Drama recap of Scent of Woman by dramabeans

123 July 23, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 1

by javabeans

New drama!

Scent of a Woman premiered this weekend, and GAH! if this drama isn’t gorgeous — the reunion of the Dr. Champ team includes, thankfully, its awesome camera, which gives the show a lush, movie-like appearance with dark contrasts and lovely, rich colors. It doesn’t hurt that they’re working with a beautiful cast, but more than going gaga over their lovely faces, I’m going gaga over the actual images.


Tune – “끝없이 소비하라” (Spend endlessly) [ Download ]

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We start off with some old-film style cinematography, tipping us off to the fantasy nature of the sequence — not that that’s hard to determine, once our stranded heroine’s friendly volleyball (á la Cast Away) drowns and turns into a hunk of a man. Yeah, I’ll take that trade.

This is the dream that gets interrupted when its conjurer, LEE YEON-JAE (Kim Sun-ah), is woken up mid-medical procedure. Yeon-jae relates the results of her routine physical to her co-worker and longtime friend, Hye-won, as they sit out the events of company sports day. They’re both lower-level employees at Line Tours, both from similarly humble backgrounds, and both single and nearing that dreaded designation of old maid.

Hye-won’s physical came back with the warning that because of her dense breasts, she has to go in for more tests. (Yeon-jae: “And you haven’t even gotten to use that chest yet.”) Yeon-jae, on the other hand, has been losing weight recently but her results came back normal.

A couple of their male co-workers come by, and Yeon-jae’s supervisor, Manager Noh, tsk-tsks at the spinsters sitting idly. He clearly disparages them, but Yeon-jae obsequiously jumps up to do his bidding, and assures him that the lunch has been carefully prepared.

Lunch is presented in an oversize bowl, and oh my god, that’s like my dream come true. A huge…bowl…of bibimbap. Big enough to swim in, with oars for spoons. Apparently it feeds 100.

The company chairman thinks they need more spicy bean paste, and Manager Noh hisses at Yeon-jae to get it. Alas, she’s tripped at the last minute by her co-worker (and his obsession with picking up wayward coins), sending her splat right into lunch. Okay, now it’s my nightmare come true.

It’s not her fault, but when her boss rips into her, she starts to explain why she fell, then sees the nervous co-worker and instead meekly apologizes for her error. Such is the life of quietly suffering Yeon-jae, with no spine and little pride to speak of. Or rather, she’s got a spine and pride, but she can’t afford to lose her job over a fit of temper, and has learned to bite her tongue.

Yeon-jae’s the sole breadwinner for her family, which consists of her and Mom. They live in a modest home without a yard (getting them into arguments with the landlord over yard usage), and Yeon-jae’s always promising her mother she’ll upgrade their lifestyle — a better house, a better birthday present next year. Yet, it never seems to happen.

Mom urges her to ditch her “loser mentality” and put herself out there more, advising her of the recipe for an uptick in her fortunes: “Yeon-jae, the fastest way is to marry a rich man.” Yeon-jae returns, “The most impossible way is also to marry a rich man.”

Yeon-jae’s the office gofer in her hospitality department, the one upon whom everyone dumps work and orders around without compunction. She happens to see some brochure photos of a familiar-looking beach — the one from her dream — and learns that it’s an Okinawan island, marveling that her dream-beach does in fact exist.

It’s the busy season for their office, and Yeon-jae has a difficult task to complete, with the arrival of a famous Chinese star who requires the use of a particular fancy sports car during his stay. There are only six of those cars around, and five owners have rejected her request to rent it. The sixth is laid up in the hospital, having just totaled his.

He directs her to try the dealership, though, since a seventh model has just come in, and Yeon-jae happily takes the tip — arriving just as No. 7 is about to be driven off.

She jumps in a taxi and follows the red car through traffic, finally arriving at — surprise, surprise — her own office building. For a moment, the sight of the handsome new owner stops her cold, and she loses herself in a trance…just long enough for the taxi to get rear-ended by a truck. Curses!

No. 7’s owner is KANG JI-WOOK (Lee Dong-wook), the wry only son of the company chairman. Today’s his first day of work as a director, and he is introduced to the board of executives. Ji-wook disarms them by referencing, right off the bat, that he’s here thanks to nepotism and that he plans to do little ordering around, instead intent to watch and learn the other execs, who’ve been doing this work for so long. He’s matter-of-fact and direct, making me like him right away, and has a self-deprecating sense of humor.

But I sense something darker about Ji-wook’s sense of self-awareness, which intrigues me. For instance, he’s assigned a subordinate, Park Sang-woo, who happens to be his high school classmate. Sang-woo’s worked six years to make it to his current position as team leader, and Ji-wook says dryly that life’s quite the bitch, making someone work six years to be team leader, and making someone else the higher-ranking director on his very first day. Sang-woo’s respectful and declines Ji-wook’s offer to use banmal with him in private, but his taut expression shows us that he’s fully aware of that injustice.

The fender-bender with the taxi sends Yeon-jae and the taxi driver to the hospital, where she assures him that she’s perfectly fine and not going to sue him later. Yet the doctor asks to speak with her in his office, and leads her away.

When Yeon-jae hears his name, CHAE EUN-SEOK (Eom Ki-joon), she recalls another boy she’d once known with that same name — a boy who’d crapped his pants in elementary school. She asks the doctor if that’s him, and uses the nickname he’d picked up after that incident: Ddong-seok (Poopy Seok). Ha!

She means it completely good-naturedly, but she’s a little oblivious, whereas we can see that he seems like the sensitive sort — though he covers that up by acting brusque and professional. He immediately knows what incident she refers to — who could forget such trauma? — but says that he doesn’t, though she doesn’t believe it and starts speaking to him familiarly.

I love that this means they can immediately drop to banmal, even though they knew each other very briefly in their childhoods and Poopy Seok ended up transferring away — perhaps traumatized by her oblivious teasing?

Eun-seok gets to the point and tells Yeon-jae that she ought to be thankful to the taxi driver. Yeon-jae: “Why, for bringing us back together?” Eun-seok: “You have a tumor.”

It’s 3 cm big already and resides in her gallbladder, but he won’t say whether it’s cancer. He keeps his comments brief, saying merely that she needs to come in for a biopsy in order to determine what it is.

Yeon-jae’s a little startled, but she takes this in like a good sport, missing the signs in Eun-seok’s explanation that warn that this is probably more serious than she’s prepared for. He tells her to come in Thursday, overriding her protests that she can’t get away from work until the weekend.

Back at work, everyone is aflutter with the new director’s arrival, particularly the female employees. One of Yeon-jae’s co-workers, Nam Nari, steps in and takes over the car rental request because that’ll give her an excuse to speak to Ji-wook, despite Yeon-jae insisting that she can finish her task alone.

Nari’s one of those pesky office flies who looks down on Yeon-jae, buoyed by the idea that she’s younger, prettier, and better than her. When her team enters the elevator, for instance, excited to share space with Ji-wook (and begin the process of impressing him), the elevator beeps when its weight limit is hit, and Nari nudges Yeon-jae to step off.

Like I said, Ji-wook has an interestingly dry sense of humor. It’s sarcastic but without a mean edge, and so comes off more as wit. He also seems bored of life, as we can deduce from his dinner conversation with his father, Chairman Kang, as they await the arrival of his fiancée. Ji-wook has no interest in this marriage, but he’s going along with it because…well, there’s no reason not to, I guess. He definitely isn’t happy with this idea, but he’s not motivated enough to rebel. I get the sense that he just doesn’t care.

His fiancée, IM SAE-KYUNG (Seo Hyo-rim) is no more thrilled about the marriage, although she expresses her feelings differently. Where Ji-wook is noncommittal, she’s surly, almost rude. Chairman Kang is a cheery sort and looks fondly upon her, as though excusing her behavior, but it’s almost like she’s challenging him to find fault with her. (Is she pushing them to end the engagement? Hm.)

Sae-kyung is heiress to Seojin Group, and works as an executive director of Seojin Cards. At the meeting, she asks Ji-wook to handle the hospitality arrangements for one of her VVIP clients, a notoriously difficult pianist who is flying in to Korea and has requested some guided tours.

Sae-kyung asks to see Ji-wook’s bachelor pad (a woman ought to know her fiancé’s taste before sealing the deal) and makes one request of him, uttered with ice-cold authority: Don’t interfere in her personal life before the wedding, and she won’t mess with his.

Hm, is it weird that I kind of like her? She’s cold and sullen, but also self-possessed. She’s not easily likable, but maybe it’s more that there are qualities I respect about her, like her frankness. She’s strong. Like a sledgehammer, perhaps, overdoing it when more subtle means would do.

Ji-wook is more easy-going, and points out their differences — he has no greed for earning more money, while she’s all ambition. They suppose they’re in the marriage for the same reasons, and have decided they’ll get what they want out of it.

Yeon-jae goes out with her team for a department night of dinner and singing, and overhears the other women gossiping about her. I’m pretty sure she’s aware of the fact that she’s sucking up to Manager Noh to stay employed, but it’s particularly harsh to hear them smirking about it — and then pitying her.

She also gets stuck with the task nobody wants to take on: Escorting Sae-kyung’s VVIP client Wilson. It’s the only way to get Manager Noh to agree to give her a day off to go to the hospital, even as he pooh-poohs her worries, saying that she couldn’t possibly be worse off than him.

Taking charge of Wilson’s stay requires her to go out of her way to find food that falls within his dietary restrictions, as he is Muslim. She finds a farm that purveys Halal-certified food, and gets a chicken from them to be prepared by the restaurant.

Yeon-jae greets Wilson and his wife and embarks on her tour through some rural regions of Korea to show him the sights. In addition to being fussy and difficult, he also sniffs at all the places she takes him — a forest, a green tea field — by saying he’s seen better.

Wilson’s wife tells her not to take it personally, though, because he’s being particularly grumpy on this trip. He’s adopted, and has always had a longing for his mother country, but also feels hurt and resentful toward it. She assures Yeon-jae that despite his complaints, he is actually enjoying the tour, which reassures her.

However, plans meet a hitch when the classy restaurant reserved for lunch is closed, cordoned off with police tape. The owner got into a knife fight last night and is laid up in the hospital.

Yeon-jae sneaks inside to retrieve her precious Halal-certified chicken, and takes her guests to another restaurant, where she asks the proprietors to take particular care with the chicken.

And yet, the couple storms out of the restaurant soon afterward, sputtering and furious. It turns out that they were fed pork — a mix-up on the restaurant’s part — and this blatant disrespect for their religious customs offends them.

Sae-kyung hears about this snafu while she’s on the golf course with her father and Ji-wook. While she takes the call, Dad advises Ji-wook against inviting woman problems into the marriage (describing other men he knows with messy home lives, putting up mistresses or sponsoring actresses). Ji-wook points out that the simple solution to this concern is to let Sae-kyung marry somebody she’s in love with, to which Dad chuckles, “You can love her, and that’ll do, won’t it?” Umm, I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works, Dad. I begin to understand Sae-kyung’s personality, all ice covering up the simmering fury underneath.

Since the Wilson problem is currently in the hands of Ji-wook’s company, not Sae-kyung’s, he steps up to take care of it, and calls Yeon-jae.

Yeon-jae takes his call with trepidation, bracing herself to receive hell. Yet surprisingly, Ji-wook doesn’t scold her. He says with a sigh that what’s done is done, and that it’s tough guiding a difficult client. He advises that she do what she can to pacify Wilson’s anger, and leaves it to her to handle. She is surprised and grateful at his reasonable response.

Wilson is mightily offended and immune to Yeon-jae’s little efforts to appease him. When she reaches for the door, his ring catches in her sweater and he snipes about being careful with it. Like her off-the-rack knit cardigan has a shot against his diamonds.

Still, Yeon-jae heads out to the marketplace that evening and picks up a box of pastries, and brings it back to the hotel. Wilson faces her stonily, but his expression eases as Yeon-jae explains that she’d read in an interview that the one food he remembers his mother making is a type of bread, shaped like a quesadilla and stuffed with sweet red beans.

He’s actually touched, and Yeon-jae leaves feeling satisfied in her efforts.

She’s called back in the morning, however, to a much more hostile environment. Sae-kyung accuses her of stealing Wilson’s precious diamond ring, without which he refuses to perform. In fact, he’s canceling his performance and heading straight to the airport.

Yeon-jae protests that she didn’t steal it, but nobody believes her. Sae-kyung insists that the CCTV footage confirms that she’s the only one who entered the room, and Wilson is hardly going to steal his own ring. I can think of another explanation, but I’m guessing you pissy hotheads are immune to reason, with the weight of that chip on your shoulders impeding common sense from entering your brains.

Wilson tells Yeon-jae that he was actually moved by her gift, but now suspects it was just a ruse used so she could get at the ring.

The offended couple leaves, and Sae-kyung delivers a harsh slap. Okay, I revise my liking of her. She’s way beyond sledgehammer status. Bulldozer may be more appropriate, flattening anything in her path that doesn’t conform to her version of the truth.

Sae-kyung also dumps out the contents of Yeon-jae’s purse, which naturally doesn’t contain the ring, then accuses her of pawning it already.

Yeon-jae is left alone in the room, and sees her belongings strewn everywhere. It’s the family photo — in particular her beloved bygone father — that pushes her over the brink and into tears.

It’s not long before Wilson realizes he’s being an ass, when the airport metal detector locates the ring, which had caught on his sweater. At least to his credit, he looks sorry about it.

Yeon-jae hasn’t been by for her biopsy, to Eun-seok’s chagrin, but at least she finally shows up today. Alas, she doesn’t have a guarantor, although he’d clearly told her to bring one. She tells him to be her guarantor if she needs one so much, an idea he instantly rejects.

But then he turns back, feeling for her, frustrated and sympathetic. They take the biopsy, and it confirms Eun-seok’s suspicions — and her condition is bad enough that his colleagues wonder how he’ll tell his “friend” that she’s terminal.

At first, Yeon-jae doesn’t clue in to his grim expression (to be fair, it’s his everyday expression) and chatters cheerily about how she didn’t want to bring her mother as her guarantor, because it would just worry her about being cancer if it wasn’t really cancer.

There’s no better way to say it, so Eun-seok dives in: It’s cancer. It has already spread to the liver, so removing the organ won’t suffice. Radiation is not likely to help. He advises her to check herself in for tests.

Yeon-jae takes moments to let this sink in, realizing that she’s got cancer, and that it’s bad. When she finally speaks, it’s to ask how long she has left. Eun-seok won’t give her an estimate, but she presses him, wanting to prepare herself. He supposes six months.

She’s called in to work by Manager Noh, who’s about to rip into her for taking the day off after all. He tells her that one word from Sae-kyung — who has ties to the chairman — puts the entire team in danger.

Sae-kyung comes by to speak with Manager Noh, and he instructs Yeon-jae to serve them coffee. He hangs his head meekly and apologizes for the incident, hastening to distance himself from Yeon-jae by saying that the fault of one employee doesn’t mean that the rest of their team is equally suspect. Sae-kyung retorts that it’s his fault for assigning such a lousy employee in the first place.

Yeon-jae enters with her tray and starts setting out the drinks, just as Sae-kyung gets up to leave — walking right into the cup of coffee. It splatters over her legs, and she tries to wipe up the mess.

Sae-kyung shoves Yeon-jae aside and glares at her with contempt, saying that she should stick to work like this (serving drinks). She storms out, leaving Yeon-jae reeling in shock and hurt.

She heads back to her desk, too shocked to react, and Manager Noh starts criticizing her again, sighing that he should’ve fired her when he had the chance. But no, she’d begged and cried and he’d relented, making her a full-time employee. And now because of useless “things like you,” the qualified, educated new generation wastes away on the sidelines, unable to get employed.

That’s going too far, and Yeon-jae trembles as she defends herself, saying that she’s worked for him for ten years, making him coffee, cleaning his desk, taking care of his wife when she was in an accident. She even cried with him when he cried about a failed promotion. Tearily, she asks, “Couldn’t you believe in me just a little, respect me just a little?”

Psh, whatever, is his reaction, and he orders her to clean the conference room. At the end of her rope, Yeon-jae mumbles resentfully, “You clean it.”

Manager Noh asks incredulously what she said, so she repeats, louder now, that he should clean it. Insulted, he warns her that she could get fired.

Yeon-jae: “You won’t be able to do that. I just quit.”

Fumbling in her desk, she pulls out an envelope and presents the resignation letter she has had readied for five years. Every time he’s mistreated her, she’s been tempted to use the letter, but she bit her tongue and held back, every time.

Manager Noh scoffs, “So what? You’re gonna throw a resignation?”

Heaving with indignation, she yells, “Yes! Here’s my resignation letter, you asshole!” And flings it into his face.


The drama starts off at a rather languid pace, but by episode’s end, I was itching for the next one. The previews look pretty promising, as well, with Yeon-jae shedding her timid attitude and adopting a new one. I’m really looking forward to that, because it’s hard to watch a character you’re pulling for be so badly treated by everyone. It’s bad enough that she gets stepped on, but that she meekly bows her head and takes it?

It’s enough to make me blow a gasket. It’s the same dynamic we saw in Baby-Faced Beauty, as well as every ’90s Cinderella drama), where long-suffering was touted like a desirable character trait. Thankfully, that’s mitigated here by the knowledge that it isn’t going to last very long, because the whole premise of the drama rests on her transformation. Excited for that. I love Kim Sun-ah’s performance in the last scene, when you can see her trembling with her newfound courage, both scared and exhilarated by it. It’s like watching a baby animal stand for the first time.

Even with its more leisurely pace, I think it works for Scent of a Woman because this show is so gorgeous to look at. The camera almost becomes a separate character, establishing atmosphere and mood in a way that we don’t get merely from the story. I think I’m really going to like this writer-director pair; even if Dr. Champ wasn’t the most exciting drama, it felt refreshing and different. It was a lovely, relaxing show that was a feast for the eyes and had a nice soundtrack. That applies here as well, except we also get a high-premise concept to add energy to the story.

Plus, I’m really liking the characters so far. Okay, maybe not so much Sae-kyung, but I do actually find her interesting from a character standpoint — she’s not a bitch just because she’s a spoiled brat; I can sense there’s much more to her attitude underneath the surface (and not just because I read the pre-show profile info). I may not like her, but I find her interesting.

I’m particularly intrigued with Ji-wook, because while he shares a lot of surface similarities with leading men of yore, there’s something very different about him that I like. He looks like a Darcy, but he’s not. (Darcy was proud; Ji-wook has a wry understanding of his privilege, and doesn’t seem that happy with it.) He also looks like a Prince Charming, but he’s not. (He’s shown flashes of understanding, but he’s not a perfect gentleman, either.) He’s aware of his status, but doesn’t overcompensate for his wealth by embracing the other side. (That prize goes to Yoo-hyun of Miss Ripley.)

Instead, he’s just a guy with a brain, who doesn’t seem particularly embittered about love, but not really enamored of it, either. He’s just coasting by, characterized by ennui more than anything else. I really, really like that about the hero. He’s coolly aloof because he doesn’t care, not because he has a chip on his shoulder, or thinks he’s better than the plebes, or because he’s conceited and arrogant. The perfect foil to contrast with our heroine — she’s losing her life but determined to live it up, while he’s already given up on his.

Then there’s the doctor, who’s wonderfully played by Eom Ki-joon, whose sensitive side wars with his curtness in a palpable way. He’s not cookie-cutter Daddy Long Legs, but I can see him growing to care for our heroine, spurred by a mix of interest and pity.

This drama has a solid cast, fantasmagical cinematography, nice atmospheric music, and an interesting premise. The story’s the slowest part to find itself, but I have hopes that it’ll find its footing by the next episode. *crosses fingers*


127 July 24, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 2

by girlfriday

Victory! Who knew a terminal illness could be so freeing? Never thought I’d say those words, but as it turns out, sometimes finding out that you’re going to die is just the thing you need to start living.


Yeon-jae throws her resignation in her boss’s face, in what has got to be the most satisfying job-quitting I’ve seen in a long time. As the words “I quit, you son of a bitch!” come out of her mouth, the entire office gasps in awe.

Her boss tells her that he’ll blackball her in the industry forever. She laughs bitterly, “Forever? Forever for me isn’t much longer!” And with that she turns to gather up her things.

I love that she’s so palpably fired up from her anger and fear and excitement – it’s the way you feel when the adrenaline is still rushing through your body but you have no outlet for it.

She starts to walk out and then turns back to grab the awful girl Nari’s purse, declaring that she’ll repay her loan with interest… after which she can retrieve her purse. HA. I love her newfound spunk mixed in with the sheer awkwardness of her.

She makes her exit, and who should be out in the hall but Sae-kyung, just after their second humiliating encounter. She turns to go with a haughty smile and Yeon-jae looks like she might revert to her old ways…

But she musters up the courage to stop her. Aw, yeah! She explains that she didn’t steal Wilson’s ring, but Sae-kyung refuses to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite the fact that there’s no evidence on either side.

Yeon-jae gathers up her nerves to say that if she continues to accuse her like this, she’ll sue her for defamation (the term in Korean is “dishonor”). Sae-kyung scoffs: “Do people like you even have honor to reclaim?”


Yeon-jae slaps her right across the face. “How is it? Getting slapped puts you in a so-so mood, doesn’t it? I was in a so-so mood too, after being slapped. What? Is there some kind of law that rich heiresses are the only ones who can slap people? Were you born with the right to treat people any way you want?”

She says that she was raised as a precious daughter in her household too, and people shouldn’t look down on others because they happened to be born to rich parents. Sae-kyung takes a swipe at her but she ducks, claiming to be quite athletic. Heh.

God, I love that she’s finally telling her off. I feel so redeemed right now for watching her be the quiet suffering heroine for the entire first episode. She walks off, head held high, leaving Sae-kyung fuming.

Sae-kyung goes straight to her future father-in-law to demand that Yeon-jae be fired on the spot. The chairman starts to say that he believe Yeon-jae wouldn’t steal, but Sae-kyung yells that she dared to slap her.

Ji-wook gets word and seems amused at the matter, asking to see Yeon-jae right away. But Sang-woo tells him that she already quit on her own and walked out.

She wanders the streets in a daze and then ends up at the bank to clean out her savings account. The clerk marvels at her savings – she has upwards of $30,000 in just one of three accounts, and she asks how she managed to save so well.

Yeon-jae answers dully, “If you don’t use it, don’t eat, don’t buy, you can…” The regret comes over her in a wave, realizing that she’s saved her pennies all her life, and for what?

Talking mostly to herself, she starts to name all the things she had scrimped on: cheap t-shirts on the street, making a pair of shoes last forever, never going abroad or buying one designer bag.

She starts to cry. “I was going to get married, and buy a car, and in five years, maybe a house with a yard… That’s why I saved, and saved, and saved… It’s so unfair. So unfair. So unfair.” The tears come rolling down, in the most awkward of places, in the middle of the bank. It’s heartbreakingly real.

Her friend and co-worker Hye-won calls in a panic to ask what’s going on, and she just says she wants to drink. But not at their usual place. So that night they meet at a swanky bar, gasping at the prices on the menu.

Hye-won asks if she’s really okay, wondering what on earth is making her penny-pincher friend suddenly want to treat her out to someplace like this. Yeon-jae gets scared at first, letting Hye-won order two beers, but then grits her teeth and changes the order to a bottle of scotch and the finest fruit plate.

They happily learn the taste of expensive scotch and proceed to get totally hammered. Hye-won notices Ji-wook walk into the bar and swoons, saying that it’s her fantasy to date a man like that once before she dies.

She says it like you would any pipedream, but Yeon-jae stands up and puts her glass down with zeal. “Tonight, I’m going to seduce that man.” Hahaha. She takes off her glasses, deciding that she’s going to be with a man like that before she dies.

She makes her wobbly, squinty approach, as Ji-wook turns, realizing that she’s coming straight for him. At the same time, Sae-kyung makes her way up to the bar to meet him. He looks over at her curiously, and Yeon-jae continues to walk toward him…

…running straight into a waiter with a flaming cocktail. It ends up all over her, and she stings from the embarrassment more than the pain. Ji-wook gives a chuckle as she runs off, mortified. To add insult to injury, Sae-kyung sees her pass by with a snicker.

Hye-won helps her clean up in the bathroom, and asks how she was planning to seduce Ji-wook anyway. Besides, she points out, even if she HAD seduced him, what was she going to do wearing a tattered old bra?

She thinks the embarrassment was worth it since they got their whole check comped and a free room on top of it all, but Yeon-jae just sighs that nothing’s going her way. She almost tells Hye-won the truth, but decides against it in the end.

Sae-kyung remains in a snippy mood (though I’d counter she’s never NOT in a snippy mood) and Ji-wook fans the flames by saying that the employee must’ve had a reason to slap her. But he hands over a present to lift her spirits—a designer wallet with tickets to a show. She hates both like the brat that she is, so he tells her to throw them away to one of her employees then.

Yeon-jae saves Ji-wook’s number in her phone that night, and then wakes up the next morning with a sigh. She opens up her computer and starts to research cancer. Mom comes in unannounced, so she slams her laptop shut in a panic, and Mom just smiles, “Were you looking at porn?” Hahaha.

She lies that she’s got some time off from work, so Mom tells her to stop by while she watches a friend’s store. She hugs Mom on her way out, and just gets snapped at for smooshing her hair. Heh.

Nari calls to finally repay her debt and get her precious purse back, and Yeon-jae makes her add the measly interest, just to make a point. Nari asks why she quit, when she’s SO OLD, and Yeon-jae counters, “If I’m so old, then why do you speak to me in banmal? Do you think you’ll never age? You’ll turn thirty someday too.” She gasps, horrified.

She hilariously tells Nari to become just like her and meet a co-worker just like herself, as if she’s putting a hex on her. Yup, karma’s kinda awesome that way.

Ji-wook meanwhile gives a presentation for a “Free Independent” line of tours, and the board is startled to find that he’s actually doing good work. He’s not though—he’s just parroting what Sang-woo has prepared for him, and only because he feels obligated to.

They suggest that he goes to Japan to test out the proposed travel places himself, and Dad tries to get him to show a little effort at anything in life. But Ji-wook remains aloof, telling his father that just because something is the most expensive doesn’t mean he has to like it. He certainly seems to resent what money means, though he doesn’t care enough to NOT take advantage of its luxuries.

Yeon-jae goes to meet Mom as promised, only Mom drags her to a matchmaking service, despite her pleas. God, this is painful to watch. Basically she railroads her and does what moms do, exaggerating Yeon-jae’s position at work and her assets to try and cover up for her lack of college education or her age.

She plays along at first despite cringing at the awfulness of it all, but finally when Mom insists that she can give the company’s newlyweds a discount for their honeymoons, she tells her that she can’t. Mom doesn’t listen and she can’t take it anymore, blurting out: “I can’t do that! I can’t do that because I quit my job!”

She runs out and Mom freaks out that she quit her job when she has nothing else to stand on. All she can think about of course is that no one will marry her if she has no job, which is the exact wrong thing to say to the girl who desperately wishes she could even live long enough to get married.

Yeon-jae screams that she won’t get married then, and asks if she was so ashamed of her daughter to lie to that woman. She says sadly that she worked really hard to live a good life, and of all people, Mom doesn’t have the right to be ashamed of her. She outright blames her for the fact that she ended up like this, sending Mom away in tears.

Sae-kyung arrives to meet her father, shocked to find her ex-boyfriend leaving Dad’s office flustered. She stops and immediately her demeanor softens, and she asks tenderly if he’s doing well. He simply tells her that they can’t be caught together and leaves.

She storms into Daddy’s office up in arms about him continuing to mess with her beloved when she stuck to her word to break up with him, come to work at the company, and even marry someone he chose.

She threatens that if he doesn’t stick to his side of the bargain, she’ll just go back to him and they’ll run away together. So Dad has no recourse but to play her a recording of his conversation with her ex, not five minutes ago.

In it, he clearly blackmails her father, asking for money to keep the “pretty pictures” from surfacing. Oh, gross. Scumbag. She’s stunned, not understanding the extent of it at first, but Dad quickly disillusions her about her so-called love – he’s squeezed upwards of 20 million won from him thus far, going back as far as their first 100 days together.

Dad determined it’d be nicer if she thought it was love, so he never intended for her to know. He adds that “those people” only see her as money and nothing else. Oy, so now we know where Princess gets her attitude from.

It’s nice to see that she does actually have a soft side that’s vulnerable to heartbreak, not that it changes my desire to smash a pie in her face.

She calls the guy to tell him off, and then drowns her sorrows in liquor. That much is fine. I’m with here there. But then she calls Ji-wook over and then orders him to sing her a song, like he’s a puppet boy. He refuses, of course, so her temper flares.

She calls someone there who WILL listen to her orders like a trained dog, and proceeds to treat him like a slave. Ji-wook tries to intervene, but she tells him that she sees no difference between that guy who’s here to earn money and Ji-wook, who’s marrying her for money.

He gives the boy a few bills and asks him to be her designated driver, and leaves. She immediately kicks the other guy out too, but not before throwing money at him, of course. Wow you are insufferable. At least now I get why, but it doesn’t change the insufferable part.

The next day, Yeon-jae goes to the hospital, freaked out the sight of a cancer patient. Eun-seok tells her that they’ll start chemo right away, and suggests a new trial drug. She refuses to be used for tests despite his insistence that it’s a good opportunity, so he finally relents to just the usual course of meds.

She corrects him – she’s not going to get ANY treatment. He tells her that this isn’t something that she can remain in denial about, or put off until later. She tells him that she watched her dad go through those painful procedures for his liver cancer. “I’m scared. The second I get a shot, I’ll become a real cancer patient. And that scares me.”

Eun-seok doesn’t skirt the issue, which I like about him: “You are a real cancer patient now.” He tells her brusquely that if she’s not going to get treatment, to stop wasting his time. Tears fall and her anger finally spills out. “Choi Eun-seok, if your mother had cancer, would you have told her like this?” She asks if this the only way he can talk to a friend from childhood.

She spits out, “Even if I do get treatment, I won’t get it from a doctor like you! If you talk this way to a friend, then how must you be to other people? I feel bad for your patients.” She confesses that she’s already scared to death, but feels like meeting a doctor like him is REALLY the thing to make her truly pitiable. HA. How much am I going to love this friendship?

She storms out, leaving him rattled, and heads to her father’s grave in a rage.

Yeon-jae: How could you do this to me? How could you? Is there really nothing else you could’ve left me? Other people leave their children homes and inheritances. How could you leave your daughter cancer, Dad? Other fathers hold their daughters’ hands while walking them down the aisle. But how could you do this to me? How could you?!

I want to date, and marry, and have a baby. But now there’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing I can do! This is all your fault! It’s all your fault! I’m never coming back here again! I won’t! Just so you know.

She leaves in an angry fit of tears, but then she comes right back, bottle of soju in hand. Aw. She pours Dad a drink and apologizes for taking it out on him when she’s just scared and frustrated.

She tells him that she can’t tell Mom even though all she wants to do is lean on her. Then she leans on Dad’s grave, like she’s resting her head in his lap. In flashback we see that she spent her youth by her father’s sickbed, trying to be his strength but watching him grow sicker and more regretful of the life he’d led.

He wished he had taken her to more places said “I love you” more, and told her not to live like him. She makes the decision to heed his advice, and goes home to pack a bag and head to her dream island.

She starts packing and then stops as she looks at all her dreary clothes. She looks at herself in the mirror…

Makeover time! And how much do I love that this is no Cinderella makeover given to her by some prince or fairy godmother? She just decides that she’s going to do it up right and finally spend some money on herself.

She goes on a shopping spree and heads to the airport a new woman, turning quite a few heads on her way in. The only ticket left to Okinawa that day is first class, and she says no, but then catches herself.

First class it is! She squeals in delight at the array of food and champagne, and then even has some good luck at the hotel when they accidentally double-book her in a room with a naked man. Hee.

So she gets upgraded to a suite overlooking the ocean and she swoons at the view. She tells the concierge that this might be her last trip, so she wants to enjoy the best of everything.

She lives it up and enjoys all the perks, and sighs that the only thing missing is a man…

Enter Ji-wook, who gets dragged along on the scouting trip with Sang-woo, and happens to walk right into her hotel. She ducks behind her wide-brimmed hat in shock at the sight of him, but follows him thinking that she’s being stealthy.

He turns around to see a woman in a bright pink bikini following him and pretending not to, but just laughs and dismisses it as nothing.

She sneaks up to her room without being seen, and then breaks out into a giant smile. Haha. It’s like she ordered a dreamboat off the menu and there he is!

She changes and then get back to stalking him, and follows him into the marina. She hilariously follows him but refuses to actually confront him, so she ends up running away onto a boat to avoid being seen.

He follows her onto the boat and introduces himself, thinking that she’s the tour guide who’s supposed to show him around the island. The guide’s name happens to be Miss Lee too, so she shakes his hand confirming that she is Miss Lee.

Just then, the boat engine starts. They lurch forward, and he reaches his arms around her to catch her fall.


Aw, how sweet. It kind of feels like an old-school romance in the best way. I can’t wait to see more of Yeon-jae’s brighter side as she continues to un-repress her true nature. The first episode drove me crazy with her downtrodden pride-swallowing ways, but of course watching where she starts out is what makes her turn so damn satisfying. A drama that can make me feel so angry and then vindicated in two episodes is certainly going to grab my heart in no time.

The everyday realism, finding drama in the mundane moments, is the Dr. Champ team’s forte, and I think this plot serves that kind of storytelling even better than their last project. Yeon-jae’s realization that she’s lived her whole life denying herself to prepare for the future, only to find that she has none? Is just achingly so true to life. I love that this isn’t about cancer or even dying, but about a woman’s journey to find herself for the first time.

It’s a fantastic setup because it has the best of both worlds – we get the fantasy of her finally living it up in first class and getting a chance at Prince Charming, but the cancer keeps it rooted in reality. I like that tether. It’s tragic, yes, but it’s also the perfect motivator, instigator, or whatever you want to call it. Death is just her wake-up call, and I have a great feeling that it’s going to be just as awesome to watch how that life-altering change affects the other people around her.


====================================================================================114 July 30, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 3

by javabeans

This drama is such a feast for the eyes and years, I think I’d watch it even if the story were boring — not that that’s an issue, since I’m also finding the plot light and refreshing. This is the type of drama that could be ruined with bungled direction and editing, because it’s almost like the setting and ambiance are characters themselves; atmosphere is a key component in making it work. And thankfully, it works — it’s a breath of fresh air.


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Yeon-jae quite literally falls into Ji-wook’s arms when the yacht’s engine roars to life. It’s not until they’re out in open water that she realizes he’s mistaken her for the travel agent, which she didn’t pick up on because he’s been calling her by their shared name, Ms. Lee.

She starts to explain the mix-up…but there he is, standing so handsomely nearby, and she with the perfect excuse to prolong their interaction. So she holds her tongue and whispers a quick apology to the other Ms. Lee, but justifying that the name applies to her, too.

Yeon-jae enjoys the view and the ride, but Ji-wook says he’s had enough; he’s here to scope out potential travel related events, and doesn’t care to mix business with pleasure. He doesn’t see the point in getting twenty more minutes of sea and wind, because to him those aren’t things to be enjoyed. Oh, what a sad little rich boy you are. Yeon-jae’s the one who says that being on a yacht is rare experience, so they should use it.

He leaves her to enjoy it alone and heads below, where he takes a call from his father and assures him sarcastically that he’s hard at work, not fooling around: “If you find it so hard to trust me, then come here yourself.”

Once they dock, he fields a call from the travel agency, who’s gotten the call from Ms. Lee saying she couldn’t find Ji-wook. He assures them that he has met her, continuing the misunderstanding, and asks Yeon-jae what’s the next order of business.

Back in Seoul, the doctors working under Chae Eun-seok huddle around a blog cartoon which depicts an assy doctor and speculate that it’s just like their Dr. Chae, aka King of Bastards. Proving the comparison correct, Eun-seok goes on his rounds to his various cancer patients, treating them with cold disinterest as he delivers bad news in perhaps the worst display of bedside manner since Dr. House. But at least House is witty and sardonic; Eun-seok is utterly devoid of any expression, like his patients are just numbers and charts to him. Or, in one instance, hopeless cases taking up needed hospital beds.

Looks like Yeon-jae was right on the money when she said she pitied any of his patients for the amount of care (read: none) he shows them. I suspect Eun-seok actually cares about this negative image — there’s a flicker of vulnerability when he catches people talking about him — but he lacks the social skills or humility to correct it.

Yeon-jae takes Ji-wook to a folk dance performance, and again Ji-wook takes one look and deems it sufficient; he’s ready to go. When she walks around the marketplace, he scoffs that she’s wasting time, since he’s here to work. Yeon-jae counters that he’s in the business of promoting travel, and that experiencing firsthand the things he recommends is kind of a gimme.

The ditched Ms. Lee calls her travel agency again to complain, so the agent calls Ji-wook back to get a status update. Before he has a chance to find out he’s with the wrong person, he’s targeted by a pickpocket, who grabs his wallet and runs.

Ji-wook’s not hugely concerned, saying that it only contains cash and cards, while Yeon-jae’s like, Duh! And that’s not important? She goes running after the thief, and Ji-wook joins her in taking up the chase.

At one point the pickpocket heads toward Yeon-jae, so she thinks fast and throws her shoe at him. Unfortunately, he veers out of the way and it gets Ji-wook in the face instead.

Thankfully for them, the thief is stopped by a Japanese local, a silent man who knocks down the gangster punk after confirming that the thief is Tokyo yakuza. The man tosses the wallet to Ji-wook and goes off without a word.

Ji-wook’s tired and a little cranky so he’s ready to call it a day, but Yeon-jae persuades him to do one more activity, and they head off to eat a particular Okinawan specialty. She entertains him with lame Japanese-Korean language puns, which he hardly finds funny, but the mood finally starts to lift when he laughs over her sauce-stained mouth, and she retorts that he’s in the same state.

After lunch, Yeon-jae leads him to the beach, and he has to smile at her enthusiasm as she frolics on the sand — he may not feel the same exuberance over the little joys in life, but he’s starting to appreciate her joie de vivre.

As they return to the hotel, Ji-wook asks if she’s staying here because of him. He means it in a “Hope you weren’t too inconvenienced by this job” way, but Yeon-jae thinks he’s realized who she really is, and starts to explain that she didn’t even know he was going to be here.

When he asks if she’s lived in Okinawa long, she decides it’s time to fess up and starts to explain, “I might not be the Ms. Lee you think I am.”

Before she has a chance to explain, the very put-out, very indignant other Ms. Lee makes her appearance and accuses Ji-wook of giving her the runaround all day. Now realizing the mix-up, Ji-wook asks why Yeon-jae spent the day with him, then, and she muddles through an explanation of not having the chance. Plus, she was glad to see him. (She uses the word that implies they’re already acquainted, although it’s a subtle enough implication that he doesn’t realize they’ve met before — sorta — at the company. That’s a revelation I’m looking forward to seeing, though it’ll have to wait for another day.)

Ji-wook calmly tells Ms. Lee that he’ll see her tomorrow for the guided tour, then heads to his suite. He’s cool-headed enough to think back to the meeting on the dock and realize that it wasn’t Yeon-jae’s fault he’d assumed she was the travel guide.

Back in Seoul, Sae-kyung meets with her brother, who’s heard the story of her ex-boyfriend-slash-extortionist. Having him remind her of that folly picks at her wounds, and she deletes all the photos of her happier times with the boyfriend, then contemplates the theater tickets Ji-wook had given her. Perhaps it’s time to move on and look forward?

That evening, Yeon-jae calls her mother to check in, only to have Mom immediately snap at her. She’s in the middle of a emergency with a malfunctioning toilet and complains about her daughter flitting off on vacation, then hangs up in a snit. Yeon-jae sighs, “What did I expect from Mom?”

She wanders outside listlessly, and sees a couple walking through a wedding rehearsal. Watching wistfully as they exchange rings, she notices someone else looking in on the happy pair — the man who rescued Ji-wook’s wallet. She thanks him warmly for his help and asks if he knows the couple, but he just moves on in his silent, unresponsive way.

Yeon-jae continues her aimless stroll of the grounds, in the midst of wishing for stars to fall when she runs into Ji-wook. She apologizes for ruining his plans today, but he says it’s not a big deal — he doubts he would’ve seen anything more interesting with a different guide.

His calm reaction to her lie may seem like an act of kindness, but for the overall tone of ennui that ruins that thought. Rather, it’s like he couldn’t be bothered to care one way or the other, and he says that as a tourist, “It’s all the same.”

Politely, Yeon-jae tells him that she knows this is overstepping her bounds, but advises him to go sightseeing tomorrow with a different attitude. His indifference won’t do him any good in planning travels for others, not when he won’t bother to feel, taste, or experience anything firsthand. She urges him to enjoy himself, in the name of making a better travel product: “The travel plans you create on this trip could be the very first trip of somebody’s life…or the last one they have before they die.”

She leaves him thinking that over, and in the morning, Ji-wook meets Ms. Lee for their day of beach tours, having prepared a swimsuit per her recommendation. He points out that her heavily made-up face isn’t exactly snorkel-ready, and she says that she won’t be participating, since she hates tanning. A stark contrast to somebody else’s advice about the value of personal experience.

Just then, he sees Yeon-jae walk by and makes a last-minute adjustment to his plans. He heads outside just as Yeon-jae is getting into a taxi, and joins her inside. She gapes in surprise, but he smiles, “I think I’d have more fun with the fake Ms. Lee than the real one.”

That takes them snorkeling, and then to a bluff to admire the view. At Yeon-jae’s enthusiastic response to the sights, Ji-wook notes that she must enjoy life, since everything’s new and amazing to her.

She agrees readily, “Yes! Life really is fun.” She tells him she never dreamed a day like this could happen, which prompts his question of what today is like.

Yeon-jae: “A kind of day where I can forget everything about who I am, and what’s happening.”

Eun-seok’s supervisor advises him persuade Yeon-jae to participate in the trial of a new drug. Thus pressured, Eun-seok starts to call, but chickens out and instead asks a nurse to make the call. He gets a reprieve, though, because the calls go unanswered.

Eun-seok steps in to handle an argument that’s growing heated, and addresses the frantic husband of a cancer patient. His wife’s prescriptions have been cut off, to which Eun-seok tells him coldly that they weren’t forgotten, but discontinued. The drugs haven’t been working, and she’s going to die in days anyway so there’s no use for them.

The husband pleads anyway, if just to appease his wife’s worries, because she’s convinced she’ll die right away without them. Eun-seok replies that she’ll die with them, too. Damn. That’s cold. He softens that a little by adding that it’s the guardian’s role to help the dying patient prepare herself for her passing, but really, this is not his finest moment. Especially when the wife appears behind them, having heard the exchange. She falls in shock. There’s a flicker of apology on Eun-seok’s face, but he says nothing and leaves.

Next, Yeon-jae takes Ji-wook to see a chapel wedding, one of Okinawa’s top attractions. The bride and groom are the couple from the night before, and Yeon-jae sees that silent man outside again, although today he watches with a tearful smile.

After the ceremony, Ji-wook notices the approach of a group of gangsters, led by the pickpocket from the other day. Making a guess as to their business here, Yeon-jae tears off to warn the wallet-rescuer — Murakawa — of the danger. But they’re too late, and the gangsters confront Murakawa and threaten to turn the wedding into a funeral.

Murakawa and Yeon-jae both decide that running away is their best option, even though Ji-wook blankly wonders why. But the other two run anyway, and he follows them, all the while asking, “Why are we running? We’ve done nothing wrong!” My advice: Run now, questions later.

Murakawa jumps into a boat and urges the other two to hurry inside. One gangster jumps onboard with them, but Ji-wook pulls an impressive parry-punch combo and sends him into the water, and they pull away from the dock with just seconds to spare.

Some time later, they dock and make their way through a wooded area, following Murakawa. Ji-wook grumbles that he ought to have followed the other Ms. Lee after all, but he’s not above feeling smug when Yeon-jae compliments him on his awesome punch. Heh.

The trio arrives at a secluded house in a rural area, which turns out to be Murakawa’s hometown. The older man who greets them is a father figure to him and welcomes them in. It’s been 25 years since Murakawa has been home, having had to flee after an accident killed somebody. It hadn’t been his fault, but the yakuza guy had vowed to kill him, so he’d gone to Tokyo, leaving behind a woman named Erika. Yeon-jae guesses that the bride at the chapel was his daughter.

At the hospital, the cancer patient whose meds were discontinued dies of a completely unrelated condition, but the timing makes this coincidence look suspicious. Eun-seok’s superior doctor knows that this could turn into a big problem for the hospital even though he acknowledges that medically, there was no connection to the two events.

However, the distraught husband naturally assumes that one caused the other, and is bound to cause a stink. Furthermore, the supervisor has heard of Eun-seok’s encounter with the husband and warns him that he’s got an attitude problem in dealing with patients.

Eun-seok finds the husband crying in the hallway, who accuses him of killing his wife and lunges for him. Eun-seok shoves him off, and the husband falls to the ground, crying that his wife had had such a strong will to live, but after hearing Eun-seok’s declaration, she’d lost hope and immediately worsened.

Eun-seok fires back — showing some emotion for once — “Does wanting to live make everyone live? Is a strong will the only thing keeping people alive? If that’s true, then there’d be no patients here! Stop clinging to useless thoughts.”

He turns to go, and finds the hallway lined with silent patients and doctors, all staring at him. He feels their condemning eyes on him as he uneasily walks by, more shaken than he’d like to let on.

To their discomfort, Yeon-jae and Ji-wook find themselves sharing one room, with the bedding set out as though for a married couple. The mood is awkward until she laughs it off, likening their situation to a hackneyed plot of one of those ’70s movies where a couple finds themselves stranded after missing the last boat and having to share a room.

She shares the story of how her father had done a similar thing on purpose when he was dating her mother, and that night marked their first kiss. And probably more, since they’ve hinted that she was conceived during that trip. (The mood is light until she says that last tidbit, and Ji-wook excuses himself to get some air. Ha.)

They settle down for the night, and after a while of lying there awake, Yeon-jae turns to look at a sleeping Ji-wook. He turns toward her in sleep, and hesitantly, she turns to face him too, looking intently at his face. Thus she’s caught staring at him when he opens his eyes, which makes her freeze, then turn away cringing.

They take a walk in the early morning, and Ji-wook shares the story of how for a brief time in his childhood, he’d lived in the countryside and walked on a path like this to school every day. He’d reveled in the trip to school, which was rife with interesting things. Aw, it’s sad to think of when he lost that interest in life, and how it came about. And meaningful that he’d share it with her, since she’s one who understands how it feels.

Arriving at a secluded beach as the sun is rising, Yeon-jae marvels in awe — it’s the scene from her dream: “I came on this trip to find this place.”

He watches in amusement as she splashes in the water like a kid, and she asks if he’s ever studied abroad (yes), and if he has an English name (yes). It’s Willy, which gets her excited — perchance short for William?

But no, to her disappointment, it’s not short for anything. Sadly, there’s no real-life stand-in for her dream volleyball-turned-hunk, and she sighs, “That’s too bad.” Ha. I love his puzzled look, because what can he have to say to that?

As they look out at the sea, Yeon-jae tells him she’d traveled frequently in her childhood, because her father enjoyed it. There was nothing better than watching her father fish from a distance, while she napped with Mom’s arm for a pillow.

Ji-wook tells her to bring her parents next time, since they can come using the Line Tours package he’ll put together. She says ruefully that she won’t be able to bring Dad, because he’s passed away, but suggests he bring his parents as the very first guests on his travel package.

Using her words, he says that he won’t be able to bring Mom, because she’s passed away. A moment of mutual understanding flickers between them.

A sudden shower sends them under a tree for shelter, but he suggests they just run through it. Aw, and then he offers her a corny pun-joke of his own, which is an appropriate sort of olive branch given how he’d been so surly when she’d shared her puns earlier. He takes her hand, and they run through the rain like children.

In Seoul, Sae-kyung meets with Ji-wook’s father, Chairman Kang, and both agree not to kick up a fuss over the Wilson issue. Instead, they’ll both turn their attention to the finalization of the MOU between their companies.

She’s surprised to hear of Ji-wook’s trip to Japan, so when she hears that her meeting today has been postponed till next week, Sae-kyung makes the last-minute decision to hop on a plane to Okinawa.

Ji-wook and Yeon-jae come across a beer-drinking contest just as the MC is asking for participants. It’s Ji-wook who raises their hands, ignoring Yeon-jae’s protests, reminding her that she was the one who said he ought to experience things firsthand. Touché, my friend.

Ji-wook, the wuss, can only take a few gulps at a time before gasping for breath, but Yeon-jae’s got a good lead. Ji-wook ditches his beer to take up the role of cheerleader (hee), jumping and exulting when she wins.

The prize is a necklace, which she fumbles with in her tipsy state, and he takes over. There’s a moment of awareness between them as they find their faces inches apart, and she leans in just the teeniest bit…and hiccup-burps. They pull apart, and he forces a burp of his own to ease her embarrassment, which gets them both laughing.

They make it back to the hotel in light spirits, talking about dinner plans. Sae-kyung, waiting in the lobby, looks up at their arrival, her expression darkening as she takes in their camaraderie.

Ji-wook teases Yeon-jae by pretending he’s just spotted their yakuza pursuers, and points off in the distance….

…right at Sae-kyung. Eep.

Sae-kyung approaches wearing a fierce glower, directed particularly at Yeon-jae. She demands, “What are you two doing? Who do you think you are?”


Plot-wise, I don’t think there was much in this episode that was surprising, exciting, or even that eventful. But thanks to the gorgeous locale and the breezy directorial touch, I found it thoroughly enjoyable to watch. This is a drama that lets you breathe, and I like that. It doesn’t hurt that the main couple is showing some adorable chemistry; I like that there’s no huge angst between them, as we see in so many rom-coms where the opposites-attract setup often has them bickering at every turn and denying their attraction.

With Scent of a Woman, I suppose the cancer provides enough angst that we don’t need to pour it into the romantic interactions as well, which is just ducky in my book. I like seeing these two adults go from mild indifference to interest to attraction, without a whole lot of fanfare. I find the Ji-wook character plenty fascinating because of his detachment to life, and find his interest in Yeon-jae entirely believable — she’s not his usual type, but given that he doesn’t really show much interest in women anyway, that’s a good thing.

We’re clearly setting this pair up for an opposing-themes dynamic, where she’s dying and wants to live, while he’s already living a deadened (emotional) existence and learns how to live through her. It’s not as pat as I-feel-only-pain-and-you-don’t-feel-any-pain or I-gave-you-my-eyes-so-you-could-see, but there’s enough of a contrast between their situations to let the themes play out over the course of the drama.


====================================================================================169 July 31, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 4

by javabeans

Okay, THIS is the episode. The one that made me fall for this drama, taking me from pleasant amusement to love. The one that got me excited and giddy and wrung a few tears as well. I loved the carefree, airy tone (and look!) of the Okinawa scenes, but it’s when everyone’s back in Seoul that I’m finally excited about the story.


Scent of a Woman OST – “Bluebird.” What a great song to capture the flavor of this drama. [ Download ]

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In the hotel lobby, Sae-kyung approaches the other two, eyes blazing, bitch dial set to 11.

Ji-wook admonishes Sae-kyung for her rudeness toward a stranger, to which Sae-kyung replies that she’s met Yeon-jae before. And here she was, thinking he was on a business trip, only to find him with one of his female employees — what is she to make of this scene? Sae-kyung refers to the firing; Yeon-jae corrects her, saying she quit. Ji-wook has had no idea who Yeon-jae was all this while, and asks why she pretended not to know who he was.

Sae-kyung takes in Yeon-jae’s fancy clothes and insinuates that she’d obviously followed the company heir here to seduce him, dressing up just for the occasion. Yeon-jae speaks up for herself, countering that they met entirely coincidentally, and that she has no reason to stand here listening to this.

Sae-kyung provides that reason: “I’m the person he’s marrying.” Tellingly, Ji-wook avoids looking at Yeon-jae as he confirms that it’s true.

Sae-kyung notes that Yeon-jae didn’t seem the type to be able to afford a trip like this — perchance she funded it with the stolen ring? That’s too much, and Yeon-jae says in a voice shaking with anger that she paid for it with her own, honestly earned savings. Sae-kyung smirks that it looks like Yeon-jae might slap her again, to which Yeon-jae yells, “You hit me first!”

Ji-wook instructs her to lower her voice, and Yeon-jae says with bitterness, “You must be feeling ashamed because of me. Sorry to cause a disturbance.” With a bow, she wishes him a happy trip and walks off.

Sae-kyung makes a snipe about Ji-wook’s “absurd” choice of traveling partner, and he reminds her of their agreement not to interfere in each other’s personal lives.

Yeon-jae walks along the street in a funk, and answers a phone call from the hospital. It’s Eun-seok’s nurse, asking when she’s going to come in for treatment. Just as she starts to explain that Yeon-jae’s condition is pretty bad, Yeon-jae hangs up on her without a word.

She comes across an older couple tangoing on the beach, watching with teary wistfulness. The man asks Yeon-jae for a dance, and she lets him lead her in a tango, crying into his shoulder as she does.

He doesn’t understand her — he speaks Spanish, she speaks Korean — but he pats her kindly and tells her not to worry. Yeon-jae cries, “I want to live. I want to meet someone and fall in love, and live with him for a long, long time. I want to get old and gray like you…I want to live like that. I want to be by my mother’s side when she dies. I want to marry, and have babies, and live until my child marries…”

Ji-wook is distant throughout dinner — not that he was ever friendly with Sae-kyung, but he’s particularly cool as he tells her he doesn’t want her popping up unannounced like this. Figuring that she didn’t come because she missed him, he asks why she’s here. Sae-kyung bristles at his unfriendliness and goes off in a huff. I believe the term “good riddance” was invented for situations like this.

Yeon-jae gets a call from her fickle mother, who’s in an affectionate mood today and asks her to come home soon. She tells her she will, and leaves the next day.

Ji-wook spends the night and next morning mulling over recent events. The concierge stops him to say that the woman he was with left behind something in her room, and asks if he can give it to her once he’s back in Seoul. It’s the necklace she won in the beer drinking contest, and Ji-wook replies that he won’t have cause to meet her again. The employee says he’ll handle it then, but Ji-wook reconsiders.

Yeon-jae comes home to dirty dishes and an excitable mother, who looks through her luggage eagerly for gifts. Already in a sour mood, Yeon-jae vents her frustration by telling her mother to clean up after herself.

The words are annoyed but they’re rooted in care; she asks, “How are you going to live without me?!” When Mom sees her new expensive clothes and wonders how she bought it, Yeon-jae snaps that she used the money she earned — is it a rule that she can only wear cheap things?

In a presentation about upcoming travel products, one annoyed executive makes the pointed comment that Ji-wook’s subordinate, Sang-woo, seems to have done all the work and asks what Ji-wook did on his so-called business trip to Okinawa.

Ji-wook replies, “I played.” Hackles rise and frowns emerge, until he adds — using Yeon-jae’s argument — that if he’s supposed to create a package that people will enjoy, he ought to test it out to see if it’s indeed enjoyable. Dad smiles, relieved and impressed at the answer.

Ji-wook’s bored and distracted at work as he contemplates the necklace, which he ended up taking after all, and looks up Yeon-jae’s resumé in the employee database.

He calls her for a meeting, and she arrives at the cafe eyeing him warily. He gives her the necklace, which she says was hardly necessary for him to return, as it isn’t very expensive. He notes the difference in her attitude and style, and she tells him that this is how she really is. Without elaborating, she says merely that she had a reason for the fancy clothing and top resort in Okinawa.

Ji-wook supposes that she’d assumed the Okinawa version of her would appeal to his tastes, and wonders how she found out where he was staying. Did she hire the yakuza so they’d get thrown together? And that ring — why’d she take it?

Wow. Just, wow. He says this all in a non-accusatory way, but it’s almost worse that he’s just accepted it all as truth, without even considering that there could be an alternative explanation.

Yeon-jae feels the indignity and replies, fighting tears, that contrary to all the snooty beliefs of his chaebol set, she hasn’t actually lived such a deprived existence that she’d need to steal, you know. And what does he want her to say, when clearly he won’t believe it if she says she didn’t do it? It would be stupid of her to steal the ring when it would get her fired, and Line Tours was actually a job she really valued. “As for running into me in Japan, why don’t you take it up with the Guy Upstairs? Because I can’t believe in such coincidences, myself.”

With that, she gets up and leaves, and I applaud. I love that she stands up for herself, but doesn’t do it in a defensive, outraged way. She lays out her view and leaves it to him to have faith or not, which frankly is gonna make him feel even more the ass later on.

Just a few steps out of the cafe, Yeon-jae starts to feel pain in her abdomen and slumps over on the street. Ji-wook finds her and asks what’s wrong. She tells him not to involve himself and starts to walk away, but stumbles again.

He ends up driving her to the hospital and stays with her while she’s admitted, until Eun-seok arrives.

Eun-seok, meanwhile, has been dealing with the fallout of his cancer patient death, and tries not to show that he cares when other doctors smirk that all his patients have jumped ship to them. He rushes to Yeon-jae’s bedside when he hears of her admittance and asks if Ji-wook is her guarantor.

Yeon-jae’s huddled over and panting in pain, but she musters enough energy to say, “No, he’s not. He’s not anybody.” Words that shouldn’t sting, but do. She tells Ji-wook to go away, with enough force that he feels miffed and complies.

Eun-seok quickly jumps into action to transfer her to the oncology ward, but Yeon-jae grabs his arm and says pleadingly, “Eun-seok-ah. I’m scared. I don’t want to die like this.” He tells her firmly that he’d given her six months: “Before then, you won’t die.” The words carry the connotation, “I won’t let you.”

She undergoes tests, and Eun-seok worries that perhaps the cancer has spread from her gallbladder and liver to her large intestine. The results make his expression darken, and he goes to Yeon-jae with a grim face.

She asks hesitantly if it’s that bad, but actually it’s the opposite of that. She’s constipated. HA! (Gives me Dal Ja’s Spring flashbacks, hee.) The girl in the bed next to her bursts out laughing, and Yeon-jae just about dies of mortification. At least until the girl reminds her that embarrassment never killed anybody.

Yeon-jae advises the makeup-crazed girl to ease up on the cosmetics, since overdoing it now will make her age like crazy in ten years. The girl cheerily replies, “I won’t live that long.” She giddily shares the two things she’s going to do when she gets out of the hospital this time: eat ddukbokki, and sleep with a man.

It’s a sobering thing to hear a 21-year-old speak so matter-of-factly about her impending death, but it seems to give Yeon-jae a lift in spirits as well. Stepping outside for some air, she tells herself reassuringly, “Yeon-jae, you’re not dead yet.”

As she’s leaving the hospital, she runs into Eun-seok, who asks her if she’s feeling better and whether she’ll be starting her cancer treatments. His attitude is softer now, and she nods agreement.

Still embarrassed, she excuses herself, but turns back at the last minute and calls his name. She thanks him and gives him a wave, which makes him smile back at her.

Yeon-jae’s feeling much lighter and optimistic on her way back, and visits her mother at her friend’s store to take her for a special mother-daughter spa day.

Mom balks at the extravagance, but Yeon-jae tells her that all her friends have experienced the spa, and from now on, she wants Mom to enjoy the things other people enjoy.

Sae-kyung’s assistant reports to her regarding a lawsuit for damages. Hey, it’s City Hunter’s McCreepy! I guess I’m gonna have to find a new nickname for him, since he’s not lurking or killing anymore.

She’s intent on suing for damages for the Wilson case (the debacle resulted in him canceling his concert), and she tells Ex-Creepy to go for the largest amount in compensation they can demand: 300 million won (about $250K). Ex-Creepy asks why she’s changed her mind when she was previously content to let it go, and Sae-kyung bites out that “that woman” has pissed her off.

Ji-wook finds himself preoccupied with thoughts of Yeon-jae. He’s annoyed that he bothered with the necklace in the first place, then worried about her health, then annoyed that he’s worried. Ha.

He arrives in Yeon-jae’s old department to invite the group out to dinner, declining a dinner invitation from Sae-kyung along the way. When she tells him to cancel with the officemates, he points out, “This is the prior engagement” and tells her no.

Yeon-jae’s friend Hye-won has been transferred to this department after Yeon-jae quit, and she’s curious whether Ji-wook and Yeon-jae met in Okinawa and asks how his trip went. He calls it a “turbulent” trip, then asks about Yeon-jae, wondering what kind of person she is. Oh, I love that you went to such elaborate extremes to find out info on her. And it’s not just to ask about her, but also to cover up the fact that he’s asking about her.

Manager Noh proceeds to insult Yeon-jae as incompetent and useless. His account of her doesn’t quite mesh with Ji-wook’s, but he takes this in silently.

Yeon-jae and Mom come home from the spa in high spirits, such that not even their cranky landlord can kill the mood. Yeon-jae tells her mother that she’s going to take some time off for herself — she’ll use it to do all the things she’d been too busy working to do, including talking more with Mom.

With that settled, Yeon-jae gets out her bankbooks, setting aside her savings and retirement accounts for Mom. That gives her one personal account to use for herself. The Okinawa trip made a dent in that, but she still has approximately $24K and figures, “I’ll be rich until I die.”

Taking out out a notebook, she starts compiling her “bucket list” of the 20 things she wants to do before she dies.

  • 1. Make Mom laugh once every day.
  • 2. Take revenge against the people who tormented me.
  • 3. Learn to tango.
  • 4. Don’t hold back on the things I want to have, eat, or wear.
  • 5. Try on a wedding dress.

Skipping forward through some that we don’t get to see right now, we land on her last couple of items:

  • 19. Do all these things with someone I love.
  • 20. And, lastly, to close my eyes in the arms of the one I love.

Oh, man. There’s this split-second between reading “close my eyes” and realizing she means “close my eyes forever” that makes my heart lurch. This ending of this drama’s going to be a doozy, isn’t it? I can feel the tears welling already…

While Ji-wook showers, he hears Yeon-jae’s voice whispering something — it’s the punchline to the rain joke he’d said in Okinawa, and the shower spray reminds him of their run through the sunshower. (The corny pun: What’s the name of the skinniest person in Japan? Bisayiro makka. The answer sounds Japanese, but in Korean it means Run Between Raindrops.)

Ji-wook looks around, confused and alarmed to be suddenly hearing things. Ha! (Also: Best narrative use of a gratuitous shower scene, which I suppose makes it not-so-gratuitous after all. Hey, I’ll take it either way.)

(You’re welcome.)

Yeon-jae gets a haircut and upgrades her flip phone for a smart one, wondering why she’d stuck with her old thing for so long. The hateful Manager Noh’s number is the first to get deleted.

Hye-won calls, however, bringing Yeon-jae back to her old office. She hasn’t been told why, and Manager Noh jumps right to the point by telling her that their project to open a scenic rural road as part of their travel package has run into a problem, with one of the locals now refusing to allow the road after all. He’s a cranky old man who doesn’t get along with anybody but Yeon-jae, so now she’s been called back to lend a hand.

Manager Noh doesn’t help things any by assuming she’s the same old pushover as always, ordering her to do it like she still works for him. Yeon-jae doesn’t see why this is her problem, so he says dismissively that he’ll pay.

Yeon-jae refuses, saying that she won’t do it for a hundred bucks or two, or even a thousand — although she might consider it if he got on his knees and apologized. Telling him she’s a very busy person with no time to waste, she turns to go. And stops short to come face to face with Ji-wook, standing there at the entrance.

Without acknowledging his presence, she pushes past him and leaves. He catches up to her and insinuates that she’s pretty mercenary after all, demanding money like that. His irritation (with himself, I suspect) pushes him to take a shot at her trip to the hair salon — so her valuable time is spent on her hair?

Yeon-jae tells him that there’s nothing wrong with her getting a haircut, and anyway, “To me, that’s much more important.”

Getting into the elevator, she leaves him with this lovely parting shot: “I was clear that the apology was more important than money. You must be slow on the uptake.” Hee! I don’t actually think Ji-wook’s an ass, but I do enjoy how she calls him out on his crap and treats him with cool indifference. It’s her reaction that fuels his and makes him even more preoccupied with her, which in turn tickles my fancy.

Manager Noh is left sputtering at the change in Yeon-jae’s behavior, and when Ji-wook comes back to face him, he’s in a bad mood as well. He points out that the employee Manager Noh had derided as useless is the one they’re appealing to now to fix their situation, and demands a portfolio on this scenic road project. He flips through the pages, his attention caught on one photo in particular, which he recognizes — a large tree in a field.

The engaged couple have dinner with their fathers, who chuckle indulgently over their kids and are oblivious to the tensions between them. Sae-kyung’s father asks about her trip to Okinawa, so she answers, “He was working so hard when I appeared out of the blue.” Ji-wook replies tightly that Sae-kyung has “a gift for surprising people.”

Sae-kyung breaks the news to Chairman Kang that she won’t be able to let go of the Wilson matter after all. But she won’t be suing company to company, but rather an individual. The implication is not lost on Ji-wook, and he fumes as she drags him shopping after dinner.

He demands, “Do you think you’re the only one annoyed with this marriage? If you’re going to be like this, best you call it quits. I don’t like you much either.” He storms out.

Yeon-jae arrives at a dance studio, ready to start learning how to tango. She watches as a couple dances to a rapt audience, with bystanders marveling over the male partner “Ramses,” wishing he’d dance with them but knowing that he’s very select about his partners.

The dance ends, and Yeon-jae squints as she looks closer at Ramses…and recognizes…coin-collecting Bong-gil?

He wears a wig and an entirely different, much more confident persona while he’s dancing, and commands the admiration of many of the women here. The moment he sees Yeon-jae he cringes and the timid, dorky persona comes back, and he asks her not to tell anybody of his dancing, because they might think he’s a pervert. Hehe.

Ji-wook hears from Sang-woo that Sae-kyung’s lawsuit will demand damages of 300 million won. They muse that it’s unusual to sue only an individual, not the company. It smacks of spite, is what it does, and Ji-wook wonders if he ought to tell Yeon-jae, annoyed with himself for even caring so much.

Deciding he needs Yeon-jae to smooth over this project, Manager Noh calls and offers her even more money. She gets up right away, but he holds her back and tries to negotiate with her. She thinks to her bucket list item regarding revenge, and decides that okay, she can find something in this scenario to salvage. She tells him to apologize.

Meanwhile, Ji-wook heads out to the scenic path to try to handle the situation himself, and sees the tree from the project portfolio. That brings up old memories, and he imagines a mother-and-son pair — it’s him and his dead mom — burying a time capsule at the base of the tree to open in ten years.

But it turns out the image is a mirage, tree and all.

Ji-wook introduces himself to the crotchety man in question, but the old man refuses to talk to anybody other than Curly Hair. Ji-wook understands that he means Yeon-jae, and asks him to explain why it has to be her.

Yeon-jae comes back to the Line Tour office with Manager Noh, having come to an agreement. She sits in his chair and tells him to begin.

With a grimace and a whine, he turns his back and grabs his ears, then commences butt-writing. HA! The great thing about “writing” out letters with one’s butt is that aside from the humiliation factor, the words are somewhat readable, and the employees make out his message: “Lee…Yeon…jae…sshi…”

The apology session is interrupted by the arrival of Ji-wook, who explains that he’s just come back from meeting with the old man.

Immediately Manager Noh orders Yeon-jae to leave. If the boss took care of the problem, then there’s no reason to be nice to her anymore, and he takes it one step further by telling her to stop loitering around the office — as if she’s the one who keeps coming back. He laughs to Ji-wook that Yeon-jae came in all hoity-toity, offering to fix the tourist road issue while making stupid demands of him.

Protesting won’t help her any, and Yeon-jae sits there feeling unjustly attacked. At least until Ji-wook tells Manager Noh, “But what can we do? Those stupid demands Lee Yeon-jae made — it looks like you’ll have to do them. Go ahead.”


The first three episodes set up the characters and relationships with a leisurely calm, but with Episode 4 the conflicts got kicked into gear, with Ji-wook unable to deny his curiosity about Yeon-jae and Sae-kyung going off her rocker with her possessive, pissy attitude and that petty lawsuit.

Speaking of which: Wilson’s got to make a comeback, no? I expected him to return right away, but I can see a man of his inflated pride finding it difficult to offer a mea culpa. I fully expect him to come back to clear up the misunderstanding, which does sap some conflict out of the lawsuit plotline. However, since it’s a plotline I sort of hate to see — it’s effective, but it’s bound to bring Yeon-jae such grief — I’m happy to watch Sae-kyung being hateful and snide, because I have total confidence that she’s gonna get her ass served to her on a platter. Eventually.

I really, really hope Eom Ki-joon is able to resolve his pending issues, because I completely love his character. If he were merely cold and unfeeling, I’d chalk it up to a familiar cliché, but Eun-seok shows these tantalizing glimpses of vulnerability, and I find that immensely compelling. It’s not that familiar setup where the guy’s an ass just because some old trauma made him an ass — he’s pretending to be an ass to cover up the fact that he’s sensitive and afraid, and overcompensating by acting like he doesn’t care is the only way he knows how to deal with it.

(For the record, nobody’s arguing that drunk driving is to be condoned — clearly he should face the consequences of his actions, which were stupid and unnecessary, and his consequences should be in keeping with the law. I just don’t assume that a DUI and immediate dismissal from a role necessarily go hand in hand.)

Also, the preview for Episode 5 made me squeal out loud:

[SPOILER ALERT!] Yeon-jae goes to a fanmeeting with Eun-seok, who’s called out during a question and answer session with the comment, “Apparently after 25 years, you met your first love at the hospital…” Eeeeee!


====================================================================================202 August 6, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 5

by javabeans

Cute, cute. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, helped in large part by Lee Dong-wook’s hundred and one facial expressions. Exasperation, pride, confusion, irritation, smugness, satisfaction, and yes, even jealousy — he nails ’em all.


Junsu – “You Are So Beautiful” from the Scent of a Woman OST [ Download ]

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Having interrupted the butt-writing session, Ji-wook announces that cranky old Grandpa Sohn refuses to talk to anybody but Yeon-jae. Therefore, Manager Noh must continue with his apology.

Yeon-jae runs into Ji-wook at the elevator and asks why he stuck up for her. He answers that Grandpa Sohn values her loyalty, citing the time Manager Noh took a bribe to switch a service and Yeon-jae fought him, risking her job to stick with Grandpa Sohn. Now Grandpa thinks that Yeon-jae was fired by Manager Noh, and is even less willing to work with the company than before.

Ji-wook tells her not to take his support too much to heart, because he didn’t mean anything special by it; he just considered her the more useful side in this instance.

He asks for the reason behind the butt-writing exercise, and Yeon-jae answers that it was her revenge. Manager Noh hadn’t treated her like a human once in the past ten years, and she’d been too afraid of being fired to speak up. Ji-wook says that it’s pretty weak, as far as revenges go — butt-writing is embarrassing, sure, but it’s something all kids have done at one point — but Yeon-jae replies that it’s not like she could call him an asshole or hit him. Jerk or not, Manager Noh is much older, and she can’t disrespect an elder.

The younger ladies at the office are left wondering why Ji-wook took Yeon-jae’s side, figuring that he must have only done so because it’s related to the MOU with Sae-kyung’s family’s Seojin Group. Hye-won, on the other hand, mutters that there’s gotta be something between the two, since she knows they met in Okinawa.

Ji-wook drives Yeon-jae to Grandpa Sohn’s house so she can persuade him to cooperate. She wonders why Ji-wook is tackling this with such alacrity when he’d been so indifferent in Japan, and sighs that it’s a shame that some people get to inherit companies from their fathers, while talented and hardworking folk are left out in the cold. Ji-wook retorts that she must mean herself, and she replies, “Isn’t that why I’ve been called here to fix this problem?” Ha. Touché.

Ji-wook waits in the car while Yeon-jae meets with Grandpa Sohn, who greets her with a smile and gets all offended on her behalf for being ousted by Manager Noh. She assures him that she quit of her own accord, and that she merely found something more important to do with her time.

Ji-wook gets tired of waiting and heads inside to look for them, arriving outside the door to hear Yeon-jae whispering, “I’m scared.” Curious, he peers in to see Yeon-jae lying on the ground and Grandpa hovering over her.

Immediately his mind goes to the dirty place, and he bursts in angrily and grabs her, missing the fact that she’s got acupuncture needles sticking out of her face. She’s completely confused, not following as he accuses her of falling back on such base “skills”: “Were you this kind of woman?!”

He yells that he doesn’t care what happens to this case and demands she leave. Oh man, I am so embarrassed for you dude, and yet I also love this because it’s so revealing.

When Ji-wook finally registers the needles, he shuts his trap and takes in the scene and the horrified faces all around. Next thing we know, he’s kneeling his apologies to an offended Grandpa Sohn while Yeon-jae explains that he’s quite the renowned acupuncturist. Grandpa orders him out, so angry he’s almost about to change his mind about cooperating after all.

As they leave, Ji-wook offers Yeon-jae compensation for this job. It seems like she might not take the money (the implication is that he can just throw money at things to fix them), but she accepts, figuring she earned it. She gasps at the zeroes on the note — it’s the equivalent of a thousand-dollar bill — and marvels that there are real people who carry bills of this size in their wallets on a daily basis.

Ji-wook puffs up at that, pleased to be considered one of those special people. She muses, “Well, people who earn money easily spend it easily,” and he readily agrees — it’s not until a split-second later that he registers that it’s not a compliment. Hee! I love how she cuts him down to size so effectively; whenever he throws his weight around like he’s some big important person, she cuts to the chase and calls him out for benefiting from his privilege, which he didn’t earn.

On the drive back, he offers her to drop her off in her approximate vicinity, and she points out that he has this habit of doing everything “approximately.” Why not take her where she’s going, since they’re already on the way? (The Korean word she uses is daechoong, which means to do things roughly, stopping at good enough. The word connotes a lazy disinterest, which describes Ji-wook’s half-assedness perfectly.)

Ji-wook asks if she’s looking for a new job, surprised when she says no. He asks why not, and she replies, “Because I don’t want to work.” He can’t make heads or tails of her behavior, and asks, “Do you know that you become even more confounding the more I get to know you?”

She answers, “Sitting in front of a 120 centimeter desk in the Line Tour office — I didn’t want to end my life that way. That makes me too pitiful.” She says this in such a matter-of-fact voice that he naturally assumes she’s speaking in hyperbole.

Remembering Sae-kyung’s intended lawsuit of 300 million won, Ji-wook starts to broach the topic, but doesn’t get a chance. She indicates her drop-off point and gets out; hilariously, Ji-wook cranes his neck so far while watching her walk away that he hits the horn unwittingly.

Just then, an unfamiliar ringtone sounds, and he finds Yeon-jae’s cell phone in his car. Ooh, an excuse to follow. That takes him to the tango studio looking for her, where he finds her dolled up and ready for her lesson.

After returning the phone, he returns to his car contemplating this new bit of information, which just confuses him further about Yeon-jae. He wonders, “Tango?!”

In the studio, the students introduce themselves as the class begins, and everyone takes on nicknames rather than their real names. For instance, the round-faced man calls himself “Sculpted Beauty” (the kind of thing we call guys with angular faces, like Lee Dong-wook), while a cute couple calls themself Andal and Bokdal, which is like splitting the word fussbudget into two names. Yeon-jae calls herself Audrey. Teaching this beginner class is Ramses, aka coin-collecting Bong-gil.

Ji-wook returns home to find Sae-kyung at his front door with a bottle of wine. She calls this a gesture of apology for her previous behavior, and he asks about her lawsuit, saying that going after an individual is excessive. Sae-kyung smirks, saying that it’s out of her hands already.

The next morning in the building lobby, Manager Noh asks how it went with Grandpa Sohn, still smarting from his humiliating part in the matter. Ji-wook gives him a satisfying smackdown, saying that it was difficult, thanks to Manager Noh. In fact, they wouldn’t have needed Yeon-jae at all, “If only you hadn’t taken that bribe six years ago.”

Manager Noh sputters that he returned that money right away. Ji-wook replies, “Write your resignation immediately and report to my office… is something I won’t ask of you, because of that.”

Sang-woo reports on one of their new projects, which is unfamiliar to Ji-wook. Sang-woo reminds him that he’d told him to “just take care of it, whatever.” It’s that cursed word again — daechoong — and Ji-wook sits up straighter, instructing Sang-woo to bring him those materials: “From today, I’m not going to work in a daechoong way.”

In the travel package materials, he finds a photo that he recognizes from his travels with Yeon-jae, and that makes him smile. Taking his first active interest in a project, he suggests including the squid-ink yakisoba he’d eaten with Yeon-jae in the travel package.

Sang-woo reports these changes in Ji-wook’s attitude to Chairman Kang, who figures that his son’s upcoming engagement has knocked some sense into him. He chuckles at how women can influence men, pleased that Ji-wook has met a good match. Well, Dad’s not wrong… Just off.

During a meeting, Ji-wook doodles (“300 million…Ms. Lee”) while the company’s president discusses the joint venture with Seojin Group. He’s already got a prickly attitude toward Ji-wook, so he jumps to conclusions when Ji-wook mumbles aloud, assuming he’s opposing him.

Manager Noh is the president’s sycophantic lackey, and he is quick to profess his support of the president and disdain for Ji-wook. Unaware of this, Ji-wook cuts into their conversation after the meeting to ask whether Yeon-jae would ever have cause to come back to work. Manager Noh assures him that she wouldn’t — a prospect that has him uncharacteristically displeased.

Yeon-jae chats with Hye-won, who asks about the Okinawa trip and digs for details. Like…did they sleep together? Yeon-jae answers that they slept in the same room — but it’s nothing to get excited about, since nothing happened.

Hye-won gushes about this drama-like scenario of the old maid and the chaebol, but Yeon-jae shuts her down by saying that he’s got a fiancee. Oh, right. Her.

And yet, Ji-wook finds himself lurking outside the dance studio again. He calls himself crazy, which another dancer overhears. Assuming he’s embarrassed about wanting to learn how to dance, she assures him that everyone feels that way at the start, and pushes him inside. Hee.

Surprised, Yeon-jae wonders what he’s doing here. Surely…not to see her, right? He blusters, Of course not, but that leaves the question: Then, is he here to tango?

Thus Ji-wook finds himself participating, reluctantly, and muddles through without much enthusiasm or interest. Yet he can’t stop watching Yeon-jae through narrowed eyes as Ramses leads the class in a partner exercise. This requires the ladies to put their hands on their partners’ chests and follow their lead.

After one turn, the partners are switched and Ji-wook is paired with Yeon-jae. Despite informing Ramses earlier that he has no interest in learning to dance, when Yeon-jae asks suspiciously why he’s here, he lies that he’s got quite a lot of interest in tango. He affects indifference, but when time comes for her to place her hands on his chest, both become aware of his pounding heart.

She’s just affected by the contact as he is, and silently, he leads her across the dance floor while she silently follows his lead. Like that they walk, all the way to the mirrored wall, staring intently at each other all the while.

He continues to step forward even after she’s come to a stop, bringing them even closer together, until Ramses breaks into their reverie. The looks in their eyes — ack, it kills me.

Both of them deal with their startling emotions on their way home. Ji-wook’s got an added complication to worry about, as he reminds himself, “Three hundred million.” It’s not necessarily his problem, but he feels guilty for knowing, but unsure if he has any business getting involved. He sure as heck doesn’t want to get involved — keeping the world at a distance seems to be his prevailing life motto — but he’s conflicted about this.

Yeon-jae sends Mom on a four-day vacation, partly to fulfill the bucket list item to make Mom smile daily, but also to keep her busy while Yeon-jae goes in for cancer treatment.

Eun-seok asks if she’s decided whether to participate in the clinical trial, and she admits that she’s scared. Eun-seok tells her that her outcome is staring her in the face, so she ought to try to find ways to avoid it rather than heading straight for it. He adds, “I don’t remember you being the fearful type. You were always curious and said what was on your mind, and were full of confidence.”

Yeon-jae smiles at this sign that he does remember her. She tells him she used to be like that, but she’s changed. Still, she figures that he won’t lead her into a worse path than one she’s already facing, and agrees to the test. With that, she’s reinstalled in the bed next to the 21-year-old cancer patient, who teaches her how to use her smartphone…to follow Junsu online. HA! (That’s Junsu the JYJ idol star, formerly of DBSK.)

Finding out that Junsu is holding a fanmeeting, Yeon-jae wants to apply. Her roommate tries to convince her not to, like a teenager embarrassed by her uncool Mom, but ends up helping her think of ways to apply that will improve her chances of being selected.

Ji-wook arrives home and flips through his closet for a change of clothes, stopped at the sight of the shirt he was wearing when he danced with Yeon-jae. Man, if your plain ol’ button-down is conjuring up emotional flashbacks, maybe it’s time to admit that there’s more to this fixation, hmm? He arrives at tango class, but Yeon-jae’s not there. After sitting on the sidelines in agitation, he leaves.

Ji-wook then calls Yeon-jae, having thought of a way to save face: He wants her to tell the instructor that he can’t make it to tango class today. That gives him a chance to ask for the reason when Yeon-jae tells him she can’t go, either. She’s vague about the reason, but confirms that she’ll attend the next class…just as Ramses calls out to him in the background. HA! Cover blown.

Per her roommie’s advice, Yeon-jae applies under various people’s names to inflate her chances of being accepted to the fanmeeting. Just as she’s musing that she’s run out of people, Eun-seok walks in to check on her status…giving her An Idea.

Yeon-jae asks to speak with Eun-seok, saying that she feels better than she thought she would after her treatment. She explains that her father had suffered through chemo, which was so hard on him that he’d wanted to quit and spend his remaining days at home with his family. Yeon-jae was the one to oppose it, so he continued with treatment and ended up dying in the hospital. Over the years, she’s come to regret her decision.

But she tells Eun-seok that she feels relieved to have him here with her. He reminds her that she told him he had no right to be a doctor, and she says that was just angry talk.

Just then, they’re hit with a bucketful of water, thrown by the husband of the dead cancer patient. Eun-seok declares that the death had nothing to do with him, but the husband is too furious to believe differently and scorns Eun-seok and his lack of guilty conscience.

Eon-seok apologizes to Yeon-jae for getting her involved, only betraying his frustration when he’s in private. By the time he sees Yeon-jae again, he’s in a better mood and tells her he’s not staying in this hospital for long, since he’s transferring to a cancer hospital in Texas.

Unfortunately, those plans are short-lived. The cancer patient kerfuffle has changed his prospects, and the hospital decides to send someone else instead. He’s devastated.

Yeon-jae prepares to check out of the hospital when she receives the call that she’s been accepted to the fanmeeting. Or rather, Chae Eun-seok has. Yay! And also, uh-oh.

The fanmeeting will be checking IDs, so Yeon-jae has to ask Eun-seok to take her — at least past the doors, at which point he can ditch her. He finds the request preposterous, arguing that time is precious to her — she should spend it doing more meaningful things. He reaction is harsh, almost derisive of her choice.

She balks at that — what, exactly, would he suggest she do? Invent something? Climb Mt. Everest? “All these years, I’ve been so busy saving up money and being aware of people’s eyes that I haven’t done anything. Doing all those things before I die is the most meaningful thing I could do!”

Then she plays her final card, and reminds him that she got hit by water thanks to him. Checkmate.

That does it. Off they go to join the teenagers to meet Junsu, hee.

Ji-wook is also at the fanmeeting, having escorted a Japanese businessman here. He takes a seat in the audience and watches indifferently as the show gets under way, in contrast to Yeon-jae, who’s enjoying herself. Eun-seok isn’t terribly thrilled to be here, but even he has to smile at Yeon-jae’s enthusiasm.

After the performance, Junsu announces the one fan who will get to have dinner with him. Or rather, fans — it’s a couple. With that, he calls out, “Chae Eun-seok-sshi!”

Yeon-jae prods Eun-seok to respond to the call, so he reluctantly raises a hand, bringing the spotlight over to illuminate them. Junsu proceeds to read Eun-seok’s supposed story, to Yeon-jae’s alarm.

It goes thusly: “I first met her when I was nine years old. In the twenty-five years that passed since then, I’ve loved her unrequitedly.” (Yeon-jae shakes her head in horror, but Junsu continues.) “But we never met during that time. However, not long ago she came to the hospital where I work. She is sick. That woman is a devoted fan of you, Junsu-sshi. For her sake, will you have dinner with her?”

As everyone cheers and urges the couple to stand, Ji-wook looks back casually…and recognizes Yeon-jae.

Eun-seok stands to answer Junsu’s questions. When Junsu asks if she’s very sick, he says that a doctor can’t reveal his patient’s case, which earns him everyone’s favor. Everyone but Ji-wook, who clenches his jaw and scowls. His temper rises another notch when Eun-seok excuses himself from the dinner, saying that Yeon-jae will enjoy having dinner with Junsu alone, and everyone oohs at how cool he is.

After the show, Ji-wook spots the lucky couple in the lobby and watches from a distance as Yeon-jae thanks Eun-seok for playing along. When Eun-seok mentions the story she submitted, she apologizes, saying she had no idea it would be read aloud. He’s hesitant as he tries to fish for information, asking how she came by that story, which means — AHHH it’s true! He’s totally scared she caught on to his secret! Eeeeeeeeee!

Yeon-jae doesn’t catch on to his nervousness and waves it off as an invention — she was advised to make the stories attention-grabbing. Eun-seok visibly relaxes in relief, and she figures that most of it was true — everything except for the one-sided love thing, right? He agrees awkwardly. Hee!

After Eun-seok leaves, Ji-wook comes strolling up, eyeing Yeon-jae with a “Aha! Gotcha!” expression of smug satisfaction. He assumes she made up everything, and mocks her for skipping out on dance class for this. But Yeon-jae, with her unerring skill to turn the tables on him, points out, “Ahhhh, so you did go to tango class that day.” Busted! She adds, “Well, you do need the practice, after all. You don’t have the talent for it.”

She skips off with a giggle, and he has to smile.

At dinner, Yeon-jae hardly touches her food, but assures Junsu it’s because she’s enjoying herself. He asks what she likes about him so much: “My statue-like good looks? Or my melodious voice? Or my perky butt?” HAHA.

He makes her laugh, and Yeon-jae says that he’s the coolest when he’s singing. He asks to see her cell phone, using it to record an impromptu rendition of “You Are So Beautiful,” the song posted above from the OST.

Yeon-jae looks happily at her autographed photo with Junsu on the bus ride home, storing it in her bucket list notebook. She flips to item #6, since she can now mark it completed: “Go on a date with Junsu!”

Mom’s back from her luxurious stay at a 5-star hotel, and mother and daughter settle down for a night of trading stories. But then, Mom flips through the mail and finds an envelope from the District Court, and opens it to see notice of the 300 million won lawsuit. Yeon-jae is puzzled until she reads the name of the plaintiff. Im Sae-kyung.


Two things made this episode particularly enjoyable for me: Lee Dong-wook and Eom Ki-joon. I love Ji-wook’s ill-concealed interest, jealousy, and conflict with his own attraction to Yeon-jae, refusing to acknowledge it for what it is even though it’s the most obvious thing ever. Dude, you’re following her to dance class and caressing the shirt she touched. You can get a clue now.

I know that Yeon-jae is likewise attracted to Ji-wook, and she’s never had a reason to deny that she could be interested in him. (And she has no reason to deny it, since she has nothing to lose, unlike Ji-wook and his ingrained sense of social class.) However, she has dropped Ji-wook into the mental category of “Unattainable” (also “Engaged” and “Out of My League”), so she harbors no fantasies about being with him. Therefore, when they’re together, she treats him like any other person, not trying to flirt or seduce him or convince him she’s worth his affections. And it’s such a joy to watch him go nuts at her indifference, trying to get her attention back on him yet maintaining his dignity at the same time. It’s a losing battle, but who knew it would be so much fun watching him lose it?

I was disappointed to realize that the fanmeeting story was Yeon-jae’s fabrication, because I’d been so excited when last week’s preview tipped us off to that detail. Until I saw Eun-seok’s fear that Yeon-jae might have magically stumbled onto his carefully guarded secret and realized that the story is totally true. It has to be. It’s adorable and endearing, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Sae-kyung meanwhile…Mrrph, she can go jump off a bridge. (I love Seo Hyo-rim and think she’s doing a great job, but Sae-kyung’s such a buzzkill.) That stupid lawsuit better not take up too much of our precious screentime. We need as much of that as possible devoted to the three characters we actually care about, right?


====================================================================================306 August 7, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 6

by girlfriday

Yay, so cute! Now the race between the two boys finally begins, and one makes more strides than expected, while the other crashes and burns. There’s cuteness, aggravation, and dancing, but the real adventure involves a dog and a quick getaway. I wonder if the Dog Days are really coming to an end, or if they’re just beginning…


Yeon-jae opens the letter from the court and finds that Sae-kyung is suing her for a cool 300 million won. She tamps down her shock to keep Mom from freaking out, and assures her that this is some kind of mistake, and promises to clear it up soon.

But once alone, it sinks in how much this situation has blown up, and right in her face no less. She heads over to Sae-kyung’s office the next day (I love how direct and confrontational the new Yeon-jae is.) but she finds that Sae-kyung is busy with the new merger presentation.

The two families have gathered for the big event, the two fathers proud and happy, and Sae-kyung’s older brother who seems to enjoy being bristly and sarcastic. Ji-wook and Sae-kyung make their presentation in front of all the employees and board members, as Yeon-jae shows up in the back of the room.

They introduce Sae-kyung’s father, who announces that this is an extra happy day for both companies, and then announces his daughter’s engagement to Ji-wook. Uh… surprise?

No one’s more shocked than Ji-wook, who clearly wasn’t warned that this was going down, while Sae-kyung smiles and all the women in the room sigh the big another-chaebol-lost sigh.

Poor Yeon-jae. As if the lawsuit isn’t bad enough, she walks in to hear Ji-wook’s engagement to the bitch?

Sae-kyung makes her rounds in the room and discovers Yeon-jae. She walks right up with a smug look, and comments that this isn’t the sort of place for “people like you.” Yeon-jae counters, “Then shall we go someplace that isn’t here?” Ooooh, let’s take it outside?

Yeon-jae starts by being civil and asking her to drop the suit, but Sae-kyung just lays on all the damages suffered on her end. She has no qualms about admitting that this is simply a power play, brought about because Yeon-jae refuses to treat her like she’s supposed to – like she’s better than.

This time can there be kicking?

Sae-kyung says that she’s totally willing to drop the lawsuit if Yeon-jae apologizes… on her knees. Yeon-jae: “What to do? My knees aren’t attached for me to kneel in front of things like you.”

That just makes both women dig their heels in deeper, as Sae-kyung promises to make her pay and Yeon-jae promises to win and show the world what she’s really like. Then for some reason, the entire party of important people shows up right at the tail end of their conversation, and Yeon-jae gets dismissed as a disgruntled former employee, and the fathers request her to be ousted at once.

Ji-wook steps in to say that it doesn’t seem necessary since the conversation seems over, and turns everyone’s attention away. Sae-kyung agrees that this is supposed to be a happy day, and walks off with Ji-wook and the rest of the party.

Yeon-jae stands there, completely cut down to size, and having to watch Ji-wook turn and walk away from her with Sae-kyung at his side. Ugh, would it have killed him to not walk away with her?

Sae-kyung’s father buys his son-in-law-to-be a new suit, while her brother remarks that Ji-wook didn’t seem very pleased with the engagement being announced. Sae-kyung covers up by saying that on a day like this the families should let them be alone.

Once alone, she asks him to at least pretend like they get along in front of her brother. He asks if she knew about the engagement date. She scoffs that it shouldn’t be a surprise; they are getting married after all.

And then she wonders, “Or are you upset about that woman?” Ji-wook: “You’re right. I’ll think about it – whether I’m upset about our engagement, or that woman,” and walks off leaving her stewing.

He immediately calls his company lawyer, who tells him that they can’t take on a case for an individual, especially when the plaintiff is Sae-kyung’s company. Well duh. I hope your big heroic plan wasn’t to throw your company lawyer at her.

Yeon-jae sees a lawyer of her own, but finds that he can’t take on the case either, because of his firm’s affiliation with Seojin Group. Okay, there’s gotta be some lawyer somewhere who isn’t affiliated with either of these companies. This is a stupid problem.

Okay thankfully, Ji-wook isn’t totally useless, and calls a lawyer friend for a favor. He asks him to take Yeon-jae’s case, and when asked if he’s sure she didn’t steal the ring, he says, “I don’t think she’s the kind of person who would ever do that.” Finally, some trust thrown her way.

Lawyer friend: “So… you want me to take this case, against your fiancée? Do you like this woman?” Ji-wook insists it’s nothing of the sort. His friend just gives him the ol’ wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Ha.

Ji-wook heads to tango class and waits outside for Yeon-jae, expectantly. She walks up and sees him up ahead, but she stops. He calls her (for the millionth time that day) and she finally picks up. Ji-wook: “Where are you?” Yeon-jae: “Behind.”

She asks if he’s waiting for her, and he just awkwardly blurts out that he found a lawyer, so he’ll give her the phone number. “But I’m not doing this because of any feelings, so don’t misunderstand.”

She tells him blankly that she’s not, and suggests they go in. He stands there confused, like this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. Haha. I love it. He desperately wants her to misunderstand, but she won’t.

Their tango class finally starts to learn some dance steps, eight of them to be exact, and he’s so bad that he gets singled out by the class. He fumbles through it, but once he gets paired with Yeon-jae, he loses himself in the moment and actually manages to dance.

He smiles, so pleased to finally get the steps, which she points out everyone else learned on their first try. Her thoughts are all a mess, as she remembers running with him in the rain, and then his cold dismissal earlier that day with Sae-kyung.

Their chemistry when dancing is just too hot for words. I love it when a simple touch shoots electricity like that. Sometimes handholding is indescribably hotter than kissing.

At the same time, Eun-seok sits at his desk in the hospital, reliving the fanmeeting from the night before, where his 25-year crush on his first love was outed to everyone but the girl who wrote the words. He slumps over his desk in mortification. Awwww.

He goes home and takes out a children’s book, where he keeps an old photo of him and Yeon-jae from grade school, where she’s striking a dance pose and he’s looking up at her all geeky and adorable. GAH. His crush on her is already killing me. Why do I love Poopy-seok so?

The dance class heads out for drinks together, and Ji-wook gets stuck on the other end of the table from Yeon-jae. One of the women starts to ask him questions, clearly interested in him, and he just mechanically rattles off everything you would on a first date, including height, and shoe size, just to shut her up.

He spends the entire time staring over at Yeon-jae, as she gulps down a beer and tells everyone about how cathartically she quit her job and told her ass of a boss to shove it.

It comes time to pay, but when Yeon-jae opens up her wallet, she finds that she’s a little short on cash. Thinking quickly, she tells everyone that they needn’t pay because she heard Ji-wook say he was going to treat everyone tonight. Ha. I love her petty revenge.

Everyone starts thanking him, so now he’s forced to pay, and she just thanks him along with everyone else and walks out. He chases her down and says he doesn’t remember saying that he’d pay, but she just breezes that he’s rich, so he oughtn’t be so stingy. Heh.

He tries to give her the lawyer’s number, but she just tells him that she’s going out for Round 2. He follows her of course, and they end up at a swimming pool. She looks out at the water in the moonlight and takes a deep breath.

He looks over at her incredulously, “You’re not going swimming in there, are you?” She hands him her purse and takes off her shoes. “Yeah, I am.”

She stands at the edge and closes her eyes, and stretches out her arms in the air as she takes in the moment. She takes a giant leap right into the water with a big scream of excitement, as Ji-wook gapes.

She asks if he doesn’t want to join her, and he shakes his head with a firm no, so she asks for his help to get out of the pool… and yanks him right in. Haha. They splash around and she finally sucks him into her fun.

Later they sit around and she muses that this reminds her Okinawa and how happy she was there. He thinks she seems pretty happy now too, and adds, “Do you know that you’re a very strange person?”

He thinks she must be very happy, if she always does what she wants. Yeon-jae says that she’s lived her whole life denying herself the things she wanted, but not anymore.

Yeon-jae: I think I’ll regret it when I die. I realized that after always saying, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow,’ that tomorrow might never come.

He counters very literally that tomorrow will here in an hour, and they laugh. He asks if she’s really not worried about the lawsuit, and she tells him that she’s decided not to worry about it because she’s innocent, but she does feel angry about the precious time it’ll waste.

He tells her to call his lawyer friend in the morning, since he’s a trustworthy guy. She turns to him, “Do you like me?” Taken aback, he answers defensively, “Does that seem likely?”

She tells him to stop concerning himself with her then, and adds that he should stop coming to tango class too. He bristles at the rejection (despite not actually having the balls to admit that he likes her, bah) and asks what she means, grabbing her arm.

Yeon-jae looks up at him, her eyes welling up with tears. She tells him in banmal, “I thought it would be nice to date you once before I die. So I thought I’d maybe seduce you.”

He takes it the wrong way, perhaps supposing that she really did go to Okinawa to run into him on purpose. He scoffs, “If you did, do you think I’d fall for it? At your level?”

A tear falls from her eye. She keeps up the breezy façade, despite her tears: “So I’m thinking of quitting. Congratulations on your engagement.”

At that he finally lets go of her arm, and she walks away. He watches her go, completely at a loss. The look in his eyes just about kills me.

The next morning he gets chewed out by his father for looking into lawyers to defend Yeon-jae. Dad reminds him that he should be taking Sae-kyung’s side in all this, asking if he’s forgotten who he’s supposed to marry. Ji-wook sighs, “I know. Im Sae-kyung, Korea’s most expensive woman.”

Yeon-jae spends the day getting advice from public defenders, and does the legwork on her own to defend herself against Sae-kyung. She comes home and makes friends with the landlord’s new dog, telling him that he’s got a pretty sweet life since no one’s ever going to sue him for money.

Crotchety old grandpa comes out and shoos her away from his dog and feeds him, calling him Malbok. She says that’s a cute name (Malbok is a day on the lunar calendar that means “End of Dog Days,” signaling the end of the hottest time of year.)

He sighs that the dog eats well enough but won’t fatten up. She gasps, “You’re not… going to EAT Malbok-ie, are you?” He snaps at her to worry about her own life, meanwhile totally plotting to eat his own pet dog. NO!

She heads upstairs, his evil plot still weighing on her, and she looks at her calendar. Malbok is only a week away. She sneaks back out, and while the landlord goes back to get the dog some water, she runs over and frees his chain, and runs off with Malbok-ie in tow. This is so awesome. RUN!

Meanwhile, Eun-seok sits in his office staring at his cell phone, remembering Yeon-jae’s words that she’d take him out to eat because he helped her out with Junsu’s fanmeeting.

He stares at it silently, and then picks up his office phone with purpose… He dials and waits… and his OWN PHONE rings. Pfffft! He called himself!

He picks up, putting both phones to each ear, as he speaks into them like a mic test. To his utter disappointment, he finds his phone is in working order. Hee. I cannot get enough of his geeksplosion.

His colleagues are all headed out to the farewell/congratulations party for the guy who got chosen to transfer to his dream job over him, and he makes the excuse that he can’t go because he has a prior engagement.

One of his coworkers calls him out on his sour grapes, guessing correctly that he’s lying, and Eun-seok just squirms uncomfortably in front of everyone. Just then, Yeon-jae calls, wanting to take him out to dinner. Yay!

He purposely repeats her words out loud for everyone to hear, and asks where she wants to meet. “H-house? At MY house?”

He waits for her nervously at home, adorably going over his greeting about a thousand times. It consists of two sentences: Come on in / Are you feeling well? (More literally, is your body feeling okay, which sounds less weird in Korean.)

But then she rings the doorbell and in his nervousness he answers the door with: “Your body can come on in.” HAHAHAHAHA. Omg, I’m DYING.

He’s like a nine-year old, but that sentence sounds so pervy. She looks up at him confused. But then thankfully Malbok-ie runs in and cuts the awkward. Eun-seok just looks at the dog, Uhhhh.

She explains Malbok-ie’s situation, and how it’s so much like hers, except she’s got months while he only has a week. She asks if maybe he could watch him for a few days until she finds him a more permanent home.

He doesn’t seem happy about it, but agrees readily since it’s Yeon-jae asking. Oh, he’s totally gonna end up keeping him. I’m already so excited at the future conversations he’s going to have with this dog about his unrequited love.

Yeon-jae tells him that she’s really grateful, for this and the fanmeeting, and she gets up, ready to take him out for a nice meal. Eun-seok doesn’t want to lose this opportunity though, and suggests that they eat here, since he doesn’t want to leave the dog all alone. Uh-huh. Sure, blame it on the dog. Maybe you’re not such a child after all.

Ji-wook works out his angst and broods in the shower over Yeon-jae’s words at the pool. Is he going to have a broody shower in every episode? This is in no way a complaint, mind you. Just wondering.

Eun-seok cooks dinner, and Yeon-jae watches him measure out his ingredients with exact precision, like the neurotic that he is. She asks if maybe she should help, explaining that cooking is really all about sohn-mat, or cooking to taste.

But when she gets close and reaches to take the measuring spoons out of his hand, he jumps back from the proximity and tells her to step out of his kitchen. Ha.

She peruses his books while he cooks, and recognizes the children’s book (with their picture inside) right away as a book that she lent him. Aw. She picks it up and starts to flip through it, and he starts sweating bullets.

She can’t believe he’s kept it all this time, and remembers fondly that she loved something the heroine said in the book: “The world doesn’t go the way you want, but the fact that it doesn’t is really amazing, because then there are surprises that you never imagined.”

I love that she’s totally lost in nostalgia, while he’s completely on edge, just waiting for his super secret crush to be found out at any moment. He manages not to run and flail, but calmly snatches it out of her hands before he’s discovered.

Over dinner she tells him that she’s learning to tango because she went on a trip that went from the height of perfection to a nightmare by the end, and when she was feeling her worst, she came across a grandpa who danced with her.

“And in that moment, my heart became warm and calm.” She asks him to come learn too, and he’s quick to retort that he has no interest in things like that. She digs at his pride a little, thinking it obvious that he can’t dance anyway. She mumbles to herself about Ji-wook being a terrible dancer too, and dismisses it.

He walks her out to the bus stop and sends her off, and then turns back to look after her longingly when she’s not around to see it.

He comes home to a happy Malbok-ie, and then immediately starts sneezing when he pets him. Aw, you’re allergic but you still took him in? Why are you being so cute?

Meanwhile, Ji-wook tries a new mode of brooding, since you can only take so many long showers a day before people start asking questions, and joins some old friends for a night of clubbing, but he gets bored with that pretty quickly.

The cranky landlord comes barging into Yeon-jae’s house the next morning, demanding his dog back. He searches the whole place and warns her that he knows she did it, while she challenges him to go ahead and search. I love that she’s taking a stand for the dog.

She heads to the bank to withdraw some money, but finds that all her accounts have been frozen because of the lawsuit. She gets the runaround all day, and finds that the only way out is to get Sae-kyung to back off.

She sits outside the bank, completely trapped and feeling all alone, as she cries to indifferent people on the other end of the phone.

Ji-wook gets a call from his lawyer friend that Yeon-jae never called, and he tells him to forget it, that he shouldn’t have concerned himself in the matter. And then he calls Sae-kyung to make a date for the opera that night.

He heads out to pick her up, when Yeon-jae calls. The way he lights up to hear her voice is so adorable. He pulls over right away to talk to her, and she asks to see him. Thinking quickly, he tells her to come to his place, since she’s the one asking to meet, which cracks me up because he’s not even home.

He races home to beat her there, and fusses with his living room, picking some books to put out to make it look like he was reading. Haha. He lays out possible outfits and can’t pick one, and races to change when the doorbell rings.

He takes a deep breath and opens the door with excitement…

…And finds Sae-kyung on the other side. Damn, there’s a way to ruin a night. He totally can’t hide his disappointment, but can’t figure out a way around it either. She comes in with the suit from her father, and tells him to change for the opera.

He runs back into his closet to call Yeon-jae, and abruptly tells her to turn around, and that he’ll hear what she has to say some other time. She’s already in front of his house by the time he calls so she starts to text him that it’ll only take a minute.

But then she sees him walk out with Sae-kyung. She hides as Sae-kyung gets into his car, and then he walks around it and meets her eyes. They look at each other, and then without a word he gets into his car and drives off. Arrrgh!

He sits in the opera, his agitation slowly building until he can’t take it anymore and walks out in the middle of it, ditching Sae-kyung without a word. He drives back in a fit of anger, and comes home to find Yeon-jae still waiting outside his house.

He greets her icily wondering that whatever it is, it must be important for her to wait around for hours. Her voice shaking, she tells him that there’s been a freeze on her accounts, and all of her assets are tied up, and she doesn’t even have more than 10,000 won in her wallet because Sae-kyung is playing hardball.

He OF COURSE jumps to the dickish conclusion that she’s here to borrow money. She tells him that she’s here to ask him for a favor, to try and talk Sae-kyung into releasing her accounts since it doesn’t need to go that far.

He turns the entitled bastard on full force, asking why she’s asking him instead of talking to Sae-kyung directly. Is it because he’s a man? Did she think he’d pity her more?

Blech, did you take an extra dose of scumbag serum today?

But he doesn’t relent, and calls his bank to have them wire Yeon-jae the 300 million won needed to settle the lawsuit. She demands to know what he’s doing. He tells arrogantly her that this takes care of it all, and she needn’t thank him.

She shouts that paying the money is the same as admitting her guilt for stealing the ring, a thing she refuses to do. She asks if this is his idea of taking care of things, and she shouts, “What about that money? Am I not supposed to pay you back?!”

He screams back at her: “Don’t pay it back then! Don’t pay me back, and stop showing up in my sights. I don’t want to be involved with a woman like you in this kind of matter anymore!”

She reaches up to slap him, but he blocks her hand and holds it in midair.

Ji-wook: “Take the money and go. And don’t show up in front of me again. Because of you… I think I’m going crazy.”


Ugh, what’s with the assy declaration? Yes, he’s finally admitting that he’s going crazy because of her, but it’s not exactly a swoon-worthy moment, since it’s laced with such arrogance and entitlement.

The only thing that saves him is his pre-Yeon-jae freak out when he was setting up his apartment for her arrival, which finally showed some vulnerability and geekiness on his part. But then following it up with his rich boy speech about pity and money and “people like her” made him sound exactly like Sae-kyung, only worse because he’s supposed to like her.

I know, he’s overcompensating for his true feelings. But whatever. That’s not an excuse for his actions. He’s just being a coward, and worse, throwing money at her, which means he actually doesn’t know that human beings don’t have monetary value. Sigh, I’m just going to have to wait until next week when Yeon-jae knocks him off his high horse. I hope she rubs his face in the dirt too, for good measure.

On the other hand, Poopy-seok is totally winning right now. I hope they have endless adorable geeky times with Malbok-ie, and make Ji-wook froth at the mouth with jealousy for a good long while before he wins her over.



====================================================================================214 August 13, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 7

by javabeans

For a drama that operates on a very predictable premise — we know not only the trajectory of the events but can also anticipate the various obstacles and triumphs Yeon-jae will face — Scent of a Woman does a damn good job of keeping us engaged and on the hook for more. The overall arc is predictable, but the little moments and plot beats are not, and that gives this drama life.


Every Single Day – “일어나” (Get Up) [ Download ]

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Ji-wook tells Yeon-jae to take his money and leave him alone forever. It’s a supremely unromantic non-confession, as he tells her that she’s driving him crazy like it’s her fault he’s attracted to her.

She asks what that means, and he asks, “What do you think it means?” She requests that he cancel the money transfer because she won’t take the 300 million won, and they go their separate ways. With her accounts frozen, she doesn’t even have enough cash to take a cab all the way home, and exits the taxi with only a few dollars to her name.

Ji-wook soon has another visitor: Sae-kyung storms inside and slaps him for ditching her at the opera. Good lord, slap-happy people of this drama. You talk with your mouth, not with your hands.

She warns him that she can always dump him, so he replies, “Why don’t you do that, then?” It’s not like they enjoy each other’s company. She sneers about his idea of fun, asking mockingly whether he’d prefer to hold hands and go to amusement parks.

Ji-wook conducts a meeting with Yeon-jae’s old department, dissatisfied with the team’s lack of suggestions until Bong-gil mentions a Wando Island tour package that looks promising. But when Ji-wook hears that this was Yeon-jae’s proposal, he rejects it angrily, professional that he is. He dismisses the meeting with the pointed warning that male employees are not to sexually harass the women, adding that the same goes for women.

While waiting for Hye-won to meet her, Yeon-jae flips through a magazine and lands on a feature of Andy Wilson. She pulls out a pen and starts blackening his teeth, which I love because it’s so harmlessly immature.

Hye-won lends her about $800, which is all she can afford to give. She relays the story of Ji-wook blowing his lid when Yeon-jae’s name was mentioned at the meeting and wonders what’s up.

Hye-won spots the photo of Wilson, insulting him like the loyal friend she is and wondering how a pianist can play with such “pig hands.” That draws Yeon-jae’s attention to his hands…and the ring on his finger. The caption puts the photo at a recent Berlin performance. Yeon-jae gets on the phone, tracing him to his recording label, then to the hotel in Sydney where he’s currently staying.

Living with one frisky Malbok-ie does, as expected, cramp Eun-seok’s style; the dog shreds books, knocks over lamps, and pees on his floor. Eun-seok asks a fellow doctor to take the dog off his hands, but when Yeon-jae asks him if all’s going well with the dog, he lies and says yes. Good luck getting rid of him now, ya big softy.

Eun-seok’s avoidant personality is well-known, and even the director of the hospital points out that his ostracism is self-imposed. His absence from the dinner the other night has been duly noted, and he faked a stomach bug last year to get out of performing at the annual hospital anniversary event. This year marks the 50th, however, so the director wants the doctors to prepare bigger, better, more exciting acts.

Eun-seok feels the pressure, and it’s as though being singled out as the outcast makes him want to prove the director wrong. So when the director suggests that another doctor perform a dance, Eun-seok blurts, “I’ll do it.” Go big or go home, right?

Eun-seok confirms that Yeon-jae’s bloodwork came back normal, which means that her first bout of therapy succeeded. As she’s about to leave, he holds her back to ask some advice, saying sheepishly, “I did something even I don’t understand.”

Her response? Tango class.

Eun-seok stands there in total discomfort while Yeon-jae laughs at his tenseness and tells him to relax. It’s cute that she assumes he’s anxious because of the dance, when it’s really her that has him so hot ‘n bothered. That obvious unease on his face is sorta awesome.

Eun-seok gets through the steps and Yeon-jae claps excitedly, while Bong-gil/Ramses enthusiastically praises his talent. He overdoes it a bit, but confides to the female instructor that it’s just to encourage him lest he be scared off (after Ji-wook told him he wouldn’t be returning to classes, Bong-gil had wondered if it was because he’d been too hard on him, hee).

Contrary to Bong-gil’s opinion, the female instructor looks intently at Eun-seok and says that he does possess a feel for the dance.

Sitting at home in lieu of going to class, Ji-wook idly flips through TV channels until he comes across the movie Scent of a Woman and its famous tango sequence, wherein Al Pacino dances skillfully despite his blindness.

So Ji-wook gets up and closes his eyes as he walks through the steps in his living room, his arms held up to lead an imaginary partner.

Then he imagines Yeon-jae stepping into his arms, and dances with his image of her for the rest of the song. It winds to a finish and he opens his eyes, alone again. He looks so bereft at the loss that it breaks your heart a little.

Eun-seok and Yeon-jae leave dance class in pleasant spirits, and she sees him off as he takes a cab home. He twists around in his seat to look back at her, which is adorable and heart-tugging. Aw.

Yeon-jae receives a notice from the court, which she takes to the legal aid center for interpretation. It’s a notice of arbitration because the judge has deemed that the claim for 300 million won is too high. However, this isn’t strictly good news; the lawyer tells her that it means the judge finds her partially responsible, which means it’s safer to settle, even if she has to pay 100 million won. It’s better than the amount she might have to pay if she loses the case at trial.

Another chaebol dinner is called by the oblivious fathers, who think all is going swimmingly with their spawn. Sae-kyung tells her father that Ji-wook doesn’t find her company enjoyable, so she plans to match his interests better from now on.

Sae-kyung takes a call at the table and learns of the arbitration. She declares that she has no intention of negotiating, pointedly looking at Ji-wook as she says she’ll see this through to the bitter end.

After the parents leave, Sae-kyung suggests continuing their date. Per her declaration that she’ll match his tastes, she suggests a gag concert (which she’d previously rejected as lowbrow), or a common date walking down the street eating ice cream. Sae-kyung has this massively infuriating habit of saying things with a sweet overtone that are actually barbs; this is one example, saying she’ll do what he wants while simultaneously mocking it.

Ji-wook tells her there’s no reason to take the suit to such extremes, considering she’s a gajillionaire who doesn’t need the money. She tells him that since he has such an interest in this case, he’s free to try meddling while her lawyers crush her opponent: “Does that seem like fun to you?” Not as fun as it would be to see you crushed, princess. And I mean crushed, literally. A nice big rock oughtta do it.

Sae-kyung’s secretary, Mr. Ex-Creepy, notes that she seems particularly sensitive these days. She sighs, and even wonders if she’s taking out her anger over her gold-digging ex-boyfriend on Yeon-jae instead. Wow, a moment of insight from Pissy Princess? Maybe there’s hope for you yet. You know, way, way, waaaaaay off in the future. I still want you to suffer, ideally accompanied by heaps of humiliation — but maybe I might be willing to wish you some peace at the end of it. It’s a big if.

Yeon-jae continues leaving messages for Wilson with increasing desperation, and finally gets through to his manager/assistant. She asks whether the ring in the photo is the one Wilson had lost, but the manager tells her coolly that an identical ring was made to replace it. He asks her not to call again, and defeated, Yeon-jae hangs up.

The manager turns to Wilson, who has been sitting nearby nervously, and suggests that Wilson come clean about the truth. Wilson bursts out in a fit of embarrassment and pride, saying he can’t apologize now and admit the ring he’d been so angry about was, in fact, stuck to his ass the whole time. Ha. Well, he has a point about it being mortifying.

Hopes crushed, Yeon-jae sits in the lobby of the Line Tour office. Ji-wook takes a step in her direction, but stops when her friend Hye-won joins her, all worry.

Yeon-jae tearily says that she may have to pay the 100 million won, which she’d scrimped and saved for the past decade to collect. Bitter with indignation, she cries as she says she’d never once pinned her hopes on winning the lottery or scoring a rich man, just worked steadily on her own. Given all that, “Shouldn’t I at least be able to live?” She breaks down into sobs while Hye-won gathers her in a comforting hug.

Ji-wook redoubles his efforts to find evidence to support Yeon-jae’s innocence, though it’s a daunting task. But smart Sang-woo (God bless Sang-woo, who I like more and more with every episode) has compiled a few photos featuring Wilson wearing the ring at a couple concerts, the latest one from this month.

Ji-wook gets on the phone and calls Wilson, whose nervous guilt makes him burst out, “What is with you people?! Do you have any proof that it’s the same ring? It’s a new ring!” Way to give yourself away, buddy. Ji-wook gets Wilson to say that the same famed jeweler made both rings, then catches him in the lie because the guy died last year.

Wilson gasps, “Oh my god,” and hangs up on him to avoid explanation. HAHAHA. He’s got the emotional maturity of a six-year-old. At least this supports Ji-wook’s suspicion that Wilson didn’t lose the ring, and he schedules a flight to Sydney.

Yeon-jae asks her mother if she’d ever remarry, not wanting to leave her mother alone upon her death. Mom says she has no reason to, since marriage at her age would just mean she’d have to cook and clean for someone else. Yeon-jae points out that it’s nice to have someone around to help you through the hard times, and urges Mom to think about dating.

Arbitration day rolls around, and Yeon-jae enters the room with heavy heart. The judge urges both sides to settle upon 100 million won, rather than dragging this to trial. Yeon-jae argues that there’s no evidence that she stole, but Sae-kyung’s lawyers are here to play hardball and they take the ad hominem attack route, painting her as a bad employee. They even point out that she took a personal day off from work the day after the ring debacle — to be diagnosed for terminal cancer, assholes — and the message is clear that they’re prepared for a smear campaign.

Sae-kyung tells the judge prettily that Yeon-jae never once expressed apologies for causing the uproar, and that she only initiated the suit because she didn’t see any remorse from her. However, if Yeon-jae were to apologize and acknowledge her wrongdoing, she will agree to settle.

And so Yeon-jae sits there, feeling unfairly backed into a corner and pressed for a response — just as the door opens.

Wilson steps through and tells the judge that this gathering is unnecessary: “You see, I never lost my ring.”

Now for some satisfying awkwardness: Wilson sits at a cafe with Yeon-jae, nervously looking everywhere but at her and babbling to cover up his guilt. Yeon-jae looks at him resentfully while he rambles about long flights and tea, until she asks accusingly, “How could you do this to me?”

Wilson fumbles for excuses, which are all the flimsier for the fact that he knows how wrong he was. Finally, he says quietly, “I’m sorry. I apologize. I mean it.”

But that’s inadequate, and she tells him all he had to do was say the truth, which gets him saying defensively that he’s been wracked with nerves since then. He even goes so far as to make it about him: “Do you know how painful it was for me?”

Yeon-jae wonders what prompted him to change his mind and return to Korea. He mutters, “Because that jerk threatened me. Bastard.” Ha. Yeon-jae is shocked to hear Wilson’s story of how Ji-wook tricked him — it turns out that jeweler Jacques isn’t even dead — and flew to Sydney to bring him back.

That night, Yeon-jae walks to Ji-wook’s home bearing a gift, only to be beat to the punch by Sae-kyung, who pulls up in her car just ahead of her. Yeon-jae turns around, fruit basket in hand, and goes home.

Sae-kyung gets right to the point, telling him she knows he went to Sydney, informing him that she was made a laughingstock at court today. (Ah, such satisfying words.) She asks point-blank if he’s interested in Yeon-jae, and wonders if he’s been seeing her all this time.

Ji-wook admits that Yeon-jae had “bothered his mind” — a saying often used as a precursor to a confession of interest, when a person preoccupies your thoughts — and asks, “Have you ever been poor?” So poor that she didn’t know what she’d eat tonight?

Sae-kyung scoffs, “And you have?” He replies, “If you were going to have me investigated, you ought to have done it properly, and seen what kind of past I lived.” Huh. Interesting. So Ji-wook isn’t quite the spoiled pretty boy he seems?

She asks if he plans to continue to be “bothered” by Yeon-jae, and he retorts that her lawsuit was actually the reason he was so preoccupied: “Now that the lawsuit is over, I won’t have cause to be bothered anymore.”

Yeon-jae visits Sae-kyung’s office, sits down, and asks straight out, “How are you going to apologize?” Booyah. I do love her frankness. With a glare, Sae-kyung places an envelope on the table, and Yeon-jae comments that she’s so predictable. Sae-kyung snits that Yeon-jae is, too, supposing she’s here to demand an apology, delivered on her knees.

Yeon-jae surprises her by saying no: “What would I do with an apology that has not even a fingertip’s worth of sincerity in it? Even money’s better than that.” She takes the envelope.

Sae-kyung twists Ji-wook’s words from the night before and says that he’d told her he was bothered by his pity for poor, penniless Yeon-jae. So now she won’t have to seek him out using money as her excuse.

Yeon-jae: “I was planning to let things go at this point because I hate the idea of being connected to you any longer. But that won’t do.”
Sae-kyung: “And what will you do about that?”
Yeon-jae: “I’m going to take revenge on you. If I don’t, I’ll feel so wronged I won’t be able to die.”
Sae-kyung: “Do you think you have that kind of strength?”
Yeon-jae: “You don’t know what kind of strength I have.”

Wilson leaves the hotel to head for the airport, and gives Ji-wook the request to pass along a gift to Yeon-jae, having forgotten to do it when he’d seen her. Ji-wook declines, saying he doesn’t want her to know of his involvement in this matter. Wilson says he told her everything yesterday, to which Ji-wook says exasperatedly, “Why did you do that?!”

Wilson has his number, though, and says that it’s obvious Ji-wook did everything to win Yeon-jae’s favor. He tells him that Yeon-jae’s a good woman and wishes him well with her.

Ji-wook contemplates the gift, which turns out to be Wilson’s own ring, the source of all this craziness. Well, as far as apologies go, at least it’s a pretty big gesture from the neurotic pianist who used to insist he couldn’t perform without it.

Wilson’s parting words stick with him: “You’ll see her anyway, since she’ll be coming around to thank you.” Wondering when that’ll happen, Ji-wook scrolls through his cell phone log of recent calls to confirm that he hasn’t somehow missed a call, then tosses it aside when her name isn’t there. He perks up when his phone rings — then deflates to see Sae-kyung’s name.

Arg, I hate the way she’s so good at using the truth, twisted slightly, to further her own agenda: She tells Ji-wook that Yeon-jae came looking for her today demanding money, which she provided.

Yeon-jae does contemplate calling Ji-wook, but the memory of Sae-kyung keeps her from doing it. Instead, she puts the money to good use by donating it to the hospital, to be used for patients who can’t afford treatment.

She explains this to Eun-seok at the hospital, giving him the vague story about coming into some money recently in exchange for enduring a slap to the face and a lot of grief at the hands of a spoiled chaebol.

Eun-seok asks Yeon-jae hesitantly to be his partner for his tango performance, and quickly accepts her denial when she says she’s not good enough to perform. But she changes her mind and figures she could give it a shot — as long as she gets a favor in return.

Still waiting for Yeon-jae to contact him, Ji-wook checks with his secretary to confirm that he’s up to date on his calls. He almost calls her himself, but decides to try the indirect route first by asking Bong-gil about tango class. Only because he felt bad about depriving the class of a male partner, of course. Uh huh. Sure.

Bong-gil assures him that the class is fine, since Yeon-jae brought in “Schweitzer” (in reference to the famous doctor), her clean-cut childhood classmate who dances well. Hee. Immediately Ji-wook guesses who this is — thinking back to the fanmeeting — and confirms that the guy’s a doctor, wears glasses, and has slanty eyes. HA.

Ji-wook and Sang-woo head to an upscale hotel for a business meeting… just as Yeon-jae arrives with her mother for a blind date. Ha, I love the reversal, given how Mom ambushed her with that dating service appointment early on. Now it’s Mom’s turn to fidget, and Yeon-jae gives her the code word: If she likes him, it’s grape. If she doesn’t, it’s orange.

Eun-seok has brought a sunbae, but he’s the one fidgeting anxiously as he waits. When he catches a glimpse of Yeon-jae, his jaw literally drops and his heart pounds. Aw, it’s so sweet.

The older couple hits it off right away, and Mom gives Yeon-jae a few kicks to send her on her way. Yeon-jae had arranged the double date to relieve the pressure from the older couple, but now she figures she didn’t need to bother and apologizes for dragging Eun-seok along. If only she knew…

As they wait for the elevator, she gets the text from Mom indicating that the date is a success, and excitedly tells Eun-seok the good news. She’s so thrilled that she doesn’t notice that the elevator has stopped and awaits new passengers.

Ji-wook notices her before she notices him, taking in the friendly familiarity between her and Eun-seok. He asks coldly if she’s getting in, and her emotions plummet swiftly from happiness to uneasy dread.

The elevator ride is quiet and fraught with tension, as Ji-wook thinks back to the fanmeeting and Eun-seok’s first-love story. Eun-seok is oblivious and tells her, “It’s a relief that your mother likes [him].” But the object of that sentence is implied, so it’s natural for Ji-wook to assume that Eun-seok means himself. Given their formal attire and meeting in a hotel, the likely presumption is that the couple has just come from meeting Mom, who approves of the boyfriend. A serious boyfriend, at that, one who’s thinking of marrying her.

Yeon-jae remains acutely aware of Ji-wook’s presence behind her as they walk out, even as they make no sign of acquaintance. Finally, Ji-wook calls out her name, forcing her to stop and explain to Eun-seok that he’s her old boss.

Ji-wook and Yeon-jae step aside, and he takes her to task for not bothering to thank him, accusing her of being mercenary based on her immediate demands of money. She doesn’t contradict him, and challenges: “Why? Is there something wrong with that?”

Ji-wook: “So you took that money and came here? You weren’t the kind of person who could afford to come to places like this. After you’d come begging me when you needed every penny—”

Eun-seok cuts in to tell him to knock it off. He’s put enough of the story together to guess, “Are you the one who slapped her face and accused her of being a thief? That money she got from you—”

Yeon-jae asks him to stop before he can finish. Murmuring a perfunctory goodbye, she pulls Eun-seok along. Ji-wook stands there for a few long moments, then makes the decision to follow, stalking outside to catch up.

He stops at a distance, and hears Eun-seok asking why Yeon-jae didn’t clear up the misunderstanding, why she didn’t explain what she did with the money.

Yeon-jae tearily admits, “I went to his house, because I wanted to thank him. No, I was using that as an excuse, because I wanted to see his face again. But I couldn’t do it. I wanted to see him, but I had to turn back.”

Ohhh, poor Poopy-seok. And I so wanted you to win your love and be happy forever with your ill-trained dog.

Eun-seok gets her implication, but asks to make it clear, “What do you mean by that? Do you…like that man?”

Yeon-jae: “I wish I didn’t like him, but I can’t help it. I like him so much.”


Aww, I knew Poopy-seok was headed for heartbreak, but it didn’t keep me from wishing him happiness anyway. And now he’s stuck with a mangy mutt that eats his pillows and makes him sneeze, while the love of his life — who’s dying — just professed her feelings for that rich asshole. If there’s any consolation, at least he’s the better dancer?

As I mentioned, the show manages to stay completely engaging despite what we know is coming down the line. It’s the dilemma of all trendy dramas, to keep viewers entertained while working within such a conventional formula. But even within these fixed parameters of boy-meets-girl, boy-fights-with-girl (and fights, and fights, and fights), boy-wins-girl, boy-fights-fate-for-girl, it’s a skill to be able to draw out the emotions in credible, relatable ways.

For example, it’s one thing to tell us that these characters are falling for each other, but it’s quite a feat to make our emotions regarding the hero mirror the heroine’s, and developing on the same timetable. I feel as conflicted about Ji-wook as Yeon-jae does, finding him incredibly arrogant and off-putting, wanting him to suffer, and yet being drawn to him all the same and ultimately wanting him to overcome his own conflict about his feelings. I want Ji-wook to grovel at her feet, at the same time that I want him to be happy. Which sort of conflicts with my whole Eun-seok love, which just kills me. Ack! Why can’t everyone just be happy?



357 August 14, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 8

by girlfriday

I think before this episode, the tango was a stand-in, a euphemism for a lot of things, but there are no longer any spaces to read between the lines now. I think the appropriate expression is: Oh, get a room already. YOWZA.


Yeon-jae confesses to Eun-seok that despite trying not to, she likes Ji-wook. Eun-seok sighs, masking his own heartbreak, and tells her that she should be saying this to Ji-wook, not him.

Ji-wook, who’s been eavesdropping this whole time, gets caught up in her confession and starts to take a step towards her… but then Yeon-jae replies: “It doesn’t mean anything. He’s marrying someone else.” That stops him in his tracks, and he watches Eun-seok turn to see him, and then take her away.

Meanwhile Mom’s date is going swimmingly, as they sit down to dinner. Mom puts a piece of live wriggling octopus in her mouth and it gets stuck in her throat (Ew, worst nightmare).

The doctor has to give her the Heimlich so she’ll spit it back out, which sends her packing immediately. This is why I don’t eat things that are still alive. Recently alive is good enough for me.

Yeon-jae promises to return the favor if Mom’s date went well, and Eun-seok starts to ask about Ji-wook. She clarifies that he wasn’t the one to sue her or give her the money, and he wonders if maybe he didn’t butt in where he shouldn’t have. Aw.

Yeon-jae sits in the dark for a while to brood, and Mom comes home, burying herself in bed out of mortification. Meanwhile Ji-wook tosses and turns all night, unable to sleep after hearing Yeon-jae’s confession to Eun-seok.

He heads to work the next day and after another round of uninspired ideas, decides that Yeon-jae’s last unfinished project with the planning team is the best they can come up with. He also announces (out of nowhere) that Yeon-jae wasn’t responsible for Wilson’s ring because it was never lost. Uh, did anyone ask?

He has his secretary call Yeon-jae in to see him, though he adds not to tell her that he asked her to come. So… someone else called her to your office? You’re dumber than I thought.

He fidgets nervously like a big dork as he waits for her to arrive. She remains aloof as she sits down to ask what he wants, and he explains that they’re seeing her project through, and asks her to come back to work.

She turns him down, and he reminds her that she said it was a job that she wanted to protect for a long, long time. Without explaining further, she tells him that even if she were to return, she wouldn’t be able to do that.

He’s clearly not getting the answer he wants, so he starts yelling at her to just listen to him. Oh, okay. Pffft. He even tries apologizing for the other night.

She turns him down flat and gets up to go, so he finally yells, “You said you wanted to see me! So I’m giving you that chance!” Aaaaaargh, what the hell is with you and your asshat remarks? I’m getting tired of it.

Shaking, she asks if he heard what she said. He confesses that he heard everything. They share a charged silent moment, which gets interrupted by Dad’s untimely entrance. He interrupts them to ask Ji-wook about when he’s going shopping for engagement rings, which is pretty much the worst possible thing he could say.

Yeon-jae excuses herself and walks out, and Ji-wook runs after her, but can’t catch up to her in time.

After having being so totally crushed, Eun-seok goes back to his grumpypants ways to cover up his big bleeding heart. He finds the other doctors and nurses laughing at the latest webtoon starring him, and they tease that he must have some hidden manly charm.

They show him the cartoon, and it features him dancing the tango with Yeon-jae. He storms into the room to yell at Yeon-jae’s bunkmate Hee-joo (the one with the crush on him), and totally takes all his anger and frustration out on her, demanding her to take them all down at once. Aw, you big meanie.

Yeon-jae walks up to hear the tail end of his yelling, and when they talk he’s still in a sour mood. She asks if he knows what happened on Mom’s date because she won’t talk about it, and he coldly tells her that she choked on some live octopus, and wonders if it was necessary to come all this way to ask him that.

She gives him some doggie treats for Malbok-ie, saying that she realized she hadn’t paid him enough attention since leaving him in Eun-seok’s care. He softens a little at that, but then she tells him that he was too harsh with Hee-joo, who’s young and sick with cancer.

Back on the defensive, he asks if being a cancer patient excuses you to do anything you want. He snaps at her to stop concerning herself with him and figure out her own mess — liking a man who’s going to marry someone else. Ouch.

Angry tears brimming, she says, “I must look pathetic in your eyes.” He doesn’t relent: “Well aren’t you?” and walks away. Aaaaaargh.

He stops to look back at her, probably realizing that he’s lashing out, but turns and keeps walking ahead with a sigh. Oh, Poopy-seok. You have the emotional maturity of a nine-year old.

Yeon-jae heads to the tango studio to clear up her crappy mood, and asks her instructor Veronica how long it’ll take her to dance like her. She sighs to hear the answer six years, but Veronica adds that it can be shortened if she dedicates the time to it.

At the same time, Ji-wook arrives outside the jewelry shop. He looks inside and sees Sae-kyung sitting there, and as his hand comes up to open the door… he stops. He can’t face it, or her, and whirls around and leaves.

He calls Yeon-jae, who doesn’t hear her phone because she’s dancing. Veronica answers for her, and doesn’t let him talk to her, but now he knows where she is. He spins the car around and zooms to the studio.

Veronica slyly leaves Yeon-jae alone while she and her partner go out for dinner, so when Ji-wook arrives, he sees her dancing all alone.

He walks up to her, intense with focus, tearing off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves in one fluid movement. Without a word, he puts his arm around her waist and pulls her toward him. Rawr.

She takes a step back, so he moves forward, in that same step they learned in the beginning, now fraught with all their unfulfilled longing. He takes the lead, maybe for the first time ever, and they dance.

Good grief, so this is why they invented tango. I’m pretty sure she’s gonna drop a baby, any minute now. Seriously, all that denial of feelings now seems worth it, for the tango foreplay alone. Hot damn.

They finally get to kissing distance, and he starts to lean in. He closes his eyes. She closes hers. He inches forward and they stay frozen like that.

He stops, noses touching, lips just barely apart. Trembling, he says, “How are you going to stop your feelings, when you’re like this?” It’s unclear whether he’s saying it to her or himself, maybe both.

And then he walks out, leaving her with her arms held out in the space where he used to be. Gah, it’s so much worse than if he’d never shown up.

He goes straight to Sae-kyung’s place to wait for her outside, and she screams at the top of her lungs, insane with rage at having been made to wait around for him. He tells her to break the engagement, and the wedding too of course.

That catches her off-guard and she counters that she has no intention of doing that, since it doesn’t matter which guy she marries; it’s all the same to her. Wow, that’s a sad statement on your life, princess.

But he tells her that he’s trying to be nice – if he breaks the engagement it’ll wound her pride, so he’s offering her the chance to break it herself. How come you can manage to be a gentleman to the girl you hate, but you can’t ever manage to be more than a total ass to the woman you love?

Anyway, she threatens him with the only real thing she has in her arsenal—money. She tells him that when Daddy hears about this, he could crush Ji-wook’s company and take everything away. He doesn’t even flinch: “I don’t care. Do as you like.” Ha. I suppose his indifference comes in handy at a time like this?

Ji-wook broods and then gets all hot ‘n’ bothered thinking about their tango. Yeah, you’re not the only one, buddy. Yeon-jae takes out her bucket list, sighing as she looks at the last two on her list, to do all this with the person she loves, and to close her eyes in the arms of the one she loves.

She heads out in the morning, shocked to find Ji-wook parked out in front of her house, sleeping. Ha, did you spend the night there?

He doesn’t deny that he’s here to see her (Perhaps asking Sae-kyung for the breakup has FINALLY launched him firmly out of Denial Land?) and gives her Wilson’s ring as his excuse for stopping by. He conveys Wilson’s message that it’s a lucky ring, but it’s stopped bringing him luck, so he’s passing it on to her. How lucky are we talking here? Like beat-cancer lucky?

He offers to drop her off wherever she’s going, with the lame excuse that he’s headed out of her neighborhood anyway, and then to cover up his own awkwardness, he quickly says, “Or don’t, whatever,” way too quickly, before she can even consider it.

Hahaha. His crinkle-face at his own stupidity is priceless. She ends up getting in the car anyway, and says her destination is the amusement park. He gets out with her, and muses that it’s a good thing he came along, since it’s a little weird to go to an amusement park alone.

But she’s not here to ride the rides. Ji-wook: “Then why are you here?” Yeon-jae: “To find someone. My first love.” LOL. How’s that for payback?

At the hospital, Eun-seok’s colleagues tease him about the tango, meanwhile secretly jealous that he seems to get attention from women despite being such a jerk. One of them points out that it can’t be helped—women like bad guys.

Eun-seok stalks off, not the least bit amused, but then Hee-joo appears like clockwork to prove the point further. She tells him about having given up her impractical dream of becoming a cartoonist, and then picking it back up once she found out that she had cancer.

She tells him that she started to draw him because he was so mean, and he guesses that she did it to try and stick it to him. She totally floors him by answering that it’s because she likes him. She doesn’t want to regret never trying or saying anything, so she asks him if he’ll take her out on one date.

He quickly answers no. Hee-joo pouts, having expected as much, “You’ve never had a one-sided love, so you’d never know.” Oh, if you only knew how his monstrous one-sided love could crush yours like a little bitty bug.

Yeon-jae looks for her first love who works in the amusement park, while Ji-wook is totally put out by it, trailing her the entire time. He asks accusingly if she has a cheater’s disposition or something. He reminds her that she said she wanted to date him once before dying, then had to meet Junsu, and now it’s her first love?

She tells him that a first love is simply that: a first love, and says that there’s something she’s always meant to tell him. He gets increasingly petty and jealous (hee) and asks what’s the deal with the doctor then – was she introducing him to her mother that night?

God, I love that he’s finally stewing in some jealousy. She laughs at him and explains Mom’s blind date and the double date to provide the social buffer. Dissatisfied, he murmurs, “Still, couldn’t you… not look for your first love?” Hahaha.

They walk into the zoo and find the fabled first love, holding a baby lion of all things. Awwww. They both light up to see each other, as Ji-wook looks back and forth between them warily. Can we just have this go on forever? Like he accompanies her to find all her ex-boyfriends and say the things she meant to say?

He can’t take not knowing what they’re talking about, so he moves closer to eavesdrop on their conversation. She tells First Love that she always liked him, and she never showed up that night because her father was really sick, not because she didn’t like him.

First Love’s response? “Uh… actually I liked Hae-won.” HA. Ji-wook goes from scowling to snickering at his words. He’s suddenly all lightness and joy, thinking the weather’s lovely, and the sun is shining, as he convinces her to go on some rides with him.

She tells him that she’s scared of heights, so he whines that they’ll just ride the not-scary ones. They end up on the carousel, which he rides like it’s Space Mountain or something, as she looks over at him thinking he’s off his rocker.

She finally gets into it when they ride the bumper cars, and they have a good time crashing into each other, much like their very dysfunctional relationship.

But then they run into Hae-won who’s there with her sister and her nieces, and she happens to see them when Ji-wook is brushing the hair of Yeon-jae’s face, making them look unequivocally like lovers on a secret date.

The thing is, I don’t understand her reaction, dripping of judgment, when she was the one who told her to seduce him in the first place. I suppose it has to do with his engagement announcement since then, but still, it’s not like he’s married, and she’s your best friend, for crying out loud.

Suffice it to say, the run-in kills the mood, and Ji-wook drops her off at home, both of them in subdued spirits.

Meanwhile, Eun-seok eats a lonely dinner, and when he sees that Malbok-ie has gathered a fresh pile of books to snack on, he brings him a chew toy instead. He picks up one of the books, and the title reads: “Twenty thing you’ll regret when you die.”

Hahaha. Is the dog a psychic dog? How awesome would it be if lonely Eun-seok had a dog that spoke to him through book titles? Like a magic eight ball that gives advice, but a cuddly BFF too.

He ends up in front of Yeon-jae’s house, false-starting a few text messages. But then before he can decide which one to send her, Ji-wook’s car pulls up and he sees them get out together. Aw. Poor Poopy-seok.

Yeon-jae comes home to find Mom half a bottle of soju deep, feeling down about being single at her age and looking like a fool on her date. Aw.

Across town, Sae-kyung’s busy getting wasted too, and she calls Ji-wook, who shows up to get her. He asks why she’s drinking so much, thinking she can’t possibly be upset about him wanting to end things.

She tells him that the truth is that he’s not guarding her pride—he’s scared of what her father will do if he breaks the engagement first. She tells him that they’ll get engaged and married as planned, since she has no intention of breaking things off, and he doesn’t have the courage to.

You know, as much as I hate her, she’s not a total idiot. He does seem like a passive patsy, in pretty much all things. She’s not wrong in thinking that this will be really hard for him to do, but I want him to grow a pair and just do it already.

He drops her off at home, where the sleazy ex-boyfriend who’s blackmailing her is waiting for her. He just tells her that since Daddy isn’t taking his calls, he came to her, and tells her to deposit the money into his account.

Ji-wook asks who he is, and she turns away as a tear falls, “The man I loved with my whole life. The man who is now using that to extort money from me.” She then adds bitterly that he’s got the perfect out now – he can tell her father that he found out about her tainted past and can’t marry her, and this way he’ll be free of blame and any consequences.

Oh, no. Does that mean he’s NOT going to do it, just to be noble? Gah, if he sticks with this engagement out of pity for her, I’m gonna SCREAM. To make matters worse, his friend tells him that she’s also got a suicide attempt under her belt, just to make him feel extra guilty. I could not possibly hate this girl more.

Yeon-jae crosses another thing off her bucket list: Find First Love. Check. Too bad it ended with bursting your bubble about how he loved you back, which I think provides the take-away lesson here: leave your first love where it belongs… in the past.

She tries Hae-won over and over, but she won’t answer her calls. Yeon-jae finally gets her to meet for coffee, where she shows up still angry and stick-up-her-ass about what’s right and wrong. Gah, seriously, Bestie?

She talks to Yeon-jae like she’s some goldigging whore, scoffing that she didn’t know her friend had such a talent for seducing men. Blech, are you kidding me with his high and mighty bullshit? I’m quickly losing faith in this friendship.

She reminds her that Ji-wook is someone whose engagement is in days, publicly announced all over the place. But Yeon-jae just says that she likes him and wants to see him, whenever she can. She doesn’t expect any more than that.

Hae-won tells her to do as she likes, as long as she doesn’t come crying to her about it. She announces that their twenty-year friendship has now come to an end. Seriously, imma cut a bitch. What the hell is her problem?

Hae-won gets up to leave and that’s when Yeon-jae blurts out, “They say it’s cancer.”

Hae-won stops in her tracks. Dumbfounded, she turns back slowly, asking again in disbelief. Yeon-jae tells her that she has six months to live… “No, is it five months now? I want to fall in love… before I die…”

Ooof. To her credit, Hae-won crumbles with genuine heartbreak when she learns the truth. I still contend that you should be understanding and loving without the terminal illness, but whatever.

It’s Yeon-jae’s first confession about her cancer to someone in her life (Eun-seok doesn’t count ’cause technically he told her), and it’s crushing to watch her finally admit it to someone.

At the same time, Sae-kyung and family have gathered to finalize engagement plans with Ji-wook and his father, and when Ji-wook doesn’t show up for a good long while, she thinks it’s over and starts to explain to her father… just as Ji-wook walks in. Drats.

But to my surprise, he really does screw up the nerve to break the engagement, and to her father’s face no less. He doesn’t sell out Sae-kyung’s past to save his own hide though, and just says that he’s not good enough for her, and that she’ll find someone else who’s right for her.

His father predictably freaks out and smacks him, and rushes back in to try and do damage control in whatever way he can. Please dear Daddy, do not try and put that egg back together again. It took us this long to get it broken.

Back at the coffee shop, Hae-won holds onto Yeon-jae for dear life and cries her heart out. She finally tells her to go, and do whatever she wants. “No matter what you do, I’m on your side.” THANK YOU. Geez, I thought I was gonna have to revoke your BFF card.

Yeon-jae ends up outside Ji-wook’s house, wondering what to do. He calls her and she says she’s outside the house. He tells her he’ll be right there, and she clarifies, “No, not in front of my house…” Helloooo, nurse!

He double-times it home. They greet each other silently with charged looks, and then when they’re standing face to face, she asks, “Do you want to date?” Aw, it’s cute. Like she’s back in high school or something.

He grabs her in a hug, as a tear rolls down his cheek.


Cute. Cute, cute. This drama has a knack for being infuriating, but then solving the source of my anger quickly so that I’m swept along in the ups and downs, but not left stewing over any one thing too long.

It’s a nice balance because with the cancer premise, it could’ve ended up in full-on melodrama territory, with wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the story manages to move along quite nicely without too many Big Misunderstandings, at least not ones that last for more than an episode or two.

I love both boys’ fits of jealousy and each of their growing pains in learning how to express their love (they’re really equally stunted in this respect). And because this story isn’t necessarily about who gets to be with her forever and ever since there IS no forever and ever, I’m looking forward to watching how loving her changes them both for the better.

I like that expecting her to die changes our perspective on the happily-ever-after issue too. Because why are we always so fixated on love having to last forever and a day? Her impending death actually frees her from looking beyond what she wants in the moment, which is beautiful and enviable.

This is one of the reasons why Eun-seok’s love for Yeon-jae is just as interesting a story, and not just pathetic, in light of how it all ends (according to expectation, anyway). His love might be unrequited, but he loves her all the same, and that’s going to change him as much as it changes Ji-wook.

I hope that Yeon-jae gets to spend a good amount of time dating Ji-wook happily before he finds out about her illness. I want to see her fulfill her bucket list with the man she loves, and not in some lame montage either. I want to see her live her last five months as if they were her last fifty years, dancing the whole way.


192 August 20, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 9

by javabeans

With feelings confirmed and out in the open — hence putting to bed the conflict of self-denial — it’s time for the Dreaded Others to step in as antagonist of the day. With the burden of bad guy shifted to meddling others, at least we get some cute, sexy, happy times with our main couple in the brief window of time they get before Yeon-jae’s cancer steps to the fore. And I think that’s gonna happen sooner than later, to my sadness. Why is happiness so fleeting in K-dramaland?


Scent of a Woman OST – “화답” (Response) [ Download ]

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Sae-kyung’s family is taken totally by surprise at Ji-wook’s defection, and while Chairman Kang is trying to slap some sense back into them, the parents wonder what’s going on. Hot-tempered Big Brother is particularly insulted and doesn’t hide it when Chairman Kang returns to the party and hangs his head apologetically. But Chairman Im’s decree puts an end to the potentially squabbling: He tells his family to keep today quiet, and tells Chairman Kang to do what he can to bring Ji-wook back around.

Sae-kyung battles her conflicting desires to speak up out of fairness to Ji-wook, and to keep her mouth shut so as not to incur blame. Ultimately she says nothing while Chairman Kang receives her family’s scorn.

And then, on their way out of the restaurant, Dad collapses, clutching his heart. Ah, that old chestnut.

Ji-wook arrives outside his home and crushes Yeon-jae in a hug, not letting her break the embrace and only letting go once she gasps of not being able to breathe. He asks her to come inside, and at her hesitation he laughs, “What are you imagining?” and tells her he has something to say.

He tells her he called it off with Sae-kyung, and she takes this in quietly and asks why. Her response isn’t as dramatic as he may have expected, and he tells her not to think it was because of her: “I did it because of me. I want to live my life, too.”

His tone is uncertain because of her calm response, so he asks why she asked him out — what if he said no? But that’s moot since he admits he isn’t averse to the idea, and the mood lightens.

A phone call delivers news of Sae-kyung’s father’s collapse, however, cutting this short and taking him to the hospital, where the Im family has already arrived.

The mood is fairly hostile as Sae-kyung’s brother tells Ji-wook’s father to leave, since he’s technically the cause. Perhaps feeling guilt for not speaking up earlier, Sae-kyung steps in and speaks to him more kindly.

Ji-wook arrives just as his father is leaving, and Dad faces him with scorn, telling him to fix this or he’s never speaking to him again.

Chairman Im’s condition isn’t life-threatening; his angina has been aggravated by stress-induced shock, but he’ll be fine soon. Sae-kyung’s brother blames her, though, and reminds her that she’d caused Dad grief with man troubles five years ago, too.

When Ji-wook arrives, Sae-kyung asks why he didn’t use her extorting ex as a reason to take the heat off himself. She’s got tears in her eyes, as though she wishes he hadn’t taken the high road because it’s just easier to hate him than to feel like he’s done her a kindness. Ji-wook says he didn’t use that as an excuse because it had nothing to do with the reason he broke it off.

Both Ji-wook and Sae-kyung spend the night in the hospital room, until Chairman Im wakes in the morning. He asks Ji-wook again about the engagement, giving him a chance to take it back, but Ji-wook replies that he’s sorry.

Sae-kyuung’s bitter that he couldn’t even pretend to reconsider, if only out of consideration for her father’s weakened condition. Ji-wook answers that the marriage wouldn’t happen in any case:

Ji-wook: “There are times when I think my father has even picked out the coffin I’ll lie in when I die. I felt suffocated to death, but I always did as he wanted. But I can’t any longer. I’ve begun to want to live a life of my own, rather than my father’s. Live your own life, too.”

Eun-seok spots the two of them talking and puts two and two together, figuring this is Ji-wook’s fiancee. So when Ji-wook runs into him on his way out, Eun-seok tells him pointedly, “You’re busy this morning. This woman, then that woman. Whichever side you choose, shouldn’t you tie up loose ends quickly?”

Ji-wook tells him he has. Eun-seok’s face registers his surprise (and alarm, poor Dr. Poopy!) when Ji-wook adds that he’s called off the engagement.

Chairman Im isn’t ready to take this lying down, and tells his secretary to apply pressure to Line Tour, “just enough to scare them.” The engagement has advanced so far that any step backward would be a public embarrassment for both sides, so this is really more for saving face than anything. And when you’re a huge conglomerate like Seojin Group, there’s a lotta face needing saving.

Ji-wook is adorably nervous as he works up the nerve to call Yeon-jae, tapping his fingers and fidgeting as he asks her out to dinner. She’s nervous as well, but handles it with more composure, whereas he breathes a sigh of relief so big at her acceptance that you’d think he’d just been granted a stay of execution. So cute.

Hye-won pops out of work to drop by Yeon-jae’s house, bearing health foods for her cancer. She’s happy to hear about the broken engagement, although Yeon-jae feels much more conflicted about it — she’s happy, of course, but uneasy and a little afraid as well.

I can see why Yeon-jae wanted to keep her cancer to herself, given that now Hye-won is overwhelmed with her own feelings of sadness and grief, while Yeon-jae wants to savor her remaining time without the label of Cancer Patient. But it’s not all badness, because at least now she has somebody to cry with her and miss her and understand how precious her time is.

When Hye-won returns to work, Manager Noh makes a sarcastic comment about her extended break, but that doesn’t have its intended effect (of cowing her into submission). Instead, Hye-won bursts out, feeling frustrated at the unfairness of Yeon-jae’s cancer, “This is all your fault! It’s because of the stress you cause!” He’s left scratching his head over why women in that desk always blow up at him, ha.

Suddenly, all the office phones start to ring, with clients canceling plans left and right. Clearly Seojin has swung into action, and Line Tour is forced to jump into emergency meetings to try to make sense of all the chaos.

These aren’t just individual travel packages, but huge deals like partnerships with airlines and hotels. The execs quickly make the connection to Seojin, and guess that there’s trouble in the air with the would-be in-law family.

Sae-kyung remains unaware of her father’s doings as she meets with the Line Tours team for an MOU-related meeting. It’s only when Ji-wook takes her aside to apprise her of the developments that she realizes what Dad has done, with some surprise at the swiftness and magnitude of his actions.

Eun-seok’s boss assigns him to handle Chairman Im, which means there’s a complication that the tests uncovered. A small growth was detected in the chairman’s throat, and while it appears benign at the moment, it must be examined further.

The Line Tour office is swamped with calls, keeping them busy well past closing time. With the employees frantically fielding calls, Ji-wook volunteers to meet one client in person, which means he has to cancel dinner plans with Yeon-jae. To take the sting out of the last-minute cancellation, he jokes that he’s playing hard to get intentionally, to make her miss him.

He takes care of the matter, then comes home late to find his father waiting for him. Chairman Kang tells him to beg forgiveness of Chairman Im immediately and continue with the engagement.

Ji-wook stands up his father, saying that he can’t live by his father’s dictate anymore. Dad blows his lid, yelling that he worked his ass off to build this company, which Ji-wook would ruin in one blow. Ji-wook replies, tears pooling in his eyes, “Do you think I don’t know that? In doing that, you abandoned Mother and me. You were so crazed with work that you didn’t even know she died!” Ji-wook recalls attending her funeral alone, at the tender age of 12, scared to death.

Ji-wook asks his father why he’s changed — he was fine without Seojin Group, building his company from a tiny office with one employee. After such an accomplishment, why is he so dependent on Chairman Im’s strength now? Ji-wook insists that Dad will be fine without Chairman Im’s support — and Ji-wook won’t let the company fall to ruin. “So please, Father, just leave me be.”

Mention of Mom’s death is a sore point, and Dad sits down heavily and says with a sigh, “What could you do? What do you think you can do?”

Yeon-jae goes through the morbid process of guessing how many days she has left to live — 127 or so, she figures — and flips through her bucket list. At the wish about wearing a wedding dress, she imagines marrying Ji-wook in a chapel like the one she saw in Okinawa. Then she shakes her head ruefully and flips ahead to another one: To ride a bicycle along the coast.

Ji-wook texts her from outside her house, continuing the joke about playing hard to get and saying that he’s showing his face to her now so she won’t miss him all night. With that, they send each other cute little goodnight waves as Yeon-jae makes her way (very, very slowly) back inside the house, pausing to look back and wave some more.

With the upcoming travel season fast approaching and all their overseas tours virtually frozen because of Seojin’s power play, Ji-wook decides to turn their attention to domestic travel packages in the pipeline, like Yeon-jae’s Wando tour idea. With other employees too busy to take on the necessary work needed to launch a new campaign, he again volunteers himself and prepares to make the trip.

Chairman Kang hears about Ji-wook’s intention to go to Wando directly and grumbles about the futile endeavor, but it’s worth noting that his dismissal isn’t quite as sneering as before. I suspect we’re going to continue to see Dad express his skepticism, but with his cynicism diminishing as Ji-wook proves him wrong with each mini-victory.

Yeon-jae calls Hye-won out with a birthday cake, her good cheer contrasting with her friend’s heavy mood. In addition to worrying about Yeon-jae’s health, she’s weighed down by the work mess and tells Yeon-jae about the Seojin crisis. Hye-won expresses sympathy for Ji-wook’s burden as he runs around in damage control, heading to Wando alone.

Chairman Im’s endoscopy goes smoothly, and Eun-seok tells the worried family that the growth was removed successfully. He adds that if it had grown, Dad could have been in greater dancer — a fact that big bro ungraciously twists around on Sae-kyung, saying bitterly that it’s great that the problem she caused actually saved him from greater harm. And Daddy loves you too. God, why are you such an ass, spoiled little manboy?

Yeon-jae heads in for her next chemo session, preoccupied with the Seojin crisis and how Ji-wook is running himself ragged trying to fix things. By the time she sits with Eun-seok for their appointment, she has decided she can’t sit by without doing something about it, and asks to push her treatment back two days.

Eun-seok can’t approve the move, telling her that she’s not in a position to delay her sessions. But her mind’s made up, and Yeon-jae rushes out with an apology.

Despite her worries, Ji-wook is actually managing on his own quite well. He charms the Wando contacts, who are thrilled to receive him personally and pleased with the way the travel package showcases their highlights.

Yeon-jae pulls up while he’s out seeing the sights in person, and Ji-wook reacts to her arrival with pleasant surprise. She tells him teasingly that she came because she was afraid he’d give this his usual half-assed — daechoong — attention, and had to make sure her project was carried out properly.

They continue the tour together, from harvesting abalone to scoping out camping sites.

Sae-kyung hears about the chaos at Line Tour and how Ji-ook is trying to salvage the situation. She calls him to say that she’s sorry for the trouble and offers to tell her father the truth once his condition has improved. Ji-wook tells her that he anticipated fallout when he broke the engagement, letting her off the hook, but she says that she wants to repay the debt since he didn’t use her ex as an excuse to cry off.

Just then, Yeon-jae (who’s pitching their tent) cries out in pain after accidentally hitting herself with the hammer, and Sae-kyung narrows her eyes suspiciously. Is he there with Yeon-jae? All of a sudden her calm understanding dissipates and her jealousy rears its head, and she exclaims angrily about being passed over for a woman like that. Ji-wook tells her that it’s none of her concern, and ends the call.

That just makes Sae-kyung fume even more, and she remembers her last meeting with Yeon-jae, when the latter warned her of revenge. Uh-oh. This isn’t going to turn into some big misunderstanding, is it?

Ji-wook and Yeon-jae set up camp and sit together, enjoying the night air. Now that she knows that his actions brought the wrath of Seojin on his company, she hesitantly asks if he regrets breaking the engagement. Ji-wook says merely that if he hadn’t, he’d have even bigger regrets.

In a sharing mood, he tells her that after his mother died, he stopped caring about things: “I didn’t want anything, and nothing was interesting.” But since Dad provided everything, he figured that it made sense that he follow Dad’s orders, including marriage. “But I started thinking that I couldn’t live that way anymore. And the reason for that seems to be you.”

She doesn’t know how to take that — it’s touching, but also a lot to take on — so she nervously babbles that it’s time for her to leave. Hurrying through a muddled goodbye, she stands up to go. Ji-wook grabs her wrist and asks her to stay.

She stays, and they settle down to sleep, albeit separately: Ji-wook sits in his car and Yeon-jae takes the tent. But he’s bored, and keeps calling out to her using the littlest excuses to continue talking.

For instance, he tells her to zip up the tent tightly so bugs won’t get in, just in time for her to spot a beetle crawling across the floor. She shrieks and jumps, so Ji-wook races to the rescue and barges into the tent. Wrapping the teeny widdle bug in his jacket, he tosses the whole thing outside and hurriedly re-zips up the tent, both of them waiting for their racing hearts to calm down from the fright.

Ha. I suppose he couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to end up on the same side of that zipper. Especially since she’s more freaked than he is and tells him not to open the tent again, lest it come back. And you two city slickers are the ones planning a camping project? Isn’t that like a deaf man planning a concert?

With the danger (snerk) passed, Ji-wook’s attention takes a turn and he registers their closeness. He moves in close for a kiss that goes from vertical to horizontal…but hilariously, that sideways move collapses the tent and they roll around clumsily until they break free of the vinyl prison and start bickering about who built what badly and who didn’t help.

In the morning, Yeon-jae emerges from the tent wondering where Ji-wook went, then sees him appear at a distance with two bicycles. He comments about having seen her notes about the bike ride (which just happens to be in her bucket list – another item to check off).

He invites her to join him, although his face falls hilariously when she admits she doesn’t know how to ride.

I’m pretty sure their compromise makes up for that:

Then, it’s time to head home. On their drive back, Ji-wook pulls over at the side of the ride to take a quick look at the bluff, explaining that he’s looking for a particular hill. Most likely it’s the vision he had of the tree where he buried his time capsule with Mom, based on his earlier memory of it.

This isn’t the right spot, though, so he turns to head back. Yeon-jae follows behind him, so he misses seeing the flash of pain when she doubles over and clutches her stomach. He looks back and asks if she’s in pain, but she lies and tells him no.

But it’s not so easily dismissible, especially since she white-knuckles it the entire trip back. Ji-wook asks again about the pain, but she waves it off again, saying that it’s probably just a stomachache and that she’ll be fine soon.

Arriving at her house, she sends him off quickly, not wanting him to see her dealing with the pain that’s becoming harder to hide. They don’t see that Sae-kyung is parked in front, eyeing them with a death glare.

She waits until Ji-wook is gone before approaching Yeon-jae, who is leaning against the gate heavily, doubled over.

Sae-kyung practically breathes hatred as she asks Yeon-jae if this is the revenge she spoke of — stealing her man and wrecking her engagement.


I can’t say I love this Seojin Juggernaut storyline any more than I liked the Wilson one, because it feels like a retread of the big guys bulldozing over our heroes out of snideness. I think there’s plenty of emotion and story to be mined out of the relationships and the resolution of how Yeon-jae lives out her remaining days that I’d rather see that be the focus of the drama, rather than more corporate assholery. Like Eun-seok’s conflict as he watches the woman he loves both finding another man AND dying. Ugh, just punch me in the stomach while you’re at it, will you?

Yeon-jae’s starting to feel pain, which means that the giddy, free-spirited days of Living (capital L) are winding to a close. Well, come to think of it, so are her days of living (lower-case L). With the drama halfway over, it’s probably about time this development showed itself, and it’s true that I wouldn’t want the drama to skimp too much on showing the cancer part, because as painful as that would be to watch, it gives her conflict stakes and heft. But now the ticking clock is really making itself heard, and it makes me nervous and sad.

On the upside, the onset of her symptoms makes it harder for Yeon-jae to keep her condition a secret. And while I do understand her reasons for wanting to keep it to herself — she doesn’t want to be treated like a Cancer Patient, and she wants to enjoy what remains of her life without being defined by illness — I do think it’s frustrating that she withholds it using the argument that they wouldn’t be able to handle the truth. It’s one of those staples of self-sacrificing, silently suffering K-drama heroines that drives me up a wall, because even if you’re right, you’ve stripped people of the ability to react, to prepare themselves, to say the things they want/need/hope to say before the ultimate goodbye. Yes, it’s your right to the kind of death you want, just as it’s your right to live the kind of life you want, and it’s your right to be selfish. And it’s my right to hate to the fiery death the kinds of heroines who use that line of thinking.


285 August 21, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 10

by girlfriday

Hurray for a plot that knows when to kick it into high gear. I worried at how closely this drama might follow the old-school melodrama recipe – heavy on the angst, double dose of misunderstandings, dash of happy just before death – and I’m happy to find that it plays with the conventions enough to keep things moving quickly and exceed my expectations. Though Yeon-jae stays true to the long-suffering heroine type, the hero breaks out of the mold enough to push us past familiar territory.


Yeon-jae doubles over in pain as Sae-kyung walks up, asking if this is her idea of revenge. She tells Yeon-jae that it doesn’t matter what she does to seduce him, because “Like marry like.” Gross.

Yeon-jae tosses back, “I don’t care what happens in a few months’ time. Today, right now, my feelings are most important.” She says that if Ji-wook wants to meet her, she will, because she wants to see him too.

Sae-kyung scoffs in disbelief, asking if this means she won’t give up. She tells her that if it were anyone else but her (she says it like, a thing like you), she might’ve let it go, but now she’s going to get her revenge.

Aaaargh. I suppose this at least provides her with some pointed motivation for meddling, since second leads so often do so for no logical reason. It still drives me batty, but I guess incendiary jealousy is better than “because I can”?

As soon as she leaves, Yeon-jae crumples to the ground in pain. Oh crap.

Thankfully, at the same time, Eun-seok is waiting for Yeon-jae to show up for her postponed chemo session, and he finally can’t take it any longer and calls to yell at her. He asks what could possibly be more important than her cancer treatment, and tells her to get her ass over to the hospital.

Tears streaming down her face, she finally ekes out, “Eun-seok-ah, it hurts.” He springs into action and gets an ambulance to bring her to the hospital, and runs out to meet her. She doesn’t look good.

He calls out her name to try and get a response, and she finally opens her eyes, “Eun-seok-ah, I think this time… it isn’t constipation.” HA. He yells at her for joking at a time like this. I love that she’s the kind of person who will make jokes to cope, while he remains humorless.

Eun-seok runs tests and finds that her tumor has grown. Oh no, that doesn’t shrink her already short time left, does it? He watches over her as she sleeps.

Her phone rings with calls from Ji-wook, and Eun-seok decides to reject the first call and then pick up the second. He tells Ji-wook that Yeon-jae can’t come to the phone right now, and Ji-wook freaks out at the man answering her phone late at night.

He asks who it is, and then guesses right away that it’s “her doctor friend.” Eun-seok just repeats that she’s not in a situation where she can answer the phone, and hangs up and shuts off her phone.

Haha. I love that there was absolutely no reason for him to answer the call to tell him NOT to call, but he does it purely out of petty rivalry. It sends Ji-wook’s head spinning, of course.

Yeon-jae dreams of her tent-toppling kiss with Ji-wook and wakes up with a smile on her face. Aw. Eun-seok is standing over her bed, and when she expresses relief that she suffered a complication and that she’ll be okay with treatment, he flips out at her again.

He tells her that there’s to be no more of this postponing chemo, and running around doing whatever it is she thought was more important. He basically tells her to get her head on straight, and adds that it’s time to tell her mother.

She refuses, of course, not wanting to make the people around her suffer, least of all Mom. Eun-seok asks what she plans to do then, just suffer alone? What happens when she’s hurting and no one is there for her?

Yeon-jae turns to him: “I have you. When I’m hurting, you’ll be there.” Aw, that kills me because it’s true on so many levels – because he’s her doctor, because he’s her friend, and because he’s in love with her. GAH. Just stab me and get it over with. Watching Dr. Poopypants be the stalwart friend by her side while hiding his ever-breaking heart is surely going to kill me first.

To his credit, Eun-seok tells her that “that man” called last night. She sees that he called all night long, and screws up the nerve to call him. He’s sitting at his desk unable to concentrate on anything, and lights up at her call. I love that after all that self-denial, he’s so transparent now.

He asks why Eun-seok answered her phone, why they were together so late, and what could possibly be a situation in which she can’t come to the phone but he’s answering for her. I really wish we could’ve entertained his horror-filled imagination with situations that fit the bill.

She tells him that she’s at the hospital… but lies that it’s because of her mom, and everything’s fine now. He breathes a sigh of relief and asks her to dinner that night, and she uses his line back at him, that it’s her turn to play him hot and cold so that he misses her. He smiles and relents, but makes her promise to answer her phone at all times.

Sae-kyung’s tactic for holding onto Ji-wook is basically all daddy-related, as she makes the rounds from her father to his father, trying to keep that engagement ball still up in the air.

Eun-seok braces himself to see Yeon-jae off, but doesn’t tell her about the tumor’s growth. She busies herself with makeup and asks if she looks sick, and he tells her with a smile that she doesn’t.

She apologizes for making him worry and promises to get her treatments on time and listen to him from now on. Well, at least she’s making baby steps out of denial land.

Yeon-jae comes home and uses Hye-won as a cover with Mom. She wonders if something serious is going on with Hye-won, but doesn’t push it, excited to show Yeon-jae the sprout from one of their plants that was broken and dying.

She looks at it with wonder, comforted by the symbolism, as Mom decides that it means good things are going to happen.

Ji-wook’s presentation on the Wando trip goes over well, or as well as begrudging acceptance gets you, and Yeon-jae calls to make a date, to give him something. He attempts to make her dinner, but when he announces that he’s going to make squid noodles, she has to point out the fact that he forgot to buy the squid.

He hangs his head in embarrassment, and announces that dinner will now consist of veggie fried rice. Heh. He cuts his finger while trying to hack at vegetables, and like a little boy, he just sticks his finger out at her.

She looks at him, wondering what he’s doing, and he mimes the thing that all moms do – blowing on a wound to make it all better. She laughs and shyly blows on his finger, and gives it a kiss.

But of course Dad chooses that exact moment to walk in the door. He doesn’t even seem surprised, so this is what Sae-kyung must’ve visited him to say earlier that day. Shouting at the top of his lungs, Dad asks if dating a “woman like that” was the reason he broke off the engagement.

Belittling her in all of the classic evil classist in-law ways, he declares that even if he dates this woman, they’ll never be able to marry. He adds that Ji-wook can do what he wants with her, but he’ll still have to marry Sae-kyung. To Dad she’s even more of an angel now that she’s stepped in to stop her father from further damaging their company.

Ji-wook tells him that that’s absurd, and that he’ll continue to see Yeon-jae. Dad tells Yeon-jae not to even dream of marriage and storms out. Wow, he managed to insult her age, class, character, and work ethic all in one blow. That’s some efficient evil daddying.

They both reel from the visit but try to ignore the giant elephant in the room. Yeon-jae gives Ji-wook her gift, the new sprout from her plant that she repotted, and puts it on a shelf.

She’s trying her damnedest to put on a brave front and he knows it. When she has her back turned to him, he walks up and backhugs her tenderly. He whispers, “I’m sorry,” and tears stream down her face.

He turns her around and tells her not to think weird thoughts because of his father, and she nods, understanding what he means. Despite the fact that she doesn’t intend to marry him because she isn’t going to live that long, it doesn’t stop her heart from breaking at being rejected by his family.

The next morning he goes to Sae-kyung right away to ask what her deal is, stepping in to save his company like that. She tells him that she wanted to do it for him, and says that she hasn’t given up on him yet. He doesn’t understand, having made his intentions clear, but she just tells him that they’ll be seeing a lot of each other for work.

Yeon-jae spends her time in the coming days looking for that hill that Ji-wook’s been searching for. He told her that he hid something there with his mother but can’t manage to find the right place, so she goes through her research from her years at the travel agency, looking for his hill.

She finally finds one that she thinks might be the right hillside, and takes him there. He tells her skeptically that he’s searched for over ten years, and she reminds him that she’s spent those years working as a scout for a travel company and tells him to trust her.

They walk up to the top of the hill, and come upon a giant tree at the top. He stumbles closer to it in awe, as his memories come flooding back. He starts digging feverishly and Yeon-jae joins him, and he finally uncovers his time capsule.

He takes it out of the ground, overwhelmed with emotion. He tells Yeon-jae that he and his mother buried it there and he promised to come open it when he turned twenty. “But I couldn’t keep that promise. I forgot this place. And my mother, who did remember it, was no longer in this world.”

Trembling, he opens it up and finds an array of toys, and a letter from his mother. She wonders if he’s all grown up now, and if he’s found someone to love. She writes that she’d be happy if he came to read this letter with the person that he loves.

She tells him not to hate his father too much, since he’s making sacrifices for their family, and she writes that even in that moment, she loves his father, and loves him too.

He breaks down and weeps at his mother’s words, and Yeon-jae puts her arms around him and comforts him as he cries.

He tells her about his youth, he and his mother always left alone, even after Dad had come back to move them up to Seoul and into a fancy house. He thought they’d finally be happy, but Dad just continued to be away. One day Mom had asked him to go to the grocery store, and he ignored her because he was busy playing games, and that’s the last impression he left, because she died of a car accident that day.

In tears, he tells her that he decided that was the last time he’d ever send someone off like that again. Ruh-roh. You’re putting him back in that exact situation. But it does mean that he’ll have the chance to do things differently with her, once he does find out.

On their way back, Yeon-jae struggles with pain and rushes to take her medicine in secret. While he waits, he sees her bucket list notebook with her Junsu picture sticking out of it, and laughs to see that she carries the picture around like an adorable fangirl.

He flips through the first few pages of the bucket list and sees a few of the things on the list like making Mom smile and learning to tango. He smiles, assuming that it’s the normal kind of bucket list that people make to try new things, not the dying kind.

One of the ones he finds is “To live for a day like a heroine in a movie,” and smiles as he ponders it.

Yeon-jae goes to see Eun-seok the next day, after struggling with pain all night. She tells him that the painkillers aren’t working anymore, and asks worriedly if something’s wrong. She can feel that she’s not the same as before, and asks for the truth.

He braces himself, and finally tells her that her tumor has grown, and that he’s planning to adjust her treatment accordingly. She asks if she’s going to make it to the end of her five months.

He doesn’t answer, and she asks again angrily, tears spilling out. He answers back in frustration that this is why he told her that nothing is more important than her treatment.

She comes home to find Mom hurriedly drying the laundry in the yard before cranky landlord gets home. She asks how Mom felt when Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Not knowing Yeon-jae’s intentions, she says the exact wrong thing – that it was torture to know when the person you loved was going to die. That it felt like someone hammered a nail into her living heart, and then day by day, hammered it in just one centimeter more.

Oh no. I don’t doubt that it was true, but couldn’t Mom have picked a different way to tell it, like she was glad to have the time to send him off without regret?

Ji-wook adorably asks the women in his office about this living-as-a-movie-heroine thing, and he nods at the makeover shopping spree idea, but doesn’t like the two men fighting over her idea. It’s so cute that he’s doing research.

Hye-won asks why he’s interested in this, and he lies that he thought it might be helpful for a trip package he’s working on. Uh-huh.

Yeon-jae thinks about Ji-wook’s decade of regret over never having told his mother that he loved her before she died. She gets so lost in thought that she ends up at the end of the line in the bus depot, with the driver having to tell her to get out.

Hye-won calls, and over drinks she angsts over getting her first marriage proposal, only she’s come to find out that the guy is poor. This time it’s Yeon-jae’s turn to be a terrible friend, because she just gives her half-assed advice like, “Don’t marry him then,” followed with the equally blank, “Then marry him.”

Hye-won calls her out for her thoughtless answers, throwing back that she doesn’t understand her worries, dating someone like Ji-wook. Yeon-jae spills her angst in turn – what’s the point of dating someone like him? Will she be able to marry him, or have children? She reminds her that she has none of that to look forward to, and storms out.

Hye-won catches up to her outside and apologizes for her shortsighted comments, and Yeon-jae finally confronts the source of her angst.

Yeon-jae: What do I do? What do I do about that person? I must’ve been crazy. There’s nothing I can do for him. I can’t even stay by his side. I shouldn’t have fallen for him. I shouldn’t have confessed. I shouldn’t have accepted his heart. I didn’t think. I was so crazy about him. When I die, how he’ll be… I didn’t think. What do I do now?

She breaks free and walks away, tears still streaming down her face. It’s nice to finally witness her confronting the fact that she’s started a love with only one thought, only to realize that she never considered the back end – what happens to him once she’s gone.

Eun-seok takes Malbok-ie for a walk, smiling to himself as he thinks back to the day that Yeon-jae brought him over. Just then, she appears right in his path, still crying.

She comes right up to him pleading, “Eun-seok-ah, save me. Save me. You’re a doctor, so you can save me.” She falls to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably as she says over and over, “I want to live. I want to live.”

Ack, she breaks my heart. Eun-seok struggles to hold back his tears. He crouches down to the ground and puts his hand on her shoulder, comforting her as she cries.

He drives her home and tells her that maybe she should tell Ji-wook the truth. Yes, you really should listen to Poopy-seok about most things. But of course she refuses, saying that it’s better if he doesn’t know, since they’re bound to break up anyway. Aaaargh.

Ji-wook watches Pretty Woman and Roman Holiday, taking notes for his big movie heroine project like a big dork. Yeon-jae thinks over his confession about his mother, and braces herself as she makes a decision. Oh, why do I have a feeling this is your stupid noble idiot turn we’re about to take?

She calls and asks, voice trembling, if he has time tomorrow. He answers in his trademark goofy, “Tomorrow, I’m sorry… yes I do!” They make plans for a date. Aargh, it’s already breaking my heart that she’s planning to break up with him while he’s watching Pretty Woman for ideas.

He waits for her outside the next day, and she comes up with a wave. Ji-wook: “I have a present for you…” He presents his face: “Me.” Pffft.

They stroll along with ice cream cones, and he holds her hand with glee. Out of the blue, he attacks her dress with his ice cream, and then oh-so-casually decides he’ll have to buy her another one. HA. This is your attempt to be Richard Gere? So funny.

I love that he tries so hard to couch it in real-world motivation, with the ice cream attack. So off they go to a fancy boutique, where he tells the manager that he spilled ice cream on his girlfriend’s dress so he’ll be buying her replacements, and many many of them at that. He presents his credit card with panache.

It cracks me up that he’s enjoying this more than she is. She tries on a few dresses and he shakes his head no, following the script, until she comes out in a dress that makes him slack-jawed.

On their way out, he asks disappointedly why she only bought one dress, apparently having failed at the spree part of shopping spree. They come across a flower vendor on the street, and she starts to tell him that she has something to say…

But he interrupts her, saying that maybe the dress is missing something, and purposely backs up right into a bucket full of red roses, knocking them all over. He does the whole – Aw shucks, guess I have to buy them all now – and smiles at his genius plan.

Hee. Your attempt to be suave is so awesomely un-suave in every way.

So they head to the river (Oh no, mistake!) and he waits awkwardly for something to start that isn’t starting. She starts to say that she has to tell him something, but he tells her to say it later, and runs off to make a call.

He tells somebody on the phone to start in two minutes, and puts a headphone in her ear, saying that he knows she likes Junsu’s songs. They listen to the song together and he tells her that something amazing is about to happen.

And this time, on cue, fireworks go off over the river. She asks starry-eyed if he prepared all this for her. He’s a little disappointed as he asks if she noticed, and she confesses that she caught on a long time ago.

He leans in for a kiss as the fireworks go off overhead. A tear falls from her eye, and once the sky clears it’s like she comes back down to earth. She struggles to keep back the tears.

He takes out a ring box and opens it up. Inside is a kid’s blue plastic ring, and he tells her that he remembered this ring that he found inside the time capsule. He had put it in there as a kid, intending to someday give it to the person he loved. “I think I’ve found its owner.” Gah, why is he so perfect?

He takes her hand and says, “Stay by my side for a long, long time,” and takes the ring to put on her finger.

But she curls up her hand to stop him. She sighs and tells him that she can’t accept it. She tells him that she doesn’t want to see him anymore. Stunned, he asks why all of a sudden… and asks if maybe it’s because of his father.

She uses that as her excuse and through her tears, she says that she thought about it and realized that she didn’t need to hear those things from his father and suffer that kind of abuse.

She pulls her hand away from his, and he calls her timing cruel. Dude, you never should have brought her to the Han River. That was your first big mistake. She tells him that she’s not going to feel burdened about it, since he said that breaking off his engagement wasn’t about her, but about himself.

And with that, she gets up and leaves.

Unable to accept it, he chases after her and tells her that he’ll do whatever it takes to turn his father around. But she tells him that she doesn’t want to see him anymore. He apologizes, thinking he’s done something to make her angry, and grasps at straws.

He tells her to rest and that they’ll talk tomorrow, but she shuts him down again and leaves in a cab.

Eun-seok waits all evening for Yeon-jae to show up at the hospital, staying past his shift and pacing back and forth. She finally arrives, in a daze.

Eun-seok rushes up to her, and she tells him tearfully: “I hate myself. I really really hate the fact that I have cancer. Because I’m this kind of person… The fact that I can’t even love… I hate it like crazy.”

She drops her roses, and then collapses to the ground.

Ji-wook calls over and over again, to no avail, so he shows up at her house the next morning. He asks Mom if Yeon-jae is home, and Mom says that she’s away on a work trip. He’s obviously confused at the answer, he doesn’t press it.

He goes to work and asks the planning team if they asked Yeon-jae for her help again, but the manager says no. He asks Hye-won if she knows where Yeon-jae is, but she lies that she hasn’t talked to her in ages, and runs off.

He has a hunch so he follows her outside, and overhears part of her phone call to Yeon-jae that she’s nervous about being found out, and that she’s on her way to see her. He decides to follow her. Oh, awesome.

He tails her all the way to the hospital, and walks a few paces behind her. He looks up at the sign and stops cold as he realizes they’re in the cancer ward.

He watches as Hye-won walks into one of the rooms. He walks down the hall with determination and dread, half marching forward, half sinking backwards in fear. He stops in front of the door and looks over at the patient’s name written on the outside: Lee Yeon-jae.

He trembles as he raises his hand to the door…

Eun-seok’s voice calls out his name. Ji-wook turns to see him and asks, “Is the Lee Yeon-jae here the Lee Yeon-jae I know?”


Oh thank goodness he knows. Yay for speedy developments! I knew the noble idiocy was going to rear its ugly head, but I didn’t expect that he’d find out the reason for it so soon after. I’m so very pleased that he only had to spend one night thinking that she didn’t love him, because there’s so much real angst to be had with her dying, that it seems silly to waste time on fake angst from her stupid plan to push him away to spare him pain. Why do people still do that? That never works, people. That’s like telling someone with a mack truck headed straight for them to think happy thoughts, instead of getting them out of the goddamn way.

I liked the developments in this episode, because while I’m actually one of those people who’s okay with Yeon-jae making supremely selfish choices in light of her condition, I still wanted her to acknowledge the fallout from doing so. I don’t need her to be heroic or noble, and in fact I prefer her to be realistically selfish, but it’s time she faced the shitstorm she’s sitting in, and confronted the consequences of her choices.

The still stupid part is her decision to break up with him, since that doesn’t actually stop him from suffering (see: mack truck, above). But clearly, the drama knows what it’s doing in letting her make the attempt to break it off and having him so quickly discover the truth, just as the drama’s second half gets going in earnest. I know it would’ve been nice if she had actually chosen to tell him the truth, but it’s consistent with her character that she thought this was for the best. Oh that I could beat the long-suffering heroine out of you. Thankfully all that really matters is that he knows now, which changes the whole game.


142 August 27, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 11

by javabeans

This drama is playing havoc with my man-loyalties. One second my heart bleeds for heartbroken Ji-wook, and the other second it’s cheering on adorable Eun-seok. The drama has the curious ability to make me root for whichever character it’s focusing on in any given moment…only to have those desires flip the other way once the scene shifts to the other character. It’s wonderful, and horrible.


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Standing outside Yeon-jae’s hospital room, Ji-wook asks Eun-seok to confirm whether it’s cancer. He refuses to move until he hears the answer, threatening to step inside and ask her himself if Eun-seok doesn’t tell him.

Inside, Hye-won visits with Yeon-jae, asking how she’s holding up through her chemo treatments, as well as how long Yeon-jae will hide this from Ji-wook. Yeon-jae says she broke it off with him before he could find out about her cancer; she couldn’t leave him with a huge scar just so she could be happy while she’s alive.

Eun-seok doesn’t give away any details about Yeon-jae’s condition (finally, a K-dramaland doctor who cares about doctor-patient confidentiality!). He doesn’t even say whether the cancer guess is correct, only that the patient is indeed Yeon-jae. Eun-seok warns that if Ji-wook thinks he can’t handle the truth, he’d best shut the lid on that Pandora’s box and walk away.

Ji-wook leaves in a daze and thinks back to all of Yeon-jae’s comments about dying that he’d overlooked before, which now make sense — like how her Okinawa vacation might be her last. Yeon-jae may have hid the truth from people, but she’s actually been quite frank in her mentions of death — it’s just that people assumed she was being figurative.

After taking his time to contemplate the situation — and, I suspect, asking himself whether he can handle knowing — Ji-wook heads back to the hospital with new determination. He enters the grounds just in time to come face to face with Yeon-jae and gets straight to the point, asking what her condition is, and if it’s the reason she broke things off.

She confirms the cancer, and that she found out before meeting him. Ji-wook asks, hurt and accusatory, “And you still approached me? Then why did you change your mind now?” She answers that she only has a few months left to live: “Do you think you can handle me in this situation? So go.”

Struggling with his tears, he grits out, “Then you should never have approached me in the first place. You should have told me this before I fell so crazy in love with you!” She says, “I didn’t know that would happen.”

He calls her cruel, adding, “I hate myself like crazy for liking you.” With that, he leaves and heads to The Place Of All Brooding, the Han River, which I am convinced must have grown to its size purely from the tears of all its visitors throughout time.

Chairman Im tells Sae-kyung that per her wishes, he’s backed off his assault on Line Tour. Sae-kyung finally confesses a more rounded version of the truth (though still incomplete): That Ji-wook found out about her blackmailing ex, but refrained from mentioning it when he broke the engagement.

Dad understands that this makes it much less likely that Ji-wook will change his mind, but Sae-kyung asks to handle this herself, because marrying him is better than finding someone altogether new. (Ah, how romantic! “I’m too lazy to find a new fiancé!”) But she also betrays a sign of her own developing feelings by admitting, “I don’t dislike him.”

Eun-seok finds Yeon-jae listless in bed, having skipped all her meals today. She tells him dully that she told Ji-wook the truth: “It’s all over now.”

Now that the truth is out, Eun-seok tells Ji-wook that he hopes he’ll stay with her, because he’s worried for her. Ji-wook faces him with a mix of irritation and male pride, asking if the fanmeeting story about his first love is true.

Eun-seok doesn’t understand Ji-wook’s sudden change of heart, reminding him that he liked her enough to call off his engagement. Ji-wook admits that he’s not sure he has it in him to watch a woman die, and says he’s regretting his choice now — that if he knew about Yeon-jae’s cancer, he wouldn’t have “done something as stupid as call off the engagement.” Oof. And ouch. He’s not wrong when he says he’d be losing a lot of things for the sake of a few months together, but it sounds callous nonetheless. He tells Eun-seok to step in and be with her instead, both as doctor and the guy who’s been in love with her all this time.

Poor Poopypants — you get the sense that he’d give his eyeteeth for the chance Ji-wook is tossing aside, but he knows that swapping out men is hardly the same thing to Yeon-jae. I think that’s what kills me about his character — he’s always thinking of her first, though not in a stupidly noble way.

Eun-seok challenges Ji-wook, asking if he means it. Ji-wook leaves without answering, so Eun-seok follows him out to warn him not to come ’round no more: “You don’t have the right to be with her.”

To the liquor bottle it is. Eun-seok’s last words land with him, and Ji-wook seems upset with himself for proving that statement true.

Hee-joo bounces into the room to begin her own set of treatments, just as Yeon-jae’s about to be released. She confides that she was so inspired by Yeon-jae’s bucket list that she started a list of her own, including confessing to her crush on Eun-seok. She may have been instantly rebuffed, but she cheerily says that she intends to keep trying until she’s successful.

Next, Yeon-jae turns her attention to Item #14 on her bucket list: Ask for forgiveness from “S.” Apparently this is a long-standing grievance, and Hye-won wonders why she’s curious about “teacher” all of a sudden, advising her not to look him up. I smell a misunderstanding, because Hye-won is under the impression that the teacher was in the wrong, while Yeon-jae feels the need to make amends.

Yeon-jae asks if Hye-won decided on her proposal, and Hye-won sighs that she’s not sure, but that because of Yeon-jae’s comments, she’s reconsidering. While I totally get why Yeon-jae snapped at her previously — Hye-won’s concerns skewed largely materialistic — I can also see why Hye-won’s torn, because she feels that marrying this guy would be settling. She’s coming around, though, and is starting to look more favorably on him.

Hee-joo ducks to see Eun-seok in the hospital and tries to slide past him unseen, recalling that their last encounter ended with him yelling at her (for her webtoon, which she has pulled offline). Today, however, he asks to talk with her, to her delight, and she’s happy to answer his question of how a cancer patient would prefer to be treated. (Aw. Again Poopypants warms my heart.) She says that pity and sympathy are to be avoided, and that the most comforting comments she received were the normal ones, the ones that treated her the same as usual.

Despite her date offer going ignored, Hee-joo sighs happily that this feels like a date — it’s the longest they’ve ever talked together. Well, without him insulting her or yelling, I’m sure.

Mom notes Yeon-jae’s weight loss and looks at her suspiciously…then asks if she’s dating. Who was that good-looking man who came looking for her? Yeon-jae says he was just her old boss, wanting to drop the subject, and kicks Mom out of her room to receive a phone call. Mom tries to eavesdrop, suspecting a call from a man, but hears nothing.

It’s Eun-seok, who’s waiting outside and psyching himself up by telling himself, “Treat her normally, like usual.” He reminds her that tonight is tango class, and that she promised to be his partner. They stumble through new steps, with Yeon-jae distracted and fumbling the moves.

Chairman Kang drops by to check in on Ji-wook, clucking disapprovingly to see him in bed, hungover, the signs of his bender strewn around the house. Assuming that women troubles are the cause, Dad issues the ol’ “I told you so” and tells him that it was obvious things weren’t going to work out with someone of such a different class — might as well be caste, as far as he’s concerned — and that Ji-wook ought to nip it in the bud and come to his senses.

Ji-wook dully asks him to please leave him alone, and heads into the shower, fully clothed, lost in his misery.

The tango class goes for drinks after the lesson, and Yeon-jae zones out, thinking of her sizzling tango with Ji-wook while the others pout that he isn’t coming back to class. With Eun-seok’s dance performance just a week away, instructor Veronica offers to choreograph the steps and tells the pair to come by every day to practice.

Afterward, Eun-seok takes Yeon-jae back to their old school, making her smile in reminiscence. She thinks the reason he remembers it is because of his traumatic pants-pooping incident, but he tells her with a smile that there’s something he hasn’t been able to tell her for 25 years: “Thank you, that day. If you hadn’t taken off the sweater you were wearing and tied it around my waist, I might not have been able to make it home.”

He cheerily challenges her to a race, reminding her of how she used to poke fun at him for being so slow, and he draws a starting line in the dirt.

And…they’re off! He easily outpaces her and exclaims that he’s winning, but trips over his feet halfway through, letting her claim victory. He smiles up at her and acknowledges her win, while she jumps up and down in glee.

As they sit outside the school, Yeon-jae confides that there’s somebody she needs to ask forgiveness from, but has no idea how to locate the person. Eun-seok offers to show her how, and guides her to a particular function on her smartphone, telling her that she can ask a question, and people will respond with advice. (Think Yahoo Answers.)

Ji-wook visits the grave of his mother, asking her what he ought to do. Haltingly, he confesses, “I’m afraid. I’m so scared of having to say goodbye to someone, like with you. But…she’s probably even more scared, isn’t she?”

In the morning, Yeon-jae is awakened by a call from Ji-wook, which she doesn’t answer. But he stands outside her gate until she comes out, and tells her that he can’t break up with her: “I don’t care what sickness you have, or how long you have to live. I want to be with you.”

She tells him flatly that she doesn’t want him with her, and that he ought to go find someone he can be happy with for many years to come. He counters, “But you don’t care if you have to be unhappy?”

She says bitterly that it’s only for a few months. Ouch — she’s used his own words, which basically treat her like she’s already dead, like those months are so few in number they don’t even count. She tells him she doesn’t want to show him her dying process, and sends him away.

As she steps away, he cries and tells her, “I love you.”

She’s not unmoved, but she won’t let herself weaken yet and tells him that his love is a burden. Once inside the gate, she allows herself to sob silently, just feet away from a devastated Ji-wook.

Chairman Kang assures Sae-kyung in his smug, premature way that Ji-wook’s women complications are at an end. He calls Ji-wook a soft-hearted boy who fell prey to the manipulating female’s wiles, saying that there’s a difference between love and pity. Funny how he knows that, despite appearing unacquainted with either emotion.

Ji-wook returns to his time capsule tree, where he writes Yeon-jae a text message to tell her he has re-buried the old ring, intending to keep it there until she takes him back. Telling her that it’s been there 20 years and can stay there another 100, he asks, “But please don’t make me wait that long.” Yeon-jae cries as she reads the message.

Sae-kyung calls Yeon-jae to meet, which works for Yeon-jae snice she has something to say as well. Sae-kyung asks right off the bat whether it’s true she’s broken up with Ji-wook. On top of everything else that princess hates about Yeon-jae, she’s particularly incensed that the woman who “stole” her fiancé was so quick to then break up with him.

Asked if this was all her revenge, Yeon-jae replies, “Yeah, I guess so.” Agreeing that Ji-wook is to be pitied, Yeon-jae tells Sae-kyung to comfort him: “You two seem like you’d be good together. You’re just right for him. You’re rich, young, pretty — and healthy.”

She has one more thing to say: “Have a son and a daughter that resemble Kang Ji-wook, and live happily for a long, long time. That’s what I wanted to say.” And she gets up and leaves.

Eun-seok actually inquires after a patient’s condition with consideration for once, then finds his feet sliding in a tango walk as he heads down the hallway. Looking around to ensure he’s alone, he closes his eyes and lifts his hands to guide an imaginary partner, practicing the steps replete with turns and slides. Omg. I am so in love with you right now, you dorkypants.

He finishes and smiles, only to find he’s not so much alone anymore. Hee-joo flashes him a great big thumbs-up, while the nurse looks gobsmacked. Eun-seok whirls around, cringes all the way down to his soul, and hurries away.

Over the next few days, Eun-seok and Yeon-jae continue their private sessions with Ramses and Veronica, and enough of the rumors have spread that even the hospital patients wish him luck for the upcoming performance.

Ji-wook and his team go out to celebrate the Wando tour project, which is looking like it’ll be a hit. The ladies fawn over Ji-wook for leading the project, while Hye-won speaks up to say that technically, Yeon-jae should be here since it was her idea.

Hye-won clocks Ji-wook’s reaction carefully as she offers to call her, but Ramses/Bong-gil pipes up that Yeon-jae’s awfully busy these days, practicing tango nightly for the hospital show with that Schweitzer fellow. He’s forgotten that Ji-wook is the only one who knows of his secret identity, and upon realizing the slip, he fumbles that he heard the news somewhere.

Meanwhile, Ji-wook drowns his sorrows in drink, to the extent that a designated driver is called to take him home. He finds the car in front of Yeon-jae’s house, however, and is told that he’d given this address as his direction.

Ji-wook steps outside for a moment to look out at the house, just as Mom walks up to the gate and recognizes him. Telling him that Yeon-jae should be home, she offers to call her out, but he declines and gets back into the car with his driver.

Mom hurries inside to tell Yeon-jae that the “kkot-minam” (pretty flower boy) came back, prodding for juicy details. Yeon-jae brushes it aside with vague denials, though it does nothing to change Mom’s mind.

Yeon-jae checks the question she’d posted online about her old high school teacher, and finds a response from one of her classmates saying that he runs a bakery in her neighborhood. She calls Eun-seok to tell him the good news, and that she’ll drop by to see the teacher before their performance later.

Yeon-jae makes her way to the store, working up her courage to approach the man at the counter. It’s clear from his cool reception that he remembers her, and not in a good way. Averting his gaze, he tells her he’d like her to leave: “I don’t want to look at your face.” Eep! Whatever she did, it must’ve been a doozy.

Eun-seok finds her in low spirits outside the hospital. She says that forgiveness seems unlikely, and asks while on the verge of tears, “Why is this so hard? I don’t have much longer to live — why is it so difficult?”

Eun-seok looks at her with sympathy, then says in his usual matter-of-fact way (which I love) that she’d once told him about meeting an old man when she’d been feeling utterly alone, and that dancing the tango with him had provided her with comfort: “Tonight, will you think of me as that old man?” Aww, that is so sweet, it brings tears to my eyes. He pats her shoulder consolingly, and she leans on him.

Ji-wook and Sae-kyung have a business meeting, after which she suggests having dinner together. He flatly rejects the offer, but she assures him that she’s asking as a Seojin Group executive — it’s not a personal date.

Over dinner, the mood is actually cordial between them and Sae-kyung says she’s glad to see him looking okay, because she was heartbroken for quite a while after her failed romance.

He replies that his father must have told her about his breakup, adding that Dad has jumped to conclusions. But she says that she heard it from Yeon-jae, who essentially gave her her blessing to pursue a relationship with him. A shocker to Ji-wook, who’s hurt by the blow.

At the hospital show, Eun-seok and Yeon-jae await their turn backstage, and he breathes uneasily as he admits that he wants to run away. When his turn arrives, he nervously takes his place onstage and leads Yeon-jae into the dance.

After the initial sequence, they both start to smile and enjoy the show, performing to loud cheers and an enthusiastic response.

Halfway through, Ji-wook arrives in the auditorium and watches the tango, his expression reflecting his turmoil. After they exit the stage, Ji-wook follows the couple outside, and arrives just as Yeon-jae assures Eun-seok that she feels good, despite the physical strain.

Ji-wook butts right in and tells Eun-seok to leave them alone, leading to another brief glare-off until Yeon-jae tells Eun-seok it’s okay.

Eun-seok reluctantly steps aside, though not out of earshot, as Ji-wook asks one last time: “What is it you want? Is it for me to leave you?” She nods and replies, “Yes.”

Frustrated but with no other recourse, Ji-wook has to comply: “You’re saying that it can’t work. Fine, I’ll do as you want. I won’t see you again.”

He walks off, and she watches his departure tearfully.


Over the years, we’ve had second leads who’ve been ineffectual (you know, the ones with no shot in hell but who cling and interfere and cling some more) and those who’ve been so engaging they overshadow the hero. For me, the most appealing scenario, from a storytelling perspective, is when the hero and the second lead are equally matched.

A recent example of this is Best Love, where Pil-joo (Yoon Kye-sang) was so sweet and adorable that you couldn’t help feel a little crushed for him when he didn’t win his love. But I recall reading a particular comment back in the shipping debates of that show that sums up the conflict succinctly: A person can’t deserve someone’s love more than someone else. It’s sort of the nature of the beast, that love is given freely and without condition, regardless of whether you’ve “earned” or “deserved” it.

And that’s usually enough for me to concede to the OTP, aka the two that were set up to be our main couple. If she loves the hero, who am I to wish otherwise? Yet what works especially well in Scent of a Woman is that I think she does love Eun-seok, too, in a different way. He’s not just a handsome man who developed feelings for her while she was off falling in love with another guy; he’s her friend and moral support, her confidant and guide. Moreover, he’s the guy she leans on when she can’t lean on the hero. So my heart twists just a little extra for this guy, especially every time he puts his own feelings aside to do what she needs or wants. Gah, just kill me now, why don’t you.

As for Ji-wook: I like that the drama had him go through the betrayed, accusatory phase — asking, How could she approach him knowing full well of her condition? — before he decides he loves Yeon-jae anyway. I admit feeling that same mix of sympathy and irritation with her for that, and while ultimately I’m rooting for Yeon-jae in this drama, that was enough to mar how I felt about her.

It’s one of those tricky gray areas, and I can tell from the comments that opinions are fairly split on the issue, of whether it was right or wrong for Yeon-jae to act as she did, or if the dying person in the scenario always gets carte blanche. I think Yeon-jae’s entitled to do whatever she wants with her time, and doesn’t owe anybody explanations for her behavior. It’s her life; it’s up to her to decide what is a meaningful use of the remainder. On the flipside, I can’t see a person of her character being able to die peacefully without also reaching a measure of closure with her loved ones.

But the fact that Ji-wook is angry about her choice — and that she recognizes it was selfish of her to initiate the relationship knowing she was dying — actually mitigates my own conflicted feelings, and lets me move past them. If Ji-wook could feel betrayed and then forgive her, at least it reflects some amount of inner conflict on his part. Whereas, if he hadn’t felt betrayed at all and been painted with a saintly brush, I would’ve felt dissatisfied with the unrealistic, out-of-touch reaction.


243 August 28, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 12

by girlfriday

We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road for Yeon-jae, but the moment she gives in to her despair, it cuts like a knife. Her hope and her desire to fill her time with meaning starts to give way to resentment and fear of what’s to come, and everything around her that points to the future starts to magnify the damning truth… that she’ll never have one.

What aggravates me is that it’s getting harder to watch the couple continually angst when there’s such precious little time left for them to even do anything. We’re on a clock here, people! Not just a drama clock, but the grim reaper kind, and not a friendly neighborhood Scheduler version either. I just want to smack some sense and some urgency into somebody, or everybody. Except for Poopypants. He gets a hug.


Ji-wook asks one last time if Yeon-jae really wants him out of her life, and she sticks with Operation: Die a Noble Idiot, and says yes. Aaaaaargh. *stomping of feet*

He cries, she cries, and Eun-seok can only watch and be frustrated like me.

Eun-seok asks if this is really what’s right, and she tells him that she loved her dad, but sometimes she resented him. She wondered why he had to have cancer, why he wasn’t like other dads. And every time she caught herself laughing, she immediately felt guilty. Aw. My heart breaks for little Yeon-jae.

She says that she couldn’t do anything without feeling that survivor’s guilt – eating, sleeping, laughing. Ji-wook will have to go through the same, and long after she’s dead, which she can’t have. When she puts it like that, it’s hard to be mad at her for pushing him away.

The next day Mom catches her cleaning out her closet, and she takes Mom shopping to fill her closet as she empties out her own. Mom eyes a new winter coat for Yeon-jae and insists she try it on, but Yeon-jae looks at it wistfully and says, “I don’t think I’ll need it.”

I don’t know why, but that’s sadder than when people are crying in this drama – I love the implication of something so simple as a winter coat reminding her that she won’t be around to see winter.

The moment stays with her, and at home even the ticking clock on her nightstand starts to take on an irritating power, as she starts to envision it ticking faster and faster and taking precious seconds off her life.

She runs out of the house and back to Teacher’s bakery, and this time as she looks in from outside, we see a bit of the backstory in flashback. Yeon-jae ran away crying from Teacher, and then Mom later asked if he did anything inappropriate to her. He was promptly fired.

This time she blurts out right away that she’s sorry. She tells him that she hated the fact that he liked her mother. It reminded her of Dad and she wanted to split them up, so she lied. She asks for his forgiveness.

He asks why she’s doing this now, after so many years, when he’s buried all that in the past. She tells him that it’s been weighing on her all this time, and asks again for his forgiveness. But he’s not ready to forgive, and walks away.

Hee-joo congratulates Eun-seok on his impressive tango, as does the entire hospital, now that they know the stony-faced doctor moonlights as a latin lover. Who knew a little tango could go such a long way?

Hee-joo asks why he danced with Yeon-jae, and he tells her that they’re grade school friends. She gets adorably jealous, asking how serious Yeon-jae’s cancer is. Pfft. I really love how this girl doesn’t treat death like death.

Eun-seok stays too preoccupied with Yeon-jae to enjoy his new popularity though, and calls her out for a walk. She sighs at all the happy people passing by, now just reminders of what she’ll never have. She tells Eun-seok that she’d prefer if time just passed quickly now. Oof.

Ji-wook is as depressed as Yeon-jae, barely even registering the people around him. Sae-kyung shows up to ask for another chance, admitting that what she’s shown him thus far isn’t her true self. Yeah, that’s not a comfort really.

He walks away, but then apparently a shower changes his mind. Damn that shower. I have equal love and hate for you right now.

He takes Sae-kyung out, but then proceeds to just drown his sorrows in drink and she tries to stop him. He asks what it is she wants – to marry? “Fine. Let’s get married. Within the month.”

She can read the situation well enough to know this isn’t what she wanted. It hurts her pride something fierce to have him use her as a bandaid when he’s clearly a wreck because of Yeon-jae.

He scoffs at her, asking if she wants to date or fall in love, as if she just asked for a purple unicorn that lays eggs. She confesses that she was serious when asking for a chance, and tells him that she doesn’t dislike him, but he doesn’t have the right to step on her pride, and storms out.

Hye-won comes to see Yeon-jae with news, and Yeon-jae gives her a brooch that she’s been wanting for a long time. Hye-won thanks her for making her reconsider the guy who proposed, because it turns out that she’s pregnant.

She’s getting married within the month because of the shotgun nature of the whole deal, and Yeon-jae happily congratulates her. Hye-won says she’s sorry and Yeon-jae does the right thing, refusing to let her feel bad for her own happiness.

Mom gets suspicious when she sees Hye-won crying yet again, and Yeon-jae tells her the news. Once Hye-won leaves Mom blows up at Yeon-jae for being the last to be married, wondering how she can just be happy for her friend with no recourse for her own dead-end life.

She screams at her to get a job this instant, because she’s too embarrassed to even introduce her to people. Yeon-jae refuses and blows up right back, saying that Mom doesn’t even know what she’s going through. “Do you think I’m just endlessly happy for Hye-won?” She sobs into her pillow.

Ji-wook continues his zombie existence, until he finally can’t stand staring at Yeon-jae’s plant any longer, and asks the housekeeper to get rid of it. He shows up at Sae-kyung’s place, intent on starting over with her.

Eun-seok calls and Yeon-jae tells him that she’s going wedding dress shopping with Hye-won today, and he tells her not to eat anything bad or drink anything, and she tells him that he must be busy, so he doesn’t have to call every day to check on her.

He stammers, genuinely surprised, “Did I do that?” AW.

Hye-won tries on a wedding dress and Yeon-jae looks up at her happily, but with mixed emotions fighting beneath the surface. When Hye-won gets a call from hubby-to-be and has to run off, Yeon-jae starts to walk away, but then stops in front of the window.

She goes back inside and asks if she can try on a dress, and the sales associate is really sweet about it, saying that she’ll probably be married soon, since trying on a dress is a sign that she’s ready to be married.

She opens the curtains and Yeon-jae looks at herself in the white dress, barely able to hold back the tears. It’s heartbreaking and lovely, all at the same time.

Ji-wook gets called to dinner by Dad, who jumps the gun and invites Sae-kyung, wanting to skip the engagement this time and go straight to the wedding. Exasperated, Ji-wook tells him that they just barely started, and that if they end up liking each other, they’ll date, and maybe get married, just like other normal people. Seriously, Dad.

When Ji-wook drops her off after dinner, she asks when he’ll start being happy to see her. He wonders the same thing, and drives off. Ha. Way to tell a girl you have totally indifferent feelings towards her.

Yeon-jae comes home and goes through her bucket list, adding the picture of her in the wedding dress and marking that one with a teary face. Aw.

She starts to cry as she looks at the page, the tears turning into angry sobs as she comes to resent the fact that she even has a bucket list to cry over. She tears it in half, wailing out loud.

She grabs her half of the plant she gave to Ji-wook and shatters it on the ground, and knocks down the rest of the plants along with it. She goes straight for the kitchen sink and starts gulping down soju straight out of the bottle, desperate to numb the raging anger and heartache.

She ends up in front of Ji-wook’s house, but hides as he arrives. He stops and turns around, perhaps feeling something, maybe just missing her, and she stays hidden from view, tears falling.

Mom comes home to find the empty bottles and the mess in Yeon-jae’s room and gasps. Yeon-jae comes home and just collapses on the floor, washed out from her emotional tornado.

She admits to having a really tough time, and Mom just hugs her and apologizes for making the Hye-won situation worse when she’s clearly upset about it already. God, I don’t even want to think about how sad it’s going to be when Mom finds out.

Hye-won invites Ji-wook to her wedding, and asks if he’s really going to end things with Yeon-jae this way. He says that this is what Yeon-jae asked for, and she tells him that Yeon-jae fell for him at first sight, and she’s doing this to protect him.

He knows and doesn’t dispute it, and says that he’s doing what she wants.

Meanwhile Eun-seok gets an invitation to dinner from the chief of staff, who was impressed with his tango and wants to thank Yeon-jae for giving other patients hope. He calls but Mom picks up her phone instead.

She says that Yeon-jae went out without her phone, and then she looks around the room feeling that something is off – she’s been weird the last few days, and then overnight she cleaned up the mess and left without her phone.

She calls Hye-won, who calls Eun-seok, who paces and worries, and then calls Ji-wook. He asks if he’s with her and to call if he sees her, but doesn’t say anything else. But Ji-wook knows it’s serious enough that Eun-seok would even call him, and starts pacing too.

It turns out she’s skulking outside Teacher’s bakery. This time she sends in a note – that she knows asking for forgiveness with one “I’m sorry” isn’t going to cut it, but that she really wanted to say one thing…

She thanks him, for covering up her absurd lie, and for taking the fall. She tells him that she always wanted to say thank you and sorry, but never had the courage to do so. Her letter finally moves him, but when he comes outside to find her, she’s gone.

Day turns into night and everyone’s worry turns to fear as they sit and wait for word from Yeon-jae. Eun-seok runs all over town looking for her, in the dance studio and in the neighborhood, but can’t find her.

Ji-wook runs out to do the same, and finds her at the Han River, sitting there in the place where he proposed and got rejected. He walks toward her, but then he remembers her pleas that he not be around to watch her die.

It rips him up as his heart races toward her, but his feet stay firmly planted in their place. Just then Eun-seok calls to see if he found her, and he tells him where she is.

And then Eun-seok walks up to the same place where Ji-wook was just standing. God you boys are taking turns just gutting me. How can you both be so heartbreaking one after the other?

Eun-seok storms over to Yeon-jae, pissed at her disappearing act when everyone is worried sick. I don’t think his worry is unwarranted since he knows how depressed she is right now, but technically, she’s a grown woman who just forgot her cell phone for a day. His worrying is cute nonetheless.

She wonders how he found her here, and he doesn’t lie about Ji-wook being the one who found her. I love this guy. She’s clearly disturbed to realize that Ji-wook came and went, and Eun-seok gripes about her breaking up with him if she’s going to be like this.

Yeon-jae: “Eun-seok-ah, I wish my life would just end right now, like this.”

Nooo! It’s crushing to hear her be so sad that she doesn’t even want to cling to her remaining days.

At home, Mom starts putting more of the pieces together and decides that something is definitely going on with Yeon-jae. She asks Hye-won if she knows, and Hye-won tries her best to play dumb to Mom’s worries.

Eun-seok brings her home, and Mom wonders what the hell is going on with her, but Hye-won intervenes and takes her to her room. Mom does get distracted long enough by the presence of Eun-seok, and walks him out.

Her Future Son-in-Law Radar goes off, and she asks what his relationship to Yeon-jae is. She’s a little disappointed to hear that they’re just grade school friends, but when he asks her to take good care of Yeon-jae, she sends him along cheerily, practically plotting their wedding march in her head.

Hye-won asks if she shouldn’t get married, and that maybe she should’ve been more considerate about Yeon-jae’s feelings. Yeon-jae tells her that’s ridiculous and assures her that it’s not because of that.

Eun-seok calls Ji-wook, who’s now sitting in the spot where Yeon-jae was. He tells him that Yeon-jae is home safe and sound, and thanks Ji-wook for his help. Aw, such a well-mannered curmudgeon.

It’s time for Hye-won’s wedding, and her coworkers stream in, but Yeon-jae is nowhere to be found. Hye-won worries and waits, and Yeon-jae finally arrives just before the ceremony starts.

Yeon-jae looks at her friend and tells her that she looks beautiful, and tells her to live a long and happy life. Hye-won cries and Yeon-jae walks her into the room.

She turns to see Ji-wook arriving, and they stare for a charged moment, until Yeon-jae walks into the room. He steals glances at her throughout the entire ceremony, which she watches in a mix of happiness and utter despair.

She makes a quiet exit before it’s over and he goes too. He drives along outside and then sees Yeon-jae doing a zombie walk right into the middle of an intersection, ignoring the cars zooming at her.

It’s unclear whether she’s dazed or actively trying to get hit, but Ji-wook sees the oncoming car and swerves in its path, taking the hit to save her.

She stops at looks up at the accident not two feet from where she’s standing, and sees blood streaming down Ji-wook’s face as he stirs.

Her jaw drops in shock.


I’m not gonna lie – this episode was pretty much the definition of a downer, with Yeon-jae falling into the worst of her depression. It kills me to watch her come to resent even the little time that she has left, to the point that she’d rather die now than go through what’s ahead.

At this point I’m just desperate for anything to change her mindset, even if it’s something cruel like false hope of remission, just to get her living again. It’s like she’s already dead, which pains me more than the fact that she’s dying. Perhaps with Ji-wook’s reckless but heroic act, she’ll be jolted out of her misery and grab hold of something, anything, to live the rest of her days instead of just wishing they’d end.

It breaks my heart that Eun-seok is there for her but it’s not enough, and he knows it. To call Ji-wook, despite knowing what it means… it’s the kind of love that really gets to me, because it’s asking for nothing in return. This really is an interesting untraditional love triangle because I think Eun-seok is the better man, but Ji-wook is the person she loves, no question. And the fact that she only has a few months to live means that both get to be by her side in a way, and then both have to lose her. Without that traditional one-guy-winning-the-girl sort of setup, it’s a great way to not have to split loyalties. Sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it too. For a hefty price, of course.

Just… somebody, please do something happy soon. I’m going to start picketing if this stupid denial continues any longer.


147 September 3, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 13

by javabeans

Thank heaven for the end to the whole noble sacrifice nonsense, because the drama has started to get weighed down with all the tears and angst. I know it’s a drama about a dying woman, but what made Scent of a Woman so delightful, so apart from the norm, was its light, refreshing touch. We all know what the traditional cancer melodrama would bring, so it was a lovely change to see a drama take on the subject without taking the expected route. I’d love us to go back to that, please.


Lee Sora & Kim Min-jong – “우리 다시.” This is the song sung in the duet in today’s episode. The title literally means “us again” but it carries the connotation of starting over. [ Download ]

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Ji-wook crashes his car to intercept the car headed for Yeon-jae, and this knocks her out of her stupor.

This also marks a key point in Ji-wook’s outlook, where he goes from feeling anger and betrayal over her lie to charging to her rescue. It comes at a key time when Yeon-jae is feeling so low that she’s wishing for her own death, making this a significant intersection of their viewpoints: No longer is she just a ticking clock with a deadline, but she’s a life worth saving, even though she’s already dying. It’s a meaningful way to show her that she’s more than her cancer — and despite a limited lifespan, hers is as worth living as anybody else’s. I do sort of love that he’s the one who shows her this, and it brings him into a complete 180.

The camera spins as it closes in on Yeon-jae at the hospital, mirroring her feeling of the world spinning all askew. She waits as Ji-wook is examined, and gets the word that he’ll be fine. He has minor injuries, but has escaped brain damage.

His first words upon seeing her in his room are, “Are you okay?” Yeon-jae asks why he intervened, reminding him that she only has a few months left to live anyway. He tells her, “I wanted to see you. I want to see you. It doesn’t matter how many months, or days. The moment of the accident, I knew it without a doubt. Without you, I’m not happy.”

His words make her think back to her father in his last days, who’d told her gravely that he was sorry not to be able to stay with her for long time. While he was feeling the burden of guilt, Teenage Yeon-jae had told him cheerily, “Then treat me well while you can.”

The next time Ji-wook awakens, he calls out hoping for Yeon-jae, and finds Sae-kyung and his father instead. Sae-kyung takes him home, sees that he’s in pain, and offers to cook something so he can take his pain meds. He tells her, however, that he can’t do this — that the accident confirmed how he feels about Yeon-jae.

Sae-kyung assumes he’s in the lingering-attachment phase of a breakup and says that she understands that it will take time to get over his feelings. Ji-wook tells her that these aren’t feelings that he will get over, and although she seems to recognize that there’s new conviction in his voice, she still refuses to accept his answer, acting like he’ll change his mind in time.

To her surprise, Yeon-jae receives a call from her old teacher, and arranges to meet him. On her way out, she pauses to see her mother and decides to come clean to her, finally admitting the truth.

She explains how her comments had been twisted into rumors that he’d sexually harassed her, and because she’d hated him so much, she’d kept quiet. Well, I suppose lying by omission is a hair better than accusing outright, although I can’t really defend her since she did confirm the rumors to her teacher.

To her shock, though, Mom just nods calmly and says, “I know.” The teacher had told her what happened, and was actually quite generous in his understanding of Yeon-jae’s feelings, saying that she must have been terribly upset to be driven to such a lie. He had decided that if he went away, the problem would be solved. Aw. I wonder if that makes Yeon-jae feel better, or worse: there’s relief that he understood her, and guilt that she wronged a decent man who really, really didn’t deserve such treatment.

She sits with him at his bakery, and he tells her that a decade ago, he used to imagine daily that she would come to find him, so that he could tell her it was okay. But she never came, so he told himself to forget it — so when she appeared out of nowhere, he wasn’t ready to face her.

She supposes that he must have resented her all these years, but he says he hated himself more, because it had been his choice. He’d thought back then that sacrificing in the name of a loved one was a noble act — but he was wrong. (Well, thank heavens for somebody in K-dramaland recognizing that noble idiocy is more idiocy than noble!) He admits that he hasn’t been “able to be happy” in all these years (as in, he never fell in love again), and if he’d had it to do over again, he would have weathered her hate to be with her mother, and with her.

Aw, it’s sweet that her bucket list has for the first time led to a greater gift for someone she loves, because teacher man will likely reconnect with Mom now. Leaving Mom, we know, was one of Yeon-jae’s biggest concerns; perhaps this will encourage her to reveal the truth about her cancer.

It’s only now that Yeon-jin finally comes to a moment of realization as she recalls Ji-wook’s confessions of love. She heads to his house, where he’s just discovered the plant that has been transferred to his front yard by the housekeeper (whom he’d told to take the plant out of his sight).

When he turns and sees her, they stand there for a long moment, staring at each other, the gate between them.

She tells him, “I’d forgotten momentarily. After being diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a bucket list. It wasn’t just so I could do things I hadn’t done before. It was because I’d lived all this time without much thought, and that time felt wasted — so I wanted to spend my time with value, with meaning. Happily. That way, I might not feel regrets. But it seemed like that was making you too unhappy, that I was being too selfish to you, and that pained me.”

Ji-wook tells her, “The moment of the accident, I had this thought: I might die before you. Tonight, I might have a heart attack. Tomorrow morning, I might be in a car accident. When that moment comes, I’d regret it — why hadn’t I held onto Lee Yeon-jae?”

She agrees: “When that moment comes, I’d probably feel regret too — why hadn’t I stayed with Kang Ji-wook?”

He opens the gate, and she steps inside. Holding her, he says, “Thank you so, so much for coming.”

The next day, Eun-seok arrives at the hospital to find Ji-wook waiting for him, wanting to know Yeon-jae’s condition in detail. Eun-seok tells him about her initial six-month diagnosis, but because of the tumor growth, she now has about three or four months.

Ji-wook struggles to accept the information, and Eun-seok tells him that what Yeon-jae needs most right now is Ji-wook, who can do more for her than he can do as doctor.

Afterward, Eun-seok calls Yeon-jae to fill her in, informing her Ji-wook has been by. It’s so sad how it hurts Eun-seok to say that he’s glad she has Ji-wook with her, even as he means what he says.

Ji-wook comes over to pick Yeon-jae up, having taken a few days off work. She invites him in and prepares some fruit for her guest, and when she checks on him, he’s asleep on her bed. Or pretending to sleep, at least — he stretches out an arm, an invitation for her to join him. She cautiously complies, lying stiffly next to him on the bed.

I love the disgruntled look on his face, as if to say, “That’s it?!” So he turns and arranges her to his satisfaction, bringing her close and holding tight.

Eun-seok’s doctor colleague joins him outside and comments on his recent rise in popularity. Eun-seok’s lost in thought, though, and wonders why he chose his field, when “There’s nothing I can do for her.” Even despite treating the cancer, he’s just gotta watch her die. His buddy tells him that’s the fate of doctors like them.

His day doesn’t get any better, with Hee-joo begging him to call her father to assure that a plane ride to the Philippines is fine in her condition. Her father thinks it’s too dangerous but has agreed to let her if the doctor agrees — but Eun-seok can’t consent to it, citing the dangers.

Hee-joo cries and pleads, saying she has to see her mother, who can’t come to Korea for some reason, and that she might die without seeing her. Eun-seok isn’t immune to her pleas, but he can’t in good conscience give his approval. Hee-joo bursts out, “I hate you!” and storms off.

The Line Tour planning team goes out for dinner to celebrate their successful Wando tour package. The mood is great, though it quiets when Ji-wook proposes inviting Yeon-jae to join them, since it was her idea and all. Nobody likes this (except a happy Hye-won), but they can’t contradict the boss, either.

Yeon-jae joins them at the bar and trades little smiles with Ji-wook, who hilariously wonders why nobody’s asking him to sing while everyone else takes turns. That, of course, starts the rally for him to sing, and he says modestly, “Well, if you want me to so much…”

He takes the mike and says that this is a song he’d been wanting to sing for a woman when he fell in love. Aw, was this whole night just an excuse to sing her a love song? And then, in front of everyone, he calls out to Yeon-jae, telling her to join him.

Everyone is agog (except Hye-won, who’s loving this, adorably), and he takes Yeon-jae by the hand and leads her to the stage.

It’s “Us Again,” the song posted up top:

From amongst so many people, I had to find you
Take my outstretched hand
In this difficult time, I had to meet you
All I have are poor memories, hold me

Even without speaking,
even without knowing everything,
I can feel it
With love, even without speaking,
just looking at each other,
We can be as one

Even with the pain after we part ways
I am far away
Accept me into your heart
The sadness still lingers
I can forget you
I can become a new me

We can believe, our two souls
Wherever you are, even if we’re apart,
My heart is the same

That night, Yeon-jae looks over her bucket list, which she’s taped back together, and reveals another entry: To sing a duet with the man she loves. Ji-wook flips through his cell phone, with which he has taken photos of every item on her list. Gah, he may have been a jerk in denial, but he is just the sweetest boyfriend.

She gets to mark off two entries today, because her teacher has also forgiven her. She returns to his bakery to give him the address of the store where her mother works, and also her tacit approval.

She heads to the hospital to meet with the chief of Eun-seok’s department, who thanks her for her contribution and wants to treat her to dinner. She declines the meal but accepts his gratitude.

She thanks Eun-seok for his help in getting her teacher’s forgiveness, but confides that she hasn’t worked up the nerve to tell her mother yet. Eun-seok tells her with a gentle smile that she’ll work it out, that she shouldn’t feel too bad because it’s not like being sick is a crime.

What makes his love for her both touching and painful is that he doesn’t place any burden on her because of it; he puts on a smile for her benefit, and doesn’t betray his own hurt until she’s gone.

But all Hee-joo needs is one look to guess that he likes Yeon-jae, which she’s both happy to guess correctly and disappointed since she likes him. Hee-joo’s back to her usual cheerful self, and tells Eun-seok that her mother ended up coming to Korea after all, and that they’ve been having a good time together. Sheepishly admitting that she’d gone overboard last time, she says she wanted to fill him in on the turn of events.

Eun-seok’s boss gives him the news that he may be able to go to the American cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson, after all. He offers to take on all of Eun-seok’s current patients, telling him this is a great opportunity — but faced with the prospect of not being able to be with Yeon-jae till the end, Eun-seok asks for time to think it over.

The Line Tour ladies gossip about how unbelievable it is that their hot supervisor is dating Yeon-jae, she of the (former) corkscrew curls and glasses. The company president overhears this and demands the full story, then reports this outrage to Chairman Kang. He points to the recent kerfuffle with Seojin Cards, guessing correctly that the broken engagement was to blame for it. He warns the chairman that if Ji-wook’s relationship ruins things for the company, he won’t take this lying down.

Dad calls in his secretary and orders him to look into Yeon-jae’s background, specifically asking for “weaknesses.” Gah, you’re really going for the hateful parent award, aren’t you?

Ji-wook surrounds himself with books, and gets to studying recipes that are good for cancer patients. It’s adorable. He settles on a dish with brown rice, then gapes at the time — it takes 4 hours — and pushes back their date for the night.

Sae-kyung requests to meet Yeon-jae and asks if she still means what she said about encouraging Sae-kyung to date Ji-wook. Yeon-jae does feel bad about changing her tune, and says regretfully, “You and I must really be ill-fated.” Understanding what that means, Sae-kyung flings her cup of water in Yeon-jae’s face. Because rich people apparently have never learned how to express emotions in acceptable ways.

Yeon-jae says there are reasons for her change of heart, but Sae-kyung can’t possibly fathom what kind of reason would explain it. She feels humiliated by the two, and warns Yeon-jae that she won’t stand idly by.

Ji-wook is busily preparing dinner when he receives an unexpected guest in the form of his angry father, who sees the dinner table and figures it’s for Yeon-jae. He flings the tray out of Ji-wook’s hands and goes to overturn the rest of the table, because again, rich people like to throw their food, apparently. Ji-wook dashes in and holds him back, more concerned for the food, and earns a slap to the face for his trouble. Good lord, what is it with the slap-happy in this drama?

Dad orders Ji-wook to break up with her immediately, but Ji-wook says that he can’t. Dad argues that the woman has cancer — his dirt-digging minions are swift — and yells that he can’t ruin his life over someone who’s going to die in a few months.

Ji-wook entreats his father, “Because of her, I’m happy.” Dad challenges, “What about when she dies?” He says he won’t stand to see his only son turn into a wretched mess when that happens. Ji-wook hasn’t really had time to think this over, but he hurriedly says he won’t be like that. Dad doesn’t believe him, pointing out how he was after his mother died.

Dad declares that if Ji-wook won’t end it, then he’ll make the woman end it. Oh please, not this song and dance again. Ji-wook grabs his father’s leg and pleads, sobbing, for Dad not to hurt Yeon-jae.

Yeon-jae arrives soon afterward, and finds Ji-wook still hunched over on the ground, the dinner spilled everywhere.

She wipes tears from his eyes, and he pulls her close in a kiss. They move to the bed, both of them shedding tears as they kiss, and the scene fades to black.

In the morning, they awaken in each other’s arms.

When Yeon-jae arrives home, Mom is waiting up, fuming in her worry and having stayed up all night wondering where she’s been. Yeon-jae mumbles that she was “with someone,” and Mom guesses it was a man: “Red car?”

Hilariously, she reacts in the opposite way that most Korean parents of a single woman would, because this completely dissipates her anger and she squeals in delight: “I knew it! Oh, you naughty girl! I told you he liked you!”

I know Mom can be a trial of patience, but her reaction totally endears her to me: Immediately she starts calculating, figuring that if Yeon-jae marries this year and has a child right away, she’ll be 35 years old… which is too old: “No, you’d better make an accident first.” Ha! She’s like backwards mom.

Sae-kyung meets with Chairman Kang to deliver her decision to dissolve the partnership between their companies, and to take back the investment funds they had offered to enable Line Tours’ expansion into the US market. Geezus, the people in this drama sure do make business decisions with mercurial temperaments — it’s amazing they ever got to their current positions of wealth if they’re so weak to acting based on pique and emotion.

Chairman Kang has expected as much, which confirms to Sae-kyung that he knew about the relationship — even as he pushed Sae-kyung to marry Ji-wook. She takes this as personal insult, and he has nothing to say. She declares that she’s going to retaliate — to Yeon-jae, Ji-wook, and the chairman.

But now Chairman Kang speaks: “She has cancer.”

Next, he calls Ji-wook in to tell him to prepare to be transferred to New York, to oversee the company’s US launch for the next year or two. He won’t insist on his marriage, and orders him not as father but as the company chairman.

Ji-wook says he won’t go, but Dad won’t hear it.

Mom is happily dreaming of marrying off Yeon-jae when a guest walks in: Yeon-jae’s old teacher. He merely says he happened to be in the neighborhood, and rather than dwelling on talk of the old days, he gets her phone number and promises to call. Aw, ajusshi’s still got moves.

Ji-wook submits his resignation to his father with cool resolve, saying that now he won’t have to go to New York — and for that matter, going to work every day eats up valuable time: “We don’t have much time left.”

Mom finds herself checking her phone all day, and finally the call comes. Flustered, she lies to Yeon-jae that it’s her friend, but Yeon-jae guesses what the call is and smiles. Mom excuses herself to take the call, wherein Teacher Kim gets right to the point, asking her out to dinner and a movie.

And then, ruining the mood is an unexpected visitor. Yeon-jae opens the door, and in steps a stern Chairman Kang, ruiner of all happiness.


Groaaaaan. I am not looking forward to whatever parental nonsense Chairman Kang is concocting, because frankly I was tired of the chaebols’ meddling from, oh, Episode 1. I understand the trickiness of breaking off an engagement last-minute, but I do tire of the whole pearl-clutchy outrage over Ji-wook’s refusal to marry Sae-kyung. A woman he has never loved, who doesn’t love him back, in a relationship that was out the outset understood to be arranged more for business reasons than anything.

I understand Sae-kyung’s hurt pride and bruised ego at being passed over for Yeon-jae, but her determination to stick with Ji-wook is starting to get ridiculous. When she thinks they’re marrying, she’s all concern and sympathy. The moment things change, she’s vowing all sorts of retaliation. Frankly, that’s a woman you don’t want on your side even on a good day, because she can turn on you on a dime.

She’s not as bad an antagonist as Dad, though, who is starting to sound downright unhinged in his meddling ways. Seriously, Dad? You need to micromanage and control your son’s life that much? Are you sure you don’t just want a robo-puppy? They sell those online now. I’d started to feel like this episode was showing us light at the end of the angst tunnel, only to find the end of the episode bringing us to a second tunnel. I’d rather watch Yeon-jae live out the remainder of her life and fulfill her bucket list, not see a repeat of early episodes with the rich and powerful throwing around their weight to make her life hell. ‘Cause, a hint for you guys: That life doesn’t need any more heartbreak, thanks. She’s drowning in it already.


203 September 4, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 14

by javabeans

I think this episode may have dehydrated me, with all the tears I shed. But in contrast to the last several episodes, I loved all the tearful moments in this episode, which were peppered with warmth and tons of heart. It’s probably my favorite Scent episode in quite a while, maybe overall.

The reason I found the last few episodes duller than usual and trying to my patience was because they felt empty and manipulative — lots of strings being pulled but no emotion behind them. This episode, on the other hand, brings us back to what the drama had done so well: drawing out moments of connection between people, playing up a small detail that turns out to carry tremendous emotional impact, and doing it in a way that moves you.


Yellow Monsters – “끝인사” (Goodbye) [ Download ]

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Chairman Kang tells Yeon-jae he knows “everything,” so when Mom pops out and wonders who the visitor is, Yeon-jae hurriedly asks him to speak outside, before he gives away her condition.

He turns his scorn on her in full force — she’s shameless and selfish, and did she ever think about the people she’d be leaving behind? How could she leave Ji-wook to certain heartbreak? She’s tearful and apologetic, but doesn’t waver in her conviction as she tells him that she and Ji-wook can’t, and won’t, break up.

Yeon-jae sinks down to her knees right there on the sidewalk, but Dad is unmoved, telling her that Ji-wook quit the office to spend more time her. Yeon-jae says she’ll convince him to go back to work, and do what she can to make sure he can be happy after she dies. Dad tells her to return Ji-wook to the way things were, “or I won’t forgive you.” Oh, boo hoo. I’d say his forgiveness is a goal she can leave off her bucket list.

When she comes back home, Mom pounces, wanting the story. Yeon-jae lies that he’s just the company chairman asking about work, but Mom can be pretty sharp when she wants to be, and guesses that he’s Ji-wook’s father and opposes the match.

Mom tells Yeon-jae to not let his opposition cow her into giving up her man, and says that the children always win over their parents in this situation — it’s how she married Yeon-jae’s father despite fierce opposition. Ha, she really is opposite mom. She has a minor gripe of Ji-wook, though, saying he should’ve made sure to nip this in the bud before Dad came seeking out the girlfriend.

Sae-kyung drinks alone at a bar, thinking of Yeon-jae and her cancer, and shows up at Ji-wook’s door. He tells her sternly not to come by anymore, and she slaps him. (Again?! Now it just seems perverse that she got in such a snit over being slapped when it seems to be her response to everything.)

Sae-kyung accuses him of making a laughingstock of her, of letting her think she could work it out with him while he was off in his grand love with someone else. She scoffs that she can just wait, since it won’t be long till that woman dies. Yeeeeesh. Ji-wook orders her out, saying he’s disappointed in Sae-kyung.

Crying, Sae-kyung says, “I hate her.” She says it in the way that children say they hate mommy when they can’t have what they want — a helpless sort of frustration. Ji-wook sighs, more pitying than upset now.

Ji-wook takes Yeon-jae to see a house, announcing that he intends to move into it — with her. Seeing her nonplussed reaction, he asks if she doesn’t like it, and she replies that she doesn’t. (He says, “Uh-oh” in a way that makes me suspect he may have already bought it…)

She takes him somewhere else, and Ji-wook finds himself completely out of his element as Yeon-jae volunteers at a day care. He struggles to change a diaper, talking to himself to psych himself into doing it, and awkwardly comforts a crying baby.

Yeon-jae watches him with amusement at first, but seeing him ease into the role of caretaker gets her emotional. When the manager lady compliments them and says they look like a family, he sends her a big grin.

Mom nervously gets ready for her date and greets Teacher Kim shyly. Her cantankerous landlord yells at her as she’s leaving, griping about old folks going on ridiculous dates, and Teacher Kim steps in with a smile to smooth things over.

After day care duty is over, Ji-wook asks if she really disliked that house. She tells him that his father told her he quit his job, and although she assures him that Dad didn’t say anything terribly bad (“What do I have to be scared of?”) she urges him to go back to work.

He says time is precious. She agrees, but adds that there’s another person in her life: Mom. She wants to spend a little more time with her under normal circumstances, before having to live like a cancer patient. She asks him to spend his time “as normal” as well, because she’s happy right now.

Eun-seok is still raising Malbok, but with his transfer to M.D. Anderson looming, he asks his friend to take in the dog. When the friend figures it’ll be easy enough to keep the dog in the yard, Eun-seok hesitates, saying the dog’s used to being indoors, and it might get cold in the winter. Ha, he’s gotten attached despite himself.

Eun-seok runs into Hee-joo in the hallway, who introduces him to her mother, who promptly embarrasses her by commenting that he’s just as handsome as Hee-joo said. Ha. She cringes in mortification and ushers Mom away, but Eun-seok smiles.

Yeon-jae tells Mom that she’ll be bringing Ji-wook over tonight to meet her, which causes Mom to flip out at the lack of preparation time. Off to the supermarket it is.

Mom’s reception is surprisingly cool, though, which causes the couple to shoot puzzled looks at each other. The reason becomes clear when she asks Ji-wook whether he’ll be able to win over his father (implying their marriage), and he replies that he’ll work things out. He eats uneasily, as though expecting attack at any moment.

Yeon-jae finds Mom crying after Ji-wook leaves, but Mom explains that it’s because she’s happy that her daughter found such a great man. Yeon-jae asks why she treated him so coolly, and Mom says that if she acted too eager, “He might not realize how valuable you are.” Awwww, now that gets me right in that heartspace. For all the cliches this drama has piled on about meddling rich chaebols, it sure has a fascinating, unpredictable Mom.

Ji-wook goes home unsure of his standing with Mom, and asks a friend for advice on impressing her. So the next day, he shows up to the store where Mom works, saying he’s here to buy some clothes. Mom assists him with a smile, and he agrees to buy her recommendation — and asks for sizes to fit her and Yeon-jae.

Yeon-jae’s happy that her mother has met someone, and tells a photo of her father that after he died, she was there for Mom, but after she dies, she wants Mom to have someone else to be with her.

Mom shows Yeon-jae the jackets that “Ji-wook-ie” bought for them, thrilled at his lovely manners. Yeon-jae tells her mother that she has to go somewhere for a few days, lying that it’s for a work-related matter. Mom picks up on her awkwardness, but jumps to the other conclusion — that Yeon-jae is slipping away with Ji-wook, as she must have done all those other times she said she was away for work.

Ji-wook goes along with this story, picking Yeon-jae up on the day of her treatment, though he asks how much longer she’s going to keep this a secret. Yeon-jae tells him that Mom’s so happy, she’s loath to ruin that for her.

Chairman Im hears about “the ridiculous rumors” surrounding Ji-wook, and asks Sae-kyung about them. She wonders why after all this, she still can’t let go of Ji-wook. Isn’t that my line?

As Ji-wook drops Yeon-jae off at the hospital, she urges him to go back to the office. He tells her that she’s the most important person to him right now, above his job. She replies that she feels the same, but that he’s not the only person in her life — she has her mother, her friends, and things she wants to do. “I don’t want for me to be the only thing in your life. If you come to me after giving up your job and your father, I’ll be too uncomfortable with that.”

He leaves her with a hug, which goes witnessed by Eun-seok and Hee-joo, the latter of whom is shocked to realize that Yeon-jae has a boyfriend — and that Eun-seok likes her anyway.

So when Yeon-jae chats with her mother and offers them pastries as a gift, Hee-joo is uncharacteristically quiet and rejects the offering, leaving the room in a huff.

Yeon-jae finds her outside and prods her jokingly, asking, “Why has your love cooled?” Ha, it’s cute, and annoying in the way that older siblings don’t take younger siblings’ feelings totally seriously. Hee-joo says she’s mad about Yeon-jae hurting Eun-seok’s feelings, revealing that he likes her.

Startled, Yeon-jae says that’s not true, but can’t shake those words when she consults with Eun-seok about her treatment. It makes her distant with him, to his puzzlement.

Sae-kyung goes to the hospital and sees Yeon-jae sitting outside, hooked up to her IV. Despite intending to speak with her, she tears up and turns back — at least she has a tiny shred of decency not to inflict herself upon a terminal cancer patient during chemo. I’m not willing to concede much more, but I’ll give her that much.

Hee-joo loves having her mother with her in the hospital, and the two are affectionate and cuddly with each other — a sight that gives Yeon-jae a pang.

Meanwhile, Ji-wook thinks over Yeon-jae’s words, and returns to the office, telling his father that it’s what she wants him to do. Dad’s unimpressed, tossing out the “If she told you to die” question, to which Ji-wook replies that he would die, if she wanted: “But she wouldn’t want it, because she wants me to be happy.” Ah, touché.

Dad tells him to prepare to leave for the States, but Ji-wook replies firmly that he won’t leave her, and that Dad had best give in quickly, as they don’t have much time left.

The cancer team looks at scans of a patient’s tumor, startled at the rapid change in condition. Eun-seok takes Hee-joo’s mother aside, and despite his gentle smile, it tips Hee-joo off right away that news is bad.

Eun-seok tells Mom the news regretfully, and Hee-joo finds him sitting outside in a glum mood. She confides that she’s the reason Yeon-jae has cooled toward him, explaining that Yeon-jae must be feeling uncomfortable now that Hee-joo has told her of Eun-seok’s feelings.

Hee-joo winces, expecting him to blow up at her, but instead he just smiles ruefully: “That’s good. I feel lighter.” It had weighed on his mind, and he’d felt it was time to come clean anyway.

Hee-joo says that makes her feel worse, and that it would be better if he got angry at her. He teases, “If I got angry, you’d fall for me even more.” She giggles, and it’s sweet.

He tells her to put her webtoon back online if she wants, since it was her dream to be a manhwa writer. She asks him for one favor: a tango.

He can’t refuse her that, so they take their places right then and there, and he leads her in the steps.

Halfway through, she slips her hand out of his grasp and turns into his chest, and he holds her as she cries and smiles. It’s amazing how the tango scenes are even more moving than love scenes in this drama, saying so much in such a short sequence.

Yeon-jae chats with Hee-joo’s mother, who asks why she’s alone during treatments. Yeon-jae explains that while she has a mother, she hasn’t managed to tell her about her condition yet.

Hee-joo’s mother entreats her to consider it from her mother’s perspective, saying that it’ll be painful to know that her daughter was enduring all this alone without telling her.

Upon her discharge, Hee-joo says her goodbyes to Yeon-jae and boasts, “I danced with Dr. Eun-seok!” Yeon-jae says with mock disappointment that he was supposed to like her, and Hee-joo reminds Yeon-jae that she’s got her boyfriend: “Dr. Eun-seok is mine!” With that, they make up for their earlier tiff, and while Yeon-jae talks about seeing her for the next round of treatments, there’s a little extra meaning in Hee-joo’s words today, a finality to her goodbye.

Eun-seok drops in on Yeon-jae and returns her old book to her with a smile, telling her that he should have returned it years ago. Then he delivers Malbok to his friend and gives him instructions on how to take care of him. But a call sends him running back to the hospital, where Hee-joo suffers from hemoperitoneum, an accumulation of blood between the internal organs that requires surgery.

Hee-joo opens her eyes and holds out her hand, which he clutches tightly. But her vitals fail before she can get into surgery, and she dies right there in the emergency room bed. There’s a horrible moment between her death and Eun-seok’s realization of it, because he’s so caught up trying to revive her that it’s Mom who indicates that it’s over.

Eun-seok staggers dumbly through the halls and cries, collapsing in a darkened corridor.

Yeon-jae hears the news from a nurse, and finds Hee-joo’s mother in the mortuary section of the hospital. She finds Eun-seok some time later, still sitting in the hallway, and reaches out a comforting hand.

He breaks down in sobs as he asks her, “Please live. I don’t hope for anything else. But Yeon-jae-ah, I beg you to live.” Oh god, can’t type, tears are clouding my vision.

The next day, she finds Eun-seok’s office empty. His friend happens by and tells her that Eun-seok didn’t come to work today, and that he’s been acting strange lately, with his talk of regretting choosing his specialty and now Hee-joo’s death. He also tells her that Eun-seok was selected to go to M.D. Anderson, but is worried that he may let that opportunity slip by again.

Yeon-jae is discharged, and runs into Hee-joo’s mother on her way out, who tells her that she was told of Hee-joo’s worsened condition before her collapse. That gave her some time to prepare herself, and while she hadn’t told Hee-joo, she’d known anyway. Mom asks Yeon-jae to tell Eun-seok that Hee-joo had put her webtoon back online.

When Yeon-jae sees Ji-wook waiting for her by his car to pick her up, she’s overcome with emotion and hugs him tight. She asks him to take her somewhere, and arrives at Eun-seok’s door. He’s sitting inside amidst packed belongings, and ignores her for a several long moments before finally opening the door.

Yeon-jae tells him that Hee-joo’s webtoon is back up, and that her mother had asked him to take a look.

He opens up his laptop and reads her latest entry, which brings him to tears:

“I have happy news to share with all of you who have shown your love for my webtoon. Ah~! Today, I danced the tango with Dr. Eun-seok. My heart felt so warm and cozy. All the things I called him — king bastard, mean devil — cancel, cancel! Dr. Eun-seok smiling looked totally cool! Soooo touching. Hoping that he’ll smile lots to other patients, Hee-joo’s hospital days are, as of today, over. Hee-joo has been really, really happy all this time, and will be happy from here onward too. So, everybody, including Dr. Eun-seok, be happy!”

Yeon-jae’s especially quiet on the drive back, and Ji-wook guesses that something happened at the hospital. She tells him, “I’ll have to tell my mother. Will you cheer me on?” He nods and takes her hand.

Yeon-jae comes home to a chipper Mom, who declares that even though she’s terribly curious about her daughter’s getaway with Ji-wook, she will refrain from prying, because she’s a Mom who respects privacy.

Yeon-jae asks her mother what she would most like to do with her, and thus they end up on the Han River ferry. Yeon-jae’s surprised at this mundane activity, but Mom reminds her how she’d once said she wanted to ride it because she’d never been on it before. So they’d planned to ride the ferry, only Mom had gotten a stomachache and they’d had to go home, and Yeon-jae had been irritated. Mom had felt guilty and told herself to come back someday, and now feels light-hearted to have fulfilled that intention.

Afterward, they sit on the banks of the river (ack! The river of doom makes its reappearance) and Yeon-jae asks, “You know I love you a lot, right?” Mom’s smile fades, picking up on the shift in mood, and Yeon-jae works up to her confession: “I…I…have cancer. I’m sorry, Mom.”


Ah, and Scent of a Woman is back. What I love about this episode is that all the emotional ups and downs resonated with me and made an impact, whereas all the Daddy chaebol and fiancee chaebol nonsense put the characters into all this turmoil but left me feeling nothing. Aside from annoyance, that is.

What’s doubly great is that the emotional throughlines worked through each story thread in an organic way, in a way that felt natural and realistic with the characters. Hee-joo dying was a surprise on one level in that we didn’t see it coming, but not a surprise in that all of the events leading to it, and then following it, paid off in ways that were true to everybody. Eun-seok has been feeling more in touch with his patients, and his own emotions, and been letting more of his true sensitive nature come out over the course of the series…so when his adoring puppy-dog patient dies, it’s absolutely devastating.

Perhaps the old Eun-seok would have thrown a few things in private and then repressed his sadness, but this Eun-seok is heartbreakingly vulnerable, and it plays into his fears for Yeon-jae as well. It was painful to watch Yeon-jae beg her doctor to save her life in a previous episode, but watching her doctor beg her to live? That gutted me.

I also appreciate the way that the stories have dovetailed to create the moment of Yeon-jae’s confession to her mother. Despite feeling that she ought to have told Mom way before, I can see how she’d been too scared to ruin their brief happiness, and loved seeing how all these things have finally given her the push she needed to confide in her. Now that we’ve seen her screw up the courage to tell her the truth, I’m vastly relieved that Mom didn’t find out the truth accidentally, or through somebody else’s hand. This is one thing Yeon-jae really needed to come to terms with, because although Yeon-jae has had time to deal with her diagnosis, I don’t think that she was ready to fully accept it until she was ready to tell Mom, either.


131 September 10, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 15

by javabeans

No more secrets, just acceptance. It takes us 15 episodes to arrive here, at the message packed in this drama (and this episode in particular): Live with love, build your happiness on that, and make the most of the life you have while you have it. The message is universal and oft-heard, but still packs a punch when you see it lived out in characters you’ve grown attached to and rooted for over this many hours.


Scent of a Woman OST – “Bucket List” [ Download ]

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Yeon-jae tells her mother about her cancer, and Mom’s initial reaction is denial. She insists that they march right over to the hospital to confirm that she was misdiagnosed, and the longer Yeon-jae resists, the louder she insists.

But finally the truth sinks in, and Mom screams and sobs. She’s calmer on the drive home, but now she’s taken on a worrying stoic silence, and goes to her room without saying a word to Yeon-jae.

Ji-wook drops by during lunch hour to see Yeon-jae, who tells him that she’s concerned about both Mom and Eun-seok. The latter name still gets a rise out of Ji-wook, who’s a little jealous, to her amusement, but it’s mostly for levity’s sake that he pouts. He pretends something’s on her face to lean in and deliver a surprise kiss, keeping up a cheerful face until Yeon-jae goes back inside.

Yeon-jae shows up at Eun-seok’s door again, and fills him in on telling Mom about her cancer. But since Mom hasn’t fully registered it yet, Yeon-jae asks Eun-seok to deliver the results of her upcoming treatment to Mom, to help her accept the truth. She adds, “Don’t quit being a doctor. You asked me to live. I will live. Until I die, I’ll live diligently.”

Mom thinks back to Yeon-jae’s behavior of the recent past, now that they make sense. She comes home and confronts her about how long she’s known, angry and hurt that Yeon-jae has kept it secret for over two months. It’s a tough position, because both women have a point: Yeon-jae was afraid her mother would take it badly, but on the other hand, now Mom feels foolish and horrible. Yeon-jae’s decision inadvertently turns her into the bad guy, the bad mother who carried on blithely while her daughter was dying.

Mom has accepted the cancer part of Yeon-jae’s condition but she still doesn’t accept the death sentence, and says that this is different from when Dad fell ill. Now there are new medicines and therapies, and all Yeon-jae needs is some surgery, some chemo, and she’ll be fine. Yeon-jae gently tells her mother that it’s no use, that she’s beyond surgery. “But I’m okay, Mom.”

Now it all sinks in, and Mom falls to the floor, beating the ground and crying about her poor daughter. Yeon-jae grabs her and holds her close.

She talks to Ji-wook in tears that night, and although he’d like to be with her, he abides by her wishes and doesn’t press the issue. When he asks about her treatment tomorrow, she tells him she’ll go with Mom, and he doesn’t argue.

Eun-seok still hasn’t returned to work, and his boss tells him he’ll have to make a decision about his future today: Either go to MD Anderson or resign, but he can’t stay home and remain in limbo. He returns to the hospital and contemplates his doctor’s coat as he remembers Yeon-jae’s words about him being her doctor. And so, he tells his boss that he won’t be going anywhere. Yay!

Mom goes to her husband’s grave, sighing that he ought to have thrown some heavenly weight around to prevent this fate for their daughter. She cries out her grief, feeling miserable, but stops herself to say, “But I should still live, shouldn’t I? Since I’m her mother.”

Yeon-jae heads to the hospital alone since Mom isn’t around to come with her, and brightens to see Eun-seok there. She tells him that her mother hasn’t yet come to terms with the news, but to her surprise Mom walks into the lobby, smiling now.

Mom sits with Eun-seok to hear about her condition, thanking him for taking care of Yeon-jae and saying she’s glad he’s the one treating her. Mom confides that she’d had a terrible time with her husband’s illness, unable to do anything but cry daily: “And I became a mother who couldn’t be a source of support. That hurts my heart.” She starts to break down and admits she’s scared now too, but gets a grip on her tears and says, “But I have to be strong, because I’m her mother, and she’s my daughter.”

Aw, I knew Mom had it in her — I’d hoped we’d all been underestimating her strength, which seemed likely because Mom has been surprising me with her awesomeness in recent episodes. It’s so gratifying to see her rise above her weakness.

After the consultation, Mom comes out, her composure back in place, hugs Yeon-jae, and tells her the results: Her condition hasn’t worsened since the last treatment.

Stroking Yeon-jae’s hair, Mom says, “You’ve suffered a lot” in a way that shows she’s willing to be that emotional bedrock now and share in the burden of being strong.

Ji-wook presents his business proposal to the company executives to expand the company. President Kim — always at odds with Ji-wook even on a good day — quibbles that he’s too busy dating to have given his work much thought, but Manager Noh says that the Wando tour was so well-received that it’s been awarded a prize from the ministry of culture and tourism. (He then gripes to his team that he’d never thought he’d take Ji-wook’s side, but sighs that he has to in order to make up for his treatment of Yeon-jae.)

Ji-wook gets a call that jolts him to full attention (his feet literally snap together), and meets with Mom at a cafe. She confirms that he knows about Yeon-jae’s cancer, asking if he ever considered breaking up with her. He says that he won’t break up because he loves her.

Touched, Mom holds out her hand and pats his. She thanks him.

She’s been ignoring Teacher Kim’s calls recently, but accepts one today and meets him at a restaurant. He’s worried at her lack of contact, and when Mom starts speaking, it has that ring of finality: She tells him she was happy to date him, but she has to end it now. She’s thankfully frank, telling him that Yeon-jae’s very sick, and it feels inappropriate for her to be off dating. She apologizes and thanks him for making her feel like a woman in her own right, not just another ajumma or Yeon-jae’s mother.

Ji-wook drops by the house to show off the award he got for his Wando package, which is cute in a little-boy way. He also has a gift, and presents her with a new phone — to match his. He calls her to demonstrate, and when her phone rings, the caller is named “Mine.” Aw. How’d he get his hands on my Lee Jung-jae couple phone?

Ji-wook also tells her he’s planning to take her and Mom to Jeju Island next weekend, since this must be hard on them and they deserve a nice break. Yeon-jae has been quiet for most of this conversation, but now she steps forward and hugs him while he’s still mid-sentence. He teases, “Thinking about it myself, I really am sweet.” Ha. And modest!

Enter Bad Chaebol Daddy, who worries over Sae-kyung’s disappointed hopes. He calls a meeting with Ji-wook, and Chairman Im is actually quite calm and reasonable this time; he says he won’t retaliate or otherwise injure the company over his relationship. Thank goodness for that, although I suppose the generosity of this gesture is rather tarnished by the previous retaliation attempts. However, he has a condition for this deal, and requests that Ji-wook and his girlfriend stay out of sight of Sae-kyung. He clarifies: “Leave this country.”

OH GOOD LORD. Scratch that whole reasonable part. He’s not even your own kid and you’re trying to send him abroad? Puh-lease. Ji-wook, if you entertain this cockamamie proposal for more than a second, I swear I’m throwing something at your head.

Chairman Im is actually offended when Ji-wook rejects this (phew!), as though Ji-wook’s the upstart for not agreeing to uproot himself and his girlfriend and skip on over to another country because some dude with a pissy daughter asked him to.

Sae-kyung enters the office to rein Dad in — I’ve never been so relieved to see her — and says that she and Ji-wook were never suited for each other. To make sure Dad backs off, she adds that she didn’t want Ji-wook so much as he’d pissed her off. Wait, so am I supposed to like her for this? Because my eyes, they seem to be rolling back into my head of their own accord.

Afterward, Ji-wook asks Sae-kyung why she helped him. I guess basic human decency is out of the question for these chaebols? Sae-kyung replies that he’s got it hard enough already, and that nobody was there to support her love, so she can imagine how he feels. She adds that this doesn’t mean she’s actively supporting Ji-wook and Yeon-jae’s relationship, which in my book is a relief; you really don’t want that sourpuss on your side, tainting you with her bad juju, do you?

Teacher Kim asks to meet with Yeon-jae, happy to see that she’s looking healthy, and tells her that he heard she’s ill. She asks him to help her mother through this, but he says that Mom broke things off. He understands why she chose that, but he assures Yeon-jae that he doesn’t mean to give up on her.

Yeon-jae takes Mom out for dinner (overriding Mom’s homemade menu of healthy foods), where Teacher Kim awaits them. Mom excuses herself and walks out, and Yeon-jae chases her out to tell her that she doesn’t have to give up dating because of her. She actually wants Mom to date and remarry.

Mom interprets things differently, and her hurt bubbles over again: When Yeon-jae chose to keep her condition a secret, she basically insinuated that she’s a useless mother, someone unable to be a source of support in her time of need. And now, she wants her to date on top of that?

Yeon-jae: “I want for you to be happy.” Mom: “How can I be happy? How do I have the right to be happy?! When my daughter’s on the verge of death, what’s the point in me being happy?”

Teacher Kim appears and takes Mom aside. He explains how Yeon-jae was the one who sought him out, asked forgiveness, and gave him Mom’s contact information, urging him in his suit. He muses that the older he gets, the more he feels that life isn’t a big, grand thing — and that happiness consists of the little things, like living with the ones you love.

He entreats her not to feel guilty: “Being with you doesn’t mean I’m taking you away from Yeon-jae. Think of it as adding one more person in this world to love and treasure her.”

That night, Mom comes into Yeon-jae’s room and opens her arms, telling her, “Come here.” Mom embraces her, breathes in a sigh, and smiles.

Mother and daughter visit Dad’s grave, joined by Teacher Kim, who pays his respects.

Eun-seok’s friend is surprised at his decision not to go to MD Anderson, and is hilariously put out that their boss didn’t recommend him to go in Eun-seok’s stead, instead choosing the doctor he hates the most. He calls Eun-seok crazy for passing up the opportunity.

Eun-seok asks how Malbok is doing, and his friend calls him “my lone companion” and affectionately describes one of his cute behaviors. It’s good news, since they’ve bonded; Eun-seok smiles and says, “That’s great. Wanna return him to me?” Haha.

Yeon-jae calls to ask Eun-seok if he’s going to the milonga dance night that evening. He hedges that he’s embarrassed, but agrees to go. She tells Mom she’s got a date with two men tonight, which makes me wonder if the two men know they’re sharing her.

She arrives at the studio and meets the others from her class, who haven’t seen her in a while and have moved on to the next level in her absence. As the dancing begins, Eun-seok arrives and leads Yeon-jae onto the dance floor. Ji-wook arrives in the middle of their dance and immediately pouts childishly, but smiles just as quickly.

After her dance, he teases her, reminding her that she promised not to dance with another man before his arrival, which had totally slipped her mind. Yeon-jae giggles, admitting she’d always wanted two men to fight over her, and both men retort in unison, “We’re not fighting.”

When she steps aside to chat with Veronica, the men ask each other to take good care of her — one as doctor, the other as boyfriend. Ji-wook asks if there are cases when patients live longer than expected, “like a miracle.” Eun-seok answers that they happen, but they’re rare.

I love the friendly vibe that has developed between the two men, where jealousy only plays a joking role — like when Ji-wook informs Eun-seok of their upcoming trip to Jeju Island, and pointedly asks if he’d like anything as a souvenir. Ha. Eun-seok just invites him for a drink upon their return.

Teacher Kim asks to speak with Yeon-jae, telling her of his intention to propose to her mother and asking her if that would be okay. Tearily, she nods and asks him to stay with her mother “for a long, long time.” Thus she takes a particular interest in making Mom look pretty for her date and urges her to stay out late. Ha, I just love the parent-child reversals in this show, and how cute Yeon-jae and her mother are now that they’re not at odds.

The older couple goes to a temple and makes wishes. Mom only has thoughts of Yeon-jae’s health, but Teacher Kim has two wishes: one is for Yeon-jae, and the other one is to be able to spend the rest of his life with Mom. Seeing her hesitantion, he tells her he’ll wait for her response.

Jeju Island. Mom marvels at the wonderful view, thrilled to be here, and asks how to thank Ji-wook for planning this. He replies that she can just dote on him forever, ha.

Mom asks how they’ll handle room assignments and Ji-wook promptly replies, “Of course, Yeon-jae and I will…” and then makes a show of deflating, “use separate rooms. I’ll use this room by myself. It’ll be so, so lonely. All alone.” Ha. He even sighs pathetically for added effect.

They go out to enjoy the day, taking photos and walking along the beach. Mom watches fondly as the couple frolics on the shore, and thanks Ji-wook again for the trip when he joins her. He suggests that they go on trips every weekend, but she tells him that he and Yeon-jae ought to go as a couple, since time is precious. It’s bittersweet, this relinquishing of her claim on her daughter, but also really touching.

Ji-wook softens that blow by telling Mom about how he’d wanted to move in together, but Yeon-jae had declined: “To her, Mom is number 1.” As proof, he shows Mom the cell phone photos he’d taken of Yeon-jae’s bucket list.

Mom flips through the photos, revealing a few more wishes that we haven’t seen before, like item 11, “Receive a proposal to make every woman in the world envious.” Item 12 is “Do volunteer work in my free time.” Item 13: “Get Mom remarried.”

That one is the one that breaks the dam and makes Mom cry, and quite possibly changes her mind.

Yeon-jae hunches over in pain that night, but she hides it from Mom as they get ready for bed. It’s only after Mom’s asleep that Yeon-jae heads to the outer room, curling up in pain. Ji-wook can’t fall asleep and hears something, and rushes to her side. He wants to take her to the hospital, but she shakes her head and shushes him, not wanting to wake Mom. She tells him it’ll pass, which indicates she’s used to these spells.

Unable to do anything else to help, Ji-wook takes her in his arms and holds her. In the morning, Mom wakes up in an empty bed and finds the two cuddling on the couch together, which brings a smile to her face.

Taking a morning walk, Mom watches older couples walking hand in hand, quite possibly thinking of her own future, when she’s surprised by the appearance of Teacher Kim. They look at each other in shock over the coincidence, and Teacher Kim explains that he comes here every weekend. Adorably, when she asks if that’s true, he admits that no, actually, Yeon-jae had tipped him off. Hee.

He joins their party, but Yeon-jae invents a transparent excuse about having plans with Ji-wook, giving the older couple an excuse to be alone. She hastens away with Ji-wook, leaving Mom sputtering and fooling no one.

Now it’s Mom’s turn to walk along the beach and receive flowers from her man, while Yeon-jae and Ji-wook have a date of their own. The quartet reconvenes for lunch, where the men operate the grill and Teacher Kim wonders if Ji-wook is finding the situation difficult, with Yeon-jae so sick.

Ji-wook answers no, because it would have been harder not having her with him. Teacher Kim can relate, ruefully telling him that he’s stumbled upon that realization quite young.

As the sun sets, Ji-wook and Yeon-jae sit on the beach, and she shows him the necklace she’s wearing, from their Okinawa beer-drinking outing. He asks, “You wanted to kiss me then, didn’t you?” She declines to answer, but her sheepish expression clearly reads, Busted!

He thanks her for being with him, just as the strains of “Por Una Cabeza” start playing on the outdoor speakers. It’s the tango anthem, and he looks mighty pleased with himself (he’d planned it, natch) as he leads her in a dance.

As the song ends, she tells him, “I love you.”


This was a quiet episode, but quite moving for the lack of angst. Actually, I’m relieved that they pulled back on that; when the bad chaebols made their appearance, I nearly blew a gasket at their ridiculous, smug entitlement issues until that was thankfully quelled. If that’s the last we see of Sae-kyung and Co., I will be ecstatic.

Being so used to the rhythm of kdrama series, I was expecting all this heartwarming development to end in some kind of crisis, like Yeon-jae falling into her final decline by the end of the episode. I was relieved when that didn’t happen (I’m anticipating tomorrow’s finale with equal anticipation and dread), and found that that actually makes the episode stand out more to me. More than any other episode, this one really highlights the drama’s whole purpose of showing us what it means to live, regardless of the certainty of death. Mom’s totally right when she cries that she can’t be happy when her daughter’s dying, but Yeon-jae has just as much of a point in urging Mom to think of the life that she’ll lead after she’s gone. As she tells Eun-seok, she’ll keep living until she dies — an obvious statement, except for the fact that it’s a concept that many living people seem to take for granted, such as Yeon-jae before her cancer diagnosis.

I like that we’re given an opportunity to let Mom rise to the occasion, rather than assuming the worst of her and not giving her the option. That’s what chafed with me when Yeon-jae kept hiding the truth (although I sympathized with her fear), because it was like she’d decided Mom was going to be a certain way, that her hysteria was a foregone conclusion. It’s nice to see how much she was wrong on that front, and that Mom got a chance to be the kind of mother she wished she could be the first time around when Dad was sick.

Oh god, tomorrow’s gonna be a doozy, isn’t it?


271 September 11, 2011January 24, 2016

Scent of a Woman: Episode 16 (Final)

by girlfriday

It’s the end of the road, and time for Yeon-jae to say her goodbyes and tie up all her loose ends. Normally I loathe finales that are a lineup of all the players, saying goodbye like a checklist, but when you’re talking about going to the big dance floor in the sky, everything takes on heightened meaning and each hug and kiss feels precious. I guess that’s what makes a bucket list different from a regular list.


Kim Sun-ah, Lee Dong-wook – “우리 다시” [ Download ]

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It’s Mom’s wedding day, and Yeon-jae smiles brightly at the sight of her looking pretty in her wedding dress. Mom sheds tears, overcome with emotion, but Yeon-jae asks her to be happy: “You have to be happy, so that I can be happy.” I love that she marries Mom off. That makes ME happy.

Teacher Kim’s jaw drops appropriately at the sight of her, and they all gather for a family portrait, and include Ji-wook who joins them happily. Yeon-jae gets to cross “Get Mom remarried” off her bucket list with a big sunny smiley face.

She heads out of the house, and pauses when she sees Mom and Teacher Kim washing dishes together, overcome with happiness at a glimpse of Mom’s future, filled with support and love.

It’s the little stuff like this that really gets me in this drama. One look filled with such a wave of emotions – happiness at Mom’s future, sorrow at being unable to stay, gratitude that someone will be her security.

After Yeon-jae leaves, Mom wonders if living together in one house was a good idea, and wonders if sending her to Ji-wook would be the right thing to do. Yes, please.

Yeon-jae goes to visit Eun-seok, and he asks how her bucket list is going. She’s surprised he knows about it, and he says that Hee-joo told him about it once. She says that there’s still a lot she wants to accomplish, and hopes that her body will hold out till then.

She comes over to Ji-wook’s place to make good on her promise to make him dinner, and refuses to let him help. He decides that he’ll just backhug her the whole time then, since it’s not considered helping. Why so cute?

He asks again why she’s not living with him, especially now that Mom’s happily remarried. But she tells him he knows why. He assures her that he loves Lee Yeon-jae, not just Healthy Lee Yeon-jae. But she throws back that he ought to love the Lee Yeon-jae who doesn’t live with him as much as the Lee Yeon-jae who does.

Manager Noh goes about his usual business, taking credit for the Wando Tour in interviews and such, and is startled to get a call from Yeon-jae. He apologizes again for the way he treated her, but reminds her that he already made amends with his butt. HA.

She’s not here to roast him anymore though, and hands him a tour package that she’s been working on. The proposal is called “A Trip Mom Likes,” described as a mom-and-daughter date, as friends and family. Aw.

He asks why she’s giving it to him, and she tells him that she started working on it when his mother passed away, and he regretted so much that he never once took her anywhere. She asks him to turn it into a tour if he can.

Back at the office, he proposes it to Ji-wook, who okays it right away, impressed that Manager Noh came up with it himself. At the last minute he caves and says it was Yeon-jae’s proposal, not his. Wow, he’s growing a conscience!

Yeon-jae takes Mom and Stepdad out for a fancy lobster dinner, and I love that already she and Stepdad have this teasing, knowing rapport with each other, while Mom continues to be overly cautious and wary Mom.

She for instance complains that they’re paying too much for oversized shrimp, but then immediately changes her opinion at the sight of the tasty lobsters. Heh.

Ji-wook comes by to ask why she handed the trip proposal off to Manager Noh instead of doing it herself, and suggests that she come back to work. She knows there are no assurances that she’ll be able to finish what she starts, and doesn’t want to start a project that she can’t complete.

He promises that he won’t let that happen, and sets off to put the plan into action. He asks Eun-seok first if he thinks it’ll be okay for her, or too much of a physical strain. (I love that he thinks to check with the Doc first.)

Eun-seok is honest and says that it could provide strain and be hard on her, but he approves of the plan, because giving her purpose is good. So Ji-wook goes to Dad next, and shows him the proposal.

Dad balks at the idea of bringing Yeon-jae in when there’s no guarantee that she can finish the job, but Ji-wook stands up to Dad, asking how he’d feel if he were diagnosed the same and Ji-wook told him he couldn’t go anywhere or do anything.

And by some miracle, as if empathy just now entered his life, Dad relents.

Mom and Stepdad see Yeon-jae off on her first day back to work, and Mom frets, but Stepdad assures her that it’s good for her, and that he hasn’t seen her so lively in weeks. He even tries to make friends with crotchety landlord, eliciting an almost-smile from the man, possibly for the first time in his life.

Yeon-jae heads back to work to mixed reactions from the planning team, but takes it all in stride. The only thing that rattles her is running into Ji-wook’s father, who gives her a cold dismissal.

The jealous girls at work guess that he must disapprove of her, and she actually manages to win them over slightly by just being honest that she’s not exactly a perfect catch. She tells them that she came back because she really wanted to launch a tour with her name behind it, and assures everyone that she’s here to work hard, not date.

Sae-kyung turns down offers from Dad to go on a blind date (Gah, are you two still here?) and begs him to let her live her own love life like normal people. She goes to see Ji-wook for work, and he thanks her for the save last time, and says he’s sorry.

She tells him to take care of his father on his birthday, since she can’t do it herself anymore, and he offers up a handshake as she leaves. She muses that it seems like goodbye forever, and takes his hand and walks out with a bittersweet smile.

I don’t know if you were supposed to grow on us or something, but good riddance.

Yeon-jae calls Ji-wook over that evening and gives him a present. He opens it up and smiles, saying that the sweater isn’t really his style, but he’ll wear it for thirty years. She laughs, clarifying that it’s not for him; it’s for his father.

He’s shocked she knows it’s Dad’s birthday, but she reminds him that she worked for Line Tours for over ten years. He tries not to accept it, feeling guilty about how his father has been treating her, but she insists he deliver the gift.

She comes in and lies down in bed, and Mom sweetly tells her not to fret over Ji-wook’s father, since she’s dating Ji-wook, and not his dad. Yeon-jae just asks to rest since she’s feeling tired, and Mom worries, wondering if they should go to the hospital.

Yeon-jae insists she’s fine, and when Mom nags her about going back to work and tiring herself out, she tells her that going back to work makes her happy. She asks for a hug and Mom holds her.

Ji-wook contemplates the gift and heads over to see Dad, who’s drinking soju alone on his birthday. Sad. He makes it clear why he’s alone though, as he asks why his son is even here and pushes Yeon-jae’s gift off the table in anger.

Ji-wook brushes it off and puts it right back, telling Dad that he wasn’t going to come by, but Yeon-jae insisted he bring her present over, so he’s here. Dad grumbles that his only child has turned his back on him for a woman who’s dying, and offers snidely that he must be happy.

Ji-wook: There are times I’m sad, and times I want to cry. And there are times it hurts so much it rips my heart. But I’m still happy. Every day used to feel tedious and meaningless. I even thought that I wouldn’t care if I died. But now it’s different. I want to live fully… because of that woman.

[“Live fully” is a broad translation, because he means to live life full of effort, like the equivalent of “work hard,” as in “live hard.”]

He takes out a piece of paper and puts it down. He tells Dad that this is his present – it’s the time capsule letter from Mom, that Yeon-jae helped him find. He tells Dad that in it, Mom asked him not to hate his father. He wishes him a happy birthday and leaves.

Yeon-jae leaves the house for her last day of work, and Mom happily tells her that starting tomorrow, she’s to stick to Mom’s side 24 hours a day. They hug each other and Mom worries that she’s feverish, but she says it must be nerves.

The trip launch is a success and Ji-wook takes the team out to dinner to celebrate. Yeon-jae steps out, not feeling well, and when Ji-wook comes out to check on her, he’s shocked that at her fever.

He picks her up and races to the hospital, and even in her feverish state, she puts a hand on his arm to tell him to drive safely. The co-workers wonder where the pair have gone off to, and Hye-won finally tells them the truth, that they left for the hospital.

Eun-seok races down to them in the emergency room, and with a silent look, reassures Ji-wook that he’ll do what he can. Mom and Stepdad have arrived, and Eun-seok sits all of them down to tell them that they’ve managed to get her fever down, but now they face a choice.

The chemo she’s been receiving has stopped working, so they can choose to stop the meds, where they can regulate her remaining days at best. The other option is to try the experimental drug instead, which has an unknown outcome and greater (also unpredictable) risk.

Ji-wook asks Eun-seok privately what the right decision is, and Eun-seok says that as a doctor, he can’t say that one is better than the other. But he does know that Yeon-jae will get through it, no matter which route they take, because she got through the last trauma.

Aw, his childlike faith in her to get through it just breaks my heart for some reason.

Yeon-jae wakes up and asks Mom if it’s bad. Mom tells her no, she got past her fever so she’s better now. Ji-wook offers to stay with Yeon-jae for the day, and suggest the parents go rest.

He sees them out, and Mom tells him that she can’t bring herself to make the decision. He says that he’ll decide, together with Yeon-jae, and that relieves Mom. He asks that they give him till tonight to decide.

Eun-seok comes in to check on Yeon-jae while she sleeps, and he clasps her hand as he thinks of their past adventures. Aw, is it weird that I’m worried most for Eun-seok? I feel like he’s going to take it harder than Ji-wook. Even the quick flashback to the scene in the corridor just makes me cry all over again.

Everyone in the office worries about Yeon-jae’s condition, and Sae-kyung comes by for her meeting with Ji-wook but finds he didn’t come to work. His father tells her that he’s at the hospital.

And then she goes there, for some crazy reason. She braces herself before opening the door, and can’t hide the sting to her ego when she sees Ji-wook and Yeon-jae sitting together, hands clasped, so obviously in love. Well it’s not like anyone invited you to their lovefest.

She asks for a moment alone with Yeon-jae, and then proceeds to tell her that she came by because she felt guilty that the last words she said were vengeful ones. She even apologizes for the ring incident, with the giant caveat, “But it was only logical I reached that conclusion.”

Pffft. So lemme get this straight. You came to visit a dying woman to clear your OWN puny conscience? Hahahaha. Even Yeon-jae has to laugh that Sae-kyung is consistent, which she says may be her only good trait.

Yeon-jae guesses that she likes Ji-wook, and Sae-kyung asks what she’ll do if that’s the case. Yeon-jae tells her cheekily, “Give up. As long as I’m here, you can’t [have him].” Hee. They both laugh.

Oh, I friggin’ LOVE that she’s not relinquishing her claim on her man, even in the face of death. I got scared she was going to ask Sae-kyung to wait around and comfort him or something, which would have made me pull my hair out. Yay for Yeon-jae, finally adopting Hee-joo’s brand of living to the last minute as if she’s going to live forever.

Ji-wook looks over the bucket list and we see a few more: “Become someone meaningful in someone else’s life,” “Leave an impression of my life,” “Be remembered as an awesome woman by the people I know,” “Make a snowman on a white Christmas and get a kiss.”

The desire to leave an impression, some evidence that you were here, is what kills me the most. It’s probably the most universal of all dying wishes, other than leaving with no regrets.

She apologizes to Eun-seok that they had to meet this way instead of just as old friends. She wonders why of all the hospitals she came to this one. He just smiles and says if she feels bad then she should keep her promise.

Yeon-jae: “To live?” He nods. Aw.

Ji-wook asks Eun-seok for permission to take her out on a date, so they head out, and he covers her shoulders with a blanket and tells her that it’s Christmas. She thinks he’s loony, but he wheels her outside, and on cue, a snow machine sends snowflakes down on them.

She guesses that he’s seen her bucket list, and he tells her not to misunderstand – that he’s just doing this because it might not snow this Christmas, so he’s covering his bases is all. How cute.

He tells her that this concludes sixteen of her wishes, and says that she can do the last four much, much later, and they can go dig up the ring together. He gives her a kiss, and she hugs him.

He wheels her back inside, and they’re both surprised to see Ji-wook’s father, standing next to Yeon-jae’s parents. He finally gives a silent nod and smile, and Ji-wook smiles at him gratefully.

That night he holds Yeon-jae as he sleeps next to her in her hospital bed, and he says that they have a choice to make. Ji-wook: “I’m going to choose the one that hasn’t lost hope. Is that okay?”

She tells him it’s okay, and falls asleep in his arms.

In that chapel in Okinawa, Yeon-jae and Ji-wook walk down the aisle and get married to each other. It’s beautiful, but dreamlike, and as we cut back to Yeon-jae lying in Ji-wook’s arms, in voiceover she says, “This must be a dream, right? But it’s a happy dream, so I’ll sleep a little longer…”

Aw, she fulfills the last of her wishes to fall asleep in the end, in Ji-wook’s arms.

Sometime later, Stepdad gets a package in the mail, from Yeon-jae, which surprises him. He and Mom open it up to find couple tees, each one half of a big heart. They smile to read the card that says she’s sending small gifts the important people who were with her in her life.

One by one, people receive gifts with notes. Hye-won gets baby clothes and a note that says she hopes baby takes after Mom and not Dad. The mean girls in the office get clothes and accessories, and a note that says it’d be nice if they were as pretty on the inside as they are on the outside. Heh.

Ramses gets a note that says he ought to be as confident at work as he is at the dance studio, and inside is a toupee! Haha. To Veronica and the rest of the dance class, she sends a box of dance shoes, and a note that says, “They say good shoes bring you happiness. I spent some money!” Cute.

Manager Noh gets a jar of taffy (it’s not creamy like taffy, but I can’t think of how else to describe it – it’s like a sticky, sweet caramel-like substance), but the gift is more of a word pun than anything else. The stuff is called yeot, and when you tell someone to “Go eat yeot,” it’s like a putting a hex on them to have a hard time, like Eat dirt or thereabouts.

Crotchety landlord gets a stuffed doggie (HA) with a note that says: “They say Malbokie is living well somewhere.” That’s the best present of the lot.

Sae-kyung gets Wilson’s ring, and the message says that it’s a lucky ring, so that she can snare a good man. Heh. And Ji-wook’s father gets a tie pin, with a note saying that Ji-wook insisted on picking it out, and she probably should have stopped him.

Eun-seok’s note is another pun that says: “Wow, Poopy-seok’s [ddong-seok] become a warm man! [dda-do-nam]” His present is a new doctor’s coat that has “Warm Man Choi Eun-seok” stitched into it. So cute. Congratulations on graduating from being identified as a pants-pooper.

He smiles as he reads her thank you. And in voiceover she continues:

Yeon-jae: The time that I spent with all of you…in the end that was my life. Thank you for being by my side.

And in the house that he bought for Yeon-jae, Ji-wook sits at his desk, slowly filling out the last of Yeon-jae’s bucket list with smiley faces, as she had done. He gets to number 20: “Fall asleep for the last time in the arms of the one I love,” and draws a happy face.

Wow, that’s heartbreaking.

And then he goes outside…to join Yeon-jae? She didn’t die? Fakeout! Show, you fakey fakerson. She’s totally not dead!

She replants the potted plant she once gave him under a big tree, and he asks if it’s because it has to endure a harsh winter before flowers will bloom. She nods.

He says it’s time to go and he leads her by the hand. They go to see an organ donation organization to seek a transplant, but get denied because of her condition. Ji-wook begins the paperwork to be a direct organ donor.

At the hospital, Ji-wook and Eun-seok sit together and watch Yeon-jae from afar, and Eun-seok says that since the experimental treatment worked, they’ll keep her on it. Ji-wook wonders how much longer she’ll get to live, and Eun-seok says it’s a miracle she’s made it this far.

Ji-wook: “It’s rare, but another miracle will happen, right?” Eun-seok: “Of course.”

Yeon-jae comes up and asks what they’re talking about without her. Eun-seok: “We fought over you. You said it was your fantasy.” Hahahaha.

Yeon-jae and Ji-wook come by to visit her parents, and she watches happily as Mom dotes on Ji-wook.

Later, Yeon-jae sits under their tree and looks out at the world as she says in voiceover:

Yeon-jae: It’s been over six months since I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And I’m now living my seventh month and second day. How much time will be given to me, I cannot know. Whether days or months, or more days beyond, it’s not important. I just have to live each day that I’m alive, this moment right now… without regret.

She flips through her bucket list and gets to number 20, and finds the happy face Ji-wook drew, along with an addendum at the bottom: “This is being fulfilled every day. Because every day you’re falling asleep in my arms.”

She reads it with a smile, and then she flips to the next page, and begins to write number 21…

Ji-wook sits down next to her and asks if she would have been much happier if she had never been sick. She contemplates the old curly-haired Yeon-jae who was so meek she never said a word, and muses that she never would have taken a trip, never thought to get her mom remarried, never would have gotten close to Ji-wook.

She guesses that she would’ve just continued to barely get through each day, “only dreaming of happiness.”

Yeon-jae: “But me… right now… I’m happy.” She asks what they should do tomorrow, and they sit together and contemplate what they’d like to do, on the seventh month and third day since Yeon-jae began truly living her life.


What a sweet and surprisingly angst-free finale. I didn’t initially understand why she went back to work, only from a finale point of view. I like it for the character, but I regretted wasting precious finale time on her going back to the office and dealing with inane people, when she could’ve done more with Poopy-seok or Ji-wook or her parents.

But I realized that the finale was about Yeon-jae rounding out her life and filling it with purpose, rather than just preparing for the end. That’s what I was doing, bracing myself for the end, forgetting about how she’d spend her days.

I like that the drama stays realistic, despite subverting expectations that she’d die. It’s not a miracle cure, but a chance at lengthening her life, and as she says, it doesn’t matter whether it’s days or months. She’ll still die, but so will we all. What’s important is that she learned to consider each day precious. I thought the message of this drama was to live each day as if it were your last, but really, it’s the reverse: Live each day as if you have a tomorrow.

She learned the first in the beginning of the drama and the arc for her is that she learned to do the second. The people in her life — Eun-seok who childishly made her promise to live and put his faith in her word, and Ji-wook who dared to hope when she didn’t – taught her to hope and dream for her future against all odds.

I love the moment when she writes 21 on her bucket list. It’s such a simple way to indicate that she’s learned to think of a future, regardless of how much time is given to her. Rather than try so doggedly to live out her first 20 wishes knowing they were her last, she’s willing to dream new dreams, which is maybe the biggest triumph of all, and why the ending is happy and not bittersweet.

Usually shows end with a message thanking viewers for watching, but Scent ends with a message for viewers to be happy, which is the sweetest little send-off, and feels like it comes straight from Yeon-jae herself.


Now this is my idea of a perfect ending — one that doesn’t shy away from the topic of death, doesn’t introduce deus ex machina miracles, but doesn’t hit you over the head with its sadness, either.

It seems fitting, in an oddly backwards way, that a drama where we knew from minute 1 that the heroine was going to die didn’t actually have the heroine die. Diagnosis to decline to death — that’s what we expected. And I do think there are ways to make that trajectory work fine, although the danger of that arc is that it gives the drama an unintentionally macabre cast because then the narrative arc mimics the progression of her disease. (I find that idea rather morbid, that as the character grows, so does the cancer.) But I like the unconventional way the drama worked out Yeon-jae’s character arc, so that it becomes much less about her physical condition and more about her emotional progress.

We still know she’s going to die, but I love that she continues on. Adding to her bucket list was a particularly awesome detail, because she did everything she wanted to accomplish before dying, and some people may take that as their cue to sigh peacefully, “Ah, now I can go without any regrets.” But not Yeon-jae, who just figures that she can accomplish more. Like she told Eun-seok, she’s going to keep living life to the fullest until she can’t anymore. It’s also reflected in Ji-wook telling his father about having once thought that he’d be fine with dying, but now he’s changed his mind and prefers to live his life diligently.

While Yeon-jae has been making an effort to make the most of every minute for the last six months, there’s extra poignancy to the fact that she has exceeded her six-month life expectancy, because every extra day is a day she’s defied the odds. She gets her miracle after all, like Eun-seok mentions, and every day she survives and feels complete contentment is another little miracle.

The drama wasn’t flawless throughout, and there were a few real downer episodes that supplied a certain amount of frustration, but the last couple I give perfect marks, and I’ll put it up there with Flowers For My Life in terms of uplifting endings that deal with death. I know a lot of people liked the resolution of 49 Days, but for me that was the opposite of Scent and Flowers. [SPOILERY] 49 Days was a drama that emphasized the fight to survive, then sprung a death on us in the last episode and tried to temper it with the life-and-death-is-a-cycle motif. That totally didn’t work in my book, mostly because I thought the execution was labored and unsatisfying, and it felt like the drama took an uplifting message and managed to convey it in the most depressing way possible. Scent (and Flowers) takes a depressing topic but leaves us with an uplifting sense of hope, in showing us that while there’s no way to triumph over Death, we can still have our daily victories by filling our lives to the brim.