Side dish: I tried out this recipe from ATK Magazine for pajeon, green onion pancake, and kimchi jeon, kim chi pancake, for lunch yesterday. They’re simple to make, you probably already have the ingredients, and they turned out delicious. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
Piano prodigy, Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In) is walking happily down a busy street, having just informed Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae) and her husband Kang Joon Hyung (Park Hyuk Kwon) that he’d like to move back to his old apartment. As Hye Won and Joon Hyung drive home, Hye Won compliments Joon Hyung on his grace in letting Sun Jae go, rather than the fight she expected. Joon Hyung says that he held back so as not to scare Sun Jae off. He points out that Sun Jae seems more comfortable with her than with him. She plays it off, but Joon Hyung is worried that Sun Jae is rejecting him as a teacher. He sounds thoughtful as he considers how to show Sun Jae the bonds between student and teacher, something he believes Sun Jae has no knowledge of. Joon Hyung asks why Hye Won agreed to letting Sun Jae go, and she tells him for the same reasons he did. Joon Hyung uses this as confirmation that he himself did the right thing, but wonders about whether they should be nice to Sun Jae’s girlfriend, since the relationship will make Sun Jae more stable.
Hye Won looks frustrated, then points out that Joon Hyung is going too far, waffling back and forth about how to manage him. Joon Hyung snaps at her for her lack of enthusiasm, then apologizes. He’s frustrated by his inability to understand Sun Jae’s motivations, never having encountered anyone who grew up the way Sun Jae did. Hye Won holds in her own frustration, and tells him to try sincerity first. She asks Joon Hyung to drop her off, since she’s meeting her friends for a bit. She invites him to come along when he complains, but he turns her down and drops her off.
As soon as she gets out of the car, Hye Won calls her friend Ji Soo, and tells her to give her an alibi for the night.
Sun Jae is in his mother’s old snack shop with the new owner, cheerfully commenting on how everything looks the same. Sun Jae feels weird about it, since it reminds him of his mom. The new owner asks if he’s done with his public service, and he tells her he has to be re-examined in a few months. She reminds him to come eat when he’s hungry and to help out with deliveries occasionally. Smiling, he agrees, takes the keys, and goes outside.
Sun Jae is shocked to find Hye Won waiting for him on the staircase to his apartment. She asks if it’s nice to be home, but instead of answering, he asks how she got there. She deliberately misunderstands, telling him a taxi brought her, then explains that she had something to tell him and his phone’s not working. She points out that they will not have many reasons to meet in private. He asks why not, but she ignores the question, wondering why there aren’t any cafés around. Sun Jae suggests his house, and Hye Won cautions him that she’s there as his teacher. He laughs, surprisingly relaxed, and asks if it will be okay, since it’s dark and dangerous in his house. She reassures him that she’ll follow him, and they go upstairs.
Sun Jae’s apartment is as dingy as ever, with all of his belongings in boxes. He asks Hye Won to close the door (so the mice can’t come in), and to wait at the entrance, while he proceeds to wipe down the floors for her. I’m not sure what to make of the look on her face as she watches him clean, because it seems somewhere between disturbed and lustful, but she forces herself to look away. She points out that the place doesn’t look too bad, and he agrees, since his girlfriend Park Da Mi (Kyung Soo Jin) came by occasionally to clean. Hye Won is taken aback by this, but comes in to the apartment, and sits down on a box. She tells him to sit as well, but he continues to fuss around.
He finally sits, and Hye Won encourages him to think about the larger picture, i.e. international competitions. She tells him about Ji Min Woo, Professor Jo’s (Park Jong Hoon) protégé, who will be competing in Geneva. Sun Jae finally cuts her off, reminding her that he’s already heard all this. He’s not a kid performing for her, or like Joon Hyung, meaning she doesn’t have to manage him. She won’t drop the teacher act, however, and tells him that she was trying to challenge him so that he’ll set goals and work towards them. Bluntly, Sun Jae tells Hye Won that she’s trying too hard to look like an adult. She’s taken aback when he tells her that he won’t be intimidated, since he has nothing to fear from her. He’ll hide how he feels from others in order to protect her, but now that he’s in his own home, he feels more confident. He encourages her not to worry or act grown-up with him; she just needs to love him. Her mouth drops open at this, but he continues. She has nothing to fear, since it’s obvious that he’s more in love than she is. Hye Won starts laughing at his audacity, and Sun Jae ducks his head in embarrassment.
Back at the house, Joon Hyung gets a bag packed with fruit and snacks from the housekeeper. When the housekeeper asks him what she should say to Hye Won, Joon Hyung replies that Hye Won will know which student he’s going to see. Uh oh.
Back at Sun Jae’s apartment, Hye Won explains to Sun Jae how dangerous his feelings for her are. Instead of listening, he gives her something to read while he connects the computer. Taken aback, she flips through what looks like Sun Jae’s old exercise books, with his notes on them. She starts laughing when she finds an embarrassing note about washing his peanut, and he comes running to take the book away from her, handing her a childhood diary instead. I wonder at his combination of shyness and honesty; it’s like the guy has no idea what he really should be embarrassed about.
Hye Won reads about Sun Jae’s childhood dislike of English, and his mother’s opinions on a Mozart Sonata, which echoed his own. Curiosity piqued, she theorizes his musical talents came from his mother’s side, and asks to see a picture. He shows her one on his phone, and affectionately explains that she has looks, but no brains. When Hye Won compliments her on raising him, Sun Jae agrees, bragging about what a good kid he is compared to his peers. He says he loves his mom a lot. When Hye Won comments that he’s speaking of his mother in the present tense, he agrees, explaining how he wants to tell his mom about Hye Won.
Hye Won points out that he should stay away from her for the sake of his mother, who would probably disapprove of a relationship with a woman 20 years older, or even go so far as to shame Hye Won. Sun Jae is uninterested in this speculation, and plays her a recording of him playing. She listens raptly, tears in her eyes, while Sun Jae watches her from behind, replaying the piece in his head.
Coming up the dark staircase leading to Sun Jae’s apartment, Joon Hyung hears the piano music.
Back in the apartment, both Sun Jae and Hye Won are carried away by the recording, and as the piece comes to an end, Sun Jae watches from behind as Hye Won wipes her eyes. She laughs, noting that this is one of Liszt’s most difficult works (“Rhapsodie Espagnole”). He was inspired by Son Yeol Eum’s playing, at the Tchaikov (meaning Tchaikovsky competition). Hye Won orders him to say the name fully, and he does. She stands up to face him, and tells him to put it in his audition repertoire. Excited, Sun Jae jumps up to ask if it was okay, and grins madly when she gives him her stamp of approval.
Spontaneously, she cheerfully holds out her arms and asks to give him a hug, and his grin fades. Standing outside the door, Joon Hyung silently listens, as Sun Jae stares at her. Embarrassed, Hye Won puts down her arms and stands uncertainly. In a husky tone, he states that he will give her a hug. Suddenly, it’s more serious than Hye Won was bargaining for, and as he comes to stand in front of her, she looks panicked, almost tearful. He moves towards her slowly, shyly, and hugs her.
Outside Sun Jae’s door, Joon Hyung turns to leave. His jaw clenched, he sits in his car in front of Sun Jae’s apartment, then drives off. I guess the secret’s out, then?
In the apartment, Hye Won is panting as Sun Jae hugs her, and she starts to hug him back. This must be some hug, because he’s overcome with emotion as well, until suddenly his phone rings. It’s only in K-dramas where any important moment can be cut short by a ringing phone, because he lets her go to pick it up. It’s Da Mi, and she lays into him immediately for not calling her since he returned home.
He goes downstairs to ask the snack shop owner to pass his keys to Da Mi, and borrows her moped to drive Hye Won home. There’s an air of teen courtship as he tells her to hold on to him tightly, for safety, and not because he likes it. She smiles and hangs on for the ride, and it looks like a great excuse for skinship as they drive through Seoul, both of them looking happy as the music swells.
As Hye Won gets off the moped back at her house, she says she enjoyed herself, and Sun Jae suggests another ride. She refuses, saying too much candy rots the teeth, and tells him to go back to his girlfriend. He points out that they’re very close to his house, about a 30 minute run, and that he’ll come in the mornings to practice. She promises instead to send him a piano so he can practice at home, and that Joon Hyung will be in touch regarding school stuff. She tells him not to call nor text, that only she can do that. She walks off, smoothing her hair down, as he looks downhearted.
Inside the house, Joon Hyung sits, deep in thought. Hye Won is startled to see him when she walks in. He asks if she had fun, and she tells him it was the same old thing, complaining behind her crazy boss, Seo Young Woo’s (Kim Hye Eun) back. Joon Hyung brings up Sun Jae, wondering what he should play for the audition. Hye Won’s usual mask isn’t back on yet, and she looks nervous as she says she doesn’t know. He wonders if he should play Liszt’s “Rhapsodie Espagnole”, and she points out it’s not one of Joon Hyung’s favourites. Joon Hyung replies that Sun Jae’s success is more important. He asks if Hye Won would like to pitch this idea to Sun Jae, and she refuses, then leaves the room to go upstairs. In the bedroom, she plops down on the couch, then gets up to peep through the blinds. Sun Jae is still outside on his moped, looking up at her window. She hurriedly closes the slats of the blinds and looks away, and Sun Jae leaves.
He is already disobeying her injunction against texting, because she gets a message from him as she lies in bed saying that he wants to jog past her house every morning, so she should look out the window at 6:30am. She sleeps, clutching her phone, while Joon Hyung sits downstairs drinking.
The next morning, Sun Jae is kicking a punching bag on his rooftop, careful not to use his fists. He goes off on his morning jog and eventually runs past Hye Won’s window, grinning. Hye Won is sitting on the back of her couch, peeking through the blinds, but she drops them as Joon Hyung walks in. She asks if he slept downstairs, and he tells her he was watching soccer. Unfortunately, she hasn’t come up with a good reason as to why she’d be peeking out the window, and when he asks, she makes up something completely unconvincing about flowers. She leaves her phone behind when she escapes to the shower, but she has apparently forgotten the first rule of sneaking around, because Sun Jae’s last message is on the screen. Joon Hyung jumps to look out the window, but doesn’t spot Sun Jae, who is still running.
Hye Won is dressed for spring as she walks into her office. She asks her assistant for an instrument invoice, and it’s a repair that costs six times the worth of the piano. Her assistant worries how they’re going to justify this cost, but Hye Won reassures her that she has the authority. She instructs her assistant to do the transfer paperwork for Sun Jae.
Back at home, Sun Jae is hanging up his laundry when he gets a phone call that the piano has arrived. He goes down to look at it, and is happy to find that it’s his own piano, which Hye Won had tracked down months ago when he sold it. Once it’s installed and retuned, he texts Hye Won, happy that she understood that he’d want it and pleased with its new sound. He sends her a recording of himself playing it. She puts her headphones on and listens to him play, smiling happily as she thinks back to their moments playing together.
Later, Hye Won is back in the spa, getting a shampoo from Da Mi. At her formal greeting, Hye Won tells Da Mi not to be so polite, and Da Mi relaxes. Hye Won disingenuously asks what happened with Da Mi’s boyfriend, apologizing because she couldn’t help. Da Mi is bubbling over with happiness about Sun Jae, convinced that Hye Won’s discarded necklace is a lucky charm. Da Mi gives Hye Won the whole story including the physical fight she had with Sun Jae, then says that she’ll be a good housewife to him. Hye Won asks if she’ll move in, but Da Mi says no, that they can get married later. Hye Won asks to have her face covered, and Da Mi apologetically complies.
In the hairdresser’s chair, Hye Won asks to have her hair straightened, but the hairdresser talks her out of it, saying that she’ll look older. Hye Won praises her honesty, looking sad. Changing the subject, the hairdresser tells Hye Won that Young Woo had been in recently, talking about plans for a new subsidiary. When Hye Won is noncommittal, the hairdresser points out that all decisions are on hold until Young Woo’s stepmother, the SeoHan Arts Foundation CEO, Han Sung Sook (Shim Hye Jin) comes back from her trip. Da Mi picks that moment to walk in, and smiles at Hye Won. The hairdresser doesn’t like it, and makes a note to tell her not to smile, since it’s not polite to Hye Won. Hye Won defends her to no avail. Just then, she gets a text from Sun Jae. The hairdresser asks if she’d like to condition her hair, but she refuses saying she has an appointment.
Da Mi, meanwhile is going up the stairs when world’s worst student, Jung Yoo Ra (Jin Bo Ra) passes by. Obviously getting revenge for her ill treatment from the last episode, she trips her, sending her flying face first into the wall. Yoo Ra tells her to get away, but Da Mi pulls out her hair pin, and sticks it under her chin, telling Yoo Ra that she has taken her back to her high school days.
Hye Won walks in to the washroom to hear voices from the stall. One person is pleading, while the other is threatening. The door opens and Yoo Ra comes running out, completely disheveled. Da Mi follows shortly after, and greets Hye Won, smiling brightly. Da Mi indicates that the stall is free, and goes to fix her hair, while a wary Hye Won goes in.
Hye Won has dinner with her two friends, Sung Sook’s assistant and Ji Soo, Professor Jo’s wife. Ji Soo points out that 20 years old isn’t what it used to be in their days, but Sung Sook’s assistant disagrees, reminding them how she lied to her parents when she went away with her boyfriend. Ji Soo states that she was different, but they call her on her lie: Ji Soo and Prof. Jo were all over each other, too.
When Sung Sook’s assistant gets up to go to the washroom, Hye Won wonders what she was doing at that age. Her memories are miserable in comparison, though she points out that she really thought she was doing well at the time, trying to be smart instead of enjoying herself. She remembers only thinking about escaping to study abroad, through Young Woo’s good graces. Ji Soo encourages her by saying that she pulled through that time, but Hye Won is not happy with her present day either, and she tears up, talking about how her body is sagging and her heart has dried up. She wonders if she’s trying to reclaim her lost youth. Ji Soo hands her a napkin, and Hye Won wipes her eyes, wondering how she could compete with a 20 year old. Ji Soo is shocked, but Hye Won plays it off. Ji Soo reminds her that she still doesn’t know what happened the night before, and asks if Joon Hyung is having an affair with a younger woman. Hye Won avoids the question and suggests they leave.
Sun Jae stares at his phone, thinking back to Hye Won’s injunction that he not call nor text (not sure why he thought of it now, since he’s been doing it all along, but whatever). As he fiddles with the phone, he gets a phone call from Joon Hyung, and guiltily jumps out of his chair. He answers nervously, but it’s only Joon Hyung calling to check in on how he likes having his piano back. Joon Hyung takes credit for returning his piano, and Sun Jae thanks him. After confirming that he’s alone, Joon Hyung tells him good night and hangs up. Joon Hyung thinks back to the hug between Hye Won and Sun Jae that he overheard as he drives home.
Sung Sook is back home from her trip, and getting ready in the bathroom with the help of her assistant and Hye Won. It’s mahjong night again, and Young Woo is giving her father, the Chairman (Kim Yong Gun) two choices: either let her divorce her husband, or give her SeoHan Apparel. The Chairman goes for option three, saying she can’t divorce the head of his legal department, and he can’t give her a company, because she’s not ready. She whines about her unhappiness, but he tells her to start small and work her way up. She whines when he promises to give her someone talented to help. Dean Min (Kim Chang Wan) is eavesdropping, and sends a text to Sung Sook, warning her that the Chairman may give Hye Won to Young Woo.
Upstairs, Sung Sook reads the message as she listens to Hye Won confirm that Young Woo can’t have SeoHan Apparel, because Sung Sook controls it. Sung Sook remarks that Ms. Baek, the fortune teller’s fund is lucrative, then asks Hye Won to look into doing more business under the foundation’s name. Hye Won politely refuses, saying she’s not daring enough to try. Sung Sook tells her to open the drawer of the desk, saying she got her a present. It’s a spectacular diamond necklace and earring set, and Sung Sook encourages her to try it on. Hye Won refuses, saying her outfit doesn’t match, and Sung Sook looks exasperated, but says nothing.
As they go downstairs, Sung Sook points out that Hye Won should disobey the Chairman occasionally, since that’s a strategy, too. Hye Won agrees noncommittally. As they come down, the men who were waiting at the bar with Dean Min all come to pay their regards to Sung Sook, thanking her for various gifts. They sit down to mahjong, with the Chairman, Young Woo, Dean Min and Hye Won at one table, and Sung Sook and everyone else at the other. As they lay out their tiles, the Chairman instructs Hye Won to help Young Woo with her company. Dean Min questions whether they’ll be starting a new company, and the Chairman says that a social welfare company won’t be too hard as a side job. Young Woo assures Hye Won that they’ll pay well. Dean Min responds that money isn’t the issue, to which Young Woo remarks that Hye Won is quite the gold digger. The Chairman shuts Young Woo up since she’s the one asking for help, and she simpers at him.
Hye Won agrees to give the Chairman a report, and Sung Sook, Dean Min and Young Woo look surprised at this. Hye Won explains that she doesn’t dare disobey the Chairman, then lays down her condition: she wants full control at work, regardless of her job title. Sung Sook snorts, while Dean Min looks like a kid whose parents are about to have a fight. He’s not far off, because Young Woo loses her temper. She gets up and starts flinging mahjong tiles at Hye Won’s face, screaming about her ingratitude. Everyone comes running, and Young Woo is dragged away, flinging accusations of betrayal at a cowering Hye Won.
Sung Sook’s assistant applies a bandaid to Hye Won’s forehead. Sung Sook tells Hye Won to go to the hospital the next day, but Hye Won refuses. Sung Sook congratulates her on her strategy, since the Chairman can’t refuse Hye Won after watching his daughter, Young Woo attack her. The Chairman has asked to speak to Hye Won in private, and Hye Won is relieved, as she presses an ice pack to her forehead.
Back at his apartment, Sun Jae does his dishes, then brushes his teeth. Outside on the street, Hye Won is sitting in her car, reading a text from him in which he wonders why she’s not replying if she’s not busy nor attracted to him. Hye Won looks stricken, but calls him. Sun Jae rinses his mouth then picks up his ringing phone. After a long pause, Hye Won says his name, then asks if he can drive. He confirms that he’s a good driver, so she asks him to come out, since she needs a safe driver. He comes running out, and she switches to the passenger side. As he gets in, she tells him to drive for two hours, and not talk to her. He agrees, saying he’s good at keeping quiet. The episode ends as he gets ready to drive off.
I’m always struck by how much happens in this show. It’s interesting how the mood seems to imply a leisurely pace, while the show is actually moving along at a pretty fast clip. Even throwaway bits of conversation seem coded, and thus important.
On to our characters. Da Mi, what happened to you? She went from smothering girlfriend to violent in the last episode, and now we have her threatening Yoo Ra, and possibly shoving her face in the toilet, à la Sung Sook. Don’t get me wrong, I pity Sun Jae a little, but Da Mi is kind of awesome. At least Hye Won now knows that she’s dangerous; the look on her face when Da Mi came out of the stall was priceless.
As for Hye Won, it’s interesting to see how all of her scheming and years of practice have not improved her lying skills when it comes to her own indiscretions. It’s no surprise that she got caught this early on, especially since she’s having all the pains of first love with Sun Jae: she visits Sun Jae in the middle of the night on the flimsiest of pretexts, she goes from sublime happiness to tears seemingly at random, she’s giddy over his texts, but tries to play it cool when she sees him; and she’s never happier or more wracked with nerves than when they’re together. It’s cute, but clearly dangerous, as Joon Hyung casts a dark shadow over this emotional awakening. He’s obviously not going to sit on this information forever, though he’s playing it cool now. Neither will Da Mi, when she finds out.
As for Sun Jae, it’s kind of endearing how nervous and emotional he is in Hye Won’s presence, but knows enough to ignore her when she’s trying to manage him. I’m not sure who was more startled at his bluntness, me or Hye Won. He’s as giddy as she is, but also self-aware enough to know that their situation is precarious. He demands her honesty in return, but it’s clear Hye Won has no idea how to be honest with him. He seems persistent, so this situation can only get more interesting as it goes on.
Secret Love Affair (밀회)