The Thousandth Man: Episode 2

Episode 2 brings us a step closer to finding out what secrets Eung-seok is hiding behind that stoic exterior… and a man closer to Mi-jin’s thousandth.

 

Episode 2

In the aftermath of The Question, Mom tries to warn Mi-mo off of Eung-seok, as Mi-jin’s running out of time and desperately needs a man. As if on cue, the sound of sirens fills the air…

Outside, a man stands on the rooftop of their building, threatening to jump. It transpires that he’s trying to kill himself because his girlfriend just broke up with him, which gives Mom an idea. She calls Mi-jin – currently blow-drying her hair – to demand she come over immediately. Why? Well, Mom’s just found Mi-jin’s thousandth man, of course. Oh, Mom. So you figure that, what, he wants to die anyway, might as well get a good liver out of it?

Mi-jin speeds over, fast as only a gumiho can be (and still with a towel around her shoulders and one lone roller in her hair, hee) and asks Mom what she’s supposed to do with a suicidal man. Mom says it’s simple: all she has to do is make him fall in love with her before he falls. Oh, well, then, if that’s all…

Up on the roof, the man complains that all he wants to do is see his Hye-young one last time… He turns and is startled to find Mi-jin sitting on the ledge next to him, casually drying her hair with a towel. She tells him that Hye-young must be a very lucky lady and he warns her that if she comes any closer he’ll jump. Unphased, Mi-jin motions for him to just get on with it, then. Hah.

He pours his heart out to her, going on and on about his pitiful circumstances. Mi-jin ignores all of this nonsense, choosing instead to play a game on her phone, because blah blah with the whining already. Finally, she asks if he wants to get something to eat, because she’s hungry. Yeah… for your liver.

Off they go to Last restaurant, of course, where Eung-seok watches her dote on the man before angrily pulling her outside for a little talk. Upon discovering that they met as the man was trying to kill himself, he sputters a bit, because to him, her priorities seem a little skewed. Why would a woman who has so little time left want to spend so much of it dating?

He says, bitterly, that there are so many people in the world who want to live but can’t; is death such a big joke to her? Mi-jin tries to explain her need to find a man but, not being in the know, Eung-seok can’t possibly understand that her desire stems from that very need to survive.

He stalks into the restaurant, where the man – whose name we’re not yet privy to – is eating (rather heartily for someone so eager to die), and orders Mi-jin and her ‘friend’ out. Nameless cries that if he doesn’t get to finish his meal, he really will die. Pfft, your promises don’t work on me, little man.

Mi-jin drags him outside and they run into Mom, who invites Nameless back home with them. Secretary Park jealously fiddles with the rear-view mirror and Mi-seon snaps for him to put his sunglasses on – I guess at least that way she won’t be able to see him watching her?

At home, Mi-mo and their cute next-door neighbour banter a bit as he plays basketball and when she catches him lifting his shirt to wipe his sweaty face – thus revealing his abs – she forthrightly asks him if she can sneak a peek. He agrees, but only if she reciprocates. Ever the fox, Mi-mo obliges by lifting up her shirt as Neighbour Boy does the same. They both end up with their shirts over their heads, which sort of defeats the purpose of an abs-bearing contest, so Neighbour Boy concedes and instead asks what her plans are for the evening. Hitting on guys, is her response. Him? He’s going to be preventing her from doing that. Hee, cute.

In the dining room, Mi-jin tucks into a plate of bloody ribs – presumably not human, though one never knows with her – as Mom tries to convince Nameless to forget about Hye-young and instead date Mi-jin. But no, it has to be Hye-young – though she isn’t pretty, she at least accepted him, multiple deficiencies and all. Mom makes concerned noises, but Mi-jin, as unsympathetic as I apparently am, just grumbles that he’s spitting on her food. Hah, I love her.

Mom switches to what I think is Old Korean to try to convince Mi-jin to take this seriously – she invokes the old ‘Do you not know your mother’s heart? Are you trying to hurt me?’ guilt trip that mothers everywhere do so well and Mi-jin, unable to fight such dirty tactics, yields with a sigh.

As Eung-seok locks up the restaurant for the night, he’s surprised to find Mi-mo standing before him. He tries to explain that whether he likes her or not is irrelevant: he won’t date her because he simply doesn’t have time for girls. Eek! My ‘going-to-die-soon’ radar is pinging again.

His assent doesn’t really matter to Mi-mo, though; she declares she’ll follow him for two hours a day until he gives in. He closes the gates in her face, but she spins around happily, declaring that she loves it when men play hard to get. She skips off and Eung-seok, having heard her declaration through the gate, mutters that their whole family is weird. Oh, Eung-seok, you have no idea.

Secretary Park, who’s been roped into looking after Nameless, lays down on the rooftop of his apartment building in despair. He’s not one to share his personal space, but he’s unable to deny Mi-seon anything, it seems, and so has decided to press on, regardless of his irritation.

Eung-seok sits alone in his room, locked into a staring contest with a bottle of pills. It seems the pills are winning, because Eung-seok reaches for them… just as his vision goes blurry. Uh-oh. The label says they’re Dexamethasone, which my awesome Google-fu tells me has something to do with chemotherapy. So, cancer? Well, as long as it’s not liver cancer. (I’m just saying.)

He pushes the pills away in a moment of bitter pique. Then, recalling his conversation with Mi-jin – peculiarly, the part about her need to find a man – he reaches for the pills with new resolve.

Mi-jin, too, sits alone in her bedroom, crossing the days off her calendar and musing to herself that, really, a thousand years isn’t long enough.

She answers a call from Eung-seok, who invites her over to apologise for his behaviour. But of course, apologising isn’t his real reason for wanting to see her: it’s more to find out why dating is so important to her, and why she had to choose a man with so little time left, himself. Mi-jin replies that she’s not too happy about it, either, but her mother pushed her into it, so what can you do? Er, say no? Just a thought.

Mi-jin warms up to the topic of humans and their need to complain to all and sundry about the pain they’re in. She explains that, in contrast, animals choose to suffer alone and finally concludes that it’s because humans, unlike animals, need a group in order to feel strong. Eung-seok thinks for a moment, then wonders if he’s more animal than human. Because he prefers to be alone? Aww, poor guy needs a hug. And maybe some smooches. (What? Like you weren’t thinking it, too.)

He asks what sort of woman she is and she replies, after a moment, that she’s the kind of woman who can only live on death. Eung-seok repeats her words under his breath as she smiles, perhaps thinking back to all the men whose livers she’s consumed. Ah, good times, good times…

Mi-jin and Mi-mo chat about the situation with Nameless, but it doesn’t take long for the talk to turn to Eung-seok, and Mi-jin lets slip that she met with him the previous night. Needless to say, Mi-mo isn’t all that pleased that after rejecting her, he then met up with her sister; Mi-jin is quick to explain that theirs isn’t a relationship between a man and a woman, and surely she should know, having been romanced by thousands of men over the years? You’d think, but Mi-mo astutely points out that she might not realise it, what with being a distinctly nothuman gumiho and all.

Mi-jin meets up with Nameless and a mystery guest: Nameless’ ex-girlfriend, Hye-young. And although she has no real romantic interest in Nameless, Mi-jin nonetheless bristles in her presence and her thoughts take a turn for the dark: she wants to tear Hye-young apart. Eep! Run, Hye-young, run for your life!

Hye-young, not sensing the danger and filled with indignation upon seeing Nameless, sits down and immediately says that she won’t take Nameless back, if that’s what Mi-jin’s after. Mi-jin, slightly calmer now, states that she asked Hye-young to join them in order to gain her approval… so that Mi-jin can date Nameless. Uh, say what, now?

Mom, watching from her car outside the restaurant, explains that even though the prey might not seem appetising, when an animal senses competition, the prey becomes important to them in a way it wasn’t before. Well, that’s perfect: if it works, Mi-jin will try to win Nameless’ heart (and his liver) simply because of the rivalry and thus, will gain her thousandth liver and become human.

Hye-young wonders if there’s something wrong with Mi-jin’s mental state (for wanting to date Nameless? Ha!) but preens and immediately reverses her opinion when Mi-jin flatters her vanity.

She gives her permission, but when Nameless starts whining about not knowing what to do in this sort of situation (to date, or not to date: that is the question…), she snaps, yelling for him to never whinge in front of her again, as it makes her want to die. She quickly corrects herself: no, she doesn’t want to die… she wants to kill him. Well, that’s something you have in common with Mi-jin, then.

Eung-seok also has plans for the day: he’s decided to ‘Do something meaningful’, which turns out to be wandering around his old childhood haunts, and taking pictures to preserve his memories. He enters a store he frequented as a child – followed closely by his stalker, Mi-mo – and chats with the proprietress, who turns out to be his former schoolmate and childhood crush.

Mi-mo gets up to leave, but is reminded by the proprietress that, in order to keep the store empty of customers, she’d shooed them all out and said she would pay for the meals they would’ve bought. It’s only when she reaches for her purse that she remembers an impulsive moment earlier… one in which she threw said purse away to prove her lack of pride to Eung-seok. Uh-oh. Grinning, Eung-seok thanks her for lunch and walks out, leaving her on the line for a hefty bill… and no way to pay.

Mi-jin and Nameless, meanwhile, are off on their date, which consists of an aegyo-filled game of catch-me-if-you-can. She takes off running and, though he tries to chase after her, she has the speed and energy of a gumiho, and it isn’t long before he collapses to a sweaty heap on the grass… calling in vain for Mi-jin, who seems to have disappeared.

Back at home in Seoul, Mom is aghast to hear that Mi-jin took Nameless out on a date and then abandoned him. Wait… she actually left him in a field? Hah, awesome. Exasperated, Mi-jin says that of course she did: she’s playing hard to get. Oh, honey… I don’t think that means what you think it means.

Kyung-seok arrives to cook for Mom and, when she mentions Secretary Park, he asks in French, c’est qui? (Who is it?) To further prove that eavesdroppers never hear any good of themselves, Secretary Park, hiding around the corner, translates his French into the similar-sounding Korean seki (literally ‘offspring’, but in this case, something similar to ‘bastard’) and the two almost come to blows, before Kyung-seok explains. Secretary Park clearly doesn’t believe him, as we next find him hiding in the bathroom… on the telephone to the French embassy. LOL.

Mi-jin pays for Mi-mo’s meal and sniffs out Eung-seok’s location; apparently he hasn’t gone too far and when she catches sight of him at a cafe, she’s propelled into another memory of her late husband – this time of the two of them playing together in a stream.

Eung-seok explains that he’d been thinking of her or, more precisely, their discussion on the importance of her finding a man. It had made him wonder what, in his life, held that same sense of urgency. The only answer he could come up with was organising his memories (what, before you die? eep!), thus the photography session earlier.

Mi-jin doesn’t think much of his mere thirty years of memories, but when he questions her, she covers by saying that he’s still young; he has plenty of time to make more memories. Hm, I wouldn’t be too sure of that.

Eung-seok points out the various landmarks and sighs that the field he once played in as a child has been built over. Mi-jin relates that once, a long time ago, that field had held a lovely stream… Ahh, so the memory of her husband wasn’t because of Eung-seok, per se, but rather the location? Interesting.

The two arrive at Mi-jin’s house, having discovered that Kyung-seok and Nameless are both there and, although Eung-seok wants to speak to Kyung-seok and knows the man is a few steps away, refuses to enter the house. He staggers off, clutching his head in agony, with Mi-jin gazing after him worriedly.

Luckily for Eung-seok, Mi-jin decides to follow him, as he collapses a short distance away. She picks him up and leaps from building top to building top and then – for reasons beyond my ken – decides to kiss him. If it’s meant to be the Breath of Life, I have to say: Mi-jin, sweetie, you’re doing it wrong.

Eung-seok awakens with a drunkard leaning over him and the vague memory of a kiss ghosting his lips, causing him to wonder if the one who kissed him… is the old man. LOL.

Mi-jin, tired of this wishy-washy to-and-fro with Nameless, takes him to Mt Jiri in the hopes of ending it quickly. As they wander deeper and deeper into the mountains – and farther and farther away from civilisation – Mi-jin asks him a hypothetical question: if they were to break up, would he really kill himself? He doesn’t take her seriously, but adds his customary refrain: that sort of talk makes him want to die. Really? Then you’re in the right place. Mi-jin points out a number of ways in which he could kill himself, but it seems he’s not that ready to die, as he takes one look at her earnest face and hightails it out of there.

Unfortunately (for him), he falls and twists his ankle and as she stands over his prone form, Mi-jin debates internally over whether or not to kill him. Her eyes flash from gumiho-green, to brown and back to green again. Ruh roh.

Eung-seok relays to Kyung-seok the problem he’s having remembering the previous night’s events: there was the rooftop and the kissing and the waking up in a strange place… But Kyung-seok chuckles and dismisses it as a mere dream, which does seem to make more sense, but Eung-seok still wonders… it didn’t feel like a dream…

Back on the mountain, Mi-jin piggy-backs Nameless and questions why he and Hye-young broke up. I can think of about twenty reasons, just off the top of my head, but he replies that it was because he was scared. He now realises, thanks to Mi-jin, that anyone can walk away, but you have a choice as to whether or not to let them go without a fight. He thanks her… and then leaves her in the woods to find and make up with Hye-young. Yeesh. She should’ve killed him when she had the chance.

Eung-seok is in bed, thinking back to the kiss and speculating on the likelihood of it simply being a dream. Later that night, he senses someone in the room with him and wakes with a start. There, lurking in the shadows like a teen-movie-vampire-wannabe… is Mi-jin.

Comments:

As of the second episode, I’m still firmly in love with the show and a good portion of that love is due to its tone. By that, I mean that although the underlying theme is dark, the moments, those very human beats, are not. There’s something equally lovely and achingly sad about Eung-seok’s melancholy, his need to remember and to be remembered and in Mi-jin’s desire to be accepted and understood, though she can’t tell even the men who claim to love her who/what she really is.

This episode, I think, makes it quite clear that Mi-jin is more gumiho than human; she sees herself as someone separate from the human race (which she is), even as she longs to be part of it; she doesn’t understand people and what makes them tick, though she wishes she could; she thinks of love as a game, even as she wants desperately for it to be something more.

Another thing that’s rather blatantly obvious – from the first episode, really – is that Eung-seok is ill and from his behaviour (and those pesky pills), we can safely assume he’s terminal. Is this the reason he pushes women away? And if so, how long has he actually been ill? Or is it really a holdover from his past life with Mi-jin?

And as for Mi-jin, why is she in his bedroom, watching him sleep? Does she just want to chat, or does she have another reason for wanting to be near him? And is that reason gumiho related (à la the fox bead in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho), or personal? Part of me hopes the reason is mystical, while the other part hopes she simply wants to spend time with him. Or perhaps it’s both.

Which brings me to a point I find quite significant (particularly given just how many kdramas treat the subject of doubles or reincarnation): despite Eung-seok being her dead husband’s doppelganger, Mi-jin does not seem to be conflating the two men. Or if she is and that’s the reason she feels so comfortable around him, it isn’t something Mi-jin is aware of – and so, as the audience, nor are we. It’ll be interesting to see if, as the show progresses, this influences their growing connection, or if the past will remain a mere memory.

 

3 thoughts on “The Thousandth Man: Episode 2”

  1. Keep watching. Its definitely more personal! Love this drama! Love Lee Chun Hee who was the reason I started watching this but now I have most love for Kang Ye-Won who I have never seen in a drama before And Hyomin, I was impressed with her in Queen Seon Duk but its not official in my mind; the child can act! Nothing but love for this show! And who cannot love the little doll poises in between chapters (or episodes as subbed)?

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