In episode one, our heroine Byung Hee was just starting one of those legendary bad days you only hear about when somebody says they heard it happened to a friend of a friend of a friend. A visit to the gynecologist leaves her with the possibility of cancer (and the need for a biopsy, which might lead to a hysterectomy). Then a chance encounter with her crush from her university days leaves her crushed when she confesses her feelings only to have him tell her he is gay. There was a boy I had a crush on throughout high school, and while I had no designs on getting married (he was far too cool and unconventional for that) I always had this little thought in the back of my mind that one day something would happen. When I met up with him years later, he had become so ordinary. Maybe part of it was he had grown up, trading in concert t shirts and a ratty winter coat that smelled like his ferret for dockers and button up shirts. Maybe I was no longer looking at him through a teen hormone filled haze, the kind of thing that would make a ferret scent appealing. I wasn’t even aware I still had that hope on the back burner until it just wasn’t there anymore. While it wasn’t on the level of Byung Hee’s worries, I did have to pause and say to myself “Well, now what?”. All things considered, I will give Byung Hee some time to wallow in it . . .
Chul Su wanders into a car repair shop where the crew greets him warmly. He goes in the office and talks to the boss about coming back to work. The boss ignores him, and tells the secretary to get the pesticide and deal with the “cockroach.”
Chul Su picks up his cell phone and dials Byung Hee, who is on the subway. He carries on a conversation as if she is the owner of a competing shop, she gets annoyed. I would imagine she has a short fuse with Chul Su.
The repair shop boss grabs the phone from Chul Su and barks into it “Nobody steals people from my crew!” and hangs up. Byung Hee is shocked, curses Chul Su and removes the bracelet she took from him earlier, leaving it in a flyer compartment on the subway as she takes a seat.
Chul Su comes home and gets to work cleaning up his basement apartment. Sweaty work. Work that is too hot for a t shirt. Byung Hee comes in and wraps an arm around his bare chest . . . and then she wakes up. She shakes it off with a “pfft, that was weird.” Since she fell asleep, she finds herself at the end of the line in Oido, nearly 20 miles outside of Seoul.
In another part of town, Joon-hee is getting ready to hit the catwalk and is stuck with shoes that are too big for her. She’s about halfway down and she trips, landing on her hands and knees . . . right in front of Mr. Park (or Bulldog, as Joon-hee and her friend call him), who mutters insults loud enough for his companions to hear.
She gets up and finishes her walk holding the shoes in her hands, and pauses to throw him a glare before exiting the stage.
As Bulldog walks the runway at the end of the show to much fanfare, his companions comment that Joon-hee reminds them of someone, but they can’t place her. Joon-hee also gets into a scuffle backstage with one of the other models; it’s probable that she will not be working for Bulldog again.
Byung Hee stands near the lighthouse in Oido, marveling that a subway car from Seoul can take you all the way to the sea. She watches the sunset, caressing her model uterus box.
At nightfall Byung Hee consults a fortune teller. He tells her she lacks “aegyo”, which the subtitles translate as “charm”. It’s a word that doesn’t have an exact translation because it isn’t something we embrace in Western culture but it also means a specific “cuteness”, generally characterized by baby talk. When you see a girl pout, and wiggle her shoulders and say “ohhhPAH!”, that is aegyo. Not so subtly, the fortune teller is calling her old. Byung Hee insists she has all of the qualities of a good wife and the fortune teller says she must work harder to find her match and that he is already close to her. She goes into a restaurant and drunk dials Seung-hye.
Byung Hee is lamenting about her love life, and says her boss told her men like sexy women first, then the pretty ones, then the cute ones and then the nice ones. “I am nice, right?” Byung Hee asks Seung-hye. “There is still a chance for me?” Seung-hye tsk tsks her and says “By the time men get around to liking nice ones, they are picking out tombstones”. Seung-hye asks about the gynecologist and Byung Hee shouts “I only have three months to live!” and hangs up the phone.
Joon-hee stops by Chul Su’s basement apartment on her way home. He comments that she looks all grown up, and that he should have dated her when he had the chance. Now that she is a super model, she is out of his league. She corrects him and says she is only a part-timer. Then she asks why he turned her down for a date in high school (she was a senior when he was a junior). He says he doesn’t remember. Even though the conversation is somewhat flirty, it’s clearly a jokey vibe between the two as they are affectionate on a brother/sister level. Joon-hee waves at Seung-hye through the shop window as she heads up the hill for home. Seung-hye has managed to get Byung Hee back on the phone.
Byung Hee is mourning her one sided crush with school sunbae Sun Woo. Seung-hye corrects her, reminding her she has always been the queen of one sided crushes since elementary school. “But what if it is cancer?” Byung hee says. “I don’t want to die a wombless woman who has never given birth!” (it’s the same pun from episode 1, where “empty womb” and “crown princess” sound the same). Seung-hye asks if she told her family, Byung Hee says she can’t even answer their calls because she doesn’t think they can take it. Seung-Hye asks her if she is going to make the last train, she takes off for the station and has missed it by moments. As the lights in the station go out, she calls Seung-hye and begs for a ride. Seung-hye, in turn, bullies a reluctant Chul Su into going for her.
Back at home, Joon-hee gets a call from Bulldog. He’s drunk and a little flirty, asking for her height measurement. She tells him he can find all that information from her card at his office. “Next time I see you, you’re dead!” he barks, hanging up. It isn’t menacing, more like an “ohhh I could kill you!” versus a “grr I am going to MURDER you!”.
Once Chul Su parks the car, he calls Byung Hee to find out exactly where she is waiting. Byung Hee left the station and went back to the restaurant because she left her model there. She is drunk, not in the mood for his games again, and doesn’t give him a chance to explain he is in Oido to get her. She hangs up on him twice before removing her phone’s battery completely.
Chul Su goes all up and down the street looking for her, getting increasingly frustrated. He finds her just as she drops her head down onto the table and he catches the empty bottle of soju she knocked off the table.
He can’t make it any further, he plops her down on a bench while he stretches his back. She ogles his backside, her eyes drawn by the flashing keychain you can see glowing through his pocket. Or perhaps it is his well-proportioned gluteus. Maybe. Byung Hee starts reciting the poem that she thought Sunbae Sun Woo had recited (he corrected her and told her it was another classmate), insisting it WAS Sunbae who said it. She sighs that she is like someone who took a nap for 10 years and woke up and suddenly she is 33. Chul Su says a lot of people feel that way. She starts to gag and he pulls her over to the water’s edge to get sick, cursing her while thumping her back. She leans back and almost knocks him back in the process, his keys fall out of his pocket. Seeing the shiny glow, she picks them up and looks at them quizzically . . . before FLINGING THEM INTO THE SEA.
There is some nonsense with drunken Bulldog ambling around his apartment, turning lights off and on with a remote and singing at the top of his lungs. I think it is just supposed to establish him as weird. Understood, moving on . . .
Cut to Chul Su and Byung Hee in a Love Motel. Well, maybe not quite as sleazy as a love motel but definitely a romantic getaway type room. The room is decorated in lots of floral and pink and yes, a waterbed (ggrrwwwr!). Chul Su tosses Byung Hee on it and goes to clean up. He comes out of the washroom to find her clutching her model and sobbing.
He takes it as typical drunken sorrows and tells her to calm down; the more she cries now the more embarrassing it will be tomorrow. He starts to set up the chairs as a makeshift bed for himself and tries to sleep but she won’t stop wailing. He goes into the bathroom and brings out a washcloth. He starts to wipe her face and her hair and she whimpers “I don’t want to die, Sunbae!” Chul Su asks her to explain, who is trying to hurt her? But she just keeps crying. He grabs her by her shoulders and says “Relax!” She blurts out “I have uterine cancer and only 3 months to live!” He tells her that’s not funny, even as a drunken person. He tries to take the model away from her and for the first time gets a good look at what it is, and his look turns solemn as she snatches it back.
He asks if she was at the doctor today, is that why she is drunk? She doesn’t answer directly, just saying she has so many things she hasn’t done, she wants to travel and be a mom, and who will take care of her mother and sister? Chul Su takes her head in his hands and looks into her eyes. They will fix this, she will have whatever needs to be done and if medicine doesn’t work he will take her to India where he saw people healed by meditation. She sniffles “Sunbae . . . “ and Chul Su says “Who is sunbae? Tell me a name, we will call him and I will bring him to you”. Byung Hee looks at Chul Su and leans in as if to kiss him, but she really just presses her lips against his shocked face.
“No, no, no” he says “It’s me! Chul Su!” She dives at him again and he has to put his hands up to fend off the attack. “Chul Su!” he repeats.
“Yes,” Byung Hee purrs, “Chul Su” leaning in again. Chul Su fights a little, but gives in and wraps his arms around her waist.
The ladies in the Go household begin their daily routines; Mom asks Joon-hee if Byung Hee already left for work. Joon-hee tells her that Byung Hee never came home, but that she probably spent the night at Sung-hye’s house.
Mom thinks something is up and asks Joon-hee to give Seung-hye a call and tell her to send Byung Hee home. Joon-hee calls, and Seung-hye starts to explain how she sent Chul Su to get her but she is equally confused as to why they are not back.
Mom interviews Oh Pil-Kyo for a part time position at her real estate office. As a newly licensed agent, he is over qualified for the type of work she needs done but he says he is also completely inexperienced and is happy to take something at an entry level. She thanks him for coming and as he leaves, she mutters to herself that she had a bored housewife type in mind; modern men have become so weak and unmotivated.
Dr. Bae is at work in his office when he gets a call from Byung Hee’s boss at C’est Si Bon, Yong-gil. He wants Dr. Bae to work with Byung Hee on an advice column, providing the medical facts for reader questions. Yong-gil refers to her as Miss Go, Dr. Bae corrects him. “You should call her Reporter Go”. After some hemming and hawing, Dr. Bae agrees to do the article and thinks back to when he met Byung Hee and she was looking in the mirror saying “Am I sexy?” He giggles to himself, which kinda freaks out one of the nurses.
Morning comes to Oido, Chul Su looks at the model and packs it carefully in the box when Byung Hee starts to come to. She asks her mother for some water (clearly she is a little hazy about where she is and WHO she is with). Chul Su grabs a bottle from the mini bar and hands it to her, throwing the comforter around her as she sits up, respectfully staying behind her so he isn’t inadvertently flashed.
She starts to chastise him for entering her room without knocking; he turns his face away and picks her clothes up off the chair. He places them in her lap and she begins to fully open her eyes. She gasps and lunges for him, falling off the bed and bumping her jaw against the box for her model. Chul Su leans over to help her up and she head butts him. Did they or didn’t they? We’ll have to wait to see . . .
As a girl who NEVER makes the first move, I love love LOVE it when the girl makes the first move. And had the roles been reversed, a drunken man forcing himself on a woman who came to help him would feel a little wrong. I am also more of a sucker for the Noona romance, I am not really into the helpless princess who needs her ohPAH (insert pout and wiggle) to buy her pretty things or get her a job at his daddy’s corporation. Byung Hee doesn’t need a man; she has a job and a home and is pretty low maintenance. What we will get to explore is when she wants a man, and how she may have to “grow up” to really get a sense of what she needs in a partner.
What I like about Chul-su as a character is that he is normal guy with a LOT of confidence. I love how he repeats “I’m Chul-su, PARK Chul-su,” as if saying it explains everything about him.
I also like how at home he is with Byung-hee. He uses her phone number to fake-out call so his boss will think there’s competition for his employment. He very reluctantly goes to pick her up in the seaside bar, and gets superduperwooper peeved trying to find her, and superduperwooperZooper peeved when she throws the keys. (I would have pushed her in after them.) He carries her to the room, and so gently deals with her puked on hair, then, adamantly assures her she will be fine even if she has cancer. I believed him. But when we see him fighting off her advances, comfort went right out the window. I think I counted 5 separate times he tried to stop her. What’s a 24-year old to do? Cave, of course. It happens at the start of 4 out of 5 T-dramas, anyway.
My favorite of Chul-su’s faces are from the morning after, he just looks sooooo guilty, and prepared for the punishment to come. What did happen? I guessed they did it because being naked is K-drama short hand for doing the deed, but I will have to wait to find out. And what does he think the punishment will be, I wonder?