Side dish: It seems like fate; this weekend, JK went out to a Taiwanese restaurant, and I bought a cookbook about Taiwanese food. In honour of that, here’s a recipe for Taiwanese-style pork buns, from Cathy Erway, the author of the cookbook.
Webtoon writer, Bang Myeong Soo (Byun Yo Han) continues his unconvincing charade of attempting to put his fake girlfriend, PD Kim Soo Jin (Song Ji Hyo) to sleep with a lullaby, as company director, Cho Young Jae and movie director Jo Geun (Do Sang Woo) stare at him in disbelief. They should be disbelieving, because Soo Jin is actually under the bed, with two of Myeong Soo’s ex-girlfriends, Na Ji Ah (Jang Ji Eun) and Ra Ra (Ryu Hwa Young), while his third ex-girlfriend, Hwa Young (Lee Yoon Ji) pretends to be Soo Jin with her head under the covers.
When Jo Geun spots a hand coming out from under the bed, he hustles Young Jae out of the room. Once downstairs, Jo Geun dissuades Young Jae from checking in on Hwa Young, then grins to himself.
Back in the bedroom, with everyone out of hiding, neither Myeong Soo nor Soo Jin can convince the other women to leave their room, and so, end up leaving themselves. In the meantime, Ra Ra, Hwa Young and Ji Ah start sniping at each other.
The next morning, Ra Ra makes breakfast while Ji Ah snipes at her. The rest of the crew, Jo Geun, Myeong Soo, Soo Jin, Young Jae, and Hwa Young are already hard at work on the movie. When Ra Ra and Ji Ah come out with food, Jo Geun takes the opportunity to set the cat among the pigeons again (I love this guy), and wonders how it would work in the movie for all of the ex-girlfriends to meet. It becomes obvious to the densest among them that Jo Geun knows everything when he imagines a scene with the ex-girlfriends and male lead in bed together. The idea is shot down by Young Jae, who can’t imagine a good reason for such a scenario. Hwa Young’s face falls, even as she agrees with him.
Back in their bedroom, Soo Jin points out the obvious to Myeong Soo: that they’ve been caught out by Jo Geun. She wonders if it’s a warning, to do better from now on, while Myeong Soo wonders whether the movie will be alright, and whether they can end their relationship charade. Out on the deck, Hwa Young goes for the direct approach, and asks Jo Geun what he wants. Jo Geun has made it a rule never to stick his nose into others’ relationships, but can’t stand by while his friend gets hurt. When Hwa Young says she has no choice, but to continue with the film, Jo Geun points out that her mistake was lying to Young Jae, her fiancé. He warns her that she’ll have to confess everything, and that the movie will be a write-off in the end.
Unaware of the drama playing out downstairs, Myeong Soo asks Soo Jin if she’s relieved that their pretend relationship is over. He proposes going for a beer with just the two of them, to celebrate their breakup, and Soo Jin cautiously agrees.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Ra Ra cosies up to Young Jae in an effort to find out more about Jo Geun. She’s delighted to learn that he’s single, and on the way back, Ra Ra rides with them, while Myeong Soo drives Ra Ra’s van with Ji Ah. Soo Jin looks like she wants to die, as Jo Geun takes shots at the absent Myeong Soo. Meanwhile, in the van, Ji Ah tries to have a moment with Myeong Soo, but he seems resistant. Regardless, she invites him into her house, and the more reluctant he appears, the more excuses she finds for him to stay. Meanwhile, Soo Jin goes to Myeong Soo’s studio to meet with him to get a beer.
When Myeong Soo finally gets a moment to call her, in between fixing Ji Ah’s plumbing, Soo Jin pretends to be heading home. He asks to meet near her house, but the call is interrupted by the return of Ji Ah (whose voice Soo Jin overhears), and he’s forced to send a text asking to meet her at a playground near her place.
Meanwhile, back at Soo Jin’s sister’s apartment, Soo Jin’s sister and brother-in-law get ready to make the beast with two backs to the music of Un Homme et Une Femme. Soo Jin’s entrance to drop off her bag is nothing, but a brief interruption to their love, as Soo Jin vows to stay out very late.
Myeong Soo runs like crazy to get to the playground, but Soo Jin is not there. When he calls, she pretends to be sleeping in bed, but she’s actually wandering the streets, unable to return home. Regardless, it’s not long before he finds her, and they end up drinking beer in a park. If we were expecting some kind of emotional scene after his admission of the night before, we definitely don’t get it here, as Myeong Soo and Soo Jin have a nice conversation about past loves. Myeong Soo replies that he could never love someone that he had loved before, while Soo Jin believes that she’d be more constant in her affections. It’s not until they walk back to her house that Soo Jin asks why he didn’t tell her about coming to see her that night, but Myeong Soo has no response. She tells him not to hold anything back anymore and he agrees.
The next day, Hwa Young relays Jo Geun’s intention of cancelling the movie to Soo Jin, Ra Ra, and Ji Ah. The three women start sniping at each other, but when Soo Jin proposes the only sensible solution, to tell the truth, she’s overruled by the rest. It’s Ra Ra who proposes seducing Jo Geun, instead.
In some kind of noraebang, Ra Ra sings for a bemused Jo Geun, while Hwa Young, Ji Ah, and Soo Jin wait in Ji Ah’s bar. When Soo Jin’s phone goes off, they all jump to look at it, but it’s Myeong Soo, asking what she’s up to. Soo Jin tries to avoid Hwa Young and Ji Ah’s excessive curiosity, while on the other end, Myeong Soo agonizes over why she’s not replying. When his roommate, Jin Bae comes by, he asks him for advice, but refuses to admit that he’s talking about Soo Jin, or that he might like her.
Back at the noraebang, Jo Geun cuts Ra Ra’s performance short with his usual bluntness, then asks her to just audition for the role she wants, rather than resorting to tricks. When he wonders what she did in the past to get roles, an intimidated Ra Ra runs away to the bathroom. On her way back to the room, she’s accosted by a drunk who recognizes her, but Jo Geun appears to rescue her. Jo Geun shoves the drunk out of the way, and points out that while the drunk is rich enough to buy Ra Ra drinks, it’s Ra Ra who buys drinks for Jo Geun. With that, Jo Geun makes his exit, a flabbergasted Ra Ra in tow.
Of course, Jo Geun and Ra Ra’s next stop is Ji Ah’s bar. The plan to seduce Jo Geun is pronounced a failure as Jo Geun reminds Hwa Young that she needs to make a decision on telling the truth to Young Jae, and leaves. As Ra Ra has nothing useful to say, it’s up to Soo Jin to chase Jo Geun down. Jo Geun assumes she’s the next one to try seducing him, but instead, she gives an impassioned plea to save the movie. Jo Geun sneers at her tearful efforts, and Soo Jin finally snaps when he calls her sincerity, shabby. He looks stricken as she walks angrily away.
Myeong Soo waits outside Soo Jin’s apartment building, and when she finally arrives, he starts quizzing her on where she’s been. Before she answers, he notices the tears in her eyes, and it’s not long before he gets the whole story that the movie is dead. Soo Jin is full of remorse for dragging down his first successful work, but Myeong Soo is more preoccupied with cheering her up. By the time they go to eat, they’re both smiling, if a little sadly.
Later that night, Myeong Soo sends Soo Jin a message to send anyone who tries to keep her down his way. Soo Jin smiles, but it’s bittersweet.
The next day, as Soo Jin and her co-worker Eun Hye (Kang Soo Jin) pack up the office, Jo Geun appears. He takes Soo Jin to the conference room, and tells her to beg him to stay on. He gets angry when she won’t since he can’t stop thinking about her. She refuses, and tells him goodbye, but he’s not to be put off: he tells her that he wants to make her his person. Soo Jin asks him not to give her the wrong idea, since she’s already been traumatized once. Jo Geun, who must be psychic, figures out that her trauma had something to do with Myeong Soo. Hwa Young, who has been eavesdropping all the while, quietly leaves, as Eun Hye looks around.
Back at Ji Ah’s bar, Hwa Young tells the whole story to Ji Ah and Ra Ra. Ra Ra refuses to believe that Jo Geun might be interested in Soo Jin, but is convinced when she realizes that this is their opportunity to save the movie. Hwa Young comes up with a clever idea to test whether Jo Geun really is interested in Soo Jin: she sends Soo Jin to a faraway studio set to wait for Jo Geun. The newly inseparable ex-girlfriends drive there together, and spend the whole trip belittling Soo Jin’s appeal to men, while denying that they’re jealous of her possible relationship with either Myeong Soo or Jo Geun. When they arrive, it’s already late, and Soo Jin is waiting outside on her own. They hide behind some conveniently placed boxes, and Hwa Young calls Jo Geun to inform him that, due to a mixup, Soo Jin is waiting for him at the studio set, outside in the dark with no ride home. The ex-girlfriends settle in to wait and see if Jo Geun shows up to get Soo Jin, as this will prove that he’s interested in her.
Ra Ra, who has her sights set on Jo Geun herself, goes off on her own to buy food, but it’s really to make a phone call. Jo Geun arrives shortly after, and immediately starts yelling at a confused Soo Jin for making him drive all the way out there. He asks her why he’s moved by her, then grabs her hand, just as a taxi drives up and drops off Myeong Soo.
Myeong Soo takes in the scene, then grabs Soo Jin’s other hand to take her home. Soo Jin looks like a deer caught in the headlights, but the whole scene descends into farce as Myeong Soo loses his grip, both literally and figuratively. Soo Jin hops into the taxi, leaving behind a shocked Jo Geun, an angry Myeong Soo, and his three loony ex-girlfriends.
So, let’s recap here: Ji Ah wants Myeong Soo back, maybe; Ra Ra wants Myeong Soo not to get together with anyone, but is interested in Jo Geun; Hwa Young wants Young Jae never to find out about Myeong Soo; Jo Geun is annoyed that he’s interested in Soo Jin; Myeong Soo seems to have some feelings for Soo Jin; and Soo Jin seems like she’s enjoying being with Myeong Soo, but she’s utterly baffled by Jo Geun.
They’ve set the perfect stage here for a mess of misunderstandings, what with everyone’s clashing personalities and the ex-girlfriends’ inability to stay out of anything. Having spent the whole episode building what looks like the beginnings of something between Myeong Soo and Soo Jin, it takes one stupid scheme by his ex-girlfriends to wreck the whole thing. Faced with the bizarre melee after sitting for hours outside on a fool’s errand, I would have reacted much the same, and taken off in the closest taxi. Though, the look of frustration on Jo Geun’s and Myeong Soo’s face was pretty priceless. I mean, sure, the ex-girlfriends bring the chaos, but they also bring the comedy.
“Ex-Girlfriend Club” is not a flawless show by any stretch, but I’m enjoying it a lot. While I’m entertained by the dynamic between Myeong Soo and Soo Jin, it’s really the side characters that are doing it for me. For some reason, Jo Geun’s classic Kdrama chaebol male lead style works for me as a second lead. I don’t have to worry about Soo Jin actually falling for him; instead, I can sit back and enjoy him for the shit-disturber that he is. Also, I think Ra Ra might be my favourite character on this show. Someone give this actress a prize already.