“I Need Romance 3” episode 12 recap

Remember: discomfort is love.

Side dish: The scene where Wan makes out with Joo Yeon in bed was disturbing enough to make me lose my appetite. Just bread and water for me…but, make it bread from St. John’s Bakery. Their olive loaf is so flavourful, and they hire the marginalized.

Episode Recap

Shin Joo Yeon (Kim So Yeon) is standing woodenly at the bus stop after leaving a work function, because of the insensitivity of her boss/new boyfriend, Kang Tae Yoon (Namgung Min), and after being shouted at by her former ward and current housemate, Joo Wan (Sung Joon).

Wan is already regretting giving voice to his jealousy, because of the hardship it places on Joo Yeon. “I should have just smiled at you,” he says sadly, “That’s what love is.” What about self-respect, Wan?!

Wan follows Joo Yeon at a distance, until she turns around to tell him to stop. Wan obnoxiously points out that they live in the same house, so they’re just heading in the same direction. When she calls his bluff by heading in the opposite direction, Wan tries apologizing.

Joo Yeon interrupts Wan to admit that her focus is on her rival, Oh Se Ryeong (Wang Ji Won), and how her pride was hurt. Plus, she didn’t want to show this side of herself to Wan. Wan tells her not to worry about being ashamed in front of him. This riles Joo Yeon up and she asks if he is dumb, which Wan takes in stride.

However, it’s Wan’s turn to get pissed when Joo Yeon absolves Tae Yoon of any fault for her humiliation. He heatedly points out that as someone who supposedly cares for Joo Yeon, Tae Yoon should have protected her. Joo Yeon does not see the need for protection from Tae Yoon at a work function, denying that she was even hurt. Wan calls bullshit on that one.

Joo Yeon decides to try walking away in a huff again, and Wan shouts concern for her welfare after her. After a final withering stare from Joo Yeon, Wan relents and follows her silently all the way to her favourite neighbourhood mussel soup and soju joint. Wan can’t help pointing out that she keeps returning to this place, because she has no friends. She tells him not to follow her in, and Wan retorts that he has pride. She then proceeds to set up a soju cup for him while he freezes outside.

Wan eventually gives up, asking the proprietor to contact him if Joo Yeon gets drunk. He returns to the house to find Tae Yoon prowling outside, asking for Joo Yeon’s whereabouts. Wan taunts him about making work his first commitment, and refuses to tell him where Joo Yeon is.

That is, Wan initially refuses to reveal Joo Yeon’s location, but then he feels guilty. He challenges Tae Yoon to show Joo Yeon more care and affection, then directs the robot to the mussel watering hole.

When Tae Yoon appears at her table, Joo Yeon flashes back to the moment earlier in the evening when he coldly told her to keep work and personal separate, and therefore, not to cause a scene at the work function. Yet, Joo Yeon is already ready to forgive Tae Yoon simply because he showed up, and apologized.

As Tae Yoon explains himself to Joo Yeon, he also flashes back to Wan’s reprimand that he should show her more affection. Wan has become the moral compass of both Joo Yeon and Tae Yoon?!

Joo Yeon challenges Tae Yoon to explain why he likes her, and Tae Yoon says it’s because she’s comfortable and pretty. This apparently makes Joo Yeon happy. Tae Yoon then has her sit beside him holding his hand while he drinks. It would actually be a cute moment, if I didn’t also flashback to Wan doing much more and getting nowhere with Joo Yeon. Thanks for guiding me, Wan.

Wan is back at the house, and after washing up, cuddles with the stuffed giraffe he gave Joo Yeon in her bed. He is muttering that Tae Yoon should return Joo Yeon home after he did him the favour of revealing her location. He sits up in horror at the prospect of Joo Yeon staying out all night. Poor naive Wan.

Meanwhile, the former Friday hookup of Lee Min Jung (Park Hyo Joo) is using the internet to help him realize that he is a baby daddy. He goes barging into Min Jung’s apartment looking for evidence to confirm his hunch. It is soon confirmed despite Min Jung’s weak lies. Baby daddy is angry at being kept out of the loop, but stops his shouting when it occurs to him that the fetus might hear him. He retires to his apartment in a state of disbelief, while Min Jung comforts her tummy with soothing words and strawberries.

Tae Yoon walks Joo Yeon back to her house, then comes up with a better idea and invites her back to his place. Joo Yeon shows a sliver of a conscience by turning his offer down, because she has to patch things up with Wan. Tae Yoon questions Joo Yeon about his competition, but Joo Yeon is quick to dismiss Wan like a brother.

Once inside the house, Joo Yeon stops short of entering her bedroom, choosing to go to Wan’s bedroom instead. However, she fails to find him or even connect with him via text. She falls asleep in Wan’s bed waiting for a response, unaware that Wan is cuddling a giraffe on her bed.

The next morning, Wan is in a rage, realizing that his fair play and selfless ways may have resulted in Joo Yeon sleeping with Tae Yoon. He is about to voice his anger at Joo Yeon via text when he finds the messages she sent the night before. He bounds happily to his bedroom, and spoons Joo Yeon while preventing her from getting up.

Joo Yeon’s junior colleague, Jung Hee Jae (Yoon Seung Ah) is getting ready for work when she receives a text from her co-worker and new boyfriend, Lee Woo Young (Park Yoo Hwan) telling her to wait inside until he arrives, because it’s cold. Hee Jae smiles, but goes outside anyway, blowing on her hands. It gets considerably chillier when her ex-boyfriend suddenly appears to formally break up with her. Hee Jae believes that it is already over, but what the ex wants is to get the last word in; he blames her for his unhappiness because she does not know how to be happy, relying on the opinions of others. Hee Jae accuses him of trying to upgrade after passing the civil service exam. He counters with saying that she cared more about the exam than him, then stalks off as Hee Jae falls silent. At that moment, Woo Young drives up and realizes that something is wrong.

Hee Jae sadly admits that her ex was right. She doesn’t know what she wants, and all of her life decisions were made based on external factors. She fears that even the five years she spent dating her ex were a waste of time. Woo Young reassures her that her five years in a relationship were more worthwhile than casual dating over the same period. He then suggests they go up to the roof and curse her ex, as is her habit.

Despite Joo Yeon’s objection to gossip, her co-workers openly discuss the latest rumour that Tae Yoon advanced the higher end clothing project to benefit Se Ryeong. Tae Yoon walks in, but declines to comment, and asks Joo Yeon to come to his office.

Back in his office, Tae Yoon recalls Se Ryeong cursing him and Joo Yeon to suffer from rumours the way she had when they were together. Joo Yeon enters and tells him not to mind the gossip, to which Tae Yoon retorts that he should be the one reassuring her. He plops a jewellery box in her hands, telling her not to lose this one to Hee Jae. He then dismisses her, because he has nothing further to say. Joo Yeon smiles at his cold, robotic ways, and attributes it to embarrassment. Tae Yoon stops her by pointing out that Joo Yeon has not said that she likes him either. Joo Yeon can only act excited and scurry out. These two are meant for each other.

At her desk, Joo Yeon tries on her new earrings, then texts, “I like you, too, Sunbae ♥♥♥”. This electronic message prompts the smile function in Tae Yoon’s circuitry. But, Tae Yoon shuts that down quickly for a meeting with the network director. It turns out that Joo Yeon’s dream has come true, and she is now the director of her own department. Joo Yeon chooses to look concerned, as Tae Yoon smiles at her, but pumps her arms once she is out of sight of Tae Yoon and the network director.

The network director shows concern for Tae Yoon, because she herself would not be happy with having one of her juniors get promoted. However, Tae Yoon confirms that he is happy with Joo Yeon’s promotion. Who knew that there was someone who would make Tae Yoon look kind and loving?

Joo Yeon quickly gets her own office, and has a party with her team and Se Ryeong’s to celebrate. Min Jung has been made the new team leader, and can’t stop boasting that she did nothing to deserve it other than be the eldest. Everyone finds this hilarious, except Se Ryeong who has been giving Joo Yeon laser eyes, while Joo Yeon sips champagne, trying to ignore her.

Se Ryeong and Joo Yeon swap barbs, then Se Ryeong drops the bomb that she and her firm will no longer be working with the home shopping network. One of her subordinates tries to stop her, fully aware that breaking the contract would be financially disastrous for Se Ryeong’s firm. Financial ruin be damned, because Se Ryeong is enjoying Joo Yeon’s impotent rage.

Joo Yeon gives voice to her anger at Wan’s studio. She is desperate for revenge, and Wan laughs at her. He is equally forgiving of Se Ryeong’s bad behaviour as he is with Joo Yeon, explaining it away as love.

However, Se Ryeong is not completely passion-driven. Her announcement was simply to prompt Joo Yeon to come begging for her to come back. It’s funny that both she and Joo Yeon will do terrible things when their pride is hurt. However, it is worth noting that Se Ryeong treats her subordinate a lot better than Joo Yeon treats hers.

Wan has turned the experience into another learning opportunity for Joo Yeon. He tells her to look at things from the point of the wounded Se Ryeong. Joo Yeon reluctantly tries.

It turns out that Wan’s studio is empty, because the idol band he produced for had their showcase that afternoon. Wan is miffed that Joo Yeon has no interest in his life. Joo Yeon offers to give him whatever gift he requests.

It appears that what Wan asks for is to have Joo Yeon view the meteor shower with him. Despite huddling together under a blanket, Joo Yeon is cold. Wan offers to make her warm if she’ll just close her eyes. She naively agrees, and Wan engages her in a deep smooch. Joo Yeon shows no hesitation, which makes me think that she is a robot who can switch affections from Tae Yoon to Wan without preamble.

The next scene is Wan sweeping Joo Yeon inside and upstairs, and then Wan is topless on top of Joo Yeon?! This is sooo wrong that I can’t even enjoy it!

Turns out it’s pure wish fulfillment in Wan’s imagination, and we’re back in the studio with Joo Yeon waiting for Wan to name his present. He only tells her that what he wants is not appropriate for now, then settles for ramen at home instead.

Min Jung’s former Friday hookup cum stalker cum baby daddy is waiting for her outside her apartment. He promises her that this is the last time that he will bother her. It turns out that he has decided that he is neither fit for marriage nor fatherhood. In fact, neglectful fatherhood runs in his family. The only thing that he can offer is monetary support until the child turns 20. Min Jung accepts this cold comfort along with a package of strawberries, which his mother craved when she had him in the winter. In spite of her previous determination to keep her baby daddy in the dark, it appears that Min Jung was hoping that he might convince her otherwise, because she cries bitter tears.

Joo Yeon and team are on the lookout for Se Ryeong’s replacement, which is problematic. Tae Yoon walks in and is told about his “girlfriend” Se Ryeong’s decampment. Speaking alone with Joo Yeon in the stairwell, Tae Yoon offers to speak with Se Ryeong, but Joo Yeon insists on solving this herself.

Joo Yeon and Se Ryeong meet at a bar, and Joo Yeon wants to know the reason behind the timing of Se Ryeong’s decision. She asks if it’s about Tae Yoon. Se Ryeong claims that she has tormented her ex enough, but she has energy to spare for Joo Yeon. She wants Joo Yeon to beg for her return, so that she can regain her dignity.

It’s time for a Wan flashback: Wan telling Joo Yeon to understand Se Ryeong’s pain at losing Tae Yoon. Unfortunately, Tae Yoon has also taken over Joo Yeon’s consciousness, and he is revealing Se Ryeong’s tactic of scaring Joo Yeon into revising the contract in her favour.

Joo Yeon is weighing Wan’s way against Tae Yoon’s way when she receives a text message from Woo Young informing her that they cannot find a replacement for Se Ryeong. Joo Yeon looks up at Se Ryeong and announces that they have found a new style director. Se Ryeong’s face collapses.

In the car, Joo Yeon is confirming with Tae Yoon that her bluff was the right move. Tae Yoon assures her that Se Ryeong is in financial trouble and will reach out to Joo Yeon first. Tae Yoon then smoothly transitions from business scheming to date planning; he will pick her up at home for a movie.

Wan comes upon Joo Yeon outside their house. Joo Yeon is exhausted, and admits that she doesn’t feel happy in spite of her victory. She had to choose nasty business tactics over Wan’s honest way to deal with Se Ryeong, but she feel guilty.

Wan decides to accept Joo Yeon as she is, and blames his greed for his desire to have Joo Yeon return to his memory of her. From now on, he will be an enabler, instead of Joo Yeon’s moral compass, because Joo Yeon should not feel troubled by her bad behaviour. Wan promises to love her no matter how many atrocities she commits.

Already visibly lighter without the burden of a conscience, Joo Yeon laughs and jumps into Wan’s open arms. Tae Yoon arrives upon this cozy scene, and instantly gives the happy couple that familiar cold, robotic stare. Joo Yeon can only laugh sheepishly while Wan gives him a look that says, “What are you going to do, now, bitch?”


I have to agree with Joo Yeon’s decision to resort to dirty tactics with Se Ryeong. Any weaker position would have resulted in Se Ryeong eating her alive. Yet, I think Joo Yeon is finally showing some progress in that she now feels guilt when she acts psychotic. And, Wan is finally getting angry. Unfortunately, Wan switches from righteous anger to happy in love on the weakest excuse. And now, he has given up on trying to get Joo Yeon to become a better person, and will give unconditional love, instead. I suppose psychopaths need real love, too.

The most alarming development in this episode is that I had a gag reflex while watching Wan and Joo Yeon act out his sexual fantasy. This does not bode well for my sensibilities when they inevitably end up with each other.

Whatever. If I’ve learned anything from this series, it is that discomfort equals love, and if I can’t take the love, I can always suppress my emotions.

I Need Romance 3 (로맨스가 필요해 3)

 1 – 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 || series review

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