Reminder that we will be maintaining these recaps as spoiler free as we can, so keep your comments within the current episodes, s’il vous plait. It is nicer to the new viewers and more fun to pretend we don’t know what happens next.
Conquerors on horseback invade a town, knocking market stalls and sending the citizens running. A couple steals into a shed-like building and start to get sexy. She pretends to be the conquered one, arms up on the post, but not tied, while he says suggestive things.
The woman relishes his lewd behavior, smiles and removes her clothing. Confirming their mutual attraction, they decide the time is now and she calls him…. “Oppa?” (Hold on – not Oreboni?) He pushes her more forcefully against the post, when it falls over from their weight, and they crash down with it. Like dominoes, that sends the next post down, too, then the walls, revealing their tryst to the whole town. The attackers stop mid kill, the townspeople look up in surprise.
The couple giggles in embarrassment as a voice over clarifies the situation. This is a pair of extras on the set of Jumong getting it on on the set.
A woman, Go Byung-hee, pushes herself away from her keyboard congratulating herself on what a novel idea this story has. She laughs and comments that film sets may look grand, but they really aren’t that stable.
She types the dialog between the pair in a high-pitched sexy voice that includes such gems as “You must be hungry for it” “Do you like that?” “I’m going crazy…” and climaxes in time with the phone ringing, typing her “Oh oh oh oh oh’s” in ecstasy.
She answers the call “This is C’est Si Bon magazine, how can I help you?” A customer complains that the item he received wasn’t working for him. As she offers advice for his sex-toy, we get a visual tour of the office and an idea of what the company is like. Old fashioned and a little shabby. Posters of scantily clad girls with come hither looks paper the walls. Spilled water and ice cubes are left untouched. “Men’s” magazines are displayed and piled here and there and a weight-lifting bench sits idle near a small fridge.
When nothing she offers helps, she tells Mr. Customer he can send it back. Suddenly he says it works, and that her voice is sexier than the dolls. She musses her hair and hangs up agreeing that indeed she does have a sexy voice.
Needing to stretch, she struts away from her desk towards a stand-up mirror, detailing all her sexy traits while caressing herself: A perfect S line. Shoulders that are the envy of others. Abs like Lee Hioris. Wild hair style and kissable lips and beautiful eyes.
Very coolly, she says, no it isn’t. He is about to leave, when he tells her he did knock but she didn’t hear it, to which she responds that she was busy.
A delayed, but very embarrassed reaction follows.
In shock, she covers her mouth, then repeats, “What to do?” trying to figure out when he came in and what he heard while banging her head on the copier. LOL The noise wakes up her co-worker, Jo Sung-ran, who was out cold at her desk the whole time
Did he hear the part about shoulders, Lee Hiori stomach, the “Give it to me, Big Boy?”
In the hall, Hee-myung laughs and looks at the shabbiness of the place, wiping dust from a poster. Another man, Hwang Yong-gil, comes up the stairs. They know each other. Yong-gil apologizes for being late for their appointment, but he had to make a trip to the Board of Censors to defend an article about “Five Types of Massage” in a past issue.
Once inside, he addresses the woman as “Miss Go” kidding that she’s not going to break the copier with her meager strength, the goes to his desk complaining about the heat. Hee-myung keeps laughing.
Miss Go lets the boss know she handled another call from “that magazine inspector.” The boss asks where Sung-ran is, who pops up wiping drool from her mouth. Her man radar goes off, though, and she quickly puts her glasses on to see the new specimen in the room.
Miss Go hesitates to bring up another problem with the “Cyborgs” (I can only imagine…), but Boss wants to know, “Cyborgs –what about them?” So she tells him there were a lot of defectives.
Boss offers one to Hee-myung, who objects, “Hyung!” before his friend retracts the offer saying an expert like him would have no need. Byung-hee eyes him considering what the Boss said.
The air conditioner is on the fritz so the boss wants to leave with his friend. He tells Sung-ran to put the coffee on ice, and, advisers her to stop eating so much ice as it is bad for her stomach. As he leaves, he asks Miss Go when she would be done for the day. This time, she corrects him, saying she is “Reporter” Go not “Miss” Go. He tries to blow off her concern, but you can tell it rankles.
Then the boss, who has been complaining about the heat, says. “It’s really cold,” and turns off Byung-hee’s fan.
The two men leave, and Hee-myung has a parting shot “You really were sexy back then.” A “Hehn?” of shock is her answer, and she gripes that he couldn’t have pretended not to see it.
Sung-ran rushes over asking who the handsome man was and wonders how such a classy guy could have a crude friend like their boss. Byung-hee agrees that the fact that he flirted with her makes him OK in her book. Sung-ran’s face shows disgust.
To some sexy background music, we see the printing press and production line for the “C’est Si Bon” magazine – ending with the delivery to the stores.
Hoping to find a room in another inn, he rings the doorbell at the green door entrance of a house, to no response again. Not letting that stop him, he climbs over the wall and opens the door from the inside. He obviously has been there before since he finds the hidden key under the flower pot and goes in, proceeding to feed himself while reading from Byung-hee’s article.
Byung-hee shops at the market, texting her mother from her real estate office on what she wants. She buys fish and frog’s legs. At a high end fashion boutique, we see a gorgeous model, Byung-hee’s s sister, Joon-hee, in a stunning gown, texting that she will be late because she has to try on some dresses.
Byung-hee goes into the house Scruffy just entered. She calls out for her mother – surprised she would be home already. The shower is running so she continues the conversation about the frog’s legs while cleaning up the bowls of food left on the table. Embarrassed to see her magazine out, she folds it in half, hiding it. She asks “Why did you spend money to buy it” when she could bring it home for free? Her mother doesn’t answer from the shower. She walks closer, notices a shirt on the floor. Did her mother buy some new clothes? Flash to the shower, thank you very much, and Scruffy is looking mighty manly in his bare shoulders, chest and arms.
Mom starts to apologize that she won’t be able to make it on time for dinner because of a client meeting when Byung-hee freaks out, telling her the man who stole their panties is in the shower.
The water stops and Byung-hee panics, her mother, rushing out of her shop, tells her daughter to go get a weapon from the shoe cabinet.
Suddenly Scruffy comes out of the bathroom in a towel. Without seeing who it is, Byung-hee grabs a floor lamp to protect herself. She keeps her eyes clenched tight, warning him to not come closer, taking a couple swings at the intruder.
This terrifies her, calling him a psycho and vainly attempting to hit him blindly. He remarks that her violent nature makes her even more attractive to him, so she charges, again, without seeing her target. The top of the lamp hits the ceiling and she falls onto her back on the floor. She groans in pain, and even Scruffy winces in sympathy.
Next scene Chul-su is ducking flying videos at a rental store. He calls the woman, “Noonah” who is trying to kill him by DVD case, yelling at him that he never called, and she regrets having not killed him.
He keeps trying to apologize that no news is good news right? Byung-hee is running here and there trying to clean up after the crazy sister, Park Seung-hye. The last thing Seung-hye picks up to throw causes Chul-su to cry, “Not that! Careful! Careful!” but she tosses it anyway and he manages to grab it before it his the ground.
His response that Brother-in-law must not be doing his job right if his sister is that bad off. His sister finally breaks down in tears saying all men are jerks, and Byung-hee fills him in on their divorce.
Now, very remorseful, he sits on the floor across from his sobbing sister, taking her repeated blows and hugging her.
Byung-hee tells him was Seung-hye was so worried about him she never stopped calling and emailing the embassies looking for news, but heard nothing. He pats his sister’s back calling her his “Crybaby sister,” and she keeps hitting him while he holds on. Byung-hee complains if she ever sticks her nose into their arguments again, they should call her Ok Kyung, but smiles at their peaceful, in the end, reunion. They keep hugging as Byung-hee collects the DVDs off the floor.
Seung-hye leads them all down a darkened staircase to a machinery, garbage and cob-webbed filled basement.
The reason she chose this site for her store was this basement, where once he fixes it up with his carpentry skills, Chul-su can live for a low monthly rent. Chul-su complains at first, since it really is a dump, but Seung-hye says he can live in the subway instead and storms out. She had to sell her house and afterwards there was only enough money for a single bedroom apartment. We find out, as Chul-su walks through inspecting his new digs, with Byung-hee on his heels, that Seung-hye’s divorce happened as a result of her ex going millions into debt.
Byung-hee says the couple was at the courthouse getting divorced so quickly she didn’t have a chance to talk them out of it. In-ho, Chul-su’s former brother-in-law, was too honest, to which Chul-su replies, “Sometimes a person’s good point can turn out to be bad.” This sagacity impresses Byung-hee.
While cleaning up the DVDs, she had found a bag of bracelets that she thinks is pretty and wonders why he bought so many. He claims he couldn’t say no to the hawkers.
The fact that he bought them in Nepal also makes her say “Wow.” Byung-hee’s yearning to travel the world comes out in her questions about his trip. Wasn’t he in Italy? And now she finds out Nepal. But Chul-su brushes off her curiosity saying he’s tired. She thinks he’s pretending.
He pulls his precious cargo out from the bag Seung-hye launched into the air. It’s two bottles of wine. Excited now, Byung-hee asks/orders him to open a bottle to celebrate them meeting again, but he refuses.
She must have felt his tight abs because she exclaims “Ooooh!” complimenting and feeling him up more.
He takes the molesting for a few seconds, then brushes her hand away, asking where the bathroom is. But now that she has felt him a little, she can’t resist more feels. She gets grabby with his biceps remarking his arms have grown bigger, too.
Chul-su goes about his business ignoring her as much as he can, asking again about the bathroom. She tells him where it is and continues her cooing that he has grown up a lot, slapping his shoulder. She is grinning so large it is funny. She’s so proud: He went on his trip alone, he grew up well. She can remember as if it were yesterday him running around with the little chicks.
She touches his beard, recalling when his first facial hair came in in high school. His face shows that he is getting less and less patient with her prodding. She even makes a remark that if she were a few years older, he could have grown up drinking her milk. As he bends over to pick something up, she hits his behind, which brings his head up fast in shock.
After a series of slaps, each one annoying him more than the previous one, he has had enough. He turns and grabs her wrist twisting her arm and bringing her to face him. He glares at her and asks what exactly she is doing.
She gasps again.
She walks towards him, still quiet but now angry, and kicks him in the back.
She admonishes him further, reminding him that she considers him a little kid who can’t tie his own shoes. A baby. He grimaces in pain and holds his lower back, but when she has gone up the stairs and out, he grins,
On the way home, Byung-hee calls him a jerk, wiping the stone wall to rid her hand of the feel of his privates.
She goes inside. At the dinner table, Mom asks if Chul-su is still alive and agrees Seung-hye should have beaten him for worrying her so. Byung-hee says, yes but he may not make it through the night.
Mom replies that she is old enough to have a few children already, which gives Byung-hee and idea. Shouldn’t she have a child quickly so he can become an actor who makes lots of money for her? Her joke that the child’s success may be hampered because he has a single mom falls flat. Both sis and mom walk out leaving her to eat and clean up alone. She calls after them “What am I a trash can?” Then picks at the left-overs, wondering why they were ignoring her today.
The next day, at Joon-hee’s fashion show, models and dressers run around getting ready.
Joon-hee does her turn on the runway –getting scolded for doing it wrong. She apparently wasn’t showing enough emotion. The PD hands the mike over to someone else who singles her out and makes her walk alone.
He finds out she is number….NINE, and tells her to stop before she leaves the stage. She turns around to his criticism. He calls her Arthritis, and the other creative people look at him worriedly. We find he is Park Byung-gak, the president, and the PD defends her, which causes the man to get angry and hit him with his cane. He throws her out. Backstage, Joon-hee’s friend tells her he is Bulldog, or Poison Fire. He’s a control freak, but a successful one. He has a lot of power. They gossip that he’s the one who killed his own wife.
Speak of the devil, he walks up with his cane and yells at the friend and asks Joon-hee what she is still doing here, then walks through criticizing everyone. It is clear nobody likes him.
As Joon-hee departs down the hall, Bulldog stops her, calling out “Arthritis!” and waves her over. She approaches warily while he stares her down, then grabs her face.
Later Byung-hee calls Joon-hee from the gynecologist office asking if she has to pretend to be married to see the doctor.Her sister’s like wtf and hangs up. Byung-hee smiles at the cell picture of her and a man – speaking Japanese lines from the film “Love Letter” to him.
She takes a deep breath and goes in. The doctor finds out there are some irregularities and pain in her menstrual cycle. Possibly her dizziness could be caused by anemia. When asked, Byung-hee tells the doctor her last sexual relation was the previous week, which we have to guess is a lie, right?
The doc instructs her to change into a skirt for the internal exam, and leaves the room. Very awkwardly, Byung-hee climbs onto the table – the one with the stirrups. The doctor comes back in and yells at her for waiting until her thirties to get examined for the first time. Holding a ultrasound wand for the internal probe, the doc tells Byung-hee to lie back and relax. Byung-hee is beyond afraid and makes a big deal about it, finally admitting she really is still a virgin, but was embarrassed to tell her.
Byung-hee isn’t any happier about that. And says it is inhuman, acting like a big thirty year old baby. The doc stifles all her complaints and begins, and Byung hee yells in pain.
Chul-su is showering at a public bath, and nicely naked.
Only the real owner walks up and knocks on the helmet giving Chul-su the get the hell off my bike look. So Chul-su does, rapidly, and hands over the helmet, bowing in respect as he gushes that this guy must be one of Sang-hyk’s regulars, just like him. He tells him he’s cool, then finally hands over the sunglasses and the much much cooler guy drives away.
He goes into Sang-hyuk’s bike shop, where he used to work, looking around.
He picks out a model he can almost afford. The boss quotes him a price which Chul-su attempts to convince him to lower because of their close and long relationship, but no go. He says, “I’m Chul-su,” which doesn’t move Sang-hyuk at all.
Then repeats, “I’m Chul-su…CHUL-SU, Park Chul-su…” Eventually, they make a deal, since Chul-su accuses him of making alterations to the bike without disclosing it. Deal struck, Chul-su grins like a little kid, and offers to pay… later.
Byung-hee gets the bad news from her exam. She has a 8cm growth in her uterus. This upsets Byung-hee, but the doctor assures her it most certainly NOT cancer.
That they will have to remove it eventually, but nothing should stop her from getting and staying pregnant. They just need to take some blood samples for now. Byung-hee cries at her sad fate. Her voice over tells us that she has taken her a healthy uterus for granted, while she paid attention to innocuous rashes on her hand.
She shops at a medical supply store and purchases a doctor’s stryro-foam model of a woman’s bottom, complete with all the reproductive organs.
Flashback to mom’s real estate office, they chow down on black-bean noodles. Her mom regaling her with a story about some lady who had such big stomach pains, she thought she was pregnant, but turns out she had cancer with six months to live.
Byung-hee sings a comforting song to herself.
Another flashback to Sung-hee talking about a 35 year old woman who had to have her womb taken out. She called herself a Bingung mama, which makes Byung-hee laugh, back then. (The words palace and womb are similar in Korean, and “mama” means your highness.) As she reflects on having cancer or having her uterus removed is worse, but she doesn’t want it to happen. She has never even used her womb, at all, yet. She comforts herself by staring at the old cell picture of her and the man.
Out on the highway, powerful motorcycles pass Chul-su trotting along on his little bike, though he smiles contentedly as they go by.
Chul-su rides into the bay of a auto-mechanics garage, scaring the folks working there.
Byung-hee arrives at somebody else’s work place and watches the man on her phone walk out with a box, as in he-is-leaving-the-company box.
In the present, she follows right behind him, then calls him on his phone. She addresses him as Sunbae, all giggly and silly,
They go to a makgeoli place and he comments how she can drink better than she used to. She yammers on a little, then she lets him know she had heard the news of his divorce, bad news or him, but good news for her.
He wants to know what she wants. A job? Money? She asks if he remembered when they came there as students, and got him to pay for their food and drinks. She remembers he recited a poem that day, and she was impressed. He said it wasn’t him, but someone else. She seems shocked that she got the memory wrong. He doesn’t understand why this news is earth-shattering, so she confesses the only reason she took the boring class with him was because of her crush on him.
She really liked Sunbae then and still, she wants to sleep with him. Her inner voice cheers her on for the confession; she did well. Sunbae doesn’t respond the way she expected. She backs down on the statement. “No, I wasn’t thinking of having relations with you.” He says her name, you can tell he isn’t comfortable with hearing this. He cuts her off, telling her that is why he got divorced.
He is moving to Canada to help a friend with his bookstore. He apologizes for not being able to fulfill her wish. She is crushed, but she claims to be fine and she cries, apologizing over and over for liking him.
We hear her thoughts:
“At first I thought I was crying because of Sunbae. For all these years, how much hurt he’s been through. For these years, I had bottled up everything. But then, I finally understood. I was crying for myself. Comparing to the pains Sunbae was suffering, I was even sadder for my fruitless love. People are really selfish.”
Byung-hee cries out louder.
Reading this instead of watching it, feels like a LOT of people were introduced in a short period of time, which is true. It didn’t feel forced, however, but unfolded at a leisurely pace. It is also a lot funnier to watch than to read, since physical humor is tough to describe, um, humorously. GHJ’s physical comedy is really well done, and her sexy act in front of the mirror had me cringing and laughing at the same time. Her over dramatic scenes at the doctors, with the womb and with her Sunbae play a lot lighter than they read. You have sympathy for the woman because even though she seems to be over-reacting a tad, she is so earnest you want to be on her side.
For the most part, we leave episode one with a clear idea of the personalities of the players, with a hint of what is to come with the OTP, if you have guessed who they may be yet. The irony, of course is Byung-hee keeps hammering home the point that Chul-su is so young, when she herself has a lot of growing up to do. We get some insight of how she could end up a 33 year old virgin when we see she has been carrying a torch passively for a married man since college!
I will be asking this question on every episode recap: Is she physically attracted to Chul-su?
To me, this show is all about relationships. Jomo is right, we get set up with several relationships and their dynamics right from the start. At the core, there is Byung-hee. Byung-hee seems more “head of the household” than her mother, who is almost like a Queen in her mannerisms. Mom is from the Grace Kelly school of polish and poise, even though she is “working class” she is not the type of lady who leaves the house with a hair out of place. She isn’t haughty, just refined. Likewise, her sister Joon-hee is the Princess. Praised for her beauty and she knows she doesn’t have to work too hard because she can get by on her looks. It isn’t unusual for grown children to live at home in Asian cultures, but I think even if this story were told from a Western perspective Byung-hee would still live at home because moving out would never occur to her. She has the “father” role here, and the ladies need her.
We also meet Byung-hee’s boss, who calls her Miss Go. It’s a little demeaning, like she is a gal from the secretarial pool. I get the feeling he doesn’t mean it that way, that to him calling her “Miss Go” is more formal than just calling her by her first name. Clearly she takes responsibility for several duties around the office (like dealing with complaints on the mail order “toys”), and in a small company has a good share of authority.
Then there is Seung-hye, Byung-hee’s best friend from childhood. She is brash, outspoken, and feisty. Immediately you get the sense that she is the one who stood up for Byung-hee on the playground and probably tossed out a few punches. And maybe that’s why Byung-hee takes a back seat in her own conflicts, she is used to Seung-hye fighting for her. Byung-hee won’t tell her mom to cook for herself or her sister to do her own laundry because Sung-hee isn’t there to back her up.
Finally, we have Seung-hye’s younger brother Chul-su. Byung-hee probably didn’t have a lot in common with him growing up; the difference between a 7 year old and a 16 year old is huge. But something weird happens when you reach adult hood, those differences aren’t a big chasm anymore. I have a cousin who is nearly 7 years younger than me, and as we grew up with 15 other cousins and an age span of 26 years from oldest to youngest we broke off into sub units to play. I was off with her brothers, who were the three oldest. My cousin and one of my other younger cousins followed my sister around, copying how she wore her jeans or styled her hair. Four years ago, I ended up moving closer to where my cousin lives and we would meet up. She’s no longer the bratty kid that wouldn’t sit still while I French braided her hair; we ended up having a lot of things in common. Byung-hee is still approaching Chul-su from almost an “auntie” standpoint. I am sure a big part of that is that he left home and she is addressing him as the child she remembers and not the man he has become. His body (that she literally cannot keep her hands off of) is not united with the persona she remembers.
All of these elements will go into the pressure cooker that is our story. What aspects will change? Which relationships will be challenged? How will these characters evolve? So many delicious possibilities . . .