[2010] Nàng ngốc và quân sư - Personal Taste - Lee Min Ho, Son Je Jin

136 April 1, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 1

by javabeans

The ratings for the Thursday episodes shifted slightly, but the order remained the same as the first day. Cinderella’s Sister was first with a 14.5%, Personal Taste remained in second with a 12.5%, and Prosecutor Princess crept up slightly to an 8.7%.

Since I outlined the basic plot in the first impressions post, let’s dive right in to Episode 1.


Personal Taste OST – “말도 안돼” (It Can’t Be) by Younha [ Download ]

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Morningtime is a vastly disparate experience for our two leads: one awakens in a crowded workshop and scrambles to get ready, while the other awakens in a spacious room and leisurely prepares for the day. Hers is an old-fashioned Korean-style house; he lives in a modern, upscale home.

Let’s start with PARK KAE-IN (Sohn Ye-jin):

Kae-in jumps up clumsily at the sound of her alarm clock, already late. She’s a furniture designer and has worked through the night, sleeping on the floor of her woodshop.

She darts around her place while dressing for today’s special occasion, ditching her usual loose-fitting sweats for a little black dress. It comes out of her special armoire, which is still taped shut to indicate how rarely she makes use of anything fitted or pretty. But even dressed “up” like this, she still manages to ruin the LBD effect by tossing on a puffy blue jacket and serviceable boots (after breaking the heel on what is probably her only pair of pumps).

JEON JIN-HO (Lee Min-ho), on the other hand, occupies a chic, orderly room, and finds himself with an unexpected bedmate. He’s not the type to get worked up over surprises and dryly tells his companion to give up pretending — he knows she’s not sleeping. This is NA HYE-MI (Choi Eun-seo), whose little joke has not produced its desired shock effect. From Jin-ho’s non-reaction, we can suppose that he’s used to Hye-mi’s childish pranks and forward advances.

Hye-mi pouts, asking how he can reject a sexy woman like her. She asks teasingly, “Do you maybe like men?” Jin-ho banters back, “Didn’t you know that I do?”

Jin-ho’s mother calls out from the hallway, and despite his own nonchalance at Hye-mi’s appearance, he moves quickly to hide her presence from Mom, shoving her out onto the balcony. When Mom asks where Hye-mi is, he fumbles for an answer — shouldn’t she still be in Canada?

(Trivia: Jin-ho’s mother is played by musical actress Park Hye-mi, who by the way played the mother to Lee Min-ho’s best buddy Jung Il-woo in Unstoppable High Kick. Take that, Kevin Bacon! In Korea everything is measurable by two degrees.)

Kae-in is running late and Jin-ho’s car is blocked in, so both end up on the street hailing taxis. The very same taxi, in fact. While they argue over who was technically first, someone else slips in and claims the cab. Both are relegated to the bus.

The mutual annoyance kicks up a notch when Jin-ho claims the sole available seat. (Kae-in is expecting some show of chivalry, but Jin-ho suffers no such scruples.) Sitting down, his eyeline falls upon Kae-in’s visible panty line (ah, that scourge of modern womanhood!) — and although he’s regarding it with distaste, Kae-in catches him looking at her butt and thinks he’s being a perv.

She self-consciously adjusts her dress, but just then the bus lurches and she stumbles backward. Jin-ho, keen to protect his building model, throws his hands up in front of it… connecting squarely with her butt.

Jin-ho defends himself by saying it was to protect his model. Affronted that his hunk of plastic is more important than her body part, she insists on the bus taking her to the police station to report the pervert. Jin-ho once again demonstrates his coolheadedness, pointing out calmly that she’s being far more of a public nuisance by inconveniencing everyone on the bus — is her butt more important than everyone else’s time?

Aggravated, Kae-in returns the favor and grabs HIS ass. (If only we all had such excuses.) In shock, he drops his model, which crashes and breaks. Oops! Kae-in didn’t mean for that to happen, and quickly ducks off the bus.

The reason this is a big day is because she is launching her own line of furniture at an expo. (The brand’s name — Kae-in Story — like the drama’s title, is a pun that also means Personal Story.) Her furniture is tailored for the “happy single” and features innovations like making a single table function as dining surface, workspace, and vanity in one.

Kae-in is pleased at a congratulatory flower arrangement that her boyfriend Chang-ryul has sent her, waving off the fact that he didn’t come in person. Her sole employee, LEE WON-HO, clearly doesn’t approve of Chang-ryul’s indifferent gesture, especially when his big work presentation is in the very same building.

It’s the same presentation for which Jin-ho has been preparing with his work partner, NOH SANG-JUN (Jung Sung-hwa). With little time to spare, Jin-ho and Sang-jun get to work repairing the model.

They’re interrupted by the appearance of a rival architect — Kae-in’s own HAN CHANG-RYUL (Kim Ji-suk) — who smirks and tells them there’s no use bothering with the model, since he’s going to win. The guys trade barbs back and forth, Chang-ryul mocking the teeniness of Jin-ho’s firm, Jin-ho insinuating that Chang-ryul’s only successful because he has everyone else doing his work for him.

Chang-ryul hands over two invitations for his wedding tomorrow, and can’t resist adding the barb that he’s only doing so to give the guys a rare taste of hotel food (which in Korea is shorthand for fancy and expensive cuisine, not dinky Continental breakfasts and free refills of Sanka).

The two are part of several firms bidding for the contract to build the Dream Art Center, and Chang-ryul presents first for his firm, Mirae Construction. He’s smooth and confident — until a minor hiccup stymies him completely, proving Jin-ho’s point that he’s only good when he can take credit for someone else’s work, but on his own he falters.

Jin-ho presents for his company, M, incorporating the model into a hologram — that’s right, a hologram! — as he emphasizes his focal point of harmony, blending nature with people and culture.

To ensure that our main couple dislike each other as thoroughly as possible before being forced to change their minds, we get Round 3 of the Kae-in/Jin-ho clash while the architects take a break while the winner is decided. Jin-ho and Sang-jun wander over to the furniture booths, stopping in front of Kae-in Story. Sang-jun thinks the multi-function pieces are ingenious, but Jin-ho scoffs, calling the designer an egoist who has clearly never cooked for someone else, who cannot communicate, and is likely a “hysterical spinster.” I don’t even know what a hysterical spinster would be (screaming cat lady?), but it must be bad from the disparaging way Jin-ho says it.

And yes, Jin-ho’s kind of a pretentious prat. He’s got a point that the table isn’t suited for proper dining, but he’s also missed the point that it serves a different purpose than formal diningware, and is tailored to the space-saving single person. Kae-in had hidden away to avoid encountering the perv again, but at his criticisms she pops out to set him straight: There are some people in the world who don’t have someone to eat with, you know.

The architects head back to the convention hall for the results, and here is where I decide I love Sang-jun, who prays to his almighty God to win this account, then threatens to convert to Buddhism if they don’t. (The humor is all in his delivery.)

Alas, Mirae (hence Chang-ryul) wins the bid. A man sitting nearby — whom we will later learn is CHOI DO-BIN — takes note of Jin-ho’s disappointed reaction. This character, played by a dandified Ryu Seung-ryong (snerk, for those of you who’ve read the novel), will surely figure in the upcoming episodes.

Kae-in congratulates her boyfriend on his successful presentation. Since it’s been ages since they’ve been out, she suggests they go on a date the next day, not knowing that he’s got quite a different activity prepared for tomorrow. Fighting his cowardly nerves, Chang-ryul attempts to break up with Kae-in, trying to ease into the discussion by first pointing out all his flaws as a boyfriend. It’s too bad that Kae-in jumps to his defense and contradicts him, saying that even though he USED to be a big playboy, he’s not one anymore since he’s with her!

Chang-ryul looks increasingly nauseous, and forces himself onward. To make his point clear, he gets down on his knees in front of Kae-in and reaches in his pocket for the wedding invitation.

There are only two reasons for someone to kneel in front of you — to beg forgiveness or to propose — and with all this nervous stammering about the progression of their relationship, Kae-in thinks it must be the latter. Surely he’s reaching inside his jacket for the ring, right? Flustered (but pleased), she gasps that this is so sudden! She needs some time to think about it — can he give her some time?

Chang-ryul sees that this has taken a horrible turn and tries to get up and protest (she pushes him back down, ha). Serves you right, cheating liar!

This scene is interrupted by a grim-looking Jin-ho, who has recalled Chang-ryul’s pre-presentation comment that fixing the model was useless. Chang-ryul must have worked out some kind of backdoor deal to win the PT before it was even given. Jin-ho asks if he or his father messed with the process again.

Now we get a bit more insight into the bad blood here. Jin-ho’s now-deceased father used to be the president of Mirae, but now Chang-ryul’s father has taken a senior position. (Hence Chang-ryul’s success despite what appears to be a tainted work ethic.) At some point afterward, Jin-ho set up his own small firm.

Chang-ryul walks away, leaving Jin-ho stewing. Kae-in gripes that Jin-ho ruined her proposal by butting in at a crucial moment — and this strikes Jin-ho as odd. Obviously she must be deluded, since he knows Chang-ryul is marrying tomorrow.

Jin-ho has bigger worries, though, because construction on one building is running behind schedule and is in danger of not being done on time. Jin-ho has used all the company money on paying the workers and preparing their PT, and they’re in dire need of funds.

With a sigh, Jin-ho suggests they take on a museum project that they wouldn’t otherwise do — it’s their only viable source of work. Sang-jun warns that he may be getting over his head, but Jin-ho is firm. He wants to meet the museum’s Director Choi. They don’t know him, but Sang-jun remembers Chang-ryul’s wedding. Not only is it a good opportunity to network with contacts, the bride is also a curator at the museum. Therefore Choi ought to be there.

The meeting is broken up by the arrival of KIM TAE-HOON (Im Seul-ong), who bursts in and asks, with great indignation, how Jin-ho could dare lock Hye-mi out on the balcony.

Tae-hoon calls Jin-ho “hyung,” indicating that they’re on a pretty friendly basis. He is also an employee at the firm, though it seems to be a running line that Jin-ho wants Tae-hoon to quit.

Over drinks, Jin-ho assures Tae-hoon that he only thinks of Hye-mi as a little sister. This is not at all convincing to Tae-hoon, who is greatly aggrieved that Jin-ho supposedly stole a look at Hye-mi’s bosoms (according to Hye-mi), and that he’d promised to marry her. No matter that he only said that to shut her up when she cried and kicked up a fuss, and at age 14 to boot. Overwrought with jealousy and the angst of youth, Tae-hoon drinks.

Girls’ night at Kae-in’s house. She drinks with her two friends, LEE YOUNG-SUN (a photographer and mother, played by Jo Eun-ji) and KIM IN-HEE (Wang Ji-hye), the latter of whom is marrying tomorrow. In-hee has been living with Kae-in in this house but has recently moved out in preparation for her marriage, which is something of a whirlwind affair with a man she began dating only a month ago.

In-hee acts a little uncomfortable every time the girls mention her mysterious groom, whom they have never seen. When In-hee hears Kae-in announce brightly that Chang-ryul almost proposed to her, she excuses herself to make a phone call. She hisses to Chang-ryul that he was supposed to tell Kae-in the truth!

Chang-ryul works up his courage and calls Kae-in out to a restaurant, mustering the nerve to break the news. She, of course, thinks this is a nice romantic date, and that he’s going to finish the proposal that he started.

He starts by highlighting all his negative points, as though to soften the blow, saying that he’s hurt her a lot. Kae-in is happy to let that slide, because he’s the first man to see someone like her — not pretty, dense — as attractive. Her comments just make him feel worse, and he fights through this conversation wearing a worried constipation-face.

Finally, he dives right into it and gets to the point: “Kae-in, I beg you… Now… With me…” She waits in breathless anticipation, just as he finishes, “…let’s break up.”

Stunned, she asks if she did anything wrong. He says he didn’t love her, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for thinking he might have loved her initially. He says she was like a puppy that followed him around: “I think I felt pity for you.” She was the girl who always messed things up and had never loved before, and he’d felt sorry for her.

Hurt, Kae-in gets up and walks away from the table without another word. He calls her back — so she stops in her tracks and storms back. (Nervously, Chang-ryul scoots his water glass closer, keeping it out of her reach.) But she’s angry at herself more than him, and says with difficulty, “I’m sorry. You were trying not to hurt me all that while, but I was so thick I didn’t know.”

The three men have relocated to an outdoor pojangmacha, where Tae-hoon challenges Jin-ho to a drinking battle. If Jin-ho loses, he has to date Hye-mi.

Sang-jun says that’s all backward, but Tae-hoon means it — Hye-mi has to be happy for Tae-hoon to be happy. That’s what love is! Jin-ho retorts, “So have that love between the two of you. Leave me out of it.” Still, he agrees to the drinking match under the condition that if he wins, then Tae-hoon has to quit working at the office. Commence soju!

Depressed, Kae-in calls out Won-ho (her employee) for drinks and gets very drunk, drowning her shame in alcohol. Rather than taking out her anger on Chang-ryul, she’s upset at herself for being so blind and stupid.

Nervous Won-ho takes this as his moment to confess his feelings for her. His comments don’t register with her, partly because it sounds like mere consolation words and partly because she’s in that mumbly, half-conscious phase of drunkenness. Perfect for wooing!

So it is that both Jin-ho and Kae-in wind up at a motel. Jin-ho has taken on the task of mopping up after Tae-hoon — a duty that he apparently trades off with Sang-jun — and deposits Tae-hoon on the bed. The jacket and shirt come off because Tae-hoon has unceremoniously vomited over himself.

Jin-ho leaves after scrawling a note on the mirror: “Congratulations on being fired. You go on the date!” (Meaning with Hye-mi.)

Meanwhile, Won-ho looks down on a sleeping Kae-in, and sneaks in a kiss. Then, getting carried away with his emotions, he starts to unbutton his pants — at which point Kae-in opens her eyes and groggily asks, “What are you doing?”

Won-ho bursts out, “I love you!” and jumps on top of her. Kae-in feels betrayed — she confided in him, and he takes advantage of her? — and lets her dissatisfaction be known. She chases him around the room, kicking and hitting as best she can in her tipsy condition.

She chases Won-ho out of the room, where he collides with Jin-ho before scurrying on. She looks up in recognition: “It’s the pervert.” He also recognizes her: “Proposal?” Mockingly, he notes that her groom has changed.

But he gets knocked off his high horse soon enough, because just then a voice cuts in, “Hyung!” It’s Tae-hoon, still a little addled from the liquor but conscious enough to have read Jin-ho’s parting message. In an anguished tone, he asks, “Do you mean what you wrote on the mirror? You can’t do this!”

Tae-hoon falls on his knees and begs, “Hyung! Please don’t do this! My only crime is loving!”

Kae-in naturally thinks this is a lover’s quarrel, and chides Jin-ho for being really mean. Jin-ho sighs that she’s got the wrong idea, but doesn’t bother to clarify the situation. As he leaves, Tae-hoon cries after him, “Don’t go!”

Feeling sorry for the heartbroken guy, Kae-in offers some consolation words: “They say that the one who loves more is the weaker one.” Clinging to this source of sympathy, Tae-hoon grabs her in a hug, crying, “Noona!”

(Law of Kdrama says: Just as there is a tacit rule that actors must be shown shirtless at least once in their first drama after army service, so must there also be a rule about idol stars and the same.)

Kae-in comes up to Jin-ho in the street and apologizes for misunderstanding in the morning. She makes grabby hands in reference to the butt incident, thinking that he must be clear of such an offense now because he’s gay. She sighs, “You have a difficult love.”

He retorts that hers is worse. He asks what she’s planning on doing today, to get an idea of how much she knows of her ex-boyfriend’s perfidy. She says her friend has a wedding, so he figures she’s still in the dark and starts to share a story of a “friend.” This woman didn’t know her boyfriend was marrying another woman, and showed up at the wedding. Kae-in laughs at that — who could be so dense?

She asks to know what happened to the woman, and Jin-ho answers, “You’ll find out.”

Having drowned his cowardly woes in drink, Chang-ryul stumbles to Kae-in’s house with the wedding invitation, which he slips inside the gate. He also leaves a voicemail message: “The one marrying In-hee tomorrow is me. Kae-in, I’m really sorry. I know this is asking too much but it’s my last request — don’t come to the wedding tomorrow. Please.”

Being lazy on top of spineless, Chang-ryul therefore thinks he has done his duty and assumes that Kae-in got the message (literally). And you know what happens when you assume!

The next day, In-hee is worried because she hasn’t heard from either Kae-in or Young-sun — and she’s sure she’d be hearing a LOT if they knew the truth. Chang-ryul promises her that he absolutely, positively took care of everything. But just to make extra-sure, he gives a photo of Kae-in to his secretary and orders him to keep her out of the venue.

And now another highlight: Jin-ho and Sang-jun come to the wedding as a networking opportunity, and on the way up to the wedding hall, Sang-jun fiddles with his zipper. He’d gone to the bathroom and his shirt got stuck, and he can’t get it free. Jin-ho takes over the task, and Sang-jun can’t help from cracking a joke at the compromising position, fake-moaning things like “Mmm, aw, good.”

The joke backfires when the elevator doors open silently behind Jin-ho, to reveal Young-sun (and her young son) standing in shock as Sang-jun continues his joke-groaning.

They don’t notice that their conversation just confirms Young-sun’s wayward thoughts, and Sang-jun asks what happened with Tae-hoon last night. Jin-ho says, “Don’t even ask. I took him to the motel, and thought I was gonna die.” Sang-jun laughs, “Two men at a motel — must’ve been fun.”

Of course he means this sarcastically, but tell that to Young-sun, who covers her son’s virgin ears in shock.

Young-sun arrives at the hall, and the instant she sees the bridal photos, she is furious. In-hee and Chang-ryul? Fuming, she storms into the room to confront the couple and tears into them. She asks In-hee scathingly, “Did you Botox your brain?” (which is an insult I’m totally tucking away for future use). In-hee has lots of men — why did she have to steal Kae-in’s?

In-hee seems to feel genuinely sorry to hurt her friend (though not sorry enough to have done the right thing, but whatevs, it’s twoo wuv!), and promises she’ll make it up to her. Young-sun says harshly, “Listen up. If I were you, I’d stop this wedding immediately.”

Kae-in had in fact missed seeing the wedding invitation and shows up at the wedding hall blissfully unaware. Young-sun does her best to waylay her, but as she is late, Kae-in is eager to get inside asap.

Her attention is distracted by the sight of Jin-ho, and mistakes the sight of Sang-jun wiping up spilled coffee for something much more intimate. Thinking of poor Tae-hoon and his heartbreak, she mutters, “Jerk. So he ditched his boyfriend because he found a new one.”

Young-sun tries again to reclaim Kae-in’s attention to tell her the truth, but this time another sight diverts her gaze — it’s the bridal party, walking toward the wedding hall to take their places.

Stricken with confusion, hurt, and disbelief, Kae-in follows them into the hall. In a daze, she walks down the aisle, dumbly. Young-sun tries to grab her aside, but Kae-in is lost in her thoughts and unaware of everything else but the couple at the altar.

With growing realization, Kae-in arrives behind the couple, eyes fixed on Chang-ryul, who stutters in shock at the sight of her. Then her eyes move toward the bride, who is doing her best to keep her face turned aside. Kae-in draws the veil up to uncover the bride, and looks at her friend’s familiar face.


As I said in yesterday’s first-impressions post, one of the highlights of Personal Taste is in the casting. Everyone is well-suited for their roles, and not only that, everyone brings a little something extra to these characters. I can say that with particular certainty because in this case, we have an original novel to compare with. (I don’t intend to make comparisons between the drama plot and the novel beyond this post, so rest assured I won’t belabor this point.) After reading about these characters on paper and building up an idea of what they would be like, even before most of these roles were cast, I can say that I’m happy with the actors who were brought onboard, and like them all more than I did in the book.

For example: Kae-in is cute and good-hearted, but also dense enough that she mistakes situations that often turn out badly because of her lack of perception. This is a trait that could make her unlikable (they don’t call that trope Too Stupid To Live for nothing) — and when a character is exceedingly dim, she can get aggravating. Think Park Shin-hye in You’re Beautiful — adorable, but good lord how dumb could Mi-nam be, right? Sohn Ye-jin makes Kae-in credible, and the misunderstandings are arranged so that they’re not entirely the fault of her lack of acuity.

Jin-ho is cool without being heartless — a great way to differentiate this role from his high-profile turn as Gu Jun-pyo. I love that he doesn’t merely repeat the Jun-pyo character here, even though it would have been easy to do so given that they share similar traits — cool, polished, prickly. Lee Min-ho has softened the edges to make him warmer and more likable than the novel’s Jin-ho.

The sidekicks and second leads I also find refreshingly funny — they’ve got the potential to steal scenes and infuse the drama with hilarity. Take Sang-jun, who on paper fulfills the typical kdrama role of good-natured best friend. You know — nice but not very special. But Jung Sung-hwa has this wonderful, warm, mischievous vibe, and the way he rolls with the elevator scene is pure fun. Kim Ji-suk, as I mentioned before, must be having a ball — his Chang-ryul is wimpy and weak, but also haughty and cocky. Yet through all this, he retains a sense of humor, and I don’t actually hate his character. In fact, I think he and In-hee are well-suited for each other. Jo Eun-ji has often been cast as the plain sidekick, but she does it well. And Im Seul-ong — his character is not unlike Tae-kyu of Wish Upon a Star with his immaturity and sense of the dramatic, and in both cases I enjoyed the comic flair.

Can’t wait to see where Episode 2 takes us!


142 April 5, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 2

by girlfriday

girlfriday here, making a comeback! Ever notice in Korea how nobody goes anywhere, but everyone makes a comeback?

Yes, that’s the size and relative roundness of Jin-ho’s butt, in case you were wondering. And yes, that’s pretty much the expression that accompanies the grabbing of said butt. This episode brings our leads together under one roof, and the hijinks? They do ensue. So far the tropes feel familiar, other than the main twist, but the characters are interesting and well-acted, so I’m aboard the train. Here’s hoping we go to new and exciting places!


Kae-in stands agape in front of her ex-boyfriend Chang-ryul and ex-roommate/ex-friend In-hee, stunned at their Affront to Human Decency, also known as their wedding.

Kae-in looks more hurt and betrayed by In-hee, who as her friend and you know, a human being, should seem more remorseful than if she had stolen your parking space or taken the last cookie. But before they can really have it out, Chang-ryul has security drag Kae-in and Young-sun out of the wedding.

The security team traps them in the sound booth, where of course Young-sun’s son happens to turn on the loudspeaker so that all the wedding chapels can hear Kae-in lament that the groom cheated on her with the bride, who she thought was her friend. Young-sun chimes in that In-hee’s no angel either; she’s been juggling a number of guys recently herself.

Both In-hee’s ceremony and another wedding stop in their tracks and the parties come storming over to the sound booth. Young-sun and Kae-in try to make a run for it, realizing the mess they’ve made, and In-hee comes huffing up, indignant that THEY’ve ruined HER wedding. Where do I even begin with the crazy?

Young-sun, being the only sane one here, slaps In-hee unceremoniously across the face. Nice. Back the other way? No? I’m fairly certain she deserves a second slap. Or a sixtieth.

Outside, Young-sun tries to cheer Kae-in up, but she just wants to be alone. Yeah, right after the fact is too soon to hear the buck-up-kiddos and it’s-all-for-the-betters. Kae-in trudges off to do a little moping on her own.

Meanwhile, Jin-ho has been trying to casually run into Choi Do-bin, his whole reason for coming to this fiasco of a wedding in the first place. He and Sang-jun notice someone else getting dismissed by him for trying to approach him at a non-work event, so Jin-ho decides to try a riskier tactic.

He rushes downstairs, finds the guy’s car, and crashes into it. At first I think he’s nuts (not a way to win a guy’s favor) but as it turns out, Do-bin is quite unflapped, and even recognizes Jin-ho as the architect who made a good pitch for the Dream Art Center. Jin-ho scores a meeting, and all it took was a dent in his car. Sneaky!

Back at the wedding of soulless bloodsuckers, Chang-ryul chases after In-hee, insisting that he did his part in telling Kae-in about the wedding. In-hee doesn’t believe him because she ain’t no fool, and decides to break it off and go on their honeymoon…alone. I hope you go someplace where they still have smallpox or malaria.

I have to say, Chang-ryul, while still being a dog, is definitely the more sympathetic of the two, as he is treated like a second-class citizen by both In-hee and his father, and is a hilarious wimp to boot.

Kae-in walks home, still in a daze from the events of the day. She zombie-walks through an intersection, unaware that she’s holding up traffic. The tears come flowing while cars honk at her, and Jin-ho sees her pass by.

Jin-ho and Sang-jun get back to the office, where they are greeted by a frantic Tae-hoon, who begs for his job back, offering up a carrot: he’s got a secret tip on the new museum project that Jin-ho is crashing cars trying to get. Is crazed and desperate going to be the only mode for this side character?

As Kae-in walks back home, her employee and “friend” Won-ho is hiding out from a couple of thugs who have come looking for him at her house. (Using the term “friend” loosely, as this girl seems to have surrounded herself with backstabbing vapidity and take-advantage-of-drunken-girl thievery as her friends. Between In-hee and Won-ho, who needs enemies?)

Kae-in doesn’t pick up Won-ho’s calls, but does see the collection letter once she gets home. He’s apparently borrowed the equivalent of $10,000 against the house, (don’t ask me how he managed to do so) leaving Kae-in neck-deep in debt and in danger of losing her home. Talk about a bad day.

Over at Jin-ho’s office, he and Sung-jun are getting the lowdown on the museum project from Tae-hoon. He tells them that according to his father, the head of the company who owns the museum fell in love with a han-ok (traditional Korean-style) house built by a renowned architect. He tried to hire said architect for the museum project, but the offer was declined. That architect is no longer in the picture, but the CEO still has lingering hopes for that style of architecture. Solution: if Jin-ho can get a peek at the original house that the exec fell in love with, he can design something inspired by the style, and win the contract. Ten guesses as to who the original architect is.

Kae-in broods in the dark, trying to convince herself that everything will work out. She may be on the dimmer side of Tuesday, but at least that keeps her positive and plucky rather than downtrodden.

To make matters worse, she gets a call from her father, informing her that he will be returning to Korea three months sooner than expected. Not only does this shorten her timeframe to save the house, but it seems to make her visibly uncomfortable on a personal level. One gets the impression from the very short conversation that Kae-in lives for Daddy’s approval but has yet to ever reach his impossible standards. She speaks very timidly and very formally to him, implying an emotional distance beyond the normal gruff disapproving father/underachieving daughter relationship.

In a sad little moment, Kae-in rushes over to In-hee’s empty room, forgetting for a moment the events of the day. Luckily, she does have one actual friend in the world, and Young-sun comes right over to be there for Kae-in. While unable to offer up any of her own money, Young-sun encourages her to eat up for her strength.

Sometimes I’m concerned that Kae-in is well, slow, but she’s not stupid so much as child-like, so maybe we can accept her as overly trusting, to the point of being the gullible patsy if people choose to take advantage of her. That seems to be the way that Young-sun sees her, so I’ll groove with that for a while until it starts defying all rational thought. When that happens, we will have words, Show.

We also find out from Young-sun that Kae-in lost her mother at a very young age, and her father loved his wife so much that he couldn’t face her death or the daughter she left behind. Okay, I’ve never really been good with this trope, because if you really had SO much capacity for love for another human being, how could you not have room in your heart for your own child who was born out of that love? Whatever, countless Kdramas over the past half century!

Back at the office, Jin-ho studies the few published pictures of the house, and Sang-jun arrives with his own backstory on the architect. The architect built the house for his wife whom he adored, and since her death he lives and teaches abroad, and his only daughter lives in the original house. Sang-jun thinks this’ll be a breeze, what with Jin-ho’s good looks and charm: just seduce your way into the house! He adds that since the mother was a legendary beauty, the daughter will naturally be a looker too. Jin-ho decides he’ll go the route of research, while Sang-jun should feel free to follow up on the daughter.

At home, Kae-in takes a moment to remember her mother as well, telling her that she wants her father to be proud, and is so afraid of disappointing him. She plays with a miniature replica of her mother’s rocking chair, where she used to rock little Kae-in to sleep in her arms. Scenes like this are why Sohn Ye-jin is perfect for this role. She can handle the drama and believable character pathos, beyond the cute and funny stuff.

We come back around to Kae-in in the morning, where she is speaking in a mysterious hushed tone to someone on the phone. So faced with insurmountable obstacles and debilitating self-doubt, who do you call? A phone-psychic! Ha. Bleary-eyed and dark saucers from talking all night, she asks the psychic for answers. The pc-bang-based quack blathers some obscurities about a savior who will come from the east. She asks, “Is it a man?” Psychic: “Not exactly a man.” Kae-in: “Then a woman?” Psychic: “Not exactly a woman.” Heh, wonder who that’ll be. Nice touch, to add her superstitious disposition into the mix.

She asks (just now!) how much the call costs, and at $1.50 per 30 seconds, she’s been completely had. She hangs up, just when Sang-jun comes knocking on her door, flowers in hand, ready to woo his way into the famed house.

Kae-in comes out looking like an alien-ghost, and crazily enough, the two recognize each other immediately. Sang-jun has two shocks: one at the sheer sight of her, then another when he realizes that she’s the wedding crasher from yesterday, the same furniture designer who clashed with Jin-ho over the form and function of dining tables.

Kae-in hides in mortification, but pops back out to ask if he came from the east. No, he did not, which rules him out as the foretold man/woman who will help her. Sang-jun runs off, thinking that she’s gone batty, with good reason, and that the house is a lost cause.

As if the last forty-eight hours haven’t been bad enough, Kae-in gets a call from the department store where she sells her furniture. She goes in to meet with the sales manager, and he tells her that they can no longer lease her the space due to low sales. She pleads, but the answer is no. The whole time, I can’t focus because I’m thinking, why is the manager a caricature-version of BOF‘s Gu Jun-pyo, with rolls of curly hair and an over-the-top ascot-laced suit? And then he gets up, and we see that his nametag reads: GU JUN-PYO. Ha.

Jin-ho decides to cash in on his promised meeting with Choi Do-bin at the art center, but runs into him on his way out to lunch with Chang-ryul’s dad. The two exchange passive-aggressive pleasantries, and Jin-ho says he’ll come back another time. What we have gathered about Chang-ryul’s father: he was once the right-hand man at the architecture firm that Jin-ho’s dad started, he took over the firm after Jin-ho’s father died, even kicking Jin-ho and his mother out of their family home. Also, we know that he is eeevil, by the scar on his eye and other such unsubtle clues.

Sung-jun sees them pass each other, and asks Jin-ho if maybe Chang-ryul’s dad is making another backdoor deal with the museum contract, just like he did with the Dream Art Center. He asks Jin-ho not to fight to the death on this one, just for personal revenge, considering this will be a make-or-break contract for their small firm. But Jin-ho is fired up, whether for his career or for his vendetta, and plans to see it through.

Looks like Chang-ryul’s father feels equally on edge with the competition, giving Chang-ryul an evil-version of a pep talk, involving a kick in the shins, belittling, berating, and a threat to exile him to China if he loses the contract to Jin-ho. Should be a good fight, since Chang-ryul is now equally motivated to do well, even if for bad reasons.

Kae-in and Young-sun are on their way back from the department store in a truck loaded with all of Kae-in’s unsold furniture, when they see Won-ho lurking around in front of her house. It just so happens that Jin-ho is also doing some lurking of his own, trying to take some pictures of the house, to little avail since not much is striking or visible from the outside.

Won-ho sees her coming and bolts. Kae-in gives chase. Jin-ho follows. That may seem weird, but then, have you ever just started running because someone is chasing you, even if you have no reason to? Maybe it’s a reflex.

Halfway through the chase Kae-in twists her ankle on her high-heels (does she have to be both dim AND clumsy, Show?), and asks Jin-ho to catch the guy for her. He obliges and manages to corner Won-ho, as Kae-in catches up.

Won-ho admits to spending all of the money, and has no explanation or platitudes to give her. Kae-in starts off yelling, then pleading, but by the end, she feels more sorry for Won-ho, asking if he’s been eating.

They relocate to a neighborhood restaurant, where Kae-in BUYS the weasel lunch, and Jin-ho listens in on the conversation. Kae-in tells Won-ho that her dad is returning sooner than expected, and that she needs the money fast. Kae-in: “It must be pretty dire, if I listed the spare bedroom up for rent at the realtor’s office today.” At this, Jin-ho’s wheels start turning.

Won-ho finishes his meal, then says he’s going to the bathroom, and sneaks off. Kae-in, the girl who would believe the sun will rise in the south if you told her convincingly enough, lets him go, and is then surprised to find that he’s run off. Jin-ho: “Are you an idiot?” Heh, well, points for directness.

He notices that her ankle is pretty bad, so despite her protests about hospital fees, he takes her to the hospital and even pays for the visit. Kae-in is definitely wary of his motivations for being so kind, while Jin-ho tries to teach her to just say thank you and be gracious. He tells her that instead of paying him back, she could let him see the house.

Jin-ho says he’s looking for a new place and happened to overhear her conversation with Won-ho. Kae-in goes from suspicious to incredulous. A man! And a woman! Living under one roof! We can’t have that. She refuses to let him even see the place.

They’ve reached her door and Jin-ho keeps trying to convince her, to no avail. But Young-sun answers the door and as soon as she sees him, without even knowing the situation, she tells him to wait outside and whatever it is, she’ll persuade Kae-in to change her mind. Can’t say I’d do any differently if he were standing on my doorstep.

Inside, Kae-in fills her in on Jin-ho’s offer to be her roommate, and Young-sun can’t imagine why she’d turn down this perfect opportunity. She needs money and a roommate; he has money and needs a room.

Besides, Young-sun reminds her: HE’S GAY, remember? To him, you might as well be an inanimate object. Kae-in wonders if that’s really how it works, and starts to warm up to idea, as the two girls imagine Jin-ho as the picture-perfect gay roommate, cooking elaborate meals, being the best shopping companion, and even doing facials together.

This persuades Kae-in to give it a chance, so Young-sun lets him in to take a look at the house. Kae-in is still very apprehensive about him, and he’s not exactly a fan of hers either, so the two are edgy and cold to each other. But Jin-ho is struck by the house. Frankly, so am I because I dig the indoor/outdoor and modern/traditional fusion going on in that house.

Back at the office, Jin-ho tells Sang-jun that he’ll be living with Kae-in from now on. Sang-jun can’t believe he managed it, and wonders if Kae-in has lusty feelings for Jin-ho, since she wouldn’t as a single woman let just any man into her home. Sang-jun tells Jin-ho that if the situation should arise, he should just take one for the team and go for it. Jin-ho assures him that won’t be happening. Oh, you don’t even know the half of it.

Meanwhile, the girls discuss the deliciousness of Jin-ho’s butt, as Young-sun can’t get enough of this hottie that she can never have. Kae-in does agree that he has a derriere to write home about, having grabbed a handful in the previous episode.

The four of them meet at the house to sign the lease, and basically Sang-jun and Young-sun facilitate the whole deal, while Jin-ho and Kae-in remain cold and hostile towards each other. Once the seals are stamped, Jin-ho’s true colors come out, as he insists Kae-in adhere to some cleanliness rules. Kae-in, not to be outdone, says fine, then he has to abide by her spatial rules—not being in restricted areas—or else any body parts in unsanctioned areas will be lopped off.

Young-sun and Sang-jun hold them back from what would have devolved into fisticuffs, and they manage to seal the deal. Sang-jun dotes on Jin-ho as a younger brother, but his gestures, like putting his hand on Jin-ho’s knee, help to solidify the girls’ belief that they are a couple. The boys don’t notice, and go about setting up Jin-ho’s room.

And then to really solidify the misconception that they are gay, Jin-ho cuts his leg on a piece of furniture, and here are the things the girls hear from outside the room, complete with R-rated sound effects:

Sang-jun: “Take your pants off…Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle…Okay, I’m going in…”

I know this is beside the point, but there’s no way that Sang-jun would be the top in that relationship. Just sayin’.

Young-sun just thinks their relationship is adorable, but Kae-in fills her in on Jin-ho’s motel tryst with his OTHER boyfriend, Tae-hoon, a beast of a guy who he mistreats terribly, and that’s only the guys they know about, so god knows how many men he’s actually dating. Kae-in thinks she’s just going to have to set some ground rules, while Young-sun wonders when she’ll get to see the beastly one.

Over at Casa de Backstab, In-hee returns from the honeymoon to her new place, only Chang-ryul’s been living there since their not-a-wedding because his father kicked him out. They bicker and yell, and at one point they’re stripping off their pajamas while yelling, and I thought for sure it would lead to a bow-chicka-bow-wow place, but apparently their hatred runs too deep. Honestly, you guys kind of deserve each other, so I wouldn’t mind. Now whether you deserve to be happy is a whole other question.

Jin-ho takes a tour of the house, and ends up in Daddy’s office, where he sneaks a peek at some blueprints. Then, while Jin-ho fields a call from his mom, Kae-in creeps up to the room in shadow, and scares the bejesus out of him and me.

She revs up the chainsaw (HA) that she has in her hands, serving as a reminder that all body parts in violation of the rules will be chopped off. Jin-ho screams like a little girl and runs for his life, while I die of laughter and watch the scene again.

And then, the craziest thing happens. In-hee shows up at Kae-in’s house, suitcase in tow, expecting to get her old room back. Hh? Wh? She actually says that since Kae-in ruined her wedding, she didn’t really end up with her boyfriend, so the past is in the past. The past? As in YESTERDAY? Is it possible you were raised by howler monkeys?

Kae-in can’t believe she’s dared to come here, and thank god that she isn’t folding in this situation because I would have to disown her. The argument goes from icy to shouting to full-on girly hair-pulling, which gets Jin-ho out of his room to complain about the noise, since he can hear everything.

In-hee can’t believe Kae-in rented the room so quickly, and to a man, and proceeds to tell Kae-in how she should live her life! And I am totally going to reach into my tv and pull the lips right off this girl!

Kae-in counters that In-hee must be interested in her new roommate because she wants to steal another guy from her, and In-hee just says matter-of-factly that she could get any guy to say yes to her. Well, is that a thing to be proud of?

But Kae-in, confident this time that she can shut In-hee up, announces that she can try a thousand years to seduce Jin-ho. It won’t work…because HE’S GAY.

So far, having not read the novel, and staying away from any and all spoilers, the ride is mostly predictable, with the only twist being the presumption of homosexuality. But we’re only two in, so I’m hoping there are more comic surprises and new twists in story conventions to be had, as I do enjoy the characters (mostly the main four).

I’m relying on the developing relationship between the leads to be fresh and full of new problems, which I think it can deliver on. Even if this drama were lazy and rehashed Coffee Prince-esque angst, it has to diverge at some point because its premise approaches the gay question from a different angle, so hopefully they’ll be mining new territory, instead of side-stepping the issue.


94 April 8, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 3

by javabeans

(Sniiiiiiiiff. Mm, eau de Min-ho.)

MUCH improved, I thought.

After the first week, I thought Personal Taste wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but it was about as good as I expected. I enjoyed it for the zippy situations and hilarious cast. The biggest complaint from fans, however, was regarding the drama’s editing; they felt that despite solid acting and a fun plot, the erratic editing was ruining the flow rather than enhancing it. After that wave of complaints emerged, I’d wondered if the producers would work on it, and it feels like they have. (Editing isn’t noticeable in an obvious way, but when something is a little off and you can’t quite figure out why, often it’s not that the content is bad but that it’s strung together in a bumpy way.)


Personal Taste OST – “빗물이 내려서” (Because it rains) by Kim Tae-woo [ Download ]

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After dropping that bomb about Jin-ho’s sexual orientation, Kae-in sarcastically challenges In-hee to try seducing Jin-ho — with her boundless charms, maybe she can get him to switch sides. In-hee has the nerve to be offended that Kae-in rented “her” room to Jin-ho. In In-hee’s World, all events must transpire to attend to HER needs, don’tcha kno! Kae-in retorts that she’s more comfortable living with someone who doesn’t lie or backstab.

In-hee twists that statement to rub salt in the wound — Kae-in’s attachment to comfort is why she can never get a guy. Rather than fixating on In-hee stealing her man, Kae-in ought to think of how she got her man stolen from her! Yeah, that’s like saying it would be In-hee’s fault for running her face into my fist, which is the scenario I’m contemplating, frankly.

This whole encounter is difficult for Kae-in, but she perseveres through her stammering and insists that In-hee leave. In-hee replies, bald as you please, that she has nowhere else to go as though Kae-in had better not dare turn her away.

(Seriously, In-hee’s a wench of the first order, but I don’t mind it because she’s unlikable in an entertaining more than aggravating way. It’s delicious fun to hate her and imagine her getting her just deserts. Somehow I don’t think this drama will invoke piranha tanks or acid showers of toxic goo, but that can’t stop me from fantasizing. She’s so ridiculous that rather than getting upset about her, we’re better off just thinking of her as a beautiful, snooty alien arrived from Planet Narcissus who is determined to make everything about her, her, her!)

The most In-hee will concede is to say she’ll give Kae-in some time to think, ignoring Kae-in’s declaration that she doesn’t need time, because she doesn’t want to have anything to do with In-hee anymore.

Jin-ho has come out to watch the last part of the exchange (and In-hee sees him before leaving). How much do I love the ridiculousness of the next sentence I am about to write?: Kae-in jumps to see him, then picks up her chainsaw and tries to make a casual exit.

Jin-ho doesn’t let her off the hook so quickly, and asks what she meant about her statement: “Who’s gay?” Kae-in mistakes the reason for his ire, thinking it’s because she let out a secret that he wants to hide. She apologizes, then wonders, “But can you really hide it? I’ve already caught on.” She doesn’t mind his sexual preference, but she does express some distaste at his playboy tendencies, going from one guy to the next so easily.

Jin-ho thinks back to all the compromising situations at the hotel and the wedding hall, understanding how Kae-in came to that conclusion. He finds this all distasteful, not to mention embarrassing to be mistaken for a gay man when he’s very much straight. He’d rather not get further entangled with this unsavory woman, and immediately packs his bags. He texts Kae-in his bank account number, into which she can deposit the balance of his rent.

Caught off-guard, Kae-in tries to stop Jin-ho and discuss the matter with him, but he leaves without further ado.

At work, Sang-jun assumes that Jin-ho’s gloominess is because Kae-in likes him and made a move. Jin-ho starts to set him straight, but has a hard time even saying the words “She thinks I’m gay.” He just explains that he has decided to move out. So what if he doesn’t have access to the house anymore? They’ll win the museum account on the strength of their ideas! Oh, how naive and innocent our baby lamb is.

Sang-jun does not think this is a wise idea, but instead of trying to plead with Jin-ho, he uses reverse psychology. Sighing pathetically, he agrees, saying they can go head to head with Mirae Construction, even though their rivals are bound to use Kae-in’s house (named “Sanggojae”) as their concept. They won’t be able to use that idea, but hey, if they fail to win the bid, so what? Jin-ho can just close down his firm, and Sang-jun can always work at a supermarket. No problem.

(The point is made, but Jin-ho’s not about to give in just yet.)

Kae-in relates last night’s encounter to Young-sun, who scolds her for talking openly about Jin-ho’s orientation when he hadn’t even identified himself as such. It’s no wonder he got offended at her comments.

Kae-in feels awful now, but he has been rejecting her calls so she doesn’t have a chance to apologize. She decides to forget about the roommate situation, since it’s not like she loved living with him, either. All she has to do is catch Won-ho, and that’ll take care of her money problems. Right? Right??

That proves easier said than done. Kae-in trawls PC rooms, manhwa stores, and even the subway for Won-ho. No dice. Faced with the prospect of not finding Won-ho after all, Kae-in thinks back to the glimpses of Jin-ho’s nicer side, like how he took her to the hospital for her ankle sprain. Maybe she should try harder to get him back.

In-hee is another displaced former friend of Kae-in, who has resorted to crashing at the jimjilbang (sauna). She gets into a clash of words with some opinionated ajummas. She’s used to enjoying haughty upper-class privilege, but In-hee clearly has not yet learned the rules of the world down here with the common folk, where the ajumma reigns supreme.

Jin-ho and Sang-jun brainstorm ideas for the museum, trying to piece together a plan based on what they know about the Sanggojae. It’s difficult work, and Sang-jun urges Jin-ho to make up with Kae-in. Who knows, if he plays his cards right he might just end up Professor Park’s son-in-law.

Thus when Kae-in drops by as a visitor, Sang-jun is very pleased, wanting Jin-ho to make nice. They usher her out of the room quickly to keep her from glimpsing the drawings based on her house.

Kae-in apologizes for her careless statements and begs Jin-ho to forgive her and come back. She presents him with a gift, saying that it’s to thank him for paying her hospital bill. Inside is a little carved wooden desk and chair.

Jin-ho accepts the gift (which she swears isn’t a bribe), but it doesn’t affect his decision to move out: “Thank you for the goodbye gift.”

Next, Hye-mi bursts into the office. (Tae-hoon’s finger-horns warn them that her mood is dark.) She’s angry that Jin-ho left home with just a note — how could he leave her and his mother like that?

Jin-ho answers that it would be uncomfortable for her to live with him, and doesn’t look good in others’ eyes, either, ignoring her protests that it’s not uncomfortable at all. He adds that it could present a problem for her later when she marries, as Korean men are narrow-minded and chauvinistic enough that they have no problem personally sleeping around or visiting bar girls and prostitutes, but feel that a woman sharing a house with a man is an affront to decency. Or maybe that last part was just implied.

To grease the wheels for the museum project, Mirae’s President Han (Chang-ryul’s father) drops in on the planning director, Choi Do-bin. In a thinly veiled attempt at bribery, he presents him with one of his own prized paintings as a gift.

Do-bin is not moved by bribery and politely declines, thanking the man for the thought. However, as he cannot make a business decision on personal feelings, he will only accept the gift in spirit.

Meanwhile, Chang-ryul has come to the museum on a dual mission: first is to attend the museum project briefing, and the other is to catch a glimpse of In-hee.

While Chang-ryul lurks in the hallway, he runs into Jin-ho and Sang-jun, also here for the briefing. As usual the foursome can’t resist trading barbs. They’re here on business, though, so Jin-ho and Sang-jun take the higher road and walk away to join the briefing session.

Do-bin presents the plans for the Dahm Museum, outlining its extensive scope and their intent to preserve a Korean flavor in the building. All the bidders have a week to prepare their presentations.

As Do-bin’s trusted right-hand employee, In-hee is also part of this project, and Chang-ryul attempts to talk to her after the meeting. She breezes right by him, though she does stop to address Jin-ho politely. In a modest tone (because she’s a fakey faker who fakes) she apologizes for her rude behavior last night — and the words “last night” immediately ruffle Chang-ryul’s feathers. What does that mean?

Jin-ho enjoys pissing him off further by responding in equally vague (but suggestive) terms, saying that last night “made quite an impression.”

Temper provoked, Chang-ryul roughly grabs Jin-ho’s lapels and demands to know what’s going on between them. Unruffled, Jin-ho answers, “Curious? But it seems like your In-hee wants me to keep last night a secret.” Ooh, burn. If only the truth were a fraction as juicy as the implication.

Chang-ryul takes a wild swing at Jin-ho, who smoothly sidesteps and twists his arm behind him. Chang-ryul vows to completely crush Jin-ho in the upcoming competition, but Jin-ho answers, “If I thought that would happen, I wouldn’t have come here.”

President Han eyes his son’s antics with dissatisfaction, and tells his son that he’s always told him to view his lessers with pity — thereby effectively insulting both his son and Jin-ho at once. Efficient, he. Pointedly, he adds that they ought not mess with someone who’s always getting his nose bloodied by them, like an idiot.

Jin-ho knows the dig is aimed at him, and replies that he has no problem getting a bloody nose in a fair fight. However, getting one when your opponent hits you with a rock hidden in his fist is unfair. So this time, “I ask you to come at me with your bare fists.”

In-hee’s impressed with Jin-ho’s comportment, and so is Do-bin, watching the exchange from a distance.

President Han has noticed that Do-bin took an interest in Jin-ho’s presentation for the Dream Art Center, and warns Chang-ryul to be alert. Chang-ryul’s not worried since his father’s great at lobbying (read: backdoor-dealing), but President Han informs him that the method isn’t effective with Do-bin.

The president gets his son’s attention with mention of In-hee — despite his post-wedding distaste of his son’s bride, now he sees that she is close to Do-bin, and President Han is always looking for advantages to exploit. He comes to an understanding with Chang-ryul that if this Dahm Museum project turns out well for them, he won’t oppose the relationship. Chang-ryul jumps at this, and asks to handle the project. He wants to go out “with bare fists” to challenge Jin-ho.

As if the stakes weren’t high enough, Jin-ho and Sang-jun are called to the hospital when one of the construction workers gets into a minor accident. The foreman doesn’t hold Jin-ho to blame and the injury was small, but Jin-ho feels guilty because he’d pushed the foreman to keep productivity high, and the worker had dozed out of exhaustion.

Furthermore, Sang-jun tells him that the client for whom they were building just went bankrupt and ran off to the Philippines. If their financial situation weren’t dire enough, this really drives the point home. With no reason to stand on his pride now, Jin-ho decides to return to the Sanggojae, which Sang-jun heartily approves.

What’s particularly funny is that Sang-jun believes that Kae-in has designs on Jin-ho, since Jin-ho’s too embarrassed to share the whole “She thinks I’m gay” bit. So in effect, he’s pimping out his buddy for their business, and keeps prodding Jin-ho to do it for the greater good, so to speak.

Kae-in is surprised — but happy — to have Jin-ho come back home. Not enticed by Kae-in’s offer of ramyun for dinner, he takes her out for some much-needed grocery shopping. (Kae-in’s place is strewn with empty bowls of cup ramyun, among other junk.)

They do fight over paying, however — neither feels they ought to foot the bill, and neither has brought a wallet. With a sigh, Jin-ho pays with a mobile pass, which must be a bit of product placement (he scans his cell phone, which reads his account information) but at least they’ve taken some effort to work it into the plot.

He insists on a massive cleaning session, because he can’t live in such a pigsty. Kae-in takes this to mean he’s definitely moving back, and he agrees to stay as long as she promises to say nothing further about him being gay.

The cleaning starts out with Jin-ho ordering Kae-in around (and I enjoy how she keeps trying to find shortcuts in the cleaning process, because it’s totally what I would do). At a certain point, he takes over the mopping to show her how it’s done, and ends up finishing the job.

Kae-in has taken advantage of this opportunity to slip away to her room, where Jin-ho finds her looking at a miniature set of furniture made out of wood, similar to the pieces she gave him. This was her mother’s creation, and she’d been a furniture designer, too.

In-hee reclaims the honeymoon apartment by moving in when Chang-ryul is out, then changing the door code. When he calls her in a tizzy, she points out that while he may have bought the house, she bought the things in it. (And… I think that still gives him more right than her to be inside?)

She reminds him that he’d promised that everything of his would become hers. He points out that that was when they were going to marry, and insists that they ought to redo the marriage, then.

That night, Young-sun drops by, amazed at the clean house. Happy to take advantage, she also urges Kae-in to get along well with Jin-ho so she can ask him to model for her, as she photographs gay models. Young-sun is here to give her Won-ho’s address, which she tracked down with some help from her cop husband.

Kae-in heads to the bathroom to wash up, and happens to walk in on Jin-ho just as he’s wrapping himself in a towel. Or just before, I should say.

Both stare in shock, and Kae-in ducks out quickly. But she pops her head back in right away to assure him that she’s not wearing contacts or glasses, so she can’t see anything anyway.

This is where I give props to the set designers for working in the bathroom in a way that facilitates moments like this and also works with the Korean style of the house — the doors swing open and have no locks. Frankly, if I lived in a house with that kind of bathroom, I’d be wary of bringing in an opposite-sex roommate, too. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using the bathroom without an elaborate system of signals (like the all-purpose sock-on-the-door college trick) warning anything from “Open” to “Knock before entry” to “Turn away, or this will be very embarrassing for us both.”

Jin-ho accepts Kae-in’s excuse of having bad eyesight, but later that night he hears her giggling with Young-sun in loud whispers. She says she couldn’t see very well without her glasses, “But I saw enough!”

Young-sun asks for details, so Kae-in answers, “He looked all right. Not bad.” Jin-ho’s a little gratified at that. Young-sun says knowingly, “Not that. That.”

Suddenly tensing, Jin-ho understands what she’s asking and looks down at, uh, Little Jin-ho, waiting for her answer. We can’t see her expression but we can imagine her gesture as Kae-in replies, “About this much?” At Young-sun’s disappointed response, Jin-ho is affronted. How dare she insult his manhood — literally!

Jin-ho gets a worried call from Hye-mi regarding his missing mother, so he runs out to go find her. Luckily he knows her well enough to track her down to a certain bar, where he joins her. He apologizes for not telling her where he’s been staying and explains that he’s been busy with work.

Mom reminisces about when he was younger and his father was still alive. We can tell they have a loving relationship, as Jin-ho treats his mother as a perfect doting son ought. They both have wistful memories of their happy family life when his father was around, and Mom looks out at the Seoul skyline wondering where their old house is. Jin-ho promises to get it back for her.

Kae-in finds the address given to her by Young-sun, and makes her way to see Won-ho’s grandmother, who lives in a shabby room in a worn-down home. The woman thinks Kae-in is the volunteer who regularly comes by to help, and asks her to read a letter to her, thinking it’s a note her beloved grandson has left for her.

The bleakness of Won-ho’s grandmother’s situation hits Kae-in, and she is overwhelmed with pity. She opens the notice to find a loan payment reminder, and as she feels too bad to tell the old woman, she invents the contents of a faux-letter as she reads. It starts, “Grandmother, how are you? I’m so busy these days that I couldn’t see you. I’m sorry.”

On her way out, Kae-in leaves Won-ho a message to tell him she’ll find a way to get the money. While his behavior is hardly acceptable, there’s no point trying to squeeze blood out of a stone, right?

That evening, it’s time for some equal-opportunity boundary-infringing! Jin-ho returns home from an office dinner to hear Kae-in cry out. Thinking she’s in trouble, he bursts into the bathroom, and finds HER just out of the shower. (To be fair, she still has the upper hand in this scenario, as she is wearing a towel and he was not.)

Reminding Kae-in of the indignity he suffered the other night, Jin-ho adds that her body’s hardly interesting to him, anyway. He means this as an insult to her figure, but of course she takes it the other way and interprets this as a natural comment from a gay man. Even when he retorts, “Sorry, but aside from you I do have a lot of interest in women,” Kae-in doesn’t believe him. There’s no need to act straight in front of her!

Since he’s here, Kae-in asks for some assistance. She has dropped her contact lens, and with her blurry eyesight she can’t find it. Thinking he’s not interested in her appearance, she doesn’t bother to change her clothing — but he’s not completely indifferent after all, as he discovers when he comes face-to-face with her, um, assets. Or should I say, face-to-boobs, face-to-legs, and face-to-butt… Yo, eyes up here, buddy.

She’s not immune to his physical presence, either, as she discovers when she slips and he catches her. The tension grows when he leans closer, reaching out to touch her arm. He’s only doing it to pluck the lens from her shoulder, but the moment has been felt by both. After he hands it over, he turns to make a quick getaway.

Kae-in’s stomach growls, though, so she pesters him to go out to eat with her. She wants kalbi, which she attributes to the kalbi smell from his jacket (a remnant of his office dinner). She offers to buy, calling it a roommate bonding activity.

Jin-ho is not at all interested, and retreats to his room. I find Kae-in adorable as she sits outside his room, sighing pathetically:

Kae-in: “Aigoo, I’m starving. If he’s not going to eat with me he shouldn’t have smelled like food, the smell can’t fill me up. What kind of roommate is that cruel? I’m so starving I could die. There’s no rice at home and I’m dying for some beef, and it’s pathetic to go eat by myself. How great would it be if I had a roommate to go eat with? They don’t sell kalbi in single portions…”

Faced with putting up with Kae-in’s whining all night long or putting up with it only through dinner, he chooses the latter.

Drinking soju with her food, Kae-in is thoroughly drunk toward the end of dinner, and starts to mumble about Chang-ryul and how he called her a rain-soaked puppy that followed him around. She declares loudly, “Men are all the same! They only think the really pretty, sexy women are women!” But she remembers enough to add, “But I’m so happy you’re not a man like that.”

Jin-ho suffers through this, but just then, in walks Choi Do-bin. Jin-ho rises and bows respectfully, and the other man acknowledges him before heading to his own table.

Jin-ho starts thinking fast — clearly Do-bin is here on business. Deciding that it’s best to leave asap, he stuffs Kae-in’s mouth with food to hurry her up so they can go. Not picking up on his urgency, Kae-in slurs on about how he’s so nice.

Kae-in gets up to use the restroom, at which point Jin-ho is delivered a drink from the ajumma one table over. The woman raises her glass and winks at Jin-ho, which he does his best to ignore.

Alas, someone else has witnessed this exchange, and in bursts a thuggy-looking man who picks a fight with Jin-ho, calling him a gigolo who takes advantage of women. That’s his wife he’s flirting with!

Kae-in stumbles back in time to see this and boldly defends Jin-ho, insisting drunkenly, “Our Jin-ho isn’t like that!” The thug ignores her and raises a fist to throw a punch, so she bursts out wildly, “I said he’s not like that! This man is GAAAAY!”

There are few ways this could be more mortifying. Jin-ho is especially horrified, as Do-bin has seen the whole thing. Grimly, Jin-ho leaves.

Kae-in belatedly realizes what she’s done, and apologizes for breaking her promise again. She starts to cry, and sobs that she was afraid he’d get beaten up. Thoroughly disgusted with herself, she starts beating herself over the head and calling herself names.

At her excessive self-loathing, he sighs that it’s enough — there’s no use crying over spilled milk.

Kae-in falls asleep on the park bench, and Jin-ho has no problem walking off, leaving her there. In fact, he makes it almost all the way home before he has second thoughts and turns back in resignation. He returns to the park bench and rouses Kae-in, and then carries her home when her ankle injury acts up again.

Part of Kae-in’s charm is her eternal optimism and good cheer, which she demonstrates on the ride home by singing lustily, not noticing how her wild movements make it difficult for him to carry him.

She’s calmer by the time they reach her neighborhood, and she sighs, “Your back is warm. My father’s back is probably warm, too.” He picks up on the wording, asking if her father has never carried her. She answers that nobody has.

Recalling a childhood memory of watching her father work — his back turned to her — she says that she’d always thought a person’s back was only cold, but she’s glad that Jin-ho’s isn’t. Symbolism! Her voiceover (which reads like a diary entry) notes that while Jin-ho still seems a little cool, she’s confident he’ll begin warming up soon. Hence, front = cold, while back = warm.

Once home, Kae-in falls asleep where he drops her on the couch. Jin-ho urges her to sleep in her room, and sees her leg perched at an awkward angle. She looks about ready to fall of the couch, so he prods her to wake. When she doesn’t, he lifts the leg to place it at a more comfortable angle, which causes her to stir.

She eyes him suspiciously at first, then cheers up. If any other man had just touched her let like that she would have reacted, but she’s happy that there’s no problem with Jin-ho. Because of The Gay, of course!

When a leg cramp strikes, Kae-in turns baleful eyes to Jin-ho, and I’m pretty sure she actually knows she’s manipulating him. She’s no In-hee, but as with the exaggerated way she moaned about being hungry, I’d bet she does know how to twist him around her finger just a little bit.

Thus Jin-ho is roped into giving her a leg massage, which she enjoys with great gusto. In fact, her graphic cries of pleasure sound pretty much like sex moans, making it uncomfortable for Jin-ho to continue.

Last but not least, Kae-in thanks him for his help, and gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up to her new gay roommate.


Like I mentioned, this episode was a lot better than last week’s. With Episode 3, the drama has gone from enjoyable-but-flawed to plain enjoyable. Not that I had a problem with them — they were full of laugh-out-loud moments. However, they did feel rather disjointed, and in between the funny beats were a lot of awkwardly placed scenes that felt like they were there out of necessity, but not necessarily worked in with any grace.

This episode felt much smoother, and much more like what we might expect. The music usage has also improved (perhaps with the exception of the first scene, which was much too heavy). The comic theme songs are a lot of fun, though, particularly that one that speeds up in accordance with Kae-in’s orgasmic leg-massage moaning.

It may sound like Kae-in’s constant misunderstandings about Jin-ho being gay are getting repetitive, but I assure you that it’s a source of constant hilarity for me. Jin-ho has to put up with her repeated misconceptions about his sexuality — and each time it’s just a little harder for him to endure — so it’s worth hearing her harp about The Gay just to see his disgruntled reactions to it.


134 April 12, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 4

by girlfriday

While Personal Taste is generally playing it safe in the traditional man-will-teach-bumbling-woman-how-to-live setup, we do start to see some cracks in Jin-ho’s armor, which makes me warm up to him a little more. Nobody likes a know-it-all who actually knows it all. In this episode the roommates start to bond, and we finally get an emotional connection between them that makes a future attraction credible. The pace is still a little awkward and not quite as zippy as one would like for a drama of this tone, but the character moments keep it moving from scene to scene. Not as funny as the last episode, but perhaps more serious and emotionally engaging, toilet humor notwithstanding.


After Jin-ho’s (ahem) satisfying foot massage, Kae-in drops dead on the couch and Jin-ho goes into his room, trying to tell himself to calm down and not flare up at her for her latest GAAAY blunder in front of Do-bin. This is, of course, for the sake of the project and in no way to spare Kae-in’s feelings.

The next morning, Kae-in wakes up on the couch and remembers her very public declaration of Jin-ho’s sexual orientation.

She fears the wrath of Jin-ho, so when she hears him come out of his room, she falls to the floor and pretends to still be asleep. Jin-ho tries to wake her, notes her increasing weirdness, and leaves. Once she thinks it’s safe, Kae-in heads to the bathroom…and Jin-ho uses that opportunity to sneak up on her, swinging open the windows to the bathroom and scaring her. Wasn’t one set of naked shower encounters enough to teach you kids to knock?

Jin-ho asks if she has anything she wants to apologize for. Kae-in chooses the way of cowardice in her hangover haze, and tells him that when she drinks she doesn’t remember anything…yeah, that excuse never works. Jin-ho looks annoyed and skeptical, but lets it go for the time being.

Jin-ho and Sang-jun go to the site of the future Dahm Museum, and Sang-jun talks about all the different parts of the complex while Jin-ho air-doodles a design. Sang-jun mentions, “that person seems to like you.” Jin-ho jumps to a gay conclusion, blubbering that a man can’t be attracted to another man! This leaves Sang-jun perplexed, as he was talking about Kae-in. Methinks the man doth protest too much, eh? God, how much would I love this drama if it ended with: “And then Jin-ho and Sang-jun lived happily ever after.” Someone get on that fanfic!

They run into President Han and exchange more pleasantries as veiled threats, and Jin-ho takes a jab, saying that his father’s only mistake was in trusting his right-hand man. President Han doesn’t seem to be the type to be shocked when confronted with his own evilness so for today it’s another draw.

Later that day, In-hee and Hye-mi both show up at Jin-ho’s office, eyeing each other up and down like the territorial predators they are. Hye-mi announces herself as Jin-ho’s fiancé, which of course has In-hee doing a double take. She’s thinking, either that girl is delusional, a beard, or both.

When Jin-ho arrives, he is extremely deferential and polite to In-hee (as Do-bin’s right-hand woman), while ignoring Hye-mi and her feeble attempts at posturing. In-hee is here to invite Jin-ho to a gala where he’ll meet a lot of professional contacts, and she’s come in person to thank him for his participation in the awkward situation with Chang-ryul at the museum briefing.

In-hee also tips him off to Do-bin’s habit of walking around the gallery on days when he doesn’t have afternoon appointments, so Jin-ho drives her back to the museum in hopes of running into Do-bin. On the way, Jin-ho says he wants to properly thank In-hee for her help, so she suggests he buy dinner. He readily accepts, causing her a moment’s pause: is this man really gay? Isn’t it possible he’s just being polite, and not casting off MEN to be into YOU?

When they reach the museum, Chang-ryul is there waiting for In-hee, and he witnesses them arrive together and exchange phone numbers.

Exactly how many love triangles are there going to be here? There’s Jin-ho/Kae-in/In-hee, Jin-ho/In-hee/Chang-ryul, Hye-mi/Jin-ho/In-hee, In-hee/Chang-ryul/Kae-in, then presumably later Jin-ho/Kae-in/Chang-ryul, not to mention the misunderstood Jin-ho/Sang-jun/Tae-hoon one. My head is spinning from the merry-go-round of crushes.

In the men’s room, Jin-ho practices an explanation to Do-bin about Kae-in’s GAAAY outburst. He starts with, “What you heard last night about my preference…” then tries, “I don’t like men….” And finally, he shouts, “I’m not gay!” just as another man walks into the restroom. Heh. I do enjoy an embarrassed Jin-ho; not going to lie.

Jin-ho strategically “runs into” Do-bin in the gallery, and they have coffee in Do-bin’s office. Jin-ho starts his rehearsed rendition of “How I Am Not Gay,” but Do-bin cuts him off, saying that he doesn’t care about personal matters, and just wants Jin-ho to do his best for the design. Jin-ho offers some random unsolicited curatorial advice, suggesting a Kandinsky instead of the Klimt. Do-bin’s curiosity is piqued by this strange young man, and perhaps there are…sparks? Or is that indigestion? Hard to tell.

Young-sun comes over to visit Kae-in, bringing her a fresh batch of shellfish from her mom, and Kae-in confesses to messing up yet again. Young-sun can’t believe she blabbed about Jin-ho in such a public way and they worry what Jin-ho might do in retaliation this time.

Young-sun decides that Kae-in needs to offer up a grand gesture. She drags Kae-in to the grocery store, and goes with the old adage, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” citing her husband’s proclivity to zoom toward happiness when she makes dinner. Young-sun suggests that Kae-in cook dinner for Jin-ho, then act cutesy (do they even know Jin-ho?) Kae-in replies that she doesn’t know how to act cutesy, which is a total lie, as we’ve seen her pout and passive-aggressively act cute about kalbi to get what she wants. But Young-sun looks her up and down and agrees that if she were a guy, she’d find her about as cute as a rock. Nobody tells it to ya like a girlfriend! Ouch.

Jin-ho, meanwhile, gets a call from his new best friend In-hee. (Tamping down the urge to boo and hiss every time I write her name.) She informs him that Do-bin wants to have dinner with him, and Sang-jun is so impressed that Jin-ho is apparently winning everyone over to his side.

Back over at Project: Forgive Me for Outing You, Kae-in and Young-sun riffle through movies, as Young-sun suggests she initiate some roommate bonding time with Jin-ho. Kae-in refuses at first, but when Young-sun tells that she needs to fill the hole that In-hee left in her life, Kae-in doesn’t argue. Sad, to think that the person who hurt her so badly used to be such a huge part of her life.

Kae-in chooses Brokeback Mountain, (Ha) saying that Jin-ho has had a hard enough time hiding who he is from the rest of the world; he should be able to be himself in front of her. I like that the gay misunderstanding not only provides endless comical situations, but also sweet character revelations such as this. If only every gay man in Korea had a friend like Kae-in.

As Jin-ho is leaving for the day, his staff is busy googling what women want for Christmas, and they find that the number one thing is a gay friend, for the obvious reasons: talking freely about relationships, going shopping, etc. Jin-ho’s curiosity is piqued as he listens in, but denies his interest in the matter when Sang-jun notices him.

When Jin-ho drives away from the office, Tae-hoon follows him home, fulfilling his promise to Hye-mi that if he found out where Jin-ho was living, she’d go out with him. He notes truthfully as he follows, “You know there isn’t a soul in the world you can trust, right?” Well, nobody trusted you to begin with, silly.

Hye-mi, meanwhile, is bonding with Jin-ho’s mom at the spa, and it’s clear that Mom likes Hye-mi because she’s an old family friend from Jin-ho’s toddler days, and they’ve already settled into a mother/daughter-in-law relationship. She encourages Hye-mi to stay by Jin-ho’s side and persevere. Listen, there’re a million reasons why you’ll never marry Jin-ho, least of which is your hair color, but even that’s enough to rule you out. Seriously, go back and look at all your kdramas of old. Has the orange-haired girl ever gotten the guy? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Tae-hoon follows Jin-ho all the way home, and deciphers the Chinese characters above the house, reading: Sang-go-jae, and runs off to give this tidbit back to his master.

Young-sun and Kae-in set up to cook dinner, and Kae-in spends the whole time begging Young-sun to do it for her. You should have just played it like you did the cleaning session with Jin-ho. But it’s too late, as Jin-ho walks through the door. By her reaction, you’d think Godzilla just came home.

When Jin-ho arrives, Young-sun tries to facilitate some roommate bonding, telling them to cut the formalities and use banmal, saying they should “Rip words and rip farts…” But Jin-ho is unsurprisingly against the ripping of both, in anyone’s presence, let alone Kae-in’s.

Jin-ho cuts the bonding short and goes in his room. Young-sun leaves to tend to her son, leaving Kae-in alone to fend for her own forgiveness. She handles that about as well as you’d think.

Jin-ho comes out of his room, and they rehash the events of last night. Kae-in maintains that she doesn’t remember a thing, while Jin-ho recounts all of her actions, including a fake loan, which she vehemently denies. Uh….

Well, no one said you were the brightest bulb. Once Kae-in is caught in the lie, Jin-ho totally has the upper hand, as he makes her write and sign a contract that says if she ever utters anything about his orientation again, she promises to do anything he asks. How long should we give her before she’s cleaning his room and febreezing his jackets?

She reluctantly lets him stamp her thumbprint on the contract, then tells him to wait while she cooks dinner for him. What follows is a fiasco of mild proportions, not unlike what happens in my kitchen when I’ve lost a bet or lied to someone that I can cook.

After one failed attempt, she finally presents her dish at the dinner table, but Jin-ho stringently sticks to his own side dishes, ignoring her painstakingly earned gesture.

With some passive-aggressive prodding, Jin-ho finally tastes it. Eager to know how it tastes, she waits for a response, and he says: “Well, it’s fit for humans to eat.” Sometimes I want to shake you violently by the throat.

He does eat it all, despite his lackluster review, leaving Kae-in none for herself. She tries again to be friendly, putting out her hand for a shake, declaring that they should do their best to make it work. Jin-ho does the worst thing ever in return: the limp-fish handshake. And he adds that he has no intention of making it work with Kae-in. Okay, rude-o.

Kae-in, ever the dogged optimist, tries again by inviting him to watch a movie (please let us see his reaction to Brokeback, please!) but he turns her down, saying he doesn’t have the time or the inclination to hang out and watch movies with her. Killjoy.

Over in the land of the happily un-wed, Chang-ryul and In-hee have it out again over the apartment, this time with Chang-ryul on the inside, having changed the lock code on In-hee. They argue about the apartment, about Jin-ho, and whether or not In-hee will give Chang-ryul another chance.

He ends up begging her to take him back, showing him to be the far more vulnerable and human character in this relationship, although that’s not saying much.

In-hee’s reply is so cold that I actually start to feel sorry for the bastard that dumped Kae-in. She says that once her heart has left, she can’t go back, and tells him that she’s moved on. She talks about men like the latest handbag, saying that she likes the newest and best things, and he didn’t turn out to be the best thing out there. Chang-ryul’s face falls, but he’s not ready to give up just yet. He says fine, then they’ll just have to live like this, since neither of them is about to move out of the apartment. In-hee agrees reluctantly, as long as he stays out of her business.

Left to her own druthers, Kae-in chooses Nacho Libre for movie night. Jin-ho comes out for a glass of water, and Kae-in asks for a glass, calling him “In-hee ya” by reflex. Both realize the slip, and Jin-ho brings her water, musing that In-hee must have been her roommate for a long time, for her to call out to him like that. She confirms they were friends and roommates for TEN YEARS. My jaw and my opinion of In-hee drop to the floor.

Kae-in offers him some of her popcorn, and he replies exactly how a gay friend would: “You know that’ll go straight to your thighs.” Okay, he says belly, but close enough. Kae-in doesn’t care (no surprise), and when he finally caves and eats some, she asks him what about the belly fat? He retorts that he’s not the body type to retain belly fat, inciting Kae-in to snark that he must’ve gone to a snappy comeback academy.

They watch the movie and start to bond a little, being more comfortable in each other’s presence. Kae-in asks Jin-ho when he first knew he was gay, that he was different from everyone else. When he doesn’t reply, she says that she was seven when she knew. Startled, Jin-ho asks if she’s a lesbian. No, it’s when she realized that she was different from the other kids; when she saw that other kids’ moms came to school events and that she would never have that.

Kae-in adds that she thought maybe Jin-ho would know what that was like. Jin-ho doesn’t open up about his own father’s death, but I think this speaks to him and moves him to see Kae-in in a more substantive, less superficial light.

She keeps pestering him cutely to tell her when he knew he liked boys, so he just shoves popcorn in her mouth to shut her up. Aww, cute.

The next morning, Jin-ho starts feeling sick at work, resulting in a series of diarrhea escapades, complete with noises, contorted faces, and his desperate attempts to hold it in while running about town. It’s not the cleverest or most sophisticated, but damn if it isn’t funny watching Jin-ho try to walk on tip-toe with his hand on his butt to stave off the…impending deluge.

Turns out he’s got a bout of food poisoning from Kae-in’s shellfish, but she’s fine since she didn’t get to have any. Heh. He plots her slow and painful death while sitting on the toilet.

Kae-in goes out on a job interview, thinking she’s applying for a furniture designer position at a large company, but it turns out that it’s for a secretarial position, and she gets dismissed readily. Chang-ryul happens to witness this, as he is checking out the manufacturer as a candidate for his Dahm design.

Chang-ryul feels compelled to follow Kae-in, as she despondently leaves the interview, eats ramem alone in a convenience store, then walks home in the rain. He watches her from a distance feeling bad and drawn to her too, but all I can think the whole time is, why aren’t you giving her a ride home, doofus?

Later that night, Jin-ho meets Do-bin for dinner, despite his…uh…condition. Do-bin notices that he’s not doing so well, so he graciously insists they reschedule, and gives him a handkerchief to wipe his flop sweat. Do-bin asks that he return the handkerchief, as it has sentimental value to him. Hm, what compromising position will this handkerchief get Jin-ho in? Can’t wait to find out.

Jin-ho and Kae-in return around the same time, with Jin-ho noticing that Chang-ryul was outside the house when he arrived. Jin-ho is fuming mad about the shellfish and his cancelled dinner, but Kae-in is so concerned for him that she runs her sopping wet self all over the house looking for diarrhea medicine for him.

She keeps asking him about the diarrhea, which just makes him angrier, as he can’t even say the word. All day he’s been saying, “dia…” like the word is as disgusting as the affliction. He finally shouts at her, “Stop saying DIARRHEA!” which makes me laugh, which means I’m five years old, I know.

He softens a little when he sees her scrambling to get him medicine, and starts out yelling at her for dripping water all over the floor, but ends up getting her a towel and telling her to dry off before she catches cold. Aww, cute again!

Later, Jin-ho isn’t even surprised when he hears something shatter in the kitchen. Kae-in’s broken a dish, and he helps her clean it up, asking if she can’t go one day without making a mess. She asks if he can’t go one day without pestering her. Touché.

Kae-in makes him some rice porridge (the Korean staple food for sickies) and he makes her taste it first, in case it’s poisoned. Not an irrational fear, given the events of the day. I would even insist she eat half, for the karma factor, in case it’s a replay of the shellfish debacle.

He notices the cuts on her finger, which she explains are from last night’s cooking, or attempts thereof. And then…the calls start coming. It’s Chang-ryul, drunk-dialing her from outside the house.

Jin-ho sees the look on her face and knows the score right away. He tells her not to go. She insists that she won’t, but Jin-ho and I both vote that she’ll end up going out to meet him. They always do.

Aaaand? She caves. Kae-in runs out of the house, just as Jin-ho comes out of his room, band-aid in hand for her cut finger. He mutters, “Jeon Jin-ho wins.” But his face says the opposite.

Kae-in finds Chang-ryul outside, and the gist? He’s still an ass. The nitty gritty: Kae-in wants to know why he chose In-Hee, of all people. He replies that In-hee gave him everything, all of herself (yes, I think the sexual implication is intended, while not being the sole meaning), while Kae-in always kept him at arm’s length. He claims that she had one foot out the door, by acting immature and naïve. That makes no kind of sense.

Kae-in is floored. She replies that she was just so happy to be with him, that she melted over every little kiss, every phone call, and dashed out to see him without a care for how she looked because she was so anxious to see him. Chang-ryul says they were too different, and that she didn’t meet him as an adult, an equal.

Kae-in has the realization that it might have been her fault. Well, yes, your stuff is your fault. But Chang-ryul being an ASS is totally not your fault. Maybe she would’ve given herself completely if you had been a trustworthy boyfriend, dude. Ever think of that?

Then, the guy has the nerve to take a call from In-hee, thereby proving me right, so thank you very much, Show. He lets it slip that he’s living with her, which is the blow that Kae-in needs to be disillusioned. She can’t believe he’s here to see her, while still living with In-hee. Once a cheater…you know the rest. Kae-in can’t believe how pathetic he’s making her feel, up to the bitter end—this makes her angry, (good girl—use that anger) and she tells him to go.

Kae-in trudges back in, and Jin-ho is lying in wait. He rips into her for not having more pride, calling her stupid: “You really are a puppy, getting abandoned, then forgetting all about it, running out happily when you’re called. Do you know how pitiful you look right now?” She tells him to stop, but he’s all riled up. But so is she, so she responds with violence, hitting him with pillows and beating his chest in frustration. There now, was that cathartic? Was it sexy? Oh, is that not where this is going?

Kae-in cries out, “Why does everyone think I’m such a pushover? What did I ever do that was so wrong? Why are you all making me so pathetic? Why?” Jin-ho unhelpfully but truthfully tells her that she’s doing it to herself.

Kae-in: “A person like you has never waited all day for a phone call from the person you like. Or felt that your heart might burst, just from looking at this person. You could die and come back from the grave and never know. The person who made me feel that way told me to come outside. No matter how wrong he was, I want to hear him out. What can I do? I’m just built like this, so what can I do?”

Both of them have tears in their eyes as she says this, and the way they feed off each other’s performances in this scene is their first real connection for me.

They drink, and Kae-in recounts what Chang-ryul said. Jin-ho appropriately calls out Chang-ryul’s BS, and advises her to forget him. When she says she can’t let go of the realization that the whole thing may have been her fault, Jin-ho tells her to make him regret losing a woman like her.

That sparks an idea in Kae-in’s head. She looks over at him longingly and leans onto his arm, asking, “Will you…make a woman out of me?”

Oh, my. Is it getting hot in here?

Either someone’s getting laid or someone’s getting a makeover. Is it sick if I’m equally happy either way? I like that the dynamic has shifted in this episode from straight-up nagging and hating to a more tolerant tenuous friendship between our leads. They show their affection (still platonic) in very different ways—Kae-in wanting to let Jin-ho be himself around her, Jin-ho wanting for Kae-in to value herself—but both are finding a home in each other that they desperately needed. The first three episodes were set-up and near-naked hijinks, fun to be sure; but now we’ve got some real emotional openness and vulnerability, so I’m excited to see how we’ll mix all those elements up from here on out.

Also, some speculation as an afterthought:

Jin-ho has yet to figure out the design “secret” of Sang-go-jae, because he knows that the han-ok fusion style isn’t all there is to it. This is pure speculation on my part, but I think it has something to do with the layout, and in particular the layout of windows and doors, creating visibility through spaces. I don’t know if it’s because the director just likes to shoot through windows and mirrors, but every room in that house has an opening through which you can see the rest of the house.

I have an idea that if you were to open up all the windows and doorways, you could see every part of the house from another. If that turns out to be true, it might have something to do with the architect’s obsessive love for his wife, wanting to see her at all times (in the loving doting way, not the creepy stalker way, one hopes).

Just a thought. Please don’t spoil me either way if you know. It might be a much more complicated architectural answer, but it’s a writerly thought (as in that’s how I would do it) because it’s romantic to think of Kae-in’s father, young and in love, not wanting to be parted from his love for more than five minutes, so keeping her always in his line of sight. Well, both co-dependent and romantic. No one’s perfect.


99 April 18, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 5

by javabeans

This coupling is really starting to grow on me. With this episode and the next, we’re seeing the connection grow, and while there are still certain missteps in the pacing/editing of the show, the developing friendship/romance keeps me hooked.

Before the drama aired, I was wondering how the age difference would play out. Funny enough, I don’t think it plays out at all — I don’t think about their ages at all while watching, which to me means they’ve been successful. Lee Min-ho does look younger than Sohn Ye-jin, but not by too much; I think he passes credibly for mid-late 20s, and she looks her age. It works for me.


Personal Taste OST – “가슴이 뭉클” (My heart is moved) by SeeYa [ Download ]

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This episode opens with the title splash “Project to Make Her a Woman,” which refers to Kae-in’s request in the last episode to make a woman of her. Right off the we open with a classic misdirect: they awake in bed together — Jin-ho’s — to the shock of both. After the alcohol-fueled activities of the night before, it takes a moment to clear their groggy heads and recall how they ended up here.

A flashback takes us back, when Jin-ho suggests that Kae-in make Chang-ryul regret having left her. She grabs his leg to beg him to help her: “I want to be a woman who’s like a woman.”

While this sounds rather stupid in English, it has a more poetic ring in Korean. She’s not saying she wants to be a woman who is strictly “feminine”; she wants to be a woman who makes people aware that she’s a woman. There is a fine but significant distinction, and I would have major issues with the former (because women aren’t only women if they’re pretty!) but I can see the value in the latter.

Jin-ho, however, interprets that phrase more literally, as most of us probably would. She explains that she doesn’t want to hear those words — that she doesn’t come across as a woman — again. Plus, he ought to understand her feelings, having been born a man but being unable to fully live as one. Y’know, ’cause of the GAAAY. (Will that get old? I suppose so, but I’m clearly 12 because I giggle every time.)

By the time they relocate the drinking to his room, both are speaking in that slow, mumbly way that comes after a sixer of beer. (Or two bottles of soju, in her case. How much do I love that she’s more hardcore a drinker than he is?)

Jin-ho doesn’t want to entangle himself in her life and turns her down. In case she didn’t get it, Chang-ryul broke up with her because she didn’t sleep with him. When a man loves a woman, he naturally desires physical contact, whether it’s holding her or something more.

Kae-in knows this, but wants to be a woman who is loved anyway — a woman who attracts his devotion whether or not she sleeps with the guy. She’s not anti-sex, but would rather have a love that trumps sex.

Back to our morning scene, where Kae-in thanks Jin-ho warmly, saying, “You’re like a friend my mother has given me.” She reminds him that he agreed to help her last night — only, he doesn’t remember because he has blacked out. Or so he says.

Kae-in uses his own tactic against him to invent things he told her while drunk, and when he balks, he gives himself away. He sighs that they can give it a try, even if it seems impossible. Excited, Kae-in hugs him happily, which catches him off-guard and makes him uncomfortable.

In the morning, In-hee rips into a hungover Chang-ryul for not coming home to finish their talk. So much for her insistence that they stay out of each other’s lives — looks like that only goes one way, huh?

In-hee wants him to move out, seeing as she only has about five bucks to her name after spending it all on the wedding. How’s that for some faulty logic for you? (“Landlord, I used all my money, therefore I should stay and you should leave!”) Chang-ryul points out that this is his house, and it was her idea to end the relationship, not his. I’d say he’s got a point.

Kae-in sucks up to Jin-ho to persuade him to begin her makeover project immediately. Using her penchant for sweat pants as a jumping-off point for Lesson #1, he criticizes her practice of going out on dates dressed like this. Kae-in defends her choice, saying that she was so eager to see Chang-ryul that she would run out without changing, but that just proves his point. A man doesn’t want a woman to look too eager or desperate.

A note pops up onscreen to convey this tip: An attractive woman has dignity. In fact, making a man wait can be one of her charms. Jin-ho says that if she can figure out why women always make men wait ten minutes when meeting them on dates, she’s on her way to uncovering the secret to being a real woman. (You mean other than perpetual lateness? So I’ve been a “real woman” all this time by accident?)

A woman must have confidence that a man won’t leave even if she’s late, so Kae-in needs to work on her patience, Jin-ho declares, and orders her to hold her head underwater. She’s ready to pop up immediately, but he holds her head still to teach her patience. Apparently his idea of patience equals greater lung capacity. Hey ladies, didja know that guys really dig girls with big lungs?

The next lesson makes a little more sense as Jin-ho shuts Kae-in in a storeroom and tells her that under no circumstances may she leave the room for an hour. He tests her periodically by suggesting food breaks or faking warnings about fire, and Kae-in gullibly pops out every time, proving his point that she’s too impatient. Isn’t it a comfort to know that the next time there’s a fire, she can stay in the storeroom, confident in the knowledge that she died a patient woman?

(I tease out of affection, really. This exercise is actually applicable to Kae-in because he’s remembering how she jumped to meet Chang-ryul last night, unable to stick to her conviction to ignore his call. She could really benefit by thinking and waiting before acting impetuously. It’s just not so relevant in cases of emergency.)

Now on to comportment lessons. (I love that when he demonstrates how to walk with a light footfall, she’s taking a look at his butt. Hey, no judgment. I’d be taking advantage of any opportunity, myself.)

When she inevitably drops the glass cup from her head and breaks it (cup, not head), he kneels to pick up the broken shards and grumbles about her clumsiness. His words are irritated but Kae-in reads the concern in them, which she finds touching. Smiling warmly, she says, “Let’s be friends for a long time.”

At mealtime, Kae-in faces another tough challenge: restraining her appetite. Jin-ho thinks that most men aren’t attracted to women who gorge themselves, although Kae-in makes a (pretty logical) defense for it. If a woman didn’t eat a thing, couldn’t the man interpret that to mean that she finds his company so distasteful it ruined her appetite? Yup, my gluttony really is praise for my date! I’m totally using that one.

Sang-jun and Young-sun both arrive at the house at the same time, and join the two at the dinner table, making for another awkward conversation of misunderstood innuendos.

Young-sun assumes that Sang-jun is here to see his boyfriend, and makes knowing comments about their relationship that make Sang-jun increasingly confused. Like how he must be dying to see Jin-ho all the time, given how he drops by all the time even though they work together every day.

At first he smiles and goes along, but finally the cat is out of the bag when Young-sun says she’s totally cool with it, and has a lot of gay friends anyway. Kae-in tries to shush her friend, reminding her that Jin-ho hates any mention of his gay status — and, well, there’s no way to misinterpret that, is there?

Jin-ho apologizes to his friend for letting this situation come to this, as both of them have been mistaken as gay. He’s expecting a big reaction, but Sang-jun hilariously accepts this in stride. If this is the only way Jin-ho can keep living here, he’ll have to “help in earnest.” Girding his loins (bad use of phrase?), Sang-jun vows, “I’m not your hyung anymore, I’ll be your lover. It won’t be familiar at first, but you’ll get used to it!”

In fact, Sang-jun embraces this new role with gusto, and gleefully starts to act the part of Jin-ho’s gay lover. Yeah, it’s a cheap gimmick but it’s also hilarious how Sang-jun starts to add effeminate gestures and speech patterns into the mix. (I hope people aren’t offended by Sang-jun’s shtick. It’s his assumption of how he might act as a gay man, not a representation of a REAL gay man, if that makes it any better.)

When Jin-ho kicks him out of his room while the ladies watch, Sang-jun bursts out in a voice that now contains some falsetto, “Honey, let’s talk it out. Honey!” (The word he employs is jagi, which is used here as an endearment.) He tells them sadly, “My honey is so cold.”

Sang-jun explains that Jin-ho’s reaction is because he hadn’t wanted to be outed by other people. He finds a sympathetic listener in Young-sun, who offers encouraging words while he acts hurt over Jin-ho’s indifference to his sensitive feelings.

Sorry to have broken her word again (about mentioning the GAAAY), Kae-in kneels in penitence, holding her arms up like a punished child. We get another sign that he’s softening to her, because even though he brings up their contract — the one wherein she promised never to bring up his sexual orientation — he doesn’t hold her to their terms, and instead gives her one last pass.

Sensing that she’s safe, Kae-in tells Jin-ho she has another job interview, and uses some of her wiles again to beg him to help her. She’s adorable as she pleads in an exaggerated way (not too far off from that Oppa-Pout-Wiggle maneuver that has been known to melt the resistance of more than a few men), and he can’t help it — he smiles a teeny bit too.

Thus Jin-ho ends up mixing a face pack out of household ingredients. Although Jin-ho’s participation is reluctant at best, it’s not too far off from Kae-in’s gay-buddy fantasy after all.

Jin-ho answers a call from his mother, who also happens to be having her own face-mask bonding session with Hye-mi. Kae-in listens curiously, and gleans from the conversation that Jin-ho is speaking with a woman. He has the unusual habit of addressing his mother by her first name, which supports Kae-in’s misconception.

Hearing Jin-ho’s accommodating responses to this woman, Kae-in urges him to nip this thing in the bud. He shouldn’t give women the wrong idea and let them think he’s available! If they have no shot with him, it’s really kinder to cut things off at the start! Or… is he bi? Sighing, Jin-ho informs her that the woman was his mother.

Mention of mothers makes Kae-in wistful to think of her own, and that reaction stirs Jin-ho’s sympathies. He sits by Kae-in and asks about her mother. Kae-in explains that she was five when her mother died, but oddly enough, she doesn’t have any memories of her.

It’s sweet of Jin-ho to suggest that it may be because losing her mother was too much for a 5-year-old to handle, so she subconsciously forgot in order to protect herself. Aww. The thought may well be true, but it’s the fact that he says it in a generous spirit that makes it a nice moment, and Kae-in feels it too. She leans her head on his shoulder and says, “I haven’t told you this, have I? Welcome to my home.”

Too bad that the mask makes them both break out in spots in the morning. Oops! So much for all-natural ingredients! (It turns out that one of the ingredients, a kelp-based powder, triggered the reaction.)

Chang-ryul engineers a run-in with Do-bin at the gym, but unlike Jin-ho, his tactics are pretty transparent. Do-bin receives him with professional courtesy, but also drops a hint that Chang-ryul isn’t exactly making a solid impression, what with his complicated love life. He’s found that people with complicated personal lives may have complicated professional lives as well. As a result, President Han tells Chang-ryul that they’re going to need to alter their game plan.

Meanwhile, Do-bin calls Professor Park Chul-han to request his assistance in judging the project, offering to send the materials to him in England. Apparently this is not the first time Do-bin has made the request, and it’s not the first time he has been declined, either, so he decides he’ll have to try a different tactic.

Kae-in’s interview has been another flop, and she busies herself at home with a new furniture project, painting over discarded items from a neighbor’s trash pile.

Young-sun comments that she and Jin-ho must be getting along now, if they’re giving themselves facials. Kae-in says she’s used to his curt way of talking now, and that every once in a while, he says something quite touching. Reading between the lines (and picking up on Kae-in’s sentimentality), Young-sun warns her not to fall in love with a gay man. That way tragedy lies!

Do-bin rings at the door asking for Park Chul-han’s daughter, and Kae-in panics, thinking that he’s been sent by her father. She’s dead if he finds out that she’s rented the room and taken out a loan!

Her fears are assuaged when Do-bin explains his reason for being here. He recognizes Kae-in from the wedding and the restaurant, and supposes that she’s Jin-ho’s friend. He is also hoping that Professor Park’s daughter might help convince the man to help in his museum judging, but she apologizes for not having that much sway over her father. Do-bin accepts this politely, although he adds that he had thought her quite courageous, but sees that she lacks that confidence when dealing with her father.

At work, Jin-ho and Sang-jun are still trying to crack the nut of Sanggojae’s mystique. There must be a reason for its significance, but they’re not seeing it.

Kae-in calls Jin-ho to check in on him and sighs over failing yet another interview. She asks if he can home early for dinner, and he gives a noncommittal “We’ll see” (which we can interpret to mean “Probably” since he didn’t immediately decline). Sang-jun can’t resist the chance to tease him, and I think I love every single thing this man says. He has way too much fun poking fun at Jin-ho The Newly Domesticated.

In-hee calls to reclaim their promised dinner, however, which delays his evening. He’s reluctant to miss dinner with Kae-in, so he agrees to have a drink and suggests postponing the dinner for a later date.

Manipulative In-hee tells Jin-ho that she WAS going to give him tips regarding an upcoming industry party, “But we won’t have enough time just over drinks.” Shrewd bitch! She’s really earning her hateful evil wench title, isn’t she? I do love to hate her.

Over dinner, In-hee explains how she moved in with Kae-in in her last year of high school, after her parents died. Kae-in kept following her around asking how she could help, but that only made In-hee feel pathetic, which made her want to yell, “Stop pretending to be nice.” She’s expecting Jin-ho to sympathize with her (and I actually can see her point, even if it is ungrateful), but Jin-ho’s a good egg; he responds, “She’s not pretending, she IS nice.”

In-hee says that she since she was always being given things by Kae-in (the word used has the connotation of freeloading), she wanted to steal something from her, to see if she’d still be so nice in such a circumstance. Jin-ho tells her, “That seems foolish. If you chose to betray a friend like that, you should have at least been happy through the end.”

Rather than take offense, In-hee finds comfort in Jin-ho’s words that she was foolish for choosing bad behavior but doing it poorly. If she’s a “clumsy bad person,” at least that means that badness doesn’t come to her easily, right? Ha, that’s not thinking the glass is half-full, it’s like insisting that a glass is nearly full because it’s still got dregs in it. And somehow the word “dregs” seems pretty appropriate when talking about In-hee, doesn’t it?

All the while, Kae-in sets the table and waits for Jin-ho to come home. As the night wears on, she heads outside to wait in front of the gate. It’s sad and you want to yell at her for waiting, but I suppose her steadfastness is part of her appeal, and if she could wait for Chang-ryul, surely Jin-ho’s worth the time.

On the drive home, In-hee can’t reconcile herself to thinking Jin-ho is gay, and asks if he really can’t love a woman: “Why do I keep feeling you are a man?”

(One thing that keeps sticking out to me is the use of “as a man” and “as a woman” in Korean as carrying the weight of cultural expectations in ways that extend far beyond gender. Or should I say biological sex, since gender is a social construct. When I watch the drama, the Korean dialogue doesn’t trip me up, but then I wince when I translate some lines that seem to suggest Jin-ho isn’t a real man because he’s gay. The characters are not putting Jin-ho down as being less than a “real man” — they’re saying that he, as a gay man, is unable to identify fully with the experience of being a mainstream, heterosexual male in Korean society. And when In-hee says Jin-ho feels “like a man” to her, she means she is sexually attracted to him, and if he were truly gay she wouldn’t. But I do feel uncomfortable with the semantics of that, and this speaks to Korea’s relative homogeneity as a culture, and how much harder it must be for Koreans to identify as homosexual than, say, in the Western world.)

Jin-ho drops In-hee off at home just as Chang-ryul arrives to see them. To his eye, the scene looks much cozier than it actually is, and he challenges In-hee angrily — what is she doing? Is she deliberately trying to look pathetic so he’ll let go of her? (That’s a pretty good insult, actually. I may not be learning much from this drama but it IS giving me a lot of one-liners to tuck away for future use!)

In-hee says that she’s done with Chang-ryul now, and she’s looking out for her future. She doesn’t know if Jin-ho is part of that, but she is interested in him, “because he’s different from you. That’s all I need.” Ouch!

The fact that it’s Jin-ho is particularly unacceptable to Chang-ryul, and when In-hee goes off on how miserable he is, he slaps her. Omo! And just when I was starting to feel sorry for him.

Chang-ryul blames In-hee for making him treat Kae-in poorly, while In-hee blames Chang-ryul for not properly breaking up with Kae-in and therefore setting off the whole wedding fiasco. These two really can’t take responsibility for their own actions, can they?

On the way home, Jin-ho stops to buy sweet bread for Kae-in, wondering if Kae-in would have skipped dinner while waiting for him. And sure enough, there she is, waiting on the front step.

Even though it’s obvious she’s been waiting for him all night, she lies this time — his lesson may have finally kicked in — and says that she not only ate dinner without him, she even ate his share.

When she notices his bag of dessert breads, he reminds her to have patience. Kae-in protests that someone who withholds food is the meanest kind of person, prompting him to hold the bag higher and out of her reach. LOL. I love immature Jin-ho.

Just then, Kae-in’s stomach grumbles loudly, giving her away.

They end up going out to eat, and Kae-in digs into a fish to put a piece into his bowl. This is a gesture a mother might do for a child, or wife to husband, and shows her level of comfort with him. It’s also rather crude to dig in with one’s fingers and present that to someone, and the fastidious Jin-ho complains. Still, when she makes a move to take it back, he keeps it.

Kae-in asks why he was so late, and Jin-ho lies about working rather than mention In-hee’s name. Kae-in declares that she’s not going to wait to have dinner for anyone anymore. The word “anymore” gives her away, indicating that she must have shown this side of her to Chang-ryul, too. Jin-ho points out that starving while waiting for a guy shows desperation, which is why she got dumped.

On the way home, Kae-in sees a streetside game machine — one of those punching pads to demonstrate strength — which makes her think back to the last time she was here with Chang-ryul. She hits the pad, thinking of Chang-ryul’s admission that he didn’t love her.

Reading her reaction, Jin-ho steps in to stop her. What will it take for her to get over Chang-ryul? He suggests that she accompany him to a party on Saturday, where Chang-ryul will be in attendance. There, she can confront him and declare that she’ll be fine without him. The best revenge is living well and all that jazz.

(Here’s a scene where the acting elevates otherwise plain dialogue. Sohn Ye-jin is at her best when portraying Kae-in’s vulnerability, and I appreciate Lee Min-ho’s way of conveying the conflict between Jin-ho’s curtness and his growing sympathy for her.)

This means we get our requisite makeover montage, wherein Jin-ho takes Kae-in shopping and to the hair salon. The latter scene yields another comic misunderstanding, because Kae-in sees Jin-ho’s friendliness with the very fey hairdresser and assumes this is yet another of his boyfriends.

And then, for the big reveal:

They arrive at the party, where Jin-ho tells her to have faith in him and leads her inside. Kae-in looks quite pretty, but who wouldn’t with that arm candy? Jin-ho actually looks proud to have her on his arm, which totally earns him points in my book.

One aspect about this party scene I enjoy is that the issue of Jin-ho’s sexuality is an underlying presence, but everyone has a different idea and he doesn’t bother to clarify it for anyone. They are just left to their assumptions.

In-hee and Chang-ryul gape in annoyed astonishment. Not only do they feel stirrings of jealousy, they’re both surprised to see them here together. In-hee picks up on Chang-ryul’s surprise and accuses him of wanting Kae-in back now that she’s all prettified.

Jin-ho makes his greeting to Do-bin, who greets Kae-in as well. Do-bin briefly explains how they are acquainted, and Kae-in assures him that she’ll be fine on her own while Jin-ho makes his rounds. Jin-ho uneasily leaves her with Do-bin while In-hee takes him around to identify various business contacts.

I feel a little uncomfortable when Do-bin tells Kae-in that she must be a lot of help to Jin-ho, because of her relationship to her father and all. She doesn’t know what he’s talking about and assures Do-bin that Jin-ho didn’t know who her father was, and they only became friends recently. (This isn’t going to be a problem, is it?)

At least for now, that issue gets shelved while Do-bin comments on the furniture he’d seen her working on when he visited the Sanggojae. To her shock, he offers her a job — he is making a children’s area at the museum, and when he saw her children’s furniture, he thought it was perfect.

Kae-in is about to tell Jin-ho the great news when the party is crashed by an unexpected visitor: Hye-mi. She has come here with Tae-hoon, thinking Jin-ho will appear foolish for coming dateless. In her usual manner, she’s loud and insistent, and attaches herself to Jin-ho’s side right away.

This doesn’t look so great in Do-bin’s eyes, who comments that Jin-ho has brought two dates to the party. Jin-ho knows how this is making him look and starts to explain, but Do-bin excuses himself before he can.

“Tact” is a word with which Hye-mi has no acquaintance, so she pushes aside Sang-jun’s attempts to be diplomatic and insists she’s here with Jin-ho. Hye-mi shoots the evil eye at Kae-in, pestering Jin-ho with questions of who she is.

Jin-ho tries to take Hye-mi out to talk in quiet and excuses himself from Kae-in. Hye-mi is rankled at his solicitousness, because in her world obviously one can only be polite to a lover. Actually, that’s probably how she DOES see the world.

Kae-in starts to explain, thinking that Hye-mi must not know the “truth” about Jin-ho’s sexual orientation. With sympathy, she starts to make the explanation, but Jin-ho steps in and warns her under his breath not to say anything stupid. Kae-in counters that he can’t “hide it” forever, thinking that he’s leading Hye-mi on by not telling her the truth.

Hye-mi fumes, interpreting the scene a different way, and does the classic “Bitch done steal my man” maneuver by throwing a glass of water in Kae-in’s face.


It’s a little odd to see Lee Min-ho playing “normal” after making such a strong statement with an extreme character last year. At first it makes his acting here seem understated, but I think it works well for Jin-ho, who isn’t a mean bastard but just rather cool. His appeal is in the way he softens toward Kae-in, and the chemistry between them works best for me when they’re in a quiet, honest scene. The bickering is fun and all — and what would a kdrama romantic comedy be without lots of bickering? — but their relationship growth shines in the gradual steps they’re making.

I think Sohn Ye-jin is spot-on in showing Kae-in’s hurt, vulnerable side, and in showing Kae-in as rather dense but not entirely clueless. There’s more to her character than being a blundering naif, and many other actresses have missed the nuances she picks up on. It isn’t that she can’t fathom why she was dumped — she understands the reasons on an intellectual level — but she is having trouble accepting that that’s how it ought to be. In my book that makes her more idealistic than dumb.


151 April 19, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 6

by girlfriday

I know this couple had their detractors, but come on, they’ve totally stolen your hearts, right? In this episode entitled “Sweet Roommate,” Jin-ho and Kae-in give us a lesson in chemistry, and share noodles, heartaches, cramps, and a bed. I know…I always get the toilet ones. In one deftly crafted episode, we go from friends to I-might-go-un-gay-for-you, with a lot of heart along the way.


After getting a cold splash of bitterness from Hye-mi, Kae-in wonders aloud what on earth she could have done to deserve this. Jin-ho, furious, drags Hye-mi and Tae-hoon out of the party. Hye-mi screams and pouts and cries her makeup off, but Jin-ho sends her home and out of his hair. I find this girl very shrill and tediously childish, so the less said about her, the better.

Kae-in dries off in the bathroom, and suddenly, she’s hit with a stomachache. She enters the stall, and yelps in surprise. Oh dear.

Chang-ryul, who has witnessed all the hysterics, goes up to Jin-ho, demanding to know why Kae-in has to endure such experiences for being his date. Jin-ho throws back that the man who stood at the altar with her friend shouldn’t really be concerned about such things, should he? Well played, Jin-ho, well played.

In-hee, also having watched the events from a safe distance, stops Jin-ho and muses that his female relationships seem complicated, and that perhaps there are more than a few women who feel Jin-ho as a man. Back away slowly from the barracuda.

Kae-in finally calls Jin-ho, who rushes over to the bathroom to see if she’s okay, but she tells him that she needs…those things…you know…with the wings. Jin-ho: “What’s the what? And who’s got wings?”

Next thing you know, Jin-ho runs down the street to a convenience store, where we commence with the most hilarious thing ever: Jin-ho in a Mexican stand-off with a group of teenage girls, and a box of ultra thin flexipads with wings.

And the award for best friend of the episode goes to Jeon Jin-ho, who endures public embarrassment and overcomes his own discomfort to come to Kae-in’s rescue. Who needs a white knight when you’ve got a guy who’s not afraid to buy you tampons?

Jin-ho brings the pads to Kae-in in the women’s restroom, and when she comes out, he chastises her for calling herself a woman and not preparing for such things. Dude, life happens. Sometimes you need to borrow a pad. Kae-in tells him as much, but he attributes it to her lax grip on reality; a little harsh, but not untrue.

Kae-in doesn’t want to waste the rest of the pads, so she starts to stuff them in Jin-ho’s pockets. That’s just going too far for Jin-ho, who immediately pulls them out and tells her to throw them away. They wrestle back and forth, and it’s silly to say that it’s only funny because they’re arguing about pads in Jin-ho’s pockets, but well, IT IS. Finally Jin-ho gives in and takes the bag to the car, while Kae-in waits.

It’s the perfect opportunity for Chang-ryul to swoop in, as he’s been looking for her. He ego-maniacally assumes that Kae-in is here on Jin-ho’s arm to use Chang-ryul’s rival against him, and prove something to him. Kae-in stops him cold, saying that he’s not important to her anymore, and not to overreact. Chang-ryul starts in with the oldest string-along trick in the book, saying that HE knows what she’s really like and how she can’t close her heart to someone so easily.

Jin-ho walks in to hear the exchange, and he’s about to step in, but Kae-in stands her ground, telling Chang-ryul not to assume she’s heartbroken over him, and that she’s doing fine without him. Good girl! Chang-ryul doesn’t relent though, and puts his hands on her shoulders, insisting that she still has feelings for him. Jin-ho steps in between them and pushes Chang-ryul aside, saying that there is nothing left between them, and gets an assertion from Kae-in. And then? He grabs her HAND and they walk out the door.

Buh? You mean no wrist-grab of manly ownitude? He actually takes her by the hand as a romantic equal? Who said this was a kdrama? Not that the gesture was completely without some testosterone-laden posturing. But for me, there’s a vast difference between dragging a woman around by the wrist and holding her by the hand.

Outside, things heat up pretty quickly as Jin-ho lets his gesture sink in, and the look on his face tells me he’s more surprised than anyone. Kae-in is quick to thank him for pretending to be a man (oh THIS isn’t going to get complicated), and says that it was more satisfying than slapping Chang-ryul in the face. They hesitate, and then unlock hands just as it gets too awkward. Jin-ho says that’s what friends are for. Oh, is that what they’re for?

Back at the party, Do-bin makes a speech about the Dahm Museum project being about dreams and art, and it makes Kae-in recall something her dad wrote in his dissertation (but never said to her): “Sang-go-jae is a small world that allows my wife and my child to dream.” She adds woefully, “That’s why I’m always sorry to my father, because I’m living like a person without dreams.”

Later at home while Jin-ho ponders those words, Kae-in comes out of her room hunched over in pain, looking for some pain-killers. She’s got monster cramps and she’s all out of medicine, and the drugstores are all closed. Anyone who’s been to Korea is familiar with the infuriating practice of running around in search of a drugstore that isn’t closed by dinnertime. Try it. You’ll never leave the States without a bottle of Advil again.

Jin-ho wonders if she shouldn’t go to the hospital, and Kae-in and all the women in the audience scoff at the silly boy. Go to the hospital for menstrual cramps? That’s adorable. She says she’ll just have to suck it up and get through the night. Unable to do anything to help, Jin-ho does the cutest possible thing: he googles how to relieve cramps. I mean, who does internet research on how to relieve cramps for his roommate? I need to trade in my roommate for a new model.

He brings her ginger tea, and Kae-in says that even in her pain she’s happy because she has a boyfriend to share her cramps with. (She’s saying “boyfriend” here in the platonic, gay way). She drinks the tea and they say goodnight. But a while later, Jin-ho comes back to check on her, and she’s still writhing in pain, so he decides he can’t just sit around anymore. He gets into the car and rushes over to his mom’s house and endures clingy whining from Hye-mi (brave lad) to score some pain-killers.

He rushes back and gives Kae-in the medicine. She wonders where he got them at this time of night, and when he says “home,” she asks why he’s renting from her if home is so close. He has to lie about it being far from work, and tells her to take the pills. But she’s so moved by his gesture that she bear-hugs him, saying, “I love you. I love you, Friend.”

And I have to say, moments like this make me appreciate this drama’s slow build from roommates to friends to future goodness, because if that’s the result of the gay misunderstanding, I’m all for it.

Jin-ho is taken aback, because although Kae-in thinks of him as her gay best friend, he is actually starting to feel her presence as the kind of woman that he’s teaching her to be, first with the hand-holding, and now again with the hug. He tries to escape, but Kae-in asks for one more favor…

…and Jin-ho concedes to rub her tummy, grumbling at first, but then lovingly reciting children’s rhymes to her in the end. Kae-in tells him, with tears in her eyes, that In-hee used to do this for her. She knows that she ought to hate her, so it would be easier to let it go and walk away, but because of all the good memories, she can’t do that.

So Jin-ho softly recites the same rhyme, substituting “father” for “mother,” as he rubs her tummy. It’s kind, and sweet, and innocent. Kae-in thanks him, saying that her father never did that for her when she was a kid. She tells Jin-ho that he’s like a friend and a father to her, and it makes me sad to think how lonely she’s been all this time. Jin-ho reassuringly pats her on the shoulder, making her smile through her tears.

The next morning, Young-sun and her young son come over to the house, and when Kae-in doesn’t answer, they go to wake her up…only they find this little tableau instead…

The little boy looks up at Mom, asking “Did aunty Kae-in get married?” Jin-ho sees them and bolts up, and the kid follows him to the bathroom, demanding an explanation. “When did you marry aunty Kae-in?” Jin-ho says he didn’t. “Then why are you sleeping with her?” Hahaha. What an apt question, kid. Jin-ho has no answer, and he shoos the boy away, so he doesn’t have to be the one to explain, “Well, there’s birds and bees, and some of them are gay…” Yeah I’d run away too.

In the kitchen, Young-sun asks how they can sleep in the same bed, gay or no gay. Kae-in explains that Jin-ho went to great lengths to relieve her cramps, from getting her medicine to rubbing her tummy. She adds that Jin-ho is a really good person, and that sleeping in his arms was surprisingly comfortable, like falling asleep in dad’s arms, something she’s never been able to do. Young-sun wonders if Kae-in must’ve saved a nation in a past life (a common Korean idiom to mean “you’re lucky beyond all measure of reason”).

Young-sun has actually come by because she needs the roommates to help model for her, and convincing Jin-ho takes some doing, but Young-sun’s poor-me sob story plus little boy’s cute “ajusshi is mean!” pretty much seals the deal. What follows is a family-concept photoshoot, where they go from stiff and awkward, to downright adorable as Young-sun makes them do all manner of cutesy things like kiss each other on the cheek. If only we all had best friends orchestrating such convenient excuses to get all smoochy.

Jin-ho acts put out and against all the kissing, but his glances reveal a much more complicated reaction. When Young-sun has Kae-in sit in Jin-ho’s lap and kiss him on the cheek, Jin-ho smiles instantly, and they feel a spark, causing both of them to avert their eyes from all the awkward tension.

It’s clear that Jin-ho’s starting to feel something for Kae-in, and it’s been building with every moment of physical closeness between them. Kae-in has yet to feel it as strongly, or perhaps as coherently as Jin-ho, since she thinks he’s gay. She assumes he’s not smiling in the photoshoot because he can’t see a woman in that way, leading to Young-sun’s hilarious suggestion that he pretend Kae-in is Sang-jun. Now THAT’S a photoshoot I’d like to see.

In-hee and Chang-ryul are having it out again, this time because Chang-ryul wants In-hee to come to dinner with one of his stepmoms. In-hee refuses, of course, saying that she’s no longer his fiancée, and also that she thinks it’s weird for him to be so close to all seven of his stepmoms. Yes, it’s weird, but it’s probably what he needed to do in order to deal with his scary evil father his whole life, so I’d cut the weasel some slack.

After a hard day’s work, Kae-in sets up Jin-ho with a foot spa and some lemon tea, even trying to give him a massage…up his thigh…uhhhh. Are you new? Jin-ho puts a stop to that right quick before the censors call the network.

They sit down to have dinner with all the side dishes that Young-sun gave them as a thank-you, and Kae-in doesn’t even get a bite in before Jin-ho starts lecturing her about her eating habits. Kae-in thinks she did a really great job at the party and made Chang-ryul regret losing her, so she doesn’t need any more training, thank you.

But Jin-ho corrects her, saying that Chang-ryul’s reaction was about Jin-ho, not her. Hello, ego much? Isn’t it interesting that both Chang-ryul and Jin-ho are insisting to her that it’s about them, when in fact it’s really all about her? Silly rabbits. Jin-ho decides that she still has a long way to go, and cuts her dinner portion down to a third. He also tries to correct her speech to be more sophisticated and polished, less slangy and blunt. Thankfully, she doesn’t listen.

Later Kae-in comes out and presents Jin-ho with a present. She’s made him a coat rack with a funny little bird’s nest on top, as a way to say thank you for his cramp-relieving ways. He just says brusquely that it seems like it might be useful, but it’s clear that he’s touched by the gesture. Kae-in asks why he can’t just be nice and grateful, to which he responds in her favorite way: by offering to take her out for food.

They go to a rest-stop for tourists to eat noodles, and Kae-in eats to her heart’s content, and even lets out a belch afterward, promising not to do such things in front of other men. She asks why they came all the way out here for noodles, and Jin-ho replies that he likes to come here sometimes because he likes seeing people on their way to somewhere else. He hasn’t really been on any trips since he went as a child with his dad.

Kae-in asks why he never went on college trips, and Jin-ho says that he was too busy studying. He had promised to be strict on himself in order to win back what he had lost. Kae-in asks him to take her on that trip that he’ll take when he finally gets back what was his. Jin-ho says he’ll think about it.

On the drive back they play a word game, and Kae-in thinks to herself in voiceover that her heart is full because of her friend that the Spring wind blew into her life—not a man, but not a woman. (Recalling the quack fortuneteller’s words from a while back). “But a feeling I can’t understand has begun…” Batten down the hatches, people. Hurricane Gay-But-Not-Gay-Love is rolling in!

The next day, President Han meets with President Choi, head of MS Group, the company behind the Dahm museum. Han plants an evil seed of doubt in the President’s mind, suggesting that he need not waste time with small-time architects who can’t give assurances as to the successful completion of such a large-scale project.

Over at Do-bin’s gallery, Kae-in has arrived for her meeting, much to the surprise of In-hee, who can’t suffer Kae-in to have anything of her own. I’ve decided that In-hee is like a bizarre version of an All-About-Eve doppelganger; she puts Kae-in down for being less than her, but in the end she wants everything that Kae-in has—true love, real heartbreak, loyal friends—all of which she’ll never have because she’s empty.

Do-bin wants Kae-in to create a space for kids to run around and play freely while their parents tour the museum, and Kae-in asks to consult with the designer on what kind of furniture they’ll need. Do-in informs her that she’ll be doing the remodeling herself, design, furniture, and all. Do-bin believes that she can do it, since she must’ve learned things from her father, and at that Kae-in is quick to declare that she can’t, and she doesn’t want to smear her father’s good name either. Do-bin insists he chose her based on her own talents, and challenges her: “Don’t you want to test yourself and find out what you can accomplish?”

Kae-in accepts the challenge and thanks Do-bin for the chance to prove herself. She impresses him by saying that bumping into In-hee won’t be a problem, and Do-bin comments that although she and Jin-ho are totally different, there’s an inherent similarity there too.

At Jin-ho’s office, Sang-jun receives a disturbing email from MS Group, outlining new prerequisites for architecture firms submitting designs. Basically they have to have boatloads of experience and truckloads of money to back the project, or they needn’t bother apply.

Do-bin rushes over to President Choi, who as it turns out, is his father. He argues that the whole point of the Dahm project is to find innovators, and if he shuts out small firms, it prevents him from finding the best ideas for the museum. Do-bin asks his father to entrust the project to him like he agreed to initially, but Dad doesn’t want to lose face with such a large project. So Do-bin throws down his last hand: he threatens to leave again.

Over with the other estranged father-son pair, Chang-ryul is upset that Dad made another backdoor deal to eliminate Jin-ho from the competition, when he said that he could win, fair and square. Dad thinks that’s childish, since winning is what’s important. And it says something that Chang-ryul doesn’t agree with Dad and would rather put up a fair fight.

Dad has also called In-hee to his office, where he blabbers on about the marriage, and In-hee awkwardly has to tell him that she and Chang-ryul are over. This is news to Dad who insults her by implying that she’s beneath them. In-hee comes back with a harsh truth of her own, saying that she may have fallen for him based on his wealth, but realized there were things that money couldn’t buy, and at the wedding she realized the kind of man she wanted to marry—someone she could trust and respect—wasn’t Chang-ryul.

Chang-ryul needs to have some words, so he takes her to the river. Again with the river! You’re just going to get dumped there!

Chang-ryul recounts the night that he decided he was going to stay the night at Kae-in’s (read: finally get some) and then got kicked out, and In-hee invited him to grab a drink. He wondered then why Kae-in didn’t see him as a man, and In-hee had replied that she did. If I had even an ounce of sympathy left for you at this point, it’s pretty much gone now.

Chang-ryul says he started to fall for In-hee from that night on, and eventually fell in love with her and wanted to get married. He asks why she said that to him that night. Was it because of his wealth or status? In-hee replies that it wasn’t…it was because Kae-in loved him so much. She saw Kae-in so happy and in love that she began to want what she had, and found herself falling for the man that Kae-in saw in Chang-ryul. But then in the end she realized what she loved was a figment of Kae-in’s perception, of her pure and undying love, and not who Chang-ryul really was. See? She’s totally single-white-female-ing her. And so…unaware of what love is. It’s sad, really. Okay, it would be sad if she weren’t such a snot.

Jin-ho and Sang-jun brood, and Tae-hoon brings news that President Han was behind MS Group’s new prerequisites. Well duh. Jin-ho gets fired up, and goes to see Do-bin at the gallery. In-hee tells him that Do-bin is out, probably trying to talk his father out of the changes, but she says that President Choi is not one to change his mind once it’s set. In-hee sees that he’s upset, so she offers to buy him a drink. Really? Well you’re nothing if not transparent. When he declines, she tries again: she could use a ride home…but Jin-ho declines yet again.

He wants a drink, but not the social kind. He sits alone at a pojangmacha and drinks soju…until he collapses on the ground.

In-hee comes home, and Chang-ryul is waiting. He tells her that she can have the apartment and that he’s leaving. He apologizes for causing her any trouble, and tells her not to confuse fantasy with reality anymore. His voice is sad and defeated, but also at peace too. He tells her to live well, and walks away.

Something stirs in In-hee, and she says tearfully that she’s sorry for getting in between him and Kae-in. Chang-ryul, heartbroken, tells her next time to love someone that she loves, not someone else’s love. She says she will. Bets on how long that’ll last?

Chang-ryul says that he really did love her, which maybe In-hee really hears for the first time ever. She’s sort of discovering this love as it’s leaving her, and even though I assumed she was dead inside, she sheds a tear. He goes, and she cries, as Chang-ryul listens to her from outside the door.

Kae-in decides to wait outside for Jin-ho because she’s worried that he’s still not home and not answering his phone. He stumbles home, drunk as a skunk and teetering back and forth. Kae-in rushes over to help him home, and he greets her hilariously: “Oh! My friend Park Kae-in!” He blathers on and on about his friend Kae-in, who’s like an enemy, doesn’t have a worry in the world, and everything is new to her. Basically he chatters away about his dear friend while Kae-in struggles to get him inside and coherent again.

Inside, Kae-in asks why he drank so much, and Jin-ho answers that there are days like this, when you need to drink. Tears welling in his eyes, he starts to open up to her.

Jin-ho: “I raced to the death, hearing people call me crazy. I raced to the death, but I’m always just a child. A child who couldn’t do anything when his father died. So unjust it makes me crazy. There was nothing I could do. Just a child hitting the wall. No matter how far I run, I’m always in the same place.”

His tears fall in little droplets as he talks about his father, and Kae-in listens, her own eyes filling with tears in empathy. She reaches over and cups his face in her hands, saying, “Jin-ho-shi, are you crying?” He looks into her eyes as she wipes a tear from his face. They lock eyes and melt in each other and in the moment. Jin-ho leans toward her, closes his eyes, and gives her a kiss.

Woo! I don’t know about you guys, but I did NOT think we were going to get to first base so quickly. I’m impressed at Jin-ho’s moves (not to mention Kae-in’s), although we’ll have to wait to find out how much of it was fueled by liquid courage. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of back-peddling and excuse-making, but now we’ve upped the ante and the entanglements should be delightfully explosive.

This was the first episode where I was happy about the speed of events and the development of plot points, for the most part. They seemed more carefully thought-out: for instance Jin-ho and Kae-in’s growing friendship and intimacy marked by the level of physical contact—from hand-holding, to hugs, to cheek kisses, to lips. We followed a trajectory from the beginning of the episode to the end, and it sped along nicely in between. I feel like the drama is hitting its stride, and hope that it’ll continue to race along, now that there’s going to be a little angst added to the mix.

I have to say, I love Sohn Ye-jin’s skills as a seasoned actor in scenes like this one. Both players are doing a fantastic job in these quiet, soulful scenes with each other, but what gives me a lump in my throat is not Lee Min-ho’s tears, but Sohn Ye-jin’s reaction to his crying, like she can’t bear the thought of his unhappiness. The empathy just shows on her face, and these two are quite magnetic in moments like this. I’m actually anticipating the angst in this series, because I think they’ll play the hell out of it.


126 April 24, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 7

by javabeans

This was it! This was the episode that made me love Personal Taste. All of a sudden it went from merely entertaining to heart-tugging, and I credit the great performances. I love Kae-in, I love Jin-ho, I love Sang-jun and Young-sun, I love Do-bin, I love to hate In-hee — pretty solid lineup, really. The directing and editing (this drama’s biggest weaknesses) were better in this episode and the music cues used in less obtrusive ways. But most of all, it was emotionally sincere.


Bubble Sisters – “가시리” (Thorn) [ Download ]

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As this episode (titled “Coming Out”) opens, Jin-ho is drunk and presumably lost in the moment, but Kae-in looks pained even as she’s kissing him. The next morning, she worries over what this means. Can he be interested in women? Specifically, her?

Jin-ho doesn’t betray any recollection of the night before and says that he was pretty drunk — he didn’t make a mistake, did he?

Arg — it’s a common phrase, but SO open to ambiguity! Example: In this case of a drunk guy kissing a girl, he might really mean, “Do you think what I did was a mistake? Or did you like it?” Or he might mean, “I can’t remember and I really hope you’re not mad!” By answering no, the girl might be saying, “No, I was happy with the kiss!” or she could be saying, “I don’t want to make you feel bad so I’ll say it didn’t happen and let’s let this go.” But nobody knows what anyone really means and everyone ends up dissatisfied. Most of all the viewer.

Kae-in tries the trick of saying that she had lent him 50,000 won, to see if he will protest. But Jin-ho can’t betray that he knows the truth and immediately reaches for his wallet, so she assures him that it was just a joke. Somberly, he says, “If I made a mistake, please forgive me.”

Disappointment plays across her face while she has her back turned to him, but she forces a smile upon facing him. She says lightly that it’s nothing, but once alone, she chides herself for confusing the moment for something it wasn’t.

Jin-ho decides to move out, now that he’s been cut out of the Dahm Museum project and has no reason to stay at the Sanggojae. It’s time for the firm to move on to new projects.

In case In-hee wasn’t hateable enough, at work she treats Kae-in coldly and even dares to admonish her for not addressing her more politely at work. She even calls Jin-ho while Kae-in is still in the room — talking in dulcet tones as though they’re closer than they are. On the other end of the line, Jin-ho is businesslike as ever, but Kae-in doesn’t know that. She listens to In-hee offer to buy him a drink as a pick-me-up for his recent setback.

Kae-in asks what that means, so In-hee tells her about Jin-ho losing his chance at the Dahm project, saying it in an accusatory tone like she’s a bad friend for not knowing. Dude, it’s not like she’s not a bad friend for backstabbing and cheating. In-hee accuses, “You’re always like this. You act nice, but in the end you only see what you want to see.”

The words make Kae-in feel guilty, but she isn’t the type to wallow in the sulks so she sets out to cheer herself and Jin-ho up. For one, she sees a doll in a store window and buys it, thinking it looks like Jin-ho. It sounds like she names the doll Jin-ho, but I’m going to guess that it’s actually Ji-no per the book. Making that slight name alteration is a playful gesture, like Kang Ji-hwan naming his dog Noki after Yi-nok.

Kae-in cooks dinner, then gives Jin-ho a pep talk to cheer up. Jin-ho, thinking of moving out, starts to give her general advice, which has the ring of a goodbye speech. Kae-in says that thinking of him leaving has ruined her appetite, and he tells her sharply to fix that sort of behavior, as she gets attached too easily. Jin-ho suggests one “last test” tomorrow, to see if she’s learned from his lessons. He’ll pretend to be her boyfriend to test her.

Stepping outside to take out the trash, Kae-in finds Chang-ryul drunk on the doorstep. He hadn’t intended to come here, but he wanted someone to talk to now that he has nobody to listen. Yeah, that’s what happens when you cheat and lie and alienate people.

Chang-ryul is genuinely heartbroken and confesses that his mother is moving to Africa. She couldn’t attend his wedding because of his father, and now her only wish is to cook a meal for her son and his wife (she doesn’t know about the breakup) before she leaves. This may be the last time he ever sees her, because in his mind there are no such things as planes, emails, or gchat. Yo, it’s called a webcam.

Kae-in reminds him that In-hee should be the one listening to this. He tells her that In-hee only liked the Chang-ryul of Kae-in’s fantasy, and “I was my best only when I was with you.” Okay, that is an unexpectedly sad tidbit that turns Chang-ryul into a rather pathetic character. Not likable, but sympathetic.

Overhearing the voices from inside, Jin-ho listens with a grave face as Chang-ryul asks a big favor of Kae-in (which we don’t hear). Chang-ryul acknowledges that it’s a crazy request and apologizes, but he’s desperate.

Kae-in tells Chang-ryul that he’s a real piece of work. How can he asks this of her? But she can’t remain indifferent when he cries that she is actually his biological mother, not just one of a string of brief stepmothers. The official story is that she died, but that was just because Chang-ryul’s father is a horrible person.

Back inside, Kae-in asks Jin-ho if they can push back their fake date, lying that she has to help her friend who has just had a baby. Jin-ho knows that she’s lying, and because he feels upset that she has succumbed to Chang-ryul’s demands again, his answers come out cold.

Kae-in feels hurt at his response, even though she tells her doll that she understands that it’s because his work is not going well. Still, can’t he get angry like a normal person, instead of taking it out on her?

Kae-in apologizes again for breaking the date. Seeing that Jin-ho is headed out for a drive, she asks if she can tag along.

As they drive, Kae-in shouts out the window, explaining to Jin-ho that his problem is that he holds everything inside, which is bound to make him sick. He should let it all out, like her. He attempts a pititful “Ya,” and she urges him to try again, a li’l bit louder now. He tries a second time, letting out a respectable “YAH!” Getting into the spirit of things, he adds, “You’re all dead!”

They end up at the river, and as girlfriday has so succinctly noted, nothing good ever happens at the river. It’s practically drama shorthand for Big Important Conversations, either of the heartbreaking or the gangster variety.

Kae-in suggests that Jin-ho do the last test here, because she feels ready. Jin-ho says seriously, “Don’t like me, because I don’t love you.” Kae-in deflates, until it occurs to her that this is his test, which is a relief. Jin-ho continues with the scenario, acting the part of a fictitious boyfriend who is trying to dump her and doesn’t deserve her compassion. (Her “test” is to respond to his breakup with dignity.)

Jin-ho says that he only dated her because she reminds him of an ex-girlfriend he can’t forget. If they keep dating, he may accidentally call her by the ex’s name, and he may even start wanting her to act like the ex. Is she still okay being with him despite that?

Kae-in thinks it over and answers slowly, “Because I love you, and we should all listen to the ones we love…”

Frustrated, Jin-ho grabs her — is this what he taught her? She’s being foolish again, giving the guy too much license to abuse her trust. Kae-in says that the words just came out automatically in response to his earnestness.

Obviously this is a mixed-up, conflicting scene for them; both are having trouble telling the difference between the fake scenario and their real feelings. Kae-in asks what she ought to have answered, because love is about putting aside your pride, isn’t it? Jin-ho contradicts her: love doesn’t make you lose pride, it helps you preserve it. He urges her not to trust anyone easily, or to love easily, or to forgive easily. It’s like he’s preparing her to shun him.

She promises to try, but Jin-ho thinks to himself, “Then you shouldn’t have agreed to that jerk Chang-ryul’s request. You’ll never change.”

Jin-ho drops Kae-in off at home, saying that he has something he has to do before going in. In actuality, he just needs to get out and to be alone.

He comes home with a rose, which he leaves outside her door, thinking, “Please, grow stronger.”

When Kae-in finds the rose in the morning Jin-ho cautions her to remember that roses have thorns, dashing our hopes that it had some other meaning. Now that’s just mean! Y’know, you could always snip the thorns off and then roses are romantic, Jin-ho!

Sang-jun and Young-sun: How much do I love thee?

Sang-jun’s voice goes up a couple notches when he answers her call in a fey tone: “Unni?” (This is particularly hilarious because the actor has a naturally baritone voice, and the way he switches back and forth is a hoot.) He has decided to put an end to this masquerade… but as soon as they meet, Young-sun presents him with skincare products like a doting older sister. Still, he grits his teeth and makes his confession — but then immediately rescinds it by saying it was a joke.

Young-sun has something to ask him, something she can’t quite ask Kae-in: “How am I as a woman?” Is she lacking appeal? No, of course not! She’s got a great figure and she’s totally attractive! Sang-jun heaps on the compliments, and Young-sun is duly flattered.

While I wouldn’t call these two co-dependent, they’ve found something comforting in this relationship, which allows them to play out these roles that make them happy. Of course, Sang-jun is faking his sexual orientation so I’m not going to call it completely healthy, but they’re enjoying this dynamic. Young-sun has somebody to take care of, and in exchange she has someone to buoy her spirits and assure her she’s wonderful. I love that this adds a tiny bit of subtlety to what could be played as simple comic relief.

Surprised at himself for chickening out of telling the truth, Sang-jun mutters to himself, “I think I’m addicted to the gay act.” (I would like a Sang-jun, please!)

Jin-ho comes home while Kae-in is getting ready to meet Chang-ryul. She invents a story about the fictional friend’s fictional baby, which Jin-ho recognizes as another lie.

You may have already guessed that Chang-ryul’s favor involves Kae-in posing as In-hee to meet his mother. Chang-ryul hasn’t had the heart (or the guts, or the spine) to tell his mother that In-hee dumped him, and wants to send her off happy.

At dinner, Kae-in(-hee) shovels food into her mouth, not saying anything. Not only does she not appreciate being used, she feels guilty for lying to Jin-ho. Chang-ryul urges her to speak up, but Kae-in mutters that he told her all she had to do was eat. When she steps aside to use the bathroom, she looks at herself in dissatisfaction and wonders what she’s doing.

Mom asks her son about the Dahm project, and Chang-ryul is actually bummed that his father stepped in to make it impossible for Jin-ho to participate. Mom considers that fortunate — she had worried that the bad blood in the parents’ generation would spill into the kids’ generation. Yeah, it’s so great that didn’t happen! Overhearing this conversation gives Kae-in the first indication of history between the families.

To cap off the evening, Mom presents Kae-in-hee with a brooch that she was given when she married.
Kae-in-hee wants to protest, but Mom pins it on her and she has to accept.

She hands it back to Chang-ryul when he drops her off at home. He tells her to keep it, since his mother gave it to her and the real In-hee has no right to it. Kae-in retorts that he can do whatever he pleases with it, but she isn’t keeping it.

Jin-ho is home when she enters, but before he has a chance to say anything, she beelines for the bathroom. After shoving food down her throat all night, it’s no surprise that she throws up. Jin-ho pats her back, although I think this is a case where holding back her hair might be more helpful, dude. Isn’t that what best girlfriends are for?

Still feeling ill, Kae-in asks Jin-ho to prick her finger (the traditional method of relieving indigestion). Jin-ho is squeamish and refuses to do it, but when Kae-in heads to the bathroom for a second vomiting spell, he agrees.

(To use this method, one typically massages the blood in the arm down to the fingertips, then wraps the thumb with thread to trap the blood. Using a sterilized needle, the skin just above the nailbed is pierced, letting out blood that is blackened, therefore freeing the circulation from the blockage causing the heartburn. It sounds like crazy voodoo stuff but it really works, and brings relief about a half-hour quicker than Tums.)

Jin-ho grasps the needle and braces himself, squeezing his eyes shut — eek, keep them OPEN when you’re thrusting a sharp pointy object into my person! — and stabs. Kae-in yelps, but it does the trick.

Thinking of the conversation she overheard, Kae-in asks whether his father knew Chang-ryul’s father. It turns out that Chang-ryul’s father was an employee of Mirae when Jin-ho’s father was running it, and had joined with a rival to steal away control of the company. This explains Jin-ho’s drunken, deprecating words from the night before.

Kae-in urges Jin-ho not to give up — that’s not like him. It’s too unfair to be forced to quit his project just because his opponents went behind his back like cowards to block him. In an effort to buoy his mood, she offers to cook for him to cheer him up, and although he declines the food, it’s the thought that counts more than the meal itself. (And when we’re talking about Kae-in’s cooking, that’s probably wise.)

In-hee had tipped Jin-ho off about Do-bin standing up to his father about the Dahm project bid, which gives him hope that all is not lost. Although he initially brushed this aside, now with Kae-in’s encouragement ringing in his ears, he reconsiders.

Using In-hee’s tip, he visits the villa where Do-bin has gone for some peace, joining him by the waterside where the latter is fishing. Do-bin knows he must be here because of the museum, but rather than jumping into business matters, Jin-ho soaks in the tranquil vibe and seems in no rush to press his case; he says that chatting with a friend seems like a better idea at the moment.

I find it interesting how he is here for the Dahm project, but he puts no pressure on Do-bin. The Mirae guys are throwing their weight around (and lots of money), trying to strong-arm their way in to getting what they want. Jin-ho, by contrast, is pretty much staking this last chance on his character.

In a thoughtful mood, the men sit and look out at the water. Do-bin asks Jin-ho if he has ever confessed love for someone. He’d only done it once before, with a hoobae (junior student) at university. Jin-ho has had a similar experience, but admits that he was the problem in the relationship — he had felt that love required him to DO so much. (This suggests that Jin-ho probably wasn’t in love, if he saw dating as a sum of activities.)

Do-bin had confessed his feelings to his crush, and for a brief while they were together. However, he felt that his love was “toxic,” and so he broke the relationship off first. The handkerchief that he lent Jin-ho is his only memento.

Jin-ho comments that the handkerchief was quite valuable for him to have lent it to him, and Do-bin supposes that it happened so that they could become friends. It’s a nice, understated scene between these two.

Back at home, Jin-ho feels content that he did as much as he possibly could. Looking up at the sky, he tells Kae-in that he’ll miss this sight of the sky from Sanggojae. She tells him, “Then you can live here for a long time.” But alas, dramatic irony says no!

Do-bin informs Kae-in about the possibility of him leaving his job, assuring her that her job is secure regardless of what happens to him. He is prepared to fight for his belief that the Dahm competition should be fair, and if things work out, he’ll stay. But if not, he’ll leave, and he’s telling her now in the event he doesn’t have a chance to later.

Kae-in finds his rueful tone worrisome, but there’s not much she can do. Without anything else to say, she calls out to him, “Fighting!”

Team Mirae (President Han, Chang-ryul, and the secretary) arrives at the museum to demand a briefing on the project. (He sure believes in being aggressive, doesn’t he?)

The men see Kae-in rushing out of the museum, curious about her business here. The secretary reports that Kae-in is in charge of designing the children’s lounge, and furthermore, she is Park Chul-han’s daughter. Immediately, Han kicks his son for being so foolish as to dump the legendary architect’s daughter.

I do love these comic misunderstandings, and we have another when Tae-hoon and Sang-jun show up to work wearing the same striped sweater. Sang-jun has swiped his from Jin-ho, while Tae-hoon has decided to copy Jin-ho in everything in order to win over Hye-mi. Both men want the other guy to change his shirt; Tae-hoon thinks he’s got a better claim to it, and insults Sang-jun for being too round for his.

Jin-ho has bigger things on his mind than his matching employees and broods in his office. Catching himself thinking back to the kiss, he wonders what’s wrong with him. Oh, I know, I know!

Meanwhile, Tae-hoon and Sang-jun’s argument results in coffee being spilled on Sang-jun. Ah, now the reason for this all becomes clear! Now Tae-hoon has even more reason to pressure Sang-jun to change shirts, and jokes, “Take it off, hyung!”

Kae-in arrives in time to see their incriminating pose, with Tae-hoon jokingly trying to pull the sweater off. Sang-jun immediately knows what Kae-in must be thinking and says, “This isn’t what it looks like” — and honestly, when have those words ever been used to describe something innocent?

Sang-jun tries to shut Kae-in up before she mentions The Gaaay, taking her to Jin-ho’s office. Laughing about her misunderstanding re: Tae-hoon, Sang-jun tells Jin-ho in a flirty tone, “You know you’re the only one for me, don’t you?”

Kae-in gives Sang-jun the evil eye for being disloyal to Jin-ho, who decides that enough is enough. Sending Sang-jun out, he explains to her, “I’ve never dated them, either one. You misunderstood from the beginning.” Kae-in doesn’t quite get what he’s saying, and he fumbles for words, adding, “I’m not actually g—”

Which, of course, is when Sang-jun bursts back in and interrupts. Jin-ho pushes him back out and tries to resume talking, but of course the moment is lost. Kae-in recalls the reason for her visit, and shares that Do-bin told her there’s a chance that things may work out for Jin-ho, because he’s going to fight. Jin-ho says she could have called, but she answers that she wanted to see him smile in person. Aw.

Han’s lackeys — Chang-ryul and the secretary — wait for Kae-in to return to the museum so they can see what she’s up to. To Chang-ryul’s surprise, she arrives with Jin-ho, and being the self-centered fool that he is, Chang-ryul decides that she must be hanging out with Jin-ho because of him — she’s doing it to get back at him.

By chance, Chang-ryul runs into an old friend, played by Julien Kang, which gives them a chance to speak some English (Julien is Canadian, Kim Ji-suk lived in England). They head inside for a chat, and Julien — er, I think his character’s name is Joe, though it hardly matters — explains that he’s here because he happens to be acquainted with Do-bin.

As Joe explains how he knew Do-bin, he reverts from Korean to English to make this delicate revelation: “Mr. Choi is… special.”

Jin-ho is here to return the handkerchief and to thank Do-bin for fighting on his behalf for the museum project, regardless of the outcome.

Do-bin muses, “Do you know, when I’m with you my mood improves,” which is a compliment that Jin-ho readily returns. Do-bin asks, “Then do you also know that I like you?” Jin-ho returns, “I like you, too.” But… they’re having two entirely different conversations here, if ya know what I mean.

Jin-ho means his words, but purely at face value. However, recall that Do-bin already believes Jin-ho is gay…

To keep us hanging for just a moment longer, we return to Chang-ryul, who prods Joe for a straight (snerk) answer. Joe does that maddening thing where he practically taunts, “YOU know… oh you don’t know?… maybe I shouldn’t tell… but do you want to know?” He may as well be a 16-year-old mean girl, the way he relishes this gossip. He says knowingly, “Well, he’ll never be able to fulfill his desire. What Mr. Choi likes is… a man.”

(This is cringey acting at its cringiest. The cheesy English dialogue certainly doesn’t help. Eek!)

We don’t hear the declaration directly from Do-bin, but we return to see Jin-ho’s stunned reaction. Do-bin confesses that he first started to feel something for him at the Dream Art Center presentation, and the moment he heard about Jin-ho’s “true nature,” he felt they shared a special connection.

Jin-ho stutters, unable to come up with a proper response. Do-bin continues, saying that he hadn’t thought to confess his feelings for someone again, but he believes that Jin-ho will understand how he feels, which is how he mustered the nerve to confess. Do-bin isn’t asking for an answer now; they can both take time to think.

(Ryu Seung-ryong is so good, because he makes you feel sorry for his hope, and it makes you hope that Jin-ho will somehow be able to escape without hurting his feelings. He’s really vulnerable in this moment, and he’s just basically given Jin-ho the means with which to hurt him…)

Speechless, Jin-ho walks out of the meeting with heavy steps. He’s not in the mood for drama when Chang-ryul confronts him, all puffed up with bravado now that he thinks he’s got the upper hand.

Jin-ho warns that this isn’t the time to mess with him, but Chang-ryul taunts, “The almighty Jeon Jin-ho wouldn’t possibly pretend to be gay to gain Director Choi’s interest, would he? I thought you said you wanted to fight with bare fists, fair and square, you punk.” His voice turns aggressive and Chang-ryul grabs Jin-ho’s shoulder, so Jin-ho lets fly a punch.

Chang-ryul takes this as confirmation, and says that he didn’t think Jin-ho would be so low to use Do-bin’s sexual orientation for his own gain. Jin-ho says he’s never used Do-bin, so Chang-ryul scoffs, “What, then? Are you dating? Why do you keep hanging around here?”

Alas, just at this moment Jin-ho sees Do-bin standing there, having heard everything. Chang-ryul continues to challenge Jin-ho — is he using Do-bin? Or is he really gay? What, is there no Door No. 3?

As if the moment weren’t fraught enough, a different angle reveals to us — but not to the men — that a fourth person has walked into this conversation. As Chang-ryul presses for Jin-ho’s explanation, two very curious, very vulnerable people await his answer, each hoping for a different response.

Jin-ho can tell the truth and hurt Do-bin — and also potentially make himself look like he was using him, as Chang-ryul accuses — or he can lie to preserve Do-bin’s feelings and give Chang-ryul more ammunition against himself. After struggling with himself for a long moment, Jin-ho answers, “You’re right. I’m… gay.”

Kae-in drops her materials in shock, which fall to the ground loudly. Jin-ho turns and sees her standing there, but what can he do? He hangs his head in chagrin.

Chang-ryul reacts to this with surprise but also glee, like he just can’t wait to rub this into Jin-ho’s face. He crows, “Really? So you weren’t really a man?” (This hammers in the point I mentioned in a previous recap about the Korean wording that pegs gay men as “not really men.”)

Sick of Chang-ryul’s douchey behavior, Kae-in bursts in to tell him to cut it out, and I love her in this moment. I think her expression (below) explains just why she’s such a good friend.

Do-bin quietly leaves as Kae-in challenges Chang-ryul, “Who are you to mock him? It’s not like he wanted to be born this way. So if a man loves a woman, he’s a man — but is he not a man if he loves another man? Are you a real man — is that why you tore my heart?”

Jin-ho tries to stop this argument, but he goes unheard. Finally, he yells for her to stop and angrily he walks off. Kae-in follows him out to the car, pleading with him to talk to her. Dully, he asks, “What about? I have nothing to say.” He gets in the car and leaves.

Chang-ryul accosts Kae-in to demand what her relationship is with Jin-ho. Why is she taking the side “of such a dirty bastard”? He sneers, “Are you dating a gay guy now?”

Just as In-hee comes along (unseen for the moment), Kae-in slaps him, demanding, “Dirty? What’s dirty? Why is Jin-ho dirty? Whether man or woman, a person loves a person. You’ve never truly loved anyone. Who are you to call him dirty?”

Her passionate response startles Chang-ryul, who says, “You weren’t even like this when I broke up with you.” Kae-in agrees that back then she couldn’t say a thing, stupid fool that she was. “But not anymore. Jin-ho must have changed me.”

And Jin-ho drives off feeling all sorts of frustrated, driving recklessly.


What made this episode stand out was that the conflicts were played out from a place of emotional sincerity. We’ve had our gay-not-gay jokes and comic misunderstandings, all meant to elicit laughs. Now it’s time to get deeper into the messy conflict, and I appreciate that they treat this problem of Jin-ho’s mistaken identity with respect. How much do I love that the one actual gay guy in this drama is portrayed with such quiet dignity? There are no laughs made at his expense, and despite the fact that Do-bin’s misunderstanding is rife with comic potential, I like that they didn’t write him off as joke fodder.

Ryu Seung-ryong played his scenes with so much pathos that I felt myself moved along with him. Rather than exaggerating his misunderstanding, he cautiously puts his trust into Jin-ho’s hands — to be protected or shredded at his will — and I found myself hoping against hope that maybe Jin-ho could be gay after all, since Do-bin is lonely character. In fact, he’s rather tragic, in the way he is forced to live in isolation. It’s not that he is repressing his homosexuality or self-loathing, because one gets the sense he has accepted himself for who he is. However, Korean society is still generally unaccepting of gays, and therefore he has decided to live without romantic love. Now that he finds someone who makes him hope again, we feel sad to know that his hopes must at some point be dashed.

Furthermore, I love the way Lee Min-ho played Jin-ho’s struggle whether to say he is gay or not. It wasn’t about his own pride at all, nor was it about sticking it to Chang-ryul. Instead, he understood that he’d been given something fragile and held the power to break that or preserve it with his answer. When he “admits” that he is gay out of respect for Do-bin’s confession, it just about melted my heart. (If only he had seen Kae-in first! But then I fear he would have been so conflicted it woulda broken him, he’d be like the robot who self-destructs when presented with logical fallacy.) And then Kae-in hears this, and Jin-ho realizes he has closed the door to any possibility with her, whereupon she leaps to his defense. If it weren’t already in a gooey puddle on the floor, my heart would have then broken. And I love Sohn Ye-jin as Kae-in — she hits every note just right, whether it be a comic moment or a heartfelt one, but particularly the heartfelt ones. Her impassioned defense of Jin-ho is angry, hurt, loving, indignant, sorrowful, all at once.

The novel played these moments off as comedy bits, but the drama actually imbues them with heart and emotion. (I usually feel the opposite to be true when novels are adapted to the screen.)

Also: Isn’t it ironic that Kae-in finally gives Chang-ryul the answer he deserves, and it’s all because of Jin-ho — but not because of his “lessons”? She’s not asserting her own pride, but upset at his affront to Jin-ho’s.


162 April 26, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 8

by girlfriday

What a difference a week makes. Everyone comes flying out of the closet, and the ensuing angst isn’t even the half of it. The comedy, the sincerity, the confluence of events—all hit a high this week as our characters discover that their hearts are doing things separate from their minds. In this episode, entitled “Kae-in’s Revenge,” exes pop out of the woodwork and fuel the story forward in unexpected ways, leading our couple closer together…and further apart.


Jin-ho continues driving like a madman down the streets of Seoul, and I can’t even focus on the angst because I’m like “Stop the car! Boy, I will reach right in there and MAKE you stop!” Crazy driving makes me anxious. People end up in comas and forget who they loved only to discover it the day their soulmate is standing at the altar with someone else…oh, I’m getting carried away. Are you at least wearing your seatbelt?!

Back with Kae-in’s B-side and ultimate smack-a-thon with Chang-ryul, he tells her to stop feeling sorry for Jin-ho because he’s just a low-down scumbag who’s using Do-bin’s sexual orientation to manipulate his way into getting the Dahm project. In-hee of course is witnessing all this and stows that tidbit away for her future wily plans. Kae-in spits back that there’s no way Jin-ho would do that; he’s not the kind of person to use and abuse, unlike YOU, Han Chang-ryul. Nice. She defends Jin-ho’s honor, saying that she truly knows him.

Kae-in leaves Jin-ho a voicemail, telling him not to drive in that mood, and to just pull over and take a deep breath. Thankfully he listens and pulls over by the river. But it turns out he’s got other things to ponder, as today is also the anniversary of his father’s death. He goes home, where Mom, Hye-mi, and Sang-jun are preparing the table.

Sang-jun comes into Jin-ho’s room, commenting on Jin-ho’s perfect penmanship, saying that Jin-ho should consider himself lucky that Sang-jun stays by his side, since he’s the type to be singled out and rejected by other men (he means this in a juvenile, schoolyard way). But when Jin-ho doesn’t respond right away, he squeaks: “Are you mad at me?” Haha.

Sang-jun wonders if something happened with the Dahm project, and starts sniffing around (literally), saying that he smells something fishy. And who could resist eau de Min-ho? Hye-mi catches him mid-sniff, and points out how weird this looks. She asks, “Do you like men, Sang-jun oppa?” Jin-ho’s like, what’s the deal with all the gay in my life right now?

Hye-mi gets called out by Mom, and Sang-jun turns to Jin-ho: “Do you think…could it be that I’m really in love with you? If that clueless girl Hye-mi noticed something, then maybe…I’m in love with you?” YES! Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying all along!

Jin-ho doesn’t even bat an eyelash: “Get out.” Sang-jun: “Oooh, jagi, you’re being so cold right now it’s sexy.” AHAHAHAHA! You are SO in love with him!

But Jin-ho’s not in the mood for jokes: “I said get out.” Sang-jun gives a playful “okay,” giving up the games, and shouts out at Mom for a blind date set-up. Omona, I love this guy. Jin-ho is just infinitely better because he’s best friends with this guy; that’s how awesome he is.

Jin-ho honors his father, and I’m sure he’s wondering if his actions of late are letting his father down, but in my book, that courageous outing—out of compassion and sensitivity—makes him the best kind of man. Well, initial lie to Kae-in notwithstanding. But that was a misunderstanding that snowballed into lunacy, and it’s sort of too late to be straight with her. Heh…heh, heh. Come on, you have to let me have ONE pun. I’ve been such a good girl!

Back at home, Kae-in debriefs Young-sun on the events of the day, and Young-sun agrees that Jin-ho was very brave. Kae-in adds that she also slapped Chang-ryul. Young-sun, mouth agape, asks how on earth she had the balls to do that, all of a sudden. Kae-in says she doesn’t even know what came over her, but when Chang-ryul called Jin-ho “dirty,” her hand just came up out of nowhere. Young-sun wonders if maybe Kae-in’s got some other feelings towards Jin-ho, since this is such an uncharacteristically bold thing for her to do. Kae-in insists (a little too much) that it’s just friendship, nothing more.

Jin-ho and Sang-jun are out for a drink, and Sang-jun notices that something’s wrong with Jin-ho. Was it the telltale kdrama sign of angst: pounding soju? Jin-ho wonders why life is so hard, as he silently drinks, and thinks back to Do-bin and Kae-in’s reactions to his coming out.

He comes home, where Kae-in is up waiting for him. She timidly asks why he went to such lengths, outing himself that afternoon. Jin-ho replies that when Chang-ryul asked him if he was using Do-bin, in that moment he could see Do-bin’s face. “Those eyes…looked so sad. I couldn’t not say it wasn’t true.”

But he wonders aloud, “Could that have been it? What if it was my competitive streak with Chang-ryul? Or maybe, I really was using Director Choi.” Kae-in is quick to prove him wrong. Jin-ho asks why she’s so firmly on his side. Kae-in: “Because we’re friends. Friends are supposed to take your side no matter what.” Jin-ho smiles, and points out that she’s always getting hurt that way. Kae-in scoffs that she’d never be hurt by Jin-ho. That makes him feel guilty enough to start confessing: “Actually, I…” But she cuts him off. No! Why must you interrupt the man when he’s about to confess his un-gay-ness for you! Why?

She goes back into her workshop, and Jin-ho follows, offering his help. They banter back and forth about work, and Jin-ho offers to buy up all her furniture if he does well, but Kae-in is quick to veto that. She’s got her pride as an artist—it’s the one thing that’s kept her going all these years, and it’s clear that Jin-ho’s impressed by this aspect of Kae-in’s otherwise doormatty personality.

He goads her, “Do you even know what pride is?” At that, she reaches slyly over to her chainsaw, making Jin-ho jump back and cry out for her to put it back down. HAHA. Jin-ho reacts like a little girl who’s seen a mouse: “When I moved in I almost died of a heart attack from that thing! Put it down!” Kae-in picks it up and moves closer: “How’s my pride, now?” Jin-ho finally concedes, with a thumbs up: “It’s the best.” Oh my god, how much more do I love their interactions when there’s heavy machinery involved? I’d love to see her wield a nail gun to make him do the dishes.

The next morning, they’re off in Jin-ho’s car, and Kae-in has done her version of looking nice, wearing a cute bowler hat and some lipstick. She adorably points it out to Jin-ho, seeking his approval, but he’s like, isn’t it because you didn’t wash your hair? Heh. She concedes. He drops her off at her bus, where she runs to barely catch it, being her usual bumbling self. But this time instead of getting exasperated, it makes Jin-ho smile as he watches her.

She gets on the bus and opens the window, leaning out just to wave at Jin-ho as he drives by, and the smile that breaks across his face…I can only describe that as pure unadulterated joy. I don’t know if it’s just because he’s been such a stiff serious fellow until now that the contrast is so stark, but his smile just makes me involuntarily grin from ear to ear, clutching my cheeks from smile ouchies.

When Kae-in goes to work, Chang-ryul is lying in wait, and wants to have a word. Instead of kicking him in the groin, like she ought, she goes to have coffee with him. When she’s short and snide with him, he has the nerve to wonder why she wasn’t like that when they were together—he would’ve grown less tired of her, see. Oh, is THAT what you dragged me here to say, jackass?…is what I want her to say. But she listens for a while as he tells her he wants to get back together. He’s sorry, he’s regretful, he’s hurting, blah, blah. Listen, buddy…you blew your shot the day you walked the queen of the vampires down the aisle. But you’re free to grovel anytime.

At Jin-ho’s office, they find out that MS Group has changed the prerequisites for the Dahm designers, and celebrate the news. Jin-ho feels guilty, but doesn’t betray why he’s in no mood to celebrate. The Hans over at Mirae also hear the news, and get very upset, and I’m thinking, what’s the big deal? If you’re such a big architecture firm, can’t you just use your big resources and make a good design? I know they’re the “bad guys,” but I hate one-dimensional villains more than anything. I mean, this is just the qualifying round. If you’re such stiff competition, let’s see it in the work, people.

But then, the real villainy begins. Chang-ryul meets with a private investigator, and assigns him to do a background check on Jin-ho. Private life, the gay, everything. Okay, that’s more like it. Bring it on, dirtbag!

In another coffee shop, Young-sun has just told Sang-jun about Jin-ho’s coming out, and Sang-jun omo-omo-omonas all over the place. Young-sun asks if he knows about Jin-ho’s relationship with Do-bin, causing Sang-jun’s eyes to roll into the back of his head.

And when he reacts badly, she adds that he can’t be mad since he’s been two-timing with Tae-hoon anyway. Kae-in told her about the two of them wearing couple-tees (HA!) and being lovey dovey with each other. Sang-jun is on gay overload from all the news, and even the way he hangs his head down is funny.

Young-sun asks if Sang-jun cheated on Jin-ho first, and Sang-jun’s “Omo, what are you talking about?” seems more like a declaration that he would never cheat on his Jin-ho. Heh. Young-sun muses that relationships between men and women are hard, but perhaps the ones between men are even more complicated. Oh, you haven’t even uncovered the first layer of complicated in gaydom, sister. There’s levels and sublevels, and branches with words you’ve never even heard of. He’s so agitated that when he gets up to leave, he walks right into the glass wall of the coffee shop, making me die of laughter. That sight gag’s a classic for a reason.

Sang-jun rushes back to the office to ask Jin-ho how he could have outted himself in front of Director Choi and Chang-ryul. Jin-ho asks how on earth he found out about that, and Sang-jun says that “Young-sun unni” told him. Jin-ho, no matter how gay-sensitive, is not cool with the male appropriation of the word “unni,” heh, so he puts a stop to that. He heads out to meet with Do-bin, and Sang-jun asks, “To go out on a date?” Jin-ho looks back at him like, dude, seriously? And Sang-jun looks back all, what?

Jin-ho leaves, and Sang-jun tries to convince him that re-outing himself as straight now will only make the situation worse; maybe they should use the opportunity as a gift from heaven and work hard on the project, righting wrongs later. But Jin-ho doesn’t see it that way, which is why he’s the hero, right?

He meets with Do-bin, and thanks him for creating the opportunity for him with such good feelings. (Note that he calls Do-bin’s feelings for him “good” as opposed to Chang-ryul’s very pointed use of the word “dirty” in reference to those same feelings.) Jin-ho: “But…I can’t return those feelings to you.” Do-bin closes his eyes, not wishing to betray his heartbreak.

Jin-ho says that he knows it’ll seem like he used Director Choi, but he wanted to be honest now, rather than use his feelings. It’s the best thing he can say under these circumstances, but I would really rather him just fess up to being straight, since what’s one more confession to add once you’re already breaking his heart, one way or another?

Do-bin reacts very graciously, asking if Jin-ho’s trying to make him out to be the bad guy. He didn’t make the opportunity for Jin-ho’s firm because of his feelings; he simply wants Jin-ho to do his best for the Dahm project. But his eyes betray tears and a wounded heart. He’s not ready to take Jin-ho’s rejection at face value, and offers a fishing trip. The hope in his eyes kills me. Jin-ho tells him that he’ll repay the kindness by putting his all into the project, and leaves. Methinks this conversation is not over, and Jin-ho will be making me cry if he breaks Do-bin’s heart any further.

In-hee catches Jin-ho on his way out, and asks him to buy her dinner to thank her, and am I the only one who’s thinking, who asks for someone to buy them a thank-you dinner? If you have to ask someone for a thank-you dinner, chances are, they’re not thankful anymore! Anyway, Jin-ho finally takes her out to dinner, if only to shut her up, and In-hee tells him about Kae-in’s slap the other day, wondering if maybe Kae-in has other feelings for Jin-ho. Okay, nosey noserson. Jin-ho’s clearly not interested in what she has to say, either, because the entire time, he’s doing this:

She adds that when she started to work for Director Choi, she had entertained aspirations of becoming Mrs. Choi and the heir to MS Group (well why don’t you just tattoo “Golddigger” on your forehead, then?), but she never felt that Do-bin was a “man,” the way that she keeps feeling toward Jin-ho. Jin-ho, annoyed, asks why he has to talk about this, and gets up to leave. In-hee lays on one last thing: “What made him move into Sang-go-jae? Must have just been coincidence, right?” Oh, you bug-eyed twit! Jin-ho doesn’t answer and leaves. In-hee smirks, making me want to slam that plate of food in her face.

Speaking of characters who make me want to do petty things, Chang-ryul’s father lies in wait for Kae-in to come home, then takes the time to tell her things…that shouldn’t be said. I mean, even from his perspective, these are stupid things to say. He tells her that he’s sorry for what Chang-ryul did, and that if they had known who’s daughter she was, they never would have treated her that way. Er, what now? Is there someone on this planet to whom that speech would give the warm fuzzies? I don’t get you, scarface. An actually effective evildoer would ply her with compliments about her person, not her birthright, revealing the truth of your evil ways. Dumbass. Kae-in responds like anyone would—in abject horror.

She goes home, huffing and puffing in disbelief, and then Young-sun comes over to send her over the edge: someone has bought all of Kae-in’s furniture off of Young-sun’s website, and the buyer? Han Chang-ryul. Kae-in can feel herself going stark raving mad under the surface.

Jin-ho comes home to the sound of chopping wood, and rushes over to find Kae-in bleeding all over her workshop. He rushes over to help her, but she goes straight to the bathroom to run her bleeding hand under water. He knows something’s wrong, and says, “You know people have a funny habit of hurting themselves when they’re angry.” Kae-in: “Because I’m stupid. They all think that I’m so easy.”

The next day she meets with Chang-ryul and coldly asks why he bought all her chairs. He says that he was trying to contact Young-sun (to try the friend angle) and saw the chairs, so he bought them because they’re important to her, adding that he’s going to donate them because he wants to be like her. Kae-in looks like she might be softening a little bit, and then she asks if he really wants to start over with her. Chang-ryul beams in surprise.

Back at home, Kae-in does a head-stand to help her think better, and when that doesn’t work, she goes for a run. Jin-ho sweetly stands watch over her as she does all this, finally stopping her to ask what on earth is going on. She just looks up at him with determination and says, “I’m going to get my revenge!”

On their way back home, Jin-ho tells her she’s not cut out for vengeance, and Kae-in insists that she can do it. Jin-ho tries to convince her by telling her about his mom, the person he loves most in this world. Aw. He says that Mom wants to get her revenge as well, but she’ll never be able to, because she’s too sensitive—the second she lays eyes on her opponent, tears come flowing first. Jin-ho: “Do you know why I became friends with you in the first place? Because you are exactly like my mom. That means you’ll never be able to get your revenge.” It’s sweet and actually a compliment, but it’s not what Kae-in wants to hear right now.

She bangs her head against Jin-ho’s back in frustration. It’s so cute that Jin-ho is constantly this giant wall that she’s running into and hanging off of in comical ways. Back at home Kae-in gets sworn in as Lady Vengeance, under the tutelage of Teacher Jin-ho. Jin-ho asks her again if she really feels the need to do this; he’d rather her just move on. Kae-in: “What about an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose?” Jin-ho: “It’s eye for an eye…and a tooth for a tooth.” Heh, well you said she’d be bad at revenge.

They stand in the bathroom, and Kae-in looks at herself in the mirror, about to say something, then losing her nerve. She insists she can’t do it, but Jin-ho teases her: “You don’t want revenge, do you? With confidence, now!” Kae-in looks timidly at herself in the mirror, and says: “I am pretty.” HA. Jin-ho’s teaching her to say self-affirming things in the mirror!

It’s simultaneously cute, funny, embarrassing, and empowering—because what woman doesn’t deserve a friend who will teach her to do this? But man, is it hard to do. Kae-in hilariously tries out statements like “You’re sexy!” and “You are perfect,” all the while with Jin-ho smiling to himself at her utter adorableness. Hands down the cutest scene of the episode.

The next day she’s ready for her final test—they go on that date that Jin-ho proposed in the last episode. Kae-in comes out all dolled up, making Jin-ho’s face go gaga. Such a sucker for that moment. Such a cliché, but oh so satisfying.

She walks over to the car, but he stops her, opening her door for her, saying, “Get in, princess.” Kae-in tells him to stop grossing her out with the sweet talk (heh) but he reminds her that a woman who values herself gets treated well. So he tries it again: “Get in, princess.” And she responds royally, making him laugh.

They go to the movies, and Jin-ho asks her what she wants to see. As per usual, Kae-in defers the choice to him, but Jin-ho teaches her to assert her opinions. Jin-ho suggests an action-adventure. Kae-in: “Don’t be ridiculous! We will watch a romantic comedy!” Haha. She’s learning!

But the fun gets interrupted by Yoon Eun-hye’s cameo appearance. She’s Eun-soo, Jin-ho’s ex, and although they never say as much in front of Kae-in, she can pick up on the more-than-friends vibe. She asks if Kae-in is Jin-ho’s girlfriend, which he denies, but then Kae-in says, “then what am I, your boyfriend?” speaking of course platonically, not knowing the context.

The three of them go on a really awkward coffee date, where Eun-soo asks how they met. Kae-in starts to tell her of the encounter involving butts…but Jin-ho shoves her drink in her mouth, shutting her up out of embarrassment. Eun-soo and Jin-ho reminisce a little about their college days and all the time they spent studying in the library, and then Eun-soo gets up to leave. There’s a quick nod to Coffee Prince on a close-up of the mug (they are at a Coffee Prince shop) and overall Yoon’s cameo is nicely understated and not fourth-wall-collapsing.

Jin-ho walks her outside, and she asks if he ever regrets not stopping her from going abroad. He just says he’s sorry. Eun-soo says that she wants to have someone to watch movies with before she runs into Jin-ho again, say in ten years. It’s a nice sentiment and of course well-acted, that implies that she knows he’s moved on, and she will too. She adds that Kae-in seems like a good person, and walks away.

Kae-in comes out, and tells Jin-ho that he and Eun-soo seem like exes. He replies, “Apart from being a man or a woman, she’s the person who bewitched me most. She was a kindred spirit to me.” Kae-in: “I want to be like her. Someone you consider a kindred spirit.”

Later they sit outside, overlooking the city, and Jin-ho surprises Kae-in with a confession: “I like you. I always end up laughing because of you.” Kae-in is totally confused because he seems so sincere, but it turns out he’s teaching her another one of his “lessons.” Really? I’m pretty sure you don’t know the difference between reality and “lessons” anymore, pal. Stop tugging a girl’s heartstrings!

Jin-ho flashes back to when he really confessed his feelings for Eun-soo, asking her if she wanted to stop being friends. It’s adorable and it helps to flesh out Jin-ho’s character too, knowing that he has this past love and loss in his life, and is not a total workaholic who is out of touch with his heart.

They get up, but before they leave, Kae-in stops Jin-ho to write something on his back with her finger. She writes a diary entry, where she says in voiceover: “In the next, next, next life…come back to me as a man…who can love a woman.” Eeee. It’s so heartfelt, and accepting, and wistful and sad.

On the way to work the next day, Jin-ho imparts another lesson: a good sense of humor will totally reel in the men. Really? Where’s my line of dudes? Kae-in’s confident in this one: she’s got humor in spades. Jin-ho: “You slip and fall and break things…that’s slapstick, not a sense of humor.” Heh, he’s got a point. So she tells a joke, which doesn’t go over well, and then asks him to demonstrate, since he’s the teacher. But he can’t think of one right now. So she tells him to call her when he does.

Commence cuteness, with Jin-ho asking Sang-jun and Tae-hoon for jokes, and calling Kae-in all day long with new attempts to make her laugh. Meanwhile, Kae-in goes to a lumber yard to buy some materials for the playroom project. She gets a call from Chang-ryul who insists on coming to get her, and she’s cold but decides to let him dig his own grave for her sweet revenge.

Jin-ho calls her back with another joke, this time succeeding in making her laugh (with a pun, not really funny in translation), but while she’s still on the phone with him, she gets squashed by some wood beams, knocking her unconscious. Jin-ho rushes over and calls the lumber yard, where they tell him she’s been moved to the hospital.

But when he finally arrives, he’s too late. Chang-ryul is by her side…and that’s when it hits him. I know, it’s cliché that he has to see Chang-ryul there, taking care of her to know that that isn’t right—that HE should be the one at her side. But I DON’T CARE, because it makes my heart stop, the look on his face. I can’t breathe.

And then? He goes right over there, sweetly asking if Kae-in is okay, and when Chang-ryul gets in his face, he says, “I’m going to start a love with this woman, so butt out.” He pushes Chang-ryul out of the way and takes Kae-in gently by the hand, as they walk out of the hospital.

Only when he looks down at his hand, it’s empty, and she’s not there. NO! Aaaaaaack. Why art thou trying to kill me, Show?

He looks down, heart shredded, saying to himself: “You even trained her to take revenge. Why are you getting in the way, Jeon Jin-ho?” He leaves, thinking that he’s walked in on Kae-in and her white knight.

Only that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality Kae-in isn’t letting Chang-ryul anywhere near her, physically or romantically, and won’t even let him feign concern for her (even though I do believe he’s really concerned here).

Jin-ho asks the nurse about Kae-in’s condition. She asks if he’s her guardian, which he wistfully confirms. Once he finds out that she’ll be okay, he leaves, saying to himself that this is as much as he can do for her. (Implying the larger context, for her in general, because he’s probably still planning to move out.)

Chang-ryul begs her to let him take care of her, so after a pause, she asks him where his car is, and he runs after it gleefully, telling her to wait there. And then…it ends. Whaa? Okay, that’s the weirdest ending ever. It should’ve ended with Jin-ho’s empty-hand realization. I’m going to pretend it ended there, okay Show? I think you’d rather I did that than rant about the lack of dramatic tension when you end an otherwise dramatic episode on a puzzling facial expression following unimportant minutiae about cars. Gah.

Anyway, pretending it ended where it should have, this was a rapid-fire episode filled with sparks, peppered with cuteness, and loaded with drama. I feel like with the last episode and this one, we’re finally getting the show that we’ve all been wanting Personal Taste to be, and while it shouldn’t take a show seven episodes to get there, I do love it now that we’re here.

I love that Jin-ho realizes his love, or the beginnings of love, for Kae-in in a big moment, because he’s been touting all his lessons and fancy ideas about men and women, but he’s the one who got blindsided by love. The music cues in that moment were finally spot-on, and Lee Min-ho’s performance in the last two episodes was a standout.

Kae-in’s journey is a little rougher, what with the big gay elephant in the room, but she’s got such an upbeat outlook that even her wish in her diary—that Jin-ho be reincarnated in the next lifetime as someone who could love her—is so accepting of who he is and full of love that I can’t help but want to hug her, all the time. Mostly I envy her openness, even if she’s a little on the dim side.

Now that we’re halfway through, my drama clock tells me a separation is due; I hope it’s short-lived, otherwise I’ll have to wave my chainsaw about until the cuteness resumes!


105 April 30, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 9

by javabeans

The drama picks up some steam, gaining on the momentum of last week’s episodes. At this point, there are a lot of characters with partial information and who misunderstand the full truth, and nobody’s misperceptions are quite the same as anybody else’s. This could get confusing, but I think it’s to the actors’ credit that they get so into their characters that we aren’t lost about where they stand in this whole tangled mess of gay-not-gay-ness. Well, except In-hee; it’s easy to hate her. But it’s the fun kind of hate!


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Titled “I’m Your Man,” Episode 9 begins with Jin-ho walking away from the hospital, unseen by Kae-in, having realized his feelings for her but unable to act on them. And can I say that I do enjoy that the theme song of this scene blares, “Like a fooool…” Of course, the song means it in a romantic way (are we not all fools in love?) but I choose to also interpret this in a “Dummy, just tell her the truth!” sort of way. I know that’s what I’m yelling at my screen.

At the office, Sang-jun worries about Jin-ho, who has been out of touch since running out so suddenly. Is something wrong? This doesn’t have the ring of a work-related problem, so Tae-hoon speculates that Jin-ho’s suffering from women troubles. Enter In-hee! How appropriate — that girl never misses her cue.

While driving Kae-in home, Chang-ryul takes a call with his father. Reference to Kae-in’s name makes her think back to her degrading meeting with his father, although Chang-ryul remains unaware of this.

Surreptitiously, she texts Jin-ho asking for a response. Upon receipt, Jin-ho contemplates opening the message, but doesn’t read it.

Sang-jun and In-hee have gone out to dinner, where In-hee plies him with liquor and asks questions about whether Jin-ho is “dating anyone.” With feigned hesitation, she says that Jin-ho doesn’t seem interested in women, as though sad that he’s not available to her.

Sang-jun is drunk enough — and In-hee wily enough — that he assures her that Jin-ho is totally fair game. In fact, his “coming out” was a complete misunderstanding and therefore he can, in fact, love a woman. O liquor, mine enemy!

Arriving home, Kae-in prevents Chang-ryul from entering the house, ostensibly because she’s not ready for him to reach that level of closeness but also thinking of Jin-ho. That would be awkward.

Chang-ryul is bummed that he’s got to start all over from the lowest rung in the intimacy ladder (funny how heartbreaking betrayal does that to a girl), and Kae-in is learning from Jin-ho’s lessons and tells him that their progression may take even longer this time around. He agrees to abide by her wishes and promises to be a better man, admitting that he loved himself too much before; now he’ll love her more.

And then Young-sun arrives and pokes Chang-ryul aggressively in the chest, like all good friends ought when our besties have (seemingly) lost their minds and gone back to horrible ex-boyfriends. I do love her.

Kae-in calls Jin-ho to check in and gets a cooler response than she was expecting. She explains that the accident is why their call got cut short, and while she’s not fishing for sympathy, she’s not expecting a mere “So?” from his side. He tells her curtly that he’s spending the night at the office to work. (Because he loves you! Because it hurts too much to be in the same house when he thinks you don’t love him back! Why oh why can you not read my mind??)

Though she’s disappointed, she defends Jin-ho when Young-sun complains that he ought to show some more concern for her and her injury. Young-sun also thinks she’s off her rocker for going back to Chang-ryul, but Kae-in assures her that she knows what she’s doing. She adds, in a low mutter, that if she didn’t do this much (i.e., revenge), she “wouldn’t be able to handle it,” although she doesn’t specify what “it” is.

Alas, Jin-ho is too nice to ignore a frantic phone call from evil wench-ho In-hee, who fakes a burglary to lure him into her clutches. Ugh. She creates a mess to make it look like her apartment was ransacked, and plays the damsel in distress who needs a big strong man at her side.

When Jin-ho reluctantly comes to make sure she’s okay, she latches on to him in gratitude, explaining that she couldn’t call Chang-ryul or Kae-in. You’d think she’d refrain from bringing up how she’s forced to call someone who really doesn’t want to be here because she’s backstabbed everyone else. Not exactly a sterling character reference, yunno?

Having done the minimum and seeing that she’s safe, Jin-ho tries to leave. In-hee asks him to stay with her today (read: tonight), but he answers that it’ll be uncomfortable. She plays the gay card, saying that it shouldn’t matter with him, especially since he’s always with Kae-in. She says mock-sadly, “So Kae-in will do, but not me,” and I’m thinking, DUH!

Finally, Jin-ho sighs and concedes, staking out a spot on her couch with work to occupy him. In-hee notes that he seems very uncomfortable around her, smiling that “To me, that’s hopeful.” There’s a name for when people delight in others’ discomfort, and I’m not talking about the sexy-leather-times kind of sadism here.

At this, Jin-ho changes his mind and decides to leave, telling In-hee that it will be daylight soon.

All the while, Kae-in waits at home, glum. Clutching her Jin-ho doll, Kae-in counts sheep and tries to fall asleep. Wondering why Jin-ho is acting like this, she demands an answer from the doll.

In the morning, Kae-in peers into Jin-ho’s room, which is empty. A thought occurs to her, and she starts to look through his dresser, though she turns away at the sight of his underwear drawer, muttering, “He might think I’m a strange woman.” Oh, I think you had that covered from day 1.

Sang-jun apologizes to Jin-ho for going out for a drink with In-hee last night. Sang-jun can’t quite recall what they talked about, although there was some mention of Jin-ho…

Sang-jun asks if he’s made any progress on the Sanggojae, urging him to take some photos. Jin-ho is abiding by Kae-in’s rule not to take any, but Sang-jun has no such qualms, even offering to slip inside to take photos himself while they’re out.

Clocking Jin-ho’s reluctance, Sang-jun asks if it’s because of Kae-in. Jin-ho doesn’t respond, but when you’re best friends with this guy you’ve got to learn how to read a lot from a look, and Sang-jun seems to get how he’s feeling.

Which is when Kae-in walks into the office, giving him a mild version of the evil eye. Not a real one, just one to say, “You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, buddy.” She has brought him a change of underwear and socks, then she asks if he’s feeling guilty for not rushing to her side when she got hurt, only to have her looking after him like this. He denies it, but he’s touched at the gesture.

Her mood is light-hearted until he asks, “Why do you need my concern?” Shouldn’t she be focusing on her revenge? She asks, “You aren’t interested in anything but success in your job, are you?” He says yes, although his eyes say otherwise. And when she turns to go, he lets her. (Run after her, you wuss!)

Kae-in buys Do-bin a cup of coffee to thank him for all his efforts, and I like that both Jin-ho and Kae-in are becoming friendly with Do-bin, each in his/her own way. Do-bin asks if she knows the upside to unrequited love, and boy if that isn’t looking at that glass as half-full. They start listing things, like not needing to spend money on the other person, or not expecting anything in return. Kae-in adds that it’s something she can end on her own, since she’s hurting alone.

He can tell she’s got some experience in this arena and asks if she’s involved with an unrequited love now. While Kae-in isn’t sure if it’s love, she’s trying not to be a burden to him, which is something Do-bin figures he’ll also have to do.

She knows where his affections are directed, and without mentioning Jin-ho’s name she suggests that the rejection may not be because of dislike for Do-bin, but because the person may be focused on work. Or they’re acting out of courtesy. One-sided love happens when you don’t have courage to love together. He interprets this to mean that she’s telling him not to give up. (Aie, as if this weren’t complicated enough, right? I know she has good intentions, but you are going to break Do-bin!)

In-hee finds Jin-ho at the museum just as Kae-in comes by to witness the exchange. She overhears In-hee asking if he’s tired from spending the night at her house, as it didn’t seem like he slept much.

Meanwhile, Chang-ryul’s father is eager for him to win Kae-in over, and pushes him to up his game. (Love advice from Dad, eeeek.) President Han grumbles that Kae-in ought to have gotten his message, which clues Chang-ryul into the fact that Dad sought her out. Chang-ryul demands to know what he said, raising his voice to his father. Dad has no shame in admitting he told her that if he’d known who her father was, she would have merited special treatment.

Do-bin has called Jin-ho to give him helpful materials like building plans he likes. Do-bin explains that it’s not crucial info — it’s just a friend looking out for another friend — but Jin-ho feels like this is an act of pity and declines, saying that he is grateful in spirit.

Do-bin knows that this was a flimsy excuse to see Jin-ho, and says rather abashedly that he called him because he was feeling lonely. As the director here, he often finds himself left out. When he self-consciously calls his action “weak,” Jin-ho lets out a small laugh and agrees.

With Kae-in’s encouragement bolstering him, Do-bin nervously works up the nerve to suggest that they can “get to know each other better” — which might be an innocuous statement if one of them hadn’t just confessed to liking the other. Do-bin repeats Kae-in’s comment about one-sided love, and confesses that his weak move here required a lot of courage.

Chang-ryul presents Kae-in with flowers, just in time for In-hee and Jin-ho to witness the scene. In-hee sizes things up and congratulates Kae-in, then expressing gladness that Chang-ryul recovered quickly. She wishes Kae-in well, which I’m thinking is like the Kiss of Death, coming from her.

All the while, Jin-ho’s face remains stern. He knows Kae-in is doing this for her “revenge” but he’s past that stage of listening to reason, and seeing her being romanced by someone else (particularly Chang-ryul) has got him bummed.

He ends up at dinner with In-hee, who prattles on about how Kae-in looks good now that she’s on the receiving end of love. And all the while, this is Jin-ho’s face:

I mean, really! Is there any way to make it more clear that he’s just not that into her?

In-hee invites him home for a drink in thanks for yesterday, which he declines. So she pops a few pills, which naturally pique his curiosity. (Jin-ho’s too much of a nice guy to ignore my screams to IGNORE HER, she’s only after attention!)

In-hee lays it on thick, saying she got a prescription because she was so anxious after the burglary, and is still afraid of going home tonight. Won’t he spend just one more night with her? Geez louise, this girl has balls.

Jin-ho sees her home, checking to make sure it’s safe inside before sounding the all-clear. Now that they’ve confirmed that she’s safe, he’s ready to go and In-hee’s out of stalling techniques — so she moves in for the kill and swoops in for a kiss.

Angrily, he shoves her aside and tells her that she has picked the wrong guy. (Don’t you get it? HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.) She asks, ‘Do you dislike women, or me?” and announces that this is her “declaration of war.” Romantic! She’s giving him the “courtesy” of letting him know of her intentions. One courtesy in exchange for a larger discourtesy — oh, where’s that anvil of irony?

Chang-ryul drives Kae-in home, and tells her that he heard she met with his father. He didn’t come back to her because his father made him, however — he’s not THAT calculating. (Which I can believe, if only because being calculating would require him to be a lot smarter.) He adds, if he was doing this because of her father, he wouldn’t have broken up with her the first time. His father may have other ideas, but that’s not what he’s doing.

Chang-ryul asks her to believe him, but she very naturally cannot. Though glumly, Chang-ryul backs off, conceding that it’s okay if she doesn’t believe him. His mood takes another hit when he sees that she has left behind her flowers in the car.

You know, I can’t hate Chang-ryul even though he is a toady wimp. If only he’d had this change of heart earlier, his worst side may not have gotten a chance to manifest itself. Now, he’s most certainly a douchebag in more ways than one, but I kinda like that he’s not a simple bad guy — unlike, say, In-hee.

Sang-jun is overwhelmed with suspicions regarding Jin-ho’s behavior and decides to go to Sanggojae. Tae-hoon resists the idea so Sang-jun resorts to begging him, which Hye-mi happens to see as she walks up to the office in search of Jin-ho. Although she has been saying it half in jest all along, now she wonders if Sang-jun may in fact be gay.

Grabbing a taxi, Hye-mi follows their car, which pulls up to Sanggojae. Aha! Now Hye-mi knows where Jin-ho lives, and she starts to march toward the house.

The guys hold her back and shove her into the car. Alas, she looks out the window and recognizes Kae-in, who is taking out the trash, which infuriates her. Jin-ho is living with another woman??

She’s determined to get out and confront her, but the guys shush her and protest. Finally, Sang-jun loses his patience and orders the other two home. He has business here, and he will take care of it without them.

Hye-mi goes home sobbing and blurts to Jin-ho’s mother that he’s living with a woman. Tae-hoon hurriedly gives a confusing explanation about Jin-ho being forced to do so for his career, so Hye-mi vows to uncover his reason for living there.

Sang-jun invents a story about Jin-ho leaving behind some really important documents, then asks Kae-in for a tour of the place. When she looks at him quizzically, he whips up an explanation that he’s always dreamed of living in a place like this with a wife and kids. Kae-in furrows her brow at this very un-gay dream of his, so Sang-jun hurriedly amends that it’s his mother’s dream for his life. This gives him a chance to appeal to her sympathies as he fakes tears over the heartache of not being able to do that for his mother.

Sang-jun asks for some hot tea, and while she goes to the kitchen, he whips out his camera and starts snapping away.

Jin-ho arrives home, sees that Sang-jun is here, and finds him busily taking photographs. Noting Jin-ho’s reluctance to go forward with this use-Sanggojae-for-our-project scheme, Sang-jun reminds Jin-ho why he came to live here in the first place — are his feelings for Kae-in impeding his ability to differentiate business and personal matters?

Jin-ho answers yes, that he no longer knows what’s business and what’s personal, which is tantamount to declaring that he’s in love with Kae-in. Jin-ho knows this project is important but doesn’t want to hurt someone in order to succeed — what he’s doing “will kill her twice.” Sang-jun sees that Jin-ho’s got it bad, and asks if he can really give up his work for a woman.

Jin-ho faces Kae-in and says he has something to tell her. In a grave tone, he starts to say, “I came to live in the Sanggojae…” And just then, Sang-jun interrupts, calling after a cat to cut Jin-ho off before he says something he can’t take back. Effectively distracted, Kae-in goes off in search for it while Sang-jun urges him not to say a word.

After Sang-jun leaves, there’s tension in the air between the two roommates. She’s thinking of his night spent with In-hee, while he’s thinking of her flowers from Chang-ryul. He congratulates her, which makes her think he’s being sarcastic. He asks if she can end it easily — judging from her expression when she got the flowers, she seemed to like it. She retorts that she’ll end it as soon as Jin-ho declares that the game is over and she’s made her point. He tells her that it’s her choice whether to end it or not.

It’s a pretty roundabout argument with no resolution. When he goes to his room, Jin-ho mutters to himself, “Why are you so immature, Jeon Jin-ho?”

Jin-ho turns his phone off rather than accepting a call from In-hee, so the she-devil calls Kae-in and asks her to put him on the line. Balls of steel, this one.

Kae-in hands off the phone to him like it’s diseased and slams the door behind her. Here’s one case where I wish she’d eavesdropped, because In-hee only gets a few words out before Jin-ho hangs up on her. HA.

When Kae-in takes back the phone sullenly, he asks if she’s so unperceptive that she couldn’t tell that he didn’t want to take the call. She demands, “How do I know that?”

Kae-in lets slip that she knows he spent the night with In-hee, surprising him enough to stammer. (So basically, this fight is just one big jealous, insecure mating dance.)

Jin-ho explains how In-hee’s home was burgled, which takes some of the sting away. She mumbles that even though she knows he’s not like other men, when she heard that, she felt hurt — her best friend was being stolen by In-hee again. He assures her that that won’t happen.

They’re halfway to reconciliation, but a call from Chang-ryul interrupts. She looks apologetically at him as she answers, and you practically expect Jin-ho to roll his eyes in anger (i.e., “she falling for it again!”) as he leaves.

Brooding time, which means an overuse of montages and split screens. This would be really annoying if the acting weren’t spot-on. Jin-ho’s frustrated and conflicted, Kae-in feels wounded.

In the morning, Kae-in talks to the lumber salesman, who asks if she’s better now and wonders which of her two men was her boyfriend. This is news to her, as she hears that the second guy identified himself as a friend, but his voice sounded like a boyfriend who was worried to death.

Knowing it must have been Jin-ho, she calls him out for a picnic in the park. She’s packed a lunch for him — bought, not cooked — and says she’s always wanted to do this with a boyfriend. (He snits, “Then shouldn’t you have done this with Chang-ryul?” Oh, you.) But then she explains that she’s thanking him for coming to the hospital, which he should have admitted to her. How did he even find which lumber yard she was at? He says he called them all until he found the one.

Kae-in wonders how things would have been if she had been a man — would he have felt differently about her? This is your chance to confess! But no, Jin-ho says he can’t imagine such a scenario at all.

That just gives her an idea, and she uses a piece of seaweed to fake a mustache. Since she’s wearing a bowler hat, I’m going to give her credit for going for a Chaplin vibe and not a Nazi one. Still, you couldn’t have used a bigger piece of seaweed?

And then, she actually goes and affixes a ‘stache. What I love about Jin-ho’s response is that he clearly finds her adorable, and it’s not even like he’s trying to hide it anymore.

Chang-ryul’s private eye turns up no evidence of Jin-ho’s gayitude. Somehow the investigator can assure with certainty that Jin-ho’s not gay, ’cause don’t you know all gay guys go out and register once they’ve come out? But Chang-ryul takes him at his word and immediately tries to call Kae-in, who ignores his call.

Instead, she and Jin-ho enjoy their day, playing games at an arcade and going for a walk.

Kae-in pretends to act like a guy all the way home (although, from her mannerisms and speech, her persona is more like a 60-year-old country grandpa than a chic counterpart to Jin-ho).

Jokingly, she asks Jin-ho to try dressing as a girl later “in the name of friendship.” He retorts, “I’d rather die in the name of friendship.” I love her response — she pretends to be excessively moved at this indication that he’d die for her, going down on one knee and gesticulating dramatically. Jin-ho hurries away in embarrassment.

As Kae-in watches him walk, she narrates another journal entry:

Kae-in: “I’ve deliberated for a long time about what I can do in thanks to you. I wanted to say that I love you. But I didn’t have the courage, so I decided to become a man instead. Like I am with you, I want to see you trembling because of me. Growing less and less sure of tomorrow’s weather, this has been Park Kae-in’s weather forecast.”

On the drive home, Kae-in says that in her next life, she’d like to be born a man, which is a really lovely sentiment that makes me awww. Previously, she had hoped that Jin-ho would be born straight in a next life, so that she could love him romantically. But now rather than wishing for him to change to suit her, she wishes for her to change to suit him.

He says, “I like Park Kae-in just as she is.” (Double awww. Just do it already, you two!)

Chang-ryul is in a tizzy to tell Kae-in about Jin-ho’s straightness, and calls In-hee to ask if she’s with Jin-ho. He tells her that Jin-ho’s been acting gay all along — which, of course, gets her attention. Thus In-hee rushes over to the Sanggojae to talk to Chang-ryul, trying to take him elsewhere to talk before Kae-in and Jin-ho arrive home.

Chang-ryul fixates on this revelation that Jin-ho lives in the same house as Kae-in, which infuriates him.

Before In-hee can convince him to leave, Kae-in and Jin-ho pull up together, and without warning, Chang-ryul slugs Jin-ho in the face.

Chang-ryul asks how Jin-ho can dare interfere with his life. What is he doing to Kae-in, “you dirty bastard?” Again, that word. Funny how those so obsessed with purity display so little of it in their own lives.

Jin-ho says evenly that he didn’t do anything to her. Chang-ryul orders, “Stay away from my woman.” Jin-ho returns, “Who are you to tell me what to do? Does it bother you so much that I’m with her? Do you have so little confidence?”

Chang-ryul swings to punch him again, but Jin-ho blocks him this time. So Chang-ryul backs off… then suckerpunches him in the face.

Now In-hee speaks up in defense of Jin-ho, who tries to walk away from the fight. Chang-ryul ain’t having it and winds up for another punch — so this time Jin-ho beats him to it, knocking him to the ground.

But it’s like the fight saps out of him as Kae-in rushes reflexively to check on Chang-ryul. And no matter the stuff about museums and projects and family histories, this is really the crux of the matter, isn’t it?


I’m really enjoying the performances so far, almost all the way across the board. Kae-in and Jin-ho, naturally, and Sang-jun and Young-sun. But also Chang-ryul, whose character contains aspects that are equally sympathetic (his relationship with his father) and detestable (his adherence to the epithet “dirty”). I credit Kim Ji-suk, whom I’ve never really found compelling as an actor until this year. (He has seemed so cardboard-y in prior dramas.) Chuno was his big breakout, but I love him here, and he does a wonderful job showing Chang-ryul as a rounded character.

And despite my griping, I actually find it funny to watch In-hee, because she’s just so ridiculous. This girl isn’t just confident; she’s downright delusional. While I’m not going to go into raptures over Wang Ji-hye’s acting, I think of so many versions of this character in other dramas, and so many times I hate them with a passion. The mere fact that I enjoy In-hee’s character — enjoy anticipating her downfall, to be precise — rather than itching to carve out her heart with a spork means she’s doing something right.

Do-bin is another delightful surprise, because the unwanted gay admirer could so easily devolve into a stock character, but Ryu Seung-ryong imbues his character with such vulnerability that it’s almost painful to imagine how he will handle the final rejection. When he invited Jin-ho over and tried ever so subtly to re-open that door, all his hope and uncertainty was written on his face. I appreciated Jin-ho’s letdown, which was gentle but honest, so it made me sad to see him light up again, knowing that he’s got yet more disappointment in his future.


201 May 2, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 10

by girlfriday

It’s “Game Over” this week, as our four leads stake their claims and advance into battle. New alliances are formed, old enemies make backdoor deals, and the innocent are lambs to the slaughter. It’s gettin’ good, but it’s also reaching the height of what it can be while still maintaining the initial premise, so I think this episode will catapult us into some revelations and new directions…or so I hope.


Jin-ho has just popped Chang-ryul to the ground, and he gets back up to go another round. But this time In-hee steps in between them, taking Jin-ho’s side and defending him very pointedly to Chang-ryul. She even goes so far as to take some of the blame: think of what you and I did to Kae-in, and consider that Jin-ho is the friend she needs right now. Oh, the NERVE of this girl. This is of course all a ruse as she just doesn’t want Chang-ryul blurting out that Jin-ho’s straight, thinking that’ll send Kae-in right into his arms.

She sends the two of them in, pretending to be the loyal friend, and remains outside with Chang-ryul. He’s still in hysterics about Jin-ho living with Kae-in, but In-hee shuts him up: “Are you stupid?” Do you want me to answer alphabetically, or in chronological order?

Once inside, Kae-in asks if Jin-ho’s face is okay, and he brushes off her concern, saying she should tend to her boyfriend instead, since she seemed SO concerned. Heh, you’re cute when you’re petty. She realizes her mistake and insists she was just acting, as Jin-ho taught her to, so that she could pull Chang-ryul’s strings. Jin-ho isn’t buying that, since he knows that she’s no actress. Clearly there’s no winning this argument, as what he’s really upset about is built upon layers of lies that you aren’t even aware of.

She starts to walk away to get him an icepack, but he grabs her wrist (no!), making her squirm. Kae-in: “That hurts.” Well, at least someone acknowledged that it hurts. Is it too much to ask to go through one kdrama without a wrist grab? Just one? I thought we were in the clear what with all the cute hand-holding in this drama.

Jin-ho asks her, “Can you really do it? If I say ‘Game Over,’ can you really dump Chang-ryul and walk away?” Kae-in: “Yes. I can. What about you? Can you keep your promise that your best friend in the world will be me?” Jin-ho: “I said I would.” Kae-in confesses to being nervous when she saw In-hee jump to Jin-ho’s defense in front of her, voicing again her concern that In-hee will steal him from her. Jin-ho assures her it won’t happen.

Kae-in: “People’s hearts change. And In-hee is someone who always gets whatever she wants.” Jin-ho looks back at her, tears brimming in his eyes, “I’ll guard my heart. You just safeguard yours.” Aw. You two really need to just cut the wordplay and start making out.

Across town Tweedle Evil and Tweedle Dumb have coffee while discussing the really awkward love quadrangle they’re in. Chang-ryul just wants to out Jin-ho and be done with it (not enjoying the quality time with In-hee either), but In-hee is quick to stop him. Kae-in is only rooming with Jin-ho because she believes him to be gay. How would they benefit if she knew he were straight? Well, he sees the logic in that. She adds for good measure that Jin-ho as sweet best friend is much more appealing than Chang-ryul as backstabbing ex-boyfriend, which he should feel threatened by. She tells him that they’re in the same boat now, since she’s started to love Jin-ho. Do you even know the definition of the word? In your dictionary, is it: to suck the blood of, then take to fancy parties as accessory?

Jin-ho broods in the bathroom, thinking back to Kae-in’s reaction when he punched Chang-ryul, and doubting her claim that it was all an act. Kae-in tries to give him an icepack, but he pushes it away saying that Chang-ryul’s fists aren’t strong enough to do any damage to his face. Ha. So funny that he’s still posturing when Chang-ryul’s not around, and that he won’t even take an icepack because her concern for him comes too late (that is, AFTER her concern for Chang-ryul).

But they’re interrupted, as In-hee strolls her ass RIGHT IN the house. Can we set up some sort of security measures against this? How is one to sleep at night? Can Willow come over and do a de-vamping spell on Sang-go-jae?

Kae-in and Jin-ho stand warily by as In-hee approaches, and Kae-in asks what she’s doing here. In-hee sets down a bag of beer and tells them to drink and feel better about the day’s events. She adds that she would like to join them, but she’s sure that Kae-in wouldn’t like that, so she’s just going to go. OH, okay then. In-hee: “Kae-in, I’m just glad that you’re here for my Jin-ho-sshi.” OH. NO. YOU DI’N’T! Bitch, I will spork your eye out and wear it as a trophy!

She leaves, and Kae-in shoves the icepack in Jin-ho’s gut as a response. Ha. Kae-in goes in her room and thinks evil thoughts of how she will wear In-hee’s intestines as a necklace (oh wait…that’s me). Also a note here on In-hee’s use of “my Jin-ho-sshi”: The word she uses is “our,” but it’s not ours like yours and mine. It’s the plural form of mine, which is just the Korean way to say things like “my baby” and “my husband”; in direct translation it’s “our baby,” “our husband,” “our sweetiepie honeyface,” etc, etc, gag.

Kae-in gets a call from Chang-ryul who insists on waiting outside until she comes out to talk to him. She heads out, as Jin-ho watches, knowing full well where she’s going and who’s out there. She meets Chang-ryul, who says he hates that that jerk Jin-ho lives here with her, gay or no gay, but he’ll try to understand. He says he’ll put her wishes first and try to accept it if Jin-ho is the friend she needs right now.

Kae-in looks to be slightly moved by Chang-ryul’s understanding position, but I sincerely hope she doesn’t start to be too sympathetic to his I’m-going-to-put-you-first thing, since now we know that he’s complicit in In-hee’s scheme. I do have to say though, I find him compelling, even as a sad sack who will never deserve our heroine, because he does seem genuinely sorry and trying so desperately to win her back, on whatever terms she sets.

Back inside, Kae-in finds In-hee’s witches’ brew sitting on the stoop, so she decides to get on the passive-aggressive merry-go-round with Jin-ho. She knocks on his door and tells him to drink it, since In-hee brought it for “my Jin-ho-sshi.” He tells her to throw it away, but she insists he not pretend for her sake, and befriend In-hee if he likes—it’s no matter to her, since she doesn’t concern herself with all his comings and goings. Jin-ho takes that to mean she’s implying that HE shouldn’t be concerned with her affairs. Wasn’t she just going out to meet Chang-ryul? Why didn’t she ask him for his advice? Ha. Kae-in stutters an excuse that she didn’t want to bother him. He tells her to do it all on her own then.

Back in her room, Kae-in thinks to herself in voiceover: “More than when I saw In-hee standing at the altar with Chang-ryul, when she called you ‘my Jin-ho-sshi,’ I was scared.”

The next day at work, Jin-ho wants to call Kae-in, and practices what to say: “I don’t know why I’m like this either. If I was narrow-minded, I’m sorry.” But he can’t bring himself to make the call. Meanwhile, Kae-in thinks of what she’ll say when she calls: “Should I just quit? If I don’t get revenge, then we won’t have anything to fight about…” But she doesn’t call either. So in sync but blocked by so much inhibition.

Sang-jun comes into Jin-ho’s office to give him a little nudge—their design deadline is not too far ahead, and he needs to lock down the Sang-go-jae concept soon. Jin-ho sighs and says he’ll take care of it.

After work he stops by the grocery store, and as he buys up supplies, he says to himself, “Why am I going to these lengths…” Um, because you love her? Silly. He comes home to find that she’s not there yet, and then it starts to rain.

Kae-in gets off the bus and sits for a minute, contemplating what to do, then decides to just walk home in the rain, and leaves her diary behind. Jin-ho shows up just after she’s gone, (looking mighty fine in that trenchcoat, might I add), and waits for her. He looks down and sees her diary, and knows she’s already been there. By the time Kae-in realizes she left it behind and turns around to get it, Jin-ho has appeared, umbrella in hand, to shield her from the rain.

They walk home, and Jin-ho chastises her for being unprepared, and Kae-in wonders what he did with his car if he took the bus. He says he went home, which she realizes means he came here to get her, making her light up instantly. He says he doesn’t know why they’re fighting, but they’re both feeling crappy, so he came out as a gesture to clear the air. Kae-in asks why he didn’t bring two umbrellas, since he’s getting all wet, and he simply says, “then we’ll just have to stick close together.” Cheeky! And then he puts his arm around her the rest of the way home.

Turns out Hye-mi and Tae-hoon are stalking them, so they see the two of them in this very couple-like moment, and decide it’s suspicious, but stow it away for future use.

At home, Kae-in presents Jin-ho with a wooden apple, saying, “Accept my apple,” a pun in Korean for “Accept my apology.” (This inside joke has the delightful cache of being the only intentionally funny moment in BOF that had me laughing like a fool.)

She adds that she’s sorry for being “narrow-minded” about In-hee, and Jin-ho perks up at the use of the same word he was thinking of in his practiced apology to his phone earlier. He just asks if she knew it was narrow-minded, taking the low road. Heh. Kae-in touts her apology as awesome, but then Jin-ho trumps her: he’s gone grocery shopping to make her dinner. Kae-in becomes a puddle of goo right into his chest, making him smile his thousand-watt smile at her undiscerning love of food.

Oh, puppy, your love for her is just written all over your face, and I think I may never recover.

Young-sun and Sang-jun meet for mani-pedis, where Young-sun asks Sang-jun to model for her, making his entire year.

Back at Sang-go-jae, someone peels an apple, and I’m about to launch into another diatribe—you guys know how I feel about plates of fruit—but then it’s revealed to be Jin-ho! Well I’ll be damned. It’s nice to see a guy peeling an apple for once. Kae-in watches in awe as he peels the apple in his trademark perfectionist manner, and marvels, “You even peel apples well. You can cook, you clean, you peel apples…is there anything you don’t do well?” Jin-ho replies in earnest, “No.” Heh. Kae-in decides he’s lacking in one thing: modesty.

They discuss plans for tomorrow, and Jin-ho wants to clean and catch up on work, while Kae-in wants to go see the Spring blossoms. But instead, they get roped into doing this…

HA. But Sang-jun turns out not to be so good at the modeling, so Young-sun has Jin-ho do some shots too. This one in particular had my coffee coming out my nose:

Kae-in sneaks over to Young-sun at some point and asks if she’s really using Sang-jun as a model for skincare products, and Young-sun fesses up that he’s the Before picture, while Jin-ho is the After. Haha. That’s just mean.

Kae-in gets a call from Chang-ryul, prompting Young-sun to take out her claws, but she denies him a date for today, saying she’ll see him tomorrow. When Jin-ho comes up, she asks him to do another training session with her, and the two of them go off arm in arm. Young-sun and Sang-jun watch them go, and Young-sun picks up on the weirdness. Sang-jun comments that they’re a well-matched couple, and then has to pretend he’s talking about birds.

Jin-ho and Kae-in walk in the park, and Jin-ho asks when the revenge scheme will end. Kae-in throws around some options: when Chang-ryul proposes, she could throw the ring and stomp on it. Or she could just not show up on the day of their wedding. Maybe Jin-ho could come and whisk her away in front of him—she likes that one. Jin-ho doesn’t see why he should do such a thing, but then after a pause he decides he’ll do it. “If it happens like that, I’ll run away with you…because we’re friends.” Listen, you two…this is getting complicated with the fantasy/revenge plot threatening to take over your actual romance, and that’s not even factoring in the gay issue.

They’re almost home, and Kae-in asks if he’ll take her hand like so…and run off with her in front of Chang-ryul. She asks him to promise, and they walk home holding hands, interlocking fingers in the height of adorableness. Only that’s exactly when Hye-mi, Mom, and Tae-hoon pop out of Sang-go-jae. (Do we not have locks on this super-secret house??) Oh, crap. Mom is the fainting kind.

Inside, Jin-ho tries to comfort Mom, but she can’t believe he’d live! With a woman! Kae-in tries to explain that it’s not like THAT, but Hye-mi freaks out in her shrill manner that SHE is Jin-ho’s fiancée. Kae-in’s look of: “you’re who’s what, in the what now?” is enough to get Jin-ho out to her room for a private chat.

Kae-in tries to convince Jin-ho to come out to his mother (oh dear), and to that poor girl Hye-mi (that might work to your advantage, dude). He says this isn’t the time for that, but Kae-in takes it as a sign of reluctance to traumatize his mother by outing himself. She insists that all moms are on their children’s sides and that she’ll understand and accept him. (I sincerely wish this to be true, even for one mom or future mom in the audience—then this show will have done something right.)

But Jin-ho thinks that’s ludicrous (obviously, the most important reason being that he’s NOT actually gay): “You want me to tell my mother that I’m GAY? Are you in your right mind?” And then the doors swing open, and Mom, Hye-mi, and Tae-hoon are standing right outside. Haha. Paper wall is definitely one for the Cons column in my “To Live in a Han-ok House: Pros and Cons” list.

Mom faints, again, but Jin-ho catches her and insists he’s not gay. To prove it, he puts his arm around Kae-in, and says: “I love this woman. I want to marry her.” Oh my goodness! Everyone including me freaks out, and Jin-ho tells Kae-in to formally introduce herself to his mom, which she does, in a stupor. Are we going to get into a contract relationship on top of everything else? My head is going to burst from Too! Many! Plot! Devices!

That confession threw me for a loop. It’s kind of heartbreaking, even in the midst of being shocking and crazy, because it’s what he really wants but can’t have.

Mom asks if Kae-in loves Jin-ho. He can’t believe this is being asked (because he assumes the answer is no). Kae-in doesn’t know what to say (because she thinks this is all a ruse, since he’s gay). She looks up at him and he eyeballs her to say yes, so she does: “Yes, I love him.” Oh, what a tangled web we weave, Jeon Jin-ho.

Later that night, Kae-in wonders how on earth Jin-ho could have said such a lie to his mother’s face, with no regard for how to follow through on it. Young-sun comes over to try and talk some sense into her about Jin-ho. She’s thought about it all day, and has come to the conclusion that Kae-in is in dangerous territory. To her eyes, it looks like Kae-in is seeking revenge on Chang-ryul just so that she has a project to do with Jin-ho, and not the other way around. Astute, good friend.

Young-sun, ever the loyal one, tries to talk Kae-in out of her feelings for Jin-ho, before she falls any deeper: “Even if there’s no goalkeeper, that’s not a goal you can make.” Haha. Kae-in knows this (it’s not like she’s wanting to change Jin-ho), but she says things just got more complicated….Jin-ho wants to marry her.

Jin-ho, meanwhile, has to run down to the river to…keep Hye-mi from throwing herself in. Pffft. She hasn’t gotten very far, what with all the flailing about and screaming, letting Tae-hoon hold her off until Jin-ho gets there. Jin-ho turns her around: “Hye-mi, listen closely. I have never loved you.” Hye-mi says she can love enough for the both of them. Jin-ho: “Love is not something you do by yourself. The person who loves you…is right here.” He grabs Tae-hoon and puts the two of them face to face. Hye-mi: “I don’t love him.” Jin-ho: “Then what? You’re going to die because of me, who doesn’t love you? Go ahead.” Tae-hoon rushes to her side. Jin-ho tells her to look at Tae-hoon, and she’ll fall in love. He leaves, and Tae-hoon finally gets to step up and hug her.

Back at home, Young-sun can’t believe what Kae-in is telling her. “What are you going to do, if Jin-ho’s mother comes and tells you to marry him?” Kae-in: “Couldn’t I…do it?” Young-sun thinks she’s gone insane. Kae-in: “He can’t bring himself to tell her the truth. If I can be his shelter from the wind…couldn’t I do that?” Young-sun properly flips out: “You’re going to spend the rest of your life being his shelter from the wind…when he can’t even hold you as a woman?” Kae-in: “Couldn’t we…live as friends?”

And then Young-sun puts her finger right on the nose: “That’s just all an excuse! You just want to keep Jin-ho by your side, isn’t that it?” Young-sun wonders why she ever made Kae-in put the room up for rent, thinking she did this to her. It’s a really sad moment, actually, despite the crazy, because between these two friends, Jin-ho is gay, and Kae-in’s gotten to the point that she’s willing to throw her life away just to stay close to someone who can never love her back. Tragic.

Jin-ho comes home, and Kae-in tells him that if he really doesn’t have the courage to tell his mom the truth, if he really wants her to see him live like an “ordinary” man (cringing at the use of “ordinary” or “normal” in this context), then she’ll marry him. “If I can be your shield, then you can live your life without judgment or persecution from other people.” Okay, I get that this sentiment is very above-and-beyond for her, but can we please not advocate the ruse of heterosexual marriage-as-beard by making it some grand romantic gesture? If you really loved him, you would be fighting for his right to live the rest of his life as himself—in front of his mother and the rest of the world.

Jin-ho can’t believe the words coming out of her mouth. He practically shouts at her: “Don’t you have the basic common sense to know that marriage is supposed to be between two people who are in love? How many times do I need to tell you to love yourself more, for you to understand me?!” It’s sweet because it’s so heartfelt—for him, the fact that she’s willing to sacrifice her happiness (not knowing she really loves him), is frustrating because he wants her to be stronger than that. He wants what’s best for her, without even considering that it might be him.

Kae-in gets up, tears in her eyes, saying: “But you’re someone who can’t marry the person you love.” Aw, tear my heart and serve it to the birds, why don’t you. She adds, “Even though you can’t love me as a woman, I think I could go forever…with you.” Jin-ho drops the formalities and speaks to her in banmal: “This is why you’re always a victim. Because you say stupid things like you’ll marry your gay best friend.” Kae-in admits she may do stupid things, but Jin-ho thinks of her as his best friend in the world, and for that friend—she could do anything.

Then Jin-ho drops a bomb: “Let’s not be friends anymore. I’m so weary; I can’t do this.” He leaves Kae-in stunned, lost as to how she went from future beard-wife to ex-friend. It’s the same phrase he had said to Eun-soo in flashback, when he wanted to be more than friends…but this time he means it as goodbye.

Jin-ho goes to his room and broods aloud: “You should have asked if I could love you as a woman…stupid girl.” Dude, are we really going to brood that semantics was the reason you didn’t tell her that you’re not gay? Really? Do you think that just because you’re cute and teary-eyed that you’re going to sneak that one by me?

The next day, Young-sun goes to Do-bin’s office to do a little matchmaking. She invites him to Sang-go-jae for dinner, using his kindness to Kae-in as an excuse. Do-bin’s really awkward sense of humor comes to the fore, as he and Young-sun chat, and mostly it’s cute because he really does seem like someone who’s lonely at the top.

Chang-ryul gets blown off once again by Kae-in, and goes to see his father, who happens to be on the phone with Kae-in’s dad. He tries to invite himself over to see the professor, using the kids’ marriage as an excuse, but that doesn’t fly, as the professor is busy, and planning to come back to Korea soon anyway. Chang-ryul gets mad that his father keeps getting involved in his love life, but Dad doesn’t care, since they’re running out of time.

MS Group has turned over all the decision-making to Do-bin, so Dad wants some assurance they’ll beat out Jin-ho, and Kae-in’s father is the key. Chang-ryul doesn’t see why they can’t just come up with a better design and win the contract; Dad is like, why on earth would we skip a shortcut and go the long way around? Haha. That says everything we need to know about a character in one statement, doesn’t it?

Chang-ryul goes to find Kae-in at the museum to talk. He knows they’re just friends, but does she have to live with Jin-ho? She comes to Jin-ho’s defense, saying that the only way she got through the last rough patch (ahem, that means YOU) was because of Jin-ho. She tells him that she’s not ready to open her heart yet, and right now, her friend Jin-ho is more important to her than Chang-ryul. That’s a serious blow to Chang-ryul, who can’t even stand Jin-ho being near Kae-in, let alone being her first priority above himself. He slinks away, feeling defeated.

He runs into In-hee, and asks her if she’s confident. Um…I’m pretty sure she had her heart surgically removed and replaced it with more confidence. She replies yes, she’s confident that she can make Jin-ho hers. Chang-ryul shares his fears about Kae-in and Jin-ho, and tells her that this time, he doesn’t want to fail at love.

Young-sun calls Jin-ho to make sure he’ll be home for dinner. Sang-jun gets upset that unni didn’t invite him, but they get interrupted by a call from Chang-ryul. Jin-ho goes down to the river, under a bridge, to meet him. Under a bridge? Are you going to kill him for the blood money?

Chang-ryul says that this is the first time he’s ever waited for Kae-in, and now he knows what it felt like for her. He tells Jin-ho that he did a background check on him and knows that he’s not gay. Yeah…how does one do that kind of background check, exactly? Anyway, Jin-ho knows he’s caught.

Chang-ryul says he was going to tell Kae-in that Jin-ho is a bastard who’s pretending to be gay to use Do-bin, but he couldn’t do it. He didn’t want to hurt her, and make her lose her friend, who she really needs right now. (Well, it says something that he’d rather protect Kae-in than just out Jin-ho to get what he wants.) He demands that Jin-ho move out of the house, right this second, friendship in tact, making a clean break from Kae-in.

Young-sun has prepared a nice spread for her debut at matchmaking, and Do-bin arrives, spiffed up and basket of flowers in hand. Your mother raised you right. Kae-in is surprised to see him, and then Jin-ho walks in…

Commence most awkward dinner ever, where two parties of the love triangle are under the impression the man they both love is gay. It’s beyond awkward, especially when Young-sun pulls the old phone call—”something BAD happened?”—move, dragging Kae-in out to find her missing son. Kae-in, being dull as a nub, thinks they’re really in an emergency, which Young-sun is quick to disabuse her of, once they’re outside. She tells her it’s the only way she’ll let go of Jin-ho and move on.

Inside, the two men completely freeze, as Do-bin realizes that Jin-ho wasn’t complicit in this dinner and feels cornered. He graciously offers to leave, but does betray his deep affection and vulnerability in a slip, calling him “my Jin-ho-sshi,” using the same words that In-hee did earlier. He blushes, embarrassed, and it’s so sweet, this boyish crush he has, that I’m going to cry when he gets his heart broken. Bad Jin-ho!

He paces in the yard, waiting for Kae-in to come home. She finally arrives, and he tears into her. “You said you would even marry me, but I guess you got scared? Did you think your life would become a joke that way? Did you think that you could solve the problem easily by pushing me off onto Director Choi?” Uh-oh. Them’s fightin’ words. Kae-in tries to explain that’s not what this is, but there’s no use. You’re not allowed to be upset at mistakes she’s making when you’re playing with a full deck and she isn’t! I’m talking here about levels of knowledge, not sanity.

Jin-ho declares that he’s moving his stuff out this weekend…and he’s leaving right now. And thus, the separation begins.

At the office, Sang-jun tries to talk some sense into Jin-ho who has been sleeping there the last two nights and not eating anything. He thinks back to Chang-ryul’s ultimatum to leave Kae-in’s side, and says to himself, “Are you satisfied? Not even leaving her as a friend?”

Just then, In-hee slithers into his office, inviting him to a musical, adding that Kae-in and Chang-ryul will be in attendance. Jin-ho says it has nothing to do with him, but In-hee tells him that Kae-in is thinking of going back to Chang-ryul. Won’t he be a true blue friend and show her that it’s okay for her to move on by accompanying In-hee to the play? Aargh….please see through her plan, please see through her plan. Damnit. I hate it when the smartest person in the room is also the evilest.

The four of them run into each other at the musical, of course as planned by In-hee and Chang-ryul. And their seats are right next to each other. The whole date is played out with no dialogue, but you can tell exactly what’s going on with each character in every little moment.

During the musical, In-hee steps up her game, whispering in Jin-ho’s ear, and then fondling his hand for Kae-in to see. Aaack! Get your grubby paws off of him! Jin-ho squirms, but he lets it happen, taking In-hee’s advice hook, line, and sinker.

Finally Kae-in can’t take it anymore and runs out of the theater, and Chang-ryul follows after her. Jin-ho and In-hee catch up to them, in earshot but in the background. Kae-in tells him, “I can’t do this anymore. I was going to get revenge. Just as you threw me away, I wanted to do the same to you. But…I’m not going to. I can’t do it anymore.”

That’s the thing Jin-ho’s been waiting to hear, all this time. Chang-ryul says it’s okay, that they’ll start over, no matter how it began. Kae-in: “You can’t change me. You don’t know…to whom…my heart has gone.”

Jin-ho hears this and walks right over to them, grabbing Kae-in by the arm and turning her around. He says, full of meaning, “Game over.”

And then? Omo. He lays a kiss on her…that is so EPIC that it kills me dead. No punches pulled, no sneaky angles—just a full-on, no-one-else-exists-right-now-but-you-and-me kind of kiss—that makes me think I fell asleep and dreamed it into existence. Gah. Can squee be an understatement? Cause it kind of feels like one now. Will someone please peel me off the floor?

I’ll be honest—that kiss saved this episode, because it was starting to feel too heavy for its own britches at a certain point. I was begging for some levity in the latter half, hoping against hope that we wouldn’t end on some angsty run-in schemed up by the exes. We did end up in In-hee’s trap, only the result was delightfully and unexpectedly smoochy, and in In-hee’s smug little face to top it off. Points for that.

So far the romance is progressing nicely, although I’m starting to get Coffee-Prince-anxiety. Early on, the gay was a misunderstanding that devolved…but now Jin-ho is a LYING LIAR WHO LIES…and it’s going to take some time to redeem him, if we want any satisfaction in their eventual togetherness. I’m going to be watching the next few with my hands over my eyes, bracing myself for the inevitable doom and gloom of the Not Gay. Good thing that kiss is seared into my brain…


189 May 5, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 11

by javabeans

With the drama really hitting its stride, I’m loath to think what might happen if the potential extension goes through. In any case, I hope they decide quickly so the writers have time to plan accordingly.

Wow, ratings jumped up for this episode. Personal Taste drew a 16.2% today, while Cinderella’s Sister had an 18.8% — I didn’t think we’d ever see the numbers so close. Prosecutor Princess rose a little to 9.9%.


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So. Now that it’s Game Over on the revenge plan, where do we go from here?

But first, let’s look at that kiss just one more time:

Ahhh. Even though I think the relative chasteness of kdramas has its charm, the limp-lipped kissing in most of them drives me batty, and I know I’m not in the minority on this one. I always enjoy the rare kdrama that features a realistic kiss where lips actually move — and even better, shows the female actively participating! I know! What a novel concept!

Episode 11, in keeping with our weather theme, is titled “Clear skies beginning today?” Lemme tell ya, I don’t like that question mark. Not one bit.

Let’s also take a moment to enjoy In-hee’s petulance at witnessing the kiss. Aw, poor heartless lady. You’d almost think the In-hee Bot had emotions, except I think it’s more likely the kiss just triggered her ego-support software.

Chang-ryul shoves Jin-ho off of Kae-in’s lips and reminds him that he’d agreed to back off. Jin-ho replies, “I was going to, but I can’t. I’m going to start loving her as a man now.”

Kae-in’s completely confused, so Jin-ho finally confesses the truth: “I’m not gay.” He apologizes for waiting so long to tell her, and asks her to forgive him.

Starting to cry, Kae-in thumps his chest with her fist — once, twice, then again and again. It’s barely a tap, like she wants to hurt him for causing her such misery but not having the heart to. Jin-ho grabs her arm, then pulls her in for a hug.

In-hee and Chang-ryul relocate to a bar, where the latter proceeds to drink heavily. In-hee asks if he’s going to let things end like this — clearly she has no comprehension of what “game over” means. I’d really hate to play games with this girl — she’s that person who refuses to accept the outcome of a game, argues everyone’s ears off, and demands a rematch. Best two out of three. Best three out of five. No, seven out of thirteen. Soon enough she’ll run out of prime numbers, or so you think. But alas, the girl knows how to count.

Chang-ryul reminds her of the look on Kae-in’s face when Jin-ho admitted he wasn’t gay: “Didn’t that expression explain it all? I don’t even have 1% of a chance.” In-hee alludes to Chang-ryul’s declaration that he cannot be without Kae-in — doesn’t that mean he should grab her no matter what? Chang-ryul doesn’t want to. In-hee demands why not. I yell at her, “Because he has some decency!”

Chang-ryul replies, “Because I love her. Because she’d suffered so much because of me. And because of Jin-ho, she can laugh now.” Awww. Okay, Chang-ryul, you’re off my shit list. I no longer think you should end up miserably ever after with In-hee, who doesn’t deserve you, even if you are pathetically weak.

In-hee laughs at him, mocking, “You think that’s love, don’t you? Stepping aside generously feels like real love, doesn’t it?” No, it’s called COMMON SENSE, but whatever. Sense does not compute with the In-hee Bot.

In-hee declares, “I’m going to do things my way from now on.” Good lord, does she really think she’s been a passive wilting flower all this time? Bring it on, Evil Wench-ho In-hee. Bring. It. On. Oh crap, is she looking at me? *ducks behind computer screen*

Chang-ryul tells her to stop it already, but In-hee replies that she only knows one kind of love: “If I can’t have him, nobody can.” Why are we not surprised? Also: What the heck does that actually MEAN? Hide your bunnies, people.

(I know, I recycled a joke. But what are the chances you actually read the recap from years ago where I first used that line?)

Jin-ho and Kae-in stop on their way home to talk about this. She tells him in a wounded voice, “Things were so confusing for me all this time.” She’d felt so stupid for finding herself drawn to him romantically, and it hurts to know it was all for nothing. She wasn’t even into the revenge — she just took it on because she needed an outlet for her energies.

Jin-ho tells her that he wasn’t confident that she had feelings for him, and only became sure when she told Chang-ryul she couldn’t go any further. Kae-in calls him stupid for only figuring it out today — she’d even dressed up as a man and done all sorts of foolish things to try to rationalize it. She went as far as to think that she could give up her femininity (i.e., hopes for a hetero relationship) just to stay with him as a friend.

When Jin-ho asks for her forgiveness, she’s so hurt that she answers, “No, I don’t want to forgive you.”

During the drive home, Jin-ho appeals to her once more — she has the right to be angry with him and he wronged her terribly, but won’t she forgive him? Kae-in keeps her gaze firmly averted, narrating another diary entry:

Kae-in’s narration: “Tomorrow’s weather forecast. The person I wanted to keep as a friend tells me today that he’s sorry and wants to start over as a man and a woman. My heart flutters enough to burst, but all the tears I’ve shed tell me not to forgive him today. But starting tomorrow, I won’t be afraid of bad weather.”

Upon arriving home, Kae-in tells Jin-ho to leave the house — she’s not up to seeing him tonight. He follows her inside anyway, saying that he knows she feels betrayed, “But this is the first time I’m feeling this way, so I don’t know what I should do either.” Perchance she might cut him a little slack?

Kae-in points out that he has been in love before, with Eun-soo (Yoon Eun-hye). Jin-ho starts to explain, but before he can get very far, visitors burst in — a drunk Hye-mi, followed by Tae-hoon. Seriously, can they get a deadbolt or something? A chain? Two knobs and a piece of twine?

Hye-mi stumbles over to Jin-ho, asking why he doesn’t love her. She’s younger than Kae-in, and prettier, and loves him more! Why, why, whyyyy?

Kae-in practically rolls her eyes and starts to walk away, while Hye-mi clings and whines. Jin-ho tells her, “I don’t see anyone else as a woman except for her. All right?”

Kae-in pauses ever so briefly at that, but continues to her room. Once inside, she tells herself she can’t forgive him right away, but the smile that flits across her face shows that she’s definitely going to.

Jin-ho takes Hye-mi back to his mother’s home to sleep it off, and tells his mother not to worry.

Mom tries to be open-minded about him being engaged to Kae-in, but she can’t quite get onboard with them shacking up together. To mitigate that, Jin-ho makes up a story about this setup being convenient for his job, because they’re working on a museum planning project together. It’s not TOO much of a stretch since they are both working on the museum in separate capacities, but he makes it seem that they’re collaborating closely.

Although she’d told Jin-ho to leave, Kae-in grumbles at his absence, growing more and more agitated the longer he’s out. She even strings up her doll and uses it as a punching bag. (Sohn Ye-jin is so cute.)

Of course, he arrives behind her and smiles to see her beating on the doll that she calls Jin-ho — he’s glad she’s letting out her anger. He’d rather she take it out on him, though, and holds her hand to hit himself with it (a reverse of the “Why are you hitting yourself?” maneuver some of us may have suffered in childhood).

Kae-in asks what his relationship to Hye-mi is, since the girl had called herself his fiancee. Jin-ho clarifies that she’s been saying that since she was seven, asking with amusement whether Kae-in is jealous. She says he’s mean for knowing Hye-mi liked him all this time without caring about her feelings, to which he agrees that she’s right — he does have a cold side.

Kae-in brings the topic back around to Eun-soo, as he never answered her question. Jin-ho explains that before Eun-soo left to study abroad, she had told him that she wouldn’t go if he held her back. And he didn’t, because he wasn’t sure that Eun-soo meant enough to him.

That prompts Kae-in to ask what she means to him. He answers, “Even if my life were different, I wouldn’t want to leave you out of it.”

Sweet! Growing flustered, Kae-in hastily changes the topic and offers to cook up some ramyun. But as she tries to pass by, he stops her and pulls her toward him. Holding her, he says, “This strange woman who suggests food whenever she gets embarrassed — I love her.”

And then, even the music shifts up one key, signifying the lift in Kae-in’s heart. And ours. Unless yours is swimming around in a puddle on the floor, that is.

In the morning, Jin-ho is in a grrrreat mood and hums to himself, presenting his staff with breakfast and coffee. The guys suspiciously inspect their cups, wondering if it’s poisoned. He gives a short speech to encourage them on and announces, “I love you all.” I mean, just look at that smile on his face! You can’t even begrudge the guy for falling in love with someone other than ourselves when he’s that happy.

Young-sun’s initial reaction to the news is to ask if Kae-in’s on drugs. Then, “Kae-in, are you very lonely? Are you imagining things on your own?”

Kae-in confesses that Jin-ho kissed her in front of Chang-ryul and In-hee. That convinces Young-sun, who gets excited on her behalf — but she adds the disclaimer, “If you just dreamed this all, I’m killing you.” You and me both, sister.

Young-sun gives herself credit for seeing something in Jin-ho when she dragged him in to live here. Honestly, I don’t think you need much other than eyes to “see something” about him. The hotness is pretty self-evident, y’know?

But then she realizes, “Then Sang-jun, that punk…!”

Sang-jun joins her at a cafe, suspecting nothing. She gets straight to the point: “So you’re not gay?” He tries to laugh it off, but she levels that glare his way and he asks, voice dropping to its natural baritone, “How’d you find out?”

Mortified over all the things she told him, she ignores his avowal that he really did feel a connection with her, and declares that they’d better stop meeting. He wonders how she found out, then guesses she must have sensed the masculinity emanating from him despite the gay act. Lol.

But no, Young-sun tells him that Kae-in and Jin-ho are dating, which he races to the office to confirm with Jin-ho. When asked about Do-bin, Jin-ho answers that he’s going to tell him the truth, but Sang-jun protests — what if Do-bin withdraws his support? Jin-ho answers that there’s nothing he can do about that, which makes Sang-jun ask if he really loves Kae-in that much. Jin-ho nods.

Do-bin gives Kae-in tickets to Jeju Island for a working trip, since there are lots of children’s theme parks there that may help her. He confides that Jin-ho will be going as well, to attend a seminar. After the botched dinner date set up by Young-sun and Kae-in fell flat, Do-bin is thinking of trying again in Jeju Island.

Feeling uneasy, Kae-in starts to set him straight (heh), but they’re interrupted by In-hee. Her meddling sonar must have pinged.

Scarface Han bursts in on a hungover Chang-ryul, infuriated yet again at his worthless son. He threatens him with banishment to the office in China, given how poorly he’s doing things these days. To his surprise, Chang-ryul agrees resignedly. He doesn’t want to stay here either, so he may as well go to China.

At the museum, In-hee sees Jin-ho arriving and congratulates him on his relationship. Then that fake-sweet voice turns harder and she asks what he saw in Kae-in. As his relationship is going to disappoint Do-bin a lot, In-hee wonders if Kae-in is enough to make that worth it. Is she so great? He answers, “Yes.”

He’s here to see see Do-bin, but In-hee informs him he’s on a business trip. She gives Jin-ho an invitation to the Jeju seminar on behalf of Do-bin, adding that the Dahm project judges will be there.

As he turns to leave, she asks, “Why is it Kae-in? As your partner, aren’t I better?” Partner in HELL, maybe! Lordy she’s delusional. She explains that she’s better positioned to persuade a disappointed Do-bin, and to have an influence over the Dahm judges.

Jin-ho: “I’m not looking for a business partner, but a life partner.”
In-hee: “Do you think Kae-in has a right to be your life partner?”
Jin-ho: “Why are you wasting your time like this? If you saw what happened with me and Kae-in yesterday, you ought to know that this is a waste of your time.”
In-hee: “Isn’t it persistence to do my utmost till the end?”

Man alive, the “end” is so far back in In-hee’s rearview mirror that she must be trying to circle the earth to catch it from behind. The better to kill it with.

Since he’s here, Jin-ho drops by to see Kae-in and requests a date. Kae-in plays coy, teasing, “Well, I’m a little busy, but if you beg…”

She agrees to the date, since she’d like to finish their talk about Eun-soo. He pretends he has to leave, but just then, his mother calls to request a meeting with both Jin-ho and Kae-in.

Kae-in fidgets nervously while they wait, afraid that his mother will hate her and oppose their relationship. Jin-ho assures her that his mother will like her because he does, which calms her a little.

Contrary to her worries, Jin-ho’s mother is quite polite to Kae-in, saying that she trusts Jin-ho. Furthermore, she can tell that Jin-ho must really like her by the way he’s treating her.

However, she worries about their “project” together, which confuses Kae-in. Jin-ho jumps in to say you know, that project, wink wink, the one where we’re working together, pulling all-nighters?

Mom is making an effort to be open-minded, but makes one request: please no premarital pregnancy! Kae-in chokes in surprise.

Once home, Kae-in instructs Jin-ho to move back home rather than lying to his mother. He calls her on her bluff and offers to leave, and thus begins a hilarious loop of Go, Fine I’m Going, Good I Want You to Go, I Mean It I’m Really Going, I Know So Bye, Fine Then Bye, Wait Is He Really Going??

For instance, she points out how slowly he’s packing, enjoying the idea that he doesn’t really want to leave. Testing him, she suggests that they limit their dating to one a week, since she’ll be so busy with work. Jin-ho isn’t about to let her have the upper hand and wants to prove that she’s bluffing, so he ups the ante and says he’s so busy they’d better make that one date a month. Yet when she agrees, he grimaces to have it backfire on him.

Basically, both want the other one to admit that they want Jin-ho to stay, but they’re not going to say it first. That leads Jin-ho as far as his car, but he mutters that if he really leaves, it’ll be more difficult to invent an excuse to go back. And so, he practices excuses in the car. Should he fake a stomachache? Go in to check that the door is locked? Say that the car is out of gas and he has no money?

When he comes back inside to get his laptop (ostensibly), Kae-in sees that he’s really going to leave again and fakes an ankle twist. He rushes to her side, but when he handles her ankle, she forgets to fake pain and giggles because it tickles. Haha. She’s such a bad liar, and Jin-ho knows it.

And then, they become aware of their closeness and move in for the most awkward nose-bumping kiss ever…

…only to be interrupted by Young-sun’s arrival. (People! Locks!)

Immediately embarrassed at what Young-sun might think of her if she found them in the room together, Kae-in forces Jin-ho to hide while she goes out to talk to her.

Young-sun has come lugging her bags, having fought with her husband. She asks if she can stay for a while, and Kae-in is forced to agree even though she’d love to send her away.

Motivated by selfish thoughts, Kae-in tries to convince Young-sun to think of her son and go back home, then shoves her into the bathroom for a shower to allow Jin-ho the chance to sneak away.

While she’s telling Jin-ho to go, Kae-in leans up to peck him on the cheek — only to have the doors burst open by Young-sun. Oops!

Jin-ho is therefore forced to leave, and heads to his office.

The next day, Hye-mi drops by the museum to see Kae-in, luggage in hand, to ask if she’s really going to marry Jin-ho. She’s on her way to the airport to return home to Canada — she gave up everything to come to Korea for Jin-ho, and therefore can’t watch him marry someone else. Hye-mi still can’t believe she got passed over for Kae-in — there’s no woman in the world who can love Jin-ho more than her.

Kae-in can’t say that she loves Jin-ho more than Hye-mi. However, when she thought he was gay, she would have married him anyway if he had wanted it. “That’s how much I wanted to be with him.”

That makes an impression on Hye-mi, who leaves in a huff.

In-hee receives materials from Do-bin’s father’s secretary (for Do-bin), and asks why the president is so set on Professor Park’s style of designing. Her eyes widen to hear that it’s because of Sanggojae.

In-hee then spies Hye-mi walking out of her meeting with Kae-in in a glum mood, and pulls her aside for a talk.

And here’s the unplanned Kim Nam-gil cameo! To be honest, I could barely pay attention to the conversation because I was glued to Kim Nam-gil the whole time. How can he make reading a book look so damn sexy? I mean, on one hand you have two petty, selfish girls arguing over one man to whom neither has a claim. On the other hand, sexy bastard Kim Nam-gil. Like it’s even a choice.

Hye-mi has grudgingly come to accept that she has been pushed out, and I enjoy her frustration because she is expressing a mature thought in an immature way. She gripes, “Damn, it’s annoying and driving me crazy! It feels like they’re really in love!”

Never one to accept no the first or hundredth time, In-hee plants seeds of doubt, asking if perhaps Jin-ho’s being fooled. She tells Hye-mi about Chang-ryul, who was her ex-fiancee and also Kae-in’s ex-boyfriend. Hye-mi is outraged: so Kae-in was two-timing Jin-ho?

As Kae-in walks up her street, she sees President Han in front of her house, approaching with gifts. Uncomfortable with this gesture (and him in general), she tells him that she has broken up with Chang-ryul, but he waves that aside. Young kids are always fighting, and he’ll apologize in place of his son.

But Kae-in won’t let him barrel his way inside and blocks him from entering her house. She’s trying to figure out how to get him to leave when a car pulls up, making her eyes widen: It’s Jin-ho’s mother and Hye-mi, and Mom immediately recognizes the evil man who usurped her dead husband’s position.

(Interestingly, Han calls Mom 제수 — wife of my brother — so does that make Chang-ryul and Jin-ho cousins? We’ve never heard this mentioned before.)

When he calls Kae-in his “daughter-in-law-to-be,” Mom assumes the worst and freaks out. Kae-in tries to explain, but Mom snaps at her and gets right back into the taxi, in tears.

At home, Jin-ho explains — or tries to — but she is so rocked with the emotional shock that she won’t listen. She now opposes his relationship with Kae-in and tells him, “Over my dead body.”

Likewise, Han is shocked to see that there are relationships between these people and demands to know why Kae-in is calling Jin-ho’s mother “Mother.” Why? WHY????

When Jin-ho comes home, he’s frustrated and takes the wrong tack, blaming Kae-in for letting President Han come here bearing gifts. She defends herself — it’s not like she could stop him — so he retorts that it’s her fault for mounting her revenge. Kae-in reminds him that he’s the one who pushed her into the revenge plan, and if they’re playing the blame game, he was the one who acted gay in the first place.

Both of them are being a little unfair to each other, not really meaning what they’re saying, but tempers are running high. Jin-ho leaves the house angry, and Kae-in berates herself for her part in the fight.

Jin-ho gets on his knees to appeal to his mother, telling her that Kae-in and Chang-ryul have been over for a while. Furthermore, he was the one who liked her and clung to her.

However, because Kae-in is now entangled with people who represent such horrible things to her, Mom refuses to accept her, even when Jin-ho says, “I can’t be without her.”

Kae-in worries to Young-sun about the fight, fearing that Jin-ho’s furious with her. Young-sun says that she called Sang-jun (against her own will) to check up on Jin-ho, and heard he is going on a business trip to Jeju Island. She urges Kae-in to go, and get pregnant (“like I did”) to force his mother’s acceptance.

I LOVE the conversation on the plane, which takes us to meta levels as Young-sun wonders, “But Kae-in, why am I going?” Kae-in says, “I wanted to ask you that earlier. Why ARE you going?” Because the plot needs her! HAHA.

Young-sun is working in league with Sang-jun to get the two lovers to bump into each other, figuring they’ll work it out on their own. And they’re right, because the moment Jin-ho sees her, he smiles.

She says defensively that she’s here for work, but he calls that an excuse and takes her outside.

The relocate to the rocky shore, where she worries about his angry mother. He tells her his mother will come around — he even said that he’d die without Kae-in.

Kae-in says she’s not in the mood for jokes, but he tells her he’s not joking. He assures her that there’s no need to worry, because there will be no cause for them to break up.

(Saying that in Episode 11 is like saying, “What could possibly go wrong?” in a horror movie. Don’t tempt the Fates!)

When they arrive back at the hotel, they run into Do-bin, who knows none of what has happened and suggests that they all dine together. Jin-ho gets right to the point and says he has something to tell him.

They start off with the pleasantries before arriving at the point. Do-bin offers Jin-ho a gift of a painting he had admired, which is in his hotel room. Jin-ho declines, saying that he can’t accept. Disappointed at Jin-ho’s response, Do-bin guesses that the news will be bad and says he’ll have to hear it next time, after he has had time to prepare himself.

But Jin-ho doesn’t want to drag this out, and speaks up.

Meanwhile, Kae-in runs into Chang-ryul at the hotel — their meeting is spotted by eagle-eyed In-hee, who never misses a thing. Kae-in requests that Chang-ryul keep her father from dropping by again, and he agrees readily, acknowledging that he put her through a lot. He can do that much.

She apologizes for the revenge attempt, but he waves that off good-naturedly, keeping a smile on his face. But when she turns, his face twists a little and he asks, “You’re happy, right?” After she nods, he says, “Then I’m fine.” Kae-in walks away.

Do-bin has been sensing Jin-ho’s serious mood, and it’s Ryu Seung-ryong’s wonderful acting that lets us feel his growing nervousness underneath the polite exterior. Jin-ho works up the nerve, then finally tells Do-bin, “I’m sorry.”

Do-bin asks what for. Jin-ho answers, “I love Park Kae-in.”

And then, a truck comes shooting out of the garage, heading straight for Kae-in. Chang-ryul races to shove her out of the way, and they both miss being hit but they land hard on the ground — particularly him.


I’m glad I got this episode to recap, and I’m going to guess the real angst gets going from here on out, probably starting next episode. Sorry, girlfriday! Muahaha. This one was neither too angsty nor overly sweet, and had decent plot movement with time for comic moments.

One small moment that I want to comment on is one of Mom’s remarks after finding out Kae-in and Chang-ryul used to date. I can understand her abhorrence of the Han family, and even how that extends to those connected with them, so I see where she’s coming from. But she’s also acting like Kae-in has been “dirtied” by her association with Chang-ryul, which rubs me the wrong way. Can a woman not be her own person without being defined by the men she has known?

This sets us up for some Montague-Capulet theatrics, and I don’t have a problem with this in theory, but I hope they don’t drag it out too long. Like, a week is fine, but please, I hope you’ve got other tricks up your sleeve after that.


192 May 8, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 12

by girlfriday

With most of the anticipated angst swiftly dealt out of the way in the last episode (SO green with envy this week, javabeans), we enter a new stage of development concerning “The Secret of Sang-go-jae.” A clever title, since the meaning is threefold: the secret of Sang-go-jae’s design, the family secret that the house contains, and Jin-ho’s secret of why he moved there in the first place.

While I’m riding this express train with both hands in the air screaming “wheeeeee,” I’m also a little vexed as to the dramatic weight being placed on Jin-ho’s Sang-go-jae betrayal. If he were my boyfriend (swoon), I’d be a tad more upset about The Gay. Wouldn’t you? They seem a little asymmetrical in dramatic proportions, but I suppose if this is the only way to see them as a couple while still hanging a secret and possible betrayal in the balance, I can groove with that. I do always love a series that introduces coupledom well before the final week. Especially when it leads to hijinks of the sexually frustrated kind, as pictured above (double swoon).


Do-bin reels from his rejection, and the look on his face speaks volumes. God, I love good silent acting. He returns to his suite and throws his would-be gift on the ground. No! Not the Kandinsky! Avert your eyes, art lovers.

Meanwhile, Kae-in has taken Chang-ryul to the hospital, where the doctor says that he’ll be okay, given that he regains consciousness sometime soon. But you haven’t said anything about amnesia, Doctor. Sir! Doctor! Where are you going? It’s like he doesn’t watch tv! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of watching kdramas, you ALWAYS run the risk of amnesia. Scrape your knee? Ask about the chance that you might not know your name or who you’re supposed to love.

Blissfully unaware of all the hullabaloo, Young-sun and Sang-jun reconnect over soju, the great equalizer. Centuries of social interaction smoothed over by the little green bottle. They’re about three bottles into round three, which explains the hilarity. Young-sun tells him she never would’ve been friends with him in the first place if he weren’t gay, which Sang-jun takes offense to. He announces he’s a real catch of a man; it’s just that he doesn’t shine standing next to Jin-ho. Well, not going to argue there. I love that the “real” Sang-jun still calls Young-sun “unni” and is pretty much just as affected as when he was playing gay. I’m pretty sure the only detectable difference is the pitch of his voice.

Jin-ho knocks on Kae-in’s door, and In-hee uses the opportunity to let him know that Kae-in isn’t in there because she’s out with Chang-ryul. Cue evil smile of delight.

When Jin-ho can’t find her in the lobby, he gives her a call, asking who she’s with. She starts off, “Chang-ryul…” at which he promptly hangs up the phone. Ha. I do love that one of your consistent character traits is pettiness.

Kae-in grumbles at her phone that he didn’t even let her finish her sentence, knowing full well how pissy he’s going to be about it. Chang-ryul wakes up, memory in tact (thank ye, gods), being kind and gracious, and sweet. Wait…Doctor! He plays down his heroics, and lets her off the hook to make sure she doesn’t feel guilty about dumping him. Kae-in thanks him, and he accepts her “thank you” as a goodbye.

Jin-ho drinks alone at the hotel bar, but In-hee couldn’t possibly let an opportunity to seduce an inebriated man go to waste. That would be against the ho code. She stays even when Jin-ho asks her to leave (that’s beyond persistent; it’s plain rude), and rubs salt in his wound by saying that Kae-in must have a lot of unfinished business with Chang-ryul, given their history.

She adds that Kae-in and Chang-ryul are alike in their inability to cut ties and move on, while she and Jin-ho are more alike because they must have what they want and can leave people ruthlessly. It’s like she’s confusing a narcissistic desire to see her own persona validated in another human being, with love. AND she’s drinking up the scotch. Dude.

In-hee asks why he confessed everything to Do-bin when he would’ve gotten away with it. Jin-ho answers that he didn’t want to use Do-bin’s feelings dishonestly. You’re wasting your breath here, sweetie. She doesn’t know what you mean. In-hee wonders if Jin-ho’s really as innocent as all that, since he did pretend to be gay as a means to some end. She muses with delicious superiority about the real reason he moved into Sang-go-jae…Oh bloody hell.

Do-bin drinks by the beach as he thinks back to Jin-ho’s initial coming out, and the rest of their conversation earlier that day. Jin-ho said that he’d quit the Dahm project if Director Choi wants him to; he just didn’t want to betray Do-bin’s sincerity any longer. Do-bin thinks to himself: “If you had wanted to fool me, I would have been fooled for you.” Ack, I sort of hate you right now, Jeon Jin-ho.

Kae-in and Chang-ryul return to the hotel. She worries about Chang-ryul but he says he survived watching her walk away holding Jin-ho’s hand at the musical, so a mild concussion is a cakewalk. Aw, am I going to start loving you now? You’re being so cute it’s freaking me out.

In-hee doggedly follows Jin-ho into the elevator, and is anyone else concerned that this woman is wearing no pants?! She keeps bugging him about Sang-go-jae, egging him on that maybe she struck a nerve. She’s no dummy, this one, because Jin-ho’s clearly agitated beyond normal levels. She starts to imply that he’s trying to marry into Professor Park’s family…at which he grabs her by both shoulders, warning her: “Watch what you say.”

Only that’s exactly when Kae-in and Chang-ryul come upon them in the elevator. Ruh-roh.

I have such a love/hate relationship with this kind of scene. I know it’s a dramatic staple, the misunderstanding and jealousy run-ins, but I’m always inevitably shouting things at my tv like, “why were you standing within kissing distance of the she-devil? Why?!”

Jin-ho, despite appearing in the guiltiest pose here, walks off in a huff, annoyed beyond reason at seeing Kae-in with Chang-ryul. Kae-in runs after him, and In-hee asks Chang-ryul if they’re still riding the same agenda boat. Chang-ryul just replies that she is REALLY getting tiresome. How is it that I’m liking you more with every scene?

Jin-ho, on the other hand, isn’t winning any points tonight, as he lays into Kae-in about Chang-ryul, blaming her (still) for his father’s gifts, and giving him room to still hang on. She tries to tell him that they met today to end contact for good, but Jin-ho’s beyond listening right now. Kae-in asks him why he’s saying things he doesn’t mean, but he answers that he’s not understanding or open-minded; in fact, he’s really childish. Oh, we know.

Jin-ho walks away, leaving Kae-in near tears, and Chang-ryul standing by in the wings. Do-bin sees Jin-ho brooding, and asks him if he’s sure he won’t regret telling him the truth, since he didn’t have to do so. Jin-ho answers honestly that he considered not telling him, but came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the way to honor Do-bin’s sincere feelings, or do right by the woman that he loves. Okay, you’re kind of winning me back with that.

Do-bin confesses (so vulnerably to the man who just broke your heart!) that it was a short time, but he was happy. “I always struggled my whole life, wondering why I was different from everyone else. Then one day, I realized that even if I didn’t torture myself, there would always be others to do it for me. So I should at least…pity myself.” Can we go back in time and hug the teenage you? Please somebody love this man, and more importantly, teach him how to love himself. My heart hurts for you.

Jin-ho apologizes for hurting him. Now THAT’s better. I’ve been waiting for that. No “doing the right thing,” but just being sorry for hurting the man’s feelings. Do-bin, the most forgiving man on the planet, says it’s okay; that he remembers Jin-ho’s face when he outted himself to Chang-ryul. With a sad smile on his face, he supposes that was because Jin-ho pitied him. He plans to forget it all, in the hopes of not losing a friend who would tell such a lie on his behalf. Who follows utter heartbreak with such class and grace? No one in this plane of existence, I’ll tell you that much.

The next morning the girls recap last night’s events. (Hey! That’s my job.) Young-sun sides with Jin-ho on this one, saying that it even angers her that Chang-ryul’s back in the mix. She says that Jin-ho must really love Kae-in, since he’s overworked with jealousy, because that’s how she was with her husband when they were first dating. She decides to flip it around on Kae-in: “wouldn’t it make you mad if you saw Jin-ho with another woman?” Kae-in’s like, damn right…oh, crap. Heh.

Chang-ryul takes Jin-ho aside at the conference, telling him that Kae-in was with him in the hospital last night, through no fault of her own. Jin-ho knows and doesn’t care. Chang-ryul adds that he’s let go of his feelings for her, and that he didn’t know about his dad’s antics. And then…he apologizes. Wow. Seriously, did someone give this guy a lobotomy in the hospital?

He admits that saying these things to Jin-ho feels dirty (okay…that’s better), but is doing so because he doesn’t want to see Kae-in hurt because of him. Jin-ho coolly tells him not to concern himself with Kae-in’s feelings anymore. Chang-ryul scoffs at Jin-ho, saying that he’s being ridiculous right now. Even when they always fought over work, he’s never been this cold.

Chang-ryul: “I’m jealous—getting angry and fighting. I never once got to do that with Kae-in. She always patiently accepted everything.” Jin-ho turns around and asks if Chang-ryul is okay from the accident, prompting a surprised “Are YOU asking about MY well-being?” Jin-ho responds, “Well, since you got injured because of my woman…” Oh, no you di’n’t. I’m fine with “my woman” or “my girl” as a sign of affection and belonging between couples, but you’re using it in a possessive sense here, to posture in front of her ex-boyfriend. And that don’t roof with me, buddy.

Chang-ryul adds that this doesn’t mean they’re not still at war in the work arena. He promises to fight fairly, no rocks in his fists, which actually makes Jin-ho smile. They part with newfound common ground, as much as lifelong adversaries can have.

Jin-ho goes to Kae-in’s room and meanders in front of her door, unable to knock. She opens the door just as he raises his hand to knock, causing him to hilariously act nonchalant like he just happened to be passing by. They can’t manage not to snap at each other, backwards-apologizing by asking each other if the other isn’t sorry for being mad. Oh, you kids. Kae-in breaks into a smile as she walks off, and Jin-ho follows after her.

They end up continuing their bickering at a department store, where Kae-in looks for a present for Jin-ho’s mom, at which he beams in delight and pinches her cheek. Eee! So cute. They participate in a couple game (a product-placement staple of kdramaland), winning a pair of watches as a prize for no apparent reason.

Pinky and the Brain team up once again to try and take over world…I mean mess with Kae-in. In-hee tells him that Sang-go-jae was the original concept-inspiration for Dahm, and that Jin-ho knew this going into Sang-go-jae. Could he really be that innocent? Could it be a coincidence? Chang-ryul gets fired up over the (false) realization that Jin-ho is using Kae-in just to win their war. “Jeon Jin-ho…that son of a bitch!”

Chang-ryul immediately charges off, ready to kill Jin-ho. In-hee has to run after him and stop him from derailing her plan. Wouldn’t it be better if they dropped the bomb at the most opportune time, so as to make the biggest impact? I love that you can actually see the wheels turning in Chang-ryul’s head, while In-hee rolls her eyes: do I have to think of everything? It’s the price of being an evil mastermind. Deal with it.

Meanwhile, our couple has a happy day at the beach, (I know, they dare tempt the fates by going to the ocean) where they play, feed each other food, and go for a drive. Kae-in notes how happy she is, shouting out: “I love Jeon Jin-ho! As much as the heavens and the earth, I love him!” So. Cute.

Jin-ho drops Kae-in and Young-sun off at Sang-go-jae, and Kae-in tells him to go home, to make sure that his mom doesn’t worry. The disappointment is written all over his face, but he leaves, as Young-sun metas that their relationship is straight out of a drama. Heh.

At home, Mom and Hye-mi gang up on Jin-ho for going to Jeju Island with Kae-in. Jin-ho explains it was for work, not play, and begs his mom to please just trust him when it comes to Kae-in. He says that she’s a good woman and Mom will eventually come to like her. But Mom is having none of that. No girl mixed up with Chang-ryul’s family is ever going to be liked by her. I think winning over Mom is just a matter of time, because it’s not like Kae-in is actually a Capulet. She’s a girl who dated a Capulet once. I think with enough time the distinction will bear relevance, even with her “over my dead body” histrionics.

Over in the land of the Capulets, Scarface tries to send Chang-ryul off to China, but he stands up to his father for the first time. Maybe while in the hospital you got a pair of cajones attached? Awesome. He totally tells his dad to shove it, and give him the resources he needs to win the Dahm contract, without meddling. He also plans to get Kae-in back, whatever it takes. Is it wrong that I’m starting to like him so late in the game? Badass Chang-ryul’s kinda hot.

Sang-jun and Jin-ho find out that their office building has been sold, so they need to move out and find new office space. Aw, man. I thought you were going to play fair, Chang-ryul.

In-hee comes to find Kae-in and pass along a lunch invite from Do-bin. She petulantly notes that someone like Kae-in who picks up everything by luck has no idea what it’s like to work for every little thing in life. I’m getting a Blair-Serena vibe from this conversation, with fewer fabulous clothes. In-hee tries to rub in her compromising elevator pose with Jin-ho, but Kae-in doesn’t bite because she trusts Jin-ho. She tells In-hee that she’s actually sorry for her, which pretty much makes her blood boil. Nice.

In-hee goads her about why on earth someone so smart and ambitious like Jin-ho would “say that he loves you.” Hm…now I’m starting to feel the dramatic scale of the Sang-go-jae betrayal, because if Kae-in is somehow made to believe that Jin-ho’s first lie, The Gay, is part of a larger lie, The House, then his machinations could seem as diabolical as In-hee assumes. I’m not sure that someone’s going to convince Kae-in that Jin-ho doesn’t really love her, but this being his second lie could maybe tip the scale, especially if she feels foolish for forgiving him so easily for The Gay.

Kae-in takes the high road, pitying her, while In-hee says to herself that Kae-in doesn’t know Jin-ho like she does. This is just adding fuel to the fire for getting my hate on, but can someone please explain to me how this is a work-appropriate outfit? If your shorts are smaller than your notebook, you should be at the beach.

Kae-in sits down in Do-bin’s office, awkwardly awaiting a verbal beat down. Do-bin does chastise her for being his “unrequited love” sunbae, getting him to share things with her that he now feels really awkward about. So he insists they sit together and eat, so that she feels the awkwardness too. Ha. And then? He congratulates her for graduating from their unrequited love club. Aw. Seriously, who is this nice? Kae-in thanks him and Do-bin requests that they eat lunch together often. Such a dignified and lonely soul.

Kae-in gets a call from a furniture company who wants to hire her as the designer for a new brand they’re launching with a singles concept. Kae-in can’t believe her ship has finally come in, and calls Jin-ho to tell him she’s got good news to share over dinner. Hm. Chances this is on the up and up? Slim to none, my drama radar says.

Young-sun asks to meet Kae-in at the bank to help her set up a savings plan, since she’s about to come into a lot of money from the furniture contract. Young-sun tells her she needs to plan for marriage financially. If only everyone had a bestie like her.

Young-sun hears from Sang-jun about Jin-ho’s office troubles, and when Sang-jun joins them at the bank, Kae-in is quick to offer up her future contract money. Oh, you simple-minded girl! I just want to shake you violently sometimes. This is why you got your house mortgaged as collateral out from under your nose! Gah. Young-sun agrees with me, telling her not to confuse the difference between planning for marriage and handing over all her money to a man she may or may not end up with. Thank you!

Kae-in and Jin-ho toast her success over a bottle of wine, and Kae-in tries to offer Jin-ho a loan, but he doesn’t let on that he needs any money, and turns her down. Young-sun calls Kae-in to let her know she made up with her husband, prompting both Kae-in and Jin-ho to grin from ear to ear. Jin-ho says to himself with a giant smile, “That ajumma is finally going home tonight.” Bow-chicka-bow-wow!

Kae-in calls out to Jin-ho, asking him if he should be getting home soon. Jin-ho’s got to think quickly, so he plops down on his bed and pretends to be asleep. Kae-in is in turn disappointed that he’s already asleep, and goes to her own room. Jin-ho says to himself, “You’re really trying hard, Jeon Jin-ho.”

Cue split screen of sexual frustration. They toss and turn in their beds, neither knowing how to think of anything else, nor just make the first move. Jin-ho is the first to come out of his room, and Kae-in follows suit, asking him if he should get home. Jin-ho feigns drunkenness as an excuse to stay and sober up before he drives, and Kae-in is quick to reinforce his decision. Kah! The pretenses are so lame and all the cuter because of it.

They end up looking at Kae-in’s baby pictures, and Jin-ho asks why there are none of her mother. She says that she doesn’t remember, but there must’ve been a fire or something, because no pictures of her mom ever survived. Uh-oh. Are we going to introduce birth secrets too?

He sweetly puts his arm around her, as she tells him to be patient with his own mother. She’s okay waiting as long as it takes, to win her over the right way. He looks at her lovingly, appreciating her patient heart.

Kae-in asks if he should get going now, and this time Jin-ho says that there are drunk driving checkpoints set up, and he’ll get pulled over for sure if he leaves now. I love how elaborate the excuses are getting. So funny. Kae-in asks what should they do now? Jin-ho: “Uh, well…”

They end up watching tv, which of course leads to this:

And this:

Ha. So they end up retreating to their rooms. Jin-ho can’t stop thinking about his bathroom run-in with a towel-covered Kae-in, and tells himself to get it together. Kae-in thinks back to her own bathroom run-in with a full-frontal Jin-ho, and her eyes widen as she tries to get a grip.

How much do I love that Kae-in is shown as a sexual being, with her own very natural desires, completely parallel to Jin-ho’s? It’s SO rare to see a kdrama heroine as anything but chaste to the point of being afraid of sex like it’s going to be an assault on her virtue, leading men to counter by being overly aggressive…which leads to snowballing badness on a social scale. A woman? With sexual desires? Of her very own? I could kiss you, Show!

Jin-ho tries to work, but ends up head-desking. Kae-in starts getting overheated, and they both come out for some water at the same time. Jin-ho basically can’t take it anymore, and decides to go to the office. Keh, oh just do it already, you two!

Jin-ho cools off in his office, asking himself why he’s getting so worked up, and smiling to himself like a fool. He takes out his apology apple, and places it next to the miniature table on his desk.

Sang-jun arrives at work in the morning in high spirits over Kae-in’s new contract and the possible loan from her to acquire their new offices. Jin-ho tells him that’s never going to happen, but Sang-jun doesn’t listen, and calls his friend at the furniture company to find out how much she’s getting paid. Only what he finds out is much more nefarious…

Chang-ryul’s company has ordered the brand, and asked specifically for Kae-in as the designer. Knew it. Once a rich entitled bastard, always a rich entitled bastard, Han Chang-ryul. Jin-ho meets him under the bridge, and asks if the stuff he said in Jeju was a lie, or if he’s feeling so sorry that he’s trying to be a daddy long legs to Kae-in.

Chang-ryul’s impressed at Jin-ho’s quick draw on finding out his involvement, surmising that he’s the mastermind that In-hee painted him to be. Chang-ryul throws another tidbit his way: he’s the one behind Jin-ho’s sudden office relocation too. Jin-ho gets the score now, but he asks why Chang-ryul is fighting dirty when he announced he’d play fair. Chang-ryul says that was when YOU were playing fair. Jin-ho asks what on earth that means, but Chang-ryul just tells him to ask his own conscience.

Chang-ryul asks if Jin-ho’s going to block Kae-in’s big opportunity just to keep him away. “Do you know why I’ve decided to reclaim Kae-in? Because you’re someone who can’t do anything for her, unlike me.” Jin-ho calls him a coward, and Chang-ryul just throws it back at Jin-ho, saying he’s the true coward, and walks away, saying to himself: “I’ll stop you from using Kae-in, with whatever means I can.” Ooh, I like this dynamic between the guys much better, because both of them have loving, noble intentions, but they’re coming to bat with very different styles of execution. Good character clashes; good dramatic conflict.

Jin-ho goes to see Kae-in, thinking maybe he can talk her into slowing down on the furniture contract. But she’s far too excited to be talked down: “I have yet to show my father anything real that I’ve accomplished on my own. For the first time in my life, I’ve done something so that my father can acknowledge me.” Jin-ho can’t bear the thought of breaking her heart when it’s so full of hope, so he says nothing. I know, it would crush her. But you totally heard her chastise you when you joked about buying up all her furniture when you succeed. She even wielded a chainsaw to drive her point home. You know her only source of pride is in her work! She’s going to be the maddest about this, just you wait and see.

Jin-ho broods in his office, and gets interrupted by a visit from the contractor on his last building. He notices one of Jin-ho’s drawings as Sang-go-jae; turns out he not only knows the place, but helped build it. He was just a kid, the youngest builder on the job, but it was his first house, so he remembers it well. Jin-ho eagerly asks him if he knows any peculiarities or structural hardships they had when building the house, and he remembers digging to build the basement…

Jin-ho goes home to find this hidden basement, and when he goes down the trap door, he comes upon an old workspace, and a picture…

When Kae-in comes home, she’s so happy to come home to a man who’s cleaning: “You pretty man. Want me to kiss you?” Heavy duty cleaning definitely deserves a make-out session in my book. But he excitedly tells her that he found a surviving picture of her mom. He shows her the hatch, and they go down to the basement. The strings of strife and impending doom do not bode well…

Jin-ho says that he found something cool, as he stands on the table and pulls down the ceiling planks, revealing the underside of the living room. The light streams onto Kae-in’s face, as she flashes back to being above the glass ceiling, as her mother worked below and kept an eye on her.

Jin-ho wonders aloud why this room is boarded up, since it’s such a unique feature, unheard of in a han-ok house. Just then, Kae-in remembers…the glass underneath the little girl comes crashing down, as Kae-in falls to the ground, covering her ears. She faints from the trauma, and Jin-ho holds her, screaming “Kae-in ah, Park Kae-in!”

Whoa. We’re definitely taking a turn towards the dramatic here. Before we get into the house mystery, I do want to point out that in panic mode, Jin-ho drops the formalities and calls her “Kae-in ah,” which he’s never done. I can’t wait till they’re totally informal with each other. It’s a change in level of intimacy that only resides in kdramas—the what-to-call-you conundrum, which strangely gets me, every time.

I wasn’t really expecting any mother-death drama beyond Kae-in’s strained relationship with her father, so this reveal was definitely a surprise for me. And there’s nothing better than a surprise that’s laid into the story well enough that it doesn’t come from left field, but still jumps out at you. I’m purely speculating here, but I’m assuming that Kae-in’s father has some serious blame issues concerning the death of his wife, as he is the architect who designed the glass-bottom playpen, but also because Kae-in somehow inadvertently caused her mother’s death (only in the way that a child could be robbed of love from a father if her mother died in childbirth, or something out of her control like that).

I wasn’t prepared for this kind of secret to come out of Sang-go-jae, so I’m digging this new development, as it goes a little deeper than the constant work-related plotting and secret-holding that’s been going on.

On a purely self-affirming note, the glass playpen fits nicely with my theory about Sang-go-jae’s design concept, so I’m going to hold onto that romantic notion a while longer. If her shock-trauma lands Kae-in anywhere in the vicinity of amnesia, I will break up with you, Show. I will. I’ll do it. Just as soon as they have the s-e-x…


104 May 13, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 13

by javabeans

SO MANY cute couple scenes in this episode! We’re definitely in the calm before the storm, so again I’m gonna gloat to girlfriday about getting the floofy, candy-sweet episode. Then again, maybe she’s not so jealous since, other than the coupley goodness, the plot was a little slow. (But who cares when you have adoring Jin-ho, right?)


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Episode 13, titled “A Special Birthday Present,” opens as Kae-in falls unconscious from the shock of her Sanggojae memory, wherein she crashed down through the glass ceiling onto her mother below, which presumably killed the latter. The shock takes a physical toll as well as emotional, and Kae-in suffers through a feverish night, during which Jin-ho takes care of her attentively. He doesn’t know anything of her Sanggojae trauma — which she doesn’t recall when she wakes up — and thinks she has just fallen sick.

In the morning Kae-in wakes up shuddering, feeling like she had a nightmare. He lets her rest while returning to the secret basement to look around, where something resting against the wall catches his eye. But just as he steps toward it, Kae-in calls him from upstairs. She’s feeling better now.

It may be just a little ridiculous how much I love that he draws a scented bubble bath for her, replete with rose petals. And then he sits outside the bathroom to wait, asking if she likes the gesture. Which is about as unnecessary a question as “How hot am I right now?”

And then, as if that’s not enough, he DRIES HER HAIR. This is one of those gestures that is sweet but not actually helpful, as Kae-in would be more comfortable doing it herself, which makes it that much sweeter — they’re both putting up with the inconvenience because it’s so enjoyable being together. Like a couple where both people read their own books while holding hands, for whom the compromised mobility is worth the closeness. Eventually she takes over, and Jin-ho looks down at her bared neck as she dries her hair. Leaning close, he kisses her and asks her not to fall ill again. Dude, if I got this kind of treatment every time I fell ill I’d never stop faking it.

Sang-jun and Young-sun head over to Sanggojae, the latter carrying provisions to for sick Kae-in’s recovery. Young-sun tentatively broaches the subject of Kae-in potentially offering Jin-ho money to help with the business, wanting to ask Sang-jun not to accept it. But she doesn’t have to ask, since Sang-jun replies that there’s no way they could accept anyway — they have found out that Kae-in’s big furniture order came from Chang-ryul, and we know that the day they take his money is the day the In-hee Bot discovers compassion. So we’re not holding our breaths here. He adds that although they’d like to tell Kae-in the truth about the source of her income, Jin-ho saw how happy she was and couldn’t bring himself to burst her bubble.

Just as they arrive at the house, Jin-ho gets a call from Tae-hoon with bad news: they’ve been served with a lawsuit. Jin-ho doesn’t want to let on that it’s serious and uses words like “printer cartridge” for Kae-in’s benefit, and apologizes for having to leave to deal with work.

Kae-in busily eats, wanting to recover quickly to relieve the burden on Jin-ho. Young-sun thinks of Jin-ho’s business problems and uses this comment as a segue, saying that he’s got bigger problems on his plate. But she can’t quite spill the beans either, so she just mumbles how Kae-in has to become “a real woman” in order to know what what’s best for Jin-ho.

Interpreting that comment in a different way, Kae-in bows her head bashfully and says, “I think I’ve become a real woman now.” Young-sun gets excited, thinking all sorts of sexy thoughts and imagining a home run until Kae-in clarifies that she’s talking about a kiss. Boo! (First base at best.)

That’s nothing to get impressed about, so Young-sun starts to explain the meanings behind different kinds of kisses. (On the hand, on the forehead, etc.) Kae-in asks what one on the neck means, and Young-sun gets excited again, since a neck kiss connotes desire. (Maybe a setup for a stolen second base?)

The lawsuit comes out of nowhere — the plaintiff is the construction worker who had been injured on the job, who had been released from the hospital with no complaints. The contractor asks his man why he’s suddenly suing, suspicious that this has to do with that stranger who had been asking questions. The worker has obviously been coached by a separate mastermind.

Well, maybe “mastermind” is overstating things a bit. Jin-ho confronts Chang-ryul, who doesn’t even bother with a denial; Chang-ryul says he’s just playing sneaky to counter Jin-ho’s sneakiness. Jin-ho has no idea what he’s referring to, until Chang-ryul asks pointedly why he moved into Sanggojae and insinuates that he knew it was the concept behind the Dahm project. He suggests that Kae-in would be hurt to know that Jin-ho had faked everything just for the project.

Jin-ho asserts that no matter his reason for moving into Sanggojae, his feelings toward Kae-in are sincere. She’ll believe that. Chang-ryul calls him the boy who cried wolf whose explanation won’t be believed, challenging him to see what happens when le shit hits le fan.

Do-bin notices that today is Kae-in’s birthday and confirms it with In-hee, who plays along despite having forgotten herself. Do-bin takes out three tickets to an ice rink, which breaks my heart a little — he knows he’d be the third wheel but considers them such friends that he’d go out with them together.

In-hee sees an opportunity to shove Chang-ryul toward Kae-in and brings the birthday to his attention. He had let Kae-in down last year by forgetting the day after promising to do something big, and this is a chance for him to make an impression.

Chang-rul asks hesitantly if it’s okay for him to give Kae-in a birthday present, which strikes me as being rather like a mouse asking a cat for advice about wooing another mouse, not knowing the cat sees them all as dinner. His first impulse is to buy roses and jewelry, but he changes his mind — Kae-in isn’t In-hee, so those gifts aren’t appropriate. The boy is learning! Too bad it’s too little too late, but I give him credit for the honest effort.

When Chang-ryul drops by, he comes bearing not flowers or jewels but an envelope. She tells him she’s uncomfortable being around him, which he respects. He hands her an envelope, and has managed a pretty good present — or at least a good explanation for it. He has decided that the most meaningful thing to give her is something that would help Jin-ho, and therefore offers her money with which Jin-ho can secure a new office. Since Jin-ho would never take money from Chang-ryul, he might accept it from her.

Kae-in has forgotten her own birthday and gives back the envelope — she can’t give that money to Jin-ho by lying. And again Chang-ryul reacts maturely, a bit disappointed but admitting that it was a mistake in judgment for him to try.

Which is, of course, when Jin-ho arrives on the scene. As we know, this is the one area in which he is completely irrational and often allows his jealousy to pre-empt his reason, so he glares at them both and lets his anger get the better of him.

Kae-in tells him not to misunderstand, because she didn’t accept the gift in the first place. She defends Chang-ryul (mistake!) by saying that he’s actually being quite thoughtful of Jin-ho, which makes the latter scoff, “Then are you thinking of me at all?” She’s hurt by his words and the implication that she doesn’t care about him, while he leaves angry.

Do-bin sees her downcast mood and joins her, guessing that Jin-ho is at the root of her distress. Rather than asking her about the problem head-on, he draws an analogy with math, asking if she was good at the subject in her school days. She says no, and neither was he; he explains that he used to think his math-savvy friends must also be good at solving real-life problems. If they could figure out love like a math problem, they could avoid hurting each other and just love. I adore Do-bin’s conclusion: “I’m certain that Jeon Jin-ho was worse at math than we were.”

Do-bin takes out his envelope and removes one ticket before handing the others to Kae-in, which is such a heartbreaking gesture — he’s removing himself from the equation. He offers it to her as a prime opportunity to make up with Jin-ho, and notes that it’s only valid through today. He wishes her happy birthday, crumpling up the third ticket in his hand so she doesn’t see it, which KILLS ME. Arg, Ryu Seung-ryong is wringing my heart over and over with his thoughtful, sensitive portrayal. Love him.

Young-sun and Sang-jun brainstorm about how to prepare Kae-in’s birthday (and the ensuing seduction for the two of them). They imagine setting out a cake, candles, and wine and pretend to pop the imaginary cork. While enacting the toast, they meet eyes and a flare of awkward awareness springs up between them. Uh-oh! Lady’s got a husband! And you’re still calling her unni!

Shaking off that nervous moment, Young-sun turns back to the topic at hand, saying that their scenario would totally work on her — she’s only experienced the poor man’s (or lazy man’s) version of the birthday celebration with a candle in a Chocopie, soju, and so on. As they meet eyes again, Sang-jun says, “That doesn’t sound bad either.”

And then they jump up nervously when Jin-ho comes in. They inform him that it’s Kae-in’s birthday, which is a fact he hadn’t known.

He comes home to find Kae-in still a little miffed, although he’s back to his good humor. He tells her to get dressed — her narrow-minded boyfriend wants to take her out to make up for getting angry. Her response? “That woman tells me to tell you she doesn’t want to go on a date with a narrow-minded man.” He replies, “Isn’t it more narrow-minded not to accept an apology?” Touché.

After thinking about it, Kae-in grudgingly agrees, but qualifies that she’s only agreeing because the tickets will go to waste otherwise. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about until they arrive at the ice rink.

Although she insists that she’s only here because of the tickets (which he is jealous to hear came from a man, until she clarifies that they’re from Do-bin), Kae-in marvels at the fun in participating in this quintessential date activity. In dramas, the couples always go to ice rinks and hold hands and act cute, which she always wanted to try. Jin-ho smiles, reading between the lines — she’s practically declared her feelings for him, then, by comparing this date to those drama dates. Hehe.

When she falls, Jin-ho offers her a hand to get up, and she pulls him down to the ice with her. She lands on top of him (because why waste a good excuse for some physical intimacy?), and the two share a moment of sexual tension, which Jin-ho responds to by giving her a quick peck on the lips.

Jin-ho had left the gate open for Sang-jun and Young-sun to prepare a surprise while they were gone, so upon their return to the house, they find a romantic spread with candles, cake, and wine.

Gah, I just melt at the way Jin-ho looks at Kae-in — not just in this scene but repeatedly throughout this episode — because boy is so smitten and he doesn’t even care about letting it all show.

He tells her to make a wish before blowing out her candles, but the smile fades from his face when she says her wish was for them to not lie to each other anymore. She made the wish in a lighthearted spirit, thinking of his gay masquerade, but naturally this is more meaningful to him in light of his Sanggojae deception.

He decides to come clean and tells her that he’d made a wish for his “true feelings” to come through. He means that he’d like her to believe that he loves her after hearing the truth, but the vague statement puzzles her. Working up the nerve to tell her the whole truth, he asks her not to get angry with his confession. But she gets scared at the last moment and cuts him off, changing the subject by asking if he prepared a gift for her.

Jin-ho answers that he’s her gift, teasing, “Aren’t I good enough?” But Kae-in — who had been taken shopping by Young-sun for sexy lingerie earlier — interprets that comment more literally. Asking for a moment to “prepare,” she excuses herself. Jin-ho doesn’t quite know what she means by that, but figures that alas, today’s not the right night for this confession.

He heads back to the basement to take note of necessary steps to restore the room, thinking it’ll be a nice gesture for Kae-in. This boy is just killing me with all the sweet displays of affection. This is the complete opposite of Chang-ryul or In-hee, who see romantic moves as strategic plays, which of course is the very opposite of romantic. In contrast, Jin-ho loves doing things for her just for the sake of making her happy, which makes me all gooey inside.

The item propped against the basement wall catches his attention again, which turns out to be a poster tube. Pulling out the paper inside, he finds a rolled blueprint of the house. Bingo!

Upstairs, Kae-in is a bundle of nerves as she calls Young-sun — she thinks Jin-ho was going to tell her he wanted to spend the night with her, but she chickened out because she was so nervous her heart was racing. Plus, he called himself her birthday present, which Young-sun agrees was a physical invitation.

She worries over whether to wear her sexy new lingerie, while Young-sun advises her to build the mood toward intimacy rather than charging into the situation head-on.

Which means… Jenga?

I actually love that Jin-ho gets pissy when she flicks his forehead (a punishment for losing his round), because this aspect of his character has been consistent. Kae-in feels sorry to see the bright red mark her flick has left, and leans in close to blow on her forehead. Yet now they’re both thinking of more physical impulses and the proximity makes them both nervous.

Jin-ho jumps back and they both abandon the game, retreating to their rooms with racing hearts (and libidos).

Kae-in frets to her Jin-ho doll, afraid of putting herself out there and then having Jin-ho disappointed in her. She remembers Jin-ho telling her during that long-ago night that Chang-ryul broke up with her because she didn’t sleep with him. And that men’s instinct is to hold and touch the women they love.

Meanwhile, Jin-ho tries to work through his hormones, recalling the same conversation — particularly Kae-in’s wish to have a man love her no matter whether she slept with him or not.

But maybe the gods are getting a little impatient with their uncertainty, because a bolt of lightning rends the sky and a thunderstorm swiftly commences. Kae-in bursts into Jin-ho’s room, scared of the noise, pleading to spend the night here.

Some time later, Jin-ho cradles Kae-in while they lie in bed together, and he relates stories of his student days. Finding that she has fallen asleep, he wonders, “Have you forgotten I’m a man? If you keep doing this, it’ll give me a hard [hehe] time.”

He kisses her forehead, which is the type of kiss Young-sun had called an example of “faith and trust.” That forms the basis of Kae-in’s next diary entry:

Kae-in: “Using the thunderstorm as an excuse, I tried being courageous. However, you protect me with faith and trust. Did you really not understand my clumsy confession? This has been the weather forecast of a shy Park Kae-in, who hopes for rain again tomorrow.”

I appreciate that her diary narration demonstrates that she recognizes that the storm was just an excuse; it shows that she was trying to take the first step, even if he didn’t interpret the move as such.

In the morning, she wakes up in his empty bed and Jin-ho teases over the phone how she had kept him up all night with her snoring and grinding of teeth.

Sang-jun overhears his part of the conversation and congratulates him, assuming that they’ve consummated the relationship. Jin-ho replies that he’s got the wrong idea, but neither Sang-jun nor Tae-hoon believes him.

On the flipside, Kae-in tells Young-sun they slept together last night, but Young-sun doesn’t consider this to be the proper definition of “sleeping together.” She’s disappointed in Jin-ho for dropping the ball, but Kae-in moons over his gallantry, sighing, “Isn’t he so cool?” He’s a man who knows how to watch over the woman he loves, and therefore is the man of her dreams. Young-sun retorts, “Then just hold hands forever and stick to dreaming.”

In-hee intrudes, sarcastically commenting how impressive it is that Kae-in received a birthday gift from her ex. As if I didn’t already love Young-sun enough, she gets right in In-hee’s face and jabs her in the chest, then approaches with a fist. Alas, Kae-in holds her back, cheating us of the gratification of the impending smackdown.

However, Young-sun finds her attempted intervention unwarranted, as Kae-in sticks up for herself impressively. She tells In-hee that she’s so busy that she forgot her own birthday and asks In-hee to leave — those are fairly mild words but the punch is in the implication. She is pointing out that In-hee is playing little kiddie games while she’s busy being an adult, and therefore, even though the setdown is mild, it has its intended effect and In-hee storms off feeling pissy.

Jin-ho takes out the blueprint from the tube he’d retrieved from the basement, but this time he notices something else — another set of papers inside. Yahtzee! These blueprints are something quite different, something beyond the scope of the Sanggojae itself. He hasn’t quite cracked the nut of the house’s secret, but he’s right there on the verge…

Meanwhile, Scarface is also trying to figure out the same secret, having heard that Sanggojae is more than a simple house. It’s part of a bigger picture, and if only he could find the blueprints… (Anvils away! Who else expects immediate hijinks landing the papers in his evil clutches?) He sighs and grunts as he mulls this over, and I swear it’s like this guy is taking his acting cues from Darth Vader.

Time for another adorable date between Kae-in and Jin-ho, who are on a coffee break. They laugh at each other’s whipped-cream mustaches, while she reaches up to wipe his from his upper lip.

Acting on the romantic current flowing between them, Jin-ho moves the table aside and leans closer… which makes her lean backward and almost tip backward in her chair. How she could be leaning away from him when he’s wearing that intent expression on his face is beyond me; I’ve barely got enough restraint to keep MYSELF from jumping up and assaulting his face with kisses. I don’t know how she does it.

After getting her royal setdown by Kae-in, In-hee fumes and reaches for the phone to call Hye-mi. She’s an unlikely ally, but she’s In-hee’s best contact for getting in touch with Jin-ho’s mother, who is the next step in Operation Break Jin-ho’s Romance Up So I Can Have Him, Even If He Hates Me, Because His Agency In This Relationship Is A Nonissue When We’re Talking About What I Want, Dammit. Beep boop beep.

In-hee plays the part of a concerned friend, feigning hesitation over sharing Jin-ho’s work troubles with his mother. She reveals that Jin-ho is in a lot of difficulty these days, with his office in danger and the lawsuit hanging over his head. And it’s all because of Kae-in, she explains, because Chang-ryul is meddling with Jin-ho because of her. She didn’t end her relationship with Chang-ryul cleanly, and kept dating him even when she was seeing Jin-ho.

Ohh, In-hee is so crafty. I’m actually impressed! This is all true, but Mom is still getting the wrong idea. Even the two-timing part is technically right (given the “revenge” plan), but it conveys a distorted truth. Which elevates In-hee from mere manipulator to evil genius, frankly.

Shaken, Mom asks what she can do to help, but also expresses her skepticism over In-hee’s role in telling her this. After all, if In-hee used to be with Chang-ryul, isn’t it better for her that Kae-in and Jin-ho continue dating so she can take Chang-ryul back?

In-hee answers that it’s not about her personal feelings (because she has none), and merely feels it would be a terrible waste for Jin-ho to ruin his life this way. She suggests that Mom try to persuade Kae-in herself, as it’s unlikely Kae-in will be able to ignore her.

Oblivious to this storm brewing on the horizon, Jin-ho and Kae-in are shopping for housewares like a blissfully happy couple. Kae-in urges Jin-ho to go back to his mother’s house to avoid her ire, but he answers that he has nowhere to go other than Sanggojae. On nights he doesn’t spend there, he has been sleeping in his office.

Jin-ho declares that he’ll be fine continuing to “just hold hands” with her — an assurance that he won’t press himself on her physically — because that’s how much he wants to be with her.


So. Like I said, we’re pretty light on story development in this episode, as the main storyline hits two basic points: Jin-ho finds the blueprints, and In-hee drags Mom into this mess. The rest of the episode is dedicated to giving us lots of yummy couple bonding moments, and if Jin-ho and Kae-in weren’t so damn lovable I’d probably think it was excessive. But one could argue that in a romantic comedy that gives a lot of weight to the growth of its main characters, the bonding itself is a necessary activity to show the trust being built between them so that it can break our hearts appropriately when that trust is infringed upon.

I recall that early in the drama, there were a lot of disgruntled comments about what was seen as a mismatched pairing between Sohn Ye-jin and Lee Min-ho. It seems that tide has been turning as the drama progresses, and I’d like to chime in and say that I’m LOVING this team. Romantic dramas that are successful tend to evoke a strong fan loyalty to the pairing even long after the drama is over, and I think this definitely was one issue here, seeing as how I read a lot of comparisons between Gu Hye-sun and Sohn Ye-jin which were pretty irrelevant to this drama.

I think that Lee Min-ho had chemistry with Gu Hye-sun, but I love that Sohn Ye-jin brings out his mature side. Being teamed with her allows the romance in this drama to be an adult one, rather than the youthful first love of Boys Before Flowers. Nothing wrong with youthful love, and I’m not knocking it — it just brings with it certain limitations, story- and chemistry-wise. For instance, I recall reading that a certain kiss in Boys Before Flowers was edited way down because it was more passionate than was deemed appropriate. There’s also no way they would have broached the topic of the main characters — and especially the female lead — struggling with their sexual desires. Kae-in is allowed to be mature, adult, and aware of her sexual feelings while not being labeled a pervy tart, and Jin-ho is allowed to be sexually frustrated AND respectful of her boundaries. It’s stuff like this that really makes Personal Taste a breath of fresh air.


103 May 16, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 14

by girlfriday

This episode entitled “Taming My Woman”…Oh No You Di’n’t, Show. I almost turned you off after the title sequence. But given that this is a topic of discussion and debate between the characters rather than a straight-up account of events, I won’t launch into a diatribe. Unless provoked.

All of our roads converge in this episode, and at the center of the crossroads stands our heroine. If she were the same Kae-in of Episode 1, I’d be scared she’s going to end up roadkill, but I’m certain the Kae-in we know now isn’t about to buckle, even if what she comes to bear is the weight of the world.

Initially I was skeptical of the lie-reveal-angst pacing of this drama, because it’s weighted much more heavily on the lie part of the trio, and because there is a redundancy factor when dragging on a lie for too long, especially a second lie at that. But so far it’s (mostly) had the result of being sufficiently tense, dramatically, while handily dispensing with the angst faster than you can say “Sang-go-jae,” which is a nice change of pace, even if I would trade a little of The Cute for some more angst. I think in the end the only thing worth beans in this kind of drama is the romantic chemistry, and I don’t know about you guys, but I could watch these two be in love for a hundred more episodes. (Wait. That wasn’t a nod of approval for an extension, MBC. It was just a hyperbole. Don’t you go adding on any episodes, Show! I will curse you and all your rom-com spawn!)


After a day of shopping at the mart (which if you’ve never been, is the Korean equivalent of Target on steroids, complete with be-gloved attendees every five feet), Kae-in and Jin-ho return home with all of their couple-centric purchases: matching cups, dishes, and most importantly, toothbrushes. We’ve all been there…the moment when you get to put your very own toothbrush in your significant other’s bathroom. It’s like material evidence that you have a place in their world. While this is hardly Jin-ho’s first toothbrush in Sang-go-jae, it’s still a significant moment for them as a couple.

Jin-ho comes into the bathroom to brush his teeth, and Kae-in gets unnecessarily squeamish about him walking right into the bathroom while she’s in there. But the doors and windows are all open! What, are you popping a squat for everyone in the living room to see? He says (informally) it saves time if they get ready together, and Kae-in scoffs that they might as well take showers together then! Hell-o.

Jin-ho doesn’t bat an eyelash as he starts unbuttoning his sweater, like all right, let’s go! Kae-in flees the bathroom, as Jin-ho muses to himself that he’s become very brave, and then he showers…alone. What were YOU expecting? This is television, people! Get a grip!

They eat breakfast and Kae-in tries to sneak off, but Jin-ho stops her…and makes her do the dishes. Listen, I’m all for sharing the chores, and if someone makes me dinner, I’ll be the first to offer dishes in return. But Jeon Jin-ho, if you say one word about her needing to learn how to keep a house because she’s a woman, I will reach right in there and smack you to high heaven.

Young-sun calls, and Kae-in whines that Jin-ho has changed. He’s sneaking banmal (informal speech) in here and there, and today he made her do the dishes. Young-sun tells her to keep her wits about her…this is classic taming-my-woman territory. Kae-in bolts up—what new nefarious plotting is this? Young-sun tells her to be careful because once you give in, you spend the rest of your life boxed in. Kae-in nods, wheels turning in her head. She gets it now—it’s a game. The hilarious thing is that now she’s good at games because Jin-ho taught her so well.

Jin-ho wants to wash their linens next (which he at least wants to do together instead of supervising, like he did with the dishes), but Kae-in tries to resist giving in. He knows her weakness though, and taunts her with a delicious lunch (or lack thereof) to reel her in. Withholding food! Devilish. She caves, of course.

They basically shoot a detergent CF, doing their laundry in a park (?) and lounging for a while as their sheets dry in the sun. Who does their laundry in a…okay, whatever. Shutting off my brain.

They nap on a park bench, and Kae-in stares lovingly at sleeping Jin-ho’s face, wondering out loud why she’s nervous, when it’s a face she sees every day. The way she looks at him is so full of love and wonder. She can convey such an innocence and charm while not coming across as childish.

Jin-ho gets a call from In-hee, which she sees but doesn’t answer. Kae-in: “Jin-ho-sshi, you’re not going to go anywhere and leave me all alone, right?” And she leans down to kiss him on the forehead. Jin-ho smiles, ever so slightly, indicating that he’s been awake the whole time.

He carries her into her room (all the way from the park?), and tucks her into bed ever so sweetly. He works for a while on restoring the basement, and when Kae-in wakes up, she’s surprised to find him coming out from there. He lies that he heard a mouse, prompting a Defcon-1 freakout from Kae-in, where she literally jumps into his arms in fright. Okay, really? Even Jin-ho laughs at her, thinking she’s just using the mouse as an excuse to get all snuggly.

Kae-in doesn’t register the snark because she’s actually afraid, insisting on going to get a cat right away. Okay, how cute is it that when faced with a mouse, her first instinct is to go buy a cat? I love her. Jin-ho uses it as an excuse to keep her out of the basement, and says he’ll take care of the mouse tomorrow.

Chang-ryul and his team are hard at work on a Sang-go-jae concept for Dahm, and they’ve located a contractor from Sang-go-jae’s original build to answer questions about its design. Chang-ryul gets interrupted by a visit from In-hee, who I suspect is bored because she’s got no one else to mess with.

She slides him an envelope with the names of the judges who will decide the fate of the Dahm project, adding that there will be a special guest judge. Chang-ryul sits up, then thinks better of it and declines the offer. Both In-hee and I are impressed, and In-hee even goes so far as to wonder why he didn’t show this side of himself when they were together. She muses bitterly that love must have changed him. Yeah, it did, and while before I would’ve wished you two live unhappily undead lives ever after, now I’ve determined that he’s too good for you.

Jin-ho gets a drunk dial from Mom, so he leaves to go check on her, but she’s already asleep, so he gets a mouthful from Hye-mi instead. (Weren’t you packed and ready to go to Canada? Please go.) Kae-in worries, but decides she has to trust Jin-ho’s words that he will earn his mother’s acceptance properly.

Once he returns home, Kae-in calls him and they chat over the phone even though they could probably hear each other through the paper walls just fine. Kae-in offers to try and talk to Jin-ho’s mom, and keep trying, whether it takes one, two, ten, or twenty times. But Jin-ho wants to work this out without hurting either of them, and asks for her patience. She defers, which I think is the smart thing to do, since he’s the one stuck in the middle of this.

Jin-ho sings her a children’s song about a bear family to lift her spirits, which jars her memory for a second, but she doesn’t remember anything beyond the song. She requests more singing, and he dutifully sings to her until she falls asleep. Aw.

The next morning he complains that she didn’t tell him that she’d fallen asleep, leading to his singing himself hoarse all night. Heh. Kae-in’s like, duh, how could a sleeping person tell you she’s asleep?

On their way to work, Kae-in attaches a sticker picture of the two of them on Jin-ho’s phone, from the day she masqueraded as a man. She tells him never to take it off, and although he calls it childish, he agrees, smiling all the while. This is such a prime example of how in some ways, we all revert back to high school when we enter new relationships. It’s all about proving that you’re important to each other, with the little things.

While Jin-ho’s late to work from dropping Kae-in off, Sang-jun fields a visit from Jin-ho’s mom. She asks him about Kae-in making things difficult for Jin-ho, and decides to meet with her…until Sang-jun begs her to wait because Kae-in is so crucial to their current project. Without giving away why she’s the linchpin (which would take two hours and a flowchart to explain anyway), he asks her to let them handle it.

At work, Kae-in scrolls through pictures of sleeping Jin-ho’s face on her phone, just as In-hee walks in. For someone who’s supposedly so above it all, you sure do spend a lot of time orbiting your ex-friends. I suspect if you hadn’t traded your heart on the black market in exchange for fabulous shoes, you might be a lonely soul in desperate need of friends.

In-hee calls her childish, and Kae-in just sighs, “To someone who calculates love like you do, I’m sure it looks childish.” I love that the more confidence Kae-in has, the more petulant In-hee appears. The mean girl does kind of get de-fanged if nobody cares what she says anymore.

In-hee slyly asks if Jin-ho’s mom likes her, and Kae-in lies that she does, because dude, how is that any of your beeswax? In-hee tries to plant some seeds of doubt, asking why Kae-in hasn’t considered that Jin-ho is using her. Kae-in doesn’t see why he would (thinking that there’s nothing to be gained by it), and then says it doesn’t matter even if he did.

She smiles sadly, saying: “I used to be really envious of my friend Kim In-hee, the girl who was always brave and knew how to love herself first. But now, the woman who doesn’t think twice about hurting other people with her actions…I feel sorry for her.” In-hee takes it as a threat, replying pointedly that she’ll come to eat her words. But Kae-in looks at her with pained eyes: “It’s not a threat. It’s my last…sincere wish for you. If you go on like this, in the end no one will be beside you.”

While their friendship (or the memory of it) has always seemed one-sided to me, in this conversation it starts to feel for the first time like they’ve both lost something in the fallout. I can picture how at one point in their lives they could have complemented each other, albeit in an unhealthy, codependent kind of way. And the sad truth is that In-hee lost the only person who would ever love her for who she is by trolloping all over her best friend’s boyfriend. Poor you, indeed. If you hadn’t sold your human decency for a distractingly large pair of earrings, I’d probably care a little more.

Sang-jun walks into Jin-ho’s office, unnecessarily adding pressure for him to come up with a design concept. Without giving away his meeting with Mom, he adds that Jin-ho will have to teach Kae-in some basic cooking and cleaning, if he’s going to gain Mom’s approval. What in the what, now? Where do I even begin with that statement? You want Jin-ho to teach her how to be a proper woman, by way of COOKING and CLEANING?! Sang-jun, it was nice while it lasted, but I’m totally breaking up with you. Don’t bother speaking for the rest of the episode. I won’t be recapping your scenes. And don’t call me unni. Don’t even try to win me back!

Everyone converges at the gallery, where registration for the design competition is underway. Scarface drops Professor Park’s name in front of Do-bin, angling for some favor, but Do-bin makes excuses to get away as fast as he can. Pinky and the Brain have a quick pow-wow, where In-hee informs Chang-ryul that the special guest judge? Is none other than Professor Park. How would he feel if he found out that Jin-ho used his own daughter to get inside Sang-go-jae and win the competition?

Kae-in walks Jin-ho out to his car, hand-in-hand. He tells her to take a good look at his face, since he won’t be home for a while. He informs her that the project will be taking up all his time, so they won’t be seeing much of each other until it’s over. Kae-in’s like, not even to see ME?

He sweetly caresses her face, then breaks the moment by mussing up her hair. He walks away, and then turns back to shout: “Ya (hey) Park Kae-in!” She looks up in shock at his first informal calling of her name (at least while she’s conscious). Jin-ho: “If you stray because I’m not around, you’re dead!” Haha. Yay! The informality has begun!

Jin-ho returns to his office, only to find that they’re being kicked out of the building just when they need to spend night and day working. Chang-ryul starts a meeting in a massive boardroom, confidence surging that the real work is just beginning, but the fight is theirs to win. Across town, Jin-ho and team move into their new digs, a tiny low-rent office that puts the boys in a funk. But Jin-ho chides them for being down, since they started with even less than this, and will work to see better days. I like that they’re even more of an underdog team than before; it’ll make their success all the more delicious when it’s won. Hey, Red Pants! How’d you get in there? I’m still ignoring you! Move along.

Later that night over the phone, Kae-in offers to come by the office tomorrow with lunch for Jin-ho and the crew, which she claims is because she wants to cheer them on, and has nothing whatsoever to do with seeing his face. Nope. Not at all. Jin-ho tells her that not coming by would be more helpful: “If I see your face, I don’t think I’ll be able to work. If I see your face I’ll want to be with you. And if I’m with you, I won’t want to let you go.” Gah! Why so cute?

Later Jin-ho pores over Professor Park’s blueprints of the imagined Sang-go-jae, which honestly seems strange to me in design. It’s a fusion of han-ok and modern architecture, to be sure, and perhaps the drawing doesn’t do the concept justice, but that concept materialized as an actual structure would just look odd to me. Perhaps I am architecturally unenlightened. Either way, I hope that Jin-ho garners nothing more than inspiration from the blueprints, because narratively, as far as heroes go, it would ring false if he won based on a concept not entirely his.

Do-bin comes by for a chat and finds Kae-in sighing from the lack of Jin-ho in her life. She sweetly chides Do-bin for being the bad guy, keeping Jin-ho so busy on the Dahm project that he has no time to see her. Do-bin apologizes for the grave sin of making them star-crossed, offering to call Jin-ho with a fakeout emergency that she got hurt at work. Dude, already been there. Any other ideas?

Kae-in laughs heartily at the gesture of friendship, and Do-bin encourages her to smile. She tells him that at times he feels safe and supportive, like a father. He asks about her father, and why he’s decided to return to Korea. Kae-in: “My father has never once explained a reason for anything to me…whether he’s coming or going.” It’s so sad that she’s got such a massive hole in her heart because of her dad, but has never been angry enough to confront the issue with him. The look on Do-bin’s face is that of understanding and empathy—he’s well versed in estranged-daddy issues himself, as we all know. Kae-in laughs it off, but he can see that they share a deep-seated heartache in the family arena.

Jin-ho takes a break from his all-consuming work to finish up the basement for Kae-in. He has a new glass ceiling/floor installed (bad idea, bad idea…) and calls Kae-in to come see him at home for a surprise. By accident, he drops the one surviving picture of Kae-in and her mom, shattering the glass inside the frame. Symbolism! Meet Portent!

Professor Park finally makes an appearance (at least his eyes, mouth, and back…I’m hoping that the parts add up to a whole man), shrouded in mystery as ever. Scarface and Chang-ryul arrive at the airport to try and intercept him, but can’t manage to locate the man, for lack of up-to-date photos. Who IS this guy, the freakin Unabomber? What kind of college professor lives in such secrecy?

He makes a call to Do-bin, and then one to Sang-go-jae, but no one picks up…

Kae-in comes home to an empty house, wondering where Jin-ho went. He’s on his way back to the house, after getting the picture re-framed. He-who-shall-not-be-named calls to ask about some old blueprints from the office, and while digging around, discovers Jin-ho’s hidden Sang-go-jae blueprints.

Kae-in finds the living room rearranged, and discovers the glass floor underneath the rug. She begins to remember something, and decides to go down into the basement. She gets flashes of being above her mother while she worked, and runs back up in fear.

Just then, Jin-ho’s mom shows up to the house, after having heard from Hye-mi that Jin-ho had to move offices. This is the worst timing ever. Jin-ho’s mom asks to talk, and while she says all the typical mom things you’d expect, Kae-in hears none of it because the memories are starting to flood back. It’s clever because it’s as jarring and tense for us as it is for her, hearing this woman speak but not registering any of it.

Kae-in starts to go numb as she remembers knocking on the glass to get her mother’s attention, and then when that didn’t work…

She grabbed a small free weight to tap on the glass…

…shattering it directly above her. Kae-in goes practically catatonic from the shock, which Jin-ho’s mom thinks is a reaction to her request for her to stop seeing Jin-ho, and leaves. Professor Park walks in as Jin-ho’s mom leaves, and comes upon Kae-in trembling and utterly broken.

She stands, shaking from her core, as she finally confronts her father.

Kae-in: Was that why? Was that why you hated me so much? When I was young I was sad every single day, wondering why you disliked me, why you hated me so. If it were me I would have felt the same…because I’m the daughter who killed her own mother.

Dad, shocked, asks: “Kae-in ah, what are you talking about?!” She breaks down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably.

In walks Jin-ho: “Kae-in ah!”

Woo! The angst has finally arrived. That’s two weeks in a row where we’ve ended with Jin-ho calling out “Kae-in ah,” and I do so love how their relationship is progressing and the way it’s shown through those moments of heightened drama. I’m certain Jin-ho’s about to do something very heroic here too, and it’s going to be nothing more than simply being there for her in every way, which is the best kind of heroism.

We’ve spent a LOT of time in the cute and fun territory, so I’m chomping at the bit for some angst. Honestly, I could have used some revelations and ensuing drama in the last episode, so that it doesn’t have to be one giant truckload of beans spilled in the next one, but…

We’re poised for some great unraveling come next week, and I’m glad that the story has upped the ante instead of winding down. I love going into the last two with things unfurling so fast that you feel like you can’t keep it from falling apart. With the walls coming down around them, our couple still has a lot of storm to weather, but I wouldn’t have it any other way going into the final stretch.


92 May 20, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 15

by javabeans

You know how there are a zillion and one romantic comedies out there, and some of the better offerings have started to get pretty creative with the meet-cute scenarios? The old standbys have gotten stale (for example, a pratfall lands one directly into the arms of the other, or a man and a woman crash into each other and pick up the other person’s cell phone, or they have a one-night stand only to realize one is the other’s new boss), but there are still ways writers have managed to wring more mileage out of the plot device. Like a guy hearing a girl sobbing in the bathroom after she is dumped… only to tell her to get out of the men’s room. Or the girl trips and falls on top of him… then vomits in his mouth. And so on.

Anyway, point being: I really wish writers would expend as much energy being as creative with the inevitable breakup scenes. Because this episode is pretty much one big pile of Predictable. The acting is good and the reasoning actually holds up in context of our story — it’s just that we don’t get a single twist or curveball here, which makes for an episode that is necessary but really just makes you want to get on to the next one, already. (Arg! Am pre-emptively jealous of girlfriday.)


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Titled “Trying to Erase You,” Episode 15 kicks off as Jin-ho walks in just as Kae-in is having a major meltdown over her recovered memories. Jin-ho introduces himself to her father, but it doesn’t really mean much to Professor Park, who has bigger worries. Namely Kae-in, whose legs give out as she says brokenly, “I… remember everything.”

Dad kneels and assures her that it was just a nightmare. But it’s too late, and the memory is back in full force. Now Dad sees the framed photo, which Jin-ho had so thoughtfully gotten reframed, and asks where that came from. The truth dawns on him, and he asks if the basement has been opened with a horror that seems more appropriate if he’d been hiding dead bodies down there like something out of a trashy gothic horror novel.

(Speaking of which, this whole “Let’s convince my daughter that her traumatic past never happened” totally reminds me of this V.C. Andrews novel I sneak-read at the library in junior high, not that I’m proud of it, but we all have our lapses in good taste so don’t judge me, okay? Anyway, it was creepy in My Sweet Audrina and it is ever so slightly hinting at creepy here.)

I don’t mean that Professor Park is a creepy person, and it’s like he’s trying to make himself forget the past, which I can understand on a human level — it’s just twisted to continue in that line of thinking when your self-delusion requires you to actually alter the memories of your child. Even if you argue the “it’s for your own good” defense, which is sort of a cop-out since it’s just as much for Park as it is for Kae-in’s benefit.

Jin-ho confirms that Pandora’s box the basement has been opened, and can sense that this is an upsetting answer though he doesn’t know why. Sure enough, Dad blows up at him for being so presumptuous and orders Jin-ho out of the house immediately.

Dad looks around the underground workshop, which Jin-ho has so carefully cleaned out and restored. How sad that this should be the way his efforts are received.

At her mother’s gravesite, Kae-in tells Jin-ho that her mother died trying to save her. She’d wondered all along why her father hated her, but now she understands. She doesn’t blame him, because she wouldn’t have wanted to see a daughter like her, either. Aw, somebody give the poor girl a hug!

Thankfully Jin-ho’s there to do just that.

I’m thinkin’ Sang-jun must’ve taken girlfriday’s breakup pretty hard, ’cause he’s left the fan-friendly zone of being the sassy fake-gay best friend and charged headlong into self-destructive territory by pissing us all off with some plot-dictated idiocy.

Namely: The worker who is suing their company is demanding 200 million won, and this adds pressure to their already precarious situation. So Sang-jun makes a copy of the blueprints he found in Jin-ho’s office (calling them his “spade ace hidden card,” hurrah for mangled English malapropisms), and feels that this is their only hope for survival.

Sang-jun is clearly wearing his bad idea pants today, as he takes the blueprints to Do-bin’s office (uh-oh…), presenting them as the plans that his office has been working on (oh crap…). He asks for Do-bin’s opinion on the plans, saying that if they had his input they might have a better chance of succeeding. He knows this is breaking the rules, but they really could use the help. Do-bin is skeptical, knowing Jin-ho’s strictly principled attitude, and asks if he knows about this. Sang-jun assures him that Jin-ho does (threat level orange…).

Do-bin hands back the documents, but Sang-jun begs, as their office is facing a lot of difficulty. Please help!

When Jin-ho drops Kae-in off at home, he tells her that he doesn’t know what to say, but asks her to remember that he’ll always be with her. He concedes that his words must not be much comfort to her, but Kae-in tells him that “it’s everything to me.”

Dad sighs in disappointment that Kae-in has been living with Jin-ho, because he di’n’t raise no ho. (Well, that last part is implied.) He tells her that they’ll “talk about it later” — words that always made my stomach drop whenever a parent said them to me — and says that he has blocked off the basement, because covering over a problem always fixes it, don’tcha know? Kae-in says as much, answering that you can’t make something un-happen, and breaks down once she’s alone in the safety of her room.

Level Orange gets bumped up to Red Alert the next day when Professor Park meets with Do-bin, who thanks him for agreeing to judge the project. In fact, Do-bin has a particular set of blueprints he’d like to show him, and hands them over. (Yeeaaargh… all hands on deck!) Naturally, the professor recognizes the work as his own, but he doesn’t get a chance to ask about them until a little later, after Kae-in enters, invited by Do-bin to join the two men for lunch.

Do-bin has done this to play up Jin-ho’s talents (so sweet, yet so very unhelpful, as this is just going to backfire massively on him), and talks very positively about him, but none of this makes any difference because the instant Park hears the name, he knows what’s going on.

At this very moment, Sang-jun tells Jin-ho that he showed the blueprints to Do-bin for advice, and to cut him some slack, he thought they were Jin-ho’s designs. (Thus he wasn’t trying to plagiarize designs; he was just asking for advice.) Jin-ho races to the museum immediately to retrieve the documents.

Ah, but timing is not on his side and he’s too late. When he steps inside Do-bin’s office, Park glares at him and demands to know if these are his copies. Jin-ho can’t do anything but hang his head in shame while Park says that these are his designs for a Dahm museum project from thirty years ago. Did he move in to the Sanggojae with the intention of stealing them? Was it fun playing with his daughter’s heart too?

Kae-in watches in confusion as Jin-ho says that he didn’t mean to steal them, but that his feelings for Kae-in are genuine. Park scoffs at the idea of this thief asking him to trust him, and storms out.

Jin-ho follows him out and calls him “Father” — which, ouch, majorly bad call there, buddy. On the other hand, it does show how seriously he thinks of Kae-in because the sane thing to do is remain his respectful distance, so aligning himself as Kae-in’s man demonstrates where his priority is. For now, at least, before the Guilt Monster eats up his common sense.

Jin-ho asks Professor Park for a moment to explain, but now the man turns his anger to Kae-in, saying she’s a fool for trusting anyone. She protests (a little uncertainly) that his accusation’s not true, still wanting to think the best of this situation, and looks to Jin-ho for confirmation.

After a few stoic moments, Jin-ho answers, “Yes, you’re right.” When he first moved in, he did consider that he might be able to learn something, because he’d heard that Sanggojae was the concept for the Dahm project. However, he gave up those thoughts when he fell for Kae-in.

Dad’s not having it, and leaves in a huff. Now Kae-in asks haltingly if Jin-ho really moved in because of the project.

Jin-ho apologizes, and starts to say he was going to explain it to her, but she cuts him off: “When? After you won the project? Using blueprints you stole from my father?”

He tries to defend his motives, saying that she’s got the wrong idea, but she feels betrayed and isn’t in the mood to give him the benefit of the doubt. That means he decided from the very start to use her, doesn’t it?

Sang-jun runs to the museum to right his wrong, wanting to explain that he had really thought they were Jin-ho’s blueprints — he wasn’t trying to take credit for someone else’s work. But after being kicked to the curb by Kae-in, Jin-ho is defeated and tells him no. This was all his wrongdoing to begin with.

And why is In-hee there? Because the actress needs screentime despite an increasingly irrelevant character? Because In-hee has a built-in chip that tracks down people in pain and came to feed off their misery?

In-hee never met a story of someone’s anguish that she didn’t thrive off of, so she calls Chang-ryul to congratulate him. It’s like they don’t even have to be her own victories anymore in order for her to gloat. Just a person being in pain is enough for her to get a kick out of it. It’s like she’s somehow mentally attuned to all the badness in the world, like some kind of… all-powerful… Devil-Robot. Beep boop muahaha.

In-hee says that Jin-ho will now lose Do-bin’s trust, and Professor Park is spitting mad at him. Chang-ryul is incredulous, not expecting this of Jin-ho.

Dad barks at Kae-in to get Jin-ho’s room cleared out, threatening to do it if she doesn’t. She agrees to do it herself, but tells her father that if she weren’t his daughter, she wouldn’t have had any right to receive love from anyone. Which… is a really sad sentiment, and not one I’m all that pleased about, because it makes it seem like she has such low self-esteem that she believes Jin-ho would never have fallen in love with her if she hadn’t been Professor Park’s daughter.

The non-cynical interpretation of this is that Jin-ho did love her for real, but would never have gotten to that point had he not been motivated to move in because of the Dahm project. The cynical-er way to read it is that both he and Chang-ryul used her, but she wouldn’t have even had that much if not for her parentage. The reason I don’t feel happy to hear this is that Kae-in has made such big strides over the course of this drama in viewing herself with self-worth that I hate seeing her retreat to this sort of thinking. Kae-in! You are a beautiful person! You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you!

Kae-in calls Jin-ho, who sees the call but doesn’t answer it because he figures there’s nothing he could say.

To his credit, Sang-jun takes responsibility for the mess, saying that it was all because of him that Jin-ho moved into the Sanggojae and dragged on the gay lie. Jin-ho says that no matter what Sang-jun did, he still caused all this, and making excuses now doesn’t erase what he did. Why is it guys always take responsibility for crap when it’s too late to make a difference? How ’bout you actually take a risk by doing the right thing when you still have something to lose, and not just because you’ve hit rock bottom, yeah?

Even so, Sang-jun urges Jin-ho to at least clear his name of the accusations for which he is not guilty.

Scarface makes another unannounced visit to Sanggojae, and really, I don’t think we needed some faulty window-floor to tell us that this design is severely flawed when there is no such thing as a lock on the door. For a dude who has been terribly secretive about this house for the last 30 years, you’d think he’d have implemented some security measures.

Chang-ryul talks to Kae-in, sighing about Jin-ho, “And I warned him to stop seeing you.” This strikes Kae-in as odd — so does this mean Chang-ryul knew about Jin-ho’s reasons for moving in? He answers that he didn’t want her to get hurt and reminds her of Jin-ho’s transgressions to urge her away from trusting him again. But Kae-in retorts that he’s the same — he started dating her again on his father’s orders because of the Dahm project. Chang-ryul feels wrongfully accused (and I think we can safely establish that he did care for her genuinely), but she tells him bitterly, “You’re all the same.”

Scarface pretty much has no shame, foisting himself upon the professor like this, acting like they’re great friends when in fact the latter’s first words were “Who… are you?” Scarface wastes no time badmouthing Jin-ho, describing him as a man with a grudge who went after Kae-in knowing that she and Chang-ryul were seeing each other.

Dad asks what her relationship with Chang-ryul is, and gets Chang-ryul’s answer that although they had been dating, he screwed up and they ended up breaking up. It’s a pretty mature response, but Scarface can’t leave that alone and tries to spin it in their favor, saying that even after being dumped, his Dear Son continued to ask her to come back and even bought a bunch of her furniture, and… uh… oh…

Kae-in hadn’t known this, having believed she sold that furniture order on her own merit. Chang-ryul tells her not to get upset, as though his gesture didn’t suggest that he basically didn’t have faith in her ability and had to help her out like she’s some sort of charity case.

Jin-ho sits in his car outside the house, and of COURSE he must see the Hans leaving the house just as he’s contemplating trying to clear his name of the false charges. He hears Professor Park asking Chang-ryul if he’s sincere about his daughter. Chang-ryul answers yes — he has hurt her a lot so she isn’t ready to accept him, but he can wait.

Park likes his respectful address and shakes his hand, while Chang-ryul promises to do his best. Jin-ho drives away.

Dad likes Chang-ryul, especially compared to the guy who stole his designs. Kae-in doesn’t want to talk about him and sticks to her faith that there must have been some misunderstanding about Jin-ho’s deception. Plus, Dad doesn’t know how badly Chang-ryul hurt her, or how Jin-ho helped her through it.

However, Dad argues that if she’s right, Jin-ho should have come by to argue his case. Yes, perhaps if the bad timing fairy weren’t working overtime today.

Kae-in says sadly, “You asked for a talk, but in the end you don’t listen to me at all. And you don’t trust me.” She then sits and waits for Jin-ho to call, expecting and hoping for an explanation. Instead it’s Young-sun who calls, having heard everything from Sang-jun. Jin-ho hadn’t stolen the blueprints, and Sang-jun made merely a mistake and took them to Do-bin. Kae-in counters that it’s still true he came to live with her under false pretenses.

Jin-ho goes to his father’s burial vault, where he confesses that he must really be pathetic, and his father must want to scold him: “But Father, there’s nothing I can do for her. I shamed her in front of her father when her only wish was to receive recognition from him.”

Kae-in leaves a voicemail message with Jin-ho, saying she’ll wait for him at the cafe. She’s there all night, diligently waiting while Jin-ho sits in his car watching her. Finally she sees him, relieved that he showed up after all.

Her tone is vastly different from the last time they’d seen each other; she tells him that she had been so angry she’d decided not to see him anymore, but she can’t really do that. She’s decided not to believe anything until he explains. Yet Jin-ho remains stubbornly silent — why won’t you speak? Unless you’re thinking you’re not fit to wipe the floor she walks on (which, okay, is true), you’d better start speaking!

Kae-in gives him an easy out, wanting him to tell her that this was all Sang-jun’s doing. Jin-ho is in full self-loathing mode and tells her, “I did it all.” That’s why he moved in, pretended to be gay, and took her father’s blueprints. Agh, now he’s doing that stupidly noble thing by making himself the bad guy… to spare her the indignity… of liking a guy so unworthy… or something? I’m sure it makes sense TO HIM.

Being purposely harsh, Jin-ho tells her that she’s foolish for having faith in him after he used her: “Do you think I’d like a woman that ridiculous?”

Kae-in doesn’t believe him and counters, “But you love me. That’s why you looked at me like that, and felt so pained because of me, and held me.” He returns, “I acted like I was in love, to succeed no matter what.” The only reason he’s telling her the “truth” now is because while she was easy to fool, her father is not quite so stupid.

Note that he’s finally talking to her (full-on, not switching back and forth) in the informal banmal speech — and while banmal is used between people who are close, it’s also used to be insulting. So he finally uses it with her, only it’s not to be close to her but to hurt her. (Granted, he’s doing it “for her own good” in the long run, but still, hurting is hurting.)

Kae-in knows he’s being mean on purpose and pleads with him to ask for her forgiveness, but he says he’s not sorry for anything, “So don’t show up in front of me ever again.”

Oh, you stupid stubborn idiot with your stupid stubborn fixation with self-sacrifice. Korean dramas, you do kill me so.

Jin-ho drives away vowing, “I won’t love Park Kae-in. I don’t love her.”

Jin-ho moves back home and tells his mother that he broke up with Kae-in, and she’s relieved. Kae-in goes home to tell her father the same, then cries in her room.

Do-bin can sense Kae-in’s mood and sees that she’s faking her chipper attitude over lunch. He invites her to confide in him about Jin-ho, to which she answers that Jin-ho copped to everything, and said he never loved her.

Do-bin doesn’t believe this, and points out that he gave up the gay act when it would have been better for him to keep faking it. But when he rejected Do-bin, he had explained that it was because he loved Kae-in. Therefore, can’t she tell how he really feels from the look in his eyes rather than from his words?

Sang-jun’s shocked that Jin-ho broke things off, but Jin-ho puts on his professional front and gets right back to work. He’s not giving up on the Dahm project, and gets busy designing.

Finally, the day arrives when applications open for participants, and Jin-ho files theirs. Do-bin sees their form in the in-box and sends In-hee to bring Jin-ho in for a talk.

Basically, everybody knows that Jin-ho is lying about not loving Kae-in, and in this conversation, he doesn’t even go out of his way to assert that it’s true. He just says that this is as much as he could do in this situation. What difference do his feelings make now?

Do-bin has decided to trust Jin-ho one more time, but it’s like Jin-ho hates himself so much he can’t stand to have others cutting him a break, and he answers that he’d mis-buttoned the first button at the start, which is why it should be no surprise that the bottom ones are all messed up. Essentially he’s in this “what else do I deserve” shame spiral, and he may as well just accept all the bad rather than trying to earn forgiveness that he doesn’t feel he deserves. Do-bin, however, points out wisely that he could just fix the wrong button. Smart, smart man. Listen to him!

Even Young-sun says that Kae-in should forgive Jin-ho now because it’s so obvious that he loves her, but Kae-in says everything is over.

Young-sun tries to ease into the topic, but Kae-in’s not having it — she doesn’t want to discuss him anymore, because it’s too painful to talk about. With that, she falls asleep at the table, having been knocked out cold from what appears to be a half-pint of beer. C’mon, this is the girl who knocked back two bottles of soju! I am disappointed in you, Park Kae-in.

Jin-ho finds himself back at the Sanggojae, watching the front door. He’s rescued from being (even more of) a creepy stalker by Young-sun, who calls him to let him know that Kae-in is passed out at the bar. He declines to come get her, but Young-sun says she’s got to leave, so if he wants to leave her unconscious here, it’s his call.

Of course this brings him to the bar, where he watches her sleeping for a moment. When she starts to lean off the table, he grabs her to keep her from falling, and this wakes her up.

Registering Jin-ho’s presence, Kae-in decides she’d rather not see him right now, and gets up unsteadily to leave. He follows her out and tries to stop her, whereupon she shakes off his arm angrily. Why is he even here? They’re over now!

Jin-ho doesn’t know why he came — he only knows that when Young-sun called, he found himself coming straight over. Kneeling in front of her, he tells her to climb on his back so he can carry her home. Kae-in is still hurting from his rejection and asks if he thinks she’s that easy, to come at his beck and call. “You’re really the worst. I should never have met a guy like you. But I met you and everything became ruined.”

She refuses to get on his back but he kneels a second time, more insistent. When she doesn’t, Jin-ho grabs her onto his back and starts walking anyway, and let’s just say that’s ONE way to flout the piggyback-as-romantic convention!

By the time they get to her neighborhood, they’re both quiet, his steps slow and steady. Kae-in narrates:

Kae-in: “After our separation, the once-clear skies have filled with torrents of rain. The tornado I see in my heart has made a mess of everything. But still, his back is quite warm. Now I won’t have a reason to be carried on this back anymore, will I?”

It’s a nice contrast to the first time Jin-ho carried her on his back, when she was the one who insisted and he only complied grudgingly. She’d been singing and happy then, the attraction just budding.

When he brings her inside, Professor Park waits like an angry dad two hours past curfew on prom night. Immediately, Kae-in jumps off Jin-ho’s back and to her feet.

When he asks if they were drinking together all night, Kae-in says no, but Dad scolds her anyway, taking her to task for being so foolish and trusting. Jin-ho doesn’t like seeing Kae-in treated like this and his face hardens, but Kae-in keeps her head bowed penitently and apologizes.

Finally, Jin-ho has to speak up and defends Kae-in — she did nothing wrong. Why must she apologize when it was Jin-ho who wronged them? Although he has done nothing worth bragging about, Kae-in did nothing but to trust and love him. Does Professor Park even know how hard she has worked to gain his approval?

Not surprisingly, Dad is not impressed with this display of gallantry and is offended to have this stranger butting in. Jin-ho agrees that this isn’t his place, “But I’m so angry I can’t help it.” He tells Park how Kae-in was so hurt after realizing the truth about her mother that she’d acted like she was a criminal, saying that her father would hate her for killing her mother. Jin-ho asks, “She’s your daughter. Why do you make her feel like a criminal?”

Professor Park has had enough of the upstart lecturing him and yells, “What do you know?!” Jin-ho answers, “As I see it, it appears that you have turned your own guilt back onto your daughter.”

Park slaps Jin-ho and calls him arrogant. How dare he! Go!

But Jin-ho isn’t done: “The reason you rejected the Dahm Museum project was because the Sanggojae was a failed project, wasn’t it?”

That actually makes Professor Park turn back, startled. And Jin-ho presses, “Isn’t that true?”


I find the title more interesting than usual — the other titles haven’t struck me as that significant, but it’s ironic that this one should be called “Trying to Erase You” when Kae-in has just come into possession of an erased memory. And we saw how much good that repression did her (as in, none). Clearly this is not a winning strategy, which would be evident even if we weren’t one episode from the end.

Like I said, the acting’s pretty good in this episode, with Sohn Ye-jin brilliantly capturing Kae-in’s broken, angry uncertainty and Lee Min-ho repressing Jin-ho’s love with his overwhelming guilt. Kae-in wants to acquit Jin-ho, and she’s all set to do so if only he’d say the word — but how can you acquit someone who refuses to defend himself? This is the eternal problem of dramas like Cinderella’s Sister where the characters are so goddamned NOBLE that nothing ever moves forward. It’s like they think that making a noble sacrifice of themselves will help everyone else, but in fact it just makes everything worse by obscuring the truth. Just be honest and let the chips fall where they may!

But then we’d have no drama, right? It’s just that kdramas have this habit of trotting out the noble martyr in the late episodes, and nothing kills romance faster than a misplaced sense of sacrifice. Well, that and the In-hee Bot. We couldn’t respect Jin-ho if he were a coward, so he must follow this character arc even though lesser mortals like Chang-ryul can beg shamelessly for forgiveness, and sometimes even be granted it. I just wish that there were cleverer ways to deal with this stage of all rom-coms with more narratively interesting plot turns, because we all know the drill, right? The parent puts up fierce resistance until s/he sees his/her child suffering such grave mental anguish at being separated from his/her love that said parent then experiences a change of heart in the eleventh hour, paving the way for sunshine and roses and a happy final 10 minutes in Episode 16, right? We’ve only seen it in, like, every trendy drama ever.


236 May 24, 2010January 24, 2016

Personal Taste: Episode 16 (Final)

by girlfriday

Dear Show,

I really, really wanted to love this finale. So much. But sadly, you ended up being all foreplay, no finish. It was sweet, and fun while it lasted, but I’m not going to call you in the morning. I want to say “It’s not you, it’s me”…but I can’t. ‘Cause it was you. Sigh. We had a flawed beginning, to be sure, but the honeymoon stage was so good, that I overlooked the things you were lacking. Because love is blind. But in the end you couldn’t satisfy me, and you and I both know I have too much self-respect to fake it. So fare thee well, dear Show. And in case you’re going to try and beg for me to reconsider, I’ve written you this letter so you know the reasons why I’m breaking up with you…


We pick up after Jin-ho’s been bitch-slapped by the good professor. Very manly, followed by an even manlier scream. Jin-ho retaliates by telling Kae-in’s daddy outright that his flawed design for Sang-go-jae is the reason it all went south, and worse yet, Kae-in is bearing the brunt of his mistakes as a father. Whoa. You’re probably going to regret that later. [Also, where does all that courage go in, like, two minutes? Did you use it all up here and forget to restock? –javabeans]

Kae-in stops him: “What are you? What are you to me?” He shouts at her, asking how long she’s going to live put down by her father, and as a sinner who killed her mother. Yes, thank you for pointing out her issues, but that’s no way to HELP her deal with them, buddy. She asks again who he is to her, to say those things. That stops him right in his tracks, since he’s the one so dead-set on being the noble bad guy. Idiot. Being noble’s for losers.

She tells him to go, saying she doesn’t want to see his face again. Daddy reiterates the sentiment, and Jin-ho is left alone in the courtyard. He looks sad, but all I can say is: You Did It To Yourself. The final episode is entitled: “Today’s Weather Forecast.” (Kae-in’s previous diary entries were all weather-centric—in Korean the word for “diary” and “weather” are the same, and as a story device they can be seen as both.)

A few days later, Young-sun and Ascot come by (That’s right. Still not calling you by name.) to help Kae-in put the finishing touches on the children’s playroom. They try to suggest she ask for Jin-ho’s help, but she ignores them. Later she comes upon a private conversation, where Ascot relays how dire the situation is at their firm. Young-sun is surprised to know how serious it is, and they both wonder why on earth Jin-ho is being so stubborn when he clearly misses Kae-in and is depressed about the breakup.

Later that night Kae-in falls asleep while working, and Jin-ho comes by to be wistful and sad in her vicinity, but do nothing. Well, he covers her with a sweater, looks at her regretfully, and then leaves. [Funny how “being noble” basically equals passivity in our kdrama heroes, huh? Talk about succumbing to your “destiny” and letting Fate tromp all over your heart like a tap dancer wearing golf cleats. –javabeans]

Here’s what I find so troubling about this very clichéd plot device of the forced separation. Normally I’m okay with it, because it’s a necessary evil. I get that. But in this story, with these characters, it rings false. Why? Because at every other stage in the relationship, they have steadily chosen each other, over everything else. I don’t even think that Kae-in believes that Jin-ho was using her or doesn’t love her. Not for a second. So that leaves Jin-ho, who is choosing not to forgive himself, all of a sudden, for being caught in the lie. Let’s be real. If it was the lie, and not the being-caught-red-handed part, he’d have done this angsty pouty thing weeks ago!

She wakes up to find Chang-ryul there, and asks if he put the sweater on her. He didn’t, but insists on driving her home. Jin-ho, now officially a card-carrying member of Stalkers Anonymous, watches as Kae-in leaves in Chang-ryul’s car. [I find this particularly problematic because this makes Jin-ho into a coward. He loves her, everyone knows he loves her, and he can’t stay away… but then he just lurks like a Peeping Tom needing his next fix. Just keep him away from trench coats and schoolchildren… –jb]

Do-bin asks Professor Park to look over one of the design entries. The professor smiles as he looks it over, then asks whose design it is. It’s Jin-ho’s, of course, which makes the professor not so happy anymore. Meanwhile, Scarface Han meets with MS Group President Choi (Do-bin’s daddy, as you’ll recall), and he announces that Jin-ho’s company is in such dire straits financially that he shouldn’t be allowed to go further in the competition.

Do-bin and the professor overhear this as they wait for President Choi, and when the professor asks what Do-bin wants in regards to showing him Jin-ho’s designs, Do-bin replies that he simply wants the professor to judge him fairly, equal to the other contestants. He adds that if Jin-ho had intended to rip off Sang-go-jae, he wouldn’t have submitted a design like that, and that he never gave the professor any excuses for his actions, even while preparing a new design. While some people would find that noble, personally I think it’s idiotic. Why not explain yourself? [Kdrama Hero Nobility Clause, Article 1.a, I’m guessing –jb] Anyway, Do-bin’s sincere plea gives the professor pause to think.

Jin-ho and Ascot are running out of options as they get turned down for loans from bank after bank. Ascot suggests swallowing their pride and borrowing from Tae-hoon’s dad, but Jin-ho doesn’t seem too keen on the idea. [Because pride > desperation. I think that’s Kdrama Hero Nobility Clause, Article 1.b. –jb] He gets a call from Do-bin, and meets him at the bank. Do-bin offers a loan/investment, which Jin-ho refuses, of course. But Do-bin tells him that without it he won’t get to participate in the final round, since he passed the first round of judging. He convinces him to take the money and not let him down, and Jin-ho finds himself even more indebted to Do-bin.

Do-bin non-sequiturs an offer for Jin-ho to stay at his country villa (convenient plot device), then makes the classic mistake of telling In-hee about it. Really? Are you new? [I mean, I’m sure she came with a tracking device and locator software anyway, but there’s no reason to just hand over the info. Let the robot earn her narrative keep, I say! –jb]

Kae-in’s playroom project is finally complete and it’s time for opening day. Do-bin, Ascot, and even In-hee congratulate her on a job well done. Dad shows up, flowers in hand. They have their first heart-to-heart in well, EVER. Dad realizes that’s he’s been selfish all this time, never considering her feelings over his own. You’re just realizing this now? I know you’re not exactly father of the year, but wowzers, you take indifference to a whole new level.

Kae-in says she understands, since he loved Mom very much. Dad turns to her and says, “I loved you as much as I loved your mother.” [Anyone else find this comment wildly hysterical? That monstrous snort of incredulity sure cleared up my sinuses. –jb] He says that he destroyed the pictures and boarded up the basement so that she wouldn’t remember (yeah, that works so well, usually), and that he got angry at her for taking on her mother’s profession, hurting her hands the same way her mother used to. That implies you had some semblance of a relationship with the adult Kae-in, which has pretty much been proven false up till now, so I think that’s baloney, Dad, but whatever.

She calls him, “Father,” and he takes her hand, musing that her hand used to be so small and it’s gotten so big now. See, that jives better with the absentee father seeking for redemption. Yes, you missed that whole middle where she went from a little girl to a woman. He says, full of meaning, “You’ve worked hard.” It’s as high a sentiment of praise you’re ever going to get from a Korean dad, to whom hard work is tantamount to being a good human being. Kae-in, tears in her eyes, calls him “Appa (Daddy),” and hugs him.

From afar, Jin-ho watches as Kae-in finally reconciles with her father. And honestly, if the father had been introduced earlier in the series or had more depth as a character, I’d probably care a lot more. I know it’s been an important feature of Kae-in’s character to be acknowledged by her father from day one, but because it’s always been a one-way street until the last episode, I’m not as moved as I would like to be. He still has yet to be redeemed from his absenteeism, in my book.

When they get up, Kae-in sees Jin-ho walking away, so she runs after him, calling his phone. She catches up and sees him ignore her call, so she asks why he keeps circling around her and hiding. Good question. Perhaps he’s skipped ahead to the part where you get a restraining order and he has to stay at a certain distance. [And… uh-oh… is that a trench coat he’s sporting? –jb] He denies the accusation, but she knows he did the sweater thing. (Was that really so big a gesture it’s being cited here?)

She calls him a liar, who’s done nothing but lie since the moment he stepped into her life. Can’t argue there. He says as much, agreeing that she’s right: “It’s all a lie. So the fact that I’m here right now…consider that a lie too.” Are you getting metaphysical on us? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you’re standing right there. [It’s a little late for Cartesian philosophy, no? –jb] Or maybe you’re the Ghost of Jin-ho? That would make a lot more sense, actually, since you are nothing like the Jin-ho of episodes past.

He says that things will be easier if they don’t run into each other anymore. That is NEVER true—don’t you watch tv? He says he’ll go pack up his stuff while she’s here, and then they won’t have cause to see each other anymore. Kae-in just watches him go, instead of tearing him a new one for being a giant asshat.

He returns to Sang-go-jae to pack, and takes a peek inside Kae-in’s workroom. The one thing that makes him nostalgic? The chainsaw! Aw, I love their chainsaw memories! I’m glad it made a comeback in the finale, as it was my favorite Object of Meaning between them. Wouldn’t it be funny if this drama, instead of a necklace or a doll, tried to market the chainsaw as Personal Taste memorabilia? That would totally trump some moon-shaped necklace. He spends some quality time with Jin-ho the lion doll, then walks out of Sang-go-jae with heavy steps and tear-filled eyes.

Do-bin congratulates Kae-in on a job well done, and offers one last bit of help—he tells her that Jin-ho is staying at his villa. Kae-in says it doesn’t matter since they broke up, prompting Do-bin to say he’s disappointed in her, since the only reason he gave up Jin-ho so easily was because Kae-in was the one who loved him. Um, wouldn’t Not Gay be, like a little more important than that reason? Okay, to each his own. I won’t tell you not to love Lee Min-ho from afar, as that’s pretty much what most lay people do to get by, gay or straight. [Although, come to think of it, I’d kinda love to see Do-bin pull an In-hee and get all clingy. And then compete with In-hee for the attention of an uninterested Jin-ho. Lulz all around! –jb]

Kae-in and her dad eat apples at home, and while Dad eats them the Korean way (peeled and sliced [courtesy of the woman of the house, natch! –jb]), Kae-in cuts hers down the middle and takes a bite. Dad notes she always ate her apples that way (Really? How come we’re only seeing that now, Show?), and Kae-in says they taste better that way. He asks for the other half, putting down his own boring slice, and gets ready to take a bite…

And then it dawns on him, as he stares at the half apple in his hand. Jin-ho’s Dahm design…that’s why it felt familiar…it was this, half an apple, sliced just like this. Kae-in stares at him, wide-eyed. “Jin-ho’s design concept…wasn’t Sang-go-jae? It was an apple?”

We get flashes of Kae-in presenting Jin-ho with his apology apple, and his new concept based on her gift. Okay, I’ll give you this one, Show. The apple thing is cute. You’re depriving me of my victory lap with “Eye of the Tiger,” which is just a shame for everyone involved, but the apple design is clever and cute, without being saccharine. It’s also a surprise, since who would ever design a building after fruit?

Needless to say, this is The Thing that jolts Kae-in out of her seat and into a cab. She calls Do-bin for the villa address, and heads over, ready to forgive. Go get your man! Even though he should be the one begging you to take him back! But whatever, I’m tired of the noble angst!

Jin-ho stands by the lake in the pouring rain. Are we really going to use EVERY cliché in the book? Don’t answer that. We’re barely halfway through. [Actually, I think we’ve run out and have circled back for a second pass on most of these cliches. –jb] An umbrella shows up behind him, and when he turns around he’s surprised to see In-hee. We’re not.

Inside, Jin-ho is running a fever, which In-hee tries to use as an excuse to stick around, but Jin-ho’s always been consistent when it comes to her—he’s NOT interested, ya hear? He pushes her hand away, saying he’ll go sleep in the car then, if she insists on staying. She looks for medicine, but he tells her it’s not that kind of sickness…it’s heartbreak. And I’m fairly certain that even YOU know that it’s not about you, dear queen of the undead.

But she’s not asking for his heart right away. She’s good with clinging to him even if it’s unwelcome, and she hopes that his annoyance will turn into…some reluctant love/hate. Dude, are you unfamiliar, with like, the meaning of words? How many ways can a man tell you he’s not interested? You used to be hateful but now you’re just really pathetic, and I really didn’t want to end up pitying you. It’s much more fun if you stay heartless.

In-hee finally decides to leave, and Kae-in walks up to the house just as In-hee comes out. She tries to posture that she has a right to take Kae-in’s place, but Kae-in shuts her down cold: “There’s no space for you between Jin-ho and me.” NICE. Hello, Spine. Where have you been? In-hee launches into the heart of the matter…

In-hee: “I absolutely despise you. I hated your nicey nice act from the start. Tell me the truth…you acted like my friend because you felt sorry for me; that’s why you took me in.”
Kae-in: “You were family to me. And I was to you.”
In-hee: “No. I was living off of you, so I pretended to be like family.”
Kae-in: “Every time I got in trouble with Dad, you were there for me. You turned over every trashcan in the house looking for a picture of my mother. That was you.”
In-hee: “It was unbearable pretending to be your family.”
Kae-in: “Don’t lie.”
In-hee: “I’m not lying. I hate you. I hate you to death. I can never have anything. Even if I want it to death, I can never have it. But why do you…get to have everything?”
Kae-in: “I never tried to take anything. You’re really stupid. You’re the only one who doesn’t know…how much you have.”

I know deep down In-hee’s a damaged girl with parental issues and really, really, really low self-esteem. But would it be too much to ask to just let me go on hating her, and her continuing to be a psychotic evil-bot? That would be way more satisfying. That said, the actress is knocking it out of the park, with her hateful words belying an undercurrent of injured pride and weakness.

Kae-in searches for Jin-ho inside, but he’s nowhere to be found. She comes back outside and In-hee is still standing there, perhaps stunned by Kae-in’s unfailing trust that she indeed has a soul… somewhere…deep, deep, way deep down. She tells her that Jin-ho is sick: “Even though I’m right in front of him, he doesn’t see me. He can’t see anything else, and he’s hurting a lot…your Jin-ho-sshi.” Thankfully this is as heartwarming a moment as these two will get. No big reconciliation. This is just her concession that Kae-in has won, and perhaps she never had a place here after all. Epically slow on the uptake, that girl.

Kae-in runs out to the car to get Jin-ho, and sits by his bedside as he stirs awake. Like the giant idiot he is, he turns her away, insisting that he’s fine. This is ridiculous. Now you’re just feeling sorry for yourself. Kae-in says she’s not going to live here; she just wants to make sure he’s okay. But he tells her to leave, unable to bear his guilt and her closeness. She gives up, and stands to go…and Jin-ho grabs her arm. “Don’t go.” Ha. Go! Don’t go! Make up your friggin mind!

Kae-in tells him to let go. Oh not you too! But this time he’s not letting go. He pulls her down onto the bed and hugs her from behind, but it’s totally awkward and passionless. Weird. I think it just feels really staged to me, like the director posed them rather than let them do what people would actually do in that circumstance. [On the upside — how hot is Lee Min-ho in this frame? –jb]

Jin-ho tells her again not to go. Kae-in: “I’m just going to trust you. Even if I get used a hundred, a thousand times, I’m just going to trust you. Even if it’s foolish. That’s the advantage of being Park Kae-in. Even if you use me again, even if I’m sad again, I’m just going to trust you. Because I can’t say goodbye like this.”

The performances in that moment are really quite touching, even Jin-ho’s silent reaction to Kae-in’s monumental forgiveness.

He turns her around for some kissing, of the hot but slow variety. He starts to undress her, but she has a momentary freakout, stopping him. He holds back, letting her make the next move. (Yay.) She gathers her courage, and takes his hand, placing it over her heart.

They make out, (Rawr!) and then the lights go out. (Double Rawr!)

Yes, that was pretty hot, although it would’ve been much hotter if it wasn’t paced so damn slowly. And even if this is being inordinately picky, I really wanted their first time to be in keeping with the tone of the rest of the series. Is it too much to ask for sexy fun times, with meaning, but without the heaviness? [Like with a comic bloody nose or some hilarious flailing of limbs? That would’ve been awesome, as Kim Sam-soon showed us. –jb] I think the heavy sapped some of the fire out of the moment, because to me, it felt like they were making out on a different show. There was so much cute sexual tension built up, and you could’ve capitalized on that, instead of making it all about the break-up/make-up. Not that I’m complaining about any lack of chemistry here. But the way in which it was written into this point in the story, leaves something to be desired.

In the morning they’re back to being their cute selves. You mean if they had slept together sooner, we could’ve been spared the Ghost of Jin-ho in the last two episodes? That just makes me angrier.

Needless to say, when they’re cute, they’re CUTE.

He brings her coffee. Sex AND coffee? Okay, I might be coming back around in the eleventh hour.

Jin-ho tells her he has a wish—to take a time machine ride back to meet five-year old Kae-in, and tell her: “It was just an accident. It’s not your fault. And don’t think that stupid thought of hating yourself.” She tells him she doesn’t need a time machine; she’s got Jin-ho telling her these things now, and that’s enough. Back before you became a noble idiot, I did love that your most fervent wish for Kae-in was always to love herself and think more of who she is and what she’s worth.

They stand outside Sang-go-jae, Kae-in wanting to tell her father everything, while Jin-ho says it isn’t time yet. But Dad comes right up behind them holding hands, so oops…I guess now’s the time after all. Dad sits them down and asks for a proper explanation. Did Jin-ho steal the Sang-go-jae blueprints? Yes, he answers, since his employee did it, it’s the same as doing it himself. What, now? Must you insist on touting your misplaced honor till the very last moment?

Dad softens at the truth that Jin-ho may have come to Sang-go-jae to learn its secrets, but ended up doing his own design in order to become an upright man in Kae-in’s eyes. She smiles to hear him say so. Dad congratulates him on passing the first round of judging, which is news to Kae-in. She and Jin-ho have a couple moment in front of Dad, bickering about why he doesn’t tell her things. She whispers a cute little, “I hate you,” making Dad uncomfortable with their level of closeness. [Okay, that grumpy “I hate you” totally won me over. It’s that kind of adorableness that I’ve been missing! –jb]

He asks Jin-ho, “What do you like about my daughter?” That’s cute, but oddly inconsistent with his character. Why on earth did we have to go through all the histrionics, if you were just going to end up being a big ol softy and asking questions like that? Jin-ho replies that he’s never thought of specific reasons…he just followed his heart and ended up here. You’re leaving out the detour where you followed your noble intentions and subjected us to torture. Don’t think I’ve already forgotten because you’re back to being cute!

Dad asks sternly, “Are you prepared?” Prepared for what? “To drink all night with me?” Aw, dads and alcohol. Korean rituals are sometimes sweet. My dad has had his elaborate drink-interrogation planned for my future so-and-so since I was like, five. [Which totally sounds way more fun than the teetotaling version in my family. See, I think liquor has a way of bringing out more hidden aspects of your personality that you wouldn’t get in a stiff, trying-to-impress-you conversation, so it’s actually got a helpful purpose, and I’m totally not just fumbling for an excuse to justify the drinky, for reals. –jb] Kae-in says Jin-ho can’t because he has to work, prompting Dad to whine that she’s already taking sides. Jin-ho springs right up to go buy some liquor, making Dad break into a smile.

Now that one parent is out of the way, we have to deal with the other. Are we really going to just go down the checklist like this, with no sense of momentum? I guess we are.

Jin-ho’s mom has softened a little now too, since Kae-in is no longer the one indirectly causing Jin-ho’s financial troubles. That’s a superficial reason if there ever was one. What happened to “over my dead body”? Mom still doesn’t like her very much, but Kae-in tells her how envious she was of Jin-ho’s close relationship with his mother, being the kind she had always wished she could have with her own…if she hadn’t died. That’s enough to melt Jin-ho’s mom right then and there. Kae-in says she hopes to be close to her like Jin-ho is, and then Mom invites her over for dinner.

It’s time for the Dahm design competition to pick a winner. Jin-ho and Chang-ryul are the last two standing, of course, Chang-ryul having gone with a han-ok fusion style a la Sang-go-jae. And the winner is…Jin-ho, of course. Not that the outcome was anything but predictable, but they really missed an opportunity to build some tension here. Couldn’t you have borrowed a scene from a workplace drama to make it a nail-biter of a victory? [Nope. No time. Finale’s on a tight schedule here! More loose ends to wrap up. Outta my way, narrative flow and pacing. –jb]

Chang-ryul comes out first, and tells Kae-in that he wanted to fight fairly this time, and lose fairly too, if it came to that. He puts out his hand, saying that it’s a congratulatory handshake, so it’s okay to take. He tells her that Jin-ho won cleanly this time, and Kae-in breaks into a smile. She catches herself and stops, but Chang-ryul says it’s okay to be happy. He says he’s really letting go for good this time, since before he must not have meant it, wanting to believe so badly that Jin-ho was the bad guy.

Jin-ho sees Chang-ryul walk away, and for the first time he’s not in a snit about Kae-in speaking to Chang-ryul. She congratulates him. He thanks her, saying, “You know, right? This project is my apology (apple pun) for all the times I made you cry.” She accepts. I like that the apology apple is given, and then returned, in different forms and on vastly different scales, since Jin-ho’s apology needs to be way bigger than hers.

The crew celebrates their victory with friends and drink, leading to Jin-ho having to carry Kae-in home in his arms. Dad’s been waiting up, and when they arrive, he’s quick to insist that Jin-ho hand Kae-in over to him. Jin-ho’s like, uh…I can handle it…but Dad insists, so he passes her over, which of course breaks Dad’s back. Heh. Dad has to concede and let Jin-ho take her into her room. It’s a sweet way to signify she’s too big for her father’s arms and now it’s Jin-ho’s place to carry her. But it would have had more meaning if Dad were actually one who had been around, and legitimately the carrier of the torch that he’s passing on to Jin-ho. Personally, I think that torch belongs to Young-sun, or Kae-in herself, but whatever.

Jin-ho tucks her into bed ever so sweetly. Dad watches, and asks to have a word with Jin-ho. He says that he’s grateful, and tells him the story behind Sang-go-jae. Thirty years ago, he had been given the Dahm project, and so built Sang-go-jae as a trial, a piece of that larger scale building he had in mind. His wife wanted to be able to watch Kae-in while working, and he wanted a home where his family was always together. (Which still pretty much confirms my theory…maybe I’ll do half a victory lap…)

He says that it was all for naught though, because of his mistake. He admits that maybe that’s why he couldn’t face Kae-in (Finally! Some truth!) He asks Jin-ho to take care of Kae-in, and heads back to the land of absentee fathers, from whence he came. I thought we just established that your daughter was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. But I suppose this is your way of approving of Jin-ho. He even throws in a threat for good measure. Seriously, was it absolutely necessary to bring this guy in for two episodes, just to muck things up in predictable and not even very dramatic ways, only to have him leave again? Gah. Cheerio, old chap! Don’t let the door-that-doesn’t-lock hit you on the way out!

Jin-ho says he’ll guard Kae-in well, and with that, we get a happy couple montage. They buy couple tees (A custom I find strange and off-putting, but I guess that’s what they’re designed to do—put off people who aren’t in your couple.) and go for a tandem bike ride. (Okay, the bike ride looks like a good time.) Kae-in sits on a park bench, and kids come running up to her, one, two, then a whole gaggle of them, each handing her a colorful balloon. If this is going where I think it is, it’s pretty darn adorable, as far as these things go. Jin-ho shows up with the last balloon, saying: “I’m proposing right now.” Um…that’s like saying you’re going to apologize, and then not actually doing it.

Kae-in is so surprised that she lets go of all the balloons, the last of which holds her engagement ring. Cut to Kae-in on Jin-ho’s shoulders, as they argue back and forth about the merits of proposing this way, while trying to retrieve the ring. Aw, cute! See, this is what I love about these two—they’re the cutest when the sweetness is undercut by bumbling comedy and banter. Oh how I’ve missed you! But it’s too late, Show. This last ditch effort just reminds me of the good times, and how long it’s been since we’ve had them.

Jin-ho goes to meet Do-bin, where the latter congratulates him on the engagement. Jin-ho thanks him for all his help. Short of naming your firstborn after him, I’m not sure there’s a way to thank this guy for saving your ass a thousand and one times. Do-bin is sad that if he and Kae-in get married he’ll be lonely with no one to hang out with. Aw, sad. Jin-ho assures him they’ll visit. What are they, moving to the moon? They’re just getting married. It is sad, though, that this does seal the deal in excluding Do-bin from his peripheral position in the love-pentagon.

Do-bin says that he learned a lot from Jin-ho and Kae-in—they inspired him to live his life courageously. What a compliment. They wish each other well and Jin-ho leaves. Do-bin stands in front of the Kandinsky, tears welling in his eyes for just a brief moment. You break my freezer-burned heart, Do-bin. You are the best kind of human being. I will miss your awkward sense of humor and bad jokes, and your sad hopeful eyes. [I receive a teeeeeny bit of consolation in the thought that at least Do-bin is less lonely now than he was before meeting these two, even if he had to suffer a disappointed love in the process. And if he’s saying he’s going to be “courageous,” that suggests he’ll put himself out there in looking for love, rather than consign himself to eternal celibacy, which is a hopeful thought. –jb]

Jin-ho then goes down the checklist to meet with Chang-ryul. That pink jacket…it’s so crazy, it’s awesome. Chang-ryul is getting ready to go to China, of his own volition and not because he’s being exiled. He thanks Jin-ho for giving the building contract to his company. Well, that makes sense since Jin-ho wouldn’t have the funds to actually construct the giant apple himself, what with all the debt. They essentially bury the hatchet [and thankfully not in each other’s backs –jb], which is nice since they had the potential to be friends, even amidst the Kae-in drama.

We then catch up with Ascot and Young-sun, who is pregnant with her second. We get a fakeout, presenting them like a couple, but then Young-sun’s husband finally makes an appearance. Ha! He’s this giant thug guy, who gets all jealous of her friendship with Ascot. I like that they didn’t go there with Young-sun, pairing the friends at the end…it would’ve been too predictable, and I much prefer the dynamic this way. Her husband being that giant goon makes it even funnier. Apparently they’re carrying on the gay lie with her husband, and really, shouldn’t the series have ended with an Ascot/Do-bin pairing? I would totally take you back if you did that. [Except that he totally doesn’t deserve Do-bin, gay or no gay. –jb]

Alas, that’s not where we’re going, as Ascot goes on a blind date, only to run into In-hee, who’s also on a blind date. Aw, really? In-hee? Seriously, Show? See, this is why we can’t even be friends after. Because you’re doing stuff like this. It’s unnecessary, and embarrassing. You should just quit while you’re ahead. But no, they end up getting a drink together, and decide drunkenly to date each other. [Which is like finding two loose threads and deciding to tie them together, not caring that one is a silk thread from a designer bag and the other is poking out from the shag carpet. They totally have no business being linked together, but hey! No more loose string ends! –jb]

After wasting all that precious finale time on peripheral characters, we finally get back to our couple, sitting at home in Sang-go-jae, looking out at the night sky. Kae-in tells Jin-ho that her mom named Sang-go-jae, to mean a place where they looked after and loved one another. “Let’s live here happily for a long, long time.” Jin-ho says of course they will.

We end with each of their weather forecasts. Kae-in: “It’s not always going to be a life of clear skies. But even if I encounter darkness, if I go with this man I can muster the courage to walk through.” Jin-ho: “I ran without stopping, but I was always a child running in circles. But I met this woman, and learned that stopping to breathe…could take me farther than I ever knew.”

The End.

So there you have it, Show. We had some good times, some really steamy chemistry, and some fantastic characters. But in the end you sabotaged yourself and I couldn’t rationalize my love for you anymore. My friends were worried I was settling, and threatened an intervention. When I think about why I loved you in the first place, it amounts to the parts rather than the whole…and your POTENTIAL. It almost kills me how much potential you had, still have, and never tapped into. You had all the components to be amazing, but you never really figured out how to put them together properly. Perhaps it’s my fault for setting my expectations too high. Or maybe we were just never meant to be. That’s okay. Don’t cry. You’ll hate yourself for it in the morning. Thanks for the kisses, and The Cute.



This drama made me feel like Kae-in, who after being burned by many a subpar drama that initially looked great, decided to take the leap of faith and dive in again, only to find myself woefully deceived by a hottie with a sincere gaze and adoring smile. But Sohn Ye-jin and Lee Min-ho were so wonderful and happy together that for a stretch there in the middle (say, episodes 6 through 13), things looked sunny. For those episodes alone, the drama was worth watching — or at least, I still harbor fond memories even despite all the rough patches in there. Her heartfelt acting and vulnerability made Kae-in someone to root for, and his portrayal of Jin-ho’s conflicted conscience and doting love made Jin-ho positively dreamy. (Let’s exclude the last episode from this, which I am rewriting and re-editing in my mind as I type.)

Sure, the spotty later episodes can somewhat be blamed on the will-they-or-won’t-they dilemma of whether to extend the series or not, plus the MBC strike that hindered the production process. But even so, that doesn’t excuse the last two episodes, which were more of a letdown than I was bracing myself for. Oh, I knew way ahead of time that this drama would never be the drama I wished it could be — which, based on its cast and material, was not an unreasonable hope, in my humble opinion — so I wasn’t crushed by the weak resolution and denouement. But I, like the ever-optimistic Kae-in, was always hoping for better anyway.

Too bad it didn’t materialize, but at the end of the day, Personal Taste doesn’t shake my faith in dramas. I may get burned again and again but I’d rather keep my faith, even if that makes me silly and gullible, because I still believe in True Love, Kdrama-Style. We’ll just call this one a brief fling that ended with an amicable split, and move on to better things.