The Thousandth Man: Episode 4

We get a fair dose of angst when the reality of Mi-jin’s situation finally hits her and those around her… and leaves Eung-seok scrabbling for emotional purchase.

Episode 4

Our favourite Gu family are sunning themselves at the local watering hole (aka: swimming pool) and while Mom basks in the warmth and Mi-jin complains (saying that it’d be better to hole up in a cool cave on such a hot day, ha — a sentiment I would agree with wholeheartedly, by the way), Mi-mo plays in the water with Woo-hyun.

She seems to be warming to him somewhat; at the very least, she doesn’t want his attention to stray too far from her, as she becomes just a leeetle bit jealous when he admits that he needs a backup girlfriend, in case Mi-mo’s game of hard-to-get makes her actually, er, hard to get.

Their game is interrupted when Mi-jin is accidentally pushed into the pool and begins to drown (which actually led me to google whether or not foxes can swim – apparently they can, if you were wondering). Luckily, she’s saved… by Superman? No, no, that’s just the background music, and made all the more hilarious by her saviour pointing out that the water isn’t very deep at all; in fact, it’s standing depth. Mi-jin’s response is to sputter (literally) and ask for his name, like a good little fox.

Eung-seok, meanwhile, is having his head examined by his doctor, who asks if something good has happened; it seems his tumour has decreased in size, which the doctor puts down to a sudden strong will to live. Eek, because of Mi-jin? Because he now has something (and someone) to live for? But when the doc asks if this turnabout is due to, oh, say, love, Eung-seok is quick to deny it. Oh, Eung-seok; I’m going to have to create a new synonym for denial, just for you.

Mom researches Superman (aka Han Dong-il) and discovers that he’s kind, considerate and wealthy – there’s just one slightly odd thing about him: he seems to have at least one incident of misfortune occur once a year… most of them ending up with a hospital visitation. Mom pays no heed to that, however, certain that this time, this man, is finally The One.

At Last, Eung-seok prepares a meal, to Kyung-seok’s disbelief. When needled about his feelings for Mi-jin, for whom he’s cooking, Eung-seok gruffly points out that she can’t be anything more than a friend – she’s terminally ill, after all. Hm, takes one to know one, right, Eung-seok?

Mi-jin primps in preparation for her date with Eung-seok and, remembering his advice to not let Mi-mo know of their plans, tells both Mom and Mi-mo that the person she’s meeting is Dong-il.

She arrives at the restaurant and Eung-seok is all solicitous care as he shows her the wine and food he’s arranged to improve her health. She gazes mistrustfully at the vegetables but gamely tries a few – and promptly spits them out again. Hee, a girl after my own heart.

Mi-jin explains that she’s feeling ill and hurries off to the bathroom… and out the backdoor. Can’t say I blame her – I’d run, too, if a guy was trying to feed me nothing but veggies, soulmate or no. But it seems that isn’t the real reason for her hasty retreat: rather, Mom has set her up with Dong-il, and she gumiho-leaps her way across the city to the assigned restaurant.

Dong-il says that while he, himself, isn’t a fan of the vegetarian diet, he figured she would be, given her trim figure. Mi-jin mutters under her breath about this latest affront to her carnivorous tendencies and excuses herself… so she can get back to Last, and Eung-seok. When she slips out again to meet with Dong-il, she decides she can’t do this back-and-forthing anymore and tells Dong-il she’ll treat him to a meal another day.

She returns to Eung-seok with leaves in her hair and stubbornly refuses his (painstakingly prepared) veggie offerings. Instead, she drags him to a far more casual Korean restaurant and orders a variety of distinctly meaty dishes. She explains that foxes actually prefer intestines to meat, whilst gesturing to her soondae soup – and promptly chokes on it when Eung-seok wonders what foxes have to do with anything.

She takes him to the fox enclosure at the zoo and tells him that, unlike wolves, they have no pack and she finds their solitude heartbreaking, because, “They know they’ll die lonely.”

Mi-mo, angry at having been evaded by Eung-seok once again, bursts into Woo-hyun’s room, only to find him watching porn on his computer. Ha. She tells him to rewind it, then complains that it isn’t racy enough and clicks around until she finds something better: a file called The Mystery of Animals. He chortles and tells her that it’s a trick: it’s a documentary on foxes. Mi-mo, however, is enthralled  by the foxes’ long legs and elegant tails and at one point, actually has to cover her eyes at the sexiness of it all.

Mi-jin and Mi-mo meet on the treadmills a bit later – Mi-jin because of an excess of soondae and Mi-mo to relieve her sexual frustration. They both think of Eung-seok as they exercise, though, perhaps tellingly, Mi-jin imagines him as he is, but Mi-mo adds a fox’s nose and ears. They both increase their speed, as though competing with Eung-seok as the prize… but we all know that Mi-jin, being 1) a gumiho and 2) the object of Eung-seok’s affections, clearly has the upper hand.

Eung-seok pours his heart out over the telephone to Mi-jin, which is a little surprising, given his usual emotional reticence, until the phone rings and we discover that he’s been confiding in his mobile phone. Aww. He asks the person on the other end for a rather hefty loan (a little under ₩10,000,000, or around $9,000), payable the following day, then flops onto his bed, exhausted. Hm, why the need for a loan Eung-seok? You’re not… planning on buying the foxes from the zoo, are you? Cause that’d be cute, but a little zany.

Mi-jin stares up at the moon, lost in her own loneliness, and grabs for her phone when it rings. Her face falls when she realises it’s Dong-il on the other end (and not Eung-seok?), but she makes plans to meet with him the following day.

Dong-il waits in front of the elevator and sends one of the cosmetologists a smile, which causes her to lose all of her faculties and collapse into a puddle of melted bones on the floor… or rather, she would have, had Dong-il not swooped in to catch her. Hee, a fairly typical case of first administering the poison, then the cure, no?

He’s there, of course, to meet Mi-jin and he leaves a trail of hot-blooded ladies in his wake (to his apparent amusement; he’s not exactly unaware of his own appeal). Dong-il has prepared a contract for Mi-jin to look over, in which he promises to love only her forever. He explains that he’s looking for a long-term commitment, not a few casual dates, but the catch is… he wants her to sign a contract in reciprocation.

Mom is practically in tears of joy as she reads over the contract, but Mi-jin remains uncertain. So Mi-mo proposes that they add a little clause to the contract: that Dong-il will give the euphemistic everything for his love. Mi-jin agrees and dashes off to find Dong-il.

She finds him at a club, dancing with a pretty girl and getting a bit too close than a supposedly monogamous man should. She’s about to rip his head off (possibly literally), when she sees that he’s not so much attempting to date the girl himself, as he is setting her up with one of his friends. Thus deflated, she heads home to sign the contract… without adding that pesky liver-eating clause. Hm, methinks that omission will come back to bite you, Mi-jin.

Eung-seok pines for Mi-jin at Last, checking his phone repeatedly to make sure it still works, as Mi-jin goes out on date after date with Dong-il. He seems charming enough, but this is all moving a bit too fast, and something about him sets off my internal Creep alarm…

At Last, for perhaps the first time ever, Eung-seok is waiting for Mi-mo instead of avoiding her as though she has a communicable disease. She, too, finds this odd and rightly so: all he wants from her is information on Mi-jin, who won’t return his calls. When he voices his concern for Mi-jin – explaining it away as the simple worry of a friend who knows Mi-jin is terminally ill – Mi-mo tells him, fairly apprehensively, that the reason he can’t get hold of Mi-jin is because she’s dating. Ooh, that’s got to hurt.

Mi-jin is, at that very moment, mountain biking with Dong-il and when she complains that it’s too staid, he proposes that they try something a bit more dangerous: a straight downhill descent that’d be difficult for a veteran biker, let alone a newbie like Mi-jin. She agrees excitedly and he watches as she heads down… then falls off the bike and down the side of the mountain. Horror fills his eyes as he searches the hillside for her and brokenly, he murmurs her name… followed by the amount of ₩10,000,000, which is (suspiciously), the same amount Eung-seok had taken out a loan for earlier. Hmm.

Mi-jin pops up behind him, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and wondering what all the money-muttering is about. Dong-il stammers out his relief at finding her in one piece and though Mi-jin wants another go, he doesn’t seem too enthused and they call it a day.

At home, Mi-mo tells the family of her conversation with Eung-seok; Mi-jin dispiritedly wonders if that pesky three-months-to-live-thing is why he’s become so friendly and asks Mom what the difference is between sympathy and love. Mom points to herself and Secretary Park as prime examples, and it seems a clear-cut answer… until Mi-mo points out that sympathy can become love. Mom uncomfortably waves that sentiment away and Mi-jin sighs, thinking of Eung-seok.

Secretary Park calls Kyung-seok out for a little chat, mano-a-mano, and whilst entreating him to stay away from Mi-seon, lets slip that the Gu family will no longer be coming to Last.

Kyung-seok drops the bombshell on a startled (and hurt) Eung-seok, prompting Kyung-seok to ask why he’s so upset about the news. Eung-seok doesn’t think that someone with so little time left should be dating, because, “Those left behind would have a hard time after we die.” Aww, aside from his (fairly obvious) jealousy, the situation seems to be hitting a little too close to home for Eung-seok.

Mi-jin and Dong-il’s dates seem to consist of somewhat hazardous activities – this time it’s artificial rock climbing and Dong-il is dismayed to find that Mi-jin is quite resilient. Uh-oh, that doesn’t seem like a normal worry for a boyfriend to have, now does it?

In order to force Eung-seok’s hand, Mom and Mi-mo come up with a plan: they’ll make a reservation at Last, for Mi-jin and Dong-il. Surely once Eung-seok sees her with another man, he’ll have to give up on Mi-jin… right? Yeah, you keep on thinking that. I’ll be here in the corner with the tissues when your plan fails spectacularly.

At dinner that evening, Dong-il is visibly ill-at-ease, squirming in his chair as though ants have taken up residence somewhere uncomfortable, and sporting a cut lip that Mi-jin doesn’t comment on, for some reason.

Eung-seok sets their respective plates down disapprovingly and glares at Dong-il – causing the latter to flash back to their earlier conversation, in a café.

He’d warned Dong-il about Mi-jin’s, uh, expiration date and been surprised to find that the other man wasn’t all that upset and was, in fact, planning on breaking up with Mi-jin (something he claimed to be an expert in). Dong-il goes to the bathroom after cancelling a monthly insurance contract over the telephone and, curious about the man’s odd reaction to the news, Eung-seok snoops a little in Dong-il’s bag.

What he finds pisses him off mightily: it’s a contract for ‘lover’s insurance’ and the contract he’d had Mi-jin sign earlier is a pre-requisite to gaining the insurance. Ohh, so he’s a con-man? Well, that explains the yearly ‘incidents’ and why he jumped into a relationship with Mi-jin so quickly.

Dong-il claims to have really liked Mi-jin and Eung-seok, angered beyond measure, punches him in the face. Ha, that was so satisfying; my fist tingles just thinking about it.

Back at Last, Dong-il jumps at every small sound (because of the punch? awesome.) and wastes no time in tearing up the love contract in front of Mi-jin. She, of course, has no idea why he’d do such a thing and he at first tries to get out of it with his good image intact… until he catches sight of Eung-seok’s stern countenance.

He presumably tells her the truth, because the next thing you know, Dong-il’s racing from the restaurant as though his life depended on it (and it just might – a gumiho scorned and all that). Mi-jin sits at the table in tears and though Eung-seok tries to console her, she shakes off his hand and runs home.

Mom comforts her sobbing daughter, as Mi-jin asks – voice small and despairing – how love can be sold, like it’s a commodity. Mom doesn’t know, but she wishes it were true, because if it were, she could buy that love for her beautiful daughter, and keep her from disappearing. Mi-jin weeps as she reveals how very afraid she is and as she does, her mother holds her tight and assures her that they’ll find him, that thousandth man, because she has faith in Mi-jin. Ahh, stop, please, you two; you’re breaking my heart.

Mi-mo interrupts, uncharacteristically solemn, to let them know that Mi-jin has a visitor: it’s Eung-seok and he’s brought with him a small care package of fettuccine, food being the only comfort he can provide at this point.

Mi-jin refuses to see him and so Mom delivers the package to her, along with a message: that it was made for the most beautiful woman in the world. Aww, Eung-seok, look at you, stepping up your game!

It seems to work, too, as upon hearing those words, Mi-jin runs after him… only to break his little heart as she admits that, yes, she still plans on seeing other men. She thinks, as he walks away from her, that though she wishes he could remain by her side and that she could date only him, she’s running out of time.

Eung-seok, meanwhile, is also running out of time and realises that he wants to be with her for the simplest of reasons: he knows he’s going to die and has no real hope for survival, but… he wants to die happy. Awww.

Comments:

Oh, you two. At this rate, neither of you are going to be happy – just dead.

This episode really kicked the angst up a notch or four, not only for our main couple (though their portion was plenty, thanks), but also for those who are a little more on the periphery… like Mi-jin’s mother.

Her fear for Mi-jin, her utter desperation, was heartbreaking, as she fought not only to find Mi-jin’s thousandth man, but also to keep Mi-jin herself from giving up. For perhaps the first time, I truly felt the strength of her motherly love and it makes me wonder – again, perhaps for the first time – just how devastated she’ll be if Mi-jin doesn’t become human, if she simply… disappears.

As for Mi-jin herself, although we’ve always known how badly she wants to become human, she hasn’t really really seemed too vulnerable or too afraid of failing; now that we see just how scared she is, it makes me all the more worried that she really won’t succeed, and that bit more invested in her journey. (and, needless to say, that much more likely to be curled up into a little ball on the floor if she doesn’t get that last liver.)

Eung-seok, too, is revealing more of his vulnerabilities and the reasons why he doesn’t dare get too close to anyone: because he’s trying to protect them from the inevitablity of his death. And while logically I understand that, it’s such a lonely way to live and even – dare I say – a little cowardly, because he’s protecting himself, too, from the guilt and the pain of loving someone… and knowing he’ll have to leave that person behind. Though it probably doesn’t help that the one woman he’s decided to open up to keeps rejecting him for other men and won’t tell him why. But I guess that’s the danger (or, okay, one of the dangers) of falling in love with a gumiho. Plus side? You still have your liver, Eung-seok – for now, at least…

5 thoughts on “The Thousandth Man: Episode 4”

  1. “Oh, you two. At this rate, neither of you are going to be happy – just dead.”

    ROFL.

    That was so funny. It came off as a bit insensitive and sarcastic and I could almost imagine how you would say it. I shouldnt be finding that funny….should I? o.o buts its so true! Its funny in a bittersweet way because its the cold truth, REALITY. Does this make any sense? Probably not. Idk. I just found tht funny. You amuse me haha xD

    Here I was, close to tears because its so sad and I hate dramas where everyone dies, and then I read your ending comment and start laughing. Its like “Omo, he’s so cool! His pain is so profound. His dying wish is so touching!” and then I realize after that comment “Oh….yeah now that I think about it that DOES sound kind of dumb..youre both dying…sooo….” Yeah im not making sense…

    Ahhh im going crazy -_- right? Am i right? Im right.

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