The plot starts to inch forward, little-by-little, as our OTP begin to discover each other’s painful secrets… and Jang Mi takes a decision that could just change everything.
Episode 6: Am I Single, or Not?
We open on a couple seemingly in the throes of passion on a bed. Clothes are flying off and there’s giggling and panting before the two disappear beneath the covers. But, as we’ve learned from previous episodes, things are rarely as they appear to be in this drama, so let’s backtrack a little to see how we got to this point.
Rewind: our couple arrive in time to see Se Ah handing Yeo Reum an envelope of cash for his services (they don’t, of course, see that Yeo Reum was actually handing it back to her, after refusing payment).
Disappointed as Gi Tae is with Se Ah’s monied attitude, it’s Jang Mi who feels the sting of betrayal most deeply as she recognises that she’s once again become involved in a one-sided love. Yeo Reum appears conflicted, but doesn’t go after a tearful Jang Mi – unlike Gi Tae, who does what any friend would do after a break-up: takes her out for a drink.
What’s less helpful is when he decides to tell her, in his blunt-as-bones way, that it’s her fault for turning normal men into bad guys. Uh, say what now? He goes on to say that her neediness is a turn-off, and that I can understand, but… sorry Gi Tae, she is in no way responsible for the actions of another, fully-grown adult. He urges her to be the dumper rather than the dumpee and, through her tears, Jang Mi agrees that she should be the one to end things.
Starting with the worst offender of the lot: him. She’s been at his beck and call and done everything he asked of her, but received nothing but heartbreak in return. He isn’t unaffected by her words but merely takes another drink and remarks that this really does seem like a break-up. And it is: Jang Mi decides she’s going to do as he suggests and try being single for a change.
Hyun Hee, meanwhile, pours Hoon Dong drink after drink as she listens to his woes and when he’s at his lowest, drunk and feeling all alone in the world, mentions that does have one person he can count on: her. They stumble into a hotel room – he absolutely trollied, while she’s completely sober – and onto the bed and when he mistakes her for Jang Mi, she corrects him: she’s Hyun Hee and she’s not a nice girl. When he confirms that he likes bad girls, she smiles and leans in for a kiss before the sheets flutter over them and we fade out.
The next morning Gi Tae’s strictly regimented and perfectly timed breakfast routine is interrupted by a phone call from Se Ah, who’s with his mother at the hair salon. She toys with him, coyly threatening to tell his mother the truth about his relationship with Jang Mi before letting slip that they’re off to the department store next.
Where Jang Mi is hard at work, claiming her job as her new love (while Hyun Hee yawns her way through the shift, worn out from her… nocturnal activities). Upon hearing Hyun Hee’s advice that she should’ve picked one guy rather than trying to have both and thus losing them, she throws down her cleaning rag and declares that she’s through with men. Yeo Reum’s ears must have been burning, because it’s at this point that he shows up, grinning like a lackwit and inviting her out to lunch.
Before he can spill the beans about her fake relationship with Gi Tae, she drags him off to have a talk. He’s deliberately obtuse as he mentions wanting to eat, not shop, and she’s forced to have it out with him in the store. She wonders if their every interaction was a bought-and-paid-for lie and says that although she may’ve been a mere joke to him, her feelings for him were real. He glibly replies that he hates having to explain himself and as she’s asking him to leave her alone and to give Se Ah the same message, Gi Tae’s mother walks up with Se Ah in tow.
She demands to know what’s going on now with this third man and Jang Mi, Se Ah and the newly arrived (and out-of-breath) Gi Tae all offer to explain. She chooses to hear from Se Ah, who says that she asked him to find out about our couple’s relationship. Gi Tae’s mother smiles a little, certain that this will be Gi Tae’s single status death knell, until Se Ah bursts that bubble: she wanted to discreetly find out what to buy them as a wedding present, but the surprise is now ruined. Oh darn.
Jang Mi looks about to object and before his mother can ask why, Gi Tae quickly exclaims that she felt uncomfortable, what with Se Ah being his former fiancé and all. That resolved (for now), Se Ah and Mom resume their shopping and Jang Mi and Gi Tae go to lunch.
He assures her that Se Ah wouldn’t use her power over him for something like this (which is why you ran to intercept them, I suppose?) and Jang Mi scoffs, asking to be left out of their power plays from now on. When Yeo Reum joins them, she decides they need a little reminder: they’re both out of the running; from now on, she’s going to concentrate solely on herself.
Hyun Hee finds her up on the roof and calmly explains that she’s now dating Hoon Dong; when Jang Mi tries to tell her that he’s a terrible boyfriend, she’s advised to let him go – after all, she has two men of her own, and there’s no way Hoon Dong will treat Hyun Hee as badly as he did Jang Mi. Incredulous, Jang Mi decides Hoon Dong must’ve done something to her friend and heads to the coffee shop to find out the truth.
Hoon Dong, meanwhile, has just awoken to find himself naked in bed, with a flirty ‘good job, honey’ message from Hyun Hee on his phone. He’s upset with himself for having slept with Jang Mi’s best friend and tries to sneak into the coffee shop, past a confused Yeo Reum. Upon hearing that no women have come looking for him, he relaxes a little and struts into the kitchen to ask the chef to add that four cheese kimchi pancake to the menu.
The chef, who spent most of that particular evening in the bathroom, has no idea what he’s talking about (although Hoon Dong is the one who asked Yeo Reum to make something in the chef’s absence, so he must’ve known who created the dish?), but when he catches sight of a nervous Yeo Reum, it all becomes clear.
Confident now, Hoon Dong wanders out into the café, only to be confronted by an angry Jang Mi. His first impulse is to run and Jang Mi gives chase; when she finally catches him, he assumes Hyun Hee’s told her everything and so declares that their night together was a drunken mistake and Jang Mi is still his only love. She reels upon hearing that they’ve slept together and warns him to leave Hyun Hee alone.
As she’s leaving, she catches sight of Yoo Reum in the alley behind the café. He’s being berated by the chef for serving such a ‘low class’ meal to their clientele and the chef, clearly envious of his culinary talents, pops him in the mouth before stalking inside. Soft-hearted Jang Mi can’t leave well enough alone and asks if he’s all right. Instead of replying, he tells her she’s to blame, which is confusing as rationally any blame could only be apportioned to 1) the chef, 2) the person who made the pancakes, neither of whom is named Jang Mi.
After their shopping trip, Se Ah sighs and passive aggressively tells Mom that she had wanted to spend her life with Gi Tae, but he’s marrying someone else, so what can you do? Mom gets that gleam in her eye that suggests she can do a lot, and then Se Ah is off to see Gi Tae, which thrills him about as much as it does me (and that’s saying something).
He’s not inclined to go off with her, so she spoils the result of his recorded football match, then drags him off to… a fertility clinic? He sits in the darkened room, watching porn and clutching his deposit cup and… okay, is it just me, or did they just imply he has difficulty, er, rising to the occasion?
In any event, he decides he’s not doing it and storms out, with Se Ah chasing after him. He reminds her that neither of them want to marry and she affirms that’s still true. But. She does want to be with someone who’s as self-centred as she is (which I guess she doesn’t see as being a bad thing) – and, too, he has the sort of genes she wants for her offspring. She promises no-one will know he’s the father, but he still refuses on the grounds that she’s single and it’s therefore a legal impossibility, so she resorts to what she’s best at: blackmail. He can sleep with her, or donate sperm, but either way she’s having his baby – and if he refuses, she’ll tell his mother and he’ll be forced to marry her.
Gi Tae moves from one fire to another, when Jang Mi’s father calls him out for a drink. He explains that he and Jang Mi are no longer together as she dumped him, which is the perfect opening for her father to give a little more detail on her childhood trauma. When Jang Mi was five, her parents fought and her mother left, coldly telling Jang Mi to have a happy life with her father. Likewise, her father irritably told her to just go and live with her mother… before also leaving. So Jang Mi, feeling abandoned and unwanted by both parents, was locked in the house and left to fend for herself, completely alone and starving almost to death for three days. I am flabbergasted that child services didn’t take her away from them, because that goes beyond negligent and into the realm of abuse and child endangerment.
Having gained a new understanding of Jang Mi and her abandonment issues, Gi Tae drinks. And drinks. And driiiiiinks. When Jang Mi finds, they’re both drunk as lords and though Jang Mi disgustedly takes over from Gi Tae, she eventually relents and hauls him home. He insists he’s fine, but is so drunk he can’t walk and she’s forced to piggyback him from the taxi to his apartment. She’s probably imagining him as someone else’s problem when she reasons that Se Ah still likes him – so why won’t he marry her? But Gi Tae is adamant that he can’t: because she’s too much like his mother, which is why he almost married her in the first place. I’m taking that to mean that he was manipulated into it, but Jang Mi is confused and although he says he wants to be alone, she realises she can’t just leave him when he literally falls down on the way to bed.
So she picks him up and drags him onto the bed – only to have him start undressing, to her horror (though she still peeks at his abs through her fingers, ha). He can’t quite get his trousers off, so she does the job herself and in the process, he seems to have the physical reaction he couldn’t muster up earlier (it has, however, been pointed out that this could simply be my imagination – so interpret the scene as you will). She shoves the covers over him as he mumbles that he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he just wants to live alone, in his house.
He wakes up the next day to find she’s cooked him hangover soup and finds she’s left him thoughtful little notes (such as not to drink coffee, but to have the soup instead, and to eat rice rather than toast). Though he complains about having to wash the dishes she’s dirtied with her cooking and grumbles that he doesn’t eat rice for breakfast, he soon finds himself devouring the meal she’s left with pleasure. When she suggests via text message that they meet to tell their parents the truth, he remembers the first time he brought Se Ah to his apartment, three years earlier. He’d told her he wanted to live there with her, as he had happy memories of being alone in the apartment as a child, and though she proclaimed it to be too small, did eventually concede.
Gi Tae’s mother also has marriage on her mind and has decided she will have Se Ah as her daughter-in-law, no matter Gi Tae’s thoughts on the matter. To that end, she sends his aunt off to gather proof that his relationship with Jang Mi is a lie. Speaking of our leading lady, she’s currently at work, watching Hyun Hee watch her phone. She says sympathetically that Hoon Dong won’t call, not after the beating she gave him and understanding dawns on a frustrated Hyun Hee. She cries that although she knows Jang Mi’s the one he loves and their night together was merely a mistake, it could’ve grown into something more. When Jang Mi protests that she’s merely trying to protect her, Hyun Hee scoffs – it only became a mistake because of Jang Mi’s interference.
Having struck out in the friendship game, Jang Mi switches over to the relationship league to try to sort out her love life. She slips into Gi Tae’s office to ask him if they can clear things up with their families and he’s so focussed on the baby blackmail with Se Ah that he jumps when he finally notices her (leading her to wonder if he’s watching porn, hee). He’s trying to put off their discussion and says it’ll have to be postponed until he’s finished working, so she heads outside to wait.
She runs into Yeo Reum, of course, who’s taking out the trash, and they relocate to somewhere more picturesque to talk. She asks why he blames her for the face punch and he answers that it’s because she provided him with the kimchi (and no, it still doesn’t make sense, Yeo Reum). Naturally (for Jang Mi), she jumps to the conclusion that he made the pancakes for her and that she’s clearly his culinary inspiration. But no, it was another woman altogether – his mother, who abandoned him after making him kimchi pancakes. Touched, Jang Mi thanks him for finally telling her something substantial and, just like that, all’s forgiven.
They spy a woman photographing them in all their lovey-dovishness and chase after her – but she’s caught by Gi Tae, who, having just been on the phone with his double-agent aunt, assumes that’s who he’s captured. But it’s worse, because his aunt he can at least bribe; this scenario, unfortunately, has been set up by Se Ah, who plans to use the pictures as further evidence with which to blackmail him.
He sneers that she hasn’t changed at all and we flashback to three years prior. Although she’s agreed to move in with him, Se Ah still thinks that his apartment is too small (but c’mon – it’s frickin huge), so she’s bought the place next door to extend it. He’s incredulous, having already explained how precious the apartment is to him and incensed that she’s not only made the decision unilaterally, but has also done a background check on him.
She’s clearly used to manipulating those around her and ‘jokes’ that any secrets she learns about him are weapons to use against him. As the anger and panic build within him, Se Ah directs the workmen to the walls she wants demolished and Gi Tae, at the end of his rope, finally snaps and orders her out of his apartment.
Jang Mi, watching Se Ah use their fake relationship as leverage against Gi Tae, remembers his mother’s marriage threat and finally sees the similarities between the two women. Se Ah threatens to call his mother immediately unless he capitulates to her and, calling her bluff, Gi Tae agrees that she should. As all the facts settle in her mind, Jang Mi makes her decision.
She interrupts the conversation between the exes to say that she’s been patient, because she understands they have a history, but enough is enough: Gong Gi Tae is her man. With that, she steps forward, grabs him and gives him a good, long kiss on the mouth. Gi Tae’s eyes widen in surprise, before realisation sets in and he pulls her closer for an even longer, deeper kiss.
Kisssss! Yes, it’s our OTP’s first kiss, and while it may not have been as passion-fueled as I’d have hoped for, I’ll take what I can get. Particularly after that tease of an opener which went absolutely nowhere. Although, given that they’re wearing the same clothes as they were in the drunken bedroom scene, I’d guess that it’s either a dream sequence, or some sort of fantasy explanation as to when and why their relationship changed.
And I hope the kiss does change things up, because it sort of feels as though they’ve been treading water for the last few episodes, with Jang Mi wanting to end things and Gi Tae constantly pulling her back into the relationship scheme. Now that she’s taken the decision to actively participate, it might up the stakes (and the skinship ^^) and hopefully move the plot along a step or two.
Having said that, while I understand the main couple need a reason to be pushed together at this stage of the game, there is nothing – short of literally putting a gun to his head – that Gi Tae’s mother can do to force him to the altar. Yes, she gave him an ultimatum, but he’s a grown man and is fully capable of refusing an arranged marriage – just as both Yeo Reum and Hoon Dong were fully capable of telling Jang Mi they weren’t interested in a committed relationship (and I still don’t think Yeo Reum is, despite the reaching out and the hand-holding in this episode), yet did not out of cowardice or because her feelings simply did not register as important enough to warrant such a discussion.
The problem with Gi Tae is that talking to his family doesn’t seem to even be an option. It’s as though he’s been conditioned to believe that his desires don’t matter and so he has no agency in his own life. It’s sad and depressing and maybe even a little bit pathetic (sorry, Gi Tae – sometimes the truth hurts).
As for Jang Mi… I feel terrible for her, to have grown up with such horrible parents. Honestly, what kind of people would leave a very young child – their very young child – all alone for three days? And then as an adult, still try to emotionally manipulate her by holding the possibility of their divorce over her head to get her to do things she’s against?
Personally, I think this was a major misstep on the writer’s part, because although I understand that they wanted to give her a trauma severe enough to make her neediness more palatable, and that Jang Mi forgave her parents, the problem is that I am not their child. I have no need for their love or approval and thus, as a viewer, all I now feel for them is extreme dislike and disgust for putting their pettish feelings ahead of the physical and psychological well-being of their child.
On a less volatile subject, I’m still not sure what’s up with Hyun Hee. At first I hoped she was dating Hoon Dong as some sort of revenge for the way he treated Jang Mi, because, misguided as that would have been, it would at least mean that someone has remained loyal to Jang Mi. Alas, it’s looking more and more likely that she’s after him simply because he’s rich and malleable, which I suppose means he’ll get his just desserts if he falls for her, only to discover she’s as shallow as he is.
Finally, I really hope that we get to spend more time with our couple as a couple, because they really are better together than apart and lately they seem to be apart more than they’re together (also, as long as I’m wishing for things: more kisses wouldn’t hurt. just saying.).