Both station manager, Dong Il (Park Won Sang), and producer Tae Hee (Kim Ri Na) are thinking about Tae Hee’s backward confession to Dong Il, and Dong Il’s subsequent rejection of her. Dong Il refused to even entertain the idea of the two of them together, based on his advanced age. Tae Hee persists desperately, telling him that she’s liked him since she overheard his phone call, but he walks away regardless. Instead, we flash back about a year, to the phone call she’s referring to, where Tae Hee overhears Dong Il trying and failing to talk to his kid. Later on, Tae Hee realizes that Dong Il is living at the station.
Dong Il takes a walk, and on his way, passes by Ri Hwan (Lee Dong Wook), who is drinking his troubles away, with his friend and co-worker, Ji Hoon (Lee Seung Joon). Ji Hoon surreptitiously texts someone, and as the two men walk home, it’s radio producer Haeng Ah (Jung Ryeo Won) who shows up. A drunken Ri Hwan hugs her, and the two of them cry and apologize to each other, as Ri Hwan begs her to stay.
After Ji Hoon carries the unconscious Ri Hwan home and puts him to bed, Haeng Ah and Ji Hoon are about to leave, when Ri Hwan grabs Haeng Ah’s hand and asks her to stay. Third wheel Ji Hoon turns out the lights, and loudly announces that he’s going out for the night, before leaving the two of them alone. Meanwhile, Ri Hwan pulls Haeng Ah into bed with him, and the two of them hold each other.
Eventually, Haeng Ah disentangles herself from Ri Hwan and leaves, but not before apologizing that she won’t be able to keep her promise not to run away from him anymore. After she’s gone, Ri Hwan, who is awake, sits up and in voiceover, pretends that their time together was just a dream.
Ji Hoon, meanwhile, goes to a fried chicken restaurant and promptly runs into Dong Il. The two lonely guys end up keeping each other company, while Dong Il drinks and Ji Hoon eats chicken.
The next morning, Aunt Gong Joo (Seo Jung Yeon) looks in on Ri Hwan’s sleeping mother, Sun Young (Bae Jong Ok). Ri Hwan and Ji Hoon, meanwhile, go out for hangover soup, and Ri Hwan asks Ji Hoon if he can cut back his working hours. When Ji Hoon asks why, Ri Hwan informs him that Sun Young has Alzheimer’s. Ji Hoon says nothing, and then gets angry at the unfairness of it all, while Ri Hwan sits silent.
Ri Hwan takes Haeng Ah out for a second breakfast (which no one eats). Ri Hwan is adamant that the two of them should carry on their relationship, but Haeng Ah is equally adamant that the two of them can’t ignore the situation, and must end things. Haeng Ah tells him that she’ll get over him, and when he argues with her, she bluntly asks if he can leave his mother behind for her. Taken aback, Ri Hwan has no response.
Meanwhile, sad dentist, Yi Seul (Park Hee Von) instructs her mother’s secretary to quickly find a place where Sun Young can be treated. When he asks who she’s doing all this for, Yi Seul replies that it’s to repay a favour, and thanks him for his time.
Back at the house, Aunt Gong Joo looks on as Sun Young makes a smoothie, but ducks and hides when Ri Hwan gets home. Ri Hwan and Sun Young greet each other cheerfully, and Ri Hwan happily drinks down his smoothie, but adds the forgotten yogurt to the blender when Sun Young leaves the room. In the meantime, Sun Young sends a text to her doctor friend, but misses his reply that he has already told Ri Hwan everything, when she gets a call from Yi Seul asking to meet.
On the set of a drama, diva DJ and sometime actress, Se Young (Kim Jung Nan) gets into her character, as she and her co-star start a bout of hair-pulling and rolling around for the cameras. As soon as they take a break, Se Young sends her boyfriend/radio station co-worker Joon Soo (An Woo Yeon) to get her a coffee. When he leaves, Se Young overhears some people on set wondering what a young guy like Joon Soo is doing for Se Young.
Aunt Gong Joo drags Haeng Ah away from the house, warning her that Sun Young will not be happy that she’s moved in to the third floor. Haeng Ah can’t contain her concern for Sun Young, but their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Yi Seul, who is shocked to see Haeng Ah there. Yi Seul’s visit doesn’t last long, as Sun Young turns down her offer of help.
Instead, it’s Yi Seul and Haeng Ah that end up talking. It starts out innocuous enough, but Yi Seul informs Haeng Ah that she’s looking into treatment options for Sun Young, so that Ri Hwan can have more time with Sun Young. Haeng Ah expresses her thanks, but Yi Seul isn’t having it, and wonders why Haeng Ah is forcing Ri Hwan to choose between her and his mother. Haeng Ah can hardly get a word in edgewise, as Yi Seul offers to give her everything she has if she leaves Ri Hwan alone. Embarrassed by her own words, Yi Seul tries to leave, but Haeng Ah chases her and begs her to help Sun Young. Haeng Ah can’t promise to disappear, but she tells Yi Seul that she’s trying to break things off with Ri Hwan. Yi Seul asks her to forget everything she just said, and leaves.
Meanwhile, back at the radio station, Joon Soo tries to find out why Se Young is so upset over what she overheard on set. Se Young finally confesses that rather than herself, she’s worried about Joon Soo’s feelings, and how he’ll be able to handle the scorn that he may get from being with her. In the end, Joon Soo ends up comforting Se Young as she confesses to being broke, older than her online profile, and having had plastic surgery. How cute are these two?
Up on the roof of the radio station, Tae Hee berates Haeng Ah for putting herself in close proximity to Ri Hwan in order to be with Sun Young. As Tae Hee shouts that she’d rather see Haeng Ah with her ex-boyfriend, radio DJ, Suk Joon (Lee Jong Hyuk), Dong Il appears at the doorway, but runs away when he sees Tae Hee. Tae Hee abandons Haeng Ah to chase after him, but she’s only looking for Suk Joon’s phone number. Tae Hee calls Suk Joon and Suk Joon immediately swings into action. Suk Joon confronts Ri Hwan, asking him to let go of Haeng Ah. Ri Hwan refuses, announcing that he’ll be the one to take care of her. This declaration must have been enough to convince Suk Joon, because when Suk Joon is gone, he leaves Haeng Ah’s bracelet behind.
Ri Hwan, in the meantime, goes to the radio station and confronts Haeng Ah. He repeats his conviction that he can and should be with her, since they’d be miserable apart anyway. But, in the end, he backs off, saying that he won’t do anything she doesn’t like.
Back at Yi Seul’s office, Yi Seul’s mother, Seul Mo, tries to set up an unenthusiastic Yi Seul with another man. When Yi Seul points out that she’s interested in someone else, Seul Mo doesn’t care and points out that love has little to do with marriage. Yi Seul begs Seul Mo not to get sick, so she won’t ever have to listen to her.
Back at home, Sun Young asks Aunt Gong Joo to remind her to go see her father before her illness becomes too pronounced. Gong Joo agrees that it’s a good idea, but their conversation is interrupted by a phone call. It turns out to be from Sun Young’s brother, announcing that Sun Young’s father has died, without ever hearing Sun Young apologize.
Coming home from the funeral, Gong Joo and Ri Hwan end up putting Sun Young to bed. Sun Young sleeps for a long time, while Ri Hwan wonders what she’s dreaming of, and what truths she’s avoiding behind her closed eyes. In fact, Sun Young is dreaming of the day Ri Hwan was born. She dreams of leaving her father’s house, pregnant, then dreams of the first time she tried to commit suicide and was stopped by Haeng Ah’s father.
In the meantime, a sad Haeng Ah watches Se Young and Joon Soo flirting at the radio station, while Dong Il contemplates Tae Hee’s kimchi. That evening, Ri Hwan picks up Haeng Ah from the radio station. She tells him not to come the next night, but doesn’t turn him down. Sun Young, meanwhile, continues to dream, and dreams again of when Ri Hwan was born. This time, there is no baby, and when Sun Young wakes up, she has no memory of Ri Hwan. Aunt Gong Joo doesn’t know what to do, but Ri Hwan calmly introduces himself. Sun Young asks where Haeng Ah is.
It’s time for another flashback as Ri Hwan remembers Sun Young reading a story to himself and Haeng Ah as children. The story is about a girl who puts down her favourite toy, because it’s too heavy. Ri Hwan introduces himself again, as tears stream down his face, and Sun Young stares at him blankly.
I tried watching this episode more than once to see if my impression that the pacing was messed up was mistaken. In fact, I was right the first time, and the pacing has basically gone out the window, along with anything remotely funny about the show. I don’t often get up in arms about false advertising when it comes to Korean dramas. I think I’m justified in being a little surprised that a show called “Bubblegum,” that sold itself as lighthearted and fun, turned out to be about Alzheimer’s, regret, well-meaning but terrible families, and a whole lot of sad people.
But, let’s deal with one of the saddest people: Haeng Ah. She’s a sympathetic character thanks to Jung Ryeo Won, but I’ll confess that I found her baffling in this episode. Given Sun Young’s repeated rejections, the idea that Haeng Ah would sneak into Sun Young’s home and surreptitiously live in her third-floor apartment seems a bit nuts. Haeng Ah seems calm and resolute in her actions, but in fact, she can’t even manage to break up with Ri Hwan properly. Wanting to go back to the friendship they had before is patently ridiculous, especially after they’ve both confessed their feelings. At best, this approach is half-assed; at worst, it’s cruel to both of them, especially when it’s clear that Ri Hwan has no intention of moving on from her.
Given that this is supposed to be a show about people learning to be happy, I’m going to hope that the next episode moves us in that direction. In the meantime, I’ll add that I’m rooting for Dong Il and Tae Hee; they seem like they’d be an entertaining couple.