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[2010] Những cặp đôi tuổi Dần - The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry - Park Jin Hee, Kim Bum

76 January 8, 2010January 8, 2010

Jin-Bum couple in the Woman Who Still Wants to Marry

by javabeans

Aww. I’ll admit that when 20-year-old Kim Bum was first cast to play 32-year-old Park Jin-hee‘s boyfriend in the upcoming Woman Who Still Wants To Marry, I wasn’t sure how this would play out. She’s gorgeous and youthful, but Kim Bum — well, he’s practically a baby, right? But seeing the latest stills from the drama, I’m starting to think they make a really cute couple…

Their real-life age difference is preserved In the MBC drama, which stars Park as a television reporter and Kim as a genius musician in an indie band. Kim expressed his own reservations about the romantic storyline, saying, “To be honest, the older-woman-younger-man romance is a part that really concerned me. I’m sure that my co-star Park Jin-hee felt the same way. I even wondered whether we would be able to act as people really in love. However, as filming began and I started working with Park Jin-hee, I had the thought that thanks to [her character] Lee Shin-young the cold winter would feel warmer, and my worries went away.”

Kim had also hesitated to take the role after filming two dramas last year, which kept him incredibly busy (those would be Boys Before Flowers and Dream). Taking this role meant not getting much time off, but he met with the writer and director, “and I felt something warming in my heart. I think it’s my good fortune to have joined the team of The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry.”

In order to prepare for his role, Kim Bum has been busily learning how to play the guitar. He described his character as: “Ha Min-jae is a songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist as well as his band’s leader. Whenever I don’t have filming, I’m learning how to play the guitar.”

The drama replaces Hero in two weeks on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Via TV Daily, OSEN

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61 January 25, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episodes 1-2

by javabeans

MBC’s new trendy drama The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry didn’t get off to a strong ratings start last week, and given that Chuno looks unlikely to falter, it may very well remain an underrated show. It’s too bad, because there’s a refreshing quality to the drama that I enjoyed; it’s halfway between Dal Ja’s Spring and My Sweet Seoul — less comical than the former, but less meandering than the latter.

Or, to make another comparison, it’s like a Sex and the City but without the sex; maybe more like a Dating and the City. It also reminds me of the risque cable drama Romance Hunter, although again, not as frank about the sex. I’ve never been a Sex and the City fan (too annoying), but these characters share similarity with the leads, minus a Samantha and more (in my opinion) likable.

SONG OF THE DAY

Park Ki-young – “Taste of Love” [ Download ]

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CHARACTERS

Park Jin-hee plays LEE SHIN-YOUNG, a 34-year-old television reporter whose love life has faltered in large part due to her career ambitions. She’d once been engaged to a longtime boyfriend, but she wanted to go to America for additional experience and the boyfriend was unwilling to wait. Her co-workers talk as though they’d given up on her being able to snag a husband, given her age.

We’re also supposed to suspend our disbelief a bit regarding her appearance; Park Jin-hee is a seriously gorgeous woman, but most people in this drama don’t see Shin-young as pretty (unless she’s decked out in nice clothes). It’s not that she’s supposed to be ugly or unfashionable, but she’s a normal woman who doesn’t put a lot of care into her everyday appearance.

Her best friend is the opposite — KIM BU-KI (Wang Bit-na) is sophisticated and elegant; as a successful restaurant consultant, she makes good money and dresses herself in fashionable high-end brands. Shin-young and Bu-ki have been friends for the past decade; they met when they were just starting out in their careers and have been friends ever since. Bu-ki is the no-nonsense, cynical one of the friends; the “Miranda,” if we’re playing up the Sex and the City comparison.

JUNG DA-JUNG (Eom Ji-won) is a top interpreter who is so good at her job that she herself is famous (in her circles). Her intelligence and quick wit is said to have defused more than one tense political situation, and on the outside, she’s poised and professional. On the inside, though, she’s hilariously NOT. Da-jung and Shin-young were high school classmates but hadn’t kept in touch; they reconnect in Episode 1 at an alumni function. Da-jung has a very cute naivete regarding relationships, which makes her this trio’s “Charlotte.”

HA MIN-JAE (Kim Bum) is a university student studying music who tends to attract women’s admiring gazes wherever he goes. Despite his relative youth, he seems older than his age and walks with a cool, I-could-care-less air that adds to his charisma.

Min-jae is close with NA BAN-SEOK (Choi Chul-ho), a doctor of Oriental medicine. Min-jae calls Ban-seok “hyung” but they’re not related, and we don’t know what their exact relationship is, but it’s similar enough to a real brotherly dynamic. However, in matters of romance Min-jae’s got more success and experience, so he advises Ban-seok on how to get along with women. Ban-seok is pretty successful in his career and good-looking, but he has no confidence with women so his dates tend to fizzle into awkwardness.

 
EPISODES 1-2

We start out at a romantic dinner, where Shin-young’s boyfriend has set a romantic tableau for a special night: taking out a jewelry box, he presents her with a diamond ring and proposes. Although they’ve only been dating for three months, he tells her that he felt an immediate connection with her, and felt that he was meant to meet her.

Shin-young is very happy to accept, and apologizes that she has to follow their date by returning to work. But he understands, and says that her dedication to her work is very attractive. So with a kiss and a smile, he drops her off at the office following dinner.

At the office, Shin-young shows off her rock to her co-workers, who congratulate her. They’d thought she was going to be a spinster, but how lucky that she snagged such a great guy at her age!

Shin-young heads out with her cameraman to cover a local fire, and gets to work interviewing bystanders. As emergency crews pull up to handle the burning motel building, a woman’s voice yells for help from a window; there’s a couple still in a room. When Shin-young looks up, her eyes widen in shock: In the motel room with another half-dressed woman is her very own fiance!

In contrast to his smooth, romantic persona earlier, now we see him as a coward and a wimp as he and his bedmate jump out safety onto the emergency mat. When Shin-young puts the mike to his face and asks for his account, he’s happy to have some camera time… until he recognizes the reporter.

(I love that the fiance is Jo Han-seon, who plays a total cad here but was Park Jin-hee’s honey in the romantic comedy film Sweet Lies.)

Not only does this suck, Shin-young can’t fathom why he would propose to her that night — with a high-quality diamond — if he was going to head to a motel later with another woman. No matter which way she looks at it, she can’t figure out an explanation. Bu-ki tells her wryly that the question he’s probably agonizing over is why she had to show up at that particular motel on that particular night.

Shin-young’s curiosity won’t let her rest until she hears from him, so she heads over to the ex-fiance’s place to demand her answer.

Bu-ki is not a fan of this plan, but Shin-young is prevented from launching into her public diatribe because someone else beats her to the punch. Another woman throws something at a window, shattering it, and screams out for her ex’s name, demanding to know why he dumped her. At least she’s directing her tirade at a different man, but she’s sorta stolen Shin-young’s thunder, so Bu-ki says dryly, “You’ll have to do yours after she leaves.”

Suddenly, the other woman is doused with water; a disgruntled ajumma has leaned out with a pail of water, angrily saying that the guy has already moved out.

Therefore Shin-young doesn’t go through her rash impulse, and returns home instead, where she finds a wedding invitation that spins her into a flashback. The invitation is from her ex, YOON SANG-WOO (Lee Pil-mo), whom she had dated for five years. However, he had been ready to settle down and marry, while she was still building her career and wanted to go to America for two years. She had given up the program to marry Sang-woo, but he had sensed her lack of enthusiasm about the marriage and broken it off.

For the two years that she was in the U.S., Shin-young had continued to write him and tell him she loved him. Upon her return, she had sought him out, but he had moved on and left with cool words.

What’s even more infuriating is that at work the next day, she has an unexpected visitor — it’s her ex-fiance’s new girlfriend. The young brat is pretty snotty to Shin-young and claims that the guy likes her better, and that he’d said he found Shin-young burdensome. Then she has the nerve to ask for the ring back.

While out on assignment to cover a political event, Shin-young takes note of one of the interpreters, finding her oddly familiar. It isn’t until later that she connects the dots and recognizes her as the woman who’d been screaming at her ex outside the apartment.

She doesn’t realize until later, however, that they have another connection: They’re both alumnae from the same high school. Jung Da-jung approaches Shin-young and talks to her familiarly; Shin-young doesn’t recognize her from school, but is told that they had had a class together.

To catch up, they go for a friendly drink following the high school function. When Shin-young mentions recognizing Da-jung from the apartment incident, Da-jung is embarrassed, and starts drinking shots.

Da-jung suddenly clutches herself in pain, and insists that Shin-young take her to the emergency room. Shin-young does, and only when they’re there does she realize that Da-jung is trying to force a meeting with her ex, who is a doctor here.

Mortified at this prospect, Shin-young urges Da-jung not to do this, and when the latter ignores her, Shin-young grabs the bed and wheels her away. LOL.

The ladies convene at Shin-young’s apartment to discuss the matter. Da-jung is too nervous to call her ex herself, so the other two take the matter into their hands. Shin-young speaks with the ex on the phone, introducing herself as a friend who would like to ask him a question on Da-jung’s behalf.

At the hospital, the other two friends watch and wait as Shin-young meets the doctor. When she comes back, she has to break the news gently: although they’d been happily dating for a while, one day when he was sick and Da-jung brought him food, he’d suddenly felt overwhelmed with a burdened feeling. He’d stopped returning her calls hoping she’d get the message, but she didn’t. Bu-ki tells her sensibly that a man who would break up for that reason was bound to break up with her eventually, so she should count herself lucky.

After some more drinking at Shin-young’s place, a drunk Da-jung stumbles out to go home, insisting she’s fine. Yet sometime later, she calls Shin-young in a panic, and when Shin-young finds her, Da-jung is stuck face-down in wet cement. HAHA. She had thought she was home and had lain on the ground thinking it was her bed, then found herself stuck.

With no other way out, Shin-young cuts Da-jung’s hair and helps her hobble away.

The next day, Shin-young heads to a university campus to shoot some footage, after which she has an interview scheduled elsewhere. But they can’t film because an electric guitar is playing loudly inside the building, and Shin-young heads inside to ask the player to give her ten minutes of quiet.

Only, when she arrives in the practice room, the student at the guitar (Min-jae) gives her a dismissive eye and ignores her request to be quiet. She tries to make the request politely, but his attitude gets on her nerves and she’s running out of time.

So she heads back outside, grabs some wire cutters, and cuts the cord on his amp. Naturally this does not make Min-jae happy, and he chases her outside, where a friendly bystander points him in the direction of the running woman.

He doesn’t know that the helpful bystander is her cameraman, and with Min-jae out of their hair, they continue with the report.

Shin-young meets with a few more hiccups, first when her car is burgled and her bag stolen. It contains all her work on her current stories, and also the engagement ring she was going to return to her ex.

Then, she’s reassigned to a different team at the broadcast station. Her boss has put her in the planning department and tells her to throw together some ideas for a nice program on society, culture, and economics. This does not make her happy, since she had long wanted to be on a different beat, but the boss sticks to his decree.

Then, her ex-boyfriend Sang-woo has the nerve to ask for a meeting while she’s at work. She’s been daydreaming of a reunion with him, so she primps before she goes out — only to be presented with a wedding invitation. He wanted to be sure she would come to the ceremony, which is something she has no great desire to do. When he presses her to promise, she loses her temper and grabs a prop sword from a nearby actor — dressed in full sageuk gear — and wields it angrily. He runs.

We get to know Min-jae and Ban-seok a little better when the latter treats Min-jae’s ankle (twisted in his pursuit of the crazy cord-cutting reporter lady). Ban-seok’s last date didn’t go so well, despite Min-jae’s advice on how to act. Ban-seok doesn’t want to meet a woman who only picks her men based on a checklist of wants; he seems to have a more idealized view of romance which no doubt has hindered his dating life. (Min-jae has no such trouble.)

The three friends go out for dinner together, and Da-jung now sports a new haircut and new attitude. She has decided she will marry this year, and when she cites the qualities in her type of man, it’s pretty demanding — good job, brains, family, money, looks.

Shin-young says that those kind of men are all looking for younger women, and Bu-ki cautions, “If you live that naively, you’ll get hurt.” But Da-jung’s sunny optimism is undaunted by Bu-ki’s cynicism. Shin-young, on the other hand, has decided she won’t marry at all.

When they head out to Bu-ki’s car, they find an epithet written on the snow-covered hood: “AWFUL BITCH.” Bu-ki just wipes it off casually, admitting that she has an idea who did it but not explaining.

She also has a few things to take care of but she had offered Da-jung a tour of her place, so she sends her friends along to her fancy apartment.

Da-jung needs a new place to stay (rumors have spread about her embarrassing scene), and Bu-ki offers to let her move in with her. She certainly has the space. Da-jung looks around the lavish apartment, marveling at her sense of taste and style, as well as proof of her professional success.

She hadn’t always been this way, however, Shin-young explains. Bu-ki had previously been a doting girlfriend to the man she dated for ten years, since her first year at university. She had done everything he wanted and never deviated from his wishes, but that meant she always found herself doing the dishes at his mother’s house. Year in, year out, the only memories of her twenties are of doing the dishes. Finally, she couldn’t take it and broke up with him when she was thirty, and now she has reinvented herself into a completely different, self-sufficient career woman. According to Bu-ki, breaking up may seem horrible and frightening at first, but later on you realize it was nothing.

This is a bit of a random encounter, but it speaks to the drama’s quirky tone: Shin-young is set up by a co-worker with a man she had once interviewed a few years ago, Jerry Oh. He had remembered her and asked for her number, so they go out to dinner together. When he sees that she enjoys wine, he invites her over to sample some bottles he’d brought from Napa.

The date is going along fine, until he makes an odd request. It’s simple enough, so Shin-young complies: She hides behind a curtain, then pops out to say “Peekaboo.” This excites Jerry, and he then asks her to put on a bathrobe and do it again, which creeps her out. She resists, so he pleads with growing urgency, resorting to baby-speak. Thoroughly skeeved out, Shin-young leaves him blubbering for more Peekaboo. (It’s so bizarre that it’s hilarious.)

She also fills in for her sunbae by teaching a university class on reporting, albeit reluctantly. Things are going fine until she comes face to face with a late student: Min-jae. Both are surprised, but Min-jae takes pleasure in needling her and being a smartass. She does apologize for cutting his guitar cord, though she points out that he wasn’t very civil, either.

She asks him to drop the class, and he answers that he will, but only after he does the homework she has assigned, which is to come up with a story idea. Min-jae relates an odd occurrence he’d encountered with a man selling obviously stolen electronics to students. This idea piques her interest, because her own bag was stolen and there has been a rash of burglaries in the area.

Working together, she poses as a student, whom Min-jae introduces to the thief as a friend who is in the market for a new camera. (Hence the purposely youthful clothing.) The scene is pretty fun, because Min-jae has to treat her as a fellow student for their cover to work, but he also enjoys purposely talking down to her (in a way that he can’t speak to her in normal circumstances because she’s older). In front of the thief, they talk to each other as though they’re longtime buddies, and it’s very cute.

Once she’s in the man’s storeroom of stolen goods, she looks around for her stolen ring, and finds it in a tray of jewelry just as the police raid the place. (She has a friend on the force, so they’re in no trouble.)

A few days later, Shin-young is doing research at the university library, trying to find possible new ideas for her program, when Min-jae comes upon her. This time, their exchange is friendlier than in the past. He comments that a different person gave the report of the crime bust (which shows that he’d been looking out for her broadcast), half-teasing that she must be bad at her job. She answers that it wasn’t her beat.

When she asks him to help with her books, he says no with a smile and pretends to leave. Shin-young grimaces, but he catches up to her and takes the books anyway.

As they part ways, he suggests, “Next Friday, I have a performance. Want to come?” She answers, “I don’t have time,” and he returns, “It was just empty talk” as though he didn’t mean for her to take the invitation anyway. Min-jae doesn’t seem greatly disappointed but the invitation does seem sincere, since his parting words, uttered oh-so-casually, are, “You should dress like the other day. You looked pretty.”

Shin-young dives into work over the next few days, while Da-jung moves in with her — she had turned down Bu-ki’s offer, preferring to room with her old schoolmate.

Shin-young works so hard for a full week that when she wakes up at her desk the day she has to shoot her program, she makes a horrifying discovery: she can’t talk. Her jaw has stiffened — and at a skewed angle — and she can’t open her mouth.

She’s insistent that she’ll do the interview, but it’s obvious that she can’t. So her sunbae offers to do it instead (she protests, but he’s happy to score a plum job) and rushes off to take over her interview.

Shin-young cries furious tears at home, only managing to grunt unintelligible words. Da-jung — ever the interpreter — listens closely and is able to guess correctly what Shin-young is moaning (“What did I do wrong? However long I wait, a good man doesn’t show up, which is why I gave up on marriage and said I’d work on my career”).

In a hilarious bit, Da-jung keeps interpreting Shin-young’s grunts, but goes off-track and starts talking about her own grievances instead. And amidst all the bickering, Shin-young’s jaw twists even more.

 
COMMENTS

This is a breezy, refreshing drama whose conventional story is livened up with its tone. It’s a drama that’s not really that exciting on paper, but the execution — characters, dialogue — is what makes it appealing and watchable. For instance, here’s the opening, to give you a sense of the spirit of the series:

Frothy, yes, although it’s not so light that it has no weight at all. It has a few nice moments of introspection that remind me of the voiceovers in Dal Ja’s Spring and My Sweet Seoul. For instance, when Shin-young finds Da-jung sprawled in concrete and cuts her loose, the comical tone is given a moment of depth as her voice narrates:

“The women who love themselves and have headed toward their dreams all this while — what are they doing now? They may have grown tired by now or jaded, and forgotten that their lives are valuable. If I don’t love myself, who will take my side? I have to clench my teeth and love myself. I think of today’s sun. I’m here at a new morning, wanting to believe that I’m a better woman than I thought I was.”

(Concession: It’s a trite sentiment, but one that’s delivered nicely nonetheless.)

Like I said, the friendships remind me of Sex and the City, which is compounded by the fact that the trio often sit around a dinner table to discuss their lives. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing; the conversations are fresh and fun, and the actresses bring little quirks to these personalities. My particular favorite is Da-jung, who is shameless and naive and idealistic and materialistic, but wrapped up in a bright, sunny bow.

Yeah, it’s a little irritating that 34 is considered so old, but it’s a pretty accurate assessment of what it’s like for real Korean women, so I can’t gripe too much. These women aren’t miserable about being 34; they just face the fact that being 34 presents them with certain challenges in the dating realm.

As for the chemistry between Park Jin-hee and Kim Bum — I was hesitant about whether it would work, but I’m finding that it does. Kim Bum actually seems older than his age, for once, which is not something I could say of his previous roles. (In fact, I found his Boys Before Flowers portrayal of a playboy amusing because it was like he was playing grown-up.) He looks a little older, but more importantly, he carries himself older. Their flirting is only in its incipient stages right now, but it’s very cute.

I’d say there are some flaws so this series isn’t an immediate home run, but I found it a nice surprise. The acting is solid and the women have a believable rapport. Aside from Kim Bum, we haven’t really seen how the other men will figure in, but the three friends are enough to keep me tuning in another week.

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53 February 2, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 3

by javabeans

This is shaping up to be a fun, amusing drama — somewhat light, but not necessarily empty. With the phrase “wants to marry” in the title, naturally romance is a recurring theme, but I actually like that this drama is more about the friendships between the three women. The romances are (so far) on the side. With the friendship at the core, the drama’s appeal hinges on a likable dynamic between these three. Thankfully the ladies have an endearing chemistry.

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Bum – “내 기타줄 끊은 여자” (The Woman Who Cut My Guitar String), which is the song his character writes in the drama. [ Download ]

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EPISODE 3 RECAP

Stress causes Shin-young’s face muscles to seize up, and her jaw twists (official term: Bell’s palsy, a nerve affliction), so she is forced to take a week off work. She seeks treatment at an Oriental medicine hospital, where she asks for the best doctor and gets Na Ban-seok. (I LOVE that Bu-ki whips out her camera to take a shot of Shin-young’s twisted face.)

Full recovery may take up to three months of continual treatment, and Ban-seok gets started on the acupuncture. He warns her that the most important factor to wellness is remaining stress-free and relaxed.

Shin-young is lying in bed with needles jutting out of her face when the phone rings. Unfortunately, she can only mumble through clenched teeth and her words are unintelligible, so Min-jae is offended when she hangs up on him. She texts him back– but he’s further insulted at the curt message requesting that he text her his question.

In annoyance, Min-jae calls back, and she answers — but again, her words come out as mere “Mmmmmpf!” grunts, and he assumes she’s been drinking. Again this call is cut short. Furthermore, Ban-seok warns her not to talk during treatment and turns her phone off.

So Min-jae gets her automated message indicating that the phone has been shut off. Peeved, he goes to her workplace, UBN studios, to look for her. One of the younger women recognizes him and excitedly introduces herself as a fan.

Shin-young’s co-workers are curious to know why such a young hottie would be looking for her, and inform him that she’s on leave for her facial paralysis.

Determined to get married within the year, Da-jung seeks out a matchmaker, who has a great match lined up but expresses a few reservations because of her age. Da-jung is open to getting a physical, until the woman says that the man wants her to visit an ob-gyn to check out whether she’s ever been pregnant or miscarried. This is offensive, and Da-jung walks out. Next, she is turned away by a dating service because they don’t have any men fitting her requirements.

Feeling morose, she strolls along a bridge and shouts to the water, “Sorry for being successful! Sorry for making good money, you mean jerks!” In response, a police car pulls over, as though worried she’ll jump. Startled, Da-jung runs off.

Shin-young is better today — she can mumble half-intelligibly — but stubbornly remains in bed despite Bu-ki’s attempts to rouse her. Bu-ki wonders why she’s so gloomy — what is she so afraid of? Shin-young retorts, “Everything!”

Bu-ki puts things in an optimistic light: Everyone has dark periods, but in the long run they prepare you for brighter changes to come. This does not lift Shin-young’s spirits, and she sighs, “I’m tired of expending energy uselessly now.” She thinks she’s lost the opportunity to get married, and as time goes on, she’s also losing confidence.

Pragmatic as ever, Bu-ki responds, “Losing the chance to marry means you’ve lost the chance to divorce, so that’s not all bad. And you can always regain your confidence. It’s simple.”

After her disheartening day, Da-jung goes to the spa for a rejuvenating facial: looking younger will better prepare her to attract a man. (She looks to Bu-ki for confirmation of its effects; Bu-ki replies dryly, “Your face just looks red to me.”)

Over drinks at a pojangmacha, Bu-ki wonders why Da-jung wants to marry so badly. Anyone can marry if you just lower your standards enough, so marriage itself is nothing special, but not everyone can have professional success. But Da-jung says, “I think I’ve succeeded enough.” Men avoid her because they’re intimidated by a woman who is successful and independently makes good money. She wants to marry while she can still have kids, before she’s too old to mother them. Da-jung asks Bu-ki to introduce her to some men, flattering her to get her to agree.

Min-jae and Ban-seok meet at the gym, and their conversation affords another glimpse into their relationship. Ban-seok is ten years older, and he’d been responsible for straightening Min-jae out before he turned into a problem kid.

Thinking of Shin-young, Min-jae asks if Ban-seok has ever heard of facial paralysis. Ban-seok explains that it’s often caused by stress, particularly if the person is sensitive. Min-jae thinks, “But she doesn’t seem sensitive,” which is a concept Ban-seok corrects — you can’t judge that from someone’s outer appearance. A person can be tender-hearted and sensitive on the inside.

This makes Min-jae stop and think about it a little more; clearly he’s intrigued by Shin-young, though he hasn’t figured her out yet.

Bu-ki makes good on her promise, and sets Da-jung up on a series of dates. One after another, they fall flat, mostly because Da-jung is extremely picky. After each failed match-up, Bu-ki dutifully tries a new date, but there’s always something wrong. The first guy is bald, the second guy is from a religious family, the third is 10 cm shorter than her.

Shin-young goes in for follow-up sessions with Ban-seok, and improves steadily until the paralysis has mostly worn off. She’s happy because now she can get back to work and her normal life, and is eager about the prospect about not coming in every day. However, Ban-seok feels a curious letdown at her reaction (as though taking it personally that she doesn’t want to come by every day), and urges her to keep up with treatments every other day.

When she gets back to work, she’s in for an unhappy surprise — her planning team is in danger of being broken up. After such a long absence, the members have agreed to join (or want to join) new/better teams, which would leave her without a staff.

Grimly, she faces her teammates, saying that she understands what they’re thinking, that she should give in gracefully and leave UBN now (leaving room for the others). As a single woman, she doesn’t have a family or husband to support, like they do. Shin-young concedes that yes, she’ll probably leave UBN at some point — but not now. If she leaves, she won’t ever be able to rise higher than this mid-level position. Her chance to marry is fast slipping away, plus her ex is getting married today — she refuses to sink any lower than this. This is her planning team and if her ratings turn out low and she fails, she’ll quit then. So for now, they stay.

She’s wrong about one thing, though: At the wedding hall, Sang-woo sits amidst empty tables and looks at a photo of them together. He thinks, “Shin-young. Actually, I called off the wedding. I realized the person I really love is you. Forgive me, will you?” He starts to call her, but decides against it.

Back at the office, Shin-young’s co-workers inform her that Ha Min-jae had dropped by to see her. They swoon over him and suggest that they ask him to do the music for their program. Shin-young, however, isn’t impressed and replies that he’s ill-mannered; she has no idea what people see in such a rude kid.

She’s the only one who thinks that, though. At the university, a group of giggling schoolgirls waits for him; one girl shyly gives him a bouquet of flowers, promising to come to his upcoming show. He’s not outright rude, but tells them coolly to study instead of seeking him out like this.

He walks into class late, interrupting Shin-young’s lecture, and lays the bouquet on her podium. Naturally, the class Ooohs knowingly. He says (sounding purposely cryptic, I think), “Sorry for calling you like that the other day.” Puzzled, she wonders why he’s apologizing for that now, and Min-jae leans in close, as though to share a secret. He whispers that he wanted to see her now that she’s back to normal, which prompts more tittering from the students.

He then takes a seat and calls out to her, “I didn’t tell anyone about it.” Again, his deliberate mysteriousness makes their encounter sound more suggestive than it actually was.

Shin-young takes her class in to UBN for a tour of the studio. Min-jae smiles to himself, as though enjoying seeing Shin-young in her element. He certainly doesn’t lack for confidence, so it’s fun seeing him taken down a peg. When Shin-young asks if anyone wants to try sitting in the anchor chair, she asks which student has the most presence. Min-jae teases, “You shouldn’t talk so pointedly about me” and starts to step forward, but Shin-young ignores him and calls another student forward. Ha.

One of the other PDs asks for a moment with Min-jae, so she gives her students a break while the PD asks if Min-jae would appear on a program he’s working on. A bit uncomfortably, Min-jae declines, saying that he’s not interested in going on television. The PD asks if he can use his Youtube video, and Min-jae deflects by saying he’s in class right now, so he’ll think about it later.

Shin-young watches this from a distance, slowly starting to see that Min-jae commands a lot of attention. Perhaps she’d underestimated him after all.

Later, she goes online to check out Min-jae’s performance video, and admits to her co-worker (the avid fan) that she hadn’t realized he was famous in indie circles. She didn’t know he wrote all his own songs, either.

Sensing her interest, the co-worker offers to take her along to the concert. Shin-young turns her down at first, but ends up letting herself be dragged along. At the club, she watches dispassionately until Min-jae’s introduction perks her interest — his new song is titled “The Woman Who Cut My Guitar String.” He explains that it’s based on a real-life encounter: he’d been working on a pretty good song when this strange woman came in and cut his guitar string.

Kim Bum – “내 기타줄 끊은 여자” (The Woman Who Cut My Guitar String)

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      If not for you, I could have made it
If not for you, I could have shone brightly
This time’s for real
This time it’s all done
I was happy, everything was good
I was smiling until you came
I was happy, everything was good
I was smiling until you came
 
Like in a dream, she cut my guitar string and left
How could she do this to me?
Please don’t do this
Does everything have a reason?
Why’d she cut my guitar string?
She appeared in my dream:
“I did it for you”
 
I’ve already got a lot of sadness
I’ve fallen over a lot
Please don’t cut my guitar string and leave again  
Even if you don’t
I’ve been hurt enough
Please don’t cut my guitar string and leave again
 
If you have too much,
you won’t know what’s important
You won’t long for love,
I did it for you
 
I’ve already got a lot of sadness
I’ve fallen over a lot
Please don’t cut my guitar string and leave again
Even if you don’t
I’ve been hurt enough
Please don’t cut my guitar string and leave again
Even if you don’t
I’m too humble
Please don’t cut my guitar string and leave again
너만 아니었음 난 뜰 수 있었어
너만 아니었음 빛날 수 있었어
이번에는 진짜야
이번에는 다 됐어
행복했어 좋았어
웃었어 니가 오기 전까지
행복했어 좋았어
웃었어 니가 오기 전까지
 
꿈에서 본 듯한 그 여자 기타줄 끊고 갔네
어떻게 이래 나한테 이래
제발 이러지마요
모든 일엔 이유가 있을까
그녀는 왜 기타줄을 끊었나
그녀가 꿈에 나타났어
널 위해 그랬어
 
난 이미 슬픈 게 많아요
넘어진 적도 많아
제발 다신 기타 줄을 끊고 가지 말아요
당신이 그러지 않아도
그 동안 너무 아팠어
제발 다신 기타 줄을 끊고 가지 말아요
 
너무 많은 걸 가지면
넌 소중한 걸 모를 거야
사랑이 그립지 않을 거야
널 위해 그랬어
 
난 이미 슬픈 게 많아요
넘어진 적도 많아
제발 다신 기타 줄을 끊고 가지 말아요
당신이 그러지 않아도
그 동안 너무 아팠어
제발 다신 기타줄을 끊고 가지 말아요
당신이 그러지 않아도
나는 너무 겸손해
제발 다신 기타 줄을 끊고 가지 말아요

 
Okay, so not the best song. But let’s pretend it is, for the sake of Min-jae’s reputation as a musical genius.

Truth be told, she’s pretty impressed, and inside her head she’s willing to admit he’s pretty talented. But she’s not ready to concede that out loud, and asks her co-worker grudgingly, “What’s so great about this song?”

Shin-young leaves the show shortly thereafter, but something (or rather, the song) makes her change her mind. By the time Min-jae leaves the club, she’s waiting outside on the street. After the initial surprise passes, he’s back to his cocky ways: “Wasn’t it cool?”

Making the lame excuse that she was just passing by, she comments, “It sounds like you wrote that song because of me.” He asks, “Were you waiting all this time to buy me coffee?” Ignoring her stammers of denial, he leads her away.

Shin-young says he ought to be grateful for her for inspiration. She can’t hold back her curiosity, and persists in asking: Did he write the lyrics on the spot, or later? He asks, “Are you just curious because you’re a reporter? Or are you interested in me?”

Min-jae enjoys pushing her buttons, because her reaction to his roundabout answers (and his flirting tone) is impatience and irritation. Finally he explains that yes, he wrote the song because of their meeting. (Also, he used the words “guitar string” rather than the more appropriate guitar “cable” because it’s easier to understand.) When she complains that he took a long time to answer a simple question, he answers, “This way, I get to see your face a little longer.”

She retorts, “Want to write a song called ‘The Woman Who Poured Coffee On My Face’?” Undaunted, he challenges her: “Give it a try. I’ll give you a big kiss.” She narrows her eyes. He urges her to go on, saying he’s looking forward to it. But when she flicks her open cup toward his face, he flinches. (It’s empty.)

She gets up to leave, sighing, “It’s my fault for asking a serious question.” She warns him to keep his mouth shut and not come to class anymore, as he’d promised earlier.

Bu-ki invites Shin-young and Da-jung to a restaurant’s opening. The ladies mingle with the other guests, Da-jung keeping an eye out for eligible bachelors. Too bad she gets a little ahead of herself, because she’s mortified when she finds out that the guy she’s flirting with was born in 1988. Worse yet, she lied about her age, saying she was born in 1985, which has shaved a good nine years off her real age. She can’t keep up the lie since he came with someone who recognizes her.

Shin-young and Da-jung cut out early, deciding to pig out on snacks at home. They split up to buy their favorite late-night snacks, and will meet up back at the apartment.

On her way home, Shin-young finds Sang-woo waiting to intercept her. She isn’t pleased to see him, not even when he confesses that he called the wedding off, and that he’d sent her the invitation on purpose so that she would see for herself that it was canceled.

Shin-young: “What would change if I saw that?”
Sang-woo: “Forgive me and take me back.”
Shin-young: “Do you think you can just leave me when you want, then come back to open arms?”
Sang-woo: “Do you know what my life’s biggest mistake was? Opposing when you went abroad. Thinking that you didn’t love me.”
Shin-young: “Do you know what my life’s biggest mistake was? Loving a man like you. Mistaking you for my soulmate.”
Sang-woo: “I’ll show you that it wasn’t a mistake. Give me another chance.”
Shin-oung: “I have a boyfriend I want to marry.”
Sang-woo: “Break up. I did.”

She kicks him: “Even if I stay single forever, I won’t go back to you!” He persists, saying that he knows she’s not dating anyone and promising, “I’ll wait. I’ll wait forever.”

No surprise that Shin-young comes home in a dark mood, and reaches for the liquor. She fumes — how she could go back to him when he ripped her heart out?

Da-jung tells her to be calm and go back to him, which doesn’t help calm her down any. To marriage-obsessed Da-jung, it’s better for Shin-young to think calmly and take him back (and marry). Shin-young is not having it, and in her fit of temper, her facial paralysis strikes again.

This means more acupuncture treatments. Shin-young had stopped going back for follow-up visits, to Ban-seok’s dismay, thinking that all was well. Ban-seok had been depressed when she’d stopped coming, despite his firm stance on not dating clients or even seeing them in a romantic light. This time, he’s cheered by her vow to come by every day this week, and she improves again.

The encounter leaves Ban-seok mooning over his crush, thinking, “I feel strange. I have feelings for a patient. I must be crazy.”

Min-jae doesn’t think it’s such a big deal. Is she pretty? Is she interested back? Is she available? Ban-seok answers that she is pretty, she doesn’t seem to dislike him, and he isn’t sure of her dating status. However, he shouldn’t feel this way about a patient in the first place, and ought to get rid of his feelings. Min-jae scoffs that the reason Ban-seok hasn’t been able to date is because he’s so conservative.

Ban-seok sighs, “Whenever I see her, I feel excited and happy. My hand shakes when I put the needles in.” Min-jae jokes that if his shaking hand makes a mistake, he might give her facial paralysis. Ban-seok replies that that’s actually the reason she came in for treatment.

Thinking it’s a funny coincidence, Min-jae tosses out, “It’s not Lee Shin-young, is it?” Ban-seok asks, surprised, “How do you know?”

Intensifying her efforts, Da-jung drags Shin-young along to a fortunteller/guru to diagnose why they have been unable to marry. Shin-young remains skeptical at his general remarks (earning the fortuneteller’s disdain), because anyone could have guessed that their age is a factor.

The man concludes that they need an exorcism, which merits another skeptical reaction from Shin-young. Da-jung, however, eats this all up, eager to do whatever she has to. She’s spurred by the fortuneteller’s hazy prediction that he sees men in their future who will com “as soon as the road opens.” But in order for that to happen, they need to clear it via exorcism.

Neither Bu-ki and Shin-young are persuaded, but they reluctantly tag along on the exorcism outing, dressed all in red per the fortuneteller’s instructions. They prepare excuses in the event they should need to justify their presence: Shin-young is merely here covering a story, and Bu-ki is surveying the land.

Da-jung throws herself into it optimistically, but the other two question the fortuneteller’s chants, wondering if he’s legit. He grows offended (probably because he’s mumbling nonsense and is uncomfortable with the scrutiny), saying their lack of faith is why they can’t marry.

And so, they step aside and wait for Da-jung to finish, but the fortuneteller says he’s “lost the feeling.” Taking this opportunity to blame it on the two doubters, he sneaks up on them and beats them with a stick, while Da-jung begs them to just go along with it.

And just then, they’re swarmed by a crowd of reporters, who have been watching from the outskirts. Cameras are thrust in their faces and the reporters bombard them with questions about the man’s violent tactics.

The women cover their faces in mortification — they all have their public images to think about! — and try to run, with difficulty, away from the reporters.

 
COMMENTS

This episode continues with the refreshing tone; the story has comedy, which isn’t entirely slapstick but not entirely dry wit, either. It’s somewhere in between, sort of like in Soulmate. Some gags are played for the physicality, but the humor really comes from the dialogue and the easy, entertaining relationships of the three leads.

Of the three, Da-jung is definitely my favorite, even if (or because?) she’s the most flawed. She may be materialistic and picky, but Eom Ji-won plays her with such sunny appeal that she’s still quite likable. (The equivalent characters in series like My Sweet Seoul and Romance Hunter, on the other hand, drove me batty with their snooty attitudes. So this is definitely an area where the actress makes a huge difference in bringing the quirkiness to life.) I like that she’s selfish in an honest and open way, which keeps her from being disingenuous.

Bu-ki has an interesting backstory, so while we have seen her the least, I am digging her character, too. I haven’t been struck with Wang Bit-na’s acting in the past, so this role really suits her. I enjoy her dialogue the most, since it’s dry and cynical (but not bitter!). Still, you understand where she’s coming from because of her past experience being the slavish, eager-to-please girlfriend.

Shin-young is the straight woman so she’s not as offbeat as the others, and to be honest I’m not sure she’s written with a lot of depth (yet), but I like the way Park Jin-hee plays her. She’s aware of her age but not frightened of it, nor is she dismissive of it. It matters and she’s aware of the restrictions society places on single women of her station, but it doesn’t define her.

This may seem an obvious point but I think a key factor of this drama’s marriage theme isn’t that these women are husband-crazed or desperate to find their soulmates. Not even Da-jung, really. For all intents and purposes, marriage in this drama is more about the opportunity to marry, not the act itself (which is what Shin-young is half-mourning in the early scene. To some extent this is true in all dramas, but I think this one makes a particular distinction between marriage and love.

Choi Chul-ho has been playing cold bastards recently, so how great is he to embrace the opposite with this innocent, awkward bachelor character? He reminds me of Sohn Hyun-joo, who also had a history of playing ill-mannered men before he took on the pure, kind eldest son in Sol Pharmacy. Had you not seen his earlier work, you might have thought it was an easy, simple character to play, but in the context of his career, it’s more impressive. And Kim Bum — I think this is the most adorable he’s been since Unstoppable High Kick. It’s like the best mix of all his characters thus far, without going overboard on any one trait — he has the boyish charm from High Kick, the playboy flirtiness of Boys Before Flowers, yet also a new maturity that he’s been attempting in stuff like Dream that (in my opinion) never really fully materialized.

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38 February 8, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 4

by javabeans

Cute and funny as usual, but also, now the plot really gets going.

Usually when dramas have many main characters, I find a few I like and tune out the ones that are boring/annoying/useless. This drama is managing to balance its main characters well and show us aspects to everyone that are relatable. I don’t think the men are as well-balanced as the women (Lee Pil-mo‘s character needs more time to develop, or less dismissive acting) but the main two (Kim Bum, Choi Chul-ho) are very cute, both together and in their respective stories.

SONG OF THE DAY

Byul – “Beautiful Girl” from the Woman Who Still Wants To Marry OST [ Download ]

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EPISODE 4 RECAP

The ladies run from the reporters. Bu-ki leads and Shin-young manages to escape their clutches, but Da-jung is held back and struggles to keep her face hidden while fending off their insistent questions.

Finally, they make it to the car and escape. Check out Bu-ki’s death glare, directed Da-jung-ward for getting them into this mess.

Chilled from all that outdoor exposure, the three ladies head to a sauna/bath, where Da-jung tries to cheer them up, saying she’ll ask a friend with contacts at the MBS studios to pull some strings. Maybe they can pull the broadcast. (It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s her attempt to lift the mood.)

Overcome with incredulity, Shin-young starts to laugh. Her words are bitter, though, as she gasps out between laughs that if that tape gets out, she’s completely going to be humiliated — she’s a broadcast planning director! Since Shin-young is chuckling, Da-jung tries out a laugh too, thinking it’s safe for her. Au contraire: Shin-young retorts, “What did you do worth laughing about?”

Da-jung quiets, but then a positive thought occurs. She asks brightly, “But do you think the exorcism worked? The men will come, right?” (Always thinking of what’s truly important!)

When the women head home, Sang-woo is waiting outside Shin-young’s apartment again. The three friends all give him the evil eye, not at all moved by his attempt to win her over. Shin-young treats him coldly, so Sang-woo asks for a moment with Bu-ki instead. She agrees and they relocate to her apartment, but she isn’t terribly welcoming, either. Bu-ki tells him that she’s not in favor of their reunion. She’d like Shin-young to date someone more mature, not someone who got pissy over her training program.

Though she wasn’t invited, Da-jung inserts herself into the conversation (with her trademark shamelessness) and listens with some sympathy as Sang-woo admits that he was wrong, and that “Thinking now, I think I was afraid I wasn’t loved.” Da-jung ahhs in understanding and wishes him luck.

Sang-woo asks them to tell Shin-young he’ll be waiting outside for her, which she ignores. When she does finally emerge, it’s not to see him but to drop by the supermarket. He tries to plead his case again:

Sang-woo: “I admit I treated you badly. I’m embarrassed for being narrow-minded, too.”
Shin-young: “Then live with that embarrassment.”
Sang-woo: “I called off my wedding. I went through a huge life event, and you know what I felt? That some things don’t happen just through hard work. That life doesn’t happen the way I want.”
Shin-young: “I still can’t forget how cruel your face was that day.”
Sang-woo: “You’re forcing yourself to remember that so you can hate me. Don’t do that.”
Shin-young: “I even wished you’d come back not long ago. But seeing you, I don’t think that anymore. I don’t want to put together a broken relationship.”

Sang-woo insists that he’ll wait, believing that she’ll come back. After all, “Where would you go?!”

Uh-oh. That last bit was a little overboard. Glaring, she says furiously, “You! Marry a woman who’s older than me, uglier, fatter, debt-ridden, with a kid and an awful temper!” She growls, “That’s what will happen to you!”

The ladies mope that night over wine. Shin-young’s problem is that she hasn’t had a lot of men (or relationships) in her life, having dated Sang-woo out of university through the age of thirty. There just aren’t a lot of men coming across her path.

Da-jung says her problem is that all the men she wants ignore her, while she only gets pursued by ones she doesn’t like. Story of everyone’s dating life, eh? (Although I’m sure Da-jung’s stringent requirements make this even worse for her.)

When Shin-young wraps up her acupuncture treatments, a flashback takes us back to a previous scene, when Min-jae had found out that Shin-young was the woman Ban-seok had a crush on. Min-jae had questioned Ban-seok’s taste for liking such an ill-mannered woman and scoffed at Ban-seok’s praise. However, Ban-seok had insisted, “I like her.”

Now, as Shin-young thanks him for curing her ailment, Ban-seok makes his move. Well, as much a move as a conservative, shy bachelor can make: He tells her he’s heading to a seminar in England, but in case she has any problems, she should be sure to try his cell phone. With that excuse established, he gives her his card.

At school, Shin-young gives a lecture on interview guidlelines but finds herself distracted by Min-jae, who holds up a camera and snaps shots while she talks. It causes her to trail off and nearly lose her thought, so she gives the class a break and calls Min-jae up to ask him why he keeps taking photos of her. Min-jae points behind her to the blackboard — he was shooting that, not her. He enjoys her disconcerted reaction, asking pointedly, “You didn’t think I was taking pictures of you because I’d fallen for your beauty, did you?” Embarrassed, she doesn’t have a good answer for that, and he adds, “Sorry for disappointing you.”

Class resumes, and Shin-young continues her lecture. When Min-jae again picks up his camera, she defiantly erases the board. Still, he takes one last photo of her.

He may have denied it to her face, but he really was taking photos of Shin-young, although they are ostensibly for Ban-seok’s benefit. The two look at the images, and Ban-seok thinks she’s even prettier in photos. Min-jae begrudgingly asks what’s so pretty about her, but Ban-seok isn’t fazed. He just says, “Just wait ten years, then you’ll develop some taste.”

Ban-seok is proud of himself for giving Shin-young his number, but when he asks Min-jae if she’s likely to call, he deflates at Min-jae’s negative answer. Min-jae points out, “She has a lot of pride. She’s not the type to make an advance. Plus, you’re not the type to attract women.”

This worries Ban-seok — then what is he supposed to do? Min-jae suggests that he make the first call from England, to which Ban-seok balks. She’ll think he’s weird! He changes his tune when Min-jae counters, “Then die an old bachelor.”

Taking another look at one last photo, Ban-seok prods, “Isn’t she pretty here?” This time, Min-jae’s expression grows more serious and he concedes taht she is, a little distracted by his thoughts.

All is going well at work until Shin-young’s sunbae Myung-seok mentions, “I hear you went to an exorcism.” She tries to laugh it off, but the MBS reporter is Myung-seok’s old school friend so the denial rings false. If Shin-young appears on a competitor’s news program, it would be bad professionally (on top of being plain humiliating), so she begs Myung-seok to help block the story. She and her co-worker Hye-jin brainstorm — maybe they can offer one of their own stories in exchange for pulling the dating exorcism one.

Myung-seok agrees to help and makes a call. A little while later, he gives her the good news that MBS agreed to back off. Myung-seok had explained that Shin-young had been working on her own story, but their team had interrupted.

Now she gets to work on her own story. Her team is trying to score an interview with the coach of an Asian Games silver medalist in boxing, but the request was refused. Therefore, Shin-young heads to the gym to try to persuade him into agreeing. The coach tells her that if she can beat him in the ring, he’ll do it. After all, a reporter ought to have knowledge of what they’re talking about, right?

Unsurprisingly, she fails. But she’s not one to give up, and promises to come back tomorrow.

In London, Ban-seok psychs himself up to call Shin-young, agonizing over it and chickening out of a few preliminary attempts. When he finally does call, he stutters and speaks in stiff, formal language, saying he’s just checking on her condition. Also, he prepared a small present for her — nothing to feel pressure over — and requests to meet her the day he returns.

She’s busy that night, and he can barely contain his disappointment, forcing a laugh. But he musters his courage again and presses one more time. Shin-young is a little taken aback, but offers to meet him at the airport since she’ll be nearby.

Shin-young consults with Bu-ki, guessing that he’s interested in her. She thinks it’s a little odd, but Bu-ki tells her not to be too skeptical up front — meet him and see how things go.

When she meets him at the airport, there are lots of awkward pauses and uncomfortable silences. He talks about his seminar, and in a bid to make polite conversation, Shin-young muses that she likes London; it would be great to go back. (He blurts, “Together?” before realizing that’s not what she meant.)

She drops him off at the hospital, where he promises to pay her back for the favor by taking her to dinner later. He gives her the gift and reminds her to take her medicine. It’s cute that Ban-seok is thoroughly pleased with how he handled himself, although anyone else would have buried his head in embarrassment.

The ladies convene to eye the present curiously. Enjoying the anticipation, Shin-young opens the box excitedly… until they realize it’s just a box of chocolates. No card.

Da-jung suggests that there’s actually something inside the chocolate, like a ring. Bu-ki agrees — men who are inexperienced in dating tend to do dumb things like that in the name of romance. Shin-young pops a chocolate into her mouth and feels around carefully. The other ladies join in. When the first few yield nothing, they continue with the rest of the box.

But no ring. Just chocolate.

Now the ladies are confused and a little bit insulted. That’s… it? He called all the way from London just to give her chocolate? Did he just want to save on taxi fare?

Shin-young starts to get angry, and Da-jung backs her up — there’s no way she can date a man like this who has no common sense. Plus, she’d have to teach how to date, step by step. Da-jung declares that the woman who marries him will have a time of it (which makes me think it will probably be her, heh).

Bu-ki orders them to get dressed to go for a run — they’d better work out to burn off all that chocolate. Next time, they’re just going to crush the candies rather than eating.

One might wonder why they didn’t just do that in the first place, but I suppose Shin-young wanted to play along with the fantasy of “accidentally” finding a ring in her surprise gift (which, by the way, is one of the dumbest romantic gestures ever! Guys, precious metal in one’s colon = NOT happy fun romantic times!) She explains as much in a voiceover as she and her friends work out:

Shin-young’s narration: “It’s the feeling of wanting to be repaid handsomely after spending such a long time in loneliness. Only those women who detest luxury bags and talented boyfriends may throw stones at us now. Next winter won’t be cold, because he will come — I’m looking at the thin coat I’ve bought for the occasion. In this seemingly endless winter, I am Lee Shin-young, jogging in the middle of the night to melt my frozen heart.”

As promised, Shin-young returns to the boxing gym repeatedly to pester the coach for the interview, and finally succeeds. The coach relents, and the resulting piece is well-received by Shin-young’s boss. Things are definitely looking up, because in addition to this piece, she’s got others in the works.

Shin-young celebrates this upswing in her life by going out on the weekend with the girls, shoe shopping and relaxing at the sauna. Unfortunately, the day is cut short with bad news: they’re on television. The dating exorcism story went on air, describing them as 34-year-old single women praying for marriage in a fraudulent dating exorcism. (The words “desperate” and “man-starved” are not used, but the implication can’t be missed.)

Ban-seok had felt good about himself for making an advance with Shin-young (however weak), but as time passes and he gets no response, he grows upset and grumbles that he’s never taking Min-jae’s advice again. Min-jae counters that his advice had been to call from London, but to keep it short and then not call back once he was in Korea. That would keep Shin-young intrigued enough to return for another treatment out of curiosity. He calls Ban-seok’s move weak — he should have at least had a designer scarf for her!

Ban-seok retreats to his fallback stance — women are all materialistic, so he’s giving up. (A stance that once seemed noble is starting to seem a little self-defeating, no?) He adds that he’d been wrong about Shin-young — she isn’t the type who’s receptive to a guy’s advances.

Now that Ban-seok has declared he’s backing off, Min-jae jumps at this opportunity to make this a challenge: “What if she’s not? If I make her fall for me, what’ll you do?” Ban-seok laughs, not taking him seriously, but Min-jae proposes a bet. Ban-seok takes it, since the terms aren’t too bad: If Min-jae makes Shin-young fall for him, Ban-seok will owe him a favor. If Min-jae can’t, he’ll give up music.

Min-jae is pretty confident of himself, and gets to work winning her over. Which first requires him to push her away.

On the last day of Shin-young’s class, he comes staggering in late, looking ill. Seeing his wan face, Shin-young asks in concern whether he’s sick. He responds weakly that even if he’s sick, he had to make it to the last day. When he turns away, he allows himself a triumphant smile, because this is all part of his act — he had used concealer on his lips to fade out the color from his face.

He further piques her interest by acting listless and leaving the classrom without showing any inclination of talking to her. Instead, he just hands her a plain envelope with a gift bow stuck to the front. When she opens it, she finds her photo, the one he had taken during class (which is now an admission that he was taking her picture instead of the chalkboard).

To her surprise, Shin-young also sees Min-jae at the UBN office. As he walks down the hall toward her, she straightens and waits expectantly with a smile… but he just gives her a slight bow and breezes right past her.

When she talks to another producer about the staging for a shoot, she looks up to see Min-jae chatting in a friendly way with another woman. Again, Shin-young is distracted, and she wraps up her talk quickly and heads over to talk to Min-jae, only to find him gone. She asks her co-workers if he dropped by to see her, and is mildly disappointed to hear that he hadn’t.

But this curiosity quickly gets pushed to the backburner when Shin-young hears that her sunbae Myung-seok is back from a business trip. Angrily, she calls and asks for a meeting, and talks to him in an empty studio. Min-jae sees Shin-young storming off for the meeting and watches, out of sight, as she confronts him about the exorcism story. Not only did he lie about getting the story killed, he took the story she offered as an exchange for pulling the story and used it himself.

At first Myung-seok feigns innocence, acting surprised to hear about this. But Shin-young isn’t fooled, and calls him a low-down reporter — she had known from the start when he boasted about betraying someone for a story: “I decided then that I’d better not turn out like that.”

Myung-seok counters by saying she’s the worst loser at UBN — she’s hanging on, ignoring the indications that people want her to voluntarily resign, still single at her age. He offers her severance pay, so she’d better leave. Otherwise, he warns, he’s going to make sure she has a hellish time here.

Shin-young doesn’t bat an eyelash and answers firmly, “I’ve put up with it and hung in there for ten years, and grown stronger. You won’t be able to fire me so easily.” He may politick around and play up the old boys’ club, but she’s going to make a strong program that’ll be so successful that people will have to take her seriously.

With that, Shin-young storms off with angry tears in her eyes. Min-jae watches her with a solemn gaze, feeling for her. He waits for her downstairs in the lobby, and catches her on her way out. Unlike before when he was playing hard to get, now he’s friendly. He explains that he was here to meet with producers, since he and a friend are going to be music directors for a program.

He also asks, “Do you know that there’s a tape of ballet dancer Lee Cho-hee singing?” That doesn’t mean much to us, but Shin-young is immediately intrigued — a lost recording of a famous dancer that’s over half a century old? That’s noteworthy. Min-jae is basically giving her a scoop.

Over coffee, Min-jae explains that before Lee Cho-hee became famous, she recorded in Japan under a false name. The song in question is an aria from Carmen. He knows this because a record label president told him, and the recording is in the possession of his friend.

Shin-young’s mind is awhirl — how to prove that the recording is authentic? Min-jae suggests comparing known recordings of her voice to the aria with the help of a phonetics lab analysis. Together, they get to work looking up her old recordings. Shin-young tells him she can do it alone, but he is only too happy to stay and help, boasting that he’s good at listening to voices, and can tell how a person feels just from their tone.

To test him, Shin-young asks how she’s feeling now. He smiles, but doesn’t want to answer. She asks why, and he grins, “Because I think you like me.” She returns, “It sounds like you’re saying that hopefully.”

Min-jae picks up on her choice of words — she’s shortened her address so now they’re talking more familiarly. (In particular, she uses the word “jagi,” which means “you” and is used in a friendly, close way. It could be with a friend, but more often is used with a boyfriend/girlfriend.) Shin-young mutters that she’s surrounded by difficult people.

They find what they’re looking for and take it in for a technician’s assessment. Comparing the aria, the specialist determines that there’s a 99% likelihood that it’s the dancer.

Over a coffee break, Shin-young thanks Min-jae for his help and promises to treat him to a nice meal later, when the program airs. Min-jae promises to treat her sometime, too, since he just got paid a songwriting fee.

When she gets up to handle the bill, the cashier tells her, “Your boyfriend already paid.” Rather than correcting the misconception, Min-jae just smiles and tells her to buy him something nice next time. (He also winks at the cashier, which suggests that he told him to use the word “boyfriend,” as part of his plan to get Shin-young interested in him.)

Sang-woo waits for Shin-young at the apartment and finds a sympathetic audience in Da-jung. When Shin-young arrives, her expression sours and she scolds her roommate for letting him in. She tells him to leave, and when he lingers, she ignores him.

Spying the photo in Shin-young’s purse, Da-jung asks about it. Shin-young asks if she knows who the independent songwriter Ha Min-jae is, and both Da-jung and Sang-woo have heard of him. (Sang-woo, in fact, is a fan who has seen him perform live.) Shin-young pointedly says that Min-jae took the photo of her, and Sang-woo not only doesn’t believe her, he thinks it’s embarrassing that she would actually say that. He scoffs that thinking that Min-jae is interested in her just makes her look pathetic.

That provokes her temper, so Shin-young orders him to leave immediately. Sang-woo asks, shouldn’t she cut him some slack when he’s begging like this? (She retorts, “Then don’t beg.”)

He asks, “Where will you find someone as good as me at your age?” and advises her to come to her senses because she’s not 20 anymore. This mention of age gets both women’s hackles up, and they inform him that times have changed, and threatening a woman with her age is passé.

Pride nettled, Shin-young declares, “I could even date Ha Min-jae, instead of an old guy like you!” Not at all threatened, Sang-woo wonders, “Why would he date an auntie like you?” and tells her to get her act together.

At the gym, Ban-seok is expecting Min-jae to have failed in his challenge to make Shin-young fall for him. On the contrary, Min-jae assures his hyung that he’ll send proof that he’s succeeded — in the form of “a decisive photo” — tonight. Ban-seok is surprised — does this mean they’re really dating? Min-jae just tells him to sit tight and wait for his picture.

Min-jae drops by the studio as Shin-young is preparing to film her piece, which should air sometime next week. Following a successful shoot, she invites him to the wrap party with the crew, who relocate to a bar to celebrate the night’s efforts.

Everyone does rounds together, and when Min-jae struggles to drink his, Shin-young swoops in. Buoyed by great spirits, she announces that she’ll drink for him, and finishies his beer. And again. And again. Pretty soon, she’s holding her head and feeling the effects. When Min-jae asks if she’s okay, she asks for some water, explaining that she just wanted to protect him.

But this isn’t actually a misguided act of gallantry, because as soon as Min-jae steps away, Shin-young furtively primps in the mirror and touches up her lipgloss. When he comes back, she feigns drunkenness again, acting demure.

A flashback to her argument with Sang-woo explains her act — she had taken affront to his comments that she’s old and undesirable to other men. She’d challenged, “If I date Ha Min-jae — if I make him fall in love with me, will you leave me alone?” Convinced it would never happen, Sang-woo had agreed readily.

Just as Min-jae had told Ban-seok that he’d prove their relationship, she had told Sang-woo the same. While Ban-seok anxiously waits for Min-jae’s photo to arrive, Sang-woo waits outside Shin-young’s apartment to see if she really will be carried home by Min-jae, per her promise.

At the bar, the co-workers pull Min-jae and Shin-young onto the dance floor, and Min-jae pulls out his cell phone to take a photo of the two of them dancing together. This is a little trickier than first anticipated because the others pop in to the photo, but Shin-young’s willingness to cooperate aids things. Feigning dizziness, she stumbles on purpose right into his arms, just as he takes the photo.

She sighs that she’s not feeling too well, and he asks if she’d like him to carry her home. Bingo!

 
COMMENTS

Lee Pil-mo lost me a bit in this episode as Sang-woo. Or should I say, he lost me if he’s just going to be the undeserving ex-boyfriend. If he’s being prepped to connect with one of the other women (my guess is Bu-ki?), he’s not quite doing the job, since he’s being kind of a dick with Shin-young. At first, I had to give Sang-woo credit for coming back and begging, admitting that he was completely wrong rather than trying to justify his past actions. However, even though he claims to love Shin-young, he doesn’t even value her fully, either, since he sees her as an over-the-hill spinster. His two arguments really show that, when he scorns Shin-young’s pride in herself by saying that she won’t ever be able to do better than himself, which means he doesn’t think she deserves any better.

I suspect that the drama may give us the pairings of Bu-ki and Sang-woo, and Da-jung and Ban-seok, although I haven’t yet seen the next two episodes so that’s not based on spoilers. I say this because these two pairings are at odds right now, and it would be too easy to give us the easy one with Da-jung and Sang-woo (which I call easy because Da-jung is sympathetic to Sang-woo whereas Bu-ki is disapproving). Furthermore, Da-jung’s fate was sealed (probably?) the moment she said that she’d pity the woman who married a naive, bumbling guy like Ban-seok. Challenge accepted!

I’m enjoying seeing both Shin-young and Min-jae flirting with trouble here by making this romance thing into a game, because that makes things messy and gets the feelings all confused, in a good way. It’s one thing to pretend to be liking each other — that’s easy — but it’s another thing entirely to admit that the feelings may be real. We’re already seeing multiple layers, particularly when Min-jae talks with Ban-seok and derides his crush. He protests (too much) about her charms (or lack thereof), but that’s really just him trying to convince himself. Plus, he was definitely disgruntled to have someone else potentially step in ahead of him, which is why he is so quick to jump on things as soon as Ban-seok declares he’s backing off. I think the bet to win over Shin-young is partly a fun challenge for him, but it’s also a way of legitimately pursuing her without being a bad friend — he wouldn’t “steal” her from a friend who expresses interest first, but he certainly doesn’t prod Ban-seok to give it another try.

They’re both playing games when it’s not real — like Min-jae’s playing hard to get in class — but I like that they both drop the pretenses when it IS real. That’s why I can like Min-jae despite the silly bet, because when Shin-young is actually feeling bad, he steps in to help, the act forgotten for the moment.

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96 February 10, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 5

by girlfriday

[Everyone, girlfriday will be helping me with The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry recaps, starting with this one! We’ll be switching off episodes, and I hope you’ll enjoy her wonderfully written and witty recaps as much as I do. —javabeans]

This episode amps up the chemistry between Shin-young and Min-jae, who are becoming a really cute and refreshing couple. We’re also getting hints of separate storylines for the two best friends, Da-jung and Bu-ki, which I hope will flesh out their characters and take them out of sidekick territory. The three women’s friendship continues to be the center of the drama and I think that works to the story’s advantage; we don’t have to rely solely on a make-up, break-up see-saw like a traditional romantic comedy, and the three women are all beautifully flawed characters with a lot of potential.

 
EPISODE 5 RECAP

We pick up back at the club, where Shin-young is still pretending to be drunk so that Min-jae will carry her home. Min-jae happily plays his role, as both of them have something to prove. Min-jae wants to show Ban-seok that he knows all in the ways of love, and Shin-young wants to show Sang-woo that she is not only over him, but dating someone younger and hotter. Can’t blame the girl.

Shin-young stumbles around and coyly insists that she’s fine to get home on her own, but Min-jae catches on that she’s flirting and giving him an opening. He dutifully carries her on his back and is ready to head out the door, both of them looking quite happy about the situation, when suddenly Shin-young’s boss arrives at the party just in time to spoil the fun. He insists that Min-jae shouldn’t have to carry her on his own back; she’s too heavy and anyway, he has already prepared for just such an occasion. At the boss’s request, in come two men…carrying a stretcher.

Min-jae protests, but Shin-young’s boss and co-workers are so persistent that he eventually has to give in and put her on the stretcher. And since she’s already pretending to be passed out, Shin-young can’t do a thing but play dead and get hauled out of the club in the most publicly embarrassing fashion. Hilariously, as soon as they are out the door, she sits right up and jumps off the stretcher, clearly sober enough to get her own taxi. Oh, the things a girl will do for a piggyback ride.

Sang-woo is waiting outside Shin-young’s apartment, but a security officer mistakes him for a stalker and chases him away just as Shin-young is arriving. She watches all this happen and hides out of sight, grateful that she doesn’t have to show up in front of him alone after her big declaration that she would arrive home on the back of Ha Min-jae.

The next day, Ban-seok and Min-jae are at the gym, and Ban-seok argues that the picture he was sent as “proof” of the bet was nothing of the sort. The picture is of course blurry because Shin-young was busy leaning into Min-jae in her fake-drunken flirting.

Min-jae insists that it’s her, calling her “Shin-young ssi,” which makes Ban-seok think that Min-jae has real feelings for her, and that the bet is just an excuse. (In Korean, omitting last names and adding “ssi” is a more familiar way of addressing someone. It’s not overly friendly but in this case it’s more striking because of the gap in their ages. It is highly unusual for someone of Min-jae’s age to address someone of Shin-young’s age by her first name like that.)

Ban-seok says he’ll be disappointed if Shin-young passes over a catch like himself, for a kid like Min-jae. I think that sentiment has more to do with Ban-seok’s issues with self-esteem, and less to do with any real feelings for Shin-young. Min-jae, on the other hand, takes offense and gets really serious: “Hyung, you’ve got all those years under your belt and you don’t know this? Love isn’t something a person can control.”

Ban-seok scoffs at his arrogance and asks what he’s planning to do if Shin-young does really fall in love with him. “Are you going to say, sorry, it was all a bet?” Min-jae replies offhandedly that he’ll just decide that later when the time comes. Ban-seok, in disbelief, cries, “After she’s completely fallen for you?” Min-jae replies, “After she falls so deep she can’t swim back out.” Ban-seok’s jaw drops at this response and calls Min-jae a rotten bastard.

The same morning in the girls’ apartment, Da-jung sets a lovely breakfast table for two. Shin-young drags herself out of bed and I have to say, I do enjoy that these women are always styled realistically according to the scenes. Of course, they have plenty of fashion eye candy a la Sex and the City, with lovely shoes to boot, and it doesn’t have to be fan-wanked because these characters are successful thirty-something women who can afford nice clothes.

But the part I really like is that when they’re at home, they wear silly cute pajamas and tie their hair back and wear less makeup. They’re not afraid to look like real women do at home with their girlfriends.

Shin-young wonders what the breakfast is for, and Da-jung replies that she likes to do these things; she just doesn’t have a husband to do them for. Da-jung asks if Shin-young came home on her own two feet, and when Shin-young says that she did get carried for a short while, Da-jung asks excitedly, “How was it?” Shin-young, “It was nice.” Da-jung wonders, “What happens if you end up dating for real?” Shin-young doesn’t even give it a second thought, “No, that’s not what this is. It’s not like he’s one or two years my junior.”

Da-jung, ever the love optimist, cites Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher as an example of a sixteen-year age gap. “If she did it, why can’t you?” She then amends her advice, “You should date both Sang-woo and Min-jae.” Shin-young realizes of course that this is not about her, and asks, “Is this because of your bad blind date?” Da-jung says that she’s decided on a wedding date: October 22. She’s planned the entire wedding down to the smallest details and now all she needs is a man.

And this is Shin-young’s reply:

Shin-young says, “You don’t even need a man. You’ve got all the details planned. We could just get together and have the wedding.” At this, Da-jung takes back her imaginary plan to let Shin-young catch the bouquet. HA.

Da-jung decides that maybe she’s just too perfect to get a man. She considers showing some of her less admirable qualities to men in the future. The funniest thing about this character is that she’s perfectly serious about all these things.

Just then, Bu-ki arrives in a panic, newspaper in hand.

It turns out that someone got the jump on the musician story that was supposed to be the centerpiece of Shin-young’s new program. Her boss rips her a new one for not handing the story over to the nine o’clock news. Shin-young asks for another chance to re-record the pilot, but boss man cancels the whole thing instead.

On top of that, Shin-young’s evil sunbae, the one with Cruella DeVille hair whose name escapes me at the moment, tells her thanks because they gave her timeslot to him for a live news program. The smug soul-crusher twists the knife further, “When are you getting married?” Oh yeah? When are you going to take that smug grin off your smug face? Puppy killer!

…Is what I wish Shin-young had said. But she walks away, tears brimming in her eyes.

Then we get an awesome quiet little scene that really made me love this character. Shin-young cries alone in a bathroom stall, but not in a woe-as-me, my-life-is-over kind of way. She just silently lets the tears go, then decides she has to get it together and stops.

There’s something so mundane and real about crying in a bathroom stall over a work issue, and having to push down your emotions because you’re at work and you’re an adult. And least of all do you want anyone calling you out for being a WOMAN and crying at work. It’s a double whammy.

She then takes out a pen and makes a mark on the stall, saying, “In ten years, I’ve cried a lot.” And we see that she’s marked down every time she’s had to cry at work, faded from all the years past. She then puts her hand over them and tells herself, “It’s okay. If I’m going to fill this wall, I’ve got a long way to go.”

The scene is nice because it’s not over-the-top or saccharine; it’s a small visual way to show us that she’s a woman who’s put in ten hard years to get to where she is, and that she isn’t entitled or flighty. She has built her station in life through hard work, which makes me respect her and care more about her work storylines, making them more grounded in who she is as a character.

It turns out that there’s someone in the stall next to hers, so she bolts out of the ladies room. Min-jae is waiting for her out in the hallway, and he comes bounding up, newspaper in hand.

He asks what happened, and if she’s been crying because she lost the story. Shin-young denies crying and apologizes to Min-jae for losing the story that he found for her. Min-jae asks if she got home alright the night before, and offers to take her out to dinner to make her feel better.

Shin-young agrees to the date. In the middle of this conversation, Shin-young starts using informal speech (banmal) interspersed here and there. It’s not consistent, because she still uses formal language half the time, but it’s clear that she’s starting to cut her phrases here and there, acting more familiar with Min-jae.

Min-jae then makes her promise not to lose any more stories, and if she loses stories, not to cry over them. He holds out his pinky…

Shin-young looks at him like she’s trying to figure out if he’s serious, then smiles and looks touched by the gesture. She goes in for the pinky swear.

Then, pinkies hooked, Min-jae teases that with her red nose she looks like an alcoholic old maid. She promptly breaks the pinky hold and stomps off, leaving Min-jae laughing good-naturedly in the hallway. She stops and looks back at him, and Min-jae is just standing there, smiling at her. She walks off, confused because she can’t quite figure this guy out.

It’s strange that this drama makes such a moment out of the pinky swear, as this is neither their first nor their most intimate skinship of the episode. I prefer this couple when their interactions are less hammered in by the editing. See? How there’s chemistry? Yeah, I see that. I get it. And I’m going to lose it if you keep trying to show me.

I actually really like this couple, so I’m hoping we’ll move past this beyond the initial flirting stages, because I don’t think we need any convincing that these two are cute and sweet and right for each other. So the hammering is a small gripe that probably will never go away in kdrama land. It’s like asking for pink elephants at a strictly blue elephant zoo.

The delightful Da-jung has a rough day at work, so she comes home and drinks, leading to a funny little nightmare where she and Shin-young are old ladies, still single and living together. She wakes up crying, and blubbers to Shin-young, asking why there are no men who love her.

Shin-young, ever the realist, says technically, “It’s not that there are no men who love you. It’s that there are no tall, well-educated, not-firstborn, good-looking men who speak with no accent and have large apartments, who love you.” To which Da-jung spits back, “That’s the same thing!”

I just…love her. I can’t even tell you why. I don’t see eye to eye with Da-jung on anything, but there’s just something so quirky and endearing about this character. She’s highly educated, publicly successful in her career, the envy of all young women, yet she’s placing all her worth and happiness on the kind of man who might marry her.

I think Da-jung is interesting because she calls attention to the false dichotomy that all women tend to believe, in Korea and everywhere else, that you have to choose one or the other. Career or a man. You can’t have both. There’s no such thing as having it all.

Which is just ludicrous, of course, because they are not mutually exclusive. But Shin-young and particularly Da-jung both struggle with this, believing that they have to choose one, and that by succeeding in their careers, (or putting forth the effort in Shin-young’s case) they have in essence chosen to forfeit happy marriages.

I think this is a real concern for my generation and beyond, as we have spent our twenties as single career-oriented people, who then find ourselves in our thirties without having invested the same kind of effort into finding a partner. “Oh crap!” we say, and then in a moment of weakness, we let the voices of our mothers creep in. And if your mom is Korean, and you just turned thirty, say yesterday, then y’all know what I’m talking about. My ears are still ringing. Happy birthday to me!

Anyhoo, I digress. That day at work, Shin-young comes across Min-jae rehearsing in the recording studio. She sneaks a peek at him, and it’s clear that she’s drawn to him, even if she still thinks of him as a kid.

He takes a break to chat with her, and they agree to call each other later that night for their dinner date. Shin-young considers it a friendly meal, whereas Min-jae insists on calling it a date, asking if she got dolled up just for him. She calls him an arrogant kid, as he steals a sip of her coffee, getting her lipstick on his own lips. He says adorably, “This means we’ve kissed. Are you going to take responsibility for me?”

Come on, that’s cute. I think this is my favorite of Kim Bum’s roles because it’s actually perfect for his in-between-ness. He’s kind of a freakish man-child, albeit in a totally adorable way. And Min-jae is the same, too old to fit in at school with younger kids, too young to be taken seriously by Shin-young, old enough to be considered attractive, but young enough to play games without malicious intent. I agree with javabeans that his playboy role in BBF was laughable, but here I think the mask of worldliness against his actual naivete is perfect.

Later that day Shin-young chases down a new story, this time involving a woman who was beaten up by her drunk boyfriend at a club. But the boyfriend happens to be a congressman, who covered up the scandal with money, making this a huge deal if she can score an interview with the woman. Shin-young tries to convince her to do the interview, to no avail.

After spending the day camped out in front of the victim’s house with zero results, Shin-young goes to visit Bu-ki at her latest restaurant project. While the two friends are having coffee, Bu-ki’s phone rings but she ignores the call. She admits to dating a really great guy, prompting Shin-young to ask why she isn’t taking his calls. Bu-ki answers matter-of-factly, “Because he has a wife.”

Bu-ki, going one step further into crazytown, tells Shin-young that she’s planning on meeting this wife and telling her that her husband is going around town pretending to be a bachelor. Shin-young, agreeing with my assessment, calls her insane and tells her to drop it.

But Bu-ki is having none of that. She likes this woman, apparently, and is determined to enlighten her in the ways of Bu-ki. Fascinating, this character. She went through such a dramatic transformation from slavish girlfriend to independent woman of the world, that she’s made it her mission in life to free the other slaves.

We get a rather long introduction to the wife, Sang-mi, (including latin dance no less) which makes me think she is more important than just the wife of a random boyfriend. Bu-ki finds her at a dance studio and confronts her, calm and cool, as if to say, “Isn’t the weather nice today,” but instead the words are more like, “Your husband is a philanderer and he is in love with me.” Nutty, this girl.

So naturally Bu-ki gets her hair ripped out, right? Nope. The woman, although shocked, stays outwardly as calm and collected as Bu-ki. And then she goes along with Bu-ki’s plan to give her a wreath of flowers, which Bu-ki will give to the husband, to be returned to the wife as some sort of proof of his infidelity. Why such elaborate games, people? Wouldn’t a three-way phone call suffice?

Shin-young returns home only to find Sang-woo waiting for her outside her building again. She tells him to stop stalking her, but he drags her along to look at apartments, as he is trying to move into her neighborhood. Shin-young complains but does let herself get dragged along, so it’s clear she doesn’t hate the guy.

Sang-woo says he wants to return to their college days. Shin-young tells him to go back by himself and stay there forever. Sang-woo doesn’t understand how she can dismiss him so blatantly. Basically he implies that she’s getting on in years and shouldn’t be passing up the chance to be with him.

That, of course, sparks Shin-young’s anger, “Women have changed a lot, you know. We don’t give in to anyone who comes along, just because we’re getting older.” He begins to wonder if she was telling the truth about dating Ha Min-jae. Clearly lying to save face, Shin-young says that she IS dating Min-jae, and that she’ll introduce them soon.

Later that night, Shin-young takes a nap and misses her dinner date with Min-jae. She calls to see if he still wants to go out, but he says they’ll go another time and hangs up, telling his bandmates that you sometimes have to play hard to get.

Sang-mi sits at home, waiting for her husband, aka Bu-ki’s boyfriend, to come home. He arrives, flowers in hand, saying that they’re a gift for her. Ruh-roh.

Sang-woo asks Da-jung to meet him, and he pleads with her to help him get Shin-young back. This is an odd friendship that’s forming between these two, but I like their chemistry, in a platonic way. They’re both completely self-involved but open and frank, so their interactions are funny.

After some kissing up and promising to introduce Da-jung to some good single men, Da-jung yields and invites Sang-woo to Bu-ki’s new restaurant opening.

Shin-young and Bu-ki are having dinner at Bu-ki’s apartment, when Da-jung arrives all aflutter. The girls assume that she’s been drinking, because she falls flat on her face when she walks in, but she’s so happy that it doesn’t even phase her.

“I’ve finally met him; the man I’m destined to be with,” Da-jung swoons. The girls try to talk some sense into her, but Da-jung won’t hear it. They concede she should bring this new guy to the restaurant opening.

I think the following image sums up Da-jung’s relationship to the other two women perfectly:

In a nice little moment, we see that Min-jae’s plan to play hard to get hasn’t really worked. He checks his phone every few minutes to see if Shin-young has called, and he finally caves and texts her first. He tries to reschedule their dinner date for tonight, but Shin-young says that she’ll be out all night in front of the congressman’s girlfriend’s house, trying to convince her to do the interview.

Shin-young runs around in the street and does jumping jacks to keep warm in the freezing cold. Min-jae calls. She answers, “Hello? Hello?” After a pause Min-jae asks, “Don’t you have my number saved? Then why don’t you answer, “Min-jae ssi” instead? I’m going to call back.”

He actually hangs up and calls back. Heh. This time Shin-young answers, “HA Min-jae ssi.” Displeased with that, he says, “No, JUST Min-jae ssi. I’m going to call back.” She’s exasperated but catches on that he’s going to keep doing this until she says the right thing, so the third time she answers in a flirty tone, “Min-jae ssi,” putting a smile on his face.

This interaction is telling because even though it’s clear he enjoys messing with her, Min-jae also really wants to be acknowledged as an equal and a potential romantic partner rather than just a kid. Shin-young doesn’t give a second thought to the way she addresses him, but Min-jae seems hyper-aware of what they call each other.

Shin-young continues to stubbornly wait for the abuse victim to change her mind, trying to stay warm and pass the time. After a while, Min-jae shows up, care package in hand.

He’s brought her earmuffs, hot coffee, and sweet potatoes, which Shin-young finds thoughtful and sweet. Min-jae tells her to warm up first, and thaws her face in his hands.

It’s clear that Shin-young is touched at his gesture, and when he’s holding her face there’s a momentary flicker in her eyes that spells, “I’m going to have a hard time not falling in love with you.”

Min-jae is all kinds of sweetness in this scene. He’s disappointed that the sweet potatoes he bought have gotten cold, so he comes back with the whole sweet potato cart and ahjusshi in tow. Worried that Shin-young is cold, he wraps half of his giant scarf around her, and they wait by the sweet potatoes, sharing a scarf.

Min-jae flirts pretty boldly with Shin-young, calling himself her oppa, and calling her “Shin-young ssi” to her face. She tells him not to call her that, prompting him to take it a step further and call her “Shin-young ah,” like he would to someone younger than himself. She sneers, “You have no manners.” Min-jae counters, “You like it, on the inside.”

Upon hearing the reason why they’re standing in the freezing cold in front of this woman’s house, Min-jae steps up to help convince the woman that doing the interview is the right thing to do. By now Shin-young is completely impressed with this kid. He not only came to cheer her on, but actually helps her score the interview. We see that she starts to let herself feel something, maybe for the first time since Sang-woo.

Shin-young (voiceover): ” As if recovering from amnesia
As if memories are being released
This feeling sweeps over me
This is what dating is
This is what excitement is
Blood circulates and the heart skips a beat
The feeling that spring is coming
Wanting a change of heart
Why do I happen to feel this way
Here, today, standing next to this kid?
This kid here next to me
The fear that I might see him as a man
The feeling of dating again after a hundred years
This is Lee Shin-young”

Just then, Shin-young gets a call from the woman, agreeing to do the interview the next day. They hug each other excitedly and Min-jae takes this opportunity to snap a picture…

…which of course he sends straightaway to the dumbfounded Ban-seok.

I don’t know how I feel about the bet between Ban-seok and Min-jae, only because I don’t know how crucial it is as a story point. I think it’s an initiator for Min-jae to pursue Shin-young, but we could have done without it. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s going to factor in greatly because both Min-jae’s and Shin-young’s actions seem calculated, rather than based on a fundamental lie, like Coffee Prince or some other GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING plot point that is looming ahead. This bet feels different because it doesn’t feel very serious, but who knows where they’re going to take it. I hope this drama sticks with the lightness and veers away from the “What was I to you? Just a bet?!” storyline.

Later that week, Da-jung and Shin-young are trying on various dresses for Bu-ki’s restaurant opening, when the police come barging in to take Da-jung down to the station. She gets hauled away, then comes back, mortified that she got her hair ripped out. The other girls assume she means that her boyfriend is married and she got her hair pulled out by his wife. As it turns out, no, her new boyfriend is a drug dealer and she got her hair pulled by the cops for a drug test. HA.

In an attempt to make Da-jung feel better, the girls spend the day at the salon getting scalp treatments to grow back more hair.

Of course, as with all things Da-jung, fire, mayhem, and hilarity ensue.

We finally get to the party at Bu-ki’s latest restaurant, and Min-jae is there waiting for Shin-young. They greet each other with excitement over being dolled up, and Shin-young actually makes a “YOW!” sound at Min-jae that makes me love her. Oh, like you wouldn’t squee at Bummie.

Can we talk about how hot these two look here? Just marvel in silence, you say? Okay then.

Shin-young is impressed at how nicely Min-jae cleans up. He claims it’s because he’s meeting her friends tonight so he wants to make a good impression. Right. Just like how Shin-young is in no way wearing a hot pink minidress for your benefit. You silly kids.

Sang-woo is already at the party and sees Shin-young and Min-jae across the room. Upon seeing Sang-woo, Shin-young immediately cozies up to Min-jae and plays up their closeness.

Sang-woo proceeds to get drunk, while Shin-young continues to lay it on. She asks Min-jae to play along with her if she acts close to him. “Aren’t we close?” he asks. She wonders if they are, and asks him to just play along even if she acts friendlier than they already are. He challenges her to do so. When she hesitates, Min-jae leans in, kissing distance, making her nervous. “Not to THAT extent,” she laughs nervously. He puts his arm around her this time, which Shin-young approves of.

This is a moment of weakness for Shin-young, as she is clearly using Min-jae to get revenge on Sang-woo, even if she won’t admit it. She insists to her friends that she is only showing off Min-jae to get Sang-woo to stop stalking her, but she’s going to great lengths to make it hurt.

But while I disapprove of what Shin-young is doing as a person, I like it as a moment of character development. There’s something so irresistible about this scenario. It is probably a universal revenge fantasy to show up to a party dressed like a rock star, on the arm of the hottest guy/girl there, only to run into your ex who dumped you cold. There’s no doubt I would do the same thing if I were in her shoes. But I have a feeling that none of these characters are going to leave this party unscathed.

And, here comes the kicker. Min-jae has just won a game of darts with Shin-young, and wonders if there isn’t some sort of prize. He flirts with her that she got permission to act close to him, but hasn’t cashed in on that yet. He declares, “The winner gets to do whatever he wants,” and leans in for a kiss…

…with everyone watching.

Shin-young is taken aback but doesn’t pull away. Instead she closes her eyes, anticipating the kiss…

…and after hovering near her lips, Min-jae smiles to himself and turns his head to kiss her on the cheek.

AAAACK. That cheeky bastard! Well, now I’m confused about how much of a player this guy is. What really hurts my head at this stage is that both Shin-young and Min-jae are using each other for something selfish, but both are experiencing genuine feelings arising out of these calculated moves.

What I like about the pairing is that both the man and the woman are doing this to each other, and I think it’s shaping up that Shin-young is as much a player as Min-jae is. If you think about it, she has more experience dating, and even though Min-jae would like to think he has the upper hand here, I actually think that Shin-young does.

Moreover, I think we’ll come to find that Min-jae is far more vulnerable than he’s letting on, and that Shin-young is using her career and Min-jae’s age to guard herself against getting hurt again. We’ve got some good relationship ground to mine here.

Well, thanks for coming along for the ride, if you managed to make it through all my ramblings. Thanks again to javabeans for letting me guest blog for my home away from home, Dramabeans. See you at Episode 7. girlfriday, signing out.

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41 February 13, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 6

by javabeans

When I started watching The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry, I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun and amusing and better than expected. With Episode 5, though, that feeling grew and I started sensing that emotional pull, that excitement building that goes beyond mere entertainment. There are some dramas you enjoy as a light watch, and there are others that make a connection, and with Episodes 5 and 6, I started to feel it.

SONG OF THE DAY

Rumble Fish – “좋은 사람 있으면 소개시켜줘” (If you know a nice man, introduce me) This is the song Da-jung sings in this episode. It’s actually an old Basis hit from the ’90s (who remembers??), but has been remade several times. (Here’s the original and the cutesy, kpoppy Go Ho-kyung version.)
[ Download ]

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EPISODE 6 RECAP

Backtracking a bit from the party that ended the previous episode, Ban-seok tries on suits and surveys his reflection with satisfaction, asking, “Why don’t the women recognize a great guy like me?” He gets his answer a moment later when Min-jae steps out of a dressing room, dressed to the nines. Upstaged! Ban-seok grumbles that a student like Min-jae has no need for such clothes.

Min-jae enjoys talking up his relationship with Shin-young, dropping the info that he has been invited to her friend’s restaurant opening — she must want to introduce him to her friends (read: she’s showing me off, booyah!). Ban-seok asks why Min-jae’s bothering to buy clothes or go out on dates when he’s planning on dropping Shin-young as soon as he wins his bet. Min-jae evades the question by answering that this is just an excuse to buy new clothes.

Now we catch up to the party, as Min-jae kisses Shin-young on the cheek. He retrieves the darts from the board and says, “If you lose the next round, I’ll do it for real.” Shin-young looks a little disappointed at the cheek-kiss and throws darts restlessly.

Sang-woo walks up purposefully and introduces himself as Shin-young’s friend with an aggressive air — both Shin-young and Min-jae half-expect him to let fly a punch when he removes his jacket and rolls up his sleeves.

But instead, Sang-woo flexes his bicep and says he’s a fan, and asks for Min-jae’s autograph. Despite the civil words, an undercurrent of male challenge runs through this conversation. Min-jae signs Sang-woo’s arm unenthusiastically, while Shin-young kicks Sang-woo for being impolite. She also overcompensates by laughing too much and too loudly before leading Min-jae away.

As they walk home, Min-jae guesses that Sang-woo likes her, based on the way he was glaring. Does Shin-young return the interest? She says no and admits that he’s actually an ex with whom she’d once discussed marriage. Now he wants her back.

Min-jae has been in a sober mood since leaving the party and now asks, “Is that why you wanted to act close with me? To get rid of him?” He suggests that she date Sang-woo again, since he seemed like a nice guy (and he seems to be looking for signs that she’s still into her ex). Shin-young thanks Min-jae for his help, answering that her love has run its course and that Sang-woo is likely to back off now..

Arriving outside her place, Shin-young offers to drive Min-jae home, but he declines. She starts to press, but he tells her frankly, “Right now I’m in a bad mood because of you. Let me go home alone. I’ll call you.”

The next morning, Da-jung has an announcement: She has decided not to marry. Naturally the other two laugh incredulously, but she has decided that Heaven is toying with her because she wants it so badly. Therefore, she’ll give up on the hope and work on her career.

Bu-ki comments that it seems Min-jae really likes Shin-young, who admits, “Actually, I’m attracted to him too. My heart races and flutters. I wonder if I’ll run into him at the station, and I fuss over what to wear to work. Am I crazy? How could I feel all this about him?”

Clearly she is hung up on the social difficulties of dating someone a decade younger, but Bu-ki chides her for overthinking it — she should just let herself fall in love. When Da-jung protests that at their age they should be more thoughtful, Bu-ki sighs, eyeing each friend in turn: “One only wants what she can’t have, and the other can’t even open the gift she’s been given.”

Evil shifty sunbae Myung-seok congratulates Shin-young and her team for scoring their latest interview with the politician’s girlfriend. Naturally, praise coming from such a scumbag makes her team uneasy.

Shin-young perks up at the approach of Min-jae and his entourage of musicians, standing to greet him. However, he’s been feeling perturbed ever since the encounter with Sang-woo and continues on his way without acknowledging her.

Puzzled over his avoidance, Shin-young asks her colleagues for advice, outlining her situation but attributing it to “a friend.” Rather than siding with her, they call the friend crazy — how could she ask the younger manfriend to fake closeness just to put off the ex? If manboy had real feelings for her, her behavior would have been especially rude and he probably felt used.

Mulling that over, Shin-young loiters around the music room, where Min-jae finds her and asks, “Did you come because you wanted to see me?” She answers yes, and that answer helps ease his reaction — although still subdued, a hint of his flirtiness returns to his voice. Shin-young clocks his reaction and asks, “I guess you do like me then.” He answers candidly, “I must like you a lot.”

She apologizes for hurting his feelings last night and offers to buy dinner tonight. When he answers that he’s busy, she urges him not to play hard to get — but before he can respond, her attention is diverted: the politician (and girlfriend-beater) is talking to Myung-seok. Hit with a hunch, she hurries off to confirm it, leaving Min-jae hanging. He wonders, “Is she a player?”

Alas, her reaction is driven by something more dire than mere romantic gamesmanship: Shin-young discovers that Assemblyman Park is here for an interview on Myung-seok’s live program. Not only has Myung-seok sniffed out her story, he’s one-upped her by scoring an interview with the bigger fish and rendering Shin-young’s interview moot. He had warned the assemblyman that another reporter was planning to air an interview with the battered girlfriend, and promised that he’d be able to kill rumors from spreading if the assemblyman appeared on his program.

Shin-young goes to her boss, the station’s deputy director, and asks him to move up her interview asap. The director says that he’ll reschedule her program, but they’ll have to kill her interview.

Shin-young wasn’t born yesterday, and she hits upon the truth: The director put her up to this from the start, didn’t he? He dropped the battered girlfriend story in her lap and pushed her to get the interview. He had never intended to air it, planning instead to use that as bait to score the assemblyman’s interview.

The director isn’t malicious (unlike Myung-seok) but purely pragmatic, knowing where his bread is buttered. In exchange for this unfair treatment (or in appeasement, more like), he agrees move up her pilot program.

She confronts Myung-seok, who is prepping for his live interview. She stares at him for long moments, which makes him wary and prompts him to speak first. He offers some “friendly” advice, saying that even if she swears on the inside to get back at him, but the best thing for her to do right now is to stay quiet. Surprisingly, Shin-young gives him her tapes of the girlfriend’s interview, which delights him. Finally, she’s learned “teamwork” and thought of the station first!

I freaking LOVE Shin-young’s response because it’s so succinct and witty: she merely hands him a plastic bag and suggests he eat the contents before his broadcast. When he opens the bag, he sees the traditional yeot candy and understands the message. (“Eat yeot” is a slang way of saying “Fuck you.”)

Shin-young’s team watches the interview with bitter spirits. Min-jae sees the broadcast playing on a hallway television and realizes that Shin-young has been scooped, and bursts into her office to ask what happened. Frustrated with her resigned response, he raises his voice — is she going to just take it? She should get online asap and leak the girlfriend’s interview.

Shin-young sighs, “You’re still young, Ha Min-jae.” Incensed, Min-jae storms out, vowing to burst into the live broadcast to screw up the interview. Shin-young chases him out to stop him.

Shin-young: “Okay, you’re the only one who’s righteous. You’re the only one with courage. I know this situation is screwed up, but I’ve experienced much more upsetting things. You must want to ask why I don’t resign. Live a little more. Then you’ll know.”
Min-jae: “Are you that scared?”
Shin-young: “I am. I want to resign right now too, but then I think of what I’ll have to do tomorrow and it scares me. Why wouldn’t I feel wronged? Live a little more, Ha Min-jae. You’ll find there are times when you’ll have to bow your head humbly.”

Hearing about the deputy director’s appeasement, he asks if that’s why she is just accepting this (with a hint of judgment). He says, “Must be nice to be older.” She says, “Must be nice to be young.”

Shin-young has another visitor and has to face the battered girlfriend regretfully. She starts to apologize about the interview being killed. After all that persuasive talk about empowering other battered women, the victim understandably feels misused, and throws a glass of water in her face. With scathing words — “You’re just like him” — she leaves.

Going out for drinks, Shin-young’s co-workers urge her to cheer up — rather than thinking of quitting, she should think realistically. They should look ahead to their pilot broadcast and do a killer job.

Out of nowhere, Min-jae’s voice cuts in, saying, “I don’t understand people who drink when they’re upset.” Shin-young retorts, “Then should I dance?” Min-jae says, “Yeah, let’s dance instead.” Grabbing her hand, he leads her away, not letting up on his hold until they arrive at an outdoor ice rink.

Shin-young protests as he laces her into skates, not in the mood for festive activities. He overrides her, saying cheerily that he hid her shoes, and leads her onto the ice. Despite her depressed mood, his energy is infectious, and Shin-young starts to feel her mood lighten.

A photographer calls the couple over to take a photo together, calling Min-jae “student” and referring to Shin-young as his pretty girlfriend. He compliments them as a great-looking couple and says they must be the same age.


On the ice, Shin-young takes a few lingering looks at Min-jae as he helps her skate. At one point he lets go of her, causing her to flail wildly. They end up falling onto the ice, and Shin-young lands on top of him.

At their close proximity, an awareness grows between them as he asks, “Did you hear him call you my girlfriend? And that we were the same age?” And then he breaks the spell by laughing, “Ah, do I look that old? I’d better take care of myself.”

Once home, Min-jae frames the photo and places it on his nightstand by the bed. Shin-young tosses her copy in her nightstand drawer.

This is telling of their dynamic: despite the flirty, easy vibe that Min-jae projects, he’s more invested in this relationship than Shin-young. Or, to put it another way, he’s more willing to jump into it. She, being older, is tripped up by concerns outside of mere attraction — age, propriety, future, etc.

Bu-ki waits in a cafe for Sang-mi, per their “bet” regarding the adulterous husband. Sang-mi lies and says that her husband didn’t give her the flowers, and strives to answer Bu-ki’s questions in a cool, detached manner. For instance, she says that she knows about her husband’s infidelity but didn’t confront him about it “because it’s inconvenient.” Even when Bu-ki speaks to her frankly, letting her know that she is aware Sang-mi is lying, she sticks to her stance that her husband’s adultery not worth taking a stand on.

Bu-ki was first tipped off that the husband — who was passing himself off as single — was married because his shirts were so clean and pressed. As a sympathetic parting comment, she advises Sang-mi not to iron so diligently.

When Bu-ki heads to her car, she’s accosted by a group of mean, somewhat vulgar ajummas who accuse her of being the Other Woman. Facing her spitefully, they advance and prepare to rip out her hair.

However, Bu-ki is more than able to defend herself, and it’s the ajummas who end up shoved away. Understanding that these are Sang-mi’s friends, Bu-ki calls the woman out to confront her about setting a trap for her.

Bu-ki had given Sang-mi credit for being more honorable than that, and asserts that she didn’t have an affair with the husband, so she doesn’t deserve this treatment. Furthermore, she only told Sang-mi the truth out of a feeling of solidarity, because she liked her. She offers Sang-mi her card and tells her to contact her if she wants. Or not.

Based on Sang-mi’s distraught reaction as she walks away, it seems likely that she isn’t really as cool as she had pretended, and that her detached attitude was more for Bu-ki’s benefit.

Da-jung may have sworn off marriage but she can’t resist a tip offered by a colleague. The woman had similar trouble dating but has recently found herself a boyfriend, and shares a tried-and-true secret method for meeting a boyfriend.

Unable to pass up this tip, Da-jung immediately tries it out: she goes to a noraebang and proceeds to sing one song on repeat, 22 times within an hour. The title of the song (posted up top) is “If you meet a good man, introduce me.”

She then departs on her business trip to London. Her flight, piloted by Sang-woo, also carries Ban-seok on his way to the same seminar. When the flight attendant asks if there is a doctor in the house, he presents himself and helps an ill passenger suffering severe chest pains, brought about by an extreme bout of indigestion.

However, Da-jung remains sleeping through the episode, only waking in time to see Ban-seok being applauded by the passengers.

At the seminar, Ban-seok listens to the translations provided by Da-jung, attracted to the lovely voice. He cranes his neck for a glimpse of the interpreter, curious whether the woman is as pretty as her voice. The moment he gets a glimpse of Da-jung, he’s smitten.

He hovers for an opening, and finds it when Da-jung grimaces, apparently feeling some indigestion issues herself. He administers a quick acupuncture treatment, which clears up her pains quickly. She thanks him politely, and when Ban-seok returns to his seat, he dozes and dreams of her. Dream Da-jung coos, “I’m all better now. I respect you sooooo much!” and she does the patented oppa-pout-wiggle (well, without the “oppa” part — but the pout-wiggle is more than effective).

Ban-seok loiters at the end of the day for another opportunity to talk with her. With his usual stiff and awkward way, he fishes for conversation topics. When he comments on the size of the room, Da-jung realizes he’s trying to make an advance, and gives him a surreptitious once-over. Nice shoes. Crisp suit. Ringless left hand. All signs point to go.

When he asks her out to dinner, she declines due to a prior engagement. His attempt to give her his card is thwarted because he has run out, but to his glee, she gives him hers.

When Ban-seok returns to Korea, he visits Min-jae and exults that he found a wonderful woman without Min-jae’s coaching. Spotting the new photo of Min-jae and Shin-young bedside, he warns Min-jae to put it away — what if his mother sees it? She’d surely kick up a fuss, especially when it’s evident how much older the woman is. Thinking it’s still just a game, he warns Min-jae to end the relationship now.

Sang-mi takes out her frustrations in her dance studio (she appears to teach Latin dance), and explains to her partner that at least she’s able to pour all her emotions into dancing — hurt, betrayal, and the feeling that “All that’s left to my life is enduring.”

There’s a nice wordless sequence at the grocery store, where Sang-mi dully goes through the aisles grabbing junk food and wine without discrimination. (Who hasn’t been there, right?) Her mental fatigue and attitude of “Screw it, I give up” is palpable. At the checkout, however, she changes her mind, heads back to the aisles, and returns the junk food to the shelves. Halfway through the process, she’s overcome with frustration and leaves the cart behind, exiting the store empty-handed.

Grabbing a taxi, she thinks of a destination to tell the driver, but realizes, “There’s no place I want to go.”

Thus it is that Sang-mi ends up at Bu-ki’s restaurant, where the latter invites her to sit for some coffee. Sang-mi admits that her husband did give her Bu-ki’s flowers. Bu-ki is sympathetic but perhaps overdoes the friendliness as she invites Sang-mi to participate in the restaurant’s upcoming cooking classes, and suggests they have drinks sometime, even offering to share her own story about her broken engagement. Not that friendliness is wrong, but it’s like Bu-ki crosses a line, and Sang-mi asks, “Why do you have to tell me that story? Because you feel sorry for me?”

The conversation turns to the question of turning back time — would you redo a particular moment if that were possible? Bu-ki is content with her life and wouldn’t turn back time, but Sang-mi’s answer is less sanguine. She’d go back to her first night with her husband, because her pregnancy was the only reason they married. Now she has a 24-year-old son who is her only hope.

Bu-ki marvels that she could have a son that age, since her friend is dating a 24-year-old. (This has got to be a Big Flashing Clue: Sang-mi must be Min-jae’s mother no?) Bu-ki advises the woman not to place her hope in others.

Still wary of Bu-ki’s friendly overtures, Sang-mi tells her not to force herself to act like she likes her. Bu-ki returns, “I know you like me. Don’t force yourself to push me away.”

Min-jae’s program holds its first recording, and Shin-young drops by the studio to watch him perform. She thinks:

Shin-young: “If time were to stop for me and speed by for him so that tomorrow morning we were the same age, how would that be? I don’t want to return to his age. How could I experience everything again? I like my age right now. It’s just that there isn’t a man who will embrace this age, and I’m afraid of being attracted to him. My age isn’t a sin. I didn’t know I’d feel such nervous excitement at this age. Feeling dizzy after having lost this sensation of dating, this is Lee Shin-young.”

(Note that Shin-young always signs off her voiceovers with the phrase “This is Lee Shin-young,” which is meant to mirror a reporter’s sendoff when wrapping up a news report.)

Shin-young and Bu-ki had made plans to go to the sauna for a steam session, but Bu-ki runs into last-minute work issues. Instead, she brings home a personal steam machine, which she urges Shin-young to use. Of course, when Shin-young puts it together, she sees that it’s a BUTT STEAMER! HAHAHAHA. (Which sounds dirty, I know.)

Da-jung, meanwhile, hits it off with Ban-seok on a dinner date. They have tons in common, and the more they talk, the more they like about each other. For instance, both prefer their makgulli (unfiltered rice wine) unshaken, which is not the usual way of drinking it. Da-jung is pleased to hear that he’s a second son, since she has sworn off eldest ones. (There are few reasons she may dislike eldest sons, among them the fact that first sons have more responsibilities to the family. Therefore their wives are held up to more exacting standards than wives of younger sons. Most importantly, first sons take care of their parents in old age and often live in the same household. Not a modern career woman’s favorite way to live.)

They even share the same opinions on relationships with younger men dating older women. Ban-seok vaguely refers to his friend who is dating an older women purely because of a bet, and Da-jung shares Ban-seok’s outrage. When she comments that your mate is the only family member you can choose, Ban-seok excitedly points out that he has said that very thing repeatedly. When she suggests that they go to a spaghetti restaurant next time, he practically bounces himself out of his chair, because it’s also something he was thinking.

On the taxi ride to Da-jung’s place, both can hardly believe their good luck. As they say their goodbyes outside, Da-jung stumbles on the sidewalk.

And so it is that Ban-seok escorts Da-jung up to her apartment — where Shin-young sits on her butt-machine (heh) watching television. Recognizing each other, Ban-seok’s and Shin-young’s eyes widen in horror.

 
COMMENTS

Just a fun trivia note: I was wondering just how famous Min-jae was supposed to be — it’s like everyone has heard of him except Shin-young, so is he a star or not? Episode 5 cleared things up with two references to an artist who probably offers some basis for Min-jae: folk-indie sensation Jang Kiha. In case you’re not familiar, Jang Kiha blew up bigtime in 2009 after mostly enjoying smalltime fame in the local club scene. Min-jae is like the manchild stepbrother of Jang Kiha — similar indie cred, but with the pop-rock musical taste of FT Island. (The Episode 5 references: (1) Shin-young pulls up to a car of hipster-dorks rocking out to one of Jang Kiha’s songs, and (2) Da-jung fakes that she’s a fan of Min-jae by saying she loves his song “Cheap Coffee” — which is, of course, one of Jang Kiha’s hits.)

I appreciate the treatment of age in this drama. It’s not overplayed as an artificial obstacle; we’re not seeing people in love beating their chests because they can’t be together due to age. Rather, I find all the arguments valid and realistic, such as how Min-jae is full of youthful indignation over Shin-young’s sabotaged program and Shin-young’s response to it. She doesn’t negate his opinion entirely based on his age — it’s more nuanced than that. One gets the sense that Min-jae wants to be taken seriously as a man, without that asterisk by his name that always references his youth. However, it’s true that one who hasn’t experienced a certain life circumstance doesn’t have the same perspective as someone who has. There’s no judgment about his lack of life experience, and Shin-young doesn’t tell him to live more with a snotty tone. She’s just reminding him that she once knew the same youthful idealism, but that additional life experience has taught her that things are rarely so simple.

In that way, as girlfriday mentioned in the previous recap, it really does seem that Shin-young is the one in control of this relationship. She isn’t trying to wield age as an argument-winner, but if she’s not careful, she’ll push him away by relying upon it as an excuse. Min-jae will have to step it up by not letting her get away with it.

One thing working in Min-jae’s favor is his way of being open with his feelings, such as when he admits that he likes her. That’s a confession that would make most (or many) adults feel that they’ve put themselves in the weaker position, but Min-jae owns his feelings. In being so frank, he doesn’t give Shin-young the opportunity to play dating games with him — which, by contrast, is a role she naturally fell into with Ban-seok. (Btw, I’m not judging her for it; I think it was only natural that they were both following the societal script of how to date.) Maybe this will be what makes her work with Min-jae, because even if he is naive, he isn’t fettered by overthinking. More experienced adults may put up defenses as they encounter disappointments and pain, but Min-jae hasn’t got that wall.

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76 February 15, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episode 7

by girlfriday

This rollercoaster ride of an episode takes us from zero to sixty, then back again before we know it. It gave me some serious whiplash, but I’m a tv masochist, so you know I’ll be right back for more. We finally get some good conflict between the girls (they can’t be perfect roomies forever), and oh boy, do we get some great moments between Shin-young and Min-jae. Let the squeefest begin!

 
EPISODE 7 RECAP

Shin-young, having been stood up by Bu-ki for their sauna date, enjoys a home-version steam, which apparently consists of steaming your butt while wearing a shower curtain. Oh, Korean gadgets. You slay me.

So of course right at this instant, Da-jung and Ban-seok arrive home from their first date, all abuzz from rice wine and flirting. Can’t a girl just steam her butt in peace? Mortified, Shin-young pulls the shower curtain over her head and some Buster Keaton-esque slapstick ensues.

Also, honorable mention in the previous scene for Shin-young drinking her beer with a sippy straw. That? Is the girliest thing ever.

So Shin-young is now trapped in her room, and Da-jung, who is clearly drunk, invites Ban-seok to stay for tea, insisting that it would make Shin-young even more uncomfortable if he were to leave like this. There could only be two explanations for this crazy lapse in roommate etiquette: either Da-jung is so drunk as to impair all manner of judgment, or Da-jung was raised by wolves.

As Shin-young plots Da-jung’s murder and Ban-seok uncomfortably drinks his tea, Min-jae pops up on the television, performing a song for the music program at Shin-young’s station. Ban-seok claims Min-jae is his good friend, and Da-jung says she’s met him, which Ban-seok assumes means that she’s a fan. Methinks the degrees of separation are becoming uncomfortably few here.

Shin-young is still waiting it out, when she hears Min-jae’s voice coming from the other room. She presses her ear to the door and the look on her face…

…is moonbeams and butterflies. Min-jae, on the other hand, is not so pleased. He watches the performance on tv with his excited bandmates, while getting calls and texts all night from well-wishers. Only none of them are from the person he wants. Well maybe if your hyung hadn’t interrupted her butt steam, she would’ve had the wherewithal to text you a smiley face or something.

His bandmates tease Min-jae that he’s waiting for that reporter noona’s call, prompting Min-jae to say he doesn’t use the word “noona” when referring to women. This reinforces my assessment that Min-jae is very careful with his word choice concerning what he and Shin-young call each other. While other guys his age would call her “sunbae” or “noona” to become friendlier with her, Min-jae is trying his darnedest to close the age gap by talking to her like they’re the same age.

On another television across town, we see that Sang-mi is also watching Min-jae’s performance. Oh, she looks pissed. Guess your mom disapproves of your singing career, eh? (By the way, this mother-son relationship is still unconfirmed. But the anvils. Oh, the anvils.)

Back at the girls’ apartment, Da-jung finally sends Ban-seok on his way, as Bu-ki arrives. She can’t quite put her finger on it, but she swears he looks familiar. Just then, Shin-young roars into the living room, death beams aimed straight at Da-jung.

And this has to be said…Park Jin-hee is rocking my socks off in this episode. She can play Shin-young as alternately slapstick laugh-out-loud funny, and then completely vulnerable and emotionally real when she needs to be.

The girls fight, throwing blame back and forth in a shouty manner, as friends do. Bu-ki even gets blamed for bringing the butt steam contraption into the house, which just makes me chuckle. And then, it hits her. Bu-ki remembers where she’s seen Ban-seok before. He’s the chocolate guy!

You can just hear the wah-wah-wah of Da-jung’s deflating hopes and dreams. She dejectedly makes breakfast the next morning, musing that it can’t be; Ban-seok can’t be the same bumbling guy that they told Shin-young not to date. He can’t be chocolate guy!

Shin-young comes to breakfast in much better spirits than the night before, mostly because now Da-jung has also been taken down a peg. Da-jung follows Shin-young around their tiny kitchen, hovering over her and asking her if she’s really sure Ban-seok is the same guy, and asserting that it’s not like she’s stealing Shin-young’s man or anything since they only had the one chocolate encounter, to speak of.

Shin-young tells her to give it a go with Ban-seok. Their tone starts to get short and snippy; eventually each girl assumes the other is jealous of her. Da-jung even goes so far as to say, “You shouldn’t be like those single women who get upset when their friends start dating because it makes them scared of being alone.” Oh, snap. Who recorded conversations of me and my college roommate?

Shin-young can’t resist: “Fine, you go get a gold ring wrapped in chocolate then.” Shin-young goes to work, leaving Da-jung with a nagging feeling that she forgot to say something important.

At work, Shin-young and her team search for new stories, and land on the idea of a hidden camera expose on a kissing-bang (kissing room), which from what I gathered in this episode, consists of a man paying a girl to kiss for a set amount of time, presumably with more money leading to more intimacy. Or something like that. It’s definitely on the seedy side, seemingly either a front for prostitution or a step below that. See, this is what happens when you repress, people!

Shin-young asks all her male colleagues to help her out and go undercover, to no avail. Her cameraman won’t do it for fear his all-knowing girlfriend will find out. Her evil sunbae predictably won’t do it unless he gets the scoop for himself.

Back at home, Da-jung spends the morning anxiously awaiting Ban-seok’s call. She does that thing that all women do, trying to fill her time with useless activities and jedi-mind-tricking the guy into calling when he said he would call. Been there, sister.

She desperately needs a girlfriend’s opinion on the matter, but decides (rightly) against asking Shin-young. She calls Bu-ki instead, going through all the various scenarios in which he may have lost his phone, or been too embarrassed about Shin-young to call. You forgot the one about being at a yoga retreat where you have to shut off your phone so as not to disturb the serenity. That one’s a classic. Bu-ki, of course, gives her no reassurance on the matter. She simply states that either he will call, or he will not, in which case there are plenty of fish in the sea and Da-jung should just move on.

Well, that’s just not good enough for Da-jung, who rushes over to Bu-ki’s restaurant to overanalyze the situation in person, like a good girlfriend should. Only Shin-young is there to meet Bu-ki as well. The girls keep up the iciness and throw more thinly veiled insults back and forth, all the while with Sang-mi in the background, hearing everything.

Da-jung rattles off Shin-young’s shortcomings, saying that she isn’t satisfied with the ex who’s back in her life, wanting someone much younger with whom she has no hope or future, unsuccessful at work, getting older by the day…oh, she’s laying it ALL out there.

To Shin-young’s credit, she doesn’t do the same to Da-jung, which I myself would not have the self-restraint to do. So to sum up, Da-jung is mad that Shin-young is jealous of her, mad that Shin-young thinks that she’s jealous, which of course she is, and upset that Shin-young is upset because she’s dating someone new. You follow? Look, no one said women weren’t complicated.

Shin-young simply spits back (rather loudly) that she’ll be dating BOTH men, as per Da-jung’s advice. Uh-oh. Guys, if Sang-mi is indeed Min-jae’s mom, we are in deep trouble now. This is coming back to bite Shin-young in the well-steamed arse. Bu-ki tries to appease the situation by offering up her cooking class as a distraction. I smell an awkward moment coming on!

And yup, here it is. Bu-ki has convinced all three women to join the cooking class, where Shin-young is sandwiched between Da-jung, who is mad/jealous/hurt, and Sang-mi, whose disapproval of her is growing by the minute.

Each according to her character, Sang-mi makes perfect little tortellinis in her perfect way, Shin-young tosses her ingredients around carelessly, and Da-jung stares longingly at her phone. She never wavers from her priorities, that one. Finally, Ban-seok calls and Da-jung immediately lays on the charm. She even puts a cute little dab of flour on her face, and sends a picture to Ban-seok, not caring that Shin-young is silently judging her the whole time.

Shin-young and Sang-mi have a minor altercation involving spilled pasta, adding yet another reason why Sang-mi is going to disapprove of her in the future. I like that they’re layering this stuff in early, so that there are personal reasons why Sang-mi will become a future obstacle for the couple in the long run. I hate it when parents in dramas are just disapproving as one-dimensional characters, with one-dimensional reasons.

Sang-mi will be interesting because she isn’t just (going to be, I tell you) Min-jae’s mom, but also a fleshed out character. We know that she got pregnant at 20, got married to the philanderer because of it, and is regretting her life choices in this moment of crisis. So we have Sang-mi, at 44, whose husband is going after women who are 34 (the age of all three lead characters), and whose son, at 24, is dating a woman of the same age. She’s going to have some serious jealousy issues. I mean as a woman, not in like, an Oedipal way. Gross. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I really like that this drama is using the various ages, 24-34-44, to separate the characters’ stages in life, while complicating them romantically. I agree with javabeans’ take on the nuanced portrayal of age difference here. I think that these characters are not ashamed nor plagued by their ages, but rather searching for what age means concerning life and love, testing their limits and acknowledging their shortcomings.

Shin-young decides cooking class is not for her, and leaves to go have lunch on her own. This scene in the Chinese restaurant kills me. Shin-young is about to eat her lunch for one, when the hostess comes by and asks if she would be willing to share her table during the busy lunch rush. She obliges, and has to spend the entire meal sharing a table with a sickeningly sweet couple who apparently cannot eat food with their own hands.

Anyone who has eaten alone at a restaurant knows this feeling. Even if you’ve done it a hundred times, there’s always just that one day, that one time, when it makes you feel completely alone in the world.

And it’s beautifully written all over Shin-young’s face, as we witness her feelings in silence.

Don’t you just want to run over there and give her a hug?

Sang-woo, meanwhile, goes on a blind date with a twenty-something woman and then immediately calls Shin-young to tell her that he turned her down because he’d rather have Shin-young (implying he’s such a great guy cause he’s willing to take her thirty-something self over a younger girl). Only he neglects to mention that in his shallowness, he promptly dismissed the girl for being overweight. Shin-young totally calls him on it though, saying, “Well, she must have been ugly, flat-chested, or poor.” Sang-woo wonders how she knew. Simple, simple Sang-woo.

Min-jae finally decides to text Shin-young first, and over the phone he tells her he’s disappointed that she didn’t watch him on tv or call him about it. She says she had something come up last night (ahem, butt-steam), and he’s being pissy over nothing. He counters, “When you like someone, you expect that much more from them,” which catches her off guard. But she recovers quickly and asks to see him, with a glint in her eye.

Min-jae mistakes her excited tone as an indication that she’s dying to see him, which is adorable, but we know better. She’s got work on the brain and needs a favor. When she arrives at his school, though, they greet each other with unmistakable chemistry.

Min-jae again tells her that he likes her, RIGHT. TO. HER. FACE. Listen, I don’t know what ya’ll look for in an ideal guy or girl, but this is it for me right here. Someone who can say that to your face has some serious cajones, and as javabeans said in the last recap, this is Min-jae’s advantage in age. He doesn’t have the same defenses set up like Shin-young does, so he isn’t hedging his feelings or waiting for an equal playing field. He just lays it down. Bam! You got served!

Shin-young, stupid, clueless girl that she is, replies, “Do you really like me? Then do you want to do me a favor?” She’s got a one-track mind, this one, and right now she needs an undercover agent for the kissing room story. Cut to Min-jae’s face, all, you want me to go where and do what?

Shin-young pleads her case, but Min-jae refuses, asking if she would be okay with it if he kissed another woman. She seems totally unruffled by the idea, and says that he should refrain if he can, and if it comes to it, just kiss her.

Min-jae, getting a somber look on his face, says that he doesn’t want his first kiss to be in a situation like that. At that, Shin-young and all of us, go:

Errrrr…no. No way. Seriously? No friggin way. You? Have never kissed a girl? Liar. Lying Liar who LIES! I saw that head turn at the end of episode 5, buddy. No freaking way you are telling the truth right now!

Shin-young, naïve for her age, relents that if that’s the case, then he can just refrain from any kissing and just get the footage that she needs. He refuses, sending her away, then at the last minute concedes to helping her if she agrees to go on a movie date with him. Done deal!

Outside the kissing room, Shin-young gives Min-jae the spy camera bag and a set of questions to ask the girl. He hesitates and shoots Shin-young one last look of “this is going to make me feel yucky inside but I’m doing this for you.” And although Shin-young urges him to go, once he’s in, her face changes.

While anxiously awaiting his return, Shin-young starts to imagine the tawdry goings-on, worrying that she’s tainted this innocent kid, and even envisions herself breaking up the pair just before some PG-13 action occurs.

As it turns out, though, Min-jae is hardly the smooth operator. In fact he’s totally awkward and obvious about his spying, and tips off the girl right away to his undercover status. In walks the skeevy looking pimp, demanding to know what Min-jae’s got in the bag. Min-jae, not so tough but not stupid either, clobbers the guy in the head with the camera bag and gets the hell out of dodge. He grabs Shin-young and they make a run for it.

They have a good laugh over it at a café, and Shin-young apologizes for dragging him into doing such a big favor. Min-jae says he was the crazy one for agreeing to do it. Shin-young: “Then why did you do it?” Min-jae baits her, “Why do you think?”

She plays coy, so he gets right to the point, “Wouldn’t you say that the next step is a relationship?” Shin-young balks, “YOU (jagi) and ME?” Min-jae says she knows that he likes her, unless she’s stupid. “Why do you like me?” asks Shin-young, still laughing. “You have no reason to like me,” she decides. Oh, you’re doing that thing, selling yourself short to keep from hoping, and getting hurt and disappointed. The walls, the walls!

Min-jae teases, “You’re right. You’re older, not very pretty, have a rotten personality, and you’re not even a successful reporter. If there’s no reason to like you, but I still like you, doesn’t that mean I REALLY like you?” Well, you got me there, kid.

Shin-young evades the issue by saying her ego is bruised, and Min-jae asserts (correctly, I think) that the reason she’s so happy even though her undercover story is ruined is because Min-jae escaped unscathed. He is referring here to the kissing, not so much the hitting. He calls her a baby, noting that her face reveals everything she’s feeling.

I completely agree with him here. Shin-young totally wears her feelings on her face, and that’s one of the most endearing things about both the actress and the character. There are so very many one-expression actors in kdramas; it’s refreshing to have a cast (the three leading ladies) who can carry scenes with no dialogue and deliver emotional nuance and depth.

Min-jae realizes that at some point, Shin-young has stopped listening to him. She’s fixated on something going on outside, noting that a young woman is ushering students into a shady looking van. Shin-young, oblivious workaholic that she is, immediately calls her camera crew and news team over to investigate. Min-jae marvels at her one-track mind, wondering how she could be such an ambitious (read: workaholic) woman.

Shin-young, not taking her eyes off the van, replies offhandedly, “Yeah, I got dumped by my ex because of that.” To which Min-jae says, “I’m not going to dump you. You can rest easy with me.” But Shin-young DOESN’T EVEN HEAR HIM because she’s so fixated on the job. Min-jae just laughs in exasperation. Yeah, right there with you, buddy.

The team sets up the sting operation just outside the café, and Shin-young runs the whole show like a seasoned pro. In a cute and tiny moment, she looks back at Min-jae in the middle of work, which speaks volumes, I think, about how much she really thinks of him. Also their looks are just…

So it turns out the van is a shop on wheels, presumably selling stolen goods to unsuspecting young women. They assess that a large crime organization must be running the operation. The team wonders what they sell to guys, and Min-jae finds himself undercover for yet another time that night. Wow, you can’t impress this girl with flowers or candy. You have to be Philip freakin Marlowe to get this girl.

So Min-jae goes shopping in the van, only this time…the van takes off with Min-jae still inside! Shin-young runs after it, calling out to him, but it’s too late.

Shin-young sends the rest of her team back to the station and waits for Min-jae on her own. She worries that his phone is off and that something horrible could’ve happened to him.

At the same time, Ban-seok calls to confirm his lunch date with Da-jung, which jogs her memory about the thing she wanted to tell Shin-young. She calls, but Shin-young is of course too distracted about Min-jae’s kidnapping to deal with Da-jung, so she hangs up abruptly. Da-jung, ever the narcissist, can’t believe that Shin-young is being so petty and jealous because Da-jung has a new boyfriend.

Shin-young continues to wait for Min-jae in the café, until it closes and she eventually ends up outside, crouched in the street. Bu-ki calls, and Shin-young, in a rare moment, opens up to her friend.

Shin-young: “I know why I’m always alone. I’m too selfish. I only know myself. The memory of being loved is growing so faint. Now, letting someone in my heart, revealing myself to someone, has become difficult for me. Because nobody loves me…in order to guard myself…maybe I let myself become selfish.”

I love that this is the major conflict with this character. It’s just so…relatable and real. It’s not crazy rich heirs or babies switched at birth; anyone who’s loved a love and lived a life can relate to her. It’s very Kim Sam-soon, her search for how to love like she’s never been hurt.

Bu-ki hilariously just tells her to shut it and come to the restaurant. Everybody needs a no-nonsense friend like her. I just want to carry her around in my pocket.

Just then, when she’s feeling her lowest, Min-jae appears. It’s a perfect visual too; she’s crouched low on the pavement, feeling down about herself, and Min-jae’s arrival makes her lift her head and look up at him, the man who will pick her up and teach her how to love again.

Shin-young, tears in her eyes, asks what on earth happened and why she couldn’t get a hold of him. He states simply, “I turned my phone off so you would miss me more.” Saucy monkey.

They go to Bu-ki’s restaurant to eat and warm up, and Min-jae fills her in on his van escapades. Basically, he got them to take him to the other warehouse full of goods. “You love me to death for finding this out, don’t you?” he asks, self-satisfied. And she really does. There’s no hiding the fact that this is the way to this woman’s heart, weird as that may be.

Min-jae reminds Shin-young that they never finished their previous conversation. Shin-young: “What conversation?” Whaa? Seriously? Sometimes you are clueless and a half. Min-jae: “I want to call you every day, eat with you, and talk to you all the time. Be my girlfriend.” While everyone else in the known universe dies from the squeeing, Shin-young doesn’t even give it a moment’s pause. “I don’t think I can do that,” she says.

Shin-young states matter-of-factly that he’s too young for her. When pressed to give an ideal age, she says at least thirty-two. Min-jae: “Then date me and wait…someday I’ll be thirty-two.” Something a kid would say.

They banter back and forth some more about Shin-young not wanting to waste her time, and Min-jae calls her out for being scared and ashamed of her age. She fesses up to the fear that the kind of woman she’s worked so hard to become…all that disappears behind the stigma of age.

Shin-young says that dating Min-jae would just be a waste of time (meaning that spending her time with him rather than looking for a suitable marriage partner would be counterproductive, not that he’s a waste of time as a person).

Min-jae: “Then I’ll step aside. If the man that you want to marry shows up, I’ll step aside. Until then, be with me.”
Shin-young: “I don’t want to.”
Min-jae: “So while waiting around for a man who may or may not show up, you’re going to lose me? Is that it?”
Shin-young: “If people see us together, they’ll laugh.”
Min-jae: “That’s why you’re still alone. You think too much. Your heart wants to go, but your brain stops you. I said, if that man appears, I’ll let you go.”
Shin-young: “And if he doesn’t?”
Min-jae: “Stay with me forever.”

Okay, all together now…SQUEE.

Min-jae confesses to liking her a lot. At this, Shin-young finally gives an inch: “The fact that I might end up liking you…it scares me.” Min-jae counters, ” You’ve already begun to like me.” Word. And THEN? He reaches out his hand to cover hers, and takes her hand in his.

It mirrors their pinky swear, but now holds much more meaning. This actually thawed my icy, icy heart.

Shin-young admits, “For the first time in a long time, my heart is racing.” Min-jae, lost in her gaze, says, “You’re pretty when you smile.” And Bu-ki, who has witnessed all this, muses from afar, “A relationship has properly begun.”

They adorably spend all night snuggling together at the restaurant. In the morning Shin-young drops Min-jae off before going straight to work, and she is the embodiment of glee. A short montage shows Shin-young and her crew reenergized and working hard on the new program.

At lunchtime Da-jung and Ban-seok have their second date, where Ban-seok proudly shows Da-jung that he has saved her photo as his cellphone wallpaper. Da-jung practically dies of happiness, which just makes me laugh that she thinks Shin-young is jealous of her. One woman spent the night getting undying confessions of love, while the other got her face turned into a screensaver. Just sayin’.

Da-jung remembers to ask Ban-seok about his younger friend who made the bet…to woo an older woman and dump her. Is this friend Ha Min-jae? OH. CRAP. Don’t do it! Don’t say it! Bite. Your. Tongue! Aaaaaaaarrrrgh. It’s too late. Ban-seok totally spills the beans, enough for Da-jung to put the pieces together, and now, the bet? SHE IS OUT.

Shin-young, still heady from her night of sweetness and love, calls the girls over to the apartment for a little party. She dances around to one of Min-jae’s songs, twirling around like a giddy little girl.

Da-jung and Bu-ki arrive, and Da-jung tries to tell Shin-young about the bet, but she can’t get a word in edgewise. Shin-young starts quoting song lyrics: “If I close my eyes and think of you, even without wings, I fly to the heavens.” She says she can finally hear lyrics now. It’s so silly it’s cute.

In the most adorably open and happy way, Shin-young tells her friends that she’s started a new relationship, and that she’s so excited and happy. The words are unnecessary, as her performance here is just so…heartbreakingly full of joy.

Bu-ki is happy for her, but upon hearing that they spent the night together, Da-jung grows more frantic. Once she’s sure that they haven’t slept together yet, Da-jung drops the bomb, “Ha Min-jae made a bet that he could lure in an older woman. And that woman…IS YOU.”

Dun…

Dun…

DUN!

Here’s what I like about this: the bet wasn’t dragged out a month into their relationship, or something like that, where it could do much more damage. Right now, it’s not so much Secrets and Lies, as it is a misunderstanding and a giant blow to the ego. Because they’ve only just begun dating, Min-jae has the chance to do some recovery, as long as Shin-young doesn’t completely shut down at this point.

It worries me, but in a good relationship-tension way, not in the melodramatic sense. Because it’s early, there’s a chance they can keep it light and not veer down the path of heavy drinking and vows of chastity.

And to my surprise, we let Shin-young know right away in this episode, right after Da-jung finds out. (That is, no one keeps the secret, creating more accomplices to the lie and breeding more distrust. Hate it when dramas spend entire episodes bringing more and more side characters into the web of lies, until finally everyone knows except for the main character.) This episode bears no signs of such nonsense, being heavy on the squeeworthy moments and speedy with the dispensing of knowledge, all of which bodes well for how this drama will handle the storyline in the future. Let’s just keep it moving, people. Stagnation breeds discontent!

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55 February 18, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 8

by javabeans

Aw. Poor Min-jae? Actually, as much as I find Kim Bum cute, I liked seeing his character taken down a peg or two.

With this episode, we start to get a little more weighty with the relationship issues, but not so much that it feels out of step with the drama’s pacing. The characters have been drawn so realistically that I find the developing relationships really easy to follow (and get behind and root for).

SONG OF THE DAY

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry OST – “이런생각” (These thoughts). The mood of this song doesn’t reflect the drama’s mood all the time (more like 5% of the time), but this is the vibe I love most about it — a little pensive, but lilting and upbeat all the same. [ Download ]

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

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

Da-jung drops the bomb about Min-jae’s motives. Stunned and humiliated, Shin-young blows out her candles angrily and holds her head in her hands.

To Da-jung’s credit, despite the bickering between the ladies in the previous episode, this time she faces her friend with concern. She asks whether Shin-young made an embarrassing confession to Min-jae, such as saying she loved him or something equally mortifying in retrospect. And you know what I love about that? She’s not just looking out for Shin-young feeling duped, she’s also concerned about her friend preserving her pride. Lemme tell ya, girlfriends who think to consider such things are not so common, but they sure are appreciated.

Shin-young imagines a scenario where Min-jae faked his feelings and was only doing everything for the bet. In her mental image, he crows to his friends like an arrogant douchebag about getting her to fall for him.

Ever wise, Bu-ki offers that Min-jae may have developed real feelings — hasn’t she seen the way he looks at her? But Shin-young is not having it — she isn’t just feeling hurt by the bet, she’s ashamed of herself for momentarily allowing herself to be arrogant. For feeling that she’s still attractive enough to transcend that detractor, Age. (It sucks that she DID transcend that barrier, but now will not have that faith in herself because of this misunderstanding.)

When Min-jae calls, the girls urge Shin-young to take her “scorned woman has pride” moment, i.e., to answer the phone and skewer Min-jae alive. But instead, Shin-young merely takes out her phone battery. An understandable reaction, but one that disappoints all of us who were rooting for her to have her snappy, empowered comeback to a classic Douche Move From A Guy.

(Don’t get me wrong; Min-jae is sweet, but from Shin-young’s vantage point, he’s looking like an asshole right now.)

As suspected, Sang-mi is in fact Min-jae’s mother: She walks into his spacious apartment with a grim face and accuses him of lying to her. He’d promised not to keep pursuing music (as a career), but she saw his appearance on television. She orders him to pack up his stuff and move out, since his nice apartment was provided by his parents (and probably contingent upon an agreement that he quit music and go back to school).

Min-jae treats her with the respect one would expect of a good son, but also defends his case: He says gently that he’s done everything she wanted thus far. He loves her, but wants to live his own life.

Sang-mi argues that Min-jae is all she has left, and she’s pinned all her hopes on him. She wants him to be successful. I would have argued that he IS going to be successful — just in a different way — but Min-jae asks why it matters what other people think of him.

It pains Min-jae to hear his mother trivialize her own existence, and he reminds her that she has her own life. At 44, she’s still young and beautiful. Why does she talk like she’s unimportant? Instead of seeing his point, Sang-mi nods, “Yes, I’m insignificant.”

Min-jae replies, “I’m tired of hearing that. I love you too, but I can’t become your life’s dream. Don’t block my path.” Furthermore, “I wish you could be happy regardless of what I do.”

Sang-mi grows angrier and lashes out: “You’re not my son anymore. I want to leave you and your father behind now. Fine, I’ll live. Why aren’t you packing? I told you to get out.” She’s going to rent out this place, so he’d better get out asap.

Shin-young mopes, impervious to Bu-ki’s attempts to cheer her. She wonders glumly, “If something leaves you, shouldn’t something come to you, too? If someone leaves, shouldn’t someone come? I think I’ve been abandoned by the universe.” She’s embarrassed “for getting excited about a child’s game.”

Bu-ki tries to get her to look at this as a fun experience — they’ve all gone out with losers before, right? At least Min-jae’s much cuter, so she should consider the brief “relationship” as fun and move on. That’s the good part about aging — it gives you the ability to move past these things with greater ease.

Bu-ki is still convinced that Min-jae is for real, and that he loves her. However, she doesn’t mean to prod Shin-young into embarrassing herself, which is why she and Da-jung chase after her when Shin-young storms out of her room purposefully.

No doubt Bu-ki is recalling Shin-young’s Episode 1 determination to confront her cheating ex and make a scene in the middle of the night. They follow her frantically down the street, on a bus, and end up, surprisingly, at a park area.

As she looks out at the cityscape, Shin-young explains that years ago when she’d been studying to become a reporter, she took the bus everyday to the library, where she looked out at the Seoul skyline and swore to become a reporter. She vows now to make a new start, without the distractions of unimportant men.

She quotes Jane Eyre: “The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” Shin-young declares that she’s done with blind dates, but she’s not going to die an old maid, either. She shouts, “Because I’m valuable!”

(I love that this is a solemn moment that is broken when she shrieks that last bit a little too emphatically. This IS misguided-but-lovable Shin-young, after all.)

Her solution: She’s going to take Sang-woo back and make it work.

As Sang-woo’s ally, Da-jung calls him to alert him to this window of opportunity. Explaining that Min-jae was all a bet and Shin-young is looking favorably on Sang-woo, she tells him this is his chance to make his move.

Sang-woo exults, particularly when he hears that his competition was based on a bet. He agrees to Da-jung’s advice, to approach Shin-young naturally, without letting on that he knows she has had a change of heart.

Shin-young has far more patience than I, because I’d be ready to verbally castrate backstabbing Myung-seok at every opportunity, but she has settled into a tentative stalemate with him. They still trade barbs, but now the sting is gone and they’ve started to interact with an amusing vibe. (I hope they don’t de-fang Myung-seok too much, though, because he’s a guy who’s fully capable of being vicious and ruthless.)

Shin-young spots Min-jae in the UBN hallway, and he perks up to greet her. However, this time she’s the one who ignores him and walks on by.

Puzzled, he follows her into her office, where he sees her reacting to a lovely bouquet of flowers sent by Sang-woo. When he asks for a moment alone with her, she treats him with friendliness but pretends they’re nothing more than social acquaintances.

Min-jae takes her aside and proposes a dinner date, since he has secured dinner reservations. She declines cheerily, answering that Sang-woo asked first. Uncertain at her sudden change in mood, Min-jae mopes in his studio, wondering, “If I was born ten years earlier, how would things be?”

His mood takes another hit when he sees Sang-woo walk into the lobby cafe to meet Shin-young. She makes the most of the moment by acting purposely close to Sang-woo as they leave. It’s all for Min-jae’s benefit, since we can see below how she REALLY feels about her dinner date with Sang-woo, calmly looking over work papers while he tries to make conversation. I admit to feeling bad for both men, until I remember that they’ve both wronged Shin-young. (And given the chance, wouldn’t we want to do the same?)

Sang-woo’s far from clueless: When Shin-young proposes in a businesslike way that they marry, he comments, “I see you did like Ha Min-jae.” He knows that she’s acting like this to try to make herself feel better. Shin-young admits there’s truth to that, and asks if he can accept that. She’s tired of wandering and wants to settle with someone — “I think you’ll be okay.”

He picks up on her wording: Rather than saying “I want that person to be you,” she has said, “You’ll do.” But he doesn’t make that into An Issue, and agrees. They’ve had their share of tribulations, so now that they’re back together, they should be happy.

With that, he leans in to kiss her forehead… and pauses to comment, “You didn’t wash your hair, did you?” (Does Lee Pil-mo have a thing with clean hair?) Shin-young sighs. It’s nice to be comfortable together, but there are downsides to losing all sense of romantic tension.

When Sang-woo drops her off at home, she imagines for a moment that Min-jae is waiting in front of her apartment, and is duly disappointed to find that she’s imagining it. She reminds herself that Min-jae doesn’t know where she lives, and asks herself, “Should I have told him?” She’s not even trying to fool herself about not liking him anymore.

Da-jung presents Ban-seok with cookies that spell out his name. He’s so touched he looks like he’s about to cry, and asks, “Are you really human? You’re not an angel?”

Despite both of their idealized visions of dating and marriage, Da-jung and Ban-seok really seem like a good match. For instance, she enjoys doing cute little domestic gestures — she doesn’t want to stay home and cook and clean all the time, but she likes making a gesture out of it, and Ban-seok sincerely appreciates it.

They head to a museum, where Ban-seok steals looks at her hand, trying to work up the courage to take it. How adorable is the pinky-streeeetch? He’s unsuccessful there, but has better success that night at a drive-in movie. Again, he spends a lot of time trying to make his move, but Da-jung clues into his intent and takes the initiative. (The first attempt is hilarious — he’s so tense that he barely manages to touch lips — but Da-jung takes the lead in the second effort.)

Da-jung bursts into Bu-ki’s apartment that night to exult. (Bu-ki and Shin-young are together, but Shin-young is not up to this conversation and hides before Da-jung enters.) In fact, she is going to meet Ban-seok’s parents on the weekend.

Bu-ki comments that she’s moving pretty fast, but Da-jung feels that everything is right, and predicts a marriage within the year. Da-jung unfortunately picks Shin-young as an example of how more time doesn’t always equal more success, and that causes a pissy Shin-young to barge into the room and pelt her with pillows.

After Bu-ki runs interference, Da-jung apologizes; she’s just so happy to finally have someone to see movies with or eat with. She used to be so sad to eat out alone — say, for instance, if she wanted agu-jjim, or spicy monkfish stew, which never comes in single portions but comes in a minimum of two servings. In fact, portions are so large that even if she took home leftovers to eat at home, it was still too much. She had therefore prayed to find someone to eat with, and now offers to pray for Shin-young to be happy with Sang-woo. Shin-young reluctantly drinks to that.

Shin-young worries, “I couldn’t even imagine in my dreams that my heart would flutter and I would feel Ha Min-jae as a man when he’s so much younger than I am. I felt love from someone who was born when I was learning the alphabet.” She’s afraid of more things happening to her without warning, like with Min-jae.

Bu-ki answers reasonably: “Accepting that is what life is about. Do you think you’re the only one? Everyone’s like that. We understand, grow wise, and grow old.”

Hilariously, Da-jung’s contribution to this conversation is to burst out, “I don’t want to grow old!” Shin-young looks up desperately: “What eye cream works well?” (I love them.)

When Sang-mi returns to Min-jae’s apartment, it has been cleared out per mother’s orders, and she starts to clean. Min-jae, meanwhile, presents himself at Ban-seok’s apartment, promising to leave when/if Ban-seok’s girlfriend ever comes over. (Oh, THIS won’t get complicated, will it now?)

Ban-seok asks if Shin-young mentioned anything to him. Min-jae doesn’t know what that means, but it all starts to become clear when he hears that Ban-seok may have dropped a hint about Min-jae’s bet to make Shin-young fall for him. Although Ban-seok hadn’t told Da-jung any details or mentioned names, the ladies may have put facts together. Yet far from being upset, Min-jae actually is relieved — at least now things make sense — and he smiles, “I’m feeling better all of a sudden.”

So. Cute. (And just as I type that, Ban-seok comments, “Hey, when you smile like that you look really sexy.” But instead of meaning it as a compliment, he adds, “Should I try smiling like that in front of Da-jung?” and practices.)

Min-jae gets out his phone and texts, “Shin-young, you must really like me. I’ve found you out!” That cryptic message both irritates and confuses her.

Shin-young continues working on her “News & People” program, which finally makes its broadcast premiere. Min-jae’s reaction is pretty endearing as he anxiously checks the online ratings, then exults to see that News & People pulled in a top 10 finish with 15.9% ratings.

Myung-seok, feeling threatened, tries to downplay the results, but nobody is fooled. Their rating is damn good, and the deputy director is pleased, particularly since he received a lot of compliments on the program. Therefore, he gives Shin-young a fixed timeslot on the schedule for Wednesday nights.

Shin-young’s reaction is just as cute as Min-jae’s. She holds her own mini-celebration in the bathroom stall where she had previously cried — she tosses around streams of toilet paper as though she’s doing the traditional Korean ribbon dance

That evening, Sang-woo joins her team for drinks, where they cheer this positive upswing in her life. Job, check! Cute new/old boyfriend, check! Yet she remains distracted and checks her phone for messages from Min-jae that don’t arrive. Even when friend Hye-jin is in raptures over how great a boyfriend Sang-woo is, Shin-young keeps an eye on her un-ringing phone.

Sang-woo walks Shin-young home and starts to reminisce on old times, taking her hand. It’s so clear she’s not into him (as she removes the hand) that I’m glad that at least Sang-woo seems well aware of it: He thanks her for including him in the celebration, “But why do I feel like I’m a puppet? It feels like waiting for a train that won’t come.”

She explains that she’s trying, and asks for some time. He understands that he shouldn’t push it, and answers encouragingly that “I’m thankful even for this much.” But after she leaves, his smile starts to fade. He’s trying, too, he’s no dummy.

Sang-mi continues to be slightly aloof with Bu-ki, but this doesn’t fool the latter, who knows that Sang-mi’s starting to see her as a friend. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t continue to come to her restaurant.

Sang-mi says that during the cooking class, she had heard Bu-ki’s friends (Shin-young and Da-jung) and wanted to warn them not to marry, that they should remain free.

In the wake of her disagreement with her son, Sang-mi is more down today. Bu-ki senses that mood, and takes a ring from her own finger and gives it to Sang-mi, saying it’s her lucky ring. Now luck is on its way to find her.

It sure works fast: Sang-mi answers the door to Min-jae’s apartment to meet a prospective new tenant, and the instant she locks eyes with Sang-woo, they both feel a spark. Sang-woo feels the attraction particularly keenly, completely smitten with her. He agrees to take the apartment so quickly that even Sang-mi entreats him to be more prudent and think on it overnight.

He mentions an upcoming business trip to Paris, which catches her interest. She’s always wanted to go to a particular cafe in Saint-Germain that Sartre once mentioned… Sang-woo knows the cafe and offers to help be her guide if she ever decides to go to Paris, and promises to take a photo of a particular locale on his upcoming trip.

As they discuss sights in Paris, a bond starts to form between them, which is as troubling as it is exciting. After they part ways, both wonder what just hit them (HORMONES!), and ask themselves, “What’s wrong with me?”

Ban-seok and Da-jung meet his father at a restaurant, and his father is far from gracious. He’s not overtly rude, but he’s blunt in an aggressive sort of way. For instance, when Da-jung tries polite flattery by saying that Ban-seok’s good looks come from his father, he replies that she’s a good liar. When they try to make conversation, Dad cuts them off and seems to think he’s wasting his time. In fact, that’s why Mom didn’t even bother to come.

Ban-seok has to take a work call, which leaves Da-jung alone with his father, who gets right to the point. He assumes she’s pregnant and orders her to marry in a month — and even when he finds that she’s not pregnant, he doesn’t apologize. Rather, this makes things easier, since he doesn’t want them together. He doesn’t want a daughter-in-law who worked herself up from humble beginnings to achieve success, nor does his son need a working wife. Rather, he has always seen his son marrying within their level; his in-laws should be people within his (lofty) social circles.

He leaves immediately after delivering those harsh words, and Da-jung is so stunned that she loses all her energy. Ban-seok asks with concern what happened — did his father say something while he was out? Not comfortable with making the explanation, Da-jung answers no — she was merely overly stressed out about meeting his parents. She asks to be left alone for now, and Ban-seok obliges.

That night, Shin-young is working in her office when someone ducks into the room to shut off her lights. She chases the figure out into the hall, and is greeted with quite the romantic sight: a corridor lined with candles, some of which form arrows that point her down to the end of the hall.

She must have an idea of whose doing this is, but her smile fades when she recognizes Min-jae, who tells her, “I missed you.”

Min-jae explains that she misunderstood the situation: “You don’t understand when men are sincere. That’s why you’ve been single till now.” When she starts to argue, he cuts her off with a firm tone: “Lee Shin-young. I started that bet because I was interested in you, and came to like you more. Can’t you tell from my eyes? Don’t be angry, and don’t misunderstand. I like you for real.”

She admits, “It’s true I was briefly attracted to you. But we’re different in that I have to go into a relationship weighing everything. Please put a stop to your feelings. Why do I have to like someone like you—”

He cuts her off, then leans in, slowly…

…but as with the party kiss, he pulls back at the last minute. With a laugh, he plucks out a white hair, saying she stresses herself out too much. “You must have been worrying a lot about me.”

Min-jae reaches over to pluck out another, but she grabs his hand, not in the mood to humor him. This may be amusing for him but she has been taking the moment seriously, and this has spoiled the moment and her patience.

She says, “There’s another reason we can’t be. This is proof. You’re in your youth when you can play around immaturely, while time is valuable to me. Don’t play around with me anymore.”

She stalks off, leaving Min-jae looking after her, bummed now. In a nice detail, she walks counter to the direction of the arrows on the ground.

 

The vibe is understandably glum that night. Bu-ki pulls Shin-young’s white hairs while Da-jung lies down, listless and quiet.

The next day, Shin-young is back at work, talking about possible directions to go with their program. They can use university students for VJs, for example, and have a lot of people interested in the position.

Just then, the door opens and in steps Min-jae — sporting a full head of gray hair. Everyone gapes as he announces that he’s here about the student VJ position.

 
COMMENTS

Da-jung: In a throwaway comment in Episode 1, she had mentioned that coming from a shabby background and working herself to success was her insecurity. Is it fitting, then, that this should prove to be her obstacle in a relationship where everything was progressing perfectly? Ban-seok has a good job, good family, is a second son, is handsome, and adores her. After rejecting so many men for various frivolous reasons, she finds herself being the one deemed less than worthy — and it’s for a reason she can’t control. Well, she can control being a successful careerwoman, but that’s hardly something one should throw away to win over an in-law. Not being born to a higher social circle is, however, something just as uncontrollable as being bald or born a first son.

I recall reading a few comments from viewers who disliked Da-jung for being so materialistic and selfish, and I can understand why. However, I had a hunch she was going to get her big setdown, and that’s why I felt free to love her for her silliness — I was pretty sure she was going to be slapped upside the head (figuratively) and have to reevaluate what makes a relationship true.

Bu-ki: At first, I thought that Bu-ki was this drama’s cautionary tale, back in her twenties, because she had been walking proof that conforming to a man’s expectations would only lead to misery. But now, I think that Sang-mi is the real cautionary tale, because she and Bu-ki had similar trajectories early in their lives, but while Bu-ki was able to walk away, Sang-mi wasn’t. It also explains why Bu-ki feels a particular pull to Sang-mi and sometimes pushes past her boundaries when another polite stranger would stop.

This isn’t to say that Sang-mi can’t have her own second coming — and it looks like she will — but her life is a more extreme example of what happens when you lose oneself and build an identity entirely around other people. That’s a fact that Sang-mi herself acknowledges, and without shame — she has diminished her own ego to such an extent that she doesn’t even feel its loss. Sad, huh?

Shin-young: I like that Shin-young didn’t wallow in self-pity when she believed that she was the target of a cruel joke. She moped for a night, then pulled herself together and got back to her career. Granted, she’s acting on misconceptions about Min-jae’s true feelings, but imagine if it really had been purely based on a bet. Shin-young’s response is realistic but also calm and not hysterical.

As cute as Min-jae can be, I really liked the hallway scene because it did hammer in Shin-young’s point that he’s too young. Not in age, but in mentality, because while one can forgive him for teasing with the kiss at the party, it’s a different thing here. Back then it was a public moment to make a point; here they’re in private, and this is in conjunction with an apology. In a moment where he’s actually trying to prove his sincerity, he breaks that trust by playing a joke. I thought Shin-young was entirely justified in walking away, because the very fact that he would play with the moment shows that they’re not on the same page.

Therefore, the gray hair gesture at the end doesn’t even seem like a Grand Gesture to me — I thought it was the least he could do. He messed up his own Grand Gesture earlier, so now he’s gotta put something on the line. Another similar candle moment would not have cut it — he had to up his game.

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83 February 22, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episode 9

by girlfriday

Okay, it’s official; this drama has made me its bitch. If I were watching it post-season, it would be one sixteen-hour run with a bedpan, a caffeine drip, and a case of that rice wine they’re always drinking. True to form, we breeze right past the bet storyline in one episode, and now we get to the heart of the matter: what do you do when faced with a love that could be real, but not forever?

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

Shin-young is at work with her team, discussing possible directions to take with their new show, like adding student VJ correspondents. In walks Min-jae, full head of gray hair, which is presumably his way of saying, “Sorry I ruined my own million-candle grand gesture by making jokes about your gray hair.” But all I can do is go, “Bwuh?”

It’s very disconcerting, this hair. I don’t know what to make of it. It’s not that Bummie can’t rock the colored hair (although he’s no Lee Hong-ki)…it’s just that the gray hair is such a stark contrast to his baby face, making him an even more freakish in-betweenie.

All the women stand agape, as Min-jae tells them he’s here to apply for the VJ position. Her co-workers are all aflutter, but Shin-young shuts him down cold. She’s in no mood to play games with a kid.

Min-jae keeps pushing it, and Shin-young demands to know why he wants to work for them. He’s completely serious today, as he stares intensely at her and says, “You know why…” Oh, NOW you’re all serious? You lit a million tea lights (which by the way, the first ones you lit would be out by the time you lit the last ones, Show), then ruin the moment by making with the funny, and now you want to be all intense-eyes at work the next morning?

At some point, despite herself, Shin-young stops listening to him and we just hear her heart start to race, as they stare into each other’s eyes. Shin-young, unable to tamp down her feelings, leaves the room with an excuse.

Min-jae follows her into an empty hallway and demands to know what she’s so afraid of. She tells him not to speak so informally to her (a tiny attempt to distance herself emotionally). So he cheekily adds “…yo” at the end of his sentences, like when your mother tells you to say “please” so you go, “Pass the friggin green beans……..please.”

Min-jae says that she’s so brave in all other things, but so scared when it comes to love. Ain’t it the truth, people? We’d sooner climb Everest than be this open and vulnerable. Min-jae argues, “Being forty when I’m thirty, fifty when I’m forty, is it something that scary? Why? It’s not like you die in the same order that you’re born. Getting wrinkles sooner than me, gray hairs first, so what?” I have to say, although Min-jae is earning a truckload of points by saying these things, I’m on Shin-young’s side in thinking that it’s not NOTHING, either.

Min-jae: “I’m confessing these things for the first time in my life, and you’re going to shut me down like this?”
Shin-young: “Setbacks make you grow up.”
Min-jae: “The world has changed, and so have people’s thoughts. Follow your heart and be brave.”
Shin-young: “This has nothing to do with bravery.”
Min-jae: “Do you not like me?”
Shin-young (barely holding back her tears): “No.”
Min-jae: “Do you not see me as a man?”
Shin-young (clearly lying): “No. I don’t see you as a man.”
Min-jae: “I can tell you’re lying.”
Shin-young: “It doesn’t matter if it’s a lie.”
Min-jae (accepting defeat): “I understand. Thank you for stirring my heart, for being the person I wanted to see every day. You made me feel things for the first time in my life. I’m grateful for that. While my hair color returns, I will forget you. Take care.”

Min-jae knows when he’s outmatched, and with that, he turns and walks away, heartbroken. Shin-young watches him go, and she flashes back to all his cute grand gestures and their adorable chemistry.

Meanwhile, I’m shouting at my tv, “Stop him! Stop him you damn fool! If you let him walk out of here while you flashback, I’m turning you off this instant!” Empty threats, I know. But to my utter delight, she calls out to him. Oh thank GOD.

Shin-young proposes that they date for ten days. Ten days? Min-jae asks if she’s toying with him. Shin-young says that being with him for real would be wasting her time, but she thinks she could spare ten days. (This sounds really snotty, but it doesn’t come across that way. It’s more like a terminally ill patient wanting one last hurrah before succumbing to fate.) Min-jae, having put his heart on the line more than once, asks what on earth he’s supposed to do on Day 11, then. Shin-young says fine, three days. Whaa? Okay, ten days it is!

Min-jae insists that they start the counting tomorrow, as it is already late and he doesn’t want to waste half a day. Cute! As he walks away with this small victory, his face breaks into a mischievous smile. Yeah, we’re thinking the same thing you are. Ten days is plenty of time for you to win her over for good!

At home, Da-jung is listless from her future father-in-law woes. Ban-seok calls, but she can’t bring herself to answer. This is a perennial kdrama problem. His parents say something nasty, but she can’t say anything to her significant other because they’re his parents. I say screw it. He’s your boyfriend, so he should know how his parents are treating you. Besides, if they’re a regular Korean family, it’s hardly the worst thing he’s ever heard come out of their mouths concerning a prospective wife.

But Da-jung, ever the seeker, goes to a life couch guru instead, asking for advice on the matter. Should she marry this man, while his family denounces her poor upbringing and everything she’s worked so hard for, or should she move on? But before she can get an answer, the guru turns out to be a quack, of course, leaving Da-jung to realize that the answer must be within herself. Is she…learning?

She decides to go to the hospital and talk things over with Ban-seok, only his father is there at the same time, to introduce him to a friend’s daughter. He’s like a Mack truck, that dad, and it’s clear that Ban-seok has never been anything but a doormat.

Da-jung simpers to herself that this is not the answer she had in mind. I simply love that the woman who was so calculating about men and their “qualifications” to marry her is now completely at the mercy of the same process, being done to her. I both enjoy her comeuppance and feel for her too, because who wouldn’t love her?

And then we cut to an action sequence:

Wait, did I change the channel? Don’t make me recap Chuno! Don’t make me do it! Oh, whew, it’s just Bu-ki, doing some martial arts training. Why? Because she’s a badass, yo.

She gets texts from both girls, requesting a pow-wow over food and drink. Bu-ki prepares for battle with her love-addled girlfriends.

Shin-young tells her friends about the Ten Day relationship with Min-jae, and asks them not to try and talk sense into her, please. Bu-ki asks what happens after the ten days are up, and Shin-young says that they’ll go back to their original places. Bu-ki: “To Sang-woo?” Shin-young supposes that will be the case. Really? Is that what you think?

Da-jung announces for the billionth time that she’s not going to get married. She finally tells the girls about Ban-seok’s disapproving father, and the hurtful things he said to her. They are, appropriately, shocked and appalled.

Bu-ki spits out that Da-jung should have started eating with her hands, showing Ban-seok’s father just how uncouth she could be. Shin-young, practically shouting, asks why Da-jung’s been keeping this to herself, and if she’s been thinking about holding on to this guy, after all that.

Girlfriends who accept you for your life choices and who you are, are hard to find. But as javabeans said in her last recap, girlfriends who stick up for your pride when you’ve been trampled on? They are the ones you keep forever.

Da-jung rants, “Is being over thirty a sin? Are single women over thirty just supposed to die?!” Shin-young grabs her throat, gagging, “Die!”

Da-jung: “I work hard. I try my best. I’m acknowledged. In my own way, I’m successful. What have I done to be treated that way? Marriage? Who needs it? I just won’t get married. I’m going to dump him cold. Even if his father comes begging on his knees, I won’t take him back!”

Bu-ki and Shin-young cheer, actually applauding her. They go in for the celebratory high-five…

…but Da-jung leaves them hanging. Limply, she says, “If only I could be like that.” Aw, man. We were all fired up! Da-jung confesses that she doesn’t want to lose Ban-seok, and begs the girls to help her.

Shin-young says that she should forget Ban-seok and find someone new. Da-jung can’t wait for yet another man, and even with someone new, he’s bound to come with some other explosive baggage. Bu-ki agrees with this. She tells them that life rarely deals a perfect hand; if the next guy has perfect parents, he’ll have gambling debts.

This is exactly the kind of conversation I have with my girlfriends over martinis. We decide emphatically that Life is this, and Love is that, Men are such and such, and Women are this way and that. And then we promptly forget it all the next day, because wouldn’t you know it? We were drunk. It’s illogical, but therapeutic.

In the middle of the discussion, Da-jung gets a call from Ban-seok, putting her in a tizzy because she pretended she was sick to avoid his calls. It turns out that Ban-seok is downstairs to see Da-jung and will wait all night if he has to. Da-jung is impressed, but Shin-young tells her not to be so easy; that she should make him wait a while and play a little hard to get.

But in the same breath, Shin-young’s phone rings with a call from Min-jae, and we see the change in her reaction:

Min-jae wants to meet her at midnight, the official start of Day 1, but Shin-young ups it to nine o’clock, as she is granting him three free hours as an opening bonus. The hypocrisy is not lost on Da-jung.

Heh. This is why relationship advice should always be taken with a grain of salt. So quick to change your tune, Shin-young. We’re happy for you, but I sort of want to flick you right now.

Bu-ki takes Da-jung to her apartment, where they stage a sickbed for Ban-seok’s benefit. Shin-young gets ready for her date, singing and dancing in the shower, and my word, is she adorable. Okay, I’m back to loving you now.

Ban-seok arrives at Bu-ki’s apartment and Da-jung does this hilarious rendition of all weepy kdramas where the woman asks to break up with her boyfriend, because she’s really such a good person and martyr. Gag. I love that they’re making fun of this convention. Da-jung plays it to the hilt, with Bu-ki’s help, and the aid of some eye drops. Ha!

Even though you could argue that this is manipulative, I think it’s okay because (a) it’s tongue-in-cheek, and (b) their goal was to let Ban-seok know about his father without hurting him. Personally, I think you should skip the games and be able to say, “Honey, I love you but your father was kind of a dick to me.” And if you can’t, maybe you shouldn’t be marrying the guy? But that’s just me. One of many reasons why I’m not a kdrama heroine.

The plan works, as Ban-seok is now on Da-jung’s side, (Did we ever doubt him?) and says he will take care of his father. Well, you don’t exactly have my vote of confidence on the daddy issue seeing as how you’re kind of a blubbering idiot around him, but you get an A for good intentions. He blurts out that he loves her, and once he’s gone the girls rejoice at their success.

Meanwhile, Shin-young goes downstairs to meet Min-jae, who has arrived on his white steed, I mean car. They cute-banter and Min-jae tells Shin-young to get in the car before he kisses her. Hollow words! Empty threats! You didn’t even kiss her when you lined a hallway with candles, silly rabbit. I’ll believe it when I see it. And then I’ll rewind, and believe it again.

There’s just something about the way these two look at each other that I can’t get enough of. They have the best non-verbal chemistry I’ve seen in a while. Their eyes get downright starry. And now they’re speaking informally to each other, with Min-jae calling Shin-young “jagi” all the time.

During their date, Shin-young gets a call from Sang-woo, who is in Paris. She LIES to Min-jae about who called, then LIES to Sang-woo on the phone, telling him that she’ll be busy for the next ten days because of work. Oh, Shin-young. Why must you make me shake my head in disappointment? We were doing so well.

They go for a walk, and Min-jae holds her hand and puts it in his pocket, the same way Sang-woo did a few episodes back. Only this time Shin-young doesn’t pull away. So big, the clues. Why doesn’t she see them? Min-jae notes that her hands are soft, and Shin-young says that she’s been told that a lot. This makes Min-jae stop in his tracks. With a sly smile, he says, “I have a jealous streak. Don’t say things like that anymore.” I’m not squeeing. Who said I was squeeing?

The next day Sang-mi picks out wallpaper for Sang-woo’s apartment, and she gets two texts: one from Min-jae saying that he loves her (aw), and one from Sang-woo saying that she can take her time with the wallpaper and he’ll contact her when he’s back in town. She dismisses the first one (apparently Min-jae’s charm doesn’t work on his mom), but lights up at the second one.

She puts up the new wallpaper and sends Sang-woo a picture of it, and he gets so excited, it’s actually making me like him a little, for the first time.

I love when you meet someone new, and you look for excuses to text or call each other so as not to appear obvious, which means you end up talking about wallpaper or the weather, which is completely obvious to everyone but the two of you.

Sang-woo returns from Paris and he meets Sang-mi for coffee, both of them eager but still tentative towards each other. Sang-woo gives her a scarf and they make with the twinkly eyes. I surprisingly like this pairing, because it softens both characters. Sang-woo is far more likable when he isn’t with Shin-young, and Sang-mi looks about ten years younger in this episode, just from the smiling alone. This will also be a pivotal couple dramatically, so I’m interested in how they’ll progress.

In a different relationship across town, Da-jung and Ban-seok engage in some on-the-job kissing at the hospital, where Da-jung has come to get “treated” for her “illness.”

Things are going swimmingly, that is, until they run into Mack truck Daddy (not to be confused with mack-daddy), who has returned with his friend’s daughter. As expected, Ban-seok totally folds like the doormat that he is, and can’t come to Da-jung’s defense when his father treats her like a third-class citizen. Da-jung doesn’t do anything but apologize (!) and run away.

Ban-seok tries to reason with his father, to no avail. So in the end he ekes out a threat that he’ll just have to make a baby first then! So there! Oh, THAT’s going to go well, based on your intimacy to excitability ratio.

Da-jung ends up at Bu-ki’s restaurant, announcing again that she will not be getting married. Bu-ki can’t even pretend to take her seriously, and reminds her of all the reasons they had come up with for sticking this relationship out. Da-jung leaves in a huff, insisting that she isn’t going to put up with it anymore.

And then in a nice moment of reflection, Da-jung waits at the bus stop and looks up at the sign that announces the arrival of the next bus. She muses how nice it would be if life would announce who was coming next, and when. She imagines the sign telling her of the next man in her life, and when he will come to her.

The acting is so spot-on here. While most of the time I find Da-jung delightfully ridiculous, in this moment she is so real and grounded. On the bus ride home, Da-jung imagines more announcements of future men, and even in her fantasies, none of them compare to Ban-seok. (One of them tells her the perfect man will come…in a thousand years. Ha.) This makes her decide to give him another chance, and she calls him to work it out.

Shin-young and her team work hard on their new show. It’s going well, so of course Shin-young’s evil sunbae pulls a classic two-faced move. In front of Shin-young he belittles their ratings success and chalks it up to the timeslot, but behind her back he sweet-talks their boss into letting him oversee the show because Shin-young needs the help. The boss takes it under advisement. Rat bastard!

We then get glimpses of Shin-young and Min-jae’s Ten Days, as he teaches her how to play guitar, they listen to music together, and play an endless game of rock paper scissors because they don’t want to part at the end of the night.

Teaching her to play the guitar? Genius! Guys, you should always do this when wooing a girl. Teach her something you’re good at, because then you get to show her how awesome you are, while involving her in something important to you. It’s a win-win. And if you pick something tactile, you can get all handsy, like Min-jae is here:

Back at the boys’ apartment, Ban-seok tells Min-jae to stay out tomorrow night. Min-jae gets the hint and notes that Ban-seok is moving pretty fast with Da-jung. You clearly have never seen him kiss a woman. If this goes smoothly, I will give you a million dollars. And a pony.

Min-jae also admits to Ban-seok that he is in love for the first time in his life. Hm, adorable, but doesn’t bode well for the long-term. At home, Shin-young looks at her calendar and realizes that she only has three days left with Min-jae. She prays that they go by slowly.

Sang-woo searches his apartment for some excuse to call Sang-mi, with nary a broken light fixture to lean on. Finally he finds that he needs a parking pass, and meets her at the market for the hand-off. She helps him shop for his new place, and they go to a café.

Sang-woo is more forward on their second “date” and calls her by her name. He remembers how many sugars she takes in her coffee, and isn’t really hiding how smitten he is. Sang-mi doesn’t even know how to react to such attention; it’s clear that it’s been decades since anyone has noticed her in this way.

But when Sang-woo asks why she rented out the apartment, Sang-mi answers truthfully. She tells him she has a college-age son and…a husband. Sang-woo is floored and can’t hide his disappointment as he watches her walk away.

Sang-woo is down about Sang-mi, so he calls…Shin-young? Geez, you two. You really need to stop using each other as emotional crutches, or I’m going to smack you both.

He asks to see her, but Shin-young gives excuses about being slammed at work. Sang-woo insists he has to see her tonight, and says he’ll wait for her call.

Shin-young, meanwhile, has heard about her evil sunbae’s plot to take over her news program, and Min-jae talks her through it, encouraging her and being supportive. Wow, seriously, this impressed me way more than all those damn tea lights and the hair change combined. This is the first time he seems like actual serious boyfriend material for Shin-young, in my book.

After cheering her up, Min-jae tells her not to go home tonight. Shin-young: “Why?” Min-jae: “Because you’re going to stay up all night worrying. Let’s sleep together.”

Oh. My.

Did everyone just faint?

Hello?

Helloooooo?

Cut to…

HA…the two of them, hanging out at a jjimjilbang (a public 24-hour sauna). You tease! Shin-young asks Min-jae what he thinks he’ll be doing when he’s 34. He replies, “I think I’d like to write music for movies…and I want to be with a 44-year-old You.”

Shin-young: “I’ve never once had this thought, until now: if I were 24 right now, how nice would that be? I thought about that…for the first time ever.”

And then they fall asleep, all snuggly in each other’s arms.

Only who should happen to come to the very same jjimjilbang, the very same night?

Cause THAT’s what happens when you lie, people.

Overall, I think that Min-jae redeemed himself in this episode, but Shin-young has taken a dive. She’s got some ‘splainin to do.

It’s possible that the confrontation here at the end will lead to better things, such as some emotional detachment between Shin-young and Sang-woo, which would be healthier for them. And Sang-woo, while he has every right to be mad at Shin-young’s actions, can’t really deny that he’s having cheaty feelings of his own.

As for the Ten Day relationship, I really like what this says about Shin-young at this point in her life: that she wants to follow her heart and give in, but only to the extent where she can maintain some semblance of control. I know, it’s just an illusion. But she needs the illusion of control, just the same. It speaks to her fears, and gives her a lot of room to grow as a character. I just hope she doesn’t logic herself out of the long-term. Crossing my fingers for Day 11!

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70 February 28, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 10

by javabeans

This drama just keeps speaking to me — I can really relate to its characters and situations in a way that I generally can’t in most other dramas. I’m not 34 (yet!) and I don’t work in any of these professions and I’m not nearly as glam and awesome as these ladies, but the situations and feelings are pretty accessible. I wonder if this makes it LESS accessible to people outside its target — as in, males or younger girls/women who aren’t yet thinking about their careers — but as an independent woman trying to balance my own life, there’s a lot that rings true. (It’s just tweaked to maximize the humor and has more fabulous clothes than in real life, of course!)

SONG OF THE DAY

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry OST – “눈물이 별되어” (Tears become stars) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 10 RECAP

When Shin-young sees Sang-woo at the sauna, she excuses herself from Min-jae and follows him out. She doesn’t lie — what Sang-woo saw was what it looked like — and starts to explain that she won’t make excuses for her behavior. Sang-woo cuts her off, not in the mood to hear this, and leaves.

Shin-young rejoins Min-jae, withdrawn now. She merely says she’s tired, and as they listen to music together, she murmurs to herself, “It’s better this way.”

Sang-woo drives home in a glum mood, and notices Sang-mi on the street hailing a taxi. Curious, he follows her to a hotel, keeping at a distance as he trails her inside the building. He watches in concern as an obviously upset Sang-mi makes her way upstairs and finds her way to a particular room.

Sang-mi hesitates at the door before knocking, as though mustering her courage to confront her fear. And when the door opens, her reaction confirms that it must be a damning sight. Without a word, she turns and hurries down the hall, stumbling to the ground in her haste.

Sang-woo calls her name and goes to her side — but seeing him here adds mortification to the hurt she’s already feeling, and Sang-mi rushes off.

Sang-woo races downstairs after her, and finds her sitting outside in the cold. Apologetically, he explains that he saw her taxi and followed her here without thinking. (It’s worth noting that despite his claims that Shin-young is his soulmate, Sang-woo’s emotions regarding Sang-mi seem sincere in a fundamental, heartfelt way that we don’t see with Shin-young.)

Sang-woo kneels before her to put her fallen slipper back on her foot and covers her with his coat. He offers to take her home.

Sang-mi sighs, “It’s not the first time, but today is the first… Today isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a call that my husband was seen with another woman, but today was the first time I’ve come to confirm it. Today I wanted to see it for myself.”

The meaning of this isn’t lost on Sang-woo. Sang-mi has been ignoring her husband’s infidelity because she feels that her life has peaked and there’s no point to confrontation. But this statement suggests that Sang-mi finally has something (or someone) to look forward to, and finally wants to confirm that her marriage is over.

Sensing this, Sang-woo leans in and kisses her. She doesn’t recoil, but a few seconds later she breaks it off, apologizing. She breaks down in tears and asks him to take her somewhere, anywhere.

Sang-woo takes her to his apartment, where she sits numbly in the dark. When he moves to flick on the lights, she asks him not to.

The mood is tense and grave; Sang-mi asks, “Don’t treat me well. Don’t praise me, either. Being doted on is awkward for me.”

She gets up to leave, but Sang-woo grabs her hand and says, “Don’t go.” He looks at her intently, hovering for a moment with his face close to hers, which gives Sang-mi the opportunity to pull away… but she doesn’t, and Sang-woo kisses her. She even reaches up on tiptoe to meet him.

And then, omo! Bedtime already? I wasn’t expecting their relationship to move so fast, but I suppose they’re the most “mature” storyline. A tear escapes from Sang-mi’s eye, and the camera lingers on the ring on her finger, showing us that Bu-ki’s good-luck ring has done its job.

Ban-seok has two confessions: First, that he’d given Shin-young chocolates. Da-jung gives him an easy out, because a doctor can do that for his patient, and he jumps on that excuse… but he catches himself and admits that he did harbor a tiny bit of interest in Shin-young at first. He didn’t want Da-jung to find out later and be hurt by it. (Yay for honesty.) The second part is to assure Da-jung not worry about his father’s opposition and ask for her to have faith in him.

Walking outside, Ban-seok suggests that the they escape the cold to go inside for a glass of wine at his place. I’d say he’s trying to be smooth, but it’s clear to anyone with half a brain that he’s trying to get her into his apartment, and Da-jung understands this. Hilariously, her reason for hesitating is because she had worn her granny panties tonight (she fell behind on her laundry) and her slip is ripped at the seam. (Who hasn’t been here?? LOL.) Modestly, Da-jung agrees to have one glass of wine.

As they watch The Notebook, both become uncomfortable when a sex scene comes on. This is Ban-seok’s moment to make a move, and he does it with all the grace of an elephant on crack. He jumps on top of her and bursts out in agitation that he’s not a player, that she knows his true heart, and asks to spend this night together.

(Sidebar: I’m sometimes uncomfortable with depictions of sex in kdramas that depict the cultural expectation that men will be aggressors and that women, even when willing, are supposed to resist a little. It mimics the dating pattern — the girl is supposed to reject, and the guy is supposed to persist to prove how serious he is. This, of course, can result in crossed wires because there’s no way to distinguish when the rejection is coyness and when it’s sincere. In fact, I’ve known this to present serious problems in real life when the guy just doesn’t accept the no. In this case, I’m appeased by the knowledge that Da-jung may actually be open to the idea, and is resisting because of her embarrassment over her shabby underwear.)

Da-jung shoves him back, and he confesses that he defiantly told his father they’d make a grandchild first. She doesn’t want Ban-seok to turn her into *that kind of woman* — the kind who trapped her husband through pregnancy.

Following their night at the sauna, Min-jae and Shin-young have breakfast together, their moods light and happy. He explains that although his dream was to have his own band, he figured he’d graduate from school first, and asks her to be understanding “for being a little cowardly, and thinking a lot.” This may be because he’s still cautious about the future, and Shin-young teases, asking how a guy who’s cowardly could get off being so bold with her. Min-jae replies, “I didn’t know I’d be like this. This is love, I think.” He also invites her to have dinner with his mother later, and Shin-young jokes that she’d better not be the same age.

Speaking of whom, Sang-mi wakes up early that morning and leaves the apartment feeling conflicted, which means Sang-woo wakes up alone. I wouldn’t say she’s regretting the night, but that she’s troubled over what this means. She hesitates a long moment when Sang-woo calls, wanting to answer but ultimately letting the call go.

Min-jae drops by Sang-woo’s apartment and tries the code, a little disappointed to see that his mother wasn’t joking when she said she was kicking him out. The code has been changed and the door won’t open, so he turns to go. Sang-woo hears the attempts to open the door and wonders if it’s Sang-mi — but thankfully, he avoids an awkward scene by opening the door a few moments too late, after Min-jae has turned the corner.

Sang-woo texts Sang-mi to ask if she had just stopped by, and mentions that he feels slightly unwell. She doesn’t respond.

Following the unexpected sauna run-in, Shin-young asks for a meeting with Sang-woo and explains the situation fully. She likes Min-jae a lot, but because she lacked confidence in their ten-year age gap — fearing that she would end up hurt if/when they split — she asked for ten days together. This explains why she initially lied to Sang-woo about being busy for the next ten days, and she admits honestly, “I’m coward. I even lied to you.” She continues, “I wish I were a confident woman who could say, ‘It’s fine that he’s 10 years younger, and I can date without marrying.’ But I’m not — I’m afraid of turning 40 without marrying.”

Sang-woo is a little wrapped up in his own emotional issues and comments flatly, “You’re really getting your revenge on me.” He’s a little impatient and asks, “So are you saying you’re sorry for yesterday and want forgiveness?” Honestly, he’s acting a little unfair here but I think he’s feeling hurt by Sang-mi and possibly guilty (because he’s the one who cheated). Hence, he’s overcompensating by making Shin-young into the bad guy.

Shin-young decides, “I’m sorry. I want to date Ha Min-jae. Even if we break up in a year, or two years, I want to try going for it.” Even though it’s a risk — and there’s that chance she could break up at the horrifying age of 39? — she figures that she’ll find a way out of it if/when that happens.

Sang-woo envies her courage, and his next statement isn’t purely hypothetical: “I don’t think I’d have that courage, even if I felt the attraction.”

Da-jung does her underwear laundry, but she’s convinced that had she been properly attired yesterday, it still wasn’t the right time to get intimate. Not under those circumstances. Ban-seok sends her flowers and health tonic with a note expressing his regrets, which he signs off with “I love you.” Da-jung drinks her tonic happily and replies that she’s not angry, and returns the “I love you.”

With Da-jung’s birthday coming up, Ban-seok starts ring shopping, but the idea of finding the right fit stresses him out, so he decides to find the ring later and start with a birthday present. His nurse advises him to buy an expensive gift, to which Ban-seok hotly defends Da-jung, calling her different from all those other materialistic women. (Oh, love is blind, isn’t it?)

As Da-jung and Bu-ki go shopping together, Bu-ki offers to throw a lavish house party at her place for her birthday. This offer is happily accepted, and Da-jung is diverted by a particularly nice handbag. She tries to send it mental messages so that Ban-seok will buy it for her birthday, although Bu-ki counters that a successful careerwoman such as herself ought to just buy it for herself.

Ban-seok bakes a cake as his birthday gift to Da-jung (and how many women watching thought, “Uh-oh…” at that?). At least Min-jae tells him that a mere cake isn’t enough, but Ban-seok assures him that he has other gifts planned. Still, he insists that Da-jung would be totally happy with just a cake!

Min-jae and Shin-young enjoy drinks at a bar when their cozy date is interrupted by Myung-seok, who enjoys putting Shin-young on the spot and belittling her relationship. So the rumors about her and Min-jae were true!

Rather than get into a confrontation, Shin-young and Min-jae get up to leave, but just as she passes Myung-seok, he mutters, “Are you out of your mind?” He leans in close to tell her that people might think Shin-young is playing around with a boy toy.

Check out the death glare on Min-jae’s face. Shin-young doesn’t see his expression, but she’s doing fine on her own and assures her sunbae that she’s not just playing around. At his incredulous question of whether this means she’s dating seriously, she answers without hesitation: “Yes. We’re dating seriously and we like each other. So what?”

As they leave, Min-jae admits that he was about to punch the guy, but held back because she said she likes him.

Ban-seok finally succeeds in making a decent cake after ruining several attempts. The night before her birthday party, he takes her out for a birthday dinner. He had actually gone shopping at an upscale store for a birthday present, and had asked the saleswoman for the nicest, most expensive outfit in the store. But wouldn’t you know it? Da-jung comes out wearing the very same outfit. Thwarted!

Thus he can’t give her that part of the present, but he has faith that she will like his cake. When she opens the box, she does a pretty good job masking her disappointment and gives him a gracious response, saying that she’s really touched.

Da-jung maintains the happy act until he drops her off at her apartment. But once there, she imagines her friends’ response and pictures them diving into the cake, expecting jewelry and coming up empty-handed.

How humiliating would that be? No, she can’t have that, and urgently calls a clothing storeowner — you know she’s got to be a great customer if she’s got the owner in her phone book — to ask for an emergency shopping session. The store won’t open until morning, so she heads to an all-night sauna instead. There, she eats the cake by herself, growing more despondent the more it becomes clear that nothing’s inside. Even so, she eats every last bite glumly.

First thing in the morning, Da-jung rushes into the store and buys herself an extravagant dress and coat and has them gift-wrapped. (The cost makes her eyes widen, and even someone as well-off as Da-jung has to put the payment on a 12-month installment plan. Again: who hasn’t been there, right? Ten minutes to make an irresponsible decision, and twelve months to pay it off — with interest!)

Shin-young and Bu-ki wonder why Da-jung has been out all night. Shin-young had worked late and talked to Min-jae on the phone, and therefore knows that Ban-seok was home. As a result, she and Bu-ki trade confused looks when Da-jung comes bouncing in gaily and announces that she and Ban-seok watched the sunrise together.

She misinterprets their skeptical looks (thinking they assume she’d slept with him), so she insists, “Really, we were outside.” Still, they’re impressed at the extravagant gift, which Da-jung attributes to Ban-seok keying in to her sense of style.

That evening, the group gathers for the party at Bu-ki’s, which is, as promised, an elegant affair.

The next exchange between Min-jae and Da-jung is amusing, but more importantly, it’s one of those conversations that demonstrates in a nutshell why this whole age thing is a significant issue. Although age gaps in relationships may not be the end of the world, this exchange shows how age is always a constant presence in Korean social interactions — for example, it’s almost impossible to have an extended conversation without both sides knowing how old the other person is relative to himself, because age dictates how they speak.

To wit: Min-jae calls Shin-young “Shin-young-sshi” or “Shin-young-ah,” which puts them on the same level. This suggests he could call her friends by their first names as well, once they become friendly enough to be comfortable with it. However, Da-jung feels the age difference so she doesn’t want to be called by her first name by someone 24 years old, so she requests to be called “noona.” But Min-jae doesn’t want that (it draws attention to his youth), so he offers to call her “Ms. Jung Da-jung.” But SHE doesn’t like that, because it’s sorta like saying “ma’am” and draws attention to her age. So she says he can call her “Chloe,” since that’s her English name. But he doesn’t like that. Sigh! They are at an impasse without many other options, so Da-jung pouts (playfully), “You suck. Na Ban-seok is the best.”

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The happy couple has a turn at the karaoke machine, and the rest of the party giggles to see how adorable they are together. The song is appropriate to the occasion, as Humming Urban Stereo’s “Hawaiian Couple” is basically a couple singing about how cute they are together. [ Download ]

As they watch, Shin-young offers to sing Min-jae’s “Woman Who Cut My Guitar String,” since it was written about her.

Bu-ki calls for everyone’s attention, and urges Da-jung to show off her new stylish outfit. Although Da-jung had asked her friends not to ask Ban-seok about his supposed gifts, Bu-ki can’t help but congratulate him on his wonderful taste. This wipes the smiles from Da-jung’s and Ban-seok’s faces.

Outside, Ban-seok asks if she lied that the gifts were from him. She answers yes, because she wanted to help him gain favor with her friends, who would be impressed. After all, it’s better than admitting all she received was a cake. Hurt, he asks if one cake was too pathetic of a gift. Da-jung answers with tears in her eyes, feeling both defensive and hurt.

Da-jung: “Yes. At 34, I finally met a man I want to marry and on this miraculous day, can’t I brag just a little more? Can’t I fib a little about being a princess in your eyes? You have a father who disregards me because I’m old — see what would happen if I said I only received a cake as a present. How miserable would I look?”
Ban-seok: “Miserable?”
Da-jung: “Yes. I rather die than admit I only received a cake from my boyfriend!”
Ban-seok: “Do you know what the best present in my life was? It was the heart cookies you made for me. Of all the presents I’ve received, that was the best! So I went to a class and made that cake after failing eight times. How could you call that cake miserable? And I did buy you clothes, but you came out wearing the same thing so I couldn’t give them to you.”
Da-jung: “I didn’t know that.”
Ban-seok: “I’m sorry for giving you a miserable present.”

As Ban-seok walks off, Da-jung calls after him, crying that she’s sorry and that she was wrong: “I don’t want to cry alone on my birthday anymore!”

Around the corner, Bu-ki and Shin-young witness this scene with sympathy. Knowing that this would just make her mortification worse, they agree not to tell Da-jung that they saw.

Another relationship on the skids (and before it even started!) is Sang-mi and Sang-woo. She tries to deal with her conflicted emotions by immersing herself in dance, but it doesn’t do the job. Finally, she responds to his earlier text message: “Sang-woo-sshi, my reply is late. I’m sorry. Is your illness severe?”

This puts the ball in his court, and Sang-woo battles his own conflicting emotions. Flashing back to his previous encounters with Sang-mi — and the night they spent together — he screams in frustration.

As a result, Sang-woo calls Shin-young at work, where she’s meeting with her team about ideas for their first program. (She had confronted her boss about Myung-seok butting into her program, and warned that if it happens, she’ll take her team and make a new program.) Btw, there’s a bad reshoot here that is so obvious that it’s funny — Shin-young answers her cell phone, but in the next shot, she’s on a land line.

Sang-woo insists on seeing Shin-young immediately in the lobby, where he begs her to take him back. (Confronted with his feelings for Sang-mi, he’s running scared, just as she was.) Sang-woo insists that their recent bumps are merely minor hurdles that every couple goes through, which will pass in time. He vows that she’s the one for him. Even when Shin-young reminds him that she likes someone else, he brushes that aside, saying that she’s just flattered by Min-jae’s attention. If the SNSD girls came and said they liked him, he’d be conflicted too, but it would be fleeting.

They don’t see that Min-jae is also in the lobby, and overhears this conversation with growing anger. All episode, he’s been increasingly bothered whenever Sang-woo has been mentioned, and this is the last straw. Even though Shin-young remains firm that she likes Min-jae, he gets up and walks up to the table, where he grabs her hand. He tells Sang-woo firmly, “She’s my girlfriend. Don’t come looking for her like this anymore.”

Agitated, he pulls her away and demands to know why Sang-woo is here — is it because today’s the last of their ten days? He warns, “I have no intention of letting go, so if you want to run away, try running.”

Shin-young understands his reaction, but also knows that he must have heard her answer. He heard her telling Sang-woo that she likes Min-jae, so why is he still acting like this?

Min-jae: “Because my heart races. Because I can’t calm myself. I know I’m not in a one-sided love, but suddenly I couldn’t breathe.”

Gently, Shin-young says she’ll see him later. He agrees, but has trouble letting go as she starts to walk away. Intently, he says, “I love you.” She returns, “I love you too.”

This time he lets her walk away, and though there are tears in his eyes, finally he’s able to smile in relief.

Sang-mi comes by Bu-ki’s restaurant to return the lucky ring. She admits, “Luck came my way but it was difficult to handle, so I’m afraid.” When she was 20 and immature, Sang-mi had given in to a brief passion that ruined her life. Now she feels a similar “fire,” and it’s giving her a hard time.

Bu-ki advises Sang-mi not to struggle with it — why not just let it burn? If it scares her so much, she can turn away from it entirely. However, if that doesn’t work, she has no choice but to go with it anyway. If she feels pain, that’s something she’ll just have to experience.

Bu-ki has prepared the restaurant for a romantic evening for Shin-young and Min-jae to celebrate the start of their relationship. (And who among us wouldn’t want a fabulous friend like Bu-ki to throw us fancy parties for every occasion? Jealous!) Shin-young enters while Sang-mi sits with Bu-ki, fielding an exasperating phone call from Sang-woo. He admits he’s conflicted with feelings for another woman and is struggling to deal with it, and pleads with her to come to him. Sang-mi looks over and recognizes Shin-young, noting that she’s always really loud.

They manage to avoid an awkward confrontation because Sang-mi leaves before Min-jae arrives bearing roses. Shin-young notes that their ten days ends today: “Should we expand it to fifty years?”

Min-jae moves closer to kiss her on the forehead, then promises to slowly make his way down to her lips. Or should he just go for it now and save himself the anticipation? He hovers to plant a kiss (finally!) on her lips…

…and of course, this is the moment Sang-mi reappears to retrieve her forgotten scarf. Surprised, she calls out his name. Just as startled, Min-jae looks up: “Mom!”

(D’oh! Worst romance-killer ever?)

 
COMMENTS

I love that these characters do things that make me occasionally scream, “Noooo! Don’t you watch dramas? Don’t you know how this is going to end up?” because although they may make bad decisions in the moment, they’re learning from them. Other dramas with more extreme plots usually make their characters fight external demons, not internal ones. In this drama, most of the characters encounter conflicts that are largely of their own making but are still real and significant. Is this age thing being given a really high premium in this drama? Yes — but it’s so realistic that I don’t feel frustrated with it.

For instance, I cringed in the previous episode when Shin-young made her ten-day agreement with Min-jae, because what did she think was going to happen? On top of that, she lied to Sang-woo about it, which was one of those moments where you just wince in anticipation for the fallout. I’m thankful that she gets discovered, because now she has to face the truth, face that she hurt people with her indecision, and deal with it — and therefore I can go back to liking her unreservedly. She was treating both men like backups, and it made me wonder how it would feel to have both backups leave. Thankfully the one she really wants does understand that this is her way of convincing herself to try out the relationship, and that it’s his chance to prove what they both feel is true.

But like Sang-woo says, Shin-young may worry her head off about the issue but ultimately she makes all the courageous decisions. Before she makes a decision, she waffles back and forth to a frustrating degree, but ONCE she makes her decision, she’s firm as a rock. Witness her reaction to Myung-seok — she doesn’t even let that get under her skin and brushes it aside. And in the end scene with Sang-woo, again she is solid.

Also: How cute are they, right? (I actually like the grey hair on Min-jae. I don’t think he’s going to start any fashion trends — at least not on Gu Jun-pyo levels — but he wears it well. Kind of looks like a Final Fantasy character, no?)

As for Da-jung —

I wonder if she’ll be a controversial character among viewers, particularly after her lie in this episode. I think Ban-seok is perfectly justified in his reaction, but I did appreciate Da-jung’s honest response. Maybe much of the credit has to go to actress Eom Ji-won for giving Da-jung a vulnerability as she says that she wanted her friends to be impressed with her boyfriend. We know that they wouldn’t (and don’t) judge her for it, but she has her pride to save. This points more to Da-jung’s insecurities about herself rather than her friends, which is supported by her reminder that Ban-seok’s own father deems her below him. First, Ban-seok urged her to force a marriage by getting pregnant “purposely-on-accident,” which makes her into a lesser woman in society’s eyes. Then he gave her a cake for her birthday — a gesture that is meaningful to him but, in society’s eyes, may appear like he doesn’t take her seriously. The well-born, rich doctor doesn’t value his low-born girlfriend enough to give her a fancy present?

I’m not saying Da-jung is right in wanting more, but it shows that there’s more to these issues. Da-jung wants this relationship to work so much that she’s creating illusions — not only for the others, but for herself as well. A huge motif of this drama is overcoming societal pressure — to love freely without caring how others see you. But at the end of the day, it does matter how others see you. And Da-jung wants to enjoy being the woman who is fussed over by her boyfriend for a day. These couples have to decide whether their commitment to each other (both Shin-young/Min-jae and Da-jung/Ban-seok) overrides society’s expectations.

It’s interesting because I really like Ban-seok’s straightforwardness in this relationship, such as when he comes clean about having previously liked Shin-young, even when Da-jung gives him an excuse to save face. However, it illustrates his black-and-white way of seeing relationships, which seems kind of green. I’m starting to get to that stage in life where I see relationships through a greyer lens, and while I understand where he’s coming from, I think his naivete is born of inexperience. He’s the idealist, and Da-jung is the pragmatist. She’s wacky, selfish, and materialistic, but Ban-seok’s simple way of looking at relationships isn’t realistic, either — they’ve both got to give a little.

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56 March 4, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episode 11

by girlfriday

Ladies and gentlemen, we have THE KISS. This drama has been pretty stingy with the smoochies, but the build-up was so good that I may or may not have shouted, “Kiss her! Kiss her already!” at my tv more than a few times. I haven’t anticipated a kiss like this since Coffee Prince, and although the chemistry with this couple leans more towards cute than put-out-that-fire, it still wore out my rewind button. What? That’s not embarrassing.

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Shin-young and Min-jae celebrate the end of their Ten Days and the beginning of the rest of their relationship, sans deadline. Min-jae leans in for the kiss…and is thwarted by…Mom? Oh, crap.

Sang-mi freaks out, first at Min-jae’s silver hair (understandably strange for a mother to see), then at his being with Shin-young, a woman she knows to be Bu-ki’s age, and not to her general liking.

Min-jae tries to play the situation as casually as possible, thinking, hey, great, now you can meet my mother. Only that’s not really how Sang-mi wants this interaction to go. She storms out, and even though Min-jae says she’ll be fine, Shin-young insists he go after her. Good girl.

Min-jae runs after Sang-mi, and as expected, he gets an earful and a complete dismissal of his feelings. It’s clear that their relationship is already pretty strained; this is the first time Sang-mi is learning that Min-jae is staying at Ban-seok’s house, and they haven’t cleared the air over the music issue either, so there are more than a few things these two need to iron out.

As much as people are against Sang-mi, I think she’s a necessary character, and an interesting one too. She isn’t immediately likable because compared to our three leading ladies, she’s out of touch with her own heart and therefore out of touch with people, including her own son. She’s repressed and downtrodden, which are results of choices she’s made, but instead of making new choices, she’s staying in her quicksand life. It’s frustrating to watch. But I think the possibility of her life is what makes us all want to live like Shin-young, Da-jung, and Bu-ki. And my hope is that she realizes that it’s never too late to make your own way in life.

The other important role Sang-mi plays is as a foil to Min-jae, which is crucial in making him more than just a boytoy in the story. At twenty-four, Min-jae’s biggest hurdle in life is asserting himself as an adult and separating his life from his parents and their expectations. These are things that Shin-young has already done, but Min-jae is just now struggling with, and his interactions with Sang-mi make me empathize with him and take him more seriously.

Shin-young overhears all this, and although it’s the reaction she and all of us expected, she’s stricken with disappointment. Min-jae returns to the table and white-lies that his mom was just shocked by his hair and that he sent her home amiably.

Shin-young puts on a brave face and doesn’t let on that she knows. What I love is that both people know what the other is feeling, but are feigning ignorance in order to protect each other. I love Min-jae’s looks here, saying I know that you’re being brave for my benefit and I’m sorry that I can’t change that.

Sang-woo, still sick and lovelorn, calls Sang-mi. She’s conflicted, but decides to drop off some herbal tea for his cold. Sang-woo intercepts her at the mailbox, and she ends up cooking him dinner at his apartment.

The way these two look at each other is starting to mirror the way Min-jae and Shin-young look at each other, which is an intentional move to draw parallels between the couples.

Min-jae and Shin-young continue to reign as the cutest couple ever, by buying ridiculously giant furry hats and wearing them in the street like a couple of crazy people, which is exactly what people in love do.

Later that night, Min-jae decides to go to his old apartment, thinking that his mom just changed the lock code to spite him. Sang-mi, who is in the apartment RIGHT NOW, tells him frantically on the phone that she really did rent it out, and not to go back there.

Sang-woo overhears the conversation and asks Sang-mi about her son. She tells him that she got pregnant in college and that her son is twenty-four. Sang-woo in turn tells her about his ex who he was, until very recently, trying to win back. But he explains that her heart is elsewhere now, as is his.

Suddenly they hear a noise at the door. Min-jae has come up to try the lock anyway, hoping that his mom was just bluffing. Sang-woo and Sang-mi panic, but then Sang-woo says he’ll just answer the door as the new tenant. Only he doesn’t know that it’s Ha Min-jae standing on the other side of that door.

In a tense moment, Sang-woo reaches for the door handle, and Min-jae waits on the other side, and I’m totally conflicted here. Open the door! Wait, don’t open the door! On the one hand, I want him to open it and give Min-jae some leverage with his mom over the whole dating-a-woman-ten-years-his-senior thing. But on the other hand, I don’t want to put the brakes on Sang-woo and Sang-mi’s relationship so early, before either of them has made any real life changes, and this would surely put a damper on their secret love affair.

Sang-woo feels the same way, because he hesitates and decides not to open the door. He’s not ready to confront the reality of Sang-mi’s life, and is afraid that meeting her son would push them to part.

Outside the two continue to struggle with their conflicting feelings towards being together. Okay, you guys are starting to get a little whiny for my taste. Yes of course you have conflicting emotions, but don’t pretend like you’re just a victim of your own circumstance. You are grown adults. Pick a thing and go with it. You could learn a thing or two from a 24-year old.

Bu-ki comes home later that night to decompress from her day, but is bombarded by Shin-young, rattling off questions about Sang-mi. Bu-ki only tells her that Sang-mi is less than ten years older than them, and that she’s a regular customer at the restaurant.

Gotta give props to Bu-ki for remaining neutral here. It’s hard to be Switzerland when everyone wants something from you. But when you know everything in the universe, that’s the cross you have to bear.

Shin-young, riddled with self-doubt about Sang-mi, mopes in bed. Da-jung, still on the outs with Ban-seok since the birthday fiasco, joins her in a rather comical pouting session. They decide that they should just die and hug each other for comfort. I know it seems silly, but this is the stuff that gets you through life.

It turns out that Ban-seok is sick, not angry, and Da-jung stops by and apologizes to his doorbell, saying that she’ll take back all the clothes (ha) if he just gives her another chance. But Ban-seok is too sick to hear her apology.

At work everyone gives Shin-young knowing looks and snickers behind her back, and it makes her suspicious that her evil sunbae Myung-seok outed her relationship with Min-jae. She confirms the rumor with her staff, as they all make bets on how long it’ll last, right in front of her.

Min-jae consoles her as they walk down the hallway holding hands (aw). Shin-young asks if he’s close to his mom, which he confirms, and wonders if they should lie about her age to say that she’s 29. Min-jae says no without hesitation, which is why we love you! He invites her to lunch with his mom and she politely declines, saying that it’s too soon.

Min-jae goes downstairs to meet his mom. And Boy, are you sweet-talking your own mother right now? You are! And she’s totally falling for it!

I see now that these two used to be really close (which would have been helpful information earlier on, but whatever. It’s not like I need to know things).

Sang-mi’s good mood doesn’t last long, as she lays down the gauntlet at lunch. She tells Min-jae that a “woman like that” would have no trouble seducing a kid like him. To his credit, Min-jae makes several attempts to have a civil conversation with his mom about his new girlfriend. He actually seems surprised when he realizes that his mom isn’t going to jump on the Shin-young bandwagon just because he’s in love with her. Oh, Min-jae, sometimes you are so naïve it’s cute.

Sang-mi doesn’t budge an inch, and Min-jae realizes that convincing his mom is going to take some doing. He puts on his resolve face.

Meanwhile, Shin-young’s news team comes upon the conversation, wondering who Min-jae is with in the cafeteria. One of them muses, “You don’t suppose he’s got an even older girlfriend on the side?” which made me laugh out loud and then feel gross about it.

So they eavesdrop on the entire conversation, then blab about it publicly in the elevator, (I hate people who lay your beeswax bare at work!) which Myung-seok overhears. He of course goes straight to Shin-young to rub her nose in her younger boyfriend’s mother flipping her giblet in the cafeteria. Shin-young bites right back, retorting sarcastically with Myung-seok’s own words that she’ll just use Min-jae and leave him. Only that’s when…

…Sang-mi appears. Dag nab it, universe! It’s like you hired a team of writers to foil her every move! Shin-young runs after her, calling her “mother,” which Sang-mi does NOT like at all. Have to admit; it’s weird.

This is one of those language-age pickles that this drama does so well. You would normally call your boyfriend’s mom “mother,” but they’re so close in age that it’s decidedly unnatural. But you can’t call her by her name, as that is disrespectful. So basically you’re screwed. It’s something you can’t escape if you’re speaking Korean, as the cultural hierarchy (predicated on age) is built into the language itself, as javabeans so succinctly summarized in the last recap.

Sang-mi asks Shin-young not to see Min-jae anymore and asks for her business card, saying that she hopes she won’t have to use it. Shin-young tries to gloss over that part and be friendly, but Sang-mi’s not having any of that and she walks away.

Ban-seok is still sick in bed when his dad arrives with a fruit basket that someone left on his doorstep. Ban-seok reads the card, and realizing it’s an apology from Da-jung, rushes over to her apartment. Da-jung is too busy wallowing to answer the door, but her expression when she sees that it’s Ban-seok is priceless:

They reconcile their birthday fight and Ban-seok announces happily that his father has agreed to meet Da-jung one more time. Da-jung of course cannot leave anything to so fickle a thing as fate, and decides that they need a plan to win his father over.

Shin-young spends some time alone, reflecting on the age/mother conundrum, and avoids Min-jae, giving an excuse when he asks her to go to a friend’s concert.

Sang-mi seeks some dirt on Shin-young from Bu-ki, but Bu-ki not only remains Switzerland, but gives her some sound advice too. She tells Sang-mi that she’s just driving the kids to be together, and that she should just let it be.

Sang-mi admits that she’s less cosmopolitan than she thought; she might be able to understand their relationship as a woman, but as Min-jae’s mother she cannot accept it. Bu-ki, taking the words right out of my mouth, tells her why not be both then? Cause, uh, last time I checked, one’s kind of a prerequisite for the other.

Sang-mi ends up at Sang-woo’s mailbox again with some new tea to drop off. She’s made it a habit of coming here in her emotional distress, only she fails to recognize it. Or she’s lying to herself about what it means. Sang-woo, who has taken to stalking his mailbox for this very reason, takes her out for a date.

Shin-young wallows alone at work that night, and what is with all the pity parties in this episode? I hate being invited to pity parties. No matter how many nice things you say and how much wine you drink, nobody hears you and nobody has a good time.

The perfect cure? One adorable Ha Min-jae to put on his pouty face because you’re being a no-fun fuddy-duddy and leaving him dateless. I challenge you to resist!

They end up at the club and Min-jae manages to break Shin-young out of her funk. The looks they steal at each other…they kill me.

We get back to Sang-woo and Sang-mi’s date as they arrive at…oh my god…it’s the same club. Listen, Show, you’re making Seoul seem like some tiny town with one restaurant and one bar with all the coincidental run-ins in one episode. I suppose since Sang-woo picked the club because of the musician, and he’s already been established as a Ha Min-jae/indie band fan, it could be explained, but I feel a little piece of my soul die as I do it.

Both couples are oblivious to each other’s presence, but when Sang-woo leaves to answer a phone call, Sang-mi takes a look around and sees Min-jae and Shin-young, doing a little bit of this…

And a little bit of that…

AWK-ward.

As Sang-mi watches from behind, Min-jae kisses Shin-young on the cheek, then taps his own cheek to solicit a kiss in return. Aaack! I am totally falling for your playful charm, you cheeky little man-child!

Shin-young looks embarrassed at first, but then leans in to kiss his cheek, as Min-jae turns his head…TOWARD her…omo! And they end up in a liplock. We have contact!

I like that the kiss had a slow build, as in all kdramas (which is something I’ve always liked because it’s more narratively satisfying that way) but I like even better that it wasn’t a dramatic slow-motion conflict-driven kiss, but rather something cute, fun, and realistic, in keeping with this drama’s levity.

Both Shin-young and Sang-mi are surprised by the kiss, but their reactions are not quite in the same ballpark, or you know, stratosphere.

Sang-mi runs out of the club, making excuses to Sang-woo, who thankfully has not witnessed any of the kissage. I say thankfully more for Min-jae and Shin-young’s sake, as I would hate the moment to be spoiled by the untimely realization that your mother is dating your girlfriend’s ex.

Sang-woo follows her out of the club. Sang-mi gets recognized by her husband’s colleagues, who make the assumption that she and her husband are of a kind when it comes to philandering. It calls attention to her sticky situation in an unflattering way.

Sang-woo returns with flowers and two cans of beer. You sneaky man, are you trying to win me over this late in the game? The two of them take one step forward, two steps back, as always concerning their will-they-won’t-they affair, and do some kissing of their own.

Bu-ki and Da-jung come up with a plan for Ban-seok’s father, and go to recruit Shin-young in their scheme, only she’s busy STILL wallowing. Have to say, getting tired of all the downers moping about this episode.

Da-jung and Bu-ki tell her to snap out of it, that she can’t expect everything to be so easy right from the get-go and that she should fight for Min-jae, confirming why I love these characters.

Looks like the girls got the job done; Shin-young sneaks into Min-jae’s practice studio and yanks out his guitar cable, mimicking their meet-cute in the first episode. Then Min-jae gives her another guitar lesson, which I’m going to have to start using as a metaphor for something naughty if they keep this up.

They go out on a date, and while Min-jae buys her flowers, we get a patented Shin-young voiceover. I’ve missed these.

Shin-young (voiceover): “We walk, and walk, and face mountains to climb.
We live and live, and encounter new things to learn.
We eat three times a day, but digest it all.
How can we live a lifetime on one experience?
Every time we love we learn
When a mountain appears we climb it
The times I thought I knew life
The times I was thrown by a small rock
Now I’m learning anew
Spring is coming
This man who brought spring to me
I want to remain by his side for a long long while
Today, with a hundred times the courage
This is Lee Shin-young”

And now it’s time for sketch comedy hour as the girls stage their Operation: Father-in-law. Ban-seok and Da-jung are having a passive-aggressive chat with his father, when in bursts Shin-young, looking like…I can’t even describe this…

…as Ban-seok’s ex-girlfriend/stalker who is still in love with him. And right behind her comes Bu-ki, looking funktastically hilarious as the older sister who is demanding Ban-seok take responsibility and marry her right away.

They overact the whole thing (the characters, not the actors, if that makes sense) and Ban-seok’s father is so shocked that he hastily approves of a marriage with Da-jung. Cut to:

Oh my goodness, we finally got here! I’m so happy for this character right now. She wanted it so badly and dragged us along on the wacky adventure to putting on this dress, but it all seems worth it now.

Bu-ki and Shin-young come out in ridiculous pink bridesmaid dresses, and Shin-young appropriately asks, “Do I have to wear this? Can’t we just skip it?” And even though that’s exactly how I would feel, something about this moment between the three of them is so sweet and perfect, hideous pink dresses and all.

Min-jae makes another attempt to convince his mom about what a great person Shin-young is, to no avail. Sang-mi tells Min-jae that his father asked for a divorce, but that she’s not granting one until after Min-jae is married, as it may lessen his desirability as a potential marriage partner. Excuses! You really have to stop thinking you can live your life for other people. That way leads to tears and gnashing of teeth.

Min-jae rightly tells her not to do that, and to live the way she wants to. Sang-mi says it’s because she fears what she will give into if she divorces, and Min-jae picks up on the implication that she’s got a man in her life. He sweetly says that whoever her boyfriend might be, he would treat him well, like a friend. Oh, honey, you are so going to eat your words.

Shin-young hits another homerun at work and is celebrating with her team when she gets a call from Sang-mi asking to meet. Uh-oh. I know Sang-mi’s pretty toothless when it comes to dating, but she’s kind of scary as a mom.

They meet at the café downstairs and we commence with a face-off. She asks Shin-young if she’s introduced Min-jae to her own parents yet. Damn. Point, Sang-mi. She asks if Shin-young is dating Min-jae seriously, considering him as a viable marriage partner. Shin-young doesn’t flinch as she answers yes. Point, Shin-young.

Then Sang-mi is reduced to threats, as she tells Shin-young that she’s just an unsophisticated mother, and that she’ll drag Shin-young out by the hair and announce to everyone that she’s seducing her 24-year old son. Basically she’s pulling the I’ve-got-nothing-to-lose-while-you-have-a-career-to-save move. Sneaky. Point, Sang-mi.

Shin-young doesn’t back down and asks what Sang-mi will do if she keeps seeing Min-jae, implying that she’s not going to stop. Nice. Point, Shin-young. I like that she doesn’t fold here. I hate when kdrama characters get one stern talking to by a spiteful mother-in-law, then cower, break up, get sick…you know the rest. Looks like we’re going to have to call this one a draw.

Shin-young goes to see Min-jae, but is interrupted by a call from Sang-woo. He’s drunk and seeking a friendly shoulder to lean on, as he is heartbroken over the woman he loves…who is married…with a son. Shin-young senses the gravity of the situation and offers to come over.

Now, normally you would next be reading my rant over their co-dependency and using each other. But these two are now clearly in love with other people. So this feels more like two people who used to date eons ago, seeking each other out as old friends. Once you take the dating and marriage out of the equation, these two are actually sweet and chummy as friends.

Shin-young meets Sang-woo down in the lobby of his apartment building. They head upstairs with Shin-young saying, “Let’s drink all night!” which is of course the very moment that Sang-mi walks in and witnesses the whole thing.

Damn. This woman is having one messed up day.

The only thing I don’t like about this reveal is that now Sang-mi will assume that Shin-young is cheating on Min-jae, so I hope that isn’t something she uses against her. I would’ve rather had all four of them run into each other on the world’s most awkward double date, but it wouldn’t be a kdrama if one character didn’t agonize over something that everyone should be knowing.

I do like the way these two couples are set up to mirror each other. The age difference is the same, and the way they look at each other is mirrored both physically and metaphorically. Both women are in a stage of their lives that the men can’t know or empathize with, but they happen to be the perfect remedies for each woman. It’s a nice commentary on the ideal that love knows no age, while not being glib about the fact that society does.

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47 March 10, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 12

by javabeans

The gray hair is actually growing on me, and I think Kim Bum wears it well.

One single lady down, one (two?) more to go!

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Bum-soo – “그대와 영원히” (With You Forever) which is sung in this episode. [ Download ]

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

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

Sang-mi arrives in the apartment lobby just in time to see Shin-young, who’s here to offer Sang-woo a friendly shoulder to mope on. She recalls Sang-woo telling her about his ex and realizes Shin-young must be the woman, and follows them upstairs, where she hesitates in the hallway.

Inside the apartment, Shin-young asks about the source of Sang-woo’s depression — does he really like that woman that much, even though she’s married? Thinking that the woman’s son is a young child, Shin-young’s surprised to hear he’s a university student. They commiserate over their age-related love problems, though Sang-woo says Shin-young’s situation isn’t as bad as his own. At least she only has to get over the age gap; she’s not dealing with a spouse or child.

Shin-young confides that Min-jae’s mother came to see her, and the encounter left her feeling awful. Sang-woo points out that from a mother’s point of view this makes sense; this is one of those subtle examples that demonstrate how well these skewed-age couples are matched, because they think in similar terms. Sang-woo says that in her situation, it would have been better to bow her head and shut up, not talk back. (In a “traditional” scenario where the boyfriend’s mother is much older, this behavior would have been automatic, but with these confusing age differences, Shin-young was confused about proper etiquette.)

Belatedly, Sang-woo sees that Sang-mi had called, and calls her back. He invites her over to drink with a friend, which she declines while hurrying away from his apartment, not wanting to be caught here. Knowing her personality, Sang-woo suspects she may actually be calling from the lobby, and hurries down to catch her.

Sang-mi runs into her son in the lobby, who is here to pick up a misdirected package. She urges him away quickly, not wanting Sang-woo to find them here together, and therefore the lobby is empty when Sang-woo gets there.

Disappointed, he returns upstairs where he and Shin-young drink more. Half-joking and half-serious, Sang-woo asks whether he and Shin-young should marry, in an effort to forget his Love That Cannot Be. Shin-young does not approve and hits him over the head with her bag.

Sang-woo reminds Shin-young that this is her doing — she cursed him to fall in love with a married woman with a child and a bad temper. (Well, the curse was only partly true, since Sang-mi’s hardly ugly and fat.)

Shin-young clocks the seriousness of Sang-woo’s expression and asks whether he’s really thinking of marrying the woman if/when she gets divorced. He answers yes.

At home, Da-jung says her last goodbye to Shin-young as a roommate; from tonight, she’ll live with her parents until the wedding. A bit traditional of her, but Da-jung has a traditional streak in her.

Da-jung thanks Shin-young for putting up with her childishness, and tells her, “I’m so glad I don’t have to come home to a dark house or wake up alone anymore.” She wishes Shin-young luck with her romance as well.

Shin-young answers that she’s happy with living alone for now, but after Da-jung leaves, she looks around the place and says, “It feels so empty all of a sudden.” (And then farts. HAHA.)

Shin-young’s team celebrates another great broadcast, this one bringing in a 19.8%. The good news doesn’t last long, however, because Myung-seok has officially been added to her team. Shin-young complains to her (frankly wimpy) boss — she brought in highly rated program, so what’s the point in adding him? The deputy director makes bland excuses that this is “to make an even better program,” which of course Shin-young doesn’t buy.

Myung-seok can never let Shin-young enjoy her moment, and adds that the reason for her high rating is the timeslot — in fact, she should have produced a 25% if she were any good.

It sucks to be in the middle of an old boys clubs, doesn’t it? (I can identify with this on a personal level and it makes this storyline a little hard to watch without dramatic spikes in blood pressure. It’s infuriating, even if I do think Myung-seok is motivated by more than competitive spirit; I wonder if he’s got a bit of a thing for Shin-young and is acting out in a misguided schoolboy sort of provocation, like pulling braids or calling her names. But Gilbert Blythe he is NOT.)

The happy couple anticipate their wedding, and Ban-seok makes sure to size her finger perfectly, since he was so frazzled last time and couldn’t figure out what size to buy.

Ban-seok’s father gives his request (read: command) for the traditional bridal gifts to the groom’s family, which you can think of as a modernized dowry. It seemed earlier like the parents were letting them off easy; they said they have everything they need, so they just wanted a set of clothing per parent. Ban-seok obediently writes down the name of the brand, and Da-jung recognizes them as exorbitantly priced designer labels — in fact, one garment costs nearly 15 million won ($13,000).

Immediately, Ban-seok gets back on the phone to tell his father to pick something cheaper, overriding Da-jung’s protests that she’ll get blamed. True enough, right away she gets a text from Ban-seok’s father.

The father meets her at Ban-seok’s apartment, intent on delivering her a dressing-down. Ban-seok speaks up for his bride, but his father barrels right over his timid protests. In fact, in punishment for Ban-seok’s insubordination, now he’s doubling the order — TWO sets of clothing per parent!

Da-jung knows there’s no point fighting and agrees. However, she does ask him to stop referencing how old she is, because every criticism begins with the qualifier “At your age,” and it makes her feel bad.

In response, he doubles the order again, making it FOUR garments each! Ban-seok is about to have an apoplectic fit, but Da-jung agrees readily, saying with an edge to her voice, “I’m the top interpreter in this country. I’m capable of doing that much.”

Da-jung holds in her anger until she sees Bu-ki, to whom she complains fiercely. All told, eight garments from this brand adds up to about $100,000! Bu-ki makes a sly suggestion, telling Da-jung of a friend who had received such outrageous requests for the bridal gifts that in the end, the bride had given fakes. Too bad Da-jung can’t get away with this, since Ban-seok’s father is the type to get the gifts appraised straightaway.

Feeling miserable for the way his father treated Da-jung, Ban-seok gives her his bank book, seal, and PIN. He wants her to buy the gifts with his money. Da-jung protests, insisting she can afford to do it herself. Overcome with guilt, Ban-seok vows, “I’ll love you lots for the rest of my life, and I’ll treat your parents really well, I promise!”

This has an unexpected reaction: Da-jung starts to tear up, and runs into the bedroom before she bursts into tears. Ban-seok worries, but she cries, “I’m so happy, I can’t believe it. To be this happy, I must really have been lonely all this time. I’m so happy right now, my heart feels like it’s melting.” She grabs him in a hug and declares, “I love you so much!” He returns the sentiment.

Hilariously, with this issue settled, their minds turn to other thoughts, namely that they’re together alone in his bedroom. Demonstrating more of his elephantine grace, Ban-seok jumps on top of her, then nearly falls off the bed in his haste to undress.

Unfortunately for them, Dad re-enters the apartment in search of his forgotten cell phone, sending the couple scrambling to regain their composure. Ban-seok tries to act like nothing is up, but his father takes one look at his mussed hair and knows what they’ve been up to.

After his father leaves, Ban-seok returns to the bedroom, thinking to resume their liaison. Too bad Da-jung has found porn in his closet! He flings the magazines under the bed and insists is his only stash from years ago.

She accepts this, but she’s not in the mood anymore and she’s got an appointment to keep, so Da-jung leaves. Poor Ban-seok.

The presence of Myung-seok in Shin-young’s team meeting brings everyone down, aggravated by the fact that he summarily kills everyone’s story ideas.

Shin-young takes a break to drop by Min-jae’s studio and asks for a song to calm her spirits. The universe chooses that moment to have Sang-mi call her son, thereby ensuring that those spirits have got to remain ruffled for a moment longer.

Shin-young admits that she had met Min-jae’s mother, who is dead-set against the idea of them dating. Her declaration that she likes Min-jae seriously may have been the “wrong” thing to say to her boyfriend’s disapproving mother, but it makes Min-jae happy.

What bums her out about the parental opposition is that it’s not because Shin-young has a dozen divorces to her name or is a gambling addict — those are things she would understand. But it’s purely that she’s older than him, which is nothing she can control. Therefore, “It feels too unfair to step back because of that.”

Sang-mi has developed the habit of dealing with Sang-woo in passive ways; too uncertain to see him in person, she still comes by the apartment lobby occasionally and checks the mailbox. Today she finds a box containing pearl earrings and a note from Sang-woo saying that he’d like to see her before his next flight next week.

She runs into Shin-young in the lobby, who takes this opportunity to try to get along better. Shin-young asks to have lunch or tea together the next day, because she wants to tell her something. Sang-mi is not very cooperative and tells her to say it here. Shin-young answers, keeping her voice respectful, “I’m going to keep dating Min-jae. I really like him.”

Recognizing that this merits more discussion, Sang-mi agrees to meet her at her work cafe the next day. Shin-young receives her with warmth, not perturbed that this is obviously Sang-mi’s strategic choice to keep Shin-young on the defensive, since she has to be careful not to make a scene at work.

What follows is a verbal duel between the two women, cloaked in cold pleasantries. Sang-mi asks how it feels to date a student — do they have things to talk about? (Implication: You old thing can’t possibly communicate easily with a younger man.) Shin-young replies that she likes it; she offers advice, and Min-jae fills her in on youthful topics of interest. For instance, she has told him, “You never know what life brings, so pay some attention to your studies. I’d like if you could write music for movies, and later also lecture at university.”

Sang-mi says that she’s getting too far ahead of herself. Shin-young replies that Sang-mi must have wanted to tell Min-jae a similar thing. (Implication: You can try to deny it, but you agree with me.) Sang-mi comments that this makes it seem Shin-young is viewing Min-jae through mother’s eyes. (Implication: You sicko.)

Their voices are even and polite all through this, even as Sang-mi says that she wouldn’t date a 24-year-old if she were 34. Shin-young agrees: “I fell in love, and that man happened to be 24. What could I do?” Sang-mi is annoyed that none of her barbs are making an impact, so she retorts, “You seem quite sly.”

Shin-young is interrupted by Na Young-hee, who is essentially playing herself as a glamorous veteran television actress. Na congratulates Shin-young on her successful show, heaping on the compliments, and even asks for Shin-young’s autograph — her niece’s dream is to be a broadcast reporter and is a fan.

Sang-mi sits by with a sour expression on her face. She’s loath to admit, however grudgingly, that maybe Shin-young isn’t a horrible loser fox out to ensnare her innocent lamb of a son. (She lets slip that she knows who the woman is, which directly contradicts her previous statement that she doesn’t watch television. She’d said it as a jab at Shin-young, making light of her profession. Shin-young gracefully lets this slide.)

Of course, it turns out that Na Young-hee was sent by Shin-young’s colleagues purposely to make an impression on Sang-mi — it’s like Da-jung’s “get-married-scheme” in reverse.

Shin-young asks, “What was Min-jae like when he was young?” Sang-mi counters, “Isn’t he still young?” Shin-young replies, “No, he’s not. He’s a man to me.”

A seeming truce is struck when Sang-mi and Shin-young meet again, this time to show the latter baby pictures of Min-jae (and those really are Kim Bum, too cute!).

Just when you start to think that Sang-mi is warming up to this whole relationship, she introduces Shin-young to a gaggle of young ladies, all students, who join them at the table. Soon it becomes clear: this is Mom’s revenge, haha. Not to be outdone, she has brought these girls here — all Min-jae’s childhood friends and classmates — to point out just how silly it seems for Shin-young to be dating him. In fact, he used to date one, and Yuri explains that they’d agreed to marry each other if they found themselves both single at 29.

Shin-young says she’s intending to introduce Min-jae to her mother soon. Sang-mi says, oh-so-politely, “Has she had her 60th yet?” (Sixty is a big birthday in Korea.) At that age, that makes her like a grandmother to Min-jae.

Shin-young forces great big laughs, smiling a too-big smile, because what else can she do?

When she sees Min-jae later, she brings up Yuri, muttering childishly that he should just date her then. She denies that she’s being jealous, but Min-jae knows better.

She’s here because she needs to pick out a song to sing at Da-jung’s wedding. As she tinkers with the keyboard, Min-jae looks at her intently, then tells her softly, “I’m going to propose to you within three years.”

Ban-seok presents Da-jung with a ring, sighing that it was incredibly hard to pick a design. He tells her she can exchange it if she likes, and I’m sure all women would like to be able to decline graciously that No honey it’s fine — but that is one damn ugly ring. So she says sweetly that yes, she will return it, but softens it by adding, “Thank you, I love you!”

However, trying on her wedding dress makes her think she looks even older, so she hies herself to the plastic surgeon’s office for a quick-fix remedy. Seeing the Botox needle gives her pause, but upon recollection of her father-in-law’s criticism, she goes through with it.

Over a mother-son dinner, Sang-mi tries to steer Min-jae’s interest toward Yuri, whom she talks up as pretty and sweet. Min-jae turns the conversation to his father, who is currently staying with his family and is preparing divorce papers.

Min-jae senses that his mother is hiding something from him — she’s looking happier these days and is even dressing up. When Sang-mi makes a pointed comment about Shin-young, he gently warns her, “Please don’t insult her.” He says that he’d treat her boyfriend well no matter his age, which is probably setting him up for a difficult challenge once the truth comes out about Sang-woo.

The next day, Sang-woo surprises Sang-mi in the grocery store (he’d been coming by often in hopes he’d run into her), since she doesn’t call him. They sit down for coffee, and he suggests that they have dinner with her son: “When you divorce, I want to propose to you. I’m serious.”

Surprised, Sang-mi takes a moment to respond, and the news isn’t good for Sang-woo. Her husband begged for forgiveness, and she decided to take him back. Sang-mi advises Sang-woo to do the same and get back with his girlfriend. He doesn’t see that as a possibility, since his ex is in love with another guy, “and I’m in love with you.”

Hurriedly, she cuts him off and pleads with her to get back with her, “for my sake.” She admits she was attracted to him, but her family is more important to her.

The three friends have one last dinner as a trio of singletons, where Da-jung stuffs her face. (She had dieted to fit into her dress, and now her face is wrinkly.) Warning her friends about looking older in a wedding dress, she urges them to take pictures now while they still look their youngest, either with their top marriage prospect or even solo. They can always photoshop them later. Haha.

And then they hit the karaoke room. (Impersonating… is that 2NE1? Sorry, I’m not up on my idol groups.)


And then, it’s wedding day!

The only hiccup comes when Bu-ki, walking down the aisle with Shin-young, recognizes Ban-seok’s father and her expression darkens, as does his. What can this mean?

Otherwise, all goes pretty smoothly. At one point Da-jung starts to tear up, so Shin-young grabs two spoons and makes funny faces to keep her from bursting into tears.

Shin-young gives a congratulatory address for the bride, starting off by saying that Da-jung has been often asked why such a smart, successful woman like her wants to be married so much. This speech takes the place of her usual voiceover:

Shin-young: “Da-jung is someone with the desire to share love. More than getting married, she wants a friend to eat together with, to walk the street with, to grow old with. Rather than being alone in an empty house, it’s much better to be with someone I love, who loves me. Living together, you may feel disappointed in each other and fight, but isn’t accepting all that what marriage teaches you? Our sweet Jung Da-jung — I hope you’ll live happily the rest of your life. This has been UBN News’ Lee Shin-young.”

Next, Min-jae steps up to give the address for the groom, and puts a frown on Ban-seok’s face by taking credit for this marriage as his frequent dating coach. LOL.

Min-jae: “Hyung showed me how much of a beautiful, courageous, and wonderful person you can turn into when a man loves a woman. It makes me think that I want to become an impressive person for the person I love now.”

With that, he starts to perform the song posted at the top, called “그대와 영원히” (With You Forever). It’s a Yoo Jae-ha song from 1987, but I actually prefer this version posted here, Kim Min-jong‘s version from 1996, because it feels more sincere. Lyrics here. [ Download ]

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

I love that as Min-jae sings, Da-jung and Ban-seok smile through clenched teeth and mutter to each other that this was supposed to be a song for them, but he’s using this as his own love confession! Ban-seok worries — what if Min-jae forces him to sing? He can’t sing!

His worry was well-founded, because Min-jae presents him with a microphone and forces him to sing. He’s bad, but it’s cute.

The mood is lively, and the event progresses to the festivities, where Shin-young catches the bouquet.

Meanwhile, Sang-mi finds out that Sang-woo has given his notice to move out of the apartment. She thinks to herself, “I miss you,” and calls him to ask why he’s moving. Sang-woo answers that it’s difficult on him, adding, “I love you, Sang-mi. Please take care.”

He asks to see her one last time, and when she starts to decline, he gives the name of the wedding hall in hopes that she will come to him.

Shin-young and Min-jae linger in the hall after everyone leaves. He asks what they should do tonight, and she suggests that they can hang out at home, eating dinner and watching a DVD. She’s thinking of a simple date, but Min-jae thinks with more seriousness, and asks meaningfully, “Can I sleep over?” She thinks for a moment, then answers, “Sure.”


Sang-mi arrives at the wedding hall to find it empty, and lingers for a moment. As she leaves, Sang-woo steps into the hall, and is so relieved to see her that he grabs her in a hug.

Shin-young wanders out in time to catch them kissing, and recognizes them both.

 
COMMENTS

Finally, a connection between the two couples! This has got to be awkward, particularly given how coldly Sang-mi has treated Shin-young. On the other hand, I wonder if this will give Shin-young insight into Sang-mi’s dislike of her. While I think Sang-mi’s attitude is perfectly believable just as a mother, I have to think there are self-loathing aspects tied in there.

Sang-mi and Shin-young are complete opposites, but by the same token, you could look at them as alternate-universe versions of each other. What could Sang-mi have been if she hadn’t accidentally gotten pregnant at twenty and had to marry a man who doesn’t love her? Min-jae has pointed out that Sang-mi is particularly harsh against career women. Normally I hate (hate HATE!) the “You’re just jealous” rationale applied to women (because it actually marginalizes valid reasons, since the jealousy argument paints women as irrational and emotional creatures and dismisses everything they have to say with one fell swoop — throwing the baby out with the bathwater). BUT, this is one of the few times where I feel it’s probably true, and built into Sang-mi’s character.

 
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76 March 11, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episode 13

by girlfriday

The Angst! Oh, the angst. There’s plenty of it to go round and round, though it’s Min-jae’s episode to shine, as he is understandably the one most squeaked out by the mother-girlfriend-boyfriend sharing. Yeah, come on…that’s weird. I’m surprised he didn’t toss his cookies right in front of them, but he does have a pretty-boy image to maintain. Christmasses are going to be SO awkward in this family…

 
EPISODE 13 RECAP

Shin-young approaches Sang-woo after the wedding, and comes upon him just in time to see him making out with…Min-jae’s MOM. My, my, such a public display. We’ve come a long way in one episode, eh?

Shin-young stands agape, completely befuddled at this turn of events. She really does have the darnedest luck when it comes to men. Hey, it’s still better than the cheating fiancé who wanted his ring back. That guy was a sack of poo.

She’s totally floored, and alternates between utter shock and bemusement, in the this-would-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-my-real-life kind of way. I half expect her to look around and go, “Ashton? Ashton?” She even imagines a scene from her future wedding, where Sang-mi and Sang-woo greet guests as Min-jae’s parents. Heh. That’s really the least traumatizing thing you could be imagining right now. I can think of things much, much worse, involving various people’s private bits. Just sayin.

Min-jae comes up and his curiosity is piqued by Shin-young’s bipolar reaction, but she makes excuses and he lets it go.

Sang-woo and Sang-mi head out together all lightness and joy, for the first time ever since they’ve met. It’s cute to see them happy and carefree, even if we know it’s only going to last half a minute. They eat lunch, being adorable at each other, saying that everything tastes better because they’re together. True.

Sang-woo still plans to move out of the fateful apartment, but Sang-mi tells him to stay. He asks to finally meet her son, which she agrees to, for some time in the near future. Nope, today, Sang-woo requests. Sang-mi hesitates, “Give me some time to think.” Sang-woo: “It’s not thinking you need time for. I’ll give you time to gather courage.” And a barf bag. Am I right?

Da-jung and Ban-seok head to the airport for their honeymoon, only on the way they realize that Ban-seok forgot their passports and plane tickets at home. Ha. What are we going to do with this guy?

So they end up at a hotel and Da-jung decides that they should just let everyone think that they went on their honeymoon after all. Ban-seok wonders if that’s necessary. Da-jung: “Yes, it’s necessary! Forgetting my passport and not getting to go on my honeymoon is not something that can be in the history of Jung Da-jung!” Her concern with external perception is unmatched in all the world, this girl.

She decides that in order to pull off the lie they need to look like they spent the week on a tropical island, so they head to the tanning salon. What follows can only be described as textbook Ban-seok hilarity, as he comes out looking very tan and muscular, to Da-jung’s delight, then takes off his sunglasses…

Ban-seok: “Is it possible…that I look stupid right now?” Well, when you ask it like that…

Oh, it’s time for Min-jae’s first visit to Shin-young’s apartment! Sexy fun times? Aw, man. The mother-Sang-woo revelation has put a damper on Shin-young’s mood. She’s on edge the whole time, while Min-jae is full of nervous excitement at being there.

Min-jae has thankfully changed his hair back to black, although I was just starting to warm up to the white.

Min-jae notices how distracted Shin-young is, and asks, “Do you have something on your mind? Why so lost in thought?” Shin-young hems and haws, then says gingerly, “I’m just asking this because I’m curious…how would you feel if your mother had a boyfriend?” Min-jae: “I’d be good with it. It’s something I always hoped for her. I told her she should get divorced and find someone new; that if it’s someone she loved, I would accept him.” You’re awesome.

Shin-young agrees: “Just like I expected: the devoted Ha Min-jae. So cool.” He adds, “My mom and her boyfriend, the four of us having dinner…I’d like that day to come.” Oh my goodness, it’s killing me, the everyone else knowing, including ME, and Min-jae is completely in the dark saying things like this. Tell him! Say it! You’re breaking my heart! But Shin-young just says vaguely, “It’ll come, that day…” I do not envy your position, Shin-young, caught between your boyfriend’s relationship with his mom and your own twisted fate in the whole thing.

Min-jae brings up Sang-woo, asking why he was at the wedding. This is Shin-young’s opportunity to ask leading questions about what he thinks of Sang-woo. Ha Min-jae? Not a fan. Well duh. If you hadn’t dated both of them at once, he might feel SLIGHTLY different about the man who used to be your lover, just maybe.

Just then, Shin-young gets a call from Sang-woo, and they make a plan for him to come over later so they can talk. Min-jae is perturbed at their meeting, and doesn’t want him coming up to the apartment. Shin-young attempts an explanation: “The three of us, we might have things to talk about tonight.” Well, that’s an understatement. Min-jae misinterprets the situation as Shin-young wanting to set Sang-woo up with his mom, and vetoes the idea, right quick. If only that were the case. Even though that would make Shin-young a crazy person.

Luckily, Min-jae gets a call from his mom, telling him that she’s met someone she likes, and she wants to talk to him about it. These are good signs, if this is normally how open their relationship is.

While Shin-young could say something here, I think she’s right to keep her mouth shut. If she had no indications that Sang-mi were going to tell him tonight, I might feel differently. But he’s clearly going to meet her to discuss her new boyfriend and probably meet him, so I think her instincts to hold her tongue and let his mom be the person to tell him is right. It’s kind of not her place, in a way. Even though, for goodness sakes, I wish someone would just put him out of his misery. His adorable happiness for his mom is just making it all the worse.

Min-jae gets up to leave and Shin-young starts, “Jagi, do you want to hear what I have to say first…” but trails off, then decides against it: “Nevermind. You’ll do the right thing. If you need someone to talk to later tonight, come by any time.” That’s a rock solid girlfriend right there. Min-jae just makes sure she’s not going to let Sang-woo into the apartment when they meet later. Cute, but totally the least of your worries right now, dude. He leaves and Shin-young buries her head and ekes out, “What do I do?”

Min-jae meets his mom at a café, all abuzz because he’s so genuinely happy for her. Sang-mi is relieved and grateful, and really wants him to like her new boyfriend, which makes me wonder why she can’t be slightly more empathetic towards Shin-young. But whatever.

Just as Min-jae is giddy with anticipation over what kind of man his mom is dating, Sang-woo excitedly walks up to the café, and just before walking in the door, looks in the window…

…and inside is Sang-mi, sitting across from none other than Ha Min-jae. Sang-woo has a quiet but substantial freak-out, mirroring Shin-young’s reaction earlier. In disbelief, he mutters, “This isn’t it…this can’t be.”

His first instinct is to call Shin-young. She’s waiting, phone in hand, knowing what’s about to go down. Sang-woo: “Shin-young, I’m seeing this scene unfold in front of my very eyes and I can’t believe it. Call an ambulance to your house first, then I’ll tell you what I’m looking at right now.” At this, Shin-young asks frantically if he’s there with Min-jae right now. Sang-woo: “What is this? Did you know?” She tells him she just found out today at the wedding and nearly fainted. He counters, “My hair is turning white right now.” Oh, not you too! We just got Min-jae back in black!

Sang-woo contemplates, “So, if things go well for both of us, you’ll be my daughter-in-law? That’s not right.” Shin-young is quick to agree: “I can’t accept you as my father-in-law either. That’s not going to happen. Dating someone ten years younger is hard enough, plus his mother who’s barely older than me, and now I have to add you too?” Seriously. Girl can’t catch a break.

Oh, to hell with it, Sang-woo decides: “Lee Shin-young, get over here. As long as it happened this way, let’s just go for a head-on collision. Get over here right now.” Damn, Sang-woo, I really like your style here. So direct and taking charge. If you had been like this earlier, I totally would’ve loved you like a classic second lead.

Sang-woo gathers himself and goes inside. He actually acts very calm and together, which is a good approach. Those five minutes outside really gives him the upper hand here. Min-jae wants to know what on earth Yoon Sang-woo is doing there.

Sang-mi is surprised that they recognize each other, and at first I’m going, what? Why are you pretending to be surprised, cruel, cruel woman? And then it occurs to me that even though she knows about the Shin-young connection, she doesn’t know that these two already know each other. So maybe she was hoping that Shin-young wouldn’t come up in the conversation? That’s a risky move. Sang-woo just says that they’ve met once at a party and that he’s a fan of Min-jae’s. I feel like all these white lies are moot at this point. Clearly, the shit? Hath hitteth the fan.

Min-jae grows pale at the realization that Sang-woo is the boyfriend, and excuses himself to go outside. He looks like he might throw up or faint, but mostly he just angsts for the camera. Shin-young comes running up, and Min-jae, angry, demands, “You knew, didn’t you? That’s why you asked me about Yoon Sang-woo earlier?”

Shin-young tells him she just found out today, which appeases him. I have to agree. That makes all the difference, her knowing only a few hours sooner than him. Days would be bad. Weeks, worse. Months…Coffee Prince-level angst. Min-jae: “I won’t allow it.” Shin-young: “If you don’t, then what are you going to do?” At this, he grabs her by the hand and they go inside.


Here we go! Most awkward double date ever. Oh man…these icy cold stares that they’re giving each other send chills up my spine. This is going to be bad. I bet my left foot everyone’s going to say something they’ll regret. Sang-mi tells them to sit. They do, and the way they’re sitting says a lot about the situation. Sang-woo and Sang-mi look like the parents here, not by age, but by stature. They’re sitting upright and taking charge of the situation in their demeanor. Min-jae and Shin-young are hunched over, feeling small and powerless, but they hold hands the entire time, relying on each other. Both couples look like a unit, though each in their own way.

Min-jae starts with the demands: “Mom, I’d like for you to break up with Yoon Sang-woo. You lived a loveless life with Dad for twenty-four years. Shouldn’t you meet a better person and live a better life?” He cites Sang-woo’s dumping Shin-young as a sign of his unfaithfulness, and tells his mom she has bad taste in men. Right in front of two women who have both loved Sang-woo, not to mention Sang-woo himself. Not really the angle you should go for, I think.

But Min-jae doesn’t care. He wants his mom to meet a better man. He literally says, “better man.” Yikes. To which Sang-mi throws back, “Is that why you’ve been dating a woman ten years older than you, as if rebelling?” Min-jae throws it right back at Sang-woo: “Who is HE rebelling against, dating a married woman with a son in college?” This is getting gnarly.

Then Sang-woo actually says, “Come to think of it, you and I have a lot in common. We could be friends in the future.” Min-jae does NOT like this idea at all. What? No BFFs? You guys could totally get matching shirts that say: “We’ve slept with the same woman.” Hm…too soon? Yeah, I’m not sure it’ll ever not be too soon.

Sang-woo tells them he’s proposed to Sang-mi and they want to get married right after the divorce is finalized. What’s the rush, speedy? Min-jae takes it all in slowly, then decides that he can’t get through to them right now. He starts to leave…

But Sang-mi starts in on Shin-young: “Why are you just sitting there quietly, not saying anything?” Shin-young replies that she thought maybe it was for the best, that maybe Sang-mi (she calls her Mother) would understand her and Min-jae’s feelings.” Right on. But Sang-mi squashes that right quick. “That’s what YOU think,” she says.

Sang-mi insists that their situations are totally different, but Shin-young challenges her: “What’s so different?” Sang-mi replies, “I’m Min-jae’s mother and he’s my son. Whatever he does as a parent I’m here for him through thick and thin.” (literal meaning: through water and fire) Shin-young, with tears in her eyes, “Is loving Min-jae such a sin?” Ack! Stab me through the heart, why don’t you?

Then Min-jae takes Shin-young’s side, telling his mom not to talk like that to the woman he loves. Oh, holy smokes. I’ve seen enough daily kdramas to know that the son taking his wife/girlfriend’s side in front of his mother never goes well for the daughter-in-law. Never. Ever ever.

And then Sang-woo, totally overstepping, butts in that Min-jae should stop talking to his mother like that in front of him from now on. Whoa, cowboy. You need to slow your roll. You’re not anyone’s daddy YET.

Just when you think they’ve said every passive-aggressive thing in the book, Sang-mi accuses Shin-young of trapping Min-jae, (grabbing him by the ankles). She tells Shin-young that she’s smitten because a 24-year old likes her and she’s not confident enough to know that 34 is still young, and that other opportunities will come.

Okay, if you really believed this for Shin-young at 34, then why wouldn’t you believe this for yourself at 44? I know that Min-jae is your son so it’s different, but you’re accusing Shin-young of trapping Min-jae because she’s mired in what it means to be a single woman of a certain age. But in fact it’s YOU who is afraid of this, and Shin-young has shown herself to be comfortable with who she is at this age. You are only naming your own fears, mommy dearest!

At that Min-jae gets up and he and Shin-young walk out, still clasping each other’s hands since the moment they entered.

Outside, Shin-young tries to be positive and upbeat with Min-jae. But he’s not in the mood for uplifting. He wants to be alone to wallow in the badness of his mother’s choices. In this one thing he is very similar to his mum. Shin-young just gives him his space and watches wistfully as he walks away.

Then we have an obligatory angst-go-round, where everyone is very sad, set to very sad music.

Thankfully, that night is also Ban-seok and Da-jung’s, you know, first night, so we get a little dose of much-needed lightness. They’re both adorably excited, as Da-jung primps and Ban-seok does push-ups while he waits. There’s a hitch of course, when Da-jung keeps cracking up at Ban-seok’s unfortunate tan lines, but he remedies that by turning off the lights. They are, as expected, awkward and cute.

Back in the land of single girls, Bu-ki tries to cheer up Shin-young with a workout, which pretty much consists of Bu-ki working it on the step machine and Shin-young sitting on an exercise ball while chatting away. Heh.

Shin-young continues to mope about her predicament, asking Bu-ki to help her find a solution. Bu-ki wonders what there is to solve, and Shin-young accuses her of not taking it seriously. Bu-ki: “You can just date, two by two.” When Bu-ki says it like that, it sounds so easy. Shin-young just can’t accept Sang-woo as her father in law. Bu-ki: “Then break up with Ha Min-jae. Or just date forever. Why be old-fashioned and get married?” Word, Bu-ki. Word.

Although if you ask me, I think an even better solution would be to have Sang-mi not get married. You just spent twenty-four years in a loveless marriage. Why in such a rush to be someone else’s wife? Wouldn’t it be better to spread your wings a little and be single for a bit? I hate that most kdramas necessitate being married as the only way to live happily ever after. I can’t go on about this or I’ll end up in a diatribe, but suffice it to say, I appreciate Bu-ki’s opinion on the matter.

Bu-ki also tells Shin-young that she shouldn’t badmouth Sang-mi’s relationship with her son; she can’t judge when she isn’t a mother herself. Also word. You can’t say what you would do as a mother until you are one. Because when it comes down to it, Sang-mi would sacrifice anything for her son, which Shin-young can’t compare to.

Meanwhile, Da-jung and Ban-seok stage a honeymoon photoshoot, and at first I’m thinking why would you go to such elaborate lengths for pictures of a fake honeymoon? But then I remember it’s Da-jung. Nuff said. They also decide to go souvenir shopping in the neighborhood and just remove all the “Made in Korea” stickers. Ha.

Bu-ki drags Shin-young out of the house to do some retail therapy, and happen to enter the same store that the honeymooners are in. Da-jung and Ban-seok hide in the dressing room, with some toilet humor to boot, and they overhear that something is going on with Shin-young. Da-jung is so curious about the gossip that she almost blows their cover, but her pride prevails. The girls muse that Da-jung must be having the time of her life. You don’t even know the half of it.

Min-jae goes to his mom’s house for lunch, and the atmosphere is chilly and subdued, although it’s clear he’s come over to try and recover some part of their relationship. Lunch is interrupted by Sang-mi’s mother-in-law (nice poetic justice), who throws a fit over news of the divorce, saying all manner of nasty things about Sang-mi trapping her son (intentionally the same words Sang-mi used earlier).

Min-jae jumps right up to defend his mother, both physically and emotionally, shouting at his grandmother that it’s his fault, prompting grandma to agree that he’s the reason this all went down and that he and his mother are one and the same. She breaks a flower vase for dramatic effect and storms out, saying that Sang-mi will get nothing in the divorce.

Whoa. That was nasty. Listen, I don’t know where y’all are from, but there’s no shouting at your grandma in my family. Although it’s clear that this grandma never sang Min-jae lullabies or walked him to school. Not that kind of grandma.

I like that Sang-mi is getting her own words fed back to her, albeit in a much meaner way, with physical violence and such, but it still feels like it’s a necessary hit that her character needs to take. Also it’s nice to see Min-jae step up to defend his mother, as a good son and as a good man. It helps to make him empathize with her as well, seeing what kind of abuse she’s been taking for so long. It’s hard not to want anything but total happiness for her after seeing that.

Min-jae leaves, and angsts some more in his rehearsal studio. I can’t help but laugh because he looks like he’s starring in a music video with his guitar strumming and sad contemplative face. Shin-young arrives, tentative but upbeat, trying to make him feel better. She tries and tries to make small talk, but Min-jae isn’t very receptive. It makes me worry a little, the shutting down when you should be opening up. But what I like about Shin-young is that she keeps trying, and eventually Min-jae does crack a smile, despite his mood.

After a while, Min-jae asks if Sang-woo is a good person. Shin-young does the very adult thing and affirms that he is, and that Sang-woo dumped her because he was innocent and hurt. He was scared that she didn’t really love him. “I’ve known him for a long time, and Sang-woo is sincerely in love with your mom.” Min-jae: “It was the first time I’ve seen my mom like that. And on the inside, it actually felt good, seeing her finally find what she wants.” How proud am I of these two?

Then Min-jae’s expression darkens: “If Yoon Sang-woo and my mother do well, then…what about us?” Shin-young says it’s not like they have to break up, but the looks on their faces do not bode well for them. They’re trying not to let it affect them, but the weight of the situation is seeping in.

And then, in the very next scene, Min-jae goes to see his mom and gives his approval: “Shin-young said that he was a good man. Be brave and go for it.” Wow. I really didn’t expect him to come around in one episode. Really, I expected much more angst and am happily, gratefully, relieved that Min-jae is being such a mature and understanding son here. Sang-mi is pleasantly surprised too.

Min-jae packs to leave Ban-seok’s house (oh yeah, he’s married now), and finds the couple’s passports sitting on the coffee table. He calls Ban-seok and after getting the we’re-on-a-tropical-island-complete-with-sound-effects story on the phone, he outs them and asks where in Seoul they’re staying. Aw, I’m going to miss these two guys and their odd-couple friendship. I hope they visit each other often.

Ban-seok and Da-jung return from their honeymoon to find…a house full of kids. AH! Is it a nightmare? Oh, it’s Ban-seok’s sister, who has brought an entire neighborhood’s worth of children to learn English from Da-jung, at her father-in-law’s request. Just when you think the hard part’s over…reality sets in. Seems like Da-jung’s next hurdle will be the family responsibility that comes with marriage.

At the office, Shin-young and her news team can’t take Myung-seok’s disapproving control over their work, and they stage a revolt. It’s good to see that when it comes to her own program, Shin-young stands up to Myung-seok. She’s growing some balls in the newsroom.

After being publicly dismissed at work, Myung-seok goes to his dojo to blow off some steam, and ends up getting his ass handed to him by a mysterious person in white. We of course are not surprised when this person is de-masked, and it is none other than Kim Bu-ki. Myung-seok completely falls for her in an instant.

Turns out he’s one of those guys who talks big and thinks he’s so smooth, but in front of a woman he likes, he becomes a babbling idiot. Ha. If they do this pairing just to give Bu-ki a love interest, I’ll be annoyed. But Bu-ki mostly ignores him, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a delicious comeuppance rather than a loveline here.

Min-jae shows up at Shin-young’s apartment, suitcase in tow. He asks her to house him for a few days. Shin-young panics: “What if your mom finds out?” He insists she won’t and that it’ll be fine. Shin-young pushes him to stay at the rehearsal studio.

Min-jae: “Why do you keep trying to kick me out?”
Shin-young: “I don’t want your mom to get the wrong idea.”
Min-jae: “My mom won’t find out, so that’s done. What else?”
Shin-young: “Don’t lead me into temptation.”
Min-jae (laughing): “I won’t do anything. Don’t worry. What kind of person do you think I am?”

What? Really? You’re not going to do anything? Boo. Come on, you’re lying, right? I request smoochies!

He goes into Da-jung’s old room before Shin-young can stop him. She takes a big breath and whispers to herself: “I’m shaking.” Cute.

Shin-young makes some ramen while Min-jae unpacks, and she walks in on him wearing a tank top, and I swear, these two act like he’s standing there in nothing but socks. They get all flustered and shy, and it’s adorable, but unwarranted given the level of nudity involved. Really, it’s like arms. No! Not the arms!

They eat ramen and Min-jae declares that it’s the most delicious ramen he’s ever had because Shin-young made it for him, mirroring Sang-mi and Sang-woo’s lunch earlier in the episode. Shin-young requests that he write her a song called “The Woman Who Makes Me Ramen” and he sets some ramen-centric lyrics over another song, and sings it to her.

Oh, whew, we’re back to the cuteness. I was scared the angst was going to go on past its expiration date. Shin-young asks why he’s not staying at his mom’s house, and he says that it’s uncomfortable. His mom feels sorry, and he feels bad for her, yet finds that he’s still angry with her. He thinks it’s better that they give each other space for the time being. Right on.

Across town, Sang-mi seeks Bu-ki out at her restaurant, and asks her about Shin-young. Bu-ki says Shin-young told her to treat Sang-mi well whenever she came by, and Sang-mi wonders why she would say such a thing when she’s never shown a kind side to Shin-young. Bu-ki says it’s her way of showing that she wants to be friendly with Sang-mi.

Sang-mi does admit to feeling bad because she sees how hard it is on Min-jae, assuming that he’s considering breaking up with Shin-young. I think you jumped the gun there, mom. I’m pretty sure he never implied anything of the sort. Sang-mi explains that she doesn’t want Min-jae to be pressured by marriage this early in his life, a legitimate concern from a mother’s standpoint, especially considering her own life experience.

Bu-ki defends her friend: “Lee Shin-young is a cool and modern woman: ‘If it goes well, that’s good and if not, that’s too bad. Even if I end up alone again at 36 or 37, I’ll be with the person I love.'” What an awesome thing to be able to say about someone. I wouldn’t be disappointed if there were something similar written on my tombstone. At this, Sang-mi softens, and she decides that they should drop in on Shin-young for a friendly glass of wine…without calling. Why? Why do people do this? There is never a good time to drop in on someone without calling. There could be nakedness. Or so we hope!

Sadly, no nakedness to speak of. Shin-young and Min-jae debate over which movie to watch, and even this mundane thing is adorable because Shin-young basically railroads Min-jae into watching one of her choices, and Min-jae just gives in.

Just as they get settled, the doorbell rings…oh god, oh god, oh god…

NO! Everybody put your pants on!

If I haven’t already expressed it enough, I am so happy that the angsting seems pretty much over, and we’re back to the comic situations and cute relationship stuff. In general this drama has done a good job of getting through the darker parts relatively quickly, which is a refreshing change of pace from dramas that dwell on the same stale conflict over and over again.

Characters actually move forward in their storylines (and backwards too, which is human), making for new feelings about each character as I watch each episode. For instance, not a huge fan of Sang-woo until this episode, where he showed both strength and vulnerability. I grew tired of Min-jae’s music-video-angst, but then he totally won me over with his turnaround by the latter half of the episode. Sang-mi is frustrating, but I always end up rooting for her. And Shin-young is just awesome-beans.

What…will I do…when it ends? Hold me?

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49 March 18, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 14

by javabeans

These two are too cute. Kim Bum is so much better as a noona-killer than as the oppa. He should really be banned from playing oppa roles until he’s out of the army.

Two episodes left and I still don’t know how things are going to end. Because this drama is more realistic than most others — in the relationship dynamics, if not the comic situations — I can see it taking multiple different directions that wouldn’t surprise me.

SONG OF THE DAY

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry OST – “다가가도 되나요” (Can I come closer?)
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EPISODE 14 RECAP

Before Sang-mi’s unannounced visit to Shin-young’s apartment, Bu-ki actually had fired off a quick warning text telling her to clean up and act surprised. However, in her furtiveness (to keep Sang-mi from seeing), she hadn’t noticed that the text failed to deliver.

Before Shin-young opens the door, Min-jae suggests facing his mother honestly, but Shin-young feels this is the wrong time for that; it’ll just make things worse. So he hurries to the spare bedroom while Shin-young greets Sang-mi warmly. Bu-ki takes Shin-young aside to warn her that this is a very important step — the fact that Sang-mi is here indicates that she’s starting to open up to her, so they can’t mess this up. No pressure!

Min-jae listens at the door and accidentally steps on something in the dark. He tries to contain his pain but bumps into something, so Bu-ki quickly covers, pretending she banged her leg. She then goes to her place to prepare snacks, offering the two women a chance to chat.

Sang-mi’s feelings haven’t changed about not wanting Shin-young and Min-jae to date, but her goal today is merely to talk together. Her attitude is slowly loosening up, and today she treats Shin-young with more civility than she has before — if not quite warm, she’s at least no longer cold.

Wanting to gain more insight about Shin-young’s character, Sang-mi asks her what time was most difficult in her life. Shin-young’s answer is honest if a little awkward — it was when Sang-woo dumped her. But she doesn’t vilify him, explaining that he was young. Now he’s matured, and she sees that he truly loves Sang-mi. She admits her own part in the failure of their relationship, because she was selfish and too focused on her career: “To be accurate, we weren’t close enough to marry.”

A cell phone rings under the table, and neither woman immediately reaches for hers. Clearly this must be Min-jae’s, forgotten in his haste to hide himself. Shin-young is cool under pressure and answers it like she’s talking to a co-worker about business. And then, another phone rings — from her own pocket. Shin-young answers this one too, then explains to Sang-mi that she has one phone for work, and another personal one. Thankfully Sang-mi accepts this without suspicion, and the mood remains pleasant overall.

Sang-mi does a crafty mom trick by prefacing a request with a story to make Shin-young sympathize with her position, and confesses that she’s afraid Min-jae will make the mistakes her husband made. He married after a momentary passion, and spent the rest of his life wandering around, making them both unhappy. She doesn’t want that for her son, so while she knows she can’t rip the couple apart, she asks Shin-young to promise that before he graduates, don’t do anything to force him to “take responsibility” for her. This is a euphemism for “Keep it in your pants, kids!” and Shin-young understands. She promises, and Sang-mi answers that she’ll trust in her.

Having satisfied her curiosity, Sang-mi soon leaves, escorted by Sang-woo, who comes by to pick her up.

The two lovebirds sigh in relief after the guests leave, feeling pretty good about how things turned out. But they stand around awkwardly, with Sang-mi’s request ringing in both their ears. Dare they continue their plans, or do they heed her wishes? And this just had to happen on the night they were going to spend together! I said Sang-mi was crafty, didn’t I?

It’s pretty clear there will be no fun sexy times for them tonight (or anytime soon), so they go off to their respective rooms, somewhat reluctantly.

It’s a different matter for the newlyweds. Although Da-jung is worn out and unhappy about her day being overrun by the kids, Ban-seok asks her to be patient, and then sweeps her off her feet. Literally.

Meanwhile, Shin-young and Min-jae are far from falling asleep. Coming back outside, they decide they’re not ready to call it a night yet and wonder what they ought to do tonight. They end up playing games where the loser gets flicked on the forehead by the winner. Such kids, these. There’s something innocent and very young about their courtship despite their ages, and it’s a little jarring to imagine that they were going to take the relationship to a sexual level when their replacement activity is to play little kids’ games.


Not yet sleepy, they follow up their games by heading out for a midnight stroll (technically 2am). Feeling hungry, they decide to make something to eat, and head back to roll mountains of kimbap. They eat, then sit together in Shin-young’s living room. Not the night they were planning, but a pleasant one anyway.

In the morning, Da-jung joins Ban-seok on his way to work, despite the fact that their schedules don’t match and she has gotten up extra-early just so they can head out together.

It’s a more hectic morning at Shin-young’s, and they’ve got the opposite problem — they’re both headed to UBN but can’t be seen arriving together if they want to avoid making gossip. Therefore, while one couple goes out of their way to be together, the other deliberately staggers their arrivals to keep up appearances.

And to give us a third example, Sang-mi heads to court that morning to finalize her divorce, emerging single for the first time in her adult life.

As Bu-ki and Da-jung shop together later that day, they find themselves being followed by a man in a suit. He’s more sleazy than scary, and introduces himself as an agent who’s looking for a CF model in her late 20s. He noticed them because they’ve got just what he’s looking for!

Anyone with the least bit of sense would be able to sense that he’s working some sort of scam, and these two cotton on right away. However, they’ve also got a friend who’s busting her ass trying to come up with a story to fill in for a last-minute dropped item, so they decide that they’ll go along with this guy’s act to give Shin-young an item.

Thus they act giggly and excited, giving the guy just the naive responses he’s looking for as he says he’s looking to promote a diet drink. The CF does require a few revealing shots, but they’ll be done tastefully, he promises.

Tasteful like a porno!

Bu-ki and Da-jung play the parts of wide-eyed ingenues as they relocate to a shabby studio for a test shoot. The set pretty much looks like a porn set and the costumes are ridiculous, but they go along with it. The guy is more than happy to hear that they’ve called a third friend — an “aspiring actress” — to join them.

Bu-ki dresses up like Sailor Moon, Da-jung like Marilyn Monroe, and Shin-young like… Velma from Scooby Doo?

While the director is busy filming them individually, Shin-young sneaks the door open, allowing her own cameraman to silently tape the proceedings.

The result is a story featuring today’s footage as well as film of previous victims who were tricked into fake photo shoots by the shyster. The UBN deputy director is pleased with her work, and the program will air tomorrow.

Min-jae is still staying with Shin-young, but Shin-young makes it clear that he can’t stay much longer than a few days. He doesn’t have a problem with being her roommate on a more long-term basis, but she is intent on honoring her promise with his mother.

He promises to cook something special for her that evening, and gets cracking. He doesn’t do this with the most skill, but it’s the thought that counts, right? In fact, it’s refreshing to see that finally there’s something he’s bad at, and he calls Ban-seok for advice.

Da-jung is working at home when Ban-seok’s sister comes by again with her son, letting herself in with the door passcode. Once again Da-jung tries to bear this politely, unable to point out how rude her sister-in-law is being by borrowing Da-jung’s clothes and purse freely.

This segment is another one of those scenes I have to step back a bit from because this character, ridiculous though she may be, is an all too common specimen in the real world. What’s worse is that she’s not outwardly mean or rude, so Da-jung can’t complain — the sister-in-law heaps effusive praise on Da-jung for being so chic and well-dressed, using that as an excuse to take what she wants. If she were to complain, no doubt she would be painted as a snooty, haughty woman who hates to share.

Myung-seok has been haunting his gym for another sight of Bu-ki, who hasn’t been around in recent days. Finally when she reappears, he jumps on the chance to talk to her and challenges her to another match, where he pretty much gets his ass handed to him on a platter. It’s quite satisfying seeing him not only beaten, but pretty much humiliated.

Undeterred by the physical abuse, Myung-seok tries to engage her in conversation. She’s utterly uninterested and doesn’t even spare him a second glance, so he grabs her phone and calls himself in order to get her number.

When Ban-seok comes home that evening, he finds Da-jung dispirited and at the end of her rope — she can’t do this. She can’t watch the kids every day, tutor them, and manage her own career as well. It’s asking too much.

Filled with remorse, Ban-seok insists on washing her feet for her. I’d tell him to skip the footbath and change the passcode — or grow a spine and tell his younger sister to have some respect — but this is a lesson for Da-jung to learn, I suppose.

That night, Shin-young oohs over Min-jae’s food, but he catches her adding water to the soup behind his back. I like that he talks about it straightaway, which lets them defuse the situation swiftly rather than escalating into a big argument later. Min-jae admits that when he took the kimbap they made to the rehearsal hall, the response from his friends was decidedly negative. This shows to him that Shin-young really does love him, because she ate his kimbap without complaint (and would have done the same for the soup had he not caught her).

They spend tonight playing Go-Stop, and it’s again nice to see another instance where Min-jae isn’t automatically awesome. She kicks his butt, and he tries to end the game with a fake excuse that he has to record a melody before he loses it.

She doesn’t let him off the hook so easily, and tells him to hum the tune to her; she’s got a great memory. They topple to the ground, and Min-jae holds her as he hums softly.

She tells him, “I’m so happy.”

Not so for Da-jung, whose happy mood evaporates when Ban-seok brings up the suggestion of taking mini-trips every weekend, either to his parents’ house or on trips with them. They can play games and fish and bond. After all, it would be good to get used to spending all that quality time together now, since they can live with them once they’ve had kids.

Er, what now? Da-jung is taken by surprise to hear that Ban-seok intends to take care of his parents. He’s the second son and normally this task would fall to the first son would (hence Da-jung’s rule against dating first sons), but Ban-seok explains that this brother is probably going to settle down in the States. Not noticing his wife’s faltering mood, he explains excitedly that he has always dreamed of living in a big family with three generations, taking trips every weekend.

She agrees weakly, then slips out later that night to sit by herself in the dark kitchen, telling herself, “It’s still better than when you were alone, right?”

Despite that attempt to convince herself she’s fine, Da-jung arrives at Shin-young’s apartment, disgruntled and bearing makgulli. Her explanation is merely that she couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to bother her husband, not ready to admit that maybe her fantasy isn’t all it was cracked up to be. She even says that she likes being married, but in a dull voice.

Before Shin-young can stop her, she heads to her old room for a nap, making for an awkward discovery. At least she didn’t jump on top of Min-jae while he was sleeping, which would have been awkward. Er, more awkward.

Sang-mi seems much happier these days, and more relaxed. Her relationship with Sang-woo is going well — he even wants to introduce Sang-mi to his mother — and her attitude toward Shin-young is warming as well. That evening, she cooks and packs food for Min-jae, who she believes is living at his studio.

She uses this as an opportunity to extend another hand to Shin-young, packing the food with a note asking her to deliver the package to Min-jae and to help herself to the food.

This she drops off at the guard booth to Shin-young’s apartment, then turns to leave… But having escaped once this episode, it’s just not dramatically feasible to have Shin-young escape discovery again and Sang-mi spots her walking home with Min-jae. It looks like they’ve gone grocery shopping together, and to make their living situation absolutely clear, Min-jae suggests they stay up all night long talking.

So when the guard knocks on Shin-young’s door to deliver the food, Sang-mi bursts in behind them — wearing a bitchface that, for once, is perfectly warranted — and orders Min-jae to leave.

Sang-mi reminds Shin-young of her promise, unappeased by Min-jae’s explanation that nothing happened, and that he was only staying for a few days.

Instead of heeding his mother’s order to leave, Min-jae grabs Shin-young’s hand and leads her outside, simmering with emotion. Shin-young asks in confusion where he’s headed, and he turns to her: “Let’s marry tomorrow.”

 
COMMENTS

This episode was all about the juxtaposition of the Shin-young/Min-jae relationship with the Da-jung/Ban-seok one. I don’t think they’re making a statement about which is better, because both have their share of issues, but it’s a clear way of showing the extremes of these two dynamics.

At first I interpreted this comparison along simple lines — Shin-young good, Da-jung bad — and it’s certainly easy to draw that conclusion. For instance, Shin-young’s relationship is chaste but she sighs to Min-jae that she’s happy. Across town, Da-jung is in bed with her husband, but she has to leave the room and try to lie to herself that she’s content. Plus, even though Shin-young is still battling the parental opposition issue, which Da-jung has won for now, the latter sees that there are further complications afterward.

And yet I think it’s a little too pat to make the good-bad argument, at least not yet. I’m not sure Shin-young and Min-jae will stay together through the end of the drama (no spoilers, please!) so until I know how the drama ends, it’s hard to draw conclusions. The drama seems to be showing us that nothing’s perfect on either side, not arguing that one is destined to work and the other will fail. Maybe Da-jung and Ban-seok aren’t doomed, and their issue will be in learning how to compromise. It’s interesting that for all their similarities and shared values as a couple, Da-jung is not on the same page with Ban-seok about their future — she’d be lucky to be in the same book. Forcibly getting her way (speeding through the courtship to get to the marriage) may have gotten her wed, but she still has to face the stuff that comes after that. And there’s no way to fast-forward her way past that.

On the other hand, I worry for Shin-young and Min-jae’s future because their situations in life are so different. I feel like she is sorta where Sang-woo was when they were dating; she’s at the point where she can see settling down comfortably, but Min-jae may still need to stretch his wings. But what I can appreciate is that this couple finds ways to look at things in constructive ways, and issues that could derail another couple are used to strengthen their bond. Shin-young and Min-jae are emotionally in tune with each other in a lovely way that many couples don’t ever achieve. Furthermore, this kind of emotional understanding seems to come to them quite naturally, which is really a gift.

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62 March 21, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: Episode 15

by girlfriday

Meltdown! Hey, if my 24-year old boyfriend were hanging out with a popstar who calls him oppa, I’d be gnashing my teeth on raw pasta too. Or making a voodoo effigy. To each her own. There’s trouble in paradise this week, as we close in on the finale, and all our couples are put through the proverbial wringer.

 
EPISODE 15 RECAP

Min-jae drags Shin-young outside her apartment to escape his mom’s intrusion. Shin-young asks where they’re going, and Min-jae drops the bomb: “To get married.” What?! That’s the worst possible thing you could say in that moment. Come on, how could anyone take you seriously now? Shin-young feels the same way, as she tells him to stop it and insists they go back and clear things up with his mom.

Min-jae tells her not to over-think it, but Shin-young sees right through his insecurity and naïveté. I mean, really, if you’re trying to get married to escape your mom treating you like a child, you should know that she’ll be doing that till the day you die anyway. Min-jae is really at odds with being unable to control this situation. He grabs Shin-young for a desperate hug, saying, “Don’t go.”

Inside, Sang-mi is stewing in righteous motherly anger, that is, until she finds a letter that Shin-young wrote to Min-jae:

Roommate Min-jae!

I don’t think I’ll be able to see you tomorrow morning before I leave, so I’m writing a letter.

Da-jung always complained about that room being cold; I worry that it’s cold while you’re sleeping.

The promise I made with your mom, I really want to keep it. It’s a courtesy that I want to pay to the person who brought the Min-jae that I love, into this world.

I’ll only accept you as my roommate until the end of this week. I’ll give you a heated blanket for the rehearsal studio so you can stay there. When I miss you I’ll come see you.

An excitement I haven’t felt for a long time
The desire to try and live well
This is the gift that you have given me.
What gift can I give you…I think about it every day.

Thank you, and I love you,
My heart’s Spring, Ha Min-jae.

It’s both super-cute and super-convenient, since it exonerates her from any hanky-panky goings-on in the apartment. We should all leave such letters lying around in strategic places for bosses, mothers-in-law, insecure boyfriends/girlfriends…it would save a lot of time and energy in the long run.

It looks like Sang-mi’s buying their chaste living arrangement, (which she should, since it’s true, much to my own dismay) and leaves the food that she brought over.

Meanwhile, Min-jae is aimlessly driving Shin-young around town, with no destination in mind but refusing to head back home. Shin-young finally gets fed up with his childishness and tells him to stop the car. She gets out and takes a cab back home.

Bu-ki comes to her rescue, paying for her cab fare and helping her suss out the situation with Min-jae and his mom.

They discover all the food that Sang-mi left, making Shin-young feel even guiltier. Shin-young confesses that she felt a generation gap with Min-jae today. Bu-ki replies, “It’s not a generation gap; it’s just differences in thought.” While that’s a nice ideal, I tend to agree with Shin-young in this case.

But then Bu-ki drops some knowledge in Shin-young’s lap: “Lee Shin-young, if there are so many things plaguing you, then just break up with him. Every couple has a mountain they have to climb. If you don’t want to deal with someone ten years younger, you could choose someone your age with a bad personality, or maybe you’d prefer to deal with parents-in-law and siblings. This is your choice. No matter which man you choose, there will always be something you have to overcome in the relationship. Pick something you can accept.” Shin-young: “Do you not have anything you can accept? Is that why you’re still single?” Bu-ki: “I just like my life right now. That’s why I’m single.” Well how do you argue with that?

While I don’t think that any relationship conflict is interchangeable, I do appreciate Bu-ki’s no-nonsense brand of wisdom. It comes from the school of Value Thyself, with a mix of Life Can Be Whatever You Choose, both of which are right on my wavelength.

Shin-young texts Sang-mi that she hopes any misunderstandings will be cleared up and that she’ll send Min-jae back home. I like that Shin-young always does the adult thing and considers the other person’s point of view.

To his credit, Min-jae shows up at his mom’s house to do some damage control. First he petulantly chastises her for treating him like a kid in front of his girlfriend. So not cool, Mom. But then he explains that there’s nothing to worry about, and that Shin-young is frustratingly intent on keeping her promise to Sang-mi.

Sang-mi just chalks it up to Shin-young making up for her age. But if you knew Shin-young, you’d know she doesn’t think her age is a sin or a shortcoming that has to be made up for. Which is why her face belongs on a flag. Or a quarter. At least a t-shirt.

Min-jae then switches to sweet-talk mode, apologizing and admitting fault. This totally works, as it usually does with moms. Turns out no matter how pissed they are, they still love you.

Back at home, Shin-young packs up Min-jae’s things, and finds his student ID:

That thing is probably Bummie’s real student ID photo, because he looks about twelve in it. At first she thinks it’s adorable, but then it makes her feel the age gap even more. I don’t blame her, because the dude in the picture is a tiny, tiny baby.

Over in the land of the happily wed, Da-jung is studying for an upcoming job, when her sister-in-law bursts in with bags of groceries and nephew in tow. Oh, horror. I know she’s not the worst sister-in-law in kdrama land, by any means, but there’s something so frustrating about these sorts of people—the ones who pretend not to know that they’re totally imposing on you and bilking you for everything they can.

Sure enough, today she wants Da-jung to cook her a five-course meal, so she can pack it up and take it to her in-laws. Really? I thought you were just a resident of crazytown, but now you’re in the running for Mayor.

When Da-jung insists on getting back to her work after helping her prep the food, Little Miss “Unni, you’re so chic, you’re so smart” shows her true colors. She can’t believe Da-jung won’t help her with this one little thing, when their family accepted her against her father’s wishes. What?! You never lifted a finger to accept her! What the jeebus are you talking about, you crazy woman?!

She actually goes on to add that she thought Da-jung, being of her age, would be sweet and kind (read: making up for her age by being extra “helpful”). And the girl their dad wanted Ban-seok to marry is SO nice and good-mannered. Oh, I want to hit her with heavy objects!

In one sense, I am satisfied, because I KNEW she was just putting on that nice-clueless act. Big faker! But of course, Da-jung is now completely at a loss (who knew human beings could be like this?) and feels trapped and helpless.

She seeks out Bu-ki’s advice, and I’m glad to see that we’ve dispensed with exorcists and fortune-tellers and gurus, and are now going straight to Bu-ki. Should have been that way from the beginning. She’s free and she’s always right.

Bu-ki tells her the two viewpoints are too different; that she should just suck it up and help her out. Aw, man. Isn’t there some scare tactic you can think of, involving crazy wigs and makeup? It worked so well on the father.

Da-jung says longingly, “Today, I’m jealous of you and Shin-young.” It’s funny that Da-jung is jealous of Shin-young, and Shin-young is jealous of Da-jung, while Bu-ki isn’t jealous of anyone because SHE’S AWESOME.

Bu-ki tells her to think of all the times she prayed for someone to share agu-jjim with (that octopus stew for two), and Da-jung replies that the price of sharing agu-jjim with someone is too high. She wonders aloud why people get married. It befits her character to want so much to get married to end her single life, only to realize marriage isn’t an end, but a beginning.

At work, Shin-young is finally making waves as she scores a big story about that politician who beats women, getting to air the interview that got squashed way back when. The whole team feels vindicated and Shin-young gets acknowledged by her boss. Victory!

Shin-young goes to find Min-jae to share her good news, but she comes upon him just as he is doing this:

To be fair, the girl is the one doing all the snuggling, but you’re not exactly shaking her off like she’s got leprosy, which you should be doing!

It’s actually harmless, and Shin-young sees it as such, but it stings her a little, in the face of all the age-gappy pangs she’s been feeling lately. She turns around and leaves without saying anything, but Min-jae sees her and runs after her.

They chitchat, and she casually asks who the girl is (nice move). Min-jae tells her that’s Senna, a junior classmate, and a singer. He gave her one of his songs for her new album. Okay, she’s not only younger than you, but also a singer? Why are you doing this to me, Show? If you set her up to be some perfect match for Min-jae, I will boycott the final episode! I will!

Min-jae wants to have a final dinner together at home, since he’s moving out tomorrow. They decide that the first person home will cook, and Shin-young says she’ll probably be late. Yeah, if my 24-year old boyfriend were going to cook dinner for me at home, I would have this look on my face too:

Over at Sang-woo’s house, he and Sang-mi are meeting with his mother, and as expected, things are not going well. Can’t argue that Sang-mi is good on paper. Sang-woo’s mom tells them that she and her husband won’t be attending the wedding, and she ends up pleading with Sang-mi to let Sang-woo go.

It’s actually really hard to watch Sang-mi endure this, because even though she’s the mom who said this sort of stuff to Shin-young not too long ago, she’s been through more than enough emotional abuse in her life. Sang-woo’s mother tries the mom angle; she asks her to think of her own son, and how people will look at him. Seems to me that well-adjusted kid would do fine even if you decided tomorrow to marry a woman instead.

Sang-woo decides that this is too much, and he defiantly drags Sang-mi out of his apartment. The poetic justice is not lost on Sang-mi, as she flashes back to Min-jae dragging Shin-young away in front of her, just the other night. Yup, mother-son-girlfriend dynamic is pretty much the same, no matter what planet you hail from.

Shin-young turns down offers from her co-workers to celebrate their big story tonight, and decides to go home early and be the one to cook dinner for Min-jae. She sets up an elaborate spread of pasta ingredients, which is a cute domestic side of Shin-young that we rarely get to see.

Meanwhile, Min-jae gets up to leave the studio, and his friends raise hell because they want him to go out with them tonight, and they won’t take no for an answer. Min-jae hesitates, but lets himself get dragged out. I suppose Shin-young did say that she would be home late, but then by your account, you’re still flaking on making her dinner. Flake!

He texts her that he’s going to be late and to eat first if she’s hungry. This is the toughest part of early relationships—the setting yourself up, anticipating this great date, and then getting that call. You can’t be angry because the other person doesn’t know, but then you are angry, because you still put in all this effort. Listen, women have a hard time managing expectations, okay?

Shin-young decides to wait for him, since it’s their last dinner together in the apartment. I have a feeling this is going to get much worse before it gets better.

Over in married land, Da-jung and Ban-seok are eating a lovely sushi dinner, and Da-jung tries to broach the subject of her sister-in-law. Ban-seok hears that his sister asked for all that help, and his reaction is happiness that his sister likes his wife so much. Oy, so clueless this grown man.

He announces happily that his sister will be buying the apartment upstairs, and wow, I am speechless. If you think the sister is bad now…when the commute is one staircase…Da-jung and I both shudder in horror. And yep, that’s the thing that drives her over the edge. She finally lets it all out to Ban-seok.

The argument spills over all the way from the restaurant to their house, and I have to say, although I can see both sides logically, Ban-seok is disappointing me with his failure to see how much it strains Da-jung to be a good wife in the eyes of his family.

Da-jung, tears in her eyes, says that when she thinks of her future, she’s frightened. Ban-seok counters that he didn’t know she was such a selfish person. That cuts to the heart, as Da-jung breaks down and Ban-seok walks away from the argument.

Back at home, Shin-young waits and waits, chomping down on sticks of raw pasta, sticking them in her hair, trying to pass the time while growing increasingly impatient. And then, the kicker: her co-workers end up at the same bar that Min-jae is at, and this is the picture they decide to send to Shin-young:

Ha Min-jae? Meet the doghouse.

Meanwhile at the bar, Min-jae is actually trying to leave, but his friends keep pressuring him to stay. This is probably a universal thing, but it seems to be a very pronounced social pressure in Korea—you can’t be the first to leave a gathering because people get all upset that the mood will be broken, and they literally badger you into staying. I don’t know why this is a thing with Koreans, but it’s inescapable when hanging out with them. Know a Korean? Are one yourself? Yeah, think about it. You’ve been badgered.

Not that this lets Min-jae off the hook; let’s get that straight. Social badgering is one thing, but flaking on your girlfriend to do loveshots with a girl who’s totally hot for your junk is NOT COOL.

Shin-young has a little freak-out, makes a giant mound of pasta which she eats herself, and then decides she has to calm down, so she does some yoga. Heh. She hears Min-jae coming in the door, and the look on her face is a woman preparing for battle. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Min-jae comes in bearing a box of cake and acting like nothing happened. Shin-young gives an excellent cold shoulder, in case you were wondering. It’s sub-zero, the vibe she gives off. Min-jae picks up on it, but doesn’t know why she’s so mad (thinking the pasta dinner for one is the only problem).

Shin-young then gets a cathartic fantasy moment where she rips Min-jae a new one for being out with Senna when he made dinner plans with her.

But then she rationalizes in her head that she can’t be outwardly angry and jealous of a 22-year old; that’s crazy! Well I would argue you’re already feeling crazy, and bottling it up is unhealthy, but I completely empathize with your preference to save face here. And you’ve got the cold shoulder working for you.

Shin-young seals the passive-aggressive deal by going to bed. Min-jae decides it’s something cake and candles will fix. Uh, remember the last time you tried to win her over with candles? You had to dye your hair white because you screwed that up so badly. Will you go blue this time?

He walks in with cake and candlelight, but Shin-young’s not impressed. So he plops down in bed next to her. She jumps up and says he can’t stay, but he just pulls her back to bed and puts his arm around her, saying he’s tired and he’s drunk so he’ll just stay ten minutes.

Aw…darn it. What to do with all this superfluous…righteous…anger….gah, it’s gone. Seriously, why so cute?

Shin-young finally thaws, not because they address the issue or he apologizes, but because she’s inescapably drawn to his charm. This is why friends get so frustrated when you decide the rational thing to do with them, and then do a complete 180 in the presence of your significant other. It’s not logical; it’s love.

As they drift off to sleep in each other’s arms, Shin-young asks Min-jae what he’s thinking.

Min-jae: “Until I met Ban-seok, I was a total troublemaker. But when I met hyung I changed once, and when I met you, I changed again.”
Shin-young: “How?”
Min-jae: “I’ll tell you later.”

I feel like there’s no bigger compliment to pay someone than to attribute a change in your life to their presence, advice, or love. It’s the highest form of praise in my book. So this blew me away, and not just because he is aware of it, but because he knows to say it to her.

Since Min-jae and Shin-young spend the night together, Da-jung and Ban-seok of course have spent their first night apart. In the morning, Da-jung wakes up disappointed that Ban-seok just let her sleep alone in another room, and things are still pretty dicey between them. It’s not going to be easy to solve, this conflict. She seems to be at a total impasse with the entire family, including her husband.

Min-jae and Shin-young wake up in bed together and Min-jae cranks up the charm, saying that even her unwashed face is pretty. Min-jae: “So, we’ve slept together.” Shin-young: “I guess we have.” Min-jae: “I’ll take responsibility. Don’t worry.” Oh, you two and your verbal foreplay. Don’t tease!

Then, as soon as they get up, Min-jae gets a call from Senna. Ack, we just forgave and forgot! Why are you still fielding calls from the skinny boyfriend-stealer from snotville?

And while Min-jae has yet to do anything actually wrong in the realm of cheating, he isn’t exactly fending off Senna’s advances with what could be a few simple words such as “girlfriend’s house” and “slept over at.”

It’s not crazy to assume that he thinks very little of Senna’s flirting because he’s indicated that he’s pretty popular and well-versed in the dating game. And his relative fame does add to that theory. But it’s also not a leap to think that he enjoys the attention and indulges in it, to a harmless degree. I don’t picture Min-jae crossing the line into cheating man-whore territory; I just think he’s young and cute and probably having fun.

And that’s the conundrum that Shin-young’s having in this episode, because when she looks at it from an outward perspective, she knows that Min-jae should be enjoying his youth, his popularity, and his carefree time with friends complete with loveshots and harmless flirting. But as his serious girlfriend, her jealousy of Senna can’t really be compartmentalized in that way. It’s a pickle.

Sang-mi and Sang-woo take a scenic walk along the river, and oh man, scenic walks along water always mean someone’s going to get dumped. At least it’s not the ocean. Go back and look at all your old kdramas. The ocean spells death for couples.

Sure enough, Sang-mi’s brought Sang-woo to the river to break up with him. She’s realized that her life isn’t sad or pathetic, and that she’s got a lot to be thankful for. Okay, that part’s good. She then says that it’s enough for her to live as Min-jae’s mom, and that she’s choosing him over Sang-woo. What? What about that whole other part of your life, as a newly single beautiful woman?

Sang-woo tells her that she shouldn’t be thinking of Min-jae, or even Sang-woo, but herself first. Yay, Sang-woo. But she’s not hearing him, which makes me sad, mostly for her. And then she walks away, leaving him to brood by the river. At home she cries alone, and I know she’s doing that thing where she’s giving up Sang-woo thinking it’s best for him, but that’s just stupid because he loves her, so I’m more annoyed than sympathetic.

At work Shin-young sees Min-jae with Senna yet again, and that girl really needs to take her greedy paws off of Shin-young’s boyfriend. I’m actually starting to get upset, as if I’ve discovered her hanging onto my real friend’s boyfriend’s arm.

Shin-young has a good day at work and goes home to an empty apartment, and imagines Min-jae coming out of his bedroom to greet her after her day. But she looks back and he’s gone. And then she imagines Da-jung coming in the front door, bag of makgulli in hand, wanting to drink away a bad day. Shin-young’s face lights up, and then she sees that no one is there. The way her face falls is heartbreaking. She wonders aloud, “Is this why people get married?”

The moment isn’t meant to make Shin-young seem pathetic or totally alone; it’s more of a comment on how full her life has been lately because of these two people populating her everyday life. Now that they’ve gone, she’s feeling the emptiness. I’ve lived alone and I’ve lived with friends, and I have to say, the silence is palpable. Living alone can make you a little batty.

Then, just as in one of Shin-young’s hallucinations, Da-jung steps right out of her old bedroom, bag in hand, making Shin-young jump right out of her skin.

She answers, “Don’t ever get married. Just live freely and comfortably.” Shin-young can’t figure out if she’s hallucinating. Da-jung says that she couldn’t get any reading done with all the construction going on upstairs, and her sister-in-law’s meddling. She fills her in on the latest family drama, then says longingly, “Lee Shin-young, I’m jealous of you.” Then she cheerily says good-bye and leaves Shin-young wondering whether or not she saw a ghost.

Turns out that Shin-young is doing so well at work that she’s being promoted. Her boss offers her a chance at a foreign correspondent job (which if you remember from way back when, was her original area of study and training). He tells her it’ll be about three years abroad, and she hesitates, turning it down. He tells her to think about it and not lose this opportunity.

Shin-young waits for Min-jae in the hallway, deep in thought about her job offer. When Min-jae comes bounding up to her, she tries but can’t manage to tell him about it. They just make plans to call each other later, and she continues to weigh the decision on her own.

Shin-young goes to see Bu-ki about the matter. She should just start charging by the hour. Bu-ki tells Shin-young in no uncertain terms to just go for it. Shin-young hems and haws that if she leaves, the chance of her returning a single 37-year old woman is 99%. Bu-ki reminds her that the same thing would happen even if she stayed right here. True.

Bu-ki adds: “You didn’t think you’d be thirty-four and single, did you? But life is pretty good, right? Thirty-seven will be the same.” This is what I love about this drama. The message isn’t some idealistic vision of agelessness. It’s about rediscovering yourself at every age, and opening yourself up to encounter new things at every turn. You cannot predict what you will be at age X. And setting yourself up for that only limits you.

Shin-young muses that it will mean the end of her relationship with Min-jae. Bu-ki simply says that even if he’s by her side, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stay together, and even if they’re apart, it doesn’t mean they’ll break up. Shin-young thinks that these sorts of crossroads usually pop up when it’s time to break up. Bu-ki just zens that the future is unknown and they could be apart, then come back around to each other. She adds for emphasis: “The world is wide, there are lots of men, and you’re valuable!”

Over at Sang-mi’s house (oh, how I wish Sang-mi was present for Bu-ki’s talk just now), she tells Min-jae that she broke up with Sang-woo. Min-jae is actually disappointed in his mom for taking the coward’s way out, asking her why she can’t be brave like Shin-young. Sang-mi thinks about it, and replies that she must not love Sang-woo the way that Shin-young loves Min-jae. Actually, I think the difference has nothing to do with love and everything to do with self-perception and choosing not to be a victim of circumstance.

Min-jae decides he needs to yell some more, so he goes to see Sang-woo and demands to know how he can say he loves Sang-mi if he was just going to give up like that. Sang-woo explains that he’s waiting for Sang-mi to come back around and change her mind, which is not good enough for Min-jae’s grand-gesture sensibility.

Min-jae: “You don’t know how to love. You didn’t know how to love Shin-young back then, and you’re the same with my mom now.” He goes on to accuse Sang-woo of chickening out once the divorce was final, and Sang-woo counters that Min-jae’s still a kid for not understanding and accepting his mom’s difficult decisions. Min-jae says it’s Sang-woo’s responsibility to change his mom’s mind; Sang-woo replies that Min-jae should worry about changing Shin-young’s mind.

Wait…what? Aw man! This is how Min-jae is going to find out? From Sang-woo? Gah! I hate this! Why of all people is he hearing about Shin-young’s job offer from her ex? This doesn’t make sense. Why would she have consulted Sang-woo on the matter at all? Don’t make me start the bitter ranting, Show. We’re so close to the end. We were doing so well.

Sang-woo tells Min-jae about Shin-young’s offer to go abroad (grumble, grumble) and adds that when she was given a similar chance before, she was more than willing to leave him for the opportunity to advance her career. But this time the girl who used to be so bold is hesitating because of Min-jae. Sang-woo says outright that it must be because she doesn’t have faith in the relationship. Which is ballsy of you to say, Sang-woo, since you TOTALLY DUMPED HER when you were in Min-jae’s shoes ten years ago.

Time for a motorcycle ride, as Min-jae rides out his angst, and then contemplates what to do. Meanwhile, Shin-young decides to take the job, and finds out that she’ll be going to Helsinki, Finland (random). She notes sadly that it’s “a cold and foreign land.”

Is there a lot of news in Finland? Are there Korean people there? I don’t really know much about the foreign press in Korea, but that seems like a randomly odd choice. I would’ve rather seen them choose a currently relevant place, even if it dates the show to a specific time.

Min-jae asks Shin-young to meet him in the fated hallway, and they stand in silence for a while, as Min-jae tries to steel himself. Finally, choking on the words, he tells her to go. Good for you. Stepping up in the way that Sang-woo couldn’t do for her before.

Shin-young: “Do you really want me to go?”
Min-jae (lump in his throat): “Yes.”
Shin-young: “Even if it’ll be three years before I’m back?”
Min-jae: “I still want you to go.”
Shin-young (tears in her eyes): “Okay, but I don’t want to go with a heavy heart. Let’s break up.”
Min-jae: “Why do we have to?”
Shin-young: “In three years’ time we can’t say we’ll feel the same way. And the place you belong…I don’t think it’s next to me.”
Min-jae: “I’ll wait. Go and come back.”
Shin-young: “You can’t commit to a future me three years from now. And I want to leave comfortably. Let’s break up.”
Min-jae: “Is this really what you want?”
Shin-young: “Yes. I really mean it.”

She turns to leave and Min-jae grabs her hand. She turns back one last time and thanks him for broaching the subject, and says, “Be well” as she lets go of his hand and walks away.

It’s the same hallway where they first said “I love you,” holding hands in the same way, and now it’s the place where they say good-bye.

Min-jae watches her go, as we watch his heart shatter into tiny, tiny pieces.

I don’t think Shin-young is doing the classic kdrama martyr thing. I think she’s being pragmatic, if overly so. Truthfully, I would be doing the exact same thing when faced with a three-year separation. So I think she’s being careful to guard her heart, realistic about time and distance, and mindful of Min-jae’s age.

That said, I don’t really believe that either of them said everything that they really mean. They might mean what they said, but that wasn’t the whole story. I think that even if the break-up holds, they’ll have to revisit this conversation.

What I don’t want: a three-year fast-forward. I know, we’re probably going to get one. But I really, really don’t want a neat little bow-tied fast-forward happy ending. It would ring false for a drama that stayed so realistic and fresh in its approach to relationships. I care more about how they’re going to solve the problem in the here and now, and how that will cause the characters to change and grow. I’ll somehow feel cheated if we skip that and go straight from angst to…and then they are magically happy and together three years later! Seriously, if that happens, I might poke an eye out.

If you spoil me, I will smite thee and thy village!

See you for the finale…sob.

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109 March 26, 2010January 24, 2016

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry: Episode 16 (Final)

by javabeans

Before we get into the final recap, I want to give a hearty thanks to girlfriday for recapping this drama with me. I’ve never shared recaps for a series before, and I found it even more fun than I thought it would be, and also a learning experience (to see what she picked out that I didn’t, for instance). Fear not, this is not her last recap, though I won’t yet announce for sure what comes next.

Since this is the finale, this recap contains comments from both me and girlfriday; you’ll find hers in blue, for ease of distinguishing between us.

SONG OF THE DAY

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry OST – “사랑을 열다” (Opening love)
[ Download ]

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EPISODE 16 RECAP

The foreign correspondent position isn’t Shin-young’s yet — she is in contention with two others — but she decides she wants to go for it. [I’m so torn here, because I want her to succeed, but don’t want her to go to stinky ol’ Finland. No offense, Finland. -GF]

In the UBN hallways, she crosses paths with Min-jae, who’s looking quite miserable. But in keeping with her wishes for a clean break, they pass each other without stopping. The encounter leaves both with tears in their eyes as they walk off in opposite directions. [Music video stylings, to be sure, but these two act their hearts out in this moment. -GF]

Therefore, she hedges when her boss wishes her well for the upcoming selection, which surprises him; he thought she’d be jumping at the chance but it sounds like she’s half-hearted. This boss has been at times infuriating with his wishy-washiness and playing to the old boys’ club, but he has also acknowledged Shin-young’s talent, and he gives her some Bu-ki-esque advice: It’s not like going to Finland means she’s letting go of the chance to meet her match, or allowing time to pass her by — she will have experiences there and who knows, maybe she’ll meet her match while she’s away.

Min-jae hasn’t been contacting Shin-young per her wishes, but he rides his bike to her apartment. He doesn’t mean to run into her and in fact has quite the opposite intention, as we’ll find out soon enough.

Shin-young records her last episode, after which she and her teammates go out for a congratulatory party. They’re all sorry to see her go, although happy for her at the same time. Shin-young is spooked when she hears Min-jae’s disembodied voice asking if she’s going to be late tonight. Freaked, she hands her phone to her cameraman and instructs him not to give it back no matter what, to prevent possible drunk dialing. [And here I am, screaming, “Give the phone back! Give it back!” I think Shin-young could use some drunk-vulnerability right now, right? Don’t be coy and pretend you don’t know what it feels like to wake up the morning after and relive the horror of a drunk-text/drunk-dial in which you divulged the deepest wishes of your very inebriated heart. -GF]

But Min-jae’s voice pops up again, this time asking, “Don’t you miss me?” Shin-young decides to confront this issue head-on — only, her cameraman has taken her at her word and refuses to return her phone. He points out that she’ll just yell at him tomorrow for giving in.

After a brief chase, Shin-young gives up. Crouching, she says miserably, “It’s a good thing I can’t call.”

In the morning, Shin-young emerges from her bedroom, still feeling a little groggy from her night out, and sees a spread prepared on the table, with festive balloons decorating the place. Bu-ki must have arranged this, and she digs in. [If Bu-ki HAD done it, I’d be concerned we were rooting for the wrong couple here. -GF]

Da-jung attempts to work through her sister-in-law’s jabbering, and is listening to something on headphones and therefore doesn’t react. Argh the sight of that woman’s face just gets my blood pressure up, especially when Bitchy Sister-in-Law actually pulls Da-jung’s headphones off, which would totally be my cue to slap a bitch, but Da-jung has more patience than I do.

Bitch-in-law wants Da-jung to make coffee for her remodeling crew, so Da-jung directs her to make it herself. She’s actually quite civil about it by Western standards — she says there’s plenty of instant powder and also an espresso machine, so help herself — but as the Korean wife addressing the almighty husband’s family, anything less than utter servility is seen as uppity disrespect. So when she turns back to her work, Bitchyface yanks off her headphones again and expresses her incredulity at Da-jung’s ‘tude. And I’m like, where’s the lightning bolt of irony when you really need it? [It’s booked on a higher-rated show, I gather. -GF]

However, this exchange also yields a revelation for Da-jung, when Bitchycakes makes a comment about Da-jung’s two-facedness; why is she being so snooty now after she’d helped with the deposit on the upstairs apartment? Ban-seok had told her that it was Da-jung’s idea to use their own apartment as security against the upstairs place. [What in the WHAT? Oh, no you di’n’t! -GF]

Da-jung understands that this apartment is Ban-seok’s, but he should still have consulted with her. He was doing it to make her look good in his family’s eyes, and while I think Ban-seok is almost criminally dense [AMEN! -GF] with regard to women’s feelings, this parallels Da-jung’s lie about his birthday present in a previous episode. He doesn’t compare the two situations, but you’d think he’d have learned from that experience that this was not a good idea. Two wrongs don’t make a right, kiddos.

Da-jung suggests that they move apartments, then — can’t she live as his wife, without being tied to his family? No wife likes the idea of spending every weekend with her husband’s parents, or having her sister-in-law barge in constantly without warning. Ban-seok thinks it’s a matter of “You can just change your mind! It’s simple!” Which makes me think many thoughts of hurting him. [I was picturing an old-school tar-and-feather, unless you’d prefer a ritualistic burning at the stake. I’m a go for either. -GF]

Female oppression through perpetuating outmoded patriarchal mores doesn’t have to be malicious or intentional to be harmful, and Ban-seok frustrates me with his blissful ignorance — he thinks he’s fair and enlightened, which almost makes it worse because there’s just no arguing with him. [Pumping my fist in solidarity! -GF] His character is so cute and endearing in other respects that it is very frustrating to see him so deficient as a husband. I mean this in a positive way regarding the drama writing, though, because I appreciate that we’re seeing this conflict in grayscale — neither he nor Da-jung are portrayed as right versus wrong, since they’re both flawed. [Yes, it’s true–I don’t hate him. It’s a lot like the frustration I feel towards Sang-mi and my desire for her to be a better person when she will inevitably learn from her mistakes. -GF]

Anyway. Da-jung recognizes that trying to change his mind is not a feasible task, and says in a resigned voice, “Then that is the answer.” He, being oblivious, immediately perks up, thinking he has won her over. He then brings up his desire to have a baby right away. ‘Cause I’m sure forcing your wife to concede that her future will be miserable is, like, such an aphrodisiac. [Shoulda gone with oysters. -GF]

Da-jung sighs.

Off to Bu-ki’s. Da-jung has come from visiting the apartment building where she’d been doused with water in Episode 1, and says, “I think I was happier back then when I was moaning about not having a man.” She wasn’t suffocated back then.

Bu-ki reminds her that she wasn’t happy then, either. Da-jung wonders if this means she’s destined to be unhappy either way and says rather matter-of-factly that she may be looking at divorce. [This moment of Da-jung’s rings so true to life for me, because I’ve changed boyfriends, jobs, cities–all in an effort to find that elusive thing called happiness, only to discover that happiness is merely a perspective that we choose to take on our daily lives. I think Da-jung’s journey, past the basic single/married dichotomy, is really about learning to be happy with herself once the catalogue-version of marital bliss gets stripped away. -GF]

Shin-young joins them wanting a pick-me-up after being transferred to the international news department. She notes Da-jung’s case of tonic, which was given to her by Ban-seok and is supposed to help you get pregnant. Da-jung plans to throw one drink away daily, on the sly. [Hello? Red flag? -GF]

Shin-young thanks Bu-ki for the morning spread, but gets a blank response. Bu-ki wasn’t responsible for the breakfast this morning, nor the one the previous day.

This can only mean one thing, and when she comes home, she finds Min-jae in the middle of preparing another meal for her. He has been coming by to make her food while she’s out, which is simultaneously super-sweet and crossing some major boundaries. (Right?) Ever the romantic, he has prepared various mix CDs themed under “When you’re weary,” “When you feel down,” and “When you want to dance.” [Cutest and most achingly age-appropriate gift ever. It’s actually making me cringe, the sweetness of the mix CDs, because it’s highlighting their now seemingly monumental age gap. -GF]

Shin-young asks why he’s doing this. He says that his feelings for her aren’t going away, and doesn’t understand her decision — do they have to break everything off cleanly before she leaves?

She reiterates her stance, saying that she wants to focus on her work and doesn’t want to worry about him. Min-jae feels that means she doesn’t trust him, or work is more important to her. (And he’s just getting that now?) [Right? Can I remind you, good sir, of the time you got almost-seemingly-kidnapped because you were trying to impress her one-track mind? -GF]

Shin-young says that when she sees him, all she can think is how young and passionate he is. He replies, “That’s a matter of passion, not age,” and “Being 24 doesn’t mean I just love anyone.” [TRUE. The number one thing I hated when I was young was people disregarding what I felt (FELT!) simply because of my youth. Choices you make because of love are vastly different at various ages, to be sure, but no one can say that what someone else feels is or is not love. Immature actions usually accompany young love, but I think it’s dismissive to think that Min-jae inherently can’t love on the same level as Shin-young simply because of age. -GF]

But I feel like this is just a rehash of their previous discussions, and both of their tones are sad and despondent throughout this conversation. Neither budges on his/her position, and neither convinces the other toward their side.

On another tutoring/babysitting afternoon, Da-jung juggles studying with playing hostess. Infuriatingly, Ban-seok and Bitch-in-law laugh and sit back while Da-jung serves them. (I can understand Ban-seok being out of the loop about the dynamics when he’s absent, but when he’s right here and still oblivious — and contributing! — grr…) [Don’t get me started on Joseon-era holdovers of patriarchal servitude as current-era plates of fruit! I will write a manifesto! I will! -GF]

Ban-seok comes upon Da-jung while she’s dumping out her tonic in the kitchen sink, and asks what she’s doing. What does this mean?

She briefly tries to lie, then honestly tells him that she doesn’t want to take the tonic. She’s not confident she can live the way he wants to live, and while she loves him, she doesn’t want to constantly be with his family. Stunned, he asks if this means she doesn’t want kids at all. How could she do this to him? (Sigh. Notice how he has consistently been overlooking what all this means to HER.)

Da-jung replies that she wants to spend some time apart, and heads back to Shin-young’s apartment. [Woo! I miss the fun girly times in the apartment! -GF]

To her credit, Da-jung understands that Ban-seok is not a bad husband — he doesn’t hit her, or gamble, or cheat. [Are those the only options in Korea? -GF] Still, she’s not happy, and asks, “But why does it feel like I’ve run into a wall?” She advises Shin-young again not to marry.

Shin-young tells her friends that she was chosen to be the special foreign correspondent, and will be sent abroad by the end of the month. Rather than being thrilled with the opportunity, she’s apprehensive and feels that this is happening so quickly.

Her friends congratulate her, laughing at her comment that she’ll be 37 when she returns. Bu-ki reminds her that she’ll turn 37 if she stays, too.

Min-jae hears about Shin-young’s assignment from his co-workers. He had suggested a beach outing with Shin-young for Saturday, and even though she hadn’t responded either way, he sends her a reminder text to meet him on Saturday. [Min-jae, don’t you know about the ocean? Don’t go to the ocean! -GF]

However, when the day comes, she doesn’t come out. She’s busy at work all day, and Min-jae ends up waiting in his car all afternoon. It isn’t until nighttime that he finally decides to leave. [It seems that this is the final nail in the coffin that forces him to accept that Shin-young doesn’t intend on getting back together. It’s like his heart breaks all over again. -GF]

Da-jung starts feeling nauseous, which in drama-land can only mean one thing, and true enough the plastic stick confirms her worries. She sighs, “Other people are ecstatic when they’re pregnant.”

Ban-seok ain’t doing so well with the separation, either, and has taken to moping at home. Glumly, he mumbles, “No matter how I think about it, Da-jung doesn’t love me.”

(Sigh. Yes it’s sad for him, but this just proves to me that Ban-seok is immature, because things are so black and white for him.)

Sang-woo shows up to the studio to shoot some photographs of Sang-mi dancing. Yeah, not creepy AT ALL, dude. When Sang-mi notices his presence, she asks (a bit angrily) for him to erase them, but he doesn’t want to. [When did Sang-woo go from mature and patient boyfriend to creepy stalker with a telephoto lens? Did I miss an episode? Was there an emotional spiral left undocumented? -GF]

Not giving in to her cool brush-offs, Sang-woo asks Sang-mi to teach him to dance. He also tells her of an upcoming flight that’ll take him to Paris, which he wants to bring her along on. The mention of Paris is particularly meaningful, since that was what they initially bonded over in their first encounter.

Ban-seok’s sister bursts in, appalled at the state of his living quarters, and starts to nag him. Feeling miserable with his marriage in trouble, his sister’s brashness only aggravates his bad mood, and he (finally!) tells her not to barge in anymore. He also tells her he’s going to change his passcode, putting her in her place in a way that he can as older brother, but that Da-jung couldn’t.

Spurred by this outburst, Ban-seok heads to Shin-young’s apartment to confront Da-jung. In an emotional plea, he tells her that he’s fine letting her have her way, or even if she loves herself more than she loves him — none of that matters when he loves her. Da-jung keeps her back to him, feeling conflicted, and tells him not to say that — she’s selfish and self-absorbed and not good for him.

He vows he can’t live without her, declaring, “This must be love — my mind has changed, and my thoughts have completely changed.”

And really, that’s all it takes. With his tearful words, Da-jung turns to face him, and tells him that she’s pregnant. Ban-seok’s reaction is so filled with joy that it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye. [Whose eye? Not mine! I dare say not mine! (Sniff.) I didn’t really know what people were talking about with this actor until this moment–and I totally get it now. You should have played to his strengths, Show. I know he was silly and bumblingly cute, but I would have cared a thousand times more throughout if I had seen this caliber of acting before, say, the FINALE. -GF]

I think this is a case where this couple doesn’t need to be 100% in line with each other in order to be in a functional relationship — they just need communication. They’ve been trying so hard to be that perfectly matched smug married couple that they’ve been holding things back. (Admittedly this has been more Da-jung’s issue than Ban-seok’s, but he has shown smugness with his “perfect” marriage at times, too.)

Despite her intention to focus on her work, Shin-young finds her mind wandering, and decides that she’ll probably have to see Min-jae one last time before she leaves. I believe this is more for mental closure than to actually say anything specific, because when they run into each other at the office, they mostly exchange pleasantries.

Min-jae wishes her well, and for the first time calls her “noona.” This is his concession to her that he’s accepting her decision not to date; previously, he’d purposely avoided that term in order to assert himself as her romantic equal. [Okay, this kills me. It is the most heartbreaking use of the word “noona” in all of history. I never thought that word could cut like a dagger. It simultaneously floods my head with memories of all the times he insisted on calling her “Shin-young-shi” and “jagi,” while making me gasp at the coldness of addressing her so formally, so distantly. -GF]

As they separate, her voiceover says:

Shin-young’s narration: “Yes, Min-jae, play guitar and work hard on your music. Despite the very fact that you loved me, you’re 24 and in your youth. Go with your heart, and if love comes, love. Live passionately today, like there’s no tomorrow. Thank you for appearing to me this past winter. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making me see myself again. The feeling of fluttering excitement, like spring has come — that’s a gift you gave me. During the time we were together, I loved you more than anything in the world.”

They go on with their daily lives as Shin-young prepares for her departure, but it can safely be said that Min-jae takes this separation especially hard. As he rides his motorcycle, he’s overcome with his emotions and doesn’t react as quickly as he ought, swerving in time to miss hitting a truck. However, another oncoming car honks at him, and as he speeds to avoid a crash, he loses control and falls from his bike. (Thank god he didn’t hit anything. Well, other than the ground.) [If I get even the faintest whiff of amnesia, I’m breaking up with you, Show! -GF]

At the airport, Bu-ki and Da-jung see Shin-young off, and she finds herself looking around inadvertently, hoping for Min-jae to come. She sends a few last texts while waiting for the plane to take off, and receives one from her old teammate telling her that Min-jae has been in a serious motorcycle accident.

Torn, she vacillates momentary, then grabs her bag and pleads with the plane staff to let her off.

Trust the drama to give us a comic moment out of a serious beat, [Thank GOD. -GF] because upon arrival at Min-jae’s hospital room, she sees the bandages and casts swathing the patient and tears up in horror. A man sighs and points her at the other bed — this one’s HIS buddy. HAHA.

Min-jae’s injuries, thankfully, are nowhere as serious. He lies asleep in bed as Shin-young sits by him.

Sang-mi walks into the room and smiles to see Shin-young there. She leaves to allow her some privacy.

Shin-young doesn’t wake Min-jae, and merely sits for a while at his bedside. Finally, as she stands to leave, she thinks, “Thank you. Be well.” [But! You got off the plane! You’re just going to leave, without waiting for consciousness, maybe make sure there’s no selective amnesia? -GF]

She goes on to Finland, the reports of which Min-jae watches on television back home. He hasn’t been in touch with her, so when Sang-mi visits him and asks how Shin-young is doing, he says she’s probably well. Sang-mi thought they’d still be in contact after what she saw at the hospital — which is news to Min-jae. He hadn’t known she visited him. [It’s a nice little capper that Sang-mi helps to bridge their reunion. -GF]

Just as Min-jae watches Shin-young’s broadcasts, she watches the latest interview with him online. He’s revving up activities for a new release, which bears the title “Waiting For you.” Asked to explain the meaning, Min-jae says, “I think everyone lives waiting for someone.” He hopes that “the person I miss and love the most” will come to the upcoming concert.

Sang-mi comes to the studio and finds photos of her stuck to the mirror, which are the shots that Sang-woo had snapped the other day. He asks, “Do you like it?” (Like it? I think the more apt question is, “Are you scared? cuz really, I don’t mean to be a stalker…”) [I AM scared. I literally jumped out of my chair. I think Sang-woo skipped past the grand gesture chapter and went right to scare tactics. -GF]

Sang-woo’s trip to Paris is coming up soon, and he still wants to take her. He reminds her of all the places she’d wanted to see — Sartre’s cafe, the graffiti at Notre Dame. Sang-mi asks why he’s making things so hard on her. He asks, “Why is this hard on you? Doesn’t that mean you still love me?”

She tells him not to expect her to come, but he promises to wait, and leaves her with the ticket. [And the heebie jeebies. -GF]

Min-jae performs at what has got to be the calmest rock show ever. Seriously, I’ve been to classical music concerts with more excitement. As he plays, he thinks he sees Shin-young in the crowd, but his eyes are playing tricks on him, and it’s just a random girl.

He introduces his last song, “The Woman Who Cut My Guitar String,” and says he’d like to go back to the time when he’d written it.

As he plays the song, this time we see the real Shin-young walk in and observe his performance. It’s actually quite emotional for her, and she stays just for the duration of the song, walking away as it winds down. Min-jae doesn’t see her, though she gives one last backward glance before leaving. [Again with the leaving! I know you’re trying to keep up the break-up, but you obviously still love him. Maybe at this point we’re to believe that she knows this, but thinks it’s still best for Min-jae to be young and free. -GF]

Sang-mi decides to go to Paris after all, and boards the flight. I’ve gotta say, Sang-woo knows how to do his romantic gestures right, giving her a cushy first-class experience (I say this with only a little bitterness, as I will likely be consigned to coach for all eternity). [Uh, I’d pretty much marry stalker Sang-woo for a first-class ticket to anywhere, let alone Paris. Does that make me easy? -GF] The flight attendant lets Sang-woo know that the seat has been filled, which makes him smile excitedly.

The attendant returns to Sang-mi with a note that reads: “Even if you want to see me, please wait 11 hours and 50 minutes. I love you.”

Shin-young is only back in Korea for a brief while and it’s a working trip for her, so she still has one last deadline to meet before leaving again. She takes a quick break at the UBN studios to meet with her former teammates, and when she gets back to her computer, her laptop screen is dark and it won’t turn on. The cord has been cut. [What a great little callback–not an anvil, like most rom-com “metaphors.” Using the term metaphor loosely, as most kdrama “metaphors” (ie. moments involving necklaces) are so thinly veiled as to be laughable to a ten-year old. -GF]

She borrows a cord and plugs it into the computer, and when the screen flashes back on, written in big bold letters is the message: “YOU’RE STILL THE WOMAN I LOVE!”

That’s enough to break past her resistance, and Shin-young runs out fighting tears. She heads to their hallway, which is empty, but finds an mp3 player on the windowsill. When she listens, “The Woman Who Cut My Guitar String” is playing on it.

Min-jae comes up behind her and greets her with a smile. He asks, “Why did you just leave that day?” referring to his concert. She asks, “You saw me?” He answers, “I felt that you were there. I missed you.” [Gah, I’m such a sucker for the can’t-see-you-but-still-feel-you connection! -GF]

And they hug. [Eeeeeee! -GF]


Onward to tie up some other loose ends:

Da-jung gives birth, with Ban-seok at her side. Bu-ki, meanwhile, is still single and fabulous, and still deflecting Myung-seok’s pathetic bids for her attention. (Rock on, Boogie-woogie! Also: How much do I love that Boogie-woogie is her nickname?)

Following their (presumably blissful) Paris trip, Sang-mi and Sang-woo are back on, and cuter than they’ve ever been. Sang-mi teaches Sang-woo how to dance — or maybe it’s Sang-woo teaching Sang-mi his own brand of dance. It’s endearing because they’re just goofing around, enjoying being together, having fun being playful.

As for our main couple… Min-jae performs again, and in the middle of the show, the instruments cut out mid-song. It’s a planned lead-in to “The Woman Who Cut My Guitar String,” which he reminds fans is based on a real experience. In fact, the woman who inspired the song is here today, Min-jae explains as a roadie brings out a metal bucket. The person in question is the one who gets doused with this bucket of water.

Shin-young laughs and protests, but when the bucket is tipped, she is showered with confetti, not water.

One last voiceover wraps this series up:

Shin-young’s narration: “When the wind blows, it’s okay to shake. I have faith that at some point, the wind will stop. When it rains, seek out friends. You’re not alone. When love comes, love. And when love leaves, let it go. When you accept what you can’t change, a different love will come. The times of being overcome with jealousy are over. Treasuring today… confessing that I love you… Now I think I can be happy. This is UBN News’ Lee Shin-young.”

 
JAVABEANS’ COMMENTS

I’m thrilled to have our happy ending, but I would have been okay with a more open-ended finale regarding the Shin-young and Min-jae romance. With most romantic comedies I’d be really upset if I spent the whole drama invested in a romance that didn’t come together in the end, but The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry isn’t your standard rom-com. It’s not centered around the love story, unlike most trendy romances, but is squarely about Shin-young and how her love life figures into her overall life.

Thus I have always been on Shin-young’s side in this drama more than on Shin-young/Min-jae. If they’d both moved on, it would have made sense because their romance was portrayed as wonderful and special, but in this moment. At this point in time they love each other, but Shin-young isn’t vouching for the future.

That’s also why I am relieved that she didn’t marry, or even revisit the topic of marriage in the finale. (We’re given room to think they married if we want, but that’s each viewer’s choice.) The title may indicate that Shin-young wants to marry, but it’s more of a metaphor — she wants marriage, but not at the expense of her individuality or her career. If she had married and settled down, that would have actually run counter to the rest of the drama. With our three friends, we get a look at three different places on the marriage-work spectrum, with Da-jung in the most traditional role of happily married. Still, even she realizes that there’s more to that perfect picture than just arriving at an altar, and that marriage isn’t an end — there’s work to be done after that, yunno!

Bu-ki, well, she’s just perfectly happy being herself. I’m glad they kept her consistent throughout the drama, even if that means her character got less development and screentime.

As for the finale’s resolutions — something to note is that this drama gives the women agency in these relationships. Notice that Da-jung is the one who realizes her marriage isn’t working, and she’s the one who leaves. She’s also the one who makes the decision to take Ban-seok back and to go forward with the marriage. Similarly, Shin-young is the one who makes the call about breaking up and reuniting. Same with Sang-mi. It may rub some the wrong way that the men are seemingly robbed of the power to make decisions about their romantic lives, and I feel a twinge of that, too. But isn’t there also something beautiful about the fact that these three men bare their emotions and offer them up to their women, who are given the agency to then choose them? So many times the man makes a grand gesture and whisks the woman away, and it’s assumed that because the woman also loves the man, there’s no need to linger on the annoying issue of letting her make that choice!

These women are not slaves to emotion — there’s emotion there, but there’s also pragmatism and careers and family considerations. And they’re not allowing men to drag them around by the wrist. This drama puts all the decisions into the women’s hands — perhaps to an excessive degree. But even though it does swing too far on one end, I appreciate the thought.

 
GIRLFRIDAY’S COMMENTS

Thankfully there was no three-year fast-forward, no marriage proposal, and no selective amnesia. Kudos, Show. I much prefer this kind of finale, where we deal with how our characters, as we’ve come to know them, deal with events in the here and now. The slight jump forward (of presumably eight to nine months) works well because it gives Shin-young and Min-jae time to be apart and find out BY TRYING, that they still want to be together. This to me is very different from people just declaring that they want to stay together forever. It’s more realistic, more pragmatic, and feels organic to Shin-young as our main hero.

I’m glad that Sang-mi and Sang-woo didn’t rush off to the wedding chapel, and are taking time to rediscover themselves and each other. It’s exactly what I wanted for her, so I’m happy with her send-off. Da-jung and Ban-seok could have been given a little more epilogue besides the birth of their child, because I still want to see some kind of proof that Ban-seok stuck to his word and didn’t fold in front of his family like the doormat that he is. But as far as Da-jung goes, I truly enjoyed her character all the way through, and I like that she doesn’t get a neatly-wrapped solution to the happiness question either. Boogie-woogie is, of course, awesome as always, and I would never doubt her finding utter and complete happiness and self-worth in everything she does.

What I love about this series is that it doesn’t vilify marrieds or singles. It doesn’t give us neat little answers to all of love’s conflicts. It invites us to search, to question, to be brave. What Shin-young, Da-jung, and Bu-ki show us is that life is fuller when you dive in and take chances, value yourself, and lean on your friends when you fall.

This is Dramabeans’ girlfriday, signing out.

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