The Thousandth Man: Episode 5

The jealousy bug bites down hard on all three of our leads, causing a bout of petty sibling rivalry and leading Eung-seok to make a few truly poor life decisions. And in between all the sniping, we get dates, car chases, pretty boys, dangerous vehicular maneuvering and… chicken feet. What more could a girl ask for?

Episode 5

Flashback: the General runs through the woods, sword drawn, hunting the gumiho, which turns out to be Mi-mo. There’s a fairly cool fight scene, with lots of flipping (of bodies and hair), which ends with Mi-mo injured and vowing to one day eat the General’s liver.

She slips onto Mi-jin’s property, bleeding profusely, and Mi-jin secrets her away. The General, however, is not too far behind and is, unfortunately a little too observant – he notices the trail of Mi-mo’s blood and is about to go after her when Mi-jin bites her own arm and, claiming that the blood on the ground is hers, urges him in the opposite direction. /Flashback

Time for a broody shower scene, as Eung-seok thinks of Mi-jin’s decision to date other men and then, with a new sense of determination, dresses for the day ahead.

He’s either gone crazy – a consequence of the tumour pressing on his brain? – or has decided to torture Mi-jin, because he calls Mi-mo… for a date. Mi-mo skips out happily, leaving Mom in a bit of a bind and forced to take her irritable eldest daughter with her to an important meeting.

Mi-mo gifts Eung-seok with more gum than he could possibly use in his lifetime (a callback to the previous episode, in which he gave her a stick of gum to soothe her pique – sort of like giving a child an ice cream to keep the tears at bay) but when he claims that he wants to experience the wonderful world of casual dating (before he dies, eep!), she becomes suspicious and asks point-blank if she’s merely a stand-in for Mi-jin. He doesn’t deny it, just smiles and asks if there’s anything wrong with that. Uh, I’m going to say… yes.

Mom’s important meeting, it seems, is to elect a new chairwoman for what seems to be a group of former gumihos. Mom thinks she ought to be a shoo-in as she’s the biggest donor, but her opposition points out that she has one fatal flaw: Mi-jin. What, why? Because of her abrasive personality, or because she’s still a gumiho? Or both?

Eung-seok and Mi-mo’s date takes them to a restaurant, where they feast on chicken feet. Yum? Eung-seok digs in, while Mi-mo examines the feet as though they’re about to take off running. She explains to him that although she isn’t pleased that he planned their date without any input from her, she’ll go along with it anyway. But in exchange, he’ll need to remember three things about her: she’ll come whenever he calls, do whatever he wants, but if he wants to split up… She chomps down on the foot viciously to indicate her opposition to that, and Eung-seok – poor, innocent Eung-seok – smiles, assuming that she means it’ll be a clean break. Oh, kiddo; you’ve so much to learn about women.

At home, Mom fumes over the past actions of the woman who opposed her in the meeting, Mrs Park, and remembers a time in the past where she’d chased after a man and was about to consume his liver when she’d heard the howl of a dog, apparently bearing up on her. She’d run off, leaving her prey behind, only to later find that the dog was in fact Mrs Park, whose talents apparently include animal impressions.

She snarls that Mrs Park used that trick many a time, and is still trying to steal from her – only this time, her theft is of the position of Chairwoman. Mi-jin, literal as only a gumiho can be, doesn’t understand that Mrs Park’s words about examining all candidates thoroughly is really a veiled condemnation of Mi-jin’s seeming inability to become human.

Mom points out the scrutiny the populace is under in this day and age, and that a person’s disappearance can’t be explained away as easily as it could in the past. She makes Mi-jin promise to try harder to gain that last liver and Mi-jin merely nods, the words as familiar to her by now as her own name.

Mi-jin wanders outside and finds Woo-hyun playing basketball with his buddy, Sung-kyu (Woo-hyun’s bandmate from the k-pop group Infinite). She’s a little down after this latest conversation with Mom, but when she discovers the boys have a test coming up on the Korean Middle Ages, perks right up – because if there’s one thing she knows about, it’s history.

Heading home after their busy day, Mi-mo chatters a mile a minute, exhausting Eung-seok, who rarely deals with women, let alone ones as talkative as Mi-mo. Mi-mo, too, is frustrated, as the reason she’s spent so much time talking is because he hasn’t: more specifically, he hasn’t asked her anything about herself, almost as though he isn’t really interested in her at all. Hon, I hate to break it to you, but… that’s because he really, really isn’t.

He sighs and decides that there is a question he wants answered. Mi-mo lights up, but almost instantly deflates, as his question, of course, relates to Mi-jin. He questions how two such different women can be related and Mi-mo retorts that of course that’s the case: you can’t compare a human to a non-human, after all.

Things go downhill from there, as Eung-seok takes her to task for speaking badly of her sister and Mi-mo, likewise, is angered by his constant defence of Mi-jin. She storms off, leaving him scratching his head at this sudden turn of events.

He chases after Mi-mo to apologise and catches up to her just in front of the house. Her attitude changes from irked to syrupy when she catches sight of Mi-jin, seated on the stairs with Sung-kyu and Woo-hyun. After aiming a triumphant smirk in Mi-jin’s direction, she tells Eung-seok that if he’s really sorry, he’ll ask her out on another date. She waltzes inside and Eung-seok turns, bemused, and finally notices Mi-jin. The two share a simmering look – hers of betrayal and his of guilt – before he hurries off.

While Eung-seok takes out his aggression on a chopping board full of innocent vegetables, Mi-jin quietly asks her sister if the two are dating and if so, who asked who out first. Mi-mo evades the dating question, but does let her sister know that Eung-seok was the initiator of the date. Mi-jin has nothing to say to that, and leaves the room as softly as she’d entered it.

Something about her sister’s behaviour makes Mi-mo uneasy and that feeling is increased when Woo-hyun knocks on the window, also curious about – and a little hurt over – the date. He grasps her arm before she can hit him and the firm force behind his actions has her viewing him in a different light.

The following day at the breakfast table, Mi-jin refuses Mom’s request to make a reservation at Last. But, not to worry – Mi-mo claims that she’ll do it, as it’s under her control now. Meaning… Eung-seok is? Yeah, I don’t think so, kiddo. When Mom tells Mi-jin that she could learn a thing or two from Mi-mo, it’s the last straw, and Mi-jin stalks out.

To her shock, though, when Mi-mo tries to make the reservation, Eung-seok refuses unequivocally. He reminds her that Last is a business, totally unrelated to his personal life, and that dating her was never really on his agenda; instead, he suggests that they meet up when boredom strikes. As in… when you’ve nothing better to do? Yowch.

She asks him why he made an exception for Mi-jin, then and he stutters… then covers by saying that he made Mi-jin a promise, is all. She takes this in with an air of disbelief and challenge and when she leaves, he rubs an exasperated hand over his face, as though wondering just what he’s got himself into.

Mi-jin is in the middle of a consultation – one she’s zoning out of, to the immense irritation of her client – and when she receives a phone call, tries to take off. Her client, unfortunately, attempts tries to force her stay (never a good idea when dealing with a supernatural being) by holding onto her collar and Mi-jin, rather than resorting to violence, instead swings the woman up in her arms and carries her to Mom. LOL! Mi-jin, don’t ever change.

The call, it seems, was from Mi-mo, who’s asked her to make a reservation in person at Last. Eung-seok is all smiles as he agrees to her request and the two exchange flirtatious glances before an incredulous and infuriated Mi-mo.

Mi-mo drags her sister off by the wrist for a little conversation in the girls’ bathroom. She fumes impotently and when Mi-jin protests that she isn’t after Eung-seok’s liver, Mi-mo strikes, saying:

“You stupid animal. You acting like a human disgusts me. Don’t act like you’re nice! You’re looking for a guy who’d give his liver out of love? I know you look down on eating random livers, but this is reality! I am a human and you’re an animal. Know your place.”

Wow. That’s cold and fairly cruel, particularly coming from Mi-jin’s own sister. And yet, contrary to those words, once Mi-jin’s left the restaurant – with Eung-seok attempting to follow her worriedly – she confronts Eung-seok regarding his feelings for Mi-jin and tells him not to hurt her sister or, she, Mi-mo, won’t forgive him. Hm, you are a complicated girl, Gu Mi-mo.

Seated before Mom at the beauty clinic, the girls engage in a round of passive-aggressive bitchery through an unfortunate third party (Secretary Park). Mom complains that they used to fight over milk as little ones and at Secretary Park’s query, snaps that out of a litter of four (“Litter?” wonders Secretary Park, to my amusement), Mi-jin came 30 seconds before Mi-mo and they were the only two to survive. Ah, so Mi-jin really is the unni? It’s only by 30 seconds but in Korean hierarchy, birth order prevails, so… tough luck, Mi-mo.

Woo-hyun is lost in a dark sea of self-pity; luckily, a few words from his pragmatic pal, Sung-kyu (who almost immediately discerned his feelings for Mi-mo and Mi-jin’s for Eung-seok), causes him to pick himself up and shake those salty doubts away, like the fluffy puppy he is. Commence: shower scene shaving scene! But… he didn’t look unshaven before? Does he even need to shave? I guess it symbolises his return to the cheerful, determined Woo-hyun of old, so I’ll overlook it. (Hey, smiling pretty-boys trump logic; what can you do?)

At Last, Eung-seok angsts over his (potential) relationship with Mi-jin; but, he, too, has a pragmatic friend in the form of Kyung-seok, who assures him (without really knowing what he’s assuring him of) that everything will work out. Eung-seok rushes off and is just in time to catch Mi-jin with Sung-kyu, who’s come over with a question about the Joseon era. I suspect it’s just an excuse to see Mi-jin again as, after observing Mi-jin’s eagerness to greet Eung-seok, Sung-kyu sadly bows his head. Aww, poor puppy number two.

Alas, Eung-seok’s jealousy gets the best of him, and he declares his intention to meet with a younger person, too: Mi-mo. Ohh, boy; you’re playing with fire, Eung-seok, and you’d better believe someone’s going to get burned.

Mi-mo drives a frustrated Eung-seok to the ocean at his request, but notices a motorcycle following them a little closely for comfort’s sake. It’s Woo-hyun and, though he begs for her to stop the car, she refuses and instead speeds up, leaving him in the dust.

But, no, giving up is not in his (current) vocabulary; he merely paused the chase to grab a megaphone from… somewhere. Woo-hyun yells something that makes Mi-mo slam on the brakes (literally): that she’s now his.

He tells her honestly that she’s the only one for him, the only woman who makes his heart pound, then climbs back on his motorcycle and zips off, leaving her dumbfounded. (And standing in the middle of the street, which is just… not safe.)

The ex-gumihos (and Mi-jin) meet at Last to discuss the issue of the new Chairwoman. Mrs Park tries – and fails – to prick at Mom’s temper, but Mom refuses to be provoked and answers every question with glib ease.

Things seem to be going her way and Mom is all smiles, until the current Chairwoman’s niece arrives with a bit of a bombshell: the doctor has examined her aunt and stated that she has at least 3 more years left in her, so there’s no need for a vote after all. Aww, poor Mom; all that campaigning and insult-withstanding for naught.

Mi-jin catches up with Mi-ja, the Chairwoman’s niece, and upon finding out that she’s not yet human, either, asks for an explanation. Mi-ja says that although she’d once believed in finding true love and in people’s innate goodness, she no longer does; she’s experienced too much of the world and humanity’s cruelty to want to become a part of it.

Wistfully, Mi-jin sighs that she, who still believes in love, would give anything to be human, even for a single day.

Downing shot after shot of soju in a seaside restaurant, Eung-seok mistakes Mi-mo for Mi-jin and tells her the truth: that he’s sick. He slurs that he can handle the illness and even his fear of death, but not this heartache. He passes out and Mi-mo, not being your typical female second lead, calls Mi-jin to pick him up.

Alone in her car on the way home, Mi-mo stops the car on the side of the road… and sobs as though her heart is breaking. Poor kid. On the plus side, she at least stopped the car first, so… yay for responsible driving?

At home, Mi-mo pauses to hear Woo-hyun playing his guitar and singing along (to Infinite’s ‘Missing You’). This launches her into a montage of her ‘moments’ with Eung-seok, which, amusingly, mostly consist of him treating her like a bratty little sister. She’s so lost in memory that she doesn’t notice when Woo-hyun stops singing – but she does notice the sudden back-hug and pulls his arm from around her shoulders, claiming that she loves someone else. To which he responds that that’s okay, because he only loves her. Say it with me now: awww.

Mi-jin takes a still unconscious Eung-seok to a beach with weird lighting and decides that being with him means she’ll have no regrets… even if she ends up disappearing.

Eung-seok awakens and embraces her, telling her that though he knows he can’t make her happy for good (because he’s, y’know, dying), at that moment, he wants to try… even if he only increases her happiness by as little as a single centimetre. Mi-jin cries silently and our not-so-happy couple gaze at each for a moment, before leaning in to finally, finally kiss.

Comments:

Wow. I have to say, Hyomin (Mi-mo) is really hitting it out the park. Mi-mo’s rapid emotional swings could’ve given another actress whiplash or, at the very least, made the character seem frenetic or unrelatable. But I find that, even if dislike what she says, I understand why she’s saying it… and I see vulnerability and depth beneath that shiny surface, which is refreshing.

I also really enjoy Mi-mo’s honesty and am loving that she and Woo-hyun are caught up in that earnest melodrama you only really feel when you’re young and in love for the first time. Or at least, think you’re in love, as I don’t believe Mi-mo really is in love with Eung-seok. I don’t doubt that she has a crush on him, or that she wants him, but she doesn’t really know anything about him. I think it’s more a Mr Darcy thing: she wants to be the one to melt his cold, cold heart, but doesn’t want to acknowledge that in this particular tale, she’s not Elizabeth Bennet.

As for Eung-seok… okay, after the last few episodes I understand why he’s lashing out and why he’s using Mi-mo to do it. But. ‘Dating’ Mi-mo is cruel for two reasons: 1) she’s Mi-jin’s sister, which, unless he’s a complete social moron (and I’m not discounting that), should make her off-limits; and 2) he knows that Mi-mo has feelings for him. Granted, he doesn’t know just how strong those feelings are, but he knows they’re there, so playing with her emotions seems kind of… well, mean.

Then there’s Mi-mo and Mi-jin’s relationship, which is interesting and surprisingly complex. Mi-mo actually reminds me of the stereotypical second Korean son: the one who tries really, really hard to be better (or at least as good as) the first son, but who can never quite measure up in the eyes of his parents. Mi-mo became human first and yet the one Mom caters to, the one Mom worries over and bonds with… is Mi-jin. To me, that just adds another layer to her desire to win Eung-seok: in doing so, not only does she get the guy, she also beats her sister. Two lovebirds, one stone.

(And speaking of stones, both of our leads finally grew some and took the decision to be together, despite their uncertain futures. What could be more lovely – and more human – than that?)

2 thoughts on “The Thousandth Man: Episode 5”

  1. Jules, I just have to say that I like the way you recap cuz I swear that youre in my head.

    I thunk some of the same things and there you go, writing in out in the recap.

    Idk why this show isn’t talked about more cuz it’s really good plus I like the cinematography and the acting from all the cast.

    NewsFlash to all idol groups: if you want to act in a show, please take notes from these groups/people
    1. Almost all the members of Infinte, why are they so hot and talented, idk but I love my babies, makin me all proud and stuff

    2. Mi-mo from TARA, this girl is on fire!!!

    3. TOP: enuff said plus my other Oppas of Big Bang

    4. The lead actress in Answer Me 1997, she’s in A-Pink, she was amazing.

    Now note that this list wasn’t that long cuz a lot of idols aren’t that good at acting but if you are an idol……….
    PLEASE PLEASE AND PLEASE TAKE SOME ACTING CLASSES!!!
    *just a word of advice from a theatre graduate

    Thank you Jules for your lovely recaps. And I apologize about my random rant about idol groups and their (non)acting ^.^

    Sarang

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