propel her into a hasty decision, Kang-ha pulls Pal-gang aside to talk to her one-on-one. Does she have to go this far? Didn’t she consider that maybe the chairman had a reason for his lie? Furthermore, she’s got kids with her — it’s more important to think rationally than to let her emotions drive her actions.

For the first time, Pal-gang drops the formal address and talks to Kang-ha in familiar speech:

Pal-gang: “Because of you, my parents died. Thinking you were my prince on a white horse, thinking you would turn Useless Miss Jin into a princess, I wanted to look good to you and to come here as your housekeeper. Even though Nam was sick, I wanted to look just a little prettier to you so I went to get a perm. Because I wasn’t home, my parents worried about him and hurried to come home. It would have been better if you told me from the start that you were marrying Jung Jae-young. Then I wouldn’t have dreamed stupid dreams and would have come to my senses. I’m so sick of this, I can’t live in this house anymore. If I live here, thinking of how pathetic I was for dreaming those stupid dreams, I won’t want to keep living!”

What can Kang-ha say to that? There’s nothing he can do to rid Pal-gang of her guilt, so he has to let her go, albeit reluctantly. After she leaves with crying kids in tow, Kang-ha growls to himself, “Don’t grab onto her when you can’t do anything for her, Won Kang-ha. Just let her go.” He bangs his fist angrily on the desk, repeating, “Just let her GO!”

Jun-ha comes home to an empty house and asks his brother what happened. In a resigned tone, Kang-ha says, “They all left.” Jun-ha doesn’t understand why, but Kang-ha continues dully, “She said she was sick of living here, so she left.”

Jun-ha demands an explanation. Kang-ha says in a hard voice, “Figure things out yourself now. Finding them is up to you, and figuring out what to do after you find them is also up to you.” Jun-ha asks what pushed Pal-gang to leave, and Kang-ha returns, “Ask her yourself when you find her.”

Jun-ha asks if her reaction was in reaction to Kang-ha’s marriage announcement — perhaps she realized she wasn’t over him and found it painful to stay. But Kang-ha says no, that’s not it. However, he’s not going to entangle himself: “I’ve got no right to interfere, so you figure it out yourself!”

Thankfully, Pal-gang can take the kids to Eun-mal’s place, small though it is. (She couldn’t do this at the outset because Eun-mal moved into this rooftop room recently.) Eun-mal worries that the kids will find it stifling to live in such cramped quarters after they have gotten used to the nice big house. She’s right, and the kids sulk, but Pal-gang answers that they’ll be fine.

Jin-ju can’t stand to see the kids in such glum spirits eating their meager dinner of rice and soup, and goes with Pal-gang to the store to buy them side dishes. Pal-gang protests — even though it’s a thoughtful gesture, her family has to forget all about living in a nice house with big rooms, “Because living will be tough from now on.”

Jin-ju reads between the lines, sensing there’s more to Pal-gang’s reaction. She wonders, is Pal-gang still in love with Kang-ha? Did she leave because it hurt to live in the same house? Jin-ju supposes that after five years of liking someone, it’s natural that she would develop feelings again.

Pal-gang insists it’s not it, but Jin-ju isn’t convinced and prods Pal-gang to confess her feelings to Kang-ha. The reason she’s struggling now is because she can’t confess her feelings and it’s bottled up inside. Once more, Pal-gang says, “I don’t have any lingering feelings for him, not at all.” Jin-ju doesn’t believe her, but lets it drop.

Tae-kyu is frantic once he discovers that the family is gone. He pesters Jun-ha for answers, but Jun-ha is still reeling from the news himself and barely pays any attention to Tae-kyu’s distress. Misguided again, Tae-kyu blames himself for driving Pal-gang away — after rejecting him, she must have seen him suffering and felt that his love was too much of a burden. (Sigh. It must be nice living in Tae-kyu’s world where everything is about him! Still, at least he’s the nicest egomanic around.)

That evening, Kang-ha gets a call from the chairman, who asks hopefully whether things worked out with Pal-gang. He wants to come over right away, but Kang-ha has to explain that Pal-gang left the house with her siblings. Stunned, the chairman collapses again and is taken to the hospital.

That night, Eun-mal awakens to the sound of Pal-gang moaning softly in pain. She’s feeling the onset of an illness, but insists that she took medicine and will be fine in the morning. Eun-mal sighs that Pal-gang was probably due for an illness, given all she’s been through.

Pal-gang starts to cry as she remembers her last confrontation with Kang-ha, and has to struggle to keep her sobs quiet. Meanwhile, Kang-ha drinks alone in his room, thinking of her.

At the JK office, Pal-gang’s friends are shocked to hear that Pal-gang has quit her job. We know that it’s because she’s cutting ties with the chairman, but they don’t understand why she has given up on her determination to be a good FC.

Pal-gang begs for work at a restaurant, which is tough because she has two children to look after (the other kids, at least, can go to school). She promises that it won’t be a problem because Pa-rang can watch after the baby, and the owner is persuaded to let Pal-gang start working.

Pa-rang sits in a side room quietly with Nam, and is struck with a brilliant idea. He fishes for his sister’s phone and calls Kang-ha — who, rather cutely, is flummoxed to see Pal-gang on his caller ID and has to calm himself before answering. He’s a little disappointed when he hears that it’s Pa-rang, who has called to tell Kang-ha where they’re living so he can come by.

But that night, it’s Jun-ha who drops by, to the excitement of the girls. He waits there while Pal-gang walks home with Pa-rang, and she praises her brother for being so well-behaved all day. Single-minded Pa-rang says he misses Kang-ha, so Pal-gang urges him to forget all about him: “Just grit your teeth and say, ‘I won’t think of him.'” Pa-rang wonders, “What if I still think of him?” Pal-gang answers, “Then think of something else. No, sing that song.” So Pa-rang starts singing (LOL!):

Pa-rang (singing): “The goblin’s underwear is dirty
He flips it inside out
He hasn’t washed it in 2,000 years
It smells and has holes”

Once home, Jun-ha takes Pal-gang aside for a talk, worried and still a bit confused. She thanks Jun-ha for all the help he has given her, but says it in a flat, detached tone. He urges her to come back home, to which she replies firmly, “I won’t go.”

Thinking this is because she doesn’t want to be around Kang-ha, Jun-ha assures her that his brother will marry and move out. But Pal-gang answers, “What does that have to do with me, whether he marries or lives in that house?” She gets up to go back inside, cutting this conversation short. Jun-ha says, “Because that’s why you left.” After a brief pause, she answers, “That’s not it.”

Jun-ha accepts that she doesn’t want to return tonight, but promises to return tomorrow and the day after, until she changes her mind.

That night, Pal-gang has trouble sleeping and steps outside while the others are in bed. Stirring, Ju-hwang follows her outside, where he tells her that Mom and Dad didn’t know that Nam was sick. He must have heard her argument with Kang-ha, because he explains that on the day their parents died, when Pal-gang had ditched the kids just as Nami was starting to come down with a cold, Ju-hwang hadn’t told on her. Therefore, they weren’t rushing home to check on the baby when they got into their accident: “So don’t think it was your fault.”

Ju-hwang leaves his sister to her thoughts, and this revelation brings Pal-gang to tears.

The chairman asks Kang-ha to bring Pal-gang so he can beg for her forgiveness, which is why Kang-ha appears at the restaurant as she is working (and doing a pretty good job, to the owner’s satisfaction).

Pa-rang had given Kang-ha the directions, and when Pal-gang starts to scold her brother, he ducks behind Kang-ha. It’s cute how Kang-ha helps by pushing the boy behind himself, as though anticipating her reaction. He asks her not to be angry with Pa-rang, because he was the one who had asked for the information.

Despite Pal-gang’s efforts to be distant and cool, she’s not immune to the news that the chairman collapsed and is looking for her. She therefore accompanies Kang-ha to the hospital, where he steps aside to let her speak with the chairman alone.

Kang-ha sits with Nam and Pa-rang outside where the latter, still thinking about his sister’s advice, asks Kang-ha, “That doesn’t make sense, right? Saying not to think of something that you keep thinking about.” Isn’t it strange that his sister can do that?

Kang-ha is in the same boat, and answers, “Pa-rang, I’m trying to do that too. There’s something I keep thinking about a lot, but I’m trying not to think about it.” He admits that he’s been drinking a lot lately in order to keep his mind off it, “But you know, like you said, it doesn’t make sense trying not to think about something you keep thinking about. That’s really impossible. But sometimes you have no choice.”

Pa-rang doesn’t really understand all this grown-up rhetorical talk, and excuses himself to go to the bathroom, so Kang-ha continues talking to Nam:

Kang-ha: “Maybe… yes, it might even be that I love your sister. It’s the first time with such a strange woman as your sister. But you know, I love my brother as much as your sister. I’ve given Jun-ha ajusshi a lot of pain, so I couldn’t hurt him even more. That’s why I can’t tell your sister that I love her.”

Chairman Jung explains the entire situation to Pal-gang, about his dream of building a hospital with her father. After her father died and he saw Pal-gang’s impressive transformation, and saw how she reminded him of her father, he’d been intending to transfer that dream to Pal-gang. That’s why he hadn’t told her the truth, because he wanted to see how things turned out: “Will you forgive this mean grandpa for thinking of himself too much?” He offers to get on his knees to beg her forgiveness.

Her anger mollified, Pal-gang recovers a bit of her former tone, scolding him about overreacting in his condition. He takes this as a positive sign: “Then are you forgiving me?” Not ready to go that far yet, she answers, “I just said not to overreact. When did I say I’d forgive you?” But their old dynamic is back.

The chairman requests to see Kang-ha, so she steps out to call him in — and finds Pa-rang regaling everyone with a rendition of the goblin underwear song. Pa-rang explains, “Ajusshi says he has something he’s trying not to think about too, so I’m teaching him this song.”

The chairman’s reason for calling Kang-ha is to ask him to find a new home for Pal-gang. She declines his offer, but this time it’s not out of pride; she’s thankful for the thought, but doesn’t want her problems to be automatically solved like this — it’ll make her return to being Useless Miss Jin. “That’s like winning the lotto.” Most of us would probably consider that a good thing, but it’s not for Pal-gang, who has only recently discovered what it’s like to take care of herself.

Grandpa suggests that Pal-gang go back to school since she never went to university, but she balks at that suggestion. She was never a good student, so that isn’t really a viable option. Kang-ha butts in to say that studying is something you can cultivate with a little effort, and this spawns a cute bickering exchange (which Grandpa watches with amusement):

Pal-gang: “Are you bragging that you were a good student?”
Kang-ha: “When did I brag that I was a good student?”
Pal-gang: “A studious person who became a lawyer may not know that there’s another world out there, one where some things are impossible even if you try.”
Kang-ha: “Is that something to brag about?”
Pal-gang: “Why do you and Grandpa keep saying I’m bragging?”
Kang-ha: “You’re chattering on about not being a good student like you’re proud of it!”

This circular argument is going nowhere, so Pal-gang makes a concession with Grandpa. School is out of the question for her, so she’ll go back to the company and work at being a great FC.

Things become awkward (as they always do) with the appearance of the Jung family. In-gu and Jae-young, who recognize Pal-gang, are particularly surprised to see her here, talking to Grandpa. Min-kyung manages to control her expression, but it’s clear that she’s alarmed when Grandpa introduces Pal-gang to his family as Jin Se-yoon’s daughter, adding that “she’s like a real grandchild to me.”

Kang-ha leads Pal-gang away to accompany her home. Jae-young starts to follow, but her mother holds her back, reminding her that this is Jin Se-yoon’s daughter, whom Kang-ha found at the chairman’s request. She sees her as a distinct threat to their family — Grandpa had introduced her as practically his own granddaughter, which suggests that he’s going to pass along to her what he was intending to pass to her father.

This fear is confirmed by the chairman himself, who says he wants to make Pal-gang an heir. In-gu is shocked, because she’s a complete stranger to the family.

Jun-ha loiters outside Eun-mal’s home that evening, ready to persuade her to come back home again, and therefore sees her arriving home with Kang-ha and Pa-rang. This is not a happy sight for him.

After explaining that the Jin family is acquainted with the chairman, Kang-ha leaves the group and walks off alone, and Pal-gang turns to watch his departure. At Jun-ha’s insistence, she drops the kids off inside, then rejoins him outside to talk.

At his repeated request for her to move back, Pal-gang answers that she’s more comfortable living here.

Jun-ha tells her earnestly, “For the first time in my life, I want to steal something from my brother. I’ve never once felt that, and so I always hid my feelings. But for the first time, even if my brother were to say he loves you, I don’t want to concede to him this time.”

Pal-gang isn’t interested in having this conversation and starts to head back inside, but Jun-ha holds her back. He pleads, “Just as I’ve gotten rid of that tedious one-sided love and started over, I’m begging you to do the same.”

His suggestion unleashes the dam, and tears fill her eyes and start to spill over. Pal-gang had been trying to insist all episode long that she doesn’t feel anything for Kang-ha, but now she bursts out:

Pal-gang: “How can I? I remember everything. On days he has trials, he stands in front of the elevator and lets it go by twice. When he eats, he always drinks water first. When he passed papers in the classroom, he always started from the left. When he’s frustrated, he speaks with his hands in his pockets. I remember all of those things — how do I forget it all?”

 
COMMENTS

I like that the conflict shifts in this episode, away from Jae-young’s crazed jealousy to the issue of Pal-gang, her parents, and the chairman’s inheritance. The jealousy issue was wearing itself pretty thin, so I liked the change in tone in this episode. It was a little more thoughtful, and also accounts for milder confrontations; those scenes were more emotional than in recent episodes, and less hysterical. For instance, the last scene was actually quite nice even though Shin Dong-wook has been pushing Jun-ha past credible levels of angst in previous episodes. But today, he dialed it down and the result is SO much better. Same with the confrontations between Kang-ha and Pal-gang.

I’m also glad that Pal-gang’s anger toward the chairman was given its moment to breathe, and then resolved by the episode’s end. In a lot of other dramas, this conflict would have been stretched for episodes, but this show tends to pace itself pretty quickly, which I welcome. It’s not a great big grand betrayal, so after Pal-gang has her initial reaction, we see her return to her usual self. She’s not one to hold grudges anyway, so I love that they resume their bickering dynamic right away.

Speaking of bickering, she and Kang-ha are at their best when they’re arguing about nonsensical things, so the hospital scene was a fun moment to lighten the mood before we got back to the angst.

And finally! Dual confessions of loooove!

(Of course, neither confession is made to the actual object of his/her affections, but hey, I’ll take it where I can get it.)

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103 March 9, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 18

by javabeans

This episode shares a similar tone to yesterday’s, which means it was a little mellower, in a positive way. Also, just when I was wondering at the logic of certain actions (which seemed like they were stretching a bit thin), we got a more thoughtful explanation for them. It was a nice way of fleshing out the conflict.

SONG OF THE DAY

Loveholics – “몰라야 할 말” (Words you shouldn’t know) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 18 RECAP

Pal-gang explains that she can’t accept Jun-ha when she still “remembers” everything about (read: loves) Kang-ha: “No matter how I try, I can’t help it.”

Using that logic, Jun-ha says, “It may be that I didn’t really love Jae-young. From some point on, I stopped being able to remember anything about her.”

Their mood lightens over dinner, as Jun-ha opens up about what it was like growing up with his father, whom he describes as “a very cold man.” Jun-ha had always been afraid of him, but Kang-ha hadn’t, and constantly fought with him. Their daily battles made it difficult on the others and their mother cried a lot, so although Jun-ha would have preferred to stay away, he went home for her sake because she’d be lonely otherwise. “I think that’s why I fell for Jae-young. No matter what, she didn’t cry. It was a curious thing to meet a woman who never cried, and so I liked her.”

And yet, their mother always doted on Kang-ha. Now we see the flashback from a previous episode, only this time, young Jun-ha is portrayed by a younger boy, giving the scene a new spin.

Using Shin Dong-wook in the first flashback must have been a conscious decision to misdirect us into thinking this was a romantic rivalry, but now we see that this scene is really about a boy feeling less loved by his mother. She would always wait for Kang-ha because he frequently came home late, and afterward the fights would break out with their overbearing Dad.

This image of Kang-ha goes counter to Pal-gang’s expectation, who would have thought he was a model student. Jun-ha explains that he changed after their father died, “like someone returning from a harsh battlefield.”

Jun-ha feels better having gotten this off his chest, and says (by way of thanking her for listening), “You should have come along earlier. Then I would have spent a lot less time feeling frustrated. But it’s much better than not meeting you at all, so I’ll forgive you for showing up now.”

When Jun-ha returns home, he comes upon Kang-ha drinking alone at his desk again, and tells him to reconsider his marriage with Jae-young: “You don’t love her. You love someone else.” Kang-ha doesn’t respond.

Jun-ha: “I don’t understand why you think you can’t be with Pal-gang.”
Kang-ha: “Because I’m a snob.”
Jun-ha: “Don’t make those excuses. What’s the real reason?”
Kang-ha: “That’s the reason.”
Jun-ha: “Is it because of me? If it is, don’t worry. I’m used to stepping aside.”
Kang-ha: “Go to bed.”
Jun-ha: “Pal-gang knows so much about you. She even knows all your habits that you’re not even aware of.”

Kang-ha’s face twists at that; he tries to contain his reaction (thankfully for him, his back is to his brother) and hardens his voice.

Kang-ha: “Stop saying useless things and go to sleep.”
Jun-ha: “I begged her to look at me. But she says she can’t do it. That’s how much she feels for you—”
Kang-ha: “Please just go to bed!”
Jun-ha: “I’m giving you a chance. This is your last chance, so don’t let it go.”
Kang-ha: “I don’t need chances like that.”
Jun-ha: “Then from now on, the person who’ll be by her side is me. I’ll ask this favor — don’t make her feelings waver anymore.”

Chairman Jung tells Kang-ha he’s going to put Pal-gang into his will, giving her equal standing to Jae-young as regards his inheritance. Kang-ha will take care of the will.

The chairman takes this opportunity to ask Kang-ha about Pal-gang, having witnessed their bickering scene yesterday — the chairman has never seen Kang-ha being so talkative, or acting like that. “Did Pal-gang make you like that? I’m curious to know if you have feelings for her.”

Kang-ha looks surprised, not expecting to have been found out like this, but sticks to his familiar line: “I’m going to marry Jae-young.” This does not compute with the chairman, who advises him to think carefully, because entering a marriage without love can bring them both unhappiness.

Pal-gang is welcomed back to work by her friends, but Jae-young interrupts to call her in for a talk. Eyeing Pal-gang with suspicion, Jae-young insinuates that Pal-gang has pulled a fast one in order to win over her grandfather. The story doesn’t make sense to Jae-young, no doubt because she’s used to being sneaky and underhanded, and she scoffs at the idea that Pal-gang’s father was acquainted with the chairman without Pal-gang ever finding out he wasn’t simply the Raggedy Grandpa.

Pal-gang doesn’t feel the need to defend herself, saying that even if Jae-young doesn’t believe her, it’s the truth. Jae-young doesn’t buy it, and presses, “What is it you really want?” Isn’t being honest about her intentions the least that Pal-gang can do? After all, Jae-young’s the JK heiress and she deserves to know, considering Pal-gang will now have a stake in the company.

This is news to Pal-gang, but Jae-young sneers, “Are you really going to pretend to be so naive? … You’ve become Grandfather’s heir and you’re saying you don’t understand what I’m saying?!”

Ignoring Jae-young, Pal-gang quickly excuses herself, intent on finding out what’s going on.

Jun-ha comes upon Jae-young just as Pal-gang leaves, and tells Jae-young not to bother her — she’s got enough to deal with already. Thinking to preserve her inheritance, Jae-young suggests suddenly, “You marry her.”

She presents this idea to her parents, believing that if Pal-gang is safely married off to Jun-ha, that will settle the inheritance conflict. (This is logic that doesn’t quite jibe with me, but I suppose it means that Jun-ha is friendly with the Jungs, and will keep his wife in line. Therefore, the Jungs will be safer keeping their enemy near rather than being at the mercy of Pal-gang’s independence.)

Pal-gang bursts into the chairman’s office and confronts him about this inheritance business. What does he mean by this? She doesn’t want it.

The chairman explains that she’s like his own grandchild, so it’s not so strange to leave his inheritance to her. Therefore it’s not the same thing as winning the lotto. Pal-gang responds, “To me it is. You’re doing this because of your relationship with my parents. I haven’t earned it with my own efforts. Why should I accept?”

He doesn’t see what the problem is — she can use this money to raise her family comfortably. It does seem that Pal-gang’s resistance and stubborn pride are veering into foolish excess, until she bursts out, “It’s because I’m afraid because I don’t know what I’d do with that money!”

Ah, now it becomes clear. She reminds him of all the stupid things she used to do, like raiding a sibling’s piggy bank to do her hair or going into credit card debt for a nice bag: “I can’t trust myself. I couldn’t tell anyone back then, but I didn’t like myself either. I used to wonder at night if I shouldn’t live like that, and it gave me headaches. But I don’t feel that now. I don’t have money or my own place to live, but my mind is easy.”

In fact, she’s so determined to not take his handout that she urges him to put it into writing that he will NOT make her his heir. He indulges her and calls Kang-ha to the office.

The appearance of Kang-ha surprises Pal-gang, and this time it’s Kang-ha who’s left looking on in bemusement as Pal-gang bickers with Grandpa. Why is Kang-ha here when the will doesn’t concern him? Grandpa explains that Kang-ha drew up his will, and she returns, “Don’t you know how to write, Grandpa?”

The chairman says that a man as successful as he is must have other people do things like this to look cool. She retorts, “That must be nice.” He replies, “It is. You can succeed yourself, then tell Kang-ha to write your will.”

Grandpa instructs Kang-ha to take out the clause in his will that involves Pal-gang. He sniffs, “I’m not going to waste my money on someone who insists she doesn’t want it.” This makes Pal-gang happy, so he dismisses her.

After she leaves, Grandpa chuckles at her stubbornness. But contrary to his prior statement, he tells Kang-ha that they’ll be drawing up a new will and leaving Pal-gang in it. However, they will keep this one a secret, because he realizes now that it was a mistake to reveal his intentions to his family.

At lunchtime, Jun-ha plays with Nam and waits with Pa-rang for Pal-gang to come out. When she arrives, she tries to take Nam from him — both feeling sorry at the trouble, and uncomfortable with Jun-ha being so solicitous — but Jun-ha is back to being the nice, accommodating ajusshi, and he insists he’s fine. This is a recurring motif this episode, where Pal-gang finds his niceness burdensome, but Jun-ha presses on anyway.

Pa-rang is keen on dropping by Kang-ha’s office, and Jun-ha tries to deflect the boy’s attention. He’s unsuccessful, but as it happens, Kang-ha comes by anyway, and Pa-rang invites him along to lunch. However, seeing the uncomfortable looks on Pal-gang’s and Jun-ha’s faces, he declines.

And then: babies feeding babies! HOW CUTE, right?

Urg. So. Adorable. It’s ridiculous. There’s something hypnotizing about watching baby Nam eat jajangmyun. Nom, nom.

Jae-young finds Kang-ha on the terrace area outside, and reminds him of their upcoming engagement ceremony.

Kang-ha has agreed to go along with everything, but he shows very little reaction to her. Thus Jae-young approaches him a bit tentatively, thanking him for going along with all the plans, a little unsettled at his lack of response but grateful that he’s not resisting anymore. Rather, it’s like he’s resigned to his fate.

Jun-ha offers to let the kids stay in his office for the time being. Again she declines his kindness, but he adds that it’s really for the kids’ benefit, not hers. It must be difficult for them to tag along as she works, and honestly, if she’s so intent on making money, this allows her to focus more on her work.

As he drops her off after lunch (taking the kids), he advises her to focus on work to avoid thinking on other things (read: Kang-ha). And then, he tells himself, as though trying to convince himself, “I gave hyung a last chance. So I won’t feel sorry.”

Pal-gang scores a new contract with a client who actually contacted her first, saying that the rumors have spread that she’s an FC who treats her customers like family. She’s a little awed but pleased at this easy sale, and happily signs him to a policy.

The man treats her with friendliness, but after she leaves, he asks his subordinate if she’s really the FC with the worst record. It didn’t seem that way to him. This comment, coupled with the fact that it’s hinted that this man is a mob boss of some sort, makes him seem rather shifty.

Kang-ha accompanies Jae-young and her mother as they finish up some shopping for the upcoming engagement and wedding. He hangs back disinterestedly, answering when his opinion is requested but hardly registering their questions. Kang-ha excuses himself, and Min-kyung mutters that he’s like a cow being led to slaughter.

While the women browse, Kang-ha gets lost in thought, thinking of Jun-ha’s telling comment that Pal-gang knows a lot about him.

When Pal-gang picks Nam up from daycare, the caretaker informs her that Nam seemed unwell today. Pal-gang figures that it must be that he’s reacting to the changes in their environment.

She comes home with Nam and Pa-rang to find a full house: Grandpa and Jun-ha are over for dinner. Grandpa has bought some meat to grill, and Jun-ha has come bearing gifts.

The gifts are electronic devices with little GPS trackers that link to Jun-ha’s phone, and even has a sound function, sort of like a fancy walkie-talkie. The kids think this is cool and not creepy.

He also has a gift for Pal-gang, and presents her with a box. Last of all, there’s an electronic photo frame, which displays digital photographs in a slideshow.

The next day, Pal-gang hurries to daycare after receiving a distressed call about Nam’s health. What was minor agitation yesterday has now worsened, and it looks like he has to go to the hospital.

Eun-mal has to be away in the evening, so Jun-ha assures her that he will watch over the kids that night, and brings them back to his house. (Cutely, Tae-kyu is thrilled.)

The children all line up (looking a bit like the Von Trapps) to present Kang-ha with a wedding gift: it’s Jun-ha’s digital photo frame, which has been loaded with photos of the Jin family.

The older kids file away, but Pa-rang hangs back to ask in a shaky voice, “Are you really going to marry that hateful looking ajumma?”

This means that Pa-rang won’t be able to sleep in the same bed as Kang-ha anymore: “I could, if you married my sister. You’re really bad! You like my sister, I know it!”


Meanwhile, Pal-gang waits anxiously for the results of Nam’s exam, and they are not good. They’re quite dire, actually. I’m not sure of the exact name of his condition, but it’s a congenital condition occurring because his bile duct hasn’t fully formed, which keeps the bile from getting to the intestines and, if left untreated, could likely kill him.

Pal-gang can’t believe it — Nam is so healthy. The doctor answers that this often is the case, that the baby seems healthy and therefore the condition is discovered too late. Pal-gang begs the doctor to do something, and he answers that it’s a quickly deteriorating issue, so the best thing for Nam is to get a liver transplant.

Pal-gang is tested, but she isn’t a possible match, which makes sense since she’s not his blood sister. Because this hospital is full and the specialist is away, they refer her to another hospital. However, they warn that the biggest problem will be to find a donor match.

Desperate for a solution, she begs the adoption office for information about Nam’s biological relations, but they can’t help her. Aside from not being able to give her that information, the orphanage where he was living is no longer in existence.

That night, she worries with a fussy Nam about their predicament. She is unaware that at the moment, Kang-ha is parked outside the building, looking up at the rooftop room. This is the night before his engagement, and even he isn’t sure what he means by coming here tonight. He tells himself, “It’s just for today, because I won’t come again — I can’t come again.”

As he looks on, he sees Pal-gang leaving the building with Nam and hurriedly grabbing a taxi. She had received a phone call and is rushing to meet her contact. Watching curiously, Kang-ha follows the taxi in his car.

The taxi drops her off in front of an orphanage, where Kang-ha pulls up to Pal-gang and startles her. Assuming that she has come here to give up Nam, he confronts her angrily, and — aie! — slaps her.

Kang-ha: “Is your stupid pride that important? If things were that difficult, you should have asked the chairman or me for help! No, I don’t have the right, but you should have at least asked Jun-ha for help!”

He condemns her actions, mistakenly believing that she is in such difficulty that she is ditching Nam at an orphanage.

That’s got to hurt, to have your intentions so misunderstood even if the situation does seem to support it. Pal-gang tells Kang-ha, “If you don’t know anything, don’t interfere and just leave.”

He continues, “You rejected the chairman’s inheritance, but how does it make sense to leave Nam at an orphanage? What the hell are you doing? What are you thinking?”

Pal-gang bursts out, “Nam is sick!”

It’s only after Pal-gang starts to explain things to her contact — a worker from Nam’s old orphanage — that Kang-ha begins to understand the real situation. Pal-gang explains that she needs to find a blood relative to Nam, because he needs a liver transplant.

The woman is sympathetic, but apologizes — Nam was dropped off without any contact information, which makes it difficult to find any relatives.

Kang-ha hadn’t known that the Jin siblings were all adopted, and asks why she had never said anything about that. Pal-gang explains that she’s her parents’ biological child, but doesn’t see why she should have explained all this: “Why do I have to say that my siblings aren’t my blood relations?”

She worries for Nam, whom she had brought along hoping to sway the woman into giving up the information about his parents. Without that, she doesn’t know what to do.

Now Kang-ha starts to get worked up. He points out that if she couldn’t find help at the first hospital, she should have gone right to another hospital! And she should certainly have asked for help! (It sounds like he’s blaming Pal-gang for being thoughtless, but I think it’s his way of reacting to the horrible news.)

Pal-gang argues, what kind of help was she supposed to ask for? Finding a donor is the most important thing, so her priority was to find Nam’s blood relatives. Kang-ha points out that there’s no reason a donor has to be a blood relative: “You should search the whole world until you find one!”

The budding argument is interrupted by Nam, who starts to bawl, in pain. Alarmed, they rush him to the hospital.

(And, by the way: THIS is exactly why they hire super-cute babies in dramas like this, just to wring every last tear out of the viewers’ eyes! Good lord, it’s uncomfortable watching babies cry in such (supposedly life-threatening) distress.)

The doctor can’t even offer any hopeful words, because it looks really bad and the condition is advanced. Pal-gang sobs, and Kang-ha tries to console her.

Kang-ha gets on the phone and starts calling friends and colleagues to ask for favors, presumably about medical contacts. Kang-ha’s initial coldness and professionalism have been so well established that it’s a little jarring seeing him discard that prideful shell to call people with whom it’s clear he’s not close, in order to request a favor. That surely speaks to how drastically his character has changed over the course of this drama.

Pal-gang sits dully while she waits, but at a certain point she recalls that today is his engagement day. She urges him to go on. When his phone rings, he fumbles hurriedly for it, thinking it may be one of his contacts, but it’s only Jae-young. He doesn’t answer.

This leaves Jae-young and the Jungs anxiously waiting around for the missing groom. The engagement ceremony is quickly approaching and the guests are due to arrive soon. Where is Kang-ha?

Kang-ha does pick up his phone for his brother, who is also at the engagement location. Kang-ha tells Jun-ha to come, which brings both Jun-ha and Jae-young rushing to the hospital.

Not knowing what the situation is, both stop short to see that Kang-ha is with Pal-gang. Kang-ha tells his brother, “Nam is very sick. Now you stay with her.” He hadn’t wanted to leave her alone, but now that Jun-ha is here to take his place, he turns away. When Jae-young starts to go after Pal-gang angrily, Kang-ha grabs her away.

Jae-young doesn’t understand why he has to be here when the person sick is Pal-gang’s sibling. Looking rather lost, Kang-ha answers, “I don’t know why I’m here. But I just felt I had to. I couldn’t go and leave her alone.”

She slaps him, then demands, “Why is that? Who is she to you?!”

Kang-ha says, “I don’t know. I don’t know either who she is to me. But I couldn’t go. With her hurting alone, I couldn’t leave to get engaged to you.” Jae-young asks incredulously, “How could you say that to me?”

Kang-ha cuts her short and proposes that they marry without the formality of the engagement ceremony. This is a gesture of appeasement, but Jae-young isn’t having it. In fact, it fans her anger — does he think that if he just agrees to marry her, this fixes everything?

It doesn’t, but Kang-ha has no better ideas. He’s beyond frustrated, and his voice grows more and more heated as he demands, “Then what more do you want? That’s the only thing I can do! I can let go of the woman I love, but not my brother. That’s why I’m marrying you — isn’t that enough?!”

But oy! At that, a voice speaks up behind Kang-ha: “What do I have to do with this?” Jun-ha approaches, his eyes narrowing in suspicion: “Why bring me up when you’re talking about your marriage plans? Why do you have to marry Jae-young because of me?”

 
COMMENTS

Finally! This family secret is out! (Almost, kind of, just-about-to-be?)

I actually liked Jae-young more than I ever have in this episode, but maybe “like” is too strong a word. It might be more accurate to say that I did not hate her at all, and I sorta-almost even understood her. Kang-ha has stopped resisting the idea of marriage, and gotten past those initial stages of denial and anger into depression and near-acceptance (does this mean that the idea of marrying Jae-young is cause for grief?). A resigned Kang-ha also means that Jae-young is no longer fighting him, and that leaves her at a loss. This enables her to see exactly how miserable he is, and that in turn makes her uneasy as well. This is probably much more effective at proving why the marriage is a mistake than trying to fight her or reason with her.

I liked the way they explained Pal-gang’s aversion to the inheritance, because for a while it was enough to make you think she was getting a little too up on her high horse. I understand why she left Kang-ha’s home, but on another level it was also understandable why everyone else seems to think it was a rash and selfish (prideful) move on her part, to drag her siblings along with her. But the enemy isn’t a rich man trying to use her, or even an overly stubborn sense of pride, but a fear of her own worst self.

This was touched upon once earlier, when Ju-hwang found out that Pal-gang was working at a hostess bar and offered to live at an orphanage so she wouldn’t have to keep that job. She had argued that it wasn’t because she would feel too bad for leaving them at an orphanage, but rather that she was afraid she would find it comfortable without them and not go back to get them. The fact that her big conflict is with herself adds a little complexity to the overall picture and I appreciate that.

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96 March 15, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 19

by javabeans

This screencap isn’t really a big spoiler, right? We ARE almost at the end, after all, and it’s not like it’s a big cliffhanger…

Here we are, at the last week. Things start to wrap up with the multiple plotlines coming to a conclusion or setting up for the big finish. Ending episodes always tend to feel a little jerky to me, because in the interest of tying up loose ends, we lose flow and pacing. I’m not surprised that this episode has that sort of unevenness, but I suppose the resolution of a few big dangling threads makes up for it. At least somewhat.

SONG OF THE DAY

Mate – “Better” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 19 RECAP

Appearing unexpectedly, Jun-ha does his patented shoulder-grab as he asks his brother, “Why do you have to marry Jae-young because of me?” Jae-young keeps her eyes averted, and Kang-ha is stunned speechless to be thus discovered.

Jun-ha demands to know what Jae-young is holding over Kang-ha to force him to give up Pal-gang. What aren’t they telling Jun-ha to force them to marry? She has some nerve answering, “I can’t tell you that. If I do, I can’t marry him.” Well, this has been a circular discussion, brought to you by the letter O (My God Just Talk, People).

The brothers step aside for a private talk, and Kang-ha asks Jun-ha to let this go this once and pretend he didn’t overhear the conversation. To his shock, Jun-ha asks (rather casually in fact), “Are you asking me to pretend I don’t know you and I have different mothers?”

As Kang-ha gapes, Jun-ha explains that he found out when he was in fifth grade — it was after another huge fight with their father, and Kang-ha had run away. A week later, their father dragged him back home and they’d fought again: “As he hit you, you talked back. You said you’d live with your mother, and that you were born outside of the family, so why does he keep bringing you back?”

Not only that, Jun-ha’s mother had heard, and that was the day she gave him his own room and told Jun-ha not to use it, because Kang-ha needed his own space. Jun-ha asks, “She loved you a lot — why didn’t you ever call her Mom?”

Kang-ha explains that he couldn’t, even though he wanted to, again demonstrating his own self-loathing. She was too fine and kind that “it felt like a guy like me couldn’t call her Mother.” Furthermore, he felt that would have been unfair — “I couldn’t take that from you.”

Jun-ha reminisces about growing up always wanting to be like Kang-ha, who stood up to Father. Even when his friends questioned why he followed his brother around, he continued to do so: “Actually, I never wanted to beat you. I always felt safe following behind you.” He concedes this round to Kang-ha, too, saying that whenever he cares for someone, they’re always looking at Kang-ha.

Jun-ha advises, “So stay here” (meaning at the hospital with Pal-gang). Kang-ha sighs, “Not this time.” Jun-ha smiles ruefully and requests, “Give me the chance to step back with dignity.”

As he drives home, Jun-ha tears up as he talks aloud, as though to his mother: “Hung says he wanted to call you Mother. You must be happy to have your wish granted.” (I don’t recall hearing what happened to her, but I’m assuming she has died.)

At the hospital, Pal-gang tells Kang-ha he can go home. She’ll stay with Nam, but there’s no need for him to remain.

He gets up to leave and addresses their relationship status indirectly by saying she’ll have to be on her own “until Jun-ha comes.” He’s always taken things from his brother, and can’t do it this time. Giving her up doesn’t necessarily mean that Jun-ha will get what he wants and he recognizes this, but Kang-ha adds, “But in that case, I won’t either.” Even if neither of them ends up with Pal-gang, he’d rather not claim her and add more hurt to his brother. It’s simultaneously a stupid and sweet thought.

Grandpa rushes to hospital, where Kang-ha explains Nam’s situation. Grandpa understands now that the reason Kang-ha didn’t go to his own engagement party was because he was here with Pal-gang.

He chides Pal-gang for not telling him about the situation right away, and comforts her as she cries. Not wanting to upset the family with Nam’s condition, Pal-gang tells Eun-mal and the kids that she’s merely away on a business trip.

When Jun-ha comes upon Jae-young at the bar, she tells him that she knew he would come find her here, because he’s always done that. She wonders, “Why couldn’t it be you? It would’ve been nice if it was you.” Still, she’s determined to get her way and tells Jun-ha that she won’t tell him what he wants to know because she’ll need to use him in order to get Kang-ha.

Jun-ha replies, “Sorry, but I already know everything. … So you can’t use me.”

Sensing Jun-ha’s dejected mood, Jae-young asks if he really does love Pal-gang. He says, “What use is that? She only sees him.”

At another bar, Kang-ha drinks. I know drinking is drama shorthand to show that our heroes are in turmoil, but again? I think part of what makes the latter half of this drama a little ridiculous is the repetitive nature of its plot beats (like Jae-young’s robotic insistence on marrying Kang-ha like she’s some Terminator of Happiness and/or Logic), and the drinking is enough to make MY liver hurt. Can’t he go hit baseballs, or brood by the Han River or something?

As he drinks, Kang-ha thinks over Jun-ha’s words, but guilt prevents him from being able to take this chance. He murmurs, “Not this time. Just this time, I won’t.”

Jae-young finds Kang-ha at work, and he apologizes for not showing up to their engagement, but offers to get married right away. And Jae-young slaps him.

(URG. Speaking of drama shorthand… I’ve read a lot of explanations, defenses, and criticisms of the previous slaps. There have been a lot of thoughtful comments dissecting all the various instances, and I agree in disliking the slap but understanding the thought behind it. However, it IS lazy writing at this point, more shorthand to skip over the task of trying to differentiate its scenes with any originality. Come on, if we’ve got to see everyone going slaphappy I at least want some variety here. Give me a yanking of hair, a knee to the groin, a glove thrown in a face.)

Kang-ha is a mighty patient man to endure two slaps from Jae-young within a 24-hour period. This one at least isn’t an I-hate-you slap, but a wake-up-you-fool slap, as she asks why he’s staying when Jun-ha already knows the truth. Kang-ha stubbornly says he will marry Jae-young, and she replies, “But now I don’t want to.”

She realized something while clinging to him desperately: “Love doesn’t happen even if you push someone toward it. So don’t turn Jun-ha into a fool.” Kang-ha’s insistence on giving up his happiness for his brother’s sake only makes Jun-ha seem sadder, because we all know Jun-ha’s not going to win Pal-gang over no matter what Kang-ha does.

Now the situation is all flipped around and In-gu is horribly confused. Jae-young suddenly says she’s not marrying Kang-ha, and now Jun-ha wants a transfer to the States?

Kang-ha doesn’t like this plan and confronts his brother. Jun-ha tells him that he’s sick of being this guy, and threatens to disown him if Kang-ha keeps going like this. As much as Kang-ha doesn’t want to be the guy who always steals his brother’s women, Jun-ha doesn’t want to be the guy who ruins his brother’s happiness, either.

Good lord. This has got to be the most drawn-out game of “Not It” ever.

And then… a breakthrough! Kang-ha and Grandpa Jung rush to the police station when they hear that Jung-ae and her son have been located, having been caught trying to enter China with false papers.

Grandpa introduces himself as Jung-ae’s father (in law), and reminds her of his son. To his surprise, she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so Kang-ha asks about her son’s father. Isn’t he the chairman’s grandson?

Jung-ae explains that they must be mistaken, because the boy’s father was a married man, which is why she left her hometown in the first place — she didn’t want that to ruin her son’s future. This is a big shock, and although Kang-ha suggests a DNA test just in case, it’s clear they were barking up the wrong tree all this time. Furthermore, Grandpa’s weakened health can’t endure this shock, and he ends up in the hospital. Again.

Pal-gang hasn’t left the hospital since Nam was brought in, worrying over him as he remains unconscious. (By the way: Baby in a respirator = total low emotional blow, drama! You just can’t say anything when you’ve got a baby hooked up to drips and machines and looking all pathetic.)

When Pal-gang emerges from the room, she finds Kang-ha waiting for her, a little startled given the finality of his statements when he left the last time. He explains that Jun-ha won’t be his brother anymore if he lets Pal-gang go. He holds her, then admits that that’s just an excuse — despite his constant reminders to himself not to come here, he would have come in the end. Jun-ha just pushed him here a bit sooner.

Kang-ha says, “I’m sorry for hesitating too much. Now that I’m here, will you forgive me?” Pal-gang starts crying in earnest at that, likely out of relief to have this emotional rollercoaster at an end. He vows, “I won’t go anywhere now.”

(FINALLY!)

Not long afterward, they are joined by the whole troop as the kids are ushered to the hospital with Eun-mal and Jin-ju. They have been brought here by Jun-ha, who offers his brother a smile and leaves to allow the family to have their moment.

The kids had found out the truth about Nam’s illness when Ju-hwang called Pal-gang’s office to ask about her business trip. Now they all burst out that it was unfair of Pal-gang to keep this from them. She tearfully apologizes.

While Ju-hwang sits with sleeping Nam (the other kids are too young to enter the room), the others look curiously at Kang-ha. Jin-ju and Eun-mal ask why he’s here, but before he can come up with a response, Pa-rang speaks up: “Ajusshi… you love our sister, right?”

Everyone looks at him in surprise, wondering how he’ll respond. They gape as Kang-ha answers simply, “Yes, you’re right.” Pa-rang fully approves.

 

The Jung family arrive at the hospital to visit the chairman, where they run into one of the doctors in the hallway — it’s Min-kyung’s brother. They explain why they’re here and visit the chairman’s room, but Min-kyung is called away with an important phone call.

She slips outside to meet with Kim Do-shik, her hired hit man, who gives her bad news. Jung-ae got caught with her fake passport and was taken in by the police. Worse yet, the chairman and Kang-ha have already gone to see them, and requested a DNA test.

Min-kyung doesn’t notice that they have been observed by Jang-soo, who recognizes her and finds it odd that she would be talking to Do-shik.

Jang-soo takes the adults aside to report this odd finding, and tries to puzzle through how the truck driver knows Min-kyung, and what this could mean for their case.

Kang-ha definitely thinks this is suspicious and reports the news to the chairman, connecting the dots between Min-kyung and Jung-ae’s sudden departure. He even suspects there may be a connection to the accident that killed Pal-gang’s parents. The chairman warns him to keep this between the two of them.

All the adults get their blood tested to see if they can be a donor for Nam. The kids want to get tested too but are too young, and have low appetites over lunch. Pal-gang insists they eat to keep up their strength and shushes their protests. She also shushes Kang-ha, which triggers another bout of bickering between the two. Everyone understands that this is how these two lovebirds communicate, and smile knowingly.

More drinking! At least the atmosphere this time is lighter than the last — Jun-ha and Jae-young are in the stage where they’ve accepted the results and now are trying to approach the situation with rueful humor. Jun-ha laughs about all of Pal-gang’s faults, recalling how she couldn’t cook and predicting that brother is going to suffer if they marry.

Jae-young is sympathetic, understanding that he’s compensating for his rejection, and suggests that Jun-ha go through with his initial plan to move to the States. Jun-ha vetoes this plan because leaving would only make Kang-ha and Pal-gang feel sorry toward him. The best thing is to stay and pretend he’s over it. Jae-young comments that it’s obvious he’s not over it, and he quips that he’d better practice.

Nam takes a downturn, and the bad news is such an emotional burden that Pal-gang vomits in the restroom while Kang-ha waits anxiously outside. When she emerges, she tries to laugh it off by saying she ate too much, but Kang-ha knows he’s lying.

Holding her close, Kang-ha tells her, “You don’t have to act brave in front of me.”

This, of course, is the scene that Tae-kyu witnesses. He has come to see Nam and to get tested as a possible donor, and this sight sends him into an emotional fit, feeling betrayed by his uncle. Kang-ha says he’s sorry, but I like that his apology is sincere without being indulgent — as we know, Tae-kyu has a tendency to emote in extremes.

Kang-ha didn’t mean to hurt Tae-kyu, but he still corrects Tae-kyu’s use of Pal-gang’s name. As we have seen, there’s been a little difficulty in pinning down the appropriate way for Tae-kyu to address Pal-gang, but with the love lines defined (finally!), they can solidify the relationships and it’s no longer appropriate for Tae-kyu to address her on a first-name basis. As his uncle’s love interest, despite their three-year age gap Pal-gang is in a different “generation” than Tae-kyu, and therefore he ought to call her “ajumoni” (ma’am). Tae-kyu retorts childishly that he’ll call her by her name forever.

Jae-young drops by to see Pal-gang, for once facing her without scorn. Pal-gang apologizes “for everything,” surprised when Jae-young offers a hand and acknowledges that she lost. She explains that the reason she had clung so hard to Kang-ha is because he’d never been especially interested in any woman. Therefore, if he felt the same level of indifference to all women, then at least she could assert her claim on him. But now with Pal-gang, she sees that she can’t compare to that and hence her withdrawal.

In a sorta conciliatory gesture, Pal-gang shares with Jae-young, “Do you know why [Jun-ha] first approached me? It was for you.” She explains that Jun-ha had been trying to direct Kang-ha’s feelings toward Jae-young, and had believed that the most loving thing to do for the one who doesn’t love you back is to not love them. Jae-young seems to understand the implication — that he did it out of love for her.

Pal-gang and Kang-ha continue to stay at the hospital, where Eun-mal brings them fresh clothing and watches in amusement as they start bickering again. Pal-gang nags Kang-ha for not going in to work, and he nags back about her not resting in the room that Grandpa has had reserved for her.

Kang-ha knows she’s just using these complaints to cover up her real feelings, saying, “You know you feel reassured with me here with you.” She’s not going to admit that, but he continues, “If you feel like weeping in gratitude, just say thank you.”

Pal-gang starts to protest, so he swoops in to shut her up with a kiss.

I love how unromantically he addresses her afterward. Rather than wax sentimental, he continues in his matter-of-fact tone and warns, “Just keep chattering on — I’ll take that to mean you want to be kissed again.” Kang-ha grumbles that she sure protests a lot — she should just thank him if she feels grateful.

All the while, Pal-gang stands in a daze, unable to even respond.

Min-kyung gets some good news and some bad news. First, she hears that according to DNA results, Jung-ae’s son is not related to the chairman. This means that they’ve been chasing the wrong trail all this while, but that Min-kyung is safe for the moment.

However, her brother shows her something odd in the blood test results taken from Nam’s hopeful donors. Pal-gang’s bloodwork indicates that she and the chairman ARE related — what’s up with that?

Min-kyung doesn’t fully understand HOW this is, but she knows what it means. Pal-gang is more of a threat than ever, so Min-kyung tries to figure a way to spin this to protect her interests. She takes Kang-ha aside to ask about his relationship with Pal-gang, which he confirms. Acting like she’s doing this out of maternal concern for Jae-young’s feelings, she asks Kang-ha how he would feel about transferring to the States. He can marry Pal-gang and take her along. Min-kyung explains that she’s looking to protect Jae-young’s feelings as his discarded fiancee, but we know that this is her last-ditch effort to get Pal-gang far away from the chairman.

Kang-ha isn’t inclined to oblige her, but he merely answers that there’s a lot to handle right now with Nam’s surgery impending. (They’ve found a donor from Japan, and surgery will be planned as soon as possible.) He’ll consider the suggestion afterward.

Jae-young arrives at the hospital, where she finds Jun-ha hanging around outside, concerned for Nam’s upcoming surgery but not up to facing everyone. Jae-young explains her presence by saying that she figured he would be here. However, since it’s not really their place to be here, they can go elsewhere and wish for Nam’s success from a distance.

And then, it’s time for the surgery. The family looks on anxiously as Nam is wheeled away…

 
COMMENTS

To be perfectly honest, I’ve long since given up on this drama being a logical, well-woven story. Maybe that’s why I’ve been able to enjoy this show so much, because it hits enough buttons to be enjoyable and satisfying. I do acknowledge that there are plot holes and logic gaps that prevent this from being an example of skillful drama work, so the drama’s real talent is in somehow rising to become more than the sum of its parts.

I think we’ll end tomorrow with some untied ends, but it looks like all the big ones will be addressed. Since I don’t think there are many surprises left to reveal, I’d rather they give us a lot of cute family moments rather than trying to work out some convoluted ending of the mysteries.

And yes, because it must be mentioned: The hair, yikes, the hair! I hadn’t really noticed Kim Ji-hoon’s shaved hairline at the outset, but it really has been getting worse in later episodes. I suspect that it’s because they first only shaved a few of the strays to clean up the hairline, and then had to shave a little more each time to keep the line straight. Like a schoolgirl giving her friend a homemade haircut and “evening up” one side, then the other, until a mere trim becomes a Felicity moment. To prove that Kim Ji-hoon is not in fact balding, or in possession of a fivehead (big brother to the forehead), here he is in Episode 2 (left) with a perfectly normal hairline, and then in Episode 19 looking vaguely alienish.

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117 March 16, 2010January 24, 2016

Wish Upon a Star: Episode 20 (Final)

by javabeans

Wish Upon a Star ended with a series high rating of 18.5%, which was the top rating among Tuesday dramas. To be perfectly frank, I think the last two episodes are two of the weakest, which is too bad. We do get our happy ending (not that that was ever in doubt) and a feel-good vibe, which is ultimately all I ever wanted from this drama. I’m a little disappointed that this episode wasn’t as good as some of those middle episodes that were so winning, but overall I’m satisfied with how it ended.

SONG OF THE DAY

Ash – “안녕,” which is “hello” and/or “goodbye.” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 20 RECAP

Since we all know that this drama can’t possibly kill Nam off, I’m glad to see they waste no time showing us that he’s fast on the mend. He has taken his surgery well, and can be discharged tomorrow.

With that settled, on to the next hiccup: Pal-gang wants to move her siblings back to Eun-mal’s rooftop apartment. Everyone thinks that’s unnecessary, given that she’s in a dating relationship with Kang-ha and that the living arrangements are more practical at his place. She remains firm about it, intent to get her own place as soon as she has the money.

Kang-ha doesn’t see it her way, and asks if this is her pride again. He even refers to Eun-mal as “our grandma,” asking how Pal-gang can impose such a difficult situation upon her.

Pal-gang starts to protest, but Kang-ha keeps making his point, reminding her how she’d made such a fuss over signing a contract to protect her contract extension. And she’s just going to forget that now? Pal-gang tells him, “You know why I’m doing this.” Kang-ha grimaces and grabs her hand to pull her out of the room for a more private discussion. Everyone finds this demonstration of take-charge manliness cool and not overbearing.

For those of you who find the ubiquitous kdrama arm-drag questionable, perhaps Jin-ju’s reaction will shed some light: she exclaims that those scenes are her favorite in dramas, but balks when Jang-soo attempts the maneuver clumsily. The scenario is decidedly less romantic when it’s your arm being dragged, eh?

Despite the above screencap, this is a mostly amusing scene as Kang-ha grumpily asks Pal-gang whether she’s suffering a case of inflated ego — she’s moving out because of Jun-ha, right? Is it because she thinks he’s still in love with her? Kang-ha says that Jun-ha will be fine: “That’s the most we can do for him. If he acts like nothing’s wrong, we have to do the same for him.”

Furthermore, Kang-ha tells her that she’s not exactly the type of woman that guys get hung up on for ages about. “It’s not like your face is that pretty, or your figure is curvy. And it’s hardly like you’re Jang-geum [of Dae Jang Geum] in the kitchen, or great at keeping house.” She’s not so great at her job, either, and she’s got five siblings to take care of. This is Kang-ha’s attempt to convince her that Jun-ha won’t be pining after her, but he gets a little carried away and pricks her temper. She warns, “I think you’re making a big mistake” and leaves feeling peeved.

Grandpa Jung has a pretty good idea of Min-kyung’s involvement in all this mess, and attempts to get her to confess. First he describes his own past, saying he’s committed a lot of sins in his life. He was once so fixated on money that he neglected his family, and people suffered because of him. The hospital was his attempt to atone, but he didn’t see that in pursuing that goal he was making his own son feel uneasy. Thus he drove them to commit sins of their own.

Therefore, he advises, “Quit while you still can.” He urges her to confess her sins and accept her punishment. Min-kyung is rattled by this direct confrontation but clings to her declaration that she doesn’t know what he’s talking about and excuses herself hastily.

She believes she’s past the point of no return, and although she failed “as a woman and a person,” she doesn’t want to fail as a mother. You know, since mothers are neither.

After giving up on Kang-ha, Jae-young has been a lot freer, and talks philosophically to Jun-ha about why Pal-gang was able to win Kang-ha over when others couldn’t. She has finally realized that it’s because she’d never walked on her own, while Pal-gang was busy running around to support five siblings. Seeing Pal-gang’s efforts must have had an effect on both Won brothers, while Jae-young had been sitting back wondering why she wasn’t being noticed. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the lying and the slapping and the blackmail.

She tells him, “I want to walk on my own too. I might fall, but I want to walk on my own. When that happens, would you not reach out a hand but just walk with me?”

Since Kang-ha has won this argument, the family returns to the house, where Tae-kyu pouts at his uncle and pointedly calls Pal-gang by her name. This is his little rebellion against Kang-ha, and demonstrates his unwillingness to accept Pal-gang as his uncle’s girlfriend.

Into the shower for him. Tae-kyu protests all the while that he won’t give up, and keeps shouting, “Pal-gang-ah!’

While Kang-ha is busy with Tae-kyu, Pal-gang and Jun-ha sit for a talk, and she asks if he finds her bold for returning to the house. Jun-ha says he’ll have to retire from their secret-sharing club, since they’re out of secrets to keep. However, he was happy being a member, “And I truly welcome you back.”

Jun-ha tells his brother that he’ll take over the shower duties with Tae-kyu, since Kang-ha ought to turn his attention elsewhere now.

That night Kang-ha brings up the topic of their relationship, but in his customary unsentimental way: “Let’s get married, if you’re not busy.” Ah, ever the romantic! Seeing Pal-gang’s blank reaction, he asks if he has to sing her a song, present a ring, and get down on his knee: “You know I can’t do that because it’s embarrassing.” Dryly, she replies in kind: “No, I can’t, because I’m busy.”

He clarifies, “I’m proposing right now.” She returns, “I’m declining right now.” His bafflement is cute and amusing because in his mind, it’s all so simple. They like each other and it’s obvious they’ll marry, so why the rejection? He even adds, “I’m a pretty popular guy, you know.”

Pal-gang replies that she’s too busy and has no time for marrying, and tosses his words back at him — she’s not pretty, or shapely, or a good cook, so marrying her is ridiculous anyway. If she married him now, she’ll have to spend her whole life thanking Kang-ha for “saving her.” Others would mock her for marrying up and turning into Cinderella.

While the first part of that explanation was teasing, she does mean the latter part, and therefore she can’t marry until she realizes her dreams: “I’m going to become an insurance queen. So I’ll be busy.”

Pal-gang’s response has Kang-ha so incredulous that he’s reduced to stuttering, and then he gripes, “Why can’t you have a dream that’s possible?”

Pal-gang dives into work and rises in the rankings. Her supervisor is pleased with her third-place performance, but she’s not satisfied and steps up her efforts.

One of her clients winds up in the hospital, and we can tell right away this is going to present a problem. It’s her gangster client, and his fixation on the insurance payout tells us that he’s working some kind of scam. However, this isn’t immediately apparent to Pal-gang, who believes that he’s so badly hurt that he’ll be bedridden for the rest of his life. There’s footage of the hit and run accident corroborating his claim. The sight of his gangster lackeys chatting up a doctor looks a little curious, but isn’t enough to make her suspicious.

Kang-ha finds it odd that the man would have taken out several policies from different companies in the same month and needs to investigate further. He’d expected Pal-gang to protest, but she accepts this; if there are problems, it’s to the client’s benefit that everything be taken care of properly.

In concern, Kang-ha asks if she’s eating properly, urging her to take care of herself. She says that she’s fine, but Kang-ha wants to make sure she understands, and addresses her solemnly:

Kang-ha: “Whether or not you become an insurance queen, it doesn’t change anything for me. Just as you understood the guy who everyone called cold-blooded, the same goes for me. On the day you came out carrying Nam and I told you to ride in the car, that was when I started to see the woman I hadn’t seen in five years of being followed around. So I changed Nam’s diaper, rode the subway, wore wet clothes while shivering. And when you put the sweet potato in my mouth I thought, ‘Ah, this woman may be the one.’ That’s why nothing will change, because you’re enough as it is.”

If she must do it her way, Kang-ha adds, she can do it her way. But he asks her not to wear herself out working too hard, “because that’s worse than making me wait.”

All the while, her eyes have been filling with tears at his sweet words. When he asks her to promise that she’ll take it easy, she nods.

Grandpa asks Kang-ha to make sure that Jung-ae and her son will be able to survive comfortably, even if they aren’t his relatives. He also meets with them again, hoping Jung-ae will be able to remember something to help him narrow his search. She doesn’t know much, but a comment about how she and Pal-gang’s mother were both raising children without fathers gets the chairman’s attention. Wait — isn’t Pal-gang’s father Jin Se-yong?

Jung-ae sees that he doesn’t know, and explains that no, Pal-gang’s mother married him when Pal-gang was around five. She doesn’t know who the father is and Pal-gang’s mother had never told her, so she had assumed they were in similar situations.

Grandpa wonders if this means that Pal-gang might be his granddaughter. Kang-ha is thinking the same thing, but to make sure, he suggests that they do a DNA test.

Never out of the loop for long, Min-kyung hears this from her brother, and she urges him to swap the blood sample — can’t he do that much for his own niece? (Discrediting Pal-gang’s claim to the chairman protects Jae-young.)

The gangsters are dumb enough to talk about their scam at the hospital, where Pal-gang overhears them saying how they’d picked the lowest-ranking FC on purpose. She calls Jang-soo and Jin-ju for an emergency meeting to look into this. A quick phone call to a police officer friend identifies the man as a crime boss.

They decide to continue looking into the case, while the mobster’s lackey reports these new complications regarding their scam.

Pal-gang comes home late that night to find an unexpected sight: Kang-ha is washing rice and tells her he’s “practicing” the part of the beleaguered husband. To cover up the fact that he was waiting up for her all night, he grumbles that it’s fine for her to be working hard but shouldn’t she make sure to come home the same day she leaves? He goes on and on with the nagging — not only has the formerly reticent Kang-ha started talking more in general, now he’s downright babbling.

Min-kyung gets a call from her brother that throws her into more panic: to his regret, he can’t do it. He, at least, has some conscience and can’t mess with the DNA testing.

This forces her to more drastic measures as she meets Do-shik secretly, and they’re at the Han River at night so we know this is serious. Even Do-shik sees that she’s gone off the deep end, and expresses his reservations. This finally gives us their backstory: they’d met when she was a bar hostess, and he’d felt sorry for her difficult life. They shared romantic feelings, but after she married In-gu he’d been hoping she would live comfortably. She didn’t come this far just to dig herself into trouble now, and although he’d been content to never reveal his feelings for her when he believed she’d be happy, if she’s not then he regrets that.

Min-kyung is affected by his words, and holds back her tears as she promises to never seek him out after this one last thing.

Here is when the finale starts to go bonkers on us, but at least it’s the entertaining brand o’ crazy. It’s sorta hilarious to see Do-shik watching Pal-gang secretly, ready to strike — only to see her being dragged off by some other dudes. Drat, his kidnapping was pre-empted by another kidnapping!

Pal-gang is brought before the mobster, who knows she has been nosing around. What is she doing, and what does she want? Pal-gang tries to convince him to take the high road and stop now. He’s going to get caught sooner or later, so it’s in his own best interest to stop.

Trying to bribe her into cooperating, the mobster guesses she doesn’t make much salary and offers to give her a cut of his insurance payout. Unmoved, Pal-gang answers that she’s not that kind of person. But she understands his threat immediately when he says casually, “You have a lot of siblings.”

He warns her to think things over carefully, because if his plan doesn’t work out, he’s bound to feel mighty upset about it.

Meanwhile, Do-shik decides that since he and the mobsters seem to both find Pal-gang problematic, they can join together.

That night, Kang-ha checks on the kids, then heads out to buy some sweet potatoes from a street cart. He mumbles to himself that he’s just here to buy the snacks, not because he’s waiting up for Pal-gang or anything! Nope, just hanging out at the cart that happens to be parked in front of the subway station, purely by coincidence…

Therefore, Kang-ha is only a few feet away when Pal-gang emerges from the station, only to be accosted by gangsters and thrown into a car.

Kang-ha darts in front of the car, which stops before it hits him. Then, the driver revs up anyway, knocking him into the windshield.

Getting up, Kang-ha throws a few punches at one thug, but he’s outnumbered and he can’t get inside the car to free Pal-gang. This whole sequence is supposed to be serious and suspenseful, but it’s unintentionally hilarious.

At home, Min-kyung sits with shaking hands, numb with shock. Jae-young sees her mother’s condition and takes a look at the phone, where she sees a photo of Pal-gang tied up and taken hostage. Min-kyung is starting to realize how far things have gone and whispers, “What have I done?” When Jae-young demands to know what’s going on, Min-kyung cries, “She’s your cousin. She’s your uncle’s daughter.”

Immediately, she calls Jun-ha to help, and thanks to his handy-dandy GPS device, he’s able to locate Pal-gang’s whereabouts.

Not knowing that help is on the way, Pal-gang and Kang-ha are bound and gagged in a warehouse, greeted by the crime boss who is wheeled in like he’s the goddamned Godfather.

The mobster smirks that at least she won’t die alone — they’ll find the water cold, but at least she’ll get to drown with company. Just the way we all prefer our drownings.

As the two hostages are being dragged out, Pal-gang and Kang-ha trade anxious looks, just as police cars screech up to the warehouse, lights blazing and sirens blaring.

Jae-young and Jun-ha race to release them from their bonds, and ask if they’re okay. You know they’re fine because they start bickering again — Pal-gang complains about Kang-ha following her when he can’t even fight. Kang-ha looks put out at first, but he knows she’s just letting off steam and pulls her close in a hug. The other two look away, pretending not to notice.

In-gu wakes up in bed, mumbling for water: “I asked for water, what are you doing?” Lemme tell ya, if my (as-yet imaginary) husband regularly woke me demanding I fetch him water, I’d be absent too.

Min-kyung calls him, her voice grim as she confesses that despite her claim that this was all done for Jae-young’s benefit, she was lying to herself. It was actually out of fear for herself, “because I was afraid I’d fall to the bottom again, that I would lose everything I had gained. I was always uneasy. Tell Father I’m sorry. I’m sorry to you, and Jae-young too.”

In-gu senses the implication behind her words and tries to ask her to explain, but Min-kyung hangs up. Having confessed, she finally smiles, as though feeling free for once, and looks out at the skyline. She’s standing on the roof of a tall building.

And then, we’re one year later: Jin-ju and Jang-soo are getting married. (I think my favorite part is when Pa-rang, who is supposed to be tossing confetti in the air, throws it at his sister.)

Pal-gang has been confirmed as Grandpa’s granddaughter, but she and Kang-ha are still not married. When Eun-mal pesters him about when they’re finally going to tie the knot, he tells her to ask Pal-gang instead. Clearly she’s still holding out while she works on her dream.

When Jin-ju tosses her bouquet, Pal-gang catches it, which gets Kang-ha momentarily excited. Immediately she tosses it over, and this time Jae-young catches it. (Minor comment: Notice Pal-gang is finally wearing a dress again, for the first time since her parents died.)

After the wedding, the chairman brings Pal-gang some paperwork to sign — it’s the document forfeiting her claim to his inheritance. He gives her another chance to change her mind, saying she’s entitled to inherit, but she signs anyway. She’s not at all sorry, confident that she can earn her own fortune as an insurance queen.

Pal-gang has moved her family into their own home now, which is in their old neighborhood. Kang-ha may complain about being made to wait, but he seems genuinely willing to help out; the complaints are really to cover up his embarrassment since he’s allergic to romantic talk.

He’s accepted that Pal-gang wants to make her own way in the world, but there are little signs that she’s starting to come around on her own. Every time he makes a comment, she thinks about it a little, although she doesn’t voice her thoughts just yet.

Still, Kang-ha feels a little disappointed with the long wait, and asks Pa-rang if he agrees that Pal-gang is taking this whole thing to extremes. How long does he figure it’ll take for her to achieve her goal?

Pa-rang answers honestly that it might be a while; she’s working hard but she’s nowhere close to being a queen just yet. They both sigh, and then Kang-ha tucks him into bed, smiling at the sleeping boy, “If I didn’t have you either, I’d have been so lonely I wouldn’t know what to do.”

They’re back at the store for samples, supposedly because they’re stretching their budget but probably also because it’s their version of a family bonding event.

We also see from the way that Man-soo and other neighbors ask Kang-ha for advice that he’s found a place for himself in this neighborhood, too. Even if he does grumble about it outwardly. When Pal-gang catches him muttering, she comments that he looks silly to be talking to himself. He retorts, “And who made me this way?”

The family walks home together and pauses to look up at the sky when they spot a falling star. They all pause to make a wish, Pal-gang included, and Pa-rang announces that his was that Pal-gang becomes an insurance queen. The kids all chime in that they wished the same thing. (And at this point, we can understand that “insurance queen” = marriage, so it’s really a twofold wish.)

Pal-gang announces that she made a wish too, and they all look up at her expectantly. She chickens out of revealing her true wish and answers that it was for world peace, to everyone’s disappointment.

As they approach the house, they hear the sound of a baby crying, and find that a basket has been left on their front doorstep. There’s no note, and the kids know what this means — No-rang even goes ahead to christen the baby Bora (the next color after Nam, meaning purple).

There’s no use fighting the obvious, so Pal-gang tells the baby to stop crying because s/he’s home now.

Now she sends a sidelong look at Kang-ha and says casually, “I’m extremely busy but I can spare some time — so you want to get married?”

As a smile breaks out on Kang-ha’s face, he slings an arm over her shoulder while Pa-rang marvels, “Wow, my wish came true right away!” And everyone rejoices.

 
COMMENTS

What a random, scattered final episode. Thank goodness I was content just to watch for my happy ending and was therefore entertained rather than irritated by all the weird dramatics. Seriously, TWO plots on Pal-gang’s life? A double kidnapping, attempted murder, and implied suicide? This coming after a life-threatening illness and birth secret and DNA testing.

I say implied suicide because they never put a period on what becomes of Min-kyung, although there are several hints that she kills herself. In her last conversation, she speaks with finality and says her goodbyes, and we last see her looking out over the roof of a building. The drama couldn’t let her get away with her crimes without punishment — mere forgiveness isn’t adequate given the gravity of her crimes, with two deaths and additional murders attempted — but they could hardly mar a happy ending with an actual death. This is the drama’s half-assed way of wrapping up her story without causing a death to overshadow the rest. Even if it weren’t a hasty way to wrap up the storyline, this was always going to be a problem from the minute the drama introduced such drastically contrasting tones — the warm and fuzzy family bonding alongside the murder plot.

The final two episodes felt messy but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them a mess (unlike some other crazy finales I have seen that were genuinely ridiculous). The stories do conclude in ways that flow logically out of their setups, and the characters remain consistent. The GPS monitors were not gracefully introduced, but they were obviously planned in advance, as was the way Nam’s illness, the blood testing, and Min-kyung’s desperation dovetail to give us our climax and resolution. It’s not like Witch Amusement, for example, where I felt like the writer truly ran out of ideas and just started throwing random things around to fill out the time.

Jae-young’s transformation is another example of something that works in a narrative sense but wasn’t executed smoothly. Her explanation in Episode 19 actually makes a lot of sense, that the reason she kept clinging was because Kang-ha had never shown preference for any particular woman, so it might as well have been her as anyone else. And when she finally realizes that a woman has finally captured his affections for real, there’s no competing. The way this was executed with all that glaring and slapping, however, failed to realize the intent and ultimately I don’t buy the character turnaround. Kdramas often push the villains to extremes in 90% of the drama and then attempt to yank them back to decency in the last episode so we can preserve a happy ending, which is why it’s hinted that she’ll have her own happy ending with Jun-ha. I’m not loving that idea, but at least she now views Pal-gang as a friendly younger cousin and not a hateful bitch, so there is that. Family dinners are gonna be mighty awkward, though.

So yeah, I see what they did; it’s just too bad they carried things out so clumsily. But hey, unintentional hilarity is entertaining, right?

To throw some praise out there, I did like how they reconciled Pal-gang’s desire for independence with her romantic interests. For a while there it seemed we were going to get Coffee Princed into a ridiculous prolonging of their relationship, but the way this resolves is one thing I’m glad they chose to do their way. It’s fitting that the girl with all the Cinderella dreams in the first episode not only realizes that those dreams are not desirable, but actually turns down several opportunities to live the Cinderella life. I’m okay with her rejecting the chairman’s inheritance because at this point she’s found stability and it’s not like she’s endangering her siblings by rejecting the money. She had never grown up believing she’d inherit his fortune, so she’s not really losing it. (Plus, let’s be honest here — it’s not like her husband-to-be is all that poor, either.)

Even so, it’s also a little far-fetched to make her suddenly succeed as insurance queen so that they can marry per her earlier dictate. As we’ve seen all series, Pal-gang learns and grows in baby steps, and while she may get there in the end, there’s always the chance she may not. The point is that she’s always trying to better herself, not that she achieves perfection. There’s no reason to add an artificial obstacle to their relationship with this insurance queen challenge, right? So it’s only fitting that she comes to that realization on her own — and that she proposes this time, since Kang-ha has been so patient with her. It also helps balance things out so that Kang-ha’s not always initiating. She may not kiss him back with tongue, but hey, she proposed!

If I were to grade the first half of this drama, I’d give it a solid B for the fresh comedy and the wonderful family bonding among the Jin siblings. Pal-gang’s growth and transformation also get a big thumbs up. The latter half slips pretty significantly, and I’d probably give that half a C-. But at the end of the day, it’s a drama that gave me a lot of laughs and surprised me by being better than I was expecting.

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